Monday, 18 August 2014

Drink the Kool-Aid! The Sacrament DVD Review

**Please note that there may be spoilers throughout the blog**

  Really excited for this to come out on DVD/Blu-ray because Ti West puts a nice spin on the found footage genre and creates a very real and very grim film.  In this movie, Ti West creates one of the most charming and sinister characters, "Father", who doesn't look or sound alarming but has such a firm hold of his congregation, that he can exploit them to any extreme that he wishes.  

The Synopsis

  Caroline, who has fallen off the grid, contacts her brother Patrick, a reporter for "Vice" and asks him to come and visit her at the religious commune that she is living at on the other side of the world.  So, Patrick and a couple of his "Vice" colleagues, Sam and Jake grab their gear and put the trip on the expense account hoping to get a great story.
  Unfortunately, when they arrive half way around the world, they realize that they have bitten off more than they can chew, when they are met by armed guards at the gates.  Luckily, Caroline gets there in time, cooler heads prevail and they are welcomed into the camp.  Inside the camp, Caroline explains that this paradise was all created by one man, "Father".  This is his dream and the are fulfilling god's wishes.  Patrick and his friends ask if it's okay to do some interviews with the people in the commune and if it's possible to interview "Father"? Caroline takes off to ask and she quickly comes back and says it's all right. Caroline and Patrick leave to catch up, while Sam and Jake get settled in their cabin.  
  Sam & Jake explore the camp and talk to whoever will give them a few moments but the majority of the commune seem to shy away from them.  The people they speak with seem happy and content with their living arrangements but Sam & Jake feel that there is an eerie vibe to the place.  Will the "Vice" staff discover the secrets to Eden Parrish or will they lose themselves to the commune and forget the modern world?

Special Features

  This is a great looking DVD and sounds terrific as well.  The commentary on the film is pretty interesting and includes Ti West, AJ Bowen and Amy Seimetz, who talk about about their feelings about going into the project, working on specific scenes and their reaction to the film when they eventually saw the whole thing put together.  They also discuss working with Gene Jones, who played "Father" and his impact on the film, as well working with such a large number of extras, dealing with the producers, like Eli Roth and how much extra story their was before Mr. West got into the editing bay with it.  If you are interested in the film business or you just like movies, this is a fascinating commentary to hear how a project can start and then get whittled down to tight 90+ minutes of terror.

  Also, there are some great features on the disc, like a feature called "Creating the Sacrament: Revealing the Vision", which they talk to Ti West, the cast and the crew about how they put the project together.  They discuss the location, how quickly the project seemed to snowball and how they were able to build the commune so quickly.  Again, this is a fantastic look at how a project can get off the ground and it really recognizes the hard work of the people behind the camera.  
  As well as a feature called, "Preparing for Takeoff" and it's a behind the scenes look at how the helicopter scene was shot, which is cool to see.  Also, there is a thing called, "Working with the Director: The Ti West Experience" which half of it is people just saying how much they like Ti West and unfortunately there isn't much talking about his style or how he conceptualizes projects.  Just that they like Ti West and I guess I do too.  Then there is the obligatory "AXS TV: Look at" which they have on all the Magnet discs when they do a quick, 2 minute commercial type packaging of clips and interview telling you to watch the movie you just bought.
  For the most part the features are good but I was surprised the Gene Jones who was such a pivotal character in the film wasn't interviewed more.  I would have loved to here more about how he saw the character and what he did to develop it.  There is some Gene Jones in one of the features but it would have been really interesting to see where that cat was coming from when doing this film.

  This is great DVD package from Magnet and VSC.  This is Ti West's best film since "House of the Devil" and takes a fresh approach to the, lack of a better word, found footage genre.  Like most of his films it a is a well paced film that has an unforgettable ending that you will wish that you could.  This is a terrific film to add to any horror fans collection.

Monday, 11 August 2014

5 Killer Movies Based on Real People

**Please note that there may be spoilers throughout the blog**

  Serial killers have been around for centuries and may have even inspired horror legends, like vampires and werewolves, that we know today.  However, Jack the ripper is considered the first modern serial killer and since him, we have seen a plethora of people following in his path, so I wasn't surprised to find an abundance of films that were available on this subject.

Here are 5 Killer Movies Based on Real People

5. Karla (2006) - During interviews with Dr. Arnold, who is determining the eligibility of her parole, Karla Homolka tells her story of how she and Paul Bernardo met, fell in love with and then raped and killed a number of young women.
  This one was a tough one to watch, but director Joel Bender (The Cursed, Vlad) does a very tasteful job with some very tough material.  Most of the violence is done off camera and he is careful not to show any nudity in film.  Some of the names have been changed, due to the fact that these were teenage girls that were killed and most likely out of respect for the families.  And even with that much sensitization, it's still a very creepy film.
  The film itself looks like a made for TV movie and I found that Laura Prepon (The 70's Show, Orange Is The New Black) and Misha Collins (Supernatural, 24) seemed a little stilted at times as the Homolka and Bernardo characters and these young actors, at the time, may not have been able to grasp the complexity of these criminals.  But then again, who has?  Anyway, the film neither vilifies nor does it try to exempt Homolka from the crimes and it places her at the scenes as a willing participant in them all.  Again, this is a hard film to watch but it has some scary moments and depicts some very brutal events.

4. Badlands (1973) - Highschool dropout and local riff raff, Kit falls in love with 13 year old Holly after quitting his job as a part time sanitation worker.  The pair hang around for a while and then Holly's father decides that he doesn't want his daughter involved with Kit, so he tells Kit to "move on".  This enrages Kit and goes to Holly's house to take her away but her father catches him packing up her things and he tries to stop them from leaving.  Kit shoots Holly's father and then they set the house on fire, hoping that the police will think they all died in the fire (?) and leaves a note saying that it wasn't his and Holly's fault.  The two go on the run and Kit starts killing people left, right and centre to get the supplies that they need to survive and that him and Holly can be together.  Can these love birds make it in a crazy bang bang shoot'em up world or will the extensive police man hunt finally catch up with them?
  This is a very good movie and is based loosely on the Starkweather/Fugate spree.  However, the true story is really whitewashed in the film and this is more of a crime flick than a horror. But Kit, played brilliantly by Martin Sheen (Apocalypse Now, Firestarter) does leave a very large bloody trail behind him, which makes me wonder how this is not at least PG-13?  Sissy Spacek (Carrie, Hot Rod), who plays Holly, is also fantastic as well.
  Director Terrence Malick (The Thin Red Line, The New World) gives these characters a dream like fantasy world to live in and anyone who enters and disrupts this world is killed.  It seems to be more of game for them, running and hiding for the police and at least Spacek's character may not understand the consequences of Kits actions.  Again, it's not accurate to the Starkweather/Fugate case but it's a great movie with two a terrific cast and a larger than expected body count. 

3. Cannibal (2006) - A man posts on the internet that he is looking for somebody to eat and after a number of failed meet and greets, he finally finds somebody that wants to be eaten and fits his criteria.  You really can find everything on the internet these days!  After a lot of gay sex stuff, the man is unable to bring himself to butchering his new food, friend.  Will the man get down and carve up his meat or has he had a moment of clarity and thinks that eating another person isn't such a good idea.
  I found most of this movie pretty dull.  There is no dialogue for most of the movie and it looks like it was shot on a home video camera.  Also, there is a lot of man love in this movie, which there is nothing wrong with, but like any sex scene that goes on too long, it really gets tedious after a while.  The third act is the best part, something actually happens and it's pretty twisted.  There is some serious penis mutilation and some human butchery.  I don't know if it makes up for the other 40 - 50 minutes of nothing that has gone on but it's something.
  This was based on the Armin Meiwes case in Germany.  He was a computer repair guy and I guess this is what he did.  They found him because someone reported the "Looking for Someone to Eat" add in the paper to the police.  Go figure, eh?  However, he has since become a vegetarian and has helped the police in a few cases of cannibalism over there.  He claims there are at least 800 cannibals in Germany right now.  Anyway, if you have the patience to sit through a rather dull film and like extreme gore then this could be a film for you.  Unfortunately, there was no trailer for this or clip available.

2. Deranged: The Confessions of a Necrophile (1974) - Ezra Cobb lives on a farm with his sick mother and spends his days working and looking after her.  Right before his mother passes away, she gives him the advice that only a loving mother can give.  She basically tells Ezra that women are all whores and the will only love you for your money, expect for the fat ones.  Thanks mom!
  After his mother's death, Ezra can still here her talking to him and eventually he goes back to the cemetery and digs her back up to bring her home.  Unfortunately, being dead in a coffin underground does terrible things to your skin, so Ezra starts stealing bodies to use the skins to make his mother fresh again.  On the positive note, Ezra does try to start dating again but ends up murdering the ladies he takes out.  Worst date ever.  Can Ezra ever find the woman of his dreams or is she already in dead in the bed of his house with the skin of his victims covering her face?
  Writer and co-director Alan Ormsby (Dead of Night, Popcorn) creates an low budget but somewhat accurate story based on the life of Ed Gein.  Although the story may drag a bit and the acting is what you would expect, there are some excellent gory scenes from future FX master Tom Savini.  I found it surprisingly graphic, considering the year of it's release. I also like that it is suppose to be in America but you can see Ontario license plates & there's a Stompin Tom song in one of the scenes.  This film has a strange charm to it that will have you asking why haven't I seen this before and why do I want to watch it again. 

1. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986) - Henry drives around Chicago searching for victims, while his roommate and shitty drug dealer, Otis goes and picks up his sister, Becky at the airport.  When Henry gets home, Otis lets him know that Becky will be staying with them until she gets things together.  Henry shrugs and Becky starts taking a shine to Henry.
  One night while entertaining some ladies of the night in Henry's car, Otis discovers that Henry has some violence tendencies, as he watches him kill the two hookers.  Henry tells Otis not to worry and starts giving him the low down on how not to get caught killing people.  Sadly, just as the relationship between Henry and Becky begins to really blossom, Otis and Henry start a killing spree in the Chicago area.  Can anyone stop these two and can Becky find the love that she has been searching for or will the streets run red with blood in the windy city?
  Loosely based on Henry Lee Lucas and his friend Ottis Toole, this is an interesting film that seems like a snapshot of the character Henry's time in Chicago.  Henry is already killing at the beginning of the film but what is fascinating is that he develops or has a certain sympathy for and becomes very fond and protective of Otis's sister Becky.  Which is similar to real life, only that Becky's name was Frieda and she was 12, not an adult like in the movie.
  Michael Rooker (Guardians of the Galaxy, Mallrats) makes his film debut with a chilling portrayal of Henry.  Also, Tom Towel (House of Thousand Corpses, Dr. Doolittle) and Tracy Arnold (The Borrower, The Shot) give effective performances in this as well.  Director John McNaughton tells a very disturbing story with a very tight cast and what seems to be an even tighter budget.  There are some very haunting images at the beginning, then film spirals into some disturbing scenes and end, for some, is just perfect.  This is a most see if you enjoy the serial  killer genre. 

When I chose the films, I was looking for a mix of terrifying stories from all over the world (America, Canada and Germany because I have a limited budget and vision of the world) and tried to explore some of the more disturbing tales and films I don't see or hear a lot about.  These stories reflect a very dark side of human nature that affect a minority of the people on this planet and maybe through these films we can learn more about these characters and what makes them tick or at least find ways to avoid them and stay safe.