Island Zero is a decent low-budget paranoid suspense thriller. My review of Island Zero is over at Flickering Myth now
Review of Volumes of Blood : Horror Stories is over at Flickering Myth. and… below…!!!
Anthology films are great in the horror genre. Offering up short, sharp bursts of grim entertainment without too much need for character development, plotting or any of that boring stuff, a collection of horror chapters can really set the scene for a fun – and possibly enjoyably scary – night in. As with this release, they can also show off a variety of different directorial and writing styles and inclinations. Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories allows six directors to present exactly what they can – and can’t – do.
The only rules that the group seem to have been given is that most of the stories are held together by the ongoing story of a couple being shown around a house by a mysterious estate agent. The first introductory segment is itself a film being watched in a movie theatre, which then becomes another story. So far, so meta. But in any case, every one of the other short stories seem to be associated with various rooms in the house that is being viewed. However, it should be warned that the linking formula in this release is fairly chaotic. The wild attempts at humour don’t always sit well with the gross out style segments, and often stories appear undeveloped and underwritten. Given the almost 2 hour running time, this leaves one feeling that some more productive editing and a better worked out central idea would have been useful.
Having said that, there are some stoner-esque laughs to be had with Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories. The writers seem to have a core viewer in mind and to play to the crowd, offering up some fairly dumb, unmemorable but occasionally funny entertainment.
For what it’s worth, the first story – the one showing in the cinema – Murder, Death, Kill is a gross out horror/comedy. It concerns a bungled robbery and introduces in gruesome style a recurring character; the killer Atticus Crowe. The film then abruptly cuts to a cinema, where the movie is revealed to be a remake of an underground horror classic. A couple of goof balls riff on modern cinema culture and the film proper starts off. As mentioned previously, the linking ‘plot’ is not all together clear and it gives the whole production a pretty messy feel. Still there is fun to be had with some of the stories, most notably Deathday Party, which has a premise of an older couple being rudely interrupted by their neighbours. It becomes the opportunity for some suburban slaying, and this at least is fairly amusing.
Some of the other films are also linked by references to holidays, such as Halloween and Christmas, but as remarked previously, there just isn’t a strong enough linking theme to the whole. That and the fact that it’s all a bit too ‘knowing’ – making disjointed jibes at horror film culture, while presiding over a sub-standard film isn’t the best way to go – are the main problems with this release. Everyone involved – and it’s a huge group of cast and crew – are clearly doing it for the love of horror films in general, but much as we might want to like it, sometimes that just isn’t enough. It finishes up by doing a good impression of an overstretched student film idea that ultimately outstays its welcome.
My review of nu-giallo mindbender is over at Flickering Myth…
This mini review of the disappointing Insidious: Chapter 2 appears in the October edition of ExBerliner.
The second entry of the psychedelic horror show Insidious sadly loses something in the telling. Whereas the first had a genuine mystery around it, this comes across like someone trying to explain a joke. Not funny.
Patrick Wilson is particularly entertaining with a Jack-in-the-Shining act and other key players keep their vision, but the details occasionally seem painfully drawn out.
And as we all know, the Devil is in the detail.
Hallo! My review of the excellent horror film doc Slice and Dice – The Slasher Film Forever is over at Flickering Myth now. Get a pen and paper ready as you watch it for noting down stuff you may not have heard of!
My review of the evergreen (ever black?) classic Black Sabbath is over at Flickering Myth now…
My review of horror/thriller The Pact appears over at Flickering Myth… worth checking out…
My take on the dreadful (not in a good way) A Night in the Woods …. is over on Flickering Myth...
To paraphrase former war leader and whisky fan Winston Churchill, writer/director Peter Strickland’s impressive second film Berberian Sound Studio is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma – and the chances are a stiff drink will be appreciated after exposure to the wayward elements of this unsettling and masterful film.
Chronicling the dreamlike journey of the inexperienced and sheltered Gilderoy (the inscrutable Toby Jones), the film throws the mild-mannered sound engineer from Dorking, Surrey into the chaotic world of 1970s Italian giallo film production. Gilderoy is quickly confronted with one flamboyant character after another, as he struggles to come to terms with the language and exuberant personalities working on the post-production of witchcraft and murder film The Equestrian Vortex. Gradually Gilderoy begins to find the whole project genuinely unnerving, as the horror soundtrack of battered fruit and veg mixed with female screams starts to take its toll on his fragile psyche. The Englishman is left battling for his senses in the wildly intoxicating and claustrophobic world of the studio…
Berberian Sound Studio is undoubtedly informed by a deep love of giallo films and, even more evidently, a fannish devotion to the mystical and weird soundtracks concocted by the likes of Ennio Morricone and the band Goblin. What it is not however, is a film specifically about giallo. While it takes the post-production studio as its primary setting, the film is largely concerned with just what is going on in Gilderoy’s head. As hints become apparent that he may not be as normal as he first seems – and that his relationship with his mother especially appears somewhat troubled to say the least – the film’s focus on the 70s horror film processes is like an obsessive impulse, a slavish quirk of opportunity and a further clue to the central characters mental frailty.
In what is the film’s most stunning scene, a dreaming (we assume) Gilderoy is woken by scratching and hammering at his door. Woozily getting up to the strains of demonic organ music, he opens the door to find no one there but himself inside a movie theatre. Staring around in a profoundly agitated state, the picture of the cinema peels away from its cigarette marks, leaving a countryside scene of Box Hill in the Surrey countryside running, complete with BBC English voiceover – exactly the sort of nature documentary Gilderoy is attuned to working on. As a cinematic tour de force it is an incredibly effective visual realization of the intensity of the character’s internal conflicts; and for its audacious deployment Strickland deserves full praise.
A haunting piece that manages to mix enough humour, scares and philosophical questions into its 94 minutes than most do with nearly double that length, Berberian Sound Studio is a film to savour.
This review also appears over at Memorable TV...
A veritable car-wreck of a movie, REC Genesis systematically subverts everything that made the first two Spanish zombie virus films so compelling and leaves us with a stinking, putrid, ill-conceived mess. And that should definitely not be viewed as any kind of a recommendation!
Directed and written by Paco Plaza – notably without Jaume Balagueró, with whom he shared creative duties on REC 1 and 2 – the film shambles through a graveyard of unfunny jokes, non-existent scares and puny acting. Dispensing early on with the handheld camera approach of the first two instalments, the clear intention (summed up by a top of the range camera getting smashed to bits by a blander than bland hero figure) is to put the action into a more Hollywood-like setting. This as it turns out is a minor mistake. The real villains of the piece are a lame setting, a horrible mish-mash of styles and a confused, badly arranged script. Seemingly attempting to channel Tarantino, The Evil Dead films and the worst excesses of the Romero imitators, what’s left is a boring, uninspired, festering corpse of undead-waste.
The film begins with the wedding of Koldo and Clara, presented in familiar camcorder fashion and as it turns out, the only reasonably worked out segment of the film. What follows is infected (see what I did there?) by a terminal incompetence and dismal production. Aside from the dreadful acting and written on a fag packet script, this travesty also includes a shockingly bad soundtrack, summed up by cheese-ball symphonic strings mixed with flamenco renditions of The Damned’s Eloise. Torture horror certainly…
Apparently Balagueró is returning for the fourth instalment, but how much damage he can repair to the wounded franchise remains to be seen. Probably best to pretend that this one never happened…