Friday, 24 December 2010
Little boy Pietari has started to notice footprints in the snow outside his bedroom window and along with his friend stumbles upon the secret dig in the mountains. He convinces himself they are digging up Santa, but who believes in Santa Claus these days? Certainly not his dad Rauno, who has enough problems of his own. The reindeer him and his colleagues were relying on to hunt and sell have all turned up dead, rotting and worthless. It looks like it's going to be a cold, grim Christmas for the townsfolk. Grim that is, until they discover what the diggers have found and subsequently let escape. It's Santa! It looks like they might have something to sell after all. But this Santa, to put it simply, is a freaking mentalist. He has a penchant for running after kids stark naked with everything hanging out, including his long white beard. In the old days naughty children just didn't get bought any GameStations or PlayCubes, but now they just get chased with weapons, kidnapped and tied up in sacks. Fair enough, if you ask me.
A little slow at first but I didn't mind that at all as it gave me time to take in the new concept that Santa was truly evil and not just the otherworldly authoritative figure I always thought he was. This film quickly becomes the story of a brave boy and the notion that believing actually means surviving.
The first incarnation of Rare Exports was the short film Official Safety Instructions and it just shows you that this Christmas movie has been begging to be made for some time. So with this story I must pose the question, do you believe in Santa Claus? If you do, I guess I'll be seeing you next year after all.
Wednesday, 22 December 2010
Everyone knows you don’t bother a woman with PMS, especially one carrying a sharp object, but in Blood Night people do just that. We meet young Mary Hatchet in her bedroom one evening much like we meet the young Michael Myers – and while comparisons have in fact been made to Halloween, I’d say this one resembles the grimy-looking remakes more closely. Everything about Mary seems normal until the arrival of her first period which seems to have brought on less of the women’s problems and more of the homicidal tendencies.
One night little Mary kills her mother and father with a pair of scissors and an axe. Once apprehended she is sent to an asylum where she spends the rest of her childhood and is then subjected to a series of sexual assaults by a member of staff. She becomes pregnant and after losing the baby during childbirth she snaps, again, this time going on a bloody killing spree throughout the hospital. Covered in blood and completely naked, which she is throughout the entire film in fact, Mary calmly walks down the road with another severed head covering her modesty. She is killed by police and from then on the local teenagers christen that night Blood Night. Cue dramatic and scary music! Twenty years later a new set of teenagers are preparing for the next Blood Night and they start dropping like flies.
Set firstly in the early 1970’s, ‘80’s and later on in 2002, Blood Night certainly does a good job of recreating those eras without it feeling like you’re witnessing a retro fancy dress party. A slightly new take on the teen slasher sub-genre, it makes a pleasant change to see teenagers celebrating the anniversary of the death of a killer in such a derogatory way. They march the streets with Mary masks, smearing sanitary towels with fake blood and defacing her gravestone. Such is the bravery that comes from taunting the dead when you think they can’t come back, it makes her return for revenge all the more satisfying.
Bill Moseley’s portrayal of Graveyard Gus, the obligatory adult who tells the scary foreboding stories and who seems to know a bit too much about everything, is the shining light in this piece. I’m all for blood and guts in my horror, but if you’ve seen one brain splatter to the floor in a comedy fashion you’ve seen them all, and you really did see them all here. I did enjoy the scene where a girl’s intestines were being slowly pulled out with a pickaxe though, and when another girl gets covered in blood and guts like someone had just thrown them at her from a bucket. (They probably had.)
So the vengeful ghost of a naked, axe wielding protagonist who says nothing but the occasional scream sounds pretty good. It could’ve been too if it was just a bit shorter, if the effects were better executed and if the actors didn’t look so bored. Bill Moseley is the best part in a film that is at times almost inspired, but never quite surpasses the B movie quality it ultimately is. And that would be fine if it wasn’t desperately trying to be something more.
Thursday, 9 December 2010
Hypothetically, if you were a prostitute desperate to go straight, do you think it would ever be a good idea to do one last job? Chances are something awful and irreversible would happen like your mother would find out or you’d be hired for a quickie by your middle-aged boss. Bad idea. But that’s just what Love has gone ahead and done. She has met a boy and he wants to take her away from all of this but her pimp wants to send her on another job, right in to the hands of a psychopath. Breath of Hate has the illustrious setting of a 1970’s soft porn film and suggestion of an uncomfortable snuff movie all in one
A curious trio have made themselves at home in an empty mansion up in the hills; one mysterious, exciting and moody man who seems to hide some dark secrets, a domineering and lecherous lesbian and a deranged simple boy with an unhealthy sexual obsession with palaeontology, of all things. To pass the time they hire three prostitutes for some entertainment but little do the girls know that these ‘clients’ are in fact escaped mental patients. See, I told you it would be a bad idea. Unwittingly they each pair off with their new partner and you can’t help but feel like you might never see them again. And actually, the scenes are not played in sequence and so you are privy to the girl’s fate right from the start. Our Love walks to the bedroom with the leader of the group and it just so happens that his name is Hate. When he discovers her name he becomes convinced they were meant to be together and begins to show his frightening side and penchant for sadism. Hate wants to change the world and needs Love to do it. Meanwhile Love’s sappy boyfriend has started looking for her.
The only time Breath of Hate faltered wasn’t with the acting as such but more with the timing and the script. At times it felt much like a poorly paced porn film and the romance, although very pleasant, did not belong here. Ezra Buzzington as Hate is completely terrifying with his calculating affectation and sinister Southern drawl. He is one of those men you always want to stay on the good side of - but even that good side could still get you in to a lot of trouble. The prostitutes are actually a delight to watch. They’re convincing, ditsy and satisfyingly slutty. The pimp, his lackey and girlfriend provide the comic relief. The humour in this film is not overdone and is instead desperately grabbed at as some very welcome escape from the desperation within that house.
A game is underway here and victim must rely on aggressor to see them through. So the question must be, would you let yourself believe the philosophy of an insane man? After all, knowledge is power, as they say. But the perceived knowledge to a psychotic could surely have potentially explosive consequences. Comeuppance is such a great theme for a horror film. This superiority lets you enjoy the kind of violence that you should normally be deploring. Breath of Hate is the story of the pursuit of the ultimate in satisfaction. It’s about us striving to be the best no matter how evil your best may be and no matter what you have to do to get to the very end.
Tuesday, 7 December 2010
Deep in the English countryside, firemen, police and reporters surround the rocket. Panicking about how to get the crew free, they enlist its creator, Quatermass to advise. They drop the pressure inside the ship and the doors open like something out of an early Star Trek. But to everyone's surprise, only one crew member, Victor is in there. Like a soldier returning home from war he seems shell shocked and can barely string a sentence together. They have to rely on the video tape from the ship's black box to explain where the other men have gone. This found footage element is way ahead of its time. The slow motion movements of the men, due to the zero gravity, make it all the more sinister. It's fascinating to watch them overwhelmed by an unseen entity when an alien presence enters the ship, much like a poltergeist enters a living room.
In the days that follow, Victor suffers some unusual and gruesome physical changes. His skin becomes swollen and shiny and his skull seems to be mutating. When his wife sees that he seems to have a cactus attached to his hand (don't ask) her wailing gets so loud it's no longer audible. Much like the wife in The Fly, she looks at her husband adoringly until she sees his new form and can't get rid soon enough. Fair enough, I mean it's one thing your other half letting themselves go a bit but quite another when they develop a cactus for a hand and go around sucking the life out of everyone.
It ends with the surprisingly beautiful scene of the monster being burned, viewed through a church window; less like flames and more like sparklers on Guy Fawkes night. Although I think that was more by accident than design, it provides some much needed light in the black and white film. The confusion, the panic and the horror is intense and palpable and you really get a feel that they're terrified because they don't know what they're getting themselves in to. Obviously much experience gained from that time giving it a real wartime atmosphere. The horror is like a new contagious disease or chemical warfare, when you don't know how is it transferred, if it will kill you or who you can trust.