Morning all you Bad Movie Mavens out there, if you don’t follow this illustrious online journal of the cinematic underbelly on any of my social media channels, you may have missed the massively exciting announcement that The Stricken Land now has it’s very own range of awesome merchandise!

Created by movie and video game concept artist extraordinaire Rhys Pugh (GRAVITY, ULTRAMARINES), the range of designs will have you looking like the coolest mofo in the multiplex (and certainly the individual with the most impeccable taste in genre flicks!)

Here’s a peak at the designs below, but to see the full range of clothing and stuff like laptop skins and coasters head over to https://www.redbubble.com/people/FilmFiend/shop

England’s Screaming – A Fictional History of UK Horror Cinema.

Sean Hogan 

306 pages PS Publishing 2019

Shared universes are all the rage in cinema now, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) probably being the most well known and commercially successful. Indeed this goes back to roots of the Silver Age of American comic books back in the 1960’s when Marvel Comics and DC first began to cross over their characters into each other’s stories.

But the idea of a shared universe and chronology in modern entertainment goes back further than this and was first pioneered (albeit by a cynical cash-in motive, rather than any creative impulse), by Universal’s ‘Monster cycle’ films that began with Tod Browning’s classic DRACULA in 1931 starring the Hungarian actor Bela Lugosi, reprising his successful Broadway role for the then burgeoning silver screen. The huge success of this film and its follow up, James Whale’s FRANKENSTEIN in the same year, saw a whole slew of horror films produced by Universal, sometimes based on literary sources (THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, THE INVISIBLE MAN), sometimes not (THE MUMMY, THE WOLF MAN). The success of these films prompted inevitable sequels where Universal brass hit on the idea of having two or more of their ‘monster’ properties in the same film, reasoning that more  monsters would equal increased returns at the box office (FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLF MAN, HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, HOUSE OF DRACULA), an approach that the contemporary horror screenwriter and producer Val Lewton derided as ‘monster mash’. The inevitable law of diminishing returns kicked in soon enough though, with some truly risible efforts that introduced the comedy duo Abbott & Costello in the monster cycle in an attempt to wring every last dollar out of the properties. THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON signalled a brief return to the genre, spawning two sequels, but no serious attempt was made (thankfully) to cross over the titular ‘Gill-Man’ with Universal’s more gothic tinged monster properties.

But the principle of having different characters in different films sharing the same chronology and ‘world’ had been established, even if the concept was largely forgotten by Hollywood in the ensuing decades.

Which brings us to the subject of this review, a book whose central premise is so beautifully simple, subtle and elegant in its execution that any fan of postwar British horror cinema will be kicking themselves that they didn’t think of it first.

Imagine that Damien Thorn from THE OMEN was connected to the Duc du Richlieau from THE DEVIL RIDES OUT through Julian Karswell from NIGHT OF THE DEMON. Author Sean Hogan’s book deftly weaves these characters and numerous others from cinema and TV, both famous and obscure into a wonderful tapestry that will have not just horror fans but cinephiles in general turning the pages in anticipation of travelling further down Hogan’s ingeniously constructed rabbit hole.

But this isn’t just a contrived dot connecting exercise, seeking to link together over six decades worth of the British horror genre. As with most shared universes, Hogan places everything in the context of an overarching story, in this case the existential power struggle between the dark messianic zeal of the Antichrist Damien Thorn and the contemptuous nihilism of the psychic John Morlar from the 1978 chiller, THE MEDUSA TOUCH.

Each chapter focuses on a film character, ingeniously linking them to each other and the overall arc. For example, we have Carol Ledoux (REPULSION) committed to a mental institution after the events of that film, which just happens to be run by a certain Dr Channard (HELLRAISER II). Other highlights (too many to mention without getting into spoiler territory) include a genius thread linking the infamous 1973 public information film THE SPIRIT OF DARK AND LONELY WATER with the Nicolas Roeg classic DON’T LOOK NOW, Peckinpah’s STRAW DOGS with THE LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN (I shit you not), and a particularly enjoyable chapter on Gilderoy, the main protagonist of Peter Strickland’s surrealist love letter to Euro exploitation cinema BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO.

Hogan doesn’t leave many stones unturned in constructing his fictional universe, and it’s a real joy to read his extra background material linking together characters like Professor Bernard Quatermass with obscure cameo parts such as Christopher Lee’s turn as the enigmatic Stratton-Villiers (DEATH LINE) which the author also seamlessly links to Peter Walker’s 1974 schlock-fest FRIGHTMARE. Along the journey, the book introduces the reader to long forgotten entries like THE GODSEND and the little known Edward Woodward vehicle THE APPOINTMENT, taking the narrative all the way to the present incorporating titles such as Shane Meadows’ DEAD MAN’S SHOES. THE BORDERLANDS and Matthew Holness’ POSSUM, all the while giving nods to non horror classics line GET CARTER, THE SERVANT and THE LONG GOOD FRIDAY.

ENGLAND’S SCREAMING is the best book on British horror and on cinema in general that I’ve read in years. With a whip smart conceit at its centre, backed up by a fluid prose style and what is clearly an encyclopaedic knowledge of his subject, Sean Hogan has fashioned a wonderful book that should be on the shelves of any self respecting cinephile.

England’s Screaming is available from Waterstones – 

https://www.waterstones.com/book/englands-screaming/sean-hogan/9781786365729

and Amazon in both physical and ebook versions – 

Nefarious (2019) UK Dir: Richard Rowntree
Toby Wynn-Davies, Buck Braithwaite, Nadia Lamin, Abbey Gillett, Omari Lake-Pottinger

Caution: spoilers ahead!
Hello to you fellow film fiends out there and welcome to the first review of 2021! Let’s all hope it’s a better year than last…
This is actually a post I’ve been meaning to write for a while (sorry Rich!), but with all the happenings over the course of 2020, the blog has been left somewhat neglected, a situation I’m determined to remedy in 2021. But more on that in the next Newsblast article I’ll post in the coming week. Before I launch into my review, I must declare an interest; yours truly helped back the making of NEFARIOUS through the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, and did a lot of relentless promoting of the campaign on my social media channels. That doesn’t mean that I have not cast a critical eye on the end product, who wants to read a bought and paid for promo anyway? With all that out of the way, let’s dive in…

NEFARIOUS is the second feature length production from indie writer/director Richard Rowntree’s Ash Mountain Films outfit, following on from their debut, the twisted folk horror DOGGED. Moving away from it’s predecessor’s isolated rural setting, NEFARIOUS is a home invasion horror set among the grey concrete environs of inner city England. The home invasion sub-genre has produced several great horror flicks, from Michael Haneke’s FUNNY GAMES (1997), to the likes of YOU’RE NEXT (2011), THE STRANGERS (2008), and most recently two of my favourites that turn the sub-genre’s premise on its head; INTRUDERS (2015) and Fede Alvarez’s DON’T BREATHE (2016).

NEFARIOUS shares much of its DNA with Alvarez’s film; the protagonists are unlikable ne’er- do-wells on the fringes of society, who find an opportunity to take advantage of an individual they mistakenly judge to be weaker and more vulnerable than they are. By the time they realise their mistake it is too late as their intended victim is revealed as a dangerous antagonist. 

Told in flashback through a series of police interviews, the events of the previous day are retold mainly through the eyes of Lou (Nadia Lamin) and several corroborating witnesses (watch out for the director’s cameo as a sleazy cab driver). On a council estate somewhere in England, low-lifes Darren (Buck Braithwaite), Lou, Jo (Abby Gillet) and Mas (Omari Lake Pottinger) are in debt to the local drug dealer. Increasingly desperate to escape their predicament, an opportunity seems to present itself when Clive (Gregory A. Smith), a mentally disabled work colleague of Darren’s, lets slip that he and his already wealthy brother Marcus (Toby Wynn-Davies) are in the possession of a winning lottery ticket. With the help of the others, Darren hatches a plan to burglarise the home Marcus shares with his brother, unaware of Marcus’ horrific secret life…

NEFARIOUS continues the theme established in the writer/director’s last film DOGGED; the fallen nature of the human condition. The true monsters are us, and the film forces the audience to acknowledge this uncomfortable fact. In reality there are no supernatural contrivances, no demonically possessed dolls or indestructible hockey-masked killers signposting their malefic intent just by their unnerving appearance. The person sitting next to you in the theatre could be a sadist, a psychopath, a serial murderer hiding their perverse impulses behind a mask of sanity. Only when they have chosen their victim and manipulated them into a vulnerable position, does the mask slip away and the true personality underneath reveal itself.

Rowntree wisely takes a slow burn approach to the story, before he unleashes the full horror of the situation the protagonists find themselves trapped in during the third act. The production’s tight budget is used sparingly up until this point, with the script deftly concentrating on building character and tension through a combination of tight editing (a running time of just 78 minutes), some ominous foreshadowing, and an approach to the story from the show-don’t tell old school. In contrast to DOGGED, the film refuses to give us any sympathetic characters to relate to (bar the disabled and easily manipulated Clive), all are morally compromised at best,  from petty thieves and junkies at one end of the scale to full blown serial killers like Marcus (another terrific study in sneering malevolence from Toby Wynn-Davies following on from his performances in DOGGED and ESCAPE FROM CANNIBAL FARM).

And just when the audience is allowed to believe the ordeal is over, Rowntree refuses to let us up for air, slamming down a humdinger of a sting in the tail, USUAL SUSPECTS style. The police in the interview room are of course left none the wiser by their interviewee being an unreliable narrator, while the film’s reveal makes the audience complicit in the darkness that the climax infers will continue to hide among the neat and manicured facade of English suburbia, watching and waiting for the next opportunity to reveal itself.

NEFARIOUS is available here – www.amazon.com/Nefarious-Blu-ray-Richard-Rowntree/dp/B082PPZTNP/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=nefarious+blu+ray&qid=1584610338&sr=8-1

Happy new year horrorfam! Hopefully the gods see fit to make 2021 a better year than the one we’ve all just endured. Let’s put building the wicker man and making those blood sacrifices on hold for the moment…

This first post of the year brings you good tidings in the form of British indie horror outfit Ash Mountain Film’s latest venture MASK OF THE DEVIL. A retro VHS era style horror that harks back to the era’s golden age in the 1980’s, the film is set to be directed by Ash Mountain’s head honcho Richard Rowntree (DOGGED, NEFARIOUS). MASK OF THE DEVIL will be Richard’s third independent full length feature, and he and the Ash Mountain crew need you help to make the film become a reality. It is currently 86% backed on Kickstarter, with just 7 days to go! Here’s the short link to the Kickstarter page where you can pledge. Just £15 gets you a digital download of the film, bargain! –

Hail there fellow film fiends! I hope everyone is having a splendid bank holiday, and taking the chance to kick back and enjoy some silver screen delights. September 9th is the date set for the worldwide release of Denis Villeneuve’s DUNE trailer, and anticipation is certainly high for the first look at the director’s take on Frank Herbert’s sprawling sci-fi vision.

While we are all waiting, I’ve got a whole barrel load of new and upcoming genre cinema for you all to peruse. So without further ado – 

From Freedom Cinema, and director James Di Martino, comes face to face with THE FACELESSMAN this summer.
Premiering on Demand August 28, the Australian horror film took home 6 major awards at the Melbourne Underground Film Festival including Best Director and Best Film.
Emily is a recovering cancer survivor of three years. Faced with her fear of getting sick again, her best friend Nina plans a weekend away. Six friends venture out to a country holiday house to party over a weekend. Cut off from the rest of the world they soon learn the inhabitants are unsettling red neck individuals who terrorize and humiliate travelers. At the same time a para-normal monster seen as the faceless man haunts the house pushing the friends to their limits.

From writer/director James Di Martino, and featuring WOLF CREEK’s Andy McPhee, Roger Ward (MAD MAX), Lucas Pittaway (SNOWTOWN) and Sophie Thurling (COUNTER PLAY), THE FACELESS MAN haunts digital from August 28.

A group of sci-fi cosplayers get their shot to be real superheroes in director Nathan Letteer’s MONSTER FORCE ZERO.
Featuring genre favorite Garret Wang (STAR TREK: VOYAGER), WWE and WCW wrestling legend Pat Tanaka, and sci-fi staple Heath C. Heine (JURASSIC THUNDER, DRAGON SOLDIERS), the action-packed sci-fi jaunt will be available On Demand this October from Wild Eye Releasing.

After their comic book dreams are crushed, a group of sci-fi cosplayers are granted superpowers and are transported into the multiverse to do real battle with evil alien forces bent on earth’s destruction.

Jeff Schneider’s captivating new horror film EVIL UNDER THE SKIN, starring Helen Udy (MY BLOODY VALENTINE, THE DEAD ZONE), arrives on DVD and Digital September 8.

A mother and daughter head off for a secluded weekend to reconnect but little do they know the sordid past of the home they’re staying in let alone the strangeness it attracts as they descend into madness. 

  

Scripted by Luc Bernier, EVIL UNDER THE SKIN stars Helene Udy, Carl Bailey, Tim O’Hearn, Donna Hamblin, and Angela Barajas.
Available on DVD and Digital 9/8 from Midnight Releasing.

Featuring a star-studded cast headlined by Tony Todd (CANDYMAN), Dylan Baker (HUNTERS), Robin Bartlett (SHUTTER ISLAND), Samm Levine (INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS), Vanessa Lengies (WAITING…), and Agnes Bruckner (THE WOODS), IMMORTAL – available for sale or rental on demand this September from Stonecutter Distribution.
A chilling horror/thriller anthology film told in four chapters,  Immortal  boasts career-best performances from a cast that also includes Award-winning actor Mario Van Peebles (POSSE, NEW JACK CITY), Lindsay Mushett (BLUE BLOODS), and Jason Stuart (THE INFILTRATORS) with a talented ensemble of filmmakers consisting of Tom Colley,  Jon Dabach, Danny Isaacs and Rob Margolies weaving the exhilarating crosspatch of thrills together.
Thrown into the face of death only to emerge unharmed, the characters of Immortal are left staring at eternity in the face with uncertainty and fear like they’ve never imagined. The film follows Chelsea, a high school track star who comes clean about sexual misconduct with her coach only to find out her confession might be too late, Gary and Vanessa, a young, expecting married couple who scheme a morbid solution to their financial issues, Ted, a man filled with sorrow who agrees to euthanize his cancer-ridden wife Mary, and Warren, a young man with little direction in life who is forced to discover his new gifts after a tragic accident.
IMMORTAL available for sale or rental on demand September 1 from Stonecutter Distribution.

Action superstar Danny Trejo stars in Pikchure Zero Entertainment’s new sci-fi action series PARAGON: THE SHADOW WARS. 

 
In a world where Reapers take souls and demons bargain with humans for their place in the food chain, a new descendent named Jael has emerged. After centuries of civil unrest in the real world, a new war is waging amongst those who are seeking to create a new after-life and Jael finds herself in the middle of it. She must venture into the dark world of Soul Reaping and embrace her new role as the Paragon.  
Trejo, Amin Joseph, Franziska Schissler, Dilan Gwyn, Khu, and Justin Price star in a series,  currently out to networks, that will encompass a 7-episode first season, with each 43-minute episode fixing on the human race dealing with the obliteration of Heaven.  
PARAGON is a sci-fi action series that follows the different factions of society as they deal with Heaven’s destruction. With only a small piece of the after-life to live for, everyone from Death himself is fighting to claim the Elysian for themselves. 

We have always loved the Sci-fi fantasy genre, and we wanted to create a series that explored one of the most intriguing questions of humanity. Where do we go when we die? And what would happen if Heaven no longer existed?”, says Justin Price, who is also a producer on the series alongside  Khu and  Franziska Schissler. Price adds, “Paragon is an edgier and grittier cable style series in the vein of FIREFLY and ALTERED CARBON. I believe we have an electric hybrid that explores the human spectrum of dealing with loss and love in a stylistic way. Danny Trejo is outstanding as Kincaid, the half-dead leader of disbanded reapers.”

WIDOW’S POINT, Gregory Lamberson’s highly-anticipated, award-winning adaptation of the book of the same name, premieres on DVD and Digital in the USA and Canada September 1 via 101 Films.


Craig Sheffer (A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT, NIGHTBREED) leads the cast of the film, alongside KateLynn E. Newberry (HOMECOMING REVENGE).
WIDOW’S POINT follows a writer who spends a weekend locked in a haunted lighthouse to help promote his next book, where he is targeted by supernatural forces.
Richard Chizmar and Billy Chizmar, authors of the original source novel, adapted WIDOW’S POINT for the screen.
The film had a successful festival run, including Shawna Shea Film Festival, where it won awards for ‘Best Feature’ and ‘Best Actor’ for Craig Sheffer, Crimson Scream Horror festival, where Craig also picked up ‘Best Actor’ award; LUSCA Caribbean International Fantastic and Twin Tiers International, where the film picked up the ‘Audience Award’.
Widow’s Point was reviewed by Rue Morgue ‘’Sheffer contributes an outstanding display of on-screen insanity…an absolute thrill to witness.” Peter Straub, New York Times bestselling author of Ghost Story, Shadowland and Mr. X commented ‘’Greg Lamberson’s WIDOW’S POINT offers what is very nearly a solo showcase to Craig Scheffer, who responds with bellows and rants, mutters and whispers, and otherwise by strutting his stuff through this lively horror cut-up.” and Delirium Magazine ‘’Lamberson unleashes what may be his finest work to date – at least, his most elegant and restrained.…embedded in a haunted-lighthouse yarn that creeps under the skin and stays there.”
WIDOW’S POINT will be available 9/1 on DVD and Digital via 101 Films.

On a final note –  to any aspiring independent filmmakers, podcasters or film related writers out there out there reading this, let me know if you’d like me to publicize and/or review your projects, The Stricken Land is always happy to promote new talent and ideas! And as ever, please feel free to share this post and any others on here that you like, far and wide.

Spread the Word!

Ian

Morning film fiends!

This week serves up a veritable cornucopia esoteric underground movie goodnes in the form of Indonesian zombie apocalypse flick ZETA, sci-fi satire AUTOMATION, along with old skool horror anthology NIGHTMARE RADIO, and topped off with a good old fashioned alien invasion flick in the form of director James Twyman’s INVASION EARTH. Read on…

Film Regions International (FRI) is announcing the release of ZETA a new foreign language horror film that the company has licensed for video-on-demand both in the United States and United Kingdom. The film was helmed by female first-time  filmmaker Amanda Iswan and stars Indonesian actors Cut Mini, Dimas Aditya and Jeff Smith. The film is subtitled in English for the U.S. and U.K. territories.

 ZETA tells the story about a Deon, a student in Jakarta, Indonesia who witnesses a strange incident at his school when a friend bites a nurse’s neck and becomes a raging cannibalistic flesh eater. Suddenly, he realizes the entire city has become ravaged by a zombie apocalypse caused by an amoeba Naegleria-Zeta parasite. Deon, along with his mother Isma, who is suffering early signs of Alzheimer’s, are forced to quarantine in their sky rise apartment and eventually team up with a rebel gang to get the best combat strategies against the zombie horde.

The film is currently available for rental or purchase on Amazon Prime Video and subsequent VOD platforms will follow soon.

AUTOMATION, a genre mash-up of ROBOCOP and THE OFFICE!

A workplace robot, AUTO, transforms into a killing machine when he discovers he will be replaced by a more efficient model. AUTO fears being terminated and will stop at nothing to prevent his own destruction. The human employees must band together to stop him before it’s too late.

Writer/Director Garo Setian – ‘It seems every day there is another news story or article concerning the threat of machines replacing people in the workplace.  We are also seeing stories about the development of robots that can learn to behave more human by observing human behaviour.

So what would happen when a robot with this ability to learn, replaces humans in the workplace, but then faces the prospect of being replaced by more advanced technology?  Our movie AUTOMATION is a cheeky take on this concept.

Our goal was to tell an interesting and timely story with characters the audience cares about.  So despite the film being a satire of corporate cost cutting and planned obsolescence, there is a true heart to the movie in the relationship between Auto and Jenny.

We are so grateful to our talented cast and crew of pros who came together out of love for this script, and the desire to make something fun. We hope the audience finds AUTOMATION an entertaining 91 minutes that is funny, exciting, has a few surprises and is ultimately kind of moving.’

Release date TBC

10 of horror’s hottest rising filmmakers unite to tell 8 terrifying tales.

A NIGHT OF HORROR: NIGHTMARE RADIO, premiering on Demand and DVD September 1, is a new anthology from brothers Luciano Onetti and Nicolas Onetti. Joining the Onettis are filmmakers Sergio Morcillo, Joshua Long, Jason Bognacki, Adam O´Brien, Matt Richards, A.J. Briones, Pablo S. Pastor and Oliver Park.

Rod, radio DJ, hosts a popular horror-themed show packed with tales of terror for eager listeners. When he receives alarming calls from a horrified child things start to feel off. What ensues is a roller-coaster ride of horror stories…

Premiering in lounge rooms this August, an exhilarating new science-fiction thriller from director James Twyman, INVASION EARTH.

The story follows a group of addicts who attend therapy to avoid being sent to prison, while a TV journalist goes undercover and joins the group to try and expose this as a scam. However, all of their lives are thrown into chaos by the beginning of an alien invasion.

Charlotte Gould, Phoebe Delikoura, Tony Fadil, Jon-Paul Gates, Nigel Thijs, and David Shaw star in the critically acclaimed new film from James Twyman, only On Demand and DVD August 4 from Midnight Releasing.

Before you go, don’t forget to check out our new range of merch available here –

https://www.redbubble.com/people/FilmFiend/shop?asc=u

One final note –  to any aspiring independent filmmakers, podcasters or film related writers out there out there reading this, let me know if you’d like me to publicize and/or review your projects, The Stricken Land is always happy to promote new talent and ideas! And as ever, please feel free to share this post and any others on here that you like, far and wide.

Spread the Word!
Ian

Morning film fiends!

Feast your eyes on this collection of upcoming celluloid awesomeness –

Now available On Demand, and coming soon to DVD (pre-order the DVD from Target), THE TENT is the latest film from award-winning filmmaker Kyle Couch.

Winner of multiple awards, and featuring an applauded turn from actor Tim Kaiser, the end-of-days thriller fixes on an apocalyptic event that leaves a man isolated and alone on the edge of the wilderness. Soon enough, another survivor emerges who disrupts the fragile balance of power.
Lulu Dahl and Shelby Bradley co-star in THE TENT, available from Gravitas Ventures.

An apocalyptic event known as The Crisis has devastated David’s world leaving him to rely on survival tactics learned from childhood. Isolated and alone, David has taken refuge in a tent on the edge of the wilderness. Soon enough, another survivor emerges, Mary, who immediately begins questioning David’s tactics and ultimately putting them in the crosshairs of “Those Who Walk In Darkness”, unseen creatures that may or may not be responsible for The Crisis.

Sylvia, a lonely 20-something, goes searching for answers after her friend mysteriously vanishes in Whitehall, NY, an Adirondack town known for its Bigfoot sightings. She sets off with a mysterious, charming young woman, Alex, hellbent on getting to Whitehall for different reasons. Sylvia soon learns that hiding in the woods is an evil more sinister than she could ever imagine.

From director Bruce Wemple, and starring Anna Shields, Rachel Finninger, Grant Schumacher, Hannah McKechnie, Catharine Daddario, Dylan Grunn, Peter Stray, Rick Montgomery Jr., and Thomas Brazzle , MONSTROUS premieres On Demand and DVD August 11 from Uncork’d Entertainment.

A murderer finds himself on trial in Hell, caught between a bitter prosecutor and an inexperienced defense attorney.

With an electrifying cast also including Scottie Thompson (TWELVE MONKEYS), Richard Riehle (TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION), Veronica Cartwright (ALIEN), Lew Temple (ONCE UPON A TIME…IN HOLLYWOOD), Mandela Van Peebles (JIGSAW) and Rebekah Kennedy (CRIMINAL MINDS),  feel the heat this summer with LIMBO.

LIMBO, from writer/director Mark Young, premieres August 4 on DVD and Digital from Uncork’d Entertainment.

On a final note –  to any aspiring independent filmmakers, podcasters or film related writers out there out there reading this, let me know if you’d like me to publicize and/or review your projects, The Stricken Land is always happy to promote new talent and ideas! And as ever, please feel free to share this post and any others on here that you like, far and wide.

Spread the Word!
Ian

Underwater (USA 2019) Dir: William Eubank
Kristen Stewart, Vincent Cassel, Mamadou Athie

In the near future, an ethically dodgy mining corporation has constructed a huge drilling rig seven miles below the ocean surface at the bottom of the Mariana trench.

Opening with a monologue by Hollywood pixie Kristen Stewart consisting of some cod-philosophical word salad, director Eubank’s second effort soon gets down to business when a huge underwater earthquake rips through the rig killing most of its crew.

Realising they are fubared with a capital F, the survivors led by Nora (Stewart) and Captain Lucien (a suitably grizzled Cassel), must attempt a hazardous underwater trek along the seabed in order to reach another station that houses functioning escape pods that will take them to the surface. However, the drilling operation and subsequent earthquake has awakened a previously unknown hostile species…

UNDERWATER looks great, the cast is good and the film succeeds mightily in generating its claustrophobic hostile environment and the tense race against time pace that is central to its premise. The problem the film has is that it doesn’t really add anything new to the ‘creatures beneath the sea’ sci-fi/horror sub genre. Consequently it comes off as a rather expensive but po-faced update of 80’s straight to video faves like DEEPSTAR SIX and LEVIATHAN, and certainly doesn’t have the conceptual chops of it’s big budget genre stablemates like THE ABYSS. A well made genre entry with some inventive deaths and lovely production design, alas let down by its formulaic story and an over-reliance on see-it-all-before CGI in the third act.

Morning film fiends!

Feast your eyes on this collection of upcoming celluloid glory –

The world of wrestling meets the bloody battlefields of horror in this July’s PARTS UNKNOWN.
After losing their livelihoods, a crazed family of disgraced professional wrestlers embarks on a spree of murder and carnage to satisfy a deal made with a demonic entity from another dimension.
William DeCoff, Alexandra Cipolla, and Sarah Michelle star in a Richard Chandler film!
PARTS UNKNOWN. body slams onto DVD and Digital July 7 from Wild Eye Releasing.

Horror icon Jamie Bernadette (I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE: DEJA VU, 4/20 MASSACRE)  stars in DEAD BY DAWN, from Uncork’d Entertainment.

A suicidal man in a remote cabin is suddenly faced with protecting a kidnapped woman from three killers and their sadistic games. Unable to contact the outside world and with night falling, he falls backs on creating traps to prevent the criminals from gaining entry. It’s a fight to the death where only the strongest will survive until dawn.

From director Sean Cain, and co-starring Drew Lindsey Mitchell, Kelcey Watson, Bo Burroughs, Timothy Muskatell, Bobby Slaski, Detra Hicks, and Skylar Dominique, DEAD BY DAWN available on DVD and Digital now.

Micah Lyons, Tom Sizemore (HEAT, SAVING PRIVATE RYAN) and Glenn Morshower (24, FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS) star in white-knuckle action-thriller THE RUNNERS, premiering this summer On Demand and DVD.

After losing their parents in a car accident, Ryan must raise his rebellious teenage sister, Zoe. One night, Zoe sneaks out to a party and is abducted by a charming older boy who intends to sell her to the cartel for human trafficking. Now, Ryan and his best friend have just hours to track them down and save her before she is sold and dragged across the Mexican border, never to be seen again.

From directors Joey Loomis and Micah Lyons, and starring Micah Lyons, Netty Leach, Joey Loomis, Tom Sizemore, Neal McCoy, Glenn Morshower, Jason Peter Kennedy, and Swayde McCoy, THE RUNNERS is available 7/14 on DVD and Digital from Uncork’d Entertainment.

ALL HAIL THE POPCORN KING paints a vivid picture of award-winning author and screenwriter Joe R. Lansdale who’s written over 50 novels and 500 short stories including BUBBA HO-TEP and COLD IN JULY. Joe is also a Master in Martial Arts and created his own technique. He’s well known for his unique voice andhis generosity and support of other writers and filmmakers.

Filmmaker Hansi Oppenheimer chronicles the life and career of the Lone Star State’s “writer of the purple rage” (The Austin Chronicle), the acclaimed documentary also features new interviews with the likes of Bruce Campbell, James Purefoy, Joe Hill, Don Coscarelli, Mick Garris, Del Howison, Amber Benson, novelist David J. Schow and former Fangoria editor Tony Timpone.

On a final note –  to any aspiring independent filmmakers, podcasters or film related writers out there out there reading this, let me know if you’d like me to publicize and/or review your projects, The Stricken Land is always happy to promote new talent and ideas! And as ever, please feel free to share this post and any others on here that you like, far and wide.

Spread the Word!
Ian

Lifeforce (1985) Dir: Tobe Hooper Steve Railsback, Mathilda May, Peter Firth, Frank Finlay

Loosely based on Colin Wilson’s novel ‘The Space Vampires’, The Golan-Globus Cannon empire was at the height of its powers when they released this insanely entertaining slab of sci fi horror.An Anglo US space mission encounters a mysterious alien spaceship riding the tail of Haley’s Comet. Of the crew only Steve Railsback makes it back to Blighty with one of the aliens (euro strumpet Mathilda May) in tow. The naked-for-the-entire-film May then proceeds to break out of the secure facility she’s in and reveals herself to be a gribbly space vampire in disguise and proceeds to turn most of London into slavering zombies. SAS man Cain (Peter Firth) is on the trail replete in roll neck sweater mowing down hordes of undead in his Ford Cortina estate right up to the final showdown on the steps of St Paul’s. With earnest support from Patrick Stewart and a scenery chewing Frank Finlay, this features a great score, brilliantly imaginative production design and a bonkers exploitation plot that the whole cast do a great job of taking seriously. I waited weeks for this to come off loan in the video shop back in the day, and I still hold affection for it now. Simply incredible.