Saturday, January 25, 2014

"August Underground's Penance" (2007)

Keeping in the line of the 'found footage' film-making that was first mastered by the previously reviewed "Cannibal Holocaust", and also a film that I realized I had not seen and couldn't wait, I decided to tackle the third installment of the August Underground series, Penance.

If you're not familiar with the series, it deals with two psychopaths (always different) who film themselves mostly goofing off and running around the droves of the undergrounds of cities. Oh, and they also are nomad serial killers who kill at random and have no mercy for their crimes. August Underground's Penance is the third and final installment in the series and the reason I'm reviewing it first is simply the reason this was the last one I needed to see.

Penance opens up, rather boringly with our chubby killer Peter messing around with our homely, red-headed nutcase Crusty. The two hop around the outskirts of what I believe to be Pittsburgh, it's all very stupid and not entertaining. But soon, the two start kidnapping people, disemboweling them, and brutally torturing them while filming it all. The best thing about Fred Vogel (the director of all three films) is that the violence is disturbingly real. Every body part, every blood spatter, every bit of torture - it's feel all too real.

This what makes not only Penance, but the rest of the series just as disturbing. When found footage films are done right, they can be terrific. Paranormal Activity got it wrong, Blair Witch got it right. August Underground perfects it. If you can handle the intensity and disgusting nature of two psychopaths who film themselves murdering people on video in a realistic, graphic manner, then it is a disturbing, yet seemingly worthwhile experience.

The scene involving a home invasion takes what was done in Henry: Portrait of A Serial Killer and takes it too the next level. It was a moment I thought about long after it was over and commend the filmmakers for making such a disturbing film.

Disturbing Elements: ***1/2
Film Overall: ***

Sunday, January 19, 2014

"Cannibal Holocaust" 1980

Last night, I thought about what film I should start off this long marathon with. I contemplated doing something a little less famous and/or controversial, but I couldn't help myself. I had not seen the film that is often dubbed the most disturbing film ever made, the most controversial movie ever made, and the most dangerous film ever made.

It's clear Cannibal Holocaust was made to shock people. But, what shocks me the most about the film is how well made it actually is, which brings me to my next point about the film being instantly controversial. Director Ruggero Deodato was actually put on trail and had to prove the film was a film. He brought the actors in court and they all appeared alive and well, so the charges were dropped.

Without this film, we would not have The Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity, or any other film that follows a 'found footage' formula.

Cannibal Holocaust is the tale of a anthropology professor who goes to the Amazon to look for a group of missing filmmakers. Along the way he discovers the very tribes he has been studying to be cannibals and not surprisingly, the group has become dinner. He returns to NYC with the found reels of footage the filmmakers were working on. He is stunned to find out the group is nothing but a bunch of scumbags who cause havoc to be sensational. It becomes clear, the Amazon tribe had had it with the Americans who:
  • raped one of the female tribe members because virginity is sacred to the tribe, thus the woman will be killed because she is 'tainted'.
  • randomly kill animals so they can eat them on film.
  • burn down a hut of nearly half of the tribe.
  • interfere with the botched abortion attempt with the tribe, which ends in the baby and the woman dying.
  • AND perhaps killing their Amazonian guide via snakebite.
They were not helpless victims, they caused they ultimate fate. Even when the tribe goes after them at one point, they could have simply fled, but for the sake of sensationalism they keep filming the attack only to be killed one by one.

I had severely mixed feelings about Cannibal Holocaust. On one hand, it is extremely well made. I can totally see why people thought all of this was real back in 1980 - the killings look geniuine and it's amazing how much they were able to pull off. The acting is surprisingly good for this level of cinema. (I was shocked to learn that the professor, whom I thought was best in cast, was actually a porn star) And the story is really interesting and I was engaged in the film throughout. However, there is something disturbing about the film, and that is the real murders of animals on-screen. They are shocking, graphic, and disgusting. I literally turned away when a muskrat was slaughtered in closeup. And don't even get me started on the turtle scene - it is the stuff of legend and it should have never happened.

I was bothered by Cannibal Holocaust and it certainly is disturbing. It left me with a sick feeling and surprisingly, it's nearly just because of the animal killings. It's about how as society (even in 1980), violence is always glorified and cheap theatrics always gets people talking and paying. All in all, a great way to start this marathon off!!

Disturbing Elements: ***1/2
Movie Overall: ***

...And Now For Something Completely Different!

So, For all the lovely people who still read my blog, I feel for you since I've lead you in two different directions within the last month. This was supposed to be my comeback. Well, Sage Slowdive has decided to take a different root for the new year. I'm going to watch and review the films that many critics begrudge as the most 'disturbing' of all time. I've compiled this list of films from various sources choosing the films that were named most often.

So, stay tuned for some sick ass films, nothing Oscar worthy about it.