June 2013 horror movie DVD round-up

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First up, we take a look at the nosedive the former “Young Jack Nicholson” Christian Slater has taken, culminating in this month’s bargain-bucket Prometheus, the achingly dull-titled Stranded. Set on a near-future moon-base, the miscast Slater plays the gruff Colonel Brauchman, whose team of isolated astronauts becomes, well, stranded when alien spores from a meteorite start to reproduce in an unhelpful way.

With mutant baddies rushing about Alien-style, it comes as no surprise this movie comes from that production and Star Wars’ Art Director, Roger Christian, also sliding down that slippery slope.

Admittedly, with what seems like a limited budget, Slater’s film has some decent production values and certainly looks the part. Still, a predictable script, irritating characters and the hilariously misguided notion that using clip-on reading lights as futuristic communicator devices would go unnoticed ruins any good work here.

The other big(ish) fish relegated to the garden pond are The Fantastic Four and Nip/Tuck star Julian McMahon and Highlander writer Russell Mulcahy, who unite on the enjoyable sharkfest, Bait. Aussie McMahon returns to his homeland as a tsunami chucks a few great white sharks into a supermarket with suitably Deep Blue Sea results.

Cheap and nasty (in a good way!), Bait at times has the ridiculous, fun air of that endless stream of silly SyFy made-for-TV monster movies though is far too serious on the whole to pull this off for an entire feature. Still, if all you want is a group of pretty-yet-stern Australians getting chomped in a supermarket, this could be for you.

Moving on from grim shark death to the therapeutic recovery zone that hospitals should be, we now look at two movies demonstrating why you really shouldn’t ever (ever) get ill. British director Ian Clark’s debut feature, The Facility, plays on that old fear anyone who’s ever been skint enough to consider paid medical research has felt: what if it goes wrong?

Well, it seems it does and, in the case of the seven unlucky guinea pigs here, results in the usual side-effects: slight swelling of body parts, dodgy skin complaints and rampant, murderous psychosis. With a decent build-up of tension and some strong performances, particularly from Shameless and Rev star Steve Evets, The Facility succeeds despite the derivative storyline and equally cardboard characters in creating a Cabin Fever level of body horror.

Moving on from the patients to the staff, The Incident (also known as Asylum Blackout) involves, erm, a blackout at an asylum for the criminally insane (please insert a less offensive term here) as a group of kitchen staff fight for survival. With the lights out and electronic-controlled security doors open, everything goes Pete Tong as the violent inmates at this alternative Arkham do their best to set back mental illness’ PR to the dark ages.

Alexandre Courtes presents an eminently watchable escalation of events with some creative directorial flourishes flirting with equally creative ways of killing off our leads. The wonderfully claustrophobic setting and crisp overall look would suggest Courtes is a name to look out for.

What’s the best horror movie you’ve seen recently? Let us know below…