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!

Saturday, 13 April 2013

HFA REview No. 7 - 28 Weeks Later

A review I did for the site Horror Fans Asylum Reviews.

Welcome all, to another weekly film review written from my cold dwellings in the Asylum! My name is Michael and I can also be found at my Left Field Films blog and at my Facebook page.

Last week I talked about “28 Days Later”, which was a more than competent take on the outbreak/zombie genre. Now it’s the turn of the sequel, “28 Weeks Later”, to get my unwanted attention.

“28 Weeks Later” (2007) was directed by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo and shows the aftermath of the viral outbreak from the original.

The film begins rather well. Don (Robert Carlyle) and Alice (Catherine McCormack) are laying low with a few other survivors in a countryside cottage in the hope that the outbreak will pass them by. Everything seems to be working fine until a child survivor outside the cottage starts banging on the door, screaming for help. Unsure of what to do, they finally let the boy in. Unsurprisingly, the outside of the cottage becomes surrounded by the infected and they quickly manage to overrun the house. While Don and Alice try to escape, one of the infected manages to separate them and leaves Don with a choice….. try and save his wife and risk being infected in the process or just escape and leave his wife as bait. Astonishingly he does the latter and leaves his wife to the wolves, whilst he escapes the cottage and gets away on a motorboat!

Fast forward 28 weeks later, and London has become a militarised zone. Most of the infected have died of starvation, and the US military has managed to make a small part of the city into a “safe zone”, where they are in the early stages of repopulation and are bringing back refugees to live.
Don’s two children Tammy (Imogen Poots), and her younger brother Andy (Mackintosh Muggleton), have been brought back to London and reunite with their dad. It seems that Don is now the “caretaker” of the facility (which seems to give him access to even high security rooms. Confusing.)
Doyle (Jeremy Renner) is one of the army personnel who keeps watch on the rooftops with his sniper rifle. He see’s Tammy and Andy through his scope, escaping from the safe zone and heading into the main city. They have came up with the fantastic idea of going back to their old house for some insane reason.

While at the house, they find their mother (gasp) who is infected, but is able to just barely keep her rage at bay. She is taken to a maximum security medical wing where they conduct a few tests and find that she has a rare genetic trait (she also has different coloured pupils, a trait she shares with her son Andy) that helps her withstand the virus. The army doctor Scarlet (Rose Byrne), thinks the cure to the virus is in the mother and her son’s blood.

Before she has time to take action though, Don has gotten wind that his wife is still alive and decides to go see her. She is obviously still pissed at his betrayal at the beginning of the film, so she bites him. He becomes infected with rage and kills her then goes on to quickly spread the infection throughout the complex.

The virus is so out of control the military decide to kill all the civilians to avoid another outbreak. Scarlet knows Andy is the key to stopping everything but no one seems to listen to her, apart from the sniper Doyle, who decides to protect Andy and Scarlet until he can get them safely evacuated out of Britain and to a proper medical site. It won’t prove an easy task as they have both the infected and the military on their backs!

I really enjoyed the original film “28 Days Later”, but I’m not too sure about this film. It has two great actors in it. Robert Carlyle (who was great at the beginning of the film but then ends up being wasted), and Jeremy Renner (who was pretty much unknown then but has went on to become a big star).

The beginning of the film is fantastic and really has the same feeling as the original. It’s quite a brief opening, but you do get the feeling that these survivors have bonded and you quickly like them. The rest of the film is typical over the top crap. Switch your brain off and eat popcorn kind of nonsense, which is a shame because it had the potential to be really good.

The first film was great because it was taken to a very human level. The outbreak became more of a background story and it became a tale about a group of survivors with more to worry about than just the infected. “28 Weeks Later” is more like some Yank in a fancy office saying “Forget all that relationship and story crap! People just want to see zombies and blood!”.

And that is pretty much what you get, a lot of different situations in which zombies get killed in more imaginative ways. In another kind of film, well OK fair enough. But as a sequel to “28 Days Later”, a more serious and thought provoking film, it’s just lunacy. I think the makers of this film should be sent to the Asylum!

Also the film feels like it was made for a sequel. Money was obviously on everyone’s mind while making this film. They knew they would make a lot of money off the back of the original and they were hoping to make another film after this one! Thankfully that hasn’t happened yet.

I give this 2 needles out of 5! (The extra needle is for the opening of the film)

Thanks everyone for reading, please feel free to leave a comment below either good or bad, it’s nice to get some feedback so I can improve the reviews! I hope to see you next week if the Head Doctor let’s me out of solitary confinement long enough!

Also Happy Halloween everyone! :)


HFA Review No. 6 - 28 Days Later

This is a review I did for the site Horror Fans Asylum Reviews.

Hello once again my fellow Inmates, and welcome back into the bowels of the Asylum. I hope your stay isn’t too uncomfortable. This week I wasn’t allowed to leave the Asylum due to an unfortunate accident with one of the Inmates, and I have been locked in my room with plentiful supplies of Candy courtesy of the Head Doctor! I was allowed access to a TV to watch an oldie, “28 Days Later”.

“28 Days Later” (2002), was directed by Danny Boyle, and was written by Alex Garland (who has recently written the screenplay for the awesome “Dredd 3D” movie). The film stars Cillian Murphy in the lead role.

The film begins with animal rights activists breaking into a lab to rescue chimps that are being used for experiments. A lab technician warns the activist’s not to release the animals as they have been infected with a highly contagious rage virus. Typically, the activist’s don’t listen and soon regret their actions.

Fast forward 28 days later to a hospital, where a man has woken from a coma. Confused, he takes a look around to find the place deserted. When he leaves the hospital, he finds out that the entire city of London is literally a ghost town. As he explores the city, he comes across a church which he soon finds out is full of infected humans.

After escaping and coming into contact with other survivors, they go on a road trip across Britain to reach a safe outpost, the location of which is being broadcast on the car radio.

When they reach their destination, they find a military base where the officer in charge is none other than Christopher Eccleston (Doctor Who). It is at this supposed “safe zone”, that they find that there are more dangerous things in the world than the infected.

Back in 2002 when this film was released, zombie film releases (especially in cinemas) were few and far between. This and another couple of good zombie releases such as “Shawn Of The Dead” and the pretty good remake of “Dawn Of The Dead” changed that. Now the zombie genre is too over saturated with straight to DVD crap, and even George A. Romero has forgotten how to make a good zombie film (come on, admit it!).

But, as tired a formula as it is, zombie films when made right can be very good. What all the great ones have in common is that the zombies become part of the background story and it begins to focus on human relationships. The story for “28 Days Later” isn’t going to win an Oscar, but to me the writer Alex Garland always keeps things grounded in reality and more focused on how the survivors interact with each other and ultimately, prove to be more dangerous to each other than the infected screaming for their blood.

Another thing this film basically started, was running zombies. Gone are the slow paced, shuffling zombies. Instead we get infected people who fire on all cylinders and are very fast, making the idea that a whole country can get overrun all the more realistic. 2004′s “Dawn Of The Dead” repeats this idea, and it seemed to work for that too.

Well suffice to say, I really like this film. It won’t win awards for originality, but the acting is excellent, it can be very brutal at parts, it is quite atmospheric (the scenes with the empty London streets are fantastic), and the story has a realism which few zombie films match (I know they’re not zombies, but infected. But for the sake of argument I’ve decided to put this in the zombie genre haha!).

I give this film 4 needles out of 5! (Finally a good review!)

If you like this sort of film, other films to recommend are “The Omega Man”, “The Last Man On Earth”, and “Day Of The Triffids” (1970′s British TV show which incidentally, Danny Boyle found inspiration from for his film).

I hope you enjoyed your stay at the Asylum, remember just keep running and don’t look back when you leave! ;)

HFA Review No. 5 - The Raven

A review I did for the site Horror Fans Asylum Reviews.

Hello everyone. Wednesday is now upon us once again, the one day when I’m let out of the Asylum to watch another horrifying film. This week It’s “The Raven”. Here’s hoping It’s horrifying enough to sate my blood lust for another week or else I could be turning on the Inmates soon. When I’m not here, I can be found bouncing off the walls at my other page, Left Field Films!

“The Raven” (2012), is directed by James McTeigue and stars John Cusack in the lead role as Edgar Allen Poe.

If you don’t already know, Poe’s death is till shrouded in mystery. He was found looking shabby and delirious on the streets of Baltimore. He was taken to hospital and shortly afterwards, died. His final word’s were, “Lord, help my poor soul”.

There is no reliable evidence to explain what he did in his final days. “The Raven” uses this premise to weave a murder mystery into Poe’s final days.

Poe is broke, and hasn’t written a good story in a while. He is an egotistical drunk who has a habit of pissing off most people he comes across except a young socialite, who seems to be quite taken with him (her father doesn’t exactly approve of this).

Meanwhile, a serial killer is killing people quite elaborately (and unrealistically), using key death’s from Poe’s previous works. The police point the finger at him, but it soon becomes clear It’s another person’s handywork and Poe is dragged into solving the mystery. He has no choice really, the killer wants to help Poe create his literary masterpiece by forcing him to write about his pursuit of the murderer, which is to be serialised and printed in each days newspaper. If he fails to do this, the killer will kill his socialite girlfriend (who he has kidnapped and hidden in a secret place).

So begins a game of cat and mouse with Poe always trying to guess the killer’s next move. I’ll leave the story there so I don’t spoil it.

This movie is pretty ridiculous. I’m a fan of Cusack from his earlier work, but his movie choices these past couple of years have been preposterous. The idea that Poe went from writer, to detective in his final days, is laughable. Every death scene gets more ridiculously elaborate as the film goes on.
This film is switch off your brain, popcorn movie crap. I saw this film a good while back, but trying to remember exacly what happens in it eludes me. It is that forgettable.

I’m not even sure why anyone would want to make a film like this. Probably to fill the gap in the horror market for elaborately staged deaths, since the “Saw” franchise is now over (for now).
Cusack plays his part like he’s pretending to be Nicolas Cage (wierd haircut and all), who is pretending to be Poe. Totally out of character for an actor that good.

I give this film 1 needle out of 5.

Sorry to everyone who likes this film, It’s just not my bag I’m afraid.

I hope to see you all next week. It’s now time to get some candy from the Head Doctor! ;)

HFA Review No. 4 - Sinister

A review I did for the site Horror Fans Asylum Reviews.

Hello everyone and welcome once again to Horror Fans Asylum Reviews. I am the orderly at the Asylum, and any new Inmates shall be sent to the ROOM to be processed by the diabolical Head Doctor!

My name is Michael and I am also the appointed movie reviewer for the site. My gibbering can also be heard at Left Field Films or at my Facebook page!

This weeks review is on “Sinister” (2012), directed by Scott Derrickson (The Exorcism Of Emily Rose).

Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke) is a true crime writer who is trying to recapture the success of a previous book he had written called “Kentucky Blood”, a book that helped solve a crime and highlight discrepancies in the police department. The books he has written since then have been flops, and put people in the public at risk (which has made him even more unpopular with the police).
He moves into a house in a small town to write his new book based on the tragic murder of a family by hanging, and the disappearance of the daughter of that family. The local police chief makes it clear he isn’t welcome in the community and will not receive any help from the police for his new book. He also says that moving into THAT particular house is in very bad taste.

The thing is, he has moved into the home of the murdered family, and has failed to make this little detail known to his wife Tracy (Juliet Rylance), his son Trevor (Michael Hall D’Addario), and his daughter Ashley (Clare Foley).

While moving boxes into the attic, he finds a lone box in the centre of the room. He opens the box to find some Super 8 film reels which look like home movies, and a projector to play them.
He watches one of the reels and finds out it is actual murder footage of the family that used to live there. The film reels date way back to the 60′s and all show the murders of various families in different locations. Obviously they are all related, though he doesn’t know how?
While looking closely at the footage, a low quality image of a face  and a symbol seems to a be in all the films.

That’s where I’ll stop with the story. I hate spoilers!

I was looking forward to watching this due to hearing a lot of good things about it. I was slightly disappointed.

The film is an interesting take on conventional filming techniques to tell the main story, and convincing found footage for the home movie style murder scenes which can be genuinely creepy.
The problem for me is the jump scares that make up a lot of the film. Most of the time I find this to be a cheap trick that only works once doesn’t live up to repeated viewing. The film didn’t need this as the actors are good enough in their somewhat generic roles, the music is very well done and is effective at cranking up the tension, and the whole movie seeps with dread. The jump scares really did cheapen the film and made it more typically Hollywood, as if you need to be instructed to be scared.

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes “Sinister” is a genuinely creepy film at times, I think most people will like it. There are plenty of scenes of people walking around dark hallways and rooms and you never know what’s going to happen. And the film feels like it goes into “The Shining” territory at times.

I think that possibly I’ve become a bit weary and cynical of recent horror. Hollywood horror is too safe for my liking, there isn’t anything particularly horrifying these days. That’s why I usually go for the older stuff.

That being said, in a nutshell, the acting is good though the characters are generic, the film has good atmosphere but relies on too much jump scares, the plot is somewhat original at least, but there is something missing.

I’ll give this film 3 needles out of 5.

Thank you all for spending time in the Asylum. Remember, once you’re an Inmate, you can never leave mwahahahahaha!!!

HFA Review No. 3 - Resident Evil: Retribution

A review I did for the site Horror Fans Asylum Reviews.

Hello everyone and welcome to the Horror Fans Asylum Reviews website. If you have unwittingly stumbled into the Asylum it is now too late for you, the doors are already locked! I have once again been let out of the Asylum for a couple of hours to go and see another horror film which I must mull over for this weeks review. For the uninitiated, my name is Michael and if you wish to hear any more incoherent rambling from me, you can usually find me at my Left Field Films blog. Or alternatively, at my Facebook page.

“Resident Evil: Retribution” (2012) was written and directed by Paul W.S. Anderson. Milla Jovovich continues her role as “Alice”, who wakes up to find herself in the Umbrella Corporation’s main testing facility situated under frozen water in Russia.

Well, this isn’t exactly where the film starts.

The film begins on a boat where Alice is in the middle of a gun battle involving Umbrella soldiers and helicopters. She jumps off the boat to avoid an explosion and suddenly wakes up in a bed. She seems to be living in suburbia where she has a husband (Oded Fehr, who was the character “Carlos” in earlier films) and a daughter called Becky (Aryana Engineer). Suddenly they are attacked by zombies who kill the husband, but Alice and Becky manage to make it out of the house. The street is in chaos, reminiscent of a scene at the beginning of 2004′s “Dawn of the Dead”. They are saved by a passing woman in a car (Michelle Rodriguez, who also starred in a previous film as the character “Rain”), but unfortunately while they are making their escape, the car is hit by a truck.

This is when Alice actually wakes up in the Umbrella lab. She is being detained in a holding cell where she is being interrogated by a brainwashed Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory), and every time she doesn’t answer she is tortured by a loud, piercing noise. Someone hacks into Umbrella’s security and shuts it down, allowing Alice to escape from her cell. The guards and Jill seem to shut down at this point as if they are linked to the system as well.

She makes it out of a door where she suddenly finds herself in the streets of a deserted Tokyo, but there are still cars around and the lights are even still flashing on the police cars. It starts raining and people come out of nowhere. A zombie in the crowd bites a passer by and the infection quickly spreads to other people, forcing Alice to go back into the Umbrella labs.

After killing lots of zombies, she makes it to the main security room where she finds some guns and bumps into an old acquaintance and enemy Ada Wong (Bingbing Li). She tells Alice she no longer works for Umbrella but is now helping Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts).

Wesker appears on a TV monitor and asks for Alice’s help. There is apparently something else happening that is more threatening than the Umbrella Corporation. He then goes on to tell her that she is in a  giant testing facility where Umbrella have recreated key cities around the world that are only a few square miles in size. They populate these areas with clones and can test any situation possible in the case of a T-Virus outbreak.

No one has ever escaped this facility which is now run by the Red Queen (the computer program from the first film), and it will stop at nothing to hinder Alice’s escape. Also hot on her tail is Jill Valentine and a team of bad ass clones of people from other movies (Michelle Rodriguez as well as others). So Wesker sends a crack squad to assist her, who are mostly recognisable from the games. The most recognisable are Leon S. Kennedy and Barry Burton (pretty much instantly recognisable really).

What follows is plenty of over the top action, each city they pass through is just another good excuse to throw in plenty of baddies that look exactly the same as they do in the games. And Alice uncovers some secrets about herself in the process.

As usual I have kept out a lot of the plot so not to spoil too much of the film for you.

Milla Jovovich gives you a brief summary of what has went on in the films story wise so you can try and make sense of the whole thing. I really still don’t have a clue exactly what’s going on, the plot is just plain incomprehensible. I have seen every Resident Evil film but I really don’t think I can tell you what’s going on (the same goes for the games as well), all I can remember is certain action scenes from each film in the series. Though the main reason I kind of enjoy these films is because you can basically go into auto pilot and just enjoy the action, and I can assure you there’s a LOT of action!
Another niggle is that the characters look too much like they do in the games. Ada Wong spends all the film jumping around in a dress, Leon looks like he just walked out of Resident Evil 4, and Barry has just stepped out of the original game. While I applaud the attention to detail on that part, the characters look like people going to a fancy dress party or a convention. It just looked a bit silly and out of place.

I liked the premise of them being in the main testing facility. It was a good excuse to throw in as many monsters as they could from the games.

I was a bit hesitant to review this film as it is more of an action movie, but hey, it has zombies and other creatures in it though it isn’t exactly scary (for those reasons anyway). I’ve always enjoyed the films for what they are, and I just switch my brain off and go along for the ride. This was actually one of the better sequels.

I give this film 3 needles out of 5.

Thanks to everyone for reading. I hope to see you in the Asylum for the foreseeable future! Mwahahahaha!


HFA Review No. 2 - The Possession

A review I did for Horror Fans Asylum Reviews.

Hello, all you lost souls who have unfortunately found yourself locked in the confines of the Asylum! The powers that be have dragged me kicking and screaming from my room and appointed me the daunting task of being their resident horror film reviewer. My name is Michael, and when I’m not writing on this page you can find me at my demented film blog, Left Field Films!

This week the film I’m reviewing is “The Possession” (2012), directed by Ole Bornedal. The film was produced by none other than “Evil Dead” creators, Sam Raimi and Robert Tapert.

Clyde (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), a college basketball coach, has recently divorced from his wife Stephanie (Kyra Sedgwick). They have two children, the youngest being Em (Natasha Calis), and Hannah (Madison Davenport). Clyde gets the children over the weekends and takes them to his new house which is in the middle of a redevelopment site where the rest of the houses are still being built, so the area has no other residents.

When taking the children back home, he stops by a house to look at their garage sale. Em gets attracted to a peculiar box with strange carvings on it and no visible way for it to be opened. Clyde buys it for her and after failing to open it for himself, comes to the conclusion that the box wasn’t made to be opened.

At night while Em is trying to sleep, she hears a voice from the box asking for it to be opened. She opens the box with relative ease and finds inside the box various old jars and trinkets which she begins to play around with.

The next day Em complains of not feeling herself, and everyone comes to the conclusion that she has been affected by her parents divorce. Over time she starts acting even more strangely and becoming more isolated and unsociable. Clyde notices that all she seems to want to talk about is the box, always wondering if the box is OK.

There are various incidences which happen throughout the film that I don’t want to spoil for you, but eventually people notice that the box seems to be to be the root of all her psychological problems. When separated from the box, Em becomes extremely violent.

Clyde decides to take the box to a professor at the college, who tells  him that what he has is called a Jewish “Dybbuk” box, which is usually used to hold a demon or spirit.

Clyde takes the “Dybbuk” box to a Jewish community where the Rabbi’s investigate the box, identifying the demon in question as “Abizu”, that is known as the “taker of children”. A Jew named Tzadok agrees to come along with Clyde and participate in a ritual to force the demon back into the box before it eventually kills Em.

I have tried to give you as much of the story as I can without giving away any major surprises, I hate to spoil films for people who haven’s seen them yet!

I thought the film was OK I suppose. I like Jeffrey Dean Morgan in many things that he does and he was pretty decent here too. Kyra Sedgwick was also good as the distraught mother and showed a good range of emotion but Natasha Calis as “Em”, obviously had the whole film riding on her back and she played a more than satisfactory portrayal of a child possessed.

What let’s the film down is some bad CGI, and a standard, predictable Hollywood layout for a film that had a good bit of potential. The story is relatively original, though the scares are pretty much stolen from some better films, primarily “The Exorcist”. That’s not to say that the film doesn’t have some tricks up it’s sleeve, some parts did catch me off guard.

The film is apparently based on a “true” story. As far as I know the only true thing about it was a passing remark on an American news channel about a haunted box on sale from eBay.
I personally thought the film was mediocre, but I can see people out there who would like the film. As I said, there is some decent acting and some of the scares are OK, and it did pass a couple of hours easily enough. Unfortunately, when placed beside other more superior films on the subject of possession, this film falls short of the mark.

I’ll have to give this film 2 needles out of 5!

Thanks for reading the review, and please avoid the escaped inmates while leaving the building!

Michael Skilling.

HFA Review No. 1 - Silent Hill

A review for Silent Hill I did for Horror Fans Asylum Reviews.

Silent Hill
Review by Michael Skilling
Hello everyone and welcome to the Horror Fans Asylum Reviews website! This is my first review for this page, but you can feel free to check out my film blog Left Field Films if you enjoy it!
“Silent Hill” is a 2006 film, directed by Christophe Gans (Brotherhood Of The Wolf), and is based on the popular video of the same name.
Parents Rose (Radha Mitchell) and Christopher Da Silva (Sean Bean) are worried about their adopted daughter Sharon’s (Jodelle Ferland) continuous sleep walking and constant mentioning of the town called Silent Hill. Rose thinks that taking her daughter to Silent Hill could end her troubles once and for all. Her husband on the other hand, thinks that a good psychiatrist and some medication are the order of the day.
Rose decides to take off without consulting Christopher, but finding Silent Hill proves difficult. It seems Silent hill is a blocked off ghost town due to an underground coal fire which is still burning and producing noxious fumes. At a gas station, Rose finds that her husband has cancelled her credit card and she get’s pretty agitated. A policewoman (Laurie Holden) notices this and decides to follow Rose, and a high speed chase ensues.
As per usual with most horror film car chases, the car crashes and Rose is knocked unconscious. She wakes to find that her daughter is missing, and that she is in the empty town of Silent Hill with it’s ghostly fog and falling ash. After a while trying to find her daughter, an air raid siren ominously sounds and the town is plunged into darkness and the surroundings seem to tear away, exposing a rusty, industrial like underbelly full of wire mesh fencing and barbed wire.
As Rose tries to navigate her way through these new surroundings, she thinks that she see’s her daughter and gives chase. Suddenly she is surrounded by hideous child like creatures with sharp claws and glowing eyes. As she begins to get overpowered by the creatures, they seem to evaporate away and everything becomes grey again.
Once again, Rose resumes her search for her daughter. She makes a phone call to her husband saying that she needs his help. Afterwards, the policewoman finds her and arrests her, and tries to lead her out of town only to find that the road has vanished. They see a creature in the mist and it sprays some sort of acid at the policewoman who then shoots and kills it.
I try not to spoil movies too much, but what follows is 2 hours of bedlam. Rose travels through an abandoned school, museum, and other areas while tackling horrific giant flesh eating bugs, faceless nurses, crazed religious cults, and the infamous and mysterious “Pyramid Head”,  who all come out of the darkness once the siren sounds. All of these creatures can be found in the video game too.
Simultaneous to these events, husband Christopher goes into Silent Hill with the local police to try and find Rose. After failing to find her he tries to piece together the mystery of their disappearance and digs a bit too deep for the local authorities liking.
I watched the film shortly after it had just came out and never gave the film much thought afterwards. Watching it again, I’m really surprised at how close it comes to replicating the game. The music is spot on, as are the creature designs, and the set design is fantastic. The foggy and ash laden town of Silent Hill is staggeringly beautiful and dream like, while the dark side of the town is truly the stuff of nightmares and is quite unsettling. The CGI is a lot more successful looking than even a lot of films coming out today and it blends seamlessly with it’s surroundings.
The film is quite long, probably due to all the slow lingering shots that built up the atmosphere of the first half of the film. The second half seems slightly rushed story wise. Not that it’s a particularly bad story, just that too much get’s crammed in during the film’s last half hour when it could have been slowly placed in at better intervals throughout the film.
I would say that this is one of the more successful video game adaptations out there. It manages to retain the games look and ambiguity, while throwing in a somewhat legible storyline that is slightly rushed but acceptable. The acting is pretty good though Sean Bean’s part in the film was a bit weak. I would recommend this film, especially to fans of the game (though if that were the case, I’m sure you’ve seen it already). But there is enough dark imagery which is reminiscent of Clive Barker’s “Hellraiser”, and some nice set pieces, to keep horror fans entertained even for it’s length.
There is a sequel due out for October called “Silent Hill: Revelation 3D”. This film also stars Radha Mitchell and Sean Bean, and after re-watching “Silent Hill”, I am curious and will probably go to the cinema to watch it. No doubt you’ll see a review of the film by your’s truly.
I’ll give this film 3 needles out of 5!
Thank you for visiting Horror Fans Asylum Reviews, hopefully you’ll wish to remain an inmate for the foreseeable future!

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Orozco The Embalmer

"This is a documentary about the monotonously ever repeating abnormal daily life of an old embalmer who is the busiest in the world, working in the most dangerous area in Colombia, one of the most dangerous countries in the world, which has been gnawed away and ruled by violence for many years. It's too simple and too minimal. In the area of El Cartucho there's nothing but corpses. Nothing exists there but a wreck of violence and prayer. I intend to depict the love and dignity still left in human beings after being robbed of everything."

-Tsurisaki Kiyotaka

Thus begins the story of "Orozco The Embalmer". A 2001 warts and all documentary filmed by Tsurisaki Kiyotaka, a Japanese photographer who has travelled to some of the most unstable countries in the world taking photographs of the dead. One of the countries that made the biggest impact on him was Colombia, where he met Froilan Orozco and decided to shoot his documentary.

Orozco was in the embalming business for many years, and had embalmed many thousands of bodies in his career, mostly for a fraction of the price it would cost elsewhere. He works in a village surrounded by murder and crime, and works so cheaply to help the poorer people in society. While he works he talks about his life and his surroundings, and also talks about his work methods.

Simply made with a video camera, this documentary really does pull no punches. It's an unflinching view of life and death in all it's ugliness, with no dramatisation or gimmicks, just a camera filming what is in front of it. Definitely the most gruesome thing I've talked about on the blog, and probably not to most peoples taste, but I personally found it to be quite powerful and interesting.

Considering the morbidity of the subject and the graphic images on the screen, I found it to be a very human film. The film is about Orozco, who deeply cared for every body that he worked on and treated them with respect, and in general seemed like a very nice man. After a while, after the initial shock of what you are seeing, everything but Orozco is secondary.

"Orozco The Embalmer" is quite a difficult film to talk about. It is very simply made and has a simple story to tell. For anyone reading this who haven't or wouldn't even think about watching a film like this, I probably seem crazy for watching it or even highlighting it on this blog. But it really has to be watched to understand where I come from. It is a difficult subject matter, but I think there is more depth to the film than what is seen on the surface. I suppose it really boils down to how high a constitution you have.

Unfortunately after the film was made, Froilan Orozco died due to a hernia from lifting corpses. A sad irony in the end, and one that really affected me as you feel like you really get to know him by the end of the film.

A popular film in the more serious horror community, and classed as a "mondo" film, I find these two examples slightly insulting. Typically these types of viewers are only there for the disturbing content with little regard for anything else. I found that the film is more than that. Maybe I'm looking too much into the film and that was the target audience (which may be the case after looking at the distribution art), but I hope not.

"Orozco has embalmed more than 50,000 corpses during his lifetime. But he himself wasn't even embalmed. He doesn't even have a grave."

Below is the full uncut version of the documentary. DO NOT WATCH IF YOU ARE EASILY DISTRESSED!!!!

Thursday, 4 April 2013

It's Been A While...

Hey everyone. I've been away for a couple of months now. I'm not really the most prolific writer and the films I talk about have generally been out for a while, so sometimes I take a bit of time away between blog posts, and a lot of the time I have other things happening that takes me away from doing this.

In the run up to me attending the Dead By Dawn Festival in Edinburgh at the end of the month, I've decided I need to write more posts to get back into the swing of things in the hope I can write about some of the things that happen at the festival. I am starting to make some small changes to the page. The address has changed to (something I should've done a long time ago), and I'm putting in the odd design change here and there. I'm also getting cards printed to hand out at the festival and hopefully get some more readers.

I'll keep this short and just say that I have a couple of films in mind I want to talk about. The first is a documentary called  "Orozco The Embalmer". I've warned people already on my social network pages that this is unlike anything else I've written about, and deals with a serious subject and will contain images that some people won't be comfortable with. There, I've warned you again so go complain somewhere else! I should have this post up in the next couple of days, so I'll see you then!