Film

Lurid, gore-soaked and guaranteed to give you nightmares: new horror dissected by LaptopZombie...

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Review - Pretty Dead

Review - Pretty Dead

I try not to judge a book by its cover, but my hopes for PRETTY DEAD – an outbreak-cum-living-dead chiller from first time writer/director Benjamin Wilkins – weren’t high. For one thing, the film is found footage, a format that in the space of a decade has transformed from engaging novelty to the blight of the horror genre. Secondly, it’s a zombie movie (kinda – more on that later). Like found footage, zombies have their place, but have become synonymous w…

Published on Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Review - Insidious: Chapter 2

Review - Insidious: Chapter 2

You’ve got to hand it to James Wan – he’s managed to parlay one of cinema’s most limited narrative palates into a successful directorial career. His flawed and overrated SAW spawned a monster of a franchise (and helped turn the naughties into the decade of puerile torture porn), and 2010’s INSIDIOUS, which saw him reunited with actor/screenwriter Leigh Whannell, took full advantage of the change in public mood as audiences turned their backs on visceral sp…

Published on Monday, February 3, 2014

Review - Banshee Chapter

Review - Banshee Chapter

BANSHEE CHAPTER, a psycho/supernatural chiller that marries elements of US military lore, the psychedelic counterculture, rogue journalism, fortean radio phenomenon, and the otherworldly fiction of H.P. Lovecraft, marks the filmmaking debut of co-writer/director Blair Erickson. Confident, atmospheric and smart, it’s a triumph of cerebral chills. It’s also messy, derivative and lacking in original scares.

Published on Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Review - Carrie

Review - Carrie

Horror remakes are a tricky proposition; Stephen King remakes even more so. While there have been any number of terrible King adaptations down the decades (no one would complain – or care – if the likes of THE MANGLER, GRAVEYARD SHIFT or DREAMCATCHER were to be remade), there have also been more than a few classics. Who in their right mind would consider remaking THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, STAND BY ME or THE SHINING? (King himself unwittingly proved this po…

Published on Monday, January 27, 2014

Review - Ghoul

Review - Ghoul

The most interesting thing about GHOUL, an ‘80s-set would-be creature feature TV movie that first aired in 2012, is that it’s directed by Gregory Wilson, whose last film was 2007’s adaptation of Jack Ketchum’s sadistic chiller THE GIRL NEXT DOOR. Not to be confused with the risible romantic drama of a few years earlier starring Emile Hirsch and Elisha Cuthbert, Ketchum’s THE GIRL NEXT DOOR is straight-up torture porn, albeit at the more sophisticated end o…

Published on Monday, January 13, 2014

Review - Outpost 3: Rise Of The Spetsnaz

Review - Outpost 3: Rise Of The Spetsnaz

Like a drunken fumble at a party, the Nazi zombie subgenre seemed like a good idea at the time, but has since come back to haunt us. The original OUTPOST, released in 2007, along with Tommy Wirkola’s DEAD SNOW (2009), were two of the main progenitors of the phenomenon, and remain two of its best examples. Sadly, they’re the exception rather than the rule, and in the last few years we’ve been overrun with repetitive and tedious horror/war fusions keen to re…

Published on Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Review - Nightscape

Review - Nightscape

When is a killer car movie not a killer car movie? When it’s NIGHTSCAPE, from first-time writer/director David W. Edwards. The ‘sentient homicidal vehicle’ milieu is a small but thriving subgenre, which includes a couple of classics (Steven Spielberg’s DUEL and John Carpenter’s CHRISTINE) and a number of far-from-classics-but-still-a-lot-of-fun (Stephen King’s TRUCKS, Eric Valette’s SUPER HYBRID, Elliot Silverstein’s THE CAR). It’s to this last example, fi…

Published on Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Review - Dark Circles

Review - Dark Circles

If they’ve heard of them at all, horror fans will probably know Broken Lizard from 2004’s slasher spoof CLUB DREAD, co-written and directed by Jay Chandrasekhar (who went on to helm the big budget feature version of THE DUKES OF HAZZARD the year later, and has worked extensively in television since). Broken Lizard, of which Chandrasekhar is a founding member, is an American comedy troupe formed more than twenty years ago, that managed to make the (mostly s…

Published on Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Review - Solo

Review - Solo

It’s easy (and eminently satisfying) to write a scathing review of a terrible film (trawl our archives and you’ll find plenty of examples), just as it’s easy to sing the praises of an interesting and innovative piece of horror cinema. It’s much more difficult, and far less agreeable, to say bad things about an ostensibly good film. First time feature-length writer/director Isaac Cravit’s island-set horror/thriller SOLO presents just such a dilemma. Cravit …

Published on Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Review - Skinwalker Ranch

Review - Skinwalker Ranch

I’ll say this about SKINWALKER RANCH – it’s certainly not dull. Loosely based on the real Skinwalker Ranch, a property in Utah that boasts a fifty year history of every fortean phenomenon there’s a name for (and probably some there aren’t), the film is an exercise in found footage excess along the lines of Howie Askins’ unforgettable 2010 outing EVIDENCE. It’s not as good as Askins’ firm, if for no other reason than it doesn’t make a lick of sense, but nei…

Published on Monday, December 9, 2013

Review - The Last Days On Mars

Review - The Last Days On Mars

While horror comedies rarely hit the mark, there’s something about a horror/sci-fi mashup that just works. Those things we’re most afraid of – death, darkness, the unknown – are exemplified by the lifeless void of deep space, an environment so remote we’re still not able to reach it, and so hostile it could kill us in moments. And then there’s the question of what’s out there, lurking in the shadows, waiting to infect us or tear us limb from limb... Space …

Published on Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Review - The Upper Footage

Review - The Upper Footage

These days anyone with an iPhone and a laptop can make a movie, but how many filmmakers can claim to have created a phenomenon? It’s happened twice in the found footage subgenre; firstly in 1999, with Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez’s peerless no-budget chiller THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, and eight years later with Oren Peli’s spiritual follow-up, PARANORMAL ACTIVITY. These are films that have had a profound impact not only on horror cinema, but on cinema …

Published on Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Review - Haunter

Review - Haunter

It’s tempting to dismiss writer Brian King and SPLICE director Vincenzo Natali’s HAUNTER as nothing but a one-note high concept – GROUNDHOG DAY for ghosts. While that’s certainly part of it (and a big part), there’s a lot more to HAUNTER. It’s a slow-burning thriller that rewards careful attention to detail. It’s a character study that’s both frozen in time and skips back and forth through the decades. It’s a serial killer chiller, a mind-bending dream nar…

Published on Monday, November 25, 2013

Review - Borderland

Review - Borderland

It’s a hazardous occupation being an American abroad. Venture north to Canada and you risk being killed and/or consumed by a mythical Wildman (THE FRANKENSTEIN THEORY). Head south and you’ll fall foul of either a devastating earthquake or the widespread carnage that proceeds it (AFTERSHOCK). Venture further afield to Africa and there are giant killer crocs to contend with (PRIMEVAL), while Europe’s cultured veneer hides depraved Slovakian psychopaths (HOST…

Published on Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Review - Big Ass Spider

Review - Big Ass Spider

When you’ve seen one giant spider movie you’ve seen them all. That’s what I used to think, anyway –then along came BIG ASS SPIDER. Its splendid title notwithstanding, I have to admit to not expecting much from director Mike Mendez’s horror/comedy/sci-fi mashup. 2013 has already treated us to Hungarian director Tibor Takács’ SPIDERS, which, while not up to much in the title department, is ‘nostalgic scary sci-fi hokum at its most mindlessly, unrepentantly e…

Published on Wednesday, November 13, 2013