Friday, 20 November 2015


It's a scorching 41 degrees (106 Fahrenheit) here today and I can't think straight, so I'll keep this short and to the point. This is the first of a series of posts taking a look at some recent alternative art inspired by the works of David Cronenberg. Not an exhaustive collection by any means, just a selection of my favourite alternative posters, recent home video and soundtrack covers, commissioned illustrations and fan art. Whether your kick is bug powder, the black meat or alcohol fueled teleportation, I'm sure you'll be able to find something to enjoy during the course of these posts.

Let's do this chronologically, starting with his earliest films up to and including The Brood. Try as I might, I couldn't really find anything for Stereo or Fast Company, so let's start with:


A suitably minimalist poster for Mondo by Jay Shaw


A trio of excellent poster redesigns by Silver Ferox

and an attractive cover for Arrow Video's recent Blu-ray


A nice likeness of Marilyn Chambers in this Mondo poster from Phantom City Creative

another skillfully composed Alt. poster from Silver Ferox

and Arrow's recent cover art


My favourite Ferox of this lot, a powerful and disturbing poster design

and the most impressive artwork of today's post, Sam Wolfe Connelly's gorgeous illustration for Mondo's The Brood/Scanners OST (and a related poster).

That's it for now, next time: SCANNERS

Sunday, 15 November 2015


The multi-talented S. Craig Zahler is somewhat of a Renaissance man. At 42 he's an award winning author, with works spanning various genres including westerns, science fiction and crime. He's received accolades for his novels from the likes of Larry Niven, Jack Ketchum and Joe R. Lansdale. The man is also an accomplished songwriter and musician, pounding the skins and singing in his Manilla Road-influenced metal band, Realmbuilder. Now this intriguing polymath can add "lauded feature filmmaker" to his growing list of achievements, as writer, director and composer of the fantastic Bone Tomahawk.

The plot of Zahler's debut western is archetypal - the old story of a posse of "doomed men", riding out into the badlands on a mission of rescue and revenge. However, hiding in that cliched premise there lurks a different beast entirely... and it's got teeth. The kind that like to rip into and devour human flesh.

Mashing up genres requires real finesse to pull off, resulting in any number of cinematic trainwrecks, but Zahler's fusion of western and horror in Bone Tomahawk is a thing of beauty. We've seen a few good examples before (Antonia Bird's Ravenous; J.T. Petty's The Burrowers), but I don't think it's ever been accomplished this seamlessly. There are moments and hints of the horror to come throughout the first part of the film, but when things shift gear into overt terror (at roughly the halfway point) the change in tone isn't jarring at all. The transition is so smooth because even in its purely western moments there's a constant sense of horror lurking just off-screen, as if the fragile security afforded the settler's by their flimsy walls and dim lights is perpetually threatened with destruction. Bone Tomahawk unapologetically revels in the ugly truth that the history of the American frontier is nothing if not absolutely horrific. In the tradition of westerns like Ralph Nelson's Soldier Blue, HBO's Deadwood and Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian, Zahler is refuting the lie, perpetuated by Hollywood, that the frontier was some kind of heroic and romantic adventure playground. Rather, it was a place of violence, suffering and despair. A place of genocide, rape and cruelty. 

Zahler must really have fans in high places, because his first feature boasts a fine ensemble cast. Obviously attracted to his excellent script (which has been accurately described elsewhere as sounding like a less profane Deadwood script), the film features an impressive pool of talent for such a low budget indie. The central cast of Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson, Richard Jenkins, Matthew Fox and Lili Simmons (bolstered by supporting appearances and cameos from Sid Haig, David Arquette and Blade Runner's Sean Young) were obviously all happy to go home from this with next to nothing in their pockets. With a production budget of less than 2 million, every cent of it is very visibly up on the screen in the form of extensive location shoots, quality sets and wardrobe, and some eye-popping practical fx work.

The entire cast turn in great performances, particularly The Cabin in the Woods' Richard Jenkins and fan favourite Kurt Russell. Jenkins completely disappears into his role of back-up deputy Chicory, a damaged but wise and sensitive old-timer who provides the film with its funniest and most poignant character moments. Russell also shines in his role of weary sheriff Franklin Hunt. Rather than directly channelling John Wayne, as he did in Tombstone and Big Trouble in Little China, Russell's performance here is understated and full of subtle nuance (his delivery here reminded me of MacReady in The Thing). I enjoyed Russell's Stuntman Mike in the middling Deathproof, but it's such a pleasure to once again see the man in a terrifically scripted role in a strong genre movie*. I can't wait to see him again this coming January in The Hateful Eight.

As to the horror in Bone Tomahawk, I was knocked flat on my ass. As it turns out I'd underestimated what was in store for me in the final act, and enjoyed the finale all the more for it. As such you'll get no spoilers here, and I recommend that you try to go in as blind as possible. Suffice it to say that as the wide open vistas of prairies and sunlit hills give way to the claustrophobic confines of a rocky gulch, things quickly get very dark. And fucking terrifying. Ironically, in the same year that Eli Roth's The Green Inferno failed to impress me**, this period western has provided me with precisely the Cannibal Holocaust inspired thrills that I was hoping to get from Roth's film. The last half hour of Bone Tomahawk delves deeply into Deodato territory (with a bit of Craven's and Aja's The Hills Have Eyes thrown in), and the results are spectacularly sickening. The violence is sudden, realistic and very matter of fact in the way it's shown. The fx are top notch, and there's one gag in particular that is so unflinchingly nasty and graphic that I had to pick my jaw up off the floor afterwards. Easily the gnarliest bit of grue I've witnessed in a long time, making this movie a must for discerning gorehounds. I'm going to repeat this to make it really clear, it's this movie, not Roth's, that is the true successor to Cannibal Holocaust this year.

With Iñárritu's The Revenant and Tarantino's The Hateful Eight just around the corner, this is a particularly exciting moment to be a western fan. But honestly both of those Oscar winners had better be at the top of their game to compete with this powerful, visceral little indie from a first time director. Bone Tomahawk is an instant classic and comes with my highest recommendation.

Now someone give Zahler 50 million bucks and Roger Deakins as cinematographer, to adapt Blood Meridian as a hardcore NC-17 epic (it'll never happen, but it's nice to dream).

*Russell's other great late career performance is as corrupt cop Eldon Perry in 2002's Dark Blue.

**The Green Inferno is Roth's weakest film by far, and nowhere near as good as this year's Knock Knock.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Phil Taylor

The Philthy Animal is gone.

One of the raddest drummers ever, he was the hammer that drove the Motör.

Friday, 6 November 2015

ATROZ: Violencia en El Defectuoso

Are you bored shitless of ghosts and zombies? Do you find yourself hurriedly scrolling past all the generic press releases announcing the next tired-sounding demonic possession flick or post-apocalyptic "thriller"? Are you ready for the next Martyrs or A Serbian Film to come along and knock you flat on your ass?

For those of us who crave something a bit more inflammatory, transgressive and dangerous then the usual horror fare, upcoming Mexican shocker Atroz may be just the fix we need. Earlier this week it had its first screening at Mexico's Morbido Film Fest, and the word over at Twitch is that Atroz is indeed the real deal. An uncompromising, stomach churning roughie, sure to send the censors into a frothing rage and milquetoasts everywhere running from theatres in disgust. With none other than Ruggero Deodato on board as associate producer, the film's promotional materials seem to be saying "you know exactly what you're getting here, enter at your own risk".

Atroz appears to be a grisly character-study of a vicious serial murderer who has been harvesting his victims from the mean streets of Mexico City, and in the tradition of films like Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer and Maniac, it graphically documents the killer's exploits from his own point of view. However, this time the sicko's atrocities are revealed during the course of a police interrogation, via a series of homemade snuff videos seized by the Federales at the time of his arrest.

The man behind this potentially explosive movie is one Lex Ortega, an experienced sound technician with numerous credits ranging from Iñárritu's 21 Grams to Adrián García Bogliano's Here Comes the Devil and Late Phases. Ortega's directorial credits include a number of shorts (including one that Atroz is expanded from) and a segment in Mexican horror anthology México Bárbaro (also out this year and featuring a segment from We Are What We Are's Jorge Michel Grau). 

It's pretty easy to decipher Ortega's intentions with Atroz. Rather than an unnecessarily gratuitous gorefest, the man is merely holding a mirror up to the horrors that beset his nation. Check out his entry for The ABCs of Death 26th director competition, which displays this same preoccupation with the grim reality of violence in Mexico.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

ZOMBI - Diffraction Zone

Here, have a tasty video for new Zombi track "Diffraction Zone", taken from their recently released Shape Shift LP. The vid was put together by uncle TNÜC and seems to have been custom made for me, as it features two of my favourite things: blob monsters and melt-movies. Enjoy some of the messier and randier moments from Creepshow 2 (The Raft), The Stuff, The Blob '88, Trick or Treat and Slumber Party Massacre II