In spite of the thread title. this is not the end of the blog! God, no! We've reached the end of another year - my third one running and writing this blog, and we're now speedily heading towards 22,300 viewers, which is great news! I am humbled by your continued support, and appreciate you all coming back week-after-week to read my ramblings.
As we come to the end of 2013, I have decided this time, to list some films that I feel you should all own. Some new, some old, some you'll know well, and some you'll probably never have heard of. Yet all are releases that should be on your shopping lists this Christmas, either for yourselves or your friends. There's nothing better than treating yourself at this time of year. After all, you deserve it!
They're in no particular order of preference, but for more info on why, just see the text next to each film. I've grouped them, under various headings, depending on your own particular preferences. All should be relatively self-explanatory, and I hope you find them all of interest. Every film has been given an official release, at some point in time, somewhere in the world, but you may need to do some hunting-around to obtain some of these titles, though major sites like Amazon and DVD Diabolik are always great starting points!
If you are looking for gore, for extreme violence, for stuff to shock and offend, then the following titles will more than adequately do the job. Just don't gift these titles, unless you really, really know the person very well! These are the kinds of films wars break out over!
- SNUFF 102: This truly nasty, vicious little shocker comes from Argentinian director Mariano Peralta. Released in 2007, the film follows a female journalist interviewing an author who is also a serial killer, about snuff films, serial-killers, and the myths and legalities that surround these topics. When she uncovers the fact that the author is also a killer, she becomes his latest victim. One of the toughest and nastiest films to watch, this is really going to push most people's tolerance thresholds. It's unremittingly savage, and makes CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST feel like a gentle stroll. However, if you enjoy your gore, then this is a film you need to own. It's as close to real-snuff as I think you will ever get. I cannot express how brutal this film is. Thankfully, it's all fake, with extremely realistic special effects, but be warned, this is NOT an easy watch. If you can find a legitimate release of this, then get it. The 2-disc US release from a company called Massacre Video, includes a load of special features and behind-the-scenes material, as well as interviews with the cast and crew.
- CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST: It's a classic, and it has a reputation that proceeds it, and that reputation has been well-earned. A bunch of film-making students head out to the Amazon in South America, to prove that cannibals and cannibalism is still alive and well, but end-up going on a violent rampage, and upsetting the locals, ending-up being cannibalised themselves. When a noted New York University rescue party are sent out to look for them, they discover some 16mm film cans. The footage is brought back to New York, and screened, with graphic results. Many people will be put-off from viewing this film, due to the all-too-real and unrepentantly sick animal killings, of which the film has many. So, if you are that way inclined, do not view this film! But if you can put-aside what happened to make this film, Deodato's movie is one of the truest, most audacious horror films ever made, and it should be on every horror film fan's shelves! The best version to get, is the Region 1 version which is a 2-Disc Limited Edition Collector's Edition version, courtesy of Grindhouse Releasing in the USA. Failing that, then the Region 2, 2-Disc Ultrabit Collector's Edition from EC Entertainment, in the Netherlands is also a worthy version. Ideally, though, you should get both.
- PHILOSOPHY OF A KNIFE: Need an endurance test? Want something that will really desensitise your moral compass?! This four-hour-and 40-minute extravaganza is ideally suited to do just that. During World War II, the infamous Unit 731 existed in Japan to perform secretive biological and chemical warfare weaponry. Many of the barbaric experiments included tests on human subjects that would be considered - by any means of the word - obscene and repugnant. The film is a fictionalised portrayal of the unit and those experiments, split into two parts, both running to well over two hours each! Created by notorious Russian arthouse/experimental film-maker Andrei Iskanov, it is both a documentary and a feature film, blending the two, till you won't know which parts are which. Shown from the viewpoint of a Japanese nurse who was a witness to the barbarism and a Japanese officer sympathiser. who demonstrates feelings of tenderness towards an imprisoned Russian woman, yet forced to partake in the experiments from his seniors, as human guinea pigs. This notorious film is truly horrific and insane in equal measures. Many have found the extreme duration a turn-off, but if you watch the film in two parts, over two nights, then it's less of a endurance test. However, it's no walk-in-the-park, that's for sure. Containing some of the most harrowing and brutalising scenes of violence committed to film, this film demonstrates just how far you can push yourself. Bearing in mind much of what is depicted happened in real-life, this will either help or hinder you to watch this shocking film. Just be aware, it really is very nasty!
Want something very different? Need a film that no one else has heard of, or that most won't even be aware of its existance? These few selections will be right up your alley.
- ALICE: I've always liked Jan Svankmajer, the Czech surrealist animator, but this twisted version of the classic Alice In Wonderland tale, is definitely a novel film, and one quite unlike any other version of Alice In Wonderland ever made. Probably Svankmajer's most accessible work, and ideal for most audiences of 10 years of age, and over, this will suit those who want something more family-friendly, but still tick those check boxes of being very weird and wonderful. Even if you are an older viewer, this is still highly freaky stuff! Available in the UK as a Dual-Format Region B/2 Blu-Ray and DVD combination set from the British Film Institute, this is a great work, that even hardcore horror fans should enjoy. The film can be viewed in the original Czech with English Subtitles, or the popular dubbed-English version, and comes with plenty of extras too. Heartily Recommended.
- DEFENCELESS: A BLOOD SYMPHONY: Now, this is a very different film. A 90-minute rape-revenge thriller from Australia, filmed in colour, in almost near-silence! Suasanne Hausschmid stars as the woman who refuses to cave-in to local land-developers determined to exploit her beach-front property. Refusing to sell-up, the developers decide to take matters into their own hand, and begin a cruel and profoundly intense psychological and physical attack on her, to get her to change her mind, leading to a terrifying rape sequence. Almost entirely dialogue-free, with some striking sequences set amongst the beautiful Austalian coastalside, this is an intriguing remake/reimagining of I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE. Available from the USA on the Subversive Cinema label, and can be picked-up quite cheaply now.
- THE GIRL NEXT DOOR: It may have the same name as the 2004 romantic comedy with Elisha Cuthbert, but this couldn't be any more different, if it tried. Based on US horror author's Jack Ketchum's book of the same name, which in turn is based on the real-life events of Sylvia Likens in 1965, this is a real blood-chiller. A teenage girl and her younger, disabled sister, whose parents are both killed in a car accident, are taken in by a seemingly kindly neighbour, and her three sons. What the girls soon start to realise, is that the woman and her sons are as far removed from their external squeaky-clean demeanour as they could ever imagine. When the woman starts to terrorise and persecute the girls, the elder one steps-up, but soon things take a terrifying twist, when she is tied-up in the basement, and tortured over many weeks. A genuinely shocking film, that will make your skin crawl, I cannot rate this film enough. Most of the violence is unseen, but what remains is a chilling indictment of "family values" behind closed-doors and white picket fences in suburbia. Not since THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE has a film developed the theme of terrorisation so unbelievably realistically, and so utterly heart-wrenching. The ending is unremittingly bleak, but it's none the worse for it. Don't watch this, if you need an upbeat finale, because this film delivers the exact opposite. An underrated delight!
Around The Globe We Go
Some of the best extreme cinema, comes from non-English-speaking territories. If you are willing to, then there are some amazing gems to be discovered.
- GROTESQUE: The Japanese have always done excellent gore films, ever since the 1980's and the infamous GUINEA PIG franchise gained notoriety. This 2009 psycho-shocker is no less sickening. Famously banned in the UK in August of the same year, this short but graphically-repellant 80-minute film starts off with a young couple being kidnapped by an insane man. Taken to a warehouse in some undertermined secluded district, the couple are told that once the torture is over, if they promise to keep schtum, they will be released. Little do they realise, that the killer has other plans. Whilst not the most shocking film ever made, if the film catches you in a certain frame of mind, it'll either be brutally harrowing, or laughably awful. I've watched it twice, and had two wildly-different reactions to it. With minimal dialogue and character development, this is very much a film focussing on the torture and manipulation of two people who are the least deserving of such brutality. But despite the occasionally rubbery effects work, there's still a lot to admire here, and the finale still packs quite a shocker too, when you work-out exactly what the killer is going to do. For that reason, it's worthy of a viewing.
- MARTYRS: The French have been producing some of the best horror films, for the past 10 years now. LA HORDE, INSIDE (aka A L'INTERIEUR), FRONTIERES, and SWITCHBLADE ROMANCE, (aka HIGH TENSION, aka HAUTE TENSION) are all worth your time and money, but MARTYRS is the one that will get most horror fan's attention. A terrified young woman runs along a street, covered in blood, screaming at the top of her lungs. Why is this happening? Where did she come from, and more importantly, how did we get to this stage? All is soon revealed, when the film backtracks, and we meet the girl for the first time, arriving at a doctor's house, before she shotguns the doc's entire family to death, in one of the "jumpiest" moments you will ever bear witness too! What unfolds is a genuinely shocking, and really very disturbing treatise about sociological experimentation. Containing some truly brutal gore scenes, this is a film that grows on you, with repeated viewings. The final half-hour or so, will test even the most hardened of gorehounds. It really is exceedingly nasty in every aspect, and the final resolution will make your jaw drop! Is this is the future of horror, then I say Vive La Francais! Also check-out the other French horrors, and see why they are now steamrollering past the USA as producers of some of the mos innovative and original horror films in recent years!
- PRINCESS: Animated horrors are few and far between outside of Japan, but occasionally, you'll get a truly original and audacious piece of work, like this Danish flick from Anders Morganthaler. Mostly animated, with occasional live-action scenes, this is another film that is strictly adults-only! When a porn actress dies of drug abuse, her clergyman brother returns home from his Misssionary work and takes the woman's five-year-old daughter under his wing. Overwhelmed with grief and anger at his sister's death and discoverey of her alternate life as a porn star, he decides to set out for revenge. What follows is extremely shocking stuff. Moreso, when the clergyman starts to incorporate the five-year-old in his revenge. A dark look at the real-life lives of porn actresses, mixed in with bloody and controversial violence, the animation is very well made, and the decision to use that medium, certainly pays off. Interesting, confrontational, audacious, PRINCESS is not for the faint-of-heart, but it's a worthy film to see!
Want a side-order of laughs with your gore, then these four films will more than do the job!
- EXCISION: A one-of-a-kind horror, destined to become a cult-classic, if ever I saw one. Richard Bates Junior writes and directs this outrageously dark and ultra pitch-black horror-comedy. A stunning blend of John Waters and THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE, in which a high-school girl desperate to become a surgeon, is forced to toe-the-line by her devoutly religious mother, whilst she watches her younger sister's illness start to debilitate her more and more. Raucous, foul-mouthed, edgy and very provocative, this is one of the best independent films ever made. Guaranteed to make you laugh, and shock you too! For a full review, clck this link here and you can read more about what I thought.
- FEMALE TROUBLE: Talking of John Waters, who I'm a very big fan, if you're looking for an anti-Christmas Christmas film, then you can do no better than this lurid piece of filth from the Baltimoreian! Cross-dressing, cult-movie icon Divine stars as Dawn Davenport, as a spoilt teenage brat, who runs away from home on Christmas morning, when she doesn't get the exact gifts she wants from her parents. (A pair of Cha-Cha Heeled shoes!) After being sexually-molested by a sleazy motorcycle thug, she heads into town to make a name for herself, and nothing and no one is going to stand in her way - not even an unwanted pregnancy.As is tradition with any John Waters film, this is rude, crude, and delightfully tacky and gross. With another great 50's and 60's bubblegum pop soundtrack to hum along too, this is a hilarious send-up and spoof of good-girl-turned-bad melodramas, that filled drive-in cinemas all those years back. If you watch this alongside Waters' hit PINK FLAMINGOS (1972), then you'll have yourself a very trashy, delightfully kitsch and utterly foul double-bill. Just be prepared to lose your lunch, whilst you simultaneously split your sides!
- DEAD SNOW: Another comedy-horror film, that I really rate. This low-budget Norwegian gut-muncher has nazi zombies, medical students and a hint of Edvard Grieg to boot. When some final-year medical students take one last break from their studies, before plunging head-long into the world of work, they decide to go for a little R-&-R at Øksfjord, in a log-cabin owned by one of the gang. Once there, they meet a "tourist" who warns them not to mess around and respect the local traditions, as the area they are in was once a Nazi Stronghold. Desperate to ignore him, they unwittingly unearth some treasure, but then find themselves being slowly killed-off one-by-one, until they finally take matters into their own hands, in gleefully gruesome fashion. With numerous homage's to other films, this is still a bona-fide masterpiece in my view, simply for trying to at least attempt something a little different with the zombie-movie genre. The acting is light and fun, and the grue is plentiful. A great way to spend 80 minutes, and most releases come with a great 90-minute Making Of documentary too. On top of this, a quasi-sequel has been recently announced, due out in the early part of next year!
- MEET THE FEEBLES: Peter Jackson, of THE LORD OF THE RINGS fame first came to many horror fans attention with two great shock movies: BAD TASTE and BRAINDEAD (aka DEAD ALIVE). However, he also filmed this delightfully sick and fucked-up shocker. An adults-only version of THE MUPPETS, MEET THE FEEBLES follows a young porcupine called Robert, trying to break into The Feebles TV Variety Show Hour. The oddball cast includes a (literal) shit-eating bluebottle, a deranged hippo, a drug-addicted rabbit, a Vietnam Vet called Wynyard, and many other, gleefully twisted puppet creations. A riotious, and extremely funny 90-minute comedy, with some very shocking moments that you won't soon forget. If you can get this on DVD, do so, as it's a cracker! As it was originally filmed in 4:3, all DVD prints are in this format. Any film that has a song-and-dance routine that is an ode to Sodomy has to be given a once-over!
With that all said, all that's left for me to do, is to wish you the warmest of Season's Greetings for (I hope) an enjoyable Christmas and New Year. I may post one or two minor tidbits of information between now and the end-of-the-year, but if not, then I will see you back here, at the start of January 2014. I look forward to seeing you all back here very soon.