Do you like zombies? Do you love Manga? How about the mixture of zombies with the sexually alluring female characters of the beautiful Manga universe? Well that is what you get with this fantastic Anime Horror HIGHSCHOOL OF THE DEAD.
An ordinary day at Fujimi High School quickly descends into a blood soaked nightmare when a small group of students find themselves caught up in the middle of a Zombie Virus outbreak. Forced to kill their fellow students and a large number of their teachers the group find their way out of the zombie infested school and go in search of a safe haven. However as soon as they leave they learn that the outbreak is not only a local or even national problem but also a global one as the pandemic begins rages out of control and everyday moral codes begin to crumble.
From the first minute of the shows first episode you know this isn’t some cuddly everyday zombie cartoon and we watch the group violently fight their way through the blood hungry hordes of zombie school kids. With HIGHSCHOOL OF THE DEAD you get more horror and gore than you get in a lot of the live action zombie films from past and present. The storyline is brilliant and can only really be describes as WALKING DEAD meets AKRIA with a little bit of very provocative (and at times all out wrong) sexual attention on the female characters (alot of panty shots that after awhile you don’t notice) which is a normal thing with the old age rated Anime and Manga shows and films.
I wish that the series was a bit longer as the show only consists of 12 episodes all of which are 25 minutes long. The BLU-RAY edition is at the very high level of picture quality and is well worth the price.
HIGH SCHOOL OF THE DEAD is the perfect choice for fans of the zombie genre as well as fans of Anime shows. With a lot of gripping zombie battles and some humorous moments HIGHSCHOOL OF THE DEAD is a show that shouldn’t be missed.
Release date: August 29th
Format: DVD & Blu-Ray
RRP Price: (DVD) £24.99 (BLU-RAY) £34.99
Spring Of The Dead; Escape From The Dead; Democracy Under The Dead; Running In The Dead; Streets Of The Dead; In The Dead Of The Night; Dead Night And The Dead Ruck; The Dead Way Home; The Sword And The Dead; The Dead’s House Rules; Dead Storm Rising; All Dead’s Attack
In the year 1596 the long and barbaric war between Russia and Sweden is finally over. During this time of peace, brothers Erik and Knut are among two small groups of men sent to mark new borders that will separate Finland from Russia, a task that takes them through the cold and desolate countryside. During their journey the brothers encounter a man who Erik believes is a Russian sympathizer which leads to the man’s brutal murder. To add to their sins the brothers also leave the man’s young daughter to die a slow horrifying death in the cellar of the man’s home.
Later finding themselves in an inhabited village in the middle of an uncharted swamp, Erik and Knut become haunted by a manifestation of, who Knut thinks is the young girl they have left to die. The Manifestation also begins to affect the other members of the traveling party along with the villagers. The supernatural goings on seem to be connected to the sauna, a place that legend has it can wash away the sins of men but which the villagers are also very scared of.
Over the years there have been a handful of films I just don’t know how to explain when it comes to whether I enjoyed the film or not. EVIL RISING will have to be added to this list. The film is truly twisted. I loved the look of the demon liked creatures that start to appear nearer the end of the film, and they look like something you would find from the world of PAN LABYRINTH. The story was a little hard to follow at times but the art house style of the film and the polished acting skills of Ville Virtanen (BLACK ICE, THE BORDER) and Tommi Eronen (JADE WARRIOR) which keeps you drawn to this visually stunning film.
Is you like the films of Tarkovsky then EVIL RISING is a great choice of film to add to your DVD collection. It is rare to have a film with a supernatural element in this style of film to come out well and it shows the masterful directing skills of Antti-Jussi Annila. Was I a massive fan of the film? I’m not really sure, i am not a huge fan of the art house genre which could the reason that i am not 100% sure but it is defiantly worth watching and making your own mind up about it.
Release date: July 25th
Running Time: 80 Minutes
RRP Price: (DVD) £15.99
Julia (Belen Rueda – THE ORPHANAGE, SAVAGE GRACE), a woman who is suffering from a degenerative sight disease, finds her sister Sara (Also Belen Rueda), who has gone blind from the same disease, hanging in the basement of her home. The police and her husband Isaac (Lluis Homar – BAD EDUCATION, BROKEN EMBRACES) call it suicide over an eye operation that had gone wrong, but Julia sense that something else has caused her sister’s death and begins her own investigation. Slowly the truth begins to unravel as Julia finds out that a man, that no one seems to have noticed, must be behind her sister’s death. However the stress starts to become too much for Julia as her eye sight gets worse and worse until she finally loses her eyes sight altogether. But this invisible man hasn’t stopped at Sara; he is now watching Julia, hiding in the shadows. But how can you protect yourself from someone who is a shadow?
With JULIA’S EYES I found it worked on two genre levels. First you have a Drama, where we are pulled into the sad story of a couple who must come to terms with Julia’s inevitable loss of sight, an aspect of the story which makes up a big proportion of the films start. We then have the Thriller aspect, the hunt for clues, the killer watching in the shadows to the final showdown at the films gripping climax. Put both of these together and you get a brilliant display of screenwriting and direction from Guillem Morales.
Visually JULIA’S EYES is perfect. When Julia loses her eyesight the camera shots change to never seeing anyone’s face. In a way you are as blind as Julia which means you don’t know who is who, and this makes you ask yourself ‘is the killer someone we have already seen’ and I find this a genius way of adding even more terror to Julia’s situation.
With great direction, fantastic acting and the addition of Guillermo Del Toro in the producer seat, JULIA’S EYES deserves to be up there with the best of the best in the horror thriller genre.
Release date: September 12th
Format: DVD & Blu-Ray
Running Time: 112 Minutes
RRP Price: (DVD) £17.99 (BLU-RAY) £22.99
As a hurricane rages outside, the small team of deep-sea oil drilling rig settle in for the storm. Alone on the rig and a hundred miles from civilisation, their calm is short lived when a crew member goes missing The group go on an extensive search but is unsuccessful. Slowly, they discover that they are not alone and that a deadly creature is stalking them, killing them off one by one. Surrounded by nothing but ocean, their communication to land cut off and no way off the rig, the group try to survive the stormy night with an unrelenting force of death hunting them down.
THE RIG is one of those creature feature films that remind me of the creature features of the 80’s. Films like THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, where the costumes nowadays look outdated and fake. Does this ruin the film? Not particularly, but for people who are casual horror viewers this may be one of those films you shouldn’t watch.
Hardcore horror fans will probably see THE RIG as a film you will find circulating the Sci-Fi channel or the Horror Channel on those late night showings, tucked in there between MEGA SHARK vs GIANT OCTOPUS and films of that type. The story line has been tried and tested before, granted it has been done a lot worse, but it has that similar ‘group of people trapped somewhere with creature’ style which can be entertaining. The acting is passable with a mixture of rubbish and good acting which was very disappointing. The plot has a few questionable parts and the longer the film goes you feel that the screenwriter may have lost interest. Like with the previously reviewed SKYLINE, I found the ending un-needed and pointless. They had a perfect place to end the film but decided to draw it out longer.
Overall the film is okay and is very much watchable. Part time horror viewers wouldn’t really like this but a hardcore horror fan may like the slight cheese factor that only a creature feature can bring.
Release date: August 8th
Running Time: 94 Minutes
RRP Price: (DVD) £12.99
The After Dark Originals just seem to get better and better with the newest release SCREAM OF THE BANSHEE.
When college professor Isla Whelan (Lauren Holly - DUMB AND DUMBER, NCSI) and her students Otto ( THE COLLECTOR, FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST BROTHERHOOD ) and Janie ( GREEN LANTERN ) find an ancient box belonging to the Irish Templar, Isla considers it an interesting find. That is until she opens it. Inside the box is a severed head of a Banshee. Still unsure about the find they three of them study it, only to have the mouth open and screech at them. The head dissolves into thin air leaving them all shocked and disturbed.
What follows is a series of bloody and brutal encounters with the creature leading to an epic showdown. Just remember not to scream!
SCREAM OF THE BANSHEE is the kind of film I like to class as a hidden gem, a little like Tobe Hooper’s MORTUARY which I absolutely loved. It is a shame that we don’t see more films like this get a bigger cinema push as it is a lot more original than a lot of films coming out of the US at the moment. The acting was really good with even a small role for actor Lance Henriksen (ALIENS, PUMPKIN HEAD). The red hood of the human form Banshee had a red riding hood effect to it, and the image of the human banshee when it takes form in Shayla’s (Marcelle Baer – VAMPIRES SUCK) dream sequence was truly eerie.
The film seemed like an episode of SUPERNATURAL which, trust me when I say this, is a really good thing. The story flowed well and the showdown at the end was possibly one of my favorite creature fights since the FEAST films.
Good acting mixed with good effects and a well directed film from Steven C. Miller (AUTOMATION TRANSFUSION, UNDER THE BED) gives you a brilliant film that will without a doubt entertain horror fans for years to come.
Release date: July 25th
Format: DVD & Blu-Ray
Running Time: 94 Minutes
RRP Price: (DVD) £15.99 (BLU-RAY) £19.99
British film making at its best as we delve into the twisted world of BANE in this well directed micro budget horror which deserved winning best horror at LA Shriekfest.
BANE follows Katherine, one of four women locked in an underground cell with no memory of who they are or how they got there. As the four women undergo countless tests they begin to realise they are part of a terrifying experiment. One night the weakest member of the group, Natasha is branded with a number by a blood covered surgeon. As the night progress the women are branded one by one with the numbers that reveal the exact time that they will die. As the first women dies the rest must find a way to escape before the surgeon comes back for the rest.
When a low budget film is done right, bloody hell it’s done right. BANE is the kind of horror film that, even with a low budget, looks better then a lot of the horror films that you find in the shops. The set is very creepy, with electrified caging and the continuous ticking clock, and even though in a why it is a very simply built set, you don’t notice it. I did like the macabre calmness of the Dr. Murdoch, played by Daniel Jordan (SHOOTOUT, AIMLESS) making him more creepy then the surgeon during his time on screen. They film takes a slightly different route from the usual, people trapped in a room, horror when we get a glimpse of the bug like creature who is shackled to a table in another part of the complex where the girls are being held. This was actually a nice change and gives the film a different edge then I was expecting when I went into the film.
I was also impressed with the level of acting on show by the four leading women. Jessica Eaves, who plays Katherine, made a great debut as the leading lady of the film. She looks the part and acts the part which is a sign of good things to come for her acting career. It was also nice to see the very talented British actress (Lovely lady who I met at the screening of F during FrightFest 2010) Tina Barnes (F, HELLBREEDERS) as Natasha.
The only minor issue i had with this film was the ending, as i don’t want to give anything away I will let you decide for yourself but this could just be me in all fairness as I am very picky when it comes to endings.
Overall BANE was a very good film. It was well directed by James Eaves (HELLBREEDERS, THE WITCHES HAMMER) and had some talented actresses which gave this low budget film that big budget feel.
THE TASK follows six students who are taken hostage off the street. Scared for their lives they are huddled into a van and driven to a location in the middle of nowhere. It is only when the masks are removed that they realise they are in the first stages of a new Reality show called ‘THE TASK’ where the players have to complete gruesome tasks inside an old abandoned prison for the chance to win a hefty sum of money. However not all is as it seems, as unknowingly the show’s production team something evil is still walking the halls of the Prison. The ghost of the Infamous dead prison warden is back for revenge and one by one the player of the game become victims of the warden’s rage.
We don’t get many decent reality show style horror films. I for one was not a massive fan of MY LITTLE EYE and when they decided to make the mediocre HALLOWEEN RESURRECTION into a reality show inside the Myers house my soul died a little inside. THE TASK however was not one of these. We don’t just have a gripping reality show horror film and we have a good supernatural horror as well. The film has a good twist and turn ending that i wasn’t expecting, however a few of the deaths felt a little cheap, granted though a few of them make sense later on as the film progresses. It also came across very fresh even though this kind of haunted house, prison or hospital plot lines have been done many times before.
We have the usual collection of unknown actor including VANITY FAIR actress Alexandra Staden and British born Adam Rayner (STRAIGHTHEADS) who all did a great job and all giving their characters something more than the normal stereotypes.
Overall THE TASK was a brilliant addition to the After Dark Originals line up. The storyline was solid with twists I didn’t think would be there, and with good acting THE TASK is a film that should be in your DVD and BLU-RAY collections
Release date: July 11th
Format: DVD & Blu-Ray
Running Time: 95 Minutes
RRP Price: (DVD) 15.99
A flash back to FrightFest 2010 and yet another example of how much better Foreign horror is compared to American horror, I bring you THE PACK.
When taking a pit-stop during her solo road trip, Charlotte (Émilie Dequenne – BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF) has a run in with a gang of loud mouth bikers. Shortly after she picks up a hitchhiker named Max (Benjamin Biolay – STELLA), together they take it in turns driving until they pull up at a rundown Cafe named ‘La Spack’. As soon as they sit down the bikers arrive at the cafe, causing hassle and threatening to sexually assault both Max and Charlotte. The two are saved by the cafe’s owner and the bikers leave.
When Max suddenly disappears, Charlotte is sure something isn’t right in ‘La Spack’ and, after being asked to leave, breaks in after dark. Knocked unconscious Charlotte finds herself locked in a cage inside a dank Farm house and prisoner to the cafe’s psychotic owner.
When i first saw THE PACK at Film4 FrightFest 2010 I was blown away. As a massive fan of French horror this was one if the films I was truly looking forward to seeing. THE PACK stars some big names in French cinema with Philippe Nahon, known for his roles in BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF and my personal favourite SWITCHBLADE ROMANCE as well as Yolande Moreau who starred in the international hit film AMELIE, both bringing their expert acting to a flawless horror flick.
It is good to see that America hasn’t stolen this film yet (a habit that they have when it comes to foreign cinema) as THE PACK is truly a piece of art. Director Franck Richard has made a fantastic Writing and Directing debut with this film which has a gritty feel, not only with the surroundings in which the film has been shot but with a well fitting soundtrack.
Brilliant Acting, brilliant screen play and direction and just plain brilliant!
Release date: July 4th
Running Time: 81 Minutes
RRP Price: (DVD) 15.99