Tuesday, 18 November 2014

First screening next week for 'Somerset Crocodile' movie The Hatching

The Hatching is a new British horror film I picked up on a while back about crocodiles in the Somerset levels. Shot at the tail-end of last year, it's now ready to screen and will have its premiere next week as part of the Bath Film Festival.

The cast is top-lined by British genre star Andrew-Lee Potts (Primeval, Strange, Freakdog, The Bunker) and Laura Aikman (Casualty, Keith Lemon) with Thomas Turgoose (Eden Lake), Jack McMullen (Grange Hill, Brookie) and Georgia Henshaw (In the Dark Half), Plus, for some reason, 'comedian' Justin Lee Collins.

Synopsis:
Tim returns to his childhood home to bury his father and take over the family business, with his girlfriend Lucy. However, Tim carries an old burden; a friend of his was killed by a crocodile during a kids’ prank at a local zoo and when locals mysteriously start vanishing, Tim realizes the crocodile eggs he stole as a child have now hatched and are loose on the Somerset Levels. As people disappear and gruesome body parts mount, the horrific truth emerges and for Tim it’s a race against time, to put right what went so horribly wrong.

The Hatching is helmed by experienced director Michael Anderson who started out as clapper-loader on stuff like An American Werewolf in London and has made stacks of corporates, commercials etc. (But he's not this guy.) He describes the film as a comedy horror, a cross between Hot Fuzz and Jaws. Top prosthetic house Animated Extras created the crocodile.

You can find out more at www.hatchingthemovie.com or www.facebook.com/hatchingthemovie

The Hatching screens at the Little Theatre Cinema in Bath on 22nd November, with the director and producer in attendance. There is also a screening on 28th November at The Seed Factory in Aller, a village near Bridgwater where prodco Ebenezer Films are based.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Can’t wait to see… Boris in the Forest

Here’s an in-production short I came across by chance which sounds great. Boris in the Forest is a forthcoming short film from Robert Hackett: “A black comedy about a Californian nerd in search of his horror hero Boris Karloff.”

It stars Mac McDonald from Red Dwarf, George Georgiou (Mamma Mia!), Darren Kent (Community), Joyce Henderson (Burke and Hare) and, as William Henry Pratt, British horror regular Jonathan Hansler (Axed, The Devil’s Business). Mark Towns (Gnaw, The Borderlands) is editing the film even as we speak.

You can find out more on the picture’s Facebook page.

Huge fan of Karloff here. Can’t wait to see this.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

The Fallow Field novel available for Kindle

Leigh Dovey, writer-director of the brilliant The Fallow Field, has now turned the story into a novel which is available as an eBook from Amazon.

If you've seen the film, you know the basic story, but in case you haven't here's the synopsis:

Amnesiac Matt Sadler  awakes alone in the middle of a wilderness with no recollection of the past seven days. As disturbing slithers of memory gradually return he retraces his steps to a remote farm owned by loner Calham. The farmer is suspicious of Matt but instantly sparks a dark sense of déjà vu. Calham turns on Matt, imprisoning and interrogating him, before forcing him on a terrible journey of abduction and slaughter to show the amnesiac the twisted games they used to play together. As Matt s fogged memory slowly begins to clear and he learns the two men share a violent history, the horrors of their past come skipping out of the darkness to greet them….

You can find out more about Leigh's forthcoming work at his new website.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Press release: 28 Days Later named best British horror film of the 21st century

Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later has been named the best British horror movie of the 21st century (so far) in a survey of film-makers and fans. The 2002 film, which stars Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris and Christopher Eccleston, narrowly beat Neil Marshall’s 2005 chiller The Descent, about a group of female cavers battling deadly underground creatures, and Shaun of the Dead, Edgar Wright’s 2004 ‘rom-zom-com’ starring Simon Pegg.

In the past 15 years, a combination of cheap equipment and online distribution has caused a huge increase in the number of feature films produced in the UK, especially in the ever-popular horror genre. This month, the total number of British horror films released since January 2000 reached 500 – as many as were made during the whole of the 20th century.

The survey was organised by film critic MJ Simpson, author of Urban Terrors: New British Horror Cinema and an acknowledged expert on the ‘British Horror Revival’. One hundred directors, screenwriters, producers, actors and effects artists each submitted their own top ten films, along with film critics, academics and horror fans. More than 130 movies received votes, reflecting the wide range of high quality horrors produced in the UK in recent years.

The other titles in the top ten were, in order: Dead Man’s Shoes (Shane Meadows, 2004), Eden Lake (James Watkins, 2008), Dog Soldiers (Neil Marshall, 2002), Kill List (Ben Wheatley, 2011), The Woman in Black (James Watkins, 2012), Monsters (Gareth Edwards, 2010) and Attack the Block (Joe Cornish, 2011).

“People may be surprised to hear that there have been 500 British horror films made in 15 years,” admits Simpson. “That’s because the media only acknowledge the tiny percentage of movies that play cinemas and ignore the vast body of great work being done by independent film-makers taking advantage of new technology to make and release their own films through DVD and VOD. For horror fans who take the trouble to look beyond the multiplex, this is truly a golden age.”

While Hollywood blockbusters routinely cost hundreds of millions of dollars, British horror films show that budget isn’t necessarily related to quality. Three of the top ten – Dead Man’s Shoes, Kill List and Monsters – each cost well under a million pounds and many of the other films cost a fraction of that. Steven Shiel’s Mum and Dad (34th) cost just £100,000 to make, Julian Richards’ The Last Horror Movie (38th) cost just £50,000, and the zombie film Colin, voted the 19th best British horror film of the past 15 years, had a total budget of just £45!

Marc Price, director of Colin, commented: “At a time where mainstream cinema is offering nothing but comic-book movies, remakes or literary adaptations, British horror appears to be one of the few genres offering original story through the medium of film.”

Of all the movies nominated, only eight were historical stories, of which only one (The Woman in Black) was a traditional ‘gothic horror’. All the other films were set in the present day, emphasising how the new wave of British film-makers use horror themes to address contemporary issues such as disenfranchised youth (Eden Lake, Cherry Tree Lane), society’s treatment of the elderly (The Living and the Dead, Harold’s Going Stiff), the power of social media (Backslasher, Panic Button), global corporate responsibility (Severance) and Scottish devolution (White Settlers).

Dr Johnny Walker, Lecturer in Media at Northumbria University and author of the forthcoming book Contemporary British Horror Cinema: Industry, Genre and Society, commented: “For many people, British horror died when the old Hammer ceased making feature films in the late 1970s. The list revealed here points to an entirely different story. Not only does it demonstrate how British horror has broadly managed to outstep Hammer's 'period gothic' model with films that deal with a host of contemporary issues, it also testifies to the variety that recent British horror cinema has offered its audiences, whether the films were made for £5 million or 50p.”

MJ Simpson offered the following recommendations for anyone looking to expand their knowledge of modern British horror films:
  • If you want to be… scared: try Before Dawn, in which a couple on the edge of separation are threatened by zombies.
  • If you want to be… disturbed: try Mum and Dad, in which a young woman is forced to become part of her colleague’s dysfunctional family.
  • If you want to be… questioned: try The Last Horror Movie, in which a serial killer videos his work and asks why people might want to watch it.
  • If you want to be… entertained: try Stalled, in which a zombie outbreak leaves a man trapped in a toilet cubicle.

Modern British Horror Survey, continued (films 21-40, and the rest)

It's a measure of the overall quality of modern British horror films that so many great titles couldn't make it into the top 20, on account of there only being 20 places available. So here are the next 20...

21. The Hole (Nick Hamm, 2001)
22. The Awakening (Nick Murphy, 2011)
23. Sightseers (Ben Wheatley, 2012)
24. Mum and Dad (Steven Sheil, 2008)
25. A Field in England (Ben Wheatley, 2013)
26. Tony (Gerard Johnson, 2010)
27. Stalled (Christian James, 2013)
28. The Last Horror Movie (Julian Richards, 2004)
29. The Seasoning House (Paul Hyett, 2013)
30. My Little Eye (Mark Evans, 2002)
31. Outpost (Steve Barker, 2008)
32. Doghouse (Jake West, 2009)
33. Black Death (Christopher Smith, 2010)
34. The Living and the Dead (Simon Rumley, 2007)
35. A Lonely Place to Die (Julian Gilbey, 2011)
36. F (Johannes Roberts, 2010)
37. Cradle of Fear (Alex Chandon, 2002)
38. Before Dawn (Dominic Brunt, 2013)
39. 28 Weeks Later (Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, 2007)
40. Heartless (Philip Ridley, 2010)

(Films 21, 24. 28, 30, 31, 34 and 37 are covered in detail in my book Urban Terrors, as are all the films marked with an asterisk in the list below.)

The following films also received votes:
Aggressive Behaviour, Anazapta*, Any Minute Now
Backslasher, Bane, Battlefield Death Tales, The Big Finish*, Blood + Roses, Book of Blood, Bordello Death Tales, The Bunker*
Chemical Wedding*, Cherry Tree Lane, Citadel, The Cottage*, Cut
A Day of Violence, The Dead, Dead Creatures*, Dead End, Dead of the Nite, Dead Wood, Deathwatch*, The Descent Part Two, The Devil’s Bargain, Devil’s Bridge, The Devil’s Business, The Devil’s Chair*, The Devil’s Music, The Disappeared, The Disappearance of Alice Creed, Doomsday*
The Eschatrilogy, Evil Aliens*, Exhibit A, Exorcism
Fall of the Louse of Usher*, The Fallow Field, Footsteps*, Forest of the Damned*, Freak Out*
The Glass Man, Gnaw
Harold’s Going Stiff, The Harsh Light of Day, Hush
Inbred, In Fear
KillerKiller*
The League of Gentlemen’s Apocalypse*, Lesbian Vampire Killers, Lie Still*, London Voodoo*
Mindflesh*
Night Junkies*
Panic Button. The Paranormal Diaries: Clophill, Penetration Angst*
The Quiet Ones
Red Mist, Red White and Blue, The Reeds, The Resident, Resurrecting ‘The Street Walker’
The Scar Crow, Season of the Witch, The Secret Path, Small Town Folk*, Soul Searcher*, Stalker, Summer Scars
Theatre of Fear, Tormented, Tortured, Tower Block, The Toybox*, Truth or Dare
Under the Skin
Vampire Diary*, Venus Drowning
Wake Wood, Wandering Rose, WAZ*, When Evil Calls*, When the Lights Went Out, White Settlers, Wilderness*, Wishbaby, The Witches Hammer*, World of the Dead: The Zombie Diaries 2
The Zombie Diaries*
13hrs, The 7th Dimension

And since no-one at all is wondering, here's my personal top ten (at the time I voted):

  1. The Descent
  2. The Dead
  3. The Last Horror Movie
  4. Mum and Dad
  5. Dead Man's Shoes
  6. Resurrecting 'The Street Walker'
  7. The Seasoning House
  8. Triangle
  9. Wishbaby
  10. 28 Days Later

Modern British Horror Survey - the top twenty

Over the past month I have been finding the best British horror films of the 21st century (so far) by soliciting top tens from directors, screenwriters, producers, actors, designers, FX artists, critics, academics and fans. Now the votes are in, and I can reveal the top 20, as voted for by you:

  1. 28 Days Later (Danny Boyle, 201) Cillian Murphy and Naomie Harris evade rage-infected sort-of-zombies. With a side order of Christopher Eccleston
  2. The Descent (Neil Marshall, 2005) Six friends go caving, get lost, get trapped - and then find they're not alone...
  3. Shaun of the Dead (Edgar Wright, 2004) Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and pals stumble through a zombie apocalypse and eventually reach the pub.
  4. Dead Man’s Shoes (Shane Meadows, 2004) Ex-soldier Paddy Considine takes terrifying revenge on the small-town gangsters who bullied his mentally impaired brother.
  5. Eden Lake (James Watkins, 2008) Kelly Reilly and Michael Fassbender are terrorised by out-of-control children in the idyllic countryside.
  6. Dog Soldiers (Neil Marshall, 2002) It's squaddies vs werewolves in a classic siege scenario, under the command of British horror favourite Sgt Sean Pertwee.
  7. Kill List (Ben Wheatley, 2011) Two hitmen take on a mysterious job which leads them into conflict with a Pagan cult.
  8. The Woman in Black (James Watkins, 2012) Daniel Radcliffe makes his post-Potter debut in a traditional gothic ghost story from the reborn Hammer Films.
  9. Monsters (Gareth Edwards, 2010) A young couple travel across a depopulated zone inhabited by giant mysterious aliens.
  10. Attack the Block (Joe Cornish, 2011) Teenage muggers turn the tables on invading extraterrestrials.
  11. Creep (Christopher Smith, 2005) Franka Potente is trapped in the Tube overnight with a mysterious, deadly killer.
  12. Severance (Christopher Smith, 2007) A corporate team-building exercise in Eastern Europe with Andy Nyman and Danny Dyer goes oh so very wrong
  13. Let Me In (Matt Reeves, 2010) Young boy mets not-as-young-as-she-looks girl in Hammer remake of creepy Swedish vampire tale.
  14. The Children (Tom Shankland, 2008) Mysterious illness turns little tykes into emotionless, deadly killers.
  15. Berberian Sound Studio (Peter Strickland, 2012) Psychological terror for Toby Jones at the mixing desk as he works on the soundtrack of an Italian horror movie.
  16. The Borderlands (Elliot Goldner, 2014) Vatican-backed paranormal investigators find m ore than they bargained for when they look underneath an old English church.
  17. Triangle (Christopher Smith, 2009) Multiple realities and time-travel onboard a mysterious, deserted ocean liner.
  18. Byzantium (Neil Jordan, 2013) Vampire sisters on the run in a little coastal town.
  19. Colin (Marc Price, 2009) One zombie’s journey through the apocalypse.
  20. Cockneys vs Zombies (Matthias Hoene, 2012) The living dead interfere with a bank robbery and attack an old people’s home.
Some statistics:
  • Three films directed by Christopher Smith (Black Death came 33rd)
  • Two films directed by Neil Marshall (Doomsday also got a few votes)
  • Two films directed by James Watkins
  • Five films feature make-up effects by Paul Hyett (2, 5, 6, 8, 9 - Paul's own film The Seasoning House came 29th)
  • Two films written by James Moran (12, 20 - Tower Block also got a few votes)
  • Two films with music by Dave Julyan (2, 5)
  • Two films starring Nick Frost (3, 10)
  • Two films starring MyAnna Buring (2, 7)
  • Most expensive film: The Woman in Black (£17 million)
  • Least expensive film: Colin (45 quid!)
  • Although 28 Days Later scored slightly higher overall than The Descent, more people voted The Descent as their no.1 film
  • Films 1-6, 11, 12, 14 are featured in depth in my book Urban Terrors
Now take a look at films 21-40 and the rest of the nominees.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Just three - now one! - days left to submit your top ten to the modern British horror survey

It's Tuesday 21st October, which means you've got just three days to get your votes in for the survey to find the best British horror films of the 21st century (so far). A walloping 500 British horror features have been released since January 2000, of which a welcome 105 have so far received at least one vote.

Please take a look at my original list of 100 suggestions (of which about two thirds have actually received votes so far). Have a think about other movies you've seen. Put together your ten favourites and let me know by midnight on Friday 24th.

You can post a comment on this blog, or you can email me directly mjs2000@ntlworld.com, or if you want to win a bundle of British horror DVDs, cast your vote on the Facebook page of TheHorrorShow.tv

Next week I will publish a list of the top 20. I think it might contain a few surprises...