Heading up the survivors are tough army sergeant Mac (Jim Sweeney) and cowardly Major Gibson (Joe Rainbow), who are transporting the alleged architect of the virus, Dr Sykes (Eric Colvin), to the city of Imperion; the golf-mad Beaumont (Danny Brown) and his teenage daughter, Becca (Rachel Nottingham); office worker Gandhi (Simon Burbage); Essex slag Harden (Jade Colucci); and a pint-sized, heavily-pregnant, religious nutter (Shamiso Mushambi).
Once inside, however, the survivors discover they are not alone – a messiah-like zombie (Rupert Phelps) with the power to heal the infected is wandering the corridors. Believing him to be the cure, Sykes convinces his captors to try and capture the unholy undead dude. But their task isn’t made easy when the virus starts spreading amongst the survivors…
‘Die down the negative energy, it’s not the end of the world!’
This low budget zombie comedy horror from Hampshire-based film outfit Charmed Apocalypse Pictures (aka Andy Phelps and Jake Hawkin) is way better than it ought to be. If you can forgive the copious amounts of swearing and questionable acting ability, this homemade horror is a riot.
It’s got a cracking script, whose black humour owes a big debt to Monty Python, Blackadder and Shaun of the Dead; gory special effects that really do deliver (decapitation by golf club, anyone?); some nicely twisted takes on the horror genre’s stock-in-trade characters; cool comic book style graphics; and a catchy darkwave electronic theme tune (that sounds not unlike Laibach).
Much fun is made about death and religion and some of it is very dark, like when the Bible-spouting Esther tries to crucify herself. It’s also incredibly inventive – who knew wearing a coat of rotting human skin will make you invisible to zombies? Then there’s the fatalistic central theme of being eaten, resurrected and eaten again: now that’s really scary. If there’s one downside, it’s that the comedy ends up taking the back seat as the grisly theme plays out. But then, we wouldn’t have the film’s Romero-esque final shot…
The iconic 1980s horror Fright Night is out in a dual-format special edition from Eureka Classics in the UK featuring a 4k digital restoration of the film and a coffin load of bonus material (check them out below). And the best news? It’s currently available on Amazon for just 8 quid (while the Limited Edition Steelbook is fetching £69.99).
This 1985 vampire movie certainly has plenty of bite – but also strikes the perfect balance of blood and guts horror and darkly comic humour. And alongside the same year’s, The Return of the Living Dead, it remains one of my personal favourites that I return to time and again.
If you love being scared, it’ll be the night of your life…
No-one will believe teenager Charley (William Ragsdale) when he tells them that a vampire called Jerry (Chris Sarandon) has moved into the house next door and is seducing and murdering young maidens there. He then turns to TV horror host Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall) for help. Lured by a $500 incentive by Charley’s girlfriend (Amanda Bearse), who happens to look like Jerry’s long-lost love, the one-time Great Vampire Killer discovers that Jerry is indeed a vampire as he casts no reflection in a glass – and so the deadly games begin…
Sarandon is every inch the smoothie-savage bloodsucker, while Stephen Geoffreys steals every scene he’s in as Charley’s bestie turned beastie ‘Evil Ed’. But the real star of this late night horror show is Roddy McDowall, whose character name is made up of two iconic horror actors – Peter Cushing and Vincent Price. Alongside his turns in the Planet of the Apes films, this must rank as one of his career-best turns.
• 4K digital restoration, with original stereo PCM soundtrack and 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio options, plus English subtitles
• You’re So Cool, Brewster! Exclusive to this release, a two-hour version of the 2016 documentary on the making of Fright Night.
• What is Fright Night? 2016 video piece featuring cast and crew interviews (BLU-RAY ONLY)
• Tom Holland: Writing Horror, a 2016 video piece featuring interviews with Holland and his collaborators (BLU-RAY ONLY)
• Rowdy McDowall: From Apes to Bats, a 2016 video piece featuring archival footage of McDowall and cast and crew interviews (BLU-RAY ONLY)
• Fear Fest 2 2008 reunion panel featuring Tom Holland, Chris Sarandon, William Ragsdale, Stephen Geoffreys, Amanda Bearse, Jonathan Stark and moderated by Rob Galluzzo (BLU-RAY ONLY)
• Shock Till You Drop Present Choice Cuts with Tom Holland and Ryan Turek, a three-part video interview on the film (BLU-RAY ONLY)
• The full electronic press kit, featuring extensive on-set interviews and behind-the-scenes footage (BLU-RAY ONLY)
• Stills and memorabilia from Tom Holland’s personal collection (BLU-RAY ONLY)
• G-rated and R-rated theatrical trailers (BLU-RAY ONLY)
• Collector’s booklet (STEELBOOK EXCLUSIVE)
Evan (Fran Kanz) is in a rut. He’s over-worked in a soul-destroying sales job and he’s just been dumped by his girlfriend and HR manager Amanda (Emma Fitzpatrick). To add insult to injury, his boss Ted (Mad Men‘s Joel Murray) has given his college nemesis Max (Pedro Pascal) the promotion due to him.
When his work colleagues start acting weird, Evan discovers Max is a vampire intent on replacing the entire staff with bloodsuckers. With the help of his slacker best friend Tim (Joey Kern), Evan then sets off to rescue Amanda and save his career…
Hailed as The Office of the horror genre,with elements of Buffy and Shaun of the Dead thrown into the mix, Bloodsucking Bosses is a gory hoot and a half with a sharp script and some hilarious turns from Cabin Fever’s Joey Kern and The Cabin in the Woods’ Fran Kanz. This makes for perfect Friday night viewing after a couple of drinks down the pub.
Out now on DVD in the UK from Entertainment One
Stage Fright (2014) | Shriek and shriek again – The summer camp slasher genre gets a Gleeful musical makeover
SING YOUR HEART OUT!
On the opening night of her Broadway-bound musical The Haunting of the Opera, diva Kylie Swanson (Minnie Driver) is brutally murdered. Ten years later, her producer Roger (Meat Loaf Aday) is running a theatre summer camp where Kylie’s twins, Camilla (Allie MacDonald) and Buddy (Douglas Smith), are helping out. But when the campers decide to revive the cursed musical and Camilla lands the lead role, the deranged killer returns. But who’s behind the kabuki mask and why does the fiend hate musical theatre so much?
IT’S FRIDAY THE 13TH MEETS GLEE
When it comes to horror musical spoofs, few can top Brian De Palma’s perfect pastiche Phantom of the Paradise and its Oscar-nominated score by Paul Williams or Richard O’Brien’s cult favourite sing-along The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The idea of sending up the tired clichés of musical theatre and the slasher genre really is just too delicious to entertain, and that’s what Stage Fright sets out to do. However, its not going to be stealing Phantom and Rocky’s crown anytime soon.
It’s a shame because Stage Fright starts so well – imagine John Waters’ Hairspray and Serial Mum fused with Friday the 13th and TV’s Glee. But the spoof quickly loses its way, becoming very predictable (the killer’s identity is obvious from the start), and wastes a talented cast who have a rollicking time with their kooky characters. The musical numbers are also unmemorable, especially those squealed and shrieked by the deranged metal killer (my ears are still ringing). And as for the neat horror film references, they just get lost in the mayhem.
It’s a careful tightrope act to get the horror/comedy balance just right in a spoof like this, but 1973’s Theatre of Blood proved you can be gory and gleeful at the same time – so long as you have someone of the calibre and range of Vincent Price to make it work. Meat Loaf (bless him) is a poor substitute.
The death scenes are also too violent and too gory to chuckle at. They’re done without finesse, and feel at odds with the bright ‘gay’ musical numbers and the cast of mainly young children singing their little hearts out (bless them, too). Sorry Stage Fright, but it’s a ‘Next!’ from me.
Director Jerome Sable got this gig on the back of his 2010 sing-a-long short The Legend of Beaver Dam (watch it below). Let’s hope Ryan Murphy’s upcoming TV project Scream Queens might just be the ticket to give the slasher genre a bloody good send up.
Stage Fright is available on DVD in the UK from Metrodome
Watch The Legend of Beaver Dam here
Three stories to shock you! Chill you! Thrill you! And make you laugh…
From Amicus, the studio that dripped blood in the 1960s and 1970s with a slate of uniquely British horror fare, comes 1980’s The Monster Club – now in HD.
Taking its cues from Ronald Chetwynd-Hayes’s 1975 short story collection (which is excellent btw), this horror-comedy anthology found veteran actor Vincent Price (playing a vampire for the first and only time in his film career) and an ailing John Carradine (paying a fictionalised Chetwynd-Hayes) musing over three tales of terror while enjoying the dubious delights of a naff member’s club for supernatural creatures. But it bombed! Author Chetwynd-Hayes was struck dumb by how badly his source material was rewritten, while the great Roy Ward Baker (who’d been pulled out of retirement) directed without his usual flair. It was his final feature film, and also that of Amicus supremo, Milton Subotsky.
With little to no fanfare in 1981, The Monster Club ended up on home video, where it took on a bit of a cult following. Looking at it again however the Shadmock and Humgoo stories are actually quite effective, but the club scenes (featuring the worst masks ever) and the comedic vampire story are still pants. Vincent’s great though – especially his impassioned soliloquy in the film’s climax for allowing humans into the club because they have proven time again to be the ultimate monsters.
Network Distributing‘s UK Blu-ray restoration release comes from ITV Global and is a sparkly fresh delight (it also shows up just how bad those masks are). The special features includes the film with isolated music score – where you get to hear all of the songs featured (Barbara Kellerman and Simon Ward having breakfast while listening to a punk vampire song on the radio is hilarious), plus Douglas Gamley’s lyrical instrumental music and Alan Hawkshaw’s stirring synth score; two theatrical trailers (one textless); textless film elements, comprising the opening scene of the bookshop without sound, and the John Bolton/Dez Skinn colour promo poster (see below); promo, featuring the best bits on Blu-ray accompanied by The Viewers’ theme tune; and an image gallery, featuring UK and Spanish lobby cards, as well as lots of pictures you may not have seen before – all courtesy of Stephen Jones.
What is missing are the extras you get on the US Blu-ray from Scorpion Releasing (October 2013), which included George Reis’ detailed production history liner notes, and two interviews with Vincent Price conducted by film historian David Del Valle (I was looking forward to those). But considering I’ve only ever had the film on DVD in French before – it came with an issue of Mad Movies – I’m not complaining.
Check out Vincent’s friendly vamp Erasmus discussing the rules of monsterdom in this clip:
Return to Nuke ‘Em High – Volume One (2013) | This schlocky gloopy gorefest tips the scale in OTT tastelessness
WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE YOUTH OF TODAY?
From Troma mogul Lloyd Kaufman, comes a trashy new term for the Class of Nuke ‘Em High. The schlockmeister’s original 1986 film and its two sequels found the Tromaville High kids battling subhumanoid creatures spawned from radioactive waste seeping out of a nuclear power plant. In this long digested follow-up, the first in a two-part adventure (a la Kill Bill), more toxic shocks await the students and faculty, this time from mutant-morphing school dinners created by the Tromorganic Foodstuffs company, who have built their processing facility on the site of the old power plant.
When the Tromapoof’s Glee Club are transformed into the sociopathic Cretins gang after devouring glowing green tacos, eco-blogger Chrissy (Asta Paredes) and duck-loving rich girl Lauren (Catherine Corcoran) are forced together to deal with the monstrous mayhem. But while trying to take down the evil food giant, Chrissy and Lauren discover something stirring between them – could it be their twitching furry tacos?
YOU JUST F***ED WITH THE WRONG POST-APOCALYPTIC HELL BITCH!
If you’re easily offended, then look away now because Return to Nuke ‘Em High – Volume One is 85-minutes of OTT tastelessness, where boobs, bad acting, bodily fluids and lots of fluorescent gore are the order of the day. But this is Troma for Christ’s sake, so what did you think you were going to get?
Filled with unapologetic, non-PC humour, and peppered with references to Troma’s back catalogue, as well Glee, Carrie and Rock n Roll High School, this cheesy horror romp’s outrageousness will delight Troma fans, while newbies will be left in a state of deep shock by the puerile slapstick comedy – care for a giant penis, anyone?
The legendary Stan Lee makes a cameo in the pre-credit sequence which features a cool retro theme tune (I can’t get it out of my head), while Motörhead’s Lemmy delivers an unintelligible turn as the US President (he desperately needs subtitles). But the strangest thing here is the inclusion of 18 tracks by the cult British punk cabaret act The Tiger Lillies, whose fabulously freaky dark circus sideshow tunes get swallowed up by the frenetic visuals (they belong in a different kind of film altogether).
If you do manage to stay until the end, you’ll discover the film stops abruptly; that’s because you have to wait until Volume Two (currently being filmed now) to find out what happens next (I can’t wait). A schlocky gloopy gorefest that’s a must-see for horror comedy fans.
Return to Nuke ‘Em High – Volume One is out on DVD in the UK from Anchor Bay Entertainment
Check out the 3min trailer…
Hatchet II (2010) | Swamp monster serial killer Victor Crowley delivers another bloody blow to your funnybone
When it comes to tongue-in-cheek horror comedy few films can surpass 1985’s Return of the Living Dead whose comic script, great special effects, neat soundtrack and solid acting really sets the benchmark for these kind of films (as far as I’m concerned, that is).
Adam Green, Horror-dom’s favourite poster boy, made his name back in 2006 with his old-school serial killer horror Hatchet. Since then, he’s stretched his directorial wings with the classy thriller Spiral and the taunt survival chiller Frozen [reviewed here]. But he’s always promised his fans more Hatchet sequels, beginning with this one from 2010.
It doesn’t matter if you haven’t seen the original, but it does help to know a little about Friday the 13th, as this film is a pure homage to the horror franchise and its leading man, Jason Voorhees. Here, Green has fashioned his own horror icon-in-the-making in the form of Victor Crowley: a deformed, indestructible, serial killer who haunts a cursed Louisiana bayou and looks like a cross between Troma’s Toxic Avenger, The Elephant Man, and Robert De Niro’s Frankenstein monster.
The sequel follows directly from the first with heroine Marybeth (Danielle Harris) escaping Crowley’s clutches then returning to the dreaded swamp with a pack of hunters in tow, headed by Tony Todd’s flamboyant Reverend Zombie, to avenge the deaths of her father and brother. Only problem is, Crowley (again played by Kane Hodder, aka Jason Voorhees VII-X) also has a score to settle: the deaths of the three boys responsible for his fiery death.
You have to wait 53-minutes of back-story and highlights from the original before you get to your first fresh kill, but once Crowley starts butchering, you’ll find yourself whooping in delight as the body count rises. The death scenes are gory; inventive and well executed with all manner of tools including shovels, boat motor blades, giant double chainsaw and a sander – in addition to Crowley’s trusty hatchet – being used to decimate the cast.
Forget the cardboard story and mostly lame acting (Harris shouts through her role, while Todd seems to be invoking True Blood’s Lafayette with his performance); it’s the jokey violence and bloody pulp of an ending that makes Hatchet II a winner for me. Does it reach the lofty heights of my favourite horror comedy? ‘Fraid not, but it’s still one to enjoy with your fellow horror fiends over a few beers.
Just one question, does anyone know what a ‘Voodoo Fluffer’ is?
Hatchet II screens on The Horror Channel (Sky 319, Virgin 149, Freesat 138), with the next showing on Friday 28 March at 10.50pm.
Hatchet III is released on DVD in the UK on Monday 31 March from Metrodome Distribution[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qmgd6_KzV_8%5D