Halloween parties are like sex: either a dark, lusty and twisted extravaganza enhanced by elaborate costumes; or an over-hyped and disappointing charade we do once a year because we feel socially compelled to. Helping you make yours the former, here is our guide of some new and re-released Horror DVDs to get you going.
The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue
The title really gives most of the plot away before you’ve begun. I sat down fully expecting a cheap copy of every other zombie movie out there, with visual effects rivalling those of the original Dawn of the Dead (some poor introductory camerawork, a trashy critique on city life and some full frontal nudity in the first five minutes). This was going to be a long hour and a half. I was, however, pleasantly surprised. In this scenario, the dead, true to form, come back to life, but this time it’s thanks to a parasite killer that uses “ultrasonic radiation” to make creatures with simple nervous systems attack each other. Now I’m not a scientist, but I thought most types of radiation were ultrasonic, however we’ll let the ambiguous science slip. Also troubling was the questionable ethical committee that approved something which could enrage anything in a 5 mile radius, but then it is just a film. Apparently babies and the departed have simple nervous systems, with predictable consequences. Quite upsettingly, they didn’t cash in on the mad baby swarm front. The eviscerations looked convincing, as opposed to someone bursting a balloon of ketchup (which has been tried before), and further bonus points should be given to the plot, as it held together well, and I did actually enjoy watching it, and not in a ‘it’s so bad it’s good’ way (think “Mega Shark versus Giant Octopus”). They had some nice self-parody with our protagonist stating that the dead come back to life only “in very bad paperback novels”, and some comical scenes involving boobs being torn off. What more could you ask for?
The acting was adequate, the effects and plot were good, but the camerawork could have used a little oiling, and the sound-man was really quite capricious. Worth a watch all the same.
_Jonathan Messing _
The Woman With Lizard’s Skin
If there’s one thing that the movie industry has taught us in recent years, it’s that movies can be so stupidly ridiculous that they can just about pass as ‘cult classics’ thanks to an equally stupid and easily amused general public. This is not the case for this bizarre 70s murder mystery horror, where the only mention of a lizard is a passing reference. That’s not to claim that it’s anything less than genius: with an eerie score to rival Psycho, blinding performances from the cast and twists and turns in the plot, Lizard is sure to be a great addition to your horror repertoire.
The trippy opening scene introduces our disgruntled protagonist, Carol, a corridor of nude hippies and a torrent of lesbian lust with a mysterious mistress. Needless to say this is possibly one of the most engaging openings I’ve ever seen and sets the standard for the rest of the film.
In a dream Carol butchers her mistress. Standard, were it not for the fact that the woman was also murdered in reality, which sets up a jamboree of questions as the whodunnit keeps you guessing. Action, suspense, and emotion throughout, it’s sure to make you leap from your chair in surprise at several points. My only criticism of this masterpiece would be that probably the scariest thing in the whole film is the abundance of unkempt seventies pubic bush on display.
Zombies of Mass Destruction
Cue red sea, cue zombie, cue blind man and 80’s text; I’m in for a good one here. The film in question is Zombies of Mass Destruction, a satirical comedy/zombie horror set in the small American town of Port Gamble. The main characters are the token gay couple, the hippie, the god-loving preacher, the fit Iranian girl and a shit load of wobbling, brain-eating, moaning, groaning Zombies.
When we first meet the Zombies, the thing that comes to mind is “Thriller” by Michael Jackson, then she/it gets pinned to a wall by the gay couple and a fire poker (insert pun here). After this attack it quickly comes apparent that Zombies are invading the town, and in true American form, it’s terrorists that are responsible.
As with most horror films, we have a scene like Big Brother, where several people who don’t match are trapped together in the church and can’t escape. After many arguments, more killing, more arguments and a bit of comedy on the side, the few normal people are rescued by the US Army. Six months later and all is well with the town re-populated, God bless America.
To be fair I quite enjoyed the film, its piss take of America and zombie movies in general is spot on, not to mention there are some fantastic one liners.