BBFC bans the horror film HATE CRIME

A big story is brewing…

Monday 2nd March 2015 – THE BBFC announced today that HATE CRIME, the first release in a new joint VOD venture between geek blog and TheHorrorShow.TV – has officially been banned in the UK. It is one of only four horror movies officially refused classification by the BBFC since 2009, the others being Grotesque, The Bunny Game and The Human Centipede 2, later released with nearly 3 minutes of cuts.

Set to be the first release under the new Nerdly Presents banner, HATE CRIME tells the story of a Jewish family, having just arrived in a new neighbourhood, who are recording their youngest son’s birthday celebrations on video when their home is suddenly invaded by a bunch of crystal-meth-crazed neo-Nazi lunatics.

The film is the second feature from director James Cullen Bressack (To Jennifer, Blood Lake, 13/13/13), and has already had a successful release in the US, reviewed favourably by the likes of Bloody Disgusting, MoreHorror and even the UK’s very own Starburst Magazine.

The full official statement from the BBFC:

“HATE CRIME focuses on the terrorisation, mutilation, physical and sexual abuse and murder of the members of a Jewish family by the Neo Nazi thugs who invade their home. The physical and sexual abuse and violence are accompanied by constant strong verbal racist abuse. Little context is provided for the violence beyond an on screen statement at the end of the film that the two attackers who escaped were subsequently apprehended and that the one surviving family member was released from captivity. We have considered the attempt at the end to position the film as against hate-crime, but find it so unconvincing that it only makes matters worse.  


“The BBFC’s Guidelines on violence state that ‘Any depiction of sadistic or sexual violence which is likely to pose a harm risk will be subject to intervention through classification, cuts or even, as a last resort, refusal to classify. We may refuse to classify content which makes sexual or sadistic violence look appealing or acceptable […] or invites viewer complicity in sexual violence or other harmful violent activities. We are also unlikely to classify content which is so demeaning or degrading to human dignity (for example, it consists of strong abuse, torture or death without any significant mitigating factors) that it may pose a harm risk.’


“It is the Board’s carefully considered conclusion that the unremitting manner in which HATE CRIME focuses on physical and sexual abuse, aggravated by racist invective, means that to issue a classification to this work, even if confined to adults, would be inconsistent with the Board’s Guidelines, would risk potential harm, and would be unacceptable to broad public opinion.”

“Of course, the Board will always seek to deal with such concerns by means of cuts or other modifications when this is a feasible option.  However, under the heading of ‘Refusal to classify’ our Guidelines state that ‘As a last resort, the BBFC may refuse to classify a work, in line with the objective of preventing non-trivial harm risks to potential viewers and, through their behaviour, to society. We may do so, for example, where a central concept of the work is unacceptable, such as a sustained focus on sexual or sadistic violence. Before refusing classification we will consider whether the problems could be adequately addressed through intervention such as cuts.’ The Board considered whether its concerns could be dealt with through cuts. However, given that the fact that unacceptable content runs throughout the work, cuts are not a viable option in this case and the work is therefore refused a classification.”

Says director James Cullen Bressack: “I am honoured to know that my mind is officially too twisted for the UK. So it goes … I find it unbelievable that a film that shows little to no on screen violence and no nudity was actually banned. it just shows the power of what is implied and peoples imagination; and is a testament to the fact that the same crimes that happen in the world are truly horrifying.”‘s Phil Wheat adds: “HATE CRIME was always going to be a contentious title to submit to the BBFC, especially given recent racial tensions. But as part of Nerdly Presents’ remit to uncover great underground movies it was worth taking the gamble on James Cullen Bressack’s movie. After all, horror is often about pushing boundaries and making your audience uncomfortable. HATE CRIME does that by throwing political correctness out of the window to create a raw, emotive and disturbing film that is a tour-de-force in reality filmmaking, taking the found-footage genre to a whole new level – asking questions of both the filmmakers and the audience. As such it’s definitely worth championing.”

TheHorrorShow.TV’s Jack Bowyer said: “Although it may surprise some people, TheHorrorShow.TV supports classification over censorship, as we would hate for any of our growing number of films to be viewed by an inappropriate audience. We work in collaboration with the British Board of Film Classification to ensure that our content is appropriately rated, but sometimes you need to test boundaries to find out where they are. In the case of HATE CRIME, it appears that the BBFC has deemed the content inappropriate for people of any age, even adults, and regrettably we will be unable to bring the film to the UK as part of our very exciting collaboration with Nerdly.”

You can read our reviews of ‘Hate Crime’ here –


Pernicious (2015)


Directed by: James Cullen Bressack

I was thinking of the best way to describe Pernicious. It’s not really a slasher flick, and though it contains some gore, and indeed some sadism, it’s not really nu-torture porn, a child of Saw and Hostel. What the story reminded me of was Nickelodeon’s ‘Are You Afraid of the Dark?’; a programme I used to watch avidly as a kid. So is director James Cullen Bressack dabbling in Nickelodeon Extremism?

Like most modern Horror’s, pick any horror film out of a hat, you will find a cast of attractive people in their early twenties lined up as lambs for slaughter. ‘Pernicious’ is no different; you have three attractive young women who have gone out to Thailand for a month to teach Children. The friends Julia (Emily O’Brien), Alex (Ciara Hanna) and Rachel (Jackie Moore) stay in a rather nice old riverside house. Inside the house they uncover a golden statue of a little girl, which gives off some right creepy vibes.

What follows is unpredictable in the sense that the film is a real slow burner. The women head off into town and bump into a trio of lecherous leary Brits, lads on tour if you will. Rachel, the stereotypical dumb blonde flirts up a storm and the group end up back at the girl’s house; it is here where one of the Brits pulls out a bottle of laced liquor and something rather untoward happens.

Just when you think the blokes take advantage of the women things take a blood curdling about turn. The women end up butchering the blokes. When the ladies wake the next morning they think it’s all been a horrible dream, as the lads have vanished and the golden statue has disappeared. For some reason the girls care what has happened to the statue and try to track it down.

The rest of the movie is a treasure hunt, as the women discover the story behind the statue from a gravelly ill old man, and end up on a bit of a wild goose chase cum evil spirit story. It’s this curious second half of the movie, which is rather non-eventful but at the same time really engrossing. I can’t really put my finger on why this is, because aside from Jackie Moore, who adds quite a bit of humour as the ditzy Rachel, there is no real stand out scream queens or OTT acting performances. It just seems that the story works because it is frugal throat slashing throwaway film candy.



Pernicious on IMDB

Blood Lake: Attack of the Killer Lampreys (2014)


I would love to know the story behind this film. Animal Planet are best known for their mostly factual series about animals – from great beasts to household pets (“Cats 101” and “Dogs 101” are excellent, and “Too Cute” is like a 30 minute packet of bliss). For reasons unknown, perhaps related to their 100% non-factual shows about Bigfoot (IT DOESN’T EXIST, YOU DUMDUMS), they decided they wanted to branch out into animal-themed movies. The natural partners in this low-budget world are The Asylum, and then The Asylum called James Cullen Bressack.

Bressack is a fast rising star in the horror world. Despite me really not liking his early film “Hate Crime”, he’s been a very busy fella,  and it looks like he’s a hit away from ascending to the level where people other than us film nerds will know his name. I’m not sure this film will be it, but it definitely adds another string to his bow.

After a nice quick start, we’re right into a lakefront community being hassled by killer lampreys. These bad boys are bigger, meaner and kill-humans-er than your average lamprey, but for a really long time in this movie no-one believes that they’re capable of anything. The Federal environmental people, and the few locals we see, are a who’s-who of “That Guy” actors, from Shannon Doherty and Christopher Lloyd at the top end of the pack, to the bad guy from “A Christmas Story” and one of the witches from “The Craft” at the other. Rachel True, the aforementioned witch, is 47 years old and could easily pass for 30. Well done, her genetics!

I wonder if there was a contract clause about Bressack having to put some educational stuff about lampreys in this film to fulfil Animal Planet’s remit, because I actually feel like I know more about lampreys now than I did before I saw it. I also know that small-town Mayors will never, ever, err on the side of caution, because Mayor Christopher Lloyd, despite the enormous odds stacked against burying his head in the sand with people starting to die, insists so strongly on everything being fine that he gets a federal employee fired. It’s such a tired old trope of cinema (especially low-budget monster movie cinema) that I wish they’d figure out something new to do with it.


While Lloyd is waiting around for his inevitable poetic justice, the lampreys get bolder and bolder – the worry being that if they make it to the nearest Great Lake, they’ll completely destroy the ecosystem, causing incalculable damage. They start climbing over dams by suckering themselves up the sides, and it’s at this point that I have to let reality wander in. Picture it – you’re a wildlife guy, and there’s a potential catastrophe on the horizon. Do you just run around town trying to figure out how to stop it, or do you call in the National Guard, tons of backup, etc? It seems like killer lampreys about to wipe out all the river-life throughout America would be worth a big response. But as these films don’t have the budget for that sort of thing, all we get is three guys and a few plucky teenagers.

My notes contain two important hastily scribbled phrases – “people are really stupid” and “I really hate teenagers”. The Dad of the family, the federal guy, takes a spectacular amount of crap from his kids for trying to save the day; and despite tons of “seriously you guys, stay away from the water” advice, people still swim in their pools and park themselves on toilets without a care in the world. Also, everyone seems to be petrified of the lampreys, but whenever anyone attacks them, they always succeed, which calls into question the toughness of these fishy bastards.

This film is surprisingly tolerable. There’s some decently gross special effects, a little nod to the classic Peter Jackson film “Brain Dead”, quite a few decent lines and funny moments, and no real weak spots in the acting. Apart from a bit of a lull in the middle, some occasionally ropey CGI and a slight oddity with the timeline near the end, I’d have no problems recommending this. The best movie in Animal Planet’s history! (a line for the DVD release, there).

Rating: thumbs up


PS – for a much less kind (but much better written) review than mine, the Knobbyverse is the place to go – check out their review here.

James Cullen Bressack Tapped to direct ‘Squeal: Blood Harvest’


LOS ANGELES (May 2, 2014) – The production team of upcoming horror feature, SQUEAL: Blood Harvest has officially announced that horror director James Cullen Bressack has officially signed on to direct the psychological horror thriller. “I’m very excited to be a part of this awesome project and to push the envelope to a place it hasn’t been yet.” said Bressack in response to inquiries about his involvement in the much anticipated release. Bressack is known within the indie horror film industry for his work on such films as 13/13/13, Hate Crime, and Blood Lake. He first exploded onto the scene at the age of 18 with the success of his first feature My Pure Joy and has been generating a considerable amount of buzz ever since. He has also been active in the production of a series of horror anthologies focused on showcasing other up and coming indie horror filmmakers.

SQUEAL: Blood Harvest follows the story of young Maggie Crane and her brother Jake as they attempt to unravel the mystery behind Jack’s recurrent nightmares of squealing pigs. After a move to their Uncle Ollie’s farm, Maggie and her camera further explore the dark and sinister foundation of her brother’s fears to the tune of chilling revelations.

The film is currently in preproduction and scheduled for a 2015 release through Dismal Productions in association with MOnsterworks66. The screenplay was written by Michael Hultquist (Arena, Victim) based on an original story concept created by Seth Metoyer (Cell Count, Deadly Punkettes, Ballerina Massacre) and story coordinator Shannon Hilson. Executive Producer Steve Boyle has recently joined the project, and casting is also in progress with Bill Oberst Jr. (Criminal Minds, Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies, Children of Sorrow) set to play the lead role as Uncle Ollie.

More details will follow as additional details about the film are released. For more information, be sure to visit the following links:

SQUEAL: Blood Harvest IMDB Page:

Official Facebook:

Official Twitter:

VMI acquires James Cullen Bressack’s ‘Pernicious’



Hollywood/Santa Monica – Vantage Media International (VMI) has acquired the worldwide rights to the much buzzed about horror title Pernicious, it was announced jointly by Andre Relis, Founder and President of VMI and Daemon Hillin, President of Production of Benetone Hillin Entertainment (BHE).

Ciara Hanna (Power Rangers), Jackie Moore (100 Ghost Street) and Emmy-nominated Emily O’Brien (Young and the Restless) star in the film directed by James Cullen Bressack. One of the hottest young directors in this genre, Bressack is perhaps best known for numerous 2013 releases including To Jennifer, Hate Crime and 13/13/13.

In the vein of such horror fest standouts as Hostel and The Grudge, Pernicious follows the plight of three American beauties whose dream summer adventure in Thailand quickly turns into a nightmare when they unleash the spirit of a murdered child with only one thing on her mind…revenge.

“VMI is thrilled to acquire the worldwide rights to Pernicious and to further diversify our slate with such an intriguing and beautifully shot feature film,” said Relis. “We look forward to sharing Pernicious with an eager global audience.”

“We are proud that Pernicious was one of the first films to be produced under the newly formed Benetone Hillin Entertainment banner,” said Hillin referring to the recent merging of Hillin Entertainment USA and Benetone Films, the largest foreign film production company in Thailand. “The film reflects the high quality, universally marketable feature films shot in breathtaking and unique locations that BHE is committed to producing. We are excited that Pernicious is now in the extremely capable hands of VMI.”

Hillin and his BHE partners Rachvin Narula and Kulthep Narula served as producers on the film. Executive Producers of the project are Rajpal Narula, Deepak Simhal, Farid Khan, Ajay Vasu and Albert Sandoval.

About VMI

VMI is a worldwide distributor of quality independent film, documentary and music content with an impeccable reputation in the industry. Founded in 2003, VMI prides itself on its lasting and loyal relationships with its producers where the goal is to promote not only the current production, but also upcoming projects. The company has an extensive network of buyers and has cultivated longstanding direct relationships with the top networks, distributors and releasing companies throughout the world. To that end, VMI attends and exhibits at all major film and television markets including: NATPE, Berlinale, Hong Kong Filmart, MIPTV, the Cannes Film Festival, LA Screenings, DISCOP, MIPCOM, AFM and ATF in addition to regular sales trips throughout the world.

About Benetone Hillin Entertainment

Benetone Hillin Entertainment (BHE), a merging of Hillin Entertainment USA and Benetone Films, the largest foreign film production company in Thailand, is poised to become a one-stop-shop for everything production related in the United States and Asia. The newly formed international production and servicing company is a strategic partnering of Santa Monica based Daemon Hillin who serves as President of Production and oversees the domestic arm of the company and brothers Rachvin and Kulthep Narula who remain on site in Thailand where they also operate Benetone Films.

BHE is committed to producing beautifully shot, high quality independent films of all genres and budgets.

For more info about James Cullen Bressack check out:

Twitter: @Jamescullenb


2013 Director’s Reel:

2012 Director’s Reel:


13/13/13 (2013)


Directed by: James Cullen Bressack

There has been a steady progression in the directorial career of James Cullen Bressack, a man usually full of clever ideas, but lacking the budget to execute them. His latest film ‘13/13/13’ is in a similar vein to ’28 Days Later’, but with a Mayan calendar twist. It is a tale of lunacy and madness that stutters along without a satisfying payoff.

I’m going to choose to ignore the opening scene because it is the kind of dredge you’d find in a ‘Paranormal Activity’ movie trailer, and jump straight to the traditional American camping trip with the boys. Four old buddies are regaling each other with urban legends. One of them, a bloke named Jack notices his digital military watch has changed to 13/13/13. He isn’t happy with this and accuses his buddies of tampering with his knock off Casio. Maybe the watch was made in Taiwan?

Jack is going through a divorce, and he calls home to check on his twelve year old daughter Kendra. The demon child is behaving oddly, showing all the hallmarks of a serial killer by eating a small spider. Inside the house Jack and the boys find Jack’s estranged ex-wife Marcy working hard on those dishes in the kitchen. At that moment I found it surprising that a house of that size doesn’t have a dishwasher. When Jack’s curiosity gets the better of him and he gets a closer look at what Marcia is doing, he discovers an unsightly gash on her wrist.

Being the doting kind of ex-hubby Jack escorts Marcy to hospital. Every staff member in A&E is stressed and on the verge of meltdown; so, nothing strange there then. But things do take a turn for the worse, when Marcy begins to behave irrationally. I’ll try to avoid spoilers, but if you know Bressack’s work then it will involve a lot of blood.

Meanwhile at home little Kendra matures early into a cold eyed killer and bashes the skull of one of Jack’s pals onto the front yard concrete. She then runs away. The film flicks back from Jack in the hospital to events at his ex-wife’s home, until Jack returns home with a woman named Candace who he picked up at the hospital.

Looking at the acting in display, Trae Ireland is alright at playing Jack, the resourceful hero, Jody Barton plays unhinged pretty well as one of Jack’s pals, but everyone else either seems on the edge of fluffing their lines or overdosing on hysteria. The best example of this is when a jacked to the gills meathead fellow in a car park goes hillariously berserk, yet despite the unsightly purple veins in his neck he can’t even seem to be able to pull off roid rage.

Weird events occur on 13/13/13, but what isn’t clear is why everyone flies into a rage. There appears to be no logical explanation to these occurrences. No bat droppings finding their way into pig food, which somehow then contaminates humans. We just have to accept that when the calendar reaches 13/13/13 all hell breaks loose. Though 13/13/13 is a watchable movie, like those SyFy films that Mark’s so fond of, because you can quite happily sit through the movie, if only just because however ridiculous it is you still want to know what happens next. ’13/13/13′ is however lacking something.

It’s that ideas thing again, Bressack has directed an interesting spin on the outbreak post-apocalyptic movie, albeit one that is missing some pizzazz i.e. a few little surprises, some good old fashioned twists and turns. In many ways this is your typical ISCFC film favourite, a film we will root for and champion, but oh, the disappointment, because it could’ve been so much better. That may be down to the editing, it may be down to the script. I appreciate the risks James Cullen Bressack took with ‘Hate Crime’ and ‘To Jennifer’, but ‘13/13/13’ pushes no boundaries and seems oddly restrained for a movie centred on people going absolutely insane.


13/13/13 on IMDB

Interview with James Cullen Bressack

james cullen

We described ‘To Jennifer’ as “a film which covers obsession, voyeurism and ponders how modern life seems like it is seen through the lens of a smart phone”; it made a lot of sense to grab some of the precious time of director James Cullen Bressack and ask him a few questions about the movie and life in the biz.

ISCFC: Hello James, I thoroughly enjoyed ‘To Jennifer’ and felt that it was your strongest effort to date. How did the initial idea for the film first come about?

Thank you! I truly appreciate that. This is a tricky question to answer, because essentially the initial idea was the twist, and I don’t want to give that away, But what I will say is i wanted to make a film that was 90% a comedy, to lull an audience into security before having a big turn at the end. In my first film ‘MY PURE JOY’, I tried to splice in buddy comedy with horror and I feel like it didn’t work, so I wanted to try again and get it right this time.

What challenges faced you when shooting the film on an iPhone 5?

Honestly, the same challenges that you face while shooting with any other camera, although the Video doesn’t transfer from the iphone 5 to the computer as easily and it’s hard to open in final cut. Also occasionally the camera would flex and Maure on its own.

Are we all in danger of turning into voyeurs in the internet age?

I believe we are. I was just having a conversation about this yesterday, but my generation I think would find it near impossible to go an entire month without internet or cell phones. It would be like the dark ages! We have adapted and come accustomed to these appliances as a part of everyday life. I almost sometimes look at my phone, because it has google in it, as an extension of my brain, holding all the facts my mind can’t on its own.

You’ve stated in previous interviews that your all-time favorite film is ‘Oldboy’, what are your hopes for the upcoming remake?

I honestly am not planning on watching the remake, I am not a fan of the filmmaker or remakes and don’t want to ruin my favorite film for myself. If the reviews are AMAZING, I might reconsider.


We covered ‘Hate Crime’ last year, and complimented the acting performances. Was there any reluctance shown from the actors about dealing with the strong subject matter and the experience of acting out such shocking violence?

All of my actors that ended up in the film were VERY dedicated and fine with all of the content and violence; they understood the importance of the message that was being conveyed within the film and the symbolism of each act of violence. However, there were cast members that dropped out of the film in the early stages that had to be replaced, and there were people that stormed out of the audition rooms after reading the sides.

A great deal of your films cover the threat that is right on our doorstep; our friends, our neighbours, about how those people we know and trust can worryingly harbour the darkest secrets – when you read the news this a familiar and scary part of the societies in which we live in, but in cinema the local danger is sometimes ignored, particularly in the horror genre. Why do you think this is?

I feel like people don’t always like to be reminded how scary the world we live in today is, but as a horror filmmaker, it is my job to play on the fears of my audience. The world around us is scary. Horrible things happen every day. I don’t need to create monsters, when there are monsters that live just a few houses down from any given person. Even that thought, or paranoia, that’s what I like to play into when making a film – Reality. I also find it a lot of fun to dive into the mind of a monster and find out how the think, how they work. It really helps the process with my actors as well.

You are very hands on with the audition process. What are you looking for when it comes to picking leading males and scream queens?

I am very obsessive about who I work with as an actor or actress. Any of the actors I have worked with in the past will tell you I am an actor’s director. I spend days upon days, hours upon hours, discussing character, who this person is, how they feel when they wake up in the morning, what makes them tick, and everything that is off the page, not just on it. I also dive deep into the motivation of each and every word and action the character does. To do this I need to know I can spend that much time around an actor or actress, that I really connect with them on that mental level, and that they are able to put in the time and work for me that I will require. I also tend to do, what I am told is a Fincher-esque amount of takes per angle on set to help build performances as well.

Storytelling is something that is important to you as a director. Outside of cinema, what storytellers do you most admire?

I am a huge fan of Jack London, Edgar Allen Poe, Shakespeare, and Rampo.

What can we expect from ‘Pernicious’?

‘Pernicious’ is going to be my first Supernatural horror film. It is also my favorite script I have worked on thus far. The film also happens to be more commercial an effort then my films in the vein of ‘HATE CRIME’. It’s more tame, yet equally as frightening, just in a different way. I am excited to see what everyone think of it, because I will be pouring myself into it for 3 months straight in Thailand! It’s going to be an exciting and intense film, I guarantee it.

Summer is here, the time of the year traditionally set aside for the release of the big budget blockbuster. What would you say your favourite blockbuster was from the last few years?

The last Harry Potter movie. I was a big fan of the books. 🙂


To Jennifer (2013)

to jennifer

Directed by: James Cullen Bressack

James Cullen Bressack returns after the thoroughly unpleasant home intruder film ‘Hate Crime’ with ‘To Jennifer’, a film which covers obsession, voyeurism and ponders how modern life seems like it is seen through the lens of a smart phone. In fact ‘To Jennifer’ was shot on an iPhone 5.

There will be criticism of this, accusations of amateurism, but using the iPhone actually adds rugged authenticity to the film. You could argue that anyone could make this film, but this deceptively simple DIY approach has been cleverly edited to the point that it seems rawer than it actually is. One thing is for certain this is a tighter, better movie than ‘Hate Crime’.

We open with Joey (Chuck Pappas) talking straight to camera, addressing his girlfriend Jennifer who he suspects is cheating on him. Joey’s plan is to catch her in the act by staking out her house. Joey enlists the help of his cousin Steven (Bressack) to catch everything on camera. Steven and a jovial party animal buddy called Martin (Jody Barton) attempt to get Joey out of his funk, and distract him from Jennifer by introducing him to a variety of single women who are gagging for it and when that fails… prostitutes. They embark on a woozy voyage through the neighbourhood.

‘To Jennifer’ is a road trip which veers off into sinister territory. It makes a blunt comment on voyeurism in the internet age, as Joey becomes more and more fixated on Jennifer to the point that he hacks into her Facebook page. The camaraderie and banter between the three young men in the movie doesn’t feel forced, at times it feels like you’re watching a collection of YouTube videos that a few stoner buddies have made. I’m guessing a lot of the dialogue has been improvised, and again, what could be seen as something detrimental, actually turns out to help the film.

By the time you form an attachment with the goofy trio ‘To Jennifer’ becomes a trifle unsettling as Joey begins to freak out, becoming more and more detached from reality. The outbreak of violence that thus far in the film has consisted of a petty bout of drunken fisticuffs in a back garden, hits the viewer hard; Bressack’s restraint to not bombard us with shock and gore (like in ‘Hate Crime’) pays off in the bloody dramatic conclusion.

I suppose if you’re looking for comparisons, then it is a distant cousin to ‘Catfish’, and part of the Found Footage family that snowballed after ‘The Blair Witch Project’. Working on a shoe string budget, Bressack has made an engrossing little movie that although not ground-breaking, illustrates his continuing development as a filmmaker.


To Jennifer on IMDB