Bite (2015)

 

The Olympics in Rio began this weekend and the international community donned it’s blinkers, ignoring the real issues of the day and focusing on the important things that really, truly matter : Sport.
The murder of a jaguar during the torch lighting ceremonies was surely an omen that the gods were not pleased with the shoving under the carpet style politics on the world stage. The shedding of blood is never a good sign at the beginning of any endeavour, unless it’s a sacrificial rite, of course. Animal rights groups were, understandably outraged by the killing of an Amazonian animal, the use of which in the ceremony was also illegal, as the Olympic organisers failed to ask permission from the environmental body that protects the animals of the Amazon.
Great start, I know right?
Then we have the human rights issues at hand, which are a good reason that countries should be excluded from nice things like international sporting events if they can’t play nice all the time. Police brutality, unlawful killings, torture of detainees, and over crowded prisons on the law enforcement side of things, while gang violence, kidnappings, muggings and murder all a daily occurrence.
A body even washed up on the shore of the volleyball beach not too long ago …
Crimes against those in the LGBT community some of the highest in the world, despite the progressive stance of the government, and one person is murdered every day in Brazil at the hands of a homophobic, or trans phobic attack.
Child prostitution is a big issue and after the rise in forced child prostitution when the world cup was held there, for the more skeezy and disgusting type of sports fan, and things have not suddenly changed overnight in time for the Olympics.
Poverty is a huge problem for a middle income type of country such as this and the favelas (a pretty word for slums) are where just under twenty five per cent of the population lives. The opening ceremony seemed to glamorise the poverty it’s citizens dwell in, which is in poor taste and almost seen to be high fiving the issue rather than offering solutions to a real issue.
With a country deep in recession, a recent presidential impeachment, forced evictions, and the amount of public money spent on something pretty frivolous in the grand scheme of things, understandably tensions are running pretty high.
Between all that, the water pollution issues in some of the venues, a fire in the Australian digs (where they claim to have been robbed during the evacuations), and the concerns about the spread of the Zika Virus via mosquito bites, the Olympics are set to be interesting in a way that has nothing to do with sport.
Bite is about an unlucky bride to be who goes on a hen weekend with her girlfriends and gets a nasty infection that was not from her sleazy one night stand! When she gets home she realises that her insect bite will require a lot more than some antiseptic cream, and makes the Zika Virus look like a walk in the park.
If you aren’t a fan of the body shock genre such as Contracted, or Bad Milo, then this is not a film for you. There is a lot of pus, blood, vomit and general viscous fluids throughout that you need a strong stomach for, but if you can stick it out you’re in for a sticky treat!
Although the script is quite basic and predictable, the cast carry it well, particularly Elma Begovic who plays the lead, who gives a real depth to the role . The FX are truly disgusting and delightfully slimy, and make what could have been a quite forgettable girls gone wild and wrong kind of horror, ends up being pretty decent and quite memorable in parts.
Gooey, gag reflex inducing and gory, Bite is a fun little horror that is a great metaphor for the inner demons we all possess and the pitfalls of allowing others in.

Posted in Body Shock, creature feature, critique, fiction, film and media, horror, insects, murder, opinion, pop culture, rant, supernatural horror, thriller, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

100 Feet (2008)

 

This week the main topic in not just those gossipy hack mags, but the so called respectable news sources also, has been the marriage of Johnny Depp and his soon to be ex wife Amber Heard.

Because there is no other news of note happening in the world …
Depp, respected, and established actor adored by millions left his long term partner and mother of his children Vanessa Paradis, and, after a whirl wind romance married the young ingénue Heard, who is more than 20 years his junior.
The reason why the news of the impending divorce is so juicy to the gossip mongers, is because Depp’s young wife is alleging that she is the victim of abuse, both physical and mental. The reactions on the subject, are pretty extreme to say the least.
How dare she accuse Johnny ‘Tim Burton is my Home boy’ Depp? Doesn’t she know that he is beloved and respected? What a liar/gold digging whore/ disgusting human being she must be!
A judge granted Heard a restraining order, and Depp’s celebrity friends, ex partners and even his daughter came out in force to denounce the claims, labelling the young actress a fraud and accusing her of blackmail.
It’s interesting that all of this furore, no one has accepted the idea the Johnny Depp may in fact be guilty and Amber Heard could be telling the truth.
I mean, if a woman married a man decades younger than her, she’d be labelled a cougar, and a cradle robber. Even if her fortune dwarfed her young conquest, she would be the predator. Depp, a millionaire, a shrewd person, and not one for putting it about, chose to marry Heard of his own free will, chose not to protect that money of his with a pre nup, and knowing that this will result in a large payout and alimony without one, is supposedly the victim, if Heard divorces him.
He is not a victim. He is a foolish man, who wanted to chase a girl far too young for him, and couldn’t imagine the idea of her not wanting to stay married to him forever.

The sexism in the reporting and conversation around this story are infuriating and show a pretty worrying trend. Amber Heard may well be a victim of abuse – no one knows what went on behind closed doors but her and her more famous spouse. Just because Johnny Depp never raised a hand to Vanessa Paradis does not mean that he is incapable of doing so – after all he didn’t marry her either, but he is certainly capable of it. John Wayne Gacy had two wives that had no idea about his predilection for torturing and murdering young boys until he was caught.
You never truly know a person, and even the person you think you know best in the world could be capable of violence, or things that you can never forgive. We only ever show others what we want them to see, and just because you’ve seen some films with a guy in, doesn’t mean that you know what kind of person they are, after all, I’m sure he has a top notch PR firm at the very least.
Amber Heard may well be a victim, and Johnny Depp may be innocent, but sadly, it isn’t the point. The point is that when someone in the public eye makes the decision to come out as a victim of abuse and is vilified and victim blamed in such a fashion, it makes it so much harder for women and men to come forward and ask for help.
Bill Cosby, Rolf Harris, and the now infamous Jimmy Savile’s victims were shamed before anyone had any of the now overwhelming facts and evidence against them, and nothing has changed. Status and position in society should have no implication on whether a victim’s claim should be taken seriously, for the law should treat everyone as equal.
Innocent until proven guilty should not just be applied to the accused, but to the accuser also.
100 Feet is the story of a woman who kills her violent cop husband in self defence. After being placed on house arrest, she is made to wear an ankle bracelet, and must remain within one hundred feet of her home at all times, hence the film’s title. Unfortunately for her, the former partner of her husband is staking the house out, to try and catch her out in some parole violation, and even worse the malevolent spirit of said husband, is out for some payback from beyond the grave.
I found the storyline reminiscent of the Doug Peterson case; the serial abuser who happened to be a cop, who was found guilty of the murder of his third wife, and his ill fated  fourth wife, went missing without a trace after expressing her wish to leave her controlling husband. Peterson’s wives repeatedly called 911 when he was violent, and because the police that came were his co workers and buddies, those cries for help and patterns of abuse went unchecked. Those ladies may still be alive today if those officers had done their jobs.
In my eyes they became accessories to those crimes, when they chose to look the other way.
The film is a slow burner.The subject matter is poignant and unsettling, as the injustice of a woman being punished for defending herself, the feeling of claustrophobia as she is forced to live in the place where the violence took place, and the knowledge that even in death, her tormentor is still calling the shots.
Famke Janssen is very underrated as an actress, and she is what gives 100 Feet the oomph it needed. Atmospheric, tense, and in places very disturbing, but the third act seems to fizzle more than bang. Though it has a solid dialogue, script and is definitely one of the better haunted house flicks I have seen, it had a lot more potential but just fell short at the final hurdle.
Original spooks, with a solid casting that is definitely worth a watch if supernatural thrillers are your bag. If you’re looking for extreme gore though, it’s lacking in blood and body count. That being said, it’s a clever film that addresses some sad realities of our society in terms of attitudes towards women.

 

Posted in 00's horror, critique, feminist horror, fiction, film and media, ghost story, horror, murder, Noughties horror, opinion, pop culture, psychological horror, rant, revenge, supernatural horror, thriller, Uncategorized, women's lib horror | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bone Tomahawk (2015)

You often hear people say ‘It wasn’t like that in my day!’, ‘Things were so much simpler back then’, or my personal favourite ‘You could leave your doors unlocked!’
Well firstly, which ‘then’ are we referring to? The then when women couldn’t vote, when racial segregation was de rigour, when gays could be imprisoned for being open about their preferences, when Mickey Rooney was allowed to play an Asian character in Breakfast at Tiffany’s?
I mean, there is so much to choose from, right?
And yes, things were so simple back then! You did as you were told, didn’t question the rules or religious beliefs that were imposed on them, and every one was so content with that.’ Every one’ being the middle to upper class white male, I’m guessing …
Women were seen and not heard, much like the children, no one would bat an eyelid if your wife was given a firm hand in the shape of a fist, and rape in marriage was unheard of in law. Honour and Obey right?
Single unwed mothers were social pariahs, depression/homosexuality/death of husband/domestic troubles/anxiety/reversal of circumstances/epilepsy .. would get you sent to Bedlam, mental illness wasn’t so much treated, as shoe’d under the carpet or sent to get a fix all lobotomy. There was the wild west in America, where lawlessness was king, or when the white man came and raped the natives, took their land, and made them fit into a Jesus worshipping little hole just how they like their indigenous folk.
There were no paedophiles, no crime, and even thieves and murderers had a code of honour by all accounts … No I’m not buying any of it either, but people sure do like to rewrite the past don’t they?
Donald Trump has age and not a lot else but he bangs on about those good old days and ‘making America great again’. Tell me Donald when was it great? When your pimp grand daddy first came over from Ireland? During the lynchings? During the slave trades, the civil war or this ‘brave’ new America where people think that the orange, hamster wigged, imbecile makes enough sense to be voted into the control of nuclear weapons? I mean this guy is a billionaire and yet cannot buy an educated thought, never mind a decent hair piece, yet people are willing to put their trust in a total idiot to run their country.
I mean our Prime Minister stuck his penis in a dead pig’s mouth, and is essentially a rat in a people suit; so I mean, no one is bragging about how intelligent our voters are either, but they all tell the same sort of lies about their own vision of our futures in the end.

My point being that every era has it’s issues, and things sure can look rosy when you’re viewing them from a distance, and if that wonderful vista is viewed from an million dollar tower bearing your name, surrounded by ‘Yes men’ and imported brides, then reality is never going to be your strong suit.
Bone Tomahawk is a horror/thriller set in the good old Wild West. When a young woman is kidnapped by a tribe of cannibalistic troglodytes, her injured husband and what constitutes the law of the town go on a rescue mission, not knowing what kind of dangers lay in wait for them.
This is a film in the true spirit of both the western and the horror. Suspenseful, glossy, and with a deadpan humour that, juxtaposed with the savage brutality and violence Rob Zombie would be proud of, makes for a hell of a watch. Seventies exploitation meets the classic western formula, coupled with the A List cast that includes Kurt freaking Russell, David Arquette, and a cameo by Captain Spaulding himself Sid Haig, everything about Bone Tomahawk screams class.
With the micro budget it began with this was a movie that drew an amazing cast purely with it’s solid, intelligent scripting, attracting actors who wanted it to be made, and helped make it reality; proving you don’t need big budgets to pull off something that is sure to be a cult favourite.
Both intelligent horror, and savage western, this is a film that offers something new with every viewing, and is already an all time favourite film of mine. It isn’t just scares for the sake of it, but a compulsive watch from the opening credits. This is what true great film is all about.
A bloody good watch with a healthy splattering of blood.
You will not be disappointed in the little horror that could.

Posted in critique, fiction, film and media, horror, horror western, murder, opinion, pop culture, revenge, thriller, torture, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Starry Eyes (2014)

Hollywood should be about talent, originality, and hard work. We’d like to think that the makers of our favourite films and binge watching addictions choose the projects because of their merit, the actors because of their performances, and everyone is treated with equality and respect; regardless of gender or looks.
We all know that is not how it works, though. Women, as with nearly every other industry, are paid much less than their male counterparts, the work dries up as they get older, while men become more bankable as their body of work grows. If they are beautiful, women are romantic interests, bitter ex partners, or femme fatales, while the less attractive actors, become comic relief, quirky sidekicks, or bit parts for most of their careers. It’s hard to get a break, because though their acting abilities may be spectacular, they don’t fit a certain look, or are pigeon holed as a character actor because they don’t resemble a Disney drawing, all doe eyed and jail bait looking.
Girls of twenty something are so often, romantically paired with men old enough to be their fathers, while women paired with male actors in similar situations, are portrayed as man eaters or MILFS.
Racial, cultural, gender, physical, sexual and religious stereotypes are rife in media, and propagate these assumptions whether negative or positive, into the world around them.
Physically, the media portrays such unobtainable images of men and women that no real person, could ever live up to. Plastic surgeons and therapists owe most of their bank balances to the victims of being simply average. Or worse: less than.
And yet, fame is such a lure to so many. Some people will do anything to be seen. To have your face photo shopped, blemish free and toothy white,  onto the front page of a magazine, to have their name on the lips of people they will never meet, even if the price is not fame, but infamy.
Starry Eyes is based on the old Hollywood legends of satanic cults/Illuminati made up of a select, chosen few, who have traded their souls for a forever in celluloid .From Jane Mansfield to Miley ‘put your tongue back in your mouth’Cyrus, the occult symbolism, and links to Freemasonry have always gone hand in hand with the glamour and seedy side of making movies.
Sarah, a desperate young ingénue, downtrodden and at an all time low, is given the opportunity of a lifetime, at an extreme price, and learns that all that glitters, is definitely not gold.
Starry Eyes is a truly excellent film. The juxtaposition of the modern pressures on young actors, and the sumptuous temptations of living forever through film, is sometimes breathtaking. It’s grimy and sexy, dark and creepy, and has style by the bucket load. The acting is top notch, and feels like a brilliant back to basics, horror film, the secret societies of those hills .with the big letters can really be proud of.
Splendid and sordid, this truly feels like an instant classic, that will stand the test of time. And if the film-makers have made a Faustian pact to achieve it, I feel they definitely made the right choice

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Tomboys (2009)

In the UK a premier league football player has just been found guilty of sexual activity with a fifteen year old school girl, and is facing the prospect of up to ten years in prison. Adam Johnson, an over privileged and over paid sporting hero in my local area, used his status to take advantage of an impressionable teenager, got caught and his fall from grace has been spread all over the media. Every detail picked over, questioned and debated among those who have nothing to do but rake over old coals.
Now the law is clear on these matters, sexual activity with a minor is illegal. Not to mention the morality of a man in his twenties taking advantage of a girl who wasn’t even old enough to leave school, never mind anything else, but that’s another can of gummy worms. He’s going to face jail time most certainly, but how serious a sentence is yet to be determined.
Until then, his sister is protesting his innocence and trying to get his ‘fans’ (those who still remain) to change their social media profile pictures to those of the convicted paedophile, in a Paris attacks style ‘Je Suis Children’ kind of campaign, and ill fated as her attempts to gain support for her brother (including an attempt at a protest poem which was kindly put by this blogger, cringeworthy), there are some horrendous accusations about the victim being bandied about, by grown adults who have obviously never been the victims of assault or abuse.
Katie Hopkins, the UK’s answer to anthrax, Ebola and the bubonic plague combined; branded the victim a ”slag”, claiming Johnson was just stupid and undeserving of jail time. She’s been labelled a money grabber because she is going to take her abuser to court for compensation, something that she could get from Victim Support, but seeing as though Johnson is currently residing in a house worth point something million, then I say, why the hell shouldn’t he pay through the nose for the trauma he has caused?
Tease, whore, slut, prostitute and many other uninspiring insults are all words that have been used against this girl, and one woman actually commented that if she was her child she wouldn’t have allowed her to go ‘telling tales’ to the police. I mean, really. What kind of society do we live in where a child victim of sexual assault is branded with a scarlet letter and the male assailant is given some benefit of the doubt because he could kick a ball well?
The definition of a victim is someone who comes to harm, either physically or psychologically, as a result of an accident, crime, or event such as a tsunami or other disaster. A victim doesn’t ‘ask for it’, by dressing or acting a certain way, by flirting, by texting, by getting into a car with someone or any other supposed come on; a victim is a victim because there is a problem with the person who thinks it is OK to take advantage of someone, to inflict hurt or damage.
If someone is not old enough to legally give her consent, than a moral and law abiding person can not accept it. It is that cut and dry. Johnson even googled ‘age of consent’ while he was grooming the girl via text. Therefore he checked, found the answer and tried to get the under-age girl to have sex with him anyway.
He may have been stupid, but prison is full of stupid people, and that is no excuse for an over entitled, over paid man to use his position in society to ignore the law and think he can get away with it. He is not a victim in this scenario, but clearly he is still not fully aware of the gravity of his actions, as he’s been throwing huge all night parties at his luxury pad while he awaits his fate, which doesn’t really scream remorse; while his victim has, at her tender age had her life ruined, by both his actions and the case’s notoriety.
Tomboys is an Australian horror that explores the mentality that being a victim, or the stigma of that word can have on survivors of sexual assault. Five girls brought together by a shared theme, a couple of them by a shared attacker, take matters into their own hands in the pursuit of justice, while still trying to figure out what justice means to each of them in turn.
While an original spin on the rape/revenge theme, and with a dirty, gritty grindhouse vibe, Tomboys has such potential to be something great, but sadly fell flat just short of that in my eyes. From the very beginning I was interested in the characters, while still being intrigued of how far their journey of retribution would go; however the clunky nature of the script and some less than stellar performances from some of the women left me feeling more disappointed than anything else. The constant use of the term ‘sexual assault’ in place of the word rape felt clunky, annoying and out of place with these characters. Certain reactions to situations in the film were extremely artificial and just lacked any credibility in terms of human nature, and by the end of the film I was left feeling frustrated with the scripting completely.
That being said, it is a distinctly feminist film, and though there is an ongoing debate about sexism in horror, it is films like this that prove that it is still one of the only genres of film that empowered women reign supreme. Horror women are capable of being victims, but it is always possible for them to take back their power, to survive, and to be their own retribution. They don’t wait to be saved, because they are capable of saving themselves, and that is one of the best lessons any person can be taught.

Posted in critique, feminist horror, fiction, film and media, horror, murder, opinion, paedophile, pop culture, psychological horror, rant, rape, rape and revenge, revenge, thriller, torture, Uncategorized, women's lib horror | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Changeling (2008)

 

The law is something people like to think is perfect. If someone is guilty of a crime, then the premise of the judicial system dictates that that person will be given a fair trial, by a jury of their peers, and given a punishment in fitting with the crime.
Unfortunately, Lady Justice is painted blind and the system she represents is anything but fair. We should deal in facts, science, and evidence, and be unbiased in pursuit of the truth, but people are fallible, biased, and susceptible to the influence of others.
Evidence can be tampered with, humans make mistakes (intended or not), computer error occurs, and politics, personal agendas and prejudice are all possible factors in the outcome of a case, and the consequences resulting from it.
We all have our own take on morality, and as we have seen countless times, those morals have an incredible impact on the people around us, and how we are perceived. Science has proven that we make a judgement on an individual within 30 seconds of making their acquaintance. We all judge on looks, whether we do it subconsciously or not; so there is a reason why Piers Morgan causes me to feel bilious at the mere sight of his picture.
Making a Murderer is the hot potato burning everyone’s mouth at the moment and we all have an opinion on Steven Avery’s case. Most of us are missing the point of the documentary entirely though, for it is not about picking sides, or even about the man’s innocence or guilt; it is about the fact that Avery’s case was tainted from the initial arrest all of those years ago, and that he was never given the one thing that every citizen, no matter their crime, is entitled to, and that is a fair trial.
The Innocence Project, and other organisations handle hundreds of cases like this every year, and sadly they don’t get as much media attention when they aren’t featured on a must watch tv show. Many of these prisoners are on death row, victims of miscarriages of justice, lives and families irreparably torn apart, victims of racial, societal or sexual prejudices or just plain corruption in the system. Things are not always cut and dry, and one should remember this when we consider the morality of a death sentence in such a flawed system.
We can release a prisoner, but we can not bring that prisoner back to life.
The Wineville Chicken Coop murders was one of the most infamous crimes of the 1920’s. Young boys, abused and murdered by a young man named Gordon Stewart Northcott, whose mother helped to cover up his dark secrets, and a police force who cared more about public image than justice.
The Changeling is a the true story of Christine Collins, a single woman, with a good career, whose life was destroyed by the disappearance of her son Walter. The police brought a boy back to her and declared his prodigal return. His mother, was forced to take the child home, though she protested the glaring fact that this child was not hers. The police, not wanting to admit their mistake, accused Collins of not wanting the child back, of being a bad mother, and after she continued to ask the whereabouts of her own little boy, was put in an asylum. After all, she was a woman in a world where men had all the power, and she was up against the true might of the L.A police department.

Christine Collins went through hell, and was eventually vindicated when the hideous crimes of Northcott were uncovered and his mother Sarah, confessed to Walter’s murder, although sadly the boy’s remains were never found. Christine was awarded compensation against Police Captain J.J Jones, but never received the money.
Clint Eastwood’s retelling of this horrifying period in the Los Angeles justice department’s history, is surprisingly engaging and beautifully shot. Angelina Jolie does Collins a great service, by portraying the strength this woman showed in the face of tragic and insurmountable odds. This was a story that needed to be told, to remind us that ugly things happen, and the endings don’t always end up happy.
It is beautifully acted, and harrowing. Eastwood does an excellent job of reminding us that true evil is insidiously mundane, and can lie in even the safest of places. Pressures of politics and prejudices, are far more scary than an axe wielding maniac, because at least with the maniac, you can see him coming.
There is still some doubt surrounding the fate of Walter, and many of the other victims of Northcott, and he teased Christine Collins with promises of confession of the child’s murder until his execution, though she still held out hope that her son was alive until her own death in 1964. The murders were so infamous that Wineville changed it’s name to Mira Loma in 1930, to in some way escape it’s bloody notoriety.

What’s in a name though, when there are still skeletons to be unearthed …

Posted in 00's horror, child murder, critique, film and media, horror, mental illness, murder, Noughties horror, opinion, paedophile, pop culture, psychological horror, Serial Killers, thriller, True Crime, True Horror, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Bring my Baby Back (For Christmas) – Poeina

At a time of year when we are oversaturated with schmaltz, good will to all men, and enough sweetness to put a diabetic into a coma, then a little bit of horror in your stocking always feels like a welcome relief by mid December.

For those of you sick of the Christmas videos normally churned out by the music channels, this little seasonal ditty by Poeina, is right up your street. While it starts off, echoing the usual festive fare it happily turns into a baubled bloodbath worthy of some of the better indie horror films.
The FX are top notch and quite sickening enough for most horror fans, nicely edited and with just the right amount of tongue in cheek for most people, it got even me, most cynical of hearts, feeling halfway festive.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dUW0dQfbSZ4&feature=youtu.be

 

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