House Of The Witchdoctor (2013) Review

hotwd1HOUSE OF THE WITCHDOCTOR (2013)

Writer/Director Devon Mikolas

Starring – Bill Moseley, Leslie Easterbrook, Allan Kayser

UK DVD release 29th August 2016 from High Fliers Films

House of the Witchdoctor is a bit……….erm, rapey. Indeed, before there’s a sign of any witchdoctor, three people have been brutally raped. But prior to an examination of the use of sexual violence in the movie, a brief synopsis –

Callie Stephens plays Leslie Van Hooten, a college student, who, along with some friends, makes her way to her parents’ snowbound and isolated mansion to mourn the anniversary of the mysterious death of her boyfriend. Unfortunately for Leslie and the gang, this is the same weekend that Cliff, a vicious psychopath, is released from prison. Cliff meets up with his equally deranged friend, Buzz and, when they encounter Leslie et al, things take a very bad turn for the worse. Toward the end of the film, the entrance of some third parties spells comeuppance for Cliff and Buzz.

The first two acts of House of the Witchdoctor are, one imagines, supposed to be powerful and uncomfortable to watch. Writer/director Devon Mikolas manages only uncomfortable. Not because the movie is well executed, it is not; some of the acting is so poor that the delivery of some key lines is actually laugh out loud funny. But the relish with which the rape and humiliation scenes are shot and the way in which they linger just gives the inescapable feeling that you are watching something extremely dubious.

hotwd2So gratuitously are these scenes presented, it brings to mind Friday 13th Part V cast members’ stories of ex-porn director Danny Steinmann screaming during sex scenes in that movie “Fuck her! Fuck her!” A brief IMDB investigation into Mikolas’ career uncovers no previous forays into pornography, however. Indeed, House of the Witchdoctor is one of only two movies he has written and directed, the first being the 2010 short, Salvation by Blood.

As the House of the Witchdoctor starts to build toward the third act, it is hard not to get the impression that Mikolas is trying to add a bit of comedy to the characters of Cliff and Buzz, but this is too late after the way in which they have been built up into monsters and comes across as clumsy and incongruous.

It is the third act and the introduction of genre heavyweights, Bill Moseley, Leslie Easterbrook, Dyanne Thorne and (Thorne’s real life husband) Howard Maurer that save House of the Witchdoctor any credibility. The mood does lighten here and the film seems to move with more flair and competence in this direction. Thorne and Maurer are genuinely creepy, in a fun way, and there is a decent reveal as to the true reason why everyone is in attendance at the Van Hooten residence in the first place. The audience also gets to enjoy Moseley’s “voodoo dad” dancing. The very finale, with Leslie and her parents discussing events in a jovial, family way also injects a subtle, pitch black humour that is sadly missing from the rest of the film.

hotwd3In summary, House of the Witchdoctor is too amateurishly made to deal with the themes it presents in the first two acts and this gives the film an overwhelming air of grubbiness and salaciousness. The ending does rescue it somewhat, but it’s a shame the audience has to sit through the first hour or so to get there. If the final act could be stuck on the end of another movie, it might be half decent.

3/10

A Life In Blood – Tales of A Horror Queen by Genoveva Rossi #5 – A Death House Special

A Life In Blood – Tales of A Horror Queen by Genoveva Rossi #5 – A Death House Special

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gendh5Shock and sadness ran threw the horror community in November 2015 when Gunnar Hansen died of pancreatic cancer. Horror fans all over the world mourned the passing of Leatherface, but Hansen was able to leave loyal fans with a parting gift: Death House.

What is Death House? It is an incredibly ambitious horror film written by Gunnar Hansen and director Harrison Smith. This film has been called “The Expendables of Horror” due to it’s spectacular casting choices: Adrienne Barbeau, Bill Moseley, Kane Hodder, Sid Haig, Michael Berryman, Tony Todd, Barbara Crampton, Dee Wallace, Tom Savini, Bill Oberst Jr and more. Directed by Harrison Smith.

gendh1I am truly honored to have a cameo among such a talented cast and crew. It was great to spend some time on set with horror icon Kane Hodder. We have both been guests at the same cons a few times, but Death House is our first film together. While on set, Hodder said, “It is truly an honor to be in Death House. This is an amazing film.”

Michael Berryman and I previously worked together on a Sci-Fi thriller called Apocalypse Kiss and it was great to be in a film with him again.

“I was very proud to be a part of this film. Gunner was a good friend and the story is solid with a cast that includes many friends and the best actors in our genre. Harrison is a keen director with an editor’s eye as the scenes are composed. I know that this film will be well received.” -Michael Berryman

gendh3“Harrison Smith is an actor’s director with affection for our genre’s past and a real vision for its future. Gunnar Hansen would be very, very proud of what Harrison has done with DEATH HOUSE, and speaking as a life-long fan of classic horror, so am I.”
-Bill Oberst Jr.

A big thank you to “Scary” Sheri Fairchild and her husband Frank Nicosia. I have worked with both actors on a few film projects in the Buffalo area and Sheri reached out to tell me Death House was looking for more actors.

gendh4I was going through my own spiritual upheaval at the time. I had found my poor mother passed away of a sudden heart attack on Easter Sunday. That huge loss had left me shaken, but not beaten. My mother always said, “My daughter is tough” and lately I have been challenged to continue to prove her words right no matter the obstacle; even losing her so tragically. But God only gives us what he knows we can bear.

So I got in touch with the casting director of Death House and ended up on set in Philadelphia at the beautifully grotesque and haunting Holmesburg Prison. I had the good fortune of being in a scene with screen legends Barbara Crampton and Dee Wallace.

gendh2While on the set of Death House I was able to sit down and talk with producer Rick Finkelstein. He explained, “This film was started by Gunnar Hansen. It has really come together better than we ever imagined. We have the best locations, best cast, horror icons, and an amazing script.”

Even the location was perfect, Holmesburg Prison, which is part of the Philadelphia prison system. It’s history already sounds like a horror movie. For thirty years chemical companies tested on inmates with sometimes horrific results. Also the prison warden and assistant were murdered mere steps from where we conducted our interview.

gendh6Watch for Death House for it’s amazing cast, horrific special effects, and to see Gunnar Hansen’s last blood splattering performance. This film was Leatherface’s baby, it was Gunnar’s dying wish that Death House be finished, and made into a huge success in the genre. Horror fans are sure to enjoy this truly epic film. Finkelstein promises, “When you leave this film you will be questioning your own thought processes and concepts of good and evil.”

gendh7This article is dedicated to the memory of Gunnar Hansen and my mother.

The Horde (2016) Review

horde1THE HORDE (2016)

Starring Paul Logan, Matthew Willig, Bill Moseley, Vernon Wells, Costas Mandylor and Tiffany Brouwer

Directed by Jared Cohn

Written by Paul Logan

The film follows John Crenshaw as he accompanies his girlfriend and her students on a weekend nature photography expedition deep into the woods. What should be an educational and fun-filled weekend turns into horror as the group are besieged by an unspeakable evil – a horde of hideously disfigured, mutated humans with an insatiable taste for blood. As things go from bad to worse, Crenshaw becomes their only hope if they are going to get out alive”. Via 313 Films.

Meet John Crenshaw (Logan). He’s an ex-Navy Seal martial arts expert with a big heart and a winning smile, and a perfectly oiled six pack to go with his perfectly oiled pecs and perfectly oiled biceps. And a little black pug. John wants to propose to his photograph teacher girlfriend Selina (Brouwer) but ends up getting roped into taking her and her class of despicable students out into the woods to photograph nature and stuff. But they are suddenly ambushed by an army of football hooligans-I mean mutant inbred psychos led by Cylus (Mandylor) who want the females for breeding. But did I mention John is an ex-Navy Seal martial arts expert? Yeah, the bad guys might be an army, but John is JOHN FUCKING CRENSHAW! Bad guys don’t stand a chance…

horde2It may seem like I’m being flippant but it really goes with the tongue in cheek tone of The Horde. Like a cross between The Hills Have Eyes and Rambo, the film has the good sense to wear it’s inspirations on its sleeve.

After a pretty badass title sequence, we get a campfire prologue that even includes a character saying “I’ll be right back”! I mean, come on, what’s not to love. Unfortunately, after that, a fair bit. It’s not until halfway through the film that the shit hits the fan. Until then, we are treated to incredibly awkward group dialogue scenes with our young supporting cast, filled with bad line delivery and awkwardly edited pauses in conversation. Add to that a proposal scene straight out of The Bachelor (don’t ask how I know this) and things are only held together by Logan’s genuinely sweet and charming presence.

But then, soon after said proposal, the shit does hit the fan and the film becomes an all out assault on the senses, filled to brim with torture, cannibalism, and ass-kicking.

And the films cast, students aside, is a genre fans wet dream: Bill Moseley in a rare straight role, Mandylor from the Saw films chewing scenery, and fucking Vernon Wells! They all have a lot of fun in their roles, but this is really a showcase for main man Logan, and that’s no surprise seeing as he wrote the thing. He’s a very talented guy, affable and engaging in the first half, while thoroughly convincing as a mean mktherfucker who’ll do anything to save the woman he loves in the second half. His character is a great throwback to the one-man-army roles that dominates the 80’s from actors like Van Damme, Seagal and of course Arnie.

Director Jared Cohn does much better than what you would expect from the director Bikini Spring Break, if only the editing was tighter in the scenes of drama. Add some very impressive prosthetic effects on the mutants, brilliantly over the top gores and a gnarly un-PC attitude (“Hey, Sling Blade!”) and The Horde is a pretty impressive production.

horde3As Friday Night Fun, you could do a lot worse than The Horde, and I challenge anyone not to be thoroughly entertained when Crenshaw starts dispatching the villains in increasingly savage ways, all set to a Rambo-style rock score.

7/10

Death Call aka Old 37 (2015) Review

old371Death Call aka Old 37 (2015)

Director: Alan Smithee

Stars: Kane Hodder, Bill Moseley, Jake Robinson, Brandi Cyrus

UK DVD Release TBC from High Fliers Films

Old 37 a.k.a Call 37 a.k.a Death Call is the story of two brothers who intercept 911 emergency calls, then arrive on the scene posing as paramedics in a beaten up old ambulance – the titular ‘Old 37’.

Of course, these brothers are not good Samaritans out to help innocent survivors or to lift the burden off of America’s failing healthcare system, no, they are depraved lunatics who take pleasure in torturing and killing the defenceless victims. The two brothers are played by horror icons Kane Hodder and Bill Moseley, a dream team that could cause even the most stone faced horror fan to go weak at the knees.

old374The casting of Hodder and Moseley, along with the intriguing synopsis, had me licking my lips at the prospect of this film, but sadly it did not deliver the goods… Instead of focusing on the story of the psychopathic brothers and their exploits, it mostly follows a group of errant teenagers – All played by actors in their mid to late twenties, all vapid, insidious, soulless, cookie cutter characters that could have been plucked from any horror movie this side of Scream. These “teenagers” literally bring all of the trouble onto themselves – They are picked off one by one, thanks in no small part to their dangerous driving and foolhardy antics on the highways of backwater nowhere.

Throughout the film we are shown flashbacks and glimpses into the past of the two brothers which offer a brief insight into why they are so deranged. They are following in the footsteps of their father, a nasty piece of work who psychically and mentally abused his sons to breaking point – creating the monsters they are today. Hodder and Moseley both turn in excellent performances and do their best with what they are given.

old373The film seems to suffer from an identity crisis – is it trying to be a slasher movie? Not really. Is it going for the ‘torture porn’ angle? There isn’t enough blood and gore or interesting kills for that. Is it trying to be a ‘Jaws on the highway’ type movie? Maybe. It really struggles to find a balance between all of the plot threads. The brothers’ story is far, far more interesting than that of the teens and it could have been excellent in the hands of someone like Rob Zombie. In the end it is let down by the dumb teenagers that we are supposed to be rooting for and the ridiculous way the writers try to tie everything together.

3.5/10

Charlie’s Farm (2014) DVD Review

Charlies Farm DVD 2D - FINALCharlie’s Farm (2014)

Writer & Director – Chris Sun

Starring – Nathan Jones, Tara Reid, Kane Hodder, Bill Moseley

UK DVD & Blu-Ray release June 22nd from Monster Pictures UK

Four friends from the suburbs of Australia’s Gold Coast (including honorary Yank, Tara Reid) decide to ditch the beach for the weekend in favour of camping at an allegedly haunted farm. An absurd decision to us Pommies currently suffering an indecisive British summer, but par for the course for any self respecting slasher movie protagonists. The farm in question is the titular Charlie’s Farm; the location of a series of horrific murders in the 1980s.

The cannibalistic Wilson family who lived there (led by father John Wilson, played by horror icon Bill Moseley) would routinely murder and consume any unlucky backpackers and tourists that were passing through. The local townsfolk, having decided that enough was enough, rolled up at the farm mob deep with pitchforks and shotguns at the ready and the vile Wilsons were slain one by one. Legend has it that the tormented ghost of their ‘retarded’ son, Charlie, now haunts the area.

charliesfarm3In a time when slasher movies are few a far between, us faithful fans of the sub-genre are often left disappointed. Not due to their infrequency but due to their (mostly) poor quality. Thankfully, Charlie’s Farm does not disappoint. Writer-director Chris Sun is clearly a huge fan of slashers himself and knows that to make a good one is not to re-invent the wheel but to do the basics, and do them well.

As far as the plot goes, it is very much by the numbers – You will know who is going to die and you will probably even guess what order they will die in, but the fun part is seeing how they die. Nathan Jones portrays Charlie, the hulking killer who systematically wipes out any and all visitors to his farm in brutal fashion. The make-up effects are excellent and the performances of the actors are brilliant across the board, with a special mention to Trudi Ross who puts in a mesmerising turn as Mrs Wilson, Charlie’s protective mother.

charliesfarm2My only real criticism of the film, if you can call it a criticism, is of Kane Hodder’s strange cameo role. His character adds nothing to the actual story and almost felt as if it had been written in at the last minute merely to capitalise on Hodder’s name value. Other than that I have nothing but love for Charlie’s Farm and very much hope that we get a sequel. Chris Sun’s next film, Boar, not only stars Nathan Jones again but also Wolf Creek’s John Jarratt. Maybe I am dreaming, but I would definitely pay good money to see a Mick Taylor vs Charlie Wilson cross over movie!

8/10

The Alphabet Killer (2008) DVD Review

 

alp1THE ALPHABET KILLER (2008) DVD

Review by: Dave Wain

Stars: Eliza Dushku, Cary Elwes, Timothy Hutton, Michael Ironside, Bill Moseley

Written by: Tom Malloy

UK Certification: 15

UK RRP: £9.99

UK DVD Region: 2

Runtime: 94 minutes

Directed by: Rob Schmidt

UK Release Date: 14th April 2014

Distributor: Warwick Films

I don’t really understand the world of film distribution well enough to get why its takes so long for some titles to land on our shores. The Alphabet Killer has taken a staggering six years to land a release over here and it comes to DVD via the relatively new company Warwick Films who a few weeks ago put out the worthy Battle Royale-esque title ‘The Human Race’. Just from a DVD rental point of view, the true story genre is massive – especially serial killers, so its laboured journey across the Atlantic seems odd.

The Alphabet Murders as they are known took place in the early 1970s in the area of Rochester, New York where three young girls were raped and strangled. The case got its name from the fact that each of the girls’ first and last names started with the same letter, and that each body was found in a town that had a name starting with the same letter as each girl’s name.

ALPHABET 002The movie revolves around the work of Rochester-based police investigator Megan Paige (Eliza Dushku). After finding the body of ten year old Carlo Castillo, she notices the coincidence in first letters of both victim and town and sets out to find an answer to a deeper meaning for this, although her colleagues seem happy with the probability of coincidence. As she pores over evidence day and night, it becomes apparent that Megan is beginning to lose some of her grip on reality, so much so that she actually has visions of an apparition of the victim.

Eventually everything begins to catch up with her to the point that she diagnosed with schizophrenia and taken off the case. Two years as a lowly file clerk pass by, then out of the blue the killer strikes again. Despite her eagerness to get back onto the case, Rochester PD are very reluctant on exposing her to the things that triggered her initial instability. They relent however, and Megan is allowed to participate in a more consulting role. That is until the killings escalate, and once more she is drawn in to the world that once put her dangerously on the edge.

So – Dushku sees dead people. You may think that that concept is ok if it manifests itself in a nightmare or such like, but noooo… she sees poorly CGI’d cheap J-Horror knock off dead people. Why anyone in their right mind would want to introduce this aspect to a true crime story is beyond me. It’s especially disappointing as Rob Schmidt prior to shooting stated how The Alphabet Killer case was one that really intrigued him. Why then would he make something with the framework of the real life case that veers so far off the tracks it pretty much goes in the ocean?

True stories, especially those rooted in the area of real life crime need to be faithful to the original scenario – surely it’s only respectful? For this film to be titled after a specific case and to use several aspects of it in its narrative to then go “yeah, I don’t like the direction that real thing took, let’s mash this up a bit and y’know – actually catch someone” is just insane to the point of insulting. Why not just write something original and call it ‘The Genesis Murders’ or something, but hey – then I guess you couldn’t ride the coattails of ‘Zodiac’ which of course came out 12 months prior to this.

ALPHABET 003All of which pretty much leaves no time to comment on anything else other than say the eclectic cast deserve a great deal more, though put in good work considering the feeble material. Also, in answer to my initial question about the length of time it takes for some films to cross the Atlantic… I’m kind of wishing this one sunk.

2 out of 10

 

Silent Night, Deadly Night 3 : Better Watch Out! (1989) A UKHS Xmas Horror Review

SNDN 001SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT III: BETTER WATCH OUT! (1989) DVD

Review by: Dave Wain

Stars: Bill Moseley, Samantha Scully, Richard C. Adams, Richard Beymer, Eric DaRe

Written by: Carlos Laszlo (story and screenplay), Arthur Gorson (story), Monte Hellman (story)

Runtime: 89 minutes

Directed by: Monte Hellman

 

After an early career amongst the low budget B’s of the 1960s, Monte Hellman went on to reach both cult and critical acclaim with Cockfighter (1974) and most notably Two-Lane Blacktop (1971). It’s with some surprise then that we fast forward to 1989 to discover him behind the camera on the third entry in the Silent Night, Deadly Night franchise.

To recap on the events of the series so far, the killer in the initial Silent Night, Deadly Night had a brother called Ricky who sought revenge in Part II but was swiftly nullified… so we thought, but alas Part III opens with Ricky (Bill Moseley) lying in a hospital bed with his brain exposed. The reason for this intriguing plot development is that Ricky is being kept alive on purpose as in the same clinic is Laura (Samantha Scully), a blind psychic who is being coaxed into making contact with Ricky to ‘get inside his head’.

SNDN 002The doctor doing this bizarre experiment is Dr. Newbury (Richard Beymer) who reconstructed Ricky’s brain after he was shot six times at the end of the last movie, so considering his efforts he has a real desire to see some results from his experiment. Laura on the other hand is reluctant to tell Dr. Newbury exactly what she sees when she makes contact with Ricky, and as coincidence should have it it’s time to head home for the holidays which gives Laura the ideal opportunity to get away from this traumatic scenario.

Collected by her brother (Eric DaRe – with an alarmingly awful perm) and his girlfriend (Laura Harring) they head off just before we bear witness to the predictable reawakening of good ‘ole Ricky Caldwell. During a lifetime of watching horror movies, we’ve all seen some classic ‘killer comes back to life’ situations (Jason being electrocuted back alive underwater in F13thVIII for example) – here though we can enjoy the sight of a drunken Santa Claus stumbling into Ricky’s hospital room, in which the sight of him snaps Ricky back to life, onto his feet and out the door of the clinic. He also manages to spectacularly tune himself in to Laura’s psychic frequency and get the directions to where she’s heading for her holiday stay – genius. Perhaps most enjoyable is how Ricky, clad in hospital gown with a fish bowl on his head displaying his brain finds it so easy to hitch a lift.

Silent Night, Deadly Night III is worth watching purely for such idiocies. It is quite possibly the most laughably awful yet memorably enjoyable horror movie that I like to revisit from time to time. Bear in mind I’ve only given you an insight there into the first half an hour, there is far more crazy exposition yet to come including the appearance of Robert Culp as a detective hot on Ricky’s trail, and a phone sex obsessed gas station attendant. It’s also filled with goof-tastic quotes such as “he sees what she sees” – but she’s BLIND!

At a showing of the movie in Austin in 2008, Hellman introduced the film by saying it was his best work (without sarcasm apparently), though he based this assertion primarily on the speed at which he was able to turn the project around which included re-writing the script in 7 days (that long?).

SNDN 003This in my opinion is far from Monte Hellman’s best work – it’s not even in his top 10, but that said it is worth hunting it down if only to see Bill Moseley in one of his most restrained roles as Ricky. Good luck with finding it though, it’s never had a UK release and the set from Lionsgate released in 2009 is now pretty hard to come by.

 

5 out of 10

Silent Night, Deadly Night 3: Better Watch Out! (1989) A UKHS Xmas Horror Review

sndn3-1Silent Night, Deadly Night 3: Better Watch Out! (1989) aka Blind Terror

Directed by Monte Hellman

Starring Samantha Scully, Bill Moseley, Robert Culp, Eric Da Re, Richard Beymer and Laura Harring.

After being gunned down at the end of the last movie, Santa Claus killer Ricky Caldwell now lies comatose and in the possession of the kooky Dr. Newbury. Thanks to a series of psychic experiments, Ricky is now telepathically linked to blind ingenue Laura. Reawakening after an unfortunate incident on Christmas Eve, a zombie-like Ricky soon sets about tracking Laura, her brother and her brothers girlfriend as they attempt to spend their holidays at their Grandmother’s house.

I make no bones about my love for this dubiously enjoyable franchise, a series of films some may cruelly term as being, ahem, “fucking awful”. However, this third go round of the psycho St Nick schtick is an unquestionably poor effort that even a clag enthusiast like myself finds hard to defend.
sndn3-2It’s a lousy, lame dud of a picture; a flat fart that replaces the grubby charm and (unintentional) hilarity of the first two uproarious installments with long, arse numbing stretches of tedium and barely a handful of incredibly anaemic, tension free kill scenes.

What little fun there is to be had mainly stems from the curious waste of talent of those involved: character veteran Culp as an investigating detective, a post Chop Top, pre Otis Moseley as Ricky (lifelessly shuffling around with a fish bowl type thing on his bonce) and the the presence of Beymer, Da Re and Harring, a trio of slumming it David Lynch acolytes.

Most worryingly of all is that the whole sorry farrago was directed by Monte Hellman, the man behind the classic seventies road movie Two Lane Black Top. How on earth he became involved in this thing is anyones guess, his official reason being his commitment to helping good friend and fledgling producer Arthur Gorson (who must own some serious dirt on the indie auteur…). Perversely, Hellman ranks it as containing the finest work of all his films (he says so in Brad Steven’s 2003 book about him) so maybe ardent fans of his low key mediations will find something to savour. I’d just rather watch Two Lane or Iguana instead…

sndn3-3It’s available on a region one DVD from Lions Gate, bundled together with parts four and five in the series. Completists get your import on. It’s worth it for the excellent four alone, but more on that next time…

Three depressed french hens out of ten leaping lords

Texas Chainsaw (2012) DVD Review

 

TEXAS CHAINSAW (2012)
Dir. John Luessenhop         92 mins
Lionsgate
UK Release: 27th May 2013

While I hold Tobe Hooper’s 1974 ‘Texas Chain Saw Massacre’ in the highest possible regard, I must admit I overlooked the sequels a little, and totally rejected (perhaps unfairly) the Michael Bay produced reboots. Now, having been released from the evil clutches of Platinum Dunes it’s found a new home at Millennium Films.

My ears pricked up in the first minute as we begin with a recap of the original movie. I thought this is either a very bold move, or a very stupid one. When you begin your sequel by reminding everybody just how phenomenal the first one was, you’re setting your own bar very high indeed. As the first original scene opens we find both Bill Moseley and Gunnar Hansen (another deep nod of respect to the filmmakers) as members of the Sawyer clan who just after Sally has escaped are holed up in their house, surrounded by Texas lawmen and town locals hell bent on becoming vigilantes. A firefight ensues and every member of the Sawyer family is gunned down – except that is for a baby…

Fast forward to present day and we find Heather (Alexandria Daddario), the said baby, who we discover is 1) working in the butchery department of her local supermarket, 2) being told she is adopted and 3) is for some reason not forty years of age. Gaping plot holes aside, Heather discovers she has inherited an estate in the middle of Texas. Before you have time to oil your chainsaw she’s heading south in a VW camper van with a motley crew of phenomenally good looking friends. Along the way the ubiquitous hitchhiker is picked up, and the mansion that Heather is due to inherit is arrived upon.

As the friends note the absence of supplies they head into town to acquire some consumables, leaving the stranger they picked up alone in the multi-million dollar mansion that’s filled with priceless antiques. Predictably he begins to fill his bags with all the silver candlesticks he can find, and searching deeper into the house he stumbles across the cellar where surely there couldn’t be a stocky, human-skin faced member of the Sawyer family left alive – could there ?

High hopes for this new TCM disintegrated to ashes barely ten minutes in. It attempts to pitch itself as the first true sequel to Hooper’s original, which is just fine if it seamlessly continues from the first in both style and substance. It doesn’t though, and instead just becomes another crappy reboot that serves only to pander to the airbrushed artificial needs of the target ADHD demographic.

3 out of 10

Dead Souls (2012) DVD Review

dead-souls-1

Dead Souls 2012

Dir. Colin Theys   –   92 minutes

UK Distribution – 101 Films

Dead Souls starts in a fairly brutal manner ,it doesn’t pull any punches here. A preacher living at a farmhouse with his wife , teenage daughter, young son and baby boy goes berserk. He kills his wife , daughter and son , and then crucifies them in the barn along with himself , and getting that last nail in is a doozy. But before he died the young son hid the baby boy in the basement and the film then moves forward 17 years to the modern day.

Johnny Petrie (Jesse James) is a mild mannered young man living in New York , he has a very strictly religious mother who keeps Johnny strictly under her thumb. Just after his 18th birthday he finds out he has inherited a farmhouse in Maine, when he questions his mother she collapses and is kept in hospital for observation.

John takes this opportunity to go to Maine and check out his new property . On arriving , he is met by three young men who threaten him and tell him to leave as he is not wanted. Ignoring their advice John meets up with the solicitor and makes his way to the farmhouse.

dead-souls-2

When they arrive the solicitor explains to John he is adopted and his family died in an accident when he was tiny , and that the woman he calls mother is in fact his Father’s sister. John then decides he would like to spend some time in the empty (but still fully furnished with photos etc all still intact after 17 years) farmhouse. He hears a few noises and finds that Emma (Magda Apanowicz) is squatting there. They make an unlikely partnership as she helps John find out the truth of his deceased family and the reasons behind their tragedy.

Dead Souls is a well above par haunted house story , the setting of the farmhouse is perfect and the sets are superbly staged. The old creaking floorboards and dated decor lead to a really atmospheric feeling . It is dark , gloomy and when you watch keep your eyes peeled for things lurking in the corners and the background.

The acting is well above par (for the main) and with Bill Moseley & Geraldine Hughes in the cast then you know it is going to be a fun film. The score is continually interesting and keeps the film flowing flawlessly, and the lighting is great throughout.

The film does have a few flaws , especially with some of the storylines (like why was Emma in the house and what is her story?) BUT on the whole this is a good spooky horror film that has more invention than your average flick , it is not just a jump scare type horror but has a good back story and genuinely interesting characters and towards the end things do take some really interesting twists.

dead-souls-3

Dead Souls is a genuinely creepy ghost story that will scare , shock and reel you in. A must for all haunted house fans and a really good intro into the genre for the new horror fan , as there are plenty of jumps and scares but very little blood and gore.

A unique and intriguing story that really packs a heavyweight supernatural punch 7/10

Dead Souls is released in the UK by 101films on the 8th July 2013 – well worth checking out!!