Bloody Birthday (1981) review

Bloody Birthday posterDirector: Ed Hunt

Starring: Lori Lethin, KC Martel, Elizabeth Hoy, Billy Jacoby, Andy Freeman

“Mommy, mommy, come quick! Daddy fell!” (Debbie, Bloody Birthday)

My birthday is coming up soon. I’ll be 32 on 8th April, thanks for asking. Feel free to send me presents.

Even if you don’t, it’s unlikely my birthday will be as grim as that of Debbie, Curtis and Steven, the three 10-year-old villains in Bloody Birthday.

That’s right, I said 10-year-old villains. Bet you’re starting to get interested now. Continue reading “Bloody Birthday (1981) review”

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Silent House (2011) review

Silent House posterDirectors: Chris Kentis, Laura Lau

Starring: Elizabeth Olsen, Adam Trese, Eric Sheffer Stevens, Julia Taylor Ross, Adam Barnett, Haley Murphy

“Daddy?” (Sarah, about a hundred times, Silent House)

Here’s a fun fact: there are actually more movies about haunted houses than there are houses in North America.

Okay, that isn’t true. But it’s getting to the stage that I wouldn’t be surprised.

Silent House at least tries to do something different by introducing a rarely used gimmick: the entire film is presented as one single shot.

Granted, it does cheat a little bit – more on that later – but the concept is at least enough to keep your interest for a while. Continue reading “Silent House (2011) review”

A Nightmare On Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989) review

A Nightmare On Elm Street 5 posterDirector: Stephen Hopkins

Starring: Robert Englund, Lisa Wilcox, Kelly Jo Minter, Danny Hassel, Erika Anderson

AMANDA KRUEGER – “Your birth was a curse on the whole of humanity. I will not allow it to happen again. You brought me back to give you life, but now I must take yours.”

FREDDY – “We’ll see, bitch. We’ll just see.”

I’ll tell you something, that Freddy Krueger lad doesn’t fuck around, does he?

Wes Craven’s original classic A Nightmare On Elm Street was released in 1984, yet by the time 1989 rolled around the series had already reached its fifth film.

Naturally, churning out movies at a rate of nearly one a year can’t be good for the quality of a franchise: not that New Line Cinema cared, of course. Freddy was guaranteed profit.

The process eventually reached a head with film number five, The Dream Child. It offered far more visual spectacle than any other entry before it but, crucially, made far less sense too. Continue reading “A Nightmare On Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989) review”

Pet Sematary II (1992) review

Pet Sematary 2 posterDirector: Mary Lambert

Starring: Edward Furlong, Anthony Edwards, Jason McGuire, Clancy Brown, Jared Rushton

“You bury your own.” (Gus, Pet Sematary II)

The original Pet Sematary (disclaimer: one of my favourite horror films ever) revolved around the idea that if something has ceased to be it’s sometimes best to move on and not try to resurrect it.

Mary Lambert’s film showed that any attempt to revive dead children, animals and adults inevitably results in a disturbing aberration that may look similar, but is missing its soul. With Pet Sematary II, she shows how the same rule can apply to ‘dead’ movies too.

The film centers on Jeff Matthews, a young lad played by Edward Furlong, looking like he just stepped off the Terminator 2 set and walked straight in front of the camera.

Jeff’s mum is a big movie star, but a freak electrocution accident on set leads to her ending up a bit less alive than she’d probably like (i.e. not at all) so his dad decides it’s probably best for he and Jeff to leave Hollywood and its bad memories behind them and start a new life elsewhere. Continue reading “Pet Sematary II (1992) review”

Pet Sematary (1989) review

Pet Sematary posterDirector: Mary Lambert

Starring: Dale Midkiff, Fred Gwynne, Denise Crosby, Brad Greenquist, Miko Hughes

“I’m at Judd’s, daddy. Will you come over and play with me? First I played with Judd, then mommy came and I played with mommy. We played, daddy! We had an awful good time. Now I want to play with yoooooou.” (Gage, Pet Sematary)

Losing a loved one is always a harrowing process, one in which you’re often at your lowest possible ebb. But what if there was a way to undo the process?

Specifically, what if there was a way to bring back the recently deceased and have them back in your life again?

What if the consequence of said person becoming an ex-corpse is they don’t behave like they did before pegging it? Would you still want to see their body alive even if their mind and personality wasn’t the same?

These are the questions raised by Pet Sematary, the 1989 movie based on Stephen King’s book of the same name and, I should probably just come out and declare at this early stage in the review, one of my favourite horror films ever. Continue reading “Pet Sematary (1989) review”

The Babadook (2014) review

The Babadook posterDirector: Jennifer Kent

Starring: Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman, Daniel Henshall, Hayley McIlhinney, voice of Tim Purcell

AMELIA – “If the Babadook was real we’d see it right now, wouldn’t we?”
SAMUEL – “It wants to scare you first. Then you’ll see it.”
AMELIA – “Well, I’m not scared.”
SAMUEL – “You will be when it creeps into your room at night.”
AMELIA – “That’s enough.”
SAMUEL – “You will be when it eats your insides.”

Living in London as I currently do, I take the Tube into work. Right where I stand to wait for my train, there’s been a poster for The Babadook up on the wall for the last month or two.

I’ve spent so long studying that poster (as you do when you’re bored) I’ve memorised the four review quotes on it, and can recite them off by heart.

“There goes your peaceful night’s sleep,” reads one. “One of the strongest, most effective horror films of recent years,” declares another.

“Truly frightening,” a third simply states. And then, the fourth and final claim that truly piqued my interest: “A flat-out masterpiece.”

I was curious. After all, in my eyes the horror genre hasn’t been blessed with too many masterpieces in recent years. Sadly, having now watched The Babadook, that situation hasn’t changed for me. Continue reading “The Babadook (2014) review”

The House Of Him (2014) review

The House Of Him posterDirector: Robert Florence

Starring: Richard Rankin, Louise Stewart, Kirsty Strain, Hope Florence, Amy E Watson

“I’m so stupid. I’m so stupid. I mean, Sophie and I, we could see the windows were boarded up from the outside… and we still went in with him. So stupid. Everything was wrong, and we still went inside with him.” (Anna, The House Of Him)

At the time of writing this review, my day job is being heavily scrutinised by a bunch of scrotes who claim to be trying to expose a lack of ‘ethics’ in video game journalism.

In reality it’s a front for something much more sinister, much darker and misogynist in nature. While this is actually fairly apt when talking about The House Of Him, it’s not why I bring it up.

Instead, it’s just a wanky way for me to bring up this full disclosure: I know Robert Florence, the lovely Glaswegian chap who wrote, directed and edited this film. I consider him a friend and I’d like to think the feeling is mutual.

Despite this friendship, and the fact I love most of the stuff he does, that doesn’t mean I’m incapable of criticising him. He wanted Scottish independence, I didn’t. He loves Dynasty Warriors games, I think they’re pish.

So I approached The House Of Him with a mixture of excitement and fear. Excitement because I love the vast majority of stuff Rab does – his sketch shows, his games writing, his vintage video game webshow Consolevania, which was fucking nailing it many years before the era of annoying YouTubers began.

The Changing Rooms reboot was deemed a little too dark for daytime ITV audiences
The Changing Rooms reboot was deemed a little too dark for daytime ITV audiences

But also fear, because should it turn out to be shite, I would be placed in the awkward position of reviewing a mate’s work and slapping a pishy wee single-star rating on it then hoping he didn’t notice.

After all, comedy writing and video games writing are one thing, but I would imagine making a horror film requires a completely different skillset.

Thankfully I can rest easy, because The House Of Him is not shite. Far from it, in fact. Continue reading “The House Of Him (2014) review”

The Godsend (1980) review

The Godsend posterDirector: Gabrielle Beaumont

Starring: Malcolm Stoddard, Cyd Hayman, Angela Pleasence, Wilhelmina Green

“Do you know what a cuckoo does? It lays its egg in another bird’s nest. And do you know what the fledgling does? It pushes the others out, one after the other, until it has the complete attention of the parents. That’s Bonnie. Bonnie must go.” (Alan, The Godsend)

You can tell a film is iconic when it spawns its own brood of knock-offs. Take Night Of The Living Dead and the way every zombie film that followed had shambling, moaning monsters just like Romero’s, for example.

Another shining example is The Omen, the success of which saw a subsequent sharp increase in the number of films about spooky religious kids: Bless The Child, Children Of The Corn, even its own sequel, Damien: Omen II.

The Godsend is one of these offshoots, going so far as to go right down the ‘British couple inherits child that isn’t theirs’ route. And you know, it isn’t absolutely terrible, even though it’s about as original as a Harlem Shake video. Continue reading “The Godsend (1980) review”

Troll (1986) review

Troll posterDirector: John Carl Buechler

Starring: Noah Hathaway, Michael Moriarty, Jenny Beck, June Lockhart, Phil Fondacaro, Julia Louis-Dreyfus

“Harry, your sister isn’t an alien. She’s something much worse.” (Eunice, Troll)

You may already be aware of Troll 2, the movie some claim is the worst film ever made. I’ve already reviewed it, because that’s how cutting edge and cool and shit I am.

But what about the first Troll? What was so interesting about that film that someone decided it needed a sequel? Is it just as bad as its successor? How do they link up?

Actually, Troll has nothing to do with Troll 2. The latter was originally named Goblin until it was decided that changing the name to pretend it was a sequel to Troll would gain it extra credibility. No punchline necessary. Continue reading “Troll (1986) review”

11/11/11 (2011) review

11-11-11 posterDirector: Keith Allan

Starring: Jon Briddell, Erin Coker, Hayden Byerly, Aurelia Scheppers

“Numbers are not merely symbols, Mr Vales. They hold great power. And they have that power because we give it to them. When these numbers align his fate is sealed. Your son must die before his birthday, and if you don’t kill him, I will.” (Annie, 11/11/11)

By this point I’ve become accustomed to groaning “oh for fuck’s sake” every time a movie opens with the words “The Asylum presents”.

In a way, it’s understandable. It’s just muscle memory every time I see the name of a studio known for producing shameless low budget knock-offs of popular movies.

The plan is simple: by giving their films a similar name the Asylum aims to trick unwitting parents who think they’re renting little Jimmy a slice of triple-A Hollywood blockbustery… or, at the very least, some sort of official spin-off. Continue reading “11/11/11 (2011) review”