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The Sunday Cult Film Corner HORROR DOUBLE BILL!: “The Poughkeepsie Tapes (2007)” & “Noroi: The Curse (2005)”

Good evening there watchers…. Well it looks like it’s that time of year is nearly upon us, where we seek to be scared and creeped out by things that go bump in the night. yes in a few weeks we’ll be enjoying Halloween, which means that for the next couple of weeks the Sunday Cult Film Corner will be showing some of the spookiest, gnarliest, most splatteringly gory horror treats for you all. 

This week we are shining our flickering torch on the “Found footage/documentary” horror genre. Even though it’s claimed to be a new development in the horror cannon, the documentary/found footage has had many precedent in film for a long time. Films such as ‘Peeping Tom,’ or ‘Cannibal Holocaust,’ use film/found footage as a vehicle/narrative driver, either with the protagonist recording their exploits, sometimes in a first person perspective, or the discovery of footage that explains what has happened to a person or group of people, the found footage allowing the story to be told in flashback.

With the advent of video technology, along with the rise of viewing horror on VHS, the nature of the found footage genre began to ferment and take hold. Films such as ‘Henry Portrait Of A Serial Killer,’ contains scenes of VHS video playback of their killings, adding an extra voyeuristic element, while the likes of ‘Man Bites Dog,’ takes the whole documentary plot drive to new levels. Meanwhile the use of faux documentary/live TV along with the use of real T V personalities, mean that GHOSTWATCH  is still one of the scariest programmes in recent history and still has not been shown on the BBC since its intiial broascast back in 1992

The film that provided the real catalyst to the “found footage” genre though was of course ‘The Blair Witch Project.’ The story of three amateur filmmakers who come a cropper in the woods shooting a documentary fo a local urban myth presents a quantum leap in the genre. With its shaky handheld camera footage, night-time scenes, excellent atmospherics and top-notch performances from the 3 starring actors gave the film a truly spooky edge. Added to this a well thought out and executed backstory with a second documentary, as well as excellent use of the internet to provide a sense of buzz, gave the whole films an extra level of realism, with many people initially believing the film and the story of the Blair Witch and the documentary of the main characters film to be actually true.

Since ‘The Blair Witch project,’ there have been a slew of “found footage” films that vary greatly in quality and actual scares. And tonight we present to you two example of the cannon.

First up is THE POUGHSKEEPIE TAPES, A 2007 horror film directed by John Erick Dowdle. The film is presented as a documentary along the lines of those serial killer docs that you get on National Geographic or The History Channel. The subject of the documentary is that of a prolific serial killer who documents his numerous killings from his earliest efforts to the.capture, torture and brainwashing of his victims. When the police raid a home they believe the killer to be at, they discover boxes of serially numbered tapes that records his various obsessions and the details of his murders. As the authorities watch and analyse the tapes they find that this is a killer unlike any they’ve seen. The tapes provide no evidence as to who he is, other than the facts of the crimes themselves, He constantly changes his MO of killing and disposal, always staying one step ahead of the authorities efforts, as it becomes apparent that the level of planning in killing his victims is disturbingly meticulous. He even manages to plant evidence of his crimes on an Innocent man who the authorities arrest, charge and sentence instead.

The film swing between the dry, bloodless, static scenes of the talking head interviewees of the police, and various people and the shaky, warped VHS footage taken by the killer. Much of this footage is fairly gruesome, displaying a grimy, queasy nature that is reminiscent of the scenes from the infamous NIN video to the ‘Broken Movie EP,’ which shows a serial killer abducting, torturing and killing a young man. The films itself is fairly nihilistic, offering no explanation of the killers intentions and motivations, beyond that of the fact that he just loves to kill and torture people. 

While the film seems to revel in the elements of shock and gruesomeness, the whole premise of the film is slightly shaky and a little unbelievable. We are meant to believe that what we are dealing with here is a killer who is so meticulously organised, he almost takes on a supernatural quality to the danger he poses. He makes Hannibal Lector look like a sloppy jerk, yet he seem to take all sorts of unnecessary risks, that for me didn’t ring true. Also the quality of the films itself is actually terrible. I do understand that this is to emphasize the grimy, nasty nature of the crimes he is committing, but I would have thought that a killer who takes great delight in the crimes he does, would have used better quality film equipment.

The acting itself isn’t much to write about. Obviously this is a low-budget film, but some of the performances, specialty that of the policemen seems to be rather wooden and a little boring. The FBI profiler was especially unbelievable for me, looking more like a mafia wiseguy than someone who would be in Silence Of The Lambs.

Overall, THE POUGHKEEPSIE TAPES, does have a few good moments, but it’s nothing too special. The gang from Criminal Minds would have probably caught this guy in 45 minutes probably. As an aside, if this films does interest you then I would also go and see the Mr Plinkett film reviews from Red Letter Media, which brilliant parody and send up the tropes of films such as THE PLOUGHKEEPSIE TAPES brilliantly….

The second in our “found footage” horror double bill is NOROI: THE CURSE, a 2005 Japanese film directed by  Kôji Shiraishi. Unlike most “found footage” films, NOROI differs from them both in its length (Nearly 2 hours running time) and the complexity of the plot. The film is a documentary  that tells the story of Masafumi Kobayashi, a paranormal expert who produced a series of books and documentaries on supernatural activity around Japan. After his mysterious disappearance and the burning down of his house which causes the death of his wife, the documentary chronicles the production he was working on before the incident. The film consists of footage recorded by Kobayashi as he goes about investigating seemingly unrelated paranormal incidents connected by the legend of an ancient demon called the “kagutaba.” As the film progresses, we see him piece together clues and interview people who have been affected by these incidents, as well as compilations of other sourced footage that show strange and eerie moments linked with the legend.

the length of the film is both its strength and it’s weakness. For a long time there is a lot of exposition and build up with the story as we see Kobayashi piecing together the various clues and some people may find this lack of action boring. But if you give it time and allow yourself to be drawn into the world contained in the footage, you find that the whole atmosphere slowly but noticeably starts to build in tension. It is a film that relies as much on the complexity of the plot instead of the usual first person scare shots. the splicing together of the found footage with news reports, game shows and other TV footage, give the scenes a much more realistic edge and feel, Using such TV footage also allows the use of incidental music, that you wouldn’t normally get with other found footage films, allowing extra levels of creepiness to be built up. From what has been described, there aren’t what you would call shocks, but there is definitely a lot of genuinely creepy moments, that remind me a little of the Marble Hornets you tube video series, were nothing much seems to happen for long periods of time, but what the footage is actually doing is slowly adding pressure on your senses so that by the something does happen, you end up soiling your pants a little. I will say though that the final scene to this movie definitely made me jump a little!

 
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Posted by on October 13, 2013 in Film

 

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The Sunday Cult Film Corner: Halloween Grindhouse Triple Bill Special!!

Evening there scrotebags!

Well if you for some reason weren’t aware of it, tomorrow is the lovely holiday that is Halloween. Last night in Reykjavik saw many people get dressed up and partake in the downing of their bodyweight in alcohol. Lots of zombies, ghouls, witches and people dressed as sexy punks and nurses. And was just the Hen night that my wife went to!

Now i was supposed to be posting cult horror movies and assorted chillers over the past few weeks, but i haven’t Two weeks ago was Iceland Airwaves. Last week i was continuing my friends Stag do on my own with vodka and wine, so therefore was in no fit state to do any decent posting, apart from melt everyone’s twitter and facebook feeds.

So on the final Sunday before Halloween, I’m giving you not one, not two, but THREE big cult horror movies to whet your blood tinged appetites. So let stop fannying around and get right down to it shall we?

OK, first on our triple bill is SOCIETY. Released in 1989 and the directorial debut of Brian Yuzna, it star billy Warlock (yes, that guy off of Baywatch) as Bill, a member of a rich family in Beverly Hill and an apparently success person at school and amongst his peers. But despite all of this, he’s never felt like he truly belongs amongst his family and the rest of the local community. He then receives a tape that allegedly contains the audio of his family taking part in an orgy. This tape leads Bill on a nightmarish journey as he discovers his true origins and that of his family.

Society is a social class satire masquerading as a horror movie. Indeed it was a big success in Europe but was shelved in the US for 3 years. It was presumed that the film’s European success was down partially to Europe’s class history and their willingness to accept the films ideas. Satire or not, the film’s final third is truly a display of squeamish special effects that shows the protagonists in an almost Lovecraftian light. It was no surprise that Yuzna would go on to Direct the Lovecraft themed movies “Bride of the Re-animator” and “Necronomicon”. A must if you want to be entertained and slightly appalled at the same time.

 

Next up on our triple bill is HORROR EXPRESS, a Spanish Horror movie from 1972 starring Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing and Telly Savalas. The action takes place on the Trans Siberian Railway in the 19th Century in the middle of winter. Professor Alexander Saxton (Lee) along with Doctor Wells (Lee) are returning to the UK with the exhumed remains of a frozen humanoid creature that may they believe to be a missing link in human evolution.

However the trip is beset by mysterious deaths, with the victims displaying bleeding from eyes that have turned opaque. The creature then defrosts, breaks free and starts to go on the rampage. Can Lee, Cushing and Savalas (as the leader of a cossack regiment) find out what is happening and stop the horror before it’s too late?

Horror Express is a weird mix of Horror, Victorian Sci-Fi, and Spaghetti Western…. while set in Russia. But it does seem to be able to straddle that fine line between scholcky horror and genuine chills rather effectively. A classic from the old school.

 

OK, last on the triple and we need ZOMBIES!!! You can’t have a decent horror night without some kind of Zombie action can you? And of course there are so many excellent films to choose from. You’Ve got the Romero trilogy (Night, Dawn and Day of the Dead), 28 days later, Zombie Holocaust, The Horde, Dead Snow, The Evil dead trilogy, etc, etc.

But for this round, I’m going for the grandaddy of them all, Lucio Fulci’s ZOMBI 2. Released in 1979, it was called Zombi 2 to cash in on the success of Romero’s “Dawn Of the Dead” (which was called Zombi in Italy). While it doesn’t have the epic sweep of Romero’s “Dawn of the Dead”, it completely raises the stakes in terms of gore and splatter. the plot is fairly rudimentary. After a deserted boat belonging to a scientist drifts into New York Harbour containing what looks likes a possible member of the undead, the scientist’s daughter and a journalist sail out to the remote Caribbean island where her father was conducting scientific research. While there, they immediately fall into danger as hordes of zombies arise from the ground and attack them en mass. It becomes a fraught struggle for survival as they try to get out of the Island alive.

When i said it raises the stakes in terms of gore, I’m not kidding here. All I’ll just say is the “Splinter Scene” and leave it at that. Also it has one of the most WTF scenes in zombie movies history as a zombie takes on a shark! Crazy Shit.

Also listen out for the very superior soundtrack made by the master of Italian horror music Fabio Frizzi.

Ok i think that should be enough to keep you going for this evening. Just make sure before you watch these movies thatt the doors are locked, the lights are turned off, and that you have a knife and a gun handy just in case that unstoppable maniac who loves to kill in his spare time decides to come a-callin’….

 
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Posted by on October 30, 2011 in Film

 

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Saturday Night fighting Music: “Hey mate, that zombie just called you a poof! Bash his braaaaiiinnnnz in!”

The night has drawn in….

You can hear the gurgling, growling sounds outside in the street….

The hordes have begun to take over….

In cases like this you hold yourself up with a 6 pack of beer, a baseball bat with spikes through it (or in my case a heavy-duty crowbar), and some decent music. Then you play it loud screaming out from your window “Zombie Hordes….. come out to PLAAAAAAAAAYYYYY!”

Of course they may not be real zombies, just drunken party goers, but you can never be too safe. Best just to cave their skulls in, to be extra sure….

 
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Posted by on October 29, 2011 in music, Video

 

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Mix Belch: Fact Mix 266: Prurient

Even though it was done in July, this mix i feel is more apt for Halloween weekend. Enjoy!

 
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Posted by on October 29, 2011 in mixes, music

 

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Nordic Interstitial Thresholds: “Listen, do you hear that? There’s something out there…”

 

Vodpod videos no longer available.

 

It’s Baaaaaack! So after a short delay for Iceland Airwaves and other assorted disasters, the latest edition of Nordic Interstitial Thresholds is upon us. And with the onset of Halloween, i thought it would be best to have some nice, slightly spooky and blacker than black sounds to make you all feel uneasy by your speakers.

If you like what you hear and want a much better copy to download and listen to then you can get it HERE

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2011 in Download, mixes, music, Uncategorized

 

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Spooky Shit on a Sunday: Don’t go into the house alone….

Well finally Halloween is here. But strangely the mood down at the farm is not particularly spooky. Perhaps this is due to the fact we did the horror stuff last night. Took Sigga to Bío Paradís to watch “The Evil Dead”. We even managed to secure free tickets from a girl whose friends couldn’t attend. And she thought it was boring! Ok, horror movies aren’t really her thing, but she felt it was a bit stupid and even yawned at one moment. The philistine! (although i will admit the element of slapstick in several scenes)

But i will not give up in trying to convince the naysayers that Horror is indeed excellent. so in the last installment of Scary shit on a Sunday, i  shall shed a solitary spotlight on that old spooky theme. THE HAUNTED HOUSE!…… wooo…..

Right first off is a true cult classic. I give you the 1963 film THE HAUNTING. Directed by Robert Wise, the premise is simple. A scientist and a group of volunteers descend upon an old mansion to investigate whether the paranormal exists. While there they uncovers eerie event and sinister sounds. But is it all in their heads, or are they experiencing a real life Haunting?

The Haunting is a classic example of the adage “less is more”. The chills are created with the use of sound and lighting, but we never see any actual real ghosts. they tried to ruin its reputation by remaking it in 1999 with the director of Speed. The fools! Watch this one instead with all the lights off….

Next on our list is a highly underrated horror film that doesn’t get aired often enough. I’m talking about the 1980 horror film THE CHANGELING. It stars George C Scott as a man who moves acorss the US after the death of his wife and child in New York. Renting out an old Mansion in Seattle to start his life again, he finds that the place is haunted by a poltergeist, the spirit of a child. As Scott delves into the mystery of the spirit, eh uncovered a grisly tale of abuse and murder.

Like the Haunting, the Changeling is a film that prefers to keep the spooks unseen . Using no special effects, they use sounds and implied violence and allows the viewer to work things out for themselves.And there are some genuine scares, such as the séance scene. Again a lovely chilling film…

For our final film, it’s time to get some decent monster shock and scares. And I’m going for a superior 80’s B movie that really did freak me out when i was younger. That film is HOUSE. Made in 1986, it about a Vietnam Vet (Played by William Katt) whose son disappears while visiting his Aunt. After his marriage falls apart, he ends up inheriting his Aunts house after she dies. After moving there, he realises that the house infested with ghost and the odd demon who do not want him there. Can he survive what the house throws at him?

OK, while the scares in the first two films are implied, House simply goes for the old “things jumping on you from behind the door” school of scares. But for a low-budget horror, it actually does this really well. when i saw this as a 12-year-old, i remember i couldn’t sleep properly for a few nights. Yes i was a bit of a sensitive child in those days.

so with these 3 films, i will send you off to have a lovely Halloween evening. Try not to have nightmares…..

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2010 in Film

 

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Video Dump: Violens “Violent Sensation Descends”

It’s a scurrilous lie that i just like outsider music that only hermits and heroin addicts like. I also like the occasional pop tune as well. The main thing is that it has to be a decent song. Or a good video….

This is an interesting little video  by a spunky New Yoik pop band called Violens for their next single “Violent Sensation Descends”. A mix of the ghoulish, bizarre and humorous. Very much a sixties pop sound with that the likes of the Divine Comedy and early crowded house/spilt Endz did so well, as well as a little smudge of the likes of Nada Surf. The video takes on the garish Italian horror imagery of the likes of Mario Bava, while the guitar playing priests makes me think a bit of “My Lovely Horse” from Father Ted.

A light hearted Halloween video….

 
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Posted by on October 30, 2010 in music, Video

 

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