Sunday, 9 October 2016

Films that slipped out when no-one was looking: A Reckoning

I recently sat through some rubbish called SAS Black Ops (aka Slaughter is the Best Medicine) and recognised the name of one of the actors, AD Barker. A quick trip to IMDB confirmed I knew that name because he wrote and directed a British horror movie variously known as Straw Man or A Reckoning.

Shit back in early 2009, A Reckoning has been on my list of MIA British horror films for a long time. A few people saw it back in 2011, presumably from screeners, but some sort of dispute kept the film from distribution. So imagine my surprise to discover that A Reckoning slipped onto YouTube back in April, courtesy of Adam Krajczynski who was DP, editor and one of four producers.

Here’s AD Barker’s synopsis of his film from IMDB: “A lone man, trapped and imprisoned in a barren, desolate landscape. His only companions are a village of straw people with which he converses with as neighbours and friends; he even teaches straw children at the local school. Yet, this anchor, this way of habitual living, is about to become unravelled in frightening and disturbing ways.”

What makes A Reckoning particularly interesting is the cast. The lead role is played by Leslie Simpson, known for his roles in Dog Soldiers, The Descent, Doomsday and Beyond the Rave. And the woman he meets is played by Axelle Carolyn, known for roles in Blood + Roses, Centurion and Psychosis, and more recently director of Soulmate and Tales of Halloween. These two BHR names previously worked together in Tristan Versluis’ short I Love You.

I don’t know how or why A Reckoning has finally turned up – and I haven’t watched it myself yet – but it’s good to tick it off the MIA list after seven years in Limbo.

Friday, 30 September 2016

Can’t wait to see… Skullz and Dead Fred

Skullz is a family-friendly horror mystery currently being shot by TF Film Productions Ltd down in the south. Here’s the synopsis:

On a school trip at the local museum, class troublemaker Scott Collins experiences a bizarre psychic connection with one of its artifacts - a skull. The creepy skull allows him to for-see his grandmother's death. Of course, nobody believes him, passing it off as one of his usual tales. But after gran dies suddenly, his younger sister, Trish, for whom he shares a mutual contempt, is stunned to learn that her brother's premonition was true. 

With both parents out of work and their house on the verge of foreclosure, Scott, still affected by the powers of the skull, convinces his family to accept employment as caretakers for a large Victorian house in the countryside. When they arrive they meet the owner, Trelawney, a seemingly normal man with one exception - he has the ability to speak to Scott telepathically. Scott soon discovers that the cursed skull holds the key to both of their futures.

The cast includes Tim Faraday (Scar Tissue, Harvest of the Dead, Primeval), Henry Douthwaite (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Axed, The Last Horror Movie) and Gillian Tully (Distant Shadow). Director Deanna Dewey co-wrote My Guardian Angel. You can find out more on Facebook.

Many of the cast are also in a second feature from TF Films and Dewey, a macabre black comedy called Dead Fred. Now in post and likely to be released first, this stars the legendary Sandra Dickinson (Hitchhiker’s Guide, StagKnight) with Jane How (Don’t Wait Up, Doctor Who: ‘Planet of the Daleks’), Susan Kyd, Judy Norman and Melissa de Mol.

This is also on Facebook. Here’s the synopsis: When three older women take over the care of a dear friend who has dementia, they get more than they bargained for when they discover she’s hiding her dead husband in the freezer…

While neither of these is strictly speaking a horror movie, cursed skulls and dead bodies in freezers are enough to qualify as British horror in my book...

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Plan Z: US DVD release and UK festival outing

Plan Z, the new zombie feature from Stuart Brennan (The Reverend) hits DVD in the States on 11 October courtesy of Invincible Pictures.

Shot back in early 2014, Plan Z premiered at the Horrorhound festival in March this year where Stuart won Best Director and was nominated for Best Actor.

Alongside the director, the film stars Mark Paul Wake (Masterpiece), Victoria Morrison, Eugene Horan (Ghostwood), Brooke Burfitt (After Death, The Addicted), Isabella Caley and, making his British horror debut, Horrible Histories author Terry Deary! Plus lots and lots of zombies, with make-up effects by Sarah McCracken.

If you want to catch Plan Z on the big screen, it will be part of the 10th UK Festival of Zombie Culture at Phoenix Square, Leicester on 10th November.

Some years ago Stuart Brennan made a feature called Zombies of the Night but that was never finished. His other new film, a version of A Christmas Carol, is still in post.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Japanese release for Art of Darkness

Here’s the incredible, blood-drenched DVD sleeve for the Japanese release of Art of Darkness, out on 4th October.

Originally filmed as Art House, Martin and Steve Laurence’s film played festivals as Art House Massacre - the title under which I saw and reviewed it in 2012.

It was released in Germany (as The Painter) in 2013 and there have also been US and Dutch discs, although no UK release yet.

Still, you can always rely on Japanese distributors to push the envelope when it comes to marketing.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Can't wait to see... Dark Beacon

Coz Greenop, director of the brilliant Wandering Rose (aka Demon Baby aka Little Devil) dropped me a line to say he has just wrapped principal photography on his second feature, Dark Beacon. Here’s the synopsis:

Amy Wilcock loves Beth Gadsby like a moth loves a flame. When Beth's husband Christian finds out about this, he tries to kill them both in a suicidal attempt. Beth survives but the woman she was doesn't. She disappears with her daughter Maya weeks later without so much as a goodbye. Amy tracks her down to a distant lighthouse only to find her broken and maddened in the midst of a dive into an alcoholic abyss.

Now Amy must decide whether she can save the love of her life or only the traumatised child from an increasingly dangerous spiral of madness and the preternatural threat of Beth's deceased husband Christian, back from the dead and hell bent on destroying them all.

Dark Beacon stars April Pearson (Tank 432, Tormented), Lynne Anne Rodgers (From Dusk Till Dawn 3), Toby Osmond, Jimmy Allen and everyone’s favourite, the nicest scary-looking long-haired guy in showbiz, Mr Jon Campling.

You can keep up to date with the movie on Facebook. Meanwhile here's a few behind-the-scenes pics.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

The Hatching released in German and Japan

Somerset crocodile movie The Hatching, which was released in the States last March is now available in Japan, with a typically over-the-top sleeve image. And German croc-film fans will get to see it at the end of the month, with a slightly more restrained sleeve design.

Still no news on a UK release, which is a shame.

Since making The Hatching a couple of years ago, genre fave Andrew Lee Potts has been in another British horror, James Crow's House of Salem which premiered at Frightfest last month.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

American Exorcism? That’ll do nicely.

You can go years without reading anything about Andrew Prendergast, then two things come along at the same time. Last month, Just as the trailer for Evil Elvis was popping up on YouTube, Mr P was producing a new British horror feature called An American Exorcism, described as “a dark comedy that revolves around a Jerry Springer-style show in which members of the public are ‘exorcised’ live on TV.” The IMDB synopsis expands on this slightly:

“When Father Ryan Stone, host of late night, low budget tv show 'American Exorcism' is confronted by his past live on tv he must confront his past and his faith by performing the first televised exorcism as the world watches.”

An American Exorcism is the third feature from director Ed Boase. Coincidentally, last night I watched Boase’s hugely impressive feature debut, 2011 hunting-humans thriller Blooded. That bodes well, but on the other hand his second film was the truly terrible The Mirror. The key difference, I suspect, is that Blooded had a well-crafted script by James Walker, whereas Boase wrote The Mirror himself.

An American Exorcism has been written by Andy Conway (from a story by Prendergast), who previously scripted 2014 found-footage action picture Arjun and Allison. The film stars Vincent Riotta (Mr Selfridge), Fola Evans-Akinbola, Eleanor Gecks (Dark Signal, Young Dracula) and American soap actress Miranda Wilson, plus Joshua Dickinson and Nate Fellows from The Mirror. It was shot in Birmingham between 15th and 28th August. No stills yet but here’s the cast and crew at the wrap party.