Sunday, 23 July 2017

The end of this website

As explained in more detail over on my main site, I am now ending both of these blogs in order to concentrate on books and scripts.

This site will stay live but won't be added to.

I will continue my British Horror Revival Twitter account so please follow @BritHorrorRev if you don't already do so.

A massive catalogue of all 21st century UK horror films is among the books I will be working on.

Thank you to everyone who has read this blog, commented or provided info/links.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

40 unreleased British horror films

As far as I know, every one of these got as far as a screening. It might have been at a festival, or a local premiere, or just a cast and crew, but these were all completed enough to show to someone. On the other hand, as far as I know, none of these have actually had a legitimate release, whether theatrical, DVD or VOD. Please contact me if you know otherwise.

Some of these are still playing the festival circuit and/or have a distribution deal but no confirmed release details. Others have simply disappeared into limbo, but history tells us that films can suddenly reappear many years after they were last spotted. A second batch of 40 more unreleased British horror films will follow shortly.

Apocalypse

Director: Tony Jopia. Screened January 2017. Zombie epic with segments filmed in different countries. Last Facebook update May 2017

Bacchanalia aka The Winedancers

Director: Gary Meyer. Screened January 2016 (Horror-on-Sea). “What seems like an innocent wine tasting weekend turns into a bizarre, wicked, sensually overheated debauchery, culminating in a murderous grand finale evening and the fateful morning after.” Last Facebook update January 2017

The Baylock Residence

Director: Anthony M Winson. Screened April 2017. Woman inherits spooky house from her late sister. Remake of Winson’s 2014 feature The Haunting of Baylock Residence. Last Facebook update May 2017

Beast

Director: Chris Jupp. Screened October 2009. Escaped patient taken on as handyman at country club serving unusual meat. Based on original script for Michael J Murphy’s Skare. Last Facebook update March 2016

The Bench

Director: Sean Wilkie. Screened March 2015. “Tense and emotional horror in the style of the slasher movies of the 70's and 80's with a modern twist and an eclectic young cast of Scottish talent, yet to be discovered.” Last Facebook update March 2015.

Beneath Still Water

Director: Philip Kempson. Screened October 2016. “A group of young adults are out on the moor for a weekend of climbing, canoeing and walking etc. During their stay, they encountered strange events and strange stories from the local community about a mermaid who lures men to their deaths in Blake Mere pool.” Last Facebook update June 2017

Bicycle Day aka Bad Trip

Director: Damian Morter. Screened October 2011. A camping trip for four mates descends into horror when their drinks are spiked with LSD. Unlikely to be released as Morter is developing a remake. Read my review.

Black Lightning Dream

Director: Nici/Niki/Nicky Preston. Screened September 2014. A couple are visited by ghosts after drinking a strange type of moonshine.

Bloodlines

Director: Geoff Cockwill. Screened August 2003. “A newly-made young vampire tries to find his place in the world of the undead.”

Cain Hill

Director: Gene Fallaize. Screened April 2017 “A group of documentary filmmakers are filming a TV special about the events which occurred at the famous and mysterious abandoned Cain Hill asylum many years earlier. The group soon learn that one of the inmates never left Cain Hill at all.” Last Facebook update May 2017

C.A.M.

Directors: Steve Du Melo, Larry Downing. Screened January 2014. “A rare parasite has contaminated a local meat processing plant and tactical police are sent in, but all is not what it appears.”

Caught

Director: Jamie Patterson. Screened April 2017 (Fantasporto). “A journalist couple invite a man and woman into their idyllic village home, but what begins with an informal interview descends into a nightmarish fight for survival. ”

Christmas Hear Kids

Director: Chris Purnell. Screened September 2014. “A taxi driver finds out the woman in the back of his cab is out for revenge against the man that abused her as a child: him.”

Crucible of the Vampire

Director: Iain Ross-McNamee. Screened January 2017. “Gothic vampire thriller set in present day Shropshire. Taking place in a large country house, it draws influences from classic British horror from the 1950’s and 1960's alongside modern Korean and Japanese psychological horror.” Last Twitter update June 2017

Cute Little Buggers

Director: Stu Jopia. Screened January 2017. “Comedy horror b-movie creature feature in the style of 80's classics like Critters, Ghoulies and Grabbers.” Last Facebook update May 2017

The Dark Mile

Director: Gary Love. Screened June 2017 “When London couple Louise and Clare book a boat trip to recover from personal tragedy, their trip of a lifetime through the Scottish Highlands soon descends into a hellish ordeal as they delve further into the wilds.”

Dead Perfect

Director: Jason Wilcox. Screened January 2017 (Horror-on-Sea) “During a break in the country, a young couple are haunted by the ghosts of their former partners.”

Deadly Waters aka Dark Water

Directors: Tyler James, Catherine Carpenter. Screened March 2015. “A man encounters a deadly siren on a beach who will stop at nothing to feed.” Last Facebook update September 2015

The Devil’s Interval

Directors: Anthony & Patrick Turner. Screened December 2011. “Late one night a Priest picks up a mysterious hitchhiker. On arrival in his local village the anonymous stranger disappears into the night. He has left behind a scroll of music. Intrigued by its mystery, the priest is compelled to play the music. He plays like a man possessed and upon hitting the last note a gateway is opened and the once small and quiet village is changed forever.” Last Facebook update January 2012

Drowning the Dead

Director: Jason Wilcox. Screened September 2011. “A young woman who has just broken up with her boyfriend is invited to stay at a chance acquaintance's villa. But someone else living there has got other ideas for her...”

The Dungeon Moor Killings

Director: Jim Hickey. Screened June 2008. “Adam and Mark are determined to find evidence of the existence of big cats that have been reported over the years in remote areas of South West Scotland. As they set off across Dungeon Moor, it becomes clear that their lives are endangered by something more than roaming big cats.”

Dwellings Close

Director: Jorge Cuaik. Screened October 2013 (South Texas Underground Film Festival). “Ken an estate agent from London gets mysteriously locked in one of his company's properties at number eight Dwellings Close. Inside he meets Gem, an eccentric young woman who claims to be the property's new tenant, together they will try to find a way out.” Last Facebook post March 2015 (commenting on the last time I did a list like this!)

Dying Light

Director: David Newbigging. Screened May 2013. “When Eddie Bowen hooks up with the beautiful and sexually aggressive Suze Phillips he thinks his luck’s in. But it’s a trap! Suze imprisons them both within a specially-prepared room and before Eddie can react he’s drugged and blacks out. When he wakes he finds a symbol carved into his chest and Suze lying unconscious on the floor with a dagger in hand.” Last Facebook update June 2013

Eva’s Diamond

Director: Ice Neal. Screened February 2013. “When Miss Phillips’ devoted religious teenage son is accused of murdering an expert in the occult and sent to prison, her quest to prove his innocence leads her into a world of black magic and time traveling spirits.” Last Facebook post August 2016.

Every Picture

Director: Tobias Tobbell. Screened February and May 2005. Couple are locked in a haunted school where a teacher once committed suicide.

Evil Bread

Director: Andy Ward. Screened January 2014 (Horror-on-Sea). Comedy about two horror-obsessed film students who try to make a non-horror film bur awake an ancient evil. Last Facebook update June 2017

First Bite aka First Bite is the Deepest

Director: Eileen Daly. Screened February 2016. A ghost hunting team go to rid the castle of Vampires. Last Facebook update February 2016.

The Forewarning

Director: Andy Robinson. Screened November 2011. “A heart transplant recipient begins to experience a series of life-threatening visions. He comes to believe that they have something to do with the new heart beating inside him - and that his survival depends on completing the unfinished business of his donor.” Last Facebook update March 2014.

Fox Trap

Director: Jamie Weston. Screened October 2016. “After a terrible accident leaves a young girl disabled, five years later, the group responsible are invited to a remote manor house in the countryside for a class reunion. Little do they know, they are being targeted by a masked maniac hell bent on revenge.” A February 2017 UK DVD was cancelled. Now likely to appear under another title. Last Facebook update June 2017.

Fractured

Director: Jamie Patterson. Screened October 2016. “When a tyre blows on the way to a romantic countryside getaway, Rebecca and Michael sense someone is watching. The only people they encountered along the way were friendly strangers Freyr and Alva who gave them a lift. But their holiday home becomes a terrifying prison as they are tortured by something or someone outside.”

The Gatehouse

Director: Martin Gooch. Screened October 2016 (Raindance). “A struggling writer lives with his 10yr old daughter in an old Gatehouse on the edge of an ancient wood. A new commission coincides with the discovery of a strange object buried in the woods. What follows is a dangerous battle to save themselves and future generations from an ancient force from a forgotten world.” Last Facebook update May 2016.

The Girl with Two Masks

Director: Sam Casserly. Screened April 2015. Rep from pub chain sent to local boozer finds unquiet spirit of dead witch. Last Facebook update July 2016. Read my review.

God’s Acre

Director: JP Davidson. Screened September 2015. “Malcolm lost everything to the recession. To pay off his debts he needs to renovate and sell his last house fast but a dark secret lies entombed within its walls.” Last Facebook update May 2016

Gozo

Director: Miranda Bowen. Screened September 2016. “Lucille and Joe have a nice car, a steady income, a beautiful farmhouse with breathtaking views and a swimming pool. They seem to have it all. But when a young tourist goes missing on the island, Joe's disquieted conscience begins to get the better of him. As the buried horrors of Lucille and Joe's past resurface, the cracks begin to show in their homespun paradise.” Last Facebook update November 2016.

Hollywood Betrayed

Director: Eileen Daly. Screened February 2016. “Deep down in Normsville suburbia, England, lays a horrible secrets. Only one man alone knows what is going on in the hotel of horrors and has invited the ghost busting team to help rid the place of evil.” Last Facebook update February 2016.

House of Salem

Director: James Crow. Screened August 2016 (Frightfest). “A group of kidnappers become a child’s unlikely protectors, after finding out they have unwittingly been set up to take part in a deadly game of human sacrifice.” Last Facebook update June 2017.

The House of Screaming Death

Directors: Troy Dennison, Rebecca Harris-Smith, David Hastings, Alex Bourne, Kaush Patel. Screened June 2017. Gothic anthology. Last Facebook update June 2017

I am Cursed

Director: Shiraz Khan. Screened June 2014. An ambitious reporter in a news office befriends a shy colleague with a deadly, supernatural secret. Last Facebook update September 2016

In Abigail’s Place

Director: Steven Hines. Screened July 2015. “The disturbing story of a young girl, Sarah, recovering from the untimely and mysterious death of her best friend by attending a school trip to a rural house. It is there that she uncovers truths that should have been kept hidden.” Last Facebook update August 2015.

In Extremis

Director: Steve Stone. Screened June 2017. “A business executive returns home to his family for the weekend. Within hours a cataclysmic ‘event’ takes place and the world they inhabit becomes deserted and toxic. Slowly he begins to question the nature of this ‘event’; is it really out there or has it come from within?”

Stay tuned for Part 2...

Friday, 30 June 2017

11 British horror features at Frightfest 2017

As usual, this year's Frighfest (24th-28th August) has a good selection of British films in the line-up:

Redwood (d.Tom Paton)
After some bad news back at home, musician Josh and his girlfriend Beth head out to a secluded national park in search of some clarity on the situation they’ll face when they return. But the couple get more than they bargained for when they ignore the advice of Park Rangers and venture off the trail, coming face to face with The Redwood’s legendary wildlife. REDWOOD brings a fresh spin to a well-worn mythology to create an edge of your seat horror movie that will shred your nerves and have you thinking twice about going camping again.

Freehold (d.Dominic Bridges)
The feature debut from acclaimed commercials director Dom Bridges and written by Rae Brunton (the OUPOST franchise) is a dark urban morality tale with an underlying streak of jet black comedy. Hussein, a wide-boy estate agent, doesn't realise he's sharing his apartment with a forgotten stranger, a master of concealment... until his malicious campaign of deranged sweet revenge starts to really hit home. A roof above our heads is a basic human need so why are we all fighting each other over it? A genre riff on home invasion chillers and a searing comment on the cut-throat housing market.

Attack of the Adult Babies (d.Dominic Brunt)
From Dominic Brunt, director of BEFORE DAWN and BAIT, a satirical and sexy shocker unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. A home invasion forces two teenagers to break into a remote country manor and steal Top Secret documents. Little do they know the stately pile is also the venue where a group of high-powered middle-aged men go to take refuge from the stresses of daily life by dressing in nappies and indulging their every perverse nursery whim. Or that this grotesque assembly intends to refuel the world’s economy by very sinister, sick and monstrous means.  Time for a change…

Double Date (d.Benjamin Barfoot)
Meet innocent Jim, terrified of girls and on a reluctant quest to prove his manhood the night before he turns 30. He and his cocky friend Alex think they’ve hit the jackpot when they meet the beautiful sisters Kitty and Lulu, who seem up for anything on a wild party-fuelled night. They also have an incredible car. But little do they know that the feisty femmes fatales have their own shocking agenda in mind and have every intention of making Jim lose much more than just his virginity… Getting laid has never been so bloody difficult.

Fanged Up (d.Christian James)
Orange is the new Dracula. Daniel O’Reilly, aka controversial comedy character Dapper Laughs, makes his feature film debut in a vampire comedy destined to make everyone Carry On Screaming. He plays a wrongfully arrested lovable rogue thrown into a high-security prison for the weekend when his blood group is revealed to be very rare. But once incarcerated in this horror penitentiary, there’s no way out as the warden is a top-level bloodsucker, the guards are his pet zombies and the inmates are their unwilling victims. Get ready for hi-jinks in clink, slammer shivers, big house laughs and jail house shocks.

Mountain Fever (d. Hendrik Faller)
Inspired by the action cinema of James Cameron and the minimalism of Nicolas Winding Refn, a fatal flu virus devastates Europe in an ice-cold thriller examining human behaviour in a time of crisis. City boy Jack takes refuge in the Alps but he’s ill-equipped to survive the harsh winter. Things only get worse when renegade Kara breaks into his house and commandeers his dwindling food supplies. His inept plan to get rid of her disintegrates when outsiders also invade, turning his captor into his only ally.  As a siege ensues Jack must choose a side if he hopes to survive.

Boots on the Ground (d.Louis Melville)
Afghanistan October 2014. Five British soldiers, trying to stay alive on the last night of the Afghan War, face not only the Taliban, but also supernatural powers more terrifying than anything they've encountered before. As the night unfolds and their mission is finally explained to them, they find themselves engulfed in a labyrinthine nightmare and time-shift forces seemingly from another realm and century. One of the most innovative and challenging British movies of the year, shot with 360 degree style immersion techniques using head-cams, director Louis Melville’s twisting and turning squaddie shocker is a genre ground breaker. [I ran the first ever images from this film exactly one year ago - MJS]

Where the Skin Lies (d.Michael Boucherie)
Six friends, bound together by a traumatic experience, travel up to the Scottish Lowlands for a relaxing reunion weekend. Soon a number of mysterious and horrifying events start to expose the cracks in their relationships. One by one they discover, through their tattoos, that trust runs but skin-deep and as day turns into night, not everyone will survive the ‘Game of Death’ they are forced to play.

Eat Locals (d.Jason Flemyng)
Acclaimed actor Jason Flemying (DEEP RISING, HANNA, SOLOMON KANE, X-MEN: FIRST CLASS), makes his directorial debut with a bloodsucker chiller featuring the cream of British talent. In a quiet countryside farmhouse, Britain's vampires gather together for their once-every-fifty-years meeting. Others will be joining them too; Sebastian Crockett, an unwitting Essex boy who thinks he's on a promise with sexy cougar Vanessa; and a detachment of Special Forces vampire killers who have bitten off more than they can chew. This is certainly going to be a night to remember... and for some of them it will be their last.

Canaries (d.Peter Stray)
CANARIES pits a group of friends at a New Year's Eve bash in the Valleys, hosted by Steve Denis, London's 53rd-most-listened-to DJ, a returning local boy made good against an invasion task force of creepy time travelling aliens. In this darkly funny Welsh based Sci-fi horror comedy, the new year’s resolution on everyone's lips is to stay alive.

Accountable (d. Matthew Heaven)
Driven by a fantastic performance from headliner Oliver Towner, ACCOUNTABLE proves what can be achieved on a micro-budget with imagination, a great twisty script and a commitment to quality production values. Warren Matthews is an angry and directionless young man struggling to contain his formidable temper. But before long circumstances cause him to reluctantly enlist the services of a local psychiatrist to help him confront damaging past events fuelling his future angst. A score must be settled according to his fractured psyche, someone must be held accountable. Keep your eyes on director Matthew Heaven, he’s one to watch.

Monday, 26 June 2017

50 great British horror films since 2010

Every so often I see someone on Twitter bemoaning the lack of recent British horror films. If only they made more films like this one movie I like; or Why don’t the Brits make horror films anymore; or It’s been too long since there was a good British horror film. I have created this post so that in the future I can provide a service to these poor, benighted souls by pointing them to a list of titles.

Here we have 50 - 50! – British horror films released on DVD in the UK and/or USA since 2010, every one of which I would personally recommend. The ten marked with an asterisk are particularly superb. Not everyone will agree with me on all of these, but there’s enough here for anyone bemoaning the lack of recent good British horror films to find plenty they will enjoy. Some are scary, some are funny, some are dramatic, but all are worth your time and money.

Awaiting, The Awakening, Axed
Before Dawn, Berberian Sound Studio*, Black Death, Blackwood, Blood + Roses, Blooded, Book of the Dead, Bordello Death Tales, Burke and Hare, Byzantium*
Cage, The Captive (US: Armistice), The Chamber, Community, Cryptic
The Dead*, The Devil’s Music
Elfie Hopkins (US: Elfie Hopkins: Cannibal Hunter), Exam*, Exhibit A
F (US: The Expelled), The Falling*, The Fallow Field
Gangsters Guns and Zombies, The Girl with All the Gifts*
The Harsh Light of Day, Heartless, The Holding
Inbred
Little Deaths, Little Devil (US: Demon Baby)
The Other Side of the Door
Plan Z, P.O.V., Prevenge
Red Kingdom Rising, Resurrecting ‘The Street Walker’*
Sawney: Flesh of Man (US: Lord of Darkness), The Seasoning House*, Stalled*, Strigoi
Tony, Tower Block
Under the Shadow*, Unhappy Birthday (aka Amen Island)
Wasteland, White Settlers (US: The Bloodlands)

And there's plenty more where those came from! Please note that this list does not include:


I’ll update this list as more films pass my way, adding new ones and taking off others so there’s always 50.

You’re welcome.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Strong opening weekend for 47 Meters Down

Johannes Roberts' shark pic 47 Meters Down, which I make no apologies for constantly plugging, took $11.5 million in its opening weekend according to Box Office Mojo.

It was the third highest opener after Tupac biopic All Eyez on Me and, inevitably, Cars 3 (both of which are aimed at very different audiences) and the fifth highest grosser overall with Wonder Woman and The Mummy still performing predictably strongly.

Entertainment Studios Founder, Chairman and CEO, Byron Allen said: "We are very happy with our first wide release, 47 Meters Down. The movie is perfect for the summer, and an absolute crowd-pleaser as indicated by our outstanding per-screen average."

This is the biggest US opening weekend for a British film since Spectre in November 2015.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Johannes Roberts - a retrospective

With ten(-ish) features under his belt, Johannes Roberts can lay claim to being one of Britain’s busiest and most successful horror movie directors. This Friday, his shark film 47 Meters Down – starring Claire Holt, Mandy Moore and Matthew Modine – opens on 2,270 screens across the USA (having already taken nearly half a million dollars at the Italian box office). Here’s a round-up of how Jo got from microbudget indies to the (well-deserved) big time. (Dates are first English-language release.)

Sanitarium (2003)
Co-directed with James Eaves (Bane, The Witches Hammer) this microbudget tale of unethical drug trials and weird goings-on in a hospital was shot in 1999. I actually saw this in Manchester in 2000 in its original two-hour cut entitled Diagnosis. The released, retitled version was heavily re-edited, incorporating new footage starring (bizarrely) Uri Geller.

Hellbreeder (2004)
Another joint effort with Jim Eaves, this is a confusing, clown-filled tale of a woman hunting a serial child killer. The cast includes Dominique Pinon (Delicatessen) and West End star Darren Day. It’s a re-edit of an unreleased film called Alice which the IMDB confusingly lists as a separate production.

Darkhunters (2004)
In Jo’s first solo picture, Pinon is a dead teacher being hunted by two demonic private eyes, one of them played by Jeff Fahey. Special effects by Tristan Versluis and Tim Berry. Shot as The Chosen and the Damned. Ernest Riera, now Jo’s regular co-writer, first worked with him on this film, co-directing the Making Of.

Forest of the Damned (2005) – US title: Demonic
Young people travelling in a camper van get attacked by ‘fallen angels’ (naked women with fangs). This is my least favourite Johannes Roberts film, not because it’s any worse than the preceding three but because it’s generic and formulaic. Cameo by Tom Savini as a random nutter. Shot as The Forbidden Forest. Most notable for launching the careers of British horror regulars Eleanor James and Marysia Kay.

When Evil Calls (2006)
I think this is Jo’s least favourite of his creations. It started life as a series of clips on mobile phones, documenting the spread of a Monkey’s Paw-style curse in a school. The cast includes Jennifer Lim, Lois Winstone, Chris Barrie, Marysia Kay and Shaun Hutson (as a zombie). Sir Sean Pertwee filmed a series of linking monologues as a caretaker to string this into a feature, released on DVD in 2008.

F (2010) – US title: The Expelled
There’s a clear dividing line between Jo’s first four (or five) features which are (over-)ambitious, wild DTV B-movies and his later films which are much more controlled, slick and powerful theatrically released features. This dark, school-set hoodie horror has an embittered teacher (David Schofield) and his teenage daughter trapped by faceless, supernaturally athletic, murderous youths (played by parkour athletes). While the media was talking about “demonising young people”, Jo was taking the idea literally. Scary and gripping, this showed his talent and re-invigorated his career.
Roadkill (2011)
This American TV movie for SyFy is the one Johannes Roberts feature I haven’t seen (yet). Some kids get cursed by a gypsy and attacked by a giant bird, apparently.

Storage 24 (2012)
Noel Clarke wrote and starred in this enjoyable monster movie about a group of people trapped in a self-storage facility with an alien beastie that has escaped from a crashed military transport plane. Unpretentious sci-fi/horror fun.

The Other Side of the Door (2016)
Set and shot in India, this Monkey's Paw-influenced ghost story has a grieving American mother travel to a temple where she can be temporarily reunited with her drowned son. She is under strict instructions to talk to him through the door but not open it. Of course, she does and something evil comes through. Terrifically spooky, this was produced by Alexandre Aja (Switchblade Romance, Hills Have Eyes remake) and distributed by 20th Century Fox. It was released on 330 screens in the UK and 550 in the States.
47 Meters Down (2017)
And so we come to this brilliantly scary and gripping shark movie in which Ms Moore and Ms Holt are sisters on an unlicensed cage dive and Mr Modine is the skipper who hasn’t checked his chains recently. At one stage this was going to be released straight to DVD as In the Deep, but at the last moment that release was pulled and distributor Entertainment Studios decided this should be seen on the big screen, which it absolutely should.
Future projects
Johannes is currently directing the sequel to 2008 hit The Strangers. He is also developing Hearts, an adaptation of the main story in Stephen King’s collection Hearts in Atlantis, and The Plague in which an unstoppable disease sweeps the planet. Meanwhile Paul Hyett is attached to a Roberts/Riera script called The Pool (‘Cujo in a swimming pool’, apparently!).

I’ve known Jo Roberts for quite some time now. It’s been a pleasure to follow his career and it was an honour to publish the first review of 47 Meters Down last year. I hope it’s a huge success and that Jo continues to provide us with some of the very best British horror films around.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Almost here at last - Spidarlings

I first ran a teaser for Spidarlings way back in March 2012, since when it has been not only on my British Horror masterlist (in the Coming Soon section) but also on my unofficial Looking Forward To list.

Salem Kapsaski's long-awaited punk horror comedy musical finally gets a VOD release next month - courtesy of my dear old mate Lloyd Kaufman. A handful of British films have been distributed by Troma in the past, including Alien Blood, Dark Nature and The Evolved Part 1. But Spidarlings looks easily the most Tromatic and is a perfect fit for Uncle Lloyd's venerable corporation.

Here's the press release:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
  
New York, N.Y., June 3, 2017 - Greetings from Tromaville!

Troma Entertainment, the longest running truly independent film company in American history, is proud to announce the acquisition of Salem Kapsaski's punk rock musical Spidarlings, World Premiere on Troma Now July 1st, it was announced today by Lloyd Kaufman, President of Troma Entertainment and creator of The Toxic Avenger.

Poverty stricken lovers Eden and Matilda have enough trouble just getting through the days...Their Landlord is trying to terrorize them and strange things seem to be going on at "Juicy Girls", the place where Matilda works...but when Eden buys a pet spider the real troubles start.

While creating Spidarlings, Director Salem Kapsaski drew inspiration from his own real life experiences with financial struggles, a ruthless landlord, and relentless threats to his family from an unstable individual. These real life experiences mixed with influences from John Waters, I Love Lucy, Lloyd Kaufman, Peanuts cartoons and an amazing musical score by Jeff Kristian are what makes Spidarlings a totally original, remarkable independent film.

Spidarlings will premiere on Troma Now, Troma Entertainment's exclusive content streaming service, July 1st!

Spidarlings stars Sophia Disgrace (whose numerous BHR credits include David VG Davies' Monitor and Animal Soup plus Three's a Shroud (also for DVGD), The Shadow of Death, Paul TT Easter's Thumb N It and the as yet unreleased Rock Band vs Vampires); model/actress/painter Rahel Kapsaski  (sister of director Salem); Lee Mark Jones aka Gypsy Lee Pistolero (Theatre of Fear, Bella in the Wych Elm and currently-in-post Werewolves of the Third Reich); former Jawa Rusty Goffe (more recently in assorted Harry Potters) and Uncle Lloyd himself.

You can find out more on Facebook. Meanwhile, here's the trailer, complete with glorious Troma ident:

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Why 47 Meters Down could be the biggest British horror film ever

Obviously it’s not being marketed as a horror film. Or indeed as British. But that’s no reason for us not to celebrate a genuine homegrown success that has the potential to be a huge commercial hit.

Twelve months ago I reviewed Johannes Roberts’ shark thriller 47 Meters Down which I had the good fortune to see at an industry preview. I’ve been following Jo’s career since Sanitarium and, after he upped his game with F, I’ve been seriously impressed by his output. It’s great to see somebody go from shooting micro-budget DTV silliness like Darkhunters and Hellbreeder to name-cast, well-budgeted, well-promoted theatrical releases. (Discover Jo's film history here.) And 47 Meters Down will be the biggest yet.

Seventeen years ago, the sole ‘big screen’ outing for Diagnosis (the original, longer cut of Sanitarium, without Uri Geller) was a VHS tape and a projection TV in a Manchester hotel suite. Jo’s latest will open on 16 June across 3,000 US cinema screens courtesy of Freestyle Releasing, part of Entertainment Studios. To put that in context, the last British film to get a release like that was Bridget Jones’ Baby. [In the end it was 2,270 screens - MJS]

Entertainment is putting a huge amount of money behind this release, which means they expect/hope that this will be a big hit, eclipsing last year’s The Shallows and other recent entries in the non-dumb shark movie genre.

Is 47 Meters Down a horror movie? Hell, yeah. The old IMDB lists it as ‘horror/thriller’; a recent Variety story called it “this summer’s open ocean survival horror” and it’s getting coverage on lots of horror websites. So yes, it’s a horror movie.

Is it British? By George, yes. Although it has three American stars, the film was made by a British production company. James Harris and Mark Lane were the producers and their firm is quaintly called the Tea Shop and Film Company. Bournemouth-based Outpost Effects provided the CGI sharks. Where is more British than Bournemouth?

Most of the film was shot in a water tank in England (Basildon, apparently). As The Chamber demonstrated recently (set off Korea, shot in Cardiff), once you’re underwater, your actual location on the globe is irrelevant. An English or Welsh water tank looks no different from any other. That said, the sunny bits of 47 Meters Down on the beach and on the boat were shot in the Dominican Republic. Because, you know, Basildon…

Unused DVD sleeve, from Amazon.
Slightly complicating matters is that 47 Meters Down almost went straight to video. Which is of course not the sign of a poor film (just as a theatrical release isn’t a sign of a good one, which is why Transformers sequels still play cinemas). Dimension were all set to release the film on DVD and VOD, retitled In the Deep (ironically the working title of The Shallows), via Anchor Bay on 2nd August last year. At the last moment, Entertainment offered to buy the rights and Dimension pulled the release, but not before review screeners had gone out. Which is why some people say they have seen the film already.

The IMDB also lists release dates for the Netherlands and Singapore. No word on a UK release yet. I guess it depends how well the movie does in the States.

In terms of British horror films, the over-rated The Woman in Black, which claims to be the biggest-grossing UK frightflick of all time, had a US opening weekend of $20.1M on 2,855 screens. Let’s see if Jo and his team can knock that pompous rubbish off the top spot.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Boots on the Ground - exclusive stills

My old mate Louis Melville (The Last Horror Movie, Man Who Sold the World) has sent me some exclusive stills from his new war/horror film Boots on the Ground. Plus some info. The film is now deep in post, just finishing the sound design and starting on the final sound mix. Expect a trailer next month and an exclusive first review here in due course.

Press release:
Boots on the Ground is a ground breaking British horror film, making cinema history by being the first British film to be shot entirely by its actors wearing 4k head cameras, replicating the video technology used by modern combat troops to record real-time action footage. The film mirrors the style of 1st person shooter video games and combat documentary footage seen in TV shows such as the BBC series 'Our War'. Add to this visual mix a good dose of classic chiller horror in the vein of 'Jacob's Ladder' and 'The Haunting', and what emerges is Boots On The Ground.

Synopsis:
Hindu Kush, Afghanistan October 2014. War ends at midnight, all five British soldiers have to do is stay alive till then. After surviving a firefight the five British soldiers try to find a safe haven to sit out the rest of last night of the Afghan war. Trekking through woodland they come across a large imposing British fort dating back to the first British Afghan war of the early 19th century. On nearing the entrance to the fort they see five other British soldiers entering. With great relief they also enter the fort but find it eerily unoccupied. Where have the other British troops gone, did they really see them?

As the night unfolds and their mission is finally explained to them, they find themselves engulfed in a labyrinthine nightmare of seemingly un-combatable forces from another realm. Time itself seems to move in inexplicable ways to the point where they question their own reality. Who will stay alive till midnight, will any?

Jeezus! That;s the single most horrifying thing I've ever seen!

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

British slasher Clown Kill (formerly Lock In) out in May

Three years ago I reviewed Lock In, the debut feature by Mark J Howard. It was a fun slasher about a woman trapped in an office building with a psycho dressed as a clown. The film was available on VOD via the VHX website, and also played at the 2014 Horror-on-Sea.

Lock In has re-emerged, rebranded with the more obviously exploitative title Clown Kill, and is scheduled for release on both sides of the Atlantic next month. Wild Eye Releasing put out the US disc on 9th May. Left Films release the British DVD the following week.

The British sleeve features the actual clown from this film. Dunno who that is on the US sleeve. British clowns deemed not sufficiently creepy for American audiences presumably.


One reason for the film’s revival is that lead actress Jessica Cunningham is now a reality TV star. She was on The Apprentice last year and in January she was briefly on Celebrity Big Brother. Apparently.

You can find out more about the film at www.clownkill.com or on Facebook.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Can't wait to see... the new Dr Blood's Coffin remake

There haven’t been many remakes among recent British horror films. There’s been the odd one, like Stalker, which was a remake of Exposé aka Trauma aka The House on Straw Hill aka whatever, and Beast in the Basement which is a little-known remake of Beast in the Cellar.

Now here comes another one. Producers Arnold Basket and George Brain of Basketcase Productions have commenced principal photography on a remake of 1960s classic Dr Blood’s Coffin. Slightly retitled as Dr Bludd’s Coffin.

Here’s the synopsis: In a remote Norfolk village, people are disappearing and the dead are walking! Could either of these mysteries be connected with Dr Peter Bludd who has recently returned to his home after being thrown out of medical school for unethical experiments? Hazel Parker, secretary to Peter’s neurosurgeon father Sir Arthur Blood, investigates – and finds more than she was expecting…

So roughly the same plot, albeit transposed from Cornwall to Norfolk. The script is by Charlie Roper and Harry Parsons and the director is Bert Handy, all making their feature debut.

Arnold Basket (Dracula in Dunstable) stars as Peter Bludd with Bill Boosey (Hoodie Hellfire) as his father and Vic Flange (also in the recently announced Strippers vs Werewolves sequel) as Hazel Parker. The cast also includes George Russell, Charlie Hawkins, Harry Sutton and Frank Wilkins.

Dr Bludd’s Coffin is now in post and should hit the festival circuit exactly one year from now on 1st April 2018.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Films that sneaked out when no-one was looking: Territory

Territory has been in the ‘unreleased, possibly uncompleted’ appendix of my masterlist since it was shot back in 2012. It is now available to view on YouTube, where it popped up with minimal fanfare last Halloween. Even the IMDB hasn’t noticed yet and still lists the film’s year as ‘(????)’.

I haven’t watched the film myself yet but here’s the synopsis: “Four cars lie stranded on a country road in the middle of the night - the aftermath of a car crash. Tensions run high as the survivors struggle to resolve the situation, but they soon realise that the worst is far from over.” A clue as to what “the worst” might be lies in the description of the film as “a creature feature in the same vein as Alien and The Thing."

Territory was written, directed and produced by two FX guys, Thomas Saville and Robert Vassie. Saville worked on Small Town Folk, Mutant Chronicles, Stalled and Battlefield Death Tales, while Vassie’s CV includes Victor Frankenstein, Judas Ghost, Pete’s Dragon and a couple of Bonds.

The cast includes Steve Smith (The Spell), Victoria Eldon (Stalled), Rob Maloney (Art House Massacre), Sylvie England, Dave Taylor, Karen Morgan, Eifion Melnyk-Jones, Will Ashbey, Charlotte Eldon, Sharon Muiruri, Karina Sugden and Jon Samuel.

Here's the Facebook page. Here's Rob Vassie explaining how the version on YouTube isn't quite as polished as he and Tom Saville wanted.


And here's the movie itself:

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

New Steve Lawson film, with special guest star

On Sunday I had the pleasure of hanging out at my old mate Steve Lawson's Creativ Studios where he was shooting his latest (title TBC) horror feature for 88 Films (who also back his recent geezer gangster picture Essex Heist).

Alongside behind-the-camera work as light-holder/tripod-shifter (I think 'grip' covers most of that) and reading in the lines of a Polish prostitute whose reverse angles will be filmed later, I was also in front of the camera, in hi-vis jacket, as a policeman at a crime scene tipping my hat to two detectives.


Astute readers will recognise one of these as Steven Dolton (Killersaurus, Devil's Tower), reprising his role as Detective Locke from Nocturnal Activity aka The Haunting of Annie Dyer, and the other as Charlie Bond (Curse of the Witching Tree, Strippers vs Werewolves) as his new partner, Detective Keyes. Also in the cast, but shooting on a different day, is British horror regular Nathan Head (Tuck Bushman and the Legend of Piddledown Dale, Book of the Dead, The Zombie King, Legacy of Thorn).

My non-speaking character doesn't have a name, but I like to think of him as the same policeman I played for Steve 15 years ago in Insiders...

Friday, 10 March 2017

Now on release 2: The Chamber

Ben Parker's tense, claustrophobic and very wet horror-thriller The Chamber opens in cinemas today.

You can catch it all week at the Picturehouse Central in That London or at Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff.

Here's my review, from a preview screening in London a few weeks back. (Big thanks to Sadari Cunningham of Fetch Publicity for the invite.)

If you can't make it to London or Cardiff, you can pick up the film on DVD, BR or download from 20th March.

Now on release 1: new vampire feature Night Kaleidoscope

Review coming soon. Meanwhile, from the press release:

Fresh from its preview screening at the Atlanta Days of the Dead Horror Convention, you can finally watch Night Kaleidoscope on Amazon Prime, buy on Region 2 DVD and even purchase a very limited VHS edition.  Region 1 and NTSC VHS and Very Limited Betamax to follow….

Night Kaleidoscope is the third feature from director Grant McPhee, following on from the success of his Post-Punk Documentary - Big Gold Dream, listed as one of Sight and Sounds best films of 2015, an Edinburgh International Film Festival Audience Award Winner and a recent screening on BBC TV.

Night Kaleidoscope is a very different film but maintains a similar punk rock attitude throughout.

Bridging a fine line between the trashy 70s Euro Horror of Jess Franco, the British Art-House miasma of Nicholas Roeg and the underground experiments of Kenneth Anger Night Kaleidoscope manages to become a unique film of its own.

The film is a treat for the eyes and ears – trippy, psychedelic imagery flashing against a pumping 80s synth rock score – story and logic come secondary to atmosphere and terror, a dreamy nightmare captured on film.

It is the story of Fion, a hardened psychic detective (Patrick O’Brien) who is happy to work for the highest bidder.  His latest case proves to be his toughest challenge yet when faced with depleting powers – which he tops up by smoking a mysterious psychedelic powder – Fion encounters a mysterious wave of murders across the city’s poor and deprived.  With the aid of Isobel (Mariel McAllan) their investigations lead them to enter a world of ancient evil in the form of a beautiful but deadly couple – Carrie and Lewis.  Set against the backdrop of a decaying city viewed through a Night Kaleidoscope.

Night Kaleidoscope is a brash, bold, surreal, stylish and hip entry to the aging Vampire Genre.  One where all rules are broken and is part dream, part nightmare.

Shot on a budget smaller, and a time-frame less than most films have for their trailer, Night Kaleidoscope manages to elevate itself above its limitations by use of imagination and a desire to challenge the perception of Micro Budget Feature Filmmaking.

Night Kaleidoscope is not like anything you’ve seen or heard before.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

12 British horror films which took 6 or more years to get released

Sometimes films are announced, made, publicised, maybe even play a few festivals - then simply vanish. But all is not lost. Just because a movie disappeared into several years ago doesn't mean it won't suddenly emerge in some format...

6 years

The Haunting of Ellie Rose was the feature debut of top FX artist Tristan Versluis, filmed in September 2009 as Not Alone. There was apparently some sort of disagreement between Tris and producer Andy Thompson (Kill KeithThe Scar Crow) and the movie remained unseen until its retitled UK DVD release in October 2015.

Dominic Holmes’ coulrophobic slasher The Clown was produced in 2007 and, after six years down the back of the sofa, eventually turned up on YouTube in May 2013.

Sticking with creepy clowns, James D Layton’s WebKam stars Brit horror regular Eleanor James as a woman forced to humiliate and scar herself to save her friend from a clown-masked psycho. Shot in Layton’s kitchen in August 2008, a trailer appeared five years later and the whole film made it to YouTube in December 2014.

7 years

Sean Martin made The Notebooks of Cornelius Crow, an enjoyable amalgam of time travel and London myths, back in 2003 and it did play a few festivals in 2004/05. Its actual release was on the IMDB in January 2010, although that version has since disappeared, as has the one on Amazon.

Idol of Evil is a pretty dire sub-Indiana Jones archaeology adventure which was marketed as horror because of the demon-thing at the end. Directed by Kevin McDonagh of Birmingham-based Rotunda Films, it was shot in 2004 but not released until April 2011, after Rotunda’s second horror film, the bizarrely werewolf-free Lycanthropy.

In early 2009, AD Barker shot A Reckoning (aka Straw Man), a post-apocalyptic two-hander starring Leslie Simpson and Axelle Carolyn. The film was finished and reviewed but remained tantalisingly unviewable until April 2016 when producer Adam Krayczynski posted it onto YouTube.

Andrew Goth’s surreal horror-western Gallowwalkers became notorious, during its October 2006 shoot in Namibia, for star Wesley Snipes’ tax return problems – although that wasn’t the reason for the film’s subsequent disappearance. Additional footage was shot (by someone else) in Mexico in May 2009 but the film remained ‘lost’ until suddenly appearing from nowhere at Grimmfest in October 2012. The first DVD was the American release in August 2013.

8 years

Back in June 2008 Harold Gasnier, an actor whose credits included Darkhunters, Hellbreeder and The Witches Hammer, sent me his feature The Demon Within for review. For years it seemed like I was the only person who had ever seen this supernatural thriller. Then, out of nowhere and with zero publicity, it appeared on US DVD in March 2016 as 666: A Demon Within. I may still be the only person who has ever seen it though…

I first met James Shanks in 1998 when I was reporting for SFX on his work redubbing Gamera: Guardian of the Universe. He showed me footage from Devil’s Harvest, a supernatural feature he had directed the previous year with Brian Blessed and Julie T Wallace. It was May 2005 when the film was finally released in the UK, retitled Don’t Go into the Attic.

9 years

Daniel Grant’s Evil Dead-influenced Dark Night was first screened in July 2006 so must have been filmed some time before then. Nine years later, in March 2015, this became the first British film given a legitimate release via BitTorrent.

Dark Eyes is “a darkly comic supernatural-psychological thriller involving a drug crazed artist, his obsession for a Russian waitress and an office worker who has premonitions involving a murder near a fridge (much to the dismay of her fish loving husband).” Well now I really want to see this! Shot in 2001 by Andrew Spencer (The Casebook of Eddie Brewer) this was made available on Spencer’s website in September 2010 but has since vanished again.

11 years

Simon Cox’s debut feature Driven concerns an author who discovers that a serial killer is copying the events of his latest book. Shot in 1998, this became available to buy through Cox’s website in April 2009 (retitled Written in Blood) – and still is, as far as I know. No stranger to long-term projects, Cox has been working on his sci-fi epic Kaleidoscope Man since at least 2008.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Zombies Have Fallen - apparently

Zombies Have Fallen is a brand new British horror film, as you can probably tell from the artwork. Shot over three years around Gretna Green (as Bad Blood) this has just been released on Amazon Prime.

Synopsis: "A young woman who possesses supernatural powers and visions of an upcoming apocalypse is aided by a retired bounty hunter who must protect her from those who wish to use her abilities for evil."

Directed by Sam Hampson, the film stars a bunch of Sam Hampson’s friends including Tony Gardner, director of werewolf indie Dense Fear Bloodline. For the latest info, check out www.facebook.com/InfinityFilmsOfficial

The film is distributed by Green Apple Entertainment whose other British horror titles include gangster giallo Isle of Dogs and festive slasher Christmas Slay.

Just one thing: if you're going to use a Union Jack in your marketing, Green Apple, please use an actual, real Union Jack and not this fake thing knocked up in Photoshop. It's like seeing an American flag with 11 stripes and 55 stars. It's just really obviously wrong.

But the film looks cool.