Saturday, 27 September 2014

Review - All Cheerleaders Die (2013)

 photo MV5BMTU4Nzg4NjY1OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzk1NTU1MTE_V1_SX214_AL__zps0660ba08.jpg

This latest release from Lucky McKee, the man who brought us the fantastic The Woman and the very original May, and co-director Chris Sivertson (The Lost) strays from their more serious tone and delivers us a new take on the slasher movie.

The story centers around Maddy, a high school student, as she attempts to infiltrate the slimy world of cheerleading and jocks at her school.

After a very memorable opening the story flows along at a great pace, never feeling bogged down by itself but avoiding feeling rushed, and the audience is kept interested with some nice plot developments and twists.

The actors do a solid job all around, and in particular the female leads are way above par for this type of production. Caitlin Stasey did a great job as Maddy, and I am definitely looking forward to seeing her develop her career, hopefully in horror. Okay some of the SFX look a little basic, but the movie didn’t have a huge budget and it really doesn’t detract from the film.

We are treated to some of the silliness that is expected of a film from this sub-genre, and of course not all of the decisions the characters take are logical, but the way the film is made is reminiscent of some of the best teen horror of the 90’s, which for me can only be a good thing.

The biggest plus for me is that the directors have imbued a definite feminist slant into the movie, which is something I absolutely love, and something that can be found in Lucky McKee’s other work. In a similar vein to Chastity Bites (also recommended), the directors have taken a familiar concept and updated and revived it, to provide audiences with a fresh angle, and I think making horror, particularly slashers, more empowering to women can only ever be a good thing.

The obligatory teen-horror tropes are there, the pretty cheerleaders, the jocks, making the whole setup feel comfortingly familiar to those of us who are partial to a good slasher. But McKee uses his talents to nicely subvert the traditional ‘pretty girl gets slashed to bits’ thread and provide us with an entertaining watching experience in the company of some female lead characters who seem distinct, more than mere stereotypes. You grow to like them, particularly Maddy, Caitlin Stasey’s character, which is more than can be said for many female characters in slasher movies. Maddy and Leena in particular appear to be rounded characters, with something about them which will hopefully provide strength of character for the next installments of this.

The gore was minimal but well done, and the adding of supernatural elements to a traditional slasher film really worked. Think The Craft meets Friday the 13th but updated for the 21st century and that is what All Cheerleaders Die feels like.

It won’t revolutionise the horror world, and it certainly isn’t ‘serious’ horror, but if you’re looking for a movie to have a laugh with, and one that is a little different from the norm, then you could do far worse than All Cheerleaders Die. Recommended.

 photo 7_zps4868c126.jpg

Monday, 22 September 2014

Grimmfest 2014

Grimmfest, one of the North’s finest horror spectaculars, is rapidly approaching, so I put together this little list of my most anticipated films. Alongside a whopping 25 feature films, Grimmfest also screens the best in horror short movies too. After the event I’ll be posting reviews of all the movies, along with the shorts, so keep checking back.

Full details including how to purchase tickets can be found on the Grimmfest site here , and for an IMDB list of all the movies, so you can pile those badboys into your Watchlist, click right here

And without further ado, here are my top picks for my most anticipated features at Grimmfest '14.

This is the big one – my absolute most anticipated screening of Grimmfest ’14 is of the utter masterpiece that is Argento’s Suspiria, with live score by Goblin. So many of my US horror buddies are crazy jealous of this one and I can see why – excitement does not cover it! This will be my first time seeing Argento large-screen and I am buzzing with anticipation! The movie needs no introduction, and as if seeing this glorious work of art accompanied by Goblin were not enough, they are following it up by also performing live to Argento’s cut of Dawn of the Dead. It’s like all my horror dreams have come true at once, be still my horror-loving heart.

Okay so obviously this first one isn't a first watch, but it will be my first time seeing it on the big screen and I am absolutely stoked for it. For me one of the finest horror movies of the 80’s, this is the one that first introduced us to Freddy and I think seeing it big screen with a room full of horror aficionados .

This first feature length film from director Jennifer Kent has been on my radar for a while. Low budget, partly crowd funded and picking up some very handsome reviews from all quarters, I am excited to finally get to see it. I’m a big supporter of women in horror and most of the female-directed efforts I have seen recently have not disappointed – hopefully this supernatural effort will pull in more rave reviews from the Grimmfest crowd. I’ll certainly let you know!

Spanish-language horror is at the top of the horror game for me right now. Los Ojos de Julia, Sleep Tight and Secuestrados are just three of the movies that I recommend over and over because they are quality examples of the merits of this new breed of horror. The House at the End of Time / La Casa Del Fin De Los Tiempos is the first supernatural horror movie to come out of Venezuela and I am itching to see it. The movie takes place in an old house, and we follow the protagonist Dulce as she returns to her family home to confront a years old mystery. Sounds like a recipe for another spine-tinglingly atmospheric piece of horror to me!

I love slasher movies, and have never made a secret of the fact that I enjoy a lot of the movies in the so-called ‘torture porn’ sub-genre, so this new movie from Jessica Cameron should be right up my dead-end alley! The film follows a group of teens who have found internet fame and show us what happens when one of their fans turns deadly. Cameron wrote, produced, directed and starred in Truth or Dare, and it looks like it should be a fun movie, a highlight of Grimmfest’s fringe event celebrating women in horror.
Playing alongside Truth or Dare is the short film ‘She’ from Chelsey Burdon and Mark Vessey. A violent, female-fronted revenge short this is one I have been dying to see since I heard about it. My most anticipated short film of the festival. Both directors are well worth a follow on Twitter too, check them out here: 

I was a huge fan of Richard Bates Jr’s fabulous EXCISION in fact it was one of my films of the year last year, so I am really looking forward to this new movie from him. A great cast list has also upped my interest in this production, and if it turns out to be only half as original, horrifying and captivating as Excision was, then I’ll be happy after this screening. 

Horror comedies always go down well at festivals, there’s something about sitting in a room full of people that somehow makes them even funnier, and this offering from New Zealand looks set to be a real fun watch. The comedic gem at horror fests last year was another from down under, 100 Bloody Acres, and I’m hoping that Housebound carries on that good run of form.

I, along with most, had a great time with the original Dead Snow, and whilst I tend to be a bit cynical of so many releases bringing out a sequel in recent times, I do think that this is a series which has legs. The first was a thoroughly entertaining and gratifyingly blood-soaked experience, and I’m anticipating more of the same blood-on-snow goodness from Red vs. Dead.

Writing this has revved my excitement up to fever pitch for Grimmfest, and I can’t wait to be in Manchester with the rest of the crazy, twisted horror aficionados next week! I have tickets for every single film, a whopping 25 feature films and numerous shorts. It’s a test of my horror stamina, and you can check out my adventures over on my Twitter.
Let me know what you’re looking forward to if you’re going, and if not what you’d choose to see at Grimmfest ’14! You can check out my reviews of everything here when I get back
HQ x

Friday, 11 April 2014

Review - Stage Fright (2014)

Stage Fright is a horror-musical hybrid, which gives us a new interpretation of the slasher sub-genre. 

Featuring a brief cameo by Minnie Driver and a very decent performance from Meatloaf, this unpretentious take on a camp-based horror is entertaining, funny and gory, and never pretends to be anything it's not.

A lot of slasher films nowadays try to be ironic, slick and relevant; by dealing with a group of "theatre geeks" and by making the central storyline revolve around the theatre, 'Stage Fright' thankfully tends to avoid those pitfalls, and doesn't try to be too edgy or clever.

I enjoy musical theatre; an odd choice to compliment my love of horror? Well, maybe. Even so, the shoutouts to famous musicals in this are fun and certainly raise a smile, and I think any horror fan who appreciates humour alongside their gore won't feel out of place with this. There are also some throwbacks to a couple of classic horror movies which I always enjoy. 

It featured a few inventive set-piece kills (being light on the gore for the first act or so, they ramp it up quite a bit for the finale), which, along with the humour definitely reminded me a bit of Sleepaway Camp, which is a big compliment in my opinion. The songs themselves were amusing and quite catchy, and the atmosphere lent it that glorious atmosphere of the good old times of cheesy 80's horror. The acting ranged from decent to just okay, but that's not why we watch these movies. And the reveal was surprisingly satisfying, concluding in a neat little package which will certainly have me returning for a re-watch. 

Oh, and it also has a killer 80's-throwback poster.
I had fun with it. Of course it's not the next greatest thing in horror, and if you're looking for genuine suspense or a serious horror movie, go try another aisle (Spanish horror might hold a lot for you). But as a fun Friday night flick, it delivers. It made me laugh more than once, I didn't forsee the reveal, and it actually made me jump (okay, only once, but I love when that happens). I say check it out, and let me know what you think. 

My rating: 6.5/10

Thursday, 13 March 2014

New Direction

Hi guys,

I know it's been a fallow few months on here of late, I've been working like a fool and trying to do my degree too, so it's left little tie for horror watching, let alone blogging!

But I'm in a place now where I can watch more horror, and hopefully write about more horror, and for a while at least this blog is going to be more focussed on up-and-coming horror movies/directors/actors etc. I'm going to try to review an indie horror movie or project per week, and then if I get chance throw some other more mainstream horror reviews out too.

There's loads of new blood in horror at the moment, and I'm hoping to splatter some around here in a delightfully gory manner

Thanks for sticking with me, and I hope you check out some of the really cool work that's going on in the indie horror scene.

Oh yeah, and I'll be writing some reviews/articles over at soon too

Stay horrific my beauties ;)

HQ x

Friday, 3 January 2014

Happy New Year!

I'd like to wish everyone a Happy New Year and I hope you've all enjoyed the holidays, and perhaps even got a few horror related gifts to enjoy the new year with!

2013 brought me a lot in terms of horror movie goodness and improving my knowledge about the genre I love. I completed my 365 challenge with a good handful of films to spare - in total I watched 400 horror movies, some were unbelievably good, a lot more were average and some were plain terrible. 

This week I'll bring you two lists - one being the best films I have seen all year, from any year and country, as long as they were first watches for me in 2013. Hopefully this will give you a couple of obscure gems that I would recommend anyone check out. 

The second will be the best horror movies released in 2013. It was a pretty prolific year, and some of the films I saw were truly brilliant. I may even add in a bonus few films that were so bad they need mentioning, even if only to save others from having to endure them (Osombie, I'm looking at you o_o) 

As for next year, I will be aiming to complete another 365 horror challenge, along with using this blog to promote or review more indie projects - there is a lot of quality out there in the indie horror market right now and I'm really excited to start talking about some of these right here.

Thanks to all who read this blog, I'm hoping to be much more active here in 2014 and here's to a happy horror loving 2014 for us all!