Fear (1996)

How many times have you lied when someone has come on to you in a bar to avoid a confrontation or an insult? I used to be guilty of it. You wear a ring on your wedding finger, you pretend your friend is your girlfriend, you tell them you have a boyfriend … sometimes it is just easier than saying you aren’t interested and being told ‘You’re ugly anyway!’, or ‘I did it for a bet!’ or having one of those guys that just won’t take no for an answer sexually harass you until you have to destroy his fragile masculinity.

It’s not an attack on men, because my male friends have had similar experiences, but lies,  even little kind ones, are not the solution. By softening the rejection, you are just going along with the idea that you owe that person something. You don’t owe anybody anything, and if you aren’t interested in someone then you don’t have to make excuses for that.

Controlling behaviour is becoming a worrying trend in modern relationships, with violence and obsessional conduct on the up. Nothing says that my partner doesn’t trust me like a joint couples account, or going through your partners phone or emails. People saying things like ‘Oh, my boyfriend doesn’t like me wearing makeup/short skirts/low cut tops …’, ‘I made him delete all of the girl’s numbers from his phone’ are all things we have heard or witnessed first-hand at some point, and it is scary how normal these sort of conversations have become.

This is not an issue exclusive to any gender either; the myth of ‘the One’ perpetuated by twisted so called romances such as Twilight and Fifty Shades of Bad Writing, are normalising and romanticising  abuse and obsession, creating narcissistic and insecure individuals who cannot handle rejection and separation in love.

Stalking and abuse isn’t a Hollywood issue, and it can and does happen to anyone. It has happened to me. It is a serious issue and isn’t always about romantic connections, it can be a stranger or a lover, it can be a friend or an enemy, and it is always something you should record and report.

From the second a person starts to exhibit behaviour that is controlling or obsessive make it clear that you will not stand for it, get out, go to the police, tell your friends and family, and cut off all communication.

Fear is a film about a naive young sixteen year old (Reece Witherspoon)who falls in love with an older man (Marky Mark Wahlberg), who becomes violent and possessive. After being rejected by her he begins a campaign of brutality and harassment against her family and friends in a warped attempt to win her back, ending in a terrifying final confrontation.

For a nineties thriller, Fear is a pretty good film. Surprisingly atmospheric and Wahlberg’s menacing performance should be credited as the disturbed David, and the young Witherspoon’s doe eyed innocent is the perfect cast for the part.  In no way, unpredictable or genre breaking, but this story of love gone bad, and a family in turmoil is stronger than your average movie and an undeniably enjoyable watch.

Some stories are told for fun, and some are told to highlight real issues. However unrealistic or silly some films may get for entertainment value, the basic story they are trying to tell, is sometimes the important thing that gets lost.

Posted in 90's horror, critique, fiction, film and media, mental illness, murder, opinion, psychological horror, psychotic killer, revenge, Slasher, thriller, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Stage Fright (2014)

This week has been a kicker, huh? Bombs dropped, both metaphorical and physical, world leaders engaging in a pissing contest that soaks everyone’s walls but their own, and informed, sensible, and dare I say normal, human beings are  trying to live their lives under the constant threat of a third world war. 

When the whole world is going to hell in a reusable shopping tote, you have to look at the positives; there is still chocolate and puppies, and stories about the American President paying for golden showers with Russian hookers … There is still distraction in laughing at the idea that a reality star is running a world power (I would have definitely preferred Snookie though, if I’m being completely honest), and he is still clinging to the idea that his hair is real.

So in the theme of distracting us from the fact we could all be vaporised tomorrow, I’m reviewing a comedy horror that is also a musical. With MEATLOAF. If that don’t put a smile on your faces, I fear there may just be no hope for you at all.

Camilla and Buddy are two teenagers orphaned when their mother (Minnie Driver) is brutally murdered on the night of a new musical’s debut, working for bed and board at a theatre camp that their mother’s former lover Uncle Meatloaf runs.

Desperate for money to keep afloat and gain recognition from the world he was once a part of, their pseudo Uncle decides to stage the very Opera that ended so tragically a decade ago.

Obviously tempting fate, Camilla is determined to play the role that her mother died for, facing  stiff competition from the precocious campers, someone is prepared to kill in an attempt to stop the production.

Stage Fright is the film that makes everything you ever wanted to happen to the kids in Glee, happen. There is blood, songs and plenty of tongue in cheek homages to the cult horror of my youth.

It’s silly, really laugh out loud funny, and though not especially original, it’s a stand out debut from Canadian director Jerome Sable. I can tell as a fan of the genre that Sable’s film is more of a love letter to the cult slashers of the eighties, with plenty of satisfying kills, and a grisly humour that really works.

Whatever your horror fetish, Stage Fright is light entertainment, bathed in blood, with some catchy little ditties thrown in for good measure. You may even crack a smile – I did.

Posted in 80's horror, Eighties Horror, fiction, film and media, murder, opinion, pop culture, revenge, Slasher, Twist ending, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Visitor (2017)

Independent horror is going through a small renaissance right now, with digital media becoming more accessible to those without Hollywood super budgets, and crowdfunding making fans more involved in projects that interest them, while making it easier for directors to generate publicity and solve financial constraints.

However, crowdfunding is extremely difficult, and for those on a deadline, it sometimes just doesn’t work out., often falling to the dedicated few to risk their own money on a venture that just may not work out.

The Visitor is a short film, made on a shoe string, and solely funded by the creators after a failed attempt at crowdfunding, but the end product was worth the blood and sweat that clearly went it to it.

A doctor using an experimental fertility treatment on women finding conception difficult, begins to have strange experiences, and messages from a Visitor, and as the credits roll, you are invested in the story and left wanting more.

Beautifully shot, with an intriguing concept, I was impressed within the first sixty seconds, at the understated acting and realism of the piece. Disturbing and realistic, while in surreal territory; it seemed to be over too fast, and for a short film, there is no greater compliment.

I am reliably informed by Roger Sampson (writer and director) that the piece was inspired by a news story about a meteor, and the short is a precursor to a feature film that will expand on the Visitor and what it will mean for the Doctor and her patients.

I for one, cannot wait to see more from the talented team behind Visitor and the stories they have to tell.

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They Live (1988)

First of all, apologies for the lack of posts in the last few months; as we all know life can be the real horror sometimes, and has a nasty habit of getting in the way. Normal service shall now resume.

Euphemisms are a polite way of referring to subjects that aren’t particularly nice or easy to talk about, like death, infidelity, prison, and even genocide; but if the appointment of the new dictator, I mean president of the United States has taught us anything, is that the world as it stands right now, needs some straight talking and honesty.

‘’Alt Right’’ is a term that has been bandied around a lot in the media recently, and let’s face it, when the phrase comes up we know exactly what is meant by it. A racist,  women hating, gay bashing, Muslim fearing individual, or group thereof, that whether they admit it or not, has more in common with Hitler than the Western spin machine would have you admit.

As you can tell, I’m not a fan.

John Carpenter got into some beef with the Nazi fringe groups last month when one of his greatest films was wrongly attributed to be an allegory for the racist ideals of the Anti-Semitic agenda. To have your work hijacked by loathsome bigots, is bad enough, but the fact these individuals completely misinterpreted the real allegory behind the film is the real kicker.

It’s about capitalism. And it’s a film that is simplistic in its symbolism, easy to interpret for those who like to look deeper into the layers of art, and a great cult classic for those who just like good films.

Just as those who interpret religious texts for their own ends, art can be used in the same way. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and unfortunately, so is ugliness.

They Live is a highly underrated film. It’s low budget, cheesy, colourful, fun and very tongue in cheek; but it is scarily relevant to today’s political and sociological climate, as it was when it was first made.

Average Guy finds pair of glasses that reveal to him that aliens are slowly brainwashing the public through subliminal messaging, They are everywhere and it is up to him to reveal the truth that is hiding in plain sight. Kinda poetic huh?

Sound familiar?

Roddy Piper is great as our unlikely hero, and brings a certain spark that I feel without him the film would lack. He’s energetic and fun, and goes a long way to giving the film its quirky charm. I love the homage to those fifties and sixties sci-fi/horror drive in style movies like The Blob and Teenagers from Mars, and the simplistic style has made this a firm favourite for me from the first time I saw it.

This was clearly an attack on the Reagan presidency, but that is MY interpretation … wouldn’t want to impose my values on anyone, right …  It’s funny how things have come full circle, and all the work done to repair the damage done by Ronnie and old Maggie across the pond is being speedily destroyed by Theresa May and the Trump regime under the watchful eye of that ole fear monger Steve Bannon. Except it’s not funny at all. It’s pretty scary.

The enemy isn’t hiding any more, and it’s time to stop sugar coating the ‘’Alt Right’’ for what it really is. It is the face of racism, homophobia, sexism and fear. The media bombards you with fake news to scapegoat the little guys while the money men are stripping the rights of the most vulnerable in society.

You can all pick up the sunglasses and view it as it really is, or you can ‘’Stay Asleep’’.

Posted in 80's horror, Eighties Horror, fiction, film and media, opinion, pop culture, rant, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bite (2015)

 

The Olympics in Rio began this weekend and the international community donned it’s blinkers, ignoring the real issues of the day and focusing on the important things that really, truly matter : Sport.
The murder of a jaguar during the torch lighting ceremonies was surely an omen that the gods were not pleased with the shoving under the carpet style politics on the world stage. The shedding of blood is never a good sign at the beginning of any endeavour, unless it’s a sacrificial rite, of course. Animal rights groups were, understandably outraged by the killing of an Amazonian animal, the use of which in the ceremony was also illegal, as the Olympic organisers failed to ask permission from the environmental body that protects the animals of the Amazon.
Great start, I know right?
Then we have the human rights issues at hand, which are a good reason that countries should be excluded from nice things like international sporting events if they can’t play nice all the time. Police brutality, unlawful killings, torture of detainees, and over crowded prisons on the law enforcement side of things, while gang violence, kidnappings, muggings and murder all a daily occurrence.
A body even washed up on the shore of the volleyball beach not too long ago …
Crimes against those in the LGBT community some of the highest in the world, despite the progressive stance of the government, and one person is murdered every day in Brazil at the hands of a homophobic, or trans phobic attack.
Child prostitution is a big issue and after the rise in forced child prostitution when the world cup was held there, for the more skeezy and disgusting type of sports fan, and things have not suddenly changed overnight in time for the Olympics.
Poverty is a huge problem for a middle income type of country such as this and the favelas (a pretty word for slums) are where just under twenty five per cent of the population lives. The opening ceremony seemed to glamorise the poverty it’s citizens dwell in, which is in poor taste and almost seen to be high fiving the issue rather than offering solutions to a real issue.
With a country deep in recession, a recent presidential impeachment, forced evictions, and the amount of public money spent on something pretty frivolous in the grand scheme of things, understandably tensions are running pretty high.
Between all that, the water pollution issues in some of the venues, a fire in the Australian digs (where they claim to have been robbed during the evacuations), and the concerns about the spread of the Zika Virus via mosquito bites, the Olympics are set to be interesting in a way that has nothing to do with sport.
Bite is about an unlucky bride to be who goes on a hen weekend with her girlfriends and gets a nasty infection that was not from her sleazy one night stand! When she gets home she realises that her insect bite will require a lot more than some antiseptic cream, and makes the Zika Virus look like a walk in the park.
If you aren’t a fan of the body shock genre such as Contracted, or Bad Milo, then this is not a film for you. There is a lot of pus, blood, vomit and general viscous fluids throughout that you need a strong stomach for, but if you can stick it out you’re in for a sticky treat!
Although the script is quite basic and predictable, the cast carry it well, particularly Elma Begovic who plays the lead, who gives a real depth to the role . The FX are truly disgusting and delightfully slimy, and make what could have been a quite forgettable girls gone wild and wrong kind of horror, ends up being pretty decent and quite memorable in parts.
Gooey, gag reflex inducing and gory, Bite is a fun little horror that is a great metaphor for the inner demons we all possess and the pitfalls of allowing others in.

Posted in Body Shock, creature feature, critique, fiction, film and media, horror, insects, murder, opinion, pop culture, rant, supernatural horror, thriller, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

100 Feet (2008)

 

This week the main topic in not just those gossipy hack mags, but the so called respectable news sources also, has been the marriage of Johnny Depp and his soon to be ex wife Amber Heard.

Because there is no other news of note happening in the world …
Depp, respected, and established actor adored by millions left his long term partner and mother of his children Vanessa Paradis, and, after a whirl wind romance married the young ingénue Heard, who is more than 20 years his junior.
The reason why the news of the impending divorce is so juicy to the gossip mongers, is because Depp’s young wife is alleging that she is the victim of abuse, both physical and mental. The reactions on the subject, are pretty extreme to say the least.
How dare she accuse Johnny ‘Tim Burton is my Home boy’ Depp? Doesn’t she know that he is beloved and respected? What a liar/gold digging whore/ disgusting human being she must be!
A judge granted Heard a restraining order, and Depp’s celebrity friends, ex partners and even his daughter came out in force to denounce the claims, labelling the young actress a fraud and accusing her of blackmail.
It’s interesting that all of this furore, no one has accepted the idea the Johnny Depp may in fact be guilty and Amber Heard could be telling the truth.
I mean, if a woman married a man decades younger than her, she’d be labelled a cougar, and a cradle robber. Even if her fortune dwarfed her young conquest, she would be the predator. Depp, a millionaire, a shrewd person, and not one for putting it about, chose to marry Heard of his own free will, chose not to protect that money of his with a pre nup, and knowing that this will result in a large payout and alimony without one, is supposedly the victim, if Heard divorces him.
He is not a victim. He is a foolish man, who wanted to chase a girl far too young for him, and couldn’t imagine the idea of her not wanting to stay married to him forever.

The sexism in the reporting and conversation around this story are infuriating and show a pretty worrying trend. Amber Heard may well be a victim of abuse – no one knows what went on behind closed doors but her and her more famous spouse. Just because Johnny Depp never raised a hand to Vanessa Paradis does not mean that he is incapable of doing so – after all he didn’t marry her either, but he is certainly capable of it. John Wayne Gacy had two wives that had no idea about his predilection for torturing and murdering young boys until he was caught.
You never truly know a person, and even the person you think you know best in the world could be capable of violence, or things that you can never forgive. We only ever show others what we want them to see, and just because you’ve seen some films with a guy in, doesn’t mean that you know what kind of person they are, after all, I’m sure he has a top notch PR firm at the very least.
Amber Heard may well be a victim, and Johnny Depp may be innocent, but sadly, it isn’t the point. The point is that when someone in the public eye makes the decision to come out as a victim of abuse and is vilified and victim blamed in such a fashion, it makes it so much harder for women and men to come forward and ask for help.
Bill Cosby, Rolf Harris, and the now infamous Jimmy Savile’s victims were shamed before anyone had any of the now overwhelming facts and evidence against them, and nothing has changed. Status and position in society should have no implication on whether a victim’s claim should be taken seriously, for the law should treat everyone as equal.
Innocent until proven guilty should not just be applied to the accused, but to the accuser also.
100 Feet is the story of a woman who kills her violent cop husband in self defence. After being placed on house arrest, she is made to wear an ankle bracelet, and must remain within one hundred feet of her home at all times, hence the film’s title. Unfortunately for her, the former partner of her husband is staking the house out, to try and catch her out in some parole violation, and even worse the malevolent spirit of said husband, is out for some payback from beyond the grave.
I found the storyline reminiscent of the Doug Peterson case; the serial abuser who happened to be a cop, who was found guilty of the murder of his third wife, and his ill fated  fourth wife, went missing without a trace after expressing her wish to leave her controlling husband. Peterson’s wives repeatedly called 911 when he was violent, and because the police that came were his co workers and buddies, those cries for help and patterns of abuse went unchecked. Those ladies may still be alive today if those officers had done their jobs.
In my eyes they became accessories to those crimes, when they chose to look the other way.
The film is a slow burner.The subject matter is poignant and unsettling, as the injustice of a woman being punished for defending herself, the feeling of claustrophobia as she is forced to live in the place where the violence took place, and the knowledge that even in death, her tormentor is still calling the shots.
Famke Janssen is very underrated as an actress, and she is what gives 100 Feet the oomph it needed. Atmospheric, tense, and in places very disturbing, but the third act seems to fizzle more than bang. Though it has a solid dialogue, script and is definitely one of the better haunted house flicks I have seen, it had a lot more potential but just fell short at the final hurdle.
Original spooks, with a solid casting that is definitely worth a watch if supernatural thrillers are your bag. If you’re looking for extreme gore though, it’s lacking in blood and body count. That being said, it’s a clever film that addresses some sad realities of our society in terms of attitudes towards women.

 

Posted in 00's horror, critique, feminist horror, fiction, film and media, ghost story, horror, murder, Noughties horror, opinion, pop culture, psychological horror, rant, revenge, supernatural horror, thriller, Uncategorized, women's lib horror | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bone Tomahawk (2015)

You often hear people say ‘It wasn’t like that in my day!’, ‘Things were so much simpler back then’, or my personal favourite ‘You could leave your doors unlocked!’
Well firstly, which ‘then’ are we referring to? The then when women couldn’t vote, when racial segregation was de rigour, when gays could be imprisoned for being open about their preferences, when Mickey Rooney was allowed to play an Asian character in Breakfast at Tiffany’s?
I mean, there is so much to choose from, right?
And yes, things were so simple back then! You did as you were told, didn’t question the rules or religious beliefs that were imposed on them, and every one was so content with that.’ Every one’ being the middle to upper class white male, I’m guessing …
Women were seen and not heard, much like the children, no one would bat an eyelid if your wife was given a firm hand in the shape of a fist, and rape in marriage was unheard of in law. Honour and Obey right?
Single unwed mothers were social pariahs, depression/homosexuality/death of husband/domestic troubles/anxiety/reversal of circumstances/epilepsy .. would get you sent to Bedlam, mental illness wasn’t so much treated, as shoe’d under the carpet or sent to get a fix all lobotomy. There was the wild west in America, where lawlessness was king, or when the white man came and raped the natives, took their land, and made them fit into a Jesus worshipping little hole just how they like their indigenous folk.
There were no paedophiles, no crime, and even thieves and murderers had a code of honour by all accounts … No I’m not buying any of it either, but people sure do like to rewrite the past don’t they?
Donald Trump has age and not a lot else but he bangs on about those good old days and ‘making America great again’. Tell me Donald when was it great? When your pimp grand daddy first came over from Ireland? During the lynchings? During the slave trades, the civil war or this ‘brave’ new America where people think that the orange, hamster wigged, imbecile makes enough sense to be voted into the control of nuclear weapons? I mean this guy is a billionaire and yet cannot buy an educated thought, never mind a decent hair piece, yet people are willing to put their trust in a total idiot to run their country.
I mean our Prime Minister stuck his penis in a dead pig’s mouth, and is essentially a rat in a people suit; so I mean, no one is bragging about how intelligent our voters are either, but they all tell the same sort of lies about their own vision of our futures in the end.

My point being that every era has it’s issues, and things sure can look rosy when you’re viewing them from a distance, and if that wonderful vista is viewed from an million dollar tower bearing your name, surrounded by ‘Yes men’ and imported brides, then reality is never going to be your strong suit.
Bone Tomahawk is a horror/thriller set in the good old Wild West. When a young woman is kidnapped by a tribe of cannibalistic troglodytes, her injured husband and what constitutes the law of the town go on a rescue mission, not knowing what kind of dangers lay in wait for them.
This is a film in the true spirit of both the western and the horror. Suspenseful, glossy, and with a deadpan humour that, juxtaposed with the savage brutality and violence Rob Zombie would be proud of, makes for a hell of a watch. Seventies exploitation meets the classic western formula, coupled with the A List cast that includes Kurt freaking Russell, David Arquette, and a cameo by Captain Spaulding himself Sid Haig, everything about Bone Tomahawk screams class.
With the micro budget it began with this was a movie that drew an amazing cast purely with it’s solid, intelligent scripting, attracting actors who wanted it to be made, and helped make it reality; proving you don’t need big budgets to pull off something that is sure to be a cult favourite.
Both intelligent horror, and savage western, this is a film that offers something new with every viewing, and is already an all time favourite film of mine. It isn’t just scares for the sake of it, but a compulsive watch from the opening credits. This is what true great film is all about.
A bloody good watch with a healthy splattering of blood.
You will not be disappointed in the little horror that could.

Posted in critique, fiction, film and media, horror, horror western, murder, opinion, pop culture, revenge, thriller, torture, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment