Archive for Big Bad Wolves

The Top Ten Horror/Genre Movies of 2013

Posted in Horror Festivals with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 29, 2013 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

As 2014 soon approaches us it is time to reflect on the genre movies that held an impact this year. Unlike last year which saw massively, popular titles like  American Mary and Sightseers, 2013 has been underwhelming in that sense with what has been on offer from the violent and sinister side of cinema. With that said however, there have been some innovative, hard-hitting and thought-provoking independent films that remain long lasting in the mind and fully deserve the recognition that the lacking-in-quality mainstream films have received. 2013 also saw a ground-breaking re-boot of one of the 80’s/90’s most popular franchises that surprised a hoard of fans. A few spooky, supernatural entries have emerged as well as the crossover between horror and disco music in some grindhouse, throwback fun! The majority of the films on this list have already received coverage from Hayley’s Horror Reviews and Scared Sheepless, therefore summaries will be provided as well as the links to my full reviews. Hope you’ve all had a goreific Christmas and have a Happy Horror New Year!

10. The Collection (2012)

  • Directed By Marcus Dunstan
  • Original Release Date: 30th November 2012, USA

collection  The reason I’m including a film that originally came out in 2012 is due to the fact it gained a wider release in 2013 on blu-ray and DVD. The Collection was an unpleasant surprise and I mean that in a positive light. This film is proof of how a modern, horror sequel can find itself superior to the original. While The Collector was dull and contrived and came off as a knock-off Saw film, director Marcus Dunstan raised the stakes in the second installment which included an imaginative, blood-soaked and unforgettable opening sequence which saw a mass slaughter of several young party-goers in an abandoned warehouse! Josh Stewart returns as Arkin, a victim of the ambiguous serial killer who goes by The Collector. Second time round he is blackmailed into rescuing Elena (Emma Fitzpatrick), the masked killer’s latest capture from his warehouse, filled with torturous traps! Less torture porn and more edge-of-the-seat thriller, The Collection keeps its audience gripped as Arkin leads a team of police officers to the Collector’s lure only for them to inevitably get picked off one by one. The Collector himself is brutal and irredeemable and is currently one of the genre’s most underrated horror killers. What makes him interesting is the film doesn’t feel the need to create some measly backstory in an attempt to explain his actions, he is the embodiment of ruthlessness and evil and is true identity is never fully revealed which leaves more to the imagination. While this may not be to everyone’s taste, especially those who became tired of films such as Saw and Hostel very quickly, Dunstan has taken a concept he knows well and challenged it a little bit more which proves that in the right hands more can be done with the sub-genre. The Collection is stylistic with some interesting and unexpected imagery, gory in the right places and not as predictable as one may expect!

9. The Purge (2013)

  • Directed By, James DeMonaco
  • Release Date: June 7th, 2013

The-purge  Following on from his performance in the terrifying, supernatural thriller, Sinister, Ethan Hawke’s latest genre role was eagerly-anticipated. The Purge took the home invasion sub-genre to a whole other level. A futuristic look at American society, the film takes a frightening view on the idea that what if violent behavior was suppressed with the exception of only one night a year without consequence! The premise turns into a traumatic ordeal for one wealthy family as a group of masked, psychotic, middle-class criminals led by the sophisticated yet demented “Polite Leader” invade their highly-secured home. They bring with them the nastiest of threats if they don’t hand over an African-American known as the “bloody stranger” who has also entered their home in the hope for safety. With the non-violent Sandin family at the forefront of the chaos; tension is created as viewers will be left wondering if they’ll sacrifice the life of another human being in order to save their own skin? Or whether they’ll take on the thugs, putting all their lives on the line. The masks worn by the criminals are inventive and provide a sense of creepiness with their menacing grins. While not overly original, The Purge attempts to cover unexplored ground when it comes to the home invasion movie and the concept brings in a different dynamic. By the film’s conclusion an unexpected twist is in place that will leave the audience on edge as an element of security is cleverly taken away. Clearly the formula is in demand with the upcoming sequel set for release in 2014.

For my full June 2013 Review, Click Here.

8. To Jennifer (2013)

  • Directed By James Cullen Bressack
  • Original Release Date, 15th October 2013, USA.

jennifer  2013 saw the first Horror movie to be shot in its entirety on the iPhone 5, showcasing the full potential of D-I-Y film-making. While demonstrating a resourceful approach to the found-footage sub-genre, To Jennifer is accompanied by an engaging story that keeps up its enigma throughout. Played out with a sense of realism, when watching To Jennifer, its like viewing a home movie that you accidentally stumbled on but are determined to get to the end to find out what happens to these characters. This is the core similarity the film shares with Bressack’s previous hard-hitting film Hate Crime (2012) but that is where the resemblance ends between the two. The narrative of To Jennifer centers on love sick Joey (Chuck Pappas) who believes his long-term girlfriend Jennifer (Jessica Cameron) has been cheating on him. Enlisting the help of his cousin Steve (James Cullen Bressack), he goes ahead with shooting a video documenting his feelings with the intent of confronting his unfaithful partner. With high emotions on the line, intensity is created as Joey and Steve travel across the country to discover the truth about what Jennifer has really been up to! To Joey’s annoyance, Steve doesn’t take the situation as seriously as he’d like and brings along his buddy Martin (Jody Barton) along for the ride who continuously leads them astray as he encourages Joey to move on. Each characters perspectives are documented giving different insights into the story. Its as realistic as it can possibly be and builds itself up at a steady pace. To Jennifer is a psychological thriller rather than straight-up horror but it manages to remain suspenseful until the brutal end. There are plenty of gasp-worthy moments as the shocks are delivered. As a found-footage film it is easy to watch as Bressack opts out of the shaky-cam approach giving the film a more naturalistic feel. It’s well-acted, shot and directed as To Jennifer is the first of its kind, an iPhone feature film. But the root of the film is an examination of communication or lack there of in a world where the lines are blurred between reality and social networking.

Click Here for my full review from July 2013.

7. Chanthaly (2013)

  • Directed By Mattie Do
  • Original Release Date, 18th May 2013, Laos.

chanthaly  The first festival film to be included on this list. I viewed Chanthaly at the Abertoir Horror Festival back in November and it was one of the films I eagerly-anticipated from the line-up and it certainly didn’t disappoint. As a fan of supernatural, Asian Horror, Chanthaly had the potential to completely unnerve me especially following my first viewing of the trailer. Chanthaly is ground-breaking for two reasons. It’s the first Horror film to ever be made in Laos and the first film to be directed by a woman. The project was incredibly challenging for Mattie Do as she faced restrictions of what she could and could not show within her communist country and thereby had to shoot different scenes, ones that would be acceptable in Laos and ones that would be fine to showcase in more liberated countries. This included not being able to show any form of gore or show a man and woman kissing on screen as in Laos it is considered respectful not to put any actors out of their comfort zone. With a very interesting background, Chanthaly tells the story of a troubled young woman with a life-threatening heart condition who is haunted by memories of her deceased mother. Chanthaly is a slow-burner as it primarily focuses on the strained relationship between father and daughter as Chanthaly does not accept her mother died in child birth and thinks there’s more to it than her father has initially told her. Soon, Chanthaly begins to see the spirit of whom she thinks is her mother which threatens her already fragile family life. Due to the slow build-up, the scares are even more profound as they come out unexpectedly and manage to get under the skin. The film also features an adorable dog and what’s not to love about that?! Mattie Do doesn’t need to rely on the obvious jump scares and loud noises to convey that there is an otherworldly presence. With being both a chilling ghost story and a cultural examination, Chanthaly is one of the most interesting Asian Horror films to emerge in a long time.

Click Here for my review from the Abertoir Horror Festival.

6. Curse of Chucky (2013)

  • Directed By Don Mancini
  • Original Release Date, 24th September 2013, USA

coc2  Following a successful screening at the UK’s biggest, Horror Festival Fright Fest back in August, Curse of Chucky was released straight onto DVD this Autumn and I for one couldn’t wait to see if the newest installment in the popular 80’s franchise would continue to be successful in 2013. It had been eight years since Chucky’s last murderous rampage in the abysmal Seed of Chucky (2005) and the series was in dire need of a re-vamp if it was ever going to be well-received. Mancini re-worked the film’s style which achieved the perfect balance of comedy and terror that reminded fans why we love the pint-sized killer doll in the first place. Instead of going down the tired remake route, Mancini focused on a whole new backstory that involves Charles Lee Ray before he transferred his own soul into the Good Guy doll and a score he is hell-bent on settling. Fiona Dourif provides an outstanding performance as the terrorized Nica, a young disabled woman who finds herself under Chucky’s wrath. As her family begin to drop off one by one, she discovers there is more to her family history involving the red-headed maniac doll that she ever imagined. Curse of Chucky brings in a sense of nostalgia while going straight for the jugular. It has its funny, ironic moments but remains brutal at the same time. The ending was beyond superb and extremely satisfying. Curse of Chucky defied expectations and came out as an incredibly decent genre film. Recent news suggests the series may yet continue in a possible sequel in the near future.

Click Here for my full review from October 2013.

5. Du Hast Es Versprochen (Aka. Forgotten) (2012)

  • Directed By Alex Schmidt
  • Original Release Date, 20th December 2012, Germany

201303_268861_3_024  Another entry that was screened at this year’s Abertoir Horror Festival. Forgotten became one of my absolute highlights of 2013’s line-up. An atmospheric, psychological drama/thriller, Forgotten incorporates plenty of twists and turns as it uncovers a childhood mystery for the protagonist Hanna (Mina Tander). When going through a rocky patch in her marriage, Hanna is reunited with her old friend Clarissa (Laura De Boer) by chance. Taking her young daughter, Clarissa and Hanna venture to the holiday home they spent many happy years in. But soon a threat lurks in the shadows, Hanna becomes haunted by a third friend who slipped her mind all those years ago and now seeks answers as to why the mysterious little girl keeps reappearing and what score she has to settle. What appears like a straight-forward supernatural chiller, Forgotten brings in an unexpected, thought-provoking twist that shocks to the core. Some audience members did feel the twists went too far however it came as a brave move for the film to break conventions and challenge expectations. The scariest moments come in the claustrophobic setting accompanied by some subtle jump scares that are enough to chill the bones. It’s a film that’s long-lasting in the mind yet leaves a satisfying conclusion. It’s a difficult film to discuss as I don’t want to give too much away! All I will say is check out Forgotten if you’re in the mood for a late night creepy little film with plenty of surprises up its sleeve. One to watch with the lights out!

Click Here for my Abertoir Horror Festival Review.

4. Discopathe (2013)

  • Directed By Renaud Gauthier
  • Release Date, 2nd November 2013, Canada

He was discopathemade for Loving You! I have a confession, I never liked the movie Saturday Night Fever (1977), the only aspect of that movie that stood out for me was its Bee Gees infectious soundtrack that remains popular today. You could therefore argue that judging by my tastes, Renaud Gauthier’s Discopathe is the perfect alternative. I first watched the film at Celluloid Screams Horror Festival back in October where it proved to be an absolute crowd-pleaser and the perfect closing film, leaving the audience on a high. Some may go into Discopathe expecting a black comedy/horror, which yes it does have elements of, however it is also a throwback to 70’s exploitation films in terms of its look and tone. The film has some dark, menacing and brutal moments amongst the tongue-in-cheek performances and humor. It’s pure, late night horror movie fun. The plot focuses on a young man named Duane Lewis, who is going about his business just fine until the summer of 1976 where he is exposed to a new breed of popular music that brings back memories of a traumatic past experience involving his father. The sounds of disco fails to make Duane dance but massacre anyone who crosses his path. Following the murder of a young woman at a retro night club, Duane flees to Montreal and takes up a new identity as Martin, the “deaf and dumb” caretaker of an all girls Catholic school. But Duane can’t escape those catchy, disco beats and feels compelled to kill again! Gauthier captured the sleazy side of exploitation and grindhouse in true 70’s style with grainy effect. When introducing the film he insisted the film to be played loud which added to the full enjoyment as KISS “I was made for Loving you” blasts into the audience towards the film’s climax. If you know what you’re letting yourself in for, Discopathe proves extremely entertaining and definitely one to catch with an audience or with a group of friends over a few drinks!

Click Here for my Celluloid Screams 2013 Review.

3. Chimeres (2013)

  • Directed By Olivier Beguin
  • Release Date, 5th July 2013, Switzerland.

Chimeres-Teaser  Another entry from Celluloid Screams 2013, Chimeres became a festival highlight for being the vampire film genre fans have been waiting an eternity for! Chimeres is very engaging as it allows the audience to get an in-depth view of the characters before introducing any kind of horror element, giving us the chance to get invested in the couple, Alex (Yannick Rosset) and Livia (Jasna Kohoutova). This is also aided by the strong on screen performances from both leading actors who provide believable chemistry as the heartbreaking tale of blood, addiction, love and fangs is told before us! Alex is involved in a devastating car accident while the couple are on holiday in Livia’s place of birth, Romania. When rushed to hospital, he is given an emergency blood transfusion which results in some pretty unusual side effects. Gradually Alex develops a vampyric nature as the film depicts how a long term relationship can survive in the circumstances, with the vampire aspect cleverly used as a metaphor. Olivier Beguin intended to separate the film from others in the sub-genre by creating a strong character study rather than having the vampire element as the reason the couple are brought together. The depiction of the male and female characters in Chimeres demonstrates equality. Despite having a strong, creature-of-the-night boyfriend, Livia is equally as tough with emphasis on the fact she kick boxes and can handle herself when it comes down to it, physically and emotionally. This provided a refreshing spin reminding us of why Buffy The Vampire Slayer appealed in the first place and how much vampire themed films and TV shows as of late have lacked empowering female characters. Livia is the embodiment of a tough, female character, both strong and flawed but ultimately the film allows its audience to believe in the relationship and empathize with both characters. With some mezmerizing visuals, Chimeres is the best vampire film that has emerged in recent years, its passionate, gory, intimate, emotional and devastating.

Click Here For my full Review from Celluloid Screams 2013.

2. Jug Face (2013)

  • Directed By Chad Crawford Kinkle
  • Original Release Date, 9th August 2013, USA

jug face  Backwoods movies don’t get any better than Jug Face. Featuring is own fascinating mythology, Jug Face stands out on its own as it breaks a different ground in the sub-genre. Jug Face is the compelling story of a teenage girl, Ada (Lauren Ashley Carter) who makes the shock discovery that she’s pregnant. While attempting to hide the news from her oppressive family who have already planned an arranged marriage for her, she makes a second discovery of the jug face. Within the community, the jug face represents the latest sacrifice and those who resemble it will have their blood drained into a murky pit as an offering, in a bizarre, religious cult-like tradition. The jug face is created by a local man Dawai, known as “the seer” and luckily for Ada, he’s her closest confidant, played by Sean Bridges. Ada hides the jug face from the entire community  which leads to a series of devastating events to follow that spiral out of her control. As the blood-shed begins Ada struggles to find a way to escape her fate because no matter what, the pit wants what it wants! While those around her must come to terms with the tragic losses seeping through their small-scale community.  One of the films highlights comes in the shape of the touching friendship between Ada and Dawai portrayed on screen. Actress Lauren Ashley Carter and Actor Sean Bridges have previously worked together as psychotic father and abused daughter in Lucky McGee’s The Woman (2011) and their roles in Jug Face are in complete contrast. The performances are convincing and there’s a sense of edginess and brutality throughout the piece, despite including a moderate amount of gore. At times, the film places the audience in a trance-like state with swift camera shots and rapid editing conveying how the pit works and how it takes what it wants. It’s a fascinating study of cult mentality that observes how a small, backwoods community deem murder acceptable as part of their belief system and a depiction of complicated family dynamics; including the taboo subject of incest. Jug Face will leave you gripped from beginning to end, its dark, thrilling and captivating with some of the best performances in a genre movie this year!

Jug Face became my top film of Celluloid Screams 2013, read the full Review Here.

1. Big Bad Wolves (2013)

  • Directed By Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado
  • Release Date, 15th August 2013, Israel

BBWposter-1  Chosen as the film to close this year’s Fright Fest, Big Bad Wolves brought with it a huge impact on independent cinema and for many was one of the most eagerly anticipated genre films of 2013. Catching a screening at this year’s Celluloid Screams, despite only making number #3 on what I considered the best offerings of that festival, Big Bad Wolves has proved to be the film that’s remained long-lasting in the mind and the most talked about. I’ve found myself  recommending the film to many people as I can guarantee, its a must-see! The film is incredibly hard-hitting and powerful and will take a strong stomach to get through as it deals with a harrowing subject matter. Even though its a community in Israel that’s represented, the issue at hand is ultimately universal and will affect a great deal of viewers. Devastation has spread through a close-knit Israeli town due to the sick, twisted murders of local young girls at the hands of a depraved pedophile. With the mutilated bodies discovered without their heads, one vengeful father and police officer take matters into their own hands and plan to exact torturous revenge on the man they believe to have committed the horrible and vile acts of violence. In an attempt to gain answers so he can bury his little girl, Gidi (Tzahi Grad) comes up with the complex plan of holding supposed pedophile Dror (Rotem Keinan) a religious, school teacher hostage in his basement with the intention of torturing him in the exact, sick manner he allegedly tortured his daughter and many other innocent children. The most surprising aspect of Big Bad Wolves was its incredible technique of creating moments of light relief in an emotive situation. It’s a genre-bending, edge-of-the-seat, thrill ride that gets completely under the skin. It’s no surprise that Quentin Tarantino regards this his absolute favorite movie of the year. The torture scenes are just enough to make the audience squirm without being over the top, they are done exceptionally well. Each actor brings in a phenomenal performance, reminding us that when it comes down to it, they are all human and have been placed in a destructive situation which can cause actions to take place that would normally be out of character. The film is accompanied by a breath-taking score that heightens the emotions throughout. I can’t praise this film enough, its cut-throat, it has its own originality and deals sensitively with its subject matter while achieving a thought-provoking effect. This is a film that will captivate a lot of people and in some ways may provide a sense of comfort as crimes such as the one depicted is all too prominent within the media and society as a whole.

Click Here for the full review from Celluloid Screams 2013.

Honorable Mentions:

Painless

Kiss of the Damned

Ghost Graduation

Coming Soon: Hayley’s Horror Highlights of 2013.

Hayley Alice Roberts.

Celluloid Screams 2013: The Festival’s Top Feature Films.

Posted in Horror Festivals with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 30, 2013 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Celluloid-Screams-2013

Celluloid Screams once again delivered an outstanding festival bringing us the latest and best within the genre. 2013 marked my third visit to Sheffield’s Horror festival and the quality in all aspects from the organization to the films themselves have been fantastic and that’s the reason I will continue attending for plenty more thrills and chills, blood and gore every October. This year my partner in crime Caitlyn Downs attended with me for the first time in order to provide daily coverage on the film’s shown and general festival going’s on. Unfortunately due to the busy nature of the festival and the charge of WiFi in the hotel we were unable to edit on the go therefore the videos recorded will be uploaded to my Youtube Channel over this next week.

There was so much great high amongst the features this year, so it has been a difficult task narrowing down my absolute favourite pick. From the Backwoods to the Revenge Flick, Body Horror to the Psychological Thriller, Zombies to Vampires this year’s programme provided a wide range of features that meant there was something on offer for everyone. Each film had its own characteristics that made them an incredible and welcome entry into modern horror. Also, some older films were shown adding to the variety. Some would argue that it would be unfair to include them within the top list of movies from Celluloid Screams, however as I had not seen any of them prior to the festival, I think they deserve a worthy mention and will be included. Overall I have complied a list of the nine best films I discovered this year.

So, my gore-freaks, let’s indulge in a list of ghoulishly good films that made Celluloid Screams 2013 a memorable weekend!

Please note that these are the opinions of Hayley’s Horror Reviews and do not reflect the overall audience vote in relation to the winning films of the festival.

9. The Battery

  • Directed by Jeremy Gardner
  • USA

For what it is, The Battery achieves what it sets out to do. Its a character driven piece that uses the zombie metaphor as a social commentary. Interestingly, the zombies remain firmly in the background as the audience explore these two characters who provide the main focus. We were informed during the introduction, that the title derives from the Baseball term that describes the relationship between the catcher and the pitcher. In another sense The Battery is a road movie as we step into the world of two ex-baseball players Ben (Jeremy Gardner) and Mickey (Adam Cronheim) as they aimlessly drive around a desolate New England avoiding shuffling corpses that now walk the earth. Ben and Mickey contrast each other greatly as characters. Ben is the type who will take action and fight for survival when presented with danger. Mickey on the other hand struggles to accept the change in their environment which creates a compelling dynamic between the two leaving the audience wondering if these two guys can really make it out alive together in the long run.

battery1

The framing of the characters with wide spaces between them helped convey their differences well and create the feeling of isolation. The relationship between Ben and Mickey is the film’s strongest element however the reason it’s so low on my list is because there were a couple of filmic decisions that didn’t quite zombie-fy me, so to speak! The main problem with The Battery is the pacing, its understandable that Gardner had a clear idea of what he wanted; to create this slow-burning sense of reality however it just dragged the film out longer than was necessary. At times it lacked atmosphere then something would happen that would pull it back up again but then it would return to a slow pace. The slow-pacing was also accompanied by several montage sequences which came across like an advertisement for promoting bands and turned the film into what seemed like an extended music video.

battery2

However, what made The Battery stand out was its ability to take expected zombie-movie tropes and completely subvert them, adding to that sense of realism, as in  how the situation would play out in real life. A portion of the film sees Mickey discover there could be others out there, bringing in hope following an accidental radio transmission. Naturally it would be expected to have the two characters join a community made up of existing survivors, however The Battery plays this out in an interesting way. Another interesting aspect was how the characters wouldn’t go searching for a fight, they’d deal with it if approached by the zombies. We were also informed The Battery had been a low-budget film, the quality of the sound was sharp and the cinematography was flawless, demonstrating that because something may be low budget does not mean it can’t look and sound professional. The Battery incorporated strong performances and offered something a bit different in a sub-genre that has been over done, although would have been more favourable if it had been edited down slightly in terms of its run-time. ★★★

8. Motivational Growth

  • Directed by Don Thacker
  • USA

An interesting choice for the opening film, Motivational Growth is a hallucinogenic, horror, comedy movie that features the voicing talents of recurring genre stalwart Jeffrey Combs voicing a talking mold. With a quirky premise, Motivational Growth has a lot of promise. The film follows Ian Folivor (Adrian DiGiovanni), an introvert who hasn’t left his untidy apartment for a few months. Letting himself go, he only has an old-fashioned television, who he names Kent for company. Soon, he meets a grotty piece of mold on his bathroom wall. But this mold has some obscure intentions. The Mold begins acting as a motivational life coach for Ian, encouraging him to turn his life around but soon Ian begins to suspect that there’s more to The Mold’s intentions than he first thought.

mvg

Motivational Growth is a strange, surrealist piece. It has the makings of an out of the box indie style film, it also includes some video game sequences that prove pretty inventive. The set design is brilliant and it does well in terms of breaking down the fourth wall. It makes a commentary on the repetitive nature of television as well as the power that television has to manipulate its viewers, this is demonstrated in a series of moments where Ian starts to think the television is talking directly to him. It also conveyed society’s obsession with exercise during some humorous television scenes, relating back to 80’s films when exercise videos began emerging. My only criticism would be that the narrative proved difficult to follow at times, making for a confusing watch, therefore it won’t be to everyone’s tastes. Echoing films such as Basket Case and even Little Shop of Horrors, Motivational Growth will appeal to those who enjoy talking monster movies. It’s well-acted with believable chemistry between Adrian Giovanni and Jeffrey Combs talking mold as well as Adrian’s scenes with love interest Leah (Danielle Doetsch). It has entertaining moments with very out there humour and sequences. ★★★

7. Basket Case

  • Directed by Frank Henenlotter
  • USA

Celluloid Screams special guest this year was Frank Henenlotter who was in attendance to introduce his films Basket Case,  Basket Case 2 and Frankenhooker as well as celebrate his contribution to Horror Cinema. As Basket Case was a film I hadn’t previously seen, I felt it deserved a mention in my top festival films for its sheer brilliance. Basket Case is an exploitation film meets body horror, the slasher and the monster movie all rolled into one. It follows the story of Duane Bradley, a young man who checks into a sleazy hotel in New York carrying a basket of all things. To the horror of those around him, little do they know that the contents of the mystery basket is his grotesquely deformed twin brother Belial who was separated from him as a child by some calculating doctors leaving him for dead. Now Belail and Duane are out for revenge on them. A complication arises when Duane begins dating a doctor’s receptionist causing Belail to become very jealous and destroy anything that comes in his path.

Basketcase

Belail becomes out of control, which threatens their quest for vengeance. Basket Case is an entertaining and often gory look at the complications between being so close to someone as well as being somewhat of a burden. Belail appears hideous on the surface but there is a great deal of empathy for him as he did not choose to be that way. Basket Case contains a lot of black humour and a seedy setting, making it the perfect late night movie. Belail has remained a memorable horror monster and the film has put its influential stamp on the genre with inspiring later films such as the previously discussed Motivational Growth. ★★★★

6. Der Fan (Aka. Trance)

  • Directed by Eckhart Schmidt
  • West Germany

Kier-La Janisse, author of The House of Psychotic Women introduced Der Fan (UK title Trance) a self-confessed favourite film of her’s. Providing the audience with some background information, Der Fan comes with a controversial history in cinema as a whole. Actress Desiree Nosbuch who plays the lead role of Simone was already a household name in Germany through appearing on Radio Luxenburg at the young age of twelve. She was around sixteen when shooting Der Fan and did full frontal nudity as well as performed scenes of chilling violence which would not be welcome in cinema today for someone of that age. Seedy exploitation or art film? Whatever you may view it as Der Fan remains to have a relevant commentary on the obsession with media figures, in this case the pop star.

derfan

Simone’s world surrounds a new wave pop star known as ‘R’, she carries a deep obsession for him and writes endless fan letters declaring her love. Each day she gets into an altercation with the post man when she receives nothing back from her idol. Determined to take matters into her own hands, she seeks out ‘R’ for herself outside a television studio. He instantly takes a liking to her, inviting her into his dressing room and to the rehearsal of his show. R comes across as very bland and uncharismatic, he is a puppet of the music industry and a projected image which is far from the reality of who he really is. Much to his entourage’s dismay he leaves without revealing his next move and takes Simone back to a friend’s apartment in which he has the keys for. After what seems like a long, drawn out sex scene, R rejects Simone, crushing all her fantasies of a life with him. Following what feels like a sleazy, low budget 80’s drama/thriller, the next sequence of the film came unexpectedly and could be considered one of the most chilling and extreme death scenes within cinema. Simone bludgeons R to death with a statue, then carves up his body and places his dismembered parts in the freezer. It doesn’t end there, we next see Simone cooking R, then eating him piece by piece. She grinds his bones into ash and scatters him outside the same television studio. When a bulletin emerges on the news as a shaven-headed Simone returns to her parents home, reporting the mysterious disappearance of R, Simone eerily writes him his last fan letter stating he’ll always be a part of her (literally!) and that she missed her period!

derfan2

Desiree Nosbuch gives one of the most disturbing performances in horror movie history, the nature of the crime she commits is beyond shocking especially for the age of the character. Its a film that will be long-lasting in the mind for taking such a U-turn in direction. The version screened was an English dub which sounded stereotypically British, providing unintentional laughs, also the violence up until the dismembering sequence came across as pretty tame comparatively to today’s standards. What’s even more startling about the film is it has the potential to be remade today especially surrounding the hysteria and fan obsession of boy band One Direction, where some teenage females actually believe they will one day become the girlfriend the band members. Even with the use of Twitter nowadays it has the potential to up the ante. Definitely glad I had the opportunity to see this as it was a complex character study in obsessive behaviour and very underrated. ★★★★

5. Discopath

  • Directed by Renaud Gauthier
  • Canada

Celluloid Screams could not have chosen a better closing film. With its tongue firmly in cheek, Discopath pays homage to 1970’s exploitation as well as incorporating fragments of the slasher film in order to create an upbeat, funky, splatter-fest! Duane Lewis is a quiet young man who keeps himself to himself, until the summer of 1976 in New York when he is exposed to a new infectious music genre…Disco! A style of music that brings back memories of a traumatic past! Unable to keep control of his psychotic impulses he begins to kill! Its certainly murder on the dancefloor! Duane subsequently escapes to Montreal where he continues to carry out his murderous rampage on a Catholic girls school.

dp

Think Saturday Night Fever meets grindhouse cinema. Director Renaud Gauthier captures the essence of the 70’s well, bringing in a catchy soundtrack full of disco fun including KISS’s ‘I was made for loving you’ and retro costumes spinning us with pure 70’s flare. Discopath is a definite crowd-pleaser and the feel-good horror movie. Its campy and retro and there’s plenty to enjoy, from the unintentional comedy that grindhouse films often displayed, to the thrill of wondering if Duane’s murder spree will be put to an end. Its sleazy, fun and infectious. I can guarantee this film will put a smile on your face!  ★★★★

4. Chimeres (UK Premiere)

  • Directed by Oliver Beguin
  • Switzerland

Chimeres ended up being one of those absolute gems where you go into the cinema blind just knowing its a vampire movie you’re about to see and being completely stunned by how great it turned out. Chimeres cleverly introduces the audience to its protagonists before bringing in the horror angle. Its a love story but works well as it allows the viewer to get a sense of what Alex (Yannick Rosset) and Livia (Jasna Kohoutova) relationship has been like over the years. There’s a believable chemistry between the actors creating  characters that can be imagined in real life. The film kicks off when Alex, a talented photographer is involved in a devastating car accident following a romantic evening with Livia. He is immediately rushed to hospital in Romania (Livia’s place of birth) for an emergency blood transfusion. When the couple return home, Alex soon experiences some physiological changes and slowly transforms into a Vampire. The vampire metaphor is in place to depict the change in their relationship and how Livia must adapt to her lover’s new way of being, suggesting the notion, how far would you go for someone you love?

Chimeres-Teaser

Introducing the Vampire aspect after establishing the love story is an inventive and clever choice, separating Chimeres from all the Twilight films and others of that style. Chimeres works as a dark, intense and intimate piece. It incorporates some stunning visual effects especially when Alex sees the changes in him through the bathroom mirror. These scenes demonstrate Alex’s polar opposites, we see him as his normal self then as a blood-soaked fiend. Oliver Beguin admitted he made the decision to expand on vampire lore and bring in some of his own ideas which sets it apart in its own right. Having Alex get the vampire curse from a transfusion rather than bitten by another vampire brought in a different dynamic, yet there were also conventions in place such as fear of sunlight. There’s a rawness to the film which draws the audience in to these characters lives. There’s plenty of blood and sex which is essential when it comes down to the vampire sub-genre. The sex scene itself came across as powerful and animalistic but was shot tastefully and added to the intensity. Livia is an empowering female character, there is a lot of focus on her being a kick boxer, demonstrating she can handle herself. Its finally refreshing to see a heroine that can be vulnerable and strong at the same time. There’s a scene where the couple are attacked by a group of thugs and in a turn of events Livia is the one to pull the first punch. So more Buffy less Bella which is what fans of these movies want to see. Catriona McColl plays a small role as Alex’s mother, she’s a fantastic actress and brings in a strong screen presence.

chimeres_top

Chimeres is the best vampire film I’ve seen in a long time. It has everything this type of film should have, its emotional, romantic, passionate, gory and well-acted. It came so close to becoming one of the top films I’d seen at Celluloid Screams and I can’t wait to re-visit it again at the Abertoir festival next week. ★★★★

3. Big Bad Wolves

  • Directed By Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado
  • Israel

Big Bad Wolves isn’t something that should be taken lightly. The film tells the story of a series of horrific child murders within a community in Israel. A sick, twisted paedophile has abused and murdered innocent young girls and left their bodies behind for the police to uncover with their heads missing. One father and a police officer take matters into their own hands when their worlds collide on the hunt for the supposed paedophile. The father locks him up in his basement with the sole intention of torturing him into admitting where he has buried his daughter’s head. I had my reservations before viewing this, the subject matter is usually far too upsetting for me to handle however I’d heard very positive things about Big Bad Wolves and made the decision to give it a chance but if it became too much I’d leave the cinema. Surprisingly I stayed until the brutal end and was blown away by how phenomenal the film really is.

big-topwolvesoenshoote

The most interesting aspect of it was how it blended in genres within the backdrop of the harrowing subject matter. Big Bad Wolves is a psychological thriller and features some well-crafted torture scenes but the most surprising element was the use of black comedy that actually worked very well. In a sense it made the film more bearable when things became intense. There was much empathy for the father character as even though he transitioned between bumbling and tough guy, it showed how human he was. He was just a regular guy who had the most precious thing in his life taken away from him so cruelly. Tension was built up incredibly well as random real life interruptions including taking a phone call ensured that it would be a long period of endurance as to if and when the father and the audience will discover the truth. Plenty of twist and turns concluded the film in an exceptionally chilling manner that will be difficult to forget. Another interesting angle in Big Bad Wolves was the hints of racial tensions in Israel with the Arab community, which ends up being more vital to the main plot than first expected.

large_big_bad_wolves_3

The score was beautiful and heightened the emotion throughout. Big Bad Wolves is one of the most powerful films I’ve ever witnessed with a harrowing on-screen portrayal of an issue prominent in society, yet is difficult to talk about at the same time. I suppose this is why these kind of films are made to give an insight into the complexities of dealing with the horror of paedophilia and the protection of children but also demonstrates that taking justice into your own hands will end in messy consequences. The film wasn’t gratuitous by any means, it carefully dealt with the nasty stuff with a quick shot of the murdered little girl from an angle and only used a description of the evil methods of the supposed paedophile which was graphic enough. The torture scenes themselves were shot in a way that put the audience on edge, almost wanting to look away without being too exploitative. Big Bad Wolves deserves a lot of credit as a whole from dealing sensitively enough with the prospect of child murder and creating a unique piece that combines genres that wouldn’t usually work well together, the entire cast gave exceptional performances, which made for a compelling watch. It will be long-lasting in the mind but I do highly recommend it. There’s no surprise that it won best feature film of the festival. ★★★★★

2. Painless (Aka. Insensibles)

  • Directed by Juan Carlos Medina
  • Spain

Painless is a deep and harrowing portrayal of how a country has been impacted by a long dictatorship and the mistakes of the generations before them. Painless operates as a psychological and historical horror with the genre firmly in place as a metaphor. The title Painless is ironic in its own way as what the characters go through is incredibly painful to watch. Set between the past and present, Painless focuses on David, a neurosurgeon/workaholic who survives a horrific car accident that kills his pregnant wife. He soon discovers that he has an aggressive form of cancer which can be operated on with a bone marrow transplant. When visiting his parents it is revealed that David was in fact adopted and must seek the truth about his biological parents before its too late.

Painless-thumb-300xauto-32869

During the 1930’s a group of children born with a rare condition enabling them not to feel pain are locked away allegedly for their own safety during the height of the Spanish Civil War, David must uncover the tragic truth of their fates while coming to terms with his own impending death. With two narratives running alongside each other, the film takes its time to tell both of them, making it run fluidly. With a haunting tone, it really sits with the viewer on how the past can still affect an entire country, there is a consistent theme of fire throughout which heightens the tensions of the fascist regime and its effect on Spanish society. With a beautifully poignant ending, Painless is a phenomenal debut from Director Juan Carlos Medina, who has presented a well-crafted, chillingly thought-provoking piece that combines stunning cinematography and flawless editing. ★★★★★

1. Jug Face

  • Directed By Chad Crawford Kinkle
  • USA

Jug Face is unlike any other backwoods film. Sure, comparisons can be drawn with other films with similar themes such as Rosemary’s Baby or any cult related movies but Jug Face does stand out on its own. The film opens with several pastel drawings conveying the community’s mythology and the significance of the Jug Face as well as their worship of a muddy hole in the ground known as ‘The Pit’ which feels like a character of its own during the film as well as the main threat. This sequence emphasizes the power of film as a visual means of story-telling as the it does not rely on exposition at any point following the opening moments. The pastel drawings also convey a childlike tone which hints at the simplistic way of living for these kind of backwoods community. We then meet a young girl Ada (Lauren Ashley Carter) who appears to be living life by her own rules. She has sex behind her parents back which ultimately results in an unplanned pregnancy. Her family have arranged for her to be ‘joined’ with another local boy much to her dismay. Her closest confidant is a man called Dawai (Sean Bridges) who has a special ability to see and create the jug face, that is made to resemble a member of the community who will be sacrificed to the pit. Ada stumbles upon the latest jug and to her horror discovers she will be next, before her family and neighbours can discover the truth, Ada hides the jug face which leads to a series of tragic events that spiral out of her control. Chad Crawford Kinkle explained in the Q&A that he became inspired after discovering the jug face was part of a Southern tradition and developed the idea from there, with this film, he certainly offers something a bit different to the usual fare from this horror sub-genre.

jug face

The film tackles complicated family dynamics. The community is particularly male-centric, indicating that traditionally the woman’s role is to be a wife and mother. The idea that they are willing to sacrifice their own children is savage. It also deals with taboo subjects such as incest, which is rarely portrayed as boldly as it is in this. Jug Face evokes very interesting ideas about belief systems and the disturbing nature of how people believe they are doing something good by murdering. The performances are of a high quality, Lauren Ashley Carter carries the film beautifully, she portrays Ada as innocent and naive yet devious at times as she let’s the brutal fates of others happen to save her own skin. Even so, at the same time she is caring especially toward her friend Dawai and her elderly Grandpa and seems to be the only one who looks after him. Sean Bridges proves how versatile an actor he is as the kind-hearted Dawai who would willingly give up his own life in order to save Ada, its a stark contrast from the twisted, chilling suburban Father he played in The Woman. He and Lauren Ashley Carter display believable on-screen chemistry. Both Sean Young and Larry Fessenden also give outstanding performances as the parents struck by grief and loyalty to their beliefs. Sean Young as the mother delivers powerful yet disturbing moments in her scenes with Ada when their ideals begin to break down due to Ada’s actions. Jug Face is incredibly suspenseful as it puts the audience on the edge of the seat in a guessing game of what twists and turns will come next. It also has a supernatural element which compliments the backwoods drama well. The gore effects are interesting and prove effective without having to be extreme, the rapid editing used when depicting how the pit consumes its victims is presented in an innovative and clever way, which almost comes across as hallucinogenic.

jf

Jug Face is unique and a refreshing take on cult mentality and all the devastation it can bring on a small group of people. Lucky McGee had a small role as executive producer and his style and essence is most definitely present within the film. With clear direction, a well paced narrative, impressive performances and plenty of suspenseful moments its the reason Jug Face had to take the number one spot on this list. It’s one that certainly works on a deep, psychological level and isn’t afraid to be daring. ★★★★★

COMING SOON:

Celluloid Screams 2013: The Festival’s Top Short Films

&

Hayley & Caitlyn Present: Celluloid Screams The Videos.

Hayley Alice Roberts.

Click Here for my Youtube Channel:

Celluloid Screams 2013

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 3, 2013 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Yesterday I purchased my festival pass for another horror festival I regularly attend, Celluloid Screams in Sheffield. 2013 will be my third visit to this fantastic festival which provides a hardcore weekend of ghouls and gore and shocks and scares! In a compact festival programme, Celluloid Screams brings the latest gory offerings of features and short films to the silver screen. With a great atmosphere courtesy of dedicated horror fans and some brilliant special guests, Celluloid proves to be one of the best UK genre festivals out there.

Celluloid1

Entering its fifth year, Celluloid will return to the Showroom Cinema from the 25th to the 27th October. This year I’ve opted for the full pass, excluding the all-nighter (a new edition) costing a reasonable £55 (There is a slight increase for the full pass if including ‘Night of the (Un)Dead’). This year, attached to the main programme is a late night of some obscure, old skool movies including ‘Frankenhooker’ (1990) and ‘Return of the Living Dead’ (1985) screened alongside some short films such as ‘Ghoul School’ and ‘Hambre’; beginning at 12am and finishing up at 6am.

There appears to be a running theme for this year’s festival of body horror and splatter with the special guest of Frank Henenlotter attending. Henenlotter’s well-known, cult films ‘Basket Case’ 1 & 2 will be screened following the opening gala of Don Thacker’s ‘Motivational Growth’, a UK premiere which seems to have taken influence from Henenlotter’s style of filmmaking.

Basketcase

After excitedly reading up on the feature films for 2013, a few really stood out for me. I can’t wait to see what they have to offer. Ever since viewing the trailer, ‘Jug Face’ has been on my must-watch list. A film set in the backwoods, ‘Jug Face’ focuses on a pregnant teenage girl who discovers she’s the community’s next sacrifice, determined by her resemblance to a clay jug face. The film has an interesting premise and seems to have incorporated its own mythology and take on cults. The film stars Lauren Ashley Carter from ‘The Woman’. I have already planned a review for this film after speaking with director Chad Crawford Kinkle via Twitter and have since contacted his publicist. I certainly won’t have too long to wait to see this potential genre favorite.

jug face

‘Der Fan (AKA Trance)’, appears to be a chilling psychological thriller that takes obsession to a whole different level. This German offering centers on an obsessive teenage fan, infatuated with her pop star idol. This is certainly going to be one to watch and see unfold and will hopefully enter the disturbing heights it promises.

Since, ‘Fright Fest’, one of the most talked-about films is ‘Big Bad Wolves’, naturally I am interested in seeing it. Being a revenge thriller, it clearly has the making’s of a compelling and possibly harrowing story. Its been described as ‘intense’ and focused on male tensions which will surely be edge-of-the seat stuff. ‘Big Bad Wolves’ tells the story of three men all interlinked, a renegade police officer, a mild-mannered bible teacher and a grieving father, tensions are sure to run high as well as a complex sense of morality.

bbw

‘Delivery’ may echo films such as ‘Paranormal Activity’ in essence, however the premise still intrigues me. An expectant couple agree to document a reality show on their pregnancy.  However events soon spiral out of control when a series of strange, unexplained events occur and throw the production into chaos. The film is allegedly told through unaired footage,  and interviews with family members of the main characters. If its anything like ‘The Bay’, a surprisingly effective film that used the found footage concept well, leading to terrifying notions then ‘Delivery’ will be another example of a good ‘found footage’ film. ‘Delivery’ has been described as ‘an incredibly effective film that stands on the head and shoulders of many of its contemporaries’, definitely sounds very promising.

delivery

Finally, ‘Discopath’ sounds like a fun entry and the perfect way of closing the festival on a high. A throwback to the 1970’s, ‘Discopath’ tells the tale of a homicidal maniac awakened following the introduction to the new trend of disco music! With the making’s of a cult hit, ‘Discopath’ seems to incorporate the essence of old skool movies made around that era, I’m just anticipating the possible sound track and I’m already loving the quirky title!

Discopath

Finally, ‘Claymania: The films of Lee Hardcastle’ looks to be a fascinating thrill ride into a unique and innovative approach to horror. Since his entry of ‘T- is for Toilet’ in the ‘ABC’s of Death’ anthology, I’ve been anticipating to see more of Lee Hardcastle’s interesting work. Bring on the gore!

This year, I plan to provide similar coverages of written reviews and videos documenting the festivals highlights (as seen below) and will hopefully be bringing a special guest with me, but more on that soon!

Celluloid Screams 2011.

Celluloid Screams 2012.

For more information please visit the festival website:

http://http://celluloidscreams.co.uk

Tweet @sheffhorrorfest

Hayley Alice Roberts.