Tag Archives: Video Nasty

Showing at the Watershed: Berberian Sound Studio

In the realm of modern popular cinema the expectation is that the craft remains for the most part seamless. The editing should not be distracting, the cinematography should not be too self-conscious, the score should not be too overbearing. Where these lines are drawn is the cut and thrust of film criticism itself, and one person’s subtlety is another’s frying-pan to the head. When a film comes along that tugs at these very seams, and indeed starts pulling them apart, critics very easily, and not unjustifiably go into fits of ecstatic praise.

Some British critics are going absolutely wild for Berberian Sound Studio. In part this is because Berberian is a demonstration of how intricately sound can be woven into a picture, and having established this fundament the film quite merrily pulls it apart stitch by meticulous stitch. Knowing as this process is, the manner of this rather brutal deconstruction makes for a really compelling film.

A 1970s period piece set in the titular Italian sound studio, the fastidious British sound engineer Gilderoy is shipped over to help record the soundtrack to a brutal yet perennially unseen Italian horror film. When the sound effect artists are suddenly taken ill, it is poor Gilderoy who has to step away from the mixing desk, and into the role of hardcore vegetable mutilator. Plump marrows dropped from great heights; heads of cabbage given the slasher treatment; whole watermelons tenderized to pulp; radishes torn stalk from head, all towards recreating the symphony of agonies bestowed variously upon set upon schoolgirls, and tortured witches alike.

The sonic body horror is one part of the chorus, and a rotating gallery of vocal talents are drawn in to scream their lungs out, or merely to supply the inhuman howls and cackles of the fiends which haunt the film we’re still forbidden to see. Add to this mix the lilting creep of synthesisers, and the manually looped and manipulated samples of music and noise, and resulting score is just as frenetic and souped up as you’d expect of a 1970s Italian horror film. Gilderoy is a consummate master of his craft, and in Toby Jones‘ strikingly careful performance can be found a quiet joy in just watching him tinker, manipulate and layer all the sounds step by step.

In focusing on sound alone Berberian somehow exceeds the fictitious Giallo it’s supposed to be shadowing. It’s neither breathless or lurching in its dramatic shifts; instead it builds up a tense and anxious mood which is never really scary per se, just endlessly uneasy. Which of course is indubitably worse in its own quiet way. Match this with an uncertain narrative arc, a seamless (!) if occasionally disjointing transition between scenes, and a final act which leaves you grasping at every hint of a conclusion, and the sum total is a non-horror film which is quite impishly beguiling in its own right.

While the first flush of the UK release is limited to the larger arthouse cinemas across the country, the alternative option of watching the film ‘on-demand’ instantly via computer can only be recommended for those too far away from an obliging bricks-and-mortar cinema. Like Enter the Void, Berberian Sound Studio thrives on being played in a dark room with a big screen and a LOUD sound system, and a tinny laptop speaker isn’t going to capture the uneasy creaks and synthesised hums which really gives the film its nervous life.

When the big studios are unremitting in promoting 3D as cinema’s last premium-worthy USP, it’s quite telling that one of the last films funded using the UK Film Council’s ‘Low Budget Feature Film Scheme’ can prove how vital the cinema ‘experience’ is, without the need for plastic glasses or condescending adverts.

Four out of Five

Berberian Sound Studio is showing at the Watershed in Bristol for two weeks from the 31st of August 2012.

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Video Nasty #6: Blood Bath

OR: Reazione a catena / A Bay of Blood / A Mansão da Morte / Antefatto – Ecologia del delitto / Bahía de sangre / Banho de Sangue / Bloodbath / Bloodbath Bay of Death / Blutrausch des Teufels / Carnage / Chain Reaction / Chimidoro no irie / Den blodige bugt / E così imparano a fare i cattivi / Ecology of a Crime International / Im Blutrausch des Satans / Kanli körfez / Kravgi tromou /  La baie sanglante / O Sexo na Sua Forma Mais Violenta / O krikos ton eglimaton /  Sfagi sto akrogiali tis idonis / The Antecedent / The Last House on the Left, Part II / To spiti me ta alysidota eglimata / Twitch of the Death Nerve as it was also know. (Inofficially this film reigns supreme as The Nasty with the most alternative titles. A sure sign of the detachment of the creator from the final product, if ever one were needed.)

[Early Sunday morning.
Sat in living room, staring at the TV, eating cereal.
A housemate’s girlfriend comes in, awake long before he is]
“What are you watching?”
“Oh just some half-crappy horror film. Video nasty, banned in the 80’s, and stuff.”
“What’s it about”
“Well, it’s Italian, women run around half naked and get murdered horribly.”
“How so?”
“A bit, well a bit like this”

Gruesome muder in Blood Bath aka Twitch of the Death Nerve

“Oh right”
“And lots of red. Lots and lots of BRIGHT red.”
“Right”
“This isn’t going to end well.”

Another murder from the film Blood Bath aka Twitch of the Death Nerve

“No, oh dear, that’s unfortunate.”
“Well that would spoil anyone’s day, wouldn’t it.”
“Why is it SO red?”
“Possibly because it’s shot on really cheap film stock. Decays very quickly, the colour balance goes a bit crazy. It is pretty colourful, now you mention it.”
“Is there any sort of story to this, or does it just..?”
“An old man and a woman at the beginning, one kills the other, then he dies, something about a will, something about some plans regarding a property development.”
“Oh, hello.”
[A bedroom scene on screen. From the perspective of the murderous voyeur we see the amorous couple get impaled, both at once, with a single spear.]
“Well, that’s symbolic, I suppose.”

Which neatly surmises a horror film which indeed revolves around a land dispute. The more inane the conflict, the more inventive the gore we demand.

In a film offensive enough to spook arch Dracula-himself, Sir Christopher Lee, from the premiere obviously warrants some note, but a sneaking suspicious creeps that maybe he snuck out not for reasons of common decency, but rather out of sheer boredom. The cut, thrust, slash and jab of the film is an incessant butchery of barely established characters for even weaker reasons. The critic might scoff that this is the very core of any ten-penny horror film, but a synopsis does not a film make, and there is scant meat on these very gory bones.

To even a passing viewer, such as the housemate’s other half, the gore is absurd to a point beyond the horrific. It doesn’t even stretch to a level of comedy value, with the result effect being much a kin to seeing someone drop a slice of buttered toast on the floor: ‘Oh dear, what a mess, nevermind…’

Blood Bath, Cephalopods, general ickyness

A single scene of a gangrened corpse being revealed beneath a similarly green tinged octopus was enough to momentarily put me off the Rice Crispies®, but that was more personal shudder than anything else. Not, should it be clear, that I have anything against cephalopods: some of my best friends are cephalopods. It’s just a bit too ick, in a way the rest of the film just isn’t, and more’s the shame for that.

A demented pull-back-and-reveal ending straight out of left-field is buoyed by an equally demented and deliriously upbeat closing number featuring the budget horror film staple I’m growing to love: the demented bongo solo. A cheery conclusion to a dreary dredge of a film. Save yourself some time and take greater excitement and trepidation out of the film’s quite superb original UK VHS cover, than you would in the sum total of the film.

 [The above cover is by way of the superb Video Cultures project, from Birmingham City University. They don’t claim any copyright, they just put it out there. Well done them.]

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The Beyond

A word of advice: never, ever, attempt to eat dinner while watching a Video Nasty.

closeup eyes

That may be the most obvious statement in the world, but up until this point I’d quite happily whiled hours away watching Axe or even the autocannibalistic Anthropophagus while having bolognese, or the occasional pie and chips. The Beyond however, has broken new territory in terms of gore, effectively putting me off the film/food combination for the foreseeable future. The revulsion I felt while trying to have cottage pie during the first ten minutes of this film almost put me clean off Video Nasties all together. Faces covered in acid, melting and bubbling away does not good dinner company make.

sideprofile01Aside from the ridiculously stomach-testing gore, Lucio Fulci’s The Beyond stands out from the morass of films on the DPP list (covered so far) as a rock solid horror in its own right. A passable script which harks back to Lovecraft, a spectrum of decent actors who know how to look terrorized when necessary, and a budget bigger than cost of an average car. Throw in some location shooting in Louisiana, and you have a thoroughly shocking film.  Perhaps most satisfyingly of all, it has a cinematographer who knows how to use his camera, creating shots which give the carnage beyond chucking red paint around. After the flat camera work of The Beast in Heat and the sub-art-school student shooting of Axe, The Beyond proves to be a visual feast.

sideprofile02The premise of a young and successful woman acquiring a haunted hotel in Louisana is pretty workaday in terms of haunted house films. The over-reaching blonde, destined to be terrorised into submission, and eventual victory, blah-di-blah, heard it all before. The Beyond goes one step further by placing the hotel on one of the seven gates to Hell, and consequently hordes of the shuffling dead end up stumbling into disrupt our poor ladies renovation plans. Absurd as it sounds, the premise gives the film a bonafide hellish overtone, mixing unspeakable horrors with the restless damned crawling out of limbo. These are not just corpse-puppets, animated by some obscure Macguffinesque virus, but the product of something larger and far more sinister. It is, quite simply, the tagline of Dawn of the Dead come true: “When there’s no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth”

sideprofile03Following the tremendous success of Zombi II (unofficial sequel to the very same Dawn of the Dead) and City of the Living Dead, Fulci had established his name internationally as a director of top drawer zombie flicks. Wary of being tied to such a narrow niche, Fulci sought to strike out in a new direction of horror with his next film. The first script of The Beyond was initially penned as a straight haunted house film, but under pressure from his zombie-hungry German financers, Fulci was convinced to include zombies to help provide a physical presence of horror. The combination was, and still is, tremendously effective.

The terror of the subjective is explored in full, with the film’s heroine is constanly uncertain of what she is seeing and hearing. An eerie blind young girl and her German Shepherd repeatedly warn Liza away from the hotel, and their warnings might be heeded if they didn’t constantly appear to her in the most dreamlike of sequences. Clinging mist, clipped dialogue and numerous doubletakes lend these sequences a truly uncanny edge. Liza is told that she’s just a figment of her imagination, yet the poor blind girl ends up getting mauled by her own dog. A physical and gruesome end to a weirdly ethereal character.

sideprofile04The gore is really testing, even for the most hardened blood’n’guts fiends. While the sequences leading up to the burst of violence are grippingly shot, the piercing/popping/ripping/bubbling moments in question are unflinching, more often than not in extreme close-up. Is it gratutious? In part yes, but the horror of it all has such an impact that it cannot be dispelled as frivolous. One sequence of a man’s face getting ripped to shreds by massive (dummy) spiders is particularly hard to shake off, and I’m not even that much of an arachnophobe.

The last ten minutes of the film turns into a slightly ridiculous rollercoaster, lurching from the hotel, to an explosive yet straight-laced zombie shoot-out in the hospital, to a bizarre relocation back to the underbelly of the hotel again. Before your head’s had a chance to stop spinning Liza and her last minute knight in shining armour have stumbled into the underworld. Stunned by the unspeakable and unseen ‘things’ they witness, the film ends with them blinded, glaring horrified back at the camera. A brilliant Lovecraftian flourish to end on, and a bleak and satsifying end to a brilliant horror film.

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Steven Seagal Gallery o’ Shame II

Urban Justice montage(From l to r: details from the covers to Urban Justice, Region 3 and Region 1  respectively.)

Watching a low budget action film is a lot like playing spot the difference. The game of spying the be-wigged stunt doubles when the camera cuts to a reverse angle; the mismatched profiles, the oblique body language of a man waiting to throw himself through a door. It’s brilliant. Seagal of course takes it to another level, with his unique stature he is an instantly recognisable action star who none the less doggedly refuses to do any actual action. Which makes life hard for the casting director, as there aren’t many stunt doubles taller than 6’4″ with pony tail and 7th Dan Aikido skills. That is after all what made Seagal unique in the first place. Maybe the contrast between him and stunt double is his way of underscoring just how bloody unique he is.

With Seagal this statement of identity continues on the covers of his neverending stream of direct-to-dvd output. The above comparison plays on a level of uncanniness, a certain unheimliche in being similar yet obliquely different. This isn’t just thanks to the ungodly sight of Danny (I’veseenhimbefore) Trejo winking between the two profiles. No, the image is mirrored in all but Seagal’s face. I know he almost transcends the fact that a human face cannot be completely symmetrical, but no, body mirrored, head the same. Or correction: body-mirrored, face and shirt-collar the same. Or is it? I have no idea what’s going on there…

Looking at the Mojo Priest’s crotch (steady now), I guess we could divine that the cover on the left is accurate as it has the fly stitched in a conventional fashion. Yet to my eyes then the cover on the right looks more normal. Maybe Seagal just flies in the face of ‘conventional fashion’ and gets his jeans stitched another way. The Mojo way perhaps.

But is he left or right handed? Can we determine which profile is accurate from that fact? The internet draws a blank on that one, maybe some other direct-to-dvd covers might hold an answer –

mercenary for justice montage1(From l to r: Mercenary For Justice, Czech cover and French cover respectively.)

Or maybe not.

Whatever his dexterity he sure knows one thing, and that’s how to punch, kick and elbow other men in the nuts.

EDIT: Comments on this post have revealed that Steve Seagal does in fact wears womens jeans, flying in the face of conventional fashion. Such are the ways of the Mojo Priest. [thanks to commentator ‘xyz’ for that]

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The Beast in Heat

beast-in-heat-montage2When it comes to brow, the line between ‘High’ and ‘Low’ is a lot thinner than some people would readily admit. A case in point is to be found between arthouse rarity Salo and the grottiest of the video nasties The Beast in Heat. Being principally about the fascist regime in Italy during the Second World War, both gained an edge of notoriety for presenting the darkest corners of sadism, ‘an exploration of the drives which brought about the Holocaust’. To borrow a quote off the DVD cover.

Or to put it another way, they’re both a whips and handcuffs exploration of Max Moseley’s wettest dream. While Salo takes the high ground by citing the grand old Marquis de Sade as its narrative source, Bestia in Callore’s approach to the subject differs only in two areas: its budget and the audience’s expectation. As a late exploitation flick Bestia was churned out at record speed, rehashing material and actors from another WW2 flick made barely days earlier. The little money they did have was frizzled away on Chinese bangers for the few battle scenes which underpin any feeble vestiges of action. In a measure to save their precious money the wardrobe department of Bestia saw fit to reduce the costumes for ‘resistance fighters – female’ to absolutely nothing whenever in the presence of any Nazis. Bare flesh sells and the relative costs of getting some grubby bodies on screen is practically zero. “Quids in!” says mister producer.

In that respect Bestia skirts dangerously close to softcore pornography, and the budget of the torture scenes has you reeling in disgust at the grubbiness of it all. Not as it should be, reeling at the horror of The Horror. The farce of the cheapness comes to its culmination when a roaming camera in the fully operational Nazi torture factory comes across a poor woman strapped to a table with two black guinea pigs on her belly. You can only assume they were the cheaper, more docile alternative to real rats, but the effect it warrants is the comedic highlight which almost saves the film.

But you have to take such exploitative fare with a hefty pinch of salt. It truly is a film built from the title down, with more risqué alternative billing like SS Hell Camp, SS Experiment Part 2, and Horrifying Experiments of the S.S. Last Days guaranteed to pull in the idle Dirty Mac Brigade.

Coming up later in the Video Nasties list will be the more controversial SS Experiment Camp which only last year had Tory backbenchers bellyaching about censorship in the House of Commons. The irony of it taking the right honourable Julian Brazier MP a whole 20 months to react to the release of said DVD could be overlooked if not for the damaging impact it had on the BBFC.

The Video Nasties list stands as record to one of the many uncomfortable shifts the BBFC has been forced to make over the years. Yet moves by the same Board in the last ten years has seen the majority of Nasties certified and released in the UK, reflective of an open and some might say more liberal society. This might seem to fly in the face of the opinions voiced by Conservative Christian Fellow Mr Brazier MP and his rather backward looking friends at MediaWatch UK, yet these moves genuinely reflect the more permissive attitudes found in modern British audiences, reflected in a number of extensive and independent surveys conducted regularly by the Board.

Niche material such as the majority of the Nasties list will always pass under the radar of the opportunistic Mediawatchmen, so quite why SS Experiment Camp was singled out we’ll never know. Maybe like the Dirty Mac Brigade the spiritual successors of Mary Whitehouse caught onto the title alone and just went from there. Maybe they found out about it through their regular Nazi-themed S&M magazine? Who knows what these watchmen actually watch in their spare time? Who cares? Hopefully not the Daily Mail or anyone else with a voice that can’t be ignored.

For those hungry for a high camp ‘best-enjoyed-inebriated’ controversy-toting adjective-hyphenated non-horror should look up The Beast In Heat. Those looking for a good film could hardly do worse for ignoring it.

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Axe (aka Lisa, Lisa)

axe-montageGoing into this project I was more than aware that I would have to tackle more than a few duffers on the DPP list. Plot holes, ropey make-up, terrible acting; it’s all part and parcel of what’s to be expected on my path through some of cinema’s trashier slums. There is however one technical fault which can never be excused, never be forgiven, and for that I name and shame George Newman Shaw. His unforgivable crime: for utterly failing to record the majority of dialogue in the short but shlocky AXE!

The failure of the film isn’t wholly his fault, as there exists no physical matter know to human science heavy enough to describe just how leaden the plot is. Slow pacing could be tolerated if we were lucky enough to actually hear what the characters were saying. Yet coherent dialogue seems to be a convention, nay a luxury with which AXE casts to the wind. In the process a dull film is magically transformed into an agonizingly infuriating experience.

Three shady men break into an apartment to await the return of a man. ‘Why’ only starts to become apparent once they stick a gun in his face. Not much exposition after that as the hoodlums then take turns kicking the camera about, just to really give us a subjective sense of what its like to get beaten up. Only this assault is beset with a sickening sense of vertigo accompanied by the sound of someone throwing slabs of meat into a table in the background. I know, suspension of disbelief and all that, but old George Newman Shaw really wasn’t weaving the audio magic.

Oh and did I mention the bongos? Being a budget production the soundtrack can only stretch to a demented man on a set of bongos, obfusciating the dialogue as much as humanly possible. Maybe the director was raised in a Beatnick café, and as such relates free-form bongoing (of the beat-poet variety) with sheer and utter terror. Maybe George Newman Shaw shared that terror and as such felt obliged to put them bongos right at the top of the audio mix. Maybe it’s George Newman Shaw on the bongos himself? Who knows? Who cares?

The plot plods on to through an empty convenience store, the thugs indulging in a bit of William Tell rouguery along the way, and finally settles in a scary house in the middle of nowhere. This tired old horror icon is home to a paralyzed old gent in a wheelchair and his shoe-less daughter. And in establishing this location the director takes every care to demonstrably show that every nook of this house is furnished with an axe. Just like the title of the film! Oh my, where could this be-headed?

One of the three stooges turns out to be the archetypal raper. I guess the balding one pulled the short straw when it came to casting. As per convention he of course gets it in the neck. The youngest thug turns unsurprisingly out to be a soft-touch. Uncertain of this questionable path he’s come into, he of course harbours feelings for the shoeless girl. He of naturally gets inexplicably shot by the police. And the third gets hacked to pieces along the way. With an axe of course. The film takes a good 66 minutes to convey all of this, and despite being this short you feel every second being wrenched away.

Buried and forgotten beyond the Video Nasties list, this film is practically impossible to find outside the odd Asda bargain basket. The bongos will linger in the memory, if not in my dreams, but in all other senses this film will be swiftly forgotten.

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Anthropophagus (1)

anthro-montageOr How To Actually Make Sense of Absurd.

Approaching the DPP list alphabetically I didn’t anticipate that a sequel could possibly precede an original. Yet in the twisted world of video nasties such logic is par for the course, and unfortunately I have managed to see the sequel of Anthropophagus before the principle title. Being in this twisted sphere I thought the logic of such straightforward chronology would be pointless, as horror films with the same title can often have the scarcest narrative connections to each other.

Not so in the case of the Anthropophagi films, as Absurd suddenly makes a whole lot more sense in light of the first film. The blood hungry Greek is bestowed with a reasonable backstory, a raison d’etre to be halting around pestering poor civilians in their own homes. He is, you see, a normal man driven to eating his wife and child after becoming cast adrift at sea.

A normal man! Driven past the edges of sanity! To Cannibalism! The Horror!

Yet he doesn’t actually display many cannibalistic tendencies in the second film, nor does it seek to explain why he is in the States, these plot holes pale in the illuminating fact that the man was driven slowly crazy under a baking sun at sea.

The Greek setting also makes sense in the first film, casting the terror in the light of your typical charter holiday gone wrong. Donkey Punch did a reasonable job in doing that in a contemporary setting last year, so you could argue somewhat generously that Anthropophagus was well ahead of the curve on that one.

The visiting tourists at the center of the film lack any discernable character or motivation, and the inevitable dispatching of each one by one is almost welcome, if only to see the gore effects artists have a crack at something new. The film is also lent an uncanny edge as the gore-bound young folks settle on an island village eerily reminiscent of Meryl Streep’s ramshackle hotel in Mamma Mia! Body bits pop up all over the place, with a clever here, a severed head there, and a rotting corpse yon. None of the effects are particularly impressive, but they do ironically add a splash of colour to an otherwise washed out film.

If the wooden acting and shonky effects aren’t enough to dispel any sense of terror in the film, the wibbly wobbly Synth-lite soundtrack brings it wholly into the bland. John Carpenter can be more than guilty this, but where Halloween just about gets away with it, Anthropophagus is just plain discordant.

The (almost) Last Woman Left finale picks up the film as its sags towards a close, the stalker slumped dead with his own guts in his mouth. The thing to do, I guess, if you want guarantee a sequel. A bit of an extreme measure perhaps, outside any reasoned lines of logic, but functional none the less.

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Steven Seagal Gallery o’ Shame

Steven Seagal Gallery of ShameFrom l to r: Attack Force (Aussie cover), Mercenary For Justice, Today You Die, Shadow Man, Attack Force (UK cover)

So I had the mis/fortune of catching Steven Seagal’s gut-wrenchingly awful Attack Force on Five the other night. Rarely could I conceive that such an incompete film could ever be launched on the world, but sure enough, there it was on terrestial TV. Someone at Five must have a fine sense of humour and some deep pockets.

How the film could be quite so spectacularly broken demanded a bit of research, and it turns out that Mr Seagal himself is at the crux of the films failure. The plot was apparrently cut to shreds as the budget inflated and collapsed as financiers came and went. What should have been a film about alien invasions settled on merely being about vampires. Cheaper to just buy fangs and black contact lenses than bother with full blown CGI. And Underworld has been making money out of that old rope, so why not spin that some more. With Seagal of course! What could possibly go wrong?

Well warning signs came early on when Seagal’s character, Cmdr. Marshall Lawson, seemed to take on a voice of his own, like a man possessed. Only in a badly dubbed way. It turns out that Mr Seagal is very reluctant to take part in any of the post-production work on these direct-to-video films. Almost all films need some redubbing of poorly recorded scenes, and most actors are more than willing to oblige. Mr Seagal however is of the modern ‘take-the-money-and-run’ school of acting, and if it aint on the time sheet he aint bothering. As such the production team is forced to hire someone else in to come and inpersonate Steven Seagal. Badly.

It turns out this lack of co-operation extends to publicity work for these substandard DtV films. The consequence is that we are now priveleged with some of the worst examples of photoshopping to ever grace the covers of one actors’ recent ouevre. A turning point seems to be Seagal’s last major Hollywood film, Exit Wounds (2001) and that everything thereafter has just been a slippery slope down towards Attack Force.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, stay tuned for more soon.

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Absurd

Absurd ScreengrabsOr: Horrible / Anthropophagus 2 / Rosso  Sangue / Zombie 6: Monster Hunter / Psychose Infernale / Terror Sin Limite / The Grim Reaper 2 / Ausgeburt der Hölle as its also know.

Swedish wisdom has it that the fond child has many names, and by that measure there must be hella-lotta-love for the first Video Nasty on the list. Not living up to its suggestively surrealist British title – Absurd, it does live up to other titles such as Rosso Sangue and the truly descriptive Horrible. Cheap & Cheerful could have been another option for the Italian filmmakers, but instead the given title seems to be Anthropophagus 2, vaguely related as it is to Anthropophagus (1). Ironically that’s next on the DDP list, so more on that soon.

Using John Carpenter’s Halloween as its basis, Anthropophagus 2 adds one dash of crusading priest from The Exorcist, a pinch of axe-wielding action from The Shining, and a bearded quasi-invincible Greek maniac from… Greece. It’s never made clear quite what drives this Hellenic psycho, but he seems to relish killing people in particularly gruesome ways. But then again, I guess that’s the point. Yet, you can’t say he –enjoys- killing, as he just seems to be angry and frustrated about the matter. He takes particular care and attention to do things as slowly and tortuously as possible, and his complete lack of visible reaction to these gruesome actions is what probably irked the censors in the first place. Lord knows it irked me.

The horror of the relentless and driven killer is the key to any good slasher film, but the unmasked, Puma sporting, bearded Greek took some time to be established. To all appearances he seems normal, he’s just being chased by a mysterious and quite sinister priest. He debilitates himself in surprisingly unspectacularly fashion on a spike fence, stumbles in dying in a family home, but then regenerates magically on the operating table. The doctors are stunned, the mute Greek rises, and goes on a wrecking campaign against the good medical folk who saved him. Most ungrateful.

While the priest and the police talk in circles about the why’s and the what-for’s the Greed Greek takes to killing some more innocents in brutal fashion. He eventually returns to the family he initially stumbled in on, and terrorizes them, shoving the poor wife’s head in an oven. The bed-ridden, compass-twiddling daughter then breaks free from her restrictive medical gear to launch into the ‘last-woman-left’ role with absolute gusto.

The results speak for themselves in the delightful screengrabs. The motivations behind the killer, and the whole story itself are wholly beyond me. The plot lurches from scene to scene, and while the repetitive scale-racing soundtrack is cheery enough, the film just isn’t Absurd enough to be just plain funny. Fingers crossed syllable heavy Anthropophagus (1) can shed some light and what kept this manic Mediterranean sort going.

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Video Nasties!

video-nastiesGood horror films always have a nasty tendency of lingering beyond the cinema auditorium, and the creative forces behind these features always boast of the nightmares they weave into the minds of the impressionable.

And while it’s enjoyable enough to allow Wes Craven, John Carpenter or even Old Man Romero to come tickling and torturing the primal fears lodged in our Id, there’s a big place in my heart for the cheaper, smuttier horror which you just can’t wash off your hands.

While people and publciations love churning out top-whatever lists, year after year, there is only one list truly worth my love and devotion. It stands above all other lists as goverment approved and bound in legislation: it is the Video Nasties list, compiled by the British Director of Public Prosecutions as films wholly unsuitable to delicate British eyes.

dont-house

It is without doubt the number one shopping list for the grottiest end of the horror genre.  You might have come across a few, with titles like The Driller Killer, The Last House on the Left and (perhaps most famous of all) The Evil Dead all finding success on the fringes of the mainstream. They are all prime examples of films peppered with scenes, icons, motifs you just can-not forget. So where better to train my already Burnt Retina?

As a side project within this blog I will be trawling my way through all the video nasties I can possibly get my hands on. By hook or by crook, whatever format’s doing the rounds I will set myself down and watch ’em.

With over 80 titles to get through it’s going to be hard work, but no doubt there’ll be some fine gems out there. I’ll be progressing in alphabetical order, so lord knows how I’ll fare having to watch four films with the prefix DON’T in their title. How many cannibal films will I be able to stomach? Will I be able to cut it through dozens of slasher rip-offs? How much badly dubbed Italian can I endure?

Time will tell. Stay tuned for more, starting with A very soon.

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