The Long and Bloody Weekend (2015) Short Film Review

‘The Long and Bloody Weekend’ (2015) Short Film Review

Director / Writer: BC Furtney

Starring: Jason Winn ‘JB Destiny’ Bareford, Jennifer Blaze, Michael Kolence

Runtime: 14 mins

Production Co.: Weekend Film

‘He thinks he’s hunting a monster…she thinks he’s insane…one of them is right.’

‘The Long and Bloody Weekend’, on limited release in the US last month, tells the story of a cabin-dwelling loner known only as ‘Del’ (Bareford), who appears from the get-go to be frantically nervy about some kind of presence lurking in the surrounding Texan woods. Polishing, cradling, and at times firing his shotgun, and shouting in frustration at the countryside around his house, we are unsure what manner of creature may or may not be haunting him (and indeed possibly feeding on others), but soon local woman Mary is embroiled into his paranoid behaviour and a frantic struggle ensues…

This short was written, directed and co-produced by BC Furtney, whose other work I’m not familiar with (namely last year’s ‘Werewolf Rising’, which he also directed). Having not seen his feature-length offering I was unsure of what to expect here, but sadly on viewing I was ultimately underwhelmed. Starting with the positives, the piece is capably acted, and the camera work delivers some imaginative angles which accentuate Del’s paranoia and obsession with hunting down the vicious creature before it decides to strike again. The prosthetic effects and costume work are also good considering this is a low budget short and the creature seems to be giving an affectionate nod to the familiar inhabitant of the Black Lagoon.

However, the production does suffer firstly from some sound mix issues – the dialogue in the bar scene was hard to hear in particular. Also, the use of a heart beat sound effect isn’t the most original way to heighten tension, even if it achieves that goal. Disappointingly I found there was an aura of leeriness too in it in terms of the female character and how she was filmed – I really fail to understand why we had to see her in bra and knickers for the main part of her screen time, unless we’re to believe the creature itself has stipulated its meals must only be underwear-clad before it can devour them?

Yes, female nudity or semi-nudity is a long-standing trope of the horror genre but I believe we’re past the point now where it can still get away with cropping up gratuitously even for the sake of irony or ‘proud’ tradition. At least she’s a bit feisty and has a good crack at escaping I guess…

Overall, I just feel ‘The Long and Bloody Weekend’ didn’t offer anything original in terms of concept and the characters felt very flat and cardboard cut-out – admittedly it’s harder to develop characters and flesh out absorbing dialogue in a short than it is in a feature-length offering but it is possible (e.g. the weary yet determined Lily in ‘A Stranger Kind’). On the whole I found it to be an offering that’s not terrible but unfortunately just left me pretty cold personally.

4/10

New Trailer & Poster for UK chiller ‘The House of Screaming Death’

HOSD Vintage PosterNew Trailer & Poster for The House of Screaming Death

With its roots firmly in the world of classic HAMMER HORROR anthology films, THE HOUSE OF SCREAMING DEATH revolves around the sinister & mysterious storyteller, known as THE ARCHITECT who on one eerie night, in an old Manor House, is preparing to share four CHILLING tales with a captive audience he has invited.

As each story unfolds in their own unique, bloody & frightening way, the finale will shock and terrify as THE ARCHITECT also has one last story of his own to share.

The House of Screaming Death will be a truly innovative and welcome return to celebrated BRITISH GOTHIC HORROR of a bygone era and will definitely promise you sleepless nights!

Visit The House of Screaming Death at http://www.screamingdeath.co.uk
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Signature Entertainment Presents The Vatican Tapes at Cinemas and On Demand October 30th, 2015

Signature Entertainment Presents The Vatican Tapes at Cinemas and On Demand October 30th, 2015

“A demon’s greatest threat is not to your body, but your soul.” – Cardinal Bruun

vattapesquad

After a young woman (Olivia Taylor Dudley) begins to express increasingly erratic and strange behaviours, her father (Dougray Scott) and boyfriend (John Patrick Amedori), along with a priest Father Lozano (Michael Peña) and two Vatican exorcists (Djimon Hounsou and Peter Andersson as Cardinal Bruun), come to realize that she’s been taken over by an ancient satanic force. It’s all up to Father Lozano to wage war for more than just Angela’s soul, but for the world as we know it…

THE VATICAN TAPES is directed by Mark Neveldine.

The story is brought to life by a cast that includes Olivia Taylor Dudley, Michael Peña, Dougray Scott, Djimon Hounsou, Peter Andersson, Kathleen Robertson and John Patrick Amedori.

CERT: 15 | RUNNING TIME: 87 MINS

The Passage aka Lemon Tree Passage (2014) DVD Review

passage1The Passage aka Lemon Tree Passage (2014)

Director: David Campbell

Writers: Erica Brien, David Campbell

Stars: Jessica Tovey, Nicholas Gunn, Pippa Black

UK DVD Release – 5th October 2015 from Metrodome UK

A group of American backpackers on vacation in Australia are befriended by two local guys and introduced to the “true story” of Lemon Tree Passage – a remote stretch of road that is haunted by the ghost of a motorcyclist who appears to warn drivers to slow down. Doubtful of the legitimacy of the tale they decide to put it to the test and go for a late night spin along the famed passage. Of course, they end up with much more than they bargained for and are killed off one by one in violent fashion by a mysterious malevolent entity. An entity that is definitely not there to discourage reckless driving.

The urban legend of the ghostly motorcyclist on Lemon Tree Passage is actually true… to a degree. Apparently it became somewhat of an internet phenomenon a few years ago when a YouTube video of a mysterious headlight following behind a car and then vanishing in to thin air went viral. However, anyone hoping for a film about the apparition of a motorcyclist will be sorely disappointed, as writer-director David Campbell and co-writer Erica Brien merely use this urban legend as a springboard for their own ghostly yarn (and no doubt an excuse to plaster ‘based on actual events’ on the promotional paraphernalia).

passage2There is some nice cinematography throughout the film and Australian actor Jessica Tovey gives an excellent performance as American tourist Maya. This is a well made, slick looking film but unfortunately that is about all I have in the pro column. Not that this is a bad film, it is just gloriously mediocre. There is nothing that you haven’t seen before and nothing that you will be eager to see again, and it does not do itself any favours with its slow pacing and lacklustre deaths. The actions of the characters defy logic every step of the way as it limps along towards its grand finale, which goes off not with a bang but with a whimper. I can only really recommend watching this if you are a fan of Jessica Tovey or a die hard fan of Australian horror.

4/10

Icon Film Distribution Announces Further Titles For ‘FrightFest Presents’ Label!

ICON FILM DISTRIBUTION ANNOUNCES FURTHER TITLES FOR ‘FRIGHTFEST PRESENTS’ LABEL

Icon Film Distribution (IFD) and FrightFest, the UK’s leading horror fantasy film festival, have announced a further three films which will be released under the curated banner ‘FrightFest Presents’.

The new titles are as follows;

Night of the Living Deb-WEB1NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEB, directed by Kyle Rankin starring Maria Thayer (Forgetting Sarah Marshall), Michael Cassidy (Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice), Christopher Marquette (Just Friends, The Girl Next Door) and Ray Wise (Infestation, Twin Peaks).

After a girls’ night out, endearingly awkward Deb wakes up in the apartment of the most attractive guy in Portland, Maine. She’s thrilled, but can’t remember much of what got her there. Ryan only knows it was a mistake, and ushers her out the door into a full-scale zombie apocalypse. Now, a walk of shame becomes a fight for survival as the mismatched pair discovers that the only thing scarier than trusting someone with your life… is trusting them with your heart.

Some Kind of Hate-WEB1SOME KIND OF HATE, directed by Adam Egypt Mortimer starring Ronen Rubenstein (It Felt Like Love), Sierra McCormick (Disney’s ‘’Ant Farm’’), Grace Phipps (Fright Night, Tales of Halloween), Noah Segan (Starry Eyes, Looper), Lexi Atkins (Ted2, The Boy Next Door, Zombeavers), Spencer Breslin (The Happening, The Kid), Michael Polish (The Astronaut Farmer)

When a troubled teen is subjected to severe bullying, he accidentally conjures Moira Karp. Once a teenage girl pushed to suicide, Moira is now an unstoppable force on a mission of gruesome retribution. But when she goes too far, he must prevent her from spiraling out of control in this passionate and vividly supernatural thriller.

Some Kind of Hate is being sold for International by Devilworks.

Last-Girl-Standing-WEB3LAST GIRL STANDING, written and directed by Benjamin R Moody starring Akasha Villalobos (Where the Red Fox Lies), Danielle Evon Ploeger and Brian Villalobos.

Five years ago, a masked killer brutally murdered a group of friends. Since then, Camryn (Akasha Villalobos), the lone survivor, has struggled to reclaim her shattered life. Wracked with guilt and paranoia, Camryn leads a depressingly lonely existence until Nick (Brian Villalobos), a new co-worker, befriends Camryn and attempts to integrate her into his group of friends. Just when she might be ready to start a new life, Camryn’s past comes back to haunt her. Can Camryn ever have a life again, or is she destined to be alone?

All three titles recently had their UK theatrical premières at the FrightFest five day festival at the Vue Leicester Square.

frightfestpresents

The exclusive Icon and FrightFest partnership, first announced in April, will see titles released across the UK and Ireland via the distributor’s digital partners (including iTunes, Virgin Movies, Sky, Google Amazon, Xbox , Blinkbox, Google, Wuaki, TalkTalk and Volta) giving film fans instant access to some of their favourite FrightFest titles.

‘FrightFest Presents’ launches officially on 19 October with a consumer campaign pushing out from the beginning of the month. Each release has the collective backing of IFD and FrightFest across all marketing, PR and social channels.

Previously announced titles include AAAAAAAAH!, THE SAND, AFTERDEATH, LANDMINE GOES CLICK, EMELIE, THE LESSON and ESTRANGED.

Since FrightFest was set up 15 years ago, it has grown in size and stature, and is today internationally renowned for discovering exciting and original horror fantasy genre films. Last August, the festival screened 74 of the best horror films from around the world to UK audiences, with many world and European premieres. Over the years the festival directors, Greg Day, Alan Jones, Paul McEvoy and Ian Rattray, have also brought masters of the genre to the festival including Guillermo del Toro, George Romero, Dario Argento and Sam Raimi. FrightFest has developed into a brand leader for horror film, expanding its footprint in the UK by hosting special strands at other festivals to great success, such as the recent three-day event at the Glasgow Film Festival.

IFD has a longstanding track record in releasing genre films, from breakout hit PARANORMAL ACTIVITY which grossed a phenomenal £10 million at the UK box office to the cult vampire thriller 30 DAYS OF NIGHT, as well as re-issues of classic Hammer titles including DRACULA and THE MUMMY. Most recently, IFD released the critical and box office hits IT FOLLOWS and THE BABADOOK, Jennifer Kent’s psychological horror story, which burst out of FrightFest’s August festival to become one of the most talked about horrors of 2014.

Infernal (2015) DVD Review

infernal1Infernal (USA, 2015)

Dir: Bryan Coyne

Starring: Andy Ostroff, Heather Adair, Alyssa Koerner

UK DVD release 24th August from Signature Entertainment

Plot: Nathan (Orstroff) and Sophia (Adair) are a young couple beginning their life together, moving in together, marriage and the birth of their child, Imogene (Koerner).However their marital bliss is short lived as Imogene starts to exhibit strange behaviour. They seek medical help with what they assume is autism and are instructed to film Imogene’s day to day life. The camera captures the dark occurrences of the supernatural happenings around the house as well as the collapse of Nathan and Sophia’s relationship.

Infernal is the second film of director Bryan Coyne (His first being Harvard Park, a baseball documentary)and first feature as a writer. Infernal has a complete absence of baseball but it does keep a hint of the documentary style by being a found footage film. It follows in the stylistic footsteps of Paranormal Activity but I have to say that I wish that it had chose a more traditional film making style. While I can find the merit in a well made found footage film, the choice here doesn’t really work. Many scenes don’t have the motivation required to have the camera switched on and the characters actively refuse to revisit the footage for the majority of the film and when they do it’s always met with a conflict of interest. There is clearly a demonic presence, Infernal makes a bold choice by having physical demons on screen, yet the couple refuse to seek help until it’s much too late.

infernal2Imogene is the focus of all the spooky occurrences of the film, channelling more of The Omen’s Damien than The Exorcist’s Regan. However unlike The Omen with it’s ambiguous nature, Infernal is quick to clarify that Imogene is a demonic force and her parents are right to be afraid. Except they’re rarely afraid,at least at the same time. When Nathan sees something on the footage that’s clearly not normal, Sophia can’t find the time to care. When Sophia wants to get a priest involved, Nathan doesn’t believe anything is wrong with their daughter. It often feels that the two would rather be right than help their daughter, or at the very least save themselves. They spend a lot of time being angry and not much time showing that they are part of a loving relationship.

Nathan and Sophia’s relationship is built up on screen through their proposal and wedding video as a way to stay in the framework of the found footage but it’s not enough to believe that their life is not that hellish before the demons show up. Perhaps without the found footage there could have been at least a montage of their relationship but the film chooses to jump forward eight years after their marriage to get to the action and it felt very jarring.

There are positives about Infernal,it’s got decent production values even behind the shaky camera movements and the occasional dark scene. The sound is always clear and some of the more demonic scenes are well orchestrated.

infernal3The film has potential. The actors deliver good performances but they could have used more material than be angry and be confused. Bryan Coyne has shown us that he can do what so many others have done with found footage/evil children films but I hope that his next film can show that he can take it to the next level.

3/10

Eyes Without A Face (1960) Blu-Ray Review

ewaf1EYES WITHOUT A FACE (Dir- Georges Franju, FRA/ITA, 1960)

Starring- Pierre Brasseur, Edith Scob, Alida Valli

UK Release August 24th from BFI on Dual Format DVD/Blu-Ray.

Once reviled on release, especially in the UK, EYES WITHOUT A FACE took its time to be eventually looked upon as a classic of genre cinema, even having the gaudy title THE HORROR CHAMBER OF DR FAUSTUS on it’s US release, which makes the film sound like a B-movie schlock fest. However it’s a film that also gained praise on it’s initial outing and has since become hailed as classic of genre cinema, one that fuses elements of melodrama, noir, mad scientist movie with a slight Gothic aesthetic to produce a superb and beautiful masterpiece, and thankfully the British Film Institute has made a fantastic Blu-Ray release worthy of any cinema fans collection.

Opening with a noir-esque shot of a women alone in a car driving down a stretch of road and then getting out of the car to dispose of a corpse. This women is Louise (Valli) a loyal assistant to celebrated surgeon Dr Genessier (Brasseur), whose daughter has gone missing. The reasons for the disposal of the corpse at the start become clear when once its found by the authorities, Genessier identifies it as his daughters, as this is all a cover, as his sibling is at his secluded mansion and is in hiding or rather more like imprisonment as she is hideously disfigured from a car crash with only her eyes remaining and with most of her facial features gone and with a garish white looking mask to wear that. His daughter, Catherine (Scob) strikes a tragic figure throughout the film almost bound to be imprisoned whilst her father and Louise lure girls to the mansion and drug them and surgically remove the face, so that Genessier can make sure Catherine obtains a new face. It’s only when cracks start appearing in the Surgeon’s work and he needs to find more girls who will replace his daughters missing facial skin, that the police start to show interest and its not long before Catherine has other ideas of her own.

ewaf2Franju’s film, as mentioned before, was dismissed by some critics on it’s release though also hailed by others. The revulsion might come from the films infamous sequence of facial removal surgery, that even I found slightly queasy to watch, yet at the same time fascinated by it’s characters precise surgical movements done in an almost technical instructional manner yet at the same time going against all moral conduct that Genessier has now forgotten. This is only one sequence though in a film in which the characters are the main interest and not the sight of gory surgery, Herschell Gordon Lewis this aint, if that’s what your looking for. In many ways it blends an almost traditional mad scientist horror motif with a updated present day (for its time) background as Genessier can be seen as the mad doctor obsessed with performing the most ground breaking surgical breakthrough, yet losing his moral compass completely albeit assisted with a loyal aide (not a hunchbacked Igor like assistant) and with his daughter as less of the monster as more of the captive imprisoned victim who would rather accept her fate than become a mere subject for her fathers experiments. Indeed there is a certain tragic element in Scob’s superb portrayal of Catherine and even though we only see her actual face/other persons face grafted on in one scene, she spends most of the film hidden behind a haunted looking white mask that only has eye holes to show any expression.

ewaf3Yet her performance shines through this showing the hidden anguish inside her especially at her father’s seemingly horrific obsession which is costing the lives of many innocent women. In particular one stand out memorable scene is when Catherine goes into the basement of the house and comforts the dogs imprisoned in cages constantly barking and also victims of Genessier’s experiments, as these are the only beings she can relate to now as she herself is effectively caged. Brasseur is also excellent in his role as the surgeon, a well respected man who we see for the first time giving a lecture on the possibility of skin grafts, and some can argue he is also a tragic figure someone driven by a need to restore his daughters beauty, as he feels guilt for causing the car crash that led to her disfigurement yet he is also willing to lie to the authorities about her death and willing to cross the line to use human subjects. He comes across as less of a monster and more a flawed, obsessed individual who cannot see what harm he is causing. As his assistant Valli, is again another superb addition and whose name horror fans will be familiar with from Argento’s SUSPIRIA, and is great in her role as a loyal aide to the doctor acting very friendly and to the victims she lures to the house, and even in once scene starts to seemingly question the madness and motives behind what she is doing but remaining ever loyal to the surgeon.

ewaf4This is only the second time that I’ve seen Franju’s film and even on its first viewing I knew the film had a certain appeal to it, and now on a second watch the film becomes more richer in its dark mood, it’s superb rendering of old horror motif’s into an updated story, and a beautiful slight Gothic quality to its proceedings, and without giving too much away contains a superb final shot that is equally haunting and moving in its eerie beauty. A deserved masterpiece worthy of any genre fans attention.

10/10

Special Features

Remastered in High Definition

Feature-length audio commentary by film expert Tim Lucas (Video Watchdog)

Monsieur et Madame Curie (Georges Franju, 1953, 14 mins): a study of the life and work of the Curies, told through the words of Marie Curie

La Première nuit (Georges Franju, 1958, 20 mins): a young boy spends a night in the Métro

Les Fleurs maladives de Georges Franju (Pierre-Henri Gibert, 2009, 50 mins): an overview of Georges Franju’s career

For Her Eyes Only – An interview with Edith Scob (L P Hugo, 2014, 17 mins)

Fully illustrated booklet featuring essays from Kate Ince, Isabel Stevens, Roberto Cueto Llera, Raymond Durgnat, Kevin Jackson and Michael Brooke; and full film credits

UK | 1960 | black & white | French language, with optional English subtitles | Original aspect ratio 1.66:1

Disc 1: BD50 | 1080p | 24fps
Disc 2: DVD9 | PAL

The Human Centipede 3 (Final Sequence) (2015) DVD Review

hc1The Human Centipede III (Final Sequence) (2015)

Director: Tom Six

Writer: Tom Six

Stars: Eric Roberts, Bree Olson, Dieter Laser, Laurence R. Harvey

UK DVD out now from Monster Pictures UK

Taking inspiration from The Human Centipede films, the warden of a notorious and troubled prison looks to create a 500-person human centipede as a solution to his problems.

From the opening scene we are made aware of the intentions of this film. It is to be an even further satire of itself. The Human Centipede III (THC3) goes full meta, transcending the initial sequel’s self-referential tone once again. This time around however, there is more focus on the dark humour rather than the visceral imagery, leaving the centipede itself almost as an afterthought. For those of you unfamiliar with THC trilogy, the original claiming to be “100% medically accurate” introduced us to the ‘pede. Many would have avoided the film on this premise alone. In actual fact a lot was left to the imagination while gore and filth were left clinically censored. It was up to you the viewer to envisage the horror, which was in itself slightly plausible, adding to the discomfort.

hc2Wondering how this concept could possibly be expanded, Six did in fact manage to take it a step further in the follow up THC2. If there was any doubt as to how this franchise could get more disgusting, it was delivered in full here. Using the first film as inspiration, a mentally disabled and sexually abused night watchman, takes it upon himself to make his own human centipede. The result was a less clinical, blunt, violent filth fest, which was utterly fantastic. An intentional decision I believe, as it was actually a lot more believable than the first,proving Six is not afraid to push the envelope.

With the magnum opus that was THC2, under his belt; Six had to deliver something really special to top THC2. Enter please THC3 (Final Sequence). We are introduced to prison warden Bill Boss (Dieter Laser), a man at his wit’s end with the prison. High riot rates, medical costs and prisoner turnover, he has resorted to any means to keep the prison population in check. Involuntary castration, boiling-water boarding, anything! It doesn’t work. His accountant, Dwight Butler (Laurence R. Harvey) has an idea; a prison-centipede, 500 men long. He got the idea from watching the first two films. Under pressure from Governor Hughes (Eric Roberts) to rectify the situation in the prison, Boss is eventually convinced to move ahead with the ‘pede, that will, quite figuratively, bring the inmates to their knees. Tom Six is himself drafted in as consultant human centipede expert, who also gives his blessing to the project adding to the absurdity of it all.

hc3While I can appreciate what it is that is trying to be done here, as I myself am a huge fan of the series, it just didn’t deliver on its promise. When one has to turn on the subtitles to understand the film, which is in your native tongue, you know you’re in trouble. As much as Laser captivated audiences as the maniacal Dr. Joseph Heiter in THC1, his role as Bill Boss here is completely overacted. Scenes are filled with unintelligible shouting, hence the reason for subtitles. In an era where people expect a degree of intelligence to their villains, this performance stands out like a sore thumb in comparison to the supporting cast. Harvey then, as a result is overshadowed by Laser, who actually gave a good performance as the insecure and sheltered Butler. (It must be noted also that an unused alternate ending in my opinion, would have justified Boss’ persona while also wrapping up the series in a nice bow.)

Shouting aside, the production value and supporting cast were actually rather good. THC3 had its moments, admittedly I found myself both laughing and cringing at some of the antics in the prison. Six himself can be seen struggling to keep a straight face when present on screen as a reminder, that this film is meant to be a big two fingers to all the critics. For this I admire Six, he made a third instalment… because he could, and then went completely over the top with it, for better or for worse.

17933300729_7fee1ba1c0_zWeighing it all up, the final sequence of the trilogy entertained. It had its flaws but somehow worked in its own way. In Six’s own words the film is a “…pitch black comedy and total insanity”. I agree, but in taking this approach, it did deviate from the shock horror that the franchise is known for. This is in line with what Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 did for its franchise, as the previous instalment could not be trumped for its horror; a dark comedic direction was taken in its place. With the prison human centipede getting severely limited screen time however, the film could have stood on its own without it. This would leave the fantastically complementary First and Full Sequence intact as shock horror icons paving the way for new and fresh ideas that I’m sure Six has plenty of, for example, the upcoming The Onania Club.

Flawed, silly, but a bit of fun all the same.

6/10

Amigo Undead (2015) Review

Amigo Undead CoverAmigo Undead (2015)

Director: Ryan Nagata

Starring: Randall Park, Dave Sheridan, David Clennon

Available on iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/amigo-undead/id992339789

The Many Lives of Jovan Cornejo

Straight laced financial advisor Kevin (Randall Park) lives an organized, ordinary life filled with routine and simple pleasures. When his estranged brother Norman (Steve Agee) calls to inform him of his recent diagnosis of diabetes, Kevin reluctantly agrees to visit Norman at his new home for a dying man’s last birthday bash. Along with Norman’s friends Wayne the racist and Ian the drug dealer, as well as his faithful Mexican companion Jovan, Kevin must suffer a weekend in the desert that quickly turns into anything but a normal camping trip.

Horror comedies that find a perfect balance between humor and horror are hard to come by in the genre. Shaun of the Dead is a superb example of a more recent horror comedy done right, along with the likes of Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, Housebound, or Dead Snow, but many times an attempt at injecting a few cheap laughs into a fright flick fall flat due to poor pacing, bad jokes, or awkward timing. Amigo Undead is not only successful in its delivery of the laughs, but avoids the pitfalls of its less successful contemporaries with some sharp writing and solid chemistry among the actors.

Amigo Undead JovanAmigo Undead initially feels like a buddy comedy with oddball characters and hilarious one-liners. If the film had stopped there, not taking a chance to make it anything more than what it appeared to be, I would have still watched every second. Randall Park’s accidental humor as deadpan realist Kevin and Steve Agee’s man-child logic are complimentary, while the remaining cast offers additional, on point delivery of a well written script. I laughed throughout the entire film, both from the ridiculous scenarios and dialogue, but never once felt that anything was out of place. For a horror comedy, this is a shining accomplishment and speaks volumes to the talent of writers George Edelman and Ryan Nagata.

As a horror film, Amigo Undead gives viewers a persistent, and oft amusing, villain. Although I won’t give much away, Ed Galvez as Jovan is relentless, amusing, and the vehicle to the film’s comedic situations that do not let up once the plot’s momentum is reached. An appearance by David Clennon (Palmer from John Carpenter’s The Thing) as Old Man Schumer is also a nice nod to diehard horror fans. The effects are just enough to offer some great blood and guts while never relying on gloss to impress viewers. Director Ryan Nagata also uses an otherwise bleak and barren backdrop to create some interesting and engaging set pieces, and a more traditional sound score replete with upbeat, Western inspired music and menacing horror themes wraps around an already well-devised film.

Amigo Undead NormanI have always loved a good horror comedy, but not many resonate with what makes human interaction during chaos so amusing. Amigo Undead has topped my list as the funniest film that I have seen in quite some time, and one of the top horror comedies of the last twenty years. Everything, with deliberate fluidity, only adds to an already fun and entertaining story, and surprised me with some genuine, fresh humor. Hopefully, Amigo Undead snags the attention it needs to reach a broader audience and to find a place on the shelves of horror fans around the world. Seek this one out!

10/10

 

Hazard aka Hazmat (2013) DVD Review

hazmat1Hazard AKA HazMat (2013)

Directed by Lou Simon

Starring Norbert Velez, Todd Bruno

Hazard is out NOW on DVD from 101 Films!

Hazard begins like any run of the mill slasher, a girl being chased and failing to escape a madman, but it’s soon discovered that this is in fact a twisted candid camera show called Scary Antics. If you have seen the Shannon Doherty hosted TV show Scare Tactics (2003), then you’ll be familiar with the concept. Hosted by Scary Dave (Todd Bruno), Scary Antics allows members of the public to set up their friends to experience true terror at the hands of a television crew, hidden cameras dotted everywhere capture the antics as one scare leads to another.

The latest episode, set in an abandoned warehouse, has been arranged to terrorize Jacob (Norbert Velez), his friends are in on it and working with the TV crew and for the first half of the film we are introduced to all the cast and discover why everyone is there, some are hungry for their fifteen minutes of fame,others are in debt and some are hoping a scare will bring their friend out of his shell.

hazmat2Things take a turn for the worse when Jacob, not knowing he is being set up, decides to defend himself with deadly force as he is attacked by one of the axe wielding ‘cast members’ dressed in a hazmat suit and gas mask. Now fully aware that he is the subject of a prank show, Jacob is furious and quickly sends the TV show in to a new world of reality with the crew shocked that they are now to be the victims of his revenge.

The team of pranksters soon fall victim to the tale of the boy who called wolf as their only hope of salvation thinks he is being set up for a behind the scenes prank refuses to help them. Now trapped in the warehouse with no chance of escape.

The second half of this film shows Jacob unleashing revenge on those who have tried to prank him and I began to think back to shows such as Beadle’s About (1986-1996) and more recently Punk’d (2003 -2012) and how thrilled I would be to see Ashton Kutcher or Jeremy Beadle get punched in their smug bastard faces and Yes Jacob, now wearing the hazmat suit does a good job of offing these as for the cast of this film, there isn’t quite enough there for me to like any of them but then hey, isn’t that part of the Slasher genre, who cares about the story, lets just get to the killing.

The film unfolds with numerous attempts at escape with each one leading to a kill, some of which are well’executed’ for the budget, but with a slasher film I expect to see a kill scene that’s memorable.

hazmat3Hazard is a clever look at how a reality show is planned out, the scripting for the crew is believable and the team seem to be well established and the on-screen chemistry between them is evident. The intended victim Jacob, doesn’t have much screen time before he goes all crazy and dons the suit and mask. As a regular person, he delivers a good performance, he shows the turmoil of being the subject of teasing well, but as a revenge fuelled killer, he offers nothing new. It seems as if the film is pandering to the need for a killer to be masked and silent, perhaps through homage but it comes across as being more cliché.

I love the Slasher genre, its part of my upbringing and although now dated, my allegiance does lie with Jason Vorhees, his mother and the whole Friday the 13th (1980) franchise. I am however willing to appreciate other masked psychos who stand up to the challenge, I was very impressed with the 2011 independent offering The Orphan Killer and I am one of the few who enjoyed the remake of My Bloody Valentine (2009).Now does Hazard tick the boxes and become a worthy contender?

This is a reasonable addition to the modern slasher and it does nicely bring in to play the current trend for reality TV much better than other mediocre entries in to the genre. Sadly though, this film couldn’t quite deliver anything outstanding especially within its final moments.

hazmat4For a homage piece it does well and for fans of the genre, it is a nice addition to a collection. It obeys the rules of a slasher film without screwing with the audience like a clone of the Scream series.

Watch it to reminisce about the classic slashers and then go and watch one of them, but do not watch it if you are expecting to see something new to the genre.

6 out of 10