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.
Tuesday, 15 July 2014
Wednesday, 2 July 2014
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’ 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
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
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.
Tuesday, 3 June 2014
‘The Killer Must Kill Again’ is not a traditional giallo as it completely does away with three of the genre’s defining elements. Firstly, there is no mystery, as we know from the outset the identity of the killer and his motivation. Secondly, as there is no mystery, there is no convoluted plot with proceedings taking a more simplistic approach; no new characters pop up at the end to confuse the viewer making for a linear narrative that is pleasantly easy to follow for a change. Thirdly, in the middle act, the focus of the narrative switches to a young couple who find themselves caught up in George Hilton’s character’s dirty scheming. Despite the top billing of the euro cult favourite, Hilton takes a backseat here in a supporting role after featuring prominently in the opening act. These two young leads do not get to play amateur sleuths though trying to solve a mystery figuring out the cause of their predicament as is the norm in gialli because they are oblivious to what is going on and the unseen danger of a psychotic killer (Antoine Saint-John) stalking them.