That Good-Bad Kind of Thing and 100 Acres of Hell

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So picture this, there I am, face down in a pizza box that held something so gigantic that I am pretty sure the combined stomach of the ninja turtles could not digest it – the thing was huge. The time was 2am and I was falling asleep as per usual. How many empty beer bottles were on the table? 4..5…  ‘IT DOESN’T MATTER HOW MANY BEER BOTTLES ARE ON THE DAMN TABLE’. You will have to excuse my best Dwayne Johnson impression, even thinking back to it, I was in the zone!

It was 2004 and I was a little less wiser to the world and had way too much time on my hands – I was awake to watch WWE Taboo Tuesday and I was not about to let the famous concoction of beer and pizza end my night early. I glanced over at my friend who, to be honest, was completely unimpressed by Kane and  Gene Snitsky going toe to toe. When I say unimpressed, I mean that he was actually snoring his head off to the point that my cat had left the comfort of its spot in front of the fire to find solace elsewhere. I however, was enjoying the battle of these two juggernauts. I enjoyed it even more when Snitsky took a chair to Kane and put him out of action. I was not about to race to the online store and get a Snitsky t-shirt but he had just totally decimated one of my childhood nightmares – Thanks Gene! Obviously, Kane being put out of action was just an angle for WWE and purely written in to the show to support the giant’s absence for the filming of See No Evil.

See No Evil turned out to be pretty good as far as horror films go and I can say that I own a copy. That is why I was a little bit excited when I cam across a film project called 100 Acres of Hell on indiegogo. The film stars none other than Gene Snitsky as an injured wrestler who takes time out after a family accident to go hunting with his friends at an abandoned wildlife sanctuary. Imagine their journey through this forest filled terrain that lacks any kind of authoritative presence or means of contact to the rest of the world, and now imagine that a psychopathic killer is on their tail with the intention of ending their whirlwind bromance. If you are picturing this then you have probably come to the same conclusion that I have – it sounds bad.. Good-bad.

Despite the age old plot that is always destined to fail, the film still has an appeal to me and that is because it sounds entertaining. In my opinion, there are two kinds of ‘bad’ films; the kind that you turn off after ten minutes because you are no longer connected to the story, and the kind that manage to keep your attention because they are just plain fun. The latter seems to spring to mind when I read about this film and I am okay with that. After all, I watched wrestling because it was ‘good-bad’ and that entertained me for years. The fact that Gene will pretty much be playing himself, and the news that Jay Lee (Zombie Strippers!) will be directing, lead me to believe that this film may actually intend to be that ‘good-bad’ product that I am expecting.

I hope that 100 Acres of Hell meets the target that has been set on indiegogo; if you feel like helping it out then head here and donate:

100 Acres of Hell indiegogo campaign

For Snitsky! (and for me to be able to prove to my friend that not everybody is put in to a trance by the man previously employed by WWE)

P.S. The film also stars Samu – one half of the Headshrinkers!

 

 

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M.R. James and My Trip to Eton

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I have been away for a while and can only apologise for the disappearing act. I would like to say that I have been on a magical adventure that culminated in something along the lines of the ending to the sixth sense (No spoilers for anybody who has been living under a rock) but that would just be an outright lie. Although my journey lacked a certain Shyamalan twist, it was still somewhat exciting and definitely worth the time in the end. Along with my sister, I found the resting place of one Montague Rhodes James OM FBA – Author, medievalist scholar and provost of King’s College, Cambridge and of Eton College.

Little did I realise at the time, we had found the headstone, seemingly untouched for sixteen years, just 2 days before the 80th anniversary of his death and merely a month after his 154th birthday. After an initial bit of navigating through a mass of monuments to the long since passed and a little bit of tidying around the site, we found the man himself deep within a mass of low hanging branches around the edge of Eton Town Cemetery. It was a sad site to see such a legend of horror lore forgotten for such a prolonged amount of time.

Through his stories, M.R. James managed to influence multiple generations of storytellers; lets all take a moment to read a short story and remember one of the greats.

Horror and the Social Media Movement

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Trawling through the online world of horror with only my laptop screen for light was somewhat reminiscent of the old days. I used to sit huddled under my covers reading the latest story from the Creepy Pasta community when I couldn’t sleep; not a very sensible past time when you consider the deranged content plastered across the site. Back in the present I was doing it all over again, only this time, I was watching a horror film that I had just discovered moments previously. Some clever soul had used Twitter’s Periscope to film an entire home invasion film and I was genuinely amazed at the effort that had gone in to the final product. “This is not right”, I cursed to myself. Twitter was for hounding people in to playing video games with me and entering competitions; at most it was for bagging some sold out concert tickets last minute. I was wrong.

In this age of social media there are far more possibilities than there were before. For example, take my blog. I am able to communicate and voice my opinion on anything that i choose to do so; I can network and promote my work too. This is something that was not possible back in the days of Creepy Pasta sessions; I would have had better luck going down to speaker’s corner in Hyde Park and thrusting my pointless preferences on the general public and unsuspecting tourists. Sure, I’d clearly be earmarked as one of the looney contingent but at least I would satisfy my thirst for debate. Thankfully, me having a platform to rant on is not the pinnacle of the social media movement. People are utilising the likes of Twitter, Facebook and now Snapchat to move further ahead of the game and this Periscope flick proved it.

Since the day that I watched this film, its name slips me by, I had close to no luck in finding anything similar – until now.

Sickhouse is a new film that is entirely comprised of snapchat videos and it is establishing itself in the annals of horror as a main player of the new generation. In the film, a group of friends go on a trip to the woods to explore a building of some description; presumably, there are dire consequences. Sickhouse is the brainchild of Hannah Macpherson and is being billed as the first film ‘made for mobile’. Co-creator Jake Avnet described their reasons for this different format of film:

“Younger audiences are not going to the theaters; they’re not watching TV. They spend their time online watching YouTube, Snapchat, etc. Since this is where these audiences live, why should we try to force them to go elsewhere to watch a movie or show?”

Agreed!

I hope that this is the start of something great within the horror genre; maybe it will put an end to the relentless releases of found footage film that infiltrate every corner of the market?

If, like me, you are interested in the film, it will be available on Vimeo from June 1st. You can head over to Youtube and check out the trailer right now.

 

Demons Remake on the Horizon

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I have mentioned the old Italian horror films of days past (1980’s) a few times as of late and for good reason too; the films that constitute this area are a different breed of horror that you simply cannot find elsewhere. Sure, they were somewhat over the top, displayed an unusual narrative that often bordered on soft-core pornography and never really made it in to the mainstream, but they were also entertaining. When it comes to Italian horror, many directors managed to establish themselves as true commanders of the genre through their different approach, the most famous one of them being Dario Argento; one of Argento’s most well known films was a gore-induced film called Demons.

Officially let loose in 1985, Demons was the brainchild of three of the most well known and influential men in the Italian horror business – ArgentoLamberto Bava and Sergio Stivaletti. The film entails a group of people who are stranded in a movie theatre filled with Demons; they spend their time fending off the evil creatures. Notably, the film is rather refreshing due to the setting of West Berlin being portrayed in a way that does not revolve around the political situation at the time.

By now, you are probably wondering why I am explaining the plot of a thirty year old film to you; I would not blame you for questioning my choice. I have dug up this old classic because incoming news suggests that the three legendary filmmakers are planning to revive this masterpiece, and with it, the entire industry of Italian horror.

It seems that the three men have been deep in discussion about the possibility and know of the loyal fanbase that the film, amongst others, still holds. It is Stivaletti, the make-up and special effects artist for Demons, who let the news out in a recent interview. He explicitly mentioned that any kind of remake would have to include the former crew and even touted the idea of 3-D being utilised on the project.

I’m all for a remake being made, especially if it is helmed by the old guard – 3-D I am not so sure about..

 

 

The Greatest Marketing Campaign in the History of Horror


At some point in the last fifty years, something unexplainable happened in the world of horror. One minute everything was suspenseful with a modicum of blood; the next, full on gore became the sought after end product. There have been a few films that were so realistic in their depiction of blood and guts that the authorities felt inclined to investigate further. In fact, there is quite a list when it comes to horror films that ended up in this place; perhaps, none of them are more important than Snuff. 

In 1976, husband and wife directing duo – Michael and Roberta Findlay filmed an incredibly low budget film in Argentina. Created on a show-string budget of $30,000, the picture followed the story of a Charles Manson style cult and, at this point, held the title of Slaughter. The film was completed and handed to a low budget producer who went by the name of Allan Shackleton and that, so they thought, was were the journey ended.

In 1975, whilst reading his daily newspaper, Shackleton came across a story that covered rumours of real snuff films being made in South America – this became the start of his master plan. Shackleton organised for a new ending to be made for the film and changed the title to Snuff before it was released.

In this new ending, the supposed crew of Slaughter all rally together and murder a woman working on the set; the murdering group then precedes to pull her intestines out before the film cuts abruptly. After the woman is attacked, a clear conversation between crew members is heard; they are discussing whether the event had been captured on film.

Attempting to cash in on the rumours surrounding South America, Shackleton went as far to market the film as a ‘real life’ snuff film and used the slogan, “The film that could only be made in South America… where Life is CHEAP”.

Unsatisfied with his handy work, Shackleton was not finished with his professional marketing campaign. The producer hired fake protesters to picket the cinemas that were showing the film and all of this worked to his advantage. That was until a group called ‘Women Against Pornography’ really did picket the showings – allegedly for the films depiction of sexual violence.

In 1976 the film was outed as a hoax but still received a lot of attention from people who refused to believe that it was fake. The film was investigated by authorities but then ultimately thrown out by the District Attorney who claimed that it was “nothing more than conventional trick photography—as is evident to anyone who sees the movie”. The DA also made it clear that the ‘murdered’ actress was alive and well.

I can just see the faces of the poor Findlay’s when the news broke. Then I imagine their faces when they realise that the film that cost them $30,000 and began life as Slaughter, actually took ten times that in the first eight weeks of a limited box office run.

If there is one thing to take from this, it is the fact that Allan Shackleton is, or was, most probably, one of the greatest marketers in the world. I wonder if he’s available to promote my blog..

The Old Dark House (1963)

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Keeping with the theme set by my previous post on a lost Australian gem, I would like to share another ‘lost’ film that is perhaps one of the most unusual pictures that I have ever seen. The Old Dark House was found in the vault at Universal Studios after thirty years M.I.A. and I can safely say that I am thankful to whoever uncovered it. It mixes a fantastic combination of comedy and horror as it follows a collection of people who have taken shelter in an old, almost dilapidated, mansion in Wales; it is based on the novel ‘Benighted’, which was originally written by JB Priestley.

The family who lives in the mansion are a colourful bunch of misfits includes the ultimately camp Horace, his dead sister, their father who has lived for well over a century, the fire-obsessed brother who is held prisoner in his own attic, and the butler who has a habit of getting blind drunk. The Femm family is filled with hilarity and witty dialogue, which all adds to the appeal of this, almost lost, classic.

Despite the comedic elements, there is still an eeriness to the whole affair and a dose of creepiness to savour. I highly recommend this to anybody who wants an old classic to pass the time – Boris Karloff is a wonder.

New Frontier

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As of this morning I have decided to oust the shackles that keep me locked in the WordPress dungeon and branched out a little bit further. I will be sharing my posts across a plethora of social media platforms as opposed to just Twitter. From now onwards I will be able to harass you with my nonsensical ramblings on Facebook, Pinterest (Although, I cannot figure out what this strange contraption is) and Tumblr. I am choosing to target more areas of the internet in an attempt to find all of the likeminded people who love horror, film, reading, writing and just about anything else as much as I do – wish me luck!

Remember, you can run (from WordPress), but you cannot hide – I will find you.

 

The Lost Australian Horror Film

  
We all love the aura that surrounds a long lost film. We love the idea that something is existing out there, untouched by human eyes and waiting in the shadows for someone to discover. The thought of this wets our appetites and intrigues us greatly. Our interest grows further when we discover that this long lost film is described as being beautifully calibrated in a “..visually, dramatically, atmospherically and psychologically..” pleasing way by Martin Scorcese. The trouble is that lost films are rarely found; thankfully, Wake in Fright does not conform to this. 

The film depicts a teachers descent in to madness while being confined to the outback. It is highly regarded enough to receive a rating of 100% on Rotten Tomatoes and the story of how it was discovered again is no less than remarkable. 

After years of searching, Tony Buckley, the films editor, tracked it down to a warehouse where it was distributed across two large boxes both labelled, ‘FOR DESTRUCTION’. If he had arrived any later, the film would of been destroyed in a mass clear out – the man is a hero!

It is worth noting that the film also premiered at Cannes Film Festival in 1971. Do you need any more reasons to go and check this out? I will give you one anyway – Donald Pleasance is in it. 

Enjoy!

K-Shop – An Interesting Journey in to British Culture

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Whether it be a late finish at the pub, a visit to a packed nightclub or a relaxing evening at a friends, we have all experienced the vulgarity and nonsensical behaviour displayed by drunkards on the journey home. Stories about people being attacked on their journey home litter news websites and, on the face of things – it would seem like the world is becoming a cruel and torturous place. That man who was beaten to death, the one who had a wife and kids – it always seems like the same story. But, what if.. What if his children weren’t so forgiving as people seem to be in reality?

Cue K-shop, an interesting look in to the drinking culture and Britain as a whole. Whether intentional or not, the premise of this upcoming film resinates deep inside; i am cheering for the man who seem to be channeling Sweeney Todd.

 

If you haven’t guessed already, the film follows a kebab shop owner who turns in to a maniacal killer as a result of his father being beaten to death by yobs. Having killed them, he then disposes of his victims by serving them to the very people he despises. It intersperses real-life clips of the night life in Britain and paints a realistic picture of the issues that binge drinking creates. The kind of thing that we may think about but could never say.

My alliance with the killer may seem ridiculous on the face off things but hear me out before you cast your judgement. I am of the group that feel margianlised by the ever-increasing number of yobs in my hometown. I despise the fact that they loiter around causing trouble and lament the fact that I could never raise a family in an area where people are beaten up for the sake of five pounds. The idea that our sweeney-todd-esque kebab shop owner is avenging all of the people that have intimidated me in the past is downright perfect. Films should be relatable and this couldn’t be more on the mark.

Check out the trailer above to get a sense of what you can expect from this film.

The Dark Signal

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Anybody who has read my material, or glanced upon my blog for more than a few moments, would be familiar with my penchant for homegrown horror. There is just something far more sinister and creepy about terrifying events occurring on your own doorstep. The familiarisation with dialect and the surrounding world adds to the inner fear that all horror films prey upon. This leads me to The Dark Signal and the eerie landscape that has been chosen for the events to unfold.

The film, shot in North Wales, has been on my radar for quite some time and I am excited to share that this film will now be getting the full works in regard to a premier – this is something that I feel the film is utterly deserving of. Drawing inspiration from films such as Ringu, Siren and The Fog, the film, directed by Edward Evers-Swindell seems to be a production worthy of many highly regarded personnel. Fans of Game of Thrones will instantly recognise James Cosmo, Torchwood aficionados will be familiar with Gareth David Lloyd’s representation and perhaps are more youthful group of the audience will no doubt recognise Siwan Morris from Skins fame.

As if this cast wasn’t exciting enough, the director has managed to secure Cinzia Monreale for a role and this excites me the most. For those of you who are familiar with Lucio Fulci and Dario Argento’s contribution to the world of horror, you will recognise her from The Beyond and The Stendhal Syndrome retrospectively (If you are not familiar with these two incredible directors, I suggest that you go forth and watch everything – they will not disappoint). The veteran actress has also graced the screen with Hollywood legend Sofia Loren, which should give an even bigger indication to her acting capabilities.

Set around Snowdonia, this is perhaps one of the only notable films where the dark and dreary landscape is allowed to portray itself; many films have used the setting before but few have let it just be itself. The film shows us the journey of a woman who is stranded in the Welsh wilderness when a murder is committed; she bands together with a group of radio station workers to investigate the crime. The film has a lot of promise because of the directors previous work with Neil Marshall on The Descent Part 2, a film that did not live up to its predecessor but stood firm on its own nonetheless. It is worth noting that Neil Marshall’s previous work includes Dog Soldiers, which is perhaps one of the better werewolf films made in recent years.

If the cast and setting do not appeal to you as a horror fan then perhaps the fact that the films Visual effect expert won an oscar for his work on Ex-Machina will tempt you in to viewing. DNeg’s Whitehurst, Paul Norris and Mark Ardington, and Milk VFX’s Sara Bennett’s work on that film was unbelievably good and it seems that others thought so too as it pipped the latest Star Wars entry, The Revenant, The Martian and Mad max to the award.

The film has it’s premier at a lesser used Cineworld theatre in Broughton on 21st April but will be available to purchase in stores and online from 30th May onwards – it will probably make its way to Netflix too but there is no guarantee.

If you like what The Dark Signal offers then go give it a watch and support local film.