The Horror

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...

Hollywood’s continued fixation with classic ’80s horror has certainly produced some variable results - from the nostalgia-rich, wisecracking charm of Andrés Muschietti’s IT through to the blandly characterless butchering of Poltergeist back in 2015. With many such remakes proving to be as lifelessly uninspiring and plastic as the vacant-eyed, mass manufactured ‘Buddi’ dolls infesting this box-fresh new adaptation of Child’s Play, tracking down genuine creative spark in an industry riddled with sterile, corporate clones is always a real pleasure. Happily for us, director Lars Klevburg’s freshly released re-imagining is one such riotously entertaining shocker.

Let’s begin by first addressing the question of the...

How can a Batman film be a horror movie?

Well...for starters there is a whole subsection of the genre that fits into carnival horror. Take the films of Rob Zombie for example, or Tobe Hooper's The Funhouse. Then you've got the huge German expressionism influence on Tim Burton, one of the main characters is called Max Shreck! This film is not just a dark comic book, it is genuinely disturbing, full of crazed ideas and the Penguin is a villain who brings the viewer close to being sick with that green ooze dripping off his lips then down his chin scene after scene. Oscars don't often go to these type of performances, but this deplorable character deserved awards.

Then there is the fact that after Batman made a shedload of money, the studio said that Burton could make any film he wanted (after h...

March 21, 2019

From 1983-84, the director Jonas Åkerlund was a drummer for the Swedish band Bathory, which would later inspire the Norwegian black metal movement. He stated in a 2018 interview that when that culture developed in the '90s and became "too serious", he left the music scene and moved on to film-making.  He was always the man for the job of adapting the 1997 book of the same title. People may forget Metallica’s 'Man UNkind' music video was his, with the same cast, as a preface for covering Mayhem’s story and especially Euronymous’ downfall.

You could have done this film one of two ways: showing the scene, or from the scene. The former means making it into a dramatic story that helps the film play to a general audience. The secondary would include making a gritty, darker film told fro...

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