Tag Archives: horror

Horror Movies You May Have Missed Part V: The Bit Where The Series Goes Disastrously Downhill Until The Inevitable Remake In Twenty Years

26 Oct

I know I only wrote about this the other day, but screw it: I didn’t leave you with enough films to fill up the entire twenty-four hours of Halloween. So here are a few more movies. Take your pick!

 

American Mary

This film has garnered rave reviews in the horror circuit, and for good reason. American Mary is the story of a young medical student who enters the world of underground surgery. She then begins to use her surgery talents in two ways – to become the most sought-after surgeon in the body modification scene, and to seek justice on those who have wronged her. Including a great performance from the always wonderful Katharine Isabelle, American Mary is a grotesque treat.

 

Three… Extremes

I love a good horror anthology, and Three… Extremes is one of the best. Taking some of the top talents of Asian cinema – Fruit Chan, Park Chan-wook and Takashi Miike – Three… Extremes delivers a trio of very different but wonderfully compelling horror shorts. The pick of the bunch, for me at least, is Miike’s Box, a beautifully shot chiller.

 

Maniac Cop

Someone dressed as a policeman is running around New York City killing innocent people. Is it a member of the public, or is it a genuine cop on a killing spree? Detective Frank McRae is trying to find out, with the help of Jack Forrest, played by horror demi-god Bruce Campbell, a cop framed for the murders. An over-the-top slasher, Maniac Cop is low on scares but is a hell of a lot of fun.

 

My Little Eye

A group of people enter a secluded house for a reality TV show. The goal – to live in the house for six months. At the end of that time, they will receive 1 million dollars, as long as none of them leave. However, things may not be as they seem. Shot entirely through hidden cameras, My Little Eye gives the impression that your are watching the feed directly, and as such is incredibly immersive. Watch for a minor role from Bradley Cooper, too.

 

The Exorcist III

Yes, it’s a horror sequel. Yes, Exorcist II: The Heretic was awful. But you know what? The third part is actually a very good horror flick. Directed by the writer of the original Exorcist novel and screenplay adaptation, it tells the story of a detective hunting a serial killer. What concerns him about the killings is that they resemble those of a serial killer who died fifteen years earlier. A little corny but still packing some good scares, The Exorcist III is worth watching for Brad Dourif’s performance alone.

 

Calvaire

This movie has made me never want to visit Belgium again, and that’s a shame because I damn love chocolate and waffles. Travelling singer Marc Stevens gets stranded in the middle of a wood, yet is thankfully led to an inn during the middle of the night. Almost certainly an acquired taste, Calvaire is highly disturbing and very quirky, and plays out as equal parts Fargo, Misery and Deliverance.

 

Mutant

I love a good cheesy 80s horror, and Mutant fits the bill. Also known as Night Shadows, it’s an unintentionally hilarious zombie romp. Full of classic bad-character-decision moments, and some inexplicable design choices – such as the zombies terrifyingly bleeding, erm, custard from their hands – it’s the perfect choice if you prefer some cruel laughs instead of scares. Here’s the entire movie.

 

Killer Crocodile

Continuing the so-bad-it’s-good vibe, here’s a 1989 creature feature that just begs to be watched. A group of environmentalists travel to a tropical delta to investigate the dumping of toxic waste. Unfortunately, this toxic waste has also created a giant crocodile that is hell bent on killing as many people as possible – including the audience, who will likely die of laughter. Jaws this ain’t.

 

May

May is a wonderful and strangely moving psychological horror, about a young woman who struggles to connect with other people. A tale of relationships, it delves deeply into May’s psychology and day-to-day troubles. Topped off by fantastic performances from Angela Bittis, Anna Faris and personal mancrush Jeremy Sisto, May is a cut above your average indie horror.

 

Ghostwatch

Ghostwatch is still one of the most controversial programmes in British TV history. Billed as a real-life investigation into the paranormal, this Michael Parkinson-presented documentary caused an unprecedented number of complaints, leading to the BBC putting a ban on broadcasting it for another decade. Although a little bit cheesy to watch now, some of the scenes are still very scary – particularly those regarding the poltergeist called Pipes.

 

And that’s that! Ten more horrors to watch. Hopefully that will do you until next year. I mean, I need at least that long to get through some more underrated horror flicks, right?

Wrong!

Wrong!

Even More Horror Movies You May Have Missed

25 Oct

Crikey! It’s been a while. But with Halloween just around the corner it’s about time I shared a few overlooked frightening films, spooky stories, and monstrous movies. Now before I get lost under my own smug alliteration, let’s get cracking!

 

The Changeling

There’s no better way to start a Halloween movie night than with a traditional ghost story, and The Changeling is a perfect example of one. A composer loses his family in a tragic accident, and moves to a secluded manor house. Whilst there, he is visited by the spectre of a child. An atmospheric slow-burner, the payoff is worth the wait. Whatever you do, don’t go in the attic.

 

Tucker & Dale vs. Evil

If you’d rather have something more light-hearted, try this instead. Two hillbillies take a well-earned holiday by a woodland lake. Unfortunately, their plans are ruined by the unfortunate arrival of a bunch of college teens. A wonderful horror subversion, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil is a trope-playing laugh riot. I’ve posted a scene rather than the trailer below, as it is best to go into this film blind, to experience it all fresh.

 

Jug Face

Keeping with the rural theme, Jug Face is an interesting, character-driven horror. Living in the middle of the woods, a small commune worships a strange pit in the ground. The pit grants prosperity, growth, peace, but only as long as it gets what it wants in return – sacrifices. Ada learns that she is to be the next sacrifice, and tries to hide it from the rest of her family. Can she escape from what her religion demands?

 

The Bay

Disclaimer: don’t watch this film when eating. The inhabitants of a Chesapeake Bay town start falling under strange and deadly afflictions. Could it be tied to the deaths of a pair of environmental researchers? Told in a found footage style, from a series of different accounts, The Bay follows the mould of Jaws – the dangers of nature overlooked by complacent leaders.

 

Cargo

This Swiss sci-fi horror knows how to build tension. A skeleton crew keeps a deep-space cargo vessel running. Laura, one of this crew, stays sane through talking with her sister, who lives on the paradise world of Rhea. However, it becomes apparent that there is another being on the ship. The setting is perfect, the isolation and the dark industrial look keeping viewers on the edge.

 

Noroi: The Curse

This Japanese mockumentary already has a fearsome reputation, but it’s yet to break into the top echelons of horror imports. An investigative reporter looks into a series of strange events – supposedly psychic children, disappearances, deaths. What he discovers leads him to try and stop the manifestation of a terrible demon. Genuinely unsettling, Noroi is a real treat.

 

The Frighteners

Peter Jackson is, of course, best known for his work with the Lord of the Rings films. If you’re a horror fan you’ve probably seen – and loved – his earlier gory works, such as Dead Alive and Bad Taste. One film that is often overlooked, though, is comedy The Frighteners. Teaming up with Robert Zemeckis as Executive Producer, the film has a wonderful cartoonish, chaotic vibe for fans of Ghostbusters or Gremlins.

 

Antiviral

If you prefer something high-concept in your horror, then try Antiviral. Directed by Brandon Cronenberg, son of the acclaimed body horror master David Cronenberg, Antiviral shows us a world where celebrity culture and genetic engineering have disastrously combined – allowing true fans to infect themselves with the same strains of disease as their idols. It’s a fantastic debut, a terrifying world imagined well – Antiviral is bound to get under your skin.

 

Lie Still

A low-budget English horror, Lie Still follows John Hare, unemployed and recently single. He moves into an old apartment building, but soon realises that he may not be alone. Extremely low-key, it’s a surprisingly effective film, helped by the suitably dark setting and tapping into genuine fears of what goes bump in the night.

 

Sauna

A historical horror, Sauna is a Finnish film set at the end of a war between Russia and Sweden. Whilst negotiating new borders, two brothers come across a village in the middle of some marshlands. There, they are faced to confront the acts they have committed.  Bleak yet artistic, with a fantastic and open-ended plot, Sauna is a real gem – not only terrifying, but a great film all round.

 

Have a Happy Halloween, everyone! And guess what? There are more horror recommendations to come!

You better believe it!

You better believe it!

Who Owns Slender Man?

2 Oct

On Monday, a fascinating article regarding commodification of memes was posted, in particular surrounding the use of a phrase from Hark! A Vagrant (a damn, damn fine comic that you should all be reading) on Grumpy Cat merchandise. It’s raised questions about ownership in the online sphere, about content created and adapted by the faceless creative collective of the internet. Is it moral to sell merchandise and content that has been built upon the ideas of other, uncredited people? Is it even legal?

So, speaking of faceless things, let’s take on this issue by picking a single online presence to go under the microscope: Slender Man.

slenderman1

For those of you who don’t know, Slender Man is terrifying. Often dubbed the “first internet urban legend”, it has reached far beyond the expectations for an internet scary story, particularly one with such humble beginnings. Slender Man actually originated on the website Something Awful, in a thread where members were challenged to create paranormal images. A user called Victor Surge, real name Eric Knudsen, created a series of images showing a tall, tentacle-armed figure that kidnapped children. It took the thread by storm, and before long Slender Man had moved beyond Knudsen’s vision.

Marble Hornets is the first, and most popular, Slender Man YouTube series. Its creators, Joseph DeLage and Troy Wagner, also used Something Awful, and were inspired by Knudsen’s images to create a vlog series that would evolve further into an ARG. The series was an instant hit, and is still one of the most frightening things to be found on the web.

Interestingly, the term ‘Slender Man’ is never used in the series – the being is called The Operator – and some parts of the Slender Man mythos, such as the tentacles, were removed. Marble Hornets, now in its third season, spawned various further Slender Man narratives, all adding and subtracting parts of the character to suit their own needs. Two more popular YouTube series were created, called EverymanHybrid and Tribe Twelve, as well as various blogs and stories.

Then, in 2012, Slender Man made its largest jump into the cultural consciousness. A free-to-play game called Slender: The Eight Pages, created by Parsec Productions, was a smash, loved by horror fans and picked up by a number of gaming sites. Before too long, Slender Man was a household name in geek circles, and with that came more projects. Many derivative games, including other strange, tall characters. The Slender Man, a Kickstarter project to make a feature film that successfully reached its target of $10,000. World domination beckoned for Slender Man, which is a terrifying thought for a creature that is partly deemed to get its power from the number of people who believe in its existence.

slenderman2

However, with these latest projects, the issue of ownership and creation really came to a fore. With Marble Hornets, Knudsen was accepting of their use of his character – after all, it was for a free series, certain aspects had been changed, and it was even born out of the same space – the Something Awful Photoshop thread. Knudsen even found it “interesting” that people were able to build upon his original images to create something more, although over time he has become more hesitant over his praise of other uses of Slender Man. One thing is clear – Knudsen has generally been happy for people to use the character, as long as it is not for profit.

And as such, there have been teething problems for a number of other projects. Although Faceless, a video game based on the Slender Man mythos, received the consent of Knudsen before creation, Steam – the online distribution service – refused to allow the game to be shared through their system until they had received permission from Knudsen themselves. Slender: The Arrival, a sequel to Slender: The Eight Pages, has licensed the character from Knudsen. This appears to have been necessary because unlike its predecessor, The Arrival is not free-to-play. Interestingly, the game was also written by the creators of Marble Hornets, meaning that the three largest influencers on the urban legend were all involved in the project.

Slenderman

The Slender Man movie has had less luck. After achieving its Kickstarter target, the film was completed and put online in 2013. However, the film was forced offline after legal action. This, in spite of the fact that the film was originally going to be a free online release. What caused the need for legal action by a mysterious third-party rights owner? The use of the name Slender Man? Or is it that the project had already gained money via Kickstarter? Either way, the film has had to change a variety of components before re-release, which we are told is coming soon.

And that’s the saga of Slender Man ownership up to date. So far Knudsen has, generally, been able to protect his creation from outside use, albeit with difficulty. But if Slender Man continues to grow as a narrative, how much longer can he keep control?

Black Crown. Or, How I Came to Know A Genuine Pioneer

16 Jul

For once I will not be promoting the various ‘creative’ projects that I have come to acquire over the years, shoving them down your throat like so many overcooked pieces of broccoli. Instead, I would like to talk about one of the most fascinating, original pieces of writing and gaming to appear in recent years.

It’s called Black Crown, and it’s a bold storytelling experience from Random House. In its simplest form, it is horror. One way to describe it is as a completely modernised, innovative multi-option choose-your-own-adventure story, taken to its highest, most thrilling, literary ceiling; a multitextual new media narrative with ARG elements, requiring both gameplay interaction and a deep involvement with the story. And it is a story which will send shivers deep down your spine.

I discovered this project by not discovering it at all. I know the author. Rob Sherman, the creator of the world of the Black Crown project. At home playing delicate acoustic guitar at a folk festival, yet who you could see quite at home on top of a mountain, wearing woad and yelling insults at the old gods.

He also plays some of the greatest music you have never heard.

He also plays some of the greatest music you have never heard.

I met him at university, both studying English and then Creative Writing. Even then, when surrounded by people with that glint of imaginative spark, of untapped potential both hindered and cultivated by having so much time to both think and drink copious amounts of alcohol, Sherman was immediately recognizable as being damn special. He not only had an incredible creative drive, determination, but also an original way of thinking that constantly kept him ahead of the curve. If any of us deliciously inventive types were going to create a great work of fiction, art, music, it was going to be him.

We were given an early glimpse of what would become Black Crown at the end of our Masters, tasked with completed a creative dissertation. Most of us played it safe, writing a novella, a long piece of non-fiction, screenplay, a poetry collection. I chose to write a film script, a supernatural mystery that, in spite of very good marks and feedback from both academics and fellow students, is currently gathering dust on my bookshelf, waiting to be re-edited.

blackcrownRob Sherman’s project, though, was different. He kept it secret from the rest of us for a long time, only dropping hints when necessary. Non-linear, he would utter. A collection of first hand sources. Mystery was intensified when we were asked to contribute. A select few of us – band members, course-mates, friends – arrived at a retro shop to meet a photographer with a very vintage camera. Rob then threw bizarre clothing items at us, asked us to change. I was given a vest and braces, another band member a gas mask. We were photographed next to backdrops, ancient versions of ourselves, scratched with sepia. And still the end goal was unknown. Sherman had unconsciously perfected, within real life, the key to mystery: for every question that is answered, two more need to be asked.

Eventually, submission came round, tomes carried to campus. Metal-wound scripts for myself, delicately-bound poetry and graphic novels for others. And then came Rob Sherman, carrying a red case. A case covered in arcane signs, tattered notes. It caused a bit of a storm, this unique creation. A story of a lost town, told via a series of half-connected clippings, photos, documents. All of it tied up in a physical, tangible item. A work so brilliant that there was even a workaround made for the English office’s requirement of two copies of each assignment being submitted. After all, how exactly can you hand in two copies of such a unique work, whose sheer presence is part of the storytelling experience?

areatest3

After that, Sherman slaved, modified, augmented. The project morphed slowly, over thousands of hours of dedicated work into Black Crown, the devastating horror that is available to experience, for free, now, online. It’s what would happen if HP Lovecraft had written House of Leaves as a series of emails late at night. If the SCP Foundation had grown up in to a living, breathing, literary entity. If Nine Inch Nails’ Year Zero had built upon the eldritch abominations of the past, not the future. A monster, made complete by its absolute originality. After all, the most important part of all great horrors is the unknown – and Black Crown breaks so many barriers that you half expect it to claw through your screen into real life.

Bargain Bin Reviews: Anaconda!

20 Nov

Welcome to a new feature! I will be having a gander at often-overlooked movies. I’ll dust them off and give them a chance to impress. So, let’s get going with my first Bargain Bin Review.

Anaconda is the story of a loveable, misunderstood giant snake that is mercilessly tormented by a bunch of documentary-makers. All it wants to do is devour Jennifer Lopez and Ice Cube, but for some reason they object. Just to warn you, there will be many spoilers ahead. But, given that this review is for a fifteen year-old film, I think you can forgive me.

The movie starts off by killing Danny Trejo. His boat is attacked by some kind of nasty creature and, faced with a choice between a gooey painful death or taking his own life, he decides to shoot himself in the head. Generally, it seems as though poor Mr Trejo gets the raw deal in situations with killer beasties, such as his early demise in Predators. Here, though? Well, his character probably caught wind of the script coming his way and decided to off himself. Oh, how I wish I could join you.

God speed, Mr Trejo. You made the right decision.

After a wonderful bit of pan-pipe music, we’re then greeted to the ragtag bunch of filmmakers. First up we have J-Lo and the dashing anthropologist Eric Stoltz. They are off on the noble endeavour of documenting the existence of a rarely-seen tribe in the Amazon. The makers of Anaconda, though, have no such artistic temperament, shown by the fact that the moment you see Miss Lopez she’s, for some reason, wearing a very skimpy nightgown. Who knows, perhaps I am being too cynical and that is perfect attire for the Amazon.

They are joined by Ice Cube, the angry cameraman and one of the few voices of reason within the entire film, the production manager and attractive-but-not-famous-so-will-definitely-survive Kari Wuhrer, the constantly aroused sound guy (played, amazingly, by Owen Wilson), snooty English presenter Jonathan Hyde, and the unbearably sleazy and definitely-not-sketchy ship captain (Vincent Castellanos). If you have made any early presumptions about who is likely to survive this film, you are probably right.

Give horror-movie-survival bingo a go, I dare you!

Only a short while after they set off on their journey, they find a boat sinking into the river. They rescue the lone occupant, a Paraguayan snake-catcher played by Jon Voight. I’d just like to take a moment to tell you exactly how frickin’ creepy this guy is. He’s like if The Joker from The Dark Knight and Tommy Wiseau had a South American middle-aged lovechild. The only way he could be creepier is if he was naked the entire time, his greasy ponytail flapping in the breeze. You half expect every scene to end with him having sex with some kind of reptilian creature.

Don’t believe me? Well I took the time to make a brief compilation of a few of his weirdest moments in the film. Take a look.

In spite of the fact that their new guest is clearly not a very nice man – shown by the way that ominous music starts every time he’s visible and the fact that he is constantly staring at everyone in an outrageously evil way – they decide to welcome him aboard, and even listen to his advice on their journey. The only two crewmembers that don’t seem to trust him are the aforementioned sceptic Ice Cube and the Indiana Jones-wannabe Stoltz.

Of course, this means Stoltz – the only man willing to tell Voight “you know what, let’s not take that meandering route through the Amazon that you say will lead us to our destination” – has an accident after trying to clear vines from the boat. Incapacitated, Voight takes command and lets the crew know of his real motive: to catch a ruddy great big anaconda. Choosing not to listen to Ice ‘Voice of Reason’ Cube, Sleazy Captain, Owen Wilson and Snooty English decide to join in on the plan. First stop on their whirlwind tour of idiocy? The remains of Danny Trejo’s ship.

Unsurprisingly, this does not end well. The sleazy ship captain is the first to go, chomped right outside the boat. Owen Wilson is next. Having already survived a failed attempt at a sex scene on the shores of the Amazon at night (surely the best idea anyone has ever had), he finally succumbs to the wily Jaws wannabe.

From that chin and nose combo, you can tell that it’s Wilson.

Apparently the death of Owen was enough for the rest of the crew to decide enough is enough with the creepy ponytailed guy. J-Lo seduces Voight – in one of the most awkward-to-watch scenes I have ever seen – as the rest of the crew pounce. Tying him up, they think they’re safe. Unfortunately for them, the giant snake hadn’t quite forgotten about their previous attempts to turn it into handbags, and attacks, enjoying Snooty English as a rather fine brunch. Voight uses this as a way to escape, killing poor not-as-famous-as-J-Lo in the process.

Lopez and Ice Cube manage to fight off the anaconda and, with the help of the woken-from-his-illness Stoltz, manage to knock Voight into the river and escape. Stoltz, unfortunately, doesn’t even have time to whisper “you guys seriously trusted the weird snake catcher? Seriously?” before he once again succumbs to his wounds and passes out.

Without his guidance, the wonderful J-Lo/Cube duo are captured by the soggy but still dangerous Voight. He uses them as bait to catch a mega-snake, covering them in monkey blood. For some reason, we need to see Voight kill two monkeys over the course of this film, as if to prove that he is such an evil madman.

Thankfully, the anaconda decides, halfway through suffocating Ice Cube and Lopez, that it would rather go after the creepy-looking guy sneering at it in the corner. It eats him, spits him back out again because apparently he tastes as bad as he looks, and instead goes after J-Lo. Between them, Lopez and Ice Cube manage to trap the snake and blow it up. In spite of being set on fire, exploded, and thrown fifty feet in the air, our plucky jungle friend tries to eat them one more time, and is bludgeoned to death by Ice Cube, who apparently was sick and tired of goddamn snakes at this point.

Can I axe you a question?

And that’s about it. Anaconda, as you may imagine, is a bad movie. It sits awkwardly between its A-List budget and B-List plot, and as a result it is absolutely brilliant entertainment. It’s a trashy, violent, stupid mess with bad performances and a hackneyed plot, and I enjoyed every bloody minute of it. Anaconda is the only place to go if you want to see Ice Cube attack a giant snake with a pick-axe, all the while with an incredible pan-pipe soundtrack.

 

Interested in more? Be sure to head over to GeekClique.net, where future Bargain Bin Reviews will also be hosted.

Horror Movies You May Have Missed Part Three: The Reckoning

5 Sep

It’s been a while, but here’s another bunch of spooky movies you might not have seen.

 

Possession

This 1981 film is one of the most unsettling I have ever seen. Sam Neill and Isabelle Adjani play a couple whose marriage has deteriorated beyond repair. She wants a divorce, but Neill is determined to try and save the relationship: if only for the sake of their son, Bob. Although it features some spectacular – and horrifying – special effects, the film succeeds mainly on the strength of its psychological nature. Paranoid and desperate, this is a film you will never forget.

 

Absentia

Absentia is going to become a real cult classic. Released in 2011 and made on a measly budget of $70,000, it’s got the best scares-to-pound ratio of any film since The Blair Witch Project. Winner of a huge number of horror awards, the film follows two sisters trying to continue their lives after the disappearance of the elder’s husband several years earlier. But was something sinister behind his departure?

 

Cabin Fever 2

To be perfectly honest, I didn’t like the first Cabin Fever. It didn’t scare me, the over-the-top gore seemed a cheap trick, and the plot didn’t work for me. The sequel, though? Well that’s a different matter entirely. The only way I can describe this film is that it’s like Napoleon Dynamite if someone added a flesh-eating virus to the mix. Totally unique and compelling viewing.

 

Undocumented

In this found footage film, a group of grad students decide on a controversial film thesis – to travel into America with a group of illegal immigrants and document their journey. Unfortunately, the group is captured by an anti-immigration vigilante group, who offer them a deal: record everything that happens in their secret prison, and they will be set free. Try to interfere, and they will be killed.

 

Shadow of the Vampire

This movie gives us a brilliant premise: what if, whilst making Nosferatu, Director F.W. Murnau had given the role of the vampyr to an actual creature of the night? Darkly funny and deeply frightening, this film has absolutely fantastic performances from John Malkovich and Willem Defoe. Add a great supporting cast, including Cary Elwes, Udo Kier, and Eddie Izzard, and one of the best final monologues in cinema history, and you’ve got an excellent horror on your hands.

 

Stir of Echoes

Probably the most well-known film on this list, Stir of Echoes had the bad luck of being released very soon after The Sixth Sense. Kevin Bacon, after a hypnosis session, begins to suffer horrifying visions of a ghost of a girl. Although not particularly scary, the film has a great atmosphere, excellent performances, and puts together a genuinely compelling mystery.

 

Society

I love a bit of body horror, and Society is one of the greats of the sub-genre. Equal parts funny and disgusting, the film follows a teenage boy who begins to suspect his family – and his entire town – may be more than human. Acting as both a great parable for adolescence and a scathing critique of the class system, Society shows that horror can be intelligent.

 

Shivers

Speaking of body horror, it would be negligent of me not to mention David Cronenberg. One of the greatest directors ever, he’s been responsible for some of the best horror films ever created – but his first film is often overlooked. Made in 1975, it was once the most successful Canadian film of all time, but was so heavily controversial that Cronenberg found it difficult to get funding for further projects. Also known as They Came From Within, Cronenberg’s debut is a must watch.

 

They

A lot of horror films tap into the fears we had as children. They is no exception, and focuses around four adults that had night terrors when they were growing up. What if night terrors were because of genuine monsters, and that one day, those monsters come back? It may not be a classic, but They is a real chiller.

 

Dread

The final film on this list, Dread is based on a short story by Clive Barker. A team of students decides to do a film study on fear – getting to the root of what really makes people scared. Although it sometimes drops into Saw-esque territory, for the most part it is a brutal, psychologically-scarring film with surprisingly deep characters. Most impressive of all is Quaid, played by Shaun Evans, who gives a brilliant, terrifying performance.

 

That’s all for now! Up next, another retro review. But I’m sure that more horror recommendations will be coming your way…


Oh yes indeed.

Fear Dot Com: Scariest Places on the Web

23 Jul

A little while ago I gave you a brief look at the internet storytelling known as Creepypasta. But that’s not the only place to get chills online. Here is a rundown of some of my other favourite scary sites and series.

 
Marble Hornets

Marble Hornets has been responsible for more sleepless nights than all of the horror films I have seen combined. Based on the Slender Man mythos, an internet-created urban legend that originated on the Something Awful forums in this thread, Marble Hornets is a first-person, Found Footage series that somehow manages to tap into our fear of things that go bump in the night. Don’t believe me? Here’s an example:

If you fancy seeing more, then here is a playlist for all your Marble Hornets needs. Currently in its third season, the plot is getting deeper and darker.

If you’d like to see more Slender Man stuff, then check out EverymanHybrid’s deliciously meta take on Slendy or his own wiki page. When you’re done with that, check out this free Slender Man game and scare yourself silly.

 

Internet Story

The tale of an online treasure hunt. Better for you just to see it yourself:

Wonderfully told with a brilliant finale, Internet Story has become a cult classic in the internet community.

 

The Bongcheon-Dong Ghost Comic

A Korean webcomic written by HORANG. Originally in Korean, an English version of the comic was made and can be found here. There was also a sequel of sorts, set in a train station.

I know what you’re thinking: ‘comics, eh? That won’t be that scary’. Well, go ahead and click. Do it. Oh, and film your reaction because it will be hilarious.

 

DaywaltFearFactory and Fewdiodotcom

If the raw nature of Marble Hornets isn’t quite to your fancy, then don’t fret: there are a number of fantastic short horror films who call Youtube home. Pick of the pile, though, are probably Daywalt Horror and Fewdio.

Here’s my personal favourite:

 

The SCP Foundation & The Holders

The SCP Foundation captures and then documents the effects of a number of paranormal ‘artefacts’ that would otherwise be a danger to the human race. Within the site are stories with a very particular style; case entries for the different SCPs that are under the Foundation’s care. Although their mantra is to “Secure, Contain, and Protect”, some of the most chilling stories are those that revolve around the lengths the Foundation will go to keep the human race safe.

The SCPs are varied in nature: from a statue that attacks when you lose eye contact, a toaster that affects the human mind in an interesting way, a mysterious coral growth, or the victim of a cult who must be constantly tortured to stop the birth of a being that could destroy the world.The series (originally Creepypasta) is constantly evolving, and with moderators stopping crossovers from other IPs there is always something unique to find.

Similar to The SCP Foundation, The Holders tells us about 538 objects that “must never come together. Ever”. The site consists of instructions on exactly how to obtain these items…although given what you sometimes need to go through, you probably don’t want to.

 

Various Terrifying Youtube Videos

So I’ve already posted the wonder that is Marble Hornets. Here are a few others. Vicious516 posts Creepypasta readings as well as other scary vids:

Foundmedia23 bought a load of random Betamax tapes and all of them are fucking weird:

No Through Road makes you want to never drive down country lanes again:

 

I think that will do for now. Just remember that if you’re bored and fancy seeing something scary, there are plenty of horrifying sites on the internet. And I’m not just talking about 4chan…

A Beginner’s Guide to Creepypasta

18 Jul

If you read the blog regularly, or follow me on Twitter/Facebook, then you’ll see that I mention Creepypasta an awful lot. What is this mysterious and oddly-named phenomenon? Well, I’m here to give you a crash course on all things freaky and fusili-related.

Creepypasta is, quite simply, a type of horror short story, often found on message boards or blogs. Sometimes the subject matter will be something in internet or geek culture – a videogame (with Zelda, Pokémon or Minecraft being particular favourites), a television show (Spongebob Squarepants, My Little Pony, The Simpsons etc) , or a specific website or online video.

No, not THAT kind of online video!

Typically, the author of the Creepypasta will have received a mysterious email, picked up a second-hand videogame, or have ‘stumbled across’ something when online. Other times, though, the stories are simple, up-front horror fiction with a slight difference in writing style – predominantly towards first-hand experience from a first person perspective.

What I love about Creepypasta is how it seems to have become the online equivalent of telling scary stories around the camp fire. You’ll find threads on message boards based entirely around Creepypasta and frightening images – and even message boards set up just for the paranormal: 4chan’s /x/, and Reddit’s /r/nosleep and /r/creepy for instance. You’ll get internet users trying to scare the pants off each other, or even reading just to get a kick out of the stories.

Another interesting thing about Creepypasta is the way that it uses other media other than prose – video, photo, and audio in particular. Say you’re reading about a forgotten TV show from the author’s childhood; what better way to make it more real than to provide footage of said show? Or maybe you read about someone getting sent a weird audio file from an old friend – along with the post, there could be the audio file attached.

All in all, reading Creepypasta is a unique and fun experience. As it’s an uncensored, unedited form of writing, sometimes you’ll come across poorly-written – or even worse, boring – stories. Sometimes it’s actually scary. Other times it’s deliberately funny, making fun of the many clichés that have already infested the genre.

“Oh, wow it’s another person that’s found a haunted copy of Mario 64. I wonder how many haunted videogames are out there!”

Here are a few of my favourite Creepypasta stories:

Candle Cove

The members of a message board discuss the mysterious kids TV show Candle Cove. An intrepid youtuber also found footage of the show and posted it online here.

Ben (Haunted Majora’s Mask)

The biggest, and most well-known, of the videogame horror stories. A video-game enthusiast finds a copy of The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. But there’s something wrong with the game’s save files. Very long, with video included, the payoff is definitely worth it. This link includes all the videos in chronological order for the story. For other examples see Pokémon Creepy Black and Herobrine.

Gateway of the Mind

An example of an original Creepypasta idea. A experiment to try and find, and talk, to god leads to a unexpected results. Video here.

Squidward’s Suicide

The urban legend of a missing, terrifying Spongebob Squarepants episode. Also see Suicide Mouse.

Normal Porn for Normal People

An internet user gets sent a link to a disturbing site called Normal Porn for Normal People. He shares his findings as the nature of the videos rapidly spirals.

Pale Luna

A story from the 1980s about a computer game named Pale Luna, shared solely in the San Francisco Bay area. The game has been recreated here.

Interested in finding more? Well, here are some of the best places to find Creepypasta online:

4chan’s /x/ – Plenty of paranormal stuff here. Bear in mind it’s 4chan, so watch out.

/r/nosleep – If you like what you’ve read so far, this subreddit is made up of people telling scary stories.

creepypasta.wikia.com – A wiki full of Creepy stories.

inuscreepystuff.blogspot.co.uk – Blog with a very nice Creepypasta collection.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this brief look at things that go bump online. In a future blog post I’m going to share with you all some of my favourite non-Creepypasta-but-still-interwebz-based chills. Before then, though, there’s some film that’s coming out about some nutjob vigilante who dresses in a ridiculous costume and beats the crap out of people.

You probably haven’t heard of it.

Ten More Horror Movies You May Have Missed

17 Jul

Hey everyone! I’m back with some more underrated and unheard of horror flicks. Prepare for the spooky…

 

Leviathan

This is the film I hinted to at the end of my last horror movie post. Falling somewhere between The Abyss and The Thing, it tells the story of an underwater mining team that comes across a shipwrecked Russian vessel. Unfortunately, this ship, the Leviathan, happens to be infected with a rather nasty body-horror-beast-making virus.

What Leviathan lacks in originality it makes up for in gross special effects. The cast is also surprisingly effective and is made up entirely of people-you-recognise-from-better-things, including the dude who plays Robocop, Ernie Frickin’ Hudson, the bad guy from Home Alone, and Trautman from Rambo. The film was also directed by the late George P. Cosmatos, better known for Rambo Part II and the magnificent Tombstone.

 

Planet of the Vampires

One of the grandfathers of the sci-fi horror genre, Planet of the Vampires is one of the most hugely influential movies in horror. A space exploration team comes into trouble in deep space and is forced to crash land on an unknown world. There, whilst looking for their downed comrades, the crew comes across strange spirits that take over the bodies of corporeal beings.

Allegedly one of Ridley Scott’s biggest influences, Planet of the Vampires creates a real sense of foreboding and an almost unique oppressive atmosphere, particularly given that it was made in 1965. Although it’s not dated particularly well, this film is perfect if you’re in a nostalgic mood or are interested in seeing the movie behind the original Alien.

 

The Blob

I’m not talking about the Steve McQueen original here, for your information. As much as I love the 1958 original, I absolutely adore the remake from 1988. Kevin Dillon stars as tough-punk-kid-with-motorbike Brian Flagg in this wonderfully campy, outrageously gory version of the B-movie cult classic.

A box office flop, this film is nearly criminally underrated in spite of having some amazing and should-be-iconic scenes. Want to see a man sucked down a garbage disposal drain? You got it. Frat boy getting more than he bargained for when trying to touch up his girl? You betcha. If you go into this film looking for fun, you’ll find it. Just don’t expect Schindler’s List.

 

Ravenous

This is, undoubtedly, one of my favourite films. Why? Because it’s unique. Mixing together the story of The Donner Party with the Native American myth of the Wendigo, Ravenous is light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek, yet still particularly terrifying.

Guy Pearce and Robert Carlyle both give great performances, with Carlyle in particular at his disturbing best. That said, the entire cast is absolutely fantastic. What really makes the film, though, is the brilliant score from Damon Albarn and Michael Nyman. Give it a watch.

 

One Point O

Simon, a computer programmer, starts finding mysterious, empty packages at his apartment. In an attempt to uncover how and why they are there, he investigates his neighbours – including Lance Henriksen, Deborah Kara Unger and Udo Kier. What he finds at the end of his search is shocking and deeply disturbing.

Low on gore and low on monsters, this Cronenberg-esque cyberpunk movie is one of the most unsettling films I have ever had the joy of watching. Also known as Paranoia 1.0 or Virus 1.0, the movie is dense and impenetrable, and is all the better for it.

 

The Innkeepers

Surprisingly for a modern horror film, The Innkeepers is a real slow-burner. The Yankee Pedlar Inn is on its final week before closure. Inside, the two innkeepers care for the last few guests whilst investigating its supposed history of paranormal activity.

At first, there is little to report, and the employees spend their time telling ghost stories to bratty kids and looking up the hotel’s history online. But, it’s not long until the hotel’s ghostly past starts to reveal itself. This film slowly cranks the tension to great effect, and its terrifying finale and numbing epilogue are amongst the best of the lesser-known horrors.

 

Ghost Story

Ghost Story is horror done the old-fashioned way: a good, creepy gothic horror tale about a ghost after revenge. Based on the novel by Peter Straub, it is also Fred Astaire’s last acting role alongside other heavyweights like Melvyn Douglas, John Houseman, and Douglas Fairbanks.

It’s not exactly a classic, and some of the special effects haven’t aged well, but there are some great, chilling scenes along the way. You’ll guess the shocking twist before the end, but you’re bound to enjoy the ride.

 

Triangle

It’s difficult to write about this film without unleashing some annoying spoilers, but I’ll try my best. After a brutal, surprise storm, a group of friends in a yacht manage to get aboard an abandoned ship in the middle of the ocean. But is it abandoned?

Triangle is a brilliant, mind-bending horror/thriller with some great twists and a nice new take on the Bermuda Triangle legend. Pretty individual, some good performances, well-directed, and with a lovely plot where every strand falls into place. What’s not to like? Well, for one thing, the fact that every bloody trailer contains massive spoilers. Instead, please find a small clip from the film below.

 

Asylum

I bloody love horror anthologies. They’re always entertaining, even when they’re cheap and awful. Asylum, though, is first-class traditional horror. Big, dramatic scores, screaming women, English accents, the works.

The basic premise is simple: a psychiatrist makes a visit to a mental asylum. When there, he visits four of the inmates, each with a particularly horrific story. Each of the segments is great, but of particular joy is the second part, a mysterious story about a peculiar suit-maker.

 

Freakylinks

Finally, this isn’t a horror movie, but instead an entire series. Freakylinks is one of my favourite shows ever. It was cancelled after a single season, and joins the extensive list of brilliant shows given up on too soon by Fox. It follows the adventures of a group of investigators who run a paranormal website.

Switching between found footage-style camerawork and traditional cinematography, Freakylinks follows a monster-of-the-week pattern with light undertones of a larger plot that unfortunately never materialized. Darkly comic and compelling, it was a little too ahead of its time, and suffered because of it. To rub salt into the wounds, Fox have so far refused to release it on DVD.

 

And that’s a wrap. Surely there are no more horror movies I can write about?

Oh wait. Yes there are.

See you next time!

Ten Horror Movies You May Have Missed

5 Jul

Hi folks! I’m back with another list for you lovely people. It seems recently there have been a fair few above-average horror movies gracing the big screen, from Silent House to Chernobyl Diaries. So, in the spirit of these new additions to my favourite genre, here’s a rundown of ten horror movies you may not have heard of.

 

Dead Girl

Dead Girl has one of the most disturbing and unique premises around. Two friends, whilst looking around an abandoned mental asylum, find a woman chained to a table. Instead of doing what any sensible, sane person would do and call the police, they decide to keep her there. But they soon realise two important things; first, that the girl is feral – growling and trying to bite anyone who comes near; second, that she cannot die.

What follows is a unique and incredibly disturbing take on the zombie myth, with a truly heartbreaking end and some of the most downright evil characters you’ll see in film history.

 

In the Mouth of Madness

John Carpenter is possibly the biggest name in horror. He’s given us The Thing, Halloween, Assault on Precinct 13, and The Fog. But surprisingly, In the Mouth of Madness is often forgotten when talking about the big man. Sam Neill plays an insurance investigator looking into the disappearance of renowned horror author Sutter Cane. Soon the world descends into an almost Lovecraftian nightmare.

Distinctly unsettling from the off, and with some absolutely spectacular set pieces, In the Mouth of Madness is a far cry away from Carpenter’s most famous movies and shows his real versatility as a horror director.

 

Behind The Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon

What if the world of the slasher flick was real? What if all that you saw when you sit down for your movie marathon is true? Those are the questions posed by this smart, funny deconstruction of the world of horror.

Nathan Baesel stars as Leslie Vernon, the next big thing in the murder scene. He invites a student film crew to follow him as he prepares to go on a killing spree, hoping to become the next great legend like his heroes Freddy and Jason. An incredibly clever film, it will change the way that you see horror films forever.

 

Pontypool

There is an outbreak of some kind of disease in an isolated town in Canada. It seems as though the people of Pontypool are becoming violent, feral, and even committing acts of cannibalism. So, a typical zombie film, right? Wrong. In Pontypool, the disease is spread by using certain words.

In the middle of this, a radio host and his small team try to keep broadcasting news about the event. Deeply unsettling, weird, and totally unique; Pontypool has it all.

 

Session 9

Want to know what David Caruso has done aside from putting on sunglasses and making awesome puns? Here’s your answer. Location can often make or break smaller budget horror films, and Session 9 has the perfect setting.

A cleaning team needs to complete work on an abandoned mental hospital. The only problem is that the mysterious past of the hospital seems to be coming back. If you like slow-burning horror that’s low on action but high on atmosphere, this is the film for you.

 

Club Dread

But, not everyone fancies something as deep as Session 9 above. Club Dread is a horror comedy with the emphasis on the comedy side.

There’s something afoot on a club 18-30 party island. By something afoot, I mean the killer-wearing-an-island-mask-and-poncho kind of afoot. Amongst the cast is Bill Paxton as a washed-up singer whose biggest hit was a song called Pina Coladaburg. I don’t think you need to know more than that.

 

The Poughkeepsie Tapes

As you may already know, I’m a bit of an aficionado of the Found Footage sub-genre. The Poughkeepsie Tapes mixes this style with mockumentary, including fake news bulletins and an overall documentary narrative.

Although short on big thrills, The Poughkeepsie Tapes creates a genuinely disturbing atmosphere. Prepare to squirm throughout. Add to that one of the most depressing finales in recent horror and you’ve got a real diamond in the rough.

 

Alone With Her

I might as well lump all the Found Footage films together. Alone With Her stars Colin Hanks as a man who becomes obsessed with a woman he sees in the park. He rigs up a set of hidden cameras in her apartment to watch her every move.

The most troubling thing about this film, though, is the way it’s told – via the stalker’s footage. You see how he uses what he sees to manipulate his real-world relationship with her. Hanks also shows real versatility by being completely terrifying.

 

The Tunnel

This is a tale of independent filmmaking done right. This Australian movie has gained huge plaudits for the way in which it was produced and distributed; the film was crowd-funded and then gained most of its popularity by being released, for free, to Bit Torrent users. The fact that it’s been such a huge success brings hope to a lot of young filmmakers.

As for the end product? A claustrophobic horror film that should win medals for having a scene so tense that even I, an emotionless robot of a man, wanted to look away.

 

Black Christmas

Most horror nuts have seen this film, but it’s surprising the number of people who haven’t. This 1974 horror film was one of the first slasher movies ever made, inspiring the likes of Halloween and Friday the 13th, and still one of the most effective.

If you want to go back to the root of many of the huge horror franchises, this is the film to watch. It’s also scary as hell, and has one of the best final scenes ever.

 

So, there are ten horror movies you may want to watch. Problem is, there are about a hundred more that I’d like to talk about. So, I’m likely to revisit this topic again in the future (after I’ve seen a few other suggestions, of course). Want me to talk about a specific film? Any particular movies you feel I’ve left out? Let me know!

There’s a certain monster movie that I certainly need to talk about.

And of course, don’t have nightmares.