Sunday, April 9, 2017

h.p. source.

So I decided to watch one of those modern films that the cool kids keep talking about and not just that, I watched one that has been hailed as the future of horror.

In the small midwestern - possibly in Pennsylvania - jumbo-eyed junkie James (Stern - not the radio shock jock) frighteningly flees from a farmhouse and into the woods as a couple of check-shirted shotgun toting townies - a never named father and son who for the sake of this review we will call Dick and Dom.

This will be less confusing later seeing as the father is actually played by someone called Fathers who strangely enough looks bizarrely like a younger, fitter Richard Liberty - whilst the son is played by a council estate Matt Damon.

Under the pseudonym Mik Byskov.

As you can see he doesn't have his character name in his actual name.

But he does have the word 'boy' in it tho' which you might call your son.

Anyway I digress.

It seems this pair have been busying themselves madly shooting shit and dosing women in petrol before setting light to them.

So far so The Crazies.

But it's not 1973 and this isn't one of Romero's finest (after Bruiser obviously) - we're actually in 2017 and experiencing the neon nightmare that is.....

The Void (2016).
Dir: Steven Kostanski and Jeremy Gillespie.
Cast: Ellen Wong, Aaron Poole, Evan Stern, Kathleen Munroe, Art Hindle, Daniel Fathers, Mik Byskov, Gracie Munro, James Millington, Stephanie Belding and Kenneth Walsh.

This is hell!

Meanwhile a wee bit further down the road, lank-haired deputy sheriff Daniel Carter (Poole - a near perfect amalgamation of Nic Cage, Daniel Roebuck and David Arquette but wearing his dads shirt) is enjoying a nice nap in his warm police car.

His dreams of trains and tunnels are rudely interrupted not by the dustman but by James tumbling out of the bushes and into the road.

Being a nice guy - and wanting to move the plot forward Carter bundles him into the car and takes him to the local hospital where by some strange quirk of fate and convenient storytelling his estranged wife Alison (the scarily long-faced Munroe) works as a nurse.

Well I'm assuming she's a nurse, I mean she's dressed like one but then again so is the feisty intern Kim (Wong from Scott Pilgrim but don't hold that against her) and she seems to know fuck all about medicine and seems much more interested in paying homage to the bit in Nightmare City when the lovely Mrs. Miller chats to Phil about his ailment.

Thinking about it I should have heard the alarm bells as soon as it started riffing Umberto Lenzi really.

But it's OK as before you have time to consider the ramifications of this frankly freaky homage we've moved into Assault On Precinct 13 territory, you see the hospital was gutted by a fire recently so it's officially closed with only a handful of staff on call and two patients - the pregnant Maggie (Munro looking for all the world like Lynn Lowry circa I Drink Your Blood) who's accompanied by her grampa Ben (Darkman II's Millington) and some bloke called Cliff Killedsoon who is so instantly forgettable as to not being listed on IMDB.

Travesty of justice or lucky escape?

You decide.

Tinky Winky's let himself go.

Arriving at the hospital Carter is met by the enigmatic Dr. Peter Powell (Twin Peaks Windom Earle himself Walsh - so he'll be the baddie then), nurse Beverly (Belding - wife of Saved By The Bell's Richard), the aforementioned Kim and Alison giving the pair a chance to exchange longing glances across a gurney.

After a few minutes of backstory chat (they split up due to their son dying during childbirth - selfish sod) and mugs of coffee Carter makes his excuses and sneaks off for a wee only to come across (not in that way) Beverly sticking a pair of scissors into Cliff's eye (son) before attempting to remove her face.

Carter does what any self respecting policeman would do in that situation and shoots her dead before collapsing due to a seizure.

Cue a couple of trippy hippy visions cut to the ominous sound of a cow mooing.

Same scene, different shit.

As the entire cast run around trying to figure out what just happened the gruff state trooper Cameron Mitchell (Hindle from The Brood) turns up demanding that James be handed over to him immediately.

If not sooner.

It seems that the farmhouse slayings haven't gone unnoticed and that Mitchell (having a nicer hat) is now in charge.

Carter heads out to his car to radio the station regarding the situation only to be confronted by a gaggle of robed cultists who attack him without warning before he manages to crawl back inside the hospital only to find a terrified James being attack by the corpse of Beverly which has transformed into a slimy multi-tentacle beast.

Which is nice.

As Carter and Mitchell attempt to rescue James from a fate usually reserved for cartoon Japanese schoolgirls Dick and Dom burst into the hospital and angrily hold everyone at gunpoint.

It appears they have unfinished business with James.

"Aye son!"

James - being a bad druggie type - takes Maggie hostage and in the ensuing confusion stabs Dr. Powell in the neck.

There's no time for recriminations tho' (well not yet) as no sooner has he fallen to the floor when the Beverly beast reappears dragging Mitchell of to his doom.

Being experienced monster botherers (kinda) Dick and Dom easily kill the creature before returning the others in order to shout angrily about things.

Because there's nothing like a wee bit of tension to up the stakes.

Stopping the manly pissing/dick measuring competition long enough to formulate  a plan of attack/escape/something to pass the time Dick and Dom agree to accompany Carter to retrieve his shotgun from a patrol car but just as they're about to venture outside Maggie begins to fart loudly which as everyone reading knows means she's about to give birth.

Alison volunteers to go into the basement (alone) to collect medical supplies for delivering the baby  little realizing that Powell has risen from the dead and is hiding in the morgue waiting to pounce.

"Shite in mah mooth!"

Concerned for Alison's safety Carter goes to look for her only to receive a phone call from Powell in order to explain bits of the plot whilst taunting him with regards to the vision he experienced earlier.

Just in case we hadn't realized that Powell is involved Dick comes across a box of Polaroids featuring pictures of dead bodies and the good doctor in a white robe holding a hood exactly like the cultists wear.

Yup, think we got it thanks.

With Kim - and Ben - looking after Maggie Carter, Dick and Dom - convinced that James knows more than he's letting on - decide to torture the poor fella for a bit in the hope of discovering useful stuff.

Under threat of a particularly nasty Chinese Burn,  James breathlessly explains how Powell has the power to transform people into monsters and runs a sex cult to those ends.

Which makes about as much sense as anything else happening I guess.

Convinced by all this meta-psychical sub Lovecraftian nonsense (and hoping to get invited to one of Powell's parties)  the three men drag James with them as they head into the basement to find Alison and confront the doctor.

"Is it in yet?"

Meanwhile Alison awakes to find herself strapped naked to an operating table whilst Powell explains how he has discovered a way to hold back death.

Think that scene in Re-Animator but without the joy of Barbara Crampton's frankly magnificent breasts.

Approaching the Alison in a manner usually reserved for Disney villains and slightly drunk old men Powell pulls back her bedding to reveal that her tummy has been replaced with a hastily painted plastic bag attached to a hair dryer to make it move about in a comedy manner.

No hang on I think it means that something is growing in her belly.

My bad.

Fantastic breasts and where to find them (it's 1hr and 5 mins in if you're interested).

As all this pervy pregnancy stuff is going down Carter, Dick, Dom and James are having a few troubles of their own seeing as the hospitals dimensions appear to be shifting and changing leaving them stuck in a room full of horribly mutated corpses brought back to life by Powell during his initial experiments.

almost instantly James - now being superfluous to the plot is killed whilst the three amigos are separated as they run for cover.

Meanwhile back upstairs Maggie is either going into labour (Corbin will be pleased) or having a massive poo - either way she begs Kim to perform a C-section.

Or a mildly erotic dance, take your pick.

But on accounts of being the worse medic this side of Harold Shipman Kim just stands about screaming only stopping when Maggie - desperate for something interesting to happen - cuts her granddads throat.

Turns out that Maggie is in fact carrying Dr. Powell’s child.

As in that's the baby in her tummy, she's not got it in a rucksack.

As the creepy cutists enter the building Kim decides to hide in a cupboard.

Maggie may.....or may not.

Back in the basement and Carter has so far been unsuccessful in finding anything of consequence to move the plot forward but has found his ex-wife.

Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you feel about Japanese porn) she's been transformed into a multi-tentacled baby machine by the evil Powell.

Realizing that he'll never find a dress to fit her Carter kills her with an axe before being suddenly transported onto the set of The Neon Demon where Powell proceeds to tell our hero that he has found the ability to conquer life and death.

He promises to give Carter the secret but only if he embraces death first.

Sounds legit.

Told you.

Before he can answer tho' Maggie appears and stabs him in the back.

As Carter crawls toward the massive florescent triangle on the wall Powell finally reveals what he's been up to in the basement - constructing an almost perfect Uncle Frank from Hellraiser suit in order to knock 'em dead at the next horror con.


I mean there's no other reason to have him in a skin (free) latex suit other than in tribute to that Clive Barker classic.

Tho' if they were real horror fans they'd have dressed him as Rawhead Rex and have done with it.

Cop a load of this!

As Maggie kneels before him,  Powell begins to recite a spooky incantation that causes the pregnant girls stomach to explode as she gives birth to the biggest and unintentionally (I hope) funny monster this side of Alien Resurrection's Newborn which then proceeds to stomp on the cultists heads whilst dragging its mum around by the umbilical cord.

Which is kinda worth the price of admission alone if I'm honest.

It's a pity then that Dick and Dom arrive almost immediately and set fire to it.

As the dynamic duo battle the beast baby Carter can only watch in mid apathy as Powell - in a scene reminiscent of an even more 80s version of Stars In Their Eyes but with dodgier wigs - begins his final transformation.

Powell informs Carter that he can still be with Alison.

But only if he gives himself to the abyss.

Which isn't too bad a deal if you think about it, I mean it's much better than having to swear allegiance to Titanic or Avatar.

At least you'd get to rewatch Ed Harris occasionally.

Playschool's windows have gone to the dogs a wee bit since Brexit.

Will Carter choose his wife over his humanity?

Will Dick and Dom survive their encounter with the baby from Hell?

Will Kim make it out of the cupboard alive?

Or will the directors go from playful homage to straight up imagination free rip-off for the climax, leaving the audience feeling slightly cheated?

Go on guess.

From Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski - members of the 80's-centric, independent Winnipeg-based film production initiative Astron 6 - The Void created a massive buzz late last year with it's decidedly old-school, John Carpenter style vibe and practical effects promising a glorious return to the heady days of pre-cert potboilers and unabashed body horror.

And in some ways the film delivers.

The first 45 minutes is a perfect blend of everything from Assault on Precinct 13 to Prince of Darkness via From Beyond and Shivers and with a smidgen of Silent Hill and even Lordi's Dark Floors for good measure (amongst others) tautly plotted and perfectly cast with just enough of a mix of mystery and homage to keep the viewer intrigued but all that changes as soon as the characters venture forth into the bowels of the hospital and the film doesn't as much run out of steam as grind to a spluttering halt as the cast wonder aimlessly from one movie reference to another desperately searching for a satisfying climax.

Frustrating doesn't cover it as I went from edge of my seat terror to tapping my watch to see if it had stopped, getting more and more fidgety as time passed, desperately wishing that the film would recover and make a last grasp at gory glory.

Unfortunately it doesn't, preferring instead to throw it's hands in the air and shout  "Fuck it" before just copying the ending of The Beyond shot for shot in the hope that no-one has ever seen it.

Or by this point cares. 

As an aside (which may be useful to any aspiring film makers reading) if a viewers only thought coming away from a horror movie is "That's not how placental abruption works" you kinda know you've arsed up the whole new dimension in terror thing.

just saying.

Have you seen this?
So have they.....Twice.

I may sound overly harsh but I'd rather the whole thing been shite than see something so brilliant degenerate so quickly.

A bit like your mum with a drink in her.

Whilst never reaching the dizzying heights of Astron 6's previous feature The Editor it's probably still worth a look - just don't believe the hype and fast forward thru' the last half and despite the faults I'm actually fairly excited to see what the pair do next.

Unless it's sending me hate filled emails.

It's happened before.


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