This is the good stuff! Everything from obscure British horror to early 80’s spaghetti apocalypse to the glory of Golan Globus ninja films, if any of these celluloid treats ring your bell, you’ve come to the right place!

Escape from Cannibal Farm (UK 2017) Dir: Charlie Steeds
Kate Davies Speak, David Lenik, Rowena Bentley, Barrington De La Roche, Peter Cosgrove, Toby Wynn Davies

The Harver clan head out into the English countryside for a camping holiday in an attempt to bury familial tensions and patch up their differences. Clearly no one told them that family holidays are usually the worst recipe for promoting such harmony, but this being a horror flick, we know that our fresh faced middle class protagonists will soon be plunged into some nightmarish scenario that will indeed force them to discover unforeseen strengths and work together to survive. Just your average bank holiday in the UK then…
Said nightmare begins when the Harver’s mobile home is sabotaged by an unseen intruder and mum Katherine (Bentley) narrowly avoids being killed when her tent mysteriously catches fire. The bickering band of soon-to-be-victims head to a seemingly deserted nearby farm, in search of help and contact with the outside world (anal retentive step dad Wesley has suspiciously banned mobile phones from been taken on the trip…he’s played by Toby Wynn Davies, so we can be pretty sure he’ll turn out to be a wrong ‘un.)
There the Harvers encounter the owner, the demented Hunt Hansen (De La Roche) and his hideously disfigured son (Sam Lane), and soon enough the whole family find themselves caged like animals and awaiting slaughter by the Hansens for delivery to ‘The Meat Eater’, a mysterious figure organising a steady supply of longpig to secret ring of discerning customers…
ESCAPE FROM CANNIBAL FARM (CANNIBAL FARM in the US), is the debut feature from writer/director/editor Charlie Steeds’ Dark Temple outfit, a UK retro horror studio that has already seen its second feature WINTERSKIN recently released to the US market and reviewed here on this very site. Various issues with distributors have delayed the release of Escape  to the UK market, but happily, the excellent 88 Films have finally submitted a release date of October 21 this year.
I’ll freely admit I was expecting a Chainsaw Massacre set in the Cotswolds pastiche, based purely on the snippets served up in the trailer, but I was pleasantly wrong footed as Steeds’ script piles on the plot twists and is surprisingly sympathetic towards the films villains, portraying them as victims of tragic circumstance, driven insane by their misfortune. Even a dash of social commentary about generational wealth divides is thrown in for good measure. The director is certainly not shy on the gore either, favouring practical effects (much to his credit!) and piling on the severed limbs, cooked bodies and bone slicing power tools with relish.
From a production values standpoint, the  direction and camerawork are very assured for a debut feature and Steeds has a great eye for colour and lush visuals which go a long way towards compensating against the film’s tiny budget. The cast is uniformly excellent with British horror’s new favourite ‘final girl’ Kate Davies Speak valiantly holding her own against scenery chewing villainous  turns from De La Roche, Cosgrove and Wynn Davies, last seen in Richard Rowntree’s excellent folk horror update DOGGED.
If there’s a fault to be had with the movie, it’s that the script maybe piles on one two many plot twists and thus risks overreaching. Much of De La Roche’s and Cosgrove’s dialogue too, is at times incomprehensible (I guess that’s what subtitles are for.) These seem like minor quibbles in what is an assured debut from the new studio, which curiously felt like a more rounded experience than its follow up feature WINTERSKIN. Although I doubt it will do  much for west country tourism ESCAPE FROM CANNIBAL FARM is a glorious technicolour love letter to the golden age of much maligned lo-fi straight to video horror flicks of the video nasty era from an exciting new player in British horror film making. Long may they reign!

Winterskin (UK 2018) Dir: Charlie Steeds

David Lenik, Rowena Bentley, Barrington De La Roche, Peter Cosgrove, Kate Davies Speak

In the frozen wilds of North America, Billy Cavanagh (Lenik) becomes separated from his father (Cosgrove) while on a deer hunting expedition.

Chancing upon a secluded cabin, Billy is shot in the leg by persons unknown, and awakes inside to find himself being nursed by the kooky Mama Agnes (Bentley.)

With no means of communicating with the outside world and temporarily crippled by his leg wound, Billy is warned by Agnes not to venture outside after dark for fear of being attacked and killed by a malevolent creature she cals ‘the Red Man’. Later Billy lets out Agnes’ dog, only for the animal to turn up dead on the doorstep after having being skinned.

The following night, Billy is attacked in the cabin by a hideous skinless humanoid creature and barely survives the encounter.

Meanwhile, a band of hunters led by Old Man Ruth (de la Roche) are scouring the wilderness looking for Billy and his father…

The third feature from upcoming British indie production house Dark Temple Motion Pictures is a tightly paced slice of isolation horror that mashes up elements of the likes of MISERY, SOUTHERN COMFORT and NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, but which exhibits just enough of its own original DNA and stylistic elan to prevent it becoming just another forgettable bargain bin horror flick.

Writer and director Charlie Steeds here concentrates on establishing a fast moving and efficient narrative, and coaxes scenery chomping performances from both Bentley and de la Roche respectively (the climactic confrontation is the film’s highlight.) Newcomer Lenik is also admirable, anchoring the narrative as the increasingly tense and paranoid Billy starts to realise that all is not quite as it may seem…

Despite a plot twist you can spot a mile off, Steeds pared down script and confident direction keeps your attention, and bodes well for future Dark Temple output.

Although the studio’s third feature after ESCAPE FROM CANNIBAL FARM and THE HOUSE OF VIOLENT DESIRE, I haven’t yet been able to secure copies of these movies to review yet. The former is set go be released this year by 88 Films, so look out for a review soon (hopefully!) I mention this as it’s difficult to glean from watching WINTERSKIN whether Steeds has yet managed to impress a ‘house style’ on his movies yet, as despite marketing Dark Temple’s output as ‘retro horror’, such a ‘feel’ doesn’t come across that strongly.

This is a very minor quibble it has to be said, and WINTERSKIN boasts some strong performances from its cast, conjures up a foreboding yet strangely ethereal atmosphere on a limited budget, and frankly original horror output of this quality from an indie start up outfit is something that we should all be roundly encouraging.

As far as I can tell at the time writing, Dark Temples’ next release will be the fantastic looking THE BARGE PEOPLE headlined by the wonderful Kate Davies Speak (here making a cameo.) Check out the intense trailer at the Facebook page or head over to the Dark Temple website here.

The Final Girls (2015) US Dir: Todd Strauss Schulson
Taissa Farmiga, Malin Akerman, Alia Shawkat

Teenager Max Cartwright (Farmiga) lives with her free spirited but down on her luck actress mother Amanda (Akerman). One night after driving home from yet another failed audition, they are involved in a horrific car accident. Amanda is killed but Max manages to survive without serious physical injury.

Cut to three years later and Max is finally beginning to put her life back together. Her best friend Gertie’s (Shawkat) brother, horror film geek Duncan (Thomas Middleditch)  bribes her to attend a screening of Camp Bloodbath, a 1980’s stalk and slash horror flick, as a guest of honour, the film being her late mother’s most well known film role, playing the virginal Nancy.

When a fire rips through the auditorium, Max and her friends tear open the projector screen to escape, and inexplicably find themselves transported into the film itself. Max immediately forms a bond with her dead mothers character, but the friends presence soon begins to alter the events of the movie, and with the original ‘final girl’ killed off in a freak accident, Max has to try and save Nancy from the movie’s disfigured psycho Billy Murphy (Daniel Norris), while taking on the mantle of final girl herself, and getting herself and her friends back to reality in one piece!

THE FINAL GIRLS is the ultimate meta horror comedy and an absolute blast from start to finish. Fans of the 80’s slasher cycle will find much to love here, from the obvious nods to the FRIDAY THE 13th series to the well observed culture clash between the generations (the past being a foreign country – the fictional film within a film is set in 1986).

Screenwriter Joshua John Miller co wrote the script as a coping mechanism after the death of his father Jason Miller (Father Karras in THE EXORCIST), and the sense of grief and loss that plays out between Max and Amanda/Nancy lends a poignancy to what could otherwise have been a fun but shallow piece of comedy horror fluff.

The film also avoids the repetitious irony and knowing superiority that marred so many films and tv shows that jumped on the meta horror bandwagon started by SCREAM and which became very tedious very quickly soon afterwards. Director Schulson along with Miller and fellow scribe M A Fortin thankfully play their film for bittersweet laughs, shot through with just the right amount of nostalgia for a genre they clearly have a lot of affection for.

I’m short, THE FINAL GIRLS is a feel good horror homage that will raise a smile from even the most hardened gorehound, and will especially appeal to those who lived through the 80’s slasher era it so affectionately spoofs.

Knights of the Damned (2017) UK Dir: Simon Wells
Ross O’Hennessy, Ben Loyd-Holmes, Silvio Simac, Kate Davies Speak

Everyone loves a good cheesy low budget fantasy romp, especially those of us Generation VHS types who grew up with John Milius’ glorious take on CONAN THE BARBARIAN and the slew of straight to video copycats that arrived in its wake in the early to mid eighties.

Before even the Austrian Oak bestrode the Hyborian Age however, a much loved British curio hit cinema screens a year before. Terry Marcel’s HAWK THE SLAYER was a classic slice of b-movie sword and sorcery schlock featuring a scenery chewing Jack Palance as gasping villain Vultan and awesome special lo-fi special effects such as death by silly string(!)

Unfortunately we never saw a run of British fantasy movies after this, instead being treated to a steady run of American high fantasy flicks (DEATHSTALKER, WIZARDS OF THE LOST KINGDOM, ATOR THE FIGHTING EAGLE) starring musclebound non entities and Playboy playmates, usually courtesy of Roger Corman’s New World Pictures.

KNIGHTS OF THE DAMNED then, is the spiritual successor to Marcels microbudget masterpiece. Unfortunately it arrives hard on the mega budget heels of the likes of HBO’s GAME OF THRONES, a series that, along with Peter Jackson’s LORD OF THE RINGS movies has single handedly rescued the fantasy genre from being the preserve of 80’ D&D Which is a shame, because KNIGHTS OF THE DAMNED tries hard to be loved. The first entry in a proposed franchise called Order of Kings, the basic plot of the film is sound if unoriginal (never a hindrance in the fantasy genre). The Kingdom of Nazroth is threatened by dragons sent by ‘the Dark Kingdom’ along with a sorcerous plague that raises the dead for good mesure. A band of the King’s knights are sent out to slay the dragons and discover the source of the plague, encountering malevolent sirens, a band of warrior women and several other staples of the fantasy genre along the way.

The real problem the film has is that its ambitions are let down by its low budget, with the whole thing coming across as being somewhat half finished,with poor lighting and sound, at times coming perilously close to resembling a LARP home video.

The cast do well, struggling through some terribly stilted dialogue (“you can write this shit, but you sure can’t say it,” to quote a certain A list actor), and looking like they are all going to have a strong word with their agents. Ultimately, the achilles heel of the film is the budget versus the vision of the filmmakers who might have been better to scale down their ideas, along with what seems to become an interminable running time (in fact only 84 minutes.)

If, like me however you are solidly entertained by the budget end of the fantasy film spectrum, you will probably find something to entertain here if not just for a boozy film night with your mates and copious amounts of beer.

House on Elm Lake (2017) UK Dir: James Klass
Becca Hirani, Andrew Hollingworth, Tara MacGowran, Tony Manders

The Jones family move into a seemingly idyllic lakeside property in the British countryside, having purchased it for a knockdown price due to it having been the scene of a ritualistic family annihilation three years earlier. Hayley (Hirani) hopes the fresh start will repair their marriage after husband Eric’s (Hollingsworth) infidelity.

No sooner has the family settled in than things start to go bump in the night, daughter Penny (Faye Goodwin) acquires an imaginary friend and Eric’s personality becomes more and more aggressive. When Hayley begins to start witnessing apparitions she begins to delve into the dark history of the house along with a psychic investigator.

So far, so THE CONJURING, and indeed this mini budget British horror flick doesn’t stray too far from any of the tried and tested tropes of the haunted house/demonic possession sub genres.This is likely to be a marmite movie for some. It doesn’t really do anything groundbreaking with its well worn set up, and becomes a little too distracted with reliance on jump scares rather than building a sense of dread. On the plus side it is a well written and directed example of its sub genre, with lead actress Becca Hirani in particular giving a great performance as Hayley, riven with self doubt, but determined to protect her family against increasingly deranged hubby Eric (Hollingworth, channelling his best Jack Torrance.)

Filmed in eight days on a budget of £3000, the finished production transcends it’s microbudget origins, delivering an effective and at times genuinely unnerving haunted house chiller. Unlike most of its higher budgeted US produced counterparts, has a bleak and cold atmosphere that you only really find in British made horror flicks or those set in these rain swept isles (Cronenberg’s THE DEAD ZONE is an excellent exception). Lacking the slick glossiness of similar US fayre like THE CONJURING and SINISTER ends up being no great disadvantage to the film, rather acting as a boon to those of us who prefer our horror with a sliver of ice running through it. Fans of haunted house and demonic possession flicks will find a solid if unoriginal addition to the sub genre here.

Horror Express aka Panic on the Trans-Siberian Express (1972) UK/Spain Dir: Eugenio Martín (as Gene Martin) Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Alberto De Mendoza, Telly Savalas

During an expedition to China in 1906, British anthropologist Professor Sir Alexander Saxton (Lee) discovers the frozen corpse of an ape like creature. Believing it to be the Missing Link in human evolution, he has the cadaver packed into a crate aboard the Trans Siberian Express ready for transport back to England. When the ‘corpse’ thaws out the creature springs to life and begins butchering various stock euro actors. Refusing to believe it at first Saxton is spurred into action by the mounting body count, aided by rival scientist Dr Wells (Cushing). Nowadays, this would be the setup for the whole movie, but this being a visually lush bonkers Euro co-production from the early 70’s, matters do not rest here. Soon after offing several of the passengers, the ape creature is seemingly despatched, only for it to be revealed that it was merely the vessel for a malign alien intelligence that arrived on earth millions of years ago. Possessing the body of the Rasputin like priest Father Pujardov (a great scene stealing turn by Alberto de Mendoza), a companion and spiritual advisor to fellow passenger Count Petrovski, a Polish aristo. The alien seeks to utilise the Count’s metallurgical expertise to construct a craft to escape earth in. Of course…

Based very loosely on The Thing from Another World (1951), Horror Express is every bit as crazily wonderful as it sounds, firmly underpinned by the presence of horror generalissimo’s Cushing and Lee playing the whole thing straight (no mean feat given some of the hilariously bad ‘science’ uttered by the actors), de Mendoza’s Grand Guignol performance as the priest pledging allegiance to the alien intelligence believing it to be Satan(!), and a scenery chewing late entrance by Telly Savalas as police officer Captain Kazan, convinced that the whole imbroglio is a revolutionary plot to overthrow the tsar.

A graveyard schedule regular on the BBC in the 80’s and early 90’s, Horror Express exhibits the lush and decadent visuals unique to euro productions of the era, and is one of the last glorious gasps of the stylised old world horror period kicked off by Hammer studios in the late fifties. Produced between more visceral and immediate films like Night of the Living Dead (1968) and auteur horror The Exorcist (1973), it’s strange to think that only a couple of years separate this delightfully old fashioned romp from the likes of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974).

A must see for fans of Cushing and Lee and a respectable addition to any horror fan’s collection.

Dark Forest (Canada 2017) Dir: Roger Boyer

Dark Forest is an ultra low budget Canadian horror flick that riffs of those well worn staples of 80’s stalk and slash pictures, namely woods, twentysomething girls and a mad killer. Playing of these tropes, the first half of the film is a very slow burning affair that takes its time introducing the four main female protagonists, who are planning a ‘get away from it all’  weekend camping trip. Concentrating on character and dialogue is unusual enough for this kind of fayre, but the film also takes an unexpected turn when revealing that one of the girls, Emily, is feeling trapped in an abusive relationship with her controlling boyfriend Peter. After a confrontation between Peter and her friends, Emily and the girls head off into the country.

Brooding, and feeling humiliated that Emily has disobeyed his wishes, Peter sets off in pursuit, determined to exact revenge…

What at times seems to verge on becoming a run of the mill slasher is saved by strong performances, particularly from Laurel McArthur as Emily and Weronika Sokalska as her plucky mate Jolene. Dennis Scullard puts in a strong performance as the controlling psychopath Peter, even managing to lend the monster a hint of pathos in the climactic stages.

It’s also refreshing to see the female leads fighting back, and not merely being required to do the cliched scream queen thing of running through the dark in their smalls before meeting their inevitable demise. The domestic violence angle also lends the film relevance, reminding us that the horrific often occurs in everyday life, often behind closed doors and thus going unnoticed.

While the male characters are all universally unlikeable and are somewhat stock archetypes, this doesn’t much detract from proceedings as it’s pretty clear from the start that the film is the girls show. All in all then, a decent first feature from director and writer Roger Boyer, with a likeable ensemble with the four main protagonists, naturalistic dialogue, and some well done and restrained gore effects on what was clearly a tight budget.

Dark Forest is currently available to buy on DVD, Blu-Ray, or can be streamed via Amazon Prime.

Death Line aka Raw Meat (1972) UK Dir: Gary Sheerman
Donald Pleasance, Christopher Lee, Hugh Armstrong

Bleak and low key in the way only a budget horror film made in early 70’s London can be, Death Line is a wonderfully atmospheric little gem released at the fag end of the golden age of British horror that began in 1957 with Hammer Studio’s wonderfully lurid The Curse of Frankenstein, and which gradually petered out sometime in the mid 70’s.

In this depiction of England, swinging London and the summer of love are dead, replaced by smog, cynicism, and generational discord. The oil crisis, recession and punk rock await, and it’s fascinating watching this forty five year old movie and and thinking it now looks as ancient to modern eyes as the black and white Universal horror pictures did to me when I used to watch them as a kid.

Filmed mostly in and around Russell Street tube station, the film’s story centres on several mysterious disappearances that have occurred between that station and Holborn on London’s District line. While indulging in extra curricular activities in the red light district, top ranking civil servant James Manfred OBE(James Cossins) becomes the latest person to disappear. The local plod, led by Inspector Calhoun (a wonderfully terrier like Donald Pleasance) realise the disappearances are linked and begin investigating,aided by a student couple who were the last witnesses to see Manfred alive. It is discovered that the missing commuters have been attacked and eaten by a devolved inbred cannibal who it turns out, is the last surviving descendant of a group of labourers walled in alive after an accidental cave in during excavation work in 1892.

With a limited budget, the film makes the most of its gloomy and claustrophobic locations, and is prevented from going into a cliched madman on the loose tale by the injection of real pathos in Hugh Armstrong’s performance as ‘The Man’. Quite an achievement to evoke audience sympathy for a cannibalistic serial killer with only grunts and moans for dialogue.

Christopher Lee makes a cameo as an officious, passive aggressive intelligence officer, rubbing up against the earthy working class Calhoun (although Lee and Pleasance never share the screen owing to the two actors height differentials).

Already an established star, Pleasance would go on to horror icon status as Dr Sam Loomis in John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978), a role that Lee turned down and would later regret doing so. Director Sheerman went on to make the early 80’s curio Dead & Buried, which briefly made the BBFC’s banned list during the ‘video nasties’ furore, and the underwhelming Poltergeist III. Death Line remains superior to both, and also functions as a fascinating time capsule of 1970’s London.

Apparently one of director Edgar Wright’s favourites, at the time of writing Death Line is currently available to buy on DVD from Amazon. A worthwhile addition to any horror collection.

Berberian-Sound-Studio

An affectionate homage to seventies Italian giallo movies, Berberian Sound Studio stars the always dependable Toby Jones in diffident Englishman mode as Gilderoy, a sound engineer hired by the eponymous film studio to create the sound design for their latest feature The Equestrian Vortex, which the slightly unworldly Gilderoy naively assumes to concern our equine friends, but which, of course, turns out to be exploitation schlock horror of the kind that got the British tabloids all worked up at the dawn of the VHS era in the early 80’s.

This being a film primarily about sound as its title suggests, we get to see nothing of the visual aspects of the fictional movie within a movie, bar its grotesquely lurid title sequence which is cleverly substituted for the credits sequence of the ‘real’ film the audience is watching. Instead we get glimpses of its narrative through the characters dialogue and sound effects (most Italian movies of this kind were usually shot cheaply, without sound, with the dialogue dubbed over the top in several languages, enabling the studios to distribute their productions into numerous European and overseas markets).

Gilderoy, belatedly realising he isn’t making a documentary on equestrian pursuits, but a horror film about undead witches laced with healthy dollops of misogyny and sadistic violence, starts to become ever more estranged from the rest of the production staff, most of whom consist of surly engineers, an ice maiden secretary and a production head with the sexual morals of Attila the Hun. Right from the start we get a feel for the englishman’s sense of alienation and displacement in a foreign clime, exemplified first by the language barrier, then by the byzantine office politics, and treatment of actresses that would make the Taliban blush.

Up to this point, at about two thirds in, I’ll admit I wasn’t sure where the film was heading, and the last third veers off into Lynchian surrealism, which judging from a lot of reviews I’ve read definitely isn’t a lot of people’s cup of tea. My own reaction was one of slight frustration, as it seemed the film lacked the courage of its convictions (is Gilderoy suffering hallucinations due to his isolation, is he going mad?) in taking the story to its ambiguous conclusion. That said, Berberian Sound Studio is perhaps best viewed as an experience, rather than a strict piece of narrative. The last act certainly has the quality of a nightmare, in keeping with a lot of Italian horror movies and giallo of this period (check out Lamberto Bava’s Demons, if you haven’t already, for a great example of this).

Certainly recommended for those with an appreciation of the oevres of Dario Argento and Mario Bava, and the underbelly of Italian seventies cinema in general. An interesting curio.

NB -For those interested Berberian Sound Studio’s director Peter Strickland (great name, but sadly no relation) has recently directed a reimagining of Nigel Kneale’s classic 70’s chiller The Stone Tape for Radio 4. At the time of writing, it’s still got a week to go on iPlayer, and is well worth an hour of your time.

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Kurt Russell? Check. Old West setting? Check. Cannibal troglodyte mountain men? Check.

Well, you had me at hello. A Sunday afternoon trip to favoured cinephile haunt the Broadway with my old partner in crime Alan saw pair of us spend an enjoyable couple of hours viewing this under the radar mash up of two of our favourite genres, namely the western and horror. As you might have guessed from my opener, I’m a bit of a sucker for anything with Kurt in (Overboard and Captain Ron are great films, and I’ll take issue with any man who says otherwise.) Apart from that other little Tarantino flick he’s just knocked out, the last film where The Russell has sported such impressive facial hair was the stone cold 90’s classic Tombstone. Clearly I was in for a treat.

I wasn’t disappointed. Okay, the film does have some flaws (a bit more tension in places wouldn’t have gone amiss, along with a ramping up of the grand guignol splatter element), but these are minor quibbles in what turns out to be a solid and respectable, if not quite a classic effort from director S. Craig Zyler.

The opening prologue sees a welcome cameo by genre stalwart Sid Haig, playing drifter Buddy, cutting throats and stealing from a bunch of napping cowhands along with his ne’er do well partner Purvis (a seedy David Arquette). Sure enough they soon stumble into a weird burial ground where natural justice is inevitably soon dispensed, with Buddy quickly dispatched with an arrow to the throat followed by disembowelling by a shadowy assailant, and the terrified Purvis making a desperate run for it.

Cut to the frontier town of Bright Hope where a drunken and nervy Purvis is confronted by Sherriff Hunt (Russell) and town troubleshooter and ladies man Brooder (Lost’s Matthew Fox). Shot in the leg trying to escape, Purvis is quickly thrown into jail where Hunt calls on the services of town doctor Samantha O’Dwyer (True Detective’s Lili Simmons) to patch up the miscreant.

Sure enough Buddy’s mysterious killers have followed Purvis to Bright Hope where they wreak some bloody mayhem before abducting Samantha, Purvis and Deputy Sheriff Nick (Evan Jonigkeit). Examining an arrow left behind by the attackers, token Native American Chief Ominous Exposition informs Hunt and Samantha’s distraught husband Arthur O’Dwyer (the excellent Patrick Wilson) that it belongs to a band of ‘trogodytes’, a tribe of devolved cannibal savages, who dwell in the ‘Valley of the Starving Men’ (how did the US Cavalry miss this lot?). Sheriff Hunt and O’Dwyer decide to form a posse with Brooder and back up deputy and comic relief Chicory (Richard Jenkins) to rescue the captives.

From this point the film enters into The Searchers meets The Hills Have Eyes territory where the macho men of the old west most definitely meet their match in the troglodytes (interestingly, their look evokes that of the cannibals in Ruggero Deodato’s infamous 1980 splatter Cannibal Holocaust and its many imitators) and the wilderness itself begins to take on an ever more threatening mileau.

As with a lot of horror flicks, the theme of masculinity in crisis looms large. Arthur O’Dwyer has been rendered lame, his leg broken in the course of a roof repair, and both Hunt and Brooder mine the classic western trope of violent men outliving their time (The Wild Bunch, The Shootist, Unforgiven.) While this serves to give their characters a certain mythic air, this is splendidly punctured later on when the captive Samantha berates Hunt and Chicory on the ‘stupidity of frontier life’ in them allowing her lame husband to accompany them on the rescue mission against a tribe of bloodthirsty cannibals. There’s just no helping some people. One scene of (literally) gut wrenching violence later, and it seems as if the posse’s emasculation is complete (where is Snake Plissken when you need him?).

I won’t give anything more away though, suffice to say it’s not for the squeamish (but then why ever would you come to this blog? Stumbled upon by accident you say? You’ll never leave…), but an interesting and solid attempt to marry together two iconic film genres.