V/H/S (2012) review

VHS posterDirectors: David Bruckner, Glenn McQuaid, Joe Swanberg, Ti West, Adam Ingard, Radio Silence

Starring: Hannah Fierman, Mike Donlan, Drew Swayer, Joe Sykes, Joe Swanberg, Sophia Takal, Norma C Quinones, Drew Moerlein, Helen Rogers, Daniel Kaufman, Chad Willella, Nicole Erb

“You’re all gonna fucking die up here.” (Wendy, V/H/S)

I’ve spoken of the low-budget junkyard that is the found footage genre a number of times on TWABM in the past.

While early examples like Cannibal Holocaust and The Blair Witch Project felt fresh and genuinely terrifying, for the most part the genre has since become a cop-out, an easy way for talent-starved directors to make a cheap horror movie without much effort or skill.

For every umpteenth Banshee Chapter, The Tunnel and Frost out there though, there’s the occasional Paranormal Activity or The Taking Of Deborah Logan – films that actually use the limitations of the found footage style to their advantage.

V/H/S falls firmly in this latter category, offering a selection of creepy tales that are made better by their low-quality production values rather than forced to grudgingly accept them as a necessary evil. Continue reading “V/H/S (2012) review”

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Airplane vs Volcano (2014) review

Airplane vs Volcano posterDirectors: James & Jon Kondelik

Starring: Dean Cain, Robin Givens, Tamara Goodwin, Matt Mercer, Morgan West, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs

VAUGHN – “My name is Private Vaughn. Can you tell me what your situation status is?”

LANDON – “Uh, sure, situation status. Uh, we lost both our pilots, we nearly crashed, we nearly blew up and there’s this guy up here who’s super close to a psychotic meltdown. Oh, and we’re flying in the middle of a ring of volcanoes.”

VAUGHN – “Okay, Roger that.”

Usually B-movie studio The Asylum is best known for its mockbuster films, capitalising on the success of big movies by churning out similar sounding imitations.

Snakes On A Train, Android Cop, Atlantic Rim – these are the typical offerings you’d expect from The Asylum, conveniently released around the same time as their big-budget soundalikes (in this case Snakes On A Plane, Robocop and Pacific Rim).

Airplane vs Volcano attempts to cash in not on a big movie, but seemingly on a big news story – namely, the volcanic ash clouds that grounded flights back in 2010. Continue reading “Airplane vs Volcano (2014) review”

Zardoz (1974) review

Zardoz posterDirector: John Boorman

Starring: Sean Connery, Charlotte Rampling, John Alderton, Sara Kestelman, Niall Buggy, Sally Anne Newton

ZARDOZ – “You have been raised up from brutality to kill the Brutals who multiply and are legion. To this end Zardoz, your God, gave you the gift of the gun. The gun is good!”

EXTERMINATORS – “The gun is good!”

ZARDOZ – “The penis is evil! The penis shoots seeds and makes new life to poison the Earth with a plague of men, as once it was. But the gun shoots death and purifies the Earth of the filth of Brutals. Go forth and kill! Zardoz has spoken.”

I don’t know how I feel about John Boorman.

The English director has been responsible for both one of the most effective films I’ve seen (Deliverance), and one of the most infuriating piles of pish I’ve ever had to struggle through (Exorcist II: The Heretic).

Zardoz, his bizarre sci-fi film in which a half-naked Sean Connery tries to bring down a community of immortals in the year 2293, has me similarly conflicted. It’s both shite and incredible at the same time, but leaning slightly towards the latter. Continue reading “Zardoz (1974) review”

Voyage Of The Rock Aliens (1984) review

Voyage Of The Rock Aliens posterDirector: James Fargo

Starring: Pia Zadora, Tom Nolan, Craig Sheffer, Michael Berryman, Ruth Gordon, Alison La Placa

“I still can’t believe you’re an alien. What a novelty act!” (Dee Dee, Voyage Of The Rock Aliens)

One day in the future, when I have children, there will come a day when I’m asked “dad, what were the ’80s like?”

I already know how I’ll respond. Without saying a single word I’ll gesture to the couch, insist they sit down, turn the telly on and make them watch Voyage Of The Rock Aliens. Just to fuck with them. Continue reading “Voyage Of The Rock Aliens (1984) review”

Evil Dead II: Dead By Dawn (1987) review

Evil Dead 2 posterDirector: Sam Raimi

Starring: Bruce Campbell, Sarah Berry, Dan Hicks, Kassie Wesley, Denise Bixler, Richard Domeier

HENRIETTA: “I’ll swallow your soul! I’ll swallow your soul! I’ll swallow your soul!”

ASH: (points shotgun) “Swallow this.”

When The Evil Dead was released in 1981 it completely blew away the horror film industry.

With their titchy $375,000 budget director Sam Raimi, producer Bob Tapert, actor Bruce Campbell et al created a horror classic jammed fit to bursting with effective scares, laugh-out-loud moments and gallons of gore.

Usually a success like this leads to a sequel following soon after but fans of the original had to wait six years for Evil Dead II: Dead By Dawn. Continue reading “Evil Dead II: Dead By Dawn (1987) review”

Scream: The TV Series (2015) review

Scream The TV Series posterDirectors: Various

Starring: Willa Fitzgerald, Bex Taylor-Klaus, John Karna, Carlson Young, Amadeus Serafini, Connor Weil, Tracy Middendorf

MR BRANSON: “The gothic genre is all over TV right now. American Horror Story, Hannibal, Bates Motel…”

JAKE: “What about Texas Chainsaw or Halloween?”

NOAH: “Those are slasher movies. You can’t do a slasher movie as a TV series.”

The recent tragic passing of the legendary Wes Craven led to an outpouring of support on social media as dedicated and lapsed fans alike took to Twitter to namecheck their favourite Craven movies.

The vast majority of them didn’t realise just how fitting their tributes were, as Craven died just before the airing of the final episode of Scream, a TV series based on his genre-redefining horror film and airing on MTV.

You see, whereas the original Scream, released in 1996, had the killer mostly contacting his victims via phone calls, this time the reimagined Ghostface uses all manner of techniques – yes, including social media – to stalk potential future corpses. Continue reading “Scream: The TV Series (2015) review”

Icetastrophe (2014) review

Icetastrophe posterDirector: Jonathan Winfrey

Starring: Victor Webster, Jennifer Spence, Tiera Skovbye, Richard Harmon, Mike Dopud

COP – “We got a meteor strike: how cool is that?”

CHARLIE – “Well, people are dead, so not very.”

I’m a sucker for a cheesy pun-based title – Poltreygeist, The Gingerdead Man and the like – but Icetastrophe is a fairly rubbish one, let’s face it. That isn’t really a pun.

Regardless, what we have here is yet another low-budget made-for-Syfy film dealing with a natural disaster. And as if you can’t tell from its sloppy moniker, this time we’re dealing with ice.

Specifically, it’s ice that’s come from a meteor, which crash-lands in a small mountain town and creates a massive flash freeze for reasons which are never really explained. Continue reading “Icetastrophe (2014) review”

Contamination (1980) (Video Nasty review #11)

It is my intention to eventually watch and review all 72 movies on the ‘video nasties’ list released by the Director of Public Prosecutions in the UK in 1983. In a time before videos were classified by the BBFC, each of these films were considered so shocking by the DPP that any video shop owner found to be selling or renting it could have faced prosecution. To see my other video nasty reviews so far, click here.

Contamination posterDirector: Luigi Cozzi

Starring: Ian McCulloch, Louise Marleau, Marino Masé, Siegfried Rauch

“Help! Let me out! There’s an egg!” (Stella, Contamination)

I’ve got a lot of time for Italian horror from the late ’70s and early ’80s. This was a fruitful period for low-budget horror, mostly thanks to the countless Italian rip-offs that were churned out in next to no time.

No film was safe from the Italian ‘homage’: when Jaws came out, a bunch of killer shark (and piranha and whale) films were released within a matter of months. Following Dawn Of The Dead, you couldn’t move in Italy for cheapo zombie flicks.

Meanwhile, Contamination – in case you couldn’t tell from the poster – was inspired by Ridley Scott’s Alien.

Continue reading “Contamination (1980) (Video Nasty review #11)”

It Follows (2014) review

It Follows posterDirector: David Robert Mitchell

Starring: Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Lili Sepe, Olivia Luccardi, Jake Weary, Daniel Zovatto

“She can do the same thing I did. It should be easier for her, she’s a girl. Any guy would be with you. Just sleep with someone else and tell him to do the same thing. Maybe it’ll never come back.” (Hugh, It Follows)

Slasher film convention dictates that the killer will often walk slowly towards their victim, who in turn will happily provide suspense by falling over any number of times and making themselves easier to catch.

It Follows takes this often mocked trope and makes it scary again by adding a couple of clever twists. Continue reading “It Follows (2014) review”

Alien Abduction (2014) review

Alien Abduction posterDirector: Matty Beckerman

Starring: Corey Eid, Jillian Clare, Katherine Sigismund, Jeff Bowser, Riley Polanski, Peter Holden

JILLIAN – “Are those stars?”

RILEY – “Stars don’t move like that.”

By this point in my life I must have seen more ‘found footage’ movies than I’ve had lamb vindaloos, and let’s just say Indian Express in Wandsworth greatly appreciates my custom.

After all, a quick gander at the ‘handheld footage’ tag on this site will reveal that I’ve reviewed no fewer than 15 of the bastards  on this site already.

Alien Abduction at least tries something slightly different by going with a subject matter you don’t often get in these first-person frightfests. See if you can guess what it is by the title. Continue reading “Alien Abduction (2014) review”