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By midlandsmovies, Jun 23 2019 02:02PM



Leicester Horror Con 2019


Ghouls, demons and creatures of the night descended upon Leicester on Saturday 22nd June 2019 for the launch of the first ever Leicester Horror Con.


Hosted by Nathan Leverton, who previously organised Leicester Comic Con, the convention took place over a number of venues. The Dark Market, a bazaar of the bizarre, was hosted at The Guildhall Museum, a notoriously haunted venue that’s ironically located a stone’s throw from the Cathedral, where ghouls fear to tread.


Vendors lined the halls, selling all manner of curios and treasures. T-shirts, collectables, more schlock and exploitation films than you can shake a severed arm at – that’s the just the tip of the bloody iceberg.




There were a number of hand-crafted products too, from gory Zombears to deliciously macabre resin sculptures of horror icons like Freddy, Jason and, er, Mr. Bean. Pins, badges, stickers, posters, even cushions – there was such a range on offer that I wish I could have bought one of everything!


The Guildhall also played host to a number of special guests, including Jared Blanchard (the best of Stephen King’s psychotic high school bullies, Henry Bowers in the original ‘IT’ miniseries), Madeline Smith (Scream Queen and Hammer Horror veteran) and the guest I was most excited to meet, Hugo Myatt. He’s only bloody Tregard from Knightmare! My inner child was jumping up and down with joy when he kindly obliged me with a couple of ‘oooh nasty!’s.


The guests weren’t the only horror legends roaming the grounds, though. Thanks to the wonderful efforts of cosplaying attendees, such luminaries as Jason Vorhees, a Maniac Cop, The Walking Dead’s Negan and even child-stealing Krampus himself stalked the grounds. It must have been extremely hot in that heavy goaty costume, I do hope they kept hydrated! There was also a delightful puppet named Barry The Bat Beaver and a trio of masked home invader straight out of You’re Next.




Firebug Bar also got in on the fun, offering themed cocktails and hosting screenings and guest talks in their upstairs rooms. They showed a wonderfully creepy short ‘Teddy Bears Picnic’ about a child who meets a grisly playmate in the woods, directed by talented movie-poster-designer Thomas Hodge.


Then came a screening of House of the Gorgon, which is a love letter to Hammer Horror by low-budget auteur Joshua Kennedy – luckily they screen some (lots of) trailers for his other movies so we would be prepared for quite how tongue-in-cheek this was meant to be.


Mind you, he nailed the tone, so while it was extremely silly it was definitely entertaining, and he managed to cast legends like Caroline Munro and Christopher Neame to give it an extra ring of authenticity. Definitely go check it out! Unfortunately a sudden migraine meant I couldn’t stay for the screening of Drag Me to Hell, but I’m sure it went down a treat with everyone there as you can’t go wrong with a bit of Sam Raimi.




In all, this was an excellent event. It was managed smoothly, and the crowds were well-handled. I was concerned on the way there that this might be a re-run of EM-Con’s inaugural event in Nottingham, where there were too many people for the venue, and it all went a little pear-shaped. I needn’t have worried; the organisers clearly knew what they were doing and the event was in very capable hands.


Splitting between two venues (with special offers on horror boardgames at Bean Gaming Café) was clearly a wise choice as it ensured neither venue was overrun on the day.


Here’s hoping that next year goes just as smoothly and that the con goes from strength to strength, with even better guests (can we have Jeffrey Combs next year, please?).


I’ll certainly be rising from the grave to go back!


Sam Kurd


Twiter @Splend


By midlandsmovies, Aug 31 2017 03:44PM

2017 Movie Catch-Up Blog Part 3




24x36: A Movie about Movie Posters (2017) Dir. Kevin Burke

This documentary concerns the lost (and now maybe regained) art of the illustrated movie poster. With conversations from key artists over the last 40 years, the film shines a nostalgic light to the changes within the industry from the iconic (and painted) nature of the past to the resistance of the homogenised digital ‘Photoshop-ing’ of the present. It also follows the resurgence of the MONDO brand who, in the absence of Hollywood’s calling, filled the gap for creative, limited edition, screen-printed posters which has grown into an underground (but maybe no more) phenomenon. The doc is structured with the usual voice-overs and interviews yet despite its average structure, if you’re a fan of the subject then it does a great deal to explain the industry’s avoidance of creative risks with the increase use of focus groups. Similar to “Drew: The Man Behind the Poster” (2013) – a doc focused on the most famous poster-creator of them all Drew Struzan – the passion of the collectors just pulls it over the line – as was a surprise appearance from Leicester’s own Thomas Hodge whose 80s-flavoured posters are part of the scene’s rebirth. As a fan of alternative poster art (see our blogs here & here) I enjoyed the documentary, but for the passing fan however, it may be a bit too bland in style to grab you like well-designed placard. 6.5/10




Prevenge (2017) Dir. Alice Lowe

A pregnant woman who commits murder owing to voices she believes come from her unborn foetus is the dark narrative from this new British comedy horror. I had high hopes for this film after a spate of fine reviews yet right off the bat, the film is neither shocking nor comedic enough to warrant such regard. The movie’s positives include a terrific turn by writer/director/actor Alice Lowe who brings some depth to the troubled character but it delivered a poor script that thought it was far cleverer than it was. The overall feel was a few “skits” tied together with an over-arching and confusingly delivered narrative. The themes of female passions are surface level at best and an (almost) hand-held filming style meant I couldn’t get beyond the mix of its low budget technical style combined with the self-important themes and 6th Form-level wit. Apparently it was filmed in 2 weeks and boy can you tell. No laughs and no scares make Prevenge a dull girl. 4/10




Opening Night (2017) Dir. Isaac Rentz

A low budget frolic into the world of the musical stage sees Topher Grace playing a backstage producer of a new show that is as haphazard as it is a giant mess. Mixing the front of house musical numbers with the chaotic backstage antics of divas and dead-headed actors, the film is a light-hearted and enthusiastic tribute to the stresses of putting on a professional performance for the first time. Grace brings his inoffensive but warm persona from That 70s Show and a great comedic support cast delivers a stock love-story that, like the show within the film, wins the audience over despite its amateurism. Even though I’ve toured in a rock band myself, I have but a passing interest in film musicals as bursting into song in the middle of a scene has never really connected with me away from the stage. However, Opening Night is itself a meta-musical with the actors at times singing and dancing ‘outside’ of their own show. In many ways it works much more naturally than the artificial construct of most musicals. Like Moulin Rouge, well known pop songs are mixed with a handful of originals (which helps) and overall the movie avoids blandness as it harmlessly pokes fun at the crazy dramas of the theatrical world. 6.5/10




It Comes at Night (2017) Dir. Trey Edward Shults

Another film coming with a raft of praise-worthy reviews, this minimalist horror-drama also sadly fails to live up to expectations with a story about an unknown contagious disease and two families’ attempts at secluding themselves in the forest away from its ravages. One unit is headed by Joel Edgerton delivering an intense rage-filled role we’ve come to expect from him. He tries to ensure the safety of his family with a firm-hand and strict set of rules until he crosses paths with Will (Christopher Abbott) and his wife and child. The two then come together for both company and the sharing of scarce resources. However, the slow build up creates an unsettling distrust and from ‘sleepwalking’ children to barking dogs, the filmmaker aims to increase both the character’s and audience’s paranoia throughout. With dream and nightmare sequences though, the film is very ambiguous in what it is presenting. This at times works owing to the fear of the unknown but unfortunately this ‘open-to-interpretation’ delivery is stretched to a point of confusion. As the water and supplies dwindled, so did my interest and the director delivered some stock Hollywood horrors (a tree rustle here, a locked red door there – ooh spooky) whilst the investigations and infections come to an unsatisfying conclusion. It’s therefore a big shame the film failed to grab me as there are a few glimpses of a more narratively coherent horror in here. Yet It Comes at Night is ultimately a well-filmed and beautifully lit chamber-piece that some viewers will find tense, ambiguous and atmospheric whilst I predict a majority will come away simply bored to death. 5.5/10


Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Aug 4 2017 07:49AM



Midlands Movies speaks to local legend Thomas Hodge aka The Dude Designs who for years has been respected as one of the best alternative poster designers out there but who now has taken his first steps into making his very own film.


Thomas Hodge is the poster artist behind Hobo with A Shotgun (2011) The Innkeepers (2011) The Heat (2013) WolfCop (2014) and many more, as well as the author of VHS: Video Cover Art (2015). This book is the first of its kind to comprehensively bring together the artwork on UK VHS covers from the '80s to the '90s.


But now Tom is now proud to present his first stint in the director's chair with 'Teddy Bears Picnic', a proof-of-concept short film selected to premiere at this year's Fright Fest in London.


Written, produced, directed and financed by Tom himself, the film stars US actress Abby Miller (Justified, Aquarius & The Sinner TV series) and Laurence R Harvey (Human Centipede 2+3, ABCs of Death 2 & The Editor) yet was shot entirely in the Midlands at Welford in Northampton.


“I'm VERY excited to announce my first film project at long last!” says Tom who has kept the project behind guarded doors during its production. He adds, “It’s great the film is also showing at Fright Fest in London on the 28th August and with a world-wide online release to follow I hope it’s possible to develop it into a feature”.



The film revolves around a mother and daughter playing games in the forest but unbeknownst to them there is somebody watching their every move. Filmed entirely on location in the rural woodlands of the English Northampton countryside, Tom describes the short as "a year-long trip in terms of production but seven years of work in total”.


“I've been hands-on throughout, donning many new creative hats to produce, direct, art-direct and edit for the first time. I spent months making props, building creepy woodlands and creating original costumes."


Tom says how he was inspired by the 1907 melody of the same name, “Teddy Bears Picnic re-envisions the childhood song as a nightmarish fable that twists the concept of childhood innocence. I particularly loved the creativity of high concept horror in the '70s and '80s – from the films of Charles Band to the pulp horror novels of Guy N. Smith. So I wanted to take classic character-driven horror and develop it to suit contemporary tastes, with a strongly stylised visual approach”.


Tom also had the invaluable input of an “amazing director of photography" James Fox and the help and support from co-producer Natalie Dorn who also sacrificed a year for production. A musical score by Sophie Galpin (Pins-band) and sound design by Todd Freeman (Cell Count & Love Sick) add to the small cast and crew alongside co-writer Russell Norris.


With a set of teaser trailers being released online over the next month, you can get updates on the film at Tom’s YouTube channel - click here


And check out Tom’s poster art at https://www.thedudedesigns.com




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