Wednesday 17 October 2018

The House on Mansfield Street

d./w./p. Richard Mansfield; cast: Matthew Hunt, Kathryn Redwood, Daniel Mansfield

When Richard Mansfield upped sticks from London to Nottingham, he incorporated the move into this zero-budget found footager which is vastly better than most comparable films. Hunt is believable and likeable as Nick, a video maker who keeps his hand in with a documentary about his new house in the couple of weeks before starting his new day-job. The Victorian terraced cottage, which is Mansfield’s own (actually on Mansfield Street) has the curious bumps and creaks one might expect from any vintage house, but the weirdness on show gradually increases to moved furniture and eventually actual figures, caught on Nick’s motion-capture security camera. Editing the footage together, he looks for a rational explanation but can’t find one. A pleasant but slightly creepy tarot-reading neighbour doesn’t help. With excellent use of split screen and some nice location work around Nottingham city centre and on the city’s trams, this is another fine slice of James-ian horror from the Mansfield Dark label that will leave you genuinely creeped out.

Saturday 13 October 2018

Assassin’s Revenge

d./w./p. Richard Driscoll; cast: Steven Craine, Michael Madsen, Patrick Bergin, Bai Ling, Eileen Daly, Rebecca Lynley

Released less than a year after Grindhouse Nightmares, Driscoll’s seventh feature is a rambling, crime-action-noir-horror-superhero-vigilante hodgepodge with all the narrative coherence of a trailer compilation. Madsen (seen only in stock driving footage and one scene with Bergin) is an ex-cop hunting down millionaire psycho William Bard (Driscoll/Craine) who becomes Joker rip-off ‘The Comedian’ after his face is slashed. Bergin is a corrupt New York Mayor; Ling is an exotic dancer who springs Bard from jail; Lynley is Bard’s mother in a Batman rip-off flashback – and Daly is Elizabeth Bathory (or ‘Bathroy’ – inconsistent character names abound). Her irrelevant extended cameo – bathing in either milk or virgin’s blood – is bizarre, even by the standards of a film which seems to change style and plot every five minutes. Some scenes consist almost entirely of badly drawn comic panels with misspelled captions. Stealing ideas/imagery from Kick-Ass, Suicide Squad and especially Sin City, this was filmed (as The Black Knight) in Cornwall and Sheffield in January 2017 with a few green-screen days in LA. With Steve Munroe as a pimp, a teacher named Mary Shelley, a random raven death and Driscoll reciting the opening monologue from Richard III. But no assassins. Sequel The Kamikaze Squad is threatened at the end.

Tuesday 2 October 2018

Dark Highlands

d./w. Mark Stirton; p. Michael G Clark; cast: Junichi Kajioka, Steve Campbell, Fraser Napier, Aria Morrison-Blyth, Barry Thackrey, Alistair Richie, Lucy Philip, Mark Wyness, Mike Mitchell

Largely devoid of dialogue, this impressive game of cat and mouse plays out against the stunning vistas of the Cairngorms and offers something more than just a psycho stalker. UK-based Japanese actor Kajioka plays an unnamed artist who hikes into the Scottish wilds to camp and paint the landscape. He is targeted by ‘the Gamekeeper’, a masked and bekilted nemesis armed with a range of firearms, an RC drone and an unseen (for reasons which become clear but are, to be honest, fairly obvious) dog. Though never explained, a splash panel prologue suggests there is some supernatural element to the Gamekeeper who pursues his quarry at one inexplicable remove, taking him down each night with a tranquiliser dart and even erecting his tent. There’s all sorts of weirdness going on here, lifting what could easily have been a formulaic thriller into gripping, scary, mind-scrambling horror territory. Brian Cox provides brief name-value narration. Stirton and producer/DP Clark previously made ambitious sci-fi epic The Planet and black comedy One Day Removals.