Saturday, 27 September 2014

Review - All Cheerleaders Die (2013)

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This latest release from Lucky McKee, the man who brought us the fantastic The Woman and the very original May, and co-director Chris Sivertson (The Lost) strays from their more serious tone and delivers us a new take on the slasher movie.

The story centers around Maddy, a high school student, as she attempts to infiltrate the slimy world of cheerleading and jocks at her school.

After a very memorable opening the story flows along at a great pace, never feeling bogged down by itself but avoiding feeling rushed, and the audience is kept interested with some nice plot developments and twists.

The actors do a solid job all around, and in particular the female leads are way above par for this type of production. Caitlin Stasey did a great job as Maddy, and I am definitely looking forward to seeing her develop her career, hopefully in horror. Okay some of the SFX look a little basic, but the movie didn’t have a huge budget and it really doesn’t detract from the film.

We are treated to some of the silliness that is expected of a film from this sub-genre, and of course not all of the decisions the characters take are logical, but the way the film is made is reminiscent of some of the best teen horror of the 90’s, which for me can only be a good thing.

The biggest plus for me is that the directors have imbued a definite feminist slant into the movie, which is something I absolutely love, and something that can be found in Lucky McKee’s other work. In a similar vein to Chastity Bites (also recommended), the directors have taken a familiar concept and updated and revived it, to provide audiences with a fresh angle, and I think making horror, particularly slashers, more empowering to women can only ever be a good thing.

The obligatory teen-horror tropes are there, the pretty cheerleaders, the jocks, making the whole setup feel comfortingly familiar to those of us who are partial to a good slasher. But McKee uses his talents to nicely subvert the traditional ‘pretty girl gets slashed to bits’ thread and provide us with an entertaining watching experience in the company of some female lead characters who seem distinct, more than mere stereotypes. You grow to like them, particularly Maddy, Caitlin Stasey’s character, which is more than can be said for many female characters in slasher movies. Maddy and Leena in particular appear to be rounded characters, with something about them which will hopefully provide strength of character for the next installments of this.

The gore was minimal but well done, and the adding of supernatural elements to a traditional slasher film really worked. Think The Craft meets Friday the 13th but updated for the 21st century and that is what All Cheerleaders Die feels like.

It won’t revolutionise the horror world, and it certainly isn’t ‘serious’ horror, but if you’re looking for a movie to have a laugh with, and one that is a little different from the norm, then you could do far worse than All Cheerleaders Die. Recommended.

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Monday, 22 September 2014

Grimmfest 2014

Grimmfest, one of the North’s finest horror spectaculars, is rapidly approaching, so I put together this little list of my most anticipated films. Alongside a whopping 25 feature films, Grimmfest also screens the best in horror short movies too. After the event I’ll be posting reviews of all the movies, along with the shorts, so keep checking back.

Full details including how to purchase tickets can be found on the Grimmfest site here , and for an IMDB list of all the movies, so you can pile those badboys into your Watchlist, click right here

And without further ado, here are my top picks for my most anticipated features at Grimmfest '14.

This is the big one – my absolute most anticipated screening of Grimmfest ’14 is of the utter masterpiece that is Argento’s Suspiria, with live score by Goblin. So many of my US horror buddies are crazy jealous of this one and I can see why – excitement does not cover it! This will be my first time seeing Argento large-screen and I am buzzing with anticipation! The movie needs no introduction, and as if seeing this glorious work of art accompanied by Goblin were not enough, they are following it up by also performing live to Argento’s cut of Dawn of the Dead. It’s like all my horror dreams have come true at once, be still my horror-loving heart.

Okay so obviously this first one isn't a first watch, but it will be my first time seeing it on the big screen and I am absolutely stoked for it. For me one of the finest horror movies of the 80’s, this is the one that first introduced us to Freddy and I think seeing it big screen with a room full of horror aficionados .

This first feature length film from director Jennifer Kent has been on my radar for a while. Low budget, partly crowd funded and picking up some very handsome reviews from all quarters, I am excited to finally get to see it. I’m a big supporter of women in horror and most of the female-directed efforts I have seen recently have not disappointed – hopefully this supernatural effort will pull in more rave reviews from the Grimmfest crowd. I’ll certainly let you know!

Spanish-language horror is at the top of the horror game for me right now. Los Ojos de Julia, Sleep Tight and Secuestrados are just three of the movies that I recommend over and over because they are quality examples of the merits of this new breed of horror. The House at the End of Time / La Casa Del Fin De Los Tiempos is the first supernatural horror movie to come out of Venezuela and I am itching to see it. The movie takes place in an old house, and we follow the protagonist Dulce as she returns to her family home to confront a years old mystery. Sounds like a recipe for another spine-tinglingly atmospheric piece of horror to me!

I love slasher movies, and have never made a secret of the fact that I enjoy a lot of the movies in the so-called ‘torture porn’ sub-genre, so this new movie from Jessica Cameron should be right up my dead-end alley! The film follows a group of teens who have found internet fame and show us what happens when one of their fans turns deadly. Cameron wrote, produced, directed and starred in Truth or Dare, and it looks like it should be a fun movie, a highlight of Grimmfest’s fringe event celebrating women in horror.
Playing alongside Truth or Dare is the short film ‘She’ from Chelsey Burdon and Mark Vessey. A violent, female-fronted revenge short this is one I have been dying to see since I heard about it. My most anticipated short film of the festival. Both directors are well worth a follow on Twitter too, check them out here: 

I was a huge fan of Richard Bates Jr’s fabulous EXCISION in fact it was one of my films of the year last year, so I am really looking forward to this new movie from him. A great cast list has also upped my interest in this production, and if it turns out to be only half as original, horrifying and captivating as Excision was, then I’ll be happy after this screening. 

Horror comedies always go down well at festivals, there’s something about sitting in a room full of people that somehow makes them even funnier, and this offering from New Zealand looks set to be a real fun watch. The comedic gem at horror fests last year was another from down under, 100 Bloody Acres, and I’m hoping that Housebound carries on that good run of form.

I, along with most, had a great time with the original Dead Snow, and whilst I tend to be a bit cynical of so many releases bringing out a sequel in recent times, I do think that this is a series which has legs. The first was a thoroughly entertaining and gratifyingly blood-soaked experience, and I’m anticipating more of the same blood-on-snow goodness from Red vs. Dead.

Writing this has revved my excitement up to fever pitch for Grimmfest, and I can’t wait to be in Manchester with the rest of the crazy, twisted horror aficionados next week! I have tickets for every single film, a whopping 25 feature films and numerous shorts. It’s a test of my horror stamina, and you can check out my adventures over on my Twitter.
Let me know what you’re looking forward to if you’re going, and if not what you’d choose to see at Grimmfest ’14! You can check out my reviews of everything here when I get back
HQ x