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Baby Driver (2017, UK / USA)

Baby Driver (2017)

It’s becoming easy to recognise a film by Edgar Wright – there are trademark aspects: a sense of wit, sharp editing, and a rousing soundtrack. Baby Driver, Wright’s first-ever solo screenplay, offers a premise that is a cinematic convention, but told in a wholly energising and original way. The action-movie potential of the virtuoso driver is hardly a new concept. It’s a proposition that has had its twists and turns, from Walter Hill’s The Driver, The French Connection, Bullitt and Ronin right through to Ryan Gosling’s nameless specialist in Refn’s Drive.

“All you need is one killer track.”

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A Quiet Place (2018, USA)

A Quiet Place (2018)

John Krasinski, better known for his portrayal on The Office, has not previously tackled the horror genre; either as a director or as an actor. His directorial debut, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men (2009), and his second feature The Hollars (2016) were both comedic dramas that displayed Krasinski’s talent both in front of the camera and behind it. But Krasinski’s transition into horror is something special. Co-written by Scott Beck, Bryan Woods and John Krasinski, A Quiet Place is as much about parenthood, as it is about the otherworldly creatures that hunt exclusively by sound.

“If they hear you, they hunt you.”

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Nightmare City (1980, Italy / Spain / Mexico)

Nightmare City (1980)

Umberto Lenzi had quite a career during his time as a film maker. Lenzi started law school, then decided his true passion lay with movies and attended the prestigious Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia. His resume’ included peplum, westerns, giallos and mysteries, all typical of Italian cinema of the time. He later retired from cinema and wrote a series of detective novels. Then in 1972 Lenzi made what many consider the first true, cannibal film, Man from the Deep River. The work contained many of the attributes of future cannibal movies; violence, sex, the consumption of raw, human flesh… The movie established Lenzi as a director of turgid, offensive films.

“The nightmare becomes reality.”

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Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981, USA)

Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)

Continuing five years after the events that occurred on Friday the 13th, this second installment is significant for introducing audiences to director Steve Miner (House, Halloween H20: 20 Years Later). Miner previously worked with producer/director Sean S. Cunningham on projects such as The Last House on the Left and the original Friday the 13th, before carving out his directional debut with Friday the 13 Part 2. Knowing how the character of Jason Voorhees evolves as the franchise continues, Friday the 13 Part 2 feels like a particularly special entry.

“The body count continues…”

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Ghost Stories (2017, UK)

Ghost Stories (2017)

It’s a while since we’ve seen a cinematic anthology of horror tales, but Ghost Stories revives that tradition with a trio of supernatural stories in the style of English portmanteau movies of the 1960s and the Ealing classic Dead of Night. The film’s writer-directors Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson have adapted Ghost Stories from their successful stage show. (Nyman is an actor, writer and magician who has devised productions for Derren Brown; Jeremy Dyson is actor, writer and co-creator of The League of Gentlemen) Their film offers a tribute to an array of old-school horror tropes.

“We have to be very careful what we choose to believe.”

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Wishmaster (1997, USA) Vestron Video Blu-ray Review

Wishmaster (1997)

In the mid-1990s there was a void in horror cinema. When Wishmaster was announced, it was met with excitement. This was a horror movie created by horror fans for horror fans. Executive produced by Wes Craven, directed by special make-up effects artist Robert Kurtzman, starring horror icons Robert Englund, Angus Scrimm, Tony Todd, Kane Hodder, Joseph Pilato, and scored by Harry Manfredini, Wishmaster appeared to have the ‘killer’ team. What could go wrong?

“Be careful what you wish for.”

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You Were Never Really Here (2017, UK / France / USA)

You Were Never Really Here (2017)

In You Were Never Really Here, Lynne Ramsay explores the themes of abuse, violence, trauma and the corruption inherent in the powerful elite. She has re-fashioned the narrative and plot without diminishing its brutal impact, and elevated what might have been a conventional revenge flick by sheer filmmaking skill. The action of the film accelerates and ultimately concludes without necessarily developing in the conventional way. In You Were Never Really Here, Ramsay has managed to translate her singular vision into a complex, but compelling, feature film.

“I want you to hurt them.”

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Mom and Dad (2017, USA)

Mom and Dad (2017)

“We love you more than anything in the world, but sometimes…” Mom and Dad is the new feature written and directed by Brian Taylor. It proves to be a kinetic, pitch-black horror-comedy – a gleefully wicked story propelled by some crazed characters.

The story develops at a ripping pace and director Taylor and the principal players appear to have a lot of fun with the disturbing premise and the savage lunacy. Despite their violent inclinations, we never really doubt that these parents still love their kids in some bizarrely distorted way.

“Sometimes, they just want to kill you.”

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Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970, USA)

Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970, USA)

It would not be an exaggeration to call Beyond the Valley of the Dolls one of the strangest movies ever produced. Looking to cash in on Jacqueline Susann’s deliciously trashy novel (and subsequent trashy big studio film) the movie is by turns funny, amateurish, gross, distasteful, misogynistic, exploitative and brilliant.

There are so many back-stories and interesting behind the camera plot-lines that Russ Meyer himself would be hard pressed to invent similar tales. Distinguished film critic Roger Ebert helped write the screenplay, surprising because, while Ebert would praise [the] occasional exploitation film, he generally held a dim view of horror and slasher cinema.

“This is not a sequel. There has never been anything like it!”

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The Shape of Water (2017, USA)

The Shape of Water (2017, USA)

Gaining accolades at film festivals around the world, The Shape of Water, Guillermo Del Toro’s latest feature, is part tribute, part pastiche, of the post-war monster movie. In his recent talk at the London Film Festival, Mr. del Toro affirmed: “Monsters are evangelical creatures for me. When I was a kid, monsters made me feel that I could fit somewhere, even if it was…an imaginary place where the grotesque and the abnormal were celebrated and accepted.”

“Unable to perceive the shape of you, I find you all around me. Your presence fills my eyes with your love. It humbles my heart, for you are everywhere.”

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Dracula: Sovereign of the Damned (1980, Japan)

Dracula: Sovereign of the Damned (1980)

I heard of this anime film years ago but heard such bad things it put me off, then last week I found a good review on it that mentioned the plot and I thought I’d give it a go. Firstly like many other reviewers I must admit this is probably the craziest Dracula plot ever. It’s based of Tomb of Dracula issues 40-75 and as such there’s a lot going on…

Overall this film is very true to the comic and has a good storyline but it’s too rushed. The visuals in part are faithful to the comic but frequently seem low budget. If you liked Tomb of Dracula I’d definitely recommend this. If you’re looking for a different Dracula film you should enjoy it.

“Darling, I want to tell you about the man I used to be before I became the cursed slave of Satan.”

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Beast of Blood (1970, Philippines / USA)

Beast of Blood (1970)

Those unfamiliar with the works of Eddie Romero should make it a priority to search out a few of his titles. Romero is the John Ford, Frank Capra and Wes Craven of Philippine cinema all rolled into one, having directed war films along with dramas, comedies and horror movies. The film industry of the Philippines is a remarkable story in itself, a business that is now well over a hundred years old. In the late sixties and early seventies Romero put a series of films together known as “The Blood Island Trilogy” which were low-budget shockers containing sex, blood and monsters.

“See human heads transplanted!”

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