Thursday, September 13, 2012

naked video.

Everybody's been talking about it, t'interweb's full of it and some folk have even seen it.

But is V/H/S really the pervy pinnacle of found footage horror or a straight to video vagabonds breakfast?

A word of warning by the way, this review may contain spoilers.

And nuts.

V/H/S (2012)
Dir: David Bruckner, Glenn McQuaid, Radio Silence, Joe Swanberg, Ti West and Adam Wingard.
Cast: Calvin Reeder, Lane Hughes, Helen Rogers, Hannah  Fierman, Joe Swanberg, Adam Wingardand, Sophia Takala and load more other folk but seeing as this isn't the IMDB you can look them up yourself.

"I like you".

So, what does happen when a gaggle of indie horror directors (and their pals) get together to create the ultimate found-footage anthology?

Apart for copious amounts of boozing, competitions to see who has the coolest beard and giggling at topless girls obviously? 

Well in this case we get five short vignettes tucked up snugly between a perfunctory  linking tale involving what seems like the Jackass teams more punchable relatives attempting to steal an old man's video collection on the orders of an unseen benefactor.

In between them pissing up peoples doors, making rude phone calls and ripping ladies tops off.

This is cutting edge and rebellious film-making after all which means we're gonna get served up a more Rock N Roll style version of the kinda movie Amicus used to churn out but this time featuring homages to everything from 80's slashers, to the spooky occult genre via a wee bit of torture porn and haunted house hijinks but with the added bonus of breasts and bush.


My nan is.

I wish that was all it took.

Anyway back to the wraparound where Jimmy Knoxvale and his funny frat buddies  are currently searching the old (and fairly dead) mans abode for his video stash.

There are cassettes everywhere covering everything from Diff'rent Strokes to The Royal Wedding but the tapes they're required to steal feature something special.

Something unique.

The Tenth Planet episode 4 anyone?

As our bad boy band begin to view each tape, they fail to realize that a dark and sinister plot is unfolding around them and that by morning they may all be as dead as Betamax.

Or at the very least have really sore backs from sitting hunched up on the floor whilst peering at slowly unfolding tales in the dark.

They'll all need glasses if they're not careful.

A wee bit like geeky Clint in the first tale.

Only his hide a sneaky webcam.

And the reason for this?

Well it appears that the aforementioned Clint, alongside his friends Shane and Patrick have rented a hotel room for the night with the sole intention of bringing back boozed up birds that they can film having 'the sex' with.

No idea what excuse they'll use for having to share a pair of specs tho'.

A hint of pant yesterday.

The three amigos decide to hit the town where sexy Shane almost immediately meets a squint eyed sauce-pot called Lisa and, after a few Bud Lights begins flirting as only men in movies can.

He isn't alone tho' as specky Clint soon notices a painfully Pre-Raphaelite-like brunette giving him googly eyes (not literally mind you that would be just sick) from the bar whilst constantly mouthing "I like you..." at him.

With Patrick unable to even pull a muscle the guys decide to head back to the hotel with Lisa (cross-eyed) and Lily (big-eyed) in tow, entertaining themselves along the way with a big bag of cocaine and a CD of abysmal MoR rock.
"Tracking's dodgy ain't it!"

No sooner have they opened the door and piled into the room than Shane starts writhing about on the bed, a wee bit like your mum and dad after a tipsy new year, with Lisa who luckily for all involved soon passes out with an almighty fart.

And you thought romance was dead.

Patrick, sprawled across the sofa with his pants round his knees finds the whole situation fairly amusing which annoys Shane no end (you can tell this by the fact that his facial expression goes from slightly constipated to  straining hard), especially when loopy Lily makes a move on dear old Clint.

Shane, frustrated at the fact that he has a mild erection and nowhere to stick it decides to he wants a wee bit of Lily lovin' too causing the chivalrous Clint to head off to the toilet for a pee.

What a guy eh ladies?

Giving it a good shake he returns to the wannabe orgy to find Shane waiting for him to start undressing Lily on camera whilst, in the background Patrick rubs his legs in the manner of a cold sprinter.

Erotic does not even begin to describe the scene.

"Is it in yet?"

With the room awash in testosterone, sweat and stale semen, our horny heroes fail to notice that Lily has grown a giant pair of comedy chicken feet and that her back is starting to sprout hair, being more interested in staring at her (admittedly shapely) breasts than anything else.

Except Clint that is, who needs the toilet.


Unable to piss due to the slopping noises from the next room, Clint reckons his best option would be to hide in the toilet till everyone’s asleep then skulk off home for a (much safer) tearful wank and a Pot Noodle.

But his dream of a quiet evening of onanism and starchy snacks is ruined by Patrick, who bursts into the toilet screaming that Lily has bitten him.

What a girl.

Suddenly the whole apartment is filled with even more screaming, this time from Shane due to the fact that Lily has accidentally bitten his face off.

Patrick, still nude and standing proud, grabs the shower curtain rail from the bathroom and takes a run at the by now blood soaked beast babe (and yes, her breasts are bloodied) in a frankly ludicrous attempt to at least put something in her, but to no avail as Lily makes a grab for him as he advances and kills the poor bloke to death before eating his cock.


Clint meanwhile, being one of the few males on earth not totally turned on by the thought of shagging a flesh-eating succubus runs to the door and makes a run for the motel stairs but not too surprisingly makes an arse of it and falls down them breaking his wrist in the process.

And yes dear reader, it is indeed his wanking hand.

Luckily a now naked and blood encrusted Lily has appeared and, after telling him again how much she likes him, attempts to give the understandably nervous guy a blow job.

She must have taken lessons from FHM's babe of the year, the honey skinned X Factor judge Tulisa Contostavlos tho' seeing as rather than giving Clint a lapful of cum she just causes him a faceful of tears.


Tulisa: Put your lips together and blow.

Devastated by Clint's lack of response, Lily scuttles into the corner and starts crying (hang on, are you sure it isn't actually Tulisa?) giving Clint enough time to waddle into the carpark and beg a passing extra for help.

His feeble attempts at escape have been in vain tho' as a now bat-winged Lily swoops out of the sky and carries Clint off to her (quite literal) love nest.

And all this in under 15 minutes....phew.

After a patchy pre-credits/wraparound section (featuring the most unrealistic gang ever to grace the screen),  director David Bruckner starts proceedings good n' proper with his wildly entertaining tale of terrifying tottie that plays out like a classic EC strip dragged kicking and screaming into the digital age and features possibly the sexiest split-headed hairy hoofed succubus ever to appear on the big (or little) screen courtesy of a fantastically freaky performance from Hannah  Fierman.

Imagine a demonic, sexed up love child of Shelley Duvall and Barbara Steele on crack and you're halfway there, I could have watched her chewing on naked jocks all night.

Which is a pity really
for no sooner have we begun to truly appreciate how good a skinny girl can look covered in blood that we're back to the Red Hand Gang in the house gurning at a couple of off-tune monitors.

Don't worry too much tho' as next up is another pert arse, this time belonging to Sophia Takal and directed by the toptastic Ti West.

What could possibly go wrong?

Fierman: Don't mention the war.

Ladies and gentlemen please welcome drippy married couple Sam and Stephanie, the wettest things I've seen on screen since they found Natalie Wood's slippers.

Our cardboard couple are heading 'out west' for a second honeymoon, taking in  Wild West themed towns, sandy mountains and creepy mechanical fortune tellers along the way.

Popping a coin in the fortune tellers greasy slot Stephanie is told that she will be visited by a loved one very soon, which is odd seeing as she's with her doting hubby.

You don't reckon that this could be one of those 'let's kill off a hated partner and run away with a lover' scenarios could it?

"Shite in mah shiny plastic mooth".

Later that very eve the couple are visited (off camera) by a strange woman trying to sell them some pegs but Sam, being a cautious type comes up with some story about being scared of gypsies and quickly slams the door.

Thinking nothing of it the pair go to bed for the evening but are later visited by an unseen assailant who decides to have a wee bit of fun with their video camera.

Must be giro day.

After stealing cash from Sam's wallet and cleaning the toilet with his tooth brush the mystery figures disappears into the night, leaving our drippy duo none the wiser but $100 dollars poorer.

It's not all bad tho' as it gives Sam a reason to bitch at Stephanie (in between standing on rocks) the next day.

Beware the binmen!

That very night, the masked stranger returns to their room but this time they have more than dental hygiene on their mind.

Sneaking over to a snoring Sam the intruder stabs him in the neck before waking Stephanie for a quick snog and a wee fondle.

But that's not all.

The killer is a lady and saucy Stephanie's one-time lesbian lover, yup she'll be the loved one that the fortune teller spoke of.


The tarty twosome leave the motel together for a life of cats and scissoring as  Stephanie reminds her lover to erase the tape.


I haveta admit that i simply adore West's other work and was more excited about this section than any other,  the set-up for the tale is great, everything unfolding in the director's trademark leisurely style but then it's almost as if he remembers he's making a short then BLAM! it just ends.

Less of a shock climax more of a why the fuck rather than what the fuck, like getting a sharp poke in the ribs off a fat man sitting down in the seat beside you just as the movies starting.

Must Ti harder.


Watch out John Leslie's about.

It's a quick revisit to the video watchdog gang before we're off for a weekend in the woods and our next terrifying tale, this time it centres around the toothsome Wendy and her pals  Joey, Spider and Samantha.

Planning to spend a drunken weekend in the woods near Wendy's house, our freaky foursome totally fail to notice the dead bodies that keep appearing at random intervals on their camcorder being more interested in skinny dipping and smoking the marijuana.

At least until Wendy deadpans that they're all going to get killed.

To death.


Trainspotting: All talkin' Scotch.

Yup, turns out that it's a year ago to the very day that wacky Wendy was attacked in the woods by a bad man who, rather impolitely massacred her pals and now she's returned with a handy bunch of new victims to draw the killer out into the open so she can extract her revenge.

But that's not all.

You see it turns out that the killer is, in fact made up entirely of 6th generation video tape static, meaning her can appear from nowhere and fast forward around the place like a lo-fi Road Runner.

Which is nice if not a little far-fetched.

Cue a couple of gruesome teen murders coupled with a collection of  William Heath Robinson style traps courtesy of Wendy and a(nother) nihilistic ending that leaves the viewer with a terrible feeling of apathy.

By this point, Everyone Dies at The End would be a more appropriate title, but at least segment director Glenn McQuaid (yup, he who designed the titles for The Innkeepers) tries to make the whole thing look interesting.

Just a pity it's over so quickly.

Oh and so inconsequential obviously.

"I'm 14 and love Justin Bieber too! Now get your webcam on and your shirt off!"

Hopefully director Joe Swanberg (Sam from the Ti West segment) can liven things up with his tale of spooks, spirits and Skype.

Troughton haired tottie Emily spends most of her waking time on video chat (ask your teenage neighbour) to her medical student boyfriend James, partly due to her being incredibly wet and needy but mainly due to the fact that she thinks her new apartment is haunted.

James being the sensible type (you can tell by his Cosby style sweater) reckons she's talking shite but humours her all the same.

Obviously he's wanting a shag on his next visit and who could blame him? There's a distinct lack of skinny, mentalist librarian types on the market these days.

Anyway back to the plot where, as well as the spooky noises and banging doors Emily has found a strange lump on her arm and is sure there's a ghostly child in her bath.

Even tho' her landlord has denied any murders or deaths in her house and James still thinks she's imagining stuff he agrees one night to lead Emily around the house by her webcam whilst she keeps her eyes closed.

Can anyone else see this ending badly?

Rogers: Just wait till the fucking starts.

Of all the segments this is the one that works best, with a climax that comes straight out of nowhere (hence my not giving it away) and that's genuinely scary.

 The Twilight Zone on Meth is the best way of summing up this little piece of horror heaven that marks Swanberg as a man to watch.


 We're on the home stretch now and it's Halloween night 1998 where best buddies (and geniune nice guys for a change) Chad, Matt, Tyler and Paul are preparing to spend the night at a party on the other side of town.

 Arriving at the house the group are surprised to find it empty but thinking it's all part of the Halloween spirit decide to take a look around, the moving plates and spooky noises convincing them that it's actually all been rigged up as a rather fantastic (if not slightly over the top) haunted house attraction. think so?

Hearing chanting from the attic the friends mount the stairs and get set to party but unfortunately rather than a room of beer, babes and bostin' tunes they accidentally  interrupt a group of people seemingly abusing a nightie clad young blonde girl tied to a cross.


Laugh now.

Thinking it's part of the show the pals soon realize the truth when the leader of the gang (no, not that one) starts floating around like a pikey balloon, strange hands emerge from the walls and the other cult members are pulled up to the ceiling by their belt loops.

Being heroic types the guys decide to beat the baddies and rescue the girl, not realizing that there was probably a good reason for her being tied up in her night clothes in the first place.

As they reach the front door the whole house goes creepily crazy; plates fly around like flying saucers, the walls start doing impressions of Repulsion and a cat shits on the carpet causing our heroes to smash in a few back doors (ooeer) before racing to the car.

Insert cock here.

Driving away they begin to question the woman, who much to their surprise disappears from the backseat before re-appearing in front of the windscreen, all big hair and open mouthed screaming scary nonsensical words at them.

Which I'm assuming is not what they were expecting.

Suddenly the car starts to move by itself and the friends what as the witchy  woman disappears  into the night.

Realizing too late that their car is on the train tracks the brickin' it buddies desperately try to break free as the 10:15 from Manchester approaches whilst back at the tramps house, someone is offing the video pirates one by one.

The final story, from the video collective known as Radio Silence is a hellzaboppin' cinematic ghost train ride that ends the movie on a much deserved high.

Well it would if we didn't have to go back to the piss poor framing story and one final 'shock'.

Possibly a better use for old VHS tapes.

It was always obvious that V/H/S would never live up to the hype surrounding it, unless you're a 15 year old Rob Zombie fan that is but as an experiment in pushing the boundaries of the found footage genre it can't be faulted for trying.

Which is more than can be said for it's execution.

For one it's this very format, coupled with the portmanteau approach that provides the biggest hurdle to the movie.

The nature of both genres meaning that precious screen time has to be taken up with various bits of character exposition and story set up, writers like Rod Serling and to a lesser extent Amicus' Milton Subotsky excelled at producing clear, concise characters and scenarios. True sometimes they were clichéd but at least they worked within the script.

The problem here is that on a few occasions the set up is dispensed with completely leaving us with a 20 minute tale featuring lowest common denominator stock characters who wander around swearing before being violently killed.

After the third of fourth time we've experienced this it all gets a wee bit tiring – let alone by the time you get to the fifth.

Fierman: Don't mention the boots.

As with all anthologies there are a couple of stories that stand head and shoulders over the others whilst one (or two) seem only to be there cos the directors bothered to turn up.

Still it's worth seeing if only for Hannah  Fierman's scary demon feet, possibly the most erotic thing I've seen onscreen this year.

Just one thing still bugs me tho'.

Who the fuck filmed the gang filming themselves filming the tapes?

Answers to the usual email.

1 comment:

Carl Bachmann said...

VHS was a cool concept but seemed like it could be executed a little better. The majority of the twists were pretty decent, and the girl in the first tape was pretty freaky, but I felt like some of the directors took shortcuts in there respective shorts. Especially the killer who only appears when the tracking on the tape fucks up. Decent twist, but a pretty lame conclusion. Think these videos would've reached a larger audience as webisodes rather than a feature film, but that may have destroyed any economic incentive for the filmmakers to make this series.