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More hardgore next Monday, today is back to Video Hell with two martial arts action films starting no less than Billy Blanks.
Showdown (1993) is fairly made, but completely derivative, while Expect No Mercy (1995) has a more original storyline, it could just have used a little more of it. Both are perfectly enjoyable films though and expect more from Mr Blanks in April.
The latest release from US DVD company Intervision, due for release tomorrow, Burning Moon is a complete gore-fest from the German Underground that will appeal to all fans of the video nasty era.
Everyone hates Mondays it seems, so what better time to review some of the sickest and depraved films…? A new occasional series of reviews starting this week.
To see all the films reviewed in this category, click through to the blog tab.
I spoke to Robert Englund as part of the promotion for his upcoming horror film Inkubus.
He spoke very keenly of the new production, comparing its isolated grittiness to John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13 (1976) and mentioned how much trouble the set designers had gone to to create this atmosphere – “A lot of the times I couldn’t even touch the walls because they were painting them with a urine yellow to bring out the griminess.”
Inkubus is one of the first feature length films to be shot entirely on a DSLR (the Canon 5D Mk II) and I asked Robert if he found it strange acting in front of this sort of camera. “I have made films which used digital cameras like this, but this was the most complete use of the format”, he described how the camera had allowed director Glenn Caino to be endlessly inventive, at one point using a skateboard pulled on a wire to substitute for a dolly shot and literally gaffer-taped the camera to the wall for an unusual angle. I asked how this style of shooting compared to the film making of the 1970s and 80s and he opined that the digital format gave considerably more options to film makers – movies shot on film could be really problematic when on location or trying to make closed spaces like closets or hall-ways, which often had to be carefully built to accommodate a camera.
Englund has gone on record in recent interviews that he enjoys reading new horror scripts and working with new directors – I asked what, of all the projects, appealed to him the most about this one. “Honestly, it was the chance to work with William Forsythe”. He explained that it was the actor’s recent performance in Boardwalk Empire, which Englund described as being pure unabashed evil, that really attracted him to the project, along with the chance to spend time with Joey Fatone and Jonathan Silverman.
The interest in working with new directors, he explained, began in the series of films he made following Freddy vs. Jason (2003), such as Behind the Mask (2006) with rookie director Scott Glosserman which he described as a “terrific project that has finally started to achieve its deserved cult classic status”. He also mentioned that another “terrific first time director” was Adam Green, who directed him in Hatchet (2006).
He discussed what he found most enjoyable working with new directors, something he had recently discussed with his B-movie colleague Lance Henriksen – they both enjoyed the fact that working on a small scale project like Inkubus they were able to get a lot more input than they would on on A-film and as a result the films were considerably more fun to be a part of. On Inkubus in particular he had great admiration for director Glenn Caino who didn’t sleep for three weeks during the making of the film and gave him a lot of flexibility, firstly in the wardrobe and also in the dialogue. Although not really improvising, Robert explained that Glenn allowed him to substitute dialogue, with a selection of arcane terms “peppered and sprinkled throughout” that would be suitable for the ageless character, much in the same way, he explained, that an ageing hippie or jazz musician would still use out-dated slang terms.
Producer Chad Verdi described Inkubus in an interview as a ‘budding franchise’ and I asked Robert whether there were any plans afoot for a prequel or sequel. He agreed that the film could spawn and number of new projects and confirmed that the producers had a writer working on a script at present, with one of the ideas being the veteran Incubus training a young protégée. The production company have their hands rather full at the moment however, he said, with romance Loosies (2012) coming out shortly and next the sports film Paz (2013) about boxer Vinny Pazienza who came back from crippling injury to compete.
Going back to the beginning of his career, I asked Robert whether he could have foreseen his future associated permanently with horror films. He explained how in his early film career he had been typecast as a Southerner in projects like Sunburst (1984) and later in projects like V (1984) he seemed to be forever set to play a nerd, always sat in front of a computer screen, “with apologies to Simon Pegg”. He admitted that the horror typecasting had proven very successful, he had had a number of great experiences and was certainly paid better to make horror films. The fringe benefits were also very much worthwhile “my wife and I love the international work”, travelling around the world to open films and attend conferences. He certainly has no regrets for the horror typecasting, feeling that he had managed to become something of a “low company Vincent Price”.
We discussed the direction modern horror films were taking, with many modern horror films either going down CGI monster movie or gore-fest routes. Englund’s next project to be shown is the SyFy production Lake Placid: The Final Chapter (2012) with a suitably massive CGI crocodile. Englund explained that he thought the craze of big monster movies was certainly not going to stop any time soon, they tapped into the “collective unconscious fear” of predatory animals and exploit this fear, at the time being cheap to make and having an inherently kitsch nature making them enjoyable on several levels by film fans. On the gory films, he admitted that he had enjoyed the original Saw (2004) and was a big fan of Tobin Bell, although he felt the franchise eventually became “like a snake eating its own tail” and was over-CGIed. He felt that all of these films owed a big debt to Tobe Hooper’s classic Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) which had essentially entered the cinematic lexicon.
One of his great frustrations is that despite horror films being so successful, that they are still denigrated a lot of the time, even by actors who appear in them and yet seem determined to describe their films, like the Saw series, as psychological thrillers – “it is not, it is fucking horror”, a word that he is more than happy to be connected with.
To finish the interview I asked what he was up to next. He mentioned his continuing television work with a recent appearance on the new series of Hawaii Five-0 and his next film release, the British horror comedy Strippers vs Werewolves. He signed for the project because he like the script a lot, it had great placed physical comedy, ranging from slapstick to vaudevillian and had an excellent spoof Guy Richie gang film idea with werewolves. Moving on from there he was in talks with Lucky McKee about a new project and working with Robert Hall on Fear Clinic (2012) a new film franchise following on from their popular short television series.
Read the full review of Inkubus.
It wouldn’t be a look at straight to video trash without a look at two films from the new masters of the genre – The Asylum.
The Haunting of Winchester House (2009) is marketed as a scary modern horror, but it is actually a very mild and old fashioned ghost story that manages to build some good atmosphere despite being filmed in the vintage red/green 3D format.
100 Million BC (2008) is a rather less forgiveable attempt to make an elaborate thriller with no budget, but most of the flaws come from lazy script writing.
More straight to video action with Lance Henriksen and Lorenzo Lamas starring in the no budget thriller Flight 747.
So starting off this series of DTV reviews is a modern war/horror film that is marketed as a gung-ho action flick but is actually a surprisingly effective horror – Afghan Knights
Repent sinner, step away from that bin of bargain DVDs or you will go straight to video hell….
We kick off 2012 will a new series of ‘straight to video’ film reviews, click on the tag link below to see all of the new reviews in this series.