The Halloween Horror Fest Bride

OK, time is running out and there’s quite a few films to be covered.  Let’s go!

The Wicker Man (1973)

British horror classic, starring Edward Woodward as the policeman who travels to the remote Scottish island of Summerisle to search for a missing girl.  His investigations are fraught and the locals unhelpful.  Soon it becomes clear that the islanders are pagans, and totally at odds with the devout investigators beliefs. wicker

There is an air of sinister dread that pervades this film, and builds slowly to the shocking, yet inevitable climax.  Though there are no shocks, blood and gore, The Wicker Man creates a believably strange and foreboding world.

Excellent performances from Woodward and Christopher Lee as Lord Summerisle make the whole experience all the richer.  A film that gets better with every viewing.

9/10

The Corpse Bride (2005)

Beautiful animated wonder from Tim Burton, with the voice talents of many of the usual suspects, make this film a success on every level. cb

A marriage of convenience for Victor (Johnny Depp) and Victoria (Emily Watson) turns out to be a perfect match, until it all goes wrong and Victor finds himself married to Emily, the Corpse Bride (Helena Bonham Carter).  The tangled situation is complicated by trickery and treachery, as our hero tries to escape his situation and make wrongs right.

A superb voice cast and fabulous music enhance the spellbinding visuals, and not a moment is missed to dazzle the viewer.  In particular the scenes in the underworld are vibrant and thrilling, especially compared with the dull land of the living.

The Corpse Bride is great fun for Halloween and a film to enjoy again and again.

9/10.

Big Tits Halloween Horror Fest

Big Tits Zombie (2010)

Yes, you read that title right.  Big Tits Zombie is trashy Japanese cinema, which I couldn’t resist picking up after reading about it in Bizarre magazine.  Hey, it only cost me £3!

Basically, this is the same strippers and zombies scenario as we’ve seen in Jenna Jameson’s Zombie Strippers, the only difference being this version features cute Japanese girls (rather than sexy American girls).  As per previous, the dancers inadvertently raise the dead and then have to survive the ensuing zombie apocalypse. btz

There’s actually a lot less smut on display than the title would suggest.  Instead we get some fairly amusing scenes of the girls trying to endure their boring day job, plus the addition of some martial arts when it’s zombie killing time.

Sadly, the special effects are lame CGI and the undead themselves are the least convincing zombies I’ve ever seen.  A shame – with better attention to detail this could have been a half decent horror spoof.

Don’t let the title put you off, Big Tits Zombie is very tame in the flesh revealing department, and actually features some mind boggling pop culture.  Worth a go if you have any interest in films that are just plain odd!

6/10

Scream (1996)

As I’ve stated previously, I’ve never been much of a slasher film fan.  I saw Scream nearly twenty years ago, not long after the film came out, and found it only mildly entertaining.  So I was pleasantly surprised to find that I really enjoyed it second time around. scream

The story centres around a group of high school teenagers, who are terrorised via phone (that’s a landline, kids!) and killed off.  Which sounds very unoriginal, right?  Well the clever thing is that Scream doesn’t try to be completely original, rather the film is happy to exploit the audiences expectations and play with them, tongue slotted into cheek.

All very post modern and self referential, but at the end of the day the film stands or falls on it’s ability to scare – which it manages to do very well.  The tension builds, characters face jeopardy and the audience is kept on the edge of its seat.

Scream succeeds in avoiding self parody and provides loads of thrills.  There are enough nods to it’s predecessors to keep the slasher fans smirking knowingly.  Good performances and quick dialogue made me glad I gave Scream another chance.

8/10

The Halloween Horror Fest That Dripped Blood

The House That Dripped Blood (1971)

First off, The House That Dripped Blood is not a Hammer film.  It was, in fact, produced by rivals Amicus – though the film does share some familiar faces.  This is an anthology film, comprising of four short stories, wrapped up in to an overall narrative, concerning the spooky abandoned house of the title. thtdb

The first segment sees Denholm Elliott portray a writer, who slowly begins to lose his sanity whilst staying in the house.  Elliott gives a solid performance as he starts to crumble under the fear that his murderous creation has come to life.

Next up we have the story of two men – the always fantastic Peter Cushing and Joss Ackland – both obsessed with a waxwork dummy that resembles a lost love.  Both actors are great to watch, in a tale that seems fairly unbelievable but is probably the most gruesome of the four.

In the third instalment, the house is occupied by the legend that is Christopher Lee.  He lives with his young daughter and hired teacher (Nyree Dawn Porter).  The father’s strange, strict manner masks his daughter’s true heritage, and interest in witchcraft.  This is probably the best of the stories, with a stern Lee beginning to let fear get the better of him.  Genuinely creepy.

Finally, we have Jon Pertwee as a somewhat pompous horror movie actor, who acquires a cloak that bestows him with vampiric powers.  There’s a touch of comedy with this segment, plus some divine glamour in the form of Ingrid Pitt.  It’s all very enjoyable, and helps conclude the overall narrative in a suitably scary manner. ip

The House That Dripped Blood features a great cast and a fine writer in Robert Bloch, creator of Psycho.  On viewing, it’s surprisingly lacking in blood – however there are enough chills in each story to provide some frightful entertainment.  One of the best Amicus anthology movies, and well worth watching.

8/10.

Halloween Horror Fest Rides Out

droThe Devil Rides Out (1968)

Back to the Halloween Horror Fest reviews with this Hammer classic from 1968.  Based on the novel by Dennis Wheatley, Britain’s legendary film studio created a film to be proud of with The Devil Rides Out.

It tells the tale of a group of friends reunited to rescue one of their number from the clutches of a Satanic cult.  Simon (Patrick Mower) and Tanith (Nike Arrighi) are to be initiated into the evil group by their leader, Mocata (Charles Gray).  Old pals Rex (Leon Greene) and the incomparable Christopher Lee, as the Duc de Richleau, attempt to rescue their comrades from the forces of darkness.  There ensues a battle between good and evil, with our heroes very souls at risk.

Quite simply, this film looks superb – old houses, vintage cars and some fairly decent special effects amount to a successful production.  The various references to the occult – visual or spoken – seem creepily authentic, even if it’s all just entertainment.

There’s a rare good guy role for Christopher Lee – finally permitted some dialogue in a Hammer film, he delivers a confident and believable performance.  He’s nearly upstaged by Gray, however, whose portrayal of Mocata exudes a suave, sinister menace.

A fantastic film and one of Hammer’s best, it only falls down on a somewhat bizarre ending and a lack of the trademark Hammer Glamour.  Other than those small issues, The Devil Rides Out is a total success.  Such a shame that the studio never really capitalised on this with more of the same.

8/10

Chester Vinyl Night

Chester Vinyl Night

The Lock Keeper, Chester

Friday 7th October 2016

So the two Bens – Ben the Swede and Coben – decided to stage a vinyl night in Chester.  Not to detract from the great night in Mold – but living in Chester they were keen to see how it would go.  There had been plenty of feedback from Chester locals who would love to try out the concept and play a few of their own records whilst having a few beers.

After some research, the Lock Keeper pub near the canal, just down Frodsham Street, was selected as the ideal venue.  The upstairs function room was ideal, with loads of space and a DJ area at the back.  The pub itself offered some fine beers at reasonable prices, so it was all set.

The idea was the same, borrowed from Halcyon Dreams and VOD: bring along a few records, have a 15 minute set to play whatever you like – vinyl only.

I volunteered to do my set early on, whilst waiting for the punters to arrive.  Thus following on from The Swede’s opening repertoire, it was my turn.  Playing to an audience of six people.

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Bad Moon Rising

I’d planned on playing the superior, and slightly less well known, “Born on the Bayou” by CCR as my first song.  However I mixed up Side 1 track 2 with side 2 track 2, and we got this evergreen classic instead.  No major mishap, “Bad Moon Rising” is a fantastic song anyway.  Always reminds me of “An American Werewolf in London”.

The Stupids – Mega Zombie

This is from one of the first records I ever owned, the “Frankfurter – Eat EP” by UK hardcore punk band The Stupids.  They were at the forefront of late eighties skate rock, and sound tracked many a days skateboarding in my youth.  This sublime song is just over one minute in length, with the words “Mega Zombie” repeated 27 times.  Very fast and a true challenge to prepare the next track in time!

The Ohio Players – Fopp

Luckily I just made it, and dropped the needle on this magnificent chunk of seventies funk.  The song first came to my attention via the Soundgarden cover, eventually I picked up a CD “Best of” compilation (also featuring “Love Rollercoaster”, as covered by RHCP).  Not long ago I added the Ohio Players album “Honey” to my vinyl collection – which both songs are taken from.  This is a solid piece of funk rock with a cool groove. op

Tone Loc – Loc’ed After Dark

I wanted to play some tunes to show case some variety, and felt that a bit of old school hip hop would be nice.  “Loc’ed After Dark” is the B-side from the “Wild Thing” 12 inch single.  I chose it as again, there’s a nice funky beat.  Got me strutting my stuff in the DJ booth, anyway.

So alas, my set was over – with still only six people in the audience.  Never mind, the evening picked up and soon the function room was full.  I even got to play a couple of tracks again at the end of the night to a fuller crowd!

The Chester Vinyl Night was a great success, with a room full of people enjoying the music and drinks.  There was a picture quiz which proved popular, and a wide range of tunes spanning several genres – from dub to hip hop to classic rock.  There was even a Phil Collins tribute section…

There will be more Vinyl Nights at the Lock Keeper soon.  Well done to Ben and Ben for organising the evening – looking forward to more of the same soon!

The Chester Vinyl Night has a Facebook page, click here.

You can also find The Lock Keeper on Facebook here.

Thanks to Halcyon Dreams and VOD Music for help and advice.

vinyl-poster

Halloween Horror Fest the 13th

Blacula (1972)

Blacula updates the legend of Dracula, placing it’s protagonist in early 70’s California.  African Prince Mamuwalde (William Marshall) is visiting said Lord of the Undead, who curses him to become a vampire, known as Blacula.  After being entombed for a couple of hundred years, Mamuwalde is revived when his coffin is transported and opened in modern day USA. blacula

It’s a fun film, transposing many of the myths we’re familiar with from Hammer movies into a different setting.  As in other versions of the tale, Blacula is transfixed by Tina, who he sees as the reincarnation of his lost love.  Tina, played by the beautiful Vonetta McGee (dead ringer for Beyonce) falls for his deadly charms; whilst her friends attempt to stop the plague of vampirism from spreading.

Whilst undeniably dated, and wallowing in numerous stereotypes that are somewhat non-pc by today’s standards, Blacula offers some great entertainment.  There are a few scares, some incredibly groovy costumes and settings, and a cool funky score.  It’s a novelty rather  than an original, though transposing the Dracula story into the realm of Blaxploitation works a treat.

Recommended, especially for fans of Dracula AD 1972 and Dark Shadows.

7/10

Friday the 13th (1980)

We’re off to the realms of slasher movies next, for one of the all time classics of the genre.  I first saw this film when I was 17.  I’ve not been much of a fan of slasher flicks since. fr13

Friday the 13th knowingly raids all the cliches from the cupboard and displays them proudly on the wall.  Set at Crystal Lake summer camp, the young counsellors fit the required formula and are gruesomely picked off one by one in the classic manner.

And yet it works very well, with some genuinely well done gore (Tom Savini, take a bow) and real shocks that convince even after all these years.  This might not have been the first slasher flick,but it follows the Halloween blueprint faithfully and delivers with surprises and tension.

I’m still not a massive slasher movie fan, but this original Friday the 13th is well worth investigating.

7/10

Songs of the Week 09.10.2016

Biding time till I write up the next Halloween Horror Fest movie review, here’s five songs that stood out last week:

  1. Siouxsie and the Banshees – Arabian Knights
  2. The Stupids – Skid Row
  3. David Bowie – Life on Mars
  4. Sisters of Mercy – This Corrosion
  5. Anthrax – Antisocial