Sunday, October 25, 2009

Horror Movie Review: Severance


Starring: Toby Stephens, Laurie Harris, Danny Dyer, Tim McInnerny, Claudie Blakely, Andy Nyman, and Babou Ceesay

Director: Christopher Smith

Writers: James Moran and Christopher Smith

Release Date: May 19, 2006

Awards: Best Screenplay International Fantasy Film Award at the 2007 Fantasporto, the Audience Award at the 2007 Philadelphia Film Festival, and at the 2006 Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival both the film and director Christopher Smith won Jury's Choice Awards.

Since we've been telling scary stories, people have been getting lost in forests, woods, and jungles. Something about not seeing the gorefest for the trees, or something. But whatever the reason, the British return us to those dark, lost woods with Severance. This time, though, we go with a grin on our face.

A team from Palisade Defense, an international weapons company, is taken to a lodge in Eastern Europe for a team building weekend. But when the bus encounters a fallen tree, the bus driver refuses to take a detour and insists on returning. The group lead by Richard (Tim McInnerny) disembarks the bus and begins trudging the road toward, the think, the lodge.

What they find is a run-down lodge without the amenities they were expecting. That evening over a meat pie, the gang shares stories they've heard of a nearby abandoned Palisade building either used as a psychiatric hospital, a factory taken over by a military group avenging their defeat by enemies using Palisade weapons, or a sex house, until Steve (Danny Dyer) bites into a tooth...with a gold filling.

They are soon finding that they are not alone. Jill sees someone in the woods outside and they discover scaffolding high in the trees. The next day over a paintball game, things turn bloody as the team finds themselves the victims of a deadly enemy.

What makes Severance a special film is its delicate use of comedy. It's more realistic and blends better with the horror than other horror-comedy offerings like Shaun of the Dead. It's the comedy of everyday people being out of their element. Gordon (Andy Nyman) cooking a found meat pie. Steve's attempt to preserve Gordon's foot, the misuse of a rocket launcher, and sexy women in almost nothing shooting high powered rifles. The sequence where we are told three different possibilities for an abandoned Palisade factory is particularly endearing and fun.

The characters are pretty stereotypical (druggie, crude Steve, by-the-book Gordon, rough Harris, clueless boss Richard, uptight Jill, etc.), but it works. After all, those stereotypes come from somewhere.

Director Christopher Smith wisely doesn't completely explain who it is that is attacking the Palisade team, though there are some clues amongst the blood, gore, and laughs.

Severance is a great film if you are looking for a fun trip through blood and guts. Who said dismemberment couldn't be funny?

Related Videos

Dark Corners

Toby Stephens (Harris) stars in Dark Corners. A troubled young woman wakes up one day as a different person - someone who is stalked by creatures.

The Calling

Laurie Harris (Maggie) stars in The Calling. On her wedding night, a young woman conceives a child during an hallucinatory encounter. Several years later, as her friends and family begin to behave strangely, she pieces together clues that lead to one conclusion...her son is the Antichrist!


Christopher Smith also directed the recently released Triangle. When Jess sets sail on a yacht with a group of friends, she cannot shake the feeling that there is something wrong. Her suspicions are realized when the yacht hits a storm and the group is forced to board a passing ocean liner to get to safety, a ship Jess is convinced she's been on before. The ship appears deserted, the clock on board has stopped, but they are not alone... Someone is intent on hunting them down, one by one. And Jess unknowingly holds the key to end the terror.

Girl Number 9

James Moran also co-wrote Girl Number 9, a 6-part web thriller debuting on October 30 at 9:00pm (GMT). Vincent Boylan (Joe Absolom) has just been arrested, suspected of being the man behind the brutal murder of seven girls, but the team only have a limited time to get a confession out of him. If they can't make him talk, he could slip through their fingers. Detective Matheson (Gareth David-Lloyd), who led the investigation, is sent in to try and get some answers. But things soon take a horrifying turn for the worse, as Matheson and his boss Lyndon (Tracy-Ann Oberman) are about to find out that all is not as it seems. Watch Girl Number 9 starting October 30th.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Trailer for Fearmakers Studios's Savage

This look good. Fearmakers takes us back into the woods. This time, it's not's Bigfoot.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Zombie Stormtroopers

Ok, this was pretty cool. Save for the arbitrary Darth Vader breath at the end, a very cool vid...

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Radical Publishing and ask, "Are You Infected?"

Are you infected? Radical Publishing in conjunction with is pleased to announce an exciting new opportunity for fans to win some amazing prizes, including a copy of FVZA: Federal Vampire and Zombie Agency #1.FVZA: Federal Vampire and Zombie Agency, written by David Hine (Spider-Man Noir, Strange Embrace) and based on the website, takes place in a world where a deadly virus known as HVV is turning normal humans into undead zombies. The only force standing in the way of a global takeover by the infected are the expert government agents of the FVZA. Throughout history, from the Civil War to World War II, the FVZA protected humanity from the blood-sucking, flesh-eating hordes -- until a cure was discovered that sent the undead to their graves. The once-contained virus has resurfaced and now the FVZA has been called back into action.

Radical Publishing and are giving fans the chance to put their best dead face forward by submitting an image of their best infected zombie or vampire caused by the horrific HVV virus.

              • One first prize winner will receive one copy of the City of Dust: A Philip Khrome Story trade paperback by Steve Niles, one Radical t-shirt in their size and one copy of FVZA: Federal Vampire and Zombie Agency #1.

              • One second prize winner will receive one Radical t-shirt in their size and one copy of FVZA: Federal Vampire and Zombie Agency #1.

              • One third prize winner will receive one copy of FVZA: Federal Vampire and Zombie Agency #1.

              For a complete set of rules, go to and enter to win. Entries must be submitted by October 31st, 2009. Winners will be announced on November 3rd, 2009.

              Bloody Mary Poppins

              The guy who put this excellent trailer together called it Scary Mary, but I think Bloody Mary Poppins is better. Is my arrogance showing? Sorry...

              Saturday, October 10, 2009

              Horror Movie Review Preview: Severance

              Coming Soon...Severance. A team-building weekend in the mountains of Eastern Europe goes horribly wrong for the sales division of the multi-national weapons company Palisade Defence when they become the victims of a group of crazed killers who will stop at nothing to see them dead.


              Another bloody office outing.

              The Company Is Making Cutbacks.

              Starring Toby Stephens, Claudie Blakely, Andy Nyman, Babou Ceesay, and Tim McInnerny, Severance won Best Screenplay International Fantasy Film Award at the 2007 Fantasporto, the Audience Award at the 2007 Philadelphia Film Festival, and at the 2006 Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival both the film and director Christopher Smith won Jury's Choice Awards.

              Join us soon to see if a worthy package...

              Sunday, October 4, 2009

              Horror Movie Review: The Thing from Another World

              The Thing from Another World

              Starring: Margaret Sheridan, Kenneth Tobey, Robert Cornthwaite, Douglas Spencer, and James Arness

              Directed by: Christian Nyby and Howard Hawks

              Written by: Charles Lederer, Howard Hawks, and Ben Hecht based on a story by John W. Campbell, Jr.

              Release Date: April 29, 1951

              Awards: Added to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress in 2001

              There's something pleasant about watching an old, black and white sci-fi horror film when heros and heroines smoked cigarettes shamelessly. The simple, low tech movies show that you don't need a lot of money spent on CGI and other special effects to make a good film. They showcase the true artistry of directing removing the ease to get the shot you want using greenscreens and computers. If the camera can't shoot it, the director can't do it.

              Before Invasion of the Body Snatchers became known as the 1950s sci-fi analogy of Communism invading America, Howard Hawks brought us The Thing from Another World. Hawks's film, loosely based on a story, "Who Goes There?", written by John W. Campbell, Jr. in 1938.

              Hawks and Charles Lederer, the screenwriter, adapted the alien to be a plant based lifeform from Campbell's original alien which would take on the physical appearance and mental characteristics of others. John Carpenter would return the alien to Campbell's version in his "remake" (really a more faithful adaptation of the novella). But Lederer and Hawks's movie is a sci-fi classic worth checking out.

              An Arctic base headed by scientist Dr. Carrington (Robert Cornthwaite) was lucky enough to detect an unknown airship's crash. The Air Force, being requested assistance with investigating the downed craft, sends Captain Hendry (Kenneth Tobey) and journalist Scotty (Douglas Spencer) accompanies. Hendry and Carrington discover the ship and are shocked to discover that it is perfectly round. They attempt to excavate the clearly alien aircraft form the ice, but it gets destroyed in the efforts. Not all is lost, however, as a body is discovered and returned to the science station.

              A guard watching the frozen, alien body unwisely covers the block of ice with an electric blanket and soon the being is loose. The creature attacks the pack of dogs kept at the station, and a dismembered arm from the slaughter tells the scientists and Captain Hendry some about the menace: It's a plant based organism and it feeds on blood.

              As the alien terrorizes the base killing soldiers and dogs, Carrington debates with Hendry whether the alien should be killed or if communication should be attempted. Will the thing from another world continue to feed and get the chance to reproduce off the blood of its victims? Will Carrington be able to reason with the visitor? Will Hendry be able to kill the beast and win the heart of Nikki (Margaret Sheridan)? Watch the film to find out...

              Hawks's analogy of Communism, intended or attributed after the fact, paints a different threat than the later Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Where Don Siegel's more lauded film shows Communism as an insidious threat almost undetectable, Hawks's Red threat is a more straight forward danger: hard to stop, emotionless, and driven to spread. The Thing from Another World works better as a figurative tale of a Communist country, Russia, than the concept of Communism that we see in Invasion of the Body Snatchers. But then maybe Hawks just wanted to tell a story of an aggressive alien being in an isolated locale, and its representation of Communism is just film critics trying to give the simple story more literary weight than was intended. Sometimes an alien threat is just an alien threat. Either way, it's a classic that every sci-fi and horror fan should check out.

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              The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms

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              The War of the Worlds

              Robert Cornthwaite gets caught up in another alien invasion in The War of the Worlds. The film adaptation of the H.G.Wells story told on radio of the invasion of Earth by Martians.

              This Island Earth

              Douglas Spencer takes a walk as an alien rather than a reporter in This Island Earth. Aliens come to Earth seeking scientists to help them in their war.

              James Arness, who played the alien in The Thing from Another World, fought against giant ants in Them!. The earliest atomic tests in New Mexico cause common ants to mutate into giant man-eating monsters that threaten civilization.

              The Thing

              Considered a remake, but probably more accurately a more faithful adaptation of the source material, John Carpenter brought us The Thing starring Kurt Russell. Scientists in the Antarctic are confronted by a shape-shifting alien that assumes the appearance of the people that it kills.