The 8th annual Fantastic Fest’s 8-day reign of chaos in Austin, Texas rolls on. The sci/fi, fantasy, martial arts, Asian fantastic, and horror film festival offers up a little something for all genre lovers.
It is my duty to bring you the most horror and/or horror-related film reviews possible. With less than 20 feature films considered to be true horror, I will occasionally spotlight other non-horror films that will, hopefully, appeal to our readers here at Bloody Disgusting.
Be sure to be on the lookout in Austin, Texas from October 25-27, 2013, for my very own Housecore Horror Film Festival. I will be joined by my partner, former Pantera lead singer and heavy metal legend Philip H. Anselmo. We will be bringing 100% horror and heavy metal to the Lone Star state!
THE ABCs OF DEATH
Twenty-six directors. Twenty-six ways to die. Co-produced by Drafthouse Films, and finally ready to be unleashed—see what happens when you give more than two dozen of the most brilliant filmmakers from around the world free reign to indulge their creative impulses and black humor. From A to Z, it’s got something for every genre fan and is like nothing you’ve ever seen before.
I was able to catch a press screening of this murderous maelstrom only to later found out afterwards that we were shown an older print with worse color, worse sound, several segments out of order, and with different title. Didn’t matter. I totally dug it.
I’m sure you know the drill — 26 young horror directors were given $5000 and a letter in the alphabet and told to make a movie about death. I kept a running tally during the film — I liked 18 segments, was neutral on four, and disliked four of them. That’s an amazingly positive average for an anthology film.
Before seeing the movie, I had every intention to give you guys a list of each segment title and its respective director. Having now seen it, I recommend that you go in blind. Spend your time trying to guess the director and the title of their segments, which are revealed at the end of each.
ABCs OF DEATH is raunchy, gory, and absurd with a solid international flavor to mix things up. And if you don’t like one segment, hang tight. Something new awaits and there is plenty here to like.
CRAVE follows a mentally unstable crime scene photographer on his descent into violence and madness. CRAVE won the New Flesh Award for Best First Feature at the 2012 edition of the Fantasia International Film Festival.
Ignore that 2.2 rating on IMDB. Someone must have a grudge against someone else involved with this film.
CRAVE is utterly brilliant. Co-written by and starring Josh Lawton, this has everything I enjoy in a thriller: strong acting, dark humor, non-oppressive noir, gritty cinematography, and a great script.
I first read about this film back in 2009. Not sure if it’s sat on the shelves for three years, got delayed, or what, but man you should do whatever you have to do to check this one out.
Lawton reminds me of an even more disheveled Matthew Perry crossed with Aaron Eckhardt. Think of an imperfect Dexter meets Walter Mitty and you start to get a sense of what his character is all about. He’s a bit of a wimpy guy who is fed up and believes vigilantism may be the way to go. Only, he’s not very good at it…at first.
WAKE IN FRIGHT*
A Palme D’Or nominee based on the 1961 book of the same name by Kenneth Cook and directed by FIRST BLOOD’s Ted Kotcheff, a relatively new director at the time, WAKE IN FRIGHT is an uncompromisingly brutal look at what happens when men are left alone together in the country with guns and a lot of beer.
I love watching movies that I have absolutely zero knowledge about going into them. This 1971 rough-and-tumbler most definitely fits the bill. While not a horror film at all, it does tell the horrific tale of a lost Aussie week(end).
The impossibly handsome Guy Pearce-lookalike Gary Bond undergoes a harrowing transformation from bored Outback school teacher to drunken kangaroo hunting fox killer. He is led down the rabbit (dingo?) hole by an assortment of unruly larger-than-life men, most noticeably a pre-Dr. Loomis Donald Pleasance. What a strange sight to see Pleasance slimmed down, black bearded, and ready to kick anyone’s ass or drink them under the table.
Beautiful cinematography (the opening 360° shot is spellbinding), a FIGHT CLUB-style game of chance, strong acting, and a mesmerizing score add up to what is basically a movie of one man’s debauched self-discovery that he is not quite sure whether he accepts or despises.
A trip meant to save their marriage turns into a nightmare when Johan and Saar accidentally videotape a police shooting in the streets of Argentina.
I had some time to kill in between interviews so I decided to slip in to see this little gem. I knew nothing about it, which is part of the fun of film festivals. Of course, when the emcee said the film had already been bought by an American studio with the intention of remaking it, my enthusiasm waned.
Luckily, TAPED turned out to be a nice taut thriller with characters you actually give a damn about. Plus, the set-up is believable enough to suck you into the realm of desperation the couple must endure. You will definitely root for this couple.
I started to get a bit concerned during the final third of the film when the husband starts making all of the stupid horror movie moves — dropping the gun, telling his wife to stay put while he checks out the next room, letting someone handcuff themselves — but the resolution of the film more than makes up for it.
COME OUT AND PLAY
While on vacation, Beth and Francis visit a remote island that turns out to be almost solely inhabited by children. Unfortunately for them, these kids are far from well behaved.
Major disappointment. Yes, I am a fan of the original film WHO CAN KILL A CHILD? No, it would not have mattered if I had never seen the original. This pointless remake is wooden, is not scary at all, and exudes zero tension.
It does, however, make you smack your head repeatedly. There are at least seven SCREAM-worthy rules that are broken including, I shit you not, “I’LL BE RIGHT BACK!!” And I do not us SCREAM as a rulebook for horror.
If I had to hear the lead actor Ebon Moss-Bachrach mutter under his breath, “We should get out of here,’ one more time, I believe I would have suffered from a Darryl Revok scanned head explosion.
And don’t even get me started on the “spooky” director Makinov’s ridiculous “manifesto” video that preceded the film. If you make a good movie, you dont need a gimmick. And if you must rely on a gimmick, at least make it interesting.
THE EXORCIST IN THE 21ST CENTURY*
Norwegian documentarian Fredrik Horn Akselsen examines the work of Father Jose Antonio Fortea – an actual, Vatican-approved exorcist – in this balanced look at a largely hidden world within the Catholic church.
I’m going to give this one a solid rating despite several things I dislike about it. Okay, let me get those out of the way first. Way too slow paced, questionable subtitles, and subject matter that leads me to believe that this entire film is simply a ruse concocted by the same type of “filmmakers” that created INNOCENCE OF MUSLIMS.
Now why do I like it? Because of that unknowing sense of whether or not this is simply all bullshit. Director Akselsen pulls off a “miracle” in that he presents several sides to the discussion of demonic possession, whether it is a thing or not, and lets you decide. If you are an atheist, or even an agnostic, this film will be maddening for you. Or, it may just confirm what you already believe – religion (and most of its followers), is simply pathetic. It will make you continue to wonder in amazement at how any thinking, rational human being can be convinced by the trappings of religion.
On the other hand, if you are a believer, this film may find you in total agreement with the rock star priest who travels the world hoping to help others. He is not allowed to perform exorcisms outside of his own diocese, but the mere touch of his palm has been known to send minions of followers (almost all female) flopping on their backs, allegedly speaking in tongues, and, strangely, almost all appearing like modern-day versions of Linda Blair. Hmmmmm…..
Actually, throughout the entire movie I kept thinking about this Slayer video:
There are excellent questions posed here in regard to vanity, depression, egocentricity, deception of self and of others, mass delusion and/or acceptance, absurdist theater, and conflict between fame and duty. Heady stuff for a film about people flopping around like dying fish and spouting off profanities like a bitter Tea Partier/Occupier.
Corey Mitchell is a best-selling author of several true crime books and is currently helping Philip H. Anselmo write his autobiography, MOUTH FOR WAR (Simon & Schuster, 2014).