Thursday, 30 April 2015

SHARP SHOCK SHORT: PATRICK REA’S HOWL OF A GOOD TIME

There has been quite the upsurge in horror nostalgia recently, as plenty of movies and shorts look to emulate the classic silver era of the genre, the Eighties.
This comes not just in homage or replication of stories, themes and techniques most popular at the time (such as those in Headless, The Pick-Axe Murders Part III and The Heebie-Jeebies), but now in actual celebrations of the viewing process, in which smaller, local, independently run cinemas would screen any number of reprehensible and morally bankrupt (and absolutely brilliant fun) low-budget horror schlockers.
Patrick Rea’s Howl of Good Time from the folks at Fuzz On The Lens takes place in one such movie theatre, in an indetermined but loveably retro timeframe.
No prizes for guessing what creature may pop up there...

PATRICK REA’S HOWL OF A GOOD TIME (2015)



Dir: Patrick Rea
Starring: Tamara Glynn, Leslie Easterbrook, Renae Geerlings, Chris Lazarro, Morgan Collar

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

At a local movie theatre a ravenous crowd of horror fans queue up to buy tickets to a very special private screening of a cult classic genre flick, Foaming at the Mouth II
Among those queuing to get inside are three young girls, whose mischievous leader (Collar) claims to have a plan to get in.
After being turned away by the harried staff members, the young lady sneaks into the rear doors of the cinema, just before all ways in and out are sealed.
While she hides among the unruly patrons, the ushers (the wonderful trio of Glynn, Easterbrook and Geerlings) reveal exactly what is so special about the screening… and the audience. 
As the full moon rises outside the cinema all seems lost for our young hellraiser… or is there a twist in this tale?



WHY IT WORKS: l had a blast with Patrick Rea’s Howl of a Good Time. This comes as much from the all-american movie theatre setting and look of the film as from the story. Shot in such a way that the short feels as if it could be a scene straight from Spielberg's heyday, director Rea effortlessly transports us back to the days in which the genre was loved (and for good reason), rather than frowned upon and treated as a cynical, money-making cash-grab. It feels like a real love-letter to the genre, something echoed by the tremendous casting choices. 
In fact, the leading ladies will be familiar to genre fans for good reason. 
First, Leslie Easterbrook will be recognisable from her work in Rob Zombie's pictures, The Devil's Rejects and Halloween, plus older readers such as myself may still carry a torch for her due to her role as Callahan from the Police Academy movies. She's every bit as lovely now and delivers a fantastic performance here in PR'sHoaGT. Speaking of Rob Zombie alumni, Renae Geerlings, of Halloween II fame, makes up the second of our unholy trinity. With her own distinct motivation, she plays the less controlled usher and has tremendous chemistry with her co-stars. I look forward to seeing more of her in the future!
Last but not least, the wonderful Tamara Glynn (who also serves as executive producer) is arguably the standout performer. With genre credentials including Freddy's Nightmares and 1989's Halloween 5, she's once again totally on top of her game and clearly having a ball in her role as the third cinema usher. She's a joy to watch!
It isn't just the more experienced cast members who nail their roles, young Collar is also a revelation. Cute, inquisitive and with a serious discipline problem, she's the archetypal bad girl in class, yet remains a sympathetic lead throughout. This is a fine and fun performance from one so young, and I'm sure she will continue to flourish in years to come. Furthermore there are plenty of great cameos nestled in among the movie audience — keep your eyes peeled for plenty of indie players in the cinema seats.
Of course, the cast are helped in their work with the snappy dialogue and genuinely witty plot that Rea has penned. Little jokes such as 'a litter to feed' are delightfully subtle touches, while Collar's character's reaction to the news that she should come back next week for Frozen was laugh out loud funny.
Rea's writing prowess also gives us some decidedly grim but humorous moments — the onstage tombola for a tasty treat being a particular bleak highlight — and the twist ending more than delivers. It's kind of goofy, over-the-top, bloody, but most of all, great fun. It totally delivers on the tone of the film and left me with a great big smile on my face.
I mentioned the bloodiness of the film and the effects work here is pretty great. Once again echoing the splattery feel of Eighties classics, with some very nice make-up work (loved those contacts!), Patrick Rea's Howl of a Good Time delivers some fantastic little touches, reminiscent of the work in The Howling or An American Werewolf In London (albeit on not as grand a scale). This is yet another area in which the film looks and sounds fantastic. Director Rea really has done a tremendous job, making the film feel like a part of an era yet maintaining a modern level of polish.
Rea is clearly a talented guy and the enthusiasm he and his cast and crew have for the subject matter is all-too apparent. The film is frightfully good fun — what more could you wish for?



SO WHERE'S IT AT? Patrick Rea's Howl of a Good Time is about to embark on a run on the festival circuit, so check out short's Facebook page to see when it will be coming to a screen near you. Give it a Like while you're there too, these talented guys deserve this!

10 WORD WRAP-UP: The Howling meets Spielberg with a wicked sense of humour


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.

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, 27 April 2015

ALL THE WEEK'S HORROR HEADLINES (20th-27th April)

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. JURASSIC WORLD TRAILER!


Yes. That. 

2. WES CRAVEN BRINGING HORROR TO SMALL SCREEN


Horror maestro Wes Craven is developing two new shows for Syfy. One is based on the 2014 novel, We Are All Completely Fine, while the other is based on Craven's 1991 cult-classic movie The People Under The Stairs. Consider me VERY interested... 

3. M NIGHT SHYAMALAN’S THE VISIT GETS POSTER AND TRAILER


I may be speaking out of turn here, but I think it's safe to say that it's been a while since anybody was interested in an M Night Shyamalan flick. That may be about to change. Returning to his micro budget thriller roots, MNS's new movie, The Visit, looks pretty cool. Check out the trailer below...


4. SILENT HILLS IS CANCELLED


Sad news as the much anticipated Silent Hills game from Konami has been confirmed as cancelled by star Norman Reedus and Guillermo Del Toro. The game had been under doubts after Hideo Kojima left Konami earlier this year. It's a real shame, the P.T. demo game was incredible.

5. MORE ROB ZOMBIE 31 STILLS



Mr Zombie is going to have shown us the entire film by the time it is released. Here are two more cool images!

6. NEW RELEASES




For those of you who fancy a night at your local cinema, the very clever Unfriended will be released later this week. I thought it was pretty cool, as you can read in my review here.
If you want more web-browser based movie fun, Open Windows gets a dvd release this week. Buy it at Amazon here.
If that doesn't sate your tech appetite, how about a film shot entirely on an iPhone? Hooked Up may well be for you! Buy it at Amazon here.
Also this week the awesome Chinese Hopping Vampire meets modern J-Horror flick Rigor Mortis gets a dvd release. YOU NEED TO WATCH THIS. Buy it at Amazon here.
If haunted houses are more your thing, The House At The End of Time also lands this week. Buy it at Amazon here.
If the Mad Max: Fury Road trailer has got you thirsty for most post-Apocalyptic carnage, 2035: Forbidden Dimensions is right up your street. It looks BARKING! Buy it at Amazon here.
If your prefer your frights with some funny, you can check out Chastity Bites on dvd this week too. It's had some good reviews so could well be worth your time. Buy it at Amazon here.
And finally, who doesn't love Tony Todd? We all love the big guy and his latest shocker, The Watcher, hits this week. Buy it Amazon here.


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, 23 April 2015

RAW REVIEW: UNFRIENDED

I'll be honest, when I first saw the title and promo material for Unfriended (previously known as Cybernatural), I was dubious. It looked like yet another cookie-cutter PG-horror starring achingly hip teen TV stars who spew jarring faux-Whedonesque pop culture references at an alarming rate, while a soundtrack chosen by committee pumps out all the 'coolest' songs in the chart right now, which only serves to date the film terribly in just 18 months. Oh, and did I mention the online gimmick that has plenty of potential to either become ridiculously convenient or just a monumental waste of time?
OK, maybe that should have read 'very dubious'.
But then the unthinkable happened — the first reviews came out from festivals and they were good. Like, excellent, in fact.
Could it be true?
This week I sat down to a screening of the movie intrigued as to what I might witness. Could this be a bonafide horror hit? Or was my initial reaction right after all?
Read on...

UNFRIENDED (2015)



Dir: Leo Gabriadze
Starring: Shelley Hennig, Moses Jacob Storm, Will Peltz, Courtney Halverston, Renee Olstead, Jacob Mysocki, Heather Sossaman

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

One evening Blaire (Hennig) sits down for a group Skype chat with her doting boyfriend Mitch (Storm). As things take a turn for the raunchier they are joined by their gang of online friends, including hotheaded bad boy Adam (Peltz), sharp tongued bitch Val (Halverston), dim but fun Jess (Olstead) and zany techno-nerd Ken (Mysocki).
As the trendy young things discuss the events of their lives the group chat is crashed by an unknown intruder.
Confusion turns to horror after the interloper, billie227, is revealed to be using the account of one Laura Barns (Sossaman) an old acquaintance of the group who committed a very public suicide one year ago, after a humiliating video was circulated showing her drunk at a party.
Now this 'vengeful spirit' aims to get to the bottom of the plot that led to her messy, lonely death... and she plans to punish and ruin each of those she holds accountable.


THE BEST BITS (mild spoiler warning): For those who don't know, Unfriended is built around a key gimmick — the entire film unfolds on one character's computer desktop.
It's a risky concept, but it is wonderfully executed. The film uses the resource of browser windows to perfection, dropping YouTube videos in to give us some flashback moments, while web page visits help serve an expository purpose as the events continue in real time. The format allows us a glimpse at a sort of internal monologue as we see half-typed Facebook and iMessage communications that are written and rewritten as Blaire (Hennig) second guesses herself and her relationships with the other characters. Hell, even the cool soundtrack makes sense as the background music is coming from her iTunes or Spotify accounts.
Yes, this is a gimmick, but it's one that is very well done and its cleverness is worthy of praise. Congratulations must go to the man behind the concept, Timur Bekmambetov (yes, the brains behind the Night Watch flicks) and also to director Gabriadze for the way in which he ran with it.
Of course, an innovative storytelling method is not enough to carry a film if the story itself is not sufficient. Luckily the tale, crafted by TV's Sleepy Hollow writer Nelson Greaves, is pretty cool, an old-fashioned, supernatural revenge-thriller wrapped up in a modern-day, social-media parcel. With cyberbullying and online trolling a hot topic now it also touches on the sort of stories that could be taken straight from news headlines. Furthermore, parallels are neatly drawn between the undead and otherworldy spirits and the fact that once something reaches the web it never dies, living on indefinitely in the nethersphere. It's a valid point, and one that is more than a little unnerving.
The plot is pretty simple but compelling, with enough substance to keep the audience hooked for the duration of its runtime. This is thanks in no small part to the characters. The leads are given nice arcs and each character has moments in which they shine. The story hangs around Blaire — it's her laptop screen we are viewing after all and the private messages she sends give us a deeper insight into her thoughts and fears. Hennig brings her to life wonderfully, she has a sweet, good-girl quality about her that perfectly suits the role. Equally, Storm, as her love interest and nice-guy boyfriend is excellent, the private messages between the two helping to flesh out their relationship and his exchanges with her and best buddy Adam are some of the highlights of the film. It is Adam's more unstable personality that acts as a catalyst for some of the finest scenes in the film, particularly the 'Never Have I Ever' sequence late on.
In a film with some surprisingly gory and unpleasant deaths I think it is a testimony to the character work that some of the most devastating moments come when billie221 forces the group to start to reveal some deep dark secrets, tearing relationships apart in the process as the friends turn on themselves.
What some viewers may not realise is that the natural nature of the interactions between these characters comes down to the fact that a lot of each performance was improvved — and each cast member performed their role a few times in a single take. This information added a tonne of respect for the cast who not only nailed their roles, but did so with a whole new level of pressure. I'm not just talking about the aforementioned Hennig and Storm (both of whom will undoubtedly have very bright futures), but also the impressively high-octane Peltz and fast-talking funny man Mysocki, whose work as a standup comedian served as ideal preparation for the improvisational side. Furthermore the other leading ladies account for themselves admirably — Halverston is suitably hard-edged while Olstead could well make for a fantastic scream queen if she sticks with the genre. Fine work, ladies.
Their work helps ratchet up the tension in a suspenseful and creepy flick (one moment involving a static image and ringing phone is highly unsettling) with some proper horror cred. Earlier I mentioned some surprising and shocking death scenes and they really do deliver. The nightmarish blender scene stands out, but it isn't the only one to cause onlookers to squirm. One of the most upsetting is actually the grainy playground footage of Laura Barns' suicide. It works because it is frighteningly realistic, especially in a world where horrifying videos such as these exist (see Budd Dwyer — actually, on second thoughts, don't).
The gruesomely realistic effects work is just one area in which the thoroughly effective creative process brings this world to life. The film totally feels like it is happening on one laptop in a very real world. I was impressed to hear that each of the cast members filmed their sequences in different rooms in a single house, as production designer Heidi Koleto and art director Brooks Fairley do a tremendous job at making the sets distinctive from one another, while cinematographer Adam Sidman ensures that the film always looks great, while not betraying or cheating with the limitations imposed by the movie's premise. A truly sparkling achievement in filmmaking.



THE WORST BITS (mild spoiler warning): While Unfriended totally exceeded my expectations, some of my initial reservations did still crop up.

In a teen horror (which this is, albeit a very, very good one), the inherent unlikeability of most High Schoolers is always a barrier to enjoyment. Unfortunately here, as the film unfolds these characters become decidedly less sympathetic. The characters have some pretty terrible secrets. The 'Never Have I Ever' sequence, while excellently delivered, effectively eliminates a huge amount of empathy towards those whose dark secrets are laid bare. Of course, nobody deserves the horrors that billie221 subjects these characters to, but it does certainly shift the sympathy far more towards the deceased Laura Barns.
The fact that several of the characters state, in one form or another, that 'she had it coming', is utterly reprehensible and a perfect example of the way in which their actions can cause the viewer to turn on the very individuals that we are meant to be rooting for.
Speaking of morally dubious, the scene in which the otherwise likeable Mitch 'jokingly' seduces Blair into undressing by threatening her with a large hunting knife, is more than a little alarming. It borders on a rape fantasy and would perhaps have been best excised. I understand it was included for some hefty foreshadowing (ditto Ken's blender making an early appearance) but it still made for some uncomfortable viewing.
On a final character note, some were definitely given significantly shorter shrift and less rounding out than others. Obviously, as a direct result of the 10 Little Indians-style, one-by-one death scenes some are going to get less screen time, but those that get the least are reduced to very basic character stereotypes. Luckily the cast all do brilliant work with what they were given so it isn't too bad of a problem.
Finally, the static nature of a computer screen does drain some of the dynamism of the film a couple of times. For example, there is time spent just watching text slowly appear on screen as messages are typed. This fulfils a vital role in fleshing out the characters, but sadly it does pull us away from the action. Equally, the various glitching and buffering moments really are a pain at times. While they are used to heighten the tension during some key moments, leaving us in suspense as we wait to see what fate has befallen Blaire and her friends, at others it just serves as a huge annoyance. Perhaps less could have contributed more here.



THE VERDICT: While it isn't a perfect movie, Unfriended is far better than I believed it had any right to be. More than anything, as an experiment in a new filmmaking and storytelling technique it is brave, innovative (although not the first film to attempt to use browser windows for this purpose, both The Den and Open Windows take a similar approach, albeit less full-on and well executed as here) and, ultimately, a tremendous, intelligent success. Even without the timely anti-cyberbullying message, the fantastic performances and top-notch horror moments, the sheer cleverness of the movie would be enough to make me recommend it to you all. They just make the recommendation that much stronger. See it.


If the film hasn't put you off the whole social media thing, you can visit the Unfriended facebook page here. Feel free to give it a Like while you're there too.


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, 15 April 2015

RAW REVIEW: ENCHIRIDION

So, this movie is a beatnik film noir in which Federal Marshals recruit a shady priest to help them deal with a vampire. Along the way he ends up crossing paths with a talking greyhound private detective, a very angry ape, toad-licking junkies and a pterodactyl drinking in a bar.
Yeah, that old chestnut…

ENCHIRIDION (2012)



Dir: Mark Beal
Starring: Cory W Ahre, Joel Jeremy Herrera, Jessica Bell, Seraluna Sanchez, William Myrick, Tam Jackson,  Dustan Costine, Larry Boozer, Damlon Wallace

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

Father Noah Gregory (Ahre) is a priest who, one day, finds himself approached by two Federal Marshals (Boozer and Costine) to assist with a top secret project. He is given a mysterious manuscript, an Enchiridion or handbook, written in Latin, that alleges to give the history of (plus guidance for) vampires in western society. Noah is understandably sceptical, until the Marshals tell him that they have the author in custody.
From here they give Noah a bloodpack and escort him into a dark, locked room where the malevolent Condu (Herrera) awaits. With piercing terrifying eyes, a smooth and hairless scalp and a mouth full of jagged, needle sharp fangs, Condu's appearance is nightmarish, but, upon starting to speak with Noah, he reveals himself to be surprisingly erudite and intelligent, albeit with a predatory twinkle and knowing smirk. Noah is startled as he realises that Condu seems to have some psychic abilities, but is also fascinated by the conversation and the Marshals are overjoyed that they have found somebody who can get the Vampire to open up.
In between conversations through which Condu discusses the birth of vampires through Vlad Tepes and the demon Moloch (told through some wonderfully atmospheric stop-motion puppetry) we see that Noah still lives with his mother (Jackson) and leads a mostly unfulfilling life.
However, one day Condu is able to escape and Noah is dismissed — only to reveal that this man of the cloth has a childhood sweetheart, Edie (Bell), with whom he shares a passionate night.
However, the following morning he awakes to find Edie missing and a note demanding that he bring the Enchiridion to a set destination. Following a bizarre trek across the city in which he meets cocktail sipping flamingoes and violent, toad-licking addicts, and an extremely aggressive ape, Noah meets Nurse Barbara (Sanchez), who introduces him to talking greyhound private detective Valentine (voiced by Myrick).
Will the unlikely duo be able to rescue Noah's girl? What toll has his interaction with Condu taken? And why is that pterodactyl in the bar????



THE BEST BITS (mild spoiler warning): Enchiridion is one of the most imaginative and unique films I've seen in a very, very long time. It comes across as David Lynch meets China Town via Salem's Lot… with some The Singing Detective thrown in for good measure. It exudes a Sixties coolness and at times feels like a visual Beat poem (an image that is embraced as we see a beret-wearing, goatee-sporting beatnik reciting jazzy poetry later in the film). Combined with visually-arresting black-and-white images, this is a truly stylish movie. Credit must go to director Beal here, as he also handled the cinematography and editing duties. Great work!
Quirks such as the stop-motion beasties, some nicely interspersed interpretive dance (seriously!) and the awesome puppetry history of vampires segments mean that the film is always interesting and always captures the attention.
The plot more than matches the imagination of the flick's imagery. With a compelling protagonist and a wonderful antagonist, the stage is set early on for a great story. The early scenes seem much more subdued than the craziness that follows, yet they are still utterly captivating. The scenes that simply feature Noah and Condu in their Silence of the Lambs-like interviews are arguably the best in the film.
Cory W Ahre (who also received praise here at the House for his work in The Pick Axe Murders Part III and Sacrament) is excellent, sympathetic, likeable and more than capable of dealing with the more complex parts of his character's arc. He is fast gaining a fan here at Hickey's House of Horrors and I hope he continues his sterling work in the West Texas indie horror scene.
Herrera is relatively inexperienced (this is his only IMDB credit) yet he is absolutely fantastic. He is charming, witty, utterly believable as an ancient and manipulative creature of the night and incredibly creepy. I found myself looking forward to each of his scenes and cannot wait to see more of him in the future. As an aside, I was also extremely impressed with the way in which he was able to perform with a mouthful of large prosthetic fangs. It couldn't have been easy but he was incredible.
There are no duds in this cast with minor characters — including the cute and likeable Bell — all well up to standard. She adds a more human element to proceedings and is very much one to watch in the future. 
I also loved the voice work from Myrick as grizzled PI Valentine. I think it says something for the quality of the performance that he garners significant sympathy and you can't help but root for him during the violent climax of the film. 
Valentine was just one of a host of interesting special effects in the movie and the team of Shelia Robinson, Richard Svensson and Beal (him again) produced some extremely stylish and polished effects shots throughout the film. These really added to the fascinating viewing experience.
Chief among these may well be the cool-as-hell Tepes vampire history segments. These were far more fun than they had any right to be and used the creepy, jerky quality of stop-motion to superb effect. These were some of my very favourite parts of the film and I'd love to see the team attempt another movie or short entirely in this style. It's a form of moviemaking that has fallen by the wayside in recent years and is well overdue a revival.
Finally, the plot itself has one particularly great twist that is very well-executed. I loved it as it made perfect sense within the story and really had an impact. Fantastic stuff.



THE WORST BITS (mild spoiler warning): Now as much as I loved Enchiridion's wackiness, this may not be to everybody's tastes. It's totally bizarre and goes to some odd places with a few borderline Arthouse flourishes. Much like Coyote before it, this isn't a film for those who want their horror full of blood, boobs and jumpscares. It's much more like a very dark fantasy by way of a fever dream, and might just be a little too out there for the Ouija crowd.
Also, while I've praised the writing of the movie, some of the characterisation is a little less well-rounded than that for the interesting leads. Obviously this is symptomatic of Film Noir, with female characters in particular often reduced to fairly two-dimensional roles. Enchiridion is less guilty of this than the likes of Sin City, but it would have been nice to see the talented likes of Bell, Sanchez and Jackson given a little more to do.
Finally, while I've praised the great production values and effects work for a limited budget, every now and then there is the slight lapse. The jerky nature of the stop -motion (while so wonderful in the flashback sequences) jars a little during the action sequences and robs some of the scenes of some of their threat and menace. Luckily, this isn't a particularly big problem and does not occur with enough regularity to impair one's enjoyment of the film.



THE VERDICT: Wow, Enchiridion really is a cool flick. It's interesting, unique and imaginative and features  a couple of great performances with enough visual flair to make it endlessly watchable. I'm already looking forward to sitting down with it again and I'm pleased to tell you all that a sequel/prequel (it's complicated!) Sanguisuge is in the can and coming soon. I think it's safe to say that I'm well and truly ready to 'embrace the weird' and I recommend that you give it a try too.

The dvd is available through Amazon, as is the streaming digital version of the film. Also be sure to check out (and Like) the Enchiridion official Facebook page for more news on the sequel!



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, 13 April 2015

SHARP SHOCK SHORT: THE HEEBIE JEEBIES

Ah, short films. There's quite the blossoming romance here at the House between short indie horror flicks and me. Each week I come across another short that chills my fear bone (What? That's a thing!) and I'm always endeavouring to bring them to you, my visitors. 
Film festivals seem to be a pretty great place to discover these gems, and Todd Slawsby's The Heebie-Jeebies is one that has been doing the rounds for sometime now.
Is it worth a look? Read on...

THE HEEBIE-JEEBIES (2014)



Dir: Todd Slawsby
Starring: Katie Preisig, Brendan Mulhern, Liam Slawsby, Lyla Slawsby

SPEEDY SYNOPSIS: I'll try not to spoil too much here as this is a short, but continue at your own risk.

As bedtime looms, Liam and Lyla (the Slawsbys) discover an interesting new book that they want their doting Mom (Preisig) to read to them.
The book tells the tale of the mysterious Heebie-Jeebies, otherworldly creatures of unknown origin that can regularly be found lurking in the dark places, seeking prey. After this decidedly creepy bedtime story the kids find themselves the victims of several unsettling occurrences. 
Is this childhood exuberance and youthful imagination running riot? Do their parents know what they've let themselves in for? And could there really be something dwelling under the bed?




WHY IT WORKS: Here at Hickey's House of Horrors I've spoken at length about how subverting childhood innocence makes for a whole world of nightmarishly creepy horror goodness. Well, badness, but you know what I mean. Case in point: THAT Teletubbies meets American Horror Story video. BRRRRR.
The Heebie-Jeebies is a good, old-fashioned bedtime story gone very, very wrong.
Much like the sinister storybook in The Babadook, The Heebie-Jeebies is a delightfully twisted little picture book (Okay, I'll admit it, it's a delightfully twisted little picture book that I'd love to own). The beautifully drawn pictures are evocative while the enigmatic story behind the titular beasties is enough to grab the attention.
That's just one of many wonderful design touches that build a creepy atmosphere throughout. 
In a short where complex stories are difficult to tell, evoking a mood is key. Slawsby, his cinematographer Patrick Ruth and production designer Jennifer Gerbino all perform this task admirably. 
With suggestive camera angles and the use of deep, dark shadows to build an air of hidden menace, the creepiness is palpable.
The story, also by Slawsby, manages to provide a couple of nice twists as well as a suitable and believable framing device to connect the tense set pieces (such as the-under-the-bed investigation and late-night window-peeping moments). As well as some nice writing for the family, the Heebie-Jeebies remain a very mysterious and unexplained threat.
With regards to the family, each cast member is more than up to the task. 
I regularly lament the work of inexperienced child actors in genre flicks, but thankfully the young Slawsby's are up to the task. Well done, young sir and miss!
Mulhern's loveable Dad is great, with a couple of very good humorous moments and a good-natured boyish charm to complement the creepy nature of the short.
Preisig's Mom is the glue that holds the whole thing together and her performance is excellent. She just feels like a mother, caring, kind, reassuring and a little exasperated at the antics of her mischievous offspring. She's great and I eagerly look forward to seeing more from her.
Perhaps The Heebie-Jeebies' biggest strength is that it feels like a Goosebumps-style family-friendly frightener with a throwback feel and plenty of charm.
With a well-written story, great performances, a campfire ghost story atmosphere, a suitably spine-tingling soundtrack, a couple of well-timed laughs and even a nice little visual effects shot, The Heebie-Jeebies is great fun. Check it out.



SO WHERE’S IT AT? The Heebie-Jeebies is still doing the rounds at festivals so be sure to check out the film's official Facebook page for news on how and when you can catch it. Give it a Like while you're there too, show Slawsby and co some love!

10 WORD WRAP-UP: A creepy bedtime story with tonnes of old fashioned atmosphere

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.

THE WEEK'S HORROR HEADLINES (6th–13th April)

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. FLAT FINALLY HERE TO WATCH!


Longterm readers of Hickey's House of Horrors will remember my review for Geoff Cockwill's atmospheric short, Flat, starring the lovely Libby Gore. Well guess what? 
Now the good folks over at Silvertip Films have put the whole film online, for free, for you all to watch! AWESOME! 
Catch it at the short's official Facebook page here.

2. SINISTER II POSTER AND TRAILER


There's quite the publicity surge surrounding Ciaran Foy's upcoming second chapter in the creepy Sinister saga. First the above poster and then a pretty intriguing trailer. What do you guys think?


3. MAGGIE GETS A POSTER WHILE MTV's SCREAM AND THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE 3 REVEAL TRAILERS


That's the poster for Arnold Schwarzenegger's zombie flick. NICE.
So, looks like MTV's Scream TV show is a remake then! How do I know?
THIS is how!

And if that's a little tame and you prefer your horror a little more, shall we say, intensely visceral, click here for the trailer for renegade director Tom Six's Human Centipede 3: Final Sequence.

4. SUSPIRIA TV SERIES ON THE WAY


French production company Atlantique Productions and Italian firm Cattleya have secured a co-development and co-production agreement to turn Dario Argento’s Suspiria into a TV series. It will be named Suspiria De Profundis after Thomas De Quincey's book, and in an intriguing twist, will feature De Quincey as the lead character in a psychological horror set in London and Paris at the turn of the 20th Century. Argento will serve as the series' artistic supervisor.


5. FIVE NIGHTS AT FREDDY'S FILM


Warner Bros has acquired the rights to the HUGELY successful (and pretty damn creepy) Five Nights At Freddy's video game series. I can't wait to see some practical effect animatronic Freddy, Chica and Foxy stalking hapless teens around Freddy Fazbear's Pizza and tearing them to shreds! Perhaps the enigmatic back story will be explored a little more too? Here's hoping this one lives up to its potential.

6. WRITER ATTACHED TO GREMLINS REMAKE


Speaking of Warner Bros, they're one step closer to ruining my youth as they've found a writer for the Gremlins remake. Carl Ellsworth (Goosebumps, Red Eye, Last House on the Left '09) will scribe for the film to be produced by Christopher Columbus and Steven Spielberg.
Read Deadline's story here.

7. SAD NEWS AS HORROR ICONS PASS AWAY

This has been an extremely rough week for genre fans as a handful of wonderfully gifted acting talents passed away.


Tim Towles, star of numerous Horror movies including Rob Zombie's Halloween and House of 1000 Corpses, passed away aged 65. R.I.P. Tim.


Geoffrey Lewis, the man who was so incredible in Salem's Lot among other roles (often opposite Clint Eastwood), also passed away. He was 79. R.I.P. Geoffrey.


Richard Dysart, so memorable in his role as Dr Copper in John Carpenter’s The Thing, passed away aged 86. R.I.P. Richard.

A terribly sad week.

8. NEW RELEASES


Two big ones this week, first the outstanding Vampire horror comedy, What We Do In The Shadows hits the shops. Buy it at Amazon here.
Also this week, The Pyramid gets a home release. Buy it on Amazon here.

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: MUCK

I'm a big fan of the way that the Internet has changed the face of independent film making. Crowd-funding projects have made a real difference, and helped projects that may not have got off the ground otherwise.
Recently filmmaker Steve Wolsh successfully funded the prequel to this movie via a popular Kickstarter campaign. As a part of that campaign, backers were able to get access to Muck, the first released but actually the middle chapter of his marsh-horror trilogy.
I was one of those backers and finally got to sit down with the film that has certainly polarised reviewers.
Would I think it Mucking rocked?
Or would I be telling Wolsh and co to get the Muck out?
Read on...

MUCK (2015)



Dir: Steve Wolsh
Starring: Bryce Draper, Stephanie Danielson, Laura Jacobs, Grant Alan Ouzts, Lauren Francesca, Lachlan Buchanan, Puja Mohindra, Jaclyn Swedberg, Kane Hodder

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

In the dead of night a bedraggled and terrified group of individuals emerge from the Cape Cod marshland. Led by take-charge hero Noah (Draper), the others including his good-girl ladyfriend Kylie (Danielson); the acid-tongued bitchy Desiree (Jacobs); the injured and smartmouthed Billy (Ouzts) and the panicky, near-naked Mia (Francesca).
Two of their number are dead or missing, victims to a Mysterious Muck Marsh Menace (as I shall address their assailant) that has stalked them through the swamp.
Stumbling across an isolated house the group break in to look for assistance or a telephone. Unable to find the phone, Noah volunteers to run along the main road to seek help while the others rest, clean themselves, tend to Billy's injuries and, in Desiree's case, drink herself silly.
Noah is able to find a rundown bar on the edge of a small town, West Craven (ho ho!). Here, in a bar full of nearly naked drunken Cougars, Noah borrows a phone and, on account of having been involved in breaking and entering and theft of property, opts to phone his party-animal cousin Troit (Lachlan), who he knows is nearby, instead of the police.
Troit is out drinking with long-term buddy Chandi (Mohindra) and Troit's lust-interest, Terra (2012 Playmate of the Year Swedberg), who also happens to be nearly naked.
You may be spotting a pattern here.
However, unbeknownst to Noah, the house and friends to which he is returning have fallen into the deranged sights of a sadistic group of scarred, mute albino Creepers led by the diabolical Grawesome Crutal (Horror legend Hodder).
Will Noah return in time? What do the Creepers want with the group — and what is the Mysterious Muck Marsh Menace that they are so scared of? And how many women can strip in front of a mirror and fondle themselves in a mere 90 minutes?



THE BEST BITS (mild spoiler warning): Some reviews out there have been unduly harsh on Muck. In truth, there are some things in here that are very good.
The film looks incredible. The budget has been put to good use and the cinematography by Michael Solidum gives the movie, a hot, grimy and menacing atmosphere. The steamy swampland is reminiscent of Adam Green's Hatchet, a film that Muck reminded me of plenty of times throughout.
Unlike a lot of indie horror flicks, this one feels, sounds and looks a lot like a Hollywood picture. Wolsh also uses quick cuts, fades and eye-catching slow-mo to make this movie a real feast for the eyes.
Undoubtedly a lot of the appeal for this movie comes down to two things: bare-flesh and blood — and Muck delivers high quantities and quality of both. If you like to see geysers of gore and good-looking women in next-to-nothing, this IS the film for you.
The gore effects and stunt work (that naked window stunt is pretty damn impressive) all looks awesome, another element in which the flick's budget was well spent. With splatter and some impressive death scenes throughout, this is most certainly not an area in which I can see the naysayers finding fault.
As for the sex-appeal, well, this is a film in which there are more unfeasibly toned, gorgeous bodies on display than any other I've seen. The ladies are all undoubtedly stunning (with the jawdropping Swedberg sure to win plenty of admirers here) while the Gap-model good-looking guys (including the ruggedly handsome Draper and boyish but chiseled Buchanan) both flashing their rock hard sixpacks and pecs throughout. The Creepers all reveal their athletic torsos, Hell, even Kane Hodder goes topless! If you want skin, and plenty of it, Muck delivers.
Of course, there's more to the cast of Muck than just supermodel looks. I really enjoyed the work of Buchanan, whose borderline dickish character (combined with the manner in which he ends up dressed) really reminded me of Bruce Campbell's iconic turn as Ash in The Evil Dead movies. His shovel rampage is awesome and his face-off with a gang of vicious Creepers is definitely one of the movie's highlights. It's likely we'll see more of him in the other chapters of the Muck trilogy — personally, I can't wait.
I also really liked Mohindra and Danielson. Likeable, pretty performers with some definite acting chops — I can see big things for both of these and look forward to seeing what else they are given to work with in the other Muck flicks. Danielson has a real Scream Queen quality to her so I hope she sticks with the genre.
I think credit must also go to Draper, Francesca and Swedberg. As all are undoubtedly very good-looking and/or spend the vast majority of the film in very little clothing, it would be all too easy to dismiss them as mere eye-candy. However, Draper is a fine hero and could well be a big star judging by his performance here, while Francesca manages to overcome the fact that she spends the entire film in the skimpiest of bra and knickers and give a performance with some emotional impact, which is both believable and sympathetic. While Swedberg has less to do, she is a far more capable actress than her comparative inexperience would give reason to expect. Very impressive!
The Creepers are all great and suitably, well, creepy. Hodder can do this sort of thing in his sleep and he's as awesome as always. I also got a real kick out of the equally imposing Josh Diogo as the equally insanely named Craxious Gigas. This is a guy that GETS being a beast.
Finally, I loved both Jacobs and Ouzts in their more-humorous roles. Jacobs Desiree is the bad girl you love to hate and she's clearly having a great time chewing up the scenery with her spiteful and selfish character. She totally gets the role and is a pleasure to behold.
Ouzts is gifted with some of the finest dialogue in the film and, while his is the character that gets the least to do (on account of his injuries), he spits one-liners with aplomb. His self-aware horror film speech, in which he discusses each character's survival chances, is wonderfully 'meta' and summons memories of Scream's Randy. 
This is just one of the witty moments in the film's script, sometimes it borders dangerously close to offensive (Troit's good-natured but decidedly racist jibes towards Chandi could well overstep that mark) but it all seems to be coming from such a fun place that it's difficult to take it seriously. It is precisely this balancing act — combining extreme violence, gratuitous nudity and coarse humour with a knowing wink and levity — that reminds me of Hatchet. As a big fan of Green's films, this is very much a compliment.
The writing (also by Wolsh) is not just witty but also shows some imagination, not just in its daring decision to start slap-bang in the middle of the story, but also the interesting and clever way that it plays around with time jumps to keep audiences guessing. If this level of trickery goes into the upcoming prequel/sequel, we could be in for some intriguing times ahead.
Finally, real credit must go to Muck's AMAZING soundtrack. It's packed with great rock tracks and I'll almost certainly be downloading (legally, of course) a pretty big selection of the songs from the film. Kickass!



THE WORST BITS (mild spoiler warning): Ok, I'm going to jump in and deal with the single biggest complaint I've seen levelled at Muck — it's a film with no beginning or end. Before I watched the movie I knew that the prequel Muck: Feast of St Patrick was on the way (after all, I helped fund it!) and had read Wolsh's plans to make this a marsh horror trilogy. With that in mind, I don't think that the film is overly confusing. Sure, some plotlines are left unresolved and certain questions remain unanswered but, having watched plenty of horror films in which the ending is basically one big 'To Be Continued', I had no problem with Muck. However, if you want everything wrapped up in a neat little bow inside 90mins, well, Muck will undoubtedly leave you disappointed.
While I praised the writing of the film, there were still some somewhat jarring plotholes and decidedly terrible decisions by characters that bordered on insanely self-centred. These were characters we're meant to care for, but Noah's actions in the bar scene (even taking into account that he was highly traumatised) made me want to hurl my shoe at the TV. Of course, this is a throwback-style slasher flick, so moments like this are par for the course (and maybe even a part of the reason we love these films). Just be warned, if you are a screen-screamer, you'll probably be hoarse by the time this is over.
Now, let's hit another of the critics' peeves — the huge amounts of gratuitous nudity. To be honest, I can kind of see where they're coming from. Now don't get me wrong, I admire the female form as much as the next guy, but there are so many slow-mo shots of boobs and butts that I actually started to find myself getting bored with them. I lost count of how many women strip down to look at themselves in underwear/nude in a mirror throughout the film, but after a while it actually felt as if they were being stuck in at random intervals to pad out the run time of a film that could have been a good 20 minutes shorter without them. Still, I guess Mr Wolsh and co had a great time on set.
Also, while I praised the atmospheric shooting and editing, the movie did almost overcook it at times. The darkness and quick-cuts hampered what could have been some killer grue shots and, while I understand that the 'Mysterious Muck Marsh Menace' was deliberately kept offscreen to heighten the intrigue, sometimes scenes in which it featured were a little choppy, which hindered the ability to accurately work out exactly what was happening. Luckily these were pretty few and far between.
One thing that did disappoint was the comparatively small amount of screentime given to Hodder. I'm sure we could have skipped one of the mirror scenes to get more of this legit horror icon?
Finally, and this is nothing to do with the movie itself, there was some controversy in the crowd funding campaign. Some backers made contributions on the proviso that they would receive a copy of the film before it went on general release. Now, for some reason or another this was not the case and, while I don't have the facts to hand as to what caused this delay, this clearly was not on. Luckily all pledges have been fulfilled now so, bygones.



THE VERDICT: Man, Muck has been given a bum rap. There are a lot of haters out there but I can see plenty to like. No, it's not exactly a picture for the Academy, but then, so few horror movies are. No this is one best watched in a large group with beer, pizza and an open mind. It's fun, sexy, bloody, creepy and hilarious and offers enough body parts (attached or otherwise) to get slasher fans and horror hounds onside. I for one cannot wait to see Wolsh and his team have in store for us with next year's prequel. 
Until then, be sure to pick up a copy of Muck and, while you're at it, hit the official Facebook page to show some support and get all the news on the prequel.


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.