Tuesday, 29 July 2014

An Open Letter to the Horror Community


For a long time now, I've been observing a lot of negativity in the horror community. This negativity has shown itself in a number of different ways. Public name calling, putting people's reputation and professionalism into question, boycotting of certain people's books and films (especially from people who have more of an online presence and clout behind them). The list goes on and on....

I've sat back and watched this all unfold, but I think it's time to have a say. I admit to being a coward for not coming forward sooner and putting my views across. Mostly this was due to fear of receiving backlash myself, but I feel that I let down a few people because I didn't say anything and didn't want to get involved.

But, I've seen the repercussions of this negativity and name calling. Paranoia, depression, the feeling that everyone is against you. I've even witnessed the online aspect filter into, and have an effect, on people's everyday lives. I know people who have had to phone the police to check on relatives because people have posted their personal details online. I know people who have had problems at their place of work.

Why does it have to be like that? I've barely read a horror blog this year that has written much about horror. It has mostly been negativity. "He said this", "she said that", screencaps of things people have said, etc, etc. Why does it have to be like that? What happened to the days that if you didn't like a blog or review you simply ignored it. When did everyone decide "I don't like this, therefore I'm going to destroy this and everything associated with it!". What happened to constructive criticism? "You suck and should die and burn in hell!!!", is never an appropriate comment to ever give. Everyone is doing it though. Just because you're online and can say whatever you like (which you're at liberty to do), doesn't mean you have to say it.

A community to me should support each other, help each other out, have respect for each others differences. The horror community should do this AND make sure that they don't give horror a bad name. All this fighting has to stop. It makes you look like a fool and it's bringing down horror at the same time. I guess what I want to say is, give up all this negativity and try settling your differences and work together for once. Who knows what you'll be able to achieve as a team.

Maybe I'm too much of an idealist. I doubt you'll ever get along. But you can at least tolerate one another.

This is my one and only cry for sense and some unity in the horror community. I'm just a regular guy, with no aspirations of making money out of this blogging stuff. I do it all for the love of the genre. But I think some people have forgotten why they do what they do.

Thank you,

Michael. (Some nobody blogger)

Monday, 14 July 2014

Grotesque (Gurotesuku)

Hello, and welcome to Left Field Films, which is probably the most inconsistent blog on the internet (my last blog was in January). But, I am still very much active. I just write when I feel like it.

Anyway, onto the film.

"Grotesque" is a 2009 exploitation film by Koji Shirashai. Some would call the film "torture porn" (a term I don't particularly like), but it definitely fits into the same family of films like "Hostel", "The Butcher", and the "Guinea Pig" series of films.

The story is quite minimal. A couple who are on their first date are snatched off the street by a man in a van. When they wake up they find they have been ball gagged and shackled up by a complete madman. They are subjected to physical and sexual abuse and forced to look at each other as these atrocities are inflicted on them for no apparent reason.

As the film goes on, it becomes apparent that the antagonist is quite refined. He wears good clothes, listens to classical music, eats fine foods, and is very proficient in certain medical practices. He is obviously a doctor and fairly wealthy to go with it.

As all this nastiness progresses, the antagonist's motives become clear. He wants to be sexually excited. He wants the couple to survive, but only by displaying a true will to live by enduring the most intense physical pain. He also wants to see someone who is truly prepared to risk their life to save someone they love. To achieve this, he gives the boyfriend a choice. Will he be prepared to risk everything to save his girlfriend and succumb to severe physical torture?

Things get even more extreme from there. I wont delve too much into the plot now because I hate spoilers but the film has everything, and never looks away from the violence depicted. It's pretty extreme, so be prepared for that if your not used to these kinds of films. The film also has a few twists and turns to keep you guessing how it's all going to end up which are all quite good.

I live in the UK, where this film was banned outright. What happens when a film gets banned here? I immediately buy an import copy online! I bought the Tokyo Shock uncut DVD/Blu Ray version from the USA and watched it in all it's HD glory! This is what the BBFC thinks of the film:

"Although Grotesque was for the most part considered to be a well made film, there is minimal narrative or character development." 

"The chief pleasure on offer in viewing GROTESQUE appears to be the spectacle of sadism (including sexual sadism) for its own sake. The work has minimal narrative or character development and presents the viewer with little more than an unrelenting and escalating scenario of humiliation, brutality and sadism."

"After careful consideration, it was judged that to issue a certificate to GROTESQUE, even if statutorily confined to adults, would involve risk of harm within the terms of VRA, would be inconsistent with our Guidelines and would be unacceptable to the public. The BBFC considered whether cutting the work might address the issues but concluded that as the unacceptable material featured throughout, cutting was not a viable option and the work was therefore refused a classification."

And finally,

"Grotesque is also markedly different to the Saw and Hostel 'torture porn' series, in that those films contain a more developed narrative and there is therefore more contextual justification for the strongest scenes. It is in fact more similar in tone and treatment to a film called NF713, which consisted of a lengthy torture scenario, mostly of a sexual nature, involving a female and a male doctor character. Cuts to NF713 were not regarded as viable and the work was refused a classification certificate in April 2009."

In my opinion, I disagree with the film being banned. I think that there is enough story in the film, and that the eventual motive for the antagonist gives the film as much merit as the "Hostel" and "Saw" films to get a UK distribution. The intent of the films are the same. And if the chief pleasure of "Grotesque" is the spectacle of sadism, then there are many films out there which have received a British release which I could easily throw into the same basket. To go with the dictionary definition of horror - "an intense feeling of fear, shock, or disgust." - which "Grotesque" has in spades, why do I have to be made to feel like I'm some sort of sick sadist to enjoy these kind of films? I simply watch horror because I enjoy the feeling of being shocked and frightened, but at the same time knowing it's all make believe. Does that make me a psycho? I appreciate the hard work and craftmanship which goes in to the effects and making everything believable. If a horror film doesn't get under my skin or make me feel a certain way, it isn't horror. But it's all subjective, and what isn't scary to me could be terrifying to others.

The director Koji Shiraishi has mostly been a hit or miss director for me. Though he most notably made my favourite J-Horror of all time, "Noroi: The Curse". Another popular film he has directed is "Carved: The Slit Mouthed Woman" ("Kuchisake-onna"), a film about a popular Japanese urban legend. Here is what he had to say about the banning of his film in the UK:

"I was happy. Since there was a reaction I was very happy, But of course if it can't be shown, and it can't be released, I'm a little disappointed, but actually that means the movie I've made has the power to cause a controversy, so I'm happy in that way."

"Of course, on the surface it's a violent movie, since I like that kind of stuff and since I'm making the film, I can see beyond that. Some people will only see violence and not the central parts of the story, it's a natural reaction, I accept that."

If you'd like to read the rest of that interview, it can be read here.

In my opinion, I feel like "Grotesque" is a spiritual sequel to the "Guinea Pig" films. In particular "The Devil's Experiment" and "Flower Of Flesh And Blood". It really just deals with the same subject matter in a more fleshed out and violent way, but it really retains the tone and the gut feeling you get when watching those films. Also the scenes of sexual abuse were the hardest scenes to watch for me, just the humiliation of it all was tough to take.

So, would I recommend this film? Yes I would but I would also take that recommendation with caution. It is VERY violent, completely on a different level to the "Hostel" or "Saw" films. If your easily offended by scenes of a sexual nature it's best to avoid it too. But if you have experience watching films like "Martyrs", "A Serbian Film", the "Guinea Pig" series, and things of that nature, jump right in!

Thanks for taking the time to check out and read my blog. Please feel free to leave comments or criticisms below, I'd love to read other people's opinions on this film.


Michael (Lefty).

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Combat Shock (AKA American Nightmares)

"I go back there every night, without fail, and the events will happen all over again. I know it isn't real, but the terror is real. It's part of me now and I can't escape it. Everything is exactly as I remember it. The same jungle, the same mess, the same victims."

And so begins the 1986 film "Combat Shock" (AKA "American Nightmares"), a 90 minute long kick to the nether regions directed by Buddy Giovinazzo, who also filmed the short promo for "Maniac 2: Mr. Robbie" with Joe Spinell (which you can read about here). The film stars Ricky Giovinazzo, who also composed the excellent soundtrack.

Ricky is a Vietnam vet who spent 2 years as a POW, then has came home to poverty stricken Staten Island and a life of squalor with his wife, and a child mutated by the chemicals he was exposed to during the war.

After a short flashback to the Vietnam war (which was shot in a grassy area of Staten Island), the film begins on the worst day of Ricky's life. Issued with an eviction order, no money, constantly berated by his wife to go and find a job, and to avoid listening to the constant crying of his baby, he leaves to walk the ruined, under-maintained streets.

On his travels he encounters a few of the local undesirables. First off there's a gang who want Ricky to pay back the money he owes, then there's an old friend who has a $100 a day heroin habit, also he has to contend with the prostitutes and pimps in the area. All that and the fact he spends half the day waiting in line at the unemployment office to be told that he has no chance of getting a job without skills.

"Sometimes I feel like I'm oozing out of my body, like I don't belong here, and my mind forces me somewhere else. I can't stop it because it's so real that I believe it. I hear it, I smell it, I can see it."

Add to all the pressure that Ricky is going through, the fact he is going through some really severe post traumatic stress. He has more cracks in his psyche than there are on the streets he walks. All these events are slowly building up inside him, and at some point things are going to boil over.

I first saw "Combat Shock" in a theatre 2010 at a film festival where Buddy G was a guest and introduced this film, and another similarly gritty film of his, "Life Is Hot In Cracktown" (based on a novel which he also wrote). My first impressions made me laugh as I had seen the trailer and was expecting something a lot more fun and cheesy than what I actually saw.

When the film was originally sold to Troma, who cut the film slightly to get an R rating and changed the name, as it's original name was "American Nightmares". This was so they could promote it as an action heavy film like "Rambo", "The Terminator", and "Commando". The film didn't go down well with the target audience, simply because it isn't an action film, it's a bleak insight of a man over the edge. The trailer really is a sight to behold though and hilarious!

If I could compare it to any films, it would probably be a combination of "Taxi Driver" and "Eraserhead", something a lot of other people have described it like. The similarities to "Taxi Driver" are easy to spot. A film about a man going over the edge, a voice-over of what Ricky is thinking, a scene with him talking to a child prostitute, and an equally bloody finale. There are a lot of surreal imagery reminiscent of "Eraserhead", quick multi-angle shots, and that "baby" is unsettlingly familiar.

The baby is very cheaply made and funny to look at, but with the tone of the film it feels right. Very other-worldly and truly a disgusting thing, it get's to you after a while, especially it's strange synth-altered wailing. Apparently Buddy G never actually wanted the baby to ever be shown in the film, but obviously his mind was changed at some point and I'm glad because it does add to the horror.

I can't overestimate how grubby and squalor filled this film is. It feels so filthy you want to pour bleach over your TV and in your eyes. Everything from the dirt stained walls and broken toilet of Ricky's apartment, the rubbish strewn streets, and the spray painted underpasses filled with grime and used needles, it all just adds to the nihilism of the film. And the street scenes were just shot as is, it all adds to the believability of the film. There's something about the way New York was on film in the 70's and 80's, everything was that much grittier back in the day and more realistic, everything is too clean looking now.

Okay I'll admit, the film has dated like most films made around the time, and is really quite cheap, but if you can get past all that then you'll find that it has a good enough main character and decent story. I think it convincingly throws you into another persons private hell. Pretty depressing, sure, but if you like films that challenge you then I think you'll enjoy it. That's what matters, and it's the reason I'd watch this over 1,000 "Rambo" clones..... and what an ending!

"We marched into the village after three days of intense fighting. Our casualty rate was enormous. We were expecting an ambush, but everyone was dead in front of their huts. They had killed themselves, the women and children too. Then we were ordered to pump rounds of ammo into the dead bodies, to scare the VC, and so we did. M16's, pistols, everything. A whole fucking squad just went crazy. Bodies were butchered till they looked like piles of meat. My friends became animals. They began to enjoy it. I knew I had to get out or I'd become one of them, so I started running. They called me a deserter, but what was I deserting? I'd never understood what it was, what it meant, but now it was so clear. You see, they wanted no part of us and took their own way out together. Their wives wouldn't be raped, nor their children tortured and mutilated. They cheated us, oh yes they did. They were the survivors. It was getting clearer all the time. The war is not over. The battlefield may have changed..... but the war is not over."

Thanks for reading.


Apologies. I can't get the theatrical trailer to load here. Instead, you get the serious 25th anniversary version. Sorry!

Monday, 5 August 2013


Well, I haven't written about much for the last few weeks. I was feeling a bit burnt out, but now I'm feeling a bit more enthusiastic about writing again. I eased myself back into the blog with a very enjoyable interview with Dr Bloodand thought that I would get the ball rolling with a Terry Gilliam month. One reason I'm doing this is because I think he is still such an outsider as a director, even though he has made so many memorable films. Another reason is because I want to distance myself a bit from talking about horror. I know the look of my blog is pretty misleading, and I'm thinking of giving the page a completely new look. What do you think about this idea?

Anyway, back to the subject.

"Tideland" (2005) is based on a novel of the same name by Mitch Cullin (I haven't read the book so don't know how similar it is).

Jeliza-Rose (Jodelle Ferland) has a strange family life. Her life mainly consists of giving her methadone and chocolate addicted leg rubs, and shooting up heroin for her drugged up father (Jeff Bridges), whilst living in a fantasy world with her collection of doll heads. After her mother has a methadone overdose and dies, Jeliza-Rose and her father run away to her grandmothers remote farmhouse. Once at the farmhouse, her father decides he wants a hit of heroin. After that, Jeliza-Rose is pretty much left to deal with things on her own, spiralling deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole of her own imagination.

"Daddy's going on vacation"

When I saw this film on dvd, I watched it with the introduction by Terry Gilliam, where the director states that most people will hate the film, and a lot of people won't know what to think about the film. He also states that the story is filmed with a childs innocence, so the best way to watch the film is to throw all notion of adulthood from your mind. Children are very resilient and tend to bounce back when confronted with hardship.

As much as I like the film, once you are an adult it is very hard to see things from a child's perspective. Especially when it deals with some of the frankly disturbing topics which are brought up in this film, and believe me, this film goes into very dark, nightmarish, "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" like levels of disturbing. It is indeed a strange beast, but I have always liked challenging films.

When I picked up "Tideland", it was very much a blind purchase. I was attracted to the artwork. At the most, I was expecting an eccentric fairy tale like story. I never expected the film to be so challenging. Whilst watching, pretty much in the very first scene, Jeliza-Rose shoot up her father with heroin, and my first thought was "Okay, not what I was expecting at all". Once the mother dies and they go to the farmhouse, the film gets a bit more fantastical. But then things take a dramatic turn into darker and darker territory in the last third of the film. Body preservation, and borderline paedophilia (which was the most uncomfortable for me) are just some of the things that happen later on, so if you have issues with this kind of material, this film isn't for you.

Nope. Nothing at all wrong with this image.
I have tried to be vague about the story but warn people who could be potentially offended so that they have fair warning before viewing the film. You have been warned!

I was a massive Monty Python fan as a child. I loved the surrealism and Gilliam's animation was totally mental. Then, the first film I saw after that was "Time Bandits", which I totally loved as a child, especially the anti-Hollywood bad ending (for a child's film at least). But Terry Gilliam has never been a favourite with Hollywood anyway. Reluctant to play by Hollywood's rules usually put's him last in line to direct any big film. In fact, "Tideland" was a British-Canadian independant production. 

Although I stated I was veering away from horror for a few posts, I find David Cronenberg's claim that the film is "A Poetic Horror Film" very apt. If you look at it that way, there definitely are some very surreal horror elements in the film. I find the film very challenging and thought provoking, and I applaud Gilliam for making the film with such integrity and single-mindedness. And I'm glad he doesn't give a damn whether you like the film or not.

Thank you for reading.


Wednesday, 24 July 2013

An Interview With Dr Blood

Dr Blood has been haunting the internet for the best part of 16 years in some way or another, writing no nonsense horror reviews on his website Dr Blood's Video Vault. His method of writing and opinions have earned him as much hate as most people have had hot dinners. Does he care? Not really.

Though he does have many supporters, including myself. I find his honesty quite appealing, compared to a lot of sites I have read where I question the validity of their reviews (I won't point any fingers).

Currently living in America, but hailing from the UK, I find I have some things in common since we're from the same country. Most of the other horror pages I read are from the States, and I think I look at horror from a slightly different angle than most of my American friends.

Dr Blood has very generously allowed me to give him an interview. Here's his thoughts.....

Do you remember your first foray into horror? What turned you over to the dark side? 

It was the Mysterons from Gerry Anderson's "Captain Scarlet" TV series. I remember being absolutely terrified of the voiceover at the start of that programme when I was only 3 or 4 years old. I was always too scared to watch it when it was first shown, so I never even knew what it was about until the reruns in the early 2000's. If you think about it, it's a kids' show with creepy human puppets, which features a hero who dies in every episode and his nemesis who's a reanimated corpse! It's really quite horrific! Alternatively, the first horror movie I ever watched was "Satan's Triangle" (1975), and I pissed the bed afterwards.

What turned me to the dark side was just life in general. The more interactions I had with other people, the more misanthropic I became, but I suppose you really want to know what got me into horror movies?

The simple answer is storytelling, especially when it's a ghost story. I've always been interested in the supernatural, and I have absolutely no explanation for why that is other than how I was made. Maybe it's a product of natural human curiosity about life's mysteries. Maybe there's just something very wrong with me.

When did you decide you wanted to write about horror? Was it the first subject that made sense to write about or did you ever think about doing anything else?

In 1994, I was invited to write movie reviews for a semi-famous vampire fanzine which no longer exists. Even though I only wrote short capsule reviews of two or three sentences for each movie, I did a lot of them over three years. When the magazine ended and the internet came along, I started putting my reviews online as a hobby. My first website was launched in 1997, but technology was different back then, and there wasn't the bandwidth or webspace available to do much. The Microsoft Publisher versions of "Dr Blood's Video Vault" weren't very good, but my slide down the slippery slope had begun.

I always thought it would be cool to be a horror fiction writer like James Herbert, but I didn't have the imagination, talent, or patience for it. The trouble was that I was more of a reader/consumer than a writer/producer when I was younger, and I was lazy with it. The deciding factor was that there were only about half a dozen horror sites in 1997, and I thought I had something better to offer with the reviews I already had stored on my computer. I didn't have really, but like everything, it was a learning process. As I said, I was lazy, and websites were a lot more static than they are now. I don't think the IMDb or Amazon had even started, and there certainly wasn't a British horror site where you could look things up quickly and/or buy videos, and so, eventually, I got caught up in the "e-commerce" game. Through being a Blackstar affiliate, I started to make a small fortune every month from VHS sales, but that didn't last for long. I wasted that money on my own VHS collection, paying hosting fees for my website, and my enormous telephone bill, but I suppose I was a pioneer in a way.

The blog version of my site is a completely different ball game. I went offline completely between 2003 and 2006 for personal reasons (bereavement), and when I rejoined the net, there were all these slickly branded upstarts which I could never compete with. After a couple of years of frustration, I took my old site down and relaunched with Blogger. Now I just write about whatever I want, whenever I want, although it's usually horror of some kind.

Which style of horror film is your favourite, and which would you be glad to see the back of?

Anything supernatural does it for me. Whether it be ghosts, demons, witchcraft, werewolves or vampires, that's horror to me. If there's an all encompassing "style" of horror film then it's probably Hammer--I'm in my comfort zone with Hammer vampires--but as I've got older, I like a lot of Spanish movies now.

I'm not into slashers (or the giallo that preceded them), so I'd be glad to see the back of those. I pretty much hate all the zombies and faux found footage movies too. Oh, and aliens! I despise horror movies about aliens!

You occasionally do a podcast. Is that something you'd like to do more of?

Not really. I was really getting into it about 5 years ago, but then some asshole (I know who!) reported a year's worth of my podcasts because I was swearing on them, and the hosting site's admin took them down. I logged in to make another "show", saw half my stuff gone, and just gave up. Karma's a bitch though, and that audio hosting site doesn't exist anymore. I'm glad they failed, they had too many petty rules anyway.

I don't think much of podcasts now, especially the ones which go on for hours and who think that they've got a "radio show". The truth is, they're just the modern equivalent of someone tape-recording a phone conversation most of the time. Podcasts are best left to people who can't read or write for whatever reason. Audio books are cool. I might make audio books for the blind if there was a financial reward in it for me. Hell, I'd probably make audio books for the deaf if someone paid me to do it!

You also run or help run several other pages on the web. Are there any you'd like to promote at the moment?

The last time I counted it was almost into three figures, but I'm not going to be "That Guy" and list them all. I hate people who do that!

I think "The Horror Cats" deserves a mention because everyone thought it was a genius idea at the time. Unfortunately, it never caught on. "The Horror Cats" even got nominated for a Lammy Award this year but lost out to a site about movie posters. I'm still slightly bitter about that since the category was "Best Movie Element Blog", and out of the five nominees, only "The Horror Cats" and a blog about "Exploding Helicopters" were actual "movie elements". Posters aren't movie elements unless they are physically in a movie, and the winning site was just about bog-standard advertising posters like you find on the side of a cinema. Ah, but what can you do? Only a handful of people voted anyway. So, yeah, "The Horror Cats" or my main blog are the only two sites I want to promote. I've got more blogs and message boards as well, but Facebook killed the latter off. They aren't worth mentioning except for completeness.

We have talked a lot on several sites, particularly Twitter. In all that time, I have never known your identity. Not that I'm bothered at all! Several other bloggers use this technique also. Do you think it's important to the writing to have a bit of anonymity or is there another reason?

I've been using the nom de plume of Dr Blood for so long now that, for all intents and purposes, I am Dr Blood. It's about convenience more than anything else. It's certainly not about anonymity. There are hundreds of people online and in real life who know me by my given name and my pseudonym, but it can get confusing to go by both online if you start doubling them up, e.g. two Facebooks, two Twitter accounts, etc. etc. So I just stick to Dr Blood now, it's easier to remember, and it's a good name for writing about horror, don't you think?

You are known for writing in a very no nonsense fashion. I find it very refreshing, but there are some out there who don't see eye to eye with you a lot of the time. You get some downright abuse but you aren't afraid to give it back! Does this ever send you into dismay, or does it make you stronger as a writer?

Thanks for noticing and enjoying. You can blame my style (for what it's worth) on years of trolling chat rooms when they were popular. AOL and iChat hated me! I've been around for such a long time that there's nothing that anyone can say to me which I haven't already spitefully said to someone else, in most cases before the most recent person saying it to me was even born. It doesn't bother me since I'm never going to meet any of these people in real life. If someone gets too out of line, I can just delete him or her from my life with a click. The only thing that's annoying is when cliques on message boards gang up to use the flagging systems to silence me, It just shows that they've lost the argument. I've been banned from more message boards than most people ever belong to, but the friends I've made on them beforehand have stayed with me.

I wish I could say that the arguments have made me a better writer, but nothing makes me stronger or weaker as a writer other than how many Monster energy drinks I've consumed. All my grammatical skills go out the window when I'm tired, and I don't have many grammatical skills to begin with. I'm always second-guessing myself, and I rarely use any "ten dollar" multisyllabic words because I simply don't know them, but I'm always honest and I think people like that.

This is a belief that we both share. Horror is dead. Why do you think this?

Two years ago, I wrote "12 Reasons Why Horror Has Died" as my definitive answer on the subject. For those who aren't familiar with that viral post, basically, horror is dead because of a mixture of cheap technology and bad education. In other words, horror is dead because of lazy filmmakers with entitlement issues who think it's easy to make a horror movie and rake in the profits. Unfortunately for them and their audience, what used to work on rare occasions has perpetuated a slew of unimaginative shit which put everyone off taking the genre seriously or having the desire to make anything more than mediocre. Now all we have left is clones, remakes, sequels, PG-13 horrors designed to turn the movie theatres into expensive daycare centres for cellphone-wielding tweenagers with ADHD, and the hobby horror movies which invariably look like YouTube videos. I'm sure that I'm not the only one who doesn't find horror entertaining anymore, thus, even if the horror genre isn't truly dead, it might as well be for those who used to love it when it was good.

Have there been any films that you have seen recently that give you a glimmer of hope for the future of horror?

Nope, I can barely get through any of them without wanting to kick the TV screen in.

What direction do you think would be good for horror to take and what would you like to see more more of?

I think it should just stop. We've already got over 100 years of horror movies to go through and every possible permutation of every story has already been told hundreds of times over. Horror isn't even about scares and the dictionary definition anymore, the industry just uses the term to quantify something as a "genre" when the qualities of the product are usually otherwise.

If horror was to make a comeback, it would have to ditch all the PG-13 and comedy crap, get back to basics with the drama, and then really up the ante with the realism and the gore. The bar for shocking the audience was raised so high by "A Serbian Film" that it's now impossible to go that route without actually making a real snuff movie. As that can't be done outside of Live Leak, if you want  good fictional horror again, somebody will have to make something genuinely scary and aim it directly at intelligent adults rather than stupid teenagers.

You also have a dislike for indie horror. A lot of people get angry when you bring this up. I know you don't even constitute any of these films as indie. Can you clarify what it is that you dislike about them?

There's a big difference between a professional independent studio and Joe Bloggs down the road who just got a camcorder for Christmas. Although, technically, both can be labelled as "indie filmmakers", you can bet a pound to a pinch of shit that Mr. Christmas camera's efforts will be nothing but total arse.

In the studio situation, there are trained professionals, decent equipment, budgets, and quality control. Although it's not always the case, this at least helps to deliver a reasonably worthwhile product. Studios need all these things in place because they have investors to pay back, and if their product isn't good, it's the end of them as a business. That's why it's called "show business".

Joe Bloggs, on the other hand, can slap his beer-buddies hooning it up as zombies with his mum's makeup in the back garden onto a DVD-R and sell his crap for the same price as a studio movie knowing full well that it's not worth a penny. There's something very wrong with that and on so many levels. For anyone who has ever rented one of these camcorder movies instead of a real film from a video store, it reeks of fraud for one thing.

Another thing that seems to be happening a lot is people trying to fund their films via crowd funding websites. What's your views on this?

You can dress it up in all the fancy terms you like, but they're nothing but beggars. "Crowd funding", my arse! I suppose the dirty, alcoholic guy who we think lives in a cardboard box under the bridge is "crowd funding" when he sits in the town centre with his emaciated greyhound and asks, "Got any spare change, guvnor?" These lazy bastards who won't work to earn the money for their projects are exactly the same. Unless they are called Zach Braff, they probably don't all get to change their clothes and drive home in a Mercedes after their day in town, but they are still pulling the wool over people's eyes in other ways. Seriously, people who give to these things are stupid! If you want to make a film, treat it as a business. Spend a few years learning to be a filmmaker, draw up a business plan, hit a few banks, ask for investors who will, of course, want to see a return on their money, and stop trying to play filmmaker for a day with no effort, no responsibility and free money! Ninety percent of the time, these e-beggars never even try to make a film and just take the money and run. The other ten percent make something which looks like they drank the money that they were given before hiring Joe Bloggs with his Christmas camera. They'll never see any of my money ever.

What are your views on the horror community as it stands today? What are the good parts and what do you think is wrong with it?

I think what's left of the "horror community" is fractured beyond repair. It's full of negativity, poseurs and opportunists. Mind you, I don't believe that there ever was a "horror community" outside of the small ones which temporarily form around the various conventions. Horror has always been cliquey just like everything else in the world, but the American horror convention crowds are the best examples of the worst kind of horror fan. If your face doesn't fit or you don't have the right t-shirt, or even if your self harming ink isn't of the same icon that everyone likes, they'll shun you.

Online is a slightly different story as everyone seems to know everyone else and will mostly tolerate each other, which is a good thing, but there's always drama. Most of the trouble is caused by jealousy. Either somebody is jealous of someone else's collection of little dollies, how many Blu-rays they own, if their blog gets more pageviews, or something petty like that. Some of the drama is gender based, but that's more joking around than anything else. The "women in horror" hypocrites lack any sense of humour so they turn themselves into easy trollbait. It's hilarious watching them play the victim card, especially when the whiteknighting neckbeards rise out of their parents' basement to defend them!

We all know that nobody in the horror industry earns a lot of (or any) money out of it, so in the bottom ranks of fandom and writing, it's a level playing field. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing though. There are no "stars" in horror even if there are many people who think they should be and behave as if they are, but the money issue has a lot wrong with it. The backlash against Lianne Spiderbaby's plagiarism recently highlighted the seething, hypocritical and hypercritical mass which forms the core of the horror community. It's hard to say what the long term result of any of that will be, but human nature is what's really wrong with the horror community, and that will never change.

Many thanks again to Dr Blood for his time and very clear and concise answers. If you want to hear any more of his musing, you can follow him on his Twitter profile or at his blog Dr Blood's Video Vault.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, 26 April 2013

Dead By Dawn Festival Edinburgh 2013 - Day 1

Well, today was the first day of the Dead By Dawn horror film festival in the Scottish capital of Edinburgh. The first and only film of the day, "The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh", wasn't on till 11.30pm, so I pretty much had the day to myself.

I thought it would basically be a good idea to write some brief posts on the blog about each day as well as posting updates on my social media pages throughout the course of the day.

Today as there wasn't much going on, me and my fellow enthusiast Craig went and enjoyed a few of the local pubs (I'm actually a bit drunk writing this), then just barely made it to the first screening.

I have said several times on my social media pages (I don't talk about a lot of horror here) that I believe that horror is pretty much dead. I have been to a few Dead By Dawn festivals in the past and seen a decent share of good films (and bad), so I'm really hoping that I find a few diamonds in the rough over the weekend. "The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh" wasn't exactly the best start.

The first film from horror magazine publisher "Rue Morgue", was a bit of a mixed bag. Starring Aaron Poole as "Leon" and featuring the voice over of Vanessa Redgrave as "Rosalind", Leon's dead mother. 

"Leon, an antiques collector, inherits a house that belonged to his mother, a member of a mysterious cult that worshipped angels - a cult that may have indirectly led to her death."

Kind of like a classic haunted house movie, except I found the house to be a bit too busy that it looked like a cliche. Way too much random crap lying about the house to try and convey how creepy the building is. Combine this with a crappy CGI monster in some parts (in which the film steals some ideas from some of the better creepypasta's out there), and an ending that completely went over my head. Fair enough, the beer probably had something to do with that, but I was honestly a bit lost. The film felt like it ended too early.

Some of the film worked though. For one, it looked great. The director must have some modicum of talent when it comes to film making. Also Vanessa Redgrave's voice over was pretty well done and made for some of the best parts of the film.

All in all I had a good day. I went out and had a few drinks and a laugh. Maybe not a fantastic film but as I said, in my eyes horror is dead. I hope there's a film here this weekend that proves me wrong to a degree!

There's a lot of films on over the course of the weekend. I probably won't have the time to write a lot on each of them as each day finishes quite late, but keep an eye on my social network pages if you want to see some more updates on the festival.

Thanks for reading.


Sunday, 14 April 2013

The Killing of America

I have quite literally finished watching the documentary "The Killing of America", a film documenting America's history of violence from the 50's until the 80's.

Made in 1982 by director Sheldon Renan, and written by Chieko and Leonard Schrader (sister-in-law and brother of Hollywood writer and director Paul Schrader respectively), this film has a few similarities to the film "Orozco The Embalmer" that I have written about. It was produced for release in the Japanese market (where it was called "Violence U.S.A), and has never been released or ever been made available in the USA (though can be found easily enough in other markets or online).

The documentary covers many different subjects from race riots in the 50's, assassinations, snipers, serial killers, to everyday difficulties that are faced by various police departments. It is unflinching in showing you the dark side of America at that time.

Like "Orozco", this film has been labelled "mondo" and attracted the wrong kind of attention by certain genre fans (I blame this on the distributors). You find with all mondo films, they were made for exploitation purposes, and as such contain many staged scenes of cruelty, be it animal cruelty or in the case of  films like "Africa Addio", accusations of actual staged executions. All for the shock value. These "shockumentaries" hold no merit. Films like "Faces Of Death", or "Banned From Television" parade around pretending to be documentaries, but are only made to exploit and are pretty worthless money making schemes.

I never found "The Killing of America" to be made for shock. The same as I disagreed that "Orozco The Embalmer" was purposely made for the same reasons. Both documentaries show things as they are in a very matter of fact way. "The Killing of America" never seems preachy. It simply states facts and presents examples of these facts by showing them on screen in front of your eyes.

I'm not American so I've been able to watch the film in an impartial way. I know there was and is more to America than this documentary shows, but as this documentary shows there has always been an ugly side to life, and that is true of any country to this day, not just America.

You can watch the full film below. A warning that the film contains many scenes of explicit violence. If you are sensitive to this do not watch!