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Thursday, 24 July 2014

Apocalyptic Conservatory Studios: 2 Careful Owners & Makeover - two film shorts by Mike Tack


There are some things that I adore about life in general; Helena Bonham Carter, red wine, the music of The Libertines, cricket and the films of Terry Gilliam. In the genre of Horror, there are also a number of things that I adore; H P Lovecraft, Stephen King, Adrienne Barbeau, the films of John Carpenter and the Hammer House of Horror - not to mention an arguably unhealthy obsession with The Wicker Man (1973) and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974).

The sub-genre of so-called torture horror (also known by a less flattering term as 'torture porn') has never really played a large part within my personal horror landscape of adoration. There are no high browed elitist explanations for this, It's just that movies such as Saw and it's ilk haven't historically been my horror bag, man.

So when El Presidenti Andy, of UK Horror Scene put the following message up the site's Facebook page earlier this week, my interest was peeked straight away;

"Hi All.

Anyone want to review a brand new UK horror short (15 mins) called 2 careful owners by Mike Tack . It is the follow up to last years great (wait for it) One Careful Owner. You will get a chance to see and review it before it hits the Festival Circuit . Let me know below if interested."

Now, that message to most people would read as being rather reasonable in nature. However, they would be wrong, very very wrong. Hence the reason for my peeked interest. For you see, I saw it as the veiled message, some may say threat, that it actually was. You see, Andy, I've mentioned before, runs UKHS with a fist of iron and a level of autocratic control that would make certain historical world leaders want to sit down and take copious notes on his methods of controlling his writers. For example, he regularly keeps his team of writers chained in the basement of his house and fed only through a trap door when the odd batch of raw beef from his local butcher is thrown down with the accompanying request to "write some horror reviews you scummy lot!". At least I think that it's beef.

Anyhoo, I knew for a fact that the message he wrote had an altogether different sub text and one which he knew only I would recognise. BTW, this is not a case of paranoia - the doctors have said I'm cured of that now.

The real message actually read as follows;

"Oy, Anderson matey boy.

Seeing as I let you out of the basement after that unpleasant incident after the fight over the last raw sausage with the rest of the boys, only on the proviso that you promise to write an article for me of my choosing - well the time has come for you to pay up my old mucker.
You are required to write one of your excuses for an article and try your best to review  a brand new UK horror short (15 mins) called 2 Careful owners by Mike Tack . It is the follow up to last years great (you're a bit thick, I know matey boy, but try and work it out) One Careful Owner. 

This Mike Tack chap seems to really know what he's doing, he only started writing and directed recently. He was at last years Frightfest and decided to stop saying he was going to make a short film and actually do it. Just two weeks later he had filmed his first short – The Domestic.  I know it's all a bit annoying that he's rather good at this stuff, but just suck it up and try not to let your usual feelings of inadequacy and inferiority at your own existence cloud your opinions.

So I want to you pull your finger out and firstly watch the original  which is on youtube for free - just search for miketackfilms and you will find it. I know that you think you're above this type of  sub-genre with your 'classic horror this and classic horror that preaching' - and if you think I wrote that bit in the tone of your whining six year old girly voice, you were spot on.

Believe you me, One Careful Owner was one hell of a 12 minutes , and I don’t want to go into too much detail as it fits a lot in the short run time. But expect some really good gore with brilliant FX and a brutal and ruthless conclusion. The acting is very good, the story interesting and after it was over it left me wanting more which is the sure sign of quality.

Now Anderson matey boy - the next bit of my 'request' is VERY important. I want you to review the follow up, 2 Careful Owners. It will be one of the first reviews before the film does the festival rounds in the next year, so I'm sending you a super secret youtube link so you can watch the movie and then give us your, ahem, thoughts on it. You must on no account pass on the super secret youtube link because by its very nature of being a super secret youtube link, it means it's pretty secret. Got that matey, boy? If for some reason you feel the urge to pass on the link to a 3rd party, then I'll have to tell you what - or rather who - is really in that meat I feed you and the rest of the writers. You must also on no account give away any spoilers. If you do you may end up like one-fingered Larry, whose writing pace has certainly suffered after the 9 spoilers from his last article.

Now on you go and try not to muck things up. Again."

And do you know what? The original was everything that Andy Boss-man said it was, an excellently paced and produced short film. Yes, certainly not for the squeamish, but certainly not a case of putting Gore ahead of acting quality and production. I liked it. In fact, I liked it a lot.

So it was with a little less degree of trepidation that I accessed the super secret youtube link and sat down to experience the next instalment of hammer time.

Having provided crooked car dealer Terry (Clive Ashenden) a rather painful lesson in not selling faulty cars to the likes of his now dead wife, Chris (Richard Nock) now continues his quest for bloody and gory revenge. Thanks to some brief but clever inserts of back story we learn that the death of Chris's wife has a far more complex undertone than first seems. This time he finds that he has a particularly vile villain that he needs to spend some quality time with.

The very understandable instructions I was given in regard to spoilers weren't really needed if truth be told, as I find it a particularly annoying habit of some reviewers who seem unable to resist revealing all and sundry of movie plot. Even reviewers who think they're being clever in saying such gems as "There are twists, but I won't reveal what they are" still annoy me beyond belief. Think about it, Einstein, by saying there are plots twists kind of tells me to expect, oh I don't know, plots twists! Fools.

As a consequence, I don't usually find it too difficult to ignore the lure of a spoiler, though the running time of 15 minutes for 2 Careful Owners does make it a little more problematic than usual. However, what I will say is that a for a brief running time of just a quarter of an hour, the film still manages to answer a whole plethora of questions.

Will we begin to discover the ugly truth about what lies behind the facade of Hammer motors and the conspiracy that it hides? Will we find out who is to blame for the death of Chris' wife and will they face retribution and be held accountable for their actions? Finally, will the viewers of this movie be able to endure more scenes of bloody, gory pain? Maybe.

Yes there are scenes of gory turn-your-face-away-from-the-screen intensity that will satisfy anyone who loves a serous quota of the stuff in their horror experience. What sets 2 Careful owners apart from others of the same ilk is the same quality of acting, pacing and editing of the story that took place in part one. 

The acting in particular is surprisingly good (not something that could be said for all Indie shorts). Messrs Knock, Ashenden and Neil Martin are especially notable.

It would have been too easy for Mike to have tried to pack as much shock value and inventive yet complicated scenes of violence into his 15 minutes at the expense of simply keeping it normal, something that all too many similar genre films also like to ignore.  

It is good to see that he resisted the trap. Because the skill of this production essentially is to place the characters in situations that we can all identify with, and in places that most of us will have been in at some points in our life. You could say that the situations are distinctly run-of-the-mill. The effect is to make the viewer feel as if we are actually included in the scene, albeit as an unwilling observer hiding and skulking in a darkened corner of the garage and knowing if we make a sound we be the next in line for the hammer.....

Has 2 Careful owners changed my mind about torture horror? Well time will tell, especially if there are further stories of this quality of production. I will freely admit that I thoroughly enjoyed this.

Oh and btw, watch and listen out for the rather fine closing credits when you get to see the movie, there is a distinct retro and groovy themed section of music. Nice.

You can access the company's Facebook page at

Mike's Twitter account thingy can be tweeted at @MikeTackFilms

The link to the marvellous horror website UKHS, where this piece appears can be located RIGHT HERE


Part one of this piece of blogging wonder appeared in UKHS a couple of days ago, for which Mike Tack then made two very grave mistakes. Firstly he made it quite clear that he liked my article that appeared on Andy's most excellent of horror websites, thereby inflating my already extensive ego. Secondly, Mike not only followed me back on Twitter but also sent me a personal friend request on Facebook - big mistake. Obviously I'll leave it up to time and experience for him to realise what a fundamental error of judgement it will inevitably turn out to be. Poor guy.

Anyhoo, Mike was kind enough (some may call it stalking) to send me a message on FB saying thanks again for the review and had noticed in my profile (some may call it self indulgent waffle) that I was practically raised on Hammer films. This will come as no surprise to my reader who will know from previous ramblings (ad nausea) that the eponymous horror production company had indeed provided me not only with my formative horror experiences, but other formative experiences too from the likes of Ingrid Pitt, Maddie Smith et al. However, maybe the less said about the latter formative experiences the better.

It turns out that Mike also has soft spot for Hammer & monster movies and so sent me a link to a very short film that he recently made, thinking that I may well like it. The movie in question is called Makeover and it certainly does deal with the theme of a Monsters, or to be more specific, the very real monsters that might (well according to Mike's obviously twisted mind) literally lie beneath the surface of some of us. He was quite correct, I did indeed like it.

The film has a running time of 3mins 15 secs so you'll forgive me for not going into any deep nuance of plot. Suffice to say, the production quality, camerawork and editing which made 2 Careful Owners stand out is more than on show here too - a fact that belies the simply unbelievable cost to make the film of just £425. Makeover was made as Mike's entry to the abc's of death 2 competition in 2013 which featured 26 alphabet-inspired methods in which to depart this mortal coil, from a whole heap of horror filmmakers. Yes well done, Einstein - M was for Makeover.

It is a very enjoyable and clever 3 minutes or so with an interesting and well put together premise in regard to what really lies beneath the facade some (or indeed all) of the people who profess to know better in order to run our lives - no I'm not talking about celebrity cook's (though those bastards are certainly not to be trusted), I'm talking about politicians. You may watch Makeover and never look at David Cameron et all quite in the same way again, or it simply may confirm suspicions that many of us have often had about anyone who wishes to spend their existence in seats of power, telling others what to do.

The film is also going to be included in a compilation called World of Death coming this year . 'Hmmm, what is this World of Death that you speak of, Stuey?" Well, I will actually be putting together a piece on the project in the very near future. However, for now I won't say too much as release dates and even teaser trailers haven't yet been released by director and co-founder of World of Death. The plan as I understand is to bring together the talent of over 200 filmmakers from 25 different countries in a compilation of short horror films that will terrorise, astonish, disturb, and excite genre fans across the globe.The idea of bringing a whole collection of Independent talent together is frankly mouth watering. Watch this space for more information.

I'll leave it up to you to decide for yourself about the excellent Makeover, as the YouTube link for is below for you to enjoy - don't worry, it's not a super duper secret link - so you're probably safe.......for now.

Makeover (C) Mike Tack films

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