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Sunday, 30 June 2013

The Human Centipede (2010).

I heard about the buzz for this film a few months before release. Friends were telling me how disturbing and gruesome it was, so as you can expect, my expectations for The Human Centipede (First Sequence) were set incredibly high. It was praised in magazines and on the net as one of the most disgusting and disturbing pieces of horror cinema in a long time. As people who have seen the film would understand, I came away disappointed and let down. While the idea is disturbing, the execution of the movie comes off as little more than a mad scientist movie, with very little character development or violence.

Two American women visit Germany, and are ready to party hard, when unfortunately they find themselves in the middle of nowhere with a flat tire. The girls head to a remote house for help, only to find it occupied by Dr. Heiter, who promptly drugs the women and uses them for his insane experiment, to create a human centipede by linking three bodies together, via mouth to anus, to create a creature with a singular digestive tract.

It seems The Human Centipede isn't interested in scaring the viewer. It seems to be more interested in creating a sense of revulsion in the viewer and showing mental degradation. The camera constantly lingers on the people who have been turned into the human centipede, showing their fear, their pain and their cries of agony and disgust. The movie seems to revel in the idea of torment, with Dr. Heiter rejoicing when the centipede has to defecate. The acting is sufficient all round, with Dr. Heiter being played especially well, with a calm and calculated calmness and arrogance. The other actors/actresses in the film do little more than act scared and cry and whimper, but it certainly works to the films advantage that they are so emotional, making the viewer really feel their desperation to escape from the situation they have unwillingly been put into.

For people expecting a gore fest, this film has very little gore, and even the surgical scenes are very restrained. The movie does toy with controversy in an interesting way, punishing the viewer with the suffering of the characters and the madness of Dr. Heiter. The sole reason The Human Centipede exists is to provoke a reaction from it's viewers. Casual horror fans may indeed be disgusted by what they see on screen, but anyone who has seen more than one underground horror movie will certainly not be impressed by the films restraint.

If you hear about this film, I wouldn't blame the viewer for thinking it would be played out like some B-movie joke fest, but the director (Tom Six) plays the film completely straight, devoid of any humor which even though you may want to laugh at some of the situations, they come across as rather disturbing, and that makes you second guess your reactions to what is going on in the movie. It is very possible this movie will divide audiences for years to come, with some finding it offensive and disturbing, and others finding it laughable and silly. Unfortunately for me, The Human Centipede does not deserve the acclaim it is given. It isn't graphic, doesn't push any boundaries of cinema and it isn't really shocking or scary in any way. The idea is gruesome, but the execution falls flat, and doesn't feature any extremity whatsoever, and that was what I found most disappointing.

Darkest regards......Dani.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Hellraiser (1987).

Clive Barker. A name not only synonymous with horror, but also with the fantastical. Never a man to stick to one art form, Hellraiser was Clive's directorial feature film debut. The film certainly came along at the right time, breathing life into a genre that had been swamped with slasher after slasher. Hellraiser managed to inject life back into a genre that seemed to be obsessed with the campy and comedic. The film is an original and gothic piece of cinema that has aged incredibly well, and still manages to disturb and nauseate to this day.

Frank has found a puzzle box that is said to unlock unlimited pleasures to man. He solves the box, which opens the door to The Cenobites, who proceed to show Frank exactly what was promised, although in a much more extreme way than the human mind could ever have imagined. He dies in a room of a house that is soon inhabited by his brother, his wife and his daughter. Larry (the brother) manages to cut his hand while carrying a mattress upstairs, and proceeds to go to Julia (his wife) who is reminiscing about a past affair she had with Frank. With Larry's blood spilling on the floor in the room that Frank died, Frank manages to escape from the Cenobites, and he uses Julia's devotion to him to bring him victims so that he can regain his full form. But the Cenobites don't like the fact that Frank has escaped them, and they will pursue him and take him back to where he belongs.

Hellraiser is a dark, passionate horror movie, and is so much more than a man with pins in his head. Each character is filled with so much emotion and darkness, it is hard not to care about them or despise them, depending on their actions. The Cenobites are nothing more than a plot device. Pinhead (or Lead Cenobite as he was known here) is not onscreen for long at all, and neither are his cohorts, but their appearances are still shocking and break up the family drama. Clive Barker really does have a way in showing beauty in horror, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the design of the Cenobites, their twisted and sadomasochistic look make them stand out like no other character in the film.

The movie refuses to explain much. We never get an idea where the Cenobites are from, but we get snippets of their agenda and what they represent which certainly makes them frightening. The real monsters in this movie though are Julia and Frank. When Julia evolves from housewife to psychopath, it is a rather wonderful metamorphosis. The character of Frank is despicable from the start. His re-birth is an incredible sight, and his skeletal form showcases some amazing effects work from Bob Keen. The movie certainy shows how far someone will go for love, or their next orgasm.

At it's most basic, Hellraiser is a story of a woman who will do anything to keep her dearly departed from leaving her. Whether it is because of love or lust, is never fully explored, but I suspect it is for the latter. The exploration of perversion, adultery and love is fascinating, and the movie has many layers to keep the viewer coming back to it again and again. Nowadays,Hellraiser may come across as slow to those more used to the quick editing and fast moving stories of the horror movies of today, Clive Barker easily manages to maintain an air of dread and tension throughout the movie, and it never manages to feel boring, always keeping the audience involved with the macabre and the bloody.

Darkest regards......Dani.

The First Power (1990).

I remember seeing trailers for this on many of the VHS I rented when I was a young boy, and it always appealed to me. When I finally got to see the movie, it didn't quite live up to the expectations I had for it, but then again, what can live up to the expectations of a twelve year old boy? Nevertheless, the killer was incredibly disturbing, and the way he taunted Lou Diamond Phillips' character sent shivers down my spine.

Detective Logan (Lou Diamond Phillips) is a cop who has gained a reputation for catching serial killers. His latest capture is satanic serial killer Patrick Channing (played chillingly by Jeff Kober), who sacrificed his victims in a ritualistic way. He is immediately sent to the gas chamber, which frees his evil spirit which then possesses weak minded people and continues with his killing spree, at least until Logan can put a stop to him for good this time.

The movie features an incredible number of over the top/silly situations, but for some reason, they never come across that way while watching. It is only after viewing the film do you realize how preposterous the situations the characters find themselves in are. Probably the scene that I remember most is when Channing tears down a ceiling fan and pursues Logan with it, with every bullet Logan fires being deflected by the fans spinning blades. The scene is played brilliantly, and shows Channing's single mindedness in his pursuit of murder.

While The First Power certainly isn't considered a horror movie by many, it contains enough horrific elements for me to consider it one. There is blood, a serial killer who cannot be stopped, satanism, possession and a few jump scares. While it does throw many cop and horror movie cliches around, it never feels labored, and the movie moves along at a swift pace, never allowing the viewer lose interest. 

The First Power is an intense movie. Lou Diamond Phillips' character is strong, but it is Channing who propels the movie forward. His aura of pure evil and maliciousness drives the story on and on. With each body he possesses, it seems he becomes even more venomous and evil. It is an amazing sight, and one that has certainly stuck in my mind. If you are a fan of supernatural movies with an occult theme, then The First Power will please you in every way. From the gripping and sometimes frightening story, to the over the top stunts and invincibility of the killer, the movie does not put a foot wrong throughout it's running time.

Darkest regards......Dani.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

World War Z (2013).

The first thing I want to say about World War Z is that I have never read the book. This is a review of the movie, and I will not be comparing it to it's literary partner. Secondly, blood and gore does not make a zombie film. Does anyone remember Wes Craven's The Serpent and the Rainbow? That was a bloodless film, and managed to still be scary without resorting to showing gallons of the red stuff. Thirdly, I admit I was incredibly skeptical about seeing this, and enjoying it seemed to be the last thing I would do. So you can understand just how surprised I was when the movie was over, and I found myself singing it's praises.

While horror fans everywhere are discounting World War Z's credibility as a horror film, I would like to stand up and say just how good it is. While the ending felt tacked on, and didn't really fit with the rest of the movies atmosphere, it was a disturbing look at what happens when society falls to the outbreak of a virus. It came across like a bloodless 28 Days Later, only with a better more involving story and much more emotion. Within minutes of being introduced to the main characters, the movie kicks into high gear and plunges the audience in the middle of a zombie apocalypse, and I found it breathtaking and scary.

While the majority of zombie movies are claustrophobic, World War Z sticks to wide open spaces, showing groups of the infected swarming any area they can get to. The CGI is rather sparse, and only the scenes featured in the trailers are obvious, if there was any more CGI used, it was seamless and unnoticeable. It is only Brad Pitts character that is given a large amount of screen time, although we see the bond between him and his family is strong with a little character development at the start, and this helps the viewer to invest in his mission and the safety of himself and his family.

Everyone else in the film, the viewer knows, isn't safe, and I feel it was knowing this that helped keep the tension high. This is one of the movies strongest selling points. World War Z really doesn't need gore, as it relies on that ancient horror tradition of creating an uncomfortable amount of tension that puts the viewer on edge, and it really does do that in pretty much every scene. The violence still packs a punch, and it doesn't need to show you exploding heads to get it's point across.

As mentioned before, the ending fell rather flat, and I felt it was tacked on, but I hear there is a darker ending, so I am hoping that they will include this on the DVD/Blu-Ray of World War Z. The ending certainly didn't match the pessimistic feel of the rest of the movie, and did leave me feeling a little underwhelmed, but it is a small niggle in the grand scheme of things, when everything that went before was so breathtaking.

The film shocked and surprised me at every minute. If you go in expecting a zombie film complete with blood and guts, of course you are going to be disappointed. Don't let the naysayers put you off, because World War Z is a damn good film. Go check it out!!!

Darkest regards......Dani.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Velvet Road (2011) short move review

I haven't seen many short films, but every time I am asked to review one, I become more and more impressed with the work the makers of these shorts do. They create such a strong feeling, such emotion, such horror in a short running time, that it really does never fail to impress me.

Velvet Road certainly manages to put an incredibly unique spin on the racially charged zombie movie. The time period it is set in, the sixties, really gives the film an incredibly dynamic and unsettling feeling. The way in which the characters stories intertwine and play out is breathtaking. The film has an atmosphere of loneliness and solitude that is prevalent throughout, and only adds to the goings on when the horror picks up the pace.

The story not only deals with the outbreak of a zombie virus, but it also infuses many different social and racial issues that make survival for the characters all the more difficult. The movie is set amidst racially inflamed tensions in the segregated south of America, and shows just how difficult it would be to survive a zombie attack in those times.

More than focusing on the zombies, this movie does something not done often, and focuses on the characters and their interactions with each other, and goes to show yet again that it isn't always the zombies that are the only monsters in these sort of films. Velvet Road shows you a mans plight against an incredible adversity, and how he can elevate himself in any kind of situation.

Velvet Road certainly is one of the most gripping and impressive short horror films I have had the pleasure of viewing, and I for one hope to see this transformed into a full length feature film one day.

Darkest regards......Dani.

Accion Mutante (1993).

Lets get one thing out of the way before I begin this review. This movie isn't a horror film in any way, shape or form. It is an incredibly black comedic science fiction tale with lashings of gore and very un-politically correct humor. The movie plays out very much like a Troma movie, and is so much fun, you really do forget about what genre of movie you are watching, and just sit back and enjoy the very wild ride.

Accion Mutante tells the story of a group of disabled/deformed people who are actually a terrorist group guessed it, Accion Mutante. Fed up of being outcasts in a society that favors the beautiful over the disfigured, the terrorist group drive around in a disused ice cream truck, and lead murderous raids on the rich and beautiful. Their latest mission is to kill an entire wedding party, and kidnap the bride. As the movie continues, we see loyalties falter and many meet their demise. We also get to meet a mutant cat!

Although the movie might sound cliche, I couldn't believe how fresh the whole thing felt.The movie is violent, hilarious and filled with great special FX and wince inducing humor. There is no way anyone can even guess where the story is heading next, and absolutely nothing is off limits (just check out the scene where a group of deformed people see a woman for the first time).

The characters in the movie are incredible, and while very few are likeable, most end up being hilarious in their maliciousness. It is incredibly obvious that the movie is interested in creating humor and gross out moments than developing it's characters into people the viewer can identify with.

The movie also features a political streak. I feel it was trying to say that everyone should be able to do what they want and not be ostracized for being crippled, deformed or having a mental/physical disability. Unfortunately, this does get lost amongst the gore and gross out humor, but it is still recognizable to the eagle eyed viewers out there.

While not for everyone, Accion Mutante will certainly appeal to fans of Alexandro Jorodowski and Troma, with it's outright weirdness and penchant for over the top characters and splatter. Nevertheless, it is definitely worth a viewing by all fans of underground cinema.

Darkest regards......Dani. 

Monday, 24 June 2013

Martyrs (2008).

The French are known for their take on horror, and how it pushes things to extremes. The hype that surrounded Martyrs on it's release was magnificent. I could barely open a magazine without someone proclaiming 'Martyrs is insanely gory' or 'It is the most brutal film ever made'. While Martyrs is a dark and uncompromising film, it certainly did not live up to the hype that surrounded it, at least on my first viewing. This movie is certainly a transcendent experience, and goes beyond simply watching a movie, as it implicates all of humanity in its brutalities. This movie, as Salo: 120 Days in Sodom before it shows the callousness of the powerfully rich towards others not as fortunate as themselves, and that absolute power corrupts.

The film tells the story of a young woman called Lucie, who was the victim of unspeakable torture all through her childhood. She grows up in an orphanage, making a single friend called Anna. We then are propelled fifteen years into the future, and we see Lucie murdering a family in a rather brutal way. Lucie tells Anna that the family were responsible for her torture. Is she insane? Is this the way she normally behaves, going house to house and slaughtering families? The movie answers these questions and throws a lot more your way during it's running time.

Martyrs is the sort of experience many will not enjoy. It's violence is brutally honest, and it's reasoning is utterly realistic. Martyrs is many things. It is an art house movie, a study of the human state, a horror movie and an analysis of religious extremism. It manages to encompass all of these things and create a truly disturbing vision and unsettling vision.

I will admit to being severely disappointed with Martyrs upon first viewing. It wasn't until my second viewing that the power of the movie hit me. The film certainly makes it's points well, and isn't afraid of using terrible violence to show just how dark humanity is. The movie may throw a lot at you, but the ending couldn't be more beautiful and sickening in it's brutality, and there was certainly a method to all of the madness that went on before the truly shocking finale. Whether it was right or not is left totally to the viewer, and maybe that is one of the most disturbing aspects of this movie.

It doesn't tell you how to feel. It isn't saying anything in the movie is wrong or right. It lets you make your own choice. This is a movie that welcomes you to think about it's outcome and all that went before. The movie certainly takes you through many emotions. It is intense, disorientating and upsetting, but it is also strangely uplifting. The end of the movie is such a shock, it will have you questioning your very own existence. That is how powerful Martyrs is.

Darkest regards......Dani.

Plotdigger Films 'Collar' Indiegogo campaign.


Collar is the new movie from Ryan Nicholson and it needs YOUR help. The movie stars James Duvall and Nick Principe, and is set to 'Take the viewer on a journey to Hell when a rookie cop becomes the helpless victim of a satanic derelicts trap.

So far, $1,740 has been raised out of a total of $25,000 goal. The perks for donating to this movie are killer, and feature such things as a download of the finished movie, to an executive producer credit and a walk on role where you will get killed by Nick Principe.

Collar isn't a typical Plotdigger movie. It is truly horrific, and was created from a nightmare Ryan Nicholson suffered from that disturbed the living hell out of him. This is the guy that made Hanger and Gutterballs amongst other movies. For this project to disturb him, it must be pretty sick if you ask me.

He is even giving all of you people who have illegally downloaded a Plotdigger movie to repent for your sins by donating $10 to the project. Lets face it, if people hadn't illegally downloaded Plotdigger movies, I am sure Ryan Nicholson would not be running an Indiegogo campaign!

You can check out the Indiegogo campaign by clicking the link below, and if you can't donate, then please share it with as many people as you can. Ryan Nicholson is a true visionary in horror cinema, and he takes no prisoners with every one of his films. Let's all help him create what is bound to be a disturbing masterpiece!

Click here to visit Collar's Indiegogo campaign page.

Darkest regards......Dani.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Sledge (2013).

What really irritates me about people who review micro budget movies is the fact they say the filmmakers have no talent, that they are just messing around in their backyards with a camera and lots of fake blood. I don't think they even begin to realize how much of a daunting task making a movie must be. Maybe if they took a moment to consider, they might see micro budget films in a different light.

Sledge is a movie within a movie, and is a triumph in every way. Assly, who is a werewolf puppet presents Assly's True American Horror, and tonight they are running a film called Sledge. In the movie, a group of young people venture out for a camping trip that leads to..well, it leads to murder. Murder and lots of blood. The place where they choose to stay is the rumored stalking place of Adam Lynch (a character who is named after Hatchet creator Adam Green and his co-star in Holliston Joe Lynch).

Sledge is the debut movie of writer/director Kristian Hanson. He has crafted a movie that has so much in common with the classic 80's slasher movie, that if I didn't know any better, I would have thought this movie came straight from that time period. The movie is purely and simply fun in every sense!

The running time is perfect, the characters work well together, and the bonds of friendship really do shine through. The killer is a great creation, and I really could see a franchise being created around Adam Lynch and his awesome sledgehammer. The kill scenes are nice and bloody, and there is some crazy humor running through the movie, which all add to the 80's vibe going on throughout the movie.

Sledge is another great micro budget movie, and yet again proves that heart and passion count for when money isn't an option. The movie shines in every aspect, and anyone with a taste for slasher (or should that be smasher) films will love the crazy goings on in Sledge.

Darkest regards......Dani.

Shadow People (2013).

Shadow People is an incredibly creepy movie, at least before everything unravels in the final act. Before that, it certainly managed to make me jump more than once, and it's use of found footage, such as Youtube clips, news reports and cassette tapes make an otherwise thin story line more well rounded. The movie features no blood and gore, but rather relies on a creeping sense of dread to make the audience succumb to the horror of the situations on screen.

A radio show presenter gets a call one night from a teenager who claims he sees figures surrounding his bed. The presenter dismisses the call as a hoax, but later takes a deeper interest when they find out that the teenager dies of unexplained causes. This causes the presenter to do some digging, and he learns some experiments a local professor did in the seventies. The professor, who is dead, has a grave in the cemetery, even though it is said he was cremated, which leads the radio show host to wonder what is buried in the grave?

It is such a shame that the movie is so intriguing up to a point, and then it settles for thrills which fall flat and an ending that is incredibly weak. The constant references to the 'real' videos, interviews etc are frightening, and certainly do add an element of real fear to the proceedings. The movie is incredibly light on special FX, and is from the 'less is more' category of movies, and in this respect, it does work well. The director manages to litter the scenes of the movie with a sense of dread that certainly does get under the viewers skin, even though it falls flat at the end.

The movie feels like a throwback to the atmospheric movies of the past, rather like Session 9. It isn't a perfect movie in any way, but it is effective up to a point, and it manages to generate a feeling of tension without resorting to gory special FX or on screen ghosts. The added realism certainly gives the movie an upper hand, and fleshes out what would certainly be a weak story without it.

If you enjoy movies that get under your skin with very little on screen magic, then Shadow People is for you. While not perfect, it is an effective and atmospheric supernatural chiller that certainly makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up and makes you look over your shoulder before switching the light off. It's just a shame the ending was so weak, and the third act falls short of what was promised before.

Darkest regards......Dani.

Hatchet III (2013).

Once again, Kane Hodder returns as the superhuman killer Victor Crowley in Hatchet III. When I first heard about the sequel being green lit, I was excited. Then I heard Adam Green would not be directing, which after the mess he made of Hatchet II got me even more excited. Ultimately, Hatchet III succeeded where Hatchet II failed, but is it too little too late?

The movie begins where Hatchet II finished, with Mary Beth finishing Victor Crowley for good, or so she thinks. She heads to a police station, where she is quickly arrested and locked up. As police officers and medics swarm the swamp, Crowley comes back to life, while Mary Beth is introduced to a reporter who is also the ex wife of the local sheriff, who is obsessed with Victor Crowley and says she knows how to finally lay him to rest for good.

Hatchet III is a vast improvement over Hatchet II in almost every way. Unfortunately, there are no surprises, not even in the way Crowley dispatches his victims, which came across as disappointing. It was nice to see Parry Shen again in the series. He played a tour guide in the original movie, the tour guides twin brother in the sequel, and a completely unrelated medic in this film.

The movie certainly isn't slow, and it shows that Adam Green (who wrote this sequel) has certainly listened to the fans after the lacklustre second outing. Director B.J McDonnell did a great job with what he was given, and manages to tie up the trilogy nicely and keep the pace lively. The movie just didn't feel fresh to me. I can't say that I didn't enjoy it, but none of the kills impressed as much as the head split from Hatchet, which was a shame, because that bought something audiences of slasher movies hadn't seen before. Hatchet III also has a lot of energy compared to the last outing. This one moves briskly along, and is all the more enjoyable because of it. The humor is also reigned in and is not as prevalent. When this movie does try to be funny, most of the time it works. There are a couple of instances where the dumb humor of the previous sequel returns, but it doesn't hinder the movie half as much.

I'm certainly not saying I didn't enjoy the film, but I have to be honest, and while it was much stronger than Hatchet II, the third film was a little underwhelming. As someone who has been following these movies since before the first Hatchet was released, Hatchet III does have the same level of energy and enthusiasm as the original movie, but it also retains some of the dumb humor and unoriginal kills we saw in the second film. Maybe I am wrong for holding out hope that the Hatchet movies will introduce new ways for Crowley to kill people, but I feel that is what made the original movie, and part of why the second movie failed. While Hatchet III is certainly a bloodbath, it just seems as though Victor Crowley is going through the motions.

Hatchet III is fun, it is enjoyable, and if you don't expect to see anything new, it is a great sequel that is bigger in scope than the previous movie. While not perfect, Hatchet III is a great way to wrap up the series, and will appeal to any slasher movie fans out there with a hankering for slaughter.

Darkest regards......Dani.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

House (1986).

House is another movie that I rented a lot from our local rental store when I was younger, and it has stayed with me ever since. The cover first drew me to the film, the decomposed hand looking incredibly enticing to my young 8 year old monster obsessed eyes. The film was even more enticing, featuring monsters, a zombie, machine gun wielding pterodactyls and the dismemberment of a blue demon and subsequent disposal of the body parts that would make even the most miserable horror fan chuckle.

The story is about a Vietnam veteran whose career as a horror novelist takes a turn for the worse when his son mysteriously disappears while he is visiting his aunts house. The main character then goes back to his aunts house and discovers it is a gateway for evil, and he is also plagues by his memories of an old friend he left behind in Vietnam.

There are some amazing special FX in the movie, like the war demon that attacks the main character from out of the closet, or the gardening equipment which seems to have a life of it's own. A scene that always disturbed me was a wall mounted fish coming back to life. It still makes me cringe to this day.  Weird visions continue to plague the lead character, and many creatures and memories cross over into our world. The way the story develops is gripping, and the monsters never fail to raise a smile or a shiver.

House is an awesome ride, very much like a Ghost Train, full of jumps, scares and laughs. It's such a great blend of disgusting creatures and horror comedy, that it is one of my favorite horror comedy films ever. There may be many disturbing creatures in the movie, but there is a distinct lack of blood and gore, and all of the scenes that should be filled with tension are played out in a lighthearted manner. This certainly works in the movies favor though, as things never become too horrific, keeping a nice balance between horror and comedy.

I loved the way that the movie had you constantly guessing if the main character was going insane, or if it was the house that was haunted. The things that happen to him are inventive and while often cliched, work to the films advantage every time. Never has watching someone think they are crazy been so much fun. Another three sequels were released, to little or no fanfare whatsoever. In my opinion, House is one of the funniest, craziest 80's horror movies out there, and I would be happy to recommend it to everyone.

Darkest regards......Dani.

Doyle - Abominator (2013) album review.

2013 - Self Released

First of all, I would like to thank my brother for lending me his Advanced copy of Doyle's Abominator, that he picked up when he was lucky enough to go and see Danzig perform with Doyle as a special guest in Wolverhampton.

Here is a track by track review of Abominator.

Opening track Abominator comes off like Misfits jamming with Iron Maiden with hints of Pantera. It seems that Doyle has fully embraced the metal style the Misfits were hinting at on American Psycho and Famous monsters. There is an incredibly heavy mid section in the opening track that is almost reminiscent of Black Sabbath. This new outfit certainly has some power!

Second track Learn to Bleed is an uptempo riff-a-thon, bringing to mind Danzig era misfits but with a harder metallic edge. Vocalist Alex Wolfman Story has an incredibly powerful voice, gruff and brutal one minute, then melodic the next. He reminded me of Tim 'Ripper' Owens, Glenn Danzig and Michale Graves but with a lower range and even more malevolence and brutality.

Dreamingdeadgirls comes next, and is a real headbanger!! A rhythmic riff blends with the Abominable Dr Chud's awesome drumming and Left Hand Graham's bottom heavy bass work. This brings to mind Pissing Razors in its verses, then hits you with a nostalgic Misfits chorus, and yes, it really is that catchy! Theguitar solo really sounds like it belongs in a Pantera song, with lots of whammy being used, and it almost bought a tear to my eye.

Headhunter is next, and this sounds like it belongs on American Psycho or Famous Monsters, but looses the cartoony feeling many of the songs on those abums had. This is brutal! Doyle certainly isn't playing around! Every track so far beats you around the head with it's hardcore/punk meets metal style!

Valley of the shadows lurches at you and grabs you by the collar, beating you into submission with yet another killer riff, and an amazing chorus that will stick in your mind for days to come. The main riff really does bring Metallica to mind, but it seriously is so much better than anything that band have put out over the last twenty years. The song then surprises you by picking up speed and increasing the brutality even more.

Land of the Dead is next, and slows things down a little, and this is where Doyle most sounds like his past venture. This song oozes atmosphere and again, the chorus is killer! This song really does sound like a Misfits track, and that's a testament to just how much power Doyle held when in that band. The riffs, just like the man are monstrous!!

Cemeterysexxx begins with such a stomping riff that I find it impossible not to nod my head along with a shit eating grin on my face. The vocals are more tame in this song, and it works so well, coming across as malevolent, before the chorus kicks in and again buries itself into your brain. I am having a hard time deciding which is catchier, the hooks and choruses or the amazing riffs Doyle is blasting out!

Love Like Murder comes to life with a doomy riff that again brings Black Sabbath and Danzig to mind. This song takes the pace down considerably. It's bluesy in it's execution, and has that dirty dark feeling to it that Danzig pulls off so well. Halfway through, the song picks up speed before coming back in with that dirty blues riff.

Mark of the Beast starts with a single lead guitar, then breaks into another headbanger of a riff, before letting the vocals come in with short sharp riffs behind them.This is metal, and done incredibly well. Doyle has certainly improved as a song writer, and it shows on every single track so far!

Bloodstains again shows off Doyle's ability to come up with amazing riff after amazing riff, the stop/start guitar working incredibly well. This song brings to mind Rob Hafords project Fight, before again speeding up and rushing towards the end, this song is breathtaking. The chorus is almost Pantera-like in its brutality, and again, is another earworm that will implant itself in you for days afterards.

Hope Hell is Warm is the final track, and is an uptempo headbanger that is a great end to a fantastic album. Containing a couple of great solo's and a number of killer riffs, the vocals pushing to the front of the cacophany with ease. The chorus again as catchy as anything that came before.

From the very first moment that the first track bursts out of the speakers, you can tell this album is going to be one hell of a ride, and the band certainly do not disappoint in any way! This collection of songs is awesome. They show that there is beauty in brutality, and it isn't only Doyle that is monstrous, his songwriting and his riffs are too!! The band shows that they are not stuck in the past, and are content with moving forever forward with a heavy and brutal sound that doesn't sound tired. Check this album out whether you are a Misfits fan, Danzig fan or just a casual metal/punk fan. You will not be disappointed!

Darkest regards......Dani.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Manhattan Baby (1982).

Manhattan Baby tells the tale of an Egyptologist's daughter, who is given an amulet which causes her to be possessed by an evil spirit. When the family return home, the spirit causes a number of unexplained deaths. That is basically as much plot as I could gather from the numerous times I have sat through this movie. To call it confusing does not do this movie justice. It just seems to be segments that make no sense thrown together to make a feature length movie.

 Let me start this review off by saying I am a huge Lucio Fulci fan. City of the Living Dead is one of my top 10 favorite movies. It really is hard to believe that the same man that directed some of the best Italian horror movies out there directed this tame, plotless movie. To say I was disappointed would be one of the biggest understatements ever. Admittedly, some of the shots are beautiful and there is that typical Fulci dreamlike atmosphere, but the plot is so convoluted and confusing that the movie makes no sense at all, and the best scene is at the end of the movie where a stuffed bird comes to life, attacks someone and kills them, but then we find out the bird is a hallucination, but the person who it killed is still dead.

This movie seems to have no spark about it whatsoever. Everything falls flat, from the characters to the atmosphere. While watching this, it appeared to me that Fulci was attempting to confuse his audience deliberately, focusing the camera on objects that had no relation to the story, not explaining why things were happening etc. We do get to see the pimp from Demons fall to an untimely death, but again, there was no suspense, fear or gore to help the scene along, nor was there any reasoning behind his death.

This is certainly not a great example of a Lucio Fulci movie. This, along with Aenigma are certainly the worst films I have seen directed by the Italian Godfather of Gore. I am not sorry I saw it, as I am a completist and will try to watch anything I can by my favorite directors, but I knew there would be a time when a movie Fulci had made would disappoint me, and unfortunately, this seems to be the one. (I viewed Aenigma a while after this). It's a shame that the film makers didn't get the chance to pull off the movie they were trying to create, as there seems to be a nice blend of the supernatural and the hallucinogenic.

I am certainly not the kind of person that needs everything in a movie explained to them. Infact, I enjoy it when a movie leaves questions unanswered or takes a fantastical route. It's just a shame Manhatten Baby throws so much at the viewer with no coherance, confusing and overwhelming anyone watching it. 

I love Fulci's westerns such as Four of the Apocalype. I love his Giallo's, such as Lizard in a Womans Skin. His horror movies are some of my favorite movies ever, but I just cannot bring myself to like, or even understand Manhatten Baby. It hasn't changed my opinion on who I consider one of the greatest Italian directors ever, but it goes to show that even the greats are not infallible.

Darkest regards......Dani.

Big Bad Wolf (2006).

I have never been a huge fan of werewolf movies. I like The Howling, and am a fan of An American Werewolf in London, but apart from those two movies, I haven't seen much else that has inflamed my passion for the sub genre, at least until Big Bad Wolf came along. This movie is everything a werewolf movie should be (at least in my opinion). Gone is unwilling victim of the wolf bite who seems to regret everything their alter ego does. This Big Bad Wolf embraces his animalistic form with great relish, likes nothing more than tearing apart people with his bare claws and does some pretty unspeakable things to his female victims.

A young man, Derek, wants to fit in with his fraternity friends, so he offers his friends the chance to sneak in and stay at his stepfathers cabin for a weekend of partying. Unfortunately, the weekend doesn't turn out so well as the group are attacked, some raped and some killed by a werewolf. Derek suspects his stepdad is hiding a terrible secret, and sets out with his friend, Sam, to find out just what it is.

Big Bad Wolf is fun. Let's get that out of the way first. The movie is filled with hilarious one liners (mostly from the werewolf, who is in full control of what he is doing, not losing his mind as he changes into a monstrous lycanthrope) and crazy and sometimes silly situations. Admittedly, there is a little CGI in the movie, and it rears it's head at the worst possible time (when a character turns into the Big Bad Wolf of the title) but apart from that, the movie has a playful attitude, involving story, great gore (which thankfully is prosthetic) and a wise cracking monster that comes across as bestial and evil, but also intelligent and calculating. What more could you ask for?

This movie certainly knows how to push the boundaries of taste and decency. It is sometimes gross, always funny and has a very nasty undercurrent running through it. It is very reminiscent of 80's horror movies, preferring a playful sense of humor and stomach churning gore rather than going for all out scares and shocks.

Richard Tyson yet again proves he is made to play the villain in an awesome turn as the sinister and vile stepfather who has been cursed with becoming a werewolf, not that he seems too bothered about it. He comes across as the ultimate asshole which again adds to the films nasty streak. When he is in human form, he is sinister and sleazy, but when he transforms into a werewolf, he is firing off quips and one liners which all seem to hit home. When he isn't making light of a nasty situation, he comes across as a formidable and evil creature that wouldn't think twice about tearing anyone apart just for fun. He exudes arrogance and a 'you can't touch me' attitude, and that just makes him all the more unlikable. There are also cameos from David Naughton and Clint Howard, which are both excellent in their small roles. All the other characters are very believable and well acted, but it is Richard Tyson that steals every scene he is in.

Big Bad Wolf may be cheesy rubbish, but it is incredibly enjoyable cheesy rubbish that urges you to keep watching, keeping your attention with over the top gore, brilliant one liners and a real eighties vibe. The screenplay is great and everything falls into place and never feels over played or boring. If you enjoy a bit of entertainment with your horror movies, then you could do so much worse than Big Bad Wolf. It really is the epitome of the word FUN.

Darkest regards......Dani.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

The Exorcist. What makes it so scary?

I cannot believe that it has been forty years since The Exorcist made it's debut in New York city, New York. Still to this day, many consider it the scariest movie ever made. To celebrate the Anniversary of its premier, I thought I would take a look at what makes The Exorcist so scary, and give a few of my own thoughts about the movie.

I am sure The Exorcists reputation is well deserved. I have read stories, and have been told of people fainting and going into hysterics while watching the movie, and that screenings were attended by the Saint Johns Ambulance Brigade in case anyone would fall under the spell of fear. Whether or not this piece of information is true or just a way to increase publicity is a moot point. The Exorcist really does bring out a primal fear that no other movie does. It depicts a great evil attacking pure innocence, twisting and violating the body of it's victim until it is unrecognizable, and shows how the characters faith no matter how much it is tested, always triumphs over evil.

Loosely based on a true story, The Exorcist really is a movie every horror fan should experience. It features an incredibly sinister atmosphere throughout, and the tension is greatly applied through each scene. The FX, the cast and the direction is all there to scare the audience. That was the prime intention of William Friedkin, and it worked better than anyone could have ever imagined. The movie attracted a great deal of attention from Christian's and the Catholic church. Preacher (and a name I heard my parents talking about an awful lot when I was young) Billy Graham went as far as to claim that there was a demonic presence living in the reels of the movie. It is rather strange that most of the contention that religious people hold The Exorcist in, is totally unfounded. They say it focuses on blasphemy, where in fact, the movie shows the power of faith, and that good will always overcome evil. This didn't stop the controversy though, and for six long months after the movie was made, star Linda Blair received death threats from people who believed the movie glorified Satan (if only they had taken the time to sit down and watch the movie).

I think one thing that goes towards the movie being so scary is the vocal performance of Mercedes McCambridge as the demon. The voice is seething with malevolence, spite and pure evil. To hear this voice coming from the lips of a young girl is all the more disturbing. Not only was the voice incredibly menacing, but the words which the demon spoke were vulgar and blasphemous, so much so in fact that apparently while filming the exorcism, star Max Von Sydow was so disturbed by the language being used that he forgot his lines. Just hearing the voice manages to send shivers down the spines of viewers of the film.

The religious aspect in another reason people find this movie scary. I have heard many people say "I am not religious, so the movie does not bother me". I really do believe the overall theme of The Exorcist is to show the triumph of good over evil, but how are you going to depict a tremendous battle of good against evil without first showing just how evil something can be. Not only is the language the demon uses blasphemous, cursing god any way it can, but there are also a few visual scenes which incite rage amongst the religious. The masturbation with the crucifix with young Reagan proclaiming "Let Jesus fuck you" is probably the most profoundly blasphemous statement in the entire movie, and accompanied with the visual horror, has a great impact on the audience.

The movie also manages to make us confront things we have no understanding of, and brings up many questions about our own lives. What if there were demons? How would we rid ourselves of them if we do not follow religion? Even though many of the movies viewers do not believe in the religious side of things, the movie really does manage to raise many a good point about faith and just how powerful it can be. Our fear of the unknown is probably the greatest fear humanity still has.

The Exorcist shows how a loss of faith affects someone with a belief in religion. Farther Karras' faith is tested many times, first by seeing his mother falling into dementia and him not being able to do anything about it. Of course, the demon uses this against Father Karras, creating an overwhelming sense of the priest not being able to triumph over the evil which holds the little girl in it's diabolical grip. In contrast to this, it does show faith being found once more, and empowering the person, giving them strength through their faith.

It could be that the movie does not give anything away and only drips information slowly over the near two hour running time. Everything is played so straight, and with such a force of power that the things happening in the movie become believable. We involve ourselves so deeply with the characters. We go through so much with them, and see a young girl change from a sweet and innocent person into a vessel of pure evil. I am sure that goes a long way to scaring the viewer too, the loss of control. This horror film offers no security, no safety net. It's intention is to scare you.

In my opinion, the only way you can find The Exorcist scary, is if you give yourself over to it. Revel in the supernatural goings on, believe that what is happening on screen can happen in real life, and you will experience one of the greatest horror films of all time. The Exorcist really is "A vulgar display of power".

Darkest regards......Dani.

MP2V (2012).

Mp2v (2012) Poster

MP2V is a new type of movie experience. In order to attempt to solve the mystery the movie throws at you, the viewer will need to explore not only the movies, but also the MP2V website and the Facebook and Twitter connected to the movie. There is also a prequel movie (MPV), another sequel (MP3V) and even a web series (MPOV) so there is definitely much to explore to involve the viewer deeply.

MP2V is a fictional online format that is specifically used for snuff movies and other horrific videos. The opening of the movie is confusing, sickening and dizzying, and certainly sets the tone for what is going to follow. The movie is filled with great ideas, and while the execution doesn't always pay off, it certainly manages to unsettle. 

In MP2V, we get to follow two sociopaths as they travel through small town America. They use a handheld camera to film their murderous exploits with chilling effect. A father of one of the killers victims is mailed some footage, and the movie also shows his hunt for the killers, blending both first person camera work with a third person view, which does work incredibly well.

The characterization is well handled, with both killers portrayed extremely well. Both of them come across as the fire to the others ice, and both are cold and chilling in their roles, sometimes becoming almost likeable before they begin to stare at the camera devoid of emotion, or fly into a fit of rage.

In the very opening scenes, the film doesn't hold back with either the language or the violence, and it is a shocking and brutal opening which somewhat loses its punch over the rest of the movie. MP2V does not have a linear plot. In fact, this movie is told in reverse. I didn't feel this worked as well as it should have, as the movie went from a terribly violent act, and couldn't hit the same heights as the movie went on. Nevertheless, Rob Medaska should be congratulated for attempting to shake things up a little, and not going for the straight forward serial killer movie route.

All in all,it is great to see someone toying with the regular conventions of the horror movie, and trying to expand the experience of a movie for the viewers over many many forms, it's just a shame that from the incredible opening, the movie seems to fall rather flat, and sometimes nearly grinds to a halt. Nevertheless, this story shows that director Rob Medaska has some great ideas and is certainly a man to keep an eye on in the future.

You can visit the official MP2Vwebsite by clicking HERE.

You can LIKE the Facebook page by clicking HERE.

You can FOLLOW MP2V on Twitter by clicking HERE.

Darkest regards......Dani.

MurderDrome movie news!

This is a movie where Roller Derby meets supernatural evil! Cherry Skye just wants to skate, but the vengeful ghost of a killer has plans for her soul. Trapped between the wrath of love scorned and supernatural evil, Skye races towards the MurderDrome at breakneck speed. When she gets there, there is no guaranteeing anyone is coming out alive.

"The movie was shot entirely in Melbourne and funded on a wing and a prayer. It took forever to shoot and is taking forever to complete! But it's looking good so far, good enough to bring Monster Pictures on board as a distributor"! says director Daniel Armstrong.

The film stars some legit local derby girls including Amber Sajben (Bust Up Bamby - ex Victorian Roller Derby League) in the lead role, Bianca Currie, Jake Brown, Kathryn Anderson (Eureka Blockade - Diamond Valley Roller Derby Club), Cyndi Lawbreaker (South Seas Roller Derby), Rachael Blackwood, Gerry Mahoney (Farah Force-It - NORTHSIDE ROLLERS), Laura Soall (Laws A Breakin' - DVRDC), Tommy Hellfire, Daisy Masterman, Dayna Seville (Dayna Might - VRDL), Max Marchione, Demonique Deluxe (ex Geelong Roller Derby League), Pepper Minx (ex GRDL), and Mary Poppinskulls (GRDL).

It is such good news that this movie is getting distributed in all territories of Australia, New Zealand and the UK and Ireland. The producers of MurderDrome hope to seal further deals for territories throughout the rest of the world at the American film market later this year.

Be sure to give the MurderDrome Facebook page a LIKE by clicking HERE.

Don't forget to give the trailer below a look too! I'm sure you will be impressed!

Darkest regards......Dani.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Premutos: Lord of the Living Dead (1997).

Any regular viewer of Olaf Ittenbach's movies certainly know what they are getting when they watch one of his movies, and that is blood and gore. Forget any kind of challenging story or deep emotion, these movies are all about the red stuff! His movies really are a gore lovers dream. There is so much blood and gore, that sometimes (on rare occasions) it can be a little too much. If you see one person get their head blown off in a movie, it's a shock. See it happen to five more people, it becomes tiresome. Maybe that's just me, but nevertheless, it has happened to me before.

Premutos is the first fallen angel, even predating Lucifer. He is summoned to the earth again and again, creating wars and other plagues on humanity. A young mans father has found a book in his yard, and this book helps Premutos possess the fathers son, Mathias. When Premutos does take over Mathias in an incredibly brutal and bloody metamorphosis, all hell is unleashed on his fathers birthday party.

Ittenbach has an incredible talent for making gore films. He was arguably at the top of the German splatter scene when this movie was released. He is an amazing FX artist, and his work never fails to make the viewer cringe and wince at the atrocities being portrayed onscreen. Premutos also has a blackly comic undertone which works incredibly well along with all of the bloodshed and dismemberment.

While the story may be rather basic and a little incoherent, there is character development, but it really does take second place to the carnage. Some of the flashback scenes are shot with considerable flair, which both belies Ittenbach's detractors, who enjoy stating he has no visual flair, and the low budget of the movie. The crucifixion scene, as well as being blasphemous, is an incredibly well directed scene with beautiful photography and great composition.

Premutos is a movie that isn't supposed to be taken seriously under any circumstances. It is here merely for our entertainment, and in that respect, if succeeds on every level. It is an insanely gory movie that delivers amazingly realistic FX, all the while it's tongue is planted firmly in it's cheek.

Darkest regards......Dani.

The Convent (2000).

Unfairly seen as a Night of the Demons rip off by some, and labelled as a badly written cheese-fest by others, The Convent is one of the most enjoyable splatter movies I have ever seen. I first viewed the movie thirteen years ago, when a friend was staying over. It is safe to say that we really enjoyed the movie, and were quoting lines from the film such as "I have arrived" or "Just gimme five minutes" for years afterwards. It was never scary, but it didn't need to be. The demons look incredible, the use of neon light really effective and the humor in the movie constant and always manages to raise a chuckle.

Some college friends break into an old abandoned convent which has a notorious past. Forty years ago, it is rumored that a sixteen year old girl named Christine was forced to have an abortion by the nuns, which caused her to snap and murder the members of the convent with a shotgun before setting fire to the building. Unfortunately for the college friends, a group of terribly inept satanists are lurking in the convent, looking for a virgin to use in their rite of demon resurrection. They succeed, but are surprised when the demon attacks them. This is when all hell breaks loose, and the only person who can put a stop to the demonic goings on at the convent, is Christine. 

Mike Mendez's splatter comedy classic is a movie that never gets old, no matter how many times you watch it. It's a gore filled movie with great FX and some very quotable lines. It does have a low budget, but is a campy, competently shot and acted tribute to the splatter movies of the eighties, as well as Night of the Demons and other movies of that ilk. The humor ay be cheesy, but it fits in very well with the tone of the film.

The movie is packed with so much love, passion and excitement for the horror genre that it is apparent from the get go that this movie is going to be great. This is a film that never takes itself seriously and is a great amount of fun. The gore never comes across as serious, as it is more like the gore in Bad Taste or Evil Dead 2, and the pacing is fast from the (Tarantino-esque) opening to the gore soaked end.

The Convent never fails to impress, even 13 years after it's release. It boasts a truly ass-kicking appearance by the legendary Adrienne Barbeau as well as cameos from Bill Mosely and Coolio, and nearly every minute of the movie is chock full of both humor and over the top gore. The movie could easily have come off as cheesy, but it is sold so convincingly, it is hard not to love such a high energy love letter to the horror genre.

Darkest regards......Dani.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Night of the Demons: After-party.

We wanted it, and it looks like it is finally happening!!! Kevin Tenney is returning to the Night of the Demons franchise as a producer, but needs our help to get the project off the ground! Anthony Hickox has been named as director of this exciting project, Tiffany Shepis is set to star, and the FX are being handled by the always awesome Gabe Bartalos.

If you can, visit the kickstarter page by clicking HERE. Donate if you can, or spread the word! This is going to be an incredible film!!

Darkest regards......Dani.

The Manson Family (2003).

Indie filmmaker Jim VanBebber brings us a movie that took fifteen years to complete, after financing failed to materialize again and again. It is a shockingly realistic ride into madness, psychedelia and murder, and portrays the Manson Family and their leader as cold blooded killers, refusing to shy away from any element of the events that happened. It works incredibly well, and is an very powerful piece of cinema.

In 1996, a TV personality is  putting the finishing touches to a documentary about The Manson Family. His idea is to totally remove the focus away from Charles Manson, and lay the blame on his followers who he sees as the real evil. As he goes through the footage, we get to see Family members as they are today, telling the stories of what happened during the summer that lead up to the murders. There are also flashbacks of what really happened, whether it conflicts with the stories being given or reflects them. While this is happening, a gang of youths who don't want Manson or his families name dragged through the dirt prepare to kill the TV personality who is attempting to change everyone's opinion.

The movie really does take an incredibly serious look at the followers of Charles Manson, their hedonistic lifestyles and drug use. Everything builds to the infamous 'Tate murders', but the movie is so much more than exploitation. It is a sometimes beautiful, often ugly piece of cinema that attempts to put across the real Manson Family with no punches pulled. A great amount of focus seems to be put on Charles Manson himself in other movies, but here, VanBebber examines the family in great depth.

The narrative is complex, but VanBebber successfully juggles the story from one scene to the next without things becoming convoluted. It flows really well, from present day, to flashback, to reality, to drug addled fever dream. Everything comes together so well, and the movie is incredibly absorbing.Everything in the film works so well. Every story told adds to what has gone before, adding more dimension to the characters and the story. The direction is incredible, the acting very realistic and the soundtrack as fitting as it could possibly be.

The Manson Family will not be for everyone. But anyone willing to watch this movie will most definitely be surprised with how involving, chilling and realistic it is. It really is a horror film that reflects what was going on at the end of the sixties, and reflects those situations with an incredible clarity and honesty.

Darkest regards......Dani.

August Underground (2001).

Usually brought up when people are having discussions about the sickest movies ever, the August Underground trilogy certainly manage to push the boundaries of horror cinema in every way possible. I first heard about the original August Underground many years ago, after I found out Necrophagia frontman Killjoy DeSade was working on the sequel with Toetag Pictures. I had to find this supposedly sickening movie that ushered in a whole new type of depravity into the horror genre.

I will never forget the first time I watched the original August Underground. It bought so many mixed emotions. I felt disgusted, guilty for watching such a thing, but I still had a morbid fascination to see where the movie would go next. By the end, not even a hot shower could wash away how the movie made me feel. It really was a new type of film. Emotional, effecting the very spirit of it's viewer. August Underground isn't something that the viewer could enjoy, it is more of an endurance test, and one that not everyone will be willing to take.

August Underground is a found footage movie. It tells the story of two killers, one who is never revealed, as he films everything through his camera, and the other, played by Fred Vogel, who commits atrocity after atrocity with gleefully sadistic pleasure. It shows them in their day to day lives. Not only do they rape and kill, but they go out and have fun, laugh and joke and behave like regular normal people. It totally takes away the 'Monster' element of the horror film and brings everything into reality, which makes the movie far more real. It is an incredibly effective piece of cinema, and manages to show murder for what it really is. There is no glamorizing death here. It is dirty, brutal, disturbing and disgusting.

The movie really does manage to paint a very realistic and vivid picture of the day to day lives of two sociopaths, and it doesn't leave anything to the imagination. It demonstrates with great detail that while not all of the perpetrators time is spent murdering and raping, it is always on their mind. It is like they are addicted to the thrill taking life brings. All they seem to live for is murder, and everything else is mundane and boring.

I am sure it would be easy to dismiss August Underground as pure depraved filth. But if you do that, then you obviously do not get what this movie is about. The movie is meant to stir up those sort of feelings in us, because murder isn't fun, it isn't glamorous, and it certainly isn't enjoyable. These people are sick, and this movie brings forth that sickness for everyone to see, and even goes as far as involving the viewer through the use of the handheld camera. People who bash this film because "it isn't horror" or "it's just sick" obviously miss every point this movie is trying to make.

It may not feature a happy ending. It certainly doesn't need to. The film epitomizes true horror and dread, and makes people confront a reality that I am sure many of us would rather spend our lives ignoring. This movie shows that, warts and all. It isn't pretty, funny or nice. It is depraved, sick and revels in it's nihilism until the very last frame.  The fact that you choose to watch it, and see such depravity, will haunt you and horrify you for a long while afterwards, and in that respect, this is one of the most powerful horror films in existence.

Don't forget to visit the Toetag Website by clicking HERE. Not only can you pick up all of Toetag's movies, but also merchandise and other things that both collectors and fans would love to get their hands on. There are also movies from other underground directors there too, showing that Toetag really do invest everything into underground cinema, and are definitely a company that should be noticed and respected by every horror fan out there, whether you like Toetag's movies or not.

Darkest regards......Dani.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Hatchet II (2010).

Three years after the original was released, Adam Green continued the story of Victor Crowley, and the reaction to the movie was incredibly divided. Personally, I was looking forward to this movie, so much so in fact, that it fell completely flat for me. On subsequent viewings, I did like it a lot more, but on that first viewing, I was extremely disappointed. It felt rushed, incomplete and lacking the fun characters and dialogue that made the first movie so much fun.

Hatchet II picks up exactly where Hatchet left off. Mary Beth (now played by scream queen Danielle Harris) survives Victor Crowley's attack, and heads back into town to team up with a group of redneck hunters, who are all lead back into the swamp to find Mary Beth's father's corpse and hopefully bring an end to Victor Crowley's reign of terror.

I understand now that I was expecting far too much from this film. Nevertheless, when compared to the original film, Hatchet II feels rather slow, and the characterizations are not as well rounded as they were in the original movie. I feel too much of Victor Crowley's back story was given, and that took some of Hatchet II's power away. Also, the humor seemed so much more prevalent, and it didn't seem to work as well as the original movie. It seemed forced, like it didn't really fit in with the tone of the movie.

When the murders began though, it certainly became a lot more fun. The random and sometimes funny kills were enjoyable, and the film really did go all out with the kills and gore, although there was nothing as inventive as the head rip kill from the first film, which was rather disappointing, although the killing of R.A Mihailoff certainly does come close. It just seemed that the murders didn't hit the same highs as they did in Hatchet. Something was missing, and I can't put my finger on what it was.

With the recent release of Hatchet III in the U.S, I look forward to seeing what Victor Crowley will do next. Hopefully B.J McDonnell will take the movie back to it's roots and not further into comedy territory.

Darkest regards......Dani.

Live Feed (2006).

Live Feed is one of the torture movies that followed in the wake of the over hyped mess that was Hostel. While Ryan Nicholson's movie may have a much lower budget than Hostel, it really does deliver in every area that Eli Roth's movie promised but failed miserably in. The violence really is sickening, perverted and over the top, the characters repulsive and unlikeable. The movie is an incredibly filthy, gory trip, and is all the better for it. While the acting may not be superb, the premise, location and the execution of this brutal little movie are second to none.

A group of young adults visiting Asia, take a break from all the partying to go and visit a porno theater. The theater is a facade for a mafia boss and his sick games, and the visitors just bought themselves a front row seat to an orgy of violent torture. A show where they will be the stars.

The plot in Live Feed follows the same arc as many torture films made around the same time, where a group of young people go to a foreign place, get drunk, offend the locals and end up in a gruesome situation that usually ends their lives. Live Feed repeats this, but everything is so in your face, it feels really fresh. The location, a real live working porno theater, is bathed in red and green light, making it look even sleazier than you could ever imagine. Each room inside the theater is bathed in filth, bodily fluids and eventually blood and body parts. The whole theater oozes sleaze and depravity, and that is before the torture and killing starts.

The movie may be predictable, but it doesn't hurt the movie at all, and it never cheats the viewer out of what they expect to see. The movie has some incredible kill scenes, and one of them was even replicated to a degree in Hostel 2. Live Feed is an exemplary low budget exploitation film full of perversion, nudity and blood, and is a brutal ride for anyone willing to take a dip into the more extreme side of horror.

Darkest regards......Dani.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Legitimate short film review.

Wow. What a messed up short. I loved it. Legitimate begins with a middle aged politician getting a dance in a club of some kind. It ends with...well, it ends with something incredibly strange that more than fits in with the tone of this short. It is a commentary on the seemingly prevalent attitude to female rape in movies, and that is that 'they deserve it'. It begins with a quote by Todd Aken, which reads " if it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try and shut that thing down". This quote is complete nonsense, but it does bring to mind legitimate rape, and also raises a lot of questions about gender roles.

The movie begins in a club. A man is getting a dance from a woman who is bound in rope. She repeatedly hands him the rope, uncoiling it from her frame, becoming more free as she does so. I felt this was used to show women being untied from the oppression of man. As the rope is removed, the man becomes sleepy, and finally falls unconscious. The short begins by showing us the sexually attractive submissive female, and ends in a terrifying outcome. The women who appear later in the short turn the tables on the politician in the most gruesome way imaginable.

Legitimate is incredibly dream-like, but is a serious commentary, and is so much more than a horror short. It shows a distinct inability for some politicians to movie forward and stop seeing the female as someone who isn't strong, who needs direction from a male.  It is a disturbing look at where some parts of the world are headed because of their views on gender role and this supposed opinion that some rapes are deserving, and the lack of intelligence that goes along with that.

Darkest regards......Dani.

Under the scares (2010).

This is the first part of Steve Villeneuve's Scare Series. It is a documentary on the trials and tribulations an independent movie company face when attempting to get their film made and distributed. Horror documentaries have always appealed to me, as I take great interest in what goes on behind the scenes, be it with special FX, or generally making the movie. This is something different, and isn't usually documented by filmmakers.

The documentary is directed by Steve Villeneuve, and is told through the perspective of Digger films who, as mentioned before, are attempting to get their films made. This movie could have easily been made as a personal insight, but along with every step the filmmakers take, they manage to get interviews with people from all over the industry, that really add substance to the film.

It certainly isn't a pretty picture that is painted about the indie film industry, but the film really does explain a lot of what is needed to survive. It portrays indie movie making as something that is incredibly hard work, and something that will more than likely leave the filmmakers penniless.

The honesty of this movie makes it all the more heartwarming. Nothing is left untouched, and as well as showing a casual audience what an indie filmmaker has to go through to get their film out there, it shows you how much of a close knit family indie filmmakers are, always willing to give advice or lend a hand where they can.

The movie also works as an educational tool, and you can learn a lot from sitting through the many tips given by such greats as Lloyd Kaufman, Herschell Gordon Lewis, Trent Haaga, Suzi Lorraine and George Romero.

A great documentary, and it really should be seen by anyone who wants to dismiss indie cinema as trash. This will show them how hard these people have to work to make a film, and then get it distributed. A true uphill battle, and one that is documented with finesse and a brutal honesty.

Darkest regards......Dani.

Ave Maria short film review.

Ave Maria is a sequel of sorts to Microcinema, and develops the female character we saw in the original short movie even more. This time, another male falls foul to Missy, but Missy isn't alone. She has a blonde masked accomplice, and a woman filming the events this time, and it all seems a lot more creepy than the first encounter with this warped character.

The short again is shocking, maybe even more so than Microfilm, featuring a nasty tool to violate a captured male, but in a totally different way than what we saw previously. There is a plate and a goblet placed underneath the victim, and he is then made to partake in a new twist on holy communion, being force fed his own blood.

There is then a reveal of who the captured character is, as his clothes are baptized in flames. The majority of the short is accompanied by the song Ave Maria, and it sounds incredibly sinister set against the vile goings on happening in the film. The framing and photography again are incredible, showing the dark beauty of the forest and letting us get face to face with a very strange and brutal practice which yet again shows a man at his weakest.

Again, this is an incredibly promising short. It would be amazing to see what Skip Shea could do with this character in a feature length movie. I feel it would be an incredibly dark, brutal yet beautiful ride into the macabre world of one of the creepiest female characters I have ever witnessed in a horror movie.

Darkest regards......Dani.

Microcinema short film review.

This short begins intelligently, with a masked character talking about how killing is part of a primal instinct of man, then telling us how he is no longer an observer, and that he is going to participate. We them move to the entrance of some woods, with the character filming a woman who walks the same path every day. Things take a drastic turn when he confronts the woman, asking her to hold his camera.

Microcinema took my breath away, because not only did it manage to switch the story on it's head so quickly, it also features a violation of a male (something which you'll have to see, as my explanation will do it no service), something which isn't usually seen in any type of cinema. There is very little exposition, but there really doesn't need to be as this is a shock to the system, like being kicked in the stomach very hard. At the start, the male seems empowered, sure of his conquest of his female victim, but this misplaced arrogance is soon conquered and the roles are switched in the most perverted way imaginable.

The framing is perfect, with shots capturing the beauty of the forest. The main character exudes arrogance at the start, but this is soon done away with in a shocking twist. It is brutal, dirty and shocking. Something we all look for in horror. Finally, someone has moved away from making females in horror movies victims, and has portrayed them as the protagonist, and they have done it in such a shocking way, it takes the viewers breath away for more than one reason.

If you get the chance, check out Microcinema. It is a short sharp shock to the senses, and turns the roles of males and females around in a matter of seconds. Truly incredible.

Darkest regards......Dani.

V/H/S (2012)

With the recent release of V/H/S 2, I thought I would give the first a look. With many people choosing to watch movies online, films get a much wider release than they ever would have before, with the internet opening up the viewing possibilities and making it much easier to come across movies you might not have watched in the past. V/H/S was an incredibly popular entry into the anthology horror sub genre, and I for one found it enjoyable, with only one of the segments which didn't really hit home. 

V/H/S is incredibly effective in it's execution. It is profoundly disturbing, manipulating the audience to care for some despicable characters.Each story has very little in common with the last, but when the movie is viewed as a whole, they actually fit together. This is down to the smart direction, an excellent wrap-around story and realistic camerawork. It may be shaky, but not overtly so, and manages to draw the viewer in deep, coming up with many different and clever ways to instill fear into the audience.

The characters in the movie communicate with each other in a more jokey way, as they know this footage is going to be watched back by others, so they tend to involve the viewer with jokes and inciting the viewer to get excited over things that are happening. When something bad happens (which it does. This is horror remember) the characters come cross as truly shocked, them being on camera gives off a feeling of genuine surprise and a genuine reaction to what is going on.

The movie tackles a wide range of horrific subjects, from Succubi to a religious haunting, there are many ways this movie can chill the blood, each giving a different perspective on the sub genre they are celebrating. It may have a long running time (nearly two hours) but nothing feels forced. Everything comes together in spectacular fashion, and the directors involved should be praised for creating such a spine chilling anthology.

Darkest regards......Dani.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Maniac (1980).

Maniac has to be one of the most darkly disturbing movies I have ever witnessed. Every frame of the movie oozes filth, the grim atmosphere sinking into the pores of the viewer, making them feel dirty. The uncompromising story by C.A Rosenberg and Joe Spinell ,the ferocious FX by Tom Savini and the incredible direction by William Lustig make this a horror classic in every sense of the word. People have called the film such things as filthy trash, an abomination and even the worst of the worst. If that doesn't say something about the power this film has, then by all means, don't read any further.

Frank Zito (Joe Spinell) is a momma's boy, even though his momma is dead. He is an avid collector of dead women's scalps, which he places on mannequins with the help of some nails. He wanders the streets of a particularly grimy New York City, looking for potential victims. He meets a woman named Anna (Caroline Munro, in a role originally made for Daria Nicolodi) and begins dating her. Unfortunately, she turns out to be just like every woman out there. The movie documents how Frank deals with his day to day life, and believe me, it is one hell of a disturbing ride.

The movie is full of disturbing emotion, and the way Joe Spinell plays Frank Zito makes him become so much more than a regular killer. We can see how disturbed he is, and actually begin to feel some empathy with his character. He is so strong with his emotion, it is hard not to.

I still feel that this is one of the greatest, if not most underrated slasher films out there. So the kills aren't spectacular, so the killer isn't a supernaturally powered being who can crush a humans head with his bare hands, this movie more than makes up for that with sheer emotion and uncompromising heartfelt brutality and some truly gut wrenching scenes

Maniac may be simplistic in it's story, but it is the characterizations, and the emotion put into the story that shines through every time. I haven't even mentioned the gore and the ending, which bears a striking resemblance to Don't go in the House, but in all honesty, this really is one of the most sleazy (even with only one scene of nudity) despicable and downright horrific movies in existence. It deserves to be seen by everyone!

Darkest regards......Dani.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Hatchet (2006)

Hollywood seems to enjoy churning out bad horror movies. If a movie makes money, you can be assured Hollywood will milk it for every penny it is worth and then some. In 2006, we were amidst a bunch of terrible remakes that were frankly depressing. Everything seemed to be based on Japanese ghost stories, or PG-13 horror lite films that appealed to the younger generation.

Then Hatchet came along. It bought humor, gore and created another monster to add to the likes of Freddy, Jason etc. Victor Crowley was seen tearing his victims apart with his bare hands as well as a number of weapons in this return to old school American horror. Everything about this movie was something to be loved by fans of the horror genre.

A group of three male college friends decide that after all the boobs and booze they have seen and partaken in on Mardi Gras, they will take a haunted swamp tour. The tour takes a turn for the worse when the boat becomes stranded and they are lost in the middle of the bayou, which is also the home of the legendary Victor Crowley.

This movie impressed me in nearly every way possible, and while I was a little disappointed with the ending being so abrupt, everything that came before was a total throwback to the horror slashers of the 80's. Kane Hodder exorcises all memories of Jason's slow and methodical killings by making Victor Crowley a howling, spontaneous madman who is constantly on the move and will stop at nothing to get to his victims.

The violence and FX in the movie are really special. The blood certainly flows free, and there are plenty of deaths to keep the gore hounds happy. The creativity of director Adam Green is amazing, coming up with such spectacular and violent deaths. It really is one of the movies strongest points.

Every horror fan deserves to see this fantastic movie, and with the third chapter being unleashed very soon, it looks like Victor Crowley is here to stay for a long time, and I for one am very happy in that.

Darkest regards......Dani.