The Horror

June 18, 2020

As well all know, there are only a handful of remakes that pass muster, and even less that improve on their original. It can be argued that The Thing by Carpenter is a better film than the 50s version. Most people would agree that Cronenberg’s updating of The Fly is an example of how you can take something that people love as a bit of fluff, and change it to produce something significantly more worthy.

The Soska sisters started off by creating a no/low budget indie all by themselves, real D.I.Y. beginnings. They hit their stride with a promising effort called American Mary, you could see an auteurship blossoming, they had their own style and themes. Those themes had influence, and Cronenberg was the main one. Surgical experimentation, and beauty being in the eye of the beholder, what i...

April 30, 2020

Just when you thought it was safe from fucking found footage films, the world brings us yet another.

Surely this genre is dead in the water, tired and done with. Nobody asked for another, and indeed this was made six years ago. It took a few years to get noticed, meanwhile director Adam Robitel has progressed into mainstream franchise films such as the last Insidious venture, and Escape Room, plus its soon-to-be-released sequel.  Like a deadly weed, this one has grown out from the cracks in the pavement, and is ready to be rediscovered. It’s getting some notice now, with good reason.

Where this film takes us is places that, without a powerful and realistic set-up, most viewers would sigh, and tune out. Fortunately it is more than merely a solid grounding, in fact you’ll believe the...

April 9, 2020

Back in 1983, sequels were not really the done thing. There were continuations to series like Star Wars and Indiana Jones, but for a film to carry on from a certified classic that was made and released 23 years earlier, there was considerable risk. In fact, writer Tom Holland and director Richard Franklin fully expected a kicking, having committed an act that would be seen as sacrilege by many. To try and touch on anything based around the mastery of Hitchcock can only end in failure. Which is where the shock comes in: Psycho II is not only a worthy follow-up, but a great film in its own right.

Never mind that the film is excellently made, with some above average performances; you have to justify going back to the material. This is where Psycho II pays off dividends. When people talk about...

March 16, 2020

Despite not being nearly so much fun IRL (that’s ‘in real life’ to us grizzled elders) the awkward, ugly and oftentimes downright traumatic trials of adolescence have long supplied filmmakers with a seemingly infinite wealth of cinematic inspiration. From The Breakfast Club’s motley assortment of troubled high school misfits to the quiet inner torment of Brian De Palma’s iconic, outcast-extraordinaire Carrie, this is a tradition peppered with no shortage of wittily ingenious and affecting classics. With the 1980s in particular proving to be something of a golden age for such famously angsty titles, the past decade has witnessed an endless slew of modern movies and TV series seeking – with varying levels of success – to recapture the vibrantly creative spark of this bygone era. Combining ra...

February 25, 2020

A24 strike again, just when you thought it was safe to enter the cinema. Horror is a bit dead at the moment; what is needed is a stir up. As with all their releases, the A24 studio put a spin on what you expect, and give you that bit extra.

Last year we had Midsommar, which proved to unsettle, at the same time as being set in bright Swedish sunshine. This time we are in a stark, minimalistic black-and-white environment, and stuck on a small island. The only company the two lighthouse keepers have is the seagulls, and as Willem Dafoe’s warning goes “It’s bad luck to kill a seabird!”. (His speech when winning at the Independent Spirit Awards is well worth watching, within this context.)

Laid out like a theatre play, we get to know the two characters through dialogue, and as tension builds we f...

January 31, 2020

It’s best to go straight for the jugular and point out that this film was shot in the same junkyard as the infamous horror filth known as Street Trash. That lays out what territory we are in. If you haven’t seen that beauty from 1987, put down your device, stop reading this, and go out and pay for, borrow, steal, just watch it in whichever way is the most convenient to you.

Now back to the film in question: Brain Damage. Made the year after, and although not as disgusting, it will put you in your place when it comes to gore and splatter films of the period. While not putting its foot to the pedal for the entire running time it has its moments, enough in fact to have two of its most notorious scenes cut out until recent releases on DVD and Blu-ray. One sequence of which involves the oddest b...

November 6, 2019

Nearly…such a frustrating thing, and that is what this film is - frustrating.

It’s a fact that lots of people who say they like Stephen King have not read that many of his books, based on there being so much filler that the majority don’t mention. As with the remake of IT, the 2nd part followed the recent fashion for overlong films, and with horror that doesn’t work. Kubrick’s classic was long, but did something that not many scare films can do; that is consistently keep up the tension and atmosphere.  

Making a film of King’s books is not inherently a problem; Mike Flanagan (the director of Doctor Sleep) made an excellent film from Gerald’s game, and others have done so too. The issue here is that the filmmaker has tried to adapt a not so great King book, and one that simply doesn’t tr...

October 2, 2019

80 years young, and we’ve lost one of our lesser known icons. He may not have been Christopher Lee or Vincent Price, but Sid Haig was a character. A ‘character actor’ that had featured in films from 1962 until the day he died, there are still several to be released starring the great man, including his last time as Captain Spaulding (3 From Hell, on DVD October 14th). The homicidal clown, in Rob Zombie’s films about a gang of maniacs, is how most people know of Haig, yet he has appeared in many things you may not be aware of.

Think of a TV show from your childhood, go on: TJ Hooker, A-Team, Charlie’s Angels, Mission Impossible, Buck Rogers, Dukes of Hazzard, Six million dollar man, Man from U.N.C.L.E., even Star Trek and Batman. He was in them all, and that was only the tip of the iceberg....

August 5, 2019

As the proverb goes, never work with children or animals while making a film. Well, this director threw those words at the wall.

If you are wanting a werewolf film in the manner of early 1980s: The Howling, Wolfen, Company of Wolves, or the American variety that entered London, you will be let down. Also, if you are in the mood for the cheap SyFy channel creature features in all their crappy CGI glory, think again. This film is a Polish character study that does not fit into the conventional horror box - it’s real horror!

It is the year 1945, and a group of children have survived nearby Gross Rosen concentration camp. After growing up in these conditions, they have already lived through hell, what else could face them? Lacking in communication and social skills, they are evacuated, afte...

July 10, 2019

Anybody going into the cinema expecting a straight horror film may be disappointed, but this is a theme if anyone knows the production company A24. Their output consists of arthouse films that have either been surprise hits or two-days-and-gone experiments. In other words, they take chances. Have a look and you might be thrown by what you thought they did by reputation, and what they do in reality. Also, you might see another element - loyalty. They take risks on first-time directors or avant-garde artists working on the very periphery of the circuit. Sometimes it has paid off, with a few breakout hits on their hands. This particular reviewer could go through all the best experiences in film over the last five years and the vast majority were produced by this company, and here we get to th...

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