16 June 2015

LAST DITCH EFFORT TO PRESERVE THIS MEASELY ASS BLOG

I have to admit it, I am not enthusiastic about writing for this site anymore. There are reasons for that and basically it boils down to a continual lack of comments or reader interaction. If people are not going to leave comments then what is the fucking point, you know? And I have tried all the wimpy ass suggestions to get more comments and in the end I just am not, for example, going to leave comments at ten or twenty other blogs in the hopes that half of those people may return a comment to mine. That is not what I want, and to be honest I even tried that and it did not even work anyway. And yet, at the end of the day,  still have some interest in the topics here, if for no one else then just for myself. But I have to be honest with myself, I am burned out with writing and posting tons of images and getting zilch in return. In fact a recent comment I got is what pushed me into this bleak miasma of bitter doubt. A commenter actually said he was amazed that a particular well worked out post had gotten no comments until his. years after I hd published the post! I felt he was right. There is more to all of this, but in a nutshell, as they say, that is it. 

So what is my big master plan to get the blog a little active? I am going to convert it to being a mostly podcast only site. I have the hardware and software now to do a decent podcast, as well as a good free file hosting service over at The Internet Archives. I am playing a lot with audio these days on my own, with doing original songs and the like. It is where my head is at and a podcast would fit in to all of that, and I can belt a few out with ease actually. My earlier experiments with podcasting were fairly rough but I learned a lot and no need to let all that go to waste. And there is a type of enjoyment I get I from doing audio that demands less from readers (or listeners in this case). If I make a song I like or a podcast I like I can personally listen to it over and over later. I seldom, if ever, reread a blog post unless it is find and correct typos. 

And with that I will end this post and hopefully the next time I return here it will be with a new podcast. Maybe by this weekend? Now, where's that fancy ass microphone I bought?

01 May 2015

BEYOND THE GRAVE/PORTOS DOS MORTOS/2010

I have been meaning to get around to saying something about this interesting film from Brazil for a long time, but I am just not an enthusiastic blogger these days. But I am trying my best. I want to first thank producer Isidoro B. Guggiana for trying so hard to get me a screener of Beyond the Grave for me to try out. The guy sent me two DVDs and one was lost here in China and the other was returned to him. The mail system here is a joke and I am frustrated over never getting important papers from the IRS I need. Well, lets not get off onto a China tirade right now. He finally got me an online screener version though a hard copy of the movie would have been great.  I have been offered a couple screeners but after the people promoting the movies found out I was in China they gave up and never sent it to me because of the high postage rates and my warnings to them that stuff vanishes here in the mail. But Isidoro came through and this is my first ever screener review here at The Uranium Café.

Beyond the Grave is written and directed by Brazilian filmmaker Davi de Oliveira Pinheiro and while it does not on the one offer anything totally new (what can anymore) it actually takes a few motifs from horror and action films and tires into a strange little bundle that might described as a “spaghetti zombie” film. And while there are zombies in the film I would not really say the movie was focused on zombies and zombie killings. The story is more of an occult or Satanic type drama than a “shoot ‘em in the head” zombie thriller. The story is set in the near future and the world is in a shambles for reasons I never quite understood. I am not certain if it is due to something nuclear, chemical/biological or even other-wordly. Riding through the back roads of Brazil in a sleek looking black Ford Maverick is the vigilante hero we only get to know as The Officer. He is searching someone or something known only as the Dark Rider. The Dark Rider is able to inhabit the bodies of people and is released upon death of the person to go into a new body. Actually, I am never clear on who the Dark Rider is but it does not matter. The element of uncertainty does not detract from the story. He hooks up with and befriends as best he can a couple of wandering teenagers. Together they team up with a trio of survivors in what seems to be an abandoned school and united they seek to face and destroy the Dark Rider. While the story does not center on the zombies (or “Returners”) they are an issue and contribute to death and tension when one least expects it.

The film is directed and shot well enough and the music score works with what is happening on the screen. It has an old school Italian horror movie feel to it and the version I saw was subtitled from (I assume) Portuguese into English. I am certain the references to old Westerns and even Samurai films are intentional homage’s. In fact, really, the film seems to be more of a modern Western and even crime film than a horror movie most of the time. But make no mistake, there are monsters and evil spirits enough to make this one creepy enough for the underground horror crowd. Do not know how easy or difficult this may be to find in the States but if you can find it give it a viewing. I am including the official Lockheart Films trailer to give you a sense of what it is about.






BEYOND THE GRAVE TRAILER

25 April 2015

THE POSSIBLE RISING FROM THE DEAD OF NECROTIC CINEMA


I have no idea what is up, but I am just getting more and more followers to this blog over at its Facebook Page. I tried to kill it but it won't stay dead. In fact it has more followers than The Uranium cafe has there. While I am really not in the mood to blog the way I used to it seems there is a market out there still Necrotic movie reviews, with the emphasis being on newer, modern horror films, with an often scathing tone running through the reviews. It is a bit odd. I have moved over half of the reviews here over to the UCafe and was considering disabling this blog when all of that was done. But I dunno, seems like I may continue with some blogging here after all. everyday NC has a follower or two. I like it. While the glory days of my manic blogging binges are over I still like to write and the next time I want to do a modern horror review it will be posted here. May still double post stuff over to the UCafe, to had some color to that site which is suffering from my blogging apathy as well. I am not writing much have I have yet to swear off blogging. The day may come. But I still enjoy it. Have watched gobs of stuff, most of total drek and deserving of an Uncle Bill review. Yea. I think Necrotic Cinema is alive again. In an undead sense of course. 

SEEMS JIMMY HAS FLOWN OVER THE HILLS AND FAR AWAY

The point of this post is simple and direct and it may offend some people out there. I am about to tread on sacred ground. For about a year or more, maybe two or so, I just can’t help thinking to myself “what the fuck has happened to Jimmy Page!?” It is not really what the fuck has happened to him in the last couple years, but what has been the issue with this guy that  I simply did not notice before. I am an old guy myself now and he is about 70. So there will be changes in perception of course. I really only had two rock idols to speak of of. One was Paul McCartney (yup, my favorite Beatle) and the other was Jimmy Page. Sure I like lots of others, and they are all mostly dead or super old now. But those two guys really had an impact on me growing up. My fan worship with Paul McCartney ended long ago to be honest, with an album called Wings at the Speed of Sound. It was too sappy for me and he only got worse as time went on. But I still like the guy. My fascination with Jimmy Page went deeper and lasted much longer, but now I am wondering why. What am I getting at?  First, let me make clear I was a huge Led Zeppelin fan. I camped out and got tickets to their April 17, 1977 show in Cincinnati Ohio. In fact, I bought the very last ticket in Lexington Ky. I took the bus up there and back. Saw them front row. The stuff legends are made of indeed. I sported super long black hair and had all the cool Led Zep and Page posters of the time. I read all I could on him and the band. I was one of those disenfranchised American teenage guys who made the band what they are with my allegiance and devotion. They could do not wrong in my eyes and if Jimmy Page did quaaludes then by God it was okay for me to do quaaludes too. If he studied Aleister Crowley then Aleister Crowley must be studied. It was typical fan stuff an by my mid twenties it had mostly waned and I was listening to Brian Eno and Philip Glass more, but I still always kept fresh versions of vinyl copies of all Led Zeppelin albums and, by then, any solo material from any of the members. I read interviews by Page, Robert Plant and John Paul Jones when I could get them and collected magazines that had articles on them. I was a “super” fan and it is important I preface things with that. Given the chance I may have had homosexual sex with the man at one point in my life. Now how devoted a fan is that!

But something has changed slightly lately. I still like the Zeppelin catalogue and Page's guitar style and right now I am listening, for inspiration, to the Jimmy Page soundtrack album for Death wish II. Shitty movie to be frank but this was the first solo release by a Zeppelin member and, in my opinion, not a bad album. The two Firm albums weren’t too bad and neither was the Jimmy Page Outrider album. By no means great, but okay. There was also the barely known Page/Plant collaboration called Walking into Clarksdale which sounds nothing like Led Zeppelin and which I like a lot. And finally there is the Coverdale Page collaboration which sounds a lot like a hybrid of White Snake and Led Zeppelin, but what would be wrong with that? Now here is a problem I have. I have just basically  named off everything Jimmy Page has done in the last 35 years. I am not talking about stuff like what he did with the Black Crows or the Unledded album. Because therein lies what most of my problem is with the guy I once held in godlike esteem. The bulk of his work, what work there has been since Led Zeppelin disbanded in 1980 or so after the death of John Bonham (the greatest mediocre drummer of all time), has been him rehashing old Zep songs live and trying to relive the glory days of Led Zeppelin. With the recent reissusing of yet more Zeppelin remasters and the relatively mild feud between him and Robert Plant about a possible Zeppelin reunion and tour that Plant has made clear will not happen I have just grown sick of listening to and reading about Jimmy Page suddenly. And I will say now that  I totally back Plant on not wanting to do a Zeppelin tour and I admire the large body of original solo work he has released on a fairly consistent basis since Zep ended. Plant moved on and tried new things, much to the chagrin it seems of Zepophiles who thought he should squeal out “squeeze my lemon” even when he is in a wheelchair. 

I do not think Plant is ashamed of his Golden maned rock god image from the 70’s, and why should he be?, but I think he is also very comfortable no longer looking like a lion on the prowl and is fine with resembling the cowardly lion with a hangover.  He wants to do his own music that seems to be homages to American folk/country and psychedelic prog rock more than anything one might hear on anything he did with Zeppelin. Page on the other hand wants to do nothing else but rant and rave about Led Zeppelin and all his contributions to rock music as a musician and producer. I just read a few interviews the other night and I just got so bored with him gibbering yet again about how he did this and that with mic placement and ambient recording of drums and blah blah about guitar armies and all that. Yes he also produced the sounds on those albums and no doubt contributed to some studio innovations during the period. And I guess when you’re business savvy and got one of the best record company deals in the history of rock music and in the end became one of the richest men in the entertainment field and you do not really have to work for the rest of your natural life you reach a place in the latter years where you can only relieve what you did in your glory days, because you have not done anything else since. And once one is so filthy rich he loses contact with the rest of the world from inside his mansions and castles he does not have to really do anything new to satisfy his fans other than give another interview about the middle section in Whole Lotta Love or how brilliant he was in placing some microphones in a stairwell in Headley Grange manor to get that sound on When the Levee Breaks. Shit fuck. This guy has given the same interview for 30 years.

He was asked in an interview what he considers the high point in terms of his music has been since Zeppelin ended. I could not believe he said the 2008 Olympics performance, where he played Whole Lotta Love on top of a double decker bus with some singer I never heard of before or since in Beijing China. I caught the performance by chance here (I live in China) and thought it was cool.  I also know the Chinese Olympic committee treated him like shit, saying he was not famous enough for China and did not even give him a ticket or pass to attend the opening ceremonies and games. Why would he think this was the high point of him career, when I thought it was a low point myself. And I watched that It Might Get Loud film where he dominates and tries to steal every scene from The Edge and Jack White. When he got up and went on and on about how he wrote the riff to Kashmir I turned it off. I was embarrassed. Not for him. He is rich and powerful and lives in weird houses with bell towers and secret chambers so he do all manner of odd things and still be cool. But I felt embarrassed for myself. That I used to see this man as the coolest guy in the world. And to some degree he was of course. But he was also an arrogant, asinine drunken heroin addict and pedophile. Yup, I said pedophile. Just research the Lori Maddox incident and you will see this guy is more of perv than just someone who loves watching girls boinked with mud sharks in Seattle hotel rooms. And on top of that his fans will dismiss it all with “but he is Jimmy Page”. I have never heard any excuse Woody Allen or Roman Polanski so flippantly. 


Yea, yea. So what if he loves 15 year old girls and he basically abducts them and penetrates them sexually. By all accounts Maddox had already been around the block a few times for all that is worth. And lots of rockers were wasted on heroin at the time. Those are the perks of being a rock god I guess. But in the end he just comes off as a bit sinister and too arrogant and vain for me anymore. But so what. He is probably better than either Mick Jagger or Keith Richards or even John Lennon. But the deal is, I am sick and wiped out emotionally of there being nothing from this guy other than Whole Lotta Love and Since I’ve Loving You performed as a sit in guest for modern bands that are not worthy to tie his boot straps. And he is 70 now. How much rock and roll can the guy have left in him. Okay, he is a guitar player and not a singer, so maybe there are a few sparks left. He does not have to rely on rotting vocal cords. But I feel let down. I have been waiting decades for Page to get it all together and do something. I keep reading about the latest Page solo album that people in forums have dubbed No Progress. I just wish there had been more Jimmy Page and less Led Zeppelin since 1980. And no I do not hate the guy and even feel worried he may die one day soon. It will be a sad day for me when he passes on. But shit already, let Zeppelin go. Or I guess why not just milk it until it is dry. Not like there is much else on the horizon now. I recently watched Plant doing some stuff with Allison Crouch and his new band whose name I forget. He was not the Squeeze my Lemon kid at all. It was cool. He was not some old fart doing Whole Lotta Love, he was some old fart doing his own stuff and in the way an older man would do it. I guess there can be a point where one is not too old to make music, but one can be too old to rock with a bulge in his trousers and still look cool. I think the Stones have long passed the point where they should be seen on a stage doing Satisfaction but  in their defense the Stones kept going and rockin’ over the years. I love the Stones and I have to say that I listen to their stuff more than Zeppelin’s anymore. For no particular reason other than it suits me now. I think you can grow old and listen to a young Mick Jagger and not feel too weird. And there is nothing wrong with a young Robert Plant, or Jimmy Page either. But I think Plant has aged and moved on and Page just is not able to let the glory days go. And like Robert Plant once said, its not really healthy. 

I am listening to Walking into Clarksdale now. Just a great little album. Not Led IV or Physical Graffiti, but great in its own way. I waited a long time for a follow up. None. And I recall Plant telling Jimmy that while he was not up to a tour redoing Back Dog he wanted to know if Page had new material and in particular new acoustic stuff. And he even brought it up again in a later interview. But Jimmy just wanted to redo Zeppelin from the Physical Graffiti days. And what days those were. A great album with an awesome tour. And those were the end of the days when Zeppelin ruled the rock world as far as I am concerned. Jimmy had run out of those great songs long before Zep broke up. And so what. No biggie.  Presence was not a bad album (except of the deplorable Tea for One nine minute filler track at the end). I actually never felt Zep had to break up either just because of Bonham’s death myself. But maybe that was just an excuse. Use the death of Bonzo, who seemed like a real prick anyway prone to violence and destruction and was not really that versatile a drummer, to disband and not try to correct the debacle called In Through the Out Door. There were plenty of drummers who could have done the job better and the band could have grown. But the spirit was gone I guess, the air was out of the once mighty dirigible. Plant welcomed the change and thrived while Jimmy tried a few things and realized his vanity and ego really needed the whole Zep veneer to thrive. I wish there had been more experimental albums, instrumental stuff, acoustic stuff and not crap like that Black Crows live thing. I saw Plant on a solo tour in San Antonio and later saw Page and Plant do the Unledded tour in Washington State. Great stuff. But I just realize I guess I do not like the man Jimmy Page the way I used to. Hey, I do not like Keith Richards either. What a dick, but what else do you expect from Richards. But Page was good about creating a soft image of himself, that in the end I do not feel that was really him. I have read of how engineers hated to work with him and reporters dreaded him. I used to think it was their issues. But maybe not. And who cares. Most rock stars are arrogant pricks at one time or another, including Paul McCartney. In the end it is about their music that I have or maintain any interest in them. And Jimmy just has no more music. Shit. I never thought the day wold come when I wold say that. But rest assured he has another lame interview about how he changed the world of rock forever by using some old compressors on Black Dog. God, just shut up and play guitar already. Anything but Whole Lotta Love. 

22 January 2015

DEAD GIRL/2008

Hope I am back to doing some regular posting here at Necrotic Cinema [NOTE: This originally appeared long ago in my now defunct Necrotic Cinema blog. Resposted here to preserve the material]. Have figured out a method to keep the post updated using proxies and hopefully it will continue to work until Blogger is unblocked again here in China. I have a lot of material to draw on and lets hope and pray that my little method continues to work, as things can change. I had no problem with deciding which of many horror films to write about with this return to Necrotic Cinema. I was simply taken back by the R-rated, independent horror film Dead Girl. I am so tired of PG-13 horror and lost my passion for locating Sam Rami’s new return to horror movie Drag Me to Hell when I read it was PG-13. Of course I will see the film, I simply wanted something that would knock my socks off and usually PG-13 just cannot do that. Deadgirl did. Now I am not saying that this is some super great film. It is fine indie horror film with a cast of essentially unknown faces. I read some reviews that over analyze the film and call it a “sub-standard horror film”. Look the film is basically a horror film about necrophilia and you can criticize how effectively the filmmakers explored their characters motivations and reactions to what they do but in the end it is a film about raping, if not a corpse, a zombie of some sorts. There is gore, action and loads of teenage angst. So if you want to set back and over analyze the film’s intentions and symbolism you may find it wanting. If, on the other hand, you just want to see a couple of screwed up geek boy misfits, and even a couple jocks, have sex with a putrid zombie and get wants coming to them in the end then I can highly recommend this film from directors Marcel Sarmiento and Gadi Harel and writer Trent Haaga. From I read the movie was not even shot or edited on film but rather employed the same digital technique David Fincher used on Zodiac. I had my doubts about the new digital movie making processes when I read about them a couple years ago but the movie looks like it was shot on real film.
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The film on one level is a black comedy coming of age film. If coming of age is to be interpreted as having sex for the first time and leaving the innocence of childhood behind then Deadgirl could be seen a sick spoof of the Porkys, American Pie and Fast Times at Ridgemont High type films that seemed to send the message that all American teenage boys are so horny and pent up that they do anything for sex and especially to lose their virginity and become ‘real men’ finally. The two lead characters Rickie and J.T. (Shiloh Ferdandez and Noah Segan) play the brooding high school outsiders who have given hope of having a really great girlfriend since those types of girls (like good girl JoAnn played by Candice Accola) only date the popular jock types. J.T. admonishes Rickie’s lingering stares at JoAnn, a girl he has loved since she kissed him when he was five years old. Look, say what you want, the guy may harbor dreams of true love with a good girl but he is a little creepy and disillusioned as he gazes longlingly at JoAnn. J.T. is a little more grounded in reality when he reminds Rickie he has a snowball’s chance in Hell if having anything to do with JoAnn. To relieve the tension of their anguished teenage lives the lads decided to go chug some brewskies at an abandoned insane asylum and break a bunch of things. The boys go down into the basement area and are chased by a guard dog that lives in the basement (this would imply some human tends to the dog food needs and most likely occasionally patrols the area as well but this never seems to the case). The chase leads them to a locked door that they see as a possible way out but instead it leads to a dark room that contains what appears to be a dead girl wrapped in plastic. They inspect the strapped down girl (Jenny Spain) closer and find that she is not dead at all. Legitimate criticism could be made here regarding the boy’s decisions and Rickie’s blind loyalty to an asshole like J.T. who even punched Rickie in the face real good in order to prove whose opinion is right. We never find out who the girl is or why she is strapped or why she was left here when all other important supplies were removed when the asylum was closed down. Suspension of disbelief is required and we must accept a few loop holes in order for the story to move along and get to the necrophilia and mayhem we know is coming.

Rickie returns the next day with a gun toting J.T. who has discovered that the girl is not only not alive but cannot be killed off in her current state. To prove this he pumps a few slugs into her in front of a shocked Rickie. J.T. also used the girl as a punching bag. The next logical step after finding out you have a bound up zombie chick who cannot be killed and who is probably smelling ripe is what? Report it to the cops or a responsible adult? No, you have sex with her. J.T. is soon doing the dead girl and Rickie refuses to participate, earning J.T.’s scorn. After all, what would JoAnn thInk if she knew he was banging a corpse in the basemen of the deserted asylum. Soon another geeky stoner named Wheeler (Eric Podnar) is humping the pathetic dead girl (at $10 a pop going to J.T.). Rickie’s plans to free the girl with bolt cutters is put on hold and he simply is overwhelmed by all that is going on. In a later attempt he manages to cut one iron bracelet with the bolt cutters, with the girl showing kindness by caressing his finger slightly, but is interrupted by J.T. and hides. Later J.T. gets his face clawed by an angry dead girl who obviously has no kind feelings towards her captor and tormentor.

Ricthie is seen gawking secretly over JoAnn in the library by her jocko boyfriend Johnny (Andrew DiPalma) and his sidekick Dwyer (Nolan Gerard Funk) and they meet him and Wheeler and in parking lot and beat the hell out of them both. Dumb ass Wheeler can’t keep his mouth shut and tells the jocks they don’t a girl like JoAnn because they have the pussy (his words not mine) they could ever want. I guess this intrigues the jocks and soon they in the basement looking on the dead girl in amazed disgust as a pimpish looking J.T. eggs them on with challenges and dares. Soon Rickie is pushing the jocks on, betting they have never even had a blowjob before. Well after Dwyer decides to have some of the necro-action Johnny is getting his first ever hummer and his first ever ‘gnawjob’ as the dead girl takes a bite out his manhood. Rickie had a change of heart as he realized the impending danger, but it was a little too late I fear.

The next day in class Johnny ain’t looking or feeling to good and go to the john were he has the worst bowel movement of his short life and spills his guts (literally) in the can. J.T. is actually getting sort of disgusted with the oozing dead girl and devises some plan to create a new zombie lover. He and Wheeler foil their first attempt at kidnapping a female when she beats both their asses. As luck would have it though JoAnn shows up wanting an explanation for what happened to Johnny and soon she is tied up to a pole with the dead girl. A final confrontation in the basement leaves Wheeler with a hand or entrails and J.T. with a bitten face wanting to die rather than become like his victim. The dead girl shows Rickie mercy and escapes but JoAnn is infected from a wound received by the dead girl. There is a is a happy ending to all this when at the end a cheery looking Rickie returns to the basement to tend to a strapped up, and ‘dead’, JoAnn. We can only assume his intentions are honorable. There never seems to be any police investigation into the disappearance of all these high school kids but we can figure that happens later off camera. I am actually glad they did not write in any cop characters even though it would have added some reality to the story. The sex and violence is fairly graphic and is at times gratuitous and exploitative. That’s does not bother me but it might some people. And despite some flaws in the storyline (flaws any horror movie is going to have really) I found it to be a good horror film and hope the open ending here spawns a well done sequel though the film would be perfect if left alone as is.
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A COLLECTION OF ORIGINAL DEAD GIRL
VIDEO CAPTURES AWAITS YOU RIGHT HERE

ALBINO FARM/2009


A definite prerequisite before sitting through the low budget hick-horror film Albino Farm is a liking for inbred, mutant hillbilly killer movies. I personally like these kinds of films. There is nothing new in Albino Farm and the viewer should also have a tolerance for all things derivative as well. In reading some reviews of Albino Farm I just have to wonder how original horror movie fans want a film to be before they can at least say it was a watchable movie. I too can get a little fed up with the ‘car trouble in the boondocks’ formula but it is simply a workable method of putting unwitting victims (usually snobby city dwellers) into some sort of dangerous situation in an unfamiliar and threatening environment. It may be the castle of a vampire or a hotel managed by psychos or a bunch of hillbillies who have nothing better to do than chop up college kids but the victims need to be put in harms way as soon as possible and then need to start dying off in gruesome fashion quickly with some attempt at character development along the way so you can feel a little bad (or happy) when they get a pick-axe through the eye socket. It is what the film makers do with the formula, not the formula itself, that can become a problem for the viewer. Albino Farm explores no new ground and the familiar territory it does venture into leaves nothing for old horror movie fans like myself to get too excited about but I can give the movie a moderate recommendation. It is in no way as bad as many of the reviews make it out to be. It could have gotten three skulls instead of two and a half had it not been for the fact that most of the action occurs outside the Albino Farm, much of it in a poorly lit cavern with that crappy, shaky camera work I hate. When is that ‘arty trend’ going to end? If the last part of the film had happened in the actual Albino Farm and been the violence been much gorier this would have been a pretty fair horror film.
I do not go into a movie like this expecting miracles but I do at least expect the film to try and live up to its title. Other than a roadside revival albino preacher there are no albinos in the film. The title really evoked some image in my mind that the film never got close to. And if you’re interested the film is based on an actual urban legend of sorts. The real Albino Farm was a turn of the century house and grounds called Springlawn Farms near Springfield Missouri and was an institution for deformed and mentally retarded people. I don’t know if those are the politically correct terms but if you’re reading blogs like this and watching movies like Albino Farm in the first place why get hung up on little social improprieties like that? The residents of Springlawn Farms were fairly isolated and cut off form the communities around them and as one might expect some local tall tales and legends sprang up regarding the people there and what might have been going on beyond the walls. Seems there was possibly a cantankerous albino gardener or caretaker on the premises or maybe even a family of albinos that resided there, perhaps against their wills. The only real source of all these legends seems to be local folklore and school children's campfire stories.
In the film we have four college students traveling the back roads of rural America for some sort of school project on urban legends. The characters are all standard horror movie clichés. The good girl. The bad girl. The jerk. The nerd. Eventually they run into car trouble in the form of a blown tire and wind up at a desolate service station where the jerk Brian (Nick Richey) insults the hillbilly attendant to such a degree that we cannot wait until he gets the comeuppance we know smart ass city slickers like himself will get eventually. They get some information on the local legend called the Albino Farm but not directions. They are warned to stay away but why would they listen to any sound advice like that. They are soon in the small town of Shiloh insulting the locals to no end. They seem to have no luck getting anybody to want to talk about the Albino Farm but eventually Brian and bad girl Stacey (Tammin Sursok) figure out a nifty way to get some local redneck freaks, led by Levi (wrestler Chris Jericho), to give them a lift to the Albino Farm: Brian has Stacey flash her ample hooters at the inbred goof balls in exchange for a ride. Brilliant!  While all of this is going on nerdy nice-guy and ethnic Indian Sanjay (Sunkrish Bala) and good girl Melody (Alicia Lagano) visit a local church and find out how amiss things in this little town really are when they get a look at a mutant baby. They freak out and discover Brian and Stacey are gone get help from a mute boy in getting directions to the Albino Farm. There Brian and Stacey have been left stranded by the surprisingly rude local thugs. Don’t these hicks know how to treat asinine city kids who have been insulting you to your face from the word go? Which brings us to an important point; the deal with most all of these backwoods killer films, including as a good example the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise, is that in the end you just do not like the spoiled, arrogant city kids that much anyway (except for the virgin heroine) and when they start dying off one by one there is a feeling of relief. I mean, haven’t you ever felt yourself silently rooting for Leatherface? Well, I know I have.

The story finally shifts to the kids at the Albino where they begin to fall prey to the deformed inhabitants who prowl the grounds there, the victims of perhaps genetic experimentation or simply generations of inbreeding. Who knows. It is never explained. In what is considered to be the high point of the film Brian is held captive in some sort of shed and becomes the amorous target of them grotesque ‘Pig-Bitch’ (played by the super sexy looking in real life Bianca Barnett). Luckily for us he spurns her advances and is done in the way any city-boy should be who rejects any Dixie gal with the nickname Pig-Bitch. The others are hunted down by the Farm residents but the action does not occur inside the institution itself, which could have been a boost, but rather quickly shifts to a cave. This was the biggest let down for me in what might have been a great horror film story. We never see any albinos to speak of and we never even see the farm itself in order to get some sense about what has happened to these creatures. Maybe there will be a sequel and if there is I will check it out. The ending is left open as good girl melody staggers shaken and disoriented into the roadside revival tent and perhaps mutant salvation. We do not know for sure.
The direction by Joe Anderson and Sean McEwen is fairly tight overall but the script could have used a little more work. I would guess budget constraints dictated how the film finally looked and a cave with shaky camera work probably cost less than indoor shots of a decrepit old laboratory with a mounted camera and cameraman who was trained in how to do his job. Okay. I am a bit harsh there but overall I thought this could have been a great psycho-hick film if a little more effort had gone into it but I still say it is worth at least one viewing for fans of hillbilly horror. 





A DARIO ARGENTO FILM I LIKED: GIALLO/2009


God knows I have tried to like Dario Argento. His name pops up everywhere in the horror world and yet I have to admit I have cared for very little he has ever done. His sycophantic supporters say that even if his newer work is weak we must acknowledge the genius of his ‘high period’ when he helped to usher in the great giallo films of the late 60’s and early 70’s as well as his unique brand of horror. And that may well be unarguable. Some of his films from the period, that I have seen, are Bird With the Crystal Plumage, Tenebre, Deep Red, Suspiria, and Phenomenon. While these are classics of some sort, I guess, I have to admit that  all of these films are some of the most confusing and haphazard movies I have ever sat down to watch. When the killer and her motives is finally revealed in Deep Red (some minor female character who had about two or three minutes of screen time earlier in the film) I was so disappointed. Not to say that that is a reason to pan a film and not see it but I seem to missing something that hordes of other people are getting and don’t know what it is. Why is Deep Red (Profundo Rosso) considered to be one of the great giallo films of the 70’s? It is a mediocre film at best. One defense I have read of Argento (and most Italian giallo and horror in general) is that one must not look for a linear story in the Hollywood fashion and instead you have to let yourself go along with the surreal quality of the film and receive its messages on an almost unconscious level.  One is to not watch and analyze the film as a whole but you have look for those special moments that cannot be found in any other genre. I am not sure about all that but as time has gone on I have to admit I have developed a liking for Italian horror and suspense films I did not have when I was younger. I liked Italian post war dramas and pepla and spaghetti westerns for some reason but was confused by Italian horror until I explored Mario Bava’s work. Then I read that Bava was an inspiration for Argento and the men even worked together on some projects at the end of Bava’s career. I decided there had to be something there my Cro-magnon mind could not fathom. Years later I finally concluded some of the stuff is okay after all though I can still be at a loss and typically cannot finish an Italian made horror or crime film in one setting.
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Now what totally surprises me is how much I enjoyed Argento’s latest film Giallo. In fact when I bought the DVD I did not actually know it was an Argento film. Shows how out of touch I am I guess. I could tell by the title and cover art that it was going to be an homage film and I like both Adrien Brody and Emmanuelle Seigner so figured it had to be a decent enough film for an evening’s viewing. In fact I watched it after watching the really disappointing remake of The Taking of Pelham 123. I picked up the box and noticed for the first time it was a Dario Argento film and my heart sank. I had recently rewatched Suspiria (which I mostly enjoy) and had not seen anything recent by Argento since the TV movie Do You Like Hitchcock. In that case I expected an homage type film with lots of clever references to Hitchcock’s work but I was so disappointed that I went back into another long period of Argento loathing. I do not understand why I liked Giallo but I simply did. I have read scathing reviews of the film online and how the old master has lost his touch. I guess for me I never thought he had much of touch to begin with so I did not expect much. After seeing it I decided to find some other recent Aregento works, like Mother of Tears, I have dismissed in advance in a childish, judgmental fashion not appropriate to a purveyor of trash cinema. It is time I rethink this bias and deal with it and lay it to rest.

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Giallo tells the story of a ugly, tormented and more than slightly demented man who suffers from jaundice, ergo the nickname ‘Yellow’ or giallo. The charcter of yellow is played by Byron Deidra. It is also the story of the eccentric and focused cop, Enzo Avolfi (Brody), who is obsessively on the bloody trail of Yellow. Avolfi does things his own way and is left alone by the department for the most part as he has a history of results. The name Byron Deidra happens to be a clever little anagram for Adrien Brody and both Avolfi and Yellow are played by Brody. Some sites have totally panned Brody’s performance but I feel it is pretty good. The lines he is given by writers Jim Agnew, Sean Keller and Argento are the most inspiring and he delivers them in a dead pan fashion that recalls troubles film noir detectives more than the classic giallo style detective who often lacked any dimension at all. Also coming into the mix is the American Linda (Emmanuelle Seigner aka Mrs. Roman Polanski) who is in Milan with her fashion model sister Celine (Brody’s real life fiancée Elsa Pataky) who suddenly vanished the night before. Seems Celine took the wrong taxi, driven by Yellow, and is now held captive in a creepy basement with what is left of Yellows last victim Keiko (Valentina Izumi). There the bitter Yellow engages in his hobby of torturing and disfiguring beautiful women before brutally killing them in various fashions, like pounding a hammer through their foreheads. Celine is a little more resistant than his last victims and eventually causes him a bit of trouble.
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Linda seeks the help of the police and is sent to Avolfi’s isolated office in the police head quarter’s basement area. Of course Avolfi is rude and wants to be left alone but soon he drags her into the case and even starts showing her graphic crime scene photos and asking her for her opinions of them. Maybe not the choicest thing to do a woman whose kid sister is being held by the same killer that sort of thing happens a lot in mystery films. Of course a connection forms between Linda and Avolfi and at one point she invites him to spend the night at her place but in true lone wolf fashion he passes on the offer and sulks off into the night to brood over the case more. The violence in the film is pretty graphic,  as it is in most all of Argento’s work,  and there is a strange scene of Yellow choking his jaundiced chicken while looking at pictures on his laptop of his past victims. He is sucking on a baby pacifier at the same time and you can’t help but wonder what the hell Argento is really like as a gray haired man in his twilight years. There are of course inferences to past giallo flicks and while this film has it flaws I can’t help but hope it inspires a trend in this type of movie making for a while. The film score by Marco Werba is suitable and is an improvement in the type of scores that usually accompany Argento’s films, though I do like Goblin.
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I am not saying that this is a great film and many of the criticisms are applicable. But if you go into with the idea that there will be some cheesy moments, perhaps intentionally cheesy for all I know, and that the leads are hamming it up here and there then I don’t think you will be all that disappointed. My wife watched it along with new The Taking of Pelham 123 and said she preferred Giallo of the two movies. I was happily surprised. I will probably give it another watch or two in the future and I feel Argento did well enough here. Definitely an improvement on things like The Phantom of the Opera and Do You Like Hitchcock.
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GIALLO TRAILER