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...