The Crypt is back with our monthly pick of the best weird, wonderful and gore-filled horror. This month featuring Harpoon (18) Daniel Isn’t Real (15) and Horror Hospital (18).
Are you dreaming of a luxurious vacation following the stifling boredom of the global lockdown? If so, how about a leisurely trip out to sea on a yacht owned by your best friend? It all sounds so idyllic, doesn’t it? But add to that a brawl just a few hours before departure over a girl. And a toxic friendship based on jealously, secrets and lies, and maybe the planned excursion wasn’t the best move. Thus begins Canadian writer/director Rob Grant’s delicious tale of friendship, betrayal and bloody revenge in Harpoon; a film laced with survival movie cliches, dark comedy and wince-inducing bodily trauma.
Richard (Christopher Gray) and Jonah (Munro Chambers), have been friends since childhood; one living a life of spoilt luxury, while the other struggles to get by. The boy’s friendship one of anger, jealousy, financial support and toxicity. However, despite this, both men are linked irreconcilably to each other; entwined by years of fighting, one-upmanship and bravado.
However, on believing he has found evidence that Jonah’s been frisky with his girlfriend Sasha (Emily Tyra). Richard launches into a testosterone-fuelled rage; beating Jonah to within an inch of his life before Sasha storms into the apartment and breaks things up. Duly explaining to Richard that the secret texts sent between herself and Jonah had related to Richards birthday surprise; a beautiful spear gun for use on his family yacht.
Following this faux pas Richard insists on taking the two out for a relaxing cruise on the yacht. Also giving him a chance to test out the speargun, his girlfriend and best friend have purchased. However, as the trio relaxes in the sun, long-held secrets bubble to the surface; as relationships unravel in a sea of pain, accusations and power-play.
What ensues is a truly dark comedy that takes inspiration from Edgar Allen Poe’s ‘The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket‘. While also playing with the books links to the true story of the yacht named the ‘Mignonette‘ in 1884 and horrific demise of 17-year-old Richard Parker. All within a film that devilishly plays with audience compassion and animosity as events unfold.
Director: Rob Grant
Watch Harpoon now on the Arrow Video Channel
Daniel Isn’t Real (2019)
What do you get when you take the brooding mystery of Donnie Darko and mix it with the imagery and style of Jacobs Ladder? The answer is one of the most divisive yet creative horrors of 2019 ‘Daniel Isn’t Real’. I say divisive as reviews for this movie have been mixed, with many pointing to style over substance and a damaging take on mental health. However, for me, this is a horror that takes some significant creative risks. And isn’t afraid to merge psychological terror with supernatural evil. Ultimately, creating a movie that seeps under the skin of the viewer, its lasting effect far more potent than the initial viewing. And while some may find the content exploitative of mental health, and at times insensitive. The real terror sits within the supernatural world created by screenwriters Brian DeLeeuw and Adam Egypt Mortimer.
The film opens inside a relaxed coffee shop in downtown New York, the customers leisurely sipping their latte’s. However, this intimate scene is quickly plunged into darkness when a lone shooter walks in; picking off each customer one by one with his shotgun. Meanwhile, a young boy, Luke (Griffin Robert Faulkner), runs away from his family home, his teddy bear in hand. Walking down the road, only to find himself outside the coffee shop where the massacre has just taken place; blood trickling down the steps of the doorway. It’s there where he meets Daniel (Nathan Chandler Reid), a slightly older child no one else can see.
Luke and Daniel quickly become inseparable; Luke’s mother initially welcoming the imaginary child into her home; her son finally happy and playful once again. But when Luke tries to kill his mum, blaming Daniel for the act, things begin to take a dark and sinister path. Ultimately, leading to the banishment of his imaginary friend into an antique doll’s house.
We then move into the present day, as Luke (Miles Robbins), now a college student, struggles to cope with socialising, study and a mentally ill mother; his life a mix of anxiety, repressed creativity and fear. The stress and strain of his caring duties and college work, leading him to return to the locked dollhouse. Where he duly sets free the imaginary Daniel (Patrick Schwarzenegger). Unleashing the force he played with as a child, in an attempt to find his confidence and place. A choice that Luke quickly comes to regret as Daniel slowly takes over his actions in a Jekyll and Hyde game of cat and mouse.
Daniel Isn’t Real may not be perfect; faltering somewhat in the final act, with the result splitting audiences and critics alike. But it equally burns itself into memory, with a vibrant colour palette, engaging sound mix and good performances lingering in the mind long after the credits roll. The audience plunged into a pit of mental anguish, supernatural control and demonic possession.
Director: Adam Egypt Mortimer
Watch Daniel Isn’t Real now on Amazon Prime Video
Horror Hospital (1973)
The 1970s gave us some of the best horrors ever made; however, Horror Hospital is not one of them. So why I hear you ask is it a Bloody Monday recommendation? The answer is simple, its a delicious slice of low budget 70s filmmaking that is so stuck in its time it becomes addictive viewing. From Nazi-inspired doctors to quirky British humour and leather-clad bikers; Horror Hospital is quintessentially British while bathing its audience in 70s sex, gore and screams. Its attempt to challenge the might and stability of Hammer Horror leading to an over the top, humorous and decidedly camp affair. And while many may now find the 70s dialogue dated and at times offensive. Horror Hospital is a gem of 70s low budget moviemaking that tries to give the audience everything they desire in gore laden camp horror.
The film opens with a young couple covered in bandages running through what appears to be a scruffy piece of council-owned woodland near the M25. Both of the young escapees (covered in bright red ketchup) find themselves hunted by a car. Inside of which sits Doctor Storm (Michael Gough) and his vertically-challenged helper, Frederick (Skip Martin). In a riff on James Bond the car suddenly develops a rather nasty spring-loaded blade from its hood; slicing the heads off both our escapees with a single cut, a neat little bag catching the ketchup covered polystyrene heads. At this point, it’s only proper to state that the blade is not at the right height to cut a head off (but of course this is a minor quibble).
We then cut to a glam rock music venue in London, where ‘T-Rex’ wannabes are playing their latest song. The annoyed and aggrieved writer of the track Jason (Robin Askwith) sulking behind the stage as he is replaced as the lead singer by a Greta Garbo inspired drag act. An act that eventually leads to a ludicrous pub brawl and Jasons realisation that he needs a break from the band. A decision that ultimately leads him to the offices of ‘Hairy Holidays’. Where sun and fun for people under 30 are guaranteed by a travel agent who is far more interested in what’s inside Jason’s tight jeans.
Ignoring the fact ‘Hairy Holidays’ seems slightly strange, Jason immediately books a place at Bristlehurst Manor Health Clinic. Thus, boarding a British Rail service to the back end of nowhere, where he meets the innocent Judy (Vanessa Shaw); our young travellers immediately hitting it off over a shared apple and a slice of cheese. At the same time, Jason makes it quite clear that he has no intention of ‘raping’ her in the British rail carriage; a strange conversation that seems to have come directly from ‘Confessions of a Window Cleaner‘. However, this seems to allay Judy’s fears as they near their final destination; Dr Storms health club come lair (otherwise known as Knebworth House, Hertfordshire).
Horror Hospital is a delicious slice of tongue in cheek 70s camp gore, layered with themes that would ultimately find a more assured and scary voice in A Cure for Wellness (2016). But if a trip back into saucy and humourous low budget horror appeals then this is an unmissable slice of British filmmaking.
Director: Antony Balch