Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Herschell Gordon Lewis

The Godfather of Gore is dead. Long live the king of exploitation cinema!

Just before Lewis kicked off his directing career with 1961's LIVING VENUS, a cinematic experiment had been unfolding across the pond in England. During the second half of the 1950s, Hammer's earliest sci-fi and horror outings, as well as Arthur Crabtree's FIEND WITHOUT A FACE, were pushing the boundaries of graphic blood-letting (and testing the mettle of conservative censors).

Lewis immediately recognised the potential of this new form of exploitation, and it was right in the middle of his early flurry of nudie cuties that he unleashed BLOOD FEAST on the world. And with that, the future of horror and exploitation film was irrevocably changed. TWO THOUSAND MANIACS! and COLOR ME BLOOD RED would follow soon after. The rest, as they say, is history.

So raise a glass to Herschell Gordon Lewis, just as he is surely raising his tonight, with his old buddy David.

Saturday, 17 September 2016


Lou is a hopeless fuck up. Her nights are an endless blur of drugs, rock 'n' roll and sleazy partying. Her days are spent sleeping off the previous night's debauchery on a greasy couch in the ramshackle dump she calls home. That dump represents the only real stability in her life - a demountable left to her by her deceased father, situated in an old quarry on the outskirts of a nameless Michigan town. Her rent-free situation allows her to pour whatever paltry income she picks up (from the occasional cleaning shift at a local flea pit motel) into her one true passion: getting wasted and hanging out with her bestie, Sadie.

After a particularly brain destroying night partying in an abandoned factory, the monotony of Lou's lifestyle is interrupted by the sobering realisation that she may be pregnant. But despite her frequent drug and alcohol induced blackouts, Lou swears that she hasn't had sex in six months. As her phantom pregnancy progresses, things start to get weird... and very messy.

Danny Perez's ANTIBIRTH sees Natasha Lyonne and Chloë Sevigny reuniting for their second female-driven art/horror indie of the year. The first was Tara Subkoff's superior cyberbullying by way of Argento headtrip, #HORROR, and together the two films represent probably the most original and offbeat horrors of 2016.

However, where #HORROR was a more restrained (albeit frenetic) thriller, ANTIBIRTH is a gleeful celebration of deranged bad taste and gratuitous gross-outs. So much so in fact, that Perez's lean and mean little sickie feels like a feminist spiritual successor to STREET TRASH. Add to that a healthy dose of Henenlotter and Buddy Giovinazzo, a dash of early Cronenberg, stir in some of  Lynch's nightmarish druginess, and you get the picture.

The influence of Muro's seminal body-melt opus is strongly felt, not just in ANTIBIRTH's gore and goo, but also in its visuals, which are frequently a garish riot of neon colours. For its modest budget, this film is actually a real visual treat. The dingy Henenlotter-style sleaze is punctuated by a few moments of genuinely stunning psychedelia (particularly an extended sequence at about the halfway point), as well as some surprisingly beautiful cinematographic flourishes.

The real stars of ANTIBIRTH, however, are its lead actress and its delightfully nasty practical fx. Natasha Lyonne is completely captivating as the drug addled Lou, and I doubt the film would be half as strong without her unhinged, intense, bong-sucking performance. Lyonne is an actress that I've never really paid any attention to before, but she's definitely on my radar now.

As far as those fx go, get ready for a disgusting feast, topped by my favourite closing shot in a horror film for some time. That final shot* really sticks the landing, and will leave you wanting more from Danny Perez.

*Not spoiled here, don't worry.

Sunday, 11 September 2016


In the absence of that Ajax full length that I keep moaning about, at least I've got this filthy riff-monster of an EP from Warthog to satisfy my nagging NYHC craving. Ahhh, that's better.