Sunday, 25 January 2015

Full list of my British horror reviews

I have finally completed the project to move all my British horror reviews from the old, defunct site to this one. Here is a full list of the 133 British horror features I have reviewed to date: those that came across from the old site and the ones I have written in the past two years (there's more than 131 items here because of alternative titles). There are of course a whole load more films that are reviewed in my book Urban Terrors (plus a few titles covered both in print and online).

How many of these have you seen? Please feel free to leave a comment under any review you agree or disagree with...

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Recent, unreleased British horror films Part 10

Still they come. Films which have been completed and screened (as far as I know) but not yet made commercially available.

Soldiers of the Damned (directed by Mark Nuttall)


“It’s the Eastern Front, 1944. The Russians are pushing the German Army back through Romania. Major Kurt Fleischer, war-weary commander of an elite troop of German soldiers, is ordered to escort a female scientist into a mysterious forest behind enemy lines to retrieve an ancient relic. As his men begin to disappear in strange circumstances Fleischer realises that the scientist is part of Himmler’s occult department and there is something in the forest that is far more deadly than the Russians.”

Filmed in April/May 2013, a not-quite finished version of this was trade-screened at the AFM in November 2014. From the director of CBBC’s Prank Patrol! More at www.facebook.com/SOTDfilm

This Changed Earth (directed by Ross Bradley, David Hinds)


“The earth has changed, but not for those who still stand upon it. A masked figure stalks a graveyard searching for remnants. Moths and butterflies trapped in the light. A lizard nailed to a tree. A man imprisoned by his own tired vices. A rabbit in a pantry. Seeds in a small wooden box. All these things will collide, fuse and split…and all will be born again, upon this changed earth.”

This was made in 2011 in Nottinghamshire. My notes say there was a screening in November 2013 but I can’t find any details. There’s no help to be had on the production company’s website, devilswax.com, where the most recent update is an August 2014 announcement that a second feature The House on Cuckoo Lane, is allegedly on its way to festivals.

Vampire Guitar (directed by Richard Pawelko)


“The film is a black comedy. It follows the murderous progress of a killer guitar and its attendant roadie with whom it develops a Faustian pact. The roadie’s tragic relationship with the evil instrument forms the spine of the film. The marks left on the bodies of five victims baffle both the police and an eminent vampire hunter. The mysterious villain turns out to be a musical monster with an insatiable appetite for blood, usually that of the unfortunate musicians who acquire the six stringed menace. Set in a fictitious radio station the action is brought to cinematic life through the vivid imagination of an obsessive “listener” who conjures up most of the scenes in his head. The climax features an electrifying showdown between the forces of good and evil that can turn us into angels or devils.”

This Welsh-shot horror-comedy premiered at the Bram Stoker Film Festival in October 2013 where it won Best Screenplay but it hasn’t been heard from since. There’s an e-book novelisation on Amazon! The title alone puts this on my must-see list. More at vampireguitarfilm.co.uk

Wandering Rose (directed by Corrie Greenop)


"Rose and her fiance Theo, escape the city for a weekend away to the idyllic Scottish Highlands. Theo sees it as a last chance to have some romantic alone time with Rose before she gives birth to their first child. The couple's peace disintegrates as Rose is confronted with chilling memories of her secret past. The weekend descends into a living nightmare as Rose is forced to confront her demons. "

This wonderful ghost story, which I reviewed last October, screened in London in August 2014. And over here I expressed my dismay at the US retitling and sleeve design (set for May 2015 release but not yet on Amazon). More at www.wanderingrosemovie.com

Friday, 23 January 2015

British horror film releases 2000-2014

I just made this graph for my mate Pat Higgins to use in his talk at Horror-on-Sea this weekend. This is how many British horror films have been released each year of the 21st century. Is it any wonder that I can't keep up?

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Dead End, microbudget zombie feature, now on VOD

About two weeks ago, I included Rich Davis' microbudget zombie feature Dead End in my post headed Recent, unreleased British horror films Part 2.

Lo and behold, Dead End is now available to rent or buy, for a trifling amount, through the magic of IndieReign In fact, here it is.

I haven't watched it myself yet, but it's on my list.

Recent, unreleased British horror films Part 9

Continuing our round-up of completed, screened but unreleased British horror films from 2013/14:

7 Cases (directed by Sean J Vincent) 


“Two retired bank robbers take on one last job after meeting for the first time in 15 years... but their past comes back to haunt them. They spend the day trying to retrieve their money in one of the weirdest and scariest treasure hunts ever... They must decide between their friends and loved ones lives and their money... will anyone survive?”

Shot over the second half of 2013, this torture porn movie from the director of The Addicted premiered at the St Albans Film Festival in May 2014, following which one of the scenes was reshot in September. An eclectic cast includes Steven Berkoff, Samantha Fox and Saffron out of Republica. Vincent is now prepping a time travel feature called Hindsight. More at www.seanjvincent.com

Shadows of a Stranger (directed by Chris Clark, Richard Dutton)


“David is a struggling private detective working in the city of Meridian, a bleak and lifeless place where people trudge along like ghosts. The investigator is soon to be haunted by more than just the shadows of his fragmented life. After he's approached by a reclusive actor, David takes on one last job, one that will either make his fortune or break everything. David must search within the darkest corners of his home city, a journey that takes him within the darkest corners of his own mind. But somewhere in the shadows the ghosts await him... Shadows of a Stranger is an original tale that re-samples Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol in a dark melange of 'ghostly' visitations, psychic travelling, and the search for one's atrophied humanity. Re-imagined in a bleak, contemporary setting, the film also takes inspiration from Robert Rodriguez / Frank Miller's Sin City, and David Fincher's Se7en.”

Clark and Dutton spent five years making their debut feature on a budget of somewhere under £20,000, with principal photography wrapping in January 2012. The premiere was held at the Lincoln Odeon in September 2014. The cast includes Ian Cullen (Hellbreeder, Le Fear II, Family Affairs), CBeebies icon Sarah Jane Honeywell (now a BHR regular in films like The Herd and Book of the Dead), Colin McFarlane (Dr Muhahaha from Hounded) and former Tardis resident Colin Baker. More at www.shadowsofastranger.co.uk

The Singing Bird Will Come (directed by Iain Ross McNamee)


“A girl is forced to return to her hometown from London after her mother’s death and the break-up of her relationship. Taking a job as a night cleaner in a restaurant, she is troubled by the appearance of the ghost of a girl who disappeared years ago. A mystery unfolds around her, putting her in danger of meeting the same fate. The Singing Bird Will Come is a psychological horror thriller centering on the emotional restlessness of the lead character played by Gillian Harker. Supported by a strong cast from around the UK, this is a compelling and unnerving debut from Writer-Director Iain Ross McNamee. For fans of ghost horror films, The Singing Bird Will Come’s disturbing emotional air and atmospheric setting will have you drawn into the story and sitting on the edge of your seat.”

Filmed in Stafford between March and July 2014. The premiere was held in Stafford in November 2014 with preview screenings this month in Stafford, Shrewsbury and that London. More at www.thesingingbirdwillcome.com

Sleep (directed by John Aldridge)


“After the death of his fiance, Tom starts to see her in his dreams - living again. Every night he searches through his dreams for his fiance encountering elves and vampires along the way. Set against the backdrop of a dark, vampire infested dream scape Tom must decide whether he will stay in the dreams with his fiance, or return to the waking world where he can still lead a normal life.”

Don't know much about this one. It premiered at the Woolton Picture House, Liverpool in September 2013. No news since then. The Facebook page only goes up to March 2012 so that’s no use.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

The mystery of the new Dead Wood

There is a film listed on Amazon.co.uk for release next month called Dead Wood. There’s no mention of cast or crew, just this synopsis:

“The story follows a group of friends on a weekend camping trip to a forest. Despite rumours that the area was the location of a set of gruesome murders, the friends ultimately decide to stay and enjoy their weekend. When strange things begin to happen to them, however, they realise it is too late to leave. One of the standout horror films of 2015.”

The disc attracted my attention because I wondered whether it might be Paul Knight’s British horror feature Dead Wood which was shot a couple of years ago. But that’s a zombie picture, so doesn’t fit the synopsis.

So I googled the synopsis and found it has been cut and pasted from the Wikipedia page for Shaun Troke’s Anglo-Polish feature Sparrow. That has (allegedly) already had a UK release, last August, under the new title Deep Rooted Evil.

Could it be a re-release of David Bryant’s rural supernatural shocker Dead Wood, originally released back in 2009? The synopsis sort of fits. The image doesn’t – no creepy cottages in that film – buyt we know that’s not necessarily a clue.

The mystery film is listed as running 72 minutes, but the 2009 feature runs 82 minutes and Sparrow is 77 minutes. Interestingly, the BBFC has only one record for a film called Dead Wood, and that’s Bryant's. Even more interestingly, there is no BBFC listing for Sparrow (apart from the Zeffirelli film and something from Hong Kong) or for Deep Rooted Evil. The Amazon pages for Deep Rooted Evil and the 2015 Dead Wood both list Three Wolves Ltd as the distributor; their other releases include Martin Gooch’s Death and an anniversary edition of Hardware.

Who knows what this new Dead Wood is? Perhaps it’s a re-edit/re-re-title of Sparrow? Whatever it is, it hasn’t been certificated yet. May not even be British at all, although the IMDB only lists two films called Dead Wood: Bryant’s and Knight’s.

Also, I suspect it won't be "one of the standout horror films of 2015."

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Stoke-on-Trent zombie feature raising funds for animal sanctuary

This is great. A bloke called John Williams (not the composer, not the guitarist...) has made a feature-length zombie epic in Stoke-on-Trent for about 500 quid. It's called The Mothertown and has two names in the cast: Pete Bennett (the Tourette's chap from Big Brother) and They Think It's All Over host Nick Hancock. (Trivia point 1: I first saw Nick Hancock, then half a double act with Niall Mullarkey, at a cabaret in Coventry in 1986.)

There was a screening of the film at the Queen's Theatre, Burslem last month. (Trivia point 2: I interviewed Bill Hicks backstage at the Queen's Theatre in 1993.) There was a second screening a few days ago, and Williams is flogging self-produced DVDs - at the screenings and also standing around in car parks. I think you have to contact him through Facebook or something if you want one by post.

What's really great is that all the money raised from the screenings and DVDs goes to the Gentleshaw Wildlife Sanctuary. Look - baby kestrels...

And zombies on the streets of Stoke.