Saturday, 11 May 2019

Clown Motel: Spirits Arise (2019)

Clown Motel: Spirits Arise (2019)Online Screener

Written and Directed by Joseph Kelly 

Stars: Martin Kleba, Elinor Price, Chalet Lizette Brannan, Julie Anne Prescott, Alyssa Leonard, Amanda Knott,  Angeline Mirenda, Steven Vogel, Trevor Dow, Rachael Christenson with Tony Moran and Ari Lehman

Set in the actual Clown Motel in Tonopah Nevada (quite rightly named Americas scariest motel) this movie is going to be a coulrophobes worst nightmare. Not just one crazed clown, not two, loads of the murderous bastards! Not only that but the on location shoot gives audiences a terrifying look at the motel itself which is practically adorned with clown dolls, clown pictures and clown memorabilia. Being someone who had a screaming fit during the clown scene in Poltergeist when I was little, I had to remind myself that I'm NOT scared of clowns anymore. Well clowns are still bloody scary no matter how much the years have softened that particular trauma!

Joseph Kelly the filmmaker behind the movie has been making solid horror films and shorts for some time now - I loved Bloody island - and so it was exciting to hear that he would be making this AND shooting at the motel itself.

The plot of the movie concerns a group of hardy ghost hunters who descend upon the motel amidst stories of the dead townsfolk who used to live in the area which incidentally now is considered a ghost town.

Faced with a stay in a quite frankly terrifying environment the team get to work but as we all know in a horror movie they will wish they had stayed home. As scary encounters begin, with an overweight clown scene being a particularity chilling standout, the group realise they are going to have to fight for their lives.

Once the evil that haunts the motel becomes apparent, there are some really cool and nasty gore scenes and I applaud Joseph and his team for using practical effects to excellent results. I don't want to spoil anything but will just highlight the involvement of an axe and a gnarly tongue related scene.

As well as starring Tony Moran, the original adult Micheal Myers AND Ari Lehman the young Jason Voorhees who dragged poor Alice into the water ("then he 's still there....") the movie has a a great cast. The females in particular are pretty kick ass with  Amanda Knott  as Casey being a real standout. I also thought that Eric Prochnau  as Spencer  gave a great performance as a truly luckless member of the group. He finds himself in a really horrific situation and I think he portrayed sheer terror excellently. Elinor Price is also great as the level headed and tough as nails Brooke.

Joseph Kelly has made a superb new horror film with a great cast, a creepy story and fantastic aesthetics. The lingering shots on the colourful clown dolls and the disturbing makeup of the killer clowns is just spot on.

Check out the offical Facebook page HERE to find out more about it and its imminent release! I'm also just going to be cheeky and ask right now for a sequel!

*Images taken from the official Clown Motel Indiegogo page with permission from the filmmaker* 

Friday, 8 February 2019

Triggered (2019)

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Online screener

Written and Directed by Chris Moore

Stars:  Meredith Mohler, Jesse Dalton, Sam Furman, Keni Bounds, Arian Thigpen, Caitlyn Driscoll and Amanda Wyss. 

I'm so pleased that I was given the opportunity to review this solid indie horror film - I can safely say I was as blown away by the movie as I was by its awesome trailer!

Triggered in short is a slasher movie with an original story and a fascinating array of characters who help to drive the film to its bloody conclusion.

Featuring a pair of high school friends Callie (Meredith Mohler in a scene stealing performance) and Ian (Jessie Dalton) who are only too aware of their towns macabre history decide to use a previous horrific massacre to their advantage. Obviously I wont spoil why they do this but the film finds Callie and Ian faking a vicious attack by the towns uncaught serial killer which backfires spectacularly when the real killer comes for them - and they are NOT happy.

I just want to talk about Callie a bit more. My god if you went to school with this girl you would end up in jail for murder. She is so annoying. Utterly obsessed with cutting down anyone and everyone who might offend those in minority groups, other ethnicity's, etc, Callie does not know when to stop. I'm a gay male and I definitely would find it hard not to strangle someone who was like Callie in real life. However it is this that makes Triggered even more of a standout movie. Yes the world can be shit at times and yes people are hateful and abusive but we have gone so extreme in regards to political correctness that sometimes it feels safer just not to speak at all. What happened to dark humour and banter? Soon any form of comedy will just be banned and life will become REALLY boring. I really appreciated this aspect to the film.

The acting was superb in this film. As mentioned Meredith Mohler does an amazing job as Callie. This actress has some true comedic chops and she has the ability to go really far - she so deserves it. Keni Bounds is a fucking HOOT as Callie's mother and made me laugh every time she was on screen. Jessie Dalton plays Ian brilliantly as an unsure young gay man who seems to just want to find happiness and also has a rather withering view on Callie's extremities.Likewise Sam Furman turns in a great performance as the hot alpha male who is even better when he shows a more vulnerable side to his personality. Plus Jessie and Sam have a fantastic chemistry which only serves to make you more invested in them as characters. Amanda Wyss - ahhh how wonderful to see her in a movie again. I always felt that Amanda brought something really special to poor Tina Gray in A Nightmare on Elm Street. Her short performance made her so much more than just the disposable friend of the final girl and I will always treasure her character as someone who was clearly going to die but that I rooted for all the way. Here Amanda plays the alcohol dependent Principle Gloria Fielding and she is a revelation. She so effortlessly veers from comedy to drama that I loved her character immediately and her scenes with Meredith are just golden. All round great casting here - Caitlyn Driscoll as rich bitch Lisa and her catty friends are also hilarious fun.

Chris Moore 100% knows his genre. There are so many brilliant nods to other horror films in this movie that you should have a great time trying to catch them all. It also nicely defies conventions (a fair bit of male nudity) and it has a playful use of vivid colours such as Callies hot pink wig. Chris has a big future ahead of him if he can make a movie at almost two hours this entertaining from start to finish!

Triggered is well worth your time, its funny, bloody and original and it so deserves your attention! Check it out when it gets released on VOD/DVD for a guaranteed great time.

Saturday, 2 February 2019

Wretch (2018)

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Written by Brian Cunningham and Janel Nash

Directed by Brian Cunningham

Stars: Riker Hill, Spencer Korcz and Megan Massie 

A film that proves drugs really ARE bad, Wretch is a found footage style (partially anyway) creeper which befits greatly from a mysterious unfolding plot and strong performances.

A strange friendship group is present in Wretch which makes it hard to figure out if we should be rooting for anyone (or maybe none of them) but it does add to the mystery. Abby and Caleb are a couple rife with issues - he's a disgusting cheat and she seems to be horribly under his thumb. Enter Riker, a guy who Caleb doesn't want anywhere near his girl, a fact he doesn't hide well.

With this odd and blatantly toxic dynamic established the three go out to the woods (yep uh-oh) to do some drinking and hard drugs. What none of them count on is the horrific mystery which will follow when they awaken - this is no ordinary comedown!

The events upon awakening is a trip for both the three main characters and the audience as we watch their lives unravel- all the while being treated to flashbacks to their time in those woods. Audiences will get sucked into the story as they wonder why really happened that night, did the drugs do something awful to them or did something more sinister happen? I love a film that keeps you guessing and Wretch sure did that.

As mentioned the cast do a great job - Spencer Korcz plays the unfaithful jerk so well its difficult to like him in any way and Megan Massie is fantastic as the damaged Abby. Riker Hill who plays..well enigmatic and mysterious and great fun to watch.

The film has a great structure in terms of its style - it opens a la cinema verite with Caleb shooting everything but as the story changes angle so does the camera work. Brian has a great sense of direction with eerie shots and ominous closeups of the three main characters.

I look forward to what Brian Cunningham comes up with next, he has a great understanding of what makes compelling and complex viewing and for that reason I think there is going to be some really great stuff to come from him.

Wretch is out NOW and can be found on most VOD platforms (Googleplay, Youtube, Amazon etc ). I strongly recommend checking this one out - I don't think its comparable to any other horror film out there at the moment and that is a great thing.

Saturday, 3 November 2018

Bannister DollHouse (2019)

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Written and directed by Mj Dixon

Stars: Tiana Rogers, Susan Lee Burton, Emmeline Kellie, Grant Kempster, Chloe Badham, 

Online screener copy

MYCHO productions have not one but TWO upcoming horror features - Cleavers a gory trip to hell  and this- a more psychologically geared suspense thriller which plays on the fear of (shudder) dolls:

After the death of their eldest sister the girls of Bannister family begin to feel that something is very wrong, but how is it connected to them and how will they survive the nightmare that is the Bannister DollHouse.

This film takes it cue from some of the more dread building, atmospheric horror films of the 70s rather than an in your face gore fest and I think it works very well.

The featured doll arrives within the Bannister family home under mysterious circumstances (in a wonderfully creepy home video opening scene)  and slowly a web of horror envelopes the Bannister family leaving no one untouched.

From the official synopsis you will note that a terrible tragedy strikes the family and it is after this that the cloud of despair really falls over the remaining members parents Mary and Kenneth and daughters Dotty and Molly. The haunting memories of Sherry Bannister's death and the disturbing behaviour of Molly  - who incidentally has become dangerously attached to the doll - will either bring them back together or destroy them all for good.

It is this family focused battle against evil which harks back to some of the creepier 70s horror films such as Burnt Offerings which gives the film its heart. Unlike a slasher movie where there are usually some extremely kill-able characters, Bannister Doll House has you rooting for the remaining family to escape the terror that has them under its spell. Whether they succeed or succumb is for you to find out as I don't want to spoil anything else about the fate of the main characters.

The actors playing the family all do a good job especially Emmeline Kellie who plays middle sister  Dotty. Tiana Rogers also turns in a creepy as hell performance as youngest daughter Molly, the recipient of the doll that seems to be tearing her family apart.

An eerie story with some genuine moments of suspense, Bannister DollHouse is bound to appeal to those who like a good old fashioned haunted house film or enjoy the intrigue of a supposedly inanimate object which might just not really be. There were many moments I anticipated a jump scare which reminded me of my first time watching Childs Play - anxiously awaiting the moment the damn doll would actually prove himself to be alive/possessed to those other than Andy...

The film premieres at the Horror on Sea film festival in Southend on 20th January 2019 which I am sure the MYCHO goes would be delighted to see you at.  For more on MYCHO please visit their website where you can find out about them, read about their work and purchase lots of great stuff!

Friday, 2 November 2018

Cleavers (2019)

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Online screener version

Written and directed by MJ Dixon

Stars:Georgie Smibert, Gemma Louise Troughton, Paul Rogers,  Jessica Michelle Smith, Holly-Anne Dodkins, Kimberly Lasi, Matthew Baunsgard, Derek Nelson, Olivia Krys, Jimi James, Ben Manning

Its always a pleasure to hear from the talented folks over at MYCHO who have been making independent horror features in the UK for many years now. 2016 slasher thriller Cleaver: Rise of the Killer Clown explored the back story of the titular maniacal clown first seen in the claustrophobic fright fest Slasher House (2012).

In Cleavers the bloody nightmare expands to include a new set of victims, an important returning character from the previous film and even more terrifying clown action. From the official synopsis:

Jody Ann Howells, a survivor of the Still Rivers Massacre now working in Bail Enforcement, is on the trail of her latest perp, a young woman who is on the run after being found on the scene of a horrific murder, a young woman who may be connected to her past.

As Howells closes in on her she discovers that the killer she faced all those years ago may still be alive and kicking and he has his sights on a family making a cross country road trip, only this time he's not alone.

One thing that MJ Dixon does incredibly well and continues to do so in this film is feature different narrative strands that eventually come together. While returning actress Georgie Smibert as Jody-Ann Howells investigates a gruesome murder, a bickering and highly dysfunctional family are driving straight towards their worst nightmare. These characters on are course for collision, not just with each other but with the dreaded Cleaver and others.....

Cleavers gives a more action orientated angle to the original stalk and slash film (all though there is plenty of that still). Inspired by horror road trip movies such as Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Hills Have Eyes, this movie gets the gore to go as blood is shed and alliances are tested on a horrifying journey. Much like the films that influence it only the strongest will survive and its not just the physical trials they are put through, there are some truly traumatic things that some of the characters are exposed to and it would be fascinating to see how their lives may have changed in a future film.

The creepy clown imagery present in Cleaver is cranked up a notch here which is great to see - if you hated clowns before this film will sadly not help you with that. There are some other grotesque surprises as well which gave me the creeps as the film barrels towards its conclusion. A job well done on the horror imagery! Of course with a movie titled as this is you can expect some nasty grue and gore and the special effects in this film are fun and practical.

I would also add that although not essential, its a good idea to watch Cleaver first as the back story of Carlton Layton (Cleaver) important and gives the viewer some insight into his relationships, particularly with one character which I don't want to spoil in any detail. Suffice to say murderous tendencies really do run in the family.

MYCHO always do a bang up job with their presentation - everything from their internet campaigns to the finished product are detailed labours of love. This is ever present here and for fans who have followed the Indiegogo for this, or any of the previous films, you are treated to an interactive experience where characters are unlocked over the course of the campaigns, the production company keep fans well informed and the movie always comes to fruition no matter what the obstacles. They really do deserve a heck of a lot of credit for what they do and its been amazing for me to interact with the guys behind MYCHO over the years.

Finally can I just add that I truly love the MYCHO universe that MJ Dixon has built up over the past decade. He has put so much hard work and passion for the genre in creating a series of despicable killers, haunted heroes/heroines and twisted timelines which gives the opportunity to tell so many stories. There is also the potential for so many new stories within this dark and dangerous world. Having no idea where MJ and co may go next and with which character(s) is just part of the fun.

The film premieres at the Horror on Sea film Festival in Southend on Saturday 12th January 2019. Go and see it and support great indie horror! For more on MYCHO  and how to buys their movies also check out their official website.

Friday, 22 June 2018

Dead by Midnight -11pm Central (2018)

Directed by Torey Haas,  Eric Davis, Jay Holloway, Anissa Matlock, Tony Reames

Written by Davi Crimmins, Greg Garrison, Torey Haas, Jay Holloway, Anissa Matlock, Melissa Oulton-Haas,Tony Reames

Stars: Erin Brown, Hannah Fierman, Ronny Mathew, Davi Crimmins, Avri Bartolozzi, Joesph Lavender, Andrew Pluckett, Emma Greene, Dajour  Ashwood, Melissa Oulton-Haas, Jillian-Van Blair, Jenni McCarthy, Anissa Matlock, Maxton Jones, Kate Biddle, Micheal Aaron Milligan, Dayna Beilenson 

(Online screener)

Huge thanks to the guys behind Dead by Midnight -11pm Central  for sending me a link to review what I found to be an extremely fun horror anthology.

The film follows the usual format of several standalone segments tied together with a wraparound plot. However the wonderfully refreshing spin that Dead by Midnight puts on their overarching story and its effects on the other short films is what makes it an inventive standout.

I wont go into any kind of spoiler territory other than to outline the wraparound and briefly describe/rate the short stories.

Wraparound/Dead Air: 

A TV station on Halloween Night runs into some real trouble when the always incredible Erin Brown comes on board as horror movie marathon host 'Mistress of Midnight'. It seems that the films she is screening is starting to be populated by members of the TV station staff and this leaves Line Prodcuer Candice Spelling (Hannah Fierman) to investigate just what the hell is going on...more on this later, lets get onto the five tales of terror first:

Jersey Devil:

Jersey Devil is a gooey. gory love letter to the 80s, telling the tale of  young girl  named Emma (Avri Bartolozzi) who has the misfortune of being hunted by the legendary pine barren demon. This all comes about after Emmas sister lets a roughed up Dani (Davi Crimmins) into their home. The acting is pretty fantastic here and Avri and Davi in particular really shine. The mythical creature known as the Jersey Devil looks amazing and far more evil and menacing than I imagined it might look like (should it really exist....). Super fun and gross in equal measure.

Creepy Dolls:

Who doesn't love a horror story about dolls? Well Pediophobics probably...but most horror fans love a good story about eerie inanimate objects who may well have something dangerous lurking inside them. Creepy Dolls is, I kid not, FULL of dolls. Clown dolls, baby dolls, rag dolls you name it they are in this story. The three hapless investigators who have the misfortune of entering the home of these devilish playthings are in for a true night of terror. Another great short which absolutely lives up it title.

Lost Laundry:

So Lost Laundry....what a wonderfully odd little story. Two warring roommates (one is a nice,. sensible person, the other a total bitch) are further pitted against one another when Aprils (Melissa Oulton) clothes keep vanishing and she suspects snarky Amy (Jillian-Van Blair). Things just get stranger and stranger until the bat shit bonkers finale. With great performances by both leads and an insane climax this was one of the more silly and fun segments on offer.

Day Three: 

With a fine performance by Anissa Matlock as 'Ellie' Day Three is a thrilling, race against the clock piece where a young women is desperate to rid herself of the 'thing' growing inside her. Following a harrowing abduction Ellie has been rescued but is insistent that her recently discovered pregnancy be terminated. Forced into house arrest after a violent altercation with her doctor, Ellie knows she must pull out all the stops to rid herself of what is three days...or else... This is another great short film with some awesome effects and a true body horror vibe like you would find in the 80s (think From Beyond, Street Trash, Body Melt).

Blind Side:

This segment plays out as an eerie mystery featuring Jenni McCarthy (not that one) as Rebecca - a young women who is both madly in love with her beau Evan (Maxton Jones) and blind as a bat without her glasses. You may wonder whats one got to do with the other well....lets just say they do during the run time of this short film.

Rebecca is staying at her boyfriends home while he is away on business - the night takes a terrifying turn when she wakes up unable to find her glasses and realises she is not alone. Things just get worse for Rebecca from there on, leading to her stumbling across a horrifying secret that may just make her wish she had stayed single forever.

The ending of Blind Side was bleak and upsetting and made me feel the same type of despair as the grotesque ending to the amazing horror short Terrifer . Jenni McCarthy nailed this role and the feeling of hopelessness this short left me with as as much down to her as it is the macabre script.

I really loved this story and although its in no way 'fun' its a brilliant horror piece.


I really enjoyed Dead By Midnight every short has something to recocomend it and the wrapsround is awesome. It even features the wonderful Hannah Fierman (V/H/S, Siren) in the lead role and it is great to see her play a different character to THAT terrifying winged creature. The whole cast are great though and you can tell they had a blast making this film. Its full of grizzly practical effects, stop motion and nods to all things 80s - so basically a great great horror anthology. I cant wait to see more from these guys honestly.

Please do head over to the official Facebook page and show the guys some love: 

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Terrifier (2017)

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(Online Screener)
Written and directed by Damian Leone
Stars:  Jenna Kanell, Samantha Scaffidi, Katie Maguire, Catherine Corcoran and David Howard Thornton as 'Art the Clown'

Theatrical Previews 3/15 with a VOD release to follow on the 3/27 - courtesy of Epic Pictures.

Many thanks indeed to Epic Pictures for letting me check out what must be my most anticipated horror film in a long time. 

I haven't been so horrified and freaked out by a horror movie villain in recent years more so than I was when I watched 2013 anthology, All Hallows Eve. Said movie featured a terrifying Art the Clown throughout the film in small appearances and then he gets his own full on segment at the end. That particular segment is one hell of a 20 minute ride as Art pursues a young girl who soon finds it impossible to get rid of this malevolent menace. The short film had horrific gore, jumps, great acting and one humongous kick to the balls ending. I don't want to give away any spoilers but do implore you to check out All Hallows Eve and witness just how easily Damien Leone turns what could be a very simple splatterfest into SO much more.

Anyway onto the feature length at hand which has been adapted from that short TERRIFIER . In this movie Art terrorises a pair of female friends after a night out and its safe to say this violent attack extends to anyone who dares get in his wayWhen it comes to scary, Art the Clown is in a league of his very own. Seriously. I would rather have lunch with Pennywise any day than the misfortune of running into this grotesque horror. He's sick, sadistic and  violently insane, laughing  with a disturbingly silent fervor as he mutilates, stabs and  much worse. 

Acting wise this is a solid film all round. Katie Maguire who also starred in the All Hallows Eve wraparound is incredible here. She gets to the play a completely different type of character than in the previously mentioned film and she does it extremely well. Although her screen time is limited, Katie manages to pull off perhaps the performance of the film aside from the guy playing Art. Onto Art, David Howard Thornton as brilliant. Insanely good. He is not the same actor who played Art previously but he is equally as good at playing such a fearsome psychopath. He should be proud of striking fear into the hearts of horror fans for years to come. Jenna Kanell, Samantha Scaffidi, Catherine Corcoran who play the lead three characters all do a great job as the unwitting victms of Arts bloodlust. Samantha in particular who arrives a bit late to the 'party' becomes quite the determined fighter although to say much more would be far too spoilery.

The film is exceptionally well scored. It is reminiscent of the original Halloween in some respects but also jolting and very original in others. It definitely serves the film perfectly. I cannot wait to see what Damien Leone does next as this film is an indicator as to what an excellent horror writer and director he is.

This is a horror movie fans worst nightmare and dream come true all rolled into one. Exciting, scary as hell and with a cruel streak a mile long. But you love it anyway. Would I like to see a TERRIFIER 2? Hell yes!  Would I want to see a origin story...NO...Art is far more terryifing knowing nothing about him and him just...being there.

This is a MUST see. 

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