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 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.

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.

Silent Night, Deadly Night: Review

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So it is already November and like me you are probably already fed up with the myriad of decorations and displays that seemingly erect themselves overnight. I mean, come on! Christmas is a long way off. Halloween was less than a week away and there were already Christmas drinks at Starbucks and a full on display of all things festive in John Lewis. As annoying as it all seems, there are three things that I absoluteley love abut this time of year. The food, and sudden influx of cranberry sauce in to every chain restaurant; the presents of course; and Christmas Horror.

I think it all started many years ago when I saw the Jack Frost film but i’m not going to recommend that you watch that, what the hell, go wild.  This Christmas we are getting treated to ‘Krampus’, a horror-comedy about what happens when children are bad. It’s based on German folklore and genuinely looks like it could be a lot of fun. Naturally, I was reading up on it, only to notice a film that held similarities.

That film was ‘Silent Night, Deadly Night’ and it follows a serious of events that occur when a family is butchered on their journey one Christmas. I will not lie to you, I wasn’t expecting much from the 1984 production but it ticked most of the boxes. I think it was refreshing to watch because it did not try to employ the same principles that hold back a lot of films in the genre.

The film focuses on our protagonist, Billy, who survives the families slaughter and becomes a resident at an orphanage. We watch him grow and witness deep character traits throughout the duration of the film, which does a great job of creating a sense of empathy; we actually start to sympathise towards the character.

Billy is a poor kid who has lost everything and has never really recovered from the horrors that he saw. Mother Superior, the head of the orphanage, is a great propellant when it comes to the filmmaker evoking the mentality of Billy. His fear of Santa stems from an opening scene when his grandfather tells him that naughty children will be punished; this is something that clearly stays with him.

The film moves along and Billy grows in to a young man. He seems to be liked by everyone and is portrayed as a hard working and sensitive person. The owner of the toy store that he works at dresses him up as Santa to cover for someone who is sick. At the edge of reason, Billy begins to drink and the night goes South.

I have already given a fair bit away but even so, this must be watched in order to appreciate the character that has been created. Often, horror films fail to flesh out the characters because they know that they will probably be killed off within the hour but this is a mistake that ‘Silent Night, Deadly Night’ does not seem to make.

The script is passable and I never really found myself asking questions like, “why the hell would he do that?!” It seems like a lot of thought went in to this film and it is conveyed on the screen throughout. Whether you want to watch a horror film for a bit of fun or are looking for something to watch as a serious scare, this film should be a suitable candidate.

I read after that there is a multitude of sequels and it goes up to at least part 5, which seems to star the same protagonist. There was also a 2012 remake which I may check out at some point.

All in all, this was a lot of fun to watch. The runtime came in at about 80 minutes, meaning that it was a bit on the short site, but the film did not suffer from it. It is a somewhat unconventional film but one that I do not regret watching.

Christmas horror to enjoy for all.

6/10

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!

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.