Saturday, 31 July 2010

KABOOM Pulled from FrightFest Lineup - Alan Jones Brings the Pain!

In a somewhat mystifying move, Gregg Araki (MYSTERIOUS SKIN, THE DOOM GENERATION) has suddenly pulled his latest film, KABOOM from the FrightFest lineup.  The reason?  Well, according to festival organiser and movie critic Alan Jones it is because he didn't want his movie seen by a "bunch of geeks".  Now, aside from the offense any of these said geeks (myself included) may feel at these seemingly hypocritical words - this is after all a man who has made a film career based on celebrating and exploring counter culture and alternative lifestyles, it just seems like an astonishingly self-defeating move.  Geek culture, for want of a better phrase, has never been bigger.  Just ask Chris Nolan.

Perhaps there is more to his decision than at first appears but whatever the case, Mr. Araki has certainly earned himself a comprehensive dressing down by Alan Jones over at his FrightFest Blog.  Jones describes exactly how he feels about the whole sorry debacle thus,

"The first thought that crossed our minds was, how come he’s taken this long to tell us when we’ve been publicizing the program for a month now and every major website has carried the news. The second thought was what sort of film does he think he’s actually made. The third was so much for the pleas of tolerance and acceptance he advocates in his movies. The fourth was, Wow has he got the FrightFest audience wrong. The fifth was, F**k him, we don’t need his movie if that’s his blinkered attitude."

He goes on to spell out in no uncertain terms just how wrong he considers Mr Araki's decision to be in a rather beautifully written rant which shows just how passionate, loyal and honourable a genre geek can be.  Check it out here and give a little cheer!  

KABOOM will be replaced on the bill by Brett Antsey's  DAMNED BY DAWN.  Personally, I'm thrilled with this change around as this film is apparently something in the vein of EVIL DEAD and is about a Banshee doing its thing in Australia.  There's not enough films about Banshees in my opinion so I'm all for DAMNED BY DAWN.  Just check out this cool trailer if you don't believe me!

Friday, 30 July 2010

FrightFest - Short Film Lineup Announced.

Individual tickets for London's Film 4 FrightFest go on sale tomorrow but in the meantime check out the newly announced short film programme for this year's event.
There's some pretty intriguing stuff there including COLIN director, Marc Price's new work as well as Can Evenol's TO MY MOTHER AND FATHER (pictured).  There are films from six countries in total so expect a pretty wide range of subject material.  We have it on good authority that there will be "Child monsters, rampaging wrestlers, avenging vacuum cleaners and a body-popping plague".

Dunno about you folk but that sounds pretty good to me. Check out the full details below.


PROGRAMME – SUNDAY 29 AUGUST, 1pm onwards

2.22 USA   Dir. Steven Shea   8.30 mins
A night out with the girls. A hot new club and a hot new guy. For Vickie Palmer, yesterday would be her last day.

TO MY MOTHER AND FATHER      UK / Turkey   Dir. Can Evrenol   8.45 mins
When Jimmy is left alone in his house he discovers an old mask and decides to scare his parents upon their arrival home.

BON APPETIT   UK   Dir. Kate Shenton   3.49 mins
A deliciously dark comedy about food. BON APPETIT provides unappetizing twists to everyday eating.

RISE OF THE APPLIANCES   UK   Dir. Rob Sprackling   8.56 mins
Machines rise up and take over the world - but rather than being cool cyborgs, they are household domestic appliances.

THE END…  UK   Dir. Marc Price   4.45 mins
An out-of-his-depth hero is presented with a deadly choice. Shot primarily as a camera and visual effects test THE END… should feel like part of an action movie climax.
THROUGH THE NIGHT   UK   Dir. Lee Cronin   10 mins
Every night, around the world – couples fall asleep side by side, trusting they know who lies beside them..

DEAD HUNGRY   UK   Dir. William Bridges   10 mins
Life's a bitch and then you die... Then you're a zombie and death's a bitch too!

SWITCH   UK   Dir. Melanie Light   4.28 mins
A man driving through the snowy countryside decides to pursue a female jogger. Resulting in some interesting consequences.

PAPA WRESTLING   Portugal   Dir. Fernando Alle   8.53 mins
After bullies steal his son's lunchbox, a retired wrestler goes on a violent rampage to avenge him and bring justice to the school.

NELLY AND LIO   Canada   Dir. Etienne Langlois   11.09 mins
Nelly and Lio are in the forest while the radio announces that a dangerous criminal has escaped in the region. Their paths will inevitably intersect..

RED BALLOON   UK   Dir. Alexis Wajsbrot and Damien Mace   13 mins
Several times during the course of the night, Dorothy, the little girl Julie is looking after, behaves oddly, screaming from her bedroom. Each time, Julie puts her back to bed, comforting her by telling her it's just a nightmare... Or is it ?

LA MADRE   Spain   Dir. Alberto Evangelio   6.36 mins
The Mother never believed that her son’s nightmares could be real.

HOW I SURVIVED THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE   USA   Dir. Christian Cantamessa 10 mins
A single mother and her teenage son struggle to survive in a brutal near future where zombies roam the Earth.

CHOREOMANIA   UK   Dir. Louis Paxton   9.30 mins
The story of Hector’s journey into dance hell as the city is overwhelmed by an hysterical body-popping plague.

 

Machete - New Tits n'Gore filled Redband Trailer.

Machete

You can just tell that Robert Rodriguez is having the time of his life making this film.  Hot naked chicks, stupidly large knives, motorbike-mounted gatling guns, intestines used as ropes, Steven Seagal, blood every where and Robert frickin' De Niro.  What's not to love?

Check out the new trailer below (but not if you're under eighteen of course...tut tut).

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Predators - Review


PREDATORS
Director:  Nimrod Antal
Writer:  Alex Litvak, Michael Finch
Starring:  Adrien Brody, Topher Grace, Alice Braga, Walton Goggins, Oleg Takatarov, Laurence Fishburne, Danny Trejo


 What with the abysmal Alien Vs Predator films muddying the waters along with the length of time that has elapsed since the original, it might have been difficult to place this new film in the mythos and timeline of the series up to now.   Predators nixes any such confusion however, letting us know that this is a direct sequel to the original 1987 Schwarzenegger vehicle with a few well placed references and links.  This nicely uncomplicated set-up  works a treat and succinctly dispenses with the jarring mash-up of universes and conspiracy theories that marred previous Predator films.

The story in this outing sees a bunch of unconnected soldiers, mercs, gangsters and hard cases spirited away from their various conflicts and wars to be deposited on an alien planet where they are hunted by some familiar (and some not so familiar) foes.  Again, the uncomplicated-ness of this scenario really works in the movie’s favour.  The viewer is thrown into the action right from the off as one of our unlikely heroes plummets from the sky, only regaining consciousness just in the nick of time to open his parachute.  It’s a great opening and one that more films would benefit from emulating.  Imagine Sex and the City if the opening scene had that quartet of whining ageing harpies dropped from the heavens like rocks as they struggled to find time for a career, a relationship and opening a fucking parachute.  Cool.

Back to the jungle however… As the various gun-toting maniacs and nutters (as well as a doctor) make their uneasy peace with each other and begin to investigate this strange new world we get to know them a little better.  Though most of them are little more than stock stereotypes and walking shoulder-mounted-cannon fodder, they do serve their purpose well enough and provide a slightly more interesting group dynamic than is often delivered in films of this ilk.  Adrien Brody's cynical ex-military merc quickly emerges as the group's leader and though there are some initial misgivings over the Oscar-winner's tough guy credentials he quickly convinces and by the time he gets to the obligatory shirtless scene we don't need  his super buffed up new body to prove his ass-kickery.  Not when he speaks in a voice so gravelly he sounds like he's doing a Dark Knight spoof.  That really seals the deal and isn't in any way silly at all. 

Most of the other characters are pretty flimsy with only one or two others getting a chance to really do anything more than look mean for a bit before dying horribly.  The dying horribly is handled very well however with plenty of gore and ickiness all achieved through predominantly practical effects.  It is refreshing to see such old school methods utilised and it works with simple understated efficiency.  It would have been very easy to rely on a surfeit of CGI in a movie such as this and kudos should go to director Nimrod Antal for not choosing that route.

Despite so much being right with this film however it is just not possible to give it much more than an average review.  True, it is a solidly put together piece of sheer entertainment which delivers on many of its promises.  The problem is that the promises it made were simply not adventurous enough.  Predators does do everything a good sequel should do, it gives us more of the same sort of action we liked so much form the original while putting a new spin on the source material.  There are even a few developments to what we know of the Predator's species and civilisation.  There just isn't anything really surprising or intriguing here.  Oh, and nobody gets to any damn choppas.  

Monday, 26 July 2010

The Dead - News and videos

THE DEAD
 One of the films premiering at this year's Film 4 FrightFest is the Ford Brothers' new movie, The Dead starring Prince David Osei and Rob Freeman.

Filmed on location in Africa, The Dead looks set to deliver a much-needed fresh take on the familiar zombie apocalypse scenario.  That's not to say it was easy filming in the somewhat inhospitable conditions and what with Malaria outbreaks, general illness, equipment problems and general honest to goodness bad luck it seems a miracle that it ever made it to our screens.

Check out part 1 of the director's video diary and making-of below to get the full story as well as a quick peek at some of the finished footage.


Saturday, 24 July 2010

Video Nasties Trailer

VIDEO NASTIES TRAILER

A few days ago we brought you news about the new Video Nasties 3 disc set being released in October which includes Jake West's (Doghouse, Evil Aliens) documentary.  The film will be premiered at the Film4  Frightfest at the end of August.  Check out the trailer below.


Thursday, 22 July 2010

Brad Pitt to star in World War Z



One of the biggest news stories from Comic-Con is that the much anticipated movie adaptation of Max Brook's fantastic zombie novel, World War Z is not only underway but will also star Brad Pitt.

Excellent news on both fronts as far as we are concerned.  Max Brooks is a true hero in the zombie genre and hopefully a movie version of his take on the stinky shamblers will provide just the shot in the arm the sub-genre has been desperately needing for quite some time now.  Well, at least since Diary of the Dead anyway.  Mr Pitt's involvement is certainly a good sign too as his role choices are usually pretty spot on.

Paramount are the studio behind the project and Marc Foster is due to direct.  Foster has some pretty solid action chops from his experience directing Quantum of Solace but can he provide the all important Z-factor that this movie needs?

Read more of the whole rotten story over at the MTV site here.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Return of the Video Nasties - News

Is it just me or are horror films more fun when you're not allowed to watch them?  There's nothing quite like the thrill of finally obtaining a rare well-worn video copy of some fabled masterpiece of gore-soaked, sex-filled exploitation sleaze.  There aren't many activities with quite the same thrill of forbidden mystery as watching it in the middle of the night with the sound turned down in case your parents wake up and find you watching some bare breasted pneumatic harlot having the tongue cut from her head (or something equally depraved, sexist and fun).


At least, that's what the early eighties were like for me and I have never forgotten that illicit thrill of watching something that is not only illegal and morally reprehensible but something that just might cause you to completely lose your mind and all sense of morality too.  Who could resist that?


Well, not Nucleus Films it would seem as they have just announced the release of this special 3 disc celebration of all the 72 films which were effectively banned in the 'Video Nasties' furore that ran in the UK from 1979 up until 1984.


Anybody who feels a shiver of recognition at titles such as SS Experiment Camp, Nightmares in a Damaged Brain or Snuff should bag themselves a copy when it is released this October.


Full details of the discs below.


"For the first time ever on DVD, all 72 films that fell foul of the Director of Public Prosecutions are featured with specially filmed intros for each title in a lavish three-disc collector’s edition box-set, alongside a brand new documentary - VIDEO NASTIES: MORAL PANIC, CENSORSHIP AND VIDEOTAPE, directed by Jake (‘Doghouse’) West.


Producer Marc Morris, co-author of ‘Art of the Nasty’ and ‘Shock Horror: Astounding Artwork from the Video Nasty Era’ comments: “Hopefully, every true movie fan will want this in their collection”..

Disc One presents the 39 titles which were successfully prosecuted in UK courts and deemed liable to deprave and corrupt. These included: ‘Absurd’, ‘Cannibal Holocaust’, ‘The Driller Killer’, ‘I Spit on Your Grave’, ‘Nightmares in a Damaged Brain’, ‘Snuff’ & ‘Zombie Flesh-Eaters’.

Disc Two presents the 33 titles that were initially banned, but then subsequently acquitted and removed from the DPP's list. These included: 
‘Death Trap’, ‘Deep River Savages’, ‘The Evil Dead’, ‘Human Experiments’, ‘The Toolbox Murders’ & Zombie Creeping Flesh

Both discs can be viewed either as a non-stop trailer show, or with newly-filmed introductions from a wide range of acclaimed media academics and notable genre journalists. Each disc is preceded by a brief introduction by cult horror presenter Emily Booth.

Disc Three This era-defining documentary features interviews with filmmakers Ruggero Deodato (‘Cannibal Holocaust’) Neil Marshall (‘The Descent’, ‘Doomsday’), Christopher Smith (‘Severance’, ‘Black Death’) and MP Graham Bright as well as rare archive footage featuring James Ferman (director of the BBFC 1975-1999) & Mary Whitehouse. Taking in the explosion of home video, the erosion of civil liberties, the introduction of draconian censorship measures, hysterical press campaigns and the birth of many careers born in blood and videotape, West’s documentary also reflects on the influence this peculiar era still exerts on us today. 

Extras include a gallery of original video company idents and extensive gallery of lurid cover art for every video nasty."

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Resident Evil Afterlife Trailer


RESIDENT EVIL AFTERLIFE

The fourth instalment of the zombie virus franchise sees... well a load more of the same really as Mila Jovovich gets back to undead-bothering duties.  This time round she seems to have brought along some of her clone buddies to the party while fans of the original series of games will be happy to see the return of the avid shades fan, Albert Wesker up to his usual no good antics.

Will it be any good though?

Probably not in honesty, but it is in 3D.  Woo.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Chucky - The Total Bastard Database


The TBDB is the Net's biggest, best and most downright demented guide to horror cinema's worst villains, madmen, monsters, maniacs, cannibals, creeps, killers, beasts and, well... bastards.


CHUCKY



mrs ganushAKA:
Charles Lee Ray (Brad Douriff)
Was a bastard in:
 Child's Play, Child's Play 2, Child's Play 3, Bride of Chucky, Seed of Chucky
So who the hell is he?
Chucky is a doll that is possessed by the soul of serial killer Charles Lee
Ray. He lived in Stoney Island,in the city of Chicago, IL. Ray was known
as The Lakeshore Strangler, as strangulation was his favorite method of killing. One night while be chased by a cop, he is shot and mortally wounded. Using a voodoo spell, he transfers his soul into a Good Guy Doll so he can cheat death and get revenge on the people who killed him.
That's not a knife...
Chucky utilizes many different weapons to kill his victims, but his favorite is a knife. He has killed people with: hammers, strangulation, nails, voodoo doll, explosion, suffocation, stabbing, slicing throat, etc. He is a master of using whatever is to his advantage which is pretty much a necessity seeing as he is no more than 2 or so feet tall.
Why? For the love of God why?
Chucky is hellbent on getting out of the doll body and into a human. He tries to get inside his young owner Andy Barcely on more than one occassion, but is defeated. The more he stays inside the doll, themore human he becomes, and after a certain amount of time being in the doll, he will be unable to get out, trapped inside a doll for the rest of his life. In Seed of Chucky, he gives up on becoming human again and decides that he is legendary as a killer doll and that becoming human would bring him nothing.
So what's the damage?
Chucky has taken out many people during his reign of terror. Some memorable
ones include scaring an old military officer to death(literally, he gives
him a heart attack when he pops out from behind his desk holding a large
hunting knife.)
It's a million to one chance, but it might just work:
Once Chucky has been in the doll long enough, you can shoot him in the heart
which will kill him. He has also been killed by blowing him up, cutting him
into tiny pieces, or by cutting off his head.
Words of wisdom:
 "Don't fuck with the Chuck!"

By War Goat

Devil Trailer Released







DEVIL

Starring: Chris Messina, Geoffrey Arend, Caroline Dhavernas, Jacob Vargas, Matt Craven

Director: Drew Dowdle, John Erick Dowdle

A group of people trapped in an elevator realize that the devil is among them.

"From the mind of M. Night Shayamalan"  boasts the promo material for this interesting looking new flick though considering the critical mauling he has received for his latest work that may not be such a good idea.

Still, this is only produced and based on one of the ideas of the tricky Mr. Shayamalan and actually looks like it might well worth checking out.  Nice concept, opportunity for some really tense scares and great claustrophobic setting.  Makes me wish I'd thought of it first actually.  Let's see if I still think that when it's released this September. 



Saturday, 17 July 2010

Big Daddy - The Total Bastard Database


The TBDB is the Net's biggest, best and most downright demented guide to horror cinema's worst villains, madmen, monsters, maniacs, cannibals, creeps, killers, beasts and, well... bastards.

BIG DADDY

AKA: 

Eugene Clark

WAS A BASTARD IN:  

Land of the Dead (2005)

SO, WHO THE HELL IS HE?

In life he was a simple petrol pump attendant working for an honest wage in an average garage in an average suburban town. In death he became...King of the Zombies!! Well, sort of anyway. Big Daddy represents the future for zombie kind, he is able to think past his simple basic instincts and this is what makes him worthy of note. He is not exactly Stephen Hawking but by undead standards he's about as smart as it is possible for a re-animated decaying corpse to get.

THAT'S NOT A KNIFE: 

Big Dady's main weapon is his brain, not in a literal way of course, that would just be weird but rather his capacity for thought enables him to not only use weapons and tools himself but also teach other zombies how to use meat cleavers, guns and anything that they can get their skanky rotting hands on really.
He is also a bit of a pro with the good old fashioned molatov cocktail as Dennis Hopper will surely attest to.

SO, WHAT'S THE DAMAGE?

Big Daddy's assault on the human city wipes out pretty much everyone there so he scores pretty big on that account. Highlights of the zombie raid include an unfortunate young woman's navel ring being bitten out and an arm being split in half...lengthways. Ouch.

IT'S A MILLION TO ONE CHANCE BUT IT JUST MIGHT WORK...

Being a zombie means that the usual method of sever the head or destroy the brain applies here which comes in useful for him as he gets himself shot a fair bit over the course of his little crusade of the dead.
Of course being blown to pieces by a missile would do the trick too but in a decision of mind blowing stupidity our hero Riley decides to let them live as they are only "looking for a place to go". Yeah and it doesn't matter that they are just going to find another place to go where there are lots more living people to be eaten alive. Idiot.

WORDS OF WISDOM:

"UUrrgghh"

By Matt Compton


The Breed - Review

The Breed(2001) Review By Matt Compton
Director: Michael Oblowitz
Writer: Christos N. Gage, Ruth Fletcher
Starring: Bokeem Woodbine, Adrian Paul, Ling Bai

Vampires are one of the most enduring horror villains in the entire history of the horror genre. There is clearly something about them that fixates us as viewers/readers and makes them fertile ground for new stories. Well you would think so anyway, the truth is that there are very few new films made or books written that have anything interesting to do with the good old vampire. Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles gave them a new twist with great success (at least until Stuart Townsend came along with Aliyah to ruin the party) and the Blade movies made them fun in a comic book actiony way but that’s about it. Except for this odd little movie…

The Breed is a complicated fusion of lots of different ideas, all of which jostle and vie for dominance of the film. At first look the grim urban setting and hard boiled cop characters appear to be straight from a crime thriller but then the lighting seems to suggest aspects of Noir while the overt horror leanings clearly point to something more visceral. And this is all in the first few minutes! After the opening sequence the real world that the film is set in is shown. As Detective Grant returns to his headquarters we see that this world is some sort of Orwellian communist dystopia where stern officials stride emotionlessly through stark and empty hallways as cold propaganda is piped through speakers, “Informing on your enemy makes them your friend”. Interestingly, this extreme divergence to the world the viewer most likely expected is never mentioned or even referred to, it is just the way things are in this world. It is a very individual and memorable twist though the main protagonist, Grant a wisecracking hard-ass cop (yeah, you know the cliché) seems very out of place in this society and it is hard to believe that his individualism would have allowed him to progress very far in the police force.

Later still, the film morphs into an action movie complete with wire stunts and elaborate twirling gun battles. Unfortunately these are not done well but it is hard to dislike something which is so determined to not be pigeon holed into any particular category. This attitude spills over into the script which has a very strong subtext about racial tolerance. The vampires do not want to be simply labelled as freaks or monsters. They only want to be accepted by human society but are outcasts, feared and hated in equal measure. The parallels to racism in modern society and the need for integration are heavy-handed and about as subtle as a brick to the face but relevant nonetheless.

The main plot follows traditional buddy cop movie guidelines with Detective Grant being partnered with a vampire cop in order to tack down the vampire serial killer. As they investigate they uncover all the usual corruption and cover-ups with all the usual plot twists and turns that these stories seem to require. This story structure actually works well for this film and keeps a sense of drive to the proceedings as more about this world is revealed. 

By attempting so much with relatively little The Breed obviously falls down in many places along the way. The tone is inconsistent, the mix of genres and influences is sometimes bewildering and the wonderfully named Bokeem Woodbine as Detective Grant is forced and uncomfortable. Add to this the dodgy sub-Matrix action sequences and clumsy preachiness and you might think that what is left should be a train wreck. You’d be wrong though. It may believe it is something (or several things) it is not and it may be too un-vampire for some vampire fans (these vampires walk in the light – oh no!, well it’s better than fucking sun block Blade) but it is a great piece of distinctive and entertaining cross-genre filmmaking.



7/10

Michael Myers - The Total Bastard Database


The TBDB is the Net's biggest, best and most downright demented guide to horror cinema's worst villains, madmen, monsters, maniacs, cannibals, creeps, killers, beasts and, well... bastards.

Guest writer, Andrew Thompson presents...
MICHAEL MYERS

AKA:
 
The Shape
 
Was a bastard in:
 
Halloween (1978)
Halloween II (1981)
Halloween 4 (1988)
Halloween 5 (1989)
Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)
Halloween: H20 (1998)
Halloween: Resurrection (2002)
 
So who the Hell is he?
 
Michael Myers was raised in Haddonfield until Halloween, 1963, where, for no discernable reason, he stabbed his older sister Judith to death with a big, sharp kitchen knife. Michael was found by his parents and sent away to Smith's Grove Sanitarium, far from Haddonfield, where his shrink Dr. Sam Loomis eventually came to decide that Michael was pure evil. Fifteen years after his initial incarceration, he escaped Smith's Grove and went home to kill again. His initial target, Laurie Strode, seemed to just have the misfortune of stopping by his old house while he was hiding inside, but Dr. Loomis came to discover Laurie was, in fact, Michael's younger sister...and he REALLY wanted to kill her.
 
Michael has proven to be very tenacious, with a variety of supernatural abilities. He's strong enough to lift a giant tombstone by himself, seems to disappear if you take your eyes off him for a second, and most terrifyingly, he just refuses to die.
 
That's not a knife...
 
It usually is, actually. But Michael uses all manners of things, ranging from the mundane, like cords and hockey skates(WHAT?) all the way to scalpels, hot tubs, and gigantic machetes in the best Jason Voorhees impression he can muster.
 
Why, for the love of God, why?!!?

 
Dr. Loomis calls him pure evil. In the start, this seems to be the case.
However, it becomes clear that Michael is just a big bully who thinks family members make for good knife sharpeners.
Halloweens 4-6 take a very strange route, claiming that Michael killed on behalf of the cult of Thorn, because of a mysterious Man in Black goading him on. The cult protects him and watches over him. Their motives aren't exactly clear.  Less said about them the better in all honesty - it's hardly the franchise's brightest idea.
In the remaining two installments, he's back to Laurie-hunting.
 
So what's the damage?
 
Through the fucking ROOF. He massacres an entire police station, kills an operating room full of doctors, has bumped off some mechanics for a set of new duds, and he doesn't like teenagers. They never do. The point is, the list goes on and on...
 
It’s a million to one chance but it might just work…
 
Michael has proven to be more or less immune to bullets(except when Laurie gets the idea of putting a round in each eye socket). Burning him to a crisp works for a little while, as does just bashing and whacking the hell out of him with a blunt object. But he always recovers, so once you put him down temporarily, run away.
 
Words of wisdom
 
The Shape doesn't say a thing.



By Andrew Thompson

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Ghost Stories



Forget Paranormal Activity, Rec, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Shining and all the rest of 'em. This is the real deal and it all happens right before your eyes onstage in Andy Nyman's and Jeremy Dyson's wonderful production, Ghost Stories.
The play has been doing the rounds for a little while now but has enjoyed such (deserved) success that it has recently moved to the West End of London. We simply can't recommend this play enough - go see it while you still can!
Audiences are impored to keep the production's secrets to themselves and we have no intention of spoiling them for you here but we can tell you that the play takes the form of a lecture on supernatural phenomenon with a series of case studies being enacted. These case studies are the ghost stories referred to in the title. The stories are varied enough and inventive enough to make very distinct set-pieces anchored by some great performances from a small cast headed up by Mr. Nyman himself.
The show's creators are no strangers to the horror genre with Jeremy Dyson's work with The League of Gentlemen being a perfect showcase for his horror influences with homages to everything from Nosferatu to The Shining.  Nyman himself  is probably best known by horror fans from the much under-rated Severance as well as the loathsome television presenter who meets a rather sticky end in Charlie Brooker's excellent zombie satire, Dead Set. If you haven't seen it seek it out, it's a blast and Nyman steals the show. He is also something of a showman and having a solid history in trickery and mind-fuckery, having worked very closely with Derren Brown on his stage shows, expect a few surprises.


Mr. Nyman will also be in attendance at 2010's wonderful FrightFest beginning on 26th August. He will be hosting a horror quiz.
We will be entering. Fancy challenging us?

Read more about the Film 4 FrightFest here or more on Ghost Stories here.


Are You Scared - Review


Are You Scared?(2006) Review By Matt Compton
Director: Andy Hurst
Writer: Andy Hurst
Starring: Carlee Avers, Brad Ashten, Soren Bowie
Caia Coley, Erin Consalvi, Alethea Kutscher

This woefully derivative film’s sheer audacity is staggering. It steals its entire concept, look and plot from the Saw films and what miniscule proportion of the film that doesn’t draw from Saw is filled with rip offs from the sort of reality TV based films that were popular four or five years ago (My Little Eye etc). It is incredible that somebody could have the temerity to even claim to have written this, such is the scale of its larceny yet that is exactly what director Andy Hurst has done. Perhaps it should not be surprising that he has churned out a work of such awesome unoriginality when his previous writing credits, which include straight to DVD sequels to both Single White Female and Wild Things are taken into account.
The film begins as it means to go on with a scene in which a young woman wakes up to find her hands tied behind her back and that she is wearing some sort of electric torture collar. Cameras track her every movement and a distorted ominous voice commands her to press two switches within a certain amount of time. The catch is that to get to the first switch she must walk barefoot across broken glass while the second switch is at the bottom of a tank of water she must plunge her face into to reach. Oh, hang on though, that’s not actually water in the tank – can you guess what it really is? In truth this isn’t a bad scene, it’s tense, grim and genuinely horrific, it just happens to belong to a different movie.
As the film begins in proper we are introduced to the group of unfortunates who are to be the meat for this particular grinder. These people, it must be said, rank amongst the absolute dumbest characters ever written. Despite having been knocked unconscious, kidnapped and in one case actually been subjected to surgery they still seem to believe that this is all just a television show. Perhaps this is a satirical comment on the intelligence of the sort of people who appear on reality television but then again, perhaps it’s just really bad writing. These people are so mind-blisteringly, suicidally stupid that they quite happily strap and handcuff themselves into a sheeted industrial looking contraption without so much as even considering that a little peek under the dust sheet might not be such a bad idea. These people deserve all they get, which in this case happens to be having their damn brains drilled out. Good.
The dialogue these blathering idiots spout easily matches the stupidity of their behaviour and is similarly inane. In one large cluster of bald exposition one character tells somebody she has only just met how her biggest fear is that people will discover her ‘secret’. She goes on to mention this secret several more times throughout the film. This really makes you question the logic of why somebody who is mortally afraid of people finding out her secret would insist on going around telling everybody she meets that she even has one.
During a few brief moments of reprieve from the idiocy of the cretins locked up in the warehouse there is a subplot about a couple of detectives on the trail of the evil not-at all-similar-to-Jigsaw-oh-no-wait-exactly-the-bloody-same genius at the bottom of all this. Their investigation is a lazily written farce which mostly consists of them being given an address by somebody and then going there. It is hard to determine what function these characters fulfil, as their actions have virtually no bearing on the rest of the movie. They seem to be there just to babble on about the killer’s motivations and intelligence. Their storyline concludes with the two of them raiding the known mass-murdering madman’s lair with absolutely no back-up whatsoever. Ludicrous doesn’t even cover it.
The strange thing about Are You Scared is that its generous helpings of utter crapness somehow don’t entirely render it a bad movie. It is not a good movie but it is competently directed, well-paced and at times pretty gruesome. Sure, it lacks originality, story, tension, drama and good acting but if you can overlook all that you might actually have a fun time with this one.


6/10

The Amityville Horror - Review


The Amityville Horror Review By Matt Compton

Director: Andrew Douglas
Writer: Scott Kosar, Jay Anson
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Melissa George, Phillip Baker Hall

The remake of the adaptation of the novel based on the “true” story as claimed by the real life Lutz family. Got that? It doesn’t really matter either way in truth as this movie takes a fairly liberal approach to the source material in order to maximise the cinematic value of the story. This turns out to be a smart move as the resulting film is a competent genre flick which though lacking in originality is a lot more fun and entertaining than the serious-but-tedious 1979 original.
Ryan Reynolds (Blade: Trinity, Van Wilder) turns in a solid performance as the Jack Torrance-alike George Lutz with both the menacing intensity and genuine everyguy charm necessary to the role. It would have been nice to see a little more of the good version of George but Reynolds manages to capture audience sympathy in a short amount of time. This means that there is a real emotional reaction to seeing the character degenerating into a vicious brute as he is taken over by the evil in the house.
The film builds up a good atmosphere of looming horror and high tension. Unfortunately it also makes some odd choices with its more supernatural scare scenes however. At several different points in the movie the viewer is shown a ghost/demon/whatever creeping up on one of the characters only for them to turn around and not be able to see it. It just seems that that there is no point in the ghost being there at all, why is it trying to scare these people if they can’t even notice it? At least some of the scarier scenes work though, the baby-sitter trapped in the closet with the dead girl and being forced to finger her bullet-wound is a fun and scary gross-out moment.
It is a sad fact of life that many horror films rely on plot contrivance and unrealistic character behaviour to move the story forward. The Amityville Horror falls victim to this pitfall with people making unbelievable and ridiculous decisions all over the place. The Lutz family stay in the house for far longer than any rational person would given the bountiful evidence that something is seriously amiss there. A priest called in to exorcise the house is attacked by a freakish spontaneous swarm of bees and ghostly malevolent voices order him out though it still takes Kathy Lutz the whole damn movie to bother looking into the history of the house. When she does finally get round to a little research she discovers a whole new plotline tagged on to this film that was absent in the original. It revolves around a crazy witch guy called Reverend Ketchem and his bizarre experiments which mostly involved torturing and killing native Americans. Of course it isn’t too difficult to guess where all this took place… This new explanation for the origin of the evil in the house is founded in a small kernel of truth but is mostly hogwash. It feels very tacked-on and at odds with the general feel of the movie.
The main issue with this film is that there just doesn’t seem to be any real reason to have made it. It does what it does quite well but treads no new ground. There have already been numerous sequels to the original Amityville Horror and though this film is far better than all of them the central story is just too tired and redundant by now.

6/10