An immigrant cabby named Luz stumbles dazed into a German police station, repeating a profane distortion of a religious prayer to a couple of baffled detectives. Meanwhile, in a nearby bar, a forwardly chatty woman is diving seductively into a spiel about her Catholic schoolgirl friend who just recently jumped out of her moving taxicab to a psychoanalysis specialist on the edge of his seat. Drunk enough to take advantage of, the Doctor falls for the woman’s alluring trap, beguiling him to do her bidding as an unwilling host. As the now possessed doctor arrives to evaluate Nora for the police, he instigates a hypnosis recreation of the details events leading up to Luz’s ravings and disillusions. What happens next goes beyond human comprehension and rational as the doctor desires more from the stupefied Luz than what meets the eye.
Undoubtedly a strong skiff of demonic peculiarity weathering forth against an unforgiving maelstrom of spiffy-glamourous and yacht-sized counterparts is Tilman Singer’s memorizing tale of demigod deception in “Luz.” As the German born filmmaker’s first written-and-directed full length feature film, a film school project shot entirely on 16mm color negative, Singer dazzles with a throwback grindhouse glow set ablaze with a neon flare that adds to the perilous seduction and violation of the mind and primal infatuation. “Luz’s” was filmed in Cologne, Germany, where Singer studied film at the Academy of Media Arts Cologne, during the production year of 2018 and saw success at various Germany festivals, including it’s debut at the Berlin Film Festival and the Fantasia Film Festival. The Academy of Media Arts Cologne also serves as the production company, as it was, after all, a school project, and listed as Kunsthochschule für Medien Köln (KHM).
“Luz” wouldn’t be what as staggering as it is if it wasn’t for the invested cast who brings Singer’s vision to the spectrum. Luana Velis’s seamless grasp of the editing has remarkable wealth when playing a disoriented cab driver coming in off the street and Velis as Luz, in the ebb and flow of reality when Dr. Rosinni (Jan Bluthardt) entrances her with a blend of hypnosis and psychoanalysis techniques, sustains character through various transitions present inside a large police board room, reality, and the subconscious recollection of places and events inside her mind that Singer constructions for visualization, not reality. Singer melds together places, people, and events, throwing audiences for loops and casting misleading signals and just where the hell our characters are gathered. Bluthardt is equally captivating post transformation, coming off like a calculated maniac, resolved in his wild role. Perhaps, my favorite of the cast list goes to Julia Riedler as Nora Vanderkurt, Luz’s icy former bedfellow from Catholic School who slithers into Dr. Rosinni’s ear like a bewitching asp while seeming like a normal bar patron, but Riedler’s spin on Vanderkurt breaks the construct beyond that of the sleazy barfly and into something more conniving, wicked, and alcohol infused while still steamy with sexual emissions. All three performances are keystones to “Luz” success while fellow cast mates Johannes Benecke, Lilli Lorenz, and Nadja Stubiger, offer some spot on support.
“Luz” summits fear with intrinsic performance art of hazy, but colorful, atmospherics and off-kilter shapes and lines, making the most routine settings feel unsettling. It’s a strong cinematography showcase by Paul Faltz who was able to frame and fright a scene from a sterile and fatigued, wood paneled office environment; essentially put, Faltz turned coal into a diamond while Singer brought a keg of European horror to the party. Unconventional, of course, with a profound arthouse quality about it, “Luz” is very much inspired by the European masters of horror, but pulls quite a bit from the vibrancy of American filmmaking too, pulling inspiration more noticeably from John Carpenter’s overwhelming sense of apocalyptic doom from such a scale down narrative and the terror looms like a chandelier hanging by a single thread just waiting from the startling crash of glass and metal. There are themes related Catholicism, homoeroticism, guilt, and obsession through the venomous innate nature of demon, as if unknowingly leaving an open invitation for evil by way of spiritual clairvoyance and Catholic defiance. Full of abstract visuals and melodious dialogue, “Luz” still burns the scary story lantern with a flickering of imminent existential combustion.
While the theatrical release has been officially canceled, “Luz” will still live on through the digital world, being released by Sharp Teeth Films, who released the POV slasher horror “You Are Not Alone,” on June 1st in the United Kingdom. With this being now a digital release, critiquing the audio and video quality will be limited to the artistic direction. Video-wise, Singer sought the use of a 16mm film stock with the speckle and grain texture of that beloved, yet enveloping imperfection and shooting in an anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio of 2.35:1, using an Arri Alexa and RED cameras that supported an anamorphic lenses. The result is phenomenal to digest with some serious depth when considering how small the sets are, turning mere pockets of space into the likes of grand ball rooms. The German, Spanish, and very little English dialogue tracks are clear and prominently abutted against a well adjusted ambience mix; in all, the audio package has good depth and range. There were no bonus features included with the digital screener. “Luz” is weird, mystifying, and can wriggle into your favor with a chilling essence taking a leisurely stroll along your back, propping up the hairs one strand at a time. Highly recommended.
Pizza, that delicious concoction of bread, marinara, cheese, and your topping of choice kneaded and pieced together in a gooey circular of staple culinary awesomeness, has somehow found its way baked into an Italian-sans-meatball horror anthology that promises an equally saucy taste of crusted blood red gore. Five varied, harried tales of horror molded into a gruesome and terrifying VHS-style that will send chills down your spine as you swallow your first piping hot bite of pizza will either have you hungry for more or hurling out your pepperonis. These tales of macabre include the cursed audio tracks of a deadly screaming ghost, the grisly torture and murder in the name of Satan, the tragic and supernatural deaths of two ill-fated lovers, a wooded creature stalking stranded motorists, and a VHS tape that seeks revenge on its former, ungrateful owner.
Let’s take our time traveling machine back to 2014 where Italian filmmaker, Lorenzo Fassina, releases his second feature directorial film behind the horror-comedy, “Anamnesi Mutante,” transmitting by way of a five tale anthology humorously entitled “Creepy Tales of Pizza and Gore;” the titles of the shorts are “Screaming Ghost,” “Devil of the Night,” “Alone in the House,” “Wood,” and “Killer Tape.” Co-directed with producer Marco Giangiarelli, The Milan born Fassina’s background also includes being a director of a collection of short films and music videos for bands that include Italian metal bands Cripple Bastards and Viscera///, similar music scores the anthology. The eclectic tales that greatly homage horror of the 80’s that include rich in color film titles and poignant atmosphere audio mixes, each have a runtime average of approx. 10 minutes long, and offer a mixed macabre of subgenre goodness from technological horror to inanimate object horror besieged with an interlacing host, a faceless, demon-like presenter with much to say, much like the Crypt Keeper. My apologies in advance as the screener that was provided didn’t have subtitles so the host’s soliloquy goes mostly misunderstood, but by the way of editing and how the syntax is structured, one would assume the ghoulish emcee sets up the pizza eaters with the next short video nasty. “Creepy Tales of Pizza and Gore” is produced by Fassina’s indie company, DirtyTape.
Most of us in the States more than likely won’t find any familiar faces inside the confines of these five tales and, know what? That’s okay! Aside from our hell bound host, there’s not a lick of dialogue spoken, but the capability to connect with the characters and the capacity to understand the story without words is as transparent as crystal clear waters of the Venice canals. An assemble of facial and eye expressions and a well edited together script and structure by Fassina for each short provides a sustainable and a sufficient menacing mixed bag of mouthwatering horror. The largely novice cast has either worked on previous projects with Fassina before or are an unknown delight to us viewers and cast list includes Sara Antonicelli, Beatrice Cartoni, Jonathan Farlotta, Jacopo Grandi, Francesco Marra, Tommaso Meledina, Alessandro Melito, Riccardo Tiberi, and Bunny Roberts with a cherry on top topless scene for good measure.
I’m not a terribly big fan of anthologies. Yes, I enjoy “Creepshow 2,” like every other horror fanatic smuck, and I do revel in the grave zest of the low-budget spectrum, especially with compilations from directors of the “HI-8”, aka “Horror Independent 8,” that featured the bloodbath films of some 80s/90’s SOV prodigies in Ron Bonk, Donald Farmer, Tim Ritter, and Marcus Koch, but most anthologies find their unsuccessful way right toward the trash bin, condensed to third-rate releases with little-to-no marketing and hardly any surplus material in the special feature department. “Creepy Tales of Pizza and Gore” may be a foreign anthology barely making an insignificant speck in the cinema market, but certainly shouldn’t be overlooked as the derived golden age of an immensely beloved straight-to-VHS horror courses through the veins of Fassina’s reverencing anthology. The stories garnish b-reel content, but not necessarily effortless or incompetent in substance and range from serious, to tongue-in-cheek, and out right absurdity, with the latter stories being the weaker links. In all, it’s a fun and entertainment horror show from our Italian friends.
“Creepy Tales of Pizza and Gore is delivered fresh and blood warm onto DVD home video courtesy of the New Jersey based distributor, Bayview Entertainment. As aforementioned, Bayview Entertainment publicity provided a streaming screening link so the audio and video aspects will not be critique for this review, but the DVD specs include a single disc, Anamorphic widescreen presentation, with an unrated rating on an Italian language anthology that, supposedly, has English subtitles – my screener did not have subtitles. Bayview Entertainment’s DVD casing resembles entirely like a VHS-cassette with faux movie rental stickers stuck on the outer plastic. The packaging is a nice and warranted touch to a VHS-homaging anthology. There were no special features included with the screener or released in the press release. Chow down on night with “Creepy Tales of Pizza and Gore;” a validating horror anthology worthy of time and effort and reaffirming the faith in anthologies once again with wild, imaginative macabre ambitions without the stiffening efforts of pushy financiers calling behind-the-wheel shots.
Welcome to the Suffering Bible, a collection of violating and gory interpreted religious allegories digging into stark contrasts of sin and piety and illuminating the darker side of these allegories with a lacerating gruesome perspective. These short stories include the internal strife of a psychopaths strong urge for forbidden lesbian companionship with the contentious, bigoted teachings of finding forever friends inside God’s eyes, a visceral performing depiction of the Incredulity of St. Thomas, an extreme mortification of the flesh, the prideful consequences with a Devil’s pact, and the murderous portrayals of lost souls needing redemption into God’s good graces.
Right in time for the Easter holiday, where Jesus Christ has risen back from the dead for our salvation, comes Davide Pesca’s written and directed “Suffering Bible” of sinfully derived tales of reverent and irreverent perfervid images. The Italian made and produced anthology that’s a contexture of stories is forged together with a wraparound story of the Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden apologue. “Suffering Bible” begins with a title card excerpt, Tear thy neighbor as thyself, from an unknown storyteller named saamang Ruinees with a skewed version of the second commandment, Love thy neighbor as thyself, subtly denouncing the evils in popular religious culture and then slithering them, not so subtly, into the shorts of those suffering at behest of the bible. Pesca’s shock efforts have come across ItsBlogginEvil.com’s radar once before with another short framed macabre tale, “Hemophobia,” from Artsploitation’s home distributed release of “A Taste of Phobia” anthology and “Hemophobia” is and feels more commercialized with less than salutary toward mutilation and variety body meat, but the filmmaker does fly on a parallel body horror plane and has had his shorts featured alongside with fellow Italian auteur and shock director, Domiziano Cristophario (“House of Flesh Manniquins,” “Red Krokodil”) with a more rudimentary, analogue-video-feel approach. “Suffering Bible” is self-produced by his independent production and distribution company – Demented Gore Productions.
Being an Italian made cast functioning on the performances grounds of a heel budget writing up about “Suffering Bible’s” actors and actresses past credits, influences, methods and so on is proving to be a challenging task. Most of the cast is comprised of alternative, half-naked women, such as Nicola Fugazza and Mary Rubes who are the sole credited on IMDB.com. Rubes, an erotic model, becomes “Suffering Bible’s” inadvertent poster girl that graces the Sub Rosa Studio’s DVD cover and static menu as her seductively deceptive solo performance of body and genital self-mutilation is the most unsettling story revolving around mortification of the flesh. Rubes has previously worked with Pesca on a 2017 short film entitled “Fame de Vampira,” which also co-stars Beata Walewska. Both Rubes and Walewska sizzle in the Italian action scene with “Rage Killers” by director Roger A. Fratter, who co-directed “Fame de Vampira.” As you can see, a casting inner circle is starting to form, but that’s the extent of the network with Simon Rocca, Simon Macleod, Catlin Strange, Pate Douce, Paolo Salvadeo, Emilio Stangalini, Paolo Borsa, Emanuela La Neve, Chiara Digonzelli, and Marilena Marmo.
On the surface, “Suffering Bible” has a unwieldly, pigeonhole affect that places the impervious shutters around one’s peepers and thinking cap for the pleasures of gore and nudity that run continuously rampant, but Davide Pesca has a connect-the-dot vision that aims to unveil the worst of religious culture, using graphic imagery in a reverse psychological and divinity experience that’s wildly novel inside a less commercialized parameters and the more I stew on this film, the more I like it. Without this review not seeming to be a theoretical paper on Davide Pesca and the “Suffering Bible,” examples of the filmmaker using gore as the pain and suffering vessel for those struggling to be closer to God can be modeled from the first short, “My Only God” aka “Friends Forever,” in which a woman stitches herself to her now dead friend to be closer to her, as if their friendship, which was severed insinuated by the dead woman, will continue in the afterlife. Same can be said about the last, if not more potently gristly, short, “The Redemption of Last Souls,” where a druggie, a terminal ill person, and a homeless man who has lost family connectivity have nothing left to lose, have lost faith, and seek redemption through being chair strapped subjects of a snuff film. While “My Only God” and “The Redemption of Lost Souls” caters to the barbaric rite of celestial passage, Davide Pesca’s specialty falls more within the lines of body horror as the filmmaker has saturated himself in the infatuation of the Body Modification culture, reflected in his “St. Thomas” and “In The Name of The Father” that include Doubting Thomas reaching protractedly into a crucified Jesus’s side slit and include the extreme mortification of the sinful flesh – eyes, breasts, and clitoris – by a devout devotee.
“Suffering Bible” is a throwback moxie livid on sin and body destruction and it’s a title coming to you on DVD home vide like a disastrous, break faith, miracle from SRS Home Video and MVDVisual. Though listed as a retro release by SRS, “Suffering Bible” released in 2018, shooting over the course of a few years prior more than likely, with a combination sepia-color approach and the result outputted a strained and digitally cursed image of a widescreen, 1.78:1 presentation that suffers from severe compression artifacts in conjunction with digital interference. The errs are absolved by the very label of a throwback “erotic art house horror” gracing the retro, faux-VHS DVD back cover. The single channel stereo has limited flexibility with some ostentatious, if not laughable, Foley work. Aside from a little dialogue in two of the shorts, “Suffering Bible” takes a vow of silence and speaks volumes in actions alone; this creative choice, along with some probable glitch art, saves much of the technical woes already plaguing Pesca’s stain on profane. The robust grunge-brood style of OKY’s prolong guitar distortions, delicate strum and percussion echoing, and reverse melodies bedazzles in a cathartic relief that no dense, run of the mill metal band is attached to the soundtrack. Special features include a short interview with Davide Pesca, which turned out to be more of a behind-the-scenes look at handful of shorts for the film, a lengthy ultra violent and gory showreel for Pesca’s “Tales from the Deep Hell,” and SRS trailers. More grimly poetic than sleazy gore-porn, the book of the “Suffering Bible” can open eyes to the unsettling infernal of holy virtue with transfixing horrid death rooms.
In Medieval times of Sussex, England, a powerful English king, who has kept the seething Viking savages at bay for decades, has died, vacating the throne to his son, Rollo. The Vikings seize the opportunity during this time of transition and storm the Saxon Castle, nearly killing the monarchy and all of throne’s subjects left to oppose them. With their daughter Avery kidnapped and themselves on the brink of death, King Rollo and Queen Silvia are revived by two women of the woods, a pair of witch sisters known as Constance and Millicent, who use their mystical healing powers and offer the king retribution by summoning the Yuletide monster, Krampus. In return for slaughtering the Viking usurpers, the Krampus will collect his debt in exactly 10 years, taking whatever is precious and dear as payment from the vengeful King Rollo.
Krampus has become a major media trend over the last decade, popping up in all forms of popular culture that compounded lore inside the leafy pages of books and magazines to the beast’s frighteningly half-goat, half-man exterior making for great big screen monster entertainment. The inverse icon of jolly Saint Nicholas offers punitive measures for bad little girls and boys and is sometimes referred as a companion to Saint Nicholas who probably turned a decisive blind eye to little brat Johnny’s enjoyably thievery and torture of chickens from a neighboring farm. “Pagan Warrior” is yet another narrative of the Christmas creature spun with different fabric and woven into a bitter feud of two contending enemies told modestly by director Louisa Warren (“Tooth Fairy”), produced by Warren’s London, UK based production company, ChampDog Films, a creative outlet for independent film ventures that are mostly in the horror genre and are sometimes inferior versions of bigger budget films, in the same vein as Asylum Entertainment. The script comes from Shannon Holiday (“Bride of Scarecrow”) that conveys an ageless theme of beware of what you wish for and the price of blind vengeance.
“Pagan Warrior” hones in on numerous character stories, never clearly defining a single perspective. King Rollo, played by “Escape from Cannibal Farm’s Peter Cosgrove, becomes the royal fate sealer as what he deems necessary and right is, in fact, the worst possible scenario a mad king could bestow upon himself by calling upon the supernatural death dealers for revenge. Cosgrove cleans up nicely as an English blue blood whose bequest incorporates a lineage of fighting kings with Cosgrove taking his role with due importance despite a humbling filmmaking production. King Rollo’s counterpart, the merciless Viking Ubbe fitted for Carey Thring (“Scarecrow’s Revenge”), combats a war on two fronts – the contentious bout with King Rollo and an internal family squabble that beleaguer the bond between him and his wife (Kate Milner Evans, “Pet Graveyard”) and child (Adam Sugawara, “Virtual Death Match”) as he tries to court princess Avery with a crude sexual advances. Thring’s vision of Ubbe is a classically depicted villain whose stronger with allies and a whimpering coward when alone in a fight, especially when the Krampus comes calling for his head. Darrell Griggs dons the makeup, prosthetics, and wardrobe of the horned beast, becoming the folklore of a cursed death who not only pursues the 12 month progression of horrible children, but also the appointed damned when conjured for a hit. Krampus’ outward appearance is pleasing and Griggs provides the lumbering and slight preternatural motions that give Krampus that dreaded paranormal mysticism. “Pagan Warrior” rounds out with Sarah T. Cohen (“ClownDoll”), Jessica O’Toole (“Pet Graveyard”), Mike Kelson (“Scarecrow’s Revenge”), Hattie Willow (“The Mermaid’s Curse”), Will Todd (“Mummy Reborn”), and Tara MacGowran (“Mother Krampus”) and director Louisa Warren as the women of the woods.
ChampDog Films uses a tightknit group of actors and filmmakers to sell archaic swordplay action fastened against demonic folklore and despite the underwhelming band of Vikings versus an equally small English contingent squaring off in front of a historic English castle with virtually no ample practical or CGI era enhanced presentations, the production just barely eeks by with Feudal times. Wisely, Warren shoots a number of character closeup shots, avoiding much of the surrounding modern elements and forcing audiences to focus just on the characters who are dolled up for Medieval times roleplay. Where the battle scenes and smart camera work flourish, the Shannon Holiday script becomes the ultimate weak link in the chain with a predictable plot storied with terribly cliched and uninteresting characters that couldn’t grip a sword let alone one’s attention. The story begins with its most shocking ending scene, thwarting any possibility of surprise for even the most dense and cinematically uneducated individual for the ruse play out. There is also this millennium goof in the opening backstory credits indicating events take place in 812 AD and in the same breath, mentioned also is the three days of December 1812 that this episode occurs. Since 1812 England was all about redcoats, guns, and war with America colonies, I would assume 812 AD would be the correct time period against a Viking invasion.
In what is not exactly a Christmas holiday horror movie, the malediction of the “Pagan Warrior” spread little holiday cheer and more yesterday fear onto an ITN Distribution and Mill Creek Entertainment DVD. Presented in a widescreen, 2.35:1 aspect ration, on a single layer DVD, sheathed inside a DVD cover that looks cooler than the actual movie itself, the lower end production avoids stylizing a historical based feature with tinted mattes, computer imagery, or any other miscellaneous camera effects seeking more toward a naturalistic cinematography that utilizes the hues at hand. Pastel blacks jump with noise and posterization from the electronic interference whereas the existing hues exhibit a less than rich approach of a more vapid green, brown, and stonewall beige. The English language Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio mix maintains a level of consistency. Sometimes, Krampus’ dialogue is murky because of the extra gnarling effect parroting an LFE emitting voice; however, dialogue is mainly clear and prominent. English SDH is an available option. For a time period action-horror, the lack of rudimentary range and depth troubles with little sense into the effort of adding skirmishing swords and Krampus’ reverberating growls always seem to be right next to the camera. The only bonus feature available is the trailer. With conventional means of dispatching people, “Pagan Warrior” shadows more of the slasher concept conjured by the breath of the desperate who misfires judgment rather than being an omnipotent being summoned like a djinn for total annihilation in exchange for a debt in this good faith effort by Louisa Warren of Krampus diabolism.
The Wilsons’ are the perfect portrait of a nice family; they’re wealthy but charitable and kind without exploiting the humility of others. However, when Dylan and Gina Wilson bid and win on the SinSational art collection at auction and hang the enchanted paintings strewn through their mansion estate, a strange succumbing to sin overwhelms their moral fiber. The paintings of Dorian Wilde, an eccentric and obsessive 1890’s painter who achieved eternal soul longevity by making a pact with the devil, created the art, depicting primal animals symbolic of the seven deadly sins, by using canvas and paint out of flesh and blood of his victims. The Wilsons’ become corrupted and carry out the sins of Pride, Lust, Gluttony, Sloth, Greed, Envy, and Wrath and the only way to save the family from damnation lies in the hands of a former priest, Father Mendale, and a girlfriend, Kim, of the oldest Wilson boy engulfed by Wrath.
“Art of the Dead” is what people call when art comes to life, or in this case, death. From the selective “Emmanuelle” film series and “There’s Nothing Out There” writer-director, Rolfe Kanefsky comes a story woven with the seven deadly sins theme as a foundation that approximates a 90’s grade thriller of epically gory proportions. With a catchy, yet dead horse beaten “of the Dead” title, “Art of the Dead” uses the seven deadly sin theme and blends it with an obvious homage to the gothic literary novel, “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” by Oscar Wilde. The main antagonist, Dorian Wilde, is the merging of the author and his fictional creation. Oscar Wilde wrote the novel in 1891, the same era the story enlightens in which Dorian Wilde makes a pact with the devil. Unlike another notable film, “Se7en,” where a practical killer exploits the capital vices to thwart a pair of detectives, “Art of the Dead” introduces dark, supernatural forces of Oscar Wilde’s work into the fold that are not only abject in what makes us human, but also biblically condemning, spearheaded by a satanic maniac who will do everything and anything to maintain his precious work and eternal soul, Produced by Michael and Sonny Mahal of Mahal Empire productions, the financial investors have also backed a previous Kanefsky film, another occult gone astray thriller entitled “Party Bus to Hell,” and in association with Nicholas George Productions and Slaughtercore Presentations.
Another pair of producers are also a couple of headlining actors who are household names – “Sharknado’s” Tara Reid and “21 Jump Street” actor and avid painter, Richard Grieco. Reid plays a snooty and shallow art gallery curator who sells willingly the Dorian Wilde set knowing well enough of their malignant history, but Grieco has a personal connection toward a film regarding art more so than the dolled up Reid because of his nearly 20 year passion as an painter of Abstract Emotionalism. His character, Douglas Winter, is obsessed with the SinSational collection to the point where it uses him as an instrument to kill his artistically unappreciative family; a sensation washed over as parallel and broad among all artists alike fore sure. Jessica Morris (“Evil Bong 666”) and Lukas Hassel (“The Black Room”) also headline. Morris provides the sultry and lustful-influenced mother, Gina, and her golden hair and blue eyes has a fitting innocence that’s is tainted and provocatively shields the cruel intentions of lust and power while Hassel, a giant of a man, immediately becomes capitulated to greeds’ warty influence. Each actor renders a version of their paintings and each dons the sinful presence gorgeously with individual personalties and traits; those other actors include Cynthia Aileen Strahan (“Dead End”), Sheila Krause, Jonah Gilkerson, and Zachary Chyz as well as “The Black Room’s” Alex Rinehart and Robert Donovan along with Danny Tesla playing the demonic proxy of Dorian Wilde.
“Art of the Dead” embodies an innovated spin on a classic tale of self-absorption and deferring one’s own detrimental sins upon others to carry the burden. Kanefsky grasps the concept well and visually sustains a contextualized 98 minute feature that carries a straightforward connection to the Gothicism of Oscar Wilde while cascading a family tree (pun intended) of problems that pinpoint each sin’s affecting destruction upon the soul through a wide burst of dispersive poison. While the idea is sound enough, the script and narrative channelling hardly carries the equivalent weight of the idea and comes off clunky, cheap, and sometimes uncharismatic. “The Black Room” was the last Kanefsky film critiqued at ItsBlogginEvil.com and the script was noted with the characters that hardly progress up toward and out of the despondent and deviant muck and it was the filmmaker’s softcore cinema background that attributed to the characters over-saturated girth of lust, which elevated and hindered “The Black Room’s” incubus storyline. With “Art of the Dead,” Kanefsky redresses the lust to quench just the respective sin with the right amount of perversion, represented by the mythical, sex driven Satyr that was created beyond being a nice touch of storytelling, disturbance, and meta kinkiness. Kanefsky continues to proportionally feed each sin the same manner with the exception of Pride that lures in a specific victim; however, the paintings’ insidious nature wonders to a circumstantial level at best with Kanefsky’s tongue-and-cheek dialogue and uncouth playfulness of Dorian Wilde while possessing the flesh of a black-laced, Fredrick’s of Hollywood-cladded Gina.
Umbrella Entertainment and ITN distribution release “Art of the Dead” onto a region 4 DVD home video and is presented in a widescreen, 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The sterile and polished look of the image renders doesn’t invite stimuli to visual senses, but is superbly clean and free of blotchiness that can routinely be a contrast issues with darker, indie productions; however, the digital source is nicely maintained and the darker scenes and colorfully deep portions of the paintings, the viscous blood, the modernized Wilson house, and the anywhere else have quality caliber. Visual and practical effects are necessarily key for “Art of the Dead” to be successful and the film scores a combination of talent to enhance the ho-hum photography with renaissance man Clint Carney, whose visual effects work on his own written and starred in film “Dry Blood” was flawless and who also painted Dorian Wilde’s works of art, and some solid practical and Satyr creature effects work by “Child Play’s 3” Victor Guastini and the VGP Effects team. The English language Dolby 5.1 surround sound audio is clear, precise, and no inkling of issues with the range and depth of ambient sound. Like most standard DVD releases from Umbrella Entertainment, this release comes with no bonus material or even a static menu. To observe his work as a whole, filmmaker Rolfe Kanefsky has nothing to prove with a body of work spanning over nearly three decades, but in reducing “Art of the Dead as a singular film, there in lies a double edged sword. A true sin is to headline a film with actors with brief roles just to draw in investors and an audience, yet “Art of the Dead” also finds innovated modernism out of classical creativity, giving new life by homage, and displaying some maximum carnage fun with plenty oil and water color.