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

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EXCISION (Monster Pictures) (DVD)
EXCISION (Monster Pictures) (DVD)
Dvd ~ AnnaLynne McCord
Offered by bestmediagroup
Price: £5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars The last cut is the deepest!, 23 Oct 2014
AnnaLynne McCord stars as Pauline, a disturbed high school misfit who has delusions of becoming a surgeon. Dominated by her over bearing mother, Pauline battles with her sanity and unhealthy obsessions.

Superb, a teen based horror that’s pungent with everything from necrophilia, growing pains, peer pressure, sexual anxiety, parental strife, mental illness and horror – real horror. Writer/director Richard Bates Junior does a brilliant job of filling an 80 minute movie with so many thematic smarts but never once over egging his bloody pudding. He gets excellent performances out of McCord and Traci Lords (as Pauline’s mother), whilst the blending of surreal imagery via Pauline’s dreams and the real world awkwardness – with some dry humour in the mix too – produces a picture that is in equal parts oddball and emotionally shattering.

When Dead Ringers collides with Ginger Snaps, Excision will stay with you for days afterwards. 9/10

Drifter: Henry Lee Lucas [DVD] [2009] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Drifter: Henry Lee Lucas [DVD] [2009] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Antonio Sabato Jr.
Offered by supermart_usa
Price: £5.71

2.0 out of 5 stars Drifter, Shifter, Fanciful Mister., 23 Oct 2014
Serial killer movies have become two a penny, it feels like at least a couple come out each year. This one, directed by Michael Feifer, just feels like old hat, like it is treading water to make a point that has been made a hundred times before. It doesn’t help that Henry Lee Lucas has already been covered in brilliantly grainy fashion previously with John McNaughton’s 1990 skin itcher Henry: Portrait OF A Serial Killer, which quite frankly is superior to this in every department. On the plus side are the performances of Antonio Sabato Jr. (Henry) and Kostas Sommer (Ottis), where the former is broody and twitchy, the latter hyper insane, but ultimately it achieves nothing. Kudos, however, is due for at least cleaving close to what facts of the case are known to be true. 4/10

Grace [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Grace [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Jordan Ladd
Offered by supermart_usa
Price: £5.96

4.0 out of 5 stars This childbirth thing is murder you know!, 23 Oct 2014
Oh no, not another evil child horror film I hear you cry! Yet there’s something very fresh about Paul Solet’s movie, it’s deeply unsettling but emotionally complex, even gnawing away at our inner built capacities for empathy and sympathy.

Jordan Ladd plays the mother of the piece, hit with personal tragedy time and time again, her will is tested to the limit when a car crash strips her of her husband and renders the baby she is carrying as being a sure case of still born. But she’s determined to carry it to term, and when she literally wills the dead child alive, it responds in kind and becomes Grace, the miracle baby…

What follows is the disintegration of Ladd’s character and of the key characters around her. Meditations on grief are heavy but richly so, as is the nods to post-natal depression. The horror elements are strong, as baby Grace shows a thirst for something other than milk, and the slow-burn approach favoured by Solet pays off with a final quarter of heartbreaking devilment. Cast are dandy, especially a very committed Ladd, while other tech credits keep the film very much in the upper echelons of this sub-genre of horror. 8.5/10

Cropsey [DVD] [2009] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Cropsey [DVD] [2009] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Barbara Brancaccio
Offered by supermart_usa
Price: £5.52

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

2 of 2 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
Price: £5.99

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
Offered by passionFlix UK
Price: £4.46

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

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