Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Volumes of Blood (2015)

Volumes of Blood posterDirectors: 
Jakob Bilinski 
PJ Starks 
Lee  Vervoort 
Nathan Thomas Milliner 
John Kenneth Muir 

Writers:

Todd Martin
PJ Starks 
Nathan Thomas Milliner 


Stars: Jason Crowe, Roni Jonah, Alexandria Hendrick, Garret Smith, Louisa Torres, Jim O'Rear, Todd Reynolds, Jordan Phillips, Elissa Grant, Louisa Torres, Kristine Renee Farley, Kevin Roach



Volumes of Blood is a collaborative effort from some of independent horror films greats and one I have been looking forward to since director and writer P.J Starks let me know about it. Not only is the film a great, involving anthology, it also provides an original spin on the format, particularly in its final act.

I think the best way to share my thoughts on VoB is to go through each segment in turn but to give some idea of the films overall structure, we essentially follow a group of college kids discussing the invention of new and original urban legends via their own individual horror stories. Each segment takes place in the same library in which the group are sharing their tales which I think is a nice touch indeed.

Segment one, A Little Pick Me Up is a wicked little short with a jaw dropping end. Alexandria Hendrick plays an overtired student desperately trying to complete her work late at night in the library. When she is approached by a mysterious salesman (Jim O'Rear) to sample a new energy drink, its pretty clear that there are sinister intentions at play. Things go from bad to worse at a rapid rate and the short ends in spectacular style. Great opening segment! Written by Todd Martin. Directed by John Kenneth Muir.

Segment two, Ghastly Written and directed by PJ Starks is a spooky ghost story which features a librarian haunted by a mysterious force. I loved the black and white used in this classic tale, a very nice touch. This short also boasts some impressive ghost effects, the horribly contorted face of the librarians tormentor looking like something out of your worst nightmares. I have a very minor complaint with this short and that is purely that I wish it was longer. I have loved (and feared) the idea of a haunted library ever since that damn opening scene to Ghostbusters and I would love PJ to consider a feature length movie along these lines in the future. Like I say, I fully appreciate that this is anthology and therefore you cant have two much of each story - this is just an expression of interest ;)

Segment three, 13 After Midnight  Written by PJ Starks. Directed by Jacob Bilinski has a nice creature feature spin to it and there is an effective and creepy element of 'fear whats in the shadows' to it. Expect this segment to twist and turn a bit also with one hell of a downbeat finale.

Segment four, The encyclopedia Satanica  Written by Nathan Thomas Milliner and Todd Martin. Directed by Nathan Thomas Milliner is a cool and creepy tale of spells and demons. Kristine Renee Farley who has done some amazing work with Big Biting Pig Productions as well as the incredible Bloody Hooker Bang Bang: A Love Story really brings her A game here once again. I have now seen Kristine play several challenging, not to mention different roles and her turn her as guilt ridden turned tormented Paige only furthers my belief that she deserves a most amazing career. This short gives some brilliant bloody effects as with the others, this time with a darker and more ominous feel.

The final segment Thats a Wrap turns everything else on its head in a GREAT way. I wont give any spoilers on this front but be assured, you need to stick with the film right through to the credits as Volumes of Blood ends with a most satisfying, carnage filled denouement.  Written by P.J Starks. Directed by Lee Vervoort.

Highly recommended from this reviewer, Volumes of Blood brings laughs, blood, grue, scares and an overall sense of fun - something that horror anthologies used to do so well but has been somewhat lacking in recent years.  I would love this dream team to come together for a follow up anthology, I couldn't imagine what gory delights they may have up their sleeves for a part 2. Please head on over to the movies official Website and Facebook page for more details and show this film some real support!


Monday, 30 March 2015

POV (2014)









Written and Directed by Richard Anthony Dunford


Stars: Tom Clear, Karl Kennedy-Williams, Tuula Costelloe, Lewis Saunderson, Jamie Langlands, Sarah Harkins










Many thanks to Richard Anthony Dunford for sharing his creepy new horror movie POV with me. I am always excited to see a good British horror film especially those that are low budget but made with a true love to the genre. POV is one such film and unique in the sense that you follow the action through the eyes of main character Zack (Tom Clear) a down on his luck guy following a painful break up.

When Zacks brother (Karl Kennedy-Williams) and his best mates Mackenzie and Vickers (Lewis Saunderson and Jamie Langlands) drag him to a weekend long house party to cheer him up it is clear that something is going to come along and ruin the fun..

A creepy tale of demonic possession and death in the houses history, spun by Mackenzie, raises a few laughs and retorts as the party goers are far more interested in booze and music to truly believe such a story. However Zack soon starts to experience disturbing sightings  which soon make the viewer question what is really happening - are the demons real, is Zack going mad, or something else...? Suffice to say the shit hits the fan real hard and real fast.

I really enjoyed POV, it has a unique way of telling its story, it has some great characters and actors and there are some genuine scares. In fact one scene where Mackenzie scares Zack made me jump out of my fucking skin. I think I was expecting something else to happen or something, I'm not sure, all I know is that i swore very loudly.....  I also liked the fact that the film took some nice twists and turns in its final 10 minutes and kudos to Richard for not giving viewers all the easy answers on a plate.  For its low-no budget I also think the film is presented really well and I really liked the practical effects on display.

All main actors were great, Lewis Saunderson were both very funny in the roles of the best friends trying to do a nice thing for their mate. Lots of piss taking and barbs are exchanged which is totally realistic of a group of male friends. Karl Kennedy- Williams was a real stand out as the protective brother Sam, he comes across as equal parts good guy and total knobhead, and he has the mouth to match. A great and entertaining character! I felt nothing but pity for poor Zack as played by Tom Clear. He is having the worst time ever and then finds himself in the middle of a far far worse situation. I was rooting for him to get out it in one piece but to say anymore would be too spoilerish. Oh and Tuula Costelloe as party girl Lizzy was a massive hoot!.

Please check out the official website for POV and show your love for  British indie horror. I hope you guys will get to see the film for yourselves real soon.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Sodomaniac (2015)

(Online Screener Copy)

Directed by Anthony Catanese

Written by Anthony Catanese, Steve Ravesz

Stars: Craig Kelly, Allan Sconza, Kirk Ponton, Dale Gordon, Josh Rocco, Nicole Hamilton, Amanda Stauss, Greg Kline










Thanks so much to the guys behind this crazy little flick for letting me check it out for review.
A friend out in the reviewing field tipped me off to Sodomaniac, a film that actually hadn't come across my radar til then. I am glad I got to hear about it as the film is a certifiable blast - it has some amazingly loyal 80s slasher tropes (atmosphere, soundtrack, foreboding music, obnoxious and unlikable cannon fodder) all mixed up with something new, gross and unusual. So many points already huh?

So the plot goes a little something like this; a group of arsehole men (aside from Derrick played by Allan Sconza) fancy themselves as the ultimate of alpha males and spend their time talking shit, drinking, doing drugs and umm....date raping young women. Obviously this shocking crossing of the line and outright criminal behavior needs to be addressed and this being a horror film at heart, there is someone out there watching and waiting to take a painful revenge.  In fact said revenge is going to hit these guys right where it hurts - for all their jokes and comments about gay sex and anal sex, the killer is intent on making the punishment fit the crime.  Decked out in a mask which is basically a big arse (yep- see picture above!) the vengeful madman sets about putting their own visceral spin on sodomy, taking the rapist men out one by one...in the bum....

Although the subject matter is undoubtedly dark, rest assured that Sodomaniac is an effectively funny horror comedy. The dialogue works well as it helps to ensure you are in no way rooting for the victims to be but also gets the intended laughs along the way.

The story is well drawn and clips along at a decent pace which is great as there is a lot going on throughout and all the while you are getting closer to the truth regarding the killers identity. On that note I was extremely impressed by the red herrings and hints dropped all the way along. I LOVE whodunnit plots whether it be in a movie, soap opera, TV series and I always enjoy the scenes that are basically telling you 'yep this guy/girl could be doing because...'. I think Sodomaniac did a great job at keeping you guessing and changing your mind as the film heads to its climax. One part of the final reveal I did get right (but I did second guess myself at one point on this also!)

I have to recommend this movie 100%, its funny, crude, rude, gross and hilarious with a good story and a great dose of mystery chucked in as well. The main cast all play their parts well and there is definite promise from director/writer Anthony Catanese to deliver some more excellent horror and/or comedy in the future. Please check this flick out over on Facebook and hopefully release details will be forthcoming soon.

Watch your ass folks!

Monday, 19 January 2015

Agoraphobia (2015)

Agoraphobia (2014) Poster




(Online Screener Copy)

Written and Directed by Lou Simon

Stars: Cassie Scerbo, Tony Todd, Maria Olsen, Julie Kendall,  Adam Brudnicki, Aniela McGuinness, Mario Temes, Gema Celaro, Mario Nalini, Roberto Escobar









As a fan of Lou Simon's work in the horror genre (with the creepy The Awakened and grisly Hazmat under her talented belt) I was delighted to be asked to check out her most recent film Agoraphobia an impressive melding of mystery, suspense and the supernatural.

Featuring Cassie Scerbo as Faye, a young sufferer of Agoraphobia who, after inheriting her childhood home from her deceased father moves in on advice from her Psychiatrist (the one and only Tony Todd). This is all well and good until she realises bit by bit that nothing is as it seems.

Strange things are occurring in the house and it soon becomes clear to Faye that there are skeletons in the closet which need to be let out. The apparent evil stalking Faye also starts to reach out to those around her such as her husband Tom (Adam Brudnicki), best friend Stephanie  (Aniela McGuinness) and home carer Nina (Gema Calero) but in a series of well placed twists and turns, things turn on their head dramatically. In addition to all of this Cassie has the vindictive and bitter fiance (Julie Kendall) of her father baying for her blood and claiming that the house should have been hers. All elements of the story are important to the overall picture so this is a film that you want to pay close attention to - this is quite easily done as it does a great job of keeping you intrigued and interested throughout.

I was impressed by the performances, particularly Cassie who plays the fragile and haunted Faye with refreshing ease. I found myself drawn to the character and sympathised with her plight, suffering from such a crippling illness as well as trying to unlock some pretty dark and dangerous secrets. The main supporting cast were all effective in their roles; Adam Brudnicki and Aniela McGuinness as Fayes husband and best friend, Maria Olsen as her boozy aunt and Gema Calero as the newly appointed home help. I also got a great kick out of Julie Kendall as the gold digger from hell Elizabeth and kind of wished she was on screen a bit more. Still there is a GREAT pay off with this character and I will say no more.

The film is shot to the highest standard, something that Lou Simon and her team always excell at and really set the bar high for independent cinema. What they do with a limited budge is just amazing so I  can only imagine what would come out of a project with really big bucks. That said I am really enjoying the current journey of Lou Simon and seeing each and every film just get better and better.

I have just this morning read news of a pretty wide distribution deal for this film which is wonderful! Read more about this via the official movie Facebook page - it looks like you will be getting to see this real soon!




Monday, 22 December 2014

Red Christmas (2014)

Movie Poster






Written and Directed by Steve Rudzinski

Stars: Seth Gontkovic, Amie Wrenn, Shawn Shelpman and Steve Rudzinski

(Online Screener Copy) 











Many thanks to Mr Rudzinski for sharing another of his films with Hacked in the Head. I have seen a fun slasher from Steve followed by a campy and fun adventure horror film and this time around we have a found footage style creeper told from the killers point of view.

Said killer is Tara (a scarily natural Amie Wrenn) a happy go lucky, intelligent and coherent young woman who just happens to be a serial killer!!  Tara is only active in the month of December when she seeks to kill three men until the following holiday season.

The film in its basic form plays as Taras video diary as she takes the audience through her ghoulish lifestyle; the how, the why, the when etc. Things take a decidedly darker turn after Tara bags herself another victim (after going 'Christmas shopping' as she cheerfully puts it).  Seth Gontkovic plays our unfortunate victim Bill as Tara opens a vicious can of Christmas misery on him.

To not give anything else away I will add that events don't play out exactly as you might expect with a nice twist on the tale coming in following some pretty wince inducing torture scenes. I applaud this curveball very much!

While I am on the gory side of things, let me just elaborate on Tara's MO as a serial killing loony tunes. She likes a hefty dose of torture, tied to a chair style and oh man does she play with her prey. Poor Bill suffers a lot of physical and mental torture and both are sometimes hard to watch. Effects are all practical and again this should be applauded.

Red Christmas is a an engaging and well acted movie only clocking in at 55 minutes meaning it never outstays its welcome. There are some genuinely chilling moments and these are enhanced by the killer performance by Amie Wrenn and the pure bewilderment and horror conveyed by Seth Gontkovic. I'm very impressed by Red Christmas particularly since it also gives a new spin on the seasonal horror sub genre.

Thats not all - you can purchase the film yourself along with Steve's other movies right HERE which is great enough on its own BUT its also available in Blu Ray and limited edition - so go get it!

Tara is dreaming of a Red Christmas....good luck to.any poor dude on her radar!!!!

Monday, 27 October 2014

Captain Z & The Terror of Leviathan (2014)


                                                       










 (Online Screener Copy)


Director by Steve Rudzinski

Written by  Steve Rudzinski, Zoltan Zilai

Stars: Zoltan Zilai, Madison Siple, Steve Rudzinski, Aleen Isley, Julie Alexander, Rebecca Amick.








After checking out and reviewing Steve Rudzinski's comedy slasher Everyone Must Die, I considered myself a fan and eagerly looked forward to his next project.  Steve was nice enough to ask me to check out an online screener of his newest film which is as wacky as its title: Captain Z & the Terror of Leviathan.  Asked to direct the film by co writer Zoltan Zilai, Steve soon found himself cast as the lead character Glen, for those who want some background!

Starting off in 1714, Captain Z (writer Zoltan Zilai) manages to avert a bloody disaster when a group of possessed townsfolk almost raise the horror of Leviathan via magical amulet.  Fast forward 300 years and it appears that history is doomed to repeat itself when a ragtag group of hillbilly's get their grubby mitts on aforementioned amulet.  Its not long until they are too possessed and being led to raise Leviathan - but not to worry, the legendary Captain Z has been transported to present day too and he isn't going to take this lying down!

In a nutshell this movie is hilarious and entertaining. It absolutely does NOT take itself seriously if you hadn't already guessed that and this made me love it even more. It has some well written comedy and also a great separation of characters and their individual identities - something that is always important to me personally. 

The acting was engaging and worked well toward bringing the various characters to life. Steve totally shines in front of the camera so its no wonder he ended up playing Glen - impressive work. The hillbillies were all a lot of fun and local museum employee Heather (Madison Siple) also shone. Zoltan Zilai's performance as Captain Z is delightfully OTT - lots of laughs here.

Hats off to Steve and Zoltan for a fun movie which, refreshingly, is not in the slasher sub-genre (and I love slasher movies). It has good laughs and lots of adventure making for a highly entertaining hour and a half. 

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Varsity Blood (2014)

Screener copy courtesy of Aim Publicity

Directed by: Jake Helgren

Written by: Jake Helgren

Stars: Lexi Giovagnoli, Wesley Scott, Natalie Peyton, Blair Jackson and Debbie Rochon







Release: DVD, UK, August 18 2014, Image Entertainment
                DVD USA, August 19 2014Image Entertainment




Varsity Blood follows a group of teenagers partying it up on Halloween on the anniversary of a local tragedy. What they did not count on was a vengeful killer to arrive with the intent of picking them off one by one by one by - yeh you get the picture.

As the group of cheerleaders and jocks dwindles to next to nothing its up to new girl in town Hannah (well played by Lexi Giovagnoli) to unmask the maniac and try to escape with her life! Who knew moving would turn out so fun...

Varsity Blood is one of those films that sounds great on paper - an 80s style slasher film complete with costumed, mysterious killer. In fact the mascot costume worn by the killer is one of the most fun and interesting (if impractical) I have seen for ages.

Where I think this movie failed to hit the spot for me personally was the lack of imagination beyond the costume.  This kind of film will likely have slasher fans screaming out for some creativity in the kills and a more focused separation of the characters identities. Sadly both are fairly generic, and while I enjoy a good old fashioned generic slasher plot wise, I really enjoy well drawn characters and some offbeat kills even more.  It got a bit hard to really tell who was who while the arrows (points for the killer using a bow and arrow!) were flying all over the place and I ended up not really caring who lived or died sadly.

For those looking for a quick and easy slasher fix I certainty wouldn't deter you from this film, Its got the babes, the blood and the general chaos you would expect with a madman descending on a group of vapid teens. I would personally still be keen to see what Jake Helgren has up his sleeve next, its just a shame that Varsity Blood didn't deliver what I thought it might.