Archive for October, 2011

Celluloid Screams 2011 Coverage: Day 3

Posted in Uncategorized on October 26, 2011 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Day 3: 23rd October 2011

 

“Whisper in Darkness”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Based on a novel written in 1931 by H.P Lovecraft; “Whisper In The Dark” incorporated the old school style of movie making in order to convey authenticity. The use of thunder and lightning sounds to suggest the unknown were fun and cheesy. There was a “Film Noir” edge in there. I wasn’t particularly a fan of the narrative and found the pace slightly dragging at times. Overall “Whisper In Darkness” was a nice homage paid to the 1930’s era.

 

“Interview”- Short

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Interview” was an intense short film that cleverly plays mind games with its audience as well as characters; consistently challenging us.  The characters prove interesting; as subtly they discuss the brutal concept of murder in a chillingly calm manner.

The short built itself up through a tense atmosphere working towards an unexpected twist. A theme addressed was attempting to understand the opposite sex used metaphorically for fearing the unknown.

To sum “Interview” up in two words: Thrilling and Ironic.

 

“Harold’s Going Stiff” + Q&A session

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Harold’s Going Stiff” won best feature film at the festival and most definitely deserved the honour. The title of the film is implicit but I can promise it defies expectations. Writer and Director Keith Wright has created a powerful film with strong a strong social message; cleverly using the horror genre as a metaphorical backdrop.

The film was based locally for Sheffield conveying the humour of the area. Audiences should not be misled by this film as even though it lies in the horror genre, it is a gritty British drama and uses a documentary style.

The opening is cleverly delivered and establishes the humorous side of the film as well as its horror sub-genre featuring very entertaining unconventional “Zombie Slayers”.

“Harold” is a very narrative film rather than visual with the characters describing the events to the viewers. It is also very empathetic; Keith Wright wrote the characters to feel like people we could know in real life resulting in a strong sense of empathy for what happened to them; the dialogue came across naturally. Stan Rowe (Harold) and Sarah Spencer (his nurse Penny) stood out the most performance wise and displayed believable on-screen chemistry.

The film proved to be a surreal look at British society, representing how mental illness such as dementia in old people is treated and a poignant depiction of suffering loss.

The Cast and Crew should be congratulated on contributing to such a touching, funny and memorable film which I hope will become even more successful in the future.

 

 

 

 

“Incubator”-Short

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a massive fan of urban legends and the kidney hoist being my all time favourite; it was awesome to see a refreshing spin on the tale in this horrifying sequence.

 

“Cold Sweat”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The UK premiere of Argentinean film “Cold Sweat” was a satisfying, cleverly constructed thriller. Intensity was created through the use of extreme close ups and slow motion. The villains of the piece were absolutely hilarious and unconventional; making situations both easy and challenging for the protagonists.

Definitely worth checking out for a fun edge of your seat thrill ride!

…and remember requesting help through your Facebook status isn’t a good idea!!

 

Secret Film and “Snowtown” Controversy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Regarding “Snowtown”, the Celluloid Screams secret film I am going to take a personal approach in order to talk about it. As I stated in my earlier video review; I was disappointed to have the film end the festival on a low note with this harrowing depiction of the real-life killings of John Bunting. I respect the film for its gritty portrayal and daring subject matter and I’m sure all involved worked hard to ensure the issue was dealt with as sensitively as possible. However for me I found the content too distressing and it’s something I would rather not know about or try to understand therefore made the decision to leave the cinema. I am against laws on censorship and believe that any film within reason can be made and it’s the choice of the spectator as to whether they choose to see it or not.

Interestingly, as a person who is mostly desensitised to blood, guts and gore I do have boundaries which depends on the subject matter of the film and how it’s portrayed on screen.

As I previously stated if you have a strong stomach see the film however I have been told by those who have viewed it the whole way through it’s a harrowing watch.

 

Conclusion and Thank You’s!

 

 

Celluloid Screams was a brutal weekend of gruesome sights and plenty of thrills and chills! I can honestly say I had the time of my life; the atmosphere was relaxed and everyone was so friendly making me feel very welcome as a first time attendee. Rob Nevitt deserves so much credit for working unbelievably hard on making this weekend possible and choosing a wide selection of films just for us. Thank You so much to everyone involved; my passion and excitement for horror has been re-ignited thanks to the festival. What’s left to say? Bring on Celluloid Screams 2012!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hayley Alice Roberts.

Celluloid Screams 2011 Coverage: Day 2

Posted in Uncategorized on October 25, 2011 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Day 2: 22nd October 2011

 

“Mandragore”-Short

 

 

“Mandragore” was a bizarre and atmospheric short film that focused on aspects of femininity and the power of nature.

 

“Dust Devil”

 

Saturday Morning kicked off with a screening of Richard Stanley’s “Dust Devil” in its original cut. Unfortunately Richard Stanley who was due to attend the festival as the “Special Guest” was unable to join us because of passport issues. As a first time viewer of “Dust Devil”; I enjoyed the fact that it was a generic hybrid incorporating the Western genre with horror; blending them really well. The cinematography captured the senses of isolation and emptiness bitter-sweetly. “Dust Devil” was also an example of a film that had encountered issues in terms of cutting on its initial release; therefore Celluloid Screams treated us to the print Richard Stanley himself wanted and how he visualised the film.

“Click”- Short

 

“Click” was a simplistic yet effective short and was introduced by its director Billy Prince who stated his influence for the film lay in the style of John Carpenter. The film cleverly depicted childhood imagination and portrayed the supernatural as unexplainable which created a much more chilling and menacing atmosphere throughout.

 

 

“Some Guy Who Kills People”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Some Guy Who Kills People” is pretty much in the style of executive producer the legendary John Landis. Despite moments of gore within the film and the theme of murder in the plot it could be placed in the “black comedy” sub-genre and in the drama genre.

Much like “Dead Hooker in a Trunk” (2009) the tone was surreal and tongue in cheek. Told in the vein of a comic book scenario; the outrageous performances brought the entertaining caricature-type characters to life also aided by the quirky well written dialogue. The endearing narrative gave the film a certain charm. During certain moments I expected the film to go down the fantasy route in terms of the killings similarly to “American Psycho” (2000).

Barry Bostwick’s portrayal of the hindering sheriff was hilarious to watch as he was completely informal and comical, resulting in some side-splitting moments.

Kevin Corrigan played protagonist Ken Boyd who was an interesting yet complex character. On one hand he was an average underdog, nerdy guy but also has a hidden, repressed side reminiscent of classic literature such as “Jekyll and Hyde”.

“Some Guy Who Kills People” proved to be a festival highlight, with its originality and subtlety that was daring, intelligent and humorous.

“The Theatre Bizarre”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What would the horror of today be without the influence of the infamous “Grand-Guingol” theatre in 19th Century Paris? “The Theatre Bizarre” is an anthology film, compressing six short stories all by different directors into one feature length homage. Douglas Buck, Buddy Giovinazzo, David Gregory, Karim Hussain, Tom Savini and Richard Stanley all contributed a trilling, gruesome tale inspired by the theatre itself. Tales of murder, betrayal, witchcraft, dreams and death were portrayed in cinematic form. Each story gave its unique spin on the horror genre. The scenes featuring the the Grand-Guignol were visually appealing with its gothic appearance. A Mix bag of emotions all rolled into one unique film.

“Bear”-Short

The Sequel to “Spider”; “Bear” continued demonstrating that well-meaning Jack still hadn’t learned his lesson!! Even though the shock factor in this was expected and formulaic nevertheless it was still an enjoyable piece and perhaps took a more humorous tone than it’s original.

“Employee of The Month”- Short

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Entertaining and Cynical look at the employment industry featuring larger and life iconic horror characters.

 

Day 3 Coming soon…

Hayley Alice Roberts.

Celluloid Screams 2011 Coverage: Day 1

Posted in Uncategorized on October 25, 2011 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Celluloid Screams Day 1: 21st October 2011

Introduction:

My Goal with this piece of coverage on Sheffield’s Celluloid Screams Horror Festival is to share my opinion on the films shown and discuss my personal highlights. I hope to also provide video footage (which unfortunately is not the best quality as I am limited with my canon digital camera.) in order to visualise the festival for those who couldn’t attend and as a retrospect for those who did.

“Spider”- Short.

 

 

 

 

Opening the Festival was the Australian short “Spider”. The short proved very effective; using a simple concept and was perfectly placed at the beginning in order to get the audience into the spirit of the sights to come! “Spider” represented moments of tension building up that is found in the majority of horror resulting in plenty of entertaining and unexpected startles.

“Inbred” + Q&A with Actors Seamus O’Neill, Jo Hartley, Chris Waller, Dominic Brunt and Terry Haywood and Line Producer Rob Speranza

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first feature length shown at Celluloid Screams was the Yorkshire-set “Inbred” (2011) directed by Alex Chandon. The cast and crew involved with the production I can safely say have created a film Britain can be proud of and has definitely put British Horror back at the top in league with classics such as “Peeping Tom” (1960) as well as the iconic “Psycho” (1960).

The plot focuses on four young offenders along with their care workers while on a group outing in the quiet farming area of Mortlake partaking in some good honest community service; however soon events turn deadly as the group of deviants stumble upon the bizarre and twisted traditions of the locals and soon find themselves in a heart stopping fight for survival.

“Inbred” really worked as a suspenseful, scary, disturbing, yet a comedic and dramatic horror movie. References to several British masterpieces before it were in place such as “A Clockwork Orange” (1971), ,“The Wicker Man” (1973), “An American Werewolf in London” (1981), and notably a more recent addition to the genre “Mum & Dad” (2008) alongside well known American horror films including “Deliverance” (1972), Wes Craven’s “The Hills Have Eyes” (1977) and “Children of the Corn” (1984) all acting as a clever homage showing that the film was made just for us bloodthirsty horror fans!

Several issues within society were incorporated into the narrative; ideas of family and the partrichal figure seen in both the Inbreds and in the group; the close-knit community, the fear of the outsider, deviant and anti-social behaviour, racism and the decline of the British Entertainment Industry. There was also a nice little comment thrown in there on the overuse of 3D when it comes to a lot of modern horror films.

What “Inbred” has that many films of the genre seem to lack is a strong sense of empathy for the protagonists. This was due to the exceptional performances from the entire cast. It was refreshing to see such strong, well-written characters in a genre that has endured negative criticism for years.

It really pushes the boundaries in terms of gore. Sexual abuse is implied resulting in a disturbing effect; the film does enter “torture porn” territory in instances. “Inbred” was not only well edited, and shot stunningly capturing the essence of the Yorkshire Countryside; it also in terms of special effects was beyond impressive. It’s hard to believe no CGI was used and the whole film was reliant on good old fashioned prosthetics. The professional standard conveyed on a low budget is remarkable that all involved in the production should be proud of.

 

“Helldriver”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Can I Say? Except for: Insane, Japanese, Splatter!

 

“Vampyres” plus special guests “The Chanteuse & The Crippled Claw”;

The evening concluded with music and bloodlust featuring some special guests and a screening of the 1970’s erotic feature “Vampyres” (1975).

 

Days 2 and 3 coming soon….

Hayley Alice Roberts.

Halloween Month: The Blair Witch Project (1999)

Posted in Halloween Month on October 20, 2011 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

WARNING: POSSIBLE SPOILERS

“The Blair Witch Project” (1999) was a unique piece of film-making for its time. It was the first of the lost video footage genre which has since spawned several films of a similar style such as “Paranormal Activity” (2007), “The Last Exorcism” (2010) and a recent film in which I reviewed “Atrocious” (2010). In that sense the film is a significant landmark for its horror sub-genre and brings a fresh approach to the scare tactic rather than a chainsaw-wielding maniac or a haunted house scenario.

Personally my opinion on this film is divided. On one hand it can be respected for its daring method of horror film-making for the audience to interpret the events in Maryland Burksville as realism. This is depicted through the use of a hand held camera and also due to the fact the principal characters share the same names as the actors playing them. Back in 1999 the film was heavily marketed over the internet in an attempt to feed into potential viewer’s perceptions that its the scariest film they will ever see. On the basis of the concept I am in agreement however now in 2011 since the trend of similar films like “Paranormal Activity” it feels more of a cliche. It appears as if the film makers are trying too hard to frighten audiences which in “Blair Witch” resulted in many anti-climactic moments, especially the ending. Although at the time hysteria surrounded “The Blair Witch” as to whether the footage was real or a hoax; reality TV was emerging which fuelled the notion of it being real footage amongst the public. The other issue with the film is that the majority is seen through the female character Heather’s point of view; her character is hugely unlikeable demonstrated through her controlling nature; it is therefore difficult to develop any empathy for her in the situation. Her cinematography skills are also atrocious (excuse the pun/reference!)  almost deliberately to suggest she isn’t as brilliant at her job as she assumes she is and her constant urge to be in control weakens her focus on creating a quality documentary. The male characters Mike and Josh aren’t much better either; their constant joking around and deliberate attempts at winding Heather up make them appear obnoxious. The characters portrayal’s make an interesting comment on the spoilt, pampered attitudes of the Western society. Once the characters have all their necessities taken away from them they bitch and moan about how hard done by they have become. Heather, Mike and Josh are more anxious over the fact they have no cigarettes or alcohol left rather than food or water. On the positive side tension is built up well especially during the night time scenes and all the symbolic “messages” they come across during the course of the film. However as previously pointed out these scenes didn’t particularly go anywhere for me. The fact there was consistent enigma throughout the film kept it edgy as well as eerie supporting a key theme in horror of the unknown frightening us; a little explanation or a small clue about the Blair Witch would have been helpful to the audience, because the film just fell flat and tension seemed built up towards nothing.

Even though my view of “The Blair Witch Project” on the whole is negative I would still recommend it this Halloween as its a significant film to the genre as a whole, the themes of myths and legends are interesting if not well-developed and if your the kind of person who enjoys watching obnoxious characters get their just desserts then this is the movie for you! But if your after something in a similar vein that will produce a good scare, go with the “Paranormal Activity” films.

Hayley Alice Roberts.

Halloween Month: “A Tale of Two Sisters” (2003)

Posted in Halloween Month on October 17, 2011 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

After discussing the slasher and paranoid horror sub-genre in the review on “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984) and the “Monster Movie” and modern-day remakes with the “Fright Night” (1985, 2011) reviews; its now time to look at a different angle when it comes to horror in the shape of Extreme Asian Cinema with the South Korean 2003 film “A Tale of Two Sisters”.

The plot focuses on two sisters Soo-Mi and Soo-Yeon who have been released from a mental institution returning to their family home with their father and strange, unbalanced step-mother. However there is more to this family and their home than meets the eye. What skeletons are lurking in their closet?

“A Tale of Two Sisters” is one of the best Asian Horror films of the past decade by being both impactive and thought-provoking. Granted; the plot or twist isn’t original and could be viewed as a traditional ghost story; however the nature in which its portrayed makes it so unsettling. The film is shot beautifully conveying a gothic style and surrealism as notions of reality are challenged. Visually its very eye-catching through bold colours in comparison to the use of darkness that features in a lot of horror. The audiences is led to believe that they are in a safe environment of the family home demonstrated through flowers and colourful wallpaper, as the plot unravels the mise-en-scene suggests a sense of decay urging the audience to perceive the surroundings in a scarier light. Inspired by folklore and the fairytale; it could be argued that from a Western perspective it is a modern day “Cinderella” in terms of its “Wicked Step-Mother” angle. The majority does take its inspiration from Korean Folklore based on “Janghwa Heungryeon Jeon”. Unlike other films within the Asian cinema genre “Tale of…” doesn’t rely heavily on gore and brutalities for shock value; taking a more subtle approach. Certain imagery was therefore startling and powerful without going overboard. Tension was built up at a gradual pace resulting in effective jump scares. The most frightening part is the psychological aspects as the audience is deeply placed into Soo-Mi’s (played by Su-jeong Lim) psyche. Her performance is both subtle and terrifying, keeping the audience engaged with her story.

A Tale of Two Sisters”  a must-watch this Halloween because its an example of how Asian Horror portrays the genre much better than the Western World of the modern era. It is intelligent, gripping and well-crafted; and does frightening brilliantly without the use of unnecessary shock value. Its also responsible contributing to making K-Horror popular within Horror as a whole.

Hayley Alice Robers.

Halloween Month: “Oh, You’re So Cool Brewster” “Fright Night” Revisited!

Posted in Halloween Month on October 12, 2011 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Having now finally seen the original “Fright Night” a follow up review to the 2011 version is essential. Without drawing too many comparisons; I intend to view both films as individual texts and as products of the times they were released.  Back in 1985, horror films in general were dominated by the slasher sub-genre demonstrated the popularity of the now iconic serial killers Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees and Freddy Kruger; this was emphasised in the dialogue spoken by vampire slayer Peter Vincent (Played by Roddy McDowall) “Apparently your generation doesn’t want to see vampire killers anymore, nor vampires either. All they want to see slashers running around in ski masks, hacking up young virgins.” The genre had expanded vastly since the days of the “Monster Movies” of the 1930’s however it was now time to revive the world’s most infamous monsters: The Vampires and bring them into a 1980’s context. Later influencing another vampire favourite of mine “The Lost Boys” (1987).

As I concluded with the remake; “Fright Night” is simply good, fun, cheesy horror that shouldn’t be taken seriously; its the same case for the original. The most impressive factor that the film delivered was its make up effects, back in the days in a world where CGI was non-existent (even before my time!), prosthetics were used in order to enhance the audiences sense of escapism and challenge their disbelief. In certain instances FX has proven more effective than than the CGI and 3D that we are subjected to in the majority of today’s films; most notably in 1981’s “An American Werewolf In London” which was ahead of its time. “Fright Night” pays homage to its transformation scene and portrays it slowly and painfully resulting in an agonising reaction from the viewer. The majority of the gore featured is perfect 80’s campiness and gross-out horror!

Performance-wise Chris Sarandon’s portrayal of Jerry the Vampire was approached sinisterly but also entertaining to watch; his scenes filled the movie with edge-of-your-seat tension. Roddy McDowall’s character appeared as the traditional perception of the slayer similarly to the Van Helsing prototype. Vincent was both cowardly and endearing, he also added a sense of wisdom to the piece in comparison to David Tennant’s younger, more sexualised portrayal in the remake. However both characters in the two adaptations were very entertaining; maintaining similar and dissimilar qualities. The romance sub-plot between Charley (Played by William Ragsdale) and Amy (Played by Amanda Bearse) in this version didn’t feel as well-developed and didn’t feel as necessary. The dynamic between Charley and Evil Ed (Played by Stephen Geoffreys) proved far more interesting to watch. Tom Holland brought intensity and dark atmosphere to the direction. The narrative featuring the concept of having a monster as your next door neighbour is a fun but twisted notion. It welcomes these aged-old creatures into the modern day and takes away the separate worlds of the monster’s castle or lair and the secure, familiar home environment and blends them together.

On the whole “Fright Night” (1985) featured very intense moments, special effects ahead of its time, and enjoyable performances. Its fun, its gory, its campy, its so 80’s!

In Conclusion I appreciate both version’s as they serve a purpose to the time they were made, and both portray vampires just the way I like them; bloodthirsty and badass!

Hayley Alice Roberts.

Halloween Month: “McLovin The Vampire Slayer!!”- A Review of “Fright Night” (2011)

Posted in Halloween Month on October 8, 2011 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

WARNING: MILD SPOILERS

2011 has provided fans of the horror genre with some pretty decent movies. Earlier this year we saw the chilling “Insidious”, the controversial “The Woman” and of course my personal guilty pleasures “Scream 4” and “Final Destination 5”. After viewing “Fright Night” in a late night horror screening at my local cinema I can safely say I now have another modern horror movie to add to my best of the year list!

I will note that I have not seen the original therefore this review will not feature any comparisons. I do however plan to see it very soon as its pending on LoveFilm.com so watch this space! I’d also like to add that I viewed the 2D version.

So…. Let’s take a bite out of “Fright Night”…..

As part of the reboot of modern vampire films mostly associated with “Twilight” (2008); “Fright Night” was refreshing as the focus was primarily on the horror and not the forbidden vampire/human love story that seems to feature in most recent films regarding the subject and modern gothic literature. The only comparison drawn would be the film did still look at vampire/human relationships but in an opposing context. The film delves into how protagonist Charley (Played by Anton Yelchin) perceives his strange, nocturnal neighbour Jerry (played by Colin Farrell) and the fear he accumulates. There is a romance sub-plot between two of the human characters Charley and his girlfriend Amy (played by Imogen Poots) however the film is not driven or held together by their relationship it is merely in place to create depth for the characters and acts as a vital purpose for Charley to go up against the fiendish villain.

One of the main enjoyable factors within the film was the use of the traditional iconography in vampire lore. No sparkling vampires; methods on killing them included beheading, a stake through the heart, holy water and sunlight exposure which conformed to expectation of what should feature in a vampire film. Another reason that contributed towards the film being so entertaining is due to how it didn’t take itself too seriously and was self-referential. It is argued that this remake was unnecessary however it does hold importance as a comment on the state of vampire films in modern cinema. Charley initially does not take Ed (Played by Christopher Mintz-Plasse) seriously in regards to his vampire theories due to the “Twilight” hysteria in which he retorts with “I’m actually offended that you think I read Twilight”.  Peter Vincent (Played by David Tennant) acts as the most popular character in the film; not only does he have some brilliant one liners but its interesting to see a flawed vampire slayer character; making him all the more endearing; his screen presence was consistently fun to watch . His character challenges perceptions and creates an unsafe atmosphere due to the “hero” prototype acting as a hindrance and a weakness against the antagonist; this leads to Charley becoming stronger and filling in that void. Colin Farrell plays the mysterious, blood-thirsty vampire well, giving off a sense of conflict for the audience between seductive and scary natures. The only surprising moment was the ending; paying homage to older monster movies such as “Dracula” (1931) “Fright Night” returned to a safe place with good prevailing over evil instead of a twist or jump scare to conclude.

Overall “Fright Night” isn’t particularly scary. It has some unexpected jump-cuts and on the whole is very suspenseful; the dark humour portrayed by the cast and  screenplay writer Marti Noxon keeps the tone light. The amount of gore featured felt right and wasn’t gross-out or there to shock for the sake of it. Even though we’re not seeing something original here it was finally good to see a film about vampires portrayed in a monstrous fashion; the CGI used was impressive depicting a demonic look for the vampires. The performances were entertaining and it acts as the perfect film for a light-hearted, late night horror viewing.

Hayley Alice Roberts.