Ultraviolence@Power of Bass

Posted: October 21, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

In my first public appearance since 2007 I’ll be DJing at Power of Bass, Ghent, Belgium on the 4th of December. Why Belgium? Well, Joep from PoB has been persuing me to do something for ages as some of my tracks are apparently quite big on the industrial scene over there. My health still isn’t always 100% so I’m not up to booking gigs, but I’d like to be out doing something and I enjoy DJing so there you go. I’ll be booking some dates in the UK for early next year.

I’ll probably be playing for an hour or so, some new material of mine, a few oldies and some new hardcore music that impressed me. In the meantime check out this PoB trailer…I’ll probably extend it into a full length track for the event.

Also check out…

Nick cave and Warren Ellis’ masterful White Lunar CD, featuring re-recordings of three of their recent soundtrack works, including The Assination of Jesse James…which got me into this, although I wasn’t keen on the plodding Oscarhunt of a film. Works as dark chillout music, from the coffee table to the knife rack…

 

Normally if I want to hear Mozart’s Requiem with fucked up hardcore beats I have to spend hours doing it myself, however Disease’s Divided But United (Project Industrial mix) does the job for me for the price of a download. I couldn’t find out anything about Disease, but you can try and buy this here.

 

I can’t stop watching the stunning blu-ray release of Italian horror classic Suspiria, well worth the hi-def upgrade from DVD with colours that punch and rip through the hyperreal blood flow. On a big screen the effect is better than you would have got in the intended format of a 1970s cinema  Goblin’s prog yet good soundtrack is one of the best of all time, but could have done with a remaster as it is rather undynamic and unintentionally distorted – very much like a 70’s cinema when you crank it…witch…WITCH…oh god I’ve got to see it again.

Indie games developer Pencel Game’s excellent Gerbil Physics is worth 60p and a couple of hours of any Xbox 360 owner’s time.  Reminiscent of Lemmings or Elephunk, manipulating boxes of rodents is a charming and gently taxing way to spend an afternoon.

 

 

Tough Talk

Posted: October 7, 2010 in Current opinions

One disagreeable aspect of modern politics is the habit of inventing or utilising an existing phrase, and then repeating such a phrase often over a long period of time so it gives the impression that it is a fact that has always existed. One such phrase that I find to be uber-annoying is “tough decisions” in relation to potential cuts to the budget. The cuts themselves are not the issue I am contending here, but the idea that one would have to be “tough” in order to take a person’s livelihood from them. One particularly nasty feature here is that once someone has lost their job society is being encouraged to see them as a cheat or a “scrounger”.

My definition of a tough person would be one who would disregard their own suffering in order to relieve the suffering of another, or in the context of a sporting activity one who would be willing to undergo a more arduous training regime than a competitor in order to excel. I do not consider insensitivity to the suffering of others to be tough, whether this should manifest itself in areas such as politics, business, domestic violence or warfare.

The idea that the ability to reject people without emotion is an asset seems to have trickled from the business community into the mainstream in the last decade or so. Programmes such as The Apprentice or Dragon’s Den have seen the viewer invited to fantasise about a life spent exerting power over others whilst disregarding their feelings, and instil the idea that such insensitivity is the norm. The cruelty of such entertainment spectacles of Britain’s Got Talent or Over The Rainbow, where rejecting and upsetting children is accepted as part of a ritualised decision making process may be more traditional, but has never been more popular or been executed with such fervour. Whilst the above brain drainers may not be harmful in themselves, I believe they have contributed towards a climate whereby someone such as David Cameron can cast himself as the tough hero in what will be very difficult times for many, but is unlikely to affect the lifestyles of multi-millionaires such as himself.

 

Roll your sleeves up and rate for toughness...

 

Evil Animals

Posted: August 23, 2010 in Pictorial

Contrary to current PC thinking and propaganda from so-called naturalists, many animals prone to thinking in an evil way. Some act on these impulses, going on to commit acts of evil. Here are some historical examples…

It was common practice in the era for horror films to claim to be based on actual events, but the 1961 Hammer film “Devil Bear” had actual routes in police reports from 19th century Holland, where several families were successively the victims of abhorrent ritual slaughter. All were found to have at one stage to have owned an individually made Stief Bear, for whom they had all independantly chosen the name “Clufrie.”

Although a relatively low level Nazi, Sturmbannführer Dorent Bilger was ironically known as “The Ratcatcher” by his superiors for his ability to flush out resistance activists in Vichy France, often by taking their family members hostage, and publicly committing acts of sadistic mutilation, often ending in murder. Wanted for warcrimes, Bilger’s last confirmed sighting was in 1952 on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, although numerous unconfirmed reports have pointed towards Fido’s Pet Bazaar, Norwich, UK.

Pictured is one Scrait Kanes, of Birmingham , Alabama – Grand Wizard of the Klu Klux Klan from 1922 until in 1927 an accident whilst practicing for a demanding magic trick left him trapped in the form of a rattlesnake. Kanes attempted to remain in his role, even acting as the noose during a lynching. However, in a majority vote other Knights denounced his being as “unchristian” and sold him to Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo.  He died of starvation in 1931, after the curator refused his request to examine the bloodlines of the albino rats that were his food.

 

Click here to listen to my review of Rovee 1.0, an impressive vocal manipulation plug from G200KG software. which happens to be free.

The Rovee's concise interface uses just three simple controls

As you’ll gather I’m a fan, so I suggest you head over to G200KG and grab yourself a copy.

26 years after the original video nasty outrage the once banned films are widely available  uncut, mostly viewed as a kitsch historical record of what was once found shocking. Pointless controversy is not dead, though, as two obscure horror films have recently been refused certificates by the British Board of Film Classification in an effort to ban their distribution in the UK. Let’s see if they’re any good, then…

Notoriety

Although a ban in the 21st century may be something of an achievement, Googling either film title reveals that any outrage concerns the ban itself rather than the content the films. All news articles are short and evidently the writers don’t consider the subject important enough to watch the films or do any further research. There appear to have been very small outbursts in both the film’s countries of origin, but they seem to be the results of small scale marketing campaigns. Murder Set Pieces’ top claim to fame being several film labs’ refusal to print such a depraved work. 4/10

2009’s Japanese shocker Grotesque distinguishes itself by being the only subtitled horror film to be refused a certificate. Asian horror is normally left fully intact, although Ichi the Killer (2001) notoriously receiving 3m15s of cuts. It has traditionally been the BBFC’s view that the working classes are most likely to be affected by on-screen violence and unlikely to watch foreign language films. Then head James Ferman speaking in 1975 in reference to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1972):

“It’s all right for you middle-class cineastes to see this film, but what would happen if a factory worker in Manchester happened to see it?”

BBFC must have thought Grotesque to be so shocking even posh folk what can read wood gettin scarred by that scary forin disk. 5/10

DVD editions

Despite the BBFC ban, the ownership, import or distribution of either film is in no way illegal, but all mainstream retailers follow BBFC guidelines and thus will not to stock uncertified material. The Dutch label Cinema Vault’s uncut edition of Murder Set Pieces is however readily available through eBay or Amazon resellers. The sleeve is rather misleading, as the zombie girl is from a dream sequence, but play the movie and the transfer from 35mm looks tremendous on a big telly, with imposing colour palette as the 5.1 soundtrack thumps, squleches and pierces in involving fashion. The movies’ apparently dubious morals, some production in-fighting and unguarded participants make for a riveting and humorous commentary track. The rare Frightfest edition has a poorer non-anamorphic picture but more extras.  Any other editions are heavily censored.  3/5

The proposed UK sleeve design was possibly never destined for the racks of HMV

Grotesque is harder to get hold of, with Malaysian label Keris Video releasing the only English subtitled version of the “unrated directors cut” – the only cut of the film – thus titled in a snipe at the marketing of Hostel (2005). It is possible to wade through the pirate editions to import it through eBay international sellers, but I went for US exploitation specialists Diabolikdvd.com who charge low P&P, accept Paypal and I received my DVD in a couple of days. Customs hassles are possible when importing extreme material, but the worst that can happen is confiscation and I’ve never had any problems at all. The outer box is nicely presented, with an embossed title, but pop the disc in the player and it’s all downhill from there with no extras, low bitrate picture, pixelated subtitles and compressed 2.0 sound. You might wonder why you didn’t save some time and watch it on Torrent instead. 1/5

(note – Diabolik are now selling a different R1 edition, but there are no clues as to its origins or content)

The Films

Murder Set Pieces’ troubled production sees cheap opening credits, with the producers credited under the names of leading Nazis. More questionable taste follows as monochrome 9/11 footage rolls. This could be taken as exploitive or a criticism of the media at the time of filming (2004) when the twin towers were seemingly falling in perpetuity on the current affairs programs. The Nazi theme is ongoing, and could be seen as prejudicial against Germans as the dumb main character reveals himself to be a teutonic Charles Manson quoting, body building, misogynist and serial killer of models and showgirls. Anyone wandering what a young Schwarzenegger might look like slaying sex workers with primary coloured lighting (heavily influenced by Dario Argento’s Suspiria (1977)) need look no further. Known only as The Photographer, when he slips into his native German he sounds suitably oppressive, whereas back in English he gives us such gems as;

“It’s ironic. Women suck blood out of men every day. But at the end of every month it leaks out!”

Director Nick Palumbo often uses a pig's mask to signify dehumanisation. Early in the film it is seen waiting in the torture chamber...ready?

Ironic, indeed as a parade of bloody comic book murders play out in the depths of an alternate neon vision of a twisted Las Vegas. The prolonged torture chamber sequences are the films’ most effective as The Photographer seethes and muses in front of his gagged victims and blood stained dolls about the evils of the world. Deft use of editing, and striking flash bulb images cohere the pictures into one powerful vision, and a true updating of the classic slashers of the 70s and early 1980s. Sleaze fans will also be glad to see Leatherface himself Gunnar Hanson play a big fat daughter pimping neo-Nazi gun trader.

Slight trouble in schlock paradise, though, as despite Sven Garrett putting in a genre classic performance in the lead role the other actors are unconvincing non-professionals from the suitably exploitative worlds of adult entertainment and stage school. A couple of poorly executed and irrelevant scenes appear to have been left in for reasons other than for the benefit of the end product. 8/10

Despite a lack of plot being cited by the BBFC as one reason for the ban, Grotesque’s contrite back story is a sweet and simple tale of the meeting of demure young man and woman, contrasted with the torture chamber in which most of the film takes place, as a Lector-esque classical music loving doctor subjects the bashful lovers to “unimaginable” torments, whilst the motif “would you die for me?” is often pondered, reminding one of Bram Stokers Dracula (1992). With most J-horror awash with unnecessary and tedious surreal sequences this is not afraid to nail it off at 72 minutes, and is all the better for it.

Another reason for the BBFC’s exception to the film manifests itself in an eight minute scene of multiple sexual abuses, at the climax of which the severely disabled heterosexual male victim performs the unlikely feet of shooting his jism several metres, after a job at the skilled hand of Dr Evil. The whole scene is more effective than it deserves due to some skilled acting and effective sound, and whilst rather it may be rather trying, some may suspect sick comedy. This view is borne out by the film’s pantomime conclusion. However, I believe the effect to be the result of a lack of focus and care that can be seen in confused mix of laughs, faux snuff and love story, although all the elements are entertaining enough in their own ways. Fans of pain polemics Martyrs (2008) and Audition (1999) may be find much to like, but this is not nearly as satisfying as the high standards set by either. 6/10

Shock and Gore

As modern movies these two in a fair fight against torture porn king The Passion of the Christ (2004). Although neither film can match Mel Gibson’s maniacal 126 minutes of designer flagellation and slow death, Murder Set Pieces has a pretty good pop, with much hyperreal blood flow courtesy of uber-gore specialists Toetag Pictures, who delight in showing us heavily stylised killing of women in and out of the designer lit torture chamber, with nice attention to detail on the blood stained chains and bones. Felatio from a dismembered head traditionally causes problems at the BBFC as well. The graphic child slaying is hard to watch and I find the use of child actors in this kind of material to be misjudged, as these sequences are either unconvincing or distract the viewer into worries for the actual children, although they are always unfounded as is the case here. 8/10

Grotesque’s signature slow burn torture is inspired by ‘80s faux-snuff originating Japanese Guinea Pig series. The doctor’s quest for carnal satisfaction through sadism knows only the bounds of a limited FX budget, and an eagerness for sexual torture that is at odds with an unwillingness to show genitailia, making for a confusing castration sequence. All is helped along by the decent acting during a variety of censor baiting amputations. A superior finger necklace is shown in all stages of construction. 6/10

Battle of the Chainsaws: The calm Dr Grotesque's use the saw as a surgical instrument may be novel, but Sven Garrett's lunatic weilding and a blistering use of sound just pips it for MSP

Soundtrack

Everything sounds as good as it looks with a superb variety of cues from Tangerine Dream inspired ethereal synth chords to neo-retro grinding and ripping reminiscent of old skool slasher scores. A bit of Goblin inspired prog rock even gets a look in. To its utmost credit it retains its own strong identity throughout, mostly down to the recurring reversed and delayed plucking of the eerie signature piece. Murder Set Pieces also features possibly celluloid’s first and last double lesbian strpiier razor slaying set to bangin’ EBM. 4/5

From the inappropriate slapstick tune of opening credits, Grotesque is punctuated by the annoying and dated use of musical irony. Some of the classical pieces are quite pleasant, such as Puccini during the rejuvenation segment, but the synthesised Elgar late in the film is shockingly poor in every possible aspect. The original atmospheres show clichéd but pleasing use of industrial scrapes augmenting terrified yelps of victims, with some reverberating big drum hits, whose simplicity suggest they are direct from sample libraries. A terrible 80s inspired power rock song accompanies the end credits. 1/5

Result

Murder Set Pieces uses its sexy production values to lure Grotesque back to its pad. Bludgeoned, hog tied from the ceiling and abused for weeks, its confused identity finishes it off as its uncaring makers abandon it to its fate. Outside the battle, both films remain obscurities worldwide, thought to be offensive but so little seen outside their target niche that they offend nobody. Aside from the censors at the BBFC, whom it might be possible to take seriously if they concentrated on their real job which is to provide a valuable age classification guide for parents and cinema goers, instead of indulging in ineffectual cuts and bans based upon inconclusive research, and their own sensibilities. Sensibilities which are evidently fragile and easily poked by warped fantastical works that are an escape from, rather than the cause of, the planet’s many actual problems.

Cookin’ Trax

Posted: February 13, 2010 in Music
Tags: ,

I’ve been moving house again, this time shifting 7 miles from suburban Norwich into semi-rural Norfolk. Much less distance and stress than when we came from Edinburgh 18 months ago – I was ill then and the whole deal was nightmare city. After years of renting we decided to buy a house so I’ve been able set up my  studio permanently, and have just finished a remix for electro death outfit and sometime Ultraviolence support band Gotecki,  as well as keeping up regular two hour tracks, click here to hear one. I made a track late last year that I think is good enough to make a single out of, but I haven’t decided how to go about it as yet – it’s short and very hardcore so I may do a DIY 7″…I’m going do a remix for the b-side then see.  I’m becoming competent enough to consider investing time and money in songwriting and getting vocalists in, which I think is where the best of my music has and will come from. Elsewhere around the new house I’ve installed a ball breaking 5.1 system in the lounge, with partner pleasing hidden cabling which took 15 hours. Less ambitious is my kitchen radio. I went with an MP3 file playing Pure Evoke-3, as I wanted standard-ish sized speakers to check my mixes on and I didn’t want a third big install in the house, especially not when it’ll be getting a good daily greasing – I spend much time cooking and it is probably what I’m best at next to music. I thought I’d share the contents of my first SD card with you – it plays the file names in alphabetical order. Let’s see how far I can get in a thousand words…

About You Now by Sugababes (MP3 single download) Had New Order been born 20 years and had 3 soul kittens instead of Barney they’d have sounded like this. Mixed for just this kind of listening environment and sounding fabulous, with some tremendous synth drops and buzzes.

Classic comp, well worth tracking down

Ballz In Your Mouth by Neophyte (from Neophyte Records’ Action Must Be Taken First Compilation CD) The MP3 compression process reduces bass definition and while the Evoke doesn’t lack grunt for its size it struggles with the complex frequency clash in the low end of one of Neophyte’s many hardcore masterworks. Still gives me goose bumps in the sample breakdown, though, as Eazy E accuses Monica Lewinski of being a “fuckin’ ho” and Bill Clinton of being a “godamn pimp!”

Basic Instinct Main Theme (from Omen the Essential Jerry Goldsmith Film Collection CD) I’ve been getting more into Goldsmith’s work since enjoying the Omen triple CD soundtrack set, and rewatching the DVDs featuring informative interviews with the composer. One of his best other works is this short and playful theme from Paul “Robocop” Verhoven’s most childish of adult thrillers, featuring Sharon Stone as pretty killer Catherine Tramell.

End Credits by Vangelis (from Blade Runner OST CD) There’s kick-ass detail on this soundtrack when played the right system – a shame is that the radio simply isn’t big enough to present a cinematic soundstage.

Influenced by video nasties, my kitchen contains many torture instruments

Adulteress’ Punishment and Love With Fun by Riz Ortolani (Cannibal Holocaust OST CD) If the film didn’t make a vegetarian of you, it is quite possible to relive particular sections given a bloody steak and oversized knife. A beautiful score that translates surprisingly well.

Casino main theme by Georges Delerue (Casino OST CD) The second soundtrack to a film featuring Sharon Stone, this time indulging in some pretty killer acting as Ginger in Martin Scorsese’s top flight gangster epic. The film’s soundtrack clangs on and on with its 60s pop music mainstays until it becomes unnoticeable, then at an apt moment crack your heart open with this genius piece, in the same vain and rivalling Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings. Actually titled Théme de Camille, originally written for French film Contempt I keep on meaning to check out more of Deleue’s work.

C’mon Everybody by The Sex Pistols (The Great Rock n Roll Swindle CD) Swindle indeed, as this is Sid Vicious’ solo work and features no original members of Sex Pistols. And it never should have worked, he being a junkie managed by his loathsome girlfriend, drawling covers to a backing of session musicians, but I don’t suppose he cared much for convention. This is first record I ever bought (aged eight) and still sounding fresh and lively. Check out The Filth and the Fury DVD when John Lydon opens up to give a blisteringly sad account of Sid’s death.

Exodus Main Theme by Ernest Gold (L’Chaim! The Ultimate Jewish Music Collection CD) When building cathedrals early last millennium the idea was to make the constructions so huge and awe striking the peasants would have no choice but to accept the existence of God. Here that mantra is applied to music, with similarly jaw dropping consequences. That said, on sustained listening the bloated construction does get boring, so I’ll be deleting it. I went for years mistakenly thinking this music was used in The Ten Commandments.

Sugababe's latter career bears similarities to that of the Sex Pistols...

Freak Like Me by Sugababes (MP3 download) Early Sugababes and probably their best song, with wicked production by Richard X featuring the slammin’ Tubeway Army sample. After nine years of line-up changes Sugababes have, like the Sex Pistols, began to release music featuring no original members of the band.

Pistols guest vocalist Ronald Biggs alongside Friggin' writer Steve Jones

Friggin’ in the Rigging by The Sex Pistols (The Great Rock n Roll Swindle CD) I first heard Friggin in the Riggin in the early 80s and it’s always stayed with me, from vinyl to Sony Walkman to twin CD decks to MP3. Surely it is more, then, than just a set of expletives – I’ve forgotten slightly fewer of those than I’ve heard. The merging of Last Night of the Proms favourite Sea Shanty, given some “bollocks” with Steve Jones reliably attitude driven guitar apparently displays antagonism between two cultures that cannot co-exist. However, whilst  John Lydon era Pistols material may have been politically motivated, Friggin’ is, like Last Night of the Proms simple raucous fun. The demographics may be different, but musically the two genres enrich one another very merrily indeed. The lyrics are loosely based on centuries old drinking song Good Ship Venus and a major appeal may be the aforementioned expletives, however they offer an enjoyable compilation of daft stories, simple like those for children, yet visual and striking as the best children’s tales are. The fact that some words are unintelligible can make for some fun guesswork.

Also on the kitchen playlist…Hardcore HooliganNeophyte, Hymn Stunned Guys, Jumping all over the World Scooter, Last Track of the Night DJ Promo & D-Passion, Live and Let Die Paul McCartney and Wings, My Way The Sex Pistols, No-one Is Innocent The Sex Pistols, Number 1 Fan Neophyte, Rambo Main Theme Jerry Goldsmith, Rock n Roll Swindle The Sex Pistols, Something Else The Sex Pistols , Star Trek Symphonic Suite Jerry Goldsmith, The Dreamer Lenny Dee, The Grower DJ Promo, Untouchable Girls Aloud, View to a Kill Duran Duran


Cannibal-main

Deep River Savages

deep-river-savages

Notoriety Deep River Savages was the first movie in the outrageous Italian cannibal genre, which may deserve a couple of points, but it has always been much easier to ignore than to find. 3/10

ManFromDeepRiverDVDDVD Edition The only uncut edition is from US company Shriek Show. Surprisingly, the film looks as good as most mainstream movies of the era. Minimal extras, though, notable only for director Umberto Lenzi’s tale of finding a prostitute. 3/5

Film Deep River Savages establishes the all the trappings of cannibal movies – jungle locations, dumb natives, graphic gut munching, killing animals, nudity and unusual sex as well as traffic queue pacing, laughable dialogue and gratuitous aeroplane footage. In a plot is culled from A Man Called Horse (1970) Western hardish man (Ivan Rassimov, dubbed to sound like Richard Harris) ventures into the jungle and is captured by a savage tribe, and after much posturing and ritual earns their respect and joins them;

“You man of tribe!”

The other main influence are the 1960s shockumentary or “mondo” films of Paolo Cavara and Gualtiero Jacopetti, which involved a camera crew going around the world filming various “sick and depraved” lifestyles, especially those of unwestenised tribes, then marketing the resulting footage as drive-in shock fests. Fictionalise, add a dodgy narrative and voila! 3/10

deepriver1

Director Umberto Lenzi recruited this actress in a brothel

Shock and gore The OK-ish make up FX are sparse, with only one scene of limb chomping cannibalism, which may have been shocking in the early ‘70’s, but is lame compared with most of the other films here. The brief gang rape and ritual sex scenes are very much of the “actors with no clothes wriggling” type. Incomparably more troubling, are the numerous scenes of actual violence against animals, for food and otherwise. Possibly hardest to watch is a mongoose pitted against a cobra in what is presented as a local blood sport. The camera looks impassively as the poor snake’s head is repeatedly bitten into a bloody mess, intercut with a separate scene of Rassimov’s ridiculous soul searching. A true laugh or cry moment. 4/10

Soundtrack Competently made but minimal (as in not much of it) the score traverses the moods of “foreign trip” to “look at this –  shocking, isn’t it?” along with the occasional “wow – mysterious” and “CHASE!” 2/5

Prisoner of the Cannibal God

PRISONER OF THE CANNIBAL GOD

Notoriety Seeing off some stiff competion to become possibly the poorest of the cannibal films, Prisoner of the Cannibal God attempts to draw attention to itself by having original Bond girl Ursula Andress get her kit off, but even that couldn’t save it from obscurity. 2/10

mountaingodDVDDVD Edition The Blue Underground label always impresses for bringing us apparently commercially unviable DVD releases. Here we have a good looking transfer of the film complete with extra scenes “from the private collection of director Sergio Martino.” These include inexplicit footage of what appears to be a native attempting sexual intercourse with a huge pig. During an interview, Martino is contradicted for his untruths concerning the animal cruelty in the film, as well as for his claims that the Malaysian locals were unjustified in protesting against the film’s content, which was against their Muslim religion. It is against my religion, too – and I’m an Atheist. 3/5

prisnorstill1

Prelude to one of the worst 98 minutes in cinema history

Film After just a few minutes, an overlong freeze frame established my film-long habit of glancing at the DVD timer. The tedium never lets up as the cannibal-ridden mountain of Ra Ra Mi is ascended by a talentless and greedy band of idiots in their lifelong search for an ever-present pile of shit. 1/10

prisnorstill2

The Pooka tribe...perhaps Pooka is Malaysian for papier mache?

Shock and gore Some brisk editing attempts to disguise the poor makeup, and with the exception of one castration scene there is no satisfaction for gorehounds here. The animal footage is the most repugnant of any of these films. In an attempt to take no responsibility for their actions, the film makers either tie animals causing them to attack one another, or goad animals into unnatural fights and predations and film the results. Combined with the boredom of the rest of the film, the result is not at all shocking, but genuinely depressing. 2/10

Soundtrack The odd Jaws-alike opening music gives way to a plodding hippie colony of a main theme, featuring a poorly tuned brass section which sets the scene in an aptly shambolic fashion. Elsewhere, there are a couple of nicely discordant set pieces amongst the clichéd bongos and hollers. 2/5

Cannibal Holocaust

CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST VHS

The original VHS packaging, as inspired by Robertson's jam jars

Notoriety One of the few films where the UK ban is incidental to the film’s global infamy. Director Ruggero Deodato spent a few nights in prison, wrongly suspected of actually killing actors on camera, and a received a suspended sentence for obscenity under Italian law for the animal deaths. Intriguing tales of Columbian death threats also seem to have some foundation. Subsequent to its release, Deodato and many of the actors claim to have had trouble finding work, such is the universal loathing of Cannibal Holocaust. Around the time of the ban schoolyards were alight with tales of “they kill them for real,” which may have been false, but unlike most video nasties the actual film lives up to the lurid promise. Everyone I know who has seen the film remembers it well, and is normally regarded with much reverence along with any combination of love, fear or loathing. Always mentioned during any serious film censorship debate, Cannibal Holocaust almost earns it’s tagline of The Most Controversial Movie Ever Made. 10/10

cholocaustDVDDVD Edition Grindhouse Releasing’s double disc collector’s edition reaps the rewards of a painstaking restoration process, and is unsurpassed in the superb quality of picture and sound. The astonishing collection of extras will provide upwards of ten hours of top viewing for fans, who will consider themselves thoroughly infotained as many of the filmmakers are gathered to offer their opinions on the tirelessly interesting subject matter. 10/10

holostill1

Cleverly, a make-up girl sat atop a bicycle seat for the iconic impalement scene

Film Cannibal Holocaust tends to be dismissed as exploitive trash or hailed as a work of genius, and there is some justification for both viewpoints. The story of an arrogant and destructive team of documentary film makers, loosely based on Cavara and Jacopetti, is told in grainy 16mm “found footage” as they reek havoc in the Amazonian rain forest, abusing the natives for shocking footage. Back in the beautifully shot “real world”, anthropologist Professor Munro (Robert Kerman) follows their doomed trail, and the twin time lines and cinematic styles are deftly handled and mutually flattering. A third thread set in New York is less successful, as is the inserted wildlife footage and overacting from extras native to both continents. Deodato shows a genuine interest in the subject matter, and the elaborate tribal rituals seem to have some authenticity, or at least are believable enough to generate a compelling atmosphere. Unusually, the high nudity quotient adds a primal quality. With a bang on 93 minute running time, Cannibal Holocaust survives repeated viewings and is always glinting from the DVD shelf of anyone wishing to have their senses assaulted. 8/10

holostill2

Films are more violent nowadays, except this one.

Shock and gore The ingenious FX never overreach themselves, and what is shown  is generally very realistic. A DVD extra showing a recent screening of Cannibal Holocaust portrays typical shocked reactions from those expecting 70s kitsch. The truly brutal sexual assaults are much more likely to have one cringing in disgust instead of the sniggering that might punctuate a viewing of The Man from Deep River, or Deodato’s own Last Cannibal World (1976). Few films of any era are as persistent and enthusiastic in their bloodletting, and the grand set pieces of torture porn mainstreamers Saw (2004) and Hostel (2005) cannot compete. Only The Passion of the Christ (2004) shows a comparably sadistic nature. Indefencibly, archive footage of actual executions is shown, although presented as faked in the narrative. Animal deaths are rife, including a notorious 3 minute sequence in which a turtle is decapitated. Some of the main actors are involved in the butchering of the squirming body, and Francesca Ciardi is seen to vomit in disgust. Some may mistake the headless viscera to still be alive, however death is swift and Cannibal Holocaust’s animal cast are killed humanely, considering the time and place.  However, much thought and talent was employed to make all sequences as vile as possible, and the various components conspire to disorientate, giving the viewer a uniquely disturbing experience. 10/10

holoCDSoundtrack Once again the dual nature of Cannibal Holocaust reveals a sickly main theme from slush-meister Riz Ortolani before turning out musical genius in the piece known as “Adulteress’ Punishment” which contains a beautiful and sorrowful merging of strong early synth bass with mournful strings that are worthy of Samuel Barber. I’ve played the soundtrack CD so often that, corrupted by the experience, I even like the main theme now. Spot the mistake in the film where the projectionist showing the found footage claims to have “layed in some stock music to juice things up a little,” but the soundtrack is as the main film. 5/5

Cannibal Ferox

cannibal ferox videoNotoriety Cannibal Ferox will always be Cannibal Holocaust’s poorer brother, and it tends to be brought up when viewers haven’t seen the latter, or have exhausted conversation about it. However, while it may not be “banned in 31 countries” it has seen its share of bans, cuts and outrage. 7/10

cannibal ferox DVDDVD Edition All DVD prints of the film have a washed out look suggesting the film stock is in need of restoration, or wasn’t great in the first place. The letterboxed Grindhouse edition distinguishes itself with a commentary, where director Umberto Lenzi and star Giovanni Lombardo Radice supposedly argue out the merits or otherwise of killing animals in the jungle, however their vocal tracks were recorded separately. The Sazuma release has a better picture frame, but no commentary. 2/5

feroxshot1

Lorraine de Selle and an opposum. One of these cuties will be hung from a jeep and fed to a snake...

Film

“Just stay put, shitface!”

A risible NYC drug plot kicks off Cannibal Ferox, and is revisited throughout the film as a few disembodied Cannibal Holocaust refugees act abominably. More hilarity ensues in the main jungle plot as an over-overacting Radice and his dubbing accomplice get the cream of the diabolical lines, adding an extra layer of mania to the wacky plot, and the film rock n’ rolls apace, despite a lack of violence in the first half. The cannibals themselves are worth a mention for their ever present  bewilderment and disinterest. Cannibal Ferox is consistently “so bad its good,” a rare trick that is impossible to pull off intentionally. It quickly becomes clear that Lenzi is not into humour when corkers like;

“The mythical lie of cannibal ferox was only an alibi to justify the greed and cruelty of the conquistadors!”

pass without a hint of a smirk. 6/10

feroxshot2

“Hot pussied little whore” Zora Kerova in her infamous death scene that defies the laws of both physics and biology

Shock and gore

“Do you get off on ecology, eh, twat?”

Funny it may be but Cannibal Ferox proves itself to be something of a wife beating clown when it comes to the numerous acts of violence against animals. With the vegetarian natives employed as amateur slaughtermen, a poorly shot turtle scene attempting to emulate that of Cannibal Holocaust is not such a horrific spectacle, but is pointlessly cruel as the wretched beast’s flipper is dismembered prior to decapitation. The animal scenes also tend to have poorly conceived links to the plot, which would be funny, were not the punchline a needless and painful death. Back in the comforting world of actors and red paint, there are numerous nicely bloody set pieces, well done for the low budget but not in the same league as the arresting standards set by Cannibal Holocaust, with the old “long arm with no hand” trick used for one of Radices’ several amputations. 7/10

cannibalferoxCD

Cannibals, zombies and synthesisers...can't go wrong

Soundtrack The toe tapping hummable funk of the main theme complements the naive bleeps and synthetic grinds that accompany the gore scenes in a score that is the essence of video nasties. It is so enjoyable that one worries that the fun police might turn it off. Highly recommended is Blackest Heart Media’s CD, which contains the restored Cannibal Ferox score, as well as that of Zombi 2 (1979) and some humorous cover versions by the CD’s producers, interspersed with some choice dialogue from the film. One particullar favourite;

“There’s something I can’t figure out.”
“What’s that?”
“I don’t know!”

5/5

Cannibal-scores

What a bunch of reprobates we’ve had this round, with Cannibal Holocaust being an easy winner, a true classic of confrontational cinema that munches up the embryonic, the inept and the copycat joker to become Battle of the Nasties highest scorer ever. A cannibal viewing session is watching a little window of history, as the format would be unfilmable nowadays. The portayal of natives as dumb savages would be seen a racist untruth, as opposed to naive folly, although it is worth noting that the Westerners are generally shown as hostile invaders, at a time when such forward thinking was often the preserve of the bearded and beaded. Thankfully, the animal violence would also not be tolerated – although it is somewhat ironic considering society permits industrial scale cruelty of modern intensive farming, as well as the televisation of such entertainments as the Grand National. There is talk of Deodato making a new cannibal film, but it will certainly be a different experience as these jungle jollies are safely buried away in the archives.