Tuesday, 31 March 2015


It's been some time since I've covered a short here at the House (and we all know how much I love a good short film), so it's time to put that right. Expect a few over the days ahead, but what better place to start than with one that has picked up a host of awards at the Indie Horror Film Festival?
Read on…


Dir: Guy Soulsby
Starring: Shaun Dooley, Sebastian Canciglia, Duncan Meadows, Oliver Scott, Wreh-Asha Walton, Michael English, Georgina Morrell, Matthew Greenhough, Bridget Wood

SPEEDY SYNOPSIS: This is a short, so I'll try not to spoil too much here, but read on at your own risk...

On a throne of scrap metal and automobile parts a dirty suited Devil (Dooley) pontificates on Human existence, emotions and ambition.
Throughout his deep examination of what makes Man, we are shown a number of examples of the worst humanity can endure and inflict upon itself and the sinister depths to which people will sink to further their situation, from the trials of Christ (Canciglia) upon the cross, to Sisyphus in Hades (Meadows), via rioters, pimps and witches.

WHY IT WORKS: First, off, director Soulsby and cinematographer Nicholas Bennett have crafted an absolutely sumptuous looking film. I'm not lying when I say that each and every single frame during the short's taut eight-minute runtime is so beautifully and artistically framed that it would not be out of place hanging on a wall.
Visually, this could well be the most polished and amazing short I've reviewed here at the House yet.
It isn't just the Hollywood level framing, film-quality, editing by Nick Armstrong and colour work that are at this jaw-dropping standard — the special effects (of which there are an impressively ambitious number) and wonderful make-up work also hit the nail well and truly on the head. The team of Scott Simmonds, Terry Tsang, James Paul HattSmith, Eileen Chan, Caspian Graca Da Silva and Robbie Drake were among those whose work on the film was recognised at the Indie Horror Film Festival, and with good reason. Well done to all!
Quite simply, Devil Makes Work is a stunning achievement, especially when the tight budget to which it was made is taken into consideration. The film is a real labour of love and the sheer effort on the part of everybody involved practically pours out of the screen.
Of course a film is so much more than just a collection of images. Here the main thread of the film is carried by the fantastically intense Dooley. Dooley will be familiar to British TV watchers for his roles in Misfits, Broadchurch and Wolfblood, will appearances in the likes of EastEnders, Coronation Street and Silent Witness. This is an accomplished, experienced actor and the Yorkshireman is a revelation as the Devil. At times threatening, compelling and seething, his gravel-voiced delivery as he recites the history of humanity's desperate quest to  reach a higher and higher status is mesmerising.
If the visuals of Devil Makes Work can be best described as visual poetry (and I really feel that is the case), the monologue delivered by Dooley charting the ongoing battle between Good and Evil is a poem too. It's deep, emotive and stirs some decidedly uncomfortable feelings among the listener. This is some fantastic writing on Soulsby's part.
Dooley isn't the only cast member to perform at an impressively high standard. The other actors appear all too briefly but each makes a suitably strong impression in their own bloodcurdling vignette. 
This is a truly fantastic short film, and one that makes me very excited to see what Soulsby could do with the budget and time to expand upon it. Perhaps I'm being greedy here, but this short would work incredibly as a prologue to a Prophecy style biblical struggle among us flick, albeit one with a lot more intellect and wit.
Even if that is not to be, Devil Makes Work is beautiful, deep and disturbing — an absolute must-see.

SO WHERE'S IT AT? Devil Makes Work is currently still doing the rounds on the festival circuit, so be sure to check out their official Facebook page to find out where and when you catch the film. Be sure to show the guys some support and give it a Like while you're there too!

10 WORD WRAP UP: A visual feast with deep, dark meaning at its core

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.

Monday, 30 March 2015

HORROR HEADLINES (23rd-30th March)

Not got time to trawl the web for all the top horror news of the last week? Well allow me to give you a bite-size breakdown of the all biggest nightmarish news!


It's confirmed! Six more episodes of The X-Files are coming to Fox, with both David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson returning in the iconic roles of Mulder and Scully. Original show runner Chris Carter will oversee the production. First Twin Peaks, now this? AMAZING!


The Austrian Oak's long-awaited zombie movie finally gets a trailer... and the Big Man is not so wooden in this. Pathos, zombies and Arnie's beard. This has it all!


The Walking Dead's LA-based spin-off will officially be called… (drumroll please) Fear The Walking Dead! A bit longwinded perhaps, but pretty cool.
Oh, and there's a trailer!


Nick Antosca, writer for NBC's wonderful Hannibal, has signed up to write the new Friday the 13th movie for Platinum Dunes/Paramount Pictures.
Read more about this story over at Bloody Disgusting.


Joseph Gilgun of Misfits and This Is England fame has been cast as Cassidy in AMC's Preacher. He's a wonderful actor and is PERFECT for the role, so I'm very excited by this news!


This week's big release is definitely the eagerly-anticipated Fear Clinic, with genre fave Robert Englund. You can buy it on Amazon right here.

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.

Friday, 27 March 2015


As I write this, Season 5 of The Walking Dead is rocketing toward its finale.
This means there'll be plenty of fans looking for a zombie fix in the months ahead, so this is the prime time to review an upcoming movie featuring everybody's favourite shuffling undead.
I first heard about The Other Side when I saw how well-represented it was at The HorrorHound Film Fest Awards. It was nominated alongside some pretty great films, so my interest was well and truly piqued.
Luckily, after a quick conversation with the very cool guys over at Orchard Place Productions I was able to get my hands on a dvd copy of the movie.
Would it be dead good? Or would this one bite?
Read on...


Dir: Raymond Mongelli III, Chris Niespodzianski
Starring: Chad Conley, Danielle Lozeau, Christine Starkey, Benjamin Sheeler, Robert Liscio, Michelle Cobin, Jack Davis, Chucky Hendershot

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

The Other Side features a number of interwoven plotlines that are drawn inexorably together.
The main of these features Chris (Conley) a man who wakes up one morning to find his wife and daughter missing. It quickly becomes apparent that both have form for this kind of thing: his wife Ashley (Starkey) is taking medication for a psychiatric disorder while his rebellious teen daughter Cami (Cobin) is, well, a rebellious teen.
After Chris contacts the local police, headed up by grizzled Chief Dodson (Sheeler), Cami is soon discovered but we realise that Dodson has plenty on his plate right now. Ash is just one of a spate of disappearances while Dodson is at loggerheads with the self-centred and selfish Mayor.
Elsewhere parole officer Greg (Davis), a former-criminal who has turned his life around, deals with a group of ne'er-do-wells on the outskirts of town. Among them is the muscular and intimidating Joe (Liscio), who just happens to be Chris's brother-in-law.
Meanwhile, Chris has to deal with a heap of irate messages from Ashley's sister (and Joe's wife) Natalie (Lozeau). It soon becomes clear that the relationship between Chris and Natalie has grown fraught, for as yet undisclosed reasons.
Finally, out in the woods Ashley comes to, bleeding, with absolutely no idea as to how she ended up there. However she is not alone and her decidedly twitchy companion, Chuck (Hendershot) has two pieces of advice for her: keep quiet and run. Why? Because 'they are out there...'
As a series of soft-focus, black-and-white flashbacks flesh out their backstory, the characters find themselves facing a terrifying threat within the surrounding woods. 
Will Chris reunite with Ashley? Why does Natalie dislike him so intensely? And will Chief Dodson discover the truth behind the disappearances in time to protect the students of the local school from the encroaching menace?

THE BEST BITS (mild spoiler warning): As you can probably tell from reading the above synopsis, The Other Side is an intricately woven tale with a large cast of characters. It's intelligent, though-provoking and, as has become far more common in the zombie genre as of late, it is more about character than spilled entrails.
The story is pretty complex, without ever becoming over-complicated — writer Niespodzianski does a sterling job of juggling each of the separate elements before bringing them together in a suitably satisfying conclusion. The key to this story is the characters. We are presented with a well-rounded, realistic ensemble with clear motivations and arcs — think Lost meets The Walking Dead. The directing really works wonders here, allowing the film to unfold at a deceptively languid pace. While gently ratcheting up the tension with some claustrophobic camerawork juxtaposed with the softer yet ominously foreboding dream-like flashbacks.
The cast is one area in which The Other Side has received plenty of awards, and for good reason. At the heart of the picture we have the family dynamic and lead performances of Conley, Starkey and Cobin alongside Lozeau. Thankfully, they are all superb. Conley in particular has received plenty of praise and it's easy to see why. He is entirely believable as the tortured everyman desperate to protect his family and delivers a performance that is impressively stoic yet also fragile. Astounding work. 
The emotionally lost Ashley is brought to life wonderfully by Starkey. Her character is one that runs the gamut of emotions and she is entirely mesmerising in the role.
The younger Cobin provides a delightfully nuanced performance, ranging from outspoken teen to frightened child. She is most certainly one to look out for in the future.
Lozeau's is a less vulnerable character, providing a fiery toughness in contrast to the more sensitive and sentimental cast around her. The atmosphere between her and Conley is electric and one of the strongest parts of the film.
Of course it would be remiss to discuss the cast without granting praise where it's due to the strong supporting players. Liscio is great as the ass-kicking tough guy, and Davis impresses as heroic Greg. However, arguably the finest performance is the incredible Sheeler. His Chief Dodson is a revelation, tough without being cartoonish, adding pathos without melodrama. I loved his work.
Of course, this is a horror movie and as good as the cast and performances may be, it is the scares that count. I'm delighted to say that, in a genre that has certainly become diluted through overexposure, The Other Side remembers to make its zombies scary. They aren't just a chance to show off some cool decomposition make-up like some other movies are, these are dangerous, frightening and ferocious antagonists. 
A lot of the danger comes from the frenetic and energetic shooting of the attack sequences. This shows that as well as crafting serious brooding drama in the character-building scenes, the team of Mongelli and Niespodzianski can bring it when it comes to the shocks.
However, very few shocks can hit as hard as the very cool twist in the tale. This is a fine ending and one guaranteed to make you want to watch the film all over again. I can certainly think of worse ways to spend your time!

THE WORST BITS: Writing this review is a galling experience because I know exactly what the biggest criticisms of The Other Side will be — and I couldn't disagree with them more. First, several fans of bloodier zombie-fare will find the pace too slow. Yes, the movie does spend a while setting the scene, but how often have I complained about films needing a little more breathing room and taking the time to let us get to know the characters? This move is something that should be applauded, it takes the time to tell an actual story rather than rushing from action set-piece to action set-piece like some shallower and flashier zombie flicks out there (cough, Resident Evil, cough).
Next, there will be some complaints from people saying 'it's a zombie movie, where's all the blood, guts and zombies?'
Sigh. Ok, the zombies aren't onscreen every minute of the film, but when they are, they count. Rather than over-expose the undead they are used sparingly but always to devastating effect. Instead the time is spent getting to know the human characters so when the zombies are onscreen we care a lot more about what they're going to do —or who they're going to kill. This is not a 'fun' zombie flick, this is a story about human desperation in the face of an unspeakable threat.
In fact, I'd argue that the times the film is least effective is when it falls into the trap of using those tropes within the genre that have become cliche. I won't spoil them here, but there are a handful of scenes that you'll have seen time and time again. I understand that certain things are expected in a zombie film but when they pop up in The Other Side they feel a little like they've been included out of obligation. This is a movie that works best when beating its own path.
Also, while I was full of praise for the main actors, some of the supporting cast are decidedly patchy. This is only to be expected in a movie with a cast this size yet with the budgetary constraints The Other Side has. It's all too apparent that some of these actors are very inexperienced, however credit must go to everybody's enthusiasm.
Finally, I felt tonally it had a couple of uneven moments. The scenes with the megalomaniacal Mayor (played by a super-amped Christopher Murphy) were tremendous fun but felt quite over-the-top and out-of-place when compared with the more low-key feel of the rest of the film. Also, there were some nice moments of humour later on (especially with the excellent school security guard played by the charmingly fun Will Guffey), but as much as it pains me to say this, I wish they'd been omitted. This is a film that really should unfold as a pretty massive downer and I'd have preferred things to remain grave throughout. Of course, that's just my opinion.

THE VERDICT: Well, if you zombie fans are looking for a fix, you could do a hell of a lot worse than The Other Side. It's not a movie for splatter fans, but instead it tells an intelligent and emotional story with some well-rounded (and extremely well-played) characters and legitimately menacing undead antagonists. Smart, scary and surprising — this is definitely worth your time.
Be sure to check out the movie's  Facebook page for news on whether it's playing on a big screen near you (and be sure to Like it while you're there). Alternatively, you can buy the film right here.

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.

Thursday, 26 March 2015


How long has it been since a movie starring Hickey's House of Horrors fave Bill Oberst Jr. has popped up here on this blog?
The answer, dear reader, is TOO LONG.
What better place to break the barren spell than with a film that combines the wonderful cosmic horror of one of the finest genre writers of all time, H. P. Lovecraft, with the modern horror staples of found footage and sinister backwoods cults.
This is a combination of ingredients that couldn't possibly disappoint, right?
Read on…


Dir: John Holt
Starring: Austin Madding, Abby Murphy, Josh Cornelius, William Ryan Watson, Wendy Keeling, Alan Walters, Steve Crowley, Bill Oberst Jr., Joshua Mark Robinson

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

Kyle Cole (Madding) is a young man with a traumatic past. Forever in the shadow of his handsome All-American brother Ryan (Watson) as a boy, tragedy struck when an accident horrifically took Ryan's life. After the town's folk of sleepy rural Kaler Mills viewed a leaked videotape  of the incident (made by Kyle who was slacking off when he should have been helping his brother) they blamed him for Ryan's death, making his existence a living hell until his grief-stricken parents (Keeling and Walters) sent him away.
Now a grown man, a filmmaker has tracked Kyle down after the video of Ryan's death has gone viral and has decided to make a documentary about him. The subject? Kyle's return to the town that ostracised him so badly. 
Along with his equally damaged girlfriend Mandy (Murphy), the group head back into Kaler Mills where Kyle is reunited with childhood friend Henry (Cornelius).
However, not all of the locals greet him with open arms and seething Samuel (Robinson) is quick to remind Kyle of the dark bond he has with a secretive cult lead by the enigmatic Jordan (Oberst).
What is the nature of Kyle's relationship with Jordan's clan? Will he ever be able to lay his demons to rest? And what manner of beast stalks the surrounding woodland, howling into the night sky?

THE BEST BITS (mild spoiler warning): I love a good backwoods horror and the decision to combine this subgenre with Lovecraftian horror is inspired. The Dooms Chapel Horror is a movie that drips with a menacing, oppressive atmosphere. Jason Turner's writing is sharp and sinks its hooks into the viewer long before the references to Lovecraft's Old Ones appear.
Yes, this does become a creature feature, but it is the moments of more personal horror that linger in the mind after the end credits have rolled. The video of Ryan's death is truly horrifying, despite the fact that nothing is shown, instead relying on Watson's agonised screams, the reactions of the other actors in the scene and a sudden gout of spilled blood to suggest the gravest of injuries. Likewise, the heart-wrenching tale of the bullying that the juvenile Kyle experienced during a High School football match is likely to haunt audiences even though it is never actually shown.
For at its core, despite the supernatural premise, this is a film in which the focus is on the characters and their plight.
Of course the vital component in bringing characters to life is to ensure that the cast are all on top of their game. In Madding and Murphy we have a pair of leads who absolutely deliver. The inner turmoil that has left both Kyle and Mandy so scarred is palpable, the chemistry  between the actors realistic. Madding is truly wonderful in the role, showing a real range in his performance. I can't wait to see more of him.
Murphy shares most of her screentime with Madding and totally hangs with him, scene for scene. Impressive work.
I was also impressed by the likeable Cornelius. He actually seemed like he could be Henry off camera as well as on, he was so natural in the role. Well done sir!
Among the townsfolk it was Steve Crowley's Sheriff McManus that stood out from the crowd. He was great as the small town guy that is doomed to end up embroiled in something far beyond his comprehension and added some real gravitas to key scenes in the film.
Of course, a lot of the attention in this movie will go towards Oberst's Jordan. I'm an unabashed fan of Oberst and his work here is as sterling as ever. I've conversed with Oberst online and he is a pleasant, witty and articulate chap, but when he is onscreen he really is one seriously creepy fella. His intensity makes Jordan mesmerising and combined with his soft-spoken and almost caring air, he becomes a darkly seductive figure, one that you can easily imagine the lost and broken souls among us would be drawn towards. This is some superb casting and makes me even more intrigued to see his turn as serial killer Manson in the upcoming Charlie Lives.
While Oberst is frightening in a still, seething and otherworldly way, Robinson's work as Jordan's disciple Samuel is the exact opposite, yet every bit as spine-chilling. His character practically bristles with barely restrained, venomous rage. Robinson's unblinking and psychotic stare burns with hatred. This really is a performance to take notice of.
Now, I know what a lot of you creature feature fans are going to be thinking: 'Well, that's all well and good, Hickey, but tell us about the fricking monster!'
The monster, like the moments I mentioned earlier, works so well because a lot of it relies on the power of suggestion. The awesome sound effects of the beast's roar are truly frightening and the fleeting glimpses we do get of the beast (realised through a combination of stop-motion and practical effects) are enough to send shivers down the spine.
This is just one of the tricks that director Holt uses as he weaves a story big on atmosphere and emotion and less on flashbang trickery. As always, the use of first person camerawork puts us in the characters' boots while the odd use of cctv and surveillance footage makes it all feel a little more real while neatly addressing the problem of the unrealistic cameraman who shoots everything when the shit hits the fan.
It is often easy to overlook the directing when a movie is shot as naturally as possible but this is a talent in itself and one to be applauded.
Finally, my description thus far may make it seem that this is a slower, more cerebral horror flick. Rest assured that while this is indeed a deeper, smarter film, it still brings the blood, guts and visceral frights when it matters. The Dooms Chapel Horror takes its time building up to it, but when it reaches the climactic monster rampage sequence in which the true extent of the creature's brutality is shown, it's no holds barred!
This is a hard hitting, bloody scene and, like so many others in this film masterfully presented by Holt and cinematographer James Houk, it completely delivers.
Finally, I loved the Old God's psalm in the movie — that was a superbly creepy ditty!

THE WORST BITS (mild spoiler warning): Okay, I'm going to jump straight into my biggest bugbear here. At several points during the film (mainly during the more exciting and action-oriented moments) we are given some stirring POV shots from characters. This is cool, except I don't remember seeing several of them carrying cameras. It's annoying because it feels like a cheat and could just have easily have been explained away with a throwaway scene or line of dialogue.
Now if you can get past that (and you really should try, there's plenty to dig here) the film does still suffer from plenty of the problems that the Found Footage subgenre contains. A lot of people are burnt out when it comes to 'shaky-cam-in-the-woods' movies so this may have to work a little harder to overcome audience apathy. Personally, I'll watch any kind of movie (provided it's done well) and there are still plenty of great found-footagers out there. This is one of them and manages to avoid a lot of the pitfalls inherent in this type of flick.
Finally, as much as I like the power of suggestion in a movie, it would have been nice to see a little more of the monster. Its scenes are mainly of the blink and you'll miss them variety and the shaky cam nature of those appearances mean that they are pretty damn difficult to work out. It's a shame because it is pretty obvious that a lot of hard work went into the monster shots so it would have been nice to really celebrate them. 
On a similar note, I wish there had been a little more of Jordan, Samuel and the cult in the movie. Of course, I think plenty of films could do with more Bill Oberst Jr.!
Finally, the pace seems to escalate pretty darn quickly towards the end, leading towards a rather abrupt and out of left-field finish to the movie. It feels that given a little more breathing space the ending could have flowed along a little more naturally. It's not a bad ending by any stretch, but I do feel it could have been executed a little better.

THE VERDICT: Part Pumpkinhead, part The Sacrament, part Cloverfield and with all that extra Cthulhu goodness, The Dooms Chapel Horror is a great little movie. It's atmospheric, compelling, creepy as hell and has some wonderful performances. It's not perfect, but it is very, very good indeed. Come for Bill Oberst Jr and monster attacks, stay for a surprisingly poignant character examination of guilt and revenge. I loved this film and I really think a lot of you will too. Plus did I mention Cthulhu?
Check out the official Facebook page for more news on how you can watch the movie. Give it a Like while you're there too, these guys deserve 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, 25 March 2015


I absolutely love indie horror. Outside of the constraints of big studio interference filmmakers are able to reach for the stars and take as big a risk as they like. Formula is discarded, safe options are snubbed — in short, the only restrictions are the imagination of the filmmaker and that whole pesky little budget thing.
By far one of the most batty premises I've come across recently was that of the highly-regarded indie horror/romantic-comedy hybrid Love in the Time of Monsters. With real imagination and roles for two of the very best actors in the genre today (top creature performer Doug Jones and Jason Voorhees himself, Kane Hodder) I was pretty damn excited to sit down with director Matt Jackson's movie.
Would fall in I love with it? Or would this one turn out to be a real beast?
Read on…


Dir: Matt Jackson
Starring: Gena Shaw, Marissa Skell, Paula Rhodes, Jade Carter, Danny Vasquez, Ben Palacios, Hugo Armstrong, Heather Rae Young, Shawn Weatherly, Michael McShane, Doug Jones, Kane Hodder

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

After experiencing tragedy earlier in their lives, sisters feisty Marla (Shaw) and sweet Carla (Skell) have a strong bond. After Carla's fiancée Johnny (Carter) starts work at a cheesy tourist trap resort run by the larger than life Uncle Slavko (McShane), the girls decide to surprise him with a visit. Using their friendship with manager Agatha (Rhodes) to secure a room, the girls soon set about enjoying the entertainment, including kitch dancers Big Kahuna (Palacios) and Brandi (Young). However, unbeknownst to the ladies Johnny and his Bigfoot costumed colleagues lead by tough, no-nonsense Lou (Hodder) have been exposed to a lethal cocktail of toxic waste that has transformed them into animalistic, flesh-eating mindless monsters.
Soon the sisters find themselves fighting for their lives alongside local oddball Chester (Armstrong) and several staff members including Slavko, his wife Marianna (Shaw), Big Kahuna, Brandi, sharp-tongued barman Armando (Vasquez) and the resort's physician Dr Lincoln (Jones). What exactly has caused this startling transformation? Who will survive the savagery of the deranged Bigfoots (Bigfeet)? And can Carla and Johnny's love survive?

THE BEST BITS (mild spoiler warning): Well, Love in the Time of Monsters is one insane movie! The premise gives a perfect excuse for some decidedly and deliberately hokey looking costumes, and the ragtag group of misfits forced to pull together for the common good are excellently written. Perhaps the strongest point of LitToM is the razor sharp script by Michael Skvarla. This is a large cast but each character is given their moment to shine. More importantly, despite the somewhat goofy storyline, it has a massive amount of heart. At its core, this is a story about relationships — the strained but unbreakable bond between Marla and Carla, the idealistic romance between Carla and Johnny, the fiery interaction between Marla and Armando, even the lost love between Chester and Marianna and the awkward triangle this causes with Slavko. 
There are some genuinely moving moments in among the splatter and gags, which really adds to the viewer's emotional investment in the movie. Obviously the jokes rely on performers with the right comic timing and acting chops — and this is a cast that are uniformly superb. 
The female leads Shaw and Skell are excellent. These are two very attractive ladies, sure, but they are also great actresses. Shaw bristles and snaps her way through the film, stealing a lot of her scenes as the more damaged and spiky sister. She has some very funny moments, but underneath them there's a sadness that makes her far more likeable than she should be. It's nuanced and impressive work — I for one cannot wait to see more from her.
Skell's may be the less flashy role, but it carries a significant emotional weight. Given the fact that she shares very little screentime with Carter in which he isn't playing a drooling bestial monster, the work of establishing their relationship falls squarely on Skell. She is more than up to the task and she shows an impressive range as she runs the gamut of emotions. She's all too easy to fall for and is definitely one to watch in the future.
The prolific Rhodes gives an assured and witty performance (as always) and the big surprise for me was the work of the stunning Young. A former Playmate, it's easy to assume that she's just been included for eye-candy but she really nailed her role. I'd like to see her continue to work in the genre as she has serious scream queen potential. Finally veteran Weatherly is wonderful as the torn wife of shady Slavko and does a fine job with her handful of scenes.
Of course, it isn't just the ladies who nail their performances. The hilarious McShane makes Slavko a real must-watch and the OTT cheesiness of Palacios' Big Kahuna brings some big laughs to proceedings. I was also very impressed with the broodingly handsome Vasquez. His character has a clear and defined arc and he makes it work every single step of the way. At times a massive, self-serving jerk he still manages to keep you onside as you find yourself rooting for him to redeem himself. Does he? Well, you'll have to watch the movie!
Of course, the biggest names for horror fans are those of Doug Jones and Kane Hodder. Hodder is excellent, playing a fairly subdued and grounded character as the likeable head of the Sasquatch workers early on in the film. However, it's after he undergoes the chemically-induced metamorphosis into a monster that he really shines. If you've seen any of the movies in which Hodder kicks ass as a hard-as-nails villain you know exactly how imposing he can be and this is role that allows him to display his trademark daunting physicality. Scary stuff indeed!
Jones on the other hand avoids his usual heavy creature make-up and plays a far more straight forward role as the 'handy-for-exposition' Dr Lincoln. Much like Clown, this is a case of the filmmakers making their 'expo-dump' character one who is A) interesting and B) a bloody good actor, which is vital in keeping an audience onside if there are going to be lengthy explanatory monologues. We all know that Jones is an excellent physical actor, but this role just goes to show how well-rounded he is, delivering a likeable and natural performance with a fun, laidback air. He gets to exercise his comic chops and he really is very funny. In fact, he could well be the best thing in the film. Kudos, Mr Jones.
There are plenty of laughs in store but, unlike a lot of horror-comedies, this brings the horror too. Jackson is able to lay down a cracking air of ominous menace and some of the chase and attack sequences are real nailbiters. I was surprised at just how bloody and gory the 'Bigfoot' attacks were — there must be gallons of gore and grue on display. The effects team of Scott Fields and Carrie Hash have done some amazing work here, the gore effects are all fantastic. The effects work doesn't just stretch to gruesome wounds and dripping entrails — the latter stages of the movie include a host of fun creature effects (it's all about the zombie moose!) and a wonderful surprise appearance that I really should have seen coming.
Finally, despite any budgetary constraints from its comparatively low budget, Love in the Time of Monsters actually looks pretty damn good! Credit must go to Jackson and his director of photography Jorge L. Urbina for making the lush woodland look both beautiful and creepy at the same time and for bringing Uncle Slavko's All-American Family Lodge to life so wonderfully.

THE WORST BITS (mild spoiler warning): There is very little to find fault with in Love in the Time of Monsters. Some may find the odd-mix of tones a little off-putting (it does veer from hilarious to very, very bloody and back in the matter of seconds). Personally, I love a movie that keeps me on my toes, but if you don't, this one may throw you.
Also, if you're the sort of person that reads: 'An epic love story with toxic bigfoot zombies' and thinks ‘WTF?’ LitToM may just be a little too out there for you. However, as I said above, the film is so much more than that, much more about the characters than the admittedly iffy circumstances surrounding them, so I would definitely encourage you to try to look beyond the wacky premise. Of course, there's still plenty of toxic zombie bigfoot shenanigans for those of us who dig that stuff, so lovers of camp creature features of yesteryear will still get a kick out of it (and did I mention a zombie moose?)
Speaking of campy creature features, while I dug the hell out of the throwback creature effects, those of you expecting/demanding Jurassic World levels of effects would be better off  skipping this one. Obviously it doesn't have a big studio style budget for its effects work, but in comparison to a lot of indie genre flicks, these are pretty damn good and, most importantly, they totally match the bizarro tone and mood of the movie.
Finally, while I praised Hodder's role in the film I could have done with more of him. He's all kinds of awesome when it comes to scary badass villains, so it's a real shame that he gets so little screen time. Still a little Kane Hodder is better than none, am I right?

THE VERDICT: I'll be honest with you, before I watched Love in the Time of Monsters I thought it would be a bit of fun in the 'so bad, it's good' mould. And, yes, it certainly is fun. What I didn't see coming was just how good it would be. It's got heart, laughs, scares, a fantastic cast, wonderful writing, romance, assured and competent direction AND a zombie moose. Now, I'm not saying this has something for everyone... hang on, that's exactly what I'm saying. Love in the Time of Monsters is a brilliant fun flick and I recommend it wholeheartedly. This is not one to miss!

You can pick up a copy of the movie, either on DVD or as a digital download at the film's official site right here. Be sure to visit the movie's official Facebook page for more news and information. Give them a Like while you're there too!

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.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015


Our friends over in Northern Europe have started to churn out a pretty cool stream of horror flicks in recent years. From the hilariously bloody Dead Snow flicks and slasher throwback Cold Prey to the haunting Let The Right One In, from Evil Dead homage Wither and dark fantasy of Thale to the jaw-dropping Trollhunter, our Scandinavian chums GET IT.
What makes these movies so strong (aside from a wonderfully rich and disturbing folklore from which to draw inspiration) is the decidedly kooky sense of humour inherent in them.
I was pretty damn excited when I first heard about American Burger, a screwball horror comedy that takes the familiar western teens end up in a bad place trope to some interesting places.
After a bit of back and forth with the producers of the movie I found myself sitting down and ready to tuck into American Burger.
Would it tickle the tastebuds? Or is this one bad meat?
Read on…


Dir: Johan Bromander, Bonita Drake
Starring: Fredrik Hiller, Lena Bengston, Benjamin Brook, Ben Thornton, Liam Macdonald, Charlie Petersson, Hanna Nygren, Gabriel Freilich, Madeleine Borg, Aggy Kukawka

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

As part of a cultural school trip a busload of stereotypical students, consisting of nerds (Brook, Thornton, MacDonald and Petersson), jocks (including Quarterback, played by Freilich) and cheerleaders (whose number includes Kukawka, Borg and Nygren) head to the tiny Eastern European nation of Kraketch.
After their teacher (Bengston) takes them off the main road to the factory responsible for producing the delicious titular American Burgers, they meet the bizarre mastermind behind the meat, the Demented Butcher (a wonderful Hiller). The butcher talks to the students and staff before giving a silent cue and sending forth an army of white-clad slaughterhouse workers with one thing on their mind — put more Americans in the burgers!
As the few surviving students flee into the woods, their plight looks hopeless. Who will survive? Is this really the 'Best. Summer. Ever'? And just how many clothes will the hapless Adorable Cheerleader shed on her journey?

THE BEST BITS (mild spoiler warning): Much like Zombeavers, American Burger is a horror-comedy that is legitimately hilarious. Part Porkies-part Hostel, this is a deliciously heady cocktail of blood and belly-laughs. The cliched High School archetypes are well utilised and the dialogue is full of witty gags and quotable soundbites. Credit really must go to the writers (Bromander, Drake and Martin Wrench) for how funny they've made the movie. Visual gags, gross out humour and some of the funniest verbal exchanges I've heard in some time — this flick has it all!
There is no hiding from the fact that they've completely embraced the stereotypical nature of their characters — rather than give the characters actual names in the script or end credits they are instead given succinct descriptions such as Preppy Nerd, Ponytail Cheerleader, Quarterback or even Jock 1. It is not a movie that pretends to be about some deeper, more significant meaning — its sole purpose is to entertain and, by God, it does it in spades.
This is helped by the very attractive, enthusiastic young cast. It would be remiss to not mention how photogenic the cute cheerleaders and buff, athletic jocks are, but there is so much to the cast than that. They all possess impeccable comic timing and are no slouches in the acting department either. I especially liked the work of the brilliant Brook and MacDonald, whose comedy double act is one of the highlights of the film. The pair have a wonderful rapport and with an American Burger sequel on the way, I hope the filmmakers find a way to get these guys back. One of the finest performances in the flick came from fellow Nerd Petersson. As the perpetually pissed-on, unlucky, butt of the joke, he managed to give his character some real personality. He's one to watch for sure. 
Among the ladies the adorable Borg was just that, taking a ditzy character yet making her likeable while leading-lady-in-the-making Kukawka and tough and pretty Nygren prove themselves highly talented actresses too. It's a shame there's not more of Nygren who steals most of her scenes but the legitimately personable and accomplished Kukawka has plenty of great screen moments.
Of course, it's not just the youngsters who account themselves admirably — Bengston is a riot as the teacher who discovers an unexpected talent for kicking arse, but arguably the best performance in the film is the truly fantastic Hiller. Wide-eyed, jittery, a firm aggressive perfectionist and howling emotional wreck all in one, Hiller's Demented Butcher is up there with the very finest characters I've seen in any of the movies I've reviewed here at the House. When Back to Kraketch starts production later this year I have only one request — MORE HILLER. 
Equally fun is the film's soundtrack of very cool and very catchy tunes — I'll be downloading Best. Summer. Ever immediately!
Finally, I want to credit the film's production values — it looks, sounds and feels like a proper movie, missing the rough edges present in a lot of Indie horror flicks. From the beautifully shot lush green forest to the blood-soaked and splattery butcher attacks, Bromander, Drake and cinematographer Ævar Páll Sigurðson create a film as easy on the eyes as it is fun.

THE WORST BITS (mild spoiler warning): One of the big complaints that I've seen levelled at American Burger time and time again, is the accents of the students. This is a film with a large European cast and, for quite a few of them, an American accent is a little beyond their grasp. Personally, I didn't care a jot and found the iffy accents a massive part of the European charm of the flick. However, if this sort of thing is likely to get in the way of enjoying a movie, consider yourself warned.
Some have suggested that the acting is not up to scratch with a couple of the actors — honestly I think the accent acts as a barrier here, the sometimes stilted sounding delivery being misconstrued as poor acting. Honestly, I had no problem with the acting and enjoyed most of the cast a lot.
Personally a couple of gags fell flat, but when there are so many others that are side-splittingly hilarious that really isn't a big deal at all. Suffice it to say there are FAR more hits than misses.
Finally, a few people may be a little disappointed at the lack of horror in this horror-comedy. Honestly, it's far more of a black comedy than a film that combines scares and laughs. It is frightening, but it is painfully funny. I was a little let down by the surprisingly low gore levels in the movie. Considering the subject matter (group of insane Eastern European cannibalistic butchers capture and slaughter people to make in burgers) there is very little in the way of entrails and dismembered, filleted body parts on display. Some stomach churning gore gags could have fit in nicely with the more visceral humour on display. Maybe that's something we'll see more of in Back to Kraketch?

THE VERDICT: American Burger is bloody brilliant. One of the best comedies I've seen in a very long time with a ghoulish frisson of the macabre just to give it a little more spice. When it comes to fun flicks, American Burger really is a whopper! I'd DEFINITELY recommend this movie to you, it has a great cast, it looks fantastic, the soundtrack rocks and , much like the white-clad Kraketch butchers, the laughs are unrelenting.
You can purchase or rent the film right here, so check it out! Also be sure to visit the film's official Facebook page here. Give it a Like while you do, the very talented folks over at LittleBig Productions deserve it!

Also, 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.


A group of teens go camping, then they start to die.
It's not original, but it works, provided the execution is up to scratch.
Before I watched The Woods Within I noticed that it fared pretty damn well in the recent Horror Society Awards (don't check them until after you see the film though, there's a pretty big spoiler!) The HSAs don't tend to nominate turkeys, so I was eagerly looking to seeing what director Brandon Prewitt  had in store for us.
After a quick bit of interaction with Prewitt (who really is an all-around great guy), I received a link to an online screener to the film.
Would it prove a worthy nominee? Or would it be best used as firewood?
Read on…


Dir: Brandon Prewitt
Starring: Tori Ahr, Tyler Riley, Jon Kovach, Courtney Durrough, Joel Liles, Hannah Herdt, Shane Jossart, Clay Orem

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

Teen Nicole (Ahr) is about to graduate and, before she and her friends head off to different colleges, they plan to go on one last camping trip to celebrate. However, much to Nicole’s changrin, her mother tells her that if she wants to go she must take her younger brother Devin (Riley) along with her.
So soon the siblings head off to a lovely rural backdrop, joined for the ride by Nicole’s massive dick of a boyfriend Trent (Kovach), her bitchy blonde friend Brittany (Durrough), jock Colin (Liles), party animal Chad (Jossart) and fun but sensitive Lauren (Herdt). To keep Devin distracted (and more importantly out of her friends' hair), Nicole agrees to bring Devin's punky pal Blake (Orem) along.
Unbeknownst to them, Nicole and Devin’s uncle Randy (portrayed by director Prewitt) was murdered by a masked assailant on the eve of their arrival — and his won’t be the last death at the site…

THE BEST BITS (mild spoiler warning): I regularly use the term 'throwback' when reviewing horror movies. As most fans of the genre will attest, the iconic titles of yesteryear were what made us horror fans to begin with. The Woods Within understands that and looks to emulate the whodunnit style of slasher — one in which a masked assailant offs our cast of pretty young things, but most of the fun comes from trying to guess exactly whose face is under that mask.
It is a combination of simple filmmaking but with just a little more thought and intelligence in the story. In The Woods Within, Prewitt doesn't just understand that, he delivers. The writing gives the plot some compelling twists and turns and manages to avoid many of the cliches and pitfalls of the genre.
Key to this achievement is giving us interesting and realistic characters and the young cast are well up to the task of bringing Prewitt's characters to life. Ahr is a fantastic leading lady who, along with the equally brilliant Herdt (who also worked on the surprisingly accomplished special effects) was the most sympathetic of the characters. Real credit must also go to Kovach who absolutely nailed the dickish side to his character, making him seem a real arsehole. You can't help but hope that somebody shuts him up, which means Kovach did his job impeccably as far as I'm concerned!
On a similar note the gorgeous Burroughs was a blast as catty Brittany. I've a feeling we'll see much more of her in the future.
The two younger boys are also excellent, each having complex and interesting character arcs to portray. For the most part, they hit the spot. Good work fellas!
Perhaps what I enjoyed most about The Woods Within was the realism of it all. These were a group of believable teens falling prey to realistic methods of murder and responding in a suitably panicky but not cartoonish fashion — in a lot of ways it reminded me of the excellent All The Boys Love Mandy Lane. Not just in the teen characters and rural setting, but in the soft, almost dreamlike look of the flick at times. 
Recognising the beauty of the great outdoors, cinematographer Kristian A. Quino ensures that the location work is shot to perfection. Also, the soundtrack was pretty damn cool and definitely added to the picture. In fact that might be the best way to describe this movie — from the twisted plot and Prewitt's assured and confident direction to the talented young cast, The Woods Within is a cool flick.

THE WORST BITS (mild spoiler warning): Earlier I praised the movie's believable characterisation. However, this is a double-edged sword. The teens of The Woods Within are all very realistic, however, most teens are a bit irritating, selfish and generally moody and unpleasant (no offence to any teens out there 😉)
What this means is that the vast majority of the characters in The Woods Within are pretty unlikeable and it's difficult to root for too many of them.
Still, the realism should be applauded and thankfully, as the movie progresses the youngsters actually show another side to their character so that is softened. This is not another Sorority Row (praise the Lord) a film in which I pretty much sided with the killer within two minutes and stuck with him for the rest of the movie.
Speaking of the killer, early in the film there were a couple of clues as to who it might be that I assumed were just a red herring. They weren't. Perhaps more gentle foreshadowing could have kept the mystery a little better. A clever zigzag mid-movie serves to throw the audience, but ultimately this was a twist that didn't exactly shock me.
Speaking of the killer, the character did do one thing that has become a little cliched - the Bond/Scoobydoo villain expo dump monologue explaining the motivation and methods to their nefarious plan. Unfortunately it's a necessary evil, but it does grate a little. This one is delivered brilliantly though, so that certainly helps.
Finally, I know I praised the acting earlier but there was the odd clunky line delivery here and there. It certainly wasn't due to any laziness on the performers' part, instead seeming to come from this young cast's lack of experience. They manage the key scenes pretty well and, for the most part, these rare awkward exchanges didn't adversely affect my enjoyment of the film, so no harm, no foul.

THE VERDICT: Low-budget and pretty simple but well-made and hip as hell, The Woods Within is a great throwback to the dead teens in the woods movies of yesteryear but with some modern sensibilities. The cast are strong, Prewitt's direction superb and the plot dark and twisted enough to make this an easy recommendation. The Woods Within is horror done well — check it out.
Should you want to, you can buy the movie at a very reasonable price right here.
Also why not head over to the film's Facebook page and give it a Like to show some support? You can help Prewitt and the other folks at Studio 605 make their next movie, The Campground, by contributing here.

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.