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Zombie Lake (1981) Review

rsz_zlZombie Lake (1981) aka Le lac des morts vivants

Director: Jean Rollin

Starring: Howard Vernon, Pierre-Marie Escourrou, Anouchka

Out NOW on UK DVD from Black House Films!

Back in the 1980s there’s no denying that as a film genre Horror was at one of it’s highest peaks in terms of creativity, we saw the likes of Jason Voorhees slicing through our anxiety to Freddy Krueger making insomnia suffers blessed. Debuts by characters that are both highly regarded as the figureheads of the horror culture we live in today.

Amongst many classics during this period today we delve into Jean Rollin’s Zombie Lake. Jean originating from France sadly left us back in 2010 however is remembered for his unique cinematography, off-kilter plot progression and poetic dialogue which showed us the likes of The Living Dead Girl and The Night of the Hunted.

Zombie Lake is no exception to these sentiments. Set in a quiet rural village somewhere in France post World War II. Zombie Lake opens in a very Jaws-esque manner. A young local girl decides to take a mid-afternoon stroll followed by a casual skinny dip, little does she know there’s something lurking in the depths. The soothing sound of what can only be described as elevator music provided by composer Daniel White accompanies the opening. One can only assume that it was Jean’s intention to make the audience feel at ease prior to all hell breaking loose.

zl2After a savage attack by what everyone’s expectations of a zombie should be, green, angry and ready to eat the terror off someone’s face, there is a slight difference as these aren’t your traditional Zombies these are Nazi Zombies. Word travels fast throughout the village and grabs the attention of the village Major portrayed by Swiss actor Howard Vernon, who makes a very convincing job of knowing something that the audience do not at this stage of the film.

Very much a slow burner, after a brief back story of how the terror came to fruition the film very quickly changes its pace when a group of teenagers decide to go for a refreshing dip in the now suitably named The Damned Lake. Very much like the lives of the teenagers sadly this change in pace is short lived.

Although at times Zombie Lake tends to be lacklustre, you can’t deny that when it gets to the point where it’s about to go bat shit it is executed in a brilliant way. I also feel that Zombie Lake could have benefited from having a lot more gore within certain scenes. I couldn’t help but think while watching this that George A Romero’s 1978 classic Dawn of the Dead must have been a key influence on the making of this film overall.

zl3In 2017 Nazi Zombies are predominantly a lot more present in popular culture however in the 80s this was a completely new take on the zombie concept . It’s easy to see how Zombie Lake has influenced modern takes on this concept such as the Dead Snow films and even the Call of Duty Video game franchise.
Slow burner or not Zombie Lake is definitely worth the time of any zombie based film enthusiast.
This certainly won’t leave you wanting to go Skinny dipping, or will it? 😉

5/10

Grave Walkers (2015) Review

gw1Grave Walkers (2015)

Starring: Charlene Amoia, Vladimir Kulich and Tony Todd
Writer: Ari Kirschenbaum
Director: Ari Kirschenbaum

Out NOW on DVD from Matchbox Films

Supernatural forces are locked into a college town police force’s basement jail. The sheriff and his deputies are subjected to psychic attacks, preying on the fears of the loyal officers and only those with the strongest wills can survive.

Grave Walkers begins in black and white on a Halloween night. We see Deputy Hancock (Charlotte Amoia from How I Met Your Mother, NCIS: New Orleans and Adrenaline) having to put an injured stag out of its misery. Hancock gets called to a nearby incident, because of the date it’s suspected to be a college prank, and in those first few minutes we’re subjected to some of the film’s most unsettling scenes.

Hancock comes face to face with a zombie/demon, complete with glowing eyes and malicious intent. In the monochrome lighting, this has the same sinister verismo quality that can be seen in found-footage horror, such as the night scenes in Blair Witch. Hancock has little resource available to her except to cuff the zombie/demon and take the creature back to the local sheriff’s jail.

gw3One of the most innovative ideas in this film is the demon’s malevolent influence on those nearby. Sheriff Pete (Vladimir Kulich from The 13th Warrior, The Equalizer, Vikings and Angel) doesn’t see the creature as a zombie/demon: he sees his hated late father. Deputy Eric (J, Richey Nash from Hitting the Cycle, Staying Alive and Bat $#*! Crazy) doesn’t see the creature as a zombie/demon: he sees the Bear Mountain Killer – the sadist whose reign of terror inspired Eric to join the police force. Others see the zombie/demon as specific menaces from their pasts and, each of them wants to kill this perceived nemesis.

Deputy Hancock, most strong-willed of the group, has to repeatedly threaten violent repercussions to anyone who attempts to take the law into their own hands.

I’ll admit here that this movie didn’t work for me. The film started off scary. There were flashes of colour between the black and white footage, disturbing images that were bloody and diabolical. But, halfway through, the film seemed to become a comedy and the serious themes were transformed into a comical pastiche. Don’t get me wrong: there is something vaguely absurd about the notion of zombies and humour can often work as a counterpoint to horror. This worked to good effect in Shaun of The Dead, Zombieland and Me and My Mates Vs the Zombie Apocalypse.
However, in Grave Walkers, the balance struck me as a little off.

gw2The film begins as a credible horror, and then seems to drift into comedy – as though the horror is no longer working. The black and white footage is atmospheric but the shifts into colour break the suspension of disbelief. When the film does shift fully into colour, similar to the shift Dorothy experiences when she lands at the foot of the yellow brick road in The Wizard of Oz, it’s another reminder of the artifice of the narrative.

There were some great ideas in Grave Walkers and, if the film had stuck to being either a horror or a comedy, it might have managed its aims far more successfully. The special effects were sophisticated and convincing. The notion of characters becoming undone by the exacerbation of their own private hatreds was ingenious. And, of course, Tony Todd (Candyman, House of Grimm and the Final Destination franchise) is a bankable addition to any horror film. His pot-smoking pastor, who faces a hoard of glowing-green-eyed zombie/demons, was one of the genuine highlights of the latter half of the film.

gw4In truth, I can see that this one would prove entertaining for many. The film was original, innovative and stylish in places. My only issue was, whilst it was stylish in places, sometimes the film seemed to sacrifice substance and story for the sake of style: 5/10.

Train To Busan (2016) Review

ttb1TRAIN TO BUSAN (2016)

Dir: Sang-ho Yeon

Starring: Yoo Gong, Soo-an Kim, Yu-mi Jeong, Dong-seok Ma, Gwi-ha Choi, Myung-sin Park, Soo-jung Ye, Eui-sung Kim

UK cinema release: 28 October from StudioCanal

Train to Busan is 28 Days Later on a train in Korea. If that description appeals to you (and it really, really should) you’re going to love it. If not, well, let me convince you.

The plot really is that simple, Seok Woo (Yoo Gong) a divorcee fund manager is escorting his daughter Su-an (Soo-an Kim) back across the country to her mother by train. The pair are joined on their journey by fellow passengers including a pregnant woman, Sung Gyeong (Yu-mi Jeong) and her burly no-nonsense husband Sang Hwa (Dong-seok Ma); some high school students, including a baseball team; elderly sisters In-gil (Soo-jung Ye) and Jong-gil (Myung-sin Park); middle-aged self-centred businessman Yong-Suk (Eui-sung Kim); and an agitated homeless man (Gwi-ha Choi) who has snuck onboard without a ticket.

ttb2However he isn’t the only unauthorised passenger – just as the train departs an injured girl jumps onboard… narrowly escaping a bloody massacre on the platform.

As the train crosses the country the passengers become aware of a wave of violence sweeping through Korea caused by a mysterious virus, and they soon come face-to-face with the problem when the wounded girl succumbs to her injuries.

What follows is a tense battle for survival against mindless blood-thirsty undead as the train rattles along the tracks… But what will be waiting for them at their destination?

I’ll cut straight to it — Train to Busan is the best zombie film I’ve seen this year (although I’ve yet to catch The Girl With All The Gifts). The story isn’t the most original (right down to the obligatory dastardly human villain) but it is an intense, action-packed and solidly plotted zombie flick.

The cast are all very good, with the standouts being gung ho action man Dong-seok Ma, lead Yoo Gong and little Soo-an Kim, who is a real revelation for her tender years.

ttb3But as good as the cast are, it’s the full-on, intense action sequences that are the film’s biggest stars.  Remember the pulse-pounding chase scenes in 28 Days Later and its sequel? Or the high-octane violence of Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead? Well, now you’re picturing all the best parts of this film.

Wringing every drop of claustrophobia from its compact train setting, plus some stunning practical and digital effects, the thrills and chills in this film come from the reckless, ravenous undead hurling their bodies over one another in a frantic attempt to sink their teeth into the survivors.

Forget Romero’s shuffling ghouls, these are zombies that will run you down and rip you to shreds, and director Sang-ho Yeon shoots each and every setpiece flawlessly.

However, it’s not all blood, guts and adrenaline. The script is tight and driven by some very effective characterisation. There are plenty of reasons to sympathise with our leads, especially as Seok Woo evolves from an aloof and distant dad as he comes to realise the true meaning of fatherhood. There’s something inherently sympathetic about expectant mothers and young children, so we’ve got plenty to invest in emotionally.

ttb4The story is even pretty clever with its zombies — the use of the undead’s reliance on visual stimuli makes for some very novel, tense sequences as the train hurtles through darkened tunnels.What’s more, the film is prepared to go big when necessary, with some extremely expensive looking sequences late on that remain utterly convincing and seriously compelling.

Train to Busan is not a game-changer, but it’s the best entry to a genre that many people feel has grown stale in a long, long time. It offers thrills, gore, interesting characters and a surprising amount of heart.

In short, you really do need to get onboard.

8/10

 

Five Zombie Apocalypses To Make You Cry

Five Zombie Apocalypses To Make You Cry

The modern zombie is possibly the only monster to have been able to saturate all forms of media with their presence. With zombie mods being available for countless video games and classic literature being re-written to feature brain-munching ghouls, zombies have become a huge part of horror pop culture. For some people it is too much, they would be happier if maybe zombies need to take a dirt nap for a while. However there are certain gems in the moaning, gory horde that is the zombie sub-genre that speak more deeply than your average apocalypse. Zombie stories have always been good at spotlighting humanity at both it’s brightest and darkest. They highlight how we can work together and how we can destroy each other. Here’s my list of FIVE Zombie Apocalypses that will tug at your heart strings.

cs the last of usThe Last Of Us

This Playstation exclusive survival horror game is heralded as a masterpiece, that follows the story of Joel and Ellie as they make their way across country, in hopes of finding a cure for the Cordyceps virus, a virus that turns people into violent, fungi-encrusted zombies.

The Last of Us pulls no punches emotionally, starting off with a prologue that will make you weep as Joel’s daughter dies as the world falls apart. That sets the tone of the whole story as Joel reluctantly takes the job of transporting Ellie across country. Ellie’s role as a friend, a saviour, and a surrogate daughter to Joel makes the story both so engrossing but also tragic as the two face tough decisions.

cs school liveSchool Live! (Gakko Gurashi!)

An anime series adapted from the manga of the same name, is a rare mix of tragic zombie survival and cute Slice of Life storytelling. Impossible not to spoil without just showing you the first episode, School Live! has one of the greatest plot twists to open a television show.

What starts off as a cute anime of school friends whose quirk is being part of a club that lives in the school, it drops tiny subtle hints that not everything is right in the world. Our main protagonist, Yuki Takeya is just so goofy and happy that you won’t see it coming, that all the brightness and joy at the school is all fantasy. Takeya has lost herself in denial that anything is wrong and it’s up to her friends to not only survive but try to maintain her sanity. This is made harder as the group suffer brutal losses that rock not only Takeya but the whole group.

cs Walking Dead s1The Walking Dead: Season One

To clarify, I’m speaking of Telltale Games’ excellent point and click adventure game rather than the AMC television show. A separate story from the Rick Grimes tales told in the comics and the show, The Walking Dead follows Lee and Clementine, a man and girl who are forced together during a zombie apocalypse. Lee has agreed to help Clementine find her parents, and teaches her to survive along the way.

While a lot of the emotional moments of this game stem from the father/daughter relationship between Lee and Clementine, there is plenty more heartbreaking moments. As Lee you are forced to make many life or death decisions that can be fairly traumatic at times. You also have to watch the lives of your companions spiral out of control, which makes this game deeply emotional. I have a bias toward The Walking Dead over The Last of Us due to having played this one first, and I rate this one higher for making me feel too many damn things.

cs afterlife with archieAfterlife With Archie

I bet you’d never expect to find an Archie comic on this list. Neither would I before reading it. A monumentally dark comic from one of the most iconic American cartoon franchises. While the story is not that original for a zombie story, it has a potency when it comes to the characters. The shiny happy world of Archie falls apart and it’s often uncomfortable to read as Archie and friends have to watch their friends, families and even pets succumb to the zombie infection.

I don’t want to go into too much detail with this one, it’s a rough ride and it’s better going in with only prior knowledge of the usually idyllic world of Archie Comics.

cs train to buscanTrain to Busan

The newest of all the zombie stories on the list, Train to Busan is a Korean zombie film that is much more than just Zombies on a Train. Following Seok-Woo and his daughter as he tries to prove himself as more than just a ineffectual father, he takes her on the train to Busan and to her mother.

Things quickly go off the rails (pun very much intended) as a chemical leak soon becomes a full blown zombie outbreak. The passengers of the train are soon whittled down to a group who seem to have the most to live for, including a heavily pregnant women and her husband, a high school couple, and a redemptive homeless man. There is a lot of emotional drama as the group get split up, loses people to the zombies, and through sacrificial moments. Train to Busan loves to build up characters just to dash them to pieces, much to the heartache of the audience. Definitely one to see if you get the chance.

So there it is, my list of heartbreaking, brain-munching zombie tales that will leave you with hurt feelings and a shortage of tissues. If you think I missed any feel free to comment below or tweet us at @UKHorrorScene.

Pandemic (2016) Review

pandemic1Pandemic (USA, 2016)

Dir: John Suits

Starring: Rachel Nichols, Missi Pyle, Alfie Allen

World Première 26th Feb 2016 at FrightFest Glasgow

UK DVD Release May 23rd 2016 from Platform Entertainment Limited

Plot: After a virus has infected most of the human race, the fight to find a cure is becoming desperate. With the symptoms of the virus turning people into mindless, violent zombies, it’s getting harder and harder to find those who are still uninfected. Amongst the search effort is Lauren, a doctor who is returning to Los Angeles from New York, in hopes of finding her husband and child.

The biggest selling point of Pandemic is that it is shot almost entirely from first person perspective. With previous films like the remake of Maniac showing that it can be done to great effect, and with the anticipation of other first person films such as Hardcore Henry, Pandemic promises to show what this style can do with the zombie sub-genre, a sub-genre so densely populated that it really requires something special to stand our amongst the brain-munching crowd. While Maniac chose to shoot the film directly from the perspective of their titular maniac, Pandemic relies on camera mounted hazmat masks so it’s already shifting into the more common territory of Found Footage. Also Pandemic switches vantage point between it’s four main survivors depending on who has the best shot during the scene. By this point we’re not really getting what we’ve been sold.

pandemic2What we do get is a fast-paced zombie survival story as the group follow their orders deep into the infected zone of Los Angeles. As the plan falls apart, the group start to break from their orders and do what’s important to them, specifically the rescue of Lauren’s family. Each stop along the way from the safe zone to their ordered rescue point to Lauren’s house, there are set pieces, normally focused on a significant zombie threat. Sadly the zombies are near identical, extras in make-up and fake blood. While the film’s first person perspective kind of feels like you’re playing Left 4 Dead, without the unique zombies, the special infected, it quickly becomes quite stale and boring. Pandemic could have used the other staple of zombie cinema, the savagery of human beings, to liven things up but it doesn’t do much with that either.

Combine Pandemic’s lack of interesting zombies, with it’s technical issues and it’s just not that good. It tries to get away with cheap looking CGI to try and make Los Angeles look more apocalyptic, as well as using shots of LA’s homeless community which just feels a bit exploitative. The other technical issue is that Pandemic suffers from lazy Found Footage issues, often breaking away from the first person perspective to random CCTV footage or dashboard cams when they’re chosen perspective doesn’t give them the shots they want. While the film doesn’t play to the found footage trope that the footage has actually been found and edited together, it’s still disappointing when they have to throw additional easy shots in there rather than working with the limitations of the style.

pandemic3I’d recommend this one for the hardcore zombie crowd, but I’d probably recommend something more interesting before I came to Pandemic. There’s not enough money-shots of zombies ripping people apart to get a visceral enjoyment from Pandemic and the plot is nothing that you haven’t seen in countless replays of Left 4 Dead.

3/10

I Am Alone (2015) Review

I Am Alone (USA, 2015)

Dir: Robert A. Palmer

Starring: Gareth David-Lloyd, Gunner Wright, Marshal Hilton

UK Release TBC

Plot: While filming the latest episode of reality survival show “I am alone” out in the Colorado wilderness, a zombie outbreak occurs. The show’s host Jacob Fitts (David-Lloyd) is out alone in the forest while his producer, Mason Riley (Wright) desperately searches for him. After living through the chaos, Riley ends up in a military stronghold and made to re-watch the footage recovered from both survivors to help the military figure out just what happened.

When it comes to making a low budget horror film there’s some genres that are considered easier to do on the cheap. There are countless zombie movies and found footage films that have been put together on a micro-budget. Those two sub-genres have crossed path many times with the likes of [REC], Diary of the Dead, and The Zombie Diaries to name a few. However just because you can do it, it doesn’t mean that it’s easy to make it good. I Am Alone is the second feature of director Robert A. Palmer, and I can’t comment on his first feature, yet it’s still early days in his career. I’d recommend that in his next feature, he steers clear of Found Footage.

The unique angle that Palmer uses to spin the zombie sub-genre is the crossover with survivalist reality television. Gareth David-Lloyd does his best Bear Grylls, although it mostly involves sitting around camp fires and talking to the camera. The majority of this film is Fitts and Riley making video diaries on the quiet moments from evading zombies. In a survival scenario, you’d think your vlogs might become a secondary priority after ensuring your own survival.

The film also includes a framing device that feels similar to the one in the VHS films, in which a scientist who has Riley locked in a military interrogation room needs him to watch the found footage because Fitts’ transformation into a zombie is slower than normal and the scientist believes that Riley’s intimate knowledge of Fitts might lead to a solution to this mystery and maybe a cure of the infection. It doesn’t really make any sense, watching the footage isn’t going to make Riley know his friend any better, especially the footage of himself. They make Riley watch the footage he recorded himself. Also an autopsy of Fitts would turn up more solutions that watching the footage. Also there’s a problem with the “Found” part of the Found Footage, the footage is made up of video from many different sources, including CCTV footage from various buildings Riley has been to. The military bunker they are holed up in is under siege by the zombies, I don’t know when they found the time to get it all together.

There’s a presumption that Found Footage films are easy to do. They are not easy to do well. I Am Alone makes the mistakes of many flawed Found Footage films. The biggest mistake is having too many cameras. Whenever Riley or Fitts has a moment to pour their heart out to the cameras they have always got two cameras on them at the very least. Fitts in particular who is supposed to be deteriorating mentally, still has the mental capacity to set up a second camera so they have something to edit between. Speaking of editing, the second error this film makes is that it uses too much editing, not only choosing the best angle for the moment but also adding a soundtrack. I’m sure that it was a big priority for the military to pick the best music to convey emotion while Riley watched.

On the zombie side of things, I Am Alone doesn’t bring too much to the table. The main focus is on Fitts’ slow transformation but it’s done much better in films like Contracted. Fitts’ gets the most extensive zombie make up in the cast but it’s very minimal and pretty standard. Everyone else sprayed with a little fake blood and sent on their way.

I Am Alone does try to be something bigger than the average indie zombie film by having multiple running story lines but those story lines don’t add up to anything more than scared men run around with cameras and occasionally make glum video diaries. It tries to be a big movie on a small budget but it doesn’t hit the mark. You would have thought that reality television and found footage would be perfect together, both try to take something fake and present it as real. However it just comes off as something kind of bland.

2/10

The Mothertown (2014) Review

MOTHERTOWN1The Mothertown (UK, 2014)

Dir: John Williams

Starring: Pete Bennett, Daniel Alexander, Maura Judges

Available to buy here – http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/The-Mothertown-DVD-/121815112138

Plot: After an experimental chemical is accidentally dropped into the water source for Stoke on Trent, the whole town becomes infected with a zombie virus. The Mothertown follows the various groups of survivors as they fight off the undead.

It’s impossible to talk about The Mothertown without mentioning the circumstances under which it was created. After undergoing surgery to remove a brain tumour, John Williams was told to take six months off work. While most people would submit to a six month purgatory of day time television, John Williams decided that his six months would be better spent making a zombie movie and that is a fantastic way to prioritise your time. The film that came out of that is an inspirational piece of indie film making.

Filmed on a budget of £500, The Mothertown is an example of what you can do with a micro-budget and the help of a community. Most low budget zombie films have a small cast with a half dozen extras for the zombies. The Mothertown had over a thousand extras taking to the streets of Stoke on Trent to take part is Williams’ zombie apocalypse. Not only that but you can really see that the community really collaborated with Williams, filling the soundtrack with local music, and pooling resources. Resources like drone footage, and parkour stunts.

mothertown2The film starts with a warning that there is no continuity in The Mothertown, although it’s not too bad on that front. The film has the limitations of it’s budget and chooses to put the money on it’s more elaborate set pieces. That means that the money isn’t spent on making sure that the audio or lighting is the best that it can be but it doesn’t matter. It’s a rough diamond but it’s still a diamond, and it’s roughness only adds to it’s DIY punk charm.

The plot is almost an anthology of different survival tales, bouncing around between different survivors before they meet up at the end to face the film’s climax together. While all the characters are dealing with the same problem they are all dealing with it in different ways and that’s what keeps this film interesting. Some are better than others but it has those differences that will make certain characters appeal to different parts of the audience. My personal favourite is the man who follows the instructions to stay at home and lock your doors, hilariously subversive as he survives just by following the rules.

While the film’s main threat is the zombies, there is one character who could be classed as the villain of The Mothertown, Keith the reporter. Played by Big Brother winner, Pete Bennett, he still has that manic attitude that he uses to great effect as the self-absorbed reporter who is exasperating the zombie apocalypse for his own gain. Definitely a stand out in the cast, Bennett is easily one of the film’s most interesting characters.

mothertown3While it lacks the polish of a big budget Hollywood feature, The Mothertown has the heart and passion of indie horror with a flavour that is unique to Stoke on Trent. A must-watch for fans of low budget cinema and aspiring film-makers alike. The Mothertown is currently available to buy on eBay for £5 which will be raising money for local charities – HERE.

8/10

Links to John Williams new film The Slayers

Website – http://www.theslayersmovie.com

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/The-Slayers-1555861784666895/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/theslayersfilm

Scouts Guide To The Zombie Apocalypse (2015) Review

ScoutsGuideZombieApocalypse_posterSCOUTS GUIDE TO THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE (2015)

Director: Christopher Landon

Stars: Tye Sheridan, Logan Miller, Joey Morgan, Sarah Dumont, David Koechner, Halston Sage, Niki Koss, Cloris Leachman

UK Cinema Release: 6th November by Paramount.

Ben (Tye Sheridan) and Carter (Logan Miller) are part of a tiny scout troop, led by Scout Leader Rogers (David Koechner). Long-term members, they have lost interest in scouting, instead finding themselves more into the opposite sex.

Ben has an unrequited crush on Carter’s older sister Kendall (Halston Sage) while Carter lusts after her vacuous pal Chloe (Niki Koss). But — despite their misgivings — the two have felt unable to quit the troop due to their friendship with earnest Augie (Joey Morgan). However, on the day of a camping trip to celebrate Augie earning his coveted Condor patch, the other two receive an invite to a party that Kendall and her friends will be attending.

That evening things don’t go to plan when first Scout Leader Rogers doesn’t show, then Augie catches the pair sneaking off. Heartbroken, he tells them to leave. But, as a deadly virus rips through the town, all three boys find their survival skills pushed to the limit…

scouts1Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse is the latest entry in the zomcom sub-genre. Now, unlike some horror-comedies that forget to actually be funny, Scouts Guide is hilarious.

From the opening scene in which a cleaner mimes and dances along to Iggy Azalea and Rita Ora’s Black Widow to some sidesplitting dialogue and some truly gross humour, this is a film that brings the laughs. However, I know there are people out there who will find the gratuitous T&A and bawdier elements puerile. If you enjoyed American Pie, you’ll dig this. If, however, gross-out comedies are not your thing, you may want to skip it.

Having a funnyman like Koechner doesn’t harm the film’s comedy-cred, but it’s not just the Anchorman star that delivers. The three young leads are excellent, each capturing the essence of their character (Sheridan’s Ben is the nice one, Miller’s Carter is the smart-alec, while Morgan’s Augie is the earnest nerd). Each is superb and all three are given their moments to shine, especially during the bloody climax.

scouts2What’s more, the striking Sarah Dumont shows acting chops to match her looks as she delivers a strong performance as Denise, the no-nonsense cocktail waitress that regularly saves the boys’ skins, even if hers isn’t the strongest arc. Elsewhere the wonderful Leachman ratchets up the laughs with a memorable turn as Carter’s crotchety cat-lady neighbour.

Of course the cast are only as funny as the material they’re given to work with. The writing team of director Christopher Landon (whose writing credits include the Paranormal Activity franchise), Emi Mochizuki and Carrie Evans, scripting Lona Williams’ story, do a fantastic job, coming up with some ace set pieces.

However, the script isn’t so shallow as to just give us a series of jokes — it also boasts some nice moments of real heart, most notably in the scenes exploring the friendship between the Ben, Carter and Augie. That Landon and his cinematographer Brandon Trost keeps the footage of the boys’ antics so eye-popping throughout is a real bonus, especially during the aforementioned kick-ass climactic battle and some frenetic chase sequences. This is an area in which many horror-comedies fall short, but Scouts Guide keeps the action exciting and, as is so important in the post Walking Dead zombie-movie landscape, the effects work is top notch, giving us some memorable zombies.

scouts3I’m loathe to spoil the finest moments here but suffice to say one zombie with a particularly gruesome facial injury at the heart of a hideous (and hilarious) set piece late on in the movie was especially horrible. Credit must go to Jared Baker’s crew, the folks at Atomic Fiction and everybody else who delivered the fantastic effects of the film. Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse is great fun — Superbad meets Zombieland. It combines a talented cast with some superb visuals and plenty of gross-out humour. It may not quite hit the heights of zomcom classics like Shaun of the Dead and the aforementioned Zombieland, but it is still a fine movie.

8/10

Nuclear Zombies from Area 51 announce Kickstarter and awesome cast !

nz1Nuclear Zombies from Area 51 announce Kickstarter and awesome cast !

Well-known stand-up comics Dante and Joey Medina will shuffle behind the lens for Golden Artists Entertainment’s Nuclear Zombies from Area 51.

Scream Queen Rebekah Kochan leads a cast that includes Shandalia White, Chris Salvatore, Daniel Skelton, Tiara Lanai, Ash Hollywood and porn legend Ron Jeremy.

“The movie takes place at a diner on Halloween night that’s being robbed near Area 51 where a terrible accident takes place – that accident kills half the people in the town; the other half are either turned into zombies or, if they’re in an enclosed area, they live and have to fight off zombies”, says Dante.

Dante and Kochan wrote the project. Dante, Kochan and Justin L.Jones (The Ouija Exorcism) produce.

To help cinematically contain the outbreak of undead, Golden Artists Entertainment have gone the crowd-funding route to contribute to the budget. You can donate to their Kickstarter here and watch video testimonials from the cast, including Ron Jeremy, here. For as little as $500 you can even end up in the film – as a zombie!

Nuclear Zombies From Area 51 coming to a blood-soaked screen near you in 2016!

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Grimmfest Saturday 3rd October 2015 – A Review

Grimmfest Saturday 3rd October 2015 – A Review

gf2015

So after the many highs of Friday I was hugely excited about Saturday which is usually the busiest day of the weekend. But as I got to bed around 3.30am I of course overslept meaning I missed the first film Excess Flesh. Hopefully we have a review soon but speaking to fellow patrons it was probably the most divisive film with either ‘I loved it’ or ‘I hated it’ – I found no middle ground.

I arrived in time for the Short Film Showcase but I only managed to catch –

dark_netDark_Net (2015)
Director – Tom Marshall
Starring – Johnny Vegas, Perry Fitzpatrick, Cheryl Marie Dixon

Anything starring Johnny Vegas is going to be worth watching isn’t it? Hell yeah and Dark_Net is no exception. Johnny plays Alan , a man who has been dumped by his girlfriend who has now moved on to another fella. So Alan explains to his friend Tony that he has been on the ‘dark net’ and managed to procure a hitman named Iceman47 who he asks to take out his love rival so he can get back his girl. But Alan has given Iceman47 his bank details and upon going to a pub Alan finds his bank card won’t be accepted as he has no funds in it.

So has Alan been scammed or could there really be a hitman available to hire on the deep , dark net?

Running at just 13 minutes dark_net is a very funny, dark short film that is well scripted and uses Mr Vegas perfectly. Something that should be tracked down and seen 8/10

I then had to duck out of the Short Film Showcase as I was interviewing Howl’s director Paul Hyett and star Rosie Day. You will be able to read the interview very soon here on UKHS! And by the way they were both amazing.

nightmaredvdThe Nightmare (2015)
Director – Rodney Ascher
Starring – Siegfried Peters, Stephen Michael Joseph, Yatoya Toy.

I was really looking forward to The Nightmare as a friend of a friend said it was the scariest film he had seen this year and also director Ascher was the guy behind Room 237.

So The Nightmare is a documentary about people who suffer from sleep paralysis. The film focuses on a group of people who tell what happens when they suffer sleep paralysis. They are unable to move , are visited by shadowy figures who circle their beds but they are unable to do anything about it or even scream. They explain they feel electric pulses before it happens and their may be alien or paranormal forces at work.

The scenes are re-enacted by the sufferers with some downright creepy effects. So part documentary, part horror film The Nightmare just doesn’t work. It skims over the whole sleep paralysis syndrome and tends to focus on the paranormal/alien forces. There is no mention of mental illness or how perhaps sleep paralysis could be a waking nightmare where the sleeper becomes trapped in a waking dream?

I personally felt that Rodney Ascher chose the subjects because of their extreme stories but then never pressed them on why they are having them rather he just let them explain their frankly absurd theories, and didn’t question anything.

I have suffered sleep paralysis (but no figures or aliens) and when I was young extreme nightmares and sleepwalking, but this was down to stress and anxiety, over time it calmed down and stopped. What I didn’t do (as many seemed to do on this film) is go on Google , join forums to talk to other sufferers and make YouTube videos getting hundreds of thousands of hits. It felt like people at times enjoying the online fame that the sleep paralysis has bestowed on them, and that by going online it somehow fuelled it.

There were no experts on the subject interviewed in the film and at times it felt somewhat scripted. It was one way traffic and full of hyperbole.

I don’t want this to come across as I am some unfeeling bloke, or these people are not truly suffering (because they really DO believe) but it felt like there could be some serious mental health issues here and peoples fears and issues are being used to make a film yet not help them. There was someone on it who explained the paralysis stopped when Jesus’ name was said and the figures were actually demons! So all normal there then. I found it very uncomfortable to watch and also after 10 minutes very boring. There were no issues resolved and by the end I had stopped paying attention and caring .

Not for me at all , a real let down 2/10

howl-hyett-posterHowl (2015)
Director – Paul Hyett
Starring – Ed Speleers, Holly Weston, Elliot Cowan, Rosie Day.

Next up was Howl, now I must admit I had already seen it before Grimmfest. So I nipped out of the screening and into the bar where I sat with director Paul Hyett and we talked for around an hour about our love of horror and genre cinema. I started on about Last House on The Left and Paul mentioned he loved the remake (which I have never seen) , so we chatted about remakes and found we both adored Franck Khalfoun’s Maniac (2012) which in my opinion is the best remake ever! But what a way to spend an hour! In the company of a hugely talented UK director ,a man who knows his horror and a damn nice fella!

But as for Howl just watch it as it is one of the best films of 2015, a claustrophobic creature feature that will make you laugh, wince and have a bloody good time. You can read UK Horror Scene writer Nick Trenchard’s fab review here – http://www.ukhorrorscene.com/howl-2015-dvd-review/ . And I totally concur – 8/10

SYNCHRONICITY-THUMBNAIL-2Synchronicity (2015)
Director – Jacob Gentry
Starring – Chad McKnight, AJ Bowen, Michael Ironside, Brianne Davis

Next up was one of my ‘unknowns’ (a film I intentionally shied away from any reviews etc). I knew virtually nothing about Synchronicity and not being a Sci-Fi aficionado I was interested to see if I could find a 2015 Sci-Fi feature that would wow me.

Synchronicity is complicated , but it is about time travel. And as we know time travel is complicated haha. Jim Beale (McKnight) believes he has invented a time machine but he only has enough money to open one end of the wormhole and needs to get billionaire investor Klaus Meisner (Ironside) on board so he can finish the project. But Meisner needs to see the machine running and working before he will confirm any investment. I hope this is right so far as going off a few notes and memory!!

Beale and his team send through a rare Dahlia and then they must find the identical match to prove their machine has worked. After the test Beale runs into the stunning Abby (Davies) and this is where things start to get complicated.

Synchronicity is set as Sci-Fi noir. It looks stunning and everything is subdued and low lighting is the name of the game. It is an ambitious film at the very least and in the whole works really well. There are a few timeframe issues and as there are so many threads running concurrently then it does lose momentum towards the end and some may find holes in the plot. But it is wonderful to have a director just go for it and it feels like Gentry had his hand in everything.

Synchronicity works and works well, it is visually stunning and keeps your attention until the end. You may need to rewatch , as I will as soon as it is released but I think it is worth it and it is great to see people are still pushing boundaries and making interesting and thoughtful sci-fi 7/10.

deathg1Deathgasm (2015)
Director – Jason Lei Howden
Starring – Milo Cawthorne, James Blake, Kimberley Crossman.

Oh my GOD! Deathgasm was THE film I wanted to see at Grimmfest. I must stand before you and profess my love for heavy metal (and all it’s subgenres) and my love for horror films (well I do run a horror website). But what I love more are the bastard hybrids when both collide. Think Trick or Treat (One of the best OST’s ever), Rock n Roll Nightmare (THOR), Black Roses, Rocktober Blood, Terror on Tour, SUCK, Phantom of the Paradise, The Gate, Hard Rock Zombies , ANOES 3 Dream Warriors (Dokken anyone?) etc etc.

BUT most are shit, and I want a new horror metal film to love and cherish.

Deathgasm starts like a fucking train , I was spellbound. It had the music, the imagery the feeling of being a kid at school, an outcast, someone who stood out and stood up for their love of metal!!

Then it gets better as the horror kicks in!!

Deathgasm is a metalhead’s wet dream, great music, superb visuals and MASSIVE in-jokes. Yeah we can sit there and chuckle to the jokes ‘normals’ don’t get. Anyway onto the film. Brodie (Cawthorne) moves in with his aunt, religious uncle and jock cousin , he is a metal head and finds it hard to settle in until at the local record store he meets Zakk!! So Brodie, Zakk along with nerds Dion & Giles form a band ‘Deathgasm’.

After a series of events , which I won’t mention as to stay as spoiler free as possible, the boys accidentally recant an ancient script and unleash something beyond even their dark imaginations could ever process.

Deathgasm is just a wonderful film, and you don’t need to be into metal to appreciate it. It is self referential in it’s humour which is something so fresh and just so perfect for the film. The blood and gore are way OTT so fit just fine. The bands video shoot was also something of pure genius , I was in stitches. And I will say the large crowd were loving it too, a real festival hit.

It is obvious Jason Lei Howden is a talent and knows what he is doing, but also the casting was spot on as was the script, scenery and FX. Almost every facet of Deathgasm works and works so fucking well.

Heavy metal goes with Horror and vice-versa, and Deathgasm nailed it and smashed it out of the park. If you are going to see a film this Halloween make it Deathgasm , it should be on countrywide but alas it isn’t. So track it down and if you can watch it on the big screen with like-minded fans and I promise you will have a blast!

I was expecting to like Deathgasm but I didn’t !! I fucking LOVED it! 9/10 \m/\m/

wash1We Are Still Here (2015)
Director – Ted Geoghegan
Starring – Barbara Crampton, Andrew Sensenig, Lisa Marie

Last of the night was Ted Geoghegan’s Lucio Fulci homage We Are Still Here. And as I had already seen it I decided to get home and get some much needed shut-eye.

I really enjoyed the look, feel and acting in We Are Still Here but felt it was a little light on substance and had a real lack of depth. Crampton was (as always) wonderful and the aesthetics are wonderful. I need to see this again and maybe I will enjoy it a little more.

6/10

I really should have waited and watched on the big screen but when the sandman calls!!

For a full review of We Are Still Here please read Steven Hickey’s excellent article, and Steven totally loved it so what do I know? Haha read it here – http://www.ukhorrorscene.com/we-are-still-here-2015-review/

So that was Saturday, a little less hectic with less films but still DEATHGASM!!! So the day was a triumph and the less said about The Nightmare the better. And please stay tuned for my next review for the last day of Grimmfest 2015 – coming soon!!