The Night of the Virgin (2016)

Nico, a naive 20yr old man, sets out on New Year’s Eve to lose his virginity. He comes across a mature woman called Medea, who invites him back to her apartment. What follows is a night Nico will never forget….if he lives to remember it.

From the big lettered opening title, this has a real late 80’s midnight movie feel to it. It doesn’t take long for the craziness to start and once it does, it doesn’t let up. I’ve heard a few liken this to early Peter Jackson’s work, and I am inclined to agree. Blood and other bodily fluids hit the screen with wild abandon.

Javier Bódalo who plays Nico has a great geeky quality that makes you root for him and will him to survive. He’s like a Spanish McLovin, someone who has a exudes an inner confidence that his outer appearance doesn’t live up to.

Destined for cult status, The Night of the Virgin is a great gore filled horror to watch on a Friday night, post pub and pre takeaway. Its one I definitely recommend.

4/5

JM

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Pyewacket (2017)

Pyewacket stars Nicole Munoz as Leah, a teenage girl frustrated at her life after her mother decides to uproot and move out into the countryside. In an act of desperation, Leah summons a demon called Pyewacket to kill her mother, however later has a change of heart. But Pyewacket has already been summoned, and it won’t go away empty handed.

Superbly crafted and dripping with tension, Pyewacket is a slow burner. Time is taken to get to know each of the characters, and to understand Leah’s frustration at being separated from her friends and been taken out of her comfort zone. It also shows that if you do believe in black magic and the occult, then you really shouldn’t take it lightly and should always be careful what you wish for.

Leah and her friends feel like real people, still in that moody teenager phase and treating black magic as a novelty. Leah’s petulant reaction over having to move house also seems like something a typical teenager would do. Nothing ever feels cliche or run of the mill. It’s refreshing to watch a horror movie that is true horror, and treats the audience with respect, rather than resorting to cheap jump scares and the like.

The final third is very impressive, and whilst the horror is stepped up, it never loses its identity and caves to typical horror tropes. The ending will be talked about for a long time. A horror movie that is genuine terror all the way through and teaches you to never mess with things you don’t understand.

4/5

JM

Frightfest interview with Barbara Crampton 

Ahead of her eagerly awaited presence at Horror Channel FrightFest 2017, genre icon, actress & producer BARBARA CRAMPTON talks exclusively about her latest film Replace, battling chronic fatigue syndrome and her passion for supporting new talent.

Q: REPLACE raises questions about beauty, body image and growing older, issues that many feel plague the Hollywood movie industry. What is your view on this subject?

The best movies reflect our inner world, our hopes, our good intentions, trials and our demons. Growing old and the fear of death is endemic to all, not just the movie industry. Just when you begin to figure it out your back aches, your skin starts to wrinkle and you gain weight just by LOOKING at your food. Let’s be frank: Aging sucks! But it also gives you a calendar to get things done. If we had an abundance of time we might be sloths putting off everything and accomplishing nothing. To me the best thing you can do is to live in each moment as successfully as possible. That translates to all areas of your life, personal, career and lifestyle choices. 

I am not immune however to feeling the anxiety of it all and I do believe most of us lack a grace about allowing nature and gravity to happen. We are collectively obsessed with youth and beauty that’s a problem.

Q: Co-writer/director Norbert Keil says he got the idea for Replace after going to hospital for a back operation. Was that something you could empathise with – the feelings of mortality raised when in such a medical environment?

It wasn’t a medical environment that did it for me but rather a chronic illness. I developed chronic fatigue syndrome 12 years ago after a parasite I had went undiagnosed for 9 months. I was literally in bed for 2 years. The worst time of my life. I was confronted with the fear of the termination of my long term health. Some people live with CFS and never recover. The medical community is still baffled by the syndrome. For me it was quite possibly that my immune system was acting in overdrive, first to rid itself of the parasite and then not being able to turn itself off when the parasite was eradicated. One doctor saved me. Per his instructions I had to become a model patient and test every part of my being: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. I worked on every system to lubricate every aspect. I actually healed things I didn’t realize needed work. Finally my body calmed down and recovered. At one point though, when I was at my lowest, I thought, “Is this it? I haven’t done enough yet!” After I was better, that’s when I started working harder on everything, including my appreciation for being here.


Q: Doctor Rafaela Crober was a part originally written for a man, so what if anything changed in the script to accommodate your feminine side?  

Not too much. A few pieces of dialogue here and there. Science is not male or female and the quest for longevity, which is really what Dr. Crober is interested in, transcends gender.

Q: You’ve said you wanted to play Doctor Crober as someone in full control, can you elaborate?

Crober is playing with science too, albeit for different reasons than Kira, her patient. She has to be so sure of herself and where she thinks the journey will take mankind to pursue such lofty goals. Saying more would give too much away if you haven’t seen the film.


Q: Richard Stanley was a co-writer on Replace. Were you familiar with his work and reputation and did he attend the shooting?

Of course, his reputation is legendary. Richard is a fascinating visionary, an artist. He got a very raw deal on The Island of Dr. Moreau. Fortunately people in the industry realize this and he has some great opportunities coming up. Long overdue. 

Q: Replace is such a visually stunning movie with a very precise look. How does seeing that magic happening around you colour your performance? 

To be honest I did not visualize the movie as it was (in the finished film) while on set. I had a picture in my mind when I read the script that was very subjective to my character. The visuals blew me away when I saw the final finished film. It makes sense though I think, that the visuals are so beautiful and striking, as the movie is from the mind of protagonist Kira. She’s looking for beauty to support the needs of her soul.


Q: The film has an early David Cronenberg feel, did director Norbert Keil discuss any body horror influences or inspirations with you? 

Cronenberg was a very direct influence. And I think the themes of Richard’s work on The Island of Dr. Moreau.

Q: You have now been a guest at many of the world’s fantasy festivals. And this is your second time at FrightFest. Why are these events so important and what makes FrightFest stand out?

I am so grateful to back in the film community and to be fortunate enough to travel to Fests where audiences support and love genre cinema. We are in a transitional period though I believe and festivals for film are one of the only things keeping us alive, supporting new film makers. Film fests are sometimes your only theatrical release so it is of great importance to have your film shown at one that audiences will hopefully love and a distribution company will hopefully buy. FrightFest has a very saavy audience and a very vocal one. You want people to cheer for you and have journalists write a nice review to get distribution companies to make you an offer! 


Q: You’re more prolific in the genre than ever. You had four movies showing at FrightFest in 2015 and you have another four in post-production. You are clearly enjoying it more this time around? 

I’m having a ball really while enjoying the work in a way I never did before. I’m much more relaxed about my place in the business and I enjoy helping others realize the same dreams I had at a young age. I am invested in each project I work on even if I’m not involved in a producer capacity. I want to help others create the best film they possibly can.

Q: You’ve chosen to be a mentor for FrightFest & MPI Media’s NEW BLOOD Initiative. Is supporting new genre writers an important mission for you?

I am passionate about having the best script possible to begin the journey to creating a film. I do think that too many times the script isn’t as good as it could be and “people” forgive themselves too soon about that and forge ahead with submitting a script or filming without being completely ready. The script is your foundation, spend lots of time on it. I love writers. They have the capacity for insight and understanding of human nature, of people’s vulnerabilities, strengths and desires. When I read a great script with characters I care about, I fall in love with the writer a little bit.

I feel I can help a lot with the development process of a screenplay. Character is story and story is character. The journey that an actor will take in the story is something I am very familiar with and have worked on a lot. The script is the very first thing you begin with, so let’s get that right first. Then we can discuss the importance of making a great first impression with your freshman effort if you want to direct it as well. It used to be that you made a film and people in charge would see “promise” in you and you’d be able to move on to your next movie. That’s becoming harder and harder for a lot of reasons. Make the best damn first film you can.

My friend, esteemed journalist and film critic, Steve Prokopy said to me recently, “20% of all movies are truly great or really awful. The rest exist in a grey zone of average, above average or below average.”  What kind of movie do you want people to say you’ve made? Impressions are important on a first date and a first movie.


Q: You’re increasingly becoming involved in films as a producer. Do you feel this is a natural progression in your career?

At this point in my life and career it depends on the project. If I really love something I’ll want to work on it. For me a story needs a strong narrative with an emotional core. That’s what my sensibilities are attracted to. I really love acting and I do enjoy helping others realize their dream.

Q: Finally, what’s next?

I have two projects that I’m actively working on to produce. One, I may have an acting part in as well. There are also a few movies which I shot in the last two years or so as an actor only and they are still in various stages of post-production. Hopefully I’ll be seeing you next year on the fest circuit with one of those!

 

REPLACE receives its UK Premiere on Sunday 27 Aug, 3.30pm at The Prince Charles Cinema, Leicester Square, as part of Horror Channel FrightFest 2017. Barbara is also a mentor for the FrightFest / MPI Media UK script writing talent search NEW BLOOD.

 

 

The Audi and the Alien

The Moonrover Audi Lunar Quattro celebrates its film debut in Ridley Scott’s sci-fi blockbuster “Alien: Covenant” this week, ahead of its impending mission to the Moon next year.

The Audi lunar Quattro has been developed in cooperation with Berlin-based start-up Part-Time Scientists. Over the past two years, the automobile manufacturer has worked with a team led by Robert Böhme – founder and CEO of Part-Time Scientists – in developing the rover, by supplying all-wheel drive technology, expertise in lightweight construction, experience in developing vehicles with electric and plug-in hybrid motors (e-tron), and with design optimization.

Director Ridley Scott has integrated the Audi lunar quattro into “Alien: Covenant,“ the latest instalment of his ground-breaking “Alien” franchise. In its film debut, the rover is an integral part of the Covenant mission; deployed to help navigate and assess the challenging, unknown terrain of a new planet.

Incorporating the Audi lunar quattro into the film is part of a collaboration between Twentieth Century Fox and Audi – allowing filmmakers to incorporate authentic, leading-edge technology into their futuristic worlds. As part of the collaboration, a short film was also created by Twentieth Century Fox, 3AM and Audi. Captured on one of the movie’s biggest sets, it depicts the rover patrolling the Terraforming Bay when it detects an unidentified lifeform and goes to investigate what lurks in the dark. 

Watch “Alien: Covenant x Audi lunar quattro” here: http://youtu.be/5fEmCnSt gac

Check out the Audi Rover in some new footage from ‘Alien: Covenant’ via the link below:


 Additional information:

The Audi lunar quattro is 85% aluminium
The majority of its components have been produced using a 3D printing method at Audi’s headquarters in Ingolstadt

High-strength lightweight construction has resulted in developers reducing the weight of the exploration vehicle by 23% to just 30kgs

A 60-degree pivoting 100W solar panel supplies the rover with energy and powers its efficient e-tron motor

For more on the story of the Audi lunar quattro’s origins visit http://www.audi.com/mission

Jonathan McEvoy 

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016)

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We can thank writer Seth Grahame-Smith for mashing up Jane Austen’s classic ‘Pride and Prejudice’ with the undead. It’s something that shouldn’t really work, as it’s two wildly different ideas being melded together. That said, it does work, and work quite well.

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The story really is just the standard tale of love between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, with hordes of the shuffling undead thrown in. Lily James is fantastic as Elizabeth, really getting into the fights, with the dashing Sam Riley playing Mr. Darcy, fighting by her side. Director Burr Steers said that most people couldn’t really figure out how to film the movie as they weren’t sure what direction to take it in. Burr Steers said he took the job because he was just going to film it like he would if it didn’t have zombies in it. Everyone plays it so straight and it makes it a very funny movie because of it.

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The gore is not bad, not as gory as I was expecting, considering we have flesh eating zombies on the prowl. The fight choreography is very well put together, and everybody seems to be throwing themselves into their roles. The supporting cast of Lena Headey, Charles Dance, Jack Huston and even Doctor Who actor Matt Smith are all cast brilliantly in their respective roles.

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The film does lag in the third act, which I was a little disappointed about, as that is exactly when it should be firing on all cylinders. The movie is released on Blu Ray and DVD on 27th June.

3/5

JM

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Manhattan Baby (1982)


When an archaeologist, Dr. George Hacker (Christopher Connelly) opens a tomb in Egypt, he unleashes an evil spirit which latches onto his young daughter. Upon the family’s arrival in New York, a series of grisly murders and strange occurrences begin to take place. 

An amulet which is give to the young girl may hold the secret to the identity of the spirit and how the family can free themselves from its clutches. This is certainly a strange movie, and it looks very dated. The effects are certainly ropey in places, which I believe was down to the production company not getting all of the budget they requested. 


Lucio Fulci had a good few movies out during the 80’s and a lot of them are cult classics like The Beyond, The New York Ripper and Zombie Flesh Eaters to name but a few. Sadly this is not up there with his greatest hits. That’s not to say it isn’t entertaining, because it is, but it’s just not as memorable. It’s nice to see Lucio Fulci use proper locations to tell the story, rather than wooden sets, and the cast give 100% in every scene.   

There is some decent gore on offer, one place where Fulci has always delivered in my humble opinion. I did notice that it stars that annoying blonde kid from Fulci’s other great horror ‘The House by the Cemetery’, and he has an encounter with some scorpions which was hilarious to watch. There is a lot to like about these Italian horrors though. I love the dodgy dubbing over each actors original voice, and the hammy acting on display always makes things fun to watch. The effects are fun too, like the dodgy stuffed birds dangling on wires. 


Manhattan Baby is certainly worth a watch for fans of Lucio Fulci’s work, but it’s sure to divide those that love his other movies. Manhattan Baby is available now on DVD from the fine folks over at Shameless Screen Entertainment:

http://www.shameless-films.com/shop/Manhattan-Baby.html

3/5

JM

Rat Man (1988)

  
When a pretty model is found dead on an island, her body mutilated, an investigation begins in to just what happened. The deceased model’s sister arrives with a mystery novel writer (David Warbeck), to try and figure out what was the cause of her sisters murder. The duo discover that the explanation is far more bizarre than they ever could have realised. 

A scientist has created a rat/monkey hybrid, for reasons unknown, though he does mention a Nobel peace prize at one point. The hybrid played by Nelson de la Rosa (The Island of Dr. Moreau), has developed murderous tendencies and decides he doesn’t like being caged up anymore. 

  
This movie is straight up trash and I loved it. I’ve always had a soft spot for David Warbeck as he’s always given 100% no matter what the role or how strange the movie is. He kind of downplays it a tad here, but he’s still the sort of hero he played in The Beyond. The plot dithers about and feels patchy and incoherent in places, but I feel it adds to the charm. I mean when the tag line reads ‘He’s the critter from the shitter’ I think it’s safe to say you know what sort of movie you’re getting. 

  
Nelson de la Rosa seems to enjoy his role as the carnivorous Rat Man, particularly as he gets close to some scantily clad women, and if you’ve seen the documentary about the making of ‘The Island of Dr. Moreau’ then you know he’s quite fond of the ladies. 

    

The acting is atrocious in places, but if you’re a fan of trashy movies then that really won’t be an issue to you. These sort of horror movies have never really attempted to wow you with their acting, preferring to throw blood and naked women in your direction instead and hope that it keeps your attention. Fans of cheap Italian horror will find a lot to like here, and David Warbeck is always good value. The supporting cast are not the best, but they make do. 

  
Shameless Screen Entertainment have released the movie uncut for the first time ever in the U.K, and the film is presented in 16.9 anamorphic widescreen. The film is available to purchase now directly from the Shameless website via the following link:

http://www.shameless-films.com/shop/Ratman.html

I’d like to thank Shameless for providing me with the movie for review. 

3/5

JM

  

Stung (2015)

  
Julie (Jessica Cook) and Paul (Matt O’Leary) are on their way out to the American countryside to cater a fancy party. However things take a turn for the sinister when a wasp nest is disturbed and the partygoers are set upon by giant mutated wasps. 

  
The wasps tear through the party, forcing some to retreat to the house in a desperate fight for their lives. Lance Henriksen plays the Mayor, Carruthers and the home owner is played by Clifton Collins Jr. The practical effects and gore are done very well. There is mild CGI, but this is a film that understands its core audience and also pays homage to the horror films of the 80’s, so the CGI is used sparingly and mainly just to show the wasps flying. 

  
More of a horror comedy, than a straight horror, there are some laugh out loud moments, particularly from Henriksen who seems to be enjoying himself. Some may recognise Matt O’Leary from another one of my favourite horrors ‘Frailty’. He plays the part of the reluctant hero quite well, and throws himself into the role. Jessica Cook is okay, but just feels like the generic damsel in distress, despite the films best efforts to make her appear otherwise. Clifton Collins Jr. is great as the hunchbacked Sydney, the homeowner with a dark secret. He seems to be able to slip into any role with ease and I’m always pleased to see him on screen. 

  
Lovers of old school horror comedy will find plenty to like here, however it’s not hard to see why this has gone straight to DVD here in the UK, as it lacks in places. That said I still recommend you give it a watch as it’s perfect beer and pizza entertainment. This copy of Stung was generously provided by the folks over at http://www.fetch.fm, and is available to pre order now with a release of October 26th….just in time for Halloween. 

  

3/5

JM

The Voices (2014)

  
Jerry (Ryan Reynolds) lives alone with his dog called Bosco and his cat, Mr. Whiskers. He works in a factory that makes bathroom products and makes regular visits to a psychiatrist whom he tells his problems to, and Jerry has problems. Jerry hears voices, his cat and dog speak to him on a daily basis, but Jerry tries to get on with his life without that affecting him. 

  
When Jerry meets Fiona (Gemma Arterton) at the office party, he thinks he may finally have a chance at normality. However when Fiona stands Jerry up after they make a date, things take a turn for the sinister and slightly bizarre. 

  
My problem with The Voices is it tries to balance horror and comedy, but fails miserably. Its wild shift in tones make it hard to enjoy, and the film doesn’t really flow. Where films like Shaun of the Dead managed to seamlessly mix horror and comedy, The Voices jumps between the two rather than have them work harmoniously. Ryan Reynolds is good in the role of Jerry, and also in doing the voices of Bosco and Mr. Whiskers, but the film just can’t recover. 

  
The film tries to show mental illness in a realistic light on occasion, but the comedic tone undoes any hard hitting effect of the seriousness that we are presented with. We see what Jerry’s apartment looks like when he’s off the pills (clean), and what it looks like when he’s on them (blood soaked and excrement filled), but it’s so cackhanded that it hurts the movie. The Voices is available to purchase now from http://www.arrowfilms.co.uk. 

  
2/5

JM

Voices of the Damned (2015)

  
When I read ‘The Venus Complex’ by Barbie Wilde, I was enthralled. It was magnificent in every way, and I knew then that the literary and horror fiction world in general, truly had someone special on their hands. So you can probably imagine my glee when I was offered the chance to review Barbie Wilde’s new work, the brilliant short story collection ‘Voices of the Damned’. The opening story is erotically charged and bristling with descriptions of violence, that those who’ve read Barbie’s previous work will have come to expect. 

   

Hellraiser fans will be happy to discover that the ‘Female Cenobite’ actually has a name and a past which is given great detail in this book. It really is an experience worth having, and those of you with a love of horror, violence and the odd dash of erotica will find much to like here.

 

Dotted between each story are pieces of exquisite artwork from folks such as Clive Barker, Nick Percival, Eric Gross and Steve McGinnis, plus a few others. I found myself studying each piece before pressing on with the story and they really do capture the essence of the horrors Barbie Wilde manages to put down on paper.  ‘Voices of the Damned’ is released on October 31st 2015 and is available for preorder now via this link: 

https://www.sstpublications.co.uk/Voices-of-the-Damned.php

*Update* Barbie Wilde has informed me that there’ll be two editions available of Voices of the Damned. A standard hardback release and a deluxe edition. Both will be available via Amazon on 31st October. However, if you order directly from the link above, you will get a free book will all of the artwork inside. Now that’s great news. 
  
5/5

JM