The Attic (2013) review

The Attic posterDirector: Josh Stolberg

Starring: Raleigh Holmes, Steven Weber, Sterling Beaumon, Lori Laughlin, Jonathan Silverman, Paul James

Also known as: Crawlspace (US title)

TIM – “You don’t fuck with another man’s home.”
ALDON  – “I was about to say the same thing myself.”

There are a number of reasons I tend to watch indie horror films I’ve never heard of.

Part of it is down to the complete lack of knowledge of what’s coming next. I enjoy movies more when I don’t even know the basic plot.

It’s also because I like seeing what sort of ideas filmmakers can come up with when they only have a relatively small budget.

Best of all though, when you watch hundreds of films and most of them are shite, it’s even more satisfying than normal when you come across a hidden gem. Cue The Attic. Continue reading “The Attic (2013) review”

My Bloody Valentine (1981) review

My Bloody Valentine posterDirector: George Mihalka

Starring: Paul Kelman, Lori Hallier, Neil Affleck, Keith Knight, Cynthia Dale, Helene Udy, Alf Humphreys

“Roses are red, violets are blue, one is dead… and so are you.” (killer’s note, My Bloody Valentine)

Valentine’s Day can be a pain in the arse at the best of times.

If you’re single it can be a thoroughly depressing affair as you hear countless tales of lovebirds wooing each other with gifts and other tokens of their adoration.

Meanwhile, being one of said lovebirds is no picnic either, what with the stress of having to buy your partner a present and hoping it’s the right size, or the right colour, or the specific type they asked for.

All of this pales in comparison to the small rural American town of Valentine’s Bluff, though. There Valentine’s Day can be a real killer. Literally. Continue reading “My Bloody Valentine (1981) review”

Puppet Master (1989) review

Puppet Master posterDirector: David Schmoeller

Starring: Paul Le Mat, William Hickey, Irene Miracle, Jimmie F Skaggs, Robin Frates, Matt Roe

“Metaphysically speaking, I killed myself.” (Neil, Puppet Master)

Over the past few months many of my reviews have been dedicated to films by Full Moon, one of my favourite B-movie studios.

Full Moon were responsible for a raft of low-budget 80s and 90s horror films and while the majority were as atrocious as you’d expect (hence exhibits A, B, C, D and E here), every so often they’d come up trumps with a gem.

Puppet Master is one such film, one that proved so successful it spawned a total of nine sequels. Naturally, reviews of these will come in time but for now let’s start at the beginning. Continue reading “Puppet Master (1989) review”

Alice Sweet Alice (1976) review

Alice Sweet Alice posterDirector: Alfred Sole

Starring: Paula Sheppard, Linda Miller, Niles McMaster, Mildred Clinton, Brooke Shields

Also known as: Communion (original title), Holy Terror (re-release title)

“Maybe you are afraid that God will send St. Michael to take another of your loved ones. When St. Michael took my little girl, I only thought of how cruel God was.” (Mrs Tredoni, Alice Sweet Alice)

It’s generally a bit of a taboo in film to combine children with murder. Usually that means filmmakers are wary of killing a kid in a movie – that’s crossing the line – but it also works the other way too.

That’s why it’s difficult to come up with a sizeable list, off the top of your head, of films which feature a scene in which a child murders someone.

Alice Sweet Alice isn’t scared of such taboos. Not only does it include a child being killed mere minutes into its runtime, its entire plot also revolves around the notion that another child may be killing people. Continue reading “Alice Sweet Alice (1976) review”

The Burning (1981) (Video Nasty review #9)

The Burning posterDirector: Tony Maylam

Starring: Brian Matthews, Leah Ayres, Brian Backer, Jason Alexander

“They never found his body, but he survived. He lives on whatever he can catch. Eats them raw, alive. No longer human. Right now, he’s out there. Watching, waiting. Don’t look: he’ll see you. Don’t move: he’ll hear you. Don’t breathe: you’re dead!” (Todd, The Burning)

Although there were a number of slasher films before Friday The 13th (most notably Halloween and Black Christmas), it was that film’s success which led to the birth of a sub-genre that was by far the most oft-imitated during the ’80s: the camp slasher.

(Obviously, by that I mean slasher films set in a summer camp, as opposed to films where a killer prances around going “oo-er missus” before stabbing someone.)

One of the earliest imitations – and one of the best, actually – was The Burning, a film written and produced by the then-indie Weinstein brothers and their small studio Miramax. Continue reading “The Burning (1981) (Video Nasty review #9)”

Before they were famous: 40 big name actors and their horror film pasts

Everybody’s got to start somewhere, and not every actor saunters straight into an Oscar-winning role in their debut performance.

Who's this? Find out below.
Who’s this? Find out the answer below: she’s the first entry

No, most start off doing cheap or independent films: mostly just to get work and have some actual acting roles to put in their resume, but also in the hope that their performance will get them noticed by one of the big studios.

Everyone in this feature has two things in common. Firstly, they are (or were at one point) all considered major actors or actresses.

Secondly, they all starred in horror films very early in their acting careers. A rare few struck it lucky with horror movies that would become hugely successful: Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween springs to mind.

However, the vast majority instead featured in cheesy low-budget B-movie horrors, the sort of pish they’d rather forget they were ever in. You know, the sort of stuff I review on here.

Here, then, in order of surname, is my handy list of major actors and actresses who found themselves in (usually extremely low budget) horror films early in their careers. Just to make sure they won’t be able to forget them.

Continue reading “Before they were famous: 40 big name actors and their horror film pasts”

Black Christmas (1974) review

Black Christmas posterDirector: Bob Clark

Starring: Olivia Hussey, Margot Kidder, John Saxon, Keir Dullea, Marian Waldman

Also known as: Silent Night, Evil Night (USA title)

“Little baby bunting, daddy’s went a-hunting, gonna fetch a rabbit skin to wrap his baby Agnes in.” (The Killer, Black Christmas)

Although Halloween is credited as the film that kicked off the slasher genre and Friday The 13th is the considered the one that inspired a slew of imitations, Black Christmas pre-dates them both by nearly half a decade.

This makes it all the more impressive, then, that despite being one of the earliest proper examples of the genre, it remains one of the better slasher movies 40 years after its original release. Continue reading “Black Christmas (1974) review”

Halloween: Resurrection (2002) review

Halloween Resurrection posterDirector: Rick Rosenthal

Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Brad Loree, Busta Rhymes, Bianca Kajlich, Sean Patrick Thomas, Daisy McCrackin

“Trick or treat, muthafucka.” (Freddie Harris, Halloween: Resurrection)

Miramax achieved the impossible by taking the flatlining Halloween series and resurrecting it with the back-to-basics Halloween H20.

With Michael Myers relevant and scary again, it was therefore inevitable that another Halloween would come, even though it seemed Myers was well and truly dead after the last film.

How did they manage to bring the pale pursuer back then? Well, I’ll tell you, because I’m nice like that. Continue reading “Halloween: Resurrection (2002) review”

Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998) review

Halloween H20 posterDirector: Steve Miner

Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Josh Hartnett, Michelle Williams, Adam Arkin, LL Cool J, Janet Leigh, Chris Durand

JOHN – It just occurred to me today that I’ve never celebrated Halloween before.

MOLLY – And why’s that?

JOHN – Oh, we’ve got a psychotic serial killer in the family who loves to butcher people on Halloween, and I just thought it in bad taste to celebrate.

After the train wreck that was Halloween: The Curse Of Michael Myers I’m surprised Dimension Films and Miramax had the gall to bring ol’ paleface back yet again.

Still, bring him back they did, in a film made to mark the 20th anniversary of the original Halloween. And you know something? They actually did a decent job this time.

Perhaps realising the previous film had become a confusing mess with a plot consisting of evil cults, a convoluted bloodline, adopted children and Paul Rudd, Halloween H20 scraps it all and instead provides an alternative timeline in which the events of Halloween 4, Halloween 5 and Halloween: The Curse Of Michael Myers never happened. Continue reading “Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998) review”

Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland (1989) review

Sleepaway Camp III posterDirector: Michael A Simpson

Starring: Pamela Springsteen, Tracy Griffith, Michael J Pollard, Mark Oliver

CINDY – “Why are you doing this to me?”

ANGELA – “Because you’re a cheerleader, a fornicator, a drug taker, a nasty snotty bigot… and besides that, you’re real nice.”

Here’s some advice. If you’re ever at a pub quiz and one of the questions is “what do Sleepaway Camp and Back To The Future have in common?”, your response should be two sentences.

The first: “That’s a pretty fucking obscure film to be bringing up in a pub quiz, considering the public in general aren’t familiar with the Sleepaway Camp series.”

The second: “Nevertheless, the answer to your niche question is that both had their second and third movies shot back-to-back.” Continue reading “Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland (1989) review”