Saw Grimcutty laat night which I am juat gonna leave a picture of the monster with no further comment
Watched last night: Zombies of Mora Tau. It’s been a while since I’ve watched one of these pre-NOTLD zombie movies but they’re always interesting to check out to see what the walking dead were up to before Romero came along and revolutionised the genre. This is notable for the fact that it includes the first water-based zombies to make it to the screen - the images of them emerging from the water are some of the best in the film. Apparently this was also the first zombie film to suggest that being killed by a zombie could bring you back as a zombie, a trope that would become vital post-1968. As for the film itself, it’s set in an Africa with no black people and features a gang of treasure hunters trying to find some lost diamonds on a sunken boat. The only problem? As soon as they get near the boat, the zombiefied original crew of the boat show up to protect what’s theirs. Even though the plot doesn’t offer too many surprises and the actors are mostly wooden, I found enough here to enjoy. Some of the imagery is lovely: the zombie sailors rising up from their caskets is pretty eerie. There’s also a striking scene in which one of the treasure hunters has to be confined to her bed, surrounded by a ton of candles to ensure that she doesn’t rise up and attack her former colleagues. This won’t change your life but if you’re interested in the history of zombie films, this is worth spending 70 minutes with.
Had an excellent double bill last night of From Beyond and Texas Chainsaw Massacre II
From Beyond was a great time, so slimy and gungy in the best cronenbergian practical effects ways. Add in Bubba (excellent character), cool monster design, very intense performances by Crawford and Katherine and some bonus BDSM elements for good luck and it ticked all my boxes
TCM2 was real good too. Such a change of pace from the original just being a lot more amped up, OTT and comedic, but still with plenty of properly unsettling drawn-out scenes to make you squirm too (the chainsaw sex scene was so creepy). Thought Stretch would be a slightly stronger character than she ended up being, but she was very resilient and good at escaping, gotta give credit there. Also the chainsaw dances and jiggles from both her and Leatherface were hilarious! And the general humanising of LF was interesting/well done
Really didn’t get that much from Hopper though, thought he was pretty underused given how strong his initial intro was and the fondness for the chainsaws. I wanted him to go even bigger!
From Beyond is an all-timer.
It’s been years since I’ve seen From Beyond, but I watched TCM2 for the first time within the past 5 years and really enjoyed it. I can only imagine how it must have been received at the time by folk hoping for more of what the first film offers. Bill Moseley as Choptop is glorious!
Was just about to say this. Havent watched TCM 2 for ages. May have to fix that.
Watched last night, Project Wolf Hunting…
Silly title for a deeply silly film. This starts off as a fairly standard Korean crime drama before getting extremely gory about halfway through - from the production notes, 2.5 tonnes of fake blood were used in the filming of this (dunno why they’re measuring fake blood in tonnes rather than litres - maybe it’s the universal standard metric?). While the kills from this point are fairly unrelenting, it also makes for a slightly boring film. A large number of characters are introduced in the set up, only to be relegated to cannon fodder. Reminded me of The Sadness in that in trying to one-up the gore it forgets to tell a story. Still, entertaining enough for a crime/horror/sci-fi mashup and quite slickly directed. 6/10
More or less my thoughts as well, thought a stand off between the lead cop and the guy with loads of tattoos would have been great. Reminded me of a less good version of Overlord.
I thought Significant Other was absolutely rubbish. The film had one idea, poorly realised
What good horror novels did anyone read this year? Some of my favourites, with my GR review c&p’d, if I did one.
The Hollows by Daniel Church
The blurb said
In a lonely village in the Peak District, during the onset of a once-in-a-lifetime snow storm, Constable Ellie Cheetham finds a body. The man, a local ne’er-do-well, appears to have died in a tragic accident: he drank too much and froze to death.
But the facts don’t add up: the dead man is clutching a knife in one hand, and there’s evidence he was hiding from someone. Someone who watched him die. Stranger still, an odd mark has been drawn onto a stone beside his body.
The next victims are two families on the outskirts of town. As the storm rises and the body count grows, Ellie realises she has a terrifying problem on her hands: someone – or some thing – is killing indiscriminately, attacking in the darkness and using the storm for cover.
The killer is circling ever closer to the village. The storm’s getting worse… and the power’s just gone out.
This one has all my favourite elements, legends of rural folk horror passed down the ages, the threat of Lovecraftian Old Gods, and unstoppable marauding inhuman monsters. Couple that with some well-drawn, believable and sympathetic characters, a sharp sense of location and a knack for conveying atmosphere and you’ve got a really strong horror novel, the best I’ve read since Will McLean’s Apparition Phase.
Full Immersion by Gemma Amor
The blurb said
When Magpie discovers her own dead body one misty morning in Bristol, it prompts her to uncover the truth of her untimely demise. Her investigations take her on a terrifying journey through multiple realities, experimental treatments, technological innovations and half-memories in a race against time and sanity. Accompanied by a new friend who is both familiar and strange, and constantly on the run from the terrifying, relentless presence of the mysterious predator known only as Silhouette, Magpie must piece together the parts of her life previously hidden. In doing so, she will discover the truth about her past, her potential, and her future.
This novel appears to be drawn from the author’s own experiences of postpartum depression. It doesn’t tiptoe around the subject, or indeed anything else, but it’s brutally, unflinchingly, honest, and unsurprisingly CW’d up to the eyeballs. It’s extremely raw, with some absolutely intense scenes of visceral body horror. But by the end, it’s also cathartic, full of the exhausted peace that comes after a violent purging. It’s not an easy read by means, but it is ultimately a hopeful one.
Fellstones by Ramsey Campbell
Fellstones takes its name from seven objects on the village green. It’s where Paul Dunstan was adopted by the Staveleys after his parents died in an accident for which he blames himself. The way the Staveleys tried to control him made him move away and change his name. Why were they obsessed with a strange song he seemed to have made up as a child?
I read a lot of Ramsey Campbell’s work in the 80s and 90s and then fell away for whatever reasons. Those are the novels and stories that justly earned him the reputation of one of the best horror writers around. Coming back to his work after a couple of decades off, it’s immediately obvious that he hasn’t changed much. The horror here is decidedly of the slow burn variety and Campbell is a master of mounting unease. His familiar motif of overbearing parent figures that the lead finds themselves powerless against is very much present here, as it is so many of his books (there are good and strong autobiographical reasons for this, iirc). Of those earlier novels, this is perhaps most reminiscent of The Hungry Moon, as the early sense of things not being quite in true gradually builds through pagan myth to some full on cosmic horror. I don’t think Fellstones made quite the impact on me that that book did, but then again that was my first Campbell and this is probably my twelfth or so. It’s not for the gorehounds amongst us, but this is a solid read that deploys a sense of rising dread well.
The Dark Between The Trees by Fiona Barrett
An unforgettable, surrealist gothic folk-thriller with commercial crossover appeal from a brilliant new voice.
1643: A small group of Parliamentarian soldiers are ambushed in an isolated part of Northern England. Their only hope for survival is to flee into the nearby Moresby Wood… unwise though that may seem. For Moresby Wood is known to be an unnatural place, the realm of witchcraft and shadows, where the devil is said to go walking by moonlight…
Seventeen men enter the wood. Only two are ever seen again, and the stories they tell of what happened make no sense. Stories of shifting landscapes, of trees that appear and disappear at will… and of something else. Something dark. Something hungry.
Today , five women are headed into Moresby Wood to discover, once and for all, what happened to that unfortunate group of soldiers. Led by Dr Alice Christopher, an historian who has devoted her entire academic career to uncovering the secrets of Moresby Wood. Armed with metal detectors, GPS units, mobile phones and the most recent map of the area (which is nearly 50 years old), Dr Christopher’s group enters the wood ready for anything.
This one features two narratives four hundred years apart that twine around and echo each other, as a group of Civil War soldiers stumble into a dark and mysterious wood, and a modern day all-female team of archeologists attempt to retrace their steps and solve their disappearance. The publicity mentions the obvious parallels with The Ritual and The Descent, and they are indeed strong, but there’s also a lot of the unresolved eeriness of Picnic At Hanging Rock and the sense of ancient landscape Alan Garner evokes. Very atmospheric, creepy, and a real page turner - I blazed through it.
Sundial by Catriona Ward
Sundial is a new, twisty psychological horror novel from Catriona Ward, internationally bestselling author of The Last House on Needless Street .
All Rob wanted was a normal life. She almost got it, too: a husband, two kids, a nice house in the suburbs. But Rob fears for her oldest daughter, Callie, who collects tiny bones and whispers to imaginary friends. Rob sees a darkness in Callie, one that reminds her too much of the family she left behind.
She decides to take Callie back to her childhood home, to Sundial, deep in the Mojave Desert. And there she will have to make a terrible choice.
Callie is worried about her mother. Rob has begun to look at her strangely, and speaks of past secrets. And Callie fears that only one of them will leave Sundial alive…
The mother and daughter embark on a dark, desert journey to the past in the hopes of redeeming their future.
Very hard to review this, as more or less any description of the setup, let alone the plot, is going to be heading towards spoiler territory. But rest assured if you relish the dread of approaching disclosure and the stomach dropping clunk of understanding as it becomes clear, and hey I know you do because you’re a good horror fan, you’re going to lap this up. It’s intense, claustrophobic and genuinely monstrous in places. Like all the best gothic fiction the setting is as much a character as any of the actors in the novel, and long after you’ve finished you will feel the sunbaked desolate expanses of the desert and the cool dark spaces of the house on your skin - at least on the bits of it that aren’t still tingling from the hammer blows of revelation and twist that build the climax.
The Pallbearer’s Club by Paul Tremblay
A cleverly voiced psychological thriller about an unforgettable—and unsettling—friendship, with blood-chilling twists, crackling wit, and a thrumming pulse in its veins, from the nationally bestselling author of The Cabin at the End of the World and Survivor Song .
What if the coolest girl you’ve ever met decided to be your friend?
Art Barbara was so not cool. He was a seventeen-year-old high school loner in the late 1980s who listened to hair metal, had to wear a monstrous back-brace at night for his scoliosis, and started an extracurricular club for volunteer pallbearers at poorly attended funerals. But his new friend thought the Pallbearers Club was cool. And she brought along her Polaroid camera to take pictures of the corpses.
Okay, that part was a little weird.
So was her obsessive knowledge of a notorious bit of New England folklore that involved digging up the dead. And there were other strange things—terrifying things—that happened when she was around, usually at night. But she was his friend, so it was okay, right?
Decades later, Art tries to make sense of it all by writing The Pallbearers Club: A Memoir . But somehow this friend got her hands on the manuscript and, well, she has some issues with it. And now she’s making cuts.
Seamlessly blurring the lines between fiction and memory, the supernatural and the mundane, The Pallbearers Club is an immersive, suspenseful portrait of an unusual and disconcerting relationship.
Paul Tremblay is certainly versatile. Where his last novel, Survivor Song, was a fast paced slam bang adventure, this one is much more introspective and measured. It’s a tale of thwarted hopes and the disappointments of life that most readers of a certain age will be able to empathize with, told as a memoir of a life-defining friendship but also punctuated with interjections from that friend, who is often less than impressed with the author’s version of events. It’s a great conceit that elevated my enjoyment of the novel. I mean, I knew was going to like it anyway as soon as I saw the contents page and realised that all the chapters were named after Hüsker Dü songs, but this sealed the deal. The supernatural element is kept ambiguous throughout, and you’ll have to read till the end to discover if it is an actual horror novel, or a story of an awkward young man’s instabilities and projections (hey, why can’t it be both?), but that won’t be a problem, because it’s an excellently readable book.
The Hollows was on my list of things to check out, folk horror in a snow covered Peak District sounds like something I’ll enjoy, good to read your positive words. I’ll look into the other stuff you recommended too which all sounds great, very keen on The Dark Between Trees, name checks to Picnic at Hanging Rock and Alan Garner? Oh my. Thanks!
Not read much horror this year. Starve Acre the other month which I enjoyed and am looking forward to the adaptation of:
Other than that, think the only other thing I read was the most recent Anno Dracula graphic novel:
is anyone else a fan of the Anno Dracula universe? Love all of that meta vampire world stuff
thats what I said when the credits rolled!
It’s only 80 minutes long tbh tbf - thought its single idea worked fine for a short film
Thought there needed to be a lot more to it, the idea could have been a good one but they didn’t really expand on it whatsoever. I’m Totally Fine is a comedy with a similar premise and was much more daring and imaginative, and I didn’t like that that much either
watched the Rabid remake last night. Actually thought it was quite good - its overlong and does get a bit dull in the middle but picks back up with a strong ending. Think it does what remakes should do - uses the premise of the original film and injects its own ideas rather than just rehashing what has already been done
Had this on my list for awhile as have always been interested in the Soska sisters’ career - will have to get on and check it out before their new one (On The Edge) arrives…