Directed by: Drew Bolduc & Dan Nelson
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
This boys, and girls is the shit!
Never mind the videonasties… here’s the moral panic! The one show that put the Swedish video debate right up front and centre and caused a national panic unlike anything ever seen before. And this all happened before the infamous British Nasties controversy.
The programme Studio-S, a weekly debate show aired on Swedish TV, but only one single episode was so potent that it changed the country forever. At this point in time their where only two channels in Sweden. No cable, no satellite, nothing. Just Channel 1 and Channel 2. Here where voices being raised in parliament about the easy accessibility of violent and sexual deviant videos. Most of the movies seemed to be filled with sadistic death and perverted sex. Obviously something that parents wouldn’t want their kids to be watching. And things took a turn for the worse when it was noticed that some of the titles on display in the video stores had previously been banned theatrically in Sweden. Remember this is the country that has the oldest ever board of censors!
So being the only forum to discuss the growing problem, national television got in on the game. They sent out a meaty press release proclaiming that they where going to scrutinise the new phenomena of rental video’s and their content. They where also going to air clips from the programme and warned sensitive viewers of the material to be show.
Now just imagine what this meant to me as a young lad going on eleven… I can’t really remember how I came to see that show, but I certainly remember laying headlong down the staircase, sneaking a peak out of the side of my eyes, trying my damndest not to be caught by my parents who where sat watching. We obviously had a video recorder and the stuff that we where allowed to watch is certainly stuff I would never have shown my own kids at that tender age. Wei Lo’s, Bruce Lee vehicle, Fists of Fury 1972 and Ivan Hall’s Kill or Be Killed 1980, where amongst the first films I ever saw on video and they undoubtedly where a vital part of laying the foundation of my passion for alternative cinema. Anyway, my restrained view, and jackass-like balancing trick down the staircase, never really allowed me to see much of the show or the clips, but holy crap did that audio stay with me for a long time. Just imagine hearing the audio of Leatherface’s first appearance in the hallway, snatching up Teri McMinn, dragging her into that back room, hanging her on that meat hook and cranking up that Poulan 245A chainsaw and not seeing the images to accompany it. Boy, my imagination went rampant. The weeks that followed saw my mates and I talk about nothing but that show and the movies we made up claiming to have seen on rented tapes where certainly stuff that still is way too wild to ever have been made, and only a short while later we where crossing off the corrupting titles of that list of no-no’s. And when we worked our way through them, there was loads more to go through, that’s when I fist encountered the Italian stuff!
Nevertheless the programme generated a horrific spin that saw rental shops raided, new laws passed demanding age limits be mandatory and anyone renting tapes to minors and even displaying a range of titles would be taken to court. A bunch of blokes where taken to court and fined and a couple more in it’s wake. Obviously time changed and new things where determined to be dangerous and the focus shifted. Today nobody really raises an eyebrow about video violence and the age limits for watching movies have also become a lot more modest. But back then that one show created a wildfire of moral panic and definitely spawned a whole generation of horror movie fans.
Amongst them the legendary Sven-Erik Olsson, called by some, the funniest man in Sweden. However more than a funny guy, SEO is also a true enthusiast who, not only has a string of hilarious movies to his resume, but has also been a driving force behind a lot of really classic genre cinema releases for the last decades. Recently he’s been getting smaller movies up on national screens to critical and box-office acclaims. Four years ago he named his company Studio-S after the infamous programme and for the last few years he’s been releasing titles connected to the show and finally a long labour of love has been birthed. The Studio-S & Videovåldet box set.
An iconic leading lady, who it would be an understatement to claim being the most important of all the Hammer Horror women. Definitely the most sensual actress that ever walked through Bray studios in a skimpy transparent nightdress. I grew up with Ingrid Pitt. I really did. As a child I used to read the Hammer Horror comics, where she was featured quite often. The older I got, the more I started watching the movies, not to forget her reoccurring parts in Doctor Who adventures. I obviously started reading the books on Hammer and Pitt, and naturally I started seeking out her other movies when I got into collecting videos.
Pitt brought something else to the screen in the movies she figured in. Be it the Hammer stuff ranging from Roy Ward Baker’s Vampire Lovers 1970 to the reboot web series Beyond the Rave 2008. The Amicus film The House that Dripped Blood 1971, the gritty war movies, the TV serial appearances or just the small parts that she held in movies like Brian Hutton’s Where Eagles Dare 1968 or Robert Hardy’s The Wickerman 1973, there was just something special about her that really reached out from the screen.
It shows, and that may be that presence that shines though with her movies. Ingrid will never fade away from the memories of so many nights watching her great performances on screen. A legend in her own time who's untimely deptarture has left me shocked and sad as this was completely unexpected.
Until you feel the urge to drink our blood once again,
Rest In Peace Ingrid Pitt!
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Nude for Satan
Original Title: Nuda per Satana
Directed by: Luigi Batzella
Occult / Sexploitatiom, 90min
Distributed by: Njuta Films
Dr Benson [Stelio Candelli] on his way to an emergency call to the Whitmore house get’s himself lost and instead comes upon a “crashed” car. Being the good doctor that he is, he stops, gets out and finds Susan [Rita Caleroni] amongst the wreck. Promising to return with help he takes off to the large mysterious castle he previously asked directions at. Roaming around the eerie mansion he comes across a woman who looks just like Susan, and she insists on calling him Peter. Peter, who she claims to have been waiting for, for so long… Somewhile later Susan arrives at the castle too only to meet a man who looks just like Benson. With them both in the castle and a sinister strange man, [James Harris], taunting and luring them on, a surreal erotic nightmare starts to unravel as the Benson and Susan wander the dark corridors in search for each other.
Batzelli also edited the most of his movies himself, Nude for Satan was no exception, and perhaps this is where some of his greatest talent came into play as the movie is pretty effectively assembled. In all honesty it’s really only the sex scenes that linger on too long primarily due to the graphic inserts. Due to their obvious different actors, sets and sloppy editing, I can't help but asking the question if Batzelli himself actually inserted the scenes, or if it was under protest, driven by some greedy producer or distributor. These scene have obviously not been given the same attention as the rest of the movie. Whatever be the reason, the movie, strangely, failed miserably at the Italian box office at the time.
16x 9 widescreen, Color.
English dub, with optional Swedish, Danish, Finnish and Norweigan subtitles.
Original Trailer, Slideshow and trailers for Sergio Greico’s The Sinful Nuns of St. Valentine, Alfredo Rizzo’s The Bloodsucker Leads the Dance, Enzo G. Castellari’s Cold Eyes of Fear, Walerian Borowczyk’s The Beast and Renato Polselli’s Black Magic Rites.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Directed by: Gareth Edwards
Drama/Horror/Road Movie, 94min
A probe returns to earth after NASA discover an alien life form in our solar system. But after the probe explodes during re-entry, crashing into Central America, a new life form starts to take hold of the jungle. Six years later, an “Infected Zone” separates America from Mexico. When the monsters in the zone start to attack outside the zone, freelance journalist Andrew [Scoot McNairy] is assigned to the task of getting his employers daughter, Samantha [Whitney Able], safely out of Mexico. Pretty soon they find that greed and corruption are at apparent even in times of crisis, and they are forced to take a route though the perilous Infected Zone to manage their return to American soil.
Comparing Monsters to District 9 would be wrong. There’s nothing that really connects them apart from the fact that aliens are part of our world. It wouldn’t be fair to compare it to something like Cloverfield either, as that movie kicks off hard from the start and just slows down as it goes along. The Mist isn’t too far off despite it’s piss poor characters and predictability. But somewhere in-between those three movies would be a good spot to place Monsters, even if I found this movie to be quite a lot better than all of them. Probably because District 9 uses is a comedic social metaphor grip, Cloverfield has thatstrong survival horror approach, and The Mist uses a really poor TV movie narrative and a social aspect with religion versus science angle. Monsters is neither, as it stands firmly on it's own.
Despite the title I wouldn’t say that Monsters is a horror genre piece. Instead, as mentioned above, this is first and foremost a drama. At times there’s a road movie quality to the film, at times it is horror tinted, and at others a tender romance, but never one determined genre. It’s a well-crafted mix of them all.
The ending may seem to be somewhat positively open when you first see it, but being that I always enjoy a movie that stimulates my mind, Monsters really stayed with me when the light went on and I connected the dots. Monsters does just that, it makes you think, because if you have been paying attention to the flick, the ending will give you a shattering rush of insight that puts the movie in a whole different light. This is a brilliant move by Edwards as he invites the audience to make the connection. A few edits made differently and the film would have had a completely altered tone. Instead it’s a piece that does crawl into your head and that all boils down to the characters and age-old emotions Life and Death, with love in between. Now don’t back away just yet. Monsters isn’t a love story, it’s not a romantic movie either, but it is a movie that plays hard with powerful tools like sympathy and empathy. Two of the most important ingredients no matter what genre you are working in. And we will always want a love story to work out, even in the most sinister and nihilistic world. We can fell the feeling and have an emotional recognition with the characters which makes us empathise with them, hence making us care about the characters.
Characters who are driven by the choices and actions they take. There’s a hefty does of common sense and logic in the narrative that otherwise easily over turned this movie, and the subplots come into action during these moments giving a subtle insight into what really is going on in their heads. I keep saying emotional movie, and that’s pretty true, because there’s a lot of that emotional recognition that helps it along. As a viewer I can totally understand the reactions Andrew and Samantha have in their interaction. I understand why they make the choices and go about the actions they take. It’s quite rare to see movies in this niche work this well. Remember in Cloverfield they decide to go look at the monster… dumbasses. You don’t do that, you run. There's a certain irrationality to their actions. But Andrew’s a freelance photographer and Samantha’s father pays well for shots of children killed by the alien life forms. See, there’s a logic reason to their actions and choices that make it all believable.
Finally we have to talk about the monsters. There’s a lot at stake when you call your movie Monsters, because if you don’t deliver, then you are screwed. Looking back at the movies I mentioned in the opening, District 9, Cloverfield, The Mist. Well they all kind of suffer from the same problem, once they show and reveal their creatures it never really manages to keep me interested. Sure, you could argue that the aliens in District 9 have character and personality. Yes they do, and at the end you have seen so much of them that they become acceptable characters themselves. But they don’t really intrigue me anymore. Cloverfield;, as soon as they showed that big bad monster, well, then the mystery is gone. It’s just a big bad monster. The Mist does manage to show monsters in various sizes and keeps it fresh, but at the end? It’s just a bid bad monster show too, and after those gigantic ones hit the screen it just looses it’s power because they are nothing but big bad monsters. But Monsters manages to present a rather interesting and intriguing monster that isn’t filled with the common big bad monster conventions. Sure, that’s the image we get in the early stages when we see them on the televised assaults, and when they attack during the movie – big bad monsters that wreck stuff and are more or less indestructible, but this all changes the further the movie goes. And the final question you ask yourself is, are they really monsters? The last minutes of the movie are easily amongst the most poetic and emotional monster scenes since Spielberg’s tear jerking finale to Close Encounters of the Third Kind... if you get the rush of insight that is.
Monsters is a brilliant debut feature. Engaging, creepy and moving. It's no secret that Edwards has a background working with C.G.I. on documentaries and stuff, and it shows. There’s not one spot where the computer-generated materials expose themselves. It all looks extremely authentic. Edwards has crafted an intelligent, beautiful and atmospherically movie that definitely deserves all the attention that it is getting and will have in the future. He can easily get in line with some of the leading new names of genre cinema spawning out of the UK as of now. It’s a great piece and the future seems to hold great things for Gareth Edwards. I’ll be looking forward to it.