The Woman in Black (2012)

One from the rewatch pile…

The Woman in Black (2012)

Film: Any horror fan worth his mettle knows of the famed English studio Hammer films. Over many years Hammer entertained the world with Gothic tales of terror and fright, and gave us brilliant performances from the likes of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. They also introduced the world to many a blushing busty English rose. Great things don’t last forever though, and as a new generation of horror came to light in the 70s and 80s, Hammer disappeared. But not forever.

Recently, Hammer have re-emerged with a few new films: the English language remake of Let the Right One In called Let Me In and this, a retooling of Susan Hill’s novel The Woman in Black, filmed once before in 1989. This version has been adapted by Jane Goldman, who scripted Kick-Ass and X-Men: First Class and is directed by James Watkins, who previously helmed Eden Lake.

A young lawyer, Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe) is on his last legs at his job. It has been several years since his young wife Stella (Sophie Stuckey) died during childbirth and he has never gotten over it, bringing up their son Joseph (Misha Handley) with only the assistance of a nanny (Jessica Raine).

As the final chance to save his job, Kipps’ boss has given him the challenge of travelling to the town of Cryphin Gifford to make sure that the final will and testament of the recently deceased owner of the secluded property Eel Marsh, Mrs Drablow (Alisa Khazanova) is correct, by checking through any and all documents at her estate. What Kipps finds there though is a hate filled spirit of a woman in black, but why is she so filled with loathing, and can Kipps do anything to appease her torment of the town and it’s children?

The Woman in Black looks quite beautiful, and has a mood that perfectly matches that of the main character. The township of Cryphin Gifford is so dank that one feels the cold, wet and clamminess as if it is present in the room in which you are watching the film.

The performances are all solid. Still quite young, Daniel Radcliffe plays his Peter Cushing styled character with the intensity of a man well beyond his years, or an emo on depressants. The addition of the wonderful Ciarin Hinds as his ally within the town is excellent, and Hinds has a weight and subtlety in his performance as a man haunted by the death of a young son, and whose wife has never recovered from it.

The script also tells a grand ghost story, but here lies its biggest problem. Ghost stories in cinema have a language of their own and they can fall into a trap. That trap is they either do something out of the norm and have audiences not ‘get’ it, or they stick to the generic ghost story devices such as a creaky house and creepy toys et cetera, and even though they are speaking a cinematic language that your average cinema goer will comprehend, the story just doesn’t stand out.

Unfortunately, The Woman in Black is guilty of the latter. Even though there was some impressive imagery (Eel Marsh itself is simply amazing) the story just feels as though it is telling a tale we’ve all heard many times over. It seems to me that the makers of The Woman in Black tried to ignore the fact that the tastes of horror fans have moved on, and that perhaps this type of film isn’t relevant any more. I know whilst I was watching it I didn’t feel like I was watching a classic horror film, but someone who was trying to emulate one.

So Hammer are back, baby! The pure gothic tales of fright they have given us have returned with them, but, I’m afraid their time may have passed. The acting is generally of a high standard and the movie boasts some amazing gothic horror visuals, but it seems to miss that ‘classic’ horror mood. Perhaps this is due to the main elements of that “classic horror mood” being Cushing and Lee, who would have kicked arse as Kipps and Daily respectively, but without them, this whole event just feels a little ordinary.

Spooky toys, a creaky house, ghostly children, mysterious rocking chairs, generic, generic generic. The Woman in Black is a great looking film that ticks all the ‘spooky’ boxes and has some fine performances, but it fails to deliver any real scares and never tries to rise above the regular ‘ghost story’ trappings.

Score: **

Format: This film is presented in a pristine 2.35:1 aspect ratio, which I have to say, due to the colour palette of the film, works much better is pitch darkness, If your lounge room has even the slightest bit of light in it, you won’t get the full benefit of deep blacks and immaculate shadow detail The soundscape matches the visuals in excellence, and like it, works best in the dark, and is presented in DTS-HD 5.1.

Score: *****

Extras: The disc opens with trailers for Lockout, Magic Mike and Killer Joe before taking us to the menu.

There are only two, quite short, extras on this disc:

No Fear: Daniel Radcliffe as Arthur Kipps is a brief exploration of Radcliffe’s performance as Kipps, with comments from other cast and crew as to why he was good for the role.

Inside the Perfect Thriller: The Making of The Woman in Black, obviously, looks at the making of the film featuring interviews with cast and crew.

Score: 2

WISIA: It’s highly unlikely that I’d ever waste anymore of my precious time on this film.

Mystics in Bali (1981)

One from the rewatch pile…

Mystics in Bali (1981)

Film: When it comes to cinema, gems are hard to find, but now and again you’ll find yourself sitting in front of a film thinking to yourself ” why the Hell have I never seen this?”

Honestly, I had never even heard of this film, but one of the many movie magazines I buy did a blurb on it a few years ago, and I thought I should hunt it out, but other, seemingly more important releases always overshadowed it. This was a mistake, as I can’t even remember what some of those other films may have been. I should have immediately grabbed Mystics in Bali the very second I heard of it!

Mystics in Bali tells of curious tourist Cathy Kean (played by German tourist Ilona Agathe Bastian, who had no acting experience but did the film so she could stay in Bali longer) who wishes to learn the magical ways of the Leyak, an Indonesian black art. Her friend, and potential lover Mahendra (Yos Santo) takes her deep into the jungle to meet a cackling old Leyak witch (Sophia WD) who takes Cathy under her wing as an apprentice. She starts by learning a few spells but soon discovers that once you are under the thrall of a Leyak, it is difficult to get out. Maybe even impossible, even with the assistance of local shamen and mystics!

Mystics in Bali is one of those ‘kitchen sink’ films: you know, as in it has everything but! Witches (well, Leyaks), metamorphosis, floppy titted pig women, ancient mystical masters, flying vampire heads, people vomiting live mice, awkward romance and most incredulous of them all, a baby eaten right out of a pregnant woman’s… um… punani.

Now don’t tell me you didn’t want all that in one film.

The film does suffer from some poor dubbing, but considering the female lead was a German tourist and the rest of the cast are Indonesian, I guess one can overlook that.

The special effects aren’t so special, but are a treat to watch as there are some spectacularly bad animation effects, lightning from fingers and such, that look like hand drawn animation on the original film cels. The metamorphosis scenes do their very best to be American Werewolf in London, and fail, but are actually still quite off putting.

It is without a doubt one of the nuttiest and most entertaining films I have ever seen! If I am to recall how I felt after watching this, I would compare it to how I felt after watching Evil Dead for the first time, though this isn’t at all scary like Evil Dead was the first time I watched it. Although, I was about 13 then, so give me a break.

If you don’t have Mystics in Bali in your collection, it is an error you must immediately fix.

Score: ****1/2

Format: Presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, Mystics in Bali has a clarity that is surprising for a film of this age and region. There are occasional film artefacts, and admittedly at some of the more ‘special’ effects heavy sequences it does go slightly foggy, but I don’t think that is a problem with the transfer, but instead the original source. Presented in stereo only, but it is crisp and clear, considering it is an English overdub recorded in a studio somewhere.

Score: ***

Extras: We start with a fairly poor quality trailer and then get some extras that would have been great… if they weren’t text and had instead been actual documentaries. They are Mystics in Bali and the Indonesian Exploitation Movie, which talks about Indonesian cinema, H. Tjut Djalil – Director Filmography, which is just that and How to Become a Leak (sic) which I am sure should have been spelt ‘Leyak’, which contains the rites to becoming a Leyak. Don’t try this at home.

Finally we have a trailer park for Mondo Macabro, which features Snake Sisters, The Blood Rose, The Bollywood Horror Collection, Snake Dancer, The Devil’s Sword, Lifespan, Don’t Deliver Us From Evil, Satan’s Blood, Virgins From Hell, For Your Height Only, French Sex Murders, The Deathless Devil, Living Doll, Satanico Pandemonim, Panic Beats, Clonus, The Killer Must Kill Again, The Mansion of Madness, Alucarda, The Diabolical Dr. Z, Aswang, The Living Corpse, Blood of the Virgins, Seven Women for Satan, Lady Terminator, Crazy Love, Mill of the Stone Women, Dangerous Seductress and Girl Slaves of Morgana Le Fay. Honestly the disappointing text extras are saved by these awesome trailers!

Score: ***

WISIA: Hell yeah! This film is a hoot and a holler!

Hatchet (2006)

One from the re-watch pile…

Hatchet (2006)

Film: Writer/director Adam Green is one of us. He was shown Friday the 13th Part 2 when he was 8, and has never looked back. Thankfully, that movie fermented in his brain, and while at summer camp, a story about a murderer who dwelled in a cabin that was forbidden to the campers turned into something else, something that 20 years later evolved into this film, Hatchet.

Hatchet tells of lovelorn Ben (Joel Moore from Bones and Avatar) and his friend Marcus (Deon Richmond aka Token Black Guy from Not Another Teen Movie) who are visiting new Orleans for Mardi Gras, but Ben, who has just broken up with his girlfriend, isn’t into the idea of seeing a bunch of drunken women showing their boobs for beads.

Pfft, idiot!

So, instead of enjoying the frivolities these two friends decide to take a tour of the Louisiana swamps, in the ‘Scare Boat’ run by local Shawn (Perry Shen), and perhaps see where local legend Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder), aka Hatchetface, once lived. Once on board they meet kindly older couple Jim and Shannon Permatteo (Richard Riele and Patrika Darbo respectively), titty filmmaker Doug Shapiro (Joel Murray), his flashing females Jenna (Joleigh Fioraevanti) and Misty (Mercedes McNab) and mysterious, gun-toting honey Marybeth (Tamara Feldman).

Unfortunately, and of course, the boat comes to a crashing halt, and the gang of tourists and their guide become stuck in the woods, wet, cold, lost, and now with Victor Crowley, whom they realise is no legend but instead a horribly malformed mutant killing machine, hunting for them.

How many will make it out… if any? Will the survivors be horribly maimed and psychologically scarred? And where exactly did a mutant hillbilly get a petrol-powered sander?

The script is a fun adventure into 80s styled horror, and even though it has a few great and funny lines, at no point did I think ‘horror comedy’, which I believe to be the scourge of the genre. I think the reason that the comedy never overpowers over the horror is because the violence is just so damned nasty: spine rips, head splits, axings… a veritable treasure trove of blood spraying and sputum spewing gags that should keep most fans happy, and their non-horror friends crying ‘Ewwwwwww!’

One thing I have to pick on this film about anything it is the costume of the creature that is Victor Crowley. Rubber suits and appliance rarely look 100% perfect, but unfortunately this one doesn’t look as good as the worst of the Jason Voorhees ones.

The other is its biggest problem: this film has to live up to a expectations that started as hype on the internet after a teaser trailer oozed out, and those expectations were that it could be horror’s salvation. It isn’t, but what it is a bit of gory fun and what the DVD cover says: “Old School American Horror”.

It’s got gore, boobs, gore, violence, gore, Robert Englund, Tony Todd and Kane Hodder in it, and those elements make it alright in my book. While I don’t think the character of Victor Crowley has the longevity of Freddy or Jason it is a fun example of what a slasher film is supposed to be: gory, unpretentious fun. With boobs.

Score: ***1/2

Format: Nice clear picture presented in 16:9 with no artefacts or apparent damage. A really good Dolby Digital 5.1 mix that is clear as a bell, with the rear channels coming to life whenever Victor Crowley terrorises his victims.

Score: ****

Extras: Straight off the bat we are given a commentary by writer/director Adam Green and his Director of Photography Will Barratt, with a few do-drop-ins (specifically actors) here and there to add more colour to the proceedings. It is a full commentary that is both entertaining and informative. Yes, it is inforcational.

The Making of Hatchet is one of the better making of docos I have seen. It discusses the origins of the film from conception to … heh… execution. Mainly features interviews with Green, Barratt and producer Sarah Elbert (who I admit to having a micro-crush on) but also chats with most of the cast and a fair bit of the crew. This is the type of doco that makes me want to grab my video camera and go and film stuff.

Of course, no decent extras package is complete without the trailer, so here it be!

Also there are four behind the scenes pieces, which are all around the ten minute mark:

Meeting Victor Crowley is a look at Kane Hodder’s performance and substandard make-up. What it lacks as a visual though, he made up for in terrorising the cast with his on camera and behind the scenes routine.

Guts and Gore looks at the red stuff… which is why a lot of us are here. Well, this and boobs.

Anatomy of a Kill dissects the ‘pop top’ scene, from the original idea to John Carl Buechler’s effects teams result.

A Twisted Tale looks at the moral support that Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snyder has given Green over the years, both before and after they had met.

Score: ***1/2

WISIA: There is far too many super slashers from the 80s that I could rewatch rather than give this another look.

To Watch Pile After Dark Podcast Transcript Episode 5

Oops! It would appear I forgot to post the transcript for this episode!

The To Watch Pile After Dark Podcast Episode 5

Good evening, horror lovers, this is Justin McNamara and is like to welcome you to my 5th episode of The To Watch Pile After Dark, where I’ll be looking at my 47th favourite horror movie of all time.

They say that New York Pizzas are the best in the world, and what better way to celebrate the Italian influence in New York then with this film…

(Trailer)

The New York Ripper, known in Italian, and you’ll have to excuse my horrendous attempt at the language, as Lo squartatore di New York tells of grizzled New York policed officer Lieutenant Fred Williams (Jack Hedley) who is in the midst of investigating two murders, one involving the hand of a prostitute found in a park and the other of the murder of a cyclist on a ferry. These murders have two things in common: the victims were beautiful women and witnesses claim the murderer sounded like a duck.

Williams talks to the pathologist, Barry Jones (Giodarno Falzoni) and discovers that there was a murder with similar circumstances the previous month, which leads him to one conclusion: there is a serial killer in New York!

At a press conference he announces his idea but is warned by the police commissioner (Lucio Fulci) that to avoid a city-wide panic, he should avoid further press announcements. He is told that whilst he was at the press conference, a man with ‘a voice like a duck’ had called him.

The man with a voice like a duck continues his campaign of murder, but also terrorises Williams with a series of phone calls and even murders his frequently visited prostitute, Kitty (Daniela Doria) meanwhile, we, the viewers, are subjected to several red herrings and examples of just how sleazy 80s New York was,..

The New York Ripper was directed by Italian horror legend Lucio Fulci, who, after several zombie films, decided to take on a human killer in a tribute to Alfred Hitchcock. Whilst it’s probably not very Hitchcock, it does make an attempt at a New York styled hard-boiled detective story… even emulating the sexism of those pulp stories, though THIS story might seem excessively anti-women, in actual fact, Dardano Sarchetti, co-writer of this film, claimed that all the violence towards women in the tale came from Fulci, himself.

Antonella Fulci, Lucia’s daughter, has claimed that this to be untrue, siting that the killer in this film doesn’t hate women, he hates beauty and his madness has led him to murder only those that are beautiful.

As I researched this film, using everything from Wikipedia to my many horror film related books, I discovered that a film that is so repeatedly described as ‘nasty’, ‘misogynistic’ and ‘excessively violent towards women’ wasn’t one of Britain’s so-called ‘Video Nasties’. Upon further investigation, legend says that it was rejected by the BBFC and director James Fermann demanded it be immediately exported back to the rights-holder in Italy so neither the distributor or the BBFC themselves could be charged with having banned material. Honestly I reckon that sounds like one of those stories that makes the film sound bad and that’s used to expand its notoriety so it becomes the sweetest of forbidden fruit.

As a teen I worked in a video shop on Sunday afternoons, and Fulci’s heavily edited films were always on the cards as a watch. Honestly I don’t think I watched much else other than Fulci zombie films and Dawn of the Dead, and because of this I became a Fulci-phile, but I didn’t get to see this film until I managed to get my hands on an Australian release DVD copy from Stomp in about 2005, and I loved the sleazy griminess if it immediately. I then bought the Shameless Screen Entertainment DVD and was pretty upset to find it was cut, but I then bought it again when they rereleased it in a less cut version, and then a third time from them on Bluray.

I appreciate it’s not for everyone and the first time I watched it I was stunned by how raw it is. It’s like a Giallo, which is probably my favourite type of film, but rubbed in the dirt. The story is well below average, and the concept of a killer who ‘sounds like a duck’… well, I’m sorry, but ducks don’t speak, and I guess it was too difficult to get permission to have the characters say ‘talks like Donald Duck’.

The litigation fingers of the House of Mouse are looooooooong.

Apparently Fulci once told his daughter that the reason he chose the voice of Donald Duck is that Mickey Mouse was too law-abiding.

So why is this film particularly in my top 50? It is a combination of a love for Fulci… even his worst films are better than a lot of so-called A movies, well, they are certainly far more interesting… a love of Giallo, no matter how bad and a love of American slashers, which I feel this lends itself a lot to.

Thank you for joining me for this episode of the To-Watch Pile After Dark. Please, subscribe and give me a five star rating, and also check out my movie review blog at www.towatchpile.com and listen my my other podcast, The Nerds of Oz.

Until next episode…

The To Watch Pile After Dark Episode 6 Transcript

The To Watch Pile After Dark Episode 6 Transcript

https://anchor.fm/towatchpile/episodes/Episode-6—Horror-Film-Countdown-46-e5jftp

Good evening, My black-hearted friends, to the latest episode of The To Watch Pile After Dark, my name is Justin McNamara and this is number 46 on the list of my top 50 favourite horror films.

In the early 2000s, a young man appeared in the horror landscape who was one of us, which of course means genre fans hated him… but not me. I immediately became a fan of Eli Roth the second I watched this film…

(Play trailer)

Cabin Fever was released in 2002 and tells the story of 5 friends, Paul (Rider Strong), Karen (Jordan Ladd), Marcy (Cerina Vincent), Jeff (Joey Kern) and Bert (James DeBello) who decide to have a week away before they go to college. They pick a remote cabin in the woods so they can have absolutely no disturbances. March and Joey intend on spending the week screwing, Paul intends on finally sealing the deal with Karen, which he has been trying for years, and Burt… well Burt just wants to get drunk and shoot animals with his rifle.

Unfortunately, those plans fall apart when the local hermit (Arie Verveen) turns up with what appears to be some kind of disease, and terrorises the friends, mainly due to the fact that Burt accidentally shot him earlier that day and didn’t tell the others.

In defending themselves they accidentally set him on fire and he dies, but not before infecting the water supply. Slowly but surely, one by one, the infection spreads, and panic sets in amongst the friends. The infection is horrific too, insomuch that it is a flesh eating virus that starts by melting your insides, resulting in a bloody cough, and ends in a full body meltdown.

Which of the friends will survive this horrific virus, especially in a town full of racism, mistrust and suspicion… will ANY of them survive.

I have to start by pointing out the real clever thing about this movie: even though the killer is a horrific, Necrotising Fasciitis, no one, and this is a massive spoiler so stop the podcast now I’d you haven’t seen it…no one actually DIES by the virus. Even one who carks it in this film, dies by the hand of someone who is panicking!

This film appeals to two of the film fans that live within me, just as it did the first time I saw it when I reviewed it for the now defunct Australian cult movie website Digital Retribution.

The first is the one that likes the facile teen comedies of the 80s and the other who digs the so-called ‘body horror’ films. The cast of this film actually fit the first fandom perfectly, as the cast are from such TV shows and films as Boy Meets World, Not Another Teen Movie, American Pie and Never Been Kissed, and the second love, well the special effects team took care of that love perfectly, probably due to the fact that Eli Roth’s script was based an experience he had where he apparently contracted a skin infection whilst working on a horse farm in Iceland from rotting hay.

There is also a legend that the sound mixer on the film John Neff was an actual victim of the real virus, and was hospitalised for 13 days with it, and he claimed the make up effects were quite accurate to what he had witnessed.

I first learnt about this film from an issue 33 of Rue Morgue magazine which interested me from the get-go. I was very excited when this film hit the Australian shores and I was a champion of both it, and of Eli Roth even though a large percentage of the genre populace weren’t fans, which I found preposterous as he seemingly was being accused of being a poseur when all I could see was a guy who, like me, loved horror, loved the 80s and wanted to make movies.

Unfortunately, to date I have only made one short film, and it was just for fun. If the opportunity arose again I’d probably jump right on it!

Roth very much wears his influences, both from a writing and a directorial aspect on his sleeve. His script emulates the 80s movies that he clearly loves, with not just horrorific elements, but also with a wry sense of humour and so many scenes are clearly riffing on scenes from Dawn of the Dead, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Night of the Living Dead and others, occasionally to somewhat comic effect. I’ve liked other films of Roth’s as well: Hostel amps up the teen comedy at the beginning and descends into a far more violent second and third act, and is the poster boy for the so-called ‘torture porn’, and Green Inferno, which is a far more complete film (even though it does have one ridiculous element that is out of place) which is a love-letter to the 7os and 80s cannibal flicks.

The funny thing I have found about doing this podcast is that it’s forcing me to rewatch films that I haven’t watched for a long time, and it’s probably been ten years since I saw this, so the revisit was one I completely enjoyed. I spend a lot of time on my website the To Watch Pile watching movies I’ve never seen before that occasionally I forget to rewatch epic stuff from the past.

I’d like to add a warning: I am talking only about the 2002 movie. There was a remake done in 2016, produced by Roth but directed by Travis Z aka Travis Zariwny with a script adapted from Roth’s by Rudy Pearlstein, and I can’t stress enough how much you must avoid that film. It is terrible.

Thanks you for listening to this episode of the To Watch Pile After Dark. Don’t forget you can see the transcript of this episode, and my movie reviews at my blog www.towatchpile.com. Also, listen to my other podcast, The Nerds of Oz, available wherever good podcasts can be heard. Please like and subscribe to the To Watch Pile After Dark, and throw me a review if you have the opportunity.

See you next time.

House of 1000 Corpses (2003)

One from the re-watch pile…

House of 1000 Corpses (2003)

Film: Are you a fan of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Last House on the Left, Eaten Alive, and sleazy 70s grindhouse? Well I’ve got a delectable feast of delights for you! A tale where Life and Death are Meaningless…and Pain is God!!

October 30, 1977, Ruggsville, four twenty something’s on a road trip across the USA (Chris Hardwick, Jennifer Jostyn, Erin Daniels and Rainn Wilson) stop at Captain Spaulding’s (Sid Haig) Museum of Monsters and Mayhem, a gas station/ fried chicken hut with a Ripley’s Believe It or Not styled freak show, whose main attraction is the bizarre ‘Murder Ride’. In the ride, the travellers are told about a local psycho, Dr Satan, who was hanged out in the woods by Ruggsville townsfolk, and whose body mysteriously disappeared the next day. The four decide to visit the tree on which he was hanged, and on the way pick up a hitchhiker, Baby Firefly (Sheri Moon). Soon one of their tyres is shot out and the four have to stop in at Baby’s House, where they are introduced to the murderous Firefly family (Karen Black, Bill Moseley, Robert Mukes, Matthew McGrory and Dennis Fimple). The succeeding story will shock, terrify and haunt the viewer…FOREVER!!!

Filmed in 2000, but not released until 2003, due to Universal’s cowardice towards an NC-17 rating, but eventually picked up by Lion’s Gate Films, Rob Zombie has created a visual trip that has more genre homage’s than you can poke a stick at. House of 1000 Corpses received Best Special Effects for Wayne Toth and Michael O’Brien at Fantasporto in 2004 where it was also nominated for Best International Fantasy Film, not to mention it was nominated for Choice Movie- Horror/Thriller at the Teen Choice Awards 2003.

Zombie obviously has great affection for everything that we Horror fans and Gore fiends love. Being a collector of the macabre and trash culture himself, not to mention a Marx Brothers aficionado (to which some of the characters are named after: Otis Driftwood, Rufus Firefly and Ravelli). To a layman, this film might seem a rip-off of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and there is no doubt that there are many comparisons, but there are levels to this film that make it so much more than that. To go into those levels would be to reveal far too much of the film itself, and lose some of its journey for the genre fan. Unfortunately this film has been heavily cut, when played at the Mar del Plata Film festival, it ran at 105 minutes but the eventual release plays at a mere 88 minutes. Don’t worry though; there is still plenty of carnage to enjoy.

The filming of this movie is great, sometimes Hollywood gloss, sometimes gritty and grainy, which gives the viewer an impression this was actually made in the seventies, and also has some quick MTV style cuts for dream sequences and such.

I absolutely love this movie. It’s never going to be known as a breakthrough of originality and top shelf acting, but isn’t entertainment what cinema is all about, something that this film delivers by the bloody bucket load. Zombie knows his genre stuff and has collected a cast from movies such as Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Spider Baby, Trilogy of Terror and others, to deliver ‘the Most Shocking Tale of Carnage ever Seen’. Have fun!!

Score: *****

Format: Always crisp and sharp, the 16×9 anamorphic widescreen is impressive, the only time this movie sinks to grit and grain is in its segues, where it is obviously deliberate. The audio is presented in an immaculate DTS-HD 7.1.

Score: *****

Extras: Unfortunately, this Bluray release is missing the spectacular menus from the initial DVD release. Those menus, hosted by Baby, Otis and particularly Captain Spaulding were fantastic, powered by Mojo DVD navigation; those menus had these three characters commenting on everything from what the special features contain, to your very own sassy hairdos.

Directors commentary is as you would expect from someone like from Rob Zombie. He talks all way through, rarely taking a break and revealing some interesting aspects of this film, including how much of it was filmed in the basement of his own house. Sometimes commentaries from only one person have long breaks or pauses, but Zombie has a short story for every scene that plays. The amount of extra bits and pieces he points out are incredible, even down to continuity faults.

The Making of featurette is a 4:14 minute summary of the film as told by the actors playing the leads, and a couple of sound bytes from Zombie about the making of the movie, but not very special or informative.

Casting is audition footage of Dennis Fimple (King Kong) who played Grandpa, which is pretty funny.

Rehearsal footage show some of the cast in their rehearsals for some particular scenes in the film.

The Interviews section has Q & A’s with Bill Moseley, Sid Haig, Sheri Moon and Wayne Toth (special make-up effects). Fairly standard fare, but interesting never the less.

Interview with William Bassett is a new interview from Umbrella Entertainment with William Bassett from The Towering Inferno and The Karate Kid.

Theatrical Trailers are fairly self explanatory.

Score: ***

WISIA: I love this film so its a regular rewatcher for me!

The Killer Must Kill Again (1975)

One from the rewatch pile…

The Killer Must Kill Again aka L’assassino è Costretto ad Uccidere Ancora (1975)

Film: I love giallo films, and it was with great pleasure that this one, The Killer Must Kill Again, finally crossed my palms. Also known as L’assassino è costretto ad uccidere ancora or Il Ragno (The Spider), The Killer Must Kill Again is the second film directed by Luigi Cozzi and was made in 1973, but was initially banned, and did not get an official release until 1975.

Scumbag husband Giogio Mainardi (George Hilton) had decided to leave his bitchy, mistrusting, but rich, wife but gets a better idea when he happens to witness a serial killer (Michael Antoine) dispose of a body. Giorgio blackmails the killer, and for some reason also offers him $20,00, to kill his wife. The Killer executes the plot perfectly, but has fate thrust upon him when the car he is storing the body in the boot of is stolen by a pair of joyriders, Luca (Alessia Orano) and his girlfriend, Laura (What Ever Happened to Solonge’s Christina Galbo) who are travelling to a place called Seagull Rock where Luca intends to deflower Laura.

The Killer steals another car in the street and pursues them cross country. Meanwhile, Giorgio waits with a police investigator who is led to believe that Giogio’s wife has been kidnapped, seeing as how her father is rich, and so they make preparations for a ransom call that has yet to be made. The inspector though, slowly becomes more and more suspicious of Giorgio.

Eventually the Killer catches up with Luca and Laura, but what happens next?

The answer quite possibly lies within the films title…

Cozzi wears his influences on his sleeve with this film. It is a little bit Dario Argento, but with his usual ploy of not revealing the killer until the end turned on its head, and a little Alfred Hitchcock, but much sleazier. Sleazecock perhaps? Several scenes are clearly influences by Hitchcock, such as the Killer pushing a victims car Marion Crane like into a body of water. In actual fact, Michael Antoine looks a little like Anthony Perkins, although maybe more like a DNA splicing of Charles Bronson and Reggie Nalder with Johnny Cash’s wardrobe.

The whole film appears to be made to offset the mind of the viewer. There is a lot of queer scoring and music effects and some some fantastically weird camera work and editing. One wonderful example is the juxtaposition of a rape and some lovemaking that makes for a scene that acts as a sexy/repulsive collage of lust. The script follows some strange paths as well. Even though the ‘kidnapper’ has not made any sort of demands, the inspector suggests that a ransom is put together… but why?

There is a lot to like about this film. It is super cool and somehow extraordinarily scummy at the same time. George Hilton is suitably bastardish, and Michael Antoine’s cavalier sociopath is a perfect example of how to act creepy. You really have to love a film that doesn’t really have a clear ‘good guy’: all the characters are either macho womanizers, bitches, slutty bimbo’s or just plain out frigid.

Simply, I can’t recommend this enough: I loved every second of it.

Score: *****

Format: The 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation has a few tiny artefacts here and the but nothing to really detract from the viewing experience. For its age this is a splendid transfer. No fancy 5.1 remix here, with The Killer Must Kill Again presented in old school stereo, but it is a decent track. You also have the choice of subtitles Italian or dubbed English.

Score: **

Extras: A nice basket of extras on this disc.

 

There is a thorough commentary track by Cozzi, who is prompted along by interviewer Pete Tombs, author of Mondo Macabro. Cozzi talks about all aspects of the film, and it is entertaining and informative. He discusses the original title – Il Ragno – and where it came from, and generally has great recollections of the films production.

The Road to The Killer is an interview with Cozzi from October 2004 and he talks about his influences and career.

Initials D.A. The Killer has a lighter with the initials D.A. on it, and Cozzi discusses how this is a tribute to Dario Argento, a man whom he seems to respect.

The Giallo Genre is a documentary originally presented on the Region 2 Mondo Macabro release of Death Walks at Midnight. It is narrated by Adrian Smith, author of the giallo book Blood and Black Lace, and is a decent introduction to the world of giallo. I did find an issue with the audio at this point though. Everytime Smith spoke, my sound system accompanied his speech with a dull hum, whether this is present on the disc or was just my equipment, I am not sure.

There is also a theatrical trailer, a blogs and stills galleries, which feature posters and text filmographies, and an original title sequence of the film as it was known as Il Ragno.

In addition, this disc has a collage of film scenes called More from Mondo Macabro, which shows scenes from their other releases, such as Alucarda, The Diabolical Dr. Z, Aswang, Living Corpse, Blood of the Virgins, Seven Women for Satan, Lady Terminator, Crazy Love, Mill of the Stone Women, Dangerous Seductress and Girl Slaves of Morgana Le Fay Special Edition. The worse thing about this sequence of films was the amount of DVDS I am going to have to purchase over the next few months!

Score: ****

WISIA: With it’s strange vibe, The Killer Must Kill Again is a definite rewatcher.

I Kill Giants (2017)

One from the to watch pile…

I Kill Giants (2017)

Film: Having a site called ‘The To Watch Pile’ means I need to make sure I watch as many new films as possible… well, not necessarily ‘new’ but certainly ones I haven’t seen before. My ACTUAL to-watch pile is ridiculously large and is spread across my house, filling a footrest and a whole cabinet under my TV. I know that a lot of this is going to be pretty awful, and as a devout movie fan. I’m happy to torture myself with silly stuff. I also know that occasionally I’m going to find a gem amongst the manure.

.. and this is one of them.

I Kill Giants was written by Joe Kelly and is based on the limited series comic made by him along with Ken Niimura which was published by Image Comics between 2008 and 2009. It was directed by Anders Walter, who win an Academy Award for his 2013 short film Helium.

I Kill Giants tells of 12 year old Barbara (Madison Wolfe), an extraordinarily strange girl who walks to the beat of her own drum, resisting normalcy no matter what her sister, Karen (Imogen Poots) asks if her, no matter what the school psychologist, Mrs. Mollé (Zoe Saldana) says and especially no matter what school bully, Taylor (Rory Jackson) does to her, and she seems to have an incredible strength that rises her above all this.

This is because Barbara has a secret: she is the sole defence for her town against the constant threat of giants. Giants that no one else can see.

Barbara has covered the town with protective runes, and has many wards and symbols that help her in her goal, and she also enlists new neighbour Sophie (Sydney Wade), but this causes a problem… Sophie can’t see what it is that Barbara says she can, and is concerned that perhaps Barbara isn’t quite mentally well, and maybe that disbelief will cause Barbara to lose her powers against the giants…

An ambiguous synopsis? You better believe it. Honestly I’ve watched the film twice as of this writing and I am still not quite sure if Barbara can see these mythical creatures or not, and I think that perhaps that ambiguity really makes the film something special.

It’s not just the ambiguity of Kelly’s script though, it’s also the acting skill of the cast, both the established older actors and the children. This whole film hangs on the talent of Wolfe and she not only rises to the occasion, she nails every scene she is in. In particular, there is one scene where she is being challenged by the psychologist and goes from distracted to tears no naturally it’s astounding.

The other small rise to the occasion too. You forget that Saldana has amazing talent now that she is a blockbuster sweetheart, and I have to say her characters husband is played by Noel Clarke was a nice surprise, me being a Doctor Who fan. Imogen Poots also kicks goals with her role as the sister who is trying to keep her family together after a family tragedy (which is an underlying theme of the plot) and her frustrations are almost palpable.

Walter has created a beautifully designed film too. The constant dark and oppressive sky doesn’t just set a tone of potential danger, and reflect Both Barbara’s real and fantastic situations, it also acts as somewhat of a cover for the films giants, which beautifully fit into the landscape.

I honestly didn’t know what to expect from this film, and I have to say I was surprised by what I did get: an engaging quasi-fantasy film that played an amazing song upon my heartstrings.

Score: ****

Format: This film was reviewed on the Umbrella Entertainment R4 NTSC DVD which runs for approximately 106 minutes. It is presented in 2.35:1 image which is great, and a decent audio, running on Dolby 5.1. I did have the sound lose sync on two occasions, but I have been assured by Umbrella Entertainment that this has not been a common complaint.

Score: ****

Extras: Seems to be a common thing with Umbrella DVDs these days, but no extras.

Score: 0

WISIA: I did enjoy this film, very much, but I think it would lose some of its magic with a rewatch, so I thunk I’ll leave it where it is.

The Wind (2018)

One from the to watch pile…

The Wind (2018)

Film: I must start this review with a simple statement about my genre tastes: I have zero interest in films, TV, comics or video games that take place in the American so-called ‘wild’ west. I’ve seen very few Django films outside of Tarantino’s, I’ve only watched the ‘Dollar’ trilogy once, my comic collection has a couple of cowboy comics, but not in comparison to horror, sci-fi and superhero ones and the video Red Dead Redemption 2, that everyone was cartwheeling in excitement over, bored three different shade of crap out of me.

I’m not a cowboy guy, ok? Even when everyone in horror was excited about Bone Tomahawk, I couldn’t get much more than a raised eyebrow out of the film, and that was just at the graphic violence! Maybe I should give it another go…

This film was directed by Emma Tammi, who directed the documentary Lens Across America, and was written by Teresa Sutherland, who prior to this hadn’t written a full feature, but her short film The Winter was very well received.

This film tells of Lizzy Macklin (Caitlin Gerard) and her husband, Isaac (Ashley Zukerman) who live in 1800s America in the Wild West. They live a frugal life and he spends a lot of time away working for their survival, leaving Lizzy alone, who is potentially suffering from post natal depression after a stillborn birth and because of the isolation, thinks something is in the plains watching her.

Our story sees a young couple, Emma (Julia Goldani Telles) and Gideon Harper (Dylan McTee) move in to the cabin close by, and Lizzy paranoia starts getting worse, thinking that Emma is attempting to seduce her husband.

So is there something in the wind on the plains, or is Lizzy slowly but surely losing her mind?

So this wasn’t the movie to change my opinion on the western. Don’t get me wrong, this film is visually realised beautifully and the performances are fabulous, but I found no tension and the story to be disjointed and plodding. I’m not one to be looking at clocks whilst watching a film, but this time, I was constantly with one eye on the time praying for the 80 odd minutes to come to an end.

As a discussion of post natal depression, paranoia and post traumatic stress disorder is where this film work best, and honestly I really think the addition of the supernatural elements may be where this film falls apart as you aren’t quite sure what it is you are watching.

I’m a fan of more deliberate horror films, like The Wicker Man, for example, but I just couldn’t get into this. Yes, maybe it was because I’m not a fan of westerns, but I am a fan of good pacing, and this didn’t have that.

Score: *1/2

Format: This film was reviewed with the Umbrella Entertainment region 4 DVD which runs for approximately 84 minutes. It is presented in a quite clear 2.35:1 image with a really good Dolby Digital 5.1 audio.

Score: ****

Extras: None. Not even a menu screen.

Score: 0

WISIA: Nope. It’s that simple.

Podcast Transcript – Episode 4

Greetings, gore hounds, to this, episode 4, of the To Watch Pile After Dark Podcast, where we are counting down my 50 favourite horror films! This episode sees us at film 48 out of 50, and it’s the first full length feature film from Christopher Smith…

(Trailer)

Unfortunately that trailer doesn’t tell you much, especially the title of my 48th film, which is 2004’s Creep.

Creep tells of strong-willed professional Kate (Franke Potente), who is leaving a work function early with an intention to sneak into an A-lister party where she is setting her sites on George Clooney, who is supposed to be there.

Unfortunately the friend who she was supposed to leave with goes without her and she’s left to catch a train to the destination, but she is a little drunk, and tired and dozes off on the train station, awaking to find the last train, HER train, has left and the entire station is abandoned.

Another train turns up regardless and she jumps up on it, only to have it stop deep in the tunnels and for her to find out that she’s not alone. One of her workmates, Guy (Jeremy Sheffield), a man she rejected the advances of at the party, has followed her to the train and high on drugs, attempts to rape her, but the rape is stopped when he is dragged off the train by something in the tunnels.

Very quickly, Kate discovers that there is a monster in the tunnels, a misshapen creature who murders those stuck in his tunnels at night. The victims pile up as Kate seeks assistance in her plight, but everyone she asks for help from ends up and the wrong end of the creatures wrath, A creature we discover to be named Craig (Sean Harris) who lives in the abandoned rooms, offices and doctors surgeries that were built in case the aristocracy ever had to retreat underground during a war, but he knows about the human race only through the things he has observed by what happened in the rooms and he copies them…

The attraction for me with this film initially was the appearance of Potante, who I had really liked in the films Anatomie, Blow, Run Lola Run and two of the Bourne films. She’s atypical of the regular types that end up in these roles insomuch as she a actor of great skill, her characters always have a great tenacity and she doesn’t disguise her accent.

But this wasn’t all that attracted me to this film, it was the location, which I must expand upon.

My first ‘proper’ job was in the city of Sydney, and from my humble house in the suburbs, I had a fairly decent trip into work. I read hundreds and hundreds of horror novels in my time going back and forth, and like most people of those tender young ages, I dreamed myself to be a great horror novelist… it must be easy, right?

Anyway, when the trip got to the city, the train would go into the subway or underground or whatever you want to call it, and I’d stop reading and look out the window into the darkness. The idea of these dark caves under the technological wonders of modern society always were alluring, and my ideas for novels merged my experiences, with those of fantastical characters made out of hive-minded slugs and weird, sex-obsessed mutants (influenced by Shaun Hutson and H. P Lovecraft, no doubt).

When I first saw this film over ten years ago, when I reviewed it for the now-defunct Digital Retribution website, it reminded me of those days, both the experience of the tunnels, and the monsters living within them. I felt like Smith had reached into my skull and pulled out my idea and then thrown an actress that I really liked into it.

Sure, it’s is reminiscent of the 1972 Gary Sherman film Deathline, but only so much in its location. Smith claims that he had never heard of that film, and the differences are enough that I have no reason to not believe him saying that… especially when you consider it’s not necessarily a well known example of early 70s UK horror.

As I do these To Watch Pile After Dark Podcasts I am rewatching the films and honestly I wish I had have placed this higher as I hadn’t watched it for a while. The story is gripping, the gore is plentiful and the antagonist is disturbing, though like all good horror movies, there is that one scene that will make almost everyone wince just a little bit… and the rest cross their legs in terror!

It should be pointed out too, that Craig is played by Sean Harris, who played Ian Curtis of Joy Division in the docudrama 24 Hour Party People, Solomon Lane in a couple of Mission Impossible flicks, and Fifield in the surprising Alien prequel, Prometheus. This role could have been disappointing in the hands of a lesser actor, but Harris’ physicality brings something to the role.

If I am to point out anything that isn’t great about this film is the make up Harris has to wear. It’s a very generic ‘mutant’ make up that at time, under some light, just looks like a thickened cake mixture has been stuck to the poor actors face.

Smith went of to direct other interesting films as well, the follow up to this being 2006’s Severances, 2009’s Triangle and 2010’s Black Death, all films also worth checking out.

So that’s is, we’ve Creeped around all we can and this episode must come to a close. Thank you for listening to the To Watch Pile After Dark Podcast, and please, check out my other podcast, The Nerds of Oz, and my horror movie reviews at www.towatchpile.com. I’d really appreciate it too if you like the podcast, give me a 5 star rating and leave a comment.

Until next time,,.