Posts Tagged ‘fantasy’

Dollar Store Movies – Immortal Demon Slayer

Dollar Movies Header

Immortal Demon Slayer (aka The Tales of Wukong)
2017
Writer – Hai Huang, Hezai Jin, Chi-Kin Kwok, Fan Wen Wen, Henri Wong
Director – Derek Kwok
Runtime – 123 minutes

immortal-demon-slayer

Welcome to yet another movie piece. A slab of scribbles in which I waffle on about my viewing experiences with a movie I’ve plucked from my collection featuring various films picked up at the insane price of a single dollar. Obviously, there’s not much you can do with a dollar these days. Perhaps a candy bar, a bargain priced burger (you’ll need a few cents for tax depending on where you live), a taco, small fries or a thimble full of the fizzy stuff. Hardly enough to sate any appetite. So, what of celluloid purchased for the same price?

(Trailer Courtesy of YouTube Movies)

In this instance I couldn’t resist. I’m a sucker for fantastical martial arts mayhem and subtitles and that’s exactly what the cover to this film promises. The accompanying text alludes to what many might know as the mystery surrounding The Monkey King. I vividly remember a series on British television in the early eighties with much the same premise which, though rather silly, was thoroughly entertaining. In recent years, actually the last twenty years or so, there have been a slew of entries in much the same arena. But what of this? Honestly, I’m not one to compare this film with the myth/folklore it’s based upon. Instead, I’ll merely talk of the film itself.

immortal demon slayer art

From the very beginning IDS offers luxurious, extravagant set pieces and costumes ranging from suits of armor to spectacularly decorated ensembles one might expect to see in The Hunger Games. There’s no doubt, even this far in, that this is a lofty budgeted affair. But it gets better. The main characters, a mischievous “Princess” (played by Ni Ni) and Sun Woking (who some might think of as The Monkey King), played by both Eddie Peng and Eddie Pang, are introduced within no time within a scene which opens the eyes and sets the bar high for the remainder of the film.

Immortal Demon Slayer setup 4 fight

Dust swirls and bodies bounce from one side of the screen to the other amidst a myriad of high wired stunts and video game styled fighting antics. Although fast and furious there’s little crimson on display keeping this at a somewhat playful level for most to enjoy. The film progresses blossoming wonderfully on the backstory of the main characters and the reasoning as to why they are the way they are. In this case there’s trouble in the Heavens, a power struggle, control issues and a debt to be settled but there’s a whole ton more than that which I will refrain from elaborating upon.  Rather than spoil any potential viewers enjoyment, I will comment on why I believe this film works.

immortal dragon slayer why dos it work

So, tell me O Wise One what makes this… watchable?

IDS (an abbreviation to save digit fatigue) boasts a fluid story line, in fact a myth which many might wish to explore further. The film sports characters one can relate to, probably not at first but as they develop and the film rolls out they begin to take on more human characteristics as opposed to the enigmatic Immortals they are portrayed as. Humor is used expertly as well as lightening the mood it works to bring many of the main characters ‘down to earth’. Obviously, one of the films major draws is its action, of which there is plenty, and brilliant choreography. Fluid, fast paced and often surprisingly inventive it will please those newcomers fascinated by the genre and those who frequently dwell in what it has to offer. Larger than life the on-screen antics frequently run into the fantastical boasting wizard-like gymnastic moves and weapons of a dazzling amorphous nature wielding continent shattering might.

immortal demon slayer weapon

Cor blimey! That’s big!

However, IDS isn’t all about conflict, unearthly weaponry, fate/destiny and revenge. It also touches upon heart break, human emotions, the perils of being Immortal, overcoming obstacles and the power of determination and dedication. Add to that scenic views which are breathtaking, backdrops which are stellar and special effects of the highest quality you have a film which delivers in every aspect. The soundtrack is grandiose, fits and adds just the right amount of emotion where it’s needed. Although there might be one or two scenes which some might find a little ‘sappy’.

immortal demon slayer a sappy moment

What. I needed something to punch and he was there!

All in all, if you’re wishing to experience a dazzling display of the surreal and the fantastical slathered in mythical themes blanketed in force of nature back flipping, spinning, high -kicking action it doesn’t get much better than this. Naturally, you have to have the patience and willingness to read SUBS while watching in order to be able to enjoy this (although I’m sure there’s a dubbed version available).  I enjoyed IDS from start to finish and honestly didn’t look at my cell phone once, either for the time or to check anything, that’s a sign of a good film, right? And this is! Make time for this especially if you’re in the market for a spot of ‘light-hearted’ escapism.

8.5

Cult

Scorching the Retinas – A were-Dinosaur Film? Now I’ve seen it all!

The Velocipastor (2018)

The Velocipastor

USA/China
Director – Brendan Steere
Writer – Brendan Steere
Runtime – 75 minutes
Cyfuno Ventures, Hollow Tree Films, Laika Come Home.
Wild Eye Releasing

After losing his parents, a priest travels to China, where he inherits a mysterious ability that allows him to turn into a dinosaur. At first horrified by this new power, a hooker convinces him to use it to fight crime. And ninjas.  (synopsis courtesy of the films writer and director; Brendan Steere)

When faced with a film with such a title and story line (above) how could I not resist a view, and the temptation to lay down a few words, seriously. To my knowledge the same premise hasn’t been tackled before. Sure, monsters of all varieties, shapes, size, gender (and political leaning) have been utilized in all manner of films before now. Unless you count the short film from 2011, by the same director, which started it all.

VelociPastor-short-film-2011-Brendan-Steere-5

The title scene from the ‘original’ short.

But none to my understanding include an individual, in this case lets spice things up by calling him a Pastor (which makes one only wonder where ‘the earth was created only a few thousand years ago’ belief/mythos comes in), who has the ability to transform into a Prehistoric killing machine, add to that ninjas and words of advice from a hooker (sex trade worker, street walker, purveyor of pleasures at a cost who knows what they’d like to be known as in this delicate time and age) and we have a film which I for one can’t ignore, much like a doughnut on a plate with a flashing neon sign which reads “free. Eat me. I’m yours!” Without further ado…

(trailer courtesy of JoBlo Movie Trailers)

The Velocipastor opens with a Grindhouse aura with a bold legend across the screen, which reads, “Rated X” by an all Christian jury is this indication of how the film will play out? It certainly has a sense of undeniable humor even this early on. The hilarity and a feel for how the film might roll out continues early on, in a scene in which the pastor, Father Doug, waves hi to his parents only to scream in terror as the car they’re next to explodes into flame. Although the image on screen is merely that of a legend “VFX: Car on Fire”. At this point I can well imagine those sans a love for B/zero to-no budget movies to have dispersed already (would the title alone not give an early indication of where the film might lead and how it might play out?) leaving those with the addiction to such glued to their seats.

Questioning his faith due to the abrupt and untimely demise of his parents Doug, played by Greg Cohan, decides a spot of travelling is in order. But he’s confused as to where to go. Father Stewart is on hand thankfully to offer a few words of advice “Go to where you think God will not follow  (and if he’s there, he’s within you)”

velocipastor driving

A rocking soundtrack finds our Pastor on the road, a myriad of questions and his faith battling for supremacy within his jumbled thoughts.

Doug finds himself in the forests of China, though I doubt his car took him all the way there. After an epiphany that China is in fact East Doug is perturbed to find a lady roll into his view. “Are you hurt/” he asks looking at an arrow protruding from her chest (this is honestly how the film plays out and I’m loving every minute of it) she offers him something and amidst the obvious language barriers he discovers he’s being watched and followed. The artifact in his hand cuts him in his haste to get away. In the next scene he awakens to discover his China trip is through, the following dialogue is plump full of unintentional hilarity and that he’s hungry.

Cut to a street view in which Doug runs in search of something. Meanwhile, a street walker encounters her pimp, Frank ‘Mermaid’ (cus he’s “swimming in bitches”) and discovers his maniacal laugh is worse than his bite and the park is where the money’s at. But there’s also something else lurking in the park. As luck would have it however a rubber suited large toothed reptile comes to the rescue and with this in mind it comes as no surprise that this film relies more on its glaring tongue in cheek nature than its FX departments professionalism and budget. Mannequin heads, crimson syrup and all. Although a synth addition certainly adds to Grindhouse homage and the films somewhat faux tension levels.

VelociPastor the lovers

When they aren’t busy necking Doug and carol enjoy camping and taking down Ninja crime syndicates

In the following scene a slew of close ups and rushed zooms adds to the perceived drama emphasizing the characters facial expressions and reaction to that which seems impractical (to say the least). Confusion, again) unintentional hilarity and blunt dialogue is a huge plus in a scene where Doug realizes he can transform into something his faith tells him never existed. But, more importantly, can he get over receiving advice from a person whom he shouldn’t be associated with?

“Wait…you’re a hooker.”

“And a pre-med at law but people aren’t too surprised at that one!”

After discussing his predicament Doug is still in two minds about his next steps until, that is, Frankie (fuckn’) Mermaid, portrayed brilliantly by Fernando Pachero De Castro, enters his confessional booth.

Various camera shenanigans, close ups in rapid succession, a focus on a gaping wound and incessant screaming overlaid by synth adds to the film’s grindhouse homage vibe and the audience is either loving it or hating it at this point.

Following this encounter a plan is hatched and the groundwork is laid with commandments to follow, which still need to be hammered out if truth be told.

“I don’t know much about God.”

“I don’t know much about Dinosaurs…”

And it appears there’s a new superhero/vigilante hitting the crime-ridden streets.

velocipastor carnage

A budding relationship indeed!

A lengthy montage scene, set to a poppy rock soundtrack, shows the pair building on a budding relationship as well Doug training for his new role as one who cleans up the streets with his claws, tail and hunger. A great touch perhaps a little overbearing but this only add to the film’s awkward nature and lovability.

Doug still keeping with his profession continues to preach and take confessional, in a standout scene he’s caught unawares by Father Stewart (who has concerns about his recent behavior) resulting in him hiding books on dinosaurs like an adolescent caught with porn.

Doug decides to confess. Dramatic music adds to his spill-all. Father Stewart is at odds with what to do, he wants an exorcism and an end to Doug’s ‘hallucinations’ has he been hitting the Bible a little too hard late at night it makes one wonder?

velocipastor hiding dinosaur books

If only it were porn.

Father Stewart, Daniel Steere (a relation to the films creator?), decides the Diacese is taking too long so he decides to take matters into his own hands in taking his companion to an unauthorized expert on the same subject. An inclusion of a backstory (of how the two met) adds considerably more humor, more specifically of the darker variety, to the film, weight to his character and depth to the story (a standout scene includes but us not limited to; a bucket full of guts, a VC trip mine, a visit from a loved one and a thousand yard stare).

Have I mentioned the city’s crime element and ninjas yet? My bad, but seriously this should come as no great surprise! A ninja with an Australian accent who takes his sweet time formulating a game plan of attack, within a small collective of the same (sans the accents) who just so happen to be patrolling the park, adds to the film’s unpredictability and fun and further on-screen antics from the rubber suited one.

velocipastor ninjas vs dinosaurs

Hero, menace or merely a large reptile who poops in the woods?

Further split screen and camera effects (think The Brady Bunch) add an elevated art approach level to the proceedings where it might not have been assumed before. This whole scene could be perceived as being the flashing thoughts being processed within Doug mind and in short conveniently (for those not paying attention) recaps the entire film, up until this point, in only a few seconds. In short, Doug is in love and is about to embark upon enlightenment and a trip to pleasures of the flesh-ville against the teachings of his faith and profession.

Further scenes including the same crime element. and the inclusion of Father Stewart, explain the tenuous link between street drugs, help groups, the Church and Global dominance as if this needs explaining any further, isn’t this already covered extensively in The Lion King?

velocipastor transforms

Much like a similar scene from An American Werewolf in London sans a budget

The Films final showdown depicts surprising fighting prowess (my Kung Fu is better than yours) an emotional Ninja collective and a full torso transformation under, wait for it, complete control, as well more of the same diabolical, though still highly enjoyable, effects. It also brings about the history behind the mysterious Dragon Warrior mythos in case one might be wondering about the history of the artifact.

Velocipastor surprising fighting skills

Wait is that Michael Davidoff, is this another American Ninja entry? nah.

Well, this is a great deal to take in but I’m glad to report that Velocipastor is an especially easy to follow feature. The humor is obviously front and center. I honestly don’t think the same premise could be pulled off given a serious light to work under, and it works (in much the same way Kung Fury does, if you have yet to see this do so at your earliest convenience) leaning heavily on quirkiness, awkward situations and naturally the, elephant in the room, odd ball and bizarre elements, even send ups of several other genres which are all famous for using little to no budgets.

Doug and Carol (played convincingly by Alyssa Kempinski), the love interest who has crippling student debt, steal the film and their interactions and on-screen chemistry are priceless. However, for me it’s the dialogue which propels the film to even greater heights the quirkiness, the blunt nature and dry comedic pacing which has me chortling like one crazed. Naturally this isn’t for everybody, but for those who enjoy the sillier side of the B movie spectrum, the occasional Troma affair and films which can laugh at even themselves whilst holding onto the slimmest of story lines this is a feature which deserves a portion of your time. I would even go so far as to say that this would make a great triple billing alongside the BC Butcher and Kung Fury.

Your slave to cinema which often runs the gamut of unfathomably bizarre

Cult

For those burning with curiosity, like myself, I’ve thought it wise to include a trailer to the original short film (courtesy of the mind behind the prehistoric madness; Brendan Steere) Enjoy.

head explosion cavity colors

Abrasive Audio…to Soothe the Senses –

Belzebubs – Pantheon of the Nightside Gods (2018)
Release – April/26/2019
Century Media Records

When one conjures images of elements which they believe would and could never mix with great results I could well imagine black metal and comic books being a pairing amidst many others on offer. Apparently, Belzebubs have gone and done the implausible. Incorporating comic book imagery, animation and humor originating from a web comic, by Finnish artist J.P Ahonen, they have done that which many could argue has been tackled before.

Why not give this a listen as you continue to read (courtesy of Spotify)

Belzebubs book

The book/graphic novel (in English) is available at Backstage Rock shop

Obviously, similarities exist to Cartoon Network’s Metalocalypse and (the band) Dethklok (who have since split-up largely due to the cancellation of the show), a project born of the mind of Brendon Small. But I would argue that this was based more on melodic death values (they referred to themselves as ‘Ragnarok metal’) and poking fun at the genre and the fantastical lives of the inhabitants therein itself rather than the blackened realm which the corpse painted visages here largely suggest. Another stylistic similarity which bears mentioning is the ‘virtual band’ Gorillaz (created by musician Damon Albarn and artist Jamie Hewlett) an act who enjoy notoriety based on the fact that it was created as a comment on watching MTV for too long, “it’s a bit like hell…” the creators commented …”there’s very little substance”.

Belzebubs album art

 

Belzebubs are from realms unknown, their formation and origins are also rather mysterious as is too their full lineup (although Niilo Sevänen, of Insomnium and Watch Me Fall fame, is known to handle vocal duties). As well as sporting a slightly comical moniker (a play on words) they’ve gained significant attention and popularity from utilizing animation in their videos, a style that’s rare especially in the metal spectrum but most especially in the blackened realm where skulls, spikes, forests, the use of “V” instead of “U” is of the upmost importance and for some reason the significance of goats holds dominance over all else.

(videoclip courtesy of Century Media Records

Front and foremost in the two animated videos (a lyric video exists for “Nam Gloria Lucifer” also) thus far released in support of the album, “Blackened Call” and “Cathedrals of Mourning”, is the fact that the band sports significant talent, they can compose, articulate with their instruments, the symphonic Gothic element accompanies the guitar play exquisitely and the music fits pleasingly between the ears even after numerous listens. The style manages to straddle several genres but most dominantly melodic realms supported by symphonic elements with rhythms which bring to mind Amon Amarth, Dissection, Immortal and a slew of material from acts from both the melodic death arena and blackened territories, albeit of the lesser archaic variety where production is important. But, let us not forget that the animation isn’t half bad either, in fact it’s pretty fn’ decent. Humor plays a large part, an element which is, more often than not, absent from the majority of releases in the same arena, the band appear to revel slightly in a smattering of tongue in cheek attitude upon the genre itself, note the chainsaw of “Black Metal” Venom studio antic fame below though thankfully the comic relief aspect stray from the elevation seen in films such as Spinal Tap. The humor element rather shows the band as human and fallible in their attempts to reach notoriety whilst trying their damnedest to stay ahead of the competition.

(videoclip courtesy of Century Media Records)

‘Pantheon of the Nightside Gods’ track list is as follows;

Cathedrals of Mourning ^

The Faustian Alchemist

Blackened Call ^

Acheron

Nam Gloria Lucifer

The Crowned Daughters

Dark Mother

The Werewolf Bride

Pantheon of the Nightside Gods

Nuns in the Purgatory*

Maleficarum*

(^ indicates animated video clips)

(* indicates bonus tracks)

Kicking the album off on a symphonic footing “Cathedrals of Mourning” boasts a Gothic nature and undeniable atmosphere which lasts the length of the entire track though never overpowers. Entwined around blast beats and rhythms, which are sure to place a smirk on the majority of melodic black metal fans visages, the vibe bolsters a track which veers from what many might assume into melodic waters sporting an array of impressive solos making for an opening which might surprise many though doesn’t disappoint in the slightest those whose tastes aren’t stagnant. For others who’ve pressed play based on traditional black metal album assumptions (whatever they may be in this day and age of rapidly transforming/shifting genre boundaries) this might not quite hit the mark, although it does still bear indications of major, and quite obvious, influence plucked from the same arena.

Belzebubs the band

Introducing the band itself complete with various accompanying hardware

The album isn’t without a myriad of moments which seem to stray from the ‘blackened path’ (I would normally say “Left Hand” but I fear it’s been overused). “The Crowned Daughters” is a great example, though most flaunt a diverse nature if truth be told, and makes me think upon progressive output from both Amorphis and Opeth with a slight Old Man Wizard edge however its feel soon transforms back to what fans would likely expect based on the albums art, a fantastic break showcasing the diverse attributes and the bands ability to think outside of the box in bringing together a wide variety of styles with seamless transition in a style which oozes absolute confidence.

Other tracks hint upon influence that’s found far and wide across the extreme metal spectrum. “Dark Mother” at nine minutes is the longest track on the album and also traverses progressive realms while also sporting rhythms of undisputable cinematic caliber all the while boasting (that which makes the album stand out from others of a similar nature) a brilliant atmosphere and all under an undeniable shroud of darkness draped in occult values. Quite the feat and yet another easily appreciated slice of audio, even on an initial listen basis.

(videoclip courtesy of Century Media Records)

For those demanding more a traditional, yet melodic “black” feel, “Nam Gloria Lucifer” hits the mark, at least for the opening minute, and then proceeds to offer spoken word passages, a diabolical touch, which complement the tracks aura even though like many others found here it also employs a detour through realms which makes this an album deserved of praise even from the ranks of fans who might not normally frequent the murky waters many might predict this to wallow in.

The title track, “Pantheon of the Nightside Gods”, is the albums climax (unless one is lucky enough to have a release which boasts the above mentioned bonus cuts) and although it may take a little while to warm up it showcases elements which makes this an unforgettable audio experience from start to finish; powerful, excellently crafted atmosphere and passages of an orchestrated nature alongside progressive melodies which combine to evoke imagery which is spectacular in scope. The bonus tracks, both instrumental, only add heighten the same effect. “Nuns in the Purgatory” is especially haunting; angelic choruses and chants laid against an apocalyptic synth veil which unhurriedly builds to a crescendo.

Belzebubs-band performing

In their natural habitat

In conclusion, “Pantheon of the Nightside Gods” is a release which will surprise a few, will undoubtedly stun others and stands as a testament to the fact that audio of this type need not suffer from archaic production to get its point across. The album’s diverse nature adds to its overall effect, executed with precision and flair the resulting audio is familiar yet pleasingly different enough to not comfortably fit into any specific genre categorization although many deem it as melodic blackened death it has so much more to offer the listener.

Recommended for fans of Cradle of Filth, Emperor, Kull, Bal-Sagoth, Amon Amarth, Immortal and for fans who have yet to dip their toes into unfamiliar fathomless enigmatic depths. The question remains; what are you waiting for? Go ahead, this is a great release to submerge your senses and to start an audio journey into regions which offer a damn sight more than one might initially think.

 

Belzebubs Logo

The band pondering upon their logo

To quote a well-known cartoon character …” Welcome to the dark Side, we have cookies.” (and riffs aplenty – I added that part as it seemed appropriate – Ed*)

Pantheon of the Nightside Gods is available to purchase in most respectable media outlets (even some shady ones I would imagine) and is also available in most formats here;

https://belzebubs.com/

as well more information on the band itself.

Cult

Scorching the Retinas – Saint Bernard (2013)

Saint Bernard

Written and Directed by Gabriel Bartalos
Runtime -99 minutes
Center Ring Entertainment
Severin Films

http://www.saintbernardthemovie.com/

Saint bernard dvd

What does one think when faced with a title that immediately brings to mind a Stephen King adaption? If you know not of what I speak then you should probably leave not (although there is a slim chance, I know not one canine breed from another). Honestly given the promotional materials I was offered it wasn’t the first thing that sprang to mind. The words “…You’re going to like this one, its wild!” and the inclusion of none other than Warwick Davis (Leprechaun, Willow) left me infinitely curious and itching to press play. But as it often does life got in the way and I was unable to jump on this as quickly as I would have liked, however, finally given the chance I made myself comfortable and piled a variety of cavity causing snacks on the couch next to my excitable position.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acIlunmJDUs

Naturally, when a film opens on a ready-to-be-placed-in-the-oven chicken on the precipice of jumping from a plane one might be left a little confused, or only more intrigued depending on their usual viewing habits and/or celluloid penchants. The confusion dissipates a little as the opening credits roll and a concentration on a montage of music sheets, notes and a wall of research. Could this be a criminal affair complete with a search for a serial killer? The credits soon transform into a chase scene where the prey (a figure garbed in a white tux, shoes and bow tie) cradles something, a bloodied bag, he does not want to be taken from him. Then a flash back scene and a narration from the same individual. Apparently, he’s some kind of virtuoso (or at least he believes he is) aided by a mentor of sorts, a figure which appears in more detail as the film nears its climax. A strange dream results in him (a young Bernard, for that’s who the figure is, played by Albert Stietmann) receiving a conductor’s ‘baton’. The boy soon grows into a man and is plagued by visions set to an industrial score, constructs of wood, flashing lights and littered paraphernalia. It gets worse, even the narration states the same. Indeed, it does, and only minutes in the viewer is of the undeniable understanding that this isn’t a film in the traditional sense at all.

not traditional in the slightest

A Commodore 84 – I must have it!

In a following scene an animated out of body experience, during a live orchestrated setting, in which he cannot perform, leads him to find the remains of a Saint Bernard (the head and traditional flask caked in gore) on the side of the highway, a California highway; if this isn’t the first indication of where the remainder of the movie will take the viewer I don’t know what is. And against an audio landscape of “…Bernard, what have you been thinking. You are a disgrace; don’t you know that your actions will follow you the rest of your life.” The viewer is whisked into even more tumultuous waters set against a fantastical setting which brings to mind Terry Gilliam’s Brazil and Time Bandits, but also the wickedly inventive imagination of H.R. Geiger albeit more surreal and mystical in its overall mind-boggling nature.

alarmclock

Wake up and smell the non- linear story line

The film unfolds in a hardly linear way finding our “hero” scrambling his way from out of a church in which he’s thought of as some kind of cash cow by a crippled with debt pastor who appears as though he’s roadied with more than a handful of doom acts in his prime. Further adventures find Bernard, portrayed convincingly by Jason Dugre (in a role which appears designed especially for his acting talents), encountering a trio of former American Presidents scrimmaging in the rain, running through the streets of both California and Paris (this is an international affair. Apparently, bizarre is not a word limited to just the English vocabulary) and traversing the intricate route to a Police station which is secreted more cunningly than the common sense of (insert your choice of current political figure here, and I promised I would keep this site ‘politics free’!).

Nods to several things are apparent as the movie rolls on and commentary on a plethora of subjects are plentiful making this a film to spark debate on a multitude of levels much like a celebrated print and someone’s interpretation upon it.

escape from reality

OK, GPS where am I now?

At one-point Bernard is cut from a wooden construct of his own making A nod to perhaps debt and bogging oneself down with possessions which constrict life’s ultimate movement. As one moves to help with a chainsaw, he can be heard screaming “No!” an utterance of pain leading to a rebirth of sorts.

Inexorably drawn towards a police station, mentioned previously, one that’s rather hard to reach, high up above a scaffold of chains and wires, a precarious construct at best. He finds that as he climbs the scenery changes from dreary to a clear day showcasing his mental stability and abject psychosis.

Once inside he is forced to traverse a ground littered with liquor bottles, walls scattered with debit cards and a plethora of ringed keys everywhere (signifying an abundance of red tape perhaps) and an aid who isn’t the most helpful to get to his ultimate objective; The chief (a Gilliam influenced Orc like creature drowning in wine and cigar ash). The surroundings are, not surprisingly, surreal like a HR Geiger inspired print shop set to a mystical electronic heartbeat powered by madness. Bernard is pulled asunder and back into another pseudo reality in which a road warrior-esque female wishes a carnal encounter. His mind wanders to produce a character whom precedes to grin, then shit itself. Our hero runs to it, like a moth to a flame, and jumps in (and why wouldn’t one honestly) but he’s pulled back. Coitus follows (because running away is the best way to show someone you’re interested) after which he dreams of hair stick figures roaming the streets and a young girl staring at a gore soaked jaw bone trying to get her mother’s attention (who’s in a nearby car struggling against something.)

the cheif

Grab me another bottle!

It gets stranger, and why would it not.

Trying to make a quick Exodus with the St Bernard (head minus the flask and body) our road warrior friend encounters these same hair creatures, is knocked down only to be plowed over by a van, her legs are shattered in an impromptu applaudable FX scene Troma studios would salivate over. The driver stops, notes that’s she’s a stupid bitch, comments on this incident in relation to his driving record then exits his vehicle. Ironically, he has no legs either (history tends to repeat itself, whatever that means) and He proceeds to pour salt (from a huge industrial-sized bag) on her “wounds”.

Warwick Davies in st bernard

Let me tell you about “Wood”!

For all those eagerly anticipating the entrance of the figure I mentioned earlier. Warwick Davies makes his cameo when one would assume the movie could not get any easier to understand (surely, I jest?). Clambering over a mountain of wood he asks an exhausted, intrepid, Bernard “what did you want to be?” A period of hypnosis brings about a vision, and a statement “That should about do it!” And his part in the movie is through.

 

The following scenes find our intrepid traveler pass by a doorway of sorts, a decision his fractured mind must take, a Rubix construct on one side a gnarled trunk on the other. His decision leads him to a scene which showcases a past enveloped in sexual abuse and perhaps the reason why Bernard’s mind is scrambled the way it is (you want cheese with those eggs?) Enter uncle Ed, played by Jack Doroshow, it isn’t enough that he looks like the guy from the Six Flags Commercials he acts in an ‘eccentric’ demeanor also.

Of the many thing that he states, mostly riddles and enigmatic quips, one in particular stands out “…Like spray painting sand on a crowded beach, it may look good, but nobody notices. I notice!” And Bernard has finally found solace. But it soon turns sour and restraining from offering spoilers this scene climaxes in a mechanical creation reminiscent of the ‘Jabberwocky’ (an ultra-hard to locate film that predates Monty Python celluloid though has the very same sensibilities) mixed with a werewolf wrapped in pipes, bronze and musical instruments and a sudden dip in still waters which bring about a sudden realization.

St Bernard uncle Ed

Practice until your fingers bleed

This is where this opus finds its completion. And if you’re anything like myself the whole experience has been one akin to that of a tuning fork (or a BBQ fork, it doesn’t matter!) shoved into the grey matter only then to be twisted, pulled out and then repeated in a similar fashion several times over. I guess what I’m trying to portray is that Saint Bernard is a multitude of words which all convey much the same thing, it’s odd, bizarre, strange but most of all it is high-energy and entrancing. I couldn’t look away, I needed to know where Bernard was headed next, where this journey would lead him/me (as a viewer) and what landscape of ingenuity would unfold before my eyes next.

eraserhead

Who can forget?

With the style of the film in mind the filmmakers special thanks to Frank Henselotter (of Basketcase and Brain Damage fame) should come as no great shock although the films similarities to the works of Terry Gilliam (in which fantasy, surreal nature, symbolism and social commentary exist side by side) and both Street Trash (on account of its ‘seedier side of the city’ and various other non-Yelp recommended locations) and David Lynch’s (1977) Eraserhead (for obvious reasons) cannot be ignored.

 

Applaudable too, is the fact that the design and sculpture elements were handled by Gabriel Bartalos (the films writer and director) so it’s safe to say that his true vision (or visions, depending on what he might/or might not have been consuming at the time) was followed through. It should come as no great surprise that his creative ability (alongside Atlantic West Effects) has been featured in a slew of other films, included but not limited to special credits in Gremlins 2, Darkman, Dolls and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre part 2 (often listed as Gabe Bartalos). At present he has only one other directing credit; Skinned Deep (2004).

Severin films St bernard

In conclusion, if you’re up for a spot of celluloid which is far from the normal and films of this nature are commonplace in your collective by all means give this a view, otherwise know this going in; shit is going to get weird and it gets ‘wilder’ than even that!

You have been warned!

 

Cult

Fun facts; Saint Bernard was originally shown to the public on 26 October 2013, in Spain, at the San Sebastian Horror and Fantasy Film Festival. The Damned (an English rock/punk band) make an appearance and ad to the films musical credits.

saintbernardbundle

Severin Films offered a pre-order bundle to go along with the world wide release of the film (May/14.2019) and also offer the film alongside a myriad of other cult gems, long thought pout of print, or lost forever, for sale.

Scorching the Retinas – The Best of British

The League of Gentlemen’s Apocalypse (2005)

british flag

(United Kingdom/ Ireland/USA)

Director – Steve Bendelack

Writers – Jeremy Dyson, Mark Gatiss, Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith

Runtime – 88 minutes

Universal Pictures

FilmFour

Tiger Aspect Productions

Umbrella Entertainment

the league of gentlemen apocalypse posterThe town of Royston Vasey is a place you wouldn’t really wish to spend much time in, let’s be honest. It’s not a tourist trap but rather a location which shouldn’t be celebrated on any map. Suffice it to say let’s hope that you don’t one day stumble across it in hopes to repair a flat tire, or in dire need of directions or even a light snack. It would revel in not being able to provide any of those but rather an air of ‘you don’t belong’ that’s palpable.
  In all honesty, the small town, if you can even call it that, is a figment (a rather successful one at that!) of a collective of writers minds. And get this, it isn’t ready to die…just yet!
For those not familiar with the long-running series’ cavalcade of characters, it’s been a while for me, the film thankfully introduces them in short fashion. The disgraced butcher (whose meats originate from questionable sources), the European Herr Lipp (whose double entendre’ dialogue might scare even the most seasoned of counselor), the zoo staff who are woefully inadequate at their professions), a transsexual taxi driver who boasts a zero filter and others which make up a hamlet nestled someplace in Northern England which appears as though it might, one day, make for a great place to visit.
royston vasey
An early scene including an electrical current anal simulator slathered with enough lube to pass a Double-Decker bus through the eye of a needle, a giraffe, a small sample cup, a sudden lightning storm and an audience of assorted geriatrics in wheelchairs provides an explosion of laughter resulting in fits and a tableau I wouldn’t wish my worst enemy to clean up regardless of the fact that he/she might have the worlds most powerful pressure washer close at hand.
a pressuer washer.jpg

This is a pressure washer, and probably not the picture of an excited Giraffe you might have been expecting.

Apparently all has been foretold, Ill omens are at hand and the same storm, as mentioned above, is bringing with it a portent of doom which has been scribbled upon the walls of the basement (the catacombs) of the local church.
A door leads to reality (doesn’t it always?) and a collective of colorful folks find their way through said door in hopes to find their creators perchance to have them cease their closing the chapter on, their home, Royston Vasey for good.
It doesn’t take long for our heroes (they really aren’t) to find their creators. Following a little camouflage action and a few clever moments they have one (Steve Pemberton) tied up like a turkey pre-Thanksgiving feast. He admit’s it’s been ten years and they need a break but it isn’t what needs to be heard.
Herr Lipp (“the world’s worst pun”) switches places with he who portrays him, to keep the characters scheme and dreams alive, until the moment when all three (The League of Gentlemen) can be corralled and shown the errors of their ways.
leagueofgentlemen-1

Karma is a bitch

A film within a film scenario unfolds that which the Royston Vasey creators are currently working on. A medieval affair shot through with assassination plots, underworld dealings and a guest appearance from none other than Evil (David Warner) from Time Bandits, and the use of Simon Pegg’s bottom utilized as a manuscript holder.

Geoff decides to insert himself in the manuscript, instead of deleting it, and for a while enjoys all that us offered his position of assassination thwarter/champion but his position opens a whole new can of worms as another universe prepares to collide with ‘reality’.

jeff gets an owwie

Something like this minus the costumes perhaps?

Imagine what might happen if the fiction spawned from your own scribblings actually existed. This film explores the possibilities brilliantly and offers the author the chance to stand up to their own actions.
Enter the literal meaning of the word ‘Humoculous’ a spot of claymation, an unexpected head explosion, arms waved around in flamboyant invoking gestures, a bunch of fireballs and a myriad of ideas to incite a script for a League of Gentlemen movie and the films climax looms.
But when all seems kaput, a twist, a truckload of double entendre’s and a change of heart.
Will I ruin it, nope. Will I continue to spill diarrhea-esque ponderings from fingertips onto a keyboard demanding the loving caress of a wet wipe? That’s a gimme.
Did this meet my expectations following years of searching? I can answer that question without giving spoilers and I shall…
the humoculous

Hey Harry, this is a ‘Humoculous’.

In short, it’s hard to capture the true essence of a series within a film, although many have tried. With this in mind I would suggest taking a few days out to binge in the true essence, quirkiness and bizarre nature this series offers before watching this, if at all able to. Admittedly, it’s been a while since any part of the series have flashed across my retinas. Apocalypse brought it all back. Obviously not all, as my memory is riddled with gaping voids but enough to put the urge within the part of my being that deals with curiosity to make me want to visit the series again.
There are many standout scenes, the ones in which the creators come face to face with their creations is priceless. It goes without mentioning that David, Evil, Warner steals every scene he’s in. The film also boasts a great deal of other cameos, including but not limited to Liam Cunningham as a casting director.
The film manages to laugh at itself, the industry and gives a myriad of nods to other films  often without mentioning specific titles (at times it does).
doom-evil-dead-1

And all on the eve of a big announcement too

The Evil Dead?

-Not seen it.
That bit where the twigs go up her fanny. It’s brilliant!

All the while showcasing a myriad of characters which are delirious stereotypes, characterizations and wicked send ups of people we probably already know. Obviously this film isn’t for everyone, there are those who will find insult from the portrayals in this film, but isn’t there always. This isn’t a thriller, it isn’t a horror, its not a fantasy, and it isn’t an epic costume drama though it bears elements of each and often in instances one might not be able to predict (a head explosion; Scanners. Anyone?)

the-league-of-gentlemen-980x900
The characters are often wildly over the top, odd, eccentric and unfiltered (they’re written that way) but that’s what makes this fun. The direction is better than I imagined it would be and the story line more intricate, though still remains easy to follow, than I was imagining. But best of all it makes me proud to say LoG has an aura, an unmistakable charm that’s decidedly British, a humor, a presence which separates it from that which may also passed across the retinas in recent weeks. It’s different, it’s odd, bizarre even, but it’s wholly enjoyable and most of all…it was worth the wait.
Cult
Sidenote; half of the writing/creative team have gone on to write and produce another British series that’s continuing to garner rave reviews entitled Inside No. 9. (running 2014 through 2018). 

Scorching the Retinas – Special Edition

Puppets, Cannibals and a Little Crimson for Christmas

Aka;

Inviting a Burnt Faced Gent over for a Spot of Christmas Stuffing

Cannibal_Holocaust_poster

Cannibal Holocaust (1980)
Director – Ruggero Deodata
“The Mother of all Cannibal Movies”

Unbeknownst to many cinematic attendees is that the Cannibal film genre has been in existence way before the movie mentioned above was ever released, decades preceding the more recent addition from Eli Roth entitled Green Inferno which could well have topped the same lists which many others from the same genre frequented. In essence a collection of titles deemed highly irregular, indecent and obscene (a fantastic early Dismember album if you have yet to place the audio betwix the ears) by authorities warranting their removal from the public’s view. I am of course referring to the notorious ‘Video Nasty’ scene circa 1984, although most of the films in this genre and on the list (sometimes primarily because of its inclusion) can also proudly boast that they are banned in more countries than I can name and sport more truncated versions than can be counted on both hands, and in some instances feet.

(trailer courtesy of fuckyourmudha)

Around the time that most were marveling at the introduction of an alien-looking colorful puzzling cube by name of ‘Rubix’ and tearing ‘Stretch Armstrong’ to his absolute limits. Others were left slack jawed by the US ice hockey team destroying their rivals, the Russians, in the Winter Olympics. Whilst the world was introduced to another entry in the Star Wars franchise a small percentage of folks chose instead to have their senses obliterated by that which is considered “the Citizen Kane of Cannibal films”.

Cannibal Holocaust was initially released in Milan (Italy) on the seventh of February 1980. In weeks following it was seized by the country’s authorities. However, before it’s seizure it had grossed enough in Japan to become the second highest grossing feature in history next to (a film it will never feature in a double bill with) Spielberg’s ET.

Cannibal-Holocaust Japanese poster

Cannibal Holocaust was the entry that topped the seething rivalry between two filmmakers. The finish line both headed towards, at full speed with utter disregard for decency, a feature that shocks and leaves an impression above all others. In effect a continuance and improvement upon the “Shockumentary” genre originating with 1960’s Mondo Cane and 1966’s Africa Addio. This race/rivalry commenced with Umberto Lenzi’s 1972 Man from Deep River. In 1977 Ruggero Deodata unleashed his take on the genre with Last Cannibal World. Thought to be the precursor to Ruggero’s masterpiece (C.H) ironically, it was originally supposed to have been directed by Lenzi. Eaten Alive was Lenzi’s answer released in 1980 and although completed before Cannibal Holocaust the title had already been claimed and the race won. Umberto Lenzi’s last ditch effort Cannibal Ferox (1981) showcasing an unflinchingly vivid emasculation scene featuring City of the Living Dead’s John Morghen (Giovanni Lombardo Radice sporting a more ‘American’ moniker) still managed to turn heads and rile censors into a froth laden frenzy but it was too late the fans already had a champion and Ruggero was nestled comfortably atop the throne.

Ruggero added to the genre in 1985 with a film containing more of a thriller slant on the genre entitled Cut and Run.

Laura Gemser promo

Nice…uhh..skull.

Naturally, during this time another well-known director, famous for titles such as Anthropophagus the Beast (aka Grim Reaper) and Beyond the Darkness among a huge list of others, also staked a claim. But it fell short. The entry another adding to his sexploitative Black Emmanuel series entitled Emannuelle and the Last Cannibals (1977) also starred genre favorite Laura Gemser.

 

As well as being hailed worldwide as the controversial creation Cannibal Holocaust undoubtably is, for a myriad of reasons, it is also raising awareness and discussion in other arenas of filmmaking. Arguably one of the first to successfully feature a “found footage” perspective it was, however, not the pioneer. Pete Watkins’ Punishment Park used the technique near ten years before to great success. Hotly contested is that The Blair Witch Project was the first to do so, contrary to popular and ignorant belief, as it was made many years after both.

In regard to the film itself (please excuse me I got carried away in my introduction) it depicts footage filmed by a group of filmmaker’s intent on making the ultimate, unforgettable, documentary. Following other attempts at the same, most notably a vivid documentary of sorts entitled ‘The Last Road to Hell’ they employ the same dubious techniques to garner the required response to better elevate their careers on the premise of “Today, people want sensationalism. The more you rape their senses, the happier they are.” As voiced by a studio exec character later in the film itself.

cannibal-holocaust-screenshot-

The film crew

As it happens these very same filmmakers, Alan Yates, Faye Daniels and Jack and Martin the cameramen, never return to promote their findings to any interested studio. Therefore, after much deliberation an NYU Professor and a hired guide dive deep into the Amazon in search of the four. After finding their trail and successfully bartering for the ‘lost reels’ he returns to offer up the material for studio perusal.

Cannibal_Holocaust_Crew

Marshmallows, anyone?

Following a short trek into the jungle including various shenanigans and boisterous tomfoolery, which effectively displays the attitudes of the film crew, two tribes, the Yacumo and the Shamatari are introduced (both portrayed by actual indigenous peoples). Within no time whatsoever our intrepid film-makers go to work and use whatever advantage they can to make it appear as if life in this area of the Amazon is more precarious and barbaric than any would ever assume. Naturally they manage to capture on film various traditional ritualistic punishments (the Professor who chooses to follow their trail witnesses firsthand an adulteress’s divine punishment) obviously viewed as unfathomably archaic and barbaric to those not familiar with the traditions and culture of the people themselves. They embellish upon other instances and manage to formulate other scenarios to receive a required effect to keep those ignorant in thrall. In one instance the crew capture and immolate a large portion of a tribe in a hut. Jack can be heard yelling “It’s beautiful” above the cries of those trapped. Later they capture, and gang rape a lone female. In the following scenes she becomes an integral part of an iconic impalement image that is known the world over as one that needs no accompanying words to make people think of this film. The film draws to a climax with the tribes combined realization that the film crew’s intentions are misguided and their presence toxic. The crew becomes systematically hunted and you can draw your own conclusions as to the finale as I shan’t ruin it.

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Filmed primarily outside Leticia, Colombia, near the Brazilian border is what gives Cannibal Holocaust both a realism and authenticity that only adds to its viewing experience, a rarity in the genre as opposed to the plethora of others merely attempting the illusion of being also set in the ‘Green Inferno’ (more often referred to as the Amazon) some of which actually filmed continents removed in Sri Lanka.

Other elements that add to its weight and believe-ability is its utilization of indigenous peoples as ‘natives’ and the great use of the locale’s scenery, landscape and various shots of varied wildlife in the area, including but not limited to chattering monkeys, a hungry looking Cayman and an anaconda.

cannibalholocaust controversy

Amazon Sushi..?

Naturally one can’t think of this film without thinking also of the controversy that surrounds it. Choice on screen action includes rape, murder, cannibalism (duh!) and an assortment of violence so vivid Mary Whitehouse would roll over in her grave. The characters portraying the film crew were asked by the director to disappear for a few years to add intrigue and weight to the whole film crew lost in the jungle premise. However, on demand he produced the actors to prove that in fact that the film was merely that, a film, and not real to suppress further legal wrangling’s, three years of which put his career on hold following this film’s release.

In another such area are its unflinching scenes depicting animal cruelty. Scenes which include the gutting of a muskrat, the evisceration of a turtle, the braining of a monkey and the shooting of a (pet?) pig/boar. Not to mention the dismemberment of a spider and a slicing up of a snake. In defense the film’s director stated that all animals killed during the films production were consumed by its cast and crew. I only wonder if they tasted half as bad as the gruel which the Professor was obliged to sample. A scene which obviously tossed this fanboy back to an early work by Peter Jackson whereupon a community vomit bowl is passed around and enjoyed by everyone in attendance. “Yum! I got a chunky bit”.

CannibalHolocaust Soundtrack

A hauntingly beautiful score by Riz Ortolani whose orchestral brilliance is also featured in such genre standouts as Mondo Cane (1960) and Lucio Fulci’s Don’t Torture a Duckling (as well hundreds of other places) makes certain areas of the film especially stand out. The juxtaposition of barbarity set against melodies with no wicked intent whatsoever makes a huge impact. Synth/electronic audio is also present and highly effective in raising tension levels when necessary.

Naturally, I would be amiss in not mentioning this films effects and gore content. Obviously. any fan has seen better (this film is now close to forty years young) but what makes this film so effective and mesmerizing are the situations depicted. Seriously who wants to be stranded in a jungle where every step could mean life or death with a population whose dialect and customs are mysterious at best. The found footage camera techniques only add to its overall foreign aura and its claustrophobic feelings of desperation, desolation and frustration. With that in mind however the effects are plentiful and are unflinching displayed. There is a butcher’s shop full of intestines, enough skeletons to give Ray Harryhausen a coronary and unfathomably plentiful corpse chomping scenes on offer to give a gaggle (is this a collective of…) of vegetarians a cause to erect a suitably sized vomitorium.

The rawness of the violence is an element that makes an impression and the film so impactful on the senses. Witnessing a group of mature (Whoops. I nearly said “old”) ladies behead and disembowel a struggling younger female is especially retina scorching. Personally, however, it’s the scene that depicts an excruciatingly slow medieval-esque dissection of a body that scars my cortex the most. However, you wish to slice it and whatever your thoughts there’s no denying that this slice of celluloid is undeniably damaging and ferociously unforgettable even close to some forty years after its release.

Cannibal holocaust facts

There’s no denying that Cannibal Holocaust, much like a Disney family-oriented film has morals and leaves the viewer with something to think upon after its credits are through, something along the lines of who’s the real savage in its instance. But honestly, does anyone watch a film like this to reflect on their humanity or is it an experience to test the limits of the psyche and the gag reflex. I know which camp I’m in. Whatever side of the fence you reside I recommend seeking this jaded gem out whenever possible.

 

Meet the Feebles (1989)
“From the director of Bad Taste comes a film with no taste at all”
Director – Peter Jackson

Meet the feebles dvd cover art germany

In December of 1989 Peter Jackson shocked cinematic moviegoers and the Henson family (allegedly) by releasing what many, even to this day, still deem vulgar, obscene and highly irregular. So, what was all the fuss about and why might the Henson clan be concerned? In a nutshell Meet the Feebles is a parody of, and in part (ha-ha) a loving homage to, a show that’s been gracing television sets since 1959. It’s safe to assume that your parents also enjoyed it in their ‘jamis’ also.

The Muppets unlike the aforementioned promotes family values, friendship and morals whereas Meet the Feebles tells it how it is, warts and all. And chooses to explore the back stories of the characters involved and documents what really might be happening behind the curtains of a variety show… It isn’t pretty.

(trailer courtesy of N.B.)

Before I continue, I’d like to point out that much like in the celebrated Henson Muppet universe (be it in the series or the movie spinoffs) all the creatures here represent animals, with a wide variety on display. With that in mind however I’ve always wondered what ‘Animal’, ‘Gonzo’ and ‘Beaker” are supposed to be. Meet the Feebles makes it a little easier by displaying each character closer to actual scale (to the animal they appear to be) and often true to what many might perceive the animal’s particular personalities to be.

Bovine

Do Cows like SnM antics?

In brief, the storyline revolves around the production of the show but more specifically the trials and tribulations of several of its main characters as the show starts to firm as a cohesive unit.

Robert, the hedgehog, is a shy type (true to form) who is about to commence his new career as a part of the Feeble Variety hour.

Heidi, the hippo, is the shows main star but predictably has gluttony issues and an incessant nudging suspicion that Bletch (a walrus, her lover and the producer/owner of the cabaret) has plans to replace her role in favor of someone younger.

Harry, the Hare, lends a comedic element to the show but much like his ilk he also suffers from an uncontrollable ailment. He likes to “party” without regard for the ramifications, or his health.

Harry the hare

Here’s…Harry!

Finally, there’s Bletch. Much like any kingpin He has his fingers in many unsavory pies, ranging from a deviant cow (who goes by the title of Madame Bovine) and her filmed XXX antics shot in the basement directed by Trevor (the rat) to nose candy dealings with an anarchistic Scottish warthog. But let us not forget his penchant for helping rising stars, be it through under the table shenanigans or impromptu auditions.

Naturally many other characters make the story weave the way of a rich tapestry draped in filth, bodily fluids and carnality. The film bursts with many memorable scenes that will swim around in the cortex for a considerable time after viewing. And I can even mention a few without spoiling the story. For example, Sebastian the Foxes final musical curtain call; the Sodomy extravaganza, the results of Sid the Elephants paternity test, Chuck the Frogs Vietnam flashbacks and F.W. Fly’s gutter press antics. Although everything pales in comparison to the films finale which features Heidi brandishing an Uzi, a grudge and apparently limitless ammunition.

Heidi with an Uzi

“Say hello to my little friend”

It doesn’t sound that horrific, right? After all its only puppets. How bad could it possibly be? Well if the thought of a cow cavorting with a cockroach doesn’t make you squirm then perhaps Trevor slipping Lucille a “mickey” in order to get into her feline drawers might (makes one think that he might have be based on a younger Cosby). Perhaps the sight of an anteater’s nasal cavities dissolving from snorting more than merely the chorus girls unwashed knickers might do the trick? Then there’s FW the fly chomping down and commenting on the contents of an unflushed toilet. The list goes on and on and I don’t wish to spoil the fun though I’ll guarantee that the antics herein will quickly makes you forget about the costumes, the people inside, or those operating them.

With Meet the Feebles Peter Jackson and assorted cast and crew have delivered not just an ideal follow up to Bad Taste (in its own right  a classic of the low to zero budget splatter genre) but also a movie that stomps on all of the rehash attempts on the premise of how much a puppet movie can shock and how far can it stretch the envelope of decency. Team America World Police, The Happytime Murders and even the underrated French cult gem Marquis (I won’t even mention the experimental XXX fest Let my Puppets Come as it still remains largely unseen) come nowhere close to the grounds this movie explored (then ‘marked’ in obnoxious animal kingdom fashion) Hard to fathom that it’s fast approaching it’s thirtieth year anniversary. This is the real deal folks and is certainly not for the easily offended, family viewing or community movie night at the nearest Bingo hall.

MeetTheFeebles1.0

…Vicks Vap’o’rub?

Meet the Feebles will stick with the viewer for a long time after viewing, in short (as if my deliberation wasn’t enough) it’s bizarre, atrocious, grotesque and if you’re anything like the author so darkly humorous it’ll leave a smirk on your chops for several days to come.

 

Saint Nick (2011)
“Santa’s come to Slay”
Director – Dick Maas

Saint_Nick

Before I begin, I’d like to impart a spot of trivia before the eyes.

Sinterklaas (Sint Nicolaas), on whom this film is based, is the patron saint of children, often thought to be sailors, in Dutch legend. Parts of this legend are thought derived of Nordic/pagan origin as there are many similarities to Odin, who also rode a white horse by the same name, Sleipnir. Sinterklaas gave out chocolate letters as opposed to rune letters and carried a staff with black (face painted) helpers, which wouldn’t be received at all well today given modern day attitudes, whereas Odin had a spear and the help of black ravens (with minimal hint of racial connotations).

chocolate face for all

Chocolate Face for all!

During the Reformation (16th and 17th Century) Protestant reformers changed the date of this festival from the 5th to the 25th (of December) wanting to abolish the cult of Saints and Saint adoration. Although in the last century the gift giving tradition on the fifth has seen somewhat of a resurgence, especially in The Netherlands, due to the greedy, grasping hands, of the retail industry (think Valentine’s Day) and, it is believed, a book written around 1850 entitled ‘Saint Nicholas and his Servant’. Heavily inspired by Spanish customs whereupon Sinterklaas arrived by steamboat and was accompanied by ‘mock’ devils known as (Zwarte Piet) ‘Black Peters’ due to their supposed African origins.

Saintnick fighting the villagers

I will thrust you asunder with my stick of peppermint flavoring

It should come as no surprise therefore that his appearance, the white beard, red cloaked get-up and dependence on a naughty or nice list later transpired into what is today known as Santa Claus (and it appears the ‘devils’ transformed in vertically challenged folk with a penchant for sculpting toys). Our sleigh riding, gift courier is, let’s be honest here, a little less menacing in appearance, although for some reason the characters adoration of enclosed spaces often filled with soot and smoke still remains.

(trailer courtesy of Movieclips)

Naturally, Dick Mass’es (a most unfortunate name better suited to an adult film star in my opinion) feature embellishes upon certain parts of the myth and liberally injects creative license to pluck it from the realms of child appropriate bedtime story fare.

inappropriate bedtime stories

A classic example of bedtime fare which might not ‘pass’ these days

Saint Nick commences several hundred years ago in 1492 on December 5th and quickly introduces the crimson robed one and his entourage. Following a short visit to the nearest village filled with nefarious shenanigans he returns to his ship, leaving the villagers scorned. They band together, revolt against his degree and decide it best that Nicks water faring craft would look a damn sight better if it were emblazoned with flames, mountains of melting flesh and a screaming in agony motif. In the process of putting this to celluloid the film makers give hints as to how the film might progress choosing not to shy away from displaying brutal impalements, copious stabbings and a priceless scene that incorporates a much-underused utilization of a household gardening implement.

Flash forward several hundred years, to the 1960’s. a small family is terrorized then slaughtered by a collective of mysterious assailants. The children are dragged up the chimney, the eyes are plucked from the Mother and the Father is turned to mush while enjoying a game show. This act serves as a fantastic introduction, imparting the myth (that if a full moon appears on December 5th, it happens roughly every 42 years, Saint Nick and his entourage will tear their way through the surrounding countryside’s youth) and its accompanying curse upon the viewer in modern times employing effective atmosphere to get the point across and well-wrought tension to keep the attention.

The scene ends with a screaming youth and the viewer is transformed to present day Amsterdam.

In this act the main characters are a collective of College attendees. A classroom setting shows them as especially boisterous and typically lust driven. The film continues with more than the occasional reference to joints, parties, cheating on partners and Saint Nick day festivities. Strangely enough these characters, even thus far in, have a relatable quality to them in part based on their family surroundings, some are even likable perhaps warranting some viewers to root for their ultimate survival.

jackfrost

There be no pictures of kids at play in my scribbles.

The scene transforms to introduce a police station and an officer who seems particularly frustrated. After only a short while he’s seen executing (yes, executing) a wrapped gift which lands him a month-long suspension. It’s soon discovered that he was the hysterical lad from the second act who still bears quite understandable misgivings and doubts about the seasons festivities to warrant, via a thick bold typed printout, it be cancelled.

The film rolls on at a pleasing pace and as one might expect ‘Saint Nick’, and his band of merry face painted helpers make an appearance and terrorizes the town. Our characters become intertwined in the narrative and the Authorities, much as they do in most genre films, mess things up adding to the features narrative, characters frustration and the ease of which the films antagonist adds to the films body count. That in short, without supplying spoilers is how the remainder of this feature goes.

SAINT Nicks ride

Just give me some carrots and a city full of rooftops to gallop upon and I’ll be happy

Draped in humor the films style harkens back to a cult classic made around the same time entitled Dead Snow. When the action finds it’s pace the second, Dead Snow 2, in the franchise comes to mind, as too in part the Friday the 13th franchise. The death scenes are brutal, excellently crafted, often slathered in gallows humor, appreciatively plentiful and let’s not forget that hordes of ferocious unmerciful types (let’s call them zombies for arguments sake) attack a myriad of unsuspecting villagers. There’s even a standout scene in which blunt force trauma is administered by way of a Porsche.

Other influences also come to mind, including but not limited to, atmospheric Hammer cinematic affairs and even (closer to the films climax) a nod to Joe D’Amato’s Anthropophagus the Beast (this film pops up everywhere) married with a vivid scene from John Landis’ An American Werewolf in London.

krueger who

Krueger, who?

Saint Nick himself might remind some of Freddy Krueger as he sports a similar third-degree burn, melted features, visage. Although strangely, it is often his burnt flesh smell that gives him away even some 500 years after the impromptu floating Catholic BarBQ event which he was so prominently featured in.

As the movie plays out a variety of other nods to classics within the genre come to mind. John Carpenters The Fog chiefly among them by way of the atmosphere and obviously the fog itself attributed to scenes set on boats in the middle of nowhere Ville.

Another scene which makes an impression is one in which a patrol boat gets plowed through by Saint Nicks vintage ‘ride’, the initial sight of which might prompt recollections of the ship in the Goonies or Johnny Depp as Capn’ Jack Sparrow (in a movie franchise that freally doesn’t need mentioning at this point) stumbling around whilst knocking back another swig of potent dark liquid. The soundtrack is a great addition adding depth to scenes and tension to others when needed although at times it appears more a fantasy score to an RPG platform-based adventure.

champions of norath

My favorite Playstation 2 RPG (in case you were curious)

Saint Nick is especially poignant around this season (this was originally composed around the Holiday season) as most parents would agree that the idea of having their brats punished for being naughty throughout the year sounds like a great idea (although they might hate to admit it). Obviously Saint Nick takes this premise and blows it wildly out of proportion (in effect making this a film to place in the guilty pleasures file) thankfully it chooses not to dwell on scenes having to do with the death of youth opting instead to concentrate on those resulting from the chase of said antagonist and his enigmatic, carnage fueled, black faced entourage. Scenes which are unique in and of themselves. Seriously, where else might you witness a horse with costumed rider racing across rooftops? Let alone a priceless moment in which a ‘dead’ horse falls atop a police cruiser moments after its occupants look at each other in abject disbelief and puzzlement as to where Saint Nick could have gone, when shortly before he was seen on horseback easily traversing the neighborhoods highest tiled peaks.

saint-nick-riding-in-on-a-horse

Whimper and I’ll put you in a bag!

It’s hard not to crack a smile throughout the close to ninety-minute view. In one instance a police scanner spurts “Suspect – long white beard and red robe” a statement that invokes complexities especially based on the season at hand. An assortment of characters adds to the experience and offer everything from an inexperienced sexually driven youth through conspiracy theorists and a mob enforcer type and mute historical great-with-a-hooked-staff villain complete with an army of mindless “zombie” thugs.

Other moments come by way of the use of subtitles, intentional or not, I couldn’t help but chuckle when the word “Ah” passed before my eyes as a character grunted in pain using the exact same sound, but in Dutch (huh!?).

Saint Nick is many things but most of all it hits the nail on the head in regarding the festivities themselves. “Getting presents can be fun, but you always end up with crap you don’t need.” About sums up this traditional holiday in my opinion, although I would be ecstatic if I opened unspecified designed wrapping paper to find this feature enclosed.

Xmas sucks

In between appearances in several prominent doom outfits Santa is also the worlds most outspoken advocate of the Holidays

Saint Nick, like most franchise slasher affairs, is left open to the possibility of a sequel. I only wonder if it’s to be set in Space, in the medieval times or with the addition of a hurricane featuring a plethora of famished water breathing mammals whose origins date back to prehistoric times. Either way, Saint Nick was a pleasurable viewing experience, a ton of fun, isn’t to be taken too seriously and is therefore recommended for those, like myself, who enjoy their horror laced with humor and plentiful effects.

dickmaas_bd_releases

Dick Mass also directed Amsterdamned (1986), The Lift (1983) and Prey (2016) if you’re wont to seek out some of his other similar themed genre works.

 

Cult