Thursday 19 October 2017

Mayhem Film Festival 2017 Part 2 (Day 4)

Welcome to day 4 of Mayhem Film Festival! The one day when I managed to attend in full. Except for the live reading, but we'll get to that. Starting the day was a mockumentary from the land down under...

Top Knot Detective. Dir. & Wri. Aaron McCann & Dominic Pearce.

This story of a failed Japanese TV show is done in the style of the much beloved This is Spinal Tap (1984) and the absolutely brilliant (previously shown at Mayhem), What We Do in the Shadows (2014).

Bizarrely funny with lots of cheese thrown in, the downfall of Takashi Takamoto (Toshi Okuzaki) and his TV show is a surreal roller coast ride of self obsession, forbidden love, sexual harassment, betrayal & madness.

If you're a fan of the mockumentary style of film then you'll enjoy this. It's definitely worth a watch. 

Top Knot Detective gets 3 out of 5 Stars

The second film of the day was something completely different...

Rift. Dir. & Wri. Erlingur Thoroddsen.

Starting off with a short video from the film's director, which was a nice touch as he couldn't be there, Rift (Rökkur - Original title, translated Twilight) takes place in the barren volcanic wilderness of Iceland. 

Such a desolate setting was perfect for this slow burn psychological piece which follows Gunnar (Björn Stefánsson) and Einar (Sigurður Þór Óskarsson) as they hash out their past relationship in a cabin and the surrounding area. It's not long before they are interrupted by an unwanted visitor, that lurks in the dark.

Right, I had this film figured out inside the first 10 minutes. So that slow burn soon became a very, very, slow burn, to the point that I became a little bored and was hoping for some kind of mega twist ending. But that ending never came and I was right all along.
Scroll past the next section to avoid spoilers. I have made it very small so hopefully you'll miss it...

***~~~SPOILER ALERT~~~***
So here's the spoiler. It's basically a gay version of  M. Night Shyamalan's The Sixth Sense
***~~~END OF SPOILERS~~~***

Besides that major flaw in story telling, it was beautifully shot with some stunning cinematography and both Stefánsson and Óskarsson's performances were excellent.

Rift gets a generous 2.5 Stars
Up next was the annual "Flinterrogtion" hosted by Mayhem regular and Reprobate, David Flint. This year's test was a quick one, but with our 7 strong team we managed 3rd place in the incredibly hard horror quiz, which meant we won some goodies which included posters, Blu-rays and more.

The live reading I mentioned before was the 3rd program of the day. Hammer's lost film...

A few of us gave it a miss as we attended the live reading of THE UNQUENCHABLE THIRST OF DRACULA back in 2015. I enjoyed that, but it was a one time experience for me. So here's Realm of Horror's take on it...

"ZEPPLIN VS PTERODACTYLS, not a film, but a live stage reading of an unmade Hammer film. Scripted by festival co-director Steven Sheil, based on the original plot outline from the Hammer films archives, the story revolves around a crew of a Zepplin, on a rescue mission to find survivors from a ship wreck at one of the polar ice caps, only to discover a lost continent filled with Pterodactyls, wild beasts, strange natives and something else...

The story was highly reminiscent of "The Land that Time Forgot", "At the Earths Core" and various other old films about undiscovered lands, but with a Dr Who inspired sci-fi twist.

Narrated by Jonny Phillips (Titanic) with a full cast providing the various voices, it was rather like watching an Audio book or Radio Play being recorded and was Mayhem's second attempt at bringing an unmade Hammer film to life (the other being 2015s Unquenchable Thirst of Dracula) and proved to be hit with the audience. Needed more Pterodactyls though."

After something to eat and a couple of pints, we headed back to catch the Mayhem at Mayhem!

Mayhem. Dir. Joe Lynch. Wri. Matias Caruso.

Starring The Walking Dead's Steven Yeun, this movie was insane, and again, very different from the first 2 films of the day.

Think the TV series The Office meets The Belko Experiment (2016) meets The Raid (2011) and you'll be pretty close to imagining what this movie is like.

The mind-twisting ID7 virus unleashes a scourge that drives the infected to extremes of uninhibited public fornication, shouting contests and, at worse case, rage fuelled fights and killing. Sounds like fun right?! Well that's what we got, an absolute shit load of fun, as this virus breaks out in an office complex. While everybody is loosing their mind, Derek (Yeun) and Melanie (Samara Weaving) are on a mission to get to the top floor to sort out some business with the big wigs of the company. Violence, brutality and blood, with a lot of laughs throughout. Let the Mayhem commence!

Mayhem gets 4 out of 5 Stars

The last film of the day and of the festival was a debut feature for the director...

Dead Shack. Dir. Peter Ricq. Wri. Phil Ivanusic, Davila LeBlanc, Peter Ricq.

This had a similar feel to it as the previous film, a fun one.

A family of 4 and their son's best mate head to the woods for a vacation. But little do they know that their neighbour is hiding her children away, till they get hungry and it's feeding time!

This is a cool edition to the Zombie sub-genre that adds a little something different to what the sub-genre has been saturated with over the past 10 years. 

Dead Shack gets 3 out of 5 Stars

To sum up, another great festival, even though I couldn't make all of it. My top 3 films in order - 1. Double Date. 2. Mayhem. 3. Habit.

Thanks once again to Steven Sheil, Chris Cooke and Meli for all their hard work and to Broadway Cinema for hosting the festival.

Wednesday 18 October 2017

Mayhem Film Festival 2017 Part 1 (Day 1, 2 & 3)

This year's October calendar could not have been set up any better for 2017's Mayhem Film Festival. It not only gave us a Friday the 13th during the festival, but also Mayhem at Mayhem! But, unfortunately it's also fell on an October that has been and still is ridiculously busy for myself and my household. Getting ready to move house, a trip to the atmospheric and beautiful Whitby with my beautiful Angela, my 40th birthday, booking various things for our wedding next year and getting ready for Birmingham Horror Con at the end of the month, which sees us having our own stall to sell Black Box Figures & Props goodies. Plus the fact I couldn't get any time of work. Which all meant I could only get to a couple of films on the Thursday and Friday and completely miss Saturday. So for the films I didn't get to see I'll be sharing Dark Angel's Realm of Horror's blog.

Day 1 (Thursday 12th)

Double Date. Dir. Benjamin Barfoot. Wri. Danny Morgan.
Kicking off the festival is what turned out to be my favourite film. I have written a full review for this which you can read by CLICKING HERE.
I also have the Q&A session video up on YouTube which you can watch by CLICKING HERE.

M.F.A. Dir. Natalie Letie. Wri. Leah McKendrick.
One I missed as I had to leave to get into my bed to sleep for the impending work day! To find out about the film CLICK HERE.

Day 2 (Friday 13th)

Bitch. Dir. & Wri. Marianna Palka.
68 Kill. Dir. & Wri. Trent Haaga.
The first two movies I missed as they were shown at 3:00pm and 5:30pm.

Got a nice poster of Habit signed by Simeon Halligan & Elliot Langridge
 Habbit. Dir. & Wri. Simeon Halligan.
"Set within the neon drenched rain swept underbelly of Manchester, where the addicted prey on the lost and the lonely."
Another treat ensued with this British horror from "up north." This film was very different from Double Date though. This slow burn horror gave us a look into the seedy back streets of Manchester as it follows Michael's (Elliot Langridge) life year's after the death of his mother. Searching for something better than what his own little world can offer, he happens upon a fellow job seeker called Lee (Jessica Barden). This leads him to Cloud 9, a "massage parlour" where he finds more than just a happy ending. 

It's an interesting story, well written, well directed and well acted by a lot of local talent from around the north of England. This left me feeling cold and sombre, which is exactly how the film feels and looks throughout. It was a good thing in this film's case. It effects you both visually and psychologically and will stay with you for a few days after. Definitely recommend this one. 

From left to right: Me, Simeon Halligan, Simon (Realm of Horror)
Habit gets 4 out of 5 Stars

Friday the 13th Part III - 3D.
Mayhem's Steven & Chris getting some shit off Jason
As it was Friday 13th, Mayhem's late Friday classic matched the day, and in style too, shown in 3D. I missed this one, early start the next day and to be honest, I was never a fan of Jason Vorhees. I much preferred his mother's work.

To check out Friday's Bitch, 68 Kill and Friday the 13th Part 3 - 3D CLICK HERE. As I mentioned, I missed day 3 (Saturday), so check out its entirety by CLICKING HERE. For a full run down on Saturday's Scary Shorts CLICK HERE.

Double Date (2017) Review

Screening as part of Mayhem Film Festival 2017 (October 12th-15th), which was also a preview screening as it didn't hit cinemas till the day after, Benjamin Barfoot's Double Date opened the festival on Thursday night. It was one of the films I was most looking forward to even though I couldn't attend the festival everyday this year. As normal for Mayhem, it was a cracking start to the proceedings!

The film follows Jim, (played by the writer Danny Morgan) a 29 year old virgin and his attempt at loosing his virginity right before he turns 30. Helping with this is the best friend Alex (Michael Socha). The fun begins as Jim gains the attention of two seemingly lovely ladies, Kitty (Kelly Wenham) and Lulu (Georgia Groome), although at the very beginning of the film we, as the audience, get to see otherwise.

Kitty and Lulu are sisters and are after something far more sinister than a just a date. With a comedy of errors from Jim, a slew of brilliant one liners from Alex, their evening goes from promising to down right violent as the sister try to bring back something from the past. 

From left to right: Kitty, Lulu, Alex, Jim.

The main reason I was looking forward to this film is that at Mayhem, they always show quality British horror films. This was exactly what I wanted and I got it in spades. It's a very British comedy horror with all the typical humour, both dry and slapstick, we have come to expect.

Danny Morgan wrote an absolute gem of a script with the violence and bloodshed exquisitely complementing each other throughout. He did a pretty damn good job of acting too. In fact the whole cast are excellent and there wasn't any weak links at all. We're even treated to a cameo from Dexter Fletcher as Alex's dad. Michael Socha was hilarious and we were told in the Q&A session after the movie that he ad-libbed a lot of his lines. But it was Kelly Wenham that stole the show. Looking the part in every way, both bitchy and beautiful, going from lovable to psychotic in a split second, and as it turned out a pretty skilled fighter.

And that leads me perfectly to the fight scene between Kitty and Alex. Kelly Wenham trained her ass off for this role doing kickboxing and we were also told that Michael Socha has a background in Boxing. The fight they have is rather epic and can easily stand up on its own in any modern action film as it was that well choreographed and executed. I won't give away any spoilers, but I have to say that it wasn't some completely over the top unrealistic ass kicking like in the film Atomic Blonde where a 130lbs woman smashes blokes three times her size with poorly executed martial arts techniques. While Kitty's skills are well tuned, Alex uses his superior strength as a man... eventually. I commend both director Benjamin Barfoot and Danny Morgan for writing it, and pulling it off.

The film also had the added point of its score which was created by Swedish band, Goat. All in all, the direction, the writing, the acting was spot on along the some nice cinematography both outdoor and the inside club scenes.

From left to right: Danny Morgan, Georgia Groome, Me, Benjamin Barfoot, Matt Wilkinson.

As I mentioned, there was a Q&A session straight after the movie with the Director Benjamin Barfoot, Writer/Actor Danny Morgan, Actress Georgia Groome and Producer Matthew Wilkinson. You can watch that on my YouTube channel by clicking RIGHT HERE. While you're there, please subscribe to my channel. But I digress...

When thinking of British comedy horror, normally you'd probably think of Shaun of the Dead, but Double Date is at the other end of scale and would fit more with films like Severance (2006) and Dog Solders (2002) with it's use of humour, horror and gore FX. It's easily now in my favourite British horror film list. I highly recommend it!

Final thoughts...


Double Date gets a well earned 5 Star

Monday 2 October 2017

The Love Witch (2016) Review

I finally got round to watching Anna Biller's The Love Witch, thanks to subscribing to Shudder UK recently. When I first saw the trailer, prior to the film's extensive festival run throughout 2016 and into 2017, I immediately knew that I had to see it. It seemed right up my street with its looks of 60s / 70s homage. I very nearly pre-ordered the bluray. But I'm glad I waited!

So the plot is simple. As said on IMDB... "A modern-day witch uses spells and magic to get men to fall in love with her." Sounds simple right? Well, yes and no. Here goes the easy bit...

The Love Witch, Elaine (Samantha Robinson), is escaping from a bad relationship and pretty much spends the movie going from one bad relationship to another. All due to the magic she is using. Sex magic! Men fall in love with her, become overwhelmed with her, and die. I'm going to add another quote from IMDB... The film "explores female fantasy and the repercussions of pathological narcissism." That's one way of looking at it I guess. Now, about 10 minutes into the film I paused it and read a couple of articles on the Internet and read up on the director and her, lets call it "agenda" regarding the film. I carried on watching. Carried on watching for the whole 2 hours. Even though I had enough at about an hour in.

OK, let's talk good points. The film was absolutely stunning to look at, with beautifully rich, vibrant colours and a good looking cast. Yes, it certainly had that homage feel to it. A little bit of 60s, but mainly 70s. It looked and felt like it could've been a lost Hammer film, recently restored to its full glory. Really nice set pieces and costumes. Even a touch of eurotashy type score. Even the acting, as its meant to be, nice and cheesy. They had that spot on, if indeed it was meant to be a homage or actually set in the 70s (I'll come back to that later). 

That's really all the positives I took away from it. You could say it's style over substance. Anna Biller certainly tried to add something of substance in there which just ended up being one long joke. A very long, 2 hour joke. 

First of all, let's touch on the 70s vibe, remembering that I've only seen the one trailer (I don't watch many trailers or clips for the same film due to the amount of disappointed when watching the film) and read no other reviews, till that 10 minute mark anyway. My first gripe and probably the major one, with the way the movie looked and felt, if you're going to make a film so overpowered with a 60s/70s feel then set it in the 60s/70s. Seeing a very small amount of modern cars mixed in with all the old (the opening scene - the police car. Shortly after - the BMW pulling up outside the house) "classic" cars really throws off that feeling. OK, OK, I'm a mechanic by trade and I'm fussy about that sort of thing. It just didn't feel right at all though.

The other and only issue, a big one as a whole. The whole film was one big kick in the balls to men by a female director that's clearly one of these modern third-wave pseudo feminists (that's had a few bad experiences, but don't worry, her and her 10 cats will live happily ever after together)! Quite frankly it ruined the film turning it into, one big joke. It ended up being a 2 hour long feminist propaganda film. I think whoever wrote the "pathological narcissism" comment was right. It ended up being a mess, not deciding what it wanted to be. A Pagan Witch film? A Hammer film? A homage film? Set in present day film? A sexist film? A feminist's wet dream? So looking back, I see it as a spoof movie. Now, this is where I rant for a moment or two...

This sort of bollocks is simply not needed nor wanted in the genre. The whole "women in horror" thing we've seen over the past couple of years has gotten ridiculous this past year or so. And I'll tell you why. Horror has always been a heavily female represented genre, certainly from an acting point of view. It coined the phrase "Scream Queen" (apparently not good enough for Barbara Crampton even though it's all she's known for - CLICK HERE) and "Final Girl" where we've seen numerous examples over the decades of very strong female leads and characters. Leave that identity politics, leftist liberal lunacy and personal agenda shite for the pretentious crap we see nominated for Oscars nowadays. It gives female directors a bad name if you ask me. And these "women in horror" or I should say "#womeninhorror" seem to forget that female directors have been around for a long time. A quick search brings up this article straight away - CLICK HERE. As a horror fan, or even a film fan in general, I'm not interested in your gender as a director. I couldn't care less and it has no baring on the end product whether you've got a cock and balls or vagina between your legs. If it's a good film, from both a critical and a fan point of view, then the film and director is worth shouting about, male or female. The quality of your product will bring you the attention you need as a film maker.

But I digress, as I sometimes do. Final thoughts on The Love Witch


The Love Witch gets a very generous 2 out of 5 Stars, due it being beautifully shot