Thursday, 11 February 2016

The great Nazi zombie DVD sleeve mystery

Take a look at this DVD sleeve. I don’t know if it’s real, but it’s very odd.

There are a lot of films out there about Nazi zombies. This looks like it might be the Pat Higgins/Jim Eaves/Al Ronald anthology filmed as Battlefield Death Tales, which was released in the UK as Nazi Zombie Death Tales and in the States as Angry Nazi Zombies. This artwork was used by the German distributor who called the film Nazi Zombie Battleground. (Although it's not the artwork used on, which resembles the UK sleeve.)

However, exactly the same artwork was used in the UK for an American film originally titled Maplewoods which was released over there as Operation: Nazi Zombies and over here as just Nazi Zombies. Adding to the confusion is that Zombis Nazis is the Spanish title for the Norwegian film Dead Snow. All the text here is in Spanish but the back of the sleeve promises subtitles in Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish and Danish.

The synopsis on the back of the sleeve is for Nazi Zombies – but two of the small pictures are from Nazi Zombie Death Tales! Neither of those films has been released in Spain. I don’t know what this is or where it’s from or whether it’s real, but I think it more likely relates to the movie formerly known as Maplewoods than the movie formerly known as Battlefield Death Tales.

And because life’s not complicated enough, Nazi Zombies and Nazi Zombie Battleground were released together last year in a German four-pack called Nazi Zombie Invasion which also included Nazi Sky (a retitling of The Asylum’s Iron Sky rip-off Nazis at the Center of the Earth) and Scottish comedy Attack of the Herbals (known over there as Attack of the Nazi Herbals).

Boy, those Germans sure love their Nazis, don’t they? Wait – what?

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Hangman: The return of Adam Mason

Between 2000 and 2007, Adam Mason was a stalwart of the British Horror Revival, directing four films of varying quality but consistent interest level. There was The 13th Sign (bloody awful), Dust (not great), Broken (very good but nasty) and The Devil’s Chair. Some folks don’t rate that last one but in my opinion (and that of my good friend and fellow British Horror enthusiast Dr Johnny Walker) it’s an absolute belter of a movie with a fascinating meta angle. You'll need to pick up a copy of Urban Terrors to read more about this.

Adam then went to the USA where he made four more films: Blood River, Lustre, Pig and Junkie. Plus, apparently, a documentary about American education. But his latest film, which was released yesterday, is once again British.

Hangman is a found footage home invasion horror, starring Jeremy Sisto from Law and Order and Kate Ashfield (When the Lights Went Out, Byzantium). It was co-written with Adam’s regular collaborator Simon Boyes and premiered at SXSW last March. You can buy it now on Amazon.

Synopsis: Returning from vacation, the Miller family find their home has been broken into. After cleaning up the mess they continue with their lives, shaking off the feeling of being violated. But little do they know the nightmare has just begun.

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Now on YouTube: Torn: A Shockyoumentary

Justin Carter's mockdoc TORN: a SHOCK YOUmentary is now available to watch for free on YouTube. Shot in 2013, the film premiered in Portsmouth in 2014 and played at last year's Horror-on-Sea. Here's Carter's latest post on the film's Facebook page:

If Rhianna can do it, so can we. We're giving it away.
Here it is, our NO BUDGET movie, "TORN: a SHOCK YOUmentary".
This was a little experiment to see how far we could get making a feature with consumer grade equipment, in NO TIME (just a few days), with NO CREW (just 2 of us on most of the shoot) and with NO MONEY (just a little more than what was spent on food and travel). Despite the enormous pressures of trying to achieve such a task, we managed to get good reviews and have a successful festival run. We've all gone on to critical acclaim and award wins on other projects since we produced this but the fact we managed to pull this off at all will remain one of the most satisfying experiences of my broadcasting/filmmaking life. TORN got offered a number of distribution deals but I figured, seeing as none of us got paid to make it, why should anyone pay to see it? So...

Synopsis: If you go down to the woods today.... Has a supernatural evil come to terrorise the rural Devon village of Orchardlea? Or is the escalating body count and sense of impending doom actually the self fulfilling prophecy of two hoaxsters accused of a brutal murder?This SHOCK YOUmentary tells the story of a group of friends and siblings who join forces to protect the population of Orchardlea from a terrifying beast. TORN is a genuine, powerful and intelligent thriller from award winning filmmaker Justin Carter that is every bit as thoughtful as it is creepy.

The cast includes Lewis Saunderson (POV), Julian Seager (The Scopia Effect, Scareycrows) and Simon Burbage (Zombie Resurrection, Survivors).

Monday, 1 February 2016

How many British horror films are directed by women?

As it’s Women in Horror Month, I thought I’d take a look through my master list of 21st century British horror features and see how many were directed by women. Here’s the full list, in alphabetical order:
  1. Anna: Scream Queen Killer aka Scream Queen Killer (d.Melanie Denholme/The Aquinas) – Wannabe horror actress gets humiliated, abused and raped by director until she flips.
  2. Another Me (d.Isabel Coixet) – Schoolgirl haunted by ghost of dead twin.
  3. Credo aka The Devil’s Curse (d.Toni Harman) – Students in spooky old house battle demons.
  4. The Dead Outside (d.Kerry Anne Mullaney) – Three survivors of zombie apocalypse, one of whom might have a cure.
  5. A Dying Breed (d.Katharine Collins) – Six survivors of apocalypse trapped in a house.
  6. For One Night Only (d.Belinda Greensmith) – Teenagers hold séance in abandoned asylum.
  7. Expiry Date (d.Karen Bird) – Cursed credit card. I’m still desperate to see this!
  8. The Falling (d.Carol Morley) – Fainting sickness in 1960s girls’ school.
  9. The Final Haunting (d.Flaminia Graziadei) – Babysitter accepts job in spooky house.
  10. Jelly Dolly (d.Susannah Gent) – Woman finds ringpull in belly button.
  11. The Hitchhiker’s Project (d.Madeline McQueen) – Three young people go hiking and disappear.
  12. The Holding (d.Susan Jacobson) – Sinister visitor helps out on a farm.
  13. Isle of Dogs (d.Tammi Sutton) – Violent gangland thriller.
  14. The Library (d.Daljinder Singh) - Librarian doesn't realise she has inherited  murder victim's job.
  15. Merry Z-Day (d.Lily Jenkins) – Zombie comedy set at Christmas.
  16. Patient 17 (d.Tuyet Le) – Medical interns investigating patient uncover conspiracy.
  17. Rising Tide (d.Dawn Furness, Philip Shotton) – Students stuck on island, stalked by maniac.
  18. Soulmate (d.Axelle Carolyn) – After unsuccessful suicide bid, woman stays in haunted cottage.
  19. Temptation (d.Catherine Taylor) – Rape victim offered chance of immortality by vampire.
  20. A Vault of Victims (d. Anthony Brems, Maria Lee Metheringham and Will Metheringham) – Anthology: lesbians kill man; woman becomes obsessed with mirror; murderous teddy bear
That’s yer lot. Out of 628 British horror films released since 2000, I could only find 20 directed by women (three of which were shared directorial credits). I found another five which have been screened but not released:
  • Black Lightning Dream (d. Nici Preston)
  • Deadly Waters (d.Tyler James, Catherine Carpenter)
  • Jagoda aka The One (d.Lex Pokane-Hefner)
  • The Lesson (d.Ruth Platt)
  • Whispers (d.Tammi Sutton)
Some of the above 25 movies are fantastic, some are terrible, some are okay, some I haven’t seen. Which is as you would expect. What this means and whether it matters I leave to others to debate (observations/opinions welcome in the comments section). And obviously please let me know if I've missed any.

But for anyone looking for the cold, hard stats about how many horror films in this country are directed by women, the answer is...

Three per cent.

[Update. Thanks to Kulvinder Gill for reminding me that my initial list of 19 missed out Daljinder Singh's The Library. My bad. Post updated - MJS]

Friday, 29 January 2016

Another new title for Richard Driscoll's Eldorado

If you’ve never seen Richard Driscoll’s Eldorado/Highway to Hell, it looks like you might get another chance as Tricky Dicky is trying to sell the film again under a new title.

There’s no sign of an actual release yet but he has set up a Twitter account and a Facebook page for the movie as A Bad Night in Death Valley. Which, you know, isn’t a bad title as these things go.

The absence of David Carradine or Brigitte Nielsen from the credit block indicates that this is the 90-minute Highway to Hell version. Or possibly he’s re-edited it yet again. Who knows?

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

The Devil Complex becomes The Devil Within

Here’s one I wasn’t aware of. The Devil Complex is a found footage picture about an expedition into the wilds of a vast Romanian forest.

It is being released in the UK on 9th May by Point Blank, retitled The Devil Within. I’d wager a penny to a pound that the sleeve image bears no relation whatsoever to anything actually in the film.

The film is the directorial debut of Mark Evans who produced Gangsters, Guns and Zombies and the unreleased Forest of the Damned 2. The cast includes Tom Bonnington (A Haunting at the Rectory, Le Fear II, The Wrong Floor) and Bill Hutchens (Human Centipede 2 and 3).

Synopsis: In November 2012 Rachel Kusza and her team of film makers travelled to Transylvania to document the Baciu forest; a forest with a dark history of strange occurrences, ghost sightings and countless cases of missing people. The film crew were never heard from again…

After searching for them for two years, Howard Redman, Rachel's teacher, found their camera buried in the snow. Before taking own his life in February 2014, Redman uploaded the footage to the internet. It shows the crew's dark and horrific journey into the woods and why the locals refuse to enter. They say that if you enter the forest with evil in your heart, or dark secrets in your past, the forest will expose you and show you who you really are, before punishing you.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Wandering Rose aka Demon Baby gets another inappropriate title

Just over a year ago I pointed out that the new title and artwork for Coz Greenop’s atmospheric ghost story Wandering Rose were both completely inappropriate, On account of there is no demon baby and the main character is only just pregnant, not about to drop.

A quick look at the User Reviews on Amazon shows what a bad idea this was, as it has left a lot of punters expecting something like Rosemary’s Baby.
  • “If you look at the poster, you expect a demonic baby to pop out of that swollen belly. Just like in "Alien". Right ? But sorry. No baby. No demon.”
  • “Maybe her boyfriend was the devil and he passed something evil onto her? If anyone knows the answer, maybe you can clarify...”
  • “For Pete's sake,change the title of the movie and the cover graphics. Completely misleading.”
And this one which I think is worth quoting in full:

“WTH, WTF!? The movie is over!? And where's the Demon Baby.. ?!? OK, I was expecting some possession at some time .. but there was nothing .. !!! They've changed the title to "Wandering Rose" .. but at the time I was watching it the name of the movie was "Demon Baby" with a demon baby moving in the stomach of the mother on the cover .. !!!
   “At least at the end of the movie I would have expected a Demon Baby .. !!! But NOTHING .. !!! Where's the f####!n DEMON BABY, damned .. ?!? Are you kidding me .. ?!? The Ghost of a woman (or a demon!?) appeared throughout the movie following Rose but never really did something .. so she could as well just have been imagining it ..
   “Boredome throughout the movie .. I was expecting something to happen but NOTHING HAPPENED .. !!! ARGHH .. !!! Promising and not delivering .. not even trying to deliver .. !!!”

The movie has played festivals now as Demon Baby and been released in South Korea as Demon Baby, but it still has no demon and not even really a baby. It’s a freaking ghost story for God’s sake. About a woman named Rose. What the hell was wrong with Wandering Rose?

So now I spot an impending UK release. New Horizon Films will release Coz’s movie on 20 June, and thank the Lord they haven’t called it Demon Baby like everywhere else.

Nope, they’re calling it Little Devil.

What is wrong with these people? Do they not actually watch the films they distribute? There is not the tiniest hint of demon or devil in this film. It is precisely as demonic as Four Weddings and a Funeral, no more devilish than When Harry Met Sally and contains exactly as much Satanism as Wall-E. It is not a film about demons or demonic things. It is a GHOST STORY.

A ghost story? You know? Like, um, well, Ghost Story for example.

There is no sleeve image available yet for the UK DVD but whether they use stupid ‘horned baby face’ (available in some versions with extra veins!) or something else, the fact is that New Horizon are setting out to piss off their customers (many of whom will blame Corrie Greenop, out of whose hands this whole thing now is).

Please spread the word, share this post and let horror fans know this is a ghost story. So people who want to watch a ghost story will find it and people who want Rosemary's Baby redux won't get pissed of.


[Update. Coz has now sent me the UK sleeve image. If anything, it's even worse. Remember, this is a ghost film about a couple who have just found out that the wife is pregnant. Oh Christ - I've just noticed the building blocks. Seriously? - MJS]