Wednesday, 1 November 2017


Anybody looking at Universal Studios' continued woes bringing its Dark Universe to fruition could be forgiven for thinking that it is extremely difficult creating an expanded cinematic universe in our beloved horror genre.
But those of you familiar with the work of British indie production company Mycho Entertainment would also know that this is certainly not true. As auteur MJ Dixon has proven since the release of the stellar Slasher House back in 2012, all that is required is a singular vision, careful planning and a whole lot of effort.
Fans of Dixon will be aware that some of the first seeds of the Mychoverse were sewn back in the short-film Thorn, when the titular hulking, masked slasher monster made his first appearance.
Since then Thorn has gone on to steal the show in Slasher House, then expand on his mysterious backstory in the movie's first sequel, 2014's Legacy of Thorn. It was in this film that we learnt the monstrous Thorn re-emerges in the small town of Avondale every leap year on 29th February.
So with four years nearly up, it's time for Dixon's masked maniac to re-emerge — he's back in the soon to be released Mask of Thorn, a prequel to Legacy.
So do Mycho have another micro budget masterpiece on their hands?
Read on...


Dir: MJ Dixon
Stars: Eve Kathryn Oliver, Sophie Bryant, Maria Lee Metherington, Lydia Cashman, Martin W. Payne, Tracey Chatterley, William Marshall, Michael Batty, Eduardo Cupi, George Horn, Clarke Tribe, Atticus Machiavellian

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

Mask of Thorn opens with a superb sequence in Avondale General Hospital in the early Seventies. A mysterious patient, Mina (Metherington) who vanished some time ago, is admitted in a terrible state, desperately holding her newborn daughter close.
As the confused night skeleton shift try to tend to their charges, an unexpected power outage heralds the arrival of a colossal masked man who proceeds to butcher all in his way. Yet, as deadly as he is in his own right, it soon becomes apparent that the monstrous Thorn may not be acting alone.

Flash forward to the mid-Eighties and we meet sweet Bethany (Oliver), who is about to celebrate her sixteenth birthday, despite the reservations of her strict and uptight parents, Derek (Payne) and Joyce (Chatterley). As her parents leave to prepare for Bethany's party, they instruct her that somebody will come to collect her later that evening.
However, they reckoned without the influence of Bethany's bad-girl best friend Olivia (Bryant) and her group of rebellious pals who whisk Bethany away for a surprise party in the now empty high school building.
As the youngsters party, they are blissfully unaware that Thorn is once again stalking the streets of Avondale seeking prey... but he has a dogged adversary of his own.

THE BEST BITS (mild spoiler warning): Regular readers of this blog will know I've got a real soft spot for Mycho's output, even ranking Hollower among my favourite films of 2016 and penning this glowing review for Slasher House II. The feats that Dixon and his crew achieve with such modest budgets are truly bewildering, and I'm delighted to say that Mask of Thorn continues Mycho's run of indie classics.
Needless to say, a familiarity with the previous entries in the Mychoverse will be rewarded (with a couple of familiar, albeit younger, characters making a return)  but perhaps the greatest achievement that Dixon manages is to make this story strong enough to stand on its own two feet. There will be no confused head-scratching from first time Mychoers here.
Dixon's script is intelligent and full of references to classic horror movies, especially the Halloween franchise. I  couldn't help but laugh at fellow critics who came down hard on Mycho's Cleaver as a mere Halloween rip-off. They had clearly missed the point — that the killer clown tale was actually an intelligent and well-intentioned homage to the grandfather (and arguably the very greatest) of slasher flicks. This continues (albeit more subtly) in Mask of Thorn — from the Halloween II-esque hospital opening sequence (which was among my favourites in the movie) right through to the black robed cultists of the later sequels.
However, that's not to say that Mask of Thorn does not deliver in its own right. While the story skips the intricate flashforward/flashback structure of Legacy of Thorn, it's still very intelligent and delivers some superb spooky moments.
The film looks great, and I was genuinely shocked to hear that it cost about half of the budget assigned to Legacy — this is a movie that looks polished far beyond its means, from clever Eighties set aesthetics (and costumes), right down to some shockingly gruesome gore effects. Let us not forget, that despite its more complex mythology, Mask of Thorn is a slasher movie first and foremost, and slashers NEED to deliver a bodycount.
This is certainly on hand in this latest Mychoverse offering, with Thorn rending helpless victims left, right and centre with his trademark over-sized machetes, or his bare hands. There's a sizeable cast of suitable cannon-fodder, which the bad guy makes short work of.
However, there are also plenty of well-rounded characters who give the viewer more than enough to root for.
Of course, a character is only as good as the actor or actress that brings them to life, and Mask of Thorn boasts a quartet of exceptional actresses in key roles. 
Oliver brings a sweet naivety to our heroine Bethany. She's cute, likeable and portrays the character with a vulnerability that is key to gaining audience sympathy. She's certainly one to watch.
So too is the excellent young Bryant, who gives a real nuanced performance as Olivia, capturing her character's tough but loyal qualities brilliantly. Bravo, young miss!
Elsewhere the spiky Cashman (who Mycho fans might recognise from the spine-chilling short, In Tents) plays the baddest of bad girls Julia with plenty of attitude. She's clearly having a ball with her role and so did I! This is a fun character brought to life fantastically through a fun performance.
Finally, the exceptional Metherington is given plenty to do in her role and she is more than up to the task. She is absolutely great, and shows her full range throughout the film.
But it's not just the girls who deliver the goods here, there are some great performances fro  the guys too. I particularly liked Tribe's snarling tough guy act, while the icy buttoned-up work from Payne was also very impressive.
A lot of people seem to think that the role of silent slasher villain doesn't offer much of a challenge, but there are plenty of subtle touches required to make a memorable monster. Just look at how beloved Kane Hodder is with genre fans for his portrayal of archetypal boogeyman Jason Voorhees. These subtleties are not lost on Machiavellian who brings Thorn to life with a barely contained seething rage. He clearly gets how to do horror. 
I've always loved the character design for Thorn, and with his hulking frame, cruelly grinning skull face and otherworldly glowing blue eyes, Thorn looks as badass as ever here.
The final thing I want to single out for praise is the awesome Eighties-style end credit track by HockeyMask Heroes. Bringing to mind power rock anthems such as Dream Warriors by Dokken, He's Back (The Man Behind The Mask) by Alice Cooper or Shocker by The Dudes of Wrath, it's not just a great theme, it's a cool track in its own right. There are a few faux Eighties tracks on the movies soundtrack and, to a child of the Eighties, all are quite excellent. Top work gents!

THE WORST BITS (mild spoiler warning): Mask of Thorn is an exceptional low-budget slasher movie. However, it IS a low-budget slasher movie. Movie accustomed to the glossy production values of Blumhouse's cinematic blockbusters may find the more rough and ready feel of most of Mycho's works a little jarring. This is a great movie, a top-notch slasher, but do please adjust expectations accordingly.
For the most part Mask of Thorn overcomes any budgetary constraints but every now and then there is the odd, very minor lapse.
The same came be said of the cast — while the standouts mentioned above really are quite wonderful, some of the other actors don't quite hit their lofty standards. There are no consistently poor performances, but every now and then some line deliveries feel a little stilted or wooden. Still, this is very much a rare occurrence and certainly does not serve to provide any severe hindrance to enjoyment of the movie.
Finally, while the movie certainly expands on the mythos of Thorn, it still leaves plenty of unanswered questions, and isn't really the origin story that some fans may be expecting. Here's hoping in four years time we'll be seeing Dixon's metal-masked monster return once more — I'd certainly be down with a Birth of Thorn or Cult of Thorn tale!

THE VERDICT: In the past I've said that I'd love to see a studio throw a big budget at MJ Dixon to see what he could do with those sorts of resources. Well now I've changed my mind.
Mask of Thorn is the latest in a long line of exceptional fright flicks from Mycho that show Dixon and co don't need an astronomical budget to deliver. I don't want studio executives getting in Dixon's ear telling him what to do, I want more of this talented director's work on his own terms. I want the much needed follow-up to Cleaver, I want to see Mychoverse: Phase Two featuring Slasher House II's villains, and, most of all, I want to see Red and the Demon settle their long-standing feud once and for all.
In Mask of Thorn we see everything that has made Mycho a genre fan-favourite. It's a throwback slasher with modern attitude, blood and guts with brains, and one of the very finest UK indie horrors in years. Highly, highly recommended.

Mask of Thorn will be released in 2018. Until then, why not keep up with any news over at the film's official Facebook page, which you can find here. Give it a like while you're there too, I'm sure the guys and gals at Mycho 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.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017


The House is a big fan of Jason Vail, loving his turns in Valley of the Sasquatch, CrowhandDollface (AKA Dorchester's Revenge: The Return of Crinoline Head 2), Family Possessions and The Cabin.

Well now the multi-talented Vail is looking to produce, direct and star in an adaptation of Arylias Nova's chilling short story, Anniversary.

And this is where you guys come in!
Vail and Nova have launched a Kickstarter to raise funds for the film and are already halfway to their very modest target. But what they need is one last push to get there, so check it out!

There are number of very cool perks available, including signed DVDs and posters which can be mailed to anywhere in the world (including here in the UK).

So come on guys, let's do this!

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, 13 June 2017




In my last Dark Web feature I wrote about how Creepypasta is fast becoming a recognised sub-genre that, rather than cater to a fervent and enthusiastic minority, is starting to branch out into the mainstream. Since the runaway success of The Walking Dead blew open the doors for horror genre television, television producers have sought a ready supply of recognisable brands of dark fiction.

Comics such as Outcast and Preacher have yielded results, but there is no denying that web publishing is a veritable goldmine for horror stories.

One of the first shows to recognise this fact is the superb Channel Zero.

Having just wrapped up its first critically acclaimed season on Syfy, with a second confirmed for late 2017, the show is the brainchild of gifted author and screenwriter, Nick Antosca.

In 2015 the station announced that it had greenlit two six episode seasons, both of which were to be based on popular creepypastas. The first would focus on Kris Straub’s excellent Candle Cove, a story I covered here back in February.

The second would cover Brian Russell’s equally popular NoEnd House.

‘We love the idea of doing seasons of TV like rich, character-driven horror novels, and for Channel Zero: Candle Cove we’ve expanded this great short story Candle Cove into something really nightmarish and haunting and surreal,’ Antosca and fellow executive producer Max Landis said in a joint statement. ‘We can’t wait to dig in deeper and bring this to life with Syfy and Universal Cable Productions.’

Casting notices followed, an on 20 June this year a Variety exclusive article announced that Paul Schneider and Fiona Shaw would star in the first season.

This was followed by the reveal that Craig William Macneill (director of The Boy) would be behind the camera for all six episodes of the season. This was quite the coup for the show and interest intensified massively.

As the hype machine gathered more momentum, we finally started to learn more about the show’s storyline.

It was revealed that Schneider would play Mike Painter, a child psychologist who returns to his childhood hometown of Iron Hill to investigate the mysterious disappearance of several children back in the 1980s, including his twin brother, Eddie (with child actor Luca Villacis portraying both of the young Painter boys). He has reason to believe that these unsolved crimes could be related to a mysterious and creepy children’s television show, the titular Candle Cove, but his return to the town kickstarts a new and terrifying chain of events. Aided by his reluctant mother, Marla (Shaw) and childhood sweetheart Jessica (Natalie Brown), Mike must solve the mystery before a new generation of children succumb to the evil that devastated his life 30 years ago.

Of course, using a well-known short story for inspiration is one thing — using it well is quite another. What works in literature does not always translate as well to the screen, while stretching a few hundred words to fill six hours of screen time is obviously a huge challenge.
Luckily, it was one in which Macneill, Antosca, Landis and their crew were more than up to the task.
What he did was use the Candle Cove story as a jumping on point for a massively expanded tale which took in a large cast of characters and an even richer mythology.
Yes, Kris Straub’s fictional nightmarish children's show is present and depicted very faithfully indeed, but some of the show’s most chilling creations (such as the deeply disturbing Tooth Child) are brand new, original creations for Antosca’s story.
The show gives Candle Cove’s fans everything they want, but it also gives the viewer new, compelling characters and situations optimised for visual storytelling.
Finally the show debuted on 11 October and, over the following five weeks it told a deeply compelling and legitimately unsettling story that won plenty of fans.

Proving a resounding success with critics (the show boasts a solid 75/100 rating at Metacritic — and a whopping 92% at Rotten Tomatoes) and with much buzz already surrounding a second season which is still quite a wait away, Channel Zero proves what Creepypasta fans have known for years — the next wave of classic horror fiction is already here, just waiting to be discovered in the darkest recesses of the internet.

Of course, the show would never have proven such a triumph in the hands of a less talented show-runner, and it is for precisely this reason that we all owe Nick Antosca a debt of gratitude.

So what is next for Nick and his groundbreaking creation? Well, I was fortunate enough to be able to speak with him about Channel Zero and it gives me tremendous pleasure to present our interview below.

HICKEY’S HOUSE OF HORRORS: Hi Nick, and thank you so much for agreeing to speak to Hickey’s House of Horrors about Channel Zero.

First, why creepypasta? Translating bite-sized literature into serialised visual media isn't the most obvious of steps, so what inspired you to do so?

NICK ANTOSCA: Great ideas can come from anywhere. Candle Cove was such an exciting story to adapt, and I just thought why not do more? I love that the best of these stories are a strong, terrifying concept that you can build on. They leave room for creativity.

HHoH: Why do you think Creepypasta has resonated so well with the fandom?

NA: There's something about the "true story" quality of the best ones. Great creepypasta stories tend to capture a feeling of familiarity. You feel like they're describing something that happened to a friend of yours one time.

HHoH: How did it feel to see the tremendous reception that Channel Zero received from critics and viewers alike? Why do you think it was so well-received by audiences?

NA: You don't necessarily get a lot of chances to make a TV show, so I feel like if you get to do it, make sure it's something you'd want to do watch and that you'll be proud of later. Craig and I were really just trying to make the kind of horror we wanted to watch. So it was really gratifying that viewers and critics seemed to respond to it.

HHoH: The choices of creepypasta of the first two seasons of the show suggest that the Channel Zero team are fans of the genre. It would have been easy to adapt more well-known and ‘trendy’ stories such as Slenderman, Jeff the Killer or the Rake, but instead with Candle Cove and NoEnd House, you've picked stories with serious fan cred. Are you guys pasta fans? If so, what are some of your favourites?

NA: Of course we're fans! Some other favorites (and this does not mean we'll necessarily adapt any of these if we get another season, just that I personally like these stories) are Goatman, Search and Rescue Woods (aka "the staircase one"), Abandoned by Disney, Ted the Caver, and Psychosis.

HHoH: Why did you pick Candle Cove? And why NoEnd House?

NA: Those two stories are perfect examples of the kind of story we want to adapt — distinctive, iconic concepts that we can build worlds around. A mysterious kids' TV show. A sinister horror house. Plus a great sense of atmosphere and dread.

HHoH: What challenges came with adapting such well-loved stories?

NA: It was important to preserve the sense of eerie dread that's baked into the stories. We wanted to build worlds and mythologies out of these very short stories, but we had to make sure the spirit of the originals didn't get lost. It's easy to do jump scares but it's harder to create six hours of slow-building nightmare.

HHoH: One of the first season's biggest strengths was the manner in which you faithfully adapted a relatively small-scale story but built on this mythos to tell a bigger, yet more personal story. Is this the route you plan to go with subsequent seasons, taking a strong core premise and giving it your own unique spin?

NA: Yes, that's a good way of putting it. That's pretty much exactly what I hope to do. Each season will have a different visual style and cinematic voice, though.

HHoH: I was fortunate enough to interview Kris Straub last year and he was very excited about your vision for Candle Cove. What was it like working with him? And how were things with NoEnd House's Brian Russell?

NA: I love Kris's story and I'm really glad he's into the show. I sent him the pilot script to approve before we got greenlit and we kept in touch throughout, but the actual writing process was pretty separate. Brian is actually working on The Exorcist on Fox right now, so we had lunch early in the NEH process and he's read the first couple scripts. Both writers are awesome and I'm grateful to them for letting us create elaborate fanfiction based on their stories.

HHoH: Channel Zero has assembled a tremendous cast for both seasons. How important was it to find the right actors rather than 'flavour of the month' names? Can we expect to see you work with any of the season one cast again?

NA: I can't overstate the importance. Cast distinguishes something like this.One of the advantages of being kind of an under-the-radar, low-profile show when we were in production is that we were able to go after actors based purely on talent, rather than the casting department's idea of a "get" or someone with a big social media following.

HHoH: While I understand that from a contract standpoint it's very difficult to discuss future plans for Channel Zero, do you feel at liberty to tell us any more about plans you might have for the show? Are there any stories you'd be keen to cover in future seasons?

NA: I know what story I want to do if we get a third season. I can't say what it is yet, though.

HHoH: And finally, something a little more fun here, I've seen some wonderful examples of fan art on the web (including some awesome Toothchild images). Are there any pieces of art that have impressed you or the Channel Zero cast and crew?

NA: Fan art? Yeah, I'm impressed whenever anyone creates Channel Zero fan art, for sure. I like everything I've seen!

If you want to find out more about Nick, Channel Zero and his other upcoming projects, be sure to follow him over at twitter: @NickAntosca

With touted movie adaptations of multiple Creepypasta properties, plus the second season of Channel Zero on the way, now, more than ever, is an exciting time to be a creepypasta fan.

Come back next time when I’ll sit down to talk to another of the genre’s most prestigious, recognised and lauded authors over his substantial body of work within the community.

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, 31 May 2017


Longterm readers of Hickey's House of Horrors may well remember my coverage of Brit chiller, The Cutting Room, back in May 2015. I imagine quite of few of you will in fact, as that review is my second most popular post here of all time!

So when the talented director of that film, Warren Dudley, asked if I'd like to take a look at his latest movie, Cage, which reunited him with Cutting Room star Lucy-Jane Quinlan, I was very quick to agree!  

More of a psychological thriller than an out-and-out horror flick, would Cage build on the tremendous potential on display in The Cutting Room? Or would it leave me wanting to Dudley behind bars?

Read on...

CAGE (2017)

Dir: Warren Dudley
Stars: Lucy-Jane Quinlan, Patrick Bergin, Jake Unsworth, Sharon Drain, Andy Costello

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

Gracie (Quinlan) is a down on her luck mother, desperate to regain custody of her child. With little in the way of income, Gracie has taken a job on a chat line to raise funds.  
While this pays the bills, it isn't enough to help in her legal battle.
All seems lost, until one of her clients (Bergin) offers to pay her handsomely for a special, 'one-night only' personal visit. At her wits' end, Gracie reluctantly travels to the meeting point... only to later wake up trapped in a cage in a large industrial building. With only her phone for company (albeit with the warning that any attempt to notify the authorities to her predicament will result in severe punishment), Gracie is chained and incarcerated, without a clue as to location.
As her mother (Drain) and worried boyfriend Eddy (Unsworth) try to work out where she is, Gracie finds herself at the mercy of the whims of her abductor...

THE BEST BITS (mild spoiler warning): With just a single character onscreen, in what is essentially a single setting, Cage is a daring film. With what could be perceived as 'limited' scope, it would be very easy for an audience to lose patience and for attentions to drift if the film were to falter or stumble.
Thankfully, Dudley is more than up to the task. His story unfolds slowly and steadily, carefully deep-feeding the audience with its reveals and taking its time. That's not to say that it is dull, instead each revelation is given proper time to breathe and for the audience to process and feel its impact.
There are quiet moments in the film that have such emotional weight they hit far harder than any flashy big budget action sequences. I'll try to avoid spoiling them here (doing so really would rob the viewer of a lot of the enjoyment to be taken from the movie), but suffice to say one major reveal that was cleverly foreshadowed throughout the preceding scenes hits with a real gut-punch.
Of course, this story more than any other is VERY heavily reliant on its star delivering the goods. As the only face we see, Quinlan is asked to shoulder a massive responsibility to provide a compelling performance.
In my review of The Cutting Room, I wrote: She is quite the talent, handling some charged and challenging scenes with aplomb. She is definitely one to watch!
It seems that my words have been proven right. Quinlan is excellent in Cage, giving her character a natural likability and emoting impressively throughout the heavier scenes — no easy task when you remember that she has no other actor to hand with whom to bounce her performance off. She gives Gracie a flawed vulnerability, imbuing her with the quiet desperation that is so important to understanding some of the decidedly reckless acts she commits, and more importantly, she does a great job of getting the viewer to actually care what happens to her.
What's more, she even manages a pretty damn good American accent throughout the film too!
The voice talent also delivers the goods admirably, especially Drain's increasingly frantic mother and the cold, calculating kidnapper voiced by recognisable Hollywood talent, Bergin.
Drain provides emotional stimulus for Gracie's character, adding a more sympathetic, human counterpart for our lead to interact with. Voice acting is difficult to get right, often sounding somewhat stilted, but that's no problem here.
The impressive Unsworth is also very good, and gets the opportunity to deliver quite a range of emotions, a task with which he is more than up to the job.
Back to Bergin, we are given the villain of our movie, a character who is mysterious and clearly unhinged, even if he is able to remain deceptively calm and even charming. Exactly what this man's motives are is one of the puzzles of Dudley's clever puzzle box of a script, and Bergin is able to carry that across in subtle intonation and flawless timing. This is a talented, experienced actor and he shows that in spades with such simple but exceptionally smart delivery.
This focus on dialogue may make it sound like Cage is a static or listless visual spectacle. I'm pleased to say this is not the case.
Clever editing and camerawork ensure that the movie never feels stagnant, keeping the viewer's attention pinned to the screen. Dudley proved an accomplished filmmaker with The Cutting Room, but he was aided somewhat by the Found Footage style of that movie, a device that restricts ambition for the sake of authenticity. He has no such constraints here and, I'm very pleased to say, he more than matches the potential hinted at with his previous effort. Once again, Warren Dudley proves to be a director to watch out for.

THE WORST BITS (mild spoiler warning): Perhaps the most important point to stress is that Cage is very much a psychological thriller, not an out-and-out horror movie, per se. If you're expecting a substantial bodycount and gallons of gore, this slower, more intimate and personal story may not be for you.
Of course, one of the issues of any movie that presents you with a hypothetical conundrum (a 'what-if-that-happened-to-me?' scenario) is that it encourages you to put yourself in the lead's shoes and to formulate your own escape plan. It also encourages you to forensically nitpick that same lead's own efforts to free herself and, in Cage, there are a couple of moments when Gracie's behaviour may extract some weary sighs and eye-rolls. Very early on she starts to work her way through the potential padlock combinations on the chain that keeps her bound to the bed, but this is something she then regularly abandons, before coming back to it intermittently. As pretty much the ONLY way she could hope to free herself, this does beggar belief somewhat. I suppose this can be written away by the fact that Gracie, a woman who is already unravelling under the pressures and stresses of her life, is not thinking clearly. She has been abducted and has a number of fears relating to events on the outside of the cage, so perhaps she is struggling with rational thought? It's a strong enough reason to explain some of her less intelligent decisions, so perhaps we should just roll with that.
Furthermore, the titular cage itself is not as sturdy a structure as I imagine was envisioned during the writing of the movie. Sure, it's a decent size, but the bars do appear pretty breakable. Perhaps this is just a result of budget constraints, and I do need to remember that young Ms Quinlan is certainly not a 6ft 3, 15-stone lump like this humble reviewer, so she'd certainly struggle more to escape!
Back to those budget constraints. It's worth mentioning that Cage is clearly a lower budget movie than some of the big, shiny crowd-pleasers you're going to see at your local cinema. Dudley has very cleverly stretched his budget as far as it will go, utilising a stripped back cast and set to mask any shortfalls, but if you're more used to the likes of Jason Blumhouse's shiny horror flicks or glossy Hollywood thrillers, you may need to lower your expectations somewhat.

THE VERDICT: Cage is not a flawless thriller, but it is a very, very good one. Some minor grumbles aside, the intelligent plotting, skilled direction and a stand-out performance from a talented young lead make it a movie that is more than worth your time. 
Perhaps the biggest compliment I can give Cage is that it actually managed to raise the already high levels of esteem with which I already regarded its director and its star. I do hope these two continue to collaborate, because I cannot wait to see what they do next!

Cage is available to buy on DVD at Amazon here.
You can check out the movie's official Facebook page 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.

Sunday, 7 May 2017



There are a number of sites online that have become breeding grounds for Creepypasta.
As well as the obvious (, the creepypasta wikia), there are some others that are regularly responsible for some of the most famous online horrors, such as the nosleep and creepypasta subreddits.
Another of these — one which offers the fantastic opportunity to incorporate detailed visuals into the storyteller’s products — is DeviantArt.
There has been a real surge in the creation of original characters (referred to as OCs by the pasta community), with plenty of users trying to create the next web horror icon.
With literally hundred of fascinating monsters to choose from, this is an area that I’m sure I will return to again and again, but for now, I’m going to look at a character (and a story), that best encapsulates the good and the bad of DeviantArt fandom, Kristantyl’s Jason the Toy Maker.

The first image of Jason appeared on Kristantyl’s DeviantArt page back on 11 November 2014. Several other images of the striking Jason followed. Jason boasts a visually arresting design, with a decidedly Japanese/anime feel. Jason’s stylish and intimidating look quite closely resembles the sort of character that might play a boss role in one of SNK’s Fatal Fury, Art of Fighting or King of Fighters series of games.
Kristantyl’s art is, putting it mildly, pretty damn brilliant and with each subsequent image she honed the feel of the character, plus added supporting characters, such as Jason’s toy sidekicks Liquirizia (a wind-up toy mouse that acts as Jason’s spy), Red Mouse (a dangerous weapon, an explosive wind-up mouse) and Mr Glutton (a gigantic stuffed toy snake).
Of course, these characters all suggest a far deeper backstory, one which Kristantyl herself told over at her DeviantArt journal. You can read the story over at Melindiaden’s page here.

It’s a fascinating and very well told story. The first thing to remember is that Kristantyl’s first language is NOT English, so it’s unfair to blame any clunkiness in the translation on her. Instead it is better to focus on the eerie, dream-like feel the story conjures up.
The story follows a young adopted girl named Maggie and the curious phobia she feels towards her toys. Haunted by dreams with a mysterious and possessive entity, Maggie along with her close friend Daisy, comes to realise that her life has been inextricably bound to that of a mysterious and otherworldly entity — Jason.
And Jason is not prepared to share her with anybody…

I’ve spoken before about how the subversion of the innocence of childhood is an effective and powerful horror tool. By bringing back the irrational fears we felt during our most vulnerable period, childhood horror is deeply disturbing. It is precisely this warping of the familiar and comforting memories of our youth into the terrors we all felt as children that explains the tremendous success of Disneypastas such as Abandoned By Disney and Suicide Mouse, as well as Lost Episodes such as Dead Bart, Squidward’s Suicide and even Candle Cove.

Like these Pastas before it, Jason soon became a very popular creation among the community… sadly, a little TOO popular. With his pretty-boy good-looks, Jason soon acquired more than his fair share of obsessive fan girls. Much like the Jeff the Killer fans who took their idol a little too seriously, they soon became aggressive towards anybody they felt misrepresented the character — including Jason’s own creator, Kristantyl. Fed up with the abuse from overzealous fans, and a little sickened by the slow metamorphosis of her creation from horror icon to teen pin-up, earlier this year Kristantyl removed all Jason related art from her profile and posted an announcement.

She wrote that, since the disrespectful ‘fans’ of the character had caused her significant harassment and distress, she was taking a break from creating Jason-related art, instead entrusting the character to her good friends and fellow DeviantArt users Euphobea/Mayheem and Jesterca/Discordea for the foreseeable future.

Of course, just because Kristantyl is no longer producing character art for her creation, that doesn’t mean that he’s fallen off the face of the earth. Creepypasta fans are still producing plenty of art (especially over at DeviantArt), including the now ubiquitous Mr Creepypasta reading (albeit a somewhat edited version), which he posted to his channel on 15 August 2015.
Jason the Toy Maker even has his own official Facebook page, and an official page where fans can get the diabolical Jason to answer their questions. Furthermore more there are multiple unofficial sites, such as this blog over on Tumblr.

However, none of these works, official or otherwise, could have existed without that initial image and story from Kristantyl, and it’s a real shame that she is currently no longer working on the character. Yet be that as it may, Kristantyl was kind enough to speak to UK Horror Scene about her creation.
Our interview follows below.

HICKEY'S HOUSE OF HORRORS: The most obvious first — In your own words, tell us a little about Jason the Toy Maker?
KRISTANTYL: Jason Meyer is a toymaker who hides his true face behind the mask of the good guy. He deceives people with this, thereby earning the trust and affection of his chosen one.
What makes him different from others is that he doesn’t kill for fun.
Over time Jason makes the existence (of his victims) more oppressive.
He wants total control over everything and leads the individual to isolate himself slowly from the rest of the world.
If there are people who ruin his plans it’s not a problem, Jason kills them without the chosen one knowing it. He can get rid of the parents without feeling any remorse.
If you behave badly and you're not a good friend, Jason will fix you and turn you into a beautiful wax doll.
The old wax dolls, after a long time, end up inside Mr.Glutton’s mouth.
He is driven by his selfishness and every bad feeling that lurks in all of us.
Jason reflects what we are inside, what we feel when we suffer, or when we are angry.
He isn’t immortal, his weakness is a music box that he hides inside himself and, in contrast to what people think, Jason is a human being.
I could create a ghost or another supernatural creature, but I think the only really scary monster on this earth is the human being.
Everything that builds can take life. Something gave him his extraordinary ability to be a toy maker, but a beautiful dream can turn into a nightmare at any moment.
HHoH: What was your inspiration for the character?
K: I’m often inspired by my thoughts that later lead me to create a character. I spend my days drawing drafts, choosing the name and designing the personality.
Sometimes I create the characters for satisfying my desires or to make them intended to have a story, like Jason.
With him, however, it was completely different because I had not only to create the design but also a story.
When I was a child I loved my puppets but at the same time I was scared of them. I believed that they were alive and that stared at me with their eyes. I remember I was spying outside my room’s ajar door trying to see them while they were moving but, of course, I failed.
The toys changing their appearance depending on the identity of Jason, becoming horrible, creepy and seeing everything, are based on my childhood’s memory.
This is my favourite feature for the toymaker.
HHoH: Which idea came to you first, the image or the story?
K: This question is difficult to answer because it's been a long time. I think the first thing that came to my mind was the image of this character.
Jason has made many transformations because, in the vast world of creepypasta characters, I was looking for a role that had not already been taken.
At first I imagined this ventriloquist in search of the perfect puppet, but not having enough inspiration for the story, I decided to choose the Toy maker.
HHoH: Are you a fan of Creepypasta? If so, what is your favourite Creepypasta by a creator other than yourself?
K: I really read many Creepypasta and I met a lot of characters but no one has been able to impress me as much as The Puppeteer by BleedingHeartworks! The sound of broken bones and their abnormal movements always bothered me.
I believe that at least one Creepypasta character in your life can touch your weakness just as The Puppeteer did to me.
HHoH: Which writers, horror or otherwise, do you consider yourself a fan of?
K: I'm not really a fan, but I like reading Stephen King’s books. The last one I bought it’s titled Black House but I'm already planning to buy IT.
Also, since we are talking about this topic, I really loved the book by Stefano Pastor, ‘Il Giocattolaio’ (The toy maker). He is an Italian writer who, in this book, was able to keep me glued to the pages filled with suspense and horror. Wonderful book.
HHoH: What work of your own are you most proud of?
K: I'm never proud of my works. I can be satisfied, but I use this word very rarely for my works. I think it is never enough, I have to give my best and I’m never satisfied.
I'm the worst critic of myself.

HHoH: The fans are very passionate about the character. Are there any examples of fan art, such as images, films or readings, in particular that have impressed you?
K: Every time I am amazed that Jason fans create something and spend their precious time just to pay tribute. Cosplay, video tributes etc. I see it all. I don’t have a preference, each gift has the same value and ends in my folder dedicated to the gifts for him.
HHoH: Earlier this year you made an announcement in which you handed over ownership of the character to fellow DeviantArt users Euphobea and Jesterca, citing a part of the fanbase as the cause. Would you care to explain what happened?
K: Before I answer this question I would like to point out one important thing: I didn’t transfer the ownership of my character to Euphobea and Jesterca. I’ve just entrusted Jason to them, but I am still the owner.
Meanwhile Jason started to become well-known and this caught reader attention in some naughty children. I witnessed many things: the insults, the meaningless comparisons and many other things but then my patience ran out.
I think everyone agrees with me that it is quite EMBARRASSING and STUPID offending someone over a fictional character.
I spent too much time on this story and I didn’t realize that I was losing sight of my true goals. I'm sorry, but Jason is not my project and for this reason, I had to make a choice.
I couldn’t keep up with the fans and the haters, I am no longer a 15-year-old girl with so much free time. Right now I have priorities.
I want to publish the story of my comic and I can’t do it if I continue to waste my time.
This decision was very difficult, but it was also the right one.
The haters weren’t important. What bothered me the most were the fanfictions written by people who had no respect for Jason or for me.
Some stories made me angry, because they were ruining the toymaker by turning him into a heartthrob or into a gay who likes orgies. Roleplaying is worse!
I have said it many times that Jason was born to be only a creepypasta character and that his role had already been established, but it was useless.
I don’t want to tell people what to write, but I ask just for a little respect and less arrogance. These people have no idea that by doing these things the real Jason's intentions are misunderstood and that later I have to pay the consequences with the insults.
Someone admires Jason’s false beauty, just like a perfect prince, but all of this is wrong. Jason is horrible, he is a sadistic, selfish monster.
I've seen everything.
After the decision to entrust Jason, I have been insulted by some "fans" who have called me ‘bastard’ and I want to repeat once again how all of this is ridiculous for someone who doesn’t exist.
I don’t live for Jason and I don’t live for others. I live for my own life and for my own dreams!
I want to say that Jason gave me a lot of satisfaction and he will continue to do it, but he's not my real project. He is only a hobby.
Jason is a proof that anyone can get to where I did and may even go further.
The haters instead can just grumble. :)
HHoH: Your artwork is incredible. Where did you learn to create such evocative images? How do you get inspiration for the creative process?
K: I've always drawn because I like it. I never stopped and this has almost become my job.
I haven’t been able to attend an art school because my parents never supported my abilities, this is something I will never forget for the suffering it has caused me ... but it didn’t stop me.
The inspiration is subjective, I can’t give a precise answer. What I can tell you is based on my point of view, as I said earlier, and my inspiration comes from my thoughts or the feelings.
HHoH: Will you ever return to the story of Jason in the future? And what else can your fans look forward to from you in the days ahead?
K: Of course I will! I'm writing Jason's origin story lately because there are many things to tell and probably I will do other things with him.
HHoH: Finally, is there anywhere I should send my readers to see/read more about Jason?
K: The fans can follow Jason at his official Facebook page or on DeviantArt into the profile of my dear friend Mayheem.

As sad as it is that the popularity of Jason has caused his creator anguish, much like both Mr Angrydog and PastaStalker64’s versions of Jane the Killer, there is a silver-lining to this creepypasta cloud. Pasta IS becoming more and more popular.
Sure, some fans may resent the fact that the artform they love is becoming more mainstream and accessible to the masses (as is often the case with indie music or film-making), but what this means is that creators of Creepypasta are given more exposure, more support and, dare I say it, even a financial incentive to continue to create the best possible web horror stories they can.

Nowhere is this more apparent than with the very special, very exciting exclusive interview I have lined up for you all next week...