Good morning film fiends!

First up is the great news that TSL has backed the splendid looking IT’S WATCHING film on indiegogo.com –

IT’S WATCHING is an original horror film from writer/director Anthony Cole. Based off his original feature film script of the same name which is currently doing the rounds with producer’s in L.A and London,  that aims to do bring something truly original to the horror genre, to create a horror film where the demon itself knows that it’s in a film, and is the creative force behind the film itself.

Says Anthony; “With this project our team is pooling over ten years of experience to conjure up a terrifying film that will combine a unique story-line reminiscent of films like Memento and The Shining with the 4th wall breaking, meta techniques of films like Deadpool. Think a man with no memory, possessed by a demon that is the creative force behind the film itself, subtly targeting the audience itself. We are committed to bringing revolution to the way audiences see “demons” in popular horror film culture.”

Currently Anthony and his team are on 9% of their goal with 23 days left. Take a look at the project here, and see if you can throw a few quid at it. Failing that, please spread the word on social media, and let’s see if we can help Anthony and his team get over the finishing line!

THE SHAPE OF WATER meets GET OUT in the unique Sci-fi Horror SOFT MATTER, premiering on VOD 5/22 from Wild Eye Releasing.

Jim Hickcox’s feature debut tells of two graffiti artists that break into an abandoned, reportedly haunted research facility in hopes of creating an art installation, but stumble upon a team of demented researchers who are in the process of resurrecting an ancient sea creature – who they now must fight in order to not become their next experiment.

Ruby Lee Dove II, Hal Schneider, and Mary Anzalone star in a “fiercely original and incredibly entertaining masterpiece” (A Word of Dreams) out May 22.

The popular superhero comic book series OMEGA 1 is eyeing a relaunch in print– and with it, a new-live action series!

OMEGA 1 is an action/adventure comic book series featuring female superhero “Meg Vasalie” aka “Omega 1”, a genetically modified she-weapon that protects and delivers information in these new times.

Launched on Kickstarter (at www.fundomega1.com), a crowdfunding campaign that will ideally result in the long-awaited fifth and sixth issues of OMEGA 1 and an overdue catch-up with the hero we need right now, Meg Vasalie. If that comics crowdfunder is successful, it’ll help pave the way for a new live-action series!

WATCH THE NEW OMEGA 1 TRAILER HERE!

The OMEGA 1 franchise, which was developed in 2007 by Mark Edward Lewis and Alina Andrei, was a bonafide sensation – with those early comics selling out at various conventions around the globe.

Says co-creator Lewis, “We were at a Denny’s restaurant bemoaning the state of affairs we found ourselves in back in 2006. We knew the hacking of our private and banking information was only going to get worse – and at the same time – we hated how female superheroes and role model television shows were being scoffed at and cancelled after a few episodes. The two issues didn’t really have anything to do with the other until we decided to make a series that addressed both. And so Omega 1 was born. We created a world which exists post World War III – a war of information theft and manipulation instead of bombs and bullets. In this world, women have to fight like men to live and work, and femininity is something which has been lost. Our lead characters discover both the secrets of the hackers and of how to be powerfully female in a world that demands male results. We’re very proud of how this story brings awareness of the hacker situation which is now, here in 2018, far worse than we ever imagined back in 2006, and how the time for female empowerment in media has finally arrived. The time for Omega 1 is now.”

OMEGA 1 brings together the talents of Hollywood veteran Mark Edward Lewis, with DC, Boom, and Dark Horse artist Emmanuel Xerx Javier, and dynamite Hollywood actress Alina Andrei. Together, they span franchises like Marvel’s AVENGERS S.T.A.T.I.O.N., STAR TREK: NEW VOYAGES, KNIGHT RIDER, THE ORVILLE, FEAR THE WALKING DEAD and comics such as DOPPLEGANGER, EXECUTIVE OUTCOMES, THE REST OF HEAVEN WAS BLUE and NIGHTBREED.

Synopsis :  2023 saw the advent of World War III, but it was a war of information: the Hacker War. Now, the only way to securely transmit data is hand-delivery via highly skilled couriers. Working for the premiere courier company is OMEGA 1, a genetically enhanced she-weapon who is deadly with a sword, fist fights with firearms and can draw metal to herself. She searches for her lost identity while trying to keep herself and her clients’ data in tact. Along with her extraordinarily gifted friends in the company, she must piece together her past to uncover a conspiracy for global control and Aryan genocide. But when she discovers the people responsible for the Hacker War are family, Omega quickly finds herself in ongoing dilemma that juxtaposes her incredible ability to kill and destroy against her heart for love and care.
Like the look of this?you can donate to the kickstarter here –  www.fundomega1.com

UK based independent Lumino Films has an intense looking psychological thriller in production called Swiperight. You can see the teaser trailer here –

https://vimeo.com/257579041

You can follow the film’s progress on Twitter @luminofilms

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

Good morning film fiends! I hope you are all enjoying the Easter break and finding time to indulge in a bit of film watching amidst all the chocolate munching.

And what delights, pray tell, have emerged from the celluloid wastes of The Stricken Land this week?

Worth checking out are Dark Temple Motion Pictures (darktemple.co.uk), a new independent outfit dedicated to making retro science fiction and horror flicks, headed up by director Charlie Steeds. And their output looks right up our street. The studio’s big horror opus Escape from Cannibal Farm is due for DVD release on 16th July 2018. You can check the trailer out here –

But it’s the feature planned for late 2018 -early 2019 that really caught my attention. Check out the poster and trailer for The Barge People, this looks completely incredible!

 

Both films star Kate Davies Speak, a British actress is who is busy carving out a career for herself as a bona fide Brit horror icon. Check out the interview with her on Dark Temple’s website. Both Kate and Dark Temple can be followed on Twitter at respectively; @KateDaviesSpeak and @DarkTempleFilms. I really am liking the cut of this company’s jib, even their logo reminds me of 80’s exploitation film labels! Onwards and upwards as they say, and be sure to lend these good people your support by buying their movies! Escape from Cannibal Farm is already on my pre-orders!

Next up we have the dark fantasy Knights of the Damned (also starring Ms Davies-Speak and martial artist/action star Silvio Simac.) Look out for my review coming soon!

Back to the horror genre we’ve got two upcoming features fo review. Firstly we have Hell’s Kitty. Here’s the press release to give us the lowdown –

Doug Jones (The Shape of Water), Dale Midkiff (Pet Sematary), Michael Berryman (The Hills Have Eyes), Courtney Gains (The Children of The Corn), Lynn Lowry (Cat People), Kelli Maroni (Night of The Comet), Ashley C. Williams (The Human Centipede), Barbara Nedeljakova (Hostel), Adrienne Barbeau (The Fog), John Franklin (The Addams Family) and a ‘Killer Klown’ team up for some Pawplay this March!

Based on the web series and comic book of the same name, and inspired by writer-director Nicholas Tana’s experiences living with a professedly possessed cat, Hell’s Kitty tells of a covetous feline that acts possessed and possessive of his owner around women. The results are as funny as they are frightening!

Nick (Tana), a Hollywood screenwriter, discovers his cat has become murderously possessed, and will stop at nothing to rid him of any women in his life. As his life unravels out of control, Nick must find a way to have his kitty exorcised of the demonic spirit haunting her and creating a body count.

With characters named after classic horror movie characters (Jones plays Father Damien, Berryman is Detective Pluto, Nina Kate is Dr. Laurie Strodes, Barbeau is Mrs Carrie), and a tone reminiscent of some of the ‘80s greatest horror-comedies, Hell’s Kitty is undoubtedly the horror hiss of March!
Hell’s Kitty is written and directed by Nicholas Tana and produced by Denise Acosta.

Need more? How about At Granny’s House

Bill Oberst Jr and Rachel Alig are At Granny’s House in writer-director Les Mahoney’s award-winning indie horror, now available worldwide on VOD.

A Hitchcockian thriller with twists and turns, made for the YouTube generation with it’s depictions of the ubiquity and downside of cellphone usage and connectivity thru social media, At Granny’s House is the story of a young caregiver with a dark agenda moves into an elderly woman’s house. Soon, Granny’s house becomes a macabre place of death – and love.

That’s all for this week folks. Look out for my review of the soon to be release ‘stoner slasher’ horror 4/20 Massacre posting later this morning. 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

Get Out (US 2017) Dir: Jordan Peele

Daniel Kaluuya, Alison Williams, Bradley Whitfield, Catherine Keener

The explicitly political horror film is a rare beast. Over time, the genre has justifiably gained fame as a vehicle for societal allegories, even if these were attached to certain films in hindsight by critics looking to give their copy more resonance. I’m thinking of the underlying social conservatism prevalent in the slasher sub genre (so memorably lampooned in the Scream franchise), and the alleged critique of western consumerism as the underlying theme in Romero’s original Dawn of the Dead (1979). Personally I like to think of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) as a treatise on the horrors of unemployment, a sort of Boys from the Blackstuff with a darker heart.

The two horror films that best exemplify an intentional socio/political commentary in this reviewer’s opinion are the original Night of the Living Dead (who can forget its shocking nihilistic ending?), and Bryan Forbes’ excellent 1975 second wave feminist chiller The Stepford Wives adapted from the Ira Levin novel of the same name.

It is this latter film that Get Out owes a debt to. Jordan Peele’s directorial debut begins as a taut, slightly unsettling tale centring on the angst of meeting the parents of one’s other half for the first time. Along the way it also weaves in an examination of the disparity between the level of media exposure that missing black people receive in the US as opposed to cases featuring whites (particularly females) that disappear.

Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya), a young black photographer is taken to meet his girlfriend Rose Armitage’s (Alison Williams) parents Dean and Missy (a pair of splendidly restrained performances by Bradley Whitfield and Catherine Keener respectively), and her passive aggressive brother Jeremy (Caleb Landry Jone) at their spacious country pile.

The Armitage family employ two black people, groundsman Walter (Marcus Henderson) and maid Georgina (Betty Gabriel), both of who display curiously affected behaviour. Conscious of how this domestic setup may look, Rose’s neurosurgeon father Dean reassures Chris that ‘he would’ve voted for Obama a third time if he could’. This case of protesting too much is soon compounded at a weekend gathering of the Armitage’s friends and family who all make disparaging, passive aggressive racist remarks towards Chris, with the exception of Jim Hudson (Stephen Root), a blind art dealer, who tells Chris how much he admires his work. After Missy tricks Chris into being hypnotised over curing his smoking habit, matters quickly go south for the young man.

Black Lives Matter go to Stepford is perhaps too crude a label to give the film, and Peele goes for more of a straight horror/thriller angle than the satire of Forbes’s classic. We are cleverly wrong footed near the start of the film with a skilfully navigated confrontation with a local traffic cop, and the film resists the temptation to play up the victim angle (the climax to the third act shows that Chris is anything but). In fact it is this climax to the third act that is the weakest point of the film, seeming rushed and splatter heavy where a subtler, more nuanced and sinister denouement would have been more in keeping with the overall mood and tone of what has gone before. One half expects there to be a coda to events at this point, to rob the audience of reassurance and show that all is not well in this world despite the hero’s survival. Perhaps Peele was wary of sequelitis, and who can blame him? Given the film’s success and capturing of a particular moment in the zeitgeist, one wouldn’t put it past the studio to float the idea of a follow up.

In summary then, Get Out is an interesting and well made horror with great performances, even if the material is not quite as fresh and original as some of the hype has made it out to be. In the wake of this success, Peele has been linked to the long gestating live action Akira project, which he may be wise to stay clear of given Hollywood’s track record with Japanese properties. Resist the siren calls of sequels to your debut feature though Mr Peele, few recall the follow ups to The Stepford Wives, and with good reason.

Berberian-Sound-Studio

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

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

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

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

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

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

Berberian-Sound-Studio

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

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

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

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

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

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