At the outset of American Animals the words “This is not based on a true story,” appear onscreen, then three of those words disappear leaving the statement – “This is a true story.” Although American Animals is a heist film at its core, British documentarian Bart Layton, in an impressive feature debut, relies closely on a factual account of real events which took place in 2004. Intercut with the dramatization of the robbery played by actors, are interviews with the actual men who committed the crimes. This makes for an interesting and unusual combination of documentary and dramatic fiction.
The Mountain of the Cannibal God was originally released in United Kingdom under the name Prisoner of the Cannibal God, and added to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) list of “video nasties” shortly after its home video release. Although The Mountain of the Cannibal God was one of the 33 “video nasties” not prosecuted under the Obscene Publications Act, it remained unavailable on home video until 2001.
“Why is everybody so scared of the Puka?”
Edinburgh itself is a breathtaking city, but during August each year it becomes a hub for arts and culture. This year I wanted to write about my experience and review three of my personal highlights from the 2018 Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Each show is darkly humorous and worthy of your time if they make an appearance at next year’s Fringe, or perhaps elsewhere.
“If this isn’t what you were expecting – well, what were you expecting?”
Arrow Video are quickly becoming heroes to horror fans that cut their teeth on the genre in the 80s. Regularly releasing the type of titles that you would be fascinated with in your local independent video shop, it gives those of us who excitedly gorged on the type of low budget horror these shops stocked a chance to re-watch them with modern eyes, and those too young to rent them a chance to finally get their hands on them.
“They ooze. They slime. They kill.”
When you think back to the 80s, the true golden age of horror, there are certain films that define their sub-genre. I’m thinking of Fright Night and The Lost Boys defining the Vampire sub-genre. And the ones that (for me at least) defined Werewolf films are the likes of An American Werewolf in London and The Howling! One of the downsides from making a genre defining film though, is that there will invariably be a sequel (or sequels) that just can’t live up to the original’s quality. This has happened with Howling II …Your Sister Is a Werewolf.
“It’s not over yet.”
Adapted from Kendal Young’s 1964 novel The Ravine, Sidney Hayers’ Assault is a vicious psychological thriller. Tessa Hurst, a 16-year-old pupil of the Heatherdene School for Girls in London, decides to take a shortcut home through the woods – through an area known as the Devil’s End. Unbeknownst to Tessa, she is being stalked by an unseen assailant who, upon making himself known, proceeds to chase her as she flees in terror. With nowhere to run Tessa is assaulted, partially stripped, and raped.
“If you go down in the woods today…”
After sleazily making his way to the London Underground from the sex district, James Manfred, OBE, some big shit… shot, at the Ministry of Defense, or something, confronts a woman waiting on the platform at Russell Square tube station. “How much?” he asks. “Look darling, god knows if you are worth it… but fortunately I can afford to find out.” Her response? A swift knee to his gonads before running away! As Manfred winces in pain, something catches his eye emerging from the underground tunnel…
“Mind the doors!”
The Liverpool Horror Festival took place in a new venue this year, known as the Invisible Wind Factory which is a re-purposed warehouse, so is really grungy and suitable for a horror festival.
“A celebration of horror!”
I’m not a fan of action films. You know the ones, purely ‘Action’. I hate car chases. DESPISE ‘em! I hate things exploding left, right and centre. I hate overly-long gunfights. They annoy me and make me all fidgety. John Wick is an action/thriller, directed by two stunt men and stars Keanu Reeves. “WHY ARE YOU WATCHING THIS, YOU FUCKING MASOCHIST?!!” I hear you shout, and you’d be right to ask. I dunno. But I’m SO glad that I did! John Wick is an ex-hitman, grieving for his recently deceased wife. When the son of a mob boss takes a liking to Wick’s car and decides to take it, bad things happen.
“Revenge is all he has left.”
This late 90s vampire tale is an essential watch for any fan of low budget indie gore and Hammer classics. Lilith Silver is the ‘girl power’ embodiment of modern vampires. In skin tight PVC, Silver is an ass-kicking, sexually confident vampiric hit woman, using her undead attributes to carry out the most daring executions. But life is never simple and her choice of career brings her to the attention of occult group The Illuminati who are hell bent on preserving their own existence against whoever is hiring her to eliminate them. Armed with their skills in dark magic and with Mason-like influence in the police and government, The Illuminati set out to take down Lilith ‘The Angel of Death’ Silver, in a gory, sexual game of cat and mouse.
“Part Seductress. Part Assassin. All Vampire.”
Coerced by his scheming brother and locked away in a grimy upstairs flat, sickly Frank is the talented, money-making half of a peculiar business endeavour in which paying punters communicate with deceased acquaintances via his distended stomach. With a tube in his mouth and a stethoscope pressed against his grotesque gut (bloated with the manifestations of the dead), good ol’ Frankie acts as a middle-man between this world and the next.
“Your inside his stomach…”
The first in a trilogy of novels by Australian author Phil Hore, The Order of the Dragon introduces us to two very different characters: the learned, dryly humorous Amun Galeus, and his hulking friend Sebastian Vulk. While this might sound like standard bickering buddies fare, the novel doesn’t descend into cliché: it’s a fun, pulp horror piece that starts off slow, but once it hits its stride, rockets like a freight train.