COMING SOON! April 2011

Posted: April 18, 2011 in Coming soon!
CLICK on any title to watch the trailer

La Casa Muda (The Silent House) (2010)

Directed by Gustavo HernándezStarring Florencia Colucci, Abel Tripaldi, Gustavo Alonso

This one reportedly IS, in fact, based on real events (I’m looking at YOU Them). The trailer doesn’t give much away, but it’s Spanish so I’m willing to give it a shot – those Spaniards sure know how to frighten the fur off a girl!

Not yet released on DVD, Amazon will email you when is.

Absentia (2010)

Directed by Mike Flanagan. Starring Katie Parker, Courtney Bell and Dave Levine

From the official website: “Tricia’s husband has been missing for seven years. Her younger sister Callie comes to live with her as the pressure mounts to finally declare him ‘dead in absentia.’  As Tricia sifts through the wreckage and tries to move on with her life, Callie finds herself drawn to an ominous tunnel near the house. As she begins to link it to other mysterious disappearances, it becomes clear that his presumed death might be anything but ‘natural.’ Soon it becomes clear that the ancient force at work in the tunnel might have set its sights on Callie and Tricia … and that Tricia’s husband might be suffering a fate far worse than death in its grasp.”

The plot sounds so intriguing – I’m pretty excited to see this, my whiskers are all a-quiver :3

No news on a UK DVD release yet; it’s doing the festival rounds as we speak in the US, so watch this space!

The Room  (2010)

Directed by Giles Doust. Starring Pascal Duquenne, Caroline Veyt, Philippe Résimont, Françoise Mignon

From the official website:Alex (Duquenne) is a trisomic [Downs syndrome] man, has been stuck in a wheelchair since a mysterious fall down the stairs.

Alex is traumatised by his parents: Max (Résimont), a frustrated composer turned completely mad and violent; and Marie (Mignon), a cold and hysteric woman. Alex’s only friend is his sister Melinda, who’s been taking care of him for years, but she is 9-months pregnant and unwilling to name the father, so is also maltreated by her parents. She is about to leave the family home to start a new life, leaving Alex behind.

Just then, at the peak of the family crisis, a mysterious DOOR appears in the house, at a place where there was nothing before. And everyone who enters it disappears in a terrifying scream. The members of the family discover they’re trapped in the house – every exit seems unnaturally locked – and they start disappearing in THE ROOM one after the other.”

Sound interesting – and look at the runes all over the door. Puts me in mind of my favourite book, House of Leaves by Mark Z Danielewski! Also looks like what I have done to the sofas at home!

No news of a UK DVD release of this – the lovely people at Play-Asia did have it, but it’s sold out as of this writing.

Nailed (2006)

Directed by Adrian O’Connell. Starring Wilson Jermaine Heredia, Sam Sarpong, Charles Porter, Samantha Mumba (remember her?!)

From the official website: “Nailed is a psycho-thriller about two criminals, fleeing from a drug sting, who break into a dilapidated home. Within the apparently empty home they find instead a man lying on a bed, covered in bandages, whose caretaker may have intentions that are less than honorable. All is not as it seems as things begin to go wrong for the thieves, bringing the supernatural and the horrific into play.”

Strangely the version Amazon has is an import – can we support our own film industry here fellow-Brits?!

Sounds like a Seven-esque type horror-thriller, but it pricked up my ears, so I’ll see it when I can – besides, as Nonna has just pointed out – there are some good looking guys in this (shallow human!).

Klopka (The Trap) (2007)

Directed by Srdan GolubovicStarring Anica Dobra, Miki Manojlovic, Dejan Cukic.

A Serbian film about a man struggling to raise the money for the heart operation his son desperately needs. A good samaritan offers to cover the costs in their entirely, but the worried father soon discovers that nothing comes for free in the post-Milosevic regime.

A Hitchcockian noir thriller, this looks gritty, and you know the ending is going to be unexpected – this is not Hollywood people! I have been after this one for a while, but it’s not cheap on Amazon – perhaps for my birthday (and no, I don’t know when that is, I’m a cat!).

El Día de la bestia (The Day of the Beast) (1995)

Directed by Álex de la IglesiaStarring Álex Angulo, Santiago Segura, Armando De Razza.

Through studying an obscure passage of the Bible, Catholic priest Father Ángel Berriartúa (Angulo) believes that the child of Satan is soon to be born. He decides that in order to be able to find the exact time and place, he must debase himself and commit as many sins as possible to be closer to Satan; but the ways in which he does this are hilarious; petty theft, pushing people over. He soon meets Heavy Metal fan José María (Segura) and believes “the devil’s music” will help him, so the two team up and, together with ‘Professor’ Cavan (De Razza), a sleazy TV host, start their quest in earnest.

I have actually seen this, but only on the internet, so I’m looking forward to getting a nice, crisp DVD copy. It’s great fun and is actually scary in some places. The little priest is brilliantly played, and everyone looks like they had lots of fun making it. Plus, look at the goat – any film with an animal in it goes up in my feline estimation!

“Currently unavailable” on Amazon, you may be able to track down a VHS through Ebay. This film is ripe for a nice, re-mastered DVD release!

Melancholia (2011)

Directed by Lars von Trier. Starring Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Kiefer Sutherland, Charlotte Rampling, Alexander Skarsgaard, Stellan Skarsgard, Udo Kier, and John Hurt.

What a cast! And finally – John Hurt actually appears in a von Trier film!

A giant planet, three times the size on Earth, emerges from behind the sun and looks set on a collision course with out planet.

Using some of the über-slow-motion effects ultilised to such huge effect in his previous masterpiece, Antichrist, the Danish director looks set to take us on an apocalyptic journey like none ever seen before.

Now look at that picture – that’s a reference to John Everett Millais’s painting Ophelia, based upon the tragic heroine of Hamlet; one of my favourite works of art based on one of my favourite Shakespeare plays – how excited am I?!!

and breathe …

FLEUR’S RATING: 4 OUT OF 5 CAT BISCUITS

Directed by Sean Tretta. Starring Patti Tindall, Davina Joy, Mike Marsh, Lindsay Page, Cordon Clark.

Death of a Ghost Hunter – Carter Simms (Tindall) is a professional Ghost Hunter who is filming her investigation of an unassuming dwelling known as the Masterson House, after the family who were found slain in their home in 1982. The entire house is just as they left it; all the clothes, toys and furniture are still there.

Carter is scared

Carter is teamed with a journalist, Yvette (Joy) and Colin (Marsh) the “video guy” who sets up night-vision camera all over the house, connected to a lap-top. All three have been hired by the current owner of the house to investigate whether there is evidence of any haunting. As the team are introducing themselves, a young woman enters and introduces herself as Mary Young Mortenson (an unnerving Page), having been invited by Mr Masterson to make sure that the investigation is “respectful” to the defunct family who “did great work” in the name of God. She seems a little odd, but the group welcome her and get on with their work.

Throughout the course of three days, furniture moves of its own accord, a little girl is seen on the monitor and Mortensen’s behaviour becomes increasingly bizarre. They find a box with a hole in one end and a window in the other, which they cannot fathom the meaning of, and polaroid pictures which reveal the family may not have been as wholesome as they might seem. As the lies and deceptions begin to unravel, Mortensen, unnoticed by the others, seems to be receiving messages from the deceased Mrs Masterson and, after being booted out of the house by the trio when they discover she’s a local nut who was not invited to be there, returns to exact Mrs Masterson’s plan to stop the real story of her family’s murders from coming out.

Some people have derided the acting ability of some of the cast here, but I have to disagree; there are many types of acting – the Hollywood way is not the only way. As this is a low-budget film and SOV (shot on video, albeit digital) some people have a problem with this technique, feeling it looks cheap and amateur – but as it’s supposed to be a true document of real people, I feel this is enhanced by the format, not diminished.

Personally, I’ve watched this about five times now, and I enjoy it every time – it has something Hollywood doesn’t seem to feel the need for any more – a story. I understand it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. In short, if you’re after blood ‘n’guts and a rollercoaster ride, go elsewhere; but if you want a creepy chiller that will make you scared to go to bed for the next few nights, give this a go. You might surprise yourself. You can watch the trailer here.

Review: Evil Aliens (2005)

Posted: April 18, 2011 in Fleur's Faves
FLEUR’S RATING: 4 OUT OF 5 CAT BISCUITS

Directed by Jake West. Starring Scott Joseph, Tim Daniel Clark, Emily Booth, Jamie Honeybourne.

Evil AliensThis spoofy film is lots of fun; buckets of blood are thrown around in abandon, limbs go flying and there are even a few sex scenes thrown in for good measure.

Combine harvester time!

Michelle (Booth) is the host of ‘Weird World’ a no-budget late night TV show covering every crackpot story from aliens, lake monsters and conspiracy theories to vampires and werewolves. With her regular two-man camera and sound team, she heads to a remote Welsh island to investigate a supposed case of alien abduction. The victim in question is reportedly pregnant through her experience. She lives on a farm with her three brothers, all of whom are in-bred and support various disfigurements as evidence.

Along with self-proclaimed paranormal ‘expert’ and über-nerd, Gavin Gorman (Honeybourne), and a couple of actors hired to perform various re-enactent scenes, Michelle and her team, in a white transit van, find themselves battling a hoarde of black-leather-suited masked aliens in a bid to save the world. One of the weapons used to great effect is a combine harvester – along with The Wurzles’ I’ve Got a Brand-new Combine Harvester tune on the soundtrack (ooh-arr ooh-arr)!

Although some of the performances could be a little more polished, this film rattles along at a great pace, and you’ll find yourselves both laughing out loud and shouting encouragement as the rag-tag bunch begin to fight back.

Great fun if you want to just switch off your brain and enjoy yourself!

Directed by Dario Argento. Starring David Hemmings, Daria Nicolodi, Gabriele Lavia.

Profondo Rosso (Deep Red) – My all time favourite film. Before I saw this it was Argento’s Tenebrae. As with all Argento’s work, it’s the murders we want to see – always imaginative and beautifully staged.

The camera is at floor level – there’s at Christmas tree and a lullaby playing – albeit a rather creepy one. Blood on the floor. A bloody knife is dropped. A child picks it up.

On stage in a small theatre is Helga Ulmann, a psychic. She senses someone evil in the audience. We see someone, dressed all in black, leave their seat. Later, back in her apartment, Helga goes to answer her door and flinches back in horror just before an axe crashes through it.

Marcus Daly (Hemmings), a jazz pianist,  is trying to help Carlo (Lavia), his drunken fellow-musician to sober up one evening, when they hear a piercing screech. Leaving his friend, Marc begins to walk toward his apartment building when he sees Helga, his neighbour, pressed against her window, both hands splayed, screaming; the glass breaks and her head falls through, gashing her throat. Marc runs upstairs, enters her apartment and pulls her body from the window. He is too late.

As the police investigate the crime scene, they question their only witness; Marc hasn’t much to tell, but as he walks down the corridor to leave the apartment he observes the paintings covering the walls and stops – something is wrong, there is a picture missing, he is sure.

Later, at the police station, Marc is introduced to journalist Gianna Brezzi (the wonderful Nicolodi), who challenges Marc’s chauvinistic attitude by arm-wrestling him and humiliating him when the passenger seat collapses in her car (comic relief from Argento! Who knew?). The two decide to join forces to investigate the murder, which soon enough, is joined by others.

Garish colours and contrasting lighting styles of complete brightness and utter darkness showcase teeth being smashed into marble, a woman drowned in boiling water, a vehicular decapitation and an ugly porcelain-faced mechanoid –  all prefaced by that awful lullaby, leading Marc and Gianna to an abandoned house, a false wall, a child’s drawing and … finally … the killer. You’ll never guess who it is!

Directed by Robert WiseStarring Julie Harris, Claire Bloom, Russ Tamblyn & Richard Johnson

The Haunting – Avoid the re-make like the plague kids; THIS is the one to watch.

Based very closely on Shirley Jackson’s astounding novel, The Haunting of Hill House, Robert Wise’s masterly film uses strange angles, lighting and distortion to reflect the ‘insanity’ of the building in which our four protagonists find themselves for the weekend, having been invited by their host, Dr. Markway (Johnson) to investigate the alleged haunting of the building.

Luke (Tamblyn) is there as he is heir to the titular house, whilst Eleanor (Harris) and Theodora (Bloom) have been invited along as they both have had previous psychic experiences (which Eleanor vehemently denies). Eleanor herself is rather an unstable character who is suffering dreadful guilt over the happiness she feels at being released from the burden of caring for her recently-deceased mother. Theodora, on the other hand, is cool, elegant and everything Eleanor wishes she could be.

The spiral staircase holds a fascination for Eleanor

The subtle scares – such as a pattern in the wallpaper that seems to be a face, something that thunders up and down the corridor at night, pounding on the ladies’ bedroom door and slowly turning the handle, Eleanor grasping Theo’s hand in the dark, only to discover, when the light goes on, that she was all the way across the other side of the room (“then whose hand was I holding?!”), plus a distending door appearing to breathe – are enough to render the viewer almost paralysed with fear.

As we see everything through Eleanor’s point of view, it’s never clear if these things are actually happening, or if it’s all in her mind. Her attachment to the house is such that she does not want to leave, until made to do so by Dr. Markway and the others, who fear for her sanity. She seems to lose control of the wheel and crashes her car into a tree at the end of the driveway.

The opening and closing voiceover (lifted straight from the book) tells us “that whatever walks there, walks alone” as poor Eleanor always was alone, so shall she ever be.

Review: [•REC] (2008)

Posted: April 14, 2011 in Fleur's Faves

FLEUR’S RATING: NOT ENOUGH BISCUITS SO –

FLEUR’S THUMBS-UP AWARD!

On the rampage

Directed by Jaume Balagueró, Paco Plaza. Starring Ferran Terraza, Carlos Vicente, Claudia Silva.

[•REC] – Local TV reporter Àngela and her cameraman Paco are filming for a documentary show entitled “While You Are Sleeping”, recording from a fire station. We briefly see the fire crews filling their time, eating and playing basket ball, when the alarm goes off. Following firemen Manu and Àlex, the two-person reporting crew piles into the fire engine and off they go.

On arrival at an apartment building, they are confronted with a foyer full of the residents therein, who report screams coming from upstairs. They think an elderly neighbour has been attacked. Through the camera we follow the firemen upstairs, where they meet two policemen, who need them to break down the door of said apartment. When they do so, they meet an old woman, who appears to be hysterical, dressed only in  a slip and covered with blood, she attacks one of the policemen and has to be dragged off him.

In a market currently flooded with poor-quality zombie-type films, [•REC] achieves the rarely-attained heights of a genuine classic, with tension high throughout, amazing vérité style and top-notch performances across the board.

You cannot call yourself a horror film fan if you don’t own this – go and get it NOW!

Review: The Ruins

Posted: April 13, 2011 in Fleur's Fails
FLEUR’S RATING: 2 OUT OF 5 CAT BISCUITS

 

 

Directed by Carter SmithStarring Jonathan Tucker, Jena Malone, Laura Ramsey.

The Archeologist didn't make it

The Ruins – I was in two minds over whether or not to rent this, but I took a chance – otherwise how are you gonna find good stuff?

Two teen couple on spring break in South America meet a German student who tells them his brother has gone off with a female archeologist to look at a previously undiscovered Mayan temple; he has a map to the site – would they like to go? Naïvely agreeing, the set off the next morning with another German boy.

On arrival they are startled by the sudden arrival of a man on a horse shouting unintelligibly. He is soon joined by more locals, all of whom are armed with bows & arrows, guns or swords. As one of their number steps forward to try and communicate he is shot in the shoulder with an arrow; before he has time to react he is shot in the face and killed. The other five kids run to the top of the temple.

This entire place is swathed in weeds, and it is these that pose the threat. After falling down holes and cutting themselves, two of the party find the weeds growing out of their wounds, the flowers also have unusual abilities.

First off this is a well-made film, the acting, direction, etc are fine – but the plot just goes nowhere. It’s pretty predictable, but still good fun, except the characters are so lightly sketched the viewer never gets to care about them, and watches the injuries and deaths rather passively. Even the ‘final girl’ left me flat. Also the film (like so many I’ve seen lately) just ends *boom*. That’s not artistic or clever, people – it’s just plain lazy; and that’s a trait I despise in anyone, let alone a film maker.

Review: Hush (2008)

Posted: April 13, 2011 in Fleur's Faves
FLEUR’S RATING: 4 OUT OF 5 CAT BISCUITS


Directed by Mark Tonderai. Starring William Ash, Christine Bottomley, Stuart McQuarrie

A tense moment

Hush – More of a thriller perhaps than horror, this magnificent British film is directed at breakneck speed. It’s about a young couple travelling on the motorway. Momentarily distracted, the lad swerves into the path of a white truck, which aggressively overtakes and promptly slams all on as the traffic is at a standstill; the back door of the truck flies up, revealing a naked young woman in a cage, screaming, before the door slams itself shut again. Thus begins a long night of terror, pain and confusion.

Filmed in a verité style – not dissimilar in its realistic tone to ‘Dead Man’s Shoes’, this is one of the most tense experiences I’ve ever had watching a film – and I watch a LOT of horror ; a cat-and-mouse game with twists you just don’t see coming (well, except one wee one!). Would make a good double-bill with another tense British film: ‘Mum & Dad’.

Highly recommended, but I won’t be held responsible for loss of fingernails whilst viewing – enjoy!

Review: Maniac (1980)

Posted: April 13, 2011 in Fleur's Faves
FLEUR’S RATING: 4 OUT OF 5 CAT BISCUITS


 

Directed by William LustigStarring Tom Savini, James Brewster, Sharon Mitchell.

Frank claims a victim

 

Maniac – People seem to miss the point of this film. It’s a classic study of the suffering, mental self-torture and delusions that drive people to become killers.

As Frank Zito, a powerhouse performance from the late Joe Spinell is central to the plot as we see him agonise over his actions and his feelings toward his victims. His hatred of women stems for his childhood treatment at the hands of an abusive mother, so although he desires women, he turns violent the moment they challenge him.

He falls for beautiful Anna D’Antoni (Caroline Munroe), and adopts a surprisingly urbane persona to attract her, all the while continuing with his nightly ‘hobbies’, decorating the female mannequins in his room with the scalps of his victims (although years before Jeffrey Dahmer, this always puts me in mind of his apartment and the ‘shrine’ he wanted to build).

If you’ve ever read anything about killers like Dahmer, Peter Kurten & Dennis Nielsen, who all lived with the bodies/body parts of their victims, and wondered how they could do that – this is the film to watch.
FX guru Tom Savini has in a small role as a guy in the car with his girl, as well as handling the effects for the film (Savini literally blew his own head off, as he wielded the rifle for the gag!)

Although executive producer of many films, it’s a shame Bill Lustig doesn’t still direct, but at least he’s making sure we all get to see great cult horror with his DVD distribution label, Blue Underground – go Bill!!

Review: Bloody Wednesday

Posted: April 13, 2011 in Fleur's Faves
FLEUR’S RATING: 3 OUT OF 5 CAT BISCUITS

 

 

Directed by Mark G. GilhuisStarring Jeff O’Haco, Linda Dona, Dale E. Turner.

Frightened and alone

 

Bloody Wednesday – Firstly, ignore the cover as seen on Amazon. I don’t know where that image has come from but it’s not from this film!

Inspired by the actions of the 1984 McDonalds shooter, James Oliver Huberty, this film follows an already-unstable character who begins to mentally breakdown after his wife is granted a divorce. He’s fired from his job as a garage mechanic for totally dismantling a car engine (and laying all the parts out in neat little rows).

His big-shot brother owns a disused hotel, which he plans to turn into flats, but ‘generously’ allows his sibling to live there until work is scheduled to begin. Unfortunately for our protagonist, a local gang uses the place as a hangout, and don’t appreciate his presence, so they begin to threaten him. Frightened, forgotten and alone, except for his teddy bear, the poor guy begins to lose his grip on reality, culminating in a killing spree.

A rather slow-burning film for those used to a lot of action, but stick with it. It brilliantly handles the mental breakdown and you genuinely feel for the poor guy who seems to have lost everything in one fell swoop.
Geeks like me who read about real-life killers will also get a kick out of it