Archive for the Anniversary Pieces Category

Sixth Anniversary Article: Hayley’s Top Six Underrated 80’s Gems

Posted in Anniversary Pieces, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 18, 2017 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

The 18th May 2017 marks six years since I began sharing my love for the horror genre on this blog. The love I have for horror of course extends further back than that and has practically been a lifelong passion. Back in January I made a New Year’s Resolution to myself that I would watch as many kinds of horror movies as possible from the classic to the recent, the low-budget and the lesser-known. Along the way I have discovered a slew of gems that aren’t often acknowledged in a prime overview of horror. In a general sense, horror is defined by its icons. We are all majorly familiar with Hellraiser, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th and the like; these are of course incredible and impactful films and franchises but what about those forgotten gems that incorporate their own sense of uniqueness? These are the films that drifted under the radar but have since developed a cult following thanks to accessible platforms such as Arrow Video, 88 Films and Shudder (AKA. Horror Netflix).

Hayley on Horror Couch

The decade of horror I am most drawn to is the 1980’s. The genre became hugely marketable during this period and insanely mass-produced. Home video had taken off then reached controversial heights over in the UK no thanks to the Video Nasties panic. Despite the outrageousness of it all, it is still a fascinating point in macabre movie history. Eighties Horror has an entrancing quality to it. Filmmakers made the most of beautifully grotesque practical effects, creating some of the most inventive imagery ever seen on screen. Some of the films discussed in this list incorporate strange tones, nonsensical plot lines which requires the audience to suspend their disbelief all in the name of good, gory entertainment.

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In celebration of six years of Hayley’s Horror Reviews, join me in a trip down cult horror memory lane in appreciation of those underrated genre gems.

**Please Note that this list will not include the films I have reviewed over on my YouTube Channel such as the House franchise or Pieces, if you’d like to check those out, head to https://www.youtube.com/user/mshayleyr1989**

Leave me some comments in the box below and let me know if you agree or disagree with my choices. Which 80’s horror movies do you feel deserve more recognition?

I’d like to dedicate this review to all my horror hounds that follow and support my work. I am eternally grateful that I can share the horror love with you all.

**Gory Hugs**

  1. The Microwave Massacre (1983)
  • Directed by Wayne Berwick

Microwave Massacre

As soon as Arrow Video released ‘The Microwave Massacre’, I was instantly sold on the title alone and couldn’t wait to see what delights this bizzaro-fest had in store. The Microwave Massacre is one of a kind, for sure. It’s one of those “trash” films that is low on quality and high on the absurdity. In an exaggerated view of suburbia, construction worker Donald (Jackie Vernon) lives a pretty mundane existence. Life seems so much more exciting for his colleagues who unapologetically revel in beer and ogle boobs! Trapped in a loveless marriage with his shrewish wife May (Claire Ginsberg) who insists on only cooking him healthy food, depriving him of the remaining life pleasures he has, Donald eventually snaps and massacres his not so dear wife! He embarks on a new lease of life which sees him bask in awkward sex with women evidently out of his league and the consumption of human flesh! May’s remains are stored in his refrigerator and are on hand when he needs a bite! Everything about The Microwave Massacre is outright bad, from the awful acting to the cringeworthy effects, but I wouldn’t have it any other way! It’s pure schlock which makes it intentionally hilarious. Vernon’s impassive performance as Donald is cinematic gold, as he continuously addresses the audience in a monotone manner. The Microwave Massacre is trashy, exploitation fun and displays no sense of shame in what it does. This comical cannibal must be seen to be believed.

  1. Waxwork (1988)
  • Directed By: Anthony Hickox

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Waxwork is a late-eighties US Fantasy Horror movie directed by Brit filmmaker Anthony Hickox. Starring Gremlins favourite Zach Galligan, Waxwork is an affectionate homage to the Universal Monster movies that came before it and then some. Waxwork is an extraordinary feast for the eyes filled with imaginative set pieces and monsters and mayhem galore. When a Wax Museum mysteriously appears in a peaceful small town, the local teens are lured in by a creepy yet enigmatic old man played by David Warner. Once he traps them inside, chaos ensues as the exhibits take on a life like quality. Playing on the essence of ‘paranoid horror’, the lines between reality and the fantasy world blur showcasing a genuine Chamber of Horrors. Waxwork has it all from a gothic aesthetic to a selection of familiar fierce creatures from vampires to werewolves ready to claim and delude their victims. Grotesque and macabre in its outlook, Waxwork is an incredibly fun adventure horror film as much as it is scary. It’s one of those adorable, cheesy 80’s flicks that raises the stakes and allows its audience to root for the characters as well as become entranced by its villains. Waxwork is available to view on Shudder UK so grab some popcorn and immerse yourselves in this lavish, fantastical movie experience.

  1. American Gothic (1988)
  • Directed by John Hough

American Gothic

Due to its generic and frequently used title, American Gothic is one bizarrely brilliant 80’s movie that went under the radar and has mainly found itself in bargain bucket bins at the local Poundland! That was exactly how I came across it thanks to one of my best friends! The setup is pretty much standard horror fare which sees a group of young adults stranded on an unfamiliar island when their mode of transport fails. However, the film deserves credit for being completely unexpected and downright weird. The events that unfold on screen are more insane than the audience could have imagined. There’s a kooky and odd tone to American Gothic as the group of friends’ stumble on a house located in the backwoods. The inhabitants consist of an elderly couple, Ma (Yvonne De Carlo) and Pa (Rod Steiger) and there three overly-grown up, middle aged children, Fanny (Janet Wright), Woody (Michael J. Pollard) and Teddy (William Hootkins). The “children” still believe their aged ten and below, adding to the creep factor. It’s amusing watching the group of unsuspecting victims playing along with the unconventionality until events take a menacing turn then head straight into deranged territory. American Gothic isn’t a film that takes itself seriously by a long shot and is overall very hammy when it comes to the acting. The death scenes are an absolute highlight; they are very twisted and rather unusual. The film’s climax descends into extreme bizarreness ensuring the audience isn’t going to want to stop watching! Bordering on the comedic while displaying a blatant uneasiness, American Gothic is unforgettable once viewed, fearless in terms of pushing the boundaries and relishes in its oddness.

  1. Bloody Birthday (1981)
  • Directed by Ed Hunt

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There’s no denying that I love a good slasher film. Most of the time it’s my go-to sub-genre when it comes to horror movies. In addition to the nostalgia factor, there is something rather comforting about a good old slasher; most of them are pretty much formulaic and audiences are almost certainly guaranteed some good gore to feast their eyeballs on! Following the success of Black Christmas (1974) and Halloween (1978), centering a slasher movie around a holiday or tradition of some kind seemed mandatory once the 80’s hit. This early 80’s creepfest is the ideal example of when the movie inside the VHS box matches the creativity and quality of the cover itself. While browsing on Shudder UK, the image of a birthday cake with severed fingers in the place of candles instantly appealed! However, Bloody Birthday is a lot more than it seems. This film wasn’t afraid to take risks and pushed the sub-genre to sinister heights at the time. Bloody Birthday features some of the creepiest kids ever put to screen. Without a doubt, The Omen and The Exorcist were universally considered some of the scariest horror films ever made, proving that terror concealed with the face of innocence was undoubtedly going to get under the skin. In a nutshell, the plot centers on three children who are born during a solar eclipse and grow up to be some real cruel kids, murdering their victims in cold blood with a disturbing lack of remorse. Bloody Birthday is just as much chilling as it is mean spirited and all out suspenseful. When unsuspecting adults don’t heed the warnings that it’s the kids committing the crimes it’s ‘shout and the screen’ worthy stuff!  At the time of its release, the film proved unpopular and resulted in a random rumour that the film was shot and not released into the public domain until five years later. It has since been confirmed that the movie was completed in 1980 and came out the following year. Maybe there is some spooky ‘Mandela Effect’ at play!

  1. Night of the Creeps (1986)
  • Directed by Fred Dekker

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Upon its initial release, Night of the Creeps did not perform successfully at the Box Office but has since developed a loyal cult following making it a must-see for fans of this style of cinema. Directed by Fred Dekker who provided the story for House (1985) and went on to direct The Monster Squad (1987) and RoboCop 3 (1993), Night of the Creeps Oozes B-Movie goodness, blending zombies, science fiction and an element of the slasher, making it a cult-tastic combination. Strange, alien parasites descend from space onto a small town in 1959 leading to madness and mayhem 27 years later when two friends aiming to make an impression on a prospective fraternity accidentally stumble on a frozen corpse unleashing unforeseen havoc leading up to the formal dance. Evoking the era of the 1950’s in it’s opening sequence, Night of the Creeps is an affectionate homage to genre as a whole from its aesthetic to the surnames of its lead characters, Chris Romero, James Carpenter Hooper (J.C) and Cynthia Cronenberg. Other characters include Detective Landis, Detective Cameron, Mr Miner, the Janitor and so on. The campus is even named ‘Corman University’. All these little nods add to the overall charm the film encompasses. Night of the Creeps is very quotable, namely the excellent tagline which is delivered even better in the film itself by the always brilliant Tom Atkins, “the good news is your dates are here…the bad news is, they’re dead!”. There’s plenty of gooey gore galore and slithery sinister creatures ready to invade the bodies of crazed college kids! The greatest aspect of Night of the Creeps is it doesn’t stick to one specific style of horror, veering off into being exactly what it wants to be, an alien invasion, teen movie, zombie slasher flick with heart.

  1. Xtro (1982)
  • Directed by Harry Bromley Davenport

Xtro

My number one underrated 80’s gem goes to Xtro, the anti-ET! Xtro is a British Science Fiction/Horror Movie that is often mistakenly associated with the video nasties but in fact wasn’t amongst the 72 titles designated to the banned list. It’s a grainy, obscure film but wholly worth seeing for its underrated oddness and the visceral, strange feeling it brings with it, exactly as a movie of this kind should. Implicitly, alien abduction is the core plot of Xtro as a father named Sam Phillips (Philip Sayer) mysteriously vanishes off the face of the earth under unusual circumstances while playing outside with his son on a regular day. His ex-wife Rachel (Bernice Stegers) and son Tony (Simon Nash) subsequently move on with their lives only to receive a disturbing shock when an estranged Sam returns into their world out of the blue; however, something is not quite right about him. As predicted tension is spawned into the family dynamics with Sam’s sudden return especially with Rachel’s new partner Joe (Danny Brainin) who is less than pleased about the arrival of the ex-husband which shakes things up! Drama is thrown into the mix of bizarre horror bringing in that traditional British ‘kitchen sink’ tone with the family’s situation in a similar fashion to how Hellraiser (1987) incorporated the mundane existence of a married couple and an extramarital affair with something otherworldly lurking underneath the surface. It’s that amalgamation of a sense of realism incorporated with fantastical elements that blends well together. The visual effects and imagery are to die for in this film. Sam’s ‘rebirth’ scene is shocking, gross and spectacularly done, which is a real unnerving body horror moment that wholeheartedly deserves more credit for the detail that went into it. Director Harry Bromley Davenport threw in some nonlinear imagery including a creepy clown and an enigmatic panther without any explanation which makes the film even more fascinating and downright weird. Xtro is a magnificent film with its utter bizarreness making it compelling to watch and immensely powerful and effective.

Hayley Alice Roberts

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Hayley’s Top 10 Horror Movies of 2016!

Posted in Anniversary Pieces, Ghostface Girls, Horror Festivals, Love Horror with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 28, 2016 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

With only a few days of 2016 remaining, it’s that time again to reflect on the genre movies that left a lasting impression this year. Horror-wise, 2016 was off to a slow start but once festival season hit as always a number of gore-tastic gems from all over the world proved that there is still innovative and captivating horror out there.

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This has been a pretty difficult list to rank as the latter end of the year saw several sinisterly superb genre movies, all eerily excellent in their own ways, making them tough to choose between. Viewing the year as a whole, horror movies have sure been eclectic offering up something to satisfy everyone’s bloodthirst!

**Please Note that this list is a reflection of my own personal opinion and taste. If you agree or disagree with my picks, feel free to comment below, tweet me @hayleyr1989 or head over to my facebook page. Let me know your fang-tastic favourites of 2016.**

10. Cat Sick Blues (2015)

  • Directed By: Dave Jackson
  • Country: Australia
  • Australia Release Date: 21st September 2016
  • Seen at Celluloid Screams: 21st October 2016

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Cat Sick Blues is the feature length version of the short film of the same name. Ted (Matthew C. Vauaghan) suffers a breakdown when he loses his beloved pet cat which sends him on a horrific killing spree in the search for nine lives in order to resurrect his precious feline friend. At the same time traumatized Claire (Shian Denovan) has also lost her internet sensation cat under disturbing circumstances. Their paths cross and events take an even more twisted turn. It’s like Pet Semetary goes warped and is not for the faint hearted. Cat Sick Blues pushes the boundaries in both violence and sexual violence, placing the audience in an uncomfortable position where it’s unsure whether to laugh or be horrified. The tone is strangely unbalanced but is what makes the film compelling. Unapologetically unpleasant, Cat Sick Blues has clawed it’s way onto this list for being an unforgettable viewing experience this year.

Check out our Ghostface Girls Video from Celluloid Screams 2016 discussing Cat Sick Blues: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tC1HPsxpUz8

9. Creepy (2016)

  • Directed By: Kiyoshi Kurosawa
  • Country: Japan
  • UK Release Date: 25th November 2016
  • Seen at the Abertoir Horror Festival: 17th November 2016

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Creepy is a slow burning, atmospheric chiller from Pulse director Kiyoshi Kurosawa. A former police detective, Takakura (Hidetoshi Nishijima) is summoned by an ex-colleague to examine a case surrounding a missing family six years earlier. At the same time, him and his wife, Yasuko (Yuko Takeuchi) move to a new neighbourhood and get more than they bargained for when they come across their strange, enigmatic neighbour Nishino (Teruyuki Kagawa). What is he hiding? Have the couple unwittingly found themselves in grave danger? Filled with mystery and an incredibly intense tone throughout, Creepy is a movie that kept audiences on the edge of their seats in 2016. It doesn’t rely on blood and guts but it has nail-biting tension that keeps the audience engrossed from beginning to end. With a two hour run time, Creepy focuses on strong character development while keeping us guessing where the narrative will head next. Teruyki Kagawa gives a terrific performance as the potentially crazy neighbour sharing an antagonistic chemistry with Hidetoshi Nishijima’s Takakura. Creepy is a polished thriller, layered in intrigue and a must-see of 2016.

Read my full review on LoveHorror.co.uk: http://lovehorror.co.uk/horror-reviews/creepy-2016-review/

8. Train to Busan (2016)

  • Directed By Sang-ho Yeon
  • Country: South Korea
  • UK Release Date: 28th October 2016

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If you thought the zombie sub-genre was tired by 2016 then this highly talked about South Korean flick without a doubt turned it around. Train to Busan is a character driven, action packed zom com that allows for plenty of humour as well as depth and emotion. It centres on a young girl Soo-an (Soo-an Kim) and her workaholic single father Seok Woo (Yoo Gong) who board the fast train to take them to their destination. They however become derailed when a zombie outbreak occurs, now it’s time for the passengers to band together in a fight for survival. Train to Busan shares a typical plot line with every single film of this kind out there but what makes it so entertaining and so moving is the character depiction. The group of unlikely survivors work well. Soo-an and Seok come across a bickering married couple who are expecting a child, Sung Gyeong (Yu-mi Jung) and her husband Sang Hwa (Dong-seok Ma). With a child and expectant mother involved the stakes are raised allowing for stomach churning moments however the female characters prove strong and resourceful despite their circumstances. It’s young Soo-an who steals the show with a heartbreaking performance. It gears up towards an unforgettable finale with gallons of emotional impact. Train to Busan proves why the zombie flick when placed in the right hands can still be an excellent staple of horror.

7. Night Of Something Strange

  • Directed By Jonathan Straiton
  • Country: USA/Canada
  • UK Release Date: 22nd November 2016
  • Frightfest Screening: 26th August 2016

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Paying homage to all that 1980’s gory goodness Jonathan Straiton’s Night of Something Strange is a gross-out horror comedy that plays on the trope of why having sex in a horror movie is a really, really deadly idea! A group of unwitting teens become the victims of a sexually transmitted virus that runs rife transforming it’s victims into the living dead! It’s a love letter to 80s flicks and B-Movies such as Night of the Creeps (1986) and Evil Dead 2 (1987), it also features a typical slasher premise in the form of killer Cornelius (Wayne W. Johnson). Night Of Something Strange is a wild gore-fuelled ride from beginning to end. Expect all kinds of bodily fluids thrown at the screen, as this is a movie that certainly doesn’t hold back on the carnage. It’s a  movie made for gore enthusiasts and appreciators of 1980’s horror, Jonathan Straiton understands his target audiences and delivers exactly what they want. Night of Something Strange is the stand out comedy/horror of 2016.

For my full Frightfest Review on LoveHorror.co.uk, visit:

 http://lovehorror.co.uk/horror-reviews/night-something-strange-2016-review/

For my interview with director Jonathan Straiton visit:

http://lovehorror.co.uk/interview/interview-jonathan-straiton-director-co-writer-night-something-strange/

6. Dearest Sister (Nong Hak) (2016)

  • Directed By Mattie Do
  • Country: Laos
  • Seen at Celluloid Screams: 23rd October 2016
  • Seen at Abertoir Horror Festival: 17th November 2016

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Dearest Sister is one of the films I have covered heavily this year and is not one to be missed. Dearest Sister is Mattie Do’s second feature horror film and the second to be produced in Laos as a whole. In an authentic and cultured genre film, Dearest Sister tells the story of a young Lao woman’s place within her family as she cares for her visually impaired cousin Ana (Vilouna Phetmany). It transpires that her cousin’s impairment triggers a unique ability to communicate with the dead in which Nok (Amphaiphun Phommapunya- Chanthaly (2013)) uses for her own gain. Fantastically acted, emotionally driven and beautifully shot, Dearest Sister is a different, one-of-a-kind piece of genre cinema.

Read my full review fresh from Celluloid Screams including a link to the Ghostface Girls interview with Mattie Do and the film’s producer Annick Mahnert: https://mshayleyr1989.wordpress.com/2016/10/29/celluloid-screams-2016-dearest-sister-review/

Check out my piece on Dearest Sister from my Abertoir Horror Festival Coverage: http://lovehorror.co.uk/horror-features/abertoir-horror-festival-2016-part-three/

5. Trash Fire (2016)

  • Directed By: Richard Bates Jr.
  • Country: USA
  • Seen at Celluloid Screams: 23rd October 2016

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Richard Bates Jr. (Excision, Suburban Gothic) served up his best film to date with the deliciously venomous Trash Fire. Centring on a young couple who share mutual resentment towards each other, the time has come to either make or break their relationship when they receive life changing news. In one last ditch effort at redemption, Owen (Adrian Grenier) must face his long lost family at the request of girlfriend Isabel (Angela Trimbur). With a witty, razor sharp script and detestable dialogue, Trash Fire is an unrelenting horror comedy about family and making amends. The core cast display compelling performances from the two leads to the ghastly grandmother played by Fionnula Flanagan and the timid, secretive, disfigured sister played by Annalynne McCord. Trash Fire has it all, it’s engaging from start to finish with brilliant performances and a gut wrenching finale you won’t see coming. If you liked Excision and Suburban Gothic then you’ll absolutely love Trash Fire.

For my full review fresh from Celluloid Screams visit: https://mshayleyr1989.wordpress.com/2016/11/01/celluloid-screams-2016-trash-fire-review/

Ghostface Girls talk Trash Fire here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3mPNiBfN14

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4. The Unseen (2016)

  • Directed By: Geoff Redknap
  • Country: Canada
  • Seen at Abertoir Horror Festival: 19th November 2016

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As recently discussed in my Abertoir Horror Festival coverage, The Unseen was one of those unexpected gems where you enter a film with very little expectation and come out pleasantly surprised. This Canadian horror is very much a character driven piece with themes surrounding the importance of family and reconnecting before it’s too late. The Unseen featured some of the greatest visual effects in the genre this year as it literally depicts a man physically fading away. The Unseen centres on a father trying to make amends with his teenage daughter after abandoning her under mysterious circumstances several years previously. Aden Young and Julia Sarah Stone provide powerhouse performances, conveying authentic characters that the audience can get on board with. The Unseen isn’t outright horror and holds a more wide-scale appeal, it incorporates a fantastical subtext for it’s subject matter but at the heart of it it portrays an issue that many can identify with. Not one to be missed, The Unseen is a film that captures how we deal with extraordinary circumstances.

For my Abertoir Coverage and lengthier review of the Unseen, check out Love Horror: http://lovehorror.co.uk/horror-features/abertoir-horror-festival-2016-part-five/ 

3. We Go On (2016)

  • Directed By: Jesse Holland and Andy Mitton
  • Country: USA
  • Seen at Celluloid Screams: 23rd October 2016

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We Go On is hands down the most unsettling movie of 2016. It’s a film that challenges our innermost universal fear of death. The premise surrounds a troubled and extremely phobic man named Miles (Clark Freeman) who is willing to pay $30,000 if the existence of an afterlife can be proved much to the concern of his over protective mother Charlotte (Annette O’Toole). Again, We Go On proved to be very much character focused, with Miles being written complexly; he is too afraid to live in the moment without any guarantee of a certain outcome, that there’s something beyond his own mortality. It takes on a difficult subject matter and plays it out beautifully. We Go On is haunting and unnerving and featured one of the most creepy moments in a horror movie that got under the skin this year. We Go One resonates really well and leaves a lasting impression long after viewing. The performances are believable in this incredible, effective and chilling piece of modern supernatural horror.

For my full Celluloid Screams Review, visit:

https://mshayleyr1989.wordpress.com/2016/10/29/celluloid-screams-2016-we-go-on-review/

2. The Devil’s Candy (2015)

  • Directed By: Sean Byrne
  • Country: USA
  • Seen at Celluloid Screams: 22nd October 2016

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Sean Byrne (The Loved Ones) returned with a surprising second feature film that is far removed from his début, grizzly  Australian offering. The Devil’s Candy takes on a familiar premise centring on a family moving to a new house that isn’t what it seems. What sets The Devil’s Candy apart from similar movies is the strong characterization and excellent performances from it’s core cast. From the beginning the audience flawlessly become invested in the characters. There’s metalhead/artist dad Jesse (Ethan Embry), his hard working wife Astrid (Shiri Appleby) and chip off the old block daughter Zooey (Kiara Glasco). The family dynamics are irresistible to watch and as the plot unfolds we learn what lengths they will go in order to protect each other. The Devil’s Candy showcases characters that are fans of dark material but come across as the most down to earth people imaginable, smiting against the stigma that anyone who gravitates away from the norm has endured. The film incorporates some stunning yet satanic art work and a rocking heavy metal soundtrack plus gallons of nail-biting tension. The Devil’s Candy is one of the most solid films this year that has mass appeal.

My Celluloid Screams Review: https://mshayleyr1989.wordpress.com/2016/11/03/celluloid-screams-2016-the-devils-candy-review/

Honourable Mentions: The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016), The Neon Demon (2016), Monolith (2016), Let Her Out (2016), 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016). 

  1. Raw (2016)
  • Directed By: Julia Ducournau 
  • Country: France/ Belgium
  • Seen at Celluloid Screams: 23rd October 2016
  • Seen at Abertoir Horror Festival: 18th November 2016
  • To be released: March 2017

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It was the movie that generated copious amounts of controversy but we will forget all that because Raw is a truly awesome film and deserves to be talked about. It’s Ginger Snaps meets French art house horror in a coming of age tale about taking your first bite! Naive, vegetarian Justine (Garance Marillier) begins her first semester at veterinary school but is soon seduced by the hardcore rebellious lifestyle of her peers including older sister Alexia (Ella Rumpf). When she is pressured into consuming fresh meat for the first time her darker side begins to materialize to a jaw-dropping effect. Raw is tastefully shot, allowing for enough gore but leaving much to the imagination. Garance Marillier brings in the performance of the year making Justine a character that is equally likeable and detestable. It knowingly get’s under the skin while being surprisingly comedic in it’s own darkly twisted way. It embraces female sexuality in an empowering light which is refreshing to see from a genre piece. Raw is a gore-geously artistic film that contains a compelling narrative. It’s a shame the film has been plagued with unnecessary hype which clouds the fact that it is completely fantastic in what it does. I’ve been lucky to see Raw twice this year and I can’t wait for it’s official release in March so I can taste another pound of flesh!

Read my full review here: https://mshayleyr1989.wordpress.com/2016/11/02/celluloid-screams-2016-raw-review/ 

Abertoir Horror Festival Raw Coverage: http://lovehorror.co.uk/horror-features/abertoir-horror-festival-2016-part-four/

Thank you for reading. Comment below if you agree or disagree with my picks. Keep it subjective.

What a year it’s been for the genre, let’s look forward to what shocks and scares await us in 2017!

Thank you to all of you who support Hayley’s Horror Reviews and share the horror love along with me. Have a bloody, gory, fantastic happy new year!

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews

What’s Your Favourite Scary Movie? 20 Years of Scream.

Posted in Anniversary Pieces with tags , , , , , on December 19, 2016 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

It started with a sinister phone call and ended in a bloodbath. The genre-defying horror movie of the 1990’s turned twenty years old this week commemorating it’s USA release on the 18th December 1996. It wasn’t released in the UK until May 1997. Scream was one of the first films that pulled me into horror and without a doubt has left a lasting impression. Back in 1996 following the surge of popcorn slasher flicks throughout the 1980’s, the genre fell into a rut. It’s very common to hear that Scream was the film that had revitalized the slasher film as it challenged and critiqued all the tropes and conventions fans had become all too familiar with. While the early 90’s did produce some great horror films such as Candyman (1992), Misery (1990) and of course Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994) which broke new ground and brought the Elm Street franchise into a fresh new light, Scream is always the film that is viewed as the turning point for horror.

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What stands out about Scream is it’s slick, post-modern and scary. It brought the slasher film into an updated setting ready for the next generation of gore lovers. Both the tension and comedy aspects are well balanced in equal measure. At the time the most striking element of Scream was it’s ability to re-create a traditional slasher narrative while being self-referential and poking fun at itself. Having characters who knew and loved the genre well and used their knowledge to survive was ground-breaking stuff. Of course, the most iconic moment is the opening sequence which made the statement that “all bets are off” and “absolutely no one is safe”. The killing off of Drew Barrymoore’s Casey Becker was a genius idea proving that Scream wasn’t afraid to take risks.

DREW BARRYMORE Film 'SCREAM' (1996) Directed By WES CRAVEN 18 December 1996 SSI32760 Allstar Collection/DIMENSION **WARNING** This photograph can only be reproduced by publications in conjunction with the promotion of the above film. For Editorial Use Only

I can’t recall a time where I wasn’t aware of the existence of Ghostface. The costume was always popular around Halloween season and seemed to draw my attention. I actually did go trick or treating as the character complete with my fake knife and voice changer at a young age, further fuelling the fascination. I had wanted to see the Scream films for the longest time in the hope I would get absolutely terrified.  The opportunity finally came when I had not long turned twelve years old. The film was screening on Channel 4 in a late night slot and by then I had my own TV in my room which became the staple of late night horror movie watching. Whether consciously or not I had always gravitated towards darker media and have previously spoken about being freaked out by Nicholas Roeg’s The Witches (1990), re-watching Return to Oz (1985) and getting nightmares from an obscure CITV episode titled Frighteners (1996, TV) during childhood. However now was the time to experience some real, adult horror films, it was time to see if this highly anticipated movie would actually make me Scream!

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Instantly, I was impressed. Scream showcases some exceptional set pieces. It’s an exercise in pure tension that builds up really well before going for the jugular! The death scenes were well crafted and suspenseful but most of all the characters were multi-layered and easy to invest in. This was probably down to them being written with self-awareness which made them feel less generic. Neve Campbell plays Sidney as a final girl an audience can root for and gave an emotional performance. However the character who stood out the most was of course fan favourite Randy (played by Jamie Kennedy). Randy was the underdog, he never got the girl but what he did know was his horror movies and used his knowledge as a tool to survive, all these qualities make him endearing and to a degree somewhat relateable to horror obsessives. The “horror movie rules” party scene is cleverly constructed establishing that Randy is the character to take advice from in surviving a maniacal killer.

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The killer reveal is an absolutely twisted, jaw-dropping moment. It questioned the idea of does a killer really need a distinct motive to drive him/her to murder while the other side of it being rooted in pure revenge. The whole plot and build up of two years of torment from the killers is harrowing ending in a brutal cat and mouse game that leaves the audience reeling. Instead of being afraid of the on screen events I was deeply fascinated and realized it was possible for me to watch and enjoy horror movies. I’d tasted blood and wanted more!

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Scream was pretty much my introduction to the horror genre. It led me literally where I am today. It encouraged me to seek out all the films it referenced, I couldn’t wait to discover the fiendish frights of Jason and Freddy and from then on a whole lot more, there are so many great horror films I’m still discovering. Scream as a film and as a franchise has a very special place for many fans. It’s one of those where I remember exactly where I was and what I experienced when I first saw it. Twenty years on it’s still very much a significant film and a staple of the genre. Thank you Wes Craven, thank you Kevin Williamson for introducing me to horror and ultimately changing my life.

Happy 20th Anniversary Scream.

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

**Fifth Anniversary Review** Hayley’s Top 10 Favourite Horror Death Scenes Of All Time

Posted in Anniversary Pieces, Ghostface Girls, Love Horror with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 18, 2016 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Five years ago I was a film and television student in my first year at University. I decided to start a blog as a side project separate from my studies. It began as a way to express my views on recent films both independent and mainstream that I’d seen from all genres. Naturally, the first review I ever wrote was of Scream 4 (2011) then eventually I made the site completely horror specific and Hayley’s Horror Reviews is what it is today. Several great opportunities have come my way since beginning the blog, including the chance to get to know and review the work of a number of talented filmmakers. I am now very lucky to be writing for the Horror Movie review site LoveHorror.co.uk and working alongside Caitlyn Downs (from Scared Sheepless) on our collaborative project Ghostface Girls where we provide festival video coverage and record podcasts. Our next event will be the UK’s Horror Con in July 2016!

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In previous years my anniversary reviews have covered My Top 10 Horror Films of all time (since 2011 it has more than likely altered!), Urban Legends on screen and behind the scenes, why we watch Horror Films and last year my favorite underrated slashers. This year I’m taking on a countdown of a subject I’m surprised I haven’t covered by now. It’s all about the visual effects as I reveal my personal favorite horror movie death scenes. Death scenes are at the core of horror movies, even if a film might be particularly badly executed sometimes the saving grace can be some good old splatter. On the opposite end of the spectrum sometimes it’s what you don’t see and what’s implied that can really get under the skin. There’s also nothing more heart-breaking for a horror fan than when one of your favorite characters is hacked to pieces leading to emotional trauma!

Here are my top Horror Movie death scenes of all time! Remember folks, as always its subjective.

There will be spoilers, so get that TV on if you haven’t seen any or some of these films and come back to this article.

**WARNING** This Article will include blood, guts, gore and strong language. Not for the faint-hearted! 

Comment below if you agree or disagree with my choices or tweet me on @Hayleyr1989.

10. Final Destination (2000): Terry Chaney is splattered by a bus!

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To kick things off is a death scene so quick and unexpected it’s pure brilliance! This moment marked the beginning of the darkly twisted sense of humour in the Final Destination franchise. Up until this point Alex Browning (Devon Sawa) and his friends have survived a harrowing plane crash and are grieving over the apparent “suicide” of best friend Tod (Chad Donella) whose brother died on Flight 180. Both scenes deliver a suspenseful build up with gruesome results. This moment however takes place in the middle of the day, Alex and love interest Clear Rivers (Ali Larter) are trying to figure out death’s design. Enter rival Carter (Kerr Smith) and girlfriend Terry (Amanda Detmer). Carter is convinced that Alex is to blame for the deaths of the plane victims as well as Tod but he soon gets more than he bargained for! While antagonizing Alex, his long-suffering girlfriend finally snaps. In an ironic speech, Terry speaks about never wasting another second of her life and states Carter should have better things to do than fight with Alex. She then utters the immortal lines of “you can just drop fucking dead!”. Backing into the road Terry is hit by an incoming bus and the remaining survivors recoil in horror as her blood splatters on their faces. It’s the twisted irony of this scene that makes it surprising and thrilling letting the audience know that anyone can go at any time by any means.

9. Zombie Flesh Eaters (AKA. Zombi 2) (1979): Eye Splinter Scene

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Even without context the eye splinter scene from Lucio Fulci’s notorious ‘video nasty’ Zombie Flesh Eaters is an iconic cinematic moment in horror. The scene is so sqiurmworthy as you (literally!) see it coming a mile off but it doesn’t let up on the suspense. Paola, the wife of Richard Johnson’s character Dr. David Menard is alone in the house when a zombie breaks in. Actress Olga Karlatos displays a genuine look of horror as her vulnerable character attempts to bombard the Zombie from entering the house. Unluckily for her she is dragged through the door and impaled right through the eye with a piece of splintered wood. Her eye is pierced right through in a masterful visual effect, we see the eye squelched and the object penetrate right through her skull!  The moment sets the tone for the carnage to come making it one of Italian Horror’s nastiest kills.

8. I Spit on Your Grave (1978): Blood Bath

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The second video nasty on this list. I Spit on Your Grave is unapologetically exploitative cinema centering on the brutal, unrelenting rape of a young woman. Aspiring writer Jennifer (Camille Keating) retreats to the backwoods as she works on her novel, but she is horrifically brutalized and gang-raped by a group of local men. However, it wouldn’t be a rape-revenge film without a nasty dose of payback! After some time has passed Jennifer is back tougher and stronger than ever as she sets about to seek vengeance on her attackers. In one of the film’s most gruesome scenes Jennifer lures ring leader Johnny (Eron Tabor) into her car, inviting him around for some wet, and bubbly fun…or so he thinks! Jennifer hides a knife under the bath mat and as she begins to seduce Johnny when he least expects it she takes a knife to his most sensitive area!! It takes him a few moments to comprehend what’s happening while Jennifer leaves him there to bleed to death. She proceeds to lock him in the bath room and makes her way downstairs while Johnny yells that he can’t stop the bleeding. She drowns his screams out with a nice bit of classical music. The scene is particularly disturbing as Jennifer allows herself to be in a sexual situation with her rapist. Johnny completely goes along with it showing what a horrendous character he really is. It’s so well executed and unsettling, making ‘blood bath’ from I Spit on Your Grave one of cinemas best revenge death scenes of all time.

7. Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987): Welcome to Prime Time Bitch!

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There are many inventive death scenes in the most highly regarded Elm Street Sequel Dream Warriors but this one had to be selected as it captures Freddy Krueger’s (Robert Englund) darkly menacing, twisted sense of humor. While the Puppet Master moment and Needle fingers sequence are exceptionally creative and unique death scenes it’s difficult to overlook fame-seeking Jennifer’s (Penelope Sudrow) TV demise. This moment is fourth wall breaking and surreal as Freddy possesses the television, manifesting himself onto a late night talk show. The television turns static encouraging Jennifer to approach it. In a crazy visual effect mechanical arms emerge from the sides of the television, clutching Jennifer. Freddy materializes from the top of the television set sprouting antennas. He then smashes her skull through the television set uttering the iconic line “Welcome to prime time, bitch!”. The Elm Street franchise is known for its elaborate and creative death scenes that are more entertaining than a man in a mask just slashing with a knife. This scene is a solid example of how the franchise utilizes its special effects accompanied with quirky dialogue enhancing that when it comes down to Freddy Krueger anything is literally possible!

6. The Burning (1981): We’ve found our canoe!

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The Burning appeared on my list last year as one of my favorite underrated slasher films. It centers on a scorned caretaker who seeks revenge on the inhabitants of a summer camp where he suffered a horrific accident several years previous. It’s under the radar due to the success of Friday the 13th (1980) but then became infamous in the UK once it appeared on the Video Nasties list, and this death scene is the reason why! Tom Savini’s sensational gory FX during this scene cemented The Burning as being one of the first to receive it’s ‘video nasty’ reputation. A few of the camper’s head down the lake on a makeshift raft in order to fetch their canoe back. The typical teenagers argue while rowing but become excitable as they get nearer to the abandoned canoe. The scene is set up well using a sense of dread as they become closer and closer. No matter how many times you watch it and are aware what lies ahead it’s still shocking as the killer Cropsy (Lou David) appears from the canoe with his shears and the bloody massacre commences! This moment of the film features the image that appeared on the iconic cover art of Cropsy’s silhouette holding up the shears. It’s pretty harrowing as unlike the majority of slasher films the teenagers cast in the film genuinely look their age rather than having 25-year-old’s playing a 16-year-old’s. The fact that it takes place in broad daylight in an idyllic location makes this deadly moment even more horrific.

5. Hellraiser (1987): Jesus Wept

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This scene is one of my earliest, goriest cinematic memories and has made the list for being downright gruesome. At a young age this was one of the coolest death scenes in horror that I’d ever seen. It’s time for Uncle Frank (Sean Chapman) to get his just desserts at the hands of the Cenobites. Wearing the meat suit of his brother Larry (Andrew Robinson) he attempts to kill niece Kirsty (Ashley Laurence) in the attic but thankfully (as thankful as it gets in a horror movie situation!) Pinhead (Doug Bradley) and his demons appear ready to drag Frank’s damaged soul directly back to hell. Pinhead promised he had “such sights to show” us and this unrelentingly proved what the Cenobites were capable of. There’s an otherworldly presence to the scene with the bell chime ringing and the mist surrounding the attic. Hellraiser was famed for its dynamic make up effects, with Pinhead’s appearance making him an intriguing horror villain; but it’s Frank’s demise that is as grizzly and gory as it gets. As he raises a blade to Kirsty he is stopped in his tracks with a hook through the hand, chaining him to the Cenobites world forever. Hooks pierce his skin, tearing his face. As Kirsty recoils in sheer disgust Frank says “Jesus Wept” before being ripped apart, with blood and guts galore!

4. Inbred (2011): Dwight’s Dirrrrty Death!

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Over the past five years Inbred has become one of my favorite horror films. One of the several reasons is due to its creatively nasty death scenes. It stands out in what it does, with strong character development allowing the audience to empathize with its protagonists, as well as a twisted sense of tongue in cheek humor that equally puts us on the side of the villains. It’s somewhat of a black comedy but goes right for the jugular with a set of cruel and mean spirited methods of bumping off its victims. The warped villagers of Mortlake attend a show put on by local landlord Jim (Seamus O’Neill). Having already killed off one of the young lads involving vegetables and a horse, this time the Inbred’s capture Dwight (Chris Waller), the remaining protector of the group. Sacrificing himself for the safety of his care worker and fellow youth offenders, Dwight is subjected to a rather dirrrrrrty demise! Tied to a chair and forced to wear a wig, he is cruelly tormented by a man resembling a droog from A Clockwork Orange (1971) who proceeds to empty a hosepipe of shit down Dwight’s throat until he explodes all over the unusual members of the audience! It needs to be seen to be believed but commended for its use of old school FX over CGI giving us an old school backwoods bloodbath!

3. Der Fan (AKA. Trance) (1982): Killer Obsession

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Der Fan is a film I’ve mentioned a bunch of times on the site. An undiscovered gem that screened at Celluloid Screams in 2013, Der Fan enters unexpected territory with an unforgettable and bizarrely crafted death scene. A German Exploitation film, it pushed the boundaries with its female lead being played by a 16-year-old. Household name Desiree Nobuch of Radio Luxenburg fame played psycho fan Simone and did full frontal nudity in the film as well as acted out a scene of murder and cannibalism which certainly would not be done in cinema today! Simone sleeps with R (Bodo Steiger), a Gary Numan inspired pop star who she’s absolutely obsessed with. When reality bites and Simone becomes another used fan girl to R what happens next is completely out of the left field. In my original review I described it as one of the most “chilling and extreme” deaths in cinema. It’s lengthy, horrific, controversial and unsettling leaving the viewer feeling grubby once the credits roll, making it feel like a completely different film from the one that started. This is one I won’t spoil for you however if you’ve already had the experience of watching this underrated exploitation check out my original review.

2.Scream 2 (1997): Randy Meeks Death Scene

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Master team Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson taught us no one was safe in their iconic slasher-revival Scream. When Drew Barrymoore is killed off in the opening moments of a film it’s guaranteed that anything can happen! Scream 2 is the strongest sequel in the franchise as it raised the stakes. There are so many excellent set pieces in the entire film from the cinema slashing’s at the beginning to Sarah Michelle Gellar’s brutal demise being stabbed in the back and thrown out of a window; however, the death that really cuts close to the bone is that of Jamie Kennedy’s popular character Randy Meeks. Self-confessed “movie buff” Randy survived Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich) and Stu Macher’s (Matthew Lillard) reign of terror in the first installment closely following the horror movie survival rules. But even he knows that he could be disposable as a new Ghostface stalks the campus of Windsor College. Randy’s death scene is well executed and unexpected. The most shocking aspect is that unlike the previous deaths this one takes place in broad daylight. He is pulled into Gale’s (Courtney Cox) news van and stabbed repeatedly. It’s horrific as it goes unnoticed by crowds of people on the campus. The camera focuses on the van’s wing mirror as Randy is brutally killed, a group of students unknowingly walk by with a boom box drowning out his screams of pain! His bloodied face is then revealed. It’s tragic and heart-breaking as he never does get the girl and is a missing presence from the dynamics of the core characters. It’s certain that it’s Mrs Loomis (Laurie Metcalf) who murders Randy as she viciously attacks him for speaking “poorly” of her delightful son Billy in an act of revenge. The most ironic element of Randy’s death is because he knows the rules of a horror movie inside and out the killer cleverly catches him at the most unexpected moment and doesn’t wait until dark. Craven and Williamson kept the franchise fresh with surprises like this!

  1. I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997): Death of the Beauty Queen 

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What sets I Know What You Did Last Summer apart from its slasher counterparts is the well written and well-acted main characters. Sarah Michelle Gellar gives a tragic performance as Helen Shivers, the former Beauty Queen who loses her future after being involved in a hit and run and an ill thought out cover-up. After she witnesses the murder of her boyfriend Barry (Ryan Phillippe) at the hands of the psychotic fisherman; the police do next to nothing to help her. Helen’s death scene is harrowing as she almost makes it to safety. There’s a slow-paced build-up of tension from escaping a crashed police car to running for her life and hiding out in her sister’s store; Helen fights for survival. Her death isn’t shown explicitly but is incredibly effective and atmospheric set to a chilling score composed by John Debney. Helen falls from the stores window but then finds an alleyway leading to the 4th July Summer parade. Fireworks blast into the air and there’s a sense of relief; albeit momentarily, Helen then approaches the parade but becomes distracted and looks behind her. She is then face to face with the evil fisherman and slashed with his sharp hook amongst a stack of tires. There’s quick cuts, flashing lights and the sound of screams but one thing is certain, the true heroine of the film has met her demise. Helen’s body is later discovered by traumatized best friend Julie (Jennifer Love Hewitt) on the fisherman’s boat officially confirming there is no return for her within future films in the series. It’s Gellar’s helpless performance as the doomed young woman that hits hard with emotional impact. As sad as the scene is it’s essential to the progression of the film as many fans agree if Julie had been the one to meet her maker it wouldn’t have achieved the same upsetting impact. Helen’s death goes to show that you don’t need to go gory to execute an effective and gut-wrenching death scene.

As always thank you for reading and supporting Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

….

Hayley Alice Roberts.

The Top 10 Horror Films of 2015

Posted in Anniversary Pieces, Horror Festivals, Love Horror, Uncategorized on December 31, 2015 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

That’s right gorehounds, it’s that time again. It’s time to reflect on the best genre films that struck a chord in 2015. In comparison to previous years 2015 on the whole has been underwhelming in terms of its new offerings, however as always a few stunning films emerged that remain long lasting in the mind. This was the year of the psychological horror, slow burners that seep under the skin achieving a shocking effect. Many of the films on this list focused on strong character development and emotional situations while being completely gripping whereas others featured the gory carnage we all love. Let’s take a look back on the fascinating films that 2015 offered up.

**Note: This is a subjective list and purely based on my own opinion, feel free to comment or tweet @HayleyR1989 if you agree or disagree with my choices. Links to full reviews will be provided. 2014 titles will be included that were released over in the UK during 2015.**

 

10. It Follows (2014)

  • Directed By: David Robert Mitchell
  • UK Release Date: 27th February 2015

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This John Carpenter influenced creepfest was one of the most talked about films amongst genre fans during the earlier part of the year and that praise was certainly not unfounded. Director and Writer David Robert Mitchell took the classic concept of the dangers of pre-marital sex and gave it a whole new stylish make over. Maika Monroe stars as Jay, a young woman who faces the unexpected following a meaningless sexual encounter, contracting a curse that relentlessly follows her until she passes it on to the next unsuspecting victim. A clear subtext is at play, however It Follows is more than just a metaphor. This time around there’s no Jason Voorhees ready to hack a sexually active couple to pieces, the threat comes across as much more eerie. The artistic cinematography accompanying traditional horror tropes made It Follows one of the most unique modern genre films.

Read my full review from July 2015 here.

9. Robbery (2015)

  • Directed By: Fire Lee
  • UK Premiere Date: 10th November 2015

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Robbery is the first of many titles featured on this list that screened at the Abertoir Horror Festival’s tenth anniversary celebration during November. Playing as a midnight film, Robbery is a crazy thrill ride, incorporating a Tarantino-esque visual style and layers of dark comedy. Anybody who has ever worked in retail can appreciate the satire as the action takes place in a 24 hour convenience store. Think a Chinese version of Clerks just with blood shed. Poor Ping (Derek Tsang) is having a terrible time in his new job, his boss is repulsive and he’s having no luck selling that dreaded product focus, but things are about to get much, much worse! Robbery becomes an ensemble piece that introduces a mix of colourful characters in an edge of the seat cat and mouse game. Robbery is an Asian horror that will steal you away! One to keep an eye(ball) out for!.

Read more detailed thoughts on Robbery from my Abertoir Horror Festival Coverage on Love Horror.

8. Deathgasm (2015)

  • Directed By: Jason Lei Howden
  • UK Release Date: 28th August 2015

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Each year there is always that crowd pleasing film that doesn’t take itself too seriously, has fun with its concept and blurs the lines between horror and comedy, this year that film was Deathgasm. Think Evil Dead meets heavy metal and you’d be on the right track in understanding what this New Zealand offering is all about. A tale of the misfit turned hero is at the centre as self-proclaimed metalhead Brodie has his life turned upside down and is sent to live with his less than accepting Aunt, Uncle and cousin. Seeking solace in Metallica and Trivium to name a few, Brodie makes some like-minded friends including the rebellious Zakk and falls for the beautiful Medina who on the surface appears out of his league. Along with Zakk, Brodie forms the rocktastic band Deathgasm, but soon things take a demonic turn when the band perform some ancient sheet music that unleashes hell on earth! Deathgasm is too much fun and doesn’t let up with its bloody brilliant special gore effects. It’s in your face madness and ideal for a festival crowd or getting a gang of friends together with a few beverages. What’s not to love?! News recently emerged that a sequel is in the works, Deathgasm Part 2: Goremageddon.

Check out my full review from this year’s Celluloid Screams Horror Festival here.

7. Fatal Frame (2014)

  • Directed By: Mari Asato
  • UK Premiere Date: 14th November 2015

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Fatal Frame was another stand-out from this year’s Abertoir line-up. The origins of its source material is interesting as Fatal Frame is not only an adaptation of a Japanese video game known as Project Zero, but the plot used in the film version is based from a tie-in novelization titled Fatal Frame: A Curse Only Affecting Girls. The film is stunning for its striking imagery and unnerving tone. It captivates the audience from start to finish. This female-centric tale is set in an all girls boarding school, surrounding the mysterious disappearance of popular girl Aya. When a spooky photograph of her is spread amongst the pupils, girls begin to die one by one, now its up to Michi to discover how to defeat the curse and uncover some disturbing secrets along the way. Fatal Frame is reminiscent of classic Japanese supernatural chillers such as Dark Water and Ringu in tone. It remains eerie without resorting to cheapening the atmosphere with jump scares and a sense of dread is constant. Ophelia’s Song is used thematically throughout acting as its own presence. For a strong video game adaptation with a cleverly woven and engaging narrative, Fatal Frame is one to watch.

Click here for my Abertoir Horror Festival Review.

6. Digging Up the Marrow (2014)

  • Directed By: Adam Green
  • Released On Demand & DVD in 2015

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Despite screening at Film4’s Frightfest back in  August 2014, Adam Green’s cleverly crafted faux-documentary wasn’t released On Demand and DVD until this year. For me, this was one of last year’s eagerly anticipated films and its true what they say, its advisable to go into this knowing as little as possible. Digging up the Marrow featured in many top ten lists last year so I’m pleased it can finally be included in my 2015 picks. Ray Wise steals the show as the odd and obsessive Mr Dekker who Green (playing himself) interviews on the basis of discovering some enigmatic underground creatures that Dekker claims actually do exist! Digging up the Marrow completely breaks the fourth wall. There’s phenomenal art work created by Alex Pardee which opens up the imagination in order to envision what the creatures could be like. It’s a compelling and clever mocumentary that provides an insight into the struggles of filmmaking, a look into fandom at horror conventions and  to top it all off features cameos from Kane Hodder, Tom Holland and Michael Garris alongside a very curious storyline.

I reviewed Digging up the Marrow back in June over on Love Horror.

5. Tales of Halloween (2015)

  • Directed By: Axelle Carolyn + Various
  • UK Release Date: 31st August 2015 (Frightfest)

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Anthology horror has become increasingly popular over the past few years and without a doubt Tales of Halloween is the most incredible. Its a visual treat that allows us to bask in the traditions and iconography of our favourite season. With segments from Darren Lyn Bousman featuring a devilish Barry Bostwick, there’s the shockingly sick Trick from Adam Gierasch, Pollyanna McIntosh is the wickedest of witches in Lucky McKee’s Ding Dong and Mike Mendez puts an adorable little spin on a Friday the 13th style slasher making Tales of Halloween a campy, blood-soaked treat. Adrienne Barbeau brilliantly pays homage to her iconic role in John Carpenter’s The Fog as she narrates between segments and over the gorgeous opening sequence. Atmospheric and beautifully shot with sleek cinematography that captures the wonder of Halloween with the darkly menacing stories it contains.

Fresh from the Abertoir Festival, check out my review of each segment here.

4. Francesca (2015)

  • Directed By: Luciano Onetti
  • UK Release Date: TBC

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Surprise, surprise, another pick from the Abertoir line-up and this one ended up being an unexpected favourite. While I appreciate the giallo sub-genre and particularly enjoy the work of the master himself Dario Argento I wouldn’t say I’m a hardcore fan. With more recent neo-giallos such as Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears they appear more focused on impressive visuals while the plot thin on the ground. It’s completely subjective but the artier side of film isn’t really to my taste. Francesca was completely mind-blowing as it incorporated the two; visually it was created to look as if it had been made during the 1970’s with grainy filters while the plot centred on a classic whodunnit/murder mystery surrounding the disappearance of the mysterious Francesca. The film teases with the nasty especially the extra sequence at the end credits and builds up the tension well as something grizzly is about to occur. Francesca prides itself on authenticity, displaying the classic tropes and iconography that is associated with giallo. It’s an Argentinian production but the dialogue is spoken through the Italian language, completely impressive.

I covered Francesca on Love Horror as part of my Abertoir Festival coverage, feast your eyeballs on it here.

3. The Witch (2015)

  • Directed By Robert Eggers
  • UK Release Date: 11th March 2016

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By the Spring mainstream audiences will get to feast their eyes on the current most hyped up film from the genre. My advice would be to leave expectations at the door and enter this film with an open mind as it really is engaging, chilling and thought provoking. The critical acclaim it’s already received is completely deserving as its unique in its own right especially in terms of looking at modern horror cinema. Taking the concept of 1630’s New England folklore is unusual in itself however the result is an atmospheric, isolated, disturbing film centring on a family torn apart by hysteria and fear of witchcraft. Its compelling viewing with strong performances especially from the child actors who are just convincing and superb. The Witch is something different and actually left me shaken up once leaving the cinema. Its one that will haunt the audience long after viewing.

The Witch was another highlight from Abertoir, read my full review on Love Horror.

2. The Invitation (2015)

  • Directed By Karyn Kusama
  • Screened at Celluloid Screams: 23rd October 2015

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The Invitation is an outstanding psychological thriller featuring a superb ensemble cast from Jennifer’s Body director Karyn Kusama. Devastation and loss is at the centre for a group of friends getting together following a difficult tragedy that ripped them apart. Without having seen each other for a couple of years, the intrigue and suspense is upped as to why the time has come for them to meet again. Old rifts materialize and wounds are reopened along with the suggestion of a more sinister agenda. The Invitation is a film to enter in knowing very little as the audience will soon be compelled by the characters and the dynamics of their unusual situation and motivations. Stomach churning, gut-wrenching and unforgettable, The Invitation challenges typical conventions with a plot so captivating it will leave you reeling once the credits roll.

I reviewed The Invitation as my top film shown at Sheffield’s Celluloid Screams Horror Festival, read it here.

  1. Bait (2014)
  • Directed By: Dominic Brunt
  • UK Release Date: 4th September 2015

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Bait is the second collaborative feature from husband and wife team Dominic Brunt (Director) and Joanne Mitchell (Actress/Writer), their first being the zombie kitchen sink drama Before Dawn. Bait is a completely different beast and was the film of the year that kept the heart pounding and the pulse racing. At the heart of the piece is gritty realism as it centres on two friends played by Joanne Mitchell and Victoria Smurfit who innocently take out a loan from the charming Jeremy (Jonathan Slinger) in order to progress with their new catering business. Events soon turn bitterly sour when Jeremy proves to be more than meets the eye and the two women are embroiled in a terrifying nightmare with little hope for escape. Bait’s (originally titled The Taking) most profound element is that it takes a bleak look at 21st Century Britain, under Cameron’s government and the struggles of the working class. It focuses on well-written strong women who are doing what they can to survive. Its not for the faint hearted and at no point lessens its grip on the brutality.

Bait was the first genre film I viewed this year that completely blew me away and it will be exciting to see what Mitchell-Brunt Films have to offer next following two strong but very different features.

I reviewed Bait in depth pre-Frightfest, take a look here.

Hayley’s Horror Reviews wishes all her followers a happy and healthy 2016, filled with blood, guts and ghouls of course! It’s been a dynamic year for the genre and let’s look forward to which direction horror will take in 2016.

Hayley Alice Roberts.

Hayley’s Horror Reviews

 

I wanna go, to the late night, double feature picture show! Rocky Horror at 40!

Posted in Anniversary Pieces, Love Horror with tags , , , , on October 29, 2015 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Take a jump to the left and then a step to the right and sink your teeth into my latest piece on The Rocky Horror Picture Show’s 40th Anniversary over on Love Horror. This film is extremely special/important to me so it was an honour to be asked to review its brand, spanking new blu-ray edition.

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http://lovehorror.co.uk/latest/the-rocky-horror-picture-show-1975-40th-anniversary-blu-ray-review/

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews

**Fourth Anniversary Article** My Top Six Slaughter-tastic Underrated Slashers!

Posted in Anniversary Pieces with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 17, 2015 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Slasher films; low-budget, gory-fuelled romps; masked killers lurking in the shadows ready to slash n’ hack their sexually charged teen victims who never ever learn their lesson!

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Despite being considered bottom of the barrel when it comes to our great genre especially after the 80’s mass saturation of endless sequels leading to never-ending franchises, there’s something that always brings us back to the slasher film. There’s the entertainment factor, the creative gore effects and on a deeper scale the social messages underneath the surface of all the blood, guts and sex! Let’s not forget that some of today’s most famous actors began their careers getting bloodied up by a super-human lethal killer, there’s that Depp bloke you may have heard of who’s done a few films here and there and that Kevin Bacon guy who is busy selling ‘the UK’s fastest mobile network’ these days; to name a few!

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Most will argue that the slasher reached its peak during the early 80’s; notably as Jason rose from the murky depths of Camp Crystal Lake for the third time. The slasher was  semi- revived in popularity again later in the decade with Child’s Play then most prolifically in the mid-90’s with post-modern hit Scream which has since paved the way for the train of remakes, spoof films and more a brutal type of horror in the shape of Saw, Hostel and The Collection from the mid 00’s to the present day.

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If it wasn’t for slashers I probably wouldn’t be the horror freak (I mean, fanatic!) I am today. It was discovering the Scream/Elm Street/Friday franchises at a young age that aided my growing interest in the genre. There was nothing better than coming home from school and watching the latest taped VHS of whatever slasher had been on TV the previous night instead of doing any of that boring homework stuff! For me, slashers represent nostalgia, escapism and fandom. To this day slashers still maintain a level of popularity, they prove increasingly marketable and continue to be revived. Thanks to films such as The Town that Dreaded Sundown (2014), Stage Fright (2014) and the Hatchet series (2006-2013) the sub-genre is alive and well and is slowly being taken in new, fresh directions! Slashers are pretty easy films to watch however there’s plenty lurking underneath the surface to interpret; there’s running themes of murder and revenge, a level of mystery and they are played out as cautionary tales for teenage viewers. There are always consequences for bad decisions. Slashers reflect a universal fear in society that are applicable to their cultural and historical contexts e.g casual sex in 80’s slashers used as a metaphor for the AIDS scare.

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Its been four years since I began reviewing so what better way to celebrate that take a look back at my personal favorite entries from the sub-genre that made me horror obsessed. This list will not contain the typical choices of Halloween, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, A Nightmare on Elm Street etc. we all know they are critically-acclaimed and completely awesome and rightfully so! However, this list will contain films that are appreciated by a genre audience and have generated a cult following over the years but are not as well regarded among the mainstream. Some films included also may have been popular on their original release but have since gone under the radar. So here it is, Hayley’s Horror Reviews most beloved slasher films.

**WARNING: Will contain Spoilers!**

6. Prom Night (1980)

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Prom Night is what happens when you capitalize on the popularity and cast the star of hit slasher Halloween in order to create low-budget Canadian horror flick. Filmed over 24 days during 1979, director Paul Lynch struggled to achieve finance for his movie about a massacre circulating around a high school dance; that was until Jamie Lee Curtis who was making a recognizable name for herself as the final girl of horror at the time came on board as Prom Queen Kim Hammond. Paramount expressed an interest in distributing the film however would only give it a limited theatrical release whereas Avco Embassy offered a much wider release in which Lynch decided to go with. Also starring Leslie Nielsen, Prom Night was popular around the drive-in theater circuit and was somewhat financially successful upon its release in 1980, making it Canada’s highest grossing horror movie of the year.  Its a classic tale of revenge, a prominent theme of the Slasher. Six years before the main events take place a young girl is taunted and accidentally killed by a group of mean-spirited kids and the blame is placed on a local pervert who is arrested for the crime, flash forward to the ‘present day’ of the movie and someone has bloodthirsty revenge on their mind; but the question is who saw the “accident” and knows what they did?

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Halloween’s Producer Irwin Yablans advised Lynch to center the film around a seasonal setting, building on the success of the  John Carpenter classic. Lynch opted for the prom scenario and tied the his premise around a story written by Robert Guza Jr. that told the tale of a tragic accident that had come back to haunt the children who were involved several years later. Prom Night has the classic makings of a traditional slasher but it has its own unique tone. What’s most striking is it builds up the characters and plot slowly, introducing us to the self-righteous teenagers who are about to get more than they bargained for. Essentially, its what happens when you cross Carrie with Saturday Night Fever, which is an apt description as there’s plenty of disco galore and polished choreographed dance sequences that sort of stall the carnage but creates a kind of spectacle. If you enjoy blood and dancing, like myself, Prom Night is one for you! While not as popular as its contemporaries, genre fans will take something from it as one of the more underrated slashers of the early 80’s that knew how to exploit the slasher movie marketing machine!

5. Scary Movie (2000)

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Scream set the rules, then generated dozens of copycats. Some really held up prominently I Know What You Did Last Summer and Urban Legend while too many to name fell flat. The concept had been taken so far and in the four years since its release, the slasher was dying out once again. Something needed to come along and shake things up and thanks to the comedic talents of the Wayans brothers, that something certainly did! While not the first slasher spoof, Student Bodies (1981) takes that crown, Scary Movie is hip, crude and satirical of the contemporary horror of that period. You will never be able to watch Scream, Last Summer, The Matrix and The Blair Witch Project in the same way again!

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Scary Movie cleverly weaves the fantastical story mainly poking fun at Scream and Last Summer, while being non-stop hilarious throughout. There are some genuinely amusing critiques, the characters ponder about who would be cast to play them if they were in a slasher movie; they comment that actors in their late 20’s-early 30’s would be the most likely candidates, creating an awkward exchange with that being the cast’s actual ages! Shannon Elizabeth’s aptly named Buffy Gilmore possibly has the best death scene, she fails to take the killer seriously, critiquing how a typical death scene in a slasher will go as she’s hacked to pieces until she’s a talking severed head!  Regina Hall equally steals the show in a too funny for words parody of Jada Pinkett-Smith’s Scream 2 murder scene and Marlon Wayans is completely memorable as loveable stoner Shawty. While its a product of its time by today’s standards, who still remembers the “Wassup” Budwiser advert that gets the parody treatment?! For fans you’ll be surprised how hilarious it really is even fifteen years later. A batshit blend of laughs and gore, Scary Movie poked fun but manages to be an entertaining and outrageous comedy that literally slashes the fourth wall!

4. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter

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Well what a misleading title! In all fairness, in the documentary Camp Crystal Lake Memories its stated that the intention was to lay the tormented Jason to rest once and for all after this instalment! But if something is profitable then why stop?! The Final Chapter picks up where Part III left off. Jason (played by stuntman Ted White this time around) is presumed dead is rushed to the morgue only for him to rise off the cold slab and brutally slay an unsuspecting nurse and frisky doctor! Immediately The Final Chapter ups the gore spectacularly with each kill proving more blood thirsty than ever before. Some kills come off as repetitive e.g. horror’s fixation with shower murders that inevitably aren’t as shocking as Psycho (1960) was but these are certainly some of Jason’s goriest moments. Its thanks to the return of FX master Tom Savini who effectively returned to finally kill off his own creation. Typically, The Final Chapter does feature a group of self-absorbed, horny teenagers with one thing on their minds but it also shifts the focus to a family staying at the camp. Divorced mother Mrs Jarvis (Joan Freeman), her teenage daughter Trish (Kimberly Beck) and young son Tommy (Corey Feldman) bring in a new dynamic, representative of the changes in familial roles in America that were emerging at the time, notably the father is absent in the film. A metaphorical external fear is present with Jason lurking in the backdrop of the family’s separation and it paves the way for Friday’s original theme of the protective mother figure to be incorporated.

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Corey Feldman is brilliant as the young Tommy Jarvis, establishing his status as one of the franchises most popular characters. He is the first pre-teen to be featured in the Friday series and his character single-handedly breaks the traditional final girl convention by being the one to ultimately defeat Jason and protect his older sister. His performance is genuine and brings in authenticity, he was actually frightened during the scene where Jason grabs him through the window. The Final Chapter is iconic in its own right, it continued Jason’s hockey mask legacy that began in Part III, it also confirmed Mrs Voorhees’s (Betsy Palmer) first name as Pamela, as seen on her graveside as the teenagers drive to Camp Crystal Lake. Finally, Crispin Glover starred as the awkward Jimmy Mortimer pre-Back to the Future fame. The Final Chapter is my favourite instalment for the grizzly gore effects, the shift in dynamics, the return to the Jason POV shots instead of the stepping into the frame style they used in Part III, it bravely having a young boy take on Jason and its ambiguous ending.

 3.The Burning (1981)

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Tom Savini turned down Friday the 13th: Part 2 to bring his splatterific, gory visuals to life in 80’s camping slasher The Burning. Taking inspiration from Peeping Tom and the slew of similar films that were consistently being churned out during the decade (its been debatable that it was in production the same time as Friday 1), The Burning was certainly ahead of its time featuring a killer audiences were able to empathize with. Bizarrely, it found itself banned in the UK under 1984’s video recordings act due to the graphically violent and now infamous raft scene. It challenged typical conventions in regards to pre-marital sex, it was much more self-aware than the films that came before it and also featured a final boy instead of the final girl slasher staple. I wrote extensively about The Burning during one of my Halloween Month specials which can be read here. I also discuss The Burning in the context of the Video Nasties panic in this video:

2. Tourist Trap (1979)

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Stephen King took the words right out of my mouth; in his book Danse Macabre he describes Tourist Trap as an “obscure classic”. J A Kerswell, who wrote my favourite guide to the slasher ever, Teenage Wasteland referred to it as “an interesting sub-genre film”. Both are incredibly valid statements. Unlike Halloween released a year previous, Tourist Trap doesn’t have the mainstream appeal but there’s something so freakish about it you won’t be able to take your eyes off the screen. Possibly used as the primary inspiration for 2005’s non-remake of House of Wax, Tourist Trap sees five teenagers become the victims of a deranged psychopath with telekinetic powers who lures them to his run-down Wax museum located  in the middle of nowhere.

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Aside from the undeniably creepy visuals that see wax figures come to life entering into uncanny valley territory, what’s incredible about Tourist Trap is its use of sound. Italian composer Pino Donaggio creates an otherworldly sense using breathy female vocals for the mannequins that proves effective. The sound effects are the film’s most outstanding factor, a bizarre atmosphere is created placing a sense of unease for the audience throughout, without its strangeness diegetic sound the film certainly wouldn’t have managed the same impact. Tourist Trap has a considerably small core cast creating an isolated and compact feeling. Chuck Connors is unforgettable as the ambiguous Mr Slausen, who is definitely a fascinating slasher villain. We discover his back-story is again cemented in the slasher’s favourite trope of revenge however he is phenomenally creepy in his methods of murder. One victim Tina (Dawn Jeffory-Nelson) meets a painful end by having her face slowly covered with wax, her skin is burned and she is suffocated. The whole film’s tone, including the death scenes has something so mean-spirited about it! Many genre fans will say Tourist Trap needs to be seen to be believed. Its a truly fantastic, bizarre and mesmerizing slasher film that wholly deserves its cult status.

1. Sleepaway Camp (1983)

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Happy Campers gather round as we take a look at the best underrated slasher film of the 1980’s (In my humble opinion, of course!). Instead of a masked maniac slicing and dicing his victims, Sleepaway Camp offers a whole new kind of killer, the mysteriously sweet, thirteen year old and trans-gender Angela (Felissa Rose). A tragic accident occurs in the opening sequence that sees a young child killed, years later cousins Ricky (Jonathan Tiersten) and Angela are sent to Camp Arawak for the summer by Angela’s eccentric Aunt (one of my stand out performances in any film of this kind!). At the camp, a bloody rampage begins, which sees a bunch of young teens with enraging hormones and the corrupt staff slaughtered! Sleepaway Camp weaves in some taboo themes which were becoming prominent within society during the 80’s. Both gender and sexuality are explored along with bullying and familial issues. Strong hints are evident throughout the film in regards to Angela’s anxieties and motive with the symbolism of phallic objects used as murder weapons, hair straighteners anyone?! Sleepaway Camp heavily uses POV shots, conveying that the killer could literally be anyone, cleverly masking Angela’s reveal until the shocking end!

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The film is mainly overlooked due to its low-budget feel and hammy acting (more so from the adults!) but this film and its subsequent sequels have an endearing quality to them, even Return to Sleepaway Camp (2008) which is pretty laughable, in a good way! The sequels starring Pamela Springstein as Angela are also amazingly fun to watch, especially Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers (1988).  It pushes the boundaries in regards to actually featuring characters playing their ages, a risky move for the sub-genre at the time having a cast so young in a film of this kind. Sleepaway Camp is pretty much an enjoyable entry in the sub-genre. The killer’s identity is unexpected and fantastically twisted. Angela endures cruelty at the hands of the more ‘well-developed’ campers especially Judy (Karen Fields) who utters the quotable line, “She’s a real carpenter’s dream: flat as a board and needs a screw!” adding to the tension and building on Angela’s insecurities, therefore its no surprise that she snaps! Sleepaway Camp is distinctive in its own right. Its memorable enough to be beloved by its fans and is extraordinarily warped.

Hope you’ve enjoyed my trip down slasher movie memory lane. Here’s a big thank you to everyone who follows and supports my site as well as the other side projects I’m involved in. You’re why I keep on writing about the movies I adore. Here’s to another four years of blood, guts and gore!

Hayley Alice Roberts.

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.