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Redwood Massacre: Annihilation

Reviewed by Mike Macabre

Independent horror constantly shows us that it can rival the efforts of its mainstream counterparts. With awesome special effects, great acting and stunning locations, many could easily be mistaken for a big budget flick. In fact, only recently we’ve reviewed such movies. The terrific acting in The Legend of the Muse, the stunning scenery in The Faceless Man and the great effects in both are prime examples. Redwood Massacre: Annihilation literally has all of the above.

Synopsis

A stranger obsessed with the unsolved Redwood murders, convinces a group of bereaved family members to venture into the wilderness in hope of proving the existence of the infamous killer. Their quest for truth sees a sinister turn of events, as the hunters become the hunted. A blood-soaked fight for survival ensues when they find that the tales of the axe-wielding maniac are very real.

Redwood Massacre: Annihilation

Review

The movie opens with a massacre. The Burlap Killer strolls amongst a sea of bodies, slicing and dicing survivors amid a cacophony of wails and screams. It’s a solid opening, giving viewers a reminder of the Burlap Killer’s brutal, unrelenting nature. This is then followed with another murder by a different killer! However, he’s just as sadistic as our main antagonist.

After this prologue we’re treated to some great cinematography. It has to be said, Scotland is an absolutely stunning place. With rolling hills, winding streams and endless landscapes, you couldn’t ask for a more picturesque location. Yet, the vast majority of the movie takes place in an underground military bunker. I mean, it makes sense. The beauty of the Scottish countryside would definitely detract from the brutal murders occurring throughout the flick! Director David Ryan Keith certainly made the best decision on that front.

Whilst we’re talking about good decisions, let’s focus on the acting!

Who’s who?

Redwood Massacre: Annihilation

The film is made up of a stellar cast each bringing a unique aspect to the storyline. Danielle Harris plays her role as Laura Dempsey superbly. A constant presence throughout the movie, Harris’ convincing portrayal of a kick ass fighter is certainly one to watch. With her confident demeanour and determination it’s easy to fear for the Burlap Killer himself as opposed to his potential victims. This is exacerbated even further when you incorporate Gary Kasper. With his huge, imposing frame and menacing persona you can’t help but yearn for a face off between him and the antagonist. Add to that the huge arsenal he brings with him, it’s not your bog-standard slasher! However, the man-mountain also has a softer side when it comes to his friends. The camaraderie displayed throughout the movie is a joy to behold.

Jon Campling is great in his role as Tom Dempsey, Laura’s father. He’s driven, yet easily swayed and is happy to let his daughter lead the way. Damien Puckler plays Max, the mysterious stranger who convinces the party to go and find the masked killer. His motives are clear from the outset and he lives up to these expectations as the movie goes on. Finally, Tevy Poe‘s portrayal of Jen is the only time the director conforms to stereotype. The flirtatious friend of Laura is a standard mould seen in the vast majority of slashers, yet, she still plays a good part and ultimately I think the movie is perfectly cast.

The Effects

Redwood Massacre: Annihilation

As you can probably expect if you saw the first film, Redwood Massacre: Annihilation is rife with blood, gore and great effects. Given the small cast, we do have to wait a considerable amount of time before we get to the brutal killings, however, this just serves to build suspense. There are some great props used throughout and the creative murders are a credit to the makeup department and special effects team. There’s dismemberment, evisceration and, as you can guess, bucket loads of gore!

Overall, this movie is certainly not one to be missed and I would highly recommend it to everyone. Even if you haven’t seen the first one, you can quickly grasp the concept!

Check out the trailer here

Redwood Massacre: Annihilation is coming to DVD and Digital on October 20th from Uncork’d Entertainment.

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Legend of the Muse

Reviewed by Mike Macabre

We all love mythology, right? After all, the vast majority of horror influences can be linked to stories told in ancient times. Werewolves can be traced back to the Greek Legend of Lycaon, Frankenstein can be linked to the Jewish legend of The Golem, and as for vampires, well stories about bloodsuckers have existed for millennia. Legend of the Muse is another which draws on these old tales in the form of Celtic mythology.

Synopsis

A painter’s life is changed forever when a mythical and deadly spirit from Celtic lore becomes his muse and lover.

Starring Riley Egan, Elle Evans, Kate Mansi, Max Decker, Jennie Fahn and Lou Ferrigno Jr. and written/ directed by John Burr.

Legend of the Muse

The movie follows Adam (Egan), an introvert artist who lives alone in an overpriced, rundown apartment. When he meets Hector (Decker), a new tenant in the building, Adam’s life starts to get a bit more interesting. Whilst serving as a driver to assist Hector’s criminal activity, Adam encounters a mysterious woman (Evans). Silent, seductive and seemingly inhuman, the woman appears again in Adam’s apartment. From here the story progresses into an intriguing, sensual bloodbath.

Review

I’m genuinely unsure where to start with this one. John Burr has written an absolutely superb story that just keeps on giving. Admittedly, it was confusing to begin with, but it didn’t take long for the pieces to fall into place.

The accolade for outstanding performance would easily go to Elle Evans. Despite not having a single spoken line, she dominates the screen in every scene she’s in. To portray such a range of traits and emotions without words is an impressive feat. Displaying a multitude of characteristics from sweet and innocent, sultry and seductive, to downright terrifying, Evans pulls it off flawlessly. This, coupled with Egan’s convincing portrayal of the timid artist provides a strong cast that are a credit to the movie.

Legend of the Muse

There’s a good amount of blood/gore in the movie. Not too excessive, but enough to satisfy most horror fans without detracting from the main storyline. Speaking of the story, there may have been one issue I had with it. Who hides body parts under the floorboards?! I mean give it a couple of days and you’ll have a smell that even the strongest air fresheners wouldn’t be able to shift! That aside though, the effects were pretty good and the makeup department definitely deserve a shout out for their efforts.

Check out the trailer here

Legend of the Muse is available to watch now Amazon

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To coincide with our competition giving away a free SIGNED copy of The Crows, we interviewed C.M. Rosens to find out her writing influences, her motivation behind the novel and more. Check it out!

How did your interest in writing start?

My interest in writing started when I was really little and as an only child I had some imaginary friends – my mum and her parents encouraged me to write them down or to tell them about the ‘adventures’ I had in Dinosaur Land (I was obsessed with dinosaurs when I was 5/6). I’m fairly sure you got there via a magic bubble that appeared around you when you jumped down a hole under a bridge, like Alice in Wonderland meets Journey to the Centre of the Earth / The Lost World. I’d seen the Disney film of Alice and read the illustrated Ladybird abridged books of JCE and TLW, so it was mostly a mash-up of that, but with a T-Rex called Lucy who was the queen who let me ride her. I’ve been making up stories pretty much all my life – writing is just a way of remembering them!

What made you choose horror?

I didn’t exactly choose horror as a genre, I’d always thought I couldn’t write anything like that. It turned out that the story I wanted to tell had a lot of Gothic elements (my favourite!) and was based on a romantic cosy paranormal mystery I’d written in 2013 for fun. The rewrite got a bit darker, had more body horror, and went into the darker side of Gothic tropes and conventions. The gory bits are fairly few and not that bad (in my view) but that’s very much dependent on personal taste, I guess. Horror is such a broad genre with so many facets, but it gives you as a writer a lot of scope to explore personal and/or socio-cultural anxieties and concerns, the reasons why certain things frighten or horrify.

What was your inspiration behind The Crows?

Stephen King’s Rose Red was a big influence on The Crows in its current form, and Salem’s Lot, with the idea of a house being evil (Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson was actually something I read after the draft was done!) I wanted to invert this and create a house with a personality that was more three-dimensional than just ‘evil’. Other influences include the Lovecraftian mythos, my own working class background and some real life experiences (not all my own), Hammer Horror films, the early seasons of Midsomer Murders and quite a lot of Terry Pratchett. I have a lot of time for the idea of people just trying to live their lives while surrounded by magic and various things going on.

Will there be a sequel to The Crows? Or anything else written in the Pagham-on-Sea universe?

There is a sequel to The Crows – the next novel is called Thirteenth, and follows the Porter clan more closely. I also have a short story, The Sound of Darkness, which is set in the council estate on the edge of Pagham-on-Sea, coming out in the anthology F is for Fear with Red Cape Publishing. There are a few more books linked to the town in various stages of planning and drafting, which will use overlapping settings and some overlapping characters, but will be standalones. One of them, Eldritch Girls Just Want To Have Fun, is a slasher-romance or goremance co-written with Nita Pan (author of Life and Death, a dark, tragic and philosophical short story in the Supernatural Beings anthology From Ashes to Magic). That follows a different member of the eldritch family you meet in The Crows, but that’s mainly set in Brighton c.2016. It looks like it has series potential on its own, so watch this space.

Now you’re a published author, what advice would you give to those just starting out?

I think my main advice for those starting out on their publishing journey is that it’s not one-size-fits-all. There are pros and cons to every route, and in my case I chose self-publishing as I’d had good feedback from traditional publishing houses but it ‘wasn’t what they were looking for’. I also wanted to collaborate with artist Tom Brown (co-creator of the Hopeless, Maine graphic novels) and wanted to retain the creative control to include illustrations that I would otherwise have to negotiate with presses. However, I’ve got a publishing contract for my non-fiction popular history book, which is being published under my real name rather than my pen-name. I would say in both cases that a good editor makes a world of difference, especially one you can work well with. I’ve also had the benefit of good alpha and beta readers, and my books tend to have about eight pairs of eyes on them before they make it to the editor. I want to produce a quality product as well as a good book, so I think investing in that, however you do it, is really important.

When you’re not writing what are you generally doing?

When I’m not writing, I’m not doing anything particularly interesting – I do like to travel though! Obviously not at the moment… and honestly, apart from walking and working, I don’t think I’ve got anything exciting out of lockdown! I did take up Burlesque and Belly dance online though, but I can’t continue with them due to my shift patterns.

If you were to set a goal for your future what would it be?

In terms of goals… I think my main one would be to get Eldritch Girls out there, which is one of my favourite passion projects and just so much fun to write. I would also like to get an anthology of Pagham-on-Sea short stories completed (co-written with Guillaume Velde) and get the sequel to The Crows out by Jan 2021. For personal goals – I would just like to be able to travel again. I haven’t been to the USA/Canada since I was 14, and I’d love to go there again and visit friends I haven’t seen for years.

And finally, who is your favourite horror icon?

My favourite horror icon is Sir Christopher Lee. I love Hammer Horror films and out of the greats of that era he’s my favourite. Vampires were always my favourite monster as a kid and I will always have a huge soft spot for his Dracula.

To enter the competition, visit our Facebook page here

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You can find out more about C.M. Rosens here

Animal Among Us

At Erebus Horror we all love a good creature feature! They tend to be fun, gory and allow upcoming filmmakers to show their mettle. Sometimes the creature doesn’t play the pivotal role, as seen in our review of ‘Monstrous’. Other times, it’s not actually a ‘creature’ at all! But with all instances, the movie can be hugely enjoyable providing it’s got a good storyline, stellar acting and effective use of budget. So where does Animal Among Us sit? Let’s find out!

Synopsis

Christian Oliver (“Sense8”, House of Good & Evil) and Larisa Oleynik (“Mad Men”, 10 Things I Hate About You) come face to face with hirsute terror in John Woodruff’s highly-anticipated horror throwback, Animal Among Us.

Fifteen years ago, two teenage girls were murdered at Merrymaker Campgrounds. The case was filed as an animal attack, the camp was condemned, and the killer never found. But something horrific still waits in those woods, ready to kill again.

Also starring Don Frye, Christine Donlon, Jonathan Murphy, Erin Daniels, Heather Tom, Jasmine Dustin, and Whitney Davis.

Animal Among Us

Cited as ‘Friday the 13th meets Dog Soldiers’, the movie opens with a distressed woman covered in blood and with no indication as to what’s happened. This then cuts to Oleynik in her role as ranger Anita. She drives into the Merrymaker Camp unaware she is being watched. From the creature’s POV we see her depart, before it raises a clawed hand in all its beautiful, b-movie goodness. The tone is set and the movie certainly doesn’t disappoint!

Review

So lets talk about the acting. Animal Among Us is perfectly cast with an array of talent who all give an outstanding performance. Each took their role to a whole new level. Anita’s driven and ambitious character is a stark contrast to sister Poppy’s (Donlon) cautious, yet seductive manner. Then we’ve got the suave, self-righteous Roland (Oliver) and tough, cigar-chomping Burl (Frye). Throw in a bit of humour courtesy of Jonathan Murphy’s character and you’ve got an exceptional lineup!

Animal Among Us

Now, storyline. It is a pretty good story. It’s well thought out and has a number of twists and turns along the way that keeps it from going stale. The only problem is the creature. I’m not going to give anything away, but what I will say is that the movie does risk disappointing a lot of monster enthusiasts who go into this hoping to see a ‘traditional’ creature-feature. However, does the unconventional approach take anything away from the movie? I wouldn’t say so. What I would say is selling the movie under the phrase ‘Friday the 13th meets Dog Soldiers’ is a bit misleading. I can kind of see Friday the 13th link (at a stretch) in that its set at a campsite… But Dog Soldiers? I have no idea where that link is.

Written by Jonathan Murphy. Produced by Murphy and Woodruff. Animal Among Us is available free and exclusive on Tubi from Uncork’d Entertainment

What do you think of the movie? Like the sound of it? Seen it already? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or in the comments below!

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Monstrous Review

When you think of monster movies, what comes to mind first? Are you old school, picturing Godzilla or King Kong? Or does your mind conjure up the newer editions to the horror family, as seen in the likes of The Ritual, A Quiet Place or The Monster? Whichever it is, we’ve all seen the low budget, cringe-fest, creature features that spring up from time to time. These deplorable b-movies tend to contain bad CGI, or worse; bad actors in a costume. However, you’ll be pleased to know that Monstrous contains neither of these!

Synopsis

Sylvia (Anna Shields), a lonely 20-something, goes searching for answers after her friend mysteriously vanishes in Whitehall, NY, an Adirondack town known for its Bigfoot sightings. She sets off with a mysterious, charming young woman, Alex (Rachel Finninger). hellbent on getting to Whitehall for different reasons. Sylvia soon learns that hiding in the woods is an evil more sinister than she could ever imagine. Also starring; Grant Schumacher, Hannah McKechnie, Catharine Daddario, Dylan Grunn and directed by Bruce Wemple.

So let’s start by stating the obvious. Yes, that is Bigfoot on the poster (a very well-designed poster, I’m sure you’ll agree…) However, all is not what it seems. Whilst Bigfoot does play an integral part in the movie, the storyline is a lot more in-depth than your average monster flick. The script is superbly written with mystery and intrigue throughout. All is not what it seems, and if you start watching with anticipation of a monster gore-fest, you’re going to be disappointed. However, go into it with an open mind and I guarantee you’ll enjoy it.

Director Bruce Wemple has done a stand up job in bringing Bigfoot to life with excellent cinematography and terrific casting. There’s great acting from all involved and a truly convincing friendship between Shields and Schumacher. Throw in the mysterious traits of Alex and the subsequent bond developing between her and Sylvia and you’ve got a perfect cast.

Overall, Monstrous is definitely not one to miss! Check out the trailer below and let us know what you think!

Monstrous premieres On Demand and DVD August 11 from Uncork’d Entertainment.

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