Monday, 22 June 2015


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!


Easily the biggest news of the past seven days — a new Halloween film, entitled Halloween Returns, is coming. It is a direct sequel to the original movies (ignoring Rob Zombie's remake continuity), will de written and directed Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunston, the creative team behind several Saw sequels, the Collector films and Guillermo Del Toro's Pacific Rim, and will feature the return of Deputy Gary Hunt, who is now the sheriff of Haddonfield.
That's a lot to digest, am I right?
Read Bloody Disgusting's stories here, here and here.


Want to know what Malcolm McDowell's villainous Father Murder will look like in Rob Zombie's 31?
THAT's what he'll look like! KInd of a demented panto dame vibe? I'm down with this!


Brian Fuller, the TV guru behind the incredible Hannibal will work with Michael Green to bring Neil Gaiman's superb novel, American Gods, to the small screen. HO-LEE SHIT.
Read the press release below:

#CastingShadow BEGINS!
Bryan Fuller and Michael Green to Serve as Showrunners on the New Scripted Drama Series Based on Neil Gaiman’s Blockbuster Novel
Beverly Hills, Calif. - June 16, 2015 – Starz has given a greenlight to FremantleMedia North America’s (FMNA) adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s acclaimed contemporary fantasy novel American Gods. Bryan Fuller (“Hannibal,” “Pushing Daisies,” “Heroes”) and Michael Green (“The River,” “Kings,” “Heroes”), will pen and showrun the series. Gaiman will also executive produce the series. FremantleMedia North America will produce. Start of production is dependent on casting the lead role of “Shadow Moon.”
Starz CEO Chris Albrecht said, “STARZ is committed to bring American Gods to its legions of fans. With our partners at FremantleMedia and with Bryan, Michael and Neil guiding the project, we hope to create a series that honors the book and does right by the fans, who have been casting it in their minds for years. The search for Shadow begins today!”
Commented Neil Gaiman, "I am thrilled, ‎scared, delighted, nervous and a ball of glorious anticipation. The team that is going to bring the world of American Gods to the screen has been assembled like the master criminals in a caper movie: I'm relieved and confident that my baby is in good hands. Now we finally move to the exciting business that fans have been doing for the last dozen years: casting our Shadow, our Wednesday, our Laura..."
Commented Bryan Fuller and Michael Green, “Almost 15 years ago, Neil Gaiman filled a toy box with gods and magic and we are thrilled to finally crack it open and play. We're grateful to have STARZ above us and FremantleMedia at our backs as we appease the gods, American or otherwise."
Craig Cegielski, Co-CEO, FremantleMedia North America said “’American Gods’ has been the passion project for us at FMNA since Stefanie Berk brought this exceptional piece of literature to the company when she joined two years ago. Chris, Carmi and the entire team at Starz are committed partners, sharing the same creative vision and ambition for this series. Neil’s novel is a brilliant work of art, and together with the talented Bryan Fuller and Michael Green, we are committed to delivering a series that is nothing short of extraordinary.”
The 2001 novel has been translated into over 30 languages and earned numerous accolades including Hugo, Nebula and Bram Stoker Awards for Best Novel. The plot posits a war brewing between old and new gods: the traditional gods of biblical and mythological roots from around the world steadily losing believers to an upstart pantheon of gods reflecting society’s modern love of money, technology, media, celebrity and drugs. Its protagonist, Shadow Moon, is an ex-con who becomes bodyguard and traveling partner to Mr. Wednesday, a conman but in reality one of the older gods, on a cross-country mission to gather his forces in preparation to battle the new deities.
FremantleMedia North America’s Craig Cegielski and Stefanie Berk will executive produce the series along with Bryan Fuller, Michael Green and Neil Gaiman. Senior Vice President of Original Programming Ken Segna will be the Starz executive in charge of “American Gods.” Starz will retain all network pay TV and SVOD rights to the project. FremantleMedia will distribute the series worldwide.

What was the best segment of the first V/H/S
Why, it was David Bruckner's Amateur Night with Lily the creepy 'I like you'-girl, of course! So, I'm pretty intrigued to hear that Chiller will be producing a feature length adaptation of that segment called Siren. Can it sustain that level of tension over a far longer running time? It'll be interesting to see.
Read Aint It Cool's story here.
There are two massive releases this week, both of which you'll be seeing reviewed here at the House VERY, VERY soon.

First, Aussie slasher flick, Charlie's Farm has been getting rave reviews down under. Starring the gigantic Nathan Jones, along with the likes of Tara Reid, Kane Hodder and Bill Moseley, this is a lean mean brutal film.
Buy it at Amazon here.

 Also this week, we get to check out the much-anticipated Digging Up The Marrow. A cool as hell mockumentary from Adam Green (director of Hatchet), this film takes a look at monsters in mythology and what could possibly have inspired these legends and art… 
Buy it at Amazon 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, 19 June 2015


Found footage.

Still here? Good. I don't think there's a sub-genre that has become more maligned in recent years.

Which brings me to Infliction. A movie that markets itself as 'the actual assembled footage taken from the cameras belonging to two brothers, who documented a murder spree in North Carolina in 2011'.


So, is this a killer flick? Or a movie that you inflict on yourself?

Read on…


Dir: Jack Thomas Smith

Starring: Jason Mac, Elliot Armstrong, Ana Shaw, Catherine Trail, Don Henderson Baker, Mahri Shelton, Kimball Ewonus, Darren Kendrick, Gina Travis, Ruthanne Gereghty, Vanessa Ore

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

Brothers John (Mac) and Kenny (Armstrong) work in surveillance, investigating and finding proof of infidelity for suspicious lovers with a host of recording equipment. However, their business is interrupted when they receive a call from their mother (Trail), informing them that their ailing father (Baker) has taken a turn for the worse. 

Rather than seem upset, the more driven and determined John sees this as a spur into action, a prompt to carry out a series of events that the young men have clearly plotted for some time.
After kitting out their car with plenty of cameras to document their road trip, the two set out to return home... but with a few detours.
The first of these sees them accost a judge (Ewonus), taunting him and lambasting him for the way in which he casually exerts a considerable influence over hundreds of lives. Then, in a shocking and bloody moment, we are shown exactly how far the boys are prepared to go with their 'project'. 
And Judge Stevens' name is just the first on their list...
How many victims have the brothers targeted? What links these seemingly unconnected individuals? And what is the dark and disturbing secret at the heart of John and Kenny's motivation?

THE BEST BITS (mild spoiler warning): Perhaps the finest element of Infliction is the mystery at its core. I don't want to spoil that here but it unfolds gradually and slowly reveals a far darker, grimmer series of events than I thought it would. This gritty and horrifying reveal serves to add a degree of satisfaction to the film's climax, plus it adds some much needed perspective to our two lead characters' actions. What's more, the vile and haunting events of the characters' past is more truly horrifying than any number of quasi-supernatural masked boogeymen.
The story, by writer/director Smith, is impressive and surprisingly powerful, with a weighty central theme investigating the impact of one's actions (or perhaps more accurately, inaction) on another.
It feels very much like a statement, a social commentary on the role apathy or the fear of rocking the boat plays in destroying lives. With this movie Smith is encouraging the viewer to realise that what may be easier for you is not necessarily what is best for others, especially those that are most vulnerable and in need of society's protection. It's thought provoking, which in itself is worthy of praise in a genre that is all-too-often prepared to stick to a shallow and simplistic 'blood and boobs' formula.
Of course, a theme and intent aren't necessarily enough to carry a film, it is the execution that matters most. The movie is pretty polished considering its low-budget roots. Smith and his cinematographer Joseph Craig White ensure that visually the production values never drop so that the events onscreen become confusing or difficult to work out, an all too common problem with many found footagers. Each shot is brilliantly and artfully framed and lit, while the editing is smooth and never feels choppy, which can really hinder a movie which claims to tell a true story.
But as well as a stomach churning plotline and some polished film-making, this also features some pretty damn strong performances from its cast.
The leads Armstrong and Mac provide assured, capable work. A lot of the movie hinges on them and they do a good job of keeping us onboard, especially during the emotionally fraught and disturbing final moments.
However, it was the brothers' family that really steal the show. As their sister, Andrea, Shaw really is quite magnificent. It's a complex character and Shaw nails it, making her both sympathetic and repulsive in equal measure. I was unfamiliar with her work prior to watching Infliction, but rest assured I shall be looking out for her in the future.
Trail plays an equally complicated character, a vile enabler whose unwavering loyalty and devotion to her ailing husband would be admirable in other circumstances. She brings a haunted fierceness to the role that is very impressive. 
And where to start with the wonderful Don Henderson Baker? His character is, quite frankly, hideous, his sick dying body an accurate reflection of the rot at his core. It's a rare thing to find a truly hateable villain in a movie, but Baker achieved this with an impressive performance that combines subtle nuances with scene-chewing, sneering dialogue delivery. He's utterly loathsome, in the very best way. 
If there is just one thing in Infliction that makes it worth your time, it is Baker, he really is brilliant.

THE WORST BITS (mild spoiler warning): As I said before, I still enjoy the found footage sub-genre — however, unfortunately, I don't think that it was the best storytelling choice for Infliction.
It's not that it's terribly executed — far from it, I've seen far worse attempts with significantly higher budgets to support them.
No, what hinders Infliction is its poefaced insistence that this is genuine assembled footage from a real-life killing spree. This is pretty much guaranteed to provoke some serious cynicism in the audience and as such it invites the viewer to meticulously dissect the movie, looking for flaws that expose it. It's easy enough to suspend disbelief, right up until somebody tells you to. 
Unfortunately, the film isn't believable enough. The lines feel like movie dialogue, not natural stop-starting speech and the impressive production values and quality of visuals actually serve to remind us that this isn't an amateur effort shot by a pair of violent killers. The steady and assured camerawork is that of an accomplished filmmaker, not an emotionally volatile murderer.
This may seem like a minor nitpick, but in a subgenre that many viewers have become decidedly tired of, unfortunately, a found footage movie has to work a little bit harder to get an audience onside. The immersive benefits that this narrative device offers are plentiful, but alas if it does misfire at all it can actually act as a barrier to enjoying the film. A lot of years have passed since 1999's The Blair Witch Project, audiences are less gullible and found footage has to be hyper-convincing. This may sound strange, but to put it simply, Infliction is too well made. It looks too good, the camerawork feels decidedly planned and well organised, not haphazard enough. Equally the dialogue is too precise, which combined with a couple of awkward deliveries here and there just serve to remind us that these are actors reciting a script, not 'the real acts of real murderers'.
Are you somebody that is sick of found footage or the horror cliche of 'the following is based on true events'? Well, I'm afraid Infliction is not the movie to change your mind.

THE VERDICT: This is a strange one. I really liked Infliction's ballsy plot, it's assured storytelling and strong cast. In fact I only had one problem with the movie — the manner in which the story was told. 
Had the film been told using a traditional set-up and foregone the 'genuine assembled footage' claims, it'd be an easy recommendation. As it stands, I'm still going to recommend it with a small caveat — found footage is not this film's friend and you need to forgive that to truly enjoy it, but underneath it is a very good film indeed.
Check it out and let me know your thoughts, I for one had a good enough time and I can see plenty here that has me eagerly anticipating Smith's next efforts including his cool as hell looking In The Darkwhich I implore you all to lend some support to via its Indiegogo campaign here.
You can buy Infliction here for a very reasonable price, or check out the film's Facebook page for more info. Give it a Like while you're there too, I'm Smith and co would appreciate it.

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, 18 June 2015


The ongoing horror anthology trend seems to be showing no signs of slowing down.
Given a well deserved shot in the arm with the release of the likes of V/H/S and ABCs of Death, it's become a genre staple once again.
I've reviewed my fair share of indie anthologies recently, from the low-fi charms of Voices From The Grave to the flamboyantly theatrical Tales of Poe... and now I've another to add to the list.
A collaboration by a talented group of filmmakers, Volumes of Blood sets all five of its stories of murder, madness and the macabre by five different directors in a library.
So is this a movie to book some time with? Or will you want to turn the volume down?
Read on...


Dir: Jakob Bilinski, Nathan Thomas Milliner, John Kenneth Muir, P.J. Starks and Lee Vervoort
Starring: Jason Crowe, Roni Jonah, Alexandria Hendrick, Garret Smith, Gerrimy Kieffer, Louisa Torres, Jim O'Rear, Todd Reynolds, Jordan Phillips, Elissa Grant, Louisa Torres, Kristine Renee Farley, Kevin Roach, Paige Ward, Grant Niezgodski, Vixen Lucy Lynn/Courtney Eastmon, Kevin Clark, Alex Vanover, Jeff Armstrong

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

A wonderfully Eighties slasher style opening shows bimbo Linda (Lynn/Eastmon) and the tough-talking jock Rod the Bod (Clark) who find themselves stalked by a mysterious masked maniac... however, this turns out to be a movie within a movie, being watched by lovable slacker Loomis (Vanover). Loomis is in a lecture at college and the subject discussed by Mr Roth (Armstrong) turns to urban legends.
After a lecture theatre shock, we join one of Roth's students, Bryan (Kieffer) as he meets three friends, handsome movie enthusiast Reece (Smith); smart and sassy Kaelin (Jonah) and loudmouthed Tyler (Crowe) in the library. The four each decides to create their own urban legend which they plan to circulate. Each then takes turns to tell their own creepy tale...

A LITTLE PICK ME UP — Late at night a female student (Hendrick) is desperately trying to finish a paper. Exhausted, she is surprised when a mysterious man by the name of Lucem Ferre (O'Rear) appears and offers her a free sample of Ka-Pow!, a brand new energy drink produced by his company. At the end of her tether, will the shattered girl accept his offer? And with what consequences?

GHASTLY — As a Librarian (Phillips) closes for the night a strange woman (Grant) hands in an unfamiliar book. After the building empties, the Librarian looks to put the books away before leaving. However, as we slowly come to realise, he isn't as alone as he first believes…

13 AFTER MIDNIGHT — Sidney (Ward) is attempting to finish an assignment in the library but is interrupted by her wacky goofball boyfriend Norman (Niezgodski). Despite his insistence, she tells him that she cannot join him at a party until she's finished her work, but eventually acquiesces to join him later. However, the next thing Sidney knows she's waking up in the abandoned library... and being stalked by a fur-covered beast. As her plight becomes more desperate she realises that she has to fight for her life... or lose it.

ENCYCLOPEDIA SATANICA – Librarian Paige (Farley) is guilt ridden  after the suicide of her ex Derek (Roach). As she talks with her kindly boss Travis (Reynolds), the pair chance upon an eldritch tome, The Encyclopedia Satanica. 
Full of ancient and otherworldly rituals and incantations, Travis soon deduces that this is not one of the library's books. As he flicks through the pages he finds a way to summon the dead, by simply kissing the book and calling their name. He wants to throw the book away, but Paige says she'll put it in lost property and sends him home.
Left alone with just her guilt and memories for company, Paige faces a dark temptation. Can the book really bring Derek back... And at what cost?

THE BEST BITS (mild spoiler warning): A collaboration between five directors for Verite Cinema and the Unscripted Film School, Volumes of Blood feels very much like a collection of high-quality shorts. Each has its own feel and tone, ranging from seriously scary to gruesomely gory via funny frights. Essentially, it's a tasty little horror buffet that offers something for any genre fan's appetite.
Each segment offers its own unique charms. John Kenneth Muir's A Little Pick Me Up, feels the most like an old-fashioned Creepshow or Tales From The Crypt portmanteau segment. The story, by Todd Martin, is punchy and the deadly energy drink hook is pretty damn good. Think a diabolical Limitless with a cool as Hell gore effects conclusion. With a great lead performance from the clearly very talented Hendrick and a creepily charismatic turn from horror stalwart O'Rear, this is a fun little short.
Speaking of gore, there's what seems like a rather random, but incredibly well-executed blood and guts sequence early in the movie. It was only after doing a little research that I discovered this was the conclusion of P.J. Starks' Preylude short, the story of a fifth student that was released to help generate some buzz for VoB. If you're at all interested in watching this awesome short film, you can catch it right here! Check it out!

While these sequences are most certainly all about building to their blood-drenched climaxes, Jakob Bilinski's 13 After Midnight is a Carpenter-like exercise in tension, a suspenseful chase sequence with eye-catching Argento-esque lighting. Written by Martin once again, this features another central pair of great performances from the cute and bookish Ward and legitimately funny Niezgodski. I think it's vital to stress that the character of Norman could have been massively irritating (how often is the 'wacky funny guy' the character you can't wait to see get a chainsaw enema in a horror flick?), so it's a testament to the charming Niezgodski's acting talent that you end up liking him by the time he exits the library. With a zigzag twist in the tale, this is a very strong effort that combines some cool visuals, interesting characters and some clever tension-building.
I've mentioned some fantastic acting talent thus far and arguably the strongest cast is that of Nathan Thomas Milliner's Encyclopedia Satanica. The segment (which is written by Milliner and Martin) feels like it is portrayed as the crown jewel of the anthology, given the prime final slot and a longer runtime. Having seen it, I can totally understand why it is treated as such. The plot is layered, it deals with some wonderfully dark and deep themes and, given a little breathing room in which to tell its story, is a creepy and compelling short. First, let's talk about the solid trio of leads. Putting it simply, Farley is excellent. I wasn't familiar with her work prior to watching Volumes of Blood, but you can be assured that I will be looking out for her from now on. 
As brilliant as Farley is, it was Reynolds who best impressed me. This is an actor with real gravitas, whose delivery was impeccable. In a movie full of great performances, his stands out. Kudos sir!
Finally Roach adds some seriously sinister creepiness to his role. Marvellous work!
Like all the best ghost stories, this segment has a unique and timeless feel, not least due to Farley's quirky costume. With some fine scares (the creepy devil mask stands out as particularly memorable) and a nice pace, plus some cool visuals, this is a barnstormer of a chapter with an excellent conclusion.
Yet, for me, arguably the finest segment of the whole movie was P.J. Stark's black-and-white Ghastly. Largely without dialogue, this is a fine example of cultivating a scare through tension and suspense. The story is simple, and Phillips gives an assured performance, but here it is the camera that does the vast majority of the work. With some nightmarish and decidedly unsettling imagery, combined with some clever framing and editing, this is a genuinely frightening short. One of the characters jokingly mentions Insidious as he dismisses it, and I suppose some comparisons can be drawn between the eerie, black-clad phantoms in each story, but I found it more reminiscent of J-Horror, especially the Ju-On: The Grudge series. For those who don't know, I adore Takashi Shimizu's Grudge movies so this is strong praise indeed. I'd love to see Starks put together a feature-length American J-Horror-style flick (A-Horror?). Fingers crossed!
Speaking of Starks, his work in Lee Vervoort's That's A Wrap section of the movie (it's the wraparound story, see what they did there?) is very nearly show stealing. I'm talking laugh-out-loud hilarious, especially in a scene that smacks of great improv (I shall be saying 'Bring your A-Game, not your Ass Game' for some time after witnessing the side-splitting way in which Starks delivers the line). The finale gives the talent behind the cameras an opportunity to strut their stuff in front of the lens and, for the most part, they handle it admirably in a fun, gory slasher sequence. 
So we've got some smart and cool stories, a uniformly great cast and a versatile mix of genres from torture p0rn to campfire ghost story. What else could I possibly rave about? How about the super-assured direction from all five helmers and D.P. Bonnell's eye-catching, visually striking cinematography!
Despite its pretty small budget, Volumes of Blood looks amazing. These are talented filmmakers with real vision and a determination to make — and love of — great horror movies. I think they did a good job of it too.

THE WORST BITS (mild spoiler warning): While the movie's plan to set all of its stories in the one location is an interesting gimmick (and I'm sure it certainly helped to keep the budget under control), it does come with some drawbacks.
First, while the filmmakers do their best to give each section a very different look (from the black and white of Ghastly to the garish lighting of 13 After Midnight and even the yellow motif of Encylopedia Satanica), unfortunately the rows upon rows of bookshelves become a little repetitive.
Don't get me wrong, it's an atmospheric setting, but it loses a little lustre after some time. 
Sadly this repetitiveness is not helped by the fact that each of the stories starts from one of two set-ups: frazzled student trying to get an assignment finished late at night or lone librarian attempting to close up for the evening. These are good starting points, but I can't help but wonder if there was something else that could have been used? Thankfully the stories do differ significantly once they get going, so there is less repetition than there may first seem and the plotlines and strong casts are more than good enough to overcome any set/location deja vu.
I have been very complimentary towards the acting, however, it wasn't always so polished. There were a few amateurs in the That's A Wrap segment (which is understandable, after all, these are people that usually work on the other side of the lens) and every now and then there was a little wobble with delivery. Luckily these are quite few and far between — and the less experienced performers tend to get less screentime than those who are more accomplished — so there's no real barrier to enjoying the movie.

THE VERDICT: Volumes of Blood is a blast! It's a fantastic example of what an anthology movie can offer — a variety of creepy tales to suit any taste, brought to life by some seriously talented filmmakers and actors. It's clear that the folks over at Verite Cinema are sitting on a wealth of promising directors and I shall watch them over the years ahead with great interest. This is an easy recommendation for any fans of portmanteau tales, or even those who just want to see some up and coming genre talent. Check it out, you won't regret it. 

Now can we please get the rest of Rod and Linda's slasher tale as a feature? Pretty please????

For more information on the movie, head over to Volumes of Blood's official Facebook page. While you're there, you should definitely give it a Like too, these guys deserves it. 

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, 10 June 2015


I recently had the pleasure to watch and review Eduardo Sánchez's Bigfoot movie, Exists. I enjoyed it quite a lot, but one of the things I wrote about the Sasquatch sub-genre was 'Much like the large-footed, furry chap himself, good films about Bigfoot are very rare.'
This is a painful truth, but I'm always looking for one of those scarce examples that does it right.
And that was what led me to Valley of the Sasquatch. It's been pretty well received by critics and, as the one and only Bill Oberst Jr has a role in the flick I'm pretty much contractually obligated to review it, right?
So is this one able to fill those big footprints of the few good 'squatch movies to come before it?
Or is it another part of the pack of ugly beasts that fall short?
Read on...


Dir: John Portanova
Starring: Jason Vail, Miles Joris-Peyrafitte, David Saucedo, D'Angelo Midili, Bill Oberst Jr.

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

The movie opens with grizzled hunter, Bauman (Oberst) roaming through the lush woodland on the trail of something. As he progresses deeper into the forest, he comes across a ransacked camp. However, he is not alone…
Meanwhile, Roger Crew (Vail) and his son Michael (Joris-Peyrafitte) are both still mourning the loss of Roger's wife and Michael's mother. In the aftermath of this bereavement the relationship between the two has become strained, while Roger's drinking and loss of his job have seen them slip into serious financial difficulties. 
With barely a penny to their name the pair are forced to move into Roger's brother-in-law Will's (Midili) cabin in the woods, a ramshackle and basic abode, until Roger is able to get back on his feet financially. As a result of this, Michael's dreams of attending college have been dashed.
The pair lead a fractious existence together until they are joined by Will and Roger's bad-mannered, bad-influence drinking buddy Sergio (Saucedo). The group drink (well, Roger and Sergio do), discuss the big logging plans for the mountain and then stock up for a hunting trip. Sergio proceeds to bully poor Michael mercilessly, but thankfully his protective uncle Will has his back.
The hunting trip proceeds relatively without incident, but the group soon becomes aware that something is tracking them in the woods. Something hostile.
Will the group escape the beast? Can Roger and Michael repair their rift? Or can Will ensure that Michael escapes this dead-end life? And what exactly did happen to Bauman up in the woods?

THE BEST BITS (mild spoiler warning): The indie horror scene is one in which a number of very talented acting talents are currently plying their trade. As I watch and review more films a number of familiar faces pop up time and time again. Valley of the Sasquatch got me onside very early on by including two of my favourites: the consistently great Bill Oberst Jr and fab leading man Jason Vail.
Casting two talents such as these is indicative of the film's focal point: character.
This is a wonderfully written character piece that just so happens to unfold against the backdrop of a Sasquatch attack. The beasts could just as easily be replaced with wolves, zombies, invading soldiers or even a terrible storm — the main drive of this story is the fractured and complex family relationship between Roger and Michael, with Will included as a kind of idealised, guardian angel father figure for Michael and Sergio the irascible devil on Roger's shoulder.
The story by director Portanova is compelling and heartfelt. It gives us reason to care about these characters and actually deals with some pretty weighty themes for a film with a title that would not be too out of place on a Fifties drive-thru B-movie.
As well as decent characterisation, the writing maintains a strong, coherent narrative that is never derailed by the common horror film flaws of idiotic decision making or ignoring its own rules.
The storytelling is helped no end by its very strong cast. Oberst and Vail are excellent as usual and both add a great deal of gravitas to proceedings through their finely crafted performances. They are the sort of actors who elevate a movie just through their presence, and it is always a pleasure to see them both at work.
I especially want to praise Vail's subtle, nuanced performance. He has a very complex role, one which could be utterly unlikeable, but thanks to Vail's work you can't help but root for him. Very impressive.
Speaking of impressive, I was pleasantly surprised by Joris-Peyrafitte. He's not an actor I was familiar with prior to watching VotS and I was a little dubious when I realised that he would be getting more screentime than his more experienced co-stars. These reservations were misguided. He is an immensely talented young man and carries the bulk of the movie's emotional burden admirably. He's sympathetic, likeable, believable and never melodramatic. I hope he sticks with the genre because I really would like to see more of him.
In their supporting roles both Midili and Saucedo range from competent to pretty damn great at times and never let down the team. Midili is a good looking, softly spoken guy who provides another sympathetic character while Saucedo's monstrous Sergio is the kind of dickish a-hole that you can't wait to see get his comeuppance. He TOTALLY gets his character and is clearly having a whale of a time playing the prick we all love to hate. Good work, gentlemen.
Now, if I've made it sound like VotS is all talking, relationships and no Bigfoot, that is not the case. Yes, the richness and depth of the characters adds a lot to the film, but it doesn't forego the things we watch a Sasquatch flick for. There is action (and very well done it is too), a couple of wonderfully executed splatter scenes and, of course, shaggy bellowing beasties. That's right, BEASTIES, plural.
Valley of the Sasquatch is not content to give us a lone bestial forest-dweller but a whole clan of them. What's more, while the vast majority of lower budget Sasquatch movies keep their monsters out of sight, just affording fleeting glimpses here and there in deep darkness to mask their less convincing effects work, VotS is quite rightly proud of its beasts and totally shows them off. The creature effects by Doug Hudson and his crew is very impressive. The creature make-up and costumes are really quite excellent. 
And it's not just the way the Sasquatch look that exudes authenticity. Portanova has clearly studied the reported Bigfoot sightings and ensures that his beasts act accordingly. There's some very nice attention to detail that helps flesh out the creatures and adds to the intrigue of them, making them as enigmatic as their real world counterparts.
This isn't the only area in which the filmmakers are able to elevate their production values and bring this story to life. Portanova shoots the woodland and the cabin well, picking some great angles while director of photography Jeremy Berg really brings out the lush greens and deep earthy tones of the woods. This is a film that looks far better than I had any reason to expect it might.  

THE WORST BITS (mild spoiler warning): There's not too much to pick at here, but there are a couple of things.
First, as horror films go, Valley of the Sasquatch is not the most frightening of experiences out there. There are a couple of not particularly scary jumps and a bit of gore a couple of times but this is not the intense, Headless-style experience that the more hardcore gorehounds may crave. If you prefer your horror movies full of blood and boobs, you may find this one a little sedate for your tastes.
Also, while I praised the 'realistic' enigmatic behaviour of the family of Bigfeet (Bigfoots?) it may seem a little random to some. Their M.O. is decidedly sketchy and their endgame pretty much impossible to discern. This will probably come across as a plothole to some but I like the fact that these creatures remain mysterious and unknowable. It makes them less predictable and more 'wild'.
While the Sasquatch are pretty unpredictable, the same cannot be said of the main plot. Yes, there is the odd twist and turn here but the storyline is rather linear and within just a few moments of watching the film you are pretty much able to guess how it's going to end. It's a familiar journey, albeit a very enjoyable one.
Also, I could have done with more Vail and Oberst! They are all over the posters and publicity for the flick but both are missing for lengthy sections of the film. I know these are two busy guys but it's a real shame they didn't get to spend some significant time together. That truly would have kicked some ass! 
Finally, I think Valley of the Sasquatch may suffer somewhat  from the proximity of its release to Exists. They are two very different films (with very different budgets!) but Exists is the flashier of the two. It has more scares, the whole Found Footage gimmick and a heavyweight name attached to it in Eduardo Sánchez. This isn't to say that VotS is the worse film or inferior in anyway, far from it. I actually think in some areas it surpasses Exists while in others Sánchez's flick has the edge. I just think that casual viewers looking for simpler, more high-intensity shocks will pick Exists. Personally, I'd recommend you pick up both!

THE VERDICT: Valley of the Sasquatch is a pretty cool film. In a genre with more than its fair share of clunkers, this film rises above the crowd thanks to one thing: heart. Not just in the story, which is far more character-driven and well-written than most, but in the work of the film makers themselves. Every single dollar spent on making this movie is stretched to optimum effect, from the committed cast to the fantastic effects work to the wonderfully shot woodlands. If you have even a passing interest in Bigfoot or if you want a decent character-driven genre flick, Valley of the Sasquatch is guaranteed to make you happy. 

If you do decide to check it out, head over to the film's official Facebook page to find out how and where you can see it. Give it 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, 9 June 2015


Some of you may be shocked to hear that I DON'T only watch horror films. No, I'm not going to try to wriggle out and use sci-fi/horror hybrids as a genre either. I have, and continue to watch all sorts.
Guess what? That includes comedy films. And teen movies. And... romcoms.
I've even sort of enjoyed some of them.
But you know what would make teen romcoms better? Demonic teddy bears and funny decapitations.
If only somebody would make that movie...

CLINGER (2015)

Dir: Michael Steves

Starring: Jennifer Laporte, Vincent Martella, Alicia Monet Caldwell, Julie Aks, Shonna Major, Taylor Clift, Paulie Deo Jr., Leah Henley, Jeffrey Bean, Debbie Rochon 

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

Fern (Laporte) is a promising young track athlete in the senior year of High School with a scholarship to MIT all-but in the bag under the often abrasive tutelage of Coach Valeria (Caldwell). Then she meets the delightfully dorky Robert (Martella) and his sweet infatuation wins her over causing young love to blossom.

However, his intense clinginess, as displayed via his constant showering her with gifts, love-letters and even a song written for her (the quirkily catchy Fern's Song), soon stifles her. This is a young lady about to venture out into the world, away from her doting parents Phil (Bean) and Lynette (the always incredible Rochon) and screw-up sister Kelsey (Aks), who's still 'trying to find the right career'... often involving sock puppets.
So, with a heavy-heart, she decides to end her relationship with Robert, however, that night he has planned a big surprise with an elaborate contraption that will spell out yet another message of undying love. In an unlikely (but very funny) series of events the shock of getting dumped causes Robert to stumble into the machine... which promptly decapitates him.
In the aftermath the school goes into mourning, while Fern is supported by her sweet, innocent and always inadvertently VERY crude best friend Moe (Majors), Kelsey and Kelsey's dim and lewd boyfriend Dean (Deo Jr.)
However, there is a twist in the tale — such was Robert's love for Fern that he cannot move on, his ghostly form visible only to her. Consumed by guilt, Fern decides to make another go of things.
However, can the living and the dead exist together? And if not, how will Robert, the titular Clinger, handle another rejection?

THE BEST BITS (mild spoiler warning): Clinger is a surprisingly bittersweet teen comedy with a healthy dose of supernatural horror as the icing on the cake. With plenty of legitimately funny humour and some hefty themes, including a refreshingly honest look at the fate of relationships when they don't grow and change at the same rate as one of the individuals within it, Clinger has plenty of heart. This is undoubtedly helped by its A+ cast. I hadn't seen Laporte or Martella before this movie but I shall certainly be looking out for them from now on. 
Laporte is a fantastic actress, plus she's naturally likeable, an invaluable trait in a lead. There's a lot asked of her in this film and she totally delivers, from romantic lead to kickass heroine, she impresses throughout. Keep an eye on Ms Laporte, I predict we'll be hearing plenty from her in the future.
Martella also has quite the arc, and he is a joy to watch. From sympathetic to seriously creepy, he shows a superb range. He is effortlessly charming, and I could certainly see him becoming a mainstay in comedy (his timing is excellent). Equally hilarious are the immensely talented Aks (who is quite rightly gaining plenty of plaudits for her work here) and Deo, whose dumbly loveable characters are perfectly realised. Walking hard-on Dean is likeable despite his sleaziness, no mean feat, and shows some brilliantly weighted work. Aks's Kelsey could also have veered into irritating, but it's a testament to her acting prowess that she is a character you enjoy seeing onscreen. 
Another riot to watch is the very cute Majors. Her comic timing while delivering some side-splitting double entendres is wonderful. Hers is a great performance, but also a cleverly written character. If a Stifler-like teen jock were to be deliberately making this steady steam of Viz-like gags, it would be far less funny (and endearing) than this take, in which the decidedly crude utterings are robbed of their offensiveness by the 'unknowing' delivery. Yet Moe is not the only well-written character — arguably the biggest scene-stealer here is Caldwell's phenomenal Coach Valeria. Putting it simply, Valeria is a force of nature, an awesome hybrid between Glee's Sue Sylvester and all four Ghostbusters. She's incredible, a strutting, crowing, uptight, cursing ball of bristling abrasive energy. The character has every single one of the best lines in the movie and Caldwell spits them out with relish in an absolutely flawless display of comedy acting. Saying that she is one of my favourite character creations so far this year is a huge understatement. Bravo!
Another wonderful example of the superb writing by Gabi Chennisi, Bubba Fish and Michael Steves is that they recognise the potency of the superb Valeria and give, what at first glance, looks like a comedy side-character a very significant role in the movie when she also becomes the deliverer of exposition. With a great back story (told via a kickass animated sequence, no less!) involving a personal tragedy and a former ghost-hunting career, Valeria is the one to give us all the information we need regarding the types of spirit our characters come across in the movie. What I loved was that so much of this story made it feel like Clinger was a part of a far larger universe — a universe I'd love to see more of. I'd definitely be down for a Valeria: Ghostcatcher prequel. Come on guys!
However, as cool as the ghostly side of things are, the strongest element of the story (and the writing in general) is the way in which it captures that bittersweet period between childhood and finally growing up, when relationships become adult, when the whole world lays before an adolescent. It's an exciting time, a thrilling time, but it's also a time of goodbyes, when you say farewell to places and people that have had a huge role in your life until then.
This mood is present throughout Clinger and it really does help elevate it above other teen horror-comedies. Even the bright, sunny Texas setting (which is pretty different to the vast majority of dark, gloomy horror locations) can't keep that hint of sadness out of the movie.
Speaking of the bright imagery, credit must go to cinematographer Chennisi for how great this film looks. It didn't have the biggest budget by any stretch of the imagination but it looks as polished as any other indie genre flick. The same can be said of the various cool ghostbusting props and the surprisingly gruesome and accomplished effects work. It's obvious that the cast and crew have taken great pride in their work on Clinger — and with good reason too.

THE WORST BITS (mild spoiler warning): There's very little I can find fault with in Clinger. I suppose it is worth stressing that this is not a straight-up horror flick. If you're looking for gore and scares, well, this most definitely falls short.

I shan't bore you all with yet another long diatribe about how great I think Debbie Rochon's work is (the quickest of glances through my back catalogue of reviews will almost certainly turn one up if you really need to read one), but I will say that lead to one of my only disappointments with the film — that Ms Rochon is most certainly under-utilised. She has very little screen time, which is a crying shame, although she does play a key and very memorable role in the climactic race track scene. Still, a little Rochon is better than none at all!
Speaking of the race track climax, I felt the final resolution was a little underwhelming. This may sound like an odd thing to say about a scene involving a gang of amateur ghost hunters with an array of cool spectre-slaying tech battling a gang of assorted undead nemeses on a High School athletics track, but hear me out. Alas, this will require some SPOILERS******** I don't want to out and out ruin the ending here, but it's just that what happens between our two leads falls a little flat, perhaps it was the way in which it was presented? I know it was all about redemption and moving on, but it could, and probably should, have been a scene of high melodrama — instead it comes across as more quietly melancholy. In a way, this is to be applauded as it ties in perfectly with the sadder themes of the movie, so it feels like a natural climax to events. It's just that following a full-on blitz of ghostly action, this quiet moment was lost a little. Of course, this is just my humble opinion, so I'd love to hear from you to see if any other viewers felt the same way. Sound off in the comments below! SPOILERS END******** 

THE VERDICT: I REALLY enjoyed Clinger. It has far more heart than I possibly imagined it could have, a wonderful cast and some truly hilarious laughs. With a strong cast, an even stronger script and a lovely, honest look at young love and changing relationships, if Clinger can find a big enough audience, it is destined to become a cult movie classic. I really hope my review can persuade a few more of you to check it out, because I guarantee you won't regret it.

Oh and in case you were still waiting on that demonic teddy...

For news on how to catch Clinger yourself, head over to the movie's official Facebook page. While you're there, why not give it a Like too? This is a movie that deserves it! 

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.