Archive for January, 2012

With the flooding of the vampire market I’ve unjustly neglected my own enigmatic, gothic and blood soaked vampire book Blood Hunger.

So what’s it about?

An explorer makes a discovery in Romania, dubbed the ‘Ice Prince’ find it is

Blood Hunger film style poster

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.

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!

Blood Hunger is  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’.

Out now on paperback and ebook. Watch the trailer here:

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An archaeological expedition  uncovers the tomb of an ancient Egyptian prince. However, the members find themselves being killed off by a mummy who is revived when the words of the prince’s burial shroud are said aloud.
An epic back story of a dying young Pharaoh played out on StarTrek- like sets, miniatures with blackened white men is lifted by Don Banks wonderful orchestral score. The Mummy’s Shroud moves to 1920 where the set design is as classic as the actors and dialogue itself.
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What’s notable about this Hammer production is that it borrows much from earlier Mummy films but has a look and feel of its own which has clearly influenced more recent incarnations especially the narration and dessert deaths. Nevertheless, the Shroud really drags it feet, and feels as worn and tired as the shroud itself. The Mummy’s appearance is around the 50 minute mark which wouldn’t be an issue if there had been some suspense or tension in the build up. Not even the great props and 1920’s style sets (which are amazing considering the productions budget) weren’t the only thing on screen to keep you entertained.
20120129-202146.jpgThere’s bribery, a little racial tension and notable is Maggie Kimberly as Claire de Sangre. During the last 30 minutes the kills both on and off screen are effective enough by stuntman Eddie Powell (Christopher Lee’s regular double) and Michael Ripper as Longbarrow is a joy and really gets to shine.
Absent is blood and there is little if any cleavage on display synonymous with Hammers later outings, but what you have in the closing act are some well executed mummy effects.
Overall as the warning tagline read: ‘Beware The Beat Of The Cloth-Wrapped Feet!’ Make of that what you will.

 

After escaping from jail, The Gingerdead Man finds himself in a time machine destined for killing and roller disco.
Opening with a highly amusing Silence of the Lambs paradox including a muffin throwing his cream over Clarissa Darling stating he can smell her Muff-in, you know what in for – or do you? The previous Gingerdead instalments were B-average at best and this is no exception.
Once Ginger goes back to the 70’s it’s a series of some Porky’s gags mixed with scene on scenes of roller skating linked by some t & a and few and far between kill scenes including gun play, acid attack and a nail gun assault. By the end it all crumbles apart with annoying kids and time travelling history figures cameos.

While no one expects Oscar material from Full Moon you always hope for some-kind of return to former glory. You could spend 80 minutes watching Puppet Master or Blood Dolls but if your a fan of Gingerdead and 1976 this one will roller Boogie you to death..
Sometimes I come across some great tantalising but wacky things in this case two zombie web series’.
From the late Michael Jackson’s nephew Taj Jackson. Comes Code Z. With stunners Thayana, Thaina, Thaisa…
The girls didn’t know their happiness would be short-lived coming to America; as a Zombie outbreak reaches their school. After surviving this initial Zombie attack, they know their lives will never be the same. -And neither will mine…
Deliver Me To Hell, created by littlesisterfilms and Last of the Living (2009) director LOGAN McMILLAN to promote the New Zealand-based Hell Pizza franchise… Yum
She’s a vampire I Yutte

Decades before Twilight’s vampires walked in the daylight there was Hammer Horror’s vampires. It’s 1830, at a finishing school in Styria, Mircalla arrives as a new student. As the young female students in the school begin to die the villagers suspect the Karnsteins located in their ominous castle are to blame.  A visiting author, Richard Lestrange, instantly falls in Mircalla but she is a vampire – Carmilla Karnstein – who has been resurrected by her vampiric family. 

Lust for a Vampire is a well produced Hammer film that arguably is only led astray by its reused footage of Christopher Lee’s blood shot eyes and “Strange Love,” a 1970’s song which plays over LeStrange and Mircalla’s saucy love scene.
The Jim Carrey look
Amongst the abundance of cleavage and boobs on display there is quiet a tight story, there’s the usual vampire cliches hardly surprising given the source material of Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s classic Camilla. Fog, horse-drawn carriages, mysterious cloaked figures and a castle on a hill. Theres some modest effects and interesting scenes, a throat is slit, a resurrected skeleton and a blood covered naked body.

I’m not Christopher Lee
I’m actually a lot cheaper
The school location gives it a fresh look and complements the authenticity of the costumes. Dancing autumn leaves around forests and a powerful score  synonymous with hammer are present. There’s the local Inn and obligatory village mob on a witch hunt.

Dimpled chin lead Yutte Stensgaard (replaces Ingrid Pitt who refused to return as she disliked the script) is on fine form. Nobly for me  is an apperance by Barbara Jeffordd seen more recently Polanski’s Ninth Gate. But the star of the show is the underused co-star (Honor Blackman and Elizabeth Montgomery alike) beautiful Suzanna Leigh as dance teacher Miss Playfair. 

Suzanna Leigh 1945 was a good year 
born in Belgrave, Leicester UK,
There is an array of sub characters from an inspector to a concerned father and headmistress to name a few. Dear John’s (UK TV hit) Ralph Bates plays the quirky but ill-fated character Giles Barton. Cheeky chappy Lestrange is played by Michael Johnson. Interestingly Johnson replaced Peter Cushing (as his wife was ill) but Peter clearly would have been unfittingly for the dashing love interest, as in the finished film. Lestrange’s character has quite an arch unusual for the standard vampire affair.

The adult themes give this an edge  over some Hammer outings even if it is light heartedly hammy in spots.The climax is effective with some nice effects although somewhat a little rushed. Overall, classic Hammer that is sexual charged and ghoulishly gory.
Nothing like some film style promotion to celebrate the underdog Dead Pulse novel! Thanks readers! Keep spreading the word.
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…
In Dead Pulse I refine the zombie mythos and add a twist to the George A. Romero inspired horror adventure.
Click on the link below to enjoy the opening Dead Pulse free.
I’m not a critic just a film fan, I love many b-films, even z-films which says a lot.
However, what drives me all Jack Nicholson is when films are well advertised almost pushed and are poor. Sometimes to a point where their marketing budget unjustly is more than the film. Which is fine if they’re good but what about when they are not so good.
Making films is hard work and a stressful process – no one goes out to make a bad film (do they?) and there’s nothing worse than your baby getting panned – it’s happened to myself. What’s annoying though is when people comment your work without even seeing it now that’s a Penn and Teller/ Dynamo trick that anyone would be impressed with. Why comment on something before you’ve seen it? I’ll never understand that.
I like to share my thoughts and my opinions any they may not be right or the definitive they are just my view. You should experience a film for yourself the world is full of Marmite lovers. In any case here are my thoughts on two horror films I had the ‘pleasure’ of seeing… If you’ve seen them what did you think?
Shark Night 3D (2011)
A weekend at a lake house turns into a nightmare for seven stereotype young vacationers as they are subjected to shark attacks, but its not only the sharks they need to worry about.
There’s some good effects and action set ups but Shark Night is poorly scripted, with an equally poor storyline that compared to Scooby-Doo makes it look like The Usual Suspects. It is certainly is a no brainer but if you want to see girls in bikini’s there’s more suitable places to get your fix or if you must even watch Piranha (2010). There’s really not much more to say about this clunker.
While slightly better in the production department compared to DTV films the whole film sinks of yesterdays fish which is odd considering its is the same director of entertaining The Final Destination (2009) and Cellular (2004) to name a few. It’s a shame as everyone loves a good shark film but this just isn’t one.
The Devil Inside (2012)
A daughter becomes involved in a series of exorcisms while trying to discover what happened during her own mothers exorcism.
Opening with some video news story of a police investigation showing three murders it quickly moves to present day. The Devil Inside is another supposed documentary footage film with some good sound design and few jump scares. However that’s about it. Unfortunately the format and story has been done so many times it’s become tiring and this is in the league of The Amityville Haunting (2011) as appose to Paranormal Activity 3 (2011), Rec (2007) or even The Last Exorcism (2010) and Grave Encounters (2011).
As a side note you may want to bring a pen with you for the ending, although it wont help wrap things up when you’ve viewed the site. As with the Fourth Kind (2009) you know it’s not real so it feels pointless to follow bread crumbs as it can’t create that willing suspension of disbelief.
Overall not bad for documentary type fiction but its just not that great when compared to the abundance of others out there.

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Juggling both my writing and filmmaking is not easy. When Darkest Moons goes to print will end my sub-genre horror books. My zombie, vampires and Werewolf and their subtle connecting thread will be complete for readers to enjoy. But who really cares? I wonder who reads these posts, I wonder who reads my books. Many people know the writer but not the work – it’s an odd situation.

I don’t intend on revisiting sub-horrors, although I have received some tantalising offers. I’m pleased with the interest and success of both Blood Hunger and Dead Pulse and I hope that Darkest Moons will have the same reception.

So what is next?

Thinking… Filming for me has a whole different set of challenges and gives different types of reward. Revamped was a little gem, Terminus has had a great reaction amongst the art house fans with its style and themes.

Darkest Moons –Taylor’s Plight pre-pro involved with creature effects and some basic funding is taking longer than expected. Despite having a lead actress cast, script and much of the pre-pro done if things don’t move forward it may be shelved. Which will be a shame. Its hard doing it on your own, especially in this climate it takes a lot of energy and time. You do meet people that offer their assistance but you also meet many that are all talk. You all encounter people with the best intentions in the world but for one reason or another cant commit. Unless you’re big budget it’s hard. A lot indie filmmakers just want to make their story, I need someone who is keen want to make my stories but their with vision. For me story is paramount, while I have vivid ideas of how something can look or can be made I’m not
overprotective of the source material (that’s the producer in me) so long as the story’s essence remains.

So I’ll await the release of Darkest Moons. Then I’ll be free to weigh up the options, more ghost writing, completion of my sci-fi novel, continue the series, film Taylor’s Plight, resurrect my development hell film Riverside Hotel to name a few or just procrastinate, my, my I hate that word along with viral and visceral.

Whatever you’re doing believe in yourself and just keep plugging. Please leave a comment or like my page because in cyberspace no one can hear you scream it can be a lonely thankless place.

My best A. M.

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20120115-004600.jpgTwo employees try to unravel the The Yankee Pedlar Inn’s haunted past but they begin to witness disturbing events.

Opening with an assortment of spooky photo’s accompanied by a creepy score from Jeff Grace, director Ti West sets the atmosphere for The Innkeepers from the get go. Anyone familiar with West’s smouldering and finely filmed House of the Devil will know he likes to take time to build up the characters with a final pay off. Innkeepers is no exception. That said, it is pacer than the aforementioned with a few cheap scares up front courteous of a PC YouTube like video.

The acting is first rate, very naturalist with lead Sara Paxton on form as intelligent dropout Claire. Paxton is very watchable delivering a good performance thanks to an equally good script. There’s logic in the screenplay as far as if you were in a hotel and interested in the paranormal you’d do the same – set up an investigation.

There is a small cast of quirky characters including 80’s star Kelly Mcgillis who seems to be having a revival now in horror after featuring in Stake Land. There’s a psychic, an odd old man, obligatory ghost bride and cellar. There’s ominous corridors, creaky doors, piano cues and great sound design which add to its creep factor. There’s plenty of jump scares and red-herrings.

E.V.Ps, web cams in amongst the realistic sets gives credibly and suck you into Claire’s and Luke’s (Pat Healy) investigation plight. It’s an old-school horror with the music and sound playing a big part, much of the suspense comes from what you don’t see. But West’s visuals of what you do see are extremely haunting. It’s a homage of sorts that refreshingly leaves you with some unanswered questions and loose ends.

Debatably you can argue it builds to little more than a series of scares, yet, it’s more consistent and less glossy than recent horror Insidious, furthermore grounded than 1408 and far-more finely executed with its wonderful sets, camera work and narrative than the Paranormal Activities.

Yes – it’s a essentially a haunted house flick, but what a chilling, hair raising and perfectly constructed haunted inn film it is.

Below – like Barry Norman on speed or Jonathan Ross with a haircut I’ve put together a few of my little pleasures, those films that unless a film geek like myself points them out they may slip under your radar. Some are wonderfully constructed, some are cult classics, some have entrainment value, some for sheer effort and some just deserve to be seen.

Of course I can’t review my very own 2010 art house vampire, hi-jinks drama Terminus- that would be cheating but here’s a full three minute clip  in case you’re curious…

Blood Dolls (1999)

Entertaining low budget freaky film where the protagonist Virgil is an eccentric freak with a head the size of an avocado.

Virgil is biological inventor and his latest creations are the BLOOD DOLLS, who he uses to kill his enemies! There’s a ‘little person’ for a butler. Four leather-clad rock and roll girls-in-a-cage that play on Virgils command.

William Paul Burns as Mr. Mascaro leaves a lasting impression, Phil Fondacaro is on his usual underrated fine form as Hylas, however, the stars of the show are the dolls themselves created by the late Mark Williams.

The movie has B written all over it, it’s like a rehash of Charles Band’s own 80’s killer puppet movie Puppet Master (1989). There’some flamboyant acting, good doll designs and imaginative special effects.

If you like B movies and killer dolls with hearts, it’s not terrific, but it’s fun and does rate outlandish cult status.

MISSION X (2010)

Scottish mercenary veteran Ryan goes on a revenge mission with a group of guns for hire and a student camera-man on tow.

Arms dealers, bad language and shoot outs, are just the playing cards Mission X first lays on the table. It’s the hand that slowly dealt by director/writer David Paul Baker that makes this film stand heads and shoulders above a flurry of camera point of view (POV) films.
The editing is sharp, bringing together footage from different cameras POV, flash forwards and flash backs. There’s a minimal soundtrack music, first-rate blood effects, a great script and characters. With fitting camera work, near on perfect acting; played authentically, not just by the leads but the supporting cast too, that puts the likes of Quarantine (2008) and the interview segments of The Fourth Kind (2009) to shame.
Bond with the characters as you follow them with Ryan and camera man Grant, who’s verbal sparring on serious and every day issues are exceptional. Mission X is a joy to watch, from abandoned buildings, to night clubs and the streets of Scotland, it’s edgy, tense, harsh, hard and confrontational. Secret meetings, anonymous phone calls.
The screenplay is absorbing to the last reel. In between the shots ringing out; get to know the unit; get caught in the gun fire; it’s the closest thing to a possible suicide mission on your homeland you can see on film.
Mission X oozes tension, it’s a naturalist piece of filming that drags in and captivates the viewer from the outset, which makes it compelling viewing.
A smart cleverly crafted must see.
Grave Encounters (2011)
Lance Preston and the crew of ‘Grave Encounters’, a ghost-hunting reality television show find what they’ve been searching for but is the public is public ready to see the horror they’ve encountered.
A missing episode of lost footage directed by The Vicious Brothers, Grave Encounters is probably best described as a mix of UK’s Most Haunted, USA’s Ghost Hunters (T.A.P.S) and Ghost Adventures although it’s shows what many have been wanting to see for series’. There’s poltergeist activity, ghosts and ghouls .
Actor Sean Rogerson’s Lance is almost a parody of Zak Bagans real life presenter of Ghost Adventures. And does an adequate job of carrying the show within a film. The support cast are great intentionally or unintentionally and are as annoying as these co-presenters/investigators in the real shows themselves.
It uses hand-held and static cameras mirroring the aforementioned Television programmes with a splash of colour and night vision for good authentic measure.
As the investigators night proceeds it gets more jumpy and intense with some slick visual effects. Although it never quite makes sense why these ghosts can’t pass through walls and prefer to bang on doors.
It’s better directed and executed than the mass of copycat films that have tried to capture the spirit of these reality investigations. Grave Encounters delivers plenty of chills especially if you are a fan of these paranormal TV shows.
The House on Haunted Hill remake closing aside overall it’s more fun than the Paranormal Activities trilogy but ultimately is simply an extended uber-version of the shows it’s emulating.
Hunter Prey (2010)
After a crash landing an escape human prisoner must avoid being recaptured by humanoid aliens or caught by a bounty hunter.
A low-budget sci-fi reminiscent of Enemy Mines (1985), Pitch Black (2000), Planet of the Apes (1968), Star Wars (1977) and Star Trek’s 1967 ‘Arena’ episode to name a few.
While it may not have the production design or sleekness of some of the aforementioned, Hunter Prey has some nice make-up design and subtle effects. Lead alien performer Poitier is note-worthy as Centauri 7 shows depth and bearded Simon Potter as Logan is entertaining enough as the prisoner on the run in a desert landscape.
The costume design is effective and fan-boy cool but is let down by the original sound design that doesn’t give them weight leaving them plastic and hollow rather than heavy pieces of armour, guns and helmets. Director writer Sandy Collora delivers a watchable sci-fi but it still has the feel of limited budget filmmaking rather than a low budget with a cinematic feel.
Despite an abrupt ending there’s a few story twists and double crossings that are mainly played out in dialogue rather than action and enough visuals to keep you entertained.
Messiah of Evil (1973)
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 storyline 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.
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.
Puppetmaster (1989)
Puppet masters premise is an ultimate, interesting horror film idea for those who like this genre. The film begins by creating an interesting back story, Nazis arrive at a hotel in search of Toulon who is tending to his puppets that seem to have a life of their own. Years later a team of para-psychologist investigate the hotel. You’ve guest it, the puppets come to life and begin to pick off the newcomers one, by one.
Unfortunately, the film suffers, as most 80’s horrors, from plot holes, some bad acting and awful dialogue. The stop motion and movement of the puppets is good but it has also dated. These faults aside Richards Bands music score is genuinely creepy and Director Charles Band creates some chilling moments. The killer puppets themselves are the stars of the show each with their own personality.
Unfortunately apart from the 2nd puppet master all of the sequels couldn’t match the quality of the first and second film in one way or another. One of the better low budget horror films of the 80’s. If any cult film deserves a re-imagining or remake it’s this one.
Eaters (2011)

The world is devastated by an epidemic and is overrun by hordes of living dead. Three men, Igor and Alen, hunters of dead and a scientist, Gyno try to find an answer to what has happened to the human race.

Everyone’s having a stab at the zombie/virus flick since 28 days Later – Spain with REC, Germany with Rammbock and France Le Horde to name a few.
Although Marmite director Uwe Boll has a producer credit, this shares little if anything with his films. Both writers/ Directors Luca Boni and Marco Ristori deliver a competently constructed bleak atmospheric zombie horror that is stylishly shot and presented in washed out colour.
Eaters opens with the standard zombie exposition affair of news clips how virus infection has spread. Gyno spins that the zombie epidemic maybe the next step in evolution while the hardened soldiers believe otherwise.
There’s some good zombie make up design, lopped off heads, blood, fried zombies, undead torture, skulls and exploding heads. Guns, grenades and machetes are used to dispose and there are some interesting kill scenes as the two hardened soldiers, Igor a likable hard-man played excellently by Alex Lucchesi and Alen notably by Guglielmo Favilla go to section F on a ‘corpse hunt’. Notable is chained up Alexis (Rosella Elmi) who is a carrier of the virus. Young actress Elisa Ferretti as Cristina deserves a mention.
Although Igor is likened to Leon it’s doctor Gyno played by Claudio Marmugi who is the Jean Reno-alike. He experiments on the dead, shooting them after their used, chopping them up, feeding them scraps reminiscent of Day of the Dead. Interesting the zombies here eat their own body parts, encounters with a Cultist group, slow/fast zombies and armed zombies add to the pleasure.
This serious slick Italian production is grim with a sense of black humour and irony there’s characters reading ‘corpse and girls’ magazine. Crazy Caravaggio painter of dead people. The score is similar to resident evil with electronic heavy beat and it had a few flash backs and eerie dream sequences deliver some jump moments.
Sector b’s Nazi group aside the script delivers some tension as madness sets in as the character try to pass time, humour feels unforced and the acting for the most part realistic. Eaters may have it’s faults debatably some CGI, editing and pacing issues but for the most part it’s a fulfilling ride. Although it borrows from the likes of Resident Evil Apocalypse and 28 Weeks Later to name a few there’s enough twists and originality as the leads try to accept their situation to prevent it becoming stale reinforced with an ending that goes against the clichés in the last act.
Gory, bloody and overall more fun than it should be due to it’s great execution and grimness.
Carnival of Souls (1962)
A true horror classic Director Herk Harvey and writer John Clifford both waived their earnings in order to get the film made. Upon release in 1962 the film was a failure in the box office, thankfully its subsequent airings on late night television helped to gain it a strong cult following so Clifford and Herks work was not all in vain.
The delightful Candace Hilligoss is perfectly cast as the troubled woman that after surviving a traumatic car accident, that kills her two friends, becomes haunted by a frightening ghoul and drawn to a mysterious abandoned carnival. It’s a shame that Hilligoss only acted in two features as she gives an impressive performance as Mary Henry.
The music is very creepy and a little too intrusive in places, however, for it’s time and budget it is a well crafted film. Carnival of Souls many not be as sleek and stylish as the Haunting (1963) but it is far more eerie. The zombies are not as imposing as in Night of the Living Dead, however, they are vastly creepier and macabre.

Oozing atmosphere it’s a creative and unnerving film that concludes with a common place twist but back in ’62 it was ahead of it’s time, a true cult classic.

Alien Undead, The Dark Lurking (2010)

20120111-192303.jpg Face eating monsters run amok in a  facility. The survivors try to escape the horrors of the creatures but the horror maybe within.

Also known as the marketable Alien Undead Gregory Connors offering  is an overlooked interesting piece of low budget film making.

Although borrowing an assortment of ideas and dialogue from many sci-fi’s, heavily from Aliens, The Cave and Event Horizon, Connors film has an odd alluring charm. Underneath the overpowering score uneven script and badly delivered dialogue there’s plenty to like. The effects, make up and gore  are for the most part effective. Stark white sets, grim corridors, rain drenched foliage and computer control rooms all add to the films interest. While some of the set ups are less effective than others and The Dark Lurking throws too many ideas in the pot it does for the most part deliver especially in atmosphere.

The cast are a mixed bag, notable are Tonia Renee, Bret Kennedy and Ozzie Devrish as Kirkland.

There’s some well executed gun play, great lighting and camera work.  Connors and the editor are wise not to linger too long. When the relentless imposing score is working it compliments the many great visuals perfectly.

Although lacking pace and originality its one of the better low budget sci-fi’s and certainly worth viewing.