Film Four FrightFest - Saturday

Day 2 at the Film Four FrightFest, and I'm genuinely loving it. I don't usually care for horror films (apart from the original Halloween franchise, which is brilliant) because it's all so cliché. Even subverting the clichés has become cliché at this point, so I find the whole genre fairly derivative, but this weekend has shut my mouth. 

There are some properly decent movies coming out and it's not all "found footage of ghosts" or "in 2006 three film makers blah blah blah never heard from again". There's monster stuff, thriller stuff, funny stuff. All kinds of... stuff, and I've been ignorant of it this whole time. At one stage tonight they gave away a one-of-a-kind poster for Zombie Flesh Eaters 2, and the way to win was to have a Lucio Fulci tattoo. I don't know who that is, but about a dozen people rushed the stage to show off their horror ink-work. People love this shit, and I'm getting on board!

Frankenstein's Army - Review by Chris Welsh

A group of Russians on a rescue mission in World War 2 stumble upon a secret, underground base full of...things. Undead things, the corpses of soldiers brought back to life and altered in myriad ways. Some have drills for hands, some have drills for faces, some have boxes over their heads that can clamp shut and crush the skull of whoever winds up close enough. They're the result of testing by Dr Frankenstein - a mad doctor with a propensity to chop up the dead, fill them with mechanical implements and charge them with electricity.

Everything is shown from a first-person perspective, a camera that one of the troop carries with the intent to document everything. This, plus the way bigger, badder creatures appear every 10-15 minutes or so, gives FRANKENSTEIN'S ARMY a very 'videogame' feel. It has more in common with, say, DOOM than many other films (including that shit-basket that was the DOOM film), thanks to the way the characters progress deeper into an unknown place and face off against ever changing, increasingly scary foes. I actually think I would have preferred to experience this as a game. A slow, atmospheric game with bursts of action, a character trapped alone in cramped tunnels waiting for the next mutated, enhanced beast to come scraping around a corner.

As a film, it didn't quite work. An entertaining, oddball distraction.

2.5 out of 5

Hammer of the Gods - Review by Chris Welsh

A film about, well, nothing. The plot, for what there is, is Vikings vs Saxons, focusing on one Viking in particular who is set off on a quest to find his brother, so his brother can return to be a king and defeat the Saxons. Except, none of that really matters. Between the inexplicably Cockney-accented Vikings and the unexpected blast of dubstep during a weak sword fight with a bunch of bad guys dressed like charity shop Skeletors, there isn't much else to note about the film. Every line of dialogue is snarled, a lot of people frown, and a lot of men die after having a sword run through them whilst screaming. Also, crucially for a film sown at a horror festival...it isn't scary. I'm not even sure I'd label it as a horror at all.

2 out of 5

No One Lives - Review by Gazz Wood

Starring a girl who looks like Carey Mulligan but isn't and a guy who looks like Luke Evans and is, No One Lives is a WWE Films production and as such must contain one wrestler. The wrestler in this is Broadus Clay, who you haven't heard of but is just a big sort of bloke filling the big sort of bloke role these movies tend to require. A gang of shitheels gets caught during a robbery and one of them, the bastard one, shoots an entire family dead. The boss, Lee Tergesen from Wayne's World, is none too pleased but then the crew come across a rich looking couple driving cross country, their luck might be in. They kidnap the two, but a startling discovery inside the boot of their car leads to everyone getting hunted down and horribly murdered. 

This should be shit, but it's really not. The "stalker" subgenre is pretty under-staffed these days what with Ghosts and Zombies being in vogue for ever and ever. No One Lives shows us that a lone nutter with a bow and arrow and no conscience still has a place on our screens. Luke Evans (Fast & Furious 6) is chilling and funny as the nutter in question, while Adelaide Clemens (Great Gatsby, Silent Hill: Revelations) is really good as the stoic survivor of prequel movie we don't get to see. 

3 out of 5

RIPD - Review by Gazz Wood

I was really looking forward to this. The trailer made it look like Men in Black meets Ghostbusters starring Ryan Reynolds and Rooster Cogburn from True Grit. I was bitterly and roundly disappointed. Reynolds plays Nick Walker, the slightly bent copper whose partner Kevin Bacon shoots him to bits till he's dead. On his way up to Heaven, Nick is intercepted by the RIPD (Rest in Peace Department) which is made up all the dead coppers in the Boston area. Their remit is to find Deado's; people who've escaped judgement and hide out on Earth, and shoot them in the face with magic bullets. His partner is Jeff Bridges, a lawman from the 1800's whose used to working alone.

It sounds potentially good, but there's just nothing to grab on to. You meet Nick and within a few minutes he's dead. His induction into the RIPD takes all of 90 seconds and he takes the whole thing in so much stride I'm surprised his legs aren't longer by the end of it. None of it phases him at all. The jokes fall flat, the action is cheap and the CGI looks like worse than MiB which came out in the 1997. The Fat Elvis Demon (played by Buzz from Home Alone) looks like complete shit. 

There's no chemistry between Reynolds and Bridges, the plot is a great big shrug and the "twist" is dealt with briskly and then glossed over by everyone as if they were as uninterested in it as we are. 

2 out of 5

Words by Gazz Wood & Chris Welsh

Chris Welsh is a writer from the UK. You can find his stuff,  mostly horror shorts and novels, by searching his name on Amazon Kindle or Smashwords. Or read his free, online comic at www.wartcomic.com

Gazz Wood is a writer from The Northern Film School at Leeds Met University. As well as writing for Wireless he can also be heard on the monthly podcast Possibly of Interest with TV Producer Howard Cohen and special guests from the world of British TV and Cinema, plus his own weekly show Gazz Wood Has A Podcast. He can also be followed on Twitter @GazzPH90