THE WALKING DECEASED aka Walking With The Dead (2015) DVD Review

wdec1THE WALKING DECEASED aka Walking With The Dead (2015)

Directed by Scott Dow.

Written by Tim Ogletree.

Cast: Dave Sheridan, Tim Ogletree, Joey Oglesby, Sophia Taylor Ali, Troy Ogletree, Danielle Garcia, Jacqui Holland.

Runtime 88 Minutes

Out now in the UK from Signature Entertainment

When Sheriff Lincoln wakes from a coma he finds the world has been over run with zombies and there’s no more Twitter. Reuniting with his son, they join together with a group of survivors, including wanna be alpha male Chicago, naive Green Bay, sisters Brooklyn & Harlem, and a friendly zombie called Romeo, and set out for safe haven, a farm run by an elderly couple.
Will they survive?

Directly spoofing The Walking Dead with a sprinkle of Warm Bodies and a dash of Dawn of The Dead, The Walking Deceased (or Walking With The Dead), much like it’s main character, gets to it’s feet pretty quickly and keeps the gags flowing from the off all the way through to it’s conclusion. First time feature director, Scott Dow, and first time screen writer, Tim Ogletree, make sure that even if the jokes don’t hit the spot, there’s another not too far behind.

wdec2The cast are enthusiastic and willing, and in the most part have been involved in similar spoof movies before. Around half the main cast appeared together in Supernatural Activity, whilst Sheridan (Sheriff Lincoln) has appeared in films such as Scary Movie and A Haunted House 1& 2 and Holland (a girl called Isaac) has written and acted in horror comedy Silent But Deadly. So, the experience is there. But, the main question with a comedy is obviously, is it funny?

Well, whilst some of the jokes fall flat, it does occasionally raise a smile. Sheriff Lincoln lamenting about the loss of social media is funny as is his coming across a lost little girl. The ideas are many, the references to other movies are there, if you can spot them. We get a reference to Shaun of The Dead at a zombie strip joint and the survivors hang out at a mall. There are plenty of nice ideas here and even when they don’t work, you can appreciate the effort made.

The performances are better than expected, with nobody really letting the side down. The look of the film is very good, keeping it’s low budget (around $1.2 million) fairly well hidden.

wdec3Overall, it isn’t the greatest comedy horror film, but it’s certainly not the worst. It passes it’s time swiftly enough with some good gags and an able, likeable cast. We get some out takes as the end credits roll which gives a little more insight into the mood on set, showing that they had fun making it.

A not the end of the world movie watching experience!

5/10

Wild Eye Releasing Unleash ‘A Plague So Pleasant’ on August 25th

apspWild Eye Releasing has unleashed a new epidemic on the American public. A Plague So Pleasant will infect home entertainment systems beginning August 25th. A more dangerous strain than recent efforts, the film has been hailed by undead aficionados as “a miraculous accomplishment” (Zombie Guide Magazine), “an Excellent, Original Zombie Movie” (ZMDB.com), and “so much better than the average straight to video zombie travesty” (The Rotting Zombie).

In the near future, zombies have become a protected, endangered species, held in captivity and legally wandering the streets free from harm by the living. But for the loved ones of those who die, sometimes coping is just too much to handle, especially when not everyone feels the dead have a right to exist, and are willing to break the law to rid the world of this new population of the dead.

To order on Amazon.com – http://www.amazon.com/Plague-So-Pleasant-Various/dp/B00V4TUCQS/

Please check out the following links for more info and support indie horror

Website – http://www.wildeyereleasing.com

Twitter – https://twitter.com/WildEyeDVD

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/wild.eye.releasing

YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/user/wildeyereleasing

IMDB – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2107644/

Maggie (2015) Review

maggie1MAGGIE (2015)

Director: Henry Hobson

Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Abigail Breslin, Joely Richardson, Aiden Flowers, Carsen Flowers, Jodie Moore, Douglas M Griffin, J.D. Evermore, Bryce Romero, Raeden Greer

UK cinema release: 24th July from Vertigo

UK DVD/Blu-Ray release: 23rd November from Universal

The world has fallen prey to a deadly disease that turns sufferers into ravenous undead. There is no cure. However, unlike the bafflingly speedy infections of other zombie movies, in this film the disease takes an average of six to eight weeks to claim victims. The authorities are in control of the situation but the number of infected is placing a huge demand on resources. As such, individuals with the disease are processed into horrific quarantine pens.

Maggie (Abigail Breslin) is a teenager who has contracted the virus. The film opens with her father, Wade (Arnold Schwarzenegger), walking into a quarantine unit to collect her after the family doctor has pulled some strings to allow Maggie home to spend time with her family before the end.

maggie2Upon getting back to the house we see her half-brother and half-sister bid her a sad farewell before they head off to live with their aunt. Quite understandably, Maggie’s step-mother Caroline (Joely Richardson) is concerned for their well-being but still wants to be there for her husband and the girl she has raised as her own in the tough times ahead.

Caroline isn’t the only one to have her reservations, as local lawmen Ray (Douglas M Griffin) and Holt (J.D. Evermore) aren’t pleased at having a walking biological hazard in the community either.

What follows is an in depth look at the physical and emotional trials Maggie faces as she draws closer to what scientists call The Turn. But what will Wade do when his little girl is lost to him forever? Will he endanger his life and those of the people around him through his undying father’s love?

When you imagine a zombie movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger you can’t help but picture a campy, high-octane, blood, brains ‘n’ bullets action romp.

Maggie is not that film.

maggie3This is first and foremost, a character study. It is barely a zombie film if the truth be told. A couple of heart-stopping encounters aside, there is very little in the way of brain-chewing undead. Much like the film’s ‘Necroambulist’ (see what they did there?) virus, this is a story prepared to move at a slower pace than a lot of zombie horror movies. Gorehounds should perhaps look elsewhere.

It could be seen as something of a gamble casting Arnie (who hasn’t exactly set the box office on fire since his full-time return to acting) in such a serious role, but a couple of clunky line deliveries aside, he is mostly up to the task of portraying the terrible turmoil his character is feeling.

The rest of the cast are uniformly superb, but special praise must go to the excellent Moore as Dr Vern and Oscar-nominee Breslin. She should already be familiar to genre fans for her roles in Zombieland, Haunter and TV’s Scream Queens, and for good reason – she is a revelation. Her chemistry with the Austrian Oak is astonishing and her subtle performance portrays complex emotions with ease. She really is the star of this film.

This is Henry Hobson’s first feature directing gig and it is an impressive début. The film has a washed out look, echoing the deathly pallor of the title character and tells its tragic story in a way that grips the viewer as it inexorably leads to the gut-wrenching climax. There are interesting sub-plots along the way, especially that of Maggie’s ex boyfriend and fellow infected Trent (Bryce Romero), but at its heart this is a story about a father and his daughter.

maggie4Saying this is a sad film might be an understatement. A warning to parents: this hits hard. I’ve never seen a cinema as morosely silent at the end of a film as I did when Maggie’s credits started to roll. It is not a date movie, but it is incredibly powerful, intelligent and moving — you NEED to see it.

I never imagined that Arnold Schwarzenegger’s tears could possibly entertain as much as his muscles, but Maggie proves that I was wrong.

9/10

Burying The Ex (2014) Review

bury1Burying the Ex (2014)

Directed by: Joe Dante

Written by: Alan Trezza

Cast: Anton Yelchin, Ashley Greene, Alexandra Daddario

Running Time: 89 Minutes

UK Certificate: 15

Studio: Image Entertainment

Max, played by Anton Yelchin (Terminator Salvation, Star Trek), is in a relationship with Evelyn, played by Ashley Greene (Twilight Saga). Evelyn is wanting to save the world in the most organised, eco-friendly way imaginable. She is unstable, irritating and often uses guilt to make Max believe he is in the wrong. Poor Max.

Working in a horror store, Max finds a Satan/genie trinket that apparently grants the wisher their hearts desire ‘the evil way’. Max promises Evelyn, bated by the promise of fancy-dress sex, that they will always be together forever in front of said item. The major issue is that Max is getting ready to break of the relationship, she is a control freak and folding away his classic, imported, movie posters is the last straw. In a freak accident, Evelyn is killed, allowing Max to get out of the relationship without breaking her heart.

bury2After a period of mourning Max moves on and meets the beautiful Olivia, Alexandra Daddario (San Andreas, True Detective), a girl who was seemingly made for him, she’s beautiful and quirky, relaxed and funny, everything Evelyn was not. Here arises the problem as Evelyn rises from her grave, believing that Max will greet her with open arms, after all she still thinks they are together and can pick up from where they left off, regardless of her smell and rotting flesh.

Based on a short story by writer Alan Trezza, the screenplay is witty and fully formed, but doesn’t rely on the usual tropes of a film of this type. Joe Dante directs confidently and with a flair usually seen by younger, indie directors. Dante is known for being able to mix horror and comedy successfully, early successes being The Howling, Gremlins and Piranha. With ‘Burying the Ex’ he continues this skill to great effect.

The three main leads are all wonderfully cast. Ashley Greene is perfect as the crazy, clingy, controlling, undead, Evelyn. Anton Yelchin has true sparks with Alexandra Daddario, they play off each other extremely well and you really feel their connection crackle on screen. The make up for Evelyn is a wonderful use of prosthetics and reminds us of how a little can go a long way, a small amount of CGI is used to create a few body contortions, or at least I believe it was CGI, otherwise Ms Greene is one flexible young lady.

bury3Burying the Ex is a black comedy with heart, a sometimes funny film, which should give the audience a grin, if not a chuckle from time to time. It was nice to see director, Joe Dante, returning to the type of stories that helped him make his name and hope it prompts him to try his hand at something bigger, something akin to one of those wonderful gems from my childhood such as Innerspace, Explorers, The ‘burbs and Gremlins. I can recommend Burying the Ex to anyone who likes things a little quirky, a little fresh or anyone who wants to see if Mr Dante hasn’t lost his touch…FYI he hasn’t.

Movie Rating: 7/10

Zombieworld (2015) DVD Review

zombieworldZombieworld (2015)

Directors – Jesse Baget, Adrián Cardona, Rafa Dengrá, Luke Guidici, Phil Haine, Peter Horn, Jared Marshall, Cameron McCulloch, David Muñoz, Adam O’Brien, Zachary Ramelan, Paul Shrimpton, Vedran Marjanovic Wekster, Tommy Woodard.

Starring – Bill Oberst Jr, Thomas Garner , Marc Velasco , Trevor Snarr , José María Angorrilla

Out NOW in the UK on DVD from Image Entertainment UK

There is nowhere to hide…nowhere to run…the Zombie Apocalypse has come, and our world now belongs to the dead! From Ireland, Canada, Australia, Europe and all over the U.S., the bone-chilling news reports tell the same gruesome tale – walking corpses terrorize and devour the living. Only a few desperate humans find the courage to stand and fight for their last chance at survival. But the hordes of undead keep coming, and there’s only one thing on the menu – us.

zw1At first glance you would be forgiven for not realising Zombieworld is an anthology of short zombie films. On the UK DVD sleeve there is no mention of this other than in a cover quote.

Zombieworld kicks straight of with Peter Horn & Jared Marshall’s 2010 DARK TIMES which is a first person POV (Point of View) short that shows a group of employees racing away from a nuclear power plant during their Christmas party. A fairly standard running, shouting and being eaten by zombies with a couple of interesting elements.

The films in Zombieworld are all linked together with reports from an American news station , where news anchor Marvin Gloatt (played by the wonderful Bill Oberst Jr) is relaying news from the station during the ongoing worldwide panic.

zw2

Fist of Jesus

Next up is Adrián Cardona & David Muñoz’s 2012 classic FIST OF JESUS . A Spanish language gorefest that I have been championing since I first lay eyes on it back in 2013. A hilarious 15 minutes that is done in the worst possible taste. I won’t say any more other than watch this ASAP.

Then billed as a report from ‘Ireland’ , even though the only speaking character has a Northern English accent, is Phil Haine’s 2011 short I AM LONELY. Which is a clever little film about the most annoying man in the world being the last man standing in a block of flats and locked in with his dying friend.

DEAD STOP (2011) is up next and Tommy Woodard’s short is an average policeman stops a car at a service station and madness ensues. What is interesting though are Woodard’s unusual camera angles shot from both the dashboard cam on the police car and the service station’s CCTV.

HOME is a 2010 Australian short from Cameron McCulloch , which is the tale of a woman all alone and surrounded by zombies whilst trying to hold on to the last of her humanity. A beautiful film when watched on it’s own but totally out of place here.

zw3

Dead Rush

From Canada DEAD RUSH is a 2013 film from Zach Ramelan. Again in first person POV this is shot in real time and seamlessly looks like one continuous shot. A little to shouty and jerky for my tastes , but very clever and a lot of talent involved.

TELEPORTAL is a British 2009 film from Paul Shrimpton & Alex Chandon. Running at just 3 minutes it is over way to quickly. A young man is playing a zombie shoot-em-up video game when he is transported into the game. A well shot and clever idea that unfortunately seems very out of place here.

Next is the superb CERTIFIED (2011). Set in the 1950s Luke Guidici’s film has a postman on his first day knocking on a house to get a letter signed for. When invited in a young girl tells him a story of her uncles who died in a mining accident. A sharp, witty and superbly acted short that doesn’t feature zombies? Again so good but so out of place.

zw4

Brutal Relax

Last up is the totally brilliant BRUTAL RELAX (2010) which is from Adrián Cardona & David Muñoz who made the previous short Fist of Jesus. It tells the story of a man released from a hospital and told to take a calm and relaxing beach holiday.When he arrives at the beach in his pants, carrying nothing but a suitcase and a walkman all seems perfect…. That is until some zombie pirates burst on the scene. Totally wonderful, gory and bloody hilarious.

Finally interspersed randomly throughout are sections of How To Survive a Zombie Apocalypse which is mildly entertaining and does link quite well.

OK so what’s to like about Zombieworld ? Well Bill Oberst Jr is (as always) fantastic. He plays news anchor Marvin Gloatt who is bitten at the start, so after each short we see Marvin as he slowly changes into a zombie and Bill does this with real gusto. To any director out there thinking of making a horror film I have ONE piece of advice – cast Bill Oberst Jr, you just never get anything less than 100% from the man.

Also the films themselves are, for the main, really very good. Fist of Jesus & Brutal Relax stand out but there is a lot of great talent on show here , which bodes well for future releases.

zw5

Certified

Right on to the negatives. Well to me it seems like the films were just thrown together. Some of the links are very tenuous to say the least and it is like the makers had decided which films to use and then latterly tried to work out how to fit them in a fluid and cohesive manner, something which does not happen.

Zombieworld just does not flow well. It is little things that irk me. When Fist of Jesus is announced we are told we are going back to biblical times, yet Fist of Jesus is a Spanish language short, but this is not mentioned. And Certified is not a zombie short film it is the wonderful story of an evil little girl with a wicked imagination. I could go on.

Lastly almost all these films can be watched for free online. So to watch them in better context and so they can be seen individually then why pay for this DVD?  If you can find Zombieland at a decent price I would still pick it up though.

But flaws aside there are some wonderful films here that are getting some much deserved exposure, so if you like zombie shorts then this will be for you . An excellent showcase for the acting, writing and directing talents sadly in a shoddy and haphazard production.

Even though I found Zombieworld hugely frustrating at times I will still give it a good 7/10 – but that score is just for the films alone!

Dead Rising: Watchtower – Based on Capcom’s Video Game released in UK 27th July

drw1Dead Rising: Watchtower – Based on Capcom’s Video Game released in UK 27th July

Content Media is set to release the highly anticipated ‘Dead Rising: Watchtower’ presented by Legendary Digital, available to rent or own on all major digital platforms July 27th 2015. The UK release follows its US release through Sony’s Crackle streaming service in March.

Legendary Digital presents Dead Rising: Watchtower, a Dead Rising/Contradiction Films Production- directed by Zach Lipovsky (Leprechaun: Origins), written and produced by Tim Carter (Mortal Kombat: Legacy), and executive produced by Tomas Harlan (Mortal Kombat: Legacy) and Lorenzo di Bonaventura (the Transformers franchise). Based on the widely popular Capcom videogame franchise Dead Rising, Dead Rising: Watchtower features an all-star cast including Jesse Metcalfe (Dallas, John Tucker Must Die), Meghan Ory (Once Upon a Time, Intelligence), Virginia Madsen (Sideways, Candyman), Dennis Haysbert (24; Men, Women & Children) and Rob Riggle (22 Jump Street, The Hangover).

Official Dead Rising: Watchtower Trailer

Dead Rising: Watchtower follows Chase Carter (Jesse Metcalfe), a reporter trying to make it big – but the pursuit of his career-defining story leads him into the heart of a zombie-infested warzone. East Mission, Oregon is locked down after police find the bodies of what appear to be victims of a zombie attack. Zombies are not a new phenomenon, but outbreaks are uncommon. Past incidents were only just contained in time and the country is nervous. When two ambitious Net 2.0 reporters, Chase and his colleague Jordan, get inside the quarantine zone to report on a large group of civilians trapped in an inner city dome stadium, they realise they’re waiting for a rescue that isn’t coming.

drw2Many of those abandoned inside are survivors of past outbreaks who carry the zombie virus in their blood. They only survive by taking the antidote once every 24 hours — a drug called Zombrex. When the local drug supply mysteriously fails, a small crisis explodes into mass panic and catastrophe.

The story unfolds from two perspectives: survivors inside the city and officials and the media on the outside. Unlike virtually all other zombie narratives, the world hasn’t ended. The outbreak is a large-scale natural disaster that the rest of the world watches on TV. After Jordan manages to escape the quarantine zone, she sets out to unravel the conspiracy behind the failed Zombrex, while Chase is trapped inside with a few others like tough loner with a secret Crystal (Meghan Ory) and grief-stricken mother Maggie (Virginia Madsen), battling to survive.

drw3Their perilous, action-packed journey to escape simultaneously forces them to question what they’re willing to do to survive and, ultimately, their own sense of humanity. The Dead Rising game franchise has sold over 8.2 Million copies worldwide. Publisher Capcom has sold 200 Million game copies worldwide, including those from juggernaut series Resident Evil, Street Fighter and Mega Man.

The Zombie King (2013) Review

zk1The Zombie King (2013)

Directed by: Aiden Belizare

Written By: Rebecca Claire-Evans, Jennifer Chippindale, George McClusky & Lisa Strobl

Starring: Edward Furlong, Corey Feldman, George McCluskey, David McClelland

UK DVD Release – 24th August 2015 from High Fliers Films

Zombie King is a low budget British horror-comedy, pitting unlikely heroes against hordes of the undead in an unnamed rural English town, with a couple of gleeful 80’s cameos; Edward Furlong, famous for playing John Connor in Terminator 2; and Corey Feldman, star of most of the cult movies from the decade. Cleverly opening right in the middle of the action, explanations and character building are saved for a bit later as the main trio are equally clueless about the horrors that are hunting them down, and about each other’s stories.

The trio is comprised of a milkman, a postman and a traffic warden, all hilariously remaining in full uniform for the duration of the movie. Instantly the tense chemistry of the three is brilliant, all three characters finding time to hurl insults at each other whilst hiding from and fighting off the zombies. The balance is carefully managed, with the comedy being genuinely funny, whether it’s slapstick visual gags or verbal abuse between the cast. But the comedy doesn’t overpower the horror elements either; it’s never white-knuckle terrifying but it never tries to be, still offering up plenty of tense moments and plenty of scares.

zk4They soon meet more survivors, and the troupe grows to become quite large but the majority of the cast do a great job, and are all given their own moments to shine; some as comic relief, but others with some real stories to tell about the events. Either way, no one feels like unnecessary zombie-fodder so it’s a real surprise to see which characters are inevitably chomped. All this is interspersed with brief glimpses of Furlong’s side-plot; a melodramatic but genuinely affecting sequence that obviously becomes relevant as the movie progresses.

Many films suffer from a half-way slump and this is no exception; midway through the plot everything slows down almost to a halt, and it seems a bit unsure where it’s going but it picks up again soon enough for a great finale featuring a delightfully eccentric performance from Feldman as the malevolent Voodoo god Kalfu.

Visually this film doesn’t reflect its low budget – shot very nicely in various locations showing off the English Countryside, much of the gore is obscured or just out of shot. These moments don’t stick out though, it feels more a stylistic choice than a disappointing restriction. That isn’t to say there’s no gore though! When we do see any however it’s visceral and gruesome, not at all cheesy or comical.

zk3The zombie genre has become incredibly saturated, and while this film doesn’t necessarily offer anything new to the scene I can’t think of many recent entries that manage so well in simultaneously balancing emotional and tense survival horror with laugh-out-loud comedy. Not even switching scene-by-scene, the tone can shift in the blink of an eye making it a surprisingly unpredictable movie, and a very enjoyable, involving one. Being a British Zom-Com there is one obvious comparison that people will make – the two films have many more differences but with so many dark edges this film is like a much grittier version of Shaun of the Dead. Well worth a look.

8/10

The End is Here! Zombieworld hits the UK June 8th 2015

zombieworldThe End is Here!

The Zombie Apocalypse is upon us – and all you can do is kick back and watch how it happened, right here, right now in the place we call Zombieworld.

Satisfy your thirst for all things zombie as we take you back in time to the biblical rise of the living dead; before running screaming from continent to continent as reports of zombie devastation arrive from Ireland, Canada, Australia and all over the U.S.

Watch for the ‘Government Health Warnings’ on ‘How to Survive a Zombie Attack’. They could be the only thing between you and a newfound hunger for human flesh. And above all else, enjoy yourself – you may not have much longer to live.

With ultra-violence, gallons of gore and heaps of bloody fun, Zombieworld is like nothing you’ve seen before. This ravenous collection of deadly tales takes over DVD on 8 June 2015 courtesy of Image Entertainment.

Welcome to Zombieworld.

Zombieworld is available to pre-order from Amazon UK now – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Zombieworld-DVD/dp/B00TSFXZ4G/

New Zombie Web ‘Sick-Com’ series DEAD TOWN announced

deadtown1

New Web Series planned named Dead Town based on UK Zombie Novel Series – Death In A Northern Town

It’s the end of the world. The dead have risen and humanity is crumbling. In the small industrial town of Runcorn in the North West of England, John Diant, his survivalist, spam loving, apocalypse obsessed brother Butty and his retro, chain smoking smart arse best friend 80s Dave, are doing what needs to be done to survive – From both the living and the dead!

Based on the Kindle and iTunes bestselling comedy horror series Death in a Northern Town, Dead Town is a new web based ‘sick-com’ currently in pre-production and will be coming to Youtube later this year.

deadtown2Mixing comedy with extreme gore (plus other bodily fluids), Dead Town will follow the adventures of John and co as they search for his missing daughter, Emily on the mean streets of zombie infested Runcorn!

A short pilot for Dead Town is currently in pre-production with filming scheduled to take place in April and early May.

And remember Death In A Northern Town is still the only book to receive 10/10 on UK Horror Scene and read the review here – http://www.ukhorrorscene.com/death-in-a-northern-town-by-peter-mckeirnan-book-review/

For full updates then join the DEAD TOWN Facebook page here – https://www.facebook.com/DeadTownOfficial and Follow them on Twitter here – https://twitter.com/DeadTownTV

 

ABCs of Death 2 (2014) DVD Review

abcs2dvdABCs of Death 2 (2014)

Various Writers, Directors & Stars

Producers – Ant Timpson & Tim League

UK DVD Release – 23rd March 2015 from Monster Pictures

“Another 26-chapter anthology that showcases death in all its vicious wonder and brutal beauty.”
Anthologies are always divisive in the horror community, not least collaborative releases like this series and V/H/S – some find the sharp shifts in tone & content and most importantly the uneven quality a turn-off while others enjoy the opportunity to discover directors established and new to the scene trying out new ideas, or just having a bit of fun (or in Ti West’s case, offending and disappointing practically everyone). I have to say I’m quite firmly in the second camp – I think the idea behind ABCs of Death is fantastic, where 26 directors each choose a letter of the alphabet & are given $5000 to produce a short. As with the first instalment, and with every collaborative anthology movie I’ve seen, it goes without saying that the resulting shorts vary wildly; some are slickly produced on the meagre budget while some look like a few friends bought some ketchup & spent the rest of the money on booze. I think it’s only fair to judge them individually before remarking on the movie as a whole, so first I’m going to look at each segment.

A is for Amateur – Directed by E.L. Katz (Cheap Thrills)
This is a stylishly shot short about a hitman that balances comedy & tension superbly. It’s not massively gory but I personally find myself squirming more at someone slamming their hand down on a nail than someone getting their arm chopped off, so it was suitably cringeworthy for me. The final scene feels disappointingly scruffy in comparison to the rest but overall it’s a very decent bit of fun. 7/10

B is for Badger – Directed by Juilan Barratt (The Mighty Boosh)
Fake B-Roll footage from a nature documentary, I’m really happy to see some dry, sarcastic, and ultimately goofy British humour here. Barratt also stars as the smarmy host of the documentary, building a hateful character in a matter of a couple of minutes. No scares but some very funny gruesome moments, this would not be out of place in a Monty Python episode, and that’s very high praise in my books. 8/10

C is for Capital Punishment – Directed by Julian Gilbey (A Lonely Place to Die)
The Brits are taking over this movie! A strange ‘local’ court convenes in a pub to sentence a man accused of kidnapping a young girl. Think The League of Gentlemen without any comedy. This short swiftly creates a high-tension situation and has a particular protracted scene of gore that is shot so directly, in daylight, with astonishingly good effects, that it’s the first time gore alone has made me feel physically sick in a number of years. For that alone I’d give it credit, but the short also carries a heavy message. You can’t ask for much more than this offers. 9/10

d is for delousedD is for Deloused – Directed by Robert Morgan
A stop-motion short that is impenetrable in the sense that I have no idea what it was about, it nonetheless offers excellent twisted, gruesome visuals from the beginning. If Jan Svankmajer directed an episode of Salad Fingers you’d end up with this. 8/10

E is for Equlibrium – Directed by Alejandro Brugués (Juan of the Dead)
Two castaways meet a beautiful woman in this funny, dialogue-free short. Despite extremely heavy-handed grading it’s shot very simply, with long handheld takes that have a few tricks up their sleeves in some impossible timing. This camera trickery alone makes the short worthwhile, otherwise it’s enjoyably whimsical, even if certain members of the audience might not find it’s ending so funny… 6/10

F is for Falling – Directed by Aharon Keshales & Navot Papushado (Rabies, Big Bad Wolves)
An Arab boy encounters an Israeli woman who has crash-landed her parachute in a tree. Respect is due to the duo for submitting a serious segment to this anthology but while it’s clearly trying to convey some meaningful point, it’s not entirely clear what it is. It isn’t boring, but unfortunately forgettable. 5/10

G is for Grandad – Directed by Jim Hosking
An irritating young man lives with his Grandfather, berating him for his outdated ways & décor. It feels odd straight away, but soon becomes much more so. It’s shot well but features a specific type of humour where things are straight up odd for the sake of it and I just found it a bit pointless. 4/10.

H is for Head Games – Directed by Bill Plympton
Animated in a deliberately scruffy, scribbly style, a man & woman kiss resulting in bizarre visuals assumably representing some sort of “battle” between them. There’s no denying the imagination shown, but I’d expect to find this in the ‘dark part of youtube’ rather than here. 3/10.

I is for Invincible – Directed by Erik Matti
A group of siblings are trying to kill their seemingly invincible mother to inherit her wealth. This is brilliantly shot, with hyper-real visuals and gothic set design. The sheer desperation of the siblings is hilarious, and the ending is somewhat inevitable but it doesn’t take away from the rest of the short. 7/10.

J-is-for-Jesus-1-ABCs-of-Death-620x400J is for Jesus – Directed by Dennison Ramalho
A tense opening soon turns into a brutal depiction of a wealthy man having his gay son tortured by some sort of priests to ‘cure’ him. Nightmarish visuals portray the victim’s fear brilliantly, and the whole thing is very well acted. Another meaningful entry, it covers a topic rarely touched on in horror. 8/10.

K is for Knell – Directed by Kristine Buozyte & Bruno Samper (Vanishing Waves)
A woman sees an strange “goo-orb” floating over a neighbouring apartment block before everyone inside starts killing each other. Soon this black goo starts pouring into her apartment. I didn’t find it anywhere near as tense or clever as it seems to aim for & the woman never seems more than slightly troubled by what’s happening. The effects of the “goo-orb” are the main highlight here. 2/10.

L is for Legacy – Directed by Lancelot Oduwa Imasuen
An African tribe set out to sacrifice a man, but things to wrong resulting in a visit from one of the worst movie monsters I’ve ever seen. The acting & effects are beyond awful, making it hilarious for the wrong reasons. It is the first Nigerian horror movie I’ve seen though so that’s something I guess. 1/10.

M is for Masticate – Directed by Robert Boocheck
Somehow the winner of a competition set out for the public to submit their ‘M’ entries, this features an almost nude man in contact lenses running amok down a street in slow motion, with garish contrasty visuals like a 90’s music video. The final comic reveal pushes the limits of tasteless humour but I suppose this film isn’t supposed to take the moral high ground. 4/10.

N is for Nexus – Directed by Larry Fessenden (Beneath)
A young man hurries across town to meet his girlfriend on Halloween. Camerawork is very basic, verging on awful, making it on one hand come across as amateurish, but on the other it works in giving the short a claustrophobic and disorientating feel. It is however quite clever, with a morbid ending that works brilliantly with the title. 6/10.

O is for ochlocracyO is for Ochlocracy (Mob Rule) – Directed by Hajime Ohata
This Japanese short puts zombies in control of a court, trying the uninfected humans who were killing zombies before a serum was found to reanimate them. A brilliant twist on the old zombie trope, it builds up its mini-universe with a number of great ideas & plenty of awesome imagery. 9/10.

P is for P-P-P-P-SCARY!!! – Directed by Todd Rohal
Filmed in the style of a 1920’s short, with three characters talking like they belong in a Looney Tunes cartoon, this runs the risk of being plain annoying, but kept my attention whilst they encounter a creepy man and a baby. It’s totally bizarre; I’m not entirely sure what I watched. 5/10.

Q is for Questionnaire – Directed by Rodney Ascher (Room 237)
A rather simple, streamlined short featuring a man excelling at a street-side intelligence test. I can’t say much more without spoiling anything but it’s unexpected, funny and unpleasant in equal measures. 7/10.

R is for Roulette – Directed by Marvin Kren (Blood Glacier)
A black & white noir showing three people playing Russian Roulette in a basement, this is high-energy despite no action, with excellent acting & skilled editing drawing every bit of tension out of the situation. A very clever ending defies our assumptions of the game’s purpose. 8/10.

S is for Split – Directed by Juan Martinez Moreno
A man phones his wife while away on business. This is shot very simply, but a cleverly employed split-screen effects means we are constantly watching every character & their actions/reactions, never cutting away. Unashamedly brutal in places, but the ending is slightly underwhelming. 7/10.

t is for torture pornT is for Torture Porn – Directed by Jen & Sylvia Soska (American Mary)
A young woman is being treated awfully at an audition by the misogynistic crew, making an unexpected discovery after forcing her to undress. It offers up some disturbing imagery with the unpredictable twist but it did still feel a bit weak. 7/10.

U is for Utopia – Directed by Vincenzo Natali (Cube, Splice)
Visually stunning with fantastic effects, this is a very slick portrayal of a seemingly perfect future with a dark twist. Straight forward, with the simple message that perfection isn’t necessarily all that great being portrayed very effectively without being totally overt. 9/10.

V is for Vacation – Directed by Jerome Sable (Stage Fright)
A guy videocalls his girlfriend from his hotel while on holiday, the entire short being seen as though we are looking at the girlfriend’s phone. It’s pulled off pretty well but the plot amounts to little more than an excuse for nudity & gore. 5/10.

W is for Wish – Directed by Steven Kostanski (Manborg)
If you saw Manborg you know what to expect from this short, featuring two boys who wish themselves into the world of their favourite toys with gruesome results. It features the same deliberate, faux-retro visual style mixing squishy practical effects, miniatures & stop motion creatures together with some ropey greenscreen work. It looks terrible and the acting is awful, but just like Manborg it’s all clearly deliberate and somehow being so bad makes it fantastic. 9/10.

X is for Xylophone –Directed by Julien Maury & Alexandre Bustillo (Inside & Livid)
A little girl is playing her toy Xylophone as her mother sits by. This compact short ends on a mortifying, taboo-breaking image that genuinely shocked me, and crucially makes that seem like a good thing. An understated gothic styling really adds another layer to this short. 9/10.

y is for youthY is for Youth – Directed by Soichi Umezawa
A teenage girl fantasises about various brutal & imaginative ways for her abusive & neglectful parents to die. Her internal monologue narrates the gruesome and totally bizarre imagery, all pulled off with rudimental but effective practical effects. I think it could only be a Japanese short that could manage so well in portraying hilariously ridiculous visuals whilst simultaneously invoking genuine sympathy for the main character. Very basic filming works in its favour, with some fantastic editing elevating it further. 9/10.

Z is for Zygote – Directed by Chris Nash
Dark fantasy & body horror meet in this twisted short about a woman eating mysterious roots to prolong her pregnancy while waiting for her husband to return from wherever he’s gone. The child continues to grow however, and the effects are fantastic at selling impossible to comprehend images. Defying the odds, it gets many times more horrifying before the end. I loved this short but if I met the person who dreamt these images up I don’t know if I’d shake their hand or run away! 9/10.

All in all, it’s obviously a mixed bag, but that is unavoidable when 26 very different directors are given free reign. That said, the good outweighs the bad and there are very only a small handful of segments that I thought were awful. While many anthologies have the luxury of mixing the order to perhaps bury a poorer segment in between particularly good ones for example, ABCs restricts itself to a definite order, so there are some unfortunate low points, particularly in the middle from K to M, but luckily the last 4 are consistently some of the strongest in the whole film.

It’s interesting also to see how many segments take the opportunity to say something, rather than just being exploitative. Speaking of which, sit through (or fast-forward) the gargantuan credit sequence for a cool post-credits scene with a cameo from a certain controversial figure. Taking an average of my scores for the shorts works out to about 6.5/10 and actually, factoring in the cool styling between segments and generally the fact that I love the whole idea, despite the restrictions of the anthology format meaning it’s not consistently great from start to end, I think that’s near enough right.
7/10.