Dog Soldiers (2002)

Soldiers vs werewolves… need I say more  

A routine military exercise turns into a nightmare in the Scotland wilderness.

Directorial debut from the formidable Neil Marshall, who would later hatch the iconic cave dwelling claustrophobic creeper film The Descent, delivers his initial calling card with low budget creature feature, Dog Soldiers.

I admired this plain and simple story of werewolves. Rather then delving into mythology and lore, Marshall’s characters bypass their denial and do what soldiers do best – eliminate the threat. Marshall perfectly encapsulates suspense, comedy and gore in this action packed horror, indeed being quite heavy on the action side. The film is surprisingly genuinely funny, the mateship between the soldiers feels true and the banter is comically genius. All the while, the movie never flounders, keeping its horrific edge as we witness guts sprawled and buckets of blood.

Due to the small budget Marshall keeps his well designed and thankfully non CG man dogs hiding in the shadows for the majority of the movie. Only revealing their truly terrifying form in flashes of gunfire, and truly terrifying they are at their full 9ft stance.

There is a touch of shabbiness to the film, but it bodes well with the energy and wit of Dog Soldiers. The dialogue is brilliantly playful and the characters are tremendously likeable, I could personally watch Sean Pertwee recite the alphabet and find it engaging.

8.0 / 10

“If Little Red Riding Hood should show up with a bazooka and a bad attitude, I expect you to chin the bitch!”


Deathgasm (2015)

So it turns out Death Metal really is the siren song for the underworld…

Two teenage boys unwittingly summon an ancient evil entity by delving into black magic while trying to escape their mundane lives.

Deathgasm (yes, you read that word correctly) is a heavy metal themed horror comedy from New Zealand. This low budget gem is Jason Lei Howdon’s directorial debut, and what an insane calling card this was.

Reminiscent of early Sam Raimi work, there are plenty of Evil Dead vibes in this throwback to old school grindhouse horror. It’s not an entirely new premise, we’ve seen it before, the “accidental summoning of the worlds biggest baddest demon” story, except in this case the characters are totally refreshing. We have Brodie (Milo Cawthorne) and Zakk (James Blake) our resident metal head teens who like to quote phrases like “Death to False Metal” and hang around in Brodie’s uncles garage coming up with grotesque sounding band names. Which brings us to the other half of the band, Dion (Sam Berkley) and Giles (Daniel Cresswell), their names alone paint the picture of their preferred school lunch time activity; Dungeons and Dragons.

The script delves into gloriously gory moments, while at the same time remaining genuinely funny. The tongue in cheek nature of the narrative allows for some pretty goofy humour, which makes the film easily immediately re-watchable.

For Deathgasm it really is the fun prosthetic makeup design that comes through as the winner. Leading man Cawthorne’s performance was at times sub par and for such a funny script his comedic timing and delivery just felt a little off. Fortunately, the Deathgasm supporting cast is strong – a certain scene involving decapitating an already headless body had me in absolute stitches and led me to rewinding the scene back several times to rid myself of giggles.

An annihilation of blood and guts, Deathgasm is a chaotic 86 minutes of heavy metal mayhem, with enough giddy glee to satisfy genre aficionados.

8.5 / 10

“DEATHGASM. All spelt in capitals. Lower case is for pussies”

Howl (2015)

I have had it with these motherfucking werewolves, on this motherfucking train.

 A late night train full of passengers breaks down en-route to its final destination during a full moon. The group of strangers must band together in order to survive until morning as they are stalked by an unseen creature.

This is a total B movie, and I couldn’t get enough of it. Known for his work as a Special Effects Makeup Designer, Paul Hyett sits in the Directors chair with his sophomore film, Howl. This British creature feature captured my heart, I found it extremely admirable with its rich atmosphere, stylish set design and black humour that hits without breaking the tension.

One of the things that made the film so enjoyable was the motley crew of characters. Ed Speelers is the overlooked and immediately likeable, Joe. You empathize with him as he’s condescended by everyone around him, yet manages to take the reigns when needed. Elliot Cowan is the token sleaze and Shauna Macdonald as the aggressive business woman whose death state you don’t want to be caught in. Not to mention an all too brief performance from Sean Pertwee. Everyone’s performance creates the scripts dialogue to feel well paced and natural.

The story itself may be ultimately predictable, but this old fashioned British indie is gloriously gory. The werewolves themselves are admirably different from the usual appearance, but unfortunately these furry beasts just didn’t look quite right. Apart from the reimagining of the werewolves there is nothing new here.

I don’t know how I missed this movie, it’s such a likeable low budget film. Because really… where else do you want to see a band of commoners battle a pack of deranged hybrid mutts then in the claustrophobic space of a broken down train, surrounded by a mist of fog in the spookiest of remote forests.

9.0 / 10

“It wasn’t a bear. Bears don’t howl”