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Saturday the 14th (1981, USA)

Saturday the 14th (1981)

Released just one year after 1980’s Friday the 13th, Saturday the 14th attempts to spoof the horror genre; taking reference from ‘haunted house’ tropes of films like The Changeling (1980), and classic Universal monster movies like Dracula (1931) and Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), rather than from the slasher sub-genre itself.

Unfortunately Saturday the 14th’s humour feels like it should be more zany, and more madcap than it actually is. Most jokes fall flat against deadpan performances and uninspired direction from Howard R. Cohen.

“Just when you thought it was safe to look at the calendar again.”

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Friday the 13th (1980, USA)

Friday the 13th (1980, USA)

Today, when we refer to modern horror icons we still mention the now decades old Michael Myers from John Carpenter’s Halloween, Freddy Kruger from Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street and Jason Voorhees from Sean S. Cunningham’s Friday the 13th. This is testament to their popularity, that has arguably surpassed that of both Universal and Hammer’s horror creations. It is perhaps then surprising to horror newcomers that the character of Jason is notably absent for the majority of the original Friday the 13th.

“They were warned… They are doomed… And on Friday the 13th, nothing will save them.”

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Death Note (2017, USA)

Death Note (2017)

Based on the Manga by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata, Death Note is a huge franchise in Japan. The Netflix remake rather misses the entire message of the original Death Note – which is that power corrupts. It barely touches on the themes that gave the original depth and intrigue and lacks its tension-building storytelling, which left the viewer wondering where the latest development might lead, and who would win. It’s the version for people who can’t cope with subtitles.

“Every human spends the last moments of his life in the shadow of a death god.”

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In Memory of Tobe Hooper: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974, USA)

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

Tobe Hooper was one of the most influential horror directors of all time. His vision and intelligence can be seen in almost every slasher and splatter film over the last forty years and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is Hooper’s masterpiece.

Originally conceived as a faux film “based on true events”, Hooper did draw inspiration from the story of Ed Gein, a murderer, grave robber who had a predilection for a number of other unsavory character traits.

“What happened is true. Now the motion picture that’s just as real. Once you stop screaming, then you’ll start talking about it.”

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Dard Divorce (2007, Germany)

Dard Divorce (2007)

Olaf Ittenbach is a German auteur who is a combination of Tom Savini and Takashi Miike. Originally a dental technician, Ittenbach then became a top notch SFX artist, his most notable credit being for BloodRayne by Uwe Boll.

Along with Boll, he is part of the German new wave bringing media attention to their underground films specializing in rape, necrophilia and extreme violence. Ittenbach’s films focus on pain, body destruction and gore, preferably as much that can be jammed into a two hour film.

“Breaking up is so very hard to do…”

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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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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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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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