Category Archives: Monster

Life (2017)

Director: Daniel Espinosa
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds, Hiroyuki Sanada, Ariyon Bakare, Olga Dihovichnaya. USA. 1h 50m

 

The lack of originality in this horror sci fi is quite disturbing, not only the story pretty basic, but it could have lead to some riveting situations, but the set up is like a b movie horror, if there was a trail of blood leading to a room of screams the cast would trip over each other running into sudden death. But there is a blinding moment at the “oh fuck” ending which really hit a personal nerve with me otherwise the film would be a total disaster.

An unnamed interstellar mission uncovers a basic life form in some soil samples from Mars. The probe is recovered by the International Space Station and their 6 member crew manage to revive a cell sample, which quickly evolves into a multi celled organism which American school children name Calvin. I can only imagine it started out as a piece of space Slime Mold (Check out the docu film Creeping Garden for a ton of info)  An accident in the lab causes Calvin to become dormant, so Hugh Derry (Bakare) tries to shock Calvin back to life, this obviously pisses off Calvin who crushes his hands an in his hostile frame of alien mind then roughs up the doctor and starts smashing up the lab. At one point he breaks into a small cage and eat one of the lab rats,  and starts to grow larger. Despite initiating safety protocol, which means isolating the doctor and Calvin, the team still decide to enter the room in order to save the doctor, (DOH!), Calvin then see this is a free lunch. This is probably one of their more imaginative attacks, as he enters the scientist body and eats him from the inside out,  but upon reappearing he is larger, which is a pretty big indication to the fact that Calvin just consumes and grows. So after eating Ryan Reynolds our boy Calvin then decides to go on a murderous rampage  in and around the ship. Continue reading Life (2017)

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Night Caller from Outer Space / Blood Beast from Outer Space (1965)

Day 5 – Night Caller

Director: John Gilling
Starring: John Saxon, Maurice Denham, Patricia Haines, UK. 1h 25m

There is always a huge amount of respect to be had for early sci fi, the imagination and passion that gave us so many of the inventions that are commonplace in modern times…. Or in this case the sciences is mostly about space and aliens and concepts which are a little out there… but are crazy enough to be enjoyable.

Scientist Jack Costain (Saxon) and his colleagues track and investigate a meteorite that crash lands in the British countryside, the strange spherical asteroid defies science as we know it. The asteroid is taken to the laboratory to be studied but it seems inert, but the army remain on stand by.  Eventually Dr Morley (Dedham) discovers that it is an alien device from Ganymede, a moon of Jupiter and it acts like a gateway, this is only activated when people are alone, usually female. A creature emerges, and stalks Ann (Haines) eventually; using her as bait, they capture a tall alien and take it to their lab, but it escapes. Continue reading Night Caller from Outer Space / Blood Beast from Outer Space (1965)

Ginger Snaps(2000)

Day 1 – Ginger Snaps

Director: John Fawcett .
Starring
. Katharine Isabelle, Emily Perkins, Kris Lemche,Mimi Rogers. Canada. 1h 48m.

Usually teen coming of age movies are both shocking and comedic, and while ginger snaps has all of this, it takes everything to a new level, the comedy is blacker and there’s much more blood than you’d expect from a couple of girls who are just trying to get by in high school..

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A lot of horror films involve teenagers; classic horrors like Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) have thrilled and scared our pants off, but usually the teens are the victims, but a whole lot Ginger Snaps strives to be different from all the rest and in this teen dream film meets hammer horror, the beast wears lipstick and heels while feeling really awkward in social situations. Continue reading Ginger Snaps(2000)

Favourite Scene – Viy (1967)

In this 1960’s folklore inspired horror fest, a young monk, Khoma;  is tasked with saying prayers over the body of a beautiful maiden who is in fact a witch and she terrorising him each night, the tormenting intensifies until the last night where the showdown unleashed all the goblins and trolls the witch can muster and the novice monk has an epic show down and has to basically exorcise the witch. This show down is amazing and I feel that for these scene alone the film should be recognised by more people. Continue reading Favourite Scene – Viy (1967)

My Favourite Found Footage To Date…

I’ve been asked many times to pen this and while I’m not one to shy away from a movie list no matter what the subject, I do find it hard to justify one of my favourite genres as it’s so wildly hated. So time for me to gleefully skip into the world of Found Footage.

My Favourite Found Footage To Date…

There are only a few found footage films that I dislike, for me the genre is exciting and really does get my adrenaline flowing, so much attention has to be incorporated into the making of the film which often leads to some really interesting shots and ideas that creep in, but on the flip side too much over thinking and determination to be sensational can lead to some terrible mistakes and often destroys a film.

There are a few things that really make a Found Footage work

  • Realistic use of cameras
  • Realistic camera expectations, cracked screen poor sound
  • Unknown actors, plausible for real life missing persons etc
  • Incorporating real events and places
  • Thrilling mystery

Some things that really ruin a found footage movie include.

  • Invincible cameras
  • Known actors
  • the footage is not cut it doesn’t appear to be found
  • Plays out like a normal movie
  • Too perfect and no mistakes
  • Anyway back to the list.

cannibal holocaust01.Cannibal Holocaust (1980)

Following the disappearance of a group of filmmakers in the Amazon, a Doctor embarks on a rescue mission. His trip does eventually lead him on the path of the remains of the crew after experiencing his own personal taste in cannibalism. The film is gory and rightfully maintains a stance as a golden oldie of the video nasty era and one of the pioneering found footage movies. It’s brave and not without mistakes but does depict real animal killings and is still rumored to be a genuine snuff film. I do adore it’s brutality amidst the 70’s hedonistic values that crept into the early 80’s.7/10

noroi-the-curse02.Noroi the Curse (2005)

A bizarre Japanese film that follows a paranormal film maker documenting some very bizarre events, the documentary switches between several stories and clips but if you stick with it then it can be quite rewarding. As with a lot of Japanese films it’s incredibly jumpy going from one thing to another but the scares are great and imagery pretty disturbing, there’s more than the typical ghosts with long hair, check out some intense psychic, flocks of dead animals and lots of unexplained mysteries, a terrifying twist and a brilliant ending to top it all off, it really is marvelous. I really loved the freaky guy with the tin foil hat and was impressed by the effects, they weren’t expensive but executed well.7/10

afflicited03.Afflicted (2013)

After getting “Afflicted” by a vampiric virus while on holiday in “Europe” one unlucky backpacker tries his best to deal with his new unwanted lifestyle. The sickness is apparent at first but around the time that he and his best friend starts working out that he might be a bloodsucker he ends up killing his friend who was doing his best to care for his friend not matter how creepy he was acting. So alone he tries to deal with being a sucker and find the source of his virus, what he finds isn’t quite the cure he was looking for. The film seems low budget but is quite imaginative and actually interesting to watch, there is a lead into part 2 which I think could be really exciting if this could get some more backing.6/10

edtidad04.Entidad (2015)

Spain have a lot to do to if they ever want to live up to the nightmares that REC (2007) created. But the Entity (English translation) does offer some really awesome scares. A group of students start their own ameture investigations into supposed haunted videos from the internet, unfortunately one of them turns out to be true and they end up unleashing some kind of demonic force which stalks them. It’s actually really creepy, and one of the few found footage movies that utilises those creepy moments in the corner of the room, or off screen rather than missing the big events, it builds up terror but then DOES deliver. Some scenes reminded me a lot of Silent Hill 4 but that was a scary pill to swallow so well done.6/10

rec spanish horror movie05.REC/2 (2007) (2009)

I know I preach about top 10 lists then then have millions of honourable mentions and how they suck but I am incorporating a few sequels in this list, if you don’t like it “go fuck a duck”. So REC, one of the more recent films that caused the bedroom light to be left on, and a sequel that I had to watch during the day and rightly so because it brought all the fear back, sadly 3 was shit and 4 was OK but not as scary as it could have been. The whole narrative of combining “zombies” and demons isn’t new but it was a brilliantly executed in these two dark as fuck movies. A film crew are following a group of firefighters for their TV show, but one call gets them into something that is just pure nightmarish. After attempting a rescue mission they become imprisoned in an old tenant building where a zombie like virus is spreading through the remaining residents, after some investigations while fighting tooth and nail through the ever increasing numbers of infected they discover that there was a secret vatican experiment in the attic involving a priest and a young girl (not as kinky as you think). The storytelling is sound and the action scenes are literally to die for, a great cast and use of practical effects even for the most bizarre monster manageable, acted by the insanely elongated Javier Botet (check out his youtube channel). On the return we have a similar cast and more religious connotations as a new priest has to get a sample of the infected blood from the original test subject, but things go wildly wrong. Both films are dark and scary, and have a brilliant comedy zombie death scene (I know I’ve used both zombie and infected but just to clarity these are infected).9/10 – 9/10

trollhunter06.Trollhunter (2010)

Norways slick answer to the found footage monster crisis. A group of film students making a movie about bear poaching stumble on a shady character who after some stalking takes them under his wing and reveals that he is a lone Troll Hunter keeping Norway safe from REAL trolls. The film utilises a host of impressive computer generated effects, usually something I argue against but they are so detailed and executed right in this comedic horror. A sterling cast and a fierce and brilliant approach to something dynamic in the found footage pantheon.10/10


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VHS/2 (2012)/(2013)

Another double whammy here, and really this entry speaks for a lot of interesting hard work. These are certainly some of the more inventive and freakily fun found footage movies of the decade. Each film has a different director but the shocking brutality of each is strong. There are different flavours and styles, along with ABC’s of Death (2012) it feels like the directors were trying to out do each other on the surreal scale, and it’s a brilliant opportunity to be outlandish and creative that really gives this shorts some zing, but there is a deeply dark under current, with a lot of mystery surrounding some of the stories, that vary from strange harpy dates, a zombie “go pro” mountain biking trip to alien abductions and my all time favourite, a satanic strange general alternative reality.. something for everyone I’m sure.8/10

poughkeepsie-tapes08.Poughkeepsie Tapes (2007)


This film blew me away and continues to do whenever I watch it. in a similar vein to the banned August Underground films this mock snuff film is a little bit more approachable. This film details a documentary of a serial killer who recorded most of his exploits, it shows various law officials and psychology tutors details parts of his psyche and actions in order to gauge what insane nightmare of a person the killer must be to exact this level of degrading torture. From clips of prostitutes popping balloons for him to the bludgeoning of a little girl and the systematic re programming of his longest lived “slave” the film picks apart the most gruesome scenes from thousands of hours of home video. What’s special about this graphic content is that it does look like old 80s/90’s home camcorder tapes and it has been suggested that it is real found footage for that reason. Brilliant shocking stuff!9/10

manbitesdog09.Man Bites Dog (1992)

Whenever anyone suggest found footage to me I always totally forget this film! If you’ve seen it, you’ll wonder how anyone could possibly forget it. A deeply dark graphic insight into a serial killer, laced with tons of black comedy and gratuitous violence. The killer is a racist sociopath whose poetic and totally unpredictable. The film crew that follow him about and up getting pulled into his killing frenzies, unwillingly of course, but there is little holding anyone back in this movie, but the magic happens by how calm and “inviting” the killer is, as he brutally kills and maims people while often explaining to the filming crew and director his methods and his victims gasp for breath and plead for help, he remains joyous and doesn’t often break a sweat. 8/10

apollo1810.Apollo 18 (2011)

Just around the time when all Found Footage films were starting to feel the same, Apollo 18 came out, somehow freaking out a lot of people who inundated NASA with questions on the mission!? I thought all that hysteria died out with Blair Witch (1999) So this regular space mission goes awry when the US astronauts find remnants of a Soviet crew that look like they have been attacked but by what? Searching the barren moon landscape they find nothing… all that obvious but strange occurrences start to play on their minds but the fear is much more real. I really enjoyed the film, but I’m partial to a slower paced film, I really enjoyed the threat as it looked so unassuming but there are flaws with this film and so many questions but overall I really appreciated the old film/radio approach to the look and feel of the film.Admittedly it could have done more to bring in the crowds, been a bit flashier but I admire it’s reluctance to do that and how it remains a slow burning horror. 6/10

borderlands11.Borderlands (2013)

Ever since it’s showing at the Abattoir film festival this has been an absolute favorite of mine, a passionate priest is sent to a remote church with a film and sound specialist to investigate a proposed act of god that was caught on film, but before the Vatican are willing to accept it, they need to make sure it’s not a hoax. After arriving and setting up cameras and attempting to capture everything the two are joined by one other official but after the death of a local priest and unexplained happenings more Vatican backup is required after they realised what they have stumbled upon. It’s a brilliant display of great story writing, superb acting and a fairly unique story that the like of Ben Wheatley would be proud of and topped off with sterling performances from Gordon Kennedy and Robin Hill. The only thing that lets the film down is the final scene,it’s brutal which is a great kick at the end of a harrowing plot but i’ll let you work out why it doesn’t work. 8/10

august-undergound12.August Underground (2011)

Found footage is often the “cheap”option when it comes to making a movie, something that M Night SHalayalaylayam was accused of when he attempted a comeback with The Visit (2015), but this has to be the cheapest and most thrilling on the list. Much like Poughkeepsie Tapes (2007) the look and feel is incredibly  degraded home videos follow a couple of guys as they kill, humiliate and mame anyone who is unfortunate paths. As an example of the creativity of Fred Vogel in one scene they have a girl tied up in the basement who they beat and rape, her decaying boyfriends body is in the bathtub next to her, they abuse her, cutting off a nipple and later smear her with feces and urine, then force her to eat her beau’s toe… then things get more disturbing. It’s kinda brilliant if you like things on the disgusting side, and if you’re like me you’ll love the trilogy. 8/10

banshee chapter13.Banshee Chapter (2013)

Bejsus!! This film really got me good, and for that I adore it. I’m one of those horror fans who watches horror to be scared, I’m always looking for the next fright and this delivered it and has had long lasting effects on me. The beginning starts out simple enough, a college kid wanting to try a version of DMT that was pioneered in the MKUltra experiments, moments later his buddy films something wearing his skin.. a journalist gets involved and begins her investigations into this drug and the film gets deeper, probing into the government experiments and linking “Numbers Stations” this H P Lovecraft story had a new modern remake that makes it all terrifying once again.9/10

Trolljegeren / Trollhunter (2010)

aofa31days2016

Day 15 of 31

Director : Andre Ovredal
Starring : Otto Jespersen Hans Morten Hansen Tomas Alf Larsen Johanna Mørck Knut Nærum Robert Stoltenberg Glenn Erland Tosterud. Norway. 1h 49m.

From the moment I saw the bold blue and yellow poster I was immediately drawn to this strangely stylised movie. Looking like a special shiny rare card from a collection of Monster In My Pocket I knew that this was going to be a different kind of film, just literally from its approach to it’s advertising techniques… yeah I’m that finely tuned.

So after being astonished by a poster alone I was thrilled to find that this is a found footage horror.. With TROLLS! I was so psyched I was nearly ready to explode. Continue reading Trolljegeren / Trollhunter (2010)

Howling (1981)

aofa31days2016

Day 2 of 31

 

Director/Writer: Joe Dante
Novel: Gary Brandner.
Starring: Patrick Macnee, Dee Wallace, Robert Picardo, Christopher Stone, Dennis Dugan, Slim Pickens, Elizabeth Brooks, Don McLeod. USA. 1h 31m.

A long running all time favourite of mine that displays one of the more memorable transformation scenes in Werewolf Cinema, Howling was certainly a pleasant horror to fall for especially in a year that also saw the amazing cult classic, American Werewolf in London (1981) the stakes were high and this terror filled movie manages to conjure up a less messy but equally thrilling horror transformation in a unique tale.howling-transformation

Continue reading Howling (1981)

Victor Frankenstein (2015)

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Director: Paul McGuigan.
Starring: James McAvoy, Daniel Radcliffe, Jessica Brown Findlay . UK/USA. 1h 50m.

Frankenstein steampunk extravaganza, with more attention paid to the look and feel than the characters and plausibility.

For some reason we’re meant to feel sorry for Victor Frankenstein as he’s often the forgotten part in this tragic story cue the violins bitches. Somehow the most iconic mad scientist is apparently a distant memory?? What the fuck? Anyway this film is supposed to rekindle our love for him, illuminate his persona and resurrect his memory, except it focuses in on igor… in this instance, Igor the  deformed circus clown, later to become Igor (Ratcliffe) with the brain of a medical uni student, manages to cross paths with the hard done by Victor who recognises his medical talents when they rush to the rescue of Lorelei (Jessica Brown Findlay) the gorgeous acrobat and crush. Eventually the unloved intellectual clown is rescued from the circus and through a vile transformation turned from hunchback to gentlemen and given the identity of Igor, a useless student who’s supposed to be bunking with Victor. The two manage to reanimate some corpses and well we all know the story…

The movie draws on the modern fascination of Steampunk but then delivers on the mechanical sense of stunning visuals, detailed sets and costumes but shuffles around various ideas oh who Victor Frankenstein is without giving us the solid basis of a good story oh his character, instead it focuses in on Ratcliffs transformation I’m a romance between him and me acrobat,  eventually in the latter half of  the movie it remembers to chuck in a very brief scene and intro of Frankenstein’s monster and again whips us away on a different fantasy tale. Continue reading Victor Frankenstein (2015)

From the Dark (2014)

From the Dark

From the Dark  (Horror,  2014) (18) D: Conor McMahon  C: Niamh Algar, Stephen Cromwell, Ged Murray. 1h 30m. Ireland.

Synopsis :  A couple on a trip through the Irish countryside find themselves hunted by a creature who only attacks at night.

Back to basics horror that reinforces our primal fear of the dark.

Setting the scene is set as an elderly man desperately trying to bury a body in a peat bog, the soil starts to move, there is a scream and a struggle, cutscene and a young couple make their way through the beautiful Irish countryside bickering over marriage ( I hasten to add that I totally agree with the definition of love and marriage in this conversation). The car breaks down and help is sought in a quiet village down the road. Then things start to get very strange.

Director Connor MacMahon has been slowly ploughing through all the different types of movie monsters in his films and while the actual monsters origins and species isn’t fully explored within the movie it’s easily categorised as a Vampire, looking and acting most like  Nosferatu (1922).  The film boasts an extremely small cast of 4, but doesn’t lack on suspense and thrills, while trudging through at a slow pace.

Being afraid of the dark is quite a natural thing for most of us, having a calculating psychotic monster with a blood lust stalking you doesn’t ease the fear. From the Dark explores all of those creepy moments in the quiet darkness.

from the dark

After the couple make it into an abandoned cottage with the monster hot on their heels they soon work out that light is their own saviour. Being in strange surroundings and with one of them injured it becomes a tricky fight for survival. After Mark (Stephen Cromwell) is mauled by the beast his immobility leads Sarah (Niham Algar) to take the lead in fighting and getting them both to safety. The bickering couple soon have only each other to hang onto and love is no longer in the question, in a similar vein as Hush (2008) they find a much stronger bond to overcome any troubles they once had.

With the hungry creature stalking them  at at all times and trying to work out it’s strengths and weaknesses while protecting Mark, the quick witted and extremely brave Sarah becomes resourceful in her search for light and weapons. Unlike other thrillers like Storm Watch (2007) where Nadia Fares suddenly turns into Macgyver when the shit hits the fan, Sarah’s attempts are much more grounded and realistic. The creature is kept out of sight for most of the movie but it is very apparent that its fast, violent and likes to dwell in the darkness.

The film is high tension and full of jump-scares as well as playing on various phobias, a creepy spider scene as well as some claustrophobic moments, much like the survival horror video game series Alone in the Dark. The effects are very simple, there is little CGI if any, everything is left up to great acting intelligent creature effects. the downside is the lack of varying scenes. the film does lull in the middle, there are only so many times Sarah can run freely around in the darkness with this killer beast always missing her before the mind wonders how long until the end. Things do pick up though, and the ending is quite dramatic and makes up for any earlier shortcomings.

There is a decent slice of gore in between the running around in the dark, a brutal amputation scene and very little dialogue towards the end. It’s a great attempt for a horror movie with an obvious low budget. It makes the best of what it available and dare i suggest that it has a Hammereque style to it. I would imagine something like this coming from the Hammer Horror revival.

It is simple and does revert back to the basics of the horror genre, but its flare is in the wild thrills of the chase the bravery against the unknown. It’s an interesting change to the style of horror that is being produced in modern times, it’s not relying on buckets of gore and huge effects but is an actual horror movie and unashamedly nothing else. I would like to see more modern films taking this on board, as well as future movies from MacMahon.

It won’t grasp a lot of cinema fans as it doesn’t have a classic ending, it’s on the quiet side, more could have been done with sound track in all fairness. There are some moments which people will want to see the gore but it’s not shown. But for me it’s breath of fresh air into my much loved genre.

L : Vampire movies that don’t mention vampires, Selected Irish films, Film that make the dark scary again, Small movie casts, Creatures afraid of the light
A: Creatures who are afraid of the light, therefore.. Demonic.
R: Dog soldiers (2002), 30 days of night (2007), Nosferatu (1922), Hush (2008), Alone in the Dark (2005),

AOFA06

Rating –  6/10


V
: It’s a good film, but with it’s quiet nature and lack of effects it won’t win over too many hearts. Once the mechanics are in place it’s quite interesting with a few screams and shocks in this bitter sweet love story in a dark and horrible chase until dawn. I admire the fact that a lot of the graphical horror scenes are left for the imagination but I also would like to have seen some intelligent use of lower budget creature effects too add a bit of character and oomph. Still an all round good movie it just needed a little tidying up around the edges.

5B : Connor MacMahon
OST: Soundtrack – gorgeous song at the end.
TIL : Bad guys always have long coats

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