Wednesday, 15 December 2010


Directed by Brian Paulin
Morbid Vision Films

I've been wanting to check out something from Morbid Vision for a while now...I see them floating about now and then on the Rue Morgue forums, and they seem like good people. Plus I'm getting a uniformly positive vibe about their movie 'Fetus'.

Thus, fate stepped in (in the form of the Horror channel) and provided me the opportunity to watch the movie which preceded 'Fetus', namely 'Bone Sickness'.

'Bone Sickness' chiefly concerns an unfortunate fellow called Alex, who is suffering from a rare degenerative bone disease. The only thing which seems to offset the disease is for Alex to consume bone marrow. Fortunately, Alex's friend Thomas is a mortician, and a man of highly dubious ethics, and thus has access to lots of freshly-minted cadavers brimming with juicy, succulent bone marrow. What could possibly go wrong, I hear you ask?

Take note, phoney Vegas stage magicians...the old 'Sawing A Woman In Half' trick performed without the aid of any tricked-out box. Beat that!

Without wanting to give too much of the plot away, let's just say that all hell breaks loose, the dead walk the earth, and Alex starts retching up worms and maggots as he begins to transform into something quite inhuman...and in that regard he's not alone!

Cleanse. Tone. Exfoliate. Moisturise. Worms. Because you're worth it.

IMDB estimates the budget at around $3000, and as we all know, IMDB is never wrong. Ever.

It struck me that I've actually watched indie horrors with a budget slightly more than 1000 times (yes, one thousand times that of Bone Sickness, and whilst the money is clearly evident in the technical quality of the finished product, if the filmmakers aren't coming from 'the right place', horror-wise, then all the money in the world ain't gonna make a lick of difference. Look at this way, if you can rack up three stars on IMDB by only spending $3,000 then it suggests to me that with a little extra cash and a touch more experience, Paulin and company could really light it up.

You can't keep a good man down...or a zombie, for that matter.

Sure there are technical faults aplenty, and room for improvement in any department you'd care to mention, but the amount of set-piece moments crammed in here, especially considering the obvious financial limitations, is highly impressive.
In spite of the faults, it's still a movie I could stand to watch a second time. I can't say that for Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen (about an hour too long, if I'm honest) or 2012 (just plain awful).

A lot of the cast could be described as 'not ready for primetime', but you're not watching this film for soulful soliloquys and meaningful monologues, but rather sadistic skullcrushing and malicious maimings, and on that front, 'Bone Sickness' delivers the goods in spades. And hatchets. And just about any sort of blunt-force trauma inducing object that you might care to imagine.

In addition to the gratuitous gore, we also have some gratuitous nudity to balance the proceedings out.

Usually, when Ruby LaRocca is getting eaten in a movie, it's by Darian Caine or Misty Mundae, not Zombies!

Ruby LaRocca is probably familar to any Seduction Cinema devotees lurking amongst our number (it's're amongst friends here!), and bodacious lead actress Darya Zabinski's charms might be best summed up as 'a dead heat in the Zeppelin race'...if you know what I mean!
Some mornings, I just don't feel myself until I feel myself...

There's also one bizarre incidence of pixellation of a girl's genitals, I'm guessing perhaps with an eye on being suitable for the Japanese market?

The Japanese do indeed make some rad DVD covers, it must be said...

My biggest gripe with Bone Sickness is not the technical issues, but rather with structure. After what should be the big finale, we have a couple of other scenes tacked on at the end.

Remember: If Brian Paulin ever suggests that he should 'Pimp Your Ride' for you, it would be well advised to politely decline his kind offer...

There's nothing wrong with the scenes in and of themselves (indeed, the graveyard sequence is a veritable gore tour de force, with a terrific bludgeoning decapitation with the help of a handy headstone!), it's just that
they are devoid of any protagonist the audience can identify with, seeing as just about every character in the film
is slowly working their way through some zombie's digestive tract at this point in the proceedings.

If I'm being picky, he should really be wearing gloves...but who's going to argue with someone pointing a gun at them?

There's also a sequence illustrating the zombie problem spreading to the wider world, and with the forces of humanity clad in biohazard suits, it kind of puts one in the mind of Romero's 'The Crazies',
or other toxic-spill inspired zombie flicks of the Eighties. Again, nothing wrong with it...there's a car stunt, a body burn, and yet more gore, including an awesome suicide-by-hand-grenade scene!
It's just that it seems superfluous in the context of the general storyline of the movie.

Finally, we have a short but atmospheric scene showing a zombie ambling his way across a snow covered landscape as a desperate voice on the radio asks if there is anyone out there still alive. I think this scene might have worked better if it was dropped in at the end of the credit reel.
As it is, it's just another part of the collection of scenes at the end which tend to distract from the narrative that has preceded it. I can certainly see the intent of these scenes, but whilst they contain some of the more impressive sequences in the film, I still think they do more harm than good.
Looking at them, it's hard to see how you would edit them down so as to be effective in a narrative context without losing something good in a blood-and-guts context. Working at this budget level, if you've spent the time and money shooting something, you really can't afford not to put it in.

I couldn't help but like it, in spite of the numerous production shortcomings. The good outweighs the bad, and it's never boring, predictable, formulaic or prosaic...I've seen a lot more respectably-budgeted mid-level indie horrors
where the production values are on a par with a 1990s TV show, but they're just kind of bland. Bone Sickness was obviously done on a shoestring, and more often than not it shows, but it matters not a jot in the grander scheme of things because it's evidently a movie that has its' heart in the right place...until some undead ghoul tears it out of their chest or something, that is.

It's a heaving, pus-spewing, blood-gushing, gore-laden highlight reel of horror set pieces. I think a lot of more casual horror fans would dismiss it out of hand as amateurish rubbish (but what do they know, after all?), but true horror fans would immediately realise a no-budget gem that punches way above its' weight.

Cool? Undoubtedly.

If you like your movies all glossy and blue-lit like every other Hollywood horror, you'll hate Bone Sickness. If, on the other hand, you love low budget indie horror and like to see practical effects as opposed to CGI, then Bone Sickness will be right up your alley. This is horror made by hardcore horror fans for hardcore horror fans, for those people to whom splatter matters.
If you, like me, count yourself amongst that number, then you'll no doubt be punching the air with macabre glee and failing to restrain yourself from yelling 'Fucking Old School!' at the top of your lungs. I kind of caught myself subconsciously humming the theme tune from 'Zombie Flesh Eaters' a couple of's definitely a movie that will bring those sort of 80's Italian zombie flick memories rushing back.

Now that's what I'm talking about!

Your mileage may vary dependent upon your tolerance for ultra-low budget filmmaking, but for me this movie rather hit the spot. C'mon...where else are you going to see a film where one of the characters projectile-farts a mess of worms out of their bleeding backside?


Apparently there are two versions of this flick in existence, but I've no idea which one it is that I ended up watching, and which DVD version that corresponds to. I'm going to attempt to find out and will update this review accordingly as and when I do.

There goes the neighbourhood...

So, having ostensibly 'watched it for free' on the TV, would I now go out and buy it on DVD? Yes, I think I will...however, I think I might be tempted to make a little detour and perhaps check out 'Fetus' first. Either way, Bone Sickness has served to whet my appetite. It's an acquired taste, no doubt, but it's the kind of thing I can most certainly watch quite happily.

Monday, 22 November 2010

A Brief Update...

First off, apologies for not posting in so long. I've recently had both of my computers go haywire, plus I've been experimenting with a new format for posting reviews on the blog. Rather than type them straight into Blogger, I'm going to complete them in another application and then just copy and paste them.

The problem with Blogger is that you save something, come back to it and finish it off, or post something new inbetween finishing it, and it gets posted in the date order you started it, ergo the 'newest' post may actually crop up in the archives rather than front and centre. There have actually been updates to this blog, but due to the dating system, you could be forgiven for missing them and thinking it was not the case.

In spite of all that, I haven't simply been sat around doing bugger all. In fact, I've been rather's what I've been up to:

1)Writing reviews for the Combat Film section of Combat Magazine. They keep me well stocked with interesting screeners, some of which I shall also be reviewing here in a more in-depth fashion. Aside from getting my (real) name and work in print, it has also provided me with the opportunity to get my reviews quoted on DVD sleeves and even on TV adverts!

2)Getting the ball rolling on my new blog project Read, Review, Bid Adieu, wherein I am undertaking to re-read, review, and then get rid of my massive comics collection one book at a time. Feel free to drop by and enjoy my reminiscences, recollections, remorse and regret as I slowly whittle my comics collection away, bit by bit.

I kicked the whole thing off with a bang with San Diego Comic Con Comics #2 (the very rare and very valuable first ever appearance of Hellboy!). Yes, the first cut is the deepest, but if I can bring myself to sell that, I shouldn't have any problems parting with the rest of my collection...or should I?

Tune in and find out for yourself. It promises to be an excruciatingly embarrassing experience as I try to recall what motivated me to buy certain books and so forth.

3)Visiting the set of the upcoming film 'On The Ropes' and interviewing the principals behind it. Look for a report to appear in Combat magazine shortly...

So remember, anything cool and genre-related you might have that needs reviewing, send it my way! Just drop me an email for the details. I have to say that I am more than a little shocked and disappointed not to have been deluged by a flurry of no-budget zombie or slasher movies yet. If you know someone who knows someone who's making a zero budget horror flick, send them my way, dammit!

Also, I don't just review movies...I can (and do) read books as well. Frankly, I'm game for anything. Having said that, the only offers I've had to review stuff on my blog have come from a software company, whose products aren't remotely genre or exploitation related. Must I be reduced to that? I hope not, but on the plus side they are promising me a full version of the software if I publish a good review. Shall I prostitute myself so? I may not need or have use for my software, but perhaps the whole thing would make good fodder for my CV (or 'resume' for our Americanese-spesaking readers).

In the meantime, I'm gearing up to drop one of my 'new format' articles on the blog...a Johannes Roberts retrospective. It's gonna be a doozy!

Wednesday, 9 June 2010


Let me run this past you:


How the BBFC could even contemplate banning this masterpiece is beyond me...

One of the greatest Spaghetti Westerns ever filmed (for my money, at least) is Sergio Corbucci's 'Django'. I could totally murder the theme song at a Karaoke evening. It's the film Sam Peckinpah's 'The Wild Bunch' wishes it was, and that's saying something!

Dave Stewart (most notably the one out of The Eurythmics who wasn't Annie Lennox) has a son, also a musician, called 'Django'. He probably named him after the somewhat obscure guitarist Django Reinhardt, but I'd prefer to think he named him after Franco Nero's coffin-dragging badass of the same name. Plus, it fits the theory.

Admit it. You would, wouldn't you? I know I would...

Django Stewart is, as we say in the trade, 'knocking off' the rather delectable Georgia May Jagger.


Nobody made a Spaghetti Western about a guy called Pete Best, know what I'm saying?

There's also a titular Spaghetti Western character called 'Ringo', who has also appeared in a number of films. Face facts: Any movie franchise that can have both Richard Harrison(the undisputed King of Ninja movies!) and Sergio Leone doing the musical duties must be required viewing.

The drummer out of The Beatles is also called 'Ringo'. The generally-held consensus is that Ringo was not only the least musically talented of the group (pretty harsh when you consider the competition), but probably also not really musically talented enough to make a career as a professional drummer either.

Yet Ringo was somehow talented enough to pull Barbara Bach, one of the most outrageously doable Bond Girls ever.

Rope. Closet. Women's underwear. Is it still 'too soon' for me to start doing David Carradine jokes?

I'd say that trumps a Yoko Ono in any man's language, even more so if said man happens to be avowedly heterosexual.


Do I really have to further prove my theory to you foolhardy disbelievers by revealing that there is in fact a character called 'Mongo' in 'Blazing Saddles', named after the musician Mongo Santamaria?

You can naysay all you like, but I am convinced that this in fact proof positive of one of the immutable laws of the universe, like toast always landing buttered side down and cats always landing on their feet.

Mongo chins a horse

It seems quite evident to me that if you want to hook up with the best looking women, it pays to be named after an obscure character in a Western who also shares a name with a musician, and the name should preferably end with the letters 'ngo'. For some reason, the convergence of Spaghetti Westerns, Music, and the 'ngo' ending seems to attract beautiful women like bees to honey.

Bear this in mind when it comes time to name your male offspring. Me, I'm off down to the Deed Poll office to get my name changed to 'Bango', then I'm going to kick back and wait for scores of beautiful women to start throwing themselves at me, like they do in those terribly subtle deodorant adverts you see on the TV.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010


First things first...let me apologise for the lack of updates. I've gotten a bit sidetracked with my review of Nightmare USA (which is understandably taking forever to do, given the size of the book in question), so I'm going to be making up for lost time with a lot of shorter reviews to make up for the disruption in service.

So without further ado, let me get on to Lesbian Vampire Killers...

About the only way anyone could give this movie 'two thumbs up'...

I haven't got the DVD of this, and I didn't go and see it when it was out at the cinema either. It's one of those where my immediate reaction was 'I'll wait for it to pop up on Sky Movies', and boy was I right!

Simply put, Lesbian Vampire Killers is a bottle job of epic proportions. One would perhaps go in expecting an entertaining exploitation-tinged blend of lowbrow comedy, gratuitous sex and/or nudity, and splatterific horror, but it fails to deliver on all three counts.

It's somewhat symptomatic of the general attitude of (and indeed, problem with) a lot of UK media types whereby they lack the conviction (nee balls) to make a proper exploitation film and instead churn out safe and insipid filler like this. Films like Lesbian Vampire Killers are what happens when you let right-on Guardian-reading PC types attempt to make exploitation films, only without exploiting anyone or anything. Simply put, they lack the gumption (or testicular fortitude) to go the whole hog.

Don't get me wrong...the production values are generally very good (despite much of it being very obviously shot in a studio), the performances are acceptable, and Corden tries to make a go of the comedy part of the bargain, but the script isn't particularly funny to begin with. You get the distinct impression that had 'Gavin & Stacy' never been made, neither would Lesbian Vampire Killers.

The fact that it is a certificate 15 should tell you everything you need to know...this is an object lesson in the pulling of punches, and one which I'd urge you to avoid. Whether this was done with a commercial sensitivity in mind (you've got a larger potential audience for a 15 rather than an 18), or as I suspect is more likely, because the filmmakers kind of want to make an exploitation film because it's 'cool', but don't actually want to make an exploitation film because it's not politically correct. Which is basically like trying to make a porno without any sex or nudity. What you're left with is neither fish nor fowl, yet curiously close to a turkey all the same.

Like I say, thankfully I didn't buy this on DVD, otherwise I would be punting it out on Ebay in double quick time. Save your time and money, or better yet, spend it on a film that does deliver the goods.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010


Directed By Neil Oseman
Running Time: 98 mins
BBFC Rating: 12

There are times when you sit down and watch a low budget independent movie on DVD and then begin to ask yourself questions like 'Why the hell didn't I watch/know about this sooner?'. Soul Searcher is one of those movies.

Indeed, upon viewing it my joy at discovering what must surely qualify as one of the UK's best kept secrets was tempered only by the nagging feeling that I must be terminally out of the loop to have missed this both at the time of release and at any point between then and now. What the hell have I been playing at?

The story centres around good-natured loser Joe Fallow, who works the night shift driving a street sweeper whilst eternally trying to work up the courage to ask out his unrequited love, Heather.

One night on his rounds, he witnesses a fight that will change his life forever. Now, with the surge of alcohol-fuelled violence that goes on at night inbinge-drinking Britain, you would be forgiven for thinking that this may not seem like such a remarkable event, but this fight involves none other than a Grim Reaper and a supernatural entity, which puts it in a totally different league to two beered-up muppets beating each other up outside the kebab shop.

Thankful for Joe's assistance in defeating his assailant, the Reaper offers Joe the opportunity to ditch his mundane life and instead become the Reaper's replacement, and our tale of supernatural arse-kicking begins in earnest, because in addition to having to dispatch the recently deceased, it seems that all manner of strange creatures from the Other Side are popping up in the land of the living. Who is breaching the walls between Hades and humanity, and more importantly, why? It falls to Joe and his friends to find out and stop them before the barriers are brought down completely and Hell is unleashed on Earth!

Soul Searcher is a difficult film to classify, but I'd probably tag it a supernatural action film if pushed. The cover blurb from The Guardian has it as a 'fantasy action movie', which is just as accurate. It really does have a little bit of everything going for it. There are some very well done martial arts sequences (choreographed by Simon Wyndham of The Silencer and Insiders fame) which are staged and executed better than some I've seen in dedicated fight flicks, but it's not a martial arts movie per se. It's also not a horror movie in the traditional sense either, so if you want to see buckets of blood sprayed on the walls, you'd be advised to look elsewhere.

Hey Joe...whereyou going with that scythe in your hands?

Essentially, Soul Searcher is just a very good movie which eschews the use of ultra-violence because it doesn't really need it. The storyline is intelligent, with the central premise being Joe's struggle between the woman he wants and his duty as a Reaper (which, paradoxically enough, is the same conundrum that also drives the villain of the piece), and the performances are well done and believable.

There's also an interesting variety of special effects in play, from the ghost trails to various infernal creatures, and the overall production design is a great lesson in how to create atmosphere with just a few lights and some gels. Also, the climactic final sequence aboard the train really ups the ante, and adds a much bigger budget feel to the proceedings.

Best of all, Oseman admirably resists the temptation to puss-out and take the easy road with a feelgood Hollywood-style happy ending and instead opts for one that is sad but makes absolute sense in relation to the storyline. Bravo, sir, bravo.

The single disc is positively rammed full of extras as well: Feature-length 'Making Of' documentary, two commentaries, various specific technical featurettes, bloopers, deleted scenes, Easter Eggs and a whole lot more besides.

So, as is always customary in my reviews, it is time to tap into my inner curmudgeonly miser and ask the eternal question: Is it worth the money? I paid the princely sum (princely by my usual standards, that is) of £2.99 for it on Ebay, postage included, and I feel as if I have not only robbed the seller, but probably somehow anally raped him in the process as well. At that price, Soul Searcher represents a bargain of the highest order, and one that you would do well to take up should you see it offered. My copy was put out by the now-defunct Blackhorse Entertainment, so like many other titles under that aegis, availability (and thus price) can vary massively. Forewarned is forearmed and all that jazz...

Cover for the American release

Looking at it now, I'm beginning to wonder whether the relative obscurity of this flick (at least to me) is due in part to the fact that it is a certificate 12 as opposed to a 15 or 18, that perhaps buyers at all levels had it pigeonholed as a horror film and then said to themselves 'How good can it be if it's only a 12?'. Well, let me be the first to correct that misguided assumption and say it's damned good, and succeeds in being interesting, engaging and above all else thoroughly charming without the uses of excessive gore or nudity (not that I have anything in particular against gore and nudity, you understand). It's certainly not a kids' film by any stretch of the imagination, that's for sure.

Anyway, you know about it now, so you've no excuse. My advice would be to grab yourself a copy and join me in the brotherhood of forehead slapping and 'Why the hell didn't I know about this sooner?' exclamation. After Soul Searcher, it's going to be almost a relief to pick up a film on my 'To Do' list and have it be average or disappointing. Then I won't feel quite as out of touch as I did when I watched Soul Searcher.

Friday, 19 February 2010


Directed By Johannes Roberts

Rated: 18
Distributor: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Running Time: 75 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Full Frame
Dolby Digital 5.1

Let me preface this review with a little personal information. I hate mobile phones, and do not own one (if you ever speak to anyone who knows me, they will readily confirm this fact). Don't get me wrong, I think they are a neat little gadget, but for me the bad outweighs the good. I hate gormless morons who blithely walk around transfixed by their mobile phone and utterly oblivious to all that is around them. I also hate 'comedy' ringtones, and is it just me, or has anyone else noticed that the more stultifyingly banal the 'conversation', the louder the brain-dead numpties are obliged to speak to have it?

I also hate that toerag off of the so-obviously-manufactured-it-isn't-funny T-Mobile adverts with his cacophonious attempt at a band. Now that I come to think of it, I'm not particularly fond of the ads for iPhone either, wherein they expect us to bow down in awe-struck reverence of 'Apps' that perform the simplest task imaginable (to anyone with a modicum of initiative) as if beholding the reinvention of the wheel. 'Can't remember how to tie your shoelaces? There's an App for that too!' says the condescending voiceover guy.

So, when it comes to mobile phones, it's fair to say that I am the very antithesis of Ashley Cole.

Does anyone remember that old Phones4U ad with New Zealand's very own Flight Of The Conchords in the VW Camper with a PA system singing a song which contained the lyric 'Set it to vibrate, shake your derriere...BUZZ!'? I bet Ashley Cole does...

I'm just telling you this so that you know where we stand before we begin, as 'When Evil Calls' was shot with the explicit intent of being viewed via mobile phone (and other such mobile devices), in an episodic format. What's more, the plotline revolves around mobile phones as well. As you can well imagine, I duly waited for the DVD, so without further ado, here's the review...

The basic premise revolves around an evil supernatural clown who grants wishes to hapless teenagers. They receive a text teling them they've won a wish, and they are told to text their wish to make it come true. True to form, the wishes do come true, but there are dire consequences, and I'm not talking about jacked up call charges either.

Clowning around

We're talking Wishmaster/Bedazzled territory here (with perhaps the merest hint of Stephen King's 'It' because of the clown), wherein the vengeful and malevolent entity granting the wishes punishes the wisher for their verbal ambiguity and infelicitous language. You know the sort of thing...a seemingly-harmless utterance of 'I want my boyfriend to eat my pussy' means a cunnilinguistically-inclined wish instead manifests itself as coochie cannibalism, or indeed literal gynophagia if you prefer. The old cautionary tale of 'Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it', basically.

Now that's what I call a lovebite!

There are some names you might recognise in the cast, such as Dominic Pinon, Jamie Winstone, Jennifer Lim and Chris Barrie amongst others. Of course, if you are an unreconstructed pervert like me, you will also recognise the name (and other notable attributes) of Page 3 girl Vikki Blows.

I'm going to resist the temptation to do a pun on her surname...

Oddly enough, one of the other segments involves quite a bit of nudity, but without spoiling the surprise let me just say that like all of the wishes, there's a most disquieting downside to it...still, it's fun while it lasts, eh?

Fact: Netball played by hot naked girls would draw bigger TV audiences and make more money than the NBA

In an attempt to disguise the episodic nature of the beast and flesh it out into a more linear narrative, the producers have enlisted Sean Pertwee as the school caretaker to act as a narrator of sorts.

Sean Pertwee as our humble (and foul tempered) narrator...

These sequences are shot in POV, with the viewer ostensibly cast as a bullied pupil who is taking refuge from a gang of miscreants in the janitor's shed. It's quite the one man show on Pertwee's part, and he does get to reel off some absolutely criminal one-liners too.

Poor girl...she just couldn't 'weight' to be thin.

Having said that, I don't think any amount of effort would disguise the fact that this is a collection of episodes as opposed to a singular narrative (even though there is a definite running order and inter-episode continuity), but at least they've had a go at it. It just feels a bit 'grafted on after the fact'. With 20/20 hindsight, it's easy to play armchair producer and say that they should have shot extra footage to redress or minimise the episodic nature, but it's more than likely that the budget for such material didn't exist at the time of shooting, nor was the possibility of a DVD release set in stone either.

Personally, I'm not bothered. Whilst it's not an engaging film in the traditional sense, I believe it's ultimately a matter of perspective. If one chooses to view it as a collection of loosely interwoven short films, then it hits the spot rather nicely. If you go in expecting a fully-realised and traditionally-paced feature, then I dare say you are going to come out disappointed.

I was going to wish for something very obvious involving Vikki Blows, but, given the fact you can die if you get an air bubble in your bloodstream, and that the clown granting these wishes would no doubt use the ambiguity of 'Blow' to do me in, I've decided against it.

The constant repetition of the mobile phone graphics everytime a wish is granted renders any attempt at a more prolonged, linear narrative null and void. It's the old 'apples and oranges' scenario, but fortunately enough I just happen to like both.

Thus I can fully understand why some reviewers have buried this, simply because as a stand-alone feature, it's certainly lacking. Also, I'd say said situation would also be compounded if they had paid anywhere near a new DVD release price for it as well.

On the other hand, having chosen to view it instead as a grab bag of shorts, and having paid a comparative pittance for it, I personally found it rather passable. As with any such endeavour, you're going to like some episodes more than others, one man's wine being another man's poison and all that, but given the amount of individual episodes on the disc, you're sure to find something that will tickle your fancy, and most likely come to the conclusion that the good roughly outweighs the bad.

I can't recall the exact price I paid for this off of Ebay (I think it was either £1.04 or £1.24, postage included), but it's certainly value for money at that price. Having watched it, I probably wouldn't pay over a fiver for it myself and thus would advise you likewise. It's certainly of interest to anyone who likes Johannes Roberts' work, or low-budget British filmmaking in general.

This is my favourite part in the Behind-The-Scenes Featurette...

There's also some Trailers and a 'Making Of' featurette on the disc, although if you watch half as much of Zone Horror as I do, then you've probably seen it already. Such is life! Still, it does provide an interesting behind-the-scenes glimpse.

I'll be reviewing some more of Johannes Roberts' work in the coming weeks as I think he's a director deserving of attention. I've already got Forest Of The Damned on the shelf, plus Sanitarium and Darkhunters currently on their way to me...just got to sniff out a copy of Hellbreeder and I'll be all set.

In closing, I'd just like to say that I still hate mobile phones with a passion, and that 'When Evil Calls' did not influence my views on the matter one way or another, nor did my views on mobile phones influence my opinion on 'When Evil Calls'.

Having finally sat down and watched 'When Evil Calls', I must say I am now quietly curious about checking out the DVD cut of Hammer's 'Beyond The Rave', a project with a vaguely similar episodic genesis (as well as the shared involvement of both Lois Winstone and producer Ben Grass of Pure Grass). I must admit to having found the episodes of 'Beyond The Rave' to be nothing short of torturous, even more so when considering that it came out under the Hammer aegis. I can't honestly believe that they could improve upon the raw material that much, but I may very well be proven wrong. I'm just not prepared to pay £15 or so for the privilege of finding out.

I'm not against 'multi-platform' media products (or 'MP²'...I'm trademarking that. You heard it here first!) such as these, it's just that the proper pre-planning needs to be done from the script stage onward so that the product can be extended, cut down, combined or separated relatively seamlessly so that no version is an obvious 'poor relation'. It's certainly an interesting and novel development, but whether it's merely a flash in the pan or a nascent form of media production, only time will tell.

Me, I'll just wait for the DVD, thank you very much. I couldn't live with the thought of my money going towards the sort of prats that invariably populate mobile phone adverts. Believe it!

Tuesday, 9 February 2010


Director: Andrew Parkinson

16:9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Dolby Digital 2.0

(PLEASE NOTE: All comments relate to the UK DVD put out under the 'Hard Gore' label. Other regions/releases may vary in content)

A quick question for our UK-based you remember those ads for Ronseal where the tagline was "Does Exactly What It Says On The Tin"?

Andrew Parkinson proves that making a film needn't cost an arm and a leg...just an arm

Well, the sleeve of my copy of 'Dead Creatures' says that it is "The 'Trainspotting' of Cannibal Movies", "Astonishing", and describes the style of director Andrew Parkinson as a "mix of Mike Leigh, Ken Loach and George Romero".

Now, normally upon reading such effusive praise, the patron of low budget horror will doubtlessly recoil as their boxcover bullshit-o-meter goes into overdrive. Yet it gives me great pleasure to announce that in this instance, the plaudits are entirely justified.

'Dead Creatures' is exactly what it purports to be, which is to say a socio-realistic take on a cannibal movie, and a damned good one at that. Personally, I'm not a great fan of socially realistic 'kitchen sink' or 'slice of life' films, nor the directors who make them (that's why I write a blog where the focus is firmly on way-out genre flicks), but I really enjoyed 'Dead Creatures'.

The storyline centres around an apparently normal group of young women who all have one thing in common...they are all afflicted by degenerative flesh-eating disease, the spread of which can seemingly only be staved off or slowed down by consuming human flesh. As such, they form a sort of loose support group for each other, the healthier ones caring for those who are further along or close to being too far gone.

Degenerative effects of the disease

The group ethos (and lifespan within) is explored by the adoption of a new member and the degenration, death and disposal of the oldest or most decomposed member. Everything is shot in a matter of fact style so as to render the bizarre almost mundane, and were it not for the frequent visual reminders, one could be forgiven for forgetting that it was a cannibal movie. Ultimately, it's a human story which one can quite easily view as being a metaphor for illness or addiction, which I'm sure is what most likely inspired the 'Trainspotting' comparison.

Has cannibalism ever looked more sedate or humane?

As if their condition wasn't bad enough, things are further complicated by the presence of a 'zombie hunter' who knows about the disease and is busying himself eradicating those who carry it with a pneumatic bolt gun (there's a great low budget cheat where they get maximum use out of an impaled prosthetic head). The shot composition in the scene where the hunter decides to give up the hunt and dispose of his weapon is fantastic, by the way...for me, the enduring image of the film.

About to get her brains pushed through her skull...

The production standard is very high, up there with a lot of the better drama output on British TV. If this cropped up on Channel 4 one night, you wouldn't bat an eyelid. It may be relatively low budget, but it doesn't broadcast the fact via technical ineptitude or trying to punch too far above the production's respective weight. It's evident that it's done by people who know what they're doing, rather than people who got Final Cut and After Effects for Christmas and feel duty bound to squeeze in every conceivable effect they know into the proceedings whether the scene or story merits it or otherwise.

US Cover (in association with Fangoria)

It may not be everybody's cup of tea with regards to what a cannibal film should be, and if you're looking for non-stop action and constant choreographed scares, then you might want to look elsewhere. On the other hand, if you're looking for a well-made, unsettling and unremittingly bleak horror experience, I would happily point you in the direction of 'Dead Creatures'.

As is customary with my reviews, I always remark on whether I consider something to be value for money. I took a gamble on this (99p off of Ebay, including postage...I'm a high roller, baby!) and it payed off in spades. In addition to the feature itself, there's a trailer, Making Of documentary, Outtakes, commentary track, Premiere featurette, and a short film called 'Sad Man' too, plus loads of the other additional gubbins. Having got all of this for 99p, I feel rather unclean, yet damned smug at the same time.

As to what I'd suggest you pay for it, I don't know...I get the impression this is a film people will either love or hate (the fact I was able to get it for 99p would surely attest to that in some fashion). If you see it floating about at a price you feel comfortable taking a gamble at, then my advice would be to have a punt. In closing, I should say that you certainly won't be seeing my copy popping up on Ebay anytime soon, 99p or otherwise. For me, it's a keeper...probably not something I'm going to watch as many times as Zombie Flesh Eaters or Suspiria, but still one I'm proud to have on the shelf.

Saturday, 6 February 2010




I had an idea this morning whilst brushing my teeth which can only be described as 'Garybuseyian' in the scale of its' innate madness (The idea, that is...not my teeth).

Hello Kitty!

Xavier Leret's flick 'Unarmed But Dangerous' (AKA 'Kung Fu Flid') has the distinction of containing the feature film debut of one Ms. Kitty Lea, the much-beloved Page 3/Lad's Mag model.

No caption required...

In addition to all of her other activities, Ms. Lea has recently started doing the occasional daytime shift on Elite TV, one of those 'babe' channels where blokes phone in and talk one-on-one with their favourite model as they writhe about seductively and attempt to keep the guy on the (extortionately priced) line as long as possible and thus rack up those all-important call charges.

"What?! Would I 'plug your blog'? No, I'm not into strap-ons..."

It was while considering these disparate and apparently unrelated strands that inspiration struck me like that mythical bolt of lightning out of the blue...How mental would it be to phone her up whilst on TV and conduct a brief (with the emphasis firmly on brief) interview regarding UBD/KFF? It would certainly no doubt make for a refreshing change in the subject matter of the calls she would be receiving if nothing else.

On the face of it, it's a CV-padder's dream...a live, nationally broadcast on-air interview all for the price of a somewhat expensive phonecall. Better yet, because viewers at home can't hear what the callers are talking about unless they too phone up and listen in, you can pretty much make up the content as you go along, or perhaps simply forego the phone call altogether and just concoct the fictional interview out of thin air. In short, it would be about as credible as that live Michael Jackson seance that Sky put on, which is to say not at all.

Then again, because of the relatively private nature of the conversation, one could perhaps view the whole endeavour as thr crafty-genreblogger-stealth-interviews-hot-girl-on-phone-sex-TV-show equivalent of that old philosophical chestnut about a whether or not a tree falling in the woods makes a sound if there's nobody there to hear it. In short, whilst the idea would amuse and please me (and one gets the distinct impression that self-amusement/pleasure is the overriding motive of the sort of folks who phone into these channels), to be a truly great idea it needs to be developed into something a little more significant and far reaching.

"We can't stop here...this blog is batshit country".

Don't get me wrong, I'm not totally down on it, I just thought I could do something a little better, and a shade more ambitious. Frankly, I think the initial idea as it stands merits some sort of Hunter S. Thompson Brilliance in Gonzo Journalism award, even if I do say so myself. (I wonder if anyone has ever done a live TV seance for him?)


"Yes, this is Bruce Willis. What's that? You're a big Marvel Comics fan and you'll pledge $2,500 if I can get the guy who played The Thing to sucker-punch the guy who played Daredevil in the back of the head? Now why would you want to see that? Give me three good reasons why I should make that happen? What's that? Gigli, Jersey Girl, and Pearl Harbor. Yeah, okay, you win..."

Indeed, now that I think about it some more, how cool do you think it would be if somebody would have thought to pull the same stunt during the Haiti telethon in the USA recently? I think most people would gladly cough up $50-$100 for charity for the opportunity to bend Steven Spielberg's ear back about the unmitigated travesty that was 'Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull', even if only for 30 seconds or so.

You have a captive audience/subject, because at the end of the day, they want your money (for whatever purpose, noble or ignoble), so they're not going to be in any hurry to hang up. Simply record, upload, and bask in the glory of instant internet legend status.

"Yes, this is Sandra Bullock. Oh, thank you so much, I'm glad you enjoy my movies. What's that? You'll mail our appeal ten crisp $100 bills if I tell you how to use the Three Seashells to wipe your ass like in Demolition Man? Well, actually, that was just a...oh, I've been experimenting with it at home for the last three months with varying degrees of success? You just keep getting shit all over your hands and the seashells? Ok. Y'know, actually, now I come to think about it do you have a credit card at all? I mean it's just that I'd hate to think of the cash getting lost in the mail..."


It was then that the the true Eureka moment duly arrived, and I realised that the above ideas were mere Fool's Gold in comparison to the brainwave that had now taken root in my cerebral cortex. If Hollywood can get together and do a 'Hope For Haiti' telethon, how much better (and ultimately more profitable) would it be if they, or the US porn industry, did a 'Hoes For Haiti' phone sex telethon? How much would the man on the street be prepared to pay for 15 minutes of verbal filth from Megan Fox or Angelina Jolie? I conservatively estimate a princely sum, especially when you consider that it's all in aid of a 'good cause'. Why, just think of the amount of money that would be generated as Bono had phone sex with would be like a fiduciary feedback loop of epic proportions, and all for charity too.

Truly, somebody needs to hep that dishevelled clown Geldof to what I'm saying here, because I think we're on to a potential winner...