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

Now its thirteenth year, Mayhem is Nottingham’s premier (only?) film festival dedicated to horror, sci-fi and cult cinema. Held every October at the excellent Broadway cinema, this year I managed to squeeze in the time to get to four showings, only a couple of days after getting back from Grimmfest in Manchester. Apologies for the lateness of the review, it’s been a bit of a whirlwind October, so writing time has been on the lean side. Anyway, enough of my prattle, let’s launch into my thoughts on this years Mayhem offerings –

Nightmare Cinema (2018) US Dir: Joe Dante, Mick Garris, Alejandro Brugués, David Slade, Ryûhei Kitamura
Mickey Rourke, Richard Chamberlain, Elizabeth Reaser

Five strangers are each drawn in turn to a deserted old picture house where they are met by a mysterious projectionist (Rourke), who proceeds to play them each  a tale that delves into their deepest fears…
The horror anthology movie has a long and storied history beginning with the classic Ealing horror and granddaddy of creepy doll films, DEAD OF NIGHT (1945) through to the now classic Amicus productions of the 70’s like THE UNCANNY (1977) and DR TERROR’S HOUSE OF HORRORS (1974) up to THE TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE (1982) and the EC comics inspired CREEPSHOW (1982)  and TALES FROM THE CRYPT tv show (1989-1996.)
Joining this illustrious roll call comes NIGHTMARE CINEMA, and like all anthology flicks it lives and dies on the strength of each of its constituent segments.
The two stand outs in the movie are  Brugués’ The Thing in the Woods and Slade’s This Way to Egress. The former is closest in spirit to the aforementioned CREEPSHOW movies in style and content, smartly combining the mad killer in the woods slasher trope with an alien invasion plot all drenched in a good helping of cartoonish gore.
The latter is an adaptation of a Lawrence Connolly short story from his eponymous collection. Shot in stylish monochrome, this segment convincingly portrays the fraying, and increasingly warped and terrifying mental state of a young mother (played by Elizabeth Reaser, currently starring in Mike Flanagan’s superb THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE in Netflix) while on a visit to her psychiatrist. Of all the segments Egress most deserves the epithet ‘nightmare’ and it’s worth giving the movie a watch for this segment alone.
The weakest has to be Ryûhei Kitamura’s demonic possession fable Mashit. Lacking a likeable central character is this segment’s biggest flaw, and the derivative story adds nothing to the possession sub genre. A missed opportunity.
Of the remaining two segments, Mirare, directed by Joe Dante and Dead by Mick Garris, the former  is classic Dante, a pitch black comedy about body confidence and plastic surgery featuring a demonic performance by Dr Kildare himself, Richard Chamberlain. While entertaining enough, it does feel rather lightweight and predictable in its denouement when compared to the other segments. Garris’ contribution feels meatier, being a study of maternal love taken to supernatural extremes, but lacks the pace of what has gone before, and thus feels rather laboured in places.


As I said earlier, the inherent weakness of the anthology format is inconsistency, a problem which bedevils NIGHTMARE CINEMA and prevents it being a wholly satisfactory watch. Mickey Rourke also feels underused as the menacing and otherworldly Projectionist. All in all though, NIGHTMARE CINEMA is great fun for horror fans a laudable effort and a, welcome addition to the anthology horror sub genre. Whether it is able to breathe new life into the format and act as catalyst for more films of this type to be produced remains to be seen.

Release details for Nightmare Cinema are tbc.

 


Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018) US Dir: Sonny Laguna, Tommy Wiklund
Thomas Lennon, Jenny Pellicer, Barbara Crampton, Michael Pare, Udo Kier, Matthias Hues

Recently divorced comic book artist Edgar (Lennon) returns to live with his parents. Finding an old sinister looking puppet in his late brother’s room, he soon discovers it is one of the creations of Andre Toulon, a hideously disfigured Nazi war criminal responsible for an infamous series of murders in the town thirty years before. With an upcoming auction of memorabilia at a convention commemorating the Toulon murders, Edgar sees the chance to make some ready cash, but he reckons without a strange and evil force reanimating the puppets…
A gloriously retconned reimagining of the beloved 90’s straight to video classics from cult favourite Charles Band’s legendary Full Moon Pictures, PUPPET MASTER: THE LITTLEST REICH boasts a script by S. Craig Ziegler of BONE TOMAHAWK fame, so expect zero subtlety in this splendidly off the wall exercise in bad taste horror comedy. Complete with practical effects galore and competitive scenery chewing between genre legends Barbara Crampton, Michael Pare, Matthias Hues and the incomparable screen legend that is Udo Kier, PUPPET MASTER: THE LITTLEST REICH glories in its own sense of low budget schlock and insane level of cartoonish violence. Make no mistake,  this movie knows exactly what it is and what it wants to do, and it wants you to know it too.
Highlights include a ‘Baby Fuhrer’ puppet, a decapitated man urinating on his own head and a gory puppet ‘birth’. If there’s a taboo you can think of in these neo censorious times, then this movie wants to break it, usually with a buzz saw or a flamethrower.


Directors Wiklund and Laguna apparently secured the rights from Band on the condition that they made the film as a separate ‘reimagined’ entity divorced from the Band’s own established PUPPET MASTER series, thus opening up the possibility of a brand new series of Puppet Master films. Fingers crossed!

Release details for Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich are tbc.

 

Mandy (2018) US Dir: Panos Cosmatos
Nicolas Cage, Andrea Riseborough, Richard Brake, Linus Roache

Logger Red Miller (Cage) lives with his artist girlfriend Mandy Bloom (Rise borough) in 1983 California. Mandy encounters the members of a hippie cult called the Children of the New Dawn who proceed to kidnap and burn her alive right in front of a bound and incapacitated Red. Left for dead, an enraged and grief stricken Red sets out in single minded pursuit of the cult and its leader, the deranged Jeremiah Sand (Roache)…
So far, so run of the mill revenge fantasy, right?
Wrong.


It’s difficult to do justice to Panos Cosmatos’’ warped, psychedelic headfuck of a movie using mere words, this is a film you have to experience in order to get a true feel for its sheer batshit levels of craziness.. So if demonic quad riding bikers on a bad acid trip, chainsaw duels and Nicolas Cage going full Nicolas Cage against the son of Ken Barlow from Corrie are your thing (and why wouldn’t they be?) then check out this acid fuelled Lynchian nightmare fantasy. Plus, it’s got Bill Duke in it, which is always a reason to watch a film in my book. This one can legitimately be called an instant cult classic..

Mandy is available on Amazon Prime and also on DVD and Blu-ray.

 


The Devil’s Doorway (2018) Ire Dir: Aislinn Clarke
Lalor Roddy, Ciaran Flynn, Helena Bereen

In 1960 Ireland two priests, Father Thomas (Roddy) and Father John (Flynn) are sent to investigate claims of a weeping madonna statue in a Magdalene Laundry, a bleak workhouse-like institution for ‘fallen women’ run by the Catholic church. But as they investigate, they discover something much darker and evil has infected the home…
Nearly twenty years after the damp squib that was THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT opened the floodgates on the found footage sub genre (although its true progenitor is Ruggero Deodato’s 1979 mondo splatter epic CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST), it finally feels like a film has come along that really makes good on the format’s promise. And that film is Irish filmmaker Aisleen Clarke’s THE DEVIL’S DOORWAY.
Put together on a shoestring budget, the film is cast iron proof that done well, horror does not need big name stars or expensive effects in order to both tell a compelling story and send an icy chill down the spines of audiences. Rather than ‘found footage’, the central conceit of the film is that what is being shown to audiences ‘has been suppressed by the Catholic Church for 58 years.’ Presented as historical record captured on 16mm film, the grainy and ethereal quality of the film stock adds a sense of authenticity, compounded by the story of the real life horror behind the Magdalene laundries in Ireland.Indeed, the idea for the film grew from Clarke’s interest in the laundries and the research she carried out for an unmade documentary on the institutions.
Another big catalyst in the films development was the discovery in 2017 of a mass grave of infants at the site of a former laundry in Tuam, County Galway. Clarke skilfully weaves these horrific aspects into the narrative while simultaneously avoiding any hint of exploitation or an anti religious hatchet job.


Instead the focus is on the inherently fallen nature of the human condition and the corruption that can infect and eat away at institutions. In one particularly memorable scene the Mother Superior (Helen Bereen in a standout performance), icily asks of Father Thomas if he is aware of ‘how many of these babies fathers, were Fathers?’
The film has all the tropes of the demonic possession/religious horror sub genres present and correct; the priest grappling with a crisis of faith, flying furniture, scary looking kids, officious nuns and levitating girls, but even if it doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel in this regard, then it does a more than efficient job of scaring the bejeezus out of the viewer (Father Thomas’ first encounter with the possessed Kathleen (Lauren Coe) is genuinely terrifying).
The film also wisely opts for subtlety rather than the Grand Guignol excess of THE EXORCIST and its many imitators, trading spectacle for offscreen hints at the evil present in the bleak surrounds of the home, both in its temporal and supernatural forms.
That being said, when it comes to staging shocks, Clarke proves admirably adept at ramping up the terror without the benefit of a huge effects budget, and the climax of the films last five minutes or so is pure nightmare fuel. Period set horror is one my favourites sub genres (no comforts of modern living here!), and  I doubt you’ll see a bleaker or more effective indie horror this year, nor one made all the more thought provoking for the horrific real life history that influenced it. Essential viewing.

The Devil’s Doorway is available on Amazon Prime and also on DVD and Blu-ray.

 

Good evening film fiends! I hope his regular missive is finding you all well on this chilly evening (here in rainy old England anyway) on the night before All Hallows Eve? in keeping with the spooky season I’m treating myself to a screening of john Carpenter’s eponymous 1978 slasher at Nottingham’s Broadway cinema tomorrow night, complete with a pre recorded Q &A with the master himself. Keep an eye of my social media feeds for a micro review of how the evening went.
On the following day it seems rude for me to not catch the long awaited Blumhouse retconned sequel too, so look out for my review in coming days.

New release-wise, this week I’ve got two great looking little indie flicks for you all to take a look at. Let’s dive in –

 

15-year-old Mia and her parents move to the suburbs of Zürich. While Mia plunges into a wild teenager existence, her body begins to change oddly. First hardly noticeably, but then with a force that threatens to drive her out of her mind. Mia’s transformation progresses inexorably, and she turns into the being which has slumbered within her for years… and is now gaining the upper hand.

There’s something frighteningly fishy going on in Lisa Brühlmann’s shocking debut feature BLUE MY MIND in theatres and On Demand this November through Uncork’d Entertainment.
An elegiac allegory accompanied by hauntingly visceral body horror, BLUE MY MIND is part SUSPIRIA and part THE METAMORPHOSIS but largely incontestably unique.
Luna Wedler and Zoë Pastelle Holthuizen headline a celebrated fantasy-drama about a young woman who faces an overwhelming transformation which calls her entire existence into question. Her body is changing radically, and despite desperate attempts to halt the process, she is soon forced to accept that nature is far more powerful than her.
The VOD will be release on November 13 on such platforms as iTunes, Amazon Instant, Vudu, Google Play, xbox, Fandango Now, YouTube and Dish.

 

This Halloween, a familiar face is going trick or treating.
Days before the November mid-term Elections, three young girls (a Muslim, a Mexican and a Haitian, are stalked by a deranged killer dressed as the President Trump.
From Giant Meteor Films comes the second-most anticipated Michael Myers-centric release of the year, PRESIDENT EVIL – available On Demand this Halloween.
A parody of John Carpenter’s horror masterpiece, PRESIDENT EVIL sees Michael Myers disguised as Trump as he gets about suburbia, hell-bent on killing minorities.   Jose Rosete (THE WALKING DEAD : RED MACHETE), Christian Hutcherson (DARK) and Johanna Rae (PSYCHOS) star in a Richard Lowly film, written by Lowry and Gregory P. Wolk. Producers are Ruben Estremera, Gregory P.Wolk and Francesca Zappitelli.
Days before the November mid-term Elections, three young girls (a Muslim, a Mexican and a Haitian, are stalked by a deranged killer dressed as the President Trump. All in the best possible taste of course.

PRESIDENT EVIL is available this Halloween on Demand (Amazon and other platforms).

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

 

This October, GRIMMFEST, Manchester’s International Festival of Fantastic Film celebrated its tenth anniversary with the biggest line-up of film premieres ever, along with audiences to match.

Now the Festival Jury’s votes are all in, and the audience ballots all tallied up, Grimmfest is proud to reveal this year’s award-winners:

Horror Channel Lifetime Achievement Award: BARBARA CRAMPTON (RE-ANIMATOR, YOU’RE NEXT)

Best Feature: TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID

With Special mentions for ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE and PIERCING

Best Director: JOHN MCPHAIL, for ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE

With Special mentions for ISSA LÓPEZ (TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID), and CLAYTON JACOBSON (BROTHERS’ NEST)

Best Screenplay: ISSA LÓPEZ for TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID

With Special mentions for CLAYTON JACOBSON (BROTHERS’ NEST) and ANDY MITTON (THE WITCH IN THE WINDOW)

Best Score: ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE

With Special mentions for PIERCING and SUMMER OF ’84

Best Actor: JUAN RAMÓN LÓPEZ for TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID

With Special mention for AIDAN DEVINE (I’LL TAKE YOUR DEAD)

Best Actress: MIA WASIKOWSKA for PIERCING

With Special mentions for ELLA HUNT (ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE) and ABIGAIL CRUTTENDEN (AWAIT FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS)

Best SFX: GIRLS WITH BALLS

With Special mentions for AWAIT FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS and FRAMED

Best Kill: GIRLS WITH BALLS

With Special mentions for PUPPET MASTER: THE LITTLEST REICH, OFFICE UPRISING and SATAN’S SLAVES

Best Scare: THE WITCH IN THE WINDOW

With Special mention for SATAN’S SLAVES

Best Short: WE SUMMONED A DEMON

With Special mentions for CONDUCTOR, DEAD COOL and THE OLD WOMAN WHO HID HER FEAR UNDER THE STAIRS

Finally, as voted for by Grimmfest 2018 attendees:

The Audience Award: TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID

With Special mentions for SUMMER OF ’84, WITCH IN THE WINDOW, ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE, and BROTHERS’ NEST

The Festival Jury Panel consisted of; Actress and Writer Lauren Ashley Carter, Film Sales Agent Caroline Couret-Delegue, Acquisitions Consultant, Festival Programmer and Producer Annick Mahnert, Writer, Actress and Producer Joanne MitchellDread Central Journalist Anya Stanley and Rue Morgue Executive Editor Andrea Subissati. 

Grimmfest is even more delighted to announce that the winners of the BEST FILM and BEST DIRECTOR categories will each be awarded £40,000 worth of post-production services by Festival Award Sponsor BCL Finance Group, which can be used against a future film. 

TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID is a Mexican magic realist movie written and directed by Issa López, the film has gained huge festival acclaim and awards around the World. It has been championed by Guillermo del Toro who will be producing Issa’s next film. Issa López said: “It’s an incredible honour to receive so many beautiful awards at a festival with such an incredible slate…Grimmfest is the very image of genre cinema’s credibility and substance, and it means a lot to the entire ‘Tigers’ team to be recognized by the festival’s jury and incredible audiences.” 

ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE is a UK Christmas set Zombie musical directed by John McPhail. Since its debut at Fantastic fest last year, it has been making waves around the festival circuit, winning the audience award at the Edinburgh International film festival. It will be released theatrically in the UK and US in time for the festive season. John McPhail, Director of ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE, said: “I am over the moon to receive this award, to know my peers enjoyed the film… I only started directing 6 years ago, and to receive Best Director award from a film festival like Grimmfest really puts the icing on the cake.” 

BCL have already agreed to partner with the festival next year, when they will again be offering big prizes for BEST FILM and BEST DIRECTOR categories and Grimmfest is also excited to announce the introduction of a new award category WORK IN PROGRESS, in association with BCL. The winning filmmaker will receive access to all-important post production services that will enable the completion of their film.

Michael Laundon, Managing Partner at BCL, adds “All of us at BCL are delighted to be prize sponsors for Grimmfest, as they enter their second decade. BCL was established with a quest to truly help independent movies to not only get made but to be finished. We hope to continue our support of Grimmfest in the years to come.” 

Finally, Grimmfest is thrilled to announce that Barbara Crampton has agreed to become head of the Festival Jury for Grimmfest 2019. 

Grimmfest 2019 will take place in early October in Manchester UK. Film submissions will open December 2018 via Film Freeway. More information about the festival can be found at www.grimmfest.com 

Good morning film fiends! I have a quadruple whammy of upcoming greatness for you all to feast your retinsa on as well as a cool little short form the Dobrofsky brothers over at Short Story TV. let’s dive in –

It’s going to be a killer Christmas!

The terrifying backstory of the yuletide slaughterer comes to digital and DVD this November with KRAMPUS: ORIGINS, arriving November 6 from Uncork’d Entertainment.
The first World War rages on when a group of American soldiers find a mysterious artifact that can summon the ancient evil of the Krampus.  After the men are killed in action, the artifact is sent to the commanding officers widow who is a teacher at a small-town orphanage.  The orphans accidentally summon the Krampus and the teacher, and her pupils are forced to battle this ancient evil.
Starring Maria Olsen (I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE: DÉJÀ VU, PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3) and Anna Harr (BETHANY, RESTORATION), and directed by Joseph Mbah and written by Robert Conway, KRAMPUS: ORIGINS on digital and DVD November 6.

This November, Gloria is transforming into something very, very strange.
From director Chad Archibald, and in the tradition of CABIN IN THE WOODS and HEREDITARY, comes THE HERETICS on demand November 6 from Uncork’d Entertainment.

A young woman (Nina Kiri of THE HANDMAID’S TALE) is abducted by a strange man who claims that a cult is hunting her. His goal is to protect her until sunrise but while restrained, she falls deathly ill. As her friends and family search for her, the source of her illness becomes more and more apparent. She’s not sick…she’s changing.
From Black Fawn Films, the award-winning and celebrated Canadian horror machine behind the ANTISOCIAL series, BITE, and LET HER OUT, comes a film that’s “part cabin-in-the-woods thriller, part psychological puzzle, and part demonic possession battleground” (iHorror).
Nina Kiri, Ry Barrett (LIFECHANGER), and Jorja Cadence star in THE HERETICS available on Demand November 6 and DVD January 5 from Uncork’d Entertainment.

 

Leading independent distributor Wild Eye Releasing releases Portuguese horror film THE FOREST OF LOST SOULS on Amazon Prime and Blu-ray this month.

The psychological “coming of age” horror film, written and directed by directed by José Pedro Lopes, also has new artwork to coincide with the Amazon and BD launch.
Ricardo and Carolina are complete strangers that meet seemingly by chance in the FOREST OF THE LOST SOULS , a place where many people go to commit suicide. These two, a young woman and an old man, are no different than the others as they also came to the forest for this very reason.
They decide to briefly postpone killing themselves in order to explore the forest and also to continue talking to one another, as Ricardo and Carolina find themselves intrigued by each other.
However, as the pair go further into the forest it becomes clear that one of them has other reasons for being in the forest, is not who they would have the other believe them to be and is actually a psychopath…

 

KISS KISS, BANG BANG meets classic Hitchcock in the whodunnit of the year!
Winner of no less than 9 major film awards, including Best Feature Film at the Hollywood Boulevard Film Festival and Best Indie Feature at the Los Angeles Film Awards, Clyde Cooper (Souvenir Films) is on the case this November.

Jordi Vilasuso plays Silicon Valley private detective Clyde Cooper. Hired by a tech investor to find a missing woman, the love of his life, who had mysteriously disappeared, Cooper runs into an odd ring of strange women, and weird characters until he finds much more than what he’s bargaining for.
Jordi Vilasuso, Abigail Titmuss, Richard Neil (PRODIGY), Aria Sirvaitis (ROSEWOOD), Isabella Racco (THE DOLL) and veteran actor Lou Wagner (PLANET OF THE APES) star in a Peter Daskaloff film,CLYDE COOPER on VOD November 22.

 

I was contacted this week by the Dobrofsky brothers, the team behind the Short Story TV YouTube channel which, in their own words are ‘Content Warriors here to frighten, entertain and inspire!’ Their newest work is MR HOLIDAY, a very dark short little fil about a serial killer who decides to celebrate new tear by making his very own snuff movie…
Check it out below and subscribe to their channel to see what else the brothers have in store. You can also follow them on Twitter @shortstorytv

Den of Geek founder and all round nice bloke Simon Brew has launched a Kickstarter campaign to crowdfund is new print format film magazine Film Stories. Already a successful podcast, the monthly mag will primarily focus  on mainstream fare but less on superheroes and Star Wars! In their own words -‘Imagine it as the magazine for the smaller screens in the multiplex, and the larger screens in the independent.’

The campaign runs up until 19th November with a target of £10,000. There are loads of different pledge levels and you can check the project out here –

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