Don’t forget Darrell’s new book Dead Or Alive: British Horror Films 1980-1989 is available to buy now.
Festival edition paperback is available at £20 direct from Darrell via Paypal to Darrell@buxton.freeserve.co.uk
Or you could plump for the gorgeous hardback at £60 via Lulu – here
KILL, GRANNY, KILL!
Paul Cotgrove’s Horror On Sea film festival has been the post-Christmas place to be for intrepid gorehounds in recent times. For the past three Januarys Paul and his team have sourced and offered up a gruesome weekend of brand new horror treats. I’m a regular at Horror on Sea and have been amazed at the sheer quality and standard of much of the work on show. Theses are good times for the fright film fanatic if you know where to look; sure there’s heaps of dreadful old rubbish out in the marketplace but festival organisers such as Paul, or our friends Chris Cooke and Steven Sheil over at Nottingham’s ‘Mayhem’ are able to sift their way through to the prime meat.
During Paul’s packed programme in snowy Southend this winter, I was particularly taken by the little gem we’re unveiling for you tonight. It’s called KILL, GRANNY, KILL! and frankly I could stop my intro right there, couldn’t I? That title alone tells you that these boys and girls have exploitation chops aplenty.
What truly surprised me as KILL, GRANNY, KILL! unfolded was how much it resembled the golden era of American drive-in classics. I’m talking about the type of regional horror movie that Stephen Thrower covered in immense depth in his weighty book ‘Nightmare USA’ a couple of years ago. KILL, GRANNY, KILL! most reminded me of movies like the ones Harry Novak used to produce in the late seventies, films like THE CHILD and AXE (released over here as, respectively, ZOMBIE CHILD and CALIFORNIA AXE MASSACRE, in a rare case of the British distributor bumping up the shock value rather than watering it down via a title change). Now I know what you may be thinking – is this going to be like Tarantino and Rodriguez’ GRINDHOUSE, an attempt at faux retro chills? Or the cheaper end of the 70s/early 80s revival, a la recent DVD fare such as the Bigfoot/biker/mad scientist mash-up DEAR GOD NO!? Well let me reassure you – KILL, GRANNY, KILL! seems to have arrived with little fanfare, no trumpeting about how the filmmakers are clothing their cast in items from the ‘vintage’ rack, no grading their image to resemble faded stock or projector-worn prints, no adding fake pops and scratches. No, it seems that director Jacob Ennis and his crew have simply gone out to make a movie, with the same level of resources that their predecessors had, on a similar ‘in the middle of fucking nowhere’ location, a cast who can just about read their lines, and a few buckets full of blood, and that the results achieved hit that old-time shocker spot just fine and dandy, and purely by accident.
Director Ennis has a few earlier titles to his credit, most notably a 2011 offering called RED RIVER – not a remake of the classic Howard Hawks cattle-driving western but a gore-drenched cannibal opus, retitled for its online rental release as HILLBILLY BLOODBATH. His next film, currently in pre-production, is called – get this – FIRST HOUSE ON THE RIGHT. Dunno about you but that appeals to me enormously.
But his finest hour – and the movie does only run just over an hour, roughly 70 minutes, doing what it has to and getting the hell out – is set before us tonight. KILL, GRANNY, KILL! would not have been out of place on the bottom half of a cinema double bill forty years ago, and if you love films from back then like CRIMINALLY INSANE, the aforementioned AXE, THE HILLS HAVE EYES, early John Waters, TOURIST TRAP, or THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN, this cheap off-the-beaten-track item will be right up your street. In the week of a General Election, give your ‘grey vote’ to a different kind of ‘Pensioner’s Party’.