Sunday, 11 December 2011

New reviews: Jenny Ringo and The Stone

Jeff Regan was kind enough to send me a screener of his ambitious 25-minute comedy Jenny Ringo and the Monkey's Paw, complete with musical number and animated sequences.

I also received a disc from Chemical Burn Entertainment of The Stone: No Soul Unturned, the debut feature from paranormal documentarian Philip Gardiner.

A review of each has been added to the main site.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Watch Masterpiece online for free

Andrew C Tanner has decided that, in the spirit of the season, he will give everyone a gift: his second feature film, Masterpiece. It's an extremely well made, brilliantly acted, wrist-slashingly bleak psychodrama. But it's still better than having the relatives over for Christmas, isn't it?

You can watch the fill 103 minutes of grim Welsh obsessive self-destruction on Vimeo.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

My other blog is a blog

Not content with managing this blog, I have created a second one over at british-horror-revival.blogspot.com where I can report on doings among current/recent/forthcoming British horror pictures and also document progress on my book.

There is even one of those Twitter things @BritHorrorRev.

New review: Alien Undead

Australian sci-fi actioner Alien Undead aka The Dark Lurking was released on UK DVD earlier this month by Left Films and my review of the movie is now online.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

New Devil's Porridge: Finding Bela

My latest Devil's Porridge blog over at Hemlock Books is a look at how film historians, biographers and researchers have explored the life and work of Bela Lugosi over the years - and how I added one more small, previously unknown snippet to the pool of information on Lugosi's filmography.

Memory Lane - supernatural thriller available for free download this weekend

This press release from an enterprising young film-maker turned up in my inbox this week. Good luck to him!


First-Time Filmmaker Shoots Film for Under $300, Gives it Away Online Free for One Weekend Only Beginning 11/11/11


First-time filmmaker Shawn Holmes joins the ranks of such forward-thinking filmmakers as Kevin Smith and The Polish Brothers. His debut film 'Memory Lane' is a rare truly independent film shot for only $300 and given away online free.


'Memory Lane' is a rare, truly independent thriller shot for only $300 about a war-veteran who travels between our world and the afterlife in search of his fiance's killer... by stopping and starting his own heart. At midnight on 11/11/11 at 553AM.com, Shawn Holmes, the youngest nominee in the history of the West Virginia Filmmaker of the Year Award, will release 'Memory Lane' online for free for one weekend only.


Writer, director, and producer Shawn Holmes stated, "Innovation is paramount to our success. I'm giving it away because you just don't do that."


As film festival entries cost as much as his entire movie, he chose to skip the festival route early in the film's release and give it away for one weekend on his website 553AM.com. "We may have a festival run, we may not. We're living in this crazy time where traditional gatekeepers can be circumvented altogether. The VCR, DVD players, in-home 3D and internet; history has proven that movies aren't limited to thriving on the silver screen and that with advances in technology come advances in how we watch them. Alfred Hitchcock said that television was like the invention of indoor plumbing. That it didn't change people's habits, it just kept them inside. Had the internet existed in his lifetime as it does in ours, he could have easily made the same realization that we have," claims Shawn.


In less than a week, the trailer received over 17,000 views on YouTube. He has an active Facebook presence with over 4,400 fans at www.facebook.com/MemoryLaneMovie. 'Memory Lane' will be released in its entirety at www.553AM.com on Friday, 11/11/11 at midnight and will stay up until Sunday, 11/13/11. A limited number of autographed DVDs are available for purchase at 553AM.com

Thursday, 3 November 2011

New interview: Richard Gordon

I'm not one for obituaries, except when I knew someone personally. Richard Gordon was a friend of mine who I saw every year when he came over to Manchester. And when Mrs S and I visited New York he insisted on taking us out for dinner. Richard passed away on Monday, aged 85. So I've dug out an interview that I did with him in 2001 about his memories of working with Bela Lugosi. RIP Richard.

New review: Black Pond

Black Pond is a little different to most of the films I review in that it's a quirky black comedy. Features the return of Chris Langham.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Porcelain Man released?

Unlikely as it seems, The Porcelain Man - the cheapo-cheapo British film which was made in 2002, sent to me in 2004 and finally reviewed on this site in August 2011, is going to be released. A US label called Chemical Burn Entertainment, who also have Bane in their catalogue, list the film and it looks like it's scheduled for February 2012.

Harold wins award in Austin


Harold’s Going Stiff has won the 2011 Narrative Feature Competition at the prestigious Austin Film Festival (AFF), in Texas. You can catch it at Day of the Undead in Leicester on 19th November.

A couple of treats for Halloween

TF Simpson and I carved a pumpkin tonight, decorated the living room with lobby cards from crappy Jess Franco monster movies then settled down to watch a 50-minute cartoon of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde followed by Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man.

Anyway, here's a couple of links I've been sent to Halloween-themed shorts on Vimeo. Emiliano (Langliena) Ranzani pointed me to Treated, a slick two-minute gag on which he was camera operator. And Frank Sabatella, the man who brought us Blood Night: The Legend of Mary Hatchet, sent me a link to his hilarious 20-minute killer vegetable movie Night of the Pumpkin.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

New interview: Mike Matthews and Mark Harriott

The two chaps behind the rather impressive Unhappy Birthday have kindly answered a few e-mail questions for me.

Exclusive new review: Kill Keith

On Saturday I had the pleasure of watching a preview of Kill Keith at the British Horror Film Festival in London. And it is the funniest damn movie I have seen for ages. Heartily recommended. Opening in some venues on 11th November.

British Horror Film Festival 2011 Awards


BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR 
Billy Murray - 'Stalker
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS 
Barbara Nedeljakova - 'The Hike'
BEST MUSIC 
John Zealey - 'Kill Keith'
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY 
Nic Lawson - 'The Holding'
BEST ACTOR 
Vincent Regan - 'The Holding'
BEST ACTRESS 
Kierston Wareing - 'The Holding'
BEST FEATURE FILM 
Stalker 
BEST SHORT FILM 
Tell Him Next Year
BEST NEW SCREENPLAY 
Dan Clifton - 'The Unseen'
BEST DIRECTOR 
Martin Kemp - 'Stalker'
THE BRITISH HORROR AWARD 
(Given for achieving excellence with a low budget) 
Rise of the Appliances

All of the winners received beautiful crystal engraved awards and pictures will be up on the website soon!

The winner of Best Short Film also received a lighting package for their next short film shoot, courtesy of Panalux. 

Tris Versluis takes Berlin!


Great news - my mate Tristan Versluis is starting work on a new feature! (And with Melanie Light on board as prod.des.) Here's the full announcement:


UK Special Effects man, Tristan Versluis, (WWZ, Sweeney Todd, Hot Fuzz, Clive Barker's Book of Blood, Dead Man's Shoes, Fred Claus) is about to start shooting his second feature film in Berlin next month. Tristan is known for his dark, delicious flair with beautifully bloody prosthetics and painstaking CGI work in his shorts. 'Pixel', a short featuring 30 vfx shots of carefully detailed animated bugs, and 'I Love you' with some deeply horrific acts of passion. Tristan's first feature film 'Not Alone' features a 1950's American aesthetic and is currently in post-production.

Now comes Omni. The story of an abducted woman; Abbi - recently freed from a Berlin prison after being convicted of a crime despite pleading innocence. Seeing her daughter for the first time in 7 years she celebrates. That evening she is taken by an unidentified object within a bright light and subject to extreme experiments and surgical probing.

Abbi wakes to find herself in unknown and uncomfortable surroundings and roams by day
searching for answers, learning why she had been a chosen one. Each night she is haunted and taken, only to wake again in a new location. Abbi has to fight to her freedom whilst uncovering a menace which threatens the planet's existence.

Omni will be made by UK company Screaming Pictures and shot on-location in the UK, Europe and hopefully other parts of the World. Made in partnership with Ascension Productions, known for the production of The Gallows ' Grey Britain ' film and for music promos for such horror-esque bands as The Defiled.

Abbi is to be played by British actress Charlotte Hunter (Dungeons and Dragons: The Book of Vile Darkness . Sci-Fi Short 'Shifter'). An up-and-coming actress with a strong feminine charm and a tough broad interior - perfect for this role.

Crew members that have already embraced Omni are:
  • Jonathan Edward Klahr, a trained Special Effects man from the days of Star Wars ep1, The Mummy and Harry Potter. He now has a strong focus on VFX compositing for companies such as Disney, Sony and Electronic Arts. He was also the man behind the millions of bugs in Versluis short 'Pixel'.
  • Director of Photography: Stuart Nicholas White. Having shot the majority of Versluis' shorts and his last feature 'Not Alone'. They share a great partnership in filmmaking. White uses his talent and enthusiasm for beautiful photography and composition to bring Versluis' visions to life.
  • Rachel Freire, Costume Designer , is hugely popular in the fashion world and has work featured on the front page of Italian Vogue magazine. Her work has an imaginative twist to the dark side and fetish with a futuristic natural form, perfect for Omni.
  • Production Designer, Melanie Light (Inbred, SKET, Kirill, Scar Crow) has a huge passion for Sci-Fi and Horror and thrives in the genre. Having worked with Versluis on many occasions, she understands his qualities and runs with it.

Omni will be fresh and exciting for the Sci-Fi / Horror genre - delving into new ways of exploring the experimentation by extraterrestrial beings. Oozing high class VFX and creativity in UK talent.

So follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and support new UK talent!

Harold's Going Stiff in Sheffield



Yorkshire zombie comedy Harold's Going Stiff will screen in Sheffield at Celluloid Screams, a horror film festival which has so far escaped my attention. Lead actors Sarah Spencer and Stan Rowe will be in attendance at the screening this Sunday, 23rd October, at 4pm at the Showroom Workstation.

A US premiere in Austin is also lined up.

Also screening this weekend in Sheffield is Alex Chandon's Inbred, Dust Devil, Vampyres, The Theatre Bizarre, Helldriver, Some Guy Who Kills People, Re-Animator and Halloween.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Poster and synopsis for Pat Higgins' Witchpit


Pat Higgins sent me an update on The Devil's Music and his next feature The House on the Witchpit, shooting next year. Before then we should see the Pat-scripted Strippers vs Werewolves and hopefully a release for Bordello Death Tales. Here's Pat, talking about himself in the third person, much like MJ Simpson often does:

Pat Higgins, the original creator and writer of the eagerly anticipated 'Strippers vs Werewolves' has announced his next feature 'The House on the Witchpit'. Higgins' company, Jinx Media, has released a teaser poster for the film and a few details of what to expect.
 
Pat Higgins describes 'The House on the Witchpit', as "a 3am panic attack" and adds "It's dark, strange and doesn't treat the audience like idiots. It's a trawl through the dark corners of my subconscious in an attempt to pull whatever shrieking, shaking things live there out into the light and pin them bleeding to the screen as best as we are able."
 
'The House on the Witchpit' tells the story of Rachel Morely, a beautiful young widow struggling to get over the sudden death of her husband. When an old college friend invites her to a notorious old building for the recording a very unusual horror TV show, she hopes that it might prove just the distraction she needs. By midnight, however, untold horrors have reawakened and not all of the blood spilling in the old house is reassuringly fake.
 
The film will be shooting in 2012, and the teaser artwork (designed by Paul Cousins) can be seen attached.
 
Higgins has also announced the release of his award-winning 2008 cult hit 'The Devil's Music' on groundbreaking new platform Distrify, which allows viewers to stream or download the film instantly and also allows fans to profit from the process by embedding the player on their websites.
 
Higgins says "As the physical formats die away, it's interesting to see the new forms of distribution breaking through. The Devil's Music has already had a successful release on both sides of the pond (if you're quick you can still pick up the US special edition DVD from Amazon, although it is now out of print) and now we've seized upon Distrify as a way of bringing it to a whole new audience. Distrify are tying independent film into social media in a way that I think is extremely exciting"
 
The film, which won the Best Independent Feature category at the UK's Festival of Fantastic Film, tells the tale of shock-rocker Erika Spawn and her obsession with a boy-band singer whom she becomes convinced is the Antichrist. It examines the way the media deals with violent entertainment and generated terrific word-of-mouth upon its original release.
 
A new version of the trailer, featuring Higgins talking about the film, can be seen at:

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Reverend, Kill Keith and more at British Horror Fest

The British Horror Film Festival 2011 runs at two venues simultaneously over 14th-15th October. You can either see the films at The Dance Pavilion in Bournemouth or the Empire, Leicester Square in That London.

Festival organiser Stuart Brennan has the world premiere of his eagerly awaited The Reverend lines up for the Friday night, which seems perfectly reasonable. Then on Saturday we have the brilliant (I hope!) Kill Keith, The Holding, Stalker and the UK premiere of The Hike. Plus a couple of hours of short films as follows:
Tell Him Next Year (13 mins) Directed by David MargolisSolving Problems  (16 mins) Directed by Filipe Maciel Merry Little Christmas (21 mins) Produced by Lolita PicturesRise of the Appliances (9mins) Directed by Rob Sprackling Le Miroir (15 mins) Directed by FervexEnvy The Dead (10 mins) Directed by Isa SwainFacing Ruper(11 mins) Directed by Gregory Erdstein 

Two new reviews: Kill List and Unhappy Birthday

I don't often review theatrically released films but Kill List annoyed me so much - and has been so overpraised by people blind to its flaws - that I had to get my thoughts into words.

If you want a much better film that owes a debt to The Wicker Man, check out Unhappy Birthday from Peccadillo Pictures. In fact you can catch the film on the big screen at the Greenwich Picturehouse on 31st October.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Harold and more at Day of the Undead

Phoenix Square and Terror4Fun have announced the line-up for this year's Day of the Undead, Leicester's annual celebration of all things zombie. There are two British features on the menu: Keith Wright's wrily comical Harold's Going Stiff (which I've seen) and the Ford Brothers' African-set The Dead (which I'm looking forward to seeing).

There are two UK premieres: Reese Eveneshan's Dead Genesis from Canada and, from the States, Thomas Newman's stoner comedy Bong of the Dead. If slacker comedies are more your thing, there's the Pierce Brothers' comedy Deadheads. All this and Lucio Fulci's City of the Living Dead too! Plus the usual make-up and authors and dealers and video games.

Day of the Undead is on Saturday 19th November, from midday to midnight. Day tickets are £25, individual films are £7/£5.40

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Kill Keith - not in most cinemas from 11th November

One film I'm desperate to see is Kill Keith, the latest feature from director Andy Thompson (The Scar Crow), in which a serial killer murders minor league British TV names including Russell Grant, Joe Pasquale, Tony Blackburn and the eponymous Mr Chegwin.

The concept is so loopy that this can't fail to be either the best film ever made or the worst, possibly both. There's a great teaser trailer at www.killkeith.co.uk and the film is set for a limited theatrical release on 11th November.

The cast also include Dominic Burns (director of Cut), the ubiquitous Simon Phillips (Jack Says trilogy, Jesus vs the Messiah etc), Susannah Fielding (4.3.2.1) and the great Frank Scantori (Warrior Sisters, Room 36).

Black Pond - new British film

Black Pond is a new British film from Will Sharpe and Tom Kingsley, tw young men who previously collaborated on the half-hour, Japanese-shot short film Cockroach (which you can watch on YouTube). The feature is notable as the return to the screen of the comedy legend that is Chris Langham: Muppet Show writer; Ken Campbell's first Arthur Dent; original Not the Nine O'Clock News cast member; People Like Us; The Thick of It...

Langham is the head of a family accused of being cold-blooded killers in this slightly surreal dark comedy-thriller which debuted at Raindance. Slightly bizarrely, the cast also includes Simon Amstell off Never Mind the Buzzcocks.

Black Pond opens at the Prince Charles Cinema in London on 11th November and goes on limited release around the country the following week. More at www.blackpondfilm.com

Sunday, 25 September 2011

More guests added to Manchester

The Festival of Fantastic Films has expanded its guest lists till further with the addition of Italian horror actor Bobby Rhodes (from Demons and Demons 2) and veteran Hammer assistant director Hugh Harlow. Other guests include actors Robin Askwith, Derek Fowlds, Johnny Legend and Derren Nesbitt, director Norman J Warren, producer Richard Gordon, veteran script supervisor Renee Glynne, scriptwriter David McGillivray and film lecturer CP Lee who used to be in punk band Alberto y Lost Trios Paranoias!

Another win for Gorgo!

Waiting for Gorgo has picked up its second award, this one at the Cantoo Film Festival in West Virgina where it won 'Best Short Film'.
The judges' comments are very flattering:

"Finally she has come! Waiting for Gorgo is a short film about what is real and what is fiction. Benjamin Craig takes the viewer deep into the Ministry of Defence in search of the elusive D.M.O.A. In the film you will meet the small but extremely likable cast. The two heads of the department, characterised by Geoffrey Davies and Nicholas Amer, play off each other wonderfully. Kelly Eastwood skilfully expresses the journey to find them. You feel the pity which the auditor has as she reveals to them the truth of their situation. The well-built set rivals a Hollywood production with its detail. M.J. Simpson's script is brilliantly witty and nearly every line is quotable. A well directed, well produced film that is fun and thought-provoking. A winner of a film! The film shows why the British are the best in this craft."

Saturday, 17 September 2011

New review: Umbrage: The First Vampire

Umbrage: The First Vampire is almost certainly the first ever British vampire western. It stars Doug Bradley and Rita Ramnani and is out on DVD from Left Films on 17th October. But is it any good?

Blood Runs Cold coming soon on DVD

Holy crap, the trailer for new Swedish horror film Blood Runs Cold looks terrific.


"The debut feature from director Sonny Laguna, the low-budget Swedish horror flick Blood Runs Cold takes the classic slasher template set down by John Carpenter with “Halloween” and gives it a Scandinavian make-over that chills to the bone." says the publicity blurb.


Chelsea Films release the movie on UK DVD on 3rd October.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

New review: Stalker

Martin Kemp's debut feature Stalker (originally announced as a remake of Exposé) is out on DVD next month and I've been able to watch and review a screener. You can also catch the film on the big screen at Grimm Up North in Manchester on 7th October when Kemp, producer Jonathan Sothcott and actress Jane March will be in attendance.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Unhappy Birthday due next month

Unhappy Birthday, the 'gay Wicker Man' that I previewed back in July is now set for a DVD release in the UK (from Peccadillo Pictures, who else) on 24th October.


Find out more at www.unhappybirthdaythemovie.com

Deadly tattoo from Canada: Comforting Skin

Producer Justin James very kindly dropped me a line to alert me to Comforting Skin, an atmospheric and original new Canadian horror feature from director Derek Franson. (Credit annotations by me...)


"Comforting Skin is a supernatural thriller that follows Koffie, a lonely young woman’s who's desperate need for emotional and sexual companionship draws her into a surreal and ultimately destructive relationship with a shifting and whispering tattoo she has willed to life on her skin.

"Comforting Skin  was shot last spring on a budget of roughly $250,000. Additionally much of our equipment, crew and locations were donated as well. The slithering, shifting tattoo character was brought to life through the use of digital animation and compositing techniques, requiring custom code developed by our VFX Supervisor Ollie Rankin (motion capture on Watchmen and Harry Potter). We are now in the final days of completing the film with just a few effects shots left to fine-tune and finish.
 
The film stars Victoria Bidewell (AVP: Requiem) in her first starring role, along with Tygh Runyan (Stargate Universe, Canadian Zombie)Jane Sowerby (The Pink Chiquitas!) and Phil Granger (Sasquatch, To Die For). Victoria not only performed the lead part of Koffie, but voiced the tattoo character as well. Derek, myself and Andrew Webster produced the film. Our cinematography was handled by Adam Sliwinski (Deadly Visions, Beyond Sherwood Forest), who did an amazing job for us, as did our editor Lenka Svab (Karate Dog; no honestly: Karate. Dog.) and Production Designer Elena Dubova (costume assistant on Stonehenge Apocalypse!). The film`s haunting music was composed and conducted by Alain Mayrand, who despite our miniscule budget was able to assemble an impressive group of orchestral musicians to record the score."

There's a website at www.comfortingskin.com, the trailer's on Vimeo and there's a Facebook thing.

Monday, 29 August 2011

New British horror: The Tapes


The Tapes is a new British horror film that I hadn't previously heard about, set for release next month. Here's the publicity. (In case you're wondering, Demons Never Die is the new title of the forthcoming British horror picture previously known as Suicide Kids).
Three teenagers... two cameras ... one terrifying night ...
Written by Scott Bates and co-directed by Bates and Lee Alliston, The Tapes is a brand new independent British horror film starring Jason Maza (Demons Never Die; Anuvahood; Fish Tank),Arnold Oceng (Demons Never Die; 4.3.2.1.; Adulthood; Grange Hill), Natasha Sparkes (Burlesque Fairytales) and Nick Nevern (Terry; Adulthood).
A gritty, urban teen horror that takes its “found footage” cue from the likes of “The Blair Witch Project”, “REC” and “The Zombie Diaries”, The Tapes adds a rare and chilling sense of realism to the proceedings thanks to utterly convincing performances from its excellent young cast and fine location work that suggests the horror really could happen here.
In the winter of 2008, three teenage friends, Nathan (Oceng), Gemma (Sparkes) and her boyfriend Dan (Maza), visited Whitstable, Kent to shoot location footage for Gemma’s showreel and her Big Brother TV show audition video. While filming in one of the area’s many pubs, they briefly encountered a local farmer and were later informed by the barmaid that the man was a harmless ‘swinger’ who regularly hosted sex parties at his nearby farm.
Seeing an opportunity to make some easy money by breaking into the farm to secretly film one of the parties and then selling the bootleg DVDs for cash, Nathan and Dan convinced Gemma to accompany them by promising to finish her showreel at the same time. But things soon began to turn extremely sinister when the farmer and his guests began arriving at the farmhouse and the three friends found themselves trapped in a dingy barn as darkness fell.
These events and the horrific details of what happened next only came to light when the police discovered the videotapes recorded by Nathan, Dan and Gemma. Now, the families of the victims have allowed The Tapes to be shown to the public for the first time. What you will see documents the shocking and terrifying final hours of three teenagers who found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The Tapes (cert. tbc) is released by Exile Media Group and will open at selected UK cinemas on23rd September 2011. It will be available to buy on DVD (£9.99) from 26th September 2011.

New reviews: The Porcelain Man and Ninjas vs Vampires

The Porcelain Man is a never-released ultra-low budget British feature from 2004. Ninjas vs Vampires is a fun American action-horror romp which is released in the UK this week by Left Films.

New British horror: In the Dark Half

And still they come. In the Dark Half is a 'psychological ghost story; from Bard Entertainment (who previously brought us the excellent Vampire Diary)/Matador Pictures/SouthWest Screen. Directed by Alastair Siddons, whose previus work has been documentaries and music videos, from a script by Lucy Catherine who wrote an epsode of Being Human and adapted Roald Dahl's The Witches for Radio 4. It stars Tony Curran (League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Underworld: Evolution, Midnight Meat Train), Lindsey Marshal (Snuff-Movie, Being Human) and Jessica Barden.


Synopsis
It's autumn and Marie is fifteen. She lives on the edge of the city with her mum Kathy. Filthy lives next door. He is a single father with a six year old son called Sean. He takes his boy out hunting with him for rabbits on the hill behind their houses. They are very close and spend all their time together. Marie also likes the hill. She goes running on it every day. In a secluded spot near the top she has a secret den. It is her refuge from a world she is finding increasingly difficult to cope with. She appears to be losing her only friend and she doesn’t seem to be able to communicate with her mother.
One night Marie babysits for Filthy. Whilst in her care, Sean mysteriously dies. Nobody knows why and Filthy is devastated. Marie becomes convinced the death has something to do with the hill and becomes aware that she is being haunted by a frightening presence. What is this presence? Is it the spirit of Sean? Or something much more terrifying...

Monday, 22 August 2011

Driscoll reviews back online

I still get a lot of questions about them and damn it, if he's back, so am I! So my reviews of Kannibal (now aka Head Hunter), The Comic and Evil Calls (aka The Raven aka Alone in the Dark and now aka The Legend of Harrow Woods) are back up on my site - with more, better pictures too.

Don't try to read Evil Calls in one sitting unless you have a lot of free time!

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Richard Driscoll has risen from the grave!

Until a couple of years ago I used to document the amusing boasts and claims (and spelling mistakes) of Richard Driscoll 'the British Ed Wood'. I took down 'The Richard Driscoll Experience' and my reviews of Kannibal, The Comic and Evil Calls (all 22,000 words of it!) after Driscoll started bombarding me with illiterate, threatening e-mails and it turned from a fun sideline into something tedious.

Since then, I have received constant e-mails about Driscoll, many from people who had the 'joy' of working with him. House of Fear went bust a few months ago (the site is now dead) and although I have reliable reports of receiverships and arrests and all sorts of malarkey, it would be impolitic for me to report what is technically hearsay (however amusing/likely it is).

Before he disappeared, when he was shooting Eldorado, Driscoll threatened to re-release his films in 3D - and now he has! A 3D version of Evil Calls, retitled The Legend of Harrow Woods, is now on sale in HMV, Sainsburys and anywhere else that stocks dodgy DVDs. Here's the Amazon page and here's another Amazon page for Head Hunter, a 3D retitling of Kannibal, which is set for release at the end of August.

There's even a couple of reviews of The Legend of Harrow Woods online now. AndyErupts says: "The Legend of Harrow Woods, also known as Evil Calls: The Raven Part 1, is utter garbage. I don’t just say that to be nasty. I don’t do that. It’s genuinely awful. It’s a low-grade Shining clone, with smatterings of The Blair Witch Project thrown in for good measure."

And Nameless Horror says: "I cannot recommend this film to anyone I know since I think they will all hate it . I didn’t hate it but I don’t imagine seeking it out to watch again"

Unlike the previous DVD of Evil Calls, this one is legal as it has a BBFC certificate (it was submitted by a company called Lace Digital Media Sales which seems to be purely a service company that Driscoll has hired).

The actual 'company' releasing the discs is called Moviola 3D. They have a website (registered in Queensland, although I'm sure that's a red herring), a Facebook page and a Youtube channel. They plan to release Eldorado (I literally cannot wait) in 3D and also Cold Light of Day. I can certainly wait for this last one, which is a dull biopic of Denis Nilsen, produced by Driscoll in the 1990s (though he falesly claimed to have directed it too when he listed it as Killer's Kiss on his previous website). There are five other titles listed for 2012 release but we all know how fluid Driscoll's concept of the future is.

I am reliably informed that Driscoll doesn't actually have the rights to Kannibal or Evil Calls (though I suppose he may have copyrighted the 3D versions separately). He almost certainly doesn't have the rights to release Eldorado and there are a bunch of people involved in that film who have never seen a copy and will be very interested if it turns up in HMV. So my advice is to snap these discs up as soon as possible in case they suddenly get pulled from the shelves.

In the meantime, I am resurrecting my three Driscoll reviews and an archive of the old RD Experience, and I'll record here any further news on the man and his work.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Two new British horrors: Rising Tide and The Hounds

Here's a couple of new indue UK horror features which have crossed my radar and have their debut screenings this week.

Rising Tide
screening: Tyneside Cinema, Newscastle, 17 August 2011, 6.00pm (with cast Q&A)
www.risingtidethemovie.com

"A sinister story about a group of college leavers embarking on their last adventure together, the film is a coming-of-age ghost story about friendship, loss and revenge.
Exams finished and the holidays in full swing, it should have been a memorable last adventure with close friends before going separate ways. It was, but for all the wrong reasons.
As the friends raise a toast ‘to friendship’, Izzy, the newest member of the close-knit group, is hiding a devastating past which follows them to the fateful camping trip to the tidal island of Holy Island, or Lindisfarne.
Internationally renowned Northumbrian musician Kathryn Tickell and several North East bands add a foreboding, atmospheric soundtrack to the film as the storm clouds gather over the Northumberland coast.
A film directed and produced by Dawn Furness & Philip Shotton"

The Hounds
You've just missed this one, I'm afraid as it screened at The Little Cinema in Bath on Friday 12 August. Seems to be an Anglo-Italian co-production, directed by Maurizio and Robert Del Piccolo with a British cast and British/Italian crew. Filmed in and around Bath.
"A group of old friends, Sarah, Jake, Dave and Martin, decide to relive their college days by going on a hiking weekend, camping out overnight. At the same time, Mike, a police detective, is investigating a criminal gang who are in some macabre way linked to the group of friends. How are these parallel stories connected? And what terrible discovery will Sarah make? Nothing is quite as it appears.

WFGorgo wins at Italian festival!

The little film which I wrote, Waiting for Gorgo, has screened at a bunch of festivals and has now won a prize. It was awarded the Special Jury Prize at the Filmcaravan Festival in Italy "For good technique and the coordination on the set of three protagonists who support a dialectic rhythm with great harmony, without lessening the tension."


Hooray!

Sunday, 7 August 2011

My next book: The British Horror Revival

With the ink dry on the contracts (and about a quarter of the text written) I can announce my next book. No, it's not the interminably-delayed Elsa Lanchester biography (though I will finish that one day, I promise). My current project is a book simply called The British Horror Revival (we may add a funky subtitle to that at some point) which will be published by Hemlock Books in 2012, in which I document, review and contextualise about a hundred British horror films released between 1998 and 2008.

I've written about the BHR before, for example, in a piece I did for the sadly missed DeathRay magazine, and I've referenced it plenty of times on my website and in my Devil's Porridge blog for Hemlock. Now I've got the opportunity to go into the subject in some real depth. I'm addressing the topic on two fronts: in terms of the sheer volume of films being produced and commercially released (an average of one every 11 days last year); and in thematic terms. I'll show how the best of these films combine horror with social realism to address the realities of life in 21st century Britain.

Like any subgenre, BHR films range from the great to the terrible but many of them are simply unknown, with little if any press coverage. Hopefully my book can draw attention to some overlooked gems.

The reason I'm only going up to 2008 is not because the BHR stopped three years ago but because I've got a limited word count. Continuing up to 2012 would almost double the number of movies covered, almost halving what I can say about each one. Also, the last film in the book should now conveniently be Mum and Dad, which broke new ground in its distribution model - and distribution models will be a key element of the book.

So that's what I'm busy working on (plus a zombie script that I'll talk about some other time). I've watched a lot of the films I'll be covering and have a stack of DVDs waiting to be seen, and I've been fortunate enough to interview many of the cast and crew over the years. But new material is always welcome, so if you were involved with a British horror film released during that period and can supply interesting memories/opinions (or might be able to bung a screener of an obscure title my way) then please get in touch.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Richard Gordon and The Ask return to Manchester

This year's Festival of Fantastic Films looks set to be one of the best because there are some wonderful guests lined up. Dear old Richard Gordon (whom I interviewed for Video Watchdog many years ago) was a regular attendee but had had to miss the last few Festivals. This year, he's flying over from New York and will be signing copies of Tom Weaver's new book about his work.

And - The Ask is back! Robin Askwith (who worked with Richard on Tower of Evil and Horror Hospital) was the life of the party when he attended a few years ago and should be just as much fun this time.

Plus - Norman J Warren! David McGillivray! Darren Nesbitt! Derek Fowlds! Renee Glynne! CP Lee! Johnny Legend!

The festival runs 21st-23rd October in Manchester. See you there!