The Purge

81UGQvKFnQL._SL1500_On Saturday I wrote a piece about ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, and it was clear from the number of comments, re-tweets etc. I received that it’s a film a lot of people have a lot of love for. The movie I want to talk about today, however, is, in my opinion, far less satisfying.

James DeMonaco’s 2013 movie THE PURGE starts with a broadly similar premise to EFNY, in that in order to try and cope with a crime rate that’s spiralled out of control, the US government is forced to try a radical new approach. This is the titular Purge – a brief period of time once each year when all criminal activity is legalised. Read the synopsis, watch the trailer, then follow the link for my brief thoughts.

In an America wracked by crime and overcrowded prisons, the government has sanctioned an annual 12-hour period in which any and all criminal activity-including murder-becomes legal. The police can’t be called. Hospitals suspend help. It’s one night when the citizenry regulates itself without thought of punishment. On this night plagued by violence and an epidemic of crime, one family wrestles with the decision of who they will become when a stranger comes knocking. When an intruder breaks into James Sandin’s (Ethan Hawke) gated community during the yearly lockdown, he begins a sequence of events that threatens to tear a family apart. Now, it is up to James, his wife, Mary (Lena Headey), and their kids to make it through the night without turning into the monsters from whom they hide.

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Escape from New York

Escape from New YorkI have a habit (and I can’t decide whether it’s a good or bad habit) of neglecting everything else when I start writing a new book. I’ve been neck-deep in the first novel in the SPACES BETWEEN series for the last few weeks and haven’t been posting here as often as I’d planned. I’ll try and put that right.

I’ve just re-watched a classic. A real blast from the past for this Post-Apocalyptic Movie Club selection, and for good reason. I’ll be referencing this film, and the film I’m going to talk about next, in a new ‘What Works For Me’ article, coming up shortly.

There are three directors I regularly cite as having had a huge impact on me during my formative years. In no particular order they are George Romero, David Cronenberg, and John Carpenter. Romero is self-explanatory: without him there’d be no Autumn. Cronenberg – well, he’s responsible for some of my very favourite horror movies… The Fly, Shivers, Rabid – need I go on? I was once told that he’d been passed a copy of Hater. Just the thought that Cronenberg’s held one of my books is something I still find hard to believe.

John Carpenter completes this weird holy trinity. His films are, I think, more accessible than those of Cronenberg and Romero, but not less influential. I’m a particular admirer of his golden period: from Assault on Precinct 13 in 1976, through to The Thing in 1982, and pretty much everything in between. During this time he made a series of consistently strong, often ground-breaking horror films.

Escape from New York (1981) is a cracking movie, one which I’m sure you’ve probably seen. If you haven’t, you’re in for a treat. Here’s the synopsis, followed by a trailer. Click the link below for my thoughts.

In the future (well, 1997 was the future back then!), crime in America has spiralled out of control. Surrounded by impenetrable defences, New York City is now a maximum security prison: once you go in, you don’t come out. When the President of the USA crash lands in Manhattan, Snake Plissken, a disgraced special ops soldier, is sent in. Plissken has twenty-four hours to find the president and get him out.

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SCREAM issue 23 is out now!

1394872570273A new issue of SCREAM is always cause for celebration, and this month is no different. As well as interviews with GEORGE ROMERO and DARIO ARGENTO, there’s a great feature on the latter half of the NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET series and a report on LORD OF TEARS (a very creepy movie I’ll be talking more about in the coming weeks). Visit www.screamhorrormag.com to get hold of a copy. If you’re in the UK, you can buy the mag from any branch of HMV.

Also, if you’re a SCREAM subscriber, click here to enter their STRAIGHT TO YOU giveaway. Five signed copies up for grabs!

NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD: RESURRECTION

NOTLDRThis week’s selection for my Post-Apocalyptic Movie Club is a film I did all I could to avoid watching for a long time. I mean, another Night of the Living Dead remake? Made on a shoestring budget… in Wales? A recipe for disaster, right? Wrong.

The director of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD: RESURRECTION, James Plumb, and a number of his sidekicks from Mad Science Films were at last October’s SCARDIFF event, though I didn’t get chance to speak to them. I got talking to Wayne Simmons after the event (who, as you’ll probably remember, is one of the good folks behind Scardiff). Wayne recommended I watch NOTLD:R. He said he thought I’d be surprised by it, and I was.

Watch the trailer below then click the link for my thoughts and some words from James Plumb.

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BLOOD GLACIER aka THE STATION aka BLUTGLETSCHER

Blood-Glacier-artToday’s Post-Apocalyptic Movie Club recommendation is an interesting little film which, as you can see from the title of this post, has been known by numerous titles. All the recent press has been for BLOOD GLACIER, so that’s what I’ll stick with.

BLOOD GLACIER (Germany, 2013) owes much to John Carpenter’s seminal remake of THE THING from 1982. A group of scientists working in the German Alps discover a glacier stained with an ominous-looking red liquid. The unknown pollutant has a deadly effect on local wildlife, and the scientists (and others) soon find themselves under siege from all manner of mutant creatures. The movie’s directed by Marvin Kren, who also directed the well respected 2010 zombie film, RAMMBLOCK: BERLIN UNDEAD.

Here’s the trailer. Hit the link below for my thoughts.

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Portrait of a Zombie (US title: About a Zombie)

Portrait_Zombie_PosterWeb-773x1024Back in February 2010 I stumbled upon the trailer for a new zombie movie I hadn’t come across before: PORTRAIT OF A ZOMBIE. I was so taken by the short clip that I posted it on this site and I also got in touch with the director, Bing Bailey. We spoke on and off over the years but it wasn’t until recently that I finally managed to watch the movie. I was browsing around Lovefilm one night, looking for a horror movie to watch which a). wasn’t crap, or b). I hadn’t seen a hundred times already, and there it was, right at the top of the list, just begging to be streamed.

And man, I’m glad I watched it. POAZ (as I’ll call it from here on in to save typing) was a real treat that I’m happy to recommend as part of my Post-Apocalyptic Movie Club. So please watch the trailer below, then click the link for my thoughts and a few words from Bing Bailey.

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Post-apocalyptic movie club: LIFEFORCE

220px-LifeforceposterTobe Hooper’s unforgettable 1985 horror/science-fiction movie LIFEFORCE has been in the news a lot recently. Based on the 1976 novel SPACE VAMPIRES by Colin Wilson, the film recently received a stunning blu-ray release through Arrow Video in the UK and Scream in the US (more about that in a moment), but it also hit the headlines when it was announced that a new TV series is in development based on the original Wilson novel. Sadly, mere days after the TV deal was announced, Colin Wilson passed away at the age of 82.

For those of you unfamiliar with the movie, check out the brief synopsis, watch the trailer, then click the link below for my thoughts.

A mission to investigate Halley’s Comet discovers an alien spacecraft. After a deadly confrontation, the aliens travel to Earth, where their seductive leader begins a terrifying campaign to drain the life force of everyone she encounters. Her victims, in turn, continue the cycle, and soon the entire planet is in mortal danger.

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PLASTIC JESUS by Wayne Simmons

plastic-jesusBy now Wayne Simmons should need no introduction. He’s a good friend, my industry partner in crime, and a fine writer. His new novel, PLASTIC JESUS, was recently released by Salt Publishing, and it goes without saying that I’m going to recommend you read it. But I’m not just saying that because Wayne’s my mate, I’m saying it because PLASTIC JESUS is an original and thought-provoking novel and it’s a damn good read. The book has a wonderfully realised setting (more about Lark City in a minute), and a cast of genuinely interesting (and hopelessly flawed) characters. Here’s the blurb. Click the link below to find out more.

Plastic Jesus grabs you by the throat. From the opening paragraph, without warning, it plunges you into a world of fear and confusion and visceral emotion. When it spews you back out again, you are left dizzy, overwhelmed – and desperate to read more. And it’s then that you take your first fearful steps into Lark City…

It is the near future, following a devastating Holy War. Once part of the US colonies, Maalside, the New Republic, now stands alone in the Pacific, separated from the heartland by 200 miles of salty ocean. Lark City is its capital, watched over by a 50 foot, pouting, stiletto-heeled and garter-belted ‘Miss Liberty’, a crude parody of the famous landmark across the water.

In this brutal neon jungle, Code Guy Johnny Lyon writes a Jesus social networking AI, to rebrand religion following the war. But something goes wrong; a virtual hell breaks on the streets of Lark – a violent, surreal and uncontrollable social breakdown.

Caught in this terrifying web of danger are Sarah Lee, Johnny’s co-worker, drug lord Paul McBride who is determined to exploit the chaos to wipe out his enemies, and McBride’s junkie daughter, a prostitute called Kitty.

Now, only Johnny can save Sarah, Kitty and the city.

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Recommended reading – ZOMBIE SURVIVAL by Sean T Page

By now I’m sure you all know Sean T Page. He’s the Ministry of Zombies chief who sealed himself in a nuclear bunker last May (remind yourself here). More than that, he’s an all-round good man, one of the lynchpins of Moody’s Survivors, and a zombie survivalist expert. How do I know that? Because I’ve just read his latest book.

Sean, cunningly disguised as Shaun, with his invaluable guide (photo: Grace Elkin - www.graceelkinphotography.co.uk)

Sean, cunningly disguised as Shaun, with his invaluable guide
(photo: Grace Elkin – www.graceelkinphotography.co.uk)

When I bought my first car I remember my parents proudly presenting me with my first Haynes Manual to go with it. I’m not sure if this is a peculiarly British thing… just in case it is, I’ll explain. Haynes manuals were produced for just about every type of car around, and they showed you how to strip them down and repair pretty much every fault you could imagine. Times have changed, of course, and with the technology inside our vehicles becoming ever more complicated, home garage repairs are increasingly less viable (to be honest, Haynes manual or no Haynes manual, fixing my own car wasn’t something I ever had any success with). So, in order to survive, Haynes diversified and began to produce all manner of other guides, from the Millenium Falcon to Thunderbirds via everything in between. You can see more at their website here.

zombie-survival-owners-apocalypse-manual-sean-t-pageEnter Sean and his zombie survival expertise. To coin a phrase, the Zombie Survival Haynes Manual does exactly what it says on the tin. What more can I say? It’s incredibly detailed, beautifully put together, and absolutely hilarious. From a section on the science of Zombology, to home preparation and defence, to weapon selection and use, this book is the only book you’ll need when the inevitable zombie apocalypse begins. There’s even an exam at the back to make sure you’ve been paying attention. Buy copies for all your family and friends this Christmas. Not only will they have some interesting reading for the holiday season, but you might just save their lives too.

Invaluable. Required reading. Get it now.

Amazon / Book Depository / Hive / Indiebound / Waterstones

STALLED

stalledIf you read my post earlier this week from Grimmfest, you’ll know how much I enjoyed STALLED, a great new British zombie movie. I couldn’t find any release dates (other than VOD in the US from 20 October), but I wanted to give you a heads up so if you see the film showing anywhere, you can make sure you catch it.

Zombie movies are, as we all know by now, easy to get wrong. There’s a tendacy to veer towards clichés and gore at the expense of the story (though I accept there are a huge number of folks who just want clichés and gore…). To my mind, the same is true of both straight-laced zombie movies and comedies (I refuse to call them zomedies, though lots of people apparently do). Okay, so you can have a laugh finding endless gruesome, slapstick ways to get rid of the undead (I’m looking at you here, Zombieland), but I think all zombie stories, whether being played for laughs or not, need a solid plot and characters you give a damn about to succeed.

I’ll be honest, I went into STALLED thinking I was going to hate it, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Watch the trailer then hit the link to read more.

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