Archive for the 'Suspense' Category

Sep

Comments Off on Sonno Profondo (aka Deep Sleep)

Sonno Profondo
“You wish you’d never woken up.”

2013 – Not Rated – 67 Minutes – Brink Vision
Starring Luciano Onetti, Daiana Garcia, Silvia Duhalde – Directed by Luciano Onetti

There seems to be a small resurgence of the giallo films lately, which in my book is a good thing. In between the dozens of found footage and superhero movies, it’s always nice to see something a little different. This is where Sonno Profondo comes in. When I heard about this flick and saw the trailer, I was pretty excited. I needed to get my hands on this movie and let me tell you… it was quite the experience. It wasn’t what I expected or at the time may not have seemed to be what I wanted and I mean that in the best way possible. I won’t go too much into detail in this review, because any little detail could ruin the fun or surprise the film has to offer, so let me see if I can tell you enough to get you interested.

sp_2The sights and sounds are quite an experience right from the start. An almost rustic, hyper piano/jazz mix gets you on your toes, which is fitting for all the oversaturated colors, as we see from a killer’s point of view (and of course he is wearing black leather gloves), obsessing over some photos of a woman that he is readying to kill and we are shortly introduced to through a rather erotic masturbation scene. It wouldn’t be a giallo without some erotic sex appeal. At least she’s going out with a bang as she is brutally murdered. Shortly after her butchering, the killer receives an anonymous phone call… seems someone knows what he did and the person on the other line is threatening to kill them! A killer that is going to kill the killer… you don’t see that too often and it does offer a good cat and mouse chase later at a hospital once the killer in the black leather gloves receives some photos of his crime and a key to a locker at said hospital. What secrets does this locker hold or is it merely a decoy? We soon find out once another gloved killer, this time with vinyl medical gloves, appears and attempts to murder the… murderer.

After barely escaping, the black gloved killer mixes a mean cocktail of blood, whiskey and morphine pills as an attempt to commit suicide? Maybe? I dunno. Shortly, flashbacks play out, revealing the connections between the victim, the killer and the other killer and the childhood drama that plagues them. You’ll keep guessing to that rocking soundtrack until their is resolution.

sp_3Very, very rarely does the flick switch outside of one of the killer’s POV, nor are the killers seen without gloves on. I would say this is a parody, but it’s not played that way and it works in favor of the narrative. At first I thought it was silly, even laughed to myself that we never switched out of their POV or saw them without gloves, but as the movie went on, I couldn’t imagine it working without doing that. I can’t stress enough how important all the visuals are in the movie, between the lighting, the oversaturated colors and so on.

Normally, I’m not one for all the fake dirt and scratches film look that seems to present on every low budget film since Grindhouse came out in 2007, but it not only works here, it also feels like it’s absolutely necessary to the look of the film and the look is very important to a giallo. Everything here is presented in oversaturated, bright and vibrant colors, intentionally giving the film a larger, louder than life quality, almost a comic book like quality, as greens, yellows and reds pop right off the screen. Every element in the movie, colors, lighting, the score (by the way, one of the best soundtracks I’ve heard in a film), everything is important and absolutely crucial to the overall picture. If one of these things were done wrong, I don’t think the film would have worked. I feel like I am going in circles here, but Sonno Profondo is a true treat to see and hear. Everything mixes together so perfectly.

sp_4Of course, in true giallo form, there is some weird imagery and creepy dolls hanging about (that for some reason are full of blood). Come to think of it, the whole look of the film is very 70’s, from the furniture, the types of telephones they use, house decours, wallpaper and cars they drive. I’m no expert, but I would go out on a limb to say that this is about as authentic as it can get, which is impressive considering this is a low budget, indie film. Or maybe Italy still looks like the 1970’s.

However, this is the kind of film your average movie goer isn’t going to enjoy. I would normally say a short runtime that barely runs over an hour could hurt a film, but Sonno Profondo tells its story in this time and doesn’t overstay its welcome. There isn’t much in the way of a narrative and I could see how some would find that the majority of the film is from POV (like the recent remake of Maniac), it may turn off some. It’s not loaded with nudity or gore, but this film wasn’t made for them. Hell, it may not have even been made for giallo fans, but you can say for sure it was made for director Luciano Onetti himself and I think that’s what a filmmaker should set out to do: Make the film YOU would want to see.

Sonno Profondo isn’t a spoof or an homage to the giallo genre… it is a giallo film. Well, you could consider it an homage, but I would go one step further. It’s not just the look or the tone that make it a giallo film, it’s the story (or maybe a lack of) and how the whole thing is shrouded in a mystery that will leave you guessing literally until the last minute and when everything is tied up at the end and revealed and doing so without hardly any dialogue, there is a great feeling, genuine joy, from solving the mystery and excitement to see everything come full circle.

Sonno Profondo
Perhaps I’m leaving out a lot of plot or not saying enough, but believe me when I say that Sonno Profondo is something that you must see to experience. It will all make sense and you may enjoy this little throwback to the great Italian murder mysteries.

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • Mom always said masturbation will kill ya.
  • Whose eyes are we looking through?
  • To kill a killer.
  • Morphine cocktail.
  • Raising kids can be hard.
totals

4

blood

BLOOD

Slashes, gashes and stabs spurting some thick, bright red blood.

4

blood

BREASTS

No nudity, but the film throws in some erotic sex appeal.

8

beast

BEASTS

Everyone in this film is a killer or a victim.

5.3 OVERALL
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Sep

Comments Off on Lucky Bastard

Lucky Bastard
“This will not end well.”

2014 – NC 17 – 94 Minutes – Revolver Entertainment
Starring Betsy Rue, Don McManus, Jay Paulson – Directed by Robert Nathan

Porn. That’s really all you need to say and you have anyone’s attention. I always found it strange that it’s the one thing we all watch, yet are ashamed to admit that we do… not that I watch it. People always seem to talk about how great it would be to work in porn and have sex all day, but let me tell you… you ever eat nothing but ice cream all day, then about halfway through the day, you think to yourself, “Man, I’ve eaten nothing but ice cream today. I’m kinda sick of it.” I imagine that’s what that line of work is like. At some point, getting it from behind must be tiring and you just want to go home and play some Super Nintendo. I guess that’s true with any job though.

But what if things get really out of hand? You know that point where things become too much to handle and the perks and pay don’t seem worth it anymore? And that’s putting it lightly. That’s kinda what Lucky Bastard is about. Things start off normal, get weird, you try to laugh it off, but then it comes back to bite you in the butt. Lucky Bastard explores the worst case scenario possible for adult film stars seeking out to do a service for one lucky fan. It does so through the ever increasing tiresome found footage genre, but to its credit its unique in the sense that nobody has done a found footage porn-esque horror film before, which is surprising, because most pornos play out like really really bad found footage movies.

lb_2Meet Ashley Saint played by Betsy Rue, who you may remember got fully nude for the remake of My Bloody Valentine. I remember it so much so, I have an autographed picture of that on my wall. Through the eyes of a camera (like the whole film, so I don’t know why I wrote that), two men who have lured a young woman, Casey, and are raping her, but stop their assault to welcome Ashley into their home to sign some papers (hey, even porn has to be legit) when she hears the cries of Casey in the back. Ashley snaps into action and stomps menacingly through the house, fending the captors off with verbal suggestion. Upon finding Casey and untying her, one of the men springs up and holds Ashley down and begins to rape her when she jokingly says… and I quote, “That’s my butthole!” Laughter erupts and the director, Mike, of this faux-rape movie steps out and introduces our star as everyone gets all chummy.

So, rape porn is a thing people enjoy?

To the movie’s credibility, you also get to see what it is like behind the scenes of a porno. Like driving a family sized SUV with Cheetos on the floor. Yeah, people tend to forget that even adult film stars have families… or feelings.

Anyway, Mike is actually quite understanding and seems to care about his actors, opposite of how you usually see porn producers portrayed in film. Mike also runs a website of the same name, Lucky Bastard. The title is makes sense, as fans submit videos of why they should get to be the lucky bastard to have sex with one of the adult film industry’s hottest ladies on film. The winner happens to be awkward and dweeby Dave, but something doesn’t seem quite right with him. He seems like a can short of a six pack, like he’s not playing with a full deck, like he’s lost his marbles.

lb_3What I’m trying to say is that Dave is crazy.

Right away, he begins giving Ashley the heebie jeebies as she tries to have a conversation with him, until he reveals too much detail about her personal life and she threatens to leave the production. Dave apologizes and the gig is back on, relocating to a home that has been fit with a dozen security cameras since it was once used in a reality TV show. Quite a convenient plot device; a house with multiple angles. Anyhow, it doesn’t take long for Dave to humiliate himself again and everyone in the cast and crew has a good laugh at him and his temper tantrum that follows. Well even if they didn’t get to shoot the horizontal mambo, they have some good bloopers to show. After all, part of intent of the site is to humiliate these “lucky” bastards. Demanding the tapes, Mike kicks him out and has one of his assistants drive him back into town… only they don’t make it. Dave smashes his head in with a rock and heads back to house with a bat, then gaining a firearm, and now everyone is going not going to be so lucky.

lb_4This one is a bit of a slow burn, taking it’s time to set up in the first act, getting down to business in the second and Dave finally kicks it into full sociopath mode in the last act. At times, the film feels like it’s dragging its feet, but quickly recovers from fumbling by some well done character development. Betsy Rue is quite good in this role, showing that she can be a fantastic lead. You really get the feeling that her character is burnt out from the adult film industry, but it pays well and she has a family to take care of. She mentions an abusive spouse in her past and she had to take control and you see as she relives those emotions through the movie. Don McManus who plays Mike also shows all the different layers he has, as at first you think he’s a good guy, then you see what a manipulative s.o.b. he is, so when he gets his comeuppance… and does he get it (I don’t want to ruin it for you, but it does involve something being inserted into his anus)… you still feel sorry for the torture the guy goes through. Even though I have to say, at times it’s hard to tell if he’s being manipulative or genuinely concerned for Ashley’s feelings. Well played, sir. Dave, on the other hand, I didn’t feel for. He was just weird and creepy throughout the film and not very menacing, even when he is going crazy. I don’t fault the actor, I just felt he was a weak character. I feel like a gust of wind could have knocked this guy the hell over and took his lunch money.

Being somewhat of a horror film, it manages to pull off some tension, but what it inevitably builds up to is a moment you know is going to happen, given away by the opening segment, which I’m beginning to notice is popular with these found footage movies. There isn’t much in the way of blood either, aside from some arterial spray, so if you’re looking look for a blood and guts spectacle, you are looking in the wrong place. However, if you are here for the T and A, then you have come to the right place. And that’s not just restricted to the ladies! In case you didn’t notice, this is an NC-17 film, so why it may not be real sex, it certainly pulls more thrusts (pun intended) and will fill your speaking with that familiar wet packing sound you’ve come to love.

Lucky Bastard
It’s understandably earned its rating and overall, Lucky Bastard is an enjoyable littler thriller. Although doing nothing new with the found footage genre, it doesn’t repeat all those tired jump scares and plot devices they love so much, not that you would be watching this to see if it reinvents the genre or something. So while the film may do a good job keeping your interest “peaked” when it’s being sexy, you may find that underperforms when it comes to the horror aspect. You see what I did there? Little sexual innuendos? I bet I’m the first person to make those kind of references when reviewing this film.

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • Betsy Rue. Naked. That’s all you need.
  • Sex, Cheetos & Videotape.
  • Softball champ.
  • Sticking it where the sun don’t shine.
  • Premature humiliation.
totals

4

blood

BLOOD

Everything happens off screen or too quick, but the film doesn’t focus on gore.

9

blood

BREASTS

All actors and actresses are required to be naked when in the presence of this movie.

4

beast

BEASTS

Dave is the kind of guy who gets picked on by kids when he walks by schools.

5.6 OVERALL
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Aug

Comments Off on The Quiet Ones

The Queit Ones
2014 – PG 13 – 98 Minutes – Lionsgate
Starring Jared Harris, Sam Claflin, Olivia Cook – Directed by John Pogue

Much like the monsters they made films about, Hammer never truly died, although it did lay dormant for a long time. In 2008, they returned with Beyond on the Rave and hit it big with Let Me In in 2010 and The Woman in Black in 2012. This year, they released The Quiet Ones, a film inspired by true events. In a nutshell, the events in this film are based on The Philip Experiment in the 1970’s where a group of Canadian parapsychologists wanted to attempt an experiment to create a ghost, proving their theory that the human mind can produce spirits through expectation, imagination and visualization. Sounds interesting enough for a movie, but given that this is a Hammer production, loads of gothic atmosphere and sleaziness are thrown into the mix, making for a more fictional story than true. Lots of films do this, I’m not saying it’s bad thing, but does it mix well?

tqo_2When he isn’t chain smoking like it’s about to be outlawed, Dr. Coupland (Jared Harris channeling his character from Mr. Deeds) wants to prove that the supernatural doesn’t exist through tortuous and almost medieval experiments, so he recruits the shy, inspiring young filmmaker Brian to document this rather fascinating experiment. Brian is interested right away and along with two of Dr. Coupland’s other students, Krissi (Erin Richards) and Harry, they waste no time to begin their experiment on Jane Harper (Olivia Cook). Jane seems possessed at times and as with any other possession movie that has come out in the last few years, we know she is possessed because she is a pale white woman with stringy hair and wears a white gown. Seriously, why does every possession movie feature a stringy haired white girl in a white gown? Do demons have an obsession toward those or does Hollywood just seem to think that is scary?

Jane is kept in a room with loud music blasting to keep her awake, which Dr, Coupland hopes will piss her off for better results. Sure it seems mean, but it does get good results. And just like any movie about college kids and a teacher conducting a “most unorthodox” experiment, funding is pulled and they have to relocate to a remote run down country house where all the really weird things begin to happen. Janes takes this possession, or negative energy rather, and focuses it on who she calls Evey, which she is given a doll to transfer it to so that it may be destroyed. Sounds easy on paper, but as Jane is driven more insane by these tests, the results become more violent.

tqo_3Brian, increasingly developing feelings for Evey, becomes more upset and less likely to participate (not something you want under your name in the yearbook) as he even begins to develop somewhat of a relationship with Jane. However, this seemingly makes Evey more violent and vomit terrible looking CG tube monster things out of her mouth. When this happens, Dr. Coupland and gang look terrified, but if it were me I would have started laughing. Even after witnessing that silly manifestation, Dr. Coupland is still stubborn about the supernatural, not believing it to be a possession… even after a mysterious cult marking shows up on Jane’s body. So Brian heads off into town uncovering the truth behind the cult symbol and who Evey really is.

We also begin to see who Dr. Coupland really is. Well, he is still Dr. Coupland, but I am referring to his past and who the boy is in the video that he shows throughout the movie. We also learn of his motives and this is when the film starts to turn into a Hammer film… kind of. Jane, most likely because she is being driven mad, attempts to have sex with Brian and even flashes him while she is in the bathtub. The camera quickly cuts away from this, as if it is ashamed of its own content. Jane even begins to cut herself, but once the blood starts to ooze out, the cameras once again cut away. This all begs the question, then why have this at all? Is there a demand for safe, watered down horror films that I’m not aware of? Who watches these scenes and says, “Oh cool, there were almost boobs there!”

As the film begins to whimper out and we now know Jane’s history, Dr. Coupland begins to become more of a villain archetype, almost downright cartoonish. Tragic things begin to befall our cast and it’s up to Brian to stop it!

Surprisingly, The Quiet Ones is swimming with mood, nicely blending the free spirit look of the 70’s with the traditional rustic, gothic scenery that Hammer is notorious for. Unfortunately, that’s pretty much where their influence ends. The film does mix a nice blend of found footage and typical movie, as we watch the film as usual, then through the eyes of Brian or through the lens of his camera I should say. Although since this is the 70’s and he’s shooting on film, the snob in me can’t help but wonder how on Earth he is recording sound, since we never see any sound equipment recording it seperately and I’m pretty sure cameras, and film, back then couldn’t record sound.

tqo_4But enough nitpicking, let’s get down to brass tax.

Just when something suspenseful and scary is picking up speed and the tension is building, the film cuts abruptly to the next scene. Substituting loud noises for genuine scares, the film never reaches true levels of terror, though it continuously makes you think it will. Think of walking quietly down a hallway with a friend and then they bang as loud as they can on a wall. That’s the kind of scares you’re in for here.

Sure the movie has blood and violence, sure the movie has sex, but The Quiet Ones is afraid to show any of it. Instead it merely wants to hint at it, forgetting that it’s a horror film. This is one of those cases where the final product really could have benefited from an ‘R’ rating. At the end of the day, it was nothing more than watered down imagery and loud jump scares and although I didn’t hate it, it’s nothing I’m going to remember, which is such a shame since all of the actors bring in real solid performances. Jared Harris has made a profession of playing the scumbag type of character and really makes Dr. Coupland detestable, yet likable. Olivia Cook is sinister and sympathetic, Sam Claflin is the likable moral centered one and Erin Richards is gorgeous as a 70’s tramp.

You really can’t help but to think of where all this talent and this idea could have gone if it weren’t so by the books and watered down. I can’t tell you how tired I am of the PG-13 horror movie craze that producers seem to be wanting to shove down our throats. Instead of getting a truly shocking, frightening film, we get something safe for the kids just to sell tickets. And how do these films generally do? Terrible. So what’s the point of making it PG-13 if your ticket sales aren’t really improving? If you’re going to imply all this sex and violence, grows some gonads and make it shocking. Your audience will respect and appreciate you for it. Instead what we get is the most shining example of a film playing it safe in recent memory.

The Queit Ones
I have an idea for an experiment. Try to sit through a PG-13 horror film like The Quiet Ones and try to get scared by it.

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • Hammer is too legit too quit.
  • Olivia Cook naked… almost!
  • Jared Harris, professional a-hole.
  • There is one scare with a car door.
  • Burning down the house.
  • CG poop snake monster thing. (?)
totals

5

blood

BLOOD

Nothing oozing or squirting, but we see the walls painted with it.

3

blood

BREASTS

Olivia Cook in a bathtub should be the most amazing thing, but…

7

beast

BEASTS

Olivia Cook plays one terrifying girl, you’d have to be crazy to date her!

5 OVERALL
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Jul

Comments Off on The Perfect House

The Perfect House
2012 – Not Rated – 84 Minutes – Wild Eye Releasing
Starring Felissa Rose, Johnathan Tiersten – Directed by Kris Hulbert and Randy Kent

Have you ever found yourself walking around your empty, quiet house and thought to yourself, “I wonder what kind of dark, horrible things have happened here?” Then as you notice some scratch marks on the floor from where you moved furniture you think, “Oh, I bet someone being murdered was dragged across the floor there.” The latter is the case for the home in The Perfect House. The film certainly has a lot of elements being mixed into it, but they are hard to pick up on. For instance, when you pop this sucker in, you probably wouldn’t know it’s an anthology, especially since the synopsis on the back mentions nothing about it. For the first fifteen minutes, you will find yourself confused until you realize what it is.

I would also like to point out (or nitpick) the tagline, “There’s Terror on Every Floor!” Yet the only floor we really explore is the basement. And this is a two story house, so that tagline would be better suited for a skyscraper.

Your typical family comprised of the bickering husband and wife (played by Sleepaway Camp allum Felissa Rose) who are condescending toward one another, their sultry, smartphone addicted daughter and their two sons who always seem to be fighting are headed over to their neighbors house for dinner. What’s on the menu? Dastardly deception and torture! At this point, it’s hard to say what would make a man go crazy and tie up the family next door. They do mention a few times that his neighbor borrowed his weedwhacker and never returned it, then we find out that the dolt threw it away, claiming it to be an old piece of junk. So if there ever was motivation…

tph_2It cuts to sometime later as a young couple is looking to buy the home, which is implied has been on the market for sometime. This is when the movie shifts tonial so hard and suddenly you’ll get whiplash, as an erotic real estate agent embodying every fictional aspect of the female sex symbol gives them a tour of the home. As the male of the couple drools over her so comically, I expect him to turn into a cartoon wolf as his tongue rolls on the floor and his eyes pop out of his head. This scene is filled with so much lame sexual-innuendo that even most porns would be embarrassed of. At one point, she asks the couple if they would like to check out the “upstairs,” as she unbuttons her shirt as they walk upstairs to the bedroom where she proceeds to lay on the bed and trace the curves of the body. The husband plays along with the dialogue, while his wife is condescending toward him. The real estate agent then suggests that they check out the “downstairs” (in more ways than one), but warns them the basement is somewhat of a deal breaker. I really hope there is no double meaning to that.

As the couple descends into the basement, we launch into our first segment which takes place sometime in the 60’s (I think), as a husband and wife head into the basement with their two kids seeking shelter from a storm. We quickly see how mean spirited and condescending the wife is toward her family. By now, you are probably noticing two things: That every character is condescending toward each other and that none of the characters have names. While this may work for a single story, it’s going to quickly grow tiresome over the course of this movie. Anyway, during this storm as the light flickers out the parents turn up mutilated, leaving the kids to discover who the murderer is, which is clearly given away during flashbacks of their lives, giving motive to the killer. Also, this is the only segment that has a different theme than the rest. Rather than opting for torture porn, it’s… I dunno, who-dun-it?

This is when you realize this is a messy anthology and that the real estate segments are the narrative part and the first segment we saw is the book ends. So on to the second segment, yeah?

tph_3This one is definitely the longest segment (and you will start to feel it drag after a little while) which is most likely due to another Sleepaway Camp veteran, Johnathan Tiersten filling in the role of the cliched philosophical serial killer. I’m assuming this segment takes place during the 90’s due to his Godsmack style look, which was a bad idea even then. This bleach-haired, soul-patched serial killer uses the basement for caging and torturing victims, keeping a girl alive for years so she can watch his “art.” He brings another victim into the basement that she taunts as he cries, telling him he’s going to die in a few days and she knows this because her scheduled rape is the day after. I’m assuming that was supposed to come off as shocking and funny, but it just makes whoever wrote this look insensitive and stupid. I also want to point out that even though the female character does get the male victim to stop screaming by telling him, “Do you think someone that would do something like this is gonna leave us in a place our screams can be heard?” Which is true, but isn’t this house located in the middle of a populated neighborhood? Anyway, this segment is filled with more anal rape jokes as the serial killer dribbles on about how he’s changing society, thinning out the herd, creating art… you’ve heard heard all of this bulls#@t before and it sounds just as trivial now as it did back then. I can’t tell if they were trying to write this character with some depth or just following a list of stereotype serial killers in movies. And as for the woman, I get that she has been trapped for some time and is starting to lose her mind, but it’s her performance that makes her utterly loathable. Sadly, you feel nothing for this character, which is a tremendous feat when the opposing character is a serial killer/rapist. As I said, this portion of the film drags as he tortures these two in the basement, making jokes and you can’t help but ask yourself, “what is so popular about torture porn?” Sometimes it can shocking and gross, but this comes off as offensively wasting your time and insulting. Although this does tend to come off gross at times, like when he peels off a victim’s eyelids and smashes out their teeth with a 2×4, you can’t help but feel like the overall tone is someone is talking down to you.

And finally, we resume what we started with the neighboring families. The psychotic man gone over the edge from a tossed away weedwhacker, has his neighbors tied up and the film ventures into rape territory again as he tells their daughter to make herself pretty, tossing makeup at her and the film recalls her coming home with various boys in the middle of the night, implying she’s a slut and that this is fitting for her? It definitely makes you feel dirty, but only because you can’t help but feel this logic is severely misguided. He then pits the two boys to stab one another in order to save their mother’s life, because they always fought for her attention. Again, severely misguided view. All children fight, especially for mom’s attention and especially when they are about five and ten years old. The mother then has her ankles slashed open and has to rescue the surviving child, who now has a plastic bag over his head, which at this point you have to wonder what the hell the screenwriter was thinking. None of this is about redemption. None of this is about revenge. None of this is about justice or what goes around comes around. It feels like an extreme ends justify the means and a very delusional, poor quality snuff film version of it at that.

tph_4And so the film comes to end as three months later, some guy tosses another guy who wanted to look at the house again into the basement, implying that the house has some sort of evil power? Hell, I have no idea. On a final note, I’d like to point at that this film is called A Devil’s Inside in Australia, no doubt trying to name it closely to the found-footage crap fest A Devil Inside. Which when you think about it is rather fitting for this film; A film that misunderstands and poorly represents the genre it’s mimicking naming itself closely to another film that misunderstands and poorly represents the genre it’s mimicking.

All because of a weedwhacker.

When is all said and done, I had a few problems with The Perfect House, the biggest being the filmmakers and writer decided that most of the film would be cliched, tiresome torture porn. As much as I hate that term to describe a movie, I don’t know what else to call it when you spend the majority of your time with a captor doing heinous things to his victims and even with such a simple and pointless sub-genre, it seems to be mishandled. I can’t help but wonder why they would choose this route when an anthology opens up your spectrum of storytelling, allowing you to tell different elements of horror without making your overall story arc seem confusing. All of this makes the end of the film seem mean spirited and doing mean spirited things just for the sake of it. Issues like child murder or rape are handled poorly, almost with disrespect it seems, all of which seems to muddle to tone of the flick. Am I suppose to laugh? Be shocked? Scared? Who knows… not even the filmmakers it seems. Also, they didn’t explore much with the house, since we are stuck in the basement most of the time, but I guess the title ‘The Perfect Basement’ doesn’t sound as good.

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That’s not to say that some of the performances are actually pretty solid, most of all by Felissa Rose. She really plays a victim here and brings it everything she has. It’s just too bad none of them have names. Seriously, do you know how hard it was to write this review calling every character “he” or “she”? It wouldn’t have been as difficult either if they all weren’t pretty much the same character being recycled. How many times can I write “husband and wife” while simultaneously be talking about several different people? Can you imagine trying to describe this movie to someone? It gets confusing! If you can come away from the film saying one positive thing, it’s that the practical effects are handled well and at times used effectively. Too bad the same can’t be said about the narrative.

The Perfect House
Now if you’ll excuse me, I better go return my neighbors tools before he ties me up and beats me with a garden hose.

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • Most awkward dinner ever.
  • Real estate agent/porn star.
  • Children of the darned.
  • Torture basement.
  • Weedwhacker revenge!
  • What’s down in the basement?
totals

6

blood  

BLOOD

Fairly decent practicals almost shine through with decapitations, finger removals and other mutilations.

2

blood  

BREASTS

If you don’t mind em on a dead girl, then this is for you.

 

3

beast  

BEASTS

 

Just a bunch of torturous jerks!

3.6 OVERALL
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Apr

Comments Off on The House by the Cemetery

The House by the Cemetery
1981 – Unrated – Blue Underground
Starring Catriona MacColl, Paolo Malco, Giovanni Frezza – Directed by Lucio Fulci

Finding a new home isn’t always easy. Most of the time if it seems to good to be true, it most likely is. Sometimes there is mold damage or the foundation isn’t sturdy… or sometimes there is an evil doctor turned creature living in the basement that murders people for blood and body parts. That’s usually something they keep off the record, so it isn’t until you buy the home that you have to deal with that pest yourself or hire an exterminator, as the Boyle’s find out in Lucio Fulci’s The House by the Cemetery. As the tagline says, “Read the fine print. You may have just mortgaged your life!” which is one of my favorites of all time and sets up the events that you are in store for. Of course other taglines read, “Can anyone survive the demented marauding zombies in…” and “BEWARE THE DEMON FORCES OF THE… BLOOD BEASTS,” misdirecting and implying that there is more than one monster, but I guess it wouldn’t be a Fulci film if something weren’t mildly confusing.

Like most Fulci films, The House by the Cemetery‘s plot isn’t the most logical, having a few glaring holes here and there and the ending of the film making little or no sense, but not as incomprehensible as some of his other work, say Manhattan Baby. Apparently in early releases of the VHS, some of the reels are edited out of order, making the story even more confusing. This was made in the early 80’s when Fulci was really serving up some well told, nasty horror flicks, sometimes so nasty the movie would earn a well deserved spot on the Video Nasties list. Alongside City of the Living Dead and The Beyond, The House by the Cemetery is considered to be the third in his unofficial “Gates of Hell Trilogy.” Since I already discussed the film in a Goon Reviews video, (WATCH IT HERE!) why would I be talking about it again? Because it’s that good. Read on.

hbtc_2The House by the Cemetery opens up quite literally in the very definition, as we see a house that is next to a cemetery. It’s a relieving feeling, knowing you can trust the film to be true to the title, unlike some others (I’m looking at you, I Drink Your Blood). A young couple has finished using the uninhabited property as a secluded place to boink. This scene like catching the tail end of a horror movie cliche, as we don’t see the sex act, but the young girl who vomited her guts out (literally) in City of the Living Dead calls out for her boyfriend about a thousand times before finding his mutilated body nailed to a door, then getting a knife driven through the back of her skull and out her mouth. As the unseen murderer that is made up of rotting body parts, as indicated by one of his hands, I can’t help but wonder… did Pieces copy that exact same stabbing scene, or did this film rip off Pieces? With Italian filmmakers, sometimes it’s hard to tell who ripped off who.

Enter the Boyles, who are moving to this Boston home from New York City, where every Italian movie seems to center. The man of the house, Dr. Norman Boyle, is continuing the research of his colleague who was working in the house when he mysteriously murdered his mistress and committed suicide, so obviously this is the dream home to bring your wife Lucy (played by Fulci regular Catroina MacColl), who has previously heard voices and hallucinated on meds and your effeminate son, Bob, who claims a girl in one of the photos of the house has been warning his family not to come. Clearly the ideal Norman Rockwell painted family.

But first, a little disclaimer about Bob.

hbtc_3Bob is going to freak you out, thanks to the magic of dubbing. He may look like a normal child, but just wait til he starts speaking and you hear one of the oddest voice acting choices for dubbing. Bob’s voice is something of a middle aged woman who hasn’t quite reached puberty yet. It will catch you off guard.

Even with all these flashing red warnings, the Boyle’s move in anyway, giving further material for the Wayans that “white people be tripping.” Within moments of moving and establishing that Lucy might be slightly off her rocker, the babysitter, Ann, arrives, played by that creepy staring chick with the thick eyebrows that is strangely attractive from Dario Argento’s Inferno. The actress decided to reach slightly outside of her acting safe zone of staring ominously past the camera and actually have a speaking role… while staring ominously past the camera.

As if the company the Boyle’s are keeping isn’t disturbing them enough, it doesn’t take long for the house to being making all kinds of Spencer’s Gifts haunted house CD noises, with the creaking floorboards and childish crying. These sounds drive Norman to pause his research and investigate to find, to his shocking horror, Ann trying to pry open the boarded up basement door. At like, two in the morning. Huh? Why would she be doing that at an ungodly hour? Maybe she got home from the bar and still had some leftover Red Bull and vodka energy.

And the next morning, it’s brushed off like it never happened. Bob meets this ghost girl from the photo, named Mae, who is not only a ghostly figure that warns Bob of the dangers to come, but also plays hide and seek with him! Norman goes about his research, beginning to uncover the odd disappearances of the townsfolk and more about his co-worker’s death, while Lucy finds a tombstone marked Jacob Tess Freudstein in the middle of their living area. Norman assures her that all the homes in the area have them and it’s nothing to worry about. And to prove she has nothing to worry about, he finally pries that damn cellar door open, after about a bajillion false delays and the Fulci trademark “close up on the eyes of people exchanging glances” shot. Upon investigating the basement, they realize there is nothing to be afraid of down there except BAAAAAAAT! The winged rat tangles itself in Lucy’s hair and bites Norman on the hand, which Norman then dispatches by stabbing it with a pair of scissors and the bat bleeds out of several pre-cut holes.

hbtc_4Well, that’s about enough of that! The Boyle’s immediately smash cut to the real estate place demanding to be re-housed, but are unfortunately they are told it would be a few days. A few days later (I think… or later that day?) when the Boyle’s are off doing… something, the real estate lady, Mrs. Gittelson, arrives to tell them about their new crib, but the monster living in the house likes his new tenants and stabs her to death with a fireplace poker and drags her into the basement. By now you’re thinking, “A Fulci film without an eyeball gouging? What the hell!?” Well, you may notice that as Mr. Gittelson is being dragged off, one of her eye’s is torn apart. Apparently, there was a shot of her death scene in which her eye gets ripped out of its socket, but was cut because Fulci felt it didn’t look authentic enough. Man, given the caliber of effects in Italian horror films, your effect must have really sucked if Fulci wanted to pass on an eyeball gouging.

The next morning, Ann is scrubbing away at the giant bloodstain that Lucy barely questions and then shrugs off. Ann stares at Lucy, unblinking and silent, as Lucy’s questions go unanswered and all she can say afterwards is, “that girl Ann is a real weirdo.” Understatement of the year. Norman is all like, “whatevs” and glosses over some background history on their resident in the tomb, Dr. Freudstein. Apparently, he was a mad scientist of sorts. This prompts Norman to get away from his family for awhile and head back to New York City. Norman bails on his family while Lucy goes shopping, leaving Ann with the increasingly annoying Bob, who she thinks she hears crying in the basement. Ah, she fell for an old horror movie cliche! There’s no way she’ll get “a head” that way… wink!

hbtc_5Arming himself with a toy gun and a teddy bear, Bob heads into the basement to save Ann (or what’s left of her), but is saved from a monster hiding in the shadows when his mother comes home. Bob tries to tell her about Ann’s rotting corpse in their basement that’s littered with body parts, but Lucy isn’t having any of that nonsense and sends Bob to bed. But Bob, now being convinced by his mother that Ann isn’t dead, sneaks down into the basement only to be confronted by the monstrous Dr. Freudstein, who looks like a half melted, rotting corpse with fresh new limbs, which turns out that’s what he does with his victims. Norman has just discovered this and rushed home to help Lucy rescue Bob and quickly get out all this exposition, that Freudstein needs new limbs and fresh blood to stay alive (um, don’t regular people need that too?). Norman hacks off Freudstein’s fresh new arm while breaching the door with an axe and freeing Bob from the mad doctor’s clutches, reuniting them all in the basement. But rather than immediately dashing out and escaping to somewhere safe or torching the place, they stay in the basement, listening to the child like cries of the doctor (now that I think of it, why does he cry like that?). Dr. Freudstein slowly approaches the family and getting prison shanked by Norman, which he could argue was in “self defense.” However, Freudstein is a hardcore fan (and probably the only fan) of the MacGruber movie and tears out Norman’s throat, spilling gallons of blood! Lucy and Bob try to run up the stairs under the tomb, attempting to shove the heavy slab of concrete blocking their only exit.

It’s actually a well paced, tense scene. The monster slowly approaches them, making his way up the stairs and just when you think they are going to make it, Dr. Freudstein grabs Lucy’s ankles and drags her down the stairs as we hear her scream in the darkness and then silence. Bob is now all alone and orphaned as he sees Freudstein make his way back up the stairs. Bob frantically tries to push open what he and a full grown, panicky women couldn’t open and as the doctor inches his way toward Bob, within his grasps. Suddenly, a pair of tiny hands rip open the tomb with Hulk like strength and free Bob, who is revealed to be Mae. Wait, what? Apparently Mae can summon “mother saving a trapped baby” strength and not only rip open a couple hundred pound slab on concrete, but yank Bob out of there so fast that if she let go, he would have shot into the atmosphere. But the confusion only begins there. Throughout the film, Mae is accompanied by an older woman whose face we never see, until now, when it’s revealed to be Freudstein’s wife, making her at least a hundred years old… so, are they ghosts? As the kids and Mrs. Freudstein wonder off, you can’t help but to be puzzled by the ending, but it’s not going sour the experience of the movie for you.

Of all the movies that could have been named Don’t Go in the Basement, this should have been it.The House by the Cemetery, while in traditional Fulci form by not being entirely coherent, is one of his more strongly structured stories. In exchange for that, it’s also not his bloodiest or nastiest… but it is in no way tame. The film is packed with plenty of stomach turning moments of brutality and gore, that is sure to make you toss up your lunch. Something that is often overlooked in these kinds of films is the beauty of the cinematography. While it may not be as artistic as his Italian counterpart Dario Argento, Fulci’s shots in this film are often open when outdoors, sometimes feeling colorless, which leaves with the feeling of dread and becoming more claustrophobic as we go further down into the house and into the basement where the reds start to run. Right from the opening shot of the fog rolling over the graves and over to the empty, dilapidated house, you feel at unease, but there is something gorgeous about what you are looking at.

The House by the Cemetery
This film is a staple for horror fans and a pillar for Italian horror flicks. For all the fun I had nit picking a few things here and there, it’s a without a doubt pretty solid horror film with, for the most part, pretty decent acting, dreary mood and atmosphere, splattered with all kinds of guts and gore making this a must have for fanatics of the macabre cinema.

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • Fornicators be damned.
  • Bob.
  • Exciting and thrilling real estate!
  • Not the goddamn Batman.
  • Ann demonstrates how to lose your head.
  • This doctor makes house calls!
  • Road House-style throat rip!
  • Are they ghosts?
totals

9

blood

BLOOD

Stabbings, decapitations, guttings… it wouldn’t be a Fulci film without the pretty red stuff!

5

blood

BREASTS

Right in your face at the start, but that’s it in the boobies department. Not even cleavage afterwards.

10

beast

BEASTS

Don’t be fooled by his sissy cry, Dr. Freudstein is a beast! Is Bob’s atrociously dubbed voice a match for him? And don’t forget about large, oddly square-shaped bats!

8 OVERALL
dripper

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