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 Blood Harvest (2016) | Plot-holes and poverty row production values plague this low-budget serial killer slasher
Do not judge them for what they reap…
Belfast detective Jack Chaplin (Robert Render) is fired over his crazy theories that supernatural forces (namely vampires) are behind a string of horrific murders which left victims with one eye scooped out and their Achilles tendons sliced. Hooking up with his former partner, Detective Hatcher (Jean-Paul Van de Velde), Jack then sets out to uncover the truth and halt rising body count…
The Harvest Is Coming…
In fusing horror with procedural crime, you’d expect this to be a Northern Irish take on the giallo in the tradition of Lucio Fulci or Dario Argento. Well, the attacks (spoiler alert: by two psychos in a banged-up old 1950s car sporting welders masks) are certainly on par with those shock merchants, but the violence is particularly nasty, lacking visual style and finesse, and there’s a lot of talky bits in dimly lit rooms. But it’s the big final reveal that will have you pressing rewind on the DVD to make sure you’re not imagining things. It’s really out of this world – literally!
Plot-holes and poverty row production values aside, fans of extended scenes of senseless violence will get a thrill out of this bloody harvest, which does offer up some effective SFX (which scored a gong at the Freak Show Horror Festival in Florida last year). But aside from some atmospheric location set-ups, the pacing, direction and acting reminded me of the kind of homemade movies that I used to make with my university mates.
This is George Clarke’s sixth feature under his Yellow Fever Productions banner and I’d like to shake his hand for keeping the indie film spirit alive. As he says on his website, ‘It isn’t a crime to follow your dreams’. And it certainly isn’t. But if he’s hoping to become Northern Ireland’s answer to Roger Corman, Jim Wynorski or David DeCoteau, then he might think about upping his game next time round.
BTW: Britain’s Got Talent fans might recognise one of the victims as Matt McCreary, who pranked Simon Cowell in 2015 with a free-running routine.
The Blood Harvest is out on DVD in the UK from Left Films, which includes a making of featurette, bloopers and trailers.
Check out the official website: here
Darkest Day (2014) | Now it’s Brighton’s turn for a zombie apocalypse – but it’s the seagulls you really got to worry about!
Fear What You Will Become
Brooding hero-type Dan (Dan Rickard) wakes up on Brighton beach – amid the incessant squawking of the seaside town’s ubiquitous seagulls – to find the streets deserted and littered with rubbish. Suddenly, an angry drooling mob start chasing him and everything goes all blurry and out of focus. No, he’s not coming down from a bad trip after a night out with the lads, Dan’s just found himself in the middle of a zombie apocalypse…
So begins this ultra low-budget British indie that could have done with a better story and better actors. It also looks nothing like the cool poster. After hooking up with some shouty slacker types, including angsty Sam (Chris Wandell) – who has a really annoying voice – and a nice girl called Kate (Samantha Bolter), Dan discovers the army is tracking him down (he’s got some connection to the virus), so he somehow persuades the group to flee the city. Cue: a bunch of fit blokes in black vests and army gear running away from fast-moving zombies (who look like rabid meth-heads desperate for their next fix?).
The hand-held camera work, fast cut edits and blurred shots attempt to give the film a gritty edge – but it only gave me a headache. The films ends as it began, with Dan on the beach and those bloody seagulls still squawking overhead. If there was story in there, I missed it.
Darkest Day is out on DVD in the UK from Left Films, and includes two trailers, and a Making-Of featurette as extras.