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Movie news, reviews, features and more thoughts coming soon...

By midlandsmovies, Nov 11 2015 02:52PM

Midlands Movies Mike looks at the latest horror flick from SuperfreakMedia whose influences come from the classic slashers of the 1980s.

Their new film is ‘The Final Girl’ which has sliced onto the internet over Halloween and is filled with nostalgic nods for every horror fan. The short film harks back to the genre gems so often found on VHS from the era which SuperfreakMedia hopes captures the interest of fans of spooky scares.

Starring veteran scream queen Jessica Messenger (as Olivia), ‘The Final Girl’ follows a lone survivor on Halloween night as she tries to overcome her two pursuers - BagHead (Phill Martin) and Babyface (John Miles). And just when it looks like her time is up, some very special friends come along which allow for a shocking and bloody climax.

Director Liam Banks has been blown away with the response to the film to date. “It was incredibly fun to make and to get the response we have had so far – especially the reaction from horror fans which has been incredible”.

“Everyone involved threw themselves into this completely and pulled through an incredible intense shoot”, adds Liam. The film was shot in Nottingham over 2 consecutive nights with almost zero budget and Liam hopes to continue with the film’s life on the festival circuit after a brief stint online for fans to stream.

The film itself is now available to view on SuperfreakMedia’s YouTube channel until November 30th (see below). After this, Liam and his team will be submitting the short to a variety of genre film festivals so be sure to check it out whilst you still can.

For more information on the film and for some exclusive content head over to SuperfreakMedia’s Facebook page to stay up to date with what else they have on the horizon.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/superfreakmedia

Website: http://www.superfreakmedia.com

By midlandsmovies, Nov 24 2014 07:14PM

Black Hill

Directed by Jim Peakman

BlueRidge Films

“The sun sets to rise again”.

Midlands Movies Mike takes a look at this Western from the West Midlands...

From the opening twang of western guitar notes to the wide screen vistas, Jim Peakman’s 22 minute short film Black Hill follows the classic prairie formula of a hero rediscovering himself in the wild outback but given the film’s Midlands roots, it’s an altogether more impressive feat with great new ideas thrown in.

The film begins in the US when a worn and injured Southern soldier climbs tirelessly around an arid landscape before being found and rescued by a lady who brings the injured man to her nomadic home on the hillside.

Her attempts to nurse him are thrown back in her face for one main reason. This lady is black and after a barrage of foul language we realise this lady is also mute but finds solace in her Bible reading. This holds no sway with the soldier who torments her with “Ain’t no God gonna love you”. She however returns with a gun and with tension building, cocks the pistol only to reveal she has removed the bullets.

With great cinematography showing the shadowy cave-like home, the film uses thunderous sound effects of stormy rains outside juxtaposed with the soldier’s cough which throughout the night is his only company.

Awakening the next day to a burning stove he shares his name of Red (Patterson) and fills us in on his back-story as a Confederate soldier. He shares his fears but she explains how she has learnt to love her enemies whilst a well edited montage shows Red being comforted and helped back to health as she continuous with her religious reading.

The director uses an epic and sweeping score before we see a rebirth of the soldier’s smile and offers to name the mute slave Rose (after his mother) but a group of deserters arrive and Red promises to protect the runaway slave.

The short is a great homage to the classic Western myth and the film’s balance of themes such as rebirth (the tying of shoes and the soldier re-learning to walk) and death – are handled well with a noosed rope giving rise to the film’s own version of legendary tense stand-offs where pistols are at the ready. With gunshots ringing out, the ease with which the film gets over its issues based around fear and compassion was a joy to behold as well as continuing to challenge expectations by playing with the archaic tropes of white heroes and minority villains.

Filmed with the mute slave in a position of unique power instead of persecution – even “winding” the child-like soldier at one point – Black Hill shows what local filmmakers can create when they have a strong vision, great location and a new take on an established genre. From the blood red clothing to the dusty buildings, the film is an alternative look at Westerns with a few scenes paying homage to classic showdowns all finishing with a well executed frontier finale. 8/10 Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Jun 17 2014 06:29PM

Laura Cotton is a 3rd year film production student studying at the University of Derby who is in the process of fundraising for her final year degree show film. Heavily inspired by the works of H.P.Lovecraft, ‘The Copy-Writer’ is set in 1970s England and when completed, Laura and her fellow students hope to enter the film into a variety of local and international Lovecraftian and genre film festivals later this year.

The majority of the production team herald from the Midlands area and have been studying the discipline of film from a very early age in both Nottingham and Derby. The production itself will take place in the local area too and they are drawing upon support from local businesses and organisations to keep this film a local project with an international reach.

Directed and written by Liam Banks, Lovecraft's work has always been something Liam has been interested in and now having the opportunity to create his own Lovecraftian tale is a dream come true for the young filmmaker. Having directed many short films in his time at the University of Derby and in his spare time, Liam has screened them locally and entered them into various film festivals and hopes for the same success with this new project.

Horror and the world of the supernatural has always appealed to Liam so working within this genre is a real treat and he can't wait for production to get underway on this tale which tells the story of Henry, a man haunted by strange monsters but are they real or is this a slow decent into insanity?

Liam feels this project will really provide a turning point for him to "up his game" as a filmmaker and work with a host of talent to create something they can all be proud of.

Currently half way towards their goal, Laura hopes a final push by the group will help make the film a reality and you can see the latest news, cast and crew, gallery and more information about their campaign at http://thecopywriterfilm.webs.com

By midlandsmovies, Apr 19 2014 08:08AM

This feature blog is going to look at a collection of films that for better (or worse) ruined a whole genre of films for me for being either too good, too clever or simply are the pinnacle of their genre with very little competition in the subsequent years to make them anything other than the indefinable king of “that-type-of-movie”. The list unsurprisingly features many unique satires that ended up poking fun at the genre/movies that came before but also gave a fresh perspective on how we view them with a whole new take on the ideas and images we’ve grown to expect.

Scream (1996)

Well, my first example is also the best example. In 1996 after a few years in the horror wilderness, Wes Craven came back to the director’s chair with the hit movie Scream, written by Kevin Williamson, a spot on riff that deconstructed (and destroyed) the slasher genre. With Neve Campbell’s teenage Sidney Prescott and pals taunted by the serial killer Ghostface, the film’s opening telephone call scene even references a glut of horror classics and characters talk about movies, music, television and even famous catchphrases (“I’ll be right back”) related to the genre and these horror tropes were a great way of engaging a cynical 90s audience. The problem? Well, any teen/slasher film has to do something very new now in order to avoid all of the situations the film takes apart and the subsequent sequels and Scary movie pastiches (and their sequels!) meant there was very little left in this once popular genre to cover.

Cabin in the Woods (2012)

Along similar lines, by being both scary, funny and tackling concepts from an established field of movies, the Joss Whedon co-penned story went even further with its stereotypes (Jock, stoner, nerd, virgin and cheerleader) from past films and took them to a “meta”-level of interaction with the set up being part of a cleverly constructed plot line. Later the same year I watched the remake of Evil Dead (2012) and could not for the life of me get into the film such was its reminiscent imagery from the former film. Genres are genres for a reason (repeated motifs, images, situations, stock characters etc) but when a film has nailed them so well, as Cabin did, then many a subsequent film have since lost their bite.

This is Spinal Tap (1984)

It’s not just horror films (although their many sequels provide a huge problem for genre overkill) but this “mockumentary” of a 80s hair-rock band from Britain cuts to the core and resonates with any musician who has tried to play in a band and take it on the road. From the stage mishaps and faulty equipment to dreadful gigs and drummers’ songs (“Jazz Odyssey”) the spoof so brilliantly sends up the machismo and ego of singers and guitarists that subsequent REAL documentaries are now forever tainted with the Tap-esque label. Case in point is the (unintentionally) hilarious Some Kind of Monster featuring US-metallers Metallica, the awesome underdog focused Story of Anvil or even the true-life inspired but dramatic tale of Almost Famous, all of whom has Tap-related plot points from rotating members, terrible gig venues and guitarists (“with mystique”) who leave. Heavy! Duty! Heavy duty...rock n roll!

Hot Shots! Part Deux (1993)

A great sequel with Charlie Sheen reprising his role as Topper Harley who moves from the Top Gun-inspired first film into a Rambo-action fest of over-the-top violence, shoot outs and terrorist fighting with this movie poking fun at the big-screen outings of Sly/Arnie/Bruce during the decade of excess. Along with the Naked Gun style comedy and silly slapstick the film also referenced its stars’ previous films (“I loved you in Wall Street” exchanges Charlie with his dad Martin as their boats cross), the film is a terrific bout of harebrained nonsense and done with heart and knowledge of the film(s) it parodies. So what’s the point of a film like The Expendables I ask? The first was an inconsequential piece of action fluff reuniting some of the old stars for one final outing but a second (and now a third) film is embarrassing as it parodies the same genre without the budget for great action and without the wit of great comedy. No amount of (lame) Chuck Norris gags could win me over when a better film with more intriguing characters (and better acting I’d argue) already exists. Sorry folks, but the 80s happened, it was parodied, and you are too late to the party.

The Sixth Sense (1999)

We return to horror in this infamous tale of a psychiatrist who helps a lonely child come to terms with his ability to “see dead people” so what’s the problem with this one? Well, the film, which I think is a very good one (although repeated viewings are difficult to stomach once you know its twist ending) began the annoying trend in the 00s to make a film which just had to have a twist ending. So many films were then subsequently made on the back of its success, each with an increasingly ludicrous and unbelievable plot twist to manipulate an ever aware audience – but an audience who soon became sick of the “you thought it was this – but actually it is this” style of misdirection. It became a big “f*** you” by the time these films slowly started disappearing and not until Scorsese’s Shutter Island (to be fair, based on a best-selling book) did the whole argument come to a head once again. There’s nothing wrong with it but enough time needs to pass so that the unreliable narrator truly becomes a shock again. One upside however is that not only did it set the standard for the genre to destroy itself, it effectively destroyed Shyamalan’s career too - whose over-reliance on the technique became his calling card and subsequent downfall! 2 for one!

Gladiator (1999)

Ridley Scott’s Oscar winning epic tale of a commander who’s forced into slavery before rising once again as a hero of the Coliseum and defender of Rome, came out of nowhere for the first sword and sandals classic in a generation with impressive story-telling, direction, CGI and characters that amazed and impressed audiences the world over. And what have we had since? Well, Alexander (ew), Troy (OMG), Prince of Persia (good lord!), Clash of the Titans (so bad), Kingdom of Heaven (pah!) and Immortals (I give up!). Frank Miller’s 300 was a great comic book translation from the “visionary” director Zack Snyder with all the hallmarks of Gladiator itself (muscley bearded man takes rag tag band of underdogs up against evil empire) but aside from that one film which I enjoyed as a blockbusting spectacle, the genre is one mess after another. Even the spin-off of the not bad “The Mummy” had nowhere to go and The Scorpion King is known mainly for its atrocious (and notoriously unfinished) CGI finale. Are you not entertained? No, not really, Russ.

Animal House/American Pie (1999)

Simply put, the college s*x comedy has two standout films which are similar in many ways but appeal directly to their respective generation. Maybe we’re due one now but every time we get a new “teen comedy” it caters for the lowest common denominator, contains a glut of gross out gags and has been replaced with the” twi-harder-games” style teen movie set in distant worlds or with horror-undertones. Jim and the gang were loveable heart warmers rather than idiotic scumbags and subsequent attempts have mainly fallen flat for their lack of wit and soul (only Superbad has come close in recent memory) and so every time a trailer rears its ugly head (soundtracked authentically by some guff like Florence and the Machine) a bit of my heart dies knowing that this era of teens won’t have that quintessential relatable tale of getting your rocks off. The Inbetweeners was good (although taking them on holiday was an idea as old as the hills) but I am still waiting for the definitive movie of the college/uni experience in the UK. Come on Midlands movie-makers – there’s a gap right there! 

Midlands Movies Mike

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