Easter 1985. Anthony Smith, more commonly known as The Easter Ripper, is executed after being convicted for the murder spree of several young children he had abducted from a shopping mall – under the guise of The Easter Bunny – and tortured at his “murder house”, leaving lives shattered and families ripped apart.
Funny, heartfelt, and unconventional are three words that sum up the Irish horror comedy Extra Ordinary. Rose Dooley reluctantly has to use her talents in talking to ghosts (and sending them to the afterlife) after Christian Winter, a one-hit-wonder rock star makes a deal with the devil to be on top again.
Despite its dark subject matter, there isn’t anything really scary about this film, and if it wasn’t for the language and sexual content, it could be rated 12. The humour throughout most of the film is more silly than laugh-out-loud. Each character has their own quirky trait, like Rose and her awkwardness.
“Putting the normal in paranormal.”
Unless one is of a certain age it might be difficult to relate to VIPCO’s feature-length release of the documentary VHS Forever? Psychotronic People. It harkens back to the dawn of serious movie watching, especially those of a subversive and transgressive nature. The documentary manages to capture the thrill of so many cinephiles to be able to access obscure, forbidden and strange films, but at the same time, shows the paranoia and very real legal concerns operators of video stores faced during the era.
“We think censorship is idiotic!”
Meet Rex Coen, a convicted felon who has just spent the last eight years in prison after a bank heist went off-kilter… You see, the mask-wearing misfits didn’t realise Rex was in the building, and he had no problem fucking up their day. Wrong place, wrong fucking time!
Unfortunately, laying down vigilante justice has its drawbacks… And thus an extended European vacation is in order. The destination? Helsinki, Finland!
“My concern is getting back to the life I had. Getting the fuck out of this place. And getting back to my friends in the good ol’ U S of A where we don’t fucking EAT people! Capeesh?”
For the most part, The Game of the Clock had me intrigued. Michele Olivieri’s short film begins well and in typical horror fashion. A beautiful girl visiting her friend finds she’s not answering the door, so she enters her home, quickly realising that she’s missing and that there are some sinister, supernatural shenanigans going on. Once on the premises, she’s faced with a ringing alarm clock and a series of unnerving notes left asking her if she can endure the next five minutes; along with other handwritten and hand-drawn riddles.
“Can you endure 5 minutes?”
A home invasion at Christmas is what I expected when I first heard about this film, but what I watched was different… The home invasion elements are there, and as it’s based during Christmas, it reminded me of Home Alone; the trip-wire outside being an obvious reference. But Better Watch Out is even more disturbing than I imagined; a story about a child obsessed with his babysitter who is planning to leave town after Christmas. Levi Miller as 12-year-old Luke is the star of the film and flips between a range of emotions at ease. This makes him Luke more unnerving than if he was pure evil.
“You might be home but you’re not alone.”
The South Korean film industry is known for crafting quiet, poignant dramas about family and society, but give the Koreans any genre and they’re usually guaranteed to step it up a notch. In the case of Ashfall the genre is the ‘disaster movie’. The South Korean film industry has had several previous disaster flicks – 2009’s Haeundae saw a tsunami destroy Busan, 2016’s Pandora imagined a Fukushima-like nuclear catastrophe and 2019’s Exit depicted a toxic gas cloud engulfing Seoul. However, none of these movies were on such an epic scale as Ashfall (aka Baekdusan).
“No option for failure.”
There is horror and pity in witnessing the mind of a loved one as it unravels and fragments. This is the misfortune of Kay who is called by concerned neighbours when her elderly mother Edna disappears from her isolated home in the woods. Taking her own daughter Samantha with her for moral support, they set off to the old family house to see what might have become of Grandma Edna. The first feature from Japanese-Australian Natalie Erika James’, Relic manifests its horrors slowly, perhaps influenced in part by the bleak emotional mood of J-horror family drama.
A low key, documentary/found footage horror film from Portsmouth, England based Trash Arts, The Truth Will Out, is a skillfully made movie worth checking out. Although it doesn’t break new ground as far as the genre goes, and while it isn’t full of action and cheap scares, the film thrives on its great acting and photography. A hit reality show, Hard Streets UK, hosted by the completely obnoxious and degenerate Thomas Laboss, is on its way to interview the Braussau family, Gypsies who claim to be true Wiccans. Along for the ride are Thomas’s sound and recording engineers, Stanley and Darren.
“That, ladies and gentlemen, is a petrified penis apparently.”
Director John Boorman’s cerebral and eerily dystopian sci-fi tale Zardoz was released in 1974, not long after Boorman’s iconic Deliverance, and saw the director team up with Sean Connery, three years after his final official appearance as James Bond and light years away from anything either had done before.
In a post-apocalyptic 2293, Zardoz, a colossal stone head, floats over desolate plains, pausing to receive grain from masked horsemen, vomiting weapons as payment from its grimacing mouth.
“Beyond 1984, Beyond 2001, Beyond Love, Beyond Death.”
Years have passed since the Earth’s skyline hypnotized humanity with its other-worldly blue light; an alien race descending from the skies to steal our brains! For those that were unfortunate to look directly into the light, they became bio-mechanical killer extraterrestrials known as ‘Pilots’. Fortunately, humanity was able to survive! Forming a resistance, skyline survivors fought off the alien invasion; re-engineering the ‘Pilots’ biology so their humanity could be restored. Now the ravaged Earth’s survival depends on the peaceful coexistence of the human race and extraterrestrial ticking time-bombs…
“There is only one thing harder than winning a war… Keeping the peace.”
If David Cronenberg was the prime mover of the horror sub-genre known as ‘body horror’, his son Brandon is taking it to the next level. With Possessor, his second feature after debut Antiviral, Brandon Cronenberg starts with a scene that braces you for the bloodletting that will come… A young woman stands in the bathroom of a hotel and stabs a long metal electrode into her skull as blood seeps around the wound. Her face runs through a gamut of emotions as the electrode fulfils its mysterious purpose in her brain.