Steven Kastrissios takes us deep into modern Albania for his sophomore outing in the director’s chair.
Paving his way into the horror scene, Kastrissios turned heads with his debut feature, The Horseman, partly for hits ‘extreme violence’ but also for his ability to not shy away from the harsh society that is infused throughout the films narrative.
With Bloodlands, the subject of vengeance is once again at the forefront of Kastrissios storytelling, a subject that seems close to his heart.
In this instance, we are faced with a family struggling to make ends meet and with conflicting interests pulling at their innermost desires. It is only when confronted with a blood feud set by a witch and her mysterious clan that the family must unite and stand together against a common enemy in a brutal fight for survival.
Recently Bloodlands took out 3 awards at A Night of Horror Film Festival for Best Foreign Language Film; Best Australian Film; and Best Australian Director, and one can see why as it this tale of mythology and highly tense drama is a refreshing sight against the anarchy and gore that has been presented of late on our screens.
Cinematographer, Leander Ljarja beautifully captures the Albanian landscape, and Kastrissios slow burn direction allows the tension to build steadily to keep the viewer gripped to its gritty conclusion.
It just feels a shame that the characters feel so two-dimensional in places and this makes the strong concept and themes lost in what would have been thoroughly engaging piece had more care and attention centred on this area.
As such, there are no real shock moments, and the path becomes a predictable one as a result.
A slow-burn horror that is reminiscent of The Hills Have Eyes in tone, but is embedded with Albanian culture, which adds a new flavour to the horror scene. A rewarding watch despite some character flaws.
– Saul Muerte
WHEN I first heard about the Horror Movie Campout earlier this year, I instantly fell in love with this notion of a festival dedicated to like minded individuals all eager to have their appetite for all things blood and gore.
I had to be there and immerse myself amongst the horde and delight in the horror that lay before me.
So, I have to thank the organisers of this event for setting the stage for what was a truly awesome night ahead.
As you can see from the video below, I was pumped.
And then some.
There was plenty to keep the crowd satiated, from a death chamber, side entertainments such as magicians, eating contests, and of course the bar, food trucks, laser tag, and did we mention the bar?
The main attraction though, would be two features for the night that were selected for the night by the horde themselves from a selection chosen by the Horror Movie Campout committee.
Check out our responses in the video below.
So that concludes our assessment of the festival.
A special nod to all the horror fans and those that came dressed to suit the occasion.
Some great cosplay action going on including Freddy, Jason, and that dastardly Michael Myers.
Bring on the next one.
AUSTRALIANS HAVE A CERTAIN knack for delivering successful horror films throughout the ages.
One only need to look at the likes of Wake In Fright, Razorback, Saw, Wolf Creek, to name but a few to see how influential this country is at producing Horror gems.
So, when I heard that the Cairnes brothers, Cameron and Colin were returning behind the camera following their hugely delightful bloody romp, 100 Bloody Acres, I eagerly anticipated where this new direction would take them.
At first glimpse, the premise behind Scare Campaign sounds awesome.
A TV prank show that delights in scaring the bejesus out of unsuspecting participants only to come a cropper when they prank the wrong person.
All the right ticking points are in place for what should be a great movie.
There’s an old mental asylum that hosts the location of the prank itself which adds the perfect sense of eeriness needed for atmosphere.
There’s the girl with a heart, Emma, who cares for the people being pranked, perhaps a little too naively, and played brilliantly by Meegan Warner.
There’s the absolute tool of a guy, whose arrogance and lust for success which can only lead to ruin, Marcus. Again played really well by Ian Meadows.
Add a psycho on the loose chasing down our victims and you’ve got a good chemistry to play with.
So why did this movie not elevate itself into the mainstream?
Instead it slipped under the radar a little with very little impact at all.
The problem that I see is that the premise in itself.
It’s a prank show where the audience are supposed to be in on the joke, so they are already expecting or suspecting that all is not as it seems.
So when the reveals occur along the way, we (the audience) have already guessed the outcome.
I did read one review that proclaimed that we don’t see the twists coming, but I completely disagree with this statement.
The twists are evident and it’s a shame, but you need to be extremely clever to pull off the storytelling device that the Cairnes brothers were going for.
It’s a tough ask and in my opinion they fall short in this area.
Likewise the menace isn’t as impactful as you hoped it would be.
The introduction of the Masked Freaks at the beginning holds a lot of promise and if more focus were aimed at this tribe, then we might have been in for a genuine scare.
The masks look fucking fantastic and the special effects team are pulling some crazy effects in here that it’s a joy to watch each character face a unique and grisly demise.
So, it’s not all doom and gloom despite my negative declaration.
The film is enjoyable to watch and if you allow yourself to be taken on that journey, the cast (including the supporting players, notable standouts being Sigrid Thornton and Olivia De Jonge) and the SFX allow for a fun and gore-filled story to unfold.
So if you did instinctively skip this movie based on initial feedback from critics or lack of cinema screenings, or if it merely slipped you by, I would recommend watching it. It’s a far cry better than some movies out there and deserves a lot more attention than it actually received.
- Paul Farrell
Alison's Birthday, Bloodmoon, Body Melt, Lake Mungo, Long Weekend, Night of Fear, Patrick, Razorback, Roadgames, Saw, The Babadook, The Cars That Ate Paris, the Horseman, The Loved Ones, Undead, Wolf Creek, Wyrmwood
It’s Australia Day.
So here at Surgeons of Horror we thought that we would look across the years at the movies that helped shape the horror movie genre in our Southern Land.
So without further adieu, here’s our definitive list, let us know if you agree.
- Night of Fear (1973)
Dubbed the first Australian film of the renaissance, (and closely resembling Texas Chain Saw Massacre in style, released another 2 years later) you can see why this movie is well respected among horror movie lovers.
The Cars That Ate Paris (1974)
The legendary director Peter Weir would debut with this fantastic comedy horror that he also wrote.
Set in the fictional town of Paris where the towns inhabitants forage off the remains of car accidents, the movie has established something of a cult following.
Long Weekend (1978)
One of my favourites on this list and fittingly released on the year that I was born.
Long Weekend wasn’t initially well received upon its initial release, but has a strong message from director Colin Eggleston, where nature fights back on a disrespectful couple.
It has since been remade in 2008.
The first of two films by Richard Franklin in our list, this science fiction horror is often cited by fans of the genre.
Part of the Ozploitation movie scene, Patrick tells the story of a comatose boy with psychic powers.
Alison’s Birthday (1981)
It’s got all the right ingredients for a horror movie, with ouija boards, spirits from the beyond, demonic possessions, and that killer ending.
All good reasons why this independent movie makes the list.
It’s the movie most noted more recently because of its vocal nod from Quentin Tarantino.
Starring Stacy Keach and Jamie Lee Curtis it follows a truck driver and a hitch hiker who take it upon themselves to track down a serial killer on the loose.
Oh and yet another soundtrack from Brian May.
Australia’s creature feature and our very own Jaws movie albeit about a wild boar on the loose.
Say all you like about it, but this is a classic in its own right.
This slasher film may have come late to the Ozploitation, but such was its impact and not necessarily in a good way that it nestles amongst some great titles here purely for its shocking comedy.
So bad, it’s positively good.
And features music from Brian May.
Again this might not necessarily be a good thing.
Body Melt (1993)
The influence of Peter Jacksons early work is evident to see in this satirical horror.
It’s got gore to the max and delights in every possible way.
Yet another Australian horror film that would ignite a genre with horror porn, which some don’t have the stomach for.
In this instance it generated a horror icon in Jigsaw with its glorious deadly traps and launched the careers of both James Wan and Leigh Whannel.
It also spawned a massive franchise with a success that only falls short of being the best in the entry by The Friday the 13th movies.
All that could change though come the release of the next instalment, Saw: Legacy this year.
This movie should be better than it is, and goes all guns blazing in the first third of the film before losing the plot entirely.
Film critic Roger Ebert to say it’s so bad that it’s bad, but despite its flaws, the film still resonates and is a bit of fun at the end of the day.
And it did launch the careers of the Sperig brothers, who have gone on to direct bigger movies with a lot more fan fare.
Wolf Creek (2005)
Inspired by the afore-mentioned Roadgames, director Greg McLean has made a strong name for himself in the horror genre with movies such as Rogue, Wolf Creek 2 and the eagerly anticipated The Belko Experiment.
Part of its appeal was capitalising on the daunting and dangerous world of the Australian Outback and made Mick Taylor on of modern horror movies most glorious villains thanks to John Jarratt’s chilling performance.
Lake Mungo (2008)
One of a couple of movies on our list to adopt the doco style of storytelling, Lake Mungo received fairly positive reviews of a family coming to terms with the loss of their daughter, hinged on a supernatural component.
It’s a slow film but worth the wait for its gripping climax.
The Horseman (2009)
A revenge thriller with violence dialled to the extreme and may not be everyone’s taste.
Personally though, I feel that this film speaks to the fringes of human emotion, evoking rage, heartbreak and empathy all in the space of its 96 minute running time.
The Loved Ones (2010)
Sean Byrne is still a director to keep an eye on and I for one can’t wait to see his follow up Devil’s Candy.
His debut feature though would gain a huge following with its gender swap of a damoiselle in distress and a female killer played by the delightful Robin McLeavy.
The Tunnel (2011)
The second movie to adopt the doco style of storytelling, but through the medium of found footage horror.
The Tunnel shook up the movie industry with its new approach to distribution, allowing viewers to buy frames from the movie as a means to raise the quota to cover the budget and leave room for a little profit.
It was a business model that was both brave and rewarding for the producers, but more importantly, the film itself seemed to echo that sentiment.
It’s a bold movie that keeps you hooked as a camera crew delve into the hidden tunnels beneath the city of Sydney only to find more than they bargained for.
The Babadook (2013)
One of the more recent movies to make the list and one that has the Surgeons sitting on both sides of the fence.
Jennifer Kent’s debut feature deserves the recognition though as this psychological horror starring Essie Davis tackles a strong subject matter and tells it in a unique fashion.
Rounding out our list is this balls-to-the-wall bloody fantastic roller coaster of a movie.
There is nothing predictable about this movie about a zombie horde let loose.
Rumours are abound that there is a sequel in the works too.
- Paul Farrell