Tell, Don’t Ask, Evil to Go Away! “The Addiction” review!


NYU Philosophy doctoral hopeful, Kathleen Conklin, has a run-in with a woman on the night streets of New York City, attacking her into a secluded dark enclave, and biting her on the neck after Kathleen is unable to comply with the woman’s bizarre instructions of ordering her to go away. The incident instills fear into Kathleen that quickly turns to a painful vampirism transformation that involves aversion to sunlight, self-antipathy, and a craving for blood. She continues to her studies that evolve into a deeper analytical parallelism of her newly acquired immortality, the results of it, and the human aspect that’s affected by it while along the way, feeding and turning friends, colleagues, and strangers into her brood of own image. Kathleen happens upon Peina, a vampire like herself, that has claimed to conquer his own addiction to blood and can even mirror himself as human, such as eating normal food and jogging. The agonizing withdrawal with Peina drops a slither of a notion into Kathleen that her gargantuan thirst for blood will overdose her soul to pure evil and she has to come to terms with her immortal being on the life she wants to live.

Abel Ferrara’s “The Addiction” has such anti-Hollywood tenacity that the black and white aurora of the 1995 noir vampire film goes against the more conventional grain that is Ferrara’s body of work, but still maintains a healthy amount of the director’s trademarks and his dispositional motifs to give the feature enough claim to clearly become his imprint of a screw you onto the big money motion pictures. The “Driller Killer” and “Bad Lieutenant” director orchestrates a film from without the complications of a union, with producers breathing down his neck to do this or that, and on such a minuscule budget; the vampires here are not transforming in bats, their eyes do not glow in the dark, and they even don’t have jugular piercing canines. Nicholas St. John’s script was written to portray monsters as just people with a severe addiction this particular drug of choice – the blood. The symbolism is so potent that’s hardly symbolism as the main character literally injects a syringe full of blood into the crook of her arm to get a fix.

Ravished without hesitation, Lili Taylor seizes Kathleen Conklin as if Taylor herself was addicted to the character, overtaking the character to an enlightened savagery of an academic disciple on the cusp of achieving stress-inducing doctoral status. Through the studious muck and death of mankind’s prior carnage, the “The Haunting” star goes for the full throttle transformation in the blink of a bite and never blatantly displays the hesitation of her former mortal self until the tide turns to whether stay blood thirsty or to live with the embattlement of struggling addiction. Kathleen crosses paths with Peina whose been undertaken by a classic Walken, Christopher Walken that is, and the New York City born “Communion” star had a big year in horror as “The Prophecy” was released the same year – 1995. Though Peina is crucial to Kathleen’s ultimate survival, the character has little screen time and Walken nails the performance with credence and gusto as some sort of subversive mentor to the young vampire protégé. The cast rounds out with Edie Falco, Paul Calderon (“Fear the Walking Dead”), Fredro Starr, and “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle’s” Annabella Sciorra as Casanova, the female nightstalker who takes a bite out of Kathleen and initiates the carnage.

Ferrara’s choice for black and white isn’t all surprising. At the time, numerous notable directors were doing the very exact concept in the 1990s, examples being Steven Speilberg’s award winning “Schindler’s List” in 1993 and Tim Burton’s dark comedy biopic “Ed Wood” with Johnny Depp in 1994, but Ferrara had a conceptually aesthetic noir appearance that created distance between the rest and established a solid black and white film that renders being akin to, perhaps, George Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead.” Not only did Ferrara’s film fit in the scheme of the 90’s fad, but extended “The Addiction’s” disturbing dramatic value and horror sensationalism in which color would have for sure diluted the story due in part to the pocket change budget. Taylor, Walken, and Sciorra very much believed in the project and that belief brought their characters to the formidable forefront to where a color picture didn’t really matter in the end.

Arrow Films presents “The Addiction” onto Blu-ray home video and is distributed by MVD Visual. The Blu-ray has been newly restored 4K scan of the original camera negative and approved by director Abel Ferrara and director of photography Ken Kelsch. The high definition 1080p widescreen, 1.85:1, picture has a clean palate and despite the lack of the color palette, the black and white has virtually little-to-no blotching or DNR, leaving a flawless image. The English 5.1 DTE-HD MA and 2.0 LPCM soundtracks, with optional English subtitles, is well-balanced, at least in the 5.1 DTE-HD Master Audio. Dialogue in the forefront with a brooding and jarring score by composer Joe Delia has great distinction and range, but there’s a curious lack of ambiance that focuses more on direct action of characters. NYC should be booming with surrounding noise; yet the direction Ferrara takes with reduced ambiance is risky, but exquisitely done to add a more personal touch to Kathleen Conklin’s struggle. Bonus material includes an audio commentary by Abel Ferrara, moderated by critic and biographer Brad Stevens. There also includes a new documentary, entitled Talking with the Vampires, directed by Abel Ferrara that features new interviews with composer Joe Delia, Ken Kelsch, Christopher Walken, Lili Taylor, and Ferrara himself. A new interview with Abel Ferrera going into the background of the film’s construction and the era of filmmaking, a new appreciation by Brad Stevens, an achival piece from the time of production, original trailer, and a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Peter Strain. A supremely inclusive Blu-ray release by Arrow Films and MVD Visual of Abel Ferrara’s grittiest work of his gritty catalogue and the very spartan vampire film has an outlook of what future vampire films should aspire to with great beneficial expectations.

Buy “The Addiction” today!

Enter Into Your Darkest, Evilest Fantasies. “We Are The Flesh” review!

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Struggling to survive the conditions of the outside world, a brother and sister locate shelter inside a desolated complex and stumble upon it’s strange inhabitant, a solitary middle-aged man named Mariano with a penchant for welcoming his insanity. The alcohol distilling and isolating embracing Mariano has a twisted offer for harboring the young siblings as he also puts the two to work, constructing Mariano’s trash-ridden home into a cavernous structure from taped scraps of lumber and cardboard. Mariano desperately needs them to explore unorthodox depravities upon themselves to become one with their unhinged host that forms, in more than one way, one flesh-ravenous happy family.
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“We Are the Flesh,” aka “Tenemos la carne” in the original title, is an experimental art house feature from controversial Mexican director Emiliano Rocha Minter. The 2016 film harbors more than just three hermit individuals dipping their toes into a forbidden pool of acts, but also provides numerous metaphors and symbolisms that might be hard to swallow and difficult to sit through during the 79 minute runtime. “Sin Nombre” actor Noé Hernández stars as Mariano and there isn’t enough praise in the art house world from his performance that consumes his mortal being, transforming him into a well oiled psychotic machine with a blazing stare, a certifiable grin, and a defined muscular physique. Hernández steals scenes left and right from his young and novice co-stars María Evoli and Diego Gamaliel, whom are equally as brave as the more experienced Hernández in their respective roles. “We Are the Flesh” emits racy undertones by just hearing the title alone and, absolutely, lives up to the title’s very core by displaying non-simulated sex acts. Think about it. Minter’s film only has three main characters for most of the narrative and two of them are siblings. Yup, Minter went the incest route for the sake of art.
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In the opening scene, heavy breathing creeps upon a black screen until the image pops open to a Mariano’s face, laboring over something. Next cut is Mariano hunched over with a high stack of baled cardboard, walking in the color tone of a dark cool blue with a slight haze engulfing him. This opening scene is one instance where Mariano is portrayed the Messiah prophet Jesus. Other religious symbolistic events that connect Mariano, who would be condemned for his actions in the Christian scope, to Jesus that occur throughout, such as being dying and being reborn, the cave aspect, the motifs of faith from the mysterious eye dropper liquid, and being the sacrificial body as if transpiring to be some sort of demented wafer during a crazed cannibal communion orgy. Of course, opening anybody’s eyes or mind to this notion can be immensely difficult and profanely sacrilegious to even spell it out in text because seeing the streaming drug use, the attempted murder, the cannibalism, and the sibling incest rule the majority of the narrative makes a case that affiliates more with an unholy antichrist rather than Christ, but I believe director Emiliano Rocha Minter, being a Mexican national and growing up in a Catholic, like the majority of Hispanics, culture aimed to blur the lines between the heavens above and the fires below and embodying them as a singular whole.
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Intrinsically irrational and insatiably grotesque, “We Are the Flesh” has momentum in a colorfully abrasive form, quickly evolving from act to act with characters reemerging anew every second onscreen. What might seem as a visionless quest for the sole purpose of producing shock value can be re-construed as a message more aesthetically beautiful in man’s most detested nature. Yollótl Alvarado’s cinematic vision is absolutely dripping with gripping, mature atmospherics that are well doused in vividness while, at the same time, being despairing in a post-apocalyptic haze. The experience charges at you, pulls you into this cavernous womb, and scratches at your tender barrier lining, trying to sneakily slip into your soul. The sensation is as much unreal as the film’s avant-garde structure.
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Produced by production companies Piano, Detalle Films, Sedna Films, Estudios Splendor Omnia, and Simplemente, “We Are the Flesh” is a poetic approach experimental wonder, gratifyingly brought to home entertainment fruition from Arrow Films in the United Kingdom and Arrow Films, in conjunction with MVD Visual, in the United States on Blu-ray and DVD. Between Lex Ortega’s brutal social commentary gore-flick “Atroz” and Emiliano Rocha Minter’s art house metaphor “We Are the Flesh,” Mexican filmmaking stands high and bold, unafraid to tell unapologetic stories in conservative societies; a mere taste of what’s to come, I’m positive. While recommending this type of film isn’t the easiest for status quo movie lovers, “We Are the Flesh” hopefully will expand minds, open eyes, and encourage skin-on-skin contact for the cinematic adventurers.

“We Are the Flesh” available in USA! and in the United Kingdom!

Evil on the Quick Draw! “Day of Anger” review!

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In the quiet western town of Clifton, Scott is the naive town fool. As a simple bastard of a prostitute, Scott grew up without a place in Clifton and without knowing who fathered him and is belittled. Scott is only good for is taking up sweeping outside homes, taking care of the horses, and collecting the residential human waste for disposal in order to earn a better living for himself. But That all changed when Frank Talby rode into town. The infamous gunslinger takes the adoring Scott under his wing and turns the town fool into Talby’s right hand gun for hire, making Scott a fast drawing force in Clifton. When Talby takes the reigns over the town of Clifton, Scott doesn’t pity those who mistreated him as Talby turns the disrespectful rich into the town fools, but the one man that cared for Scott is the one man Talby hates the most from his past and Scott must choose between his long time mentor or his newly found idol when the two showdown.

This is a first; a spaghetti western review on Its Bloggin’ Evil! But I just love the genre with the rich story lines and colorful dialogues and dynamics between characters. The genre never becomes dull, the desert stricken west never looks unbearable on screen, and, just like that Seth MacFarlane movie, there are certainly are a million ways to die in the west. Director Tonino Valerli’s “Day of Anger” fits the bill for the Italian Western genre. Also entitled “Gunlaw” or “I giorni dell’ira,” Rome born Giuliana Gemma stars as Scott Mary to make this an authentic spaghetti western and genre veteran, and overall on screen bad guy, Lee Van Cleef, who you may recognize form “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly,” as the downright mean snake Frank Talby.

The story directly sets up Scott as this blundering idiot, but if you watch closely during the progression of the character, Scott is written with easter eggs showcasing him as being quick, agile, and strong. With Talby schooling him on how to be a gritty gunslinger, Scott is well on his way to being what he always idolized and instead of being the town joke, the town fears him. This is also where the script becomes a bit of enigma because you want Scott, the fool, to be respected by the people of Clifton. Yet, the people still don’t respect Scott and only fear him because he’s becoming like the ruthless Talby who the town folk despise. Giuliana Gemma does a fine job at portraying the nitwit part of Scott, but not so much the quick draw, new and improved Scott. Gemma made the character growth too easy and didn’t sell it properly to have Scott earn the right to be tough.

Lee Van Cleef, on the other hand, is damn nasty. The natural look of undermining and deceptiveness with power and brutality just can’t be undone in any project Cleef undertakes. The character Talby is formidable, cutthroat, and smart and Cleef plays those qualities to the exact tune. Scott is severely overshadowed by Talby making Cleef more of the stud as the “Day of Anger” headlining actor than Giuliana. Giuliana had some success in the niche genre under the pseudo name Montgomery Wood, maybe because it sounded more American or more Hollywood, but when death came for the genre, so did it for Gemma’s lucrative Italian career. Overall, both male leads are not hindered by a female love interest. “Day of Anger,” from start to finish, only contains a handful of scenes were women become prevalent.

The Arrow Film’s Blu-ray released from MVDVisual is quite awe-inspiring sharp with a beautifully brilliant picture that is presented in it’s original aspect ratio 2.35:1 format from the transfer of the original negative. The long range shots of the desert are unbelievable with the 1080p transfer. The contrasting colors amongst the town of Clifton organically bring the town to life, constructing a seemingly realistic town rather than a stage or a set. The audio comes in three soundtrack options: English (longer cut of the film), Italian (longer cut of the film), or English (shorter international version). The Riz Ortolani soundtrack really stands out clearly and firmly but not in annoying overbearing style that doesn’t sync with the film or with the characters’ dialogues. There are a few high frequency pops during a couple of transitional scenes, but these won’t distract from the amazing film. This Region A and B Blu-ray is absolutely stunning with loads of extras just waiting to be experienced. MVD and Arrow Film’s Blu-ray version of “Day of Anger,” the first time on Blu-ray anywhere in the world, would be a fine piece for anybody’s western collection.