10 feature films you should be watching at Horror-on-Sea 2020

Horror-on-Sea will be returning to Southend once again in 2020 with its biggest blood-soaked line up of independent film as they celebrate their 8th Year. It remains one of the UK’s biggest independent film festivals and was originally formed to promote independent horror films, which are not normally given an opportunity to be played on the big screen.

Hosted at The Park Inn Palace Hotel (Southend-on-Sea) the festival will be running over two weekends from Friday 10th January to Sunday 12th January and Friday 17th January to Sunday 19th January. Screening over 36 Features and 62 shorts, with many of these being introduced by the filmmakers themselves.

Here is my list of 10 feature films you should be watching at Horror-on-Sea 2020

Nefarious – Friday 10th January 20:00

Director: Richard Rowntree

Writers: Matthew Davies, Richard Rowntree

Starring: Aaron Thomas Ward, Richard Rowntree, Jon Vangdal Aamaas, Tony Sands, Nadia Lamin

Darren (Buck Braithwaite), Lou (Nadia Lamin), and Jo (Abbey Gillett) are barely living each day unable to escape the fringes of poverty, and with a mounting debt owed to the local criminal organization, they live each day in fear of retribution. On the other side of town, the already wealthy Marcus and his disabled brother Clive receive a windfall in the form of a winning lottery scratch card. The two very different worlds collide with disastrous results when an attempted burglary goes wrong. The would-be criminals get more than they bargained for and will be tested to their limits in a desperate attempt to survive a predator of monstrous proportions.

Nefarious is the second feature film from co-writer and director Richard Rowntree, who follows up his folk horror Dogged with a unique take on the home invasion sub-genre. Having already won several awards on the festival favourite, this highly original, intelligent and thought-provoking horror has already become a favourite amongst the horror fans.

She Never Died – Saturday 11th January 17:30

Director: Audrey Cummings

Writers: Jason Krawczyk

Starring: Olunike Adeliyi, Peter MacNeill, Kiana Madeira, Michelle Nolden, Noah Dalton Danby

Lacey (Olunike Adeliyi), a socially detached loner is cursed with immortality and a never-ending tedium of existence. In her attempts to keep her compulsions in check, she seeks out the darkest souls humanity has to offer. Lacey must now face her own inner demons while simultaneously finding her next meal. 

I was impressed with Audrey Cummings previous sci-fi horror Darken (2017) which played at Horror-on-Sea in 2018, so my expectations were high when I heard she was directing a standalone sequel to the underrated cult horror He Never Died. Delivering a with a more fulfilling story than its predecessor and an emotive powerhouse performance from Olunike Adeliyi, She Never Died is one of the rare occasions where a sequel surpasses the original.

Exit (World Premiere) – Saturday 11th January 20:00

Director: Michael Fausti

Writers: Mathew Bayliss

Starring: Tony Denham, Michael Fausti, Billy James Machin, Leonarda Sahani, Robert Alexander

A seemingly innocent double-booking forces two couples from different backgrounds to share a London apartment for the evening. A night of drink, drugs, sex and new experiences follows. However, as morning comes, events take a sinister turn. Everything has a price and not all debts are paid for with money. What would you do to survive? Leaving; it’s harder that you think.

Michael Fausti has already proven himself as a director to watch out for with his critically acclaimed shorts The Ingress Tapes and Dead Celebrities, so naturally expectations are already high for his Brexit inspired feature debut Exit. Despite giving very little away very few details leading up to the premiere, there has been a growing interest for the film and I believe it could be one of the unexpected hits of the festival.

Day of the Stranger (World Premiere) – Saturday 11th January 22:30

Director: Thomas Lee Rutter

Writers: Thomas Lee Rutter, Mark Twain (based on the original short story by)

Starring: Gary Shail, Gary Baxter, Shelley Krasnowski, James Taylor, Richard Rowbotham

Caine Farrowood (Dale Sheppard) is a bounty hunter who works under the control of ruthless kingpin Loomweather (Gary Shail). One day a bounty retrieval goes awry, and Caine is left for dead. Just when he thinks his life is over, he mysteriously awakens back home to the comforts of his wife Christina (Maryam Forouhandeh). Baffled and confused by how he got home Caine insists on finding answers, but before long he is enlisted in the retrieval of another bounty. This one is huge and may cost Caine not his life, but his sanity when he finds himself pitted against somebody who may very well be the fallen angel himself.

A film which has been plagued by problems and 6 years in the making Day of the Stranger can be described as both a labour of love and film making nightmare. However as this is already credited as the UK’s first ever Guerrilla Acid Western, this a must see for fans of independent cinema and I can’t wait to see it on the big screen.

I Scream on the Beach! (World Premiere) – Sunday 12th January 20:00

Director: Alexander Churchyard, Michael Holiday

Writers: Alexander Churchyard, Max Davenport (original story), Michael Holiday

Starring: Hannah Paterson, Dani Thompson, Reis Daniel, Jamie Evans, Lloyd Kaufmanm

In the small seaside town of Mellow Coast, Emily (Hannah Paterson) is trying to discover what has happened to her father, but as she searches for answers her friends start getting picked off one-by-one by an unknown killer.

Following the release of the trailer I Scream on the Beach! has continued to gain interest amongst the horror community, with tickets for the premiere almost sold out before the festival begins. A self-aware nostalgic tribute to some of straight to home video horrors of the 80’s, I Scream on the Beach! incorporates a mixture of bloody horror and brilliant humour. And based on the early feedback from critics it is is already shaping up to be a cult classic in the making.

The Psychics – Friday 17th January 12:30

Director: Tomas Sem Løkke-Sørensen

Writers: Tomas Sem Løkke-Sørensen

Starring: Lovas, Frank Thomas Holen Andersen, Oddrun Valestrand, Hannah Karine Giske, Jennie Sofie Lie Pickl

A documentary film maker has to fight against evil forces when she starts to investigate a criminal mystery as a part of her movie project.

I can understand why people may get sceptical when it comes to another found footage film, with the ongoing trend in recent years following the success of Paranormal Activity. Whilst many follow a familiar formula  with the sub genre seen as a cheap way to make a film, The Psychics is one which breaks the mould. Norway’s second found footage horror (the first one being The Troll Hunter) is a paranormal mystery-thriller which has been shot as a documentary. Building the tension around a brilliant script, engaging performances and some original twists this is easily one of the most original and entertaining found footage films I have seen in a long time.

UK Haunters – Friday 17th January 20:00

Director: Dan Brownlie

UK Haunters is the first feature length documentary to cover the Uk haunt and scare attraction scene.

Already proven to be a hit on the festival circuit UK Haunters is a unique vlog style documentary that takes a look behind the scenes of the scare attractions and looks to uncover some of the tricks of the trade. Inspired by the found footage genre the documentary the film takes on it own as a unique visual style, and in the end begins to replicate the industry it was initially looking to uncover.

Bite Night (World Premiere) – Saturday 18th January 17:30

Director: Maria Lee Metheringham

Writer: Maria Lee Metheringham, Will Metheringham

Starring: Dani Thompson, Maria Lee Metheringham, Mj Dixon, Rachel Brownstein, Marcella Edgecombe-Craig

‘Haunted Honeymoon’ meets ‘My Best Friend is a Vampire’ meets ‘Clue’. When three beautiful ladies manage to grab the attention of a group of punks with their enchanting voices. They become the lucky guests or rather victims of the house of Valice. However, the tables turn quite suddenly when the ladies realize they are in fact the unfortunate victims of the madness which they themselves created.

The multifaceted Maria Metheringham returns to Horror-on-Sea, with her latest film Bite Night. A 90’s style mystery thriller which looks very different to her previous film, the 80’s slashers Pumpkins. Not taking itself too seriously, Bite Night looks to put the fun back into the horror genre and from what we have seen so far it looks like it could succeed.

PandaMonium (World Premiere) – Saturday 18th January 20:00

Director: Mj Dixon

Writer: Mj Dixon

Starring: David Hon Ma Chu, Oriana Charles, Dani Thompson, Will Jones, James Hamer-Morton

The guys on Level 6 like to work hard and party harder, and that means the best booze, the finest drugs and hottest women money can buy. Unfortunately for them, the strippers they’ve just hired have come with an unwanted guest. Jacob Jakushi, the infamous ‘Stripper Ripper,’ with an oversized panda mask and a taste for exotic dancers has these girls in his sights and he’ll stop at nothing to get what he wants. It’s now Strippers vs PandaHeaded Serial Killer as they fight to survive the office party from hell. The 9th feature from Mycho Entertainment Group and prequel to SLASHER HOUSE 2 and its infamous Panda-headed Killer.

Writer-director M J Dixon and Producer Anna Dixon have become regular fixtures at Horror-on-Sea and have become a cult favourites with horror fans thanks to their unique visual style and interconnecting stories in the MychoVerse. PandaMonium is their 9th Feature and once again delivers something different to the series. Whilst the film remains rooted in the slasher genre, it also delivers consistently throughout with some brilliant laugh out loid comedy which you wouldn’t normally expect to see. Mycho fans however will not be disappointed as it still delivers with the kills that you would expect, but once the screaming starts on the screen, so will the laughter in the aisles.

The Barge People – Sunday 19th January 20:00

Director: Charlie Steeds

Writer: Christopher Lombard

Starring: Kate Davies-Speak, Mark McKirdy, Makenna Guyler, Natalie Martins, Matt Swales

Set on the canals amid the glorious British countryside, two sisters and their boyfriends head off for a relaxing weekend away on a barge, unaware of the flesh-eating fish mutants lurking in the water, ready and waiting to feed.

Another film which has proven to be a festival favourite on the festival circuit and already gained a cult following is  The Barge People which will be playing on the final day of the festival.  An bloody old school horror which director Charlie Steeds has described as a “Deformed fishy mutant mayhem on the canal, in a retro B-movie throwback to the days where the best horror was found in tattered VHS boxes on the dusty top shelves of video rental shops”. It is not one for the squeamish, but definitely one for the horror fans.

You can find the full festival listing the Horror-on-Sea Film Festival and purchase tickets for the event here

Posted by Philip Rogers in Categories, 0 comments
Interview with ‘Pumpkins’ co-writer and director Maria Metheringham

Interview with ‘Pumpkins’ co-writer and director Maria Metheringham


Director: Maria Metheringham

Writers: Maria Metheringham and Will  Metheringham

Starring: Dani Thompson, Maria Lee Metheringham, Craig Edwards, Samantha Hindman, Marcella Edgecombe-Craig

In a new interview on House of Tortured Souls I got an opportunity to talk with the multifaceted filmmaker Maria Metheringham about the throwback horror Pumpkins which has been released on DVD and Digital from High Octane Pictures on DVD and Digital in the US and Canada.

Q. Your latest horror film Pumpkins has just been released on DVD in the US. Can you tell us what people can expect?

Pumpkins is an atmospheric, slasher horror film set in North Yorkshire.  Expect all of the usual elements which make up a good 80s style teen horror movie, except less gags and a bit more toned down. It’s a light-hearted and fun horror.

Q. You co-wrote the original script with Will Metheringham. What is your process writing together and how did you come up with the original idea for the story?

We usually sit down with the laptop and hash out scene ideas together. I do the writing and he tells me what to write, whilst I also add in bits and scenes that come to me whilst we’re doing it.

Pumpkins started off as a short film within another feature film we were writing and ended up being turned into a full feature because I loved the story so much. The short ‘The Pumpkin Man’ was only meant to be 10 minutes long originally.

Q. The film introduces us to a new horror character the Pumpkin Man, how did you come up concept for the character?

Will was sat at the back of the classroom when he was 16 with his mate Tom Jordan. He came up with the pumpkin man character as a drawing and Tom drew it. We found the artwork in a folder in a cupboard in our house when clearing out and thought it looked very cool, so we stuck him in the film with a backstory.

Q. What were your influences for the overall look and style of the film?

We just wanted it to look and sound as 80s as possible. To capture the feeling of watching one of those old school slashers but have a bit of our own style about it. Films we had in mind when getting that style right were Friday the 13th (1980), An American Werewolf in London (1981) and Halloween (1978).

Q. Did you make any changes in the film from the original script during filming and were there any scenes which you were unable to film?

Yes, there were a few changes mainly towards the end of the film, during the climax with the ending etc. The film didn’t finish how it was written in the script because we had no money for special effects people and my knowledge was pretty limited. We had very little time to film it without the option of returning an extra day. It’s usually the really cool elaborate stuff I have to cut out but give me a budget and I’d go hell for leather

Q.Did you experience any issues during filming?

Only the weather really which wasn’t an issue much. We had one night of filming outside for all the scenes and it was chucking it down. We needed lighting which needed power and we were filming up in muddy woods up a soggy hill from a house we were staying in. We had 5 extension cables plugged into each other with bin bags wrapped around them.  Safe to say we wouldn’t do that again ha ha. Other than that, it was just a few of the special effects going wrong for me, but we managed in the end.

Q.What were some of your favourite moments during filming?

The location where we filmed all of the Uncle and Shelly scenes at their house was brilliant, we had a great time there.  No internet, tv, phone or any mobile signal, as weird as it may sound was a really pleasant experience. Also filming inside the pub in Lincoln for the local’s scene was so much fun and we had a good laugh doing it!

What makes Pumpkins stand out as something different in the horror genre?

I don’t think it’s hugely unique for the Horror genre as we were trying to do our own version of an 80s style slasher film, but we’ve brought a new killer to the table and I hope you can see our own style. We like sound and visuals and don’t really go dialogue heavy with Pumpkins which we hope creates more of an atmosphere. We didn’t want to shove the film full of all the cliché one liners and banter between the characters but have slipped it in subtly every now and again.

What do you hope people take away after watching the film?

That they will have fun watching it, like our style and want to see more of our films because of it.#

You also feature in the horror film Mask of Thorn which is being released in November. Can you tell us a little bit about that film?

I can’t wait for the release I absolutely loved working with Mike (Director) and Anna (Producer). Mask of Thorn is a great horror/sci-fi slasher film in my opinion.  It has an evil bad ass Thorn and a not so evil bad ass Mina Adams who I play.  It’s got action, gore and good suspense I think lovers of indie films will really dig it.  Anna and Mike also work a similar way to me and Will, doing the jobs of 20 people with barely and money or time and I respect that.

You play Mina Adams in the film can you tell us a bit about your character?

She is tough and hardened by a difficult life but has a strong emotional connection which is her weakness. Mina was a lot of fun to play because she takes a battering put will pick herself up and carry on fighting until she has done what she came to do.  Also, her costume is very cool despite it pretty much falling off me and disintegrating during filming.

Do you enjoy playing these strong characters and do you think they reflect some of your own personality?

I think that’s a why I like these characters so much. It’s like the element of when something is bothering you or life is trying to get you down, don’t moan just do something about it. Put your hardened face on and get things done no matter what. This can sometimes appear as cold or overly stern but I understand these characters, they act on actions and not emotion which is more what I’m about.

Do you have any other projects which you are currently working on?

Yes I’ve got a few going on. Me and Will have just finished another horror feature script which is another 80’s style film called Creeps at the Gym.  We’re just trying to find some money to make it. I’m also working with Kat Clatworthy at Lynx Elite Productions in Wales on a comedy feature film called Cowgirls Don’t Lie and we’re directing together.  The film only has less than a third left to film so almost done!

What advice would you give someone who is interested in getting into filmmaking as an actress?

Do not let people down. When you say you will do something or you are given a deadline, make sure you do it. Reply to messages as promptly as you can. Make yourself available too as filmmakers don’t like having to work around your ‘Nanas 60th’ or your ‘best mates baby shower’. Another big one is promote and support the films you are cast in! Talk about the films you are in, do interviews and share social media material to help gain followers etc.

You can purchase a copy of Pumpkins from Amazon Here:




Posted by Philip Rogers in Categories, HORROR NEWS, NEW RELEASES, 0 comments
Throwback horror ‘Pumpkins’ available now in the US and Canada from High Octane Pictures

Throwback horror ‘Pumpkins’ available now in the US and Canada from High Octane Pictures

You reap what you sow, so don’t forget your Pumpkins this Halloween!

The 80’s inspired horror Pumpkins co-written with Will Metheringham and directed by Maria Lee Metheringham is available now from High Octane Pictures on DVD and Digital in the US and Canada.

An elderly man is hopelessly devoted to his prized pumpkin patch. When some delinquents destroy his prized possessions, he dies of a massive heart attack and is reborn as an abomination. Hell-bent on revenge, the creature and his minions rain havoc over guilty and innocent alike.

With a talent cast including Dani Thompson (My Bloody Banjo), Maria Lee Metheringham (Attack of the Adult Babies, Mask of Thorn), Craig Edwards (The Snarling) Samantha Hindman (Lankin),  Marcella Edgecombe-Craig (Scarlett Cross: Agents of D.E.A.T.H.) and Will Metheringham as The Pumpkin Man.

With a planned sequel and Will Metheringham already confirmed as playing the character once again in Slasher House 3, it looks as though we can expect to see more of Pumpkin Man in the future.

You can purchase a copy of Pumpkins from Amazon Here:

Posted by Philip Rogers in Categories, HORROR NEWS, NEW RELEASES, 0 comments
Halloween is Shooting – And There is Proof

Halloween is Shooting – And There is Proof

UPDATE: New images of Jamie Lee Curtis and Nick Castle on set.

Jamie Lee Curtis on the set of Halloween Returns

Nick Castle on the set of Halloween Returns (note The Shape circled)

Halloween 2018 - Laurie Strode and Michael Myers / Fair use doctrine.2018 is definitely a year for upcoming horror films like God Particle, The Nun, Truth or Dare, oh, and, of course, who can forget… Halloween (aka Halloween Returns and referred to as such from here on)?

The film has been shooting at a rapid pace and from seeing a bunch of behind the scenes stills, it’s looking all sorts of crazy. Jamie Lee Curtis arrived on set earlier last week and everyone went nuts. From reading a bunch of comments, I know I am not the only die-hard Halloween fan who is excited as all Hell. Some people are still in shock that an actual Halloween film is being made as we speak and Danny McBride co-wrote it with director David Gordon Green who were also the comic geniuses that brought us Pineapple Express and Your Highness.

Now that everything is running in motion, it’s safe to say that everything we were teased about early on is true. Jamie Lee Curtis and Nick (The Shape) Castle will both reprise their roles. John Carpenter will in fact not only help produce the film with Trancas International and Blumhouse, but he is set to score it, as well.

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While shooting the film, Nick Castle who portrayed The Shape in 1978, is back and behind the mask again and somebody took a picture of him getting ready to get into action. Halloween Returns is still slated to open on October 19, 2018 (ironically enough, that just so happens to be Michael Myers’ birthday).

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For me, this is the number 1 film of the year to see. I just hope that they all know what they are doing and us die-hard fans will not be disappointed and we will finally see a sequel that lives up to the original. You can expect to see a teaser trailer for Halloween Returns around April or May to really kick the anticipation into gear.

Michael lives, and this time, I’m ready.

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Posted by Jonathan Hughes in COMING SOON, HORROR NEWS, REMAKES AND REBOOTS, 0 comments
John Carpenter’s Halloween Turns 38

John Carpenter’s Halloween Turns 38

By Jonathan Patrick Hughes

On October 25, 1978, John Carpenter unleashed a film that would not only smash at the box office, but gave him a successful future in the film industry, that film was Halloween.

Halloween was shot on a shoestring budget of just $325,000 dollars special thanks to Joseph Wolf who is the CEO of Compass International Pictures, Moustapha Akkad and Executive Producer, Irwyn Yablans. All John needed was lighting, shadows, memorable music and a man wearing a white mask, stalking babysitters in a small American town, which would be known as Haddonfield, Illinois.

The film starred Donald Pleasence, Charles Cyphers and introduced us to the original scream queen, Jamie Lee Curtis who played 17 year old, Laurie Strode. When the film was released, it wasn't received very well; in fact, it bombed for the first two weeks and then, out of the blue as news of the film spread by word of mouth, the numbers began rolling in and each week they kept escalating higher and higher. The film shattered the box office bringing in over $70 million dollars, making it the highest grossing horror picture. This is why some would call John Carpenter a genius. All he and his crew wanted to do was make a horror film. They created suspense, tension, and a classic that not only spawned several sequels and remakes but also a slasher following much like Friday The 13th, My Bloody Valentine, Silent Night, Deadly Night, Slaughter High, and A Nightmare on Elm Street.

After the success of Halloween, the film landed John Carpenter a two picture deal and from then on he just became the master of horror. This is proof that all it takes is one film and you could be known for your art. John and Debra had no idea what they were in store for. After all, it was just supposed to be a little fun Indie film.

John Carpenter may have created a slasher film but in his mind he was creating a Hitchcockian motion picture. Halloween was a dedication to Hitchcock, who was known for his classics such as Psycho, The Birds, and Rear Window, just to name a few. John and his co writer Debra Hill wanted to capture some of the same elements as Hitchcock captured in his films, and I believe they did what they wanted and they did it 100% well.

John Carpenter's Halloween turns 38 this year and since it is my favorite film of all time, I would personally like to wish the film a very happy birthday!

Posted by Jonathan Hughes in EDITORIALS, HORROR NEWS, TRIBUTE, 0 comments