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Sunday, 24 November 2013

Rock Band Vs Vampires (Clockwork Heart Productions Ltd in association with Abbas Films Ltd.)

I have to admit that I was more than a little intrigued when Malcolm Galloway, writer and director of Rock Band Vs Vampires contacted me this week via the fifth Dimension Facebook page and suggested that "I hope this might be of interest".My first thought was to think that his statement may be something of a bold and presumptive suggestion, after all many things come my way from all sorts of creative and enthusiastic people wondering if their work might be of interest. So I thought I would test this bold and risky proclamation from Mr Galloway.
I'll be honest in that I simply loved the concept of the name of the movie, Rock Band Vs Vampires from the very moment that I heard the name - but that doesn't mean my interest will be peaked any further than that. After all, it's all well and good having a fancy catchy name for ones movie but plot and characters are fairly important too. So after Malcolm went on to very kindly ask if I could do a little something to help promote his venture I thought the only sensible thing to do would be to find out more first...... and what better way to do this than one of Fifth Dimensions world famous interview-type features?

Malcolm Galloway - annoyingly talented
(FD) Ok Mr Galloway, tell me a little about yourself - and make it interesting!

(MG) I am the Writer/director/producer of Rock Band Vs Vampire. I  was the pathology consultant to ITV/Carnival Film's Murder On The Homefront, and am the lead singer/songwriter of internationally broadcast rock band Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate. I'm also having a go at acting – playing the role of singer William May in Rock Band Vs Vampires.

(FD) Hmmm, so you're one of those multi-talented people that get on my nerves with your drive, ambition and talents. Fair enough - anyway that's enough about you for now. Tell us all about this movie.

(MG) "We are making a feature-length comedy-horror film Rock Band Vs Vampires. Jeremiah Winterford, an old-school vampire, has had his mansion burned down and most of his clan killed by a rival. He is persuaded by his PA to move temporarily to Camden, the heart of the London music scene, to turn new acolytes. Sorcerer's Tower, a local unsuccessful prog-rock band find themselves invited to headline at the re-opening night of Angelfish, a Camden venue now under new management..."

(FD) Tell me more about this Jeremiah character - he's not one of those bloody annoying sparkly Vampires is he?!

 (MG) Jeremiah Winterford is an old-fashioned vampire who finds himself awkwardly out of place in a modern world. Forced to move from Winterford Manor following a torching by his vampiric rival Jako Van Zyl, Winterford and his surviving acolytes find themselves making a new home in Camden (London's musical capital). Where better for a vampire to hide in plain sight?

(FD) OK, sounds fine so far. What makes you think that you are qualified to include the London music scene as part of the plot? 

 Rock Band Vs Vampires is based on my experiences playing with a rock band in Camden (Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate), London. It is fairly autobiographical, apart from the bits with vampires, and the orgies.

(The rumour that my ears immediately took complete notice of what Malcolm was saying at the word 'orgies' have yet to be confirmed in the presence of my lawyers......)

(FD) So what has been happening recently with the filming?

(MG)  We are currently planning to film a scene where the band are trying to record a serious music video, but the manager insists on adding ninja strippers, leading to a row, This takes place on 24 November, in London. We'll also be doing a green-screen vampire semi-beheading and a few stunts on that day.

Yes people, that is indeed a removed testicle.....
(FD) Er bugger, that's today then. So i can't make it down from Scotland in time for that. OK, what about the future plans?

(MG)  Rock Band Vs Vampires is currently in production, and due to be completed by Summer 2014. Rock Band Vs Vampires is an independent comedy-horror feature film intriguingly combining the worlds of vampires and Camden’s music scene.

(FD) If you could sum up in one tag line your movie, what would it be?

(MG)  Shaun of The Dead meets Spinal Tap with a hint of Python.

(FD) Bugger, that sounds pretty good. Give me a quick name check of some of the places we might see in the movie

(MG) It will be filmed on location in iconic London rock venues, including The Underworld in Camden, and Hoxton’s Underbelly.

"Ok, who lost the testicle?!"

(FD) I bet you could tell me that there are some other annoyingly talented people involved in all this?

(MG) DOPCo-director/Editor – Raed Abbas. Raed is a Kuwaiti film-maker. His feature film Cut is currently in post-production, and is one of the first Arabic language action/horror feature films.The cast includes Dani Thompson, Gyles Brandreth, Guy Barnes, Loren Peta, Faye Sewell, Jake Rundle, Vauxhall Jermaine, Blue Jigsaw, Sophia Disgrace, Frankie Mae, Ami Lloyd, Chris Smith, Dick Carruthers, Amy Jaxon, and Malcolm Galloway.

A selection of information about member of the cast follows, thanks to the materials sent on to me from Malcolm. Any cast or crew member that isn't included is simply due to the fact that I need to finish this blog entry soon and get a glass of wine - so apologies to anyone I offend.

Once again, the rumour that you should pay special attention to cast members such as Dani Thompson, Faye Sewell, Loren Peta and Kasey Sfestsios plus other memorable acolytes should only be repeated in the presence of my lawyers.....

For more information about the movie you can find it here at


Faye Sewell (Anna Winterford - 
 – Faye has recently been Natalie Portman’s double and running down hills. She was born in West Sussex, grew up in Ireland, and trained in Los Angeles. Her first lead role in a feature film was in 2010’s horror film ‘Sparrow’.

Dani Thompson (Angelica Black) – Dani is a London based actress and TV presenter. She was born in Australia, but grew up in Norwich. She studied at the International School of Screen Acting. She has starred in many horror films, and is the producer and writer of ‘Serial Kaller’ (horror feature film in post-production). She has previously appeared as a model in all of the leading UK lad’s mags.

Loren Peta (Pixie Coldwell) – Loren is an actress, model and TV presenter, and former Australian soldier.  She is also  leading the production team for Rock Band Vs Vampires. She has previously featured in music videos (including the Arctic Monkeys and short films, including the award winning Badgergeddon.

Blue Jigsaw (Nephanaia)

Kasey Sfestsios (Eve Delacroix)

My Neighbour Dave (Sick Bunny Pictures) - A micro-short Independent horror film.

It's a welcome return for me in this blog edition to the wonderful and exciting world of UK independent film making. This week the spotlight falls on two separate and very different ventures; the first blog entry is a micro-short movie from some previous acquaintances of the Fifth Dimension and the second, a feature length music/comedy/horror production........I'm nothing if diverse in my selections.......

Some time ago I wrote a little piece on a fabulous micro-budget independent horror flick 15-05-08, which was produced by Nottingham-based low budget horror company, Sick Bunny pictures, founded by brother duo Nikki and Jason Chatwin.

Nikki is the writer/director/camera having a background in art and film education making many short films prior to the sick bunny banner.  Jason's roles include editor/camera with a background in music. So when Nikki asked me this week to have a look at their latest production I was intrigued to see if this fledgling company from the midlands were just a one hit wonder or whether they had produced another interesting piece of work.

Hmmm, let's see shall we?

My Neighbour Dave is a brief introduction and Character profile of Dave (Dave? no kidding, I hear you say) and is a persona that the company may well develop further in the future. At just 3 minutes and 53 seconds it gives the viewer the first glimpse of a what appears to be a very ordinary unremarkable young man, Dave. He looks very ordinary, dresses very ordinary and lives in what seems a very ordinary suburban house. We are introduced to this example of a beige suburbanite just as he collects a beer and sits down to watch some probably ordinary TV programme - what is it? The latest celebrity shenanigans, a music talent(less) show or possibly a some sporting activity where overpaid prima-Donna's throw themselves about and feigning injury in the name of football? Well no, because it seems that our friendly neighbour Dave has an appreciation of somewhat darker viewing material - in this case, something called 'Devils Farm - Hunted down by Satan's Minions'. Well OK I hear you say, there's nothing wrong with having a taste for horror and gore - after all, that very taste is what brought me to write such things as this and for you dear reader to read such things as this - so who are we to judge?......

However, Judge we may have to do. For it immediately becomes apparent as we watch the apparent off-handed and somewhat disinterested way that Dave seems to be viewing the violent material. When his girlfriend rings him up part way through the horror flick we immedialtey see that his disinterest isn't reserved just for the DVD he is watching, he doesn't seem particularly interested in what she has to say either....

Soon we see that that in fact Dave's beige and ordinary persona masks a more insidious and sadistic nature as we witness the parallels of what he is watching as we see the 'guest' that he has prisoner in his cellar..........

I love the way that viewing this made me feel uncomfortable and in some ways almost question myself about watching material of a horrific nature and what it really says about ourselves. Is the need for watching violence and horror just a way of reflecting doing with our own basic fears and horrors , a way of facing those fears through a harmless visual format? Or for some people is it possibly masking our very real desire to experience the very horrors that we watch? I'll leave that up people far more qualified and knowledgeable about the human condition than me to talk about that. 

All I will say say is that I enjoyed this initial character study of someone who is clearly enjoying the felling of teasing another human being to the point of sadistic pleasure. The clear message in the film that he sees people (or possibly just women) as no more than an animal to torture and exploit, for nothing less than curious pleasure is a theme that I would watch more of. That knowledge makes me very uncomfortable - and I like that it does that. 

At 3.53 mins in length we don't experience much, but what we do see fills me with hope for a future visit to Daves house. The film may be short, but once again as in 15-05-08, the lighting, camerawork and build up of tension is first rate.
My Neighbour Dave can be found on Youtube right HERE - Have a look at it and see for yourself.

Sick Bunny Pictures can be found on;
Twitter: @SickBunnyPics

Sunday, 17 November 2013

The Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1978) - Arrow Films Blu-ray review

BEWARE! This blog comes with another Fifth Dimension health warning: Remake - the word that should not be mentioned in my presence otherwise painful consequences may occur.
Available from the 18th November - mine is on order!

I mentioned (some may say, ranted) in my last blog entry about a problem or two that I have with franchises in horror. However, the dislike I have for franchises is absolutely nothing when it comes to the word that creates feelings of dread and occasional nausea in any self-respecting science fiction or horror aficionado - and that word is 'remake'. Whatever word one uses, be it 'remake' 're-invention' or 're-imagination' there have been some real clangers over the years - I've already mentioned Gus Van Zandt's  deplorable shot-for- shot remake of Psycho some years ago. I would also add to that; Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes (2001) with possibly the worst 'twist' ending in the history of cinema, the 2005 remake of John Carpenter's The Fog, Nightmare on Elm Street (2010), Halloween (2007)......and I've only began to scratch the surface, for this list goes depressingly on and on. Whether the problem is a lack of respect, a mis-placed feeling of homage to the original material, or simply a lazy attempt to cash in on a familiar title by the film company, it is difficult to say.

And yet, and yet....It doesn't have to be that way. A remake may not necessarily be the kiss of death for a movie, for there have been some that have not only matched the original (and often much loved) version but in some cases have surpassed it. In the case of The Invasion of The Body Snatchers (1978), we have the perfect example of the subject matter not only being respected by the film-maker's re-imagining, but in fact honouring it's fore bearer by making it feel as if he is continuing the story, not re-inventing it.

The original 1956 version was a masterpiece of anti-conformist storytelling exploring the paranoia of a claustrophobic inevitability for the future of the masses. Whether it was an attack on the terror of the McCarthy witch-hunts or the reverse, a veiled warning of the threat of the communist 'enemy within', it doesn't really matter. The fact that was a clever, intelligent piece of science fiction that could be interpreted either way was the genius of its director, Don Siegal.

The 1978 remake by Phillip Kaufman is quite simply as equally relevant as its illustrious classic predecessor. Though partly with its roots clearly in the book by Jack Finney, there is a distinct acknowledgement to the 1956 version. Kaufman brought a similar story of human fear and paranoia and transported those elements to a late 1970's America beset by mistrust and loss of innocence where his genius was not only to tap into that post-Watergate and Vietnam era but also to poke fun at the emptiness and vacuousness of the humanistic 'open your heart' Psychology of 1970's West coast America.

After reviewing the delights of the Arrow Blu-ray release of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 in my previous blog entry of excellence, I was  as excited as a pig in the proverbial when I received word again from the marvellous Arrow people that the next goody on offer the highly anticipated UK Blu-ray release of Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978).  One of the happy perks of blogging is being able to see the preview works, so sadly as yet I haven't got my sticky little hands on the full deluxe steelBook Blu-Ray set- lets just say it is on my list for Santa. 

So, a brief Synopsis.........

The plot of the film is cunning simplicity in itself. The film begins in deep space where we see some strange Jellyfish-type lifeforms abandoning their dying planet and drifting through space until they are carried to a certain blue planet - and specifically, the city of San Francisco. Here the lifeforms assimilate themselves into the local vegetation where they morph into a small pod-like plants together with a rather eye-catching pink flowers.

When health department employee Elizabeth Driscoll (played by the lovely Brooke Adams) finds the new flowers and brings them home, she soon notices that her lover has suddenly become strangely distant. Thus begins a strange and terrifying series of discoveries as she and her colleague Matthew (played by the legend that is Donald Sutherland) as they realise that people all over the city are seemingly changing in eerily subtle ways. 

As I mentioned (ranted) earlier, remakes of classic movies are often in something of a no-win situation, but The Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) is a distinct exception to that rule. By updating the social backdrop from the fear and paranoia of the 1950's to the fear and paranoia of the 1970's and adding to the recipe a delicious recipe of a venomous social analysis of the "me, me,me" post-hippy generation it is still entirely relevant. I was surprised when I watched it again the other day that the film's relevancy is still powerful today as it was when it was remade in 1978. We are still faced with a distrust of those in authority, perhaps even more so than in those heady days of Nixon et al.

Not only is Kaufman's direction and storytelling something of a masterstroke with the plot pacing and the stellar performances that he brings out to the two leads, together with a  classy supporting ensemble in the case of Jeff Goldblum, Veronica Cartwright and Leonard Nimoy as the condescending face of facile pseudo psychology. The director also pays a fond namecheck to the original film with a delightful cameo by the star of the original Bodysnatchers, Kevin McCarthy who reprises his “They’re here!” prophecy of doom speech before being swiftly done away with.

The Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a truly powerful science fiction thriller that taps into our innermost fears of not being able to trust ANYONE at all and that we may be entirely alone in whatever terrorists, demons or aliens that we may be facing. The ending of the film is as powerful and chilling as any, I repeat, any film climax in cinematic history. And that is not hyperbole.

Special Features
I read in another review that the extras provided by Arrow are plentiful but possibly on the unspectacular side - I disagree with this sentiment completely. In the list of extras there is something to please everybody's tastes. This mouth-watering deluxe Blu-ray set will be available to own in the UK in a limited edition SteelBook™ showcasing the original poster artwork as well as a standard edition case with newly illustrated artwork. Both editions will be available on 18th November and come loaded with a selection of classic interviews, featurettes and newly created never-before-seen special features as well as an in-depth 52-page collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film and archives interviews with director Philip Kaufman and screenwriter W. D. Richter and more.

·        The High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of the film is particularly beautiful, with the HD transfer perfectly highlighting the cloud detail. Yes there is a certain amount of grain feature in one or two of the dark scenes, however for me that adds to the overall claustrophobic feel of the movie rather than detracts from it.

·         Original uncompressed Stereo 2.0 audio / 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio

·         Optional English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing

·         Audio commentary with director Philip Kaufman

·        Discussing the Pod: A new panel conversation about ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’ and invasion cinema featuring critic Kim Newman and filmmakers Ben Wheatley and Norman J. Warren

·         Dissecting the Pod: A new interview with Kaufman biographer Annette Insdorf

·         Writing the Pod: A new interview with Jack Seabrook, author of ‘Stealing through Time: On the Writings of Jack Finney’ about Finney’s original novel ‘The Body Snatchers’

·         Re-Visitors from Outer Space: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Pod – a documentary on the making of the film featuring Philip Kaufman, Donald Sutherland, writer W.D. Richter and more

·         The Man Behind the Scream: The Sound Effects Pod – a look at the film’s pioneering sound effects

·         The Invasion Will Be Televised: The Cinematography Pod – cinematographer Michael Chapman (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull) discusses the look of and influences on the visual style of the film

·         Practical Magic: The Special Effect Pod – A look at the creation of the special effects from the opening space sequence

·         Original Theatrical Trailer

·         Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Nathanael Marsh [Amaray version only]

·         52-page collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic David Cairns, as well as re-prints of classic articles including contemporary interviews with Philip Kaufman and W.D. Richter, illustrated with original archive stills and posters

Saturday, 9 November 2013

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986) - Arrow films bluray release.

BEWARE! This blog comes with a Fifth Dimension health warning: Franchise - the word that should not be mentioned in my presence otherwise painful consequences may occur.

Let me be honest with you straight away on two separate points. The first thing that I need to mention is simply this - When I went to see this movie on its initial release at the cinema way back in those heady days of 1986..... I didn't like it. No, I did’nt like it one little bit. I felt disappointed and almost cheated because it was so unlike the masterpiece that was its 1974 predecessor in both style and content. In fact that disappointment was so intense that  I have never watched it since. “So this isn’t exactly going to be a favourable review is it?”, I hear you say. Well don’t be so quick to judge, I’m always willing to give a movie a second chance – well, that is except for Gus Van Zant’s shot for shot remake of Psycho in 1998. Nothing, I repeat NOTHING will ever make me watch that pathetic pile of pointless remake nonsense again. So watching the digitally remastered preview disc sent by Arrow films last week was the very first time in 27 years that I have seen The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. I was fascinated to see if my attitude had changed in all that time. 

My second point of honesty is that when it comes to horror movies, I despise the word 'franchise', I truly do. No, actually let me clarify that. I have no problem with a seminal movie becoming part of a renowned franchise, together with all the highs and lows that becoming a series of films can bring with it. Indeed, long-running movie franchises have frequented the business since the early Hollywood era - The MGM produced Tarzan films, The Sherlock Holmes series of films, James Bond et al have all been notable inclusions under the banner of the word that shall not be mentioned. Add to that some notable series of films from my beloved genres of science fiction,fantasy and horror have all notable franchise inclusions - in fact I would go as far as saying that contemporary horror is arguably more known for it's various collections of the word that should not be mentioned than for individual works in their own right.

So no, I don't have a problem with the concept of developing one film into a series per se. I do however have a problem with filmmakers who decide at the outset to develop a new Franchise even before the release of the first production. It seems that the desire, or ability to make an individual piece of work in it's own right which will stand on it's own two feet as a piece of art has become a rare concept for some horror producers. Instead, the preferred option in the past few years has seemed to be a conscious act to pursue the franchise option, after all, it is an easy way to ensure that the captive SAW/ELM STREET/FINAL DESTINATION audience will provide a truckload of money. I can fully understand the need to make make money, but it feels to me that there may lots of money to be made from purposely developing a franchise - but there ain't much soul in them.

I suppose that the point I am trying to make is that time and time again I have witnessed a seminal piece of horror and it's cinematic legacy being diluted by a series of increasingly  insipid follow-ups in the franchise series. It was my firm view for quite some time that the Texas Chainsaw movies had fallen into the trap of 'lets make money from the Franchise and screw the notion of making something original and innovative. Indeed, this was confirmed to an extent on the recent documentary accompanying the latest 'reimagining' of the Chainsaw films this year when the producers explicitly stated a desire to produce a new TCM franchise...... my heart dropped. The bottom line is that for many years, for me TCM2 was merely one of another tired franchise.

So, it could well be possible that my initial dislike of TCM2 and and a seemingly pathological dislike of the concept of the franchise might go some way to explaining my avoidance of this movie for so long. So this for me was the perfect chance to test whether or not my avoidance had been justified - because at the time, I wasn't the only one to find this follow-up a bit of a let down.

Family of the year - 1986
So what is the plot of the movie that galvanised views back then, and still stimulates argument amongst horror fans to this day? Well let's start with a brief synopsis shall we, in the words of Arrow films themselves......... 

"Relocating the cannibalistic Sawyer clan to a cavernous, labyrinthine dwelling beneath an amusement park, Hooper’s deliciously demented sequel sees Leatherface and Co. continue their murderous exploits afresh. This time around, local DJ Stretch runs afoul of the Sawyers when she gets mixed up in the brutal slaying of two youngsters. Meanwhile Lieutenant ‘Lefty’ Enright is hell-bent on avenging the murder of his nephew Franklin who perished in the original massacre."

A cult classic in its own right, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 serves up a heady blend of gratuitous gore, socio-political critique and jet-black humour – whilst Dennis Hopper’s unhinged turn as Lefty needs to be seen to be believed! Whichever way you skin it, Leatherface’s second cinematic outing is an uncompromisingly delirious vision from one of the masters of horror."

Hey there, sexy.
The word that stands out in that synopsis is the word, humour - this is a far more in-your-face mix of gruesome and black humour which is in sharp contrast to the original film which had a far more black, claustrophobic and almost snuff-like quality to it. Because lets face it, 12 years earlier the director Tobe Hooper had almost single-handed altered the face of horror with his seminal movie. He had a lot to live up to - and he knew it. From all accounts he was steadfastly reluctant for sometime to direct a follow up to his 1974 classic, instead wanting simply to produce it. However Hooper was unable to find a director firstly who he could trust and secondly someone who would work for the budget that was available and in the end he had little choice but to direct it himself.

As a consequence he found himself in the unique situation (for him) in having a reasonably good amount of money to spend and in the process once again surprise the audience - and surprise the audience he did. For it seems that he almost went out of his way to upset the general audience who (like me) were expecting something that was essentially more of the same. It would have been all too easy for Hooper to simply repeat the process and style of the regional in an effort to replicate its success, instead he wanted to do something different. For that he should be applauded. 

And do you know something? After finally seeing TCM2 again after all this time...... I loved it, I absolutely loved it.

Hang on Tobe, don't say cut...I'm acting here
I loved the morbid comedic stylisation and plot narrative that is quite clearly a product of its time with its explicit themes of 1980's politics, capitalism and greed. I love the incredible over the top performances by Dennis Hopper as Lieutenant ‘Lefty’ Enright and Bill Moseley as Chop Top. Whilst Moseley is suitably excellent as he brings his entertaining repertoire of manic insanity to his role, it is essentially the often maligned Hopper who holds the movie together as he declares war against the insane Sawyers with a little chainsaw-play of his own. I say 'often maligned' because Hopper in his later career was never afraid to go into 'manic acting mode', there are many examples of this. However, we often forget that he was amongst a whole glut of 1960's wunderkind actors who radicalised the whole approach to their acting craft. I never realised it the first time around when watching this film, but Hopper's performance despite, or possibly because of the somewhat cheesy dialogue is simply mesmerising. He simply owns this movie, chewing up and stealing every scene he is in  - sometimes with just a delicious glint in his eye.

The mistake I and many others have made over the years is that we refused to accept that TCM2 should be treated as a movie in its own right and in no way should be compared to its predecessor. The bottom line is that The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and TCM2 are two entirely separate styles of film which was a purposeful intention from the director from the very start. I made the mistake the first time around of simply not enjoying TCM2 for what is really is - a funny, gory, slasher movie that's only real intention was to entertain - and it does that in spades. Is this the Citizen Kane of horror? No it isn't. Is this the Texas Chainsaw massacre of horror? No it isn't. What it is is 100 minutes of pure unadulterated joy.

This experience of revisiting a film that I once despised has been an interesting one. The dislike for TCM2 has been replaced by a positive glow of appreciation for what the filmmaker intended it to be, and what is is now. Has it changed my mind about the devil within the franchise as a concept? No it hasn't. One small step at a time you know.

Once again, the bluray package that Arrow films have put together is excellent. The treatment given to the visual restoration is beautiful as the original grainy quality that added to the quality isn't completely lost thereby meaning the original atmosphere isn't lost.Overall, the improvements to the look and sound beautifully enhance the overall effect with a lovely crisp quality and clarity. The extra goodies come in a 3-Disc Limited Edition Set which include:

• High Definition digital transfers of three Tobe Hooper films
• Original uncompressed audio tracks for all films
• Limited Edition Packaging, newly illustrated by Justin Erickson
• Individually Numbered #/10,000 Certificate
• Exclusive Limited Edition Extras


• High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation from a digital transfer supervised by Director of Photography Richard Kooris
• Original uncompressed Stereo 2.0 audio • Optional English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Audio commentary with director and co-writer Tobe Hooper, moderated by David Gregory • Audio commentary with stars Bill Moseley, Caroline Williams and special-effects legend Tom Savini, moderated by Michael Felsher
• “It Runs in the Family” - A 6-part documentary looking at the genesis, making-of and enduring appeal of Hooper’s film, with interviews including star Bill Johnson, co-writer L. M. Kit Carson, Richard Kooris, Bill Moseley, Caroline Williams, Tom Savini, production designer Cary White and more!
• Alternate Opening sequence with different musical score
• Deleted scenes
• “Still Feelin’ the Buzz” - Interview with horror expert Stephen Thrower, author of Nightmare USA
• Cutting Moments with Bob Elmore – Interview with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2’s stuntman
• Gallery featuring never-before-published behind-the-scenes images
• Original Trailer


• High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition (DVD) presentation of two of Tobe Hooper’s early works restored by Watchmaker Films with Tobe Hooper, available on home video for the first time in the world
The Heisters (1965) - Tobe Hooper’s early short film restored in HD from original elements [10 mins]
Eggshells (1970) - Tobe Hooper’s debut feature restored in HD from original elements [90 mins]
• Optional English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
• Audio Commentary on Eggshells by Tobe Hooper
• In Conversation with Tobe Hooper - the legendary horror director speaks about his career from Eggshells to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2
• Trailer Reel of all the major works by Tobe Hooper


Exclusive perfect-bound book covering everything you wanted to know about Tobe Hooper, chainsaws and more! Featuring new writing on the director’s early works by Brad Stevens, an investigation of Tobe Hooper’s three-picture Cannon deal by Calum Waddell, new writing on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 by John Kenneth Muir, a look at the film’s long battle with the BBFC and an exclusive interview with Hooper by Stefan Jaworzyn, author of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Companion, rounded off with an appraisal of the highs and lows of the Texas Chainsaw franchise by Joel Harley, all illustrated with archive stills.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is out on general release on November 11th 2013.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

BANJO - A feature length British horror movie.

Peltzer has an imaginary friend... Unfortunately for him, it's Ronnie!
Do I have to tell you once again, dear reader, just how much I'm in awe of the scale of ambitious and dedicated independent horror filmmakers out there at the moment? Do I also have to tell you once again that the work produced may vary markedly between distinctly average and distinctly brilliant? While I'm at it, do I have to say yet again just how bloody jealous and frankly downright annoyed at the skill and innovation that many of theses indie film producers possess? No? Well it's OK, I'm not going to blather on about that sort of thing again, so don't roll your eyes there you at the back!

What I will say again is how lucky I am as a result of spending a year now scribbling my musings of self-indulgence on this blog, to be asked by some of these filmmakers to help in whatever small way I can in order to promote their work. Take today for example when I received a message from an Sheffield-based independent film company called SAFEHOUSE PICTURES UK asking if I could put together a little something for their upcoming feature length horror movie - Banjo. 

Now of course I can't say yes to every request that comes along at the moment as my rampant ego has already meant that I already currently have three other posts (new DVD reviews) on the go plus an overdue entry or two for my cricket blog - Well bowled, Harold, which can be reached HERE if you are also a fellow lover of god's own game as well as a sci-fi/fantasy/horror obsessive......and if you are then you have obviously as little life as I do. Don't worry, we'll go quietly but happily insane together. 

However, in this case, my unrestrained ego's interested was peaked not only by the plot outline of Banjo that that I received, but also due to two other reasons. Firstly, Safehouse Pictures UK hail from a city in England where I spent quite a few years of my life. It was a place where my children were born (yes they still of talk to me......) and where I still have many friends and memories. Though the memories are not all great as it never really felt like home, yet having left the city several years ago for a blissful area of the North East of Scotland though this exiled Yorkshireman still has some emotional link to the area.

Well it seems to be rather more than coincidence (unless I'm being as paranoid as usual) that since I left Sheffield the independent movie scene seems to have expanded immeasurably. For a start, a couple of weeks ago the city hosted it's very own horror film festival 'Celluloid Screams' at the Showroom cinema which provided a blend of the best new genre cinema from across the globe, a handful of classic horror films and extraordinary short films from the fearmakers of the future......and I missed it. Though I must give a public thank-you to Mr Lee Skinner for sending me the link and info to the event, though time and life's general annoyances (work, etc) meant that a desired blog entry never materialised. Next year, definitely. 

The 2nd movie from Safehouse Pictures UK
Add to that, new hungry film companies in the area such as the aforementioned SAFEHOUSE PICTURES UK which has been in existence only since 2010 after being formed by husband and wife team Damian and Nicola Morter (There you go look, more young, talented and jealous-inducing talent). The company's explicit desire was to produce both innovative and commercial feature films to showcase their talent within the UK. Their first feature film Bicycle Day was produced on a micro-budget of just £90 (yes I wrote that amount correctly) which shows that hard work and dedication through storytelling are essential ingredients needed to create an entertaining and thought provoking visual picture. From what I can gather, the film received excellent reviews and festival success..

Their next film The Eschatrilogy: Book Of the Dead (2012) takes the form of the contemporary fashion (and some may say obsession) for the zombie genre and is something of an anthology piece. I have yet to see this movie myself (hint - Nicola or Damian!) but details make interesting reading, noticeably a 700-strong cast instantly providing the film something of an  epic proportion. The film premiered on October 2012 at the GRIMM UP NORTH film festival in Manchester, and has has played film festivals worldwide, in countries such as America, South Africa and Germany. Yes the Zombie genre may well be soon reaching saturation point but I firmly believe there is still room in the horror world for good, intelligent Zombie-themed productions. However, if ever the character of Darryl is ever killed off in The Walking Dead then I may well change my mind!

Banjo will be be the next in-house Safehouse Pictures UK production, if funding of the £5,000 production budget is successful via their Kickstarter campaign - details of which are below. The company is supremely confident they they are able to make this movie on such a low budget, using the very best cinematography, sound design, editing, grading and producing that they pride themselves on. Dammit, they sound as if they know what they are talking about.

The third reason why I was keen to look further into this venture was the director , or rather, his recent career collaboration - but more of that a little later. Lets first talk more about the plot of the upcoming movie shall we? Sounds like a plan.

Lovable ol' Ronnie
The Plot: 

Banjo follows a bullied office worker named Peltzer, who is humiliated daily by his fellow colleagues and cheating spouse.

Once news about his embarrassing bedroom accident makes it's way around the workplace, Peltzer decides to put up with his torment no longer, and conjures up his childhood imaginary friend "Ronnie" through the use of a Ouija board.

Peltzer's world is soon turned upside down, as Ronnie attempts to manipulate him to exact revenge on his tormenting co-workers in the most gruesome fashion. In this twisted tale of romance and revenge. 

A short promotional trailer for Banjo was shot earlier this year based on the screenplay to help generate interest and the production budget for the feature length movie through Kickstarter. The trailer shoot lasted one week and was filmed on location in Sunny South Yorkshire in England.  

THE TRAILER can be viewed here

Just watching that clip - I ask you just what is not to like? Fine production, good acting and  a rather gorgeous Roxanne McConnell who provides in no small measure a certain amount of deliciousness to the part of the cheating spouse 'Deetz'. Add to that a prosthetic Ronald Reagan imaginary friend - what more could you want?

The youtube clip can also be found (together with extra behind-the-scenes photos) on this blog's Facebook page at 

As I mentioned earlier, the 3rd reason that my interested was stirred was the the director, Liam Regan and his recent working collaboration yet again makes me feel rather jealous, annoyed and impressed all in equal measures. For it turns out that just a year ago in the summer of 2012 Liam only went and worked with a certain Lord of the Troma film, Mr Lloyd Kaufman - yes, only the bloody creator of The Toxic Avenger himself! The most recent of Troma productions featured Mr Regan as a production assistant under Lloyd for Return to Nuke 'Em High: Volume 1 (2013) and the upcoming Return to Nuke 'Em High: Volume 2 (2014). If that wasn't enough to tempt ones interest then this year Liam found himself in a certain prestigious film festival in the South of France to take part in the production on the documentary sequel to Troma's All the Love You Cannes! (2001) titled; Occupy Cannes! (2014) which will be released in 2014.

Liam (left) with Lloyd doing a rear-lobotomy
on the Toxic Avenger 
Photo by Dan Moxon – © Cincest Films
So this guy is young, talented, has worked with a veritable god of cinema, has a feature length movie in pre-production and a sparkling career in front of him that may well bring critical acclaim, fame and riches. But is he really happy?........ 

The fact that he has worked with Lloyd Kaufman is impressive and annoying in equal measures as I was supposed to speak to and interview Lloyd for this blog in the earlier this year, but due to infringing personal circumstances I was unable to - bugger. Well it's never too late.

From my hours and hours of extensive research (well OK, I exaggerate slightly) it seems that the concept of Banjo has been Liam Regan's passion piece for the past few years. Initially having developed from a story, to a short film, the project is now in it's current embodiment; a feature length movie......So, let's find out more, dear reader whether Mr Regan can back this bold venture with a convincing answer to my probing and cunning questions.

(FD) OK matey, Impress me with some detail.

(LR)......"Banjo is basically a morality tale, in which the meek shall inherit the earth by gaining revenge and retribution over his tormentors. I've always described this project as Drop Dead Fred (1991) meets Basket Case (1982) due to the uncontrollable imaginary friend aspect mixed with the underground grand guignol stylisation..."

(FD) Well that sounds suitably good and all that, but what gives you the idea that you have what it takes in the horror field?

(LR) "........ I have been a fan of the horror genre since I was five years old, I would walk into my local video rental store and quickly navigate my way to the horror section. I instantly got goosebumps each time by just looking at the video covers, and being mesmerised by the art-work and the still photos found on the back of the video cases..."

Cast & crew of the trailer - but can Liam
really play that Banjo...we need to be told!
(FD) Yeah yeah so you grew up loving horror, but there are certain things I miss about some of the current movies that many certain others had back in the day - I bet you can't guess what they are!

(LR) "........ These movies were fun, over the top, character based, exploitation horror movies with an edge. They knew no boundaries, and it seems that in today's genre, everybody is trying to play it safe, and be everything to everybody, thus becoming a carbon copy generic shell of what the genre originally birthed. I truly miss the envelope pushing, twisted movies that I grew up watching. With Banjo, I want to bring back the sensibilities of the exploitation genre, and add a fresh dash of dark British humour..."

(FD) Er, bugger, you nailed that answer. OK, so what makes you think this project is going to work?

(LR) "........ With the cast and crew that we have secured for Banjo, we can bring this feature length movie to life on such a low budget. Working with Safehouse Pictures UK is a true blessing, because here you heave the heart of the independent British film industry. A select group of filmmakers, with like-minded beliefs and passion towards the horror genre. I was literally blown away by the production value on their latest movie The Eschatrilogy: Book of the Dead (2012) when I discovered the little budget they had..."

(FD) OK dammit, I'm hooked. You may as well reel me in.

(LR) "... I want to replicate the production value of the movies I grew up watching, with the heart of a truly independent film, that takes no prisoners and doesn't insult fans of the genre. If we're able to receive our principal photography production goal of £5,000 via Kickstarter, then Banjo will begin production in May 2014."

(FD) And finally Liam, could you give me Lloyd's personal contact number please?

(LR) .....................................................................................

(FD) Er Liam, Liam...... you still there?...........

So there you have it. It all sounds a rather promising doesn't it? I must admit that yet again, I simply cannot wait to see the finished product, I think it may be rather good. I think I may be waiting though for that telephone number, methinks.
This brand new feature length genre film only has 28 days to be funded via the crowd funding platform Kickstarter at the following link  RIGHT HERE If the team are able to meet their production budget of £5,000 by November 27th, Banjo will go into production in May 2014. 

Sheffield-based film company Safehouse Pictures UK can be reached HERE

To learn more about the project and behind the scenes information, please like them on Facebook and check out their official website: