Monday, May 27, 2013

PLAYING GOD AGAINST HER WILL: FRANKENSTEIN CREATED WOMAN


As part of the Peter Cushing blogathon currently running at the incredible Frankensteinia, Day of the Woman is remembering the centennial birthday of Peter Cushing by discussing his under-appreciated work in the fourth of the Hammer Frankenstein series, Frankenstein Created Woman.  It took me nearly three hours to finally settle on what I wanted to talk about in terms of one of the kings of classic horror.  It took every ounce of strength for me not to gush about his work as Doctor Who, but his fourth performance as Baron Frankenstein isn't discussed nearly as much as it should be.  More importantly, the anti-woman storyline within the film itself isn't given the attention it deserves.  Let me preface this by saying I love this film.  For those that can't seem to grasp the concept, it's possible to love a film but admit it is problematic and not without flaws.  I find this movie to be remarkable, but the subtle misogyny cannot be ignored.  (NOTE: The title was merely a publicity thing, and therefore, I will not hold it against them. It was the 60s, I get it.)

The story follows a girl named Christina (played by one of my favorites, Susan Denberg) who despite having a club foot and slight disfigurement, is loved very dearly by a man named Hans (Robert Morris).  Hans is wrongly convicted of murder and put to death by way of guillotine.  Much like Ophelia in Hamlet (see what I did there?) Christina decides that if she cannot have her love, she cannot have her life and jumps off of a bridge to her death.  Unlike the Universal Frankenstein that created life out of organs, Peter Cushing's Frankenstein manages to capture Hans' soul as a ball of light and transport it into Christina's body.  My guess is that he would have saved them both if he could, but Hans being headless would have complicated the whole ordeal.  Regardless, Christina is given a new lease on life, resurrected by the very soul of her beloved, and given a perfect exterior (complete with blonde bombshell locks) from Baron Frankenstein to replace her disabled food and facial disfigurement.  Right away, we're introduced to the first act of male dominance over the female character.  She is given life, yes, but it is against her wishes and her appearance is dramatically changed like something out of The Twilight Zone episode, "The Number 12 Looks Like You."  Controlled by the vengeful soul of her lover, Christina begins to kill those that wronged her lover, and like most of Frankenstein's creatures, ultimately meets her demise, again, self inflicted.  

For a film from 1967, seeing a woman use her sexuality as a weapon was incredibly progressive.  However, it gets a little complicated.  The fact Christina's body is inhabited by a both a female and a male soul, and is seducing men in order to destroy them, makes the interpretations a little murky.  This concept speaks volumes of on the male inability to truly 'see' women for what they really are due to their gaze on the female form.  Frankenstein gave this woman a new life through the soul of her lover, who then used her body as a weapon but kept his intentions for revenge in tact.  The woman, in every sense of the word, is completely manipulated by the men around her.  Christina chose to end her life, and Baron Frankenstein not only brought her back, but forced a male presence to reside within her.  Is this soul rape? The 60s had this major fascination with forcibly shoving male "things" into women.  Trade "soul" for "satan baby" and we've got the rough plot of Rosemary's Baby going on.  However, as Christina is mostly successful in enacting the revenge of her lover, ultimately, she cannot survive.  Torn between who she was and what she has become, Christina kills herself again by drowning.  Two bitter drownings in the name of love? Shakespeare would be so proud.

 What impressed me most about this film was Cushing's ability to play Frankenstein with an incredible amount of sincerity, despite this film being predominately focused on Christina.  There's no denying it, this story is not about Baron Frankenstein.  This story is about the tortured soul of this young girl running on the vengeance of her deceased lover and the confusion of regaining her own memories after resurrection.  However, I firmly stand by the belief that this is one of (if not thee) strongest performance of Peter Cushing as Baron Frankenstein.  There's an honesty brought to this character that I didn't see in the previous installments, and a genuine love has developed between Cushing and the character of Frankenstein.  Baron Frankenstein isn't a mad scientist, he's merely a man who has put science ahead of absolutely everything in his life.  That doesn't make him crazy, it makes him dedicated to the profession.  We don't consider soldiers crazy for being able to withstand great amounts of death and continuing on to fight for our country, but if a scientist seems unaffected by the death of two of his associates and continues on with his work...he's mad.  Possible soul rape aside, Peter Cushing discovered this passionate attribute of Baron Frankenstein and perfected it in Frankenstein Created Woman.    

Monday, May 20, 2013

HORROR HELPS VICTIMS OF BOSTON BOMBING WITH ADAM GREEN'S FUNDRAISER

It has been said numerous times before that the horror community is a fandom unlike any other.  Bonded together with a love of all things terrifying and gruesome, those same gorehounds are now joining together to give back to the victims of a real-life horror story.  On April 15th, the historic annual Boston Marathon was met with a bombing attack that took the lives of 3 individuals and injured 264 others.  The event sparked a national outcry and thousands of lives were forever changed.  Known for his films like Hatchet, Frozen, Spiral, Chillerama, and my personal favorite, his horror sit-com Holliston, Adam Green is spearheading "BOSTON STRONG," a fundraiser to help those affected by the Boston Bombing.  Adam Green isn't shy about his love for his hometown in Massachusetts, and his personal connection to Boston has inspired one of the most incredible acts of philanthropy the horror world has ever seen.  Through a silent auction, a film marathon, and a celebrity benefit, Green is putting his connections to good use and giving back to his beloved community.

Details for the events include:


1. “ "Holliston" Comes Home to Holliston”: Season Two advanced screening and Q&A with the cast:
Adam Green returns to his hometown of Holliston, MA to host an advanced screening of three episodes from “Holliston”’s upcoming second season, followed by a live Q&A with members of the cast, including Joe Lynch and Laura Ortiz.

Date: Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Time: 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Location: “Holliston” High School, 370 Hollis St., “Holliston”, MA 01746
Admission: $5


2. “Horror / Boston Strong” Party at The Palladium: Hosted by Adam Green
Join Adam Green (Hatchet I – III, Frozen, “Holliston”), Kane Hodder (Hatchet I – III, FRIDAYTHE 13TH VII – X), Zach Galligan (Hatchet III, GREMLINS 1 – 2) and more celebrity guests, for a one-of-a-kind party at the Worcester Palladium that includes a silent auction chock full of horror and music memorabilia, gift certificates, and other rare and amazing prizes.

In advance of the event, fans can bid on an online auction to win a private dinner with Adam Green before the party starts. More information about the auction can be found here.

Date: Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Time: Doors open at 7 p.m.
Location: The Palladium, 261 Main St., Worcester, MA 01608
Admission: $5


3. Hatchet movie marathon: Featuring the first ever screening of the highly-anticipated Hatchet III.
Join Hatchet franchise creator Adam Green for the first-ever Hatchet marathon, including a screening of a rare uncensored UK 35mm print of the original Hatchet, an uncensored 35mm print of Hatchet II, and the first ever screening ofthe highly anticipated, and also uncensored, Hatchet III. Special guests from the films will be in attendance.

Date: Thursday, May 30, 2013
Time: 7 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Location: The Revere Hotel, Theater One, 200 Stuart St., Boston, MA 02116
Admission: $25


Green and special guests will also be doing a free in-store signing for “Holliston” on Tuesday, May 28, 2013, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., at Fiske’s General Store, at 776 Washington St., in Holliston, MA.

Advanced tickets for all three events go on sale on Friday, May 10, 2013, and can be purchased here.

Tickets will also be available at the door the day of each event. For more information regarding ticket sales, please call ThePalladium box office at 508-797-9696. All proceeds will go towards The One Fund Boston.

Events are hosted by Rock and Shock and Wicked Bird Media, and are sponsored by Green Van. 


If you are not in the Boston area and would still like to contribute (and perhaps, cannot afford Oderus Urungus' mask) Adam Green has asked people to purchase tickets to the "Boston Strong Party" as The Pallidium can host thousands, meaning your ticket purchase wouldn't be stealing a seat from someone who could attend the other events.

I know I've been mentioning Adam Green/Joe Lynch/Holliston a lot on Day of the Woman recently, and I initially was unsure of whether or not to post this article for that reason.  However, what Adam Green is doing is a remarkable act of philanthropy.  You don't have to like the guy as a Director/Screenwriter/Actor/Producer/Whatever, but I will be damned if he is not given the respect he deserves for organizing this event.  This is the mark of a truly inspiring person, and I cannot wait to see the numbers pulling in for this event.

For more information, go to:
www.ariescope.com

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

WHO KNEW I WAS LIVING IN A HORROR MOVIE HOUSE?




It's my last night in my house at my university, and my roommate and I decided to explore the basement and the attic, two rooms we've never explored. Turns out, my attic is the room from V/H/S/ and my basement looks like the room from THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT.

  Not to mention, after opening these doors for the first time, we experienced a door slam on its own followed by a high pitched yelp and a gust of wind throughout the entire 3 story house. 

Excuse me while I go put my head in the oven.

THE RESURRECTIONIST: THE LOST WORK OF DR. SPENCER BLACK

Philadelphia, the late 1870s. A city of gas lamps, cobblestone streets, and horse-drawn carriages—and home to the controversial surgeon Dr. Spencer Black. The son of a grave robber, young Dr. Black studies at Philadelphia’s esteemed Academy of Medicine, where he develops an unconventional hypothesis: What if the world’s most celebrated mythological beasts—mermaids, minotaurs, and satyrs—were in fact the evolutionary ancestors of humankind?

The Resurrectionist offers two extraordinary books in one. The first is a fictional biography of Dr. Spencer Black, from a childhood spent exhuming corpses through his medical training, his travels with carnivals, and the mysterious disappearance at the end of his life. The second book is Black’s magnum opus: The Codex Extinct Animalia, a Gray’s Anatomy for mythological beasts—dragons, centaurs, Pegasus, Cerberus—all rendered in meticulously detailed anatomical illustrations. You need only look at these images to realize they are the work of a madman. The Resurrectionist tells his story.

In E. B. Hudspeth's freshman work,  The Resurrectionist: The Lost Work of Dr. Spencer Black, he has created a creepy book suitable for any lover of horror and mythology.  Not for the weak stomached, Hudspeth's book is somewhat of a biography on the fictional Dr. Black, explaining his love for mythical creatures and his belief that modern day humans are descendents from these creatures.  As the pages turn, readers are given a look into Dr. Black's descent from scientific obsession into stark-raving madness.  Through both illustrations and description, Hudspeth showcases an incredible grasp of imagery, generating images that at moments were difficult to stomach.  Hudspeth divulges into graphic detail of Dr. Spencer Black's experiments, with a particularly unsettling description of vivisection.  Picture Re-Animator meets Edgar Allan Poe by way of Gray's Anatomy.  

Paying careful attention to detail, The Resurrectionist appears to be historically accurate with both medical practices and societal attitudes.  Stir all of this in with a dash of mystical creatures, and a sprinkle of disturbing descriptions and you've got an idea of what Hudspeth has created.  The book seems to have been compiled from someone who has come across the research of Dr. Black, giving an unbiased look into the mind of this manic doctor.  The Resurrectionist feels like two books in one, with the first half being far more disgusting than the second.  If you can manage to survive the first half of the book, it will be smooth sailing for the rest of the read.

Monday, May 13, 2013

FEMALE DIRECTORS: DANIELLE HARRIS AND 'AMONG FRIENDS'

Unless you've been living under a proverbial rock for the last thirty years, chances are you're more than familiar with the body of work of Danielle Harris.  Arguably, one of the only genuinely working Scream Queens of the new millennium, Danielle Harris developed her horror fan following playing Michael Myers' niece Jamie Lloyd in Halloween 4 & 5.  Breaking the curse of child stardom, Danielle Harris has managed to maintain a relatively strong career, with the horror community being the kindest. (Note: She introduced me to the phrase "butt-crack of dawn" in Don't Tell Mom The Babysitter's Dead).  After a powerhouse career as a horror actress, Danielle Harris is going to be stepping on the other side of the camera with her directorial debut, Among Friends. According to its official press release, Among Friends is a horror comedy about a dinner party gone wrong. Set against an 80′s backdrop, good times take a dark turn when one in the group hijacks the evening in the name of integrity. Through an attempt to help the others come clean about secret betrayals against one another, it’s revealed who’s willing to cut through the bone to expose the truth.” The film was recently picked up by Lionsgate Home Entertainment through Grindstone Entertainment.  



On the second episode of Adam Green and Joe Lynch's brand-new podcast, "The Movie Crypt," Danielle was their first guest star and stopped by to discuss the mystery of the silver-tipped boot man in Halloween 5, her weird relationship with fish, and her recent jump into the director's chair.  Unless you're new here, female driven/directed/centered horror is my bag of tricks, so every fiber of my being is shaking with anticipation for this film.  Weirdly enough, even with Danielle Fucking Harris in the director's chair, this film wasn't smooth sailing.  Don't get me wrong, Danielle Harris is one of the most respected women in horror, but even she had some bullsh to deal with in order to get her movie made. 

While she spoke highly of the actors cast in the film that were her friends, she discussed a major struggle with some of the actors having issues with her directorial vision and taking her seriously as the person in power.  Luckily, she was working with Alyssa Lobit who acted as the lead actress as well as the writer, but having a solid support system doesn't equate to people taking you seriously as a female director.  "It's not about men directors and women directors, it's about good directors and bad directors."  This statement may be one of the most genuine things ever uttered, and something that we as women don't ever talk about.  Here's the thing, is it more difficult for female directors to even get to the point where they are able to make a horror film? Yes. I won't deny that.  I may be sacrificing my female horror card by saying this, but having a vagina and making a genre film doesn't give you an automatic pass into festivals or immediately earn you the same respect and credibility of male directors.  On that same note, male directors aren't given a free pass to making "better" films than women solely because they're men.  To put it simply, your work speaks before your gender ever will.


I'm just so sick and tired of being told that as a female horror aficionado, I'm supposed to give a pass to female directors simply because they're female.  That is ridiculous and the exact opposite of what we as women are trying to achieve.  Adam Green discussed the topic by saying, "You have to make your own chances, whatever that is."  You know what? He's right.  The whole point of feminism is to establish equality between the sexes, meaning, we cannot hold women to a different standard than men.  

It's important to note that there is a huge difference between criticism and awareness.  Women are wholeheartedly underrepresented in the genre, which is why things like Women in Horror Recognition Month and the Viscera Film Festival are absolutely vital to the progress for women in horror.  Until women are given the same treatment as far as releasing their works, (which is more about money and less about talent) these programs are important.  However, when it comes to criticism, there are many that want critics to "cut women slack" as far as reviewing their work, and that is not okay.  When women strive to be treated differently, they're destroying the very fundamental desire of feminism and further pushing the divide between the sexes.  I really encourage more female filmmakers to go the route of Danielle Harris and not make any qualms about the reception/creation of her films.  If we want to be taken seriously, we need to start acting serious.  Strive not to make a solid "female directed horror film," make a solid horror film.

SEE THE TRAILER FOR AMONG FRIENDS BELOW

Friday, May 10, 2013

THE MAN BEHIND THE LENS: AN INTERVIEW WITH ADAM BARNICK

Most horror fans know Adam "I told you no fahkin' cats in the house" Barnick through his featurette work on Paul Solet's Grace and Adam Green's Frozen, but the work of Adam Barnick is far more extensive and captivating than some documentary extra features. Don't get me wrong, his documentary extras were fantastic, even helping Grace to nab the "Best Indie Disc" award at the 2010 Reaper Awards, but Adam Barnick deserves far more praise for his work, keen eye for storytelling, and exceptional craftsmanship.

Adam Barnick is a film director/editor and writer living in the New York City area. His most recent short film, Mainstream, has played severeal international festivals and was included in the distribution for the Fangoria Blood Drive II: America's Best Short Horror Films DVD. His company, Wicked Tree Films, has collaborated with Mind's Eye International, Anchor Bay Entertainment, Leomax Picture, Starz Home Entertainment, ArieScope Pictures, Crimson Films, Fortuneteller Films, and A Bigger Boat. Barnick recently directed his first 35mm music video, "Say You'll Stay" for the singer/songwriter John Presnell. The video won the Director's Showreel Award in Lornography's Dramatic Competition for videos shot with their unique cameras. Following the success of Say You'll Stay, Barnick cranked out two back to back music videos for the band Rivulets. The horror-themed period piece "How, Who" was featured on horror websites within days of its release. Outside of filmmaking, Barnick has contributed articles, reviews, and interviews for Entertainment Insiders, Icons of Fright, and Massive Hysteria. He is currently in postproduciton on his first feature-length documentary, What is Scary, and more information will be announced later this year. With the exposition out of the way, I was lucky enough to get in touch with Adam Barnick for an exclusive interview.

BJ-C: Thank you so much for agreeing to interview with me, I really do appreciate it. To start the ball rolling, I have to ask, how in the hell did you end up doing those amazing documentaries for Adam Green and Paul Solet? 

AB: While I did do a very basic featurette about an art studio in film school, I didn’t study documentary making formally; I always had an interest in doing one aside from my narrative work but I hadn’t pursued any. 

On the set of Frozen
The offer to do something in that area was out of left field- my short horror film, MAINSTREAM, was picked up a few years ago by Fangoria/Koch Vision to be part of their "Blood Drive II: America's Best Short Horror Films" DVD. Online shorts weren't that prolific yet, so this was a huge deal to get that kind of "DVD in every store" exposure! Paul Solet (co-director of MEANS TO AN END which is on the same disc), and I hit it off; he shared some scripts with me and we were both monsters in terms of the work we did to promote our own work. Anyway I read early drafts of his feature, GRACE, and when he revealed he was going to do a big-budget short film to gain attention for a feature, he asked if I'd work on it. I think at random he asked for me to do a behind the scenes documentary. I figured I could come up with something interesting and cinematic, and I'd had enough journalism training and time spent on film sets to be able to thoroughly interview cast and crew members. And as a film/DVD geek, I knew the type of Bonus Content I wanted to see, which rarely matched the content on any discs. 

 It was primitive at the time, but the two docs (a short EPK and a larger, 30 minute doc) I did for him helped open almost as many doors as the short did! And indirectly, through my random attendance of HATCHET's world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival, they helped get the ball rolling where Adam Green eventually saw the short film, and its making-of, and that was one of several parts that ended up in a "right place right time" situation where Paul eventually got the feature made, under ArieScope's production/supervision. 

On the set of Grace with Paul Solet
It took a lot of arm-twisting(union issues and a limit on Americans who could work on it) to get me up to Canada to work on the feature-length film, but I was determined to do a 'film school in a box' of featurettes for GRACE. They needed to be as layered and thoughtful and emotionally engaging as the movie itself was. Out of six docs on the blu-ray, five are mine(Jake Hamilton did the fantastic Sundance-based documentary). And even though I was working on outdated equipment, anything we had handy, they still hold up. You really see what it took to make the film and it's never just complimentary talking heads. 

Adam Green saw the first cuts of the featurettes and asked if I could get him copies ASAP to bring to the FROZEN producers; and I ended up spending 1/3 of that shoot on a mountaintop, in blizzards, with wild animals, amazing stunts, you name it. So many awesome memories there. Loved every minute despite the snow, thin air above sea level, etc. I was even able to splice in flashbacks to the set of Grace! People get really absorbed into those documentaries; they get people thinking, they laugh, some people get teary-eyed at the end of the production documentary. People still write me about them, and FROZEN became Anchor Bay's best selling original DVD and Blu-Ray. 

BJ-C: Making these documentaries, you were able to work firsthand with Green and Solet, and the internet has been blessed with Boston dialect videos in the process.  Hopefully not a loaded question, but are Adam Green and Paul Solet as cool as they seem? 

AB: Wicked cool. Two of the most standup guys I have been fortunate to meet and work with in the film business. They were, and are, both great to work with and learn from. Very grateful for the opportunities I got through them. I’ll always be excited to see what they’ll do next; and I secretly hope for a shout-out in Holliston Season 2 like I got in the Jack Chop video, when “Nicolo” shows up.

Barnick shooting "Say You'll Stay"
BJ-C: Most recently, you've been putting out some really incredible music videos.  How you choose the bands you shoot. Simply, do bands find you or do you find them? 

AB: So far, in the ones I have directed, it's a mix; though I have known John Presnell for a long time, he had approached me about several music videos and we were brainstorming various treatments for songs at various budgets. "Say You'll Stay" was the most unique and yet affordable idea in its presentation, even though we shot 35mm film! As for Rivulets/Nathan Amundson, those two videos were entirely my idea(to make them, not just the concepts) from the start. I went directly to the musician, who I was a huge fan of, and pitched him. I felt we would have similar sensibilities, and I was right. Nathan's music has been a huge part of my life for many years and I wanted to return the favor, in a way.

BJ-C: You've done a wide variety of shooting styles, how is directing music different than movies?

Shooting on "Rivulets"
AB: I guess it depends on the approach; storytelling is storytelling, but ultimately you are in service of the musicians and how they come across, first and foremost. My video “I Don’t Want to be Found” for Rivulets isn’t story-driven, it only hints at one and comes across more like a moving painting/impressions through images- but is a low-key yet appropriate showcase for Nathan’s style. But “How, Who” is equally showcasing his performing and his role within the video’s story. Editing is where it gets really interesting in music videos, striking the balance between showcasing the performer and serving the story (assuming there is one) is a complicated dance I’m excited to keep working at. 

BJ-C: Do you have a specific genre of music do you like to "direct"? 

AB: I don't know if I have a set favorite- I'm itching to work with some metal bands, do a hip hop video… though I do tend to like the darker, quieter, ambient styled-music. "How, Who" is a blend of my favorite types of images. Winter; isolation; minimalism; barren sinister trees, deliberate, long takes.. I have no one set "style", I’ll adapt for any performer and cater to how they need to be presented, through my sensibilities. But anyone who knows me or my favorite work or my photography etc. can tell how "me" that video is. 

Barnick with Grace cast/crew
BJ-C: If not music genres, what kind of movies do you like to direct? 

AB: While I love horror, it’s probably only 50% of me. Drama, sci-fi, thrillers, comedy; I am after all of them. I do tend to favor ideas and stories that are atmospheric and layered and give you something to chew on mentally with your entertainment but I’ve got straightforward, simpler stories in me as well. 

BJ-C: You've been really busy lately, can you drop any info on current/future projects?

AB: There's a few things in the works I don't want to get into until they're full-on happening, but good things are brewing. But right now, I’m fleshing out two screenplays, one is the feature-length adaptation of my short film MAINSTREAM and the other is a thriller set in the UK. I’m also kicking postproduction on my experimental documentary WHAT IS SCARY? back into gear this Summer. That project had to be pushed off to the side for some time, but now I will be actively steering it towards its completion. 

BJ-C: I'll make this one simple, lifetime goal with directing? 

AB: Other than to be doing it continuously? I guess I would say I want to build worlds, environments and characters that stay with you and affect you in the best and worst of ways. 

BJ-C: Alright, last question. I'll try to make it fun. Gun to your head, if you were forced to remake any film, what would you remake and what would you do with it? 

AB: Oh wow. That might take me a long time to come up with an idea of something I think needs to be revisited. But I do have one I'd pick which could function as a remake but would actually be a sequel, to John Carpenter's THEY LIVE. The core ideas are even more relevant now, I think, then in the 80's. 

WE SLEEP would take place today. 

Still from "How, Who"
I always wondered about one plot element in the original film; the entire alien scheme/force field is generated by an unprotected, small radar dish, just one, on an LA rooftop where it can get damaged/destroyed by lightning or even wind! Really? There would have to be a backup plan the characters didn’t know about. 

In WE SLEEP, we'd see that the "unveiling" in the end of the original film only lasted 9 minutes before their other network of radio signals/other radar dishes around the world kicked in as a failsafe/backup. 

Nobody really remembers, understands or cares about the 'reveal' 25 years ago, and for anyone who did, it'd be dismissed as hallucination or mass hysteria. And we go right back to sleep for a few decades; until today, where everyone is even more greedy and insane, and we're worshipping fame and plastic, the poor are poorer and the corporations control it all, down to the rights to our genetic lines; and we spend all day staring into our phones when we should be talking to each other. And the environmental damage/conversion of our atmosphere is nearly complete. 

And then an angry young man buys some dusty old sunglasses in a pawn shop.

I have the rest mapped out because I sit and think too much. But how do you wake up people who love being asleep? What is the signal that used to be controlled by TV, keeping the human illusion in place, is now in the Wi-Fi? Can we give that up in order to be free? 

BJ-C: Shut up and take my money.

Still from "I Don't Want To Be Found"

For more information, check out Adam Barnick's website.
subscribe to him on YouTube.
and follow him on twitter @AdamBarnick

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Farewell to the King of Monsters. RIP Ray Harryhausen


I regret to inform you that legendary creature designer, Ray Harryhausen has passed on.  
At 92 years, Harryhausen has represented the pinnacle of visual effects in monster movies.  Luckily, Harryhausen has lived a very long and fulfilling life and has left a legacy that will inspire for the rest of cinematic history.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

GUT: A MIXED-BAG INTROSPECTIVE ON SNUFF FILMS

I particularly enjoy bad films that allot for scathing reviews almost as much as I enjoy great films I can gush about.  However, there is nothing more frustrating than watching a film that falls somewhere in the middle.  For all intents and purposes, I should have loved Gut.  Unfortunately, I didn't.  I didn't hate it, but I surely didn't love it.  Yet, as much as I found the film to be problematic and rather dull, I'd still encourage many of my readers to watch the film.  Despite its flaws, Gut is still rather unique.  Written and directed by a man known only as Elias, Gut is the story of Tom (Jason Vail) and his longtime pal, Dan.  The two seem to live relatively normal, menial lives when they come across a mysterious DVD left in Dan's PO box that appears to show a recording of a man killing a woman; a real life snuff film.  Of course, Dan uses this opportunity to try and re-connect with his ol' pal, Tom.  As disgusted as these two men are with this film, they can't get enough of it and begin looking for more snuff films.  They manage to find some more flicks, but the mystery remains, who is killing all of these people and filming it?  The film is not without its flaws, but it's interesting look at the way we respond to revolting material is quite eye opening.  Gut isn't bringing anything new to the table, but it successfully pulled a few visceral reactions out of me. 

Elias first needs to be credited with making a very well-executed piece of film.  Elias has a very strong grasp on his camera work and manages to give the impression that the camera is observing the world of the film, rather than presenting it to the audience.  Considering the premise of the damn movie is on the way we observe a particular type of film, his technique was incredibly smart.  Unfortunately, his directing style felt a bit constrictive and the pacing needs some serious work.  I'm a big fan of slow-burn style horror films (call me, Ti West!), but there's a huge difference between slow paced and downright dull.  Gut leans a little too far into the latter for my liking.

The film has an incredibly small cast, and the actors are all over the map.  With a film relying on very little dialogue, I was expecting a very solid set of actors.  I suppose I set my expectations a bit too high.  Don't get me wrong, these actors are at least a half step above some college film project, but I wouldn't praise any of the actors in the film for their work. I've seen better, but I've seen much worse.


The snuff films themselves deliver a genuine amount of gross-out moments, which is a decent pay-off for the snail pace of the film.  I'd like to have seen a little more of the gore, if only to invoke a stronger reaction out of me.  Ultimately, if the characters had been more developed and I actually gave a shit about them, I would have been far more invested into this film.  Unfortunately, where the plot and atmosphere soar, the character development and dialogue greatly suffer.  In a world where we're obsessed with things like 2 Girls 1 Cup, Goatse, and The Pain Olympics, a film like Gut clearly has a place in our world.  If you're looking for a change of pace from the jump-scared loaded horror films of Hollywood (and don't mind slow pacing), Gut is worth a one time watch.
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