Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Top 6: Killer Animal Films

On Sunday 7th April at The Roxy Bar and Theatre, Classic Horror Campaign are holding another fun filled Double Bill. This time it's a Double Creature Feature of 'Murders in the Zoo' and 'Day of the Animals.'

With that in mind, make yourself a drink, put the pets outdoors and settle down with the Fright Writer Top 6 Killer Animals Films. This list is strictly for real life beast only, no aliens, fantasy creatures, make believe monsters or anthromorphic animals.
Joe Dante's fish feeding frenzy film clearly apes Jaws, resort owner Buck Gardner is clear an imitation of Mayor Larry Vaughan. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and even Piranha's tagline references it's predecessor; Then... you were shocked by the great white shark - Now... you are at the mercy of 1000 jaws! Alexandre Aja ramped up the comedy in his remake in 2010.
Lake Placid
A much underrated comedy horror. A giant crocodile starts picking off tourists and rag tag group are sent to investigate. No man, woman, cow or bear is safe from this killer croc.

A product of the 1950s nuclear fears, Them! is about ants mutated into giant, man-eating insects by atomic testing in New Mexico. Without doubt, the best of the many bug films of the time and featured in a previous Classic Horror Campaign event.

The Birds
Alfred Hitchcock's adaptation of Daphne Du Maurier sees him link up with his muse Tippi Hedren for the first time. The sheer terror of a usually placid animal turned violent and in Hitch's inimitable style leads for an unforgettable classic.

Jurassic Park
Sorry fundamentalists, dinosaurs did exist and nobody brought them to life on screen quite like Spielberg. From the first jaw dropping scene that we see the dinosaurs flocking through fields, Jurassic Park is a breathtaking ride not least the heart stopping T-rex attack.

Another Spielberg classic that may not only be the best creature feature of all time, but may just be the greatest horror film of all time. Based on Peter Benchley's novel of the same name, Jaws was arguably the original summer blockbuster and marked a turning point in American cinema.

And that's the Top 6 Killer Animal Films list. To feel the full force of animal fear be sure to get your tickets to the Double Creature Feature now.

Video Nasties: Part 2?

A certain, unwanted renaissance is happening throughout Britain. With a neo-Thatcherite government, the worst of the 70s and 80s is slowly seeping into everyday life.

Along side the cuts, strikes and recessions, another, more subtle beast is rearing it's hideous head. Could the latest interloper be the return of the video nasty legislation?
The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) has powers to effectively ban films to protect the public from films that "pose a real, as opposed to a fanciful, risk [to] potential viewers." I, personally, have a problem with this concept. I don't believe that, as an adult, any board (government run or otherwise) should decide what I am allowed to watch. However, that is not what this about.

In 2010, the BBFC demanded that 'A Serbian Film' cut over 4 minutes of footage in order to obtain an 18 certificate. It was the largest cuts ordered in over 16 years. A year later, Tom Six's 'The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence)' was refused any classification and told that no amount of cuts could redeem it. After an appeal from distributors, the BBFC changed their stance and some 32 cuts laters, granted a certificate.
This is just part of the what may be to come though. Recently, the media as continued to ramp up the links between horror films and vicious crimes. Headlines scream them out to a baying, misunderstanding, misinformed public; "Sadistic Horror Film Fan," "Saw Torture Film Fan," "Horror Fan Jailed." The media, including some very respectable streams, regurgitate the phrase like it is a driving force or motivation.
In a recent case, a judge went so far as to mention it in court, sighting Australian film "The Loved Ones" and comparing a murder to a scene from the film. It is a worrying trend that is building in a society easily lead by a media that often puts sensationalism before responsibility and as history shows, it is not always the reasonable opinion that gets heard, but the loudest and often most hysterical.

Public hysteria coupled with and over zealous certificate board could lead to disasterous consequences for horror. Hopefully, common sense will prevail before such actions commence, but common sense has so far been absent in most other decisions.

So, be aware, you may sit at home and watch horror films right now, but who knows what evil may be lurking around the next corner. Maybe, even another Mary Whitehouse lies in waiting.

With that in mind I guide you to the BBFC Guidelines Review 2013, your chance to input your opinions on the classification process, I implore you to have your say.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Book Review: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies - Jane Austen & Seth Grahame-Smith

When I was in school I hated 'Pride and Prejudice.' To me it was 'chick-lit' and no matter how long ago or how well it was written, that did not change. Truth be told, I still don't much care for it now.

How would I have felt, however, if Austen had added some shuffling, flesh-munching corpses to the mix? Thankfully, Seth Grahame-Smith answers that age old question with 'Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.'

The answer is that it certainly makes it more fun and more silly, even if the joke wears a little thin as Grahame-Smith pushes too far at times.

Any schoolboy or girl with little interest of Austen's work forced to sit in English Lit classes (of which there are many I'm sure) will wish this had made the syllabus.

The idea is sometimes too far, but simplified it could be easily and joyously adapted for the screen and if rumours of Natalie Portman's involvement prove to be true, all the better. Hopefully, Portman will be involved in front of the camera as well as behind the scenes and could give some real quality to the Bennet role.

Should the film ever reach the cinema, the tagline is surely already written... "The Good Lord saw fit to close the gates of Hell and doom the dead to walk among us."

Witching and Bitching!

Occasionally, in the dark and grisly world of horror, something catches my eye. Amid the generic nonsense, pointless remakes or unwanted sequels, something fresh and original grabs you like the boogeyman under your bed and won't let you go.

Sometimes it's a trailer, sometimes artwork, sometimes a mere concept or tagline is enough. For me, these films are often from mainland Europe. With that in mind, I present to you 'Witching and Bitching.' A film that appears to be as frantically, crazy as the title suggests.

The latest film from Spanish director Álex de la Iglesia, who is fast creating a reputation for himself in his homeland with his unique black comedies. If the trailer is anything to go by, this film will only serve to enhance it.

The trailer is one crazy image after the next, from Jesus with a shotgun to hands reaching from the toilet via flashing nuns. Delightfully madcap and deliciously shot, Las brujas de Zugarramurdi (Literally translated as 'The Witches of Zugarramurdi') tells the tale of a crew desperate man who steal 25,000 gold rings. Antonio (whose wife lets them down dramatically) and Jose, with his son in tow. When things go awry the group run make a break from the police only to run into a horde of crazed women with a taste for flesh. 
If the film is half as brilliant as the trailer suggests then it is rocketing toward the top of my "must watch" list.

Thank God for Spanish horror films. Viva Espana!

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Top 6: Irish Based Horror

With March well under way St Patrick's Day is almost upon. We'll all raise a Guinness or two to Paddy and the Emerald Isle despite most of us being as close to Irish as we are to being the next Pope.

However, with the snake banishing patron saint in mind here is my list of Top 6: Irish Based Horror films.

Dorothy Mills
Not one for the lovers of action packed slashers or gore whores, Dorothy Mills is a very slow burning tale. The titular Dorothy has violently abused a child and psychiatrist Carice von Houten is sent to to investigate. Cue ghosts, rape, murder, mad priests and Irishmen playing the "you ain't from around here, are ya boy?" role. The film lacks polish, loses direction and could have been much better, but Jenn Murray excels as the multi personalitied Mills and, if you completely ignore the comparisons to The Exorcist (It really is nothing like it in the slightest), you might just enjoy it if you give it a chance.

The Ten Steps (short)
A cracking (or should that be craicing) little atmospheric short from Brendan Muldowney. Never has walking downstairs been so terrifying. I won't spoil anything for you, just watch the video below.

A film not set in Ireland, not filmed in Ireland and containing very few Irish actors. So, what makes it so Irish? The wee Irish fella running around killing people to protect his gold and chasing a young Jennifer Aniston in her first feature. The film is silly and ridiculous but genuinely quite fun, it's certainly better than some other films Aniston made (I'm looking at you 'The Bounty Hunter.')

Ps. Fuck you, Lucky Charms!

An underrated stoner horror flick, shrooms is based around a couples retreat with a difference, they are going to go high. At least, that's the plan until Tara chows down on a "Death's Head" mushroom. People start dying, but is it just Tara hallucinations or something more sinister? Cue talking cows, a dogging death scene and a pretty nifty twist ending and you've got a pretty decent horror film.

Wake Wood
I'm sure no horror fans was disappointed when it was announced Hammer would start making horror films again. Many did approach with trepidation, however. Rightly so, Hammer's reputation was a big one to live up to, Wake Wood doesn't let Hammer down though. An ominous and atmospheric tale of resurrection (in direct comparison to the fate of Hammer themselves). Timothy Spall's chilling turn is excellent in a taut chilling horror with a shocking end.

Killer cows? A comedy horror right? I mean how scary can cows be? Well plenty fucking scary in Billy O'Brien's Isolation. A tale of caution for genetic engineering, Isolation is gripped by an ever increasing, ever present, somber atmosphere that draws you in and never let's you go. The rural location gives you the claustrophobic setting the title suggests and allows for some excellently original scenes (including one with a slurry pit). A great film, not short of a death or two. Barnstorming (sorry, I couldn't resist).

That's my Top 6 Irish Based Horror films, thanks for reading and la fhéIke Pádraig shona daoibh.