Ginger Nuts of Horror
By Alex Davis
It's that time of year again, a moment to reflect on everything that has come before in the last 365 days, including plenty of movies watched in that time. In that spirit, here's our annual top ten Film Gutter movies!
As always, there was plenty of challenging material this year, with some being flat-out disturbing, some being utterly weird and either even finding strange strains of humour in unexpected places. This year's list follows the tradition of looking at movies watched and reviewed in 2017, not necessarily movies released in 2017. It also doesn't necessarily follow a strict numerical order, as on reflection it can be common to see things that little bit differently.
With all that said, here goes...
ONE: IRREVERSIBLE (10/10)
This one was a rewatch after a fair break, and had lost nothing of its superb visual style, wonderful soundscape and utterly crunching impact. Launching itself at the viewer at full speed from the very get go, this story told front-to-back remains one of the finest examples of extreme horror ever crafted, capped by incredible performances from two of the continent's finest actors in Vincent Cassell and Monica Bellucci. Brace yourself, because it is bleak...
TWO: YOUR FLESH, YOUR CURSE (9/10)
Kasper Juhl has been on the scene for a few years now – having garnered a cult following with movies like Madness of Many and A God Without a Universe. But this stamps itself as his magnum opus, at least to date – a beautiful and visceral tale of torment, abuse and revenge. Every shot of this movie is stunning, and with a cracking lead role from Maria-Louise Damgaard this marked itself as one of 2017's must-see titles.
THREE: CAT SICK BLUES (9.5/10
Part disturbing serial killer movie, part insane comedy, Cat Sick Blues was a film I knew nothing about before watching and smacked me in the face with its energy, originality and lively performances. This Australian feature is bat-shit crazy (or should that be cat-shit crazy) and was a delirious experience from the very get-go. If you love classic slasher, but are feeling a little jaded with movies following the formula, then this could well be perfect for you.
Four: German Angst (9.5/10)
I've always loved anthology movies, and with three superb German directors involved – Jorg Buttgereit, Michal Kosakowski and Andreas Marschall – this one was unlikely to miss the mark. Whilst all three sections were very worthy efforts indeed, Marschall's surreal tale Alraune was a standout in closing this one. If you've been a fan of German extreme cinema, this one will feel like Christmas has come early for you.
Five: Kuso (9/10)
A stand-out for the most 'WTF' film of the year, Kuso emerged from the mind of Flying Lotus and its early reviews had marked it out as one of the most disturbing films ever made. If you've read my review you'll know I barely had words to describe it then, and I'm not sure I could do any better now. It is literally like nothing else out there, and for that alone I have to suggest checking it out – the most bonkers anthology you will ever see.
Six: Love Object (9/10)
This wonderful tale of a sex doll apparently coming to life in disturbing fashion is wonderfully told, a horror movie with a distinctly human angle and great performances from Desmond Harrington and Melissa Sagemiller. Everything about the telling and the style is slightly off-kilter, making this a compelling hour and a half. Love Object had stuck with me from a first viewing in the fairly distant past that was a pleasure to revisit.
Seven: Combat Shock (9/10)
Coming from Troma, there was a sense this would be more a b-movie than anything, but I had heard good things and wanted to give it a whirl. And Combat Shock was a very rewarding view indeed – while it's obviously made on a budget, and has a few limitation, it's very effective in what it does and paints a strong picture of desperation and the pure need to survive in the face of terrible circumstances. It's free to watch on Troma's Youtube channel, so check it out.
Eight: Black Mass of the Nazi Sex Wizard (9/10)
Like him or loathe him – and there are plenty on both sides – extreme horror has likely missed Lucifer Valentine. The fourth in the Vomit Gore Trilogy (Series?) is the best of the lot, shot and produced better than its predecessors while certainly losing nothing of the absolutely horrible edge of body horror, playing alongside an (un)healthy dose of psychological and verbal torment. If you like the originals, then you'll be in hog heaven with this one.
Nine: Bad Biology (9/10)
A fun favourite of mine, this utterly bizarre tale of a women with too many clitorises and a propensity to give birth just hours after sex and a man with a huge, mutant penis with a mind of its own and a horrible drugs craving manages to be funny as hell. I can't claim it has any great artistic qualities, but it certainly is a stitch of an hour and a half and if you like a b-movie or two then this is bound to appeal.
Ten: Maskhead (8/10)
And to close on another fun note, this weird and wonderful montage following the conquests of a serial killer taking place across a host of fetish shoots is again marvellous entertainment. It's a bit messy narrative-wise but has energy and enthusiasm in bounds, which makes up for many of those shortcomings for an experience filled with likely very inappropriate laughs. It's clear everyone involved was enjoying themselves, and I expect you will too.
The 'Why Did I Watch That' Award for Most Disturbing Film: Black Mass of the Nazi Sex Wizard
As I've already mentioned, the return of Lucifer Valentine was certainly long-awaited, but you have to really screw up your courage to stick these movies on and watch them. And the fourth installment of Vomit Gore did not miss its usual marks – drenched in vomit and urine and filled with genuinely unpleasant moments of psychological and physical abuse, this remains one for only those with the hardiest constitutions.
The 'Why Did I Watch That' Award for Worst Film: Black Devil Doll From Hell
Good. Lord. It's hard to imagine a movie worse than this could exist, and it remains a mystery to me how this terrible 'shot on shitteo' production (to quote the mighty Cinema Snob) ever got a release. Truly abysmal in every respect, this is a perfect storm of awfulness – the hideous Casio keyboard soundtrack is a marvel of bad music, the acting is lousy, the picture and audio quality are laughable, the plot is paper-thin and the 'scary' moments are nothing short of absurd. For all this, Chester Novell Turner's movie has somehow gained a cult following and earned its place in film folklore – if horror fans had their very own 'The Room', this would be it.
The 'So Long, And Thanks For The Memories' Award: Rampage, President Down
Wherever you stand on the man's work, Uwe Boll has been a unique and hard to ignore presence on the film scene for a long time. While his video game adaptations remain much-maligned, much of his more extreme work – features such as Stoic and the Rampage trilogy – stand on their own as very watchable movies. Boll announced his retirement from filmmaking with the conclusion of the Rampage series, and it was a pleasure to have the chance to interview the man himself to boot. Whatever Boll moves onto next I'm sure he'll have just as big an impact there as well.
Head on over to our Film Gutter review page to read the full reviews for all these films and loads more reviews of horror films from the darker side of the horror genre
By Alex Davis
Dir. Kazuo 'Gaira' Komizu, Japan, 72 min
I was debating how best to describe this movie, and here's the best thing I could come up with – can you imagine if someone at Hanna-Barbera absolutely lost their mind and decided to put together a really extreme, almost hardcore episode of Scooby Doo? You know, with the mystery gang breaking down in the middle of nowhere and hiding out in an abandoned warehouse before all falling into horribly mysogynistic sex and our lead characters each being hunted down by a badly-costumed demon with a huge erection?
Well, you'll be glad to know you don't need to imagine it anymore, because director Kazuo Komizu, or Gaira, has gone out and made it for you with Entrails of a Virgin. Of course it's not exactly that, but it feels like a fitting metaphor because this movie is about as believable and frightening as an episode of Scooby Doo. The plot centres on five men and women – whose names I simply cannot recall at all – who are in the process of shorting a softcore porn film. They're travelling to their next location when their van breaks down and they are forced to spend the night in an empty warehouse in the middle of nowhere. What could possibly go wrong there?
Well, alongside bringing out the worst in our male characters – each one of whom is a shockingly unlikeable chauvinist pig who takes great delight in humiliating their actresses – it seem them all one by one hunted down by some sort of crazed sex-demon who kills the cast in various horrible ways, his erection never seeming to waver once. I mean, two of the female characters he literally screws to death. But there is a survivor – one of the poor women involved – who just so happens to be pregnant, possibly with a quickly-made sequel...
There are two primary problems with this movie – first up, if you took out the atrociously unarousing sex scenes then this film would probably run to about half an hour. And I don't think there's really an argument to say they build the characters up in any way, it's far more about vulgar titillation and simply trying to keep your viewer watching by any means. I could happily have switched off, uninteresting sex or no. It also makes both the men and the women of the movie come across as absolutely awful. Maybe that's deliberate, and you're supposed to be rooting for the demon killing them off one by one, but I'm not sure if I honestly believe this little piece of Japanese exploitation is that clever.
Secondly, I just can't decide if this is a movie that wants me to take it seriously or not. There's not enough laughs throughout to think this is supposed to be a flat out horror comedy or a gross-out black comedy, but there are places where things are so laughably bad you wonder if it's actually on the level or not. If the aim was to deliver a sort of schlocky b-movie that in the 'so bad it's good' bracket I can't help but think it even failed in that respect. The constant near-pornographic content doesn't do anything to dispel the illusion this wasn't meant to be funny, but oftentimes is unintentionally so.
Suffice to say, this goes down in my book as nonsense of the highest order. It doesn't have any shock value about it you can take seriously, the effects look dated, the humour – if that was even the aim – is badly placed and unfunny, the sex scenes fail to garner any interest and all to often play to ridiculous male fantasies ('Oh! It's too big! I hope it will fit inside me!'), the monster is unconvincing and it's impossible to muster up a jot of like or dislike for any of the bland characters. A total car crash of a movie for me, yet somehow it did inspire a second part, which I suppose I should take a look at really...
RATING: 1/10. Rare that I come down this hard on a movie, and honestly the mark is only there because it did make me laugh out loud a couple of times, whether it actually meant to do so or not. There were a spate of similar types of movies made in Japan around this time, many of which have some sort of charm or hook of interest – be they genuinely shocking, utterly bizarre or riotously tongue-in-cheek. Sadly Entrails of a Virgin is none of the above, and crashes in at a lowly 1/10. In fact, now I think of it, I doubt anyone in this movie was actually a virgin at all...