REVIEWS

LATEST | FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS

Ash - Book Review
By James Whittington, Tuesday 9th April 2013

Ash Book CoverAsh

James Herbert

Pan

ISBN - 100230706967

RRP - £7.99

Any release from James Herbert was worth taking notice of and Ash, which was released a few days before his untimely death, is one of his finest titles. It contains all of the skilful plotting and crowd pleasing chills that he was rightly renowned for, but it also dips its toe very much into the happenings in the world today.

David Ash - detective of the paranormal - is sent to the mysterious Comraich Castle, secluded deep in the Scottish countryside, to investigate a strange, high-profile case: a man has been found crucified in a room that was locked. The reports suggest that the cliff-top castle is being haunted. Who or what is the reclusive hooded figure that Ash has seen from the window walking across the courtyard in the dead of night? What are the strange, animal-like sounds that come from the surrounding woods? And why are the castle's inhabitants so reluctant to talk about what they have seen? What Ash eventually discovers is truly shocking.

Dark and challenging, this is classic James Herbert with a neat twist. Herbert brings in real people and events to progress the narrative mainly to pin down that this story is set very much in the here and now and some may find these inclusions controversial but Herbert doesn’t just include these persons for sensationalism and each connection makes the story ever more powerful. The book, in part, can be viewed as a satirical swipe at some of the more infamous people who have been the subject of headlines over the last few decades.
Herbert uses a delicious amount of description in this novel; I swear you can almost taste and smell some moments and even though there is the odd bit of serendipitous luck in the book ,it’s a chilling experience.

David Ash (who we first met in the books The Ghosts of Sleath and Haunted) is an endearing creation and carries the book well. The horror here is very real, mostly culled from the evil that surrounds the people involved and their actions. There are copious amount of plot strands that all connect to the mysterious Comraich Castle so be prepared to take notice of every clue. Conspiracy theorists will enjoy the entangled web that unfolds, whilst lovers of his earlier work will enjoy the juicy, bloody set-pieces that’s interwoven into the paranormal plot.

Ash is James Herbert at his best, containing a good amount of chills proving that for almost four decades he had lost none of his power to shock, stun and entertain.

This review is respectively dedicated to his memory.

To try and win a library of James Herbert books click here.


MORE REVIEWS
The Psychic - Blu-ray review
Posted on Wednesday 11th August 2021
The Psychic Bluray coverThe Psychic
Shameless Entertainment
Certificate 18

The Psychic aka Murder to the Tune of the 7 Black Notes aka Death Tolls Seven Times aka Seven Notes in Black, is one of Lucio Fulci's most accomplished movies and it's finally been given a release that it truly deserves thanks to Shameless Entertainment. Often overlooked by fans of Italian cinema this is a gem of a movie from a director at the height of his creative powers.

Jennifer O'Neill plays Virginia, a person who has had psychic powers since childhood, starting with the trauma of having sensed, from a great distance, the very moment of her mother's suicide... Now newly married and rich, Virginia...

SHARE: READ MORE
Super 8 - 4K review
Posted on Monday 7th June 2021
Super 8 4K coverSuper 8
Paramount Home Entertainment
Certificate 12

The popularity of Stranger Things sparked an interest in all things retro sci-fi/horror 80s style but for many the true resurrection in interest came from a corker from J.J. Abrams, Super 8.

It tells the story of six friends who witness a train wreck while making a Super 8 movie, only to discover that something unimaginable escaped during the crash. They soon discover that the only thing more mysterious than what it is, is what it wants.

Bathed in retro chills and period detail, Super 8 manages to capture the innocence of youth with a punchy script and a very talented teenage cast. The smart part though i...

SHARE: READ MORE
Raw - Special Edition Blu-ray review
Posted on Wednesday 28th April 2021
Raw box setRaw (Special Edition)
Second Sight Films
Certificate 18

Original movies are few and far between but Raw manages to take a well-worn trope and give it a grim, contemporary and sophisticated twist. Its brutal, charming and in some ways innocent but don't be lulled into a false sense of security, the movie is, as the title suggests very, very raw.

Shy student Justine (Garance Marillier), heads to a veterinary school and is subjected a tough series of hazing rituals from fellow students. And it's even tougher for vegetarian Justine as she is covered in blood and forced to eat raw meat. But after tasting the flesh, Justine finds herself craving even more meat - and it doesn't matte...

SHARE: READ MORE
Darkroom - Blu-ray review
Posted on Monday 18th January 2021
Darkroom CoverDarkroom
88 Films
Certificate 15

88 Films continues to search out for forgotten shockers for their Slasher Collection and this time has unearthed a truly cheesy piece from 1989, Darkroom. Being produced by Nico Mastorakis, the guy who gave the world the censor bothering shocker Island of Death you'd expect it to be a wild and unflinching slasher. Instead, we get an above average slice and dice flick with plenty of set-ups but more considerate on the bloodletting.

The film begins with a brutal double axe slaying by an unknown murderer but who could this mad killer be? Why does he photograph his victims as they die? Most of all, what drives them to kill?

Directo...

SHARE: READ MORE
Blind Date - Blu-ray review
Posted on Monday 18th January 2021
BLIND DATE COVERBlind Date
88 Films
Certificate 18

This tale of obsession and sight loss is a prime example of 80s arty horror. Directed by Nico Mastorakis, the man behind the controversial shocker Island of Death, this is a sci-fi infused giallo style slasher that's been off the shelves for far too long.

Ad Exec Jon Ratcliff is obsessed and riddled with guilt over his lost girlfriend but then is convinced he spots her at a photo shoot. Trying to track her down he's involved in an incident and loses his sight, but medics can't understand how it's happened as his eyes have suffered no damage. Luckily, he's soon equipped with state-of-the-art technology (a zipped-up Walkman!) which par...

SHARE: READ MORE
Dawn of the Dead: Limited 4K Edition
Posted on Monday 16th November 2020
DAWN_OF_THE_DEAD_3D_BD_SLIPCASE_PACK_ (1)Dawn of the Dead: Limited 4K Edition
Certificate 18
Second Sight Films

Arriving 10 years after the seminal Night of the Living Dead had ushered in a new era of zombie films, George A Romero returned to his undead roots to deliver, what many consider to be the greatest zombie, if not horror movie of all time, Dawn of the Dead.

The movie has been released many times, from laserdisc to VHS to Blu-ray and as fans will know, there are a number of different editions of the movie, The Theatrical Cut, The Extended ('Cannes') Cut and The Argento Cut so you'd think by now fans would have everything they ever wanted from this movi...

SHARE: READ MORE
The Grudge (2020) - Blu-ray review
Posted on Monday 1st June 2020
The Grudge 2020The Grudge
Certificate 15
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

One of the most famous films of the last couple of decades or so, Japanese shocker Ju-On: The Grudge from director Takashi Shimizu was an expertly crafted journey into the paranormal. A few sequels and remake later and we arrive at a new version of the idea, this time the horror has never been more violent.

When someone dies in the grip of a powerful rage, a curse is born. It gathers in the place of death but cannot be contained. Once you encounter it...it will never let go.

Written and directed by Nicolas Pesce, the movie really does get under the skin of the viewer with an atmosphere that contains ...

SHARE: READ MORE
Revenge - Blu-ray review
Posted on Sunday 3rd May 2020
Revenge
Second Sight Films
Certificate 18

Over the years there have been many "revenge" themed movies, a lot of which used uncomfortable and challenging set-ups to grasp their audiences. One only must think of the grindhouse films such as I Spit on Your Grave (1978), Last House on the Left (1972) and Death Wish (1974) to see what I am getting at here. There is a fine line between art and exploitation, and these challenged the censor to the limits.

Revenge, which is just about to hit Blu-ray contains a similar premise, assault is the major plot point here as a young girl is brutally attacked and victimised, but the stylish way it is filmed and played, you see it rise above the...

SHARE: READ MORE
Knives and Skin - Original Soundtrack
Posted on Thursday 30th January 2020
Knives and Skin - Original Soundtrack
Nick Zinner
Lakeshore Records

Knives and Skin from director Jennifer Reeder was one of the strongest and most original movies from FrightFest 2019. Its hypnotic and sometimes surreal plot contained some superb set-pieces of nerve tightening drama. To make the film even more memorable it had a score which added a delicate beauty to the whole experience.

Part suburban nightmare, part neon-soaked teenage fever dream, this tantalizing mystery traces the wave of fear and distrust that spreads across a small Midwestern town in the wake of a high school girl's mysterious disappearance. As the loneliness and darkness lurking beneath the ve...

SHARE: READ MORE
Edge of the Axe - Blu-ray review
Posted on Sunday 26th January 2020
Edge of the Axe
Arrow Video
Certificate 18

I must admit, Edge of the Axe is one of those late 80s slashers that passed me by when it was originally released. Maybe because I was tired of the genre by then, maybe because the concept of it being a Euro/American horror just didn't appeal to me, or just maybe there was something better to rent out that week! Anyway, this cut on its original release in 1989 due to the amount of axe on show but thanks to Arrow video we can now view uncut with all chopper moments intact!

The rural community of Paddock County is being rocked by the crazed exploits of an axe-wielding psychopath, who stalks the night in a black trenchcoat and mask. A...

SHARE: READ MORE
The Beyond - Blu-ray review
Posted on Monday 13th January 2020
The Beyond
Shameless
Certificate 18

There are some movies that horror fans have multiple copies of, for me it's The Evil Dead, Halloween and Zombie Flesh Eaters. I have loads of editions in my loft on tape, laserdisc, DVDs, and now lovely Blu-rays and, where I can, 4K editions. Lucio Fulci's The Beyond (1981) is one movie that could also take up a shelf for all the different editions and versions I own as for some reason I'm drawn to it whenever I see a new release, even if it's just for a new cover!

This time around though Shameless have something rather cool and a bit different for fans of this Fulci classic but more on this later. For those new to this title, The Beyond i...

SHARE: READ MORE
Vault of Horror presents The Gates of Hell Trilogy (Coloured Vinyl)
Posted on Thursday 19th December 2019
Gates of Hell Front cover with stickerVault of Horror presents The Gates of Hell Trilogy
Demon Records

Following the success of the first two Vault of Horror vinyl releases, Demon Records have pulled out all the stops to deliver another sublime piece of audio that should form part of everyone's Christmas list this year.

Lucio Fulci's Gates of Hell trilogy of movies delivered some of the most controversial pieces of horror cinema at a time when horror was entering the "video nasties" period and the genre, as a whole, was frowned upon. Fulci grabbed this chance to push the envelope further with movies which celebrated the limits horror could go to and by doing so opened the doors - ...

SHARE: READ MORE
Reviews Archive: 2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012
PICK OF THE WEEK
Leprechaun Returns
LEPRECHAUN RETURNS
Friday 24th September
9.00 PM
Final Girl
FINAL GIRL
Tuesday 28th September
9.00 PM
The Taking
THE TAKING
Friday 24th September
10.50 PM