Monday, 31 October 2011

Editorial : Halloween Tricks 'N' Treats 1 - Essential Cinema

It's that time of year again, when golden leaves dance in the streets on the biting Autumn winds. When shadows loom larger as all manner of ghouls, goblins, witches and ghosts come out to play, and when kids and adults everywhere recognise the customs of old, and celebrate accordingly...It's Halloween!

This is by far my favorite time of year. I love the ambiance, the sense of mystery, the long cold nights, the howling winds whistling through the trees. I love the store front windows filled with seasonal goodies; monster masks, macabre toys, creepy decorations and pumpkins of all sizes just waiting to be carved into fearsome Jack-O-Lanterns. I love the sound of children's laughter as they happily carry on the traditions of their parents. I just love it. Its the time of year when I feel most alive, and most content. You can keep your Santa, your Easter Bunny and your New Year Bells. All I need is a shrill howling wind in the fall, a bunch of Horror-loving friends over for drinks and a seance, and I'm about as happy as a man can be.....almost.....

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Review : Battleground (2011)



Neil Mackay

When a bank heist goes 'south' for Mr Pink, Mr Blonde, Nice Guy Eddie and....oh shit, hold up......

When a bank heist goes south for a random group of career criminals, they find themselves having to hide out overnight in the woodlands surrounding Michigan. What they don't know is that the same woods are home to a war damaged Vietnam-Vet who's watched far too many John Rambo movies. Cue bloodshed, bullet-holes and booby-traps....

You know those annoying, amatuer-ish reviews that spend half their time comparing a film to others in its field, without ever really delving into the film itself? Well, this is one of those. Sorry....

I'm gonna try to keep the comparisons to a minimal, but with a movie that wears its influences on its sleeves so proudly, its gonna be really fucking hard. This in no way means its a bad film. In fact, I rather enjoyed it for what it was. It delivers the, 'slasher/action movie', goods in its own humble way, while paying respectable homage to its admittedly far loftier peers.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Fright Night (2011)


Craig Gillespie


Marti Noxon (screenplay), Tom Holland (story), and 1 more credit »
In a suburb on the outskirts of Las Vegas, young Charlie Brewster's High School life is finally coming together. He has a stunning girlfriend, his acne has cleared up, and he's distanced himself from his nerdy friends. Yet kids are going missing from school, and soon Charlie begins to believe that his strange new neighbour may be responsible, and may well be a lot more dangerous than a garden variety serial killer....

I really didn't want to see this film.

I won't rant on about my love for the original, you can read all about my reasons for adoring it in my review here. I will say though, that my loyalty to the original clouded my mind on the idea of a remake. Its the sort of shit that puts hate in a mans heart...

The trailers infuriated me. The casting of Colin Farrell as Jerry Dandridge infuriated me. The damned setting infuriated me. This film had 'cash-grab' written all over it from day one. Over the years we've all suffered through abysmal remakes of many of our most beloved classics, but I actually assumed FRIGHT NIGHT was safe. After all, its name alone wasn't enough to guarantee huge box office. Its not NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2010 or FRIDAY THE 13TH 2009. This was a film beloved by a small pocket of discerning and loyal Horror fans, not a commercially viable franchise. So why remake it? Why not just create a whole new vampire movie and leave my cherished classic the fuck alone? It made no sense then and it makes no sense now. In fact it makes less sense now that I've seen it, as it basically is an entirely new movie.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

The Horror Hotel Cinema : The Gorgon (1964)

Tonights show is a rare treat, from the Hammer House of Horror, straight to your homes...

It's not a particularly well known work in the pantheon of classics. In fact, its actually one of the studios less revered works and its often overlooked even by fans of its genius director, the late great Terrence Fisher. Poor fools...

My relationship with THE GORGON is a long and strange one, that features psychedelic drugs, late night terrors, bad trips and 'coming of age' nonsense that I like to think is on a par with STAND BY ME, (its not). You can read about all that mess in my review of the movie, right here. So I wont waste your time babbling about my less than illustrious past just before the show starts.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Review : Pandorum (2010)


Christian Alvart


Travis Milloy (screenplay), Travis Milloy (story), and 1 more credit »

A pair of crew members aboard a spaceship wake up with no knowledge of their mission or their identities, and as they struggle to piece together the fragments of their minds, they come to learn that the ship is infested with an unknown life-form, and a vicious one at that...

I have a theory regarding film critics. I'm talking 'professional' film critics here. You know, the ones who actually get paid good money to sit through a movie? It seems to me that as soon as one 'established' critic, and I use the term loosely, writes a negative review on a film; the whole lot of em have to follow suite. It's perhaps something to do with saving face, with looking superior, or maybe its simply to do with lacking the confidence to enjoy something on its own terms without fearing the sacrifice of their standing. I don't know. What I do know is that every now and then I come across a film that I've read almost everywhere is seven shades of shite, only to find its, Sometimes even great.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Editorial : The Arachnophobic Five

Screaming like a big girl is something I am shamefully familiar with....

Ever since I was a very small kid, Ive had one longstanding, unending and totally uncontrollable fear- the fear of spiders.

Everything about these abominations repulses me to my very core. The cold cluster of eyes, the sharp fangs, the bristling hair. The way they move. The way they feed. I just plain fucking hate them.

Even the word, 'Spider', itself holds all sorts of evil connotations in my mind. It sounds wrong, nefarious, predatory, barbed and brutal to my ears. Yep, these horrible bastards were, are, and most likely always will be the fuel for my nightmares.

I think of myself as a pretty zen guy. I never kill any bugs, I let em go about their weird-ass business as they see fit. Hell, I even help em out when I can, (just the other day I gave a massive slug a ride to the nearest safe foliage). But Spiders? When it comes to these godless horrors, I would kill and kill and kill, till the whole damn species was wiped out. Only problem with my genocidal plans for the little fuckers is that I'm too damn terrified to get within ten feet of them. They had just better hope I don't grow a pair of balls sometime in the future. Hell mend em if I do!

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Review : The Loved Ones (2009)



Sean Byrne
After the tragic death of his Father in a crash in which he was driving, Brent has become a shell of his former self. Redemption may come in the form of his patient and loving girlfriend, but Brent has bigger issues to contend with...

Prom Night is approaching, and Brent has caught the eye of a quiet, awkward girl in his class. When he respectfully turns down her invitation to the dance, she devises a plan to make sure she has her perfect Prom Night, and Brent's going to be her date, whether he likes it or not...

I admit it. I honestly thought the much maligned 'Torture Porn' sub genre had ten shades of nothing left to show us. I mean, lets be honest, it wasn't really any damn good in the first place. I quite like a number of the films that truly deserve to fall under the umbrella of 'Torture', but at best, they've been guilty pleasures, and at worst, they've been HOSTEL 2. Pointless, banal, cheap and suffering from a severe case of 'No-Balls'. 

There are plenty of films that can arguably be fit into the sub-genre, which have real merit, meaning and worth. AUDITION, I SAW THE DEVIL, and MARTYRS all immediately spring to mind as films that transcend the label while being perhaps inspired by its possibilities. Now, its a stretch calling these films 'Torture Porn', and its actually pretty derogatory. These films feature prolonged bouts of agonising violence, but that's far from all they have to offer. A movie like HOSTEL 2, or the SAW series, (which I enjoy for what they are), are really little more than titillation for the gore lover that resides in most genre fans. Those films ain't art, no matter what your smoking. MARTYRS on the other hand....

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Review : Attack the Block (2011)


Joe Cornish


Joe Cornish


John Boyega, Jodie Whittaker and Alex Esmail

A teen gang in South London defend their block from an alien invasion.

Well, this is a hard damn film to review, I have to say. Its left me very torn as to how I feel about it. As a Horror/Thriller with comic overtones, it works very well, and has some very fun, and occasionally tense moments. It has a playful tone that keeps the whole affair bright and breezy and, as I'll explain later, it has some really cool looking creatures to keep us Horror fans happy in our twisted little worlds. Not much to complain about, right? Not so. The film has one major, almost fatal flaw that will turn off a sizable portion of its intended audience. And its a flaw that will only affect some of you fine people....

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

The Horror Hotel Cinema : The Horror Hotel (1960)

Ladies and gentlemen, take your seats...

For tonight's show we have a stone cold classic for you, and the film from which your ever-amiable Hotel manager took the inspiration (read : plagiarised shamelessly) for this very Hotel you sit in now.

THE HORROR HOTEL tells tale of a studios college gal who has a hard-on for witchcraft, and wishes to write an article on the subject. To get a greater feel for the macabre matter, she heads off to the remote village of Whitewood, where its said that a 'Salem-style' witch trial took place back in the 17th century. One which led to the burning of Elizabeth Selwin, an understandably embittered satanist. Before the poor kid even arrives in town, strange and creepy shit starts to ruin her day, and its only about to get a whole lot worse when on reaching her destination, she realises that witchcraft may be more than just fodder for religious nutcases and fairy tales...

Tonight's film is a simply stunning little lost gem. Its drenched in that fog enshrouded, spooky goodness we all cherish from the oldies, and, unlike many of the films for its period, this one actually remains genuinely chilling. The film takes some structural cues from other movies of the time, (most notably Hitchcock's 'PSYCHO'), and weaves them into a surreal, almost nightmarish narrative in which atmosphere is everything. There are hints of Lovecraft, a touch of Hammer, (the mighty Christopher Lee plays the college professor who sends our intrepid college hottie on her way to Whitewood, AND SHE TRUSTS HIM!!!), and a satanic feel that was finding its cinematic footing at the time of production.

The fabled town of Whitewood is a character unto itself, and is the source of the movies wellspring of dread and impending doom. And its beautifully shot, well acted and perfectly paced. And if I'm not wrong, theres a good chance that Mr Argento found some inspiration for the second film in his 'Three Mothers Trilogy', INFERNO. You just cant go wrong with this one, folks.

So, turn out the lights, crank up the sound and head on over to Whitewood for a taste of good old fashioned Horror. Just don't stay in the Hotel......

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Review : Red State (2011)




Kevin Smith


Kevin Smith
Set in Middle America, a group of teens receive an online invitation for sex, though they soon encounter fundamentalists with a much more sinister agenda.

It feels a little strange reviewing Kevin Smith's latest venture into cinema on The Horror Hotel, as to classify his new work as Horror is something of a stretch. RED STATE is many things, much of them good, but other than its initial premise, (which is soon discarded), its really not a genre film in any real way. It has some  violence, (though nothing too graphic), it has some semblance of torture, and it has a few decidedly creepy moments, but it feels far more like an action/thriller than a Horror. In fact, its a rather hard film to actually classify as falling into those labels either.