Posts Tagged ‘Halloween’

Image result for halloween 2018 posterWarning Spoilers.

40 years since Laurie Strode survived an attack from killer Michael Myers, he manages to escape while being transferred. When the masked man returns to Haddonfield Laurie must protect her daughter and granddaughter and execute a plan decades in the making.

Oozing with atmosphere and suspense director David Gordon Green brings Halloween (2018) back to its roots giving us a well-deserved horror follow up to the 1978 original. There’s plenty of graphic creative kills, not limited to the multiple impalements, stabbings, neck snapping and foot stomping head breaking. While all this plays out Green even manages to tidy up the mythology. The humour (thankfully limited) is done just right, notable the scene with Julian (natural Jibrail Nantambu) being babysat by (the excellent Virginia Gardner) Vicky and stoned boyfriend Dave (memorable Miles Robbins).

If your new to Halloween and enjoy a good slasher film this will no doubt entertain. I personally enjoyed the many of sequels, especially Donald Pleasence’s performance in the 2nd, 4th, 5th. Writers Green, Danny McBride and Jeff Fradley’s Halloween largely wipes the slate clean and echoes some of the story beats and setups in previous outings, the gas station, the escape, a ghost bed sheet etc. Thankfully at face value it disregards but doesn’t totally rule out the elaborate supernatural mythology.

While the pacing and editing is a little bumpy at times it’s respectful to the original while standing on its own two feet and shot off fingers. There are jump scares in places, but it isn’t necessarily scary, it’s more frightening due to Michael’s strength, non-discriminatorily violence that he inflicts and its damaging results. It’s a R/18-rated faithful sequel with an icing on the cake score by Carpenter (almost a stamp of approval of this follow up).

Pleasence’s Loomis is sorely missed but actor Haluk Bilginer’s Dr. Sartain Loomis protege fills the gap with a twist. Will Patton as Officer Hawkins is notable and offers weight to the film in his meaty small role. Jamie Lee Curtis gives a haunted powerhouse performance. Nick Castle, James Jude Courtney, and Tony Moran as Michael Myers / The Shape make Myers terrifying. Judy Greer as Laurie’s daughter Karen Nelson is rounded. Andi Matichak’s granddaughter Allyson Nelson is solid but her character build-up slightly fades. It’s not on the nose explored, but there’s a lot simmering underneath the traumatized Laurie, troubled Karen and damaged Michael throughout.

Highly recommended.

Advertisements

Hello ghosts and ghouls. Finally (phew) and aptly this Halloween my new book entitled Darkest Moons is released on paperback and Kindle. If you would like a chance to win a free electronic copy share this post on Twitter or Facebook @amesmonde! Read on for more Darkest Moons’ details.

From the press release:

darkest_moons_cover_for_kindleDarkest Moons

In 1878 a mining community came to terms with the existence of a terrifying horror.

Over 130 years later a troubled London police officer, Alex Caine, is transferred to the sleepy village of Red Meadows. Her country life and the investments to rejuvenate the valley are put in jeopardy when a World War II bomb is unearthed triggering a chain of disturbing events.

A series of grisly mutilations follow but what is causing this mayhem, a wild animal or a serial killer hell-bent on destruction? With limited resource, battling local politics and with help from an unlikely ally, legends from the Garloupmira to Sasquatch are probed. Caine’s well-being, sanity and beliefs are tested as she desperately strives to solve her case.

As the moon rises the curse begins!

Darkest Moons

By A. M. Esmonde

An AM to PM Publishing Book

Publication Date October 31st 2016

Paperback ISBN 1508567700

e-book ASIN B01MDSP46K 

202 Pages

Ask in your favourite bookstore or order from Amazon

Link T.B.C

Watch the Darkest Moons Teaser Trailer: https://youtu.be/5qYX7Sal0k4

A. M. Esmonde, “A gothic mansion, hidden secrets, crypts, beasts and mysteries. With a never seen before creature that spawned legends. What is real and what is not in a seemingly perfect community? Present day set ‘Darkest Moons’, incorporates flashbacks throughout a Welsh village’s history packed with elusive characters. Darkest Moons will be available as an e-book, readers who want the traditional paperback will get the e-book free and can also enjoy the revelation connections to my all my other novels.”

As with any first edition, if there are any niggling little errors please let me know and we’ll get it correct for the second run. Thanks

When being dead no longer means end. Death does not discriminate. As a thank you, free for one day only, Halloween 2015! Download the top ranking zombie adventure romp Dead Pulse ebook.

If you can’t wait, order the paperback today and get the ebook free.

Have a great spooky time.

Event link – https://www.facebook.com/events/952677094804259/
Amazon link – http://www.amazon.com/Dead-Pulse-A-M-Esmonde-ebook/dp/B004RCLWAO

  Its that time again, dust off the cobwebs -below I’ve put together 21 horrors you hesitated to watch but you should watch at least one this Halloween.

Happy Halloween/Day of the Dead!

House Bound (2014)

*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A troubled young woman, attempts to steal the safe from an ATM, confined to her house she finds out that there may be more to her mother claims that their house is haunted.

What’s starts out as seemingly haunted house flick turns into something totally different, reminiscent of The People Under the stairs mixed with Grave Encounters. Those comparisons are probably not giving director Gerard Johnston’s film the credit it deserves. As while it borrows other genre elements it turns them on its head like the low budget Undead (2003) or Severance (2006) it becomes something quite original. It’s a tightly constructed black comedy horror with some genuine laugh out loud moments and jump scares.

Bloody and creepy in places this part mystery story set mostly in one house it’s a boy who cried wolf tale in some respects, or girl in this case, as no one believes Kylie’s claims apart from a security contractor, Amos.

Morgana O’Reilly is exceptional as Kylie Bucknell, the rebellious ASBO teen who has been tagged and confined to her home after a botched robbery. The small cast ensemble are outstanding with Cameron Rhodes channelling a mix of Jim Broadbent and Randy Quaid. Rima Te Wiata as Kylie’s mum Miriam is particularly notable.

Praise should also be given to Johnston’s writing as Morgana’s character Kylie doesn’t scare easily and isn’t a victim, this with a few story tweaks puts a breath of fresh air into the often stale haunted-house/slasher genre.

[REC] 4: Apocalypse (2014)

*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A woman and an old lady are removed from a building and wedding where a parasitic, viral outbreak took place and are taken to ship for confinement but things go awry.

The strong lead Manuela Velasco returns as the Spanish female TV reporter, Ángela Vidal. Dropping the found footage Blair Witch Project (1999) style of part one and two and retaining the traditional shot style of part three, Jaume Balagueró returns to the directing chair with a more action orientated sequel. Along with some sharp editing from David Gallart and fitting music by Arnau Bataller, Balagueró offers plenty of blood, guts, slicing and dicing of zombie-like nasties as the ship is overrun by the infected.

To writers Manu Diez and Balagueró credit it links all the films together and ties up some ooze ends putting the Tristana Medeiros Da Souza religious connotations from the first, second and mention in Genesis to rest. They successfully connect the series including the solider, Guzman played by Paco Manzanedo who finds Velasco’s character at the end of the second film. Guzman is sent to the ship for quarantine along with all the characters that have encountered the outbreak.

Ismael Fritschi is great as Nick the obsessed techie fan of Vidal. It’s a nice touch to have characters review the tapes from the other films. Héctor Colomé oozes presence and menace as Dr. Ricarte who wants to experiment on Vidal. The supporting cast are strong a play it straight with touches of dark humour.

Small segments of the CCTV footage on the ship is introduced for fans of REC. The change of setting to a merchant ship is refreshing and retains the claustrophobic feeling synonyms with the series, captured by cinematographer Pablo Rosso the location feels gritty and real. With blood thirsty infected, rabid monkeys and Vidal’s parasite causing conflict between the characters there’s plenty going on as they must escape the ship in an Aliens-like countdown finale.

While the tension and scares are replaced for a more action horror experience it still retains its great gore makeup and special effects and is another Fine addition to the series.

WolfCop (2014)

*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A cop at a crossroads comes to grips with the advantages of becoming a werewolf.

Director writer Lowell Dean offers a nostalgia trip in WolfCop. It took me back to the golden age of VHS horror, a time when practical effects ruled and every now again you had to clean the heads on your Video Player. The days when the story no matter how wacky was taken with a pinch of salt, was engaging and the production values felt high. WolfCop no doubt if released in the days of top loaders would chew up your tape.

Leo Fafard as Lou/WolfCop is superb as the washed up alcoholic small town cop, who after a strange encounter begins to investigate his own crimes and take down the local hoods. Put in a blender An American Werewolf in London, The Howling with a touch of Teen Wolf on the local town backdrop of Rambo, add a beer, two shots of whiskey and your close to WolfCop’s ambiance.

Packed with blood, guts, hair and humour, Jonathan Cherry is memorable as Lou’s knowing friend Willie, there’s a notable montage where they ‘pimp’ outfit a police car. An odd scene where the jail cell werewolf is given beer and doughnuts and there’s werewolf action scattered throughout. It’s well made, Dean offers lots of interesting set ups, Toby Bond’s music is fitting and the on location shoot gives the film some weight. This is not Direct to Video – DTV or whatever the kids call it these days, possibly direct to digital download DDD? Its a well executed film.

It has that 80s seediness and cheese in places and throws in a few scares, bloody limbs, fights with plenty of comedy. But the icing on the cake is WolfCop’s practical effects and old school visuals which are outstanding. Thankfully to Dean and crews credit there’s not a sniff of CGI.

Worth checking out at a full moon but be careful it may change you.

Clown (2014)

*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The perfect dad dons on a clown costume which he discovers only to find that he is unable to take if off with terrible consequences.

Relative unknown TV actor Andy Powers is excellent as the lovable dad who becomes a killer clown. With lots of welcomed grim exposition, it has horrifying background to the clown legend and costume. It’s explained convincingly by Karlsson played by Peter Stormare, the brother of the deceased previous owner of the costume. Eerie from the outset Jon Watts and Christopher D. Fordit’s screenplay is played as a straight bloody horror thriller with touch of dark humour. Never before has a children’s ball pool or the tunnels of a play area been so scary.

What sounds like a B film with its outrageous crazy concept actually works in this modest budget production that has Eli Roth on board as producer. It goes from one gloomy odd set up to the next giving it a dream like surreal quality and it gets graphic as Kent tries to remove his costume, goes on a killing spree and begins to regurgitate body parts.

Despite Roth’s involvement it’s very much director Jon Watts film who offers creepy, slicing, gore, demons and clown creatures with some interesting shots, even a bird’s eye view car crash feels different from the standard affair put on screen. All the cast are effective right down to the child actors and Laura Allen is great as Meg, the protective mother fighting for survival.

Taking a leaf from IT’s tale and channelling Pennywise clown it’s also has the psychological element of Magic and is reminiscent of in places of recent Stitches and American Horror Story Freak Show to name a few. That said, it stands on its own two feet with plenty of original ideas. To Watt’s and team credit the effects are outstanding, including and not limited to dismemberment, amputation and Kent becoming a child eating clown.

Clown is a fast paced solid grim possession horror with a splatter/slasher element that never takes it eye off the story. It’s probably the definitive clown horror and naturally those suffering from coulrophobia should avoid at all costs.

Bombshell Bloodbath (2014)

After a zombie virus takes hold a group of people try to find a cure and stay alive.

Bombshell Bloodbath is the perfect quintessential homage to the late 70s and early 80s countless churned out VHS horrors and banned video nasties. Brett Mullen and writer Sky Tilley cleverly offer a mash-up of horror ideas borrowing from the best of the worst and best of the best including Dawn of the Dead, The Beyond, The Evil Dead to name a few.

Bombshell Bloodbath is purposely all over the place with its tone harking back to the good old days of horror and grind house cinema. Moody voice overs, dramatic mad scientist, experiments with rats, tape recordings, seedy strip clubs, cabins in the wood and zombies tearing flesh and more.

The flesh eaters mostly bookend the film with the actors emulating the days of Neon Maniacs, Nightmare City and the countless horror performances alike. Samantha Mills it great as the mysterious blonde bombshell, Cara is wonderfully played by Alex Elliott in amongst the great practical effects and archetype camera angles of Italian exploitation films, like the Barbarians, Rats and Hell of the Living Dead. The music is the icing on the cake for nostalgia hounds and new fans of the old sub-genre horror with composer Matt Hill channelling the likes of Fabio Frizzi and Goblin.

Bombshell Bloodbath does what House of the Devil recreated for old school horrors, this revisits the atmosphere and execution of horror exploitation films.

If there ever was an indie love letter written to Fulci, Romero, Argento and Lenzi, it would look something like this.

Wyrmwood (2014)

A survivor of a zombie plague prepares to battle his way through a horde of sinister soldiers and ravenous monsters after the death of his loved ones.

Reminiscent at times of Dawn of the Dead, Undead and the Mad Max series surprisingly Aussie Wyrmwood stands shoulders above many indie zombie films. Written by Kiah Roache-Turner and Tristan Roache-Turner it has plenty original of ideas for the genre and while it moves away from the traditional George A. Romero Night of the Living concept it puts a spin on the sub-genre by literary injecting a scifi fantasy element which works in its favour.

Director Kiah Roache-Turner offers great special effects, black humour, buckets of blood, guns, needles and a cast of heroic and quickly characters. Starring Bianca Bradey as Brooke, she lights up the screen with some physical action and a strong performance. One of the strengths of Wyrmwood is that you care about the characters even the squeaky chemical suited, creepy music loving scientist.

Zombie gas, DNA experiments and mind control sit nicely in this post apocalyptic adventure as heart broken Barry, Jay Gallagher, goes about finding his sister, meeting an array of characters played excellently by the supporting cast long the way. Leon Burchill is notable as the likable Benny and Yure Covich memorable as Chalker.

The road trip at times ominous and tense with some nice cinematography from Tim Nagle. It has well designed costumes and make up and an excellent pumping music from Michael Lira with some clever sound design.

There are some solid setups, scary zombie girls in a garage, the shoot out in the bush and the action packed escapes. Thankfully it’s not as slapstick as the likes of Evil Dead or Brain Dead. While it may not please those wanting a straight forward traditional zombie film complete with it’s They Live-like fight scene, it exceeds all expectation as piece of horror, action entertainment.

Wyrmwood deserves more than cult status, not just for being refreshingly entertaining but for being more than competently produced, acted and directed. Roache-Turner’s offering does for zombies what Dog Soldiers did for werewolves.

The Dyatlov Pass Incident (2013)

To determine what happened to a group of young Russian hikers, five U.S. college students go back to where the hikers were found dead.

Devil’s Pass is a return to form for Renny Harlin, this offering is an epic compared to Legend of Hercules. With a scifi fictional spin on the tragic true story of Dyatlov Pass, where nine people lost their lives writer Vikram Weet’s convincing script and link to the Philadelphia Experiment, Bigfoot and other UFO conspiracies keeps Harlin’s technically well made film intriguing throughout.

Comparable to Exists (2014) with lots of camera’s to give coverage, as with most POV camera films it comes with the clichés synonymous with that style. Harlin thankfully makes its look easier to pull off than it actually is in this mystery thriller. That said, Devil’s Pass would have been as just as interesting as the team trace the original 1959 ill fated expedition and incident if it had been shot traditionally.

The unnecessary CGI effects of the creatures in the closing aside, the on location shoot is notable, it feels authentic, the cast are natural and sets in the latter half are well made along with the practical effects. The avalanche scene is outstanding and eerily realistically executed. The rural Russian and mountain setting offers plenty of atmosphere and the supporting cast who play the locals are notable.

Overall, although slow burning, the acting and story twist makes it a worth while venture.

Exists (2014)

Five vacationers find themselves terrorised by a disgruntled and legendary Sasquatch.

As a POV film it’s finely executed by one of the godfathers of modern POV films director Eduardo Sánchez. However, given that there’s been so many POV films since its debatably needless when you have the likes of the Rec series to contend with.

The clips and trailers steal the surprise shock value so avoid if possible. Yes it’s another cabin in the wood horror as the group are picked off but it does build to a satisfactory conclusion unlike acclaimed Witch Project which built up to a single scare as copied by The Paranormal Activity series.The acting is solid especially from Chris Osborn’s main character Brian but are not as rounded or fleshed out as in the low budget The Battery (2012). The effects, make up and costume are first rate and story wise it will certainly appease big foot fans.

Script aside thanks to the (predicable yet fulfilling) story and Brian Steele who plays the creature, it’s possibly the most defining bigfoot /sasquatch film to date but bare in mind the majority of sub genre is as reliable as bigfoot sightings themselves.

The Dead 2: India (2013)

The dead are returning to life and attacking the living. An American wind turbine engineer with the help of a local boy attempt a 300 mile journey to reunite with his pregnant Indian girlfriend.

Brothers Howard and Jonathan Ford add an usually unexplored religious angle with the obligatory social commentary subtext making The Dead 2: India as relevant as it’s predecessor. While not as eerie as the first and briefly lacking some logic in both dialogue and decision making, with Nicholas Burton’s (played fittingly by Joseph Milson) seemingly six sense knowledge of what’s going on there’s still plenty to enjoy.

The India setting and on location shoot gives part two a realistic gritty, dusty and atmospheric feel. The traditional shambling dead are creepy enough and retain an air of menace with their biting and tearing of flesh, although their white eyes, now an over used effect do feel slightly dated. That said, there’s plenty to enjoy – more gun-play, more blood and more zombies. With gripping stand out scenes, the crashed car execution, convoy executions, parachute escape and a car going over a cliff to name a few. The directors also deliver some excellent visual moments, a motor cycle blazing across the Indian wastelands, forgotten temples, grand cities, hovering helicopters, jets and burning slums to name a few.

This Ford Brother offering is probably the most grounded undead film since their first outing and Romero’s original trilogy. The director/writers again manage to give their zombie outing scope with a fantastic naturalistic visual style as the engineer and boy go from one village to the next complemented by Imran Ahmad’s music score.

Overall, while not as tension filled and ominous as The Dead, The Dead 2 doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel giving the viewer a much needed solid and serious piece of zombie entertainment. Recommend.

Neon Maniacs (1986)

A group of teenagers in San Francisco are attacked by homicidal monsters living under the Golden Gate Bridge and set out to prove they are real.

Despite its faults, logic, editing, pace and such director Joseph Mangine’s ambitious Neon Maniacs counter balances its short comings. Larry Odien, Allan A. Apone and Douglas J. White’s make up and practical effects are surprisingly good and the period music score is creatively ominous. To Neon’s credit Mangines creates some jump moments notably the bus scene.

Paula played by actress Donna Locke (who has disappeared off the planet) has a cute Goonie appeal. Leilani Sarelle’s Natalie is a solid lead and not surprisingly went on to do bigger thing. The rest of the cast give typical 80s low budget hammy performances.

In retrospect writers Mark Patrick Carducci’s ambiguous origins of the Neon Maniacs adds to the films appeal and although uneven with more style over substance it deserves it cult status if only for the 80’s nostalgia, it’s monsters ‘cool’ factor and surreal atmosphere.

Dolls (1987)

A group of strangers take shelter from a storm in an old house only to find themselves hunted down by a collection of dolls, from old-fashioned china dolls and porcelain dolls to dolls that talk and move.

Written by Ed Naha 1987’s Stuart Gordon’s Dolls remains creepy and scary and is certainly not for viewers with a pediophobia. Fuzzbee Morse’s great score is atmospherically fitting with its melodic cues and stings there’s also a touch of 80s synthesiser thrown in.

The set design and locations set up the eeriness from the outset. Mac Ahlberg’s cinematography coupled with Gordon’s old school camera tricks and some fantastic blood, gore and practical special effects from an array of craft masters sell the horror. Watching the unsavoury characters getting picked off one by one, meeting their demise is horror fun throughout.

Choppy continuity and a spate of dodgy acting aside Gordon’s offering for the most part is excellent. The tone is more oppressive than that of Charles Band’s PuppetMaster (who was also one of the producers on Dolls) and those familiar with Brian Yuzna’s horror work will notice his producer touch on the production.

Even though some optical effects and Dave Allen’s stop motion has dated slightly they still add an uneasy air to the proceedings. The death scenes are effective and credit to the special effects team when it’s revealed what’s under the dolls it’s enough to send shivers up and down the spine.

Amongst the dark corridors, antique furnishings, storms and lightening there’s a handful of standout scenes, Hillary Hartwicke with a pram; killer toy solider death squad; Teddy bear attack to name a few. Aside from Mr. Punch and Teddy the dolls act as more of a collective.

With some dark humour perfectly cast Hilary Mason’s (no stranger horror roles including Don’t Look Now and The Haunted) timing and subtle delivery as the old woman Hartwicke is outstanding. Carrie Lorraine’s Judy, an imaginative little girl is very effective. Stephen Lee’s (Robocop 2) innocent Ralph fits the part in contrast to Guy Rolfe spooky character(who would later play Toulon in Puppet Master 3 to name a few) is on fine form.

A recommended moralistic adult fairytale highlighting that being a parent is a privilege not a right.

Creep (2004)

Franka Potente is party goer Kate, after she misses her last train, she is pursued by a deformed crazy and has to fight for survival in the London underground system.

British films had played it safe for a jolly good while with costume dramas, romantic comedies and gangster flicks. However, the UK have started dishing out a few original horror gems in recent years, Dog Soldiers, Descent etc. Writer/ director Christopher Smith (who went on to make Severance) with a small budget gives the viewer an effective, interesting chiller.

There’s no bad acting here, the actors deliver the goods with a limited dialogue driven script. To build up the tension Smith utilises the underground, music and sound to full effect. He creates a genuine creepy atmosphere, the lighting is fantastic and the gore effects are note worthy.

The quirky small cast that Potente encounters are believable and the killer who dwells in the underground is one of the better original killers in a longer while.

The film is very bloody at times and was quite shocking in 2004. Creep remains a strong claustrophobic and underrated horror.

Dead 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 to serve the town.

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, dynamic 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 all on horror form with some quirky small town characters.

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.

Dellamorte Dellamore (1994)

Francesco Dellamorte is the cemetery caretaker who at night makes sure the rising dead are kept dead. But things get complicated when he falls for one of the corpses.

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, 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.

Messiah of Evil (1973)

Arletty (Marianna Hill) arrives in a small, odd, creepy coastal town in California looking for her father and she quickly learns little is as it seems.

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, it feels art house, 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), Dead & Buried (1981) and the aforementioned Dawn of the Dead clearly have taken a 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, who you’d think would have been in a lot more horror movies. If you liked Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (1971) and Night of the Living Dead there’s some horror delight to be found here from the shocking first kill to the insane asylum ending.

Messiah of Evil 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.

The Pyramid (2014)

*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A documentary crew, Egyptologist with the help of a robot on loan from NASA explore a newly discovered pyramid that holds a deadly secret.

Director Grégory Levasseur offers traps and tombs reminiscent of The Goonies, The Mummy and Indiana Jones. The found footage angle unavoidably comparable to the Blair Witch and its spored multiple found footage films including the recent similar Day of the Mummy.

The sets and atmosphere are the stars of the show here with its hieroglyphics, burial chambers, corridors and tunnels. To writers Daniel Meersand and Nick Simon credit they cram at lot into a generic horror touching on the traditional mummy curse, ancient Egypt beliefs, a labyrinth and robot probes, there’s lots to enjoy. In contrast to the tension, traps and jump scares the closing act is more horror Minotaur-like myth oriented as the god Anubis, assisted by Egyptian inbred blood thirsty cats pick off the explorers and crew one by one.

The acting is solid, surprisingly typecast James Buckley’s Fitzie, the voice of the viewer, is excellent here and is perfectly cast alongside David O’Hare who is on usual fine form as Holden. Levasseur’s presents some nicely executed gory effects and plenty of dusty ambiance, the CGI effects are for the most part well done if not put under too much scrutiny.

Lapses in logic aside, the thing that really hampers The Pyramid (or puts its ahead of its time) is the unconventional jarring mix of switching between hand held camera POV to a mix of traditional shots in the later half which takes you out of the action grave robbing The Pyramid of the tension it setup in the first two acts. It feels like it’s not sure what style of film it wants to be.

If you’re into Egyptology and horror its a blast but as mentioned be prepared for the unorthodox switch in the camera work.

The Innkeepers (2011)

*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Two 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 and a 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 and supports the notion that if you were in a hotel and interested in the paranormal you’d 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, old photos and great sound design which add to its creepy 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.

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)

10 years after the events of the first & second Halloween Michael Myers escapes and returns to Haddonfield to hunt down his niece.

There’s a lot going on in this instalment that goes back to the roots of Halloween ignoring part three. Part 4 is grander, a police station is wiped out and locals turn vigilante. Teenage shenanigan’s go on that are more synonymous with slasher films that weren’t really present in part 2.

Despite being the fourth in a series and putting aside what the critics say Halloween Return of Michael Myers is a very strong entry.

It’s strength is not only Donald Pleasence’s great performance, take a look at the early gas station scene but it’s the likability of both Ellie Cornell and Danielle Harris’ characters. Thanks to Alan B. McElroy’s writing every character is fleshed out more than usual for the time and genre.

Harris is a good child actress and gives Jamie an air of realism. Whereas Cornell gives depth to Rachel’s moral issues and concerns. The supporting cast are all more than adequate including Beau Starr as Sheriff Ben Meeker. George P. Wilbur’s take on the Shape/Michael is debatably the best portrayal of killer in the series.

Credit should go to director Dwight H. Little and legendary producer Akkad for capturing the look and feel look of the first two instalments. Little makes good use of the lighting and music building some great tension, notably the rocking chair, rooftop scene and truck escape. The surprise ending fittingly echoes the first and 4 has the right mix of horror, action and suspense without the cringe worthy cheese that come with most copycat slasher pictures of the time.

An underrated guilty pleasure.

Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (1971)

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 1971 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.

Le notti del terrore (1981)

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Visitors to a mansion are attacked by the disturbed dead and undead monks of the area.

Here we have Burial Ground, Le Notti del terrore, also known as Nights of Terror and The Zombie Dead. Take the sleaziness of The Blind Dead series, put in the trappings of Fulci’s dubbed Zombi 2 and add the set up of the Night of the Living Dead and you’re pretty close to your expectations of Burial Ground.

To this shameless perverse horror’s credit it has atmosphere and a nihilistic ending. Set in and around the grounds of a European mansion it’s surreal day and nights on location shoot gives it some weight as a group of visitors get killed off one by one. Directed by the elusive Andrea Bianchi who has a long list of films to his name and aliases, the gore and makeup are effective for the most part and what you’d expect from an 80’s Italian splatter film. The film heats up when the zombie’s start tearing, eating flesh, boob biting and ingeniously using a range of weapons including disc cutters and axes as they lay siege on a rural dwellings.

Gino De Rossi provides the special effects on a debatable less budget than Lucio Fulci’s Zombi, there’s a few similar moments to Fulci’s classic including a woman face being pulled close to a shards of glass, worms and maggots falling from the rising dead. The zombies are Romero slow but are reminiscent of the wielding weapon dead in Amando de Ossorio’s The Blind Dead.

The score is a little intrusive at times synonymous with the Italian films, there’s gratuitous groping, kissing and overblown crying and hysterics at times. The infamous uncomfortable incest segment between actress Mariangela Giordano and Peter Bark, where the son makes advances to his mother is unnecessarily thrown in for bad taste sake. Possibly simply to out do Romero’s classic basement setup where the daughter kills the mother. There’s a notable decapitation scene of a maid where her hand is nailed to a window and her head loped off by a scythe. Actress Antonella Antinori is memorable along with Raimondo Barbieri who gets limited screen time as the Professor.

As far as zombie films go this takes its self seriously with plenty of eerie bloody moments and while not as good as the aforementioned films of the same genre it’s still a video nasty worth checking out.

Zombi 3 (1988)

Not really linked to its predecessor zombi 2, a virus outbreak (similar to Return of the Living Dead) causes the dead to rise and the military must stop the contaminated. Trapped in the zone are a few soldiers and civilians that must fight to survive.

Although billed as directed by Italian directing maestro Lucio Fulci who supposedly shot approximately 70 minutes of footage, second unit director Bruno Mattei and writer Claudio Fragasso took over and only used 50 minutes of Fulci’s footage. On viewing this lovable travesty it is very debatable how much of Fulic’s footage really appears. There only appears smudgings of the Italians magic as it feels more like Mattei’s Hell of the Living Dead/Night of the Zombies/Zombie Creeping Flesh.

Like its follow up, zombi 4 there’s talking zombies, jumping undead and zombies that want to fight rather than attack and eat flesh. Also there’s two crazy standout scenes, a flying head and a baby zombie birth. It may all sound like fun but it’s zombie scenes with the civilians and regular soldiers fighting the government’s hazardous white suit army that stand out, sadly not the wacky ones.

The zombie gore, blood, make-up and effects are inconsistent, sometimes effective and at other time revealing poor. There’s overuse of a fog machine, laughable dialogue especially from the scientists and military personnel. The synthesised soundtrack is great but like the broadcasting DJ ill-fitting at times. As a sequel to Zombie Flesheaters it’s below average, meandering from one silly setup to the next.

Zombi 3/Zombie Flesheaters 2 at times is more virus flick, imitating and sharing more with The Crazies or Nightmare City than Fulics cult film Zombi 2.

In time for my favorite time of year, early I know but we’ve already put the Halloween decorations up in my home! 

The rights to both vampire thriller Blood Hunger and zombie chiller Dead Pulse have reverted back to myself. After this Halloween the novels will become unavailable.

They possibly may be resurrected in second editions depending on publishers. While the first editions satisfy, in retrospect their not as polished from an editing standpoint as I would have wished but no use crying over spilt milk. Still they’re entertaining horror travel reads. Even the industry’s big players are feeling the pinch and its difficult for the most seasoned authors to earn a crust so I’m not holding my breath for the novels to be picked up.

All is not lost in a shallow grave my sci-fi novel The Final Version is being well received. Again thank you for reading, thank you for your support and have fantastic Halloween.


Apologies for the lack of posts, we’ve been busy in pre-pro with The Longest Night film. However, it would be rude of me not to fit in Halloween. As a thank you for your support check out this giveaway and have a great Halloween!

All you have to do is ‘Like’ the give away picture on http://www.facebook.com/aesmonde and you will be entered into a draw to win a copy of Dead Pulse or Blood Hunger. The draw will take place on 31 October and 20th December 2012. Free UK mainland delivery. Good luck and get sharing.

Visit if you are an Amazon Prime customer you can download the books free today:
http://www.amazon.com/Dead-Pulse-ebook/dp/B004RCLWAO/
With Halloween closing in I covered the Halloween films that featured Donald Pleasence in the Pleasence years. Take a look at 1,2,4,5 and 6 Here. Again skiping Halloween III: Season of the Witch as it’s a stand alone story I thought it would be intresting to cover Jamie Lee Curtis’ return, demise and founder of heavy metal band White Zombie -Rob Zombie’s remakes.
 
Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)

 

20 years after the events of Halloween killings Michael Myers sets out to complete his unfinished job and kill his sister once and for all.

 

The most appealing thing about Halloween 20 Years Later is its very title and Robert Zappia’s story concept itself especially as it features the return of Laurie Strode, the heroine that started the series. It’s no secret that this instalment disregards parts 4, 5, 6 and has no tie to 3. Although it side steps the aforementioned and by default Donald Pleasence’s work, he’s there as Sam Loomis in spirit in newspaper clippings and Nancy Stephens reprises her role as his assistant Nurse Chambers.


 

It takes the action from Haddonfield placing it in a private school giving the film a different feel. Even though Laurie Strode has assumed a new identity, Keri Tate, she is still haunted by previous events unwittingly passing on her fear to her son played lethargically by Josh Hartnett.

 

Gone is the grittiness of the first and second Halloween, it’s sleeker and leaner, both in production design and direction. That said, it does feel set like at times, losing its on location feel synonymous with many of the other films. When Jamie Lee Curtis is on screen the film has weight and emotion but outside that it plays against the genre ‘rules’ with false scares, red-herrings and quip dialogue reminiscent of the Scream series courtesy of writers Robert Zappia and Matt Greenberg.

 

 


Note worthy is Adam Arkin playing Strode’s boyfriend and LL Cool J is fine as the security guard although arguably too humorous. The rest of the supporting cast are Myers fodder. There’s a nod to Psycho with a cameo by Janet Leigh real life mother of Jamie. Chris Durand’s take on the Michael/Shape is realised well, he’s both menacing yet oddly vulnerable this coupled with Curtis performance holds the film together. Jamie Lee Curtis is pretty much faultless as a troubled individual and over concerned mother.

 

 

Director Steve Miner gives an eerie edge at times with reflections, Strode’s visions and the vanishing Shape. Miner creates some interesting set pieces, Strode hiding in the chapel like hall, confronting Michael in the kitchen and the van crash. Although the kills throughout are nerve racking and well executed with good effects it also feels glossy and staged. This may possibly be due to so many slasher films over the years numbing audiences to the blood and violence.

 

Halloween: Resurrection (2002)

 

A group of students win a competition to spend a night in the house of killer Michael Myers while it’s broadcast on an Internet. However, Michael is living in a below his childhood house and the killings begin.

 

 

Continuing the continuity of H20, Resurrection takes the viewer back to Haddonfield. Halloween II director Rick Rosenthal returns with a run of the mill horror affair. It looks good and is slickly edited but disappointingly suffers from the horror trend of the day. In the vein of Scream, it has smart talking characters, packed witty quips and answers it also borrows from ogles of video feed footage horror films.

 

Busta Rhymes puts in a surprisingly entertaining performance as Freddie Harris who goes head to head with Michael, this time played by stuntman Brad Loree. Tyra Banks character Nora is a copycat Courtney Cox’s Gale Weathers and gets little screen time. Like H20 the rest of the cast are just characters cut out from countless other films and meat for Michael to dispose of. The strong dark opening with Jamie Lee Curtis’ cameo is probably the most interesting and satisfying part of the film.

 

 

While trying to appeal to the teen film goers, it becomes the trend instead of setting it, this dilutes the scare horror factor that made Halloween successful.

 

As a plain slasher it’s an adequate ride, but lacks any of the previous Halloween magic including horror and fear.

 

Halloween (2007)

 

After being committed for 17 years in a mental institution, Michael Myers escapes and immediately returns to his hometown of Haddonfield where he begins a series of killings.

 

Despite how die-hard fans feel about giving Michael a background reasoning for his actions and departing from Carpenters scary unfounded killing motivations director Rob Zombie has chosen to include lengthy scenes of Michael as a young boy. This gives weight and credence to the character, Michael’s killing of animals, family and school issues follow a realistic progression mirroring real life serial killers. It’s clear that Zombie put some effort into the screenplays back story and its conception.

 

The characters have more shades of grey than its original counterpart. What Zombie does successfully is bring the fear factor back while constructing and surpassing the grittiness of the first. That said, as the perfect suburb setting is gone and the unsavoury world created by Zombie has a lesser contrast to the murderous Michael. In essence it’s a dark hopeless world that Michael already resides in, as oppose to the quintessential small town in the original that he assaults upsetting the calm balance.

Without drawing comparisons to the original the cast is very good, although very unlikable. Malcolm McDowell gives depth to Dr. Samuel Loomis and notable is Tyler Mane’s imposing and physical Michael Myers. There’s a lot of shock for shock values sake dialogue in Zombie’s screenplay similar to Devils Rejects. Some of what he puts on screen is gory and disturbing. There are many nods to the original and the inclusion of Danielle Harris from part 4 and 5 is appealing.

 

Overall, Zombie has made the film his own visually and retains the essence of Halloween, but arguably it’s an unnecessary remake. Halloween 2007 caters for Zombie fans and is only really appealing to those who are admirers of Rob Zombies harsh and unforgiving work.

 

Halloween II (2009)

 

Laurie Strode left mentally-traumatized after the Halloween day massacre finds herself dreading the one-year anniversary of the killings, unbeknownst to her Michael Myers sets about to finish what he started.

 

Writer director Rob Zombie returns with his trademark style. There’s more vulgar dialogue, violence and mayhem. But this time it’s all the more gritty, graphic and brutal. Zombie departs from the structure in original Halloween II and very little is set in a hospital. It isn’t a remake at all and Zombie takes it into a different direction.

Dr. Loomis has changed significantly hungry for notoriety, Laurie is has become an unhinged oddball and Michael a long haired homeless man who pops on a mask now and again. Michaels Mask is synonymous with Halloween and taking it away at times is like removing Freddy’s glove. Tyler Mane is not doubt menacing and makes a great Myers.

 

There are plenty of kills but like Zombie’s Halloween, there’s just nothing to like, especially the character of Laurie Strode. It’s not actress Scout Taylor Compton fault either, to Compton’s credit and the casting director she’s refreshing non Hollywood looking, its Zombie’s alienating screenplay that’s the issue. Oddly the visions of Michael’s dead mother played by Sherri Moon are the most interesting scenes of the film even if feeling somewhat misplaced.

 

As a grungy bizarre serial killer film Halloween 2 may appeal but as a Halloween movie it falls short of meeting expectations even more so than its predecessor. This leave the future of the Halloween series on a knife edge.
 

With Halloween closing fast there’s no better time to revisit some Halloween films, in this case the Donald Pleasence (O.B.E) ones, the Sam Loomis narrative.

Halloween Part III: Season of the Witch departs from the Michael ‘Mask’ Myers storyline and is a standalone film. Halloween H20 (Twenty Years later) saw the return of Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode but ignores part 4, 5 and 6. Needless Scream-alike Halloween Resurrection ironically killed the franchise, annihilating what was set up in H20. Then came Rob Zombie’s remakes. All of which I’ll share my thoughts on over some pumpkin pie in the future.

For now here’s a few ponderings on the films that cemented amoungst other great roles Donald Pleasence’s place horror history, introducing him to a new generation while in the process making William Shatner masks famous, turning them into the stuff of nightmares.

Halloween (1978)

A psychotic child institutionalised after committing several murders now as an adult escapes and goes on a mindless killing rampage. Can his doctor stop him?
John Carpenter’s 1978 [retrospectively] textbook horror slasher film is perhaps the most a perfect horror film, arguably Jaws (1975) will always have a plastic shark. What makes this different to many other babysitter stalker films is the production value, Carpenters direction and score that reeks of dread. Perfect leads include, heavy weight Donald Pleasence as Doctor Loomis and ever reliable Jamie Lee Curtis (Laurie Strode) as they try to out wit an escaped psychotic murderer.

Halloween is a well produced basic, yet essential horror that contains very little nudity or blood for this type of genre. What maybe a little tame for gore hungry audiences of today still remains a defining archetype horror film, as without the masked Michael Myers there wouldn’t be many of the horror’s there are out now.

A must see for any horror fan.

Halloween II (1981)

Laurie Strode is rushed to the hospital after the killing spree of Michael Myers. While Dr. Loomis hunts the streets for Myers the killer has already begin another murderous rampage at Haddonfield Hospital.

To the writer/producer team John Carpenter and Debra Hill’s credit it picks up where the first left off giving it a nice air of continuity. Halloween 2 is a basic killing spree sequel that builds on the suspenseful original with a revelation of who Strode really is but more so adds a lot of bloody deaths. That said, there’s little story and literally goes from one death to the next.

Jamie Lee Curtis plays the shell shocked ex-babysitter in distress perfectly although there is little room for her character to develop due to the scripts time scale. Donald Pleasence is as loopy and obsessed with Michael as ever and is the weight in this limited event. Dick Warlock plays Michael Myers and does a good job especially when taking a bullet or two. Although all the extras are Michael fodder they do enough to keep you interested.

Veteran Dean Cundey’s cinematography is the star of the show. Despite some choppy editing, possibly caused by Carpenters re-shoots and drawn out closing, Rick Rosenthal direction is more than satisfactory encompassing some suspense in the dark and ominous lit hospital.

Overall it builds on the unstoppable killing machine film concept and while not perfect it’s a good sequel to a series that arguably should have finished there.

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)

10 years after the events of the first & second Halloween Michael Myers escapes and returns to Haddonfield to hunt down his niece.

There’s a lot going on in this instalment that goes back to the roots of Halloween ignoring part three. Part 4 is grander, a police station is wiped out and locals turn vigilante. Teenage shenanigan’s go on that are more synonymous with slasher films that weren’t really present in part 2.

Despite being the fourth in a series and putting aside what the critics say Halloween Return of Michael Myers is a very strong entry.

It’s strength is not only Donald Pleasence’s great performance, take a look at the early gas station scene but it’s the likability of both Ellie Cornell and Danielle Harris’ characters. Thanks to Alan B. McElroy’s writing every character is fleshed out more than usual for the time and genre.

Harris is a good child actress and gives Jamie an air of realism. Whereas Cornell gives depth to Rachel’s moral issues and concerns. The supporting cast are all more than adequate including Beau Starr as Sheriff Ben Meeker. George P. Wilbur’s take on the Shape/Michael is debatably the best portrayal of killer in the series.

Credit should go to director Dwight H. Little and legendary producer Akkad for capturing the feel and the look of the first two instalments. Little makes good use of the lighting and music building some great tension, notably the rocking chair, rooftop scene and truck escape. The surprise ending fittingly echoes the first and 4 has the right mix of horror, action and suspense without the cringe worthy cheese that come with most copycat slasher pictures of the time. An underrated guilty pleasure.

Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)

Michael survives the shootings of Sheriff Meeker and his men and returns on October 31st with a vengeance.

In the tradition of Halloween II, Halloween 5 picks up where 4 left off then quickly moves forward a year. Danielle Harris plays Jamie niece of Michael once again and this time she is traumatised by previous events. Again Harris puts on a good acting show especially for a child actor as she seems genuinely haunted and harassed by Michael and her visions.

Due to the writers Bitterman, Jacobs and Othenin-Girard’s prerogative Ellie Cornell returns briefly as Rachel and is sadly missed for the majority of the film, which is a shame given that she set out good foundations for her character in 4. Donald Pleasence once again is Loomis and gives the film some credibility and weight. He’s obsessed to a point of madness putting pressure on the young child which is disturbing in itself. Don Shanks this time is Michael/The Shape and has an imposing presence, the car scene when he wears a different mask is particularly unnerving. He’s both subtle and brutal.

Five departs from the slasher flick formula adding a cult, supernatural and telekinetic physic connection that includes a mysterious man in black. Obligatory shower scene, teenage girls, cars and boyfriends cheapens it towards Friday the 13th territory. Although the story is uneven director Dominique Othenin-Girard and cinematographer Robert Draper give the film its own unique look with much of it shot in the daylight. It adds an air of uneasiness but lacks the ominous atmosphere of the 1; 2 and 4 until very late in the latter half.

The pacing of Revenge is off as the film is very muddled with a weak narrative linked by a series of false scares, misidentification and a few bloody killings. There’s an issue with the character of Tina (Wendy Kaplan) who for a short time inherits the role of Jamie’s protector. Kaplan lacks the credibility of Curtis or Cornell and the script doesn’t help her performance either as she aimlessly if forced to go from one scene to the next.

Even Alan Howarth’s score or the interesting spring a trap closing can’t make up for the padded middle segment. Sadly all the tension and suspense is crammed into the finale and retreads ideas from the forth, notably a Police Station assault. If Tina, the psychic link and the Man in Black had not been included the film may have perhaps turned out better leaving Loomis, Myers and Jamie being the focal point. This may have treaded old ground but it may have made Revenge more palatable.

It has some appealing moments mainly between Pleasence and Shanks or Harris and Pleasence but the scenes are few and far between.

Halloween (6): The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)

After Jamie Lloyd daughter of Laurie Strode gives birth, Michael Myers sets out to find his niece’s baby.

From the elaborate opening of an older Jamie giving birth and her frantic escape, Curse’s focus shifts from the menacing unstoppable killer slightly in place of a wider underground cult theme, hinted at in the previous instalment.

Myers obsessed Tommy Doyle (child survivor from the first film) played by Paul Rudd is fine in a main role. Minus scar makeup aged Pleasence does his best with the material he’s been given and plays the retired doctor Loomis superbly despite his age and weakened voice he still steals every scene. Actress Marianne Hagan’s Kara Strode is slightly wasted, fleeting in and out like her son Danny and many of the other characters. George P. Wilbur (who played Michael in Revenge) returns once again as The Shape with good screen presence and movement.

Anyone unfamiliar with the series may have a difficult time following the unnecessary convoluted story. The screenplay hints at a town moving on but doesn’t build on the theme, nor expand on Michael coming home. It has some interesting character dynamics but its cluttered like its predecessor with many new elements that the audience has to buy into including more characters to accept and warm to.

Alan Howarth and Paul Rabjohns’ music is edgy enough especially when coupled with the original theme. Director Joe Chappelle delivers elaborate deaths and Curse is well filmed with sharp editing, flashing images and slick dialogue but it is far removed from the simplistic, primal original concept.

Apparently it was a troubled shoot and many alternative scenes were shot, this may explain its unevenness. These issues spawned the notorious Producers Cut. Nevertheless, it’s just as inconsistent as this version. Curse suffers like the fifth entry injecting the needless cultist sect sub-plot, mysterious symbols and a physic kid. That said, even taken with a pinch of salt it’s still unsatisfying and you really feel the series has lost its way.

Worth seeing if only for Donald Pleasence’s last performance.

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.
Let Me In - Original Movie Poster - 2010Re-imagining, remake, version of,  re-boot or whatever you’d like to call them are ‘lazy’ big business, especially when you’re remaking a good film, and it’s not just old films that are subject of being remolded, having a cinematic remaking.
Let the Right One In Poster 27x40 K?re Hedebrant Lina Leandersson Per Ragnar
For example, Hammer’s most recent offering is ‘Let Me In’ (2010), a remake of the recent excellent Let the Right One In (2008). Hammer can’t fail with a successful director Matt Reeves at the helm.
Another is Quarantine (2008) a year after the originals release an unnecessary remake of Spanish horror [REC] (2007).
Rec (English Dubbed)Quarantine Art Poster Print
Halloween Art Poster PrintOld slasher classics John Carpenter’s Halloween ’78, remade by Rob Zombie in 2007. Friday the 13th 1980 remade in 2009. The harrowing I Spit on Your Grave (Day of the Woman) (1978) recently in 2010 and ’72’s The Last House On The Left again in 2009. …
Halloween Poster Movie 11x17 Jamie Lee Curtis Donald Pleasence Nancy Loomis P.J. Soles
It goes on and on and there are more in the pipeline and it doesn’t happen to just horror, it’s across all genres….   Arthur, The Karate Kid, The Taking Of Pelham 123 and Conan to name a few.
Friday the 13th Movie (Jason Standing) Poster Print - 24x36Friday the 13th (1980) - 11 x 17 - Style A
The Man Who Knew Too Much Poster B 27x40 James Stewart Doris Day Brenda de BanzieWhether you like remakes or not studios and film-makers have been doing this since as far back as the beginning of film, notably “The Great Train Robbery” (1903) remade in 1904. Even Hitchcock remade his own film,   The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) re-hashed in 1954.
I’ve put together a random selection of… let’s call them incarnations, both that I feel are good and bad for your perusal…
A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)
A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010 Original Movie Poster Freddy KruegerA badly burnt gardener is killing teenagers in their dreams, however, their deaths are not just random as these children are all linked by their past and their parents secret.
Wesley Strick and Eric Heisserer’s screenplay is never brave enough to develop the new ideas injected into A Nightmare on Elm Street which is a shame as Watchmen and Shutter Island lead Jackie Earle Haley is excellent as Freddy Krueger, but is rarely on screen.
Where as unnecessary remakes The Amityville Horror: (2005), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003) ,Halloween (2007) and Friday the13th (2009) to name a few tried to elevate the original concepts and add further depth, director Samuel Bayer’s Nightmare’ fails to do either and this latest offering is no better than Robert Englund’s last outing in 2003.
There a distinct lack of dreamlike quality for the most part. The lighting and sets are first-rate but the eerie, ominous atmosphere and build up of tension are missing. Just as there are glimmers, the return to the school, the parents decisions, Freddy’s return as so on, it never gives enough weight to the exposition or execution to those new ideas and your left with a hollow feeling and a few cheap jump scares.
With limited screen-time Clancy Brown, of Highlander (1986), steals every scene with his presence. Sub-characters Kris (Katie Cassidy) and Dean (Kellan Lutz) are missed early on. The acting of the rest of the cast is adequate, with a teen cast of familiar faces including, Rooney Mara and Thomas Dekker, but they are all to polished for the viewer to connect with them and feel any authentic fear. That said, Jackie Earle Haley limited time is welcomed and the Freddy makeup and costume is excellent. As too is the effective rework of the original music score.
Ultimately, A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) adds nothing new, either as a re-imagining, an addition/reboot to the series or a remake of the original. Even as standalone horror film it falls short and fails to give you nightmares.

Quarantine (2008)

Quarantine Art Poster PrintA television reporter and her cameraman are on call with a group of fireman. When they are called to an apartment building their night takes a turn for the worse… The building becomes quarantined confining them with the inhabitants who are infected by a virus that turns them into bloodthirsty killers.

If you’ve seen Rec (2007) this version adds nothing new. Director John Erick Dowdle and writer Drew Dowdle can’t fail as it’s almost a paint by number remake, only with English dialogue instead of the dubbed or subtitles of the original.

While Hostel’s Jay Hernandez give a great performance, the majority of the rest of the cast are less convincing. Quarantine it’s a lot sleeker in it’s execution and looks really good. That said, the griminess of REC has been lost and this version sadly loses the raw innate fear factor.

As a standalone point of view shot film it’s entertaining enough. Blood, gore, tension and claustrophobia but if you’ve seen the original it’s an unnecessary remake and cash-in on Rec (2007) made less than a year earlier.

Clash of the Titans (2010)
Clash of the Titans Movie (Sam Worthington) Poster Print - 24x36New sandals, old hat, Clash of the Titans is an enjoyable remake, but the original only made in 1981 doesn’t seem that long ago.
The 2010 version strength is that you don’t see sandals, Gods and monster adventure films much these days(unless they are made for TV). However, you cant help but think why remake Clash of the Titans when Jason and the Argonauts would have been more advantageous.
Sadly the score is pretty forgettable but the effects are great, minus a disappointing CGI Medusa. The old world feel is captured perfectly credit to director of photography Peter Menzies Jr. the locations are breathtaking, Sam Worthington is a reliable as the an action hero but his character is underdeveloped. There are some great performances by Mads Mikkelsen and heavy weights Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes. The rest are a mixed bag, yet Gemma Arterton is startling first-class as to is the almost unrecognisable Jason Flemyng as Calibos. However, if you’ve seen the original, Calibos like Perseus lacks characterisation.
Apart from a few tweaks, director Louis Leterrier’s version retreads the first. While it exceeds it predecessor in some parts, thankfully there’s no owl, it includes the Sheikh Sulieman; Lo; scorpions; Pegaus and flying monsters; in places it fall short of the original -The Medusa scene;the training of Perseus and Calibos role.
Nevertheless, it’s a fun adventure film and I’d happily watch an inevitable sequel.
Dawn of the Dead (2004)
Dawn of the Dead (Widescreen Unrated Director's Cut)A group of strangers take refuge in shopping mall, in a desperate attempt to survive a zombie outbreak.
You know Michael Cain once said, to paraphrase, ‘why do they always bloody remake good films, they should remake the bad ones’. Of course I agree with this, but Michael went on to star in the remake of Get Carter and Sleuth. So to follow in Michael’s foot steps and do a u turn, I’d like to state the re-imagining/remake of Dawn of the dead is a blast.
Although I love George’s original Dawn of the dead, with his traditional slow moving dead, the zombies in this remake Directed by Zack Snyder (who went on to direct 300 & Watchmen) move fast. The fast moving are like the virus infected people in 28 days/weeks later. They are just plain menacing and bloodcurdling.
Zack Snyder directs a solid cast of relatively unknowns, Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames and Jake Weber. The body of the story is the same as the original only this time a nurse, a policeman, a young married couple, a salesman, and other survivors arrive at a shopping mall for protection from the hordes of zombies that await outside.
The effects are excellent and the first 15 minutes of the film is crafted and executed to a standard that I’m sure Hitchcock would have been proud of – it’s pure tension, scares and horror.
In retrospect Dawn of the dead 2004 is probably the most underrated re-imagining/remake ever. Grab a raw steak and watch it if you don’t believe me.
Night of the Living Dead (1990)
Night of the Living Dead (1990)Before horror remakes became popular and the the term ‘reboot’ was only used for computers Tom Savini horror effects maestro directed the remake of the black & white classic Night of the Living Dead. Originally Savini worked on Dawn of the Dead and other films directed by zombie godfather George. A .Romero, his gory effects were influenced by the real life deaths he witnessed in Vietnam.
The secluded and atmospheric location works a charm and Candyman’s Tony Todd is on top form but the film is let down by some bad performances from the supporting cast, who I wont name.
Savini proves he is a competent director. He makes the wise decision to stick close to the original material giving us a pacier update, a coloured version that comes with a few welcomed tweaks to the story line. It’s worth every zombie bite.
Planet of the Apes (2001)
Planet Of The Apes - 2001 - Advance Movie Poster (Size: 27" x 39")Remake, re-imagination whatever you’d like to label it as, Planet of the Apes (2001) is inferior to the original 1968 film in almost every way.
That said, the make up is excellent, Tim Roth as Thade is fantastic, Colleen Atwood costumes are notable and Danny Elfman’s thumping score is an achievement. The spaceship sets and on the location night scenes have a unique atmosphere and edge about them. Even Mark Wahlberg tries his best to handle the half-baked script and there are a few welcomed cameos from some of the original cast.
On the flip side there’s some choppy editing, an uneven story, the ape city and the sandy finale are emotionless and uninspiring. Slipped in is some unnecessary humour, usually supplied by Paul Giamatti (aptly named Limbo) and you never feel any danger or threat from the apes apart from Thade. Also, there’s no likable characters to really root for. Nevertheless, nothing can save nominated director and visionary Tim Burton’s incarnation of Apes.
The fist ten minutes and the last two are probably the most attention-grabbing of this version but with an estimated budget $100,000,000 there’s no excuse for the travesty in between. Let’s hope Caesar: Rise of the Apes (2011) can put the series on track.
Red Dragon (2002)
Red Dragon - 2002 - Original 27x40 Movie Poster - Anthony Hopkins - CollectibleComedy director Bret Rattner gives us Red Dragon. Ex-FBI agent Will Graham is assigned to help track down a serial killer; with the aid of the notorious criminal genius Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lecter who he imprisoned.
Based on Thomas Harris novel inevitable comparisons between Michael Mann’s Manhunter (1986) are unavoidable due to the same source material- in essence it is a remake.
It is big budget event including an expensive supporting cast Emily Watson, Ralph Fiennes and Philip Seymour Hoffman to name a few. The usual provoking Edward Norton sadly gives a monotone performance as Will Graham and those who are familiar with Manhunter will be disappointed. Memorable Anthony Heald reprises his role as Dr. Frederick Chilton and Frankie Faisonis is once again Barney Matthews. Anthony Hopkins is back as Dr. Hannibal Lecter, set before Lamb’s and Ridley Scott’s Hannibal it’s an odd casting choice if only from an aesthetic point of view because if his age. Also as in the casting of Julianne Moore in Hannibal, Harvey Keitel as Jack Crawford is peculiar from a link point of view as Scott Glenn was just as good. So there really was no need to have cast Hopkins as Lecter as continuity isn’t an concern for the producers here.
Danny Elfman’s score is surprisingly mediocre and uninspiring. Dante Spinotti’s cinematography is noteworthy and every scene looks great with some fantastic lighting, especially when there’s a big set piece. Rattner’s film over all is fine looking, well constructed and is as well polished as most of the actors. Nevertheless, despite a great cast ensemble and a budget, Red Dragon lacks the ominous edge of its predecessors.
To it’s credit it is worth watching if only for the opening scene and the joy of seeing Hopkins (albeit older) lurking in his (Slience of the Lambs) cell.
Shutter (2008/I)
Shutter Original Movie Poster, 27" x 40" (2008)A married couple discover ghostly images in the photographs they develop and they discover a spirit of a dead girl is seeking vengeance.
Shutter was released the same year as the Mirrors (2008), in the wake of other successful remakes of Asian chillers including the exceptional Dark Water. This offering is as average as it’s 2004 predecessor, screenplay writer Luke Dawson injects the Americanisms and little else. There are good solid performances by Joshua Jackson and Rachael Taylor, with the template already set director Ochiai does a more than satisfactory job. He also makes the wise choice of using Japanese locations than sets, which are striking at times.
Regrettably, everything is forgettable and it not the films fault. It’s the fact that if you’ve seen any recent Asian remakes The Grudge for example; you know ten minutes in what the twist is going to be. There are some creepy moments and it’s better than most of the remake batch including films such as the teen orientated One Missed Call (2008)and Pulse (2006).
Shutter is competently spooky,with some nice effects and to its credit a lot better than the endless supply of teen horrors that are doing the rounds.
The Amityville Horror (2005)
Amityville Horror Original Movie Poster, 27" x 40" (2005)The Amityville Horror (2005) is a very effective, yet, an unnecessary remake of the The Amityville Horror (1979) which was based on a book, based on an account by the real life Lutz’s who credibility was questionable.
Although it is based on a true story the only fact is that the DeFeo family, the first occupants of the home, were killed by their son.
Amityville Horror 2005 is creepy, genuinely jumpy, well written and directed. It’s an enjoyable horror film. There are some spine-tingling, moments enhanced by the eerie music by Steve Jablonsky who has gone on to score bigger films. In the same way Rachel Nichols stands out in a brief role, which probably got her a lot of roles in other horror films. Ryan Reynolds, as George Lutz is first rate as you see his character progressively change and Melissa George is reliable as usual.
It’s an effective remake but you can’t help but think they could have just made an original haunted house horror film with such clearly talented people.
The A-Team (2010)
The A-Team Poster Movie (11 x 17 Inches - 28cm x 44cm) Liam Neeson Bradley Cooper Jessica Biel Sharlto Copley Patrick Wilson Quinton 'Rampage' JacksonRumours have circulated for a long time about the possibility of an A-Team movie, we’ll it’s here. Based on The A-Team (1983) which hasn’t aged to well but still has a charm of it own, the 2010 incarnation follows Iraq War veterans looking to clear their name with the U.S. military.
The cast, Joe Carnahan direction, effects are great, the tweaks and changes to update the A-Team into 2010 are fitting. Although that allure and humour of the original has somehow been lost. That said there are a few good one liners. A stand out one from Murdock is – “You can’t park there, that’s a handicap zone,” in the context of what’s happening on screen at the time is hilarious.
Jessica Biel, along side bad guys Brian Bloom and Patrick Wilson give good performances and weight to the story. It has its faults, while Bradley Cooper puts in a great performance he’s the only character that appears very different to the original Dirk Benedict’s ‘Faceman’. Also there’s a distinct lack of Colonel Hannibal Smith disguises. Nevertheless, Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson portrayal of B.A is notable and Sharlto Copley’s interpretation of Murdock is praiseworthy.
There’s plenty going on, double crossings, tremendous action scenes and escapes. For this film not to surpass the tacky fun Saturday evening show it would have been a crime with the budget and talent thrown at it.
It’s good fun but lacks that wow, revisit factor. With expectations lowered, if there’s to be a sequel I’m sure Liam Neeson and company will look more comfortable in 1983’s A-Team shoes given a second outing.
The Crazies (2010)
The CraziesThe story briefly… A small town is suddenly plagued by insanity after a toxin contaminates their water supply.
I’m a George Romero fan, but I didn’t enjoy the 1973 cult classic as much as his zombie films or this version. It’s very rare I salute remakes, especially needless ones. However, The Crazies is an exception to the rule. Breck Eisner direction is effective and the writing is excellent, stopping it falling into b-movie territory. My only negative remarks are that there were too many ‘getting saved at the last second moments’ and an unnecessary CGI driven ending.
The film plays on fear of dying and isolation. There’s lots of gore, tension and atmosphere. Radha Mitchell and the underrated Timothy Olyphant are excellent as they convincingly fight for survival against the town folk that have turned crazy. Joe Anderson deserves a mention as the deputy.
If you like 28 days later, you love this.
The Invasion (2007)
2007 The Invasion 27 x 40 inches Russian Style A Movie PosterRemake of remakes and based on Jack Finney novel, thankfully The Invasion borrows more from Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) and as a plus doesn’t try to recreate its daring chilling ending, coming up with its own penultimate finish.
The supporting cast are great and include ’78’s Veronica Cartwright. It is a fine cast ensemble that reunites Jeffrey Wright and Daniel Craig in two effective roles as they help Carol Bennell played by Nicole Kidman find her son and stop a virus that is turning humans into ‘perfect’ emotionless shells of themselves.
Already off to a head start, based on such excellent source material director Oliver Hirschbiegel brings David Kajganich interesting screenplay to life. It’s subtle at times but injects plenty of foot and car chases. The on location shooting sells the tension as you see the city’s people change. Make up effect are fantastic and not too overboard. The good use of lighting, camera angels backed up with a nail biting score helps to heightening the paranoia as everyone Bennell knows becomes one of ‘them.’
Kidman’s endless supply of unnecessary fitted clothing and botox aside, she gives a good performance and despite some surprisingly already dated effects shots of microscopic virus the film is well crafted.
Overall, if not compared to its predecessors, The Invasion ticks all the boxes as a retelling of a character driven, sharp, thrilling sci-fi.
The Omen (2006)
The Omen (2006) (OST)Remakes of good films are always unnecessary, remake the bad ones. Never the less, notable horrors The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003) Dawn of the Dead (2004), and The Amityville Horror (2005) success paved the way for remakes of ‘classic’s’.
The Omen (2006) is no exception, basically the same as it’s 1976 predecessor there are a few tweaks to the story but the core plot remains the same, an American ambassador comes to terms with the fact his son is literally the Antichrist.
It’s a star studded cast including the likes of David Thewlis, Pete Postlethwaite, and Michael Gambon who give more than adequate supporting performances. Note worthy is Mia Farrow as the nanny, an elegant, intelligent and creepy Mrs. Baylock. Julia Stiles is on form as the mother who senses something is wrong with her child and Liev Schreiber is excellent as the father Robert Thorn, who holds a secret about their son. It’s fast paced and you see glimpse of Damien ageing from new-born via home videos. Arguably the child actor is not as menacing as the children in recent horrors but is effective enough, as most of the frivolities happen when he’s not on screen.
The film is superbly crafted by director John Moore, the locations and David Seltzer’s well written screenplay give the film a realist weight. Even though there’s some over saturated post-production lighting, the movie has a terrific ominous look, containing plenty of rain and shadows. Accompanied by Marco Beltrami’s excellent music score remarkable creepy scenes include a visit to a monastery and cemetery, Thorn’s meeting with Postlethwaite’s priest and some eerie dream sequences.
Cheap jump scares aside and without drawing comparisons to the original, The Omen is a very intriguing and entertaining horror thriller that is worth your time.
The Thing (1982)
1982 The Thing 27 x 40 inches Style D Movie PosterAn atmospheric understated sci-fi at it best. I’ll never understand how Carpenter lost the lustre in some of the other film he made, nevertheless, his Thing is one of his best movies and also once of the best sci-fi movies ever. Despite being based on the same source material (before remakes were popular) the thing has a look and feel of it’s own and is very different from its 50’s counterpart.
The isolated setting, the astounding cinematography and scenery creates intrigue; drawing you in from the very beginning. It’s a perfect horror/sci-fi cocktail of Ennio Morricone’s haunting foreboding score, Rick bakers benchmark practical effects (which are unsurpassed) Carpenters claustrophobic set ups and Bill Lancaster screenplay.
It’s rare that every single actor is exceptional and supplied with effective dialogue. All the cast from Kurt Russell to Wilford Brimley as Blair are all captivating, great casting by Anita Dann. The characters have their own issues and as the paranoia sets in relationships are forged and other broken, building to a bold and satisfying conclusion.
This is more than just a cult film with a ‘monster’ hiding in warm places surrounded by snow, it’s a finely tuned science fiction horror masterpiece.
The Wolfman (2010)
Wolfman Original Movie Poster, 27" x 40" (2010)The Wolfman is a fanciful looking film and a good remake of The Wolf Man (1941). It also has a reminiscent atmosphere of the old Hammer movies.
Joe Johnston proves once again he is a more than effective director. As a bonus werewolf effects veteran Rick Baker provides the some of the special make-up effects and a brief cameo. Danny Elfman gives a wonderful and fitting score, the whole film has a great Gothic ambiance to it.
Anthony Hopkins (who I usually love) as Sir John Talbot comes across lazy and uninspiring in this particular role and at times the film is too CGI driven. However, Benicio Del Toro is the perfect Wolfman and Hugo Weaving is ideal as the witty Scotland yard Inspector who has some great moments.
Itdoesn’t have the crispness of Branagh’s Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, but is far more enjoyable than Coppola’s Dracula.
For old school horror monster fans it’s a delight. All in all it’s a fitting retelling of a classic monster movie.
My Bloody Valentine (2009)
My Bloody Valentine 3D Original Movie Poster, 27" x 40" (2009)Based on George Mihalka’s 1981 slasher and Stephen A. Miller’s story of the of the same name; a killer miner returns to a small town on the 10th anniversary of his killing spree to pick-axe the ones that got away but, is it really him?
What starts out as a teen-like slasher,such as Prom Night/Friday 13th,this quickly feels more grounded when the story moves 10 years on. There’s lots of gore and the killings are bloody and have been executed with some great effects. My Bloody Valentine is an above average stalker type gore slasher. The acting is a mixed bag of impressive performances by Kerr Smith and Jaime King, however, Supernatural’s lead Jensen Ackles is mediocre.
This remake doesn’t need the 3D gimmicks which actually spoil a few great moments of escapism, with it’s lingering close shots that cheapen the look of Brian Pearson’s cinematography.
What makes this better than most is the 1981 whodunit story and Todd Farmer and Zane Smith’s updated screenplay that sticks to the original, it’s little twists, the characters and the relationships are well written and explored. There’s plenty of drive and motivation even in the sub character’s including Tom Atkins and Kevin Tighe.
Overall, despite My Bloody Valentine’s faults it is surprisingly good due to the storytelling and satisfying conclusion.
I welcome Kiefer Sutherland with open arms as he’s in the land of TV far too often. Although he seems to lack the great range of his father Donald, he is a great underrated actor. Mirrors gives Kiefer plenty to play with, but as with so many Asian horror remakes that have been spat-out recently and while Mirrors is one of the better remakes, the story twist is something we’ve seen too many times.

No stranger to remakes director Alexandre Aja (The Hills Have Eyes remake and 2010’s Piranha 3-D) takes the viewer though paint by numbers stuff as Ben Carson (Kiefer), a former undercover detective, is forced to take a night time security job at a department store that was gutted by a fire. However, there is an evil lurking in the mirrors, an entity he must stop to save his family.

Lately, I wish all the PC’s in the world were stolen so I wouldn’t have to see another dodgy effect detract from an actor’s performance. While some effects are modest it’s the bad CGI that spoils some moments of scariness. When practical effects are used there’s one moment that would stop you ever looking into a mirror and taking a bath again.

Jason Flemyng shows up for a welcomed moment but seems to take his pay cheque and disappear as fast as some of the eerie atmosphere. Between Paula Patton and Amy Smarts (almost a cameo appearance) the acting is above average even down to the child actors who are at no time annoying.

Overall, Kiefer leaves his mark and it may not be the most original horror but at times it is certainly is creepy, not since Poltergeist and Poltergeist 3 have mirrors been so chilling.