AICN HORROR looks at FRESH MEAT! THE VAMPIRE LOVERS! THE WICKED! THE CLOTH! NIGHT OF THE HUNTED! ELFIE HOPKINS: CANNIBAL HUNTER! & A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 6: FREDDY’S DEAD!
Greetings, all. Ambush Bug here with another AICN HORROR: ZOMBIES & SHARKS column. I’ve got more horror reviews for you this week, but before that, as always…there’s this!
Excited about FREE COMIC BOOK DAY tomorrow? I sure am! I’m going to be signing copies of THE JUNGLE BOOK, GRIMM FAIRY TALES, LUNA: ORDER OF THE WEREWOLF, NANNY & HANK, and some of my other books at AlleyCat Comics all day, so if you’re in Chicago and want to chat and check out some cool comics, stop on by. Find out more about AlleyCat and Free Comic Book Day here!
I’ll be reviewing HAYRIDE next week on AICN HORROR, but until then, below is an exclusive AICN HORROR clip to the new slasher horror film from Midnight Releasing. Here’s the official plot synopsis: Steven Summers returns home to southern Alabama from college with his girlfriend Amanda to attend his uncle's annual Haunted Hayride. Unaware that an escaped killer is on the loose, Steven will soon face the real life embodiment of PITCHFORK, a character his uncle created for the Hayride and Steven's childhood tormentor. Steven will soon realize that not all childhood fears are imagined when the legend of Pitchfork suddenly becomes dangerously real... Sounds like all kinds of slashy fun. Here’s the clip.
FANTASM is a new horror documentary focusing on horror conventions, and it got a new trailer this week. Here’s the official synopsis: FANTASM analyzes the tight-knit community that attends horror conventions in an exploration of how the genre brings fans together. "Fantasm was filmed over six conventions, and I felt myself growing closer and closer to the genre that we all love so much," says Kuchta. "It means a lot to be able to share that love with people, and that's what Fantasm is all about." Can’t wait to check this film out. I love horror conventions, and agree that there’s a specific fun vibe to them that compares to no other. Enjoy this new trailer for the film below.
I reviewed THE GARDEN OF HEDON (reviewed here) a while back, and now the film is doing its own Kickstarter campaign. They are working to raise funding to make the movie free to download on the internet as a way to counter torrents and illegal downloads, which I think it a pretty awesome cause to get behind. Find out more about the film and this Kickstarter here! And check out the video below.
Finally, here’s something you don’t see every day. My buddy Steven C. Miller, director of SILENT NIGHT (reviewed here) and THE AGGRESSION SCALE (reviewed here) and the upcoming UNDER THE BED sent me a Pitch Trailer he’s shopping around to markets to gather support for his new project, which he tells me is “basically ‘Walking Dead’ meets ‘Mad Max’ meets ‘Fight Club’.” It’s called TERMINUS, and if it’s half as exciting as this trailer he spliced together from existing films, it’ll be damn awesome. What do you guys think?
On with the horror reviews!
(Click title to go directly to the feature)
A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET COLLECTION Retro-review: A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 6: FREDDY’S DEAD (1991)
Retro-Review: THE VAMPIRE LOVERS (1970)
Retro-Review: NIGHT OF THE HUNTED (1980)
THE CLOTH (2012)
THE WICKED (2013)
ELFIE HOPKINS: CANNIBAL HUNTER (2012)
Advance Review: FRESH MEAT (2012)
Retro-review: New on BluRay (Covering all seven films of the collection: Part 6 of 7 (Find this film on Netflix here!)!
A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 6: FREDDY’S DEAD – THE FINAL NIGHTMARE (1991)Directed by Rachel Talalay
Written by Rachel Talalay, Michael De Luca
Starring Robert Englund, Lisa Zane, Shon Greenblatt, Lezlie Deane, Ricky Dean Logan, Breckin Meyer, Yaphet Kotto, Tom Arnold, Roseanne Barr, Johnny Depp, Alice Cooper, Cassandra Rachel Friel, David Dunard
Retro-reviewed by Ambush Bug
Plain and simple, FREDDY’S DEAD is by far the worst of the NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET series. There are tons of reasons why, but above all, it’s just that by the time A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET PART 6 came around, Freddy had simply worn out his welcome. By this time, filmgoers saw the monster of their nightmares turn into a cartoon version of himself. No longer was Freddy’s main purpose to frighten. He was there to make us laugh, but because of horrible writing, the one liners were more painful than his finger knives ever could be. By making Freddy more digestible for the masses, they defanged him and by the time the title FREDDY’S DEAD: THE FINAL NIGHTMARE was announced for this 6th NIGHTMARE film, I remember breathing a sigh of relief that they could finally retire something that had run out of stream about two movies ago.
The acting in this film doesn’t help. Even though we have Yaphet Koto as a dream therapist and a young Breckin Meyer plays one of the soon to be victims, lines are shat from mouths with little skill or effort. Freddy himself, Robert Englund, tries his best, but with lines like “Now you’re playin’ with power!”, “I’ll get you and your little soul too.” and “Nice hearing from ya, Carlos!” he makes it hard to feel bad for him having to play the role once again. Still Englund delivers a few devious moments here in and out of makeup despite it all, which I’ll get to later.
FREDDY’S DEAD doesn’t even try to resurrect Freddy. He just appears as if he never left. This time around, we are told that Springfield, Ohio (which I think is the first time Springfield has been assigned to a state—true story, when I first saw this in the theater, I thought they made 50 versions of FREDDY’S DEAD with Freddy’s home town located in the state the movie it was being seen, turns out I was wrong and the town just happened to be in my state of birth) has run out of teenagers and there’s only one left. Freddy tosses him out of town to gather more kids and though he had amnesia, he’s able to bring back a whopping three more kids for Freddy! Whoo-hoo! The amnesiac John Doe (Shon Greenblat) also brings back therapist Maggie Burroughs (Lisa Zane) who has been having reoccurring nightmares as well.
We soon find out SPOILER that Maggie is actually Katherine Krueger, the lost daughter of Freddy who was taken away from him after he savagely beats her mother to death when she finds Freddy’s secret room full of many different hand blades, naughty pictures, and other grimy stuff that a child killer has in a secret room. With a bit of revisionist history being implemented, it turns out that Freddy himself is the victim of an abusive father (Alice Cooper) and kills the kids of Springfield as payback for taking away his daughter…ugh… Though this move may fill in some gaps with some gruesome details, the fact that they try to humanize Freddy by giving him a country song and Oprah special of a backstory shows how far this series has come from the shadowy madman who haunted the first NIGHTMARE.
The best parts of the film are the parts of the film I disagree with, namely the flashback sequences as we see Freddy growing up troubled. Englund is able to act without the makeup here which proves the guy does have vicious acting chops when he wants to. It’s no wonder the NIGHTMARE series lasted so long with him being the consistent thread of talent throughout. There’s a moment where a burn makeup-less Englund is forced to shift from madman to sympathetic soul and he does so with so much grace and believability that it makes you want to forgive him for all the bad one liners.
Though the script is horrendous and the acting is too, there are some positive bits in this film. The line “Every town has an Elm Street.” is actually pretty cool. And though it’s played for comedic effect, the sequence where Freddy torments a deaf kid is deviously fun as he scratches a chalkboard with his knives and amps his hearing aid up to make a pin drop sound like an atom bomb. Still, scares are nowhere to be found here as Freddy acts more like Bugs Bunny goofing on the teens’ Elmer Fudd rather than scaring them.
By this time in the series, all gimmicks had been played out, so they made the climax of the film in 3D where the viewer would slide on the 3D glasses when the final girl does in the film. Contrived? You bet your sweet ass and director Rachel Talalay makes sure you know its 3D by shoving everything and anything in your face with the subtlety one would expect to come from a sixth installment of a failing horror series. Watching it in 2D highlights the lameness of the 3D all the more.
The one thing’s for certain, this film made it clear that we all were ready for a break from Freddy. Though there still are a few films to cover in the NIGHTMARE series, this one marked the end of an era and while this film ended rather abruptly and anti-climactically as the final way to kill Freddy after all this time turned out to be stabbing him with his own glove and shoving a stick of dynamite into his chest, it did have a very cool montage sequence set to an Iggy Pop song which is infinitely better than Whodini and the Fat Boys musical contributions to the series.
The BluRay offers up some behind the scenes interviews which basically apologize for this installment of the series as everyone is in agreement that by film 6, Freddy was out of steam. It’s kind of sad hearing these commentaries and almost makes me want to like FREDDY’S DEAD more…almost.
Retro-review: New this week on BluRay from Scream Factory! (Find this film on Netflix here)!
THE VAMPIRE LOVERS (1970)Directed by Roy Ward Baker
Written by Sheridan Le Fanu (original story “Carmilla”), Harry Fine, Tudor Gates, Michael Style
Starring Ingrid Pitt, George Cole, Kate O'Mara, Peter Cushing, Ferdy Mayne, Douglas Wilmer, Madeline Smith, Dawn Addams, Jon Finch, Pippa Steel, Kirsten Lindholm, Janet Key, Harvey Hall, John Forbes-Robertson
Retro-reviewed by Ambush Bug
If you’re looking for the perfect vampire film, full of crosses and fangs and pierced necks and garlic and damsels with heaving bosoms and all of that--you know, the classic ideation of the vampire story--you should look no further than THE VAMPIRE LOVERS. This Hammer film from 1970 encapsulates everything that makes vampires cool and then some.
Following Sheridan Le Fanu’s story “Carmilla”, which preceded Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” by 18 years, THE VAMPIRE LOVERS is full-on eroticism, horror, and action. The film opens as a Baron (Douglas Wilmer) watches a vampire rise from the grave on his family plot and entices the vampire into his castle after she has a night of feeding. The film then skips a few years later as Emma (played by the doe-eyed and beautiful Madelyn Smith) is seduced by a mysterious countess named Carmilla (the equally gorgeous Ingrid Pitt). Carmilla entrances most of the cast, including the governess Ms. Perrodot (another hottie, Kate O’Mara). In pursuit of Carmilla but one step behind through most of the film is the Baron and General Von Spielsdorf (vampire killer extraordinaire Peter Cushing). While there is a lot of chasing about in this film, the most intriguing bits happen between the women who are all entranced by Carmilla’s charms and turned vamps by her pointy choppers.
Thematically, this film is basically a bunch of heterosexual guys running around trying to save their women from being stolen by a lesbian. The term lesbian is not used in the film, but that’s the main threat here in this film’s eyes. Carmilla dines deeply, not in the necks of her female victims but their breasts, and many a scene is dedicated to these seductions. But while this is a theme one cannot help but recognize, the film doesn’t really beat it into us or serve as some kind of social message. The metaphor is simply there for those who want to entertain it and if you don’t want to, it’s a damn well-paced finely acted film in its own right.
Cushing is at his gallant best here, leading the charge against the fanged femme fatale. Bearing a sword for beheading and crosses for compelling, the actor is right at home playing something different from, yet in the end interchangeable with, his Van Helsing character from other Hammer films. By this time Cushing had his act down in these Hammer roles, but I’d venture to say that though his role is not as prominent in this film as it’s the ladies who take center stage, he shines brightest here as a vamp killer.
The real stars of the film are the beautiful women. Pitt is amazing as the seductress, tempting one second and fearsome the next when the fangs are out. Smith’s Emma is like a porcelain doll with her eyes two times natural size, and other assets large and gorgeous as well. Hammer was known for its sexy ladies, but this film had the rest of the films beat by far in that category.
Though Emma is no more than a prize to be won in the end with Carmilla and everyone else vying for her possession, the story of THE VAMPIRE LOVERS is a fast-paced and entertaining one. Every cliché one thinks of in terms of what is necessary in a vampire film is here, but in this age it wasn’t as commonplace. All of it is done with a serious tone with nary a wink or nod at the camera, which is refreshing to see given the self-referential stance many modern films take.
You just can’t go wrong with THE VAMPIRE LOVERS. If you’re looking for something to titillate, this movie will do that. If you’re looking for classical scares, it has that too. It also has strong performances, amazing gothic mood, and a nail-biter of a story. THE VAMPIRE LOVERS Blu even has Ingrid Pitt reading the original “Carmilla” story, which makes for a fascinating bonus. Highly, highly recommended.
Retro-review: New this week on BluRay from Kino Lorber/Redemption (Find this film on Netflix here)!
NIGHT OF THE HUNTED (1980)aka LA NUIT DES TRAQUEES
Directed by Jean Rollin
Written by Jean Rollin
Starring Brigitte Lahaie, Vincent Gardère, Dominique Journet, Bernard Papineau, Rachel Mhas, Cathy Stewart, Natalie Perrey, Christiane Farina, Élodie Delage, Jean Hérel
Retro-reviewed by Ambush Bug
Though not as great as THE GRAPES OF DEATH (which I reviewed here last week), NIGHT OF THE HUNTED, the second Jean Rollin film to be released this month from Kino Lorber/Redemption, is another winner in my book. Much more subtle than the obvious Romero riff Rollin was trying in THE GRAPES OF DEATH, Rollin fills NIGHT OF THE HUNTED with all kinds of twisted ideas and imagery that are hard to shake.
Upon watching this film, I couldn’t help but think of Cronenberg’s SHIVERS along with other films which took place in asylums during the late 70’s and early 80’s such as ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’s NEST, PHOBIA, and THE FIFTH FLOOR. SHIVERS because of the tall, plain buildings used in the film which takes place in a mental institution called The Tower and the idea of conspiracy which permeates the entire film; the other films because it takes place, for the most part, in an institution which houses people somewhat against their will. With psychology on the rise in the seventies and eighties, it’s fitting that films would take advantage of the horrors of psychology gone wrong. Rollin does so with some beautiful actresses, a dense plot, and some truly horrific scenes.
The film opens with a woman Elizabeth (the stunning Brigitte Lahaie, who also starred in THE GRAPES OF DEATH) walking aimlessly down a road. She is picked up by a driver and he takes her back to his place, not noticing another woman cowering in the shadows completely naked. The man makes love to Elizabeth, of course, since this is the end of the Swingin’ Seventies and that’s the thing you did in those days with women you pick up by the side of the road. But in the conversation after the almost five minute lovemaking sequence, the guy realizes that he might have picked up a loon.
Elizabeth says that she has a malady that makes her forget everything moments after they happen to her. Is this a comment on the casual way sex was looked at in the 70’s? Rollin wasn’t above threading deeper themes in his films, so I wouldn’t put it past him. Basically, Elizabeth is Drew Barrymore from 50 FIRST DATES, or more accurately Guy Pearce from MOMENTO, as throughout the film she tries desperately to cling to memories but fails every time.
This leads to some very interesting twists and turns as the woman is taken back to The Tower, which she escaped from, and reintroduced to the facility as if she had never been there before. She finds that there are other inmates suffering from the same ailment, and later we find that this forgetfulness is the result of an environmental accident. But while some of the inmates cling to one another for support, others prove to be less stable, like the one who sticks scissors into her eyes in a truly horrific scene.
NIGHT OF THE HUNTER is much more thematically deep than most of Rollin’s other films, dealing with institutionalism of the insane and dealing with diagnoses which were just being made of schizophrenia which increases in intensity and often leaves the person in a state of forgetfulness and loss of identity. Because these themes were so prevalent, I found this film to be fascinating from start to finish.
As Elizabeth makes it out of The Tower once again toward the end, she quickly forgets why she is doing so. The image of her listlessly walking in her nightgown once again is an extremely sad one, reflecting the seclusion of mental illness. Rollin is often known to stare his lens a little too long at the naked female form and has been known to objectify his female stars quite a bit in his films. Here this stare carries with it a melancholy that transcends past the beautiful form Rollin usually shows, making NIGHT OF THE HUNTER one of the most thematically deep Rollin films I’ve ever seen.
Coming soon from Uncork’d Entertainment!
THE CLOTH (2012)Directed by Justin Price
Written by Justin Price
Starring Danny Trejo, Eric Roberts, Perla Rodríguez, Rachele Brooke Smith, Justin Price, Robert Miano, Lassiter Holmes, Kyler Willett, Cameron White, Steven Brand, Khu, Mako Veronica, Dan Roman
Find out more about this film on Facebook here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
Uncork’d Entertainment is unleashing a slew of new films for mass consumption and over the next few weeks, I’ll be looking at these new releases. Click here for the website to find out when and where you can see these films. First on the menu is the exorcism flick THE CLOTH.
Points for THE CLOTH for doing something somewhat new as the film takes a page from JOHN CARPENTER’S VAMPIRES and clues us in on a secret sect of priests who do exorcisms for the Vatican under everyone’s noses. Though this concept has been done before, this film is much more in line with 80’s and 90’s action films than horror, as the main character is the son of an exorcist who doesn’t want to follow in daddy’s footsteps as a member of The Cloth. Well, he has no choice as demonic forces swirl around him right and left.
There’s a BLADE feel to these action scenes as some nifty CGI makes for some pretty cool weaponry which transforms and morphs into machines of mass destruction when wielded by the demon slayers. A lot of cool design work and thought went into this weaponry, and it shows as it definitely is a highlight of the film to see these toys come to CG life.
THE CLOTH is not perfect. The acting leaves a lot to be desired, with some of the characters coming off as if they just don’t want to be there. Danny Trejo has a brief cameo at the beginning and that’s pretty much it, but I must admit it was fun to see him in preacher garb. Eric Roberts’ role is meatier, but some of the scenes feel as if he’s a million miles away counting the money he was paid to step into the role as Eric Roberts.
But some fancy CG work and other instances of cool action film moments save THE CLOTH from being unwatchable. I can’t say that you’re going to love the film, but you’ll enjoy the brief time Trejo appears, despite the fact that he’s reading from a script that probably needed one more rewrite. As is, some cool tech and CG make THE CLOTH digestible.
New this week on DVD (Find this film on Netflix here)!
THE WICKED (2013)Directed by Peter Winther
Written by Michael Vickerman
Starring Devon Werkheiser, Nicole Forester, Caitlin Carmichael, Diana Hopper, Cassie Keller, Justin Deeley, Jackelyn Gauci, Jess Adams, Jamie Kaler, Chase Maser, Celeste Risko, Carlos Faison, Robert Young
Find out more about this film on Facebook here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
Wowzers, this was a snoozer. I try to look for the positives in most films out there with the full knowledge that every film is someone’s baby. But not all babies are great, and as with THE WICKED some of them prove to be pretty disappointing.
THE WICKED focuses on an urban legend, sort of like THE TALL MAN reviewed here),which abducts children from their homes in a small sleepy town. Rumor has it the witch lives in the woods outside of town, and if you throw a rock at it and you accidentally break a window, the witch will come a-callin’. Now, not that I don’t understand that kids often do stupid things, but if one if frightened by the witch in the first place as the kids in this film are, why would they risk being stalked by a witch and toss the rock at the house? But I guess if that didn’t happen, there wouldn’t be much of a movie.
THE WICKED is just like every other monster in the woods story where a bunch of kids go to the woods, piss off some kind of monster, and then die one by one in sometimes creative, but in this case pretty lame, ways. Here the witch likes to wrap children in bubble wrap and tissue paper and paste apples to their mouths before running them feet first through a meat grinder. Apparently this witch then makes a hearty stew out of ground Chuck and ground Alice and ground Trudy or whatever their names are in order to regain her youth. It’s a twist on classic tales--not a bad one, just somewhat uninventive since she does this over and over with multiple people in the film.
The problem with THE WICKED…well, there are multiple problems from some of the cast being pretty amateur actors (though not all, the leads were actually pretty good) to a very after school special tone this film has from start to finish, but the main problem is that it doesn’t bother to stick to its own mythology. The four kids toss a rock at the house. One of them breaks a window. Now, if the script were inventive, they might have had the witch go after the one who tossed the rock and never let the viewer know who that was until the end. Instead the witch just kills everyone without prejudice, which to me is somewhat of a disappointment, simplifying the script rather than injecting any intrigue in there.
The look of the Wicked is actually not bad. The witch goes through a metamorphosis after every broth downing and gets more and more human. There’s also some decent bits of gore and an open which had potential to be scare, but showed too little. In the end, THE WICKED is a flick I expect to see show up on SyFy (if it hasn’t already) and in that acknowledgement, you should know how that translates to how good it is.
New on DVD from Screen Media Darkside!
ELFIE HOPKINS: CANNIBAL HUNTER (2012)Directed by Ryan Andrews
Written by Ryan Andrews, Riyad Barmania
Starring Jaime Winstone, Aneurin Barnard, Rupert Evans, Ray Winstone, Kimberley Nixon, Kate Magowan, Steven Mackintosh, Will Payne, Julian Lewis Jones, Richard Harrington, Amanda Drew, Gwyneth Keyworth, Claire Cage, Alastair Cumming, Sule Rimi
Find out more about this film on Facebook here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
Sometimes factors from various different areas converge and it’s a trainwreck, like when a…like when a train wrecks into another train…sue me, I’m tired and they can’t all be great.
Other times, the stars align and though it should be a trainwreck, when the factors converge, something like ELFIE HOPKINS: CANNIBAL HUNTER is produced. And that, my friends, is a good thing.
Part BEETLEJUICE, part NANCY DREW, this fairy tale meets 80’s John Hughes film is something almost uncategorizable, but seems to have all the factors of fitting into a column like AICN HORROR. Ryan Andrews wrote and directed this film produced by both the film’s star Jamie Winstone and her father Ray Winstone (BEOWULF, SEXY BEAST) along with others. The story follows a plucky rebel Elfie (Jamie Winstone), who fancies herself a private investigator with no case save her mother’s accidental death which happened years ago to investigate. When a strange family moves in next door to her home, she pairs up with the nebbish Watson-esque Parker (Aneurin Evans from CITADEL, reviewed here) to crack the case. At first, it might seem that Elfie is simply yearning so much for some kind of mystery to happen in her small village that she is making all of this strangeness up. But soon the Gammons, lead by HELLBOY’s Rupert Evans, begin to show signs that are more than peculiar, and when folks start disappearing in the village, all signs point to foul play--Elfie just doesn’t know how foul.
Since it’s in the title I don’t think I’m spoiling anything, but the Gammons turn out to be cannibals. Now, I know the original film title was just ELFIE HOPKINS without the CANNIBAL HUNTER tagged on, and I kind of prefer that since the film keeps that secret pretty close to its chest until the second half of the film. Sure it’s suggested something is afoot, but cannibalism isn’t even hinted at until later, when Rupert Evans shines as the patriarch of the ravenous family. There’s a scene when he’s fighting back his cannibalistic urges that is both disturbing and downright hilarious. This film does a good job of straddling the sick and the funny expertly.
The film, though, rides on the shoulders of Jamie Winstone as Elfie and for the most part, she comes off as a bit more of a toxic Juno. Sure, Elfie is quick with the retorts and full of snark and attitude, but Winstone is able to let some of that insecurity and innocence shine through on occasion, which ends up making the character much easier to root for. Her on again/off again affections toward Parker and Mr. Gammon throughout the film flesh out the character to more than just a brat with an acidic tongue.
Then there are the scenes of just plain weirdness as the bizarre Gammon siblings converse with one another about their favorite Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. The fact that they are sitting at a table and eating one of the neighbors while this conversation is going on it a prime example of the pitch black humor at play in this whole film.
Filled with gorgeous set designs such as a kite graveyard in the middle of the forest filled with dancing streamers across the twisted trees and the unusual garb of the Gammon family who ooze quirk, ELFIE HOPKINS: CANNIBAL HUNTER is a delightfully twisted film full of genre-bending surprises. Though some may find the lead character annoying, I found Jamie Winstone’s performance to be endearing. Plus the cameo by her poppa Ray Winstone is as hilarious as it is classic. This is a great surprise of a film.
Advance Review: Available now on Video On Demand and iTunes; premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival!
FRESH MEAT (2012)Directed by Danny Mulheron
Written by Brad Abraham, Joseph O'Brien, Briar Grace Smith
Starring Temuera Morrison, Hanna Tevita, Kate Elliott, Nicola Kawana, Jack Sergent-Shadbolt, Leand Macadaan, Ralph Hilaga, Kahn West, Will Robertson, James Ashcroft, Richard Knowles, Andrew Foster, Phil Grieve, Thomas Rimmer
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
While zombie films are becoming passé these days, it seems a lot of films are cutting out that whole death thing in their monsters yet leaving those icky cannibalistic tendencies. All of the appetite with less of the rotting, cannibalism isn’t new to horror, but it does seem like cannibal films are on the rise these days. And I think this is a good thing since I, myself have grown weary of the walking dead.
On the surface, FRESH MEAT looks to be a quirky comedy, and it is. I laughed quite a bit at it. From the clever way director Danny Mulheron introduces his characters listing name and interests to the absolute insanity that this story spirals into by the end, you’re going to find a lot to giggle about while sitting through FRESH MEAT. But while there’s a wicked sense of humor at play throughout, that’s not the reason why I fell in love with this film.
“You just can’t go home again.” I believe is the saying. If you’ve ever moved out of your home to a new place and then returned to that home only to feel as if, no matter how hard you try, you just don’t fit in anymore, you’ll recognize the core feelings at play in FRESH MEAT. Newcomer Hanna Tevita plays Rina, who the intro tells us is going to boarding school, participates in cheerleading, and most importantly to the plot, likes girls. When Rina comes home on holiday, her parents Hemi (ONCE WERE WARRIORS and Jango Fett, Temuera Morrison) and Margaret (Nicola Kawana) seem to be unchanged. Margaret hosts her cable cooking show, while Hemi tries to get his multiple books published. But as Hanna gets comfortable she begins to notice things have changed. It becomes painfully obvious when she finds a human hand in the refrigerator. Then the criminals show up. So while we begin with a tense family comedy about a family who has turned to cannibalism while their daughter is away at boarding school, this film becomes a home invasion film as a prison breakout gone wrong ends up on the family’s doorstep. The comedy comes with us knowing that though these crooks are vicious, they have no idea how bloodthirsty the family they are holding hostage really are. Soon tides turn back and forth with Hanna caught in the middle trying to decide who is worse; the crooks or the cannibals.
Hanna Tevita dazzles here as Hanna and shows a lot of promise in both comedic and more dramatic performances. She is able to juggle the complex feelings her character is going through while still maintaining a level of sexiness as well as spunk and a sense for comedy at the proper moments. The rest of the cast is amazing as well with Temuera Morrison once again showing an intensity found in very few actors these days. In many ways, the Maori actor reminds me of Charles Bronson with his intensity and he’s an actor I’d love to see in more films. Here, Morrison shows great comedic timing as well, as Hemi is both ruthless and comical as the patriarch who has begun following ancient Maori rituals in search for power. Rounding out the cast is Kate Elliott as Gigi the temptress mastermind of the crooks who has more guts and brains than all of them combined.
FRESH MEAT is one of my favorite films I’ve seen so far this year, exquisitely walking the fine line between horror and comedy and succeeding with honors at both. Though there’s not a lot of gore, it’s suggested and what it lacks in grue, it makes up in guffaws. Recently premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival, FRESH MEAT is currently available on Video on Demand and if you like to laugh at your horror, it’s not to be missed.
And finally…here’s a kooky little homage to Cronenberg from director Christopher G. Moore. Horror, this week, comes in bursts with…BURSTERS!
See ya next week, folks!
Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole/wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of AICN COMICS for over 12 years & AICN HORROR for 3. He has written comics such as VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS THE TINGLERS & WITCHFINDER GENERAL, THE DEATHSPORT GAMES, & NANNY & HANK (soon to be made into a feature film from Uptown 6 Films). He has co-written FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND’s LUNA: ORDER OF THE WEREWOLF (to be released in 2013 as a 100-pg original graphic novel). Mark wrote the critically acclaimed GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS THE JUNGLE BOOK from Zenescope Entertainment & GRIMM FAIRY TALES #76-81. Look for GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS THE JUNGLE BOOK: LAST OF THE SPECIES available in February-July 2013 and the new UNLEASHED crossover miniseries GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS WEREWOLVES: THE HUNGER #1-3 available in May-July 2013! Follow Ambush Bug on the Twitter @Mark_L_Miller.
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