The 8th annual Fantastic Fest ends for me after 6 days. The sci/fi, fantasy, martial arts, Asian fantastic, and horror film festival offers up a little something for all genre lovers. Sadly, I cannot make it through the entire 8-day span as I have two daughters to take care of and a book to write.
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 KING OF PIGS
THE KING OF PIGS is an emotionally punishing animated indie film about a group of friends whose brutal childhoods continue to haunt them as adults.
Not the way to kick the morning off. A dark, dismal tale (which I usually would welcome with open arms) about the worst middle school on the planet. Homosexual assault, brutal violence, child abuse, treachery, deceit, suicide – it’s all here. But it just comes across like one huge, sloppy mess. Adding to the disorganized chaos are some of the most indecipherable subtitles I have ever witnessed. The audience was actually laughing out loud at how bad they were.
There is some decent animation on display here, but not much more that I can recommend.
BRING ME THE HEAD OF MACHINE GUN WOMAN
Timid, video game-loving DJ Santiago seemingly digs his own grave when he agrees to bring a violent criminal kingpin the head of Machine Gun Woman.
Latin exploitation at its finest! Funny, bloody, and sexy all rolled into one. Additional bonus of being patterned after the greatest video game series ever created, Grand Theft Auto.
Machine Gun Woman actress Fernanda Urrejola is incredible and is sure to grace theater and computer screens for years to come. She is the epitome of every video gaming dude’s fantasy – tough as nails, beautiful as can be, and sexy as hell.
BMTHOMGW is a fun romp that you will not want to miss.
BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO
Strange things occur after a British audio technician is summoned to Italy to work on a gory giallo film.
What a bizarre little film. If you are a fan of early ’70s giallo, you will thoroughly enjoy the first hour of this film. Toby Jones (the superior Truman Capote) plays a Foley expert hired by a seemingly shady film production company to work on the sound effects for a horror film. I loved the behind the scenes look at foley work, especially with the use of a horror film, without even showing a single frame of the film in question.
Unfortunately, it’s far too repetitive. Jones’s character works a bit on the film, gets bitched at by a sleazebag producer, asks for his money only to be told to shut up, and finally is coddled by the allegedly famous director, repeat ad nauseum.
I could have hung with that pattern if only it weren’t for the final third of the film which devolves into an hallucinogenic ridiculous nightmare of Jones becoming one with the film.
Had BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO stuck with the making of the film-within-the-film structure and added in a modern giallo mystery, I would probably have enjoyed it so much more. Instead, it’s just a bizarre collection of interesting imagery, great sound effects, silly characters, and really no point to it at all.
In the middle of a night of wild partying, a hapless American tourist (Hostel director Eli Roth) and his friends are suddenly plunged into a living hell when a powerful earthquake rips through the coastal town of Valparaíso, Chile.
I’m old enough to have seen (and loved) most of the great disaster flicks of the ’70s such as EARTHQUAKE, THE TOWERING INFERNO, and THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE. It’s a genre that has been sorely underrepresented since that heyday, so I was stoked to hear about AFTERSHOCK, especially when there was talk about something horrible attacking the earthquake survivors.
Much like its predecessors, AFTERSHOCK spends its opening 45 minutes developing its characters. Gotta give a shit about someone before you topple the earth upon them, right? The three male protagonists, led by Eli Roth, are entertaining yet douchey. They meet up with three impossibly gorgeous women. They crack jokes, do drugs, and entertain us rather successfully.
Then, the earthquake strikes. So far, so good. The special effects are passable, if you can accept a lot of shakey-cam action in lieu of an ultra-mega expensive special effects extravaganza. The twist herein is that the earthquake allegedly demolishes a prison freeing all of the prisoners. This demolition takes place off screen and there appears to have only been six prisoners locked up in prison.
At this point, it all goes downhill. Leave out that third act, replace it with the more realistic perils caused by the earthquake and they would have had a successful film.
Side note – a quick scan of Twitter finds many moviegoers complaining about two rape scenes in the film. Now I have raised money for rape crisis centers via my true crime books and several book tours. I am fully aware of the horrors of rape and don’t find it funny in any way. But this is a horror film. How can you possibly call an entire movie crap because of the inclusion of two rapes, but overlook death by impalement, decapitation, gutshot, crushing, conflagration by the bad guys, etc? It’s a fucking horror film. No one is safe. Period.
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).