Monday, 13 October 2014


It’s Halloween this month. Horror blog time I reckon.

So, obviously I won’t finish the review, but I have been inspired to think about this genre I love.

People are always saying there’s no originality in horror any more. That its golden days are long behind us and that truly iconic villains such as Michael Myers, Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees are a thing of the past.

Sometimes these people have a point. Major studios are certainly playing it safe most of the time, but I feel too many people are a little afraid to dig deeper. Take a chance on some of the little seen, direct to dvd or independent fare out there. There’s a whole host of terrifying boogeymen waiting to be discovered. Don’t believe me? Well allow me to enlighten you.

All of the following bad guys have appeared in films released over the last 10 years. While not all of them feature in great films, they have elevated those films through their sheer creepiness or bloody awesomeitude (it’s my blog, I can make up words if I want)

Let’s start in an obvious place, shall we?

Leslie Vernon
(Behind The Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon, 2006)

As much as these blogs have become a bit of an ongoing love letter to Scott Glosserman’s fantastic deconstruction of the slasher film, I cannot ignore it’s fantastic lead.
The titular Leslie (played brilliantly by Nathan Baesal) is a marvellous creation. When depicted ‘out of character’ Leslie is likeable, enthusiastic and earnest.
But when it comes to his big night, Leslie is an entirely different beast. A cold and ruthless psychopath with his own carefully plotted ‘backstory’, Leslie is terrifying.
A lot of credit for this undoubtedly goes to his design (the childlike, blank mask is particularly unsettling, while the scarecrow-like garb and use of a sickle just add to this), but let’s not play down Baesal’s work in the role or the gorgeous camera work during his rampage at the abandoned farmhouse and orchard in Glen Echo, Maryland.
If the team behind the first film were to all get back on the same page, Leslie’s inevitable return and take on deconstructing horror franchise sequels would be all too welcome here at the House of Horrors.
So here’s the massive pain in all this — the team ARE all on the same page and DO want to do the sequel. But they can’t get the funding.
As I previously covered here on this blog, they even set up a kickstarter page to get this film made, they’re so desperate to get it done. Sadly it was unsuccessful.
So where does it stand now?
They are still working at getting the film off the ground but it has been very quiet re: progress for some time.
Will we ever see what happens after Leslie’s post-credits ‘resurrection’ in the morgue? Who knows.
At least this isn’t the case for the next fictional boogeyman on my list…

Jacob Goodnight
(See No Evil, 2006; See No Evil 2, 2014)

When 2006’s See No Evil was announced, I don’t think many people held particularly high hopes for it. It was a micro-budgeted slasher film, produced by WWE wrestling’s own studio, starring a wrestler and some budding tv actors/actresses, and directed by a man with a lot of music videos and soft-p0rn titles on his CV.
This could have been an absolute car crash.
So imagine my surprise when I watched this back-to-basics bit of popcorn horror and found myself caught up in its bleak little story.
As implausibly good looking young offenders were put through the wringer on the screen, the real star of the piece was Monday Night Raw’s own Kane, Glen Jacobs.
Much like Tyler Mane in Rob Zombie’s Halloween, Jacobs as Goodnight is a walking special effect. A real beast of a man, billed as 7ft tall and 23 stone, Jacobs doesn’t have to do much more than glare to frighten people. So it was a pleasant surprise to see him actually do much more!
However you feel about wrestling and the men that do it, they are entertainers and have decent acting ability and athleticism. And Jacobs proves to be up among the best of those to take the switch from the squared circle to silver screen.
Furthermore, the character had a suitably grim and twisted story, a penchant for plucking out his victims’ eyes, plus Jacobs used his hulking frame and a meathook on a chain to devastatingly gory effect to make Goodnight a memorable villain.
And I wasn’t the only one impressed. When WWE Studios announced it was planning to release a sequel (due out later this month), it was able to attract top scream queens Danielle Harris and Katharine Isabelle as well as the critically acclaimed Soska sisters to direct. This looks like one to watch, and if it does well as it should, surely Jacob Goodnight will be appearing on the screen again in the future.

Doll Boy
(Doll Boy, 2010; Circus of the Dead, 2014)

Speaking of slasher villains appearing onscreen soon, only this past week I discovered ‘Bloody’ Bill Pon’s brilliant short, DollBoy. Essentially a slasher film pared down to a lean mean 27 minutes (plus two completely jaw-dropping trailers… ESPECIALLY that second one that I refuse to spoil, it needs to be seen to be believed!), it follows the plight of several people kidnapped by the horrible Noodledome the clown. This group are dragged from Noodledome’s yellow van, then promptly thrown into an abandoned West Texas Mexican fleamarket that has become home to Doll Boy.
A very big man in childish attire with a creepy mask and sledgehammer as his weapon of choice (making him a smasher instead of a slasher!), the silent Doll Boy stalks his victims through his labyrinth-like home. The building adds to the creepiness, it’s full of eerie toys, a record player blasting out old-time songs, a projector screening cartoons and the physical remains of Doll Boy’s previous depravities.
I’d say that is about it, but Doll Boy is so much more than the sum of its parts. The atmosphere is incredibly unsettling while the unique look and horrific intensity of Doll Boy (as played by the imposing Sergio Gracida) make him a sterling villain.
Bloody Bill clearly impressed the right people with this effort as he is all set to release Circus of the Dead in the coming months. Once again featuring Noodledome as well as an equally grotesque group of killer clowns, it will also feature a confirmed appearance by Doll Boy himself. Here’s hoping this means the big, bad, baby-faced brute will be appearing in his own feature-length effort soon.
For those looking to see Doll Boy doing his thing in the meantime, the short (plus some very cool merchandise), is available to buy here. You will NOT regret it!

(Creep, 2004)

I’ve got a couple of confessions to make here.
1)   Creep was finished and first screened a little over 10 years ago. But as it didn’t receive a wide-release until early 2005, I feel comfortable with including it here.
2)   The film itself, is actually not very good. The director, Christopher Smith, has gone on to give us the surprisingly funny and very, very dark Severance and the quite excellent Triangle, but here it doesn’t quite come together. I don’t think this is anything to do with his film-making so much as the story being told – and the fact that most of the characters in this film are massive wankers. Especially Franka Potente, the ‘heroine’.
So, with that in mind, let me explain why I’m including this film on this list.
First, I can’t help but love the setting. I travel on the London Underground on a daily basis (on the Northern Line no less, the same line on which Creep was filmed) and seeing the dark, dirty old tunnels that crisscross under the city used in a horror film makes it all a little more personal for me.
OK, the idea that somebody could fall asleep on a tube platform and A) not wake up when a train rumbled through and B) then end up locked inside the station as nobody checked the platforms before closing up, is pretty far-fetched (although I did once get off a tube into a closed station).
Second, the villain is great. A grotty and horrible cross between Gollum and a bald rat, Sean Harris (under a lot of prosthetics) bosses the role.
A deformed, mentally ill, cannibalistic hermit, ‘Craig’s’ name comes from a dirty old hospital wristband he wears. We see that he captures and stores people in the sewage system near Charing Cross Station, and has something of an affinity for rats. In fact, he is seen to feed them with any leftover body parts of his victims.
The character’s origin is strongly hinted at yet never spelled out. We discover a mysterious ‘Surgery Site 12’ underground, filled with cots and jars of foetuses. Pictures on the walls show a mysterious doctor and what looks like a deformed boy.
Furthermore, during the film’s most disturbing scene, Craig brutally murders a young woman in a horrifying imitation of an abortion. He follows surgical procedure prior to this, including the donning of gloves and robes and even places a (broken) anaesthetic mask over his victim’s face. Clearly he’s seen all this before somewhere…
Can I recommend this film? Well, us horror fans are used to picking the gems from the sewage, as it were, and this film boasts a fair few gems. Harris’s Craig is really unnerving; the Tube as a backdrop to worse horror than the usual slack-jawed gathering of tourists at the bottom of an escalator; some quite visceral gore effects and the chance to see a Holby City regular play an attempted rapist that gets chopped to bits.
That has to be worth 85 minutes of your time on a dull and rainy Sunday?

(Trick ‘r Treat, 2007)

Remember those fantastic portmanteau horror films of yesteryear? Amicus’ awesome 1960s-70s efforts such as Vault of Horrors, Asylum or Tales from the Crypt, or the Stephen King-penned Creepshow and its sequel from the 80s?
The long-delayed Trick ‘r Treat took a page from the book of these old school classics and gave us a fantastic and well-shot film that really captures the feel of Halloween (to such a degree that I now watch it every October!)
With a top cast including Tru Blood’s Sookie Stackhouse, Anna Paquin; the fantastic Dylan Baker and THE Brian Cox, it may come as a surprise to hear that the real star of the film is actually a masked child without a line of dialogue.
Cameoing in each story of the film, Sam (played by Quinn Lord) is the tiny, cute yet creepy mascot of the film. The iconic little demon in orange pyjamas and a Burlap sack mask first appeared in director Michael Dougherty’s animated short Season’s Greetings, and has since appeared in short films Halfway to Halloween, Father’s Day, Sam’s Going Back To School and Making Friends.
The reason I (and many others) love Sam, is because he’s so different to everybody else on this list. He’s small but scary, with a very cool design and a compelling air of mystery along with a great gimmick — he violently enforces the ‘rules’ of Halloween. He’s clearly a popular little chap, there is plenty of merchandise out there and it sells very well indeed.
Sam is due to return in a long awaited sequel, but first Michael Dougherty is given us another seasonal scare with Krampus, a film about Santa’s decidedly less jolly chum. Until then, I THOROUGHLY recommend adding Trick ‘r Treat to your to-watch list this Halloween.

The Collector
(The Collector, 2009; The Collection, 2012)

From frivolous fun to something altogether grimier — now let’s talk about The Collector. Written as a prequel to the Saw films, when the studio turned it down Marcus Dunston and Patrick Melton tinkered with their script… and The Collector was born.
Very much a reaction to Saw and Hostel’s torture-p0rn, the first film saw a burglar trapped in the middle of house booby trapped by a psychotic killer. A spooky, glinting eyed Collector stalked the house, bloodily disposing of the family who lived there before revealing exactly what it is that he collects during the film's shocking climax. Played by Juan Fernandez in this film, the sadistic Collector was different to slasher villains in that he was less physically imposing (his lean limbs reminded me of an oversized spider) but intelligent and cunning.
The first film did well enough financially that a sequel soon followed. Upping the ante quite significantly, the second film decided to fly in the face of any realism that might have slipped into the first (there wasn’t much to be honest) and just went mental. From the opening scene in which a nightclub is turned into a giant meat-grinder, The Collection is more fun and FAR bloodier. With Randall Archer under The Collector’s gimp mask this time, he added a different type of physicality to the role: he is bigger and seems more of your typical slasher villain, albeit one prepared to open fire on his victims with a machine gun or send trained attack dogs (or drug addled brainwashed humans) to run them down. To what purpose? Well, that revelation takes The Collector to a whole new level of bonkers!
What makes this villain stand out from the crowd (other than those very, very creepy eyes) is his unique M.O. The traps, the cunning, the hand-to-hand combat prowess — it’s like dealing with some kind of Special Forces soldier gone right off the deep end. Combine that with his ‘art’ and the Collector is a real monster.
A third film, titled The Collected has been penned, but following somewhat underwhelming box office takings from The Collection, that seems at risk.
I hope it is made, but until then The Collector and The Collection tell a story of their own that is well worth your time.

So, I know I promised you 13 and 13 you shall have… but the second part can be found here.

Let me know your thoughts on my picks so far below, plus feel free to send me any suggestions for those you think I may have overlooked.

If you haven’t already, do please check out and like the Hickey’s House of Horrors Facebook page, which you can find here. Alternatively, follow me on twitter: Hickey@HHouseofHorrors. 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!

Until next time, I hope you enjoyed your stay.

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