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;; 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.

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)

"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."


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.