Category Archives: Comedy

Arrow Video FrightFest – Twenty Blood Years | Day Three – Vlogging scares, a killer drone and the return of stoners Jay and Silent Bob

While temperatures rose on the streets of London on Saturday, the air-con kept everyone super chilled inside Cineworld Leicester Square (a little too much so for me) during Day Three of the festival. Meanwhile, over at the Prince Charles Cinema there was the first short film showcase which featured some excellent pieces, including folk horror Marianne, the Oz vampire flick The Hitchhiker, The Video Store Commercial and the occult chiller The Cunning Man. I must say, there were a few duds today on the main screens (and many of my FrightFesters felt the same), but here’s three that caught my interest for differing reasons…

DEATH OF A VLOGGER
YouTuber Graham (Graham Hughes) gains viral fame after one of his eerie videos contains an alleged out-of-this-world haunting. But when it’s revealed that it’s all a hoax, he kills himself. But was it?

Any time someone mentions ‘found footage’, I feel a shudder down my spin — the genre is an instant turn-off for me, as it opens itself up to some shoddy, cheapskate ways of making a film. But Graham Hunghes’ viral mockumentary was a genuine surprise. I found myself totally absorbed and taken on the journey, which is all about internet fame and social media shaming and, as such, is bang-on as to what’s happening around us today. Its well-executed, with a cleverly-crafted mix of head-shot interviews, archive material, ripped YouTube content and some unexpected frights; and all the characters have a well-crafted trajectory (and some interesting insights into the human psyche). Deffo one to check out.

DAUGHTER OF DISMAY
I really wanted to see Critters Attack!, but with it being sold out I opted to catch The Drone, which was preceded by this visually-stunning 9-minute short. Shot in 70mm IMAX with great pedigree in the crew department (including The Conjuring composer Joseph Bishara), this visually-stunning occult chiller involves a witch (Ieva Agnostic) attempting to resurrect her daughter (Dajana Rajic) from the dead by invoking a demon (Krist Mort). The scene in which she cuts her arm was probably the single most disturbing thing I have seen so far at the festival (I had to look away, it was so realistic). Director James Quinn is hoping to turn this into a feature. And I hope he does.

THE DRONE
Just before the police break into his home, serial killer The Violator (Neil Sandilands) invokes black magic and downloads his soul into the commercial drone he used to stalk victims. Finding the abandoned drone while moving into their new smart house, just-married Rachel (Alex Essoe) and Chris (John Brotherton) are happy to claim the device as their own. But when strange things begin to occur, they gradually realise the full horror of adopting the psychotic equipment…

The fact that this comedy horror comes from Jordan Rubin, the director of Zombeavers, should have alerted me as to what I was about to see. Yes, its tongue-in-cheek with a definite Empire Pictures vibe and a cheesy synth score that’s part-Richard Band, part Henry Manfredini, but its also down-right ludicrous with two lead characters that you just want to see die. Not because they are exceptionally good-looking (well that’s a big factor), but because they are just so stupid in their actions in dealing with the murderous drone.

I counted a number of instances when they should have just either tossed it back in the bin they found it in, or smashed it. And why does Rachel insist on having the dreaded contraption sit beside her when she keeps shouting, ‘I hate that drone’ and ‘I hate technology’? Of course, this is Rubin’s sledgehammer way of commenting on consumerism and our attachment to technology. The only sensible character in this farrago is Hector, the couple’s dog, whose efforts to try and warn his masters of the impending danger results in him being tied to a post out the backyard.

When Anita Briem’s cougar neighbour Corrine is sliced and diced by the drone, Chris becomes the prime suspect in her murder, which means the couple must now set out to clear his name. This is when the ludicrous plot turns ridiculous, as they hire a private investigator and track down The Violator’s brother, who has just given the possessed drone an upgrade (complete with razor sharp blades and audio speakers). Cue the climactic showdown, a not-so big reveal and a LOL twist ending that hints at (please no!), a sequel.

MADNESS IN THE METHOD
Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith) of Clerks fame reunite in Mewes’ directing debut. Playing an alternative version of his ‘Jay’ persona, Mewes wants to reinvent himself as a serious actor and sets out to land a coveted lead role in a major studio film. Upon advice from Smith, he tracks down a secret book outlining all the mysteries of the Method Acting process. But rather than following the rules, he decides to read the whole book at once — which has disastrous consequences.

Mewes’ self-reverential crime comedy is a bit of a mixed bag and frankly overstays its welcome by about mid-way through its 100-minute running time. But it does feature some wickedly funny cameos. Vinnie Jones, who is framed for the murder that Mewes commits (which sets the action in motion), is pure dynamite – in more ways than one, Casper Van Dien makes for a great bitchy queen, a feather-boa wearing Danny Trejo taps into his feminine side, Dean Cain is terrific as the Superman star hiding from his adoring fans (even though no one actually recognises him), and his old former co-star Teri Hatcher is terrific as a multi-tasking talent agent. There’s also a poignant final on-screen appearance from Marvel icon Stan Lee (and the film is dedicated in his memory). Mewes’ has certainly put his heart and soul into his pet project, but I wasn’t convinced that a horror film festival was the right fit for this screwball comedy.

BEST LINE (from Danny Trejo)
‘It’s not gay so long as the balls don’t touch the chin’

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Arrow Video FrightFest 2019 – Short Film Showcase

One of the big highlights at FrightFest are the terrific short films from around the globe that get their own showcase over the weekend, and there’s something for everyone this year – from folk horror (Marianne) to body horror (The History of Nipples), the weird (The Cunning Man), the surreal (Five Course Meal), the sinister (Service) and the very odd indeed (The Video Store Commercial).

There are just a handful of tickets left for Showcase 1 and 2… just click on the links below

SHORT FILM SHOWCASE 1

SHORT FILM SHOWCASE 2

SHORT FILM SHOWCASE 1
SATURDAY 24 AUGUST – PRINCE CHARLES CINEMA from 1pm

Wither 
Director: Ethan Evans. Cast: Lamissah La-Shontae, Phillipa Howard. UK 2019. 4 min.
A young girl finds herself vulnerable to a sinister mythological farmer after failing to contribute to the annual tradition.

Hana 
Director: Mai Nakanishi. Cast: Hee-jin Jeon, Do Eun Kim, Jeongbi Lee. Japan 2018. 13 min.
Not all babysitting jobs are alike, as college student Sujin is about to discover when she is left in charge of a strange young girl.

Marianne 
Director: Matthew Losasso. Cast: Mae Losasso. UK 2019. 7 min.
A distinguished investigator is called to the grounds of an isolated rectory in a remote English hamlet to observe an enigmatic young tenant.

The Hitchhiker 
Director: Adele Vuko. Cast: Liv Hewson, Brooke Satchwell. Australia 2018. 13 min.
Jade and her friends are on their way to a music festival when they pick up a strange hitchhiker, who makes Jade an offer she might not be able to refuse.

The Dead Ones 
Director: Stefan Georgiou. Cast: Olivia Hallinan, Sebastian Armesto, Vinette Robinson. UK 2019. 19 min.
In this world, those whose lives are cut short by violence do not disappear; they live to haunt the person who killed them.

Abyssus
Director: Kim Westerlund. Cast: Sampo Sarkola. Finland 2019. 9 min.
A man regains consciousness as he is being buried alive. Overwhelmed by panic, he tries to force his way out of the box.

Glitter’s Wild Women
Director: Roney. Cast: Grace Glowicki, Cotey Pope. Canada 2018. 13 min.
In the Canadian backwoods, sisters harvest and smoke glitter that gives them super strength.

The Video Store Commercial 
Director: Cody Kennedy. Cast: Joshua Lenner, Kevin Martin, Jesse Nash. Canada 2019. 4 min.
A desperate video store owner hires a crew to shoot a commercial in his shop. But when they accidentally destroy a cursed VHS, suddenly, all their lives are in danger.

The Cunning Man 
Director: Zoë Dobson. Cast: Simon Armstrong, Ali Cook, Ian Kelly. UK 2019. 13 min.
An old farmer must resort to extreme measures to clean up his dead cattle or face a hefty fine from the Inspector.

The History of Nipples 
Director: Bailey Tom Bailey. Cast: Joseph Macnab, Lily Wood. UK 2019. 10 min.
‘What are my nipples for?’ With this question Ron falls into an existential crisis which seems to have only one solution.

SHORT FILM SHOWCASE 2
SUNDAY 25 AUGUST – PRINCE CHARLES CINEMA – from 15:45

Service 
Director: Theo Watkins. Cast: Paul Clayton, Alison Lintott. UK 2019. 8 min.
Ted is just trying to pay for his shopping, but the shoddy self-service till and eerily elusive shop workers have other, more sinister ideas.

One in Two People 
Director: Ali Mashayekhi. Cast: Katie Strain, Jade Hassoune, Ashley Leggat. Canada 2019. 8 min.
Emily’s friends are getting a bit tired of her insistence that someone in her room is trying to kill her. But maybe they should listen more closely.

Old Beginnings 
Director: Suni Khan. Cast: Hannah Arterton, Lewis Reeves. UK 2019. 16 min.
A young couple trying to rid themselves of the past use an unorthodox and bizarre ritual as they rekindle their love.

Tomorrow Might Be the Day
Director: Josefa Celestin. Cast: Jocelyn Brassington, Tim Barrow. UK 2018. 20 min.
A fanatical believer sets into motion a chain of dark events that he believes will spare his rebellious niece from the impending apocalyptic doom.

Five Course Meal
Director: James Cadden. Cast: Melissa Kwasek, Murray Farnell. Canada 2018. 6 min.
Mark and Jenny agree to take part in a mysterious experiment for money. Things get exceptionally messy.

Under the Parasol 
Director: Stanislava Buevich. Cast: Sarine Sofair, Joe Wredden. UK 2018. 6 min.
Marie comes to the beach to catch some sun. The only problem is that it’s nighttime…

Makr 
Director: Hana Kazim. Cast: Mansoor Alfeeli, Mohammed Ahmed, Madiya Humaid. United Arab Emirates, 2018. 15 min.
A fake exorcist visits the home of a man who thinks his wife is possessed by a Djinn, only to find out that things are not as they seem.

Patron 
Directors: Emily Haigh, Alon Young, Cast: Mhairi Calvey, Jamie Lee-Hill. UK 2019. 11 min.
Vickie has her employment sights set high, but the questions from her faceless male interviewers soon become predatory.

The Obliteration of the Chickens 
Director: Izzy Lee. Cast: Bracken MacLeod. USA 2019. 3 min.
The universe does not care. The abyss is stupid. Existence is banal.

Torching the Dusties 
Directors: Marlene Goldman, Philip McKee. Cast: Clare Coulter, Eric Peterson. Canada 2019. 14 min.
Frank and Wilma are finding that retirement life is more trouble than they had imagined, as protestors appear outside making some very serious demands.

SHORT FILM SHOWCASE 3 ***SOLD OUT***
MONDAY 26 AUGUST – PRINCE CHARLES CINEMA – from 13:00

Pig 
Director: Evan Powers. Cast: Aaron LaPlante, Lindsey Rose Naves, C.J. Vana. USA 2019. 8 min.
A self-conscious psychopath struggles with his body image while terrorizing a group of unsuspecting campers.

One Last Meal 
Director: Jill Gevargizian. Cast: Matt Mercer, Jake Martin, Tim Marks. USA 2019. 11 min.
A prison guard is forced to fulfil an unusual request from a violent criminal on death row.

Dog Skin
Director: Tiago Teixeira. Cast: Maxwell Cavenham, Laura Obiols. UK 2019. 13 min.
A man in a self-imposed exile is haunted by a mysterious dog, who transforms into an elusive woman every night.

Re-Possessed Homes 
Director: Matthew Evans Landry. Cast: Natalie Lisinksa, Jordan Gavaris. Canada 2018. 15 min.
Shirley Parker is a real-estate godsend who has discovered a niche market. However, it might put her family in some danger.

Hunting Season 
Director: Shannon Kohli. Cast: Hannah Levien, Luke Camilleri. Canada 2018. 11 min.
It’s a creepy evening when gas station attendant and recovering alcoholic Callie must deal with a wild beast roaming the area, and the men who are determined to hunt it down.

This Little Death 
Director: Alex Hardy. Cast: Sarah Bauer, Jay Simpson. UK 2018. 19 min.
Young chef Zoe who falls for Mortimer the poet. The beginning is filled with love, lust and laughter, but as the months pass, they realise they have very different ideas of happiness.

Toe 
Directors: Neal O’Bryan, Chad Thurman. Cast: Cassie Carey. USA 2019. 7 min.
A starving boy eats a toe he finds sticking out of the ground. Later that night, something ghastly comes to his bedroom wanting it back.

Midnight 
Director: Katie Bonham. Cast Eleanor Crosswell, Ian Recordon. UK 2019. 8 min.
A ticking clock. Hurried footsteps. A woman struggling. Who are the ghosts that come haunting your apartment at the stroke of twelve?

The Game of the Clock 
Director: Michele Olivieri. Cast: Simone Mumford. UK 2018. 7 min.
A young woman innocently comes to a friend’s home, only to find herself stalked by menacing creature, and time is running out fast.

Sleep Tight 
Director: Lewis Taylor. Cast: Mark Field, Joseph Richard Thomas, Péline Liberty. UK 2019. 8 min.
A wheelchair-bound teen complains about lack of personal space to his overly attached father. But maybe he shouldn’t complain when the lights go out.

Leprechaun Returns (2018) | The tiny terror is back for his gold and some LOL revenge!

Leprechaun Returns

When the sorority sisters of Alpha Upsilon and their hunky tech help decide to go ‘green’ and use an old well as their water source at their new rented desert property, Townie Ozzie (Mark Holton) unwittingly awakens the leprechaun who, 25 years before, was seeking out a pot of gold. Now, the pint-sized wise-cracker (Channel Zero’s Linden Porco) embarks on a killing spree in order to achieve his treasure…

Leprechaun Returns

This is the eighth entry in the horror franchise, that started back in 1993 (with Warwick Davis playing the lead role over six films). It also serves as a direct sequel to the original with Mark Holton reprising his role as dim-witted Ozzie.

Directed by Steven Kostanski (part of the Canadian Astron-6 team, who were behind Manborg, Father’s Day and The Void), this is a horror tickbox cackle-fest, boasting some quotable one-liners and some inventive death scenes – watch out for the solar slicer, the sprinkler silencer and drone decapitator.

Leprechaun Returns

Leprechaun Returns is released by Lionsgate on all digital platforms from 11 December, including:

  • Sky Store
  • iTunes
  • Amazon
  • Google Play
  • Virgin Movies (TVOD Only)
  • Talk Talk
  • XBOX
  • Sony PlayStation
  • Rakuten TV
  • Chili TV

iTunes Exclusive Special Features:
• Going Green with director Steven Kostanski Behind the Scenes
• Still Gallery

Elvira: Mistress of the Dark (1988) | The horror hostess’ big screen debut busts out on Blu-ray

Elvira, Mistress of the Dark

Having just quit her job as a Los Angeles TV horror hostess, Elvira receives the unexpected news that she’s set to inherit part of her great-aunt Morgana Talbot’s estate. Arriving in the small New England town of Fallwell, Massachusetts to claim her inheritance (which include a mansion, a recipe book and a poodle called Algonquin), Elvira receives a less than enthusiastic reception from the conservative locals – amongst them, her sinister great uncle (W. Morgan Sheppard), who unbeknownst to Elvira, is a warlock who secretly schemes to lay his hands on the old family spell book for his own nefarious ends…

Campy, quirky and stuffed to the brim with double entendres, 1988’s Elvira: Mistress of the Dark helped solidify the horror hostess (Cassandra Peterson) as a major pop culture icon, and she owns every inch of the screen here with her quick wit, sass, and of course, cleavage-enhancing gown!

Elvira: Mistress of the Dark

Arrow Video’s Special Edition (out on 10 December 2018) features a brand-new restoration from a 4K scan of the original interpositive, high definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation and original uncompressed Stereo 2.0 audio, with optional English subtitles and the following special extras…

SPECIAL FEATURES
• Introduction to the film by director James Signorelli
• 2017 audio commentary with director James Signorelli and Fangoria Editor Emeritus Tony Timpone
• 2017 audio commentary with Patterson Lundquist
• Archival audio commentary with actors Cassandra Peterson, Edie McClurg and writer John Paragon
• Too Macabre – The Making of Elvira: Mistress of the Dark – newly-revised 2018 version of the making-of documentary including never-before-seen archival material
• Recipe for Terror: The Creation of the Pot Monster – newly-revised 2018 version of this featurette on the concept and design of the pot monster, as well as the other SFX of the movie
• Original Storyboards
• Original US Theatrical and Teaser Trailers
• Newly commissioned artwork by Sara Deck
• Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Patterson Lundquist and a short note on the 2012 audio commentary by Sam Irvin

Here’s the unrestored teaser trailer…

William Castle at Columbia | These Limited Edition Blu-ray box-sets are the biz!

William Castle at Columbia

Renowned for his imaginative and eccentric marketing ploys, American film showman William Castle became synonymous with delivering lurid horror films backed-up by his trademark publicity gimmicks like Illusion-O, Percepto and Fright Breaks. Now, Powerhouse Films/Indicator are releasing eight of his classic films in two highly-collectable Blu-ray box-sets…

WILLIAM CASTLE AT COLUMBIA, VOLUME ONE features four classic fright films from the outrageous showman’s illustrious career with Columbia Pictures and presented on Blu-ray for the very first time in the UK. Containing a wealth of new and archival extras, this stunning Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set is strictly limited to 6,000 copies. Out on 22 October 2018 PURCHASE HERE

SPECIAL FEATURES:
• High Definition remasters of all four films: THE TINGLER (1959), 13 GHOSTS (1960), HOMICIDAL (1961), MR SARDONICUS (1961)
• Original mono audio
• Two presentations of 13 Ghosts: the original ‘Illusion-O’ presentation and the alternative black-and-white version
• The Tingler audio commentary by Jonathan Rigby, author of American Gothic: Six Decades of Classic Horror Cinema, and Kevin Lyons, editor of The Encyclopedia of Fantastic Film and Television
• Homicidal audio commentary by author and film historian Lee Gambin
• Mr Sardonicus audio commentary with Daughters of Darkness’ Samm Deighan and Kat Ellinger
• Spine-Tingler! The William Castle Story (2007, 82 mins): Jeffrey Schwarz’s acclaimed documentary on Castle, featuring interviews with John Landis, Joe Dante, Roger Corman, Stuart Gordon, Leonard Maltin, Budd Boetticher, Bob Burns, David Del Valle, Fred Olen Ray and John Waters among others
• Larger Than Life: The Making of ‘Spine-Tingler’ (2007)
• Kim Newman on ‘The Tingler’ (2018): an appreciation by the critic and author of Nightmare Movies
• Scream for Your Lives!: William Castle and ‘The Tingler’
• I Survived ‘The Tingler’ (2007): an interview with actor Pamela Lincoln
• Unleashing Percepto (2007): an interview with publicist Barry Lorie
• Stephen Laws Introduces ‘13 Ghosts’ (2018): an appreciations by the acclaimed horror author
• The Magic of ‘Illusion-O’: William Castle and ’13 Ghosts’
• Psychette: William Castle and ‘Homicidal’
• Stephen Laws Introduces ‘Homicidal’ (2018)
• The Punishment Poll (2007): an interview with publicist Richard Kahn
• Taking the Punishment Poll: William Castle and ‘Mr Sardonicus’
• Jonathan Rigby meets ‘Mr Sardonicus’ (2018): an appreciation by the film historian and author of American Gothic
• Ballyhoo!: Bob Thomas recalls the time he interviewed William Castle
• Original theatrical trailers
• Trailer commentaries with Sam Hamm, Stuart Gordon and Joe Dante
• Promotional and on-set photography, poster art and archive materials
• Limited Edition box set exclusive booklets with new essays by Kat Ellinger, Dan Whitehead, Rebecca Nicole Williams and Jo Botting, archival interview materials, contemporary reviews, and film credits

WILLIAM CASTLE AT COLUMBIA VOLUME TWO features four more weird and wonderful films from the outrageous showman’s illustrious career with Columbia Pictures, all presented on Blu-ray for the very first time in the UK. Containing a wealth of new and archival extras this stunning Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set from Indicator is strictly limited to 6,000 units. Released 10 December 2018. PRE-ORDER HERE

SPECIAL FEATURES:
• High Definition remasters of all four films: ZOTZ! (1962), 13 FRIGHTENED GIRLS (1963), THE OLD DARK HOUSE (1963), STRAIT-JACKET (1964)
• Original mono audio
• Alternative presentations of The Old Dark House – the black and white 1963 US theatrical presentation (87 mins); the cut-down A-certificate 1966 UK presentation (77 mins); and the complete uncut colour presentation (87 mins)
• Zotz! audio commentary by Diabolique Magazine’s editor-in-chief Kat Ellinger
• 13 Frightened Girls audio commentary by Daughters of Darkness’ Samm Deighan
• The Old Dark House audio commentary by celebrated horror and fantasy authors Kim Newman and Stephen Jones
• Strait-Jacket audio commentary film historians Lee Gambin and Emma Westwood
• Stephen Laws Introduces ‘Zotz!’ (2018): an appreciation by the acclaimed horror author
• Kim Newman on Ray Russell (2018): an appreciation of novelist and writer of Zotz! by the critic and author of Nightmare Movies
• 13 Frightened Girls: William Castle’s original ‘The Candy Web’ opening / closing ‘Danger Card’ messages
• 13 Frightened Girls: four alternativee opening sequences created for international release versions
• Jonathan Rigby on ‘The Old Dark House’ and ‘Strait-Jacket’ (2018): new appreciations by the author of American Gothic: Six Decades of Classic Horror Cinema
• ‘The Old Dark House’ in Eastmancolor (2018): Paul Frith, Senior Research Associate, School of Art, Media and American Studies at UEA discusses the film’s cinematography
• Joan Had Me Fired! (2018): an interview with actor Anne Helm
• On the Road with Joan Crawford (2018): an interview with publicist Richard Kahn
• Battle-Axe: The Making of ‘Strait-Jacket’ (2007, 15 mins)
• Joan Crawford Wardrobe Tests (1964, 4 mins)
• Joan Crawford – Axe Test (1964, 1 min)
• How to Plan a Movie Murder (1964, 5 mins): star Joan Crawford, director William Castle and author Robert Bloch discuss making Strait-Jacket in this vintage piece
• Super 8 version of Strait-Jacket
• Isolated music & effects track on all four films
• Original theatrical trailers
• Strait-Jacket trailer commentary with David DeCoteau
• 13 Frightened Girls original UK trailer introduction
• Alternative 13 Frightened Girls ‘The Candy Web’ trailer
• Promotional and on-set photography, poster art and archive materials
• New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
• Limited Edition box set exclusive booklets for each film with new essays by Joe Jordan, Racheal Nisbet, James Oliver and John Oliver, archival interview materials, contemporary reviews and film credits

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The Horror of Frankenstein (1970) | Hammer’s ham-fisted Gothic horror parody restored in HD

Horror of Frankenstein (1970)

Heading into black comedy horror territory, Hammer screenwriter Jimmy Sangster made his directorial debut with 1970’s The Horror of Frankenstein, a revisionist remake of the studio’s stylish 1957 Gothic horror classic The Curse of Frankenstein  – which he also wrote. But it’s quite the disappointment – even to die-hard fans.

Horror of Frankenstein (1970)

With Hammer eyeing up a hipper, younger crowd, Taste the Blood of Dracula’s Ralph Bates takes over the title role of the monster-making Baron from Peter Cushing (who had played it four times) and he portrays him as a psychopathic serial killer and arrogant womanising misogynist who prefers tight breeches to show off his ‘average’ manhood.

Taking its narrative cue from Curse, the Gothic horror parody finds Bates knocking off his dad, claiming his Baronic title and fortune, and heading off to medical school. But, after getting the Dean’s daughter pregnant, he returns to the family castle, where he sets up shop with fellow medical student, Wilhelm Kassner (Graham James, wearing a hideous pink cravat), to create human life using a big chart labelled with numbered body parts.

Horror of Frankenstein (1970)

Once assembled and activated, the new Baron’s creature – played by a pec flexing Dave Prowse (aka bodyguard Julian in A Clockwork Orange and the strongman in Vampire Circus) – starts killing all and sundry for no apparent reason – altough the indignity of having to wear an S&M collar, nappy and red lipstick applied stitch marks could be justifiable.

The studio-bound exteriors (except for a shot of Austria’s Hohenwerfen Castle, and a bridge and churchyard scene shot in North Mymms, Hertfordshire), re-used sets (the castle stonework looks like wallpaper), and ‘toilet humour’ does Sangster a real disservice (something he later admitted); but this lacklustre affair is worth watching for the Hammer glamour on display.

Horror of Frankenstein (1970)

The Vampire Lovers‘ Kate O’Mara, sporting a dodgy accent that’s West Country by way of the Emerald Isle, vamps it up as the ‘accommodating’ chambermaid Alys, while statuesque Veronica Carlson (who was so good in 1969’s Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed) tries her best as needy professor’s daughter, Elizabeth, whose designs on the Baron get short shrift – probably on account of her Heidi hair-do of greasy links of bratwurst.

Both O’Mara and Carlson add some real Hammer glamour to the proceedings, and on a personal note, it has been great to have met them on the convention circuit. Sadly, Kate O’Mara passed away on 30 March 2015, aged 74, from ovarian cancer. Veronica, meanwhile, has become quite the artist and lives with her family in the US.

Kate O'Mara and Veronica Carlson

Dennis Price (now there’s someone I would have loved to have met) and Joan Rice (in her last film role) steal the show as a husband and wife pair of body snatchers, while Jon Finch is totally wasted as the Baron’s former childhood friend turned local copper. He did, however, find his stride in Roman Polanski’s The Tragedy of Macbeth the following year, and Robert Fuest’s The Final Programme in 1973.

Carry on… Young Frankenstein this is not! But it should have been!

Horror of Frankenstein (1970)

The Horror of Frankenstein gets its Blu-ray UK debut (on Doubleplay from 29 January 2018) courtesy of Studiocanal featuring a brand new HD restoration (which only serves to accentuate the ‘wallpaper’ scenery, plastic forest trees and garish costumes).

It does, however, include the featurette, Gallows Humour: Inside The Horror of Frankenstein, which includes some interesting comments from Veronica Carlson about her time on the production, as well as some interesting production trivia from a handful of Hammer experts.

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Shock Treatment (1981) | You’ll be jumping like a real live wire after seeing Arrow’s fan-bloody-tastic HD release of the cult musical

Shock Treatment (1981)

From Richard O’Brien, the writer and director of The Rocky Horror Picture Show comes not a sequel, not a prequel… but an equal – Shock Treatment, out in a limited edition HD release from Arrow Video.

Shock Treatment (1981)

This riotous, toe-tapping 1981 musical sees Jessica Harper (Phantom of the Paradise) and Cliff De Young taking on the iconic roles of Rocky’s Brad and Janet Majors alongside Barry Humphries, Ruby Wax and a very young Rik Mayall, plus Rocky alumini Patricia Quinn, Charles Gray and Richard O’Brien.

Shock Treatment (1981)

Now leading a quite life in Denton, USA: The Mecca of America, The Bethlehem of the West, The birthplace of the virtuous and the home of happiness, Brad and Janet find their marriage put to the test when they take part in a hugely-popular TV show, only for Brad to end up being institutionalised on the TV station’s medical show while Janet becomes an overnight reality star. But what are the real motivations behind the kooky DTV crew and their enigmatic head-honcho, Farley Flavors?

Shock Treatment (1981)

Mental illness and mass consumerism are fair game in the hands of O’Brien director Jim Sharman, who use some eye-watering day-glo visuals and some witty songs (that certainly rival Rocky) to serve up their blackly comic attack on reality TV (and pre-dating The Truman Show by some 17 years to boot). Time to slip into a little black dress or some green hospital scrubs, grab some friends over and tune into all the crazy madness. Altogether now: ‘You need a bit of ooooh, Shock Treatment!’

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Arrow’s release comes in two designs – Cosmo and Nation (named after O’Brien and Quinn’s characters in the musical), and feature the following contents in each brightly coloured digipak, featuring artwork from Graham Humphreys. You’d better hurry and snap them up on Amazon because they’ve now sold out on Arrow’s own store.

• High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
• Original Stereo 2.0 and 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
• Isolated music and effects track
• Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
• Archive audio introduction by Richard O’Brien
• New audio commentary with actresses Patricia Quinn and Nell Campbell
• Archive audio commentary by “Mad Man” Mike and Bill Brennan
• DTV Presents: A Shockumentary – retrospective making-of featurette
• Let’s Rock ‘n Roll: Shock Treatment’s Super Score – archive featurette on the music of Shocky
• The Rocky Horror Treatment – vintage behind-the-scenes documentary
• Patricia Quinn in Conversation with Mark Kermode
• Fan featurettes & cover songs
• Promo gallery featuring trailers, radio spot and stills
• Collector’s booklet
• Set of exclusive Shock Treatment Mix ‘n’ Match Cards
• Exclusive double-sided “D-E-N-T-O-N” poster
• Complete Soundtrack CD

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Cockneys vs Zombies (2012) | ‘Bloody Trafalgar!’ this zom-com is just as bloody brilliant as Shaun of the Dead

Cockneys vs Zombies (2012)

While geezer brothers Andy and Terry (Harry Treadaway and Rasmus Hardiker) rob a bank with their cousin (Michelle Ryan), an ancient plague is unleashed on London’s East End turning the locals into zombies. Next stop – the Bow Bells Care Home, where their granddad Ray (Alan Ford) and his fellow residents are trying to fend off the undead horde. Can the trio save the oldies and escape before it’s too late?

Cockneys vs Zombies (2012)

Cockneys vs Zombies (2012)

Cockneys vs Zombies (2012)

This 2012 zom-com combines the witty banter and comic hi-jinks of Carry On films of old with the flashy fast cut edits of a Guy Ritchie-styled mockney crime heist to produce one of the best British comedies in ages. In fact, having seen in countless times now, it’s as bloody brilliant as Shaun of the Dead.

Veteran stars Honor Blackman, Richard Briers and Dudley Sutton get the biggest laughs – especially Briers (who died six months after the film’s release) trying to outwalk the zombies on his zimmer frame. And the Ska-fuelled end credits song Head to Head with the Undead is just so darn catchy, you might find yourself wanting the soundtrack as well (yep, there is one).

Cockneys vs Zombies screens on The Horror Channel on Saturday 19th August at 9.00pm

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Vampira (1974) | A dashing David Niven brings a touch of class to the bloodsucking British farce

Vampira (1974)

David Niven’s super smooth Count Dracula is strapped for cash and renting his Transylvania castle out as an upscale B&B and corporate event facility. But when he uses the blood from four finalists doing a Playboy photo-shoot to resurrect his beloved wife, Vampira (Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In’s Teresa Graves), he gets the shock of his life when Vampira turns black.

Packing his coffin, old Drac, his jocular manservant Maltravers (Peter Bayliss) and Vampira leave the Carpathians behind for swinging London and a haunted Hampstead mansion to track down the right ‘donor’ to restore Vampira…

Vampira (1974)

Known as Old Dracula in the US (to cash in on Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein), this 1974 vampire comedy was written by Jeremy Lloyd (of Are You Being Served? and ’Allo ’Allo fame) as a vehicle for David Niven, who brings a real touch of class to director Clive Donner’s Carry On meets Confessions of a Biteable Playmate farce.

Vampira (1974)

One-liner vampire jokes are the order of the day, with the best of them deservedly going to Bayliss, although Niven does get some nifty ones like: ‘That look of horror when they realise that it’s me is so exciting’. Drac’s castle dinner show, complete with creepy organ-playing and flying bats, effectively spoofs Hammer’s horrors, while his gimmicky haunted London pad with its screaming, laughing ghosts, satanic imagery and rat-infested well is a nod to William Castle and AIP’s 1970s shockers.

Vampira (1974)

Lloyd and Donner also pay homage to blaxpoitation and spy flicks by turning Vampira into jive-talking disco queen after watching Black Gunn, and giving Niven some nifty weapons, including a cane with a deadly blade, which he uses to rescue a damsel in distress; while Anthony Newley’s jaunty theme tune sung by UK soul band, The Majestics is played over Bond-esque silhouetted credits. Mind you, Niven blacking up for the film’s final shot may have been misguided.

Vampira (1974)

Psychomania‘s Nicky Henson plays horror writer Marc, who comes under the Count’s hypnotic control in order to put the bite on the likes of Jennie Linden and Veronica Carlson; while sex kitten Linda Hayden makes an early exit when her just-turned waitress Helga gets staked with a crossbow. Comedy actors Bernard Bresslaw and Frank Thornton make their hilarious cameos count, while the other ‘stars’ are the gritty Soho locations and David Whitaker’s funky music that has an air of Geoff Love’s fake 1970’s exotica group Mandingo about it. Fangs for the laughs, folks!

The Fabulous Films Blu-ray & DVD release features a lovely transfer, but no extras. Available from 14 August 2017

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Prevenge (2016) | Alice Lowe delivers with a surprisingly emotional black comedy

Prevenge (2017)Alice Lowe writes, directs and stars in the deadpan black comedy, Prevenge, which follows her heavily pregnant character, Ruth, struggling with prepartum depression and turning to murder as a result.

Prevenge (2016)

Convinced by her unborn baby (who speaks to her from her womb) that her partner’s death in a climbing accident was the result of a group decision to cut his rope, Ruth tracks them down and kills them with a large kitchen knife. But when her waters break as she finally confronts the group’s leader, Tom, (Kayvan Novak), Ruth finds herself on a cliff edge (both literally and metaphorically) swaying between redemption and destruction…

Prevenge (2016)

Shot in just 11 days during Lowe’s own real-life pregnancy, Prevenge is an assured directorial debut from the writer/actress, who is best known for her turns in Ben Wheatley’s Kill List and Sightseers. Now I came into the film expecting it to be played strictly for laughs, but there’s an emotional core that quietly drags you in.

And that’s down to Lowe’s compelling performance as Ruth who, throughout her murder spree, which includes slashing the throat of Kate (Game of Thrones) Dickie’s bitchy boss and the gory castration of Tom Davis’ sleazy DJ, the viewer is left wondering if she’s clinically mad or just having a really bad day?

Prevenge (2016)

Thankfully, Ruth’s got Jo Hartley’s caring midwife to help ground her back to reality. But Ruth is a deeply sad and lonely woman – and you can’t help but sympathise with her because she has no family or support as she awaits the birth of her baby.

Ruth’s bland apartment – which looks like temporary council accommodation – only heightens her loneliness and sense of alienation. So do the other-worldly neon-lit Cardiff city locations  – which were chosen on purpose according to Lowe in the extras.

Speaking of which, do check out the Post Natal Confessions extra, it’s really informative in shedding light on the making of this surprisingly emotional black comedy that deserves multiple viewings. It also reveals the genesis behind my favourite scene in which Ruth meets ‘Death’ in the form of a Halloween party-goer.

Prevenge (2016)

Prevenge is out on DVD, Blu-Ray and VOD from includes an audio commentary with Alice Lowe, cinematographer Ryan Eddleston, editor Matteo Bini and producer Vaughan Sivell.

The Prevenge soundtrack by ToyDrum is also available digitally through Invada Records at www.invada.co.uk

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