Matthew Holness is best know for his turn as Garth Marenghi, the darkly comic horror novelist that spoofs trashy 70’s British television, but here in his directorial feature debut there’s nothing humorous, in fact things are extremely grim indeed. What formula he does stick to is keeping with the style of trashy 70’s British horror films.
London has inspired countless horror films over the years. Its historic streets have long whispered their macabre stories into the ears of willing film directors, who base their tales of terror in England’s eerie capital. Whether it’s vicious serial killers or undead hordes, London has always provided a spectacular backdrop to films that go bump in the night.
“Beneath modern London, buried alive in its plague-ridden tunnels lives a tribe of once humans. Neither men nor women, they are less than animals… they are the raw meat of the human race!”
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!”
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…”
Catastrophe can — and often does — happen in the blink of an eye, even in places that should be prepared for any eventuality. In The Rage, even a laboratory working with a dangerous virus, one place where everything had better be under strict control, can see all its safety protocols fall apart in an instant, leaving nothing but chaos behind. One moment, Joe and Terry, fellow lab techs at New Bio Energy Labs, are having a nice chat on a Monday morning, and the next Terry is on the floor writhing in pain and screaming in terror. It’s a great example of a compelling short made on very little budget.
“This is not a drill.”
Bad Acid is a lesson for those who crave fame at all costs, however fleeting, and delivers in every area for classic horror fans; leaving us guessing right until its ambiguous end. With only a hint of gore in the form of crime scene photographs, it really is a fine example of how to stimulate the senses through suggestion rather than brute force – a little like hypnotism, albeit, erm, real – and manages to conjure some genuine laughs and hair-raising moments in the process. Fancy a trip? If so, let David Chaudoir’s unconventional horror short, Bad Acid, consume you…
“Famous, I was! Everybody knew my name.”
Fractured Visions Film Festival – a celebration of all things horror – is headed up by filmmaker Phil Escott and genre academic Dr. Mikel J. Koven. The festival was designed to help spotlight both emerging talent within the horror genre and those who have helped build it. Over two days, Fractured Visions will be showing eight new feature films and two classics along with ten new short films.
“The main goal of the festival is to help filmmakers avoid the sharks that are circling the UK film industry.”
This July, Indicator presents a chilling selection of classic British genre cinema, all packaged in lovingly produced Limited Editions, including Blu-ray premieres and extensive collector’s booklets. On 23 July, Indicator presents Hammer Volume Three: Blood & Terror, the next volume in its acclaimed series of limited edition Blu-ray box sets dedicated to British cinema’s most iconic film production company. Also available on 23 July, Indicator presents Arthur Lubin’s Gothic thriller Footsteps in the Fog (1955).
“Close enough to kiss…or kill!”
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.