Dave Wain’s essential breakdown of this week’s cavalcade of straight-to-disc treats. Step inside the DTV Junkyard…

A quick glance to the right from my Junkyard writing position deep in the bowels of one of the last remaining movie rental stores in the UK, reveals that this establishment’s Brazilian cinema section is pretty much devoid of horror. Contrary to popular belief, well, at least the beliefs of those that wrote reviews of THE FOSTERING, there was actually a vibrant macabre movie scene in the seventies led of course by the films of Jose Mojica Marins – or Coffin Joe as he’s more commonly known in the English speaking world. This veritable bounty of genre movies petered out during the mid-eighties, but the last ten years has seen somewhat of a resurgence in horror movies from this vast South American country, although few seem to make it over to the UK.

Directed by Dante Vescio and Rodrigo Gasparini, The Fostering sees Ale, Magu and Jorge go on a trip to visit their friend Apolo at his family’s farm for a weekend of fun. At the same time, Sebastiao and his younger brother Luciano are getting ready to perform the spiritual ritual their family has been tasked with every nine month for centuries. On the night the two groups meet, they find out that what they thought were scary tales, become all too real, as they’re tasked with preventing an evil being born and taking over the world.

Once again, Matchbox Films come up with the goods, and prove that in the wake of the awful news about Metrodome going into administration, that there’s someone ready and willing to grasp the mantle of releasing cool independent horror movies. The Fostering has a real regional aspect to it, rooted in Brazilian folklore, which gives it a very individualistic quality. It’s gorgeous to look at too; shot with a lush warm glow, there’s a degree of early Guillermo Del Toro here, circa The Devil’s Backbone (2001) and Cronos (1993). Drenched in atmosphere, its gradual build-up may prove a patience tester for some, but for those of us in the throes of withdrawal symptoms from this drought of quality foreign language horror, then this temporarily quenches our thirst.

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I really like to like films. An admission of the obvious that may be, but it’s evident at times that some bloggers write purely for the purposes of berating other people’s creative endeavours. However, when a film comes along like CRY WOLF, that is so woefully bad that you actually feel embarrassed for the people acting in it, then I find it very hard to soften the blow of critical annihilation

When the gruesome death of a local girl at the fangs of a rabid monster causes alarm and hysteria, it seems something strange is at play in the little English village of Deddington. An investigation is launched as desperate reporters, crazy detectives and revenge seeking hunters descend on the town to find this mysterious and deadly beast before anyone else is killed.

I understand criticism is subjective, but I think you’d struggle to find anyone with anything remotely positive to say about Cry Wolf. The thing is, I quite liked Deadtime, Tony Jopia’s debut feature, not just because it was written by brothers’ old school-mate Stephen Bishop, but because despite its relative mediocrity, there was enough there to hint at genuine ambition and ingenuity. Here though, the insistence on making a comedy-horror is the nucleus of all wrongdoing.

Its. Not. Funny.

More than that, it’s cringingly unfunny. Have you ever seen Eldorado, the cinematic abortion directed by former jailbird Richard Driscoll? If you have, you’ll no doubt remember Jeff Fahey gyrating and miming (badly) to a reggae version of Pink Floyd’s Groove Me, well, Jopia’s film manages to out-do that for sheer fist-chewing red-faced shamefulness, as assorted cast members adopt bad accents, head-scratching costumes, and a sense of comic timing that makes Danny Dyer’s Run For Your Wife seem like the comedic equivalent of Airplane!

Ironically, the blood, gore and make-up aren’t too shabby for a low budget movie, which makes you wonder why the whole shebang wasn’t played straight. And Caroline Munro is in it too, which is always a good thing, right? Aside from that, I implore you to ignore the rather appealing artwork that graces this release from Kaleidoscope, and avoid this at all costs.

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A brief word on Kaleidoscope’s other release this week HOUSE OF BODIES, which while far better than their other one, never really lives up to relatively intriguing storyline. As incarcerated serial-killer Henry Lee Bishop (Peter Fonda) serves his sentence on Death Row, strange happenings arise in his former home. Now a gloomy and neglected structure, the house has been taken over by a murder re-enactment voyeur website, and becomes the setting for a new set of ghastly crimes, as one-by-one the actresses become genuine prey to a terrifying copycat killer.

With Fonda, Terrence Howard and Queen Latifah in the cast too, you’d be right to demand a little more from this DTV’er. But stopwatches at the ready, as this former A-list threesome are very much on the periphery of the narrative. Director Alex Merkin has previous in the genre with the very agreeable Across the Hall with Brittany Murphy under his belt. Here though, it just feels a little disjointed, with the tech savvy chatroom-based horror, which pre-dates Hacked and Ratter, feeling a little out of place when spliced with the prison-set face to face discussions of two grizzled character actors.

The house based shenanigans are effectively done, and on the surface there is a damn fine slasher movie just desperate to break out, but the insistence on the jail-based framework kills the flow of the movie, and by the end it feels like a lost opportunity.

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All of this week’s discs were released in the UK on the 15th August 2016


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