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Ghosthunters (2016) Review

rsz_gh1Ghosthunters (2016) Review

Director: Pearry Reginald Teo

Starring: Francesca Santoro, Stephen Manley, David O’Donnell, Liz Fenning, Crystal Web.

Out now on UK DVD from High Fliers Films

“Ghost DNA.”

After Henry’s wife and daughter are murdered in an abandoned house used by a serial killer, he and his group of ghosthunters go back in to extract their souls. Henry (Stephen Manly) and his friends have been working on a machine to find and preserve ectoplasm. They were testing the machine at the site of the murders when everything went wrong. Now Henry and his cohorts face the angry victims of the serial killer. A serial killer who may not be done.

Well, it sounds okay in theory. And it’s certainly not the worst movie ever. It’s an Asylum film. So that right there should tell you a lot about Ghosthunters. Don’t expect too much and you won’t be disappointed. Ghosthunters manages to be a mediocre supernatural thriller. It has some fun special effects and creepy ghosts. The jump scares aren’t terribly effective, they pop up right about where expected, negating their effectiveness.

There is also a delightful amount of techno-babble the likes of which haven’t been heard since Star Trek went off the air. The techno-babble actually makes for a pretty hilarious scene of really terrible exposition about the ghost hunting machine. It’s basically a ghost trap from Ghostbusters. Don’t give it too much thought.

rsz_gh2Aside from the mediocre plot there is also plenty of mediocre characters performed by so-so actors. The good news is that no one is stand-out terrible. The problem is they are also stuck with a pretty ridiculous script. The most weighty role is given to Manly who does pretty good as the grief stricken Henry but could have brought a lot more personality to the role. Especially since one of the major twists hangs on his. David O’Donnell plays Henry’s friend and confidant Neal who built the ghost trapping machine. Neal also brings along his reporter girlfriend Amy played by Francesca Santoro, who is arguably the main character, but nothing in the movie indicates that fact. Then there is computer programmer Jessica played by Liz Fenning. Crystal Web plays the sadly under-utilized psychic Devon. No one has much character development and nothing more is known about the characters at the end of the film as was known in the beginning.

There are a lot of wasted opportunities in Ghosthunters too. Devon brings a knowledge of the occult to the “science” of paranormal investigating, and in a good scene that goes nowhere, she tries to trap the ghosts in the house using salt. The combination of the occult and science would have been a really interesting development. But the script slogs along with paint-by-number predictably.

The best thing about the film are possibly the props. The best prop in the entire movie is a pair of steampunk styled ghost spotting goggles. Second runner-up is a steampunk styled plague doctor mask worn by the killer. Sadly the ghost trapping machine itself is a bland jumble of spare parts that look like they could be anything. The rest of the special effects are okay, but not great. There is some CGI enhancement of the ghosts, but it looks like most of the effects were achieved practically. It’s not a special effect heavy film, probably due to budget constraints, and it manages with what it has. Over all Ghosthunters is pretty skippable.

gh3Kudos for: The organ music.

Lesson Learned: Say ghost DNA often enough and it just sounds silly.

5/10

Population Zero – Available on Digital Download 10th April 2017 from FrightFest Presents

population_zero_webPopulation Zero – Available on Digital Download 10th April 2017 from FrightFest Presents

More shocking than the crime itself, are the bizarre events that followed!

The Blair Witch Project meets Catfish and Making A Murderer, as a filmmaker travels to Yellowstone park to unravel a shocking murder mystery, where a guilty man walked free because of a bizarre legal loophole, in this mix of horror and crime documentary.

Synopsis:

In 2009 three young men were killed in a remote part of Yellowstone National Park. Hours after the trio were gunned down, Dwayne Nelson confessed to the crime. Despite this, Nelson was allowed to go free because of an American Constitution loophole.

Documentarian Julian T. Pinder travels to Yellowstone in a chase for truth behind a crime that should have rocked the nation. How did a guilty man go free? In his hunt for answers Pinder risks his own life when he finds evidence that could re-open the case years later – evidence that Nelson is keen shouldn’t come to light.

popTake horror thriller director Adam Levins (Estranged), and team him with acclaimed documentarian Julian T Pinder, and you get the unique and unsettling Population Zero, a part fact, part fiction look at murder, madness and American justice gone wrong. The starting point for the film is the incredible fact that there is a strip of land in the USA where you can literally get away with murder, in Yellowstone National Park – because no one lives there, a jury cannot be made up to try anyone accused of murder in that area.

The film fascinatingly mixes true fact – it was inspired by an article entitled The Perfect Crime, which documents the staggering legal loophole whereby a killer can get away scot free – with a heartstopping crime thriller element, as Pinder closes in on the truth while the deadly Nelson closes in on him; and uses the extraordinary photographic sensation Bison vs Buffalo as a motif for the film. Beautifully filmed against the stunning wilderness, and painstakingly put together to the point where fiction blends into fact and back again, Population Zero is thought-provoking, multi-layered and chilling.

Stake Land 2 Hits UK DVD on April 3rd

rsz_sStake Land II hits UK DVD on April 3rd

Death is no escape

A scary, bloody and action-packed follow up to the 2010 horror hit, with Nick Damici returning as Mister, the vampire hunter, roaming a post apocalyptic landscape and delivering bloody justice one sharp stake at a time. Watch the world die with a scream – lots of them.

Starring
Nick Damici (Stake Land, Late Phases, Cold In July, We Are What We Are)
Connor Paolo (Gossip Girl, Revenge, Stake Land)
Laura Abramsen (Wolfcop)

Directors
Dan Berk, Robert Olsen (The Body)

Executive Producer
Jim Mickle (Stake Land, We Are What We Are)

rsz_s2Producer
Larry Fessenden (The Innkeepers, The House of the Devil)

Synopsis:
Older and weathered, when New Eden is destroyed, and his wife and child murdered by the revived vampire Brotherhood, Martin (Connor Paolo, Gossip Girl, Stake Land) suddenly finds himself alone in the desolate badlands of America. With only one goal, to avenge the death of his family, Martin must find his mentor and legendary vampire hunter, Mister, to achieve his mission. But in a world ravaged by vampires, once again, he must fight to survive and no-one can be trusted.

Stake Land II is the much anticipated sequel to the critically acclaimed Stake Land, reuniting the forceful duo in this bloody and spine-chilling gore-fest!

“You’re alive – act like it”

rsz_s3The stakes are raised in this sequel to Jim Mickle’s 2010 horror hit, with original star, and writer, the gruff, gravelly-voiced Nick Damici (who, on any other planet, would be a superstar by now), returning as the no nonsense vampire hunter Mister, and produced by Mickle and horror genre favourite Larry Fessenden (The House of the Devil, The Innkeepers) through his Glass Eye Pics studio.

Directors Dan Berk and Robert Olsen hit the ground running here, picking up where the final film left of and plunging the viewer into the world of the wheezing, wrathful berserkers, as Martin (Connor Paolo from Gossip Girl, Revenge, Stake Land), sets out to find truly nasty fanged fiend The Mother (Kristina Hughes), and discovers the vampires aren’t his only problem in a world where survivors will do anything to get by. The film also brings back genre hero Mister to dispense killer lines (“You got your whole life to die, kid – no point rushing it”) and carnage the only way he knows how.

Signature Entertainment presents Pet on Digital 6th March and on Blu-ray & DVD 13th March, 2017!

rsz_pet_bd_2d[1]IF YOU LOVE SOMETHING NEVER LET IT GO

This haunting, psychological horror follows Seth, a lonely man working in an animal shelter. His monotonous routine is broken one day when he bumps into Holly, a girl from school who he soon becomes obsessed with. However, when she rejects his advances, Seth’s obsession reaches a terrifying new level, with Holly hiding secrets of her own.

Helmed by Award Winning director Carles Torrens (Apartment 143, ABCs of Death 2.5) and starring Dominic Monaghan (Lord of the Rings trilogy), Ksenia Solo (Lost Girl, Black Swan) and Jennette McCurdy (Between, Sam & Cat), Pet is a dark and disturbing love story asking how much you could sacrifice in the name of love?

Signature Entertainment presents Pet on Digital 6th March and on Blu-ray & DVD 13th March, 2017

OMG, I’m A Robot (2015) Review

rsz_omg_robot_posterOMG!? I’m a Robot (2015)

Directors: Tal Goldberg and Gal Zelezniak

Starring: Yotam Ishay, Tzahi Grad, Hili Yalon, Inna Bakelman

“Love the hand and fear the hand.”

Danny (Ishay) is hopelessly in love with Noa (Yalon). He is super nerdy, super sensitive, and after one post movie cry too many Noa puts the breaks on their relationship. He keeps calling her for eight months with no replies and decides to end it all. But, suicide is hard when you’re an indestructible robot. In a fit of confidence Danny takes his new-found mojo out on the town. But he STILL can’t forget Noa. He decides to swing by her apartment in the hopes of getting a face-to-face. All Danny gets is a cold shoulder from Noa’s roommate Maya (Bakelman). On his way home Danny is attacked by robot ninjas (yes you read that right). Luckily he can shoot lasers out of his hand.

Once he takes out the robot ninjas he realizes more is going on than he ever suspected. It turns out Noa has been kidnapped and it’s up to Danny to rescue her. The search for his maybe ex-girlfriend leads Danny to join forces with his boss at Gold Hi-tech Mr. Goldschmidt (Grad), a Jewish robot that looks like a garbage can named Robot Joseph (voiced by Rob Schneider), uncover a conspiracy, discover his true nature, and stop the launch of a weaponized satellite.

rsz_omg_robot_2OMG!? I’m a Robot is OMG so cute! There is incredibly little to criticize. This sci-fi, action comedy delivers sly humor, nerd references (literally every single t-shirt Danny wears) and fight sequences that look like a live-action manga or anime. The plot holds together well and deftly handles mystery, humor and action. The plot weaves together the disparate elements into a coherent whole and leaves no thread dangling. The directors obviously took great delight in the absurd situation and knew all the right nerd buttons to push. The characters are also well developed and sympathetic, even the villains and all the actors are more than capable which makes for easy emotional investment in the outcome.

The film also offers up some good commentary on masculinity. Danny, a typical 98 pound weakling in glasses is of course an unlikely hero. It’s obvious that Noa dumps him in the beginning because he’s too sensitive, too weak. But the film diverts from the usual zero to hero. Despite Goldschmidt’s attempts to toughen up Danny it only half works. Danny does toughen up, but instead of turning into a Terminator, he never loses his heart and compassion. In the end its heart that triumphs. Even Danny’s confrontation with the film’s villain is laced with empathy and tea drinking.

rsz_omg_robot_3If the film has any fault at all, it’s just that the directors deserved more money to throw at the special effects. Though the cheap CGI effects actually make the movie look and feel a bit like a Power Rangers episode, which might satisfy fans more. A must watch for sci-fi nerds.

Kudos for: The menorah gun

Lesson learned: If you’re a transformer, make sure it’s something useful like an electric kettle

8/10

Beyond The Gates (2016) Review

rsz_1rsz_btg1Beyond the Gates (2016)

Director: Jackson Stewart

Starring: Graham Skipper, Chase Williamson, Brea Grant, Barbara Crampton

Out now on UK DVD

“Most of this junk just blends together”

Estranged brothers Gordon (Skipper) and John (Williamson) reunite when they have to close up their father’s video rental store because their father has been missing for seven months. In the back office they find a VCR board game called Beyond the Gates. Gordon takes it back to his father’s house where he’s staying and along with his fiancé Margot (Grant) and John, they decide to play the game. Surprise, surprise, Beyond the Gates has them trapped in a deadly game. The stakes, no less than their lives.

A lot of movies, and a lot of horror movies in particular, set out with the premise of “a deadly game that must be played to completion”. It’s not exactly an original concept, and it has been done better in other films. Beyond the Gates has a few charms but they can’t make up for slow pacing a mediocre script and modest acting. The film rides high on the recent wave of nostalgia that is sweeping films and horror right now. This is the third or fourth attempt at an 80s throwback I’ve seen and it’s not the strongest entry. Beyond leans a little heavily on viewers fondly remembering the days of video rental stores and knowing what a VCR game is. The film then has to explain what a VCR game is because even if you grew up with a VCR, the games where a niche market. Maybe not the strongest premise for a movie, when it has to be explained even to people as old as I am.

rsz_beyond_the_gates_1Premise aside Beyond the Gates is a mixed bag. The pace is slow. The board game is played out over days instead of forcing the characters to play through all at once. The game itself is overly easy, the clues dull. A lot of time is wasted in conversation as the characters flip back and forth, alternately trying to quit the game and progress. The film feels a lot longer than its lean run time of 84 minutes. The build up to actually playing the game is long as well. First we have to meet Gordon and John, then Gordon’s fiancé Margot, then John’s gross redneck friend Hank (Justin Welborn), THEN we have to establish the relationships and antagonisms between all of these characters. THEN they start the game. THEN people start dying.

What the film was actually good at, was not the horror aspects, or the VCR game shtick. It was actually an interesting film about estranged brothers with a troubled past and uneasy relationship mending fences. I actually felt the same way watching Beyond the Gates as I did watching The Innkeepers, which was a great romantic comedy and a terrible horror movie. Beyond the Gates was a good family drama about reconciliation and a pretty mediocre horror film.

But, the horror wasn’t all bad. There were a lot of practical effects used for gruesome death scenes that were pretty entertaining. However that’s about the best that can be said for the horror side of things. Unfortunately amusing death scenes don’t make up for the slow pace.

rsz_beyond_the_gates_2Kudos for: Gordon’s nerdy hipster vibe

Lesson learned: It takes more than a synth soundtrack to cash in on nostalgia.

6/10

Scars (2016) DVD Review

rsz_1rsz_scarsScars (2016)

Starring: Danielle Cole, Neale Kimmel, Matt Wells
Written by: Sean K Robb
Directed by: Sean K Robb

Out NOW on UK DVD from LEFT Films

A few months back, I reviewed a movie titled Even Lambs Have Teeth. It was a visceral movie about two girls making the move from victim to aggressor, and it had style and a definite entertainment factor. Scars is along the same basic lines, but distinctly lacking in entertainment factor, and depth of moral questioning about killing. Sad thing is, it has style, or glimpses of it, and should be much more watchable than it is.

There are two girls, Scarlett (Kimmel) and Scar (Cole). Scarlett is a habitual manipulator, who makes her living and gets her kicks out of sleeping with married men, and then blackmailing them. She is callous, unfeeling and not a very good blackmailer; after a string of emotionally-attached guys are hurt and ultimately succumb to her scam, one particular john is not so willing to be screwed around. When she pushes her luck and they get into a fight in a dark alley, Scar appears from the shadows to knock him dead.

rsz_scars1It would be OK, I suppose, if their gig was as vigilantes, saving people from violent street attacks; but they quickly develop a taste for killing men, apparently for no other reason than that things with penises are inevitable woman-users and abusers. Scar’s mantra, and the movie’s tagline, is ‘Killing Dudes is Easy’. But making a movie about killing dudes watchable is not so easy, it would seem.

The structure of the movie shows attempts at creativity and interesting cinematography, but it comes together in a very disjointed fashion. A soap-opera style opening credit sequence à la Murder She Wrote is particularly inspired, making use of noir visuals, and heavy ‘beauty’ imagery that seemed to suggest a much more thematic work than what ultimately follows. Later attempts to add realism with claustrophobically-cropped shots sadly come off as cheap; frequent use of single camera angles for extended shots make for a static, almost theatrical viewing experience, and there is a generally down-market feel to the whole film.

Ultimately, Scars is a slow and uninspiring movie. The pace of the action drags in between stylish shots of Scar applying copious black make-up, limping along between plain walls from a single focal point, while not a lot happens. Danielle Cole was clearly chosen for her looks over her acting ability, while Neale Kimmel is quite forgettable, as is her character. But even this needn’t have mattered. Scars could have been a much more compelling experience had it taken its strife for striking and distinct visuals all the way.

rsz_scars2We are supposed to get the impression of madness in at least one of the girls, but it is sparsely expressed in a very sterile and bland manner. Writer-director Sean K Robb would have benefitted from taking more influence from Rodriguez, Tarantino, even Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers, which proved that style and flair can make a movie watchable despite questionable plot and characters. It is not sombre and brooding enough to be as slow as it is, and not bold and colourful enough to be as stylish as it wants to be. It is unfortunately just a dull film.

5/10

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