Tuesday, 31 December 2013

You MUST Know What I Think! Worst of 2013

We’ve had the best, now for the worst. Dun dun dun!

5. Elysium
Matt Damon stars in the film that logic forgot. Oh, action and excitement forgot it too. I just wish I could… The trailers and images released beforehand seemed to promise something different, but instead we have a District 9 rehash with a slap-in-the-face message and clear morals, except when they need to be discarded to further the inane plot. I wanted to like this one, but it is easily one of the worst sci fis I have seen in a long time.

4. The World’s End
The end of the Cornetto Trilogy and I’m afraid I didn’t like it. Now, I wasn’t a big fan of Shaun of the Dead initially either, so time might tell with this one, but the film was in 2 halves, and the second half lost most of what was strong in the first in its struggles with body snatching aliens. There are glimmers of a good and smart movie here, but too much ‘ah here, isn’t this just ridiculous?’ moments ruin it all. Mind you, it might be more aimed at an older crowd.

3. Insidious Chapter 2
For someone who was sceptical of both the first Insidious instalment and director James Wan’s The Conjuring, I was finally prepared to trust him with a horror film. Bad choice. Insidious Chapter 2 picks up from where the previous film ended, and then proceeds to re-enact all the bets bits from the first film and forcing plot in to try hang it all together.  A tough film to take seriously and a major disappointment, but it does follow in Insidious’ habit of taking cues from thePoltergeist films, since both series started with straightforward films that were followed by sequels that pounded on unnecessary plot details.

2. Para Elisa
Beautiful looking, could have been a great satire. Became awful and cliché and I developed a hatred out of my disappointment. Read more here.

1. Frankenstein’s Army
Ugh… Found footage during WW2… A film about a madman making monsters to fight for the Nazi’s shouldn’t be this awful, but it truly is. You will scratch you head as characters leave themselves in danger's way constantly, or why they disband, or don’t stop the madman, or act like an army unit, or why the monsters look like Mighty Morphing Power Rangers rejects. The entire film is a bit like watching someone play Doom, except more difficult to make out, and with no scares. There is a lot to hate about this film, and very little to like. I saw this one at Frightfest and the entire crowd felt my pain. We were so ready for it to end, and then it hit the home stretch and… didn’t end. If you thought Return of the King had a long ending at least that had several of them. This has one long and pointless end section where nothing of intrigue or real excitement happens. One of the worst films I have seen in a long time, low budget indie fare included, and also one of the most disappointing. Seriously, a name like Frankenstein’s Army, half the work is done for you!

And there you have it. What do you think? Did I get it right or did I bash you favourites of the year? Let me know!

Don’t forget to check out my best of 2013 here.

You MUST Know What I Think! Best of 2013

It’s that time of year again where everyone throws out their best and worst lists, and hey, it’s not like I totally fell off the wagon and haven’t published anything in months (uh-oh…). So, here is my best and worst of 2013. I’ll keep it brief, and unlike other years, I will forcibly limit myself to just a top 12 best and 5 worse, because isn’t 17 a lovely number to have everything add up to? Ok, I admit it; I tried just a top 10, but had too much trouble.

Some honourable mentions must go out first. Warm Bodies surpassed any expectations of being Twilight-with-zombies and actually turned out to be funny and heartfelt, marking it as a surprise favourite with many. The big budget horrors of Texas Chainsaw 3D and Mama, though bloated and watered down by committee, are still enjoyable romps that define popcorn entertainment. The many great superhero films including Thor: The Dark World, The Wolverine, Man of Steel and Iron Man 3 were welcomed to the screens. Some people will argue how good they actually are and compare them to The Dark Knight, which set unrealistically high standards. I find myself watching all these films thanking my lucky stars and knowing that when I was a kid, I could barely dream of a day that films like these would actually exist. V/H/S 2 completely smoked the first instalment of the found footage anthology, with the Safe Haven segment being particularly strong. White House Down was Die Hard in the same year the latest official Die Hard sucked balls hard. Gravity, of course, is so many people’s number one choice of the year. My first impression was good but not great. I may change my tune on rewatching, but for now, it will have to handle being an honourable mention.

12. Evil Dead
The remake of Sam Raimi’s cult classic is flawed and stupid, but these films never were about being masterpieces. What it lost in humour and innovation, it gains back in gut-wrenching gore and an easy going plot.

11. This is the End
Seth Rogan and his usual suspects got to make an end-of-the-world movie where they reference their favourite horror movies, and kill Michael Cera. Plenty of laughs and though it falls in to predictability towards the end, has plenty of aces up its hole in the scares department, unusual, considering it is more easy to class as a stoner comedy.

10. Oblivion
Joseph ‘Tron Legacy’ Kosinski brings a Mad Max meets Star Trek world to life with Tom Cruise. None of this sounds too amazing, but once you get over the films slow pace, there is a real touching story of humanity and its struggle with its own worth in the face of an alien invasion that comes not with a bang, but a whimper. Morgan Freeman and an insanely great score by M83 add to the mix.

9. Willow Creek
A found footage film about Bigfoot by Bobcat Goldthwait (AKA the guy with the oddly pitched voice in Police Academy). Lucky enough to see this with a very receptive crowd at a late night screening at Frightfest, the film is built on lovable characters that are easily relatable, and a situation instantly recognisable. The scares are few and far between, but once they hit, you won’t care. This one joins Troll Hunter as an instant cult classic.

8. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
It’s like Battle Royale meets 1984 with a bit of The Matrix thrown in. Hard to hate, very easy to love.

7. World War Z
Stupid but epic. The sheer scale of the zombie attacks on display in this Brad Pitt vehicle are mind-blowing and had me, a hardened and bitter zombie fan, on the edge of my seat. The last act, in Wales, nonetheless, is a bad reflection on the palpitation-inducing action previous.

6. Maniac
All shot from Elijah Wood’s POV, this remake is Hannibal in the Drive universe. Apart from the shoehorned-in moments of the star looking at mirrors to remind us of who he is, the film does an excellent job at putting us in a madman’s head. You will come away from this one feeling dirty. Recommended, of course.

5. You’re Next
The trailer to this film does it no justice, and you should go watch it immediately (or when it is released on DVD in the new year) with no further prepping. A home invasion movie, You’re Next caught me off guard with its cleverness and level of engagement. A group film if there ever was one, though be prepared to completely disagree with that statement for the first 20 minutes or so.

4. The Conjuring
I was initially disappointed with James Wan’s latest horror, finding it didn’t live up to the high promise of the trailers and the buzz everyone was giving it, but it has stuck in my head as one I want to revisit, and I know I can show it to friend who want a scare but something accessible. In hindsight, though not as great as advertised by many, it is more superior and enjoyable than Insidious, which was a decent horror flick too (and it ‘borrows’just as much from Poltergeist).

3. Stoker
A gorgeous film with gorgeous set pieces set against a gorgeous backdrop with gorgeous music and gorgeously acted. This is a gorgeous film, is what I’m trying to say. Don’t half way watch, since you would be doing it a disservice. Try set aside time to just envelop this moving art.

2. Lords of Salem
I have ranted and raved about this film plenty of times before. It is still great, even after far too many viewings.

1. Curse of Chucky
And here we are at number one. And it is a sequel. A direct-to-DVD one at that. Can you believe it? Well, you should, since Curse of Chucky breathed new life in to a series that I personally don’t think had run out of steam, though had gone away from straight horror roots. This instalment brings things back to a gothic setting by having the killer doll being sent to an isolated house where a paraplegic (Fiona Dourif) and her family mourn and try settle the affairs of their recently deceased mother (see: killer doll). Maintaining plenty of humour that the series has built itself on, and with enough tension to throw at a cat (people do that, right?), the film had plenty of opportunity to be a major disappointment or to tread the same old ground, but instead, was a shockingly successful performance. Easy to watch (and jump to) for everyone, with some extra titbits thrown in for the fans.

Whew, and that was me trying to keep it short! Do you agree with my views? Did I miss anything, or is there something that I should have deleted? Let me know. Don’t forget to check out my worst of!

Happy New Year!

Sunday, 27 October 2013

The United Monster Talent Agency

I am late to the game on this one, but delighted I found it in time for Halloween. From KNB makeup effects maestro Greg Nicotero comes The United Monster Talent Agency; a short film love letter to all the classic horror movie monster of yore. Presented as an old-timey newsreel, all the familiar faces are here, from Dracula to Frankenstein's Monster to the Creature From The Black Lagoon, and some familiar non-monsters too, including the gleeful Eli Roth, Frank Darabont and Robert Rodriguez. 

I only just heard about this film while watching the fascinating documentary Nightmare Factory (essentially a biography of Greg Nicotero), which also deserves ample viewing, but for now, in the spirit of the season, sit back and have a giggle and a smile with The United Monster Talent Agency.

The United Monster Talent Agency from Generate on Vimeo.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Horror Lives! Episode 8, Where We Have Underage Sex And Do Drugs In The Forest And Are Generally Reckless

We told you we'd be back! The new episode of Horror Lives! is live right HERE, and in this more manageable length podcast, in honour of the upcoming comprehensive Friday The 13th documentary Crystal Lake Memories and Joey's recent writings for UK Horror Scene's Slasher Month, we (not literally) smoke the pot, have the underage sex, say 'I'll be right back' and look at slasher films, from Psycho all the way to Scream 4 (with many pit stops and tangents along the way). 

So, please, join us for a lively and unnecessarily bantery episode that moves along faster than a teen been chased by a machete-wielding psycho. An exceptionally great way in for those who have are looking to get their feet wet with slasher films.

I'll be right back...

Like what you hear? Please follow us. We're all over the gaff.
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Aaaand iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/ie/podcast/horror-lives/id658819557

Saturday, 10 August 2013

The O'Briens Update: Pre-Order The Film NOW and Premiere News

Some of you might have seen this on Facebook or Twitter already, but there is big news regarding my feature film directorial debut, The O'Briens. 

Not a horror, but a romcom (though depending on your film preferences, that can be pretty horrific), The O'Briens is about a widower father calling his grown-up children back from their lives around the world to their home in Galway, where he has some news that will shock and change their lives forever.

First off, the film is complete and we are currently doing pre-orders for the film right HERE. For $10, you can get your own digital copy of the film, and for $30, you can get an exclusive DVD copy of the film with a bonus disc containing Nicky Royston's brilliant score to the film (by fuck, we worked hard on it!). For other amounts, you can get different loverly perks, including signed posters, name in the credits, or face time with the stars. So, yeah, plenty there to ponder on.

As you will see, that link is to an IndieGoGo page. 'What's the deal, huh? I thought you said it was finished?' you throw at me. It is, and it even had a VERY successful premiere at the Newport Beach Film Festival in America, where is won Outstanding Achievement in Filmmaking. What is happening now is that we are gearing up for the Irish release, and have some very big plans in the works to get the film released to the public in a VERY accessible way (sorry, I have to be a little vague), and what comes with this plan is that we need capital to do the DVD print run. You out all that together and you get the goal on our IndieGoGo page. It is a flexi-funding campaign, so whatever we raise will be kept by us (minus IndieGoGo's fees) and put back in to the film's release. Even if we don't reach the goal, we will of course be fulfilling the perks, and put anything else remaining back in to getting the release done. It might seem like a high goal, but a lot of people can tell you, we are looking at the bare minimum to get the film out to you (and by God, do we want to get it out to you!).

So, please, if you are a kind-hearted person, take a look at the IndieGoGo for The O'Briens and contribute if you can, and spread the word! I want my first feature film to be seen by as many people as possible!

Speaking of seeing the film, we are also finally having the Irish premiere! Taking place on September 19th in the very fancy Eye Cinema in Galway (where Ally and I saw the Irish premiere for Toy Story 3 a couple years back), the premiere will include many of the cast and crew in attendance, as well as some other possible special guests. If you go to THIS LINK, you will find a way to pre-book tickets, should you be so inclined (which you should). You will also see there is the standard screening with a Q&A (anyone who has heard me on the podcast knows I can run my mouth off), and there is also a very special VIP package, which includes a fantastic-sounding afterparty, including performances by many bands (including Roisin O, who I was delighted to get in the film's soundtrack).

Hey, there aren't many better ways to spend a Thursday in Galway. Especially not September 19th!

While you take that all in, please enjoy the trailer for our film, and I hope to see you on the pre-order page, or else in person at the premiere!

Find The O'Briens on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/TheOBriensMovie
And on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/TheOBriensmovie

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Arrow Video to Unleash Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 in Glorious Special Edition

The Arrow Video folks have done it again. One of the few remaining distributors that actually care about putting out good home video releases have set their sights on one that it is shocking has taken this long to finally be released as a special edition in the UK/Ireland; The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. Though released on DVD here before, the special edition from America never made it over to us here. Until now, that is. And even better, this is going to be a beautiful Blu-Ray, and Arrow never skimp on their Blu-Rays. 3 discs. That's enough to get anyone's chainsaw revving. 

The first disc in the release seems to be pretty much a straight port of the US release and it's features, which I reviewed in depth HERE (and wasn't exactly crazy for). The main attraction with this release is the inclusion of director Tobe Hooper's first feature film, Eggshells, and a short, The Heisters, as well as some other Arrow Vid unique features. It'll be lovely to finally see Hooper's early work, and realised in such a loving manner.

Expect this one to be released in the UK/Ireland on October 14.

Here's the current list of features, as released on the Arrow Video website:


-High Definition digital transfers of three Tobe Hooper films
-Original uncompressed audio tracks for all films
-Limited Edition Packaging, newly illustrated by Justin Erickson
-Individually Numbered #/10,000 Certificate
-Exclusive Limited Edition Extras

-High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation from a digital transfer supervised by Director of Photography Richard Kooris
-Optional English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
-Audio commentary with director and co-writer Tobe Hooper, moderated by David Gregory
-Audio commentary with stars Bill Moseley, Caroline Williams and special-effects legend Tom Savini, moderated by Michael Felsher
-“It Runs in the Family” – A documentary looking at the genesis, making-of and enduring appeal of Hooper’s film. With interviews including star Bill Johnson, co-writer L. M. Kit Carson, Richard Kooris, Bill Moseley, Caroline Williams, Tom Savini, Production Designer Cary White and more!
-Alternate Opening sequence with different musical score
-Deleted scenes
-“Still Feelin' the Buzz” - Interview with horror expert Stephen Thrower, author of Nightmare USA
-Original Trailer

-High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition (DVD) presentation of two of Tobe Hooper’s early works, available on home video for the first time in the world
-The Heisters (1964) Tobe Hooper’s early short film restored in HD from original elements [10 mins]
-Eggshells (1969) Tobe Hooper’s debut feature restored in HD from original elements [90 mins]
-Audio Commentary on Eggshells by Tobe Hooper
-In Conversation with Tobe Hooper - The legendary horror director speaks about his career from Eggshells to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2.
-Trailer Reel of all the major works by Tobe Hooper

-Exclusive perfect bound book featuring new writing on the film by John Kenneth Muir, an overview of the Chainsaw franchise by Joel Harley and an investigation of Tobe Hooper’s three-picture Cannon deal by Calum Waddell, illustrated with archive stills and posters with more to be announced!

All The Love You Cannes

Once again, I am a major sucker for Troma, and the always candid behind-the-scenes documentaries are always nothing short of entertaining. It's not just what goes on in a Troma documentary that is captivating, but with how open and willing Lloyd Kaufman and co are to look bad for the sake of authenticity. It can't help but make me respect Troma on another level entirely.

First up, All The Love You Cannes, where we follow the Troma team at the 2001 installment of the reputable French film festival, and the chaos and anarchy that goes on trying to market and sell their indie films when up against the likes of Warner Bros.

Next, there is a bit of context needed. It all starts with Tales From The Crapper, a bizarre film in the Troma canon. Shot digitally, the film is notorious for producer India Allen delivering a below-par film while using all the budget and the inadequate reshoots and extended editing period that followed to try make some sense out of what was salvageable. Kaufman has been very public in his condemnation of what was initially shot, and the tie-in documentary The Thick Brown Line focuses on the reshoot from hell coupled with his own thoughts on what went wrong and where he was to blame. 

It's interesting in that it features a scene where Troma members make fun of Wes Craven for donating $100 to the production while he was in the building (which I think they are wrong to do. It's not like the guy carries wads of cash on him!):

These videos are taken from Troma's YouTube channel, where an extensive selection of their back catalogue is available FOR FREE. Use it or lose it, folks.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

All The Cannibal Holocaust You Can

My latest review has gone live on Gorepress, and it is for the grandaddy of them all; CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST. I have written about the infamous video nasty a few times before, but restrained myself to a hopefully articulated review for people who know nothing about the most banned film of all time. Please check it out and comment and share and the sorts. 

To try and get the last residuals of Ruggero Deodato's film from my system, I have decided to share some of the fantastic DVD cover art from around the world that I came across on my travels. There is some colourful and lovely stuff included below, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. If you google the film, you will find all manners of incredible poster and VHS artwork. Consider this your gateway drug.


The original GO Video classic cover.


Grindhouse's definitive US release 
(although it has a rubbish cover)

Siren Visual Entertainment's Australian release, pretty much 
identical to the Grindhouse release, except classier cover art.


EC Entertainment bring the love to Holland with some lovely artwork,
including my favourite; the skull.


The Blu-Ray isn't very pretty, but the other art is interesting.

My first copy of Cannibal Holocaust, and still one of
the best cover arts out there.

A trio of steelbooks. Oh, the colour!


The first non-English title, and some art
that's either lovely and dark, or cheap. I can't decide.

Definitely cheap looking, but eye-catching.

Not sure where this is from (someone please confirm,
if you can!), but had to include it. The art seems
to be unique to the release (and possibly not even from
Cannibal Holocaust).

VIPCO's infamously butchered and shoddy releases, though
they get brownie points for including House on the Edge of the Park
as a bonus feature.

The current official UK release by Shameless, with reversible
artwork that harkens back to the best designs.

Some bizarre multi-disc release with soundtrack and
gorgeous figurine. Not sure where it's from or it's
availability (apparently Austria and ridiculously limited), 
but I love it. I'll take this over your
6-disc Blade Runner set any day!

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Horror Lives! Episode 7, where ice smells...


And this time, it is with a vengeance. A 3 hour vengeance! Yup, the new Horror Lives! podcast is up, and in this one, we hit up Pacific Rim, A Field In England and World War Z, because sometimes we are relevent. Then we go deep into the Frightfest line-up, where we give opinions (wanted or not) on EVERY film that will play, since Joey and I shall be brave adventurers and be attending the greatest horror film festival in the world. It's a long one, but by fuck is it not boring.

So, CLICK HERE to check out our Podomatic page, or click the embed below, and see the links at the bottom of the page for our iTunes and Twitter etc etc.

Like what you hear? Please follow us. We're all over the gaff.
Facebook? We got it here: www.facebook.com/HorrorLives
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Aaaand iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/ie/podcast/horror-lives/id658819557

An Irish Exorcism has a new trailer

You may not know much about this one yet. An Irish Exorcism is a found footage horror film featuring a lot of the cast and crew from my own feature (which, incidentally is taking preorders for DVDs, pimp pimp!), which IMDb summarises with: THE EXORCISM DIARY (the original title that they traded up from) is a story about an Exorcism carried out in a country house in Ireland. The tale deals with the effects of the Exorcism on the six individuals involved, two Priests, two students documenting the event, and a mother and daughter. 

Here be the trailer:

An Irish Exorcism Trailer 2 from Frame It Productions on Vimeo.

Joey, Ally and myself attended the premiere in Kildare awhile ago, full cast and crew in attendance. The film stars many Irish regulars including Brian Fortune and Paddy C. Courtney (an O'Briens alum, I must shamelessly pimp again) and directed by Eric Courtney. I'm not going to say anything about the film yet, but needless to say, there is found footage and there is exorcism, there is tension, and there are jumps. 

More on this when it comes in.

Brian Fortune as Fr. Byrne

Director Eric Courtney

If you look closely, you can see Joey, 
Ally and myself here. It's like Where's Wally?

Producer Richard Kearney

All premiere photos by Michal Okrajek.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Man, That's Good. Or Bad. Or Good-Bad. Or Bad-Good...

This freaked me out more than any horror film...

As we gear up for another podcast this weekend, I wanted to make sure you knew we have a TWO-PARTER out there online for you to enjoy while you hide from the heatwave. That's right, we had so much to say that instead of putting you through a loooooong individual episode, we gave you two equally entertaining parts for you to enjoy at your leisure. But guess what? We won't leave you on a cliff hanger. No, both parts are online RIGHT NOW and boy howdy, do I think you'll dig.

What are our intrepid explorers chatting about in these episodes? The best bad-good films out there today. Or the best good-bad, just tp shake it up. We hit the classics of Lake Placid, Birdemic, and Snakes on a Plane, and because we love to hurt ourselves, look at Jersey Shore Shark Attack, Manos The Hand of Fate and the illegitimate Evil Dead sequel, La Casa 3.

There's almost too much excitement for just 2 podcasts, but we know you can handle it. Check it all out HERE, below, or at iTunes.

Like what you hear? Please follow us. We're all over the gaff.
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Aaaand iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/ie/podcast/horror-lives/id658819557

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Day of the Dead 2: Contagium is...

... a steaming pile of shit. 

This name-only sequel is wretched and should not be viewed by anyone. In fact, they should probably replace the DVD cover with those pictures from cigarette packages, just so everyone is clear that the 'film' (and I use this word lightly) may in fact be hazardous to your health. Don't put yourself through it. Even you masochists out there might find yourself getting in over your head and crying for mummy.

Wikipedia's 'reception' section has this fantastic summary of what reviewers found wrong with it: 'Heavy criticism has also been aimed at the film's acting, special effects, and script'. Dear Ana Clavell, James Glenn Dudelson and Taurus Entertainment, damn you for making this complete mockery of entertainment and taking away time that could have been used for better things, like watching grass grow or paint dry.

Go watch George A. Romero's original Day of the Dead instead. I think we can all agree now it is one of the greatest zombie films ever.