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..

 

 

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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.

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.

Lights Out: Review

  
Occasionally, I like to take a break from the twisted world of horror films but don’t worry, I do not travel far at all. I scour the Internet to see what has been introduced on the short film circuit instead. It amazes me that I am never short of great content; without further ado, Lights Out.
Lights Out – Short Film – Clip

So what did you think? I personally think that this is one of the best executed horror films that I have seen in a long time, and this is despite the reveal of our antagonist at the end. 

The film starts with the woman clearly settling down for the night and as she turns the light off, we are dropped in to that all too familiar place; you know, the one where we think that we see something in the darkness that has suddenly enveloped the room. The dark figure we see at the end of the corridor is the embodiment of what is supposed to scare us the most – the fear of the Unknown. 

The figure is there and it is real but that’s about as much as we know. Borrowing from the realist tradition, we are not given many clues as to what is going on; the narrative is not important, the characters are. 

As the woman flicks the light on and off, we expect that each time, the eerie shape will appear closer – this is not the case. What happens instead is both simple and genius in its execution – Nothing happens for the first few times. The figure remains where we first saw it as the corridor is repeatedly plunged in to darkness. This is a great build of suspense because it is unconventional in comparison to the traditional horror. When the figure eventually does appear, it is right in our faces. The over the shoulder shot makes us relate with the woman and it truly makes you jump. 

In such a short amount of time we learn so much information but mainly the purpose of the light. No vocal cue needed, just the image of the woman taping the light switch in place – clearly our antagonist resides in the darkness. Like so many horror films before it, the light is the safe zone and the dark spells trouble. Somehow though, Lights Out seems fresh in its approach. 

The suspense continues after the woman runs to her bed. Perhaps this is so prominent because of the relationship that the safety of bed has to many of our childhood memories? If you have ever tucked yourself in to the covers, afraid to leave a leg outside, you will know what I mean.

Eerie noises and the impending creaks from the hallway keep us on the edge of our seats as all of these sounds lead us towards the belief that this unknown thing is approaching. As soon as the light goes out in the corridor we are once again shocked. This thing is not just her imagination. It’s real.

The lighting is used again to display a flickering lamp and the woman is forced to conjure up all her courage to put her arm out of the safe zone that she has made within her bed. She firmly pushes the lamp back in and restores the light and foolishly we believe that she has vanquished the evil presence.

Wrong. We see a strange creature with a creepy and psychopathic grin staring right at her after she gains the confidence to come out from under the covers. Usually, this would be the point that I am disappointed, the reveal, but instead I’m unnerved. 

The fear that I had as a child, that fear of the dark, never really went away. We all lie to ourselves and try to believe that it’s in the past but we in reality, we fear the unknown. The dark is the Unknown. 

This film builds suspense like no other and it does it in a fraction of the time-frame that others do. David Sandberg and Lotta Losten tapped in the fear that we all try so hard to suppress and done it in only a couple of minutes, this truly amazes me and scares the Hell out of my inner child.

I welcome the though of a feature by these two.

Great!

The Nightmare: Appreciation

Anyone that suffers with sleep paralysis is more than familiar with the mixture of opinions that circulate. A lucid dream, hallucination, or something of the occult; truth be told, nobody actually knows what the reasons are for the terrifying side effects and a recent documentary was a huge let down in regards to the study of this subject – I would write a review but i’m not going to waste my time. Instead, enjoy this interpretation of one of the differing opinions. Freudian or a representation of a genuine nightmare?

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The Nightmare is a 1781 oil painting by Anglo-Swiss artist Henry Fuseli (1741–1825). Since its creation, it has remained Fuseli’s best-known work. With its first exhibition in 1782 at the Royal Academy of London, the image became famous; an engraved version was widely distributed and the painting was parodied in political satire. Due to its fame, Fuseli painted at least three other versions of the painting.

– Wikipedia.

What is Horror?

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These days, far too many films are categorised as horror when they are in actual fact, something completely different. Gone are the days of suspenseful scenes that have you hanging on every eerie second of silence, in are the countless takes, depicting graphic mutilation and needless gore. Take hostel for example, the only thing that it succeeded in, was making a handful of people scared to go on holiday to Eastern Europe. If the fear of the unknown is the base of all fear, what good is it to see all of the terror, up-close and personal?

I am not one to follow the current trend of shock tactics and needless to say, I am not a huge fan of Hostel. That is not to say that I hate it, I actually believe that it has a place in cinema – just not a place in the horror category. The same opinion applies to many other films that make their way on to Netflix on a regular basis; there is no longer any rigid guidelines for what horror should be. Years ago, you would know where to look for the film that you wanted to watch, now you have to do some digging, especially when it comes to foreign horror films.

Genuine horror films are stuck in the ‘World Cinema’ section where they are destined only to be found by people who actively seek them and this is not just contained to the current horror trend or just to film; music falls in to the same trap too. Taking a look at a ‘World Cinema’ section is excruciating stuff nowadays and I don’t think it will change in the foreseeable future. Romantic comedies sit side by side with sadistic torture films and apparently thats okay. There is a point to all of this rant, and it is the question that it raises; Does anybody really know what horror is? More importantly, Did anyone ever actually know?

Somewhere along the way, i was led astray. No, not the lyrics to a little known Bright Eyes song, my genuine feeling to the shift in everything cinematic. Taking a look at the thriller section on Netflix was rather interesting and very insightful in regards to my current ramblings; it seems as though nobody knows what a thriller is either. Films that should clearly be categorised as drama litter the selection, and horror films make their way in to the fold too; it all creates a mess of titles that send me in to and endless spiral of tile flicking.

It seems like the title of horror is just a broad description of everything remotely disturbing now and this is where we can actually measure the change in categorisation – Sharknado 2, according to Netflix, is a horror.

I am fully aware what the official description of horror is and technically it would be right to group everything disturbing together if we went by the actual definition:

  • an intense feeling of fear, shock, or disgust.

The problem that I have is that in a world of sub-genres, we no longer have to bunch everything under a generic category. If we were to carry on in this tradition then I would be well within my rights to suggest that Bambi is in actual fact a horror film – there is a disturbing scene, but it DOES NOT make it a horror film. How about another genre? Action films are packed full of gore and death; how long is it before we start to see them slip in to the same category as classics like The Exorcist?

The cinematic definition of horror is a lot more complex than that of the dictionary definition. Academics all have their own theory over the ‘World Cinema’ situation; is it a genre or not? People study these films in depth and break them down to their raw structure but there is no answer to the question and the same goes for the one I raised on horror; nobody actually knows what horror is. This is because horror relies on the fear of the watcher and every participant varies when it comes to what scares them. Despite what I have laid out to you, horror is what we make it. I get frustrated at the categorisation of my beloved genre but at the same time, I accept that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. There are no archetypes in horror, just raw and primal fear brought on by whatever you fear the most.

So did anybody ever know what horror is?

Probably not. Well, not when it comes to the world of cinema. We started off with tales of Frankenstein, Dracula and Werewolves, but somewhere along the way, we wound up with serial killers and humanised antagonists that bear no resemblance to the supernatural elements that we once knew.

The part that really drives it home for me, that belief that nobody knows what horror is, is a recent interview I read with William Friedkin about The Exorcist. In it, he states that he “thought it was a film about the mystery of faith”, and that he,”didn’t set out to make a horror film”. He believed that it was essentially a film about two servants of God battling the Devil and he could be right. Like I said, it’s all a matter of opinion.

It is absolutely incredible that, arguably, the greatest horror film of all time was not created with the intention of being a horror. Did we all just follow it’s categorisation like sheep? Never questioning what it really was and just accepting that this was horror.

Probably. But clearly it is..

Right?

Until Dawn: Game Review

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As an Xbox One owner, I was truly disappointed when i found out that a game that I was waiting so long for was in actual fact, a Playstation 4 exclusive. Until Dawn looked too good to be true; a true horror experience that plays like a lot like Heavy Rain. I cannot convey the happiness that came over me when my good friend lent me his pride and joy to experience the game that I had been desperate to get my hands on. I had the console, now all I needed was the game.

A late night trip to a 24-hour Tesco Extra was the destination as we bundled in to the car. I couldn’t wait until Sunday when I was so close to embedding myself in the story that Supermassive Games had crafted for me. I jumped out of the car and hastily forced my way to the technology department. I knew where I was heading and nothing could stop me. Except Tesco.

A ridiculous rule that means that I cannot purchase anything technology related at my 24-hour store after 8pm had foiled me previously; surely I would not be caught out again? But I was. I would have to wait until the next day for the game as the disappointment sunk in.

The following day was a good feeling when i popped open the box and gave the obligatory sniff of the fresh instruction manual – I know, weird. The game installed fast to my amazement, something that I was not used to, being an Xbox owner. The time had come..

The game begun and I was instantly thrust in to a full on horror experience; it was perfect. It played like a film and I do not regret a second that I spent playing it. It was like somebody had cut open my head, taken my thoughts and displayed them on screen. I was allowed to make the decisions that I wanted and it felt amazing. If you have ever asked yourself why the victim would stay and hide or proclaimed that you would ‘be outta there so fast’, you would also feel the gratification that I did. I spent hours playing it in my first sitting and honestly did not feel the time passing by.

The butterfly effect was a nice addition to the game because it gave me the freedom to do what I wanted as well as providing a massive amount of re-playability. I had saved a fair amount of the terrified characters but what would happen if they all died? What would happen if they all survived? How would the outcome change? All of these questions left me wanting more from the game; this is something that I believe gave me my money’s worth.

As a script writer, I instantly pick up on flaws and glaring issues that make me question the belief in what I am watching. A poor script is the foundation for a poor end product and I have to commend the creators for their hard work regarding this process. It seems as though they were not daunted by the sheer magnitude of writing multiple scripts that overlay and criss-cross throughout the course of the game. It was stable and made a lot of sense which left me more than satisfied with the story that was unfolding. The characters on the other hand were not as strong as the script and the gameplay.

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The characters in Until Dawn were a little bit two-dimensional and this started to show as the game progressed past the mid-way point. Some remained strong and this was apparent by my constant feeling of hatred toward Emily’s negative attitude; if i could have reached in to the screen and ended her myself, I would have.

Some character were not so good at stirring my emotions and quite frankly I found them a little bit boring and generic but I will not go in to too much detail on the matter. Nonetheless, I have hope that a game with ‘over one hundred endings’ may show more about certain characters depending on the choices that I make. Was my favouritism of particular characters making the others less important in the play through?

One of the biggest arguments for why this game is not as great as it should be is the gameplay that I love so much. Although I respect it and the product that Supermassive Games have released, it is clear to see that it may not be favoured among all. For those that prefer a more action based game it will probably not satisfy your gaming needs – That is you, Call of Duty fans. Somebody that appreciates a nicely put together narrative over run-and-gun however, will no doubt love what the developers have done.

Like i said, I truly appreciate Until Dawn and love what Supermassive Games have done. Heavy Rain was one of my favourite games and this felt like an extension of that but more geared towards my preferred genre. I would recommend that everybody should at least try it and truly believe that it is a PS4 exclusive not to be missed.

Just another day.. But Wait!

I didn’t go back to bed after my girlfriend’s alarm went off this morning and I am not sorry. Usually I would be complaining about how I needed that extra hour of sleep – I simply cannot survive without it.

But not today..

Let me give you a bit of background; I used to be up for work very early, 4am to be exact, and my alarm would always wake her up too; this is now a form of payback, i am so sure of it. She secretly enjoys the site of me being awoken before I need to be. Actually, it is no secret.

Today was different from all the other times – it is my before-day and tomorrow my birthday. My inner child was begging me to jump out of bed to investigate the presents that have already been wrapped for tomorrow. What the hell are they? Xbox fun? Cat related items? Maybe something to do with the ninja turtles? Or maybe something adult like socks. Cat socks. Honestly, I don’t have a clue despite grilling my mum for answers – she is the weak one.

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As the confusion over presents faded from my brain it suddenly dawned on me that my brain was wide awake. I was in the zone and ready for the creative switch to be flicked. The laptop was charged and ready to go and all of a sudden I was in a firm position to take on the feature length script that has been in the planning process for so long. I think that the aspect that we should take away from this should be that  I am far more productive when plied with presents – I know you are reading Emma.

So here I am in Starbucks; coffee fuelled and tapping away – nothing can stop me.

Wait..

Children. Everywhere..

Damn school holidays.

Needle and an Honest Portrait: Film Review

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A lot of independent horror films have graced our screens in recent years but the 2010 film, Needle, showed me how the formula isn’t always perfect. I had a lot of hope for this film before hand as I had read a few good reviews but I can safely say that this film was not the one that I have been searching for all this time. I mean, ‘The Babadook’ was a great piece of cinematic horror; naturally I thought that an indie film from the same part of the world might satisfy my craving for the otherworldly – oh, how wrong.

The acting was drab, the characters seemed incomplete and the story just kind of bombed about midway through. I had no interest in the characters and I really tried, honest. I think the point in which I realised that I was in for a long night was an initial scene where I was introduced to a couple of the protagonists friends. I say the protagonist, because I genuinely do not remember any of the character’s names – they were pretty forgettable. The two friends happened to be lesbians; ordinarily this would not be a problem, but it was an issue because the whole narrative seemed to freeze before I was assaulted by scene after scene of them making out. Why would they not just act like everyone else? Why did they have to be putting on a show? It made no sense. As you can imagine I was disappointed and annoyed at the lack of script work and the lack of consideration for the two characters sexual preference. Was this written by a horny version of myself years previously? If so, I apologise..

The film moved on and the narrative  progressed and although I was not impressed, I found myself paying attention to what was happening. I was amazed because here I was complaining to my girlfriend about the film in one instance, before instantly telling her to be quiet while I was fed secrets that I never saw coming. Still, by the end I felt like I had wasted a part of my life, not because the film was poor, but because it appeared to have so much potential before it failed miserably.

Take the device for instance,  Le Vaudou Mort; The image of the device is above and it’s a pretty original concept and if used correctly this film could of been a lot of fun. In fact, in my opinion, the device is the thing that saved this film but also it’s major downfall. Needle used this prop as a means to create a murder mystery and I believe that this is what kept me engaged – I just wanted to find out who was committing all these horrifying acts. The negative factor was that  Le Vaudou Mort was not needed in the film. I’m sure people have been committing voodoo related atrocities for years without the need of this machine.

Regardless of what I surmise, Needle picked up an award at an underground Australian film festival and screened at Screamfest so somebody saw the potential in it. Maybe you will like it, maybe not. One thing is for sure – this is not the holy grail of horror.

On to the next!