Bad Ben (2016)

Bad Ben (2016)Tom Riley has just bought a house at a price that is way below market value. With intentions of “flipping” it (a term for buying a house and selling it later for a profit) he goes through the house while filming the entire process with his iPhone. After residing in the house for a short while, however, he notices strange happenings, and decides to set up a bunch of surveillance cameras both inside and outside. At first he’s convinced that people are breaking into the house…but soon, he realizes that he might be dealing with something paranormal.

 

“Bad Ben” is an odd little horror film. With “found footage” horror movies being all over the place these days, it feels like everyone with a camera and some video-editing software can make their own addition to the genre. While the majority of these movies have a very limited cast and budget, they still manage to (sometimes) turn out as quite decent films. And it kind of feels like Nigel Bach once joined in a discussion about this topic, simply said “Hold my beer”, and went and made a found-footage movie in his own home with himself being the only person involved. Yes, you read that right. This is a 1-man movie. Filmed with an iPhone and the rest consisting of security camera “footage”, with a budget of only $300.

 

Now, an idea like this sounds like the perfect recipe for a disaster of a movie, which could only be appreciated by close friends and family. But to our surprise, we found that it’s actually quite decently made for what it is. And since nearly every single found footage horror movie includes a cast with teens/young people, it was actually a bit refreshing to see a grumpy, middle-aged man who is more pissed off at the goings-on than afraid of it. The movie does have a tone of humor in it, and it manages to keep you captivated throughout the protagonist’s exploration and experiences. It is also kinda fascinating and somewhat inspiring that the entire movie was made as a one-man-show, and part of the entertainment value comes from keeping this in mind.

 

“Bad Ben” is not a horror movie that will be appreciated by everyone, but for those of us that watch horror movies on a regular basis and has trudged through a ton of various indie horror, it’s easy to see why Nigel Bach’s “Bad Ben” found a fan base. “Bad Ben” has turned into a series of a total of 7 movies (so far).

 

We watched this movie on streaming at Amazon’s “Prime Video” (one of the few streaming sites that has a nice selection of horror movies for us Norwegians…as compared to for example Netflix, where the “selection” for non-US customers is so limited that it sucks sweaty donkey balls).

 

Bad Ben

 

Director: Nigel Bach
Country & year: USA , 2016
Actors: Nigel Bach
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6269810/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Polaroid (2019)

Polaroid (2019)Bird Fitcher is a teenage girl who loves old things, and is working a part-time job at an antique store. When a co-worker brings in an old Polaroid camera, she’s really excited, and starts using it, snapping pictures of her friends. She soon realizes that something is not quite right with the camera, as the photos show a shadowy figure looming over the persons on the photo…and very soon it becomes apparent that the photos taken with the Polaroid camera has a very deadly effect.

 

This is based on Lars Klevberg’s horror short from 2015, by the same name (you can watch it here: Polaroid Horror Short). And while this movie has been released just recently, it’s not really new…it was originally set to be released in 2017, but due to the Weinstein Company bankruptcy it was almost like the entire movie had been flushed down the drain as a result. However, in 2018, Lantern Company (which had acquired a lot of the Weinstein Company’s assets) and an international distribution company called “13 Films” decided to have the movie released in 2019. In the meantime, however, Lars Klevberg more or less “debuted” with his “Child’s Play” remake, which received a fair amount of positive reception as well as doing quite well at the box office. So…a happy ending after all, it seems.

 

Now, while I personally think that Lars Klevberg’s “Polaroid” short is well made and quite creepy, I’m afraid to say that I didn’t quite get the same feeling from this feature film. Now, horror shorts have the advantage of keeping things subtle, and not necessarily giving away the “why’s” and “how’s”. This is something that often gives them a more creepy vibe since the mystery is kept, the boogeyman isn’t revealed and is kept in the shadows. In feature films, however, viewers are more likely to be pissed off by things being too vague or questions not being answered…in movies, as opposed to shorts, we more or less expect answers to what is happening. And sadly, this is what can turn a creepy concept into something that ends up more or less like a typical “run-of-the-mill” horror movie. Unfortunately, “Polaroid” does end up in this category.

 

That being said, Lars Klevberg does manage to build up the tension and atmosphere in some of the scenes, and while lacking any real scares I’m going to judge it as what it’s clearly intended to be: a teenage horror flick, meant for a younger audience. Those of us that have already seen a fair share of horror movies will probably get a Déjà vu all to quickly (we’ve seen it before, done better…but also done a lot worse). When getting closer to the final act, the film also does offer up an interesting twist to the Polaroid’s reason for being cursed/haunted, which was a welcome surprise.

 

So: just consider this movie an easy-going teenage horror, and bring some popcorn, and you might find something to enjoy here.

 

Polaroid

 

Director: Lars Klevberg
Country & year: USA | Norway, 2019
Actors: Kathryn Prescott, Tyler Young, Samantha Logan, Keenan Tracey, Priscilla Quintana, Javier Botet, Mitch Pileggi, Davi Santos, Katie Stevens, Grace Zabriskie, Madelaine Petsch, Erika Prevost, Shauna MacDonald, Rhys Bevan-John, Emily Power
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5598292/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Golden Glove (2019)

The Golden Glove (2019)Hamburg, Germany in the early 70’s. It’s a regular day at the tiny, cramped pub Der Goldene Handschuh (The Golden Glove). A playlist with depressing German schlager songs are being played in the background as we get introduced to a group of outlived and wrinkled prostitutes, and hardcore alcoholics. One of them likes to suck on used tampons, by the way. Yuck. But the worst of them is probably Fritz Honka, a hideous, disgusting, crooked aberration of a man, who brings hookers to his filthy horror chamber of an attic apartment that has not been cleaned since the last century, and stinks worse than you probably can imagine.

 

Fritz is a deranged, greasy homicidal maniac who develops a bad habit of killing the women he brings home with him in the most brutal ways, in pure volcanic rage like an orangutan on speed, if they don’t meet his sexual standards. He then cuts the bodies in pieces with a saw while listening to German percussion music, wraps them in newspapers, and hides them in a crawl space attic that only he has access to through his apartment. Although Fritz is trying to hold back the corpse stench by hanging tree-shaped air fresheners (wunderbaums) around his attic apartment, the neighbor who lives underneath him is constantly complaining that it stinks. And it’s only a matter of time before there are so many decomposing body parts dumped in there that maggots starts to find their way between the cracks and says hello to the neighbors.

 

This film is based on the true story about serial killer Fritz Honka, who killed up to four prostitutes from 1970 to 1975 in the red light district of Hamburg. The one we see in the brutal opening scene was 42-year-old Gertraud Bräuer. A hairdresser and part-time prostitute who refused to have sex with him, and ended up as his first known victim. She was sawed into small pieces, and dumped in the bushes in the local area. The remains were found by the police, but Honka escaped. For this time. It would take four years before Honka killed again. The infamous bar, Der Goldene Handschuh, is still open with the new banner “Honka Stub”. I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a cheap statue of the guy inside as well. A stage play of Fritz Honka has also been performed in Hamburg. It’s also worth mentioning that writer and Director Faith Atkin grew up in the same area in Hamburg during the same time period Fritz Honka was finally captured by the police.

 

The most remarkable thing here is how raw and downright authentic everything looks. The technical aspects, all from set-design, sound, photography, editing, is top notch. The costumes are right on spot, and they really did an impressive job to reconstruct Fritz Honka’s horror attic. The 1970s-look is flawless, and the grim, thick atmosphere of pure despair and hopelessness  in The Golden Glove pub reeks all over the place, and feels like it was shot in a real pub with real hookers, alcoholics and whatnot. All the actors here are hundred percent dedicated, no matter how far the scenes go and what endless humiliations the actors have to put themselves through. It all seemed like a pure nightmare to shoot, especially for the poor ladies. If they all got away with their mind in check and no need for any therapy sessions after this grueling experience, then just be impressed and give them a big applause.

 

Films such as “Maniac” and “Henry: Portrait of a A Serial Killer” comes to mind, but our friend Fritz Honka takes it on a whole new level. It’s brutal, yet absurdly hilarious at the same time. I haven’t seen anything like it, really. It’s a pretty unique and distinctive look at a madman’s everyday life, living in a hellish, chaotic, stinky downward spiral of an environment where you almost expect the stench of piss, shit, sweat, booze and other extreme body odors dissipating from the screen to attack your nostrils at any moment. Thanks to Honka, that bastard, I can’t enjoy the smell of wunderbaums the same way again, that’s for sure. And speaking of the star himself, Jonas Dassler, he’s just absolut fantastisch as Fritz Honka.  An eleven of ten-star performance. Cheers for that, or as they say in Deutschland: Tost!

 

So, make yourself welcome to The Golden Rabbit Hole. Just be glad you’re only witnessing this from a screen, and is free to take a shower when you’re starting to feel too itchy.

 

The Golden Glove

 

Director: Fatih Akin
Original title: Der goldene Handschuh
Country & year: Germany | France, 2019
Actors: Jonas Dassler, Margarete Tiesel, Adam Bousdoukos, Marc Hosemann, Katja Studt, Martina Eitner-Acheampong, Philipp Baltus, Hark Bohm, Greta Sophie Schmidt, Tristan Göbel, Laurens Walter, Victoria Trauttmansdorff, Tom Hoßbach, Jessica Kosmalla, Heinz Strunk
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7670212/

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Wind (2018)

The Wind (2018)Lizzy Macklin and her husband Isaac lives isolated on a harsh and untamed land in the Western frontier in the late 1800s. Soon, a newlywed couple (Emma and Gideon) moves into a house close by. The isolation starts cracking Emma’s psyche, causing her to suffer from Prairie Madness (an affliction that causes a mental breakdown due to the isolation and harsh living conditions, something that would happen to European settlers who were not used to living like this). Emma is clearly not able to get used the the isolation, and starts raving about “demons of the prairie”. Emma’s madness soon starts affecting Lizzy as well, and she starts wondering if there really is an evil demonic presence out to destroy them.

 

“The Wind” is a western horror-thriller written by Teresa Sutherland, and director Emma Tabbi’s feature film debut. Western horror is still a somewhat rare thing to come by, where most horror movies in this genre belongs to the “lesser known” list (probably with the exception of “Bone Tomahawk” from 2015, which managed to get a fair amount of publicity). And this is despite the setting of the western period being pretty perfect for all kinds of horror-related ideas…but oh well.

 

Now, “The Wind” is a movie that focuses more on psychological horror and a fair amount of relationship-based drama, and for this reason it’s chugging along rather slowly. In other words, it’s very likely to not keep everyone’s attention, and the suspense it’s trying to build is somewhat subtle and does not always matches the pace. The movie has a strong and chilling start, but then starts jumping back and forth in time to show us a series of recent scenes and “flashback” scenes. A lot of the story is told through flashbacks, and sometimes it can actually be a little confusing to follow.

 

All that being said, “The Wind” is beautiful to watch with some great cinematography, and there’s definitely some atmosphere to appreciate. Still, there could have been a lot more actual horror to “The Wind”…but if you’re in for a slow horror mystery with a bit more drama than chills, you’ll likely find something to enjoy here.

 

The Wind

 

Director: Emma Tammi
Country & year: USA, 2018
Actors: Caitlin Gerard, Julia Goldani Telles, Ashley Zukerman, Miles Anderson, Dylan McTee, Martin C Patterson
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8426594/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bride of Frank (1996)

The Bride of Frank (1996)

Frank (Frank Meyer) is an old, toothless, depleted scarecrow of a human being, working in a warehouse close to the New Jersey harbor. The movie starts with our friend Frank telling us that this is a story of love and evil, before we witness him luring a girl into his trailer to knock her skull with a club. He puts her on the ground to taste her blood, before he drives over her head and eats a chunk of her scattered brain. This was only a dream sequence, by the way. Frank wakes up in his bed in an office in the warehouse, where he lives with his cat, and washes his skid-marked underwear with his toothbrush. Eww..

 

His coworkers, who mainly treats him like a dog, decides to be a little nice to old Frankie for a change by arranging his upcoming birthday party. A very bizarre event, to say the least, where a random guy comes in, dressed like a nerd with rabbit teeth and big glasses trying to ruin the party by throwing insulting comments at Frank. The coworkers wraps the guy into plastic, and gives Frank the great honor of cutting his head off with a knife. Afterwards, Frank takes a shit on the remains. Happy Birthday. He didn’t get what he wished for, though, which was tits. They make up for this the next day by taking him to a cheap strip club that makes him more obsessed with tits than ever, and he starts talking about nothing but tits. “Tits! I really want tits! Tits! Big tits!” He wants big tits as much as a junkie craves for heroine. Frank’s boss puts an ad in the newspaper, and Frank makes himself ready to date some…big tits.

 

There isn’t much progress to talk about in this rather shoddy underground film, and you get the impression that the movie was shot with complete improvisation by the actors, probably with a script that was scribbled on a toilet paper as they went along. We’re 47 minutes in before the funniest scenes starts, where we finally see Frank’s first date. Which of course goes from bad to worse, where Frank discards the ladies by killing them if they don’t meet his standards, while the poor cat is being a witness to it all. Frank Meyer is the high light here. He is an absurd nutcase of a character to look at, falling in and out of consciousness as he mutters his dialogues, assumingly with a whole cocktail of chemicals running through his fragile body. Or maybe just drunk as a sailor, who knows. Nevertheless, he’s pure comedy gold and the only reason to give “The Bride of Frank” a watch. Frank Meyer obviously didn’t win an Oscar for his performance, and this is the only film he’s appeared in. You can hear him sharing a commentary on the DVD with the director and some other dude, where he is, I suspect, the one who inhales from the bubbling crack pipe.

 

The Bride of Frank

 

Director: Steve Ballot
Country & year: USA, 1996
Actors: Morgan Tara, Frank Meyer, John Kolendriski, Victor Delvalle, Bruce Frankel, Jim Moresca, Rena Ballot, Arnell Dowret, Steve Ballot, Eric Kaplan, Eddie Regan, Sal Mogavero, Bernard Briley, Sergio Lopez, Charles Gambino
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0261587/

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bread and Circus (2003)

Bread and Circus (2003)Here we have the film that was heavily promoted as “Norway’s first splatter film ever”, which is not really true. But I can at least agree that this is the first Norwegian splatter film that got a wide DVD distribution, which was quite a unique thing in a small, tiny country like Norway. This is almost twenty years ago. Time flies.

 

The film starts with Mother Earth having sex, and a young man in his twenties (Martin Loke) then pops out from a vagina located at the earth’s grassy surface, while the sun shines on a hot, ordinary summer day. A monk-like creature comes along and cuts the umbilical cord as the new-born screams like a schizophrenic mental patient. He then suddenly wears a suit, and has a suitcase handcuffed to his arm as he gets thrown into the society. He follows a pathway and meets a random guy. While they have a beer, he tells our new-born a life lesson-story about how evil society is if you don’t kneel to the authority, and conform to the social norm in a perfect sheep mentality. All forms of outcasts and those who dear to think freely are seen as serious threat to the society, and they get hunted down and killed by the military under orders of The King himself. As the story goes on with a tirade of amateurish, messy, incoherent scenes, including a scene with a guy getting a bottle stuffed in his butthole, you start to wonder what the hell you’re really watching.

 

The acting is unbelievably, ridiculously, bafflingly bad, and is the funniest thing about the movie. And the dialogue was sloppily dubbed in post-production, which doesn’t synchronize at all. It’s reeks of amateur-hour all the way, and the “humour” is on the cringiest middle school level. Director and screenwriter Martin Loke is a huge fan of Peter Jackson’s “Bad Taste” which reflects in the effects and some of the camera work. But when Bad Taste had  its own style and energy to it, this comes across as the drunken poor man’s version. With a budget of 600,000 Norwegian kroner (approx. $ 68,3348), the film should at least look better. I suspect that most of the budget went to  municipal goods like military stuff and access to certain restricted locations. And almost like there wasn’t any budget for a half-decent soundtrack, the score is primarily filled with classical music from Beethoven, which just feels completely out of place and makes the movie even weirder. The “Actors” are mainly friends and family of Martin Loke, who mostly give the impression of standing in front of the camera as a big favor they would never do again. The political and social statements Martin Loke is trying to make us reflect on is for sure more relevant today than it was twenty years ago. But aside from that, this is nothing but a demented, bizarre and messy oddball of a movie which will guarantee some great laughs for sure. Some of them unintentionally, of course.

 

The most impressive thing about “Bread and Circus” is that Martin Loke showed it at the Cannes Film Festival of all places, and sold it to seven countries. How he actually managed to do that with a film like this, God knows. But, okay, I give him my respect for that.  The film was later given a 10-year anniversary edition from the Nordic Another World Entertainment with some extras. A U.S. release is also available at Amazon.com.

 

Bread and Circus

 

Director: Martin Loke
Original title: Brød & Sirkus
Country & year: Norway, 2003
Actors: Oliver Boullet, Miriam Johansson, Martin Loke, Magne Jahrestein, Silje Andresen, Benjamin Rørstad, Lars Torp, Lars Erik Ringstad Nordrum, Lise Løke, Hilde Løke, Fredrik Løke, Frank Løke, Eivind Pedersen, Andre Iversen, Vegar Bakke
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0377543/

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Russian Bride (2019)

The Russian Bride (2019)Nina is a Russian woman, who lives together with her young daughter Sasha. She has left her abusive and alcoholic husband, but he still causes trouble for her by coming to her home drunk and demanding to come inside and see his daughter. All Nina wants is a new and better life for herself and Sasha, and after joining a typical “Russian brides” website (dating website for people looking for a Russian woman) she gets in contact with a reclusive billionaire from USA. After traveling abroad to meet her new man, she marries him very soon thereafter. However, she soon finds out that the seemingly nice man has other motives…and Nina eventually realizes that she’s put both herself and her daughter in a dangerous position.

 

Those typical “Russian Brides” dating websites is nothing new, and have existed for quite a while. No matter how you may want to label the women using such websites – “gold diggers” or simply someone wanting a better life for themselves – this movie portrays a woman belonging to the latter category. We understand Nina’s desperate need to move away from her stalking and abusive ex, and a rich and gentle elderly man from another country seems like her perfect escape. What could possibly go wrong, right? Well…

 

The story builds up rather nicely, and you see early on that Nina’s new husband has ulterior motives. Since his spacious mansion is also located in a very isolated area, you can feel the overwhelming amount of helplessness that she’s going through, in an other country and no means of escape. Nina and her daughter Sasha are surrounded by snow and nothingness, and solely dependent on her new husband that shows more and more signs of not necessarily having their well-being in his best interest.

 

The suspense in “The Russian Bride” builds towards what we surely expect to be a great reveal and a bloody climax (at least, based on the DVD cover which isn’t exactly toning down on its promise of a certain amount of blood ‘n gore). And we get both, although I would have to admit I think they could’ve stretched it even a bit further as blood ‘n gore goes. There’s room for a lot more than what was given us, but still makes it earn its “Gore” badge.

 

“The Russian Bride” is an okay horror thriller, although it may be worth noting that despite the bloody cover, this kind of stuff is held back for the climax and is not meant to be part of the main focus of the film (so gorehounds may want to sniff around elsewhere). Now, the film does come off as a bit predictable (we know the guy is up to something, we just don’t know what), and it also feels a bit inconsistent with a few things, like a certain paranormal entity that doesn’t really provide much to the film except sugarcoating the end a bit and functioning as a deus ex machina. However, it’s entertaining enough and well worth a watch, despite some flaws.

 

Director: Michael S. Ojeda
Country & year: USA, 2019
Actors: Corbin Bernsen, Oksana Orlan, Oksana Orlan, Lisa Goodman, Michael Robert Brandon, Alison Korman, Yefim Somin, Gregory O’Gallagher, Keenan Johnston, John Paul Brandt, Clement Valentine, Kenneth G. Beaudin, Maryanne Nagel, Blake Brown, Guido Den Broeder
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6214468/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lake Mungo (2008)

Lake Mungo (2008)Alice Palmer is a sixteen year old girl, that drowns while swimming in the local dam. Her body is eventually recovered, and her grieving family then starts experiencing strange events. Thinking it’s got something to do with their recently deceased daughter, they seek the help of a psychic who starts digging into Alice’s past. He reveals that Alice used to have secrets, and that she was living a double life that her family wasn’t aware of. The family then tries to figure out a connection between her death and the experiences they’re going through.

 

While most horror movies featuring a ghost depicts them as either vengeful or harmful, “Lake Mungo” takes quite a different approach. Written and directed by Joel Anderson, this film is made in a faux documentary style (“mockumentary”). It shows how a grieving family tries to figure out if they are haunted by their deceased daughter/sister. Is her appearance on her brother’s photos a call from beyond the grave? Are the things they’re experiencing caused by Alice’s ghost, or is everything just a manifestation of their grief?

 

The documentary-style fits the movie rather well, giving it a much more realistic and eerie tone. There’s a few twists and turns throughout the story, making it a mystery filled with secrets, surprises and even lies, all eventually leading the family to a place called Lake Mungo (which is an actual dry lake in Australia) where Alice apparently was camping before she died. The pacing is a bit slow while it’s building towards more and more reveals, and there are some twists and turns that might seem unnecessary and even totally irrelevant to Alice’s demise. The slow pacing of the movie is likely to be perceived as tedious by some, but this is a film that does not rely on the effectiveness of only certain parts, but rather as a whole-package thing.

 

“Lake Mungo” is not a movie whose main goal is to make you jump in your seat, but instead wants to crawl under your skin. There are a few scenes here that actually got to me (and that’s something that happens very rarely!), and for me it was the whole idea of loss and grief mixed with the supernatural goings-on that got to me. It was for the most part a very melancholic and sad movie (if Mr. Ghööl had a “Sad” badge, it would fit well here). It isn’t a movie with huge scares and shocking moments, but it’s unsettling and different. “Lake Mungo” is an exploration into grief and loss and the thought of maybe being haunted by a loved one, and your ability to connect with such experiences will probably have a lot to say on how you perceive this film.

 

Lake Mungo

 

Director: Joel Anderson
Country & year: Australia, 2008
Actors: Rosie Traynor, David Pledger, Martin Sharpe, Talia Zucker, Tania Lentini, Cameron Strachan, Judith Roberts, Robin Cuming, Marcus Costello, Chloe Armstrong, Carole Patullo, John Dunn, Laurie Dunn, Kirsty McDonald, James Lawson
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0816556/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lords of Chaos (2018)

At first glance, you might think this is some kind of sequel to “Deathgasm”, but sorry, it’s not. But it easily could have been. We are in the 80’s, in the cold and conservative Nordic land of Norway where “La Det Swinge” by Bobbysocks is the most metal you can hear on the radio. We are introduced to the teenager Øystein “Euronymous” Aarseth who starts the small and obscure extreme metal band called Mayhem, together with Jørn “Necrobutcher” Stubberud, and eventually get their permanent drummer Jan Axel “Hellhammer” Blomberg.  They get a vocalist from Sweden who calls himself Dead, a severely depressed, twisted and suicidal skinny guy who mostly spends his time collecting dead animals, chasing cats with a shotgun and keeps fantasizing about death. Dead immediately shows up to take his stage name quite literally, by almost cutting himself to death while screaming Freezing Moon on stage wearing corpse-makeup and dirty clothes that have been a whole night underground to get the right smell of decay. However, it doesn’t take long before Dead takes his persona too literal by killing himself, blowing his brains to pieces with a shotgun. Upon finding him, Euronymous takes a picture of his body in which he used as the cover of one of their bootlegs. A disgraceful act that Necrobutcher didn’t want to be a part of, and then quits.

 

Now without a bass player and vocalist, Mayhem is in limbo. Euronymous starts his own record label Death Like Silence Productions and the record shop Helvete in Oslo, a hangout place in the black metal-circle where he more or less becomes an evil incarnate-cult leader, where everyone else are just posers. And in comes Varg Vikernes, a lonely, angry, insecure young man from Bergen with his one-man-band Burzum, who also speaks English. And yeah, we’re still in Norway where everyone speaks fluently English, but read Norwegian newspapers. Anyway, he’s really hungry and desperate for recognition, status and respect in the extreme metal circle. And he want’s it now! And to show how extreme and Dr. Prime Evil he is, he removes his Scorpions patch from his jacket, since that’s not “true metal” according to Euronymous, and sets fire to a church or two. Impressed by Varg’s actions and his commitment to practice what he preaches, Euronymous signs him on his record label. Varg also appears to play bass, and becomes a session-player on the recording of the De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas record. But it shows that the relatively tiny black metal circle isn’t big enough for the two of them. The more respect Varg gets after the church burnings, the more Euronymous fades into the shadows, which makes their relationship crack and escalates into a huge battle between two poisonous, fragile and fucked-up egos. And as Euronymous tells the audience in the short voice-over prologue at the beginning, it doesn’t end well.

 

Ignoring all the inaccuracy and how Euronymous is painted as a saint with angel wings and Varg as the most evil creature in the universe, Lords of Chaos was better than I expected. I didn’t know what to expect, really, but at least I got entertained during the two hours it lasted, and that’s good enough for me. The most known segments, that has already been covered in books and documentaries, is included here. Everything from the small-legendary concert where the corpse-paint and pig heads got introduced, the homicide on the gay man in the Olympic Park, church burnings, up to the brutal climax. There’s a lot of shit to cover, but I wish the film focused more on Mayhem as a band and their struggle to survive on their chaotic zero-budget tours around Europe on Interrail which ends in them getting handcuffed by the Police. I didn’t get the Home Alone vibes from Rory Culkin as I expected, and there is some level of energy and enthusiasm behind his big, crazy eyes. He appears more like a younger Fenriz from Darkthrone. Emory Cohen, however, does a rather sloppy and lazy performance in which I can’t tell if it’s just bad acting or if he is in a role he really didn’t want to play. I just don’t buy him as Varg for a single second he’s on screen. But awesome that at least they got Attilla’s son, Arion, playing a thirty-year younger version of his dad.

 

The film has a great look with great use of the Norwegian landscapes, and the set of the Helvete record shop was spot on. And of course the churches that were built to be burned down was a stunning and beautiful sight to watch. And if there’s not any plans of a biopic GG Allin in the dark horizon, this will be the bloodiest and most graphic in the genre, as far as I know.

 

And if you haven’t already, also watch the documentaries “Once Upon a Time in Norway” (2007), “Pure Fucking Mayhem” (2008), “Until the Light Takes Us (2008) and “Satan Rides the Media” (1998)

 

Lords of Chaos

 

Director: Jonas Åkerlund
Country & year: UK | Sweden | Norway, 2018
Actors: Rory Culkin, Emory Cohen, Jack Kilmer, Sky Ferreira, Valter Skarsgård, Anthony De La Torre, Jonathan Barnwell, Sam Coleman, Wilson Gonzalez, Lucian Charles Collier, Andrew Lavelle, James Edwyn, Gustaf Hammarsten, Jon Øigarden, Arion Csihar
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4669296/

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Koko-di Koko-da (2019)

A couple (Elin and Tobias) is on a vacation with their young daughter (Maja), when a serious case of food-poisoning causes the mother to become very ill. She is rushed to the hospital, and the whole family is spending the night in the hospital room, awaiting the mother’s recovery. When the next day arrives, which is also Maja’s birthday, they discover that she has died overnight due to a delayed response to the food poisoning. A few years later, the couple is going on a trip in order to find their way back to each other, but eventually find themselves trapped in a never-ending loop of terror when they are attacked by a trio of terrifying characters resembling the cartoons on their dead daughter’s music box.

 

“Koki-di Koko-da” by Johannes Nyholm is told like a nihilistic fable about loss and grief. The title is based on a French nursery rhyme, “Le coq est mort” (The rooster is dead, or “Vår tupp är dö” which is the Swedish version of the song). This song is sung by the only vocal character among the villains, and is also heard several other places throughout the movie. The atmosphere in the entire movie is somewhat tense already from the get-go, showing us that the death of their daughter has put such a strain on their relationship that they bicker at each other for every little trivial thing (like buying an ice cream with a different flavor). Setting up their tent in the woods at night, the couple is then attacked by the strange trio who also bring with them an aggressive dog. Elin goes out to take a pee, and sees a white cat (the cat having a different role in their story than the trio of weirdos, which is revealed later). When she is attacked, her husband Tobias just watches what unfolds from the tent, until it’s his turn to face their tormentors. And so it keeps repeating in a cycle of death and despair.

 

While we have had a couple of “Groundhog Day” type of horror movies recently (Happy Death Day, In The Tall Grass), this movie differs in how the time-loop never seem to make the characters any wiser or more prepared to face their fate. They get jumpier and more scared, but there is no “a-ha” moment in any of them, and Tobias is constantly cowering while his wife keeps getting brutalized and killed. The cartoony villains add to the bizarre and helpless atmosphere, giving it both a gloomy and weirdly funny tone. The animated sequences in the movie, consisting of shadow puppets which are moved along the screen with strings, are also a great element which ties together the rest. They show a “bunny family” representing the grieving parents and how they (ultimately) end up dealing with the loss of their daughter in ways that inevitably keeps them from progressing any further from their self-loathing and depression.

 

“Koki-di Koko-da” is an artistic horror movie which centers around grief and loss, and it’s definitely not aimed to be a crowd-pleaser. It’s not very straight-forward, and is not providing any clear goal for our protagonists (although there’s symbolism and metaphors all over the place). It’s like a twisted and dark fairytale that isn’t made with the intentions of tucking you off to bed with a good feeling.

 

Koko-di Koko-da

 

Director: Johannes Nyholm
Country & year: Sweden | Denmark, 2019
Actors: Peter Belli, Leif Edlund, Ylva Gallon, Katarina Jakobson, Morad Baloo Khatchadorian, Brandy Litmanen
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt9355200/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul