Archive for August, 2012

“I’m dreaming of a blood red Christmas”- An Interview with Steve Davis (Kent Independent Films)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on August 28, 2012 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Steve Davis set up an independent film company back in 2010 with the intention of supporting aspiring, independent filmmakers around the Kent area. Kent Independent Films has proved versatile as it constantly producers a wide selection of features, shorts and music videos and has teamed up with Indywood Films in order to do so. With an interest in the horror genre Steve currently has a slasher Santa film in pre-production titled Christmas Slay, which he describes as “modern” but with the heart of the stalk and slash flicks of the 70’s and 80’s firmly in place, the feature is expected to be released in 2014, so we will have to wait patiently like all good children on Christmas Eve before we can unwrap this festive piece of carnage! With plenty of projects in the pipeline Steve took time out of his busy schedule to talk independent filmmaking, fan funding, horror, Christmas, his inspirations plus working with Emmerdale’s Dominic Brunt (Before Dawn).

Steve Davis (Kent Independent Films)

1. Your production company Kent Independent films offers a versatile range of media forms, can you tell us a little bit about what you do?

Steve Davis: Well i suppose we try and do a little of everything within the industry, we do offer a few services to assist other filmmakers but to be honest we barley get time to do anything other than our own projects, our main aim is to produce quality independent shorts, features and documentaries which cover a wide variety of genre’s, so their is something for everyone.

2.       How did you become involved with Indywood films?

SD: I became involved with AD Lane, IndywoodFILMS and his EPIC movie project INVASION OF THE NOT QUITE DEAD a few years back now after stumbling across his fan funding website, like hundreds of other people across the world i LOVED what AD was doing and the way in which he was funding his project so i became a VIP Executive producer to help support the film, a while later AD and myself got talking on Facebook and it turned out that we both lived in Kent so we arranged to meet up for a chat and we clicked, the rest is pretty much history, and we have been good friends ever since,  i am now Co-Producing INVASION OF THE NOT QUITE DEAD with AD and assisting with all aspects of the film.

3.       What film projects are you currently working on?

SD: Quite a few and it seems to be growing lol, the biggest project at the moment is of cause is the EPIC INVASION OF THE NOT QUITE DEAD, its very exciting times for us at the moment, we have already filmed our intro over in Bulgaria, and filming will continue here in Kent this September and November and finish in February of next year, i then hope to start fan funding for CHRISTMAS SLAY via Kickstarter from April, and fingers crossed if funding goes ok we will be able to film our intro towards the end of next year and the bulk of the film in Bulgaria in February 2014, but during our two films i will also be taking on a small part in a great film by Ogy Stoilov called MADE IN LONDON which is about an Eastern European crime family operating in London, and i am also going be an extra in our friend Dominic Brunt’s next film project THE DEBT COLLECTOR, which i am very excited about.

Kent Independent’s collaboration with Indywood Films.

4.       You have projects planned up until 2014, the latest one being Christmas Slay? Is there anything you can reveal about the film at this stage?

Yeah lol my website seriously needs updating, i think between myself and AD we have probably got film projects planned for the next 10 years, if not more, both INVASION OF THE NOT QUITE DEAD and CHRISTMAS SLAY will be having sequels, plus we have several World War Two films planed and a really nice music related film called JOURNEY IN TO DARKNESS, not to mention various other features and shorts.
CHRISTMAS SLAY is the first feature i have written, and is going to be my first attempt at directing, i am very excited about it but also very nervous.

‘CHRISTMAS SLAY’ is a unique take on the slash and stalk genre, a film inspired by so many great movie such as FRIDAY 13th, HALLOWEEN, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, and so many other cult horror classics of the 1980’s.
Our aim is to make an original slasher film franchise with a modern look and twist which stays true to the genre’s original roots.

The story of CHRISTMAS SLAY begins on a wintery Christmas Eve, the horrific murder of a loving family, and the capture of a Santa Claus obsessed blood thirsty killer.
One year later, a group of collage girlfriends decide to get away from it and relax and party over the Christmas holiday, they decide to escape to the idyllic Mistletoe Lodge nestled within the beautiful snowy mountains of the Scottish Highlands, what starts off as the perfect festive getaway of fun in the snow and a glass of eggnog or two, suddenly descends in to gruesome blood bath of terror and a fight for survival.

5.       You tweeted you have some amazing cast and crew involved with the film, what can you tell us about that?

We certainly do, we have some AMAZING cast and crew involved but unfortunately at this very early stage in the project i am very restricted to who i can mention, and i am trying keep those attached hush hush until the CHRISTMAS SLAY website goes live this December, all i can say is expect to see some new talent and some tv and film favourites.

6.       Would you say the film is inspired by Christmas themed classics such as Black Christmas or will you be putting your own spin on the sub-genre?

People are going to hate me for this but i am not really a fan of BLACK CHRISTMAS at all, its beautifully shot, and the cinematography is AMAZING its just a little slow paced for my liking, even the original doesn’t do anything for me, film wise my inspirations are movies such as FRIDAY 13th and SILENT NIGHT DEADLY NIGHT, i just love the look and feel of 70’s and 80’s horror, i want CHRISTMAS SLAY to have that feel, and want the audience to feel like there watching a modern classic, but the real inspiration behind CHRISTMAS SLAY is not a film it was my good friend AD Lane, if it wasn’t for him i wouldn’t be living my dream, and there is no way i would be working on my own film, AD is the most passionate guy i know, and it is such an honour to be able to call him my friend, he has been through all the good times and bad times in my personal life and given me so much to look forward to, if it wasn’t for his encouragement CHRISTMAS SLAY would just be a thought in my head that would never get acted upon, AD is such a MASSIVE inspiration, not just to be but to hundreds the world over.

7.       Are you a big fan of the horror genre? Which films would you say have left an impact on you in terms of style?

 I am a HUGE fan of the horror genre, but not many horrors these days inspire me, RARE EXPORTS left a huge impact on me, the film is BEAUTIFUL, a pure work of art, i highly recommend everyone sees this film, you even forget about the few minutes of bad CGI ( which i hate ) because the film is so beautiful, another film which left a HUGE impact was a zombie film made by my friends Joanne Mitchell and Dominic Brunt called BEFORE DAWN, it premiered at this years Film 4 Fright Fest, and simply looks AMAZING on the big screen, its a real tribute to old skool horror and shows what can really be achieved with a lot of hard work, dedication and passion, seeing BEFORE DAWN and all the work Jo and Dom put in was a HUGE inspiration for me.

8.       How long have you been interested in filmmaking and what aspects do you enjoy the most?

I became interested in filmmaking as a very young child at primary school, my Dad is a HUGE HUGE fan of Emmerdale, or Emmerdale Farm as it used to known back then, every year during the summer holidays we used to drive up to Yorkshire from Deal in Kent to watch two weeks of Emmerdale being filmed, and i LOVED IT, there’s something pretty special about being on set or location, and as a young boy i was hooked, i knew there and then what i wanted to do in life.

9.   Would you say that creating short films and music videos are a very similar process?

With filming a short, the principles are the same as filming a feature, all the same rules apply, i haven’t really had much experience with music videos as yet, but i did joine AD Lane on several tour dates for the documentary he is doing on the AWESOME band WHEATUS, i only helped with a very little bit of camera work for this, but WOW what a difference, when filming a short or a feature, your the one that’s in control, but when filming live performers you have none what so ever, you have to be all over the place, there are no second chances, if you miss something, you cant ask a live performer to stop and do a re take, you need to be every where at once, its bloody hard work, AD went on three UK tours with the band and every time he came back he was that little bit thinner lol

10.   And finally what advice would you give to aspiring filmmakers from your own experience?

DON’T GIVE UP, it my take time but if you really want it, it WILL happen, you just need to be patient 🙂

Thanks for taking your time to speak with Hayley’s Movie and TV Reviews and good luck with all your exciting projects.

To keep updated with Kent Independent Films and to look out for future news on Christmas Slay, follow these on Twitter:

@KENTindieFILM
@XmasSLAYmovie
Interviewer: Hayley Alice Roberts.
https://www.facebook.com/HayleysMovieAndTvReviews
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“Home is no longer Sweet” A Review of HATE CRIME (2012)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on August 10, 2012 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

**WARNING: MINOR SPOILERS**

From an early age we are taught that the home is the safest place to be, but what would happen if that ideology was suddenly threatened and disrupted? This is exactly what happens to a unsuspecting Jewish family in James Cullen Bressack’s latest feature film “Hate Crime” (2012), a sub-genre horror hybrid that takes home invasion movies and the found footage concept to a whole new level. From Psykik Junky Pictures, “Hate Crime” opens with an innocent setting, a family consisting of a mother (Maggie Wagner), father (Greg Depetro) and their three children Lindsay, Tyler and Alex (Debbie Diesel, Nicholas Clark and Sloane Morgan Siegel) about to sit down to celebrate their youngest Alex’s birthday, within two minutes their whole world is shattered as three masked, anti-semetic, Nazi-worshipping thugs, ambiguously named One (Jody Barton), Two (Tim Moran) and Three (Ian Roberts) break into their idyllic home and from then on just over an hour of brutal carnage ensues!

While on one hand “Hate Crime” is a very controversial piece of film-making and will take a strong stomach to sit through it is actually in place to educate people about the kind of brutality that occurs during these crimes. Having the knowledge of this subject matter isn’t pleasant however its important that films like this draw attention to the issue in order to reduce this kind of cruelty. When the anti-semetics take control in the house over the parental figures it reminds us of the decline of authority in today’s world acting as a metaphor for the decline in respect for the government, the police and even schools. It also reminds us of how prejudice and bigoted mentalities still exist today as it echoes the Holocaust and Hitler’s power on society.

Bressack needs to be congratulated on taking two well-known and popular horror sub-genre’s and creating a powerful, disturbing and unique film that is guaranteed to leave the viewer shaken up which is not an easy task to do in modern horror film-making. Its both daring and clever to use the found footage tactic which in recent years has become quite gimmicky due to the likes of supernatural themed-films e.g. “Paranormal Activity” (2007) and “Atrocious” (2011) and then using the concept by placing it in a real-life situation making “Hate Crime” stand out with its realism approach.

On a technical level the film works well with the shaky camera movements, POV shots and the fact that its filmed in real-time. These elements ensure absolute rawness throughout and it quickly gets under the skin. The film should be praised for how it introduces the villains at around two minutes into the film to a shocking effect, the audience know what kind of film they are in for so the way its done proves a lot more frightening than building up 30 minutes of tension and filler before the action begins. Bressack is a young director who understands his audience and understands what truly makes a horror film scary. The scenes of violence are extreme without being gratuitous for the sake of it, having the camera move away from the violence as its happening then returning to it holds much more weight and impact than watching it first hand the way most torture porn films convey violent scenes. That saying, the tone of the film is nasty, Bressack manages to replicate the tactic Michael Powell used in “Peeping Tom” (1960) by placing the audience in the murderer’s perspective for a chunk of the film. To begin with the father holds the camera indicating a safe environment but as soon as its in the killer’s hands it really makes you question humanity, in these scenes the killer holds the power taking away any sense of predictability leaving the audience unexpected of what will happen. “Hate Crime” holds no barriers as it depicts the kinds of brutality that is inflicted upon people in these situations, the whole cast take the difficult subject matter and do a tremendous job in their performances by creating a sense of helplessness, vulnerability and pure fear. Watching the characters of the parents unable to do anything to help themselves or their children accounts for some harrowing scenes. One, Two and Three are more complex characters than we first imagine, the characters are played with malice, sadism and at the same time vulnerability which questions the thin line between evil and humanity. These are places that we never expect to go to and the layers that are written into each character makes it that more thought-provoking.

It is easy to compare the themes featured in the film to 70’s exploitation such as Wes Craven’s “Last House on the Left” (1972) or Sam Peckinpah’s  controversial “Straw Dogs” (1970) however “Hate Crime” is unique in its own right as it takes the audience to a very dark place where in moments it can be questionable as to whether they have stumbled upon some poor family’s sickening home movie. Throughout the latter films mentioned the audience are aware that they are in a film world due to the use of music and editing, “Hate Crime” consciously doesn’t use music, the sound is completely external and the audience moves with the camera all the way to the shocking end.

Finally a horror film that straight up paralyses its audience with fear and actually teaches something about the world, is honest and holds nothing back. “Hate Crime” is currently circulating the horror festivals and has already won Best Director and Best of Show at The Underground Monster Carnival that took place in Oklahoma City in March. “Hate Crime” is certainly an unforgettable addition to Horror cinema but thoroughly recommended, James Cullen Bressack has a promising future with the genre.

For James Cullen Bressack’s Facebook Page Click Here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/James-Cullen-Bressack/195934533800413

For my Facebook Page to keep updated with the reviews click here: https://www.facebook.com/HayleysMovieAndTvReviews

Hayley Alice Roberts.

Something to Die For, Episode One: The Shadow of Death

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 9, 2012 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Here it is….Welcome to my new Horror Show; “Something to Die For” a series focused on all things horror from supporting independent movies to horror history and of course festivals. Episode One focuses on “The Shadow of Death”. The opening montage features clips from a few of my favourite horror films of all time! Please feel free to leave any feedback if you have any comments or questions. I really enjoyed creating this project so hope you enjoy!

For More Info Here’s my Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/HayleysMovieAndTvReviews

 

Thank You!

Hayley Alice Roberts

Cult Retrospect: “Repo! The Genetic Opera” (2008)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 7, 2012 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

**WARNING: MINOR SPOILERS**

“Zydrate comes in a little glass vial, And the little glass vial goes into the gun like a battery, And the Zydrate gun goes somewhere against your anatomy, And when the gun goes off, it sparks, and you’re ready for surgery”- Graverobber

“Repo! The Genetic Opera” (2008) is a deliciously daring cult film that has spawned an unexpected phenomenon in terms of fandom especially since it was received negatiely by some critics upon its release. The consensus on Rotten Tomatoes.com claimed the film was “Bombastic and Gross”, many like myself would argue, gross in a good way! The film was picked up through touring across America. Director Darren Lyn Bousman and the cast and crew took part in extensive Q&A’s in order to promote their stylish horror rock opera. The cult following the film has achieved is phenomenal, fans embrace “Repo!” in a similar vein to “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” (1975). The dedication and effort the fans put into purchasing or making costumes for screenings demonstrates how passionately they regard the film that in terms of mainstream cinema is an acquired taste!

The story is set in a futuristic world where an organ epidemic threatens to eliminate the human race. The only hope for survival lies in “GeneCo” an organisation that is able to provide organ transplants through a payment plan. However, in a surgery addicted world many fail to make these payments and GeneCo sends out a Repo Man who takes back what they cannot afford, “He will rip the still beating heart from your chest!”. The results of mass surgery addiction has also accumulated a black market that creates a powerful anaesthetic called “Zydrate” that emerges from the brains of the dead and is handed out by a mysterious figure known as the Graverobber (Terrance Zdunich) who partly acts as a narrator. Following the backstory the plot takes a more intimate turn as it shows the personal lives of the characters involved and how they are ultimately entwined. We meet Nathan (Anthony Head) a desperate widower and father with a dark past who searches for a cure for his teenage daughter Shilo’s sickness, a blood disease he believes he has caused, Shilo (Alexa Vega) refuses to be a victim and dreams of being able to live a normal life. Little does she know, Nathan is in fact the Repo Man by night which takes the film onto a whole new complex and emotional level. The Villain comes in the shape of GeneCo’s CEO Rotti Largo (Paul Sorvino) who is dying of a terminal disease and does not trust his three kids Luigi (Bill Moseley), Pavi (Ogre) and Amber Sweet (Paris Hilton) to carry on his legacy. Rotti has manipulated Blind Mag (Sarah Brightman) GeneCo’s star opera singer who will soon lose her eyes if she does not agree to a final performance and give up the stage for Amber Sweet. In order to discover more about this intriguing plot that becomes more twisted as the film goes on, I advise you to seek it out immediately!

  As a musical, “Repo!” works on so many levels and has a little bit of everything, infectious rock anthems, beautiful, melodic opera pieces and a number of intriguing characters that push the plot along. It has the essence of a dark tragedy similar to other musicals of the same nature such as “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” and “Jekyll and Hyde” as it tells the tale of a man driven into madness and carnage due to unfortunate circumstance. It does play on the conventions of musical theatre by using a narrator as an outside POV and the typical characters such as the young female who searches for something more that what she’s confined to. The fact that its a hybrid along with the horror genre ramps up the visual squeamishness of the piece with the blood and gore, that looks great against the dark backdrop. But its not all grim as it sounds there’s a nice balance of black humour added in especially with the Largo brothers who argue over their future inheritance and a musical number where the Repo man sings as he’s removing an organ out of his victim and the victim still manages to join him in song! The film is very stylish, it cleverly uses a comic book approach in order to depict flashback sequences which is refreshing rather than just using a black and white effect and the actors, its also reminiscent of graphic horror novels such as “Creepshow”. The way the film is shot is incredible with sweeping camera work on the detailed world we are embroiled into. The gothic costumes really make the film stand out and highlight its uniqueness while encouraging fans to try out some extreme and out-of-this world looks. The main attraction however has to be the cast who deliver outstanding performances, Anthony Head showcases his talent for both singing and acting as he sticks his knife into this dark role, he manages to create a sense of fear and empathy at the same time and just defines this tragic figure through his performance. Sarah Brightman is sensational as always in her first film role, conveying her talent for opera and providing the film with some haunting and eerie music pieces. Alexa Vega plays Shilo with an innocence and vulnerability and also has some fun teenage moments of angst in there. Paris Hilton is surprisingly good in this, her singing fits in well and she clearly has fun with the role. Terrance Zdunich is appealing and menacing and brings in an air of mystery with the Graverobber, questioning can the audience and Shilo trust him?

Unique, mesmerizing, visually astounding and unforgettable, there is no doubt that “Repo!” will hold a special place in cult cinema for many years to come. Everything about it just works, the music, the acting, the emotional depth of the story. Watch it once and you’ll be addicted just like Amber Sweet is to surgery!

Hayley Alice Roberts.

**Please feel free to “like” my facebook page and keep updated with all my reviews and announcements:  https://www.facebook.com/HayleysMovieAndTvReviews**

“Good Morning Aberystwyth!”- A Review of “Hairspray the Musical!”

Posted in Old Non Horror Reviews with tags , , , , on August 5, 2012 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Head down to the Aberystwyth Arts Centre this summer and witness the best musical that has ever graced the Theatre-Y-Werin stage, “its Hairspray!” Set in 1962 Baltimore, “Hairspray” tells the tale of Tracy Turnbland, a big girl, with big hair and big dreams to dance on national television as part of “The Corny Collins Show” in which she wins a guest spot and becomes and overnight sensation. The message presented is uplifting as Tracy an unlikely hero fights for integration and sets the standard that anyone can achieve their dreams no matter who they are or what they look like! “Hairspray” also depicts a changing era in history with the traditional attitudes of the 1950’s becoming more relaxed and accepting. However not everyone can quite shake the old ways away as bigoted TV producer Velma Von Tussle and her bratty daughter Amber attempt to thwart Tracy’s plans for a freer society. “Hairspray” is based on the John Waters 1988 film of the same name which starred a young Ricki Lake as Tracy and became a cult classic early on, however the more familiar adaptation would be the 2007 musical version starring John Travolta and Queen Latifah. John Waters film was adapted for the stage in 2002. The show has its little quirks such as the tradition of Edna Turnbland being played by a man as a homage to the late drag-Queen Divine’s performance in the original.

Anthony Williams’s production that is running until September 1st is absolutely sensational and demonstrates that you don’t need to travel far for a West End standard style show. It is difficult to even pick one fault with the entire performance. Each cast member did fantastic jobs with their roles creating a strong consistency throughout the duration, with the mix of professionals and local talent keeping the show refreshing. The singing and dancing were on top form, with the infectious songs being performed brilliantly. The cast had so much energy during the flawless dance numbers which were constantly so much fun and impressive to watch. The production is very colourful and light-hearted on the whole but it does squeeze in some powerful serious moments too. Marion Campbell’s rendition of “I know where I’ve been” as Motormouth Maybelle sends shivers down the spine, she has one of the most incredible singing voices, Andrew Agnew is very entertaining as Edna, Tracy’s downbeat mother who comes out of her shell later in the show, Jenny O’Leary’s Tracy is wonderful as she really carries the performance in the lead role making the character relate-able. Lori Haley Fox also plays the villainous Velma Von Tussle superbly, Arun Blair Mangat shows what a fabulous dancer he is as Seaweed and Oliver Ormson is sweet as Link, Tracy’s love interest. It is clear that the younger performers in the cast have real potential to become big stars one day. As previously stated it is difficult to single the cast members out as they all did fantastic jobs and have worked well together to bring the show and characters to life, its evident a lot of heart has gone into making the production as phenomenal as it is. You will laugh, cry, clap and find it a challenge to not move your feet. The set is limited due to the size of the stage and doesn’t provide many computerised technical aspects as seen in more recent musicals such as “Ghost”, however the use of a screen at the beginning of the show demonstrates how it is keeping up with the way modern shows are bringing in a cinematic quality to their productions. Also, for those more familiar with the 2007 film, the show gives out a bit extra by performing the omitted numbers including “Mama, I’m a big girl now” which provides the audience with a closer look at Tracy, Amber and Penny’s relationships with their mother’s, “The Madison”, “Cooties” and “The Big Dollhouse” which is one of the most comedic moments in the show, this aspect also helps to define the characters and develop them more than a film can due to timing restrictions.

It is guaranteed that “Hairspray” is the ultimate feel-good musical that also teaches its audience strong political and social messages while being quirky at the same time.  Last night’s show received a standing ovation following the impressive finale, so show the cast and crew the praise they deserve by joining them in dancing and singing along to “You can’t stop the beat”. Also catch the cast perform in “The Magic of the Musicals” where they showcase their individual talents on August 19th.

Hayley Alice Roberts.