Big News about Habeas Corpus

Readership, I have been keeping things from you. This is obviously a betrayal of the trust we have built up over the years, and I can only apologise. But I had very good reason. And the time has finally come when I can talk a little about what’s been happening with a project that’s about to take up quite a bit of my time and attention.

Today, I want to talk about Habeas Corpus, the anthology horror I’m making with a lot of my friends and fellow travellers. We’ve all been working hard on the film. My previous announcement that the scripts were just about locked was a bit … well, previous really. Leading Man Clive has come into his own here, making sure that we’re delivering nothing but our best work. The final draft of livedeadgirls is one of my best. Very different to how I originally thought of it, but that’s a good thing. Less angsty. More … horrible.

Obviously, we want to let people know what we’re up to. With that in mind, Team Corpus came up with a super special surprise that we showed at Frightfest, one of the premiere horror festivals on the planet, in London’s glamourous Leicester Square. It’s a 90 second thing, a little standalone teaser that was shot over a long weekend at the end of July. It stars one of our directors, Paul Davis, and in a bit of a casting coup, scream queen and face of British horror Emily Booth. This is a really big deal for us, and it’s great that as horror fans we got to launch our biggest project in front of an audience that’s as committed and passionate about the scene as we are.

You wanna see it, right? Well, here you go.



The reception so far has been really positive, and we’re hoping that Frightfest weekend will give us the kick the project needs to get it properly rolling. For the meantime, you can read more about the project on Dread Central, and here’s a rather nice review of the teaser from Brendon Connolly at Bleeding Cool.

And please, join the Facebook group. Your support will help us to make something that we can all show with pride.

I’ll tell you more about the events of the weekend as it wears on. For now, keep the faith, Readership.

Friday Fiction: I’ll be Your Mirror

A little squib that was written and didn’t make the cut for The Campaign For Real Fear. It addresses the way we all spend so much time looking at ourselves these days – and what if one day we look and something else is looking back. It’s a common enough horror meme, I guess, but by mixing it up with ideas of infection, invasion and zombification, hopefully I’ve come up with something fresh.

Note: a horror story. Which is why it’s tucked behind a More tag.

Continue reading Friday Fiction: I’ll be Your Mirror

Blood + Roses – a review

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Reviews should be objective. It’s never a good sign for a pundit to write a piece on a film when it’s known that he or she was involved in it’s creation. There’s no sense of distance, and every chance of bias.

Here is my review of Blood + Roses, a film which gives me a prominent colourist credit, and for which I put together an EPK.

Blood + Roses is a film about a girl who cannot help but get involved with bad boys.

At the beginning of the film we meet Jane, who is stuck in a loveless relationship with Martin, a cold, controlling bastard played with misogynistic glee by Kane John Scott. Jane, frail and wounded, has nightmares of something awful that has happened to her in the recent past. Something that she can’t quite remember, and that Martin is in no hurry to help her recall. Something that they have driven to an isolated cottage in the country to try and put behind them.

Once there, things don’t seem to be improving for Jane. Martin is unsympathetic, selfish. Then she meets, and is seduced by the ultimate tall, dark stranger – Seth, a vampire. As Jane begins to change, her memories of what has happened begin to return, and her frailty is shed in favour of something more primal. Physically and mentally, her strength returns. As it does so, Jane begins to thirst. Not just for blood, but for revenge.

Blood + Roses is an attempt to tweak some of the more romantic aspects of the vampire mythos, to tease out some dark truths about the nature of attraction and desire. Jane may be stuck in a loveless marriage, but she knows what she’s getting into with Seth. She embraces her new life with relish, and an almost unseemly haste, considering the consequences.

Jane is played by Marysia Kay with a touching fragility in the early stages of film, before her transformation. After, she becomes stronger, sleeker, more feline, graceful yet deadly. She portrays this change nicely, and as a vet of the BritHorror scene, I would have been surprised if she hadn’t. This is, after all, an actress who specialises in portraying strong women – sometimes strong enough to pull their hapless victims in two!

Seth, the third point in the triangle, is played with louche charm by Benjamin Green. Seth appears worldly and urbane, but at the same time he is very much the predator of the piece. He simply walks into Martin and Jane’s life and takes what he wants, without a wasted thought to the consequences. Jane is quick to embrace his attitude – any escape from the airless trap that her life has become with Martin would seem to be acceptable, even the loss of her soul.

Blood + Roses is a film to muse over, something that needs a little time to sink in and percolate. It’s careful to play with the mythos just enough – the “v word” is never mentioned, and in this film they can be seen in mirrors. An interesting move, perhaps to bring home the point that the life Seth offers is a dark mirror of the one Jane is so keen to leave. The life of a vampire is, in it’s way, as constrained as her marriage to Martin. She will never see the sun again, eat real food be able to have children. Her time with Martin may have stripped away most of her humanity, but accepting Seth’s bloody bargain means turning her back on what’s left of it.

The isolated location of Blood + Roses works in it’s favour. Most of the action takes place in the confines of the small cottage Martin and Jane have rented. The camera stays tightly framed on the actors, trapping them in dark corners, unable to escape their fate. The cinematography is lush and rich, though, and colour is used to surreal effect in a couple of dream sequences. Kudos to DoP Richard J. Wood and director Simon Aitken for resisting the temptation to desaturate the colour palette and give the pictures a mud wash. This is a good-looking film, even if it was shot in nasty HD video.

The film really comes to life when it’s focussed in on the vampires. The chemistry between Seth and Jane comes across beautifully, to the point where I was disappointed when they weren’t on screen. By contrast, I felt too much time was spent on the plot cooked up by Martin and his doctor friend Ted, and their crime against Jane. This wasn’t helped by the dry reading given by Adam Bambrough, which made the pair come across as buffoonish rather than truly evil. A shame, because on the whole I thought the script, by Simon’s long-time writing partner Ben Woodiwiss, worked well. And the guy can write a mean vampire.

On the whole, then, I found Blood + Roses an entertaining take on a couple of standard horror tropes. It doesn’t wallow in grue or histrionic performances, preferring instead a low-key approach that builds slowly towards the finale. Here, at last, my gorehound tendency was satisfied in an ending that riffed nicely on classical and Elizabethan revenge tragedy. It’s something a bit different, and I wish it well.

But then I would say that, wouldn’t I?

Frightfest

August Bank Holiday is rolling around, in the same sort of way as a rhino that’s about to run you down. It’s big, it’s slow-moving, but somehow it’s on you before you realise it.

Normally at this time of year I would be getting ready to wallow in the mud at the Reading Festival. Due to circumstances both beyond (tickets sold out in 15 nanoseconds flat) and within my control (laziness) Radiohead will just have to manage without me. No, this year I shall  be at Leicester Square, for a day of Frightfest.

The UK’s premier horror and fantasy film festival hits it’s tenth anniversary this year, and it’s ringing the changes in a big way. A move to the Empire, one of the bigger cinemas in The Square, and the opening of a second Discovery Screen for new talent. Which means more films, of course, and with that the chance to miss something you really want to see because something you want to see more is screening at the same time. So it goes.

I’m easing in gently, by just doing the Saturday, which has the highest concentration of must-sees for me. Unlike hardcore Festers like Leading Man Clive, who regularly do the whole thing, which can’t be good for you.

The real pick of the crop for me, is Giallo, the new film by Dario Argento. It seems like a move back to his stylish slasher roots, and should be an absolute blast. There are rumours that he might be attending, which would make me a happy horror head.

(FanBoy Fact: One of my discoveries of this year, Frederic Brown’s noir novel The Screaming Mimi, was the uncredited source for Argento’s first giallo, The Bird With The Crystal Plumage. Different kinds of pulpy yumminess).

One feature of the fest that I may well miss is the Zombie Walk around Leicester Square on the Monday morning. Don’t be fooled. That’s not makeup. This is what horror fans tend to look like after three days in a dark room with inappropriate nutrition and not enough kip.

Bacon saaarnieesss... erm, we mean braaaainnnns...
Bacon saaarnieesss... erm, we mean braaaainnnns...

I’ve meant to do Frightfest for years, and I’m really excited to be sitting down with some good friends and just indulging my geeky half.

Alright, two-thirds.

Frightfest begins tomorrow evening with the premiere of seaborne shocker Triangle. Hopefully nothing like the old soap opera set on the Le Havre ferry…