Saturday, April 30, 2011

Indie Author Todd Russell Coming To Midnite Media

Indie horror author Todd Russell is embarking on a "Blog Tour" beginning May 1st to promote his new book of short stories entitled Mental Shrillness, and I'm proud to announce that he will be dropping by Midnite Media on Sunday May 8th.  On that day, I will post my review of the collection as well as a number of interview questions, which Mr. Russell will then answer in the comments section of the post.  What's more, he will be checking in throughout the day to interact with you the readers, so please drop by and say hello.

If you would like to read Mental Shrillness before the Q&A, you can purchase the ebook for only 99 Cents through Smashwords by clicking HERE.

He will be visiting a number of other great blogs along the way, so be sure to check out the itinerary!


Friday, April 29, 2011

Someone's Knocking at the Door (2009)

Someone's Knocking at the Door

Written & Directed by Chad Ferrin
Joe...Ricardo Gray
Meg...Andrea Rueda
Justin...Noah Segin
Sebastian...Jon Budinoff
John Hopper...Ezra Buzzington

When one of their (male) friends is found raped and murdered, five med school students find their worlds turned upside down.  The murder weapon?  According to the autopsy, a colon-perforating phallus approximately four inches in diameter and 15 inches in length.  A truly deadly dong, this is proof that bigger is not always better.

Revealed through flashbacks and psychotropic hallucinations, we learn of their ingestion of an experimental dug called Taldon, which had been used decades ago on campus in a series of tests and trials.  The original participants were John and Wilma Hopper, a pair of deranged sex maniacs whose infamous tagline "I'm gonna fuck you...fuck you till you die!" echoes throughout the entire film.  A lot of side-effects of the drug are listed, but one that they apparently forgot to report was the chance that this could pull the evil Hoppers into their lives, picking (fucking?) off their ranks one-by-one.

This project supposedly began as a standard slasher flick, but eventually morphed into the bloody, mindfuck that it became.  There is a decidedly surreal and hallucinatory slant on display here, like if David Lynch had remade Flatliners for Lloyd Kaufman, which keeps it visually interesting at least, even if the plotline shakes and wavers fairly often.  It occasionally loses focus, sometimes doesn't make much sense at all, and is vague regarding what is and is not real.  But that's par for the course on these types of films.

Someone's Knocking at the Door is part murder mystery, part body horror, part obscene (not erotic) thriller, and part drugsploitation film.  All of these parts comprise one very bizarre whole, the likes of which you have never experienced before.  That isn't to say that you're going to enjoy this--because there's a pretty decent chance that you won't--but if you've become jaded and think that you have seen everything before, well...there's bound to be a thing or three here that will surprise you.

Don't believe me?  Click HERE for a sample.  It may take you a moment to figure out what you're looking at...but you'll get it soon enough.  (WARNING:  NSFW)

In the end, I did enjoy this film for its graphic and extreme sensibilities.  Despite the flaws outlined above, it was a pretty fearless venture, and I have to respect it for that.  Worth a watch with a group of drunken and depraved buddies.  But stay off the shrooms unless you really want to blow your gourd.

80 Minutes
Not Rated
United States


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Satan's Little Helper (2004)

Satan's Little Helper

Written & Directed by Jeff Lieberman
Dougie...Alexander Brickel
Jenna...Katheryn Winnick
Alex...Stephen Graham
Merrill...Amanda Plummer


Dougie loves video games, he loves Halloween, and he loves candy.  He's just your typical kid...except for the fact that he wants to marry his older sister Jenna, and his biggest dream is meeting his mischievous dark master Satan.

Yep, he is a real Satan fan, this one.

Jenna returns home from College, exclusively to take young Dougie trick-or-treating, a family tradition that they both want to keep going.  But Dougie is none-too-excited about the fact that she brought along her new boyfriend Alex.  I wouldn't be either.  He's kind of a douche bag.

Dougie throws a tantrum and runs off into the neighborhood, only to find a man dressed as a devil crafting some pretty creepy set-pieces in his front yard--using real corpses!  Convinced that this is Satan himself, Dougie volunteers to be his helper for the duration of the night and the two parade about town, leaving a trail of bloody bodies in their wake.

Initially I was turned off by the poster image, thinking to myself, Man, that shit looks fake.  Don't make the same mistake.  It's supposed to look fake.  That isn't really supposed to be Satan's face on the cover, it's a Halloween mask.  Who's behind the mask, it's hard to say.  There are a few red herrings here and there, and multiple cases of mistaken identity.  For all we know, it really could be Satan.  Wearing a cheesy looking Satan mask.  Why not?

I enjoyed this film much more than I was anticipating.  There were moments of dark humor scattered throughout the bloodshed, and a couple of twists (or, more accurately, switches) that kept you guessing.  And besides, Jenna may first appear dressed like a longshoreman, but she quickly changes into a sexy Renaissance wench outfit which she remains in for the duration.  The trick-or-treaters can have their Zagnuts and their Oh Henry's!  I'll take the eye candy, thank you very much.

The acting sometimes wavered a bit, and a little more editing could have made it a much tighter production, but overall a fine little flick.  It would make a great Halloween night double-feature with Trick 'R Treat.

Rated R
100 Minutes
United States

Satan's a panty sniffer!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Puppet Master 3: Toulon's Revenge (1991)

Puppet Master 3: Toulon's Revenge

Written by C. Courtney Joyner
Directed by Daid DeCoteau

Andre Toulon...Guy Rolfe
Major Krauss...Richard Lynch
Dr. Hess...Ian Abercrombie

This prequel to the first two films takes place during WWII Berlin.  Andre Toulon is an aging puppeteer, who uses his shows to entertain children while at the same time engaging in a little harmless social satire--i.e., depicting Hiter being shot to death by a six-armed gunslinger.  The Nazi regime doesn't find it so harmless, of course.  When they catch wind of the content of his show, they even go so far as to send an agent to sit in the audience and react in whatever manner he sees warranted.

The political content of Toulon's puppet show is quickly forgotten, though, when the Nazi bastard realizes that man's puppets move without strings!  A little clumsy spying, and Toulon's secret formula is discovered.  He reports back to his superiors, and in short order, Toulon's blessed life goes to shit.

Nazi's storm Toulon's quarters, executing his wife Elsa and kidnapping him in order to get ahold of his secrets, believing that it could be used to reanimate dead soldiers.  Well, if it's dead soldiers they want, it's dead soldiers they get, as the Tunneler and Pinhead kill Toulon's guards, and they all escape to safety.

Rocketed to the top of the Most Wanted List, Toulon is hunted by the evil Major Krauss and his minions.  But that's okay with Toulon, because he's hunting them right back.

The Nazis may have an army.  But he has a small army all his own.  A very small army indeed.  This is Toulon's revenge, bitches!
My thoughts on what the marketing campaign should have been

Puppet Master 3 is classic Full Moon Entertainment.  Shot on the cheap but executed well, with good special effects, an imaginitive storyline, and a style all their own.  The general silliness of the previous entry (which, don't get me wrong, I did enjoy) has been dropped in favor of a more solid storyline.  I always enjoy getting the backstory of a good, complex character, so I like the fact that we went back in time a bit closer to Toulon's roots--even if the timeline doesn't quite add up; but I'm willing to overlook that, as I love this series so much.

The puppets get a little more backstory here as well, as we get to see the origins of Leech Woman and Blade, and fan-favorite Six Shooter is introduced.  I also like the fact that the puppets were the protags this time intead of the antags.  I mean, it's not often that the monsters are the good guys.  Why, exactly, they turned evil later for parts one and two hasn't yet been explained.

Also, Toulon's chacterization is drastically different than it was in part 2, which is a major reason some don't like the second installment--they say that it is inconsistent with the other entries in the franchise.  Well, I say, fooey on that (pardon my language.)  It is the other entries (this one included) that are inconsistent with the characterization in part 2.  Not that retconning is completely unheard of.  And, I'll be honest here, this is one instance where the retcon was probably for the best.

In my opinion, the best of the bunch so far.  As I'm rewatching this series for the first time in years, I can't help but be amazed at how these movies pay no attention to the Law of Diminishing Returns.  To wit:

Three is better than Two is Better than One.

At least in my humble opinion.

Rated R
86 Minutes
United States


Saturday, April 23, 2011

High Lane (2009)

High Lane

Written Johanne Bernard & Louis-Paul Desanges
Directed by Abel Ferry

August 18, 2009.  The mountains of Croatia.  Five friends (and in some instances, I use that term loosely) are out for a bit of adventure as they plan to climb to a remote location high in the sky.  Once they arrive at the base of the mountain, though, the path is sealed off.  No worries, says their fearless leader, Fred.  We'll just climb around it.

About the midway point in their trip, they reach a narrow and rather dangerous looking footbridge, which they have to cross to get from one peak to another.  When Fred informs us all that once they get across the bridge, there's no way down on that side, we know precisely what's going to happen.

And happen it does:  the bridge collapses, leaving our intrepid explorers stranded on the mount with no discernable route back to level ground.

One accident is just that--an accident.  Two accidents is bad luck.  But three accidents?  Four?  That means someone is trying to kill you.  In this case, a nameless unseen hermit who lives in these parts and doesn't wish to be disturbed by anyone.  Especially a group of pretty youngsters with all of their silly soap opera antics.

I haven't seen a lot of French films, I admit.  But the ones that I have seen, I've really enjoyed.  They all possessed a certain visceral visual element that is all too often watered down in American cinema.  So I went into this one expecting, if not greatness, something new and exciting.

Okay, I did enjoy this film.  Quite a bit, actually.  There was plenty of excitement, suspense, and action.  There were some amazing shots to be found, and enough bloodshed to please the horror fan.  So what's the problem?  Nothing really...except I've seen this all before.

High Lane is, in all honesty, Wrong Turn on a mountain.  It's a decent flick with moments of greatness, but nothing more.  It would have been better served as sheer survival horror (like Frozen, or the lesser-known but equally good The Canyon), rather than morphing it into a slasher movie partway through.  My biggest problem with the film is that one of the characters is a doctor who, on occasion, suffers from random flashbacks to an event that took place at the hospital--an event that has nothing whatsoever to do with the rest of the film.  Maybe this was a problem with the American edit or the translating (I saw the English-dubbed version), but I kept expecting these two halves to make a whole, and they never did.

Definitely worth a watch, but don't expect to have your socks rocked.  Unless you get all weak in the knees when you hear a Supergrass song.

Rated R
90 Minutes
French (English dubbed)


Friday, April 22, 2011

Genre Flicks on TCM (04.22.11/04.23.11)

Turner Classic Movies is broadcasting a pair of interesting horror flicks late tonight/early tomorrow morning.  Check 'em out!

2:00 AM Strange Behavior (1981)
A scientist's experiments on teenagers turn them into killers.
Cast: Michael Murphy, Louise Fletcher, Dan Shor. Dir: Michael Laughlin.

4:00 AM Deathline (1973)
Tunnel dwellers use the London Underground as a hunting ground.
Cast: Hugh Armstrong, James Cossins, Sharon Gurney. Dir: Gary Sherman.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Video Dead (1987)

The Video Dead

Written & Directed by Robert Scott

Jeff Blair...Rocky Duvall
Zoe Blair...Roxanna Augesen
April...Victoria Bastel
Joshua Daniels...Sam David McClelland

Teenagers Jeff and Zoe Blair move into their new house early in the hopes of getting it ready before their expatriate parents arrive from Saudi Arabia.  Almost immediately, strange things begin to happen as Jeff is told that a famous author had been murdered in their house only a short time ago.  Then he  is warned by a traveling cowboy named Joshua Daniels that a cursed TV had been delivered there by mistake.  Jeff gives this "totally gnarly dude" the brush off...only to find the television in question stowed away in the attic.

Wasting no time, he carries it to his bedroom and plugs it in to watch some cheesy zombie movie, only to find out that his life is about to become a cheesy zombie movie.  Before Samara was even a glimmer in her daddy's eye, these undead bastards were creeping and crawling their way out of television screens to wreak havoc on unsuspecting viewers.

Soon, the whole street is under a silent but deadly attack as the reeking returners turn Shady Lane into a buffet of flesh, and no one is off the menu.

It's your typical, run-of-the-mill direct-to-video zombie flick, albeit with a few interesting elements that keep things enjoyable.  These zombies don't follow all the rules, as they chuckle like stoned college kids while chowing down, and have a pretty good working knowledge of power tools.  At one point, one of the zombies actually wields a chainsaw!  And they avoid mirrors, not because they don't cast reflections, but because they do.  As we're told by the zombie-hunting cowpoke, the undead can't stand to look at themselves.

The problems are obvious:  there's not much in the way of plot, and too much time is spent watching random strangers being assaulted by the undead.  There is an awful lot unexplained: where did the TV come from?  How did it pull zombies from the movie into the real world?  Who the hell was the Garbage Man, and what was his purpose?  How is it that Jeff could dispose of an entire zombie hand in his garbage disposal, but mine breaks if I try to do the same with potato peels?  And, does it only work on zombies, or could the television theoretically deposit, say, Veronica Mars into a man's bedroom?

Inquiring minds want to know.

It's definitely corny and dreadfully dated, but that's part of the appeal.  I had to laugh when Zoe said that she was attending college where she was majoring in aerobics and minoring in music video--too bad these days it's all P90X and daily marathons of Sixteen and Pregnant.  She's probably looking for work, if anyone is casting a new horror flick...

Rated R
90 Minutes
United States

"Skunks don't like to mate with poodles, so then they spray him, and then he really gets turned on!"

Monday, April 18, 2011

Camp Fear (1991)

Camp Fear

Written & Directed by Thomas Edward Keith

Prof. Mark Hamilton...Vincent Van Patten
Jamie...Betsy Russell
Tiffany...Peggy Sands
Melissa...Mindy Myer
Ace...James Kratt

This movie starts off showcasing what every man secretly imagines life in a sorority house to be like: namely, a plethora of beautiful young women in various stages of undress, occasionally even taking showers together in order to "conserve water".  Yeah, right.  These oversexed harlots are definitely up to a little experimentation, even if it isn't caught on tape.

It's Spring Break for the students of Westhille College For Women.  The majority of the Gamma House are doing the typical Palm Springs thing, but a select few have instead opted to take an extra-credit field trip with their Anthropology professor Mark Hamilton and his girlfriend Jamie.  Having gotten all the T&A out of the way in the opening scenes, we're dragged along on the camping trip.

En route to Deeep Water Lake within Mystic Mountain, the campers stop for gas at a middle-of-nowhere general store.  They're warned away from the area by the country-fried propieter and his rambling wino friend (played by Buck Flower, natch!), but they don't listen, of course.  Pretty people in horror movies never listen to warnings.

They probably should have, as there is danger around every corner.  We've got a violent biker gang, earthquakes that may or may not prophesize the end of the world, druids, possibly-benevolent Native Americans, and even a sea monster.

That's right.  An honest to goodness sea monster.

It takes a talented filmmaker to cram all these things together in one coherent narrative.  These filmmakers are not that talented.  This is obviously one hot mess of a movie, with annoying characters, enormous leaps in logic, at-times painfully poor acting, and not a thrill or a chill to be found.  It would have been a smarter move to spread the nudity throughout the running time so that at least we would have something to look forward to.  Besides the closing credits, I mean.

At one point, the professor declares "This is worse than a freakin' Twilight Zone."

You got that right, prof.  This is worse than a lot of things.

A monumental waste of time, hipsters.  Reccomended only if you're trying to fill the gaps in your Buck Flower collection.

Rated R
86 Minutes
United States

"I don't want to die with an empty bladder!"

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Bitter Feast (2010)

Bitter Feast

Written & Directed by Joe Maggio

Peter Gray...James LeGros
JT Franks...Joshua Leonard

Peter Gray is one of those new wave, pretentious chefs.  You've seen them on TV using buzzwords like organic, farm fresh, and the latest addition to their ouevre, sustainability.  He has a deep passion for his trade which shines through on his cooking show The Feast.  He wants to inform and educate his audience, but unfortunately, his audience mostly wants to be entertained.  If they happen to learn something on the side, well, those are the breaks.

JT Franks is one of those new wave, venomous food critics.  You've read their words on the internet (because, let's face it, nobody reads newspaper anymore), using phrases like atrocious, inedible, and of coure vomitous.  He is a very bitter and angry man, and that bitterness shines through on his blog Gastropunks.  He wants to be a great novelist, but unfortunately, people don't read books anymore either.  They just want to see vile attacks directed at people who are better off than they are.  If someone's life happens to be torn apart in the process, well, those are the breaks.

JT Franks brings the bitter.  Peter Gray brings the feast.  And Iron Chef Mario Batali brings a not-age-appropriate ponytail.

When Peter's carefully crafted career path veers wildly into a shit storm--losing both his television gig and his restaurant job--he's just looking for someone to take it out on.  JT Franks is the most obvious scapegoat, as his scathing review of Peter's food appeared just before things went south.  So, after perhaps watching Saw or Hostel late one night over a chilled bottle of White Zin and a plate of Sauteed Clownfish with Eggplant Risotto and Cucumber Gulash (or whatever; I'm no foodie.  My idea of high cuisine is not taking the vegetables off of my Double Quarter Pounder), Peter kidnaps the food critic and holds him hostage in his remote country estate.

Myriad mindfucks, mindgames, and uniquely culinary torture sessions ensue.

The two main characters are well-crafted and believable, with rich backstories that are hinted at but never dwelled upon.  No mere torture porn, this is actually a well-crafted psychological thriller that has the unique ability to make us shift sympathies between captor and captive, seemingly on a whim.  Surely we can all identify with elements of both characters, and because neither of them are actually the least bit likeable, that probably says a lot about us that we don't really wish to hear.

And hell, if you cast Uwe Boll in the Peter role, any one of us could easily be JT.  Ponder that one, my fellow bloggers.

Despite a questionable circuitous finale,  I thoroughly enjoyed this movie, and I hope that others will give it a shot and dig it as much as I did.

And I'm not just saying that because I'm afraid of what might happen to me if I don't.


Rated R
104 Minutes
United States

On a side note, there was one questionable piece of dialogue that I hope someone out there on the interwebs can help explain.  Referring to his eye-rolling cohost, Peter Gray says, "The only thing missing from her is a fart in a kazoo".  Or was it "a fart and a kazoo"?  Either way, I'm totally baffled.

"En Garde, shit stain!"

Friday, April 15, 2011

Genre Flicks on TCM (04.15.11/04.16.11)

Turner Classic Movies is playing quite a pair of genre flicks late tonight/early tomorrow morning.  And yes, that really does say Ed McMahon.

2:00 AM Daughter of Horror (1957)
A woman fights through a nightmare world of violence and sexual exploitation.
Cast: Adrienne Barrett, Bruno Ve Sota, Ed McMahon Narrates. Dir: John Parker.

3:15 AM The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane (1976)
A thirteen-year-old girl turns to murder after her father dies.
Cast: Jodie Foster, Martin Sheen, Alexis Smith. Dir: Nicolas Gessner.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ray Milland Marathon on TCM (04.12.11)

Turner Classic Movies is playing back-to-back-to-back-etc.  Ray Milland films tonight, including features from such legendary directors as Fritz Lang and Alfred Hitchcock.  Better call into work, hipsters, because you're gonna be up all night!

8:00 PM So Evil My Love (1948)
A con artist seduces a missionary's widow into joining his crooked schemes.
Cast: Ray Milland, Ann Todd, Geraldine Fitzgerald. Dir: Lewis Allen.
109 min, TV-14 , CC

10:00 PM Dial M for Murder (1954)
A straying husband frames his wife for the murder of the man he'd hired to kill her.
Cast: Grace Kelly, Ray Milland, Robert Cummings. Dir: Alfred Hitchcock.
C-105 min, TV-PG , CC

12:00 AM The Safecracker (1958)
A reformed burglar calls on his criminal skills to aid the war effort.
Cast: Ray Milland, Barry Jones, Jeanette Sterke. Dir: Ray Milland.
96 min, TV-PG , CC

2:00 AM Ministry Of Fear (1944)
When hidden microfilm comes into his possession, an innocent man is drawn into espionage.
Cast: Ray Milland, Marjorie Reynolds, Dan Duryea. Dir: Fritz Lang.
87 min, TV-PG , CC

3:30 AM Hostile Witness (1968)
A lawyer out to avenge his daughter's death becomes the suspect in a suspect's murder.
Cast: Ray Milland, Sylvia Syms, Felix Aylmer. Dir: Ray Milland.
C-103 min, TV-PG

5:15 AM Payment Deferred (1932)
A milquetoast kills for money and finds it a hard habit to break.
Cast: Charles Laughton, Maureen O'Sullivan, Ray Milland. Dir: Lothar Mendes.

Mister Foe (2007)

Mister Foe

Written & Directed by David Mackenzie

Hallam...Jamie Bell
Verity...Claire Forlani
Kate...Sophia Myles
Raymond...Maurice Roeves

Mister Foe is one of those films in which subtext is everything, at least to me, and it's nearly impossible to discuss such things without giving away too much.  So if you haven't seen this movie yet, I suggest you stop reading at the SPOILER ALERT break down below.  Or don't.  You're a big boy now.  You can do what you want.

Hallam Foe is something of a big kid, seventeen and physically on the cusp of manhood but trapped in his solitary juvenile world as a result of his mother's drowning death a few years back.  Most of his time is spent in his tree house--his fortress of solitude--from which he experiences the bulk of his social interaction.  The problem is that the people he is interacting with don't know they are involved.  You see, Hallam is a Peeping Tom, what the sympathetic call a voyeur.

I assumed that Mister Foe was a twisting psychological thriller, which is why I planned to review this movie here.  But it turned out to be something altogether different.  Although the synopsis given for this film elsewhere would have you believe that the plotline follows Hallam as he investigates his mother's death--possibly a suicide, possibly a murder committed by his new stepmother Verity--this is a minor point at best, one that kickstarts the rest of the film.  When his suspicions come to light, Hallam is cast out from his home, and he is forced to live on the streets.

From his perch on the city's rooftops, he spies Kate, a beautiful blonde woman strolling the streets.  She reminds Hallam of a certain someone, and so she becomes the focus of his secret attentions for the duration of the film.


Needing to be close to her, Hallam follows Kate and then pesters her into offering him a job.  Having traded in his treehouse for a clock tower, Hallam's surroundings may have changed but his games remain the same.  He watches Kate from his new crashpad without her knowledge or consent.  Curiosity quickly spirals into obsession, and then blossoms into an unlikely romance.

Psychoanalysts would have a field day with this one.  Although it plays itself out alternately salty and sweet, there is a slick sickness that underlies everything here.  The person that Kate reminds Hallam of is, of course, his deceased mother.  When he, at one point, breaks into her apartment and sniffs the dildo that he finds in her dresser, we know instinctively that it absolutely reeks of Oedipus.

Hallam's suspicion of Verity--a literal replacement of his mother--is counterbalanced by his lust for her, and before he strikes out into the city, the two of them engage in a sloppy, awkward sexual tryst.  When this proves unfulfilling, he switches focus to a woman that looks strikingly like his mother, once again bedding down with her ghost.  That she later learns of this perversion, and willingly goes along with it--going so far as to offer to put on his dead mother's dress!--speaks just as much about Kate as it does about Hallam.

Witness this verbal exchange, if you don't believe me:

Kate:  "Do you have a love of your life?"
Hallam:  "She's dead.  Would you like to meet her?"
Kate:  "I like creepy guys."

And, luckily for me, I like creepy movies.  Even if they are creepy only in context, and not in execution.  While not anything at all the movie I believed that I was going into, I was blown away by the deceptive beauty, sweetness and innocence on showcase here.  Throw in a kick-ass animated opening credit sequence and a soundtrack that I absolutely must track down, and you've got one of the best surprises I have had in some time.

AKA:  Hallam Foe

Rated R
95 Minutes
United Kingdom

"I killed a man once. Smashed his skull on a pier. Just so ya know."

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Careful (1992)


Written by Guy Maddin & George Toles
Directed by Guy Maddin

Johann...Brent Neale
Grigorss...Kyle McCulloch
Klara...Sarah Neville
Zenaida...Gosia Dobrowolska

Deep in the Alpine mountains, way back in the turn of the century, lies the sleepy little village of Tolzbad.  Being a very small and very isolated community, the Tolzbadians have developed traditions all their own, peculiar to the area.  For starters, everyone must speak very quietly and refrain from any sudden movements, as the threat of an epic avalanche is always there.  Secondly, they remove the vocal chords of any and every animal that they can reach, for similar reasons.  Thirdly, they stake the recently dead through the heart before burial, for fear of vampirism (although that fear is never actually given a name).

We are concerned here primarily with one particular family, a truly disfunctional pre-nuclear unit:  Zenaida, the lustful and easily swayed mother; Franz, the mute invalid son who is kept hidden in the locked attic, and who is visited by the blind ghost of his fallen father; Yohann, a second son, who desires his own mother to the point where he slips her a "Love Potion" (actually something a little closer to a date rape drug); and Grigorrs, who is probably closest to normal...despite his affection for his brother's fiance, and a perhaps murderous impulse that he struggles to keep inside.

There are a plethora of 'Small Towns With Dirty Secrets' in everything from books (Stephen King's Castle Rock stories), television (Twin Peaks), and films (Blue Velvet).  I've always rather enjoyed these entries, because it explores the seedy underbelly of a world that we all know so well, rather than one in which we have no true experience in.  I have seen plenty of them in my life, but never have I seen one quite like Careful.

In recent years, it has become de rigeur to emulate films from the past, primarily the exploitation pictures of the 1970s and occasionally the home video horrors of the 1980s.  Years before this became the trend, however, Careful went much farther back into the past--and much farther across the globe--for its inspiration.  And what a strange animal it is, too:  A 1990s Canadian German Expressionism film.

Utilizing all the techniques of those classic films--odd and impossible angles, hand-tinted frames, strong shadows and startling silhouettes--Careful becomes an art project that is all the more special because we are so far removed from the source.  Ti West turned plenty of heads with his throwback House of the Devil because he bought some old Walkmans and crimped the hair of a starlet or two.  But writer-director Guy Maddin tucks us under his arm and drags us, kicking and screaming, to a time we have (literally) only heard about in movies.

A beautifully disturbing examination of lust, jealousy, honor and tradition.  Even if you're not a fan of the film, once it starts rolling, it's damn near impossible to look away.

Not Rated
100 Minutes

"God has left this mountain to the devil. We have all joined his unholy dance."


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