Monday, 31 October 2011

DON'T GO IN THE HOUSE (1980)


One of the DPP's list of Video Nasties, Don't Go In The House originally found its way to my eyes via a cheap Apex slipcase VHS I bought for 1.99 from a market stall when I was about 14. It scared the crap out of me at the time thanks to its truly nightmarish concept, and recently I picked up a big-box version of the same Apex release on eBay in order to revisit what I remember as a film that really unsettled me.

How does it stand up? Actually it's probably more frightening now, despite the bad acting, dodgy internal logic and tiny budget. The film follows a demented young man whose mother lies dead in the living room. He can still hear her voice, berating him, screaming at him, even while she decomposes in an armchair. Another mad voice has joined his psychic turmoil, and is persuading him to take out his frustrations, anger and madness on innocent women. He builds a steel room in the house, buys a flame-proof suit and a flamethrower, and proceeds to chain people up and burn them alive.


As the film progresses, his madness escalates until he sees his victims (whose charred corpses are dressed in his mother's clothes and arranged in the living room with his dead mother like some insane tea party) coming back to life and taking out their revenge upon their killer.

The film features some very graphic scenes of horrific violence (although the version on this tape is cut a bit), but it is the atmosphere of the flick itself that makes it so unsettling. There is little build-up before our main character goes mental, and then we are taken along for the ride as he goes deeper and deeper into his own psychotic world and his own sense of murderous logic, egged on by the voices.

There's also a great use of a minimal score and some stylish cinematography, but the acting lets the film down and stops it becoming anything other than a creepy little Grindhouse movie that built a lasting reputation thanks to a couple of very nasty scenes. That said, Don't Go In The House is an interesting curio for the discerning horror fan who has a taste for low budgets and buckets of atmosphere rather than tons of gore.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

The Yearly Hiatus Is Here...

Folks, it's that time of year again. NaNoWriMo is upon us again, and thus I will be putting Diary of a Genre Addict on hiatus for the duration of November. Time permitting, I'll be back to bring you more content, but for the most part I'll be beavering away trying to write 50,000 words in a month.

There's plenty to look forward to when the site gets back in action in December... 

-MORE reviews!
-MORE autobiographical posts!
-MORE new features!
-MORE pages!

And of course...

-DIARY OF A GENRE ADDICT: THE WEB SERIES!

See you in December, addicts! Thanks for visiting!

Your humble Genre Addict,
Andrew

Thursday, 27 October 2011

TRAILER TREASURES: DON'T GO IN THE HOUSE (1980)

I just watched this classic piece of nastiness again yesterday for the first time in about 15 years, and it holds up really well. This trailer is a nicely creepy teaser for the film and gives it an awesome Grindhouse kind of atmosphere. The flick itself is demented from about five minutes in, and while it's quite sick in places, I recommend it to horror connoisseurs everywhere, as there's so much atmosphere to soak up during the flick. Check out the gloriously tacky trailer.

(Full review coming soon!)

TRAILER TREASURES: WES CRAVEN'S NEW NIGHTMARE (1994)

I was a massive Freddy fan as a teenager, and those films are still dear to my heart, but it was the seventh entry in the series, Wes Craven's New Nightmare, which really caught my imagination. The concept was incredible - A demonic Freddy Krueger stalking the people involved with the original movies, and while the effects haven't dated all that well, the idea is still as powerful as ever.

 Freddy isn't in the film much, but his menacing presence is there in spades, and it's this film that feels like the final part of a trilogy alongside the first A Nightmare On Elm Street movie and its perfect second sequel, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. I remember walking out of the cinema when New Nightmare came out and being stunned by it. I still love the idea of it, and the execution has aged well.

This version of the trailer is genius, mixing faux documentary footage in with the action of the movie. Excellent.

 (A full review of the film itself is coming soon)

Monday, 24 October 2011

THE VIDEO DEAD (1986)

This film has got to have one of the best covers to ever grace a VHS horror film. Seriously. It's an '80s horror fan's wet dream of a video cover, and even better, it's double sided and boasts an equally awesome (although very similar) image on each side. It's one of the few 80s horror movies that has never been released on DVD, and is highly collectable (look, I don't MEAN to sound like Comic Book Guy from the Simspons. It just happens). I've lost four or five of these to higher bidders on eBay, but finally a copy has slipped into my grasp and is being appreciated properly.

The Video Dead has one of the greatest – and silliest – premises of any horror flick of the era, and I absolutely adore every frame of it. A haunted TV is delivered to a regular suburb (full of regular suburban characters and the ubiquitous teenage hero and heroine), and while the occupant of the house it arrives at is asleep, zombies from another dimension emerge from the TV and the horror begins, sort of.

As soon as this happens we jump forward in time to when the house is empty and has been sold. Our young heroes, Jeff and Zoe, are moving into the house and, naturally, discover the TV. After a nicely-paced build, the TV unleashes its hordes of zombies (who are sporting some pretty damn effective makeups) upon the house and the suburb, and the red stuff starts to flow.


The Video Dead is a beautifully cheesy piece of genre cinema that is the perfect addition to any vintage VHS collection, as alongside that glorious cover art there is a film which manages to be fun, funny, gory and just plain entertaining, which can't be said of every flick from that era, can it? The zombies are shambling, iconic visions of those notorious undead flesheaters, each with a nasty visage and a unique costume.

Despite the low budget and limited scope of the cinematography, there's a nice amount of atmosphere down to the well-placed musical cues and some tense editing. Add to this a soundtrack featuring some deliciously cheesy 80s pop-rock, characters with era-specific hairstyles and clothes, some nicely stiff acting, plenty of comedy moments and some pleasingly nasty zombie sequences, and you have a very precious thing indeed.


If you love your 80s horror, then you need to track a copy of this film down while there are still some on the collector's market. In fact, I think it's actually better that this film doesn't show up on DVD, as the best way to watch The Video Dead would have to be on VHS, if only to capture the right mood. DVD would probably ruin the look of the film (at points there's so much dry ice that it looks like a Bonnie Tyler video...heh). Sometimes, you see, it's better to have a lower quality format in order to enjoy something properly. The Video Dead is a great example. Have an old-school horror night, and make sure a copy of The Video Dead is standing by beside your ancient VHS player. Just be wary of what comes out of your TV...

Monday, 17 October 2011

Elves (1989)

I'm really glad I didn't pay much for this film. It's not that I thought it was a waste of 50p – not at all – it's just that paying small change for it seemed most appropriate considering the apparent budget of this notorious-in-VHS-collecting-circles film.

The guy that was Grizzly Adams (I'm not kidding) is a failed cop working as a department store Santa. One night he stumbles across a bunch of girls having a late-night party in the store, who are (of course) being stalked by a bunch of murderous rubber elves who were once the basis for an evil plot of the Third Reich (wait, skip back to the HARD ROCK ZOMBIES review recently- the nazis certainly seemed to be a popular explanation for stuff in z-grade 80s horror...), and who can only be stopped with the help of a former member of the Gestapo.

Erm, right.

Elves is every bit as stupid as that description makes it sound. It's also bloody, but every time the Elves are onscreen you can't help but cringe due to the woeful effects job on them. It's an effects job that didn't even stretch to giving them working jaws, so every time they appear to be trying to eat someone, they look like shiny muppets nibbling as a cake, rather than demonic beings with razor sharp fangs.

The thing is, Elves is so bad it's almost amazing. I couldn't look away throughout it, and wanted to cheer every time Grizzly Adams attempts to deliver his lines. The acting, script and production are all real bargain-basement stuff.

The cinematography is shoddy, the music is cheap, and everything is tacky enough for a real kitsch factor to kick in. For all of its faults, I really liked this film and would recommend it to anyone who doesn't mind spending 90 minutes with their tongue planted hard in their cheek.

Friday, 14 October 2011

TRAILER TREASURES: THE VIDEO DEAD (1986)

I've been trying to get hold of a copy of this movie for a while on eBay, but kept losing it to people with more money. At long last I've managed to win one, and am really looking forward to reviewing it here for you. It's a brilliant slice of 80s horror cheese, and I'm looking forward to revisiting a gem that is still yet to be released on DVD. Here's the trailer:


From your addict: a FREE Horror story download!

Hey all, here's an early halloween gift from me to all of you. I wanted to hand out a fiction freebie in the run-up to Halloween, and here it is- UNDEAD AND BURIED, an original short story available completely FREE to download. Right-click on the cover below and download your copy!


I hope you enjoy the story, and please do share the file (or a link to this post) with likeminded friends and addicts. happy (early) Halloween all!

Saturday, 8 October 2011

HARD ROCK ZOMBIES (1985)


In no uncertain terms, this film is absolute crap, but it's absolute crap that managed to entertain me for ninety minutes with utter nonsense of the 1980s shot-on-video variety. If I wasn't shot on video then it certainly looks like it was, anyway. A trashy rock band heads to a trashy small town where they are to play a trashy concert for an A+R guy.

Beyond that plotline, there's a creepy dude and a pair of dwarves (one clad in a remarkably unconvincing rubber mask) along with a young lady who are slaughtering people for their own ends lurking around and being comically sinister. The band fall foul of local do-gooders (and the aforementioned creepy types) and find themselves dead and buried.


 However, a local girl who has befriended the band manages to resurrect them by means of a chant (I don't know either, folks) and the band make a comeback (sorry) as zombies. Well, I say zombies, but what I really mean is 'guys with a bit more makeup on than before'. They also have the most comical zombie walk ever.

Then there comes the part with Hitler turning up in modern-day small-town America and trying to kickstart the fourth reich by building an army of zombies. Uh. Yeah. Cue a guy done up (quite convincingly) as Hitler, yelling at nobody in particular about how he's going to take over the world with the undead. Classy.


Hard Rock Zombies is ultra cheap, relentlessly awful in every respect and rather delightful because of it. Most people that pick it up now are going to fling it in the bin after about ten minutes unless they know what they're getting. The band's music is a point to talk about, actually. It's as cheesy as it gets, but there's a joyously anarchic feel to their dubbed tunes that perfectly sums up the era and the tongue-in-cheek nature of the flick.

For some reason my local HMV had a big display of this title out recently. I'm guessing someone over-ordered and was being punished with sticks while the shop tried to shift them. Sadly, I only wanted one copy and thus I think the whole audience for it around here has now been used up. Hard Rock Zombies (which should really be called 'Light Metal Grey Guys') is awful, and thus, right up my street.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

THE KINDRED (1987)


Aw man, I hate it when this happens. The Kindred is one of those film that I've wanted to see for years, thanks to the trailer for it showing up on a lot of my early horror rentals back in the day. I finally picked up a copy on eBay as I thought it was about time I gave the full length film a chance instead of just the trailer, and aside from the awesome cover art, I'm kinda disappointed.

I'm not sure if this is down to the film itself or my overblown expectations after loving the trailer for years, but I feel kinda let down by it. The film has plenty of rubber monsters, blood, action and invention, but it's also very slow between the monster scenes, to the point that a lot of it feels like a TV show episode, padded out with endless dialogue rather than moving the plot along a great deal.

An elderly scientist reveals secrets to her son while on her deathbed, and requests that he goes and destroys the notes for the secret project she has been working on. With the help of various scientists and other bland characters, John (the son) sets about unravelling the mystery of his mother's weird experiments... and meets a number of freakish mutants along the way!


An uneven mix of horror, science fiction and thriller, The Kindred doesn't really get going until about seventy minutes into its running time, by which time you'll either be engrossed or asleep. Once it does kick into gear and starts flinging scares at the screen, the film is extremely effective (there is a transformation scene involving gills erupting on a character which is a sequence that has haunted me ever since I saw the trailer).

If you make it to the eighty minute mark, it's great. The characters are all a bit pointless, with little in the way of chemistry or conflict between them, but somehow they do manage to muddle through. The effects for the monsters and failed experiments are cheesy and rubbery, but very effective in the confines of this film.

It's complete b-movie addict fodder, but thanks to that excellent third act (echoed stylistically in later films such as Species, Mimic and the like) it at least offers some real entertainment. This is helped by liberal amounts of thrashing tentacles, close ups of the monster's hideous face and plenty of blood.

The use of serene music at the end of the film really adds a creepy atmosphere to the onscreen mayhem. I do feel disappointed by it though, as nothing could really live up to the expectations the trailer gave me. I'm glad I've seen it now though, and even more glad the big-box VHS of it has been added to my collection at long last.