Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Lilin's Brood (2015)

Review written for @bcrising

After hitting something in the road a news team find themselves visiting a brothel which may throw some light on their investigation. The W.H.I.S.T.L.E team's recovered footage which will reveal their encounter. 

Some Sirius Ship Productions were kind enough to share a screener with us of Lilin's Brood. Writer/directors Artii Smith and P.W. Simon (A.K.A Mansa Mojo Brothas) cleverly tap into the popular Jewish legend, a redressed favourite among modern occult followers. Lets face it the found footage genre has been done to death but it still has its place and fans. This also includes interview like segments. To Smith and Simon's credit with the investigative news angle it gives their offering a palatable excuse as to why the cameras should still be rolling. There's sacrifice, seduction and although there's many dim and dark scenes it's a crisp piece of work, finely shot and staged that develops slowly with a  R.V, blood trails, torchlight and female flesh on display. 

The film features Martin Sensmeier, Maxine Goynes (who is quite naturalistic) and Melinda Milton. Actors Brent King, Martin Sensmeier and Arti Smith offer some comic relief and weight.

Don't expect the recent Devil's Pass or Exists, it's a low budget thriller tale (and more interesting than many found footage films out there) with plenty of effort on display. The editing could arguably be tighter and some of the dialogue debatably delivered better but I'm not complaining - as without Lilin's Brood the world wouldn't have it's clever movie poster (you must check it out). 

Although the cinematic style is slightly worn there's plenty of mysterious atmosphere and a few jump scares thrown in to keep you watching. Overall, for those who like occult themed and found footage flicks Lilin's Brood is quirky enough to hold interest.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Night of the Living Dead: Darkest Dawn (2015)

The dead have come back to life and a group of survivors take shelter in a city apartment building.

I must admit was was really looking forward to the retelling of a classic, Night of the Living Dead: Darkest Dawn, (formally Night of the Living Dead: Origins) especially given the horror talent involved. Directed by Krisztian Majdik, Zebediah De Soto their animated CGI effort echoes the likes of the Resident Evil Damnation and Resident Evil: Degeneration.

What it lacks with the video game like presentation it makes up for with its great voice characterisations. There's the talent and animated likeness of horror favourites Tony Todd, Bill Moseley (both reprising their characters, at least in name, from the 1990 remake), Danielle Harris (Halloween IV & V), Joseph Pilato (Day of the Dead) and character actor Tom Sizemore (Saving Private Ryan).

Following the 1968's narrative there's a few interesting story tweaks that are welcomed on the refreshing contemporary city set backdrop. With countless rip offs and cash-ins already made, fans who like original may be pleased, as this is arguably one of the better adaptations since Savini's 1990 remake. 

While the visual graphic aesthetics aren't too hot, frankly a little disappointing (and another remake is unnecessary) the voice work and story changes make it worth a viewing.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Hades (2015)

  Reviewed for
Horror Cult Exploitation Film Blu-ray and DVD News and Reviews.
A woman is trapped in a dream like state which appear to represent various stages of her relationship.
Watching films can sometime be dull, but occasionally the planets align and you get to view something quite stirring. Austrian director Kevin Kopacka offers a genuine haunting piece of art house film with a kitchen sink of camera tricks, sound design and lighting effects. Following a series of individual arresting sequences actor Anna Heidegger's organic beauty and fine performance really enchants as you journey through her nightmare. It has a universal standing as theres little, if any dialogue, its all about visuals and Kopacka delivers more treats in his experimental short than many features manage to do.
This Berlin made short film (just shy of fifteen minutes) unfolds like a Steven Berkoff play of uneasiness. Broken up by title cards Kopacka injects Giallo's horror and psychological thriller elements into his piece. He also throws in for good measure elements reminiscent of Kubrick's The Shining and a cross section of Lynch's work to name a few, successfully borrowing from the some of the best with lingering long corridors, locked doors, shadowy figures and silhouettes. Shots with glimpses of things that seemingly supernaturally move, notable are the eerie bed clothes. There's also the haunting stillness of faces, sunsets and hazy memories.
Is it paramount that you analyse writer H.K. DeWitt's take on the five rivers of the realm of Hades and their symbolic meanings? Possibly, but it's not important, as Kopacka's Hades is about how it makes you feel with its unrelenting pressure and a sense of all-pervading paranoia and dread. The short is almost pure cinema and comes highly recommended.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Green Inferno @EliRoth's cannibal disco with @lorenzaizzo

*** This review may contain cannibal spoilers ***

A group of students travel to the Amazon to save the rain-forest and villagers habitat but soon find themselves in deathly hot water.

Eli Roth returns to his directing roots in this cautionary horror tale which harks back to the golden age of 80's exploitation films like Cannibal Holocaust (1980) and Cannibal Ferox (1981). 

Roth effectively sets up the reassuring false sense of security within the first act introducing the characters. Naturally these unsuspecting victims will later become part of a graphic (twist) plan crash and later tribal fodder. Roth executes the crescendo tension and madness to follow effortlessly. Its horrific with amputation, mutilation, blood, gore and wince inducing torture which debatably exceeds the nature of films it pays homage to. The special effects are exceptional, bodies on wooden stakes and decapitated heads to name a few.

Lorenza Izzo's Justine is particularly notable and shoulders the weight of the first 45 minute build up to join the activists then excels in the latter half sporting make-up to rival the look of Hell of the Living Dead's Margit Evelyn Newton. When the group arrive at the village (briefly seen in the opening) the film's tone become ominous and thanks to the jungle setting and local extras fortifies its authenticity. Likable actors Aaron Burns and Nicolás Martínez stand out and Richard Burgi briefly appears as Justine's yuppie father.

Reminiscent of Ti West's The Sacrament (2013) in terms of structure that mirrors the likes of Roth's own Hostel & Hostel part II and Aftershock (2012) which he produced, Roth sticks to his successful blue print and along with writer Guillermo Amoedo's adds a little twist delivering much more than a generic torture porn but a film with social commentary at its core. 

Perfectly executed, no pun intended, wonderfully detailed, those familiar with the genre will know what they're in for (for everyone else there's Roth's forthcoming commercial outing MEG) but as for cannibal films arguably they don't come better than the sub-genre defining Green Inferno.

Monday, 2 November 2015

Ash vs Evil Dead (2015)

*** This review may contain we're going to get you spoilers ***

After picking up a woman at a bar and banging her from behind Ash gets a warning reminding him of an evil he encountered 30 years ago. With the book of dead in his possession he realises he may have to face up to a little mistake and save his town.

In terms of cult horror nostalgia Ash versus the Evil Dead captures the tone of the films perfectly thanks to Sam Raimi's foundation setting direction of the debut episode El Jefe.

Raimi offers floating P.O.V forest shots, blood, gore, twisted heads and demonic voices within the first 12 minutes. Later there's Vaule Stop stockroom action with a maniac toy doll and flashback exposition using the first two films. Raimi throws in more floating P.O.V shots this time in a car park, there's creepy demon faces in a diner, a Lucio Fulci eye tribute and Lucy Lawless for good measure. To top the episode off a cop investigates the odd occurrences and Ash teams up with two co- workers to take on a demon in an action packed caravan showdown.

Bruce Campbell is outstanding and intriguingly expands the character of aged Ash Williams. Written by Raimi, Ivan Raimi and Tom Spezialy the first episode's production values are high, many of the effects are first rate, the horror delivers scares and the comedy is on sleazy point.

As one of newest batch of film properties becoming TV shows this encapsulates the essence of the Evil Dead, basically it's a chainsaw-handed, reluctant demon hunter fan's dream.

La casa 3 a.k.a Ghosthouse (1988)

A radio recording prompts a couple to investigate an old house, they join up with a group of teens and make the silly decision to explore the house where the spirit of a little girl reside.

Directed by Umberto Lenzi under the pseudonym of Humphry Hubert and released as La casa 3 (to cash in on The Evil Dead) it's arguably one of Lenzi's most conventional films. Unfortunately it's hampered by a clunky script, some disjointed scenes and gobbledygook elements synonymous with Italian horror exploitation films.

In the golden age of practical effects Lenzi offers a stabbing with shears, a little hammer carnage and a character being cut in half. As the group are killed off one by one there's also maggot infested knife wielding (a pre Wes Craven Scream-like cloaked) skeleton, taps spurting blood, severed heads, exploding light bulbs and jars, a Clown Doll (reminiscent of the one in Poltergeist) and also an obligatory 80s shock ending. With a possessed camper van there's all the ingredients you'd expect as the mystery unfolds and they track down the origin of the evil.

Plodding pacing aside there's some good nostalgia value in Ghost House right down to the CB radios. The house and its location are creepy (it also appears in Lucio Fulci's The House by the Cemetery) and the ghost of the girl gives a few chills.

While it's no Fulci classic, Lenzi offers some gory kills but what will stay under your skin long after the credits is the genuinely disturbing, eerie, repetitive verse.

Friday, 30 October 2015

Nurse (2013)

Abby Russell is a dedicated nurse, but by night she kills cheating men. Things go awry for the perfect murderer when she becomes infatuated with a one night stand. 

Reminiscent of American Psycho and what could have been a more fitting sequel than American Psycho 2 it's well shot by director Doug Aarniokoski with wit and campy coolness as Abby (Paz de la Huerta) murders cheating men and obsesses over co-worker Danni played with finesse by Katrina Bowden. 

Writer David Loughery successfully takes a leaf from of Single White Female. Aarniokoski embraces its B-movie trashiness yet still manages to highlight the dangers of date rape drugs and non-consensual sex and internet photos. It's not DTV material, it's filmatic and looks modestly budgeted with good production values. There's a fitting noir voice over from De la Huerta who also offers a great performance. The effects are great, there's a high body count and plenty of gruesome fun to enjoy.

Yes there's naked flesh on display but this should not to be labelled as a gratuitous lurid exploitation flick and although the title is somewhat misleading, Nurse is ridiculously compulsive, horrific and sexy from start to finish with a memorable crazy central character played excellently. 

Certainly a horror worth checking out.

The Midnight Hour (1985)

After a group of teenagers unlock a centuries-old curse on Halloween a town becomes overrun by the demons of hell from zombies to witches.

Made in 1985 when TV movies still looked filmatic, TV specials were still special and had good production values, The Midnight Hour certainly to an outside America viewer is an obscure ABC Halloween treat. Directed by Jack Bender there's some great make up monster effects and it's far from a mediocre made-for-TV horror comedy. With homages to The Wolfman, Dracula and the more recent Night of the Living Dead and Thriller there's plenty of cobwebs, graves and gate crashed suburban Halloween parties to hold attention.

As with the risen from the dead 50s cheerleader Sandy (Jonna Lee) highlighting the differences of 1985, that's The Midnight Hour biggest hook as now plays a great piece of 80s nostalgia. There's also a subplot love story town in amongst the TV horror shenanigans. With almost every horror track from Blue Moon to The Smith's How Soon is Now there's also (The Terminator) Brad Fiedel's ambitious fitting score.

The cast are 
above average and include the stunning Shari Lynn Belafonte, LeVar Burton, Jonna Lee, Dedee Pfeiffer as Mary Masterson, Kurtwood Smith cameos and Macaulay Culkin makes a brief debut.

Not too scary for junior children, werewolf, vampires, zombies, ghouls, and goblins add up to on screen creepy campy fun, you can't go wrong.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Dead Pulse free Halloween 2015

As a thank you, free for one day only, Halloween 2015! Download the top ranking zombie adventure romp Dead Pulse ebook. 

If you can't wait, order the paperback today and get the ebook free.

Have a great spooky time.

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Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Howl (2015) last train, full moon, all change.

A down on his luck train ticket inspector gets more than he bargained for when his train breaks down and creatures that lurk in the surrounding forest lay siege to diverse group of passengers.

Director Paul Hyett keeps the suspense moving at consistent British rail pace. Echoing Severance, an unlikely band of people have to come together to survive, Hyett handles the blood and gore particularly well with excitedly executed guts and intermittent beasties set ups. The practical special effects are fantastic and out shine the visual CGI shots. The creature design is a mix of Dog Soldiers and mid transformation of the Howling's werewolves and comes off quite creepy when remaining hidden in the dim light. The station and forest setting give the film some weight and Paul E. Francis' music adds impact to the train attack segments. 

Writers Mark Huckerby and Nick Ostler offer an appealing idea with the stranded train passengers trapped in the middle of no where surrounded by werewolf-like creatures. A minor quibble is that at times Howl is a little choppy and uneven and the character are arguably not as polished as they could be. Lead actor Ed Speleers (channeling Max Beesley) is effective enough as he tries to step up to the mark and control the desperate situation as the characters are picked off one by one. 

There's a welcomed extended cameo from Sean Pertwee as the train driver Tony. Sam Gittins (a dead ringer of Taron Egerton) is notable as any everyday student who tries to fix the train. The Descents Shauna Macdonald also appears as Kate and Elliot Cowan (Alexander) puts in a good performance as unscrupulous Adrian.

Against public expectation and want, refreshingly it omits the quips of Dog soldiers, WolfCop and American Werewolf in London to name a few. And while it isn't quiet as tense or serious to match the Howling, Late Phases or The Descent somber tone it has feet of its own thanks it's original atmospheric train setting, creature design and gore. The creepy old lady makeup stands out as particularly memorable and eerie.

With a modest budget in a sea of werewolf TV shows, DTV and sub-par sub genre films this stands out as one of the better additions.