Sunday 21 January 2018

Welcome to Essex

d./w. Ryan J Fleming; p. Philip Scott; cast: Catherine Delaloye, Greg Burridge, Muzzy Tahir, Sarah-Grace Neal, Sophie Jones, Michele Reynolds, Jonathan Walker, Robert Evans

England’s most reviled county, titular location of so many awful crime films, is finally redeemed with this impressive micro-budget zombie epic that has moments of genuine brilliance. After a sudden zombie apocalypse, a handful of survivors set off for the coast, gradually losing members along the way. The boilerplate plot is leavened by fine characterisation, especially Burridge as the squaddie leading the group; both script and actor make him a believable soldier rather than a gung-ho actor playing dress-up. Locations, characters and dialogue are all distinctively local without falling into parody, and local support is evident in terrific scenes featuring dozens of abandoned vehicles and hundreds of zombie extras. With some enjoyably gory deaths, numerous moments of both humour and pathos, and a cameo by Russell Brand (sadly not eaten by the undead). The actual film runs 100 minutes but sit through the 16-minute credits for funny out-takes and great jokes in the text crawl. Mostly shot in 2012/13, four years of pick-ups and post pushed the release back to 2018.

Friday 19 January 2018

Blaze of Gory

d./p. various; w. David VG Davies; Cast: Juliette Strange, Nathan Head, Jade Wallis, Robert Chapman, Mark Ivan Benfield, Oliver Malam, Asleigh Gloyne, Simon Craig, Jenny Miller, Rami Hilmi, Susan Adriensen, Vikki Spit, Sandra Veronica Stanczyk, Victoria Broom, Emily Booth, Rudi Barrow

Unashamedly sleazy and sadistic anthology of sexual violence executive produced by Davies, based on stories written by Blaize-Alix Szanto when she was just 12/13. ‘Stories’ is stretching it as 10 tales crammed into 110 minutes, mostly based around extended scenes of bloody violence (with some good prosthetic effects), leaves little room for actual narrative. Recurring elements include knife rape, incest, VHS tapes and the Damocles Foundation, an organisation also in Davies’ Monitor. Originally planned as linked stories with a wrap-around tale, there are still vestigial connections between some segments. Shot between January 2013 and September 2015 by ten directors including Szanto herself, who was 20 when this was finally released. Individual segments played festivals as shorts. Strictly for connoisseurs of gore.

Details: 'The Beer Cellar' (Szanto): pub-owning couple hit problems because the wife is having an affair and the husband is screwing the kidnapped girls they keep downstairs. 'If You Were Here' (MJ Dixon): woman who was abused by her father hallucinates that he’s on a VHS tape and then attacking her. 'Sick Little Boy' (Simon P Edwards): schizophrenic young man is confused by feelings for his hot, abused stepmum. 'Young and Na├»ve' (Antoni McVay): young woman kidnapped by psycho stalker imagines her revenge. 'Abort' (Yana Kolesnyk): East European back street abortion leaves mother dead, baby alive; 12 years later it takes revenge. 'Snow' (Davies): fairy tale allegory as paranoid older women hires woodcutter to dismember stepdaughter. 'Masque of the Red Rape' (Robert Noel Gifford): nutter videos himself torturing young woman. 'Monster' (Andy Edwards): murderous young woman incarcerated in mental asylum kills staff and escapes. 'Precious' (Jason Wright): mother calls in team to exorcise possessed daughter. There is also a brief story among the credits directed by Chris Yardley.