Thursday 27 October 2022

Festive horror-chiller NUTCRACKER MASSACRE - On Digital this December

It’s Berginning to look a lot like Christmas, as Hollywood star Patrick Bergin (Patriot Games) stars in NUTCRACKER MASSACRE, a wonderfully entertaining horror shocker about a giant nutcracker solider that comes to life and goes on a murderous rampage.

NUTCRACKER MASSACRE is the perfect Christmas treat - for horror fans who like their films bloody and frightening. Packed with scares, gory kills - including one wince-inducing scene that’ll put you off midnight snacking for life - and enough laughs to keep you from spending the whole time hiding behind the sofa, the film also introduces a new genre monster to audiences - the Nutcracker, a seven foot murderous wooden Prussian soldier, that you wouldn’t want anywhere near your Christmas tree. Traditionally, soldier-shaped nutcrackers are supposed to ward evil spirits away from your home, not invite them in!

From the producers of cult chillers Fox Trap and The House on Elm Lake, and directed by Rebecca Matthews (Cam Girls, Cannibal Troll), the film is a no-nonsense scare machine that recalls the chills and thrills of the hugely successful Puppermaster movies. So forget chainsaws, nail guns, and slumber parties - NUTCRACKER MASSACRE is where it’s at for horror fans this Christmas.

SYNOPSIS:  Clara, a struggling, young romance novelist, receives an invitation from her beloved aunt to spend Christmas holidays with her. When she arrives at the secluded countryside cottage, sees that her aunt has a life-sized nutcracker doll by the Christmas tree. Something about the doll unnerves her. That night, at the stroke of midnight, the star on the Christmas tree glows, as do the eyes of the life-size nutcracker. It comes to life and kills a delivery man who has come to the house - and its reign of havoc has only just started…

NUTCRACKER MASSACRE is released12th December on Digital platforms.

View the Trailer on YouTube.

Coralie Fargeat's controversial REVENGE on standard edition BD from Second Sight

REVENGE the groundbreaking gore-fest debut from director Coralie Fargeat made a big impact on its Limited Edition Blu-ray release in 2020 and now the film arrives on Standard Edition Blu-ray thanks to Second Sight Films.

One of the most talked about movies of recent years, this latest release features a host of special features, including interviews with writer-director Coralie Fargeat and star Matilda Lutz. Also included are interviews with the film’s cinematographer and the composer, a new commentary and much more.

Entitled CEO Richard’s (Kevin Janssens – Undercover) romantic getaway with his young mistress Jen (Matilda Lutz - Medici) is interrupted when his sleazy associates Stan (Vincent Colombe – Point Blank) and Dimitri (Guillaume Bouchède – Love at Second Sight) arrive early for the businessmen’s annual hunting trip. 

Their leering advances turn ugly, culminating in a brutal attack where Jen is left for dead in the desert. Like a phoenix from the ashes, Jen rises, and now she’s out for revenge. What follows is ‘a bloody middle finger…a demand for reckoning…a kick in the balls with a feminine combat boot’ (Rolling Stone).

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned…and now it’s time to get REVENGE.

Special Features
- Audio commentary by Kat Ellinger, author and editor of Diabolique
- Out for Blood: a new interview with director Coralie Fargeat and actor Matilda Lutz
- The Coward: a new interview with actor Guillaume Bouchede
- Fairy Tale Violence: a new interview with cinematographer Robrecht Heyvaert
- Death Notes: a new interview with composer Robin Court (Rob)

REVENGE Standard Edition Blu-ray is released on 21 November 2021

Pre-order the UK BD from

The Owlman Returns in Retro Paperback LORD OF TEARS

The latest publication from indie press Hex Arcana is a novelisation of Hex Studios' cult supernatural chiller.

Following the release of the movie, also entitled LORD OF TEARS, in 2013, its otherworldly villain, the Owlman, became an international phenomenon. The endlessly creepy cryptid has featured in viral videos with millions of views, been immortalised in collectable figures from Mezco Toys, and counts among his fans celebrities such as Alice Cooper and Slash. Now, for the first time, the Owlman comes to life in the pages of a novel, perhaps in his most terrifying form yet.

Adapted from Sarah Daly's original screenplay by author Sean Hogan, writer of acclaimed volumes 'England's Screaming' and 'Deathline', LORD OF TEARS is a chilling, twist-filled take on a classic British ghost story.

The book follows troubled teacher James Findlay on a desperate quest for the truth behind his disturbing visions of an owl-headed figure. He returns to his childhood home in the Scottish Highlands, where it all began, and there, in the ancient halls of Baldurrock House, finds horrors beyond imagining. Will the truth set him free? Or damn him?

LORD OF TEARS is the second instalment in the genre publisher's 80-inspired paperback series, following 'The Sound of His Horn', a reprint of the classic dystopian novel by Sarban. The book features an original, hand-painted cover by legendary artist of the era, Lisa Falkenstern, and faithfully reproduces the style of the golden age of the paperback.

LORD OF TEARS is available to pre-order now exclusively on Kickstarter. The funds raised through sales of the book will help to support the indie publisher on its quest to revive the art of the pulp horror novel.

Purchase the book via the official Kickstarter Page.

A new breed of terror is coming in NIX, this Halloween

Genre star favourites, Michael Pare (Bad Moon) and Dee Wallace (Cujo, The Howling) star in this nerve-shredding supernatural thriller about an evil entity threatening a family, directed by Anthony C Ferrante, the man behind the hit horror comedy Sharknado films, here turning away from tongue in cheek to scares in the woods.

Inspired by German folk tales, NIX is an eerie and intelligent examination of the impact of trauma on generations of families - as well as an all-out terrifying horror film with a very memorable new screen monster to scare you witless.

Strikingly photographed, with elements of super-shockers Hereditary and Sinister, as well as containing a nifty nod towards the famous Patterson-Gimlin ’Bigfoot’ footage, and with veteran thesps Pare and Wallace lending a stamp of chiller credibility, NIX is sure to become a new Halloween horror favourite after it is unleashed this October.

SYNOPSIS: A camping trip for the Coyle family ends in tragedy, when their young daughter Tessa disappears. Twenty-five years later, they are still haunted by the events of that day. Matriarch Donna (Dee Wallace) still believes Tessa is alive and continues to celebrate her birthday every year, hoping for her return. Oldest son Jack (James Zimbardi) tries to keep the family together without breaking down himself. Meanwhile middle son Lucas (Skyler Caleb) is a recovering addict with a young daughter of his own that he’s trying to protect. Terrible things start happening to the family again, with the appearance of a mysterious entity known as the “Nix”. The Coyle’s must confront the past - and what really happened out in the woods all those years ago - or succumb to the darkness that is waiting to consume them.

View the Trailer on YouTube.

NIX is released Digitally 31st October


Ruth Paxton’s critically acclaimed, A BANQUET - Coming to Ltd Edition Blu-Ray

A feast for the eyes, A BANQUET, Ruth Paxton’s critically acclaimed directorial feature debut is released on Bluray in a tantalising Limited Edition Box Set courtesy of Second Sight Films on 31 October 2022. Featuring delectable performances from Sienna Guillory (Resident Evil), rising star Jessica Alexander and Ruby Stokes (Bridgerton, Una), this is A BANQUET you won’t want to miss out on.

This Limited Edition comes stuffed full of special features including new and exclusive interviews with cast and crew. David Liddell shines a light on how he bought the film (and food) to life with stunning cinematography. Horror and food combine in a fusion like no other.

Widowed mother Holly (Guillory – Luther, Love Actually) is pushed to breaking point when her daughter Betsey (Alexander) changes beyond all recognition. A life-altering experience leaves her unable to eat, but her weight doesn’t seem to drop and, as her behaviour becomes increasingly more erratic, her family are torn between love and fear.

Her younger sister’s (Stokes) own recent mental health problems may offer a solution, but when Grandmother June (Lindsay Duncan - Birdman, About Time) arrives, she puts pressure on Holly not to indulge Betsey’s behaviour… then things really start to unravel.

An exploration of grief, mental health and finding one’s place in the world, A BANQUET serves up a real horror treat.

Special Features
• Deformity of the Flesh: An Interview with Ruth Paxton
• Improvised Exorcism: An interview with Jessica Alexander
• Produced in a Pandemic: An interview with Leonora Darby
• Dark Edges: An interview with David Liddell
• Glasgow Film Festival Q&A with Ruth Paxton, Jessica Alexander & Sienna Guillory
• Family Disorder: The Making of a Banquet
Limited Edition Contents
• Rigid slipcase with new artwork by Jen Davies
• Soft cover book with new essays by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, Jennie Kermode and Anya Stanley
• Six collectors' art cards

Pre-order the Ltd Ed UK BD from



Zombie/Creature Feature BRIDGE OF THE DOOMED - Coming to Disc & Digital

Robert LaSardo (The Mule, Death Race), Michael Pare (Bone Tomahawk, The Void) Kate Watson (Killer Advice) and Sarah French (The Amityville Murders) star in BRIDGE OF THE DOOMED, which is scheduled to be released on Disc and Digital in the US, November

Check out the trailer below...

A group of soldiers are ordered to hold a bridge during a zombie outbreak, but what lives underneath the bridge, proves to be even more deadly.

The film is released to BD, DVD and on Digital in the US, Nov 4th. No news yet on when this will be available in the UK, or otherr countries.

TetroVideo October releases: 3 DEAD TRICK OR TREATERS, NIGHT OF DEATH! and MECANIX

This month, TetroVideo is proud to announce the releases of three horror films, including a cult film from the 1980s. In addition to the restock of the extreme films XPIATION (Italy - 2018) by Domiziano Cristopharo and SNUFF 102 (Argentina - 2007) by Mariano Peralta, starting from today, it's also possible to pre-order the horror anthology film 3 DEAD TRICK OR TREATERS (Canada – 2016), the cult film about cannibalism NIGHT OF DEATH! (France - 1980) and the stop-motion film MECANIX (Canada - 2003).

Written and directed by Torin Langen (segment "Slit" in Late Night Double Feature),
3 DEAD TRICK OR TREATERS is a horror anthology film that consists of 4 short stories ("Fondue", "Malleus Maleficarum", "Stash" and "Delivery") about the night of October 31st.
The film comes in a limited Mediabook edition (only 150 copies) + 20-page Booklet + Slipcase (limited to the pre-order customers).
The story revolves around a small town paperboy who, after stumbling upon the graves of three murdered trick or treaters, discovers a series of handwritten horror stories tacked to the children's headstones. Penned by a deranged pulp author driven mad by his craft, the stories chronicle grisly tales of Halloween rites, rituals and traditions.
Holden Levack, Jeremy Charles Singer, Raven Cousens, Youp Zondag, Emma McDonald, Rebecca McAulay, Mickey Conde, Erin Stuart, Rebeca MacKinnon, Eric Repke, Maxwell Lantz and Mike McCarville star.


Originally titled “La nuit de la mort”,
NIGHT OF DEATH! is a 1980 horror french film written and directed by Raphaël Delpard (Clash).
It comes in a limited Mediabook double disc edition DVD + Blu-ray + 20-page Booklet (French language - English, Italian subtitles).
The story is about Martine (Isabelle Goguey), a girl who begins working as a nurse at Deadlock House, a secluded retirement home deep in the French countryside. But she soon discovers that several missing co-workers may have fallen prey to an unspeakable evil rumored to roam the hallways at night. But as Martine looks deeper into the mystery, she starts to suspect the home’s aged residents know more about the menace than they let on.
Isabelle Goguey, Charlotte de Turckheim, Michel Flavius, Betty Beckers, Jean Ludow, Jeannette Batti, Michel Debrane and Germaine Delbat star.

Written and directed by Rémy M. Larochelle, MECANIX (Canada- 2003) is a horror stop-motion film, a dark tale with a pessimistic and surreal view of life.
It's available in a limited Mediabook edition (only 150 copies) + 20-page Booklet + Slipcase (limited to the pre-order customers), with French language and english/italian subtitles.
MECANIX tells the story of the last human beings who are forced to be the slaves of the strange creatures that rule this world. There is only one thing these beasts fear: the embryo of the universe, the origin of everything. The only hope that the humans have is to free themselves from this mecanic environment before they all die.
Stéphane Bilodeau and Julie-Anne Côté star.
All of these are available for pre-order on TetroVideo and Goredrome official websites.



Wednesday 26 October 2022

Mayhem Film Festival 2022 Reviews - Day 4 - Sunday 16th Oct

And so the Fourth and final day of films was upon us
FREAKS OUT (2021) – Dir. Gabriele Mainetti
The first film of the day, FREAK'S OUT by Gabriele Mainetti (Jeeg Robot), actually proved to be my favourite film of the entire festival. Which you might think strange, given that this was not actually a horror film, but a bizarre, offbeat, action comedy.
Set in Italy during WW2, and the owner of the "Mezza Piotta Circus", a Jewish chap named Israel, is (understandably) looking to get out of Europe with the people in his circus freak show, before the Germans come after them. Unfortunately, things don't go as planned and Israel finds himself being arrested and carted off to god knows where, whilst his freaks are taken away for experimentation. 
The group, consisting of  Fulvio (Claudio Santamaria), an extremely hairy person, with incredible strength, Mario (Giancarlo Martini), a dwarf, who can make his body magnetic, Cencio (Pietro Castellitto), who can control insects and Matilde (Aurora Giovinazzo), who can conduct electricity and shock people, not relishing the prospect of being enslaved by the Third Reich, decide to use their powers to break out and try and rescue their boss.
A fun filled, action packed romp, which was a kind of bizarre mash-up of Jo-Jo Rabbit, The Greatest Showman and Inglorious Bastards. There was some great action scenes, particular during the end battle as they try to rescue their boss with the aid of a local resistance group and some very clever use of musical cues, if you recognise the songs.
The film was a huge hit with the festival crowd, who laughed and applauded throughout and is definitely one I'll be adding to my Disc collection, when it's released. The film is however in Italian and German, with English subtitles. But don't be put off by that, if like me, you grew up watching Mel Brooks films, you'll have a blast with this.
View the Trailer on YouTube.
JETHICA (2022) – Dir. Peter Ohs
Next up was the similarly bizarre JETHICA, by American Director Peter Ohs, which starts off rather dark and disturbing, before taking an unexpected twist.
Young Elena (Callie Hernandez – Alien Covenant) is heading to her late Grandmothers home in New Mexico, when she has a chance encounter with an old High School friend of hers, Jessica (Ashley Denise Robinson – Hell's Heart) at a filling station out in the desert.
Inviting her to stay with her for a while at her Grandmother's house, we find out  that Jessica has been having trouble with an obsessive stalker that's been following her around. But despite assuring her that no one will find her at this remote location, they are both surprised when he turns up there the following day.
But this is no ordinary stalker, it seems that this person's obsession with Jessica extends beyond the mortal realm and calling the cops isn't going to help them. So it's up to Elena to try and find a supernatural solution to their problem, resulting in a series of hilarious miss-haps, when things don't go to plan.
A jet black comedy, that doesn't go in the direction you think it's going to, as the film initially presents itself as a serious drama. But then when the stalker shows up, things take a deadpan comic twist. Indeed, even the film's title “Jethica” is a pun, as the stalker has a slight lisp and struggles to pronounce Jessica's name correctly.
A surprisingly good film, which is definitely worth watching. Just be sure to stick around for the end credits scene.
Visit the Director's website for more on this and his other films 
THE HARBINGER (2022) – Dir. Andy Mitton
For the third film we discovered that Elm Street isn't the only place where you can suffer from Nightmares, in Andy Mitton's supernatural horror THE HARBINGER.
Set during the height of the Coronavirus pandemic, when everyone was forced into lockdown, a woman, Monique (Emily Davis), is suffering from debilitating nightmares about a person dressed as a medieval plague doctor, which she believes is due to her social isolation.
Her friend Monique (Gabby Beans), realising how bad her friend's mental health has deteriorated, decides to break social distancing guidelines to visit her. Hoping her presence will help calm her down. But when she too starts experiencing these same nightmares, she realises it may not be social isolation that's the problem.
Enlisting the help of a demonologist, they discover that the person in their nightmares is all too real and they are not the first to have encountered him. But unless they can find a way of stopping the nightmares, this is not going to end well.
Obviously, any film with a plot about nightmares and dream demons is going to draw comparisons with the A Nightmare on Elm Street films, which I think would be grossly unfair here. As Director Andy Mitton, who also directed cult hit The Witch in the Window, has obviously tried to craft something different to those.
The film was certainly well received by the audience but is definitely not one for people who suffer from sleep paralysis.
Incidentally, whilst looking through the IMDB I discovered there is another film of the same name, which was released this same year, which is unrelated. So don't get them confused.
View the Trailer on YouTube
NO LOOKING BACK (2021) – Dir. Kirill Sokolov
The penultimate film of the day, Kirill Sokolov's NO LOOKING BACK (AKA Otorvi i vybros - which translates as Rip Off and Throw Away) provided some much needed levity, following the the dark subject matter of the previous film.
Set in Russia, petty criminal Olya (Viktoriya Korotkova) gets out of jail with the intention of re-connecting with her 10 year old daughter, Masha (Sofya Krugova) who's been cared for by the grandmother, Vera (Anna Mikhalkova). But when Vera refuses to let Olya see her, a fight takes place and Olya ends up snatching her.
Enlisting the help of Olya's ex-boyfriend, a corrupt cop named Oleg (Aleksandr Yatsenko), a brutal cross country chase takes place as Vera and Oleg try and snatch Masha back, leading to a series of extremely violent, not to mention hilariously slapstick, confrontations.
Filmed in Russian, with English subtitles, this was kind of like watching a live action cartoon, and was in a much similar vein to the Director's previous film Why Don't You Just Die, which also dealt with an extremely dysfunctional Russian family and was screened at Mayhem back in 2019, which was similarly well received. 
Obviously, in the current political climate, screening a Russian film may seem a little controversial, and some festival's had actually pulled this film as a result. However, the decision to leave this in, was I feel the correct one. As the film is not pro-Russian in any way and was highly critical of the authorities, in particular the police, who are portrayed as corrupt and incompetent.
Overall, I felt this was great fun and would make an excellent double-bill with the Director's earlier film.
View the Trailer on YouTube.  
WATCHER (2022) – Dir. Chloe Okuna
The final film of the evening, Chloe Okuna's WATCHER which brought the festival to a close, was a kind of an inverse “Rear Window”, in which the central character is not spying on others, but rather is being spied upon.
Julia (Maika Monroe – It Follows, The Guest) has moved to Romania, to be with her husband Francis (Karl Glusman – The Neon Demon), who has just moved there after receiving a promotion. Stuck at home with little to do, she is somewhat unnerved by the fact that there may be a serial killer in the neighbourhood, following a series of grisly murders nearby.
So when she notices she is being spied upon by the creepy guy in the tower block across the road (Burn Gorman – Pacific Rim, The Dark Knight Rises), who also appears to be following her around, she begins to wonder if maybe he might be responsible.
But with her husband not believing her and the creepy neighbour complaining that she's been following him around, could he really be stalking her, or has it all been some terrible misunderstanding?
Quite a taught thriller (which should not be confused with the Netflix show of the same name), this was a very impressive debut feature from Director Chloe Okuna, who had previously directed a segment of V/H/S/94
The film not only dealt in the problems of how do you prove that someone is stalking you, but also looks at the problem of when does eccentric, or social awkward, behaviour cross the line and how far do you risk crossing the line yourself, in order to prove what you're saying? 
Needless to say, this was most definitely a hit with the audience.
Watch the trailer on YouTube.
And thus concluded another successful year of screenings at the Mayhem Film Festival. A huge thankyou to Chris Cooke, Steve Sheil and Melissa Gueneau for putting on such a great event and thanks of course to all the staff at the Broadway Arts Cinema hosting it, along with a special thanks to Cherelle Wilks for the Press pass. 
For more info about the Mayhem Film Festival and other special events they run, visit the official website at and subscribe to their social media pages on Facebook and Twitter.

Monday 24 October 2022

Mayhem Film Festival 2022 Reviews - SCARY SHORTS - [Day 3] Saturday 15th Oct

Following on from my reviews of the feature films on Day 3 of the Mayhem Festival, Saturday is also the day when they have their short films showcase, which were as follows.  
Owing to the awkwardness of trying summarise over a dozen short films, I have decided to reproduce the synopsis from the Mayhem website and add my own critique to it. 
A NEW DAY – Dir. Nate Southard, US, 3m44 
"At Horizon Research Systems, we pride ourselves on helping you achieve the life of your dreams - the life you deserve. Also, we may owe you a few apologies..."
An amusing short film, done in the style of a company infomercial, which pokes fun at corporate America and how their claims to be acting in the public's interest aren't always true.
You can find out more about this and the Director's other projects at his official website... 
EVERYBODY GOES TO THE HOSPITAL  – Dir. Tiffany Kimmel, US, 9m02 
Based on a true story, Everybody Goes to the Hospital is a stop-motion animated exploration of physical, psychological, and familial trauma, telling the tale of 4-year-old Little Mata (writer/director Tiffany Kimmel's mother) as she's taken to the hospital in late 1963 with appendicitis. 
Very reminiscent of the animated kids shows of the 70s, this stop-motion feature is actually a very disturbing story about a young child who is taken in to hospital and how her parents seemed more concerned about how they're going to pay the medical bills. Good animation and attention to detail, but was really depressing seeing the attitude of the parents. 
Visit the Director's website at...
FACE NOT RECOGNISED – Dir. Also Sisters, Spain, 8m54 
Alone in the wilderness, a woman must find a way to survive after discovering that her head has been encased in cement. 
This rather reminded me of the 2006 survival horror “Broken”, which was also about a woman  waking up in the middle of nowhere, having been abducted. Only in this film, her head has been covered in cement, so she can't see where she's going or unlock her phone. Not bad, competently filmed, though not all that original.  
If only she had a phone with a fingerprint censor, instead of face ID, all this could have been avoided.  
Visit the Directors Official Website... 

HORSE BROTHERS – Dir. Milos Mitrovic & Fabian Velasco, Canada, 8m
Two brothers living on a farm sell old broken iPads, iPhones, and laptops to make ends meet. After one of the horses on the ranch convinces the older brother that the younger one is pinching a portion of the profits, the brother is left with no choice but to kill him and run off with the horse. 
An extremely off-beat comedy about loyalty, betrayal, jealousy and an obsession with a horse. Whilst myself and other ferstival goers were amused, it was certainly an extremely bizarre film. 
Visit the Director's website...  

THE LIGHT (La Luz) – Dir. Iago de Soto, Spain, 12m52
19th century. In a small coastal village, Olalla and her family prepare for the night of “The Truce”. There is only one rule: no lights should stay on tonight. Olalla, unlike her parents, does not believe in superstitions. And she doesn’t think They are coming either… 
A very atmospheric period horror, sharing similar themes with “A Quiet Place”, in which a family find themselves terrorised by strange creatures, after one of their daughters deliberately ignores a local superstition. Would love to see this turned into a feature film 
Visit the Director's social media pages... 

RINGWORMS – Dir. Will Lee, US, 13m45
After discovering her boyfriend’s plan to propose on their weekend vacation, a young girl undergoes a crisis of commitment which attracts the attention of a sinister cult. 
This was your typical “young couple holidaying in rural America, falling prey to a religious cult” type of film, which you just know isn't going to end well. Starts like your typical horror film, but has a darkly comic twist at the end, which the audience loved. Not one to watch if you hate creepy-crawlies, or have trypophobia... 
Visit the Director's website...
SHARK - Dir. Nash Edgerton, Australia, 14m07 
Follows the continuing adventures of Jack, who loves to prank. But in his latest relationship, he may have finally met his match. 
A darkly comical film about a practical joker (played by the Director) getting into literal “deep water” when his latest prank, involving a dummy shark fin, goes perilously wrong whilst on a scuba diving holiday with his new wife. Very funny and tongue in cheek, which shows the perils of “crying wolf” (or indeed “shark”). 
Apparently there have been 2 other films featuring this character, Bear and Spider, which I shall have to try and track down. 
SHINY NEW WORLD – Dir. Jan van Gorkum, Netherlands, 8m43 

Fifty-year-old Barry is a special kind of cleaner: he cleans crime scenes where demons have wreaked havoc. While making a corporate film about his work, a normal working day for Barry gets out of hand in a bloody way.
One of the more fun short films, done in the style of a training video, in which the workers of a cleaning firm find the teenagers renting the cabin they're cleaning had been in an “Evil Dead” scenario, showing how they deal with the aftermath. Was well received by the audience, which had some great jokes about horror cliches. 
Visit the Director's website and social media pages...

SLEEP - Dir. Alexandra Pechmann, US, 3m45
"Wake up! I heard something. I think someone's here." A woman struggles with her lifelong fear of home invasion, in this three-and-a-half minute horror film told in a single shot. 
A take on the old urban legend and well used horror movie trope, about someone hearing a noise in the night and deciding to ignore it, only to wake the following morning to find something horrendous has happened. Never-the-less, this was a well made and satisfyingly gory short. 
Visit the Director's Website...
SMILE – Dir. Joanna Tsanis, Canada, 6m37 
When a young woman struggles to smile, her depression becomes something truly monstrous. 
Not to be confused with the 2022 feature film of the same name, though coincidentally, it does have a similar supernatural theme. There was a definite “Insidious”/”Conjuring” vibe to this, as the central character finds herself being attacked by a smiling Demon. 
This actually felt like an intro to a much longer feature, which may have been the Director's intention.  
Visit the Director's Website... 
When you look deep into the digital abyss what stares back at you? 
Essentially 55 seconds of trying to watch someone on a zoom call, with a poor internet connection, causing audio and video dropouts and that's pretty much it. Think it was supposed to be an arty film, but no idea what the point of it was.  
Incidentally, the Director, Ray Wong, seems to be from Cornwall, UK and should not be confused with the Canadian Director of the same name. 
Visit the Director's YouTube channel...

THE TENANT – Dir. Lucas Paulino & Angel Torres, Spain, 9m46
Mia wakes up one morning with a strange pain in her leg. Little by little the limp gets worse, until someone warns her that the pain is not what it seems. Either she casts a spell that very night or her life will never be the same again. 
Reminiscent of the Amicus horror story The Elemental from Tales from Beyond the Grave, this was an entertaining, not to mention exceptionally creepy little horror tale,  
Visit the Film's websites...

WHILE MORTALS SLEEP Dir. Alex Fofonoff, US, 14m10
When a cold case novelist's career implodes, she seeks refuge in her friend's remote vacation home. Upon arrival, she encounters a strange couple who claim to be the caretakers. As tensions build, a dark secret begins to emerge. 
One of those films where you just know something isn't right with the couple that the main protagonist has encountered, but you're not sure what. The film manages to build tension, although when you discover what they're up to, it will just leave you thinking “What????”.  
Visit the Director's Websites... 
And thus concluded the short film section.
For more info about the Mayhem Film Festival and other special events they run, visit the official website at and subscribe to their social media pages on Facebook and Twitter.

Sunday 23 October 2022

Mayhem Film Festival 2022 Reviews - Day 3 - Saturday 15th Oct

Day 3 of the Mayhem Film Festival proved to be another mixed bag of cult, classic and the extremely bizarre!
UNICORN WARS (2022) Dir – Alberto Vazquez
The first film of  Day 3, Alberto Vazquez's UNICORN WARS, was undoubtedly the most messed up film of the entire festival and wasn't what I expected at all from an animated film, showing cuddly cartoon teddy bears going to war with a bunch of  unicorns in a magical forest.
The story predominantly revolves around 2 bears, brothers Azulin and Gordi, who have just enlisted in the Army and follows them as they go through basic training and onto their first mission. Azulin clearly has narcissistic tendencies, boastful, overly confident and jealous of others that are more successful. In sharp contrast, his brother Gordi just wants to keep his head down and get on with the other teddy bears in his platoon.
The group are subsequently sent into the forest, to locate the whereabouts of another platoon, who haven't reported back and the film quickly descends into an "Apocalypse Now" scenario, as they discover the mangled corpses of the other platoon, and are forced to defend themselves when the unicorns attack their encampment, leading to an exceptionally grisly battle.
A very bizarre anti-war film, showing the dangers of religious zealotry, the “us vs them” mentality that divides so many and the way war can be used to maintain power by unscrupulous military and political leaders.
What was so genuinely shocking about this film, is when I first heard about it, I thought it was going to be tongue in cheek and comical. Instead, the film is played dead straight, and doesn't shy away from gore and violence. Putting it at odds with it's colourful, cuddly style of kids animation that it's presented in. 
The film was in Spanish with English subtitles and was well received by the Mayhem audience. I however didn't care for it much, being way too grim for my liking, which actually left me feeling rather depressed afterwards. It is a very well made film however, but is really one I can only recommend to die hard cult movie fans.
View the Trailer on YouTube.
Visit the Official Website -

VESPER (2022) Dir – Kristina Buozyte, Bruno Samper.
The next film, Sci-Fi drama VESPER, by Writer-Director duo Kristina Buozyte and Bruno Samper (Vanishing Waves, ABCs of Death 2) was similarly grim, taking place in a world where an ecological disaster has wiped out all edible plant life and animals.
Set in a dystopian future, following the collapse of the worlds eco-system, young Vesper (Raffiella Chapman – The Theory of Everything) ekes out an existence, surviving on handouts that the people in the city give to remote communities, whilst caring for her father (Richard Brake – Game of Thrones) at their remote cabin.
Vesper has a talent for eco-hacking and believes there's a way of making things fertile again, which puts her at odds with her unscrupulous uncle, Jonas (played by prolific British actor Eddie Marsan) who runs a farming colony nearby and is very much in the pocket of the people running the cities.
But when she comes to the aid of a survivor from a crashed airship, Camilla (Rosy McEwan - TV's The Alienist), who may have the answers she's looking for, she finds there is nothing her Uncle Jonas won't do for personal gain, even if it means sacrificing humanity.
Filmed in rural Latvia, this one was a bit of a slow burner, but was never the less, extremely compelling and was actually rather uplifting, despite the bleak subject matter. Showing how humanity continues to strive, as opposed to just giving up, when faced with severe adversity.
It was also interesting seeing Richard Brake, who usually plays a bad guy in genre films, playing a good guy this time and Eddie Marsan, who I've always associated with comic roles, like in The Worlds End, or weak characters, like in Atomic Blonde and Filth, playing a very mean bad guy.
Sci-fi fans should definitely seek this one out.
View the trailer on YouTube.
After Vesper came the annual SHORT FILM SHOWCASE, which I shall be reviewing seperately. Then it was onto the last 2 films of the night, which were being screened as part of the BFI's “Night of the Cat” season.

KURONEKO (1968) Dir – Kaneto Shindo
Following a short break, it was onto the fourth film of the day and the first of 2 cat themed horrors of the evening, with the 1968 Black and White Japanese horror KURONEKO (The Black Cat).
Set in feudal Japan, a group of Samurai warriors on their way back from a battle, decide to pillage a small farm. They subsequently rape and murder the woman and her daughter in law, that are  living there, before setting their home on fire as they leave.
Three years later and the Samurai warriors stationed at the Imperial palace in a nearby town, find themselves being lured into the bamboo groves at the edge of town by a couple of vengeful spirits and their black cat, where they are brutally murdered in an animal like fashion.
The local governor tasks one of his best fighters, Gintoki (Nakamura Kichiemon II), with destroying these demons, given the unrest all the killings have caused. But when Gintoki finds out the spirits in question resemble his late wife and mother, he finds himself in an extremely awkward position.
Not the sort of film I would ordinarily watch, I was again pleasantly surprised by the Mayhem festival's choice of film for this slot, which was an effective ghostly chiller. This particular screening was particularly special, as it featured an additional haunting vocal score over the soundtrack, which was performed live by Nottingham vocalist Yumah, that blended in very nicely with the existing score.

I really ought to check out the film on its own, to see how the original soundtrack compares. But it would be really great if someone could release a version of the film with Yumah's additional soundtrack.
Checkout Vocalist Yumah on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
View the Trailer on YouTube.

SLEEPWALKERS (1992) Dir – Mick Garris
Continuing with the cat theme, came the fourth and final film of the day, Stephen King's SLEEPWALKERS, by Director Mick Garris (Psycho 4, TV's The Stand)
Mother and Son, Mary (Alice Kriege – Star Trek : First Contact) and Charles Brady (Brian Krause – TV's Charmed), who clearly have an “unconventional” relationship, are on the run from the police and move into the small town of Travis, Indiana, where they intend to lay low for a while
Charles attends the local school, where he quickly develops a relationship with young Tanya Robertson (Mädchen Amick – TV's Twin Peaks). But it seems, it's not true love he's really looking for....
It turns out, he and his mother are some sort of energy vampires, who survive by sucking the lifeforce out of young virgins and they've got Tanya in mind as their next victim. But, it seems the local cats don't take kindly to these creatures and as the felines, led by a cat named Clovis (yes, seriously) mass outside, they may regret their decision to move there.
A very odd film, but an extremely enjoyable one, which features a whole slew of guest roles from various horror film icons, including Clive Barker, Tobe Hooper, John Landis and even Stephen King himself. Not to mention cameos from Mark Hammil (Star Wars) and Ron Pearlman (Hellboy) amongst others. 
This was a whole lot of fun, boasting some nice gory deaths and was definitely one of the better Stephen King adaptations from the 1990s. Though cat lovers may have a tough time sitting through certain scenes.

View the Trailer on YouTube.
And that was it for Day 3.
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