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2010 is almost dead, and it was a major year for me. Because, well, for one, I’m here, through some strain of karmic voodoo editing Fango and enjoying watching all these previously locked doors slowly swing open. I paid my dues, though. My whole life, following my macabre muse though so many close to me told me to give it up, and other obstacles threatened to derail my quest. I didn’t and they didn’t. Here endeth the lesson.
And now, as the year winds down, before I give you the almighty Best/Worst list that I guess I have to, I need to clean off my desk and tell you what I’ve seen, what I’ve read and what I’ve liked or loathed about all those plastic and paper things that come to me in the mail. None of the following titles have received any ink from me personally on the site or in print yet, hence the reasons they’ve been sitting here, collecting literary dust.
Well, silent no more.
THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ALICE CREED (pictured above; Anchor Bay Blu-ray)
Managing editor Michael Gingold raved about this title months ago, and I kept my eyes peeled for it. Mike’s right—it’s damn good. And he’s also right in that it is not a horror film, but rather a dirty little thriller with twists, turns and rough stuff. But if Hitchcock’s name were on it, we’d talk about it, so dammit, why not fete it in Fango? Gemma Arterton is gorgeous and intense, and the other two hands that make up this nail-biting three-hander are excellent as well. Martin Compston is believable and Eddie Marsan can freeze your blood with a stare. The film winds down in familiar but satisfying fashion, but not before whipping your eyeballs and synapses around for 90-plus minutes of sometimes unbearable suspense. Looks great on Blu-ray too…
INCEPTION (Warner Blu-ray)
Again, not a horror film. Not a scary film. A heist film—but a high-gloss fantasy-based heist film that plays out within seconds of a human being’s lifespan inside the subconscious. Christopher Nolan’s exposition-heavy mindbender cost a mint, but every dollar is on screen, from the remarkable visual splendor to Hans Zimmer’s urgent score to the stellar lead (Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page) and supporting (Marion Cotillard, Cillian Murphy) cast. Is it the greatest fantasy film of the year, as some have claimed? How the hell do I know? Why would I care? It’s great, full stop. A remarkable achievement in cinematic risk that pays off. Warners’ Blu-ray is choked with features, a comic-book prologue, conceptual art, a docu hosted by co-star Joseph Gordon-Levitt about dreams and tons more heady stuff.
DEATH OF A SNOWMAN (Synapse DVD)
Again, not a horror film! But Ken Gampu’s fashions are kind of eerie. This tough-as-nails blaxploitation gem from South Africa is ultraviolent, sexy, jittery and just plain weird. In other words, I loved it. Synapse trotted out this little-seen flick starring Nigel Davenport as a cop who teams up with a crime reporter (Gampu) to bring down a gang of black vigilantes. I have no idea if South Africans had anything resembling a “grindhouse” circuit, but this beauty would have sat pretty on a 42nd Street bill, sandwiched between COFFY and one of those “Bruce Le” kung-fu capers.
CANNIBAL GIRLS (Filmswelike DVD)
I’m Canadian. And as such, I f**king love Ivan Reitman’s CANNIBAL GIRLS. Filmed for peanuts outside Toronto in 1972, the future Hollywood heavy’s cheap, campy romp is filled with those austere, snow-caked winter landscapes that make Ontarians’ knees knock with both nostalgic glow and bitter terror of our harsh, testicle-shriveling seasonal hell. Amidst the chilly vistas, Reitman’s film sees future SCTV stars Eugene Levy (looking like Gene Shalit) and Andrea Martin as a young couple who wind up stranded in a small town run by demented “preacher” Ronald Ulrich (erroneously billed as Robert on this DVD’s case) and his three ghostly sex ghouls. Together they make a point of wining, dining, bedding and murdering any men unlucky to fall under their spell while attempting to enlist the women to their cannibalistic cause.
This is the movie that American distributor AIP stuck a warning bell on: it “a-woooo-ga”s when the gore is about to pop and “ding dong”s when it’s done. That gimmick is reproduced on both this Canadian release disc and the US Shout! Factory release—but I think this one is the better edition. Not only do you get wicked interviews with Levy, Reitman and producer Dan Goldberg, you get the latter duo’s 1968 short film ORIENTATION, itself a fun, weird little thing. Plus the distributor gave me a CANNIBAL GIRLS cooking apron and a big-ass real-deal butcher knife with the title silkscreened onto it! The film itself is great: cheap, silly, funny, creepy, gross and sometimes genuinely disturbing. One of my all-time faves.
DARK STARS RISING (Headpress)
Counterculture film junkie and weird-movie Zelig Shade Rupe’s hefty and gonzo collection of interviews with such weirdo film stalwarts as Alejandro Jodorowsky, Richard Kern, the late Divine, Udo Kier, Gaspar Noe, Floria Sigismondi and tons more is so entertaining it hurts. Shade is perfectly in line with his subjects; he seems to drift in and around the mainstream, but always vanishes into the underground, as do his subjects. These are people who are borderline household names, people the casual cineaste may have heard of because of the peripheral ways they have touched the mainstream, but are still as avant-garde and out-there as you can get. Attractively laid out like a mad cut-and-paste collage zine but weighty enough to bash someone’s brains in; I loved this tome. Again, not horror…but its facts are more alarming than any fiction could muster.
OK, that’s it for this round. Stay tuned for that lame-ass Best/Worst list, coming closer to New Year’s.
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