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.

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.