Friday, 25 April 2014

The Raid 2: Berandal


The Raid was a huge success. Slick but brutal, it brought the martial arts movie into fresh stylistic territory, showcasing numerous ground-breaking on-screen fight sequences and throwing the spotlight on traditional Indonesian martial art of Silat. In doing so, writer and director Gareth Evans set the bar high for the genre - and for himself...

Full review here:

Friday, 11 April 2014

Let The Right One In [THEATRE]


Let The Right One In is an eerie yet alluring masterpiece that tells the story of lonely, bullied teen Oskar (Martin Quinn) who falls for the new girl-next-door, Eli (Rebecca Benson). But Eli has a dark secret that Oskar is unaware of: she's a vampire, and survival depends on killing locals for their blood, with the helping hand of deeply-besotted human ex-lover Hakan (Clive Mendus). But when the town's search for the notorious 'murderer' gathers pace, their position is compromised, and Eli and Oskar's blossoming relationship must face the truths.

Until 27th September, Let The Right One In will turn the Apollo Theatre stage crimson....

Full review here:

Monday, 7 April 2014

Doctor Mordrid


A traditional superhero B-movie with all the flashy, low-budget sci-fi conventions and trashy dialogue of its championing fifties predecessors, Doctor Mordrid an entertaining movie that deserves a new audience...

Full review here:

Monday, 10 March 2014

The Machine


The Machine is a sassy British sci-fi movie that breaths new life and a brave vision into the genre...

Full review here:

Monday, 24 February 2014

Wake in Fright


After being lost for almost thirty years and having gone through almost a decade of restoration work, Ted Kotcheff’s 1971 controversial Australian thriller, Wake in Fright, is finally set for a proper UK DVD release...

Full review here:

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Big Ass Spider!


If the legendary arachnid adventures in Eight Legged Freaks and Arachnophobia weren't enough to prove the insect may deserve just a sideline presence in the creature feature, director Mike Mendez brings a new spider to town. And this time it's an even bigger, even more cacophonous one.

Full review here:

Wednesday, 29 January 2014


PIN ****

Adapted from Andrew Neiderman’s novel, Pin is a sinister thriller that both compels and disturbs in its exploration of psychological fragmentation and moral deviation. Arrow Films brings the classic 1980s horror back to life as part of its sub-label, ArrowDrome....

Full review here:

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Clean Break


Shown at a sold-out screening at the Blood in the Snow Canadian Film Festival in November, Clean Break is the provocative story of a psychotic woman who enters relationships with men and manipulates them in whatever way she can to make her happy. And, simply put, conveys one message: always do what the woman says (that, or never enter a relationship with one!)

Full review here:

Saturday, 9 November 2013

[EVENT] Fabio Frizzi Live Halloween Set

What Goblin was to Dario Argento, Fabio Frizzi was to Lucio Fulci - necessary. The success of Fulci’s household horror movies, many of which have become die-hard classics in the 20 odd years since he has passed, has been attributed not only to their graphic visceral effects but Frizzi’s animated scores that helped bring his visions to life.

Thanks to Death Waltz Recording Company and Paint It Black, Frizzi - Fulci’s right-hand music man and thus composer behind some of horror’s most beloved scores - made his UK debut on Halloween (Thurs 31st) to play a live compilation of his proudest works, complemented by a projection of the corresponding movie’s visuals, to a packed audience of genre fanatics. Officially titled ‘Fabio 2 Frizzi’, the show’s chilling setting in Union Chapel (Islington, London) couldn’t have been more atmospherically fitting than a field full of zombies. 

For Frizzi, his mission for this momentous occasion was to bring his music back to life, “just like the characters in so many Lucio Fulci movies.”

Aptly beginning his set with the theme from his first collaborative movie with Fulci in 1978, Spaghetti Western Silver Saddle, he then paused for an overwhelmingly positive reception before turning back the calendar pages a few years to his very first years as a composer, the days when, as he rightfully professed, “music and cinema were better than today”. 

In the early 70s Frizzi formed a trio with musicians Vince Tempera and Franco Bixio with the collective aim to produce scores for film and television. One of their numerous low-budget Italian movie scores was in 1975 for Spaghetti Western Four of the Apocalypse, which Frizzi and his orchestra reveled in revisiting to its London audience. It was the movie where Fulci and Frizzi first met. And the rest really is history.

The melodic retro pop of his spaghetti western scores almost made me forget about the initial pull of the night. But soon enough, those well-acquainted dark, electric vibes of scores from City of the Living Dead, Contraband, The Psychic and Zombie Flesh Eaters pulsated around the church, the latter receiving perhaps the biggest reaction as its chiming musicality echoed around the hall until its very last dramatic drum beat. 

The master flitted between singing, playing guitar and composing his 7-piece band and F2F Orchestra, of which compiled a superb entourage of violinists, guitarists, keyboards, percussionists and a breathtaking female vocalist who drew out every note of City of the Living Dead with perfection. Their skill and energy was inspirational, and an enthusiastic crowd did everything to make them aware of it. Everyone contributing to the ambience was having a good time.

As the night closed in, his beautiful rendition of Nina Rota’s theme to Frederico Fellini’s Amarcord (1973) brought a heartfelt sting to watery eyes, succeeding to remind us not only of his great contribution to the horror genre but also his doubtless and worthy status as one of our greatest composers.

And Frizzi hasn’t only spent the last few years rehearsing the songs he wrote two to three decades ago; two newer pieces revealed the connoisseur hasn’t lost his touch. If there was reason to buy the vinyl records released by Death Waltz, having these two tracks was as good as any.

An encore was inevitable - not only due to the continuous support of the crowd and the good-spirited ensemble, but because something very crucial was missing. Frizzi rhetorically questioned what had so far been absent in the set, and the audience responded to his good-humoured jive with a few laughs and shout-outs. On that note, away they went with what many had been so desperately waiting to hear - The Beyond. And true to say it was beyond (‘scuse the pun) what I’d ever imagined. Worth the wait.

A standing ovation applauded everyone involved and greeted a beaming Frizzi with both eyes full of gratitude. Drinks in the bar upstairs allowed time for goggling at fancy dress efforts and washing down the aftermath adrenalin.

And there you have it, a Halloween that will be hard, maybe even impossible, to beat. 

Friday, 1 November 2013

[EVENT] Frightfest Halloween All-Nighter

Frightfest’s Halloween All-nighter, the third and final event of its annual calendar, returned to VUE West End last Saturday (26th) to screen six movies over fourteen hours through the night. This year, co-organisers Alan Jones, Paul McEvoy and Ian Rattray introduced four UK premieres and two previews to a (very nearly) packed screen, hosting a number of special guests and flinging out a number of cool merchandise.

The UK premiere of SOULMATE was the first movie on the bill and the first of the night’s many directorial feature debuts. Axelle Carolyn flew in from LA to introduce her supernatural drama alongside executive producer Neil Marshall (The Descent) and leading cast members Anna Walton (Hellboy 2) and Tanya Myers (Casualty).
Synopsis: After a failed suicide attempt, Audrey (Walton) moves to a cottage in a remote rural Welsh village to escape her miserable life and come to terms with the tragic death of her husband. But when she starts to feel a haunting presence in the cottage, its tragic history begins to surface as she learns that she is not alone in her grieving.  

“It’s an old fashioned, atmospheric, dramatic film… inspired by classic ghost stories”, explains Carolyn. “It’s a little bit different.”

Its amalgamation of classic literature and themes of romanticism are certainly refreshing amidst the long runs of supernatural horrors driven by evil paranormal presences and countless jump scares. It’s a simple tale concentrated in fantastical elements, and the gloomy disposition of the Welsh countryside conveys a chilling atmosphere. Walton delivers a fine performance oozing with melancholy, saying of the screenplay: “I thought it was a very sensitive and honest betrayal of someone dealing with grief.” 

Though it may tug at fear and sadness, it never really commits to a deeper emotional substance with regards to Audrey and ghost Douglas (Tom Wisdom), and we beg for a more meaningful outcome than what the uninspiring ending offers. 

A Q&A about life and death (cheerier than it sounds) ended with Marshall discussing his next project after Games of Thrones, the remake of Norwegian film-footage film Troll Hunter, in which he anticipated the audience’s grunts with an “I know, boo hiss.” Yes, boo hiss indeed.


The much-anticipated PATRICK remake was up next for its UK premiere and third screening worldwide. Another feature debut in the line-up sees Doc-God Mark Hartley (Not Quite Hollywood, Machete Maidens Unleashed!) re-envisage Richard Franklin’s 1978 beloved Hitchcockian homage.

For those unfamiliar with the story… 

Synopsis: Nurse Kathy Jacquard (Sharni Vinson) takes a job at a private psychiatric clinic in the secluded outback and soon develops an interest with the patient behind door 15. Handsome Patrick (Jackson Gallagher) is a comatose, following a bathtub incident with his mother and her lover, and is the goldenboy of Doctor Roget (Charles Dance) unethical experiments. But his unhealthy fondness for Jackie becomes dangerous when his telekinetic powers start ruling her life.

For what seems to be a pointless remake, Hartley’s rendering was pretty much as expected. The structure was annoyingly formulaic; the gory effects unjust and out of place with its gothic tone; and the intriguing elements of the original’s mystery were instead replaced with outright shock. Not to mention that it crescendos at thirty minutes and defiantly plods through the motions until it comes to an underwhelming hault. Thankfully, an unrelentingly raucous, electrifying score by Pino Donnagio (known mostly for his sound work on the likes of Carrie and The Howling) strikes an appropriate pulsating energy into every scene and rightfully deserves all the attention it demands throughout.

Vinson plays perhaps her most convincing role yet and fellow nurse Williams (Peta Sergeant) provokes a few welcome gags. It’s clear that Hartley made this picture through his love and respect of Ozploitation classics. But Franklin’s original was undeniably flawed. And this is disastrously so.

Star and (as Alan dubbed) “exploitation scream queen” Sharni Vinson (Bait 3D, You’re Next) blessed us with her presence and answered questions about being an actress before talking about her recent heavy involvement in horror and if she’d stick to the genre.

“It’s not intentional, I just take what lands in my lap at the right time. It just so happened that the last three were horror… I went through all the horror movies at a young age. I love horror and I love action… I wouldn’t not do a horror but I wouldn’t not not do a horror,” she said.

What we do know is that Vinson is not against the idea of doing sequels to her two 2013 horros. But the Final Girl raised a very valid point – “All my co-stars die, so who would I work with?”

Patrick is set to be released theatrically in the US next spring but has not yet secured a UK distributor.
A quick swap around in the schedule meant that MARK OF THE DEVIL saw us into the next day. If you were coming to this event for one reason, it was to witness the first public screening of this notorious 1970 West German film, banned in several countries and having gained a reputation as one of the most violent and exploitative films in cinema history, with viewers being given sick bags upon watching the film.
What’s more, director Michael Armstrong (The Haunted House of Horrors, House of the Long Shadows) was there to mark the occasion. A humble introduction from Armstrong ended on: “I hope the film isn’t too much torture to sit through…!” And on that note, the curtains drew and in came Michael Holm’s deceivingly harmonious melodic score.

Synopsis: In 18th century Austria, a callous, hard-knuckled witch-hunter (Reggie Nalder) spreads terror around his town, hastily accusing its women of witchcraft and delighting in watching them burn to the stake. Infamous witch-hunter Lord Cumberland (Herbert Lom) arrives in town, ordered by the Crown to enforce his righteous judgement alongside his doting apprentice Count Christian (Udo Keir). But when Christian catches his mentor murdering a town official, he questions his religious teachings, and rebels to take justice into his own hands.

“Yes I wanted to make a film that was accumatively violent… I made a movie that was meant to upset and disturb,” said Armstrong. Mark Of The Devil is one hour and forty minutes of incessant macabre torture, from whip slashings to hangings, from burnings to tongue removal. And though it’s fictitious, it has overwhelming elements of authenticity; the three witch cases that the film centers were based on real cases and almost all the instruments in the movie replicate the ones used to perform torture.

Though its infamous ‘V for vomit’ stigma shouldn’t cloud its historic relevance, the moral message which opens the film is ultimately unmaintained and inferior to its graphic motive. Still, it’s an involving story with a pleasingly surprising end and, despite falling short to cheesy, melodramatic moments, is largely credible. He’s no Vincent Price (who starred in Michael Reeves’ 1968 Witchfinder General) but Hom makes for a loathsome villain, whilst Nalder too impressively bears a repugnant evil.

To this day, Armstrong doesn’t quite know why it was banned and was astounded how much it was attacked and ridiculed on release. “I was called every name under the sun,” he said. “I’m grateful that now people come up to me and have seen the movie as I intended it.”
Anchor Bay has picked up the title and it will be released on Blu-ray before Christmas. The perfect stocking filler.
Armstrong also revealed his plans to publish the complete works of his (40) movie’s screenplays as a collectors set to help gain recognition for those who, he thinks, are largely unaccredited and undermined in the industry.
3am, Sunday morning. The clocks had just gone back an hour. Half way through. If there was the slightest temptation to rest your eyes in the next film, it was immediately dashed upon realising that DISCOPATH was up next. Beating with energy and louder than disco halls in full swing, director Renaud Gauthier’s debut feature is aesthetically a stomping masterpiece.  
Synopsis: A shy New Yorker, Duane Lewis (Jeremie Earp), leads a mundane city life until he is exposed to a new genre of music: disco. Its pulsating rhythm sparks an uncontrollable murderous tendency in him, which he finds is related to a childhood trauma, and he soon becomes one of America’s most dangerous serial killers. 
“When I was young I used to get scared by a couple of disco songs. I always thought there was a scary element to disco,” said Gauthier. I don’t think there’s a medical term for that fear, but it certainly makes for an original screenplay. This retro-crazed slasher screams fun and downright funky. The concept isn’t a complex one and doesn’t go out of its way to experiment with generic slasher conventions, nor does it impress as a particular engaging manhunt. It’s authenticity and charm lies instead in its overt pastiche and remarkable ability to re-capture the 70s era. “We worked hard to create a 1970s feel with 2013 equipment,” said Gauthier.

Gauthier explained his experience as an art director and a self-professed collector of everything, so he was able to use his own knowledge and enthusiasm to design sets and his own items as costume and props. The Carpenter and Giallo-influenced disco score is relentless and, though Gauthier’s limited budget prevented him using the era’s big boys (he said Bee Gees wanted $50,000 to use one of their tracks), is well-guided to complement, and emotionally and aesthetically enhance, the content’s wavering pace and intense dramatic elements.
We were glad to hear that Gauthier is back next year with two horror projects: a 1972 Giallo (currently unnamed) and Aqua Splash, which features a waterpark and razorblades – yikes! As for the former, with Gauthier’s evident spot-on ability to recreate a past era, it’s likely that we could see a much-needed truly authentic Giallo homage.
After a crowd member made himself known and performed a scarily enthusiastic breakdance sequence, revealing he’d consumed far too much caffeine for everybody already, cue break.
When something is likened to The Thing, you envisage a worn out sci-fi thriller formula of unidentifiable mutants inhabiting the snowy mountains where a group of scientists sit ignorantly unaware that they’re the next victims. But Austrian sci-fi horror THE STATION by Marvin Kren succeeds to avoid such stereotype with nail-biting suspense, poignant moments and convincing bold effects.   
Synopsis: A group of scientists based at a station in the German Alps are investigating an unfamiliar liquid that is seeping from the mountains and transforming nearby wildlife into monstrous mutants. When tech guy Janek’s (Gerhard Liebmann) beloved dog is attacked by one, he and his team become even more determined to eliminate whatever is threatening the group and the Environment Ministers that are on their way to their station. 

Disturbing discoveries, bloody outcomes and encounters with beetle-fox hybrids and giant horn-bearing eagles, this is as close as you’re going to get to ‘The Thing meets Alien’. But what really defines its respect is The Station’s character-focused persona, as true in Kren’s zombie spin-off Rammbock, which allows room for emotional twists and turns, not to mention an unexpected shock ending.
The Station will be released next year by Studio Canal.
Backed by Slasher Films (co-founded by Guns ‘n’ Roses rock god Slash), Gore Verbinski’s visionary protégé, Anthony Leonardi III, makes his feature directorial debut with NOTHING LEFT TO FEAR.
Synopsis: Priest Dan moves his family to small town Stull, Kansas to be the new pastor after its long-time Priest Kingsman readies to retire. But their hope for a more idyllic life seems unlikely when they realise they are to be the sleepy community’s latest ceremonial sacrifices to an evil Beast that lurks in the depths of the church, one of the seven gateways to hell.
Reminiscent of the likes of The Gathering and The Shrine, such horror pics tend to compel in its well-contrived backstory of some heinous ancient, mythic or religious (hell sometimes all three) curse or presence at the hands of a cult. But here, there are no efforts to bring in any background explanation whatsoever, let alone anything remotely original, rendering its copycat themes puzzling and utterly pointless. The acting is as wooden as the plot and the generic family isn’t worth giving two hoots about.

Though its special effects are by no means poor - its uncanny imagery provokes more than a few unnerving shifts in your seat - what you see is what you get with this evil spirited terror tale, and unfortunately that isn’t a great deal. And you didn’t even have to be wide awake to see through it.
7:20am and a sleepy crowd raise from their seats, realise the copious amounts of sugar, grease and caffeine that they’ve savaged through, and head home for a well-earned kip. A generally mixed line-up and a great turn out from special guests and fans yet again succeed to soften the blow of the end of the August festival. Thank you Frightfest. Until next year.

The Frightfest All-Nighter is also being held this Saturday 3rd November at Glasgow, Basildon, Poole, Sunderland and Newcastle, as well as in Bristol on Saturday 16th November. Tickets can be purchased on the Frightfest website, where more details on the featured films for each event can be found.