Archive for Horror Movies

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

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

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

Hayley on Horror Couch

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

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

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

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

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

**Gory Hugs**

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

Microwave Massacre

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

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

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

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

American Gothic

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

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

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

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

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

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

Xtro

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

Hayley Alice Roberts

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Poll: Which Halloween Month Article Did You like the most? + Ghostface Girls.

Posted in Ghostface Girls, Halloween Month, Horror Festivals with tags , , , , , , , , on October 22, 2014 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

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Just a fun little feedback poll for my readers.

With #HalloweenMonth on the site at an end, which article did you guys enjoy reading the most and what are you most likely to watch on the special day, this October 31st?!

 

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On another note please check out my side project Ghostface Girls latest podcast, Episode 6: Celluloid Screaming. We talk Friday’s upcoming Sheffield Horror Festival, Abertoir’s Halloween events in Cardiff and a couple of things we’re looking forward to at the Aberystwyth Festival in November. We discuss our plans for an upcoming ‘nasty’ little video to be filmed at Abertoir and we want YOU guys to get involved. Fast forward to the end of the podcast to find out how!

You can listen to the latest episode here.

For Caitlyn’s site visit: http://scaredsheepless.com/ for a spooky article on The Woman in Black. 

Also check out our Facebook page, we’re aiming for 100 likes by Friday! Thank you to everyone who has supported us so far.

You can also tweet us at @GhostfaceGirls

I will see you guys at Celluloid Screams and will return with plenty of video coverage!

Hayley Alice Roberts.

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

 

Hayley’s Horror Highlights of 2013!

Posted in Horror Attractions, Horror Festivals with tags , , , , , , , , on December 31, 2013 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

After discussing the horror movies that stood out most this year, this article will take a look at the more personal achievements for Hayley’s Horror Reviews. 2013 on the whole has been a big year which has seen me develop new skills in filmmaking and gaining more confidence in the genre that’s very close to me. Over this passed year I’ve met and worked with some wonderful people on some fantastic projects and made more contacts from all over the globe who are equally as passionate about Horror as I am. Here’s an overview of some of my best horror memories of 2013 in a diary-style/picture format.

January 2013: American Mary trip to Sheffield (Fright Fest).

When I heard Twisted Twins Jen and Sylvia Soska were taking their uniquely dark, hit film American Mary on a UK tour, there was no way I was going to pass up the opportunity to see my favorite film of 2012 on the big screen once more; as well attend a Q&A featuring three of my female role models in Horror. I rallied up some of my close friends together including my co-reviewer Caitlyn Downs (of Scared Sheepless), Sally Jones, Ross Hunt, Martin Lakin and Nia Edwards-Behi (co-director of Abertoir) as we took an awesome road trip down to Sheffield for the night to attend the screening. Following a very entertaining Q&A, I had the opportunity to finally meet the Soska’s as our communication up to that point had only been via email. They were amazing as expected and incredibly friendly. Katherine Isabelle was also in attendance and it was equally as awesome to meet the actress behind Mary and the iconic Ginger from Ginger Snaps (2000) in the flesh. After an eventful evening, we enjoyed a few drinks in the hotel and caught up with Rob Nevitt (director of Celluloid Screams) and a few of the Sheffield festival regulars. The American Mary trip kicked off a great start to the year.

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January 2013: The Ascension Shoot. My first professional filmmaking experience.

Later in the month I took a trip to Redditch after being asked to create a making of  documentary showcasing the short film Ascension. In the previous Summer I had interviewed Writer Dave Jeffrey and Director James Hart about the project that tells the story of a small English community, devastated by the zombie apocalypse while coming together in the hope for survival. I was incredibly grateful to be offered the opportunity to work on such a creative project as well as gain an insight into the behind-the-scenes side of filmmaking. Despite horrendous weather conditions of heavy snow, the cast and crew did an amazing job to bring the film together and achieved it especially well. My role was primarily to provide some exposure of life on set as well as interview the main cast which included Derek Melling and Mark Rathbone (who both starred in my favorite recent horror movie, Inbred), Laurence Saunders (The Seasoning House, Deadtime) and Jacky Fellows (of Fizzog Productions), who are all very talented actors. I shot the documentary on my SD80 Panasonic camera and despite a few sound issues due to the wind, the quality turned out pretty well. Venomous Little Man, the company behind Ascension have recently produced some limited edition DVD’s that includes the behind-the-scenes featurette which I am extremely proud of, to have my film released on DVD. VLM are working on some new projects for 2014 which sound equally exciting and I’m sure their future offerings will grow from strength to strength.

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June 2013: The Ascension Premiere. Screening Ascension:Behind The Screams!

I was invited to Birmingham in June along with my cinematographer/co-editor Ross Hunt to attend the premiere of Ascension. Screening at the Electric Cinema, the premiere was a great opportunity to catch up with the cast and crew in warmer weather conditions as well as get some feedback on the Making Of documentary we had created. Along with the film itself and VLM entry into the 666 Shortcuts to Hell competition, the behind-the-scenes featurette was screened to the audience and achieved positive feedback. For many in attendance it was nostalgic, looking back at all the hard work that went into making Ascension.  It was wonderful to see everything finally come together, following a problematic time during the editing process where a lot of technical issues arose but we eventually overcame. Following the premiere, we attended what could be described as an epic night out to celebrate all our achievements. Even though there is plenty that could be improved with the documentary, it was my first professional filming experience and I feel I took a lot away from it which has helped build my confidence. Working with VLM and gaining an insight into the behind-the-scenes aspect of a film has been inspiring.

All the hard work most definitely paid off as James Hart won the best director award at the Bram Stoker International Film Festival in October. Massive Congratulations and well-deserved.

For my full coverage of the premiere, Click Here.

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July 2013: Graduated University.

Out of everything that’s happened this year my proudest accomplishment has to be graduating from Aberystwyth University with a 2:1 BA Hons degree in Film and Television Studies. I was nearing the end of my first year when I begin this site as a side project which helped me improve my writing skills and critical thinking. Graduation luckily fell on a beautiful summer’s day, it was a relief that all the hard work paid off and I managed to obtain the mark I always aimed for. During my time on the film course, my favorite aspects had to be studying the horror genre (of course), screenwriting, children and the media and writing my most challenging piece yet, my dissertation on the representation of the teenage girl using US television shows to illustrate my argument. I would like to thank all my family, friends and followers for supporting me during my time on the course which has helped adapt my knowledge of film.

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October and November 2013: Celluloid Screams & Abertoir Horror Festival Coverage.

For anyone who works within the genre, these months are usually the busiest! This year I had a fantastic time working with Caitlyn on the two festivals I have been regularly attending for a number of years. Please check out our videos below which developed our presenting skills further as well as my editing skills as I got to grips with using Sony Vegas. We thoroughly enjoy providing reviews and festival coverage each year and aim to support the latest in indie cinema. Expect more from us in 2014!

December 2013: Wrote my first Screenplay!

The final goal I reached in 2013 was finishing the first draft of my feature film screenplay. Currently going through re-writes, I’ve kept the script I’ve been working on for the passed year very secretive until now. Thanks to my university scriptwriting course I began developing the film I’ve had in mind for the passed two years and continued the writing process following graduation. I managed to make the changes I wanted to suit the audience I’m writing for rather than just for the purpose of the course. I’ve had a lot of support from some friends within the industry that have read my work and see its potential, so fingers crossed that I will one day get to make it.

A brief overview of the plot: Following a traumatic experience from her past, Katie vows to make a new life for herself at university. Soon, she meets Jason, an enigmatic and appealing young man who pursues her. When things finally begin to take a turn for the better, Katie stumbles on a dark, horrific secret that could threaten everything she holds dear. The screenplay is a twisted tale of romance, horror and misogyny that combines a series of genres that have been influential on me as a writer.

Happy Horror New Year and keep your eyeballs peeled for more from the site in 2014!

Stay Safe and Don’t go into the woods!!

Hayley Alice Roberts.

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.

First Anniversary Special: My Top 10 Favorite Horror Movies of ALL TIME: Part One

Posted in Anniversary Pieces with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 17, 2012 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

I can’t believe its been one whole year since I began this blog as a side project for myself. It began as an outlet to speak my mind about the movies I love and that have influenced me. I appreciate the support I have been given so much and I no longer write for just myself, I write for you guys too. Thank you to everyone who has subscribed to me and long may these reviews continue. So what better way to mark the first year than by returning to my favourite genre: HORROR! This list isn’t set in stone and is just my personal opinion, these are mainly films that I grew up with and have influenced me into becoming a fully fledged fan of horror films. So let’s bring on the terror!

10. “I Know What You Did Last Summer” (1997)

  • Directed by Jim Gillespie
  • Screenplay by Kevin Williamson, Written by Lois Duncan (novel)

“I know what you did last summer” (1997) was one of the first post-“Scream” slashers that emerged in the late 90’s. Loosely adapted from Lois Duncan’s novel of the same name, “IKWYDLS” tells the tale of four teenagers Julie (Jennifer Love Hewitt), Ray (Freddie Prinze Jr.), Barry (Ryan Phillipe) and Helen (Sarah Michelle Gellar) as they celebrate graduating high school with their lives all heading towards promising futures. That night the teens are involved in a terrible accident, they run over a man of unknown identity. In a state of panic rather than notifying the police they dump the body into the murky waters of the ocean in an attempt to keep their secret dead and buried! One year later someone knows what they did, how? well that’s the mystery, it all begins with a threatening letter and ends in a fight for survival as the teens get bumped off one by one! In terms of following in the footsteps of the success of “Scream”, “IKWYDLS” is one of the better offers. The film uses suspense very well, especially during Helen’s chase scene, it shocks in all the right places and keeps the audience guessing until the very end! The performances are strong as the actors play the distressed teenagers straight. The strongest aspect of the film is while “Scream” critiqued the genre, “IKWYDLS” demonstrated that slasher films could become a more sophisticated medium by eliminating the self-awareness of the conventions the former put in place. In terms of the killer, Ben Willis is pretty average, he’s not as memorable or in the same league as say Freddy or Jason, but admitably he does use some creative stalker tactics on his victims including cutting off Helen’s long blonde hair as she sleeps and placing a body full of maggots in the back of the car! Disbelief has to be suspended in these instances, however they are fun to watch. “I know what you did last summer” is a decent offer in terms of  90’s slashers, Kevin Williamson adapted the screenplay well through fitting the story into the then-modern time period as opposed to the 70’s depicted in the book. It is much simpler to separate both texts and view them as different stories completely as the book doesn’t use the horror edge the film did. “I Know what you did last summer” is placed at #10 for being nostalgic, well-acted and suspenseful!

9. “Halloween” (1978)

  • Directed by John Carpenter
  • Written by John Carpenter and Debra Hill

Genre fans will not be surprised to see this movie featured on the list! “Halloween” begins in 1958 in small-town Haddonfield when a young Michael Myers butchers his older sister and her boyfriend to death on Halloween night! Michael is taken to a metal hospital under the watch of Dr. Sam Loomis. Roll on 20 years and the lunatic has escaped in order to return home to his bloodshed and cause more carnage! Michael begins to stalk Laurie Strode (“Scream Queen” Jamie Lee Curtis) for reasons that are mysterious to the audience (it is however later revealed in the sequel!). Laurie suffers a terrifying ordeal as Michael knocks off her friends one by one in order to get to her! The climax of this film is one of the best in horror history, using maximum suspense as Michael showdowns with Laurie! The strongest aspect of this film is that it doesn’t rely on gore to scare. Its far more disturbing leaving the result of the kills up to the audience’s imagination. The camera work is phenomenal using POV shots from Michael as an effective scare tactic! Michael is one of the most interesting killer’s to date, director John Carpenter even stated that “To make Myers frightening, I had him walk like a man not a monster”, its an enigma as to whether Myers is a supernatural being and is left ambiguous, which makes him all the more chilling especially the concept that he is possibly human and someone who could be identified with. The lack of exposition makes the notion of him far more frightening, this is where Rob Zombie’s re-imagining remake got it so wrong! His motive is never truly understood nor how he’s managed to survive so many times! With Michael being an influential horror villain, Laurie Strode is one of the most influential “Final Girls” that has emerged from genre. She is resourceful and does not succumb to social norms or peer pressure that ultimately destroy her friends, she is most definitely a clean-cut teen role model meaning she can act as a strong opposition to the film’s killer by unknowingly defying the horror conventions of the time. The theme is simplistic yet adds a sense of haunting and has become one of the film’s distinct qualities, giving a sense of pace and suspense. “Halloween” is a film that needs to be seen by all, it is clever in everything it conveys and with little gore exposure it still manages to startle and frighten to this day!

8. “Nosferatu, Eine Symphonie Des Grauens” (1922)

  • Directed by F.W. Murnau
  • Screenplay by Henrik Galeen, Written by Bram Stoker (Novel)

“Nosferatu” is not only one of the best silent films but also one of the best vampire films in history, most definitely being responsible for laying the groundwork for the future of the majority of creature-of-the-night movies. “Nosferatu” is an adaptation of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”.The appearance of the vampire is startling and the main contribution to the chilling and eerie atmosphere that the film evokes. In a time with no CGI and limited make-up effects the sheer brilliance of Count Orlock is amazing and terrifying, with his bony fingers, stretched and hunched body, skeletal frame and hypnotizing eyes, he comes across as ghoulish.  In comparison to the Dracula character in the films that followed, Count Orlock appears monstrous rather than human-like. The expressionist style is interesting in itself with the use of shadows to create atmosphere also adding to the creativity of the piece.  There’s just so much intrigue surrounding “Nosferatu” due to it being an unconventional film choice and because it is now ninety years old, it contrasts modern day films from the genre but still remains unsettling and creepy in a striking way, without being bloody or reliant on jump scares. It truly has stood the test of time as its very well achieved to have made a horror film that stands the test of time.

7. “Hellraiser” (1987)

  • Directed by Clive Barker
  • Screenplay by Clive Barker

“Hellraiser” will most definitely “tear your soul apart”. It pushes the viewer to the limits in a twisted tale of deceit, sadism and gore. When Frank Cotton uses a cube shaped puzzle in order to delve into extreme heights in his deviant behavior of sadist sexual pleasure, he literally unleashes hell on himself by calling on Pinhead (Doug Bradley) and his Cenobite followers that tear his soul and drag him into their labyrinthine domain, a place were pain and pleasure are inseparable! Several years later Frank’s brother Larry, his wife Julia and daughter Kristy move into the house where Frank vanished. Julia is harboring a secret, she was Frank’s lover! She is scheming to pull him out of hell placing her step-daughter Kristy in great danger through evoking fury in Pinhead! “Hellraiser” is visually interesting, the detail put into the portrayal of hell is remarkable and give a strong indication of how it could be imagined if it did exist! The cenobites are uniquely designed appearing as the nastiest creatures imaginable. The story is compelling, with interesting characters willing to go to extreme for their own selfish means! Julia could be considered the main villain of the piece and she does a great job in driving the audience against her leading them to empathize with Kristy, who carries the film well as the “final girl”. “Hellraiser” manages to achieve a strong balance of keeping the attention and interest of the audience through plenty of thrills and chills and with the amount of gore and torture present. It has several powerful components in place resulting in a well-crafted piece through its well thought out narrative with blood splatter thrown in for good measure!

6. “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984)

  • Directed by Wes Craven
  • Screenplay by Wes Craven

The movie that brought your worst nightmares into reality! Along with “Halloween” , “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984) is one of the most iconic and influential films of the genre. It manages to blur the lines between dreams and reality so well that it achieves a frightening effect, most notably the film’s first death featuring Tina, as she is slashed to death while her helpless boyfriend watches on. Freddy Kruger (played fantastically by Robert Englund) has a disturbing backstory, however its the little exposition that goes with it that makes it all the more unnerving. He is also a menacing villain as he plays it for laughs before slicing and dicing his victims with that iconic glove of knives! In the original, Freddy is not featured as heavily, creating the scary notion of what you can’t see can kill you! “Nightmare…” also makes an intelligent commentary on the state of the American family and the rebellion of youth, allowing the audience to read deeper into it. For a more in depth look at “A Nightmare on Elm Street” check out my earlier review from my special “Halloween Month” : https://mshayleyr1989.wordpress.com/2011/10/06/halloween-month-a-nightmare-on-elm-street-1984/ The concept is enough to cause many sleepless night’s making “A Nightmare on Elm Street” a worthy addition to this list.

Part 2 Coming soon….

Hayley Alice Roberts.

One Year Anniversary Review!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on May 17, 2012 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Its been nearly one year since I became an internet reviewer and began this blog. Firstly I want to thank everybody who has supported and will continue to support what I do. I would like to mark the occasion with a BIG review and I have a few ideas going around, so over to you guys, what would you like to see?

 

My Top 10 Buffy The Vampire Slayer episodes”?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Top 10 Horror Movies of all time”?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OR

My Top Favorite Films of the year so far”?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comment your suggestions to this post or tweet me on @hayleyr1989.

THANK YOU

Hayley Alice Roberts.