Friday, 30 January 2015

RAW REVIEW: SCREAM PARK

When I reviewed Dorchester's Revenge: The Return of Crinoline Head last year, I praised the film for its throwback feel to the heyday of slasher flicks.
I think there is a real demand for unapologetic slasher movies today — a lot of horror fans were raised in the mid-Eighties, the glory days of the sub-genre. There is a real affection and nostalgia for some of these films.
Also, since horror became saturated with movies featuring masked killers picking off cookie-cutter characters on certain dates, the slasher has tailed off somewhat. The spate of teen-friendly slashers that followed in the wake of Scream were widely derided for being too toothless (or more precisely, too bloodless) while the more recent trend for torture p0rn movies has left slasher fans cold due to their meanness, a lack of fun and suspense.
So with that in mind, I was intrigued when I head about Scream Park. It boasts an old school slasher premise, using its setting as a hook and boasting a big cast of characters that should all be eerily familiar to fans of the sub-genre.
Is this another classic along the lines of The Burning? Or are we looking at another cheap modern attempt to cash in a la Valentine?
Read on...

SCREAM PARK (2012)



Dir: Cary Hill
Starring: Wendy Wygant, Steve Rudzinski, Tyler Kale, Nicole Beattie, Kyle Riordan, Alicia Marie Marcucci, Dean Jacobs, Kailey Marie Harris, Nivek Ogre, Ian Lemmon, Doug Bradley

SPEEDY SYNOPSIS: I'll try not to spoil too much here but read on at your own risk.

Fright Land, a small local theme park, is winding down for closure following plummeting attendances. The staff are going through the motions, collecting their last few paycheques before the gates shut forever.
As the park closes one night we are introduced to the eclectic mix of characters that work there: fun-loving, busty Carlee (Harris); her boyfriend, lunkish jock Tony (Jacobs); disinterested, goth Missi (Beattie); cute blonde Allison (Marcucci); geeky loner Rhodie (Kale); sweet and good-hearted Jennifer (Wygant) and their uptight boss Marty (Rudzinski). Allison and Carlee use their feminine wiles to convince Marty to allow them the throw a staff party after hours on site. After Allison’s bad-boy, punk boyfriend Roy (Riordan) arrives with booze, hi-jinx ensue.
However, it isn’t long before two sinister masked figures are spotted roaming the park — and then the bodycount starts to mount.
Who are these masked maniacs? What do they want? And who, if anybody, will survive the night?



THE BEST BITS (minor spoiler warning): One of the problems with imitating the classic films of yesteryear with a limited budget is that sometimes the means do not match the vision. Amazingly, director Cary Hill has created a fantastic throwback that never feels compromised. This was obviously helped no end by the fact that the crew were able to shoot in a real theme park. The park makes for a great setting and doesn't just serve as a cool hook, it also has a purpose in the storyline too. It isn't just a gimmick, it's a legitimate plot device! 

This plot is decent enough by slasher standards but the real strength of the writing is in the dialogue and characterisation. Yes, the characters do fit into neat slasher archetypes, but they have more depth to them than most. They manage to be sympathetic, adding a level of realism to the roles that many of their slasher forebears would neglect to include. The writing is wonderful but the excellent cast certainly do contribute to the film's most successful moments.
The girls are all undoubtedly very attractive (this has to be one of the most unfeasibly good-looking casts I have ever seen) but they and their male co-stars are also all extremely talented performers. It's tough to pick any standout performers from what is an exceptional standard throughout, but if I had to single anybody out for praise I would say that the superb Wygant (who was all too easy to fall for), Beattie (who was cool, spiky yet very likeable) and Kale (whose dead-on performance meant that you couldn't help but root for him) are definitely names to look out for in the future. Each was genuinely brilliant.
Of course, if we are discussing the impressive thespians featuring in Scream Park it would be remiss to overlook the legendary Doug Bradley. The always awesome Bradley has a small but key role in the proceedings and chews the scenery with devilish relish. The man is a legitimate genre treasure and once again proves what a phenomenal, charismatic acting powerhouse he is while barely breaking a sweat. Upon securing Bradley's services I imagine Hill et al would have been jumping for joy for very, very good reason.
Speaking of Hill, he really impressed me with his work. Not just in disguising the movie's budgetary restrictions, but for the genuine skill he displayed with his assured direction. Some of the shots in Scream Park were amazing, especially that waterside shot of the monstrous Ogre. Hill knows his stuff and I cannot wait to see more from him in the future.
Hill's wonderfully lit and framed visuals are perfectly backed by the great soundtrack, which has a suitably Eighties vibe. Very cool!
Finally a quick word on the stuff that most slasher fans are looking for - gore and scares. The character design and vicious MO of the deranged killers is very creepy indeed and provides plenty of chills throughout. There are some imaginative deaths, plus one particularly shocking one that seemingly comes from nowhere, so the film also delivers on that count.



THE WORST BITS (minor spoiler warning): There's not much to find fault with in Scream Park but there were a couple of minor issues.
First, a pet peeve of mine. Doug Bradley's name is all over the packaging for this film, yet his screentime totals less than five minutes. What you do get is awesome but I want to warn hardcore Pinhead fans that the marketing team here may have been a little overzealous with their use of Bradley's name. I understand why they've done it, of course, but only thought it fair to clue you guys in.
I liked the interesting plot of the movie, but on closer inspection there are some quite major plot holes in the villains' plan. I shall try to remain deliberately vague here but I'll add a spoiler warning just in case, SPOILERS********** While sound(ish) in theory, it doesn't quite hold up when real world rules and regulations, not to mention the outrage of morality campaigners, are taken into account SPOILERS END********** Of course, as a throwback to retro slasher classics this can be overlooked as these regularly featured decidedly iffy storylines. In fact, compared to some of the silliness of some of the sub-genre's finest Scream Park fares very well indeed!
Some people might also find the flick a little predictable. It has easily the most telegraphed final girl I've seen in a long time, but this is part of the movie's throwback charm. If you know your slasher films you KNOW what distinguishes a survivor from blade-fodder, so why not embrace that wholeheartedly? As a celebration of a sub-genre it seems pretty obvious that the movie should adhere to that genres rules and for that I applaud it.
Speaking of the storyline somebody somewhere needs to sort out the plot description for the movie over at its IMDB page — it completely spoils the biggest plot twist! What the hell man?
I know I praised the acting throughout but I did have one teensy tiny gripe. I thought the fantastically creepy Nivek Ogre completely nailed all of his character's unsettling physical ticks and mannerisms, but on some (very rare) occasions his redneck accent slipped into becoming a little too cartoonish for my liking. Once again, if this was a deliberate thing, a shoutout to the OTT hillbillies of the slasher heyday, he did a fine job. Either way it certainly wasn't enough to ruin my enjoyment of the film or his performance as a believably psychotic antagonist.
Finally, while the flick delivered some cool scares and a couple of nice scenes of splatter, a film with this high a body count could have done with some more blood and guts. It wasn't disappointing by any stretch of the imagination and I understand that this was the area in which the pinch of a lower budget was more acutely felt, but I think a couple more gruesome moments could have propelled an already very good slasher flick even higher.



VERDICT: What a great find this one was! In case you hadn't guessed I LOVE slasher films and this gave me everything I could ask for from one: a cracking, fast paced story, pretty faces putting in incredible performances, mean as hell villains, witty dialogue, quality filmmaking, a groovy soundtrack and characters I could actually give a hoot about. Hill and his team absolutely nailed it. This is another easy recommendation to my fellow fans of stalk 'n' slash cinema.
And if that's not enough, I've been reliably informed that a sequel is on the way — and with a significantly higher budget. I was pretty impressed with what the team pulled out of the bag this time round, so I'm very excited to see what they can achieve with even more funds to play with.
If you want to learn more about this sequel, check Scream Park's official Facebook page for updates. While you're there, give it a big old Like too. These guys rock so they deserve it!

If you haven’t already, do please check out and like the Hickey’s House of Horrors Facebook page, which you can find here. It gives you a nice quick link to any new posts on this blog, plus regular news updates from around the web. I check the Internet so you don’t have to! Alternatively, follow me on twitter: The House@HickeysHorrors

Until next time, I hope you enjoyed your stay.

FRIGHTFUL FUN: PINGU THINGU



This absolutely hits the spot for me. 
As a father, I’ve experienced my fair share of bizarre pre-school Cbeebies TV programming, and one of the very longest running of these is the freaky Pingu.
First hitting screens back in 1986, the Swiss children’s favourite created by Otmar Gutmann, follows a weird family of stop-motion animation penguins who live in igloos in the Antarctic and bellow at each other in a gobbledy-gook style of speech.
It is as messed up as it sounds.

You know what else is messed up and takes place in the Antarctic? John Carpenter‘s phenomenal sci-fi horror classic The Thing!
If only somebody, somewhere had the time to combine these…

I think you know where this is going. Long-term reader of Hickey’s House of Horrors, Sgt Keelo was kind enough to bring the immensely talented and very, very awesome Lee Hardcastle’s Pingu/Thing hybrid (It needs to be called Thingu!) to my attention.
As a huge The Thing fan, the details in this incredible little video made my day and then some!
Want to check it out? OF COURSE YOU DO!!!!!
It’s right here! Go nuts!


Anybody out there got anything similar for me? Send it my way!


If you haven’t already, do please check out and like the Hickey’s House of Horrors Facebook page, which you can find here. It gives you a nice quick link to any new posts on this blog, plus regular news updates from around the web. I check the Internet so you don’t have to! Alternatively, follow me on twitter: The House@HickeysHorrors

Until next time, I hope you enjoyed your stay.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

SHARP SHOCK SHORT: PAINKILLER

Recently I was contacted by director Jeremiah Kipp about reviewing some of his work. I'm a pretty staunch backer of the creative talents currently working in indie horror, so I was quick to let him know that I'd love check out his work.
The very generous Mr Kipp then proceeded to send me a selection of his work.
I was mighty impressed by the first I watched, the darkly moody The Minions (there's a review on the way soon), so I settled down with another of his films, Painkiller, optimistic that it would deliver the goods.
And my word, it did.

PAINKILLER (2014)



Dir: Jeremiah Kipp
Starring: Jerry Janda, Thomas Mendolia, Kelly Rae LeGault, Jill di Donato

SPEEDY SYNOPSIS: This is a short so I'll try not to spoil too much, but read on at your own risk.

The short opens with a powerful besuited man (Janda) tracking down a skittish scientist (Mendolia) in a rundown building. As the two sit down to talk, we are shown the events that have led them to this moment.
In the not too distant past the scientist and his partner (LeGault) where working on a unique solution to the agony caused by terminal cancer. These colleagues (and lovers) felt that doping the dying until they gradually overdose was cruel — they aimed to create something that could return some dignity to the afflicted.
What they finally made was a creature, a slimy and repulsive looking invertebrate that would bond onto the spinal chord of a host and nullify the body's responses to pain stimuli, actively thriving on these and instead flooding the host's system with endorphins. This is a creature that could literally transform pain into pleasure.
Unfortunately the two used their entires research budget in creating the symbiote (the male scientist refuses to call it a parasite), leaving no funds to test it. This led to desperate measures — and after a brief discussion the pair decide that it should be inserted under the skin of the female scientist.
However, all has not worked as it should. How can a creature designed to survive on the pain generated by terminal cancer cope in a perfectly healthy woman? What toll has this taken on the couple, their relationship and their bodies? And what interest does the besuited man have in all this?



WHY IT WORKS: Painkiller boasts a fantastic premise, full of imagination. It is a unique and fascinating sci-fi/horror with real human heart and emotion. The story is undoubtedly very clever, combining science fiction, horror and character study in one neat package.
It examines the true nature of love and destruction — asking the viewer could you truly hurt the one you love? It is undoubtedly very shocking, going to some dark, dark places (I will now be chilled to the core every time I hear somebody say: ‘It isn’t enough’) and takes its intelligent base scenario to a truly warped conclusion.
I loved the way that this monstrous story sprang so much from good intentions: the characters of the scientists noble aspirations turning against them, until eventually the man’s own squeamish sense of decency condemns them to something far, far worse.
While the writing of the characters was very strong, special credit must go to Mendolia and LeGault for their fantastic performances in their parts. Legault will undoubtedly gather plenty of praise for her wonderful work in the role of the pain-addicted, disturbingly masochistic female lead. This is a challenging role and she runs with it. Every single one of the most disturbing scenes in this short focuses on her and she is a revelation. I will look out for her name in the future, she is very much an actress to watch.
Mendolia’s role is the less flashy, the less showy of the leads, and it could easily be overlooked. However, that is doing a grave injustice to the complexity of the part and the skill that Mendolia displays. He makes the scientist sympathetic, uncertain and desperate, yet still shows flashes of the hubris that led him along this path. He is a truly tragic character, a potentially great man brought low by his own fatal flaw. Mendolia GETS this and brings the character to life brilliantly. This is a talented actor.
I have read some complaints about writer Janda’s role as the mysterious individual who has tracked the pair down. Yes, he is eerily blank, but I think this is very much by design. I will discuss this in more detail below. You may be better off skipping past the following section until after you’ve watched the short, then coming back. SPOILERS********** He is a twisted individual, a devilish sadist who has become jaded due to the nature of his work. His very character is one who has lost the spark of life. This is why so many people also praise his work towards the end of the short when his true nature is revealed, now he has a new challenge he finds his verve once more. SPOILERS END**********
The cast are great, the story is great and guess what? Jeremiah Kipp's direction is great too. I particularly admired his restraint during the more intense scenes, using suggestion rather than gallons of garish gore to create a far more disturbing atmosphere. This isn’t to say that the film doesn’t deliver some intense scenes of torture and mutilation (it does) but Kipp cleverly makes the short about so much more than that. He uses lighting, framing and editing to ensure that each shot delivers exactly what it should — there are scares and real emotion in this short’s compact 12-minute runtime and it offers a chilling, thrilling examination of the human condition, discovery, addiction and codependency. 
Painkiller is clever, shocking and very well-made. Check it out, you will not be disappointed.



SO WHERE’S IT AT? The short is available to rent or buy at a bargain price on Vimeo right here! Alternatively, you can pick up a DVD and a wealth of cool merchandise at the short’s official web site, so you’ve got no excuse people! 
Also I suggest that you hit the Painkiller Facebook page with a Like. It’s a great short and well worthy of your support.

10 WORD WRAP UP: Body-horror, science-fiction and torture in this fantastic film


If you haven’t already, do please check out and like the Hickey’s House of Horrors Facebook page, which you can find here. It gives you a nice quick link to any new posts on this blog, plus regular news updates from around the web. I check the Internet so you don’t have to! Alternatively, follow me on twitter: The House@HickeysHorrors

Until next time, I hope you enjoyed your stay.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

SHARP SHOCK SHORT: THE BRAIN HACK

I’ve had the pleasure to cover a pretty good run of great shorts on this site so far in 2015 — from She to Call Girl, from Ghost Train to Snake With A Human Tail to Steve Kahn’s Fear.
And now I’m hitting you with another award winning film. The Brain Hack will be FREE to view on the film’s official site from 30th January. So to wet your appetite, here’s my EXCLUSIVE review.
Will this latest award winner break the streak of great shorts? Read on…

THE BRAIN HACK (2014)


Dir: Joseph White
Starring: Edward Franklin, Alexander Owen

SPEEDY SYNOPSIS: This is a short, so I’ll try not to spoil too much but read on at your own risk.
While on a film studies course, impressionable student Harper (Owen) meets brilliantly wacky Fallon (Franklin) who shares his daring vision.
Using a knowledge of neurotheology, Fallon believes that he has discovered a way in which he can cause spiritual enlightenment and religious awe using a carefully constructed series of images, utilising light and symmetry to cause the viewer to ‘see God’.
Presenting a well-constructed argument citing various religious experiences and using some experimental software, Fallon follows the real theory that temporal lobe epilepsy can be linked with several sets of ‘religious behaviour’.
With this in mind, he and Harper use neuroimaging to work out exactly the right sequence of images to cause ‘a glitch in the brain’ and incur a Divine experience in the viewer. 
However, after testing the footage, Fallon starts to see shadowy figures observing him, drawing ever closer. Has the research drawn the attention of a secretive religious sect? The Government? Even the Devil himself?


WHY IT WORKS: How apt that a film that focuses on the workings of the brain should be one of the most intelligent shorts I’ve ever seen. As a premise alone, based on some pretty weighty scientific theories (and I do stress that these are very much theoretical) this is not a piece of throwaway popcorn cinema. 
Of course, this doesn’t even factor in the deeper issues and themes of the short, religion and the aesthetic, devoutness as an abnormality, god as a construct of the mind, the divine creativity of the media and the worship of the viewer. These are huge subjects, well worthy of contemplation, and the short does a marvellous job of provoking some discussion and contemplation of each.
If I’m making The Brain Hack sound quite dense or dry, I really need to say that this is most certainly not the case. It is intellectual, but it never foregoes its primary mission to entertain. There are plenty of thrills to be had throughout, from the nerve-shredding opening scene to that in which Harper finds himself pursued by a menacing masked assailant. These are legitimately thrilling moments and are guaranteed to get pulses racing.
There is also plenty of entertainment to be had from the shifting dynamic of the relationship between our two young filmmakers. As Fallon becomes more deeply immersed in his research the paranoia it induces threatens to consume him. The desperate lengths to which he is prepared to sink to complete his work are undoubtedly extreme, but he still remains a sympathetic character.
This is due, in no small part, to the performance of the absolutely fantastic Edward Franklin. Franklin has been picking up best actor awards for his turn as Fallon and I COMPLETELY concur. He is wonderful, making the character likeable, erratic, at times arrogant and inherently flawed yet still brilliant and captivating. I‘m not one for this sort of thing usually, but if Steven Moffat is looking for a new Dr Who anytime soon, he could do a lot worse than to audition Franklin for the role. This is a young man who will go a very, very long way.
Of course, this isn’t a one man show and Alexander Owen has an equally large role to play. Luckily, Owen is every bit as fantastic in his portrayal of Harper. There is plenty of range to this character and Owen nails it. He serves as a great audience surrogate in the earlier exposition scenes, but then takes on a very different role as the film progresses. He has some wonderful moments during the short’s brisk runtime and, like Franklin, I shall watch Owen‘s further career with great interest.
But back to writer and director White’s highly intelligent story — this is a film with a smart, cutting plot, one with plenty of twists and turns leading to a truly amazing conclusion. 
Furthermore, White tells the story well. Dan Stafford Clark’s cinematography is a revelation while White’s editing brings the film together perfectly. It looks fantastic, it zips by at a brisk and compelling pace, yet never feels rushed or clunky.
The dialogue is excellent, the two leads are wonderful and the plot is more intelligent, thought-provoking and weighty than any number of big-budget Hollywood sci-fi flicks. This is an easy recommendation for a truly great film. See it.


SO WHERE’S IT AT? It will be available to view right here at The Brain Hack’s official site from 30th January 2015. Get there, watch it and have one hell of a great time.
While you’re at it, check out the short’s official Facebook page. Give it a Like, while you’re there, film this smart deserves your support!

10 WORD WRAP UP: A top cast in an intelligent and thought-provoking thriller 


If you haven’t already, do please check out and like the Hickey’s House of Horrors Facebook page, which you can find here. It gives you a nice quick link to any new posts on this blog, plus regular news updates from around the web. I check the Internet so you don’t have to! Alternatively, follow me on twitter: The House@HickeysHorrors

Until next time, I hope you enjoyed your stay.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

SINISTER SIX: CREEPY CLOWNS

Like many of you, I was very interested to see the slew of images from the upcoming, Eli Roth-produced horror movie, Clown.


This is the latest in a long line of terrifying, greasepaint wearing nightmares and coulrophobia seems to be as prevalent as ever before.
So what better time than to take a look at six of the nastiest, most maniacal and generally unspeakable smiling psychos of all time?
Read on…

6. NOODLEDOME 


The hulking, cannibalistic Noodledome, as portrayed to gleeful, giggling perfection by Ryan Clapp, is monstrous. Present in both of the very talented Billy Pon’s directorial efforts, there can be few sights as terrifying as this behemoth looming after his victims, laughing maniacally as he measures them for a cranium splattering mallet shot. Despite his limited screentime, he steals the show in Doll Boy and has the most shocking of scenes during the INSANE mid-movie murder montage in Circus Of The Dead. I could have picked any of the troupe of psychotic clowns in CotD for this list, but Noodledome was the first of the gang to terrorise audiences. And I for one cannot wait to catch him again when Circus of the Dead hits our screens.

5. THE KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE
Killer Klowns From Outer Space, 1988


God, I love the Chiodo brothers’ cult-classic, popcorn comedy-horror masterpiece. Dammit, we NEED a sequel. 
The humour throughout is marvellous, but it is the practical effects triumphs that are the Klowns that really rock. These are incredibly ghoulish latex creations and, best of all, their M.O. really embrace the clown theme. Flying in a Big Top spaceship, wrapping victims in candy floss/cotton candy cocoons and using a variety of hilarious attacks (shadow puppet dinosaur anyone?) to rack up a huge body count — and massive laughs along the way. 
If you haven’t seen Shorty and the gang in action yet, you NEED to set that right, pronto.

4. TWISTY
American Horror Story: Freak Show, 2014


Not a big screen bad guy here, but this TV terror (and arguably the best thing in Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story: Freak Show) is still one of the most frightening clowns EVER. Sporting the most disgusting outfit and mask (and hiding an even more hideous facial wound underneath), Twisty struck a chill chord with audiences from the very second he appeared on screen, right up until the point his tragic backstory was revealed. Few who have witnessed his bloody and brutal interruption of a young lovers' picnic will ever forget that or the heart-stopping chase to camera that follows.
Brought to life with diabolical relish by John Carroll Lynch, Twisty was a brutal murderer, kidnapper of children and all-around living nightmare. 
Scary, scary stuff. 

3. ART THE CLOWN
The 9th Circle, 2008; Terrifier, 2011; All Hallow’s Eve, 2013



Most of the following is from a previous feature in which I heralded the sheer terror of Mike Giannelli as Art the Clown. I’m repeating what I said then because it still rings true three months on. 

Creepily clad in black and white, including his make up, Art has an impossibly angular face and rotting, pointed teeth in his grinning mouth. With dismemberment, mutilation and decapitation his raison d’ĂȘtre , Art does his job in complete silence. This doesn’t mean that he’s a typical, hulking silent slasher though, oh no.
Art is animated, his face expressive, especially when he descends into fits of silent giggles… the problem is, when he does, you aren’t laughing along. Art’s sense of humour is as dark as it gets. Art is one of the most terrifying screen boogeymen I’ve ever seen and well deserving of his place on this list.

2. PAPA CORN
Circus Of The Dead, 2014



I know I’ve already included one of the Circus of the Dead’s villains on this list, but they deserve more representation. Especially THIS one.

Long-term readers of Hickey’s House of Horrors know I’m a huge fan of Bill Oberst Jr, the hardest-working man in the industry and one of the nicest gentlemen I have ever had the pleasure to converse with. From his roles in Deadly Revisions, A Grim Becoming and Coyote, he is always on top of his game. But it was in his role in ‘Bloody’ Bill Pon’s Circus Of The Dead that I first came across his work — and I was blown away. 
The character is hideous — a sadistic, necrophiliac, serial rapist. Oberst’s portrayal is spine-chilling, switching from a manipulative, charming sociopath to a drooling, psychopath in an instant. The performance is wonderful, as is the way the character is written by Pon and collaborator Lee Ankrum. 
When CotD hits the masses, it will be a massive hit, thanks in no small part to the magnificent performance from Bill Oberst Jr as Papa Corn. This is quite possibly the greatest horror villain to come along in the past decade and the only reason Papa isn’t number one on this list is because of a bona-fide genre legend in the top spot.

1. PENNYWISE
Stephen King’s It, 1990



‘They all float down here!’
When writing about Tim Curry’s performance as the demonic being that goes by the name of Pennywise, I mentioned that I know a grown man who is now terrified of clowns due to watching Stephen King's It as a young boy. This is a true statement and a real testimony to Curry’s work. 
Obviously Curry is a magnificent actor with scores of brilliant performances to his name, and when combined with one of the greatest stories by the undisputed master of modern horror fiction, real magic was created.
The sneering, growling, shape-shifting Pennywise was a genuine boogeyman, an otherworldly monster that preyed on children, using fear to its advantage and stalking the town of Derry for decades.
Tommy Lee Wallace’s tv mini series may have its detractors but few will ever find fault with the way in which Pennywise is brought to life. The It remake, consisting of two feature film releases is on the way and I'm excited to see what happens with it, but one thing is for sure — whoever steps into the antagonist's oversized shoes this time has his work cut out for him.
The reason Pennywise takes this number one spot is simple: this is an iconic performance in an iconic role. 
Plus how many horror clowns can say they have petrified audiences in two different media?

So what do you think of the list? Are there any glaring omissions or choices you disagree with? Do you have a particular favourite creepy clown that you feel I've overlooked (and trust me, there are plenty that nearly made the cut).
Leave your comments below or drop me a message, it'd be great to hear from you.

If you haven’t already, do please check out and like the Hickey’s House of Horrors Facebook page, which you can find here. It gives you a nice quick link to any new posts on this blog, plus regular news updates from around the web. I check the Internet so you don’t have to! Alternatively, follow me on twitter: The House@HickeysHorrors

Until next time, I hope you enjoyed your stay.

Monday, 26 January 2015

THE WEEK’S HORROR HEADLINES (19th-26th January)

Not got time to trawl the web for all the top horror news of the last week? Well allow me to give you a bite-size breakdown of the all biggest nightmarish news!

1. RING REBOOT 'RINGS' CASTS ITS FEMALE LEAD



Italian actress Matilda Lutz has been cast as the female lead in F. Javier Gutierrez’s horror movie that reboots the horror franchise for Paramount.
Based on the J-Horror smash, Ringu, this is a new take on the terrifying legend of the cursed videotape. Read the Wrap’s story here.

2. BUMPER CROP OF IMAGES FOR ELI ROTH’S CLOWN



Want to see more from the long awaited, Eli Roth produced Clown? How’s THIS for a gallery!



















3. NEW TRAILER HITS FOR PIECES OF TALENT SEQUEL, A MISSING PIECE



I was a massive fan of Joe Stauffer’s Pieces of Talent, so I’m delighted to see the sequel moving ahead. Looking forward to it? You will be after checking out the trailer right here!

4. THE STRANGERS 2 FINALLY ON THE WAY!



After more false starts than I can count, it seems we may FINALLY be getting a sequel to 2008’s home invasion classic, The Strangers. As I’ve written before, this has been a long time coming, but now it seems to be pressing ahead with Marcel Langenegger attached to direct.
Read Bloody Disgusting’s story here.

5. EVANS LEAVES CROW REBOOT



Luke Evans, the impressive star of No One Lives and less impressive star of Dracula Untold has left Relativity’s reboot of the classic dark comicbook franchise.
I like Evans, so this is a bit sad, but let’s see who director Corin Hardy fills the role with before writing this one off. After all, it can’t rain all the time.
Read The Wrap’s story here.

6. NEW THIS WEEK



There’s a few flicks hitting the shelves this week. These include the highly regarded Honeymoon (available here), psychological chiller Phobia (available here), eerie horror mystery Neverlake (available here) and occult horror Where The Devil Hides (available here). If you catch any of these, do let me know your thoughts, I’m always grateful to receive recommendations!



If you haven’t already, do please check out and like the Hickey’s House of Horrors Facebook page, which you can find here. It gives you a nice quick link to any new posts on this blog, plus regular news updates from around the web. I check the Internet so you don’t have to! Alternatively, follow me on twitter: The House@HickeysHorrors

Until next time, I hope you enjoyed your stay.

RAW REVIEW: SHEEP SKIN

Despite the longevity of the werewolf myth, there really have been very few werewolf movies of any real quality. There seem to be literally dozens of great vampire flicks, but a mere handful of decent lycanthrope films.
Recently I heard about a new take on this age-old tale, Invasive Image’s Sheep Skin. The film has generated a lot of positive buzz so I knew I had to check it out.
Does it prove that there is life in the old dog yet? Or is this movie a howler? (I’m so, so sorry everybody, I’ll try not to do that anymore)
Read on…

SHEEP SKIN (2013)



Dir: Kurtis Spieler
Starring: Laurence Mullaney, Michael Schantz, Ria Burns-Wilder, Zach Gillette, Bryan Manley Davis, Jamie Lyn Bagley, Mark Resnik

SPEEDY SYNOPSIS: I’ll try not to spoil too much here, but read on at your own risk.

One evening when leaving his office, slimy philandering businessman Todd (Mullaney) is abducted by a gang.
He finds himself tied to a chair in a warehouse at the mercy of his captives, Nathan (Schantz) and his friends and fellow musicians in a punk band. They include his girlfriend Dylan (Burns-Wilder), the volatile Boston Clive (Gillette) and reluctant accomplice Marcus (Davis). 
As the film progresses we discover that Nathan’s sister Caitlyn was previously involved in an affair with the married Todd. However, prior to the kidnapping, Caitlyn was brutally murdered in an incident that police have since put down to an animal attack.
Furthermore, as Todd has been travelling around for business, there have been similar attacks in his vicinity… and each has coincided with the full moon. This leads the gang to believe that Todd may actually be a werewolf and they have kidnapped him during the latest full moon to prove this. They are armed and prepared to kill Todd should he transform, interrogating him to find out exactly what his motivations are, while Todd desperately tries to convince the group of his innocence.
However, unknown to both the band and Todd, his suspicious wife Nicole (Bagley) has decided to check up on him and plans to track him down. What does this mean for everybody involved in the tense stand-off at the warehouse? Is Todd really set to transform in to a ravenous creature of the night when the moon rises? Or is Nathan barking up the wrong tree? (sorry, I couldn’t help it!)



THE BEST BITS (mild spoiler warning): Sheep Skin is a great thriller, dressed up as a horror movie. It’s cool as hell and takes an interesting and intriguing premise (one with a compelling mystery built in from the onset). This central mystery is the film’s biggest, strongest selling point. 
I’ve said many times that high-quality story telling trumps any number of flashy special effects and overcomes any budgetary restrictions. Sheep Skin is prove of this.
The story (written by director Spieler) moves along at a brisk pace and is driven by some superb dialogue. The opening scenes of this film could have felt like the worst kind of exposition dump if the writing had not been up to scratch, but instead the characters are nicely introduced and the natural sounding dialogue gives us all the information we need quickly, succinctly and without ever feeling forced or awkward.
Of course, the dialogue can be poetry but still sound dreadful if the cast aren’t up to the task of delivering it — but this group are uniformly excellent.
Schantz is brilliant, a restrained but passionate performance in which he shows real chops as a leading man. He plays a complicated character, wounded and forced to face a situation that is so far out there his only course of action is to embrace it wholeheartedly or be crippled by doubt and grief. Schantz completely understands the internal dilemma of Nathan and knocks it out of the park.
I was unfamiliar with his work before this film, I shall certainly look out for him from now on.
On the other side of the coin we have Mullaney’s Todd. Mullaney also nails the role, knowing exactly how and when to show his hand with the different sides of the character’s personality. He is slimy, a little sleazy, but also strangely sympathetic. The desperation of his situation means you can’t help but feel for him — he stands accused of the most outlandish of claims by armed, possibly delusional individuals with a serious axe to grind. Mullaney knows how to pull the audience onside, even if some of the revelations about his character are pretty unsavoury.
Rounding off the core group are the tough, spiky Burns Wilder; the gloriously demented Gillette; reticent, sensitive Davis and Bagley’s suspicious woman caught in the crossfire. Each knows what their role requires and each delivers, giving their character a realism and believability that is refreshing to see in the genre. These guys and girls know their stuff!
So we have strong writing, a compelling plot and a cracking cast, what else could you ask for?
How about some assured direction from Spieler? Spieler uses all of the tricks at his disposal brilliantly, framing each shot for the greatest possible impact and ensuring that the movie keeps its cool atmosphere and simmering tension throughout.
The climax of the film becomes dizzying as the plot unravels, the pace seeming to pick up and the camerawork become increasingly frenetic, rapidly cutting back and forth between the key set pieces. Wonderful work.



THE WORST BITS (mild spoiler warning): There is very little to find fault with in Sheep Skin.
I suppose some may be a little disappointed with the amount of horror on display, there are few frights and with the exception of some mild scenes of violence, very little in the way of gore and splatter. This is a more cerebral film, so fans of the visceral may not dig it as much as I did.
Also, as discussed earlier, the budget for this flick is clearly quite low. I felt Spieler and his crew made excellent use of everything they had, but a couple of effects scenes were a little patchy. There's a clever use of lighting and editing to mask these problems though, so they don’t really affect your enjoyment of the viewing experience.
Finally, and this is more my personal opinion than a quantifiable issue, the ending. This is difficult to discuss without giving away spoilers, but I’ll do my best to remain vague. From the onset, the film has only a handful of possible resolutions. Halfway through the film we are given some chances to break away from these possible finales, but Sheep Skin doesn’t diverge from its course, instead reaching what I felt was the most obvious conclusion. This isn’t a huge problem because the route to this destination is so well-executed (as are the final scenes themselves) that I’m sure you’ll all enjoy it. I suppose the problem was that after the wit and intelligence of the earlier scenes I found myself expecting a clever twist in the tale that never materialised. Perhaps this is more an indictment on my personal preferences  than the film though? I do imagine so.




VERDICT: I had a great time with Sheep Skin. It’s a prime example of what a fine filmmaker can achieve with a strong story, great cast and a whole tonne of attitude. It’s clever, cool and offers a compelling new take on werewolf movies. It’s The Howling meets Reservoir Dogs and well worth your time and money. Track it down and sink your teeth into it, you’d be barking mad not to! (ok, that one really is the last one!)
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