31 July 2013

Extreme Week: Marina De Van's "IN MY SKIN" (2002) & "ALIAS" (1999)

IN MY SKIN

Original Title:
Dans ma peau

France, 2002
Director: Marina de Van

10/10








It's not the most disturbing or most shocking film of all time, but it's probably the one that hurts the most. Director Marina de Van isn't keen of people calling it horror and/or comparing it to Cronenberg's body-horror, which is actually fully understandable. Still, watching De Van's debut feature "In My Skin" is a really horrific experience (I mean that in a positive way), and I can't help giving it at least one label: "arthouse-shocker".


"In My Skin" is a brave, uncompromising, and quite shocking, but also touching and deeply fascinating film about a woman who becomes obsessed with her own body, her own skin, her own flesh, after accidentally injuring one of her legs at a party. Instead of letting the wound heal, she becomes deeply fascinated with it, starts to cut and slice it open again and again and again, which leads her into a personal downward spiral when she starts doing more and more
extreme things to her body...

I'm not lying when I say that I've never seen anything like it. It's really unique, really original, and I think there aren't too many movies who deal with this strange kind of obsession, at least not in such a bizarre and compelling way. In terms of tone and build-up, I'd compare it to "Kissed" and "May", though otherwise, these movies have obviously nothing in common with "In My Skin".


Marina de Van is not only a terrific writer and unbelievably talented director, she's also an absolutely stunning and spellbinding actress, not only because she's gorgeous as hell and almost exactly my type of woman, but also because her acting doesn't feel like acting. It rather feels like she is that character, Esther, and as if she really has that kind of obsession (I'd love to know if she had any influence on the great Rodleen Getsic).
Also: great and very believable performances by Laurent Lucas and Léa Drucker.

The film possesses an intriguing and highly absorbing atmosphere, at times dream-like, at times haunting, at times plain disturbing. Esther's wound looks terrible but she treats and touches it in such a tender and lovely way, you can't help being impressed and unsettled by this act. Also, it all looks so incredibly real!! The sequence where she locks herself into a hotel room and starts to caress her wounds, to bite and cut into her flesh, nibble at her skin, suck out the blood and let the blood flow over her face...
That's when I found myself sitting in front of the screen, eyes white open, shivering, "talking" to her: "No! Don't do it! Ouch, that hurts!" You can imagine, Maynard once again turned into a massive wreck :)

Other scenes were similarly unsettling: the business dinner where Esther imagines that one of her limbs is detached from her body, the scene where she locks herself in to photograph all of her wounds, the car-crash that she makes up as an excuse for her mutilated body, or the weird scene where 3 guys tries to throw her into a swimming pool, a scene that looks more like attempted rape.


The photography is very intense, very intimate (Pierre Barougier, "Death and the Maiden"), the jazzy piano score is excellently melancholy and adds a lot to the depressing atmosphere (Esbjörn Svensson Trio & Bassmati), the editing is outstanding (Mike Fromentin, "Don't Look Back), and the make-up / special effects look so goddamn realistic, it's scary (Dominique Colladant, "Kinski Paganini").

I'm not exactly sure what the main message of the film is, as it deals with so many themes and topics: loneliness, self-love, self-discovery,
self-mutilation, self-destruction, pressure, obsession, addiction, feminism, existentialism etc.

I think everyone has to find out for themselves. It isn't an easy movie and it's definitely not made for everyone. You will either love it or hate it - but I assure you, it will occupy your mind and you will spend lots of time time thinking about it.
"In my Skin" is a film you will never ever forget, I promise.


Imdb



ALIAS
(13minute short)

France, 1999
Director: Marina de Van

9/10






"Alias" is one of Marina de Van's very first short films and whoever had the idea to put it on the "In My Skin" DVD as a bonus - well, she or he is a genius, because wow! This ultra-rare short film is an absolutely gem, almost as great
as the main feature.



"Alias" takes place in a Claude-Chabrol-esque bourgeois home where a young girl 'celebrates' her birthday. Caught in a state of depression and drunkenness, and kinda ignored by her parents and their friends, she doesn't notice that the cleaning lady starts to copy and mimic her in a bizarre and extreely eerie way...

From the very first minute, I found myself totally captivated by the film's grim and haunting atmosphere. It starts out very mysterious, gets more and more gripping, and ends with a baffling and puzzling, but ultimately mindblowing ending that makes you realize that "Alias" isn't just a thriller, it's more of a statement about and against modern society's indifference and how easy it seems to replace one human with another.


De Van's direction is pitch-perfect, and the acting is simply top notch, especially the amazing performances of Caroline Brunner and Anne Le Ny. Cinematography and music are very intense, and the editing is superb.
A marvellous and almost flawless short film, bravo!

30 July 2013

Extreme Week: "BEGOTTEN" (1990)

BEGOTTEN

USA, 1990
Director: E. Elias Merhige
(as Edmund E. Merhige)

8/10










Somewhere in a barren wasteland, God sits in a chair and disembowels himself. Out of his remains, Mother Earth arouses, impregnates herself with his semen, and gives birth to the "Son Of Earth - Flesh On Bone", a fully-grown human-like creature, convulsing and shivering, constantly vomiting weird-looking organic objects.


That's how it starts out: "Begotten", probably the weirdest and most perplexing movie ever made. Director E. Elias Merhige created something so radically different from everything else, it's no wonder that it split its audience so much. Some call it the worst film ever, some praise it as overwhelming masterpiece. If you wanna know to which group you belong, you obviously have to see it for yourself - but beware: this is one of these movies they call "an experience".

"Begotten" is only 72 minutes long, but these 72 minutes are pretty tough to sit through. There is no dialogue whatsoever, only an inkling of a plot and a bunch of characters whose motives are completely unclear. The soundtrack consists mostly of sound effects and chirping crickets, and the look of the movie is simply unbelievable: the harshest and grainiest black-and-white I've ever seen.


Merhige - whose only other two features are the coffee-table films "Shadow of the Vampire" and "Suspect Zero" - got the guts to shoot it on black-and-white reversal film and re-photograph every! single! frame! so that there are only two colours left: black and white.
According to Imdb and Wiki, the total post-production was 8 months, and for each minute of original film, it took up to 10 hours to rephotograph it
for the look desired!!!


The result is nothing to sneeze at: tons of bleak and highly disturbing images of depressing landscapes, human creatures getting beaten and burnt, heads smashed and rubbed against weird tubes, a woman gets raped, a penis gets torn off, and the opening scene with the convulsing God cutting out his intestines totally freaks me out every single time.


People often compare it to "Eraserhead" which is actually a really good comparison, since it has the same nightmarish feeling as David Lynch's debut feature. Also, all the scenes and images of people in robes wandering through wastelands, it reminded me a lot of all the press photos by drone metal band SUNN O))) - and watching "Begotten" on mute while listening to the band's incredible album "ØØ Void" is one helluva surreal experience.

I close this review by quoting Imdb-user man-man-dot-org:
"This is not entertainment. This is disentertainment. This is how you deprogram people who just watched "Glitter." (...) You don't approach 'Begotten' like a chocolate cake you want to eat because it tastes good. You approach it like something on the menu you have never heard of before (...) something you order not because it will taste good, but because you just have to know what it's like."


Wiki ~ Imdb


29 July 2013

Extreme Week: "MEGAN IS MISSING" (2011)

Huzzah! Thanks to Tromeric from "GUTS AND GROG" for inviting me to another awesome blogfest! Last year, it was all about kids horror films, this year it's all about the EXTREME!
Yes, one week of write-ups and reviews about the extreme side of horror. The films that shock the shit out of us, the films that crawl into our heads and stay there for a long time, maybe forever.

As you may know, I'm quite a connoisseur when it comes to extreme cinema. Films like "Martyrs", "I Spit on your Grave" or "Breaking the Waves" are among my alltime favorites, and I frequently try to check out movies that are able to unsettle and disturb me, movies that turn me into a shivering wreck, unable to move, unable to shut my wide open mouth. Doesn't matter if uber-brutal or uber-emotional, as long as it shocks me to the core.

Over the next 7 days you'll get 7 reviews about all kinds of extreme cinema. From bizarre to intimidating to disgusting.
I did 2 reviews exclusively for Tromeric that will be posted on his blog in the next days
(and will also be posted on my blog at the end of the week), + 5 more brandnew reviews.

Are you ready? Let's go get extreme!



MEGAN IS MISSING

USA, 2011
Director: Michael Goi

9/10











When I first heard about "Megan is Missing", I thought it's some kinda found-footage drama about a missing girl. I wasn't that much interested in seeing it, but due to the fact that I constantly stumbled about raving reviews, I became more and more curious, and when I finally read my buddy Mitch's awesome review, I just had to see it - and I'm glad I did!


"Megan is Missing" is the most shocking found-footage/mockumentary-themed film I've ever seen (next to "The Poughkeepsie Tapes"). Michael Goi's second feature is an exceptional cinematic tour-de-force about the friendship between Megan (partygirl) and Amy (wallflower). After Megan gets in contact with a boy in a chatroom, she disappears and is never seen again. Her friend Amy tries to uncover the mystery of Megan's disappearance and encounters a horrifying nightmare...

The movie starts out almost like a MTV reality show, showing wild parties, kids quarrelling with their parents, and girls talking about blowjobs and shit via video-chat. The first 40 minutes are quite weird, at times even a bit dull and annoying - but then in the second half, you realize that is was absolutely necessary to stand through all the girl talk, and that you're actually in the middle of a movie that is way more clever than expected, a movie that deals with topics like kidnapping and sexual abuse, promiscuity and gullibility, outsiderdom and loneliness.


After Megan disappears, the tone shifts from strange to uncanny and haunting, right until to the 'infamous last 22 minutes': that's when things get really fucked up. We get to see 22 minutes of found videotape footage and learn the full truth about the girl's disappearances - and believe me when I say, that these are probably the most disturbing 22 minutes in horror history. I wasn't prepared for the insanity that is going on in that footage. Stuff that totally disturbed me, made my heart beat faster, made me shiver like crazy, while I stared at the screen wide-eyed and open-mouthed. Mix "Martyrs", "Irréversible" and "The Vanishing" together and you may get the idea...

The entire cast consists of non-actors but I was surprised how good their perormances turned out to be. Rachel Quinn is awesome as everyone's favorite girl Megan, and many of her friends come of as realistic and believable, but it's Amber Perkins as the anxious outsider Amy who really stands out and delivers a shockingly fantastic performance that deeply fascinated me.

 
All the footage was fabulously filmed and excellently edited. Lots of split-screen video chats, security cam live footage, believable-looking TV reports and one slightly hilarious TV re-enactment sequence. There are also many effective captions on black screen, a few gruesome (fake) photographies, and some drug/booze/sex party footage that - like other Imdb users already pointed out - looks like it was filmed in a Larry Clark parallel universe.

An extremely strong and powerful movie with an important message, and a few unforgettably brutal scenes I will never ever forget.

Wiki ~ Imdb

[Part 1 of a seven-part review-series about extreme horror / horror-related movies]

28 July 2013

Short Film Triple Feature: PAPERCUTS / JENNY RINGO / BAGGAGE

PAPERCUTS
(12minute short)

Ireland, 2013
Director: Stephen Bradley

9/10










I thought I've seen it all: blood-hungry refrigerators, undead sushi... but a fax machine that is possessed by the ghost of a dead mass-strangler?? Well, that's news to me :) Irish director / writer Stephen Bradley shows us how terrible the first day in the office can be, especially when the fax tells you that it
"will use your guts to paint my fence".


"Papercuts" is an excellently amusing and very well directed short film that kicks about as much ass as Lucas Masson's "Baby-Sitting". It's 12 minutes of hilarious fun and over-the-top gore, somewhere between "Redd Inc.", "Severance" and "Forklift Driver Klaus".

The acting is very solid and everyone delivers a cool performance, especially Matt Ryan as office worker Karl ("The fax machine. I gotta warn you, that's a real piece of shit."), Lorna Kennedy as assistant manager Lindsay ("Joe, I dont like you, so just do your shitty work and don't talk to me.") and David Kissane as Joe, the new temp ("Nice to meet you!").


There's lots of excellent violence and brutality (cut-through eyes, disembowelments, death by toner) and the gore effects all look cool. Camera work (Peter O'Connor) and editing (Kevin Handy) are top-notch, and I love Andrew Cooke's effective silly-muzak-vs-pulsing-industrial score.

Nothing to complain: "Papercuts" rocks! Your co-workers will love it ;-)

Imdb



JENNY RINGO AND THE INFINITE SPELLBOOK
(2minute short)

UK, 2013
Director: Chris Regan

8/10


Hey, Jenny Ringo and her lazy-ass mate Gavin are back! After "The Monkey's Paw" and "The Cabaret from Hell" (Both reviews here!), director Chris Regan returns with another entry in the Ringo-franchise, made exclusively for the "Virgin Media Shorts Competition 2013".

It's only 2.20 minutes long (which is obviously way too short) but it's one helluva fun. Jenny gives up magic, reminding Gavin of all the shit they went through, leading to her decision. There's dinosaurs, lots of scary clowns and city-size Pizzas; dangerous space missions and weird trips into the eighth circle of hell.


It's tightly paced, beautifully filmed and very well edited. There's lots of really fun-looking low-budget CGI, cool make-up effects, nice piano music, and the performances of Rosie Duncan and Lukas Habberton are once again delightful. Good stuff!

Oh btw, Regan expanded the Ringo-universe by giving Jenny the comic-treatment. Together with artist Paul Cousins, he created a 5-page-comic that bridges the gap between "The Monkey's Paw" and "The Infinite Spellbook".
Enjoy "Jenny Ringo and The Funhouse of The Damned":


Watch and Vote for "The Infinite Speelbook" Here!
Watch "The Monkey's Paw" Here!
Watch the "Cabaret From Hell" Trailer Here!
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Official HP




BAGGAGE

USA, 2013
Director: Jeremiah Kipp

6,5/10











Jeremiah Kipp, one of the most productive directors in short film business, provided me with another little film: "Baggage", a morbid tale about an office worker who has a few problems with his life, especially with his strange relationship...

The story is told in a simple and straight-forward manner which is good and bad at the same time. Good, because you immediately understand what it's all about - bad, because it sadly appears as predictable and foreseeable. Right after the opening credits, you know how the story will unfold and end, and due to the fact that the ending doesn't offer a major twist, I ended up disappointed.


In terms of technical aspects, it's typical Kipp-quality: the editing is top-notch and the smooth black-and-white cinematography is a treat for the eyes (both Jeffrey S. Gould). Love the absolutely excellent score by Barbara J Weber, especially the melancholy mandoline in the beginning and the Bernard-Herrmann-esque part at the end.
Also, good acting. Rob Dimension isn't the best actor in the world, but he delivers a neat and believable performance - and hey: Kelly Rae LeGault, what a hottie! :)

"Baggage" is a solid little short, but I'm sure it could have been a lot more solid...

26 July 2013

"MESSIAH OF EVIL (Chilling Classics 50 Movies Pack, #27)

MESSIAH OF EVIL

Alternate Titles:
The Second Coming / Messiah Of Evil: The Second Coming / Dead People

German Title:
Messias des Bösen

USA, 1971/1973
Director: Willard Huyck,
Gloria Katz (uncredited)

8/10



My goodness, that was bizarre! In fact... nearly everything about that movie is bizarre. First of all, "Messiah Of Evil" was written and directed by Willard Huyck and his wife Gloria Katz who were responsible for the screenplays of uber-blockbusters like "Indiana Jones and The Temple Of Doom" and "American Graffiti"! Huyck also directed "Howard The Duck"!!


The movie was shot in 1971 under the title "The Second Coming", but not released until 1973. According to actress/model Anitra Ford's personal blog, investors pulled out their money toward the end of the filming, and the film was never finished. Some French guy bought the unedited footage, edited it and finally released it under the title "Messiah Of Evil".
Walter Hill, director of classics like "The Warriors" and "Red Heat", and producer of the "Alien" franchise, has a cameo in the film (!), oh and many of the extras in the film were unemployed NASA workers!!!

The movie itself is a pretty artsy, incredibly dream-like and totally unique avantgarde-horror-film about a town inhabited by vampiric, zombie-like creatures who wait for their Messiah to come
The whole thing feels like it's a co-production of Amando de Ossorio, David Lynch and Mario Bava. It's bizarre and surreal, obscure and very, very weird. Is it all just a dream? Or a nightmare? What is real? What is dream? No explanations, no answers - but that doesn't matter because it's all so fascinating and so intriguing and it keeps you glued to the screen.


The movie features scenes that could have been inspired by Romero's "Night Of The Living Dead" (zombie-like creatures walking around, hunting and eating their victims), but also scenes that could have inspired Romero to let "Dawn Of The Dead" take place in a shopping centre (dream sequence in a supermarket where zombies stand around, eating raw meat). The overall atmosphere strongly reminded me of De Ossorio's "Return Of The Blind Dead", and there's one uber-brilliant scene where the undead fill up an empty movie theater, a scene which is ingeniously similar to the infamous jungle-gym sequence in Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds".


Large parts of the movie were shot in an artsy house full of awkward but super-impressive-looking paintings, but there are also many shots of a creepy half-abandoned town and a somewhat eerie beach. It's full of eccentric but fascinating characters like the albino who loves eating live mice while listening to Wagner (!), or the rich hipster who wears a white suit 24/7.
The score is simply beautiful (Phillan Bishop, "Kiss of the Tarantula"), Katz' cinematography is excellent and the overall acting is just great (stand-outs: Marianna Hill and Joy Bang).


A mystifying and mesmerizing chiller that is very worth checking out!


Wiki ~ Imdb


"PANIC" (Chilling Classics 50 Movies Pack, #26)

PANIC

Original Title:
Bakterion

German Titles:
Panik / Nightmare Killing

Italy / Spain, 1982
Director: Tonino Ricci (as Anthony Richmond)

2/10





The tagline says "Pray it doesn't happen here" and I'm not exactly sure what it means, though I assume it means something like "Death by boredom" because "Panic" (a.k.a "Bakterion") bored the crap outta me.

It's basically a daft, unoriginal and completely predictable ripoff of George A. Romero's "The Crazies", packed with tedious, tiresome and completely un-thrilling scenes, horrid-looking make-up effects and terrible actors.

Tonino Ricci's ("Thor The Conqueror") direction is horrible,
and the screenplay [written by Victor Andrés Catena & Jaime Comas Gil, the screenwriters of Sergio Leone's "A Fistful of Dollars"!!!] is so full of plot holes and pointless plot points, it's laughable.


2-3 decent mutant-scenes and some nice stock footage to make it look like it was shot in England (it wasn't) - the rest just sucks.

Wiki ~ Imdb



25 July 2013

HAZMAT

HAZMAT

USA, 2013
Director: Lou Simon

8,5/10











Compared to the uber-productive 80s, the slasher-genre nowadays is more of a niche-kinda thing and the number of slasher films getting released is pretty low which makes it quite easy to keep track of them. The overall quality of these films has gradually declined, but now and then, I stumble upon a modern slasher flick that just kicks ass, like "The Hills Run Red" or "The Collector"...

...or this one: "HazMat", a brandnew, highly intense and surprisingly smart slasher flick about the crew of a TV-prank-show called "Scary Antics" who try to set up a prank at an abandoned chemical plant where they come across a brutal axe-wielding masked maniac.


"HazMat" was written, directed and produced by Lou Simon, one of very few female filmmakers who've tried their luck in the slasher genre - and wow! Where most others failed (Katt Shea, Karyn Kusama), Simon fully succeeded. "HazMat" is a gripping and excellently thrilling psychological cat-and-mouse slasher that starts out as cool blend of "Grave Encounters" and "See No Evil", and ends up as a badass mix of "My Bloody Valentine" and "Halloween: Resurrection". If this description makes sense to you, you will love this movie :)

I was really gob-smacked by how tense and suspenseful the whole thing is. It's fast, compact and perfectly paced. No time for dullness or boredom, thanks to the super-tight direction, the powerful script and the high amount of strong, deep and wonderfully sympathetic characters. I liked them all, and I even cared for most of them. Also, very good acting, especially Aniela McGuinness and Norbert Velez.


The gloomy and claustrophobic corridors in the plant were all filmed in a stunningly intense way, thanks to some creepy lighting and the frequent (and highly effective) change between film camera, handheld camera and surveillance camera (Anthony Dones). The editing is absolutely terrific (Michal Shipman) and omg, I totally dug the atmospheric score which perfectly accompanies every scene, every sequence, no matter if slow or action-packed. Kudos to Michael Damon!

The movie's highlight is obviously the killer. Damn, what a badass! He's not wasting time with walking around or staring at his victims. No, he hunts them, runs after them, goes totally berserk, and when he catches them, he relentlessly hacks his axe into their helpless bodies. And his gas-mask looks even cooler than Harry Warden's! Now THIS is what I call a modern slasher icon.


Aside from some weak-looking CGI blood, "HazMat" is one helluva horror stunner, and definitely the best female-directed slasher flick since Amy Holden Jones' "Slumber Party Massacre". Nuff said.

Imdb

Big thanks to Lou Simon for sending me a screener of the movie!

24 July 2013

PULSE (2001)

PULSE

Original Title:
Kairo

German Title:
Pulse - Das Original

Japan, 2001
Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa

10/10





I'm a huge fan of J-Horror and Asian Horror per se, but of all the Asian horror stuff I've seen so far, there are only 2 movies that are so powerful, they really affect me in a personal and emotional way: the first one is Takashi Shimizu's "Ju-On: The Grudge" the only film that is able to give me nightmares - the other one is Kiyoshi Kurosawa's "Pulse", the only film that is able to depress me so hard, that I always end up as useless wreck, sad, crestfallen and close to tears.


To call "Pulse" an intelligent film is a massive understatement. "Pulse" is not only a pretty clever, very complex, and highly thought-provoking movie - it was actually completely ahead of its time, and it's still very timely because it deals with themes and topics that are now way, WAY more relevant than they were in 2001: the loneliness, isolation and alienation of today's disconnected society due to modern technology, especially the internet.

Kurosawa deals with these difficult subject by wrapping it up in an utterly fascinating storyline: the afterworld, or the place where all the ghosts and spirits go, has reached its finite capacity and starts to overflow. Via a simple medium (the internet), the ghosts slowly spill into the next available space (our world). So, it's basically "When the afterworld is full, the dead will walk the Earth."

When a human comes across one of these ghosts, several things can happen: the human gets trapped in an eternal state of isolation / loneliness, the human commits suicide, or the human disappears into thin air, leaving dark stains on the wall or on the floor - while the ghosts mysteriously disappear, or end up as weird ghost/human-hybrid. Whatever happens, it all starts to spread like a virus, eventually leading to the end of the world as we know it.


I pretend to understand the whole thing, but actually it's impossibe to fully understand it. Kurosawa unfolds the bizarre story in an almost Lynch'esque way. Nothing gets fully explained, no-one has a real clue of what's happening, some things make sense, some things make no sense at all...
but one thing is for sure: if you give yourself up to the movie, it will scare the shit out of you and take you to / show you places, you've never been before.

From the very first minute to the very last minute, "Pulse" possesses a haunting, hypnotizing and compelling atmosphere that is completely without equal; at times dream-like, at times scary as hell. Beautiful places all around Tokio that get more and more deserted, abandoned factories, empty subways, dark rooms, many of them sealed with red tape to mark the places where the ghosts have found an outlet into our world (or is it the red tape that helps them to get into our world?).


Though it's not the scariest movie of all time (that's "Ju-On"), it's full of really, really scary stuff that always gives me goosebumps. The outstanding scene with the wobbly, slow-moving female ghost, or the scene where we first get to see a human-like stain on the wall [for some reason, this one shocks me to the core every single time].
There's the shadow figure in the library that stands motionless behind a shelf, or the girl that suddenly "disappears" into the wall. Also: some impressive suicides, like the guy that goes from one room to another just to hang himself, or the girl that climbs a tower just to jump down to her death.

However, the whole film wouldn't be half as scary if it wasn't for the mindblowing music. The ethereal Dead-Can-Dance-like voices, droning bass, weird noises, uncanny strings... ah! Amazing! Massive kudos to composer Takefumi Haketa and Makio Ika for giving me some excellent eargasms.
The cinematography is absolutely stunning (Jun'ichirô Hayashi, "Dark Water"), the editing is near perfection (Jun'ichi Kikuchi, "Séance"), and the overall acting is really fine. No stand-outs, but they all deliver solid performances (Koyuki, Kumiko Asô, Haruhiko Katô).

A magnificent masterpiece, made to quicken your pulse, and to touch your heart.

Wiki ~ Imdb

Here's a little portion of that super-creepy music:



Oh btw, in 2006 the Weinsteins produced a remake of the movie which spawned twodirect-to-DVD  sequels. I've seen them all and they all suck. Long reviews will come sometime in the future. If you wanna know my ratings beforehand,
here we go:

Pulse (2006) - 4/10
Pulse 2: Afterlife (2008) - 1,5/10
Pulse 3: Invasion (2008) - 2/10

23 July 2013

PULSE (1988)

PULSE

German Title:
Pulse - Der ultimative Schocker

USA, 1988
Director: Paul Golding

9/10








"Pulse" (not to confuse with the Japanese movie of the same name) is one of only a handful horror movies about murderous electricity / murder by electricity (others are "Ghost in the Machine", "Bells", "Shocker" etc.), and aside from being the best of the crop, it is actually also one of my favorite horror movies of all time. It really is!


I remember seeing "Pulse" for the very first time in the early 90s on Christmas Eve in the late night program on some German TV channel. Parents and grandparents drank and quarrelled in the dining room, while I was sitting in the living room, having the TV all for myself *yay*
After watching "Die Hard 2" and something similarly badass (don't remember what), the title card "Pulse" popped up - I had no idea what the movie was about but it sounded mysterious and interesting enough to give it a go. Fast forward two hours: my mind was entirely blown and I was sure I just saw the greatest horror film of all time.

Ok, ok: it's NOT the greatest horror films of all time, but it surely is one of the most impressive, most unique ones I have ever seen. Yes, the premise is stupid ("intelligent" pulse of electricity terrorizes the inhabitants of a neighborhood by moving from house to house, trying to kill them). Yes, it's flawed, packed with stupid plot points and many things just don't make any sense - but guess who doesn't care about this? Right.


As flawed as it is, "Pulse" is such an stunningly creepy film, I'm amazed how it is still able to scare the shit out of me. It's actually one of very few REALLY scary late-80s flicks. Unfortunately, due to poor promotion and the obvious lack of any masked killer, hardly anyone was interested in seeing it, and so it was dumped to VHS with mediocre covers, ending up in the rental stores on the bottom shelves.

 "Pulse" could be described as PG-13 mix of "Final Destination" and "Maximum Overdrive" with a elements of "Poltergeist" and "Amityville Horror". It possesses a powerful and totally captivating atmosphere I haven't seen in any other film so far, thanks to the spooky and highly John-Carpenter-esque synth score by Jay Ferguson ("Nightmare on Elm Street 5"), stunning photography by Peter Lyons Collister ("Halloween 4"), and the persistent presence of an invisible and dangerous force that could be anywhere at any time.


It's sad that this is director Paul Golding's only feature film. The school day friend of George Lucas (they both shot the student film "Herbie") has a great talent for creating chilling tension and gripping suspense. The whole film is full of intense scenes that keep you on the edge of your seat, such as the scene where the boy is home alone snd suddenly the TV starts to act in a very weird way, the scene where the boy enters a super-creepy abandoned house, or the almost Hitchcockian sequence where the father goes into the cellar to track down a weird noise.

The special effects look fabulous (moving electricity, "face scanning"...) and all the macro shots of melting circuits / cables are simply fascinating. The cast is great and the characters are all very likable: Joseph Lawrence as frightened boy, Roxanne Hart & Cliff De Young as 'difficult' parents, and Charles Tyner as super-creepy old man.


One of the most underrated, most overlooked horror films of the 80s. A total must-see!

Wiki ~ Imdb

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