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Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Sexism And Gender Discrimination In The World Of The Horror Film!

Welcome Back, Folks!

Today, we get down andver-so-slightly-dirty! So settle down, get comfy, because this is going to be a long, but hopefully fulfilling ride for everyone.

Today, we deal with a significantly more weighty and unusual topic, for you all to consider and cogitate on. This time, the subject-matter stems from a discussion over at  Sex, Gore, Mutants  about the Soska Sisters' recent release AMERICAN MARY (2012) and also, an article by Keri O'Shea and Annie Riordan at  Brutal As Hell  where the issue of women in the horror industry and female horror fans was being debated.

From the outset, I should state that I am a heterosexual man. As such, that may colour my view on certain areas we are going to be discussing today. I'm no different to most hot-blooded men, in that I enjoy the company of the opposite gender. Right, I've said it. So, I'm not going to use this article to post material apologising for that. I am what I am. I'm not saying that's right, or that it's wrong. Nor am I arguing that there's anything wrong with being homosexual, if that is who you are. It's just that this is who I am. I am also not going to use this article, to say "Ah, pity those poor women. Don't they have a tough life?" That would be demeaning and sexist. That's not the purpose of what I want to write about. No, today, I want to examine some of the issues raised by the discussion and articles I mentioned at the start, as I felt they warranted further and deeper analysis.

As much as I am loathe to admit it, the sad fact is that even in the 21st Century, in the year 2013, it is still very much a Man's world. Men control most of the top positions in the major conglomerates (Apple, NewsCorp, Microsoft, the BBC, Hollywood, Bollywood, etc, etc). Men tend to be the ones in power in many governments. Men also tend to be the people pulling the strings, when it comes to the rest of us.

It's not right. It's not fair, and it's absolutely not just.

In an ideal world, Women would occupy at least half of all these same roles, should they wish to of course, and women would be treated as equals not subservients, in every country. Women would be paid at the same level as men, when undertaking the same role within a company. Women would be dignified as complete human beings, rather than the sexualised, and objectified beings that most of us men treat them like. (There's no point in denying it gents. We all do it, even if we won't admit it. And I include myself in that horrible association too!) There would be no glass-ceiling for women to have to break-through in the corporate world either. Childcare costs would be reasonable and fair, and available to either women or men, as and when they were needed. Laws would support women too, in their time of need. (Sadly, anyone who has been following recent news events, over the gang-rape of the unnamed female student in India at the end of December 2012, will see that we men have a long, long way to go to rectify the appalling treatment of women in the world around us!)

Let's not kid ourselves, gents. We men are to blame for the way things are in the world, when it comes to the treatment and subservience of women. It is us men who treat women in this disgusting manner. We condone it. We further it. We are absolutely 100% to blame for it. It is our fault women are constantly treated as second-rate persons. We do it, without noticing we do it. We do it, because we can. We do it, because we want too. We do it, because it helps keep the world in the manner we men want it to remain.

And we have to take a stand, and stop it.

Now, you're probably asking yourselves, what on God's Green Earth has this go to do with a blog on extreme cinema? It has everything to do with it, as I will demonstrate to you.

Think though the last year's worth of horror films you've watched. Ask yourself the following questions?

1) How many of the horrors you watched, featured victims who were all female?
2) How many films were written or co-scripted by women?
3) How many films were produced and/or directed by women?

With a few, very rare exceptions, I would make an educated guess:
1) That the majority of films you viewed, did indeed feature victims who were exclusively female.
2) That almost every film was written by a man, or a group of men, with minimal female input?
3) And that, almost every film was directed by a man also.

The possible exceptions, would be if you've watched The Soska Sisters (Jen and Sylvia Soska) in either their debut film DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK (2009) or their recent festival hit AMERICAN MARY (2012). The identical twin-sisters hail from Canada, where they've been causing a stir in the horror genre, ever since they were at Film School. DEAD HOOKER... was their low-budget shocker that took the world by storm, and demonstrated that whilst still relatively new to the film industry, these two ladies were destined for something much more, if given the time and money to hone their talent and take it to the next level.

February 2013, and it's "Women In Horror" month - Women In Horror Month Site - which writers Keri O'Shea and Annie Riordan have expressed some anger and disappointment about it.
But February is a vast wasteland of Why Bother? So hey, why not add to the misery and proclaim February to be Women In Horror Recognition Month too? Yeah, great, thanks.

Lately – by which I mean, over the last 15/20 years or so – this disturbing new trend has popped up among young(er) girls. They watch a handful of horror movies and suddenly feel driven to announce to the world that they – drum roll, wait for it – ARE FEMALE! Wow! They watch horror movies with their boobs and vaginas and everything! “LOOK! I’m a girl and I’m watching horror movies! How badass riot grrrl does that make me?! I am HARDCORE! I can watch horror movies just like boys do, but I’M A GIRL! Hear me roar! Check me out! But DO NOT call attention to the fact that I AM FEMALE because THAT’S SEXIST!!! I will proudly set aside a month for you all to worship me but DO NOT segregate me! You must recognise my feminine power without calling attention to it!”

Look, I’m female. I’ve been a female since I was born. I’ve also been a horror fan for roughly the same amount of time. This bullshit about female horror fans being overlooked, under-appreciated and discriminated against is exactly that – BULLSHIT.
At first glance, I would suspect that many of my male readers might be thinking "We're trying to do something good here. Look, we're celebrating womanhood in film, and extolling your virtues by placing you up on a pedestal." For my female readers, some might be agreeing with the men, but there may well be some who are also thinking to themselves, "God, what a load of sexist bullshit", just like Keri and Annie say. If I throw caution to the wind, there may even be a few of the men nodding quietly too. After all, isn't positive discrimination as bad as normal discrimination? Doesn't it seem a little perverse that in order to counter sexism, we have to actively promote one section of society over another?


But let's take a step back for a second. In the real world, in which you, I, and everyone else lives in knows only too well, the real-world can be a horrible, miserable and god-awful place to get by in. Yes, life can also be great and fantastic, and can serve up some amazing experiences, but life is tough for the most part. It's like playing a game, with no rules, and when you ask what the rules are, some twisted nutter says that "There are rules, but I'm just not going to tell you what they are. Yet each time you break them, I am still going to punish you"!

In the real-world, everyone is not equal. In the real-world, life is not equal. Some people are born luckier than others. Some are more financially stable than others. Some of us have a great life, some have a good life, and some have a shitty life. It's the inequality that can mar our life. We strive to fight back, to rebel, to make our stand on the world, and life just keeps on giving you lemons. And we all know how bad lemons suck!

Inequality can be a troubling state. Depending on where you are born, who you are born from, and which body you are born into, can alter the life you lead. If you are born into a poverty-filled part of the globe, your life may well be extremely tough. If you are lucky enough to be born into a wealthy family, then you may be set up for life, and never have to struggle for a single thing. (We should all be so lucky.) But inequality stays with us from the moment we are born, to the day we die. It's there, in every aspect of our lives, and in the background of each day we live, it toys with us to a greater or lesser degree.

Currently in the world, many nations are going through a truly agonising economic crisis. There are countries with extreme inequality between the rich and the poor, and mass unemployment affecting everyone - irrespective of your age. Life is certainly tougher today for most of us, than it was, say, back in 2003. We are poorer financially; poorer in our social lives, and time-poorer too. Ten years ago, "blogs", and most social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, 4Square, etc) did not exist. We still texted. We still telephoned. We even wrote the odd letter, every now-and-again. We still spoke to friends, family and neighbours - in person. But we had more time to do all of these things, rather than simply just wasting time telling people that we were doing something.

As technology has improved the way we can communicate with our friends, our family, borders between nations have shrunk. Yet, there is still deep inequality. Men and women are more inequal than ever before, despite the majority of both genders having access to all of this technology. In the cinema industry, men still control most of the films that get made. They are the ones who sign the cheques, dictate what you see and when you'll see it. This week, the 86th Annual Academy Awards, also known as The Oscars took place. In the entire history of one of the most famous awards ceremony's, only one woman has ever won Best Director - Kathryn Bigelow in 2009 for THE HURT-LOCKER. Yet, as female directors, there are a fair few around: Jodie Foster, Mary Harron, Kimberley Peirce, Julie Taymor, Gillian Armstrong, Sofia Coppola, Andrea Arnold, Jane Campion, Amy Irving, Agnieszka Holland, Julie Delpy, Catherine Breillat, Sarah Polley, Alison Anders, Lisa Cholodenko, Penelope Spheeris, Penny Marshall, Claire Denis, Amy Heckerling and Sally Potter - and they're just the ones I can think of, off the top of my head. However, in comparison to male directors, the talent pool is much, much smaller.

According to a report on  for every one female director, there are over 15 men doing the same. For the 21 women I've just named, that means there are at least 315 men. Now expand that figure globally, and let's say there are 100 major or well-known women directors, and there will be 1500 men. Let's now say there are 1000 nameable female directors, and there should be around 15,000 male directors. Women are still in the distinct minority.

Doesn't that figure shock you? It does me.

Now how many women do you think control the major film studios? Here is a list of the majority of major film studios, who deal with most of what you will see at your local cinema, whether that be multiplex, megaplex, or arthouse independent.
  • 20th Century Fox (Peter Rice), which is then owned by NewsCorp (Rupert Murdoch)
  • MGM (Gary Barber)
  • Universal (James Schamus)
  • Eon (Johannes Teyssen)
  • Working Title Films (Tim Bevan)
  • Paramount (Brad Grey)
  • Sony Pictures Entertainment (Michael Lynton)
  • Warner Bros (Barry Meyer), which is then owned by Time Warner (Glenn Britt)
  • Pixar (John Lassetter), which is now owned by Walt Disney International (Andy Bird)
  • Marvel Studios (part of Marvel Comics Inc.) (Isaac Perlmutter)
  • Miramax (Steve Schoch)
  • Lionsgate Entertainment (Jon Feltheimer)
  • The Weinstein Company (Rob Weisbach)
  • CBS Films (Bruce Tobey) 
Only one, single woman is in charge - step forward Ms Anne Sweeney who heads Touchstone Pictures! One woman out of 14 major companies, and these 14 companies often have many sub-divisions featuring smaller, independent or niche studios too, predominantly run by - you guessed it - men.

No wonder, women feel marginalised, segregated, isolated all of the time. For half of the entire human population, things aren't quite as rosy as they are for us men. And I know I'm generalising here, but I'm sure you will see what I mean. So what are we going to do about it?

Well, let's start with the simple thing. As utterly stupid as this sounds, women are human beings too. There are lots of decent female film-makers. Unfortunately, because many of the men are in control of the films that are green lit, not only are women not chosen to direct works that they may well be ideally suited for, they tend to get overlooked in full, when it comes to fictional films. Kathryn Bigelow is the exception to that rule. But even she has had to fight to get to where she is. Jodie Foster directs too, but as one of the very few openly lesbian film-stars, film writers, and film directors, it could be argued that she has an even tougher time with things. Anyone who saw her speech at this year's Emmy's can attest to this. Her speech was incredibly profound and moving. (Thanks to  for the following transcript.)
I’m 50. You know, I was going to bring my walker tonight, but it just, it just didn’t go with cleavage. Robert, I want to thank you for everything for your "bat" praise, rapid fire brain, the sweet intro. I love you and Susan, and I am so grateful that you continually to talk me off the ledge when I go on and foam at the mouth and say "I’m done with acting. I’m done with acting. I’m really done. I’m done. I’m done." Trust me, 47 years in the film business is a long time.
Thank you. Looking at all those clips, you know, the hairdos and the freaky platform shoes, it’s like a home movie nightmare that just won’t end. And all of these people sitting here at these tables, they’re my family of sorts: fathers mostly, executives, producers, the directors, my fellow actors out there. We’ve giggled through love scenes. We’ve punched and cried and spit and vomited and blown snot all over one another. And those are just the co-stars I liked. But you know, more than anyone else, I share my most special memories with the members of the crew: blood shaking friendships. Brothers and sisters, we made movies together, and you can’t get more intimate than that. So while I’m here being all confessional and I guess I just have a sudden urge to say something that I’ve never really been able to air in public, so a declaration that I’m a little nervous about, but maybe not quite as nervous as my publicist right now, huh, Jennifer? But, you know, I’m just going to put it out there, right? Loud and proud, right? So I’m going to need your support on this.
I am single.
Yes, I am. I am single. No, I’m kidding, but I mean, I’m not really kidding, but I’m kind of kidding. Thank you for the enthusiasm. Can I get a whoop or something? I mean, please. Jesus. Seriously, I hope that you’re not disappointed that there won’t be a big coming out speech tonight because I already did my coming out about a thousand years ago back in the Stone Age, in those very quaint days when a fragile young girl would open up to trusted friends and family, co workers and then gradually, proudly to everyone who knew her, to everyone she actually met. But now apparently, I’m told that every celebrity is expected to honour the details of their private life with a press conference, a fragrance, and a prime-time reality show. And you guys might be surprised, but I am not Honey Boo Boo, child. No. I’m sorry. That’s just not me. It never was, and it never will be. But please don’t cry because my reality show would be so boring. I would have to make out with my own (unintelligible), or I’d have to spank Daniel Craig’s bottom just to stay on the air. It’s not bad work if you can get it, though. But seriously, if you had been a public figure from the time that you were a toddler, if you’d had to fight for a life that felt real and honest and normal against all odds, then maybe then you, too, might value privacy above all else.
Some day in the future people will look back and remember how beautiful it once was. I have given everything up there from the time that I was 3 years old. That’s reality show enough, don’t you think? There are a few secrets to keeping your psyche intact, over such a long career. The first - love people, and stay beside them. My family and friends here tonight and at home. And of course, Mel Gibson. You know you saved me too. There is no way I could ever stand here without a acknowledging one of the deepest loves of my life, my heroic co parent, my ex partner in love, but righteous soul sister in life, my confessor, ski buddy, consigliere, most beloved BFF of 20 years, Cydney Bernard. Thank you Cyd. I am so proud of our modern family, our amazing sons, Charlie and Kit , who are my reason to breathe and to evolve, my blood and soul. And boys, in case you didn’t know it, this song, like all of this, this song - is for you.
Bowing to an enraptured crowd, Ms Foster then left the stage. So what does this say about sexism and gender discrimination in the world of the horror film? Plenty.

The sad fact is, that for most women, trying to break into the film industry, is tough-going at the best of times. Entering a genre that is so male-centric as that of horror, means you are essentially entering the boys-own world, and should be wary of doing so. Whilst there are many women who love horror films, horror novels, for every transgressive movie that features strong women behind or in-front of the camera, there are thousands of others that don't. Horror and exploitation even have sub-genres known as WIP films: depending on who you speak to, it refers to "women-in-prison" or "women-in-peril". There's no male equivalent, of course, but it does demonstrate in spades, just how sexist the horror genre can be. I've mentioned the term "torture porn" before, in previous articles. The fact that "torture porn" is also a sub-genre of horror and is a sub-genre that is (predominantly) one whose whole raison d'etre is the depiction of women being tortured for both the film's killer's pleasure, as much as that of the audiences, kind of speaks volumes.

I'm not saying it's wholly wrong, but the fact it is such a significant area of the horror genre does bother me. Why are there so few films that feature female killers? Why do so many films feature female victims, who are - almost without exception - scantily-clad, topless, or naked?

Dario Argento once said:
I like women, especially beautiful ones. If they have a good face and figure, I would much prefer to watch them being murdered than an ugly girl or man. I certainly don't have to justify myself to anyone about this. I don't care what anyone thinks or reads into it. I have often had journalists walk out of interviews when I say what I feel about this subject.

The first, significant horror novel to feature a women in peril, was probably Bram Stoker's "Dracula", (in which Dracula hunts Jonathan Harker's devoted fiancee, Wilhelmina Murray). Written in the same era as the rise of the Women's Movement, women the world over wanted to take a stance against inequality and unfair treatment. Moving through three "waves" or movements, (1st Wave: refers to the feminist movement of the 19th and early-20th Centuries, which focused on female suffrage; 2nd Wave: from the 1960's to the 1980's, which dealt with gender inequality in laws and culture, and the 3rd Wave, which focused on the different, but nonetheless impressive achievements made by women in the USA), women were making it known to all that they were no longer standing being treated as second-rate citizens any more.

So can we blame Stoker for writing the first "woman-in-peril"? Was he being a sexist, pig-headed man, or was he just writing what he wanted to write? It would be wrong and foolish to lay the blame solely at Stoker's door. That would be far too simplistic, but as the man who started-off the horror genre as we really know it, he should take a tiny portion of the blame. One of the many reasons women are treated as inferiors, is because the world is unequal. When anyone in power has more power over some than others, then that person, people, or organisation will (usually) try to do what they feel is best, not what is necessarily best. Just take a look at any government.

How many governments say "Vote for us, and we'll do X, Y, and Z". You vote for them, they get into power, and then the inevitable happens: they do anything, everything, except X, Y, and Z. Politicians are notoriously powerful, but twisted people. The majority only tend to become politicians, because they seek power, and they are willing to do anything to get that power, even if it means stepping on toes of colleagues, friends, family and the electorate-at-large to gain that power. I've mentioned in past articles on my blog about the cases of the Expenses Scandal from 2011.

In recent weeks, here in the UK, Chris Huhne, a politician, has been convicted of "perverting the course of justice" at Southwark Crown Court, for coercing his now ex-wife, Vicky Pryce, into taking points on her driving licence, for a speeding offence he committed. (He is due to be sentenced in the coming weeks.) The allegations are that he used marital coercion to get her to sign a DVLA (Driver And Vehicle Licensing Agency - the organisation who licence all motorists and vehicles, here in the UK) statement saying it was her that was driving the car at the time, when in fact it was him. He wanted Ms Pryce to take the points, as he was on the verge of being banned if he gained any more. I should also say, that she is being tried as well, to see whether she "perverted the course of justice" or not too.

Much of Europe is currently dealing with the "Horsemeat Scandal" - see  Horsemeat Scandal Timeline  for more info. More corruption. More misuse of controls. More abuse.

Corruption is rife, everywhere. I'm sure you've heard of the saying "Absolute power, corrupts absolutely" attributed to John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton. Well, it's true. You've also heard of "With great power comes great responsibility" (attributed to - depending on who you ask - Stan Lee, Franklin Roosevelt, or possibly Jesus Christ!). Again, so true. But if power corrupts and makes you irresponsible, and in the process, also turns most men into raging, sexist dinosaurs who seem to want to keep women under their thumb, then maybe the time has come to remove power from people. To making everyone truly equal, and to disperse "power(s)" to different people, so no, one individual has enough power that can corrupt them, or anyone around them.

This may sound blase, but most women don't want, desire, (or need) power. They just want to be treated as equals. To be given their fair dues. To not be treated lesser than a man. And that's not really a big ask now, is it? However, within the world of cinema, and to a lesser but still formidable extent, the horror genre, women are kept under the thumbs of men. Physically. Psychologically. Emotionally. Mentally.

Yes, there are more women working in the fields of horror - academically it's never been better, and likewise, in the field of literature, female horror authors have never been more abundant - but in the film industry, they are few and far between. It's still predominantly men directing films written by men, featuring men killing women, for a predominantly male audience. And the killings are almost exclusively men killing women during sex, (or who are about to have sex, or who are in some state of undressing). It seems Hollywood seems to want to equate sex with violence, despite the fact that Hollywood has one of the toughest stances on mixing sex and violence in the MPAA. (See the documentary THIS FILM IS NOT YET RATED for an in-depth discussion on what the MPAA allow and don't allow when it comes to sex and violence.) Violence is okay, sexual violence is better still, but God-forbid you dare show just plain, ordinary, bog-standard sex featuring two people making love!

I can't even recall the last film that featured a strong female killer, going after predominantly male victims. BAISE-MOI (2000) perhaps? BOY MEETS GIRL (1994, Ray Brady)? Or do we need to go back further, to the likes of I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE (1978)? There have been more recent films featuring female villains, e.g. EXCISION, INSIDE (aka L'INTERIOR, 2007, Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury), but they are few and far between.

So why does the horror genre keep taking the safe, easy route of men killing women, and male directors filming tales about men killing women? I say this, in the same month, that the US remake MANIAC (2012, Franck Khalfoun) is due in UK and US cinemas. The film, a remake of the 1980 exploitation flick from William Lustig, features a man who preys on women, to rape and then kill them, before scalping them and placing their heads on mannequins! Both films have been heavily accused of misogyny, and it's easy to see why. Women are portrayed as sexualised beings, and victims. Nothing more. If this was only an occasional issue, or even if such a plot formed 40-60% of all horror films, then it wouldn't be a major problem, as there would at least be 40-60% to counterbalance them.

But it isn't.

It's the norm! Nearly every major horror film, is nothing more than men killing women. And that depresses the hell out of me.

A good horror film will not simply be "killer stalks women", "killer kills women", "killer dies", which is what many of these films resort too. We'd have horrors that deal with other aspects. I am in no way saying that women in horror films should never be killed (or injured or attacked). I simply want things to be a little more equal. If what Dario Argento says is what many horror movie writers and directors think, and it probably is, then the horror genre will always be a sexist, misogynistic field. And it'll be a field in which women are marginalised and sexualised, and compartmentalised forever. The only times they will break-through, is when they are marginalised, and sexualised, and compartmentalised - by men.

Just take a look at the Soska Sisters...

With all respect to them, and I absolutely do not mean any offence here, would these two women have got to where they are, if:

1) They weren't stereotypically attractive (by Western standards)
2) They weren't young (they're 29 years old each, having been born on April 29th, 1983)
3) They weren't identical twins

I know that's going to sound disgustingly sexist, but would the likes of Eli Roth want to help these new recruits get AMERICAN MARY into production. (And just in case anyone is confused here, I am in no way suggesting that the Soska Sisters haven't got to where they are, except through sheer hard work!) According to Marc Lissenburg from his interview with the Sisters over at  Sex, Gore, Mutants Roth assumed that the script already existed. Would DEAD HOOKER... have been given a distribution deal by Monster Pictures, Bounty Films and Eureka Entertainment (all one-and-the-same-company), if the distributors weren't able - in part, at least - to capitalise on the fact that the Soska Sisters look the way that they do, and are the age that they are? If they had been two, ordinary, average-looking women in their mid-40's, would their film have even been considered releasing at all, in any form? Somehow I doubt it, and that's not to demonise the Sisters, but more a demonising of the men who work in the film industry, and saw oodles of sex-appeal and dollar signs when their photos probably crossed their desks!

Sex is now infused in everything. From adverts in magazines and on billboards, that use double-entendres to sell you stuff you don't need, through to things like the fashion and cosmetics industry, where women are constantly bombarded with imagery and words that says "You aren't beautiful or sexy, unless you use this"! It has now crossed genders, and is being targetted at men too. "Joop Homme" is a men's fragrance that is constantly being advertised on the UK branch of TV network Fox. The likes of David Beckham, the topless Diet Coke guy, Matthew Fox and Josh Holloway plug at our synapses, to get us to buy "Davidoff Coolwater", or use the latest shaving lotion from Gillette. It's reverse-sexism: show the hunky guy as an unobtainable, unachievable sexual piece of meat, and - if you're a woman - you can have him if you buy our products, or - if you are a man - you can be him, and be desirable to every single woman, who will submit to every sexual desire your heart desires!

Well, I hate to break it to ad-exec's all over the globe, but most men and women aren't that shallow. We know full well your products will NOT make us more desirable, more attractive or more sexually-voracious, just because you tell us so. We know that you've auto-tuned, and Photoshopped the models in your ads to within an inch of their life, so they appear flawless - a truly hideous example amply demonstrated  here  of Jessica Alba. (The left-hand image is the "before" or original, untainted image, whilst the right hand side one is the "after" or modified and published image. Note how they've accentuated her bust size and height; modified her hair; made her much thinner at the waist, and made her look positively anorexic around her neck and shoulders, so that you can see her joints!)

I'm probably veering too-far off-topic, and for that I apologise. I'm angry at the inherent sexism and victim-nature in a film genre I love deeply. From silent classics like NOSFERATU (1922, Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau) and THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1925, Rupert Julian) to modern-day slashers such as FRIDAY THE THIRTEENTH (1980, Sean S. Cunningham) or A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (1984, Wes Craven), right-through to the soon-to-be-released version of MANIAC I mentioned earlier on, films use (and treat) women truly disrespectfully. Weak, willing (or unwilling) victims to be dispatched, inthe most pornographic and vile methods possible.

We shouldn't need something like Women In Horror Month, but we do need to have women given a much fairer deal in the world of horror cinema. Women should not always be portrayed as victims, as pieces of meat. Nor as disposable sexual objects, and little else. They are our equals: complete beings with thier own seperate but equally valid interests and voices. Let's have more of them working behind the cameras, writing scripts, and workshopping on films. If more women were given such chances, I think the horror genre might actually grow and expand in a way it hasn't done for years now. Considering most of the most-interesting horror works now come from Europe, and not Hollywood (or America), maybe the trend for better, stronger roles in-front of and behind the cameras will start there?

Women have the right to be heard and seen in horror, just not solely naked, bloodied and screaming, at the hands of men!

Thank You for reading.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Some Things Are Just Not Meant For Children

The blockbuster action film A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD (2013, John Moore) has just been released into UK and US cinemas this week. In the USA, it has garnered an uncut R-rating. Here in the UK, it was pre-cut by the UK-arm of 20th Century Fox, to gain the more commercially-viable 12A rating.

Simultaneously, on the website "Den Of Geek", Simon Brew wrote an article  here  asking if Britain needed a new certificate along the lines of the Irish 15A or US PG-13, so that it would be up to the parents to decide whether their under-15's were mature enough to cope with seeing A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD uncut or not. For those who don't know, the British Classification System predominantly has five cinema ratings, which are as follows:

U - Universal: Suitable for anyone

PG - Parental Guidance: Parental Guidance suggested. A film with this rating should not disturb or upset children over the age of 8.

12A - No one under the age of 12 can see this film, unless accompanied by an adult/guardian over the age of 18. Parents are strongly cautioned that a 12A-certificate film may contain material or themes that are unsuited for audiences under the age of 12 years.

15 - No one under the age of 15 can see this film.

18 - Adults only. No one under the age of 18 can see this film.

Back in 1989, when BATMAN (Tim Burton) came to be classified by the BBFC, it was decided that because the film was predominantly unsuitable to be classified at PG without significant cuts, but a 15 certificate was too restrictive, the BBFC introduced the (then) new 12 certificate - similar in nature to the MPAA PG-13 classification. Its aim was to acknowledge that there were films that younger teens could see, whilst simulatanousely acknowledging that a 15 would be unfairly restrictive, but also, to inform those parents of youngsters below this age that they may find the film's content or themes totally unsuitable.

Since then, the BBFC have downgraded the 12, to a 12A rating, meaning that the film is technically unsuitable for under 12's, but if parents feel that their offspring can cope with the film's content and subject matter, then parents are free to accompany them should they so wish. A 15 or 18 certificate is deliberately restrictive, to warn audiences that films with these ratings are (for the most part) not suitable for anyone under those ages.

In recent years, there's been a problem where films that would have received a 15 certificate, have been cut by the BBFC or pre-cut by the film's distributors themselves to gain the more cash-friendly 12A rating. As a 12A pretty much means anyone can see the film, providing an adult or guardian is accompanying minors, then you can understand why a distributor actively targets this classification. The 12-to-18 year old demographic is one that will spend a fair amount of thier own (or parents) cash, going to the cinema; going to the cinema regularly, and more importantly, often going in large numbers (groups). Therefore, when films can live or die by the number of bums-on-seats, and in an age when many younger film fans catch films not at cinemas but via internet downloads (of the legal or illegal kind), then distributors will do almost anything to get this significant portion of the populace into the cinema, even if it means bastardising a director's original intention.

In the past few years, blockbusters such as THE WOMAN IN BLACK (2012, James Watkins), TAKEN 2 (2012, Olivier Megaton), and THE HUNGER GAMES (2012, Gary Ross) have all been cut or pre-cut in order to gain the more financially-viable 12A rating, instead of the uncut 15 rating they would have garnered. In some cases, once these films reach Blu-Ray, the distributors then re-insert the contentious material, get it reclassified as an uncut 15 certificate, and release it for people to buy to view in their own homes (presumably with under-15's in tow)! To add further insult, they slap the words "Extreme Version" or "Uncensored Director's Cut" across the top of the Blu-Ray packaging, to rub salt into the wound, that you are now getting to see the film untainted. Such material may only amount to a few seconds, if that, so the strapline is a little bit of a farce, in comparison to a true "Director's Cut" or "Special Edition" of a film, which may feature 20, 30 or 60 minutes of extra material in it.

In Britain, many film fans get annoyed at these 15-rated films being cut. What many fail to understand and accept, is that - in the majority of cases - the films are shown to the BBFC in an unfinished form, and the studios, distributors or directors say to the BBFC "We want to get a 12A rating. Is the current form suitable for it?"

More often than not, the BBFC come back after viewing the rough-cut and explain that "no", the film is not suitable for that rating. The BBFC then advise the film's creators/backers that they can do one of two things:
- make X, Y or Z alterations/cuts/edits to gain the 12A rating, or
- accept the more commercially-restrictive 15 classification, but your film will remain uncut and uncensored.

Sadly, as I have already mentioned, nine times out of ten, the film gets cut.

People have argued about whether the BBFC should be advising on films, whilst in-production, at all. To be fair, the BBFC are only offering such a service as a courtesy. As far as I am aware, the studios and directors don't pay for the BBFC to preview their works, so - if anything - the service is being performed for free, ergo the BBFC don't care either way what the result is. It's all down to the studios themselves. It is they who make the final decision to cut or not.

In the USA, the MPAA would charge you for this kind of service. In fact, they do. You can submit a film as many times as you wish through their hallowed halls, but all you'll get is a list saying that your film will be given a specific rating. If you wish your work to receive a less-restrictive classification, then you'll need to tone down, edit, adjust, censor or modify some of the content. What the MPAA emphatically will not do, is tell you what to cut, or what are the offending or troubling moments. They are simply there to advise you.

Anyone who has watched Kirby Dick's superb documentary about the MPAA - THIS FILM IS NOT YET RATED (2006), will know just how cloak-and-daggerish the MPAA are. In fact, it's one of the many things film distributors and directors hate about the MPAA. They simply will not help you at all. They merely offer you tokenary advise, along the lines of "We think this bit was too violent (or too sexual in tone)" or "Well, overall, the film's theme was very adult in nature", but that's as far as they'll go. Worse still, you won't be told who viewed the film, nor anything about how they came to their decision on whichever rating they choose to assign your film.

So, to be fair, I think that the BBFC advising a studio or director, is actually rather generous of them. It could be argued that they are going way beyond their intended roles - namely just to classify and rate films, and nothing more - but I think the BBFC actually want to help studios and directors, rather than hinder them (whilst the MPAA definitely do hinder)! They see cinema as an artform, not just a commercial entity, and will often go to painstaking levels to help people out, wherever and whenever possible. You can't say that about many other film classification boards around the globe.

Going back to the original "Den Of Geek" suggestion about whether or not Britain should have a new 15A or PG-15 rating, I personally think the idea is terrible. For many adult cinemagoers in the UK, one of their pet-peeves is younger cinemagoers ruining their enjoyment when viewing a film. I've seen and heard many stories of adults going to an evening showing of a 12A-rated film, only to have their enjoyment harmed because of youngsters not being mature enough to handle the theme or content, or simply because of pre-teens chatting, kicking seats, and/or using mobile phones during the film. Now, I'm not suggesting all youngsters are like this. I'm sure many aren't. But there are plenty that are. In this day and age, many youngsters can't (or don't want to) sit and stare at a screen for two hours. They'd much rather watch the film, whilst also texting and talking to their mates. That may be fine to do in your own front room, but at a cinema, it's something that gets right on my (proverbial) tits! In fact, anyone - child, teen or adult - who thinks that it is acceptable to talk loudly or use a mobile during a cinema film, is likely to incur my wrath. If you can't stay off of your phone, then get the hell out of this cinema, and wait until the film comes to DVD/Blu-Ray. Then you can rent it, and check your phone as much as you want, in the comfort of your own home, and not annoy the hell out of me, and other cinemagoers as well.*

I digress...

The other reason a 15A or PG-15 certificate would not be good for adult cinemagoers, is that there are sometimes things that are simply not aimed at, or intended for children. Sometimes films are made, that are made by adults, for adults, and only for adults.

Why should I have to accept a cut-down or censored version of a film, because society feels that we have to "think about the kids"?!

Why should we adults have to put-up with watered-down films because you parents can't be bothered keeping a better eye on what your kids consume at home?

Why should us adult film fans, have to tolerate your offspring ruining our enjoyment of a film, simply because you don't want to pay for a babysitter?

These are all perfectly reasonable questions.

How many times do we see news articles in the press or on TV, that a minor has seen something they shouldn't have, and how society should have done more to protect said minor from seeing something as allegedly despicable as THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE (2009, Tom Six) or has played CALL OF DUTY: MODERN WARFARE 2 round their mates house, when they are only age 11, and then been disturbed by the "No Russian" level?

If you have kids, they are your responsibility, not the rest of society's! Don't dump them on the rest of us, because you can't be arsed to do your job as a parent properly. It's not fair on us adult non-breeders, who have deliberately chosen not to clutter-up the planet, with noisier, smellier, junior carbon-copy versions of ourselves.

On this blog, there's a warning you have to click through, to accept that some of the content on my blog may not be suitable for younger audiences, or may contain material you may find offensive or distasteful. I have put that there to notify all of my readers. It's a warning. A polite notice to say, "Look, there may be some stuff you don't like. Are you cool with that?" If you are under the age of 18, and click through onto my blog, and then see or read something you find offensive or distressing, then I'm not going to censor my blog just to accommodate your immaturity and stupidity. Likewise, if your parents catch you, or you view this blog in an establishment that may have strict regulations on the sites you can visit, I gave you the chance to not come here. If you choose to come visit - which I do appreciate, by the way - then I am not going to be held responsible for your mistakes.

And I think that's the main crux of the issue here. Takling responsibility. Do we really need a 15A or PG-15 rating? Absolutely and resolutely not! Adults and kids are not the same.

Parents, if your child(ren) want to see or read or play something that is not suitable for them, because it has a classification rating on it, then please, adhere to the rating. It's there for a reason. Speak to them. Explain why they can't or shouldn't see SALO or A CLOCKWORK ORANGE. Tell them why FARCRY 3 isn't intended for them, even if their friends are all playing it. Demonstrate that sexting one another with pictures of their genitalia, isn't cool or clever - it's very, very dumb, and very, very dangerous for their future. (There's nothing to stop that image circulating on the world wide web forever more, and it'll also remain online long after your life has finished on this planet, my son.)

Film Distributors/Studios, if you want to cut or edit your films to gain the 12A/PG-13 demographic, then don't get angry when adult cinemagoers decide that they're not going to go see your work, and instead, wait three or four months for the uncut, original version of your film to come out on home viewing formats - which it almost ineveitabley does. Also, if you are going to consistantly chase the Dollar, the Pound or the Euro, then you may lose cash from other sections of your audience. Let kids be kids. TAKEN 2 has themes that really aren't intended or suitable for pre-teens. So don't sanitise it, to make it palatable for them. Don't try and knock-up a version of your film, that means a film about assassinations, kidnapping, and torture becomes acceptable subject matters for under-12's. By doing this, you are sending out the wrong message to adults and kids alike. You are conditioning younger audience-members that anything can be made safe for them to view or play, without them understanding that those subjects or issues may have adult consequences that they have no idea about, let alone can possibly comprehend.

Kids, don't be so eager to grow-up all of the time.

An occasional bite of the adult-world, may seem fun, exciting and daring at the time, but trust me - being an adult isn't always that great or fun in reality. Yes, you have the freedom to smoke, to drink, to watch porn, to (ab)use drugs if you so wish. And yes, you get to see whatever you want or play all those 18-rated games your parents warned you against. But as an adult, you also have to worry about things like keeping a job, putting food on the table, paying your household bills, politics, crime, relationships and fitting-in with everyone else around you, whilst simultaneously being unique at the same time. Enjoy being young and carefree. You'll soon have unrestricted access to the world at large, and then you'll be free to corrode your body and your brain as much as you wish too... with no one else to blame for it, when things go wrong, but yourself.

Thank You for listening!

* = This happened the other night, when I went to see HITCHCOCK (2012, Sacha Gervasi). The adult sitting next to me, decided to try and check his answerphone messages on his iPhone, half-way through the film. When I asked him to kindly turn his mobile off, he exclaimed that he was. No,you weren't! The halfwit was checking his answerphone messages. I own an iPhone also. I know what an iPhone screen looks like when you try and perform certain functions on it, such as checking your messages! Unless you have a family member or relative at death's door in hospital, or are a member of the ambulance or police services, then you should be able to not need to check your phone in a cinema during a film. If you can't, then please, do everyone a favour, and don't go to the cinema! Don't like that concept? Tough! Do Not Use Your Mobile In Cinemas! It really pisses people off!

Thursday, 7 February 2013

A Change Of Heart!

Regular readers of my blog will have seen me post a story about the recent research that was conducted by Ipsos MORI on behalf of the BBFC, in relation to sexual violence in films - see this  article  here. Well, in an interesting twist, whilst perusing the BBFC's own website today, I see that the controversial rape-revenge flick BAISE-MOI (2000, Coralie Trinh Thi and Virginie Despentes) has seemingly been passed totally uncut and uncensored for UK home viewing, with a PAL DVD running time of 73m 46s.

Considering this film contains some very strong material, namely a brief but explicit scene of hardcore penetration during a rape sequence, and a man having a gun inserted into his rectum, and then discharged (!), this makes for an interesting dichotomy. The BBFC posted a Press Release on 10th December 2012 - see  here  in which they say, and I quote:
Although the research reaffirms views that adults should be able to choose what they see, provided it remains within the law and is not potentially harmful, they are concerned about young men with little experience, and more vulnerable viewers, accessing sadistic and sexually violent content, which could serve to normalise rape and other forms of violence and offer a distorted view of women. The research carried out by Ipsos MORI in 2012 highlights concerns about certain depictions of sadistic and sexual violence to which the BBFC must respond. <snip> The BBFC may also intervene where a depiction is so demeaning or degrading to human dignity (for example it consists of strong abuse, torture or death without any significant mitigating factors) as to pose a harm risk.
Now, whilst I don't normally advocate censorship for films aimed at adults, (though this is not always the case), it's interesting to see that - supposedly - in the space of 12 years since this film was first released to cinemas, (in February 2000, cut by 10s), and then a couple of years later onto DVD (again, with even further cuts totalling 12s), that British society has moved on enough, that the BBFC don't warrant the film being cut.

Obviously, this is good - we don't want adult films aimed at adults to be cut, unless they breach Obscenity Laws. However, has society really changed that much since 2000? Is the UK that different in terms of what the public can or cannot see in the comfort of their own homes?

Clearly, the BBFC think that society can tolerate the uncut version of BAISE-MOI! In comparison to many other films in recent years, BAISE-MOI is certainly not the most shocking film passed by the BBFC. That's not to say it's not disturbing or unsettling, for it is. But after the likes of Lars Von Trier's ANTICHRIST or KEN PARK, BAISE-MOI isn't quite as raw.

To be fair, the film has many detractors, and very few people will admit to liking it. I think it's an interesting film, and already own the uncut French DVD release, although this has no English Subtitles, because I was curious to see what was so contentious that needed 12 seconds removing to protect me. Admittedly, when I saw it, I did wince a couple of times. The penetration shot, whilst brief, is noticeable and jars in my view, during the rape sequence. And later on, when the two women get their revenge, and one of the violators has the gun shoved up his rectum and she pulls the trigger, you do get shocked by what you see. It's an uncomfortable film to view, but then that was part of the point of BAISE-MOI. It was meant to shock, to upset, to repel the (male) audience. It was meant to make you cringe, and think "That's not nice"! Just as Meir Zarchi did with I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE, when Jennifer Hills (Camille Keaton) takes her revenge, by slicing off one of her rapist's penis in the bathtub, any man watching the film is meant to be disturbed by what he sees. Zarchi is deliberately telling men that you should not be enjoying this tale he is telling. Rape is not nice.

But with that all said, I do think BAISE-MOI has a lot to admire. It's a raw and uncompromising film, that takes the normal rape-revenge themes we've seen in lots of other films over the past 30-or-so years, and gives it a feminine twist. I like that. I think it's nice to see two female actresses (both porn actresses, I might add) and two feminist directors, take on this usually male predicated story, and subvert it. Many women will still decry BAISE-MOI for portraying the rape of two women. Many more will still say that using actresses from the pornography industry doesn't help the case. Even the fact that two women wrote and directed this film, will still give many women pause for thought. Some will claim that Trinh Thi and Despentes are doing nothing making such a film; that they are, in fact, being traitors to their gender.

I can completely see that argument.

But BAISE-MOI isn't meant to be a message film, per se. It's meant to be a grubby little flick, with a Gallic spin, subverting the audiences expectations. If there is a message, then that's all the better. But that's not its raison d'etre. Alas, the saddest thing about the film, is that lead actress Karen Lancaume (acting under the name of Karen Bach) committed suicide on 28th January 2005, having left her porn career completely behind. What a waste, as her performance was pretty good. I could see her becoming another Beatrice Dalle or Vanessa Paradis, if she had lived longer.

BAISE-MOI is due to be released on 25th March 2013, in French with English Subtitles, and in a new uncut and uncensored, 16:9-formatted print, for the first time in the UK. You can pre-order the DVD from No Blu-Ray release has been announced.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Need A Replacement Arrow ZOMBIE FLESH-EATERS Blu-Ray Disc?

** 5th March 2013 - N.B. Please read this  post  here first, for an urgent update, if you are looking to exchange your ZOMBIE FLESH-EATERS Blu-Ray Disc! **

Finally, Arrow have pulled their fingers out from their backsides, and have posted a link as to what to do if you bought their 2012 Blu-Ray release of Lucio Fulci's ZOMBIE FLESH-EATERS - a title they insultingly referred to as being "definitive" in some of their advertising.

The official link can be found  here  for those who wish to see what they've said. The info, however is posted below, in case you can't access their site (or in case they decide to remove all details of its very existence)!

ALL Blu-Ray copies of the film are affected, so irrespective of whether you bought the Steelbook Set, the Limited Edition Slipcase version direct from Arrow, or simply purchased the bog-standard 2-disc Blu-Ray set from a high-street or online retailer. ALL are faulty. ALL are missing the six-seconds between the opening credits and the start of the film. If you purchased the 2-disc DVD release, be grateful. You DON'T need to send them your discs back, as your versions should be okay.

Send your Disc One Blu-Ray's (nothing else - just the first disc which has the movie on it!), including your name and address of where you want the replacement disc to be sent to, and send it off to:

Lisa Richards P.R.
P.O. Box 68474
N16 1EH
United Kingdom

You DON'T need to include proof of purchase, nor any copies of receipts or anything like that. Just send the disc and your name/address, and that should do the job. (I would recommend everyone send their disc by some kind of registered, recorded or signed-for service, irrespective of which country you live in, so that Arrow can't claim they didn't receive your disc, and use that as an excuse not to send you a replacement!)

Then, sit and wait, and at some point in the near-future, you should hopefully receive a properly remastered disc, with the missing six seconds reinserted back into the film, and a clean, proper, and uncut version of the film, with the choice of opening credits options. Unsurprisingly, Arrow hasn't said how long you should need to wait for the replacement disc to arrive, but I'd recommend waiting 21 days. If you haven't had a replacement disc by then, then telephone Arrow directly on...

Within the UK, dial: 01923-858-306
Non-UK callers, dial:  00-44-1923-858-306

...during UK office hours, and demand an explanation. Alternatively, you can write to them at:

Arrow Films
Orchard Villa
Porters Park Drive
United Kingdom

Hopefully, this sorry issue will get fixed, and then we can finally move on from it. As I've said before - see  this article here - I'm no longer prepared to pre-order and buy Arrow titles, until they get their act together. They've got some potentially great titles on the way this year, (Bava's BLACK SUNDAY, Romero's KNIGHTRIDERS, etc), but until I can be 100% certain that their products contain exactly what they're supposed too, and aren't faulty, and don't include errors, screw-up's and mistakes, then they aren't getting any more of my hard-earned. Effectively, they've lost my custom for the foreseeable future!

I'm sure there are others who feel likewise, so I know I won't be alone.

This latest screw-up is going to cost them dearly, not just in terms of lost (and future) custom, but in having to get replacements manufactured and ready. If they don't screw this replacement programme up, it'll be a miracle, such is their piss-poor track record of Customer Service and Quality Control (or lack thereof)!

One day, Arrow may finally hit a bullseye. For now, though, they're distinctly second-rate. And that's a genuine crying shame!

** ADDENDUM: After returning my faulty Blu-Ray disc to the P.R.on Monday 4th February by Signed For delivery, today (Saturday 9th February), I received my replacement disc. I have skimmed through it, and it seems that - thank goodness - the disc is 100% uncut, uncensored, and now the film includes the missing six seconds that had been previously deleted, irrespective of which version of the movie you choose to view. A nice, speedy turn-around, and I hope that everyone else gets there replacement discs in just as quick a time. **

ANGUISH - Paralysingly Paranoid Para-Cinema!

ANGUSTIA (here-on referred to by its most common English-language title of ANGUISH), from Spanish director Bigas Luna, was a 1987 horror film, that was a change of direction from his other works. Luna is more commonly known amongst World Cinema afficianados for his sultry and sexy Spanish output, such as THE TIT AND THE MOON (1994), JAMON, JAMON (1992), and THE AGES OF LULU (1990). Here, Luna has created an outstandingly great, self-reflexive film that every horror fan should see at least once, due to the ballsiness of its premise.

Released on German Blu-Ray under the title of IM AUGENBLICK DER ANGST (which roughly translates as "At The Time Of Fear"), this superb piece of para-cinema posits the question of just how much films can affect us, and whether horror films are really as dangerous as they are sometimes portrayed. It's a staggeringly original film, and one of the most unique visions I've ever witnessed.

A couple of teenage girls, Linda (Clara Pastor) and Patty (Talia Paul) are high-school friends, and are sat in a cinema, one afternoon, watching a horror film, called "The Mommy". "The Mommy" follows (sadly-deceased) Zelda Rubinstein, of POLTERGEIST (1983, Tobe Hooper) fame, and character actor Michael Lerner as mother and son Alice and John Pressman: a twisted couple who have a distinct idolisation for everything occular. John works as an optician by day, and murderer/mutilator of peoples eyes by night. He likes nothing better than slitting somebody's throat, then surgically removing both of their eyeballs, for his dearly demented mother. Using hypnosis and her matriarchal power over him, she convinces him to do various awful deeds. During the film, Patty starts to get distressed at all the on-screen carnage, and begs Linda to leave. Linda steadfastly refuses, and tells her to either put-up or shut-up. As the film continues, and the on-screen carnage becomes bloodier, Patty leaves the cinema, concerned that someone in the cinema is acting suspiciously like the murderer in the movie. Once she leaves, and then fails to return, does the film (ANGUISH) start to then take you on its audacious journey!

In-and-of-itself, this doesn't sound that impressive for a film plot. But that's not the whole story to the film. Oh no! ANGUISH is so much more than this!

The first twenty minutes follow John, but then the film turns in on itself, with a clever twist (one of many, I might add), subverting everything you've just watched. As the film progresses, it soon becomes clear that you are not watching just any, old horror movie. What you end-up with, is one of the singularly most innovative horrors ever made, with twists upon twists, including a jaw-dropping conclusion, that will mess with your head for days. I won't reveal any of these twists, nor even hint at them, because to do so, would do my readers a great injustice. This is a film that is best viewed, knowing as little as possible.

The twists are genuinely freaky, and genuinely unsettling. Once you know them, you can still rewatch the film multiple times, and try to work out what the hell is going on. And trust me, you won't, because each time you think you've solved the riddle, you'll re-examine another piece of this celluloid puzzle, and end-up sending your brain round the twist - which is part of the enjoyment. The constant wrong-footing of the audience, is one of the great joys of this film. And now, this film, previously released by Anchor Bay (on Region 1 DVD), way back in 2000, and then re-released by Blue Underground (in 2008, again on DVD), is out on Blu-Ray - albeit only in Germany.

The German, FSK-16 approved release, is, thankfully, completely uncut and uncensored, and includes some enjoyably demented scenes of gore, that will please the violence fans. However, those of you looking for something genuinely disturbing and unnerving, will find so much more to revel in, than mere blood and guts, because of the superb plot, written by Luna himself.

Watching the film in full 1080p HD, doesn't revel a huge amount of difference between it and the DVD release, but that's not to say, there aren't improvements. The HD master clearly does improve the film's visual texture, and scenes set in the dark, especially during the killings and the scenes of the girls in the cinema, are much clearer, due to the higher resolution over its DVD counterpart. The otehr addition to watching this film in HD, is the ability to spot clues and hints, that Bigas Luna has littered throughout the film. From tiny in-jokes with names, to details on cinema posters, and even clues about what you are actually watching. All can be found and seen, if you watch closely - and this is a film where paying attention will pay dividends! Luna commands respect for producing a film, that is all about observation. Throughout the film, he expects his audience to look, and to look hard! And if you look closely enough, you will be rewarded even more than with just a great night's viewing! This is a film that keeps on giving, the more you watch it, and the closer you watch it too! Seeing truly is believing!

The sound is DTS-HD 5.1 or Stereo, in both the original English or German, depending on your preference, and comes accompanied with German subtitles for the release's intended audience. The subs are removable though, so English-speaking fans can watch the film untainted.

Throughout the short, but action-packed 81 minutes, ANGUISH takes you on an unforgettable dark journey, that will have you rivetted. I can guarantee that you will never have seen a horror film, quite like this one. Its central theme is so audacious, I'm surprised it has never been remade, or at least copied, by Hollywood in the past 25 years! Maybe the audacity of the film, the inventiveness and originality is so unique, that it simply can't be duplicated. Now that's a cool thought!

The film is in the original 2.35:1 anamorphic aspect ratio, and is a clean, remastered print. Colours are bright; action is detailed, and the print looks like it's in a good condition, for one made on a low-ish budget at the tail-end of the 1980's. Hardcore fans of cinema, will note a few "reel change" marks, but these are not what you think. Again, without spoiling the essence of ANGUISH, I can't reveal why they've been left in, but hopefully once you've all seen it, the reasons for their inclusion will be fully understood. This is a film that really is for knowledgeable cineastes, and it's these nuances that make it so spectacularly enjoyable.

Accompanying the film, is an 23-minute interview with the director himself, in which he talks about hte film, and why he created it. It's informative, but short, but a worthwhile inclusion. A German trailer for the film is also included, albeit more for novelty reasons, than anything of inherent value. Just don't watch the trailer before the film, as you may find your enjoyment partially destroyed.

With that all said, I would definitely recommend this film, to fans who are looking for something original, innovative and unique. There is no other film quite like ANGUISH, and the audcaciousness of it, will reward those who watch it more than once. Having seen this film five times now, I'm still unsure of exactly who's who and what's what, such is the film's incredible and outlandish creativity, and for that reason, it's a film that all horror movie and extreme-cinema fans should have in their collection. Any movie that you can rewatch, and still enjoy and gain something from, is a film that is worthy of a purchase! It's one of the finest works from any director, and all the better for being such a sopisticated and beautifully uncompromising piece of self-reflexive para-cinema, unlike anything you will ever have seen, or are ever likely to see!

The film can be imported from  Amazon Germany for about €10! Buy it now, and give your brain a cinematically-existential work-out! You will not regret this purchase!