The Facility (2012) DVD Review

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THE FACILITY (2012)
Dir. Ian Clark        79 mins
Momentum Pictures
UK Release: 6th May 2013

The premise of ‘The Facility’ is an intriguing one. We’ve all seen the adverts inviting people to take part in clinical trials, and those of us with a fertile imagination may have elaborated on such a scenario to wonder “what if it went wrong?”

As the film begins we’re introduced to seven participants of varying ages and backgrounds all arriving at the Linebrook Clinic, a rather sterile building seemingly in the middle of nowhere. They’re told that they are to take part in phase one of the trial, a two week endeavour where they’ll be injected with an initial 2mg dose of Pro9 – the experimental drug – with daily top ups of 1mg.

With the first dosage administered, it’s not long before one of the participants, 22 year old estate agent Jerome (Oliver Coleman), begins to have a serious reaction as he’s found convulsing and screaming on the clinic floor. As anxiety fills the rest of the group, Arif (Amit Shah), perturbed at Jerome’s reaction demands to go home, but is pacified by the trial leader Dr. Mansell (Chris Larkin) into waiting until the morning. As the group finally settles for the night, it’s not long before Arif wakes in a cold sweat and stumbles around the dimly lit facility clearly feeling the effects of the drug. He staggers into the ward where everyone is sleeping and falls to the ground in a heap just as the group turn the lights on to find him covered in someone else’s blood. As the others dash to find help they discover Dr. Mansell, also covered in blood, albeit his own seeping from a gaping wound to his head. Horrified at the evenings developments, the patients set out to escape the terror – if they can find a way out.
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As the storyline progresses, egos come to the fore and individuals press for their own survival tactics to be adopted. The characters that stand out are lead by unemployed Mancunian Derek, played brilliantly by Steve Evets (Looking For Eric), whose willingness to inject himself with a variety of drug cocktails provide some rare humour. Welsh post-graduate Adam (Aneurin Barnard) and office temp Joni (Alex Reid) are also well cast in their roles. I do feel though that the role of journalist Katie (Mia Roberts), who is more obsessed with getting the story  than helping her fellow guinea pigs, could have been fleshed out a little more.

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Overall though, this is a functional British thriller with a horror edge. Set within the claustrophobic confines of this darkened research clinic, the film has an undeniably foreboding feel to it. Ultimately though, it’s a film that leaves you with more questions than answers. It’s a frustrating end to a film that had the seeds to be a solid British genre movie.

5 out of 10

Shadow People (2013) DVD Review

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SHADOW PEOPLE (2013)
Dir. Matthew Arnold        89 mins
Anchor Bay
UK Release: 6th May 2013

What causes healthy, fit people to die in their sleep ? That is the question posed by this supernatural thriller that effectively blends ‘archival footage’ with dramatic recreation.

Charlie Crowe (Dallas Roberts) is a late night radio host desperate for a shot at the big time, but seemingly destined to rot in the graveyard shift of his local radio station, giving airtime to callers obsessed with conspiracy theories and crazy ideas. One such caller is Jeff, who phones Charlie’s show to warn him of ‘shadow people’. Discounting the caller immediately as one of the usual band of cranks, he receives more correspondence from the caller when an envelope is sent to his home the following day marked ‘read and believe’.

That night Charlie hears from Jeff again as he phones the show to utter the chilling words “I’m afraid to go to sleep in case I never wake up”, and he states that he keeps a gun beside him for protection. Seconds later we hear the gun fired, and the phone line fall dead. After a period of anxiety, Charlie finally learns that Jeff has been taken to the local hospital, and the radio station pleads with him to visit Jeff if only as a good PR exercise, but when Charlie reaches the hospital the receptionist informs him that Jeff has died in his sleep.

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Charlie begins to fall deeper and deeper into the mystery when he’s joined by Dr. Sophie Lacombe (Alison Eastwood) who, following another mysterious death, has been assigned by the CDC to investigate what they allege to be a form of sleep paralysis. Can this phenomenon be determined so easily, or is there something far more sinister at work?

Dallas Roberts really excels in this film as the radio presenter who from cold-hearted cynic descends into a sleep deprived state of paranoia. Eastwood too is a worthy foil, remaining a staunch cynic even as evidence that moves away from the scientific explanation comes to light.

I found the way the film is interspersed with so-called ‘actual footage’ of the characters portrayed in the film, alongside reconstructions of certain events to work far better than expected to make this a very decent DTV tale of ‘things that go bump in the night’. Gorehounds may be disappointed at not a drop of blood being spilled, but if you like your horror with a slow, patient build-up and soaked in atmosphere and dread this may well be for you. Credit too for reeling the audience in for an ending that will undoubtedly leave viewers darting to Wikipedia

7 out of 10

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Come Out And Play (2012) DVD Review

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COME OUT AND PLAY (2012)
Dir. Makinov        87 mins
Metrodome Group
UK Release: 6th May 2013

They did what ? They remade ‘Who Can Kill A Child?’. Sacrilege ! In essence that’s what will likely go through the mind of anyone who has seen the excellent 1976 Spanish horror film from Narciso Ibanez Serrador. For the remake we find the location has switched from Spain to Mexico and the very English Tom and Evelyn are now Francisco (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) and Beth (Vinessa Shaw).
‘Come Out and Play’ follows the storyline of the original quite resolutely, and opens with Francis scouring a mainland village one evening for a boat to rent for him and his pregnant wife to explore an island just off the coast – Punta Hueca. After managing to strike a deal with a local resident, the young couple set out the following day over to the remote haven. Upon arrival the only people to be seen are a group of playful children, albeit with one giving our holidaying couple a lingering stare from his dark circle laden eyes – hinting at the forthcoming peril that will face them.
Exploration of the island initially yields discovery of a café with its owner seemingly absent, at which point Francisco leaves Beth with a coke and sets off to find the local store. At this point the desertedness of the island becomes strikingly apparent – apart from the children that is, one of whom has joined Beth in the café and seems particularly absorbed by her pregnant state.

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As the pair then set off for a stroll through the village they find a child beating an old man to death with his walking stick. Francisco steps in to save the man, but as he rushes for supplies to aid him, moments later the children have intervened once more and are seen dragging the elderly gentleman by a rope through the village before viciously beating him to death as Francisco and Beth watch helplessly, pondering their next move on this hellish paradise.

Come Out and Play has a lot to like about it. It has a great synth based score, the Mexican location is certainly an equal to that of Andalucia from the original. The kills are brutal, shocking and effective, and as a note of positivity it doesn’t at least fall into the PG-13 batch of US remakes with generic expressionless lead actors and toned down gore.

That said, this movie struggles to shrug off the big neon “why ?” that hangs over it. There is ultimately nothing new, contemporary or different that’s been injected to the picture to make it stand out from what was an atmospheric, chilling original. Horror fans who haven’t seen the 1976 version will find it worthy of affection, but personally I would much prefer the original, which is available to rent or buy in the UK from Eureka Entertainment.

6 out of 10

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From Beyond (1986) BluRay Review

 

frombeyondFrom Beyond 1986

Dir. Stuart Gordon – Prod. Brian Yuzna  – 86 Minutes  – 18 Cert  –  Region 2

From Beyond is the 1986 release Directed by Stuart Gordon and Produced by Brian Yuzna. Based on the short story by H P Lovecraft it stars Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton who are re-united from Gordon’s previous film , another Lovecraft adaptation Re-Animator.

The story is that Dr Edward Pretorius (Ted Sorel) , who is a sexual deviant and a genius is attempting to discover the secrets of the pineal gland (or third eye). He creates a resonator and opens a world of horror which initially kills him and leaves his student Crawford Tillinghast (Combs) incarcerated in a metal institution .

Dr Katherine McMichaels (Crampton) is a pioneering psychiatrist and decides to return Tillinghast to the scene of the experiment so she can study him as he re-creates the experiment. And then all hell breaks loose in a wonderful adaptation.

This is now being released in the UK courtesy of Second Sight Films in a wonderful BluRay presentation. The colours are stark and vivid and look really fresh here and wonderfully lavish.

But what makes this release so fantastic are the stunning extras featured here. It is chock full of interviews with Gordon , Crampton and Dennis Paoli (screenplay). Also full commentary from Gordon, Yuzna & Combs as well as a great FX piece and much more.

 

frombeyond2BONUS FEATURES:
Stuart Gordon on From Beyond
Gothic Adaptation – an interview with writer Dennis Paoli
The Doctor is in – an interview with Barbara Crampton
Monsters & Slime – the FX of From Beyond
Director’s perspective
The Editing Room – Lost and Found
Interview with composer
Commentary with Stuart Gordon, Brian Yuzna and Jeffrey Combs
Photo montage
Storyboard to film comparison

Includes English subtitles for hard of hearing.

A fantastic release and really if you have any interest in From Beyond then buy this and you will not be disappointed. Second Sight are putting many classic releases out this year and are definitely a company that are dedicated in putting out quality releases.

The BluRay is released on February 25th from all good stockists.

You can also visit Second Sight Films at http://www.secondsightfilms.co.uk or at their Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/SecondSightFilmssecond sight

A Night To Dismember (1983) Review

 

A Night To Dismember (1983)

Dir. Doris Wishman – 69 Minutes

Juri Productions

On the back of Halloweens success the great exploitation director Doris Wishman (Deadly Weapons, Satan Was a Lady, Double Agent 73) decided to have a go at a slasher herself. Casting porn star Samantha Fox as the lead Vicki shooting was done in 1979 and the film was sent off to the processing lab.

Whilst the film was being processed the lab was declared bankrupt and a disgruntled employee attempted to destroy several films of which this was one. Over 34 minutes of the film was completely destroyed so Doris Wishman set about trying to reassemble and finish the film.

She had to reshoot entire scenes , brought in new actors and had the whole thing cut back to 69 minutes. As entire scenes and much of the dialogue was ruined she had a police detective narrate the entire film from his point of view.

The film starts with Vicki being released from a mental institution where she was placed after the murder of 2 young men. Vicki’s brother and sister embark on a scheme to drive Vicki back to the institution by playing various pranks on her so she will think she is truly insane.

 

Vicki also finds out her ex boyfriend Frank is with her sister and Vicki starts to have some good old softcore erotic hallucinations. Also I don’t know if it was just me but there did seem to be a lot of foot shots going on , lingering feet shots aplenty.

There are a series of murders at the same time as Vicki’s release and all fingers point towards Vicki but is she the guilty one??

This film is in reality a complete mess , scenes jump from one to the next with no continuity or sense at times. Doris did her best to restore this but this is almost impossible to follow.

Maybe it would have been best if Doris had just left this alone to go down in history as Doris Wishmans unseen slasher classic? But I was told that one of the reasons she finished it was that the rights had already been pre-sold to distributors so she had no choice.

A mess and a shame 3/10

 

555 (1988) Review

555 (1988)

Dir. Wally Koz – 90 Minutes

King Video Productions

555 was a straight to video release in 1988. Producer and Director Wally Koz and what seems like his entire family shot this in Chicago , and Koz who had no experience in film making was convinced he could shoot a decent slasher on a miniscule budget.

He was hoping to do everything himself , producing and directing along with marketing and distribution. And with various family members he did just that, however with no endorsment or rating from the MPAA almost every copy was seized and as few as 50 were released. Making this one rare VHS. However copies are available now on DVD from the USA.

The film starts with a young couple making out on the beach, they are then attacked and murdered by a knife wielding maniac who is according to an eye witness dressed as a hippie.

Now this isn’t your ordinary killer , oh no this one likes to rape the still warm bodies of the girls he kills. Now terror fills the town as the following night again another college age couple are killed in an equally horrific way. But hope arrives in the form of Sgt Connor and Detective Haller who are on the case along with the sultry news journalist Susan Rather.

 

Together they try to find the killer who they realise kills on the 5th month every 5 years for 5 nights hence 555. So they must stop him before the end of the 5th night .

This is a grainy sleazy piece of 1980′s exploitation that features necrophilia, misogyny and really colourful language. Lots of bloody bare boobs abound and notice the one bloody scream for every female that gets killed .

Yes its not the greatest slasher or even near that but it entertains and thats what counts. If you get a chance to see Wally’s only film then do so and best served with beer and friends. A corny classic .

Way to go Wally Koz 6.5/10

Main Cast

Mara Lynn Bastian as Susan Rather
Charles Fuller as Colonel Peter Wayne
Bob Grabill as The Killer and Police Officer
Greg Kerouac as Sergeant Connor
Greg Neilson as Ralph Kennedy/Joseph Ralph Dwyer
B.K. Smith as Detective Johnny Haller
Wally Koz as Captain Luca

 

Silent Night Deadly Night (1984) Review

 

silentnightdeadlynightSilent Night Deadly Night (1984)

Dir Charles Sellier Jr – 85 Minutes.

Anchor Bay Entertainment / Arrow Video .

If I did my favourite three Christmas Horror films (which I have) , then this would be in it (and it is) .

I just adore this film , it is dark , nasty , bleak and yet full of dark humour.

Released in late 1984 this film caused all kinds of protests leading it to be pulled from cinemas . Before it was pulled it was out-grossing a film released on the same day named A Nightmare on Elm Street.

The film was later released in 1986 by (I believe) Aquarius Films however this was quite heavily edited and cut . The close ups of Billy dressed as Santa with weapons were just cut and also the advertising was completely changed and featured more on the controversy of the original release and less on the killer in a Santa suit.

On a further note this film was never submitted to the BBFC for classification but yet does appear on many of the *video nasty* lists. It was only submitted in 2009 by Arrow Films and was passed totally uncut and was released later that year. The sequel was actually banned (well really just denied a certificate) by the BBFC after the distributors refused to make the suggested cuts.

SNDN starts with a young boy Billy and his family heading away for Christmas and stopping in to see their catatonic Grandfather in a home for the insane . Whilst his parents go off to another room little Billy is left alone with his Grandpa who eerily turns to him and tells him that Christmas Eve is the most evil of nights and that Santa will punish him for his naughty behaviour.

After this they drive onwards where Billy’s father stops to help a broken down motorist who just happens to be dressed as Santa. Oh dear bad mistake as Santa is really a violent criminal who shoots his father , attempts to rape and then slit’s the throat of his mother . Billy witnesses all this from his hiding spot in a nearby ditch . So Billy and his baby brother are left orphans and on Christmas Eve too .

silentnightdeadlynight2They are both taken to a local orphanage run by nuns , where Billy is constantly punished for his bad behaviour (especially in the run in to Christmas) by the Mother Superior (Lilyan Chauvin) , but Sister Margaret (Gilmer McCormick) takes Billy under her wing and looks out for him .
Next we go to Billy aged 18 (Robert Wilson) , and when Sister Margaret gets him a job in the store room of a local toy shop , then everything looks great . Billy is a hard worker and loyal member of staff but with Christmas coming up will he manage to stay on the straight and narrow over the festive period ??

Of course he won’t he is gonna go bonkers and try and kill anyone he believes are being or have been *naughty*.

This is a well made film that didn’t really deserve the harsh protests and personal attacks that were aimed at it. It really is a nice , bloody , nasty slasher that features many boob shots and some nice original death scenes . There is one scene featuring my absolute favourite scream queen Linnea Quigley , who is just in a pair of tiny shorts . She always adds a touch of class to any film she is in , and she is so bloody easy on the eye (especially to a lad whose horror education was in the early 1980‘s). And her death scene here is brilliant.

This spawned 4 sequels which you should never watch unless forced to or very very drunk.

A lovely retro piece of horror that gets better with every watch.

A festive fantastic 8/10