Monday 15 June 2015

Tales of Poe (2014)

Directed by Bart Mastronardi and Alan Rowe Kelly

Written by Alan Rowe Kelly, Bart Mastronardi and Michael Varrati

Stars: Alan Rowe Kelly, Debbie Rochon, Caroline Williams, Adrienne King, Amy Steel, Desiree Gould, Lesleh Donaldson, Randy Jones, Michael Varrati, David Marancik, Susan Adriensen, Amy Lynn Best, Zoe Daelman Chlanda    (WHAT A CAST ANYONE??)

I have been eagerly anticipating Tales of Poe since viewing one of the shorts some time ago and also being familiar with Bart Mastronardi and Alan Rowe Kelly's great contributions to the horror genre. Tales of Poe is a wonderful anthology film, interpreting two of Poe's original stories  and a poem- giving audiences a mixture of terror, beauty, fantastic storytelling and amazing performances. I will take the short films one at a time but can easily say this is a must own off the bat:

The Tell Tale Heart 

The Tell Tale Heart is a truly wonderful short horror film, acting as writer/director, Bart Mastronardi’s interpretation of the classic Poe story. The film stars Debbie Rochon as a newly admitted mental institute patient, who finds herself recounting the events leading to her incarceration to the acidic Evelyn (Happy Birthday to Me’s ill-fated Lesleh Donaldson) and the squirmy, chuckling Fritz (David Marancik – Gallery of Fear). What follows is an amazingly shot, intriguing, mysterious, insight to Rochon’s time spent working as nurse for ageing former movie star Peggy Lamarr (Alan Rowe Kelly in fine form as the VERY faded star). It is here, within Lamarr’s oppressively large home, that we begin to see Rochon’s nurse succumb to, possibly madness, possibly something far more sinister, as she begins to become disturbingly obsessed with the gruesomely afflicted eye of her charge.

I would hate to give anything more away as this short should really be seen fresh, the way I was lucky enough to view it. All I will say is that things get bloody very soon and Debbie Rochon gives the performance of her career towards the climax of the film. The ending back at the mental hospital is both shocking and awe inspiring at the same time and I was 100% on the edge of my seat by this

All performances were brilliant though I have to say. Lesleh Donaldson played the unlikable Evelyn to the hilt, delivering a solid character you really wanted to see come unstuck, while David Marancik played the crazed ‘Fritz’ with genuine ease – I really believed I was watching an insane man, so a job well done. Alan Rowe Kelly as the formidable looking Peggy Lamarr was both a joy and a horror to watch, I would not want to be stuck in a house with this woman that’s for damn sure. It was also fantastic to see Desiree (Sleepaway Camp) Gould back on screen as the hard as nails Nurse Malliard. Just as she did back in the horror heyday, Gould plays the authoritarian figure with skill and ease, except this time, gone are the wide eyes, creepy false smiles, and cheery tone, replaced by a piercing stare, vicious snarl and a Rottweiler of a bark.

Bart Mastronardi has written and directed something very special to the horror genre, just like his previous feature length movie Vindication, he has made a horror movie that is both beautiful and horrifying. Most people would disagree that it’s appropriate to use the word beautiful in conjunction with a horror movie….those people just haven’t seen The Tell-Tale Heart yet.

The Cask

The Cask is an uncomfortable, riveting watch complete with sinister plans, treachery, backstabbing and danger. 

A short by the amazing Alan Rowe Kelly who also plays the lead role, commences with the wedding party of Furtonato Montresor (Randy Jones) and his deceptive wife Gogo where we are also treated to lots of indie horror movie cameos (Amy Lynn Best and Mike Watt of Happy Cloud Pictures woot!) and a nice turn by Susan Adriensen as the bonkers housekeeper. 

From here on out its ghoulish twists and turns as Gogo's horrifying plans play out and viewers are left on their seats edge as events go from bad to worse. 

I had the most fun with The Cask - its like a very classy episode of Tales From the Crypt in regards to its violent revenge theme. It had me biting my nails as to whether Gogo's plans would succeed and then cowering slightly when things got gruesome. It also packs a fantastic finale which brings everything that came before nicely together with a macabre final shot. 

There is a dreamy quality to the filming which gives the film a slightly surreal edge along its dark and creepy journey - I cant imagine anyone not being swept away by this short film and then jolted in terror as it wraps up! Great, great work. 


Furthering the surreal edge of The Cask, this final story takes that crown and runs off with it into another dimension. It  features an amazing bevvy of horror movie greats -  Lesleh Donaldson again, Adrienne King (Friday 13th) Amy Steel (Friday 13th part 2) AND Caroline Williams (Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2) with an amazing lead in newcomer Bette Cassat.

Directed by Bart Mastronardi and written by Michael Varrati this particular short is unique in that its based on a poem rather than a fleshed out story and the final product couldn't be any more befitting of the title.

Its hard to describe Dreams other than it features insanely amazing imagery both beautiful and alluring and terrifying and grotesque. It really is a one of a kind experience which some viewers may find a bit jarring after the previous shorts but personally I think it wrapped things up on an outstanding and highly artistic level.

Check out the official website  I hope you will all get the chance to see this fantastic movie as soon as possible.  It hasn't won a staggering amount of awards for nothing! 

Sometimes I get to review films that are a complete pleasure from start to finish and this is indeed one of those. 

Tuesday 2 June 2015

The Cutting Room (2015)

Witten and Directed by Warren Dudley

Produced by Warren Dudley and TJ Herbert

Stars: Parry Glasspool, Lucy-Jane Quinlan, Lydia Orange and TJ Herbet

Release: UK DVD 1 June 2015

It’s always nice to see a new UK horror movie, particularly one as hair raising and twisted as The Cutting Room. Warren Dudley directs a great cast, including Parry Glasspool, (currently stirring up some nice drama in Hollyoaks) and has produced a brilliantly twisted script that literally had me biting the ends of my fingers off.

Featuring three college students, Raz (Parry Glasspool) Charlie (Lucy-Jane Quinlan) and Jess (Lydia Orange) the film explores the important issue of cyber bullying, or trolling which leads them to investigate the mysterious disappearance of two girls. The three students start out on a dangerous path as they explore some old army barracks on a quest to get to the truth. However someone doesn’t want them to get to the truth and as they document their horrifying journey on camera, audiences are slowly let in on the awful truth. 

The Cutting Room is shot found footage style which may put some off, I have always quite enjoyed them (when good) and this one was gripping, tense and I would recommend to give it a shot regardless. You may even enjoy the hilarious Blair Witch parody....

All three main cast members do a great job, Parry Glasspool plays Raz the college clown and apparent womanizer as a natural. He could easily be a character that audiences hate, but I actually think he came across as more cheeky and amusing as opposed to some of the names his girlfriend Charlie calls him during the movie.  That says poor Charlie has to date the guy and he says a lot to try her patience. I think Lucy-Jane Quinlan played Charlie with a great mixture of feisty and frightened and as the film progressed I started to feel genuinely nervous for her character as all signs started to point at an insidious plan for her. The character of Jess was fun and interesting and Lydia Orange shows some great acting chops toward the end of the film where she finds herself in a baffling and horrifying position. I wish we would have seen a little more of Jess but what we did see was great. TJ Herbert, who co produced the film, also plays a small but significant role as a potential suspect in the disappearances and this is suitably creepy and unsettling. But just how much does his character has to do with the events on screen?

I cant and wont go into any spoilers but a couple of things I will say is the beginning of the movie is excellently executed. A grisly scene plays out to an insanely cheerful song and it just works so well in drawing you in. The ending...well....just PAY ATTENTION. That's all I will say. Very well done and a jaw dropper for sure.

I cant wait to see what Warren Dudley and co have to offer next, The Cutting Room is a well executed nightmare with believable performances and a frightening plot, not to mention yet again a killer ending. Find out more about the film at its official site  HERE  or its Facebook page - also please go grab a copy and support indie horror!