Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Top 6: Killer Animal Films

On Sunday 7th April at The Roxy Bar and Theatre, Classic Horror Campaign are holding another fun filled Double Bill. This time it's a Double Creature Feature of 'Murders in the Zoo' and 'Day of the Animals.'

With that in mind, make yourself a drink, put the pets outdoors and settle down with the Fright Writer Top 6 Killer Animals Films. This list is strictly for real life beast only, no aliens, fantasy creatures, make believe monsters or anthromorphic animals.
Joe Dante's fish feeding frenzy film clearly apes Jaws, resort owner Buck Gardner is clear an imitation of Mayor Larry Vaughan. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and even Piranha's tagline references it's predecessor; Then... you were shocked by the great white shark - Now... you are at the mercy of 1000 jaws! Alexandre Aja ramped up the comedy in his remake in 2010.
Lake Placid
A much underrated comedy horror. A giant crocodile starts picking off tourists and rag tag group are sent to investigate. No man, woman, cow or bear is safe from this killer croc.

A product of the 1950s nuclear fears, Them! is about ants mutated into giant, man-eating insects by atomic testing in New Mexico. Without doubt, the best of the many bug films of the time and featured in a previous Classic Horror Campaign event.

The Birds
Alfred Hitchcock's adaptation of Daphne Du Maurier sees him link up with his muse Tippi Hedren for the first time. The sheer terror of a usually placid animal turned violent and in Hitch's inimitable style leads for an unforgettable classic.

Jurassic Park
Sorry fundamentalists, dinosaurs did exist and nobody brought them to life on screen quite like Spielberg. From the first jaw dropping scene that we see the dinosaurs flocking through fields, Jurassic Park is a breathtaking ride not least the heart stopping T-rex attack.

Another Spielberg classic that may not only be the best creature feature of all time, but may just be the greatest horror film of all time. Based on Peter Benchley's novel of the same name, Jaws was arguably the original summer blockbuster and marked a turning point in American cinema.

And that's the Top 6 Killer Animal Films list. To feel the full force of animal fear be sure to get your tickets to the Double Creature Feature now.

Video Nasties: Part 2?

A certain, unwanted renaissance is happening throughout Britain. With a neo-Thatcherite government, the worst of the 70s and 80s is slowly seeping into everyday life.

Along side the cuts, strikes and recessions, another, more subtle beast is rearing it's hideous head. Could the latest interloper be the return of the video nasty legislation?
The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) has powers to effectively ban films to protect the public from films that "pose a real, as opposed to a fanciful, risk [to] potential viewers." I, personally, have a problem with this concept. I don't believe that, as an adult, any board (government run or otherwise) should decide what I am allowed to watch. However, that is not what this about.

In 2010, the BBFC demanded that 'A Serbian Film' cut over 4 minutes of footage in order to obtain an 18 certificate. It was the largest cuts ordered in over 16 years. A year later, Tom Six's 'The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence)' was refused any classification and told that no amount of cuts could redeem it. After an appeal from distributors, the BBFC changed their stance and some 32 cuts laters, granted a certificate.
This is just part of the what may be to come though. Recently, the media as continued to ramp up the links between horror films and vicious crimes. Headlines scream them out to a baying, misunderstanding, misinformed public; "Sadistic Horror Film Fan," "Saw Torture Film Fan," "Horror Fan Jailed." The media, including some very respectable streams, regurgitate the phrase like it is a driving force or motivation.
In a recent case, a judge went so far as to mention it in court, sighting Australian film "The Loved Ones" and comparing a murder to a scene from the film. It is a worrying trend that is building in a society easily lead by a media that often puts sensationalism before responsibility and as history shows, it is not always the reasonable opinion that gets heard, but the loudest and often most hysterical.

Public hysteria coupled with and over zealous certificate board could lead to disasterous consequences for horror. Hopefully, common sense will prevail before such actions commence, but common sense has so far been absent in most other decisions.

So, be aware, you may sit at home and watch horror films right now, but who knows what evil may be lurking around the next corner. Maybe, even another Mary Whitehouse lies in waiting.

With that in mind I guide you to the BBFC Guidelines Review 2013, your chance to input your opinions on the classification process, I implore you to have your say.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Book Review: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies - Jane Austen & Seth Grahame-Smith

When I was in school I hated 'Pride and Prejudice.' To me it was 'chick-lit' and no matter how long ago or how well it was written, that did not change. Truth be told, I still don't much care for it now.

How would I have felt, however, if Austen had added some shuffling, flesh-munching corpses to the mix? Thankfully, Seth Grahame-Smith answers that age old question with 'Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.'

The answer is that it certainly makes it more fun and more silly, even if the joke wears a little thin as Grahame-Smith pushes too far at times.

Any schoolboy or girl with little interest of Austen's work forced to sit in English Lit classes (of which there are many I'm sure) will wish this had made the syllabus.

The idea is sometimes too far, but simplified it could be easily and joyously adapted for the screen and if rumours of Natalie Portman's involvement prove to be true, all the better. Hopefully, Portman will be involved in front of the camera as well as behind the scenes and could give some real quality to the Bennet role.

Should the film ever reach the cinema, the tagline is surely already written... "The Good Lord saw fit to close the gates of Hell and doom the dead to walk among us."

Witching and Bitching!

Occasionally, in the dark and grisly world of horror, something catches my eye. Amid the generic nonsense, pointless remakes or unwanted sequels, something fresh and original grabs you like the boogeyman under your bed and won't let you go.

Sometimes it's a trailer, sometimes artwork, sometimes a mere concept or tagline is enough. For me, these films are often from mainland Europe. With that in mind, I present to you 'Witching and Bitching.' A film that appears to be as frantically, crazy as the title suggests.

The latest film from Spanish director Álex de la Iglesia, who is fast creating a reputation for himself in his homeland with his unique black comedies. If the trailer is anything to go by, this film will only serve to enhance it.

The trailer is one crazy image after the next, from Jesus with a shotgun to hands reaching from the toilet via flashing nuns. Delightfully madcap and deliciously shot, Las brujas de Zugarramurdi (Literally translated as 'The Witches of Zugarramurdi') tells the tale of a crew desperate man who steal 25,000 gold rings. Antonio (whose wife lets them down dramatically) and Jose, with his son in tow. When things go awry the group run make a break from the police only to run into a horde of crazed women with a taste for flesh. 
If the film is half as brilliant as the trailer suggests then it is rocketing toward the top of my "must watch" list.

Thank God for Spanish horror films. Viva Espana!

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Top 6: Irish Based Horror

With March well under way St Patrick's Day is almost upon. We'll all raise a Guinness or two to Paddy and the Emerald Isle despite most of us being as close to Irish as we are to being the next Pope.

However, with the snake banishing patron saint in mind here is my list of Top 6: Irish Based Horror films.

Dorothy Mills
Not one for the lovers of action packed slashers or gore whores, Dorothy Mills is a very slow burning tale. The titular Dorothy has violently abused a child and psychiatrist Carice von Houten is sent to to investigate. Cue ghosts, rape, murder, mad priests and Irishmen playing the "you ain't from around here, are ya boy?" role. The film lacks polish, loses direction and could have been much better, but Jenn Murray excels as the multi personalitied Mills and, if you completely ignore the comparisons to The Exorcist (It really is nothing like it in the slightest), you might just enjoy it if you give it a chance.

The Ten Steps (short)
A cracking (or should that be craicing) little atmospheric short from Brendan Muldowney. Never has walking downstairs been so terrifying. I won't spoil anything for you, just watch the video below.

A film not set in Ireland, not filmed in Ireland and containing very few Irish actors. So, what makes it so Irish? The wee Irish fella running around killing people to protect his gold and chasing a young Jennifer Aniston in her first feature. The film is silly and ridiculous but genuinely quite fun, it's certainly better than some other films Aniston made (I'm looking at you 'The Bounty Hunter.')

Ps. Fuck you, Lucky Charms!

An underrated stoner horror flick, shrooms is based around a couples retreat with a difference, they are going to go high. At least, that's the plan until Tara chows down on a "Death's Head" mushroom. People start dying, but is it just Tara hallucinations or something more sinister? Cue talking cows, a dogging death scene and a pretty nifty twist ending and you've got a pretty decent horror film.

Wake Wood
I'm sure no horror fans was disappointed when it was announced Hammer would start making horror films again. Many did approach with trepidation, however. Rightly so, Hammer's reputation was a big one to live up to, Wake Wood doesn't let Hammer down though. An ominous and atmospheric tale of resurrection (in direct comparison to the fate of Hammer themselves). Timothy Spall's chilling turn is excellent in a taut chilling horror with a shocking end.

Killer cows? A comedy horror right? I mean how scary can cows be? Well plenty fucking scary in Billy O'Brien's Isolation. A tale of caution for genetic engineering, Isolation is gripped by an ever increasing, ever present, somber atmosphere that draws you in and never let's you go. The rural location gives you the claustrophobic setting the title suggests and allows for some excellently original scenes (including one with a slurry pit). A great film, not short of a death or two. Barnstorming (sorry, I couldn't resist).

That's my Top 6 Irish Based Horror films, thanks for reading and la fhéIke Pádraig shona daoibh.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Top 6: Crazy Killer Couples

With Valentine's Day fast approaching, love is in the air and as we all know, love does strange things to people. Sigmund Freud said, "One is very crazy when in love," which is never more true than with the half a dozen couples below. Here are my Top 6: Crazy Killer Couples.

6. A Perfect Getaway
What better way to show somebody you love them than by whisking them away on a Hawaiian honeymoon? If it's not your honeymoon then fear not, simply kill off the cute, young newly weds whose honeymoon it is and stand in their place. It will be even more romantic than that time you killed the neighbours dog at your date by the lake, right Rocky?

5. Mum & Dad
What do you get the man in your life who has everything? A Polish airport cleaner with a 'dodgy visa' so you can play out your weird pervertions together (Not to mention the torturing, killing and crucifiction).

4. The Loved Ones
Every parent should love their child, though definitely not as much as Daddy loves Lola in this excellent, Australian horror. Fraught with creepy sexual overtones between father and daughter that are as subtle as Ed Gein’s dating technique, The Loved One is chillingly gruesome and crazily fucked up… just like our happy, crazy couple.

3. Bride of Chucky
What’s scarier than a talking doll possessed by the soul of a crazed serial killer? Two talking dolls possessed by the souls of crazed serial killers of course. After years of torturing teens and tots alone, Chucky is finally reunited with his long lost lust Tiffany to terrorise them together (including a young Katherine Hiegl pre shitty romcoms).

2. People Under the Stairs

Our unnamed lovers from The People Under the Stairs certainly check a lot of crazy couple boxes;
  • Live in a scary house – Check
  • Own a scary pet – Check
  • God fearing – Check
  • Refer to each other by creepy names – Check
  • Own a lot of weapons – Check
  • Hidden treasure – Check
  • Studded leather gimp suits - Check
  • Teenagers from the town imprisoned in the basement – Check
  • Oh… Incestuous brother/sister relationship - Check
Yep, they’re crazy.

1. Heavenly Creatures
Based on the real life story of the Parker-Hulme murder, Heavenly Creatures is just that age old love story; Girl meets girl and become friends, girls become inseparable, girls’ God fearing parents worry that their souls may be damned by homosexuality, girls’ parents try to split them up, girls bludgeon parents to death with rocks in a stocking. Ah, love.

So, there we have it, the Top 6 crazy killer couples. Happy St Valentine's Day.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Blood, Boobs & Booze: A Night at the Theatre with Circus of Horrors

Had we not been late, it would never have happened. If we were on time we would have gone into the show with everyone else, taken our seats and settled down to watch Circus of Horrors.

But we were late, only by a minute, but that was late enough. Now the beautiful Mrs Fright Writer has been set upon by lunatics… creepy lunatics completely clad in white jump suits, their faces concealed by white ski masks. They tug at her, try to forcefully remove her coat and, when she tries to escape to safety, they drag her back to commence their fun. A glamorous, curly haired woman giggles uncontrollably as she looks on, never intervening, enjoying the high jinks.

However, we are laughing too. There is nothing sinister here, this all performance and before anybody even treads the boards the show has begun for us because the attacking lunatics and the curly haired on-looker are part of the experience. It’s one of the beauties of Circus of Horrors; outside the theatre, in the foyer and in the show itself, the audience is always involved.

Whether it’s the lunatics crawling to the stage across the auditorium seats and audience heads or the volunteers hauled on stage to take part tricks; the medium for a possessed doll, the wearer of a water filled top hat, the victim of the switch in the banana trick. The front 5 rows are particularly involved, getting soaked by the Mighty Michaela’s alcohol, flashed by Captain Dan, drench in performers’ blood and showered with glitter by Anastasia IV as she spins high above the stage, attatched only by her hair.

There are also new freaks to interactive with in the circus this time, Vitali the contortionist and a real life, authorised, genuine, bona fide Mexican wolf boy… who walks on swords.

It is the old heads of the cast that really make the show however, none more so than my personal favourite Hannibal Helmurto. Hannibal is a sword swallower with a fork tongue, floating ribs, skin like an art covered canvas, implanted prehistoric mammoth ivory teeth and, scariest of all, is a former German tax man. *shudders*

This troupe of high flying, death defying, trick performing, freaks is lead by ring master and inventor Doktor Haze, a madcap genius with horror in his heart and music in his soul.

This circus is like no other that ever rolled into your town. It's chock full of danger, blood, nudity, sexual references, bad language and rock 'n' fucking roll! Circus of Horrors is glitz and guts, glamour and gore, all with a good sense of humour. If you have never seen it before, I urge you to book tickets now and maybe I'll see you at the show.

Until then, as the bad Doktor always says, "may all your dreams, be nightmares!"

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Top 6: Toughest Heroines

Every February the starlets and sirens of horror are celebrated with Women in Horror Month.

WiHM is an event that not only seeks to show affection to the finest females of frightening film, but also assist those who are underrepresented, educate about discrimination and assist in achieving gender equality.

It's a fantastic organisation, straight from the pulsing brain of Hannah Forman aka Hannah Neurotica.

In celebration of the event here is The Fright Writer Top 6: Toughest Heroines.

6. Clarice Starling - Silence of the Lambs
Special Agent Starling is little more than a student when she and the infamous Dr. Lector cross paths. A lesser character would have been swallowed up by Hannibal, in every sense of the phrase. Not Clarice though. Sure, Starling has her weaknesses, but it's overcoming them that proves just how strong she is.
Voted the 6th Greatest Protagonist by AFI, she was the highest ranking heroine.

5. Alice - Resident Evil
The Resident Evil films are far from great, but it does have a couple of great female characters. Michelle Rodriguez's Rain Ocampo is tougher than any of her male colleagues and boast an attitude and edge to match.
Without doubt though it is Milla Jovovich's Alice that is the force to reckoned with as she picks off zombies with ease ans looks pretty damn good at the same time. Forget damsels in distress, this is all about ass kicking in that dress and Alice is queen.

4. Nancy Thompson - Nightmare on Elm Street
Nancy is just a school girl when the first Nightmare on Elm Street picks up. That doesn't hold Nancy back however and as people started to die in their sleep Nancy is the only match for razor-fingered, sharp-tongued, paedophilic, 'bastard son of 100 maniacs,' Freddy Krueger.

3. Rae Ingram - Dead Calm
Nicole Kidman looks young enough to be Sam Neill's daughter in this film. Don't let those innocent looks fool you, this Aussie girl is as hard as Ayers Rock as she battles to save her husband's life in a role reversal to usual cinematic norm. Take that sexism.

2. Sarah - The Descent
There are a number of powerful women in The Descent who could have made this list had the list been longer. However, with just 6 places up for grabs it's Shauna McDonald's Sarah that makes it.
As if losing your family in a traffic accident isn't enough to deal with Sarah takes on pot-holing, "crawlers" and her own psyche with insurmountable mental strength. Does she make it? Well that depends in if your ending is from the US or UK.

1. Ellen Ripley - Alien
The can only be one winner of my toughest heroine list. Sigourney Weaver's Ripley was the woman who dared to take centre stage in the sci-fi/horror genre. She wasn't a scream queen or final girl, she was something all of her own. She was gutsy, glitzy and glorious. She was the the tough heroine before tough heroines were committed to screen.
Ripley is a role model that girls could really look up to. She wasn't a princess sitting in a castle, looking pretty an waiting to be rescued, she was surviving for herself. No need to be a powder-puff princess when you can be a gun totting Goddess.
Ripley is top of the list because without her, there would be no list.

That's my Top 6 let me know yours below.

For more information on Women in Horror Month go to:

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Sometimes They Come Back... for More

In horror, somethings never die. From immortal vampires to the unstoppable Jason Vorhees, even when you think they have come to a timely end, they get back up and keep doing what they do best.

Sometimes, it's not just images on celluloid that defy torturous, barbaric deaths though. Hammer's revival from beyond the production grave is as incredible as any work of fiction.

Many of the stereotypes of horror are implanted in popular culture because of Hammer's influence. The darkened woodlands, the creepy castle, evil gentry and, of course, beautiful, busty starlets racing around to flash their fangs and cleavage to one and all.

For many years Hammer was at the forefront of the British film industry. Whether it was creating classics or churning out trash, Hammer was much loved and often adored. It created stars of the highest calibre, Christoper Lee, Peter Cushing, Ingrid Pitt, the list goes on and on and on (though Lee undoubtedly tops it).

However, when British culture, society and cinema took a fall so did Hammer. The company ceased to produce films for almost three decades.

Now Hammer has risen from the ashes, a new, stronger beast.

The busty babes are gone, the frightful castles a memory and the woodlands have been cutdown and paved over. This is still Hammer's heart thudding away inside, however. Hammer may not have seen much action in a long time, but it has kept up with the times.

Take a look at 'The Resident.' Woodlands are replaced by sprawling urban cityscapes and upper classes by landlords, but the terror and horror is unmistakable, as of course is the incomparible Christopher Lee.

Hammer's rebirth is much like those another of it's new offerings, 'Wakewood.' It's essence is the same, but it is newer, more sinister and something you definitely should not take your eyes off for a second.

Hammer may have officially returned in 2007, but in 2012 it has made it's stay. So, welcome back Hammer. You have been sorely missed.