The Turning (2020)

The Turning (2020)Kate is applying for a job as the new governess for Flora Fairchild, a wealthy young heiress whose parents are both dead. Flora’s older brother, Miles, soon arrives home from boarding school, and it appears he’s got an attitude that Kate finds troublesome. In fact, Kate starts experiencing things around the house that makes her believe something is going on, and it cannot all be blamed on tricks put in by little children. What is going on inside the house – and what happened to the previous governess who just ran away?

 

It isn’t often that we see a movie purely based on a curiosity of how much of a stinker it really is. Upon its release, The Turning received almost unanimously bad reviews, with very low scores. It was obvious that a lot of people didn’t just dislike the movie, in fact, many seemed to be quite pissed off by it. So what is all the fuss about? Well…

 

First of all, let me start off by saying that the movie is another take on Henry James’ novella The Turn of the Screw, which has been put on the screen several times before. This movie is quite loosely based, however, which may be off-putting for people who are fans of the novella. Still, the movie isn’t that much of a stinker as we thought it would be, to be honest. It does have a fair amount of atmosphere and creepy settings, great visuals and good acting by the cast. While it’s not the least bit scary, and even a bit slow, it could have fared well as a simple gothic ghost story…but there is a major flaw: the ending. It’s both sad and a little baffling that they chose an ending which leaves the viewer both confused and frustrated. It’s a perfect example of how an ending can literally destroy a movie, and if it wasn’t for the overall okay experience prior to the movie’s final moments, it wouldn’t be so disappointing. I mean…we’ve seen a ton of horror movies that are just lacking throughout, so a bafflingly bad ending doesn’t make much of a difference. Here, however, it just feels unfair, and you get the impression that this ending was added more like a rushed afterthought and not being the planned ending at all. I have heard there is an alternative ending included on the physical releases, and I can imagine it’s better (then again, pretty much anything would be better).

 

Now, I cannot say I feel that watching The Turning was a total waste of time just because of its final moments. With its strong visuals and good cast we did find it somewhat entertaining throughout, despite it being a bit slow and sluggish. I’m guessing that viewing it with its alternative ending may make it an overall better experience. Of course, since we watched this movie with very low expectations and were already aware of its supposedly horrible ending, I’d say we came prepared. We find that its fair to give the movie the “Creepy” badge, but mostly due to the atmospheric scenery and visuals.

 

 

The Turning

 

Directors: Floria Sigismondi
Country & year: UK | Ireland | Canada | USA | India, 2020
Actors: Mackenzie Davis, Finn Wolfhard, Brooklynn Prince, Barbara Marten, Joely Richardson, Niall Greig Fulton, Denna Thomsen, Kim Adis, Darlene Garr
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7510346/

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Street Trash (1987)

Street TRash (1987)

We are in Brooklyn’s decaying slums, and the year is 1987. The state of the streets is described in a nutshell by the title itself. Not a place that you’d go barefoot. An old dusty box containing the mysterious drink “Tenafly Viper” is found in the basement of Ed’s little liquor store. A green liquid from way back in the 1920s, that Fred sells to the local hobos for a buck. The one who gets the first bottle, is Fred: a runaway who lives with his brother in a small homeless community by a car wrecking yard, run by former Nam Vet Bronson. He’s a raging nutcase who’s lost his mind completely due to PTSD and severe paranoia, and have constructed the place as his own kingdom and safe space. Here he lives in his own grandiose, delusional bubble where he is the king and everyone fears him. He also shares the throne with his “Queen” Winette, a schizophrenic vegetable who constantly screams and begs him to have sex with her. Sound like a cheery place, doesn’t it. So maybe this mysterious drink will make the hellish daily life a bit easier for the poor hobos? Well, they could only wish, as the drink turns out to be a corrosive, toxic acid that melts the one who drinks the first drops, in seconds. As homeless people start dropping dead in every corner due to the liquid, a brute cop named Bill is trying to get the bottom of the source. And good luck with that.

 

On the surface, Street Trash may look like a more polished Troma film that could easily share the same universe with The Toxic Avenger. But instead of a guy running around and serving justice in a mutant costume, we get a bunch of mentally unstable hobos doing stupid, random shit. Things like necrophilia, penis severance, shoplifting and gang raping… those are some of the daily doings we get to witness. There isn’t much of a plot to be found here. It’s basically just a series of skits, more or less, that are randomly stitched together. Street Trash is based on the short film of the same name, a fun concept that worked better in a short dosage than a very stretched-out feature film where it is far between the major highlights. The film’s biggest, or fattest highlight if you will, is the guy who explodes like a big balloon. A pretty juicy and messy scene you’ve probably already seen on YouTube. The effects here are pretty inventive and deliciously gooey, to say the least, and arguably the film’s main strengths. Even though most of the effects give some exaggerated, over-the-top cartoony vibes, I have to give Street Trash an extra credit for having of the most memorable decapitations scenes I’ve probably ever seen.

 

Street Trash

 

Director: James M. Muro
Country & year: USA, 1987
Actors: Mike Lackey, Bill Chepil, Vic Noto, Mark Sferrazza, Jane Arakawa, Nicole Potter, Pat Ryan, Clarenze Jarmon, Bernard Perlman, Miriam Zucker, M. D’Jango Krunch, James Lorinz, Morty Storm, Sam Blasco, Bruce Torbet
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0094057/

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Beyond (1981)

The Beyond (1981)

We’re in a hotel room in Louisiana, and the year is 1927. A thunderous evening is setting in as the artist Schweick (Antoine Saint-John) is brushing his last strokes on his latest grotesque painting, which is also to be his final. The painting is apparently representing Hell, and the locals believe that Schweick is an evil, ungodly warlock that uses the painting to open one of the Seven Gates of Hell. The hotel is said to be built upon one of the gates, and a group of men in full mob-mode storms the hotel and into Schweick’s room to stop him. They drag him down to the basement to cut him up with a chain before bolting him to the wall and torturing him to death. But what they didn’t know is that the sacrifice of the artist just opened the gate, and the dead from beyond are now free to enter the world of the living.

 

Then we jump forward to the year 1981, where Liza Merill (Catriona MacColl) has inherited the hotel and is in the process of a renovation, after the building has been empty and collecting dust and cobwebs for the last six decades . Shit already starts to happen when one of the workers see a female figure with big, scary, glossy eyes through one of the windows. In shock, he stumbles off the scaffold and almost crushes his skull. The alarm from room 36 suddenly starts to ring, even though the hotel has no costumers. This happens to be the same room where the artist we saw in the beginning was working on his painting. It goes from bad to worse when plumber Joe is brutally killed by demonic forces in the water damaged basement as he finds a secret room behind some worn stone walls. Liza bumps into a mysterious blind lady, Emily (Cinzia Monreale), who advises her to give up the hotel and go back where she came from, without being able to explain exactly why. And more questions than answers arise when Liza learns from Dr. John McCabe (David Warbeck) that he has never heard of this blind woman Emily, and that her house has been empty for decades.

 

The Beyond is the second film in Lucio Fulci’s Gates of Hell trilogy. And although the plot may be somewhat diffuse, The Beyond works on more levels than the previous and rather clunky City of the Living Dead. More steadier and focused direction and not least, the acting is significantly better. And The Beyond works perfectly for what it is: an atmospheric, nightmarish fever dream with some really intense and morbidly gory moments. Faces are being melted with acid and eaten by spiders. A girl with pigtails gets her head blown away, eyes being plucked out and so on. Juicy stuff by the great makeup artist Giannetto De Rossi, who’s also worked on Zombie Flesh-Eaters, and a mountain of other films. Also, great and fitting soundtrack by Fabio Frizzi, I must add.

 

The Beyond is also known for its highly visual ending sequence, which was actually planned to be filmed somewhere in an amusement park. But due to logistical restrictions, Fulci had to find an other way to end it and had to quickly improvise. And with reduced budget and resources comes more creative thinking. And I must say that the plan B-ending was a pretty simple, but genius move that sets a unique and satisfying climax.

 

For a completely uncut version, look for a DVD/Blu-ray from Grindhouse Releasing.

 

The Beyond

 

Director: Lucio Fulci
Original title: …E tu vivrai nel terrore! L’aldilà
Country & year: Italy, 1981
Actors: Catriona MacColl, David Warbeck, Cinzia Monreale, Antoine Saint-John, Veronica Lazar, Larry Ray, Giovanni De Nava, Al Cliver, Michele Mirabella, Giampaolo Saccarola, Maria Pia Marsala, Laura De Marchi
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0082307/

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I See You (2019)

I See You (2019)Young boys go missing in a small community, and Greg Harper is made lead detective on the case. Meanwhile, we meet the Harper family, who seem to be going through all kinds of trouble on their own. Soon, mysterious incidents start happening around the house, like silverware going missing, a repairman that was let inside the house when no one was at home, and other strange events. What exactly is happening inside the Harper house…and does it have any connection to the missing boys?

 

“I See You” is one of those movies we found out about purely by accident, but we’re really glad we did. Personally, I’m very fond of slow-burn mysteries that manages to pack in a nice slice of atmospheric dread, without becoming too slow or confusing (the latter sometimes being a problem when movies focus more on a “twist” than the actual story it’s trying to tell). “I See You” delivers everything in a satisfying form, with twists and turns that ties things nicely together rather than confuse you even further. A pleasant surprise!

 

The story is pretty much divided into two parts, where the first one is charged with mystery and a feeling of unease. During this part of the movie it may actually trick you into making certain assumptions regarding the goings-on at the Harper house, only to surprise you later on as the movie reveals piece by piece in a way you most certainly didn’t expect. Just take the opening sequence for example: a boy is riding his bike through the woods, and suddenly gets snatched off his bike and lifted into the air by an unseen force. How can one interpret a scene like that, before you know anything else? “I See You” is obviously trying to confuse you, while also maintaining to keep the mystery at a suspenseful level, and without making the development too hard to follow.

 

For a movie that relies heavily on having the story shrouded in mystery, I think it’s best not to reveal much of what is happening in the film. All in all, “I See You” is a pretty solid crime thriller with some slight horror elements. In that regard, you may be disappointed if you expect a straight-forward horror movie from this, but as a pure thriller it truly delivers. It’s a movie that deserves your patience, and requires that you view everything in hindsight. Some of the scenes you view early during the film is actually pretty cleverly executed when it’s being revealed exactly what they meant. A good and entertaining thriller with a capital T.

 

 

I See You

 

Directors: Adam Randall
Country & year: USA, 2019
Actors: Helen Hunt, Jon Tenney, Judah Lewis, Owen Teague, Libe Barer, Gregory Alan Williams, Allison Gabriel, Erika Alexander, Jennifer Grace, Adam Kern, Riley Caya, Sam Trammell,John Newberg,  Nicole Forester, Teri Clark
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6079516/

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Verotika (2019)

Verotika (2019)

Glenn Danzig is a creative guy, to say the least. Founder and frontman of the horror-themed punk band The Misfits, Samhain, and his life long band Danzig with eleven studio albums, 18 singles, and two solo albums. He’s also a huge fan of underground horror comics and started his own label in 1994, called “Verotik” (yes, without the A) with adult themed comics filled with blood, gore, nudity, Satan, porn and other insanities. Anything but mainstream, it seems. I’m not familiar with the comics, so I have no idea. And after pushing 60, Glenn Danzig finally managed to pursue his new career as a film director and screenwriter, and as we speak he’s already made not one, but two films. How ’bout that. The second film is in post-production with the colorful title “Death Rider in the House of Vampires“. A horror/western with Danny Trejo, Julian Sands and Eli Roth among the cast list. Sounds fun. His first directorial debut is called “Verotika” (this time with the A), an anthology of three segments based on the comics with inspiration from Mario Bava’s “Black Sabbath“, among others.

 

And it’s just pure amateur trash from start to finish.

 

We start off in an underground dungeon where a chained woman gets her eyes plucked out, Lucio Fulci-style, by the nails of the sexy horror hostess Mirella before she welcomes us darklings to … Verotika. A somewhat reduced Elvira with low energy is the best way to describe Mirella, played by the porn actress Kayden Kross, with acting skills like a nipple with zero motivation. Just like all the rest of the actors we get to meet during the film’s three segments of this anthology.

 

The first story is titled  “The Albino Spider of Dajaette“, but let’s just call it “The Tits Have Eyes“. It’s already awkwardly difficult to convey what’s going on, but here we go: A young lady with pink hair gives a guy a blowjob. The guy wants to take off her top and get to proceed right to the climax. But she won’t. At the same time we see a CGI spider crawling on a rose. And it turns out that her boobs have eyes for nipples. “Your chest! They are looking it mi,” he says startled with a bad and exaggerated French accent, before leaving in shock and disgust. This is obviously not the first time a date / customer has been intimidated by her staring boobies. Because, who wouldn’t. Then a tear falls from one of the crying tits, that hits the spider we saw earlier. The scene with the spider looks like something from the archive of an unused cut scene from a PS 1 game. The spider then becomes a humanoid creature, played by a guy in a ridiculous spider costume that supposedly required 8 hours to get him inside. “Only I truly love you” he says to Dajette, with lots of other crap we forgot right afterwards. The creature then kills people in the apartment complex. The highlight is when we see the crotch area on the spider costume ripped off as if the actor really had to take a piss, and no one bothered to fix it. Because it’s just like Ed Wood once said: “Filmmaking is not about the tiny details. It’s about the big picture“. This segment is also the “best” in the anthology, and the only one with a glimpse of a story with a real start, middle and an end. And to be honest, the only one that’s merely watchable.

 

The second story is called “Change of Face“, but could just as well be called Change of Flares. And this one just … sucks. And it’s just downhill from here on. We’re in a strip club. And flares are everywhere. Four in a whole shot at one point. I seriously thought that this was just a part of the technical incompetence, but no. This is an effect Glen Danzig chose to add for some reason. It doesn’t add anything but distraction. As for this entire segment, nothing much happens here. It’s like a random scene from a porn film just without the porn, with badly filmed stripping scenes that seems to go nowhere. At some point, when we have already lost interest, we are introduced to “The Mystery Girl”.  Another stripper who swings around the pole with a black silk robe and skeleton stickers on the chest, while Glen Danzig’s singing voice are heard from the clubs speakers. The Mystery Girl also likes to rip people’s faces off while the police have no clue and are dumber than a bucket full of sardines.

 

Next and last is “Draukija: Contessa of Blood“. Or just simply “Bathory“. Or “Nothing Happens In This Segment Either So Just Skip To The End Credits“. We are in the Middle Ages, filmed in the woods with a cheap green screen which should make us believe that it is a castle in the background, when most of the film was filmed in the Skid Row area of ​​Los Angeles. However, this  woman, Drauijha,  sacrifices some young virgins to bathe in their blood to gain eternal youth. There isn’t much to say, other than the countess rips out someone’s heart, a scene that should be at least memorable. But as ultra cheap, lazy and just lackluster the gore aspects are in this film, as with the rest of the production value, there isn’t much to be impressed by.

 

And that was Verotika, Glenn Danzig’s first glorious piece of cinema magic (sarcasm). I’ve also noticed that many compares Verotika to Tommy Wiseau’s The Room. And yeah, the trailer sure gives some Tommy Wisau-vibes. But when his name gets thrown all over the place to describe this movie, the hype gets blown to the heavens, which can give some really false expectations. And I think that’s where the feeling of underwhelming and disappointment lies for the highly anticipated viewers. Because as whole I would say with great confidence that Verotika isn’t even near the same level of entertainment value as The Room, a film worth rewatching countless times. Verotika, on the other hand, just leaves an aftertaste that feels more like a bad hangover.

 

Verotika

 

Director: Glenn Danzig
Country & year: USA, 2019
Actors: Ashley Wisdom, Rachel Alig, Alice Tate, Kayden Kross, Scotch Hopkins, Sean Kanan, Nika Balina, Jody Barton, Brennah Black, Kris Black, Kansas Bowling, James Cullen Bressack, Katarina Bucevac, Cody Renee Cameron
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt9425078/

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Killer Sofa (2019)

Killer Sofa (2019)Horror movies turning objects into murderous creatures is nothing new. We’ve gotten killer tomatoes, deadly beds, murderous cars, cursed costumes, a possessed laundry machine (here’s our review of “The Mangler“) and the list goes on. But a killer “sofa” (which is actually a recliner chair) now that’s something new to check off the list.

 

This movie is director Bernie Rao’s feature debut, but prior to this he’s made quite an impressive amount of shorts in various genres. In “Killer Sofa” (killer chair, really, but I digress) we follow the story of Francesca, an attractive young woman who seems to unwillingly make certain men fall head over heels for her, and they become obsessive and stalking. One of her admirers is found murdered (or, they find body parts of him which should make it obvious he’s been murdered), and soon thereafter, Francesca receives a new chair as a gift. She puts it in her living room, but soon her new furniture appears to be living a life of its own…

 

Now, the actual appearance of the “Killer Sofa” strays pretty far away from what the cover might lead you to believe. The recliner is given two round black buttons for eyes, giving it an appearance which is actually kind of cute…and it could have fitted well within some kind of TV show for kids. However, as this is a horror movie, the “cute” recliner is killing people, especially if they get too close to its new owner. One of Francesca’s friends, Maxi, has a grandfather who is a disgraced Jewish rabbi, and he becomes convinced that the recliner is possessed by a “Dybbuk” (a malicious possession spirit from Jewish mythology).

 

Now, I’m sure you think everything described so far makes this movie sound hilarious and quite ludicrous. While that is somewhat true, I think it’s fair to point out that the movie doesn’t spend its time trying to chunk out one gag after the other, and the humor is sometimes quite subtle as the movie appears to be taking itself a bit too seriously considered its overall wacky premise. There are some rather amusing scenes, but it isn’t really an over-the-top crazy movie, so if you expect something of that kind you might be disappointed. It’s not really one of those traditional “so bad it’s good” movies where you can expect to laugh your ass off, although there are some pretty funny scenes here and there – including a scene where the chair keeps blowing out Francesca’s matches, which is actually quite hilarious!  So, to sum it up, “Killer Sofa” is a weird low-budget indie horror, and must be seen under the correct expectations. It’s a good bunch of stupid fun, if you know what to expect from movies like this.

 

As a final note, here’s a little bit of trivia: the original title for “Killer Sofa” was actually “My Love, My Lazy Boy”. Which probably doesn’t make much sense to you unless you know that there’s a furniture manufacturer called “La-Z-Boy” (and if you type the term into Google Image Search, you’ll get a lot of pictures displaying recliner chairs of the similar looks as the one displayed in this movie). This makes the original title somewhat more “correct”, I guess…but it’s probably much more catchy with a title like “Killer Sofa”.

 

Killer Sofa

 

Directors: Bernie Rao
Country & year: New Zealand, 2019
Actors: Piimio Mei, Nathalie Morris, Jim Baltaxe, Jed Brophy, Stacey King, Angelica Thomas, James Cain, Jordan Rivers, Harley Neville, Sarah Munn, Sean Fleming, Trae Te Wiki, Hamish Boyle, Grant Kereama, Adrienne Kohler
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt10927122/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Haunt (2019)

Haunt (2019)It is Halloween, but Harper isn’t really in the mood for a scary celebration as she is already struggling with a real fright in her life: an abusive boyfriend who keeps sending her angry text messages. However, her friends are determined to have a fun night out and enjoy themselves, so she covers her black eye with make-up and they all head over to a costume party. They meet up with two other guys, and the six of them ends up looking for a haunted house attraction in order to make their Halloween night complete. Very much on random, they encounter the sign for such an attraction on a lonely country road, and decide to check it out. Upon entering this Haunted House attraction, they’re forced to leave their cellphones and have to sign liability waivers (which probably sounds like big red flags right there for our naive protagonists, but in real life there are such attractions that actually requires you to sign liability waivers before entering. Like for example McKamey Manor, which requires a 40-page waiver before you’re allowed inside). They do as they’re told, and is shown some rather mainstream horror effects upon entering…until they suddenly witness a scene where a “witch” is branding a girl with a red-hot poker (which they of course think is just an act). From there on things start going more and more wrong, and the attraction goes from fun to deadly in no time.

 

“Haunt” is a “haunted house attraction” horror movie, a little bit in the same vein as “Hell Fest“. With the writers of “A Quiet Place” as directors and Eli Roth as producer, it certainly did sound like something that could be both suspenseful and gory. And you see quite early in the movie that there is a lot to appreciate here: the cinematography is quite eye-candy, and there is a lot of claustrophobic atmosphere once our protagonists enters the Haunt. There are some rather interesting characters who are inhabiting the place: people in several costumes, wearing masks and behaving in creepy ways which makes you wonder who, or what, they really are…

 

Now, while “Haunt” manages to pack in a good amount of suspense, it feels like there is a little bit of lost potential here where the actual killing scenes felt very toned down…especially with one of the kings of gore (Eli Roth) being the producer and all. The killing scenes come and go rather rapidly, some of them even proceeding to the next scene so fast that you’re barely able to get a glimpse of what really happened. The movie doesn’t dilly-dally with its audience though, or try to be “smart”…instead, it delivers a straight forward slasher where teens are killed because they make dumb decisions and freaks are murderous because…well, because they’re freaks, I guess.

 

However, despite not being the most memorable movie in the genre, “Haunt” was a fun ride all in all!

 

Haunt

 

Directors: Scott Beck, Bryan Woods
Country & year: USA, 2019
Actors: Katie Stevens, Will Brittain, Lauryn Alisa McClain, Andrew Caldwell, Shazi Raja, Schuyler Helford, Phillip Johnson Richardson, Chaney Morrow, Justin Marxen, Terri Partyka, Justin Rose, Damian Maffei, Schuyler White, Samuel Hunt, Karra Rae Robinson
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6535880/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

City of the Living Dead (1980)

City of the Living Dead (1980)“City of the Living Dead” is the first part of the Lucio Fulci “Gates of Hell” trilogy, which followed up with “The Beyond” and “House By the Cemetery”. But apart from sharing the theme of the dead being brought to life, with some small doses of inspiration from H.P Lovecraft and with actress Catriona MacColl starring in all three, they work well as separate films.

 

The film starts at a cemetery in the small town of Dunwich where a priest hangs himself, and reappears as an evil deathstaring zombie. At the same time, Mary Woodhouse (Catriona MacColl) witnesses a New York apartment suicide during a vision under a seance, which scares her to death. Yes, literally to death. And why, you might ask? Well, because his act of sin causes all the dead in the cemetery of Dunwich to rise from the dead as zombies. And these are not the traditional carnivorous zombies…here, they have the ability to teleport themselves and use telekinesis to make people bleed tears and spew up their own inner organs. Miss Woodhouse’s death is seen as a mysterious case, which captures the curiosity of newspaper journalist Peter Bell (Christopher George). The day she is to be buried, he sneaks around the cemetery when she suddenly comes alive in the coffin and screams. Peter hacks up the coffin to save her, but unlike the ordinary dead who resurrects as zombies, Mary wakes up like from a normal night’s sleep and is straight back into her old self again. Well, good for her. After they learn that the gates of hell must be closed and this evil priest must be stopped, they take a roadtrip to Dunwich. And this must happen before All Saint’s Day. If not, the dead will take over the world.

 

Meanwhile, the evil priest has already started terrorizing Dunwich, while rubbing mud filled with worms in peoples faces as he teleports around the city. While strange and macabre things continue to happen in the city, a group of men sit in the local pub, suspecting Bob, the city’s outcast who has a taste for inflatable sex dolls, to be behind all of this. And this side plot with Bob (Giovanni Lombardo Radice) is completely useless which is nothing but filler scenes that could easily have been cut out. Even though “City of the Living Dead” doesn’t work all that well with its serious pacing issues, the film has some great ghoulish atmosphere with a fitting soundtrack by Fabio Frizzi, who’s scored several of Fulci’s films. There’s also several memorable gory scenes to enjoy, and some of the actors were dedicated enough to get isolated in a room to be attacked by ten kilos of maggots via two wind machines. Trivia: one of the crew members decided to pull a prank on Mr. Fulci by stuffing some of the maggots in his pipe tobacco. Everyone but Fulci found it funny and he blamed the incident on the heart surgery he had years later with health problems that escalated to ventricular aneurysm, contracted viral hepatitis and liver cirrhosis. No more maggots on set, I guess. And of course don’t forget the drinking game: take a shot every time there’s a close-up of the actors eyes, and you’ll surely die of alcohol poisoning before the first twenty minutes. In advance, rest in peace.

 

City of the Living Dead

 

Director: Lucio Fulci
Original title: Paura nella città dei morti viventi
Country & year: Italy, 1980
Actors: Christopher George, Catriona MacColl, Carlo De Mejo, Antonella Interlenghi, Giovanni Lombardo Radice, Daniela Doria, Fabrizio Jovine, Luca Venantini, Michele Soavi, Venantino Venantini, Enzo D’Ausilio, Adelaide Aste, Luciano Rossi, Robert Sampson, Janet Agren
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0081318/

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mørke Sjeler (2010)

Mørke Sjeler (2008)During a morning jog through the woods, the teenager Johanna is attacked by a guy in an orange dress, who is wearing goggles and a mask. After a quick chase with some running and stumbling, he drills a hole in her head, and then places some black goo in her brain. Despite having been pronounced dead, the murder victim suddenly wakes up in the morgue and goes back home to her father: the music teacher Morten Ravn. But Johanna is not at all the same girl, but has been reduced to a disoriented, apathetic lifeless shell with a blank stare. In the meantime, more and more victims are being reported, all of whom come to life again with the same symptoms. Since the police are just a bunch of incompetent fools, Morten decides to investigate the mystery himself, uncovering an apocalyptic conspiracy that revolves around a large oil company.

 

“Mørke Sjeler” (Dark Souls) was the passion project of two French guys, César Ducasse and Mathieu Peteul, with the intention of creating a Norwegian satirical zombie-comedy. And the result was a stumbling, amateurish, hopeless little trainwreck that looks more like a cheap student film. The acting is goofy, bad and just absurd. Karl Sundby (rest in peace), who was a profiled, seasoned and professional actor in little Norway, is surprisingly giving us the most memorable scene in this movie as a homeless hobo.

 

The directors promoted this as a comedy, as mentioned. And yes, it’s a comedy for sure, and has some entertainment value, but not in the intentional way in the slightest. The weird tone is all over the place, which makes it impossible to separate the “satire” elements from the seriousness. Sloppy camera work, with lazy, uninspired killing scenes that happens mostly off-screen, which makes it look like there was not enough budget to hire a single competent makeup artist on set. In other words: this doesn’t impress much. The zombie growls sound like pigs squealing. I’m sorry, but that’s just pathetic. It took three years to shoot this film, but it feels far more like something done in a short week, all in one, quick take, Ed Wood-style.

 

“Mørke Sjeler” is distributed in the US by Lions Gate, and in Germany under the titles “Dark Souls” and “Zombie Driller Killer”. It also found its way to France and Japan.

 

Mørke Sjeler

 

Director: César Ducasse, Mathieu Peteul
Country & year: Norway | France, 2010
Actors: Johanna Gustavsson, Kristian Holter, Ida Elise Broch, Morten Rudå, Kyrre Haugen Sydness, Lise Froyland, David Hernandez, Christopher Angus Campbell, Bård Eirk Nilsson, Trine Dürbeck, Eirik Halvorsen, Kristine Braaten, Marianne Rødje, Jan Hårstad, Henrik Scheele
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1617145/

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Invisible Man (2020)

The Invisible Man (2020)Cecilia manages to escape a controlling and abusive relationship, but struggles to overcome the negative impact the experience has had on her life. Still paranoid and afraid her ex will come after her, she suddenly receives the news that he has committed suicide…and that she has been written into his will. With a substantial amount of money to be gradually paid out to her, and knowing her abusive ex is gone from this world, she hopes to re-build her life. However, after experiencing certain horrifying events, she starts to believe that his death was a hoax and that he’s acquired the ability to become invisible, only to terrorize her even further.

 

“The Invisible Man”, directed by Leigh Whannell (director of “Insidious: Chapter 3”, and writer of the previous “Insidious” movies as well as the first three “Saw” movies) has revived one of the classic Universal monsters, but in a completely different setting than from the original which was based on the novel by H. G. Wells. Whereas the original “Invisible Man” wasn’t a bad guy from the get-go, he is here a narcissistic sociopath who is abusive and controlling towards his partner. Thus, the horror the movie portrays feels real, and the first sequence of the movie where Cecilia has drugged him in order to escape the fortress-like home he’s captured her in, is actually one of the most intense movie openings I’ve seen as of late.

 

While the movie starts quite intense, the feeling of foreboding is quite evident already in the next scenes, where we witness Cecilia trying to get a hold of her own life (barely daring to venture outside of the house she’s staying in). And upon the news of her ex’s so-called suicide, with a substantial amount of money to be paid to her over time (provided she does not commit any crime or is deemed mentally unstable, as per the will – and yeah, you know why this clause was added) she starts to relax a little bit and looks brightly upon her own future for once. Of course, that shifts rather quickly, and when she experiences things that only she is witnessing, she tries to convince those close to her that her ex is still alive, and has made himself invisible. Of course, no one believes her, and she keeps being abused…but since no one except herself is experiencing the abuse, she can’t make anyone believe her. Yes – the analogy here is clear as day.

 

From there on, the movie takes you on a suspenseful ride, and Elisabeth Moss (who is playing the role of Cecilia) is doing an excellent job on portraying all levels of the torments she’s going through, whether it is being scared out of her mind, desperately trying to fight back, or emotionally crushed by not being believed and the lack of an actual escape from her invisible tormentor. And while we don’t see that much of Adrian aka “The Invisible Man”, played by Oliver Jackson-Cohen, he actually did manage to show off a few tell-tale signs of the type of character he’s portraying.

 

“The Invisible Man” is a movie that might be a bit difficult to watch for people who have experienced abusive relationships, as it’s nailing narcissistic abuse in a way I haven’t seen any other film dare to exploit. It’s all there: making everyone believe their victim is the crazy one, making the victim doubting their own sanity, and especially gaslighting (a tactic used to make victims doubt themselves and their perception of events, by questioning the victim’s memory, accusing them of making things up, denying things that they did towards the victim, and mocking them for “misunderstanding” everything).

 

Since it does stray pretty far from the original “Invisible Man”, some people may be put off due to this. I can imagine that putting these two movies apart from each other without doing comparisons, would be beneficial to the viewing experience.

 

The Invisible Man

 

Director: Leigh Whannell
Country & year: Australia | USA | Canada | UK, 2020
Actors: Elisabeth Moss, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Harriet Dyer, Aldis Hodge, Storm Reid, Michael Dorman, Benedict Hardie, Renee Lim, Brian Meegan, Nick Kici, Vivienne Greer, Nicholas Hope, Cleave Williams, Cardwell Lynch, Sam Smith
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1051906/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul