Director: Marcus Dunstan.
Starring. Josh Stewart, Andrew Roth, Juan Fernandez, William Prael, USA. 1h 30m.
Sometimes we just have the urge to sit back and watch people get tortured, and if that’s your bag, then this debut from budding director and gore king Marcus Dunstan is something that till tantalise as it has a fairly compelling backstory and delivers some trippy Saw like setups even if there are plot holes, the overall aesthetic and creepiness of the movie makes it a neon marvel of pain and guttural cinema for a new generation after the video nasty era slowed down to nothing all that special despite special effects and cheaper methods of film making becoming more available, it feels as if cinema got rather sensible for a while. But in the rise of gore and torture horror, for me this is own of the more wild and lavish mainstream titles. Continue reading The Collector (2009)
Director: Don Sharp
Starring: George Sanders, Beryl Reid, Nicky Henson, Mary Larkin, Roy Holder, Robert Hardy .UK. 1h 35m
AKA Death Wheelers
Sadly this is the only hippy occult psychotropic suicidal biker gang musical cult horror that Beryl Reid ever made, a movie that was the final nail in the coffin for George Sanders and one which most of the actors hated making but one of the first British cult motorcycle horrors that lives in the hearts of many fans.
Australian-born British film director, Don Sharp, is best known for his deeply atmospheric Hammer movies, in the 1960s, his titles included The Kiss of the Vampire (1962) and Rasputin, the Mad Monk (1966). In his early days he often appeared in B rated movies, this lead to him being adept at making the most of any meager budget, something which he demonstrated with his 17th Century based movie Witchcraft (1964) elegantly shot in monochrome and it’s follow up Curse of the Fly (1965) but his strangest picture is Psychomania. Successfully managing to combine the Hippy agenda of freedom and peace with a dark frog worshiping satanic cult, Sharp blends all of this with a tongue in cheek humor but without much of a plan as to the hows and whys of immortality and untapped power, the film wasn’t made to make sense but as a feast for the senses. Continue reading Psychomania (1973)
Director: John Mark Robinson
Starring: C Thomas Howell, Sarah Trigger, Brian Austin Green, R Lee Emey, Dale Dye, Michael Bowen, Michael Cavanaugh. USA. 1h 31m
If Chilling Revenge Western were a genre then this would be its definition, and despite the heat of the blistering desert, John Robinsons thriller only takes about 20 minutes to get to the first death, he really wasn’t messing around. After beating up some local bullies and getting the attention of the hottest girl in town the tall dark handsome stranger (Howell) rents a room and goes to the local hardware store, picking up some weird supplies, the clerk asks him “do much huntin’?” The Kid replies.. Thinking about startin” and we’re off to the first kill, the one that still leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
Continue reading Kid (1990)
Director: Emilio Portes.
Starring. Joaquin Cosio, Tate Ellington, Tobin Bell, Aurora Gil. Mexico. 1h 54m.
Whenever I need a real horror fix I usually find it within the ranks of non English, or at least non Hollywood movies, the last thing which really rocked my boat was the Turkish Baskin (2015) and the aptly named Aterrados/Terrified (2017) from Argentina to name a few, but in nearby Mexico I found a gem in Belzebuth. I was quite pleasantly surprised about this violent demonic film from seasoned director Portes, who’s mainly known for his fast paced action comedies, so to see him traverse this new genre like a pro says much about his outstanding directorial qualities and hopefully we’ll see more from him in the future, with this blinding spiritual sequel to Pastorela (2011). Continue reading Belzebuth (2017)
Director: Fernando Di Leo.
Starring. Henry Silva,Woody Strode, Adolfo Celi, Mario Adorf , Luciana Paluzzi Italy. 1h 35m.
Following on from Caliber 9, De Leo hits back with another violent manhunt movie.
After a shipment of drugs vanishes a rather charming syndicate boss Corso (Cyril Cusack) settles down two confidants and describes the mood for them, David (Silva) and Frank (Strodey) listen patiently while they are given clear instructions to travel to Italy, where they are to act as American as possible in order to gain the attention of their target, both men speak the language fluently and are more than capable of finding the man suspected of being responsible for the missing drugs and making him suffer. A local assistant, Eva will be waiting on them hand and foot and aiding their mission but the blundering idiot they are sent after might not be quite as useless as everyone suspects. Continue reading Italian Connection / Hired to Kill / La mala ordina (1972)
Director: Frank Merle.
Starring. Malcolm McDowell, Paige Howard, David Dastmalchian, Billy Zane, Katerina Mikailenko, USA. 1h 30m.
Malcolm McDowell somehow manages to steal the show while only playing a small but vital role in this dark twisted interview from hell as he looks away a handful of top contenders for a new role in his powerful company allowing them to eliminate each other for the perfect job.
I was really impressed to see this “sub-genre” of interview/exam thrillers cropping up within the Escape Room horror genre. It’s pretty scary enough to have a few strangers locked in a room desperate to escape but when greed or desperation for a new job is also thrown into the mix there seems to be a heighten level of underhandedness in an already cut throat world.
Each candidate is entered in the first of a series of jobs interviews with their fierce future boss, played by the seasoned McDowell whose presence rightfully dominates his screen time, his no nonsense approach gives a great indication of his ruthlessness in the boardroom, and his determination to find the right person. But waking up in a locked room with a few strangers, it’s James (Dastmalchian) who starts to steer the movie. I haven’t seen him in much since Prisoners where he plays that freaky psycho with the snakes but in a total reversal he’s quite a pleasant and capable lead but he’s only just stands out in this mix of mad characters. Continue reading The Employer (2013)
Director: Mary Harron
Starring: Christian Bale, Willem Dafoe, Jared Leto, Josh Lucas, Samantha Mathis, Matt Ross, Bill Sage, Chloë Sevigny,Cara Seymour, Justin Theroux, Guinevere Turner, Reese Witherspoon .USA. 1h 41m
After the success of a brilliant deeply disturbing and somewhat witty and stylish novella of the same name by Bret Easton Ellis, Mary Harron transformed the saucy satirical bits into this cult movie starring the charismatic Chriistian Bale at the front of star studded cast. Bale was set to steal the show and this really boosted his career and ego to the outer limits, but I can’t argue that he gives a smart and sensuous performance.
I read the book and was happy to leave it as that, something the original author agrees with, but it became impossible to totally avoid the movie as it’s used to popular culture so much through doll’s phrases, and gifs it’s unavoidable. Continue reading American Psycho (2000)
Director: Cédric Kahn
Starring: Stefano Cassetti .France/Italy/Switzerland. 2h 4m
Based on: Je te tue. Histoire vraie de Roberto Succo assassin sans raison
by Pascale Froment.
What exactly is a criminal? Someone who goes above and beyond to get what he wants with little regard to anyone else or the law, or a totally feckless loser who just stumbles from mess to another? Cedric Kahn manages to paint a detailed picture of a man who crosses both of these descriptions and still manages to be both comical and highly dangerous in his escapades.
In this brilliant, slightly polished adaptation of real events, a bizarre criminal anti hero is etched out as Cassetti masquerades as Roberto Succo, a mixture of Jesse James, Hitler and Norman Bates, he argues about art, nationality and politics along the way. Mr Succo, esconded form prison five years after being convicted for the murder of his parents in 1981. His death defying run of fun saw him elude police in three different countries for 2 years, spending his time woeing girls, sightseeing, killing, raping, burgling and fucking up the odd bank job. The movie is generally detested by the French police for its alleged glamorisation of a real-life killer, but it’s a testament to the accuracies within the film and highlights how useless they were to allow him to carry on for so long. Continue reading Roberto Succo (2001)
Director: Robert Schwentke
Starring: Max Hubacher, Frederick Lau, Bernd Hölscher, Waldemar Kobus, Alexander Fehling, Samuel Finzi. Germany. 1h 50m
Here is another chilling nightmare from the German home front, as the end of the war begins to loom into reality and defeat is imminent, a lone German runs deep into the woods while being chased by some overprivileged soldiers blowing horns and taking pot luck shots at him. The man manages to evade death and recapture and eventually stumbles on an abandoned car and uniform of a high ranking officer.
This crystalline black and white brutal masterpiece, possible shot in this style inspired by Spielberg’s Schindler’s List (1993) shows that the talented director Schwentke has gone back to basic and delivered something beautifully stark and somewhat monstrous. Continue reading Der Hauptmann / The Captain (2017)
Director: Brian Smrz
Starring Ethan Hawke, Xu Qing, Paul Anderson, Rutger Hauer, Tyrone Keogh, Nathalie Boltt, Liam Cunningham, Jeremy Yong .USA. 1h 39m
The overall character is like a science fiction bourne movie, the strengths lie in the espionage action thriller but you can’t ignore the countdown timer in the leads arm. But the film has a huge anchor and this drags along in a sea of theology Travis is a man on a mission but it’s plagued with ghosts of the afterlife, as he stands looking into the abyss it’s looking back at him and he’s reminded that he needs to make amends.
Travis Conrad (Hawke) is introduced as a drunk, hanging out with his father-in-law they are fishing and drinking in preparation for spreading some ashes, afterwards the old man, played by the enigmatic Rutger Hauer passes out and Travis heads to the tittybar, grabs a hit and notices some men following him, in a shifty trick he immobilize them and sits down next to the man who sent them, his old friend who offers him a job worth $2 million. Accepting his new job of executing a unknown man he has to find him, and so he starts tracking the family of an operative who’s been hired to protect him. While learning the whereabouts he spares Lin (Qing) but she kills him after plugging him in the chest, but Travis awakens on a hospital bed where’s he’s quizzed about the location, after givin up the news he soon realizes his mistake and that he’s time is up (again) but he breaks free, the doctor explains that he’s got a timer which gives him 24 hours to live again he spares another woman and escapes to get back at his employer by protecting his previous target but to summarize the film in one phrase, Travis is having a particularly bad day. Continue reading 24 Hours to Live (2017)