Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Best of British - The Cottage

"The children have found a young man tied up in the Barn.
He had no face"
That's not good...

"The Cottage is a relentless dark comedy with an extreme twist. Bickering brothers David (Andy Serkis) and Peter (Reece Shearsmith) kidnap Tracey (Jennifer Ellison) in a desperate moneymaking scheme and hide out in a remote cottage from her ganglord father. However, feisty Tracey turns the tables on her bungling captors and escapes into the woods with Peter as her hostage. Only this land belongs to a maniacal farmer and he doesn't like trespassers... Cue a grotesquely comic battle for survival - who will survive and what will be left of them?

Ever since I saw the poster for this it intrigued me. Obviously British, judging by the three stars, and with a thick band of black humour running through it judging by the comically macabre expressions on display. Unfortunately it seemed to come and go without me realising and it was only recently that I got a chance to savour it's foul mouthed farmyard horror shenanigans.
The Cottage is having alot of fun with itself and is similar in some ways to Dusk Till Dawn in the sense that it's narrative is split evenly between two genres, the gangster flick and the horror flick. But whereas Dusk had Tarantino cool gangsters as it's inspiration, The Cottage is more Guy Ritchie does Ealing Studios with it's mix of incompetant ne'er do wells and it's generous dose of salty language (mostly thanks to Jennifer Ellison who really seems to be having alot of fun). How Danny Dyer escaped a role in this movie is beyond me however.
"Awww, Sid..."

Unfortunately this first act seems to play out a little longer than I would have liked and as enjoyable as it is to watch the talents of Andy Sirkis I had trouble maintaining interest when we know that their should be some horror a-happening. Thankfully things take a lovely turn for the creepy when the action shifts from the cottage to the farm, though unfortunately the tension is shortlived as we are quickly onto the bloodshed!

Head's in the Shed

The film was lovely and gruesome with plenty of carnage, but while the first act seemed to linger too long on the bungled kidnapping the third act carnage is upon you alot quicker than I would have liked. I'd have preferred a quicker introduction to the creepy farm, more poking around Scooby Doo style and then the blood letting arriving at around the same point, and I fear that it is that unbalanced storytelling which let's the movie down. This is a real shame as the UK really doesn't have a good slasher movie under it's belt and this could have been a contender given a stronger hold on the storytelling reins. It's creepy, it's gory and it has a kickass killer.

"Jesus Mother of Fuck"

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

What the Doug?

I've just watched the trailer for old school J-Horror action 'The House Where Evil Dwells' and was reminded that it starred my old childhood hero Doug McClure, who I used to love as a child thanks to his ass kickin' monster fighting ways in movies such as 'Warlords of Atlantis' and 'The Land that Time Forgot'.
To me he was as cool as Han Solo and Flash Gordon back in the day, a square jawed two fisted hero of yesteryear.

So imagine my surprise when I visited his IMDB page and was confronted with this!

Granted, he was already looking a little worse for wear when I saw him last in 'Humanoids from the Deep', but still...

Friday, 17 September 2010

We Live! We Live Still!!

This is a double post from my illustration blog, but figured it was horror themed enough to warrant some interest from my horror friends too (hopefully). Little bit of fun, intending to make a start on images which have a bit more going on in them and figured I'd start with The Evil Dead movies. There are so many iconic images in those movies (flying eyeballs, skull hilted daggers, old clocks, reel to reel player and giggling lamps) that I may revisit this when I have more time. Meanwhile I hope people enjoy the break from Red Band trailers for Hatchet 2.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

The Last Exorcism

Despite the Exorcist and Exorcist 3 ranking among my favouritest of horror movies, I have something of a troubled history with Exorcism and possession films in general (Debbil movies) in so far as they are always shit. Not Exorcist 2/Richard Burton drunken priest shit, no, the bad kind of shit. Recently this genre has leaned heavily towards the whole 'based on true events' angle which of course instantly lowers your expectations of anything truly spectacular happening - no headspinning, no levitating, just grunting and sweating. For some reason Hollywood seems to think the 'It could have happened!' angle is the scariest part of a debbil movie.

When actually THIS is the scariest part of a Debbil movie.

My self imposed embargo on any information regarding films which look at all of interest means I went into TLE with literally no idea of what to expect. I didn't know it was a PoV horror movie for a start, a genre which I genuinely love. PoV horror really throws you into the thick of things and if said 'things' are firing on all cylinders you're left with a great experience, ala Blair Witch, Rec and that other one with the demon in the loft. Of course if you start messing with the formula, ala Romero in Diary of the Dead, adding music to 'heighten the drama', things soon fall apart. Just as things were looking promising TLE also started to throw in some spooky music themselves, and again I found myself jolted out of the movie as I wondered 'Who added the music? Was that in post production? Didn't she jump of the ski lift on Curb Your Enthusiasm?' and other such inconsequentials. This additional music also cheats the audience. Someone has edited this footage, someone has shaped it into a narrative and added a score. Or at least that is the definite implication made. Which then leads you to form certain conclusions as to the films outcome. These conclusions are wrong, and it's this level of not so clever manipulation which left a bad taste in my mouth. It's a cheat, and really let's the film down. But then again it appears the movie has alot of these 'cheats' attached, at least as gfar as the marketing is concerned. After seeing the movie I saw this poster.

Bollocks, that doesn't happen and suggests a much more other worldly experience than the one you receive. Just as things do start to take a turn for the creepier and we head off to the ('Emily Rose' style) barn for the big showdown and titular exorcism the story is wrapped up Nancy Drew style at a speed which is so fast it made my head spin (ho ho!)

I wanted to like the movie, and was doing so, but after a steady build it came to an abrupt ending and then this happened...

...or at least that's how it felt. Perhaps truly the strangest ending I have seen in the cinema for a long time, and for all the wrong reasons. Not since I saw Ghostbusters as a kid have I heard such audience participation from a UK audience. But whereas in 1985 people were singing along in unison to the Ghostbusting antics on screen, here there was simply a loud, audible series of grunts, 'shit' and 'bollocks'. One 'woman' wouldn't quit announcing what a pile of shit the whole affair was for about five minutes straight, even when her friend asked her to stop. She then capped off this seering critique with the query 'Did she kill herself then?' Anyone who has actually seen the film will be left as puzzled as I was by this statement. Dozey Mare.

Where TLE does score highly though is with it's lead, Patrick Fabian, whose charisma and overall charm carries the whole movie along. The early scenes as he demonstrates how he performs his exorcist routine,e intercut with the actual 'performance' were a highlight of the movie for me, and the way his motivation for what he is doing is explained is really involving and well done. Hats off to all involved in these scenes.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Granny Grimms Ghoulish Book of Grammar

Over at the Strange Kid's Clubhouse you can practice your ABC and brush up on your knowledge of horror characters all at the same time with Granny Grimms Ghoulish Book of Grammar! A new page every week, check it out!

Thursday, 27 May 2010

ReAnimator Toon

This is a little old now but I'd be very surprised if anyone had seen it. Watching City of the Living Dead has inspired me to create a Fulci cartoon in my just made up this morning series of ZombeeCoffee cartoons. So with that in mind I figured I'd dig this one up and put it on here for all to see. I've tweaked it a little since then, and cheekily added Richard Band's 'original' theme.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Final Girl Film Club - City of the Living Dead

I've always wanted to join in one of Final Girl's Film Clubs and decided City of the Living dead was the one to do it, especially as it just got a shiny new re-release in the UK today., I wonder what the Book of Enoch had to say about that little slice of fate! So even though I have no idea how to write a review, a synopsis, a retrospective or any such quality writing, I had to join in. Apologies if this post is very haphazard and simply follows the Friedkin school of DVD commentary, merely describing in monotonous detail all that you see before you. In fact things may become so tedious they may even make your eyes bleed!

See what I did there...

A word from our sponsor

For those of you who are wondering what on earth could shatter the imagination more than that ladies shameless breaking of the fourth wall, here is exactly what kind of horror is transpiring at that very moment!

Shocking isn't it? Yep, the gates of hell have been opened and what better way to illustrate this than having the legendary sleaze master Giovanni Lombardo Radice preparing to get his freak on with a sex doll. He play's Bob, the town idiot who is apparently some kind of sex pest though he seems incredibly popular with the young ladies of Dunwich (the movies titular Hamlet/City of the Living Dead). Not so the menfolk however, who would like nothing better than to see him fry. That sex doll by the way is a sex doll he just found in the fireplace of some spooky old house. That kind of thing never happened to Abbot and Costello! Unfortunately his special moment is interrupted by the discovery of what may be a corpse, or what may equally be a pile of spaghetti in the shape of a corpse it could go either way. Let's see what Bob thinks...

an idiot, yesterday

Actually, that's his reaction to the sex doll. If you look carefully there is a little coy shyness about him. Awww, bless. Go feel her boobies Bob, you sweaty freak... But I'm getting ahead of myself here, what exactly is City of the Living Dead about? Well if you know your vintage Italian Horror, you'll know that the likelihood of there being an actual City is slim and you'll be lucky to get any living dead too. But in this case you get both, though obviously not near each other. Our action begins in a spoooky old graveyard where we find Father Thomas taking a stroll amongst the rolling mist. He spies a branch which takes his fancy, slips over the noose and hangs himself.

Why? Who the hell knows. Not Mary, that's for sure. Poor Mary is in New York (A City) having a seance. Seances are so Sixties, Mary, you want to get hip and buy yourself a Ouija, that's what all the cool kids are doing! She has a vision of the hanging priest and wouldn't you know it she dies of fright! Right there and then! Dead! So dead in fact that when they put her in the ambulance it drives away with it's sirens blaring, such is the deadfulness of her deadness. Now it doesn't take long for our intrepid reporter, Peter, to arrive on the scene and start sniffing out the mystery.

nudge, nudge, wink, wink

Unfortunately even the promise of a little man on man action doesn't seem to be enough to get him past the police guard so he has to do his investigating elsewhere. What better way to crack the mystery than to just randomly hang around Mary's grave talking to the two guys who I guess are meant to be grave diggers.
Wedding Crashers 2 - Grave Diggers
Now I'm not sure exactly what part of grave digging they were up to, but I'm thinking they were volunteer grave diggers or perhaps graved digging is their hobby as they appear to have dug up an old grave. After randomly fiddling with the skeleton they then move on to an equally half arsed job of burying Mary about six inches below the ground.

They soon knock this meager task on the head too and decide it's quitting time. Unfortunately for Mary however she has just come back from the dead! Not in the zombie way of course, she's much too near civilisation for that, but still no one wants to be buried beneath what must be at least five handfuls of dirt, not Uma Thurman, not Sandra Bullock and not Mary! But help is at hand! Peter hears Mary's cries for help and he's a man with a plan! Unfortunately that plan is the same plan Harry Warden had in My Bloody Valentine...

You big dumb bastard...

Still, if the sight of the worlds most intense priest swinging from a tree doesn't do you in, the valiant swinging of ace reporter Peter Bell is not a problem. Soon Mary is well enough to join Peter in their search for the Dunwich, the titular City of the Living Dead (pop. 8). They know not where to even look, but as it turns out Peter has his own vintage form of Eighties Sat Nav and before you know it, our dynamic duo arrive to save the day.
the good, the brat and the useless

Fulci rounds out his cast with the usual suspects of Italian Gore (Bearded Man, Annoying Kid and Useless Woman) to make sure that the more sticky end of the horror movie spectrum is taken care of whilst our heroes drive round aimlessly and stop for snacks.

One Priest, No Cup

There's the infamous 'Girl Spews Up Her Guts' scene where something disgusting happens, though I can't quite remember what now. And then there's the whole Bob Vs Power Drill interface. Now, I saw this particular clip awhile back, and was left thoroughly confused. I could not work out for the life of me who the zombie was in the scene. Was it Angry Dad McHead Driller? Surely not, he's too angry and Daddish. Then it must be the other guy, though he does seem to be acutely aware of what's about to happen...In the end of course it doesn't matter, Fulci wanted a head drilling scene and it was obviously some kind of creative stretch to put a zombie in that scene too.
The towns inhabitants try to figure out where everyone else went

And so the ooky goings on continue until eventually the towns inhabitants dwindle down from around eight to around three and it is up to our small band of survivors to join forces and destroy evil the only way they know how - Close your eyes and hope the zombie goes away!

I do believe in spooks, I do!

A winning strategy such as this can only really go on for so long and s
oon it's time for a more aggressive form of attack - The patented Giant Crucifix to the Zombie Gonads manoeuvre!


Yes, for once we actually have a
happy ending in a zombie movie! Except Fulci obviously didn't actually want a happy ending and did a reshoot. Only he didn't even do that. He did this (spoilers, I guess)...

I literally have no idea.

Gah, there's nothing like a Fulci Zombie flick to make you feel positively nauseous. Not that City of the Living Dead is the most outrageously gory film out there, it's most infamous scene is little more than you could see for yourself in a butchers window (literally). No, the difference between a Fulci Zombie and a Romero Zombie is a matter of class. Savini's effects were so masterful they almost look real. The effects in these movies are all ooze and offal. I can practically smell the rank stench of rotten meat and cheap rubber here, and it makes me sick.

Oh yeah, and this happens at some point.

That's what hits me with a gore film, the cheapness. Saw and Hostel were no problem because they were well made. Redneck Zombies turned my stomach precisely because it looked cheap and fake. When Giovanni Lombardo Radice (yep, him again) has his manhood scarfed on by a native in Cannibal Ferox, I find it hard to watch as it is clearly made from something akin to foam latex. But sickening effects aside, what did I think of City of the Dead, aka The Gates of Hell? Well, not unlike it's Brother in Sleaze The Beyond this isn't really a zombie flick, more a supernatural gorefest with zombies in it. However these zombies are you're good old fashioned Eurotrash zombies, all pus and maggots, so it's definitely value for money in that department. You even get a zombie rising from the grave, and anyone familiar with my thoughts on Good Corpse/Bad Corpse knows my feelings on that (ie. I love it!).


The characters in this movie are obviously paper thin cliches straight from a Seventies cop show, but you know what? I liked that, I liked the fact that they were likeable, I liked their can do attitude. These days when every character in a horror movie is either unlikeable and douchey, or a complete misery it makes a nice change to actually route for a character like Pete and his cigar chompin', hard drinkin' ways.


City of the Living Dead gave me everything I could want from a Fulci Zombie movie, and actually gave me a semi coherent plot too which was a bonus. I give it 4 religious effigies to the nuts out of 5! Of course badly dubbed, non sensical gorefests like this aren't to everyone's tastes and most peoples idea of a good time, but to those people I just tell 'em what Sgt Clay has to say-

Friday, 21 May 2010

Win a Super Fun Puzzle Book of Horror

One thing about being a freelance Illustrator is that whenever I do anything other than work on my mac it just feels like I'm skiving, and hence my poor runt of a horror blog has received some unfair treatment at my hands.  However, just because I lock my blog away in the cellar and forget to feed him every once in a while, it does not mean my love of horror has been similarly neglected.  As part of my life as an Illustrator I often have to come up with new and exciting ways to get my work in front of Art Directors, and one such past endeavour was the 'Super Fun Puzzle Book of Horror'.  This daft little creation is a booklet of kid's puzzles all with a horror theme.  However since you generally have to be an Art Director to receive such bin filling fun, how would you like to win a copy of your very own? All you have to do is correctly identify all 11 characters on the cover, or simply what movie they appear in and Email your answers  over to Nik@nikholmes.com and the winner will be chosen at random on Monday 31st May.

Gotta catch 'em all!

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Pimping my wares - Final Girls!

A short while ago I produced some posters and postcards dedicated to those lovely, lovely survivors of the slasher genre and beyond. This first set of 3 Final Girls portrays the original trio of perhaps the most successful movies of the genre - Halloween, Friday the 13th and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Contained in the set are Sally Hardesty, Laurie Strode and Alice Hardy and you can nab yourself a set over at my online store, Dirtyape Creative.

I'd love to do a whole series of these, series two would be Nancy Thompson, Ginny Field and Jess Bradford. Any other suggestions?

Survival of the Dead nice cover shocker!

The poor taste left in my mouth by the heavy handed shit sandwich that was 'Diary of the Dead' left me with very little interest in 'Survival of the Dead', so much so that I was more or less unaware of it's existence until the DVD popped up in Tesco's a few weeks ago. No doubt released to cash in on the arrival of Zombieland, I would have no doubt picked it up out of curiosity regardless. And by picked up I mean physically picked up, looked at it, put it back. DVD prices drop faster than a crooked OCP executive these days, and todays £13 chart title is tomorrows 5 for £20 in HMV, so you have to be something really special for me to buy upon immediate release. Anyway, what actually caught my eye was the fantastic cover, which I love! No photoshop composite here, no sin city style black and white antics. This was good old fashioned cover art, probably digital but reeking of an artists touch. I wanted to buy it for the cover alone, but obviously common sense prevailed. For those outside of the UK, or who just haven't seen it here is the cover.

That's Alan Van Sprang. He now outranks Savini and Pilato as the actor
to have appeard in the most Romero Dead films. Shame they're the shit ones.

And here is the current US art which I've seen kicking around.

Bore me more...

Just doesn't compare in my opinion. I really miss those old school horror posters which rocked my gorehound world as a child, when artists like Drew Struzan were king.

Compare and contrast. Note the fantastic spoiler proof quote on the 'Michael Bay' version

Of course shitty posters for horror movies are nothing new. I remember all too well the undeserving cover art for 'An American Werewolf in London' and 'Day of the Dead' on the shelf of Stargazer's Video.

pure shit

But then I also remember the awe inspiring art for 'Fright Night'

pure gold

and one of my favourite posters of all time, for one of my favourite movies of all time.

Yep, that's the whole movie right there

Aaaah, bliss...

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Good Corpse/Bad Corpse - Jack Goodman

When I started this topic, it actually went by the snappy title of 'Good Zombie, Crap Zombie' but it took me a grand total of one post to realise that if I were to post about one of my favourite members of Undead society, Mr Jack Goodman, I may actually be entering into a world of pain amongst the hardcore Zombie fraternity. Therefore it was with great pleasure that I was able to go all George 'Let me just fix that' Lucas and re-name the original post to the wonderfully, painfully pun-tastic 'Good Corpse, Bad Corpse'. Of course now I may have to face the wrath of the hardcore necrophilliac fraternity, but truth be told they tend to be somewhat less vocal than your average Romero fan.

So, after the wonderfully inept zombie stylings of Steve Coogan, we move onto perhaps the greatest undead makeup EVER to be committed to film. Yes, yes, David Naughton transformed into an actual werewolf, yes Brian Glover tells his 'Yoonighted Nay-shuns' joke and yes Jenny Agutter is deflowered by a Yank. But for me the most underrated aspect of 1981's 'An American Werewolf in London' has to be the dearly departed Jack Goodman, as played by Fear on Friday regular Griffin Dunne. The genius that is Rick Baker gave us not one, not two, but THREE of the best 'zombie' make ups out there today.
There's Fresh JackStinky Jack Rotten Jack and each one delivers the goods big time. when Dunne met with John Landis for the role, Landis would repeatedly question whether Dunne was at all claustrophobic, obviously envisaging the length of time he would be spending with his face in plaster. Presumably Dunne had not seen Tourist Trap at this point in his life.

It took five hours to apply the make up, and Dunne says that at the end of every day when he tore it from his face Baker would look on in horror as his amazing work was destroyed. Though he wasn't claustrophobic, Dunne did have some trouble adjusting to the makeup. He said he felt terribly depressed when confronted with what his face would no doubt resemble had he met some terrible fate.While not great for Dunne this speaks highly indeed of the work Baker was performing. Griffins performance however never once hinted at his inner feelings as Jack has to be the most upbeat member of the undead ever, except for these two of course"hello!'

and it his ever chipper performance which lends to the pitch black tone of the films humour as well as adding some humanity to the proceedings. Look at these scenes for example, where despite being one of the undead and despite David being a werewolf, his main concern seems to be not upsetting his best bud too much. What a guy!

In a deleted scene Jack asks David to pull his finger

As with alot of the actual movie, it's the little touches that reinforce our belief in Jack as a talking cadaver. The flapping chunk of flesh which wobbles throughout his first appearance in the hospital, which had everyone in my school playground swearing blind they had seen the toast. slide down his throat. The rotten dentures Baker created for Stinky Jack. You never really see them, but the absence of bright pearly whites just sells the effect more (I'm looking at you smooth tummy zombie!). And when David meets Jack for the last time, Jack has just one thin chunk of flesh left over his teeth, yet when that flesh rises at one point, you know he's smiling.

Jack Goodman - dead, stinking and cursed. Yet still takes the time to stop and smell the flowers.

He's always smiling.

Lets sit back now and enjoy some of the Goodman boy's finer moments.

Psych-o-matic for the people!

I created this little maniac maker last year, and some of you may have seen it over at Freddy in Space when Johnny was good enough to make a post about it. I'm currently working on an update as there are a few more psycho's I'd like to throw on there, but in the meantime please have a little fun with it and create your very own super psycho-inbred-undead-cannibal-serial killin' bastard son of a hundred maniacs! Click on the image to get started.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Hidden Horror - After Hours

Just a small clip here, but the first time I saw Martin Scorceses quirky comedy After Hours this little scene really surprised me. The movie had already ensured there was a general feeling of unease about the proceedings as we follow Griffin Dunnes character into a late night rendezvous in the heart of Eighties SoHo. Everyone he meets is just that little bit off kilter, and as he waits for his date (a never kookier/creepier Rosanna Arquette) to return from her shower he hears whispering from within the supposedly empty apartment. The scene reminded me a little of another of my favourite creepfests, Exorcist 3.
Once again, the scene really does play better within the realms of the actual movie but if you're anything like me and love this often overlooked little masterpiece then this is a nice little reminder of one of the many fantastic little touches it has to offer. If you have never seen this movie, I really urge you to check it out. It has it's fair share of detractors, but I absolutely love it and it's great to see Dunne on leading man duties.

Friday, 12 February 2010

New Friday 13th Director fired after controversial 'Jason speaks' debacle!

The director of the next Friday the 13th installment has been fired after just one day on the job! The new director, David Kellogg, was announced just days ago on horror website 'BloodyBullshit.com' and said he was keen to do something special for the 13th appearance of Jason. But apparently execs weren't too enamoured with his idea of allowing Jason to speak for the first time EVER in a Friday 13th flick. But it wasn't the idea of a talking Voorhees that had the studios sweating, it was Kellogs choice to voice the legendary backwoods serial killer - Rosie Perez!
"I knew I had to pull all the stops out for F13 part 13" explains Kellog from his ranch just outside of Cardiff, Wales "and I figured having Jason speak in his mother's voice would just about blow the fan's minds. I remember as a youngster watching Halloween for the first time I literally soiled myself when we saw Norman speaking in his grandmothers voice! I mean, if it works for Coppola why not for me?" Kellog then went on to demonstrate he knew just as much about human biology as he did about horror movies "I mean, yes Jason's creepy but we all know his Schtick by now - Stripy sweater, cannibal, rides a pony- how can we give the audience something new, something fresh? Something that will make them explode with excitement? I mean literally explode, with bits of them flying around the theatre and everything?! And that can happen, it happened with The Jazz Singer when Jolson spoke for the first time, people just spontaneously combusted! Fact!! So how do you bring that level of excitement to a modern audience with their fancy new gimmicks like '3D' and 'Full Color'? Three words my friend- Rosie Perez!"

Perez had wanted to work with Kellogg since she first saw what many critics consider his opus, the 1991 classic 'Cool as Ice'. "Oh yeah" continues Perez, star of such powerful movies as 'Do The Right Thing', 'Fearless' and 'It could Happen To You', "The minute David approached me I was on board 110%. I mean Jason's a shapeshifter, why couldn't he have a woman's voice. He was a woman for most of the first movie, and that part in A New Beginning when his face splits open and we see a new face growing inside! Oh...my...GOD! Classic stuff."

Unfortunately it was never to be and Kellogg was asked to leave the project soon after announcing his plans. However Platinum Dunes know a creative genius when they see one and have asked Kellog to direct the upcoming remake of their upcoming thriller 'Fiasco Heights', hoping they can get his version in cinemas before the originals 2011 release date.

As for the next installment of Friday the 13th, new director Charles Kanganis has revealed he would like to see the series return to it's TV show roots and make a film about a haunted antique shop. No word yet on Perez's involvement.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Good Corpse/Bad Corpse

Just as there are good horror movies and there are bad horror movies, the genre which tends to produe the largest amount of bad is often Zombie movies. For every good zombie flick there are countless, countless bad ones. As if to illustrate this there are around 42 zombi 3's out there, and not one of them is good. I've sat and 'enjoyed' most of them of course, but would be hard pressed to describe them as good. George Romero's Day of the Dead has one remake and one unofficial sequel under it's belt. How many of these are any good? NONE! Night of the Living Dead has two remakes (One good, one bad. If you've seen them you know which is which.) not to mention a spectacularly misguided survivors cut. Zombie films are like the undead themselves, a spectacularly sprawling mass of shambling, bumbling stinkiness.
However even when a zombie movie is good, or at least 'entertaining', there's always the chance that the zombie's themselves may fail in instilling you with any sense of dread. Sometimes it's budget, sometimes a lack of artistic vision, sometimes your zombie extras just don't tuck their shirt in.

More often than not your shambling undead can make or break your picture. The Italians had the best idea, throwing as much filth and decay at the screen as they could, though the fantastic work of Gianetto De Rossi actually helped elevate things beyond butchers shop meets pastry face. When I was young I always though that zombies should look like rotting skeletons clawing their way from the grave, thanks in no small part to movies like Creepshow and the 1972 Tales From the Crypt movie.
I had never seen any 'proper' Zombie movies at that point, and so what I had seen in these movies is what stuck in my head. Obviously I've since watched many Zombie movies and have come to appreciate the finer points of Zombies such as those in Romero's movies. Zombies as more than gore soaked oogie-boogie monsters, representative of some aspect of society, something not possible when you're looking at a car park full of Halloween Decorations. This sliding scale of decay below shows that my childhood views on what makes a more effective zombie doesn't always equal a good zombie film. While my personal favourite, 'Return of the Living Dead', does top the scale, there's no real way you can justify the original Dawn falling behind even Zombie Lake with it's skinnydipping netball team and gumming Nazi zombies.
Let's celebrate those zombies, both good and crap, in a returning feature I like to call 'Good Zombie/Crap Zombie'. Sometimes I might highlight a great zombie makeup, sometimes a poor zombie makeup put to stunning effect in a good movie, but to begin I think we'll start safely in the arena of 'crap' zombie. And so i present to you quite possibly the worst zombie I have ever seen -
The Partridge Zombie
(Cooganus Corpsus)

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Hidden Horror - Hung, Drawn & Quartered

Sometimes you can be watching something from outside of the horror genre when 'crash, bang, wallop!' a little slice of horror just ups and slaps you in the kisser. I love these little surprises, and when they appear out of nowhere like that they are all the more powerful. As in real life when something sudden and violent occurs, it can be a real jolt ,knocking you sideways. Obviously it goes without saying that it's alot safer when this is happening to someone on screen, but the overall feeling, that little rush of I don't know what occurs and triggers something. This is basically alot to do with horror movies in general and why they are so popular, the difference being of course that you know what to expect when you sit down in front of a Horror movie, so the thrill comes from the anticipation of this feeling.

The clip I have included here is from the Helen Mirren mini series 'Elizabeth I', which till this point had been your usual Costume Drama affair, with it's plots, politics and treachery. then Bam! these poor guys are off to be 'Hung, Drawn and Quartered', a phrase I was familiar with but had never really given much thought to. Obviously the power of this scene is completely removed by presenting it in isolation like this, but if I asked you to sit through a four hour mini series just to see 45 seconds of old school Elizabethan torture I may find myself on the chopping block.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Quiz - You Have Been Watching

I don't think there's any genre of movie which has the character's watching TV as much as in Horror movies. I'm not sure if it's a deliberate attempt by the film maker to establish a connection with the viewer, to make the events on screen resonate a little more with the audience, "Hey, I watch TV! Holy shit! That could be me! I'm doomed!" Perhaps watching TV is up there with pre marital sex and drinking as one of the big no no's of horror and we just haven't realised yet!

Or perhaps Horror Movie makers just like to have a little fun with their in-jokery, a little nod and a wink to the audience, which is why Funny Games and Henry are not in this list despite the 'protagonists' in those movies enjoying a little down time in front of the box. Those movies had a real point to their inclusion and were communicating something to us the audience. I also don't have them on DVD so couldn't get the images...

Anyway, the challenge here is to identify which horror movies these moments of chillin' away from the killin' are taken from. Bonus points if you can name what's showing on the screen.

Full credit of course to Johnny at Freddy in Space who often runs quizzes like this, which I love so much I stole the idea right from him. Cheers Johnny!