Zombi Holocaust (1980)

We’re at a hospital in New York at night, where someone is stealing body-parts from the cadavers. One of the doctors is able to catch the body-snatcher as he is about to eat one of the cadaver’s heart, but then quickly commits suicide by jumping out of a window. Well, case closed, then? Well, no, he doesn’t die right away, and says his last word “Kitoh ordered it”, and we soon learn that he was a part of a cannibalistic cult from an obscure island in Asia, also named Kitoh.

 

A trip to this island gets arranged with Lori, a journalist, and some other dude in order to meet a doctor named Dr. Obrero, while they get to the source of the cannibal cult. As soon as they enter the island, one of the bearers goes missing, and after a quick search for him the next morning they find him mutilated, and soon surrounded by a horde of cannibals and a doctor with some really shady practices. And yes, there’s also some zombies wandering around.

 

As you already know by reading the title, Cannibal Holocaust comes to mind. I assume that Zombi Holocaust was an attempt to do some sort of a crossover with the wave of Italian cannibal films that came and went in the late 70’s and early 80’s with the rise of zombie films after Lucio Fulci’s success with Zombi 2. Most of the film is pretty tedious and sloppy with dry dialogues, boring characters, cheesy undressing-scenes with porn music, plot holes and nothing much that keeps the pacing or interest up.

 

The title is also a head-scratcher since the zombies are far in the backseat and appears in only a scene or two. The film was released under several titles and most known as Doctor Butcher M.D. in the states, which is probably more fitting, I guess. However, the most entertaining moments are when the cannibals show up and provides some really grotesque death scenes. The last act is the best part where we finally get some interesting scenes with Dr. Obrero/Butcher, and a pointless ritual-scene with some blurry nudity. So yeah, Zombi Holocaust isn’t much as a whole, unless you’re only in for the goryness.

 

Zombi Holocaust

 

Director: Marino Girolami
Country & year: Italy, 1980
Actors: Ian McCulloch, Alexandra Delli Colli, Sherry Buchanan, Peter O’Neal, Donald O’Brien, Dakar, Walter Patriarca
IMDb: //www.imdb.com/title/tt0079788/

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966)

In the summer of 1966 in El Paso, Texas, something really magical happened: Manos: The Hands of Fate was made. A movie so hilariously, mind-boggling bad that hardly any words from this universe would make it justice. But I’ll try. Harold P. Warren was a middle-aged man who worked as a fertilizer salesman for a living, but had a certain passion for film and was also a member of the local theatre. But while the passion was there, the talent was not. Yeah, we’re talking about an Ed Wood here. Anyway, one day he had a coffee with a screenwriter where he claimed that it wasn’t so hard to make a horror film, and made a bet with the screenwriter that he could make en entire film on his own. After the bet was official, Mr. Warren had no time to waste and scribbled the outline for his horror film on a napkin, a film in which he would write, direct, produce and be the star in. He then gathered some amateur actors, a budget of $19,000 and a 16 millimeter camera from the stone-age that could take only 32 seconds of footage at a time. And forget about any sound, all dialogues were horribly dubbed, assumingly in his henhouse or something, by three persons in post-production.

 

A family of three, the husband Mike, wife Margaret, their daughter Debbie her little dog (which of course is soon to be killed) is on a road-trip on a desert place where they seem to be lost. As they continue to drive through the deserted countryside, in a driving-segment that seems to last forever while the soundtrack is consisting of elevator music, they arrives to a place which is guarded by Torgo. He’s half-human and half-satyr, with big knees and dressed as a homeless man from a western movie. And one can see right away that this man has some serious issues as he’s twitching, barely able to walk, completely zoned-out and disorientated with a hopeless expression on his face that screams: Kill me now, please! Well, he wasn’t acting, more on that sad story later.

 

Manos: The Hands of Fate

 

While they have some kind of a staring contest, Torgo finally delivers one of the greatest lines in the history of cinema: “I am TORGO! I take CARE of the place, while the MASTER is away! And he then says “But the CHILD, I’m not sure the MASTER would approve, or the dog. The master doesn’t like children. He also has his own theme. Anyway, they ask him for some directions, but Torgo says that there isn’t any way out of here, and it will be dark soon. Torgo lets them stay for the night, even though he gives a warning with “The MASTER would be very DISTURBED! As they settles in they see a painting of the master, who looks more like a Mexican drug lord. The wife finds the painting very unsettling and says with the most monotone-dubbed voice: “He looks so sinister… oh, Mike, I’m scared…he has the meanest look…” And most of all, as Torgo said, he doesn’t like children. But we soon learn that he loves beautiful women and The Master wants her. But since The Master already has a dozen of wives in his harem, Torgo wants her for himself. Alright, time to get the fuck away. Too late.

 

Here’s a drinking game: take a shot for every technical flaw and fuck-up that pops on screen, and you’ll be dead of alcohol poisoning just after the ten first minutes or less. Where to even begin… the fact that the film was shot with a rotten potato of a camera that was able to just film 32 seconds at a time, is just the top of it. There’s so much eye-rolling and what-the-fuck-moments here that it is hard to keep track. The editing and pacing is completely off the rails, the acting is completely absurd with lines that hardly could be written by a sober person. It’s so incompetent in every single aspect, from the first frame to the last, in such a unique way you’ve probably never seen before. Actors look awkwardly right into the camera with obviously zero instructions from the director as the camera just rolls. There’s a cat-fight scene between the Master’s frustrated wives which is so bad that words are just too hard to find, as pretty much the rest of Manos: The Hands of Fate – or “Hands: The Hands of Fate” which is the accurate translation since Manos is the Spanish word for hands.

 

Manos: The Hands of Fate

 

Manos: The Hands of Fate became a big deal in El Paso when the film had its premiere at the local theatre, where even the city major was among the audience. The actors came with limousine and all dressed up as it was a big Hollywood-film event, but little did they know as the cast and crew hadn’t seen a single clip from the film, and didn’t know what a disastrous, humiliating shitshow that awaited them. The only one who saw some of the raw footage, was Jackie Neyman Jones, who plays the family’s daughter, who could tell that this didn’t look like real filmmaking after seeing some Hollywood movies. Harold then said “Don’t worry, we’ll fix it in the lab“. And she then thought to herself: wow, movies really ARE magic. The premiere can maybe be described as a “The Room scenario” where the audience begun to laugh and scream at the movie in such way that the cast and crew snuck shamefully out of the theatre and was never seen again. John Reyonolds, who played Torgo, blew his brains out after struggling with drug problems, which is on full display in the film. Nothing would stop Hal Warren, however, and shortly afterwards he wrote a script for his second film, with the title Wild Desert Bikers, but no producer would touch it. So, Manos became his first and final film.

 

After some screenings at some drive-ins, the film quickly disappeared into obscurity, and it wasn’t until the film was picked up by the Mystery Science Theatre 3000 some years later, that it was brought back to life. It has since gathered a solid fanbase and cult-following, and has grown into one of the greatest so bad, it’s good movies. An obscure prequel titled Manos: The Rise of Torgo was made in 2018 and the sequel Manos Returns where Tom Neyuman, The Master himself, would reprise his role. Unfortunately he died during the filming at the age of 80. And as a goldmine of trivia Manos: The Hands of Fate is, also check out the short documentary Hotel Torgo.

 

Director: Harold P. Warren
Country & year: USA, 1966
Actors: Tom Neyman, John Reynolds, Diane Adelson, Harold P. Warren, Stephanie Nielson, Sherry Proctor, Robin Redd, Jackey Neyman Jones, Bernie Rosenblum, Joyce Molleur, William Bryan Jennings
IMDb: //www.imdb.com/title/tt0060666/

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Come Play (2020)

Oliver is a young non-verbal autistic boy who communicates through tablets and smartphones. His parents are struggling with their relationship, he is bullied at school, and he is lonely and longing for a friend. As Oliver is spending most of his time trying to comfort himself with Spongebob episodes and using the Snapchat filter for fun and giggles in his own room, a strange story suddenly appears on the screen. It’s the story about Larry, or “The Misunderstood Monster”. This mysterious creature is trying to use Oliver’s devices in order to break into his world, but will his parents be able to save him before it’s too late?

 

Come Play is a movie that’s based on a short horror film titled Larry by Jacob Chase. Chase is both the director and writer of this movie as well. It’s his first feature film, and as a debut it’s a solid performance where he proves that he knows how to utilize certain tricks in order to kick up the atmosphere a few notches. While a considerable part of the movie is centered around the family drama, it manages to make it credible without taking away the focus from the monster. If you have seen other boogeyman-movies like for example the Australian The Babadook, you might easily agree with the necessity to delve into family tension before bringing out the monster tension.

 

Now, as for the monster itself…it is creepy mostly when you don’t fully see it (which is often the case with monsters in movies). The illustrations in Larry’s “story” are very atmospheric, however, where you see him in various poses without ever showing his face to the viewer. The style of the illustrated story helps bringing in a lot of tension in regards to the monster and our expectations of what he actually looks like.

 

While the original horror short does come off as a bit more creepy since there is practically nothing revealed about Larry at all, Come Play is a decent feature film version based on a simple idea that was given a bit more flesh. While it’s not really a movie that will scare your socks off or anything, and is probably mostly aimed at a younger audience, I hope Chase is planning to make more horror films in the future. Also, I like the movie’s obvious allegory: how technology, which is supposed to bring people more together, often make them more lonely than ever…and how it’s easy to become prey to whoever wants to manipulate you from the other side of the screen.

 

Come Play

 

Director: Jacob Chase
Country & year: USA, 2020
Actors: Azhy Robertson, Gillian Jacobs, John Gallagher Jr., Winslow Fegley, Jayden Marine, Gavin MacIver-Wright, Rachel Wilson, Alana-Ashley Marques
IMDb: //www.imdb.com/title/tt8004664/

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inside (2007)

Inside, or À l’intérieur as it is called in the original language, is one of the most tasty delicacies of a slasher that has come after the turn of the millennium, directed by the duo Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury. Inside was one of the first in the so-called New French Extremity-wave with, among others such as, Alexandre Aja’s  Haute Tension a few years back, and Xavier Gens´ Frontier (s ), which came the same year as this one. Already the following year, Pascal Laugier pushed the strings even further with Martyrs. So yeah, the 2000’s  was an exciting time for French horror films that flourished new, young, hungry talents while the stiff bureaucrats at the censorship board probably was on a permanent vacation.

 

The film begins with an ugly front-to-front car accident with the pregnant Sarah and her husband. The husband dies while Sarah survives. Four months later, exactly on Christmas Eve, Sarah is depressed and just wants to be all alone in her big house with her nine month-pregnant belly. But the peace and silence turns 180 degrees when Sarah unexpectedly gets a visitor at the door: an intimidating and tall black-dressed woman who just wants to borrow the phone – who by coincidence knows Sarah’s name and that her husband is dead. Sarah calls the police when the woman starts to get threatening, but it does not stop her so easily and her mission is crystal clear: she wants to murder Sarah and anyone who comes in her way, with unclear motives.

 

So, we’re clearly talking about a home invasion-film here with a small budget and limited use of location.  It’s however a highly steady technical and gruesome film with some pretty insane killing scenes and is basically a love-letter to gorehounds, more or less. The acting is also a major plus, which gives some really strong and convincing performances. I especially have to point out Beatrice Dalle, which  is pretty relentless and goes all up to eleven in a rollercoaster-ride of  psychotic rage attacks I haven’t seen in a female killer probably outside of Asian movies.

 

The atmosphere is slicey-thick and some of the scenes are downright creepy, especially the first shot where we see the killer inside the house while Sarah is sleeping on the couch. It’s got a slow and subtle build-up which plays with your emotions and expectations. But when all hell breaks loose, it’s non-stop carnage, mayhem and pure slaughter house to the last second where we get the pleasure to witness some first class prosthetic effects and brutal kills, some of which are so realistic and so well done that it’s painful to watch in some places. The only minus here is the CGI images of Sarah’s baby in her womb that didn’t look convincing back in 2007, and surely doesn’t look any better now. But besides of that, Inside is a solid film and even after 10-plus years after its release, it’s still the nastiest slasher  I’ve ever witnessed, and I still wouldn’t recommend this to anyone who’s pregnant.

 

For a complete uncut version of the film, look for the DVD release from Dimension Extreme. And don’t let yourself get scared away from the awful trailer, by the way..

 

Inside

 

Directors: Alexandre Bustillo, Julien Maury
Orignial title: À l’intérieur
Country & year: France, 2007
Actors: Alysson Paradis, Jean-Baptiste Tabourin, Claude Lulé, Dominique Frot, Nathalie Roussel, François-Régis Marchasson, Béatrice Dalle, Hyam Zaytoun, Tahar Rahim, Emmanuel Guez, Ludovic Berthillot, Emmanuel Lanzi, Nicolas Duvauchelle
IMDb: //www.imdb.com/title/tt0856288/

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wer (2013)

The Porter family is camping in the woods somewhere in France, where they are brutally attacked by someone (or something), leaving the wife as the only survivor. She is severely wounded, and claims that her husband and young son were eaten alive by a strong man. Soon afterwards a Romanian man named Talek Gwynek who lives in the woods with his mother, is arrested and accused of being the killer. Kate Moore is assigned to be his lawyer, and together with investigator Eric Sarin and animal expert Gavin Flemyng, they believe that the accused man is innocent as the attack bears a clear resemblance of a vicious animal attack, which could not be done by a human. At least, not a normal human…

 

As far as werewolf movies go, Wer is a totally different breed than for example Ginger Snaps. While many werewolf movies goes more into pure action and sometimes even dives into complete fantasy-territory, Wer tries to take a more realistic approach to it. Starting off as partly found footage as we witness the Porter family getting attacked, with some other scenes of news reports and later a typical shaky-cam filming throughout, makes it feel like a found footage film despite that it’s not. It’s a little bit distracting at times, but not enough to ruin the experience overall. It’s a bit different, but also refreshing, and a different take on the popular creature of folklore.

 

It takes a while for it to build up to any real werewolf-action, but it manages to portray a sense of mystery. The movie also does not spoon-feed us with the werewolf-myths (like how they can infect others by biting or scratching). There’s a fair amount of the movie that focus on the lawyer-bits and Talek’s condition, where it is proven he has an illness called Porphyria. But when it moves over to the third act all hell breaks lose, and the full moon of the night appears to bring out more than just one monster into the light.

 

Wer makes a dark and grisly entry into the werewolf horror genre, where some of the special effects are pretty neat (aside from a few shoddy CGI effects), and the gorey scenes are satisfactory and effective.

 

Wer

 

Director: William Brent Bell
Country & year: South Africa | USA, 2013
Actors: A.J. Cook, Brian Scott O’Connor, Sebastian Roché, Simon Quarterman, Vik Sahay, Stephanie Lemelin, Brian Johnson, Oaklee Pendergast, Camelia Maxim, Alexandru Nedelcu, Daniel Popa, Alin Olteanu, Ioan Brancu, Adrian Ciobanu, Corneliu Ulici
IMDb: //www.imdb.com/title/tt2229511/

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Evil (1978)

The caretaker Sam is about to check on a big, empty, victorian house that was built during the civil war, and is now filled with dust and cobwebs. It’s broad daylight and he’s still scared shitless to go inside. He starts right away to hear noises that leads him down to the basement (of course) where he suddenly bursts into flames and never gets heard from again. Then we get introduced to the couple C.J and Carol, two doctors who buys the house and plans to open it as a rehabilitation center. The house is in need of fixing and the doctors gathers a team to do the renovation work. And nothing goes wrong from here on. Just kidding.

 

Since the house is filled with ghosts, Carol soon discovers her ability as a clairvoyant, and starts to see ghosts just minutes after they enter the house, which only she can see. Her husband, C.J, doesn’t believe her, of course. Statue heads starts to move by themselves, fireplaces suddenly lit up, and they find the body of Sam, hidden in a dumbwaiter, crisp as a fried chicken. And as C.J opens a mysterious trap door in the basement, which unleashes diabolical forces, the house locks itself down and traps everyone in it.

 

The Evil is a film that you can call an “obscure little gem”, co-produced by Roger Corman. The setting in the old mansion is pretty cool, which gives a great place for a cat-and-mouse scenario where our characters are being terrorized by an evil unseen  force. People are being electrocuted by flying wires, one of the ladies gets brutally assaulted, Invisible Man-style, while we hear a cheesy, evil laugh in the background. Even though the directing is real solid and stylish with a raw, thick 70’s atmosphere, I couldn’t call it scary, but it has a lot of unpredictable entertainment value, and has a complete oddball ending that took me off guard.

 

The Evil

 

Director: Gus Trikonis
Country & year: USA, 1978
Actors: Richard Crenna, Joanna Pettet, Andrew Prine, Andrew Prine, George O’Hanlon Jr., Lynne Moody, Mary Louise Weller, Robert Viharo, Victor Buono, Milton Selzer, Ed Bakey, Galen Thompson, Emory Souza
IMDb: //www.imdb.com/title/tt0077524/

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Atticus Institute (2015)

We are in the 1970’s, and Dr. Henry West has created an institute in order to research people with supposed supernatural abilities. When a woman named Judith Winstead arrives at the facility, Dr. West gets to experience a series of amazing abilities for the first time. In fact, Judith’s supernatural powers even gains the attention from the U.S. military, who assumes control over the lab under orders of national security in hopes of utilizing Judith’s powers as a weapon. But something is not quite right with Judith…and it becomes clear that her supernatural powers are stemming from something else than herself…

 

The Atticus Institute is made in a “mockumentary” style (faux documentary), meaning that it’s somewhat similar to the found footage genre but without any shaky cams. It does stand out with its rather unique concept though, and I have at least never seen a movie where the military is mixed up in a supposed demonic possession, hoping to use it as a weapon (although you could easily imagine that this is something they’d probably be interested in doing if such things actually existed). Still, it’s not a movie for you if you’re in for some fast-paced action, because there’s a lot of talking heads here. However, with several “interviews” mixed with the “footage”, the movie gets a somewhat authentic feel to it. This “authenticity” is quickly punched back to the ground by having a bunch of well-known actors, though, as several of them have had roles in major movies and TV-Series (like Dexter and Lost). But that’s just nitpicking, as we do of course know it’s all fake. Still, it’s actually doing a pretty good job of feeling like an actual documentary.

 

The Atticus Institute is a nice entry into the mockumentary horror genre, which derives a bit from the typical found-footage bunch (meaning no shaky cameras or running around screaming while filming the ground). Its slow burn may turn some people off, however, and the ending feels a bit underwhelming and rushed. There’s nothing groundbreaking here, and there’s more than a fair share of horror-cliches we’ve seen a ton of times before, but the combination of mockumentary and demonic possession helps it feel fresh enough.

 

The Atticus Institute

 

Director: Chris Sparling
Country & year: USA, 2015
Actors: Rya Kihlstedt, William Mapother, Sharon Maughan, Harry Groener, John Rubinstein, Julian Acosta, Lou Beatty Jr., Anne Betancourt
IMDb: //www.imdb.com/title/tt5119116/

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pyewacket (2017)

Leah is a teenage girl who becomes increasingly frustrated with her newly widowed mother, who decides to relocate them both to an isolated house in the woods somewhere. Leah now finds herself more or less trapped in a house with an erratic mother, far away from her friends and the life she used to know. The frustrated teen gets her hands on a black magic book, and out in the woods nearby she ends up crossing a line she can never retrace back from.

 

Pyewacket is a supernatural horror/mystery thriller, directed by Adam MacDonald (who also directed the third season of the horror series Slasher). The “Pyewacket” was actually one of the supposed familiar spirits of a witch from back in 1644, where Matthew Hopkins (witchfinder general) accused her of witchcraft and had her arrested. It has later been referenced in novels and other media, including William Friedkin’s The Guardian (where the nanny brings a toy she calls “Pyewacket”).

 

Now, a plot concerning a frustrated teen wanting to kill her own mom with black magic, sounds a little bit cheesy perhaps. But this movie plays out the story in a very serious tone, and it works. Both the daughter and mother are portrayed in both a positive and negative light – they’re both grieving, but in different ways and separate from each other, but it’s obvious that they’re not really in tune with the other’s feelings and needs, and thus they’re both coming off as quite self-centered. While Leah finds comfort by hanging around with friends and dabbling in the occult, the mother wants to rid herself of everything that reminds her of her dead husband, thus forcing through the relocation to the house in the woods. This is where Leah eventually loses all her patience, and only wants to get rid of her own mother by using a black magic ritual.

 

Much of the excitement comes from not knowing exactly what is happening. Is there really a murderous supernatural entity, or is Leah imagining everything? One could probably define this movie as a little bit of a slow-burn, but instead of fizzling out in nonsense or nothingness, it delivers a final act that keeps your attention throughout. Much of the build-up is to ensure that the viewer understands the tension between mother and daughter, and to give Leah’s actions a bit more credence through proper character-building. Once Leah has performed the occult rituals, however, she quickly regrets everything…but of course, what’s done cannot be undone. Which is often the case when people commit actions in a fit of rage without thinking anything properly through, which is not an uncommon thing to find in broken family dynamics.

 

Overall, Pyewacket is an entertaining horror thriller that keeps your attention and manages to pack in a few chills.

 

Pyewacket

 

Director: Adam MacDonald
Country & year: Canada, 2017
Actors: Laurie Holden, Nicole Muñoz, Chloe Rose, Eric Osborne, Romeo Carere, Bianca Melchior, James McGowan, Victoria Sanchez, Neil Whitely, Missy Peregrym
IMDb: //www.imdb.com/title/tt5119116/

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nekromantik (1987)

Rob and Betty are two deranged necrophiliacs who share a small flat in Berlin. Rob works for a street-cleaning agency where he cleans up dead bodies from road accidents, and takes some of those bodies home so he and his girlfriend can have a nasty threesome now and then. After one of their sex rituals, they have a fight, break up, and Betty leaves Rob alone with their cat – which he smashes in a rage and then takes a bath while he rubs the cat’s intestines over his body. He loses his mind completely, as if he already haven’t, and goes out at night chasing hookers to kill (and rape their dead bodies). And to fill out the running time, we get some bizarre and tedious artsy-fartsy avant-garde montages that doesn’t add much more than an urge to push the fast-forward button.

 

The trivia page on IMDb can tell us that the director, Jörg Buttgereit, never intended to be a director and Nekromantik was just a film to rebel against the German film rating system, trying to shock as many people as possible. And I’m not doubting that for one bit, since there isn’t much film-making to witness here, really. The technical aspects speaks for itself when the director has to start the commentary track by explaining that someone is pissing on a dead pigeon in the opening scene, which you can’t see due to the poor image quality. And when the director says it’s terrible, then that’s all you need to know. Most of the film takes place in a cramped, filthy apartment, shot with a Super 8 camera showing close-ups of the couple sitting and daydreaming, bathing and fucking a corpse when it gets too boring. We also get a complete random, pointless stock-footage scene where a rabbit gets skinned and slaughtered on a farm to add some cheap shock value. However, I can at least point out a certain, hysterical scene that includes a big, erected rubber dick that doesn’t look real for a second, which is the films most memorable moment, for all the wrong reasons. Even though Nekromantik is too sloppy and amateurish to be taken seriously, it quickly found its way to controversy and made its purpose by being banned in numerous countries, and has a dedicated cult-following.

 

To point out some qualities, the musical score by Hermann Kopp is pretty remarkable, the poster is pretty cool, and the cadaver dolls look decent enough, which took four weeks to make, and I assume that’s where the budget was spent. They also used slimy pig’s eyes to put in the corpse’s head, since they couldn’t afford to make fake eyes, which one of the actors got the honor to suck on during one of the nekro-love scenes. He could tell us that it tasted like turpentine. Yummy. John Waters is of course a big fan of Nekromantik in which he calls it “Ground-breakingly gruesome” and proclaimed it as “the first ever erotic film for necrophiliacs”. So, at the very first glance at the title and cover you should quickly know if this is your thing or not. And if you don’t get enough, there’s also a sequel, Nekromantik 2 (1991) to enjoy. And just to put the cherry on the top if you want to feel extra dirty and maybe a little nauseous, also check out the short film Aftermath (1994) by Nacho Cerdà.

 

Nekromantik

 

Director: Jörg Buttgereit
Country & year: Germany, 1987
Actors: Bernd Daktari Lorenz, Beatrice Manowski, Harald Lundt, Collosseo, Henri Boeck, Clemens Schwender, Jörg Buttgereit
IMDb: //www.imdb.com/title/tt0093608/

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Relic (2020)

Kay needs to visit her old family home after receiving the message that her elderly mother Edna has gone missing. Bringing her daughter Sam with her, they both try to find clues which could help them figure out Edna’s whereabouts. Once inside the old country home, they soon find evidence all over the place regarding Edna’s increasing dementia. Post-it notes are found everywhere, with reminders of everyday things. After three days, Edna suddenly appears inside the house like nothing has ever happened, causing both tremendous relief for Kay and Sam, but also increased worry. The old lady’s behavior starts becoming more and more incomprehensible, and it feels like an ominous presence has taken control over her.

 

This year there have been so many horror movies postponed that was supposed to come to the theaters. So it goes without saying that, while starting the year off with great movies like The Lighthouse, Golden Glove and The Invisible Man, we Horror Ghouls haven’t had many chances to get our horror fix at the big screen for the remainder of the year. Thus, it was a nice surprise to see that our local cinema here in Norway had put up screenings for this Aussie horror flick.

 

Relic is Natalie Erika James’s debut feature film, and is a psychological horror movie with dementia/Alzheimer’s as the core of its terrifying happenings. The director used her own experiences as inspiration for the movie, as her grandmother suffered from Alzheimer’s for years. Upon visiting her in a traditional Japanese house (which she perceived as rather creepy) and for the first time experiencing that her grandmother no longer recognized her, it filled her with feelings of grief, guilt and fear. Which is quite understandable. Alzheimer’s is a terrible condition both to be in, and witness loved ones succumbing to. It doesn’t just make you forget things, it sooner or later makes you forget how to remember…and there is no way back from that. It’s a disease that causes both pain, confusion and fear, to the extent where there are even cases among religious people where family members perceive it as so terribly frightening, that instead of calling the doctor they prepare for an exorcism. Which is just…incredibly sad, if you think about it. And Relic does an excellent job on portraying the feelings of hopelessness and creeping dread.

 

Already from the start of the movie, where you witness an eerie scene with an overflowing bathtub with water running down to the steps below, only to meet Edna naked with only a towel covering the front of her body while looking anxiously inside the dark living room, we know this movie is going to play heavily on atmosphere. And in that regard, I think the choice of surroundings are perfect, with Edna’s typical country home which has gotten a bit run down, and the glimpses we see of an old shack which used to be there in the past. It is a bit of a slow-burner and it doesn’t rush in telling you its tale, but it keeps your interest up by feeding you eerie details, chilling atmosphere and compelling visuals.

 

For those unfortunate enough to have personal experience with the dreadful disease, the movie’s metaphors will be quite clear, and some of them are pretty cleverly made. Having knowledge of and/or a certain investment in the disease will, in all likelihood, heighten your experience with this film. If you view the film by taking everything that happens literally, without understanding the rather discernible metaphors, you will miss out on the true horror laying beneath the layers.

 

Relic

 

Director: Natalie Erika James
Country & year: Australia | USA, 2020
Actors: Emily Mortimer, Robyn Nevin, Bella Heathcote, Steve Rodgers, Chris Bunton, Robin Northover, Catherine Glavicic, Christina O’Neill, John Browning, Jeremy Stanford
IMDb: //www.imdb.com/title/tt9072352/

 

Vanja Ghoul