RIP Wes Craven (1939 – 2015)

We have lost a horror maestro, one of the greatest. A Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream, The Last House on the Left, The Hills Have Eyes, The People Under the Stairs, and many more, the influence of Wes and his impact on the genre cannot be disputed.

Thanks for the nightmares Wes, and for some of the most powerful moments in contemporary horror. Freddy weeps, and we do too.


Review: Dracula Untold

Although relatively tame in gore stakes, Dracula Untold’s actually a pretty neat film mainly due to Luke Evans being able to carry it off as the chompy teethed one. It’s an origins story, where we find out how Dracula got his bite and casts Vlad the Impaler as a hero. Yeah, forget about the impaling bit – he only does it because he has to.

Vlad is the Prince of Transylvania, taken hostage by the Ottoman Empire as a child where he was trained to be the Impaler. He returned to his kingdom to rule in peace, but Dominic Cooper’s Ottoman Sultan has beef against him. With a war coming, Vlad seeks the help of a cave-dwelling vampire (Charles Dance, being all Voldemort) to help him defeat the Sultan’s army; he has to drink the vampire’s blood to become all super strong but must resist the overwhelming urge to drink blood himself. If he does, he’ll be turned forever into a vampire. It’s not a spoiler to say, WHOOPS.

The special effects are impressive, especially the use of bat tornadoes. Bat tornadoes are awesome! Untold is pleasantly better than it should be, and has the action and a compelling story to keep interest. Cooper’s Sultan is a little OTT and hammy, but Evans has enough clout in his lead to be a respectable addition to the legend of Dracula.





Watch it for: Luke Evans – a strong lead

Watch out for: Sunshine. It’s bad for vampires!

Review: Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead

With a bigger budget and gore factor, it’s a welcome return for Colonel Herzog (Ørjan Gamst) and his undead Nazi army as they march to settle the beef they have with our protagonist Martin (Vegar Hoel) and the sleepy town of Tarvik. The film takes off straight after the original, with Martin waking up in hospital after a car crash; unfortunately for him, his severed arm has been replaced by Herzog’s and Herzog has Martin’s. Ohhhhh dear.

Dead Snow 2 is deliciously nasty and politically incorrect, with no one safe from Herzog’s zombie rampage. You can imagine the japes that Martin’s new arm provides; Hoel truly comes into his own in this movie and is the Nordic equivalent of Ash from The Evil Dead. Covered in blood and wearing a dodgy green tracksuit, he kicks ass as he fights back against Herzog and raises a Russian undead army to his cause. Also add in the welcome US Zombie Squad, three nerds led by Silicon Valley’s Martin Starr, and you’ve got quite the tour de force to take on the Nazi zombies.

It’s grotesque, with viscera flying around the screen, but ‘lovingly’ done through its influences from Braindead to Raimi, Romero to Friday the 13th. Herzog is given more screen time, and he’s one of the great cult horror villains – he’s also got a wicked sense of comic timing.





Watch it for: Herzog. A fantastic horror character

Watch out for: Electrocution by intestines

Review: It Follows (2014)

A clever little horror movie, It Follows will give you the willies about casual ‘encounters’. Low on gore but creepy as hell, it’s beautifully shot; the use of a wide-angle lense gives it a Kubrick or Carpenter feel, with our lead Jay (Maika Monroe) predominantly in the centre of the screen. Seeing the tension literally come at her from the side, or behind her, builds up the threat of what she is facing. Or sometimes what she isn’t physically facing – she doesn’t know it’s coming.

It’s a film of our times – a curse which is passed on by sexual encounters; an entity will follow you and kill you if it catches up with you. The entity takes many forms – a tall man with his eyes gouged out, a dead relative, or in one of Jay’s cases a half naked woman covered in blood who is passing urine. It’s grim, and you never quite know what’s coming next. The only way to break the curse is to pass it onto someone else through a bit of rumpy pumpy – only, if they get caught and die, it then comes back to you.

It’s a simple premise but one that works neatly in this film. The scares build up, with the stalking by the entity similar to the constant slow-walking threat of Michael Myers. He’ll always get you in the end though! There is a sense of despair at the hopelessness of Jay’s situation – will she ever escape this curse? How long would it take to come back to her?

Monroe was fantastic in The Guest and It Follows has a similar feel, with the score composition by Disasterpeace. It has a retro vibe – the TVs in Jay’s house are old fashioned, home telephones are used to contact friends in peril. This all adds to the old school horror ambience of the film.

Some of Jay’s decisions could be questioned about the path she takes, but it’s a well made horror which deservedly already has cult status. Give it a go…but use some protection! Out of interest, whether the curse can be stopped with condoms isn’t actually explored.





Watch it for: the cinematography – just wonderful

Watch out for: Creepy naked man on roof. Yikes! 

New: The Gift

Lionsgate’s The Gift looks intriguing. Simon and Robyn, a young married couple – played by Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall – have their life thrown into chaos by an acquaintance from Simon’s past; he turns up bearing a gift and a horrifying secret from over 20 years ago. It’s from the producer of The Purge Jason Blum and is the directorial debut of actor and writer Joel Edgerton.

Release in the UK: 7 August

Certificate: 15

Running time: 108 minutes