Theatre of Fear aka The Midnight Horror Show (2014) DVD Review

THEATRE 001THEATRE OF FEAR aka THE MIDNIGHT HORROR SHOW (2014) DVD

Directed By: Andrew Jones

Written By: Andrew Jones

Starring: Jared Morgan, Lee Bane, Nathan Head, Sam Harding, Shireen Ashton

UK Certification: 15

RRP: £12.99

Running Time: 77 minutes

Distributor: 4 Digital

UK Release Date: 8th September 2014

Ever since the Wales based North Bank Entertainment burst onto the scene with Night of the Living Dead: Resurrection (James Plumb, 2012) I seem to have had a vested interest in them and the path that the company took – not least because my review of NOTLD:R [here] seemed to buck the trend of rabid hate for the film. The movie, which currently holds a 2.4 on IMDb – the same as the turgid Fat Slags (Ed Bye, 2004) I still consider to be a worthy, independently produced low budget homage to Romero’s 1968 classic. I’m in the minority though, as this trend of public disdain continued with The Amityville Asylum (Andrew Jones, 2013) [review here] and Silent Night, Bloody Night: The Homecoming (James Plumb, 2013) [review here].

Much of the erm… ‘mixed reaction’ for these first three North Bank Entertainment titles was no doubt in part to their use of household horror titles knowingly crafted as homages to the originals, and at times verging on remake territory. It’s dangerous ground to tread upon in the horror community but as Andrew Jones the MD of North Bank told UKHS last year, before shooting began these titles were crafted to what would sell from a retail point of view specifically in the nation’s supermarkets. The knowledge of that tends to garner a universal groan of indignation – and though it may be a cynical approach to this beloved genre of ours it’s no different to Charlie Band phoning up Blockbuster 20 years ago and asking what they felt would rent.

THEATRE 002All of this extended pre-amble leads me on to Theatre of Fear, which for the doubters is truly the first North Bank movie that is able to stand on its own as a totally original piece of work. Okay, let me use the term original in its loosest terms there as obviously any picture with the title character by the name of Dr. Moreau will be offering an elbow to the ribs and a wink in the direction of a certain Mr. Wells. Jared Morgan plays the aforementioned Doctor as he welcomes us to this Midnight Horror Show (previous title, theme song title and namechecked throughout – should have kept it) and following a damned stylish opening credits sequence we join an apprehensive couple – Angela and Kevin, as they make their way into the show to discover what sinister form of entertainment they’re to be privy to.

Indeed Angela (Sarah Louise Madison) is about to be chosen as a participant in the first trick of the evening, the classic woman in a box having sharp objects thrust into it. A pregnant pause of silence midway through the act draws gasps from the audience – but alas it’s all part of the show and Angela indicates she’s fine from inside the chamber. As Kevin (Scott Suter) waits for his girlfriend after the performance though her absence is worrying, and as he inspects the carnival layout further he makes the discovery that he feared the most. Who are these travelling troupe of familial misfits, and is there no end to their carnage?

From the seemingly adorable Trinculo Moreau (Head) and his longing for a relationship with Jenny (Tiffany Ceri), to Janus Moreau (Bane) and his unrelenting urge to let his ventriloquist’s dummy own up to his child porn conviction – everything in Theatre of Fear is eyebrow-raisingly bold and character orientated. It’s this element that pulls you in as a genre feature of late has been the anodyne nature of the characters involved, but with Jones’ piece here it’s the total opposite. They’re all genuinely fascinating albeit grimly immoral people who engage you and keep you hooked with their litany of foibles.

THEATRE 003My one annoyance with the movie was the introduction of vengeful hit man Duke Enright (Kevin Horsham) who just struck me as a slightly shallow caricature amongst a collection of well-developed roles. His arrival also seemed to speed up the end of the movie too which appeared to be frustratingly swift, jarring somewhat with the thoughtfully paced first 45 minutes. It’s a minor grumble to be honest as on the whole Theatre of Fear brings a new dimension to the films of North Bank Entertainment, and proves that they’re capable of churning out more than re-imaginations (albeit decent) of familiar genre classics. The look of the film belies its minimal budget, and the project has the signature of a director finding his feet and growing in confidence in a tough industry.

Sales seem to be good for the films that Andrew Jones’ company produces owing to their striking artwork and standout titles that lure the casual shopper into an impulse purchase. Now though he just needs the critical acclaim to follow suit, but if he keeps making films as good as Theatre of Fear then that recognition should be imminent.

6.5 out of 10

Extras:
None

An Interview with Nathan Head by Dean Sills

nh1An Interview with Nathan Head by Dean Sills

This interview is going to be ‘Head’ and shoulders above the rest because this time I get to interview one of my actor friend’s. I have worked with him on a number of films, the guy is really nice and pops up in many horror movies just like Christopher Lee. Please welcome Nathan Head to UK Horror Scene.

OK, let’s get started with the questions.

 

UKHS – Nathan, you are known for your work in independent horrors, how did you get into acting especially in the horror genre?

NH – Well I worked on a few short films while taking acting classes in Manchester some years ago and it sort of grew from there. I’ve always enjoyed watching horror films so it all evolved in that direction. I think my first success in the horror genre was with ‘Mark Macready and the Archangel Murders’, I played Raymond Korkinsky ,the Archangel demon, the film got fantastic reviews and had a limited cinema release supporting Halloween and Someone’s Knocking at the Door in 2009 and was shown at the 63rd annual Festival de Cannes in 2010.

 

UKHS – Can you tell us a little about your previous work as an actor including working on ‘Doctor Who’?

NH – Haha! Well my work on ‘Doctor Who’ was some time ago now, there have been two and a bit Doctors (as of season 8 ) since my little appearance in the show.

I loved working on ‘Voyage Of The Damned’ though, it was the 2007 Christmas special with David Tennant as the Doctor and special guest star Kylie Minogue. I only played a small character, my main scene was in the starship Titanic ballroom, I was mocking two characters and the Tenth Doctor taught me a lesson by over-pressurising a Champagne bottle with his sonic screwdriver, resulting in it erupting all down me, drenching me in a mix of ice cold water and foam. I was very fortunate to be given the opportunity to work alongside such amazing talent on such a huge show. It is amazing that even after all these years I still get the occasional letter from fans of the show, it’s unreal.

 

nh3  UKHS – Since I started acting last year I have been lucky enough to have worked on 4 films that you have also worked on including ‘Blaze of Gory’. What can you tell us about your part in ‘Blaze of Gory’ and did you have fun working with Juliette Strange, Sabrina Dickens and Kate Marie Davies?

NH – Yes, we’ve collaborated on some fun projects, ‘The Eschatrilogy: Book of the Dead’, ‘Exorcist Chronicles’, ‘Dead Walkers’ and of course ‘Blaze of Gory.’ I play Andy Deen in the first segment of the film, called The Beer Cellar, and Andy and his wife (played by Juliette Strange) have been kidnapping victims. I had fun working with the guys and girls on that production, I felt terrible over what my character does to Kate and Sabrina though. I had to keep apologising after takes for what I do to them. ‘Blaze of Gory’ is an extreme horror indeed.

 

UKHS – It’s great that your segment ‘Beer Cellar’ was actually directed by the talented ‘Blaze of Gory’ writer Blaize-Alix Szanto and you also had the brilliant David V.G. Davies on-set. Did both of them live up to your expectations and will we see you team up with David again in the near future?

NH – Blaize-Alix is an amazingly talented girl and I can see her going far, she wrote the film and, as you mentioned, she also directed the segment I worked on. She was new to directing but it came pretty natural to her, she knew what she wanted and I really appreciated the character suggestions she would come up with during filming, just little tips and comments on how my character would move or behave during certain actions. I’ve semi-worked with David VG Davies on a few projects in the past but I’ve never met him until the ‘Blaze of Gory’ shoot, I’d love to work with him again, he’s a great guy. David is a great supporter of independent British Horror and it’s people like him who make the UK Horror industry what it is.

 

UKHS – You have worded on many Indie Horror films, which one was your favourite to work on as an actor and why?

NH – Oh I don’t think I could pick just one, I’ve enjoyed working on most of them and I’ve made so many friends along the way. Each experience is always different and my favourite in their own special way. I guess a few that stand out as the more enjoyable to work on are ‘Exorcist Chronicles’, ‘Legacy of Thorn’, ‘The Midnight Horror Show’,’Blood Curse’, ‘The Eschatrilogy:Book of the Dead’, ‘The Terror of the Killer Carnivorous Coat’, ‘The Psychiatrist’, ‘Sleep’ and ‘The Lost Generation’.

 

nh2 UKHS – What is the hardest role that you have had to play and do you go to extreme lengths to prep for your parts and stay in character?

NH – I think playing Professor Mastema in ‘Dead Walkers: Rise of the 4th Reich’ was the most challenging character I’ve had to play. I don’t think I mastered the German accent as well as I could have, but I think the final result was effective. Mastema is a bit of an oddball and slightly unhinged, plus he was living and working in Romania so I think his accent would be a little muddled anyway. I researched that character quite a bit because of all the mythology behind the film itself. I don’t usually stay in character between filming, I do sometimes do things as my character though, such as brushing my teeth in the mirror or getting dressed in the morning, just to see how my character does everyday activities, but that’s about the lengths of my method acting.

 

UKHS – The next question is from Andy Deen (not your character in ‘Blaze of Gory’ but the fantastic guy who runs UK Horror Scene) . UK Horror seems to be going through something of a renascence , as someone *in the business* have you noticed this?

NH – Well I have noticed various phases of horror themes that keep surfacing, there can be periods of Zombie films all at once or periods of haunted house movies or found-footage films that come in cycles. I’m not sure if there is an obvious renascence in UK Horror at the moment but I do notice certain sudden changes in the popular themes.

 

UKHS – What would you consider to be the three main ingredients that you need to make a classic horror flick?

NH – Well my mother always told me that the easiest cake recipe is one egg, 250g sugar, 250g butter and 250g of flour, all equal measures. I reckon that works the same in horror films. Be it the gore, suspense or the plot, I think it needs to be well balanced and not too much of one thing. I think films like ‘The Descent’, ‘Martyrs’, ‘Hellbound:Hellraiser II’ and ‘The Wicker Man’ got it right. Ha ha I can’t believe I just made a cake analogy, I’ll begin to get a reputation here.

 

nh4UKHS – Nathan, I know you love cakes so I have got to ask you this question, if you could have afternoon tea with three guests (living or dead), who would you choose and which cakes would you bake them?

NH – I have a lot of respect for Jennifer Tilly, who played Tiffany Ray in the three most recent ‘Child’s Play’ films, so she’d be invited and I think I’d bake Tiff a cherry genoa cake filled with blood-red glace cherries, but I’d never ask her to do the dishes afterwards. I’d also like to invite the fabulous Barbie Wilde, who played the female Cenobite in ‘ Hellbound:Hellraiser 2’, but I think I’d have to research what type of cake is best served with a Martini, I know she’d appreciate that. And last, but by no means least, I’d invite Alexander III of Macedon, better known as Alexander the Great, and we’d have a huge plate of date and honey cake, I think that’s what they ate during his era.

 

UKHS – Finally, are you currently working on any other new horror movies which you can tell UKHS about?

NH – I’m working on a few projects at the moment. I play John Lawrence in ‘Legacy of Thorn’, which is the prequel to ‘Slasher House’, that should be out early 2014. I’ve also recently been working with Andrew Jones on ‘The Midnight Horror Show’, which is about an underground variety act made up of a twisted family of killers, I play Trinculo Moraeu the clown. Andrew previously directed ‘The Amityville Asylum’ and ‘Night of the Living Dead: Resurrection’ and it has been amazing working with him on ‘The Midnight Horror Show’, which should be out in May 2014. I’m currently in the middle of shooting ‘Blood Curse: The Haunting of Alicia Stone’ with my good friends Melissa Hollett and Keiron Hollett, it’s been great working with them on the project and I’m sure everyone will love the finished result, so much hard work and skill has gone into ‘Blood Curse’.

nh5Thank you, Nathan. It’s been a real joy talking to you.

Good luck with your new projects and keep up the great work!

Image Courtesy: Nathan Head
www.nathanhead.tv