<![CDATA[Ginger Nuts of Horror - FILM GUTTER ]]>Thu, 23 Mar 2017 07:07:00 +0000Weebly<![CDATA[FILM GUTTER REVIEWS: REGOREGITATED SACRIFICE (2008)]]>Thu, 23 Mar 2017 03:54:59 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/film-gutter/film-gutter-reviews-regoregitated-sacrifice-2008BY ALEX DAVIS

Film Gutter
Come on in, the water's sickening...

ReGOREgitated Sacrifice (2008)
Dir. Lucifer Valentine, Canada, 65 minutes
It's very rare that there's a movie that I truly put off watching. Those of you who have followed Film Gutter since 2015 will probably sense I'm fairly hard to shock and where it comes to extreme gore and violence, I think I'm made of fairly stern stuff. But having virtually back-to-backed two installments of Lucifer Valentine's luridly titled Vomit Gore Trilogy, I was anything but keen to complete that repellent triptych. Still, I think I would be doing myself, the director and all my fellow gutter dwellers a disservice to ignore it. Welcome back to the disturbed mind of Lucifer Valentine for ReGOREgitated Sacrifice.
First off, the eagle-eyed among you will notice this is the second movie of the trilogy and that I have somewhat made a mess of the order. So here there's no Hope Likens, with the focus (to some extent) on Ameara Lavey and even more so on The Soska Sisters. Yes, those Soska Sisters – Dead Hooker in a Trunk, American Mary etc. That's not to suggest that any of the content here is softened at all – what we have is actually even more sexualised than either of the other installments, and the vomit comes thick and fast yet again. If you seriously can't stand to hear people retching and gagging, do yourself a favour and duck these movies.
If anything, this movie is probably the hardest of the three to make sense of – no mean feat in and of itself. We see the feature character of the series, Angela Aberdeen, very little as we focus on 'The Black Angels of Hell' (depicted by the Soskas) as they go on a grotesque rampage of murder, physical abuse and sexual depravity. Even more this one begged the question of 'how did you get people to agree to that?' because this one has a larger cast, with a wide range of victims seen and debased in all sorts of ways. There's golden showers, people puking on each other, lashings of blood and gore and – most strangely – a man vomiting into a hollowed-out head whilst wearing an octopus on his own head. Feel free to take a moment to take that in. That, of course, is the repulsive Hank Skinny – somebody who strikes a little note of fear into me every time he appears on the screen. In fact, I struggle to think of anyone I less want to see on a screen that him, because it's a cue that what follows is going to be truly horrible.
The plot is practically non-existent, eschewing anything traditional in favour of the kind of montage that you might get to enjoy if you end up actually going to hell. The sound effects are crunching and unpleasant, the visuals are unremittingly extreme and upsetting and basically the whole thing is just there to make you feel bad as a viewer. It's one of those movies which it's kind of hard to go back to real life after. Even at an hour and five minutes it feels too long, because a part of you just wants it to be over. The whole trilogy is a unique endurance test that makes no concession to watchability, to decency, to traditional filmmaking or indeed to traditional morality. I dread to think what it would be like to watch the whole set back to back – you might never get over it...
For all that, and as I said of the previous, there is something compelling and fascinating here. Part of you wonders what's next, what can be next, what boundary will be crossed in the next few minutes. And part of the fascination is trying to find the meaning beneath the madness – something I'm not sure I was really able to do this time, despite my best efforts. That doesn't mean it's not there, but I'm not quite sure I can come back any time soon to delve deeper.
Still, that's the full Vomit Gore Trilogy watched and survived! Achievement Unlocked!
Wait, what? There's a fourth movie...?


RATING: 7/10. It's likely these movies will always hold a place in extreme horror folklore, and are probably the bellweather against which so many other disturbing movies are judged against. 'You thought that was disturbing? Well, you should check these out...' Literally nothing here is made easy to watch, either visually or aurally, and brief moments of candid talks from characters feel like glimpses of precious respite in the maelstrom of abuse, murder, violence and bodily fluid. Nobody has ever dared go here since, which is possibly some sort of indication of the dent these movies have made in the horror consciousness. It was still hard to turn away from, despite it all, and all three are grimly fascinating in a way I still can't quite pin down. This one felt more disjointed, and lacked some of the rawer emotional punch of the other two, so it falls a bit short of its bookends with 7/10.

And yes, I will come to Black Mass of the Nazi Sex Wizard at some point...
<![CDATA[FILM GUTTER REVIEWS: GERMAN ANGST (2015) ]]>Thu, 16 Mar 2017 05:55:16 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/film-gutter/film-gutter-reviews-german-angst-2015BY ALEX DAVIS 

Come on in, the water's angsty...

German Angst (2015)
Dir. Jorg Buttgereit/Michal Kosakowski/Andreas Marschall, Germany, 112 mins
Any of our regular readers will know just how much German cinema we've enjoyed in these pages, and how many very good extreme horror movies the nation has produced. So as soon as I heard about this one I was really excited to catch it – the return of Jorg Buttgereit to directing was obviously a key hook for me personally, as having emerged as a leading light in the field in the 80s 90s there's been very little forthcoming since. And although it's taken a while to get round to this film, it was well and truly worth waiting for.
German Angst is a three-part movie, with a section delivered by each of the directors involved which are basically unrelated apart from the fact that they seek to explore something uniquely German. We begin with Buttgereit's entry, Final Girl, which is a grisly tale of revenge taken out by a young girl. I could have told you this was Buttgereit's work without even being told – the visual panache is still there, and it's certainly a grim tale which is weirdly – but effectively – peppered with  information about guinea pigs. It all ties together beautifully and the gore – whilst not ducking the issue entirely – isn't as gratuitous as might be expected.
The second of the trilogy comes from Michal Kosakowski, a relatively new name on the cinema scene, and his Make a Wish plays with the concept of Nazism and wider German racism. The story begins with a deaf couple in love, exploring an empty house in the middle of nowhere, when they are interrupted by a group of thugs – three men and one woman. Obviously communication in the first instance is difficult, but the intention of the group to hurt the interlopers is delivered in a pretty universal language. Make a Wish as a title refers to a strange amulet that the deaf man gives to his partner, which can enable people to switch bodies – something that proves a critical weapon in their dangerous situation. This one is very tense and uncomfortable to watch, and while some of the acting is a bit over the top overall it's a likeable entry into the movie.
The third piece of this triptych was the one that really worked best for me, director Andreas Marschall's Alraune. In fact I'd have loved to see this as a feature film in its own right, I enjoyed it so much. We follow a charismatic male lead in the shape of Eden, who meets a young girl after a falling out with his wife and is immediately and almost uncontrollably drawn to her. What follows from there is part nightmare, part erotica and part fairy tale and Eden is drawn deep into a secret society he simply has no understanding of and that will impact his life in ways that he cannot imagine. The confessional tone works well throughout, and the acting is very good all around in this piece. A little dig around and you can find this one is based on an old German myth (and subsequently a 1911 German novel) and it has that feel to it, with a more extreme edge, which is fairly little seen.
RATING: 9.5/10. To be honest, if you don't like these sort of montage or portmanteau type pieces, then German Angst is probably not going to be for you. For me, as someone who rather enjoys a short film, this one was something of a treat. Each is different in its own way, and as per the advertising does have its own uniquely German feel or connection. The veteran Jorg Buttgeriet kicks things off in solid fashion, but Andreas Marschall is the star of the show in closing the movie – I feel like Alraune will stay with me for a long time. I'd happily welcome a sequel, or even a TV series (Netflix, could you get on that for me? Thanks!) to see more of this sort of thing – there are still plenty of hugely talented directors in Germany to consider getting involved. Overall, this one is  very nicely produced and offers plenty of variety throughout for a very strong 9.5/10.
<![CDATA[EAT THE SCHOOLGIRL: OSAKA TELEPHONE CLUB, DIR. NAOYUKI TOMOMATSU]]>Thu, 02 Mar 2017 05:19:53 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/film-gutter/eat-the-schoolgirl-osaka-telephone-club-dir-naoyuki-tomomatsuBY ALEX DAVIS 

Come on in, the water's confusing...

Dir. Naoyuki Tomomatsu, Japan, 60 mins
Welcome back to Film Gutter, and today's movie came with the sort of bonkers title that I simply couldn't resist checking out. Japanese cinema can have a propensity for being fairly on the nose with the names of its films, but the significance of this one is simply lost on me. There was some phone sex, which I suppose explains the latter part of the moniker, and maybe one of the girls featured was a schoolgirl, although if that was the case it certainly passed me by. But if the sole function of a title is to grab a viewer, then I suppose it was job done...

Anyway, away from such ridiculous semantics and onto the content of the actual movie! This one follows two young men who work for the Yakuza, obviously a pretty dubious line of work before you say anything else, but add in the fact their work is basically to help create snuff films and you're on an even darker road. Even worse, the two of them both have a strange sexual quirk – one can only get off on phone sex while the other is aroused by the sight of dead bodies. So when you throw all that into the pot you should have a pretty unpleasant end product. Right?
Hmm... yes and no. This film is a very strange melange, a series of scenes that it's often hard to detect any strong connection between. There are some very dark montage scenes of bloody murder, one notably unpleasant scene in which one of the snuff films is being created – with what (I think and hope) is a fake enema scene. There's also a double rape that isn't quite hardcore pornography but leaves little to the imagination. Finally, there's a pretty grisly murder towards the end of the movie, and some of the sexual content is pretty off centre.
Ultimately it does have some of the problems that Japanese cinema of the time has – these kind of 90's Japanese splatter features are often near incomprehensible, and have paper-thin plots that are basically more justifications for violence and sexual violence. At least this one has a semblance of plot, unlike numerous others I could name – the flat out torture porn of Guinea Pig 1, Guinea Pig 2 and Tumbling Doll of Flesh well among them – but it's slim at best. I suppose at the time this kind of gore and torture was far more extreme and cutting edge, but many of the features from this era don't seem to have dated well to me. That's not even to say it's just effects, but something more about style, approach and generally the degree of thought that goes into them. There's something that ultimately feels lazy and exploitative – the poor characterisation makes even the most gratuitous acts on display little but macabre spectacle, not really something that rocks you or shakes you the core the way it probably should. I'm certainly not trying to be deliberately unfair, but these were early days for this kind of film-making and the 2000s and beyond have bought far better as this subgenre has grown. Without movies like this we would never have had the likes of Audition – and that's a movie I would have hated to have missed out on.
RATING: 4/10. It's a strange experience watching some of these Japanese splatter movies, as the seem to almost have come from a time capsule and only really reflect a pretty short period in time and in film-making. This one has some interesting visuals, for sure, and if you're a real fan of disturbing content then this one should keep you watching for an hour. But it's not one likely to live long in the memory – there's not enough by way of characterisation, plot or genuine intelligence to really make the sort of impact it could. If you're a fan of these kinds of movies, you'll probably be happy enough, but if you like extreme horror more generally I'd say give this one a miss.

<![CDATA[RAMPAGE: PRESIDENT DOWN (2016)Dir. Uwe Boll,]]>Thu, 02 Mar 2017 05:08:40 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/film-gutter/rampage-president-down-2016dir-uwe-bollBY ALEX DAVIS 

Come on in, the water's conclusive...

Dir. Uwe Boll,
Canada, 99 mins
Last year I had the pleasure of interviewing Uwe Boll, shortly after the release of Anger of the Dead, and one of the things that I was very keen to talk about were the two Rampage movies to date. Both were pretty good, in my opinion – I felt that both had a certain charged political power and energy that came through in the lead character, Bill Williamson, ably played by Brendan Fletcher. In fact having by choice dodged Boll's video game adaptations (as I would anybody's video game adaptations – the medium does not have a good record) I have a pretty decent impression of his work as a director.
Given all of the above, it was hard not to already be fascinated with a third part to a trilogy about a man trying to bring down the established world order by any means necessary. But the plot thickened in this one for two reasons – first up, Boll announced this would be his final film as a director, in part fuelled by an unsuccessful Kickstarter campaign and of course that video... you know, the one in which he told Hollywood and film viewers to basically go f*** themselves?
Say what you will about his output – and many critics have said plenty – Boll is a larger-than-life character that I think the film industry will miss in time. He has fans and viewers – he wouldn't have such a long back catalogue if he didn't – and aforementioned critics will no doubt have to find someone else to poke fun at. Not that Boll has ever backed down from bad reviews or negative opinion in the slightest – his stand on his work is forthright, often bombastic, going as far as to challenge critics to boxing matches (and win many of them). He is a singular character in a cinematic world that desperately needs unique characters, and I'll admit right here, right now I'm sorry to see the man retire.
And I would love nothing more than to say this one ends that career on a high note. Sadly, I'd be lying to tell you that's the case. President Down certainly has some of the assets that made the first two movies work, but there's a sense that the film drifts along slightly and maybe – just maybe – given all that had come before, that the director's heart may not have been completely in it. With that said, the ending works very well and is a suitable way to round off a trilogy that I overall did enjoy.
This time we find Bill in his characteristic position of hiding out, this time in the middle of the woods. He has a partner and a child now, which for me slightly softens him and takes away from what had made him work so well previously as a character. All the bluster and diatribe is still there, but it doesn't quite have the sound and fury it held in its predecessors. We are told – rather then being shown, oddly – that Bill has gone out and shot the President, Vice President and Secretary of Defence. That's some serious business, and while the FBI and the three agents therewith we follow look to pin it in terrorists, they eventually figure out Bill was behind it and look to seek him out in his forest lair.
The downside of all that? It takes practically an hour before we get to the serious action of the movie. Prior to that it's a pretty slow and rickety FBI investigation by three fairly bland characters, some bits of Bill's domestic bliss, and much more of his preparation for what he feels will be his final confrontation with the authorities. It takes a long time to really go anywhere, and not that what we see is tedious, but you are kind of itching for something bigger and better to be going on given the action-oriented nature of the first two movies. Very possibly the aim was to deliver something more thoughtful, find out more about what our main character is truly about beyond the 'bring down the system/kill the rich' rhetoric. But I can't help but wonder if earlier in the trilogy would have been the time for that...
As I say, the ending is fairly redemptive, as we see Bill finally meet his end in a scene that isn't overplayed, there's a fine video from Bill to his child (for them to watch when they grow up) and the unexpected conclusion of Bill's death finally bringing about the kind of revolution he has always craved. Everybody loves a martyr and Bill Williamson is just that to his own cause. So the last 15-20 minutes are pretty satisfying, and do leave us on a good note after a pretty steady first hour.
Is it classic? No. Is it the best of the three? No again. It feels a little aimless, and perhaps could have been tighter at a shorter runtime or with more plot developments seeded into the first half. But the closing section is everything I would have wanted as a viewer and fan of the first two, and for that I'm willing to forgive it some flaws.
RATING: 5.5/10. If you haven't watched the first two movies, some of this third part might well be pretty lost on you – I can't see it really functioning as a stand-alone. It needs you to be aware and to care, which those who have watched the whole trilogy may well do. Yes, it drags a little, and maybe there's a sense of the fire and the incandescence that infused Parts 1 and 2 has been slightly lost in the circumstances surrounding this one. But the ending left me happy and basically did everything I would have hoped for, and left me ultimately feeling satisfied. So it's a fair enough farewell at 5.5/10.
I'm sure almost every horror fan out there will have a Uwe Boll story of some kind – something they hated, something they loved, something that shocked them – and never for a moment was it dull. So long, Uwe, and thanks for the memories...

<![CDATA[IRREVERSIBLE (2002)]]>Thu, 23 Feb 2017 05:06:01 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/film-gutter/irreversible-2002by Alex Davis 


Dir. Gaspar Noe,
France, 97 mins

As a reviewer, there are of course movies that you’ve seen before that you have to revisit in order to provide a proper review. Many reviewers would probably look forward to that, but when you dive into extreme cinema there are less fond memories and sense of nostalgia than I expect would be the case elsewhere. Often you actively dread coming back. Admittedly, some lose their impact a second time around – A Serbian Film felt like a very notable example, coming off a little silly once that initial shock value has worn off. Some are not quite as bad as you recall, but still have an effect on the rewatch. A handful literally lose nothing in the intervening time – and Irreversible has lost nothing of its crunch fifteen years on from its initial release.
It’s a notable movie personally for a number of reasons – it was my first taste of the movement that was becoming known as the New French Extremity, a basically random hire from Blockbuster long back in the day. It stars a couple of my favourite actors in Vincent Cassel – who for me is never less than brilliant – and Monica Bellucci. It’s also the only film I can think of to be told entirely in reverse – we enter at the end of the story, the 13th scene of 13, and the story rewinds through one scene after another back to what is effectively the start of the movie. It’s a very unusual effect but it is brilliantly deployed here, as we open with the brutality would typically have marked the latter part of the story before going back to explore the characters and the sour revelation that we see in the film’s final moments.

Beyond all those points, it is both brilliant and absolutely gut-wrenching. Having concluded my rewatch, I really had to pick up my sunken spirits to get on with the rest of my day.

We open with Marcus and Pierre being arrested, followed (preceded) by the two of them frantically searching through a gay club looking for a man known as ‘Le Tenia’. We don’t know what that is at this stage, but the pursuit ends in brutal violence as Marcus suffers an attempted rape before Pierre leaps to his defence by crushing his would-be attacker’s skull with a fire extinguisher. The music, sound and visuals all make this a hugely striking opening that you simply couldn’t ignore even if you tried to.

And then we find out their motivation, and it’s impossible to talk about Irreversible without talking about that scene. We see Alex – played by Monica Bellucci – coming down a pedestrian underpass where a seedy character is beating up a prostitute. This is Le Tenia – who soon turns his depraved attention to Alex. This rape scene remains one of the most heart-breaking in cinema history – simply because the camera doesn’t move. You can sit there as long as you like, thinking, hoping, begging the thing to shift – but it doesn’t. And we catch every word of Le Tania’s verbal assault as well as the brutality of his sexual assault and the violent attack that follows. It’s one of those scenes that’s so intense that it’s hard to picture how it was shot or performed.

From there – thankfully – things do settle down a bit as we track back through their evening and finally get some insight into the characters, which ultimately only serves to make the violence and abuse that comes at the start of the movie even more shocking as the context is added. It’s a device that could have felt gimmicky but in this instance works superbly. Even the DVD box I have is basically backwards to what you would normally expect.

Irreversible sits in that rare position of being both extreme but also, in some sense, mainstream – generally critically acclaimed, nominated for Best Film at Cannes, starring significant names in the field – in a way that few others films can. Antichrist I suppose comes close, but for me Irreversible has left even more of an impression in cinema. With powerful performances, genuinely shocking scenes, a surprising narrative structure that gradually unravels the mystery of the early scenes and a fascinating and transfixing visual style, there’s almost nothing not to like from the extreme cinema perspective. However, it remains a brutally hard watch and genuinely one for the strong of stomach and resolve.

RATING: 10/10. So much of this movie, even fifteen years on, has truly stick with me and it was every bit as punchy on a second watch. Brace yourself for an assault on the sense for the first forty-five minutes before being wrong-footed in the second half. Artistically brilliant and emotionally affecting, I’m delighted to give this a 10/10.

<![CDATA[FILM GUTTER REVIEWS: LUNA DE MIEL (2015)]]>Thu, 16 Feb 2017 17:21:16 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/film-gutter/film-gutter-reviews-luna-de-miel-2015BY ALEX DAVIS 

Come on in, the water's just lovely...

Dir. Diego Cohen, Mexico, 96 mins

Ah, Valentine's Day. The perfect time for romance. Of course I type this sitting at home on my own (all together... aaahhhhh....) having just taken on Film Gutter's Valentine's viewing, Luna De Miel. This is a movie I remember spying the trailer for a while back, and liking the look of, but I do have rather a bad habit of losing track of release dates and so forth. Plus I watch a great number of trailers. Anyway, cut a long story short, this one suddenly popped up on Netflix and, inspired by the love in the air, I thought this one would be a good shout for this week's Film Gutter....
So, the story follows a respectable doctor type, Jorge Toledo, a shy young man who has a crush on one of the joggers in his neighbourhood. That's about where the classic romantic elements end, as we see Jorge shopping for a number of rather alarming items and putting together something sinister-looking. It's not long before he jabs his love interest with a needle, bundles her into the boot of his car and drives off. When she comes to, she's tied to a chair and restrained with Jorge proclaiming his love for her.
You may have gathered from what's come already that there's nothing wildly revelatory. The idea of a man kidnapping a woman in an effort to make her ultimately love him is anything but new territory. With that said, there are a few nice flourishes in here – including some pretty original torture methods that I've never seen in a movie before – and Hektor Kotsifakis is actually great in the lead male role of Jorge. So much of the time he has such a sweet and friendly facade, but when he flips he turns nasty extremely quickly and is willing to go a long way to get what he wants. It's a great performance that lifts that movie about some of the similar fare. The film is shot nicely, with some strong visual images and framing too.
With that said, there are plenty of things that were slightly frustrating. The music throughout is pretty obtrusive and obnoxious, and it's certainly benefit from bringing the volume down a bit so that it doesn't get in the way of the film so much. Equally there are a couple of points in the story that are slightly silly, including an infuriating finale that left me rather turned cold. It's hard to say Luna De Miel does much that's new, but generally it does the tropes and the subgenre pretty well. It's solid rather than spectacular, and another decent entry into the horror pantheon from Mexico – a country that is bringing more and more to the field in recent times.
RATING: 6/10. A decent entry into the 'kidnap and torture' subgenre, made all the better by two good performances from the double-hander leads and some fairly original moments in there. But it's not breaking new ground in what it does, and doesn't really give us an awful lot about the characters to really stick our teeth in to. It's not a bad while to while away an hour and a half, but if you wanted something top-draw in this field you may be better to go for something like Scrapbook. Overall it's a 6/10.
<![CDATA[FILM GUTTER REVIEWS: H6 DIARY OF A SERIAL KILLER ]]>Thu, 26 Jan 2017 02:54:01 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/film-gutter/film-gutter-reviews-h6-diary-of-a-serial-killer

​H6: Diary of a Serial Killer (Diario de un asesino) (2005)

Dir. Martin Garrido Baron, Spain, 92 mins

Ah, Christmas. That time of year when everyone exchanges fabulous gifts to warm the heart and brighten the spirit. Hmm. Well, in the Davis household that may not be 100% true, because Santa decided to bring me a copy of the Spanish horror movie H6: Diary of a Serial Killer. And there was not a lot of joy or goodwill contained in that particular gift, even for someone who absolutely loves Spanish cinema. Maybe I was on the naughty list after all?
Anyway, festive ramblings aside, H6 follows the story of Antonio Frau who, as a young man, in a very voyeuristic opening, kills his girlfriend. It really looks like we are watching the whole thing unfold through a spyhole and it's a pretty uncomfortable first five minutes for sure. However, the main thread of the story takes place 25 years later, when Antonio is released back into the wider world from prison to discover he has inherited a run-down old guesthouse from a distant aunt. It's a pretty valuable piece of real estate, despite its decrepit state, but he has no intention of selling it on – oh no, his plans are entirely different. Inspired by a long-dead French serial killer who made a detailed diary of all his victims, Antonio decides to turn the guesthouse into his own paradise of murder and mayhem.
There's not really much of an explanation of his motive beyond that – something fairly unclear about cleansing the women of the street that inhabit the area around the guesthouse – and if there's a thing that holds this movie it's that real paucity of plot. Antonio is married, but there never seems to be any genuine threat of her finding out about his nefarious activities – he carries out most of his grisly misdeeds while she is working night shifts as a nurse – and it's only in the last half-hour that we even introduce a police character who might actually find him out. For the most part it's a slightly drifty tale of a lunatic loner who brings in the prostitutes of the area with grand promises before tying them down, raping them and then starving them before carving them to pieces with a chainsaw. There are plenty of sinister moments and, although it's not as graphic or as hard to watch as some of the entries we have watched over the last two years of the series, there's plenty of unpleasantness implied alongside what is seen.
What does go a long way towards redeeming the movie is the performances, which all around are very good. Fernando Acaso is brilliantly sinister in the lead role, and even the performances from is victims – of which we only really encounter three in any depth – are also very good, lifting them from the usual cardboard cut-outs we see in horror. The visuals are interesting, and the diary concept is nicely delivered – although was done better in Eric Stanze's hypnotic Scrapbook. The ending is also a little frustrating, which I am knocking off another mark for.
So, H6 is a movie with a somewhat familiar concept, and a somewhat slim plot, but it is certainly lifted up by some good direction and strong central performances. It's very watchable, and will keep you watching keenly for its 90 minute runtime, but it's hard to say it treads new ground or breaks down any cinematic boundaries. Ultimately, what this movie does is provide a good example of this particular subgenre, and is ultimately worth a look for those of you that enjoy serial killer movies.
RATING: 7/10. There was potential for this one to rank a bit higher, particularly if we had a better motive to our killer or a bit more threat of him actually getting caught, but there's certainly that sheen of quality to it in terms of production and acting that Spanish cinema so often has that makes it a worthwhile entry into the pantheon of serial killer movies. All told, it's a very solid 7/10 for this one. 
<![CDATA[THE CORPSE OF ANNA FRITZ (EL CADAVER DE ANNA FRITZ) (2015)]]>Sun, 08 Jan 2017 04:05:51 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/film-gutter/the-corpse-of-anna-fritz-el-cadaver-de-anna-fritz-2015Film Gutter Reviews by Alex Davis 

The Corpse of Anna Fritz (El Cadaver de Anna Fritz) (2015)

Dir. Hector Hernandez Vicens, Spain, 76 mins

Make no mistakes – Spain is absolutely one of my absolute favourite patches of cinema. Some of my very favourite films – including the likes of The Orphanage and In a Glass Cage – have emerged from the nation. So having just signed up as a member at Shudder I was pretty pleased to see a few new and newish Spanish films, among them The Corpse of Anna Fritz. In my mind I had this a little confused with The Body – another movie well worth a look – but once I had finally established that this was a different film entirely, I thought this one was well worth a look. It had the Film Gutter feel from the title alone – and lived up to that, at least to some extent.
So, we begin our story in the morgue of a hospital with the cadaver of the aforementioned Anna Fritz being rolled in. As a huge international film star, her whereabouts in death are kept secret – but one of the morgue attendants, Pau, simply can't help telling (nay, bragging) to his friends about the body's presence there. So much so that he does down to show his mates – one of whom, Ivan, insists on taking his chance to have sex with the dead body. Pau even goes on to admit that he's done it before – pretty remarkable scenes all round. The third friend, Javi, is horrified by this particular discussion, which leads to a disagreement and his unfortunate death. To further complicate matters, as Pau takes his 'turn' after Ivan, Anna Fritz wakes up – still barely able to move or speak, but umistakably alive all of a sudden.
Now, I would say that, for me, that set-up was kind of a stretch – for two of three men to take the decision to have sex with a dead body, albeit a very famous one, is something you might just have to live with as an idea if you want to enjoy this movie. The necrophilia itself is not shown in the same detail as Aftermath – another Spanish film – but it's pretty clear what's going on. The question that comes after that central conceit is what to do with the body of Javi, and also the slowly awakening Anna Fritz – who could ruin both their lives with her testimonies of the murder and the abuse of her corpse. What follows is a taut and tense thriller, probably aided by its relatively short running time of 76 minutes in keeping things sharp and to the point. The unease between friends Ivan and Pau is very much evident throughout, threatening to explode on many occasions, and the plight of Anna herself – able to move only very barely – looks increasingly desperate as the movie wears on. The ending is simple but clever enough, the performances are generally pretty good and it did keep my attention all the way through. With all that said, the very idea at the heart of the movie requires a certain amount of suspension if disbelief, and it doesn't truly have the disturbingness or real impact of many of its cinematic compatriots.
RATING: 7/10. Probably unfair to expect this one to live up to some of the very best of Spanish cinema – the bar is set pretty damn high – but this was certainly a decent enough thriller that kept me wrapped up and brought some distinctly uncomfortable moment all the way through. If you're a fan of cinema from the area, or just like a slightly unsettling thriller, then The Corpse of Anna Fritz could be worth a look for you. Not unmissable but a worthwhile viewing experience.
<![CDATA[FILM GUTTER REVIEWS: BITE (2015) ]]>Thu, 05 Jan 2017 04:08:43 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/film-gutter/film-gutter-reviews-bite-2015by Alex Davis 
Come on in, the water's teeming...

BITE (2015) Dir. Chad Archibald, Canada, 88 mins

Now, regular readers round these parts will know that if there's one patch of horror that affects me more than anything, it's body horror. Thanatomorphose remains one of Film Gutter's hardest watches on a personal level, and movies the likes of Contracted were no picnic either. Which brings us to Bite, a more recent entry in that subgenre that first came to my attention with reports of people fainting in the cinema at first festival screenings. That's not something entirely unheard of – it's no doubt a great marketing ploy, and something the laughable Green Inferno also tried to employ in the lead-up to the movie's release. But even taking that sort of thing with a pinch of salt – I mean, has anyone ever fainted just watching a movie, really? – I was excited if not a little nervous to be checking out Bite.
And it turns out the nerves were not necessary at all. In fact, for that matter, neither was the excitement.
So, Bite follows a young lady called Casey who is set to be married. We join her on her final trip as as a 'single' woman, with a bunch of disposable characters who are apparently her friends – despite some very dubious actions during and after the holiday. At an obscure waterfall somewhere the group go for a dip, and Casey is bitten by some sort of insect. From there we spin into a typical body horror tale – Casey goes home, the bite becomes infected, and then the symptoms become worse and worse as time goes on, with Casey withdrawing from friends, family and even her husband-to-be in effectively becoming a kind of queen insect.
I use the term 'typical body horror tale' because this one feels like it treads very safe ground and never goes or anything exceptional or even terribly interesting. It follows all the beats of the movies I mentioned above – Thanatomorphose and Contracted – but simply doesn't have the effect, the impact, the raw crunch of either of those movies. There's lots of reasons for that – Casey is absolutely not a likeable lead, coming across as an unequivocally whiny brat totally unable to take on the real world. Her husband is weirdly obsessed with having a baby – honestly, I've never known any man so keen on having kids – and we never really find out anything about him besides that. Her friends – if they can even be called – are equally hard to muster any inch of care about or interest in. But a lot comes down to the limitations of Casey as a character and equally the limitations of all of the actors involved.
Maybe it's a formula I'm becoming a bit jaded with, to boot, but this is the worst example of this patch of horror that I've seen to date. It's lazy, gross-out (or should I say attempted gross-out) horror filmmaking at its very worst that was genuinely a labour to get through, despite running at less than an hour and a half. I had given up caring somewhere about half an hour in, which makes any of the horrible events happening to any of the characters basically irrelevant. There are many better exemplars of body horror out there, so unless you've seen most of them already I'd say this is one you could probably give a miss.
RATING: 2/10. Body horror is a genre that certainly has its tropes, and often the transformations featured follow a familiar type of pattern. So there's not really any place to hide if you're going to take a crack at it, and the bottom line is that Bite falls short in almost every respect. With unlikeable characters, acting ranging from poor to very poor, effects that are decent but nothing above and a storyline that just feels a bit silly too many times, this one was no doubt pitching to be one of the grossest horror films of the year and failed in that respect also. So, it can only be a biting 2/10 from me.
<![CDATA[FILM GUTTER: WE ARE THE FLESH ]]>Thu, 29 Dec 2016 17:01:27 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/film-gutter/film-gutter-we-are-the-fleshFilm Gutter
Come on in, the water's baffling...
We Are The Flesh (Tenemos Le Carne) Dir. Emiliano Rocha Minter, Mexico/France, 79 mins
We Are The Flesh (Tenemos Le Carne) Dir. Emiliano Rocha Minter, Mexico/France, 79 mins
Having seen the trailer for this independent Mexican production some time back, I was very curious to get around to watching it. Even better, I was able to go and see this one at QUAD in my home town of Derby on the big screen to get the full impact of this artistic, psychedelic and disturbing production. Mexican cinema is something I have always enjoyed a great deal, so I was certainly approaching this one with high expectations.
Honestly, after watching the trailer I couldn't really have told you what it was all about, and I must admit I can still say the same having watched the movie.
So, We Are The Flesh follows Mariano, who lives alone in a post-apocalyptic wasteland and scrapes by for food and drink by swapping things he can make with some unseen, underground individuals whom he trades with via a grate in the floor. Into this scene enter a brother and sister looking for some safety from whatever unnamed trouble lies outside – we never really see anything of the outside world, focusing in on the abandoned warehouse that the three of them make home. However the cost of food and a roof over their head is the lascivious nature and inexecrably strange outlook of their host and soon to be mentor Mariano. In this lead role Noe Hernandez is extraordinary, totally committed to the insanity of his protagonist – it's a role I doubt that many actors could have delivered so well.
What follows is... well... I honestly struggle for words to describe it. On one level I'm fairly sure it's a tale of rebirth, although being spat out of a huge cardboard womb and dreaming of a pregnant ten year old are pretty odd ways to represent it. Mariano certainly goes through this process and, if my interpretation of the movie is correct, then so do the brother and sister too. Then there's also the overt sexual element to the story – a lot of the imagery is extremely explicit, to the point of pornographic, and includes some graphic incest and a wee dabble of necrophilia to boot. There's also a smattering of body fluids, murder, masturbation and an ending so bizarre I totally struggle for words. I mean absolutely surreal, and something that will have you pondering aplenty on finishing up.
Now, I don't mind complex, or experimental, or multi-layered. But part of me thinks this one didn't quite give you enough to go on. Maybe a second watch would help – time will tell whether I decide to expend the time and energy to make that happen. There's also a few issues with pacing, and the characterisation of the younger characters in the movie are a bit light. Ultimately I can't help but feels there's a bit of style over substance here – yes, it's nice style, and it's certainly both interesting and different, but what is there truly laying at the heart of this movie? The startling visuals will probably be enough to keep you in your seat, but you might end up feeling a little short-changed when you come to really consider just what it was all about.
RATING: 6/10. A movie I was certainly ready to love, but couldn't quite bring myself to do. Certainly plenty of Film Gutter favourites crammed into the relatively short running time here, and a disturbing and powerful performance from Noe Hernandez in the role of Mariano, but none of that is quite enough to save this one from feeling a little too clever for its own good. It's a bizarre cinemascape for sure, and worth a watch, but unlikely to go down as an extreme horror classic.