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Abandoned Dead (2017) DVD Review

rsz_1adABANDONED DEAD (2017)

Dir- Mark W. Curran

Starring- Sarah Nicklin, Judith O’Dea, Carlos Ramirez, Robert E Wilhelm

UK DVD Release – Feb 27th 2017 from LEFT FILMS

A security guard’s sudden night shift at an addiction clinic and the sinister goings on that befall this luckless worker are the main plot focus for Mark W. Curran’s independent horror ABANDONED DEAD, that whilst showing some of its budget constraints and at times flaws slipping through the cracks does also allow it’s director and main star to showcase their talent on a shoestring.

Rachel (Nicklin) is on her way home from a day shift but at the last minute she is called up by her boss to cover a late shift over the memorial day weekend and being at night is something that she is not too keen on since she has a “problem with night-time” (sure that’s known as fear of the dark?). Given a quick tour of the addiction clinic that’s her work place for the night, she is warned by the secretary who is about to leave her, to lock the doors at all times (that rule will be broken) and being assured not be afraid despite learning that the clinic is in a bad area and that addicts have tendency to try and break into the building for extra methadone. Once she is the only person there its not long before strange things start to happen, weird noises and voices Rachel starts to hear and soon she finds herself possibly the focus of a killer or supernatural presence that wants to end her shift pretty abruptly and some of this may also tie in with a detective (Ramirez) investigating a spate of murders and disappearances linked to the clinic.

rsz_1ad1Whilst ABANDONED DEAD is clearly a low budgeted feature and that does unfortunately seep through during its short and sweet running time of 77 minutes, there are still moments within the film to appreciate amongst the faults and the director clearly knows how to pace and set up a story well and given the limitations of the budget he has still managed to make an interesting feature that knows not to stretch beyond its means and also not deliver a slowly driven feature that can be the fault of many an independent film. Yes, as mentioned there are flaws. Aside from a decent performance by Nicklin, some of the other acting seems a bit ropey and hammy including a scene with a caretaker of the building who for some reason might be linked to the dead, skinned cats that are lying about outside the clinic and some hammy acting from a mad doctor (Wilhelm) who could be linked to the disappearances that have occurred at the clinic and seems to be more interested in performing surgery of the less life saving kind.

Some effects in the film don’t fully work an example of which is a shot of a female ghoul that looks a bit hokey to the point of not being scary but more laughable, yet at the same time effects are kept to a minimum which in the long run is a good decision from a production standpoint and the final twist is pretty easy to figure out and at times seems a pretty obvious sign post once the film escalates to its final conclusion. The police detective as well seems a bit like he’s popped up from another film with earlier scenes of him wandering around a city night-scape accompanied with a voice over monologue trying to sound like a film noir private detective. His inclusion, at first, seems a bit of a confusing character in terms of what his position will be towards the films proceeding story and the scenes of him wandering around to drag and add an uneven tone. But then in retrospect this could be a neat ploy by Curran that plays into the films final twist.

rsz_1ad2Incidentally the horror buffs and geeks around will be pleased to see NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD’s Judith O’Dea in a brief role as a doctor. Despite some flaws and a predictable twist there is still much to enjoy in ABANDONED DEAD and its in the later part of the twist that some neat and stylish scenes are executed that clearly shows Curran has a talent and a knack of leading a story into an atmospheric conclusion and in these latter parts there are scenes that are unnerving in their portrayal. Whilst certain parts of the film look a bit weak its hard not to be impressed by this neatly packed supernatural thriller that offers creepy moments, confident direction and a willingness to express some maturity and aspiration beyond its limitations.

6/10

Screenbound announce the launch of two brand new Euro cult film labels!!

Screenbound is delighted to announce the launch of two brand new Euro cult film labels, Maison Rouge will specialise in Euro Sleaze and Black House Films will focus on Euro Horror.

Maison Rouge kicks off with two classic titles, the first is from master of Euro Sleaze Jess Franco – Female Vampire (aka Bare Breasted Countess) – which arrives on DVD on 6 March 2017, followed by two Patrice Rhomm classics Helga, She Wolf of Stilberg on DVD 13 March 2017 and Elsa Fraulein SS set for release on 17 April 2017.

The first release from Black House Films will be zombie classic Zombie Lake from French horror maestro Jean Rollin, set for DVD on 20 March 2017 and Juan Fortuny’s Crimson on 17 April 2017.

Screenbound’s managing director Alan Byron said: ‘When Screenbound started as Odeon Entertainment 13 years ago with several music productions, our first step into film sales was representing Nigel Wingrove’s Jean Rollin and Jess Franco Euroshock and sleaze titles for Salvation Films. In a sense, we have now come full circle by launching our own new cult labels – Maison Rouge and Black House Films – which will showcase the best and basest of Euro Exploitation over the next three years. Maison Rouge will focus on sexploitation and once established will bring in new as well as retro cult features. Its sister label, Black House Films, takes its inspiration from the Church of Satan and will release dark, Gothic horrors from the 1960s to 1980s.’

Both imprints are being released on DVD with each having multiple poster art cards inside for collectors. Most releases will have special features included and a selection of titles will be released on limited edition Blu-ray with O Cards.

Alan Byron continued: ‘Plans are already in place to pick up another 20 films for these labels which already have a distinctive design appeal that is being appreciated by the fan base’.

rsz_bbcEuro Sleaze maestro Jess Franco, directs and also makes an appearance in this cult vampire movie from 1975. Lina Romay is Irina, the beautiful last descendant of a family of vampires from distant Bohemia. When she takes Austrian writer, Baron von Rathony (Jack Taylor), as her lover, her gluttonous lips devour him, as he surrenders his body and soul to her.

Title: Female Vampire aka Bare Breasted Countess
Release Date: 6 March 2017
Cat No: MR001
Certificate: 18
Running Time: TBC
RRP: £9.99
Special Features: Erotikill (Horror Version), Destiny In Soft Focus, Words For Lina, Trailers: Female Vampires; Helga, She Wolf of Stilberg; Elsa Fraulein SS

rsz_helgaThis notorious 1970s women’s prison classic set in South America, takes its cue from Don Edmond’s classic Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS. Stillberg is an ominous fortress turned detention camp for political prisoners and under the command of Helga Stiver, an ardent follower of the party in power, she brutalises the female prisoners who are stripped and tortured at will. Lisbeth, the daughter of the opposition leader arrives at Stilberg where she too, falls prey to the sadistic Helga, until local rebels help them fight back against their captors and attempt escape. Nudity, violence, fetishism and lesbian catfights – what more could you ask for? Patrizia Gori, Malisa Longo, Richard Allan star.

Title: Helga, She Wolf of Stilberg
Release Date: 13 March 2017
Cat No: MR002 Certificate: 18
Running Time: TBC RRP: £9.99
Special Features: Alternative Clothed Scenes, Trailers: Bare Breasted Countess; Helga, She Wolf of Stilberg; Elsa Fraulein SS

rsz_elsaA train full of beautiful young women has been ordered to service the men aboard; men being taken to help fight for the Nazis. Elsa, the leader, specialises in torturing those whose loyalty to the Nazi party comes into question. A group of brave Frenchman plot to derail the train and plan an attack that will strike back at the Third Reich. Malisa Longo, Olivier Mathot, Patrizia Gori, Pamela Stanford, and Claudine Beccarie star.

Title: Elsa Fraulein SS
Release Date: 20 April 2017
Cat No: MR003
Certificate: 18
Running Time: TBC RRP: £9.99
Special Features: Trailers: Bare Breasted Countess, Countess; Helga, She Wolf of Stilberg; Elsa Fraulein SS

rsz_zombielakeYoung, nubile women are disappearing without trace in a small lakeside town in this cult classic zombie movie. The superstitious locals blame ‘The Lake of Ghosts’, but the town’s mayor (Howard Vernon) is unwilling to investigate. When another woman is found dead with her throat ripped out, a reporter discovers that the lake harbours a terrible secret dating back to World War II. Now the locals must become resistance fighters once again – and take on the returning Nazi zombie Stormtroopers who are back from the dead.

Title: Zombie Lake
Release Date: 20 March 2017
Cat No: BH001 Certificate: 18
Running Time: TBC RRP: £12.99
Special Features: Trailers: Zombie Lake; Crimson; Oasis of The Living Dead

rsz_crimsonWhen a robbery goes horribly wrong and the gang’s leader, Jack is shot in the head, a group of criminals go to extreme measures to save his life. With the help of a local doctor the gang devise a unique plan – to kill their worst enemy, throw his body in front of a train and use the brain from the severed head as a transplant. The operation is a success and everything seems to be as planned…That is until the brain’s former owner starts living out his murderous past. Starring Paul Naschy, Silvia Solar, Olivier Mathot.

Title: Crimson
Release Date: 20 March 2017
Cat No: BH002 Certificate: 18
Running Time: TBC RRP: £12.99
Special Features: Trailers: Zombie Lake; Crimson; Oasis of The Living Dead

Slasher House 2 (2016) Review

14368789_1267178763315526_1562502904226346982_nSLASHER HOUSE II (2016)

Dir: MJ Dixon
Stars: Francesca Louise White, Luna Wolf, Sophie Portman, Jamie B. Chambers, Sam Cullingworth, David Hon Ma Chu

Released by Mycho Entertainment.

Red (Francesca Louise White, taking over the role from Eleanor James) is still hunting her father, The Demon (Jamie B. Chambers), the serial killer who slaughtered her family. Aided by tech-savvy assistant Luse (Sophie Portman), she investigates a number of murders, hoping each one will lead her to her nemesis. On one of these cases that she saves the life of stripper Amber (Luna Wolf), an individual who goes on to become a valuable ally. After crossing paths with a team of heavily armed operatives obsessed with capturing slashers, Red once again finds herself in a series of pitched battles against a host of monstrous adversaries — each leading her one step closer to the truth about the mysterious Slasher House…

Something that has struck me with MJ Dixon’s Mychoverse series of horror movies is his visual style. Think slashers by way of Argento, with a striking colour palette of blood reds and other-worldly greens.   Slasher House II takes his unique style to the next level, with the bright wigs of female leads, Red and Amber, making them look more like anime heroines than live-action characters.

With more money spent on this than his previous films, the fruits of Dixon’s labours are clear to see. As well as enhanced production values in the look of the film, it’s also reflected in some ambitious effects sequences from Bam Goodall (the Gravestone puppet is very cool, while the scenes with Molly Bannister’s, ahem, friends are another triumph) and some great fight choreography. However, if you’re more used to larger budget horror such as Blumhouse’s output, this may seem a little rough.

13769509_1216502365049833_7221261266634105140_nNevertheless, SHII marks a new kind of Mychoverse movie, with a more action-packed, Blade-esque feel. There are some excellent set-pieces in which White shows impressive martial arts moves — but that’s not all she offers. She delivers some great one-liners with a snarky, world-weary ease that makes her Red a very different character to James’s helpless amnesiac from the previous film. Wolf brings humanity and humour to the movie. She’s got an inherent likeability that marks her out as one to watch. While Portman doesn’t have as much screentime as the other two ladies, she makes the most of it.

Dixon writes fine dialogue and tells a suitably satisfying story for his cast that successfully expands on and encourages viewers to revisit Slasher House. It offers twists and turns, while the non-linear structure adds some depth to the storytelling process. I love that this is movie builds on the Mychoverse mythology, including shoutouts to its predecessor while blowing the story wide open to make a bigger, more complex world.
However, this may pose a problem for casual fans in that it relies on the viewer knowing the original movie, characters and mythos. If you haven’t seen it (or the other Mychoverse movies), you might struggle to make sense of this.

Speaking of these stories, viewers of the previous movie will be aware that several of Slasher House’s villains received their own spin-off films in the form of Legacy of Thorn, Cleaver: Rise of the Killer Clown, and Hollower. So, even though we’ve had no official confirmation yet, it’s probably safe to assume that we’ll see more of these new movie maniacs. I’d most like to see a Gravestone solo flick. His scenes were so marvellously executed, Dixon already has the framework to create a must-watch slasher/comedy.

13710015_1211177188915684_1585350713468624285_nMJ Dixon is a fan of horror, sci-fi and action, and all the cool genre-blenders that combine these. His are films by a fan, for the fans. The Mychoverse is a love-letter to the genre… and Slasher House II might just be the best example yet. It’s fun, witty and furthers the rich mythos of the Slasher House universe. Think Blade II meets Halloween with a little Anime thrown in.

I would recommend this movie just on Mycho’s sheer ambition, but it’s a genuinely good film and one I implore you to check out.

8/10

Little Dead Rotting Hood (2016) Review

lrrh1Little Dead Rotting Hood (2016)

Director: Jared Cohn

Starring: Eric Balfour, Bianca A. Santos, Romeo Miller, Patrick Muldoon, Heather Tom

UK DVD Release from High Fliers films on Feb 20th 2017

“She was kind of crexy though.”

Little Dead Rotting Hood offers up a bizarre Asylum romp, retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. It doesn’t make a lot of sense and it wasn’t that fun to watch, but it also wasn’t that bad (also an Asylum hallmark. If their motto isn’t “crank out ’em out fast and cheap” is should be). But I digress.

A small town in Pennsylvania is threatened with supernatural violence. What begins with a series of abnormal wolf attacks, escalates into a threat from werewolves bent on destroying the town. The only person who can save the town is Sammy (Bianca Santos) who has received a supernatural gift of her own from her grandmother (Marina Sirtis) and by night turns into the werewolf slaying, undead zombie, Little Red Rotting Hood.

All of that sounds pretty good in theory. But a couple things mire down the film. For starters there are A LOT of plot elements that for the first half of the film feel like disparate movies mashed together in way that doesn’t make any sort of sense. And secondly there are few too many very good actors star alongside some not very good newcomers. Though even some of the bigger names to be phoning in their performance *coughEricBalfour*. And sadly, don’t get too excited by the presence of Marina Sirtis, she dies before the opening credits in a role that is little more than a cameo.

lrrh2The first twenty minutes of the film at least are dedicated to nameless townies having parties and getting attacked by wolves. That’s when Sherriff Adam (Balfour) steps in to try and figure out what is happening. He gets help from state policewoman Officer Victoria, who has been tracking similar wolf attacks the state. During a manhunt to exterminate the rogue wolves, the sheriff and his deputy are nearly killed. They are saved by Sammy in her zombie form. That’s when the sheriff realizes more is going than just a killer wolf. There are lots of plot points, tacked on story lines- like the sheriff’s kids coming for a visit during the all the mayhem, a mysterious stranger who may or may not be in league with the wolves, and FINALLY a prophecy about a werewolf to end all werewolves, the Den Mother (no I’m not pulling your leg). Little Dead Rotting Hood is also left open for a sequel.

Somehow this muddy mess manages to be fairly entertaining. There are some fun action sequences, a diverse cast, cheap CGI werewolves and bizarre choices for wardrobe. Sammy’s tiny shorts are a weird throwback to another time, and her red cape looks like cheap crushed velvet. It was just a weird over-all look. The gore make-up was pretty decent, there are few fun and bloody deaths. And the death of poor Deputy Henry (Muldoon) comes with a fun editing mistake.

Despite being a mess, or maybe because of it, Little Dead Rotting Hood is an OK bad movie, though I would only recommend watching it if you are in the mood for a bad movie. Don’t go in expecting too much and you’ll be fine.

lrrh3Kudos for: Diverse casting

Lesson learned: Just spring for the premium velvet cloak it will look better on screen

Rating: 5/10

Blood Punch (2014) DVD Review

rsz_bloodpunchBlood Punch (2014)
Starring: Milo Cawthorne, Olivia Tennet and Ari Boyland
Writer: Eddie Guzelian
Director: Madellaine Paxson

Out in the UK on Jan 16th – Blood Punch will be available for purchase from ASDA, HMV, Fopp, Amazon, The Hunt and Base. And available for streaming from iTunes, Amazon Video, Google Play, Vubiquity, TalkTalk and Vimeo on Demand.

A young man is lured into a dangerous love triangle that begins to take a series of shocking and grisly supernatural turns.

Milton (Milo Cawthorne, Deathgasm, Mega Time Squad, ASH vs Evil Dead and When We Go to War) wakes up on Tuesday morning. He wakes to the annoying sound of wind chimes and the urgent need to puke. We can see he’s been sleeping on the couch at a hunting cabin. The walls are littered with brutal reminders of murder and mutilation (such as axes, crossbows, mantraps and mounted hunting trophies). And, once Milton has looked up from the toilet bowl he’s been worshipping, he finds himself staring at a tablet that bears a note saying ‘PLAY ME’.

The intrigue deepens when Milton presses play and finds the tablet contains footage of himself, explaining how the current situation has come about. His surprise at seeing himself on the screen is not because he was wasted the previous night, or because he’s endured some memory-eradicating substance. The reason turns out to be far more ingenious.

rsz_bp1The content of the tablet leads to a little bit of backstory and a proper introduction to the story’s hero.

Milton had been incarcerated in a juvenile detention centre. He’d been there because he was a chemistry student and he’d been caught using his knowledge of chemicals to cook crystal meth. Whilst appearing to repent for his sins, and maybe take a step toward atonement, he encounters a shed load of trouble in the shape of Skyler (Olivia Tennet, Lord of the Rings, Boogeyman and Shortland Street).

Skyler is a forthright character and conducts herself with a ruthless determination that is irresistible. She is looking for a meth cook and she uses her feminine wiles to tempt Milton to fill her vacancy. After showing him that crystal meth has a positive effect on her libido, it doesn’t take long before Skyler’s convinced Milton to join her. She’s even arranged to have her psychotic boyfriend Russell (Ari Boyland, The Tribe, Shortland Street, Power Rangers R.P.M.) organize a jail break. And, for Milton, this is where the troubles really begin.

As a story, Blood Punch has traces of Breaking Bad, Cabin in the Woods and Groundhog Day in its structure – but it is so much more than merely a homage to existing works. One of the clever things about this film is the way everything is made to look so effortless. The story, in less capable hands, could have been confusing and nonsensical. Instead, it’s compelling, quirky and intriguing. The characters, drug dealers, psychopaths and the criminally insensitive, could have been difficult to like. But, instead, they come across as relatable, likeable and even loveable.

rsz_bpIt’s easy to see why Blood Punch has won so many awards (Phoenix International Horror & Sci-Fi Film Festival: Best Horror Feature 2015; New Orleans Horror Film Festival: Best Feature Film 2014; Hoboken International Film Festival: Best Feature Film, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Actor, Best Actress 2014). The film has a compelling story that comes from a well-crafted script. The acting is strong and confident from a cast who know what they’re doing. The direction is masterful and assured throughout.

I can’t recommend this one highly enough and would say it’s one of the best horror films I’ve watched in a long time: 10/10.

Night of Something Strange (2016) Review

rsz_112819375_994557477247045_1782208119961988031_oNIGHT OF SOMETHING STRANGE (2016)

Dir: Jonathan Straiton
Stars: Rebecca C. Kasek, Trey Harrison, Michael Merchant, Toni Anne Gambale, John Walsh, Tarrence Taylor, Nicola Fiore, Wayne W. Johnson, Janet Mayson, Kirk La Salle, Al Lawler

Released by Hurricane Bridge Entertainment. See it at the Horror-on-Sea Film Festival on 21 January at 5.30pm.

Night of Something Strange opens with a messy sequence in which we discover the origin of an STD that transforms its victims into ravenous rapist-zombies(!). From here we meet a gang of youngsters on a Spring Break road trip. There’s good girl Christine (Rebecca C. Kasek), her best friend Carrie (Toni Anne Gambale), Carrie’s obnoxious boyfriend Freddy (Michael Merchant), nerdy Jason (John Walsh) and pothead Brooklyn (Tarrence Taylor). On the way to a party destination, they choose to stop over in a seedy motel. Also at the motel are bad chick Pam (Nicola Fiore) and her tough boyfriend Dirk (Trey Harrison) who are hooking up for a night of passion. However, unbeknownst to our horny high-schoolers, the infected necrophiliac who kickstarted this whole mess is on his way to the motel…

Inside the first six minutes of Night of Something Strange we are treated to a prolonged sequence of necrophilia, a man urinating in a woman’s face before he violently rapes her, a bloody wound complete with arterial spray and somebody ripping out an unspecified, but gore-soaked part of a woman’s genitalia with his bare hands, then eating it. Then the film REALLY gets going.

rsz_14917277_1155870461115745_3324279579145028734_oIf that sounds a bit much for you, then you should probably steer clear. Night of Something Strange is a shocking movie that is full-on, in your face, and legitimately disgusting at times… and THAT is why it is so good. Think classic Eighties splatter horror-comedy Night of the Creeps crossed with the excesses of South Park — NoSS is chock-full of gross-out moments, from sexual misadventures to a veritable explosion of body-fluids. As such, it’s absolutely hilarious!

It certainly helps that these moments are brought to life with visual effects and make-up far more impressive than NoSS’s modest budget might lead to you expect. But over-performing is pretty much the norm for this movie.

Take the cast — I think it’s safe to say that most of the leads in the movie probably won’t be immediately recognisable to many viewers, but that doesn’t stop them from knocking their performances out of the park. Harrison does a tremendous job of delivering some killer tough-guy lines with a straight face, while the impressive Kasek shows some real potential as a future Scream Queen. Gambale shows real dedication to her craft with a couple of her scenes, as does the simply fantastic Merchant. It is Merchant’s crass Freddy who very nearly steals the film. Merchant is brave, utterly shameless and throws himself into his role with gusto. He’s awesome! Elsewhere, Fiores clearly has fun playing the witchy Pam and she’s a joy to watch.

rsz_12513692_1002519173117542_1525579911595151897_oOf course, the actors are only as good as the material they’re given to work with, and the writing team of director Straiton, Ron Bonk and Mean Gene deliver great dialogue, some brilliant set-pieces and a plot with some pretty out-there twists. The violent monsters are suitably terrifying villains, especially the menacing Wayne W. Johnson as the lead undead sex-fiend, Cornelius. As the zombies mutate even further later in the flick, their genitalia transforming into lethal weapons, they become reminiscent of the ‘sickos’ in Robert Rodriguez’s Grindhouse segment, Planet Terror, and, along with the laughs and outlandish action, the film even manages to pack in some well-crafted scares and some intense sequences.

This is all under the steady guidance of director Jonathan Straiton, whose keen eye for a good shot is a massive contributing factor to the success of NoSS. Bravo sir!

rsz_11157579_843957512307043_3862393676166830435_oAn unapologetic fist (or perhaps another body appendage) in the face, Night of Something Strange takes your typical Eighties splatter horror flick, sticks it in a blender with some late Nineties gross-out humour, and produces a heady, hilarious, horrific cocktail that really does need to be seen on the big screen with a crowd of laughing, shrieking, gasping genre fans. This is the ultimate horror party movie and it needs to be seen the right way!

7/10

Beyond The Gates hits UK DVD On Feb 20th from Signature Entertainment UK

rsz_1rsz_btg1Beyond The Gates hits UK DVD On Feb 20th from Signature Entertainment UK.

Get ready to experience this season’s freshest horror. Highly praised during it’s recent premiere at FrightFest, _Beyond the Gates_ is a gore-filled tribute to 80’s horror and board games of the same era.

Seven months after their father’s disappearance, estranged brothers Gordon and John Hardesty reunite to liquidate their Dad’s anaemic video store. Soon after, they unearth an old VHS board game that acts as an inter-dimensional hub to a nightmare world where their Father’s soul is trapped and can only be saved by playing the game…

Tense, scary and full of nostalgic thrills, _Beyond the Gates_ is directed by Jackson Stewart and stars Graham Skipper, Chase Williamson, Matt Mercer, Brea Grant and Re-Animator’s Barbara Crampton.

PRECISION PICTURES PRESENTS BEYOND THE GATES ON DIGITAL FROM 13TH FEBRUARY & DVD 20TH FEBRUARY, 2017

Pet (2016) Review

rsz_petPET (2016)

Directed By: Carles Torrens
Written By: Jeremy Slater
Starring: Dominic Monaghan, Ksenia Solo, Jennette McCurdy
Score: 8/10

Introduction
‘Pet’, is an independent, psychological horror/thriller, that is being compared to the likes of ‘Hard Candy’, due to its claustrophobic nature. An announcement was made that the film would make its world premier in March 2016, at the SXSW Festival, and was very well received. ‘Pet’ was released theatrically on December 2nd, 2016 and will be available on VOD and DVD on December 27th, 2016.

Synopsis:
Seth (Dominic Monaghan), is a down on his luck young man, who works at an animal shelter. One day on his way home from work, a girl who he has not seen for years, but had crushed on in school, gets on the bus. She is a beautiful, young woman, called Holly (Ksenia Solo). He starts to stalk Holly, firstly, online on her tinder profile, and then moving on to following her around at nights in the dark, and repeatedly going to see her at work where she is waitress.  Lacking the confidence to ask her out, he decides he has had enough, and kidnaps Holly, and puts her in a cage in the basement of the animal shelter where he works. In this tale full of twists and turns, is Holly who he thinks she is and who will end up the real victim?

rsz_1pet2Review:
This is a full on roller coaster of a film that will have you gripped from start to finish. The further into the film you get, you find out about more about the characters disturbing secrets, and of Seth and Holly’s night time activities. The character development is absolutely superb, and the performances from the films two main characters is brilliant, and both play their parts incredibly well. Their back stories aren’t thrown at you in one big lump, but are more drip fed to you, leaving you locked on, craving more information about the pair, and wanting to know what depths each are prepared to go to, to satisfy their own personal lusts and desires. As more of this awesome story unfolds, the twists are brilliant and well thought out. As you venture into the awesome finale, you’ll be sitting on the edge of your seat in anticipation, of how this power struggle, between the two will ultimately play out.

Dominic Monaghan, who portrays the character ‘Seth’, is presented as a loner and a nobody who is invisible to the world. We see his boundaries completely disappear, as his lust for Holly turns to infatuation and his is mind descends further into madness and obscurity. He meticulously plans the kidnapping and incarceration of Holly, as he works towards what is his ultimate goal of having this girl as his pet, someone he can have power over, and control. You get the sense from him that there may be no limits of what he is capable of. His intentions are not of a sexual nature and he keeps repeating to Holly that he wants to help her. He seems to want to systematically break her down psychologically. But the more he thinks he is succeeding with his plan he is actually playing straight into Holly’s hands, who has got plans of her own.

rsz_pet4Ksenia Solo, who portrays Holly, is the girl that Seth becomes completely obsessed with. From the day she first met Seth on a bus ride home from work, she becomes more and more conscious of the fact, that Seth is popping up everywhere she goes. She finds herself constantly looking over her shoulder and develops a huge sense of paranoia. Once kidnapped, and as each day goes by, we find out more about Seth’s prisoner, and Holly is definitely not what she first appears to be. Seth is presented with some major problems that he could never have anticipated, turning the film completely on its head and presenting the unusual situation which sees the hostage take complete control from the confines of her cage.

The pacing of each scene is brilliant. You’re not left lingering and waiting for something to happen ,in saying that after what are some pretty heated conversations between the two, you have the time to digest the mind games being played and prepare yourself for whatever is coming next.
The scenes filmed in the basement between Seth, and Holly are so intense and enticing and what compliments this greatly is the dialogue, it’s simply brilliant. The exchanges between the pair intensify with each visit, and with this, we see the balance of power shift back and forth between the hostage and her keeper. After they’re through talking for the day, each of them are left with some food for thought, and sit rehearsing how they’re going to play out their next move in this most dangerous game of cat and mouse.

rsz_pet3Final Thoughts:
Although this film was the lowest grossing film of any theatrical release in 2016, taking in a measly $70, I’m struggling to come to terms with how such a good film can slump so badly in the theatres. It may be a lack of publicity, or just a sign of the times, with films being so readily available online… or simply that the film was released at a time, where it was swamped by bigger box office films. This really is one of the best psychological films that has come out in quite some time. Its extremely clever, brilliantly written, and fantastically performed. I expect that this film will do much better when released on VOD and will be one that i’m sure will be appreciated for the fine film that it is.

8/10

Dead End aka Drifter (2016) Review

rsz_deadendDEAD END aka DRIFTER (2016)

Starring Aria Emory, Drew Harwood and Monique Rosario

Directed by Chris von Hoffman

Written by Chris von Hoffman and Aria Emory

UK DVD Release from High Fliers Films on March 6th

A pair of outlaw brothers seek temporary refuge in a desolate town inhabited by a small family of psychotic cannibalistic lunatics“.

The story of Drifter pretty much goes like this. If you take the Gecko Brothers from Tarantino and Rodriguez’s classic From Dusk Till Dawn, roughed them up and put them in the middle of an arid post-apocalyptic, just about to go Mad Max wasteland, and then had them stumble upon the family from Texas Chainsaw Massacre and their mutant cousins from The Hills Have Eyes, then you’ve pretty much got it.

Seriously. The script actually replicates wholesale dialogue, even scenes, from those films and others. This kind of thing is basically the reason I’ve grown so tired of Tarantino and Rob Zombie. So why the high rating?

rsz_deadend1Because this film is an absolute assault on the senses, that’s why. In his feature debut, director Hoffman, a veteran of music videos and short films, has less directed the script as directed the living shit out of his script. Imprinting a gritty, flashy, grimy and relentless vision all of his own, Drifter is less directed and more choreographed, like an 80’s dubstep goth rave in the desert. There are images here that are truly stunning, the way Hoffman frames the landscape, follows his characters, captures the day and the night. It all feels iconic. His energy behind the camera is non stop, reaching even crazier heights in the moments of savagery.

And choreography is nothing without music. My oh my, the soundtrack in this rhymes with the visuals in a way we rarely see these days. It’s a pulsing, pounding, monstrous beast from Nao Sato, and it’s a marvel. I swear there were moments in this film where the combination of movement, framing, action and soundtrack nearly had me cheering. Everything just clicks to create a sensory overload. I think this is what makes the film work so well. The script and story may lack originality, but its execution is anything but derivative. The feel of this film, the texture of it, the sound of it, is like nothing I remember seeing. Yes, it’s showy and attention seeking but it bloody well deserves it. Drifter is Hoffman trying not to make a splash, but to kick all the water out of the tub. And I need to own this soundtrack immediately.

The performances are also extremely fun. As our heroes, Emory and Howard take stock characters and rough them right up, make them lived in and raw. But our villains have the most fun. James McCabe is fantastically sinister as the childlike patriarch of the clan, Doyle, and Rebecca Frasier is the most devious white trash doll you will find. But the standout was Anthony Ficco as the Danny Zuko on acid Latos. A twitchy, nightmarish bottle of bloodthirsty rage, he’s a fantastic villain.

rsz_deadend2Although technically the film is a striking marvel, with sights and sounds that are seared into my brain, it’s a real shame that the script is such a hodgepodge of scenes and dialogue from other movies. In this case it’s not a deal breaker, but it would’ve elevated this to cult-classic status. But maybe the reason it’s all so blatant is because that was the point. So, if Drifter is a love-letter to a particularly grimy type of cinema, it’s a kinetic and visceral success. But we will have to wait for the next film from Hoffman for originality.

As it stands, Drifter is an everything and the kitchen sink project done right. An angry, vicious, grindhouse fever dream.

8/10

Fright Night (1985) Eureka Blu-Ray Review

fright-night-1FRIGHT NIGHT (1985)
Director: Tom Holland
Cast: Chris Sarandon, Roddy McDowall, William Ragsdale, Amanda Bearse
Running time: 106 minutes

Released by Eureka! Entertainment on standard dual format (Blu Ray/DVD) 10th April 2017
(An exclusive Zavvi limited edition steelbook released 26th December 2016 is now OOP)

The UK has been waiting what seems like centuries for a decent release of Tom Holland’s fangtastic 80’s cult classic on any format. Thankfully Eureka! Entertainment have finally delivered on a disc which is surely destined to become one of the must-have blu ray releases of 2017.

The Film: For those unacquainted with Fright Night, it follows teenage horror fanatic Charley Brewster (William Ragsdale) and his ongoing attempts to prove to his mother, girlfriend Amy (Amanda Bearse) and best friend Evil Ed (Stephen Geoffreys) that his charismatic new neighbour Jerry Dandridge (Chris Sarandon) is a vampire. His suspicions are further confounded by the strange activities he sees going on next door including a coffin being taking into the property and Jerry’s friend and live-in helper Billy (Jonathan Stark) assisting with all daytime activities.

As his mother and friends believe him to be crazy, he goes to the one person he is convinced will believe him and be able to help. Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall) is the presenter of his favourite late night horror show Fright Night, however he is just that – a TV personality – and not an actual vampire hunter. However, as Charley’s girlfriend and best friend become seduced by Jerry’s charms, it is up to Charley and Peter to destroy the evil next-door and hopefully save the neighbourhood.

Following a rather lacklustre remake in 2011 starring the late Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell and David Tennant, this release of the original (and best) version of Holland’s homage to horror and vampire lore is an essential purchase for any horror fan. For those new to it, Fright Night is intentionally a horror comedy however its attention to providing full on gore and graphic transformation scenes is also the reason it ranked the second highest grossing horror film of 1985 behind Freddy’s Revenge.

fright-night-2The Disc: I never saw the previous US Twilight Time or European blu ray releases of the film, so cannot offer comparisons but this release is based on the Sony 4K scan of the original negative overseen by renowned film restoration specialist Grover Crisp. It looks excellent and is certainly a vast improvement over my DVD copy or any version I’ve seen before on TV. There is a more natural colour palette, finer image detail and Crisp has ensured that classic 80’s look and ‘sheen’ isn’t lost in the restoration. Like a severed artery the film is overflowing with old school SFX and whilst on blu ray some of these do stand out more prominently, it is such a pleasure not to be browbeaten with CGI and instead I was left with a nostalgic glow. I watched the film again in its original Stereo and had no concerns with dialogue or indeed Brad Fiedel’s excellent score. Eureka! have also included a 5.1 Surround Sound option for those wanting a more immersive experience and English SDH subtitles. Sadly, they have not included a chapter menu on either the main menu or via pop-up menu, although this was apparently also lacking on previous releases.

Special Features: Apart from the excellent transfer, what really makes this release of Fright Night an undead treat is the wealth of extras which run at just over six hours. Eureka! have really spoilt fans with the highlight being an edited (two and a half hour version) of Dead Mouse Productions recent You’re So Cool Brewster documentary. A retrospective piece that includes contemporary interviews with cast, crew and many more it mainly focuses on the first Fright Night film and follows the film’s inception, production, casting, special effects, memories of filming and the film’s sleeper success. Fright Night: Part 2 (1988) is also mentioned but fans will need to pick up the full documentary for more in-depth discussion about the sequel.

Fear Fest 2008 Reunion (54 mins) is a panel discussion with cast and crew from both Fright Night and Fright Night: Part 2. There is some repetition from the documentary however we learn more about the sequel, including its now infamous troubled release and the change in attitudes to sexuality and diversity between both films. Holland also mentions upcoming talks for a possible remake/sequel and the script variations he is aware of.

Shock Till You Drop – Choice Cuts (28mins) is an interview with Tom Holland where he discusses his involvement with The Beast Within (1982), his work on Psycho 2 (1983), its release, effect on his career and his views on the studio system. He also discusses his transition from a theatre and TV actor to writer including early writing credits, the initial inception of Fright Night and the film’s major influences.

Vintage Electronic Press Kit (93 mins) is a nice addition but is taken from a VHS copy (with clock counter) and therefore suffers from vertical rolls and frequent cut outs. The kit includes US reviews, two music videos, a making of, three featurettes, news wraps, open end interviews and TV scene clips.

What is Fright Night? (11 mins) is a talking heads piece which appears to be an additional segment from the You’re So Cool Brewster documentary. Cast and crew from both original Fright Night films discuss what they believe the films are about.

fright-night-3Tom Holland: Writing Horror (9 mins) is a special feature which is also available on the You’re So Cool Brewster documentary disc. Despite the title, it has little to do with his writing techniques and is mostly about his directing style. There is also some information overlap from the Choice Cuts extra.

Roddy McDowall: Apes to Bats (21 mins) is a featurette about the actor’s history in Hollywood and cast and crew from both Fright Night films reminisce about their time with him. Again, there is some information overlap from the Choice Cuts and Reunion extras.

Also included are two theatrical trailers (G and R rated versions), plus an image gallery of 64 behind the scenes, props and memorabilia photos.

In conclusion, Eureka! have done the UK proud in bringing Holland’s cult classic to our shores in a release it totally deserves. However, folks will have to wait until April 2017 for it to hit the shelves but I can tell you it is absolutely worth the wait… Until then, be as a cool as Brewster and pick up a copy of the Dead Mouse Productions excellent documentary and pray that one day Fright Night: Part 2 gets a similarly stunning release.