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Bad Milo! And The Cottage amongst nine Horror Channel prems for March.

horrorchannellogoSky 319 / Virgin 149 / Freesat 138 / Freeview 70

Bad Milo! And The Cottage amongst nine Horror Channel prems for March.

rsz_badmilo-2Horror Channel presents nine fear-filled premieres in March including the UK TV premiere of BAD MILO!, Jacob Vaughan’s laugh-out-loud comedy horror blending sharp social satire with copious amounts of slimy gore. Broadcast on Fri 31 March at 11.20pm, BAD MILO! stars Ken Marino as normal nice guy Duncan, who discovers that a cute bloodthirsty creature is living in his lower intestines. Every time he gets stressed, it crawls out of his rectum to feed on the flesh of those riling him up. This was a huge hit at FrightFest in 2014.

rsz_the_cottage-web3Dark laughs also run amok on Fri 3 March at 10.55pm with the network premiere of Paul Andrew Williams’ blood-drenched hostage thriller THE COTTAGE, starring Andy Serkis, Reece Shearsmith and Jennifer Ellison. Feuding brothers David (Andy Serkis) and Peter (Reece Shearsmith) abduct a young woman (Jennifer Ellison) and hole up in a remote rural cottage, But their hostage turns the tables and soon it’s all for one when they find that the deranged farmer next door is the real threat. Hellraiser’s Doug Bradley makes a cameo in this terror treat.

rsz_shrooms-web2There are also network premiere for Irish hit SCHROOMS, a stylish psychedelic shocker, directed by Paddy Breathnach (Fri 10 March, 11pm), ADRIFT, Hans Horn’s emotionally wrenching sail into terror (Fri 24 March, 9pm), Steve Barker’s atmospheric Nazi zombie thriller, OUTPOST (Sat 11 March, 10.50pm), Rob Schmidt’s cult  cannibal chiller WRONG TURN (sat 25 March, 11pm) and Hammer’s THE CURSE OF THE MUMMY’S TOMB (Sat 4 March, 10.45pm).

Plus there are channel firsts for Dave Payne’s tongue-in-cheek horror romp REEKER, starring Michael Ironside (Fri 17 March, 9pm) and Nicholas Mastandrea’s vicious canine nail-biter THE BREED, produced by Wes Craven and starring Michelle Rodriguez (Sat 18 March, 9pm.

TV: Sky 319 / Virgin 149 / Freesat 138 | Freeview 70
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Havenhurst (2016) Review

Havenhurst posterHavenhurst (2016)

Director: Andrew C. Erin

Starring: Julie Benz, Belle Shouse, Fionnula Flanagan, Josh Stamberg

Havenhurst is now available on Cable VOD and Digital HD platforms, including Charter Spectrum, Comcast, DirecTV Cinema, Dish, iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Google Play, Vudu and more

“Clean slate. Fresh start. The rest is up to you.”

Genre darling Julie Benz stars in this entertaining thriller. She plays Jackie, an alcoholic fresh out of rehab who goes to stay in an apartment building that takes in various addicts and offer them a home, as long as they obey the rules. Her landlady Eleanor (Fionnula Flanagan) offers a warm welcome with a side helping of veiled threats. Jackie is welcome to stay for as long she wants but she mustn’t return to her old habits or she’ll face eviction. Jackie agrees to the terms, but she has another motive for taking the apartment in Havenhurst. Jackie’s friend Danielle has recently disappeared from the building without notice and Jackie wants to find out what happened to her. Luckily she is the newest occupant of the apartment Danielle has just vacated. During her search, Jackie meets some of the other residents, including a young girl named Sarah (Shouse) who reminds Jackie of her tragic past.

rsz_havenhurst_3Havenhurst doesn’t exactly break new ground. And I was surprised that I guessed the nature of the apartment building so quickly. Not that the film tries for a big reveal, but literally, my first thought was correct. Still, that doesn’t matter so much with such enjoyable performances and a smoothly told story. Julie Benz is in good form and Fionnula Flanagan, despite the small part, shines brightly as the overbearing landlady with a very dark secret. Sadly, the villains don’t get much screen time. At least not as much as they rightly deserve. Especially given the slasher roots of Havenhurst. Shouse is a talented young actress and does a decent job as the quiet and traumatized Sarah.

There are a couple of gory scenes but there was certainly room for many more, and it feels a bit like a lost opportunity. I’m not generally fan of torture porn, but this movie could have used a bit more blood and guts. Though, there is at least one scene very heavy on the guts. The practical effects are also a welcome change of pace. No CGI that’s noticeable at least (which is always the best kind of CG). Not that there is great emphasis on special effects. Havenhurst depends more on suspense rather than effects.

There are few places where the movie falls flat. There are an unfortunate amount of jump scares that aren’t scary. The director would have been better off aiming for psychological thrills or, again, gore, instead. There are a lot of side characters who don’t get much, if any development. Jackie’s friend Tim (Josh Stamberg) is more plot device than character. He’s a cop. He’s her friend… and that’s it. There is nothing to indicate how they met, how they know each other, how long they’ve known each other. Same goes for the creepy building superintendant and Eleanor’s son Ezra (Matt Lasky)who could have had a much larger and more threatening part, but appears in only about three scenes. Both Tim and Ezra are wasted opportunities script-wise.

rsz_havenhurst_2While Havenhurst isn’t exactly an amazing film, it entertains and provides a coherent, well told story. Julie Benz fans in particular will enjoy her in this starring role. Just be sure to curb your expectations, and settle in for a decent little thriller with a nice kick at the end.
Kudos for: Julie Benz rocking the brunette dye job.

Lesson learned: Always read the lease agreement.


Killer Piñata (2015) Review

rsz_kp1Killer Piñata (2015)
Directed by: Stephen Tramontana
Written by: Megan Macmanus and Stephen Tramontana from a story by Nick Weeks.
Starring: Lindsay Ashcroft, Nate Bryan, Eliza-Jane Morris, Steven James Price and Joette Waters.

Available here – http://lcfilmsonline.com/product/killer-pinata-bluray-dvd-or-limited-edition-vhs/

A possessed piñata, seeking to avenge the savagery that humanity has inflicted on his kind, picks off a group of friends, one by one, in an unending night of terror.

There has always been a trend in the horror industry for films with titles that make us grimace. These are the titles that we’re almost embarrassed to say aloud for fear that someone will think we’re condoning the pas complique of their unashamed simplicity. Back in 1964 we were watching Ray Dennis Steckler’s The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies. In 1966 Don Weis gave us The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini. More recently, we’ve sat through Sharknado and all its sequels (including Feeding Frenzy and Heart of Sharkness). And now, thanks to Stephen Tramontana, we can all sit back and bask in the glory of the title that is Killer Piñata.

I did not sit down in front of this movie expecting finesse, sophistication or subtlety. I’m stupid, but I’m not that stupid. I did not expect cutting edge special effects or award-winning acting. In truth, I went into this film with very low expectations, and I was not disappointed.

The film opens in the Candyworld toy store and it appears there’s been an incident. The hook-handed shopkeeper (Joette Waters, The Night-Like Daydreams of Wolfgang Deedle, Dead Girls, and His Dream, His Nightmare) finds a former cashier sprawled dead on the floor. In blood, with one finger, the cashier has started to write a final message, identifying her killer. She only got halfway through the word and we see the letters P I Ñ A.

rsz_kp2Jump forward a little in time and David Goodman (Steven James Price, I’m Fine, Welcome to Dreadville V: Souls of Mischief, and Not Another Zombie Movie) is bursting into Candyworld, desperate to buy a piñata or three for his son’s birthday party celebrations. Obviously, he buys the one labelled ‘DO NOT CELL’, and this is how the unlikely mayhem moves from Candyworld into suburbia.

Despite the ludicrousness of the plot, I have to admit there is something a little unsettling about the ritual of beating a piñata. Piñatas are usually pretty. They’re usually small to the point of being vulnerable. And they’re invariably filled with appetising and appealing sweets. So, given all these positive qualities of a piñata, why do we encourage children to string them up like war criminals and then take a bat to them like Robert De Niro in The Untouchables?

Clearly the Killer Piñata, seeing his kith and kin succumb to this fate, is pondering the same question. And, if we sidestep the notion of him being sentient and possessing motility, we can understand why pathological vengeance becomes his raison d’etre.

rsz_kp3This is not a film to take seriously. It’s a film to watch with drunken friends. It’s a film to watch with people who appreciate surrealist comedy. It’s a film to watch with those who enjoy the OTT reactions of those under attack from the Papier Mache paws of a killer piñata. Given the current political climate of the world, with so many reasons to be unhappy, fearful and worried, this movie offers a chance to laugh at the absurd and embrace the notion of ridiculousness. I think it’s fair say that this Killer Piñata can’t be beaten. 7/10

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.


Che Gilson’s Netflix Roulette #17 – Tucker & Dale vs Evil (2010)

rsz_tucker_and_dale_posterJoin Che as she plays Netflix Roulette and watches a randomly selected horror film. Will it be awesome? Will it be torture? What horrors await?? Find out every month with Netflix Roulette!

Title: Tucker and Dale VS. Evil

Year: 2010

Director: Eli Craig

Starring: Tyler Labine, Alan Tyduck, Katrina Bowden, Jesse Moss

Netflix Rating: 4.5 stars

Seen it before: No

First Impressions: At first I thought I was in DEEP trouble judging by the dumb title. BUT then I saw who it was starring! Tyler Labine!!! He is a long time favorite of mine and tragically underrated. He’s a goddamn national treasure! Alan Tyduck is good too…So I felt assured by the stars and the rating that this will be good. It promises to be a horror comedy, let’s find out if it delivers. Fingers crossed.

The Verdict: Tucker and Dale VS Evil is a fun film that subverts the “killer hillbilly” trope so painfully common to horror films.

rsz_tucker_and_dale_3Tucker (Tyduk) and his friend Dale (Labine)are on their way to Tucker’s newly purchased dream vacation home. On the way they run into a group of college students who are on their way to get drunk in the woods over the weekend. Dale tries to talk to one of the college girls at a gas station stop but the college kinds, raised on a steady diet of Wrong Turn, flee. Dale and Tucker encounter the college kids again as they’re doing a little night fishing on the lake. One of the kids, Allison (Bowden) falls in the lake and hits her head. Dale jumps in to rescue her but all Allison’s friends see is a hillbilly taking away their friend. And so begins an epic case of misunderstanding and brutal accidental deaths, while a very confused Tucker and Dale think they are caught in a mass suicide pact of college kids.

The fun is both the college students falling into the assumption that any hillbilly must be a killer hillbilly, and Tucker and Dale’s reactions to all the death and mayhem happening around them. There are a number of great deaths, soured by an unfortunate amount of CGI. The CGI is very poor and very obvious. Most of the impalements are done digitally and there are quite a few impalements. The movie makes up for some of it’s worse effects with really good trauma make-up. Especially in the case of poor Tucker who takes most of the damage. But practical gore effects would have elevated the film and been a great parody of older horror hillbilly films like the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

rsz_tucker_and_dale_2Still, that is a small complaint. The acting is great. The comedic timing of Tyduck and Labine is perfectly on point. The actual villain of the film emerges in the form Chad (Jesse Moss) a preppy college kid who slowly becomes unhinged as his personal demons overtake him. The death scenes are hilarious and there is a lot of great repartee.

This is an older film, but if you haven’t checked it out, I highly recommend it. It’s not the goriest horror comedy, or maybe even the funniest, but it’s an original and subversive take on a classic trope and manages to breathe new life into one of the more obnoxious horror tropes.

Rating: 8/10

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

Ghosts of Darkness (2017) Review

GhostsOfDarkness-POSTER_BILLING - 350-EditedGhosts of Darkness (2017)

Written & Directed By: David Ryan Keith
Produced By: Lorraine Keith
Starring: Michael Koltes, Paul Flannery, Steve Weston, Lisa Livingstone, Liam Matheson, Morgan Faith Keith, Cameron Mowatt, Lindsay Cromar.
Release Date: March 7th, 2017 on VOD, and June 6th on DVD
Trailer Link: https://youtu.be/8FR5Uq9MMiU

Ghosts of Darkness, is the third feature film, to come from Scottish Writer/Director David Ryan Keith, and was part of the official selection of films at the ‘Bram Stoker International Film Festival, 2016.

The two previous feature films, were 2011’s zom/com spectacular, Attack Of The Herbals, and 2014’s bloodthirsty slasher, The Redwood Massacre’, which had the classic tale of teens in the woods, being hunted and slaughtered. Both of the films are clever in their storytelling, and choice of sub genre, with the two films following completely different paths. To that end, Ghosts of Darkness, certainly follows in the footsteps of its predecessors in following a different path, and for me, this film feels like it’s got its serious face on, and has more ambition and maturity to it.

Filmed in Scotland, Ghosts Of Darkness is the first feature film, that the talented Scottish director has made in the paranormal genre. The film secured worldwide distribution, before a scene had even been filmed, with American distribution company Uncork’d Entertainment in August of 2015.

On the strength of their reputations, Jack Donovan (Koltes), a paranormal investigator, and Jonathan Blazer (Flannery), a powerful psychic, are paired together in a large manor house with a very dark and shady past, in the hope of solving a mystery, that has had people guessing since the 1800’s.

To do this, Donovan and Blazer will be locked in the house for three nights, to record their findings and prove once and for all, if there really are secrets lurking within the walls. After starting their investigation, they discover that there’s more than one, very real paranormal entity, that means to do them harm. The two men must put their differences aside, if they want to survive their stay at Richmond Manor.

Ghosts of Darkness, is a celebration and a triumph, for Scottish indie-horror, film making. Do not make the mistake, of thinking this is another film, that’s riding the coattails of paranormal activity. This is a film that stands on it its own two feet.

demon7Creating a film about two men, running round a house chasing ghosts, is by no means an easy thing to do. It could have been so easy for things to have gone stale and fallen flat, but the dialogue is slick, witty and funny. There are moments of major intrigue that build suspense, and when things get going, the non stop action does not let the film fall into the trap of becoming a sleeping aid. The pacing of the film is great. Its not a film you have to be patient with, and then only delivers the frights at the end. Its gripping the whole way through, particularly the relationship between Blazer and Donovan, and the development of their characters. The pair, seemed so at ease, not only with each other, but in the roles they were portraying. Its obvious there was a good camaraderie between Koltes and Flannery, because although their characters are very chalk and cheese, they worked so well together. You are taken on a wonderful journey with the pair, from them butting heads, to forming a mutual respect, and most important of all, a real friendship.

Upon the two protagonists being introduced to us, they both start to go about their work, and have a very different approach towards getting started. Blazer is looking for something to drink, and Donovan gets out all of his fancy gadgets, and goes about setting them up. Little do they know at this point, that within the walls of Richmond Manor, there really are things that go bump in the night.To begin with, the two are dealing with ghosts that merely tease them with noises, apparitions, and actions akin to poltergeist activity. But when demons enter the fray, things go from bad to worse, as they start to prey on their inner most feelings and fears. Things then turn to acts of physical harm, use of sharp weapons, extreme violence, and much worse.

1The special effects and makeup team that worked on this film, need to take a bow. The ghosts and demons look genuinely threatening and scary. The eyes are the window to the soul, and firstly with the ghosts, the big black eyes show us an element of pure evil and bad intentions. The blackness in the eyes, reminded somewhat, of a film called ‘Grave Encounters’, which was terrifying, so this really worked well. The skin, as you would expect for a ghost is very pale, almost grey, and is made up to look dead and scarred. Its been done very effectively and the demons look incredible.

They really are the epitome of evil. If you had one of these walking towards you in a dark house in the middle of the night, you’d have a heart attack. Its hard to imagine that there is actually a person under that make up and that its not something straight from the necronomicon. The time and detail that has gone into that has gone into creating the gaping wounds and decomposing flesh is astonishing.

Score: 8/10

Monster Charity Project 2017 – Make-A-Wish UK

14906816_10153951383160978_1251873130526858894_nMonster Charity Project 2017

rsz_15541197_10157836219330368_7899376132559077312_nFrankenstein’s Monster as you have never seen him before, completely customised in unique designs by some of the UK’s top artists from the prop-making and movie Special FX make-up industries.

25 of the UK’s top prop-making, sculpting and SPFX make-up artists have been brought together to take part in a unique charity project. Each artist has been given a bespoke Frankenstein-inspired monster bust, created and supplied by SVFX University of Bolton Special & Visual Effects team, with the simple instruction: Customise him into any design you like.

Once customised, the artists then donate the finished bust back to the Monster Charity Project organisers who will auction them off via an online auction site. 100% of the proceeds raised from the auction will be donated to Make-A-Wish UK. All the artists and the back room project crew donate their time and skills totally free of charge.

Last year the same project team raised a staggering £28,000 for Make-A-Wish at Star Wars Celebration London with a similar project featuring an iconic Star Wars Helmet. 30 artists took part creating such custom designs as Deadpool, Judge Dredd , Batman and a Studio Ghibli inspired design.

rsz_horrorcon_brum_11The busts will be going on a UK tour during 2017 taking in such conventions as Horror Con UK, finishing the year at Creaturegeddon where many of the featured artists can be seen sharing their work and also available for a chat. The Monster Charity Project is also in talks to have the display featured at the very popular Grimmfest event in Manchester.

People will be able to start viewing the completed busts from May 2017 via various social media outlets and the above mentioned conventions, the project busts then go to auction on October 31st 2017, ending November 5th 2017

For Further information and updates you can follow the project and all its progress at:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/The-Monster-Charity-Project-2017-1154419357915280/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/monsterproj
Instagram: https://instagram.com/monstercharityproject

Dark Web: Steven Hickey’s Essential Guide To Creepypasta – Part 38: The Puppeteer


A few weeks ago I wrote about the popular DeviantArt original character (or OC, to use the parlance of Creepypasta creators), Jason the Toymaker.
Jason is a perfect example of the nature of DeviantArt OCs. He is a terrifying, visually striking character who has drawn more than his fair-share of (sometimes unwanted) fan adoration. This week I’m returning to DeviantArt for another such character, one that is was actually heralded by Jason’s creator, Kristantyl, as her favourite Creepypasta. This is the story of The Puppeteer.

The story of The Puppeteer was first posted on DeviantArt in July 2013 by his creator, BleedingHeartworks. You can read the story here: http://bleedingheartworks.deviantart.com/art/Creepy-Pasta-The-Puppeteer-387722714

In the story an unnamed narrator talks about experiencing an overwhelming feeling of loneliness and then paranoia upon going to college. Finally, after the narrator has succeeded in withdrawing from any all contact, a chance encounter on a stairwell leads to a heart-rending, frightening conclusion. The story is a good one, and I can imagine that lots of Creepypasta readers are of the same age as BleedingHeartworks’ protagonist, which will help the reader to relate to the character’s plight.

What’s striking is the fact that, despite being the title character, The Puppeteer is used sparingly in the story. This is a very intelligent storytelling device, as few things frighten as much as the unknown. We are given a description of the villain, a hint as to his motives, but the character never wears out his welcome, is never overexposed. This smart storytelling drew a lot of attention to the character, prompting the author to pen a sequel, The Puppeteer II: Motherly Love, which appeared over at DeviantArt on 5 December 2013. You can read that story here: http://bleedingheartworks.deviantart.com/art/The-Puppeteer-II-Motherly-Love-418003926

It’s the story of a young boy (later revealed to be named Zachary) and the struggles he faces growing up with an abusive alcoholic for a mother. To escape the misery of his day to day existence, the boy conjures up a host of imaginary friends to play with. But as he gets older and outgrows these childhood fantasies, one of these friends refuses to fade away. A familiar golden eyed entity… I think an argument can be made that this story is actually a sequel that surpasses the original tale. There is clear growth evident in BleedingHeartworks’ writing style and the story itself is more substantial.

rsz_puppeteer__character_sheet_by_bleedingheartworks-d6urhndOnce again, The Puppeteer is kept shrouded in mystery, which — when combined with the number of visually striking images of the character that BleedingHeartworks was producing — saw the character’s steadily growing hordes of fans clamouring for some more information. In response to this demand, BleedingHeartworks created character sheets, a document detailing the Puppeteer’s relationships, and, in October last year, a proper origin story. You can read it here: http://bleedingheartworks.deviantart.com/art/ORIGIN-STORY-The-Puppeteer-639586140

It’s always risky revealing an OCs origin, as it comes with a chance of souring the mystique surrounding the character. However, as origin stories go, The Puppeteer’s is a pretty good one. It is revealed that the character was born Jonathan Blake in 1974, a normal boy with a normal family. As he grew he became interested in the Arts, especially theatre, but these dreams were placed on hold as his parents often worked long hours and he was forced to watch his younger siblings. Finally, however, he was able to attend High School, where he joined the drama club. It was here that he met pretty budding ballet dancer Emra, with whom romance soon blossomed.

Emra was Jonathan’s rock during his frequent bouts of depression, while he lent her the moral support and strength to stand up to her overbearing parents. However, as graduation drew near, it was these same parents that would drive a wedge between the young lovers. They gave Emra an ultimatum: either she would break up with Jonathan or they would refuse to subsidise her dream to become a dancer. Forced to choose between her love and her dreams, Emra chose her dreams and ended the relationship. Needless to say, Jonathan did not take this well…

These sequels are more than just continuations of the Puppeteer’s story, they are genuine expansions, each adding characters who would go on to become a huge part of the Puppeteer’s lore. Both Zachary and Emra now serve their puppet-master in his plots to ensnare future victims. It’s a rich story that has been developing and evolving, plus it comes with dozens of high-quality and quite fantastic pieces of art, all of which can be found in BleedingHeartworks’ Puppeteer gallery over at DeviantArt here: http://bleedingheartworks.deviantart.com/gallery/46973406/T-H-E-P-U-P-P-E-T-E-E-R
It can come as no surprise that the fans have embraced the character and the story. This has created an established audience for artists and other creative types, who have produced a wealth of fanart (including some great readings by Creepypasta’s biggest name narrators, such MrCreepypasta: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ZUc03enccs)

It’s hard to ascertain what exactly makes the Puppeteer such a frightening character. Obviously the graphic descriptions of broken bones caused by his spiteful actions are the most attention grabbing, but it is MO of stalking and taking advantage of the lonely and the depressed that is his most frightening characteristic. Manipulative and cunning, the Puppeteer is a character that will take advantage and target an individual when they are their lowest ebb. As all people will experience a time when they feel outcast or alone, this is a truly scary proposition.

I was lucky enough to be able to speak with the mind that created this monster, BleedingHeartworks. Our interview follows below.

UK HORROR SCENE: Hi BleedingHeartworks, thanks for agreeing to speak with me. First, in your own words, tell us a little about The Puppeteer?

BLEEDINGHEARTWORKS: The Puppeteer as a character is a vengeful spirit with the intention to feed off the energy of human beings. In order to do that, he forces his victims through emotional turmoil, causing them to slowly slip into madness and eventually suicide. The Puppeteer is very manipulative, often presenting himself as a friend to others. He’s very self-absorbed and will only do things in order to gain things for himself. Despite that, he’s a very calm and peaceful ghost, but when provoked can end your life at an instant. He can produce golden-glowing strings in order to keep his victims at bay during the kill.
The Puppeteer does not always work on his own however, as he’s gained the help of two puppets of his, Emra (Created by Highwind-Valor) and Zachary. They work in a similar way as the proxies work for Slenderman.

UKHS: What served as your inspiration for the character?

BH: During the time of the creation of the character, I was heavy influenced by two indie-horror games; The Cat Lady and The Crooked Man. Both of these games spoke about suicide and depression, something that I wanted to translate a story about as well.

rsz_1rsz_cp_couple_canon__puppeteer_and_emra_by_aiuta31-d91vhu4UKHS: Which idea came to you first, the image or the story?

BH: For me, when creating characters the visuals usually comes first. I always have some kind of theme or a specific item or look I want to create a character around. With Puppeteer, I didn’t draw him until a few weeks into the progress. I kind of lingered around his purpose and characteristics for so long, the visuals managed to come alive of it’s own inside my head. The first drawing I did of him was together with Sally (Play With Me), since Kiki-Hyuga was helping me out with the story during the first weeks of the progress. After that drawing, I started up the story. And it just kinda escalated from there.

UKHS: Are you a fan of Creepypasta? If so, what is your favourite Creepypasta by a creator other than yourself?

BH: Absolutely! Even though I’ve been going in and out of the fandom for a few years, I’ve always come back somehow. It’s as if I’m unable to really let it go, and it’s even harder when so many people like what I do. My favorite creepy pasta creator is Emthesmall, another author who’s created Starvation of Angels, one of my favorite creepy pastas up to date. She’s also a very dear friend of mine and we can spend hours talking about horror and creepypasta, creating stories and characters together.

UKHS: Why do you think Creepypastas in general, and especially The Puppeteer, have been so popular with the fans. For the Creepypasta genre, I think a lot of comes with that a lot of readers can find themselves in the stories and relate to the characters. For The Puppeteer, I think (and hope) it’s about the same.

BH: I know there’s been a lot of followers saying that they can relate to both the main characters and the Puppeteer, which I think matters to a lot of people. For me, the fascination for the genre comes from knowing that all of the content comes from the ordinary people, the single person and creators as a whole. Nothing has gone through company-eyes and everything comes from the single heart of creation. It’s the mainly the only reason why I got so attached to Creepypasta in the first place. I love the people and the passion that comes through into creating.

UKHS: Which writers, horror or otherwise, do you consider yourself a fan of?

BH: I’ve always been a huge fan of Stephen King and Gaston Leroux. Despite not always coming back to specific writers, I usually always end up reading up on time period horror stories, sort of the victorian-era gothic stories.

UKHS: What work of your own are you most proud of?

BH: Besides Creepypasta and The Puppeteer, I have a few other things I work around and one of them being my own universe and world for my own Dungeon World campaign. Even though I haven’t let a lot of people in on this project, I’ve spent roughly two years in creating my own fantasy setting for role-play purposes. I’ve done everything from creating stories to characters, to nature to lore. Maybe one day, I’ll wrap it all up together and post more of what I have done during these two last years. Maybe.

UKHS: The fans are very passionate about the character. Are there any examples of fan art, such as images, films or readings, in particular that have impressed you?

BH: I’ve had a few fan fictions and pieces of art that has completely blown my mind. I’ve always said that The Puppeteer is what the fandom makes him, as many people adapts their own ideas and thoughts to his character and that’s what I feel makes him special. I love it when people come up with their own headcanons for him, as well as relationships and stories and I love it even more when they want to share it with the rest of my followers. I’ve always made sure to let people know when I appreciate their creations, especially since I know they will let me know that they appreciate mine.

One thing that I will always come back to and love so much, is the song ”Golden Strings” created by my friend, Youtube Madame Macabre which is a fan-song created for Puppeteer (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aLWcNPhHFBE). To have an actual original song dedicated to your character is the coolest things to happen to a creator, especially for me since I always let music have a big part of my inspiration.

UKHS: When I interviewed Kristantyl about Jason the Toy maker, she named the Puppeteer as her favourite Creepypasta. How does it feel to get that sort of recognition from fellow creators?

BH: That’s amazing! Just as every other artist out there, I worry a lot about what others think about my art and pieces. I think between creators, we can understand the pressure that comes along with having something of yours become popular among a fandom. And when you hear such words coming from someone else you equally admire, it’s one of the best feelings ever.

UKHS: Your artwork is incredible. Where did you learn to create such evocative images? How do you get inspiration for the creative process?

BH: Thank you! Art has always come natural for me and it’s always been there for me as a way to express myself when words isn’t enough. From an early age, I was always the kid who would rather stay inside and draw by myself than be out and socialize with others. My autism made it difficult for me to interpret what others said and harder for me to tell people what I actually meant. The simplicity of art is what kept me to it and always had. So art became a very personal, emotional thing for me. I endlessly pushed in personal things into my art, it didn’t really mattered if it was a ’mindless’ fantasy piece or something more of a personal nature. Things that will always inspire me ranges all over the place, from video games to series, to the simple nature to everyday things such as music. I can get inspiration from conversations, when I’m out with friends, alone. My mind just won’t stop bugging me about it.

rsz_the_puppeteer__new_character_sheet__by_bleedingheartworks-d8jdu61UKHS: Will you ever return to the story of The Puppeteer in the future? And what else can your fans look forward to from you in the days ahead?

BH: I probably will. I always find myself coming back to him and keep coming up with new stories to work out. The possibilities are endless. As of now, the projects I have in mind are a few other stories, one short-film, a comic and a music video for a friend that involves The Puppeteer and his two helpers.

UKHS: And finally, are there any sites or projects that you’d like me to send my readers to for more of your work?

BH: Nothing more than just my DA, really. http://bleedingheartworks.deviantart.com

As BleedingHeartworks explained, the tattered puppet follower Emra was actually created by fellow DeviantArtist Highwind-Valor. Now an established part of the Puppeteer’s story, the creepy marionette-like character is just as creepy and visually striking as her former lover.

I’m really happy to be able to say that I was also able to dig a little deeper into the character as Highwind-Valor was kind enough to speak with me. You can read our interview below.

UKHS: The most obvious first — in your own words, tell us a little about Emra and her role in the story of The Puppeteer?

HIGHWIND-VALOR: Emra is Puppeteer’s first true creation, she is his muse, his masterpiece. At first she plays the role of his proxy, going out to find new lonely victims to turn into puppets. When Puppeteer realizes how fragile she is (she not a very well made, she falls apart/scratches very easily), he leaves her in an abandoned theatre. The place that she now calls home. She stays there by herself for the most part, playing mother to Puppeteer’s proxy Zachary. That’s the short synopsis I can give without making this a long answer haha.

UKHS: What served as your inspiration for the character?

HV: The character herself was inspired by my love for the theatre. I feel that this is shown through her design, and through most of her story.
Some of the other aspects of her character was inspired by my ex-girlfriend and her terrible parents. I would use a word worse than terrible, but even that would be putting it mildly. They were so controlling, and that is what Emra never gets throughout most of her story, control. She doesn’t get control of her own life, and assumes that she can’t even make her own decisions. Any control she does try to take ends with some sort of hard consequence.

UKHS: Why did you choose to contribute to the story of The Puppeteer?

HV: When Bleedingheartworks and I started talking, it wasn’t too long after Puppeteer was created. She asked if I wanted to make a character to role play with her online, and here we are. I didn’t think I would get so invested into her character, I also never thought she would ever gain traction in popularity.
Emra was actually the first character I had made and fleshed out since early high school, and I made Emra in my junior year of college.

UKHS: Which idea came to you first, the image or the story?

HV: A mix of both. Bleedingheartworks and I talked about what could potentially happen if I made a character. We talked about what could happen if I made a male character, which I was originally going to do. Then we talked about the potential of a female character, and then it just sort of snowballed from there.

rsz_pupandemra2_by_ivydarkrose-d9c6shtUKHS: Are you a fan of Creepypasta? If so, what is your favourite Creepypasta by a creator other than yourself?

HV: It depends, there’s always a good side, and a bad side to every fandom, and Creepypasta is no different. Creepypasta has been known especially for the bad fandom, fortunately for me, most of my experiences within the community have been good. My good experience stems from being interested in horror, mainly Eighties horror, followed by the classics such as Frankenstein or the Werewolf. There wasn’t a huge following for that when I first started roaming the internet way back when; maybe I wasn’t looking in the right place? Who knows.

Creepypasta served as a gateway for me to make friends whose interests were not limited to creepypasta, but the horror genre as a whole. That’s why I am a fan, because I could make friends who I could geek out about horror with, and in turn we could make our own horror stories to share. There are a lot of creations that I love within the community, but you have to sift through a lot to find those well thought out/put together creations. Just like you have to sift through a lot of people before you will find your true friends.

My favorite creepypasta right now is one that actually hasn’t been published anywhere, yet. My best friend, Max, whom I met in high school, decided to try their hand at making a creepypasta. After seeing how much fun BleedingHeartworks and I were having creating the story that surrounds Puppeteer and Emra, Max told me about their new character named John, during a car ride over to Seattle.

I was enthralled the whole ride, asking questions to learn about the story behind this twisted character, who I hope will be introduced into the community soon.
The thing about John is he legitimately scares me. He is a very religious man, but he is one of those that takes it too far. There are people in this world so crazed by the power of religion that it makes his story legitimately scary, to me at least, to see how far a man would go in the name of god. Either way, as far as I know he is still a work in progress. Max has been working on him and his story for a good two years now. BleedingHeartworks and I are constantly trying to encourage her to keep working and post it for people to see and enjoy.

The other piece of content I am still a fan of is Marble Hornets. I remember how scared I was when I first started watching it. I believe they were around tape 30 or 40 when I came crossed it, and I binged it. At first it was the fear that excited me with it, then what it ultimately boiled down to was the story. The story of a couple friends just trying to make a movie, and everything going wrong in a way that would ruin their mental state forever. I was such a big fan of it that I actually helped Madame Macabre (https://www.youtube.com/user/xMadameMacabrex) make full music video for her fan made song for Marble Hornets titled To The Ark, producing all of the visuals to try and emulate the series the best I could.

UKHS: Why do you think Creepypastas in general, and especially The Puppeteer, have been so popular with the fans?

HV: I honestly think it originated with the mystery. In terms of Puppeteer, not a lot more than his story/design was put out there when he was first released. After a year or so, Bleedingheartworks released his origin story. It was a gradual thing which is good, because: 1] It keeps the fans interested in the mystery, and 2] It gives the creator time to sort out details. To this day Bleedingheartworks and I continue to develop our characters together. Figuring out various plot lines that may or may not have happened.

UKHS: Which writers, horror or otherwise, do you consider yourself a fan of?

HV: I’ve been a fan of Wes Craven, and Stephen King ever since I first got into horror. Freddy Vs. Jason is the first horror movie I watched without being completely terrified of it, and that got me into watching the ANOES/Friday the 13th movies. Which, in turn, got me into looking up more and more.

UKHS: What work of your own are you most proud of?

HV: That’s actually a pretty hard question. I pretty proud of Emra, both story and design I have put a lot of effort into over the years. I just need to make more content for her now haha. It’s hard looking at your own work

UKHS: The fans are very passionate about the character. Are there any examples of fan art, such as images, films or readings, in particular that have impressed you?

HV: I have received a couple of pieces of fan art, and it gets me excited when people get excited about Emra. From traditional to digital illustrations, an MMD model, I even received a beautiful doll that a friend made of her. (The Emra doll actually stays on my desk which is pretty neat!)
Really, the talent is endless and I am so glad that people share their art with me! It truly means a lot.

UKHS: When I interviewed BleedingHeartworks about The Puppeteer, she spoke very highly of you and your work with Emra. How does it feel to get that sort of recognition from fellow creators?

HV: It feels odd, for a lack of a better word. I’ve never gotten so much attention for something I’ve created, I’m so used to just being in my own corner creating things that people don’t really look at haha.

UKHS: What else can your fans look forward to from you in the days ahead?

HV:In terms of Emra, I am slowly but surely working out a concept for a video explaining her origins. Outside of that, I have delved into the art of making movie reviews. In each review I portray of a character of mine, Leviana, who commentates on the movies. And these movies tend to be bad b-level movies, so it makes for some pretty entertaining content.

UKHS: And finally, are there any sites or projects that you’d like me to send my readers to for more of your work?

HV: Honestly, I always have work going on. Whether it’s my own projects, or a project I’ve been asked to be apart of. Granted, it takes me forever to get content posted but you can always keep an eye out on my pages.

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/UmbrellaBoatStudioTV
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Highwind_Valor
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/UmbrellaBoatStudio/

In the story of The Puppeteer and Emra we see a positive example of the collaborative nature of Creepypasta. It is a project by two talented and imaginative artists who were able to further inspire each other to greater things. It is this type of relationship that makes Creepypasta such a unique and exciting form of horror storytelling, one that is fluid, ever-shifting and evolving not just with the creators, but also with the audience.

As an aside, I find it fascinating that BleedingHeartworks mentions with the creator of another Creepypasta icon, ‘Play With Me’s’ Sally, while The Puppeteer was first forming. I’ve a feeling we’ll be reading more about that story very, very soon…

I Have The Sight by Rick Wood – Book Review

Dead girl. Halloween theme.

Dead girl. Halloween theme.

I Have The Sight by Rick Wood – Book Review by Ben Walker

For many, the most chilling thing about a possession story is lack of control, whether it’s a malevolent demon taking over someone you love, or the idea that your own mind may be pushed out by forces unknown.

An important thing in a possession story then, is to touch on this theme of control. Not to harp on about it, but The Exorcist does this masterfully, as Chris’ life rapidly goes from happy to hellish, Regan becomes a vessel of hatred and chaos, and both Karras and Merrin realise their faith is no protection from fate.

In I Have The Sight, Rick Wood plays off this core concept of control, with titular sight-haver Edward (Eddie) King showing his confident demonologist side before walking us down the road he trod to get there. And as it turns out, it’s a long hard road out of…you know where.

I’ve realised recently that The Exorcist may have spoiled me in terms of expectations for this kind of story. Judging …Sight on its own merits, it’s a perfectly serviceable story. But compared to the grandparent of all exorcism tales, this is a less weighty take on the genre.

Reason being, the opening chapter sets up a demonic showdown, then weaves back & forth between past & present to reveal that Eddie is really the one in need of of help. So there’s your lack of control. Even though Eddie seems helpless for the majority of the story, he’s still introduced as a hero type. So when the demonic threat emerges, it never comes off as threatening as it could’ve, because by page thirteen, it’s already clear that Eddie has control. Taking us back through a shaky past doesn’t change that, so the tension never really builds enough to make you worry for him.

Along the way, there are some knockabout exorcism/demon battle scenes, which end up favouring physicality (hands beating back demonic flames, slashing claws, force powers etc) over mental games, which didn’t really do it for me. I can appreciate the visuals, but they felt like acrobatic fight scenes from a movie (which would make sense given the author’s background in screenwriting), rather than complelling narrative nightmares.

Taken as a standalone story, …Sight works fine as a one-off read. However, it’s the start of a series, and I’m not convinced that I want to follow Eddie’s journey any further. Most questions about his past are answered throughout, so there’s no itch in my brain for more, even with the final question the story lazily throws out. Check it out if you’d like a novel spin on the standard girl in peril exorcism trope, just don’t expect pea soup and terror.

Score: 5/10

Book links:

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01MFDCMYT/
Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MFDCMYT/

And you can follow Rick Wood on twitter @rickwoodwriter