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  • 05/26/18--04:41: The Howling

  • d./w. Steven M Smith; p. Steven M Smith, Paul G Andrews; cast: Maria Austin, Jon-Paul Gates, Tiffany-Ellen Robinson, Hans Hernke, Tony Fadil, Eirik Knutsvik, Elizabeth Saint, Jeremy Hill

    Though it still has faults (not least the ridiculous, distributor-mandated title), this Universal homage is easily Smith’s best feature to date with moments that are genuinely impressive. Three friends searching for legendary mad scientist Rathbone and his rumoured coterie of monsters find what they’re looking for and soon regret it. Though promoted as a Frankenstein/werewolf mash-up this owes more to Dr Moreau. Its biggest strength is Alex Harrison’s corking monochrome photography (with occasional well-judged colour moments), evoking the post-Universal, pre-Hammer Euro-style of Freda or Franju. A superb sequence of Rathbone re-animating his disfigured wife then dancing with an idealised fantasy version of her leads into a brief but beautiful Bava-esque nightmare as an accidental witness (Robinson, who is just fantastic) runs past caged experiments. On the downside, the script is full of narrative gaps and unexplained motivations, and Gates’ accent provokes unintended giggles, wobbling between Bela Lugosi and Colonel Klink. End theme by Dr and the Medics, with a cameo by lead singer Clive Jackson.

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  • 06/21/18--10:10: Mrs Wiltshire

  • d./w. Neil Morris, Gary Smart; p. Neil Morris, Gary Smart, Christopher Griffiths, Stuart Conran; cast: Doris MF Bohnam, Bruce Jones, Stanley Rawlings, Simon Bamford, Ray Skeemer

    In 2017 Gary Smart, creator of books and documentaries on various 1980s horror classics, began making narrative films under the banner ‘Dark Ditties’. The Offer, a 48-minute sub-feature reuniting several Hellraiser cast including Bamford and Jones, was followed by this extraordinarily powerful social/supernatural horror. It’s essentially an extended monologue by an old lady, clearly suffering from dementia so that we’re never certain how much of what she experiences is real. Over the course of 65 expertly-judged minutes, we learn about her husband and what he did to her, and to their two children. Her son pleads with her to leave the house full of bad memories while her husband’s angry ghost bullies her into staying. Northern lower middle class pride melds with twisted supernatural fear in a superb production that feels like John Carpenter directing an Alan Bennett script. Terrific prosthetics by make-up legend Conran are the finishing touch on what is actually an important film about domestic abuse. Sit through the credits for a surprise. Finders Keeperswill be next.

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    d./w. Richard Mansfield; p. Richard Mansfield, Daniel Mansfield; cast: Jennie Fox, Darren Munn, Daniel Mansfield

    Mansfield Dark rides the current ‘creepy doll’ wave with this unnerving James-ian ghost story which, if anything, suffers slightly from under-using its off-the-shelf creepy doll. Single mum Rose, enjoying a week of solitude while the kids are with their dad, discovers a Walkman and some cassettes in her cellar which prove to be recordings of a psychologist interviewing a possessed child. There are two spirits at work, ‘Socks’ and ‘Mr Sheets’, although the story is unclear about their relationship. Fox is terrific in the lead role, her long hair and wide eyes evoking memories of 1970s horror victims, not least Shelley Duval in The Shining. Mansfield Dark regular Munn is the handsome young vicar who helps her; we’re left to wonder whether the sexual tension between the two has contributed to the supernatural situation. As usual, Richard Mansfield wrings fear from simple effects: a door opening, a duvet lifting, an indistinct figure in a white sheet. Originally released in February 2018 as The Demonic Doll, this shares a basic premise and location with Mansfield Dark's most successful movie so was retitled as an ersatz sequel in June.

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  • 07/09/18--11:48: Football Horror 1: Kick
  • d./w. Marcus Warren; p. Nick Hocart; cast: Daniel Bayle, Rik Young, Richard Strange, Pete Lee Wilson, Kellie Shirley, Steve Lorrigan

    Two friends find themselves locked in a building overnight with a deadly killer. This film’s unique take on that well-worn premise is that the building is a Premier League football stadium, where Dan and Steve took part in an unauthorised fan match orchestrated by a corrupt security guard. When they’re not out by ten, they find doors locked, corridors unlit and a couple of dead bodies that leave them in no doubt they’re in danger. Remarkably, this accurate take on the British passion for soccer was written and directed by an American. Young is particularly good as Dan, a dirty player on the pitch who can’t be relied on off it. Commendably taut at just 76 minutes, this doesn’t overstay its welcome, nor does it feel the need to explain everything. Filmed in 2012 at the homes of Doncaster and Leyton Orient, with some exteriors at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium, Kickpremiered at a film festival in Florida one week before its German release. It remains inexplicably unavailable in the UK.

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    d./w./p. John Mitchell; cast: Chris Ball Hero, Ann Maddern, Ben Carroll, Kung Fu Tony, Hugh Pincott, Spooky Lee Norton, Jonathan Lea, Warren Baker, Chris Woodward, Louis Thomsen

    There’s a real Attack of the Killer Tomatoes vibe to the straight-faced silliness of this amateur comedy about a demonic football… which sadly squanders whatever naïve charm it can muster by running a soul-sapping 135 minutes. Some Satanists curse a football which keeps landing in their garden and it then goes on a killing spree. Loser Dylan sets out to destroy the ball after being visited by the ghost of his brother, one of the first victims. He is helped by a goth chick (the only decent actor) and hindered by a camo-clad hunter (two planks of wood). Day/night continuity is just something that happens to other films apparently, but the ball’s animation – throwing/rolling it from offscreen plus judicious editing – works surprisingly well, and a few moments are genuinely funny (“Now stop wanking and avenge my death.”). Shot around Plymouth over six years for £300, this screened at a festival in New York in June 2014.

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  • 07/15/18--15:28: It Lives

  • d./w./p. Richard Mundy; cast: Andrew Kinsler, Peter McCrohon

    This terrific psychological horror/sci-fi feature about an isolated man interacting with a creepy AI brings to mind the more unsettling parts of 2001. In 2024, Roy is a lone technician managing a nuclear bunker in readiness for the arrival of selected individuals when needed. His only companion is Arthur, a computer that passes the Turing Test in its text screen conversations (avoiding a cheesy voice was an excellent decision). When the balloon goes up and no-one arrives before the doors lock, Roy finds himself trapped with an apparently sentient Arthur and some unexplained events. Paranoia understandably sets in: is he losing his mind, or not alone, or being manipulated by an electronic monster? Perhaps the whole ‘bunker’ scenario is fake and he’s just some psychological lab rat. Kinsler delivers a blistering, award-worthy solo performance, accentuated by great sets/locations (I recognised the Gosport Submarine Museum!) and Nick Barker’s cracking photography. Shot over three and a half years, this premiered at the BIFF in May 2016 under its original title Twenty Twenty-Four. The new title has major relevance and anyway, there are already two British horror films called The Bunker…

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  • 08/07/18--09:45: Apocalyptic Horror
  • d./w./p. Mike Tack; cast: Keith Eyles, Darren Steer, Richard Nock, Clive Ashenden, Kyle Parke, Neil Martin, Louise Tack, Geoff Brotherton, Ryan Parke, Adam Rabbit, Sam Hall, Darran Duglan

    Don’t expect zombies in this impressive flatpack anthology – the title references Tack’s production company, Apocalyptic Conservatory Studios. The first of seven shorts is the weakest: eight minutes of torture porn with a weak gag pay-off. Then a customer takes violent revenge on a dodgy car salesman; a Government minister is a literal demon; and a scarecrow avenges an old man, killed on his allotment. Story 5 is an impressive expansion of no.2, revising our sympathies and featuring some startling gangster violence. This is followed by an honest-to-goodness werewolf western (partly shot on a Colorado dude ranch) and finally a documentary about a horror cosplayer. Each short has full credits; copyrights range 2013-2016 and running times 4-16 minutes. Production values are remarkably high, especially in the western tale which features steam trains and horses, and Tack’s rep company are all solidly capable. But it’s Tim Richards’ top-notch gore effects which really stand out, giving this an enjoyably nasty 1980s vibe at times.

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  • 08/08/18--13:13: Aura
  • d./w. Steve Lawson; p. Jonathon Sothcott, Richard Watts-Joyce; cast: Shane Taylor, Janine Nerissa Sothcott, Rula Lenska, Denise Moreno, Jay Sutherland, Steven Dolton

    Mitch and Diane, an Anglo-American couple with a baby on the way, move into a house inherited from Mitch’s creepy uncle, despite the disapproval of his fundamentalist Christian mother. Old ‘Kirlian’ photographs inspire Mitch to rescue his long-incarcerated sister from an asylum. The actual ‘aura’ schtick is somewhat underused and largely incidental to what is, rather, a commendably solid tale of demonic possession – bolstered by a great turn from Lenska as a psychic trying to dispel the evil presence. For the first product from his Hereford Horror label, Sothcott offered capable microbudget helmer Lawson (Hellriser, Killersaurus– but not Dead Cert) a step up the budget ladder. Lawson still uses his restrictions well, with limited cast and locations, but better actors and an actual crew (and a set that isn’t a Loughborough lock-up!) allow him to concentrate on fluid camera-work and smooth performances. Moreno is particularly creepy as the sister. Lawson regular Dolton plays the uncle in a prologue. Shot in the USA in December 2017. Sothcott and Lawson swiftly reteamed for Pentagram.

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  • 08/25/18--08:17: Killer Gimps

  • d./w./p. Jason Impey, Kieran Johnstone; cast: Jason Impey, Kieran Johnstone, Martin W Payne, Mathis Vogel, Amber Lee, Sammie Lei, Murdo Yule, Max Todd, Katie Johnson , Kaz B

    Shared flatpack anthology with each director helping the other in various capacities on both sides of the camera. Kieran’s segments are Underworld: The Dark Web (mockdoc of policeman investigating body parts smuggling), Disorder (newly pregnant policeman’s wife raped and murdered by man in gimp costume), Boxing Day (Yuletide found footage), Nightman(gasmask-wearing killer murders policemen, with Slasher House director MJ Dixon as an additional victim) and two brief vignettes. Jason contributes Two Tales of Terror (brace of faux silent movies, incorporating footage from Sick Bastard), Lust (woman fucks skeleton then gives herself home abortion in the bath), Inner Voice (bulimia) and Gimp. This last, in which Impey plays himself (he says he’s working on Troubled), has an undead gimp take revenge on a sleazy film distributor who has dressed as a Nazi officer to entrap a dominatrix(!). Repeated use of actors and locations (mostly the director’s homes) give this an almost Twilight Zone weirdness. First released on limited VHS in September 2017 (minus Inner Voice) as Necrophiliac and the Killer Gimps, it popped up - retitled and expanded - on DVD the following March.

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  • 08/26/18--09:35: The Vampire Controller

  • d./w./p. Simon Black; cast: Mark Blackwell, Martin Daniels, Vera Bremerton, Tasha Wilton, Simon Boswell, Johnny No, Sophia Disgrace, Thomas Williamson, Suzy Wong, Katerina Samoilis

    Not listed on IMDB, barely even findable on Google, never reviewed anywhere and only released in a limited run of 100 DVDs sold through eBay, this 54-minute sub-feature – the bastard stepchild of Jean Rollin and Cradle of Filth – is arguably the most obscure British vampire film ever released. A Lugosi-esque black magician (Daniels, also credited with the original idea) orders two female acolytes (singer Bremerton and performer Wilton) – who we only know are vampires because we’ve read the sleeve – to seduce, kidnap and abuse a priest (Blackwell). That’s about it as far as plot goes, with director Black (A Girl) more interested in imagery and sound. Artsy and gothic, this manages to be both impressionist and expressionist and would probably function better as a video installation in a gallery or nightclub rather than as a narrative feature. Composer Boswell (Lord of Illusions, Dust Devil) plays a Monseigneur in occasional cutaways, with model/performer Disgrace (Spidarlings) as his cleaning lady. The discordant soundtrack features cuts from Noise Collector, Salapakappa Sound System, Serpentina, Silencide and others.

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  • 08/29/18--13:36: Craving

  • d./w. Christian Edwards; p. Tom Richards; cast: Mark Grinham, Julie Gilmour, Steve Garry, Lauren Pressdee, Victoria Hopkins, Nick Stoppani, Les Richards, Marysia Kay, Christian Edwards, Amelia Tyler, Penny Bond, Jason Impey, Alexander Bakshaev

    Shot in June 2008 with a bundle of recognisable names and faces, Edwards’ only film nevertheless managed to remain in complete obscurity for a decade before coming to accidental light. Hopkins is half of an Anglo-Aussie couple whose relationship is in trouble. Her philandering hubby is preyed on by a vampire whore and her human pimp but escapes, though not without taking a bite and suffering the effects. The film’s biggest problem is that it’s never clear which is the main story: the breaking-up couple or the tragic vampire (Gilmour) who has some good dialogue on the loneliness of immortality. Kay is a nurse tending to the guy’s ill father; Impey and Bakshaev have cameos as earlier victims. Music by Preteneraturalhelmer Gav Chuckie Steel. Shot in black and white and (bizarrely) what appears to be Academy ratio, this was released on YouTube in July 2011 as a seven-episode serial.

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  • 08/31/18--12:51: The Bad Nun

  • d./w. Scott Jeffrey; p. Scott Jeffrey, Rebecca J Matthews; cast: Becca Hirani, Thomas Mailand, Tiffany-Ellen Robinson, Mika Hockman, Cassandra French, Patsy Prince, Lucy Chappell

    Passable slasher from Proportion Productions with an original, if unconvincing, plot held up by a brace of strong performances. Aesha (Hirani, aka producer Matthews, formerly Becky Fletcher) is sent by her mum to stay in an isolated B&B run by cheery Dan. He goes out for the night, leaving Aesha in charge of an unseen poorly daughter. Later, a nun comes knocking at the door but Aesha is sensibly reluctant to let a stranger into a house that’s not hers. The nun’s identity is screamingly obvious from the start (well, not the very start – there’s a 12-minute splash panel prologue) and since she evidently has access to the house, it’s unclear why she spends so long asking to be let in. Nevertheless, these scenes of Aesha talking through the front door are the tense, uncomfortable heart of the film. The distinctly wobbly story (and some frustrating continuity errors) are ameliorated by good photography and sound and Lee Olivier-Hall’s tense score. Originally announced as Knock Knock, it was filmed in March 2018 as The Watcher.

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  • 09/09/18--07:03: Toxic Schlock

  • d./w. Tony Newton, Sam Mason Bell; p. Tony Newton, Sam Mason Bell; cast: Martin W Payne, Cindy Valentine, Simon Berry, Chris Mills, Rebecca Rolph, Sam Mason-Bell

    A very, very, very strange film, Toxic Schlock promises zombies but they only appear (pretty much out of nowhere) in the last 20 minutes. Three eco-terrorists hole up in an isolated beach-front guest-house owned by an unconvincing transvestite and a squeaky-voiced child-woman (with a Scooby-Doo gimp chained up downstairs). The Seaside Strangler – a naked, clown-faced serial killer – is at large. Too much time is spent on long, talkie scenes that play like comedy sketches without actually being funny. Every so often a new character enters and announces their identity like a bad stage thriller. Eventually the zombies appear and the child-woman turns, without explanation, into a cross between Harley Quinn and The Bride, leading to a largely wordless, stylish, chambara-influenced last five minutes – vastly different to (and better than) anything that has gone before. Distributed by Troma, with Uncle Lloyd and former Michael J Murphy associate Phil Lyndon providing radio announcer voices. Filmed in Clacton and Southsea in 2017.

    • Available to watch on TromaNow

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  • 09/16/18--02:30: Children of the Lake
  • d./w./p. Ian Lewis; cast: Abigail McKern, Eleanor Howell, Ben Cartwright, Charlotte Ammerlaan, Anita Elias, Kevin Analuwa, Yvonne Riley

    Intriguing and original ghost story bolstered by some strong acting which more than makes up for a few cut-price visual effects. Joanne and Nick are small-time crooks running a fake psychic/burglary racket who need to hide somewhere when a victim’s son rumbles them. Abandoning their car, they find an isolated house beside a lake. This is home to young, confident Naiad and Queenie, who is convinced that Joanne is her long-lost daughter. The complex story involves a portal to another realm, with Joanne an intrinsic part of the tale and Nick the sceptical mortal caught up in it all. Two ghostly children pop up occasionally. The gradual build-up of spookiness is well-handled in Lewis’ script and direction, with all three leads taking the material seriously. Rumpole offspring McKern is particularly good as the enigmatic Queenie. Lewis’ only other feature was the equally obscure Enchantress. Originally released on the now defunct Indiereign website in June 2008, this has been unavailable for some years and deserves another chance.

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  • 09/23/18--12:39: Enchantress
  • d./w. Ian Lewis; p. Ian Lewis, Melloney Rolfe; cast: Nicholas Ball, Olivia Llewellyn, Sam Hudson, Julian Shaw, Johanne Murdock, Cark Kirshner, Alexandra Legouix, James Simmons, Nika Khitrova, Abigail McKern

    Curious second feature from the director of Children of the Lake. Ball (Hazell to viewers of a certain age) plays stage magician Merlin who may be the real thing. For the first hour this is a local politics drama about plans for a new estate involving a corrupt councillor, a dodgy builder and a juvenile delinquent trying to save his gran’s house – all of whom want Merlin’s magical help. The titular enchantress is Merlin’s stepson’s girlfriend Vivianne (Llewlleyn: Mina Harker in Penny Dreadful) who returns from India, announcing that her boyfriend Davie died in a bus crash. In the final act this takes a turn into Monkey’s Paw territory with Viviane persuading Merlin to bring back Davie, plus assorted deaths and two characters turned into gerbils! Technically fine with a decent cast of TV actors, the film’s main problem is that it just takes too long to become interesting. Shot in 2010 as The Death of Merlin, this premiered in Houston in April 2013.

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  • 10/02/18--14:47: Dark Highlands

  • d./w. Mark Stirton; p. Michael G Clark; cast: Junichi Kajioka, Steve Campbell, Fraser Napier, Aria Morrison-Blyth, Barry Thackrey, Alistair Richie, Lucy Philip, Mark Wyness, Mike Mitchell

    Largely devoid of dialogue, this impressive game of cat and mouse plays out against the stunning vistas of the Cairngorms and offers something more than just a psycho stalker. UK-based Japanese actor Kajioka plays an unnamed artist who hikes into the Scottish wilds to camp and paint the landscape. He is targeted by ‘the Gamekeeper’, a masked and bekilted nemesis armed with a range of firearms, an RC drone and an unseen (for reasons which become clear but are, to be honest, fairly obvious) dog. Though never explained, a splash panel prologue suggests there is some supernatural element to the Gamekeeper who pursues his quarry at one inexplicable remove, taking him down each night with a tranquiliser dart and even erecting his tent. There’s all sorts of weirdness going on here, lifting what could easily have been a formulaic thriller into gripping, scary, mind-scrambling horror territory. Brian Cox provides brief name-value narration. Stirton and producer/DP Clark previously made ambitious sci-fi epic The Planetand black comedy One Day Removals.

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    Yes, it's true...

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  • 10/13/18--11:45: Assassin’s Revenge
  • d./w./p. Richard Driscoll; cast: Steven Craine, Michael Madsen, Patrick Bergin, Bai Ling, Eileen Daly, Rebecca Lynley

    Released less than a year after Grindhouse Nightmares, Driscoll’s seventh feature is a rambling, crime-action-noir-horror-superhero-vigilante hodgepodge with all the narrative coherence of a trailer compilation. Madsen (seen only in stock driving footage and one scene with Bergin) is an ex-cop hunting down millionaire psycho William Bard (Driscoll/Craine) who becomes Joker rip-off ‘The Comedian’ after his face is slashed. Bergin is a corrupt New York Mayor; Ling is an exotic dancer who springs Bard from jail; Lynley is Bard’s mother in a Batman rip-off flashback – and Daly is Elizabeth Bathory (or ‘Bathroy’ – inconsistent character names abound). Her irrelevant extended cameo – bathing in either milk or virgin’s blood – is bizarre, even by the standards of a film which seems to change style and plot every five minutes. Some scenes consist almost entirely of badly drawn comic panels with misspelled captions. Stealing ideas/imagery from Kick-Ass, Suicide Squad and especially Sin City, this was filmed (as The Black Knight) in Cornwall and Sheffield in January 2017 with a few green-screen days in LA. With Steve Munroe as a pimp, a teacher named Mary Shelley, a random raven death and Driscoll reciting the opening monologue from Richard III. But no assassins. Sequel The Kamikaze Squad is threatened at the end.

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    d./w./p. Richard Mansfield; cast: Matthew Hunt, Kathryn Redwood, Daniel Mansfield

    When Richard Mansfield upped sticks from London to Nottingham, he incorporated the move into this zero-budget found footager which is vastly better than most comparable films. Hunt is believable and likeable as Nick, a video maker who keeps his hand in with a documentary about his new house in the couple of weeks before starting his new day-job. The Victorian terraced cottage, which is Mansfield’s own (actually on Mansfield Street) has the curious bumps and creaks one might expect from any vintage house, but the weirdness on show gradually increases to moved furniture and eventually actual figures, caught on Nick’s motion-capture security camera. Editing the footage together, he looks for a rational explanation but can’t find one. A pleasant but slightly creepy tarot-reading neighbour doesn’t help. With excellent use of split screen and some nice location work around Nottingham city centre and on the city’s trams, this is another fine slice of James-ian horror from the Mansfield Dark label that will leave you genuinely creeped out.

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  • 11/01/18--13:53: Possum

  • d./w. Matthew Holness; p. Wayne Marc Godfrey, James Harris, Robert Jones, Mark Lane; cast: Sean Harris, Alun Armstrong, Simon Bubb, Charlie Eales

    The writer/star of Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, the funniest British horror TV series ever made, makes his feature debut with an unremittingly grim and bleak tale of mental health problems and child abuse. Philip returns to the run-down house where he grew up with his uncle. Awkward, socially uncomfortable and probably with learning difficulties, Philip carries everywhere a leather bag containing Possum, a large, weird puppet combining a replica of Philip’s own head with long spider legs. Recurring attempts to destroy Possum come to nought, suggesting it might not be real (as may other aspects of the film). Short on dialogue and action, with long, semi-static sequences on featureless Norfolk beaches, this challenging feature is the unholy offspring of David Lynch and MR James. Holness adapted his own short story, written for an anthology of tales inspired by Freud’s essay on the uncanny. Shot in November 2017, this debuted in Edinburgh in June 2018. If you enjoy movies that no-one else you know likes, this could be for you. Music by the Radiophonic Workshop!

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  • 11/29/18--00:02: Virus of the Dead

  • d./w. various; p. Tony Newton; cast: Mhairi Calvey, Nathan Head and many, many more

    Virus of the Dead could very well be the ultimate found footage zombie film. The 102 minutes is split into 30-odd fragments telling 22 nihilistic stories, all of which start out unhappy and conclude not much later bleakly and/or suddenly. There’s no first act of scene-setting normality, no strained “let’s film everything” justification. Everyone is either vainly filming their life when the undead attack or making a video message for posterity as ghoulish hordes scratch at the door. As a representation of a global society suddenly splintering into chaos and the immediate, arbitrary destruction of people’s lives, this is bang on the money. Though most of the segments are American, the project was conceived, curated, edited and produced by prolific anthologiser Newton, creator of Troma’s Grindsploitation series and co-creator of much of Trash Arts’ output. British contributors are Christopher Jolley (Whisper), Keiron Hollett (director of the unreleased Blood Curse), Dan Brownlie (Serial Kaller) and Newton himself. Return of the Living Dead 3 scripter John Penney and German trash legend Timo Rose also contribute segments. 

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  • 12/09/18--03:13: Morticia

  • d./w./p. Nabil Shaban; cast: Jenni Young, Karen Douglas, Ricky Callan, Nabil Shaban, Sofie Alonzi, Dolina Maclennan, Andrew Dallmeyer, James Tennant

    Interesting and worthwhile, despite low production values, Shaban’s only feature is a character study of a 12-year-old goth. Kylie, who prefers ‘Morticia’, is regarded as the local weirdo by children and adults alike. An able and intelligent child, her poetic school essay about wanting to become a vampire causes chaos when read out in class. She steals a paperback of Dracula from the library and reads it in a churchyard, then steals a bat from Edinburgh Zoo. Her bumptious mother and long-suffering father, a disabled Gulf War veteran, don’t know what to do with her. Eventually her romantic view of death is cracked by overhearing her dad talk about the women and children he was required to kill in Iraq. Right at the end, Dracula himself appears, probably a hallucination. Disabled actor Shaban (still fondly remembered for a role in 1980s Doctor Who) plays a psychologist. Night Kaleidoscope director Grant McPhee pops up in the credits as colourist. Shot in 2009, this premiered at a vampire film festival in October that year.

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    My master list contains 89 British horror features released during 2018. This is slightly down from last year's round-up, which I announced 12 months ago. (It was 107 films at the time but currently stands at 105 as I have discovered prior releases for a couple of titles). We’re still on course to hit a thousand films (since January 2000) sometime in the coming year.

    So: 89 feature films. How many have you seen? How many have you heard of? I've managed to catch 38 of these so far.

    As ever, I define a film as 'released in 2018' if this year saw the first chance for someone to watch the movie - whether in a cinema, on DVD, on demand or just posted on YouTube - without attending a special event. Some of these films played festivals or had other one-off screenings in 2017 or earlier years.)

    Please let me know of anything I've missed, or any other corrections.

    • Abduction 2: Revenge of the Hive Queen (Mol Smith)
    • Anna and the Apocalypse(John McPhail)
    • Apostle (Gareth Evans)
    • Assassin's Revenge(Richard Driscoll)
    • Attack of the Adult Babies (Dominic Brunt)
    • Auraaka The Exorcism of Karen Walker (Steve Lawson)
    • Await Further Instructions (Johnny Kevorkian)
    • The Bad Nun (Scott Jeffrey)
    • The Black Gloves (Lawrie Brewster)
    • The Book of Birdie(Elizabeth E Schuch)
    • Boots on the Ground(Louis Melville)
    • Calibre (Matt Palmer)
    • Cannibal Farmaka Escape from Cannibal Farm (Charlie Steeds)
    • Caught (Jamie Patterson)
    • Charismata(Andy Collier, Toor Mian)
    • Condemnedaka God’s Acre (JP Davidson)
    • Conspiracy X(Sam Mason Bell et al)
    • Curse of the Scarecrowaka Scarecrow Rising (Louisa Warren)
    • Curse of the Witch's Doll (Lawrence Fowler)
    • Dark Beacon(Corrie Greenop)
    • Dark Highlands(Mark Stirton)
    • Dark Vale (Jason MJ Brown)
    • Darkness Comes(David Newbigging)
    • The Demonic Dollaka The Demonic Tapes 2: The Doll (Richard Mansfield)
    • The Devil's Doorway(Aislinn Clarke)
    • Die Gest: Flesh Eater(Tony Newton et al)
    • Dogged (Richard Rowntree)
    • Dragon Kingdomaka Dark Kingdom (Simon Wells)
    • Fanged Up(Christian James)
    • The Ferryman(Elliott Maguire)
    • Fever aka Mountain Fever(Hendrik Faller)
    • Fox Trapaka Don’t Blink (Jamie Weston)
    • Fractured (Jamie Patterson)
    • Ghost Stories(Andy Nyman, Jeremy Dyson)
    • Gore Theatre(Sam Mason-Bell et al)
    • Grim Places(Jason Impey)
    • Grindhouse Nightmares(Richard Driscoll)
    • Habit (Simeon Halligan)
    • Halloween Hell Night(David Black et al)
    • Halloween in Hertford(Michael Curtis)
    • Harvest of the Dead(Peter Goddard)
    • Haunted 2: Apparitions (Steven M Smith)
    • Haunted 3: Spirits (Steven M Smith)
    • The Hell of Ween(Tom Stavely)
    • Home Videos(Jason Impey et al)
    • House of Salem(James Crow)
    • The House of Screaming Death (Alex Bourne et al)
    • The House of Violent Desire(Charlie Steeds)
    • The House on Mansfield Street (Richard Mansfield)
    • Jurassic Predator(Andrew Jones)
    • The Legend of Halloween Jack(Andrew Jones)
    • The Little Stranger(Lenny Abrahamson)
    • Mandy the Doll (Jamie Weston)
    • Maniacal (Sam Mason-Bell et al)
    • Mara (Clive Tonge)
    • Mask of Thorn (MJ Dixon)
    • Matriarch aka Mother (Scott Vickers)
    • Monochrome (Tom Lawes)
    • Monster (Matt Shaw)
    • Old Blood(Denise Channing)
    • Paranormal Farm 2: Closer to the Truth(Carl Medand)
    • Patient Zero(Stefan Ruzowitzky)
    • Polterheist (Paul Renhard, Dave Gilbank)
    • Possum(Matthew Holness)
    • Psychomanteum: Tales of the Dead (Ray Brady et al)
    • Pumpkins (Maria Lee Metheringham)
    • Recovery (Marcus Scott)
    • Redcon-1(Chee Keong Cheung)
    • The Redeeming (Brian Barnes)
    • The Revenge of Robert(Andrew Jones)
    • The Same Circles(Mark Garvey)
    • Shadow of the Missing (Jamie Lee Smith)
    • Sin (Self Induced Nightmares)(Dan Brownlie et al)
    • Slaughterhouse Rulez (Crispian Mills)
    • The Snarling(Pablo Raybould)
    • The Spawning(Simon Riley)
    • Tone Death(John Hickman, Roger Armstrong)
    • Toxic Schlock(Sam Mason-Bell, Tony Newton)
    • Trash Arts: Killers Vol.1 (Sam Mason Bell et al)
    • Twenty Twenty-Fouraka It Lives (Richard Mundy)
    • Virus of the Dead(Tony Newton et al)
    • The Wasting (Carolyn Saunders)
    • Webcast (Paul McGhie)
    • Welcome to Essex(Ryan J Fleming)
    • Welcome to Hell(Sam Mason Bell et al)
    • Where the Skin Lies(Michael Boucherie)
    • White Goods(Bazz Hancher)
    • Winterskin (Charlie Steeds)
    • Writers Retreat (Diego Rocha)

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  • 01/06/19--07:11: Finders Keepers

  • d. Adam Evans; w. Neil Morris, Gary Smart; p. Neil Morris, Gary Smart, Christopher Griffiths, Adam Evans, Stuart Conran; cast: Mark Wingett, Stanley Rawlings, Bruce Jones, Oliver Smith, Kenneth Cranham, Simon Bamford, Neil Cole, Corin Silva, Ethan McKinley

    The third entry in the Dark Ditties series is the blackest of black comedies, a 45-minute gory crime thriller which feels like someone cast the Chuckle Brothers in a remake of The Long Good Friday. Two gangsters are searching for a minor accomplice who jumped out of a car with a valuable briefcase chained to his wrist. Two bickering brothers doing a spot of poaching find the briefcase and body and set about seeing what they’ve got… This is a cracking film for sure, but what makes this series so successful? It’s partly the beautifully crafted scripts and adroit direction which introduce us to fascinating, distinctive characters and their thoroughly believable relationships. It’s partly the care that is taken over all the technical aspects: the photography, sound, editing as well as production design, costumes, make-up and of course the prosthetic effects. But mostly it’s the use of solid, professional, experienced casts who imbue these characters with life. On Amazon Prime later this month, DD3: Finders Keepers is unreservedly recommended. DD4: The Witching House is on the way.

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    d. Steven M Smith; w. Steven M Smith, Christopher Jolley; p. Steven M Smith, Jon-Paul Gates; cast: Zach Clifford, Rad Brown, Sonera Angel, Garry Roost, Kit Pascoe, Jon-Paul Gates, Matthew Fitzthomas Rogers, Georgi Taylor Wills, Anastasia Cane

    The late 2010s has brought us micro-genres dedicated to the ‘most haunted house in England’ and supernatural nuns. This latest title from Smith ticks both boxes and underlines his own steady improvement. Where The Howling had some fine moments, this genuinely spooky ghost tale is his first consistently good feature, easily eclipsing both North Bank Entertainment’s A Haunting at the Rectory and Proportion Productions’ The Bad Nun. Clifford (an Aussie) is excellent as an injured GI in 1944, assigned to monitor radio traffic from a country cottage. He has disturbing dreams and visions which he believes are connected with a nearby derelict rectory so calls in Borley expert Harry Price (Brown, director of unreleased 2016 horror feature Last Weekend). Excellent period detail – including some corking 1940s hairstyles – is enhanced by Peter Panoa’s terrific photography (but briefly let down by an anachronistically unshaven British officer). Shot in Devon and Essex in 2018.