Friday, 28 November 2014


Another day, another short that is gathering considerable word of mouth. Currently touring film festivals, Philippe Bourret’s intense First Night has been a film I’ve looked forward to watching for some time and after a quick Facebook chat with the very awesome Bourret, I got my wish.
Was it worth the wait? Read on…


Dir: Philippe Bourret
Starring: Sandra Foisy, Andree Anne Saliba, Matthew Saliba, Alexander Wheill, Robert Verret

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

The film follows two groups on an inexorable collision course. First we meet young flat mates, the feisty Alex (Foisy) and mouse-like Véro (Andree Anne Saliba). The girls are trying to settle in for the night but their nuisance neighbour starts playing unbearably loud music in the adjoining apartment. It seems that blaring music, loud sex and even louder arguments have become a regular occurrence and now the Alex and Vero have reached the very limit of their patience.
Meanwhile in a quiet Quebec coffee shop which is winding down to close for the night, two policemen, the fast-talking and slimy JP (Matthew Saliba) and intimidating, scarred brute Moses (Wheill) are meeting with their depressed and damaged former colleague Rich (Verret). Rich was recently booted from the force and has taken it very badly, so his two buddies have decided to give him one last ride-along,  an opportunity to once again wield authority over the worst dregs of the city.
When the girls finally call the police to deal with their bothersome neighbour wheels are set in motion that will bring both groups face to face...

BEST BITS (mild spoiler warning): In director Bourret’s own words — First Night is a micro-budget short, but I can assure you, if this caused any constraints to the film it really is not noticeable at all. By limiting the film to two main sets Bourret is able to ensure that both are lit, dressed and shot perfectly. The camerawork is quite superb, turning the girls’ homely apartment into a claustrophobic cage during the film’s tense climax.
In truth, Bourret has not constructed this story on spectacle, but on a well-written plot, filled with twists and a deeper commentary on society and those that we pick to enforce our rules. The film withholds certain revelations until key moments, letting them slip to cause maximum impact with perfect timing.
It would be remiss to overlook the performances in First Night. Our heroines, Foisy and Saliba, both give us reasons to root for them, whether it be Alex’s spiky toughness or Véro’s fragility. In fact many people will be devastated by a key and disturbing scene involving Véro and the hulking Moses. It does not make for easy viewing.
On the other side of the corn, praise is definitely due to the disillusioned policemen. Wheill is terrifying. I’m a pretty big chap myself, but Wheill’s stone-cold stare and imposing frame sent a chill up my spine. He needs to do more horror work and soon.
However, arguably the scene stealer of entire short is Matthew Saliba. A mix of sleazy charm and motor-mouthed ego, Saliba’s JP is that brat from the playground who can do whatever he wants because he has a prefect badge and serious back-up. He reminded me of a kind of sociopathic cross between Gary Cole, a less wired Jim Carrey and Quention Tarantino’s onscreen roles — all quick, overly chummy delivery with an edge behind it that suggests serious instability. Much like Gary Oldman in Leon Saliba’s performance veers dangerously close to hammy, but always stays just on the right side of the line. This is a tough task to pull off, but Saliba is more than up to it. I cannot wait to see to see more from this very talented actor and will be watching his career with great interest.

WORST BITS (spoiler warning): It’s difficult to find flaws in such a tightly-wound, well-told story. I suppose it might be possible to say that the very good Verret ends up a little lost in the mix. I would have liked to see more from him, more explanation of his character’s plight and a bit more time and care given to his arc. But when you are squeezing five characters into 30 minutes it must be difficult to give everybody a fair shake.
I also imagine that the aforementioned scene with Wheill and Andree Saliba will be a little strong for some viewers. Her character’s helplessness and the humiliation she endures is gruelling, but never feels gratuitous. Some people can laugh at dozens of teens being hacked to pieces with a chainsaw but become squeamish when the violence becomes darker, more real. These people will find thes sequence a tough watch.
Finally, much like I said with Naked Zombie Girl, I wanted more! If this is a short that acts as an introduction to a far bigger and darker picture, cool. As it stands it is one tiny, almost insignificant event in something that is truly momentous — yet on that very personal level, it shows us what the new world after this First Night could be. 

VERDICT: This short is quite simply, brilliant. A fantastically taut thriller which raises pertinent questions about the structure of our world and the very nature of law enforcement and the implicit trust we grant heavily armed strangers just because they are wearing a uniform. If those who stare into the abyss find the abyss stares back into them, what happens to normal men or women, with normal human flaws, who deal with the worst kinds of delinquent scum on a daily basis?
The short is both thought-provoking and entertaining. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
At the moment there is no official release for First Night, but Bourret has told me he plans to release a dvd of his short films. As soon as I know any more, I’ll let you know, but the film is touring festivals right now, so keep your eyes peeled!
In the meantime, checkout and Like the film's official facebook page — film of this quality deserves your support.

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, 26 November 2014


There is a real and very distinguished history of horror-comedy hybrids. From Bruce Campbell’s antics in The Evil Dead series, to Peter Jackson’s Braindead, even over here in Blighty in Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead, it seems that few genre-blends work better than frights and fun. This week I was introduced to a film in a similar vein, Adam R Steigert’s A Grim Becoming. This one DOESN’T have ‘dead’ in the title… but it has have Death as one of the main characters!
Intrigued? Well, read on...


Dir: Adam R Steigert
Starring: Brandyn T Williams, Michael Sciabarrasi, Melyssa Jade, Devanny Pinn, Britt Griffith, Bill Oberst Jr, Melantha Blackthorne, Lynn Lowry, Jessica Cameron, Aryn Fitzgerald

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

After tragedy befalls his family, ambitious and short-tempered architect Raphael (Williams) returns to his small hometown of Metzburgh for a funeral. Raphael is on the brink of losing a multi-million dollar deal and petty rival Wayne (Griffith) is snapping at his heels.
Upon reaching the town Raphael find himself in the middle of a supernatural occurrence as he witnesses a Grim Reaper about to harvest a soul. Upon interfering to save the hapless victim, Raphael finds himself face to face with the sinister Magoo (Sciabarrasi). Magoo reveals that he is actually the embodiment of death itself and that due to ancient and unbreakable rules, now Raphael must take up the mantle of Grim Reaper.
Loathe to accept the responsibility of the role, Raphael finds himself trying to juggle his grief, battles with rival Reapers, occasionally sloughing his flesh to become a walking skeleton, his bizarre yet loveable family (including Hickey’s House of Horrors fave Bill Oberst Jr) and the Machiavellian machinations of the odious Wayne. Luckily he has his cute and loyal assistant Carrie (Jade) on hand to help him cope… but for how long?

BEST BITS (mild spoiler warning): A comedy film will ALWAYS get by on how loveable its leads are — and Brandyn T Williams is a fine leading man. He has great comic timing and really caught the nuances of his role. Opposite him, Melyssa Jade is undoubtedly a very pretty woman, but she was tough and likeable enough for you to really root for her. I can’t wait to see these two again!
The supporting cast were a mixed bag, some a little less accomplished than others, but with appearances from genre heavyweights Bill Oberst Jr and Lynn Lowry there can be no complaints! Following on from his terrifying work in Billy Pon’s Circus of the Dead, Oberst shows that he has a real affinity for comedy too — Mr Oberst, you are making a fan here at Hickey’s House of Horrors!
Few people will be scared by A Grim Becoming, but there are actually a couple of nice gore moments in there, including one fantastic one involving SPOILERS TO FOLLOW —  Raph’s zombified niece — SPOILERS OVER.
The wacky supporting characters really are a highpoint, from a randy geriatric couple to a stoner fallen angel, but the surprise highlight of the film to me was Sciabarrasi’s Death/Magoo. I’d never seen him before I watched this film, but consider me a fan now. He seemed to be having fantastic fun with the part, neatly veering between very, very fun and darkly menacing with ease, he stole every scene he was in.
Finally, the writing in this film really does warrant some praise. There was lots of very punchy, very funny dialogue, including a piece of hilarious miscommunication involving Elvis that had me in stitches. The first rule of a comedy is surely: ‘Be FUNNY’. Steigert and crew get it and we, the audience, are the ones to benefit.

WORST BITS (mild spoiler warning): As I said above, while most of the cast were very, very good, there were a few wobbles here and there. Nothing that derailed the film by any stretch, but a couple of performances jarred.
Also the film is a low-budget effort. If you go in expecting a highly-polished, multi-million pound big studio effort, you will be disappointed. This is film that was very well made with the resources to hand, but limited resources can only go so far.
A case in point, while in some scenes the hokey skeleton effects are very funny, in others they didn’t quite hit the spot. Luckily the performances and writing carry you along, even when the budget cannot quite match the film’s ambition.
Finally, while the schizophrenic nature of the film often worked in its favour, bouncing from funny to gory in the blink of an eye, at times the tonal shift fell a little flat — mainly when the film flipped from riotously funny to soppily sentimental. Let’s just say the film worked far better at making me laugh!

VERDICT: Following in the comedy-horror footsteps of the greats, A Grim Becoming is a great Friday night beer film. Get the pale ales, get the pizzas, get some friends over and sit back and get ready to laugh.
It is very funny and succeeds on so many levels. Great performances, hilarious writing and an indie edge make this a perfect cross between the likes of Peter Jackson’s The Frighteners or 1999’s Idle Hands and Kevin Smith’s early work. As a huge Clerks fan I mean this in the very best of ways. Steigert almost certainly has a cult hit on his hands and I recommend checking it out as soon as you get the chance. I’m now eagerly anticipating the UK release of his sci-fi flick, Not Human next month. Oh yes, there will be a review!
As seems to be par for the course with my reviews, we are still waiting on confirmation of a UK release for A Grim Becoming but as soon as I hear anything from the fantastically friendly and talented Mr Steigert, I’ll let you all know. In the meantime, get yourself to the film's official facebook page, to check for updates and while you’re there, why not show a little support and get Liking.

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.


One of the very greatest things about being a part of the online horror community is that you regularly discover gems from independent film makers. Recently Dorchester's Revenge: The Return of Crinoline Head was recommended to me and I did some research.
I don't think it paints me in too bad a light to admit that I hadn't seen the film's predecessor, Crinoline Head, but after a quick conversation with the film's generally awesome director, Tommy Faircloth, I found myself sitting down to a Crinoline Head double-bill. 
The first was made all the way back in 1995. It's a low budget effort and a couple of the performances to reflect this, but in an era where horror had become almost unbearably self-aware, Crinoline Head was a refreshing, tongue-in-cheek throwback to the slasher heyday of the 80s. It felt very much like it could have been lifted straight from the same video store shelves as the likes of Sleepaway Camp, The Burning or The Prowler
So the first was a pretty good film (play your cards right and I may even hit you all with a retro review of it, complete with all the usual swearing, bad-behaviour and irreverent humour!)
Could the soon-to-be-released sequel keep the good work up? Or even build on it?
Read on...

Dorchester's Revenge: The Return of Crinoline Head (2014)

Dir: Tommy Faircloth
Starring: Jason Vail, Christian James, Kirsten Ray, Gunner Willis, Leah Wiseman, Elizabeth Mears, Nicholas A Sweezer, Debbie Rochon, John Kap

SPEEDY SYNOPSIS: I’ll try not to spoil too much here, but read on at your own risk, also as this is a sequel, spoilers RE: Crinoline Head are kind of essential. Sorry!

Set 20 years on from the events of Crinoline Head, survivor Paul (Vail) is now a college teacher, albeit one whose life has fallen apart due to his obsession with serial killer and doll fan, Dorchester Stewart. It seems that following the harrowing events of the first film, Paul was unable to move on, researching Dorchester for a book that saw him neglect and lose his wife Now, finally, he is finally set to lay his demons to rest... until a class project sees his deepest fears laid bare.
After asking his students to write an essay on local legends, the frankly bastardly insensitive David (James) and his dorkish friend James (Willis) announce to the class that they are writing theirs on Crinoline Head. Paul isn't happy, kindly explains the events of the first film to the class (and anybody who hasn't seen the first film) but ultimately gives them permission to head to Stewart's abandoned lakefront home to research the story.
So off they go (rocking out to some metal along the way), joined by the very sweet Shelby (Ray) and Donna (Wiseman).
Upon arrival they are surprised to see that much of the original building has burned down... but not as surprised as they are to discover hard-drinking, filthy mouthed Betsy (horror veteran Rochon) living in a mobile home on the site, brandishing a shotgun and spitting a steady stream of sexual innuendos.
Finally the group are joined by loveably lunk Scott (Sweezer), buddy Reggie (Turner) and the fabulously vindictive, slutty Janet (a very impressive Mears), who, well, pretty much turn up because they've not got much better to do and think this is as good a place as any to run amok as hormone-fuelled teens tend to do.
However, it isn't long before we realise that this idyllic location may not be fun, fun, fun as a spate of steadily more gruesome murders causes the cast's numbers to dwindle at an alarming rate. David was determined to prove that Dorchester was still out there... and now it could be the death of them all. 

BEST BITS (mild spoiler warning): The first film was good fun, in a low-budget, throwback way - yet this film completely surpasses it on nearly every level.The production values are frankly superb, the unfeasibly attractive cast are all perfect in their roles (I particularly enjoyed the hilarious Scott and Janet, but everybody was brilliant.) and the story and camerawork were absolutely top drawer.
As if that wasn't enough, this film is so well-written that you really needn't be familiar with Crinoline Head to just dive straight in and enjoy the events of this picture, no mean feat in a film that so perfectly works as a sequel too.
With this film Tommy Faircloth has got the balance EXACTLY right - the film is packed with plenty of references for fans of the original and really does feel like a natural extension of that story, yet still remains accessible to newcomers.
The film retains the campy, tongue-in-cheek charm of the original, but updated and polished for today's audiences.
Furthermore, the humour throughout is legitimately VERY funny, from Debbie Rochon's crude explanations of her innuendos to Janet's acidic putdowns, the film made me laugh several times. There's even a brief detour midway through the film in which three catty drag queens on their way to a gig at a local bar end up wandering into the killer's path. It contributes NOTHING whatsoever to the ongoing plot of the film, but it is so much fun it really doesn't need to.
Speaking of the killer, his hulking design works on so many levels. After seeing musclebound potential victims in Scott and David, I felt the killer would have his work cut out - but Crinoline Head is a great bear of a man and looks more than capable of beating the living hell out of anybody that gets in his way, while the cracked doll-face mask that he sports (much like Billy Pon's equally terrifying Doll Boy) is the stuff of nightmares.   
This delightfully creepy design work carries over into a couple of sets (in particular THAT doll-filled lair) while the edgy nature of the film definitely carries over into a couple of the kill scenes. One is guaranteed to make any girls watching shriek, while the heartbreaking pinata scene is another memorably horrifying moment.  

WORST BITS (mild spoiler warning): I really can find very little to fault with this film, so don't expect this section to be too long!
While this film definitely improved on the pacing issues of the first film, it still seemed to take a while to get to the bloody end of the story. Frankly, I didn't mind because I really enjoyed getting to know the characters and building some sympathy towards our victims before the hammer fell, but if you're into wall-to-wall splatter for a film's run-time, this one requires a little more patience.
On a similar note, a few of the deaths do occur off-screen. I'm not sure whether this was due to budget constraints or to help build atmosphere for when the red stuff really hits the fan later, but either way, it may cause gorehounds to moan a little. However, I thought the kills pretty much all worked wonderfully without over-egging the gore effects. 
On a more personal note, I would have liked to see more from Vail's Paul in the film. Sadly his screentime doesn't match some his younger co-stars but I really dug what he brought to the film and would have loved to see more of it. The scenes he had were all great - I could have just done with a few more!
Finally, I was extremely disappointed that nobody was killed with a vegetable this time round after the original's absolutely marvellous death by celery. You let me down there, Tommy!

VERDICT: Do you like slasher films? Do you like supporting independent horror? Do you want to see some genuinely funny, likeable protagonists get offed in imaginative ways?
Yes? WATCH Dorchester's Revenge: The Return of Crinoline Head.
It is smart, funny, creepy and just goes to show that the era of the slasher is far from over. I thoroughly recommend this film, so get yourselves over to the film's official facebook page, LIKE the living daylights out of it, and keep your fingers crossed for a UK release. In the meantime I cannot wait to see what Tommy and the gang have lined up for us in the future -let's just hope it's not another 20 years before we can return to Dorchester's world.

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.


Hot on the heels of the announcement that the big-screen adaption of Stephen King’s epic The Stand will be split into four films, here are six more adaptations of the King of Modern Horror’s work that are worth checking out.
(Please note that while The Shawshank Redemption, Stand By Me and The Green Mile are undoubtedly great, they don’t quite fit the horror theme of this blog — so I have declined to include them. But they are all amazing and well worth your time. Also, It and Salem’s Lot were television adaptations and not films so I’m afraid I have to disqualify them from the list. Boooo!)

(John Carpenter, 1983)

There are plenty of Stephen King adaptations out there that are probably better stories than this one. But this is JOHN CARPENTER (quite possibly my favourite director of all time) directing a story by STEPHEN KING (quite possibly my favourite author of all time). The tale of a possessed and sentient 1958 Plymouth Fury and its obsessive love for its teenaged owner, Christine is an odd film, but one that needs to be seen.

(Mary Lambert, 1989)

Much like Christine, this is a film that isn’t the greatest quality King adaptation (I think fair arguments can be made that 1408, The Dead Zone and Apt Pupil are better films), but it is one that had a profound effect on me. Watching Pet Sematary when I was barely old enough to cope with its very dark and twisted story, I was creeped out for days afterwards. A modern take on The Monkey’s Paw, with a plotline that still horrifies me now I have become a father, the film is a must-see for horror fans, not least for the fantastic performance from Fred ‘Herman Munster’ Gwynne.

(Rob Reiner, 1990)

Kathy Bates.
James Caan.
THAT hobbling scene.
Misery is an iconic film, with an Oscar winning performance from Bates as one of the most terrifying screen psychos ever. If you haven’t seen it, you are a fool. Do it. Now.   

(Frank Darabont, 2007)

The most recent King adaptation on the list, this is yet another case where Darabont and King = GOLD. Based on one of my favourite King short stories, The Mist follows a group of survivors trapped in a convenience store by an otherworldy fog that hides numerous deadly monsters. Soon the dwindling group of survivors start to realise that not every threat comes from outside. This film boasts incredible visual effects and, while I preferred the ending of the novella, kudos must go to the studio for giving the film an even bleaker ending than its source material! If you get the chance, check out the sterling black and white version.

(Brian De Palma, 1979)

In most lists, a film of this quality would take the top spot. The real strength of De Palma’s astonishing film is that it manages to be more about character than gore (despite that bucket of blood). The worst horrors of the film do not come from knives or axes in flesh, but the darkness and cruelty of people towards those who are different. Carrie White may well be the one who causes the fiery and chaotic climax, but it is her tormentors (particularly her unstable and fanatically religious mother, played to perfection by Piper Laurie) who are the true monsters. Featuring a career-defining performance by Sissy Spacek, Carrie is one of the greatest horror films of all time.

(Stanley Kubrick, 1980)

Perhaps it is one of the entertainment industry’s biggest ironies that the adaptation King himself has been most outspoken against is the very film that most critics hail as easily the finest.
Kubrick’s film is shot beautifully, using claustrophobic camera shots, a beautifully desolate setting, genuinely disturbing set-pieces and an incredible performance by Jack Nicholson to ratchet up the tension to breaking point. The Shining is a true masterpiece, consistently voted one of the greatest horror flicks of all time (along with The Exorcist for those keeping count). I’d go one further, The Shining is not just one of the best horror films, it is simply one of the greatest cinematic works of all time.

So, any thoughts on the list? Can you think of any I’ve missed?
Feel free to drop any comments below. I may even get enough for a second list!

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.