Saturday Night at the Movies: 5 Great British Horror Films

I  know, book blog but Halloween is fast approaching and I am a BIG fan of horror movies so I couldn’t resist doing a post on some of my favorites. This, the first of two posts (I couldn’t limit myself to one), is all about British horror films.

I’m very possibly biased but I truly think that Britain has produced some of the best ever horror films. They do tend to be a little low budget but they definitely make up for it with good story lines and brilliant dialogue. There are a lot of great films but I think these are my favorites.

5. Dog Soldiers (2002)

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What’s it about – A group of soldiers versus a pack of werewolves in the Scottish wilderness.

Why I love it – There don’t seem to be many werewolf movies so that’s a big plus and this one while being pretty low budget is really well made. There are a few twists that I didn’t expect, great acting, a decent script and I really liked the military aspects. The werewolves themselves are kind of funny looking, it is low budget after all, but still very watchable.

Fear Factor – It has it’s moments but it’s difficult to take the werewolves seriously when they are so comical looking.

4. The Descent

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What’s it about – A group of friends decide to go and explore some caves, but they’re not the only ones down there.

Why I love it – It’s dark, it’s claustrophobic, the things in the cave are properly scary and it’s very, very violent. The best thing though is that it’s really a survival story and it is brilliant to watch how each of them react to the situation, firstly when they realize they’re stuck in the caves and then when they realize they’re not alone. Some are all about the team work and others mean to survive by any means possible.

Fear Factor – Pretty high although that could be just me as I’m a little bit claustrophobic and you would never catch me down in those caves in the first place. There’s a lot of shocks, sudden violence and will definitely have you watching from between your fingers.

3. 28 Days Later (2002)

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What’s it about – Zombies!!!! Kind of like the Walking Dead, bloke wakes up in hospital in London to discover most of the population has been infected with a virus.

Why I love it – Zombies!!!! I love a zombie film, they are the absolute best movie monster because they have literally no feelings, no conscience and no sense of self preservation. Also the scene where he initially wakes and is literally the only person on the streets of London is stunning.

Fear Factor – There are quite a few shocks and scares but it’s probably more gory than terrifying.

2. Severence (2006)

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What’s it about – A group of sales executives on a corporate retreat in Eastern Europe somehow end up at the wrong cabin, the very wrong cabin.

Why I love it – There is a lot of bad language, nudity, sexual references, drug use and over the top violence but it’s hilarious. The humor is definitely dark but it just makes me giggle. Danny Dyer is fantastic in the lead but the other characters are also perfectly cast. There are quite a few who remind me of aspects of my co workers and I love all of the little resentments between them.

Fear Factor – Yeah, there are a few bits that will make you jump and it’s a little bit creepy in places but this is much more about the humor and the violence.

1. Shaun of the Dead (2004)

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What’s it about – A man decides to turn his moribund life around by winning back his ex-girlfriend, reconciling his relationship with his mother, and dealing with an entire community that has returned from the dead to eat the living.

Why I love it – Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Do I need to say anything else? OK, I love the humor and just how long it takes the pair of them to realize the world is being taken over by zombies. It definitely makes a very valid point about how we kind of sleepwalk through life not paying attention to the things going on around us. Although I would hope I would notice the end of the world. I also love just how crap their plan is. I’m fairly positive that should there ever be a zombie apocalypse I will probably be the first to go.

Fear Factor – It describes itself as a RomZomCom so pretty low. There is the odd creepy moment and quite a bit of blood and gore but it’s more funny than scary.

So that’s my five favorite British horror movies. Have you watched any of them? What did you think? Are there any you think should be included in this list or that you would recommend?


Fifty Shades of the Giver – A mini book film fest

So I took a break from reading over the weekend and decided to watch a few films based on books (basically a mini book film fest). I am a big movie fan but as a rule I find that films are never as good as the book they are based on. I almost always try to read the book before watching the film so that the film doesn’t influence my reading experience. I will quite often use the trailers at the cinema as a source of new books to add to my to be read shelf.

Anyway first up, mostly because it was early on a Friday evening, was The Giver. I have to admit I haven’t actually read the book this film is based on. I do have it on my to be read pile but I’ve somehow never really got to it. Having watched the film I’m not sure I’ll bother. It’s an interesting enough plot. Dystopian future where everyone is assigned a role in life, information, behaviour and language is controlled and everything seems fairly dull. The main character is assigned the privileged role of receiver of memories but what he learns shakes up his views of society. Overall I found the whole thing a little dull and ended up only half watching and half playing games on my tablet which is never a good sign. Overall I’d probably give it 2 out of 5.

Once it hit 9pm I figured it was safe to watch Fifty Shades of Grey. OK I know the books are really bad but I kind of love them and have read them more than once. I was therefore both excited about and dreading the film but I figured Jamie Dornan is somewhat attractive so if the worst happened at least I could ogle him. I have to say I’m not sure about the film. It did hold my attention which at the moment is quite unusual for me (see previous paragraph on the Giver) but most of my time was spent comparing to the books. I think I can kind of understand why there were so many disagreements between the author and director. The relationship comes across quite differently in the film and I’m not sure I like it. I also found some of the scenes a little cringeworthy and felt embarrassed for the actors. It’s not a film I’ll be rushing to watch again but if they ever manage to make the sequel Fifty Shades Darker I’d definitely be interested in seeing where the story goes. 3.5 out of 5.

So, into Saturday and I was in the mood for something a little lighter. I spent the afternoon watching Chalet Girl which is not based on a book (as far as I know) but is fab so thought I’d give it a shout out. What’s not to love about a girl overcoming loss and fighting to make it in a new extreme sport while smart mouthing a load of posh folks. It would definitely be a 5 out of 5. I also came across Gone with the Wind which is another film I love. Unfortunately I didn’t have a spare four hours to watch it so only saw a little bit but it would also rate a 5. [As an aside I’m a big fan of Clarke Gable but I heard a rumour years ago that he had really bad breath so now whenever I watch him, particularly in kissing scenes, I can’t help wondering if it is torture for his poor co star and that’s why they look so overcome.]

Saturday evening and I decided it was time for some more young adult fantasy so watched the Mortal Instruments and Divergent. The Mortal Instruments gets a lot of bad reviews but I kind of like it. It’s missing some of the humour from the books and I’m not sure I like the casting of the secondary characters but Lily Collins is great as Clary and the effects are pretty good. It’s a bit disappointing that they aren’t making the rest of the books into films but at least there’s a TV series to look forward to. 4 out of 5. Divergent should be a really good film and I remember being excited when I saw the trailer for it years ago but for me it doesn’t quite work. I just don’t think the casting is right and it seems like they’ve gone for the safer option to get a lower rating and missed out a lot of the violence. The training just isn’t as extreme and there isn’t the same level of threat as in the books which makes it a little dull. 3 out of 5.

The final film of the weekend was Jurassic World. Jurassic Park was one of the first films I can remember going to see in the cinema with my family so I’m very attached to the whole series. Jurassic Park is also one of those rare films that I think is better than the book. The special effects just make it so much more real and alive than my imagination can manage. Jurassic World is set years after the first film, with the park having been up and running for a while. There are a few nods and references to the original but dinosaurs are at risk of becoming extinct again as visitors want new and more exciting attractions. This leads to a genetically modified dinosaur (like that would ever be a good idea) which then escapes and runs wild through the park killing whatever is in its path. I love a good disaster/monster movie and therefore loved this film for the most part. There were a couple of parts where it felt like the makers, in a similar way to the owners of the park, were trying a little too hard. Can we make the monster bigger and scarier than what’s come before? What would happen in a fight between this dinosaur and that one? Who would win? I still enjoyed it but sometimes less is more. 4.5 out of 5.

So other than starting to watch Under the Dome yesterday that was the end of my book related viewing. Has anyone else seen any of these, what did you think? Any recommendations for future book related film fests?