Recommendations

The eagle-eyed amongst you might have already noticed this, but I’ve added a new page to this site which lists all the films and books I’ve recommended over the years. Head on over to the snappily titled ‘Recommendations’ page now!

And while we’re on the subject, I’ve got another interesting film piece coming up for you tomorrow (hopefully), and I’ve also got another 40 or so movies queued up to watch and review. But I want more! If you’ve got a particular favourite post-apocalyptic movie that you’d like featured on the site, either contact me or leave the name in the comments here or on Facebook or Twitter.

The Battery

THE-BATTERY-Movie-PosterRegular visitors here will recall how, a couple of weeks back, I was banging on about concept versus story and my argument boiled down to this: it’s all well and good having a great idea, but without a story which matters to people, your book or film will most likely go unread/unwatched/unloved.

Today’s Post-Apocalyptic Movie Club selection is a fantastic example of how that holds true – a movie with a deceptively slight concept which is carried by an excellent story and performances.

THE BATTERY is a lo-fi zombie movie. In fact, it’s one of the lowest lo-fi movies I think I’ve ever seen. It has a very small cast, a distinct lack of action, and yet I was captivated through the entire one hundred and one minutes. Here’s the synopsis and trailer. Click the link below for my thoughts.

Two former baseball players, Ben (Jeremy Gardner) and Mickey (Adam Cronheim), cut an aimless path across a desolate New England.  They stick to the back roads and forests to steer clear of the shambling corpses that patrol the once bustling cities and towns.  In order to survive, they must overcome the stark differences in each other’s personalities—Ben embraces an increasingly feral, lawless, and nomadic lifestyle—while Mickey is unable to accept the harsh realities of the new world.  Mickey refuses to engage in Ben’s violent games and longs for the creature comforts he once took for granted.  A bed, a girl, and a safe place to live. 

When the men intercept a radio transmission from a seemingly thriving, protected community, Mickey will stop at nothing to find it, even though it is made perfectly clear that he is not welcome.

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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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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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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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THE DAY

I’m on a mission to work my way through as many post-apocalyptic movies as I can and report back here with my thoughts (check out the tag Post-Apocalyptic Movie Club). This week a recommendation from reader Paige Topinka – 2011 indie horror, THE DAY.

TheDay.jpgHere’s a brief synopsis snatched from IMBDA group of five people working to stay alive in a post-apocalyptic future discover what they think is a safe, abandoned farmhouse, but they soon find themselves fighting to stay alive as a gang of bloodthirsty predators attack. And I’ll keep my thoughts equally brief, because that’s pretty much all there is to it.

I’m on the fence with this one… whilst I thought it looked the part (definite muted shades of the movie adaptation of The Road) and it established an interesting (and interestingly vague) post-apocalyptic world, the performances were pretty standard and the story felt frustratingly linear, very much by-the-numbers. I read elsewhere that the film is part of a planned trilogy, and I’m interested enough by this first part to want to know how the story pans out.

All in all, though, I found THE DAY to be entertaining, but nothing special. It’s filmed with a very grey, washed out and grimy colour palette with occasional flashes of colour, and that really summed the movie up for me: relatively formulaic, but with very definite hints that there’s much more to be seen in this rain-soaked, dying world.

The film’s available now on DVD and Blu-ray. UK folks can stream THE DAY on Lovefilm and I’d be interested to hear your thoughts. Any PA films you’d like to recommend? Please let me know. And thanks again to Paige for the tip!