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    Derby Quad is staging a new film festival next month called iD Fest ("celebrating identity through film") and among the programme is a discussion panel with four leading lights of the British Horror Revival. It is being billed as 'Directing Independent British Features' but all four panelists have solid horror cred (though some have done non-horror too).

    • Jake West directed Razor Blade Smile, Evil Aliens and Doghouse (as well as Club Death, Pumpkinhead 3 and one segment of The ABCs of Death)
    • Johannes Roberts directed F and Storage 24 (as well as Forest of the Damned, Darkhunters and When Evil Calls, and co-directed Sanitarium and Hellbreeder)
    • Paul Andrew Williams directed The Cottage and Cherry Tree Lane (and wrote the original script of The Children)
    • Dominic Burns directed Cut, Airborne and UFO (and, as an actor, appeared in The Reverend, Kill Keith, Strippers vs Werewolves, Cockneys vs Zombies - and is producing The Devil's Tower)
    The panel is at 4.00pm on Saturday 11th May, tickets are four quid a pop. Find out more at www.idfest.co.uk

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  • 04/23/13--12:03: Kim Newman on British horror
  • Here's an interesting interview with Kim Newman, ostensibly about old British horror films but with some discussion of the British Horror Revival too.

    BHR titles which he mentions include Eden Lake, Harold's Going Stiff, Long Time Dead, Nine Lives, Mum and Dad, Cockneys vs Zombies and The Devil's Business.

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    The next issue of Rue Morgue magazine is a subtly branded British Horror Special. And while most of the contents is predictably about old horror topics, including The Wicker Man and Peter Cushing, there is evidently some BHR coverage in there including Harold's Going Stiff, Sightseers and, slightly bizarrely, Simon Pegg-starring flop A Fantastic Fear of Everything.

    The irony is that Rue Morgue generally hates British horror.

    When I was researching and writing Urban Terrors: New British Horror Cinema, most of the reviews I found in Rue Morgue were extraordinarily negative. According to the mag's warped view of modern British horror, apparently, Dog Soldiers "plays dead with the best of them", Doctor Sleep has a "pedestrian idea of scariness", The Zombie Diaries is "inconsistent", Evil Aliens is "an abortion of piss-poor CGI, outlandish 'acting' and imaginative yet crappy effects", Nature Morte is a "formulaic police procedural" and a "lame-ass murder mystery", The Devil's Chair is "straight-to-video calibre nonsense", The Devil's Tattoo is "a shipwreck of a movie" (to be fair, it is) and - most point-missingly of all - 28 Days Later is "a colossal wankfest from start to finish, easily one of the biggest disappointments of the calendar year"!

    Rue Morgue, which is generally an okay magazine, despite their antipathy towards British films, is available in the UK from the fine folk at Hemlock Books. This issue is published on 1st May.

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    The Horror Show, a UK-based VOD service "created for, and curated by horror fans", officially launches next month and they already have a few titles online including three interesting BHR titles.

    There's David Bryant and friends' Dead Wood, which I reviewed back in August 2007: "The characters are likeable, the acting naturalistic, the horror subtle at first then increasingly dreadful. ... Thoroughly enjoyable, decidedly spooky and heartily recommended."

    There is also Ozgur Uyanik's absolutely brilliant Resurrecting 'The Street Walker', one of my favourite films of recent years: "an imaginative, original, clever, gripping film ... the most realistic portrayal of a British feature film production company that I have ever seen."

    And the third BHR title is one I haven't seen, which is exclusive to The Horror Show. That's Andrew Spencer's 'paranormal thriller' The Casebook of Eddie Brewer. I've heard good things about that one and am delighted to move it from the 'unreleased' file to the list of 2013 BHR releases.

    The service also has a 'Short Stack' of ten great short films from around the world including British titles Beer and Nuts, Suckablood, SatanV, The Wilds, The Dorset Toothclaw Massacre, Devil's Grip and Him Indoors. Nearly two hours of horror for just 99p!

    The Horror Show launches on 14th June.

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    The Ford Bothers' The Dead is, in my judgement, the best British zombie film ever made. So you can imagine how excited I am to see the new trailer for The Dead II: India, which transposes the action to a new continent.

    So hot it's not even listed on the IMDB yet, The Dead II stars Joseph Milson, making his fourth foray into the British Horror Revival after Dead of the Nite, SNUB and Devil's Bridge with Indian actress Meenu (Love Aaj Kal) as his pregnant girlfriend.


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    It couldn't happen to a nicer guy. Richard Driscoll, the most colourful character in British horror cinema, has today been found guilty of defrauding the Inland Revenue to the tune of £1.5 million.

    According to this HMRC press release, Driscoll was arrested in June 2011 for fraudulent activities which took place between January 2009 and September 2011. Bear in mind that between then and his first appearance at Southwark Crown Court, shortly before Easter 2013, he:
    • Re-released Evil Calls in 3D as The Legend of Harrow Woods
    • Re-released Kannibal in 3D as Headhunter
    • Sent abusive emails to my webhost and ISP forcing the temporary removal of my reviews of his films
    • Announced a DVD release for Eldorado
    • Shot some scenes for, and announced a DVD of,  Grindhouse 2wo
    • Launched the eldorado3d.com website
    • Re-released Cold Light of Day
    • Released a trailer for Eldorado and announced a fictitious London premiere
    • Shot some green-screen footage for Death Ship: The Real Pirates of the Caribbean
    • Announced a screening and after-show party in Bournemouth featuring performers who rigorously denied they would be there
    • Falsely laimed the BBFC had rejected Eldorado as too strong for an 18 certificate
    • Finally released Eldorado!
    • Put Higher Nanpean Farm up for sale
    • Re-edited and re-released Eldorado as Highway to Hell
    • Announced a 'new' film, The Devil Rides Out (aka When the Devil Rides Out) which was actually the still unreleased Devil's Disciple.
    That's all after he was arrested for fraud! Details of the case are still emerging but it seems he claimed VAT repayments on £9 million of costs even though Eldorado only cost £1 million to make.

    The story is starting to appear on news sites although most of them are getting basic facts wrong, notably:

    • They think Eldorado was David Carradine's last film (to be fair, that's in the HMRC press release)
    • They think it was never released (apparently because US rights holders Fantastic Films International said they never received the film)
    • They think, for some bizarre reason, that US actress Kerry Washington is in it(?).

    Driscoll will be sentenced on 1st July. Three men charged with him have been found not guilty. I'll post more details in the coming days. For now, here's some media coverage, which I'll update as it spreads:


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    My blog post yesterday has now been viewed a whopping 444 times, and the story has now reached the trades:


    This piece in the Daily Star has a bit more detail than most:

    "The scam included a bogus invoice suggesting Kill Bill star Carradine was paid more than £400,000 for 13 days worth of work, even though he had died two weeks prior to the date stamped on the notice. The paperwork also falsely suggested Hannah was paid £570,000 for seven days' filming in Cornwall, where Driscoll's film studio is based, even though the American star had not even left the US."

    Interestingly, and slightly disappointingly, all the papers have seen this as an isolated case, based around Eldorado, the unmade Watchmen of Hellgate (which the press are universally referring to as Watchmen Hellgate) and Back2Hell which was of course actually produced back in about 2005. None of the papers have done even the slightest bit of digging into Driscoll's background or reputation. I actually sent a press release to all the major dailies yesterday with some backlground info on Driscoll (and a plug for my book!) but have had no response.

    To veer off topic for a moment, this is the nature of modern journalism: you just take a press release, stick a headline and a picture on it and you're done (it's called 'churnalism'). No-one is interested in looking behind the story to find out the bigger picture.

    Maybe Empire or Total Film or SFX will pick up on this and do a proper exposé of Driscoll.

    The BBC, who gave Driscoll's work such a hefty plug, remain remarkably silent on the matter, although they may be waiting for the sentencing.

    One particularly bizarre bit of misinformation which is being dutifully repeated by all the papers is that the list of Hollywood actors in the film includes Kerry Washington (most recently seen in Django Unchained). I really have no idea where this has come from. She's not in Eldorado, her name has never been linked with Eldorado, she's not in anything with a title like Eldorado and there's no-one in Eldorado with a name like Kerry Washington.

    The story is also in:


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    Issue 324 of Fangoria contains a terrific review of my book Urban Terrors: New British Horror Cinema, written by Ashley Thorpe (no mean film-maker himself).

    "What emerges," writes Ashley, "is an illuminating account of contemporary Britain, a country reinventing its terrors of old to reflect and reinvent hell for the next generation. It's a read as original, provocative, perverse and diverse as the culture that spawned it - a bloody good show."

    Cheers mate!

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    Tony Jopia, director of rock'n'roll horror Deadtime and currently finishing off his werewolf feature Crying Wolf, has revealed the poster for his next project. Cute Little Buggers sounds like a British take on Critters/Gremlins, which should be good:

    "After hostile aliens crash land on local farmland, the villagers at the summer ball get suspicious when young women start going missing. The villagers soon band together around our hero Melchior to fend off the invaders and bring back peace to the sleepy English countryside!"

    The film stars a voice actor I used to know well back in the 1990s, Gary Martin. He was Judge Dredd in the radio version - as well as just about everybody else in everything else. Also in the cast are Joe Egan (Dead Cert, Strippers vs Werewolves, Ra.One), Kristofer Dayne. On the poster (but not the IMDB listing) are Leslie Grantham (who was in Deadtime) and 'Caroline Monroe' which is presumably Bond/Hammer hottie Caroline Munro who is also in Crying Wolf.

    Cute Little Buggers is pencilled in for release next summer. The only downside is that it's going to be in 3D. Mind you, Eldorado and Elfie Hopkins were both announced as 3D productions and neither fulfilled that threat. No-one wants British horror films in 3D, so hopefully that part of the budget can be redirected into the script, the creature effects and a new poster design with Caroline Munro's name spelled properly.

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    Paul Hyett's acclaimed directorial debut The Seasoning House has its UK theatrical release this week - Friday 21st June. It's playing four cinemas in London and two in the rest of the country:
    • Apollo Piccadilly
    • Ritzy Brixton
    • Picturehouse Hackney
    • Showcase Newham
    • Showcase Leeds
    • Showcase Paisley
    I shall be at a preview screening tomorrow night in London and hope to add a review to my main site over the weekend.

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    Here's a fun little horror-comedy directed by a stills photographer and starring a cinematographer. Debbie Attwell produced Al Ronald's segments of Bordello Death Tales and Nazi Zombie Death Tales and his awesome feature Jesus vs the Messiah; Al previously came out from behind the camera in The Devil's Music.

    Sweet 6teen, Debbie's directorial debut, was made for the 666 Short Cuts to Hell competition.


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    Little Deaths, a powerful and shocking anthology from three of the best British horror directors working today, will be released on UK DVD on 12th August by Monster Pictures. The film is a collaboration between Sean Hogan (Lie Still, The Devil's Business), Andrew Parkinson (I Zombie, Dead Creatures, Venus Drowning) and Simon Rumley (Strong Language, The Living and the Dead).

    In “HOUSE AND HOME”, Sean Hogan’s opening segment, a ‘good Samaritan’ couple invite a pretty young homeless girl into their house for a meal and a bath. But when they reveal their perverted motive behind the charitable act, they soon discover that they are not the only ones with a dark hidden agenda for the night’s events.

    Andrew Parkinson’s sci-fi horror segment “MUTANT TOOL” takes experimental drugs treatment to a whole new level. When a former prostitute visits a shady doctor and is given some tablets, she suffers headaches and nightmares. She soon learns that the unorthodox ‘treatment’ is preparing her for a sinister new role in a nightmare-ish medical experiment.

    Simon Rumley’s “BITCH” completes the unholy trilogy. When a young woman’s kinky sex games and abusive character push her submissive boyfriend too far, she finds herself the victim of her worst fears – her phobia of dogs – and the sick revenge that her boyfriend has planned for her.

    The cast includes Christopher Fairbank (Mindflesh, Anazapta), Daniel Brocklebank (The Hole) and Scott Ainslie (The Zombie Diaries) with make-up design by Hannah Edwards (Cherry Tree Lane, The Reeds).

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    The world of British horror film-making was rocked to its foundations today with the shock news that 'Honest' Richard Driscoll, popular and talented film-maker of no fixed abode, has been sentenced to three years at Her Majesty's Pleasure.

    Sentencing Driscoll, Judge Pegden said: "In my opinion this was professionally planned. You used your filming expertise for the content of bogus and false invoices."

    Driscoll's legions of fans (Sid and Doris Smith) argued that the miscarriage of justice was plain for all to see. "Richard Driscoll has never done anything professional in his life," said Sid. "And he ain't got no filming expertise neither," added Doris.

    Actors, film crew and horror fans across Britain have expressed surprise that 'Tricky Dicky Risk-all' has been convicted of tax fraud, since most of them expected him to eventually go down for breach of contract, non-payment of wages, theft of 'borrowed' equipment, common assault or making really, really, really shit films.

    David Carradine was unavailable for comment.


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    If you wait long enough, everything turns up somewhere. To my surprise and delight, Dominic Holmes' unreleased 2007 slasher The Clown has appeared on YouTube. Expect a review soon - or you can watch it for yourself...


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    Micro-budget zombie shorts are ten-a-penny of course but there's something special about this one that I can't quite put my finger on...


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    The Dead 2: India, the sequel to (in my opinion) the best British zombie film ever,  is set to premiere as the opening film at Film 4 FrightFest in London on 22nd August. As part of the promotional campaign in advance of the film’s release, the PR company are giving away two tickets to the FrightFest premiere, including the after-party where you can hang out with directors Howard and John Ford as well as the film's star Joseph Millson.

    To enter the contest, you simply need to tell us what you would do in order to #StayAlive during the zombie apocalypse. You can submit their ideas on any of those modern social media wotsits including Facebook, Twitter and stuff called Tumblr, Instagram and Vine. Possibly some others. It's all a bit beyond me, to be honest. Where are my slippers?

    The important thing is that you use the hashtag #StayAlive.

    Alongside the grand prize, there are also lots of ongoing smaller prizes, including signed copies of Howard Ford’s 'making of' book Surviving the Dead: "a harrowing and at times hilarious blow-by-blow account of the trials and tribulations involved in the production of the Ford Brothers previous feature, The Dead."

    They will also be offering select, one-of-a-kind props from The Dead and The Dead 2 as prizes. These actual props were used on-set in Africa and India and can be seen in both films. Beyond being just mere memorabilia, these props are genuine artifacts of zombie film history and will be coveted by fans of the zombie film genre.

    Please note: I'm not organising this competition, just passing details on, so please don't ask me anything!

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    Ashley Thorpe, who makes extraordinarily good animated horror shorts (as well as writing and painting stuff for Fangoria), is working on a new film, a 20-minute animation about notorious haunted house Borley Rectory.

    The film is being produced by Tony Earnshaw (currently putting the finishing touches to the first Fantastiq festival) with narration by Julian Sands (Warlock, Tale of a Vampire) and music by Steve Severin (London Voodoo, Nature Morte).

    There is an Indiegogo page for Ashley's project here.

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    New British zombie feature Wasteland has a cast and crew screening at the Showcase De Luxe, Derby on 24th August - and you could get in to see the film. The producers want a bunch of zombies lurking around the cinema, so if you can supply your own costume and make-up and can maon "Bwaains!" in a convincing way, contact them. More details here.

    Wasteland is written by Tommy Draper and directed by Tom Wadlow

    Synopsis:

    Scott Miller, a man carving his life out of a world torn apart by an 'infection' that has almost totally wiped out the human race. His days are spent finding water, food and avoiding the dangers that lurk outside while he waits for the return of Beth, the love of his life.

    WASTELAND, a story of man's journey as he fights to survive, to find hope, to find purpose within this new world.

    What is there left when all hope is gone?

    What kind of life is there?

    Will Scott give up or will he look for something bigger, will he look for a meaning, will he look for hope?

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    Navin Dev, director of the marvellous Red Kingdom Rising, is working on a new feature.

    "The Judas Curse is a horror film that seeks to recreate the classic, down and dirty style of the 1970s typical of the John Carpenter style where the suspense is relies heavily on atmosphere and suggestion, and of course the music.


    "It will be shot on location in the dark and mysterious ruins of Horio which are largely unknown to filmmakers but which provide the perfect backdrop to a story that draws inspiration from some of the historic myths and legends that have built up around Judas Iscariot over the centuries. On Symi there is still an annual and controversial ritual involving the burning of Judas.


    "Of particular interest to dedicated horror fans is an extremely challenging cryptic competition involving famous quotes from classic films of the genre. This is no walkover and even the most dedicated horror fan will be up against it to solve the ten clues. But to the person who manages to get the most correct answers will be awarded the prize of being able to name a character in the film and deciding to whom the behind-the-scenes lavishly illustrated book about the making of the film shall be dedicated."

    Attached cast are Rebecca Grant (Holby City), Wookie Mayer (Heimat 2) and Lorna Doyle (The Tudors). The script is by James Collins, the DP is Felix Schmilinsky (My Brother the Devil) and the composer is Michael Bishop.

    There's a Kickstarter thing here. Production is planned for October in Greece.

    Synopsis
    “When a renegade father dies investigating an ancient myth, he leaves behind a mystery that only his son will be able to unlock. But some secrets are best left buried as Chris Trelawney discovers when he comes to a remote Greek island to collect his late father’s belongings.

    "Meeting a beautiful and mysterious woman, Stavroula, he slowly learns to accept that there are stranger things in heaven and earth than he ever dreamed possible. It is not long before he is forced to question everything he holds to be true as one by one the remaining villagers take their own lives, in violent, horrifying ways.

    "But will simply unlocking the secret be enough to save the village, Stavroula, and his own son as a dark force 2,000 years old stalks the island, growing stronger with every suicide until there is only one way out. Death. But when under the Judas Curse, death is the easy option.”

    Teaser trailer

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    The Shadow of Death, directed by Gav Chuckie Steel, is the latest BHR title to be posted in its entirety on YouTube. Gav posted it online back in June but I've only just become aware.


    Gav actually sent me a screener of this a while back but I didn't review it because it's a bit of a marmite film. You really need to be a major slasher fan to appreciate it, and I'm not. Anyway, you can see the film for yourself now. It was shot in 2011 and premiered in May 2012.

    Synopsis
    Set in an English woodland countryside, Debra and her best friends Jamie and Nancy pick up Dan, Nancy's ex, to go out to the woods to score some weed. Unknown to them a killer who resembles death is cleansing the countryside. With a wannabe policeman and an assortment of the public out for some fresh air, the woods are no place to go down today.


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