Toetag Pictures

Posted: September 23, 2008 in Films, The Horror
Tags: , , ,

It’s a frustrating life being a hardened fan of the horror film. Finding sufficient blood letting is hard enough, but any sort of invention and excitement in what has become a remarkably conservative genre is a rarity. One such rareity, however is Toetag Pictures, an independent collective of talented young people from the land of the dead, Pittsburgh. Quite literally graduates of the Tom Savini school of gore, their movies delight in pushing the boundaries of acceptability into…well, not being very acceptable at all!

August Underground

The first Toetag celebration of vileness invites us to watch the video recorded exploits of two serial killers, but in a completely unflinching way with elongated scenes of realistic torture, including some nasty sexual violence. I imagine this is pretty close to being what a snuff movie would actually be – and if that appeals to you you’ll probably love it. Otherwise absolutely don’t bother. I think they got a bit carried away with the idea of the killer being otherwise “normal”, though, as the day-to-day sequences can be dull.

August Underground’s Mordem

Not sure how the titling system works, but this is the second, and best, in the series. Gone is any mooching around – just hardcore violence – although the acting (of the main characters, anyway) and characterisation are far superior to the first film. The aforementioned sexual violence is ramped up to almost pornographic levels and of the protagonists is female which adds a great twist. This is quite unbelievably sick and reminds me of nightmares I used to have years ago, with people chopped up and fucked all over the place! Sublime and unmissable.

August Underground’s Penance

Not a great conclusion to the trilogy for me, but I gather Toetag consider it the best. Much wandering around and soul searching between the gore, spiced up with infrequent animal slaughter. It’s not exactly Cannibal Holocaust, in that the sequences aren’t staged for the camera, thus avoiding any moral paradox. But I just spent the film feeling sorry for the animals which isn’t how I wish to spend my leisure time, thanks.

The Redsin Tower

The first TT production to be shot on film and it looks not only professional but very good indeed. Coming across like an Evil Dead meets Friday 13th homage, with some knowingly inane and humourous dialogue. The highlight for me is a great “demon baby plucked from the womb” sequence, which is shot in bright light, unlike some of the other special FX, which lose some impact inside the dark and eponymous tower. This, like all TT’s work, shows great promise.

Sp what’s next for Toetag – personally I’d love to see something with the violence of Mordem shot on 35mm, but it is unclear if the company wish to continue producing material like that or become a pure SFX lab which would be a shame. Even if these films aren’t to your taste they are at the very least interesting and are bound to make everyone feel something. Most horror films simply aren’t horrific whilst Toetag seek to innovate and up the gore, sometimes in truly shocking ways. I’d like to see films that will cause as much outrage now as the video nasties did in the 1980s – not nostalgic or ironic recreations of a time gone by. Movies to punish the senses, spill guts and make it hurt.

Toetag’s films are all available on DVD from their website with international delivery. There is also much entertaining info on the company. I am gleeful to report that the AU films sometimes get confiscated by customs in the UK, so you may to prefer to use Ebay

  1. Stuart says:

    I thought the August Underground trilogy were the 3 sickest films to hit the horror genre. I now won’t watch hollywood horror looking for violence because the AU trilogy won’t be topped. Penance was a bit annoying with too much random scenes but still far sicker and better than the saw or hostel rubbish imo. Love the site btw

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