Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Absurd (1981) and the Hack Ideals of Joe D’Amato

The Hack Ideals of Joe D’Amato

These are examples of great auteurs of Italian genre cinema - Mario Bava, Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci and Sergio Martino; legendary filmmakers whose best works have and will continue to stand the test of time. Joe D'Amato is in an entirely different league to this bunch - champion of the Serie A Hacks League. The late D'Amato was born Aristide Massaccesi and he used his real name in 1969 when starting work as a director of photography and also served as an assistant director on various productions. As a cinematographer, was where he earned his main crust though proving to be very talented even working with Martino. In 1972 gaining enough experience Massaccesi moved into directing his own features. He used many aliases throughout his directing career more so than any other filmmaker in cinematic history as so not to put his cinematography career at risk but still used his real name providing the camera work for his own films and is also credited as such for his screenwriting work.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

7th Day (2012)

‘7th Day’ is a psychological documentation of a serial killer set over seven days as the title suggests that breaks the fourth wall and is reminiscent in ways to such works as John McNaugton’s Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986) and Jörg Buttgereit’s ‘Schramm’ (1993). Independently produced on a micro-budget and distributed by Dire Wit Films (international distribution is handled by Beneath The Underground on VOD) the film was released earlier this year in February on DVD.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Discopath (2013)

Canada gave us some of the most notable slashers back in the sub-genre’s early 80’s golden age: ‘Terror Train’ (1980), My Bloody Valentine and ‘Happy Birthday to Me’ in 1981, ‘Visiting Hours’ (1982) and the more obscure entries ‘American Nightmare’ and ‘Curtains’ in 1983. The first of the bunch though to see the light of day in the wake of the phenomenal commercial success of Sean S. Cunningham’s 1980 slasher template Friday the 13th in the same year was ‘Prom Night’. It memorably featured extended disco sequences during the climax of the prom to capitalize on the then just about still in dance music craze. Now we have ‘Discopath’ the low-budget independently produced directorial debut of French Canadian filmmaker Renaud Gauthier who also serves as writer and producer. It is a retro throwback to this heyday of the slasher film actually using disco for its premise in the period settings of New York City, 1976 and Montreal, 1980. It was actually screened together with ‘Prom Night’ when it had its US premiere at the American Cinematheque in Los Angeles of October last year.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Lord of Tears (2013)

Low-budget independent Scottish production ‘Lord of Tears’ is simplistic in its approach and is even more effective for it in executing a chilling psychological supernatural horror defying the sub-genre’s contemporary output of big-budgeted mainstream Hollywood studio fare which is over reliant on CGI and clichéd jump scares. Lawrie Brewster making his directorial feature debut and screenwriter Sarah Daley has successfully created a faithful throwback to the Gothic era that is meticulous in its heartfelt devotion of bringing back. A labour of love not a smug trendy faux take that plays on this as its selling point but authentically looks and feels part of this genre filmmaking of a bye-gone age with genuine enthusiasm and passion for it in its conviction with a strong team effort.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Human Pork Chop (2001) and the Hello Kitty Murder

‘Human Pork Chop’ is an extremely vile opportunistic piece of Cat III exploitation filmmaking cashing in on a deeply disturbing horrific true-life crime. It was put into development simultaneously with another production by other filmmakers also based on the atrocity ‘There Is a Secret in My Soup’ as soon as the story was covered in the Hong Kong media becoming an overnight news sensation and was released in the same year of 2001. At the time of writing, I have yet to see this other film to make a comparison. The Hello Kitty Murder was a shockingly gruesome example of just how barbaric, cruel and depraved the human race can be.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Bloody Moon (1981)

1981 is arguably the premier year of the slasher sub-genre’s golden age. New films fell off the cookie cutter so prolifically that you could have almost set your watch by it but despite the mass quantity of output filling up American theatres almost every weekend, there was not that much of a dip in quality as this year delivered some of the best examples of this kind of horror filmmaking. Take your pick - My Bloody Valentine, ‘The Funhouse’, Friday the 13th Part 2, ‘The Burning’, ‘Happy Birthday to Me’, ‘Hell Night’, Just Before Dawn, Nightmares in a Damaged Brain, Halloween II and The Prowler - are all damn good slashers.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Assassins (2014)

A couple of years ago I wrote a review of the short film Assassins written and directed by the young and talented upcoming filmmaker Michael Bonomo and starring the hardest working character actor in independent cinema the extremely versatile Bill Oberst Jr.. Well now, they have teamed up again to collaborate on the full-length version that also marks Bonomo’s debut as a feature director which has just been completed and is about to hit the festival circuit. As well as the director’s chair, he also returns to writing duties but this time takes more of a secondary role in this department working with first-time produced screenwriter Dave Grant who also serves as an associate producer whose story has grown out from the original short basing the opening scene here on its entirety. Oberst Jr. reprises his role as hitman Nathan with this time the character credited as his surname Hargraves. He is a cold dead inside hardened veteran in his dangerous field of work; a dark world that is the only life he knows.