Andy Deen’s Top 10 Horror Films of 2014

Andy Deen’s Top 10 Horror Films of 2014

Well it is that time of the year when I look back over 2014 and give a few thoughts on what I consider to be the best films that came out in 2014. Now when I say came out I mean either were shown in the cinema or had a DVD, BluRay or VOD release in 2014. There are no re-releases or re-issues , but that said 2014 has been full of wonderful releases thanks to people such as Arrow Video, 88 Films, Masters of Cinema, BFI and many more.

WerewolfRising10) Werewolf Rising (BC Furtney) Now the first of three Werewolf films in my Top 10 , Werewolf Rising has been widely slated across horror circles (with the exception of James Simpson). It currently has a rating of 2.5 on IMDB. But I found so much to love in BC Furtney’s feature. Melissa Carnell is a great lead and Bill Oberst Jr is at his best. A film I went into with no expectations that really made me sit up and take notice. Well worth a watch and don’t believe the haters.

9) Wolfcop (Lowell Dean) Wolfcop has featured on UKHS a few times through 2014. From it’s really well run Kickstarter to it’s superb artwork and posters. So when I caught it in October I was expecting a lot , and Wolfcop delivered! Making a horror comedy is difficult, there are just so many ways to slip up but Wolfcop pulled it off with aplomb . From the name of the lead Lou Garou ( a play on loup-garou which is French for Werewolf) to the amazing transformation scenes and hilarious love scene, Wolfcop hits the spot and brings a fresh , face-ripping horror with wonderfully well structured comedy moments and a lovely 1970s vibe. I cannot wait for Wolfcop 2 !!

Late_Phases_poster.18) Late Phases (Adrian Garcia Bogliano) Well the final werewolf film in the Top 10. Late Phases is the story of a blind American war veteran who moves into a retirement village where people are dying from mysterious monthly animal attacks. Lead actor Nick Damici is superb as the bitter, cantankerous and sarcastic Ambrose who just holds everything together throughout and gives one of THE performances of the year. The Werewolves are well done and also Ambrose’s lack of vision really adds to the tension which kicks in with a super brutal attack on his first night. Keep a look out for director Adrian Bogliano !

7) Big Bad Wolves (Aharon Keshales & Navot Papushado) Released on DVD in 2014 Big Bad Wolves (but I may add NOT a Werewolf film) is more thriller than pure horror although some of the areas the film enters are truly horrific. It is difficult to discuss BBW without giving away huge spoilers, so I tread carefully. A brutal child killer is terrorising Israel and maverick cop Miki is convinced of the killers identity. A harsh, violent and at times brutal film BBW is just edge of seat stuff that had me completely gripped and left me almost breathless. A dark tale that at times is infused with some wicked humour , BBW is a must see although I will add I did find it a little predictable and easy to read!

raze16) Raze (Josh C Waller) Well out of all my Top 10 Raze is probably the one that came from nowhere. It dropped on my mat with no fanfare and I had to be honest not even registered it was being released. Raze is the story of Sabrina (Zoe Bell – Kill Bill) who wakes in a compound with 50 other women and they must fight to the death until just one remains. If they refuse to fight they are told their loved ones will be killed. The compound is run by the incomparable Doug Jones & Sherilyn Fenn. Raze is at times utterly brutal and the 19 fight sequences are fantastic. Zoe Bell makes the film her own with a performance that brought brutality yet compassion . A bloody violent film that blew me away. Proper low budget exploitation filmmaking at it’s best. No frills, no weapons , it is just survival of the strongest & most brutal.

5) The Babadook (Jennifer Kent) . I was lucky to get to an early screening of The Babadook before all the media attention had really kicked in, and I went in almost knowing nothing of the storyline. And what an absolute joy it was (especially on the big screen). The story of a single mother coming to terms with her husbands death (on the way to take her to hospital to give birth) and struggling with her son who has severe behavioural problems, but she also has the added problem that after reading what looked like a child’s book there may be a monster lurking in her house. The Babadook is a tremendous debut for Jennifer Kent and the acting from the two mains Essie Davis and the phenomenal Noah Wiseman is at times jaw-dropping. A pure horror film that has so many layers. Brilliant.

4) You’re Next (Adam Wingard) Although released in 2011, You’re Next didn’t get a UK DVD release until January 2014 which is why it is on my list as I didn’t see it until then. There probably isn’t much left to say about Adam Wingard’s home invasion belter, but if you have not seen it then you have missed out on a dark, violent, funny and very clever film. Sharni Vinson is superb as Erin and this is the film when Adam Wingard stood up and shouted “LOOK AT ME” and everyone in the horror community (and from much further afield) were stopped dead in their tracks by a piece of genre cinema that could in 30 years time be looked back on like TCM is now . You’re Next could well be the defining film for a generation of horror fans.

Housebound3) Housebound (Gerard Johnstone) Now Housebound may well be unfamiliar to many people as it has not had a UK release. I saw it at the Grimmfest festival in Manchester and some of the Grimmfest crew had already mentioned that this was a winner. Hailing from New Zealand , Housebound is the directorial debut for Gerard Johnstone . The story of Kylie Bucknell (played by the stunning Morgana O’Reilly who is better known from Aussie soap Neighbours) who is caught by police after a bungled cash machine robbery. She is sentenced to house arrest and has to move back into her childhood home , which she must share with her mother who she cannot stand. Her mother is a well meaning gossip who is convinced the house is haunted. And after a series of late night bumps and whispers Kylie slowly starts to believe that her mother may well be onto something. Housebound is just wonderful, it is a hilarious well crafted piece of cinema that has a story, script and actors to put it on the top of most horror films around. It takes the conventional haunted house tropes and turns them 180 degrees and adds a huge dose of comedy that just had me in stitches throughout. The pace of Housebound is spot on and from the first minute to the very last I was totally glued to the screen. An absolute triumph that should be picked up very soon and NEEDS to be seen by as many people as possible.

BATTERY 0012) The Battery (Jeremy Gardner) I picked up The Battery after reading a review on UKHS from our writer Dave Wain (HERE). It was another film that received very little fanfare for it’s UK DVD release. All I can say is that The Battery is one of the greatest zombie films ever made. Just when I thought I had seen everything in the zombie genre then this beautiful little film came along and completely turned me inside out. The Battery is the story of two former baseball players as they travel through New England which is littered with the undead. A gorgeous zombie buddy movie that had me screaming with laughter , jumping with fright, almost crying and just sitting utterly mesmerized by the skill of director/actor/writer Jeremy Gardner who packs so fucking much into 100 minutes . The Battery could have failed so easily due to the fact it is predominately just 2 characters , relatively slow paced and it is up to the viewer to empathise with them. But The Battery is just pure gold and is so very highly recommended and for multiple viewings.

What_We_Do_in_the_Shadows_poster1) What We Do In The Shadows (Jermaine Clement & Taika Waititi) Now through 2014 I kept a very close eye on WWDITS. I read the synopsis, saw the promo pictures and, as I love Flight of The Conchords , I was very excited. WWDITS is a documentary about four vampires who share a flat in Wellington , New Zealand . We follow Viago (Taika Waititi), Vladislav (Jermaine Clement), Deacon (Jonathan Brugh) and Petyr (Ben Fransham) through their day to day trials and turmoil that comes with being immortal blood suckers. From the moment we see Viago rise from his coffin to wake his flatmates we are drawn into the hilarious world of the vampires. The reason it works so well is that we see the vampires doing all the day to day boring things that us mere mortals do. So they argue about who does the housework, how to keep newspapers and towels ready for when they feed (so the blood won’t stain the furniture) and much more. There are hilarious scenes when they go for a night on the town but can’t enter the nightclubs as they need to be invited in, and the werewolves of Wellington are just brilliant. I could talk all night about just how perfect WWDITS is. Clement and Waititi have taken a genre that is so revered and they have just made an absolutely spot-on comedy that never once takes the piss but lovingly sees the comedy in a vampire faced with the monotony of everyday life. And I haven’t even mentioned Nick, Stuart or THE BEAST!!

If there is a funnier horror comedy then I haven’t seen it! You MUST SEE What We Do In The Shadows (if you can on the big screen) and just enjoy one of the best films from this millennia.

So for me 2014 eventually ended up as a good year for horror. The first six months were pretty poor but a few stormers in October pulled it out of the mud. Definitely a year for more independent horror and there was a lot more horror blogs, sites and podcasts new to the arena. As for 2015 well let’s see, but there are a few very good films (hopefully) on the horizon and there are still many films from this year I have yet to see.

Finally as editor of UKHS I would like to thanks all our readers, our Twitter followers and Facebook likers. A huge thanks to all the writers who have contributed throughout 2014. And after a few problems of late due to domain problems and database issues, I am happy to announce it is all sorted and UKHS will be running as normal with lots more news, reviews and interviews . Have a very happy and horroriffic 2015 , and thanks again for reading and everyone’s continued support.

Andy Deen

Werewolf Rising Special Part 1: The Melissa Carnell Interview

melissaOnSetWerewolf Rising Special Part 1: The Melissa Carnell Interview.

Earlier this week UK Horror Scene’s own James Simpson reviewed upcoming Image Entertainment DVD release Werewolf Rising. The tale of a young woman overcoming alcoholism while trying to fight off a werewolf made for an intriuging film. It was very entertaining and is certainly a DVD to seek out when on sale on Sept 8th. The movie stars Melissa Carnell, a young actress with a bright future ahead of her. James Simpson is proud to conduct her first ever interview, exclusively for UK Horror Scene….

UKHS: How did you get involved with Werewolf Rising?

Melissa: I auditioned for a role in Mischief Night which was also produced by Jesse Baget. I didn’t hook it, but Jesse liked my audition and suggested me to BC Furtney, the director and writer of WWR (Werewolf Rising) for the role of Emma.

MelissaOnSet2UKHS: Emma goes through a lot of internal anguish with her battle against alcohol: was that tough for you to convey on screen?

Melissa: I was experiencing nonstop internal anguish as to whether or not I was doing Emma’s internal anguish justice…so not really (laughs). I’ve been to some dark places myself, emotionally, so it felt cathartic to express that through Emma.

UKHS: The struggles with Wayne, Johnny Lee and finally the werewolf seem to be physical manifestations of Emma’s inner turmoil, was that the intention?

Melissa: I don’t recall explicitly discussing that with BC, but I certainly interpreted it that way when I read the script. I could see an alternate ending in which Emma wakes up in a detox program and the entire film has been a journey through her mind–although I like our ending better.

MelissaOnSet3UKHS: What was your favourite scene to shoot?

Melissa: My scene with Bill Oberst Jr. He is an exceptional talent and human being. It’s always a joy to work with him: I walk away feeling encouraged and inspired. I think that’s how most people feel after interacting with Bill. I can’t say enough good things about him.

UKHS: What next for Melissa Carnell’s career?

Melissa: Lucky for me, it’s another Bill Oberst Jr project! Bill plays my father in the film Lost in a Sense. It’s a story of two Amish teens on rumspringa in the summer of 1967, expected release date is February 2015.

melissaPhotoUKHS: Finally, anything you would like to say to our readers who are tempted to buy Werewolf Rising when it hits DVD here on Sept 8th?

Melissa: Please watch it…I need the rent money! (laughs) .But in all seriousness, everyone who worked on this project has a lot of love for the horror genre and I think that comes through. We are excited to contribute a little something to this wonderful community, I hope you love it.

Thanks go to Melissa, UKHS is thrilled that her first interview was on this very site.

Look out for our Werewolf Rising Special part 2, an interview with director/writer/producer of the movie – BC Furtney.

Werewolf Rising (2014) DVD Review

WerewolfRisingWerewolf Rising (DVD Review, 2014)

Director – BC Furtney

Starring – Melissa Carnell, Bill Oberst Jr, Matt Copko, Brian Berry

Run Time – 75 minutes

Release Date – Monday 8th September 2014

Label – Image Entertainment

Emma (Carnell) is a twenty-something from the city that returns to her childhood home that she hasn’t been to in 15 years. It is a secluded house in Arkansas that is ideal for the reason she is there: to kick her alcohol addiction. She want’s to get dry and clear her mind. She encounters her neighbours Wayne (Berry), who she remembers from being a child, and the sexy but dangerous Johnny Lee (Copko). Both seem a little weird and are very interested in the attractive Emma.

werewolfBillJrSomething else has an interest in Emma, out in the woods that surround her home. She keeps hearing howling late at night and is informed by Johnny Lee of wolves in the area. Yet the howling seems to be coming from an animal much bigger and more powerful than a ‘normal’ wolf. Emma starts having horrible dreams involving the woods and a blood soaked man (Oberst Jr) that is an escaped convict – but what role does he play in the nightly howls?

A modern werewolf picture that isn’t too melodramatic and obsessed with pandering to yearning teen girls, Werewolf Rising is a brilliant piece of direct-to-video storytelling and high quality acting.

werewolfCarnellThe cast is limited to a small number of actors that thankfully can handle the large chunks of screen time their characters receive as a result. Carnell as the detoxing Emma plays a warm and friendly woman struggling with a problem that is bigger than her. Berry slowly morphs from caring family friend to lusty pervert in very creepy scenes. Copko portrays a cheery neighbour who it is evident has a dark side that threatens to erupt at any moment. The most disturbing performance is from Oberst Jr, although he is missing from the bulk of the film, as he is extremely intense in every scene he does appear in. It’s rare that a low-budget straight-to-DVD horror has this high a calibre of acting, all the performances are very rewarding as a result.

The plot is about a werewolf but there seems to be a more compelling and emotional story at work too. Emma and her battle against alcohol, plus Wayne admitting to similar issues, is interesting as she battles inner demons as well as external ones in the woods. The fear of succumbing to booze is as scary to her as the danger of being attacked by the werewolf. She also has to battle with the unwanted advances of Wayne as his sexual longing becomes menacing. The movie will create a feeling of uneasiness during the moments of Wayne’s creepy lusting.

werewolfWolfThere are a few minor issues. Some continuity errors like wounds changing positions on people can be over looked but there is one that is a little to big to overlook. Near the end of the movie Emma gives in to her yearning for alcohol when she discovers a bottle of vodka. She gobbles it all down and passes out. The issue with this is that she wakes up minutes later and is completely sober. Also, the werewolf is not that scary when fully shown. It’s painfully clear it is an actor running around in a head-to-toe costume holding his hands in front of him as if he were Orlok in Nosferatu.

Ultimately it’s a gripping and creepy tale of combating internal and external horrors with plenty to think about to supplement the scares.

8 out of 10.

Amazon order page: CLICK HERE