The Endless (2017)

One from the to watch pile…

The Endless (2017)

Film: Occasionally, a film comes along that surprises you. I like to think I know what’s going on within the world of genre films, I read several horror news blogs and magazines, I listen to a few horror/ genre podcasts but I guess in a world where SO many films can be made SO quickly it can be hard to keep abreast of the releases.

Somehow, this film of UFO cultish, time-bending supernaturality completely passed me by!

This film was written by Justin Benson, and directed by him and his regular directing partner, Aaron Moorhead who previous made Resolution (which contains a theme used as a small part of this film) and Spring. These two also star as the lead actors.

This film is about Brothers Aaron (Moorhead) and Justin (Benson) who left a UFO cult ten years ago as he believed that they were on the cusp of committing an act of mass suicide which they declared to be ‘the Ascension’ and hoped to find their way in the big old world. Through this time, Justin has convinced the younger Aaron that the cult was a horrible place that was not at all full of any normalcy.

They mysteriously receive a video tape from the cult, and in the ten years that have passed, none of the cultists in the video seem to have aged, and Aaron wants to go back to visit, even though Justin repeated warns him that it is a bad idea.

They return but find that nothing has changed… nothing… and that the entire cult seems to be stuck in some kind of bubble of time that keeps them safe. The problem is, the bubble seems to be a trap set by some being who sends them messages by delivering the photographs and video tapes, or is it a trap… and are others caught in it if it is and is there a ‘something’ out there, or is the cult suffering from a mass delusion?

So many questions, and the answers are innovative and interesting and this film, even though its low budget and low-fi is a fascinating sci-fi/ horror that turns regular tropes of both types of films on their heads, with some decent acting, ok direction and a surprise cameo by Lew Temple!

This film was a surprising first watch, and one that fans of thoughtful sci-fi, not your mass-market Star Wars-y stuff, will probably enjoy, considering elements of it even seem to harken back to ideals proposed by Lovecraft of something bigger being our there and controlling us.

One warning though, this isn’t a gore-fest, special effects laden feature. If you are looking for that go somewhere else, but if you want Story and texture, you might just dig this.

Score: ****

Format: This review was done with the Umbrella region 4 DVD release of the film which runs for approximately 111 minutes and is presented in an average 2.40:1 image with a 5.1 audio track. When I say average though, it is more to do with it low budget rather than it being a damaged print. The print is fine, but it obviously wasn’t filmed with the latest in cinema technology.

Score: ***1/2

Extras: None to speak of at all.

Score: 0

WISIA: I actually think this film NEEDS to be watched more than once for a full absorption of its ideas.

Beyond Re-animator (2003)

One from the re-watch pile…

BEYOND RE-ANIMATOR (2003)

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Film: I have probably mentioned it before on this very site, but my very favourite movie of all time… not just horror… but my very favourite, number one favourite film of all time is the 1985 film, directed by Stuart Gordon and based on the work of H. P. Lovecraft, Re-animator.

I loved it from the first moment I saw it and it turned me on to the work of Lovecraft, and the gorgeous Barbara Crampton, and I really enjoyed the combination of zombie flick, mad scientist movie and actual drama about people’s lives.

At this time in my life I loved sequels too, but always prayed that they would never make more Re-animator films as it really felt like a cool complete movie, but Yuzna knew he was on a good thing so we have been treated to two sequels: Bride of Re-animator and this, Beyond Re-animator.

Beyond Re-animator find Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs) interred in a cruel prison when a young doctor, Howard Phillips (Jason Barry) takes up residency in the infirmary.

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Dr Phillips didn’t accidently end up there though, he deliberately sought out the place where West was imprisoned so he could have some questions answered about the death of his sister, at the hands of one of West’s reanimated subjects.

Of course, answers of this kind are easily found, and Phillips finds himself under the oppressive hand of an unpleasant prison warden (Simon Andreu) and an increasing amount of re-animated bodies, and that jail is not the best place to be trapped with them.

This was one of Yuzna’s Spanish created Fantastic Factory jobs, a company he was attempting to build into the new ‘Hammer’ in the late eighties and early 90s. A couple of good films came out of that, including the adaptation of the David Quinn/ Tim Vigil comic Faust and I don’t mind this so much either, even though it is pretty dumb at times.

Of course the highlight of this is Jeffrey Combs’ performance of Herbert West. He is the look down the nose, superiority complex king of mad scientists, for certain. The writing of his character lacks some of the charm of the first two outings, particularly the first, but it’s there, simmering under some below average scripting.

Unfortunately the co-stars suffer from a language barrio which makes their performances not bad, but certainly not quite ‘on point’. Don’t get me wrong, the prison characters are perfectly nuts, the warden deliciously evil and the love interest a feast for the eyes, but occasionally what they say just sits wrong.

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The effects in the film are provided in part by Screaming Mad George so you know you are in for somewhat of  a treat with some of the effects.

All in all is a fun watch, but its just not great, and honestly waters down the character of Herbert West. Having said that, would I watch another one if one were made? Of course I would.

Score: **1/2

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Disc: The reviewed copy of this film is the U.K.  Arrow Films DVD release, which runs for approximately 92 minutes and is present in a decent 1.78:1 anamorphic image with a matching 2.0 audio.

Score: ***

Extras: There are three extras on this DVD:

The Director’s Commentary with Brian Yuzna sees Yuzna himself talk about the film and its creation and is a fairly complete document of the film.

 All in the Head: Brian Yuzna and the Re-animator Chronicles  is an interview with Brian Yuzna about his career both with and without Herbert West. It goes for about an hour and is pretty complete.

There is also a trailer for the film.

The packaging is pretty cool though: there is an awesome The Dude Designs reversible cover (with the original poster on the other side) and a poster of the TDD cover as well. Calum Waddell has also leant his journalistic skills to a booklet which discusses the world of Lovecraft.

Score: ****

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The Whisperer in Darkness (2011) Review

One from the to watch pile…
H.P. Lovecraft’s The Whisperer in Darkness (2011)

Monster Pictures’ The Whisperer in Darkness DVD cover


Film: A discussion circulating the idea of ‘horror’ cannot be maintained without the mentioning of one particular name: Howard Phillips Lovecraft, better known as H.P. Lovecraft. Lovecraft is one of my favourite horror authors, though some may say he is actually a science fiction writer! I first discovered Lovecraft after watching the film ‘Re-animator’ and fell in love with the stories and style, mainly due to how different it was from the Richard Laymon’s and Shaun Hutson’s and James Herbert’s that I had been devouring.

As much as I love director Stuart Gordon’s film (as a matter of fact, it’s my favourite horror film – I think it’s the perfect horror film) and his other adaptations, I always felt the modernisation of them did the original stories a slight disservice… though perhaps I was wrong in that thinking.

The Whisperer in Darkness: Matt Foyer as Wilmarth


This film comes as a revelation as far as keeping to the time period is concerned. It’s kept very low key, so the anachronisms are kept to a minimum. First, the filmmakers had the idea to set the film in the year in was written with the cinematic style of the era (black and white with a grand soundtrack) and it’s a great one, the entire structure of the film feels like it was made in the early years of the talkies, though the clarity of the film reveals the truth. There is some great tributes to other horror films through the ages, and to the author as well.

The story tells of Albert Wilmarth (Matt Foyer) a skeptical literature teacher at Miskatonic University in Arkham who engages, from a negative standpoint, in a debate about creatures supposedly seen in Vermont after some flooding. He is eventually convinced to personally investigate after he receives letters from Henry Akeley (Barry Lynch) via his son George (Joe Sofranko) but what he finds in Vermont may actually prove his disbelief to be inaccurate, and maybe there are creatures… and their human supporters… engaging in dark rituals…

Even though this is a supposed accurate portrayal of the film, it does actually extend the short story to flesh it out, and theres nothing wrong with that. It is shot well, and I’m sure whatever Lovecraft societies exist would appreciate what the filmmakers have done, and there are some real clever usage of light and sound.

The Whisperer in Darkness: what’s in the cave?


There is some pretty good effects in the films, but the CGI creatures are jarring as they just aren’t very well realised. This is possibly unfair as it is a lower budgeted film, but still, they stick out as being fake and ineffective.

This film is one of those slow burn films, and that’s not necessarily bad as slower, deliberate horror films, like say, The Wicker Man, can be effective. The acting is excellent and as melodramatic as it should be to replicate the time, but perhaps Gordon was right in modernising the stories and adding boobs and blood ‘n’ guts to the unfolding events as this has not lopped Re-animator off the top of my list, nor does it rival From Beyond, another of Gordon’s efforts. It is a decent film and an enjoyable watch.

Score: ***1/2

The Whisperer in Darkness DVD menu screen


Format: The reviewing disc of the film is the Monster Picture’s Australian multi-region DVD which runs for approximately 103 minutes is presented in a good 16×9 letterboxed visual with an excellent Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track. The image is clear and sharp all the way through.

Score: ****

Extras: A cool collection of extraterrestrial extras turn up on this disc. The first is an interesting making of The Whisperer in Darkness which is amusing, and makes movie-making sound like an awful thing that anyone could ever want to do. There is also a trailer for the film.

Next is the short film, The Call of Cthulhu which, like the feature is done in the style of when it was written, so we have a black and white silent film, complete with title cards and almost German Expressionistic styled make-up and environments. The music is also melodramatic as one would expect. Even, the the recent way of doing things, to ‘age’ the film they have added grit, hairs and an occasional touch of telecine wobble. Sure this has been over done since the ‘grindhouse’ revival several years ago, but it adds to the atmosphere much more in a film that’s replicating the age… though all of the camera work may NOT do the same thing. There is also a trailer for this film.

In addition, there is a commentary performed by director Sean Branney, writer Andrew Leman and cinematographer David Robertson and is a pretty complete, informative and entertaining one.

All in all an epic bunch of extras with a pretty cool short film make for an excellent package.

The cover claims that their are more extras at the Monster Picture website (unreviewed).

Score: *****

WISIA: This was a grand attempt at doing ‘proper’ Lovecraft, but I can’t wholly see me watching it again.

The Whisperer in Darkness: disembodied head projection!!