Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Brian Sammons Hi-Def Horror Hoedown!
THE WALKING DEAD – THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON: 3-DISC SPECIAL EDITION- (2010)
Created by: Robert Kirkman, Frank Darabont
Cast: Andrew Lincoln, Sarah Wayne Callies, Jon Bernthal
As you may recall I just reviewed THE WALKING DEAD: SEASON 1 on Blu-ray here a few months back, so I’m not going to go into the background story behind this series.
Because A) if you’re any kind of horror fan, then you already know all about the amazingly good zombie comic book that has become this amazingly good zombie TV show on AMC. Oh, and B) I JUST REVIEWED THIS A FEW MONTHS BACK!
Yeah, so why am I reviewing this again?
Because AMC is trying to wring every cent they can out of this one by releasing a new Blu-ray set of the first season in a fancy new box with some new extras, just in time for the second season. So yeah, this is the quintessential example of “double dipping”, or trying to take the fans for everything they have.
Not since the 100+ editions of THE EVIL DEAD (1981)that Anchor Bay flooded the DVD market with in the late 90s and early 2000s, has the horror fanbase been so taken advantage of. Oh, wait...lookie here...Anchor Bay also brought out these WALKING DEAD discs.
Man, I hope this isn’t a taste of things to come.
And, yet, with all that said, this is still a great show and a very good Blu-ray collection. So since the real stars of this second time at bat are the special features, let me break them down for you.
First, some really good news: All the special features from the previous Blu-ray edition have been ported over to this one, so nothing has been lost. That means a ton of featurettes, sneak peeks, and behind-the-scenes bits.
Now for the new; and let's start off with the biggest new goodie; since the very talented Frank Darabont directed the pilot episode of this series, it should come as no surprise that a black and white version of that pilot can be found here.
Why no surprise?
Because Darabont did the same thing for the last feature film he directed, THE MIST. The guy just really likes black and white as a cinematic medium, I guess, and while this was kind of a neat extra, it’s far from what I’d call WOW-inducing.
This time out, all six episodes come with audio commentary, and since I am a commentary track junkie, I think this is very cool. However, I must admit at being perplexed as to why these weren’t included with the first Blu-ray package...but I digress.
There’s a 15-minute feature on makeup special effects masters KNB and their amazing zombies; another special on the video (read as CGI) effects at just over 11 minutes. There’s an extra about all the various aspects of The WALKING DEAD phenomenon, at around 12 minutes, that focuses on the comic book series, and its creator Robert Kirkman, which started it all. I guess it only makes sense then that the next featurette is about adapting those comics for television. There’s also a nice bit of virtual eavesdropping, a conversation between Frank Darabont and KNB makeup guru, Greg Nicotero, filmed and included on this disc.
Lastly, there is a three part, hour-long behind-the-scenes featurette called, “We Are The Walking Dead”, that includes interviews, set designs, acting, fans, conventions, makeup effects, stunts, a “how to act like a zombie” school, locations, and everything in between.
This is easily a tie with the audio commentaries, as the best new thing this Blu-ray set has going for it.
So if you already own THE WALKING DEAD Season One on Blu-ray, then you really don’t need to get this, unless, of course, you’re a special features addict and have a lot of extra disposable income. However, if you have yet to get this amazing TV show for your home library in High-Def, then it is easy to recommend this new set. This is a great show, and these discs are loaded with tons of extra goodies.
This is THE Blu-ray collection for THE WALKING DEAD…at least for now.
ATTACK THE BLOCK – (2011) Blu-ray
Director: Joe Cornish
Cast: John Boyega, Jodie Whittaker, Nick Frost
It sort of seems like 2011 was a banner year for alien invasion flicks, it’s just too bad that the majority of them either stunk on ice or were completely forgettable. How ironic that in a field of overblown blockbusters, the one movie that did it the best is the one that did it for the least amount of money, and is least known--at least that's the case, here, in North America.
I’m talking about ATTACK THE BLOCK, and if you haven’t heard of it, don’t worry, a lot of people haven’t.
So I’m now going to do my part to try and rectify that grievous oversight with the following review.
You can thank me later.
ATTACK sets the story and action at a public housing project in London. The stars of the show are young hooligans- I take it they are often called hoodies in the UK- and, true to form, all of the young punks do stroll about wearing hooded jackets. In fact, when we are first introduced to them, they are mugging a woman at knifepoint. Yeah, charming, these are exactly the kinds of guys I want to hang out with for the next hour and a half. But as the story progresses, this band of young ruffians show what they’re really made of, when they defend their block (read as: big, old apartment building) from a horde of truly monstrous and memorable invaders from the cold depths of space.
Perhaps the best thing about this movie is the aliens. They are completely black, hairy, bestial hunters that radiate pure menace. The only part of them that you can clearly see are their glowing, electric blue teeth, and, boy, do they have a lot of teeth. In the pantheon of impressive cinematic sci-fi baddies, these blue-teethed, black-furred monsters can stand proudly, shoulder to shoulder, with any alien ever caught on film. I enjoyed every second they were on screen, and I’m sure that the fact they were practical effects, and not CGI creations, must have had something to do with that.
But more than just kickass critters, this movie has great characters, something a lot of movies forget is important when they’re blowing millions of bucks on CGI eye candy. All of the punks turned heroes do a good job portraying both tough guys and frightened children, a hell of a thing to pull off well, and something that many adult actors fail to get right.
The best of this bunch would be John Boyega who plays "Moses", the leader of the hoodies. I hope he continues acting because I can see a bright future for him if he does. But, hey, that’s not to say that the grownups are anything to sneeze at in this movie. Over the last few years I’ve become a big fan of Nick Frost, and it’s good to see him here, although he doesn’t have that large of a role in the film.
One thing: this is a very British movie, and by that I mean the accents are thick, and the colloquialisms are many. Now, if your familiar with films from the UK, then this probably won’t be that big of a deal, but I do know some folks from this side of the pond who have problems understanding UK style English. However, please don’t let that stop you from seeing this very cool flick. After all, it does have subtitles.
I saw this movie on Blu-ray and it simply looked stellar, but that’s par for the course from Sony, who invented the BD format.
There is also a nice collection of extras on this disc to appease the fans of behind-the-scenes goodies.
There are three, yes, three audio commentary tracks. The “junior” one with writer/director Joe Cornish and the young stars of the show, a “senior” one with the director and the more mature cast, and producer commentary with the director and producer, Edgar Wright. There’s the typical behind-the-scenes featurette that runs a very respectable hour long; there’s a twenty-minute special on all of the creature effects, and a very short collection of interviews with the young actors called “Meet the Gang”. The typical collection of deleted scenes is missing from this package, but they have been replaced with a conversation with the writer/director on what was cut and why, complete with storyboards. A few trailers and two minutes of the teen actors rapping (why?) round out the impressive list of extras to be found on this Blu-ray disc.
ATTACK THE BLOCK was a fun film with surprisingly good young actors, a new spin on an old story, some well-done moments of tension and fear, lots of funny parts, and very memorable creature design. It’s an old school creature feature from an unlikely source, complete with very unlikely heroes. I highly recommend it.
ZOMBIE – (1979) Blu-ray
Director: Lucio Fulci
Cast: Tisa Farrow, Ian McCulloch, Richard Johnson
You may know this movie as ZOMBIE, or you may know it as ZOMBI 2, or even by the even more titillating title, ZOMBIE FLESH EATERS.
I know it as awesome, perhaps the best Italian zombie flick, ever, and one that can make the Top 5 Zombie Films List regardless of nationality. I love this movie, always have. Not only was it the film that introduced me to the gloriously gory world of director Lucio Fulci, but it has great memorable scenes aplenty, and dares to do things that other flesh eater flicks would never try in a hundred years.
But lest this review descend into fanboy hyperbole, I guess I should get started with a bit of history on this movie, and why it is known in its native land as ZOMBI 2.
When the high lord of zombie films, George Romero, made his undead opus, DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978), famous Italian filmmaker Dario Argento was a big help in many ways, not least of which was bringing the movie to Italy in an extended cut called ZOMBI. This version of the film was a big hit in the land of Lamborghinis and lasagna, so naturally they wanted a sequel. However, both Romero and Argento had no interest in doing one, at least not yet.
Enter Lucio Fulci, a man with a growing name for his giallo murder mysteries. He had an idea for a zombie flick, and if he had to call it an in-name-only (read as: having nothing to do with the original) sequel to get it made, well, that’s what he would do.
Now, I know this sounds like the typical setup for a truly dreadful rip-off flick with which we horror fans are all too familiar. Yes, I’m looking at you DAY OF THE DEAD 2: CONTAGIUM (2005), CREEPSHOW III (2007), RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD: RAVE TO THE GRAVE (2005), and, damn, but I could go on and on. However, Fulci did something that all those other not-really-sequels never even attempted: He made his own movie, with an original story, with style, skill, and some of the most truly horrifying and memorable moments ever committed to film.
Gee, see how a little bit of actual talent and giving a damn can make a huge difference?
Anyway, that’s why ZOMBI 2 is not really a sequel to anything, and why it is now usually just called ZOMBIE. So history class is over, now on with the movie.
One day, in New York City, a boat comes into harbor, and much like the sailing ship in Bram Stoker's "DRACULA", it is a vessel suitable only for the dead and undead. After a fun bit of zombie action, it is discovered that the boat belongs to a somewhat famous scientist, who is not among the dead, walking or otherwise. So an investigative reporter and the scientist’s daughter team up to find out what’s going on. They charter another boat to take them to the tropical island where daddy doctor was doing some sort of secretive research.
Cue one of the coolest and crazies scenes in any zombie flick.
Right before arriving at the island, a woman decides to do some shirtless scuba diving for fun.
Yep, gratuitous nudity for the win!
Once under the waves, the pretty lady runs into a hungry shark!
As if things could not get any worse, she then runs into a hungry zombie!
Yeah, said undead just so happens to have been walking along the ocean floor.
Luckily for the lady, something awesome happens: The shark and the zombie start to fight!
Yes, you heard that correctly, a zombie and a shark take turns biting each other until only one is left. I won’t tell you which set of gnashing jaws wins the day, but I will say the throwdown is every bit as cool as you could imagine.
Now on the island, the visitors soon realize that bad things are afoot. Their first tiny inkling of this, other than the underwater zombie, happens when one of the ladies is taking a shower (thank you again, Mr. Fulci) and gets attacked by a wandering zombie. In one of the most grueling, gut-wrenching, amazing makeup effects, ever, we are treated to a scene of the woman getting a large splinter of wood slowly driven into her eye. Yeah, it’s as good as it sounds. Gorehounds have bayed about this scene for years and rightfully so. If you’re into the blood and guts thing, then it rarely gets better than this. If that scene doesn't sound like your cup o’ tea, then this is probably not the movie for you, as the red stuff is just getting started.
Soon, the dead all over the island start getting up to eat the living, and even this simple fact is handled in a neat and unique way. Sure these zombies are the slow, shuffling kind, right out of the Romero playbook, but most of them walk around with their eyes closed, or in some cases missing. Why? Because they are dead, and why should their eyes work any better than their rotted or missing internal organs? And yet even without their peepers, these ghouls can still “see” their prey. I always liked this little touch; for me, it made these flesh eaters extra creepy. They also don’t seem to open doors so much as they just push their way through them with their bodies. They are the ultimate example of motorized, yet mindless, eating machines. The only thing human about them is their general shape.
The film ends with a wonderful Alamo style standoff at a crude one-room hospital with guns, firebombs, and ghouls advancing from all sides. Yeah, there’s a bit of an unnecessary coda showing a much wider undead threat, but I never much cared for it. For me, this last, desperate battle is where the movie should have ended. It’s great stuff.
Regardless of the extra tacked on bit at the end, ZOMBIE is first rate horror entertainment. It is the first of Fulci’s truly "gore-tastic" flicks, and has his trademark look and style all over it. It is one of my favorite films from the horror maestro. That’s high praise when you consider how many great fright flicks the man gave to the world.
This new ultimate edition of ZOMBIE comes on two Blu-ray discs and is packed full of bonus materials. Disc one has an audio commentary track with star Ian McCulloch and "Diabolik Magazine" editor Jason J. Slater, and while it’s nice and informative, I found it to be very dull and dry. There is no chemistry between these two and it sounds like they’re reading notes directly from a page. Yeah, I’ve heard better. Additionally there are trailers, TV and radio spots, and a poster and still gallery.
Disc 2 contains the lion’s share of the goodies, which basically means interview with anyone and everyone involved with this movie, still alive and kicking. Actors, writers, producers, production designers, the cinematographer, the wardrobe department, stuntmen, the special makeup effects guys, the composer, Lucio Fulci’s daughter Antonella, and even a brief discussion with famed director Guillermo Del Toro, who had nothing to do with ZOMBIE, other than being a huge fan of it. All total there is over an hour and a half of interviews with fifteen different people. So unlike some “special” releases, this one delivers the goods.
ZOMBIE is a great movie, a must have for any Horrorhead’s library. If you already have it on DVD, this Blu-ray is a definite upgrade in all ways. If you have yet to get this movie, then wait no more. This is THE version to own. Consider this one highly recommended, and then some.
WARNING: NOT SAFE FOR WORK!!
THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY – (1981) Blu-ray
Director: Lucio Fulci
Cast: Catriona MacColl, Paolo Malco, Ania Pieroni
This is the second of a one-two Fulci punch from Blue Underground for this Halloween season. While it’s not my favorite Fulci film…well, you know the old saying I always bring up about pizza, that even when it’s not great, it’s still pretty darn good? Yeah, that certainly applies here. So grab a shovel and take my hand, we’re off to the house by the cemetery.
A small family moves into a big house in New England, with a sordid, bloody history. The young son, Bob, played by cherubic blond haired, blue eyed Giovanni Frezza, has a friend in a little girl only he can see named Mae, who keeps warning him to stay away from the house. Not only does this bring up shades of Stephen King’s "THE SHINING", but it's also my biggest gripe about this movie; that damn kid.
No, not the little Italian boy, Giovanni, who’s neither better or worse than any other child actor, but the screeching, fingernails-on-chalkboard-bad voice they dubbed in for him for the English version of the film.
Oh, my dear god, is it annoying!
It’s obviously an adult doing a horrible “little kid” impersonation, but the end result is that every time little Bob opens his mouth I want to hit him in the face with a brick.
The second thing about this film that keeps it from being really great is the pacing. Once the family moves into the titular house the events proceed at a leisurely, strolling pace at best. The mystery behind the house’s horror (not to mention why a crazed maniac is living in the basement, popping out occasionally to behead, slice up, and rip the throats out of people) is slowly doled out, a drip and drab at a time…that is until the end, when there is a big exposition dump. There are random bits of weirdness sprinkled throughout the film, like an unintentionally hilarious bat attack, and a few gruesome murder scenes, but sadly these seem like a far cry from the glorious gory gags in previous Fulci flicks. There’s a nice knife through the back of a woman’s head that come out of her mouth bit, but that’s one of the few memorable kills to be found here. There is a cool, rotting thing in the basement, a few genuinely creepy moments, but the film’s plot is a bit muddled and illogical, to say the least.
How much so?
Well, when the film was first released on VHS some of the reels were played out of order and no one seemed to notice!
Combine that with a lackluster ending that makes little, if any, sense, and you get a movie that is long on mood and atmosphere, but short on logic. If you’re one of those people who need their films to make absolute sense, you might hate this movie. However, if you can just go with it, and enjoy the ride, you might dig this uneven, yet, still mostly competent shocker.
As for the extras on this new Blu-ray release from Blue Underground, there’s a single “lost” scene that was just recently found that has never appeared in any version of the movie before. Sadly, it’s without sound, and also boring, as it takes place right after the famous bat attack and seems to add nothing new or noteworthy to the film. So I guess it’s nice to have, but it is on the unnecessary side.
There are also six “featurettes”, and by that I mean interviews. Why they just weren’t called interviews is beyond me, but that’s not to suggest that they were bad or boring. On the contrary, I enjoyed all of them. You get an interview with both surviving screenwriters, a short discussion with actor Carlo De Mejo, a nice lengthy set of interviews with the cinematographer, makeup effects guys, and actor Giovanni De Nava, and then even more interviews with actors Catriona MacColl, Paolo Malco, Giovanni Frezza, Silvia Collatina, and Dagmar Lassander. All total there is over an hour and twenty minutes of interviews collected here, with theatrical trailers, a TV spot, and a posters and stills gallery to round out the extras. For a movie largely forgotten by today’s fright fans, that's an impressive collection bonus material.
THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY is both a bit longer and slower than it should be, and it has that damn screeching voice actor dubbing little Giovanni Frezza in it that drives me up a wall, but it’s still a good, creepy film at its rotting heart. If you’re new to Fulci films then perhaps CEMETERY isn’t the best place to start. For that I would suggest ZOMBIE, THE BEYOND, and/or CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD. But if you want to see something different, weird, creepy, and fun, or if you’re already familiar with some of Fulci’s other flicks, then THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY is for you. And now you can get it looking better than ever. Consider this one recommended.
DEAD ALIVE (aka BRAINDEAD) – (1992) Blu-ray
Director: Peter Jackson
Cast: Timothy Balme, Diana Peñalver, Elizabeth Moody
Before the latest KING KONG (2005) remake, before the massive LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy (2001-2003), even before the all but forgotten, but still pretty good, THE FRIGHTENERS (1996), Peter Jackson was known for very weird, usually very funny, and almost always very gory movies, like this one. Known as BRAINDEAD almost everywhere outside of the US, and DEAD ALIVE here, this is one of the cultiest of cult movies, and for good reason. Gory, goofy, fun and funny, this has always been one of my favorite "splat-stick" flicks, and now Lionsgate has released an unrated cut of this groovy movie in HD for the first time.
Too bad that the actual presentation is so lackluster...but before we get to that, on with the movie.
Lionel is a milquetoast momma’s boy, living with an overbearing, manipulative, royal witch of a mother in New Zealand. Lionel finally musters up the courage to go out on an honest to goodness date with a real girl. Naturally, his mother not only spies on them, but ruins the experience.
By getting bitten by a Rat Monkey from Sumatra, of course. So she naturally plays the pity card, and gets her doting son to take care of her, if for no other reason than to keep Lionel away from the pretty shopkeeper, Paquita. Little does mommy dearest know about the severity of her wound, and before you know it, she’s dead. But that still doesn’t stop her from being a bitch.
Soon, others also become infected with a bad case of rat monkey zombification, including a hilarious zombie-baby (yes, really), and poor Lionel is trying his best to keep them all locked up in his now boarded up house, feeding and taking care of them, not to mention keeping them loaded on tranquilizers. He does so not only to keep them safe, but to keep the town safe from them. Yeah, how much you want to bet that things soon get out of hand?
DEAD ALIVE has got so much cool going for it, I barely know where to begin. Besides the tons and tons of over-the-top goofy gore gags that give this film its signature "splat-stick" style, there is a love triangle; a bit of fortune telling; a Nazi veterinarian; a kung-fu priest that “kicks ass for the Lord!”; a real "killer" party; the best use of a lawnmower since NIGHT OF THE CREEPS (1986); deadly and sentient (and farting) zombie guts; and the aforementioned zombie baby, the flesheating offspring of a zombie nurse and a zombie priest doing the (very) nasty.
And again, I can’t stress the goopy gore enough in this movie. If you think you’ve seen it all when it comes to blood and guts, trust me, unless you’ve seen DEAD ALIVE, you haven’t.
But as crazy cool as the film is--and it is that and more--this new release from Lionsgate is a big disappointment. It’s as barebones as discs get with the sole “special feature” being a trailer.
Wow, way to put forth the extra effort, Lionsgate.
Now the important thing is that the movie looks really good, it sounds ok (it’s only in 2.0, but it does sound crisp and clear), and it is UNRATED, so it's chockful of glorious gore. But still, not a single real extra feature? No one could be bothered to comment on it? No one could be interviewed about this? There weren’t any horror historians, or DEAD ALIVE fans, who could say ANYTHING about this crazy movie?
Yeah, I call bull crap on that.
This is just Lionsgate trying to put this out as cheap as possible, which never makes me a happy camper.
El cheapo Blu-ray release aside, DEAD ALIVE is a great movie, a must-have for gorehounds and fans of very black, and far beyond sick, comedies. For those that only know Peter Jackson from his later, much more family friendly films, this flick will be quite a shock, so take that as a bit of a warning.
While I wish this BD had some more, or any, special features on it, at least this film is back out on disc and looking better than ever, so for that reason alone I give this new Blu-ray a very high recommendation.
THE CROW – (1994) Blu-ray
Director: Alex Proyas
Cast: Brandon Lee, Michael Wincott, Ernie Hudson
I love THE CROW.
I loved THE CROW before it was cool to love THE CROW.
I loved THE CROW before goth was cool (if it ever was), and before it became an infamous film for the tragic accident that claimed the life of Brandon Lee.
I loved THE CROW when it was only a very independent, and quite obscure comic book by a sad and troubled man from Detroit, James O’Barr.
And I still love THE CROW now, even after all the truly horrible sequels it has spawned.
So imagine how happy I was when I got this new Blu-ray edition of THE CROW just in time for Halloween, and if you don’t know why Halloween is a perfect time to release this movie, then you really need to sit your butt down and watch it. However, my happiness over old movies making the jump to HD has often been dashed to bits over shoddy transfers, and far from special editions.
Would this new Blu-ray be something to celebrate, or something to mourn?
Well, grab some black clothes, some white makeup, your big black bird, not to mention a bunch of guns, and let’s find out.
Brandon Lee plays an up and coming rock musician named Eric Draven, who on the eve of his wedding, had his life literally shattered by some thugs who raped and murdered his wife and killed him.
That’s right, they actually murdered Eric, but that’s not going to stop him from getting justice.
One year after his death, Eric returns from the grave, aided by a special crow spirit guide that has granted him invincibility, and leads him to those responsible for he and his wife's murders.
So begins a dark, moody, bloody, Gothic, and often darkly comedic tale of revenge as Eric, literally driven mad with grief, gets justice and uncovers a deeper mystery of why he and his fiancee were murdered.
THE CROW is a great revenge film, with a touch of the occult, truly despicable villains to loath, and it all but drips with dark atmosphere. Sure there were goths before this film, but after it came out no goth worth his or her black eyeliner didn’t have the poster on their wall. I guess some of that could have been the depressing infamy associated with it, due to the accidental death of rising star Brandon Lee, but it’s also the look and the very fine soundtrack. But despite its undeniably moody goth bona fides, there is also some light in this story and the promise of love everlasting, even from beyond the grave. Really, this movie has it all: Love, death, gunfights, kung fu, rock n’ roll, and a bit of melancholy, as you can see the star that Brandon might have been, but sadly he would never be.
This new Blu-ray from Lionsgate and Miramax has a crisp, clear picture- which is a very good thing, since THE CROW is such a dark film. No, I’m not talking about subject matter; I’m talking about lighting here as the vast majority of this movie takes place at night. So while color is still kept to a minimum here, the dark shades are deep and rich, and the overall picture is damned good looking.
Unfortunately, however, the extras are nothing to crow about (ha). They’re not bad, and there’s a nice collection of them, but they are all from the previous 2 disc DVD release from years before. There’s nothing new here, at all, and that always bums me out a bit.
Anyway, what you get here, while old, is still pretty good.
There’s a pretty good audio commentary track with director Proyas and your standard behind-the-scenes featurette that runs just over 16 minutes, with interviews from a whole slew of people who worked on the film, including the late Brandon Lee. There’s also a 33 minute interview with original Crow creator, comic book artist and author, James O’Barr, which is honestly quite depressing. The rest of the extras are the usual suspects of extended and deleted scenes, trailers, storyboards, and a posters and stills gallery.
The new CROW Blu-ray is a pretty good buy, even if it does only offer a new and much improved picture over the old DVDs, because you can pick it up for a good price from almost every retailer out there. If you already own the previous double DVD set, then you might want to hold off, unless you are a total videophile. If you don’t already have this goth revenge love story in your collection, or like me, you just had the first bare bones DVD release, then consider this a strong recommendation.
(NOTE FROM NICKOLAS COOK, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, ABOUT THE FOLLOWING REVIEW FOR A SERBIAN FILM:
First off, all opinions in the following review are solely those of the reviewer, Brian Sammons, who happens to also be co-editor of this online magazine and a friend. I feel this is his column space, so therefore, he has every right to choose to review whatever films he sees fit.
His review of A SERBIAN FILM was his personal choice, and while I do wholeheartedly personally condemn the ideology and glib reasoning that filmmakers such as these use when they make such things and try to pass them off as a challenge to our ideas of art, freedom of speech, choice, etc., etc,. I applaud Brian's personal test in viewing this film for review purposes.
It is this editor's personal opinion that there is no defense for creating something as heinous as the following film and it was obviously done for one reason, and one reason only: SHOCK VALUE.
But the problem with doing something for the sake of shocking your audience, is that after they've made it through that shock, they will need something worse to shock them the next time.
Again, this is my personal opinion.
I do, however, again, applaud Brian's tenacity in sitting through this film for his own reasons, to challenge his own beliefs in "No censorship", and while I also do NOT agree with "censorship", I personally feel there must be good sense and judgment at work whenever an artist sits down to create something which he intends to share with other thinking, feeling, emotionally trusting people.
Having said that, I will not provide a trailer following this review for the simple reason that there are no appropriately tasteful, non-mentally and emotionally damaging trailers to be found for this piece of garbage.
Again, personal opinion, and again, hats off to Brian for having the guts to test his own notions of what is art.
Since I have already read the review, I can honestly say that we are pretty much aligned on this film's place in the pantheons of cinematic greatness or dumpster.
Good job, co-editor. Couldn't have paid me to sit through this shit, my friend.
--Nickolas Cook, editor-in-chief of The Black Glove Magazine)
A SERBIAN FILM – (2010) Blu-ray
Director: Srdjan Spasojevic
Cast: Srdjan Todorovic, Sergej Trifunovic, Jelena Gavrilovic
Those two words, right there, is really all you need to know about this flick.
Now. to be sure, no children, newborn or otherwise, were harmed in the making of this movie. The newborn in question is a special makeup effects puppet, but there is a scene with it where…
Ok, last chance to leave.
For many, just the thought of the repulsive stuff that happens in this movie is enough to turn their stomachs. I choose to start this review with those two words, so that right away, you know what you’re in for, should you chose to watch this Mt. Everest of controversial films. Why beat around the bush with the little things like rape and necrophilia, right? So I plan on being as fair as possible to A SERBIAN FILM, but that means I will have to discuss some very unpleasant things.
Again, you’ve been warned.
The protagonist in this film is Milos, a legendary porn star living in Serbia, and he has a pretty good life. Besides being blessed with an impressive tool with which to ply his trade, he has a loving wife and a cute young son. In every way, they are the perfect, happy family.
Yeah, I’m sure nothing bad will happen to them.
Anyway, as happy as Milos is, he is also having a hard time making ends meet after retiring from the porn business. Then he hears about a strange director who wants to make artistic porn flicks that will put Serbia on the map. Unfortunately, what this psycho considers “artistic” veers wildly from what normal people think of as art.
Before long Milos is trapped in a dark spiral of sex, death, depravity, more sex, more death, and, yes, loads and loads of more depravity.
Worse still, he’s having unexplained blackouts, during which he’s losing days at a time, only to wake up bruised and bloody, with most of the blood covering him not his own.
So begins Milos’ quest to understanding what he's gotten himself into, and how he can escape it.
But really, he should have known something was wrong from the start, where for his first scene with the new director, a woman with makeup smeared from crying, her face freshly bruised, crawls across the floor to service him, while a thug sneaks up behind Milos to put him in a choke hold and orders him to “hit the whore” repeatedly in the face with his fist while she tends to his little big Milos. Oh, and all this takes place in front of a little girl dressed like Alice in Wonderland.
And how messed up is it that that’s about the tamest of the atrocities this movie revels in?
Other lowlights include; man on man rape, man on boy rape, incest, chopping a woman’s head off while continuing to rape her twitching body, a woman with her teeth pulled out being choked to death on a man’s penis, a man is literally skull f***ed in his eye socket to death, and, honestly, I could go on and on.
And what’s strange is that this new Blu-ray, while proudly proclaiming on the cover that it is UNRATED, has been cut from the screener I was originally sent some months back. Most noticeably (and thankfully) missing were parts from the "newborn porn" scene. Now you don’t even see the puppet baby, or what happens to it, but you still get to hear it.
So, uhm, yay for that...I guess?
And the other scene of child abuse (yes, this "fine" film has more than one) has also been recut to be more implied and less graphic. But really, if you’re going to take such perverse delight in wallowing through filth, why leave anything out? I guess the filmmakers got tired of being dragged into court for making kiddie porn. They actually didn’t, but I could see how some people may have been confused.
Yes, the “why leave anything out” line was a joke.
A very dark, sick joke, and I’m trying my best to resist the cheap shot by saying that so was this film.
Because…ok get ready to hate me...
I hate censorship in any form, so as long as a work of art doesn’t actually hurt anyone, then I feel it has a right to exist. This movie, as horrible as it is, didn’t actually hurt any of the people, or puppets, it shows being hurt in it. You, me, and everyone else has the right to revile it and not watch it, but that doesn’t mean we should ban it. I know my opinion may not be the popular one, and it’s far from the PC one, but I’ve always believed that if you don’t like something, then don’t read, watch, or listen to it. It’s that simple. That’s why I detailed, as tastefully as possible, some of the worst parts of this film for you in this review. If what I’ve briefly described here doesn’t sound like your idea of a good time, then for god’s sake DON’T WATCH THIS MOVIE.
If it does sound like your idea of a good time, then for god’s sake STAY THE HELL AWAY FROM ME.
Also, if one of the goals of a horror film is to horrify. then A SERBIAN FILM wins the all-time grand prize for that.
But this isn’t a fun fright flick, or a campy slasher movie from the 80s; this isn’t even a cool zombie gorefest; and it makes all the modern torture porn films look cute and cuddly by comparison. It even makes the bleakest movies I have even seen before this--like for example, the French-Canadian "feel bad" movie MARTYRS (2008), seem positively bright and sunny.
If this film doesn’t sicken and repulse you, even a little, then there’s something wrong with you. Seriously, seek professional help.
However, to sicken and repulse is to horrify, so again, A SERBIAN FILM is nothing if not effective.
Lastly, I must say, that, despite its horrific subject matter, this movie is actually well made, acted and shot. It looks surprisingly good. Hearing rumors and whispers about this film in advance of seeing it for the first time, I guess I was expecting an obviously low budget, incompetently made, almost grindhouse-like, or worse yet, direct to video style of movie. I think it’s actually kind of more disturbing that this film was made with such skill and style.
Yes, it wants to sicken you, but there’s more to it than just cheap gags. By “gags” I mean the sound you will no doubt make when trying hard not to vomit, while watching this film. And when I say that this movie has more to it than over the top, “Aren’t we shocking” moments, I actually mean that.
And I also believe that there is a real message to be had here. However, it is obscured by such jaded, mean-spirited, angry and nihilistic filmmaking that it is hard to see any of it.
I’ll leave it up to you to decipher the message, should you ever watch this film for yourself. That way you might be able to sleep at night afterwards by telling yourself you were sitting through A SERBIAN FILM for artistic reasons.
Yeah, just keep telling yourself that.
Sadly the new Blu-ray from Invincible Pictures is as bare bones as a disc can get. I would have loved to have had some interviews with the filmmakers for a number of reasons, like to find out just what the hell they were thinking when they made this flick, or to hear them defend it after the mountain of criticism which it has endured since its release.
Now, do I feel moviemakers should be forced to defend and explain their films?
No, but in this case, I really wish they would have attempted to do so.
A SERBIAN FILM is a hard movie to sit through, and as such, I really can’t recommend it to anyone. But I do sort of understand at least some of the things they were trying to say with it, not that I agree with them, and so I won’t jump on the “let’s condemn this piece of trash” bandwagon. I guess the only way I could recommend this movie is if you’re looking to push your limits of good taste, and even then I would seriously warn against it.
--Brian M. Sammons