Showing posts from June, 2011

Eaters: Rise of the Dead

Dirs. Luca Boni and Marco Ristori

Another month, another zombie flick; Eaters: Rise of the Dead follows the tried, tested and arguably tired formula of pitching a small band of post virus-induced global apocalypse survivors against the marauding undead. Somewhat typically, it opens with a montage of news footage documenting the spread of a mysterious virus, a zero birth rate, the threat of nuclear intervention from governments and the fall of civilisation as we know it. When we pick up with the main characters Alen and Igor (Guglielmo Favilla and Alex Lucchesi), post apocalypse is full-steam ahead. They are two of a number of survivors hiding out in an abandoned building outside the city. Shades of Romero’s Day of the Dead echo through these scenes as the group; largely made up of military men, tussle with boredom and fatigue, while a shady scientist searches for a solution.

In terms of the zombie movie, Italy really jumped on the band wagon after George Romero’s seminal classi…

Oscar Wilde And The Vampire Murders

Unfolding in the spring of 1890, 'Oscar Wilde And The Vampire Murders' is the fourth instalment in Gyles Brandreth’s series featuring writer/poet/wit/dandy/philosopher Oscar Wilde as a highly sophisticated, eloquent and, in typical “Wilde” fashion, self-indulgent sleuth.

Aided in his investigations by fellow literary luminaries Arthur Conan Doyle, Bram Stoker and his eventual biographer, Robert Sherard, the Philosopher of Aestheticism finds himself irrevocably embroiled in a series of nasty murders, the grim details of which suggest they were carried out by a vampire…

Amidst the lavish locations and copious amounts of Perrier-Jouët decadently guzzled by Wilde and co, is an irresistibly macabre mystery which will undoubtedly please those who enjoy classic murder-mystery  whodunits in the vein of Agatha Christie or indeed, Conan Doyle’s own Sherlock Holmes.

To read my full review, head over to Fangoria.

Happy Birthday To Me

Dir. J. Lee Thompson

In the run up to her 18th birthday, Ginny begins to experience bizarre blackouts and flashbacks of a prior traumatic event. These coincide with the gruelling and morbidly inventive murders of her friends. Has Ginny finally lost it after experiencing something unspeakably traumatic a year ago? Is it someone from her past back for revenge for something she can’t remember? As her friends continue to get cut up, Ginny must work fast to remember her recent past and unmask the killer before its too late…

Released in the wake of the success of Halloween and Friday the 13th, Happy Birthday To Me is a typical example of the myriad slasher movies unleashed during the early Eighties. With every new title (usually involving an anniversary/holiday/date) stories became more slight and unimaginative and the main raison d’être, as established by Friday the 13th, was the various death scenes; boasting all manner of splattery SFX, they were the real draw of the genre. Happ…

Scream 4

Dir. Wes Craven

Ten years have passed since Sidney Prescott survived violent attempts on her life by the ‘Ghostface Killer.’ She has rebuilt her life through writing about her experiences. Returning to her hometown of Woodsboro on the anniversary of the original massacre to promote her new book reunites her with old friends, bumbling cop Dewey and reporter Gale Weathers. However, Sidney’s return also sparks a violent killing spree suggesting someone else from the past seeks a reunion with her; albeit a reunion sodden in blood…

The legacy of Scream is undeniable. It succeeded because as well as providing a commentary on the horror genre, particularly slasher movies, it was also suspenseful and scary. In its wake of savvy self-awareness, ironic humour and biting reflexivity, horror was never the same again. Audiences have been inundated with sub-par, second rate slashers with hip casts spouting self-indulgent and ‘knowing’ dialogue which also served as a critique of modern horro…

The Slayer

Dir. JS Cardone

Hugely influenced by Italian horror cinema, particularly in its doomful mood and nightmarish illogicality, obscure slasher The Slayer seems to draw from the same well of horror as the work of Fulci and Argento; where any semblance of logic and coherence is overshadowed by atmosphere and mood. Struggling artist Kay, her husband, her brother and his wife all head off on vacation to a rugged, deserted island retreat. Once there, the already strung-out Kay can’t help feeling she’s been there before. Her mounting sense of dread and paranoia peak when her companions are stalked and slain, one by one of course, by a mysterious assailant who seems to have haunted Kay’s dreams from childhood. Director Cardone builds tension and menace from the outset with the slow-burning story unfurling gloomily to establish vague character dynamics, and the miasma-gorged location serving to wring every drop of foreboding dread from proceedings. No humour is evident in the script, aside …

Wine of the Month – Albali Caliza

This month’s reviews were brought to you courtesy of Caliza (‘barrel aged’), a lush cabernet sauvignon and tempranillo blend from Spanish wine company, Viña Albali. A smooth and medium bodied wine made from selected cabernet sauvignon and tempranillo grapes from the Castile La Mancha region, Caliza displays a mild strawberry with a hint of cherry flavour, which has been aged in oak for several months, adding a lovely, well, ‘oaky’ finish.

Established in 1952, Félix Solís (the parent company of the Viña Albali brand) grow their grapes in harsh climatic conditions (up to 40C in summer and as low as -15C in winter).

If it’s simple and mildly flavoured accompaniment with my movie watching last night is anything to go by, it works quite well with dark and moody David Fincher thrillers like Se7en (the oaky, tannin finish is wonderfully complemented by Morgan Freeman’s dulcet tones and the washed-out colour palette) and, providing your housemate doesn’t make you flick over halfway through …

The Bird with the Crystal Plumage

With his dazzlingly shot and sadistically violent directorial debut The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, Dario Argento built on the giallo blueprint laid down by Mario Bava in the groundbreakingThe Girl Who Knew Too Much and Blood And Black Lace; effectively kick starting the popularity of the giallo movie in early Seventies Italian cinema. A slew of films combining art-house aesthetics and exploitative sex and violence followed suit.

This month sees the release of his chic and savage debut on blu-ray, courtesy of Arrow Video, who have once again really gone all out to give cult movie fans a package to salivate over.

Head over to Eye for Film to read my review of Argento's debut and the host of Arrow Video's tantalizing, jaw-dropping extra features - which ensure this release is a MUST for fans of Argento and giallo all'italiana...

The New York Ripper

Dir. Lucio Fulci

Lucio Fulci’s The New York Ripper has a reputation as a misogynistic slasher/giallo Video Nasty which definitely precedes it. Throughout its running time the audience is subjected to all manner of abhorrent and depressing violence – pretty much solely directed at women; and scantily clad ones at that. These scenes are loosely lashed together by a convoluted ‘murder mystery’ narrative, in which a hard boiled, burnt out New York cop (Jack Hedley) attempts to track down the titular ripper, who has been butchering free-spirited/promiscuous/beautiful women with seemingly wild abandon. Fulci relegates the detective story aspect of the film to the background, focusing more on the killer’s sadistic, frenzied exploits, to push his set-piece driven narrative forward. Indeed, tension is often broken by the tonal change when we switch to the police procedural scenes, as our detective and various bumbling cops just stumble from one convenient clue to the next, with little log…

Julia's Eyes

Dir. Guillem Morales

Julia (Belén Rueda) and her twin sister suffer from a degenerative disease that will eventually leave them blind. When her sister is found hanging in the family basement, everyone but Julia assumes that she committed suicide. As she begins her tender-footed investigation to determine the true cause of her sister's death, Julia is sure that she is being watched, but she cannot see her observer. Is it a distorted result of her failing eyesight or is she only imagining things? Or could it be that the man she believes is watching her every move is invisible? Increasingly isolated after an operation – a last ditch attempt to save her sight - Julia’s nerves are fraught and her psyche seems to be completely unravelling. Is it merely her imagination getting the better of her, or is her sister’s mysterious killer now toying with her too?

Julia’s Eyes is a dark and engrossing thriller that initially looks set to unravel as a vaguely supernatural spook-show mixing …

Paracinema #12 Available to Pre-Order!

Now in its fourth year and going from strength to strength, Paracinema is a New York based, independently produced magazine specialising in the appreciation of films that fall outside of mainstream cinema. Written by fans for fans, each issue features in-depth studies of titles from genres such as horror, exploitation, cult, Asian, giallo and B-movies.

Within the vivid, exquisitely designed pages of issue 12 you’ll find features such as The Man From Australia: Falling Without a Parachute Through the Films of Ozploitation Filmmaker Brian Trenchard-Smith by Justin Bozung; Howling All the Way Straight to Video by Brett Taylor; The Good, The Bad and The Fulci: Tales of Redemption and Revenge from Four of the Apocalypse by Christian Sellers; and Explorers: Exploring Childhood Escapism by Matthew House - of Chuck Norris Ate My Baby infamy - plus much, much more...

*shameless self-promotion alert!*

This issue also includes Sketches of Venice in Red: A Comparative Glance at Who Saw Her Di…