Friday 24 May 2013

The Crann Doll (2013) (Short)

(Screener Copy)

Directed by J. Michael Whalen

Written by J. Michael Whalen

Stars: John C. Bailey, Teena Byrd, Sarah Lomke, Nicholas Wagner.

Many thanks to director J.Michael Whalen for sending me a DVD copy of his short horror film The Crann Doll. The film will soon part of the holiday themed horror anthology - MERRY F@#KING CHRISTMAS (awesome name) and I was only too delighted to check the film out, particularly after seeing a few stills of the titular doll, which looks a bit like a murderous rabbit!

Viewers who like gore and action may not be too impressed with The Crann Doll and I don't mean this in a negative way against the film its just a fact - the film relies on a build up to an eerie final shot where the viewer is left wondering what may happen next. Very much to its the credit the film succeeds in the build up due to interesting characters and an ominous atmosphere.

So the plot - disgustingly rude and mean spirited Allen (John C. Bailey) is stopped by a a young couple out on the road, Bedillia and Alosious Crann (Sarah Lomke and Nicholas Wagner  who are desperate for help for their young baby. Allen is not in the helpful mood it would be fair to say and gives Alosious a really hard time and demands payment of some kind to in order for him to agree to take the pair and sick child into town. After a painful exchange between the two, Allen makes it clear he doesn't trust the pair and isn't prepared to help and drives off...however this then causes an even more horrific tragedy to befall the young Crann child, devastating the young parents. Allen of course drives off.

Fast forward three months and Allen is at home in the company of drugs and a prostitute (Teena Byrd) ready  to live it up. Being Christmas and the time for giving Allen is surprised to find a mystery package turn up at him apartment. The gift turns out to be the Crann Doll of the title, a mean looking little bugger and sadly for Allen a gift from the Crann couple from months prior....

Allen's female company for the evening decides to scarper when she realises who the gift is from - it seems the Crann family are very dangerous and certainly not to be messed with. Considering what Allen did to them.... well.......

As it said before there is not much in the way of action in this short, not where pay off is concerned anyway. The ending is creepy and its made quite clear that our unlovable lead Allen is in big trouble. I would love to see a feature film or maybe an extended short continuing the story of the Crann Doll as there is huge potential here for a good, scary killer toy film.

The performances were really good also with John C. Bailey the obvious stand out as the despicable Allen - John is great to watch as one of horror films most unsympathetic and cruel men, but his character also makes you want to reach into the TV and throttle him.

I am most certainly eager to see more of J. Michael Whalen's work and am also really looking forward to watching this film again as part of the full anthology that it will form part of!

Tuesday 21 May 2013

Chill (2012)

(Screener Copy)

Directed by: Noelle Bye and Meredith Holland

Written by: Meredith Holland (additional writing by Noelle Bye and Roger Conners)

Produced by Noelle Bye, Roger Conners and Meredith Holland

Stars: Roger Conners, Brad Arner, Angelia DeLuca, Kelly Rogers, David Gilmore, Erinn Bakun, DJ Remark, Mike Kafury, Jason Orr, Wednesday Vinson, Ash Katt with Bella Sin, Rick Montgomery Jr, Janine Sarnowski.

I was SO excited and pleased to be given the chance to screen and review the final cut of upcoming horror film Chill. This is following my review of the one hour rough cut that I had the opportunity to check out earlier this year.

I guess the main question is did the movie as a whole live up to that great first hour? Well that would be a resounding YES!  In actual fact the second half of Chill builds on the mystery and suspense racheted up in the first hour (not to mention great character development) into a gory, action packed slasher fest. Not to say it doesn't prolong the overall mystery until the very end as it absolutely does. In fact the film does such a good job at churning out the twists, turns and surprises that I was regularly kept on my toes. There was one thing I thought I had figured out from the previous cut and I was actually right...but then there was so much else I didn't expect or see coming and I really do give the guys behind Chill their due for this.

As mentioned in the previous review the plot centres on college student Jared (Brad Arner) who coerces his best pal Kyle (Co writer and producer Roger Conners) into helping him stage a web broadcasted game called Chill. The game is an interactive murder mystery which is notorious (and banned) on campus due to the unsolved killings of a group of students playing the same game years before. As Jared sets up his 'Chill revival', his 'cast' assemble, ready to play the game - unfortunately so does a mysterious killer, intent on making bloody history repeat itself.

I cant say enough about some of the great acting and brilliant characters in Chill. In fact this time around I really fell in love with the character of Maddison (Angelia DeLuca). She is just a great, fun character with layers to her personality which I really appreciated. I spent a great deal of the film enjoying her sarcastic comments and slightly mean spirited sense of humour to then be rooting for her to escape the killers grasp when she proved herself to be a caring human being. Go Maddie.  Brad Arner as Jared and Roger Conners as Kyle were great as the sparring best friends and many of their spats are just hilarious. Roger Conners really pulls out some fighting spirit as the film spins towards it dark finale. I LOVED 'Chi Chi' (Bella Sin) and also the journalist Kelly Masters character (Erinn Bakun).

The film is especially well made for an indie production. The cinematography is particularly great and this is demonstrated very well when the opening credits start to roll and we follow Kyles journey from the college to a local library. I cant tell you how impressed I was with the writing also - great one liners, great humour and perfect interactions between the varying personalities locked together in what will soon become a fight for survival. 

A well written, acted and produced horror mystery which I can promise will keep you on your toes throughout -you really need to keep up to date on the progress of Chill's release. Here is a link to the official Facebook page - get liking the page and stay up to date! When your chance comes to see the film - TAKE IT.

Friday 17 May 2013

Masks (2011)

(Screener Copy)

Directed by Andreas Marschall

Written by by Andreas Marschall

Stars: Susen Ermich, Julita Witt, Sonali Weiderhofer, Michael Siller and Norbert Losch.

Many thanks to Ivo Scheloske of Anolis Entertainment for sending me a screener copy of Andreas (Tears of Kali) Marschall’s new horror/thriller Masks.  The German produced Masks, has been tipped as a murder mystery very much playing homage to the Giallo greats of the 1970s/80s and I am pleased to say that the film very much succeeds in this respect.  

The plot follows young Stella, a below par actress who wants to make it big but has become extremely frustrated at her growing number of failed auditions for drama schools.  Following a tip off Stella auditions for the ominous looking ‘Matteusz Gdula’ school in the hope that she will finally get into a good school. The audition itself goes pretty horribly but to Stella’s surprise (this can never be a good thing) she is invited to study at the school.  Unfortunately the school is home to a deep dark secret, a secret which someone, black gloved hands and all, is willing to kill violently to protect. The increasing bodycount very much appears to be related to the suicide of the schools founder Matteusz Gdula, a man who employed a very questionable method of ‘bringing out the best’ in his students.  

The events of the past are creeping back into the present as Stella comes across a young, terrified looking fellow student Cecile who lets on that she has been removed from normal classes to study ‘The method’. Shortly after this Cecile disappears and following a fight with another classmate, Stella finds herself faced with two options; expulsion, or the chance to take Cecile’s place as student of the notorious method of Gdula. This takes Stella to a very dark place indeed, away from the other students as she is pumped full of some type of drug, put through horrifying rituals and is watched by a mystery assailant from afar.  As several people start to get too close to the truth, the nasty murders start to escalate and it all builds to a shocking and bloody climax as the killer is unmasked and the truth about the school and its murky past are full reveale

Masks has a lot of great things going for it. The atmosphere and colouring is so reminiscentof the great giallo’s of the past that I felt like I was watching a lost Argento film or something along those lines. Andreas Marschall and his team have clearly used an impressive attention to detail in their presentation of the film and I for one was really taken aback by the authenticity of it all. The direction is also top notch and almost experimental in places which I very much appreciated, being a big fan offbeat and gruesome murder mysterys.

The kills are as bloody and gruesome as you might expect with some incredibly nasty sword impalings and stabbings; the double killing about 30 minutes in being a true highlight and is easily going to appease gore hounds.

The acting in the film is also great. Susen Ermich makes for a captivating heroine as the horribly misguided Stella. Susen plays Stella with an interesting mixture of fragile and fearless and it is this that makes watching the character get deeper involved in the unfolding horrors that much more riveting. Sonali Weidenhofer delivers a brilliant performance as mean girl Valeri (hey every school has to have one) and you know that for every nasty comment and spiteful look, she is edging closer and closer to a gory fate. Julita Witt likewise breaths an eerie and tragic life into the character of Cecile, a young girl so drawn into the dark underbelly of the school that it may already be too late for her. The teachers at the school are all suitably mysterious and often creepy and truly bring to mind the great Suspiria.

Check out the films official Facebook HERE to find out more about how YOU might be able to see this great piece of indie cinema soon. The film has been released to DVD in Germany (no English subtitles I am afraid) but I know talks are ongoing for wider distribution so STAY TUNED. 

FINDING OBLIVION A 'near-future' web-feature from Jason Hawkins

Gravestone Entertainment appears to be working all hours under the sun at the moment with all the exciting projects they have afoot! You may recall my recent article highlighting the insanely awesome trailer for their new feature film The Devil Knows His Own - I can tell this is a film you WONT want to miss. While fans anxiously await news of the films release you can get stuck into Gravestone Entertainments brand new project which they will be holding auditions for THIS WEEKEND! The subject matter of this web series  is certainly important and relevant.

From the Gravestone Entertainment official website:

A 'near-future' web-feature from Jason Hawkins
Set in the near future, and seen through the eyes of a small group of civilians, Finding Oblivion, explores the future collapse of America, and its transformation into a police state on the verge of civil war.

Below is a partial character list for the public auditions being held on May 18th.
Auditions will be held at the Shilo Inn on Canyon Road, (9900 SW Canyon Rd  Portland, OR 97225) in the Oregonian Ballroom from 9am-9pm. Actors must bring a headshot and resume' to the audition. This is an open to the public audition, please be aware that there will probably be a waiting line.

This is a paid gig - (full disclosure: the majority of an actor's day rate will be deferred, though principle actors will receive a per diem as part of their pay, amount dependent on role and contract.)

We will also be casting a variety of other roles, including many, many supporting and featured extras. If you would like to be considered for one of these roles, please come to the auditions and read for one of the characters listed under the casting roles page.
Finding Oblivion is being produced by Edenfall Entertainment, and hosted by Gravestone Entertainment.

Looking forward to finding out more about this project in due course - if you are interested in auditioning and can get over to the venue then I know the Gravestone Team will be pleased to see you, just be sure to follow the advice above!

Tuesday 14 May 2013

The Telemarketer (2013) (Short)

Directed by Jon Higgins

Written by John Cosper

Stars: Joe Atkinson, Cindy Maples, Sean Roberts, Mark Dessauer, Rusty James, Rachel Fisher.

Big thanks to the lovely Cindy Maples for sharing the short film The Telemarketer with me. Cindy not only stars in this perky sci-fi comedy thriller but also co produced, provided set decoration and handled the casting...whew!!!

So the film.... The Telemarketer is NOT  a horror short let me just say. However it is an extremely funny, well written, well acted yarn set in the future which I think a lot of people will get a good kick out of.

The story features Joe Atkinson as the titular Telemarketer, Martin, who has been forced by his boss to try a new and controversial method of selling their product. Since the ability to teleport is now a luxury afforded by all (its set in the future remember) the idea is to up in a customers house and start selling the item to them. Its of course unconventional and intrusive and the way this is portrayed is totally brilliant...the film pokes fun at the cold calling/telemarketing/door to door selling industry to a fine art and made me chuckle throughout.

In addition to this there is the sneaky thriller edge. It seems this new customer is going to get our hapless telemarketer into a lot of trouble! Cindy Maples plays housewife Chloe Crum brilliantly - her annoyed facial expressions as the Telemarketer starts to destroy her home in order to demonstrate the effectiveness of his product is spot on. Cindy Maples should consider some more comedic roles as well as the indie horror she does so well!  After Chloe unsuccessfully attempts to remove this human pest from her home, a nasty domestic situation transpires putting everyone's lives in danger...but is all as it seems? You will have to watch and find out but I will say that I enjoyed the clever ending.

A really great short movie combining comedy and sci-fi with a bit of a thriller edge. The performances are all good and really quite funny and I would be interested in any future work from both Director Jon Higgins and writer John Cosper!  I hope to share news with you soon as to when you can get to see this film for yourself to keep your ear to the ground!

Monday 13 May 2013

Joe 'Jengo' Wheeler talks to Hacked in the Head

Hacked in the Head was delighted to get a few words with UK born film director Joe Wheeler whose upcoming film Jengo Hooper looks set to provide the spills and chills!

The trailer is released on May 20, so please keep yours eyes open for this and check out the interview below! 

Hacked in the Head: Hi Joe! Thank you for taking the time to talk to me. You must be a very busy man at the moment with your new horror movie Jengo Hooper in production?

JOE: Yes things have been hectic, prop making, filming and getting things done.

HitH: Could you tell us a bit more about the movie Jengo Hooper and its concept? It sounds very very interesting?

JOE: Thanks, it is a freaky horror movie filmed in the style of the old grindhouse movies from the sixties, seventies and eighties but set in present time. It is about a man who suffers from a mental illness. The illness takes over his mind and he believes he is an alter ego named 'Jengo Hooper' who likes to brutally kill people and tends to participate in Cannibal activities.

HitH: Actress and producer Share Cherrie helped put me in touch with you and she’s just great. It must be fantastic to have her on board for Jengo Hooper? Can you shed any light on her character in the film?

JOE: Yes I met Share in person last year, and we got on really well. She is a great actress and has become a good friend. I am not able to say too much about what happens in the film which also includes info about characters, but all I can say is Share takes on the role of 'scream queen' very well in the movie.

HitH: I believe you are UK born and bred Joe? Where abouts do you hail from and do you live permanently in the US now? I know Jengo Hooper is filming in London which is awesome.

JOE: I was born in a town called Barking which is in Essex, just on the outskirt of East London. I have lived in this town for quite some time but have also ventured out and lived in other places too.

HitH: On a related note could you tell me a bit about your documentary ‘A limey in the USA’?

JOE: The project 'A Limey in the USA' is a series of episodes I filmed on my travels around America. It is a little like a 'Fly on the wall' type of show which was filmed with just me and a camera, no film crews, assistants or presenters.

HitH: I also recently had the pleasure of interviewing Jessica Velle for Hacked in the Head who is also heading out to London soon to film her part for Jengo Hooper. She seems adorable, how did Jessica’s casting come about?

JOE: I met Jessica when I was in LA. She attended my leaving party. We got talking and I gave her an interesting part in the Jengo Hooper movie. It is a small part which will be built upon in the next installment of Jengo Hooper and she will have a lead role in the next installmant. We filmed her parts for Jengo Hooper in Santa Monica and downtown LA.

HitH: Have you always wanted to make horror films Joe, or did it just kind of work out that way? I’m (obviously) a huge fan of the genre so it’s always fantastic to learn of a fellow Brit making horror the indie way.

JOE: I suffer from bad nightmares and I use film and music to express these nightmares. It is a form of release that de-stresses me so that is why most of what I do is horror related although I also will be delving into more documentaries aswell as a Sci Fi feature film.

HitH: Work aside…what does Joe Wheeler do to relax or have fun?

JOE: When im not filming, or editing, or promoting... I like to meet up with friends, take my dog for long walks. Do my weight training and also travel and do some stargazing.

HitH: Finally Joe is there anything else you wish to tell readers about yourself or your work? I wish you all the best with Jengo Hooper and all of your future work!

JOE: The Official Jengo trailer will be released on the 20th May 2013 and you can catch it at Thanks to all who have helped with this project :)

HitH: Thank you so much for your time Joe!

New horror film is set to be highly sick and gruesome

15-05-08 (2013) (Short)

Directed by Nikki Chatwin, Jason Chatwin, 

Written by 
Nikki Chatwin, Jason Chatwin, 

Stars: Scarlett Sibson, Fern Chatwin, Tim Wilson, Kasey Smith

Sick Bunny Pictures is what you get when two film maker brothers get together in order to unleash some great home grown horror to the unsuspecting public.

With new horror short 15-05-08 the brothers Chatwin offer up an alarming, jump filled found footage shocker which I thoroughly enjoyed. It actually made me smile in that there are scores of great found footage flicks out there that you can't help but think 'well that could have all been condensed into a 15 minute short'...well that's exactly what you get here folks! 

The story is nice and simple - four friends are sneakily surveying the house across the street via camera, suspecting that it has been broken into. Their nosiness is going to ensure they pay a high price however as whatever is skulking around their neighbours house is NOT happy with them at all. Cue madness and mayhem found footage style as the four friends are soon subjected to a night of sheer terror. 

As I said I really enjoyed the film. It was snappy and made its point extremely well with more than enough frightening moments to both creep you the hell out and startle you. Noteworthy is a scene on a staircase where the tension really ratchets up to the point I kind of wanted to bite my fist. I also thought the four key players did a great job of portraying a group of curious friends and I think the decision to leave  the slip ups in dialogue was a wise one as it makes the film that much more realistic.

15-05-08 also goes to show how something horrific can happen to anyone, at any time, to anyone - the idea that you may not be safe in your own home in your own neighbourhood is, lets face it, a terrifying one.

I am so excited to see what these guys come up with next seriously. You need to head on over to Sick Bunny Pictures official Facebook right NOW to see how you can get to view the film and to find out more about SBP!

Wednesday 1 May 2013

Mister White

Directed by Erica Summers

Written by Erica Summers

Stars: Andy J. Salgado, Amber Watson, Dakota Morrissiey, Carl Summers, Giana Alexis Cambria, Tony Le, Clayton Reynolds, Kelli Hart, Josh Gray, Dorian Council, Julie Trovato, John Salamone, Agostino Buttinelli, Gabriel Lee, Frances Sacarello.

Mister White is hands down one of the most entertaining indie horrors I have seen in the last few months. For me it takes the very serious and important issue of bullying and makes you feel for the characters involved much like that old favourite of mine Carrie (1976). In essence the film is very much a bloody slasher film where its cruel  and sometimes violent bullies very much receive their blood smeared just desserts. However, at the same time it combines elements of touching drama and intriguing mythology.

So...the story. Tyler is very much your stand out like a sore thumb odd kid at college. As far back as high school he has been the butt of other kids spiteful jokes and pranks, particularly via a group of good looking popular kids who are relentless in their torment. The only member of the group, Summer, who shows Tyler any mercy is under so much pressure from her friends to join in that even she finds it difficult to stop the bullying. We are soon introduced to the legend of a sadistic doctor  whose grisly death has been rumoured to have caused the birth of an even more sadistic evil - Mister White. When Tyler's situation becomes absolutely unbearable he takes matters into his own hands and invokes an old voodoo curse. It's not long before Tyler introduces his new friend Mr White to those who have made his life sheer hell - and they are about to learn the error of their ways - hard.

There are a lot of great plus points to focus on with Mister White. Its well written for one thing, meaning that the more than capable actors have the required material to really sink their teeth into their roles. To that end some of the acting was really great and this can be hard to come by in an indie production. There are some definite stand outs however - Amber Watson really delivers the goods as the conflicted Summer who is quickly realising that she cannot be both popular and sympathetic with her friendship group of choice. She also really kicks some arse towards the end of the film - a really fitting 'final girl' with more layers than you might expect from a horror movie character! Andy Salgado delivers both a heartbreaking AND terrifying performance as the tormented Tyler - truly impressive. I also really enjoyed the characters of Kendra (Summer Perkins) Amy (Giana Alexis Cambria) and Lori (Nicole Elias) as three of the more overtly bitchy characters, all three do a great job as being as mean as hell and subsequently reduced to quivering wrecks once the shit hits the fan. A special shout out to Dakota Morrissey as the abhorrent Scott. Dakota plays this character as an out and out nasty piece of work and you just cannot love to hate him throughout!

The direction of the film and overall production is really great. It looks like a professional final product with decent editing and I am excited to see more from the lovely director/writer/producer Erica Summers as this is certainly a film to be most proud of.

In short Mister White is a bloody fantastic, back to basics, revenge horror flick that also tries something new. Check out the film on Facebook for more info and grab the film as soon as it gets a wide release!