Happy bank holiday evening film fiends! First things first – The Stricken Land has joined up with those great folks over at the Smashbomb website! For those unaware, Smashbomb is a review aggregator covering all manner of media, from films, books, video games comics to music as well as stuff like podcasts, tv shows and even tabletop games.

It’s a truly brilliant ‘bottom up’ initiative bringing no nonsense, ‘from the coalface’ honest reviews from media consumers themselves. And with most things in theses days of the Internet Revolution, the best things is that anyone can join in. Sign up now and users can earn kudos points and badges dependent o  how many reviews they post and the level of interaction they generate from other users. And look out for yours truly leading the trash cinema invasion on this, er, smashing new platform!
Any way, enough of my promotional prelude – a veritable plethora of celluloid goodness to while away the remainder of the long weekend –

Dark Star Pictures has announced a June 4, 2019 digital release for the Spanish Civil War whimsical comedy THE BASTARDS’ FIG TREE.
Ana Murugarren’s genre-meshing masterpiece provides a fresh, magical exploration of the horrors of the Spanish Civil War, showing both the brutality of war and its ability to inspire hope and change in a broken society. Karra Elejalde stars.
Near the end of the Spanish War, a “trigger happy” fascist soldier turns into a hermit and gets caught up in the care of a fig tree after the look in a ten year old child’s eyes, son of one of his victims, awakes in him the certainty that the kid will kill him as soon as he reaches sixteen years of age.THE BASTARDS’ FIG TREE. available on digital June 4 (US).

An award-winning new film about a haunted road in New Jersey has been picked up for distribution by Midnight Releasing, who are targeting a summer theatrical bow.

CLINTON ROAD, directed by Steve Stanulis and Richard Grieco, stars internationally acclaimed musician and actor Ice-T (New Jack City, “Law & Order : SVU”), James DeBello (Cabin Fever, Detroit Rock City), Vincent Pastore (“The Sopranos”, Goodfellas), and Erin O’Brien (Pernicious, Killing Joan).
In the film, scripted by Derek Ross Mackay, a widowed fire fighter seeks closure after his wife goes missing on an actual haunted road in rural New Jersey but must unlock the roads secret if he wants to get out alive.

Ace Young (BONES), Katie Morrison (THE BLACKLIST), Bo Dietl (VINYL), and Oscar Nominee Eric Roberts also star. Grieco, Noel Ashman and Steve Stanulis produce. The PVOD release of CLINTON ROAD begins June 14 (US)

Director Mark Wilson’s WADE IN THE WATER, a semi-finalist for the prestigious Nicholl Fellowships in 2018, will premiere at the prestigious Dances with Films Film Festival Wednesday, June 19th, 2019 at 7:15 PM.  
Sure, our man never gives his name. He works from home. His neighbours are all idiots. He doesn’t really “do” friends. But all that changes when a mis-delivered package arrives in his post office box bearing a horrifying secret –one that will set him on a collision course with a predator, the man’s disillusioned daughter, and his own dark past.


Real Rob’s Tom E.Nicholson and Danika Golombek (I AM THE NIGHT) star. Wilson, whose film was awarded “Best Drama” at the 2019 Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival, directs from a script by Chris Retts.
From writer-director Keith Sutliff, a non-stop thrill ride through the streets of Los Angeles, THE REFUGE in theatres June 28.

A getaway driver finds himself in harm’s way when he gets caught up in a job involving casino heist money in the adrenaline-charged new crime thriller from Keith Sutliff. KS Pictures presents THE REFUGE, starring Keith Sutliff (THE MASON BROTHERS), Julien Cesario (CLOSE RANGE), Matthew Webb (127 HOURS), Reine Swart (THE LULLABY), Stefanie Estes (BETHANY), Demeterius Stear (DEATH POOL), Martin Copping (HAWAII FIVE-O) and Cheyenne Buchanan (A DARK PLACE).
In US Theatres June 28.


From Robert McGinley, the writer, director, and star of the apocalyptic skate punk classic SHREDDER ORPHEUS, DANGER DIVA is the brand new cyberpunk rock-enthused thriller starring Molly Sides of Thunderpussy! Unlike anything before it, DANGER DIVA is a science fiction futurist nightmare for the ages.Marie Adler, CEO of Adler and Associates remarks, “We’re excited to be working with Robert. Everyone knows him as a veteran director and cult-classic hero but with Danger Diva he has really outdone himself.”
Robert McGinley notes, “Marie Adler and her team are true believers in independent film and have a sustainable business plan built to navigate the changing landscape of film distribution. Their sales and marketing approach to DANGER DIVA bodes well for the film finding a devoted audience and I look forward to our collaboration on this and future endeavors.”
In DANGER DIVA, audiences are taken on a dystopian journey into the near future with hard rock singer Devi Danger (played by Molly Sides) as she is coerced into becoming an electronically enhanced new-music diva. Her singing voice is used to control and energize the brains of indoctrinated employees (also known as “Brain Cattle”) that are being used as external processors for the advancement of corporate high tech clients. Operating in a digital sweatshop, these “Brain Cattle” process binary algorithms that serve as a chorus for Devi Danger.  
Writer / director McGinley’s influences for the film came mainly from cyberpunk literature and films; in particular, William Gibson’s “NEUROMANCER” and the science-fiction classic, BLADE RUNNER. Further inspired by the Ella Fitzgerald “Is it live, or is it Memorex” commercial, DANGER DIVA explores the conflict between high tech vs. high touch, and what it means to be human in a digitally enhanced bio- tech future.  
Music anchors these themes with an eclectic rocking score with songs by Seattle-based rock band THUNDERPUSSY and composer Regan Remy. McGinley explains, “In the midst of this rock ‘n roll saga, the audience will have an opportunity to ponder future technology nightmares like the use of enslaved human brains as external hard drive processors, or employing human offspring as vehicles for life extension.”
DANGER DIVA will screen at Cannes Film Festival on May 17th at 8:00PM at Palais des Festivals et des Congrès located at 1 Boulevard de la Croisette, 06400 Cannes, France.

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!

Here I am to ward off those Monday morning blues with a slate of under the radar bad movie goodness –

A man of the cloth turns Jurassic in Wild Eye Releasing’s THE VELOCIPASTOR – coming later this year from the reputable genre label!After a devastating family tragedy, a priest travels to China to find deeper spirituality, but instead is endowed with an ancient ability that allows him to turn into a dinosaur. At first, he is horrified by his newfound superpower, but a local prostitute convinces him to use his newfound gift to fight evil – and ninjas.

https://youtu.be/7Nyb0GqAjKM

Gregory James Cohan, Alyssa Kempinski, Daniel Steere, Yang Jiechang, Jesse Turits, Fernando Pacheco de Castro star with Aurelio Voltaire in the Wild Eye Releasing title.

Devilworks Drops poster and Trailer for UK Supernatural Horror ‘The Young Cannibals’ from writer/director duo Kris Carr and Sam Fowler. 
 Starring Megan Purvis and Hannah Louise Howell, this fast-paced horror follows a group of friends as they arrive at a secluded campsite, where they plan on spending a relaxing weekend by the lake. What they didn’t plan on, was being tricked into eating burgers made of human flesh. This act summons an unrelenting supernatural creature, which hunts them down one by one.

https://youtu.be/i8AjG4uXgJY

The film was produced by Charlie Pride for Bad Taste Pictures.
Devilworks is representing Worldwide rights and will start to sell at the upcoming Cannes 

Juan Frausto, director of Road Kill and Once Upon a Time in the Hood, invites you to log on for a streaming screamfest that will leave one girl possessed… and you on the edge of your seat!
 Playing with a Ouija board is dangerous, and college student Rebecca Clarkson (Katherine Munroe) is now documenting the proof, as day by day a demon takes possession of her while a webcam audience watch the horrific event.

https://youtu.be/ZdzKuBS5jNQ

Eileen Dietz (The Exorcist), Johnny Ortiz (Peppermint), Noel Gugliemi (“Fresh Off The Boat”), Monica Engesser (“Crazy in Love”), and Delilah Cotto (Empire) star alongside James Russo and Katherine Munroe in The Possession Diaries, on DVD and Digital June 4, 2019 from Uncork’d Entertainment.

Connect with Crisis Hotline, from acclaimed filmmaker Mark Schwab, this June from High Octane Pictures.

A cynical counselor at a crisis hotline finds himself in a life or death situation when a young man calls and threatens to kill three people and then himself.

https://youtu.be/73yyrfLfoQI

Corey Jackson, Christian Gabriel and Pano Tsaklas star.
Written and directed by Mark Schwab, and produced by Diamond in the Rough Films, Crisis Hotlinearrives on digital and DVD June 11.

Documentary Examines Beloved, Sometimes Demonized, Children’s Horror Book Series 

            Los Angeles, California – Scary Stories, the highly anticipated documentary about Alvin Schwartz’ iconic Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark book series, will debut in select theaters beginning April 26 via Wild Eye Releasing.
Explore the history of one of the most controversial works of modern children’s literature: The best selling teen classic Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, which scared a generation of young readers and became one of the most banned books of modern times. Scary Stories creates both the ultimate celebration and dissertation of this iconic piece of horror literature.

Following the limited theatrical release – which includes Los Angeles, New Orleans, Columbus, and Texas – Scary Stories will be available on VOD May 7 with a DVD release set for July 16.
Cody Meirick’s film features more than 40 interviews, from family members of author Alvin Schwartz, to fellow children’s book horror authors like R.L Stine (Goosebumps) and Q.L. Pearce, to folklorists, artists and fans discussing the impact that the books have had on both themselves as well as the culture at large. The documentary also explores the various times in which the books were banned or targeted by parent and religious groups as ‘satanic’ or otherwise too macabre for its targeted teen scholastic audience.

https://youtu.be/d2n5NSJNe9A

Penned by Schwartz and illustrated by Stephen Gammell, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is a three-volume series consisting of short horror stories for pre-teens and children that were adapted from American folklore and urban legends.  Because of some of the violent illustrations and the subject matter, parent groups, religious organizations and school boards had the books pulled from libraries and schools at various times. A feature film adaptation of the books, produced by horror icon Guillermo del Toro, is due in theaters this summer. 

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.

Good morning bad movie hombres and hombrettes! Just going through my backlog of new release emails, hence the two newblast in a single week. Feast your eyes and souls…

The witchcraft-centric horror film Blood Craft, featuring Dominique Swain (Face-Off), Dave Sheridan (The Devil’s Rejects), Mark Rolston (Aliens) and Twilight’s Michael Welch (The Final Wish) is out now!.

Directed and co-written by genre specialist James Cullen Bressack, the film tells of two witchcraft-practicing sisters (Madeleine Wade and Augie Duke) out to get revenge on their already dead father. Madeleine Wade, who also stars in the film, co-wrote the screenplay.

The film, which will first play festivals through March, on digital April 9th.

The film was produced by James Cullen Bressack, Micah Brandt, James Thomas, and Madeleine Wade.

Official synopsis : Two sisters who suffered abuse as children at the hands of their sadistic father decide, after his death, to use witchcraft to bring his spirit back to get revenge.

Luciana Faulhaber’s unique, female-directed twist on horror films DON’T LOOK releases on VOD and DVD May 14 from Wild Eye Releasing.

Scripted by Jessica Boucher and Danielle Killay, DON’T LOOK centers on five New York City Millennials who escape the big city for a rustic Thanksgiving weekend in the country. But as will happen in horror, something threatens to shatter their peaceful getaway and they are targeted for murder.

The film, Faulhaber’s debut, recreates “the pure fun of 80’s classics like Friday the 13th, The Burning or April Fool’s Day” (Nightmarish Conjurings) with a modern twist.

Director and co-producer Faulhaber says of the film: “It was important for me to create work that shows the female characters as they are in real life – none of us are waiting to be saved by some prince charming.”

Faulhaber stars in the film alongside Jeff Berg, Jarrod Robbins, Curtis K. Case, Lindsay Eshelman, and Javier E. Gómez.

Don’t go into the deep end!

A creature lurks within a swimming pool in Georges Padey’s chlorine-infused frightfest Drowning Echo.

During a visit to friends, Sara (Itziar Martinez) begins having visions and is attacked by an unearthly creature in her friend’s swimming pool. She soon discovers that anyone who comes into contact with the water is in danger and she is driven to confront the mystical and malevolent creature lurking in the depths.

Also starring Jane the Virgin’s Dennis Mencia, Drowning Echo is available now on VOD and DVD from High Octane Pictures.

An atomic blonde is gunning for a kill in Impossible Mission, available On Demand and VOD May 7 from High Octane Pictures.

Rosa, a master assassin with a knack for poisons sets out on a search and destroy mission against a spiritual leader, but conflicts within her own organization may spell disaster for her long before she ever closes in on her target.

From writer/director Gilles Gambino, and starring Jimena Gala, Ben Vinnicombe, and James Giblin, Impossible Mission gets underway May 7 on VOD and DVD.

A horror legend returns this April when writer/director Dan Allen awakens the dead in The Mummy Reborn.

Written by Dan Allen and Scott Jeffrey, The Mummy Reborn tells of a group of teens in financial ruin that decide to rob the local antique store of an ancient amulet. But what they don’t realise is that this tomb is cursed, and when the amulet is separated from it’s master he will do anything to get it back. Our burglars must save the day and return the Mummy to it’s tomb before it is too late to save the world.

Becca Hirani (The House on Elm Lake), Tara MacGowran (Mandy the Doll), and Rita Siddiqui (Pet Graveyard) star in a Proportion Productions release.

Packed with adventure and coffined with scares, The Mummy Reborn is available on now VOD and DVD from High Octane Pictures.

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 publicise 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

Hail there film fiends, and a very merry bank holiday to you!

As promised last week here’s a boatload of new releases to wet your appetite –

PET GRAVEYARD concerns a group of friends tormented by the Grim Reaper and his sinister pet after they undergo an experiment that allows them to revisit the dead.  The film marks the directorial debut of Rebecca J. Matthews (producer of MOTHER KRAMPUS), from a screenplay by Suzy Spade.  Scott Jeffrey (THE BAD NUN) produces.  Jeff Miller (THE TOYBOX, OUIJA HOUSE) is executive producer.

The movie stars Jessica O’Toole, David Cotter, Rita Siddiqui, Hindolo Koroma, Kate Milner-Evans, Georgina Jane, T’Jean Uter-Dinh, and Hattie Willow.

PET GRAVEYARD is on release on dvd/digital in North America now.  Uncork’d Entertainment is handling worldwide distribution.

Award-winning* dystopian thriller Division 19, starring Mandy’s Linus Roache and Alison Doody (from Indiana Jones and the last Crusade), heads to theatres and digital this April from Uncork’d Entertainment.

In the future, prisons have been turned into online portals where paying subscribers get to vote on what felons eat, watch, wear and who they fight. Panopticon TV is so successful it is about to be rolled out to a whole new town. When the world’s most downloaded felon escapes, the authorities set a trap to reel him in. The bait is his little brother who has so far managed to avoid detection.

Also starring Jamie Draven (Billy Elliot), Lotte Verbeek (Outlander), Clarke Peters (Jessica Jones), L. Scott Caldwell (Lost) and Will Rothhaar (Grimm), District 19 is written and directed by S A Halewood.

Division 19 in theatres and available on demand now.

*WINNER Critics’ Award, Fantasporto Film Festival, WINNER Best Director Suzie Halewood, Boston Science Fiction Film Festival 2018

Widely regarded as one of the goriest films in years, Brazilian horror hitCannibal Club, directed by Guto Parente, premieres in North America this March via Uncork’d Entertainment.

Otavio and Gilda are a very wealthy couple of the Brazilian elite who have the habit of eating their employees. Otavio owns a private security company and is a notable member of The Cannibal Club. When Gilda accidentally discovers a secret from Borges, a powerful congressman and the Club’s leader, her and her husband’s lives are in grave danger. 

Cannibal Club is on US release now.

The Hallucinatory Epic From Writer/Director/FX Master Gabe Bartalos comes home this May!
Warwick Davis (Leprechaun) features in the hallucinatory new horror epic Saint Bernard, releasing this May!

From legendary FX Master Gabe Bartalos (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Darkman) comes a “must-see for the truly adventurous” (UnseenFilms.net), premiering on Blu-ray, DVD and digital platforms May 14 from Severin Films.

Shot on Super 16mm and 35mm film, the highly-anticipated horror jaunt fixes on a classical musical conductor who unravels into the abyss of insanity.  Jason Dugre (Bosch), Katy Sullivan (Last Man Standing), Peter Iasillo Jr. (HellBilly 58), Bob Zmuda (Man on the Moon) and Warwick Davis (Leprechaun, Solo, Return of the Jedi) star.

Gabe Bartalos, the film’s director, writer and special effects artist pulls heavily from his ripe imagination, creating extraordinary characters, bizarre set designs, and incredibly inspired prosthetic effects. Amid a palette of dark themes, the film takes its audience on a turbulent ride through Bernard’s surreal adventures as he spirals into madness.

Saint Bernard’s marvellously hypnotic tone displays influences characteristic of prior collaborations with art world icon Matthew Barney, horror aficionado Frank Henenlotter, and renowned photographer Mark Seliger, yet carves out a distinct new voice for Bartalos.

Saint Bernard out May 14 from Severin Films.

Highly-anticipated suspense thriller Room for Rent, starring veteran actress Lin Shaye (the Insidious franchise, Ouija), will be released in theatres and on digital this May.

Room for Rent, stars Shaye as a lonely widow who rents out a room in her house and becomes dangerously obsessed with one of her guests.

The Uncork’d Entertainment release, also starring Oliver Rayon, Valeska Miller, and Ryan Ochoa, opens May 3 in select theatres and releases May 7 on digitalin the US.

Lonely widow Joyce rents out a room to make easy money.  She meets mysterious drifter Bob and takes him in as a long-term tenant.  She becomes obsessed with her much younger guest, making him the object of her deepest romantic fantasies.  When a friend’s betrayal derails Joyce’s fantasy world, she seizes control of her own destiny with a deadly mission to finally get what she deserves.

Long-awaited Horror fantasy Flay, from director Eric Pham, will be released April 2 from Phame Factory.

Flay hails from a filmmaker who cut his teeth working VFX work on some of Robert Rodriguez’s best known films, including Grindhouse and Sin City.

The film features Alita : Battle Angel‘s Elle LaMont, Violett Beane (The Flash) andPhantasm star A. Michael Baldwin. Dalton Gray (Lazer Team, Dumber and Dumber To), Johnny Walter, Aaron Spivey-Sorrells, Peggy Schott, Kaylee King and Noe de la Garza also star.

After the death of her mother, an estranged daughter struggles to save her brother, and those around her from a malevolent faceless spirit.

Flay available digitally now from Phame Factory.

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

Hail there film fiends!

Muchos apologias for the long bout of radio silence, what with Christmas, having the builders in and generally juggling the life admin, I’ve had little to no time to devote myself to the site.

Four months into 2019 and I’ve finally managed to put fingers to keyboard and there’s a backlog of ace looking releases coming up, the first of which comes from British retro horror outfit Dark Temple Pictures. Check out the splattertastic awesomeness of WINTERSKIN –

From acclaimed filmmaker Charlie Steeds, and starring David Lenik (Escape From Cannibal Farm) and Rowena Bentley (The House Of Violent Desire)comes a frostbitten frightfest that snatches the breath, Winterskin, available on digital May 21 from High Octane Pictures.

Gunned down in the snowy wilderness and desperate for shelter, Billy Cavanagh is taken in by kooky old lady Agnes, unaware that her isolated log cabin is being stalked by a bloodthirsty skinless creature hellbent on getting inside.

From Dark Temple Films, and also starring Barrington De La Roche, Peter Cosgrove, Kate Davies-Speak, John Lomas, Harrison Nash and Dylan Curtis, Winterskin is available May 21 on digital in North America.

More news on a UK release when I get it, but in the meantime UK and European horror fans can feast their eyes on the trailer and promotional images –

That’s all for today folks, I’m hoping to post a review of WINTERSKIN in the next couple of weeks, but in the meantime keep your eyes peeled on the site as I’ll be adding more new release news to the site this week!

Spread the word!

Ian

 

Good morning film fiends! Lots of goodness on the slate this week including the ace looking LIFECHANGER. Let’s dive in –

Erik Black is a broken soul due to the loss of his wife. He spends his days alone and self-medicating. All of that changes when his estranged son asks him to help him reach an undisclosed destination. There, he says, he will receive a divine message he believes will change the course of humanity. To survive they must stick together while fostering a belief in something greater than themselves.

PRODIGY, starring Tyler Roy Roberts (Z NATION), Cory Kays (LOOKING FOR ANDREW) and King Amir Allahyar (FAÇADE), on VOD December 4 and DVD January 1 from Uncork’d Entertainment.

 

400 Years Ago Sir Walter Raleigh Searched For El Dorado … Today It Was Found.
In the tradition of INDIANA JONES and TOMB RAIDER, comes a thrilling adventure in search of… the city of gold.


Vernon Wells (THE ROAD WARRIOR, COMMANDO, INNERSPACE), Christopher Atkins (THE BLUE LAGOON, THE PIRATE MOVIE) and Branscombe Richmond (CHICAGO MED, THE SCORPION KING) star in THE CITY OF GOLD, on VOD December 4 and DVD January 1, 2019.



An anguished media magnate, Jonathan Davenport, accompanies his estranged lover to the Peruvian Amazon in pursuit of a reclusive artist living in rebel occupation. Despite their philanthropic intentions, the mission proves to be the harbinger of something dark and ominous rooted deep within Jonathan.
John Charles Meyer (AVENGED), Adrienne Whitney Papp (THE RESIDENT), Riley Dandy (DOUBLE PLAY), Robbie Allen (HELLBLAZER) and Jennifer Rikert Wolski (ESCAPE ARTIST) star in a film directed by Harry Locke IV and written by Ronald A.Blum.
From High Octane Pictures, THE CITY OF GOLD on VOD December 4 and DVD January 1, 2019.

 

Anthony Peterson has 24 hours of air. A cell phone. And no way out.
In the tradition of SAW and BURIED, CARGO on VOD and DVD November 13 from Wild Eye Releasing.
A man wakes trapped inside a cargo container with only a cell phone and is given 24 hours by his kidnappers to raise ten million dollars in ransom or die.
Ron Thompson (American Me), Corbin Timbrook (The Glass Shield), Jose Rosete (”The Walking Dead: Red Machete”) and Danika Fields (”The Doctors”) star in a James Dylan film.

 

Swedish chiller THE CABIN, the debut feature for Johan Bodell, is set for a North American premiere this December.


Young American couple, Rose (Caitlin Crommett) and Harry (Christopher Lee Page) are on their way to visit Harrys family cabin. Both as a nostalgic vacation and as a way to rekindle their relationship. But they’re not the only one that decided to visit the cabin this weekend… The vacation is quickly turned into a living nightmare for Rose and Harry as they meet a vicious sociopath, who invites them into a involuntary cat and mouse game. ​
THE CABIN, scripted by Erik Kammerland and produced by Alec Trachtenberg of Coast ART Productions and KW Studios, takes you to the rural backwater of the Swedish summer, and on a ride you will never forget.
Available on VOD/DVD December 4 from High Octane Pictures.

 

The highly anticipated LIFECHANGER will be released in North America January 1, 2019, by Uncork’d Entertainment.


Written and directed by Justin McConnell, LIFECHANGER tells of a murderous shape-shifter that sets out on a blood-soaked mission to make things right with the woman he loves.
Drew has an identity problem. Every few days, has to shape-shift, or face a painful death. He has to find someone and make a copy. He takes everything: their looks, memories, hopes, and dreams. Their entire life. He becomes them, and they die horribly. Enter Julia, the object of Drew’s affection. How can he make things right when he’s never the same person for very long? How do you gain back trust when who you are keeps changing? Part psychological thriller, part body horror, Lifechanger follows one shape-shifters’ twisted quest to repair the damage he’s caused, while leaving a trail of bodies in his wake.

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

 

Overlord (USA 2018) Dir: Julius Avery
Jovan Adepo, Wyatt Russell, Mathilde Ollivier, Pilou Asbæk

I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that the war and horror film genres should be natural bedfellows, and given that World War II is indelibly etched into both British and American popular culture it’s surprising that the many cross genre films that have been attempted have all been execrable dross (special mention for Michael Mann’s 1983 effort THE KEEP, but even that’s a very mixed bag.)

Step forward OVERLORD, the latest offering from JJ Abrams’ Bad Robot stable. The trailer promised much, with FURY levels of war violence mixed in with the Nazi super soldiers trope topped of with AC/DC on the soundtrack. Thankfully, director Julius Avery’s Ronseal approach to his film means we pretty much get what we were promised. The tight narrative sees gentle farm boy turned paratrooper Boyce (Adepo) and his comrades dropped into occupied France on the eve of D-Day to take out a German radio tower located in a nearby town.

They soon discover something very nefarious going on in the German base involving human experiments conducted by the sinister Dr Schmidt (Erich Redman) backed up by rent a villain Nazi Commandant Wagner (Asbæk).

OVERLORD knows that it’s b-movie schlock albeit backed with a decent budget and studio backed marketing, and it and wisely chooses to revels in the fact. With that in mind the script takes care to avoid any incongruous humour, and the cast play the whole thing straight. Thus  we avoid tipping into IRON SKY territory with proceedings kept just the right side of ludicrous, as Avery cranks the cartoonish level of violence all the way to eleven.

Unlike the current glut of spandex drenched bore-a-thons bunging up the multiplexes, OVERLORD doesn’t lose sight of the story it is telling and never feels like it has neglected its narrative in favour of spectacle. Sure, it may come in for criticism from some quarters for its theme of Nazi human experimentation, but these are Indiana Jones style comic book nazis, and while Avery’s film riffs off old school exploitation it never reaches ILSA, SHE WOLF OF THE SS levels of bad taste either.

This is a solid action horror that, while containing no surprises, certainly won’t disappoint its intended audience either. And on the face of it who ever went to see an action-horror mash up featuring Nazi super soldiers expecting Shakespearean levels of character development?

Halloween (USA 2018) Dir: David Gordon Green

Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, James Jude Courtney, Nick Castle

The 1980’s saw saw the horror genre dominated by the slasher movie; cheaply produced, formulaic shockers revolving around gormless American teenagers being despatched by mysterious masked killers using inventive but increasingly contrived methods of dealing death.

John Carpenter’s seminal 1978 independent horror flick HALLOWEEN was the film that really kicked off enthusiasm for the sub genre, despite coming four years after Bob Clark’s proto slasher BLACK CHRISTMAS, the tale of an all female sorority house terrorised by a mysterious killer. Carpenter’s efficient, stripped down chiller perfected the formula in the tale of escaped mental patient Michael Myers who returns to his home town fifteen years after murdering his sister on Halloween night, intent on reliving his crime. It quickly became the most financially successful independent film on record at the time, and led to a slew of imitations as well as a series of inferior sequels, both direct and retconned, the last of which, HALLOWEEN: RESURRECTION (2002)  saw the series surely reach its nadir in the scene featuring rapper Busta Rhymes karate kicking Myers through a window.

Thankfully no such incongruous nonsense intrudes on David Gordon Green’s retconned sequel for production outfit Blumhouse. Picking up the story in real time, forty years after Myers’ rampage in the first movie, the script by Green, Danny McBride and Jeff Fradley wisely ignores the convoluted sequels. Which means no familial connection with Laurie Strode (Curtis), who hasn’t perished in a car accident, no Jamie Lloyd and no Thorn cult thank goodness, (the point in the series where it really jumped the proverbial shark in this reviewer’s humble opinion.)

With all that baggage out of the way (I like to think of the previous sequels as different timelines) the film is free to forge its own path, which, with a few caveats I think it does successfully. The story picks up with Michael incarcerated back in the Smiths Grove Mental Institute where he has been under close observation by the shifty looking Dr Sartain (Haluk Bilginer), a protege of the now deceased Dr Loomis. Frustrated that Sartain has made no progress with his studies of Myers, the authorities order that he be transferred to a much less ‘comfortable’ institution. In a last ditch attempt to reach Michael, Sartain allows access to two investigative journalists (Rhian Rees and Jefferson Hall) putting together a podcast (how 2018!) about the 1978 murders, but they too are unable to penetrate Myers’ wall of silence.

Meanwhile, original final girl Laurie Strode lives a solitary life in a fortified compound, two failed marriages behind her and an estranged daughter and granddaughter testament to the PTSD she has suffered since her fateful encounter with ‘the Shape’ four decades earlier. When the bus transporting Myers mysteriously crashes, Laurie’s warnings are dismissed as paranoid ravings by her family, and the stage is set for history to repeat itself on Halloween night…

The essential problem with the HALLOWEEN series is the same one that bedevils all slasher movies, and that is the in built limitation of the central idea; a madman stalking a bunch of luckless victims is essentially a one film deal. If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. But money talks, and inevitable sequels follow put together by luckless directors for hire in which the only real way they can try and put a spin on the story is to explore the character and motives of the mad killer protagonist, which only serves to demystify them, thus diluting their scare factor (the recent ALIEN prequels are also guilty of this with the xenomorph.)

The new film sensibly avoids going down this route, leaving Michael as the enigmatic, relentless force of pure evil that Carpenter originally envisaged. He doesn’t want to rape, or torture. He doesn’t want money and can’t be bought off in any way. Michael Myers doesn’t seem to have or need a motive and that’s what makes him truly frightening. He’s a flesh and blood version of THE TERMINATOR.

Leaving alone any exploration of Myers’s character means that the film’s focus is instead on Curtis’ Laurie Strode and the long lasting psychological scars left on her and her family from her ordeal all those years ago. Pretty much from the first moment she is on screen, it’s clear that this is going to be Curtis’ show and she clearly relishes Laurie’s transformation into a paranoid backwoods gun lady reminiscent of T2 era Sarah Connor.

The rest of the cast portray characters that essentially exist either as inevitable victims, or to give us an insight into either of the two main protagonists. Through daughter Karen (Judy Greer) we get a glimpse of growing up under the care of the helicopter mum from hell, while exposure to Myers seems to have unbalanced Dr Sartain (in the same way as was hinted in Donald Pleasance’s manic portrayal of Dr Loomis.) Granddaughter Allyson (Matichak)  has little to do other than fend off teenage suitors and run around a lot. As a character she lacks any real depth, so it’s difficult to empathise with her, and unlike the girls in the original it never feels like she is in any real peril. This is a minor quibble though, and Matichak at least gives her all to an underwritten role that ultimately has to play second fiddle to Curtis.

Inevitably a prisoner of the constraints of its own sub genre, HALLOWEEN is part sequel, part remake and part tribute movie to the original with a plethora of nods to the 1978 film, and even a little Easter egg for fans of the underrated HALLOWEEN III SEASON OF THE WITCH in the form of the Silver Shamrock masks. But that said, this is still a solid addition to the franchise that both looks and feels like a ‘true’ sequel to John Carpenter’s original low budget masterwork, while managing to tread the fine line between celebrating its source material and wallowing in nostalgia.

As is traditional for the smasher movie, the end leaves the story wide open for a sequel, and given its more than healthy box office take, the temptation for Blumhouse will likely prove irresistible.

Let’s just hope they resist the urge to cast any rap stars in it.

https://youtu.be/ek1ePFp-nBI

Good morning film fiends, and happy Bonfire Night to all my fellow Brits! I’ve got four great previews to put on your midnight movie viewing lists and cheer you all up on these cold winter nights! Let’s take a peek –

Teenagers are kidnapped and made into living scarecrows who are left to die in crop fields in an exceedingly frightening stoner-horror throwback in the vein of JEEPERS CREEPERS and Scream. SCARECROWS, from director Stu Stone, rise from the cornfields 11 December from Uncork’d Entertainment.
While on a hike to find a secret lagoon, a group of friends have no choice but to pass through an ominous cornfield. Unbeknownst to them, the farm owner despises trespassers and has vowed to kill anyone who crosses his land by turning them into living scarecrows, leaving them to rot in his fields. Once one goes up… it never comes down.


SCARECROWS, starring Hannah Gordon (HURT), Mike Taylor (PURE) and Umed Amin (A SIMPLE FAVOR) and co-written by Stone and Adam Rodness, premieres on VOD December 11 and DVD February 1 from Uncork’d Entertainment.

In the tradition of SUSPIRIA, and featuring horror icons Caroline Williams and Debbie Rochon, BLOODY BALLET arabesque’s onto November 13 from High Octane Pictures.
When a beautiful ballerina dancer, Adriana Mena (Kendra Carelli, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2), lands the lead role in the upcoming Nutcracker performance, she’s forced to face her demons as jealousy and tension begin to provoke the supernatural.
A giallo film –  a horror-thriller that blends the atmosphere and suspense of thriller fiction with elements of horror fiction and eroticism – in the vein of Dario Argento’s and SUSPIRIA and Sergio Martino’s TORSO – BLOODY BALLET is a tour-de-force for rising filmmaker Brett Mullen, who co-wrote the script with Matt Cloude.  

Caroline Williams (TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE II, HALLOWEEN II), Debbie Rochon (MODEL HUNGER, DEATH HOUSE), Katie Carpenter (THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE), Brett Wagner (THE HAPPYTIME MURDERS), and Rob Springer (BOMBSHELL BLOODBATH) star in BLOODY BALLET out November 13 on VOD and December 4 on DVD.

 

Christmas is under siege from a horde of evil elves in Jamaal Buden’s frighteningly fun ELVES, on VOD and DVD this December!
The Holiday Reaper, a ruthless killer that terrorized a small Texas town, has been caught. While celebrating, a group of friends find an elf inside a magical toy box.  When a freak accident kills one of them, they discover a group of elves have been scattered throughout town, each representing one of the seven deadly sins. It’s a race against time to survive the elves’ wrath before Christmas ends.
Horror staples Justin Price (THE ELF) and Khu (DARK MOON RISING) produce.

Lisa May, Deanna Grace Congo, Stephanie Marie Baggett and Amy Jo Guthrie star in ELVES, on VOD and DVD December 4 from Uncork’d Entertainment.

 

Award-winning Hitchockian suspense thriller NUMBER 37, filmed in Cape Town, releases in select theaters throughout November and On Demand November 20 from Dark Star Pictures.
In a gritty homage to perennial Alfred Hitchcock favorite REAR WINDOW, director Nospiho Dumia’s film focuses on the residents of a block of apartments in the down-and-out Cape Flats neighborhood–which, with its petty thugs, crooked cops, violent loan sharks, and troubled pastors, soon reveals itself to be a very different place from REAR WINDOW’s Greenwich Village of 1954.

Set in a rough section of Cape Town, NUMBER 37 follows Randal Hendricks, a small-time crook who becomes wheelchair-bound in a drug deal gone wrong, and his hard-working girlfriend Pam Ismael. To distract Randal during his homebound days of limited mobility, Pam gives him a pair of binoculars. While idly surveying his block, he accidentally witnesses a dirty cop being executed by his gangster neighbor Lawyer. With a loan shark breathing down his neck, Randal decides to blackmail Lawyer, and enlists the help of both his girlfriend and his friend Warren. When the plan goes horribly awry, Randal’s options get more and more restricted—and not even local detective Gail February, investigating the death of her partner, may be able to help him.Irshaad Ally, Monique Rockman, Ephraim Gordon, Sandi Schultz, Danny Ross, David Manuel, Elton Landrew, and Deon Lotz star in a Nosipho Dumisa directed film, scripted by Dumisa, Travis Taute, and Daryne Joshua.
NUMBER 37 is available on demand November 20.

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 publicise 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