Goddammit, I really wish I didn’t have to be doing another obituary trailer already, but yesterday we saw the sad loss of Everett De Roche, one of the best screenwriters Australian cinema has ever had. He screenwrote a lot of films and TV shows, with a really strong knack for characterisation and the set-up for great suspense sequences. One of the better known ones he wrote is this attempt to bring Jaws on land in the form of a tonne of pissed-off bacon. While doing a movie where the monster is a really big piggie seems absurd, the very astute script helps make it work, notably by having it lurking off-screen for so long (let’s face it, in the Outback there’s plenty of space for something like that to hide). Add to that the very stylish direction of Russell Mulcahy (who’d follow this up with Highlander!), and you’ve got one of the most gorgeous to watch horror movies of the 80s (which I do not say lightly!). De Roche was a legend for writing this, Road Games, Harlequin, Lost Weekend, Patrick and much, MUCH more. Here’s hoping that there still is someone of his like out there, helping to keep up that sort of standard.
ohno-melon: Hi! I saw that you recently posted about films that were mistaken for snuff. I have seen Man Behind The Sun (the cat scene was very distressing to me but Unit 731 is very interesting to me - what they did was so awful). Have you seen Philosophy of a Knife? It is also about Unit 731 and I would love to know your thoughts about it! Thank you!
I have seen Philosophy of a Knife (2008), though I didn’t get the chance to watch the last twenty minutes or so, because when I went to finish it, Netflix had already removed it.
Andrey Iskanov's films in general are intended to be disturbing, and this one is no exception. As far as films go, it is very, very long (249 minutes, broken into two separate parts), and is not likely to hold the attention of those with little patience. While it does cover many of the inconceivably awful experiments performed on Russian captives by the Japanese Army’s Unit 731, it does so at an extremely languid, sluggish pace. When it comes to the gore, it is excessive, to say the least, and the camera has a tendency to linger on it far longer than should have been advised, but perhaps that’s entirely the point.
It is not a film intended to entertain, as much as to hammer home the impact of the horrifying atrocities knowingly committed by the Japanese military during World War II. In this endeavor, it succeeds. The slow pace is admittedly very hard to sit through, but the reenactments are very jolting and unsettling. The musical score is appropriate for the film, and I personally like the song used in the ending credits (though I know it won’t be to everyone’s tastes).
Surprisingly, the film can be viewed in its entirety on Youtube, beginning here. As it is on DVD, it is broken into two parts. Those with particular interest in the film may choose to peruse some of the suggestions in the side bar as well.
HOWEVER, I MUST ISSUE A WARNING:
Like many things I have posted before, this film (and others like it) are absolutely NOT for the squeamish, or for those who are easily upset/offended. This film depicts reenactments of unthinkably repulsive experimentation on human beings.
YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
Anonymous: Horror movies are irrelevant? The fuck is that anon talking about.
The funny thing is, horror movies, when viewed in the context of the era in which they are made, are actually some of the most socially relevant films we have.
Often, after a dramatic event has occurred in this country, it is followed by a wave of horror films that seem to be a response to the feelings that event ignited. The lingering tension and discontent resulting from the Vietnam War alone spawned dozens of films that echoed the feelings of the American public, such as Deathdream (1972), and the later Combat Shock (1986), and Jacob’s Ladder (1990).
As we moved into the late 70’s and early 80’s, the impending wave of conservatism, advances in technology, and economic status of the country inspired many films that served to mock our growing materialism and naïve faith in our government. George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead (1978) cleverly lampooned our obsession with material goods by having its zombies drawn to the shopping mall, even after death. John Carpenter’s They Live (1988) came stomping defiantly on the heels of “Reaganomics” like a rebel with a cause. The expansion of nuclear power plants was a ripe topic for Troma Studios, who made it a constant focal point in their films, such as The Toxic Avenger (1984), and Class of Nuke ‘Em High (1986).
The horror genre is rife with examples of how art so often imitates life, and - due to their very nature - are able to express our reactions in a way that sticks with us more than any newspaper article ever could. In the wake of 9/11, the zombie movie subgenre absolutely exploded, and has been rolling on ever since. Perhaps this is our means of filtering our worst fears about loss into a vehicle through which we can learn to cope with them.
Anonymous: Is there any particular older film (horror or otherwise) that has special effects that you think still hold up extremely well today?
Oh gosh. There are so many. My brain is so worn out that I can’t really think of many off the top of my head, even though I know there are plenty.
I’ll try to make a list (yet again):
- The Thing (1982).
- Any of the Guinea Pig film series (beginning in 1985 with The Devil’s Experiment).
- Little Shop of Horrors (1986). The Audrey II puppet utilized state-of-the-art animatronics to move all of its vines. It took a whopping 60 technicians just to operate it.
- An American Werewolf in London (1981).
- Zombie (1979). There’s just something about the effects in that film that feel very organic and naturalistic.
- The Exorcist (1973).
- Day of the Dead (1985).
- Hellraiser (1987).
- Aliens (1986).
- The Fly (1986).
That’s about all I can come up with at the moment.
If I get deferred today because my blood pressure is through the roof because of this little shit stain, I am going to be fucking livid.
Shit, they wouldn’t even have to hook me up, because fucking bubbles would start forming in my veins and exploding onto the walls like that junkie from the beginning of Ozone.