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31 Days Of Horror: The Signal

Mya (Anessa Ramsey) is having an affair with Ben (Justin Welborn). Ben gives Mya a mix cd that she listens to on her way home from Ben’s.

Unbeknownst to Mya, a signal is being transmitted over TV, radio and cellphones. The signal has infected everyone who hears it driving them crazy. Acting crazy, paranoid and extrremely violent. Mya’s husband Lewis (AJ Bowen) has heard the signal and has gone crazy. He threatens Mya and murders one of his friends as Mya flees and hides in another apartment.

This excellent low budget horror movie is told in three parts and each part is directed by one of three directors David Bruckner, Dan Bush and Jacob Gentry.

31 Days Of Horror: The Return Of The Living Dead

Freddy (Thom Mathews) is working his new job at a medical supply warehouse. His co-worker Frank (James Karen) shows him some cannisters in the basement that have bodies in them.

The bodies have been infected by a gas that turned them into zombies back in the 1960s. The government had stopped and covered up the incident but the containers got lost and ended up at the warehouse.

Frank accidentally cracks one of the containers and both Freddy and Frank are gassed. A cavader comes back to life and destroying the brain doesn’t kill them.

Frank calls his boss Burt (Clu Gulager) and Burt helps clean up and takes the cadaver over to his friend Ernie’s (Don Calfa) crematorium.

Frank and Freddy are sick and getting worse. They burn the reanimated cadaver and the burning releases the gas into the atmosphere causing it to rain and the rain soaks the local cemetery and reanimates all the dead.

Meanwhile Freddy’s girlfriend and their friends have been hanging out in the cemetery and the zombies chase them into the warehouse.

Writer/producer John Russo helped co-write and produce George Romero’s classic Night of the Living Dead. Russo and Romero parted ways soon after and each retained partial rights to future sequels. Romero went and made Dawn of the Dead. Russo wrote his own sequel in 1977 called The Return of the Living Dead which was published as a book. Russo went to make it into a movie and had hired Tobe Hooper to direct. Hooper left the film and screenwriter Dan O’Bannon was given the directing job. O’Bannon rewrote the entire script not want to rip off Romero and made the film less serious and more of a black comedy.

The movie introduced the running zombies as well as the concept that zombies eat brains.

31 Days Of Horror: The Grapes Of Death

A vineyard in France is spraying a new pesticide. One of the workers complains that its making him sick. His boss tells him it’s nothing and go back to work.

Elizabeth (Marie-Georges Pascal) is traveling by train to go live with her fiance. The vineyard worker gets on the train and has an oozing ulcer on his neck. He attacks Elizabeth who flees the train and runs to a near by town.

Elizabeth runs to a house for help but finds the residents disfigured and murderous. Soon the whole town has become zombies as Elizabeth tries to find help.

The villagers are infected from the pesticide in the wine that they drank at the wine festival.French director Jean Rollin did his take on the zombie genre with pretty good results.

31 Days Of Horror: Ginger Snaps

Teenage sisters Ginger (Katherine Isabelle) and Brigitte (Emily Perkins) are obessessed with death. They live in a surban neighbourhood where something has been killing people’s pets.

One night Ginger and Brigitte are out and Ginger has her first period. The blood attracts the creature who has been attacking the neighbourhood which is a werewolf.

The werewolf attacks Ginger but she survives and flees with Brigitte. The werewolf is killed by a passing van. Ginger starts undergoing changes. She starts growing a tail, hair, fangs and claw-like finger nails.

Ginger has sex with a boy from her class and passes on the werewolf disease. He starts going through the same changes.

Brigitte searches for a cure for her sister as the full moon looms on the horizon.

This Canadian horror does a different take on the werewolf lore. Silver has no effect. In fact anything can kill a werewolf. And it can be transmitted by a bite or sexually transmitted.

31 Days Of Horror: Vampire Circus

In what is one of the most thrilling openings to Hammer Horror movie, Count Mitterhaus (Robert Tayman) has been plaguing a small village for some time. After taking his latest victim with the help of Anna Müller (Domini Blythe), the townspeople rise up and attack the castle. Villagers fall and are wounded in the fight with the Count but they succeed in killing him. Before he dies he tells Anna to seek out his cousin Emil and he curses the town.

Fifteen years later the town is suffering from a deadly plague. The town is quarantined. The locals believe the plague is from the curse.

Somehow a circus comes to town, managing to get thorough the blockade. The leader of the circus is Emil (Anthony Higgins) the count’s cousin. He’s there to resurrect the count. The twin acrobats are also vampires. They soon start feeding on the town while plotting revenge.

This is an excellent late Hammer Horror movie. The fast pace works and it’s better than the last couple of Dracula movies that Hammer put out.

31 Days Of Horror: The Girl With All The Gifts

A parasitic fungus has caused a virus outbreak. People infected become zombie like and are called hungries.

Children of infectef are born and they manage to maintain their intelligence while still craving flesh. The army has taken several of these children are experimenting on them.

Helen Justineau (Gemma Arterton) is tasked with teaching the children. One of the brightest is Melanie (Sennia Nanua). Scientist Caroline Caldwell (Glenn Close) wants to dissect Melanie hoping that the find a cure in her.

The hungries attack the compound and Melanie escapes with Helen and Caldwell along with some other soldiers. They travel to London.

Based on a book by Mike Carey who wrote the screenplay simultaneously as he wrote the book, this is an excellent movie

31 Days Of Horror: Cabin Fever

Out in the woods, a homeless man finds that his dog has caught a terrible skin disease and he contracts it.

A group of college students, Paul (Rider Strong), Karen (Jordan Ladd), Bert (James DeBello), Marcy (Cerina Vincent) and Jeff (Joey Kern) all decide to spend the springbreak in a cabin in the woods.

They run into the infected homeless man and accidentally kill him. Soon after the group discovers that some of them are infected.

They start fighting amongst themselves and Jeff tries to make a run for it while Bert and Karen are infected and isolated. Things get nastier when some locals find out.

This was director Eli Roth’s first film and it’s fun, nasty and very gory horror movie.

31 Days Of Horror: Demons

A masked man is handing out movie tickets to a special screening in a reopened movie theatre in Berlin.

Cheryl (Natasha Hovey) and her friend go to theatre where several other people are coming to see the film. In the lobby there are several props from the film including a mask. A woman tries it on and scratches her face.

As the movie plays the woman goes to the bathroom where the scratch has infected her and turns her into a demon that causes her to attack people turning them into demons too.

Cheryl and some the other people try to fight the demons and escape the theatre. One demon does escape the theatre.

Mario Bava’s son Lamberto directed this with Dario Argento producing. The movie was successful enough that a sequel also directed by Bava was made.

31 Days Of Horror: Daybreakers

A vampire bat causes a plague in 2009 that results in turning most of the Earth’s population into vampires.

In 2019 the world’s supply of blood has almost run dry as humans have been harvested to the point of extinction. Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawke) has been working on a blood substitute for his boss Charles Bromley (Sam Neill). Vampires who don’t eat slowly become wild vampires called subsiders that then need to be executed.

Edward stumbles across some humans and helps them escape from getting captured. Human Audrey Bennett (Claudia Karvan) leads Edward to Elvis (William Dafoe), a vampire who managed to turn himself human by accident. Edward tries to figure out the cure.

This is pretty entertaining movie. The whole vampires have taken over the world and all the new technologies to help them live their lives, underground tunnels, sun proof cars, etc is pretty neat.

31 Days Of Horror: Mimic

A virus has broken out in New York city called Strikler’s disease. It’s spread by cockroaches and hundreds of children have died from it. The CDC hires entomologist Dr. Susan Tyler (Mira Sorvino) who creates a new bug, the judas breed, and releases it into the sewers to infect and kill off the cockroaches. It works.

Three years later, a couple of kids bring an unusual bug to Dr. Taylor. When she examines it she’s shocked to discover that it’s one of her judas bugs. She designed the bugs to be all female and believed that they should have all died out by now. They haven’t.

Meanwhile a large cloaked figure grabs a priest from the subway. Dr. Taylor, her husband, his assistant and an officer go looking for more bugs in the subway tunnels. Dr. Taylor soon discovers that the judas breed have evolved and are now human sized and can mimic their appearances to look human. She needs to kill her creations before things get worse.

This was Guillermo del Toro’s first Hollywood film and it was his worst filmmaking experience in his life. Producer Bob Weinstein hated del Toro and took away control and final cut of the film from him. Del Toro would years later release a director’s cut which wasn’t really his final vision but as close as he could get with what was shot.

31 Days Of Horror: The Plague Of Zombies

A small town in England in 1800s is beset by a plague that devastating the residents of the town.

Local doctor Peter Tompson (Brook Williams) writes to his mentor Sir James Forbes (André Morell) for help. Forbes arrives with his daughter Sylvia (Diane Clare). Tompson and Forbes go to exhume some of the recently deceased to find out more about the disease only to find the coffins empty.

Soon zombies are discovered around an old mine near the estate of Squire Clive Hamilton (John Carson). The squire it turns out has spent time in Haiti.

This Hammer Horror from director John Gilling is a really good chiller.

31 Days Of Horror: [Rec]

A television crew are following an emergency fire department for their show. The department gets a call to an apartment complex.

Reporter Ángela Vidal (Manuela Velasco) and her film crew follow the fire fighters to the apartment where an old woman has been reported to be in distress. When they arrive the woman attacks the fire fighters.

They try to take the injured man outside only to find that the building has been sealed and everyone inside has been quarantined.

Soon a man from the health department comes in to look at the apartment residents. He says that a strain of rabies has infected the residents. Soon more people are infected and attacking everyone.

This Spanish horror film is very scary and intense. It spawned three sequels and an American remake but this is the best one.

31 Days Of Horror: Pontypool

Shock rock dj Grant Mazzy (Stephen McHattie) runs into a strange woman who keeps chanting the word blood on his way into work.

Once at work news breaks that a riot has broken out and several people are dead. While covering it they lose contact with the reporter on the scene.

They receive a transmission in French informing them to remain indoors, not to use terms of endearment, rhetorical discourse, or the English language and not to translate the message.

They find out that the town is under quarantine. It seems that there is a virus in the English language that infects people and makes them spread it through language. They also get violent and start biting/eating each other.

Soon a group of infected people are attacking the radio station.

Based on the novel Pontypool Changes Everything by Tony Burgess this excellent intense horror film does a different spin on the zombie/virus infection genre.

31 Days Of Horror: The Last Man On Earth

A virus has broken out across the Earth. People infected with it die and a turned into undead vampire like creatures.

Dr. Robert Morgan (Vincent Price) is the last human alive. He lives alone in a fortifed house and spends his days killing vampires and burning their bodies.

Morgan is immune against the virus but he is incredibly lonely. One day a dog appears but runs away from him. Later it appears wounded, infected by the virus. Morgan kills the dog with a stake and buries it.

Morgan sees a woman and convinces her to return to his place with him. She informs him that she belongs to a group of people who use a vaccine to control the virus. Morgan doesn’t trust her.

Based on Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend this first adaptation is the most faithful and Matheson himself wrote the screenplay but he removed his name from the film when he became dissatisfied with the movie.

31 Days Of Horror: It Comes At Night

A virus has ravished the world. Paul (Joel Edgerton) his wife Sarah (Carmen Ejogo) and their son Travis (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) all live in their house in the woods. They have rules to protect themselves from the virus and other people.

They capture a man trying to break into the house. After tying him up outside overnight to make sure he doesn’t have the virus they find out that the man, Will (Christopher Abbott) has a wife and son and he was looking for water for them.

Sarah suggests letting Will and his family live with them. Paul goes over the rules. The front door always stays locked and only Paul and Sarah have a key. And no one goes out at night.

One day Travis’ dog runs off into the woods. Travis thinks he hears something out in the woods. One night Travis gets up and finds the front door unlocked and open. Travis’ dog returns sick the virus. They kill and burn it. Then Travis reveals that the door was open.

This is a pretty cool low key thriller. Director Trey Edward Shults crafts a quietly intense film where there are no monsters, just people and the unknown.

31 Days Of Horror: The Howling

It’s pretty clear zombies have a viral disease that spreads through bites. Yesterday’s Dawn of the Dead demonstrated that. Depending on what vampire movie you are watching, vampire bites are either infectious or part of a process that also includes drinking a vampire’s blood. Either way, again, a viral infection. But what about werewolves?

Everyone knows that being bitten by a werewolf creates new werewolves but there are some films, like An American Werewolf in London, were the attack is more about transferring a curse than spreading an infection. In the 1981 Joe Dante-directed The Howling, it’s clear werewolfism is a viral infection caused by bites.

Reporter Karen White (Dee Wallace) has been receiving phone calls from serial killer Eddie Quist (Robert Picardo) and has agreed to meet him. The police have Karen wired and have officers trying to track her. They lose her and the transmitter signal keeps cutting out. Karen meets Eddie in a porno shop where he terrifies her. The police save her by shooting Eddie.

Karen has amnesia from the event as well as severe trauma. Her doctor, Dr. George Waggner (Patrick Macnee) suggests Karen and her husband Bill (Christopher Stone) spend a couple of weeks at his country retreat that he calls the Colony. There they meet many odd characters.

Meanwhile, Karen’s co-worker Terri (Belinda Balaski) continues investigating Eddie. She finds that he was obsessed with werewolves which leads her to investigate the legends of werewolves.

Back at the Colony Karen keeps hearing wolves at night and things seem off. Bill is attacked by a wolf and bitten. Without revealing the ending, Karen and Terri soon find out the Colony’s terrifying secret and source of Karen’s trauma.

I love this movie. It’s fun and the effects still hold up well. There was a lot of potential for the many sequels that followed but sadly they are all pretty bad.

31 Days Of Horror: Dawn Of The Dead

Remakes are seldom as good as the original. But that said there are several films that are better or at least as good.

Zack Snyder’s remake isn’t as good as the George Romero’s original. But it’s a good film, probably Snyder’s best. I think a hit of has to do with the fact that it’s not a comic book movie and the fact that James Gunn wrote the screenplay.

Sarah Polley is a nurse who goes home after a long shift. Her and her husband are awoken but a neighbour’s daughter. The girl isn’t acting normally and attacks Polley’s husband biting his neck. The husband dies and comes back as a zombie. Polley flees. The city erupts in chaos.

She eventually runs into a police officer (Ving Rhames) and they run into another group of survivors. They take refuge in a shopping mall.

Soon more survivors show up looking for refuge. Outside the hoard of zombies grows bigger and bigger.

31 Days Of Horror: The Satanic Rites Of Dracula

The last of the Hammer Horror Dracula films features a very interesting plot. Picking up where the last movie, Dracula A.D. 1972, which brought Dracula into the modern times.

British secret service have been monitoring a house out in the country. A Satanic Cult has set shop there and even more disturbing several prominent members of society appear to be members. A member of parliament, a secret service officer, a general and a famous scientist.

A secret agent escapes from the house but dies of his wounds. The agent manges to tell his superiors about the members.

To avoid trouble with the suspected members, the secret service enlist Scotland Yard’s Inspector Murray (Michael Coles).

Murray brings Van Helsing (Peter Cushing) and his granddaughter Jessica Van Helsing (Joanna Lumley) onto the case. Meanwhile the cult kidnap a secret service secretary revealing that the cult is run by Dracula (Christopher Lee). Dracula bites the secretary turning her into a vampire.

The Van Helsings and Murray break into the house and find the vampire secretary who they kill. Vam Helsing meets with the scientist and discover that he has been working on a new bubonic plague. This leads him to a businessman named D.D. Denham who is really Dracula.

Dracula plans to release the plague and wipe out humanity.

Hammer films had been huge for a decade but the series was getting pretty weak. Lee hated the deviations from the original source material and this was his last Dracula Hammer film.

31 Days Of Horror: Seoul Station

A prequel to the 2016 Korean horror movie Train to Busan, this animated movie takes place a couple of days befoee Train to Busan.

Director Yeon Sang-ho was an animation director and Train to Busan (2016) was his first live action movie. He also directed Seoul Station which was also released in 2016.

Hye-sun is a former prostitute whose current boyfriend is trying to get to go back to hooking. Hye-sun has fight and runs away.

Meanwhile a homeless person has been bitten and slowly dies on the street as everyone ignores him. The homeless person becomes a zombie and starts infecting the other homeless that live in Seoul Station.

A man claiming to be Hye-sun’s arrives and forced her boyfriend to help look for her. Hye-sun finds herself running from the growing zombie outbreak.

This is a really good prequel to Train to Busan and animation is excellent.

VOD REVIEW: ‘2067’ Brings Back the Australian Dystopia

For reasons worth exploring at depth, Australian cinema is uniquely adept at exploring apocalyptic scenarios: The Mad Max movies, The RoverThese Final HoursCargo, you name it. They’re all perfectly believable and unsettlingly dark.

2067, the latest production to join this weird little subgenre, doesn’t reach the heights of Max Rockatansky and company, but the bleakness and lack of faith in mankind is right there. Earth has gone to the dogs in believable fashion: Energy sources are dwindling, the greenhouse effect has killed most plants in the planet and the air is so rarified, oxygen is only available in synthetic form. This has also caused an acute class division in which only the employed have a shot at survival. And not for long.

Ethan Whyte (Kodi Smit-McPhee, now in proper adult roles) is a nuclear technician barely scrapping by. His main concern is the wellbeing of his partner, who’s coughing blood and not getting enough oxygen. The opportunity of a lifetime falls in his lap when he’s offered the chance to go into the future and bring back remedies to the many maladies affecting the world. But something else seems to be at play, as the time-travelling machine calls for him specifically to do the trip.

2067 deserves kudos for how far stretches a modest budget. The obvious Blade Runner influences are palpable and for the most part it’s quite effective at portraying a rundown society on the verge of collapse. The problem is not the production design, but a script that’s not nearly as clever as it thinks that it is. Every ground-shattering twist can be seen from a mile away and the family drama at the center of this sci-fi romp is the least interesting part of it.

While not well supported by the dialogue (portentous, yet barely functional), Smit-McPhee and True Blood’s Ryan Kwanten are likeable enough to carry the audience to the conclusion. The film flirts with hard sci-fi concepts like time paradoxes and religious ideas like predestination, but doesn’t develop them enough. There’s a good movie somewhere in 2067, but this one takes one wrong turn too many. 2.5/5 breathless prairie dogs.

2067 is now available on demand.