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Dead By Words

Love horror movies and TV? So do we. Walk down our track and enter our cabin of horrors…

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Review – Alien:Covenant (2017)

Oh Ridley Scott. Ohhhhhh. There was so much promise in those trailers and we were SO ready to be terrified again. We really wanted Alien:Covenant to, well, be good but it’s soulless with poor character development, too much alien CGI (which just doesn’t work) and nothing in the way of scares. Sad face xenomorph emoji ūüė¶

There’s some neat stuff around the origins of robot David (Michael Fassbender) and why he likes to play God, and then we’re blasted into space with the merry (dull) crew of the colonisation ship Covenant. Billy Crudup’s Christopher Oram heads up the ship, with a new Sigourney Weaver heroine of Katherine Waterston as Danny Daniels (with Demi Moore Ghost hair), ¬†Michael Fassbender’s OTHER robot Walter, Danny McBride’s spunky pilot Tennessee Faris and various other alien fodder. The ‘neat’ (dull) touch this time is that the crew members are married but we never get as far as working out who is married to whom or who actually gives a crap about each other.

There’s some flakey stuff around Oram’s faith which is never fully explained, before he heads the Covenant off to explore a radio transmission from another planet which is wayyyyyy off from where they’re heading. After landing and encountering some pesky black weird alien spore stuff, a crew member is infected and we have a reverse John Hurt moment. Pity what he ‘gives birth’ to is so CGI and crummy – it really does spoil the moment.

There are three particular things to enjoy from the film; Fassbender plays a blinder as the two robots and when they meet it’s pretty divine. This movie is essentially David’s story and he’s absolutely chilling. Danny McBride as action hero is also something very special indeed – next time, next film, we want him as romantic lead. And Waterston is great as Daniels – kick ass and strong. It’s just a shame the rest of it is so shambolic.

GORE RATING: 3/5

SCARES: 1/5

DISTURBIA: 1/5

RATING: 4/10

Watch it for: Michael Fassbender’s dual role¬†

Watch out for: Extreme backache 

Review – Damien: Omen II (1978)

The second installment in The Omen series, we follow 12-year old Damien (a seriously spooky Jonathan Scott-Taylor) as he starts at military academy and realises his destiny. Damien is now living with adoptive parents – after both his parents were taken care of in The Omen – and as those close to him get to know what he’s all about (the 666 on his scalp is a big sign), they start being bumped off. There are also those who exist to protect him.

It’s a good watch and features some pretty gruesome Final Destination-like scenes – the journalist having her eyes pecked out by a raven is especially nasty, as well as the doctor who is chopped in half by a falling lift cable. Scott-Taylor is excellent as our chilling protagonist, who knows he’s a little different to other boys but comes of age with his powers.

Omen II sets us up nicely for Omen III: The Final Conflict (1981), and it’s a solid and classic horror franchise that’s still very eerie.

GORE RATING: 3/5

SCARES: 3/5

DISTURBIA: 2/5

RATING: 7/10

Watch it for: Scott-Taylor’s Damien. Creepy kid

Watch out for: Large trucks, if your eyes have been pecked out 

Review – A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)

An atmospheric, beautifully shot Iranian vampire Western, A Girl Walks… is a stunning film which also features one of the best cats in cinema – just as good as Ulysses from¬†Inside Llewyn Davis.

Arash (Arash Marandi) is a hardworking young man who cares for his drug addict father. He also looks super cool, like James Dean. The Girl (Sheila Vand) stalks the streets of Bad City dressed in a¬†chńĀdor, taking drug dealers as her vampiric victims, and listens to moody indie music in her home. One night Arash and The Girl meet – Arash aptly dressed as Dracula, straying from a Halloween party – and she takes him back to her apartment. The rest…that’d be telling.

There are nods to David Lynch throughout – the point of view night time driving, people dancing and throwing strange shapes, the general oddness – and it’s an achingly hip film. Vand is captivating as the quiet but threatening Girl, and Marandi is an old school cinematic heart throb. Be prepared to be absorbed into the strange goings on in Bad City, and to be swallowed by this movie.

GORE RATING: 1/5

SCARES: 2/5

DISTURBIA: 1/5

RATING: 7/10

Watch it for: The cinematography is exquisite

Watch out for: Finger lickin’ good¬†

Buzzed For – Alien: Covenant

Danny McBride as action hero. James Franco as – he’s got to be, right? – alien nasty, nasty death fodder. Is Seth Rogen going to pop up in the alien costume? We’re very excited for Ridley Scott’s Alien: Covenant and it looks hopeful that we may be going back to dark roots and true horror.

Out 19 May 2017 in the UK and US.

 

Review – Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992)

It is happening again.

And it happened before – in 1992 – when David Lynch directed the feature length movie of the final days of Laura Palmer’s (Sheryl Lee’s) life. It’s as disturbing, quirky and ‘Lynch’ as they come, with central Twin Peaks characters making welcome appearances and some pretty strange cameos from Chris Isaak, Kiefer Sutherland and David Bowie to name but a few.

We find out more about Laura’s sad, troubled life and Fire Walk with Me is explicit about who ‘Bob’ is, what he does and what happens behind closed doors in seemingly perfect middle class America. Lynch puts the fear into nice houses and lawns, comfortable lounges and we’re once again looking out for Bob springing up from behind the sofa or the corner of Laura’s room. The significance of the ceiling fan also comes into play.

As described in ‘The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer’ book, we get to see exactly what Laura is into and how best friend Donna (played in the movie by Moira Kelly, not Lara Flynn Boyle – who declined to return) tries to find out and nearly gets sucked into herself. There’s a chilling moment reminding us where Agent Cooper ¬†(Kyle MacLachlan) is, when Laura sees a bloodied Annie (Heather Graham) in bed with her and she delivers a message. *shudder*. And of course we visit the Black Lodge to meet The Man From Another Place (Michael J. Anderson).

Fire Walk with Me stands up solidly by itself in the Twin Peaks family and is a great watch. The final 20 minutes alone are horrific and deeply upsetting but leave you feeling that Laura is okay now. How and when we meet her again in May 2017 is yet to be revealed but we can’t wait.

GORE RATING: 2/5

SCARES: 4/5

DISTURBIA: 4/5

RATING: 8/10

Watch it for: Sheryl Lee gets the attention she deserves 

Watch out for: Bloody BOB Рof course! 

 

 

Review: Train to Busan (2016)

You won’t have been on any zombie journey like Train to Busan; this South Korean horror film is fast-paced, with excellent character development, real emotion and some of the most friggin’ terrifying, super speedy zombies ever. This isn’t a slow ride.

Seok-woo (Gong Yoo) is a divorced fund manager who agrees to take his young daughter Soo-an (an INCREDIBLE Kim Su-an) to see her mother in Busan as her birthday wish. They board the KTX (Korea Train Express) from Seoul, just as reports of mass rioting and people getting a little bit bitey break. Soo-an even witnesses a platform guard being jumped on and tackled to the floor as the train departs. And there’s an unwanted guest onboard too.

The tension builds nicely, with plot development of the heroes to cheer on – those you want to survive – and probably the most evil, vile character you’ll be wishing to become zombie fodder. The zombie outbreak on the train is immense as passenger after passenger are attacked, and there’s some standout scenes where you’ll be kicking yourself for not seeing this movie on the big screen – the train crash/survivors running towards the new train to board and the zombies chasing after them, is one such brilliant moment.

At the heart of the film is Seok-woo and Soo-an’s relationship – he is corporate, too busy trying to make money but for the benefit of his daughter, and Soo-an is vulnerable but kindhearted and looks out for others on the train. You’ll also be cheering on pregnant Seong-kyeong (Jung Yu-mi) and her hero husband Sang-hwa (Ma Dong-seok); Sang-hwa fights the zombies with his own hands, and he’s a complete badassssss.

Throughout the action, the mild gore and the scares, we then come to a very emotional ending. We never thought we’d cry at a zombie film. Little did we know.

WATCH IT NOW. IT’S THATTTTTT GOOD.

GORE RATING: 2/5 pretty mild

SCARES: 4/5

DISTURBIA: 3/5

RATING: 10/10

Watch it for: It’s world-class and one of the finest in its genre

Watch out for: When the train attendant goes to comfort the ill young woman. OH-OH 

Review: Society (1989)

We’re now in a rather apt political climate to revisit Brian Yuzna’s 80s horror cult classic, of the wealthy elite consuming the lower classes. Not much happens for the first 60 minutes but then…then…oh god. Can we even talk about it?!

Baywatch’s Billy Warlock plays Bill Whitney, a rich kid who doesn’t feel he quite fits in with his family although they have it all. When his sister’s ex boyfriend plays him an incriminating recording from her first society party – including incest, an orgy and what sounds like a murder – Bill becomes a bit suspicious of what his family are actually up to.

The first two Acts set up what is coming to Bill nicely, with almost David Lynch/Blue Velvet like qualities to its look and feel. Are Bill’s concerns justified or is his family, with their secret parties, a different species altogether?

Yuzna’s film is clever, satirical and never more relevant body horror. The climax is as yukky as we remember it and…hang on…doesn’t that look like Trump in the throng?

GORE RATING: Off the scale 

SCARES: 2/5

DISTURBIA: 5/5 *sob* 

RATING: 7/10

Watch it for: The ending. Oh boy!

Watch out for: Butthead! 

Review: Phantoms (1998)

In Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Jay (Jason Mewes) famously proclaims to Ben Affleck “Affleck, you da bomb in Phantoms, yo!” – and he’s dang well right. Phantoms is a creepy flick, based on the novel of the same name by horror author Dean R. Koontz, and it’s a solid mix of The Thing, Aliens, Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Blob. There’s genuine jumps and it really does get under your skin.

Jennifer Pailey (Joanna Going) picks up her sister Lisa (Rose McGowan) from LA to bring her back to her peaceful, quiet home town of Snowfield, Colorado, where nothing much ever happens. On arrival, they find Jennifer’s housekeeper dead and the town’s 400+ residents seem to have disappeared. Cars won’t start and all electrics are going a little gaga. Add to that some strange crackly voices down the telephone.

Bumping into Affleck’s Sheriff Bryce Hammond and his two deputies – the very strange Stu (Liev Schreiber) and Steve (Nicky Katt) – it soon becomes very clear that something’s very wrong indeed. Steve is tempted outside by a woman’s screams, and is snatched away. And then a giant bloody moth turns up.

In a separate location, academic Dr Timothy Flyte (Peter O’Toole) is contacted by the FBI on a matter of national security. His research area is on the Ancient Enemy, who he suspects is behind mass disappearances in history such as Roanoke and Nanking, China. But who are the Ancient Enemy and why are they so interested in Snowfield?

The plot is rather over complicated but Phantoms is a gripping and scary film that hooks you in. You don’t know what the threat is or what form it will take – like The Thing – so you’re never quite sure what’s around the corner. The seemingly innocent, cute Labrador? Yep, stay away from him.

O’Toole hams it all up gloriously and it’s very silly, but a lot of fun. The end, gory pieces are also pretty bold and yukky. There’s some real body horror here.

And is Affleck “da bomb”? You betcha. Phantoms is a whole lot of unpleasant fun and well worth seeking out.

GORE RATING: 4/5

SCARES: 3/5

DISTURBIA: 4/5

RATING: 9/10

Watch it for: Peter O’Toole. BRILLIANT

Watch out for: That poor dog 

Review: The Neon Demon(2016)

Nicolas Winding Refn once again proves he’s one of the most exciting contemporary directors out there with the beautiful and thoroughly bonkers The Neon Demon. It’s a tale – actually, a fairy tale – of how LA eats up pretty young things and spits them out, as Elle Fanning’s wide eyed 16 year old Jesse appears on the modelling scene and becomes the one that everyone wants. Jesse realises the power that she holds over her fellow models, the men who cast and photograph her and the catwalk, transforming from the Goldilocks/Snow White/Alice character that she is into what everyone fears.

It’s a visual and aural feast, with the spellbinding soundtrack by Cliff Martinez full of fairy tale like music. LA is seen as a mythical land, one where fortunes can be made or you’re devoured, with Jesse exploring the weird and wonderful scenery and characters like she’s just fallen down the rabbit hole.

And then we have Suspiria. NWR is definitely referencing Argento and giallo in many of the scenes and shots, and there’s a fair bit of witchcraft and symbolism on offer. Jena Malone’s Ruby, a scary make-up artist who does bad things with corpses, befriends Jesse but her motives are suspect…her occult tattoos may just give her away.

Act III is where things go truly off the wall as Jesse is lured to Ruby’s house, following an encounter with Keanu Reeves’ vile motel manager – the worst motel manager since Norman Bates. There’s some WTF moments – and a couple of scenes reinforce you may just be watching NWR’s erotic dream – and we then lead up to an especially unpleasant ending. It may put you off your supper.

NWR is great at making you revisit immediately what you’ve just watched – we did it with Only God Forgives. His films stay with you for some time after you’ve seen them and then you realise that’s he’s pretty much a genius. The Neon Demon is as disposable as the industry it portrays, but by golly it’s beautiful rubbish. And like all good fairy tales, they’re horrific.

GORE RATING: 2/5

SCARES: 2/5

DISTURBIA: 4/5

RATING: 9/10

Watch it for: It’s like nothing you’ll have seen before. Astounding¬†

Watch out for: I’ve got to get Jesse out of me…

 

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