Fans of the underground UK horror scene should be familiar with the low budget horror auteur Alex Chandon. Many years ago films like 'Bad Karma' and 'Drillbit' had a massive following with bootleg copies of these wild gory shorts spreading like wildfire amongst the fan community. For quite some time his name seemed to disappear and apart from a brief reappearance with the perversely bizarre Pervilella fans thought they may have seen the last of this promising directors work. That was until 'Cradle of Fear' appeared!
This epic modern take on the golden British anthology movies of old (sans Amicus, Tigon et al), 'Cradle of Fear' is an impressive return to the genre bringing it right up to date with an extreme graphic edge that will have splatter fans positively drooling with delight!
The film opens in the dark alleyways of London where we find the mysterious silent character 'The Man' stepping past a puking street tramp only to cross paths with two would be muggers. Very quickly the assailants wish they had never targeted 'The Man' as he swiftly turns on them and after tearing one guys throat out he turns to rip the other blokes head in half before stomping underfoot. Cue the opening titles!
The film opens proper with battle scarred detective Neilson arriving at the scene of a brutal murder where two women have been mutilated beyond recognition. Nearby forensic officers look on in disbelief as the anxious detective checks on the corpses for signs of life. You see Neilson has never been the same ever since he had the misfortune to work on the legendary Kemper case - a corrupt hypnotist who for years savagely abused, raped and murdered his victims that he subliminally selected from his shows.
So begins the first of four blood drenched vignette terror tales where we see the gorgeous Emily Booth and a friend out cruising for some fun at a local death metal nightclub. Across the floor she catches the eye of 'The Man' (which I should point out is played by horror rocker Dani Filth from the band Cradle of Filth) and soon she has lured him back to her apartment for a night of serious sexual gratification. But after popping some pills she has one nasty bad trip experience during the intercourse and wakes the next morning confused and upset. Her distress is heightened when she heads out into the bustling street and starts hallucinating that passers-by are in fact demons and a passing child informs her that she will soon be giving birth to a demon child! Is this a hallucinogenic nightmare or is something more sinister about to unleash itself on the distressed woman?
The next story follows two street girls as they break into the flat of a helpless old pensioner looking for cash. Their plans seem to be going to plan until they discover the old man is in fact in the roomwith them and caught by surprise one of the girls pummels him violently to death and if they thought that would hinder their plans then they would have no idea what was to happen next!
Next up we meet flash bloke Nick and his love (played by UK genre stalwart Eileen Daly) as they snort coke and speed along the streets of London in Nick's equally flash car. Distracted they don't see the tramp crossing the road ahead of them and when they run him over Nick seems more concerned about his car than the crushed hobo. You see Nick has something else bothering him, he has lost his leg and feels sexually inadequate without it (even though Daly seems to positively thrive on licking his stump erotically) so he visits his Harley Street doctor to see if his vast fortune could pay for a replacement leg to be stitched on. The doctor reluctantly says that he could perform the operation but he could not supply the leg. Nick though reckons he can take care of this but as you can imagine he does with dreadful results!
Finally, we meet Richard who is allegedly researching the seedier side of the internet (and haven't we all?). His boss at work is getting more and more agitated as Richard seems to be nothing but trawling the net looking for more and more extreme levels of extreme sex and violent mondo footage. On one of his searches he comes across a site called simply 'The Sick Room' - a hyperviolent interactive snuff site that allows the viewer to select methods of death for the captive victims onscreen. He swiftly becomes fixated with this newly found site but his addiction to it will soon lead to a new level of terror!
Now what I hear you say is the linking factor with the four blood drenched tales? Well that would be telling and plenty reason enough for you to go check this gore drenched cracker out! After a sabbatical away from the horror scene Alex Chandon has returned with a splatter frenzied explosion in this stunning UK horror flick.
What I found bewildering though is the early word I had heard from some corners of the fan scene, critical of the production quality and the film presentation. Of course I can understand some folk would be uncomfortable with filming in video format but those that do will be missing out on a real treat for horror fans. Chandon's script is a classic 'tip of the hat' to the aforementioned 70's horror anthology and like those old movies is timeless in its storytelling, you could easily take anyone of the scenarios and transform them back to the Hammer Horror scenario and them vice versa. He's not lost his touch with his direction either, both with his obvious dedicated love of the genre and his skills behind the camera.
Another key element of this film though for many will be the extreme gore level throughout and believe me I haven't seen a splatter movie so graphic in intensity as this in a long long time. Blood and guts spray the screen freely in an orgasm of bloody mayhem and amazingly the puzzling folk at the BBFC (that's film censors, not classifiers as they like to call themselves) passed this carnage fully uncut! Some must be thinking that they must have been drunk that day but it does look like that gore is good but subjects like rape etc are the only no-nos these days - so kudos for their fine decision with this one but still I wish they would leave everything well alone!
But again I digress, the print on show here on this release from Film 2000 is impressive but would we expect anything less? As for extras there are a few that are of interest - first off there's a short but fun behind the scenes segment which acts more in voyeur style on set rather than the actual making of the movie, there's two cool trailers for the flick backed by the thumping cool sounds of Cradle of Filth and an extensive stills gallery filled with some great photos taken during the shoot. So a pretty solid all round package then!
I loved 'Cradle of Fear' and I reckon its just what the UK horror scene needs, a bloody return to form for Alex Chandon and a highly recommended evening of splatterrific fun! Check it out now!!
Review by Alan Simpson
|Directed by Alex Chandon|
|Released by Film 2000|
|Trailers, Stills gallery, Behind the scenes|