Budd Of The Dead


Greetings and welcome to a new section entitled BUDD OF THE DEAD!! This is a place where I (Sarah Budd) will be posting a variety of film, TV, book and Horror Event reviews done in my own frightful way. My major obsession is Zombies so expect a fair amount of the undead but I intend to throw a few monsters, hauntings and a shed load of gore in for good measure!  I do hope you will join me. 


FILMS I HAVE REVIEWED

BLOODRUNNERS (2017)

ZOMBIE LAKE (a.k.a. Le Lac Des Morts Vivants) (1981)

DARKEST DAY (2015)

HERE ALONE (2016)


THE TRIBE ** U.S.A. (2016)  Director: Roxy Shih 97 mins 


After a promising first couple of minutes The Tribe quickly slows down to trickle as we meet 3 sisters whose family have succumbed to a disease that has almost wiped out the human race. Oldest sister, Jenny (Jessica Rothe) is responsible for her siblings and tries her best to control the wayward middle sister, Sarah (Anne Winters) and mute youngest sister, Danika (Chloe Beth Jones). With supplies running out they do not welcome guests kindly until one day, a floppy haired straight-out-of-a-boy band type, Ryan (Michael Nardelli) sweet talks Jenny and Danika into staying for a night with the promise of moving on the next day. This of course doesn’t happen, he stays and gains Jennies trust and interest only to bring their little sanctuary crashing down around them. This is a great concept and, if you watch the trailer, you might think it is one fraught with suspense and action. In reality though, what the trailer failed to mention is that pretty much all the action and tension occurs in the last 20 minutes and after the first promising 5 minutes it spirals into endless scenes of squabbling, angst and bickering between the 2 sisters that speak, interspersed with baby talking to and the hugging of Danika who spends the whole film with a face like a slapped arse. The introduction of Ryan’s character to the story is excruciatingly painful in places switching from saccharine sweet to dirty rat to do-gooder in an instant. The arrival of Ryan’s uncle Charlie (Cokey Falkow) and friends provides some much needed motivation to the film and it starts to pick up a bit. The mysterious illness that has befallen the human race is mentioned a few times but not really expanded upon or explained so visually looks a bit amateur. A good showcase for Jessica Rothe as she has a lot of scenes of dialogue when its just her and Danika, she and Anne Winters as the argumentative, trigger happy Sarah, do an acceptable job with their characters but for me its too little too late. As it is a low budget film the special FX are limited but not awful, the cinematography and sound track are really quite good which are about the only things going for it.




ELDER ISLAND *** U.S.A. (2016) Director: Darrin James 81 mins

Ok so, this is based on the true events of Beaver Island Michigan in the 1800’s the Director and writers just changed the name of the island in question to Elder Island. We are taken back in time to meet The Reverend, a fiercely religious man trying to control his congregation, and his family who are then gunned down by the island folk and secretly buried but The Reverend returns from the dead to exact his revenge. Back to the present day and a camera crew arrive on the island consisting of married couple Ned and Stacy Ryerson and their sound woman April, who bares an uncanny resemblance to the Rev’s murdered wife which does not go unnoticed by the islanders, to do a documentary on the legend of The Reverend and some recent unexplained deaths on Elder Island, could there be a link? As their main contact and believer in the legend mysteriously disappears after his first encounter with the documentary team the crew start to feel that there really is something to worry about as the island folk are creeping them out and more deaths befall them. The character of The Reverend (Michael Robert Brandon) is unfortunately under used as the main protagonist in this instance as although he has a chance to cut a few people up and be all sinister the main killings seem to be down to the 3 heads of the families who are the ancestors of the folks who originally killed The Rev back in the 1800’s. 2 of these are played by Danny Hicks (Jake in Evil Dead 2) and Timothy Patrick Quill (Blacksmith in Army Of Darkness) who play the parts of Lucas Heidegger and Sheriff John Ree respectively. My favourite quote being from Sheriff Ree after a visit to see Heidegger about April’s disappearance: “Who chops up a body into little pieces and buries them next to his tomatoes?? A psychopath that’s who!
The acting is pretty good bar some dodgy drunken staggering and insincere compassion. The camera work and special effects are fine, the gore is a little on the light side as much is suggested rather than shown but there are a few spilt guts, gouged out hearts and axes in the head scenes that don’t disappoint. The soundtrack works well and is performed by Chris Sorem and The Narcoleptic Pandas (great name). On the whole an ok film but nothing memorable to mention apart from maybe the fact that this is probably one of the only films I’ve seen in which no one manages to successfully light a cigarette!




PARASITES *** U.S.A. (2016) Director: Chad Ferrin 80 mins

Driving through a really rough part of town in their big, expensive, shiny truck 3 college friends end up lost and travelling deeper and deeper into unchartered tent city territory. They get a puncture and on getting out to fix it are descended upon by a large gang of hobos who threaten, beat and kill all 3 of them. Well, so they think anyway but one of them, Marshall (Sean Samuels) survives and makes a break for it stark bollock naked through the streets pursued by head hobo Wilco (Robert Miano) and his gang of blood thirsty, murderous bums most of which seem to be named after the weapons they brandish (Spade, Chains etc). Marshall spends the rest of the night fighting off bums, witnessing cruel situations of abandonment and domestic abuse and endlessly running around trying to find someone in authority to report the murder of his friends to.
The acting is great from pretty much everyone involved especially Robert Mianos (Donnie Brasco) portrayal of Wilco as the foul mouthed, bloody minded, raging homeless overlord. Sean Samuels doesn’t falter in his role of Marshall and there is a brief appearance from Joe Pilato as a ranting, drunken War Veteran now living on the streets. That being said I found the many running scenes arduous and unnecessary. The continuity of these scenes seemed way off a lot of the time. A brief example of this is a scene where Marshall is being chased by a really annoying screaming chain wielding assailant. On the long shot Marshall is easily way ahead of him but they cut to a close up and chain hobo is right behind him, cut away again and he is way behind again. They did this quite a lot, I am assuming to create tension and suspense but it seemed to only make it flat and quite frankly it did the exact opposite and just annoyed me quite a lot.
The very effective John Carpenter inspired soundtrack adds some great darkness and atmosphere throughout so hats off to Matt Olivo for that. The same cannot be said for the versions of American Folk classics “House Of The Rising Sun” and “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” sung by Miano and Samuels, nothing wrong with their singing but I wasn’t really feeling it and felt they were badly placed within the film as in not the best backtracks to endless running montages.
The ending is very Romero-esque in its bleakness though and the SPFX are perfectly reasonable with some good slicing and impaling effects. I really like the idea of this and for the most part enjoyed it but found the drawn out chase scenes let it down a lot.




WHAT'S LEFT OF US (EL DESIERTO) **** Argentina (2013) Director: Christopher Behl 98 mins


This is a film set in a post apocalyptic world. It would seem everyone is either dead or a reanimated corpse shuffling around looking for fresh meat, all apart from 3 people holed up in a house together trying to survive and wondering what happens next. They seem to have been there a while as they have a pretty tight set up, early warning systems and attempts to keep the stench of death and swarms of flies from their door. The 3 people Axel (Lautaro Delgado), Ana (Victoria Almeida) and Jonathan (William Prociuk) are embroiled in their own problems, playing with each others emotions in a dangerous love triangle communicating their true feelings via video messages. This is a zombie movie but if you’re expecting non stop action, hordes of the undead, blood, guts and humorous one liners then you’re best off sticking with Zombieland or Cockneys VS Zombies and the likes coz this movie aint that. It’s been a while since I saw this movie but it is still fresh in my mind and I can’t stop thinking about it so this lead to this review. Despite the lack of zombies this is a really well shot, brilliantly acted and enticing movie. The camera work and attention to detail is first rate, the soundtrack is well placed and effective. There are parts in the movie where they hold a zombie captive and the sound effects of its odd wheezing noises are really chilling and totally brilliant!
Not big on action or gore but a well told and sad story. Not just for zombie nuts but people who appreciate a well told tragedy, trust me it will stick with you for a while after you’ve watched it.




THE COOK *** U.S.A. (2013) Dir: Joshua Miller 90 mins

TV star Jim (Jeremy Castaldo) is grieving over the loss of his sister and returns home to throw a party in her honour with a bunch of friends. The party takes place outside at Mourning Woods, as things kick off some drunken revellers looking for a place to shag stumble across a house belonging to The Cook. A feared, psychotic, tattooed, shirtless, shamanistic man who is busy cooking up the most potent, psychedelic meth ever and he doesn’t appreciate guests. Cue a veritable smorgasbord of delightful practical gore effects, everything from a harpoon through the head to disembowelling, decapitation and everything in between. It feels to me to be a typical Slasher movie, very reminiscent of the familiars (Halloween, Scream etc) but because of its obvious low budget it falls short of these in production so maybe more likened to Charlie’s Farm and such like. The camera work is unbelievably trippy and the whole film has a great surrealism to it with the added bonus of a fantastic and unrelenting soundtrack. The Cook (Wade Blevins) himself is a very imposing and fearsome bloodthirsty maniac but unfortunately the rest of the cast are devoid of any likeable characteristics and really cringe worthy to watch, some of the fight scenes are laughable only relieved by the various mutilations. Luckily the infrequent dialogue is overlapped with the great music and crazy hallucinations. You can forgive the actors as it would seem, if you watch the end credits, that most of the cast had numerous roles behind the scenes as well, Jeremy Castaldo being responsible for the music. This movie is a lot of fun to watch, cant help but think you may need to be on copious amounts of drugs to truly appreciate it but enjoyable all the same.



BE MY CAT: A FILM FOR ANNE **** Romania 2015 Dir: Adrian Tofei 87 mins

Billed as Romania’s first found footage horror film, this quite sparse, quiet and incredibly creepy film is a fantastic thing to watch. Written, directed, filmed by and starring Adrian Tofei as the main protagonist it is a film recorded by Tofei’s character, also called Adrian, for his unhealthy obsession of actress Anne Hathaway, mostly for her portrayal of Cat Woman, as he tries to convince her to come to his hometown in Romania and be the star of his film. Due to his various mental health issues he is unable to leave his hometown so films himself with other actresses who believe they are actually starring in a proper film but are really just stand ins to show his obsession, Anne, just how great they would be together and how he could elevate her to the greatest actress ever. This is stalking from afar at its highest level and shows there are no lengths he won’t go to to get what he wants. His disregard for any other person is obvious but he does it so well.
The main cast is all of 4 people; Tofei and the 3 actresses he hires. Sonya (Sonia Teodoriv), Flory (Florentina Hariton) and Alexandra (Alexandra Stroe) and it is hard to say at times if their acting is intentionally awkward or not as on many occasions its quite uncomfortable but it adds to the realism of the film. Tofei’s acting has been described by other sources as “haunting”, “captivating” and “the most believable movie psychopath since Norman Bates” which I completely agree with and the others especially Stroe all put in fine performances. It is low budget with the emphasis on the characters so the body count is small and the SPFX non existent with the gory details concealed behind a screen which to be honest doesn’t detract from the film at all but encourages you to use your imagination. There are hints of other found footage films, The Blair Witch Project springs instantly to mind, but more in the overall feel than trying to copy them. I did read that Tofei insisted that the 3 actresses watch The Blair Witch, if they hadn’t seen it and read his manifesto on found footage before they began filming Be My Cat so they understood the concept. I also read that Adrian Tofei had been planning this film for years before filming and did in fact move himself and his mother to Radauti, Romania to experience the life his character would live, just goes to show his level of commitment to his vision. There is no soundtrack or incidental music to this film only Adrian’s favourite Romanian folk song which he regales us with from time to time.
An incredibly enjoyable film, what it lacks in gory detail it totally makes up for with great character portrayals and uncomfortable scenes.



REPORT FROM THE HALLOWED GROUND: SCARESVILLE (5 OCT 2016 - 5 NOV 2016)

It is getting close to every horror fans favourite time of year. The supermarkets and pound shops are filling up with scary masks and costumes, the weather is turning and almost everything edible is laced with pumpkin spice. October is upon us and we are all eagerly awaiting Halloween!! As this time of year grows in popularity, more and more scare attractions are appearing across the country. It has become a tradition now for me to organise a Halloween trip for my circle of friends and this year we decided to visit Scaresville – The Haunted Village. Situated at Kentwell Hall near Sudbury this Tudor mansion with its surrounding farmland and buildings were restored in 1970 and opened to the public. Scaresville has been happening here since 2006 so is celebrating its tenth year.
The event is set up all around the buildings and farmland so there are many different scares happening as you go through. The whole experience lasts an hour and a half. There is no let up, no stopping for breaks, once you are in that’s it till you reach the end. If indeed, you make it to the end that is. At least this is what they boast anyway. It is aimed at groups and when you book your group (8 or more people) you choose a time slot and are given a group number. Once you arrive you are shown into an area done up like an olde worlde fair with entertainers such as Magicians and Tarot Readers and also gives you a chance to grab some hot food and a drink before your group is called forward. Once called you are given the usual safety briefing warning of loud noises, strobe lights and uneven ground to name a few. Once the spiel is over you are encouraged to go into single file with your hands of the shoulders of the person in front, the door is opened and when you are all through you are plunged into darkness…… your Scaresville experience has begun. Obviously I’m not going to tell you every little detail, a lot of scare attractions tend to follow a similar pattern, many if not all the building scares are mazes predominantly in darkness set up to disorientate you with scare actors in a variety of costumes lurking around corners and sneaking up behind you to catch you out. One of the scariest for me was ending up in a room with a light that blinked on and off containing a Weeping Angel character. I shit you not, I was actually terrified by this. There is a small let up once you are outside as you can kind of see what is approaching and some bits are tamer than others. Another unsettling part was the abattoir section which was very wet, messy and ridiculously claustrophobic. There are also places where you are forced over wobbly bridges and to climb through net traps. As expected there were quite a few areas that housed the infamous killer clowns and chainsaw wielding hill billies. The biggest let down for me though had to be the Zombie Zone, I got all excited as I passed the sign entering said zone, I think I only counted 3 zombies one of which was in a hammock in a tree that we saw well in advance and the other 2 briefly appeared and then wondered off again. Their attempted scare was to kind of cock their head to one side which kind of reminded me of the way my cat looks at me when he decides to walk in on me on the loo! Plus none of them had make up they just wore masks which I thought was a bit of a poor show. There was another zombie type area more likened to The Crazies, containing dismembered corpses (mannequins) on tables and a couple of zombiefied nurses but again they didn’t do enough with it in my opinion.
When you have completed the event you end up in a nice cosy bar area where you can enjoy a nerve settling alcoholic beverage and chat about your experience, which was a nice touch. On the whole I did enjoy the Scaresville experience. I think they put a lot of time and effort into the set, surroundings and FX but I found the majority of the outside scare actors unenthusiastic and predictable with a distinct lack of zombies. Inside the buildings there were a number of times I jumped, was caught out and scared by quite a few of them though so fair play. Plus there was an awful lot of screaming going on from the other groups going round before and after us so they did their job and everyone who went seemed suitably freaked out at the end! If you are able to get to that part of the country and you are a fan of scare attractions then I would definitely suggest a visit. I believe tickets are still on sale for later on this month but be aware that prices for this particular event increase dramatically the closer it gets to Halloween.

If you think this is something that would interest you for 2017 then keep an eye on this page:

http://www.scaresville.co.uk/


DEAD DAD ** (2015) Origin: U.K. Duration: 25 mins Director: Lee Burgess

Dead Dad was originally filmed in 2007-2008 as part of a collection of shorts to be combined into a feature film called Dreaming Of Screaming. This and two other shorts, torture flick Looking Good and a vampire film called Lady, were to play homage to Euro Horror filmmakers of the 70’s and 80’s. However it was thought that due to the pace of the different films it wasn’t going to work so writers John Ninnis and Lee Burgess (also the director) decided to keep the films separate. This particular one was finally completed in Feb 2015 on a budget of £600 and was shot in Trelewis and Bedlinog in South Wales. Dead Dad is the story of Joe Turner, a recently widowed man who, whilst watching the local news his TV channel changes to a graveyard scene which turns him into a zombie. We are all familiar with Pontypool and the recent adaptation of Cell where contamination happens via music or mobile phones so if these are plausible then why not through the medium of TV too however far fetched it appears to be?! This recently deceased man is also a single dad to a toddler who he seems to still remember so goes about his fatherly duties as a zombie but is being harassed by a bumbling and awkward social worker who seems nice at first but grows suspicious of Joe’s recent changes and tries to take the child. Joe Turner is played by Chris James-Jones and he does an excellent job of zombieing, I am very impressed by his skills. The social worker is played by Kirk John Moore and is really quite odd and all over the place but is funny especially when planning his actions by talking rather loudly into a brick sized Dictaphone and then discovering a one armed zombie in the shed. There is also a separate story going on with the female news reporter from the local TV channel who is great at not taking herself too seriously! The make up is adequate but a few to many close ups don’t really help to do it justice. The kid isn’t in it much but there is an endearing scene with his zombie dad which is quite sweet, if you like that kind of thing, if you don’t then there are a few nods to the zombie greats. The best thing about this short is the music. The score is written and performed by Yorgos Pangagiotopoulos (I really hope this is their real name!) and it is fantastic! The synth and the reverb really help create the classic 80’s zombie movie sound; there is also a brilliant scene of our zombie dad driving off in his car to hunt victims with a hilarious tune reminiscent of Benny Hill! In conclusion this is a pretty good tribute to the great  80’s zombie B movies right down to the dodgy acting!

You can check out DEAD DAD via the links below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0iHouOQW-3I

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhjz_x2Z5Bk


THE BATTERY ***** (2012) Origin: U.S.A. Duration: 100 mins Director: Jeremy Gardner

The Battery is the tale of 2 baseball players, Ben (Jeremy Gardner) and Mickey (Adam Cronheim) forced together during the apocalypse and trying to survive. Ben is the one taking out the zombies, always on the look out, scavenging and embracing the lawlessness and great outdoors whereas Mickey seems constantly distant, moping about with his headphones on, more interested in his ex and finding a comfy bed for the night, oh, and terrified of the zombies. We follow them as they travel around New England trying to find a safe place without being trapped in. The film is pretty much just Ben and Mickey interspersed, very sporadically with some very well done old school slow zombies who although number few at the start do pick up as the film progresses. They eventually manage to contact another group but it was probably best they hadn’t. During a showdown with a desperate individual Ben tries to talk him down by saying “Don’t you think we’ve got enough to worry about without worrying about each other”, very true statement given what then befalls the unfortunate pair. For a low budget film the acting is fantastic from all involved but, of course, especially from the 2 main characters who also wrote, directed and produced the film. The way they interact with each other is highly amusing but also, given the incredibly claustrophobic nature of it especially at the end, they really show the boredom and tension involved with such a situation. The film features a great original score by Ryan Winford who used beer bottles and toasters, as well as the usual instruments, as percussion and also has songs from bands Wise Blood, The Parlor and there is an awesome scene where a drunken Ben sings along to Rock Plaza Centrals “Anthem For The Already Defeated”. This film has won various awards and also spawned a making of feature length documentary called Tools Of Ignorance: the Making of The Battery which if you enjoyed the film will be a welcome accompaniment. I most definitely do not have a bad word to say about this film, really I would have liked to have seen a few more zombies ideally but I do love a good zombie film especially ones that try to be different, it just makes them that bit more appealing. Totally love this film!





OH LORDI! : THE FILMS OF LORDI

As I mentioned in the TURNTABLE OF TERROR article on LORDI, they have been involved in one horror short, a feature length film and a documentary. Here I will attempt to provide a short (who am I kidding?!) review of said features.

The Kin ** (2004) Origin: Finland  Duration: 33mins  Director: Lauri Haukkamaa

This horror short was co-written by Mr. Lordi and starred himself and the band line up from The Monsterican Dream era in fact this film originally was only released on the special edition of said album, but I did manage to find it on YouTube. It is the story of a writer, Anna, who is trying to get her book on monsters published and following a tragic accident in  her family, sees monsters (played by the band), similar to the ones in her book start to materialise and cause mayhem and havoc by murdering and maiming seemingly innocent people. Shot in a way very reminiscent of your typical horror B movie, almost Lovecraftian in places. It features drawings courtesy of Mr. Lordi and the score also has his input but it doesn’t feature any Lordi songs.  It is rather over indulgent on setting the scene, I find the acting below average, it drags a bit and to be honest there is no where near enough Lordi monster action for my liking but when they are there they look great, there are some very good effects, gore and skull slicing. It’s definitely something you would expect from a band like Lordi to create and feature as a bonus DVD. An acceptable offering but if I am to agree with some other reviews of this short it would appear I need to watch this a few times to fully understand it. Unfortunately I can think of plenty of other things I could do to occupy myself for 33 mins to bother giving it another go…. sorry guys.

Dark Floors *** (2008) Origin: Finland    Duration: 85mins  Director: Pete Riski

This film features the band line up from The Arockalypse era, of course, playing themselves, as the monster element of this film. The main plot is centred in a hospital, a father, Noah Huntley (28 Days Later, Dracula Untold) takes his wheelchair bound Autistic daughter, Sarah, in for a brain scan as she is getting increasingly more insular and drawing dark pictures of monsters. There is a power cut and Ben (Huntley) in his frustration at the time it’s taking to investigate his daughter’s problems takes her into a lift and attempts to leave. A nurse, Emily, played by Dominque McElligott (Moon) jumps in with them to try and persuade them to stay. When the lift door opens to the next floor the whole hospital has changed, its dark, deserted and destroyed, there are hideous monsters lurking, killing and hunting for Sarah. Ben, Emily and 3 other passengers from the lift must fight for their freedom or die trying. Again this is a format that has been done many a time but the dark lighting and camera work creates an intense atmosphere and it moves more swiftly than The Kin. Lordi themselves do a fantastic job and we get to see a bit more of them this time although I cant help thinking they could’ve played a bigger part still. They wrote and performed the song over the end credits called “Beast Loose in Paradise”. The other characters are quite engaging but occasionally flat on delivery, that being said it is, of course, worth a watch.





Monsterman (Monsterimies) ***** (2014) Origin: Finland  Duration: 85mins  Director: Antti Haase

This documentary started shooting in 2010 after Babez For Breakfast was released to document Lordi’s, or predominantly, Mr. Lordi’s struggle to keep the bands momentum going after the hype had died down from their Eurovision success. The director, Antti Haase, was a childhood friend of Tomi Petteri Putaansuu aka Mr. Lordi…. was being the operative word here. This documentary was meant to be an official release from the band but after the final cut both the band and their label dismissed it on the grounds that it is untrue and gives a false image of Mr. Lordi’s private life, yet despite this it is still in circulation so if it was really that bad or falsified surely they would have fought harder to stop its production? I have to say that I found this film very moving, an emotional roller coaster in fact. It is shot superbly and at no point do you see any band members faces unmasked unless you count Awa but that is, of course, after she has left the band. It shows the wonderful bond Tomi has with his parents and pets, the way he interacts with fans and just how dedicated he is to his monsters and music. It is said in the film that Lordi is nothing without Tomi and that Lordi will end only when Tomi is no longer with us and after watching this I truly believe that statement. I feel sad that Lordi were not happy with this film as it made me relate to them/him even more than I already did in fact I have developed a serious fan girl crush on Mr. Lordi because of this! It shows the hardships, the highs and the lows of living the Rock N Roll dream. By the end of the main feature I was an emotional wreck so to try and calm myself down a bit I decided to watch the extras and out takes which totally lifted my mood. Not only is Tomi a legend in his own lifetime he is a true comic genius. My advice to you is if you were to watch just one of Lordi’s film exploits please, please give this a go!





31 **** (2016) Origin: U.S.A. Duration: 102 mins Director: Rob Zombie

On Halloween 1976 we follow a crew of carnival workers travelling through a town in the arse end of nowhere USA get stopped on the road, attacked and those that survive the attack get kidnapped and forced to play a horrific game known as 31. The rules of 31 are fairly straight forward, survive 12 hours in this huge industrial warehouse whilst being hunted by some rather unsavoury characters such as Nazi dwarves, giant men in tutus and crudely made up hideously violent clowns, all with their own ways of taunting and dispatching their victims. They appear at different intervals during the game as the odds on the captives switch depending on their chance of survival whoever manages to make it through the 12 hours wins….or do they?
This latest Rob Zombie offering has a welcome feeling of familiarity to it as it’s the same era as House of 1000 Corpses and The Devils Rejects but is an entirely different idea to those films. It, of course, has Sheri Moon Zombie as one of the lead female characters, Charly. Alongside her we also have Meg Foster as Venus Virgo and Jeff Daniel Phillips as Roscoe, with other previous Zombie favourites such as Lew Temple and Ginger Lynn putting in grand supporting performances. Malcolm McDowell appears as one of the aristocratically wigged and powdered game leaders Father Murder. The aggressors are by far one of the best parts of the film with names like Sick-Head, Psycho-Head and Death-Head but the most terrifying of all had to be Doom-Head who we see in the prologue merrily chopping up a Pastor with an axe. Played by Richard Brake (Hannibal Rising, Game of Thrones) whose wiry frame doesn’t come across as particularly menacing at first but combine that with corpse paint and knives and he turns into a blood thirsty psychopath! The film is fast paced and holds your attention throughout from the black and white introduction to the humorous one liners, good acting and a great soundtrack courtesy of John 5 (formerly of the David Lee Roth band and Marilyn Manson, now the current guitarist in Rob Zombies band) interspersed with classic 70’s tracks ending quite hauntingly with Aerosmith’s Dream On. Rob Zombie seems to take bashings from most critics slating almost every movie he has done yet despite this constant abuse he keeps doing his thing and creating great horror movies his own way. I have always enjoyed his efforts. The only slight criticism I have of 31 is that the gore just wasn’t as much as I had hoped. It didn’t seem as graphic as it so easily could have been had a little bit more time been spent on it (it was said at the start of the film that it had been filmed in something like 22 days!), instead he opted for excitable, hyper active camera work and a shed load of fake blood, it was possible to just use you imagination in these moments and the suggestion of it was still effective. He got plenty of slashing and chain saw action in to keep us happy. 31 was possibly the best introductory film I could have chosen for my first ever experience of FrightFest as nothing portrays the essence of horror more then a Rob Zombie film! Don’t let the haters sway your opinion of his work they are all worthy efforts and 31 will not let you down.






I, ZOMBIE: THE CHRONICLES OF PAIN **** (1998) Origin: UK    Duration: 85 mins   Director: Andrew Parkinson

As the camera focus’ in on a hand held tape recorder, the voice of a man on the brink of madness and desperation explains how his garden is over run with bodies, his drinking is out of hand and his black outs are getting worse. We meet Mark, a student, who whilst on a research trip for his PHD happens across some poor souls stricken with some sort of horrendous disease. Upon being bitten and infected Mark roams the woods with an unceasing urge for human flesh and claims the life of a lone camper. Close to turning himself in to the police he instead decides to disappear from his current life, rents a flat in a different city and never returns to his girlfriend Sarah. With nothing more then a tape recorder to document the stages of his affliction and a bottle of chloroform to incapacitate his victims, he struggles through endless days of seizures and black outs which increase if he doesn’t regularly feed on human flesh. When he has his victims he drags them to his flat, lays them on a plastic sheet (coz hygiene is everything!) and devours them. What he leaves behind he either buries or burns. He misses his girlfriend terribly and she haunts his dreams and ever increasing hallucinations, his only comforts being alcohol and his collection of photos of Sarah that he regularly pleasures himself over. As his condition worsens he gets sloppy and after an almost bungled attack that he only just manages to get away with he trips and breaks his leg when trying to move his latest meal. He rectifies this situation by drilling holes in his leg with his trusty Black and Decker and screws on a metal plate. Whilst we are with Mark on his horrendous journey we also follow Sarah who still has no idea what has happened to him but is trying to deal with this apparent abandonment by moving on with her life. When we near the end Mark is unrecognisable. He is rotting away before his eyes, his hair and skin is falling off not to mention a rather important organ. Suffering from almost constant seizures now it’s hard to imagine how he manages to feed himself and we leave him lying on the bed with what is left of his memories, his tape recorder and a bottle of chloroform.
This is a bit of an unknown film and if it wasn’t for the people in the know bringing it to my attention I would have gone on blissfully unaware of its existence and denied myself a truly awesome British zombie film, so thanks guys!! I found the story flowed incredibly well throughout, even though some of the hallucination sequences were a little confusing it picked back up. You really feel for Mark (Giles Aspen) who spends a fair amount of time on his own either convulsing on the floor, dismembering bodies or getting over friendly with photographs, he also did all his own stunts as well. There are some very good gory moments with well done half eaten bodies that due to how they are initially taken down may or may not wake up whilst being eaten! For a low budget film they have concentrated on accurate make up and effects. I also love how it is not your average zombie storyline either. The effects of this particular infection does not kill you instantly nor even in a few hours, there is no reanimation, you don’t die and come back craving brains. You’re still alive when you are driven to cannibalism and you’re still alive as your body is very slowly rotting from your bones. I think this in itself is a rarely used and brilliant take on things.
With all this early praise though I would like to point out a few small discrepancies, one part being, Sarah alerts the police that Mark has been missing for 3 weeks. They fill out a report and so on then nothing, some of the sequences of Sarah talking about Mark could be under police interview I guess but they don’t really make that very clear, you certainly hear nothing of a search for him. Also at one point Mark goes back to the house he shared with Sarah after a short train journey so its obvious he is not that far away or being particularly incognito either. Then there is the case of his victims, at some points he grabs them off the street in broad daylight surely someone would have seen this and found it a bit odd? He doesn’t dispose of the bodies very discreetly either, his flat appears to be in the middle of a city if one of his neighbours were to look out their window of an evening they’d see him burying ominous bin bags or burning clothes late into the night, pretty suspect behaviour really! I realise its not really meant to be about that though, it’s about the struggle, pain and despair of Marks situation I get that but it did annoy me a little.
Doing background research on this film I, of course, came across previous reviews slagging it off calling it “over serious and predictable” but I also found quite a few others giving it the love it deserves. Apparently Marc Price had said if he had known about the existence of I, ZOMBIE he probably wouldn’t have made COLIN which I would take as a compliment as although slightly similar in premise they are both done differently and are amazing films. Fangoria initially released I, ZOMBIE in 1998, it was released on VHS in 1999 and on DVD in 2014 in North America. You can only get this film on DVD from the States and even the VHS format over here in the UK will cost you twenty quid! It was 4 years in the making and was written, directed and produced by Andrew Parkinson who also did the music. On the subject of the music, for a film started in the mid 90’s and released in 98/99, the incidental music is very typical 80’s style synth/ Casio keyboard music which I really love and anytime there is a stereo on it seems to be playing 80’s pop music, I guess that and the fact I watched it from a VHS copy with that soft, older feel to it all add to the fact that I, ZOMBIE felt, to me, like it was older then it really is.
In conclusion this low budget gem is a fantastic example of a different take on a zombie pandemic, it makes you sympathetic towards Mark but there are also the little pieces that make you smile, it is by no means “over serious”. Maybe sometimes the acting could be considered a tad wooden which I suppose could fuel the over serious debate as sometimes you think they could put a smidge more emotion into it but instead they just end up looking a bit awkward but I can totally overlook that in this instance. It’s a great idea, story and pretty good execution, a definite must see for any zombie fan.





FLY TRAP (2015) *** Origin: USA  Duration: 81 mins    Director: Stephen David Brooks

This Thriller/Sci Fi/Dark Comedy is a gem of a movie! Since it hit the festivals it has won and been nominated for various awards and, it would seem rightly so. It is low budget and contains only the slightest hint of SPFX for it is not about action scenes or brutal murder but more psychological, feeding on paranoia, sense of reality and, to an extent, Stockholm syndrome. James Pond (Jeremy Crutchley) is an English Astronomer who is on his way to start his new job at UCLA. His car breaks down outside a small, quaint, seemingly normal suburban house. Knocking on the door he is greeted by Mary Ann (Ina-Alice Kopp) who invites him in to use the phone but all is not as it seems. Despite her odd behaviour and very forward approach he ends up sleeping with her before realising he is now a captive inside the house, basically being used to reproduce. He and Mary Ann are not the only ones in the house, Jimmy learns that Mary Ann has others to answer to, intriguingly named Gilligan and The Skipper this is where Jimmy really starts to question just who or what these things really are. This is very dialogue heavy and really builds around the crazy full on relationship of Jimmy and Mary Ann and the bond formed in just a short space of time. It is by no means boring at all, the humour is well placed and effective; don’t expect a laugh a minute it happens quite subtly. Jeremy Crutchley (Black Sails) is fantastic throughout and does not falter at all, in my opinion, he carries the movie from the prologue right through to the dodgy dancing and desperate attempts to escape. Ina-Alice Kopp is good as the quirky yet alluring Mary Ann but tails off a bit at the end and Jonah Blechman plays Gilligan with an odd and eerie habit of whistling to make things really quite awkward. It ends differently to how I had expected, to allow for the final monologue. The script, direction and camera work is great as it is pretty much filmed entirely in the house and primarily in the bedroom, it all flows well. The music is sparse but also effective. Given that this is not normally my kind of film I would definitely recommend it and could quite happily watch it all over again.





DARK COVE (2016) ** Origin: Canada   Duration: 84mins   Director: Rob Willey

I was excited to see this film after I saw the trailer and when I watched the main feature I realised just how misleading some trailers can be. I didn’t have massively high expectations as it’s about five Twenty-something grad students that go on a three day camping trip to let off steam, drink, smoke weed and do mushrooms….. blah blah blah familiar story. With films like this though you expect some kind of gruesome deaths and people doing horrendous things to survive don’t you? I sat through 50 minutes of (bad) dick jokes, sexual innuendos, weed smoking montages and a boring philosophical discussion about life and career choices before anything remotely interesting happened. The acting at first was actually okay though. You have the two Jock guys, one of which is played by Rob Willey who also directed it, the loser guy who constantly cracks bad jokes and makes lewd sexual comments and two girls who are actually not too annoying and don’t even get their boobs out (sorry!). Once their camp is set up they meet a perpetually drunk English guy who is with two Aussie surfers, they all get together, have a party and one of the surfers goes back to one of the girls tent with her. Things get a bit out of control and he tries to rape her. The other Jock hears his friend screaming and saves her by dragging the surfer off her and beats him to death. The other three original campers witness this and agree he was a sleaze and deserved it. They then have to bury the body and deny any knowledge or involvement, easier said then done as the dead surfers friends go looking for him and needless to say the truth comes out and one of the Jocks looses it, kills a few more people whilst a bewildered Park Ranger wonders around looking for non existent bears, don’t forget all this happens in the last half an hour!! The English guy is probably the most likeable in my opinion as at times he is quite funny when he’s not singing but the award for best over actor goes to the other Aussie surfer who at one point is so over the top you think he’s about to give himself a hernia. My favourite part of the film is right at the start when they are compiling their list of camping essentials which leads you to think it’s going to be an alright film but it goes downhill from there. The music is a mixture of Hip hop and god awful teen Pop Punk which is not to my taste at all. I think the actors did their best with the script they had, the camera work was well done and the special effects were few and far between given the fact that not a lot happened and there wasn’t much call for them say for a bit of fake blood being splashed about the place I’m afraid. Something to watch on a rainy day when there is nothing else happening!!


HORRORCON 2016: HORROR COMES TO ROTHERHAM

HorrorCon has just shut its doors on its second successful year. It took place on the 9th and 10th July at the Magna Science Centre in Rotherham. The building is fantastic, it used to be a steel mill and bears a lot of features from those days, and so has a very eerie, industrial feel to it. It apparently was also built on the site of a Roman Fort and thus rumoured to be haunted, so a brilliant place for a Horror Convention! Last years HorrorCon was kind of a tester to see how popular it would be and if they would be able to do it annually. I can’t remember how I came to hear about last years but I do remember the guests that drew me there. There was Ken Foree, Bill Moseley, Tom Savini and was one of the last UK appearances of the late Gunnar Hansen. I had an amazing time there and really hoped that it would return the next year and it appears I was not the only one! The organisers, sisters Wendy and Gill Bell, local to the Sheffield/ Rotherham area, themselves huge Horror fans wanted to develop and organise a Horror Convention on a similar scale to the larger Comic conventions to appeal to all horror fans, and after the response to last year brought it back for an even bigger and better event this year.

The venue is set out into lots of individual areas. There is The Big Hall which holds a vast traders market, bar, guest signing tables and has the Q&A area. A separate room for photo ops, a room for Body Art live demonstrations, a fantastic area set aside which shows the bare steel bones of the building, which last year was the venue for the scare experience known as THE PIT (which was really fecking scary I might add) and this year called THE ZOMBIE ROOM where you could have your picture taken with a caged zombie (very Land Of The Dead esque…. love it!!) , attend Zombie Survival School which involved target practise with knife throwing, crossbows and rifles or maybe have a bit of a mosh to the crazy covers of their resident band Iron Sphincter, zombified to the nines and feasting on brains!!. There is The Phoenix Room theatre that screened various independent short movies with a chance to quiz the directors after and a small room next to the photo ops that housed the amazing artefacts, antiquity’s and oddities of Mr. Punch’s Cabinet of Curiosities. The first room you come to is called The Red Hall which is where you find the SPFX make up artists, demonstrations and props, a small scale market bizarre and this year there was a bunch of weird and wonderful creatures (Pythons, Tarantulas and lizards) you could pet and have your picture with. So I think you will agree there is an awful lot to see and do. As well as the guests last year they mixed it up a bit by introducing lecturers, we had Dacre Stoker (the great grand nephew of Bram Stoker) come to talk about the mythology surrounding vampires and werewolves. We also had hilarious lessons on how to survive a Zombie Apocalypse from the guys at The Zombie Institute for Theoretical Studies. This year we were treated to lectures from Jason B Love a world renowned Demonologist recounting tales of true demonic infestations and Magician Ashton Carter who has a passion for the paranormal and story telling.

Anyway, I’m sure you want to hear about the guests that attended this year, well we were certainly in for a treat; in fact I spent the majority of my day in the Q&A sessions. First up was Ian McCulloch who played Greg Preston in 70’s TV series “Survivors” and went on to play Peter West in Lucio Fulci’s Zombie Flesh Eaters (1979), then again as Dr. Chandler in Marino Girolami’s Zombie Holocaust (1980) changing briefly from zombies to aliens in Contamination (1980). A very chatty man and talked a lot about the “video nasty” era and how he ended up playing the characters he did plus how he is still amazed and humbled at the popularity of these movies, not being a horror fan himself. Next up we had David Naughton who played David Kessler in An American Werewolf In London (1981). He gave us great insight into the SPFX and the length of time it took to create his transformation. Plus his career beforehand working in theatre productions of Shakespeare’s Hamlet and dancing in Dr. Pepper adverts! After Mr. Naughton the room started to fill up even more in anticipation of the next guest, Kane Hodder. Despite his intimidating size he is of course a lovely guy and over the moon to be at HorrorCon.  He talked about his career as a stuntman which subsequently led him to take on the role of Jason Voorhees from part 7 onwards of the Friday 13th movies, Victor Crowley from the Hatchet franchise and many others. He was asked at one point, if there was any iconic character he hasn’t played that he wished he had, who would it be? Pretty much as soon as he said the name Michael Myers then he appeared (cosplay of course) and spent the rest of the Q&A lurking in the corner waiting for Kane.

After that the next guest was the fantastic Doug Bradley, very well known as the lead Cenobite, Pinhead, of the Hellraiser movies and has since acted in many other horror films and had parts in TV series such as Judge John Deed and Doctors. He has also lent his voice to spoken word tracks and introductions to tracks on Cradle Of Filth albums. A very open and talkative gentleman he went into a fair bit of detail about how and why he won’t be in the newest Hellraiser offering and despite his dislike of any type of Heavy Metal he is delighted to help out on Cradle tracks and is incredibly envious of Dani Filths voice. The room emptied a bit for the final guest, but Linnea Quigley was a delight and spoke about her roles as Dolores in slasher Graduation Day (1981) and Denise in Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984) before landing the role of Trash in Return Of The Living Dead (1985). She described how she literally froze her tits off filming her nude scenes in the pouring rain and the stick she got from the extras on her apparent exhibitionism which was completely uncalled for. She went onto how she came to collaborate with Hal Kennedy on the hilarious Linnea Quigley’s Horror Workout (1990). Still very passionate and enthusiastic about modern horror today, she approves of the CGI approach especially the blood but only from the actor’s point of view of it being a lot less messy!  As well as the guests, the comperes of the sessions were also well known in their fields. We had Gary Baxter (Actor, Director, Writer and Composer), Tony Earnshaw (Author, Broadcaster and Film Festival Director) and Darrell Buxton (Film Critic, Writer and Editor) who were there to get the ball rolling to ask some in depths questions and field ours. This is the first time at a convention that I have sat in on every single Q&A as I was really interested in what they all had to say. Unfortunately, due to this fact I missed out on watching any of the short films playing in the Phoenix Room theatre apart from Metamorphosis. A four minute gem about a genetic experiment gone wrong, written and directed by Robert Nevitt and features Nicholas Vince (the Chattering Cenobite from Hellraiser) and Tony Earnshaw also plays a few of the characters. The other shorts were Vampire flick Seize The Night, written, directed and starring Emma Dark. Dead Town: Episode 1 Road To Nowhere, a zombie comedy originally designed as a web series by Peter McKeirnon and Psychological horror short The Railway Carriage by Dean Sills. As well as all the guests mentioned already also in attendance was Fenella Fielding, best known for her performance in Carry On Screaming, and Scream Queen, model and Horror channel presenter Emily Booth who were there signing autographs and posing for photos. Horror authors Matt Shaw and Shaun Hutson were also in attendance in The Big Hall ready and willing to answer questions, sign books and sell their wares. Graham Masterton was scheduled to appear but unfortunately could not due to health problems.

Of course no Horror Convention would be complete without a Cosplay competition! Known as Scareplay it was sponsored by the Smart-FX team with many awesome prizes. It seemed to me to be a very hard decision for the judges as the costumes were outstanding and ranged from popular Horror icons such as Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers etc to people who had really used their imagination and created their own monstrous characters. There did seem to be an abundance of scary clowns this year though with at least two really well done Twisty’s from AHS Freakshow who I adore!!
I can hold off no more about the traders markets my friends, no word of a lie the shops are to die for!! I was like a woman possessed buzzing from stall to stall spending my hard earned cash on so many beautiful things!! There were stalls selling Horror movie t-shirts, prints, paintings and posters. Stalls selling weapons (if you’re into that kind of thing), masks, intricately drawn independent comics, horror themed cup cakes and fudge even cute, cuddly, zombiefied, crocheted animals!! There were of course an abundance of DVDs and Blu Rays of everything from Action, Comedy and Monsters to Splatter, Supernatural and many, many Zombie movies!! What I didn’t see a great deal of though were soundtracks either on vinyl or CD but maybe, by this time, I was blinded by everything else going on and just overlooked them, they certainly weren’t obvious any way. There were stall for businesses to promote themselves such as local film festivals. The main sponsor of HorrorCon 2016 was Horror/Dark photography company Horrify Me, who had their stall in prime location by the autograph booths and were there to chat to and showcase their incredibly vast, dynamic and beautiful collection of Zombie, Vampire, Autopsy and Dark Boudoir photo shoots available to us, if we dare!

The greatest thing about the shopping was the prices which I thought were exceptional, even the official merchandise was incredibly reasonable. T- Shirts were all about £12 and DVDs starting from around a fiver. Of course, if you wanted to you could spend hundreds on some of the paintings, masks and collectables. The restaurant and bar were also well priced as far as I could tell but because of everything I wanted to see and do I plain forgot to eat or drink anything; clearly breathing in the atmosphere and all the shopping was enough to sustain me!! Ticket prices for the event were very competitive compared to other conventions based down south. I got Priority Entry tickets which cost £24.90 each including booking fee, this was just for a day ticket though I think for a weekend ticket you were looking at about £40 each which is an amazing price!! I do however have a small complaint, the doors opened for priority ticket holders at 10am and we got there about 9.45 expecting to queue for a bit, it was pissing down with rain (which cant be helped I realise) but we were still stood in the rain at 10 with no hint of being let in. Eventually the doors opened and they started sorting out wristbands but we still didn’t get into the building till after 10.30, which was a little disappointing but I soon got over it!



This convention has pretty much nailed it all in a short space of time and I can see myself returning year after year, it’s a great location, amazing prices and has something for every kind of horror genre fan. On the Saturday night they even had an after show movie night at the local cinema just down the road in Sheffield where they were showing Return Of The Living Dead for a really good price if you showed your HorrorCon wristband which is a tremendous idea especially if you have a weekend pass! I remember leaving last years con feeling exhausted but happy I’d seen everything. This year I also had an amazing time but I feel like there was a fair bit I didn’t get to see enough of so its pretty glaringly obvious that for next years event I will be getting weekend tickets!!






NAVY SEALS VS ZOMBIES  (2015)  **  Origin: USA  Duration: 84mins   Director: Stanton Barrett

This is Stock Car Racer and Hollywood Stuntman, Stanton Barrett’s, first attempt as a Director and of all the safe options he could go for he plumbed for a straight forward US Military against viral zombie outbreak offering. Set in Baton Rouge, Louisiana a crack team of Navy Seals are sent to firstly rescue the Vice President from a building overrun by a rabid horde of flesh eating zombies who are rapidly increasing in numbers. After this rescue attempt, with the addition of a tag along reporter and camera man who want the story as their exclusive, they are then sent on to a lab nearby to retrieve a scientist and her potential cure for the virus. Will this vaccine be the cure or is the cure already amongst them?  Sound familiar? It’s a fairly standard plot to a very average, under whelming zombie movie really. Not meant to be humorous you cant help but not take it seriously due to the acting from the main characters and, especially, from the zombies who at times don’t seem to be too sure if they are supposed to be shuffling or running. At one point near the end where a horde of undead are beating on a door to get in, one raging zombie seems to break character and just opens said door normally then resumes zombieing and runs off down the corridor. I award one of the two stars I have given this film to the vast array of facial hair adorned by the majority of the male cast members in fact I became slightly distracted wondering just how many different styles of facial fuzz can be on the screen at any one time, aside from the wide eyed newbie AJ (Damon Lipari) and Commander Sheer (Michael Dudikoff) who instead donned some kind of dodgy scar down one side of his face. Everyone else had some kind of beardy thing going on! The other star goes to bungling security guard Larry (Charlie Talbert) who, as well as sporting some impressive mutton chops, is the only one who is supposed to be funny. Too much CGI where practical FX would have and could have been more effective lessens the appeal of some potentially great fight scenes. I’m not knocking this film entirely as it provided me with some giggles and some uncomplicated, easy to watch zombie action I just felt the delivery fell flat of the description on the box.


 


'Z NATION' SERIES 1 & 2 REVIEWED ****

Season 1: 13 episodes  Season 2: 15 episodes

Origin: USA Created by: Karl Schaefer and Craig Engler


This TV series is a Horror/Comedy show set a few years into a zombie apocalypse. Murphy was a prison inmate before the zombie apocalypse and once it broke out was used, along with others, to test vaccines for the outbreak. Just as he was injected the lab was over run by zombies and he was bitten several times but remained seemingly unchanged. This makes him a potential walking cure for the virus which means he is incredibly sort after. The main plot of both series is to get Murphy to the CDC in New York to create a vaccine.

He starts out with a group of soldiers escorting him but when we meet them he is down to just one soldier, Hammond, with him and as the episodes play out and progress he ends up with a small group of survivors from different walks of life trying to help get him to the CDC. With the help of a guy calling himself Citizen Z (a former computer hacker taken on by the NSA and based in the Arctic) , the sole survivor after the outbreak at the Northern Lights listening post he runs a radio broadcast out of the doomed outpost, with access to satellite cameras all over the states he can see the carnage caused by the ZA as it unfolds and with little radio contact tries to guide the intrepid group to their destination. This all sounds pretty serious and it is a genius idea and setting but the characters and the many ridiculous zombie frequented situations are absolutely hilarious!! Where shows like The Walking Dead have you immersed, deeply involved and perched on the edge of your seat, watching as well known characters meet their demise you’d be lucky to finish a cup of tea watching it. Z Nation is a definite take away pizza, 6 pack, put your feet up and laugh your arse off kind of show. Not a show to be taken too seriously but as it develops you find yourself getting more attached to these people. The writers Karl Schaefer (Eerie Indiana & Eureka) and Craig Engler (Zombie Apocalypse & Rage of the Yeti) set about creating this series with a deliberate over the top, truly bat shit crazy look at a zombie apocalypse featuring everything that The Walking Dead would not even dream of. They claim that The Walking Dead is just a bit too serious and have proved that even though their take on the ZA is ridiculous it is just as endearing. In the first few episodes of series 1 you get a really angry and fast zombie baby and a bus load of zombie children. In other episodes you encounter zombie bears, Amish zombies, giant zombie infested cheese wheels, stoned zombies, a phenomenon known as a Zunami and my all time favourite thing ever a ZOMBIENADO (Yes people it finally happened and I truly believe we need more of them!!), nuclear zombies and even half zombie half plant symbiosis. In the second series we are introduced to Z weed, oh and in one truly bizarre episode they end up in Roswell and find what they think are zombie aliens!! All kinds of types of zombies are in there from the super fast to the slow more decayed ones.




The characters are fantastic and really well acted. Murphy, played by Keith Allan (Rise of the Zombies), is supposed to be unlikeable. He is sleazy, under handed and only thinks of himself but as the series progress you can’t help but have a soft spot for him. As he gets bitten early on in the first episode but doesn’t turn, due to the vaccine he was given, he doesn’t really stay human but becomes a kind of half zombie with hilarious consequences. Some of the other characters are Lt. Roberta Warren (Kellita Smith) and Charles Garnett (Tom Everett Scott), ex National Guard soldiers who join the quest to get Murphy to the CDC after their original camp is over run but eventually end up as the leaders. Doc (Russell Hodgkinson) is a happy go lucky psychiatrist and recovering drug addict, the elder of the group but seems to get into the most trouble. Addy ( Anastasia Baranova) is probably my favourite character; she has her own vulnerabilities and past experiences but is a total badass when it comes to fighting zombies. Her weapon of choice is a metal baseball bat with spikes in it, this has now become my number one option if/when the ZA happens. Mack, played by Michael Welch (who was apparently in the Twilight films?!), is Addy’s boyfriend quite moody but very protective of his girl and a dab hand at killing zombies. Then we meet a guy who at first starts out as just being known as The Kid (Nat Zang) , he is a very talented shooter and is trying to hit ten thousand zombie kills so is then called 10K (we do find out his real name eventually!). As great a marksman as he is he has a naivety about him that is kind of odd but annoyingly really attractive. Finally there is Cassandra (Pisay Pao) a loner they rescue from being eaten who then nearly gets them all killed. In the second series we meet a bounty hunter called Vasquez (Matt Cedeno) who joins the team and has an agenda all of his own. And of course we have Citizen Z (DJ Qualls off of Road Trip), he appears throughout most of the episodes in series 1 and has a few episodes dedicated to his character so we can make up our minds if he is really loosing it out there all on his own. Over the series there are guest appearances from the likes of Bill Moseley, Harold Perrineau, George RR Martin and Missi Pyle.


I personally feel this is a truly brilliant series that keeps your interest throughout and leaves you wanting more, whether it is even more crazy zombies or actually finding out the characters stories and following their journey. There are some sad times and even some of the more permanent characters don’t make it but they always seem to keep it fairly light on the emotion so you don’t become too attached I guess. The budget is no where near on the same scale as The Walking Dead but they have done brilliant things with what they have. The zombie make up and special effects are done in the 80’s kind of style of zombie, mostly blue and green with a truck load of fake blood which I really approve of. I have raved about this series ever since the first episode and advised all other zombie fans or The Walking Dead fans to watch it and some of them did but to be honest they don’t seem as excited about it as I am. Even though I have said not to compare it to The Walking Dead some of them have and really don’t like it but I consider myself a fan of both and believe it is possible to enjoy both series as they are so different from each other. If you are a fan of zombie flicks and having a laugh you will love it. The second series has just finished and I know a third series is on the cards and with a bit of luck many more to come.






Colin        (2008)    *****  Duration: - 1hr 37 mins  Origin: UK  Director: Marc Price

Colin arrives home shaken, dazed and numb. Blood soaked hammer in his hand and a rather nasty bite wound on his arm. The zombie apocalypse is in full swing and the poor guy just got tagged. If that wasn’t enough, as he’s cleaning up he gets attacked and bitten again by his zombified housemate and after much slipping around in blood he manages to kill him with a few stabs to the cranium with a kitchen knife. Colin then succumbs to the infection and after a pretty hideous time of it reanimates, falls out of his living room window and shuffles off. We follow him as he stumbles around working out how to zombie, we see him as he joins in with other Z’s on his first feed and rejoice with him when he makes his first kill. Along the way poor Colin is mugged by the uninfected for his shoes but is rescued by his sister and, after a scuffle and an unfortunate mishap, wonders off on his way.

As we follow him we run into a few siege scenarios where the uninfected are trying hard to survive and fight but with very little success. We come to a house that has been overrun with only a lone female survivor who Colin is somehow compelled to follow. Taking refuge at a pub with a seemingly friendly landlord she ends up in deeper shit then she was before, Colin moves on. He stops and stares intently at certain street signs and landmarks like they mean something to him almost like a pre programmed urge is drawing him in a certain direction but again is stopped. This time he is kidnapped by his sisters’ husband and taken to his childhood home where they hope seeing his mother will spark some recognition, it doesn’t. Back on his way again he (inadvertently) joins a horde of zombies just as they are attacked by a group of survivors using sling shots firing razor blades and make shift grenades. Many of the horde are destroyed and Colin suffers severe damage but manages to get away. A few of the survivors are bitten and the rest of the group are left to draw straws as to who has the misfortune to dispatch the infected and they basically have to beat them to death. The film ends with Colin reaching the last place he remembers before he was infected and a flash back to his last thoughts.

Marc Price (Director) shot this film on a Panasonic Mini DV Camcorder and edited it on his home PC, in total the film took 18 months to complete. The zombies were recruited mostly through the medium of social media and many of them played multiple characters and did it for free which I’m sure helped to keep costs down. On the cover the film boasts that it was made on a budget of £45, I don’t know how true this statement is. It is defiantly low budget but done brilliantly. Colin is played by Alastair Kirton and he does a tremendous job. With very little dialogue he makes Colin a really likeable zombie and not in a stupid, mushy way like some do. His little quirks like stealing an MP3 player off a victim as they’re eaten (complete with their ear) just makes you really fond of him. I actually felt sorry for him quite a number of times.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I absolutely adore this film and have as much fondness for this as I do for any of George Romero’s classic zombie movies. I have read some very damning reviews of Colin though which I categorically disagree with. They say there is no plot and that due to the lack of dialogue it is boring and goes nowhere. I just think that it is a different take on the genre. There are no heroes, no massive explosions and no half dressed overly grateful blonde I’m afraid but to me it just proves how unnecessary that stuff is. If I was to be completely objective and go with my head I would rate this film with 4 stars because some of the acting is a little questionable at times but I’m not going to, I have to go with my heart and give it 5 stars. I can forego the dodgy acting purely for the make up, fake blood and effects used to create the zombies, especially Colin himself. I have seen bigger budget zombie movies with worse zombie make up then this. I feel that they really thought about this and didn’t turn everyone your bog standard green/blue colour. Colin, when first turned just looked slightly paler and as he starts to decompose you see his skin start to sag and thin, towards the end in a battle with some survivors a make shift bomb blows up right next to him taking half his face off.

In conclusion this film might be a little bit wobbly in places, doesn’t have big names or dramatic explosions but it does seem to me to be how it could be if this actually happened over here. I know one thing though I might love Colin but if I met him I’d run in the opposite direction!!

 



 Green Room   (2015)  ***** Duration: - 1hr 35mins  Origin: US  Director: Jeremy Saulnier


Small time punk band The Ain’t Rights are touring the Pacific Northwest in their clapped out van trying to “make it”.  After a guy organises a gig that barely buys them lunch he promises them a show (that pays) that night at a club but warns them of a Neo Nazi presence. Turns out the whole gig is organised by skinheads. Still, after playing and winding up the crowd they get paid and attempt to make a sharp exit. One band member forgets their phone and another goes back to retrieve it and ends up witnessing a murder.

The band is then all bundled into the back room, and scene of the crime, whilst the skins call in their boss to deal with the situation. This isn’t necessarily a good outcome for the band as it stands but exacerbated by the fact that the band decides to call the police to report the murder. The boss, Darcy Bunker, played by none other then Patrick Stewart, is a well spoken but fearsome and threatening character who, with the help of his loyal followers stages a stabbing to throw the cops off and make them think that was what the original call was about. He then turns his attention back to the band and plans to make sure they will never leave the room.

Director, Jeremy Saulnier, does a fantastic job of showing the band members characters before hand without taking up too much film time getting to know everyone. Shot mostly in and around the room they are shut inside, it captures their blind panic and fear when they realise what is happening and the lengths they go to just to escape and the devastation that befalls them. There is violence a plenty, be it from a machete, shotgun, killer dogs, fire extinguisher or just getting the absolute shit kicked out of you. The camera work and special effects are spot on, with everything from half severed limbs to holes blown through faces with dramatic effect. Other cast members are Anton Yelchin (Fright Night) as Pat, Imogen Poots (28 Weeks Later) as Amber and Eric Edelstein (The Hills Have Eyes 2) as Big Justin to name a few.

I’ve already mentioned Patrick Stewart’s role but as we are so used to seeing him in wholesome and trusted character roles such as Capt Picard its worth mentioning him again as he does sterling job as a Nazi mentalist leader. He is incredibly chilling, you don’t see him attacking anyone and he doesn’t hog the limelight so to speak as his part is quite small in comparison but his manner really puts you on edge. Couldn’t think of a better person for the role although he wouldn’t spring instantly to my mind which is why I think the casting for this film has been thought out really well.

One of my favourite things about this film is the music and the nods to some truly great Punk bands. To provoke a reaction from the crowd the band plays a cover of the Dead Kennedys “Nazi Punks Fuck Off”. They are also wearing Minor Threat and Dead Kennedys T-shirts and the cover/poster of the film is reminiscent of the iconic image of The Clash’s “London Calling” cover.
I don’t want to over do it on the description of this film as it is definitely recommended that you go and see it as soon as possible, it hit the cinemas last month so don’t delay it any longer. It is gloriously gory, vigorously violent and sweet music to your ears!!


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