Quickie Horror Review: Deathwatch (Michael J. Bassett)

A horror film from Great Britain came out in 2002 starring Jamie Bell (from Billy Elliott) and Andy Serkis. This was a film which went under the radar of most people, but not horror fans who tend to pick up on little gems such as Michael J. Bassett’s Deathwatch.

Set during the height of the trench warfare in the Western Front during the First World War, the surviving remnants of a British Infantry company stumble upon a nearly deserted set of German trenches as they exit a fog-shrouded battlefield. Except for a couple of terrified German soldiers, the near-deserted trench only has dead German soldiers. As they spend their first night, it’s more than German soldiers they have to worry about, somewhere within the trenches something that’s hunting them down one by one.

Deathwatch does a good job in mixing in themes of horror and paranoia as the British soldiers and their lone German prisoner must try to figure out just who or what has been hunting them in the trenches since their arrival. Signs of this unknown enemy could be seen in the dead German soldiers piled on to of each other and wrapped in barbed wire. Blood flows freely from within the muddy walls of the trench system though no bodies could be seen within these walls. The film does a great job of creating such a claustrophobic atmosphere for the characters that it’s natural to see their progression from being battle-weary but alert to being paranoid to the point that they begin to hallucinate and, at times, turn on each other.

From the sound of it this film shares some similarity to Carpenter’s The Thing. As more and more of the survivors die, paranoia and suspicion grows amongst the rest as to who or what might be hunting them. The performances by the cast is good though nothing to write home about, but enough to convey the dread and paranoia sweeping through the trench. Jamie Belle as the teen British soldier with a conscience gives a understated performance while on the polar opposite is Andy Serkis scene-chewing his way through the bulk of the film as a soldier with sociopathic tendencies.

Deathwatch was a very good horror-suspense film that made great use of it’s World War I setting and borrowing themes and ideas from similar films. Michael J. Bassett’s direction kept the film moving and the film doesn’t skimp on the gore when it needed it to balance out the scenes of suspense throughout the film. It’s not a great film by any means, but it’s one of those little-known gems that one hears about and won’t be disappointed once they give it a try.

AMV of the Day: My First Kiss

The latest “AMV of the Day” is quite appropriate for this month of October. I will say that this particular AMV is more on the comedic side despite using an anime which has horror themes to it.

“My First Kiss” is an anime music video combining the fantasy horror anime series Dance of the Vampire Bund with the cheerful and double entendre-laden song “My First Kiss” by the group 3OH!3. CodeHeaven, the video’s creator, does a great job of picking the right scenes from the series to fit particular lyrics in the song. The series is fantasy horror, but it is also one of the more risque ones to make it’s jump from Japan to the US with most of it’s scenes intact. The video just hints at some of this and the song just adds to it to great effect.

Dance of the Vampire Bund is definitely not hentai, but it does have heavy ecchi moments which when paired with a song like “My First Kiss” makes for one fun anime music video.

Anime: Dance in the Vampire Bund

Song: “My First Kiss” (feat. Ke$ha) – 3OH!3

Creator: CodeHeaven


David Hess, R.I.P.

The grindhouse mourns today for actor David Hess, who passed away on Saturday at the age of 69. 

Where to start with David Hess?  He would probably start with the fact that, before he become an actor, he was a succesful songwriter whose songs were performed by Elvis Presley and Pat Boone.  He was also a singer himself and can be heard performing his brand of dark folk in several of the films that he later appeared in.  He won a Grammy for co-writing a rock opera called “The Naked Carmen.”  He was also good friends with the writer, actor and political activist, Malachy McCourt (brother of Angela’s Ashes author Frank McCourt) and recorded an album with him.  Hess never stopped making music and he even recorded a few tracks for Eli Roth’s Cabin Fever.

However, David Hess is probably best known for playing assorted rapists, killers, and other unpleasant people in over 30 films.  Starting with his iconic performance as Krug in Wes Craven’s original Last House On The Left, Hess quickly established himself as one of the most believable (and scary) villains in the grindhouse world.  Whether he was holding Franco Nero hostage in Hitch-Hike, terrorizing guests while wearing a canary yellow suit in The House On The Edge of the Park, or playing a rare good guy in Camping Del Terrore (a film which co-starred another recently deceased grindhouse favorite, Charles Napier), Hess was always both bigger-than-life and a surprisingly underrated actor.  Hess may have made a career out of playing killers but every killer was unique and special in his own twisted way.

Like many movie psychos, David Hess was a funny, sensitive, and, at time, erratic interview subject.  Interviews with him can be found on the DVD releases of Hitch-Hike, The House on the Edge of The Park, and Last House On The Left and all three of them are worth owning for that reason alone.

While I doubt those toadsuckers in the Academy will see fit to honor David Hess during next year’s Oscar ceremony, he will forever be remembered by film fans (i.e., the people who actually matter). 


David not only starred in Last House On The Left but he also composed the music.  Below is his song, Wait For The Rain.

And even though he didn’t compose the soundtrack for The House On The Edge of the Park, here’s a clip of David Hess watching Giovanni Lombardo Radice dance in that film.  Yes, I’ve shown this clip before but I just happen to love it.  This clip proves, once again, that even in a canary yellow suit, David Hess could still dominate a scene.*

David Alexander Hess, R.I.P.