The Machine

themachineIn between writing, meetings and loads of other stuff, I’ve been catching up on a few movies I managed to miss over the last couple of years. THE MACHINE is a film I’d had my eye on since I saw it on the schedule of Grimmfest back in 2013. I finally got to see it last week, and I have to say, I was impressed. Stylish and smart, the film has an effortless Quatermass meets Blade Runner vibe which I couldn’t resist. Here’s a synopsis and the trailer. My thoughts follow:

Two computer programmers fall in love as they create the first ever piece of self-aware artificial intelligence, which is designed to help humanity. But things go wrong when the MoD steal their breakthrough and teach it to become a robotic weapon.

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Kerb Crawlers

Kerb CrawlersYou’ll remember the name James Plumb from earlier posts. He’s a fellow SCARdiff alumni, and director of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD: RESURRECTION, which I talked about here. James was kind enough to let me watch his new movie, KERB CRAWLERS, ahead of release. The long and the short of it: this is a sick, twisted and depraved little movie. And I loved every second of it. Here’s the synopsis and a trailer (warning, definitely NSFW – don’t watch if you’re easily offended). Click the link below for my thoughts.

Hired to make a depraved snuff movie, five men abduct a young woman to be their plaything for the night. However once the cameras start rolling so do heads as they discover their victim belongs to another… something living inside of her… something monstrous. The tables now turned, the men will receive a lesson on true pain and torture as they become the “stars” of the film.

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Recommended Reading: Dead World Resurrection

deadworldWind the clock back a decade, and you’d have found far fewer zombie novels on the shelves than today. There was just a handful of us telling tales of the undead back then… myself, Brian Keene, David Wellington, and Joe McKinney to name but a few. Back to today, and it’s great to see all of my old undead compatriots still producing plenty of top-quality horror fiction. Joe, in particular, has been consistently prolific.

I was honoured a while back to be asked to write an introduction for DEAD WORLD RESURRECTION: THE COLLECTED ZOMBIE SHORT STORIES OF JOE MCKINNEY and I of course jumped at the chance. In this collection (which was recently released by Journalstone), all of Joe’s zombie shorts are gathered together. I hardly need to do the hard sell, do I? This is definitely a book I’d recommend you pick up, and I’ll quote myself as proof (if that’s not too pretentious): “In this collection, by writing about the living dead, Joe has reminded us what’s so great about being one of the living. I hope you enjoy reading (or re-reading) these stories as much as I have.”

DEAD WORLD RESURRECTION is available now.

28 Days Later

twenty_eight_days_laterAs a responsible father, I think it’s important to ensure my kids have a solid all round education. As such, I see it as my duty to introduce them to cultural milestones. Last night I did just that (I am being sarcastic here, by the way), sitting down with the girls for a family viewing of Danny Boyle‘s seminal 28 DAYS LATER. It had been many years since I’d seen the film, and I was interested to see how it stood up today: what was considered ground-breaking in 2002 might have appeared cliched today. To my surprise, I think I enjoyed the movie more than I ever have done.

A quick glance at my Recommendations page revealed that I’ve never written about this hugely influential movie for this site, so I thought I’d remedy that right now. As usual, a brief synopsis and trailer follows. Click on the link for my thoughts.

An infirmary patient awakens from a coma to an empty room…in a vacant hospital…in a deserted city. A powerful virus, which locks victims into a permanent state of murderous rage, has transformed the world around him into a seemingly desolate wasteland. Now a handful of survivors must fight to stay alive, unaware that the worst is yet to come…

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The Wave

A lesser-known movie recommendation for a lazy Sunday afternoon…

thewaveMy family has a thing about Psychology. My wife has three degrees in the subject (yes, three!), one of my daughters is following in her footsteps having recently graduated with first class honours, and another of the girls has just embarked on her first Psychology qualification. Me? I’m interested too, but in a far less academic way. I’ve said it countless times, but I’ll say it again anyway – I’m a people watcher. I’m not much interested in who did what study or experiment or anything like that, I just like to sit back and watch what happens when people are forced to endure extreme circumstances (ie, in most of my books, the end of the world).

This week I want to recommend a film that should appeal to the psychology academics in your life (like my missus) as well as the dystopian thrill-seekers (like me). THE WAVE (DIE WELLE) is a 2008 German production directed by Dennis Gansel and based on a 1981 novel by Todd StrasserA high school teacher’s unusual experiment to demonstrate to his students what life is like under a dictatorship spins horribly out of control when he forms a social unit with a life of its own.

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Recommended Reading – The Last Plague

thelastplagueToday I want to recommend THE LAST PLAGUE to you – the debut novel from Rich Hawkins. I’ve known Rich for a number of years now, and it’s been great to see him fulfil his writing ambitions. When we first met, I signed a book for him in Lowestoft (I think). This year, he signed a book for me!

By the way, completely coincidentally, Rich recently interviewed me for his blog. You can find the piece online here.

THE LAST PLAGUE (available now from Crowded Quarantine) is a nasty, blood-soaked door-stop of a book which features more grotesques and mutilations than I ever thought possible to fit into five hundred pages. It’s relentlessly bleak and vicious, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. Here’s the synopsis. Click the link below for a few thoughts from Rich.

A pestilence has fallen across the land. Run and hide. Seek shelter. Do not panic. The infected WILL find you.

When Great Britain is hit by a devastating epidemic, four old friends must cross a chaotic, war-torn England to reach their families. But between them and home, the country is teeming with those afflicted by the virus – cannibalistic, mutated monsters whose only desires are to infect and feed.

THE LAST PLAGUE is here.

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Interstellar

interstellar3Real life has been a bit of a pain in the backside recently, preventing me from updating this site as much as I’d have liked. The film recommendations I’d been posting with uncharacteristic regularity at the beginning of the year have all but dried up. I’m hoping to put that right, and I wanted to start today by recommending that rarest of things: a film with apocalyptic overtones which manages the delicate balancing act of being positive without resorting to cliché.

Christopher Nolan’s INTERSTELLAR reminded me of Kubrick’s 2001 for all the right reasons. I’m sure many of you have seen it by now. If not, here’s a quick synopsis followed by a trailer. Click the link below for my thoughts on the movie.

With our time on Earth coming to an end, a team of explorers undertakes the most important mission in human history: traveling beyond this galaxy to discover whether mankind has a future among the stars.

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Recommended reading – Sean Page’s ALIEN INVASION HANDBOOK

Stuck for Christmas ideas this year? Want to get that certain someone a present that a). they’ll like, b). will keep them occupied for hours and c). might just save their life? Look no further.

alieninvasionMy good friend SEAN PAGE has released a follow up to last year’s smash hit ZOMBIE SURVIVAL HAYNES MANUAL. This year he’s turned his attention to the ever-present threat of ALIEN INVASION. As always, Sean’s take on things is frighteningly comprehensive, and incredibly funny. Looking for an authoritative history of alien contact? It’s here. Want to know how to prep yourself for the aliens’ arrival? Sean’s your man. First-contact protocols, alien combat techniques, space defences… this book covers everything.

You can get hold of a copy now from Amazon, The Book Depository, Hive, Indiebound, Waterstones, WHSmith and many other retailers.

And I don’t know if Sean was trying to tell me something or if this really was a genuine mix-up by the good folk at Haynes, but the Alien Invasion manual wasn’t the first book they sent me…

Pie book

DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES and HATER

9780312608088 thumbThis post is really just a convoluted way of asking a pretty direct question, so please bear with me…

Summer’s definitely over now, and I’ve been looking back at some of the movies I managed to get to see. Without a doubt, DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES was the film I was looking forward to seeing most and, surprisingly, I thought it almost completely delivered.

It’ll serve little purpose if I review the movie this late in the day because I expect you’ve either a). already seen it and made up your own minds, or b). you’ve heard enough about it to know whether you want to see it or not. To summarise, though, it’s a technically stunning film with some great performances, an intense storyline, superb action scenes, and some of the most realistic animation you’re likely to see in a long time. I highly recommend it.

I’ve long been a fan of the APES movies. I’ve seen the original films countless number of times, and I’ve even managed to make it all the way through the abominable Tim Burton remake more than once. I was thinking about why I love the Apes concept so much when it struck me: it’s the same central conceit as zombies, isn’t it? Replace the apes with the undead, and you’ve got a very similar set-up. The apes are just another in a long line of variations on us versus them, and these movies work so well because of the increasingly thin line which separates one side from the other.

In fact, when I left the cinema after seeing DAWN, I couldn’t help thinking about HATER. With HATER, you could argue the only real difference between one side and the other is perspective. They’re pretty much otherwise indistinguishable from one another (unless you are a Hater, of course…).

Incredibly, it’s now seven long years since the HATER movie rights were first acquired, and although the cameras almost rolled back in 2009, there’s been very little movement on the project since then. But that might be about to change. I can’t say much at the moment (there’s not actually very much to say), but some positive initial discussions have been taking place with a view to getting HATER on the big screen.

So all this rambling finally leads me to my question. Seven years is a long time… do you still want to see a HATER movie? If so, what are your hopes and fears for the project? Personally, I think there’s never been a better time (as the success of our ape friends has illustrated), but what do you think? I’d really appreciate it if you could take a few minutes to let me know.

And as soon as I have any definite news, I’ll post it here.

The Night of the Triffids

NightoftheTriffids.jpgNIGHT OF THE TRIFFIDS is a book I avoided reading for a very long time. As many of you might know, whenever I’m asked to cite my favourite book or the book that’s had the biggest influence on me, I always talk about John Wyndham’s seminal DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS, and the idea of a non-Wyndham sequel never appealed to me in the slightest. But then I got to know the author, Simon Clark. I’d heard a lot about Simon when HATER was first released, with people mentioning my book alongside his BLOOD CRAZY (a great read which I must feature here in the near future). Simon and I both had stories appear in the MAMMOTH BOOK OF BODY HORROR and we met at an event to launch the book a few years back. I caught up with him again at a convention a while later, and was able to talk to him about all things triffid-related. It was immediately clear that this was no cash-in: he wrote a sequel because of his love of Wyndham’s original.

First published in 1991 and given a long-overdue re-release this month, the book takes place some twenty-five years after the events of DAY. Here’s the synopsis. Click the link below for my thoughts.

In John Wyndham’s classic bestseller The Day of the Triffids, the world has been overwhelmed by killer plants that have blinded almost the entire population. As the novel ends, Wyndham’s narrator scientist Bill Masen is escaping, with his wife and four-year-old son, to the Isle of Wight where a small colony of survivors is holding out. Simon Clark’s sequel picks up the story twenty-five years on.

The survivors are safe, for the time being at least, on their island, where they have continued efforts to combat the triffids, while also striving in various ways to build a new civilization – in a Mother House, for example, women spend their lives endlessly giving birth. Elsewhere in the world, similar colonies cling to survival, while the triffids persist in their attempts to destroy humanity.

One morning Bill Masen’s son, David, now grown up, wakes to a world plunged into darkness. Now, the triffids have an advantage over even sighted humanity.

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