Thursday, March 12, 2015

late night linus.

As you may have spotted there's been a slight delay in reviewing the rest of Frightfest due to the high quality of the films on show meaning it's much harder to take the piss.

So without further ado on with the show...

Barely recovered from the surprisingly super vinyl villainy of The Asylum (or Backmask or whatever it's called this week) Saturday mornings FrightFest fun kicked off with a classic killer clown caper in the form of  Jon Watts’....

Clown (2014).
Dir: Jon Watts (obviously).
Cast: Laura Allen, Andy Powers, Peter Stormare, Elizabeth Whitmere and Christian Distefano.

Loveable real estate agent and cuddly family guy Kent Clark (the instantly likeable Powers) ends up donning a clown costume he's found in a house he's selling after the entertainer he's booked for his son’s birthday party cancels at the last minute.

Yup, sounds legit.

Unfortunately the next morning our doting dad realises that the suit has started to attach itself to his body, even down to the foam red nose.

And if that wasn't strange enough our eponymous hero has started feeling very hungry.

For children.

And not I might add in a Savile way.

Tho' that's probably as bad.

The situation does have a wee bit of a silver lining tho' as Kent manages to track down the costumes previous owner, a man named Karlsson (cult fave Stormare) only to discover that he too had suffered the same terrible effects after wearing it.

You see, it turns out that the clown suit is, in reality the skin and hair of an ancient kiddie eating demon from Northern Europe named the "Cloyne", which is nice.

As a plus point tho' Kent also finds a way to stop the demon and regain his life.

And that's by sacrificing five children to it.

Much fun, gruesome child killings and clown-based hilarity ensues.

"Time to shoot your demon muck over your sisters jubblies!"

Actually living up to it's pre-screening hype, Watts' big screen movie debut is a surprisingly muted and almost camp free affair that brings to mind David Cronenberg's The Fly - as well as the Jim Carrey crapfest The Mask - in and it's painful portrayal of body transmogrification.

At least before the plot zooms off on a darkly comic kid-killing rampage which frankly is just the ticket for a Saturday morning.

A fantastic cast - special kudos to the wonderful Andy Powers - play the whole thing perfectly straight and to great effect with only Peter Stormare edging toward the camp corner, which after the uncomfortable winces at Kent's attempts to remove the costume and a couple of near child chewings manages to give some blessed relief from the movies disturbingly black heart.

Admittedly there's a real danger of it losing its way as the film races toward its bloody climax but luckily Watts and co-writer Christopher Ford manage to pull it back whilst delivering a surprisingly bleak ending.

Dead funny. 

No time to get our breaths back (but luckily time to pee) as the great god of cinema himself Sir Alan of Jones took to the stage to introduce  Arrow Films’ magnificent restoration of Mario Bava’s classic....

Blood and Black Lace (AKA Sei donne per l'assassino, Six Women for the Murderer. 1964)
Dir: Mario Bava.
Cast: Cameron Mitchell, Eva Bartok, Thomas Reiner and Ariana Gorini.

If you haven't already seen this then I suggest you hang your head in shame, then go straight out, buy it, watch it then come back when you've finished.

I'll still be here.

I mean who doesn't love the maestro's groovy fashion-based slasher centring  as it does around a group of chain-smoking models being pick off one by one by a fright-masked, leather-gloved killer?

Absolutely fucking gorgeous to look at and packed to the gills with the biggest collection of preening beauties, dippy designers and antsy addicts alongside quite possibly the greatest quiff ever seen on a police detective and all set to one of the coolest soundtracks ever written.

Cinematic perfection.

Coffee, cakes and a quick cigarette next as we prepared to head back into the Black Hills of Maryland with Russ Gomm’s documentary that goes behind the scenes of The Blair Witch Project.

The Woods Movie (2014).
Dir: Russ Gomm.
Cast: Eduardo Sánchez, Dan Myrick, Gregg Hale and some other folk.

With access to over 3 million years worth of footage recorded at the time, Gomm lovingly documents Blair Witch’s origins, planning and production, tracing the story from its very beginnings via audition tapes, do it yourself set decoration and spooking its lead actors in the woods to taking over the world at Sundance with asides and comments from  directors Sánchez and Myrick alongside producer Hale in what can only be described as not only the final word on a cinematic phenomena but also on the world of micro-budget, lo-fi film-making in general.

Those expecting a critique of the movie and it's subsequent changing of the horror landscape will probably be disappointed by Gomm's love letter a film which so obviously shaped his career and tastes but to be honest The Woods Movie is much better for it and remains a reminds us why we all took the movie to our hearts.

Recommended to anyone and everyone who's ever been tempted or attempted to make a movie.

From putting the willies up students in a forest to putting them up kids in cupboards next with Hans Herbot’s adaptation of Mo Hayder’s darkly disturbing crime novel...

The Treatment (AKA De Behandeling. 2014).
Dir: Hans Herbot.
Cast:  Geert Van Rampelberg, Ina Geerts and Johan van Assche.

The Treatment tells the tragic tale of Detective - on the verge of a nervous breakdown - Nick Cafmeyer, a man whose career and life have been haunted by the abduction of his younger brother by a pervy paedophile when they were kids.

A paedophile who, due to a technicality got away scott free and now spends his time harassing poor Nick with notes pertaining to tell the true fate of his sibling and by standing in his garden waving at him in a creepy manner.

Seriously you can smell the warm milk off the man thru' the screen.  

The whole sorry situation comes to a head tho' when reports come in of a family being held hostage and brutalized whilst their child is abducted in circumstances that mirror his own trauma.

Determined to catch those involved whilst laying his own demons to rest Nick is forced to relive his own nightmares and fears as he attempts to solve the case.

The Cannon and Ball starring Boys in Blue it isn't.

What it is tho' is one of the most powerful and disturbing crime thrillers in recent memory.

The subject matter is sensitively handled by Herbot, tho' he's a director not afraid to shy away from the grim and grimy horror inflicted on the films young victims and by proxy the lead character - a kind of Dutch Lieutenant subtly portrayed by Geert Van Rampelberg, The Treatment is a bleakly stylish thriller that handles it's themes of child trafficking and abuse in a surprisingly - and welcome - mature manner.

The films biggest shock tho' comes when the director explains how this (British) based novel couldn't get funded in the UK due to it's subject manner which just goes to show what a sorry state the UK film industry is in.

Hopefully a DVD release will be imminent for this must see shocker.

Just don't expect to get laid afterwards.

Time for a cigarette (or six) and a quick bleaching of the eyeballs next before the final(?) chapter in the frankly magnificent [REC] series.

And I'll admit upfront that I do indeed love [REC] 3 (yes it's my favourite one, deal with it) as well as going all wobbly kneed at the sight of the yumsome Manuela Velasco, so it was a forgone conclusion that I'd love this.

Demon-possessed monkeys and all.

[REC] 4: Apocalypse (2013).
Dir: Jaume Balagueró.
Cast: Manuela Velasco, Paco Manzanedo, Hector Colome, Ismael Fritschi and Mariano Venancio.

Following on directly after the climax of [REC] 2 (the third part actually comes first then runs parallel with the original [REC] continuity pedants) with ace TV reporter turned demon fighter Ángela Vidal (Velasco, meow. Twice) being rescued from the infected apartment block by a couple of hunky special forces types before waking up - clad only in a paper tea towel - on a government commandeered merchant navy ship in the middle of the ocean.

With only the most ineffectual group of sailors this side of Captain Pugwash,   Clara's mother-in-law (from [REC] 3), some trigger happy soldiers, assorted boffins and the Spanish Nick Frost (La isla de los nominados' Fritschi) for company our beloved heroine must face down a rapidly growing army of demons and a hold full of killer monkeys before the ships self destruct is triggered.

Fast, furious and incredibly silly, [REC] 4 might not break any new ground or be as genuinely terrifying as the first movie but fell for it hook, line and sinker and I'm not ashamed to admit it.

The most fun to be had with the possessed since Army of Darkness, hate it and be a crushing horror snob forever.

And on to the final film of the Fest of Fright, Jay Dahl’s mysterious reworking of his short of the same name....

There Are Monsters (2014).
Dir: Jay Dahl.
Cast: Matthew Amyotte, Jason Daley, Kristin Langille and Michael Ray (not Jay) Fox.

Whilst travelling across country gathering testimonials from successful former graduates of their college, four film student pals begin to notice that people around them are acting strangely.

Firstly in subtle ways, clothes on inside out and badly applied lipstick become more and more noticable to the foursome as do the fact that more and more people are standing perfectly still in the distance with their backs turned toward our travelling band.

And then there are those whose smiles are just way too large...

From it's genuinely jumpy pre-credits sequence to it's pulse pounding finale, Dahl's film definitely split the crowd into those who happily leaped headfirst into the directors headfuck nightmare and those too terminally staid to see past it's faux-found footage feel and extremely choppy editing style.

Like JT Petty's cult classic the sublime Soft for Digging, There are Monsters is the type of movie perfect for audience interpretation.

I mean of course it's a monster movie in the classic Invasion of The Body Snatchers vein but it also works as a story about delusional misidentification (or Capgras syndrome) writ large, or about how those with ASD (autism spectrum disorder) are viewed by/or view the world.

It's totally up to you.

One criticism aimed at the film has been its sometimes disorienting camera work with it's off focus scenes and covered lens conversations, which if taken as a result of the footage belonging to the students can be seen as a genuine concern.

I mean they're film students, surely they know how to frame a shot?

But if you assume that the footage is actually from the point of view of the movie-goer, making them an actual character in the film then it makes perfect sense.

The camera literally transforms into our eyes and ears, reacting as we would under stress, hiding our eyes, turning away, trying to block out the unpleasantness unfolding around us.

We are the camera and the camera is us, ironically in a film about change and deception and the importance of individuality it's us, the audience who transform first.

We become the film we are watching.

And in this disposable culture it's ironic that we become a digital medium rather than good old celluloid.

There Are Monsters is one of the few horror films that stayed with me for days after and, if you let it, will do the same to you.

And I for one can't thank Jay Dahl enough.

Long live the new flesh.

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