Sunday, 26 March 2017
Thursday, 16 March 2017
I can't believe I've come this far without so much as a mention of one of my fave movies of the last 10 years: Pete Travis and Alex Garland's DREDD. A perfect blend of classic Carpenter and Verhoeven, efficiently packaged in an ultra-violent and meticulously designed hand grenade of sci-fi cool. It's a fantastic film, and I long ago lost count of how many times I've rewatched it.
Vitalic's "Poison Lips" - which plays over the top of the scene in which Judges Dredd and Anderson bust a Slo-Mo den with spectacularly violent results - has become an iconic track for DREDD's fans. These cold, druggy sounds really nail the hopelessness and nihilism of life on the streets and in the towering slums of Mega-City One.
Saturday, 11 March 2017
Provocative. Uncompromising. Disturbing. Beautiful. All perfect descriptors for Julia Ducournau's incredibly assured feature debut. Living up to the festival hype that precedes it (if not the stories of audience members fainting and vomiting), RAW is the true spiritual successor to the brief but intense wave of outstanding French horror that began in 2002 with Éric Valette's MALEFIQUE, and culminated almost a decade later with Maury and Bustillo's LIVIDE. And if you're wondering, yes, this film is right up there with the very best of that decade - INSIDE and MARTYRS (in terms of its quality, not its gore).
Justine (a tour de force performance from 19-year-old Garance Marillier) is the youngest child from a family of gifted veterinarians, and as RAW opens, we see that she is the latest prodigy from that family to attend the university that has been their traditional training ground and rite of passage. Not only does she bear the weighty responsibility of living up to her family's record of excellence, but she must now face the same week of brutal and degrading hazing that her parents and older sister endured before her. When one of the hazing rituals forces her to betray her staunch vegetarian values for the sake of acceptance in the herd, Justine is sent hurtling down a dark and uncertain path on which she seems to have little control.
Cannibalism in horror has proven to be an effective subtextual device, and here the flesh that is consumed - both animal and human - is a blatant metaphor for teenage sexual awakening and risk-taking experimentation. We see Justine emerge from the innocence of her earnest vegetarianism to discover that she has a voracious and primal appetite for meat, a desire that becomes so all-consuming and carnal, that it leads her to follow her desires to the most dangerous and taboo extremes. The meat in RAW is very much the Flesh of David Cronenberg's early films, and here, as seen through a uniquely feminist eye, the Flesh is literally a metaphor for the New: new experiences, new ideas and new self-identity.
The prosthetics in RAW are next-level excellent, I would say a touch more realistic than those seen in GREEN ROOM last year. Wounds and body parts here don't look latexy at all, they look real. There's an autopsy involving a dog that I really hope the eventual blu-ray delves into, because I have no fucking clue how it was achieved, such is the degree of realism. So, yeah, don't expect MARTYRS levels of gore, but what you do get is top-notch fx work.
To be honest, with the exception of one pivotal scene of cannibalism, RAW's most powerful moments aren't to be found amongst its copious scenes of sex and violence. Rather, an early sequence that puts the viewer right in the steamy chaos of a debauched campus party, and a stunning scene involving the sedation of a horse are the real show-stoppers here.
This is one of those debuts that heralds the arrival of an impressive new talent on the scene. RAW is an instant Euro-horror classic, not to be missed on the big screen, and I'm fairly certain that Julia Ducournau is a name that we'll be hearing a lot more in the future.
Art for Mondo's OST release by Candice Tripp:
Thursday, 9 March 2017
I'm seeing Julia Ducournau's RAW at Monster Fest tonight. Lots of hype, so my expectations are running high for this one. From what I've heard, I'm feeling pretty confident that Ducournau's debut will satiate my art/horror cravings. I'm also in love with the main-title theme that Mondo dropped this week in support of their OST release. Classic Euro-horror sounds right here.
Monday, 27 February 2017
Just a month after the death of the Executive Officer of the Nostromo, today we farewell a crew member of the USS Sulaco, Private First Class William Hudson.
Although almost exclusively a supporting actor, Bill Paxton really was a titan of genre cinema. He was after all the only actor ever to be killed by a Terminator, an Alien and a Predator.
He began his career toiling behind the scenes for Roger Corman's New World Pictures, in between picking up roles and bit parts in the likes of 1983's MORTUARY and Walter Hill's STREETS OF FIRE. During this time, while working as a set decorator on GALAXY OF TERROR, Paxton befriended a young production designer by the name of James Cameron. A few years later Cameron cast his friend as a switchblade wielding punk in THE TERMINATOR, and the rest, as they say, is history. As well as his continuing work with Cameron, and memorable roles for John Hughes, Kathryn Bigelow and Sam Raimi, Paxton ventured behind the camera himself in 2001, to direct the critically acclaimed FRAILTY.
A SIMPLE PLAN
EDGE OF TOMORROW
Wednesday, 22 February 2017
This week a couple of trailers and new posters emerged for Steven Kostanski and Jeremy Gillespie's upcoming THE VOID, a Lovecraftian indie that I covered a lot last year, including this interview with FX wizard Kostanski. This is the only crowdfunding project that I've ever participated in (they needed to raise money for the extensive practical effects), and I have a feeling the $80,000 they raised (from a 50,000 goal) went to very good use indeed. Can't wait for this to hit blu!