We thought we’d start a monthly(ish) series where we reflect on recently watched films that have had a significant impact on us, whether they be mind-blowingly brilliant or so god-awful that we just can’t help but blather on about it. So here’s volume one, so to speak. Recap! Rewind! Redux!
As always, we welcome any and all feedback. firstname.lastname@example.org
Lesson of the Evil (Takashi Miike, 2012) – After a several year dry spell (at least as far as horror goes), Takashi Miike (Audition, Ichi the Killer) is back with a vengeance with this violent tale of a teacher who solves a school’s behavior issues by going on a shooting rampage. It’s a bit of a slow burn and initially I was concerned because a lot of the violence in the first half of the film or so is either obscured or off screen. But I was a fool to doubt, as this has one of the longest, most intense school shooting segments I have ever witnessed. I loved the shit out of this and can’t wait to see the sequel. Essential.Blue Ruin (Jeremy Saulnier, 2013) – A haunting revenge tale with shocking violence and a minimalist aesthetic made this a delight to experience. Volatile, unflinching, and frank, Blue Ruin is one of those films that demands your attention. With this, Saulnier has proven that he’s someone to keep an eye on; let’s hope his next feature, Green Room, packs as much of a punch.
Dead Man’s Shoes (Shane Meadows, 2004) – As if Blue Ruin wasn’t enough, here’s some more bleakness – this time from the UK. A fellow returns home from a stint in the military to take revenge on a group of scofflaws who abused his mentally challenged brother. It’s not excessively graphic, but the film more than makes up for that with sheer intensity and a vitriol that’s rarely been captured this effectively. This is some savagely depressing fare, and you’ll feel like a different person after watching it. Works of art like this serve to remind me why I adore film so much.
The Italian Connection (Fernando Di Leo, 1972) – The second film in Di Leo’s Milieu Trilogy. In this entertaining crime outing, two hitmen are sent to hunt down a pimp who is thought to have stolen a shipment of heroin from a Mafia Don. I’ve read that Quentin Tarantino may have ripped this off when he shat out Pulp Fiction, but to be honest the only real similarity I could see was that the assassins are one black and one white guy. Stone-faced Henry Silva (Chained Heat, The Manchurian Candidate) makes one hell of an effective hit man, and Mario Adorf (The Bird With the Crystal Plumage, Short Night of Glass Dolls) is an absolute blast to watch as the pimp on the run. The Italian Connection is decent enough – lots of violence and naked sluts-a-plenty, but I wouldn’t say It’s one of the best Eurocrime films Italy has to offer. Worth checking out though if you’re a genre fan – it has definitely influenced a lot of later films.
Schizophreniac: The Whore Mangler (Ron Atkins, 1997) – How can you not be completely drawn in by that title alone? I’m normally not a fan of shot on video films because let’s face it – they’re usually garbage – but this is one of those rare exceptions. There’s no budget, horrendous FX, the acting is (mostly) terrible… but this film’s got a lot of heart. The level of misogyny alone is jaw-dropping. The plot centers around some deluded psycho who talks to a doll named “Rubberneck” that tells him to murder people (especially women, who are “all whores and need to be killed and then fucked in the ass”) – that is when he’s not pumping himself full of drugs or dressing in drag/jumping around naked with his chub flapping about. This shit needs to be seen to be believed. There’s necrophilia, rape, domestic abuse, murder, child abuse, more murder, scenes of psychedelic nonsense that will make your head spin… I can’t even adequately describe how seriously fucked up this film is. Despite all of its many shortcomings, Schizophreniac more than makes up for them with some serious balls. I’m gonna have to bump the sequel up in queue. Bring on Necromaniac: Schizophreniac 2 !
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