Our monthly pick of the best weird, wonderful and gore filled horror available to stream or buy now on all major platforms. This month features Dead Shack (15) The Banana Splits Movie (18) and Turbo Kid (18).
Dead Shack (2017)
Let’s face it there is no shortage of zombie movies in our world, most playing with imagery and themes created by Romero in his classic Night of the Living Dead. With Dead Shack also keen to embrace the classic zombie movie cliches of its predecessors. As an isolated house, scary woods and family under siege sit at the heart of the flesh munching action. So why, I hear you ask are we recommending it? The answer to this is simple; It’s bloody good fun. With dry Canadian humour rippling through every scene. Alongside engaging performances, gore and delicious physical effects work. Providing us with a Canadian gem of comedy/horror, its boyish charm and teenage spirit shining through the blood and brains.
Based on a classic ‘cabin in the woods’ premise, Dead Shack does not deviate from the tried and tested zombie format. As 14-year-old Jason (Matthew Nelson-Mahood) escapes from his home for a weekend in the woods with best friend Colin (Gabriel LaBelle); his older sister Summer (Lizzie Boys); their dad Roger (Donavon Stinson) and his girlfriend Lisa (Valerie Tian). The small run-down cabin providing a place to chill out, drink and play card games. However, not far up the road, a doting mother protects her unique family at all costs with family mealtimes a sinister game of cat and mouse.
With a nicely paced build-up of both horror and comedy, Dead Shack gloriously unpicks the family unit. Openly challenging the notion that adults know best, by placing its teen leads in charge of the action. With a script that hums with some brilliantly timed comedy, while also enabling characters to grow. Meanwhile, blood and gore flow through practical effects work full of heart and soul. Creating a truly engaging and entertaining zombie horror that shines with humour.
Director: Peter Ricq
Watch Dead Shack now on Shudder
The Banana Splits Movie (2019)
Who here remembers The Banana Splits? Those strange looking man-sized animals that formed a rock band on TV. Trying to emulate the success of The Monkees in foam, fur and rubber under the Hanna-Barbera brand. To me, The Banana Splits were always decidedly creepy, each character carrying a whiff of psychosis. Therefore, when Warner Brothers announced a Banana Splits Movie you would have been forgiven for thinking it would shrink-wrap childhood memories in an impenetrable bubble of nostalgia. But no; instead our furry friends become deranged robot killers, slowly wiping out their nostalgia loving audience with glee. In what can only be described as a brave, inventive and gore-soaked return of the late sixties TV show.
In an alternate present-day where The Banana Splits continue to dominate the TV schedules. Young Harley (Finlay Wojtak-Hissong) is one of their biggest fans, their TV show providing him with an hour of escapism every week. His birthday providing an opportunity for his mum Beth (Dani Kind) to arrange a special surprise; a visit to the Banana Splits live recording. Harley is, of course, delighted, even though his dad Mitch (Steve Lund) is less than enthused. So with his hormonal teenage brother Austin (Romeo Carere) and young school friend in tow, the family arrives at the studios for his birthday treat. Unaware that this will be the final ever Banana Splits show, the singing and dancing robots planning a bloody spectacular.
Mixing elements of Child’s Play with Westworld, director Danishka Esterhazy creates a deliciously dark nostalgia fest. Where Children’s TV becomes a nightmare of epic proportions for an audience of fans, young and old. But the real bravery and creativity come from the decision to subvert The Banana Splits legacy. Something that viewers with either lap up or struggle to accept as childhood memories turn to horror.
Director: Danishka Esterhazy
Watch The Banana Splits now on Amazon Prime Video
Turbo Kid (2015)
As a film-obsessed teenager of the late 1980s and early 90s my local video rental store was a magical movie cave filled with wonder and potential. The endless shelves of shiny VHS boxes providing me with a pick n mix heaven. Through which I would spend whole afternoons searching for my Saturday night entertainment. Often leaving the shop cradling my precious tapes with a large bar of Dairy Milk chocolate for the viewing ahead.
Like so many teenagers of my era, straight to VHS films offered rich pickings. Their low budget effects and rushed composition either striking gold or sinking into a pit of movie oblivion as I munched my way through snacks in the comfort of my bedroom. The hum of the TV and whirring of the VHS player all I needed to feel at home.
Joyously taking the festival circuit by storm in 2015 ‘Turbo Kid’ is a movie that understands these teenage film hunting expeditions. Bathing its audience in a delightfully retro straight to VHS story that is layered with lashings of blood and humour. Its synthesised score, BMX bikes and 80s inspired action taking the audience right back to those glorious days of fuzzy VHS tapes and endless trailers. All within a post-apocalyptic 1997, where global warming has killed off the majority of the human race. The survivors living in tin sheds and underground bunkers while drinking water made from juicing other humans.
Enter our unlikely BMX riding orphaned hero (Munro Chambers); a teenager who scavenges the landscape outside his bunker hoarding ’80s and ’90s relics. His love of Turbo Man comic books offering a brief glimpse of his destiny. However on becoming attached (literally) to a peculiar girl named Apple. The ‘kids’ life suddenly changes as he comes into direct conflict with the sadistic gangster Zeus, played by Michael Ironside.
If this all sounds slightly nuts; it is! but it is also a rare delight. Embracing its retro action, guts and gore with pride while paying homage to the best in 80s video rental horror.
Watch Turbo Kid now on Amazon Prime Video
Bloody Monday returns on 3rd August 2020 with three more classic picks
Why not check out this months visit to the Cinerama archive with Knife + Heart