FilmHorrorReviews

The Blair Witch Project (1999, USA)

The Blair Witch Project (1999)

The Blair Witch Project is ‘The Cardiff Giant’ of modern horror films. The film employed the now common trope of “found footage” to give an authentic and haunting atmosphere to the story. The movie was also one of the first to use the internet to reinforce the found footage concept, going so far as to hire actors to pose as policemen for interviews and post pictures of artifacts found at the crime scene.

“In October of 1994 three student filmmakers disappeared in the woods near Burkittsville, Maryland, while shooting a documentary… A year later their footage was found.”

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You Ain’t Got to Pull That Blacula Shit With Me. Black Vampires in: Vampire in Brooklyn and Blacula

Blacula (1972)

“You ain’t got to pull that Blacula shit with me.” The line is an attempt to link what seems to be a half-hearted star-vehicle with something else: blaxploitation. By simultaneously comparing Murphy’s ’90s effort with its ’70s predecessor, whilst slyly digging at the older genre’s foibles, the gag it is a somewhat noble, if pithy, effort to give Vampire in Brooklyn more heft.

“Interesting. I’ve been stabbed, and I’ve been hanged, and I’ve been burned. Even broken on the rack once, but I’ve never been shot before. Kind of itches a little!”

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AdventureExploitationFilmReviewsWestern

Ulzana’s Raid (1972, USA)

Ulzana's Raid (1972)

The Western is the most American film genre of them all, encompassing a variety of themes and time periods. The 1970s were a fertile period for films that questioned traditional beliefs about our country’s march towards the Pacific, the interests of big business versus individual rights, its treatment of the indigenous peoples and notions of heroism.

Ulzana’s Raid can be viewed as a horror movie that takes place in the West or a Western with all the trappings of a horror film.

“One man alone understood the savagery of the early American west from both sides.”

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The King (2017, South Korea)

The King (2017)

If you profess a love of cinema, but have been eschewing the excellent films coming out of Korea, you really have been missing out on some top-notch entertainment. I went into Han Jae-Rim’s movie The King, knowing only that it had been described as a political thriller. That covers about half of it – it’s also a satire about corruption within Korea’s legal system, it’s a gangster movie, it’s a revenge tale and yes, it’s a crime thriller too. If Wes Anderson decided to make ‘Goodfellas’ with Ben Wheatley, The King might just be the movie they’d have aspired to. Imagine that.

“Only one will become… The King.”

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Split (2016, USA)

Split (2016)

Split is a grindhouse film in disguise, particularly repulsive for the cavalier way it blames women for the degeneracy of McAvoy’s character.

What makes Split so frustrating is that it could have been Shyalaman’s best film. Visually the film is perfect and the sound strikes the right balance between serene and scary, much like a Hitchcock film. The tension is palpable in the psychiatrist’s scenes, and the gripping terror of the girls is captured perfectly as their predicament grows worse.

“An individual with multiple personalities can change their body chemistry with their thoughts.”

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The House by the Cemetery (1981, Italy)

The House by the Cemetery (1981)

Lucio Fulci’s The House by the Cemetery (1981) is notorious in the United Kingdom for being one of the 39 movies that were prosecuted under the Obscene Publications Act in the 1980s. Dubbed a ‘video nasty’ by the garbage British tabloids, The House by the Cemetery was effectively banned from distribution and personal possession…

If you are prepared to endure the awful dubbing, The House by the Cemetery is deserving of its cult reputation.

“Read the fine print. You may have just mortgaged your life!”

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FilmHorrorReviews

It Comes at Night (2017, USA)

It Comes at Night (2017)

Deceptively titled and oddly mis-marketed as a horror movie, Trey Edward Shults’s second feature It Comes at Night, might much more appropriately be viewed as a ‘post-apocalyptic psychological family drama’.

I’m often loath to place a movie under a genre classification, because certain movies might straddle several genres and don’t easily fit into pigeonholes.

However, if you go to see It Comes at Night expecting a conventional horror film, you will be disappointed… or perhaps you’ll be surprised.

“You can’t trust anyone but family.”

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ComedyFilmHorrorReviews

The Return of the Living Dead (1985, USA)

The Return of the Living Dead (1985)

The attempt to combine humor and horror is a dicey proposition at best, which makes this film all the more extraordinary. The Return of the Living Dead weaves the two genre together seamlessly, each one complimenting the other. The screenplay and cast are perfect, with the always reliable Clu Gallagher holding the action together. A group of attractive young people plays their roles with a combination of believable finesse, terror and hormonal fever interspersed with slapstick style hysteria. Any movie with Linnea Quigley as part of the cast certainly is headed in the right direction.

“They’re back from the grave and ready to party!”

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The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016, UK / USA)

The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016)

The concept of the ‘beautiful female corpse’ is by no means a new idea in the realm of gothic horror. In fact, it has been a stalwart of the genre since it began. Edgar Allan Poe was particularly partial to it and Bram Stoker took it to its natural conclusion when he hit upon the novel idea of having alluring dead ladies start walking about and seducing people.

Norwegian director André Øvredal follows up his found-footage indie sleeper Troll Hunter, with English-language debut The Autopsy of Jane Doe – a gory excursion through a dead woman’s innards.

“Every body has a secret.”

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Almost Human (1974, Italy) Shameless Blu-ray Review

Almost Human (1974) Shameless Blu-ray

Before Umberto Lenzi’s 1981 exploitation film Cannibal Ferox (aka Make Them Die Slowly) was “banned in 31 countries”, Almost Human had a reputation as a particularly nasty Italian crime thriller.

The late, great Tomas Milian (The Designated Victim) stars as the sadistic, criminal low life Giulio Sacchi, a man capable of rape, torture and murder.

“CAUTION: This picture may shock you, but it’s an experience in psychosadism you’ll never forget!”

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Truck Stop Women (1974, USA)

Truck Stop Women (1974)

This film was typical of the drive-in features Claudia Jennings appeared in the early 1970’s, with one notable exception. Although Truck Stop Women demonstrated what audiences would identify as the quintessential Claudia Jennings character, this was no working class, feminist hero Karen Walker from Unholy Rollers… In this film, Claudia commits about every original sin and violates a few new ones. She could easily be considered one of the screen’s best villains- a living nightmare, having no feelings for fellow human beings, and perhaps the sexiest sociopath of all time.

“No rig was too big for them to handle!”

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What We Do in the Shadows (2014, New Zealand / USA)

What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

There have been hundreds of vampire films made worldwide and dozens of vampire comedies produced as well. However, none of them comes close to combining horror and humor effectively as What We Do in the Shadows.

What We Do in the Shadows has been highly praised by the mainstream press, and rightly so. Although not a cinematic masterpiece, this New Zealand gem has everything a fan could ask for- blood, guts, vampires, werewolves, zombies, and more laughs than any so-called comedy of the last decade.

“Some interviews with some Vampires.”

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