<![CDATA[Ginger Nuts of Horror - FILM GUTTER ]]>Mon, 20 Nov 2017 10:20:09 +0000Weebly<![CDATA[FILM GUTTER REVIEWS: COMBAT SHOCK (1984)]]>Thu, 16 Nov 2017 00:00:00 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/film-gutter/film-gutter-reviews-combat-shock-1984By Alex Davis 
Picture

Dir. Buddy Giovannazzo, USA, 91 min



Now, I must confess I found it hard to picture the day I'd be turning my attention to a Troma film here at Film Gutter. While I've never been an avid follower of the cult company, it's hard not to have stumbled across at least a few of their movies over the years and while some have been fun, it's hard to deny that many are absolute and utter trash. There are a handful of b-movies I have a fondness for, but on the whole I'm not a fan of that end of horror. Just because there's a low budget doesn't mean a movie has to be low quality or low brow.

Some people might argue that the nature of Troma's movies makes them ideal for Film Gutter, but I've tended to try and veer away from flat out 'bad horror' in order to focus very much more on the extreme elements. There might be a few more Troma features that could fit the bill, but there's plenty that would come before those on my list of preferences. However Combat Shock has been on my radar for a while, with many claiming the film features one of the most disturbing finales of all time. That's a privilege that still belongs to Megan is Missing, in my opinion, but it's sure big talk to put on the table. So how does Combat Shock stack up?

Well, I have to say this one was a pretty pleasant surprise. It is low budget, and you can see that it's low budget, but it is one of those gems that uses this fact to its advantage to develop a movie that is grimy, unpleasant and uses what it has in an ingenious way. The story follows Frankie, a Vietnam war veteran whose life has well and truly hit the skids after his dark experiences. We see a little of that to kick off with in flashback, and revisit them a few times throughout the story as rather broken memories. He's got no job, no money, a marriage to Cathy that is deeply struggling and a baby that is anything but normal (which gets attributed to all the chemical warfare he was a part of in Nam) and cries constantly, a pretty harrowing background to Frankie and Cathy's misery. The main part of the story follows Frankie as he wanders the desolate streets of town, bumping into drug addicts, pimps, prostitutes, crime lords (whom he happens to be in debt to) as he makes his way to the unemployment office looking for something, anything by way of a job. All the while we see splices of his experiences as a prisoner of war, and the building implications that come with his long recovery and the amnesia he suffers about the attack in one particular village...

For me, this one was pretty impressive and explored a lot of interesting ground. It's a story of urban decay, of what war can do to a person, or having no hope and no visible way out of the situation you're in. Ricky Giovinazzo does a good job in the lead role as Frankie – he's very believable and his various struggles are pretty well depicted – and the constant, hideous crying of the baby is cleverly employed as a background sound throughout a lot of the movie. Sure, some of the scenes and the acting performances around the wider city are a bit ropey, but many add to the scenes of grit and grind that everyone there is experiencing. It's a story that really embraces the underbelly of society.

And the finale? Yeah, I'm happy to concede it was pretty full on. It's not completely unexpected given what comes before it, but it does certainly pack a punch and is a suitable conclusion to what is a pretty nihilistic movie. Combat Shock has certainly built up a cult following, and remains weirdly current and prescient. There are still people struggling desperately at the bottom rung of society, and soldiers fighting in conflicts all over the world who simply don't have the support they need. I also think it's a good example of what you can do in a movie without a lot of money to do it with, so for me it's a real credit to all involved.

RATING: 9/10. Maybe enjoyable isn't quite the right word for a movie this bleak, but it certainly was compelling despite a few flaws here and there. But given what the movie is some of those more ridiculous performances from the minor characters don't feel so bad – in fact many seem to fit what is a dark but absurd scenario. I can certainly see why this one has built up a following – in fact it's no shock at all to hear. I'm happy to give this one a highly creditable 9/10.
Picture
Picture

SPLATTERPUNK: DAVID BENTON  IS  FIGHTING BACK
HORROR FICTION REVIEW: THOSE WHO FOLLOW BY  MICHELLE GARZA AND MELISSA LASON
HORROR NEWS: POLLY IS A CRACKER, WE WANT YOU TO SLEEP TIGHT, TOKYO GHOUL STALKS THE STREETS AND MICHAEL BRAY HAS GONE TO THE DARK PLACE

]]>
<![CDATA[FILM GUTTER REVIEWS: YOUR FLESH, YOUR CURSE (2017)]]>Thu, 09 Nov 2017 00:00:00 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/film-gutter/film-gutter-reviews-your-flesh-your-curse-2017By Alex Davis 
Picture

Dir. Kasper Juhl, Denmark, 100 mins

FILM GUTTER
Come on in, the water's beautiful...

The extreme horror scene is one where a new name can really emerge and make a great impression. In recent years we've seen fantastic talents like Phil Stevens and Arthur Cullipher come through, among many others, and a name that keeps circling onto my radar is Kasper Juhl. Still only 26, the Danish writer/director has just finished his seventh movie, Your Flesh, Your Curse, and here at Film Gutter we were lucky enough to have the chance to take a look at his latest.

Your Flesh, Your Curse follows the story of Juliet White, a beautiful but broken young woman who spends most of her life in a haze of either alcoholic binging or drug-fuelled paralysis. She has a few friends, all of whom encourage and share in this type of behaviour. There are hints from early on that Juliet has some pretty serious past trauma, which is confirmed in a video clip from her father apologising for the horrible abuse he inflicted upon her. This seems to see her revisiting – maybe even being unable to resist – abusive characters in her life, and we see her endure some pretty torrid sexual encounters in the opening of the movie.
 
Sounds pretty dark, right? Well, rest assured YF,YC is merely warming up at this point. When Juliet passes out in public as a result of her drug use, she's found by Max, who forces himself upon her before slashing her throat. And here begins a sort of hell for Juliet, who is forced to relive some of the most awful events from her history, as well as experiencing new aspects of nightmare.

There are three main things I want to say about this movie, two good and one not so good, and I'll endeavour to do so without giving any spoilers. First off, this one is beautifully shot – everything looks stunning and there's obviously been a great deal of thought about the look and feel of this film. There are a lot of fine details that add a lot, and even the grubbiest and filthiest of scenes are shot cleanly and with real precision. There's no doubt this is a skilled cinematographer at work – it's lavish and it's perfectly easy to get lost in its arthouse qualities.

Secondly, the lead actress in the role of Juliet, Marie-Louise Damgaard, is absolutely fantastic. Obviously a vast chunk of the story hangs on her performance, and she really delivers – it's not hard to believe that she's genuinely going through hell here. The whole thing looks like an extremely difficult shoot to put yourself through, as Juliet spends a great deal of the time going through either physical or mental abuse at the hands of many different characters. It feels like a real landmark performance for her – in fact I struggle to think of many better leading roles that I've seen in extreme horror. It just feels real, which is a true testament to it, and I'm sure there are bigger things ahead for her.
 
The last thing I have to say is that – for all that I think this movie is overall very good – it did leave me feeling pretty confused and a little uncertain as to what I had just witnessed. I'm not averse to a bit of abstraction or alternative storytelling – in fact I'm something of a fan of it – but I don't feel like I really had enough to grasp onto that was cogent. I couldn't really tell you adequately what Juliet's arc was, and I don't think we really have a suitable resolution of the dark story with her father – I thought that was going to be a key part of the film, but didn't really seem to go anywhere (unless you choose one certain interpretation of the pretty ambiguous finale). Our ending scene suggests some sort of character development, but other than that it's almost a montage – one that is in equal parts glorious and harrowing, but a montage nonetheless.


With the above said, don't make any mistakes, YF, YC is extremely good. I mentioned Phil Stevens earlier on and the comparison is practically an irresistible one – these two young directors are really exploring just how beautiful and arthouse extreme horror can be in a way that is rarely done. If your view is that extreme horror means that is has to be grimy and visually unappealing, I suggest you watch this film and prepare to eat your words.

RATING: 9/10. Your Flesh, Your Curse is stunning to watch, superbly acted and kind of washed over me (in a positive way!) as a watch – I was fully immersed, so much so that when the movie came to an end I found myself pretty surprised. The overall effect is impressive, and this is obviously a filmmaker delivering a singular vision really powerfully. The surprise came because in some way I had expected something more of the plot to reveal itself – the last scenes are pretty ambiguous, and it's a film that not just begs but basically requires some viewer interpretation. If that's your thing, then you should check this out for sure – in fact if you like your extreme with more of an artistic angle, I'd suggest this is essential viewing. It's the kind of bold and brave filmmaking that suits me to a tee as a viewer – 9/10 from me.

Picture
]]>
<![CDATA[FILM GUTTER REVIEWS:​ MASKHEAD (2009)]]>Thu, 26 Oct 2017 06:40:00 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/film-gutter/film-gutter-reviews-maskhead-2009BY ALEX DAVIS 

Dir. Fred Vogel and Scott Swan, USA, 88 min

As much as I love watching so many great extreme movies with Film Gutter, as well as having the chance to write about them, I do occasionally wish there was something a bit more fun to take in. Probably once every forty or fifty movies is there something that genuinely makes me laugh, or that I can look back at with real fondness and think 'I'll really look forward to watching that again.' Of course, that's partly the nature of the beast – extreme horror tends to explore subjects that are darker and more taboo than horror in the mainstream, and leans towards the graphic and the shocking. However once in a while there's a movie that does leave me thinking 'that was fun'. But one that does fit that rare bill is Scott Swan and Fred Vogel's 2009 movie, Maskhead.

It's a strange movie, almost a film within a film, mostly following Syl and Maddie, who run a fetish film business – and their wonderful advert for models sold me in the first few minutes. They come across (if you'll forgive the expression) a range of male and female performers whom they employ in a range of sometimes disturbing and sometimes flat-out weird scenarios designed to titillate their viewers. The spectacle in places is so strange you simply have to laugh, and some of the stories and anecdotes we're regaled with by the characters are genuinely great. The whole experience is a bit crazy, a bit psychedelic and a little wonderful.
 
The titular character, Maskhead, is one of the popular characters in the film business' line of movies and is a pretty odd visual, all bandages and barbed wire. The genuinely nasty part of the movie comes rather later into the piece, when Maskhead's killings go from being staged and scripted to genuine and impromptu. The slightly meta style of film-making does leave you wondering if some of the earlier killings were the real deal to, but there's certainly no doubt at all as we get into the last half hour.
 
Don't get me wrong, it's not perfect. We get thrown all kinds of characters, most of whom are only in one scene and are sort of meat for the grinder. There's not a great deal by way of coherent plot either, so most of the movie ends up feeling something like a series of vignettes or in places comedy sketches. I was more than once put in mind of Frankie Boyle's Tramadol Nights so surreal and dark was the humour. But that humour is really cutting and really wicked – I never thought a scene featuring anal fisting could actually make me laugh, but I was proven wrong here. Then again, that might just say something about me...
 
I can't possibly leave this review without a mention for the real star of the show, The Cowboy, wonderfully depicted by Daniel V Klein. He's a fairly enigmatic figure who drifts in and out of the film almost at will, but when he's there things really step up a gear. The Cowboy just seems to have real charisma and stage presence, and his stories of debauchery are such a highlight here. It's worth watching just for his lurid tales of drugs and sex.
 
If you watch extreme horror because you really like your limits tested and your movies to be genuinely horrifying, then Maskhead probably isn't for you. No doubt it has some pretty hideous moments, but some of the video shoots are more like to promote laughter for this with that surreal sense of humour. Equally if you love a compelling plot this won't be for you – it's bitty, it barely goes anywhere and it has a whole host of throwaway characters without any real sort of arc or journey.
 
But in spite of that – or maybe because of that – I genuinely loved Maskhead. It's so out there, and the humour is so up my street, that I was more than willing to forgive some of the other problems the movie had. I was properly entertained from start to finish, which isn't always a familiar feeling around these parts. And I can genuinely see myself coming back to this one when I need a chuckle.
 
RATING: 8/10. I can't give it top marks, even though part of me was very tempted too, because I can't deny it has a few flaws. It almost feels like a showreel for the oddest, darkest comedy series you've ever seen. But seen in that light, it's very good, very funny and very much held my attention rapt. The characters are a bit disposable but there are enough gems in there – particularly the deranged Cowboy – to keep you hooked. Quite unlike anything I've seen in extreme horror – some readers out there might not take to it but this was something I heartily enjoyed, so I'm giving it a strong 8/10.
PURCHASE A COP[Y HERE
]]>
<![CDATA[FILM GUTTER REVIEWS: BAD BIOLOGY (2008)]]>Sat, 14 Oct 2017 11:52:23 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/film-gutter/film-gutter-reviews-bad-biology-2008By Alex Davis 

Dir. Frank Henenlotter, USA, 85 mins


The b-movie holds a strange place in the annals of horror history, with many being loved and enjoyed by those within the genre. Simultaneously these kinds of movies are all too often the reason those outside the genre have such a low opinion of horror as an artform. I've never been much of a b-movie fan, all things considered, but like a lot of people I have a few guilty pleasures that fit that particular description. Step forward Bad Biology.

You've probably already gathered I'm not going to make a case that this movie is particularly great in terms of characterisation or acting. It's not artistic, or challenging, or even scary. What Bad Biology is, however, is ridiculous, overblown and extremely entertaining. It absolutely embraces the concept at its core, never backing down from strangeness and absolutely going the whole hog in delivering its oversexualised premise. It's deeply weird, but it's a lot of fun too.



The story follows two characters with – how to put this – mutations in their sexual organs. Jennifer introduces herself to us the words 'I have 7 clitorises. That I know of.' That'll tell you pretty quick the kind of territory we're in. Not only does she have seven clitorises, but her whole reproductive cycle is accelerated, meaning that within two hours of sex she gives birth to what she calls her 'freak babies'. Our other lead, Batz, is having similar problems in that he has a massive steroid-addicted penis with a mind of its own.


I'd love to say I had made a word of that up, but Bad Biology follows our two leads as they try and deal with the issues brought about by their particular traits. Jennifer is out to find a man to satisfy her – 'I need dick like a junkie needs a fix' – while Batz is looking for just the right drug to silence his member and get his life back on track. It's almost inevitable that the two should cross paths, and they do when Jennifer goes to do a photoshoot at Batz's mansion (I have no idea how he affords living in a mansion mind) and stumbles upon him trying to quiet an out-of-control erection. She decides there and then that he is just the man for her – or at least has just the equipment for her – leading to a finale every bit as bizarre as I might have expected.


I can't help but love this movie. Charlee Danielson as Jennifer plays just the right kind of out there, with an innocent exterior lying above a maniacal sex drive, and there are just so many laughs to be had along the way, be it from absolutely outrageous quotes, way out there physical comedy or moments where you simply laugh because, honestly, it's hard to know what else to do. It's been a long time since I caught this movie for the first time late one night on the Horror Channel, and frankly it's lost nothing since. It takes an idea that if done by half would never have worked, but in pushing it all the way to its absurd ends creates something that will probably stay with you for a while after you've watched it.


RATING: 9/10. If I had to land on a favourite b-movie this would be it, and I should have expected nothing less from the man behind two other faves in Basket Case and Frankenhooker. It throws you in at the deep end of oddness and basically just swims into deeper and stranger waters from there. It's not going to be for everyone, and I expect there will be plenty of people out there who love it like I do and no small share of people who hate it. Most of the reviews out there are either terrible or very good, with precious little inbetween. If you've enjoyed Henenlotter's other work, or if you like surreal, gross-out humour, then this will almost certainly speak to you. You'll probably know pretty quick when you get stuck into it either way. For me, the opening piqued my interest immediately and I enjoyed everything from there, so it's a 9/10 from this reviewer.

]]>
<![CDATA[FILM GUTTER REVIEWS: 2LDK (2003)]]>Wed, 04 Oct 2017 23:00:00 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/film-gutter/film-gutter-reviews-2ldk-2003by Alex Davis 

Dir. Yukihiko Tsutsumi, Japan, 66 min


Ah, Japan. Where would extreme horror be without the weird and wonderful contributions from Japan? A vast amount of splatter cinema came out of the nation during the 80s especially, much of which was fairly missable, while more modern offerings of Audition, Ichi The Killer, Suicide Club, Red Room and many more have continued a proud tradition of extreme horror movies. And so we come to 2ldk, a movie I had never heard of before but the premise of which certainly sounded interesting. And I must say that this relatively short movie was a pleasant surprise.
 
2ldk follows the story of two actresses, Nozomi and Rana, who share a flat and are pretty much polar opposites. Rana is much more of a lively, social girl, while Nozomi is rather quieter, more studious and buttoned down. Rana also has a long history of succeeding in much she has done, leaving Nozomi feel somewhat inadequate in her shadow. But it turns out the two are about to be in direct competition for the same acting role, and their rivalry is about to explode in pretty spectacular fashion.
 
The early build in 2ldk is pretty steady, but that's one of its strengths. We get to know the characters pretty well in the present-day sense, and eventually get more into their backstories, especially Rana. The two actresses have a great chemistry, bouncing off each other well and really seem to inhabit their roles in a very organic way. One of the other wonderful things about this tense build is that we don't only heard the words they speak, but also have a lot of access to their thoughts. It has a certain element of black humour to it to hear one thing said and then another, much more unpleasant thing running through the mind of each character. The tension rises with a variety of smaller issues before we get to the real hard stuff, with both Nozomi and Rana needling and poking at ever more delicate and emotional areas.

From there, things get increasingly wild as the altercation goes from unkind words to a serious, full-on physical assault by each of the women. It's destructive, it's out there and it still retains a feel of dark humour all the way. It's certainly not the most extreme thing we've witnessed here at Film Gutter, but it does have some really great moments and there's a good feeling of polish and quality running all the way through. It's surprising to think this whole thing was shot in just eight days, with everyone working virtually through the night – one can't help but wonder if that contributes to the mood of tension that's practically palpable all the way through. Sometimes these quirks of how things are shot just feed in to the process, and for me this is a great example of this.
 
The film isn't perfect, and the ending for me was a bit of a bum note to close on. There are a couple of things that feel a little out of place or strange for the two girls to do, and as a slight jar to believability the two struggling actresses seem to live in an absolutely huge, lavishly appointed apartment. But I suppose I'm coming to a point of nitpicking because ultimately I really liked this movie – well worth a look if you can get a hold of it.
 
RATING: 8.5/10. 2ldk is a really interesting movie that blends horror and comedy pretty seamlessly, with a simple premise very well delivered by all involved. The lead performances are strong, the direction is good and the pace is tight and controlled. There are a few chuckles along the way as the characters' petty grievances start to take on a greater significance, although the comedy is of a pretty dark stripe. There are a few minor gripes along the way but there's an awful lot more to like than dislike. A very good entry into the Japanese horror canon that, for me, deserves to be much better-known than it is – very much worth your time, especially if horror-comedy is your thing. Well worth an 8.5/10.
]]>
<![CDATA[FILM GUTTER REVIEWS: ​BLACK DEVIL DOLL FROM HELL (1984)]]>Thu, 28 Sep 2017 06:44:48 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/film-gutter/film-gutter-reviews-black-devil-doll-from-hell-1984BY ALEX DAVIS 

"If awful were a zen art, you are witnessing it in action for 90 minutes here."

Picture

Dir. Chester Novell Turner, USA, 91 min

Good.
 
God.

 
Now, I was roughly aware of what I was getting myself into with this movie. It's featured on a huge range of worst horror films ever made, and has even ranked highly among lists of the worst movies made in any genre. I was under no illusions there was a chance of this being a sleeper hit, or a low-budget film that far exceeded expectations with great writing, plotting and acting. This was and could only be awful.

Yet somehow Black Devil Doll from Hell feels like a movie in its own category of awful. If awful were a zen art, you are witnessing it in action for 90 minutes here.
 
Let's cover the essentials before we dig a bit deeper – Black Devil Doll From Hell follows the story of Miss Helen Black, a young, god-fearing, churchgoing lady determined to retain her virginity until she gets married. She leads a simple and lonely life until she heads into a local antique store and discovers a large doll, which she is immediately drawn to. In a grand horror tradition, the shopkeeper tells her that the doll is supposed to give you your most heartfelt desire, but that it has been bought four times and always returned to the store. Helen decides to buy the doll anyway, despite this dire warning, and it's not long before it's in her house doing creepy doll stuff, moving around the house of its own volition, moving its head and opening its eyes to watch her in the shower. You know, creepy doll stuff. Then it goes even further by given Helen her most heartfelt wish – taking her virginity in what is probably the weirdest rape scene you're ever liable to see, not helped by the bonkers cartoonish voice of the doll itself. This creepy-as-hell incident sparks off a sexual awakening in Helen, who tries to find a man to satisfy her, but nothing can make her terrifying wooden companion – who has of course wound its way back to the antique store to await its next unsuspecting victim...
 
Now that plot may not sounds great, but that summary doesn't do justice to how far it misses 'great'. It moves slowly and ponderously, there are huge scenes where remarkably little happens and you suspect any film editor worth their salt would be looking to move through things at a much better pace. The editing that does exist is choppy and messy, cutting to another scene or a different angle seemingly at random, or as though it was a surprise to the person involved.
 
To diagnose everything wrong with this movie would take a long time, so I'll try and give some of the highlights here. The opening credits are nothing but a list of names that run for nearly seven minutes over a soundtrack literally played on an 80's Casio keyboard – and that is what makes up the majority of the soundtrack, often overly loud and grating. To top that of, it's shot on an old VHS camcorder and nobody seems to have sorted out the tracking issues before putting this movie out!

And from that opening you are deeply into 'what the hell' territory – almost everything about this movie defies belief. The acting is atrocious, the direction is terrible and the story meanders around, spending most of its time going nowhere, the soundtrack is monotonous and irritating, the effects are laughable – when you do see the doll walk around it's obviously a kid in a costume, and there is one scene where you can literally see the arm of the puppet operator – and the whole thing is generally a trainwreck.

Despite all of the above, or perhaps because of all the above, this movie remains a firm cult favourite and has an audience that loves it to this day – it's not that long since it had a DVD release with the director's other movie, Tales From The Quadead Zone. In the vein of Troll 2 or Manos: The Hands of Fate, by getting everything wrong in a perfect storm of lousiness it has retained a place in film history. This will probably last even longer in the collective consciousness than many good or OK films from its era, mainly because of people's bad movie nights and the presence of a good many beers. Watching it alone of a quiet afternoon as I did is probably entirely the wrong arena in which to enjoy this movie, I'm happy to admit that. But even then there was a certain appeal – this is a miracle of bad filmmaking and you can't help but marvel at the terrible decisions that made it be. And if you're out there trying to make a film, there is literally no way you could do it worse than this.

RATING: 4/10. This movie is terrible, don't get me wrong. But there is a certain degree of entertainment to be had in watching Black Devil Doll From Hell because it somehow gets literally everything wrong. And in that respect it is spectacular. It'll have you shaking your head, it'll have you cringing, and it'll probably have you laughing at the most horribly inappropriate moments with its direness. I've never much subscribed to the 'so bad it's good' theory, so for me this is more 'so bad it has to be seen to be believed.' It gets 4/10 because other movies have bored me more, and there were chuckles there, just probably not where anybody meant them to be...
Picture
]]>
<![CDATA[FILM GUTTER REVIEWS: CAPTURE KILL RELEASE (2016)]]>Thu, 21 Sep 2017 05:24:45 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/film-gutter/film-gutter-reviews-capture-kill-release-2016BY ALEX DAVIS 

Dir. Nick McAnulty and Brian Allan Stewart,
​Canada, 96 mins

There's a lot of random movies that I stumble across at Film Gutter, and this is one of those cases. Never heard of it, didn't know the first thing about it but looked the right sort of film with the right sort of flavour. It's apparent in the opening minutes that we're entering the world of found footage once again, which is a double-edged sword – although I'd say that there's more bad than good for me personally. But as always I was determined to keep an open mind and not approach it with too many preconceptions.

And I have to say it wasn't bad. Not wonderful, certainly, but not bad. The movie follows young couple Jennifer and Farhang, who – at some point before we enter the narrative – have decided they are going to kill somebody. We certainly don't launch into that willy-nilly at all, and I think it's quite interesting to see the serious planning and build-up to what they are going to do. We see them at the hardware store picking out the best axes and saws for the job, getting good-size tarps, plotting what they are going to do with the bodies after the fact. It's practically a military operation and the two are happy, excited even to be working towards this end game.

The first tensions arise when Jennifer proposes a victim, a businessman of some kind who is rude and unpleasant to her on the street. Farhang was keen to avoid any personal connection, so is keen to stay away for this gentleman, even though he follows along on their stakeouts to find out more about him. And eventually Jennifer decides he is right and brings them home a homeless victim...
I won't say too much more about this one plot-wise. It's pretty gruesome in places, the effects are realistic enough and I think the performances are OK from all involved. The two actors even keep their own names for the characters. The highlight of the movie is the real unease and relationship trouble that actually committing the act causes, as Jennifer revels in it and Farhang feels pangs of conscience. That's probably a more interesting angle than the actual violence and death, which is no bad things.
 
However I can't give it a hugely high rating, and here's why – in fact it's something I intimated at earlier. They obviously have had a conversation some point beforehand about deciding to kill a totally random person. And it just left me wondering why? The two don't seem especially unpleasant, or violent, or psychopathic. And that's what jarred me the most of all – if these two pretty normal folks are just going to wake up one day and say 'hey, why don't we kill someone' I would love some more motivation and justification. Without that, it just feels a bit like 'Five Go and Commit a Murder', like it's all some wonderfully jolly jape and a big adventure they'll look back on and laugh. Characters need motivation, and ultimately that's what we're missing here – and that does have a genuinely detrimental effect on the movie. Capture Kill Release does a number of things right, but in doing this major one wrong very much limits what it can hope to achieve as a movie.
RATING: 5/10. Capture Kill Release is a strange misnomer of a title, now I think about it – the first two are certainly happening but I didn't see anyone getting released here at all. Anyway, there was promise here and the found footage style was used better than in many movies. The acting wasn't stunning but it was certainly believable, and the relationship element and the impact that their decision to kill has on the relationship is pretty effective. However the fact that there's simply no motivation for their actions and nothing in their apparent characteristics for why they would do it is just a massive stumbling block for me on a personal level. It's something fundamental to storytelling they seems to be egregiously missed here, and it loses several marks for that, so it's only a fair mark of 5/10
]]>
<![CDATA[FILM GUTTER REVIEWS: BODY MELT]]>Wed, 13 Sep 2017 23:00:00 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/film-gutter/film-gutter-reviews-body-meltby Alex Davis 

Dir. Philip Brophy, Australia, 81 mins

Australia is a nation that has produced some very decent horror movies over the years, and has a pretty fair pedigree in terms of extreme horror as well. The Loved Ones remains a firm favourite of mine, and with other offerings like Wolf Creek and Hounds of Love to boot it's certainly seems to be a lively scene down under. This one had pretty much passed me by, but on a hunt through the body horror section of Shudder I thought this one sounded like it could be some fun. That's not often a phrase that I apply to body horror – a subgenre that has served up some of the movies I've personally found very hardest to watch, including the horrible Thanatomorphose. Thankfully this one wasn't anywhere near as hard as some of its bedfellows, and in fact was pretty enjoyable.
 
To be fair, the story is pretty disjointed, but it fundamentally follows the residents of Pebbles Court, Homesville. The characters are pretty broadly-drawn but suffice perfectly well for the plot in this one, which concerns a local health farm and pharmaceutical company who are producing a highly experimental drug. We see its first victim – a former employee who tries to go and warn the good folks of Homesville – die in a pretty gory fashion, and that's a precedent for what comes next as the denizens of Pebbles Court are slipped this new drug by one means or another, and gradually find themselves bursting, exploding, melting and plenty more besides.

It's all pretty silly, but it sets its stall out early enough in that respect. You know what you're letting yourself into in the space of a few minutes, beginning with the stunningly retro computer graphics and then more firmly established in our meeting the absurd dramatis personae. There are a few chuckles to be had along the way – the cast of 'rednecks' (I know it's technically Australia not America, but I can't think of a better word) are a stitch, as are the bonehead teens on the block – and the deaths are generally pretty inventive and interesting. It's hard to be horribly shocked by anything, given the context, but the effects are good for the time and there's some pleasure to be had in wondering what the next extravagant death will look like. The fact the characters are basically 'shreddies' means that you don't miss them, or really feel for them, but again given what this film is trying to do it doesn't make too much difference.
 
Body Melt isn't especially cutting, or visceral, or hard to watch as so many of our entries in Film Gutter have been before it. I don't think it's going to prove to be that memorable either. What it is – and I don't get the chance to say this enough -  is a fun piece of horror that plays with some extreme ideas but keeps the humour and the outrageousness at the heart of it. There are plenty of flaws, sure – the story jumps all over the shop, giving almost the sense of a portmanteau rather than a full movie, some of the acting is hammy – like beyond the kind of hammy you'd like too see  - and there's little to stir any sort of emotional response. But it was an enjoyable way to spend 80 minues, and on those grounds it's worth a nose as an antidote to the more gruesome and distressing offerings  we often encounter.

RATING: 7/10. Body Melt almost feels like a movie out of time, as it would have been a perfect fit for the 80's style of horror. Even for when it was made it was likely retro, and looks even more so now, but it holds up in terms of effects and approaches its slim idea with enough energy and verve to make for a chaotic but ultimately pretty funny experience. It's not unmissable, but you could certainly do a sight worse if you like your extreme horror on the less serious side. 
]]>
<![CDATA[FILM GUTTER REVIEWS: KUSO (2017)]]>Thu, 07 Sep 2017 07:46:57 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/film-gutter/film-gutter-reviews-kuso-2017BY ALEX DAVIS 

FILM GUTTER
Come on in, the water's baffling...

Dir. Flying Lotus, USA, 105 mins

To begin with, it's worth saying this is a film I had been looking forward to for some time, and hats off to Shudder for picking this one up – it's a bold choice given what has been said about this movie prior to its release. Apparently enduring a host of walkouts during its screening at the Sundance Film Festival, and later being described online as 'the grossest movie ever made', this one screamed Film Gutter from the very get go. And given some of the talent involved at Brainfeeder Films – talent that certainly has a reputation for the bizarre – I was buzzing to get stuck into this one.
 
In many ways, it was everything that I expected, and really rather hard to describe adequately without actually watching. Kuso's framework is an occasionally-referenced earthquake that has caused a strange series of events to occur, which allows for a sort of montage style that provides a lot of creative freedom. So just what is it about? It's about a man who enters into a three-way relationship with a talking boil that has developed on his girlfriend, which we unfortunately get to see the consummation of. It's the story of a woman descending into hell to save her baby only to find herself physically attached to another woman. It's the story of a man determined to cure his fear of breasts by undergoing a trippy treatment after a cockroach, Mr Quiggle, emerges from his doctor's ass and squirts some sort of medicine (kind of) into his mouth (starring George Clinton and male porn star Lexington Steele, no less). It's about a woman who discovers she's pregnant by a creep that emerges through her toilet to say hello and the two bears (again, maybe not a perfect description) with TVs for faces that she lives with. It's about all of those things and an awful lot more, but that probably gives you some sense of just how odd this piece of work is.

I think whether this is to your taste or not, the craft and care that has gone into Kuso is undeniable. All the make-up work is meticulous, the visuals are breathtaking for the right reasons in places and all the wrong reasons in other – veering from glorious to horrifying – the soundtrack is wonderful (as you would expect from anything associated with directory Flying Lotus) and there is a freshness and originality here that is hard to deny. The film's detractors might argue a case that it is trying too hard to be different, but as any of my regular readers will know I prize originality in horror above a lot of other qualities, so you won't hear any complaints from me in that respect. I have a deep suspicion this is also a movie that will improve with repeat watching, as so much Adult Swim television.


And as I wrote that, I realised the best way I could describe Kuso is if Adult Swim decided to make a horror film, this would probably be it. It's relentlessly original, continually disturbing and takes pleasure in keeping its audience distinctly unbalanced. Just when you think you've figured something out, wham – we're onto the next thing. For me, it is entertaining and it kept my attention held tight all the way, but then Adult Swim has always produced some of my very favourite TV, and generally the stranger the better for me. But I think any reviewer would probably be wise to say this is not a movie for everybody – in fact Kuso is probably something that will be truly enjoyed by a small minority. Surreal, hilarious, artistic, sickening, energetic, twisted, intense, discombobulating – Kuso is all this and much more.
 
RATING: 9/10. If I were reaching for one word to described Kuso, it would probably be wild. This is a group of filmmakers well and truly let loose to create something that makes no concessions to its viewers or the film industry it is a part of. It is gross – not as gross as some movies we have watched, although Royal the Boil was a singularly queasy moment – but it is a flat-out assault in the sense with its off-the-wall imagery and mini stories it tells. I might have to watch it a few more times to be sure, but it might just be genius and I think is bound to gain a real cult status in years to come. I enjoyed it heartily, and although it certainly isn't a movie for everyone, it was undoubtedly a movie for me. One of the craziest rides ever here at Film Gutter and worthy of a great 9/10.
]]>
<![CDATA[FILM GUTTER REVIEWS: ​LOVE OBJECT (2003)]]>Wed, 30 Aug 2017 23:00:00 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/film-gutter/film-gutter-reviews-love-object-2003BY ALEX DAVIS 
FILM GUTTER REVIEWS: ​LOVE OBJECT (2003)
Dir. Robert Parigi, USA, 88 mins

I happened to stumble across this DVD (along with a host of other very good horror DVDs) for just 50p at a completely random charity sale. It's a movie I hadn't seen for a while, or even considered for a fair bit, but the minute I saw it I had a recollection of it being something I had really liked. In fact I distinctly recall renting it from Blockbuster (I know some of your out there will remember those) and really enjoying it. But would this one have stood the test of time? An hour and a half later I was relieved to be able to answer yes – Love Object still has plenty about it as a movie and remains high in my estimation. While it's not as flat out visually disturbing or gross as some Film Gutter entries, it plays with some very odd and somewhat shocking ideas in a subtle and clever way.
Love Object follows the story of Kenneth, a fairly ambitious but also very buttoned down young employee at a technical manual writing company. His boss is really pleased with his work and decides to give him a major job on a tight deadline. But he also gives him a deputy on the task – Lisa, a new temp at the company who'll be doing some of the typing and transcription (I think? It's a little ill-defined). Shy Kenneth initially doesn't want to work with a beautiful young woman, and asks to work alone, but his boss insists that he needs the support to deliver on time. And from there starts a dangerous obsession and a very dark journey.
 
You see, this is not only the story of will they/won't they between Kenneth and Lisa, but has a much darker element. When one of his colleagues at work introduces the idea of an anatomically correct, personalised sex doll Kenneth is intrigued and a little excited by the concept. So he goes home, empties his bank account and orders his very own doll in the very image of Lisa, which he dubs Nikki. But Nikki isn't there to just be subservient, and before long seems to take on a life of her own...
 
The central premise probably sounds a bit cheesy, and when I first watched it back I was a little nervous of how it would be delivered, but it's really well done. It's not presented a la the ridiculous Annabelle – all of Nikki's movements either happen while Kenneth is away, or asleep, or are presented in a chaotic fashion to give a sense of movement without any actual movement going on. Or course that brings up the question of whether any of this is real, or is the whole thing is in Kenneth's repressed and fragmented psyche. The love story with the real-life Lisa so nearly happens, but the final twist to the movie is pretty horrible and is in part what makes this worthy of mention on Film Gutter.

It's not uncommon to hear comparisons to American Psycho, which I can sort of understand. As much as I unequivocally love that book, it has to be said Love Object is much better than the poor movie adaptation of American Psycho. The whole thing is played in a pretty understated manner by lead actors Desmond Harrington and Melissa Sagemiller, the plot unveils steadily and in a logical fashion with very good high points and low points, and the threads of work stress and romantic entanglement an sexual frustration all tie together really well. I suppose those American Psycho comparisons come from the flashes of black humour throughout, which do lighten the mood nicely without jarring from a tonal viewpoint. The ending – which I won't spoil – is pretty effective too.
 
I've never quite understood how this movie seemed to pass so many people by, or never get more credit than it has. I can't find much not to like – it's a creepy concept with strong central performances and is one that I would certainly recommend checking out.

RATING: 9/10. There's so much good about Love Object, with only a few minor quibbles about some of the side performances, that I can only give it an excellent rating. It's neatly constructed, carefully and skilfully paced and I loved the central relationship and chemistry between the two lead characters and actors. Throw in some genuinely creep-out moments alongside some genuinely funny moments and you have a winning combination. On top of all that, it'll basically guarantee you never have any wish to but a sex doll. It gets plenty of love from me for a 9/10.
PURCHASE A COPY HERE
Picture
]]>