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Saturday, 31 December 2016

Award-winning creature feature HUNTING GROUNDS for a Feb 7 release. (Uncork’d Entertainment) - includes review.

Thanks to the trust and kindness of various filmmakers I am often in the lucky position of having an early access to view their work. The chance to do so usually comes with any number of veiled threats - often including ritual disembowelment with a rusty Pizza cutter from the roof of the highest building in the city if I was to share their work before the actual release. I suppose that's fair enough, thankfully I'm an honest kind of soul so it hasn't yet had to come to that.

This article is a case in point (the early viewing, not the ritual disembowelment with a rusty Pizza cutter) with the piece actually dating back to March 2015. Writer and director, John Portanova had let me have a sneaky preview of his new Sasquatch feature well before it was due for release - which was nice for two reasons. Firstly that even though i'm something of a real-life bigfoot cynic, I'm a sucker for a decent Sasquatch movie, I really am. Secondly, because the film also boasts an appearance from a friend of mine (no, he really is - you can ask him!), horror icon Bill Oberst Jr.

The film in question was originally titled Valley of the Sasquatch and it's basically a thrilling Bigfoot romp with a host of genuine chills. In September 2016 it was announced that U.S. distribution for the film will come from Uncork’d Entertainment and the film’s title will be changed to Hunting Grounds. It should be noted though that the film will retain its original title and poster art  in foreign territories. 

A couple of days ago I received this email from Uncork'd stating the following;

"Uncork’d Entertainment has set award-winning creature feature HUNTING GROUNDS for a Feb 7 release.

Winner Best Sci-Fi Horror Film at the Toronto Independent Film Festival 2015, writer-director John Portanova’s acclaimed film sees a fractured family forced to go up against an angry clan of Bigfoot.

Festival audiences and horror critics have gone crazy for the story of a father and son, forced to move to an old cabin in the woods after a devastating tragedy, who unearth a tribe of Sasquatch.

Written and directed by John Portanova and produced by horror label The October People, Hunting Grounds stars Miles Joris-Peyrafitte, Jason Vail, David Saucedo, D'Angelo Midili, and Emmy winner Bill Oberst Jr (Criminal Minds).

HUNTING GROUNDS available On Demand from Feb 7."

So in order to celebrate this upcoming release I thought it would be fitting to reproduce the original review, with a couple of adjustments; Firstly correcting the inevitable spelling and grammar mistakes; secondly, having changed the title of the film to reflect it's U.S distribution. 

So here you are with the 5D review of the wonderful 'Hunting Grounds'.

"After losing their home following a devastating tragedy, a father and son are forced to move to an old family cabin. Neither reacts well to being thrown into this new world. The son's attempts to relate to his father are complicated when two old friends arrive for a weekend of hunting. 
This trip into the forest will unearth not only buried feelings of guilt and betrayal, but also a tribe of Sasquatch that are determined to protect their land."

Well slap me in the face with a wet fish and call me Josephine. In the 2 1/2 years that I've been scribbling my self-indulgent ramblings here on this blog I had never actually written a piece on a Bigfoot type creature. That is, until this past week when two films about that very chap came along in quick succession. The first of them was the Australian version of the mythical creature, The Yowie, which featured in my previous blog article but one for the review of the marvellous Throwback (2015) which has recently found its way into DVD & Bluray here in the UK.

A few days after posting the Throwback piece I received a messaged from a familiar name to 5D readers (well, reader), that of John Portanova. Though if indeed this is actually the first ever blog article that you've read from me then just where the hell have you been??!!??!! Having said that, it's not too late to run away now, you know. I won't think any less of you. In any case, if you haven't read any of my quite remarkable scribblings you probably aren't aware of the two previous films that I've championed from John and the other main players in the Seattle-based production company, The October People. Both The Invoking and The Device were both excellent examples of complex characterisation plus an intelligently patient narrative - the former being a tale of supernatural terror, the second, a story of Alien abduction.

The message that I received from John saw him reaching out because his new film "Hunting Grounds", starring Jason Vail and Bill Oberst Jr, (another old friend of the 5D.....whether he likes it or not!) recently had its world premiere at the Nevermore Film Festival. In addition to that, the next screening is at the Crimson Screen Horror Film Festival in May. 

Now, not only was this Johns very first film as director, he was producer on The Invoking & The Device, but I know for a fact that he is also something of a Sasquatch obsessive so consequently the subject matter of the film is very close to his heart. If you add to that mix the inclusion of the fabulous Bill Oberst Jr. as part of an excellent cast (more of which later) then what option did I actually have but to accept? If all that wasn't enough, Johns cunning ploy of using the words  "I've enjoyed the writing you've done on previous films I've been involved with, so I would love to read your opinions on Sasquatch" at the beginning of his request, well.........Sneaky bastard - he knows I'm a pushover with flattery.

However, what John may not know is that while I may be something of a sucker (steady on) for a good old 'lost mythical monster who attacks overconfident vulnerable lost souls in the land that time forgot' type of adventure story genre - and if it's not a proper genre description, well it blooming well should be. 

The famous Roger Patterson footage
However, if truth be told, there isn't one solitary molecule within my physical make-up that actually believes in the reality of such creatures. That non-belief may seem something of a controversial statement to make to some people I've met through writing this blog........cough......, sorry, John.....cough......because there are many otherwise normal people out there that genuinely believe in this stuff. And who is to say that I'm right? Because judging from the seemingly endless books one online sources of sightings and statements, I may be outnumbered in my beliefs.

The fact is that I simply do not believe in Bigfoot/Sasquatch, the Yeti. Yowie or indeed anything of the like. Nor do I believe that we've already been visited by extra-terrestrials or intrepid time travellers. However, I do love stories about such things, especially well made and thoughtful stories. And so here I am.

Once again, The October People don't disappoint. For a start we have their now trademark appreciation of measured character development and respectful treatment of the subject matter. To begin with there is the nicely intelligent story of complex and fraught relationship between father and son.  As the father, Roger (Jason Vail) confidently conveys the feelings of a man who has not only seen his wife's life end but also is witnessing his own existence wither away into unfulfilled regret. His son, Michael played by Miles Joris-Peyraffitte provides a nice performance as the boy who sees his opportunities of an academic future being replaced by the prospect of experiencing the same banal existence of his father. 

In fact, such is the authenticity of their relationship, it somewhat reminded me of my own experiences with my father. Well, except for the moving to an old Cabin in the woods and being attacked by a tribe of Sasquatch, that is.

Once the pair have relocated to the dilapidated cabin in the woods we are introduced to the bullying and slightly unhinged friend Sergio (excellently played by David Saucedo). Added to the group of misfits is Will, Rogers' more successful brother who is played by the excellent D’Angelo Midili (The stellar performance from The Invoking). If that wasn't enough there are an inspirational couple of sub-plots featuring Bill Oberst Jr. as Bauman who experiences his own particular brand of excruciating encounters with the Sasquatch tribe and you have a veritable gluttony of textured characterisation. 

I really don't want to become overly sycophantic but Bill Oberst Jr's performance alone is pretty much worth the cost of seeing this film. It's been my pleasure to get to know ever so slightly this man who throws himself so much into a part that he often has little recollection of the experience. His role as Bauman is a tour de force.

Bill perfecting his best Sasquatch killing look.
So, the plan for our little group of social misfits is for them to go on a nice relaxing venture into the wilds for a weekend of hunting and drinking. What could possibly go wrong? Well, erm, plenty as it turns out. Because don't worry, you adrenaline horror freaks, proceedings get more than a little exciting in the third act as the plot quickly moves into a by the seat of your pants  'Assault in Precinct 13 with Sasquatch' scenario.

Hunting Grounds is the respectful and sympathetic treatment of Bigfoot-lore. This may seem strange thing to say coming from a confirmed Bigfoot cynic such as myself but that having my philosophy shouldn't mean that you don't treat the subject matter in a proper and respectful way. This considered approach in the film shouldn't really come as any surprise given the fact that John Poronova is a confirmed cryptozoologist and his inherent Sasquatch passions as such could have resulted in a story that lacked the required menace and horror in an effort to provide a level of authenticity. Thankfully, the horror comes at an extremely satisfying level.  I don't regard myself in any way an expert in Saquatch history, but if any of the stories told as conversation pieces in the film have any basis in history then I may have to do some further research of my own. 

Night time is the best time to catch the Sasquatch
What Portonova does do is to nicely provide the creature(s) with a more sophisticated mode of behaviour and doesn't just portray some one-dimensional blood-thirsty monster in the woods psychopath which some films of this nature have done. It's nice to see someone with a genuine appreciation (some may say obsession, eh John?) of a subject dear to their heart. 

The result in this movie is to provide overall an authentic and eerie Bigfoot. There is no convoluted CGI here so yes while we do have a man-in-a-suit the lighting & filming provide for the most part a convincing monster. I say 'for the most part' because there are a couple of occasions where the Sasquatch effect is less than convincing, but not enough to detract overall.

The only other negative gripe I would have is that  D'Angelo Midili's character seemed somewhat underused. Midili is his usual excellent self but the part itself seems slightly underwritten to my eyes. Once again however, but a small negative.

What we have with Hunting Grounds is clearly something of a labour of love for its maker. Contained within are more than enough thrills, chills and blood all wrapped up in an intelligent narrative. The acting is of a good standard, the story feels fresh and original whilst the action set pieces are simply terrific. I swear that the final hold-out in the cabin will have even the most hardened Sasquatch cynic on the edge of their seat!

More information on the company that is The October People can be found at

The Facebook page for Hunting Grounds can be found RIGHT HERE

This article can also be found via the 5D website There you can find a veritable feast of blog articles, news items, pictures and and other mouth-watering salutations to the gods of the geeks and the nerds. We have now inherited the earth, you know.

There is also a newly launched forum on the website designed for ANYONE involved or interested in the Independent film industry related to genres of Sci-Fi, fantasy and horror. Feel free to register and contribute - Everyone is welcome!

In addition the 5D website now has PayPal Donate button. Any donations kindly made will be fed directly back to help with a podcast materials, competition prizes and other general costs etc. If you wish to contribute to the exciting growth of the website & blog then we here at 5D headquarters would be eternally grateful. If you would like your contribution to be acknowledged publicly then simply send a message via the website’s contact section and we’ll send you some love!

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Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Baby you can drive my car - The 5D Top 5 Dream Cars.

I haven't been well recently, not well at all. In fact you could say that I've been as sick as the proverbial dog - I know, what an attractive image that image produces. Now before the Internet goes into a terminal spin with the knowledge that I've been sick and so resulting in countless (well maybe just a couple) women plus fellow pop culture geeks going into an emotional breakdown at the thought of no more from the 5D Universe, let me put your mind at rest. It was just a cold, mixed with a little minx of a stomach bug which laid me up in bed for a number of days with just my wandering feverish thoughts for company. 

I know what you're thinking - Just what the hell is important about this? Why should we care? Why can't you just get to the point of this article? Why don't you stop bothering us and stop blogging? ....... I completely understand, all fair comments, In fact all too regular comments about me if truth be told. However in the time-honoured tradition of flying in the face of all criticism and abuse I will continue boldly on.

The point is that while I was in the 'death throes' of illness and feeling more than a little sorry for myself (because it's all about me, you know) I started thinking about a number of things: Would the Doctor Who Christmas special be any good? Would Rogue One be better than A Force Awakens? Would The Walking Dead mid-season finale make me cry? Would Santa reward my begging letters? - As it turned out, the answer for all those questions was a resounding yes. 

There was also something else that I began thinking about, though I'm not too sure where or why the thought began, or indeed why over the next day or two it became something of an uncontrollable 'ear worm' to the extent that it soon became an obsession. The thing is, in my life I have certain irrational pet hates, you know, the type of things that shouldn't really annoy, but invariably do. The over-use and incorrect modern use of the word 'literally' is one thing that makes my blood boil for example. Another is the propensity at this time of year for all and sundry to produce their 'year best of' know, 'My favourite 10 pictures of food that I took in 2016' etc etc etc. God save me. 

However, in my pit of despairing illness it soon dawned on me that I too had fallen into the 'best of lists' trap, the details of which I'll talk about shortly. Earlier that morning I had decided that once I had escaped from the jaws of sickness and impending death I would get way for a few days and go on a road trip around god's own country of Scotland. The slight problem with that proposal was that my car is 'incapacitated' in the local garage over the Christmas period, in other words, I am without transport. 

In my fevered brain I started looking at websites  - I would rent one, dammit. The first site I came across, Turo had a very bold claim that they would have the very car I needed and one that I could afford. After perusing their rentals site at I thoughts they may be onto something. After looking at this car, The Aviato, I KNEW I was onto something - if you don't believe me then check out the baby at Hmmm, I've just realised that I have just gone and provided Turo with a tidy amount of free publicity - well, I suppose that it's Christmas and all that so a modicum of good will to all etc etc should be displayed........... Don't worry, people - my god cheer won't last too far into 2017 so it will hopefully be a swift return to my selfish and self-absorbed self.

I soon realised that leaving on a road trip was going to be unrealistic just now, and so I started to ponder if given the chance to choose and car/vehicle from Sci-fi, fantasy & horror culture just what would I choose? And so we return (eventually) to my list, or to be specific;


As you may have noted, the word cars in the title is something of a loose term as you will see.....

5) The Ford Club Wagon from The Texas chainsaw Massacre (1974

Those of you who me reasonable well will know that this film is my favourite ever film..... ever, ever, ever.

I'm not going to give anything near a detailed synopsis of the plot as any self respecting horror devotee will be at least familiar with the rudimentary elements - the other two people in the world can watch it for themselves. However, to basically sum it up...

Ever so loosely based on the true crimes of Ed Gein, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre tells the story of five teenage friends who are travelling across the state in their battered Ford Club Wagon. Their intention is to pay a visit to their grandfather's grave after stories of vandalism and desecration have reached them. However 'the best laid plans' and all that...... because as they travel cross-country to the homestead they chance upon an old run-down property. Here, they are hunted and terrorised by a chain-saw wielding murderer and his not so lovable family of grave-robbing cannibals.

Perhaps this film as much as any in horror history suggests that friends who travel together across desolate parts of the States in any sort of van are simply on a one way journey to Slasherville. The early scenes of the film featuring the travelling group perfectly sets the tone for the upcoming kill-fest, particularly empathising the already fractured relationships of the group. The fact that the confined filming in the van took place in an intense sticky Texas heat was bad enough. If you add the fact that Paul Partain, who portrayed the wheelchair-bound Franklin, and co-actor Marilyn Burns didn’t get on it resulted in a good deal of genuine argument and resentment.

Ahh, the genius of director Tobe Hooper, soul sapping heat, claustropobic filming conditions and arguing actors....... the van scenes perfectly set up the horrors to come. So while the Ford Club Wagon in my mind will always equate to the mass murder of teenage travellers - I want one.

4) The Star Wars Landspeeder

For those of us that experienced the first wave of the force back in 1977/78, we were quite simply blessed to be part of the whole insane adventure. Prior to the arrival of Messrs Skywalker, Solo, Vader et al, the science fiction scene in the 1970's was dire. Star Trek was nothing but a distant memory and the genre was wallowing in memories of well meaning (and some not so well meaning) B-movies. 

Yes we had Doctor Who on TV (thank god), but every other attempt at producing good science fiction television was either good but short-lived (Planet of The Apes) or just plain rubbish (most everything else). The injection that George Lucas provided to sci-fi was seismic in proportions and arguably the greatest revolution in cinematic history that can still be felt in the genre today.

To those that weren't around in those heady days it is difficult to explain just how exciting and new the Star Wars universe was. It was everywhere; in film, literature, merchandising, music. In fact there wasn't one facet of popular culture that wasn't affected during those mad early years which evolved into living through the release of three truly iconic films.  

All my friends wanted a Lightsabre, a stormtrooper helmet or a blaster..... Me, I wanted a Landspeeder.

Oh I wanted one so much! I truly wanted this car-like transportation which hovered a little over ground level whilst travelling as fast as an F1 car. Of course people tried to ruin my dreams by stating that the Landspeeder wasn't actually real, that the production crew disguised the wheels to create the illusion that the speeder was hovering.

Nonsense. It was real. I still want one.

3) Christine

When the master, John Carpenter brought Stephen king's story of a demonically possessed car to the big screen in 1983, the star of the book immediately became the star of the film.

Quite simply, the 1958 Plymouth Fury is a vehicle of genuine beauty. The car itself was a genuine classic of its time with only 5,300 ever produced of the V-8 engine which produced 290 horsepower and came equipped with the legendary quad headlamps, tube grille and lollipop taillights. As you may gather, I adore this car.

The film is quite rightly regarded as one of Carpenters classics, skillfully achieving the one thing that he needed to do to make the film convincing - after all, this is a film about a possessed automobile and the audience had to be convinced, they had to be scared. From the initial scenes where we first see Christine on the production line, the single gleaming red car inn-amongst the sea of plain white versions, the pleasing aesthetics of the car are immediately established. It's not long after, thanks to the deaths of a couple of factory workers, that the violent malevolence of the car is also established.

The car is the star of the story. Christine looks beautiful but there's never a moment when the murderous menace isn't clearly lurking just below the surface. 

Around 20 separate cars were used in the making of the movie after Carpenter advertised throughout southern California for any models. It is true that not all of the cars used in the film were Furys (the Belvedere and Savoy models were also used), the Fury is the model that still reasonates. Of all the cars used in the making of the Christine, just two Furys still exist. I want one

2) 1973 XB GT Ford Falcon from Mad Max

Star Trek has the Enterprise; Star Wars has the Millennium Falcon; Back to the Future has the De Lorean.... the original Mad Max film has the Ford Falcon.

If there was anything that was going to upstage that young upstart Mel Gibson (and just whatever the heck ever happened to him after this film?) then it needed something with a monster charisma that could fill the screen. I think that it's safe to say that the car in this film just about did that..... in spades.

Director George Miller wanted a car that could match the revenge induced viciousness of Max, so they plumped for the 1973 XB GT Ford Falcon. They painted it midnight black (of course) and then gave it matt black stripes and finished it off with a roof spoiler. Well I say, 'finished it off', because the final touch was actually the quintessential element - the supercharger. This addition was intentionally set up so ridiculously high off the intake that it became a nonfunctional item. - but who cares, because it sounded and looked stunning.

I want one.

1) The Time Machine 

This masterpiece was made in 1960 and directed by the excellent George Pal, who had not only already directed the first H.G Wells adaptation of The War of the Worlds, but was also responsible for a notable body of work with perhaps most famously, the wonderful When Worlds Collide.

The magnificent Rod Taylor plays George Wells (see what they did there?), who has asked one friends to attend his dinner party. However, George isn't yet present so, in accordance with his prior wishes, they begin without him. Not before long, a clearly stressed and exhausted George stumbles into the dining room and so begins to recount a quite remarkable tale of time travel and adventure. 

However, for myself and many others,  the real star of the film is the time machine itself. It is a thing of genuine beauty. MGM art director Bill Ferrari created the Machine, a sled-like design with a big, rotating vertical wheel behind the red plush seat, together with with a plethora of knobs and levers that is a attention to a detailers wet dream. It is a movie prop that has become an integral part of the wider entertainment history. Even those few that may never have seen the whole of this wonderful movie will recognise the truly beautiful design of the machine and from which film it comes from. It is a contraption that quite simply screams out Victorian Steampunk charm. 

If anyone was to give me a full size, half size or even mini-sized Time machine copy, I would love them forever. I want one.

This article can also be found via the 5D website There you can find a veritable feast of blog articles, news items, pictures and and other mouth-watering salutations to the gods of the geeks and the nerds. We have now inherited the earth, you know.

There is also a newly launched forum on the website designed for ANYONE involved or interested in the Independent film industry related to genres of Sci-Fi, fantasy and horror. Feel free to register and contribute - Everyone is welcome!

In addition the 5D website now has PayPal Donate button. Any donations kindly made will be fed directly back to help with a podcast materials, competition prizes and other general costs etc. If you wish to contribute to the exciting growth of the website & blog then we here at 5D headquarters would be eternally grateful. If you would like your contribution to be acknowledged publicly then simply send a message via the website’s contact section and we’ll send you some love!

If all that was enough to entice to 5D land, should any of you fine people out there wish to advertise on the 5D website then have a look at the offer below.

Saturday, 24 December 2016

The Forest of the Lost Souls (A Floresta das Almas Perdidas) - 2016


The bulk of this review article, namely the inane chatter from myself and the illuminating interview, was first published in a nostalgically warm month (Its now a perishing cold December) way back in July 2016. It was something of an unusual promotion article, namely that due to a request from the filmmaker I wasn't actually able to do much in terms of a review when talking about the film. This was due in the main for a need to hold off on reviews until the film was to be entered into the various festivals on 2017. Well it was certainly something of a tricky task - but I had a go.

Well six months had elapsed until I received an email just a couple of days ago from director, Jose Pedro Lopes who advised me that The Forest of The Lost Souls was  debuting at the Fantasporto Film Festival in February. In other words, it was time to put some review type comments down in print!

So in the time-honoured tradition of my wanting to save myself some work (or any if the chance permits) I'm re-publishing much (ok, all) of the original July article with the newly added review section at the end.

I'm in an unusual position this week of having been lucky enough to get an early look at a yet to be released film, thoroughly enjoy the said film, and yet not be able to divulge a word about it. Yet that is indeed the very situation that I find myself in. It's all the fault of JOSÉ PEDRO LOPES, who is the creative force behind a quite remarkable film, The Forest of the Lost Souls

José wrote to me earlier in the week via the contact section of the newly revamped 5D website at (go on, check it out! - there's a free hug in it if you do). He told me that he's a filmmaker from Oporto, Portugal and currently starting the festival run for his first feature film, a coming of age slasher movie. In the message he asked me whether I would like to look at the trailer for his yet to be released film. Well indeed I would and indeed I did. After all, he had me at 'coming of age slasher'.

It would be safe to say that I was a little bit on the impressed side when I sat down and watched the trailer with its one minute thirteen seconds of black and white visual splendour and evocative soundtrack. If you don't believe me then you can see for yourself right here at

In fact, so intrigued was I that I asked José if he would let me see the complete full length version of the film so that I could put a more complete article together (there's a first time for everything, I hear you say!). José told me that he'd be happy to send me a super-secret online screener, however he had one teeny weeny minor condition, namely that I wasn't to divulge to anyone just yet any major review details about the film. The reason being that The Forest of the Lost Souls has yet to begin its festival entry run and so understandably wanted to wait for reviews so as to accompany the films release.

Oh, OK I thought, this could be something of a challenge methinks, having never actually done a review article without actually writing a, er, a review. At first I considered putting in a few clever and cunning hints about the film in this write up. However I soon realised the problem with that plan was my complete lack of skills in the clever and cunning department. My second plan was to record a video review of the film in the form of improvised interpretive dance, that was until I remembered that I have the dancing skills of an Emperor Penguin on Valium.

So after much consideration I agreed to José's request not to divulge any details of his movie, I say 'request' because there was a definite undertone of him 'making me an offer that I couldn't refuse' if I disagreed. Thankfully I managed the conundrum of talking about the film without talking about the film, by skilfully weaning some information by some clever investigative questioning techniques with the man himself.

First of all, let me provide you with a synopsis

"The Forest of the Lost Souls is a dense and remote forest, Portugal's most popular place for suicide. In a summer morning, two strangers meet
within the woods.

Ricardo (Jorge Mota) is a sad old man, who gave up on life when his older daughter, Irene (Lilia Lopes), took her life in a romantic pact gone wrong in the glacier lake that rests hidden deep in the forest.

Carolina (Daniela Love) is an eccentric, unstable young girl who finds all things related to death are fun.

As bumping into each other puts them off killing themselves , they decide to go for a walk to discover 'The Forest of the Lost Souls' and see what they will find. As they walk deeper into the woods, they get to know each other and become friends: but one of them is not being honest, one of them is a dark and horrible person."

As I mentioned earlier, José also kindly agreed to answer a few of my piercing questions. Let me first give you a little information of the man in question.

JOSÉ PEDRO LOPES was born in Oporto (Portugal) in 1982. He studied Management at the Oporto Catholic University (Portugal) and film at Madrid’s Escuela de Cine Septima Ars (Spain).

José founded the production company Anexo 82 in 2011 with Ana Almeida with whom he has produced several shorts films in the fantasy genre such as «A Noiva» (2007, The Bride)«Survivalismo» (2011, Survivalismo) and the direct-to-web effort «M is for Macho» (2013)Their most recent work, the 90s-set coming of age drama «Videoclube» (2014, Video Store) proved to be a festival success and became part of the Mailuki Films catalogue.

In 2016, he directed his first feature film, the coming of age slasher film «A Floresta das Almas Perdidas» (The Forest of the Lost Souls). He was line producer for the Portuguese shot of the Austrian documentar «Brother Jakob Are You Sleeping?» by Stefan Bohun, produced by Mishief Films.

Besides producing films, José is also a journalist (most notably for Portugal's leading indie film website, a festival programmer (for FEST - New Films/New Directors and on occasion Shortcutz Porto) and an enthusiast.

He has created promotional and documentary films for entities such as the Porto Town Hall, the European Comission, the Museum of Transports of Oporto and Braga European Youth Capital.

Q) So, José, what are your cinematic inspirations?

I've been doing films ever since I was 12, and I've started producing short films back in 2007 with «A Noiva» (The Bride) by Ana Almeida. Growing up in Oporto I was very much in love with Asian extreme cinema due to Fantasporto, a very big fantasy festival that takes place here every year. Also I've always been a die-hard fan of John Carpenter. His take on storytelling, both as a visual, narrative and musical form, is a big influence on me and it shows in «The Forest of Lost Souls».

But in this film, I drew more inspiration actually from Japanese cinema, specially Keiichi Kobayashi's «About the Pink Sky» and Sabu's «Miss Zombie». Both are very moody stories shot in black and white that shift genres and the way we see stories. «The Forest of Lost Souls» crosses slasher films with a coming of age drama, and a bit of generational comedy.

Q) What made you make a film about a coming of age slasher?

I'm a big fan of coming of age stories, from John Hughes movies to books/films such as «The Perks o Being a Wallflower» and «Me, Earl and the Dying Girl». But sometimes they can be kind of lame. Often they have too much "be who you want to be", "go be an artist" kind of message - they become positivist to a point they are unnerving. People in this movies talk about books, movies, song and their dreams over and over.

So I wanted to take this kind of inspirational, nice film, and invert it. The two people who meet in this film don't talk about their dreams, but how much they just want to die and get over life. And even if for a while the movie walks the inspirational coming of age storyline, it eventually twists all that into a much darker, sad place.

This story was obviously inspired by Japan's Aokigahara forest. There are places like that here too - and in a way Portuguese and Japanese take on death are very similar. We're the country of fado music, the most beautiful yet melancholic music genre you can find.

Q) Why shoot it in black & white?

There were several reasons why we shot in the B&W. Actually when I, my producer and my cinematographer talked about filming, everybody was assuming it was B&W as we've always though of this story like that. Black&White brings out a lot of the textures and contrasts in images. This makes the forest a more isolated place, and more crowded with trees and rocks. The characters become more isolated from the background.

Also as this story is set in the summer, which is very hot here in Portugal, black&white allowed to make the far away background always overexposed and very white. The characters are a lot of the time in the dark - while the world behind is almost white.

Also as this is a very emotional, sad family drama in its core, black&white very brought out the work of the actors and their expressions. The movie talks a lot about suicide, loss and grief. I felt that B&W would keep the emotions on the characters and their feelings very outlined and exposed. So it was both a technical and a storytelling decision to make it B&W

Yet, at the Berlin Film Festival this year a distributor told me: "You made a black&white crossover Portuguese film? Could you have me it more difficult to sell?".

Q) When and where are you releasing it on the circuit?

I've just now started to send it to festivals, hopefully to premiere it before the end of the year. I guess 2017 will be mostly festivals, but I'm looking into commercial circuits where this kind of movie could get release. I'm still figuring it out.
Q) What are your future plans?

I've a production company based in Oporto, Portugal called Anexo 82. We've been making movies since 2012, and this is our first feature. We're already working on several other projects, our and from others, but we do hope we can make more feature length fiction in the future. Maybe a happy film next time

I would like to thank José for kindly giving me some of his time. I know that I'm not allowed to divulge any review details of The Forest of the Lost Souls. All I will say at this point is that I loved it. Hopefully José won't be sending the boys round with a horses head for my bed with that revelation.........
You can find out more about José and his film at the following links:

The Forest of the Lost Souls website -

His production company, Anexo 82 can be found at

The film's Facebook page can be found at


The Forest of the lost Souls is a beautifully atmospheric and emotionally charged piece of cinema, enhanced in no small part by the performances of it's main cast, the incredible black & white cinematography and evocative soundtrack. 

 For a start the film looks quite wonderful, shot in the Caramulo mountains in the centre of Portugal and in Spains Sanabria lake region the viewer is rewarded with vistas and landscapes of breathtaking quality. The visual feel is further amplified by the inspired decision to make the movie in black and white. Jose said in his interview that his intention was to exemplify many of the textures and contrasts in the film's images. He wanted to make the forest a seem an even more isolated place, apart from the abundance of tree and rocks, serving to make the characters become more isolated from the background. Shooting the film in black and white he was sure would do this.

It's safe to say that he has succeeded completely, black and white photography when used correctly can add technical and narrative dimensions to the feel of a film that colour simply cannot do. The skillful way in which the film begins with bright well-lit scenes and then mirrors the progressive darker narrative as it advances to a similarly darker visual look is excellent. This is not to say that the film wouldn't have worked as a colour production, because I'm sure it would, however the black and white effect adds a technical and emotional depth of real quality.

Yes, this is a story of an ageing man who meets a young girl in the forest, both of whom have gone there with the intention of committing suicide - so it's pretty safe to say that this is a story of tortured emotional isolation and desolation. In other other words, there isn't much here for the Pop idol or Glee generation of superficial sugary happiness. Though that doesn't mean to say that that are no moments of humour on show in this film, because there are - black and biting perhaps, but humour nonetheless as the bond between the two unearths two pasts full of similar emotional contradictions.

For those who like their horror without intelligence but prefer unadulterated blood-soaked gore upon gore (and yes there is a time and place for that sort of horror experience) then The Forest of the Lost Souls may not be for you. 

There is indeed a degree of murderous violence (this a slasher film after all), however this arrives after some wonderful exchanges of dialogue and story telling between the main protagonists. There is a genuine depth of emotion on show here with sadness, remorse, anger and an overall lack of hope filtering from the actions and conversations between the characters. 

At times it's intense stuff.This serves to explore some fascinating philosophical themes about love, loss and the desire to end the struggle of life. 

Now don't get me wrong, whilst there are the inevitable references to the likes of Nietzsche et al, the film doesn't overly prevaricate on such themes - unlike some movies of this nature which seem more intent on contemplating their own navel instead on concentrating on important matters....such as being a good horror story. 
No, because before one realises what has happened the increasingly dark twists and turns swiftly transport you into a world of violence and pain - very nice!

As I mentioned earlier, the acting on show is of the highest quality, with newcomer Daniela Love as the deliciously unstable Carolina showing a depth of performance that belies her lack of experience.

A special mention too must also go to the fabulous soundtrack in this film. Even if Jose hadn't said in his interview that the likes of John Carpenter, whose enduring genius has been to incorporate music as a visual and narrative enhancement, has been an influence on his work well it would have been obvious here. 

The soundtrack for The Forest of the Lost Souls is quite simply stunning, with the noticeable inclusions of songs by the likes of Cyberbully Mom club who's 'March 1st' features in the final act of the film and also the catchy summer song «Beach Bummer» by No Vacation  which is featured in a particular important moment.

Hann Cassady
Perhaps the standout musical element though comes from Hann Cassady, whose song 'Smoke Break' features in the film's trailer RIGHT HERE. Hann is a singer/songwriter recently relocated to the east coast from her hometown of Chicago, Illinois. She has released three EPs: 'Okay', 'American Spirit' and 'Love Bites'. She is currently working on her first LP.

It's a perfect soundtrack for a coming of age slasher film!

So if you like your slasher films to be thoughtful, intelligent, dark, twisted and violent - then The Forest of the Lost Souls is just the remedy for the standard coming of age films that we normally have to endure!

The Forest of the Lost Souls (A Floresta das Almas Perdidas) is debuting at the Fantasporto - Oporto International Film Festival in February 2017.

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