1984

1984A week or so ago I attended a school production of 1984. With a small cast, limited props and basic lighting and sound, they did an excellent job of bringing George Orwell’s classic novel to life. As I was watching, it struck me how relevant and frightening the story remains today (in fact, just about the only thing that’s dated about it is the title) and I immediately dug out and re-watched the most recent film version starring John Hurt and the late Richard Burton. This bleak and powerful film is my movie recommendation for this week.

1984 is a remarkable novel which has, of course, had an enormous cultural impact since its publication in 1949. I could write reams about the continued (increasing?) relevance of Orwell’s nightmare vision, but this is neither the place nor the time. Instead, the purpose of this post is simply to draw your attention to a beautifully made adaptation of an extraordinarily important book. Here’s a trailer. Click the link below for my thoughts.

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Grave of the Fireflies

Grave-of-the-Fireflies-1988Are you happy? In a good mood? Having a good day? If you are, you might want to give this week’s film recommendation a miss. That said, you’ll be missing out on an astonishing movie if you do. Today I’m recommending Studio Ghibli’s 1988 film, GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES. It’s bleak, grim, heartbreakingly sad, and completely superb. As always, a brief synopsis is below, followed by a trailer. Hit the jump for my thoughts.

A devastating meditation on the human cost of war, this animated tale follows Seita (Tsutomu Tatsumi), a teenager charged with the care of his younger sister, Setsuko (Ayano Shiraishi), after an American firebombing during World War II separates the two children from their parents. Their tale of survival is as heartbreaking as it is true to life. The siblings rely completely on each other and struggle against all odds to stay together and stay alive.

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28 Weeks Later

28wlBack in January I wrote a piece about 28 DAYS LATER. The film went down reasonably well with my kids and we soon settled down together to watch the sequel, 2007’s 28 WEEKS LATER.

Interestingly, if you look back at my earlier piece, you’ll see that I enjoyed 28DL more than I had previously. I felt like it had improved with age. 28WL had the opposite effect, however, and I didn’t warm to it as I had the earlier film. As always, a synopsis and trailer follows, and my thoughts are after the jump.

Six months after the rage virus was inflicted on the population of Great Britain, the US Army helps to secure a small area of London for the survivors to repopulate and start again. But not everything goes to plan.

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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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