Halloween Horror Fest 2022

Greetings, friends! Welcome to my abode. Don’t be afraid, open the door wide and step inside. It’s cold outside, the rain is lashing down and the wind is howling – come sit by my fire and warm your chilled bones. Pour a drink and relax. I have many stories to tell you this Halloween. Listen closely…

Here we go again with Platinum Al’s traditional Halloween Horror Fest, where I’ll be watching spooky movies and sharing my fetid thoughts on my viewing. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. Here are the first of this year’s celluloid nightmares…

Driller Killer (1979)

Starting off, something different from my usual preferences – an infamous “video nasty”. Here we meet Reno, a troubled artist, struggling to create a masterpiece whilst living in poverty. As the stresses pile up in his everyday life, he resorts to viciously murdering local vagrants as his mental health suffers.

I’m no fan of “slasher” movies, and didn’t expect much from this film – other than being able to tick it off the list. It’s low budget and dated, but rather than a predictable slasher fest, the movie takes it’s time to develop the main character and examine his descent into murderous madness. This slow burn at least demonstrates the film makers grander ambitions, though on the other hand it does slow the movie down.

A surprising approach then, but this art house wannabe doesn’t really achieve much more. “Driller Killer” is worth a watch to – well, yeah – tick it off the list.

5/10

Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror (1922)

One hundred undead years old this year, FW Murnau’s Dracula “homage” should need no introduction. Certainly, the appearance of Count Orlok – this film’s Drac substitute – has been magnificently influential, not to mention the many other magical innovations on screen.

The plot is almost directly cloned from Stoker’s novel (indeed my copy even uses the original character names) – a problem which led to the writer’s heirs suing over the unauthorised adaptation. As a result, all copies were to be destroyed. Thankfully, not all prints were extinguished.

Here, our Jonathon Harker (or Hutter) travels to meet Count Orlok (Dracula, obvs) in order to procure property for the nobleman. Orlok is of course a vampire, and after sidestepping Harker/Hutter, travels back to the hero’s home town via a pleasant cruise on a ship called the Demeter.

You don’t really need to know any more. Put it this way, if you’ve never seen this film – you need to watch it. Yes, it’s a silent movie and obviously that dates the picture considerably, but there’s still so much to enjoy. Cinematic vampire lore is being built before our eyes, as well as the language of cinema being explored and developed. These experiments don’t always work, but it’s always fascinating.

Max Schreck as Orlok is still one of the creepiest sights in movies, ever. The rat-like visage, the menacing shadow climbing the stairs – still truly ghastly, all these years later. I doubt this vampire will ever die.

10/10

Lugosi – Album Review

Lugosi – Video Nasty

Self-released (BJF PR)

Release date: 12/03/2021

Running time: 27 minutes

Review by: Alun Jones

8.5/10

OK, here we go!  The clue’s in the title, folks – you can probably figure out where we’re headed with a band called Lugosi straight off the (vampire) bat.  If not, let me give you some pointers…

To get to Lugosi’s haunted house, depart from the Ramones’ basement, travel up Misfits Avenue, take a left at Danzig Drive, head on past Lemmy’s Bar’n’Grill till you get to 1313 Mockingbird Lane.  And you’ve arrived: horror themed punk’n’roll with fast’n’furious tunes and daft lyrics about dodgy old horror and sci-fi movies.  In other words, exactly the kind of goth rock Halloween shindig that your ol’ Uncle Al loves to crash.

Let’s get the devil-locked elephant in the room dealt with first: ‘cos there’s going to be a Misfits reference in nearly every sentence I write of this review!  To be fair, although there’s an undoubted Misfits influence in Lugosi’s work, it’s more in the lyrical content: songs about vampires, Dawn of the Dead and devil worship are aplenty, but in a tongue in cheek, Hammer horror style rather than any serious Satanic pretence.  This is music made by fans of cheesy, campy horror classics for other fans of the same.

The music itself has less of the big “WOAH” Danzig choruses and a more Motorhead inspired punk’n’roll sound, like Supersuckers  or Zeke.  There’s even a really cool instrumental in the middle of “They Came from Outer Space” that has an Iron Maiden feel.  The riffs not too far from Clutch, and – is that a Thin Lizzy influence?  Well, I was surprised to learn that Lugosi are from Dublin – I imagined they were from a remote cabin in the Texas backwoods somewhere…

“Late Night Slasher Movie” starts things off perfectly, in the speedy rockin’ style I mentioned, with hilarious lyrics!  “We’re Here to Drink Blood” is one of the punkier paced, Ramones tracks – and it’s catchier than a zombie plague.  Then there’s “Soylent Green”, which reminds me of Jerry Only era Misfits (this is a good thing).  A heavier, Sabbath feel rocks right out of the grave on “The Vampyre” and “Hellfire Club”.  There’s an almost doom sound to “1313”, augmented by high-pitched, theremin like weirdness.  I think you get the idea.

“Video Nasty” is a great album, thoroughly enjoyable in many ways: a successful Frankenstein bolting together of B-movies, punk and heavy metal – ideal for your next gathering on All Hallows Eve.  Kitsch, ridiculous, over the top – and FUN.  Lugosi have really reanimated the corpse of horror punk, and – it’s alive!!!

Check out Lugosi on Facebook and Bandcamp.

This review was proudly presented by Platinum Al and Ever Metal.

Halloween Horror Fest House of Horrors

Ring (1998)

OK: so here, we’re talking about the Japanese original movie, Ring (or Ringu) – not the Hollywood remake.  I’m not making any kind of elitist statement, I’ve just never seen the American version. 

Mrs Platinum Al introduced me to this creep-fest some years ago; I’m only surprised it’s not been viewed as part of our Halloween Horror Fest sooner.

A cursed video tape is being passed around; whoever views it dies a week later.  A reporter is investigating the story, and finds that the video isn’t just an urban myth when it strikes close to home.  With time running out, she must determine the origin of the tape and find a way to stop it.

Ingeniously creepy, Ring takes a novel idea – that sounds like exactly the type of urban legend that could be out there – and capitalises on it.  Watching the English subtitled version ads to the sense of mystery, as the viewer slowly pieces the facts together along with the protagonist.

Recommended for its imaginative premise and macabre scenes, you won’t want to watch Ring alone!

8/10

The Exorcist (1973)

I first saw The Exorcist as a student, when I was about 19.  This was in the days when the film wasn’t on video or allowed on TV, and thus it held a reputation beyond all others as the scariest film anyone would see, ever. 

A late night showing after a week of anticipation left me, at the time, convinced that this notoriety was justified.  I slept with the light on for several nights after.

But then a year later, I persuaded some other friends to go and see the movie too.  They found The Exorcist amusing more than anything, and I too was wondering what had frightened me so much.

I’ve not seen the film since then, other than catching parts of it whilst showing on TV (times have changed).  I was unsure what I would make of it.  Surely, its ability to horrify would have decreased still further after all these years?

Whilst I wasn’t terrified watching the movie again, I was greatly impressed by the whole spectacle.  The Exorcist is scary, but it’s also a very engaging and brilliantly told tale.  The acting is top quality and believable, and most of those infamous scenes still have the ability to shock.

Film critic Mark Kermode reckons this is the best film ever made.  I wouldn’t agree with that rating, but The Exorcist is a terrifically thrilling film.

William Friedkin, the Director, succeeds in making a movie which seems horribly realistic – and thus very believable.  Still powerful after all these years.  Essential viewing!

9.5/10

Another Damned Gig Review

DamnedCHThe Damned

Thursday 17th September 2015

The Live Rooms, Chester

Hello, chums!  How about another review of a musical concert?  How about another review of a Damned musical concert?  Very well, off we go…

It was my birthday on Saturday, so it was very kind of The Damned to play a gig on Thursday night for me.  They are my favourite band, after all.  Not many bands would go to all the trouble of playing for their number one fan in a nearby locale.  I don’t know who invited all the other people who turned up, mind – wasn’t me.  I hardly knew any of them.

The Damned sold out The Live Rooms in Chester, which is pretty impressive.  The place was packed out with all manner of discerning music fans, and by golly those punk rock chaps put on a hell of a good show.

From the moment Captain Sensible uttered the immortal phrase “Ladies and Gentlemen, ‘Ow do”, I knew it would be a blinder.  Straight off into “Love Song”, a rollicking locomotive of a song all about trainspotting.  Then it was “Machine Gun Ettiquette” and “I Just Can’t Be Happy Today” – top tunes all, and the running order gave something of a clue as how things would develop set wise.

The evening was an almost chronological journey to the centre of the Damned, with tracks following from the Black Album, through Strawberries and onto their later 80’s catalogue.  Until they messed that plan up by going back to the start with the always excellent “New Rose” and “Neat Neat Neat”.  I defied my OCD and enjoyed the travelling back through time regardless.

The band were on excellent form, Dave Vanian in fine voice and Sensible throwing some amazing guitar noises around (“Ignite” is always mental).  Pinch on drums and Stu on bass are in control and drive the machine ever onward.  Monty was, of course, his usual crazy and lovable self; always entertaining and adding an extra dimension with his keyboard skills.

A couple of “firsts” for me tonight – I’ve never heard “Alone Again Or” performed live, or the totally amazing “Nasty”.  This song was one of my earliest experiences of The Damned, when they roared through it on the Young Ones.  Relegated to a B-side and rarely cropping up on compilations, I’d given up on hearing this one in the flesh.  “Nasty” was dedicated to previous bass player Bryn Merrick, who had died recently.

Throw in another appearance of “Stranger on the Town” (see my last Damned review for how big a deal this is) and the song that kick started the whole fandom thing from my point of view, “Eloise”, and it was a quality set list.  Not to mention punk rock classics such as “Disco Man” and “Smash It Up” – what a result!

Any complaints?  Well there was no “Plan 9 Channel 7”, which is absolutely criminal.  Nothing from the two most recent albums either, which is a bit worrying – there’s some great tunes on those records.  The Live Rooms is a brilliant venue, but they seem a bit keen to send people home when they could’ve made a few quid more at the bar, if they’d kept it open half an hour.  Strange.

All in all though, it was a fantastic night.  The Damned threw me a very nice birthday party and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.  Wonder if they’re free same time next year?

Here’s The Damned’s website: http://www.officialdamned.com/

The Live Rooms web site is here.

You can read the set list for this gig here.

Here’s a link to my previous review of The Damned live: click me

R.I.P. Bryn Merrick

Evil Hallowe’en Horror Fest

The Evil Dead (1981)

This is one of those Video Nasties then, is it?  Banned in the early 80’s for being so horrific it could warp the mind…

The Evil Dead is the first film of Sam Raimi, and it was fairly infamous many years ago.  So much so that I was very wary when watching it the first time. evildead

Five friends visit a remote cabin in the woods.  There, they discover an ancient Book of the Dead and taped recordings of readings from it.  The recordings are played, awakening evil demons that trap the group and pick them off one by one.  There’s no escape – even the forest itself seems alive…

This film is somewhat dated now, the low budget not helping disguise the fairly unconvincing effects.  The story too is fairly basic, performances are basic too – except for Bruce Campbell who actually does a good job as Ash.  No surprises that The Evil Dead was a first time picture, then.

Raimi manages to create a great atmosphere, though.  Even after all these years, there are some extremely creepy moments, and some genuine shocks that will make you shit your shoes off.  Whereas the gore deflates the picture, the isolation and hopelessness are convincing.  Not my favourite ever film, but certainly a movie that demands to be seen.

8/10