Archive for March, 2011

There are many classic horrors, stacks of cult favourites, I could spend a lifetime writing about them and the characters that have put fear into us capturing our imagination.
Amongst the Universal Monsters, Hammer Horrors, Halloween, Hellraiser, Nightmare on Elm St. and modern classics like the Shining, Let the Right One In and so on, there are a string of chillers that have some leprechaun gold dust sprinkled on them. I’ve put together a handful of atmospheric grime-like horror gems that almost slipped though the horror net. And to think –  they thought they eluded us…
Dead People A.K.A Messiah of Evil (1973)

Messiah of Evil: The Second Coming

Before Romero’s Dawn of the Dead and The Crazies, there was Dead people a.k.a Messiah of evil. Shot in 1971 the film was not released until 1973. Like H.P. Lovecraft’s Dagon and The Wicker Man (1973), weird locals are hiding a horrific secret… In Messiah, the people of Point Dune worship the rise of a red moon as they become zombies.
The story-line is disjointed, but this adds to the mystic, surreal and dreamlike quality of the film. Admittedly, there is some irregular editing and the score is very much of its time, but there’s plenty to like about it.
Kaufman’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) and the aforementioned clearly have taken its cue from Willard Huyck’s jumbled but effective film. Especially the scene where slinky brunette Anitra Ford is pursued through a supermarket. There is also truly creepy scene again with Ford and an albino trucker, played by Bennie Robinson, you’d think he would have been in a lot more movies given his creepy look.
It oozes dread and suspense, it’s a chilling 70’s horror flick that despite its faults is a lot better than some of today’s so called horrors.
Dead And Buried Movie Poster 11x17 Master PrintDead and Buried (1981)
There are a handful of horror films that I can say are underrated and exude atmosphere, Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (1971), Dead People (1973) and Dellamorte Dellamore (1994) rank as some unsung cult sleepers. Dead and Buried while better known sits fittingly with the above for sheer eeriness, as director Gary Sherman takes you to the odd, clicky, fishing town of Potters Bluff where visiting tourists and passer through are killed only for their corpses to be brought back to life.
Reminiscent of Jaws 2 (no one believes the sheriff), The Wickerman (1973) (plotting towns people) and Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) (they are not who they clam to be) to name a few, Dead and Buried still manages to remain fresh and intriguing until the shocking end.
James Farentino wonderfully plays sheriff Dan Gillis who must solve the case and wrap up the mystery, and Melody Anderson is perfect as his wife. Jack Albertson gives a fine performance as the mortician and Robert Englund has a small role, the rest of the cast are first-rate.
Dead and Buried is only hankered by some choppy editing and despite the amount of writers on board, Sherman’s well crafted film benefits from ‘too many fingers in the pie’, including Alien scribe Dan O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett. The film is enhanced from a shot on location look which adds to the genuine creepiness of the goings ons and Joe Renzetti’s music is fitting. There’s some notable blood and gore effects by the late great Stan Winston which even though are a by product of the story they are excellently executed.
Overall, a must see excellent underrated chiller.
Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (1971)
Let's Scare Jessica to Death
A disturbed woman recently released from a mental institute has various nightmarish experiences. She becomes further disturbed after moving to an old farmhouse on a Connecticut island with her husband and friend where they meet a mysterious squatter.
Let’s Scare Jessica to Death is a low budget gem, possibly the foundation or inspiration for many horror films that followed. It’s skillful directed by John D. Hancock who creates a foreboding atmospheric horror, with chills and spills.
The supporting cast are notable and Zohra Lampert plays the lead role of Jessica admirably, with emotional range and depth. In addition, Mariclare Costello is excellent as the creepy lodger Emily. It suffers slightly from some 70′s film trappings, the intrusive use of the score, choppy editing and the sound is a little off but these are only small distractions, and to the movies credit it doesn’t look like a low budget film. The on location shoot adds to the realism and there are many surreal moments, involving the odd towns people, a girl in a graveyard and the body in a lake. Creepy old photos, folkloric tales, unexplained noises all add to the unease and tension of this smouldering horror.
It draws in the viewer making you consider is what Jessica experiencing real or not. The film builds up modestly, tackling possible vampirism, haunting and ghosts which are all handled in a believable manner. I can only compare the ambiance to that of The Haunting (1963), Exorcist (1973), House of the Devil (2009) Carnival of Souls (1962) and another underrated horror Dead People a.k.a Messiah of Evil made the same year (although not released until 1973).
It’s Hancocks ability to execute pure creepiness and eeriness that sets Let’s Scare Jessica to Death apart from many horrors. If only the majority of modern horrors could stir up the same sensations experienced.

The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue (Two-Disc Special Edition)

Let Sleeping Corpse Lie A.K.A The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue (1974)
Non si deve profanare il sonno dei morti (original title)
A crop dusting machine from the agricultural pest-control is emitting ultra-sonic waves that are re-animating corpses…

A lot have said this is underrated, granted it’s overlooked. It is atmospheric with an ominous feel. It has great locations and is at times genuinely creepy. However, it’s shares more with Fulci than Romero. The acting is not aided by the bad dubbing. To its credit it has an eerie musical score by Giuliano Sorgini and a number of suspenseful sequences but it borrows many of its best sequences from Night of the Living Dead.I watched director Jorge Grau’s offering under the title of ‘Let Sleeping Corpse Lie’ but whichever name you see the film under don’t be mistaken or mislead, it’s a solid zombie horror movie and of its time with fine cinematography from Francisco Sempere. It’s a lot better than the low budget DTV zombie films that there’s no shortage of at the moment.

Dellamorte Dellamore (1994) A.K.A Cemetery Man (1994)

Cemetery Man
1994’s underrated zombie horror classic based on the comic Dylan Dog by Tiziano Sclavi, it stars Rupert Everett (in his best role) and enchanting Anna Falchi.
“Zombies, guns, and sex, OH MY!!!” was the tag line, and while it’s true it has those things Dellamorte Dellamore is so much more, it’s macabre and violent, with atmosphere you can taste. Excellent music by Riccardo Biseo & Manuel De Sica and direction amazingly executed by Michele Soavi.
Spellbinding and arguably the strangest, most effective zombie film out there to-date.
The House of the Devil (2009)

The House of the Devil 27 x 40 Movie Poster - Style A

Student Samantha Hughes takes a babysitting job that coincides with a full lunar eclipse, she soon realises her clients harbour a terrifying secret.
Director writer Ti West delivers an elaborate painstakingly created homage to 70’s and early 80’s style thriller/horrors. It feels authentic, from the period costumes, 70’s style title sequence, complete with font, swipes and stills reminiscent of countless films, to the music and camera work to match. The film is pure nostalgia and he does a fantastic job at handling a slow set up which keeps the viewer interested.
You’ll fall back in love with the time and more importantly the innocent, struggling student character of Samantha, played superbly by Jocelin Donahue. There’s no 80’s style bad performances, it’s naturalist oozing 70’s grittiness. The House of the Devil is wonderfully acted, every member of the cast is first-rate with their subtle and realistic portrayals. There is an exceptional stand out supporting cast which include Tom Noonan (Manhunter 1986); Dee Wallace (Howling 1981); cult horror actress Mary Woronov and newcomer Greta Gerwig as Megan is notable.
The first three quarters of the film is crisp building up an everyday tension after a series of odd phone calls and awkward situations while taking the viewer back to around 1983 America. Pay phones, walk-men, Fawcett hair and skinny jeans. The last last reel is a Rosemary’s Baby (1968) set up as you are jarred out of the normality that came before and the film turns on it’s head to blood, violence, murder and satanic ritual.
The lighting is naturalist, West is not afraid to cast shadows creating an eerie and ominous atmosphere. The effects and make up are excellent and the music soundtrack and score is well placed.
A tension building 70’s/80’s crafted horror but made in 2009. Perfect.
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Lolita 1962 Comedy Drama Movie 24x36 POSTER

Trailers date back as early as 1913 and were popularised in the 60’s by Hollywood teasers on TV. One front runner (and it comes as no surprise) was trend-setter Stanley Kubrick with his montage trailers including Lolita and 2001: A Space Odyssey.

2001: A Space Odyssey Poster Movie C 11x17 Keir Dullea Gary Lockwood William Sylvester Dan Richter

To think trailers were usually showed in cinema after the credits, it’s easy to see why this didn’t last long. The thing is these days we know too much before we even sit on our seats in the cinema or insert that shiny disc. With barrage of TV spots, teaser-trailers, official trailers, video diaries, Internet snoops, blog posts and sites more often than not we know the in’s and out a year before it’s gets to the big screen. As oppose to once upon a time not so long ago when we’d have to wait over a year for a film to hit Video, or two years for cable and maybe forever for it to reach terrestrial TV if ever.
JANE BADLER 24X36 POSTER PRINT FROM CLASSIC V SERIES
I recently watched the first episode of the second series (season) of ‘V’ and in the final moments an incarnation of one of TV’s best villains appears… Jane Badler’s character Diana. (Now I may have just spoilt it for someone!) see what I mean. Now if I had read it or caught a whiff on the net, it would have ruined for for me. The same reason as I thought it neat when Charlie Sheen cameos in Wall Street 2, Sean Connery appearing at the end of Robin Hood and Ed Norton being in Kingdom of Heaven.  The problem is this, these publications can give a lot away, all just it takes is a photo or a sentence.  The same can be said for magazines featuring soaps and show’s etc. As Grandpa said in The Lost Boys,”…Read the T.V. Guide, you don’t need a T.V.” Never a truer word spoken.

Cloverfield

The ‘industry’ ‘leaks’ things left right and centre, the the amount money spent on consumer research is nobody’s business and is also why we get sheep-like droves of films that have no substance because they are designed like fast-food with no substance but to temporarily appease the masses. I like a cheeky burger as much as the next but at least some-like to put flare into their public communications, even to have some kind of morale, if not clever creative ways to draw us in while not unmasking the whole film. The film Cloverfield showed very little, it’s advertisements tantalising and mysterious. Notably, Spider-Man’s trailer had an entire action sequence, Terminator 2: Judgment Day’s trailer featured an elaborate special effects scene both especially constructed and were never intended to appear in the theatrical release.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day Poster Movie B 11x17 Arnold Schwarzenegger Linda Hamilton Edward Furlong

Maybe it should be made compulsory that only title cards and a 5 second clip are only shown but no doubt some bring spark will let the cat of of the bag. ‘Kevin Spacey is Keyser Söze.’ or ‘There is no Tyler Durden, The Narrator is one and the the same.’
On writing this I can understand Steven Spielburg reluctancy to record director commentaries, but it’s a case now of give the people what they want and I suppose the bottom line is you don’t have to listen the commentaries or watch the making of supplements, if you want to retain that movie magic. Personally I love a great making of, I remember a double video set of Total Recall with a 20 minute making of feature, I though it was the bee-knees. Little did I know in the future we’d have a thing called DVD and Blu-ray.

Al Pacino

Possibly due to the internet and media hunger today’s Hollywood stars are too accessible and are endanger of loosing their mystic, their allure with endless appearances, twitter and the like. Even a frank biography can destroy a hero. One of the worst things I did was read an authorised biography of Al Pacino. It was my own fault, I wont say why but my preconceived ideas were smashed. But on the flip side ‘Lucky Man: A Memoir by Michael J. Fox’ solidified him for me.
The internet is killing off quality publications, the excitement of waiting a month has gone. Why pay a subscription eh or 4.99, just turn on the TV, PC, or smart phone. As Darth Vader would say, “All too easy”.
Monsters Special Edition + Digital Copy [Blu-ray]Like anything else as consumers we want it instantly and in the process we are in danger of destroying what we love. Yes it’s great to have a build up an anticipation, but in our hunger for more we’re distorting that excitement and surprise and are possibly short changing ourselves when you pay money for a ticket to be entertained. And that is why you and I are feeling let down by almost ever film we see. Most recently I caught Monsters expecting another War of the Worlds rehash, District 9, a grounded version of ID4, or even a better version of Skyline but what I got was a love story with aliens as the back drop. For a spilt second I was slightly disappointed and then I came to my senses and felt a little emotion and thought, I quite enjoyed that. Call it unintentional misdirection, a lack of research and/or avoiding marketing for the film, it was something that I didn’t expect.
There’s a reason I just browse over the back sleeve, don’t pay too my attention to trailers or turn off the TV before the teaser to the next episode…. It’s because I like surprises.
Okay it’s official I’ll be attending the Roxy Bar not just because I write horror, not because I make horror films, not just because I’m a self confessed horror fan or not just because the horror starlet, actress/presenter Emily Booth and star of my next book is fronting the project (although that’s a hell of of reason to). It’s because this event is the brain child of ‘The Classic Horror Campaign’ creator Richard Gladman, the man behind persuading the BBC and other television networks to bring legendary horror films back to our screens.
Emily Booth
I’ve supported Richard in the past and I discussed Classic Horror with the late great Hammer Horror Icon Ingrid Pitt (Bring Horror Back to the Beeb post) where I met her at WHC2010.

The screening of two classic favourites “Night of the Demon” and Hammer’s “Vampire Circus” will take place at the Roxy Bar & Screen on Borough High Street in London (close to London Bridge) Friday 22nd April.
Although my following is mainly the USA and Canada it’s important for me to keep those British traditions afresh, after all these classics were one of my major influences and I’d like them to be appreciated by a whole new generation wherever you are in the world.
A. M. Esmonde
This is why myself and various horror celebrities support this including Jeremy Dyson, Andy Nyman, Reece Shearsmith, actress Eileen Daly, David Moody and Hammer Horror’s Shane Briant and icon Caroline Munro.

I will be celebrating classic horror in the tradition of the BBC’s iconic horror double bill days of old, today. So why not join me on Good Friday and hammer horror home.

A London gangster is recently released from prison and tries to go straight after being offered a job by a clinically depressed borderline agoraphobic celebrity. However, he’s forcefully reined back into ‘the business’ by Gant a psychotic criminal boss.
A star-studded and familiar face cast come together in William Monahan’s passionate compelling and compulsory underworld film that manages to capture a contemporary 60’s feel. It benefit’s from an on location look which is wonderfully and stylishly shot capturing both beauty and darkness of L.A. and London. The back drop of London feels like a character itself with something interesting always going on screen.
For some reason despite the formulaically worn genre Boulevard manages to stay fresh. Colin Farrell’s main character Mitchell is likable, interesting and dynamic with a Steve McQueen air about him.
The character relationship dimensions and interactions are intriguing and a little bit different from the usual Brit flick considering linear story thanks to a at times ambiguous script. Leads Farrell, Keira Knightley and Ray Winstone are on fine form. And both David Thewlis and Ben Chaplin steal the show with their contrasting character performances. There are loads of great supporting actor appearances, Eddie Marsan,Matt King,Tim Plester and Sanjeev Bhaskar to name a few. Notable is Briony, Mitchell ‘s alcoholic sister played excellently by Anna Friel.

US director Monahan has created a slick, witty, violent and soulfully hard hitting film. It’s a quality production and despite the soundtrack being repetitive at times and a choppy last act – London Boulevard is near on perfection for the genre.
Reminiscent of Layer Cake (2004) quite frankly it’s the UK’s Carlito’s Way (1993), Colin Farrell’s Charlie Brigante,which is a simply a good thing.
Spiderhole Poster Movie (11 x 17 Inches - 28cm x 44cm)As a self-confessed horror fan I took sometime out from writing when I was asked to take a look at Daniel Simpon’s horror offering Spiderhole just released on DVD. The usual press kit arrived and while tantalising I wasn’t sure what to expect…
Four London Art Students squat in a derelict house to save money with the intention to live-free in a meaningful, creative and partying student lifestyle environment. However, they find themselves trapped inside a large house and their unlawful entry may come at a price, possibly their lives.
Daniel Simpson’s director / writer feature film debut is an exciting offering of a well-crafted film with an effective and expensive looking production design. The lighting is excellent, creating a dark and ominous atmosphere in the confinement of the empty building. He throws in enough camera angles, movement and cuts though-out to prevent events ever becoming static.

Spiderhole begins customary enough with a carefree student Molly having a check-up at the doctors on a sunny London’s day, but once she meets her three friends to go on a squatting adventure of free spirited living things take a turn for the worse and it becomes a claustrophobic nightmare.

 

Simpson sets-up the perfect intro for a haunted house thriller, shadowy corridors, locked doors, complete with bangs and bumps. You almost feel you’re in for a rework of 1962 The Haunting. Nevertheless, as the supernatural element is dispensed with and the ‘torture porn’ element begins with plenty of blood, mind-games and grime to get Saw-esque fans jumping in their seats. Executed with some excellent practical and realistic looking effects and blood.
Although the characters are thrust  into the horror very quickly the Brit slang dialogue is naturalistic enough to keep the tension on track. George Maguire’s performance as the edgy sculpture lover is notable and Molly character is written logically and cleverer than most heroines of this genre and is wonderfully played by Emma Griffiths Malin. Both Amy Noble and Reuben-Henry Biggs are more than adequate in the supporting roles and a nod goes to John Regan’s subtle performance as The Captor.
Jason Cooper and Oliver Krauss score and the sound design is pounding, nauseating which fittingly adds to the on screen action, touching nerves and senses, evocative of the feelings stirred by Marco Beltrami and Marilyn Manson’s RE (2002) score.
Some plot and style elements are reminiscent of Creep, The Collector, Severance, REC, Catacombs, Hostel and Saw 2 to name a few, however, there’s enough originality, mystery, twists and a surprise ending to satisfy the casual horror viewer. Overall, if you enjoy blood, torture and captivity Spiderhole is made for you.

Spiderhole Official Website

 

Their first bite will be your last
(Aiden Ashley)

Take a look at the latest provocative promo’s for the vampire novel Blood Hunger and the zombie horror Dead Pulse.

BLOOD HUNGER –
An explorer makes a discovery in Romania, dubbed the ‘Ice Prince’ find it is significant enough to put him and his girlfriend Lucia Ferrara in the media spotlight. Iliana and her sister’s journey to the United Kingdom, news that the ‘Ice Prince’ had been discovered ceases their many years of blood abstinence and they unleash a bloodthirsty terror on humankind leaving a trail of death from London to the Welsh countryside.

An age of blood abstinence ends…
(Karlie Montana)
From the fall of the vampire and the Dracul brothers in medieval Europe to their return in the present day. Prepare yourself, their first bite will be your last!
Vampires want roses too
(Amy Reid)

A definitive and fresh reinvention of the vampire legend. Inspired by the spirit of Bram Stoker’s novel ‘Dracula’, Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s novella ‘Carmilla’, ‘Hammer Horror’s’ film series and cult horror ‘The Hunger’.


The dead have returned to life… 

Being dead no longer means the end…
(Jayme Langford)

The world’s focus is on the city of Ravenswood and the once idyllic town of Farmore as platoons and scattered survivors fight the hordes of the dead, unbeknownst one of them holds the key to end the undead’s reign of mayhem.

Across the city at a body disposal plant a small group take shifts on the ‘death watch’. Their hopes hinge on the soldiers of Farmore to rescue them. But with no contact for months, no food and surrounded by the dead, have they got what it takes to survive?

Just eat me
(Karlie Montana)

With death at their door, only time can tell…

The author of ‘Blood Hunger’, A. M. Esmonde re-imagines his often imitated ‘The Breathing Dead’ novella in his latest George A. Romero and Lucio Fulci inspired zombie horror adventure, Dead Pulse.




With kind permission from cutting edge adult erotic photograph site Juliland.com with the legendary photographers Helmut Newton,Chris Von Wagenheim and Richard Avery.


The wait is over. Capturing and encapsulating the spirit of George A. Romero’s zombie mythos and more… Dead Pulse is out on paperback and Kindle. Enjoy the trailer.

The dead have returned to life…

The world’s focus is on the city of Ravenswood and the once idyllic town of Farmore as platoons and scattered survivors fight the hordes of the dead, unbeknownst one of them holds the key to end the undead’s reign of mayhem.

Across the city at a body disposal plant a small group take shifts on the ‘death watch’. Their hopes hinge on the soldiers of Farmore to rescue them. But with no contact for months, no food and surrounded by the dead, have they got what it takes to survive?

With death at their door, only time can tell..

Order your zombie Kindle copy here
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