Over the last couple of days I’ve found myself tweeting with an Australian chap by the name of David Black, frontman for a theatrical horror rock band called Darkness Visible and all round horror film fan.

It turns out that David is deep in production of his own hosted horror show Horror House, which is a late night half an hour slot showcasing the best new Australian short horror films. Presented in the spirit of fondly remembered horror hosts like Criswell and 80’s goth babe Elvira, It will be hosted by David himself playing the role of hapless bloodsucker Count Funghoula along with co-host Tritia DeVisha playing the role of horror goth dominatrix Mistress Boobiyana.

Yes, it all sounds as kitsch and comedic as it looks,(check out the stills below), and frankly, great fun. It’s high time we had this sort of thing back on our screens to promote new talent and creativity in fields other than bubblegum pop and tiresome variety acts. As David himself say; “The preference is always going to be for bucket loads of gore, boobs and bad taste humour.” Amen to that!

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Currently, David and Tritia are busy hawking the show around the Australian networks, but are also hoping to interest one or more of the on demand services so we viewers outside the land of Oz will get a chance to see the fruits of their labours at some point. Watch this space.

In the meantime you can follow Horror House on Facebook @HorrorHouseShow  and David can also be found lurking on Twitter and Tumblr. He also has his own blog, Oz Indie Cinema, a link to which you can find in the sidebar under Blogroll.

On a related note, The Stricken Land is always and everywhere happy to promote film related projects be they indie productions, books, blogs, websites or podcasts, so if anyone reading this would like me to review and/or promote their project do let me know. I am contactable on any of the social media channels listed on the sidebar, or alternatively just leave me a comment on the site. Promotional freebies, cash bribes, free Lamborghinis or trips to the Playboy mansion are not obligatory, but will be greatly accepted.

Semper fi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just a quick drive by blog entry tonight people! As promised in my last post, I’ve managed to track down this all time VHS classic from the 80’s. God bless Youtube is all I can say. I’ll post a more lengthy retrospective on this splendid slice of big haired heavy metal horror when I get chance. In the meantime, enjoy this belated Halloween treat, and if you haven’t witnessed its complete awesomeness, then rectify the situation now!

Over and out.

The occasion of All Hallows’ Eve saw yours truly sifting through the Amazon and Netflix listings for some macabre themed entertainment to wile away the evening, once the local gangs of trick or treaters had been bought off by with the stack of Haribo bought in for the occasion. Never get high on your own supply and all that.

With the pizza ordered and the evening stretching before me, it seemed rude not to have a double bill. First up was 1922, a recommendation thrown up by Netflix. Based on a Stephen King story from his anthology Full Dark, No Stars, it stars an unrecognisable Thomas Jane as Wilfred James, a down at heel farmer who plots to kill his wife Arlette over her wish to sell land that she has inherited and move to the city taking their son Henry with her.

Wilfred manipulates Henry into helping commit the murder using the boy’s budding romance with their neighbours daughter as a bargaining chip.

After almost bungling the killing, the pair hide Arlette’s body in the farm’s well, but this being a King adaptation, things begin to go south very quickly for Wilf and Henry from here on in.

At its heart, 1922 is an old fashioned morality tale, but although the protagonists end is never in doubt, there is enough narrative skill employed to keep the viewer hooked on what their ultimate fate might actually be.

Next I flipped to Amazon for Orphan, a glossy Hollywood evil kid/family in peril bit of highly polished schlock. I confess to having had half an eye on this one for a while, being a big fan of the evil child horror sub genre ever since scaring myself witless watching The Omen (1976) as a kid.

Scream Queen Vera Farmiga of The Conjuring fame takes the lead as Kate, a recovering alcoholic traumatised by the stillbirth of their third child. Deciding to adopt, Kate and hubby John come across mysterious 9 year old Russian girl Esther at the local orphanage. Soon enough, bad things begin to happen around Esther, and the demands of the plot see that John, a successful self made architect, sees fit to suspend his critical faculties with regards to his newly adopted daughter.

Orphan is trash, but it’s well made trash, with a decent cast and production values and a stand out performance from Isabelle Fuhrmann as the malevolent Esther. A decent twist too. Worth checking out if you’re a fan of psycho kid films.

As I’m sitting here spilling metaphorical keyboard ink, the joyous memory of the 80’s straight to video heavy metal horror classic Trick or Treat has popped into my head and I’m kicking myself for not thinking of it on Halloween itself. Better late than never, I shall scrape the Amazon barrel tonight, and get some kind of retrospective/review put on the blog. Watch this space.