Label: Palisades Tartan
Country: South Korea
Romance and vampires instantly brings about thoughts of the god-awful Twilight films that are plaguing the genre just now! But as Thirst is directed by Chan-wook Park (Oldboy/The Vengeance trilogy) I thought it would be a safe bet that it will be pretty good. I was not mistaken!
Basic plot is you have a priest (Kang-ho Song) who volunteers himself for secret project to test a vaccine that should hopefully wipe out a deadly virus. Things don’t go to plan though and the vaccine didn’t work and he virus ends up killing him, he didn’t stay dead for long though! A blood transfusion had taken place during his illness and the blood he was given just so happened to be from a vampire. As a priest he struggles with the burden of not wanting to kill anyone yet fulfilling his need for blood. Add into the mix Kim Ok-bin’s character and his faith tested even further when his more cardinal urges take hold and he enters into an affair with her.
One thing I enjoyed about this film is that there is a fair amount of gore and the best bit is that it doesn’t ever feel like it is just there for effect, as is sometimes the case with Asian horror movies.
Overall I found this film to be very enjoyable. Fans of Chan-wook’s work will not be disappointed as it carries a lot of the same style as his previous works. I loved how the priest really struggles to keep hold of his humanity while still needing to feed on blood. This leads to some very darkly comedic scenes, the best one is him lying on the floor siphoning the blood from a guy in a coma through an iv tube. Kim Ok-bin’s really shows her range in this film, seamlessly moving from the starting role of a shy house wife, so a sexually dominant adulterer to eventually a blood thirsty vampire. I would definitely recommend this film!
Label: Tartan DVD
He couldn’t live without a virgin’s blood….. …So a virgin had to die!
Paul Morrissey, Andy Warhol and Andrew Braunsberg team up again to take on the classic story of Dracula.
Udo Kier plays what could be the sickliest Count Dracula of all time! He needs the fresh blood of “wurgens”… without it he is edging closer and closer to death! The shortage of pure women in his homeland of Transylvania forces him to travel further a field for his meal. So the Count and his servant Anton (Arno Juerging) set off to Italy thinking that as it’s a Catholic country they will have a better chance of finding a virgin. Once in Italy they befriend an upper-class family who have fallen upon hard times financially. Their four beautiful daughters, who are presumed virgins, are of much interest of the Count. Their servant Mario (Joe Dallesandro) has unintentionally thwarted the Counts plans though by having his wicked way with the two daughters that were presented to the Count for marriage. The Count gets a bit bitey with the two un-pure daughters, in-thralling them in the process, but their blood gives him an upset stomach. Mario soon becomes wise to what the count is up to and sets about to kill him.
Blood for Dracula, also known as “Dracula cerca sangue di vergine… e morì di sete!!!” or “Andy Warhol’s Dracula” is Morrissey’s follow up film to “Flesh for Frankenstein”. Both films share the same key cast and even share some of the same sets.
Udo Kier once again steals the show here; he manages to portray the Count as fragile but still holding an air of menace about him.
Overall I found this movie very funny, while it may not the best vampire story out there if you don’t take it too seriously it’s a great watch! This film caused some controversy when it was released back in 1975 for the simulated sex scenes they seem rather tame to today’s viewer. Two of the sisters who have more than the normal “sisterly love” for each other and the sex/rape scene with the youngest daughter who is only 14 (Played by Silvia Dionisio who was 23 at the time) may have added to the controversy. Gore wise; it doesn’t have any of the severed heads or flying entrails that Flesh for Frankenstein is famous for, it is however still somewhat gory… The scene where the Count is vomiting up the un-pure blood or his gruesome death scene should please fans of gore! Where this film lacks in gore it makes up with in style… oh and sex scenes! I highly recommend this film to anyone who fancies something a bit different!
Possibly my favourite line in the film…
Label: Tartan Terror
“Life and Death are Meaningless…And Pain Is God”
Two couples travelling across the US in hopes of writing a book about off-beat roadside\sideshow attractions head off on some back roads to try and find the tree on which “Dr. Satan” (a local legend) was hung. On the way to site they pick up a hitchhiker, Baby Firefly (Sheri Moon)… Things go downhill for the group from then. Their car breaks down mysteriously but coincidently Baby’s house is not far away and so she suggests they go back to hers. When they get to the house they meet the rest of the “Firefly” family and are invited to take part in their bizarre Halloween traditions. After a while it becomes apparent that things are not what they seem! When they are about to leave the Firefly family show their true colours and that’s when the gore begins…
House of 1000 Corpses is an exploitation horror flick written and directed by the famous Heavy Metal singer Rob Zombie. As his directorial debut he set out to pay homage to all of the classic horror films he watched as a kid. This film ticks all the boxes for cheesy horror flick… oodles of blood, sexy women in distress, psychopathic hillbilly killers, grainy snuff-like footage and it even has a creepy clown (played by Sid Haig, perfect role for him!).
The soundtrack is a huge plus for this film, it has songs from Rob Zombie (no shock there!), The Ramones, Slim Whitman, Lionel Ritchie and various others.
Overall I think this is a pretty good film… I love gore and this film has plenty of it! If the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Last House on the Left and The Hills have Eyes got together for a horror film gang-bang…. House of 1000 Corpses would be the outcome! One fault I have with this film is the terrible ending, I thought the sequel would clear up the ending but it skipped it entirely. I wouldn’t say this film is for everyone but fans of blood/gore, grind house horrors or fans of Rob Zombie this is a must see! I would also recommend the sequel “The Devils Rejects”.
Label: Tartan Asian Extreme
“There are two sides to every woman”
Chaos (Also known as Kaosu) is a mystery-thriller from the famous J-Horror director Hideo Nakata.
A handyman gets involved in a kidnapping scheme thought up by the wife of a wealthy business man. The woman who believes her husband is having an affair thinks that this plan will help her find out his true feelings for her. In the spirit of realism she agrees to the handyman tying her up so when she is released the bruises will make the story more believable. Everything was going to plan until he goes back to the flat that evening and finds her dead. Shocking as this might be to add to it he receives a mysterious telephone call instructing him to get rid of the body or else they would call the police. Not wanting to get caught and charged for murder he takes her body out to the woods and buries her. With all that out of the way he goes back to his normal life until one day he thinks he spots the dead wife walking down the street… Is it just the guilt getting to him or something more sinister?
This was not the film I was expecting from the director of the original “Ring” and “Dark Water” films (Both of which have spurred US remakes). What it turned out to be was a nice little murder mystery which is a genre I normally enjoy. The storyline itself if played normally is hard enough to follow but as the film plays out in a non-chronological order… it skips back and forward through the overall timeline (See: Memento).
Overall I did like this film. While it was not what I was expecting but I was pleasantly surprised with it nonetheless. The story for this film definitely feels very Noir-ish to me and the twists and double-crosses really kept my attention for the whole film. While I had managed to work out what had happed before the end of the film, the final scene was pretty weak and didn’t really keep up to the standard of the rest of the film. I would recommend this film to anyone who enjoys puzzles as the first 3 quarters of this film are just that!
The Tartan release comes with Nakata’s previously un-released “Curse, Death and Spirit”. This is three short ghost stories played back to back as a single feature. They are very unpolished but are a good watch as you can see the stylistic beginnings of Dark Water and the Ring series of films.
Label: Tartan Video
Europa also known as “Zentropa” in the US is the third and final film in Lars Von Trier’s Europa Trilogy.
The film is set in a dystopian Germany just after World War II, in this version of events the American Army is in control of the country. Jean-Marc Barr plays the part of an idealistic American of German decent who travels to Germany to “show some kindness” to the German people who are being mistreated since the end of the war. When he arrives in Germany his uncle manages to get him a job as a sleeping car conductor for the Zentropa railway network. While working there he is seduced by the Company director’s daughter (Played by the fairly attractive Barbara Sukowa). She is a part of a pro-Nazi resistance group called “Werewolves” who are fighting back against the American occupation. As the film unfolds the idealistic American finds that he being pulled between helping the Werewolves or helping the Americans.
While mostly shot in black and white it does have some scenes that contain colour. Interestingly enough Von Trier has actors interacting with rear projected images. These scenes have the foreground in colour and the background in black and white or vice-versa this giving them a very surreal feeling.
Overall Europa is a brilliant film… It has a decent story line, the actors are great, the soundtrack\voiceover is hypnotically good and the visual style is mesmerizing! Von Trier has certainly ended the Europa Trilogy in style and cementing himself in my eyes as one of the best directors out there!
I would highly recommend this film anyone who is into world cinema.
Label: Tartan Video
Epidemic stars both Lars Von Trier and Niels Vørsel as writers trying come up with a screenplay at the last minute to present to a producer. The screenplay they are trying to write follows a renegade doctor who leaves the safety of his compound to go out and try and find a cure for an epidemic that has infected the world. But ironically it is the doctor himself who is spreading the disease! While this film is shot mostly following Lars and Niels while they set about researching and writing the screen play it is also inter-cut with scenes from the film they are trying to create. As a twist to the story while they are wrapped up in creating this screenplay there is a real epidemic spreading throughout the world!
The premise for this film is solid enough and I think it is a great idea but I feel that the real world epidemic and the fantasy epidemic needed to be expanded upon. The scenes from the screenplay that were shown during the film I found far more exciting than the “real world” footage.
Overall this film is below par but as the middle film of the Europa trilogy hopefully the final film can make up for this mistake! On the plus side it does have Von Trier in front of the camera and it is the first of many of his films to include Udo Kier.
One of the annoying things about this film is the “Epidemic” watermark that displays in big red lettering throughout the film. I don’t know who in their right mind would think that would ever be a good idea!!!