Director: Rupert Glasson
Writer: Rupert Glasson
Starring: Lisa Chappell, Robert Taylor & Sam Parsonson
Saturday kicked off with another solid offering from Australia. Coffin Rock didn't blow me away like Lake Mungo did, but it's a taught, well performed, slick thriller/horror.
A couple have been trying for a child for a long time with no success, until a strange drifter comes into their lives, and a drunken fling with the wife throws their lives into turmoil and eventually grave danger.
It's a story that has been told before and there are no surprises in this psycho-stalker tale, but a powerful performance from villain Sam Parsonson and some tight direction elevate the film to higher level than you'd at first imagine. Parsonson creates a wonderfully deranged obsessive who makes Lisa Chappell and Robert Taylor's characters lives a living hell. He has a creepily charming side to him that he employs to get people on his side, but when this drops he turns into something truly terrifying.
So, it's not a film that will change the world with it's predictable story and textbook finale, but it's a well-made effort and shows that first time writer/director Rupert Glasson is someone to look out for.
Director: Bigas Luna
Writer: Bigas Luna & Michael Berlin
Starring: Michael Lerner, Zelda Rubenstein
Anguish is a mad, long-forgotten curiosity from the 80's that is quite an experience, not necessarily a great film, but certainly something worth seeing, especially at the cinema.
I don't want to give too much away, because the central conceit is such a shock when it's revealed, but basically about a third or maybe half way through the film there is a sudden revelation that turns the whole film on it's head and splits the film in two. The first part tells the story of a troubled optometrist's assistant (played by popular supporting actor Michael Lerner, given a welcome lead role) who is controlled by his overbearing mother (played by Poltergeist show-stealer Zelda Rubenstein) into a vicious killing spree where he cuts out his victim's eyes.
This core of the film is quite effective, with some hammy but entertaining performances leading us through a bizarre and gory slasher story that is pretty mad at times, but still quite effective. Unfortunately, when the 'revelation' occurs mid-way through the film, everything goes a bit wrong. It's an original and very interesting idea, but for me it spoiled the impact of the story that had already been developed, and any tension is lost because from then on the film jumps around too much.
That said, the film is certainly made memorable because of it's eccentricities, and although it doesn't always work, the premise does make it the fascinating curiosity that it is. So as an entertaining experiment it's a film I'm glad I caught before it disappears.
Yoroi: Samurai Zombie
Director: Tak Sakaguchi
Writer: Ryuhei Kitamura
Starring: Mitsuru Fukikoshi & Issei Ishida
You get the idea from the title, Yoroi: Samurai Zombie is a silly action horror film with surprise, surprise, a bunch of samurai zombies in it! Unfortunately, although I never expected it to be a work of art, Yoroi does disappoint as an exploitation flick.
Written by Versus writer/director Ryuhei Kitamura and directed by Versus star Tak Sakaguchi, Yoroi borrows heavily from their cult classic debut. It's got the same low-budget, all shot in the woods feel to it as well as the over-the-top action and gore quota. It doesn't have the kinetic style of Versus though, or the pace, which means it never excites as much as it should. Also, crazily gory low budget action films from Japan these days have the likes of Machine Girl to contend with, and this never reaches the giddy heights of the king (or queen) of splatter.
At the end of all the daftness, the film has a surprisingly dark ending, which I wasn't expecting. It doesn't quite settle though after watching an hour or so of severed heads and pressure-washer arteries. The bloodiest sequences are where the film works best. The effects are never realistic, and some of the bloodletting looks copied and pasted throughout the film, but most of the humour comes from these crazy moments. If gore doesn't interest you, you'll be lost though, as there isn't much else to enjoy here. The comedy quite often struggles to hit it's mark. A seemingly indestructible gangster character provides some bad taste chuckles, but most of the time you'll be smirking rather than laughing out loud.
There is fun to be had though. It's obviously a very silly film, and if the style is to your liking you'll still leave the cinema with a smile on your face. Unfortunately, you'll also have a feeling of 'been there, done that better before'.
The write-ups for each day of the Celluloid Screams festival are now available:
Saturday Part 2