Creep (2004)

CreepKate is waiting for the train at Charing Cross Underground station. She falls asleep, and when she wakes up there’s nobody around and the place has been locked up for the night. Even if the entire place has been deserted and she’s the only one there, an empty train suddenly arrives. Not knowing what else to do, she boards it, hoping to get away from the place. Then, it stops and all the lights go out. Then she finds out that the place was not entirely abandoned after all, as she meets one of her coworkers who keeps following her around and eventually attempts to rape her. She is saved by someone unknown, who drags the guy out of the train, and when Kate sees a glimpse of him covered in blood, she starts running. Then Kate meets a homeless couple, Jimmy and Mandy. They also have a dog called Ray. After offering some payment, Jimmy reluctantly agrees to follow Kate to the night guard, but they will be hunted by someone else who is prowling the underground station, looking for victims…

 

Creep is a horror film from 2004, written and directed by Christopher Smith (who later directed Triangle (2009). Creep was his directorial debut, and there was also a game made called Creep: The Last Tube in 2005 which was used to promote the film. While the game went down nearly 14 years later, the developer helped making sure the game didn’t end up as lost media, and was uploaded to Archive.org.

 

Creep may at first appear to be similar to The Midnight Meat Train, but those are very different. In Creep, a lot of the movie relies heavily on portraying Kate’s feelings of being trapped and surrounded by danger all around. The movie doesn’t start off with lengthy character depictions or backstories, we simply see a young woman waiting for a train and nodding off, waking up in a place that appears to be deserted. Places that use to bustle with people where you’re used to seeing them filled with the regular everyday stress, will always seem slightly surreal and nightmarish when totally empty. Of course, Kate eventually finds that she is not entirely alone after all, there’s danger from all around and this is what makes all the twists and turns come somewhat unexpected. I say somewhat, since there is a short opening scene in the film which hints that there is indeed someone malicious in that underground station. And the actor playing this someone, this creep, is Sean Harris (who has the leading role in Possum from 2018) who is a method actor who didn’t socialize with anyone throughout the shoot. Also, none of them ever saw his makeup prior to shooting the scenes, a process which took seven hours each day. Whew! I also guess going into it so blindly must have been quite an experience for the other actors, and probably caused some genuine reactions.

 

While there are some grisly scenes and a little bit of gore here, some scenes are offscreen so there isn’t really enough to warrant a gore-badge. There’s a little bit of illogical nonsense here and there, but nevertheless Creep is an overall fun horror movie well worth a watch.

 

Creep

 

Writer and director: Christopher Smith
Country & year: United Kingdom, 2004
Actors: Franka Potente, Sean Harris, Vas Blackwood, Ken Campbell, Kathryn Gilfeather, Grant Ibbs, Joe Anderson, Jeremy Sheffield, Sean De Vrind, Ian Duncan
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0381966/

 

 

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The Awakening (2011)

The AwakeningIt’s 1921, and the author Florence Cathcart is working with the police in order to expose spiritualist fraud. During a “séance” she reveals all the medium’s tricks, but instead of being shown gratitude from the grieving mother who hoped to get in contact with her deceased child, she is instead met with a slap in the face. Some people would rather live in delusion, apparently. Upon arriving back home, she is visited by a guy called Robert Mallory, who wants her to investigate the sightings of a ghost boy who has been seen at the boy’s boarding school in Cumbria where he is a teacher. 20 years earlier, the school had been a private home. Upon arriving at the school, Florence meets the housekeeper, a woman named Maud Hill, who is a big fan of her book and says she keeps it right alongside her bible. Which is a bit ironic, considering Florence’s book is founded in skepticism…oh well. When Florence starts investigating, she first thinks the so-called supernatural events are nothing but children’s shenanigans, but soon she finds that the old house holds many secrets, and both recent events and those from the past slowly start unveiling themselves.

 

The Awakening is a British supernatural drama-horror film from 2011, directed by Nick Murphy and written by Stephen Volk (who also wrote Ghostwatch and The Guardian) and Murphy. It was shot on location in the United Kingdom, in Trinity Church Square London, Berwickshire, East Lothian, Lyme Park in Cheshire and Manderston House in Manderston. While the outside is Manderston House, the inside of the school was filmed in Marchmont House, both situated on the outskirts of Duns in the Scottish Borders.

 

The film is very much what you would expect, both from its description and first glimpses: a ghost story with a certain elegance, more drama than horror, but upheld with strong performances, a continuous build-up of mystery, and gorgeous cinematography. You could say that the movie is a little bit in the same category as The Others and The Orphanage. The main character is steeped with personal conflicts and grievances, with old secrets waiting to be revealed. It is told early in the film that Florence’s fiancé died during the war, and Robert has his fair share of issues after being traumatized by the war. With the story set in the early 1920’s, it’s a time where people had gotten used to an abundance of death both from the war and the influenza (Spanish Flu) that killed a lot of people during those times. And of course, some shady characters are thrown in as well: a sadistic school teacher, and a creepy groundskeeper who is very obviously up to no good.

 

Like in many a classic ghost story, the atmosphere is reliant on the surroundings, and here we get plenty of old buildings with all kinds of dark, creepy corners and ominous-looking paintings covering the walls. Much of what is happening is rather subtle, but there are some scenes with an old doll house which is quite effective. The Awakening is a classic, old-fashioned ghost story that won’t keep you awake at night, but it’s overall a nice addition to any collection of supernatural ghost horror movies.

 

The Awakening The Awakening

 

Director: Nick Murphy
Writers: Stephen Volk, Nick Murphy
Country & year: UK, 2014
Actors: Rebecca Hall, Dominic West, Imelda Staunton, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Shaun Dooley, Joseph Mawle, Diana Kent, Richard Durden, ohn Shrapnel, Cal MacAninch, Lucy Cohu, Anastasia Hille
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1687901/

 

 

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Event Horizon (1997)

Event HorizonThe year is 2047, and the rescue vessel Lewis and Clark is dispatched to investigate the distress signal from a starship called Event Horizon. This starship disappeared seven years ago, during its maiden voyage to Proxima Centauri, and now it has mysteriously appeared in a decaying orbit around Neptune. The eerie distress signal consists of a series of screams and howls, in which the Event Horizon’s designer Dr. William Weir (Sam Neill) believes is the Latin phrase “Liberate me” (“save me”). When the crew of the rescue vessel, joined by Dr. Weir, enters the ship they find evidence of a massacre. They search for survivors, but then the ship’s gravity drive activates and causes a shock wave which damages the rescue vessel. They are all then forced to stay on the Event Horizon, and soon begin having hallucinations which corresponds to their fears and trauma…

 

Event Horizon is a science fiction horror film from 1997, directed by Paul W. S. Anderson and written by Philip Eisner. The filming took place in Pinewood Studios, and Anderson modeled the starship after Notre Dame Cathedral using an architectural cam program. And oh boy, did this film have a troubled production, where the filming and editing was rushed by Paramount when it was revealed that Titanic would not meet its projected release. Not only did the movie suffer from being rushed, but to top it all people complained about the “extreme gore” during the test screenings, and it’s claimed that some of the audience actually fainted. Even the Paramount executives were shocked by how “gruesome” it was, and demanded a shorter runtime with less gore, so apparently some of the best bits were cut away from the movie. The original 130-minute film was savagely edited on the studio’s demand, much to Anderson’s dismay.

 

It was both a commercial and critical flop, grossing only $42 million on its $60 million budget. In some way, the movie entered into its redeeming phase when it sold pretty well on home video, where the DVD release sold so well that Paramount actually contacted Anderson with wishes of beginning the restoration of the deleted footage. But, too late, because at this point it had been either lost or destroyed. So thanks a lot for that, you squeamish arseholes who demanded the movie to be cut during the test screenings. Had it not been for you, we’d have a much more disturbing and gory movie.

 

The movie can be best summed up as a haunted house-story set on a spaceship, which has quite literally been to Hell and back. Thus I guess some people were quick to label it as some kind of Alien meets Hellraiser, which isn’t really the case. Just like the typical haunted house setting, the fears play mostly on the psychological at first, and we already know from the eerie and sinister surroundings that things are not as they should be, with strange things happening that spooks the crew. And let’s face it: supernatural happenings in space is a lot more claustrophobic and threatening compared to happening in some old house. In a house, you can at least run outside…

 

The dark, empty hallways in the spaceship appear just as menacing and threatening as the hallways in an old mansion, and the visions the characters are seeing are suspenseful and effective. The performances are good, but best is Sam Neill’s performance as Dr. Weir who slowly starts falling into madness and becoming absorbed by the gruesomeness the starship brought back with it. There are no aliens running amok here, just anxiety, paranoia, violence and gore. It’s like the place it came from had been the very depths of Hell itself, which makes it very interesting when you keep in mind that the design of the ship was modelled after the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.

 

Over the years Event Horizon has developed a cult following as well, sometimes referenced in other works of popular culture. It is an effective horror film albeit not a masterpiece, and it sucks that some of its most disturbing content is lost. Overall, it’s a decent 90s sci-fi horror which will probably forever hold the mystery of what those extra minutes of playtime could have been.

 

Event Horizon Event Horizon

 

Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Writer: Philip Eisner
Country & year: UK, US, 1997
Actors: Laurence Fishburne, Sam Neill, Kathleen Quinlan, Joely Richardson, Richard T. Jones, Jack Noseworthy, Jason Isaacs, Sean Pertwee, Peter Marinker, Holley Chant, Barclay Wright, Noah Huntley
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0119081/

 

 

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No One Gets Out Alive (2021)

No One Gets Out AliveAmbar is a young woman who tries to move from Mexico and settle in Cleveland, Ohio, after her mother passes away. Unfortunately, she’s an undocumented immigrant, which makes it incredibly hard to find a job and a place to live. She works at an “under the table” job, with an asshole boss who treats her like shit because he knows she doesn’t have much of a choice. In a desperate search for some place to stay, she finds a dilapidated boarding house where the owner, Red, doesn’t care about asking any questions as long as one month’s rent is paid up front. Shortly after she moves in, she starts experiencing strange things and sees ghostly figures. Some of the rooms in the house is also filled with strange artifacts, as Red’s parents were archaeologists. And to top it all, Red’s got a mentally disturbed brother who acts in a threatening manner. And while she isn’t the only woman in the house as there’s also two other young women renting a room there, Ambar soon feel that the supernatural visions and the overall threatening atmosphere in the house is becoming a bit too much…

 

No One Gets Out Alive is a supernatural horror film from 2021, directed by Santiago Menghini and based on an Adam Nevill novel by the same name. It premiered on Netflix on 29 September 2021. Now, while I have read some of Adam Nevill’s books I haven’t read this one, so on that part I’m unable to make any comparisons. I think this movie is a little bit of a modern gothic horror, set in a gloomy mansion-like boarding house where ghostly apparitions fit well in with the interior, so to speak. It’s atmospheric and offers mysteries and tension, which are not all caused by the supernatural affairs. Ambar’s experience as a lost, lonely and desperate young woman in a place where she basically has no value, and constantly in a situation where others might take advantage of her without repercussions, adds to the feeling if despair and tension. Even when Ambar befriends one of her colleagues who promises to get her a fake ID, she just ends up getting robbed by this woman whom she thought would help her. If Ambar hadn’t been in a very despairing situation, I don’t think the underlying tension would have been quite as effective.

 

The movie also hints that it exists in the same universe as The Ritual, as a newscaster mentions the four lost hikers in the Swedish woods. The Ritual is another book by Nevill which had a movie adaption released in 2017, and is currently also available on Netflix. Just like in The Ritual, there’s a god-like monster here. It isn’t particularly well explained, but it is some kind of Aztec goodess named Itzpapaloyl, which actually means “clawed butterfly” or “obsidian butterfly”. In Aztec religion, Itzpapaloyl is a fearsome skeletal death goddess. And just like in The Ritual, the monster design and effects are neat and otherworldly to the max, even if their display time is minimal.

 

Overall, No One Gets Out Alive is gloomy and creepy, where the heroine’s problems are just as much related to financial and social problems than just the supernatural ones. While it certainly isn’t fast paced I didn’t ever find it boring, and consider it a pretty enjoyable watch.

 

No One Gets Out Alive No One Gets Out Alive

 

Director: Santiago Menghini
Writers: Jon Croker, Fernanda Coppel
Country & year: UK, 2021
Actors: Cristina Rodlo, Marc Menchaca, Vala Noren, Claudia Coulter, Teresa Banham, David Barrera, Alejandro Akara, David Figlioli, Cosmina Stratan
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt13056008/

 

 

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The Hole (2001)

The HoleLiz, a young student, disappeared for 18 days along with some of her friends. She resurfaces, disheveled and bloody, and in order to find out what happened to her and her friends she is interviewed by a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist, Dr. Phillipa Horwood, listens as Liz recounts the story about how her friend Martin arranged for her and her friends Mike, Geoff and Frankie to spend a weekend in an underground nuclear fallout shelter. They are totally trapped inside the shelter, as it cannot be opened from the inside, but of course that won’t be a problem since Martin will come back for them. For some reason that doesn’t happen, Martin doesn’t return to let them out, and when the teens realize they are trapped down there, they start turning on each other. Things go from bad to worse when they uncover hidden microphones in the shelter, apparently placed there by Martin. Liz claims that one morning, the hatch was suddenly open, allowing her, the only survivor, to escape. Everything sounds straight forward and such, but the psychiatrist is skeptical of Liz’s account of the events, and suspects there’s more to the story than what she’s been telling her.

 

The Hole is a British psychological thriller from 2001, directed by Nick Hamm and based on the 1993 novel After the Hole by Guy Burt. At the first look, it may appear to be a typical teen slasher, which is very far from being the case. It’s a psychological horror thriller about a bunch of rich prep school kids in England who wants to skip a field trip to Wales, by staying in an underground shelter for the weekend. Things go bad, and we’re presented with a twisted tale where the first half appears to be pretty straightforward, but then it’s progressing into a mystery that slowly unfolds. While it may not be too much of a surprise that there’s more to Liz’s account of events than what she’s been telling the psychiatrist, the movie also offers some tense scenes of how the spoiled youngsters react when they’re locked inside the shelter. There’s no doubt that the characters are supposed to come off as rather selfish and with an incredibly entitled attitude, making it hard to root for anyone. In this regard the performances are solid enough to keep the tension up, as they all turn on each other in full desperation.

 

While The Hole offers nothing groundbreaking, it’s still a pretty decent watch. The use of non-linear storytelling does keep you guessing for a bit, switching between current time and flashbacks, but it’s not like the “twist” at the end is that unpredictable. It’s still a well made mystery/whodunnit thriller, with a realistic tone and a claustrophobic setting which adds to the dark atmosphere.

 

The Hole The Hole

 

Director: Nick Hamm
Writers: Guy Burt, Ben Court, Caroline Ip
Country & year: UK, France, Canada, 2001
Actors: Thora Birch, Desmond Harrington, Daniel Brocklebank, Laurence Fox, Keira Knightley, Embeth Davidtz, Steven Waddington, Emma Griffiths Malin, Jemma Powell, Gemma Craven
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0242527/

 

 

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Lifeforce (1985)

Lifeforce A space crew is on a mission to explore the coma of Haley’s Comet, a comet that’s visible from Earth and to the naked eye every 75 years. Something else that’s naked are three humanoid creatures in suspended animation within coffin-shaped glass containers, which the captain Tom Carlsen (Steve Railsback) and his crew find as soon as they float onto the comet. Two of them being young males and a young brunette (credited as Space Girl in the 18 year old flesh of Mathilda May). They bring the containers back to the spaceship and head back to Earth. But something goes wrong as they enter the atmosphere. The crew gets burned alive and the only sign of life when the ship lands on Earth are the three humanoids, still sleeping in their coffins. An inventive little nod to the sailing ship Demeter, if you will.

 

We’re now in London where the containers with the space humanoids are transported to the European Space Research Centre, and the fun is about to begin. The naked Space Girl suddenly opens her eyes as she lies ready for her autopsy, stands up buck naked and sucks the life out of him (yes, from the mouth, sorry to say). She escapes as she just wanders out of the facility like a catwalk model while she flashes her tits and buttcheeks. We then learn from one of the doctors who also had an episode with the Space Girl that she’s able to seduce her victims with intense supernatural powers and french-kisses them completely empty of lifeforce, and … how can anyone say this with a straight and dry face: they then infect the victims with a virus that transforms them to rabid zombie vampires. It’s time to call Dr. Peter Cushing Van Helsing. Ha-ha, had it only been that easy…

 

A traumatized Dr. Carlsen, the only survivor of the space crew we saw earlier, heads over to London from Texas to join forces with the agent SAS agent Colin Caine (Peter Firth) to track down the space creature.

 

Lifeforce was supposed to be Tobe Hooper’s next big step after the mega success of the Steven Spielberg production Poltergeist (1982), which still asks the question who really directed that film. What the hell really happened to Tobe Hooper is also a good question. But what we know is that his destructive and downward spiral of drug use didn’t do any favors to the continuous fall of his career. He was fired from several film projects during the 1980s until he was picked up by Cannon Films which he signed a three-movie deal with: Lifeforce, Invaders from Mars and Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2.

 

Even though Lifeforce was doomed from the beginning by starting the shooting with an unfinished script, the film has its many moments. The set-design of the comet is pretty inventive with an entrance that looks like a giant butthole. The effects are as 80’s as they can get which goes from being pretty spectacular to crispy cheese dinner. Then we have eye-rolling dialogues mixed with a hysteric over-the top performance by Steve Railsback. When he’s not overacting to the Razzie Award, he sits with a blank stare and just says his lines, while the rest tries to take this as seriously as they can. An enthusiastic Patrick Stewart has a short screentime where he got the great honor to mouth kiss Railsback in one of the more absurd scenes.

 

The rubber animatronics are comical, cartoonish and just delightfully cheesy that would fit far more in a film like The Return of the Living Dead. Dan O’Bannon co-wrote the script so that maybe explains a thing or two. There was no complete script of Lifeforce, as mentioned, and it shows, especially after the second half which slides further into a weird unfocused epic mess. Miniature buildings of London burn up in flames, there’s big explosions in the street and full pandemonium of rabid zombie vampires running around. Only thing missing is cats and dogs living together and we’d had double mass hysteria!

 

The studio also cut out 20 minutes for its theatrical release and the film was set up to be a blockbuster in the summer of 1985, but instead became the biggest flop of the year, barely earning half of its budget back. It was mocked and panned by most of the critics and Colin Wilson, the author of the novel The Space Vampires, which the film is based on, wasn’t much impressed either. Gene Siskel, on the other hand, gave it 3 out of 4 stars and called the film a guilty pleasure. And it’s not hard to agree on that. Lifeforce is available on a Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack from Scream Factory.

 

Lifeforce Lifeforce Lifeforce

 

 

Director: Tobe Hooper
Writers: Dan O’Bannon, Don Jakoby
Also known as: Space Vampires
Country & year: UK, 1985
Actors: Steve Railsback, Peter Firth, Frank Finlay, Mathilda May, Patrick Stewart, Michael Gothard, Nicholas Ball, Aubrey Morris, Nancy Paul, John Hallam, John Keegan
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0089489/

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

The Asphyx (1973)

We meet Sir Hugo Cunningham who is an amateur scientist, and the time period is the end of the 1800s. He’s taking photographs of the dead, and have an interest in supernatural phenomena. Through photographing the dead with his newly invented camera instrument, he discovers strange spots on the photographs, that he later thinks could be an Apshyx: a ghostly entity that supposedly shows itself right at the moment when a person is about to die. Through several more experiments while having his macabre photo shoots with the recently deceased, he also gets to witness and film an execution through hanging. Through this it is revealed to him that the Asphyx can be captured by the light rays that emits from his camera invention, and when a person’s Asphyx is captured, this person becomes literally immortal and unable to die. His first test is done on a guinea pig, and when he discovers that it works, the temptation of achieving eternal life becomes too great and he decides to capture both his own and his family’s Asphyxes. But will this really lead to the bliss of immortality, or will there be dire consequences?

 

The Asphyx is an old-fashioned horror movie that can be considered to be on par with many of the Hammer horror movies, with its gothic atmosphere and scenery which is making the film a visual treat. However, similarly to the classic Hammer films there’s an abundance of dialogue and a rather scarce amount of any action. The strength lies in the movie’s rather interesting and quirky concept, together with the gothic visuals and convincing Victorian cinematography (done by Freddie Young) so if you’re familiar with this type of movie setting and can appreciate it for its attractive production design and its Poe-style gothic tale of death, loss and grief, mixed with scientific curiosity which eventually leads to obsession, then you’re in for a treat. It’s yet another tale of an upper-class scientist coming upon a discovery that offers a chance for him to play God…and of course, the decision to do so comes with dire consequences.

 

The special effects of the Asphyx itself and how they try to trap it, really reminds me of something that could have belonged in a Ghostbusters movie, although that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s lightly spooky rather than creepy or frightening, and the movie even comes off as slightly silly at times. Also, the pacing might be a tad bit too slow for a modern audience…but if you like classic gothic horror films, this Hammer-esque film is definitely worth a watch.

 

The Asphyx

 

Director: Peter Newbrook
Writers: Christina Beers, Laurence Beers, Brian Comport
Country & year: UK, 1973
Actors:Robert Stephens, Robert Powell, Jane Lapotaire, Alex Scott, Ralph Arliss, Fiona Walker, Terry Scully, John Lawrence, David Grey, Tony Caunter, Paul Bacon
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0069738/

 

 

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Final Prayer (2013)

A team of investigators, consisting of Deacon (a religious brother who is some i kind of skeptic – however that makes sense) Gray (an englishman who is both a layman and a technology expert) and Father Mark (who is, of course, sent by the Vatican to team up with these guys in order to investigate reports of supernatural activity in an old thirteenth century church. The guys arrive at the old church, where they set up their recording equipment and stuff, Ghost Adventures-style. The local priest believes that the things happening inside the church is a miracle, until he later starts questioning what is happening as being something completely different – and leaps to his death from the bell tower. After this, the inhabitants in the village become hostile towards the investigators…

 

Final Prayer, also known as The Borderlands, is a found-footage horror movie from 2013, directed by Elliot Goldner. While it may look like a very standard supernatural found footage flick, it twists around to something that is more akin to cosmic horror with some obvious lovecraftian vibes. An old decrepit church situated on top of a hill, a village with hostile and weird inhabitants…yeah, if you’ve ever read some of Lovecraft’s works like “Shadow over Innsmouth” and “Rats in the Walls“, you’ll easily spot the resemblances here.

 

The movie starts a little slow, where the characters (who differs greatly in personalities) try to get along while conducting their investigations. While many found footage horror movies have their characters portrayed with bland or shallow personalities, Final Prayer spends some time with its character development. And that is not a bad thing. It’s overall spooky and creepy enough, with an atmospheric setting and a gradual build-up of suspense. It’s treading customary paths for a while where you easily find yourself thinking this is a run-of-the-mill ghost/demon film…but as strange things keep happening you realize that this is not exactly what you expected. And so do the characters…

 

Now, what makes this movie stand out a bit from other fount-footage horror movies, is the rather unexpected WTF ending, which does come as a bit of surprise despite that you’ve been getting more than a few hints and reveals as the story progresses which tells us that this is no ordinary “haunting”. There are some scenes during the ending that are shot in some really narrow caves, which actually shows some real fear in the actor’s expressions, as they suffered from those claustrophobic confines. I’m not going to spoil any more, but it was definitely unexpected and kind of weird.

 

Overall, Final Prayer aka The Borderlands (with the working title “The Devil Lies Beneath“, which is, perhaps, the most fitting title of all) may appear at first glance to be one of those found footage movies that offers nothing more than the usual and over-used tropes…but this does change, and makes this British horror movie well worth a watch.

 

Final Prayer

 

Writer and director: Elliot Goldner
Also know as: The Borderlands
Country & year: UK, 2013
Actors: Gordon Kennedy, Robin Hill, Aidan McArdle, Sarah Annis, Lee Arnold, Drew Casson, Peter Charlton, Marcus Cunningham, Patrick Godfrey, Kevin Johnson, Luke Neal
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt2781832/

 

 

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Terror (1978)

A lady called Mad Dolly is being chased by some mob in a forest who believe she is a witch. She gets captured and about to get burned at the stake, on order by Lord Garrick. Before they get the chance to lit her on fire, she gives her final speech with silly facial expressions, and summons some demonic forces that causes one of the executioners to catch fire, and then all hell breaks loose. Lord Garrick runs back to his mansion where an arm bursts through the wall and strangles him. Lady Garrick, who wanted to see Mad Dolly dead more than anyone else, finds her Lord dangling from the ceiling. The Lady is then confronted by a resurrected and vengeful Mad Dolly, who chops her head off and gives the most cheesy, evil laugh ever. And only eight minutes in it’s fairly okay to ask what the hell this is.

 

What we just saw was the ending sequence of the fresh, new supernatural horror film by James Garrick, which he screened for some of the cast members. What a load of rubbish, says one guy in the audience. The film is supposed to be based on true events that happened to James’ ancestors 300 years ago, and he has inherited the mansion from Lord and Lady Garrick. The inheritance includes the most important item of all: the sword that chopped the head off the Lord, hanging over the fireplace. While James is throwing a party in his inherited mansion, we meet Gary who can’t stop bragging about who great he is to hypnotize people. He gives a demonstration on Ann, a struggling actress who works for James. Things gets an unexpected turn when she slips into full trance, and picks up the sword and tries to attack James. Ok, party’s over! After she wakes up, she runs out the door and back to the hostel where her roommate sees her on the bathroom, washing her hands for what we can assume is blood.

 

And the morning after, James’ girlfriend Carol is found dead near the woods, knifed to death. James highly suspects that Ann did it after she tried to stab him with the sword the previous night and is determined to expose her.

 

This is an odd, little film, made by the English horror film director Norman J. Warren, known for his obscure low-budget exploitation flicks such as Satan’s Slave (1976), Outer Touch (1979), Inseminoid (1981) and Bloody New Year (1987). With Terror he wanted to make something new since the horror films at that time was pretty much the same, and he took a lot of inspiration from the new wave of Italian Giallo films and his new favorite, Suspiria. The inspirations are clearly visible for sure, with the use of colors, but as a whole there isn’t much new to behold here. And that’s a shame since there’s some potential here with its flexible camera work, gothic imagery and classic, gloomy atmosphere with fog machines and all. It has the visual package, but the script turns it into an unfocused mixed bag of supernatural horror, whodunnit mystery, slasher, cheese and sleaze and God knows what, stitched together frankenstein-style with several long and pointless scenes that drag on for too long.

 

One of the highlights is the scene with Peter Mayhew, who played Chewbacca in a certain film called Star Wars the year before. His appearance comes in the most unexpected moment, it took me completely off guard. And there’s also a scene with a nude stripper in a sleazy bar in London, a long and pointless filler scene. Director Norman J. Warren added this in to make the film more commercial. And he’s really determined to give us shots from all different angles and close-ups so we can enjoy some fresh nudity and forget the rest of the movie for some minutes. But it seemed to work, though, since Terror became a box-office success in England after its release, despite the censorship from Video nasty. A fun little nugget of trivia: the stripper in the film was a real stripper they had to hire because the other stripper who auditioned for the scenes seemed too tired and bored. “She was indeed sexy and scary“, Warren said, and her act was so outrageous, they had to cut part of it because there was no way the censors would let it through.

 

There’s some decent gory moments here, such the traditional knife stabbings, glass panels that falls and chops off a head, a drunk dude who gets fence stabbed and then crushed in a garbage truck. Awesome. And then we have…a flying car. Ok, I didn’t expect that one. The last four minutes is the best part which at least ends with a great, colorful and crazy climax. Not a terrible film, but not great either. As a 70’s oddity it works fine as a curiosity, I guess, and it has its moments. Terror is available on Blu-ray/DVD Combo on amazon.com

 

Terror Terror Terror

 

Director: Norman J. Warren
Country & year: UK, 1978
Actors: John Nolan, Carolyn Courage, James Aubrey, Sarah Keller, Tricia Walsh, Glynis Barber, Michael Craze, Rosie Collins, Chuck Julian, Elaine Ives-Cameron, Patti Love, Mary Maude, William Russell, Peter Craze
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0141897/

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Censor (2021)

censorEnid works as a film censor, and her daily life includes watching some truly brutal and gory movies, choosing what is acceptable for the audience to handle and what should be banned completely. One day she views a movie that makes her believe she can finally solve the mystery of her sister’s disappearance, and she embarks on a quest that blurs the line between what is real and what is not.

 

Censor is a slightly weird little horror movie set in the era of the Video Nasties. If you’re not aware, a “Video Nasty” is a term for movies that were deemed too brutal and inappropriate for people to watch, by the National Viewers’ and Listeners’ Association (NVALA) in the United Kingdom. These movies were typically low-budget horror and exploitation films, often heavily criticized for being too violent and for “influencing” people to commit crimes. These days, most of us have (hopefully) realized that media, whether it be movies, games, music, books or comics, cannot be blamed for people’s crimes…but back in those days, in what could probably be best described as some kind of moral panic, they literally thought that movies like this could cause an increase in crime.

 

The idea of a censor, watching tons of material that includes brutal and gruesome things, going bonkers him/herself in the end, is an idea that has already been wonderfully exploited in Sweden’s Evil Ed. Censor isn’t some kind of Evil Edna or anything like that, however…instead, it presents a surreal and creepy downwards spiraling experience of a woman whose trauma manifests and ultimately consumes her.

 

Visually, there’s a lot of nice things to rest your eyes on during the film. Many scenes blends the surrealism with a great use of lighting and colors, making it vibrant and eerie at the same time. Enid’s character is also well put together, coming off as a strong woman who doesn’t even flinch at the grotesque scenes she is witnessing at her job, but instead makes calculated notes about what can be kept and what needs to go, might even be considered a little bit prudish. But the trauma of her sister’s disappearance is always lurking underneath the surface, just waiting to break out into the open. And there is one film she watches that actually opens the crack, which is called Don’t Go in the Church. Enid becomes convinced that one of the actresses is her missing sister, and she becomes hell-bent on finding her. What she really finds is true madness instead.

 

Censor is not a film for everyone, and if you expect another Evil Ed you will probably be disappointed. It is, however, a strangely bizarre and enthralling experience.

 

Censor

 

Director: Prano Bailey-Bond
Country & year: UK, 2021
Actors: Niamh Algar, Michael Smiley, Nicholas Burns, Vincent Franklin, Sophia La Porta, Sophia La Porta, Clare Holman, Andrew Havill, Felicity Montagu, Danny Lee Wynter, Clare Perkins, Guillaume Delaunay, Richard Glover, Erin Shanagher, Beau Gadsdon
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt10329614/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul