Category Archives: art house

The Jar (1984)

Director: Bruce Toscano
Starring: Gary Wallace, Karin Sjöberg, Robert Gerald Witt as Jack, Dean Schoepter, Les Miller, Don Donovan .USA. 1h 25m

Often described as one of the worst of the worst, this trippy sci-fi thriller is packed with a weird psychotropic atmosphere and has an interesting concept and sterling synth soundtrack but it really does write the book on how not to make a movie, while still maintaining that under-developed charm which B Movie enthusiasts really love.

It’s not entirely clear what Toscano was going for with his movie, it starts well but once the random trippiness kicks in his main character spends so little time in the real world there’s not a lot to grasp onto, the ploy is generally simple, but there’s so much imagery which really needs explaining. With attempts to blast the audience with Altered States-esque visual conundrums with alien and religious iconography. Continue reading The Jar (1984)

A Thought of Ecstasy

Director: Rolf Peter Kahl,
Starring: Rolf Peter Kahl, Ava Verne, Deborah Kara Unger, Lena Morris. Germany/USA. 1h 30m

This gentle murmur of a movie is half waking dream and half private investigation but the apparent nightmare that runs throughout its winding narrative is hidden behind a psychosexual noir.

A majority of the movie follows a bemused love sick German trailing around the American desert, in search for his estranged lover. With long sun bleached shots of the desert where naked bodies writhe together, mixed with elaborate sexual encounters set to pounding electronic soundtracks, the movie feels like a series of naughty dreams, but it’s easily missed quirk, is that the movie is strangely set in the near future, in an America going through a unusual heat wave and kind of political turmoil, this erotic thriller is science fiction as much as it’s art house, but the blend, while unusual is pretty captivating.

After finding a random book that reminds him of a heated love affair he had 20 years previous with a woman named Marie, Frank (Kahl) is spurred on by the reminder of their dark sexy fuelled romps, and immediately heads out to the USA to investigate the author. Her literary agent Liz (Unger) confirms the author is the same Marie, but has no contact details for her. Frank hangs around and meets a sex worker named Nina who sets up sophisticated scenarios with her colleague ?? and the pair record the sessions, Frank can’t help notice the similarity of Nina in both the women and becomes their cameraman in order to be closer to them, as he continues to read the book/journal about the mysterious Marie who he thought he knew but is only now discovering.

This is one of those movies where the journey is the movie, the destination is something you work out after the film had ended and that’s pretty unusual, but there’s a beautiful meandering sequence of sets and encounters to experience instead of gripping hold of a solid narrative and trying to mentally rip it apart, A Thought of Ecstasy forces it’s audience to sit back and feel and experience the delirium along with Frank.

Love is immortal. Seduction is Inevitable. Revenge is irresistible.

In-between scenes of Frank driving around the desert, reading Marie’s book, which runs like a journal of her time in the desert, his time alone is pretty dry, but once he’s with Nina and co, while she is a sex worker the movie slides into soft core porn, there’s plenty of nudity and sex, which I a lot of people were willing to trash it because of this, but accepting that it’s part of adult life the movie’s ability to shift totally is really impressive. Time seems to slow down, movements become like chorographical dance, is washed out sunny USA becomes soft and luxurious and very dark both in lighting and mood, this nightlife is very different and very seductive. You can see why Frank wants to be there, but the nagging feeling is that someone wants Frank to want to be there, and this is the big mystery which slowly unfolds to it’s resolute climax.

Rolf Peter Kahl, is the holy trinity of this project, director, writer and star, so while this is his all about him, you can only assume that the film is a perfect rendition of his original concept. It’s pretty easy to sit back and enjoy what’s put before you, it’s also impossible to just ignore that there is a bigger picture within a narrative that’s filled with naked bodies to move your attention away from the nitty gritty, or at least that’s how I felt about it.

On the surface it’s an attractive movie, but underneath all the softcore it’s a well of dark desires, death, a very distressing ending which is somewhat glazed over, but once you get it, it’s bloody brilliant if you can get through all the tits and art house it’s fully rewarding.

Rating 6/10

R: Amer (2009)
L: Desert Trip

Post Discussion

Història de la meva mort / The Story of my Death (2013)

Director: Albert Serra
Starring: Eliseu Huertas, Lluís Serrat Massanellas, Vicenç Altaió . UK. 2h 28m

Albert Serra, the Catalan trailblazer, always fascinates with his interpretations and adaptations of withering classic figures. Through a dusty lense he creates lavish cultured tapestries for them to play in, sometimes seeming alive now and again they seem as fragile and shaggy relics they have left behind.

His baroque mix up of pleasure meets desire in the guise of Cassanova meets Dracula combines fantasy and fiction in a flight of fancy style, at times it’s pretty grotesque while bolsters by lots of risque blush and tickles, a truly great adventure set against an unusual Transylvanian setting. Continue reading Història de la meva mort / The Story of my Death (2013)

The Blackcoats Daughter (2015)

AKA February
Director: Osgood Perkins
Starring: Emma Roberts, Kiernan Shipka, Lucy Boynton, Lauren Holly, James Remar. USA. 1h 33m

After an influx of “The Exorcism of [insert name here]” movies, Osgood Perkins hits back with an edgy and slow drifting art house approach to the saturated possession genre that insists on it’s audiences full attention; as it pulls them through a mid winter drama filled with tense dark undercurrents that chilled the cast before filming and has made it’s fans think and overthink the terrifying and mind bending finale.

Perkins struggled to get the film released despite it being loved at many film festivals, but after a change of name from February to the more sinister Blackcoats Daughter. Something which sounds like it came from an old rhyme or has a deeper historic meaning but it simply doesn’t. It’s these little touches which helped to confuse the audience and adds to the films mystery, Perkings does analogise that the blackcoat could be a priest or the devil, both have often been credited for dressing in black but he just simply liked the sound of the words together and it’s up to his audience to make what they will of it. Perkins has a talent for creating deeper mythologies within the narrative of his film projects and allowing interpretation, while this openness could be seen a wild genius, it can also become grating Continue reading The Blackcoats Daughter (2015)

Burning Shadow (2018)

Director: Alexandre Nahon.
Starring. Matthew Dennis Lewis, Russell Dennis Lewis, Roxanne Mesquida, Roger Guenveur Smith, Richard Edson, Julie Delpy, Sal Landi. USA/France. 1h 28m.

This is one of those films you stumble on and while you might not be able to really appreciate it in its entirety you can’t fault it’s delivery. Often the film is described in such a way that sells it so short, but without any facilities it is indeed about a man who is down on his luck and obsessed with a stripper, by chance, he meets a homeless man who’s his double who he invites him into this life. Don’t let this fool you there’s so much more bubbling away under the surface of this dreamlike fantasy film with a huge sinister overtone that plays on perception of reality.

Charlie (Lewis), is in a dead end job, flipping tables at a diner owned by a totally incomprehensible Julie Deply, often he has to skip out of his hotel window to avoid the landlady asking for overdue rents, the only reason he has no money, is that he spends every penny to see his favourite European stipper at the local club. And each day he marvels at the local kingpin, Mr Jones (Guenveur Smith) a cool latino who uses the relaxed diner as a halfway office, sat at his favourite booth with his mostly silent Frenchmen henchmen (Edson)who clearly is a character you don’t want to fuck with but they have an understanding and respect between all three of them, mostly based on fear more than admiration. Continue reading Burning Shadow (2018)

The Cell (2000)

Director: Tarsem Singh.
Starring. Jennifer Lopez, Vince Vaughn, Vincent D’Onofrio, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Jake Weber, Dylan Baker. USA. 1h 47m.

I missed the boat on this visual adventure I don’t feel too hard done by but I think if I had watched this 19 years ago then I might have got more of a wow out of the visuals but I’m sure I’d agree with myself that the story was a little weak. But what we didn’t know back then is that Tarsem Singh was only now beginning his his filmography of stunning but needful movies.

I got duped into seeing Anaconda (1997) and I’ll never trust J Low again, actually I didn’t watch her in anything until she acted alongside Viola Davis in Lila and Eve (2015) and I only watched it to see Viola do awesome shit.. but I was looking for visually stunning movies and it got mentioned, a lot, I knew that it involved some amazing costumes by Eiko Ishioka but I’m a sucker for a good story FIRST and stunning visuals to follow . This was a very lavish attempt at an insight into a killers mind while fueled up on bright dresses but also fell short at times usually when out of the dream world, the back up story just add up. Sadly it I was left feeling that this was just a poor rip off of Silence of the Lambs (1991) with an emphasis on style rather than substance, and masochistic imagery. Continue reading The Cell (2000)

Chi o sû nendo / Vampire Clay (2017)

Director: Sôichi Umezawa.
Starring. Kyôka Takeda , Momoka Sugimoto , Ena Fujita , Kanji Tsuda. Japan. 1h 21m.

I used to be blown away by Japanese horror, going through the Tartan Horror series with much glee as it was miles apart from the slowdown that was occurring with its Western counterpart. with the fresh of breath air that the creepy tales sprung upon me, eventually I started noticing a huge split between genuine Japanese Horror and that fringe area which incorporated their unique humor, gore, body horror and sprays of blood. After a while I let things run their course, on returning I was gobsmacked by the array of mundane items which the Japanese has found a way to make scary! Continue reading Chi o sû nendo / Vampire Clay (2017)

Shivers (1975)

AKA The Parasite Murders, They Came from Within and Frissons,Orgy of the Blood Parasites
Director: David Cronenberg.
Starring. Paul Hampton, Lynn Lowry, Barbara Steele, Alan Migicovsky . Canada. 1h 27m.

I wasn’t prepared for this movie when I first saw it, as a youngster, despite this I adored Cronenberg movies as there was a huge fantasy element of what the fuck about them, but re watching as an adult there are things we still really fully comprehend with his stories but it doesn’t make them less enjoyable. For a while I used to get Shivers and Squirm mixed up, but I really dug into the concept of viral orgies so if your up for some of that hit me up.

Opening with a commercial about the most perfect living area known to man, The Starliner Towers is a modern high rise in Montreal, the site manager named Merrick invites affluent people into their new faultless homes, in one of these units the first gruesome scene unravels, in a silent and violent clip, Dr. Emil Hobbes attacks, Annabelle, a young girl in a school uniform, strangles her, cuts open her stomach and pours acid into the wound, finishing himself off the scene ends, meanwhile Nick (Migicovsky) has stomach convulsions in his bathroom. Continue reading Shivers (1975)

Pe+et / Peter (2011)

Director: Skip Kite
Starring: Walt Kissack, Gary Sharkey, Ada, Lewis. UK. 1h 24m

Peter Sutcliffe has had a terrible reputation for a long time, and despite his feelings of remorse in this latter years public opinion hasn’t changed much. This drama is supposed to take you into the mind of one of the UK’s most notorious serial killers, using real archive footage it pieces together the biggest manhunt as well as dramatising Peters inner thoughts while he attempts to reflect internally. Continue reading Pe+et / Peter (2011)

Climax (2018)

Director: Gustav Noe
Starring: Sofia Boutella, Romain Guillermic, Souheila Yacoub, Kiddy Smile, Claude-Emmanuelle Gajan-Maull, Giselle Palmer, Taylor Kastle. France. 1h 35.

There is always something risque with any Noe film and usually it’s no big shock when the crazy sexual violence is going to spring in but Climax, a film which , for me doesn’t live up to its name and just doesn’t really pique, but it does get crazy, just crazy, nothing ban worthy… darn it.

I successfully managed to avoid the hype train, as I had no idea this was in the pipeline, the only piece of information I had was that the film was about some dancers who are spiked we with drugs, the possibilities are fucking endless. and yet. . 20 minutes in I was bored, 40 minutes in… I was bored then the plot picks up…but ultimately I was bored, let me explain. Continue reading Climax (2018)