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’sTHE 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.
Gregory James Cohan, Alyssa Kempinski, Daniel Steere, Yang Jiechang, Jesse Turits, Fernando Pacheco de Castro star withAurelio Voltairein the Wild Eye Releasing title.
DevilworksDrops 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.
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 ofRoad KillandOnce 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.
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 inThe Possession Diaries, on DVD and DigitalJune 4, 2019from Uncork’d Entertainment.
Connect withCrisis 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.
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 DVDJune 11.
Documentary Examines Beloved, Sometimes Demonized, Children’s Horror Book Series
Los Angeles, California – Scary Stories, the highly anticipated documentary about Alvin Schwartz’ iconicScary Stories to Tell in the Darkbook 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 classicScary 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 Storiescreates 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 Storieswill be available on VOD May 7 with a DVD release set forJuly 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.
Penned by Schwartz and illustrated by Stephen Gammell,Scary Stories to Tell in the Darkis 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.
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’ TheThing 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.
House on Elm Lake(2017) UK Dir: James Klass Becca Hirani, Andrew Hollingworth, Tara MacGowran, Tony Manders
The Jones family move into a seemingly idyllic lakeside property in the British countryside, having purchased it for a knockdown price due to it having been the scene of a ritualistic family annihilation three years earlier. Hayley (Hirani) hopes the fresh start will repair their marriage after husband Eric’s (Hollingsworth) infidelity.
No sooner has the family settled in than things start to go bump in the night, daughter Penny (Faye Goodwin) acquires an imaginary friend and Eric’s personality becomes more and more aggressive. When Hayley begins to start witnessing apparitions she begins to delve into the dark history of the house along with a psychic investigator.
So far, so THE CONJURING, and indeed this mini budget British horror flick doesn’t stray too far from any of the tried and tested tropes of the haunted house/demonic possession sub genres.This is likely to be a marmite movie for some. It doesn’t really do anything groundbreaking with its well worn set up, and becomes a little too distracted with reliance on jump scares rather than building a sense of dread. On the plus side it is a well written and directed example of its sub genre, with lead actress Becca Hirani in particular giving a great performance as Hayley, riven with self doubt, but determined to protect her family against increasingly deranged hubby Eric (Hollingworth, channelling his best Jack Torrance.)
Filmed in eight days on a budget of £3000, the finished production transcends it’s microbudget origins, delivering an effective and at times genuinely unnerving haunted house chiller. Unlike most of its higher budgeted US produced counterparts, has a bleak and cold atmosphere that you only really find in British made horror flicks or those set in these rain swept isles (Cronenberg’s THE DEAD ZONE is an excellent exception). Lacking the slick glossiness of similar US fayre like THE CONJURING and SINISTER ends up being no great disadvantage to the film, rather acting as a boon to those of us who prefer our horror with a sliver of ice running through it. Fans of haunted house and demonic possession flicks will find a solid if unoriginal addition to the sub genre here.
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