Blood Money, Vol. 16
Byon Apr 26, 2012
Long live the new flesh! It’s time again for another installment of Blood Money, where we run down all of the week’s noteworthy horror releases (and a few less-then-noteworthy ones) and dissect them for you. Starting as always with theatrical releases, the week’s big title is The Raven, a horror film from the director of V for Vendetta starring John Cusack as Edgar Allan Poe. As if ripped straight from our daily lives here at Chiller TV, the film focuses on a mysterious killer whose victims are dispatched in ways inspired by Poe’s works, except we can only assume that they might catch someone at the end (oh, they’ll never take us alive).
Director James McTeigue is exceedingly capable of creating a palpable mood with his camera, and Cusack is an ideal candidate – if a little tall – to play the brooding intellectual. But it remains to be seen whether audiences warm to a Victorian-era version of Seven or their appetite for serial killers, ripped bodices and anguished authors has been fully sated.
Area 407 is a much smaller film, but it’s got an intriguing concept: after a plane crashes at a secret government testing facility, the survivors find themselves being pursued by mysterious, insatiable creatures. The trailer for the film, which has been floating around since late last year, reveals that it’s a found-footage film, and seems eager to address – if not entirely justify – its decision to use that particular aesthetic. But if the idea of evil dinosaurs hunting down injured plane-crash survivors appeals to you, then Area 407 might be your best bet this weekend.
The third theatrical release of the week is sort of only marginally horror-related – it’s really a psychological drama with mysterious undertones – but it’s our pick and a half for the film you absolutely need to see. Not unlike last year’s Martha Marcy May Marlene in concept or tone, the film focuses on two skeptics who go undercover in a cult only to find themselves involved more deeply than they ever expect. Co-written and starring up-and-comer Brit Marling, the film deservedly won accolades last year at a number of film festivals, but it’s a riveting, intimate little tale that we cannot recommend highly enough.
On home video, Saw II, III and IV director Darren Bousman’s 11-11-11 arrives on DVD and Blu-ray this week. Suffice it to say that the film sort of missed its perfect window for theatrical release last year (or it was released in too limited a run to leave an impression), but Bousman’s a gifted purveyor of creepy, intense stories, and this one follows a guy whose life seemed to be plagued with events that somehow revolve around the titular date. Having successfully shepherded the Saw franchise through three of its most popular installments, Bousman remains a contemporary luminary of the genre, and that make this film a must-see if only for completism’s sake.
Next up is Dark Tide, which was released in theaters just a few weeks ago, and its biggest selling point, then and now, is Halle Berry in a bikini on the poster and box artwork. A thriller about a scuba instructor haunted by a shark attack, the film hardly breaks new ground, but as directed by John Stockwell (Blue Crush) it should at least look authentic, if not pretty damn beautiful. On the other hand, there’s Ms. Cannibal Holocaust, which (fortunately or unfortunately) has absolutely nothing to do with the 1980 Ruggero Deodato film Cannibal Holocaust. It focuses on a woman, known as “The Woman,” who tortures and kills people in a poverty-row tenement, at least until another woman shows up and appears to be salvation for her victims. Though it seems unlikely the film could live up to the sleaze of its predecessor (which was and in some places still is banned), it might be worth checking out, if you’re into that sort of thing.
Although it’s probably more sexploitation than horror, there’s also Marquis De Sade’s Justine: Remastered Edition, which Kino Lorber releases this week in high definition -- whether or not it needed it. Additionally, there’s a handful of true-crime documentaries or at least films purportedly inspired or featuring real-life instances of supernatural activity, including Of Dolls & Murder (which just plain has a balls-out great name), and Paranormal Case Files: Ghost Investigations, which we can only assume is largely self-explanatory. But the winner in the “anything goes” category is unquestionably Killer Nun, a delicious slice of old-school nastiness starring yesteryear’s cheesecake Anita Ekberg as Sister Gertrude, a nun recovering from neurosurgery who descends into sex and madness. Released by the good folks at Blue Underground, this is the Blu-ray to beat for the week, at least in terms of reissues.
There’s a bizarre wealth of films being released this week featuring B-grade stars in Z-grade stories, starting with Nazis at the Center of the Earth, which features performances by Dominique Swain and Jake Busey, amongst others. The title pretty much says everything you need to know about the plot, but with Swain and Busey at the helm, this can only be gloriously bad. Then there’s Night Wolf, starring Tom Felton (of Harry Potter fame), about a ground of travelers who get lost in the woods only to fnd themselves stalked by a wolflike creature – which may already be among them. And finally, stalwart genre icon Christopher Lee stars in The Wicker Tree, a decades-later follow-up to the equally iconic horror film The Wicker Man (and we don’t mean the one where Nicolas Cage runs around punching women and screaming about bees). Lee rejoins original writer-director Robin Hardy, but by all accounts this reunion isn’t a particularly happy one – for audiences, anyway – but it’s worth hunting down, especially if you’re a fan of the first film.
While the horro anthology The Theatre Bizarre is also coming out this week, we want to wrap up on a positive note – a truly positive one – which is why we declined to mention The Innkeepers until now. Ti West’s acclaimed horror film arrives on DVD and Blu-ray with a beautiful transfer and boatload of special features, including two commentary tracks – one featuring West and the behind-the-scenes folks, and another with West and his two stars, Sara Paxton and Pat Healy. This movie really knocked us out last year at the South by Southwest film festival, and is helping West get the recognition that he deserves; but collectors should note that there’s a limited-edition version of the film being released in packaging that looks like an LP. There’s nothing else in the package that’s unique or different content-wise, but it’s a great little piece of collector’s swag to go on the shelf next to those House of the Devil VHS copies they released a few years ago. Regardless, the film itself is so good, it could come in a clear plastic sleeve with nothing else on it, and still be an incredible value – unless, of course, you value your sleep, because after watching it you’ll be up all night.