An interview with Antoni McVay by Dean Sills

amv1An interview with Antoni McVay by Dean Sills

Hello Antoni, First of all, thank you for your time and welcome to UKHS.

AM – Hi Dean, thank you for having me.

 

UKHS – You are welcome. Ok, let’s get started with the questions.
Can you please tell UKHS a little about yourself and your production company Mitsuko Studios and how you came up with the name?

AM – My name is Antoni McVay. My hobbies include murdering my friends in horror films and watching too many funny cat videos on YouTube. I have been involved with independent film making for over 10 years, making many different projects from music videos to feature length horror films.
I chose the name ‘Mitsuko Studios’ as ‘Mitsuko’ is the name of my favourite supporting character from my favourite film. The film is ‘Battle Royale’ and I recommend for everyone to see it.

 

UKHS – Ok, let’s talk about ‘Blaze Of Gory’. First of all, thank you for my role as a Sleazy Co-worker in your segment ‘Young and Naive’. I really enjoyed working for you and your great team and it was fantastic seeing your segment at the Cutting Edge film festive in Newcastle. How did you and your company Mitsuko Studios get involved with the project?

AM – It was fun having you involved Dean. It was good to meet you and I hope the audience enjoys what we do with your character. I was brought into the ‘Blaze of Gory’ project by the project manager, David V. G. Davies. I’d known him for about 2 years prior to the project beginning. He’d seen some of my previous short films and liked them and off the back of that offered me the opportunity to be one of the ‘Blaze of Gory’ directors.

 

amv2UKHS – You directed the segment ‘Young and Naive’ and also played a character called John, was it a real challenge acting and directing at the same time and why did you decide to do both?

AM – The character John was actually supposed to be played by a different actor. But that actor dropped out on the day of the film shoot. As I had a full crew, locations and the rest of the cast I decided I’d step up and take on the role, so the shoot could still go ahead. It was fun to step in front of the camera. I had my most regular collaborator and trusted friend, Lee Bibby, as the assistant director and co-director of photography so I had confidence that he’d keep things in check when I couldn’t see what was going on. I also had the other co-director of photography, Dave Mordey on ‘twat-face’  watch so he told me whenever my face was doing things it shouldn’t.

 

UKHS –  I also enjoyed the premiere of ‘Summer’s Night’ which was directed by Ian Lawlor and written and produced by you. It was great to see ‘Blaze of Gory’ actors Juliette Strange and Simon Craig both in the cast. How much fun did you all have making this one?

AM – ‘Summer’s Night’ was a short horror film idea which got turned into a feature film, which became very difficult to make, so it got turned back into a short again. Funnily enough it has already been picked up to be part of a feature film anthology titled ‘Self Induced Nightmares’ so it’s going to be a feature after all. The basis for that project was that I wanted to make a film set in a secluded cabin. I could write a book about what happened with that project from start to finish, it had many challenges and frustrations, but long story short the final cabin shoot had a few fun moments.

One fun memory which stands out was myself, Simon Craig and Lee Bibby getting in the hot tub around 1:00 AM after the 1st night of shooting. It started to rain and as it became heavier we got lower and lower into the water to keep warm. We also enjoyed having Graeme Donaldson on set as he was a good laugh all throughout (which can be heard in a behind the scenes feature) this included him making frenemies with a gaggle of swans.

 
amv5UKHS – Can you tell us a little about some of your previous work including ‘Drugs, Sex and Bloody Violence’ and ‘She’?

AM – My film ‘Drugs, Sex and Bloody Violence’ was originally intended to be turned into a feature length film. The idea being that the main characters would each have side stories, one involving drugs, one sex , one violence and the final character involving all 3. We made the wrap around story and had it shown in the 2010 2 Days Later Short Film Festival. I’m proud of that film because it has been viewed by so many people (at the last count it had over 140,000 views on YouTube.) The rest of the film was written, but we decided not to make it because we thought the technical quality of what we’d made so far wasn’t high enough to justify the effort to make it into a feature.
‘She’ was made in 2010 and was shown on the cover DVD for Gorezone magazine.
I’d say that was the first film I made where I was starting to get the hang of the technical sides of film making. I’ve improved a lot since, but I think my work before
‘She’ was amateurish. The film I made which I like the most is actually an action comedy called ‘The Best Men’. This was made to accompany my best man speech at my friend Garwai’s wedding. That was so much fun to make and it was very satisfying having a big room of people laughing throughout it when it was first played.
The horror film which I am most proud of is the film ‘La Belle Dame Sans Merci’ . It was written by P. M. Buchan and he’s since turned it into a really good comic book series. I won an award for best director at the 2011 Cutting Edge Film Festival for the film and as it was an audience vote I was really happy they’d enjoyed it so much to vote for me.

 
UKHS – Congratulations on winning Best Director at the 2011 Cutting Edge Film Festival. OK, since it’s almost Christmas if you could have Christmas dinner with three guests (living or dead), who would you choose and why?

AM – I’m going for fun answers with living celebrities for this answer. The 3 people I’d like to have around for Christmas dinner are Bruce Campbell, Nathan Fillion and Quentin Tarantino. Joss Whedon would dress up as Santa to deliver us all presents too. I say these people because I think they’d all be really interesting to talk with and I’m a big fan of them all.

 
amv6UKHS – Finally, congratulations on organizing the Cutting Edge film festive in Newcastle. It was great catching up with you again. Will we see the event return next year and will you be working on any future film projects?

AM – Thank you Dean. I can’t confirm at this time if the event will return in 2014. But I do expect that at least a similar event will take place. I’m currently in the early stages of a number of new film productions. It’s just a matter of what I’m going to decide to do next. I’m playing with a few ideas including a hitman anthology, a horror anthology and I’m also considering a puppet theater style animation. Check out my Facebook page for more details as these projects develop.

UKHS – Good luck with your new film productions for 2014. I would love
to work for you and your team again if you need any actors. I know UK
Horror Scene fans will love your work. Thanks for talking to us
Antoni and keep up the great work.

 

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mitsuko-Studios/230753720271490

Images Courtesy: Antoni McVay

IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm4454893/?ref_=tt_ov_dr

amv3

Dead End (2003) A UKHS Xmas Horror Review

DEAD END 001DEAD END (2003) DVD

Review by: Dave Wain

Stars: Ray Wise, Lin Shaye, Mick Cain, Alexandra Holden, Amber Smith

Written by: Jean-Baptiste Andrea, Fabrice Canepa

Runtime: 80 minutes

Directed by: Jean-Baptiste Andrea, Fabrice Canepa

 

When the time came around in the UK Horror Scene virtual office to nab a selection of Christmas horror movies for the old advent calendar of scares, there was one that I felt I HAD to get my hands on above anything else, even if it meant arm wrestling Andy Deen – that film is Dead End. French by creation yet boasting two cult American icons in its lead roles (Ray Wise and Lin Shaye) Dead End was produced ten years ago now for the frankly meagre budget of $900,000, yet went on to gross over $77 million on DVD sales alone.

We begin with the sound of bickering as we’re introduced to Frank and Laura Harrington (Wise and Shaye) who we discover are running late to Laura’s parents for the holiday season. Sitting impatiently in the back is their son Richard (Mick Cain), daughter Marion (Alexandra Holden) and her boyfriend Billy (Brad Miller).

Following a near collision caused by Frank dozing off at the wheel, he admits to Laura that he decided to avoid the interstate this year and take the back roads for a change. This alternate route though just doesn’t seem to have an end, and as Frank grows increasingly impatient he stops the car when he sees a woman in the nearby forest dressed head to toe in white, holding a baby.

DEAD END 002The mysterious woman appears to be injured as there’s a cut to her forehead and she appears to be in shock, so without hesitation Frank asks his daughter to give up her seat in the car while the family make the quick drive to a cabin that they have just passed to drop the woman there in the hope of finding assistance – both for the woman and for advice on how to get back to the interstate.

Before long however, we find that our group of festive travellers have been split up with Marion pounding the road back from where they found the woman in white, Frank and Laura are investigating the cabins interior, Billy is left in the car attempting to converse with the rescued lady, while Richard has slipped off into the woods for some sneaky self-gratification! In this moment, everything is about to change and the Harrington family are about to endure a sinister and terrifying Christmas Eve.

Dead End succeeds on a multitude of levels. Firstly, there’s an air of menace that pervades the movie throughout which is thoroughly unnerving, heightened in my opinion by the sheer simplicity of the film. After all, it’s a movie about a family driving a car on an endless road – a basic concept, but with the addition of some visceral imagery like a menacing and mysterious black car, it raises the tension to sometimes unbearable levels. Secondly, the inclusion of jet black comedy provides us with moments of uneasy laughter that seem unsuited to such a frightening film, yet manage to compliment the sense of unease just perfectly.

DEAD END 003Finally, vast amount of credit is due to the two leads who fit the roles to perfection. Ray Wise brings charisma and cynicism as the head of the family, while Lin Shaye is a perfect foil who happens upon a moment of total insanity in the film which is delivered with jaw-dropping perfection. Dead End is a movie that comes highly recommended, and to me it’s a feature that I have close at hand at all times as there is now generation of people who are yet to have it grace their DVD player. If you’re one of these folk, put it to the top of your ‘to watch’ pile as it’s an 80 minute thrill ride with more invention and originality than most mainstream horror can muster in a calendar year.

9 out of 10

An Interview with Danielle Donahue by Dean Sills

DD1An Interview with Danielle Donahue by Dean Sills

Hello Danielle, first of all, thank you for your time and welcome to UKHS.

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

DD – I responded to a casting call that was emailed out to students while I was attending Penn State University in Dubois, PA. They were looking for people to play roles in the independent horror movie ‘Dead Body Man’ . I met with the director, Ryan Cavalline, and I got cast as Hooker #2. Small role but I really enjoyed the film making process. And then kind of just stuck to horror. I would love to branch out though.

 

UKHS – Can you tell us a little about your early work as an actress including your roles in ‘Wildcat’ and ‘HalloweeNight’?

DD – In the beginning I was really just learning the little nuances of the acting process but working with the Polonia brothers made it so much fun and just a great experience all around. I enjoyed doing ‘HalloweeNight’ because I got to play a party girl which is really a stretch from my personality so it was fun to portray. I still work with Mark Polonia and he’s amazing when it comes to directing, camera work, and editing.

 
DD2UKHS – You worked on the Tom Cruise film, ‘Jack Reacher’, what was it like working on this as a Bar Patron (uncredited) and did you have fun?

DD – That was a long night. It took about 15 hours to shoot that bar scene. There were about 100 people jam packed in this small bar and it was so hot with the lights and the close proximity of the crowd. Then when you watch it you only see a blurry image of me for about 3 seconds. Totally worth it though. I worked on big sets like that before but I got to work more directly with the director and crew on this one. There’s so many stories I could tell but it would take forever.

 

UKHS – Which horror actor or actress inspires you the most?

DD – Ah! That’s such a difficult question! I have a big girl crush on Milla Jovovich. She’s mainly known for the ‘Resident Evil’ movies but she is a well rounded actress and does a lot of her own stunts. I really like Lance Henriksen too. He does a lot of straight to video movies now but I could watch him in anything. Oh! And Tony Todd. I got to hang out with him at a horror convention a few years ago and he was a really cool down to earth guy. I still wouldn’t mess with him though.

 

DD3UKHS – You look awesome as Penny in your new movie ‘Survival Knife’, what can you tell us about the movie and when will we see the film get released?

DD – I’m pretty sure that all that’s left is the music. We’ve been working on it off and on for a couple years so I’m really excited to see how it turns out. Mike McKown, the director, showed me some pieces that he edited and it looks really good. Still not exactly sure when it will be released.

 
UKHS – ‘Queen Crab’ looks pretty cool especially the stop motion that reminds me of the old Ray Harryhausen movies. Did you enjoy working on this one and what can you tell us about your character?

DD – ‘Queen Crab’ was great! I actually got an advanced copy and it’s really good. Brett Piper directed that one and did the special effects and his stop motion is always amazing. I really enjoyed playing Daisy because she was pretty feisty and it’s always fun to play someone that doesn’t quite parallel yourself. Because then you get to actually “act”.

 

dd4UKHS – Danielle, you have starred in many movies now, which one is your favourite as an actress and why?

DD – That question is almost impossible to answer because I have such a unique experience with each one. I would have to say that playing Penny in ‘Survival Knife’ was my most challenging and rewarding role. It was very dynamic so I had to pull different parts of myself forward for different scenes.

 

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

DD – Well when it comes to B-Horror it seems to be violence, blood, and nudity. I can do blood and violence extremely well but I don’t do nudity so there are some roles I don’t get because of that.

 

UKHS – If you were stranded on a desert island, which three items would you want to have with you?

DD – A motorboat, a GPS, and an extra tank of gasoline.

 

dd5UKHS – Finally,where do you see yourself in five years from now?

DD – If you asked me this question 5 years ago I would say that I would see myself being an actor without needing a day job. But that hasn’t happened so I guess I can push it for another 5 years.

Thanks again Danielle for your time, good luck with your
acting career and your new movie ‘Survival Knife’.

Images Courtesy: Danielle Donahue

www.danielledonahue.com

www.facebook.com/donahuedanielle

Christmas Evil aka You Better Watch Out (1980) A UKHS Xmas Horror Review

xmasevil1Christmas Evil aka You Better Watch Out (1980)

 

Director: Lewis Jackson

 

Starring: Brandon Maggart, Jeffrey DeMunn, Dianne Hull, Andy Fenwick

 

Two young brothers, plus their mother, excitedly spy Santa Claus leaving presents for them on the night of Christmas Eve. When Santa has finished with the presents the boys go to bed. However one of them decides to sneak downstairs to see if it really was Santa. He is horrified to see his mother in front of the Xmas tree with Santa. He is running his hands up and down her legs then licks and kisses at her crotch.

 

Many years later the boys have grown up. One of them, Harry, is now obsessed with Father Christmas. He has pictures of the man all over his walls, wears Santa themed pyjamas and plays Christmas songs all day long. He disturbingly spies on the local children in order to keep check on who has been naughty and who has been nice. He works at a toy factory where his views on presents and children are often mocked by his colleagues. As December 25th approaches Harry becomes more and more unhinged in his obsession. Harry’s brother Philip becomes more and more worried about his sibling as Harry loses his grip on reality and thinks he IS Saint Nick.

 

xmasevil2The first thing that stands out in You Better Watch Out (original title) is the psychological element of the plot. The young boy seeing his mother with ‘Santa’ (actually his father in costume) has a long-lasting impact upon his psyche and brings about lifelong mental health issues. Maggart, as Harry, portrays the character as if he is someone who needs help for his fragile mindset whereas most would assume a killer Santa would not gain sympathy from the viewer. Harry spying on kids with binoculars in order to write their name in books, naughty and nice, is an uncanny touch of genius. It shows just how attached the man is to the myth of Father Christmas and at what lengths he is willing to go to in order to maintain that myth. The most frightening scene is when Harry super glues a false white beard to his face. He tugs at it to see if it will come off: it does not. He starts to sigh and yelp with giddy delight as he yanks at the beard even harder, no doubt pleased his new facial hair appears ‘real’.

 

Harry is displayed as having a good heart, when he isn’t killing adults who he feels are naughty. Whenever he encounters children, even after just murdering someone, he always stops and gives them presents. When he finds out the toy factory he works for are conning buyers with a false pledge to donate toys to a children’s hospital for every item bought in store Harry loads his van with their products and gives them to the staff of the hospital. The scene has a real warmth to it as he and the staff unload the toys while stood in the falling snow outside. The love kids have for Santa is shown when Harry comes across a bunch of people in a street once the news starts reporting there is a killer matching his description on the loose. The parents of the group try to corner him, but the children wont allow this to happen and protect Harry. The character becomes a big softie even when the father of one child starts threatening him with a knife. It illustrates the power that Saint Nick has over the target demo-graph.

 

xmasevil3The horror aspects of the plot are brilliantly used. Killer Santa’s are used in many movies but You Better Watch Out is probably the most chilling. Again this is thanks to the performance of Maggart, he outshines every other actor that he shares scenes with. When the character turns nasty it is done in a vicious and savage way. People are killed in some horrific ways that will please gore fans.

 

You Better Watch Out aka Christmas Evil is a fantastic look at how a traumatic event in childhood can cause people to grow up to be troubled and disturbed. The ending will further stir emotions making this a Christmas horror worth watching again, year after year.

 

9 out of 10.

Gremlins (1984) A UKHS Xmas Horror Review

grem1GREMLINS – 1984

Dir: Joe Dante

Starring: Zack Galligan, Phoebe Cates, Hoyt Axton, Corey Feldman, Polly Holiday

 

Christmas is a strange time of year. A miss- mash of contradictions and miss-matched customs it evokes all sorts of different reactions and emotions in people. Christmas movies are pretty much the same and I have to say, that for the most part they have never interested me. Regardless of the quality I have never had any great desire to sit and watch It’s A Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, Elf or any of the other usual suspects that clog the TV schedules at this time of year (although I do have to admit to having a strange affection for Santa Claus: The Movie as a child). It’s not that I am a Scrooge or anti- Christmas in any way, just that I have always preferred a bit blood and gore over the schmaltz of most Christmas fare. So when people ask me what my favourite Christmas movies are there are two films that always come to mind: Die Hard(1988) and Gremlins.

Die Hard is not a film that particularly evokes Christmas in any way. It’s just a film that I love that happens to be set at Christmas. Gremlins on the other hand is a Christmas film through and through; albeit one that dials down the excess saccharine and has an incredibly wicked sense of humour. It manages to mix the spirit of Christmas with the darker more malevolent antics of Halloween, creating a seasonal fun ride that is both wonderfully jovial and gleefully cruel. At its core it’s an amped up version of the ‘gremlin on the airplane’ story. Only instead of picking apart the engine of an aircraft, the gremlins here pick apart Christmas!

grem2For those of you that don’t know, it is the story of Billy Peltzer, a rather down on his luck bank clerk that manages to smile through life no matter what it throws his way. It’s nearly Christmas and his home town of Kingston Falls is alive with Christmas cheer and craziness. His Father, a rather useless inventor brings Billy home a new pet as a present, a creature called a Mogwai. Named Gizmo it’s cute, cuddly and smart but, like all pets, ownership comes with responsibility. There Are three very important rules that must be followed in order for the creature to be safe and happy: Don’t get it wet, keep it away from bright light (sun light will kill it), and don’t EVER feed it after midnight! Despite his best intentions, Billy inevitably gets Gizmo wet, leading to it breeding several more Mogwai. However, where Gizmo is loveable and likeable, these others are mischievous and spiteful. It isn’t long before the final rule is broken, and after a post- midnight feast, the Mogwai (apart from Gizmo) become cocooned and soon hatch into fully grown Gremlins. They merrily unleash havoc on the town and it’s up to Billy to stop them and save what’s left of Christmas.

Released in the UK on December 7th 1984 it is 29 years old this winter, but despite the fashions and the Wall Street financial politics it still holds up incredibly well. Joe Dante has often been deft at handling the balance between the comedic and the baroque, having cut his teeth working under Roger Corman. The B movie kings influence is felt throughout Gremlins, but so is an affection for the violent zaniness of Loony Tunes cartoons (Dante would later go on to direct a feature length Loony Tunes named Back in Action, 2003). But like its cartoon cousins it’s the movies unexpected cruelty that gives it its punch and provides many of the biggest laughs and shocks. Town Miser Mrs Deagles exit is a great example, mixing the comedy and the horror brilliantly as Gremlin carol singers send her flying through a window via a malfunctioning stair lift. Phoebe Cates gets most of the movies best ‘human’ moments, her character provided with some witty and surprisingly grim dialogue. Her revelation as to why she isn’t a fan of Christmas is a classic cinematic monologue that goes down a road that I doubt any one saw coming! As is her rather sharp observation that “While some people are opening presents, others are opening their wrists”.

Grem3Gremlins is a film so packed with fun stuff (I haven’t even looked at the ton of in jokes and nods to other films that it packs in!) that I could easily write a several thousand word piece on it. But that would be to waste the reader’s time when they could be watching the movie and enjoying these things for themselves. There are those that have questioned the movies logic, the big bone of contention seeming to be the feeding after midnight rule. But to waste time worrying about things like this is to ignore the films magic. In its craziness, sudden sparks of grim reality, and wonderful creature feature dynamics, it captures the feeling, the magic and the chaos of the season better than most ‘traditional’ Christmas films.

9/10

Scrooged (1988) A UKHS Xmas Horror Review

scrooged1Scrooged (1988) A UKHS Xmas Horror Review

Scrooged (1988)

Directed by Richard Donner.

Starring Bill Murray, Karen Allen, John Forsythe, John Glover and Robert Mitchum.

*SPOILERS CONTAINED IN THIS REVIEW*

Bah, humbug, to those of you hoping to read yet another Christmas Horror movie review because this one is more comedy than horror but I feel it’s only right to include this Christmas classic because we don’t want to scare the Dickens out of all our readers with every UKHS Xmas Horror Review. This is one of those movies I’ve actually seen several times at the cinema, thanks to working at Butlins in Scotland during the late 1980s. Staff could watch movies for free in the Cinema and I did many times. If you are fans of Bill Murray (Ghostbusters, Zombieland) and Richard Donner (The Goonies, The Omen) yule love this!

A modern version of the classic Dickens novel ‘A Christmas Carol’ with Bill Murray playing Frank Cross, the 80s version of Ebenezer Scrooge. Frank is the youngest network president in the history of television, he’s mean as hell, ruthless and hates Christmas. He declines his younger brother James (John Murray, Bill Murray’s real life brother) invitation to come to dinner, fires an employee Eliot Loudermilk (Bobcat Goldthwait) and even makes his secretary Grace (Alfre Woodard) work late plus along the way he sacrificed his true love Claire (Karen Allen) for success and wealth. Frank is given the job of overseeing a live Christmas TV special of ‘A Christmas Carol’ with the added stress from his boss Preston Rhinelander (Robert Mitchum), who hires an assistant, Brice Cummings (John Glover) to help Frank out but it’s pretty clear Brice just wants Frank’s job.

scrooged2Just before the airing Frank is visited by the ghost of his dead former mentor Lew Hayward (John Forsythe) who warns him to change the error of his ways. Lew, the decomposing corpse scares the crap out of Frank by magically pushing him through a plate glass window, then he dangles him above the street, telling Frank he will be soon be visited by three ghosts. After this spooky encounter Frank call his ex-girlfriend Claire in a frightened panic, she is now working at a homeless shelter and the two of them soon get together again.

The first ghost is a New York cabbie known as The Ghost of Christmas Past (David Johansen) who takes Frank back to 1955 and his miserable childhood, then the 1970s with Frank starting his career in broadcasting and putting his Boss before Claire.The second ghost is a sugar-plum fairy, Ghost of Christmas Present (Carol Kane) who gets her thrills by hitting Frank across the face with a toaster while showing him his secretary Grace, who is struggling to find a doctor who can properly treat her son and help him talk again.The final Ghost is the Ghost of Christmas Future,he sends Frank sliding into a crematory oven to burn to death before Frank finds out he is not actually dead and in true ‘A Christmas Carol’ tradition, he’s been given a second chance.

Frank now knows the true meaning of Christmas, he stops the live telecast of Dickens to ramble at the camera for several minutes and the film ends with Grace’s son regaining the ability to speak and Claire & Frank reunited.

scrooged3 Although this isn’t the best version of ‘Scrooge’, that honour goes to Alistair Sims as ‘Scrooge’ in the 1951 version (see a nice review by Stuart Anderson here: http://www.ukhorrorscene.com/scrooge-1951-a-ukhs-xmas-horror-review .
It’s still a decent version with some nice moments including the funny opening involving Santa Claus and Lee Mayors in ‘The Night the Reindeer Died’ which is basically ‘Die Hard’ in Santa’s Workshop plus Bill Murray is great in the lead and holds the movie together much better than sellotape on a Christmas present, gift wrapped under the tree.
8/10

Little Miss Stakes – Monster Party Hits (2013) Music Review

coverLittle Miss Stakes
“Monster Party Hits”

 
Little Miss Stakes are a horror punk/rock band from Belfast, Northern Ireland.  The last ten years or so, we’ve seen hundreds, maybe even thousands of horror punk bands pop up.  Ninety-five percent of them sound the same.  LMS are not that typical horror punk band.

I will say, right off the bat, that the vocals on the album will be the thing that drives the casual rock listener away from this band.  For me (and fans of the more aggressive rock and punk rock), they work very well.  There’s plenty of range and diversity here with the vocals. At times, there is an early AC/DC Bon Scott style.  There’s a growly type of almost death/black metal demon possession vocal.  There’s a more feminine(ish)-rock and roll vocal style ala Joan Jett.  A lot reminds me of Vince Neil as well.

Overall, there is a huge 45 Grave meets WASP meets The Misfits vibe.  None of it, however, sounds like they’re ripping anyone off.  They’re playing their own brand of horror-themed rock and roll. The bass sounds amazing and I’m glad it starts before the guitar here as it’s easy to have the bass tone buried and miss it.  With it coming in first, it stays fresh in the mind to really listen to it throughout the album.  The guitar tones are great as well.  Raw but very pronounced in the recording. A good heavy drum sound helps it make a well-rounded sounding album.

DSC_0186-3The first song is “Killer Klowns from Outer Space”.  This one screams 45 Grave as soon as it kicks in.  It’s that sort of generic horror movie 80’s rock sound that you just can’t get enough of.  This song might not be quite as catchy as the Dickies’ “Killer Klowns from Outer Space” that made it in the movie, but I’d probably say it’s better.  Great horror rock song.  It ends with a great punk rock circus vibe, complete with some keyboard bell sounds.

As Killer Klowns ends, “The Ghoul Next Door” kicks right in and you can hear influence all over this one.  It’s the 50’s-influenced horror punk that made The (original) Misfits famous and this song is phenomenal.  With the backup vocals and better recording quality, it’s somewhat reminiscent of Michale Graves-era Misfits, as well.  With these vocals being nowhere near a Danzig-style, the song feels more influenced by than a wannabe Misfits replica.  Very refreshing in the horror punk genre.  At this point, I’m really feeling this album.

“Mina” is more rock and roll fun.  Something about the riffing in it reminds me a bit of Calabrese.  Again, I can hear possibly an influence but no ripping off going on here.  Three songs in, LMS are doing a great job of keeping my attention. When “Drag Queen Dracula” hits, what can I say?  It’s another solid rock and roll song.  This one sort of reminds me of late 80’s/early 90’s era Alice Cooper.  Fun, horror rock with a bit of metal entwined to round out the big sound.  When it ends, so does the album (fairly abruptly).

Each song on this album has a bit of a different feel than the last but each one is strong and they feel good together from the listener’s standpoint.  Most horror punk bands are content with trying to sound like The Misfits and letting that be their defining quality.  Influence is fine, but most bands take it too far and lose any sense of listenability. What Little Miss Stakes have done is they’ve taken these influences and recycled them into their own sound.  This is how it should be done, horror punk bands.  Take a lesson from these guys.

Little-Miss-Stakes-1-e1376052510949 The biggest problem this EP has is that it’s over a little too soon.  The problem with short, four song EP’s is that they’re forgotten in the stacks of other music we all have.  We put on an album when we’re doing something and we don’t want to have to change it again in 12 minutes.  However, I’ve listened several times since receiving it so this one might be strong enough to keep from getting buried.

After several listens, I did a little more research on the band and came across another four song album, Bela Lugosi’s Pro Skater 3 (awesome title, by the way).  If it’s as strong as this one, I suggest we all put both albums together in one playlist and listen often.

7.5/10

Chris Cavoretto

You can visit the Little Miss Stakes bandcamp page HERE

Or their Facebook page HERE

A Serbian Film (2010) DVD Review

A_SERBIAN_FILM_3D_DVDA Serbian Film (Uncut)

 

Director: Srdjan Spasojevic

Cast: Srdan Todorovic, Sergej Trifunovic, Jelena Gavrilovic, Slobodan Bestic

Safecracker Pictures.

 

THE FOLLOWING REVIEW MAY NOT BE TO EVERYONES LIKING.

 

 

Cinema is large, as a concept. It has evolved from what was considered an amusing way for some people to pass time to a multi billion dollar worldwide business and universally accepted way to pass the time. As a result there are a lot of films out there that all vie for attention and money, to get people watching them and talking of them. There are hundreds of movies made every year from mega blockbusters to small independent shorts. Following the home video revolution of the early Eighties more movies than ever were made accessible by scores of people who would have never seen those titles. It strengthened the bond between consumer, the viewer, and commodity, the actual film.

 

It is because of this that genre’s or ‘labels’ are applied to film. They are either horror, thriller, drama or something obscure but it is the same: they are there to help distinguish the movie from others. It can certainly help a potential cinema goer or DVD buyer to decide on what they should spend their money and time on. There are theories that the use of genre’s, in all forms of media. is actually known as ‘pseudo individualism’ or ‘pseudo individualisation’. This is the attempt of making people believe the product they are seeing is unique or stands out from the rest of what is on offer. So a film is basically a film despite the hype or the theme that runs through it. It is, at heart, a way to pass the time. They are all made in a similar vein with the use of different shots, plotting and acting. This ties in with the previously mentioned pseudo individualism and is often known as ‘standardisation’. If all films are of a similar standard and actually don’t offer anything unique then pseudo individualisation is applied to it. But the use of that only masks a film’s non-originality and if the viewer digs beneath the surface they will discover its lack of genuine thought and art. It is standardised.

 

serbian2This has been detailed because upon viewing A Serbian Film it is obvious that it is a movie that very much uses everything it can to be ‘individual’ while it is actually a very standard movie. It uses an awful lot of techniques in an attempt to make it seem original and innovative but ultimately it is a shallow and empty text. Upon release in 2008 it caused controversy for its very graphic sexual nature. The director claimed this was actually an allegory for what is happening to the people of Serbia and its neglected and downtrodden citizens. The fact that this, a real and complex issue, is used as a way to give ‘meaning’ to the disgusting scenes in A Serbian Film is blatant pseudo individualisation. Anyone who remotely follows politics and the news will see through the thin layer of ‘meaning’ at the real story of the film.

 

What it really is is simple exploitation of some human beings sub conscious and innate yearning to rubber neck and see what they know shouldn’t be seen. There is the cliché that when people driving cars pass a car crash on the road they slow down and have a good stare. This is the only real ‘meaning’ of A Serbian Film. It is as if the writers and director had gotten together and asked, or tasked, themselves with the challenge of “What truly disturbing stuff can we put in our film to get people talking about it?” Having then actually carrying out whatever horrible outpouring that meeting resulted in they try to dress it up as a commentary on the fate of people caught in a volatile environment.

 

serbian6SPOILERS BELOW

 

 

In order to save some people from wanting to see this and then regret it, I am going to list some of the nasty scenes that are within this film. The curious, teased with rumours of what is in the movie, may actually think twice about watching A Serbian Film if they know of its true contents. Here are the worst examples of the sheer defilement of mostly women that is on offer.

 

A male porn star has become fed up with his work and can no longer gain sexual gratification. One day a mysterious man, highly intelligent apparently, talks this man into signing a contract to take part in a new genre of cinema he is working on. The porn star finds himself having sex with women who have just been beaten and appear to be forced into having intercourse. As the movie plods along the sex scenes become more and more violent and tasteless. The porn star regrets signing the contract but he has been ‘drugged’ to become a sexual beast who will get an erection no matter what. He tries to stop yet he cant, the ‘director’ and his friends manipulate him into viciously beating the women he is clearly raping.

 

He is convinced one woman tied to a bed had cheated on her now-dead war hero husband. As he gets angry and starts to hit her he is handed a machete. He is so worked up he brutally chops her head off as he fucks her limp corpse.

 

serbian4The ‘director’ makes the porn star view his ‘new creation’: a video tape of a woman giving birth. As soon as the baby is born it is raped by a large bald man. The mother seems to be sexually aroused by seeing her baby being violated. This is, claims the director, a revolution known as ‘newborn porn’.

 

One woman has been chained in an empty room. She has forcibly had all her teeth pulled out. A man wearing a mask walks into shot and then forces his erection down her throat.

 

The porn star, by now delirious from the drugs, is taken into a warehouse with a bed. Upon it are two non-moving bodies, one large and one small, that have been covered up. The porn star starts to rape the large body then the other without even having to be talked into it. The masked man shows up and begins raping the large body. The director removes his mask to reveal it is the porn stars brother. The large body is uncovered to reveal it is the porn stars badly beaten wife. The small body, still being raped, is uncovered to reveal the porn stars young son. The porn star then goes ballistic and attacks the director.

 

As you will have read, it is a grim and horrible film. The use of children as things to be sexually corrupted is justified as being a critique on how people have been bombarded with images of nudity and sexuality. The scene with the rape of a child has no doubt been argued as an attempt to illustrate that people are now ‘fucked’ their whole life even from birth. Whether that be fucked by repression or having the mind infiltrated by mass media smut is not the point. It is not the point because the rape of the baby has no point: it is devoid of any meaning. It is simply a way to shock those viewing and hopefully causes enough interest in those who think that a movie is better for even more sadistic human suffering displayed within.

 

The porn star violating his wife then own child will not surprise those who manage to ‘gut it out till the end’. It feels as if the director knew he had no where else to go, after desensitizing his own viewers to violence despite his attempts to raise awareness of that issue, so thought it was the only logical conclusion. If logic can be applied to this sort of text.

 

END OF SPOILERS.

 

serbian1The review has been devoid of any real plot devices such as characters names because the movie would still operate on the same level without these things. It doesn’t matter what the porn star is called because it is obvious the brutal acts of rape and killing he carries out is what the director wants to really matter. The actors names and name of the director have not been used because they, too, don’t matter. People who seek this flick out will not care, they will just want sick gratification of the lowest form.

 

Of course this entire review could be what the director wants. To read it and know that he has done his ‘job’. And he has, but what does it really matter? He knows he has made a truly absurd movie and has tried to employ pseudo individual creating techniques in order to try and make some sort of pretence that this is a worth while film. The fact A Serbian Film was banned or cut in some countries upon original release will have fuelled the ego stroking that really drives the needs of the director. Now uncut it will bring up the controversy again.

 

The extra’s on the disc are a ‘making of’ for the baby scene and an introduction from the very self assured director.

 

Rating system not applicable. 

Scrooge (1951) A UKHS Xmas Horror Review

Scrooge – 1951 | 86 mins | Comedy, Drama | B&W

I don’t like the Muppets, I don’t like them at all. I never have and I’m probably sure that I never will. It’s a controversial viewpoint which I know will upset many, but I have my legitimate reasons.

scroo1

“That bloody Frog is here somewhere…….
Even as a child I never really had much time for those supposedly loveable puppet things that celebrities almost seemed to trample over each other to get their faces on; Kermit the blooming Frog simply annoyed the hell out of me, Miss Piggy reminded me of an old schoolteacher from my Grammar school and Fozzy bear just creeped me out for some unknown reason that I couldn’t ever quite put my finger on. The only character that I ever found remotely likable was the drummer, Animal. “So Stuey, what is the actual reason for this hatred of an entertainment institution?” I hear you ask. Well, partly it may be that at school one of my lesser flattering nicknames was ‘Gonzo’, given to me by some wit who thought that as I had a slightly bug nose it would be highly hilarious to give me that name. It could have been worse I suppose, they could have call me Joseph Merrick – now that would have been cruel. But no, I’m way past that now – after all, those years of therapy had to amount to something…..

 

No, it is far more than just a half-arsed witty nickname that causes me to tense up just at the very thought of Jim Henson’s crazy Muppets. The thing that more or less sealed the deal was a certain adaptation of arguably the classic ghost story of all ghost stories. As far as I’m aware there have been over fifty adaptations in various forms of Charles Dickens Literary classic ‘A Christmas Carol‘. Some of them have been truly excellent (the 1984 TV film starring George C. Scott being of particular note) while some adaptations have been, well, less than excellent. You see, I truly love the story of A Christmas Carol, not necessarily for it’s theme of personal redemption (which is a quite nice thing I suppose), no I love it because at the core of the story there is a genuine substance of spectral horror. Yet, throughout the years a light-hearted and comforting tale of amusing and eccentric ghosts visiting a rather grumpy but still humorous old Ebenezer have replaced the original feeling of fear and horror that Dickens intended when he wrote the story…….. and chief amongst those guilty of such a transformation from horror to cosy are those responsible for A Muppet Christmas Carol. I tell you now, ‘Funny ghosts’ and Michael Caine hamming it up are not anywhere on god’s green Earth near to the original authentic subject matter of the source material. And don’t get me started on the bloody songs.

 

Thankfully the more authentic adaptations are there to remind us how powerfully chilling this story can actually be when the will arises. Whilst the aforementioned TV version starring the excellent George. C Scott is a wonderful piece of work, for me nothing has yet has ever compared on a chill-factor level as a British made black and white version of the story – Scrooge (1951).
scroo2
“You bloody well let me know when you hear the first sound 
of a song in this movie”
 
THE PLOT
You’ve got to be kidding me?! – Its A freaking Christmas Carol!

 

Well OK – for those 23 people in the Amazonian tribe yet to be discovered by the rest of ‘civilisation’ and so haven’t got around to seeing any of the veritable plethora of movie versions, here is the plot in a very quick but informative way.

 

“Old, bitter businessman Ebenezer Scrooge hates Christmas and everybody who celebrates it – he does have one favourite Christmas pastime, which is shouting “Humbug” at all Crimbo devotees…..He especially has no time for his ever-so-nice employee Bob Cratchett who has a big annoyingly happy Family, including a crippled son called Tiny but annoyingly happy Tim…….Ebenezer is soon visited by the ghost of his dead business partner – Ghost warns him of his impending doom. Scrooge laughs it all off as the result of bad cheese, ghost gets a bit annoyed…….. soon he’s visited by the ghosts of Crimbo past, Crimbo present and possible Crimbo future which looks decidedly pants – It’s all very very frightening with thunderbolts and lightening…….Eventually he sees the error of his selfish ways………suddenly becomes very happy when alive to see Crimbo morning……treats everybody to free lunches & presents……buys the Cratchetts a big bird to eat……Tiny Tim is more annoyingly happy than ever….”
Yes the story for me has its faults; Tiny Tim is always genuinely annoying and if I was his older brother I would be deeply pissed off the old golden buy Tim gets all the attention. His father Bob Cratchett has always in my book deserved a bit of a slap around the chin with a wet fish for being overly wet and subservient. However even the cynic in me never fails to get sucked into the joy that Scrooge feels when waking up as a reformed man on Christmas morning.

 

This film is true, not only to the main episodes in the original story, but just as importantly to this blogger, faithful to its fundamental horror content.
scroo3
“But I’ve never even met Jim Henson!!”
For while learning from the error of ones’ ways and attaining personal redemption are all well and good, it’s the chilling psychological journey that Scrooge is forced to endure that has always appealed to me – and boy does this version lay on atmosphere and chill-factor galore.
The film is perhaps in some ways the most faithful in some ways to the original text and yet succeeds in adding some fascinating layers of previously unexplored back story of the character at Scrooge, in essence building upon elements of plot that Dickens at best only hinted at. For in this version the usual pantomime version of Scrooge as a grumpy yet still likable is replaced by a back story rich in detail that gives meaning and understanding to some of his behaviour. For example, Scrooge’s resentment of Fred isn’t purely due to his hatred of Christmas, but also because his birth resulted in the death of the only woman he ever loved, his sister.

 

It is partly the marvellous screenplay by Noel Langley which provided richly textured back story to Dickens’ source material, but more so it is the central performance of Alistair Sim that brings out a rounded completeness to Scrooge’s character – this is no cardboard cut-out performance from a giant of British cinema, it is a thing of genius. It isn’t only me that believes that Sim’s performance is the benchmark portrayal of Scrooge that all others should be measured by – George C. Scott himself said the very same when he was preparing for the eponymous role.
scroo4
Sim’s portrayal is an honest to god tour-de-force, with the more detailed back-story of his life providing him the chance to give depth, understanding and even a degree of sympathy to his selfish and outwardly seemingly downright evil treatment of the people in his life. For example, the well known antipathy he seems to have towards his nephew Fred is explained by the fact that his cherished sister died shortly after giving birth to him – an occurrence that has caused intense resentment and in some ways no little hatred towards the unknowing young man. No-one before or since has ever matched Alistair Sims magical performance of a man tortured by his past – there are moments when just a flicker of his eyes says more than a dozens of hammed up performance of Ebenezer have ever managed to do combined together.

However, this is a horror blog, so I’m especially concerned with the scare factor of this version – and by Jove does it deliver.

scroo5

I mentioned earlier that numerous adaptations of this story have resulted in what we now familiarly see as a series of vaguely unsettling but more so amusing spectres providing their various warnings of impending doom. This version thankfully remains true to the chills that it should actually provide – after all, the ghosts that appear are supposed to be intending to frighten the worst of moral offenders into changing his selfish ways.  For example, the slow atmospheric build-up leading to the appearance of Scrooges’ long since dead partner is so expertly done that when the Ghost of Jacob Marley finally appears it produces perhaps one of the most unnerving spectres to haunt cinema – and I genuinely mean that. Not only is the deep despair about his own fate clearly apparent in the wonderful performance of Michael Horden, his rage and frustration at Scrooges initial scepticism is deeply convincing. The fact that a range of ground-breaking special effects were also employed in this production gives a true sense of chilling gravitas to the phantasmic scenes.

 

If that wasn’t enough for the connoisseur of the frights,  the genuine chills of the ghost of Christmas future is the forbidding shadow of impending doom that Dickens originally intended him to be.

 

The fact that the entire movie was filmed on a purpose built studio is a testament to the intense and foreboding atmosphere created for this Dickensian London. The bleakness of the black and white film gives an added gothic nuance that is reminiscent of the glory days of Universal monster movies. This is simply British film-making at it’s glorious best. I would strongly advise that if you are going to view this version of the film for the first time that you watch the original b&w version and not the later colourised version which goes a fair way to robbing the film’s ghost sequences of much of their power to scare – stay away i say….stay away from colour!!
Oh my good god – no word of a lie, but I’ve just seen a trailer on TV for The Smurfs: A Christmas Carol. Kill me now.

 

This version deserves a simple 10 out of 10 – If I could, I would give it more.

Silent Night, Deadly Night 3 : Better Watch Out! (1989) A UKHS Xmas Horror Review

SNDN 001SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT III: BETTER WATCH OUT! (1989) DVD

Review by: Dave Wain

Stars: Bill Moseley, Samantha Scully, Richard C. Adams, Richard Beymer, Eric DaRe

Written by: Carlos Laszlo (story and screenplay), Arthur Gorson (story), Monte Hellman (story)

Runtime: 89 minutes

Directed by: Monte Hellman

 

After an early career amongst the low budget B’s of the 1960s, Monte Hellman went on to reach both cult and critical acclaim with Cockfighter (1974) and most notably Two-Lane Blacktop (1971). It’s with some surprise then that we fast forward to 1989 to discover him behind the camera on the third entry in the Silent Night, Deadly Night franchise.

To recap on the events of the series so far, the killer in the initial Silent Night, Deadly Night had a brother called Ricky who sought revenge in Part II but was swiftly nullified… so we thought, but alas Part III opens with Ricky (Bill Moseley) lying in a hospital bed with his brain exposed. The reason for this intriguing plot development is that Ricky is being kept alive on purpose as in the same clinic is Laura (Samantha Scully), a blind psychic who is being coaxed into making contact with Ricky to ‘get inside his head’.

SNDN 002The doctor doing this bizarre experiment is Dr. Newbury (Richard Beymer) who reconstructed Ricky’s brain after he was shot six times at the end of the last movie, so considering his efforts he has a real desire to see some results from his experiment. Laura on the other hand is reluctant to tell Dr. Newbury exactly what she sees when she makes contact with Ricky, and as coincidence should have it it’s time to head home for the holidays which gives Laura the ideal opportunity to get away from this traumatic scenario.

Collected by her brother (Eric DaRe – with an alarmingly awful perm) and his girlfriend (Laura Harring) they head off just before we bear witness to the predictable reawakening of good ‘ole Ricky Caldwell. During a lifetime of watching horror movies, we’ve all seen some classic ‘killer comes back to life’ situations (Jason being electrocuted back alive underwater in F13thVIII for example) – here though we can enjoy the sight of a drunken Santa Claus stumbling into Ricky’s hospital room, in which the sight of him snaps Ricky back to life, onto his feet and out the door of the clinic. He also manages to spectacularly tune himself in to Laura’s psychic frequency and get the directions to where she’s heading for her holiday stay – genius. Perhaps most enjoyable is how Ricky, clad in hospital gown with a fish bowl on his head displaying his brain finds it so easy to hitch a lift.

Silent Night, Deadly Night III is worth watching purely for such idiocies. It is quite possibly the most laughably awful yet memorably enjoyable horror movie that I like to revisit from time to time. Bear in mind I’ve only given you an insight there into the first half an hour, there is far more crazy exposition yet to come including the appearance of Robert Culp as a detective hot on Ricky’s trail, and a phone sex obsessed gas station attendant. It’s also filled with goof-tastic quotes such as “he sees what she sees” – but she’s BLIND!

At a showing of the movie in Austin in 2008, Hellman introduced the film by saying it was his best work (without sarcasm apparently), though he based this assertion primarily on the speed at which he was able to turn the project around which included re-writing the script in 7 days (that long?).

SNDN 003This in my opinion is far from Monte Hellman’s best work – it’s not even in his top 10, but that said it is worth hunting it down if only to see Bill Moseley in one of his most restrained roles as Ricky. Good luck with finding it though, it’s never had a UK release and the set from Lionsgate released in 2009 is now pretty hard to come by.

 

5 out of 10