September 19, 2014

IM KELLER (In The Basement) [/Slash Filmfestival 2014]


International Title:
In the Basement

Austria, 2014
Director: Ulrich Seidl


Thanks to the horrible crimes of Josef Fritzl or Wolfgang Přiklopil, 
Austria unintentionally built up a questionable reputation as 'Land of the Horror Cellars' over the last years - which is obviously bullshit. Austria is a gorgeous country full of cool and extraordinarily friendly people (excluding certain obnoxious right-wing politicians) and as far as I know, most of them don't keep children hidden underground ;-) Still, there seems to be something special about Austrians and their relations to their cellars and basements. Why do they spend so much time down there? What exactly are they doing there? What is so fascinating about these dark places below ground level?

Ulrich Seidl, one of Austria's greatest and most important contemporary filmmakers gets to the bottom of things, following a couple of Austrian men and women into their subterranean comfort zones, showing us what they're doing
or keeping down there.
After feature films like "Import/Export" or the remarkable "Paradise Trilogy"
(Love / Faith / Hope)
, Seidl goes back to his documentary roots, delivering a stunning collage of joy, shock and sadness, about as dazing as his magnum opus "Dog Days" or the still slightly underrated "Models".

We get to see sadists and masochists enjoying their sexuality to its fullest, proud collectors of hunting trophys or Third Reich memorabilia, eerie basement shooting ranges, weird house bars or the woman who keeps a lifelike baby doll down there and treats it like it's a real human toddler. "Im Keller" constantly switches between entertainment and unsettlement, between scenes that make you laugh and scenes that wipe the smile off your face completely, all masterfully done in Seidl's signature style with lots of long takes and abrupt cuts.

Seeing all those people talking about butt plugs and s&m toys from "Toys'R'Us", warthog-schnitzels and 'oriental logics', high velocity cumshots or paintings of the Fuehrer as wedding presents - at first, you may shake your head about all of them and their revelations, but then it makes you think about your own hobbies and obsessions, your dark desires and unspoken wishes, and suddenly you understand that in some weird kinda way, they're not much different from you. They keep their basements as tidy and neat as you do, whether it's a real basement, or an attic, or just the "basement of your mind".

"Im Keller" is not a pleasant film, but it's a pleasantly fascinating one; intriguing, mesmerizing and even entertaining. Ulrich Seidl (once again) at his best!

Wiki ~ Imdb

Oh btw, in the meantime news reports revealed that two people who participated in the scene that took place in the nazi cellar (see below), they are conservative town council members... erm, they were, because they already resigned from their posts and left the People's Party (read here). Well Done! =D

September 18, 2014


For the 4th time now, I decided to spend my holidays in a small cinema somewhere in Vienna (the Filmcasino!) to dive into the fabulous Filmfestival madness. September 18 - 28, /Slash Filmfestival Numero Five - yes, it's the 5th one already! And once again, it's bigger, better and crazier than ever.

More than 40 films from all around the world, ranging from scary ghost stories to super-funny horror comedies to weird documentaries to batshit gaga Japanese pieces of insanity.

Awesome special guests like Troma Boss LLOYD KAUFMAN ("The Toxic Avneger", "Class of Nuke 'Em High"), French uber-actress BÉATRICE DALLE ("Inside", "Betty Blue"), French horror-innovators JULIEN MAURY & ALEXANDRE BUSTILLO ("Inside", "Livid"), Austria's director legend ULRICH SEIDL ("Dog Days", "Paradise Trilogy"), Austria's horror newcomer MARVIN KREN ("Rammbock", "Blood Glacier"), American horror rookie LEIGH JANIAK ("Honeymoon") etc.

I know, it will be exhausting, stressful and sleep-depriving, but in the end, it will be once again totally worth it. Woo Hoo! :-)

-Day 1- Opening Night
(= In the Basement)

Documentary "about people and basements and what people do in their basements. (...) About obsessions, about brass-band music and opera arias, fitness and fascism. (...) A film essay which delves into the underground
of the Austrian soul. 

Directed by ULRICH SEIDL, the genius behind entertaining, unsettling AND thought-provoking masterpieces like

Screening in the presence of the director and the film team!

-Day 2-
Directed by Richard Bates Jr. ("Excision"), starring Ray Wise, John Waters, Jeffrey Combs & Muse Watson!

Directed by Joe Lynch ("Wrong Turn 2"), starring Ryan Kwanten & Summer Glau.

Hey, a new New Zealandian Horror Comedy! *wahoo*
Directed by Gerard Johnstone.

~ R100 ~
Japanese S&M spectacle. Directed by Hitoshi Matsumoto ("Big Man Japan")

Japanese lesbian BDSM-fest. Directed by Kôta Yoshida

+ Zombie Walk, Troma Transporter & Live performance by KURT DIRT

-Day 3-
Canadian found-footage horror. Directed by Derek Lee & Cliff Browse.

Another New Zealandian Horror Comedy! *yeeha* Directed by Taika Waititi ("Eagle vs. Shark) & Jemaine Clement ("Flight of the Conchords).

Japanese Steampunk-Anime, directed by Yasuhiro Yoshiura.

(=Saga of the Gstetten: Rise of Lizard-Friedl)
Austrian post-apocalyptic piece of fantasy/horror/sci-fi craziness. Directed by Johannes Grenzfurthner ("Monochrom").
Screening in the presence of the director and screenwriter Roland Gratzer.

(=The Viennese Chainsaw Massacre)
Short film, directed by Martin Nechvatal.

Troma Double Feature

Both directed by Troma boss Lloyd Kaufman.
Screening in the presence of Lloydo himself!!! :-)

+ Lloyd Kaufman's Master Class "MAKE YOUR OWN DAMN MOVIE!"

-Day 4-
Australian Scarefest, directed by Jennifer Kent.

Directed by Mike Flanagan ("Absentia").

Irish horror-thriller, directed by Ivan Kavanagh. Starring Antonia Campbell-Hughes

Anime, directed by Isao Takahata ("Grave of the Fireflies").

Anime, directed by Makoto Shinkai ("Children Who Chase Lost Voices")

-Day 5-
Honeymoon gone wrong, directed by Leigh Janiak.
Screening in the presence of the director!

Starring Amanda Fuller, Pat Healy & Nick Simmons. Directed by Kevin Kolsch & Dennis Widmyer.

~ INSIDE (2007) ~
Modern French Horror Classic, directed by the French horror-gods Julien Maury & Alexandre Bustillo.

-Day 6-
 The newest film by the French horror-gods Julien Maury & Alexandre Bustillo.
Screening in the presence of the directors and...
*heavy breathing* Beatrice Dalle!!

Directed by Belgian genius Fabrice Du Welz ("Calvaire", "Vinyan")

Modern French Horror classic, directed by the French horror-gods Julien Maury & Alexandre Bustillo.
Screening in the presence of the directors and... *more heavy breathing* Beatrice Dalle!!

-Day 7-
Dutch piece of insanity, directed by Alex van Warmerdam.

Brutal Indonesia-Japan collabo, directed by the "Mo Brothers" Timo Tjahjanto & Kimo Stamboel ("ABCs of Death", "V/H/S 2", "Macabre").

Mafia TV series, first two episodes.
Screening in the presence of main actor Fortunato Cerlino.

-Day 8-
Slasher musical, starring Minnie Driver & Meat Loaf. Directed by Jerome Sable.

Hongkong sci-fi/mystery/thriller, directed by Fruit Chan ("Dumplings")

+ Surprise Movie Y

-Day 9-
Starring Liv Tyler & Judy Greer. Directed by Carter Smith ("The Ruins")

Werewolf meets policeman. Directed by Lowell Dean ("13 Eerie")

Directed by Adrián García Bogliano ("Here Comes The Devil")

Discodancer meets Psychopath. Directed by Renaud Gauthier

Directed by David Robert Mitchell ("The Myth of the American Sleepover")

-Day 10
26 new directors (actually, it's 31!), 26 new ways to die!
Feat. Vincenzo Natali, Larry Fessenden, Julien Maury & Alexandre Bustillo, Sion Sono, Rodney Ascher, the Soska Sisters etc. etc.

Screening in the presence of director Marvin Kren ("Blood Glacier")

Directed by Spanish Grandmaster Alejandro Jodorovsky ("The Holy Mountain", "El Topo", "Santa Sangre")

Directed by Greg McLean ("Wolf Creek", "Rogue")

Horror in Disneyland! Directed by Randy Moore.

Australian thriller-drama. Directed by Zak Hilditch.

~ LIVE ~
Mad Japanese gorefest, directed the master of insnaity Noboru Iguchi ("Dead Sushi", Zombie Ass")

More Japanese madness. Directed by Eisuke Naitô

Short Film, directed by Wolfgang Matzl.

-Day 11-
/SLASH TOP 3 - Re-Screenings of the Festival's three most popular films



USA, 2014
Director: Jeremy Berg


Jeremy Berg's debut feature "Sader Ridge" (Review here) is an eerie and super-gorgeous film that gave me a great time when I first saw it last year in July. Unfortunately, it suffered from being retitled to the bland
"The Invoking" (The Conjuring anyone...?) and being provided with a cheesy cover that had nothing to do with the actual film, which resulted in people hating the guts out of it. "Sader Ridge" currently has a horrible 3.0 rating on Imdb...

..and if no-one's taking action, the same thing could happen to Jeremy Berg's second feature "The Device", which gladly hasn't got a new title (yet...), but a cover that doesn't do the movie justice. What looks like a surreal and futuristic piece of high-tech science fiction, is actually a straight forward alien-abduction-themed horror thriller somewhere between "Fire in the Sky", "The Tommyknockers" and maybe "Needful Things", following two sisters who discover a strange device of alien origin which turns their lifes completely upside down.

In terms of pacing and build-up, it's pretty similar to "Sader Ridge", which means it's rather calm and slow. At times, this slow pace works amazingly well and provides you with lots of eerie chills - at times, it's just dull and tedious. "Sader Ridge" had a few pacing hiccups, but due to how awesome the whole film looked, it never really bored me. However, "The Device" doesn't look that awesome, so when it's boring, it's really frigging boring.

The acting is very solid (especially the performances of Angela DiMarco and David S. Hogan), the music is creepy as shit and the camera work is very well done, though I don't like the movie's rather bland look (should have been cooler, colder), the aliens look rather meh and the fact that it adds absolutely nothing new to the alien-abduction sub-genre... *sigh* well, the "extraterrestrial unoriginality" worked for me in last year's "Dark Skies" which at least tried to be as thrilling and creepy as possible, while "The Device" runs too much by the rule book (alien dreams? check. bright lights? check. etc.) without focusing on chills and thrills (does that make sense to you? I hope so...).

Kudos to the look of the "device" itself and how it transforms David S. Hogan into a suit-wearing modern-day George Lutz. No kudos to the [SPOILER] slightly Rosemary's-Baby-like ending. Overall, okay but definitely no must-see.


P.S. No Andi Norris? Blasphemy! ;-)

Thanks to John Portanova for the screener!

September 15, 2014

Kweeny, Judith + Maynard riding the MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN

Just when you thought Maynard needed to recover
from that huge "Losers" collabo post... BAM!
Maynard's back with another massive collaboration :-)

My longtime blog buddy & hardcore Clive Barker fan KWEENY TODD, my longtime friend & Twitter maniac JUDITH "JUE" and my humble self,
we sneaked into the bowels of New York's subway
to catch a ride on the MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN.

We're talking about the original story from 1985 by Clive Barker and the theatrical feature adaptation from 2008. What do we like, what do we hate,
what is better, film or story etc. etc.

All aboard, please take your seats. It's gonna be a long and weird ride full of glorious gore and ghastly grumesomeness :-)


Alternate Title:
Clive Barker's Midnight Meat Train

Alternate German Title: 
Clive Barker's Midnight Meat Train - Mitternachtsfleischzug

USA, 2008
Director: Ryûhei Kitamura

It's time to get back to basics. What better way to do that than to connect with some of my blog friends like Maynard Morissey, and write a joint blog post about a man we both adore: Clive Barker.

Since I have done a lot of blog posts on his work, (and even write about him for the Living DeadMagazine when I can) I wanted to touch on something I haven't written about yet and that Maynard would also enjoy blogging about: Midnight Meat Train.

Oh Midnight Meat are a strange, and sometimes hilarious movie.

But before I get into the movie, I want to talk a little about the Books of Blood, and why the story Midnight Meat Train is superior to the film. Now the film has it's merits, and I will bring those up, but it falls short in many respects. Not to say Clive hasn't been lucky with his adaptations. Because most Clive adaptions (except for things like sequels) are pretty good. Most are loyal to the source material which doesn't happen for every writer who's work is adapted to film. But the story of Midnight Meat Train is just so good then what they show it on screen you expect the visuals to be as intense and poweful as the words written were, which is a bit of a bummer, but could be worse I guess. I know that's my bias showing though. I prefer to read things over watching things, because you can show more than tell with words. Film can get lazy and forget that showing can say all you need to say in a film as well.

But for a horror adaption, it's not bad. Not as good as Hellraiser was for Hellbound Heart, but it's still pretty awesome.

The Books of Blood have had some of their stories adapted for film as of late. The thing about the Books of Blood is, they are more than one little vignette. They are a collection of some of the creepiest, most depraved works of literature Barker has ever created. The stories within represent the worst of humanity, all the while showing some of humanity's vulnerabilities and beautiful flaws. The people in the Books of Blood make terrible choices, sometimes to fatal effect.

There are six books in total, each with their own feel and strangeness. The movies that have been adapted include Rawhide Rex, The Forbidden (later called Candyman), The Last Illusion, (later called Lord of Illusions), The Body Politic (later called Quicksilver Highway), The Midnight Meat Train, The Book of Blood and On Jerusalem Street (later combined to just be Book of Blood), Dread, The Yattering and Jack, which was adapted for Tales From The Darkside. Jacqueline Ess is set to be filmed and is going to be directed by one of my favorite rising star directors Jovanka Vuckovic.

That's a lot of blood for one book to bear on screen isn't it? Well the thing about the collection is the stories are so well written, so personal in their horror that they linger well after you put the book down.
Midnight Meat Train is one of those tales that lingers. The story is haunting. We become obsessed with what Leon Kaufman is doing, as he stalks a strange man named Mahogany. Leon is just trying to get by, and has a lot of problems of his own. But when he wakes up on a subway and witnesses an act of terrible brutality done by Mahogany, he becomes obsessed with the man and needs answers.

The tale is a warning about obsession and putting yourself in situations you really have no business being in. Who hasn't been drawn to something they know isn't good for them, and yet they cannot pull away. Obsession can be as bad as addiction, and Barker isn't afraid to show you just how bad it can get. The thing that the book does better than the movie is capture that. I felt the film only scratched the surface of the whole Fear and Obsession idea, and pulled away before it could get deeply into it. While some scenes really captured the horror Leon witnesses on the subway train, some scenes were also made so over-the-top with gore that they were almost too funny to take seriously. When you read the story, you don't have to worry about that. Barker's prose is on point, and there is nothing funny about this story. You are sucked in, spellbound by is use of language as well as his scenes he paints with bloody brush strokes.

Mahogany is also an amazing character, and I will give the movie credit, they picked a fine actor to be Mahogany Vinnie Jones is frightening, and plays a silent, brooding figure well. He looms over the film, towering over Leon and his victims like a murderous Jotun. So much emotion is conveyed without words from Vinnie, and he makes the character come to life on film. It is one of the things I can say the film does better than the story, because Vinnie Jones really sells it.

The main character Leon in the film falls flat for me. I didn't care enough about him like I did in the short story, because the actor just wasn't interesting enough. He just seemed like another pretty face from Hollywood trying to do a horror movie, and it's a shame. Clive Barker's horror demands a certain level of acting that not every actor can pull off. Leon was just another generic actor, and he didn't capture the obsession levels I really wanted to see come from the character.

But for an adaptation of Clive Barkers work, Midnight Meat Train isn't terrible. It has some really good moments, the ending is still pretty great, and Vinnie Jones is just awesome in his role. He is a great silent stalker, doing is job with efficiently and brutality to feed the ones who demand to be fed.

And if you wanna know who needs to be fed, check out the story or movie for yourself. Both are worth experiencing.

Even though he's one of the horror genre's most famous authors, Clive Barker's work gladly has been spared with being adapted for the big screen hundreds and hundreds of times (like Stephen King's work). Also, the few Barker-feature-adaptations that have been made: none of them are really bad. Next to the awesomeness of "Candyman", "Dread" or "Hellraiser" (*ignoring all the pointless "Hellraiser" sequels), there are only two adaptations that are weak: "Rawhead Rex" and "Book of Blood", though both are still rather watchable.

"The Midnight Meat Train" is to date the penultimate Barker feature adaptation. Based on the short story of the same name, which can be found in "Books of Blood - Volume 1", Japanese director Ryûhei Kitamura ("Godzilla: Final Wars") and screenwriter Jeff Buhler ("Insanitarium") created a stylish and wonderfully brutal horror film that works excellent as some kinda companion piece to the story.

Barker fans will hate me now, but I think that the film is better than its source material, even though both aren't perfect. Yet, in a weird way that probably only makes sense to me, they both somehow complement each other, resulting in a delightful multimedia package that pleases me quite a bit.

The story follows two people: Leon Kaufman, an office worker who becomes fascinated by a bizarre chain of murders that takes place in the New York City Subway, and Mahogany, the actual killer who butchers his victims like beef cattle and delivers them via Subway train to an underground cavern which is filled by deformed creatures who live on human flesh. After killing Mahogany, Kaufman gets forced to take his place, and eventually becomes the new butcher.

I love how the story starts out being told by both characters, giving us insight in both their lives (Kaufman's is boring, while Mahogany's is simply fucked up) until they finally meat... um, meet in the Subway train. There's some wonderfully insane descriptions of slaughtered people ["The meat of her back had been entirely cleft open from neck to buttock and the muscle had been peeled back to expose the glistening vertebrae."], as well as many carefully composed sentences, each one a little  masterpiece ["(...) this all too naked slab had been hung by the feet from one of the holding handles set in the roof of the car, and a black plastic bucket, lined with a black plastic bag, had been placed beneath the corpse to catch the steady fall of blood from its wounds. In that state, stripped, shaved, suspended and practically bled white, the body of Loretta Dyer had been found. It was disgusting, it was meticulous, and it was deeply confusing."]

However, I've never been a fan of how the story ends. All the awesomeness and intensity ends with Mahogany's rather quick death, the arrival of the creatures who are actually New York's founding father(!) (for whatever reason, they are bound to eat human meat even though it disgusts them), the arrival of the slightly ridiculous Father of Fathers who is basically the “Bowels of New York”... I dunno. It's a strange and unconvincing conclusion. A letdown.

Thank goodness, the movie's super-grim ending was able to satisfy me a lot more. No founding father stuff here. The creatures are simply age-old creatures, and they're not disgusted by human meat, they actually love it. No Father of Fathers here either. It's the train conductor who tells Kaufman that he is now the new butcher. Plus. the death of Kaufman's girlfriend adds some more shocking tragedy.

Girlfriend, you may ask? Yes, Kaufman, who is simply called Leon here, is a fully fleshed-out character with a job (photographer), a girlfriend and a backstory. While the story is more about both characters, the movie fully focuses on Leon's attempt to become an art photographer, the way he stumbles over Mahogany and becomes addicted with him, with his behavior and with his relation to decades of mysterious subway killings. Mahogany is a much scarier character here, almost unkillable, barely saying a word and always bad-fucking-ass.

There's loads of violence and brutality (beheadings, hammer-smashed heads, naked corpses hanging on hooks), gruesome close-ups of teeth and eyeballs pulled out, buckets of blood and gore, and although there's lots of CGI blood (I despise CGI blood), I wasn't mad because nearly all of the CGI shots were done in a super-stylish slow-motion way; all fabulously filmed by the slightly under-used Jonathan Sela ("Grimm Love") and wonderfully accompanied with excellently atmospheric music by Robb Williamson & Johannes Kobilke ("Pathology").

Bradley Cooper gives a great performance as Leon, and Vinnie Jones is simply perfect as taciturn Mahogany. Leslie Bidd's GF characters is a bit annoying, but her acting is very believable and her character's death is an unexpected punch in the face. Also, worth mentioning: Brooke Shields as sexy owner of a gallery full of Clive Barker paintings, many superbly suspenseful pursuit scenes and a "Triple Kill" that has to be seen to be believed.

It's a bit too long and several scenes are either too tedious or simply unnecessary - nevertheless, I'm a fan of the movie and I'm not shying away from saying that I like it more than the story, which isn't bad, but IMO not as good as the film or other "Book of Blood" stories.

Film: 8/10 // Story: 6/10

First of all I have to admit I hadn’t read the short story when I first saw the movie and my honest unbiased first impression was ‘meh’. I didn’t hate the movie, I didn’t think it was especially bad, but I also didn’t think it was notably good.

Not much later I borrowed the ‘Books of Blood’ from a friend and immediately fell in love with the series- I devoured the books. But ‘The Midnight Meat Train’ has never been one of my favourite stories of the bunch, so keep that in mind. ;)

My opinion is that especially for horror short stories work especially well, because they’re based on the concept that the plot starts very early on in the story and the reader is left with a relatively open ending. Sounds familiar? Well yes, that sounds like almost every good horror movie I can think of. So basically, the story starts with a quick pace, you are presented with all the background info you need, you have a suspending climax and in the end you’re not sure what happens after the actual ending.

I would actually go so far as to say that short stories are the easiest to adapt to screen, because one single movie in itself is the perfect length for this kind of plot. You don’t have to cover side stories like novels demand you to; you don’t have to split up the plot into several movies like epics such as ‘The Lord of the Rings’. Of course it depends greatly on the style the story is written in wether or not normal film length is enough (or maybe too much) to adequately transform it into a good movie- but in the case of ‘The Midnight Meat Train’ I think it was done well enough.

I am well aware that books are a whole different field of creativity than movies. Techniques that can excite or amaze a reader with words can not directly be taken over into film- while certain scenes that we remember from the scariest or most exciting of movies only work because and with the pictures we are presented with. The important thing is that by whatever means the emotions or thought processes the story should invoke in the audience stay the same even after the adaption, and I think this movie accomplishes that task.

Sure, you could argue that details were changed, but in all honesty I think if you adapt something, you have the right to make it your own- and in most cases it is even impossible to simply copy a written work to screen and yet allow it to evoke the same sort of reaction in its audience. (On top of that, how boring would that be if a movie was an exact replica of a book? If you want that, just go read the book.)
Nevertheless it’s also my right as viewer/reader not to like certain changes, so here you go:

One thing I loved about the written version and I felt was left out in the movie was the first few pages, describing that feeling of being in ‘pink hued glasses’-love with a city (or a place in general if you want) and how that infatuation turns to familiarity once you live there and the routine of your daily life catches up with you. While reading I felt like that feeling plays an important if small part throughout the story. There was something there once, something you couldn’t put a name or tag on, but it was this feeling of speciality that haunted this place, and you forgot about it once it became your every day surroundings. But if you took enough effort and time to look into it, you could find that almost supernatural aspect again- the question is, how much of it do you really want to discover and what will you do with your discovery?

The movie never actually covers this aspect, rather focuses on the general filthy gruesomeness of the core of “the city” as object of Leon’s photography. In the book Leon feels betrayed by the true face of his once beloved city, whereas in the movie it seems as if this is exactly what he loves about the place and has been obsessed with since he started taking photos. I know it’s just a little nuance change but I liked where the book was going with it, so I missed it in the movie.

The one thing that annoys me most about the movie is this weird relationship between the main character Leon and his girlfriend Maya.
Now, mind you, I’m not a fan of romantic relationships in movies in general- most of the time they seem either too idyllic or too forced to be believable, but for some reason the film industry apparently thinks every movie needs one; wether we’re talking about a comedy or a gore fest.

What this forced relationship brings to this movie are a few pretty tedious romance/problem scenes that really don’t go anywhere except for both characters freaking out for no apparent reason. They made me a bit uncomfortable because I wasn’t sure if the characters are both supposed to be going insane that quickly or if the actors are just over-acting. For instance there’s a scene where Maya comes home and Leon is immersed in his photos and the conspiracy theory he’s developed and she is very quick to lose her shit over it, following a mild breakdown from her and then him photographing her and having flashbacks/panic attacks during it. Erm, yes, ok.

I didn’t care that much about either of them- both their characters are so one-dimensional, you never really feel for them and therefore never actually fear for them. Seriously, the small insight we get into the butcher’s background is far more intriguing than anything about our protagonists.

The only positive thing about Maya’s character I can point to- if she didn’t exist in the movie, we wouldn’t have this great suspense scene where she and her friend break into the killer’s flat and he comes home to discover them and start a little cat and mouse game.

But I don’t mean to say that I didn’t enjoy watching this movie, the overall melancholic dark look of it is beautiful and it does have all the important plot points of the original story.
The hilariously bloody train scenes are a pleasure (or discomfort if you have a weak stomach) to watch and I don’t know why but I guess I’m a sucker for chase scenes- and this movie delivers a few exciting ones: on the train of course, and in a slaughterhouse  to name the prominent scenes.
The ending is haunting; the simple old recipe of becoming what you fear still works and even if in the end all of Leon’s attempts to fight or flee his fate were futile, they make for a very entertaining time for the viewer and a few pictures that stick in your head long after the movie is over.

All in all the movie is at times way too overdramatic and trying too hard, it could have taken a piece of the simplistic style in which the original is written and might have produced a more eerie effect with it, but if you enjoy bloody butchering scenes and a good old government conspiracy theory, you’ll have a good time with it.

PS: I still have no idea what the movie wants to tell me with these weird warts that grow on Mahogany’s body >.>

Wiki ~ Imdb

September 14, 2014

Catacombical Double Feature: AS ABOVE SO BELOW + CATACOMBS


German Title:

USA, 2014
Director: John Erick Dowdle


In terms of quality, the career of the Dowdle brothers (John Erick Dowdle - director, writer / Drew Dowdle - writer, producer) is comparable to a rollercoaster: after every up comes a down. Their fantastic debut feature "The Poughkeepsie Tapes" was followed by the shitty and completely unnecessary [REC]-ripoff "Quarantine" - and the elevator chiller "Devil" (John Erick only) as well as the surprisingly good "Quarantine 2: Terminal" (Drew only), they both were followed by...

"As Above, So Below", one of the shittier theatrical horror features of this year, following a team of explorers who venture into secret passages of the Catacombs of Paris to search for Nicolas Flamel's "Philosopher's Stone" and end up in their own personal hell where they're forced to face their inner demons...

What starts out as smart found-footage version of "Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade", ends up as poorly done, confusing and super-ridiculous over-the-top rubbish-fest somewhere between "The Descent" and maybe "Grave Encounters". Things are entertaining and quite tense before the explorers the catacombs, but once they're down there and surrounded by darkness, "As Above, So Below" becomes dumber and dumber with every single minute.

Foreseeable deaths and twists, illogical and/or unexplained plot points that are ultimately really frustrating, plot holes, lots of really unscary jump scares, idiotic decisions made by unsympathetic and forgettable cardboard characters, supposed-to-be-scary incidents that are unintentionally hilarious (telephone, piano, satanic choir, guy 'sinks' into stone etc.), lots of silly Dante- and alchemy-related nonsense and some unexpectedly super-annoying shaky cam cinematography. As you, my dear reader, already know, I have nothing against shaky cam, but here, it was MUCH too shaky.

The acting is neat, especially Perdita Weeks who's 'allowed' to play the movie's only interesting character. The scenes in the museum and the treasure chamber are simply excellent, and I enjoyed how the movie ended (not your average found-footage shock ending), but overall, this was a missed opportunity in creating something that could have been a fun handheld-version of "Indiana Jones", "National Treasure" or "Tomb Raider" - and it's also far worse than that other "Catacombs"-related flick...


German Title:
Catacombs - Unter der Erde lauert der Tod

USA, 2007
Directors: Tomm Coker & David Elliot


When I first heard of "As Above, So Below", I immediately thought it's some kinda remake or reimagining of the FearNet-produced 2007 horror film "Catacombs" [not to be confused with David Schmoeller's "Catacombs (1988) a.k.a "Curse IV"] - which is obviously bullshit, silly me. The only thing both films have in common is that they're both set in the Catacombs of Paris.

Aside from that, "Catacombs" -written and directed by Tomm Coker (who?) and David Elliot ("G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra") - is completely different, following Victoria, an insecure and slightly angsty young woman who visits her completely un-angsty sister Carolyn in Paris. Carolyn takes Victoria to an illegal rave party that takes place down in the Catacombs. What starts out as fun and entertaining nights, ends up as horrible nightmare when suddenly a goat-headed lunatic shows up and hunts Victoria through the Catacombs...

The first half hour is simply bad. Shannyn Sossamon's character is a whiny and super-annoying loner, while her sister (awfully played by singer Pink) is simply an unnerving piece of shit. After we have to suffer through "Hostel"-like Evil-Europe-is-Evil clichés, oh-so-funny pranks and jokes by several French douchebags, and an Illegal-Rave-Partys-are-so-last-summer Rave Party...

...we finally get to the good stuff when suddenly [SPOILER] Pink gets killed (thank goodness!) and Sossamon is forced to run for her life through endless amounts of dark and creepy corridors, all incredibly awesome lit and filmed. Parts of the movie reminded me a lot of "The Descent", especially in terms of mood and atmosphere. Guess it had a lot of influence on the directors. There's also loads of impressive eerie images of goat heads, gruesome torture and weird doctors dripping with blood, a terrific-looking killer and many, many, many beautiful underground settings.

However, the best thing about "Catacombs" is the ending. Holy fuck, now that was unexpectedly awesome. After the good old unoriginal Main-character-accidentally-kills-friend trope, the whole thing suddenly moves into brutal revenge mode and delivers one of the most badass endings I've seen in a long time. Wow!

If you love Paris even though you've never been there before (like me), if you like Catacombs in general and/or if you think Pink is an unnerving cunt, this is exactly your movie =D

September 13, 2014

Interview with director RICHARD GRAY ("Mine Games", "Audition")

Got the chance to do a little interview with Richard Gray, director of this year's mine... um, mind-fuck highlight "MINE GAMES" (Review here) and the upcoming readaptation of Takashi Miike's "AUDITION". Enjoy reading!

--According to IMDB, there were 4 people (including you) involved in creating the story and script of "Mine Games". How did that work? Could you tell me a bit more about the writing process? How much time did y'all spend on writing?
Ross McQueen is certainly the main writer on this one. He and Robert Cross came up with the original story. We adapted it for the US together and moved it into a Mine situation that we thought would be interesting and unique. We also explored further the mental illness element that we thought crucial to the story.
--How did you choose the actors? Was there a casting, and if so, how did it go along?

We’re very happy with the cast we were able to bring together. We were look for a mix that you might find amongst your own friendship group. People from different places with very different likes and wants. Someone like Briana Evigan is very well known for the "Step Up" franchise, where as someone like Joseph Cross you may have seen in "Milk" or "Lincoln". Each actor has had a unique career but they were all just so excited to do this
--To me, it felt as if there were great chemistry between all the actors. Did they all had a fun time, or was it actually not as fun as it looked to me?

Filming was a complete adventure for us and I think contributed fantastically to chemistry. We all lived together in these little serviced apartment complex. Ate together, drank together, bbq together. Shot in this stunning town called North Bend in Washington, where "Twin Peaks" was filmed I believe. It was a really memorable shoot.
--The basic time loop / time travel concept of "Mine Games" is a tad similar to Christopher Smith's 2009 chiller "Triangle". Have you seen it? And if so, did it somehow inspire you on creating "Mine Games"?

I read "Mine Games" for the first time years ago, it was a long time in development in Australia. The original screenplay was written before "Triangle", but I have to say I really enjoyed "Triangle", loved the production design on the boat, and there are some similarities for sure.
--For the US release, there were plans to change the title to "The Evil Within", but then suddenly, they changed it back to "Mine Games". What Happened?
We’re very happy the title is back to "Mine Games". It’s complicated but we never wanted it changed.
--You're involved in a remake of Takashi Miike's J-horror classic "Audition". Could you tell me a little bit about this project?

I’m incredibly excited about "Audition". I’m fortunate enough to be working with Producer Mario Kassar, and "Audition" has been a passion project for him for almost 10 years. It’s important to note that this is NOT a remake of Takashi Miike’s classic. It is an original adaptation of the original novel by Ryu Murakami, which is very important to know obviously. I can’t give too much away about the project but I can say we take on this production with a huge responsibility to the author and too the fans to get it right. We’re not looking to recreate something you’ve already seen but we also not looking to mess with what is already so brilliant. So time will tell and the proof will be in the pudding. We can’t wait to shoot!

--Are you a horror buff? What are your all time horror favorites?

I wouldn’t call myself a buff and in fact, "Mine Games" is more a Thriller than a Horror I believe, although it certainly has key horror elements. Taking on the horror genre is probably the most difficult, along with Science Fiction I guess, because the fans are so passionate and so well educated. They live and breath the stuff. My top horror or horror titles would include: "Rosemary’s Baby", "The Shining", "The Exorcist", "Silence of The Lambs". Probably no surprises here but I adore the classics!

Thank you, Richard!

September 11, 2014


(18minute short)

Canada, 2014
Director: Kyle Hytonen


Contrary to his 2013 short film "Follow" which was more of an creepy "Blair Witch" homage, Canadian director Kyle Hytonen's latest short film "Massacre at Femur Creek" goes into a completely different direction: it's a super-entertaining and hilariously badass love letter to 80s slashers and the 80s per se, following three friends on a camping trip to the mythical Femur Creek where a masked and knife-wielding maniac is already waiting for them.

"Massacre at Femur Creek" is obviously far from being original, but it's so fun and diverting, and it possesses so much heart and 80s awesomeness, you just have to love it. Where other recent lame-ass slasher tributes like "Sledge" or "Cold Prey 3" completely fail, "Femur Creek" fully succeeds by giving us sympathetic characters, amusing dialogue, a cool killer, a decent portion of gore, and lots of marvellous nostalgia awesomeness, like Hitachi cassette players and old school Coors beercans, Polaroid selfies ("If you hold it up on an angle, it makes you look less fat.") and people talking about the rise of the Walkman ("Imagine having all your music in your backpocket the whole time? It's a fucking quantum leap.")

The acting is excellent, every actor gives a fab performance (especially our three main heroes Nigel Grinstead, Andrew Barr & Dean Young), and they all constantly deliver fun dialogue ("I like my women of the North. They've gotten out of a truck to yell at a moose more than once, and they all smell like Mint Scoal Tobacco." - "Yeah, and they taste like it too.").

There's also a slightly silly but rather merciless killer, wearing an ace-looking mask (Kevin Sommerfield would love this!), preferring to run towards his victims like a gimping couch potato. The cinematography is slick, the fabulous electro score by Gregory Barnes & Jupiter-8 reminded me a lot of Power Glove, and... hell, am I the only one who thinks that it's packed with references to "Stand By Me"? Sitting 'round the campfire, talking rubbish... a young man's dead body somewhere in the woods... the tracks... the howling... if you ask me, that's all totally "Stand By Me", and in my book, that's just fantastic!

It won't reinvent the wheel, but it surely will give every slasher fan a great fucking time. "Massacre at Femur Creek" rocks the Casbah ;-)

MAFC - Facebook
MAFC - IndieGogo

Oh btw: I backed the film's IndieGogo Campaign. As a Thank You, I got an entry in the ending credits. Man, look at that font! My name has never looked more gorgeous ^_^

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