Saturday 29 October 2011

The Echo Game (2009)

Directed by Brian Feeney

Written by Brian Feeney

Stars: Alisha Seaton, Jeannie Bolet, Melissa Lee and Judy Clement as ‘Anne Cassavettes’

DVD Release date: June 7 2011 (USA)

First time director Brian Feeney serves up the slasher shocks and intriguing supernatural horror with the effective little indie flick The Echo Game.

Life is pretty sweet for lesbian couple April Reilly, Casey Lin and their daughter Sarah until a visit from the police disrupts their happy existence forever. It appears that Rachel, Aprils former lover and biological mother to Sarah may have faked her own death in order to protect her family – but from what? It soon transpires that a rogue, not to mention extremely wanted scientist, Anne Cassavettes, has a very special interest in the missing in action Rachel and after confronting Rachel at the start of the movie turns her murderous glare to the unsuspecting Sarah. Without giving too much away, The Echo Game spins a gruesome yarn of cat and mouse as the close knit family attempt to evade the maniacal Cassavettes and her menacing henchmen.  A complex plot involving psychic abilities serves to enhance the narrative and ensure much more meat on the bones than your usual slasher film. The movie delivers a number of highly effective, set piece murder scenes along the short running time, including the cruel yet creative slashing upon a bubbly nurse.  A tense and bloody showdown at the end finish this impressively fast paced little flick with a satisfying yet slightly sombre note and it would be fantastic to see a sequel which builds on the aftermath of what has transpired.

Impressive performances raise the bar of the film with Alisha Seaton and Jeannie Bolet as April Reilly and Casey Lin proving effective as the concerned/distraught parents and Judy Clement both excels and terrifies with her cold, calculating and downright vicious turn as Anne Cassavettes.  The Echo Game also completely belies its low budget, it’s filmed extremely well  and suffers none of the well known indie pitfalls such as bad sound and aimless performances. It’s an engaging, interesting and often shock filled horror yarn, which I think a lot of viewers, will be impressed with/surprised by. Look the movie up on Facebook and via its official site: - and then go grab a copy of the DVD!

June 9 (2008)

(Screener Copy)

Directed by T.Michael Conway

Written by T.Michael Conway

Stars:  Jon Ray, Trevor Williams, Maggie Blazunas, Alasha Wright and Chad Vincent

Ahhh.... my favourite sub genre of the moment – the found footage horror flick. June 9 was shot in 2008 and is the product of Director Tim Michael Conway and a film that I eagerly sought out once I heard of its existence.  Through talking to Tim, a genuinely lovely guy, it turned out that the movie had sadly never received its official, and planned, DVD release. It has however been shown on cable in the United States and I see that it now also has a pay per view option on now so lucky viewers stateside can get their mitts on this movie – I therefore recommend that you do so now! Tim was nice enough to send me a copy of a movie which I am ever grateful for – I just hope it gets an official DVD release soon as it’s an unsettlingly creepy and very worthy entry into the sub genre.

Based around a group of five mischievous friends, the movie follows a summer spent playing pranks on passer bys (and each other) while driving around town. Boredom eventually leads the group to darker territories when then they happen upon the town of Boston Mills, nicknamed ‘Hell Town’ by some. Here the group’s fun loving nature is not at all appreciated by the odd folk who reside there, and it’s this lack of appreciation boiling over into something darker which is the key focus of the movie.  Several creepy moments fairly early on are just small teases of the bloodshed to come. There is a very unsettling sighting in the woods at night, an intensely creepy CB radio message and the most terrifying house break scene you will have seen in a movie of this kind yet.  Nothing of note happens to any of our main characters during this sequence but it really does beg the question of what might have been and also what were those other people doing in that house?  It’s a downright chilling sequence and certainly stays with you.

The end of the movie brings the horror in spades and those viewers, who felt short changed by the Blair Witch Projects climax, should find plenty to enjoy here as the kids pay violently for their intrusive behaviour. Turns out that one of the girls missing purses really wasn’t worth retrieving. The ending is a jaw dropper indeed; it’s completely brutal, uncompromising and disturbing. Watching teenagers killed in such a loving way by the perpetrators really serves as a true horror movie event.  On the back of the ending I would love to see some form of sequel or maybe even prequel that goes into more detail about the townsfolk of Boston Mills and their motives and ideals.

A really solid entry into the found footage sub genre and a huge shame that it’s not *yet* more widely known.  I can’t wait to see what Tim Michael Conway might come up with next, he clearly knows what scares us and I hope to see many more great things from him.

Tuesday 11 October 2011

PANMAN (2011)


(Screener Copy)

Directed by Tim Pilleri (Bucket of Blood Films).
Written by Tim Pilleri

Stars: G. Larry Butler, Talia Tabin, Tina Molina, Tim Pilleri.
His blood is boiling....

Who DOESNT want to see a horror movie about a pan headed serial killer? I was personally sold as soon as I discovered that PANMAN would indeed feature a pan headed maniac with a penchant for kitchen utensil related carnage. 
While the premise of the movie may come off as mindless 80’s style horror fare (not a bad thing mind), there is actually far more going on in this movie than the average horror fan may expect. You have a love story complete with (violent) break up, outrageous (yet highly effective) comedy and a fleshed out back story to explain the history of our saucepan-wearing slasher.  In essence the movie features a psycho slashing, demon chef who has been bumping off Culinary School students (run by the zany professor Hunter) for years.  But there are people out there who know PANMAN’S secrets and they have a little plan in place to take him out for good. ......
As one might expect PANMAN is a horror comedy. Horror comedy isn’t an easy task to pull off because, as we all know, one element (often both) fails miserably to complement the other. In the case of some films I think it would have been safer to stick to either the scares – or the laughs. Tim Pilleri, the man behind this often hilarious gem, doesn’t need to worry about that usually ill fitting dynamic. While there aren’t any real scares as such, the horror elements are handled brilliantly, in particular the opening scene. Everything from the score, the atmosphere, the cheesy dialogue and finally the creative kills just screamed 80’s slasher flick. This in turn was followed up by the kind of cool title sequence you might see in an old Stuart Gordon flick.  Consistently permeated with a sharp sense of humour along with some out and out spoof gags (funeral cake anyone) there is never really a moment to long for another splash of blood amidst the comedy.
It would be an injustice not to point out how well shot PANMAN  is. It’s clear and crisp and the direction is spot on, particularly in the stalking scenes.  The acting was also pretty good with the bonkers and eventually crazed   Professor Hunter and sweet yet vengeful Justice being clear standouts. The PANMAN  hit squad were all fun to watch and it makes a nice change to see these falling foul of the demon chefs murderous antics in the climax rather than a bunch of squabbling teenagers. Not that there aren’t any squabbling teenagers biting the big one - it’s just not all about them. And it works.
All in all PANMAN  is an effective and fun horror comedy featuring the most brilliantly absurd of new horror icons. As I said before, Who DOESNT want to see a horror movie about a pan headed serial killer? I can’t wait to see what Tim and his team come up with next – maybe a PANMAN sequel? Or the creation of another kitchen utensil related serial killer?? I would bet there are many ideas a-cooking so watch this space! Also please do support the movie if you can – hopefully news of a distribution deal is forthcoming so you can lay your greasy paws on a PANMAN  DVD and bring the horror home.  
More details on the film and Director Tim Pilleri can be found this-a-way: so check it out!