Sunday, 12 April 2015

Pieces of Talent (2014) and a Missing Piece

Pieces of Talent (2014)

‘Pieces of Talent’ is an independently produced and distributed feature by Shutter Blade Media that has earned a bevy of awards from its film festival screenings and has garnered both critical and fan acclaim across the board since its release last year. It is directed, shot, edited and scored by the multi-talented octopus armed filmmaker Joe Stauffer who co-wrote the screenplay with fellow North Carolina native David Long (credited as Dustin Lewis as co-writer) the co-developer of its concept and is its star playing a character of the same name in a meta role. It takes the old serial killer snuff film premise and does something uniquely different with it. It is a tried and tested formula but it is the extra solution added to it that uniquely separates this from its peers in the sub-genre - some of which are great such as Last House on Dead End Street (1977) and more often than not are terrible such as ‘Snuff’ (1976).

Friday, 3 April 2015

Opera (1987)

‘Opera’ (alternative USA title ‘Terror at the Opera’) is Dario Argento’s reaction to being refused his wish of directing a stage adaptation of Giuseppe Verdi’s opera ‘Rigoletto’. British filmmaker the late Ken Russell had previously in 1984 directed a version of Giacomo Puccini’s ‘La Boheme’ that veered away from the classical to something very weird not going down at all well with the management of the opera house and was met with an at best mixed reception from critics and audiences. This dissatisfaction with Russell’s vision meant that a risk was not willing to be taken with Argento, as he is a genre director - an auteur of graphically violent giallo mystery thrillers and supernatural horror. With that, the filmmaker got cracking on a screenplay for this opera themed entry into gialli that would go on to be considered by many critics and fans alike as his last great work… although I cannot see why as that honour goes to 1982’s ‘Tenebre’.

Friday, 13 March 2015

Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning (1985)

‘Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning’ is much maligned by the majority of the slasher franchise’s fans. While I am not going to defend it as a good instalment as it mostly certainly is not (in my honest opinion there has not been a good one since 1984’s Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter) it is not quite the stinker it is made out to be. It does not languish at the bottom of the barrel scraping it alongside the atrocities that are ‘Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan’ (1989), ‘Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday’ (1993) and ‘Jason X’ (2001). Instead it ranks in the series somewhere just above climbing up the barrel a little as an entry that at least tried to do something different with the filmmakers having their work cut out for them as the studio Paramount wanted to keep milking the cash cow after what was supposed to be “The Final Chapter”.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

Tobe Hooper’s powerfully disturbing breakthrough ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ is a film of superior artistry executed for the specific reason to hate you and ruthlessly attack you; its sole intention is to drive you mad with its insane sights of the macabre a raw grueling waking nightmare that captures authentically the syntax of one. Everything here is made to draw that strong emotional response from your psyche causing an impact so deep you will not soon forget what you just saw as you experience its sheer horror suffering with anxiety, despair and fear from the psychological mindfuck it relentlessly hits you with as you squirm with immense discomfort. It is an uncompromising exercise in cruelty and savagery entailing torture, mutilation and murders and features five prolonged sequences of maddening terror with all these horrid events encapsulated in a constant thick atmosphere of dread.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Hospital Massacre (1981)

Warning! Spoilers ahead.

‘Hospital Massacre’ was made at the time when the slasher craze was really booming. The majority of entries in the sub-genre’s first cycle of its 1980 - 1984 Golden Age period innovated by ‘Black Christmas’ (1974), ‘Halloween’ (1978) and Friday the 13th (1980) followed suit by not just emulating these titles’ conventions to make a quick buck but also milked the trend of their time of settings with special day themes. These did not necessarily have to be public holidays but any day of the calendar with some significance, which was worked into the often-masked mysterious antagonists’ motivations for mass murder due to a past traumatic event on these particular days.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988)

‘Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood’ has some nice touches making it the last instalment in the franchise until the 2009 reboot or 2003’s ‘Freddy vs. Jason’ if it can be counted that is passably entertaining. There is just enough here to make it that… just. As it is terribly paced with a distinct lack of suspense and tension, the kills are extremely lacklustre in their execution cuts or no cuts and the teen characterizations and the performances of this supporting cast is probably the worst of the entire series.

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.