To celebrate Halloween we have DVDs to give away.
A regular diet of horror is apparently good for you.
Studies in the UK have found watching a horror film can lead to weight loss which is great news for gore lovers but not so good for the ice-cream loving rom-com fans out there.
The frights in the films increased the heart rates of viewers of 10 classics, ranging from the 1970s (The Exorcist and Jaws) to the relatively recent horror hits (Paranormal Activity, Saw, [Rec]) and it was the the older films tended to have the edge on edginess.
The research was conducted by the University of Westminster in the UK. Senior lecturer and specialist in cell metabolism and physiology Dr Richard Mackenzie, said all of the 10 films used in the study increased in the heart rate of those watching, resulting in a surge of adrenaline.
“It is this release of fast acting adrenaline, produced during short bursts of intense stress (or in this case, brought on by fear), which is known to lower the appetite, increase the Basal Metabolic Rate and ultimately burn a higher level of calories,” said Dr Mackenzie.
Topping the list for screams and weight loss was Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining which scared 184 calories (770kj) out of the subjects. This is almost the equivalent of a giant Freddo Frog which contains 781kj.
Next on the fright list was Jaws which burned 676kj (the equivalent to a 375ml can of Coke), swiftly followed by The Exorcist (661kj) which would be just enough for a 37 gram doughnut.
A Nightmare on Elm Street burned off 494kj which is almost the same as a two-finger Kit Kat (484kj) while watching The Blair Witch Project (439kj) would be only be enough for 20 grams of Doritos.
With this in mind, here is a workout just for Halloween.
Here a few recent releases which should help create the mood and get in shape. Even though there are no calorie counting details, watching any of these is bound to be better for you than a Disney cartoon.
Cabin in the Woods
Roadshow Entertainment (DVD and Blu-Ray)
This is a strange film to categorise. Part horror, part sci-fi and part Truman Show, with a hefty sprinkling of The Hunger Games.
All credit to co-writer and director Joss Wheldon though, he’s pulled it off perfectly.
As the man behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Firefly, Whedon is no stranger to the supernatural and fantasy – or the excellent production values this movie has.
Cabin in the Woods takes the classic horror film clichés and not only plays with them but practically dismembers them, leaving the pieces in a big pile.
It starts off in predictable territory. Nubile college kids head to a remote cabin for a weekend of booze and teenage fun. There appears to be a lot of interest from a sinister organisation watching their every move however and the men in suits are particularly keen for their subjects to go into the cellar.
What follows is the usual attempts to escape from malevolent forces of evil but with the twist of their being something else at play, deep underground and where a standard slash and dice film would end, Cabin in the Woods is only warming up.
This means you get a clever story line but still the fun of the standard horror fare. It build to a spectacular ending and there will be a few scenes which will be repeated on many players.
Extras on the DVD are limited to (an entertaining) making of feature but the Blu-Ray adds a couple more nice featurettes.
(Madman Entertainment – DVD)
This French film is something very different. It is as much arthouse cinema and fairy tale as it is horror.
All the standard conventions of the horror genre are in it (Halloween night, big dark house, strange noises, odd taxidermy – even specimens in jars) but it’s just done with such impeccable attention to character, style and storyline.
Lucie, a trainee caregiver, discovers a mansion belonging to an ex-ballet teacher with a fearsome reputation and a supposed hidden treasure.
She tells her boyfriend William who persuades her, along with friend Ben, to steal the treasure in an attempt to set themselves up and escape from the coastal town where they live.
The three of them find little in the way of treasure but do manage to discover the ballet teacher’s bad reputation was thoroughly deserved. Cue some vampire action, blood-letting and a fight for survival.
The first half is a sauntering slow build-up but establishes characters you care about and a setting you never want to be in. The cinematography is excellent, using the darkness and shadows of the house to maximum effect.
Once the story picks up pace there are some incredible, almost dreamlike, scenes which while featuring some gruesome actions are just a delight to watch. When Ben meets a blood-soaked ending, it’s like watching ballet (although the pools of gore on the floor would make atrocious conditions for dancing).
Sometimes the imagery and use of flashbacks need the viewer to really pay attention, as do the subtitles but don’t let that put you off a visual feast.
However, if you really can’t be doing with the subtitles, there is a Hollywood remake in the pipeline but it has a massive job on its hands if it is to get anywhere near the panache of the original.
(Pinnacle Films – DVD and Blu-Ray)
Horror is one of those genres which has been around for so long, coming up with something new and interesting is a real pain.
This is why when something comes along which is a bit different and showing some imagination should be a must watch for those with a penchant for darker material.
It’s even nicer when the film is a home-grown affair and Redd Inc is easily one of the best horror films I have seen this year.
The original premise is not very fresh – a bunch of people are kidnapped and wake up in a room trying to work out why they were abducted and why they are now chained to an office desk.
It doesn’t take too long for them to realise they all had a part to play in convicting a serial killer and the psycho is looking for them to prove his innocence by reviewing the paperwork of the court case – or be systematically tortured and killed if they don’t play along.
The majority of the film is set in a disused office which looks depressing enough, even without the filing cabinet filling up with a variety of body parts.
The tension is built deftly and there enough twists and turns in the plot to make the film a real horror treat, even without copious buckets of blood and gore (off which there is a very (un)healthy amount).
Nicholas Hope is Thomas Reddman, the former regional manager who is the boss with a very rigid attitude to what constitutes good office behaviour and a hooked knife for a hand which comes in very useful for explaining those performance indicators (usually in the form of a gouge across the forehead).
As the new employees try and work out how to get out of the literally dead-end job they have found themselves in, the punishments become harsher and the tension becomes almost unbearable.
Amid the torture and lashings of blood (by effects maestro Tom Savini) there are a few very funny moments which lighten the intensity and give the film a much more rounded feel than most others of its ilk.
There are even a few sweet twists along the way, some obvious, some less so, which also keep interest at a high.
(Roadshow Entertainment – DVD and Blu-Ray)
Last up is some unashamed trashiness.
Piranha DD (or Piranha 3DD if you have a fancy Blu-Ray 3D set up) does not have any wish to take itself seriously.
If Cabin in the Woods is a clever post modern take on the horror genre and its conventions, Piranha DD is an unashamed lover of the cliches.
Playing for laughs, this is just big dumb fun (the cover tells you everything you need to know).
Aside from the copious amounts of women in bikinis, the guest appearance of David Hasselhoff is the big draw here. There is also a bit of a plot - a school of vicious piranhas start taking chunks from visitors to The Big Wet Water Park with Christopher “Back to the Future” Lloyd on hand to tackle the bitey buggers.
Even if it does not take itself too seriously it has a bigger budget than most monster movies so the look is very polished. If you have the option of 3D then the piranhas are well suited to the format (as are the heaving chests of the lifeguards).
If you can switch off the sensible side of your brain when the DVD goes in, there is a lot of fun to be had just try not to think too much (like most of the characters in the film).
WIN A HORROR DVD PRIZE PACK
We have five packs of DVDs to give away courtesy of Roadshow Entertainment. Each pack contains Cabin in the Woods and Piranha DD.
Click here to visit our competition page for your chance to win.
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