Craig Huntley

About Craig Huntley

Craig became a film fan at a young age, with memories of being told to leave the room by his dad when watching Alien and the chest explosion scene (but still secretly watching through a crack in the door). His favourite horror movies are The Thing, The Strangers and Halloween, favourite horror novel is Slugs by Shaun Hutson. Craig is an executive producer of LouCypher Productions short film 'Squeal' and upcoming documentary 'Horror in the South West' directed by Louis Du Toit.

Suck (2009) DVD Review

suckSuck (2009)

Directed by Rob Stefaniuk

Starring Rob Stefaniuk, Jessica Pare, Paul Anthony, Malcolm McDowell, Henry Rollins, Moby, Dimitri Coats, Dave Foley and Alice Cooper.

SUCK is out now in the UK on DVD from Fabulous Films!

Suck follows a rock band called the Winners, consisting of vocalist Joey Winner (Stefaniuk), bassist Jennifer (Jessica Paré), guitarist Tyler (Paul Anthony), drummer Sam (Mike Lobel), and French-Canadian roadie Hugo (Chris Ratz), along with their creepy manager Jeff (Dave Foley). As they tour across Canada and the USA Jennifer is turned into a vampire by Queeny (Dimitri Coats). A vampire hunter (who is afraid of the dark) named Eddie Van Helsing (McDowell) chases them down.

While on tour, one by one the band are turned into vampires. The band grows in popularity but Joey is losing interest in the vampire lifestyle. Joey tells Jennifer that they can become human again but they will need to kill Queeny. As they tour the country looking for Queeny the meet a number of freaks along the way.

Over the years there have been many versions of the blood sucking demon, some are classics like Nosferatu in 1922 right up to the modern day and Edward Cullen in the much derided Twilight. However you look at the way they have been portrayed most have had a new slant attached to them. Nosferatu with the long fingernails or Edward and being sparkly (Stop laughing at the back!). Suck, directed by Stefaniuk, of ‘Phil The Alien’ and the upcoming ‘Anxietyville’ decides to hit the middle ground and go for a more middle of the road vampire which could quite easily be pulled off with a decent budget at your next Halloween party.

suck1Often with low budget horror you have to be spot on with tone. You could potentially get away with a bad cast or script but if tone is not focussed, you will lose the audience. Suck hits it’s tone on the head early and continually gets it right. Focussing somewhere between The Rocky Horror Show and Idle Hands, both classic films. The tone is not too light to not make it scary and its not too dark and gory so you can enjoy it which ever way you like your horror films.

As the main cast are in a band, and sing original songs, another aspect of Suck that is well done is the music. If the songs weren’t catchy, this would drag you straight out of the film, but the music is played dead straight and I could quite easily have the songs on my headphones. In fact, the moment the film finished I checked on iTunes and the soundtrack is actually on there. Money well spent I say.

The main cast, mostly all Canadian actors work well with the material especially the main female Jennifer, played by Jessica Pare of Mad Men and Hot Tub Time Machine, having to play meek and innocent to start and be overly sexual once transformed into a vampire.

Being a metalhead for many years the film has a real kick in it with the various cameos from musicians. Alice Cooper plays an all powerful demon (with wings!), Henry Rollins a Radio DJ (playing well off his spoken word persona he now carries) and Alex Lifeson from Rush. The best of all the cameo s lies with Moby, I wont spoil who he plays but its played for laughs, Moby is clearly game, and runs with the role.

suck2Being a stalwart of the genre Malcolm McDowell plays a vampire hunter called Eddie Van Helsing, what a great name, and he is afraid of the dark. To me McDowell comes across as quite the serious actor, but in this semi-comedic role he plays against type and has fun. When I first heard of this film, I had trepidations. Was this film going to make fun of the two things I enjoy most, heavy metal music and horror, or was it going to enjoy the trappings of both and put a new spin on it? With the way the director shoots the film, the music and the acting I can safely say I was surprised by how great Suck is. I’d highly recommend it, and only wish it was slightly longer.

8/10

Black Water (2007) DVD Review

blackwaterBlack Water (2007)

Directed by David Nerlich & Andrew Traucki

Starring Diana Glenn, Maeve Dermody and Andy Rodoreda

UK DVD release – May 18th 2015 from Fabulous Films

Deciding to get away from the stresses and strains of modern life, Grace (Glenn) her younger sister Lee (Dermody) and husband Adam (Rodoreda) decide to head into the mangrove swamps of the Northern Territories in Australia. Deciding on a whim to go fishing, they take an uncharted boat out into the swamps to go fishing, but what they catch may not be a good thing.

Being a fan of ‘ monsters of the deep’ film genre, especially a similar film called ‘Rogue’ from the same year, I was looking forward to Black Water. These films rise and fall on a few factors, specifically characters and the actual monster itself. As example I would give you something like Spielberg’s Jaws which is well written and has a monster that only turns up for the last half hour but is felt throughout the film. This is where Black Water excels, yes the film is slow, and you don’t get to see the titular crocodile for large stretches of the film, but the crocodile is always felt. Whether it be a splash or ripple in the mangrove, there were times my wife actually looked away as the film got just a little bit too tense for her. The film is well written so when the crocodile is off screen you can still engage with the characters as their predicament goes from bad to worse.

blackwater1The cast, which is all of four people, are well cast and are all believable. They play well off each other and you are keenly listening to every word to find out what will happen next. The direction from Nerlich and Trauki is well thought out and bring a good sense of location as the film was filmed in a real mangrove swamp.

One of the extras on this DVD is a standard making of where they show how they integrated the animal into the film. The reason I bring this is up is because for a low budget such as this the effect is seamless and surprised me when the croc was there and wasn’t.

I was nicely surprised by this film and cant recommend it enough. Search this scaley beast out!

9/10

Village of The Damned (1995) Blu-Ray Review

votdVillage Of The Damned (1995)

Directed by John Carpenter

Starring Christopher Reeve, Kirstie Alley, Mark Hamill.

UK DVD & Blu-Ray release 27th April 2015 from Fabulous Films.

A reworking of the 1960 film of the same name, and taking its material from The Midwich Cuckoos novel, this film finds us in a small out of the way town of Midwich, California. A town with stereotypical white picket fences, tucked away at the coast, far away from the lunging beast of the local cities.

One day a strange force permeates through the town leaving everyone unconscious for long stretches of time. Everyone awakes at roughly the same time, unaware what has happened, but ten women have found themselves with child. Nine months later, nine are born perfectly (too perfectly?) but one is still born. The nine children grown up quickly, becoming highly intelligent before their time and soon turn their sights on the very beating heart of the community. Its up to a  doctor (Reeve) a widowed teacher, and the local doctor (Alley) to get to the heart of the mystery.

votd2Being a huge fan of Carpenter since his first foray into horror with the classic Halloween, I’ve slowly thawed to the masters output of the last 20 years, thinking his best period was between Halloween and 1988’s They Live. Watching this film for the first time, had me thinking about Carpenters work and the change in style and his direction through each film.

Looking at Damned with a critical eye I would put out the theory that Carpenter and his style was over taken by more to the point and exciting directors of the 90’s like Tarantino and Rodriguez. Damned has a look to it that is reminiscent of soap operas. The shots are so soft and over blown, its hard to take them with any sense of threat. Having not read the source material but in this films short running time, we get no discussion from the adults about the children, in why they are all blond, walk in two by two and why they all wear grey.

votd1Having been a massive fan of Superman, it was good to see Christopher Reeve headline a film again, and it was actually on this film set that he bought the fateful horse ‘Buck’ that would throw him at an equestrian event and change his life forever. He has the good looks, masculinity and charisma to hold the screen and is a well cast actor in this film, its sad in hindsight, knowing that he wouldn’t headline any further major releases, he is sadly missed.

In conclusion, I was disappointed in the look and feel of Village of The Damned, even with the touch of a former master of horror. The film could have been 20 minutes longer giving the story more time to investigate the horrors going on in the small time.

5/10

The Blob (1958) Blu-Ray Review

theblob1The Blob (1958)

Directed by Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr.

Starring Steve McQueen & Aneta Corsaut

UK DVD & Blu-Ray release from Fabulous Films – May 4th 2015

During a long hot summer night in Pennsylvania town in 1957, teenage lovers Steve Andrew (Steve McQueen) are kissing on a lover’s lane when they see a meteorite crash in the distance. Being an inquisitive type of guy, Steve decides to go and investigate. Nearby an old man (Olin Howland) finds it before anyone else. Poking it with a stick, it breaks open, with a jelly like substance pouring from it and attaching it to his hand. Running into to the road he is nearly hit by the oncoming Steve and girlfriend, who take him to the hospital, where ‘The Blob’ rapidly takes over the small town.

Having always wanted to see The Blob, I’m glad I held off till now to watch in high-def on this recently released Blu–ray disc from Fabulous Films(all new 4k digital restoration with an uncompressed monaural soundtrack). It wasn’t because of the first time headline film of Steve McQueen but because the film has such high regard within the B – movie genre, and I had high hopes which I didn’t want to dash. My worries were for nothing as the film is a stone cold classic. It does take some time in these modern days to ‘get going’ , lots of people telling us the plot in rooms, but once the plot has been laid out, The Blob soon overtakes any nagging worries I had about the film.

theblob2You wont be scared, or lose sleep over The Blob, in these ‘seen that done better’ days, but the concept and growing dread will keep you entertained. The effects for the day are excellent. Looking up on how the effects were executed still had me scratching my head (something to do with camera angles and forced perspective).

The Blob is everything a 1950’s sci fi/horror should be: fun, silly (catch the ‘theme’ song at the opening credits!) and ultimately entertaining!

8/10

Extras

SPECIAL FEATURES

ORIGINAL SET PROP GALLERY

ORIGINAL TRAILER

BLACK AND WHITE GALLERY

LOBBY CARD GALLERY

LOBBY CARD GALLERY

BEHIND THE SCENES GALLERY

You can purchase The Blob now from Amazon UK here –  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Blob-Blu-ray-Steve-McQueen/dp/B00TQTERFU/

Children of Sorrow (2012) DVD Review

cos1Children of Sorrow (2012)

Director – Jourdan McClure

Starring – Bill Oberst Jr, Hannah Levien, Whitney Nielsen

UK DVD Release from High Fliers Films – June 8th 2015

Desperate to discover what has become of her sister, Ellen (Hannah Levien) goes undercover in Simon Leach’s (Bill Obert Jr.) cult. The only information that she has is that her sister was last seen joining the group in order to find herself and become a better person. Ellen is welcomed with other visitors into the cult with open arms, and although sceptical and with her sister in mind at first, she finds herself drawn to Simon’s magnetism with messages of self – love and worldly acceptance. Ellen soon discovers herself being manipulated along with the other needy cult members into Simon’s murderous ways.

After Dark original Children of Sorrow is a pretty standard cult flick with an odd found footage quality. If you have seen many cult based horrors they can all quite easily fall into the same formula and unfortunately Children of Sorrow stumbles into this again and again. There are positives to the film but I wont beat around the bush the narrative continually stumbles from place to place making the structure hard to follow. The screenplay by Ryan Finnerty is almost to the point of being schizophrenic. I found myself watching the film but time and time again losing my way with what is going on.

cos2In terms of how the film looks the found footage style did not help either. It feels like director Jourdan McClure added this on just to bring something different to the film, but it ultimately fails, as found footage films must have a reason to be filmed that way and this one unfortunately does not.

With the found footage shooting style you are cutting yourself off to ways in which you can engage the film with the viewer. Now we have the restraint of ‘how is the character shooting that?’ ‘why is the character shooting that, when they are in distress?’. We do not get the answers we are looking for, just more questions.

cos3Cult actor Bill Oberst Jr leads the charge, bringing a strong performance to his character of cult leader Simon. He starts the film with good intentions but slowly takes the film down into a spiral of manipulation and into a very dark place. Other cast members are purely fodder for his devious ways, with great acting across the board, its a shame they don’t have better material to work with.

Being a fan of ‘collective’ films there are some good After Dark Originals, this is a lesser one of the group. Worth a watch but nothing else.

4/10

Bad Land: Road To Fury (2014) DVD Review

badlandBAD LAND – ROAD TO FURY (2014)

In Cinemas May 1st 2015

On DVD & Digital HD May 4th 2015 from Signature Entertainment

Director – Jake Paltrow

Cast – Michael Shannon, Nicholas Holt, Elle Fanning, Kodi Smit- McPhee, Robert Hobbs, Aimee Mullins.

Set in the future, America’s water resources have all but disappeared, with global warming leading to droughts and punishing high temperatures. With the general population, hiding away in cities, farmer Ernest (Michael Shannon) remains secluded and defiantly believing that his dirt is fertile enough to produce food once he can procure and maintain a good water supply. Wife Katherine (Aimee Mullins) is paralysed and in a local rehab centre near by so Ernest is left to look after daughter Mary ( Elle Fanning) who is at an age where she is madly in love with Flem (Nicholas Hoult) and wants to run away to a bigger and better life.

Son Flem (Kodi Smit – McPhee) is quite and unassuming and ready to follow in his fathers footsteps in locating water and making a better life for his small family. Struggling through the punishing conditions, Ernest hopes to bribe local water pipe workers to circumvent precious water to his land, therefore avoiding foreclosure on his land and getting the bountiful crop he so very much needs. However, Flem and his family were previously tainted by Ernest’s fair business practises in the past and is seeking revenge for damages caused, and worms his way into the families affairs, becoming husband to Mary and a much needed father figure to Jerome, who becomes immediately unsettled by the intruder, especially when he sees unhelpful behaviour from the interloper.

badland1Bad Land – Road to Fury establishes a gritty setting, visiting a well portrayed Western setting and landscape,providing an unconventional and workable home for Ernest and his dust encrusted family. A government of sorts exists in the world trying to placate the masses with water and food distribution, food being essentially foil packed goop. Ernest, having made some bad decisions and having made a mess of his life, is determined to prove everybody wrong and show that his land can produce crops and even alcohol which he distributes to the local community.

One of the themes of Bad Land – Road to Fury is failure,watching Ernest play out his life day after day, with the reality of the mistakes he has made in the past. His pride is important to him and he wants to prove to himself that the impossible can be done. The shadow of Ernest’s alcoholism is never too far from his thoughts as he tries to maintain a sense of his community leadership. This brings the movie into focus as you hope Paltrow doesn’t copy too many dystopian tropes and his focus lies in character and more intimate discussions.

A good addition to the flow of the movie is the ‘chapters’ of each section, seen from a different characters point of view, detailing each characters motivations and understandings. The idea is interesting and commendable, but it does feel a little unearned. Supporting characters don’t hang about when the screenplay might well have been stronger if their presence had been felt for longer. After a strong opening, the film stumbles, watching the director pay more attention to aspects of filmmaking mostly unnoticed by the casual viewer, the editing too strong and transitions too jarring for a narrative flow to be cohesive.

badland2A strength of the movie with a film this size is its visual aesthetic. While not overall ingrained in the film the touches of technology in the film are interesting. For example, on Ernest’s farm they use an walking aid called a ‘Simulit’ essentially a metal cow with a basket instead of a body, so items can be carried long distances, its an oddity within the film but a nice touch. Also, scenes involving a character who washes plates with ‘clean’ dirt is a novelty and a nice touch.

Other strengths include intentional or not, its homages to western genre tropes, like Paltrow’s tendency to show close ups on eyes and music ala Ennio Morriconne. With a small budget and a well known cast, Paltrow uses his script and characters very well.

7/10

Discopath (2013) DVD Review

discopath1Discopath (2013)

Director – Renaud Gauthier

Cast – Jeremie Earp, Sandrine Bisson, Ivan Freud, Francois Aubin, Ingrid Falaise

UK DVD Release – May 4th 2015 from Metrodome.

The début feature of Renaud Gauthier, Discopath centres around Jeremie Earps character Duane Lewis, a New York cook who goes insane any time he hears the low bass of the latest disco hit. The film is geared towards the horror gorehound who like their films low budget and their gore full on. I could see Discopath playing local horror film festivals and midnight madness style presentations.

Jeremie Earp plays Duane Lewis a sexually inexperienced New York short order cook where everybody’s accents play quick and loose with the location, sometimes slipping into a little bit of Canadian ‘eh!’ belying its actual shooting location. After getting fired and killing a lip smacking ‘lady of the night’, the opening scenes play out quick and fast setting the story out well, as the film and our main character hotfoots it to Montreal.

discopath2In Montreal, taking a new identity, and starting work as a handyman in an all girls school, he wears a hearing aid to fend off the incessant drone of the disco filled hallways. At this point, we learn that our character got his perversions from a childhood electrocution involving his father. Gauthier revels in the decadence of the 70’s with sharp suits and the latest fashions, but, as limited budgets go, the same song plays multiply times on the soundtrack (Walter Murphy Bands ’76’ if you are wondering pop pickers).

A favourite scene involves two local high school girls just about to strip down and get experimenting with kissing when Duane intervenes and decides to take the phrase ‘music from the heart’ a little bit too literal, using the vinyl of the day to make you squirm in your seat as the claret flows.

The film does have some flaws though and this comes in the way of two cops who give line readings so stiff they are practically suffering from rigor mortis. This takes away from the horror and at times feel semi-comical, making the film lose its way a little. The main aspect of the film that really worked was the score. Not being a lover of Disco (except for the excellent ‘I Was Made For Loving You’ by Kiss, which is included here) the score by Bruce Cameron is so John Carpenter it hurts and that’s a positive, the moody synth permeates most scenes and really works for the tone and look .

discopath3At the outset I thought it would be a chore to get through, but I really enjoyed Discopath and congratulate the filmmakers who had a good sense of story and never tried to pad out the length, so coming in at a perfect 75 minutes it doesn’t feel overly long or outstay its welcome.

7/10