Penny Dread­ful

What’s hap­pen­ing in the world of hor­ror movies this month…

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Front page -

Hor­rific scenes, in­clud­ing an itchy look at in­sects.

Hor­ror for dum­mies

The Con­jur­ing made a boat load of money so nat­u­rally some­one thought: milk it! Des­per­ate to master the alchemy of how to turn grue into gold, Annabelle was born, a care­less spin- off based around the premise that a leer­ing, dirt- smeared, over­sized doll crammed into white taffeta like the Don’t Look Now dwarf on wed­ding day, makes an ex­cel­lent gift for a preg­nant woman. Or in­deed any­one. The set up: late ’ 60s, Mia and John are bliss­fully ex­pect­ing a baby when a bunch of Satanists break into their house un­leash­ing a se­ries of events not par­tic­u­larly re­lated to said creepy doll. Cue a de­press­ingly ob­vi­ous se­ries of hor­ror clichés. Annabelle didn’t have to be ter­ri­ble. It’s not hor­ri­bly made, the act­ing isn’t aw­ful, there’s even one mo­ment that’s quite scary ( which is in the trailer…). It’s just so in­sult­ingly cyn­i­cal. And I hate this kind of thing. A film rushed out which hasn’t both­ered to de­velop its mythol­ogy, doesn’t care that there are gap­ing plot holes, that the be­hav­iour of its pro­tag­o­nists makes no log­i­cal or emo­tional sense and as­sumes its au­di­ence is so stupid it sign­posts the plot us­ing AC­TUAL SIGN­POSTS! The “scary doll” we all came to see never even moves by it­self, mak­ing Annabelle in­fe­rior to Dolly Dear­est. And no one wants that. Re­mem­ber the mid- late ’ 90s when all those cheapo post- Scream meta- slasher teen- movie cash- ins came out and ev­ery­one pro­claimed it the death of hor­ror? That.

Youth in re­volt

And then along comes 19- year- old Drew Casson with his “mi­cro­buster” Hunger­ford and the fu­ture of hor­ror is sud­denly in good – or at the very least in­ter­est­ing – hands. This is a wildly am­bi­tious hor­ror sci- fi cur­rently do­ing the fes­ti­val cir­cuit, shot over a pe­riod of just nine days on a tiny bud­get by a group of young non- pro­fes­sion­als. Okay, so there are some prob­lems – it could use a ju­di­cious edit, all the nor­mal prob­lems with found footage ap­ply ( why are you still film­ing?!) and some of the per­for­mances could use a more ex­pe­ri­enced di­rec­tor, but the world build­ing, the creature ef­fects ( yes, there are crea­tures) and the sheer sense of scale is mind- blow­ing. Hunger­ford starts with a bunch of flat­mates get­ting ready for a party, it teases that it’s go­ing to be cut- price zom­bie same- old and then, boom! be­comes some­thing so much more ex­cit­ing. It’s a call­ing card, but wow, what a call­ing card. Next up from pro­duc­tion house Wild­seed: drugs and witches in Bris­tol. As long as it hasn’t got a creepy doll in it, I’m in.

Na cho man

Two films called Ex­trater­res­trial to choose from on DVD this month. Out 29 Oc­to­ber Ex­trater­res­trial – a bom­bas­tic, CGI- rich thrill ride from the direc­tors of Grave En­coun­ters star­ring sexy young star­lets ( and Michael Ironside!) as a group of youths who find a space­ship in the woods and have to bat­tle alien in­va­sion, gov­ern­ment con­spir­a­cies and at least one prob­ing. I haven’t seen it, it looks like fun. Also out now: Ex­trater­res­trial. Ab­so­lutely the op­po­site. A care­fully ob­served, darkly funny re­la­tion­ship drama which hap­pens to be set against the back­drop of a mas­sive in­va­sion, this is the lat­est from Na­cho Vi­ga­londo and it feels like a com­pan­ion piece to his ex­cel­lent time travel hor­ror Time­crimes ( 2007). Ju­lia and Julio have just spent the night to­gether. But Ju­lia is with Car­los. And nosey neigh­bour An­gel knows. Oh and the aliens have landed. Wry, clever and just a lit­tle bit mov­ing it’s not quite hor­ror though it deftly plays with all that we’ve learned from In­va­sion Of The Bodys­natch­ers and The Thing. Ex­cel­lent.

Gloomy roomies

“It’s been like this the whole time – Dea­con on ‘ dishes’. It still hasn’t moved in five years!” Four vam­pires share a flat, ar­gue about the clean­ing rota, try to get in­vited into the coolest night­clubs and oc­ca­sion­ally paint the town red. As de­tailed in Red Alert ( page 9), What We Do In The Shad­ows is a hor­ror- com mock doc from Taika Waititi and Je­maine Cle­ment. Like all great com­edy hor­ror it’s gar­ner­ing com­par­isons to Shaun Of

The Dead though they’re dif­fer­ent fish – Shad­ows has a higher zinger rate for a start though it shows One the same love for the genre. Vi­ago ( Waititi) is a fop­pish dandy, Vladislav ( Cle­ment) a blood­thirsty Im­paler type, Dea­con ( Jonathan Brugh) the sexy “young” neck nib­bler and Pe­tyr ( Ben Framsham) a Nos­fer­atu- style beast. Then there’s Nick, a new clan mem­ber who just wants to tell ev­ery­one he’s a blood­sucker be­cause it’s cool. Ab­surd, timely and not mas­sively scary, it’s still go­ing to be one of my top films of the year.

Na me- ag ed­don

You’ve bat­tled the

Pi­ran­haconda. You’ve faced down the mighty Shark­to­pus. You’ve shel­tered from the

Shark­nado. And soon you can put on a hat and a wa­ter­proof in the face of Shark­nado: The Sec­ond

( out 27 Oc­to­ber). Now, mind your toes for the Vol­canosaur! The lat­est from Syfy is about a gi­ant di­nosaur who lives un­der the earth’s core and is so mas­sive that... oh who cares. It’s out on DVD on 17 Novem­ber, if you must…

Dread­ful Old Movies

Stuck for some­thing to do at Hal­loween? Go see The Babadook... Al­ready seen that? The

In­va­sion Of The Body Snatch­ers ( 1956), from Dirty Harry helmer Don Siegel is get­ting a the­atri­cal re- re­lease at the end of Oc­to­ber. A dif­fer­ent beast to the mag­nif­i­cent 1978 ver­sion, yet still a tense and highly ef­fec­tive story of a small- town doc­tor who finds his pa­tients and friends trans­formed into soul­less pod peo­ple.

Time­lessly terrifying. “Your spag bol? Noth­ing to do with us. Some­one else must’ve pinched it…”

At least two bril­liant re­leases this month. What We Do In The Shad­ows is a hi­lar­i­ous house- share com­edy with vam­pires, while Ex­trater­res­trial is a dark, dry re­la­tion­ship drama with space­ships. Then there’s Vol­canosaur. It’s go­ing to be ter­ri­ble – of course it is! I’d still rather sit through that than cyn­i­cal doll dirge Annabelle…

No one had warned her that this Ice Bucket Chal­lenge in­volved mud.

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