Hunting Grounds (2015) Review

rsz_hg1HUNTING GROUNDS (2015) aka Valley of the Sasquatch

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

Written & Directed by John Portanova

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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.

Heir (2015) Short Film Review

heir1Heir (2015)

Runtime – 15 minutes

Written and Directed by Richard Powell

Starring: Bill Oberst Jr., Robert Nolan

What’s it all about?
Gordon (Nolan) connects with Denis (Oberst Jr.) and travels to meet with him, bringing his son along too. But, all is not well and secrets are about to be revealed and Gordon is left with a major dilemma.

This is Powell’s fourth short film and a fine effort it is too. He builds a nice connection with his characters with his opening, creating a sense of unease and turmoil. We can see and feel Gordon’s struggles with his inner demons and we share his pain as events unfold and he’s faced with an agonising decision.

Strong performances, clever writing and direction really propel this little film along swiftly, it’s only real let down being the creature effects which aren’t awful, but really not up to the standards set by the rest of the production.

I won’t dwell on that though as it’s not something that ruins the film and it always feels unfair to be negative about a production which shows ambition and style, in the face of it’s restricted budget. The production quality in the main is high. The direction is solid and Powell has managed to pull in two strong, seasoned actors to carry the piece. Oberst Jr. is a veteran of many horror movies and you can see why. He has a look about him and his performance is dark and unnerving. Nolan comes across creepy, but lost and you do want him to resist the darkness inside.

heir2Powell plays with the audience, never quite revealing his hand. There’s a pun there, but you’ll have to watch the film to get it and even then you may feel like I’ve built the whole pun thing up too much only to be let down when you realise it was pretty lame. But, need we dwell on such things as bad puns? No, we need to learn to move past puns, to leave them behind us and not get caught up in the whole pun thing. It’s a dangerous step to take and if you lose your grip on it all then you can end up with an avalanche of puns all cascading around you, burying you deep beneath them where you only escape is to reach out and cry for help ‘save me from the puns!’

I’ll tell you now, if you end up in that deep, dark place you will have only yourself to blame. Now, back to the matter at hand.

‘Heir’ is a nicely made, strongly performed short which oozes talent and is well worth 14 minutes of your time.


Betrothed (2016) Review

betrothed1BETROTHED (2016)

Starring Mikayla Gibson, Joey Bell, Jamie B. Cline and Adam Dunnells.

Directed by Jim Lane

Written by Jeff Rosenberg

Out in July on VOD from Osiris Entertainment

A trip to the store turns into a surreal nightmare when a college student is kidnapped by a deranged, dysfunctional family. Now Audra West finds herself in the middle of the desert, and betrothed to Adam, the youngest son of the murderous clan. As a determined detective conducts a frantic search, Audra realises the only way to survive is to escape. But even if she could get away, almost two hundred miles of desert lies between her and help.” Via IMDb.

If you crossed the brutal Aussie horror The Loved Ones with the see-it-to-believe it Mum & Dad, throw in a bit of Green Card, then take all the budget away, you may end up with something akin to Jim Lanes Betrothed.

When spunky smart ass Audra (Mikayla Gibson) is abducted from a local store, she finds herself the latest captive of the Cooper clan, a lovable band of rednecks with a strange fascination with marriage, and a complete lack of empathy for human lives. As the hours pass by, and Audra gets closer to her wedding day with Adam (Jamie B. Cline) she plans her escape, not reckoning for the sadistic whims of mother Ginnie (Bunny Gibson) and hulking, chainsaw wielding brother Nate (Adam Dunnells).

I’m going to get the negatives out of the way so we end this review on a high, because the last thing I want to do is discourage indie filmmakers like these from going out and getting things done:

betrothed2The script here is all over the place. Scenes of talking go on way longer than they have to, and many seem to have little relevance to the story other than to shock. The subplot with the detective looking for Audra is especially stuttering, full of scenes ripped from other film (nagging wife, renegade cop) that just add up to nothing. Performances are pretty much what you’d expect from an exploitation flick like this, with inconsistent characters spouting inane dialogue and over-acting at the drop of a hat. Another issue was the choreography of even the smallest stung or action scene. Punches have no weight, and actions feel very staged and unrehearsed. It feels like the filmmakers were extra cautious, and a quick check on IMDb shows there was no stunt co-ordinator involved. Also, be ready to see the absolute WORST CGI BLOOD ever committed to screen in the opening. It is so bad, almost moving at a completely different frame rate than everything else.

OK, let’s move past this. Just needed to get all that out of my system.

Now onto the positives.

Betrothed had a pretty nifty central premise, twisting genre conventions and including some pretty unexpected twists along the way. Visually, the film is very crisp and bright, with professional lighting and a clear sense of filmmaking language. It’s nice to see simple things like this done right as we see so many horror films with unintelligible editing and erratic direction these days. Mikayla Gibson is a fun heroine too, brave and smart which makes a change from the usual wild-eyed shrieking. And while the CGI blood is awful, the practical FX are pretty great and freaky when they come.

Betrothed gets a lot of things right, but the finished product needed one more draft, lie the script. It needed that rewrite, tighten itself up and make the story more coherent. Too much time is spent with irrelevant side characters. But it’s great to see genre vets Bunnie Gibson and Bill Oberst Jr. chewing the scenery, and the ending gets so crazy it’s worth the journey to get there.

betrothed3Like any good low-budget exploitation flick, Betrothed ticks it’s boxes with aplomb. Blood, boobs and badass babes, all blended with some good old-fashioned inbreds with chainsaws. And the use of of Harvey Danger’s Flagpole Sitta over the end credits gave me a nice warm 90’s feel in my belly, bringing back memories of Disturbing Behaviour and American Pie.

So, not ready to settle down with high art horror, but want a one night stand with a trashy southern-fried shocker? Look no further.


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.


Valley of The Sasquatch (2015) Review

votsValley of the Sasquatch (2015)

Director: John Portanova

Starring: Bill Oberst Jr., Jason Vail, Miles Joris-Peyrafitte, David Saucedo, D’Angelo Midili

“So Sergio freaked out and shot a bush? Who hasn’t?”

Dysfunctional father and son duo Roger and Michael Crew (Jason Vail and Miles Joris-Peyrafitte) are forced to move to a not-quite-fit for human habitation cabin in the middle of the woods. Dad Roger immediately invites his drinking buddy Sergio (David Saucedo) and brother-in-law Will (D’Angelo Midili) up for the weekend. Primarily as an excuse to drink and do drugs with Sergio and go shoot woodland animals. What they didn’t expect was a family of Sasquatch trying to defend their territory against loggers? Presumably. It’s not terribly well explained but doesn’t really matter.

And who really expects Sasquatches anyway? The hapless group find their numbers whittled down and at last make a stand back at the cabin with fellow hapless Squatch survivor Bauman (Bill Oberst Jr.). Though they face more danger from their fellow man than a gang of kidnapping Sasquatch.

vots1Valley (it’s actually a mountain) of the Sasquatch is pretty good. Though the majority of the film is spent on the saga of Roger and Michael as they bicker and Roger lets his horrible friend Sergio constantly insult his son Michael. Slowly the circumstances of Rog and Mike’s dire straits are revealed during a hunting trip gone wrong. The Sasquatches of which there are supposedly three–but there is only one Squatch playing all three– arrive an hour into the film. When they do show up it’s, well, spectacular is overstating it, but it’s darn fun. The Squatch himself is a tall actor in a fur suit with an unfortunately immobile mask on. The fact that all the Squatches look alike is confusing, but ultimately doesn’t matter. They attack and our hapless heroes have to make a run for it.

The motivation for the Squatches is chalked up to loggers. Though why they kidnap some people and murder others is never brought up or explained. They also seem to be gentle creatures at heart, despite the violence they display they seem to just be repaying getting shot at a lot.

Across the board he acting is great with only one exception. Vail does a great job of being surly functional alcoholic dad. Joris-Peyrafritte stands out as the vulnerable and put upon son Michael. Saucedo is good at being horrible. Sergio is loathsome to the core, a cowardly bully who talks to Michael in a way no one should even talk to a dog. Midili as uncle Will is good, but some of his lines come out with a weird delivery. Still, uncle Will is one of only two likeable characters in the entire movie. Bill Oberst Jr. has a few good scenes but isn’t in it as much as could be hoped for. He opens the film then comes back toward the end to take part in the climax.

vots2The cinematography warrants special mention. The scenery is beautiful. Full of green trees, meadows of flowers and towering pines. The shots get trickier inside the dismal cabin, for starters it’s ugly. It’s also hard to get an idea of the layout of the cabin and the rooms are tiny, making for one of the worst knife fights in the history of cinema. The director also chose to shoot the scenes at night which made the forest a pressing wall of trees from which anything might emerge at any time. Much preferable to shooting day-for-night. The darkness also hides the Squatch’s face which was a good choice given that the actor couldn’t emote through the rubber mask.

Recommended to Sasquatch aficionados who like a side helping of family drama and anyone who likes pretty scenery.

Kudos for: An arm for an arm.

Lesson learned: Camping sucks.


Circus Of The Dead (2014) Review


Directed by Billy ‘Bloody Bill’ Pon
Written by Lee Ankum & Billy ‘Bloody Bill’ Pon

Starring Bill Oberst Jr., Parrish Randall, Chanel Ryan and Ryan Clapp

Run time 116 mins

This terror season, clowns are hot. From the recently announced crowd-funded double of Rob Zombie’s 31 and Full Moon’s latest Killjoy instalment; to the Eli Roth-produced Clown’s tentative Halloween release Stateside, if horror were the world of fashion, greasepaint, oversized shoes and a big red nose would be the latest must-have look on the scare catwalk. Big top bogeymen are ‘in’; and Circus of the Dead’s Papa Corn – the homicidal harlequin at the centre of this distinctly Texan frightmare – is the first fearsomely essential jester of this Bozo shockwave.

COTD 2It’s one hell of a turn from Bill Oberst Jr., the Boris Karloff of indie grue. Making John Wayne Gacy (whose fitting “Clowns could get away with murder” quote opens the film) look like Ronald McDonald, Papa Corn is quite possibly the Emmy Award-winning thesp’s finest performance to date; a frightening, ferocious and deeply charismatic turn of unpredictable energy that – if there’s any justice in the world – should see the man finally mentioned alongside such modern horror heroes as Englund, Combs and Moseley.

Through a mysterious Tarot card game – “Like bingo, but from Mexico” – Corn has deemed Don (Parrish Randall, decent) ,  and his family ideal victims for their Saw-type morality game. Incapacitating – to the say the least – Don’s adulterous wife (Chanel Ryan, perfunctory), Corn snatches Don’s daughters and coerces him into joining his merry band of murderous clowns on an odyssey of bloody slaughter if he ever wants to see them alive again.

COTD 3Building upon a mock trailer that opened his acclaimed short Doll Boy (the titular antagonist of which makes a fun cameo here), debutent feature director Pon has crafted an authentically scuzzy blend of Tobe Hooper-esque white trash schtick and Herschell Gordon Lewis-style exploitation. Mean spirited and grotty, Circus of the Dead is one sick little puppy of a picture; a charmingly ramshackle and gleefully repellent wallow through the lowest ends of the schlock spectrum. Its lack of slickness and, indeed, decency may prove too much for some, and its crossover appeal will almost certainly be minimal; but for those willing to embrace its boisterous nastiness it’s one of the years stand-out genre releases.

Shepherding an infectiously seedy carnival of perversity, Pon, along with co-scripter Lee Ankrum, happily piles on the transgressions; from the in-your-face DIY effects, to cannibalism, rape and necrophilia. Though the grotesque one-upmanship is undercut somewhat by Pon’s bursts of clumsy staging and his, at times, far too relaxed sense of pacing (Circus of the Dead clocks in at just under two hours, with a handful of scenes running much longer than they should), for the most part he proves himself a deft directorial hand; especially when it comes to the film’s numerous scenes of knockabout savagery. His flair for outrageous hyper violence is to be applauded, in fact, with one set piece in particular – a late night siege of a mini-mart – rivalling the infamous bar sequence in Kathryn Bigelow’s cult vampire hit Near Dark in terms of knuckle-whitening intensity.

COTD 4Despite being somewhat tamer than recent taboo busters like Human Centipede 2 or the I Spit On Your Grave revamp and its sequel, it’ll certainly be interesting to see how Pon’s unflinching approach affects the film’s certification when – or if – it’s submitted to the BBFC. Fingers crossed it hits these shores, unscathed, soon; the adventurous would do well to seek this one out.

8 out of 10

Currently on the festival circuit, you can keep up to date with all the latest Circus of the Dead developments via their Facebook or twitter feeds HERE and HERE.
Follow Matty on twitter @mattybudrewicz

Werewolf Rising Special Part 2: The BC Furtney Interview

BConset2Werewolf Rising Special Part 2: The BC Furtney Interview

After interviewing Werewolf Rising star Melissa Carnell (Click HERE to read) , UKHS is thrilled to feature an interview with its director/writer BC Furtney. In it he talks about how he came up with the film, shooting issues and interestingly reveals that the UKHS review of the film exposed that the UK release has been cut without his knowledge…

UKHS: Not only are you the director of Werewolf Rising you are also the writer: which role came first you for?

BC: It was sort of a package deal. The whole thing began when our producer, Jesse Baget, called and asked if I had a werewolf script. I confessed that I didn’t – Werewolf Rising is technically my first creature feature. Usually I write about bad people doing bad things. So, I accepted the challenge and got started on this monster story. I write fast, so it was finished in a weekend. After a couple weeks of tweaking, we had a shooting script and it was kind of a given that I’d direct.

bconset3UKHS: As the writer was it easier to translate from page to screen when you directed?

BC: It was easier to think on my feet under a tight schedule, having the characters already so set in my mind. There are always subtle differences in the translation from page to screen, sometimes that’s just production logistics. Wearing both writing and directing hats really just feels like the natural progression and completion of the story that began in a solitary room somewhere. Suddenly, you’re under bright lights and surrounded by people, but the ones who walked off the page are the reason everyone’s there. It’s always exciting to see the writing come alive. It always has been.

WerewolfUSposterUKHS: The film is loaded with great actors, Melissa Carnell (Emma) has a bright future. How did she get involved with Rising?

BC: She’s great, isn’t she? Melissa’s one of the most intuitive actors I’ve had the pleasure of directing. I actually learned a lot, just watching her step in and out of Emma. What happened was, Baget and I were kicking around names and we both had our short lists for Emma, but no one really seemed to encompass what I saw in my head when I was writing her. When I saw her, I knew we had our Emma. It’s funny and you can’t really tell in the film but for some reason a snowstorm in the area avoided our mountain, but the whole area was buried by a blizzard, the highways to the airport were closed and everything. When Melissa flew in, the closest they could get her was an airport across the state, at night, in a snowstorm. So just getting her to the set was this epic journey. I feel like we bonded before cameras even rolled. She’s a total pro.

bconset4UKHS: Bill Oberst Jr is one hell of an intense actor, are you pleased by his powerful screen presence in the film? Did it take a lot of direction or was it natural?

BC: It was a definite honour having Bill involved. With an actor like him in a role like Rhett, as a director, you just kinda let off the brake and let him play. There wasn’t a whole lot of deep philosophical pondering for either of us, I don’t think. Maybe a nudge this way or that, to nail the right tone at the right moment, but Rhett was so clearly written and Bill’s such a force onscreen that we just breezed right through it. It’s always an easy and fun night with Bill Oberst on set. Working with someone like him is truly one of the perks of this gig.

BConsetwithCarnellCopkoUKHS: Emma’s battle with alcohol seems to be an allegory for her battle against the evil in the woods (or the other way around, even): how did you come up with this intriguing parallel?

BC: You’re right, the battle for self-control that rages inside Emma exists in direct parallel with the lycanthrope situation in the woods, and in a sense it’s suppressing something else that’s going on. I don’t want to give anything away, but that monkey on her back simultaneously mirrors and supplants a whole other problem. It was also a way to introduce Emma into this dark playground with one arm tied behind her back, so to speak. In the horror genre, it’s always more fun to turn the screws on a character who’s not at full strength to begin with, isn’t it?

WerewolfRisingUKHS: Werewolf Rising will go on sale in the UK on Sept 8th. What are your hopes for the release?

BC: My hope is simply to provide 80 minutes of escapism for horror and/or werewolf fans who might be hungry for a new beast to emerge from the shadows with an unquenchable bloodlust. And if we can make ’em laugh a little bit or think a little bit along the way, even better. I love a marauding monster as much as the next guy, but there’s also a people story at play – albeit a really dysfunctional one – and hopefully it will speak to viewers as much as the mayhem. Sales would be nice, too!

Also, in the UKHS review you mention Emma downs a bottle of vodka and wakes up sober minutes later. Thats not how the scene actually happens! What does happen is that after Emma pounds the vodka, she wakes up drunk and crawls to the window and passes out again. Then she wakes up a second time, later on, with the worst of the vodka having left her system, or at least that’s what was meant to happen.  I hope to get the cut reinstated for a second pressing in the UK. The US release is the full movie.

James Simpson and UK Horror Scene would like to thank BC for giving us his time and sharing his insights on the making of Werewolf Rising.

Werewolf Rising is out Sept 8th (although other places report Sept 22nd), on DVD: Click HERE to pre-order from Amazon


Werewolf Rising Special Part 1: The Melissa Carnell Interview

melissaOnSetWerewolf Rising Special Part 1: The Melissa Carnell Interview.

Earlier this week UK Horror Scene’s own James Simpson reviewed upcoming Image Entertainment DVD release Werewolf Rising. The tale of a young woman overcoming alcoholism while trying to fight off a werewolf made for an intriuging film. It was very entertaining and is certainly a DVD to seek out when on sale on Sept 8th. The movie stars Melissa Carnell, a young actress with a bright future ahead of her. James Simpson is proud to conduct her first ever interview, exclusively for UK Horror Scene….

UKHS: How did you get involved with Werewolf Rising?

Melissa: I auditioned for a role in Mischief Night which was also produced by Jesse Baget. I didn’t hook it, but Jesse liked my audition and suggested me to BC Furtney, the director and writer of WWR (Werewolf Rising) for the role of Emma.

MelissaOnSet2UKHS: Emma goes through a lot of internal anguish with her battle against alcohol: was that tough for you to convey on screen?

Melissa: I was experiencing nonstop internal anguish as to whether or not I was doing Emma’s internal anguish justice…so not really (laughs). I’ve been to some dark places myself, emotionally, so it felt cathartic to express that through Emma.

UKHS: The struggles with Wayne, Johnny Lee and finally the werewolf seem to be physical manifestations of Emma’s inner turmoil, was that the intention?

Melissa: I don’t recall explicitly discussing that with BC, but I certainly interpreted it that way when I read the script. I could see an alternate ending in which Emma wakes up in a detox program and the entire film has been a journey through her mind–although I like our ending better.

MelissaOnSet3UKHS: What was your favourite scene to shoot?

Melissa: My scene with Bill Oberst Jr. He is an exceptional talent and human being. It’s always a joy to work with him: I walk away feeling encouraged and inspired. I think that’s how most people feel after interacting with Bill. I can’t say enough good things about him.

UKHS: What next for Melissa Carnell’s career?

Melissa: Lucky for me, it’s another Bill Oberst Jr project! Bill plays my father in the film Lost in a Sense. It’s a story of two Amish teens on rumspringa in the summer of 1967, expected release date is February 2015.

melissaPhotoUKHS: Finally, anything you would like to say to our readers who are tempted to buy Werewolf Rising when it hits DVD here on Sept 8th?

Melissa: Please watch it…I need the rent money! (laughs) .But in all seriousness, everyone who worked on this project has a lot of love for the horror genre and I think that comes through. We are excited to contribute a little something to this wonderful community, I hope you love it.

Thanks go to Melissa, UKHS is thrilled that her first interview was on this very site.

Look out for our Werewolf Rising Special part 2, an interview with director/writer/producer of the movie – BC Furtney.

Werewolf Rising (2014) DVD Review

WerewolfRisingWerewolf Rising (DVD Review, 2014)

Director – BC Furtney

Starring – Melissa Carnell, Bill Oberst Jr, Matt Copko, Brian Berry

Run Time – 75 minutes

Release Date – Monday 8th September 2014

Label – Image Entertainment

Emma (Carnell) is a twenty-something from the city that returns to her childhood home that she hasn’t been to in 15 years. It is a secluded house in Arkansas that is ideal for the reason she is there: to kick her alcohol addiction. She want’s to get dry and clear her mind. She encounters her neighbours Wayne (Berry), who she remembers from being a child, and the sexy but dangerous Johnny Lee (Copko). Both seem a little weird and are very interested in the attractive Emma.

werewolfBillJrSomething else has an interest in Emma, out in the woods that surround her home. She keeps hearing howling late at night and is informed by Johnny Lee of wolves in the area. Yet the howling seems to be coming from an animal much bigger and more powerful than a ‘normal’ wolf. Emma starts having horrible dreams involving the woods and a blood soaked man (Oberst Jr) that is an escaped convict – but what role does he play in the nightly howls?

A modern werewolf picture that isn’t too melodramatic and obsessed with pandering to yearning teen girls, Werewolf Rising is a brilliant piece of direct-to-video storytelling and high quality acting.

werewolfCarnellThe cast is limited to a small number of actors that thankfully can handle the large chunks of screen time their characters receive as a result. Carnell as the detoxing Emma plays a warm and friendly woman struggling with a problem that is bigger than her. Berry slowly morphs from caring family friend to lusty pervert in very creepy scenes. Copko portrays a cheery neighbour who it is evident has a dark side that threatens to erupt at any moment. The most disturbing performance is from Oberst Jr, although he is missing from the bulk of the film, as he is extremely intense in every scene he does appear in. It’s rare that a low-budget straight-to-DVD horror has this high a calibre of acting, all the performances are very rewarding as a result.

The plot is about a werewolf but there seems to be a more compelling and emotional story at work too. Emma and her battle against alcohol, plus Wayne admitting to similar issues, is interesting as she battles inner demons as well as external ones in the woods. The fear of succumbing to booze is as scary to her as the danger of being attacked by the werewolf. She also has to battle with the unwanted advances of Wayne as his sexual longing becomes menacing. The movie will create a feeling of uneasiness during the moments of Wayne’s creepy lusting.

werewolfWolfThere are a few minor issues. Some continuity errors like wounds changing positions on people can be over looked but there is one that is a little to big to overlook. Near the end of the movie Emma gives in to her yearning for alcohol when she discovers a bottle of vodka. She gobbles it all down and passes out. The issue with this is that she wakes up minutes later and is completely sober. Also, the werewolf is not that scary when fully shown. It’s painfully clear it is an actor running around in a head-to-toe costume holding his hands in front of him as if he were Orlok in Nosferatu.

Ultimately it’s a gripping and creepy tale of combating internal and external horrors with plenty to think about to supplement the scares.

8 out of 10.

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