Hunting Grounds (2015) Review

rsz_hg1HUNTING GROUNDS (2015) aka Valley of the Sasquatch

Starring Bill Oberst jr, Miles Joris-Peyrafitte, Jason Vail and David Saucedo

Written & Directed by John Portanova

A father, his son, and his two old friends arrive at an isolated cabin for a weekend of hunting. A trip deep into the forest looking for wild game uncovers a tribe of Sasquatch who are determined to protect their land“.

Bigfoot movies have been making a quiet resurgence recently, with Willow Creek, Exists and countless other DTV titles appearing in the past few years. While Willow Creek did very little for me, spending the whole runtime building great tension but point blank refusing to pay it off, I did have a lot of fun with Exists, which went the more kitchen sink fun route. It still had its flaws, but I enjoyed it.

New to the table is Hunting Grounds, aka Valley of the Sasquatch. And while it’s not perfect by a long shot, it gets enough right to be worth a recommendation.

rsz_hg2The story focuses on the troubled relationship between Roger (Vail) and his son Michael (Joris-Peyrafitte). After the recent death of Michaels mother, their very contrasting personalities are brought to the forefront and causing a strain. Michael wants to go to college and make something of his life, while Roger insists they simply can’t afford it. They drive out into the woods to spend some quality time together, with Uncle Will (D’Angelo Midili) and and asshole hanger on Sergio (Saucedo). But as they venture deeper into the forest, they find out they are on the menu of a clan of savage Sasquatch, and must work together to survive.

I want to focus on how enjoyable Hunting Grounds was so I’ll briefly mention its problems first. The main one for me was the character of Sergio. It’s not the fault of the actor, but the script inserts him to be a huge prick from the get-go, and he kind of drags the other characters with him simply because they don’t chin him straight away! Some of the pacing is a little sluggish, and the score has a real Lifetime Channel feel most of the way. Also, many of the night time scenes are too dark, making some of the action incomprehensible. And finally, lets face it, this one does nothing new. The story beats, the characters, many of the situations, we’ve seen before elsewhere…

rsz_hg3HOWEVER, there is something to be said about doing something we’ve seen before but well, and that’s what happens in Hunting Grounds. The performances are very capable, and the father son dynamic is well thought out, and contrasts nicely when the family of Bigfoot’s lay siege. Which brings me to another aspect, the FAMILY of beasts. It’s hard enough to survive against one in many films, so adding more really heightens the stakes. The man-in-suit FX can be hit and miss, but that adds a level of B Movie charm to it all.

After a slow start, director Portanova really lays his cards on the table, with showdown after showdown in an entertaining man vs nature story that is much more than a SyFy Channel special. Stick with it, and you’ll find an engaging, if derivative creature feature.


SEED OF CHUCKY, THE DIVIDE & DAYBREAKERS amongst Horror Channel premieres for May 2017

horrorchannellogoSEED OF CHUCKY, THE DIVIDE & DAYBREAKERS amongst Horror Channel premieres for May 2017

Horror Channel has eight prime-time weekend film premieres this May including the network premieres for Don Mancini’s killer-dolls spin-off SEED OF CHUCKY, starring Brad Dourif, Jennifer Tilly & Billy Boyd, Xavier Gen’s unsettling post-apocalyptic horror THE DIVIDE and the epic vampire-battling DAYBREAKERS, starring Eithan Hawke and Willem Dafoe.

There are also UK premieres of José Manuel Cravioto’s pulse-pounding thriller BOUND TO VENGEANCE and Mary Lambert’s evil-spirited gripper URBAN LEGENDS: BLOODY MARY.  Other highlights are first channel showings for Stephen Kay’s monster in the closet chiller BOOGEYMAN, Jamie Blanks’ teen slasher URBAN LEGEND and Ryuhei Kitamura’s mystery-man rampaging NO ONE LIVES.

Full details of premieres in transmission order:

Boogeyman-WEB2Fri 5 May @ 21:00 – BOOGEYMAN (2005) *Network Premiere

Tim (Barry Watson) is haunted by traumatic memories from his past, linked to the death of his father. Desperate to resolve his issues, he returns to the house where he grew up. But while Tim wants to convince himself the ghostly memories he carries are just a figment of his imagination, he is plagued by a crippling fear that can only be resolved by facing up to the ‘Boogeyman’.  Also features Lucy Lawless.

Sat 6 May @ 22:50 – DAYBREAKERS (2009) *Network Premiere

In the year 2019, a plague has transformed almost every human into a vampire. Faced with a dwindling blood supply, the fractured dominant race plots their survival. Meanwhile, a researcher works with a covert band of the undead on a way to save humankind. This classy chiller is packed with many disparate genre influences, not to mention a fine performance from Ethan Hawke and a truly fun turn by Willem Defoe as a futuristic Van Helsing with a Big Secret.

rsz_urban_legend-web2Fri 12 May @ 21:00 – URBAN LEGEND (1998) *Network Premiere

Students at New England’s Pendleton College have their own urban legend — 30 years ago, a demented professor killed six students and then committed suicide in Stanley Hall. But when a real series of strange deaths begins occurring on campus, assertive student Natalie (Alicia Witt) suspects they’re murders based on urban legends and soon realises she’s the next number in the killer’s body count. A starry cast includes Robert Englund, Jared Leto, Tara Reid, Joshua Jackson and Brad Dourif.

Sat 13 May @ 21:00 – BOUND TO VENGEANCE (2015) *UK TV Premiere

A young woman, Eve (Tina Ivlev), is held captive in the basement of a sexual predator (Richard Tyson). Against the odds, she fights back, and manages to escape her malicious abductor. However, after discovering she may not be the only victim, Eve unravels a darker truth and decides to turn the tables on her captor. A subversive revenge tale with an unusual twist.

rsz_urbanlegends-bloodymary-web1Fri 19 May @ 21:00 – URBAN LEGENDS: BLOODY MARY (2005) *UK TV Premiere

A homecoming-night dare turns into a runaway nightmare for a trio of high-school friends who unleash an evil spirit in this terrifying entry in the Urban Legends series from Pet Sematary director Mary Lambert. Abducted by a group of high-school jocks, the trio, although rescued, witness their tormentors falling prey to a deadly but unseen menace. Could it be their imagination or could the spirit of Bloody Mary truly have returned from the grave to seek vengeance? This is the third and final instalment in the Urban Legend series

Sat 20 May @ 22:55 – NO ONE LIVES (2012) *Network Premiere

Fourteen students are murdered and the crime scene offers no clues as to the whereabouts of the one person who could be the only survivor. Months later a gang of robbers screw up their latest heist and mug a couple in a car instead. What they realise too late is that the driver is the killer responsible for the student massacre. Then it’s Psycho vs. Psychos in a taut, tension-laden cat-and-mouse chiller that sees both sides trying to outdo the other.

rsz_seedofchucky-web3Fri 26 May @ 21:00 – SEED OF CHUCKY (2004) *Network Premiere

Billy Boyd voices Glen, the orphan doll offspring of the irrepressible devilish-doll-come-to-life Chucky (again voiced by Brad Dourif) and his equally twisted bride Tiffany (voiced by Jennifer Tilly). Glen heads for Hollywood, where he brings his bloodthirsty parents back from the dead. Much to his horror they go on a spree of murderous mayhem. Cult film director John Waters makes an appearance, as does hip-hop artist Redman. This is the fifth in the popular series of Chucky (Child’s Play) horror comedies and is directed by franchise creator and writer of all five films, Don Mancini.

Sat 27 May @ 22:45 – THE DIVIDE (2011) *Network Premiere

From Xavier Gens, director of Frontier(s), this post-apocalyptic shocker explores the nightmare unravelling of humanity under the most extreme circumstances imaginable when New York City is decimated in a nuclear holocaust. As the survivors sit in the makeshift fallout shelter the ‘divide’ begins. With no one knowing the evil each person in the group is capable of, trust issues arise, paranoia emerges, factions form and values are debased in a brutal and visceral vision of a broken future. Stars Rosanna Arquette, Milo Ventimiglia, Michael Biehn and Lauren German.

Sky 319 / Virgin 149 / Freesat 138 / Freeview 70 | |

Alien Day – April 26th 2017

alienbanner-625x350Alien Day – April 26th 2017

That’s right folks, on April 26th 2017, the 2nd Alien Day will be upon us, and this year, its an extra special celebration, with the brand new film in the franchise ‘Alien: Covenant’ set for release on May 19th in theatres around the world.

So whats actually happening on Alien Day?

At select cinemas round the UK, namely Odeon, Vue, AMC and Cineworld cinemas will be showing Prometheus, and the directors cut of Alien.
An added special feature that everyone will get, is a 14 minute preview, of bridged footage from Alien Covenant.

cineworldHO00004500 - Edited (1)To be one of the special people who gets access to all this Alien goodness, you can buy what is being called the ‘Alien Superticket’
On top of getting a double bill of Alien films, and Alien: Covenant footage, the price of the ticket (varies between cinemas) includes entry to a special screening of the brand new Alien: Covenant on May 11th!! Thats right, you will see the film 8 days before general release.

To get details of the Alien Day festivities in your area, what films are being shown & show times, check the links below:


For anyone like myself who was born after the cinematic release of Alien, this is an amazing opportunity to see the film in full HD quality picture and sound. I can’t wait!
Get your tickets now!

Garden of Fiends: Tales of Addiction Horror – Book Review

gofGarden of Fiends: Tales of Addiction Horror – Book Review

Garden of Fiends pulls together eight tales of addiction blended with horror. Now you might think that addiction is horrid enough on its own, and you’re right. Only in this collection, editor Mark Matthews has selected stories which draw on real life, but don’t rely on it for the horror elements. There are tales of demons and ghosts here, all bound to the struggles addictions bring with them.

Opening with A Wicked Thirst by Kealan Patrick Burke, you’re immediately thrown into a world of panic, where a date is juxtaposed with a brutal drowning. This reads like the returning memories of a blacked-out drunk, with events gradually falling into place as the harrowing story goes on. I had to take a break by the end of this one, it’s a hell of an opener.

The One in the Middle by Jessica McHugh is a hard-to-stomach tale of addicts at their lowest point, forced to sell flesh to a cannabalistic high society. There’s a hint of Burroughs about this one, with sci-fi elements meeting the down & dirty everyday horror, in a city trying not to repeat its own mistakes.

Everywhere You’ve Bled and Everywhere You Will by Max Booth III involves a bleeding body part and a horrific tragedy involving shared illness. This goes past the point of horror into mind-fucking insanity. A skilful blend of many horrors.

First, Just Bite a Finger by Johann Thorsson is a flash fiction piece about being addicted to cannibalism, and it’s a short-sharp shock of a metaphor, feeding into the worries that peer pressure brings.

Last Call by John FD Taff features an ex-alcoholic coasting through life without respecting his journey to quick sobriety. The horror here comes right at the end, less brutal and more tragic.

Torment of the Fallen by Glen Krisch involves a daughter trying to reconnect with her estranged father. You’ll definitely feel the pain of finding a loved one devastated by drugs here, only there’s demonic forces at work too, which hopefully you’ll never feel. Unless you like the idea of being eaten alive by rats?

Garden of Fiends by Mark Matthews is quite simply, a heartbreaker. Here, a father tries to pull his daughter away from an addictive relationship, drifting too close to her world for his own good. The horror and despair conjured by this novella-length offering has tinges of the supernatural to accentuate the horror of loss.

The collection ends with Returns by Jack Ketchum, a ghost story less about addiction than the others, but listen, it’s Ketchum. You know you’re not coming out the other side of this one with a smile. It’ll move you before the midway point, and if you’re a cat person, it might just ruin you.

That rare themed anthology that offers a great selection of stories with no duds, I would fully recommend Garden of Fiends to any horror fan. None of the stories here are frivolous, they all respect addiction for what it is, and that means you’re not in for an easy read. That said, it’s still an essential purchase for the short story aficionado.

Score: 10/10

Amazon US:
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And you can follow Wicked Run Press @WickedRunPress