Archive for Stephen King

“We All Float Down Here” A Review of IT (2017)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on September 10, 2017 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

**WARNING: CONTAINS EXTREMELY MILD SPOILERS + CLOWNS**

IT (2017) is currently the most universally talked about horror movie. There is no escaping it’s presence on television and social media; horror fan or not it is unavoidable. Opening on the 8th of September here in the UK, it has already proven itself to be one of the fastest grossing films of 2017. This latest adaptation of the 1986 mammoth Stephen King novel has been highly anticipated and boy, did it deliver the shocks and scares.

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IT centers on a group of misfit teenagers, referred to as “The Losers Club” who are terrorized by an ambiguous evil entity that takes the shape of a sinister clown named Pennywise.

Directed by Andy Muschietti (Mama) (2013); the well-received fright flick altered the original setting of the 1950’s in favour of the recent past; the late 1980’s. The updated timeline provides the film with a more modern outlook and shares a parallel tone with the popular Netflix series Stranger Things (2016-) which is also based in the affectionately remembered decade. The 80’s setting integrates elements of familiarity that holds appeal for the target audience. There are clear Spielberg influences in place in the sense of it being an extraordinary coming-of-age story however this is of course also derived directly from King’s source material too.

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Unlike the iconic 1990 mini-series which starred Tim Curry as the titular character, the 2017 version focuses solely on the main players during their youth and their initial acquaintance with the feared force of evil. The aforementioned 90’s film applied flashback scenes and flitted between the past and present depicting them as traumatized adults as well as assertive children. The film states that this is the first chapter with a confirmed continuation in the works. Containing the story to one timeline allows stronger audience investment and detail within the plot.

Muschietti has achieved the right tonal balance, capturing unsettling horror, an unrelenting sense of dread but also enough humor to bring in slight relief and comfort. Surprisingly, the film is a lot more brutal than expected especially in the depicted gore and violence against young children and the violence committed by the children. It’s a brave yet daring move, utilizing its R rating (15 in the UK) to maximum effect. In fact, it opens with a bang and doesn’t let up once during its lengthy run time.

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IT operates as a strong ensemble piece. There are no weak links among the young but immensely talented cast. The characterization is thoroughly developed, each character embodying their own individual personalities and layered dimensions. Jaeden Lieberher plays protagonist Bill Denbrough with sensitivity and thoughtfulness. Stranger Things favorite Finn Wolfhard provides Ritchie Tozier with equal amounts of forthright boldness and likeable charm. Jack Dylan Grazer captures his hypochondriac character Eddie Kaspbrak with vulnerability and fearfulness. Sophia Lillis gives a stunning performance as Beverley Marsh, the headstrong tomboy harbouring a tumultuous home life and Jackson Robert Scott is heartbreaking as poor, innocent Georgie. The child actors are at the forefront with the parental influence and protection exceptionally thin on the ground leaving them exposed to Pennywise’s terror and their own growing pains. The audience experiences the tale through the eyes of the troubled teens giving leeway for an abundance of imaginative horrific moments.

Bill Skarsgård is a revelation as Pennywise. Any reservations the fans have had about his rendition of the character will soon be dispelled. He is quite frankly terrifying. His first appearance in the sewers sets the tone for the kind of character he is going to be. Skarsgård portrays the chilling clown as outright frightening and grotesque as he salivates over his prey but at the same time sustains a whimsical air about him. There’s an initial softness in his manner as he lures the children to their impending doom before opening his razor-sharp jaws. It goes without saying he is a contender for one of the scariest villains of all time.

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IT is highly compelling, emotion driven and a genuine slice of pure horror. The film features effective CGI, unsettling set pieces and a nostalgic soundtrack. New Kids on the Block anyone? The film has even been Stephen King approved. The prolific horror author even had his own expectations defied. Undeniably, Muschietti and his crew have well and truly pulled off a potential horror classic that manages to outshine the original adaptation. Hopefully, the second installment will live up to the strength and quality of this one but only time will tell.

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews

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Bonfire Films: Suffer the Little Children (2015): A Short Film Review

Posted in Bonfire Films, Horror Festivals with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 14, 2015 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Maine-based production company Bonfire Films are a rising name on the indie genre scene and there’s no one better than them to take on the works of the great Stephen King. Suffer the Little Children is the latest crowd-funded film from Husband and Wife team Corey (Director) and Haley Norman (Writer) and an adaptation of the short story of the same name from King’s 1993 anthology Nightmares and Dreamscapes. Suffer the Little Children provides Bonfire Films with another solid short film that’s both darkly twisted and entertaining.

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Having previously starred in Norman’s feature film The Hanover House, Anne Bobby of Nightbreed fame makes another return to the horror genre taking on the role of the paranoid Ms. Sidley; an ageing primary school teacher who has suspicions that something’s not quite right with her young pupils!

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Bobby steals the show as the flustered, lonely teacher with a morally questionable agenda. Ms Sidley is a complex character in which Bobby portrays spectacularly. The film translates over from the source material incredibly well; whereas with a written story we’re provided with description and a deeper understanding of what a character is thinking, in film its down to the visuals and Suffer the Little Children is reliant on Bobby’s performance. In twenty-two minutes, she does a tremendous job by bringing this emotive character to life who we can empathize with on some level but also leaves us wondering if she’s unhinged or paranoid?

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The second stand-out performance comes from Andrew Lyndaker, who previously starred in Norman’s short Tickle (2014). Lyndaker is a promising young actor and does an effective job at playing the “creepy child” archetype in this. “Tomorrow, something bad will happen” his school-boy character Robert warns Ms. Sidley convincinly, creating unsettling tension.

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Norman is a fan of old-school horror which is evident in the previously mentioned Tickle and his 2013 offering NatalSuffer the Little Children most certainly has a 80s vibe about it and echoes back to King’s 1984 classic Children of the Corn in tone and is slightly reminiscent of A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) with the idea of something shadowy lurking in the school hallway. For a film with a chilling subject matter, Suffer the Little Children is vibrant in its lighting and cinematography, with the brightly lit class room signifying innocence which makes it all the more creepy as the film unfolds. As with Norman’s previous films, Suffer the Little Children is expertly-shot and highly professional.

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Its an ambiguous film that raises moralistic questions. While its a little gory in places, the real horror lies in the psychological aspects. Its no surprise that Suffer the Little Children has already won TWO well-deserved awards at this year’s HorrorHound Weekend all the way in Indianapolis for Best Short Film and Best Actress for Anne Bobby, which was tweeted by her former director, genre legend, Clive Barker.

With another successful film in the bag, I can’t wait to see what Bonfire Films have in store for Horror fans next!

http://bonfirefilmsonline.com/


Reviews:

Tickle: damnationland-2014-tickle-bonfire-films

Natal: https://mshayleyr1989.wordpress.com/2013/10/12/damnationland-2013-natal/

The Hanover House: https://mshayleyr1989.wordpress.com/2014/04/04/the-house-thats-always-been-waiting-for-you-a-review-of-the-hanover-house-2013/

Interview with Corey Norman: https://mshayleyr1989.wordpress.com/2013/05/29/horror-hauntings-the-hanover-house-an-interview-with-director-corey-norman/


Hayley Alice Roberts.

Hayley’s Horror Reviews

Stephen King’s ‘Suffer the Little Children’ to be adapted by Bonfire Films.

Posted in Press Release with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 22, 2015 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Maine based collaborative team Corey and Haley Norman of Bonfire Films are set to bring Stephen King’s short story Suffer the Little Children to life with their latest film. Hardcore King fans will be familiar with the tale from his 1993 collection; Nightmares and Dreamscapes despite being initially published in 1972. Suffer the Little Children centres on a third grade teacher who starts to become suspicious that her young pupils are possessed. According to The Great Stephen King Universe, the tale has been described as an “effective chiller” as there is certainly nothing more terrifying that the destruction of innocence. Nightbreed actress Anne Bobby who has previously worked on Bonfire Films previous feature will star in Suffer the Little Children as lead character Ms. Sidley. Bobby ensures us that the movie is guaranteed to “scare the crap out of you” as it did her reading it.

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The Hanover House filmmakers need our support to make this dreamscape a reality! The Norman’s require the help of the fans to achieve this fantastic project. Over on indiegogo they have set up a campaign with some must have perks on offer from signed posters to a copy of their short film Tickle to a name in the credits; there’s even opportunities to make a cameo in the film as a teacher (no dialogue role) and attend its eventual premiere. Other than donating, you can raise awareness by sharing the campaign page over various social media. Being given the rights to adapt the works of King comes full circle for the writing/directing team who originate from Portland, Maine just like the iconic author. There is no doubt that this is where some of the best American horror comes from.

Bonfire Films have achieved various awards for their work so far at horror festivals across the US including best short film, best feature film and best director.

http://bonfirefilmsonline.com/awards/

Find out more about how you can help Suffer the Little Children:

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/suffer-the-little-children–3/x/8060452#/story

Check out my reviews for their previous work here:

The Hanover House (Feature)

Tickle (Short)

Natal (Short)

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

**WARNING: Will contain Spoilers!**

6. Prom Night (1980)

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

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

5. Scary Movie (2000)

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

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

4. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter

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

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

 3.The Burning (1981)

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

2. Tourist Trap (1979)

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

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

1. Sleepaway Camp (1983)

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

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

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

Hayley Alice Roberts.

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

Coming Soon to Love Horror…

Posted in Horror Attractions, Horror Festivals, Love Horror with tags , , , , , , , , on April 28, 2015 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

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Coming soon to LoveHorror is a write-up of the Leeds Horror Festival 2015, taking a look at some of the genre’s most iconic films and a brand new UK premiere! Keep your eyeballs peeled!

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In the meantime, this month my alias Welsh Demoness took on time-travelling, expectation-defying twisted sci-fi Predestination starring Ethan Hawke (Sinister, The Purge) and A Good Marriage. One woman’s world is turned upside down in this Stephen King adapted thriller when dark revelations about her loving husband of 25 years come to light!

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http://lovehorror.co.uk/thriller/predestination-2014-review/

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http://lovehorror.co.uk/psychological/a-good-marriage/

Hayley Alice Roberts

https://www.facebook.com/HayleysHorrorReviews

‘The House That’s always been waiting for you!’ A Review of The Hanover House (2013).

Posted in Horror Festivals with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 4, 2014 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

The Hanover House (2013) is the debut feature film from Bonfire Films and director, editor and co-writer, Corey Norman. Since 2009, Norman and his independent production company have produced several genre shorts of a high standard including the recent, Natal (2013). Now with The Hanover House; the team can demonstrate their talents with an extended run-time compared to their previous work.

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A disturbing, psychological and supernatural horror/ thriller, The Hanover House is focused on the grief process and how a man must come to terms with the death of his father while placed in an extraordinary situation. Robert Foster (Brian Chamberlain) is recently married with a baby on the way. Following the devastating news of his father’s death, he and his wife Shannon (Casey Turner) return to Hanover to attend the funeral. Following a difficult encounter with his estranged mother Martha (Anne Bobby) and her lover Fred (David Shaffer), who is also Robert’s uncle, Robert and Shannon set off home. During the car journey they are involved in a freak accident which sees Robert run down a young girl. In a desperate search for help, the couple are separated and Robert stumbles on an old, gothic house which unbeknown to him has always been waiting for him. Corey and Haley Norman, the writers of the film deliver a strong script to accommodate the suspenseful and enigmatic plot.

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Shot on a haunted location in Maine, where Bonfire Films are based, The Hanover House is a genuinely creepy ghost story that works on several levels. It deals with family conflict and painful memories that can be evoked through grief which creates high drama. Tonally it is very interesting as the majority of the first act comes across as a social realist film but it soon descends into the paranormal and unknown, from then on plenty of surreal moments are captured.
Echoing classic haunted house films such as The Amityville Horror (1979) in terms of its aesthetics, and taking inspiration from Maine’s most famous genre author Stephen King with references to The Shining (1980), The Hanover House delivers some genuine, thought-provoking scares. The performances from Brian Chamberlain as Robert and Casey Turner as Shannon make powerful viewing as they deal with their individual demons within the house and leave the audience wondering if they’ll overcome them. Flashbacks are used to bring in more depth to the characterizations while eliminating exposition, keeping the blend of supernatural and drama consistent.

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Corey Norman’s editing techniques are one of the most impressive factors within the film. With fast paced cuts consisting of disturbing imagery in place to ramp up the tension during the more frightening sequences. Shot during a blizzard, the wintery setting works in the films favor capturing the coldness of Robert’s character and the darkness surrounding his past.
One of the most significant aspects of The Hanover House is that it marks Anne Bobby’s return to the horror genre. Known for her role as Lori in Night Breed (1990) which recently received restoration treatment and has circulated several film festivals all over the world, her character in The Hanover House, Martha is a far cry from what horror enthusiasts have previously seen her in, demonstrating her versatility as an actress. Martha is Robert’s self-indulgent mother, whom he has had a difficult relationship with. She is the film’s loose cannon and representative of Robert’s unhappy childhood, providing a sense of complexity and impacting on his relationship with Shannon.

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The farmhouse used as the film’s main setting allegedly holds a few real spooks of its own. The crew reported seeing the figure of an old man lurking around as well as shadow people. This certainly would have created an atmosphere on set and incorporates a lot more unease when viewing the film.

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The effects provided by set designer Eric Matheson are of a high quality. They complement the slow-burning pace of the film and come in at unexpected moments, heightening the suspenseful nature of what’s on the screen as well as the creepy style of the house itself. Beginning subtly, the special effects build up gradually becoming more impressive as they go on. There’s even some gory elements in place which is done satisfyingly without going overboard, in order to leave the viewer with an uncomfortable queasiness as the film goes into extremely dark territory.
With the makings of a classic haunted house flick with added emotional depth, The Hanover House will pull you in and keep you in its clutches from beginning till end.

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The Hanover House will be receiving its world premiere on May 9th at the Dead at the Drive-In Horror Festival 2014. If you’re around the Saco drive-in in Portland between the 9th and 10th of May I highly recommend attending the screening.

Visit the official website for more details: http://www.thehanoverhousefilm.com/

For my interview with Corey Norman regarding the behind-the-scenes of The Hanover House, click here.

Hayley Alice Roberts.

Mother’s Day Special: The Top 6 Psycho Mom’s!

Posted in Women in Horror Recognition Month with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 30, 2014 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Happy Mother’s Day to all the awesome mum’s out there. In the horror film, mother’s have played an integral part in the makings of some of our beloved psycho killers. So, what better way to spend mother’s day than counting down some of my personal top five maniacal mother’s who have created carnage on our blood-splattered screens for several decades. These martriach’s would go to any warped lengths for their children and that’s why we love them! I’d like to dedicate this review to my own mother as a thank you for introducing me to the horror genre at a young age, attending some of the UK’s best festivals with me and for generally being awesome.

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6. Mrs Koffin, Mother’s Day (2010)

  • Played by Rebecca De Mornay

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In a performance uncannily similar to that in 90’s thriller, The Hand That Rocks The Cradle (1992); Rebecca De Mornay yet again plays an unhinged woman with maternal instincts. This mother will do all she can to protect her sons, even kill! When a bank robbery goes wrong, the three Koffin brothers turn to their mother for assistance in occupying their old house while taking the new owners and their friends hostage. Initially Mrs Koffin acts friendly towards the frightened individuals, but once she questions them about supposed money her sons had sent her to that address and the group fail to comply in giving back what’s rightfully her’s, things get nasty! With a calm and collected exterior, Mrs Koffin soon shows she’s not to be messed with, permitting her sons to carry out unspeakable acts of violence on the innocent victims. Ambiguous and unsettling, this psychological thriller keeps the audience on edge unknowing what the mother will do next! Mother’s Day was originally a 1980’s exploitation, Troma film directed by Charles Kaufman that has since garnered a cult following, but in this case Darren Lyn Bousman created a glossy, loose re-telling to fit in with today’s Hollywood standard of remakes. That said, Rebecca De Mornay proved to be the perfect casting choice in an overall enjoyable film.

5. Beverly Sutphin, Serial Mom (1994)

  • Played By Kathleen Turner

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Kathleen Turner is superb as the crazed suburban housewife who gets her kicks out of murdering those who don’t comply by her rules! In John Waters warped social commentary on media violence and its effects on society, deranged Beverly Sutphin becomes somewhat of a serial killer celebrity gaining empathy and support from her adoring public. She is most defensive when it comes to her two teenage children Chip and Misty, she brutally runs over her son’s Maths teacher who claims he needs psychological help due to an “unhealthy obsession” with horror movies and graphically impales her daughter’s love interest when she spots him with another girl. Beverly isn’t the most subtle of serial killers, she doesn’t cover her tracks well and is pretty much suspected from the off. She gets her thrills from terrorizing her neighbor with obscene phone calls and isn’t afraid to be vocal about her distaste for others behavior. She is however a lot smarter than first assumed and manages to defend herself in court, getting the backs up of her antagonists and influencing the jury to set her free. In a extraordinary Waters style twist, Beverly’s husband and children are fiercely loyal to her, campaigning for her release while unashamedly basking in the fact their mother has murdered six people with some gruesome methods. In a film very much commenting on the changing society of the 90’s and media influence, Beverly is a glorified serial killer much to do with the fact she embodies what a lot of women could relate to, the fairly normal housewife and mother archetype who is not to be underestimated. The themes in this black comedy such as blame on media violence and the glamorization of murder trials still holds relevant. Beverly is one quirky killing mother not to be messed with. Remember, always recycle and rewind your video tapes!

 

4.  Mrs Bates, Psycho (1960)

  • Played By Anthony Perkins

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Arguably one of the most iconic mother’s in horror, Mrs Bates is integral to son Norman’s psychosis and despite being a rotting corpse she makes a prominent presence in Alfred Hitchcock’s classic adaptation. Driven by jealousy, in life Mrs Bates behaved in a controlling manner towards her only son, forbidding him any romantic involvement and claiming any woman with her as an exception were “whores”. Norman lived isolation with his mother for several years until she embarks on a relationship with Joe Constidine who encourages her to open the infamous Bates Motel. Feeling his mother slipping away from him following neglect, Norman cruelly poisons her and her husband to be in a staged suicide attempt. Unable to deal with his loss with guilt weighing heavy on his shoulders, Norman brings his mother back to life in a sense as she becomes a section of his personality, motivating his psychotic tendencies against women he develops an attraction for. Norman dresses in her clothes while maintaining her mummified corpse. By the film’s end Norman becomes institutionalized with his mother’s personality consuming him. She acts as a justification for his murderous ways. Mrs Bates was heavily influential on one of the suspense genre’s most well-remembered killers. When Hitchcock released Psycho he achieved a hair-raising effect on his audience especially with the reveal of this macabre mother’s decaying corpse and Norman Bates’s disturbed split personality. Her legacy lives on!

3. Mrs Loomis, Scream 2 (1997)

  • Played By Laurie Metcalf.

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In an unexpected twist, the second ghostface killer reveal in the highly anticipated Scream sequel was one menacing mother hellbent on revenge for the death of her equally psychotic son Billy Loomis. Mrs Loomis is extremely crafty in terms of how she goes about getting her vengeance. Following some plastic surgery, she creates a new identity for herself as Debbie Salt, the over eager news reporter who rubs Gale Weathers up the wrong way. Popping up at the crime scene following some of Windsor College’s gruesome murders she has the perfect cover, innocently “reporting” the incidents. Her plan is calculating as she intends to frame college student and partner in crime Mickey Altieri for all the murders while taking out Sidney Prescott and Gale Weathers in the process for their part in the death of her son from the first installment. Channeling Mrs Voorhees from Friday the 13th (1980), she is purely motivated by grief and revenge. Billy became a murderer after she abandoned him following her husband’s affair with Sidney’s mother and she continues his legacy. She blames Sidney heavily for the breakdown of her family unit and won’t stop until she has her dead. Mrs Loomis is remembered for killing fan favorite and movie buff Randy Meeks who met his maker from speaking poorly of Billy. When re-watching Scream 2, its clear at which moments feature Mrs Loomis donning the ghostface attire as she is left handed when she takes to the blade. She does not succeed in her thirst for revenge as she is killed by Cotton Weary who was framed for killing Sidney’s mother in the original film. Sidney shoots her in the head one last time to make sure she’s well and truly gone. Mrs Loomis was the first female killer in the Scream franchise making her the original Ghostface Girl before myself and Caitlyn!

2. Margaret White, Carrie (1976)

  • Played by Piper Laurie

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You can’t create a list of Horror’s most psychotic mother’s without the inclusion of Margaret White. With origins in literature through Stephen King’s novel, Margaret White is the fanatical religious mother of telekinetic Prom Queen Carrie. The most memorable portrayal of this character comes in the shape of Brian De Palma’s 1976 adaptation. With an emphasis on anything to do with sex or the female body as a sin including Carrie experiencing a traumatic first period, Mrs White is the worst mother any teenager could possibly have. She raises Carrie with extreme restrictions, sheltering her from reality. When she becomes aware of Carrie’s abilities she behaves fearfully and deems her a “witch” frequently reading passages from the bible. She meets her demise following Carrie’s blood-soaked rampage at her prom. Carrie returns to her home broken and drained then Mrs White viciously stabs her, this causes Carrie to use her abilities to impale her mother in a symbolic killing mimicking a religious figure. Piper Laurie gives a somewhat hammy yet unsettling performance, this is due to her allegedly perceiving the script as a comedy but it does work well in creating an unhinged, mentally unstable character.  Due to her performance as Mrs White, Piper Laurie achieved some award nominations for ‘Best Supporting Actress’ at the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards. Playing this insane mother ultimately relaunched her career.

1. Mrs Voorhees, Friday the 13th (1980)

  • Played By Betsy Palmer

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Channeling Psycho’s Mrs Bates within the films aesthetics, the mother of the iconic, hockey masked wearing, machete wielding killer Jason Voorhees occupies the top spot. Mrs Voorhees is one of horror’s most unforgettable and unexpected twists. In a flip reverse of what Psycho achieved, Mrs Voorhees motivations stem from grief following the death of her son Jason at Camp Crystal Lake. She also has a split personality, bringing Jason through as she commits murder, slicing and dicing sexually charged youths. Like the majority of the mother’s on this list, Mrs Voorhees is overprotective and will do what it takes to shelter her child from harm. She was a teenage mother with a son born with  hydrocephalus (water on the brain), in order to protect him she shielded Jason from a regular childhood, denying him schooling. While working as a cook in Camp Crystal Lake in 1957, Jason was exposed to constant bullying and teasing. While unattended, Jason went swimming in the lake’s murky waters, unbeknown to the camp counselors who were busy with certain other matters. Jason subsequently drowned sending Mrs Voorhees on a murderous rampage seeking revenge on any teenager who sets foot in the aptly nicknamed “Camp Blood”. She reveals herself in 1979 following the camp’s re-opening and several other grisly murders. Final Girl Alice Hardy ultimately decapitates her ending her bloody reign of terror. Mrs Voorhees death is responsible for avenging Jason and beginning a franchise of  gory horror films with an emblematic serial killer at the helm. She has proven influential particularly in the construction of the previously discussed Mrs Loomis. Betsy Palmer initially dismissed the film not expecting anyone to watch it however she created a cult character and a highly memorable performance of a psychotic mother who certainly won’t let things lie when it comes to her only son. Click here for more on Friday the 13th (1980) from this site.

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Hope you enjoyed this countdown. Feel free to comment or tweet (@Hayleyr1989) on your favorite psycho mom’s! Also check out my latest debate with Caitlyn (Scared Sheepless) on Wolf Creek (2005) currently available on moviepilot.com.

Hayley Alice Roberts.

Hayley’s Horror Reviews