Archive for the ‘International Horror Films’ Category

Scorching the Retinas; Avalanche of Indy

collar dvd cover

Collar (2014 – Canada)
Writer/Director – Ryan Nicholson
Plotdigger Films
Unearthed Films
Runtime – 72 minutes

(Warning; this is more a stream of consciousness review I had fun scribbling in a groggy early morning hours state rather than the usual intricately planned, thought provoking, well-articulated article – ha! As if)

If you know anything about Ryan Nicholson, you know “Gutterballs”. And if you know that twisted chunk of celluloid you have some understanding of what to expect from this. However, if you don’t know Mr. Nicholson’s style, I’ll supply a few descriptive words.

Gratuitous Sex, depravity and Gore.

(Red Band teaser/trailer courtesy of Stephen Biro of Unearthed Films)

A definite “Deadbeat at Dawn” (A Jim van der Bebber classic cult slice of cinema) vibe gets this film out of the starting blocks, an introduction to a City (the seedier parts) and the films main character (but more on him a little later). For now, let’s just say he’s a homeless fellow who’s causing slightly more than a little disturbance behind the drugstore in the alleyway.  Two deviants who just so happen to be in the area have a penchant for filming ‘Bumfights’ (yes. Unfortunately, it was a “thing”) and have gotten excited as they believe they’ve stumbled upon a goldmine of sorts. Our homeless “friend” is an aggressive sort who likes to show off. Suffice it to say violence sells. Extreme violence brings in more money and sex. Well, you guessed it! These guys have zero morals even fewer prepared lines and it just so happens two full cell phone batteries. (God help us!) Add to the calamitous plot a pair of cops, a street walker a pimp and his sidekick and the story pretty much writes itself. Or, at least it seems like it has.

collar massive

uhhh- I need direction!

Let’s sprinkle in a little D’Amato influence ala the lumbering George Eastman (as The Grim Reaper or Anthropophagous [the Beast], depending upon which version you’ve seen) just think of the poor lobotomized fellow (played by Nick Principle who has a remarkable filmography to his name and appears as if he could play a decent Anthropophagous in a future remake) in a city setting rather than upon a Greek isle and add a delicate sparkle of a backstory. It appears ‘Massive’ (these fellows get inventive with their names) has a past filled with abusive at the hands of a clergyman and a rage fueled by his youth drenched in horrific experiences. Suffice it to say this gargantuan doesn’t speak much, has a dislike for pretty much everyone and treats his female company much like Walmart treats their employees (did I just say that? Whoops).

collar hungry

Do you happen to know my lines?

Naturally seems as this is a Nicholson helmed film the storyline is minimal, really just a thinly veiled excuse to depict carnage, atrocity and horrific abuse on film. And it needs be said homage to his influences. The D’Amato lumbering mindless killer vibe is strong even down to the near fetus eating scene (one of the main reasons the film was banned in so many countries for such a long time. It was a rabbit!) which appreciatively this film stops just short of. The acting is threadbare and the directing…well, surprisingly it’s passable, albeit raw, this is probably based on the fact Ryan has a few films to his credit (perhaps his style is getting more polished as it matures? Is it possible?) Now that’s not to say this is well written, it really isn’t. I’ll be Frank (…but only if I can be Sally later. Huh? What?) Collar is not in any way a great film. It’s horrific (but its far from the worst I’ve laid eyes upon). It has zero socially redeeming values, its dialogue is despicable (probably improvised throughout, with minimal script I don’t doubt) and the most expensive set piece is a haphazardly thrown together shed. It should come as no great shock therefore that I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone. It’s doubtful that the casual B movie fan will find this amusing, it really has very little humor in it unless one counts the acting (some performers stand out more than others) the production values and the dialogue (did I mention the final scene is extremely quotable?) However, the sickest, most jaded among us will love this. Collar thrives on nudity and crimson. Actually, more than a little of the “red stuff”. When someone says “Gore” this is exactly that, far removed from merely blood spraying everywhere, this film gloats on scenes showcasing shattered skulls, dismemberment, people torn in twain and eyes popping from their sockets.

gutterballs dvd cover

An early poster for “Gutterballs”

In short, this is sure to please the most depraved among us. I’ll only watch it once, it’s left a mark on me. For all others, avoid this like the plague. It’s hard to watch, raunchy and “wrong” doesn’t even come close. More importantly it’ll make one want to scrub themselves clean following a view, this is the kind of film which makes most feel dirty… beneath the skin (yuck!) For all others, a rare few to be blunt, this is likely to rank and place among “Gutterballs”, “100 Tears”, “Flesh Mannequins” and “Necromantik” (although to be fair, this was more an art film about doing the nasty with a corpse) in the finest collections of the “connoisseurs” of the genre (that’s the nicest way to say it). Hopefully in a location perched far above the inquisitive grasping hands of the more impressionable (aka as kids), I was once one and this is unfortunately the way I was indoctrinated; wide eyed and fascinated.

Wear a seat-belt, don a mask (fingers crossed this Covid shit goes away sooner rather than later) and keep this away from the kiddos (these are my words of wisdom for today) But most of all steer clear of this if you’re easily offended.

That’s it, I’m out!

Watch at your own risk!

Cult

Collar is available to watch on Tubitv and can (probably) be found online to purchase at a wide range of prices, it’s best to shop around before you start to supply those credit card deets.

Ryan-nicholson

Parting words; In October of 2019 Ryan passed after a lengthy battle with cancer. His career includes numerous directorial duties (namely Gutterballs, Hanger, Live Feed and Collar for Plotdigger Films) and prolific often award winning FX work for such films as Scary Movie, (the most recent) The Predator, The 13th Warrior, Reindeer Games, Mission to Mars, Final Destination, Dreamcatcher, Elf, The Chronicles of Riddick, Blade: Trinity, Ghost Rider and Blair Witch. His films, which are always shocking and often controversial, have left an indelible mark upon the genre joining the fight to eradicate censorship within cinematic realms and the art world.

He shall be missed. RIP.

 

Scorching the Retinas – Avalanche of Indy

Creepy Tales of Pizza and Gore (2014)
Creepy Tales of Pizza and Gore (2014)
Italy
Director – Lorenzo Fascina, Marco Giangiareli
Runtime – 59 minutes
Bayview Entertainment
Widowmaker Films

 

How Pizza delivery and Slasher cinema collide I have no idea. Perhaps I should confer with Axe Slasher (a band from California with much the same interests whose work can be found here https://axeslasher.bandcamp.com/) or Werewolves in Siberia (who provided the soundtrack for “Slice” https://werewolvesinsiberia.bandcamp.com/album/slice-original-comic-book-soundtrack an online comic book with much the same premise) before I continue. Regardless, this vignette collection opens with a Pizza delivery person (whoops, I nearly said “boy”) navigating hasty drawn directions. The chosen mode of transport is a skateboard and this is the first indication that this might be a different than normal excursion into cinematic depths.

(trailer courtesy of DirtyTapeProduction)

With the “package” securely fastened cheesy deliciousness is on its way. However, it isn’t as easy as all that. The directions aren’t as easy to follow as believed and an obstacle hampers the deliveries progress; It’s a VHS tape. But more on that later.

Creepy Tales of Pizza and Gore - Ghost

Whoa – You have cold fingers!

 

Scuffed up and bloody the courier believes he’s found his destination. Indeed, he has. Bludgeoning replaces the traditional tip and the movie has an introduction. Cut to the first segment; “Whispering Ghosts”. A shared file proves to boast more than merely something for the eyes to discover, in fact its influence is undeniable. This is “The Ring”, hardly as polished, but in shared file form rather than VHS format. Be wary what you download, check its origin first folks.

The second segment; “Devils in the Night” amps up the skateboard element and adds a Punk rock/metal aura. By this point I’ve realized the movie hasn’t any SUBS.  Surprisingly, there’s hardly any dialogue other than an ominous figure narrating in Italian, a presence much like the Crypt keeper (though more sinister, add a Satanic aura) from the infamous Romero/King helmed “Creepshow” franchise. His narration would I can only imagine would add weight to this particular segment as it merely plays out as a Capture/kill in gruesome ways for little reason short with an arrival at the end which could well tie the reasonings together.

 

creepshow soundtrack

Most probably the first of many Creepshow images this article will boast. (This is a limited edition soundtrack on vinyl)

“Alone in the House” is the following segment. As you can imagine it is exactly that. A solitary female discovers a mysterious intruder, hides, then confronts said intruder (with a knife). Words aren’t needed here; the story is rather self-explanatory. The addition of symbol laden flashes is a nice touch as well the protagonist’s reflection in the knife she wields in a shaking grasp. The ending is a little odd but provides a gruesome climax for those wanting such. If only the lighting were better the FX could have truly shined.

“Wood” is next up. And is blatantly another segment plucked from the aforementioned “Creepshow” ala “Hitchiker” but with a difference, the moniker nods at not only its location (if you catch my drift) but also at this segment’s erotic nature, in part anyway. However, the mood soon transforms when the pairs vehicle collides with…something. One of the most inventive segments on offer “Wood” changes direction veering from predictable realms and yanks its viewers into WTF territories. Suffice to say this is one of my favorites here showcasing one of my favorite actors within this feature; the quite delicious Bunny Roberts, who sadly only has one acting credit to her name (even fewer pictures online), such a tragic waste of talent. Again, the lighting is abysmal leaving many of the FX, action and character in murky shadows and much of the details up to one’s own imagination.

Creepy Tales of Pizza and Gore VHS

Now imagine this has a life of its own and makes humorous noises as it moves around quite comically

Lastly, “Killer Tape”. Serving as the dark humor book end of the piece it gives live to a VHS tape when its owner decides to about face, change personalities from a comic book loving nerd into more a Collegiate Jock and bin bag all of his previous bits and bobs into the nearest trash receptacle to be replaced by various, cliched, sports paraphernalia.

Zero dialogue again in this piece other than grunts, groans (issuing from assorted bedroom activities) squeals, screams and a myriad of cutesy noises one might associate with Gremlins or creatures within features of similar ilk.

Several elements make this my favorite segment here. The tapes movements coupled with the noises it makes and the overall absurd nature propels it into fantastical realms and the fact that it pines over its ripped-up cover is the icing on the cake. Add to this a scene in which it comes face to face with an arch enemy and you have all the makings of a classic segment. I only wish I could say the same for the entire collection.

Bad taste one sheet

Any excuse to add a Bad Taste image and I jump on the opportunity.

“Creepy Tales of Pizza and Gore” has its moments and lovingly embraces a camera style which fans of “The Evil Dead” and “Bad Taste” will be quick to appreciate but only leave them wanting more. The tie ins from several of the segments are clever, especially the Introduction and last segment, though not all seem to fit the puzzle leaving several questions which demand answers. The acting surprisingly isn’t horrid and fits the overall mood of the collection. Even sans conversation the collection makes sense, largely, although subtitles would be useful in working out what the enigmatic narrator is saying, a factor perhaps which might also explain somewhat his place in the proceedings and undoubtedly heighten the flow of the overall feature. Apart from the undeniable channeling of vignette collections before it (namely “Creepshow”) this overall shows promise for the filmmakers involved, although using the word “Gore” dominantly in the title might leave many wanting more. Yes, it has a few scenes of grisliness, though not nearly as many as one might imagine.

hjeavy metal soundtrack

Obviously, this is the  most famous film with a “metal” soundtrack

The ideas are there, the direction is there (the easy to embrace up close somewhat quirky style – the homage in part) and the lighting, well, I believe I’ve mentioned that a few times. The use of Thrash/Speed metal as part of the soundtrack is a nice touch (a love it or hate it element really) which many Independent pioneers are embracing. Sure, the writing requires tightening up, experimental avenues need exploring, but that’s all part of the ongoing filmmaking journey and honestly, I’ve witnessed a great deal worse than this in my past viewing of Independent (low budget) films. All in all, this leaves me curious as to what comes next from the creative team involved. I’ll keep my eyes and ears to the ground.

5

Cult

best horror quotes

Exactly!

Creepy Tales of Pizza and Gore is available on DVD (Region 1: US and Canada) courtesy of Bayview Entertainment from most online retailers including Target, Walmart and Amazon (and I would imagine complete with English subtitles which this screener was absent of).

It can also be purchased here; https://www.familyvideo.com/creepy-tales-of-pizza-and-gore-539471

 

For all those interested “Slice” the online comic can be found here https://stela.com/

 

 

Scorching the Retinas – The Night of the Virgin

The Night of the Virgin – La noche del virgen (original title)
(2016) Spain
Director: Roberto San Sebastián
Writer: Guillermo Guerrero
Runtime – 116 minutes
Platanoboligrafo
Matchbox Films

The night of the virgin film

“Please I’m begging you, fuck my girlfriend”.

Some might think they’ve found themselves in a strange situation. I would imagine especially on a special occasion, where excessive drinking might be involved. None however, I would bet, come even slightly close to what this film showcases.

Imagine, if you will, it’s New Years. An awkward youngster, played by Javier Bodalo, is on the prowl. There’s plenty of liquor to be had (the location, a nightclub, has an open bar) but he’s striking out. Apart from being vomited upon he’s had no luck. That is until a mature lady approaches him. One thing leads to another and they’re back at her place. But, there’s something amiss. Something other than the fact that there’s no running water, menstrual blood is stored in a chalice in the shower, it appears the apartment hasn’t felt the touch of anything slightly resembling a cleaning product in years and that there’s cockroaches everywhere. However, our hero is about to get laid so obviously some of these things can be forgiven.

nico night of the virgin

Hey, Beavis. I’m gonna get laid!

Alas his partner falls asleep on him and he’s trapped. Still horny he manages to escape her snoring ‘grasp’ and decides to explore his surroundings. A strange statute and a collection of photographs alights his senses and he’s off again. This time he’s flying solo.  But, wouldn’t you know it in the midst of ‘cleaning up’ he’s disturbed. Interrogated, he arrives close to confession, admits he think it best he should leave only to find he cannot. Jealousy is at the door in the guise of an enraged ex-boyfriend. He’s cornered.  This film appears pretty much run of the mill at this point. Abruptly, it switches gears. Dives face first into razor wire, bizzaro-ville and starts to live up too many of the blurbs on the DVD box art. At this juncture I’ll spoil it and mention that a front row seat at a GWAR show would pale in comparison to the many highlights this film offers.

(Trailer courtesy of Cleopatra Entertainment)

Rather than offer more spoilers than I already have I’ll mention that “Night of the Virgin” is a movie which revolves around calamitous scenarios, lust, rituals, dedication, determination and childbirth. But it’s a whole lot more than merely that. With nods toward a slew of cult cinema including Jackson’s “Brain Dead” (Dead Alive), “Baby Blood” and” Inside” there’s plenty to get excited about. Admittedly the film has a certain air of discomfort about it, to put it mildly, and plentiful scenes to make one run towards the nearest bucket in a state of rapidly transforming color.

night of the virgin menstraul blood

Tell me I didn’t just pull this from my ear

A standout sequence might make one wish they would be better off wearing a poncho (there’s my tip of the hat to the films flavor and origin). Others still are reminiscent of a myriad of other no holds barred European affairs; “Taxidermia” comes to mind. There’s little doubt that “Night of the Virgin” takes a while to get going, the initial quirkiness is hard to ignore, once it builds to full steam the doubt has dissipated replaced by shock, bewilderment and an aura of What the unholy Fuck which only a handful of films have recently managed to provide. Naturally, as with any film one becomes invested within one will want to scream, throw things at the screen and shake their heads at the decisions the main character makes as he stumbles onward, blindly, towards his personal goal (which changes several times throughout the films length) and the films climax.

night-of-the-virgin-film madea

“Follow the sound of my voice, but don’t step on the cockroaches, it’s bad luck”

Strong performances from the films main characters make it stand out. The back and forth mental attitudes and general palpable awkwardness of, Nico, “the virgin” is captured and performed acquisitively. The seductress, Medea, is played chillingly and convincingly by Miriam Martín with just enough tease added to get any teenagers hormones raging. The dialogue is one of the films main attractions also. Insults hurled from behind doors and the way in which the same conversation deviates into a pleading tone is hilarious adding a humorous pitch to a situation which is otherwise viciously dramatic. This approach, also delivered excellently, puts me in mind of another Spanish director, Álex de la Iglesia, whose works include “Day of the Beast”, “The Oxford Murders”, “Witching and Bitching” and “The Last Circus” who demands discovery for those whose penchants run to subtitled cult affairs.

The-Night-of-the-Virgin nico dressed to impress

Hey, I’m Rico. Want me to do your dishes?

Although there’s humor to be found the film seethes with an aura (aided by its shadowy surroundings and style) of raunchiness and a vibe which will leave one feeling queasy and uneasy much like the same endured by the films main character Nico. Rather than follow the same tracks laid out by many before it, the film veers from the path which many might believe it will follow to instead incorporate ancient folklore, prophecies (another nod to “Brain Dead” but in this case minus a Sumerian Rat Monkey) and fertility rites. And there’s a spin on all this towards the films climax which is sure to stick with the viewer for some time following the viewing.

night of the virgin...birth

Where’s the OFF button?

Overall, “Night of the Virgin” is many things. A ‘slow build’ is chief among the words one could use in its description. However, as I’ve stated before, once it gets its legs it transforms into an unrelenting beast. A blistering chunk of grisly, disgusting, immoral, improper, celluloid one will want to talk about to whomever will listen. A harrowing experience, a viewing which might make one ponder upon their drunken past escapades as the main situation is somewhat, in small part, relateable. And more importantly a film which warrants eyes upon it. It isn’t by any means perfect, but I’ll argue that its imperfections add to its overall charm. Do what you can to get ahold of this, it’s a must see in my opinion especially if like me your tastes run into the jaded, more depraved arena, a territory than Hollywood would never dare offer, or even come close to.

8

Cult

Scorching the Retinas – Manhunt

manhunt foreign cover

Manhunt 2008
(Norway)
Writers – Nini Bull Robsahm, Patrik Syversen
Director- Patrik Syversen
Runtime – 76 minutes
Fender Film
Norsk Film Studio
Euforia Film

Set around the same time as the original TCSM (Texas Chainsaw Massacre) and in much the same location Manhunt commences with an initial soundtrack which strangely screams homage to other cult gems of around the same era. Young girls in pigtails, guys in leisure suits and a Volkswagon bus (boy, these things are worth some money these days) these kids are foot loose and fancy-free heading to the woods to escape the real world and responsibilities (lucky bastids). But there is strife early on, mixed feelings towards one’s attitude toward another and teasing to the point of annoyance, this might not quite be the idyllic outing they would’ve hoped after all.

trailer courtesy of jmacfarlane1234 on YouTube

Much like an early 80’s film with a bit of notoriety behind it the credits roll with all manner of names and ‘titles’ which I can’t make head nor tails of. I’m of the understanding, and hope, that subtitles rather than dubbing will take the helm. Thankfully it does and before long the main characters are introduced as well their idiosyncrasies and a few of the crazy eyed locals. An early indication of how this will no doubt transpire.

manhunt are you looking at me

Are you lookin’ at me? Wanna make something of it?

When the foursome offers a stranded female motorist a ride, after much deliberation, unease sets in. She’s scared, for some reason looking back in fear and only wants to leave the group’s current location. On the road her eyes move like a trapped animal’s, darting back and forth. Then the reason becomes apparent and the films feel abruptly plummets with a shotgun blast (most metal fans might immediately think MachineHead at this point) into the suburbs of both Harrowing and Terrifying. Only this isn’t the suburbs, the group is no longer smiling and carefree but puzzled, lost and strung up like animals. To make matters worse a ‘hunting horn’ suddenly blares away in the distance. What other choice than to run? Deeper into foreign realms, away from that which is familiar and further away from whatever is advancing (and did I fail to mention gunfire?)

manhunt - hide

Our legs are tired, we’re choosing to hide if that’s OK by you?

The film continues in a cat and mouse fashion displaying an excellent utilization of well-built tension and a myriad of well-placed highly effective camera techniques to heighten the suspense, often placing the viewer in the ‘hot seat’. There’s no doubting who the antagonists are as they are shown often, advancing, calculating and cornering their prey. Unlike, but much like, Wolf Creek the prey is the same, the arena is different (in its case the Australian Outback) and Jeff Jarrett remains a solitary hunter. There’s no arguing that these fellows enjoy larger game to that which usually requires a permit. But this is the middle of nowhere, it’s not like anyone is taking notes or will likely overhear or spy from their peripheral vision that which is happening.

TCSM classic poster

But who will survive (…and what will be left of them? To quote one of the original blurbs on artwork accompanying Tobe Hooper’s classic).

I’m not here to spoil things though I will mention that this film works surprisingly well on a variety of levels. For starters the subtitles only help the attention given to the on-screen action. The acting is far from what one might expect, as it is actually decent, relatable and utterly believable in the context. Strong well- written characters in effect bring the audience in closer to also feel the pain and frustration. Admittedly it’s easier to root for a character you care about the plight of. Translation and dialogue in instances seem a tad off and as a result shows the slight cultural differences between Norway and other countries. In regards to the antagonists barely a word is said only adding to the intrigue and mystery surrounding them and their reasoning for doing that which they enjoy. The direction is spot on. A grimy, gritty, edge is applied where it works in the best instance and close ups and well utilized techniques separate this from the typical runoff the mill affair also serving to elevate the tension level into stratospheric arenas.

david hess last house on the edge of the park

Standout scenes include eroticism with a brandished weapon (which replaces the obvious need for compensation) bringing to mind the quite brilliant, creepy and uncomfortable to watch David Hess in both Wes Craven’s Last House on the Left and Ruggero – Cannibal Holocaust – Deodato’s House on the Edge of the Park (I honestly didn’t know he directed this, you learn something new every day). And an unexpected gutting scene (of the vanquished) which leaves one wide-eyed. Gore and bloodshed are utilized when necessary and applaudably kept far from overkill territories leaving the film to rely more on exquisitely-crafted tension. The caliber of such bears mentioning also as it’s well applied; both grisly and believable.

The classical soundtrack is both atmospheric and ominous suitably fitting the films mood not in any way distracting the viewer from the harrowing experience at hand but rather adding to it.

manhunt erotica with a knife

And just where are you thinking of putting that, it looks awfully sharp!

My only slight qualm is the way in which Manhunt draws to a close in what many might deem a predictable manner though it’s not truly elaborated upon leaving the viewer to draw their own conclusions as to the characters ultimate plight.

In short, this viewing was a great deal better than I had expected. I went in blind having never heard of the film, or its director (or even its cast) and left pleasantly surprised. A wicked mash-up of the ‘stalk & slash’ genre, Deliverance, Turkey Shoot, the finest from the 80’s Cannibal genre, Wolf Creek and Hostel this is hardly original (there’s even been a remake, with the ame name, released in the last year based in Ireland) though riveting throughout has a deliciously gritty vibe and should not be ignored, regardless of the fact that it has a rather low score on IMDB. Personally, I’d give this an 8.5 with zero regrets and would place it on much the same plateau as the aforementioned Australian Outback outing. Make time for it!

Your slave to celluloid in many of its extreme guises,

Cult

Scorching the Retinas – We

Setting the Retinas upon Another Artsploitation Feature

We (2018)
The Netherlands

Artspolitation - We

Writer/Director – Rene Eller (based on the novel “Wij” by Elvis Peeters)
Runtime – 100 minutes
Pragmatic Pictures
NL Film funds Production Incentive
VAF Film

Faced with an email with the words “controversial”, “European” (which could possibly mean subtitles; admittedly my weakness), heavily edited for general consumption (I’m paraphrasing here) and “bored teenagers” plastered across it, I’ll admit my attention grew to rabid heights. Strange then that this isn’t a feature described as drenched in grue, brimming over with head kicks or exhibiting an overall nature which most would deem bizarre, for wont of a better term. Rather this, if I’m to believe the accompanying text, is a film which showcases eight bored teens and the antics they get up to during a long summer. Now, I can only imagine what this might entail. Having once been a teenager myself my mind races with all the uncomfortable occurrences, embarrassing situations, strange emotions and changes my own form went through, not to mention the myriad of (lets just call them) “naughty” thoughts which would take up residence in my skull often over-riding those, which looking back, made considerably more sense. It’s an interesting couple of years, for most involved, to state the least. And I have children, one of which is around the age of those showcased within this feature so with that which I already know in mind, and the memory of that which I got up to as a “frustrated lad”, let’s just say I can’t have a fence around my property high enough or security trained well enough. But, that’s enough about me what about the feature at hand?

We commences in a small town in the picturesque countryside on the Belgium/Dutch border. It proceeds to introduce the main players through a reflective narrative; a collective of eight privileged teens each with their own personality, some easier to read than others and others infinitely more perplexing. Everything appears innocent enough, in a Stand by Me or The Goonies sense. But the wholesome family entertainment values are soon brought to an abrupt halt as the cast prove themselves to be far removed from that which traditional celluloid would want the viewer to believe.

alf cake

Because every review needs Alf!

Interactions turn from playful to jaded in the blink of an eye but without the batting of. An impromptu game of “guess what this is” appears ‘everyday’, it seriously is, until one sees the context and parameters of said game, the ease and unabashed nature of how the victor becomes triumphant and how it progresses from its innocent enough origins (which really aren’t) to blatantly off the deep-end in an instant. This is one of the earliest indicators of how We might progress, shocking of that there’s no doubt (these are kids!) but depicted in such a ‘laissez faire’ manner as to highlight the anything goes/zero ramification/responsibility attitudes of those involved. Sure, there’s stereotypes of ‘European’ but this takes the proverbial cake!

It’s at this point that many might have already tuned out and turned away, and I can honestly see why and how they might make this decision. This however is still early on; the films aura becomes cloudier in wanton abandon as it reaches its climax (please excuse the pun in this context) and in doing so showcases a few of the main characters, their decisions, the “Manson-esque” driving force behind their downward spiral, back story and possible reasoning as to why they might be the way they are (?) Outrageous carefree antics transform into illegal pursuit; prostitution, blackmail and an online presence. However, even this isn’t enough for one of the attendees. She demands “it” get bigger still in her pursuit of the perfect reality piece d’art, else she’s out! It isn’t enough that the collective has a lurid website and that they’re spending all kinds of silly cash on whatever takes their fancy at the moment, they yearn for something more, something to ‘up the ante’.

Even with the untimely death of a close friend (a key player in the groups activities), the details of which the film doesn’t divulge until later, the group carry on, even enlisting others to join in on the “fun”. The landscape turns excessively darker and more sinister in tone as the key players experience a mixed bag of emotions, internal struggles and find their own ways to cope with strange new scenarios, and (shock horror) even responsibility and the ramifications of their actions as the film nears its eventual finale. But it’s true what ‘they’ say a small community soon finds a way to uncover all the secrets therein and secrets begin to unwind and unravel at an alarming rate.

Snow

Purely because pictures of snow covered roads are boring

We is a feature which is at times understandably difficult to watch, especially for parents with children of around the same age as those depicted; the mind reels, but it remains fascinating throughout whether it is in fact a depiction of “millennials” (which is the common conception) or merely a group of bored kids with zero supervision within surroundings devoid of excitement, and an air of what harm could possibly come from their actions? Unflinching in its approach, bolstered by top-notch, all-in, acting and quick to shock based on the fact that the cast is on initial appearance seemingly as innocent as unplowed snow (whatever that in fact means. I’m sure there’s a pun in there someplace) We takes the viewer to plateaus they might never have imagined and may well be unprepared for, although the tip-off is the disclaimer on the movies ‘box’ (and the fact that it is distributed by none other than the open-minded, censorship-be-damned, folks at Artsploitation). Obviously, many have added misleading blurbs to garner attention and boost sales (I can name a list a mile long off the top of my head as to films which have promised only to have left me miserably disappointed) however this is the real deal.

We takes the viewer on a journey across a terrain that’s bumpy at its best, visually scarring in instances, horrifying in others and a destination which might make one wary about sharing the street, let alone taking out any agreements, with a group of teens. But I won’t ruin it, this is a stunning and undeniably harrowing, experience you have to immerse yourself within with only the spoilers the films synopsis willingly provides. In essence this is a film I enjoyed more than I thought I would though will have a hard time describing without feeling like an utter creep who has just watched something others might not be able to appreciate based on my spoken words (what say I try to describe it better using text) alone …”Yea, it has naked teens in it they have sex and, uhhh… I’ll shut up now before you call the authorities”.

Kids film

Similar in part to outings by Lars Vin Trier, Trainspotting, Life and Death of a Pornogang and KIDS this is a film sure to spurn a myriad of trembling pens to paper, and outraged digits to keyboards in offense as its presence continues to ignite screens on a global basis.

A varied Pop/Techno/70’s soundtrack serves as a hypnotic background to the deviant tableaus on offer and the myriad of emotions bubbling beneath the thin veneer of normalcy on offer, at times. And is far from what one might expect. Kudos to the creative team behind this in their choices rather than the simpler option of utilizing tunes which would have been easier to implement and are undeniably more recognizable.

Plucked from the Artsploitation website “RENE ELLER is a Dutch director and producer. He started working as a casting director for television and commercials. After that Eller started to make an international name for himself, first as music video director and later as the founder of Czar, which grew into one of the most successful commercial production companies in the world. Since a couple of years Eller has fully immersed himself into the world of feature films. We is his feature debut”.

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We is available both cut and uncut on DVD and Blu ray here https://www.amazon.com/We-Blu-ray-Rene-Eller/dp/B082PPZTNN/ref=sr_1_6?keywords=we&qid=1580741631&s=movies-tv&sr=1-6

Comments, suggestions, recommendations? Feel free to drop me a line.

Your slave to cinema in many of its extreme guises,

Cult

Scorching the Retinas – The films of Bruno Mattei

Island of the Living Dead

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Island of the Living Dead (2006)
Italy
Director – Bruno Mattei (as Vincent Dawn)
Writers/Screenplay – Antonio Tentori, Giovani Paolucci and Bruno Mattei
Runtime – 98 minutes

 

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For those who are new to the films of Bruno Mattei, like myself, an introduction. Island of the Living Dead was the last feature Bruno Mattei completed before his passing in 2007. His filmography is vast, diverse, and much like Joe D’Amato, he has also worked under a plethora of pseudonyms touching upon soft core, exploitation, Nunsploitation, drama, adventure, science fiction/fantasy, Caligula/Nero Emperor debauchery films and the cannibalism genres (although some twenty years after their heyday).

He’s most famous for a film entitled Virus (1980) aka Hell of the Living Dead, Night of the Zombie and Zombie: Creeping Flesh. And with as many aka’s as that you can betcha’ it placed high on Thatcher’s Banned/ ”Nasties” list back in the day.

Ironically, His output oftentimes overlaps those more renowned in the same genre, both in theme and substance. Zombie 3 (1988) is an instance where he stepped in to finish a Fulci feature when the original director was forced to depart due to suffering a stroke.

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Alright, so this is a film shot somewhat recently hoping to capitalize on the aura and feel of an 80’s old school classic. The giveaways; well for one the copyright date, the names in the credits changed to give it more a European feel, but other than that it boasts a made for television, on the cheap, feel (much like a vintage Troma feature) down to the font, boldness and even the position of the credits themselves.

The movies opening scene introduces an island with a slight problem. Apparently, the locals have tired of the foreigner influence and rather than use the age-old trick of poisoning the visitors (or boring them to death with interpretive dance and the like) they decide instead to reanimated corpses via magick of the Dark variety. It works. Too damn well in fact, the undead overrun the Isle. One would think rifles would help, they don’t, but they do provide a decent enough head explosion to perk the interest of the Gorehounds among the audience early on. A character who could be a vampire is the last to be seen (I’m not sure where he figures into things, perhaps we’ll find out later?) before the scene comes to a close.

(trailer courtesy of SeverinFilms Official)

Cut to present times. A fishing boat, a crew (complete with a distinguished English gent) whose acting abilities are close only to the quality of the dubbing (it’s hilarious) and a treasure pulled from the sea. But the boat becomes damaged as the sea vomits its disgust at having the film produced upon it. The crew soon find themselves on an undersized dingy and soon upon an island with plenty of bushes (huh?) But that’s not all, there’s also ruins, a graveyard and a rotting looking chap in a Cavalier helmet who likes to grin at the camera (this makes me wonder what he’s been up to for the last four hundred years).

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The crew split. A nod to “Night of the Living Dead” and “They’re coming to get you Barbara” in not so many words is blatant but it’s the wait until the corpse is upon you until you scream and move which makes me snort with laughter. It gets better; rather than run the poor lady struggles as if to fend off an unwanted snog. The chap grunts, as if to say “well, what do you expect. It’s not as if we have mouthwash or even toothpaste, it hasn’t been invented yet or transported to this island yet”.

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Gimme a kiss

Her companions scramble I’m sure they don’t want corpse lips on their bits either but he’s a persistent bloke who’s rather good at taking punishment from an adversary whose Kung-Fu is only slightly better than his acting.

Meanwhile the ships mechanic is encountering problems of his own. A legion of round helmeted troops has arisen from the sea, without appearing wet in the slightest, to infest the engine room. The ship, I’m guessing probably the most expensive prop in the movie, goes up with a boom, crackle and pop and the crew deliberate amongst themselves as to the reasoning why without really considering the likelihood that the mechanic is still alive.

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This is in Latin, but it’s OK. I know Latin

The remainder of the team find themselves deep underground in the company of ancient texts and wouldn’t you know it one of them reads Latin. One spells out doom whilst the others are fancifully jacketed Readers Digest special Editions most probably pilfered from the nearest Goodwill.

Soon, our heroes find themselves crowded with the likes of various types who shambles and display very little in the way of rhythm. I’m guessing within their four hundred years of solitude that they didn’t learn the Salsa, the Rumba or the Macarena. Luckily the script calls for our heroes to remain mostly unscathed. They advance accompanied by the type of soundtrack one would expect to find within a fantasy-based RPG and find themselves in a fortified building, a place of worship of sorts. The locals however remain hungry.

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C’mon just a nibble. It’s been four-hundred years fer Christs sake!

The night has magically transformed into day (kudos to the continuity department, perhaps their lunch break overran?) and our band of intrepid treasure hunters are off again. Those ominous tunnels won’t discover themselves, right? One contains a plethora of doors, one with a handle which begs to be broken whilst the other a sanctuary of sorts.

Probably the best line of the movie (“Oh shit, I think it might be too risky to go this way”) takes place at about the point when one of the crew discovers that it wasn’t altogether too wise to tap a mysterious cloaked figure on the shoulder (but it was in the script) “Father, Father” only to realize ‘he’ might have in fact, been a ‘she’ after all (wrong movie? Whoops).

Traipsing through the caverns our heroes soon happening upon plentiful homage to both Edgar Allen Poe (‘Montel Agro’ (sp) a wine from one of his tales?) and Lovecraft (one of the mirrors needs a little attention as it shows a reflection which is most definitely not a reflection).  A disgruntled head in a trunk full of gold is a surprising touch as too is the brief swashbuckling score. A spot of guitar fretboard tinkering is intriguing, do corpses still have sufficient dexterity in their extremities to pull off the flamenco?

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However, it’s a scene sporting blatant Fulci (Zombie) worship, an eyeball and a wicked looking splinter, without a ‘money shot’ which might leave the majority puzzled.

Ghostly shenanigans and sudden Misfit (the band) in appearance acolyte silliness adds to a story with more holes in it than a string vest. Greed as it often does override survival instincts and the survivors continue about their merry way in utter disregard of their safety. The Isle opens up with its backstory using handy dandy stock footage from the 1600’s (wait what) and leaves only those with very scant attention still confused as to what’s going on. There’s an epidemic, the people are cursed with eternal undeath, blah, blah, blah.

Madness and hallucination prevail as it often does in times such as these and the crew start attacking each other. This threat is nothing however compared to the sudden appearance of a horde of vampires in corpse paint who’ve been hiding in plain sight the entire time.

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They’ve been here the entire time. Did you know this?

Will Sharon, Snoopy, (Captain) Kirk (Where’s Spock?), Mark, Balboa, Max and Fred survive or at least make it off the island? How is it that their names seem pulled out of a hat dedicated to 80’s celluloid and/or cartoon worship? Why does Sharon remind me of the usually-naked-in-most-films-she stars-in; Laura Gemser? Is this in part homage to The Tombs of the Blind Dead series as well to Romero? Does anyone care, is there anyone even still watching at this point? Admittedly, this is rather silly but the ending boasts a lady with surprisingly adept scythe skills (where can I find a class?), a blazing inferno and a horde of zombies who grunt and groan like lovable (but don’t fed them after midnight, or get them wet) creatures from a Joe Dante helmed Christmas movie.

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No one has ever called me a Gremlin, before now

Recommended only for those who have an adoration for the very worst, this is a feature overflowing with horrific one-liners, a script which a middle school-ager would be proud to take home to their parents, cardboard acting, makeup comprised of caked on foundation, obvious green screen effects aplenty and not nearly as much naked flesh on display as one might assume. But as much as I like to complain (I’m rather good at it) it has a certain something which can’t be denied. Is it the fact that it tries so hard to be what it so definitely isn’t? It deserves huge props in that regard, it fails but it’s delightful to watch it do so. Or is it that it’s just horrid and reminds me such of that which as a child I couldn’t get enough of. An element which dragged me into the realm of cult celluloid. I’m not entirely sure, but it has something which kept me watching, unable to caress the STOP button.

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You were expecting a pic plucked from an early Peter Jackson film?

I can’t recall the amount of times I quoted, yelling furiously at the screen, Bad Taste, whilst witnessing the antics of those in distress. Seriously…”the head shots the only true stoppa!”.

Watch this at your peril, the cover art is better than the movie itself and the pictures displayed on the back jacket about say it all without one actually watching the film. But God help me, I want more and I have four more to sit through, so be prepared for I might scribble upon each in turn in my own good time.

Cult