We'll start our trawl though the best (and worst) of recent horror DVD releases with the only movie in our countdown to get a (limited) theatrical release. Wolf Creek was one of the most savage horror movies of the last few years and Greg MacLean is back with more terror in the outback with rampaging crocodile flick Rogue (Icon) ●●● it's your standard Jaws affair stripped of the brutality of MacLean's debut, but entertaining none-the-less.
We'll keep things down under with The Antony I Giannane Box Set: Ozploitation Horror! (Britfilms.tv) ●●● with three 70s/80s Aussie movies: offbeat vampire thriller Thirst, Robert Powell as the lone survivor of a plane crash in The Survivor based on James Herbert's ghost story and Powell returns as a psychic trickster in Harlequin.
Now for a triple bill of the undead. I Sell the Dead (Anchor Bay) ●●● never quite lives up to its promise as Dominic Monaghan and Larry Fessenden rob graves, battling vampires and zombies along the way, in this kooky Hammer Horror homage. Zombie comedy Wasting Away (Kaleidoscope) ●●● has it's moments but fails as much as it succeeds. Videogames are never the best source material for film adaptations though Chanbara Beauty (Manga) ●●● features bikini clad babes hacking up zombies which is always entertaining but ultimately repetitive.
Next we go searching for ghosts. Messengers 2: The Scarecrow (Icon) ●● is the direct-to-DVD prequel to the underwhelming Kirsten Stewart haunted farmhouse vehicle. No Stewart this time around just a slow story about, you guessed it, an evil scarecrow on the loose. Whatever happened to Thora Birch? Here she stars alongside Brittany Murphy in Deadline (Metrodome) ●●● as a writer moves to an isolated retreat that (surprise, surprise) turns out to be haunted. Cop out ending mind you. From Within (Contender) ●●● features a small town affected by multiple suicides that jump from one victim to the next like a virus, could witchcraft be involved? Creepy at times with decent acting from the young cast throughout. The Books of Blood (Lionsgate) ●●● is another haunted house story, this time set in Edinburgh and based on the short story by Clive Barker, starts strong but can't quite capture the dark perversity of Barker's writing. Death of a Ghost Hunter (Brain Damage) ●●● manages some genuine scares on a micro budget but is the only film we can recommend from Brain Damage's new budget horror range (other titles include Prey for the Beast, Torture Me No More and Silent Blood Night at £2.99 each) with a clear conscience.
Finally it's time for some slice and dice action. If you love the films of Herschell Gordon Lewis, Smash Cut (Lionsgate) ●●● is the perfect homage to his early splatter movies with a cast led by David Hess, as a crazed director who turns to murder, it captures the stilted acting, creaking camera angles and cheapo gore (and features a cameo from HGL himself) but if you're not in on the joke it might just come across as stilted, creaky and cheap. There are far better backwoods serial killer Texas Chainsaw Massacre-rip offs than Cameron (son of George A) Romero's Staunton Hill (Anchor Bay) ●● who doesn't seem to have inherited any of his father's skill, but at least when the action kicks in it's suitably gruesome. Taking post natal depression as its starting point Cradle Will Fall (Momentum) ●●● is a shocking film as a mother's insanity explodes into violence directed at her own children. The opening is powerful and disturbing (watching a mother murder her own children in graphic detail is one of few taboos left in modern cinema) but it soon degenerates into tense, but standard, slasher formula. An amazing performance from the young Ridge Canipe is a real stand out. Dr Chopper (MVM) ● is a cheap slasher with a mad doctor trying to carve up a group of teens to collect blood and organs for his bizarre experiments, but is devoid of any thrills. Mr Halloween (MVM) ● is even more painful as a serial killer uses real body parts as props in his Halloween haunted house attraction. It's a very very impressive home movie, but a dreadful (and very long, at 110 mins) feature film. But we'll end on a high note: imagine if Pedro Almodóvar remade Scream and you might end up with something like Sexy Killer (Momentum) ●●●● a smart and sassy Spanish slasher movie that has Marcarena Gómez carving up her college classmates before throwing a whole heap of zombies into the mix in the final reel. Funny, clever and gloriously self-aware.