Saturday 21 January 2017

16 British horror films we thought we'd never see

After a film is made, there can be a long gap before it is finally available to view. This can be for one of several reasons. Sometimes the money for post-production runs out; sometimes the film-maker's circumstances change; sometimes there is disagreement between various people involved in the movie; sometimes the rights are bought by a distributor who just sits on the thing; and sometimes the film is just crap. But even crap films need love.

Here are 16 British horror films from the last 20 years, each of which took at least six years to finally appear on DVD or online.

Six years

Dominic Holmes’ coulrophobic slasher The Clown was produced in 2007 and, after six years down the back of the sofa, eventually turned up on YouTube in May 2013.

Sticking with creepy clowns, James D Layton’s WebKam stars Brit horror regular Eleanor James as a woman forced to humiliate and scar herself to save her friend from a clown-masked psycho. Shot in Layton’s kitchen in August 2008, a trailer appeared five years later and the whole film made it to YouTube in December 2014.

The Haunting of Ellie Rose was the feature debut of top FX artist Tristan Versluis, filmed in September 2009 as Not Alone. There was apparently some sort of disagreement between Tris and producer Andy Thompson (Kill Keith, The Scar Crow) and the movie remained unseen until its retitled UK DVD release in October 2015.

Seven years

Sean Martin made The Notebooks of Cornelius Crow, an enjoyable amalgam of time travel and London myths, back in 2003 and it did play a few festivals in 2004/05. Its actual release was on the IMDB in January 2010, although that version has since disappeared, as has the one on Amazon.

Idol of Evil is a pretty dire sub-Indiana Jones archaeology adventure which was marketed as horror because of the demon-thing at the end. Directed by Kevin McDonagh of Birmingham-based Rotunda Films, it was shot in 2004 but not released until April 2011, after Rotunda’s second horror film, the bizarrely werewolf-free Lycanthropy.

Andrew Goth’s surreal horror-western Gallowwalkers became notorious, during its October 2006 shoot in Namibia, for star Wesley Snipes’ tax return problems – although that wasn’t the reason for the film’s subsequent disappearance. Additional footage was shot (by someone else) in Mexico in May 2009 but the film remained ‘lost’ until suddenly appearing from nowhere at Grimmfest in October 2012. The first DVD was the American release in August 2013.

In early 2009, AD Barker shot A Reckoning (aka Straw Man), a post-apocalyptic two-hander starring Leslie Simpson and Axelle Carolyn. The film was finished and reviewed but remained tantalisingly unviewable until April 2016 when producer Adam Krayczynski posted it onto YouTube.

Eight years

I first met James Shanks in 1998 when I was reporting for SFX on his work redubbing Gamera: Guardian of the Universe. He showed me footage from Devil’s Harvest, a supernatural feature he had directed the previous year with Brian Blessed and Julie T Wallace. It was May 2005 when the film was finally released in the UK, retitled Don’t Go into the Attic.

Back in June 2008 Harold Gasnier, an actor whose credits included Darkhunters, Hellbreeder and The Witches Hammer, sent me his feature The Demon Within for review. For years it seemed like I was the only person who had ever seen this supernatural thriller. Then, out of nowhere and with zero publicity, it appeared on US DVD in March 2016 as 666: A Demon Within. I may still be the only person who has ever seen it though…

Nine years

Dark Eyes is “a darkly comic supernatural-psychological thriller involving a drug crazed artist, his obsession for a Russian waitress and an office worker who has premonitions involving a murder near a fridge (much to the dismay of her fish loving husband).” Well now I really want to see this! Shot in 2001 by Andrew Spencer (The Casebook of Eddie Brewer) this was made available on Spencer’s website in September 2010 but has since vanished again.

Daniel Grant’s Evil Dead-influenced Dark Night was first screened in July 2006 so must have been filmed some time before then. Nine years later, in March 2015, this became the first British film given a legitimate release via BitTorrent.

Ten years

Simon Cox’s debut feature Driven concerns an author who discovers that a serial killer is copying the events of his latest book. Shot in 1999 (or possibly 1998), this became available to buy through Cox’s website in April 2009 (retitled Written in Blood) – and still is, as far as I know. No stranger to long-term projects, Cox has been working on his sci-fi epic Kaleidoscope Man since at least 2008.

Susannah Gent’s Cronenbergian body horror Jelly Dolly, about a woman who finds a zip in her belly button, is variously listed as a 2004 or 2006 film. It was actually shot back in 2000, and although it played a few festivals in 2004, the DVD release was not till April 2010.

Through the Looking Glass, directed by Craig Griffith in 2002, is not a Lewis Carroll adaptation. Rather it is “a psychological horror detailing one man's journey into obsession, madness, fear and death.” It played festivals in 2007/08 and finally appeared on DVD when Griffith started selling it through CreateSpace in October 2012

Low-budget vampire feature Blood Relative was directed by Miles Richardson (son of Sir Ian) back in 2004. It sat unseen for a decade until, for no apparent reason it was dusted off, cut from 80 minutes down to 60, and posted onto YouTube in October 2014.

After his two ‘Ken Loach meets George Romero’ films I, Zombie and Dead Creatures, Andrew Parkinson’s third film was the weird psychosexual mutant mermaid picture Venus Drowning. Andy shot this in Norfolk in early 2004 and it played festivals in 2006 but then disappeared. Eventually Julian Richards’ Jinga Films released all three of Andy’s movies as a loose ‘trilogy’ in February 2014.


  1. Hi MJ! Whilst we are on the topic of unreleased films I remember mention on your blog of an unreleased film that featured the unlikely combo of Danny Dyer and Sylvester McCoy. The film also I believe featured Stephen Graham. Any ideas what this could be?

    1. That would be this bad boy: