Sunday 23 September 2018
Curious second feature from the director of Children of the Lake. Ball (Hazell to viewers of a certain age) plays stage magician Merlin who may be the real thing. For the first hour this is a local politics drama about plans for a new estate involving a corrupt councillor, a dodgy builder and a juvenile delinquent trying to save his gran’s house – all of whom want Merlin’s magical help. The titular enchantress is Merlin’s stepson’s girlfriend Vivianne (Llewellyn: Mina Harker in Penny Dreadful) who returns from India, announcing that her boyfriend Davie died in a bus crash. In the final act this takes a turn into Monkey’s Paw territory with Vivianne persuading Merlin to bring back Davie, plus assorted deaths and two characters turned into gerbils! Technically fine with a decent cast of TV actors, the film’s main problem is that it just takes too long to become interesting. Shot in 2010 as The Death of Merlin, this premiered in Houston in April 2013.
Sunday 16 September 2018
d./w./p. Ian Lewis; cast: Abigail McKern, Eleanor Howell, Ben Cartwright, Charlotte Ammerlaan, Anita Elias, Kevin Analuwa, Yvonne Riley
Intriguing and original ghost story bolstered by some strong acting which more than makes up for a few cut-price visual effects. Joanne and Nick are small-time crooks running a fake psychic/burglary racket who need to hide somewhere when a victim’s son rumbles them. Abandoning their car, they find an isolated house beside a lake. This is home to young, confident Naiad and Queenie, who is convinced that Joanne is her long-lost daughter. The complex story involves a portal to another realm, with Joanne an intrinsic part of the tale and Nick the sceptical mortal caught up in it all. Two ghostly children pop up occasionally. The gradual build-up of spookiness is well-handled in Lewis’ script and direction, with all three leads taking the material seriously. Rumpole offspring McKern is particularly good as the enigmatic Queenie. Lewis’ only other feature was the equally obscure Enchantress. Originally released on the now defunct Indiereign website in June 2008, this has been unavailable for some years and deserves another chance.
Sunday 9 September 2018
d./w. Tony Newton, Sam Mason Bell; p. Tony Newton, Sam Mason Bell; cast: Martin W Payne, Cindy Valentine, Simon Berry, Chris Mills, Rebecca Rolph, Sam Mason-Bell
A very, very, very strange film, Toxic Schlock promises zombies but they only appear (pretty much out of nowhere) in the last 20 minutes. Three eco-terrorists hole up in an isolated beach-front guest-house owned by an unconvincing transvestite and a squeaky-voiced child-woman (with a Scooby-Doo gimp chained up downstairs). The Seaside Strangler – a naked, clown-faced serial killer – is at large. Too much time is spent on long, talkie scenes that play like comedy sketches without actually being funny. Every so often a new character enters and announces their identity like a bad stage thriller. Eventually the zombies appear and the child-woman turns, without explanation, into a cross between Harley Quinn and The Bride, leading to a largely wordless, stylish, chambara-influenced last five minutes – vastly different to (and better than) anything that has gone before. Distributed by Troma, with Uncle Lloyd and former Michael J Murphy associate Phil Lyndon providing radio announcer voices. Filmed in Clacton and Southsea in 2017.
- Available to watch on TromaNow