Archive for Celluloid Screams Horror Festival

Sights to Behold: Celluloid Screams 2017

Posted in Horror Attractions, Horror Festivals, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 14, 2017 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

On Friday the 20th October, the ninth edition of Sheffield Horror festival Celluloid Screams will commence, promising eager festival attendees that they have such sights to show us. The popular festival has one epic schedule planned featuring a range of classic horror, brand new releases and special events to keep bloodthirsty fans satisfied over the two and a half days.

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I have consecutively attended the festival since 2011 and I’m beyond excited to see what 2017 has in store. Alongside my local horror festival Abertoir, Celluloid Screams is an event that I look forward to each year as it delivers a brilliantly arranged programme that is accessible for fans of a range of sub-genres. The welcoming, community atmosphere also plays a key role in why this festival remains one of the highlights of my year.

This year, the festival programmers led by Robert Nevitt have excelled themselves by providing us with so many exceptional films to look forward to. The proceedings kick off with festival favorites Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson’s, cult-focused thriller, The Endless, followed by the eagerly anticipated British haunt-fest, Borley Rectory featuring a Q&A with the film’s director Ashley Thorpe. Other highlights to look forward to over the spooktacular weekend include closing film, Better Watch Out, a festive Christmas chiller, the trope-defying Tragedy Girls, the long awaited sequel, Creep 2 and of course the mysterious secret film.

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The main attraction however will be a special showcase of the popular BBC anthology series, Inside No. 9. Both creators and stars, the immensely talented Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith will be in attendance to hand pick their favorite episodes and indulge their fans in a Q&A following the screening. With the impending revival of their warped, cult comedy, The League of Gentleman returning to television screens in the foreseeable, this event will prove to be a must-see.

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Celluloid Screams will be screening not just one but two iconic classics on the big screen. We will feast our eyeballs on the stunning 4K restoration of Dario Argento’s exquisite masterpiece, Suspiria (1977) as well as a special 30th anniversary screening of Clive Barker’s incredible, Hellraiser (1987) with actor Nicholas Vince (famed for playing the role of the Chatterer) and special effects supervisor, Geoff Portass in attendance, partaking in a Q&A session following the film.

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With an array of films from all over the world, innovative short film screenings and a euro-horror celebrated art exhibition, it is fair to say that we are in for one hell of a weekend!

Keep up to date via my Facebook page, Hayley’s Horror Reviews and twitter account @WelshDemoness throughout the festival for plenty of updates.

http://celluloidscreams.co.uk/

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.  

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The Top Short Films of Celluloid Screams 2016!

Posted in Horror Festivals with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 13, 2016 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

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At horror festivals, fans and film enthusiasts alike are treated to a selection of short horror films created by talented filmmakers that are currently taking the underground, indie circuit by storm. The feature films normally take centre stage however in his year’s Celluloid Screams line up the short films proved to be just as striking, some even thought provoking and others were downright weird! (but more on that later). So, here goes, these are the top shockingly good short films of Celluloid Screams 2016. As always these are my own views and not a reflection on the overall panel vote.

10. Death Metal (2016)

  • Directed by Chris McInroy
  • USA, 5 Minutes

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Perfectly placed before The Devil’s Candy, Death Metal is a loud and proud, gore-fuelled spectacle. With similar vibes to last year’s Deathgasm about a satanic guitar that unleashes hell on earth, Death Metal is a rocking black comedy that promises “riffs that shred”, literally! It’s a laugh out loud, thrill ride that’s perfect for the horror festival crowd. Watch this one LOUD!

9. Gwilliam (2015)

  • Directed by Brian Lonano
  • USA, 6 Minutes

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Where to even start with this one? Gwilliam is one of those moments in life where you watch something you completely cannot erase. Bordering between the disgusting, the bizarre and the comedic, Gwilliam is certainly a unique piece of genre cinema! Crow Hands director Brian Lonano takes the crazy up to max level as an ex-con (played by William Tokarsky) is released from prison looking for a night of fun with a hooker. The build up of Gwilliam is done exceptionally well as it’s unclear where the narrative is heading and boy, isn’t it a surprise! Expect the unexpected, once watched, you will never forget your Gwilliam…this short film means what it says!

8. Do You See What I See (2016)

  • Directed by Justin McConnell and Serena Whitney
  • USA, 14 Minutes

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Sloan (Caleigh Le Grand) is reluctant about attending her overbearing sister Jessica’s (Jorja Cadence) annual Christmas party. With all the garish Christmas iconography imaginable, Sloan goes through the motions, that’s until an uninvited guest gatecrashes with very little festive cheer causing madness and mayhem for the warring sisters. Do You See What I See has the makings of a classic slasherific Christmas flick. The performances are believable especially the increasing tension between Sloan and Jessica. The short showcases strong, kick-ass women who take matters into their own hands once the stakes are raised. From a filmic perspective Do You See What I See takes influence from iconic slasher films e.g. Peeping Tom, Halloween and The Burning to create a sinister effect, seeing things through the killer’s eyes with several POV shots. Intense and well executed, Do You See What I See guarantees you’ll be dreaming of a Black Christmas!

7. Dawn of the Deaf (2016)

  • Directed by Rob Savage
  • Canada, 12 Minutes

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In this hard hitting short focused on a minority group, Dawn of the Deaf raises the bar with the traditional apocalyptic horror narrative. With similar techniques to Mike Flannagan’s Hush, the audience is placed in the point of view of the hard of hearing characters and the world around them. A sonic pulse infects the hearing, now it’s up to the deaf community to band together in a fight for survival. Dawn of the Deaf is a layered offering and uses the survival concept in more ways than one, it centres on abuse, sexuality and coping with disability prior to any fantastical horror element. The film portrays the vulnerability of the deaf extraordinarily however the tables do turn depicting the strength within the community. As spoke about during my Ghostface Girls Facebook live video, there is a stunning moment where sign language is used and the camera pans around the characters, some of the subtitled dialogue is missed out proving to be incredibly effective. Dawn of the Deaf is a poignant and moving short.

6. The Disappearance of  Willie Bingham (2015)

  • Directed by Matthew Richards
  • Australia, 12 Minutes

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The Disappearance of Willie Bingham contained the most controversial and disturbing subject matter out of all the short films on this list. A new kind of torturous, radical punishment has been put in place for the worst kinds of criminals, and Willie Bingham is the first to undergo this method. This film conveys the internal thoughts of the majority of society who feel strongly about the lack of justice projected at murderers, rapists and pedophiles and this is a somewhat cathartic experience. The vulnerable and afraid side of the criminal is portrayed as the family are permitted to exact their brutal revenge as slowly as possible. Kevin Dee in the title role is exceptional as his character is paraded around by authoritative officials and made an example of. It’s a powerful piece of film that raises difficult questions in relation to the justice system and the treatment of despicable criminals. The Disappearance of Willie Bingham  deserves to be seen and talked about.

5. Ink, Cocks & Rock ‘N’ Roll (2017)

  • Directed by Matt Harlock
  • UK, 15 Minutes

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Ink, Cocks & Rock ‘N’ Roll is an innovative, cleverly executed, documentary style short that presents the work of controversial comic book artist Steve Martin (no, not the bloke from Father of the Bride!) and his perverted alter ego Krent Able. It’s psychologically chilling as the film challenges the concept of spilt personality and questions whether there’s a thin line between Steve and the monstrous side to him. Is Krent just a fictional character stemmed from his imagination or something much worse? Fourth wall breaking and filled with edgy art work in it’s believable set up, Ink, Cocks & Rock and Roll is one to look out for in 2017.

4. Mindless (2016)

  • Directed by Katie Bonham
  • UK, 8 Minutes

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Mindless is a thought-provoking psychological horror directed by the talented Katie Bonham. Taking away the horror subtext, the subject of Mindless is very real as it focuses on the care of the vulnerable within British society. Peter (Nicholas Vince- Hellraiser & Hellbound: Hellraiser II) is a senile man, living alone; each day his house is torn apart much to the horror of his patient care worker Judy (Kate Danbury). Peter has no recollection of how his home got into the state it has and becomes frustrated with Judy, blaming her. Determined to get Peter into a care home for his own safety and well-being, Judy is about to get more than she bargained for, is Peter’s declining memory the real issue or is there a more sinister presence at play? Mindless brings an important subject matter to light, it’s a topic that can be very difficult to talk about however Bonham does a tremendous job portraying it on screen. It’s bleak from the outset in it’s tone and cinematography creating a psychologically unnerving atmosphere. Nicholas Vince gives an exceptional performance as Peter, playing him with a sense of vulnerability and confusion that allows the audience to garner empathy for him. Kate Danbury also brings in a strong performance as the frustrated care worker doing her best to help him. Mindless is a film that will resonate with audiences as it draws on issues that many can identify with. Katie Bonham has created a powerful film on a low budget that demonstrates a film can leave a long lasting impression without traditional scare tactics or elaborate special effects. It’s no surprise that Mindless continues to win awards all around the world.

3. Imitations (2016)

  • Directed by Milos Mitrovic and Fabian Velasco
  • Canada, 10 Mintues

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Who doesn’t love a bit of Canadian Film Collective Astron-6? They are certainly one of a kind with their off the wall brand of humour. Imitations is another of their unforgettable and bizarre offerings, centring on a lonely YouTuber named Arnold (Milos Mitrovic) who gets plastic surgery to look like his idol “21 Year Old Baby” singing sensation Austin Kelsey (Conor Sweeney). Arnold begins to experience strange side effects following his operation, forcing him to take drastic measures when he attends his eagerly awaited karaoke night. Everything about this short is laugh out loud hilarious and strange. The entire cast look like they’re having a blast, Milos Mitrovic and Conor Sweeney are both fantastic as well as Divorced Dad, Matthew Kennedy. Imitations is an entertaining short that must be seen to be believed. If you loved Father’s Day and loved The Editor, then you’ll love Imitations.

2. Kookie  (2016)

  • Directed by Justin Harding
  • Canada, 13 Minutes

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Bree, a disobedient nine year old is taught a valuable lesson from a sinister visitor after breaking the rules set by her mother involving a creepy cookie jar. Kookie is a slow burning, genuinely comedic short that will certainly be appreciated by fans of creepy clowns. The child actress is superb as young Bree, playing the troublemaker role with menace. Harding ensures that the audience are kept on edge as he builds on the tension with the unnerving clown iconography. A thrilling and funny short, that will ensure that children should behave!

  1. Overtime (2016)
  • Directed By Craig D. Foster
  • Australia, 9 Minutes

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For a huge fan of An American Werewolf in London, it’s no surprise that Overtime, a werewolf themed, dark comedy takes the top spot. Comedic tension is at play as poor Ralph (Aaron Glenane) urgently attempts to get home from work but a series of obstacles get in his way. Overtime is a real delight to watch as poor Ralph attempts to make his exit before it’s too late. The joke is on those around him from his boss to romantic interest who risk unleashing the beast by stalling him. The special effects are incredible and are a spectacle to watch as Ralph’s body morphs into something inhuman. Aaron Gleane gives a brilliant performance as the tormented werewolf. Overtime is a lot of fun and a brilliant homage to one of horror’s most iconic monsters.

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

Celluloid Screams 2016: The Devil’s Candy Review

Posted in Horror Festivals, Women in Horror Recognition Month with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 3, 2016 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Sean Byrne (The Loved Ones) brings his second feature film to the big screen with a blood soaked, satanic offering, The Devil’s Candy. The movie centers on an unconventional family who move into a new home, unaware of the deadly secret it harbors and the impact it’s about to have on their lives. The Hellmen’s consist of self-employed artist and metalhead Dad Jesse (Ethan Embry), his patient, understanding wife Astrid (Shiri Appleby) and his chip off the old block young daughter Zooey (Kiara Glasco). Immediately the family encompass a likable quality that keeps the audience involved in their story from the outset. Jesse is a Metallica loving, doting father, his relationship with Zooey is lovely to watch with his protectiveness towards her played as heart-warming. Once peril arises for the family in the form of the tormented former owner, Byrne’s direction effortlessly endears the audience to them but makes the villain (Pruitt Taylor Vince) interesting and complex enough to garner a slight empathy for him initially.

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In comparison to The Loved Ones, The Devil’s Candy has a completely different tone. Whereas The Loved Ones is an extremely nasty and gritty watch, The Devil’s Candy is a more polished effort that doesn’t take the same uncomfortable turns as Byrne’s debut offering although it does come with its intense moments. In terms of the production quality, The Devil’s Candy demonstrates how Byrne has developed as a filmmaker. He uses striking visuals particularly the disturbing art work Jesse unveils that foreshadows dark events as they happen and what’s to come.

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The plot is the kind we have seen before, with the creepy house setting and a terrorized family however it’s the core characters that make The Devil’s Candy a compelling film. Byrne writes them as multi-layered and relate-able. There is a strong sense that Jesse and Astrid are polar opposites in some respects, him the artist and her the career woman. She isn’t as fond of his taste in metal music as the daughter is however there’s an implied sense of her once having a rebellious nature in order for the attraction and relationship to work between them. As the troubled teenager Zooey is portrayed as having a strong supportive parental network behind her which is refreshing to see. In their own rights, each of them are strong characters and go out on a limb for each other. This isn’t a movie where it’s just the male character depicted as the heroic type.

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There’s a distinct theme throughout of the relationship between horror and heavy metal that usually comes with a negative stigma attached relating to its association with violence. There’s such a positive portrayal in this film of characters who enjoy and consume dark material but on the outside they are the most grounded and genuine, every day people which was satisfying to see from two genres that normally receive a bad rep.

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Byrne delivers something fresh which is a world away from The Loved Ones, cementing is versatility and growth as a filmmaker. Ethan Embry, Shiri Appleby and Kiara Glasco are outstanding in their performances, bringing depth, emotion and shared chemistry to their characters. Glasco is a young actress to look out for and delivered the standout performance from a young performer in a genre film this year so far. Also, be sure to look out for a cameo from Leland Orser (Faults, The Guest).

The Devil’s Candy is absolutely awesome, a movie that ends with Metallica’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls” at the end credits certainly rocks!!

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

 

Celluloid Screams 2016: Pet Review

Posted in Horror Festivals, Women in Horror Recognition Month with tags , , , , , , , , on November 3, 2016 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

On the surface Pet appears to be a conventional cat and mouse thriller but this is actually not the case. Directed by Carles Torrens (Apartment 143, ABC’s of Death 2.5) with a screenplay by Jeremy Slater ( The Lazarus Effect), Pet is a genre defying film, placing a refreshing spin on an overdone concept. Starring Dominic Monaghan and Ksenia Solo in two powerhouse performances, Pet takes the term “deadly obsession” to a whole new, twisted level.

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Like many of the films that screened at 2016’s Celluloid Screams Horror Film Festival, it’s advisable to go into Pet knowing very little about the plot in order to get the full jaw dropping experience.

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Monaghan plays Seth, a loner living a mundane existence working at the dog pound. Out of the blue, he comes across his high school crush, Holly on the bus home one day. Seth rapidly becomes interested in her to an unhealthy degree and starts hanging around a bit too often for Holly’s liking. When Holly brutally knocks him back events take a turn for the sinister as Seth captures his romantic interest and locks her in a cage located in the basement of his work place in order to teach her a lesson; but has Seth literally bitten off more than he can chew? and what are the mysterious secrets that Holly is harboring?

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As stated at the beginning of this review Pet isn’t what it seems. If you’re looking for a typical captive/torture flick, this is not that film. Pet is an intensifying slow burn that once it turns the tables they just keep on turning. Monaghan and Solo display intense chemistry in their roles, providing engaging performances to an edge of the seat effect. Both characters are equally as complex with layers of hidden depth. Modern horror is seeing an increase is strong, celebrated female characters and Pet certainly explores that and twists classic horror tropes. Holly proves to be an empowered character as the film progresses while her appearance reflects the typical pretty, blonde victim that features prominently in the slasher film.

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Pet is everything a horror film should be; incorporating intense, emotional moments to the downright horrific. It’s psychological horror at it’s best and it’s no surprise that’s one of 2016’s most talked about films on the festival circuit due to it’s innovative take on a tired horror cliche. Nail-biting until the bitter end, Pet dares to be different and is utterly unforgettable.

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

Top 5 Celluloid Screams Moments (So Far!)

Posted in Horror Attractions, Horror Festivals with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 9, 2015 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

September 10th marks an exciting date for horror fans as passes for Sheffield’s Horror Festival Celluloid Screams are set to go on sale. Not only that, Rob Nevitt and his team will announce the line-up of what’s in store for 2015!

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This will be my fifth year attending Celluloid, which takes place at The Showroom Cinema. Not only does the festival put together a phenomenal programme each year with an eclectic selection of films that define the genre in different ways; and brings in a number of special guests that have made an impact on the genre as a whole. Through the festival I’ve established some great friendships and made connections with genre fans and filmmakers alike.

So as we wait to uncover the mystery of what shocks and scares we will be encountering on October 23rd-25th, here’s a list of my top 5 moments that the Sheffield Festival has offered up so far.

  1. Inbred (2011)

Inbred was the first film that I ever saw at Celluloid Screams and it ended up becoming one of my favorite horror films of all time. Certainly a cult classic in the making, Inbred was accompanied with a Q&A from a number of cast members including Seamus O’Neill, Dominic Brunt and Jo Hartley. Thanks to Celluloid and the discovery of Inbred I then went on to work with some of the cast members on a short zombie film called Ascension and led a Q&A with director Alex Chandon at my local horror festival Aberoir.

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Review & Q&A Videos of Inbred.

Alex Chandon Q&A Videos

2. Sping & Resolution (Aaron and Justin Q&A’s). (2012 & 2014)

Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson have been two of Celluloid’s most memorable special guests. Thanks to the festival I was introduced to two of their groundbreaking feature films that takes horror in a whole different direction, Resolution in 2012 and Spring in 2014. On both appearances the directorial duo have given some quirky, engaging and entertaining Q&A’s and always take their time to talk to their fans during the festival.

Resolution Review.

Spring Review.

3. Night Breed: The Cabal Cut (2012)

Since I was a young horror fan, Clive Barker’s NightBreed was always a film I desperately wanted to see. Packed with unusual imagery, the tale of creatures living underground in a whole undiscovered world from our own was something that greatly appealed. I’m glad my first experience of Night Breed was on the big screen with the restoration making it the film that Clive Barker had always intended rather than the slasher-style version the studios cut it down to on its original release. Switching between the grainy unused footage and the polished existing footage was an interesting cinematic experience. Through Celluloid and Night Breed I met the lovely Nicholas Vince, Simon Bamford (also of Hellraiser fame), Hugh Ross and Russell Cherrington, the restoration director and still keep up to date with all their upcoming projects.

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NightBreed Review & Q&A Videos.

4. The Editor and Astron 6! (2014)

Again, if it wasn’t for Celluloid I never would have discovered the Canadian Collective that is Astron-6. Last year’s festival was literally an Astron-6  takeover as we were treated to a screening of The Editor, a bizarre and hilarious homage to the giallo sub-genre as well as a showcase of their exceptionally cool short films, Cool Guys, Bio-Cop and Breaking Santa being personal highlights! Adam Brooks, Connor Sweeney and Matthew Kennedy were special guests and gave us an insight into their weird and wonderful career so far.

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Short Review of The Editor

5. Der Fan (2013)

Without Celluloid Screams I would never have discovered this little gem. Der Fan is an obscure 80s German film that prior to the screening, Caitlyn and I thought it was going to be a recent film! Der Fan is one of those films where you won’t believe what you’re watching! It begins innocently enough as badly-dubbed exploitation film then it turns into completely something else! Der Fan has to be remembered for the longest sex scene in horror cinema history! We still hold out hope that Der Fan with its timeless theme of obsessive fandom would be ideal for the remake treatment!

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Celluloid Screams Review of Der Fan.

Women in Horror Month: Der Fan.

So that’s it for now, my highlights of the festival so far! So fellow Celluloid Screamers, what have been your favorite moments from over the years? Comment, facebook or tweet to @HayleyR1989 with #CelluloidScreamsMoments.

Bring on 2015!

Hayley Alice Roberts.

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

Celluloid Screams 2014: The ABC’s of Death 2 Review.

Posted in Horror Festivals with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 31, 2014 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Following a mixed bag of toilet humour, taboo subjects and in some cases unimaginative segments in the first anthology, The ABC’s of Death 2 held low expectations for me. The light at the end of the tunnel was the exception of seeing shorts by some talented directors including Jen and Sylvia Soska, Aharon Keshales and Dennison Ramalho to name a few. Its a collaborative piece that allows variations of different filmic styles and horror ideas that made the first film so successful therefore opening up the void for a sequel to see what else could be done with the concept. In a surprising turn of events, ABC’s 2 is actually pretty solid with a consistent number of creative and appealing segments that are guaranteed to engross diverse horror fans who want a bit of everything from gore to psychological terror. This time round there’s 26 new directors who offer up a number of grizzly and gruesome ways to die!

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The opening credit sequence is simply stunning. It features stop-motion animation of skeletal schoolchildren being murdered by their teachers within a storybook, the sequence is accompanied by haunting theme music of the classic childlike ‘la, la, la’s’ resulting in a chilling effect. The creepy tone is therefore set as a selection of various horror shorts from all over the world unfold on screen.

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E.L. Katz kicks things off with A is for Amateur, a gut-punching, action-packed and well shot sequence that depicted a hitman who’s assigned job goes horribly wrong.

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Julian Barratt, a British comedian best-known for The Mighty Boosh delivers plenty of laughs in the satirical B is for Badger, documenting an agitated wildlife television presenter who get’s more than he bargained for when he and his crew encounter a not so cuddly badger!

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Julien Gilbey is up next with a harrowing and realist look at lynch mob behaviour in C is for Capital Punishment. A young girl goes missing and a local man is accused by an emotive bunch within his village who are out for blood. Without revealing too much, the letter C cuts close to the bone, providing a disturbing take on what humans are prepared to do based on assumption!

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D is for Deloused by Robert Morgan had to be one of the most visually creative contenders within the anthology. With gore-tastic stop-motion animation, there’s plenty to feast your eyes on. The short tells the tale of a giant bug that assists a executed man to exact revenge on those who killed him. D displays a sense of uniqueness about it.

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Next up was a twisted but comedic segment from Alejandro Brugues titled E is for Equilibrium. Two castaways who appear to be stranded on a tropical island following a stag party have their world turned upside down after a beautiful woman enters their life. Will friendship win out in the end or will the two men be blinded by infatuation for the same woman?

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The next entry directed by Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado was eagerly anticipated following the gut-wrenching, phenomenal thriller Big Bad Wolves from last year. Keshales explores similar thematics to his successful 2013 feature, the tension between the Israeli’s and the Palestinian’s. A young military woman is stranded up a tree where her parachute has landed and is discovered by a Palestinian boy who displays hostility toward her. F is for Falling demonstrates an intense power struggle that ends spectacularly.

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Where to start with this one? G is for Grandad is one of the more obscure entries this time round. A generational clash between a long-haired Grandfather and Grandson takes a turn for the strange! This is one that has to be seen to be believed, there’s lashes of dark and twisted humour galore. From British director Jim Hosking, the letter G is a tongue-in-cheek commentary on the dependent of the youth on the old while striving for their own independence.

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H is for Head Games is a surrealist offering depicting a power struggle between a hand drawn man and woman. It’s difficult to quite ‘get’ what this one is trying to do however its inventive in its own right as the only segment in the anthology to take this filmic approach.

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Letter I, which stands for Invincible was one of the highlights from the ABC’s sequel. Directed by Filipino filmmaker Erik Matti, I is for Invinvible’s concept takes a satirical look at a group of siblings determined to get their hands on the inheritance from their Grandmother who just won’t die! Echoing The Evil Dead in style, I is a very comical segment, representing themes and ideas of greed and entitlement.

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Dennison Ramalho presents a poignant short; J is for Jesus. Taking on a brave subject matter, J is for Jesus comes across as heartbreaking and purely devastating as a man is martyred for being a homosexual. With striking visuals, J is for Jesus tells an uncomfortable story that reminds us there is unfortunately still prejudices in this world when it comes down to religious views.

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K is for Knell is an interesting entry directed by Kristina Buozyte and Bruno Samper in which a woman comes across some insidious black liquid that has the ability to transform people into killers.

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L is for Legacy is an African-themed segment that depicts a ritual sacrifice that has dire consequences for the inhabitants of the village.

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Now for the winner of ‘The Search for the 26th Director Competition’; that in my personal opinion was a rather underwhelming choice. M is for Masticate is played for laughs as a zombie-like man runs down the street in slow-motion. Robert Boocheck’s winning entry suggests that there could be something supernatural going on with this character however the end twist shows otherwise! While most definitely selected for its humour, there were so many more shorts that had much more interesting premises that were more deserving.

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Larry Fessenden’s N is for Nexus is the perfect segment to put you into the seasonal spirit ready for Halloween. With a specific aesthetic filled with pumpkins, costumes (including  a reference to You’re Next) and trick or treaters, Nexus focuses on a couple donning a Frankenstein’s Monster and Bride of Frankenstein costumes. The male sets out to meet his monstrous bride and rushes as fast as he can but something happens along the way which puts a downer on the whole holiday. Beautifully shot and captivating, N is for Nexus is one of the strongest contenders incorporated in ABC’s 2.

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The next segment came in the shape of Japanese director Hajime Ohata’s O is for Ochlorcracy (translated to Mob Rule). A woman is tried in court and sentenced to death by none other than a group of zombies. O is for Ocholoracy is a gripping short that comments on the possible apathetic state of the judicial system. O is sure an interesting one.

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P-P-P-P Scary is another obscure little entry as well as incredibly stylish with homage paid toward black and white comedy films of the past. Filled with strangeness and oddball effects, the Letter P is incredibly enjoyable to watch. Todd Rohal creates a segment that stands out from the rest as it captures that 1930’s, Three-Stooges style comedy mixed in with what would have been considered controversial horror at the time especially for its in-your-face imagery. P-P-P-P Scary is unexpected in what direction it will take next!

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Q is one of the more cleverly-crafted entries that brings  a sense of paranoid horror and the compelling thriller into the mix. Q is for Questionnaire uncomfortably gets under the skin as it depicts a man answering flawlessly on an intelligence test. The scenes intercut with those of lab experiments foreshadowing the purpose of said test, its jaw-dropping! Directed by Rodney Ascher.

 

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Marven Kren’s R is for Roulette is reminiscent of Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds (2009). It’s a suspenseful entry that sees two men and a woman playing a game of roulette to the death, but which one of them will actually pull the trigger? R has a consistent flow of intensity throughout that will leave the audience on the edge of their seat.

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Spanish genre filmmaker Juan Martinez Moreno’s continues the intense tone in the next segment S is for Split. With the quite literal use of a split screen, S shows a husband working away on “business” on the phone to his wife who is isolated in their enormous house. There’s an intruder at the door that rockets this segment into a cat and mouse game as the husband traumatically listens to his tormented wife, fearing that she is about to be brutally murdered by her attacker. This is a must-see as it takes the home invasion concept up a level. It’s frightening and shocking at the same time.

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The Soska Sisters team up once again with American Mary breakout actress Tristan Risk in T is for Torture Porn where they take on the M of all evils, misogyny! Playing an actress at an audition, Miss Risk’s character is appallingly treated by the director played Astron-6 favourite Conor Sweeny who has other ideas for his upcoming star. When he forces the seemingly vulnerable young woman to strip, he and his film crew get more than they bargained for as Jen and Sylvia provide us with a highly entertaining spectacle of a segment conveying the crazy side of horror alongside a smart commentary on the treatment of women within the industry.

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U is for Utopia comes from Cube and Splice director Vincenzo Natali. This segment displays a profound message surrounding the world’s obsession with vanity. With emphasis on appearance, a man who’s considered ‘unattractive’ is singled out in the middle of a mall by those who are deemed attractive, he is subsequently executed making U is for Utopia a truly haunting segment.

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Another highlight, V is for Vacation takes advantage of our endless methods of communication through technology and the dangers it potentially possesses. While on holiday a young man is face-timing his girlfriend (essentially the point of view of the audience). When his unsavoury friend emerges and decides to taunt her about her boyfriend not being entirely faithful she is horrified to discover that he has slept with a prostitute but the worst is yet to come. Jerome Stable’s V works well as it supplies the shock factor to disturbing effect as both the girlfriend and us the audience are placed in a position of powerlessness.

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Steven Kostanski of Astron-6 delivers W is for Wish with the collective’s signature 80’s aesthetic. Remember those old toy commercials that made the toys actually look better than what they were? Well W is for Wish is the embodiment of a child’s imagination and the fantasy of where that imagination takes them. Events however take a turn for the worst when the children are captured by the evil villain from the fantasy world they have entered. There’s also a short but awesome cameo from the Soska’s who look right at home in the zany world Kostanski has created.

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The tone shifts considerably with the next segment from Inside directors Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo, X is for Xylophone. This French short has disturbing undertones as it features a traditional woman in charge of babysitting a young child who is happily playing her xylophone. There is shock and horror on the horizon for when the parents return home!

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Heading towards the end of the anthology, Y is for Youth is significantly memorable as it uses frightening and quirky visuals to convey a young girl’s frustrations toward her parent’s neglect of her.

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The ABC’s of Death 2 closes with Z is for Zygote, an imaginative body horror from the perspective of an expecting mother who literally won’t give birth until her husband returns home. Its unusual and unique in its own way and an extreme closure to what’s been a rollercoaster ride of inventive, gore-tastic visuals and dark humour.

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As a full film, The ABC’s of Death 2 is a great improvement on the original with each segment standing out in their own right. Its a must-see this Halloween as there is something to satisfy every aspect of our horror-fuelled cravings!

Check out my review of the original here, written back in April 2013.

Hayley Alice Roberts.

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

Halloween Month: Re-Animator (1985)

Posted in Halloween Month with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 30, 2014 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

This 1985 sci-fi/horror/comedy is a cult classic to modern horror audiences. Based on the H.P Lovecraft short story ‘Herbert West- Re-Animator’ written in the early 1920’s, Re-Animator was originally planned to be a stage play then a television series. That was until Director Stuart Gordon was advised by special effects co-ordinator Bob Greenberg that there was more scope for horror within the medium of film. Gordon took this on board and was then subsequently introduced to producer Brian Yuzna. Yuzna was impressed by Gordon’s vision and encouraged him to shoot the film in Hollywood as it would be beneficial for all the special effects that were to be brought to life. Ultimately that is what Re-Animator is, a spectacle of squirmworthy special effects that proves difficult to take your eyeballs off!Its a visually gory mind-blowing experience and downright entertaining. The Lovecraft story particularly held appeal to Gordon as a director; noticing a repetitive surge in vampire films, Gordon yearned to see something based on the Frankenstein tale, which is what essentially Re-Animator is a homage to. Although while originally intending to be faithful to Lovecraft’s work, the finished product greatly diverted and became its own thing. The opening scene that sees Herbert West re-animate his professor Dr. Hans Gruber is the main link between them.

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Medical student Dan Cain’s (Bruce Abbott) world is turned upside down when he makes acquaintance with a strange new student Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs). Following his arrival from the University of Zurich, West conducts outlandish experiments on dead tissue to prove he has succeeded the research into brain death. West’s fantastical ideas cause a stir with Dr. Carl Hill (David Gale), a respectable brain surgeon with bizarre and dark agendas of his own as well as Cain’s clingy girlfriend Megan Halsey (Barbara Crampton), daughter of the dean of Miskatonic University (the film’s setting). First tested on animals, West extends his experiments to humans along with Cain’s aid as they break into the morgue in search of the perfect corpse to re-animate, however things so horribly and terribly wrong when Dr Halsey (Robert Sampson) is brutally attacked by the students creation leading to plenty of madness and mayhem to follow!

Certainly a product of its time Re-Animator was set to be an effects focused body horror in the style of the popular horror movies of the time before it, e.g. Evil Dead and The Howling, which is how Yunza pitched it. With shock value galore, the 80’s were one of the more intriguing times for the genre as the goriest effects possible were experimented with, creating a whole new tone for horror movies, how far could they go to make you squirm? While genre films before them relied on the power of suggestion to create their iconic moments, with the availability of FX, 80’s movies could be as visually graphic as possible. At the same time movies like these would have their tongue firmly planted in cheek bringing out buckets of blood with an equal amount of dark comedy. Narrowly, Re-Animator managed to avoid a place on the notorious video nasties list over in the UK however it didn’t go unscathed. Its original video format was given 2 minutes of cuts to remain ‘acceptable’. That said, the intended version has been around for some time now so viewers can enjoy Re-Animator in all its gory glory.

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Overall 24 gallons of blood was used in the movie. Make-up effects artist John Naulin stated that it was “the bloodiest film he’d ever worked on”. However the most challenging effect the film would have to undertake is transforming the late David Gale’s character Dr. Hill into a headless zombie. While CGI wasn’t mastered at this time, what Re-Animator achieved here was tremendous and incredibly well-crafted. Mechanical techniques were in use to bring Dr Hill’s crazy transformation to life. Actor Gale would have to use a specially-made upper torso to stick his head through in order to achieve the effectiveness of him being a headless corpse carrying around his own decapitated head.

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What’s engaging about Re-Animator is its perfect pacing. Beginning as a slow-burner it cleverly manipulates the audience into thinking Herbert West is the villain of the piece but it is soon discovered he is more of an anti-hero once Dr Carl Hill proves how power-hungry he is and attempts to grossly sexually assault Megan and become filthy rich through plagiarising West’s research, all while detached from his own body! Despite West being the creator of carnage he attempts to put things right while protecting his work, he involves a reluctant Dan Cain who’s girlfriend is in jeopardy. Cain also proves that when it comes down to it he will do whatever it takes for the one he loves even if that means putting West’s bright green serum to use! The antagonisitc relationship between West and Hill is compelling and intense viewing as its safe to say no character in this film is a true “good guy”. The build-up from a quirky science-fiction film to an explosion of blood, guts, corpses and gore is a real treat.

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Jeffrey Combs generated cult stardom following his iconic performance in the film. Prior to Re-Animator, Combs made his horror film début in Frightmare (1983). But its this 1985 film and its subsequent sequels he is most remembered for.  Adding to his status as a cult star, Combs has appeared in numerous  episodes amongst the Star Trek franchise. He continued to act in several horror movies following his Re-Animator popularity in titles such as House on Haunted Hill (remake), I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, Feardotcom, The Frightners and The Wizard of Gore. Most recently Combs lent his voice to Don Thacker’s bizarre yet intriguing debut feature Motivational Growth which toured the festival circuit last year. Combs played the mysterious Mould. Combs plays West in Re-Animator as a  headstrong yet flawed character who continually builds on his experiments no matter how out of hand they get! West is calculated, manipulative and ambitious, did I mention murderous! Despite this, Combs does create a sense of likeability with this interesting horror character that allows the audience to root for him.

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The film’s score composed by Richard Band is one of its most powerful assets, creating an atmospheric tone, it is said to be heavily influenced by the theme from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960). Without a doubt its one of the best horror movie themes delivering both tension and excitement during the innovative opening credit sequence.

Upon its release in October 1985, Re-Animator did exceptionally well. It went on to make $2 million in North America, surpassing its budget of $900,000 which was well achieved. The late, great film critic Roger Ebert who was continually vocal about his distaste for certain horror movies gave Re-Animator a thumbs up, describing it as a “pleasure” and admitted “in its own way, on its own terms, in its corrupt genre, this movie worked”. Other critics praised Combs dynamic performance and the out-of-the-box special effects. Re-Animator is now ranked at number 32 on Entertainment Weekly’s “Top 50 Cult Films”.

In 1989 Brian Yuzna directed a sequel, Bride of Re-Animator which is also incredibly well-liked among the horror community. Yuzna directed Beyond Re-Animator a number of years later in 2003 which generated mixed reactions.

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2011 saw a musical adaptation, an intruging translation from screen to stage but fitting in the sense of  Gordon originally planning it as a stage play. From the piece of footage before, the musical looks like a lot of fun with mind blowing effects. In 2006 Dynamite Entertainment released a crossover comic between Ash from The Evil Dead coming across Herbert West. Certainly a guilty pleasure thrill ride for fans!

It’s safe to say that Re-Animator is one to watch this Halloween. Its a true 80’s horror movie, grossly gory, compelling and a twisted update of the classic Frankenstein story that is guaranteed to make you laugh out loud.

Brian Yuzna will be attending this year’s Celluloid Screams Sheffield Horror Festival here in the UK on October 24th-26th as the guest of honour, a late night screening of Bride of Re-Animator will also be on offer. Don’t miss it.

Tweet: @SheffHorrorFest

I love to read your comments, so let me know via this article, twitter (@HayleyR1989) or facebook (link below) your thoughts on Re-Animator and what you’d like to see covered on #HayleysHalloweenMonth2014

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews