Stu Smith’s FILMS OF 2014

Stu Smith’s FILMS OF 2014

2014 has been a bit of a mixed year for horror. Slow to start and producing some absolute howlers along the way, the genre has taken a bit of a battering both critically and at the box office this year. However, as the year went on some genuine gems started to emerge from all corners of the globe proving once more that the genre is alive and kicking.

As is so often the case, life can get in the way of it all sometimes and as such there are still plenty of films such as the highly regarded ‘The Babadook’ that I have yet to see, but for now this is my list of films that I feel were more than worth the time in 2014.

tusk (1)TUSK
Dir: Kevin Smith
A late entry to the list, Tusk proved to be a thought provoking and memorable film from Kevin Smith. Whilst it isn’t entirely successful in its attempts to gel the serious horror aspects to more recognisable comedy beats it is a very unique film that pushes its unusual concept to its limit. The story of an internet blogger (Justin Long) who becomes the unwitting victim of a crazed old man (Michael Parks) determined to turn him into a Walrus it’s a divisive oddity and, Like Smith’s previous foray into horror, Red State (2011) it has been greeted with some scepticism and trepidation with not everyone convinced. There are also those who will say that Smith may be biting the hand that feeds with his extremely acidic critiquing of the internet age and the blogging community in particular. However, despite the sub plots not quite meshing, a sterling performance from Parks and a bold one from Long add credibility to the films bizarre central idea and the film is never less than compelling. Johnny Depp even manages to show up in an extended cameo as a crazy Canadian cop. It may not be Kevin Smith’s masterpiece, but it suggests that he is on the verge of creating something truly crazy and special.

Dir: Greg McLean
This belated follow up to 2005’s unnerving and rather brilliant Wolf Creek proved to be just as good as its predecessor, even if it trod a tonally different path. Placing John Jarett’s sneering Mick Taylor at the centre of proceedings from the very start, Wolf Creek 2 jettisons the originals slow burning sense of dread in favour of some dirty, adrenalin infused thrills. Where- as Wolf Creek was a sun burned outback Texas Chainsaw, number 2 takes its cue from The Hitcher and plays a bit like a serial killer’s vision of Mad Max. The first half is more action film than horror featuring big car chases and daring escape attempts as Mick stalks his prey on the open road. Once the film arrives at Taylor’s lair however, things become darker and far more sinister as the true extent of his depravity begins to unfold. Fun and utterly fucked up this deserved far more than a quiet small screen release. Warning: Kangaroo lovers may want to avoid this one as it doesn’t end well for Skippy!

Dir: Elliot Goldner
Found footage doesn’t have the greatest of reputations. Thanks largely to the fact that ever since The Blair Witch Project proved you could turn an easy profit with minimal outlay every hack trying to push their foot in the door has used it as a cheap gimmick. However, when it’s done right it can be a truly unnerving and affecting experience, and The Borderlands nails it. The story of a Vatican investigation into a potential miracle at a small British church it is a slow burning tale of religious uncertainty mixed with devilish overtones. The Borderlands is a creepy experience that favours character depth and genuine dread over cheap scares. Its unnerving atmosphere and violent undercurrents build to a genuinely surprising conclusion that will divide opinion, but this is top drawer stuff and shows that you can make this format a success if you understand what drama and horror is all about.

Dir: Corrie Greenop
This low budget, Scotland set chiller was a real surprise. A carefully, and lovingly made little film it follows the crumbling relationship of a young couple as they visit the Highlands to patch up their relationship. Surreal, unnerving and beautiful it captures the strangely evocative and supernatural atmosphere that Scotland seems to possess, and makes its wide open spaces feel strangely claustrophobic as the characters begin to put together the distressing truth. Brilliant performances and a well -constructed economic script make this far more than the sum of its parts. It is sometimes a little reliant on its scenery to pad out the running time, and it won’t appeal to those looking for quick, visceral thrills but this is a promising debut from Greenop and suggests that he may be a talent to watch.

Dir: Gerard Johnstone
Housebound is the first of two films from New Zealand on this list and proves that Peter Jackson isn’t the only one with a good eye for mixing up horror and comedy. A witty mix of family comedy and horror hi-jinks it turns the haunted house movie on its head and has a lot of fun with its story managing to be unpredictable, suspenseful and laugh out loud funny at times. It follows Kylie, a teen delinquent who is placed under house arrest with her mother and stepfather. Unamused at being forced back to the family home she soon comes to question her sanity as things begin to go bump in the night. The films wonderfully sarcastic sense of humour along with some brilliant twists and turns make this a fantastic fun- house of a movie. It plays with convention and delights in pulling the rug from under the audience just as you think you have it all worked out.

Dir: James Demonaco
The first Purge movie met with mixed opinion but made a lot of money meaning that this sequel was inevitable. I for one thought the original was okay. No masterpiece certainly, and it rather criminally failed to capitalise on its unique concept, but it worked reasonably well as a home invasion thriller and had some genuinely creepy villains. The Purge: Anarchy moves the action outside and follows a group of people stranded outdoors during the annual purge. Delving deeper into the social implications and the adding a neat sub plot about an anti-purge movement this is more action packed, more interesting and much more fun than the first Purge. Taking its inspiration from Walter Hill’s The Warriors (1979) and John Carpenter’s Escape From New York (1980) this is a solid B-movie action flick with just enough to say to raise it above the average. It still isn’t quite the ultimate Purge film people seem to be waiting for, but is an exciting and brutal popcorn thriller that I am more than happy to recommend.

Dir: Gareth Edwards
Gareth Edwards Godzilla met with a lot of disappointment on its release, and there is no escaping that Godzilla is a supporting player in his own movie. But whilst its plotting was sometimes weak, and its ‘human’ stories lacking the film possessed a poetic visual edge and some fantastic set pieces that set it miles apart from most blockbusters. He may not have the screen time we were all hoping for, but whenever this Godzilla is on screen its presence is electric. Like Edwards firs movie, the brilliant Monsters (2010), this one deals with humanities xenophobic nature and its dangerous reliance on things it cannot control. The film doesn’t always successfully balance this with the pressures of playing to a multiplex audience, and is hindered by rather flat human characterisation. But Godzilla and the gigantic MUTO’s make for strangely graceful creatures and whenever they are on screen the film rises up and stands monstrously proud, and Edwards has still created a unique summer movie with a visual verve missing from so many.

Dir: Adam Brooks and Matthew Kennedy
This homage to classic Giallo thrillers of the 1970’s and 1980’s took me by surprise. The opening film at Sheffield’s Celluloid Screams festival it turned out to be a deranged, riotous yet lovingly crafted film that captured the essence of its influences whilst gleefully sending them all up. The story of Rey (Adam Brooks) a film Editor put in the frame for murder it plays havoc with its own conventions and pokes fun at its own absurdities with a demented relish. Using deliberate technical tricks like bad dubbing, it is likely to confuse those uninitiated in the ways of the giallo’ but for those who know and love the films of Bava, Argento, and Fulci this is full of smart references and homages. It may work for everyone but The Editor is wholly unafraid to go to some very crazy places and is a match for almost any horror comedy released in the last few years.

Dir: Adam Wingard
Following up You’re Next was never going to be easy, but Wingard and his writer Simon Barrett meet the challenge head on here. The Guest is a tension packed horror/action hybrid that is more than a match for their previous film and stands as one of the very best of the year. When Dan Steven’s Afghanistan veteran turns up at the Peterson home claiming to be a friend of their deceased son, he is welcomed in and seems to be an antidote to the family’s grief. But people soon begin to turn up dead and the sinister guest begins to reveal himself as something far more than meets the eye. Tense, funny and at times ruthlessly violent The Guest is a throwback to paranoid post war thrillers and has a strange 80’s style edge, but mixes it up with a modern sensibility and a visceral eye. Like You’re Next did before it, it takes conventions and turns them around making the film fun and unpredictable. It also proves that Adam Wingard is as deft at delivering high octane action as he is at delivering scares and chills.

Dir: Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi
When I first read the synopsis for this I nearly skipped it. Another vampire film, and a faux documentary to boot, I just wasn’t interested. Never have I been so wrong, and so glad that I took a chance on a film as I am with this absolutely wonderful piece of incisive horror comedy. From the very first few minutes this is a likeable, smart and side-splittingly funny film about what it is like to be a vampire in the modern world. The second film from New Zealand on the list it proves again that the Kiwis seem to have an incredible wit and humour that isn’t confined to the work of Peter Jackson. Following a group of flat sharing Vampires as they deal with the difficulties and dilemmas of being hundreds of years old in an ever changing world, it captures the fish out of water weirdness of the situation whilst making it all seem strangely normal. Filled with lots of smart observations about Vampire mythology and its place in popular culture, What We Do In The Shadows is an absolute treat for genre fans and I have absolutely no hesitation in declaring it my favourite film of 2014. Its limited theatrical release in the UK means that many people have yet to enjoy this brilliant little flick, but I guarantee that once it lands on disc and VOD it will gather momentum and quickly develop the cult following it deserves.

The year produced a handful of other films worth a look, and a couple of reissues that stood out for various reasons. The Mirror proved to be another successful found footage film managing to be both frightening and compelling; it missed out on the final list by the smallest of margins. Spanish Exorcism chiller was not quite The Exorcist (what is?) but had enough going for it to warrant a mention. Well- paced and well -acted it was a classy little film with a neat sting in its tale, revelling in its demonic themes and undercurrents. Claire (originally titled Kuru) is a very effective micro budget Brit-chiller that drew favourable comparisons with the work of David Lynch. Both creepily unnerving and emotionally affecting it was also a strong contender for the main list. Away from horror the blockbuster season threw up the unexpectedly good Guardians of The Galaxy and the intelligent yet exciting sequel Dawn of The Planet of The Apes. Along with Godzilla these both proved that blockbusters don’t have to be stupid to be entertaining and effective.

Clive Barker also had a good year as his Nightbreed: The Director’s Cut finally made it onto Blu-ray, and his underrated and under seen Lord of Illusions also took its high definition bow. The director’s cut of Nightbreed has been almost 25 years in the making and didn’t come without a little controversy. European fans were irked that the release was region A locked, but frankly people should be grateful that this has seen the light of day at all. America’s Scream factory have done a sterling job and the film looks great. As for the cut itself it differs from the Cabal Cut that did the festival run and is Barker’s definitive vision for the film. Adding depth to the central relationships, and returning to the original notion that Midian’s monsters are the heroes it is the film fans have been waiting so long to see. After a poor UK Blu-ray release from 101 films earlier in the year Barker’s final directorial effort was given a proper release once again from Scream Factory. Another brilliant release it offers a chance to rediscover a film that deserves more credit than it has received. Capturing the dark whimsical feeling of Barker’s books and stories and featuring his recurring character Harry D’Amour it is an underrated and intelligent work from one of dark fiction’s most unique voices.

2014 produced a few howlers that failed for various reasons to make the grade. Scott Derrickson’s Deliver Us From Evil was an absolute bore that failed to capitalise on a brilliant central idea. Dull and plodding, it goes nowhere slowly. Johnny Depp popped up in Wally Pfister’s directorial debut Transcendence, a visually slick but painfully uninteresting film that basically replayed the plot of Brett Leonard’s Lawnmower Man with added pretension. The ABC’s of Death 2 should hopefully be the nail in the coffin for these odd and uneven short film showcases. With very little of interest in its 2 hour run time this is one for die-hard fans of the first film only. I Frankenstein was until very recently the worst of the year. A big budget and confused waste of time, it doesn’t even muster the camp entertainment value of the equally maligned Van Helsing. It takes itself unforgivably seriously and manages to feel incredibly long despite a relatively lean 90 minute run time. But as much as I disliked I Frankenstein it was pipped at the post by Hammer films utterly depressing The Quiet Ones. With The Woman In Black (2012) the new Hammer seemed to have finally rediscovered its stride and was on track for a return to former glories. However, with The Quiet Ones a dramatic step backwards is taken. Mixing found footage with standard third person story telling the film is uneven, unexciting, and at times downright frustrating. It is not often that films annoy me as much as this one did, but it genuinely felt like time I would never get back. So here’s hoping that The Woman In Black 2 gets the studio back on the right track as we enter 2015.

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

Grimmfest Review – Saturday 4th October 2014

GRIMMFEST-2014-FB-HEADERGrimmfest Review – Saturday 4th October 2014

After Goblin the night before I was still buzzing and Saturday was always going to be a big day. With a short film showcase starting us off early and then 6 features after , it was going to be a long one. So starting 30 minutes late didn’t help but screening shorts can always be problematic at the best of times, and at least the Grimmfest guys were screening each short in the correct ratio .

I won’t go into too much details for the shorts but please try and check them out as many of today’s up and coming talents start in short films.

The Dancehouse, Oxford Road , Manchester

The Visitant 2014 USA 7 Minutes – Director Nick Peterson 7/10
Split 2014 UK 18 Minutes – Director Andy Stewart 9/10
Vomica 2014 UK 15 Minutes – Director Andy Green 7.5/10
Don’t Play With The Food 2014 Spain 9 Minutes – Director Daniel Munoz Caniero 6/10
The Stomach 2014 UK 15 Minutes – Ben Steiner 7.5/10
All I Know Is Nothing 2014 UK 3 Minutes – Director Matthew Barker 4/10
Autumn Harvest 2014 Norway 17 Minutes – Director Fredrik Hana 9/10

theforgotten-clemThe Forgotten (2014) UK 90 Mins Dir – Oliver Frampton. Starring – Shaun Dingwall, Clem Tibber, Elarica Gallacher, Lyndsay Marshal.

Teenager Tommy (Tibber ) is sent to live with his father (Dingwall) after his mother has a nervous breakdown. His father squats in an empty flat is a derelict London estate and makes ends meet by ripping scrap metal from the boarded up flats. After Tommy settles in he starts to hear noises coming from the flat next door, and after becoming friends with the fiesty Carmen the pair decide to investigate further.

A great British ghost story for 2014. Clem Tibber is wonderful as Tommy, a young loner with dysfunctional parents and a love of drawing. Dingwall is an father, who really only puts up with Tommy because he must and he has many problems of his own. And finally Elarica Gallacher really impresses as Carmen who appears hard on the outside but has a real soft centre.

With the pacing of an MR James story and reminiscent of Ken Loach’s The Haunting , The Forgotten puts a modern twist on the ghost story and uses it’s locations and amazing cast to superb use. I won’t mention much more as I don’t want to spoil anything, but just to say if you enjoy slow burning ghost stories then this will be for you. 7.5/10

On a final note I interviewed director Oliver Frampton and stars Clem Tibber and Elarica Gallacher. The interview hopefully will be up soon and will post a link here as soon as it does.

HouseboundHousebound (2014) NZ 109 Mins Dir – Gerard Johnstone. Starring – Morgana O’Reilly, Rima Te Wiata, Glen-Paul Waru, Cameron Rhodes, Millen Baird.

Now for a complete change of pace with Gerard Johnstone’s Housebound.
Kylie Bucknell is caught trying to steal money from a cash machine and is placed under house arrest. Unfortunately she is placed in the custody of her mother who Kylie can’t stand. Her mother is a constant blabbermouth and is also convinced that her house is haunted. Kylie dismisses her mother’s rants yet she herself starts to hear whispers and experience bumps in the night . Is it just her over-active imagination brought on by being stuck in a place she hates or could there be someone or something trying to communicate?

Housebound is an absolute triumph . It is funny, scary, gory, and I suppose being from New Zealand will draw comparisions to Peter Jackson’s early work. But there is so much more to it that mere comparisons . O’Reilly is top notch as the ballsy in-your-face Kylie, who really doesn’t give a fuck and her mother played by Rima Te Wiata is just the polar opposite who always manages to rub Kylie up the wrong way. But if you scrape away the family dysfunction you then find a genuinely creepy haunted house horror film, but with so many facets that just all work.

Housebound is a real hidden gem and I encourage anyone who like a creepy horror mixed with great comic relief to check this out ASAP, it will not disappoint. 9/10

coherence-posterCoherence (2013) 89 Mins Dir – James Ward Byrkit. Starring – Emily Baldoni, Nicolas Brendon, Maury Sterling.

A group of friends meet up for a dinner party, and while they are there a serious of strange events start to unfold . But could this be because of a comet that is passing overhead that evening in close proximity to the earth?

I must admit I was not looking forward to Coherence and after 20 minutes I was hating it. It was full of loud, brash obnoxious 30-somethings who were so far up their own arses it was painful. BUT stay with Coherence as after say 25 minutes things start to happen to the group and the story takes so many twists and turns that your mind starts to hurt. It really did deliver, and it has a really ambitious storyline . It is for the whole just shot in one room , and with a group of people it does give a feeling of intimacy and claustrophobia.

So give Coherence a chance, stick with it and you will find at the ending you may be scratching your head thinking what the fuck, but it is a really impressive , intelligent film. 8/10

What_We_Do_in_the_Shadows_posterWhat We Do In The Shadows (2014) 87 Mins Dir – Taika Waititi, Jermaine Clement. Starring Taika Waititi, Jermaine Clement, Jonathan Brugh, Ben Fransham, Rhys Darby.

WWDITS was the one film today that I was really looking forward to. I had seen the trailer and am a big fan of Conchords so with both anticipation and a little trepidation (well it might be shit) I sat in my usual spot , all alone which is how I usually watch films at festivals.

But I needn’t have worried as it is absolutely wonderful. From the very first moment the audience were in stitches as was I.

WWDITS is a faux documentary following 4 vampires who share a house in the New Zealand , it documents their daily struggles to cope with modern life as well having that need to feed on human blood.

If you are to watch one film this year then make sure it is What We Do In The Shadows, it is something very special and gets the very difficult art of comedic horror absolutely spot on. 9.5/10

starry-eyes-poster-jay_shawStarry Eyes (2014) USA 98 Mins Dir – Kevin Kolsch. Starring – Alex Essoe, Noah Segan, Pat Healy, Amanda Fuller, Shane Coffey.

Last of the night for me (I was too tired to wait for Zombeavers) was the much lauded Starry Eyes (see Oli Ryders review here ) .

Starry Eyes is the story young aspiring actress who works at a coffee shop to make ends meet. She gets an audition for the shadowy Astraeous Pictures and so begins a series of more bizarre meetings where Sarah (Essoe) eventually enters into a very unusual agreement .

I wanted to love Starry Eyes, yet I only liked it. For me it was far too much style over substance although the last 25 minutes were as brutal as I have seen on the big screen. Starry Eyes just didn’t know what it wanted to be. It was stylistically set in the 1970s although it is modern LA, there were hints of Suspiria, House of The Devil and even Kill List.

A beautifully shot film , that just seemed to me to lose something in getting the story across and I just can’t put my finger on what that was? A look at Hollywood from the inside that then tears it’s way out, Starry Eyes is a slow burner that goes ballistic towards the end and definitely won’t be everyone’s cuppa, but it is well worth a look. 7/10

Phew , so that was Saturday. An impressive mix of comedy and horror and not a dud anywhere to be seen. Well done team GRIMM!!

Now just one day left and WOLFCOP!!

GRIMMFEST 2014 – The FULL Schedule !!

GRIMMFEST-2014-FB-HEADERThe GRIMMFEST 2014 – The Full Schedule 

So it is almost upon us. Yes Grimmfest 2014 is nearly here and hopefully here you will find everything you need to know about what is showing and who will be appearing. Grimmfest is definitely for the fans and not only is it rammed full of films , also you will find directors & stars mixing with everyone else and having a great time.

If you can’t make it then remember to check out the UKHS site, Facebook page and Twitter feed for live updates , news, reviews and interviews .

If you are going – see you at the bar !!

Tuesday 30th September – Preview Night – Printworks Manchester

anmoes7pm – 7.14pm Tasha and Friends (2013)

Local children’s TV host Tasha decides to shut the show down, her puppet co-stars however have other ideas.


7.14pm – 8.45pm A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984) 30th Anniversary Screening

Freddy Kruger’s original adventure in scream queen suburbia returns to the big screen for this special 30th Anniversary screening.

A group of teenagers are terrorized by “Freddy Krueger”, an evil being from another world who gets to his victims by entering their dreams and killing them with gloves that have knife blades attached to each finger.


babadook9pm – 9.13pm Let God Sort Them Out (2013)

French countryside, 1975. A family is about to sit down for dinner, unaware that the Great Purge has begun.


9.13pm – 10.43 The Babadook (2014)

A single mother, plagued by the violent death of her husband, battles with her son’s fear of a monster lurking in the house, but soon discovers a sinister presence all around her.“the effectiveness of the tension built by Kent along with the terrific performances by Davis and Wiseman is chilling, heartbreaking and utterly terrifying. The Babadook is edge of your seat stuff and it will keep on you on that edge until the final credits roll. Not just one of the best horror movies of 2014, but one of the best movies of the period.


Thursday 2nd October – Grimmfest Fringe – Gorilla, Manchester

HouseEnd-NewPoster-Web10.30am – 12.10pm The House At The End Of Time (2013)

This film successfully combines full-blooded Latin American Gothic melodrama, old-school haunted house chills and an emotionally and psychologically detailed study of maternal instinct and courage, in a complex, intricately constructed time slip narrative which is as much about personal trauma, the various “ghosts” of memory, and the need for closure, as it is about the supernatural. “A patient, reflective work that’s less concerned with ghosts than with how we haunt ourselves…”


Truth-or-dare (1)12.20pm – 1.49pm Truth Or Dare (2013)

Six college kids become internet celebrities when their “Truth or Dare” video, purporting to show a real shooting goes viral. Milking their notoriety on a talk show, they find themselves confronted with their biggest fan – who is less than impressed by the fact that the video was faked, and soon turns up at the location for their next stunt, with disturbing ideas about what they can do to take their project to a whole new level…


she1.50pm – 2.04pm She (2014)

SHE and HE were once lovers but are now trapped in a stale and silent relationship. Physically locked indoors with no comfort or conversation, SHE has increasingly become little more than a plaything and slave, but things are about to change drastically. Plotting a final anniversary dinner, SHE finally takes revenge on her selfish and demanding partner with a gruesome act that will leave just as many scars on her as it does on him.


Julia-poster2.30pm – 4.05pm (2014) Julia

Following a brutal gang rape, timid clinician Julia Shames undergoes a radical new form of therapy to attempt to overcome her overpowering sense of trauma and to rebuild her life. But the therapy unleashes a repressed side of her personality: one which refuses to be a victim, one which encourages her to fight back remorselessly against those who have abused her…
A neon-saturated, giallo-tinged, neo-noir feminist vigilante thriller which harks back to classic genre exploiters of the seventies; but with a cool, elegant style, and a sense of genre self-awareness all its own.


THE-WELL4.30pm – 6.05pm (2014) The Well

Marking the feature film writing and directing debut of production designer Thomas S. Hammock, best known for his work with Adam Wingard on YOU’RE NEXT, THE GUEST, and the V/H/S movies, this visually-striking
post-apocalyptic Western, is a far cry from the lo-fi, mumblecore-influenced aesthetic of such films.
Drawing on the infamous Johnson County War for its narrative of struggling tenant farmers fending off Company thugs, it combines an emotive coming-of-age drama with a stark and stripped-down tale of bloody revenge.
“Apocalyptic nightmare The Well doesn’t need a gimmick – It’s as brutal and beautiful as genre flicks get…”


Thursday 2nd October – Grimmfest Gala Night – The Dancehouse, Manchester

Herd-milkposter-27pm – 8pm The Herd (2014)  + Cast Q&A

Numerous women locked away in inhuman squalor; all of them enslaved, abused, continually impregnated – Paula has been reduced to a mere resource; a provider of milk…
THE HERD has clear-eyed and confrontational purpose in its extremity. By inflicting the life of the average dairy cow on to a group of human women; stripping them of the most basic rights, it calls into question both the fragile nature of those rights and the assumptions that go with them, and, most damningly of all, the ways in which we regard other sentient creatures as lesser than ourselves, and thus as having no rights at all…


letuspreycover8pm – 10pm Let Us Prey (2014) + Q&A

Rookie cop Rachel Heggie begins her first night shift in a near-deserted police station in a dead-end Scottish backwater town. She’s expecting a quiet time of it. But the arrival of a mysterious stranger who seems to know way too much about the building’s inhabitants, and none of it good, proves the catalyst for a night of confrontation and carnage…
Some narrative scenarios are simply infallible. A deserted police station, the sudden intrusion of a stranger and all hell following after. Howard Hawks liked the set up so much, he used it several times, in RIO BRAVO, EL DORADO and RIO LOBO. Now here it is again, with a new spin from debut director Brian O’Malley, who knows his horror tropes and archetypes well; he plays with them, and the viewers, like a cat with a mouse.


suburbangaothic10.10pm – 11.40 Suburban Gothic (2014)

The title tells you all you need to know: Richard Bates, Jr’s eagerly-awaited follow-up to the brutal and blackly comic EXCISION, sees him again splicing sarcastic suburban satire with shocks and splatter, in grim(m)ly hilarious fashion. Again making great use of an all- (cult) star cast, and even finding space for a brief cameo from Bates’ fellow horror mavericks, the Soska Twins. This is, perhaps, less twisted than its predecessor with amplification of the humour over horror – yet it shows the same dark wit and panache.


Friday 3rd October – Grimmfest Fringe – Printworks, Manchester 

devilsmile10.30am – 11.58am Devil’s Mile (2014)

Starting out as a sweaty, seedy, mean-spirited desert road noir, the film quickly veers off into increasingly supernatural and existential territory, as the Devil’s Mile turns out to be just that. A smart, sharply written take on The Road To Hell scenario, this boasts some genuinely unexpected and downright nasty plot twists before a punch line that is both brutal and darkly satisfying. It’s a film the Dimestore Dostoevsky himself, Jim Thompson, would have been proud of.


LFO_official_poster-716x102412.15pm – 1.45pm LFO (2013)

Robert is a man who realizes he can hypnotize with sound; he begins to abuse his power, manipulating and controlling the minds of others.Eventually, the consequences for mankind prove too severe.This mordantly funny, pitch-black comedy offers a sharp and surprisingly moving exploration of the unintentional rise to power of a petty control freak, whose only real desire is to turn back the clock on his own life.


william_zero2pm – 3.38pm Reconstruction Of William Zero (2014)

This film is less about cloning than it is about identity and what makes us human, and more about the psychopathology that grief can sometimes trigger.
Powerfully acted and emotionally engaging; trusting the intelligence of the viewer by not always spelling  things out, it offers a gripping thriller narrative full of  logical, yet entirely unexpected plot twists, and delves into some dark places.


sororal-e14094754586863.50pm – 5.26pm Sororal (2014)

Cassie is tormented by visions of murder. Terrifying images flood her dreams and attack her waking hours. Her dreams are her curse and keep her isolated from the everyday world. Cassie’s life is thrown into disarray when a mysterious detective comes to her with a bombshell: He tells her that her visions are depictions of real murders, murders that she couldn’t possibly have seen. Cassie’s pain now has a face, and she must stop the killing at all costs. The twisted, childlike killer targets Cassie’s loved ones, and the race is on to stop her. Cassie is thrown together with her former lover as they scramble towards a shocking revelation that will change everything.


Friday 3rd October – Grimmfest Main Screen – The Dancehouse, Manchester

GOBLIN-WEB8pm – 9.30pm Suspiria (1977) – with LIVE score from Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin

A young American newcomer at an exclusive European ballet school finds herself caught up in a series of
increasingly violent, bizarre, seemingly supernatural murders…
Argento’s characteristic favouring of flamboyant visual flourishes and startling set-pieces over narrative
cohesion and characterisation here moves him into pure abstraction; an experiment in rhythm, movement and

Italian 70’s progressive rock legends CLAUDIO SIMONETTI’S GOBLIN performing a LIVE score to Dario Argento’s horror classic SUSPIRIA. This truly unique event will take place at The Dancehouse, in Manchester, on Friday 3rd October. ‘we are delighted to be hosting this immersive screening of SUSPIRIA, at this truely apt venue’.


Dawn_of_the_dead10pm – 11.56pm Dawn Of The Dead (1978) The Dario Argento Cut

Following an ever-growing epidemic of zombies that have risen from the dead, two Philadelphia S.W.A.T. team members, a traffic reporter, and his television executive girlfriend seek refuge in a secluded shopping mall.

To tie in with our special presentation of SUSPIRIA with a live performance of the score by Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin, we are screening the Dario-Argento-prepared European cut of DAWN OF THE DEAD, for which Goblin provided the classic soundtrack.


Saturday 4th October – Main Screen – The Dancehouse, Manchester

split111am – 12.24pm Short Film Showcase

The Visitant (2014)

Don’t Play With The Food (2014)

Split (2014)

The Stomach (2014)

Vomica (2014)

All I Know Is Nothing (2014)

Autumn Harvest (2014)


theforgotten-clem12.40pm – 2.25pm The Forgotten (2014) + Q&A

Following his mother’s nervous breakdown, teenager Tommy is sent to live with his estranged father in a tower block squat on a run-down estate. But the father has serious problems of his own, and having to care for his alienated son only adds to them. And then Tommy’s sleep starts to be disturbed by mysterious noises coming from the boarded-up flat next-door. One morning, he awakes to find his bed moved right across the room. Is his increasingly unstable father to blame, or is there something else?


Housebound2.50pm – 4.49pm Housebound (2014)

Kylie Bucknell is forced to return to the house she grew up in when the court places her on home detention. However, when she too becomes privy to unsettling whispers & strange bumps in the night, she begins to wonder whether she’s inherited her overactive imagination, or if the house is in fact possessed by a hostile spirit who’s less than happy about the new living arrangement.
Recalling the gleefully gory and riotously funny early films of fellow Kiwi Peter Jackson, this outrageous fusion of splatter, slapstick, salty dialogue and droll EC-Comic-style chills is a real winner.


solitudo4.40pm – 4.51pm Solitudo (2014)

The directorial debut of writer/actress Alice Lowe (SIGHTSEERS; GARTH MARENGHI’S DARKPLACE), SOLITUDO is an austere tale of a nun in isolation at a rural convent who is terrorized by an encroaching darkness… that may be coming from within.



coherence-poster5.40pm – 7.10pm Coherence (2013)

On the night of an astronomical anomaly, eight friends at a dinner party experience a troubling chain of reality bending events. Part cerebral sci-fi and part relationship drama, COHERENCE is a tightly focused, intimately shot film that quickly ratchets up with tension and mystery.

‘Coherence builds cosmic-scale ideas from small-scale dramas, and slowly opens its narrative door to let in all manner of puzzles and paradoxes that will have viewers in knots for days if not forever. Think of it as Primer (2004) with soul, or Triangle (2009) with dinner parties (and ketamine!)’


What_We_Do_in_the_Shadows_poster7.30pm – 9pm What We Do In The Shadows (2014)

Viago, Vladislav and Deacon are three vampires currently based in the quiet suburb of Te Viago in Wellington NZ. They are finding it difficult to adjust to life in the 21st century, since their aversion to the sunny New Zealand weather pretty much confines them to their home. A fly on the wall documentary captures the trials and tribulations of their undead existence…


starry-eyes-poster-jay_shaw 9.10pm – 10.50pm Starry Eyes (2014)

Welcome to Hollywood, where every coffee shop waitress is a budding star just waiting to be discovered. But young hopeful Sarah Walker is as tired of waiting as she is of waitressing; all those endless, fruitless casting calls. And then, following a series of increasingly bizarre auditions for the shadowy Astraeous Pictures, she is offered what seems to be a dream part. But as she discovers the full requirements of the role, that particular dream starts to turn into a nightmare…


zombeaverscover11.20pm – 12.45am Zombeavers (2014)

ZOMBEAVERS is an action-packed horror/comedy in which a group of college kids staying at a riverside cabin are menaced by a swarm of deadly zombie beavers. A weekend of sex and debauchery soon turns gruesome as the beavers close in on the kids. Riding the line between scary, sexy and funny, the kids are soon fighting for their lives in a desperate attempt to fend off the hoard of beavers that attack them in and around their cabin.


Sunday 5th October – Fringe – Gorilla, Manchester

opengrave10.20am – 12pm Open Grave (2013)

A man wakes up in the wilderness, in a pit full of dead bodies, with no memory and must determine if the murderer is one of the strangers who rescued him, or if he himself is the killer.
“With top-drawer production values, especially the make-up effects, great sound design, music, and tight editing. All contribute to building this eerie world, with its carnage, cacophony of screams, and strong feeling of foreboding. The added isolation of the wilderness location is perfect.“


Sunday 5th October – Main Screen – The Dancehouse, Manchester

dead-snow-212.20pm – 2pm Dead Snow 2 – Red vs Dead

If the worst day of your life consisted of accidentally killing your girlfriend with an axe, chain-sawing your own arm off, and watching in horror as your closest friends were devoured by a zombified Nazi battalion, you’d have to assume that things couldn’t get much worse. In Martin’s case, that was only the beginning…
“I really had an absolute blast with DEAD SNOW: RED VS DEAD and any zombie aficionado is going to have a field
day. I’d even go so far as to say it’s the best zom-com since SHAUN OF THE DEAD (which remains the champ).
It’s pretty tough not to like a movie where there’s a human/zombie love scene set to Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart”. This is definitely one to keep an eye out for”.


get_some_xlg-691x10242pm – 2.16pm Get Some (2014)

After a viral pandemic takes its grip on the planet turning humans into flesh craving mutants, TV adventurer Hunter Smith fights back by presenting Get Some, a show in which he tracks and kills the infected for the entertainment of the surviving population.



life-after-beth2.30pm – 4pm Life After Beth (2014)

A young man’s recently deceased girlfriend mysteriously returns from the dead, but he slowly realizes she is not the way he remembered her.

“This is a touching, frequently hilarious film about grief, loss, and moving on….if you’ve always fantasized about having a sexy undead girlfriend with super-strength, bad breath, and a love of smooth jazz then you’ll love Life After Beth..“


samuria-537x10244.20pm – 5.40pm The Samurai (2014)

A wolf strives through the woods around an isolated German village. Jakob the young local police officer is onto him, but scents something more in the darkness. What he finds is a man, it seems, wild eyed, of wiry build, in a dress. He carries a katana, a Samurai sword. When the Samurai invites Jakob to follow him on his crusade towards the village, it becomes Jakob’s mission to pursue the lunatic to end this wanton destruction. At the end of the night Jakob has experienced too much, is too far from whom he once was. Something hidden has been unleashed to meet the first rays of daylight.


wolfcop6.20pm – 7.40pm Wolfcop (2014)

As a series of strange and violent events start happening, an alcoholic policeman realizes that he has been turned into a werewolf as part of a larger plan, so he investigates with the help of his partner and his friend.
“You will laugh out loud and see some cool werewolf transformations and bloody battle scenes. This is a movie that knows exactly what it is and is basically winking at the audience the entire time. If you enjoy a horror-comedy that’s just out for a laugh and never takes itself too seriously, you’ll enjoy WolfCop.“


thecanalposterlarge-690x10248pm – 9.50pm The Canal (2014) + Q&A

Film Archivist David Williams and his wife and son move into a beautiful old house by the side of a canal, but the house has a dark history, as David discovers. While restoring some early film footage, he discovers that his new home was the site of a shocking murder. In 1902, a man named William Jackson killed his wife and children because he believed his wife was unfaithful. And David has just started to suspect that his own wife is having an affair. Before long, he starts to have disturbing visions, to suspect that something is haunting the house. Something from the past, that is trying to influence the present…


So there you have it. Another wonderful line-up and there are a few tickets left for the full weekend as well as day tickets. Goblin is SOLD OUT but if you get a full weekend pass you will be able to get to see that too.

Tickets are available HERE