Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Warhouse is found, not missing!

Here's one I hadn't heard of before: Warhouse. And it looks squaddie-tastic! As we all know, all the best British horror films have squaddies in them. Check out the great design artwork by Chris Wildgoose.

Warhouse is described as a "film about a soldier who is repeating the same day over and over working towards becoming one of a chosen few to fight a final battle" and "Gladiator meets Groundhog Day" although to me it sounds more like TrashHouse meets Deathwatch. It stars Joseph Morgan (The Vampire Diaries), Matt Ryan (Blood Monkey!) and William Troughton.

In the role of Royal Marine, A.J. Budd, Joseph Morgan stars in this brutal psychological and supernatural thriller, in which he finds himself trapped in the Warhouse. Imprisoned, he is forced to fight for his life against grotesque, inhuman opponents. He must kill every day or die himself. His one glimmer of hope comes in the form of a diary, left by a former occupant of the house, WWI Lieutenant Edward Sterling, played by Matt Ryan.

This is being described by some sites as Luke Massey's debut feature but here at British Horror Revival we know it's actually his third. As a teenager he made two amateur feature films: violent rape revenge thriller The Found Not Missing and one of several dozen zombie films called Within the Woods. I don't know whether either of those got finished.

Warhouse is his first proper movie, with real actors and everything, and looks great. It has been produced and co-written by Benjamin Read whose day-job is publishing reprints of 19th century illustrated children's books!

Warhouse on Facebook

Image let 'Don't Let Him In' out

Via Dread Central comes news that Image will release Kelly Smith's Don't Let Him In on US DVD on 3rd January. Not to be confused with Hammer's Let Me In, this is an indie horror flick which was screened at this year's Festival of Fantastic Films, but only after I had left so I haven't seen it, though I have heard good things.

It was released in the Netherlands in August and in France (cover-mounted on a magazine!) in September. No news of a UK release yet.


What if you invited a serial killer on holiday by mistake?

Handsome, charming and arrogant, Tristan has picked up Mandy on a one-night stand. The love-struck girl invites him to a rural getaway with her brother Calvin and his girlfriend Paige, an emergency room nurse.

But Tristan has secrets. He needs to get out of the city. And suspicions grow when a local police officer warns the group that a sadistic serial killer is plaguing the area.

Dubbed the Tree Surgeon, this brutal psychopath ritualistically slaughters his victims, hanging their severed body parts in the trees as unholy offerings.

That night a delirious, half-dead stranger arrives, his stomach slashed open. Paige saves his life – but is Shawn the innocent hitchhiker he claims?

Doubts begin to breed. Then the killings begin, and suspicion spirals into paranoia, climaxing in a shocking revelation and a punishing battle for survival as the Tree Surgeon drags his final traumatized victim into his lair…

DON’T LET HIM IN is a nerve-bludgeoning horror thriller which combines slow-burning suspense with visceral, graphic shock.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Film 57: Snuff Movie

Dear God, I have to sit through some crap in the name of research. It's from the guy who made Candyman, surely it should be at least okay.

It's not. It fails utterly. It tries to be clever meta-fiction about the levels of reality involved when a Polanski-clone director recreates his wife's murder in his hidden-camera-filled house with unwitting, improv-ing actors. It ends up just being a huge mess that doesn't make a lick of sense. What should have been a clever, intricate narrative just flaps around helplessly like a stranded porpoise.

In Rose's defence (and he appears to have never spoken about the project), it looks very much like a film that has been ruined by producer interference, with lots of random scary bits bolted on, never mind whether they make any sense or not.

The Reverend trailer

I really can't wait to see Neil Jones' The Reverend (I missed a preview at the British Horror Film Festival but hope to get my paws on a screener soon). The cast list alone is to die for: the wonderful Emily Booth (Doghouse, Evil Aliens), the extraordinary Giovanni Lombardo Radice (A Day of Violence), the brilliant Mads Koudal (Footsteps), the incomparable Doug Bradley and the one and only Rutger Hauer (not to mention Tamer Hassan, Simon Phillips, Stuart Brennan, Dominic Burns...). Oh, and Shane Richie! In British Horror Revival terms, that's an all-star cast list.


Here's the trailer:

Savini returns to British horror in Silent Night of the Living Dead

Shock Till You Drop reports that FX legend and occasional actor Tom Savini has been cast in Silent Night of the Living Dead, the Christmas zombie film currently being developed by director Paul Davis (who made American Werewolf docu Beware the Moon) and Severance writer James Moran. Legendary poster artist Graham Humphreys has done this teaser poster for the project.

Savini's previous acting gig in this country was Johannes Roberts' Forest of the Damned which is not one of his greatest hits. STYD also reports that AJ Bowen (House of the Devil, Hatchett II) has signed up for Davis' film.

Another STYD report from a couple of weeks ago says that FX bloke Dave Elsey will be handling prosthetics. Elsey is also attached to something called Zombie Carnage and, if your stomach can take it, you can see that project's Elsey-designed zombie version of Craig Charles.

A curious final paragraph says:

"Next year will also see the release of Davis' FAB Press book 666 Horror Movies to Die For: The Essential Guide To Screen Terror. He'll also be seen as the monster in The Otherside, starring Nick Moran (Lock Stock & Two Smoking Barrels), hitting the festival circuit in 2012."

I can't find any other reference anywhere to The Otherside (or a monster film with Nick Moran) and have no idea what that is.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Film 56: Devil's Harvest

The few reviews of this film on the web assume that it was produced in 2003/04 but it's actually much older than that.

Back in 1998 I visited a dubbing studio in Shepperton to report for SFX on the completely new dialogue track which was being recorded for the UK theatrical release of Shusuke Kaneko's Gamera: Guardian of the Universe. While I was there, the young chap in charge showed me footage from a supernatural horror film which he had made with Brian Blessed and Julie T Wallace.

Seven years later, Devil's Harvest suddenly and inexplicably emerged on DVD on both sides of the Atlantic. The UK distributor retitled it Don't Go Into the Attic. The sleeve image bears no relation whatsoever to the film, which is something to do with the resurrection of the sea-god Dagon. Or something. Good characterisation and nice locations (Devon and Somerset, pretending to be Cornwall) doesn't make up, sadly, for an incomprehensible plot.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Third Contact - philosophical sci-fi/horror feature

Third Contact, which had a preview screening on 3rd November, has been described as "an atmospheric psychological thriller exploring madness and depression and achieving a fresh take on the topical issue of euthanasia." It has been shot mostly in black and white and is pretty much a one-man effort by Simon Horrocks who wrote a short thriller in 2005 called Callback.

The cast includes Simeon Willis who was in StagKnight and the excellent zombie feature The Invisible Atomic Monsters from Mars.

Dr David Wright's emotional torment now prevents him from functioning as a therapist. The woman he has loved has vanished from his life 'forever'. Rene Maurer, one of his regular patients, has died - an apparent suicide. Rene's sister, Erika, travelling to London to sort out his things, discovers something curious - his apartment is almost empty. A cup, a spoon, a fork, a knife, frames without pictures, torn photos... One more curiousity - a list of memories. Four dated descriptions of moments in Rene's life.

Another patient dies. Another list of memories. There's something strange going on. Something sinister behind these 'suicides'...

Here's the trailer and a three-minute short explaining the concept of 'quantum suicide'. It all looks fascinating.


Film 55: Trauma (dir. Marc Evans)

I watched Trauma, Marc Evans' disappointing follow-up to My Little Eye, last night and wrote it up today. It's a bit of a mess really (the film, not my write-up!) and Evans seemed to think that just having lots of hallucinatory stuff would disguise the clichéed and predictable story by first-time screenwriter Richard Smith.

Colin Firth and Mena Suvari are both monumentally miscast, the set design is counter-productively over-the-top, the obvious plot becomes quite extraordinarily stupid in the final act and the whole thing seems a wasted opportunity to be honest.

It's not a terrible film but it's got nothing new or interesting to say about anything. I'm rather glad to have got it out of the way. Don't think I'll be troubling that disc again.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Ian McCulloch's lost British zombie film

How many zombie films has Ian McCulloch appeared in? If you said two - Zombie Flesh Eaters and Zombie Holocaust - you’re close. In fact he was in a British zombie short called Dead Centre: Architecture and Apocalypse. Look - here he is!

The film was shot in February/March 2005 and was supposedly going to be screened at that August’s Frightfest but the blog at www.zombiecentral.blogspot.com stopped in March 2005, threatened to resurface in April 2006 - and the rest was silence.

I can’t even find out who made this. The website contributors are identified only as Buddydisco, Tony o’the Gosh and K - this last appears to be Seattle bookseller Kristofor Minta!

Here’s a BBC website report on the filming, and here are photos of two other guest stars: genre writers Jack Sargent (top) and Jay Slater.

Did this ever get finished?

Bigger and Badder - werewolf short in development

This is a proposed short film being developed by some folks in Birmingham. Writer-director Richard Wantuch has designed a pretty groovy looking werewolf.

Here's their Crowdfunder page with a video pitch.

It's got to be better than the last werewolf film made in Birmingham, if only because I'm not in it.

Kill List DVD, for those who liked it

The over-rated, over-hyped Kill List is out on UK DVD and Blu-Ray on 26th December. I know some people think it's a great movie. Personally I think it's the Emperor's new clothes.

I actually really enjoyed Kill List right up to the end when it suddenly stopped - the laziest, dumbest cop-out of a non-ending since The Blair Witch Project. It's clear that Ben Wheatley didn't bother to work out an ending to his story but correctly surmised that there are plenty of people who will assume that something they don't understand must be really clever.

I'm told the film greatly improves on a second viewing. Call me fussy but I'm not in the habit of rewatching films that I didn't like the first time.

Extras: Commentary with Director Ben Wheatley and Writer Amy Jump / Commentary with Actors Neil Maskell, MyAnna Buring and Michael Smiley / Audio Description / Making Of Kill List / Interview with Ben Wheatley / Interview with Neil Maskell and MyAnna Buring / Interview with Claire Jones and Andrew Starke / Trailer

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Film 54: Spring Heeled Jack

I only came across this last night (bumping my target up to 104 films) and decided to get it out of the way. It sees the legendary Victorian character somehow resurfacing in the present day where he terrorises a group of teens.

Actually looks better than it sounds, judging by the trailer. Written, produced and directed by 17-year-old twins in 2005, self-released on DVD in 2007, with a BBFC certificate.

Who knew this even existed?

Film 53: Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

Another quick fix and possibly the shortest entry in the book. Sure, it's borderline - but it has a transmogrifying man-beast, mind-transferrance, a climactic hmage to King Kong, stylistic nods to Hammer and themes around the British class system and social standing.

That's a British horror film in my book (even if the money was American). So that's where it goes - in my book.

The Rise of Jengo

Something called The Rise of Jengo is now available to buy from the film-maker's website for £9.99 ("with free shipping"). Apparently this is an online offer ahead of the "official release date for the high street" which is 17th December. However, it's not clear which part of the High Street will sell it as the film hasn't been certificated.

The Rise of Jengo has been written, directed and produced by Joe Wheeler who also stars (as two characters) and gets camera, editing and casting credits too, although presumably somebody else held the camera while he was acting.

Although it's not mentioned on the site, Wheeler has actually made this film before as The Evil Outside Your Window. I don't know whether The Rise of Jengo is a remake, a re-edit or just a retitling of the previous film, or it may even be a sequel. There's a plot synopsis for Evil which presumably also applies to Jengo:

This film is about a young man who starts getting bad nightmares about an evil spirit called Jengo whom used to haunt him as a child. These nightmares begin to get worse and worse and Jengo feeds off the fear he creates in this young man which helps manifest Jengo into the land of the living to terrorize and even kill!

Evil was self-released in October last year and is available to buy online for $5.99. The DVD sleeve has a '15' certificate logo but it's not listed on the BBFC site. There is a one-off cinema screening of Jengo planned for 12th December in London although the venue hasn't yet been announced.

I can't judge whether these films are any good from the trailers, which seem to consist entirely of blood and hallucinatory camera-work. But all credit to Joe Wheeler. He has made two feature-length films and that's an achievement for a young man working outside of the indie film industry.


Finally, here's the blurb from the back of the Jengo sleeve, verbatim (I hope the film's better than this)...

A nightmarish fright fest when the beast comes back home closer than you can ever think!

He is the evil from your nightmares, waiting, hunting, blood thirsty for new prey to haunt. He is far worse than any nightmare!

He is a nightmare!
He is THE nightmare!
and the scary thing is....

This film is a horrorfest filled with disturbing cannabilism like elements, full of sickly twisted torturous events! and is truelly mentally disturbing and shocking!
Its the stuff of nightmares...
Your Nightmares!!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Film 52: The Veil

I wanted a quick fix to restore my morale by getting my tally back above the 50% mark so I've knocked out a few paragraphs about this obscure zero-budget zombie feature which was made by brothers John and Richard Chance and released by Brain Damage in 2008.

It's in black and white, it's two and a half hours long and the main characters spend almost the entire film wearing gas masks....

Monday, 21 November 2011

Film 51: TrashHouse

Pat Higgins (Mr ZCarsTheme himself) is a great guy and his films have steadily improved. I think The Devil's Music is magnificent and I can't wait to see the Higgins-scripted Strippers vs Werewolves.

But the downside of this is that I don't particularly rate his debut feature TrashHouse. It tries too hard to do too much with too little and ends up not working. I also must admit that, until browsing the web for background info for tonight's bit of writing, I had never thought of the film as a 'horror comedy'.

There's not a lot to say on the film but it's the starting point of an interesting and productive career.

Who is Steven M Smith?

The British indie film industry comes in two parts. There are the films which share cast and crew and seem to be part of a larger whole, and there are the mavericks, iconoclasts, call ‘em what you will, who plough away on their own.

Despite all the research I’ve done I had never heard of Steven M Smith or his films until last night when I came across the information that his ghost drama Time of Her Life had been released on US DVD in 2007. That’s the footnote to the Evil Aliens post; this is the film that took my total to 103.

Apart from a couple of actors who were in unfunny vampire comedy Asylum Night, most of the rest of the cast and crew seem to be Smith’s stock company. His somewhat confusing website for Greenway Entertainment Ltd has info on a bunch of other shorts and features at various stages of creation. He seems to be currently trying to raise funds to finish post on a feature called Haunted and he is also shooting a set of six shorts which I think he’s planning to release en masse on a single DVD.

Time of Her Life was trade-screened at Cannes in 2005 and also received a BBFC certificate that year. According to the website, a British DVD of the ‘Director’s Cut' was either released a year ago on 25 November 2010 or will be released this Friday, 25 November 2011.

Anyway, good luck to Smith as he ploughs his own furrow. I’ll add a couple of paragraphs about Time of Her Life to the book and watch out for news on Haunted.

Film 50: Evil Aliens

In a busy evening, I have found time to complete the section on Jake West's second picture. I'll admit that Jake's been a mate since the days of Razor Blade Smile but that doesn't affect my genuine enjoyment of Evil Aliens.

Ironically, I was never able to make the shoot because at the time I was unemployed with a baby on the way and couldn't even justify the train fare to Cambridge.

Nevertheless I have an embarrassment of riches on this film in terms of interviews: Jenny Evans, Emily Booth, Tim Dennison, Neil Jenkins, Richard Wells, Tris Versluis and a long chat with Jake himself. Keeping it all below 2,000 words (my absolute upper limit for any film) was the tricky bit.

Update: Oh Jesus, here's another one with a US release date of 2007! That's 103 films so 53 more to do by Easter. And on Friday I thought I was halfway there...

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Film 49: Blood

Well, the bad news is that I miscalculated or miscounted or something and whereas I thought I had 96 films to cover in the book, the current list actually stands at 101. So I'm still not quite halfway there!

The good news is that I've just written up a section on Charly Cantor's Blood, one of the great forgotten titles of the British Horror Revival. Apart from a review in Fangoria virtually nothing has been written about this film so I was particularly pleased to find, in the MJS archives, the dictaphone tape from my set visit in 1999.

My unpublished interviews with Cantor (who died in 2002, two years before the film's eventual release) and other cast and crew have provided a unique insight into the film's development and production which I couldn't have found anywhere else.

Update: I've just discovered another title given a US release in 2007 so we're up to 102 now. I feel like I'm going backwards!

Zombie King shoot starts

Principal photography starts today on The Zombie King, the debut feature from Northern Girl Productions (Rebbecca-Clare Evans and Jennifer Chippendale). Directed by first-timer Aidan Belizaire, the script is by the producers and actor George McCluskey (who is in the film and previously played the main villain in transvestite superhero comedy Catalina: A New Kind of Superhero).

The cast is led by Corey Feldman(!) and Edward Furlong(!) with Sebastian Street (Stag Night of the Dead, Airborne), Samuel Barnett (a regular on Andrew Marshall's demon-hunting TV series Strange), Jon Campling (Penetration Angst) and popular 'heavy' Forbes KB (A Day of Violence, Kung Fu Flid), plus Nathan Head (The Deadly Game, Myth) and Mike Burnie (When the Lights Went Out).

Neil Jones (The Reverend) executive produces and the make-up effects are being overseen by Mike Peel (Evil Aliens, The Scar Crow, Zombie Diaries 2).


Samuel Peters once an ordinary man, dabbles within the laws of voodoo to bring his wife back from the grave, he soon encounters the God of malevolence ‘Kalfu’, where he makes a pact with him to destroy the underworld and bring chaos to earth; in return he will become ‘The Zombie King’ and walk the earth for eternity with his belated wife.

Seven days before the rise of the Dark Moon, Peters calls upon Kalfu to raise the dead of the recently departed, where their souls must be held on earth for seven days.

With the ever growing horde of zombies, they begin to completely wipe out a countryside town. Once the Government get wind of what is going on, they set a perimeter around the town area and employ a shoot on sight policy.

Trapped within the town, the locals and unlikely bunch of misfits fight for their lives, and the remaining humans soon realise that they have to unite in order to survive.

Seeking sanctuary in a local church, they discover a bizarre disturbed priest where he gives them the knowledge of ‘The Zombie King’.

Can our hero’s unravel the clues in time and survive or will The Zombie King and his horde of zombies rise on the night of the dark moon?

Saturday, 19 November 2011

New US trailer for Stormhouse

This is the new trailer for Dan Turner's Stormhouse which Lion's Gate has cut together, full of a gravelly voiced man reading captions. The film was first shown at the Edinburgh Film Festival in June and will be released on US DVD/VOD on 7th February 2012. A UK release is apparently in the works.

Lethal Dose 50%

I am at the exact halfway point in the book, which will feature 96 British horror films released between 1998 and 2008. No doubt I shall muse at a later date on what I consider a British horror film, a British horror film and indeed a British horror film, not to mention the thorny problems of dates. It is also entirely possible that between now and Easter I will discover a previously unidentified title or change my mind about the in/exclusion of a particular film. But for now, there are 96 films on my list and I have so far written about 48 of them.

Actually only 95 were released in that 11-year period as the first film in the book is Darklands, which was released in 1996. We can think of this as a precursor to the British Horror Revival (BHR) or a statistical outlier or somesuch.

Anyway, for the curious, here are the four dozen films included in the manuscript to date. I will post here as I add each of the remaining movies.

Alone, The Asylum, Asylum Night, The Bunker, Cold and Dark, Cradle of Fear, Daddy’s Girl, Darkhunters, Darklands, Dead Creatures, Dead Man’s Shoes, Deathwatch, The Devil’s Chair, The Devil’s Tattoo, Dog Soldiers, Dominator, Dr Sleep, The Eliminator, The Evolved, Fall of Louse of Usher, Forest of the Damned, Freak Out, The Gathering, Hellbreeder, The Hole, I Zombie, The Last Horror Movie, LD50, Lighthouse, London Voodoo, Long Time Dead, My Little Eye, Night Junkies, Nine Lives, Octane, Parasite, Penetration Angst, Project Assassin, Razor Blade Smile, Revelation, Sacred Flesh, Sanitarium, Sentinels of Darkness, Shaun of the Dead, Urban Ghost Story, The Witches Hammer, The 13th Sign, 28 Days Later 

Start of a new blog

I have created this new blog to serve two purposes. One is to document the vast number of British horror films currently being produced and released. In terms of sheer volume, the boom in indie horror production has been rising steadily since the start of the century and shows no sign of stopping, yet most people are unaware of the bigger picture.

I will pull together whatever news I find - from other sites, or direct from the film-makers in my address book - on production and release of current and recent British horror films.

The second purpose, unashamedly, is to generate interest in my forthcoming book, The British Horror Revival 1998-2008 which is scheduled for publication by Hemlock Books in the second half of 2012. I will be documenting the development of the book, which is currently half-written and due for delivery at Easter.