Dan Lacey

About Dan Lacey

Dan became a horror fan at an early age when his dad would wake him up in the early hours to watch Hammer Horror and Vincent Price movies. His favorite horror movies are The Fog and An American Werewolf in London, his favorite horror novel is The Keep by F Paul Wilson. Dan has written and had produced the second episode of Osiris, titled Osirian Enemy, for EverybodyElse Productions. www.thedraculachronicles.net

Ash vs Evil Dead – Season One Overview

avsed1

Ash vs Evil Dead – Season One Overview

Love it or loath it Fede Alvarez’s Evil Dead was, until now, the closest we would get to a follow up to Army of Darkness. For some it was a mere retread, others a brutal ‘re-imagining’. For me it was ‘ok’ but then I sat through the credits and was treated to a post credits stinger of Bruce Campbell in shadow, turning to the camera and uttering ‘Groovy’. Smiling, I asked myself, “What was this, a set up for a sequel/cross-over, something just to keep the fans happy?” I didn’t care as finally, even in a tiny way, I saw Ash on the big screen. All I had to do was wait. Two years later I, and fans of the film series worldwide, were finally given what we always wanted….Ash vs Evil Dead.

Ash vs Evil Dead was commissioned for 10 half hour long episodes which catch up with Ash 30 years after the events of Evil Dead and Evil Dead II. Unfortunately, Universal Studios retain the rights to Army of Darkness and the events therein can’t be referenced. However, the Ashley J Williams we meet in 2015 is the same smart arse, cocky idiot we last saw battling the medieval dead.

avsed2So, Season One….

I will try and avoid any major spoilers as, at the moment of typing, the show is only available to UK fans via Virgin Media On Demand.

Ash is still a store boy and his life, well, it’s pretty shit. His only friend at work is Pablo (Ray Santiago) and his only release from the boredom of that life is to get shitfaced and have sex with strangers in the local bar. In a brief flashback scene we realise that Ash, still holding on to the Necronomicon, got stoned and, on trying to impress a young lady, read out from the book, once again his stupidity ruining any chance of the human races survival. Ash’s first instinct is to run and keep running. Feeling he is owed some sort of peace and quiet, he doesn’t care about the plight of his fellow man, or girl in the case of colleague Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo).

avsed3Kelly receives a message from her father concerning the return of Kelly’s apparent dead mother and needs Ash’s help. Throw in Police Detective Fisher (Jill Marie Jones) who killed her possessed partner, now hunting Ash thinking he was responsible, and the mysterious Ruby (Lucy Lawless) who is also looking for Ash and you’ve got yourself a great cast of characters whose lives all revolve around the guy with the killer chin. Only when forced to don the chainsaw hand and his mighty boomstick, in what is a wonderfully glorious and over the top moment, does Ash accept his fate and decide to finish what was started in the cabin all those years ago.

I knew I would love the show. All the right ingredients were there. Bruce Campbell looks like he has never been away, he lives and breathes Ash and had me laughing out loud within the first five minutes. Written by Tom Speazley and Sam & Ivan Raimi, the pilot is clever and funny. You immediately care about the supporting characters and want to see more of them, especially their attitudes towards and interactions with Ash himself. Sam Raimi directs the pilot and all the flair and originality he showcased in his earlier work is here for all to see. I felt that not an episode was wasted and brought something new to the universe Raimi and co created.

avsed4Each following director adds their own style to the show but never feels out of place with the world. Standout episodes for me are “Brujo” which sees Ash go on a trip courtesy of a Shaman, “Fire in the Hole” where the team are stuck on a hillbilly compound and face Lem, a fire obsessed deadite and the final three episodes “Ashes to Ashes”, “Bound in Flesh” and “The Dark One”. The final three episodes blew me away, returning Ash to a very familiar setting with very familiar characters and plenty of call backs to the original movies.

There are many surprises to be had along the way and, initially, I wondered whether 30 minutes were enough per episode. The episode length doesn’t really affect the show as each episode follows on directly from the one before. One episode however cuts half way through a fight to be picked up later who I thought was an odd editing choice but if you are thinking on binge watching this season then you won’t mind.

avsed6New demons are introduced, realised through wonderful practical effects and really helps to open up the threat level. One thing to note is the gore factor. If you are a gore hound then you’re in for a treat as blood, bone and body parts are shoved in your face. Each episode, as I recall, comes complete with a unique kill. The show is so familiar because of the universe it inhabits but so original in its execution.

Season Two was commissioned before the first episode was aired and I can’t bloody wait. Ash vs Evil dead is the sequel the fans deserved and it has been well worth the wait. Bruce Campbell has earned his icon status and long may we all hail to the king.

Dan Lacey’s Top 5 Cinema Treats of 2015

Dan Lacey’s Top 5 Cinema Treats of 2015

spectreSpectre

Bond returned with vigour this year. Picking up from the end of Skyfall, Bond is sent on one last mission from M, Judi Dench, which will soon have him uncover clues to his past that has had a hand in the misery he has encountered through the previous instalments. Sam Mendes treats us to a beautifully shot pre-title sequence and delivers action and thrills throughout. Spectre not only sets up more of things to come but ties up loose ends from earlier Craig films. If this is to be Daniel Craig’s last outing as Bond then he ends on a high. Craig owns this role and I would love to see him on one more mission, originally contracted for five movies, I’m more than hopeful, just next time find a better opening theme song!

antman1Ant Man

I’m more than happy to admit, even as a comic book fan, I’m getting comic book movie fatigue. Marvel have done so much right, with a few misteps along the way, yet it’s constant and now with DC after marvel money, I see no end. This happened with Age of Ilton, where although I enjoyed it, it was more of the same. Then came Ant Man, Marvel’s version of a heist movie, and it was great. Not only did it breathe life back into a formulaic franchise, but it showed, much like Guardians of the Galaxy, that change is for the better. All the characters were likeable, Rudd makes a great leading man, the script is witty and clever and Reed is a more than competent director. Not an ounce of production issues are on screen, unlike Fantastic Four. A sequel, Ant Man and The Wasp has been announced, bring it on.

madmaxMad Max Fury Road

Every Mad Max instalment gave us something different. Mad Max was a futuristic chase/revenge movie, Road Warrior set a Blueprint for the post apocalyptic action movie, Thunderdome was lighter in tone and had fun at its own expense and then came Fury Road. 30 years have passed since Thunderdome and boy was it worth the wait. Miller has only gotten better with time, he’s more daring than most current or even younger directors and seemingly isn’t afraid to put people in harms way to achieve one of the most visceral and beautiful films ever shot. Hardy steps into the role of Max easily but the film belongs to Charlize Theron as Furiosa who steals the villains wife’s in an attempt to free them from his tyranny. I would love to see more from this world, as long as Miller keeps pushing creative boundaries, I’ll be first in line.

jurrassicworldJurassic World

Dumb? a little. Fun? Hell yes! Colin Trevorrow delivers a worthy sequel to the original that’s exceeds Spielberg’s own sequel The Lost World and Produced Jurassic Park III. Things finally seem to be working over at Jurassic World but visitor numbers are dwindling so those clever boffins create a superdino, as you do, and things go from bad to so, so, so much worse. Chris Pratt, is as ever, a brilliant leading man and any other actor would have made the Raptor training silly and unbelievable. With over a Billion in the bank at the box office it’s understandable that we’ll be getting further trips to the Park and Trevorrow now has the task of directing Star Wars Episode IX. I can happily watch Pratt in anything so as long as he’s on board for the sequel count me in.

starwarsStar Wars The Force Awakens

Star Wars is back and in a big way. I’m a huge Star Wars fan and it would be easy to say I liked it just because it’s Star Wars but like most I was disappointed with the prequels so tread carefully. I had no reason to fear though as The Force Awakens is true to the original trilogy, the original cast, filmed on location, practical effects, I was swept away. JJ Abrams is a fan of the originals and these movies should be written and directed by those who saw it as kids and made them fall in love with cinema. The new cast are exceptional as was Harrison Ford, who slips back into the role if Solo so much easier than he did Indiana Jones in Crystal Skull. I had a huge amount of fun with TFA and there are plenty of questions raised that still need answering so bring on May 2017.

termgenDud of the Year

I didn’t have a bad experience at the cinema this year and didn’t see a terrible film so I don’t gave a dud to talk about really. However, I felt underwhelmed this year with one movie and although I didn’t hate it, any surprised was ruined by the marketing department and that movie was Terminator Genisys. Terminator Genisys was a decent movie, superior to Rise of the Machines and Salvation but unfortunately the people who cut the trailer decided it was important to ruin any plot twists or surprises months before the films release. I want in knowing exactly what was going to happen as I’d seen a 2 minute version whilst sat in the cinema waiting to see something else. Oh and don’t get me started on Jai Courtney. Genisys didn’t wow at the domestic box office, another thing that grates on me but that’s another rant for another time, so the future of the franchise is in doubt, I’m not sure I’m fussed anyway. No matter how hard Hollywood tries the Terminator franchised reached its peak with Judgement Day and I’m more than happy with that.

The UKHS Writers Christmas Horrors – ‘Gremlins’ (1984)

The UKHS Writers Christmas Horrors

Gremlins (1984)

Director: Joe Dante

Written by: Chris Columbus

Starring: Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, Hoyt Axton

Studio: Warner Brothers

Runtime: 107 Minutes

Rating: 15

Available now.

Randal Peltzer (Hoyt Axton) is an inventor; he goes from town to town trying to tempt local businesses into buying his less than impressive inventions. On this particular Christmas he is looking for a gift for his son Billy (Zach Galligan). Peltzer comes across a shop run by an elderly Chinese man and his grandson, he spies a creature in a box that sings to him but the grandfather will not part with it. The Grandson, however, sells it to Peltzer but gives him a warning, this creature, a Mogwai, cannot get wet, can’t be subjected to bright light and it should never be fed after midnight.

On his return home Billy is overjoyed at his new gift, which his father has called Gizmo and Gizmo delights all who meet him. He is cute, intelligent and caring.

Things take a turn for the worst when Billy accidentally gets Gizmo wet. Gizmo reacts to water by springing out some offspring but these Mogwai are different, they are mean and cruel to Gizmo and follow a Mogwai called Stripe. The new brood trick Billy into feeding them after midnight and become cocooned. After a day the cocoons open and the gang have become scaly, vicious little shits with an attitude towards destruction and mayhem. Only Billy, his girlfriend Kate (Phoebe Cates) and Gizmo can stop them.

Written by Chris Columbus (Goonies, Home Alone, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone), Gremlins mixes light and slapstick humour with very dark, violent scenes. It’s no wonder the BBFC had a hard time placing a certificate on this what with creatures being thrown in a blender or Phoebe Cates horrible story about why she hates Christmas. The characters that inhabit the town are all fleshed out and rounded; no role is wasted in this movie. Jerry Goldsmith’s score is memorable and I defy anyone to not instantly recognise Gizmo’s song after seeing this. The special effects and puppets on display is proof that practical effects are a lost art form, Gizmo is a living, breathing creature with a personality, something I believe that would be lost with modern CGI.

Gremlins was produced by the powerhouse that is Steven Spielberg, Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall. With films like Raiders of the Lost Ark and ET to their names, Gremlins was to be a sure fired hit. Most of the praise belongs to Joe Dante, who had previously directed Piranha and The Howling, both of these films balancing the horrific with a dark sense of humour. Dante is confident and breathes life into the fictional town of Kingston Falls.
Gremlins is a classic, not just a classic 80’s movie, but a fantastic film that should be enjoyed by everyone, no matter their age. It was followed in 1990, although not as successful, it is still worth a viewing as it is absolutely bonkers but should be enjoyed, as Dante’s intention, as a satire on sequels.

If you haven’t seen Gremlins then I urge you to do so, if you have then watch it again.

“Well, that’s the story. So if your air conditioner goes on the fritz or your washing machine blows up or your video recorder conks out; before you call the repairman turn on all the lights, check all the closets and cupboards, look under all the beds, ’cause you never can tell there just might be a gremlin in your house.”

10/10

The UKHS Writers Christmas Horrors – ‘Sint aka Saint’ (2010)

The UKHS Writers Christmas Horrors

Sint aka Saint (2010)

Writer & Director: Dick Maas

Starring: Egbert Jan Weeber, Bert Luppes, Huub Stapel

Studio: Tom De Mol

Runtime: 85 Minutes

In 1492 a ship lands on the shores of Amsterdam, aboard is a renegade Bishop named Nicklaus. Along with his men they terrorise the local village, stealing and murdering as they go, but the villagers decide to retaliate. The villagers creep onto the beach and set fire to the ship, burning alive Nicklaus and all of his men.

We cut to a farm in 1968. It’s the 5th of December and the children in the house are celebrating the eve of St Nicholas and the eldest child, Goert, is sent to check on the livestock. Whilst outside he notices something on the roof, it is a bishop atop a grey horse. Inside the house all of Goert’s family have been murdered.

We discover that the vengeful spirit of St Nicklaus returns when the full moon appears on December the 5th, which brings us to the present day. Goert, now a police detective has gone on the offensive, preparing himself for what he knows is coming, he is joined by Frank. Frank is the audience character, he’s a sad state of affairs, his girlfriend publicly dumps him and then is promptly killed by Nicklaus. Frank is a prime suspect in a murder case and the only one who believes him is Goert. This sets the scene for a chase across the Amsterdam rooftops and plenty of gore along the way.

Sint is a fantastic movie and there is great fun to be had providing you remember that its tongue is sat comfortably in its cheek. Writer/Director Maas mixes the light and dark extremely well, giving us enough to jump at but equally enough to giggle at. His visuals are akin to splash pages in a comic book and I sat thinking, on many occasion, ‘that looks so sweet!’ The kills are happily up close and in your face, practical effects are the order of the day for the majority of the special effects, even when CGI is used it is to good effect, a good example of this would be Nicklaus riding his horse across the rooftops. No one is safe in this movie, adults and children alike fall victim to Nicklaus and his army of burned minions.

Maas knows the genre well and I felt that he was referencing John Carpenter on a few occasions. Two sequences stood out, one scene on a boat was riffling very much on the classic Carpenter movie ‘The Fog’ and very early on three young women were leaving school, walking home and talking about their sex lives before leaving for each other’s homes, just like the introduction to Laurie Strode and friends in Halloween. Also, similarly, Maas scores his own work, which here never intrudes and blends in well.

Maas has surrounded himself with a talented cast, both young and old, each bringing believability to their characters, despite the situation. Also praise should go to cinematographer Guido van Gennep for shooting this movie like a fairytale, quite snow fall, deep shadows and lashings of atmosphere.

Sint is a wonderful and silly modern fairytale. It delves deep into the rich history of St Nicholas and the Dutch traditions whilst giving us a good giggle along the way. If you like your horrors daft and festive then give it a go. If you enjoyed Dead Snow then you’re in familiar territory.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good fright

8/10

Do Not Disturb (2015) Short Film Review

DoNotDisturb Red Jacket (Max Res)Do Not Disturb (2015)

Directed by: Jon James Smith

Written by: Jon James Smith

Cast: Richard Shelton, Kathryn Leeman

Running Time: 14 Minutes

Studio: Photek Films

Release Date: TBC

In LA a man sits in his car on his phone, he tells someone he loves that he has to stay at work but we see he is actually parked outside a seedy motel. Sat behind him in the shadows, wearing a hood and brandishing a gun is his captor. The captor communicates through a tape recorder, the voice being modulated and gives the man direction. As we enter the motel room he is told, again via the tape recorder, to undress and get on the bed. The captor handcuffs him to the bed and is revealed to be a dark haired woman who takes out a gag. The man begins to complain that he ordered a blonde and wants a discount, she’s the hooker he ordered and he’s into some seriously weird role-play.

Do Not Disturb Still 1Here lies our first twist in what turns out to be a wonderfully built thriller by writer/director t Jon James Smith. Things take a sudden sinister turn for the man, later identified as ‘George’, when the dark haired woman pulls out a craft knife and begins to cut him. She again plays the tape and shows him a scrap of paper with instructions on, if he doesn’t follow these instructions, he loses his eyes. George complies and instructs his wife to empty all their bank accounts. George’s wife, Margaret, complies and we see she is already in the company of the LAPD. Calmly and collectively Detective Forbes, played by the wonderful Richard Shelton, instructs to do just as she has been told.

Over the next 8 minutes a beautifully crafted story and film unfold. Shot confidently and with an eye for flair, Director Smith never wastes a moment. His establishing shots linger just enough for us to take in our surroundings and capture the back streets and scenery of down town LA with a gritty realism and beauty. His filming style here would fit seamlessly into any modern day noir or detective drama.

Do Not Disturb Still 8Smith has surrounded himself with a group of talented actors, never falling into stereotypes and never feeling out of place. As I have mentioned before Richard Shelton is wonderful as Detective Forbes, playing with just the right amount of empathy and seriousness.

I was initially put off by Margaret, played by Kathryn Leeman, as she came across a little flat in the early scenes but by the time you reach the end of the short it is understandable why she reacts this way, her empathy seems stripped away after the realisation that her husband has been sleeping with prostitutes etc.

Stewart Dugdale provides a score that is very much in keeping with the style of the short, never being intrusive or needing to tell us how we should be feeling. It blends into the background in a comfortable way but never gets lost.

Do Not Disturb Still 2Jon James Smith has crafted a clever and gripping film that made me want to see more than the 14 minutes given. His creative team and talent should be proud of his little gem and all the recent accolades are well deserved. I look forward to Mr Smith’s future works and hope that Do Not Disturb continues in its successes.

Rating: 9/10

Blastfighter (1984) Blu-Ray Review

bf1Blastfighter (1984)

Directed by: Lamberto Bava

Written by: Luca De Rita & Massimo De Rita

Cast: Michael Sopkiw, Valentina Forte, George Eastman

Running Time: 87 Minutes

UK Certificate: 18

Format: Blu Ray & DVD available now from 88 Films – HERE

Studio: 88 Films Italian Collection

Jake ‘Tiger’ Sharp, Michael Sopkiw, is an ex-cop who has been behind bars for 8 years. As he leaves prison he is picked up by a man in a car who hands him his service revolver and a shotgun. This shotgun has been adapted to fire grenades, darts, lead slugs, you name it, and this monster fires it. Tiger is going to use it to assassinate a man who was involved in a cop killing, which led to the murder of his wife. Tiger has had it tough; you can read it in his moustache. However he can’t go through with it, enough is enough, so he returns home to seemingly the town of hillbilly stereotypes.

bf4Whilst setting up home Tiger makes friends with a baby deer and upsets the local yokels. This escalates into a full out feud, eventually becoming a Rambo like vendetta against anyone who looks at him funny. Oh and his estranged daughter makes an appearance just to let the audience know this guy is really going through the mill, not just physically but emotionally.

Blastfighter is a classic but for all the wrong reasons. Borrowing from First Blood and Deliverance, scriptwriters Luca De Rita & Massimo De Rita, never find a new hook, instead cramming in exposition and characters that go nowhere and a back story that never finds resolution. Having said that, Blastfighter is an all out 80’s revenge, action movie, sense and reason is not required and what it lacks in subtlety, it more than makes up for in cinematic cheese.

Lamberto Bava, Director of DEMONS, directs with a kinetic style and puts the action as far in your face as possible. He isn’t ashamed to have people blown up in close up, or put his two leads in danger by hurtling them down white water rapids because stuntmen would be too costly. Being a co-production between the US and Italy meant a small budget and the shoestring is on show. I can forgive all this however because it reminded me of cult classics like John Carpenter’s They Live or Wes Craven’s Swamp Thing.

bf3The acting, although reminiscent of many episodes of The A-Team, never gets dull; it will raise a smile or two. Michael Sopkiw, starring in only one of four movies on his CV, gives it all he has. He has the steely stare down to perfection. He is every bit the proto D-Fens from the wonderful Falling Down, a man who has had enough and been pushed that little bit too far. The majority of the ensemble is made up of Italian actors such as Tiger’s daughter played by Valentina Forte. All the roles were dubbed but I would have liked to have seen an original audio version fir comparison, just to see if it affected the performances.

Fabio Frizzi’s score is pure synth heaven, a pure 80’s sound for a pure 80’s film. The only thing I found weird and off putting was the sun over the end credits, as out of place as ‘He ain’t heavy he’s my brother’ from Rambo III, we are treated to a random a country and western song about dreams written by the BeeGees.

Blastfighter was never going to win any awards but if you like your movies that are so bad, they are good, and then give it a go. Presented on a 25 GB disc with a sharp transfer, 88 Films have done a great job restoring this movie. Including trailers for forthcoming releases and a 12 minute interview with director of photography Gianlorenzo Battaglia, this is a solid release.

bf2Quentin Tarantino calls it Bava’s best film. Having only seen this and Demons I can’t really comment but I do know that if I ever need cheering up, I’ll be popping in Blastfighter. A fine edition to my so bad it’s good collection.

7/10

Krampus: The Christmas Devil (2013) DVD Review

krampuscd1Krampus: The Christmas Devil (2013)

Written & Directed by: Jason Hull

Cast:  Jay Dobyns, Paul Ferm, Andrew Ferrick

Running Time: 79 Minutes

UK Certificate: 15

Format: UK DVD available from 2nd November 2015

Studio: High Fliers Films

Here is a little trivia for you. At the end of 2014 I started planning out a story for a short film about Krampus. To my knowledge a film had never been made about him and thought I’d get the jump on it. The story of Santa’s evil helper, punishing the naughty children, was ripe for a film adaptation in the style of a Grimm fairytale. Then I discovered that Michael Dougherty was producing his own bug budget version and American Dad had a musical episode based on it. I moved on. Then this screener popped through my door and I thought another Krampus movie? Surely this has to be a quick release to jump on the marketing train that Dougherty’s Krampus is getting on.
I was right.

Krampus: The Christmas Devil is a wonder, what I mean is it’s a wonder how this ever made a commercial release. The plot, for what it’s worth, sees a young boy who escapes the clutches of Krampus and become a cop who is determined to put a stop to the annual child slayings once and for all. Does he do it? To be honest I didn’t care. Audiences will be so thrown off by the extreme amateur nature of what is on screen that I doubt they will make the full 79 minutes.

krampuscd2Normally I would endeavour to find positives in even the worst movies and I can, hand on heart, say that Krampus: The Christmas Devil has none. The direction by Jason Hull, who at the beginning of this I thought was a GNVQ student who had stumbled on some money (turns out he’s a grown up), is uninspired, amateurish and messy. Shots are out of focus, actors look down the camera, shots aren’t locked off and framing is all over the place.

Jay Dobyn’s ‘Jeremy’ acts as though he was told to watch every detective show and mimic what he saw. Paul Ferm, who is a real life ex-cop, plays Santa who is just a dick. I’d hope Santa would remain a jolly, fat man who likes to bring joy to all the children of the world, this Santa will tear you a new one just for looking at him funny. There is little contrast between Krampus and Santa, which in a tale of good and evil, you would hope you would see. The editing, I can only assume, was done on windows movie maker and every FX filter was thrown on top of scenes that didn’t need them just to spice things up a little.

The score, if you can call it that, was a mixture of ‘original content’ mixed with samples you’d find freely on the internet. Let’s talk about Krampus himself. Many descriptions have him ranging from hunched, bearded weirdo with chains and a cloven-hoofed foot to a full on, satan-like creature. This film version of Krampus is a collection of items you’d find in Wilkinson’s seasonal aisle, a Santa robe from the now in stock Christmas selection and a mask from the now reduced Halloween section. Little to no effort was put into this design. Somewhere along the way I discovered that the budget was $200,000 and I can’t understand where that money was spent.

krampuscd3I recently discovered that Mr Hull and his team are making Krampus 2. I won’t be wasting my time. I don’t like giving bad reviews, especially ones that are as negative as this and believe me I have tried to find something good to talk about but it just doesn’t want to be found. This Christmas stay away from this Krampus tale at least, I have wasted 79 minutes of my evening so you don’t have to.

0/10

Shiver of The Vampires (1971) DVD Review

sotv1Shiver of the Vampires (1971)

Directed by: Jean Rollin

Written by:  Monique Natan, Jean Rollin

Cast:  Sandra Julien, Jean-Marie Durand, Jacques Robiolles

Running Time:96 Minutes

UK Certificate: 18

Format: DVD

Studio: Redemption – Out Now

Once you get past the minute long, soft core, low definition, logo video for Salvation Films we finally find ourselves at the disc menu. I actually believed that this opening video was the opening to the movie, but no, just a very, very long logo video. Issue #1.

sotv3We open our movie in a church yard, heavily coloured in sepia like tones. Two caskets are being carried into a tomb; the only mourner is a woman dressed in a black veil. The opening sequence is very reminiscent of the cold openings from Hammer Studios back catalogue. We cut to too young women sitting in a castle, the pallet has changed dramatically, and gels are used unashamedly. The two women climb the castle tower and we are introduced to two men chained to the wall, both with stakes in their chests. The tallest declares that he must die with the sunlight and the curse of vampirism should end with them. Their main concern is the last two who they passed the curse onto will soon rise from their graves. He tasks the two women with destroying them, but warns if they should fail, they should serve their new masters willingly.

Great start, right? I was very intrigued by this direction; it was fresh enough to keep me viewing. However, this was the opening five minutes, another 90 to go.

sotv2We cut to a newlywed couple who happen to be travelling to the castle we visited earlier. The bride, Isabel, is a cousin to the two who were buried at the opening of the movie. When she discovers that her cousin’s are dead, in despair, she opts to sleep alone and is eventually seduced by a female vampire. She remembers nothing of this and it us up to her new husband, Anthony, to find out why she disappears at night, why she can’t remember anything and why her cousins, newly back from the dead are acting incredibly weird.

I was hoping for a film akin to the later Hammer movies, entertaining, yet low on budget and more flesh on show than fangs. Certainly, there was a fair amount of nudity but it felt like it was on show because the filmmakers could get away with it. It is neither artistic nor necessary.

The main issues I have with this movie, by now you may have guessed I’m not a fan, is that it is incredibly poor in script, acting, dubbing and soundtrack. Perhaps once or even twice Director, Rollin, gives the audience a hint of visual flair, but falls very short of the mark. The score, by Acanthus (his only credit on any movie), sounds as if Black Sabbath, at the start of their career, had a jamming session with The Beatles, at the end of their career, sounds good on paper but not to the ears. Audiences will find it intrusive and inappropriate. Characters aren’t allowed to develop and our hero, Anthony, interrupts seemingly important scenes with a voice over on how he feels about what’s happening in that scene. As an audience we don’t know what in god’s name he is referring to, as he interrupted the fricking conversation he’s now discussing!

Sorry. Rant over.

sotv4The positive, singular, is the locations. The castle is wonderful to look at and the village is steeped in Medieval French architecture.

The disc comes with a few extras, trailers, production stills, which are grainy and of very poor quality and our main extra we are treated to, is an interview with director, Rollin. Filmed in 2004, this is possibly the best thing on the disc, a small insight into his works, his long career and why he chose the horror genre, what inspired him and the reason behind his fascination with female vampires especially. The issue’s with this? It was filmed on a low def camera with no external mic. What should have been the highlight of the disc is ruined by the grainy, flat image and audio that is barely audible.

Movie Rating: 1/10

Venom aka The Legend of Spider Forest (1971) DVD Review

venomdvdVenom (aka Legend of Spider Forest) (1971)

Directed by: Peter Sykes

Written by: Derek Ford

Cast: Simon Brent, Neda Arneric, Sheila Allen

Running Time: 91 Minutes

UK Certificate: 15

Format: DVD (Available Now)

Studio: Fabulous Films

We open our movie with a flashback which is tinted green, for no apparent reason at all. A young couple are naked and enjoying the lake, they then run back into the woods and have sex. A shadow of a spider crosses over the young man’s back and he dies, screaming in pain. The woman seems unfazed and carries a birthmark of a spider on her shoulder, this woman we eventually discover is the mysterious Anna (Neda Arneric).

We switch scenes to an Inn where a young man, Paul (Simon Brent), an artist, is staying. He is a tourist who has come to paint the local scenery and take photographs. He goes out one day and sees a beautiful young lady, but when he tries to take a picture she runs away. This kick starts, what seemingly felt like an age of running into this mystery woman at random intervals, only to have her run away from him.

venomdvd2The locals warn him about her and he should stay away. They claim that she is a local legend, who, when men touch her, they die from a spider bite. These spiders thrive only on the blood of humans, yet like most hot blooded men, he ignores any warnings and chases after her. This is of course unless he is having sex with the ever shouting Ellen (Sheila Allen).

I was with the movie up until this point, it seemed to portray itself as subgenre of typical vampire movies of its time. Strangely though, a sub-plot involving stolen paintings to fund the schemes of a Nazi scientist appears, creating a further sub-genre known as “seriously what the fuck is happening.”

The remainder of the film left me, as I imagine it would other viewers, confused and hoping that the runtime given of 91 minutes was a lie.

The direction is choppy, full of odd camera angles that feel out of place, I expected so much more from Peter Sykes, who direst ‘To The Devil A Daughter’. The music, by John Simco Harrison, feels like it was scored by someone who wished to try and cram every genre of music into one film, audiences will find it distracting and highly odd. The cast feel like they have been thrown together from other stories and films, never feeling like they belong and working from a script that feels like it was made up as they went.

I believe this is the first time I have sat watching a movie and said out loud “what the fuck”, well not including the latter half of Rob Zombie’s Halloween II.

venodvd2If you want to watch a film that will screw with you, ignoring the need for even a little visit from Captain Exposition then give it a go and if you can make some sense out anything that is happening then please feel free to let me know.

Fabulous Films have done a fine job of putting this movie together for the DVD, it is unfortunate that it was this particular movie.

Movie Rating: 4/10

Jurassic World (2015) Review

jwnew1Jurassic World (2015)

Directed by: Colin Trevorrow

Written by: Amanda Silver, Rick Jaffa

Cast: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson, Vincent D’Onofrio

Running Time: 124 Minutes

UK Certificate: 12A

Release: Out Now

Studio: Universal

22 years after the dinosaurs escaped and ran amok on Isla Sorna John Hammond handed is dream over to another slightly eccentric billionaire. The difference is, this new park works and has done for a couple of years. Unfortunately for the park, patron numbers, although high, are starting to fall so time for a new attraction.

The Indominus Rex is the first genetically engineered hybrid, crossing the DNA of the T-Rex and a few others, this pale beast is clever, calculating and a little pissed off. Enter our characters, brothers Gray (Ty Simpkins) and Zach (Nick Robinson) who are visiting their aunt Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) who just happens to be running things at Jurassic World. Claire is job-centric, she hasn’t the time to be running after her nephews so they are kept in check by her assistant. In the north of the island lives Owen (Chris Pratt).

Owen is the raptor handler, training the raptors from birth to listen to commands. It is the hope of Hoskins (D’Onofrio) that InGen can use them as a weapon, but Owen has to remind all that these are wild, dangerous creatures that must be respected. When the Indominus Rex gets loose it’s up to Owen to track it down, with InGen failing to capture it and the patrons of the park beginning to be served up as meals, Owen must use his Raptors to stop the beast. Some may think it sounds dumb, but many will agree that Pratt is completely believable and brings the right attitude, making you believe he has earned the write to be the alpha in the raptor pack.

jwnew2The cast are brilliant, Pratt is very much the king of cockiness and smooth talking and really proves his action chops here. His scenes with Bryce Dallas Howard will give cause for a chuckle and you get a real sense of a connection with them. The younger cast give as much as they can and don’t fall into the trap of ‘annoying kids in summer movie’. D’Onofrio is having a blast as, almost, villain Hoskins and just holds off chewing the scenery and there is a nice blast from the past in the return of Henry Wu.

I was 7 years old when Jurassic Park was released in the cinema and no movie has quite affected me more in the terms of sheer spectacle and scale. My tiny mind was blown and it has, and no doubt will, remain a staple of family viewing in the Lacey household. The Lost World and Jurassic Park III have come and gone and although some may feel they were watered down versions of the original, I have fond memories of them, they’ll never live quite up to the original, but they gave it a shot.
When they announced plans for Jurassic Park IV no one quite knew what we were expecting, after years stuck in development hell and with the coming and going of ideas, some straight forward, some not (Human Dino hybrid soldiers), audiences almost believed it wouldn’t happen. Enter Colin Trevorrow and the writing team behind Rise of the Planet of the Apes. What Trevorrow, Jaffa and Silver have managed here is a sequel that lives up to the magic of the first movie. To say that this is only Trevorrow’s second studio movie, I see him having a successful run ahead of him.

jwnew3He directs confidently and some of the set pieces come right out of pure imagination, pushing the franchise into pure spectacle again. ILM and their team are back on form and the dinosaurs, vistas and animatronics all look fantastic. High praise is deserved for not going all out CGI like most summer blockbusters of the last decade. Michael Giacchino writes the score and retains the feel of John Williams whilst bringing a new thundering sound to announce the approach of the Indominus Rex, but when that classic theme begins its hard not to smile.

Although nothing that came after will ever reach the pure wow factor of the first Jurassic Park, Jurassic World come incredibly close. With a record breaking weekend opening  I’m sure more is to come and I’m hopeful for the rejuvenated franchise that has surely ensured dinosaurs are magical again.

9/10