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Spike Owen "John Rouse Merriott Chard" (Birmingham, England.)

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Cropsey [DVD] [2009] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Cropsey [DVD] [2009] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Barbara Brancaccio
Offered by supermart_usa
Price: £5.86

5.0 out of 5 stars The Facts or the Folklore?, 22 Oct 2014
What is a Cropsey? A Cropsey is the name given to a bogeyman used to frighten children by way of safe education (stay away from that place/that man/them woods etc). When Joshua Zeman and Barbara Brancaccio grew up they learnt that their Cropsey was in fact real. Or was he?

Andre Rand was a convicted child kidnapper from Staten Island who is strongly suspected to have committed a number of child kidnappings and murders between 1972 and 1987. Most of the missing children were special needs cases, and with Rand having close ties to Willowbrook State School, a sorry place for the mentally ill thats conditions were exposed by Geraldo Rivera’s infamous documentary in 1972, and his known living arrangements out in the Greenbelt Woods around Willowbrook, he seemed the likely culprit for sure.

Zeman and Brancaccio do a sterling job of piecing together all available evidence and reports involving Rand, including interviews with family and friends of the missing children and the detectives who worked on the case. They even have epistle contact with Rand as they try to arrange a meeting with their very own bogeyman. The footage and stories involving Willowbrook are skin crawlingly effective, the visits to the ruins of the place equally creepy.

We constantly see pictures of the missing children, and that of the only one who was found, murdered, close to one of Rand’s makeshift campsites. These are real horrors in this horror film, and they cut the psyche like a knife. Unfortunately the makers lose a little focus in the final third, as more revelations and accusations enter the debate some of the unease wears off, the doc gets chocked as it were, and some of the harsh realities are replaced by fanciful supposition.

Still, in the main this is a tremendous documentary, challenging and unbiased. It could just have been Zeman and Brancaccio walking around interviewing the usual suspects et al, but they go deeper than that to leave a lasting impression on both the mind and the soul. 8.5/10

Splinter [DVD]
Splinter [DVD]
Dvd ~ Shea Whigham
Offered by WorldCinema
Price: £3.55

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ouch!, 19 Oct 2014
This review is from: Splinter [DVD] (DVD)
Smart little horror this, what it lacks in story originality it more than makes up for elsewhere.

Young lovers Seth (Paulo Costanzo) and Polly (Jill Wagner) find their attempts at a romantic camping trip usurped by their inadequacies in the great outdoors. But this soon becomes the very least of their problems, because they are car-jacked by escaped convict Dennis Farell (Shea Whigham) and his drug addict girlfriend Lacey Belisle (Rachel Kerbs). When they run over what they think is an animal of some sort, it signals the start of a terrifying ordeal that will see the group backed into the interior of a gas station and forced to fight for their lives.

What follows is a solid hour of suspense, terror, horrifying scenes and rich character dynamics. It's a siege situation with the enemy some sort of porcupine - vegetable - human hybrid, and it's relentless and clever. Director Toby Wilkins doesn't once let the picture sag or suffer from filler, all scenes and character interactions are integral to the plotting. Mercifully free of characters doing the dumb things that are so inherent in this splinter (hrr hrr hrr) of horror, Wilkins' film is consistently effective in what it wants to achieve.

The effects are kept to a minimum and the only real complaint is that for every attack by the creature we are subjected to shakycam. If this is to hide the effects work we don't know? And it's always great to have a horror assailant be used sparingly on a visual level, but the shakycam becomes annoying and feels like a bit of a cheat in the final quarter. The small cast offer up some sterling performances, with Whigham standing out as the hateful villain, while Nelson Cragg's photography strips the colours down to primal indie level and the film is better for it.

A pleasant surprise and recommended to horror fans after a quick and bloody siege horror that never disappoints. 8/10

Dvd ~ Dennis Price, David Warbeck, Madeleine Collinson, Mary Collinson,Damien Thomas, Katya Wyeth, Peter Cushing

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The evil that men do., 19 Oct 2014
The final part of Hammer Films Karnstein Trilogy is in keeping with what made the studios output so readily embraced by the horror faithful. Based on characters created by Sheridan Le Fanu, Hammer take one of their vampire movies and add puritan witch-finding into the mix as well.

Upon the death of their parents identical twins Maria and Frieda Gellhorn are relocated to Karnstein in Central Europe to live with their Uncle Gustav Weil. Weil is a stern puritan who leads a fanatical bunch of witch-hunters known as the Brotherhood, this is a problem because the twins are going through sexual awakenings. Opposing the Brotherhood is the aristocracy, headed by Count Karnstein, a man of debauchery who is soon to sell his soul to the devil and drag one of the Gellhorn twins with him…

It would be easy to assume that the twins of evil of the title are the two girls, here played with a nifty gimmick by real life playboy twins Mary and Madeline Collinson, but it’s not the case. The girls are in the middle of two evils, wicked men on either side of them, God and Satan their respective keepers. This coupled with the political and religious sub-texts bubbling away, makes this a narratively smart picture.

Production values are high, with the smart period design and costuming given an atmospheric sheen by cinematographer Dick Bush. Director John Hough provides solid direction and smooth camera work, while Harry Robertson’s music has the requisite olde world gothic about it.

Peter Cushing heads the cast superbly as Weil, looking gaunt due to his personal tragedy, he mesmerises as a man increasingly crumbling under the weight of emotional confliction. Dennis Price others sturdy support but is done no favours by the writer (Tudour Gates) as he is under developed, while the twins themselves, their voices dubbed, are fine and able to put enough of a different slant on their characters for us viewers to know which one is which. Damien Thomas’ lustily fanged count is not a particularly striking villain, and David Warbeck as the normal love interest is too weak an actor to convince in the role.

One of the better horrors from Hammer’s 70s output. 7/10

Deep Red [DVD]
Deep Red [DVD]
Dvd ~ David Hemmings
Price: £2.90

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ocular Bonanza., 19 Oct 2014
This review is from: Deep Red [DVD] (DVD)
When a psychic is murdered after picking up the thoughts of a psychotic killer, Marcus Day is the only witness to the crime and sets about trying to figure out who is responsible. But he then finds that the killer is shadowing him and targeting anyone who files in to help his investigation.

Dario Argento's Deep Red (AKA: Profundo Rosso/The Hatchet Murders) is rightly regarded as one of the leading lights of Giallo. Argento pitches Marcus Day (David Hemmings working from a splinter of Blow Up) into a rousing and visceral world of murder and mystery - and takes the viewers along as well! It doesn't matter what time of day or night it is, Argento always has a sinister edge pulsing through his movie. The mystery element is also strong, including for first time viewers a cheeky opportunity to solve it very early on.

Painting it all in vivid coloured strokes, Argento unleashes a myriad of stylish sequences, adding in children's toys and mannequins to further up the creep factor. Musically not all of it works, but the running children's thematic motif works strikingly well. Negatively the dubbing is often iffy at best and some of the now infamous murder sequences veer close to comedy because the director allows them to be protracted.

Uncompromising, thrilling and striking, some quibbles aside, Deep Red is a very positive experience. 8.5/10

Scorned [DVD]
Scorned [DVD]
Dvd ~ Mark Jones
Price: £9.24

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Is scorned nicely adorned?, 19 Oct 2014
This review is from: Scorned [DVD] (DVD)
Directed and co-written by Mark Jones, Scorned adds nothing new to a well worn sub-genre of horror, that of the vengeful female unleashing hell after becoming victim to infidelity etc. Approaching this with any sort of hope for a bar raiser will only induce a crushing disappointment, but if able to accept it on its formulaic terms then it's a good torture porn time waster.

Plot finds AnnaLynne McCord as the woman scorned, her beau, played by Billy Zane, has been cheating on her with her best friend, Viva Bianca. Caught out by incriminating text messages, she lures the cheaters to an idyllic retreat and subsequently tortures them at will. The narrative drip feeds a troubled childhood angle into the mix, while there's some twists and turns to keep things lively in the final third. Tech credits are more than adequate, while performances from the three principles also scrub up nicely for the material to hand. 6.5/10

Cujo [DVD]
Cujo [DVD]
Dvd ~ Dee Wallace
Offered by WorldCinema
Price: £9.98

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Barmy Bernard., 19 Oct 2014
This review is from: Cujo [DVD] (DVD)
Stephen King's Cujo was brought to the screen and met with indifference back in 1983, yet it has aged surprisingly well and comes out as one of the better "mad animal" movies that followed in the wake of Jaws.

A big cuddly St. Bernard dog is bitten on the nose by a bat, cops a serious bout of Hydrophobia and then terrorises anyone in its path. Which spells bad news for Donna Trenton (Dee Wallace) and her young son Tad (Danny Pintauro), who have the misfortune to be stuck in a battered old Pinto that has broken down in Cujo's territory.

Lewis Teague directs with no little skill here, wringing out pot loads of tension and inserting genuine moments of terror as mother and son literally fight for their lives. There's a school of thought that the film's first half could have been trimmed, for this is the area that defines the Trenton's as a family.

Donna has been having an affair and her husband Vic (Daniel Hugh-Kelly) has found out, so for forty minutes we are investing in family strife and foundation building of the key characters. This is judged perfectly, because once Cujo is unleashed on Donna and Tad, it throws up a number of emotional connections to not only the humans, but also the dog as well.

Wallace and Pintauro are excellent, providing the film with its beating heart as they prove to be a believable mother & son pairing. Teague meanwhile uses some invention with his camera work, though never to the detriment of claustrophobic terror. Elements of the source novel have been left out, while the ending - unfortunately in this viewer's opinion - has been changed, but this is a tightly wound horror and it's well due re-evaluation in this day and age of franchise sequels and remakes.

Could have done with more of those bats though, they are awesome! 8/10

Psycho 2 [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Psycho 2 [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Anthony Perkins
Price: £3.94

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars We all go a little sequel crazy sometimes., 19 Oct 2014
22 years after the murderous and maniacal events at Bates Motel, Norman Bates, freshly released from a mental institution, is back home; and the spectre of ”Mother” is waiting to greet him.

We could say it was a cynical attempt at latching onto the coat tails of the 1980s slasher boom, but in spite of having the unenviable task of being a sequel to a masterpiece, Psycho II is a rather nifty sequel.

Director Richard Franklin is helped by having Anthony Perkins and Vera Miles heading up the cast list, this gives the film instant credibility, and while the mighty spectre of Hitchcock looms large, Franklin doesn’t copy the maestro and brings his own visual smarts to the piece.

Tom Holland’s screenplay doesn’t mimic either, expanding the Bates story with a series of quality twists whilst keeping the mystery element strong and the gripping factor on the high heat. Dean Cundey (cinematography) and Jerry Goldsmith (music) round out the strong points of the film’s tech credits.

Not to be dismissed as a lazy cash in, this is well worth a look. Great ending as well! 7/10

The Frozen Dead [DVD] [1966] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
The Frozen Dead [DVD] [1966] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Dana Andrews
Price: £11.33

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Ice Reich Baby!, 18 Oct 2014
British sci-fier that's utterly mad and quite awful at times, yet for fans of "B" movie schlockers from days of yore there's enough boldness and charm to warrant a look.

In short order the plot entails a nutty scientist planning to revive frozen Nazis to kick start a new world order. Dana Andrews is the name actor in the lead role, complete with bad German accent, and Kathleen Breck is the star performer playing a head in a box; a victim of the mad scientists moving throughout the madness. It's all very silly and the fact that Andrews and company are taking it serious further induces the mirth factor. The effects work is a very mixed bag, but always fun, while there are some genuinely great scenes involving the frozen corpses, a wall of moving arms and every scene that Breck's head is involved in. None more so with the latter for the truly haunting ending. 2/10

Death Tunnel [DVD] [2006]
Death Tunnel [DVD] [2006]
Dvd ~ Steffany Huckaby
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £2.73

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Just Death., 18 Oct 2014
This review is from: Death Tunnel [DVD] [2006] (DVD)
1928, Kentucky. A horrific disease known as "The White Plague" claimed over 63,000 lives. A monstrous sanatorium was built to isolate the infected and play host to bizarre experiments in desperation to find a cure. Unable to cope with the large amount of corpses, a five hundred foot underground tunnel was constructed for the removal of these bodies, hiding the enormous death toll from the rest of the outside world. This was called "The Death Tunnel".

The above opening salvo from Death Tunnel and the stories doing the rounds about spooky stuff happening during filming, are significantly better than the actual film. All things are in place for a rollicking haunted building movie, a genuinely creepy location with a bleak history (The Waverly Hills Sanatorium in Louisville, Kentucky), a young and pretty cast lining up to be terrified and continuing stories of real hauntings in the vicinity. What transpires, sadly, is a desperately derivative picture made worse by a group of film makers who on this occasion are out of their depth.

The writing doesn't give the characters any depth to begin with, and then they are thrust into the horrors of the sanatorium and we are supposed to invest in them. Tension is in short supply as the same old same old routine of the girls walking around scared quickly gets dull. The editing and intrusive camera work shows a rookie director (Philip Adrian Booth) let loose unsupervised, making his film seem more like an over extended rock video by some Death Metal band. There's no pausing for breath, something which makes the haphazard structure of the plotting even more baffling. While of course screeching levels of volume are over used throughout as Booth and company crib from a number of other - and better - horror movies.

IMDb ratings are rarely a true measure of quality for films, especially with a diverse genre such as horror, yet Death Tunnel's rating of 2.7/10 is very very appropriate. The brains trust behind this movie could have done no worse than learning from Brad Anderson's superb Session 9. Philip Booth and his brother Chris clearly love horror, but their subsequent genre films will need restraint and thought in equal measure. 2/10

Rabid [1977] [DVD]
Rabid [1977] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Marilyn Chambers
Offered by WorldCinema
Price: £6.36

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hydrophobic Induced Phallic Destroyer., 16 Oct 2014
This review is from: Rabid [1977] [DVD] (DVD)
Rabid is written and directed by David Cronenberg and it stars Marilyn Chambers, Frank Moore and Joe Silver. Cinematography is by Rene Verzier and music by Ivan Reitman.

When Rose (Chambers) is involved in a horror motorcycle accident, she undertakes experimental surgery in order to save her life. However, she develops a taste for blood and has grown a deadly orifice under her armpit. As the victims stack up and Rose grows ever more insane, the city is put on red alert.

David Cronenberg’s second full-length film continues the themes found in his smart debut Shivers from the previous year. Body horror and disease come to the fore but Cronenberg expands it out from the confines of one building, into a whole city! Once again operating with a small budget with great results, the director fills out the narrative with sweaty virus panic, intelligent barbs, addiction concerns and visceral nastiness, with the phallic destroyer under Rose’s arm a frighteningly bonkers creation. True to the director’s career peccadilloes, sex and violence also come under the microscope, while his camera work shows an inventiveness that off-sets the poor effects work. The city is suitably painted as dowdy so as to run concurrent with the diseased narrative, and porn star Chambers gives a very effective performance while others are merely adequate.

A simple story and periods of sag and drag stop it being top of the line Cronenberg, but there’s a raw energy to Rabid that is most striking. Watching it now as it heads towards being four decades old, it signals with intent a career being born of a most skilled auteur. 7/10

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