“I should have told you before we left”
I should have known better than to watch this movie. After all it stars Vincent Gallo, the man responsible for the utterly dreadful, self-indulgent mess that is The Brown Bunny. An actor who, in my opinion has only made one decent movie in his entire career (Freeway 2 Confessions Of A Trickbaby) An actor that truly cannot act & only seems to be hired to chew scenery & make Keanu Reeves look like a master thespian. Yet it also had the incredible Beatrice Dalle in it & is a part of The New French Extremity, so I pretty much had to watch it. Sadly its 100 minutes of my life I will never get back.
Trouble Every Day begins as Shane (Gallo) & June (Tricia Vessey) are beginning their honeymoon in Paris. Shane isn’t in Paris just for his honeymoon & starts making frequent trips to a medical clinic that has been experimenting with the human libido. It’s during these trips that Shane meets Core (Beatrice Dalle) one of the doctors wives & a woman so affected by the condition she has that she is almost feral & is kept locked up by her husband. Shane is beginning to have the same compulsions & events start to spiral as Shane struggles with his condition & his compulsions around not only his wife, but one of the chambermaids at the hotel they are staying in.
I truly cannot find enough negative adjectives to truly describe just how bad this movie is. Gallo puts in another one of his wooden performances. Honestly I have seen better acting in a primary school play than Gallo manages. The crime is, the rest of the cast really try with their roles, which are criminally underwritten. Vassey does her best with one of the most annoyingly insipid & weak characters ever to grace the big screen. Honestly June is so unbelievably pathetic, its hard to conceive anyone could be like that. Beatrice Dalle yet again puts in an incredible performance. Her role in the film is only that of a supporting character, albeit an important one, but she drags every last ounce of emotion out of Core. Her portrait of a woman who has become virtually an animal yet yearns to die is incredibly powerful. The imagery in the film is shocking. The scene where Dalle seduces a young guy & once her compulsions take over begins to torment & torture the dying man is shocking, savage & brutal, Sadly one or two decent scenes does not a good movie make. The ending is both predictable & inconclusive. Director Claire Denis has fashioned a 100 minute cure for insomnia. This movie, along with th equally awful & deeply offensive Baise Moi stand as the worst examples of The New French Extremity. I’m going to leave it here as I have wasted enough of my life on this celluloid turd & I don’t wish anyone reading this to waste their time with it either.
Avoid this movie at all costs, Honestly you can have more fun watching flies fuck. A dismal movie & par for the course as far as Gallo is concerned. Utter crap.
“There was a girl under the kitchen sink”
I probably use the words “genius” & “masterpiece” too often on this site, but when it comes to A Tale Of Two Sisters those words are completely apt. It truly is a remarkable movie. One that needs repeated viewings to discover all the subtleties in a wonderfully crafted piece of storytelling. Director Kim Ji-woon has made one of the greatest psychological horror movies ever to grace the big screen.
As the movie begins Su-mi is brought home from a psychiatric hospital by her father, she is accompanied by her shy, introverted sister Su-yeon. Once at the house they are greeted by their stepmother Eun-joo. Su-mi is openly hostile towards Eun-joo & tensions between the two soon start to come to the boil. Su-yeon is experiencing nightmares about the girl’s real mother & takes comfort in Su-mi’s presence. Su-mi soon begins to suspect Eun-joo of physically abusing Su-Yeon & promises to protect her. Eun-joo complains to the girl’s father Mo-hyeon that since the girls returned to the house that there have been strange occurences, she sees a girl under the kitchen sink & her pet birds are found dead in her bed.
A Tale Of Two Sisters is a hard movie to write a plot synopsis for, as the movie gives subtle hints to the unfolding horror from the start. The plot itself is a multi-layered piece of slow burning horror, complete with a couple of jaw dropping plot twists that makes you (the viewer) completely re-evaluate what you have already seen. Director Kim Ji-woon takes his time with both story & characterisation. Allowing the audience to be drawn into the movie. He has made, in many ways an old-fashioned gothic horror story. One which slowly crawls under your skin, creating a genuine air of unease. The house, while maintaining some modern aspects is suitably dark & foreboding. The acting is exceptional all round. It would be impossible to single any cast member out, as each role is played perfectly. Describing any plot details is difficult as it would be very easy to give away minor plot spoilers. A Tale of Two Sisters is a movie you really need to watch knowing as little as possible. It is a movie that demands concentration, allowing the viewer to piece together the story & mystery as the plot unfolds. I have seen some reviews describe the movie as confusing & muddled. This couldn’t be further from the truth. It is a movie that doesn’t insult the intelligence of its audience. Instead allowing them to discover the truth without being spoonfed the plot. This is a movie of rare depth & stands as a perfect example of just how good this genre of horror can truly be.
Please don’t take my word for it, watch this movie. It stands head & shoulders above the likes of The Grudge, Dark Water & Ringu. Possibly only Noroi can match the claustrophobic tension this movie creates. An unparralled masterpiece.
“You got a lot of guts Oscar”
Where do I even start with this movie? Ok, imagine that instead of Frank Darabont obtaining the rights to make The Shawshank Redemption, Lloyd Kaufman got them. Imagine he then proceeds to completely rewrite the script, removing all the human elements of the story, replacing them with ridiculous fight scenes & an insane amount of splatter. Imagine he then changes the location to Hong Kong & spends about $20 on making the movie. Even after all that you would only be at the tip of the iceberg as to Riki Oh.
The story revolves around Riki, who is sent to prison for 10yrs for manslaughter after taking vengeance on the criminal boss whose gang Riki’s girlfriend witnessed during a heroin deal. The gang capture her & in terror she jumps of a roof to her death. The prison is run by a crooked warden & his assistant Sugiyama, who, utilising the most dangerous prisoners, called the gang of four, are operating an opium den in the prison. Riki is drawn into fighting for the rights of the other prisoners & an eventual showdown with the warden himself. In essence that is the plot, feel free to add any & all cliches you can think of because I pretty much guarantee you they will be in this movie.
Riki Oh is another one of those “so shockingly bad it’s awesome” movies. It’s badly acted, scripted & directed. The SFX are just FX, no S needed. The whole movie is cheaply made & godawful, but boy does it entertain. When speaking about Riki Oh there is only one topic of discussion, gore. This film swims in the red stuff. The gore level is unprecedented & close to Peter Jackson’s gore fest Braindead/Dead Alive for sheer on-screen carnage. Heads shatter, limbs are pushed into meat grinders, eyeballs are punched out, all with virtual comic book glee. Indeed Riki Oh was originally a manga. In one inspired fight scene Riki fights an inamte called Oscar. After knocking one of Oscar’s eyeballs out with a blow to the back of the head, Riki watches as Oscar disembowels himself, prompting Sugiyama to utter the immortal line “You got a lot of guts Oscar” As Riki tries to help the dying Oscar, Oscar tries to strangle Riki with his own intestines! Riki is a proponent of Qigong, a form of martial arts which allow Riki to literally punch through human flesh, walls, or anything else really. In one hilarious scene Riki punches an inmates jaw off completely. If the SFX were up to anything these scenes may have been shocking, as they are, the scenes become laughable. Of course the movie ends with a showdown between Riki & the warden & the scene doesn’t disappoint. It is gleefully over the top. The whole movie is pure camp silliness. The actors seem to be taking the movie seriously which just adds so much to the comedic value of the film.
If you like your humour dark & unintentional, you will love this movie, a cult classic & pure mindless entertainment. Highly recommended for at least one watch.
“Get rid of him, or your daughter dies”
The theme of home invasion has been a staple of the horror/thriller genre for many years. From Peckinpah’s classic Straw Dogs, mainstream big budget studio movies like Panic Room to Ils, a movie from The New French Extremity. The desecration of the home has provided an unsettling storyline which can easily gnaw at an audiences nerves. One of the latest entries in this genre is Secuestrados or Kidnapped to give it it’s English title. Quite simply this is a brutal, nihilistic masterpiece. One of the best thrillers I have seen in years & one I simply had to review here.
After a brief prologue where a man wakes, bloodied & battered & the side of a road with a plastic shopping bag over his head, the movie starts with a family moving into their new house. The family comprises of the husband & wife, Jaime & Marta & their 18yr old daughter Isa. Once the removal men have gone, Marta starts to prepare the families first meal in their new house & is arguing with Isa who wants to go out when one of the glass doors is shattered & three men dressed in black, wearing balaclavas burst in. The three family members are quickly rounded up & placed on the sofa. It soon becomes obvious that the intruders are all from eastern Europe as they speak in a language the family cannot understand. Eventually one of the intruders addresses them in Spanish & demands they place all their credit cards on the table & write down the pin numbers, he also demands their mobile phones. Jamie is then told he will accompany one of the men to a cashpoint where he will draw out the maximum allowed on each card. If he refuses his wife & daughter will be executed. Jamie agrees & the two men leave. As the night progresses events spiral out of control leading to a shocking & brutal climax.
This movie absolutely blew me away. From the first minute to the last seconds Secuestrados held me gripped as the story unfolded. Director Miguel Angel Vivas, who co-wrote the screenplay with Javier Garcia creates a brooding air of claustrophobia & sheer terror as the family find themselves increasingly helpless as the night progresses. The cast is superb, the three actors playing the family are excellent, with particular praise going to Manuela Velles who plays Isa. Her performance is stunning, she captures the terror & hysteria of her character perfectly, in a role it would have been easy to overplay & lose all believability. Fernando Cayo & Ana Wagener as Jaime & Marta manage to convey the rising terror & utter helplessness they find themselves in. The three intruders are well portrayed but Vivas wisely concentrates on the family. Driving home their peril & echoing that primal fear in everyone if their home is breached. The movie is relentless, neither the family or the audience is given any respite from the unfolding horror. Using only the interior of the house & the interior of the car for the entire movie, Vivas keeps the audience right in the heart of the ordeal. At times the movie employes a split screen so the viewer can see Jamie in the car at the same time as what is happening to his wife & daughter at home. Vivas uses this technique sparingly & when employed works incredibly well, highlighting the separation of the family unit & a distraught Jamie’s hopeless despair, wondering how his wife & daughter are. Everything about this movie is note perfect. Not once does it descend into any genre clichés. The family members behave just as any of us would & the intruders, while not the main focus of the film are nothing like the genre caricatures they could have been if the film had been handled by a lesser director. It must be pointed out that this movie pulls no punches, it is extremely brutal & savage. There are some very strong scenes of violence & sexual violence. This is not a film for the faint of heart. The violence is neither stylised or glamorized, it is ugly & shocking.
Secustrados is one of those movies that slips under the radar. If there was any justice it would be a huge box office hit. A wonderful brooding masterpiece, but don’t take my word for it, just see it, I promise you will not be disappointed.
“Here rest all the precious things I’ve lost”
The Guinea Pig series has become almost legendary in the realms of extreme horror, aided in no small way by “The Charlie Sheen incident” Long before August Underground, the Japanese were shocking audiences worldwide with some of the most extreme images ever caught on celluloid. Mermaid In A Manhole is the fourth installment in the series & in my opinion by far the best. Flowers Of Flesh & Blood maybe the most notorious but MIAM actually has a coherent story along with all the grossness.
A painter called Hayashi is mourning the loss of his pregnant wife, he spends most of his time in the sewers sketching. It is a place of comfort he remembers from childhood, when it used to be a river. One day he finds a mermaid in the sewers & recalls meeting her once when he was a child. He spends the following days in the sewer sketching the mermaid until he notices she is in pain. On closer inspection he sees that she has an infection & is ill. He carries her from the sewer to his house were he places her in his bath. The infection worsens & spreads but the mermaid begs him to complete the painting of her he is working on. The infection spreads & covers the mermaids body in sores which burst & pus, the painter uses the discharge to paint with. inevitably the infection, which has by now ravaged the mermaid’s body claims her life & the painter is left to face reality & the brutal & shocking truth.
Directed by Hideshi Hino from his own manga, Mermaid In A Manhole is the cream of the crop of The Guinea Pig series. Unlike the straight forward torture porn of The Devil’s Experiment & Flowers Of Flesh & Blood, Hino gives the film a plot, well fleshed out (pun intended) characters & a fantastic ending whose imagery will stay with you long after the film is over. The movie actually has a lot of subtle undertones to it, loneliness, isolation, the corruption of the mermaid can be seen as a result of man’s impact on his surroundings. After all the mermaid used to live in the river until she was trapped in the sewer by the advancement of the city. The acting of the two lead actors is adequate, neither really shine but this isn’t that sort of movie. Shigeru Saiki manages to capture the lonley depression in the painter & Mari Somei provides enough in her performance to make the audience feel for her characters physical corruption. While the storyline may be a radical departure for the series, rest assured there are some particularly strong visual scenes in this film. As the mermaid’s infection spreads her body is covered in huge boils & blisters which burst in rivers of pus, slime & even worms! Nearing the end of her ordeal she vomits up what looks like part of her intestines. The ending is incredibly graphic & horrific but I don’t want to say anymore for fear of giving away a wonderful shock ending. Sadly the film does have one flaw which detracts from the overall horror of the piece. The neighbours of the painter seem to be in the movie for comic relief (much like the police in The Untold Story or Last House On The Left) I found these scenes really detracted from the movie & lost any atmosphere the story had created.
Mermaid In A Manhole is not a film for everyone. It is a very dark & grim film, filled with some incredibly graphic images. If you have a strong constitution & can handle scenes of an explicitly graphic nature, I highly recommend Mermaid In A Manhole.