Tan and Javid go on a killing spree in anarchy-riddled Germany after their families were killed in a house fire in which emergency services were purposefully withheld. After slaying bystanders at a diner, they happen upon a script in a stolen car; the script reads line-by-line, word-for-word on everything the two men say and do. Simultaneously, the wealthy Eliana is hunting them down, seeking revenge for the death of her parents by collaborating with her parents’ former bodyguard to hire cold-blooded serial killers to kill the men. As Tan and Javid try desperately to not follow script, the two men seemingly can’t avoid their fate along with circumventing a variety of dangerous people crossing their path. Only a couple of people from the script can possibly save them, an Angel named Snowflake, and, possibly, the screenwriter himself.
Adolfo Kolmerer’s “Snowflake” has maybe little-to-no relevance to the derogatory term commonly used by right-winged conservatives when describing the assumed liberal millennial with a heightened sense of uniqueness and having a knack of being overly offended by, well basically, everything. Kolmerer’s “Snowflake” also has no correlation with the concept of winter, snow, or even Christmas. So, the question is, what the hell is “Snowflake” about? The 2017 shocker, also known originally as Schneeflockchen in the German language, is as cold and as unique as any snowflake mother nature can cruelly reign upon down a person and methodically compounds the series of gritty events, from two sets of characters, through a head-bearing funnel that’s supernaturally poised and brutally executed. From writer Arend Remmers, the script itself is smartly constructed as a narrative character, woven to become a pivotal motivator that not only churns out characters’ supposedly ill-fated destinies, but also a metaphysically, arch-able player in the grand scheme of gruesome revenge and absolute atonement that within the bookend pages of the treatment has unorthodox religious themes and a radical, almost anti-hero like quality of rising against the powers of racially insensitive autocratic and populist agendas. The film’s location of Berlin isn’t the only thing that’s anarchical driven as Kolmere and Remmers bends cinema conventional rules to enthrall one punch to the gut movie.
Erkan Acar and Reza Brojerdi play the brothers in arms, Tan and Javid. As they venture on nihilistically slaughtering quest to come face-to-face with their maker, Tan and Javid have nothing more to lose and Acar and Brojerdi depict themselves in that predicament while maintaining their characters’ seamless, longtime friendship, like watching two sets of personalities move as a single unit. Tan and Javid are hunted down by another character seeking vengeance for her parents are the wrong place, at the wrong time. Eliana has money, status, and all that she could ever want, but when she befriends her family’s bodyguard who is then let go from the position, she loses sight of the meaning of uncoupled protection in Berlin’s anarchy state and also loses sight of what’s truly important to her – her folks. When they’re slaughtered, Eliana, played by Xenia Assenza, is hellbent on exacting retribution. Assenza clearly proceeds with a cold, drafty personality for Eliana with unrelenting ambition. The character is scribed as ultimately over flawed if not even expressly obvious and Assenza does a fine job bubbling those flaws ever so delicately to the surface in every loss Eliana sustains. Tan, Javid, and Eliana have a very grounded reality about them when contrasted with other characters such as the superhero-esque Hyper Electro Man (Mathis Landwehr) with the steampunk power backpack of electrical power, a blind man named Fumo (Eskindir Tesfay) with fits of fury, and a madman named Caleb (“Braveheart’s” David Gant) who could very possibly be God himself. Electrifying, mysterious, and powerful can be their only descriptive adjectives that steer “Snowflake” into the graphic novel universe. David Masterson (“German Angst”), Gedeon Burkhard (“Inglourious Basterds”), Selam Tadese, Adrian Topol, Judith Hoersch, Alexander Shubert, and Antonio Wannek, Bruno Eyron, Martin Gores, Mehmek Kurtulus round out this amazing, eclectic cast.
On a single read through of the synopsis on the Artsploitation’s Blu-ray back cover, trying to process the quickly summed up tale might also quickly scorch and burn off invaluable brain cells, but “Snowflake” has an immensely alluring nature once reviewed on a second read. Might not be a tearjerking romantic comedy and can be stupendously offensive with hints of barbarism, but the fantasy element, infused with Western composition at times, is stone strong with this film that’s more than just a Tarantino or Coen brothers’ akin film as the summary impresses to potential viewers. I’d toss in their some steampunk aspects of early Terry Gilliam or the delicate fable-isms of Marc Forster. It’s also a little razor blunt like Takashi Miike and perhaps could have surrealistically lobotomized and strenuous dreamlike sequences that speak to the likes of David Lynch, in choice scenes. Adolfo Kolmerer can be considered an equivalent to not one, but all of these visual icons and mega storytelling filmmakers.
Truly unique like an ice crystal falling from the winter sky, “Snowflake” falls onto Blu-ray home video courtesy of Artsploitation Films. Presented in 1080 and in a widescreen format, “Snowflake” vividly impresses with a broad color palette and a sleek, crisp digital picture. Hyper Electro Man has vibrant electrical currents snaking around his body and arms that aren’t just blurry blobs, but maintain two-tones of color and depth. Various decrepit buildings have the details pop out to bring an anarchy German to life. The German-English-Polish Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track has range, balance, and fortitude with a clarity and prominence in all spoken dialects. English subtitles are available. Bonus features included a behind-the-scenes look at “Snowflake” that clocks in just under a hour and trailers of other Artsploitation films. “Snowflake” has an original frame that’s built to sustain the broken westernized violence and is tightly glued together with likable berserk characters and an engaging labyrinthine story that ultimately feels genuine, versatile, and thematically relevant in, nearly, a not-so-abstract vision.
Billy, a good church-going man, reluctantly leaves his choir to join the community theater at the request of his girlfriend Shannon. What Billy doesn’t realize is that there are all different kinds of characters who partake in the community theater – the nerdy gamers, the anti-establishment antagonizers, the gays, and, of course, Dracula. Yes, Dracula – the Prince of Darkness. The theater’s director is a satanic worshipper who feeds off the sins of his actors to resurrect Dracula and start a whole new world order of vampires. “The Sins of Dracula” film is a homage to multiple horror genre branches. Decades including the 1970s and the 1980s source the brilliantly colored and expression heavy of the Hammer horror era and combine it with the gore of video nasties marking all present and accounted for in this ode to classic horror and that’s the creative style of director Richard Griffin and his Scorpio Film Releasing company which quickly produces many independent films that hit many media platforms. My previous film experience with Griffin includes “The Disco Exorcist” that implements film stock imperfections and the hardcore porn of the 1970’s. The other Griffin film, “Murder University,” aims to create a satirical look at a murderous cult gone collegiate. Lastly, my very first Richard Griffin film was Feeding the Masses wanted to be a social political zombie following in a George A. Romero fashion. So there is no surprise here that Griffin does what he does best, but after seeing “The Disco Exorcist” and “Murder University” both which I liked in previous reviews The Disco Exorcist review here and Murder University review here, “The Sins of Dracula” warranted high hopes for Griffin to do something new and cut ties with the old, regurgitated scenes. Enough about Griffin, let’s talk about “The Sins of Dracula.” Just from reading the synopsis alone, one can conclude that this horror-comedy will come off as a bit outrageous, delving into and dissecting the sins of certain kinds of people who walk in all kinds of life and exploiting them for the sake of our good boy Scott’s heroic journey and also exploiting them to awake the evil Dracula. The story doesn’t waste any time putting to waste the sinfully deemed characters and going on a Godsend vampire hunting spree. At the end, most peoples’ personal views are made light of in a satirical fashion. Michael Thurber, a staple actor of Griffin’s, does a solid job as a Hammer horror Dracula mirroring the likes of the vampire exposed Christopher Lee. Steven O’Broin, as Lou Perdition the satanist devotee theater director, had some excellent lines and quips and made his Vincent Price-esque character enjoyable when on screen. Another of Griffin’s minions, Aaron Peaslee pranced around fairly well as a gay theater actor and his raunchy sex scene with fellow actor Johnny Sederquist was the most controversial aspect of the film. I can’t say that about the other characters. Other characters fell a bit flat and didn’t convey their characters intentions well enough to pull off a spoofy-stereotype. The fact that their characters where put to death way too early in the film doesn’t give the character a chance to make their presence more well established. The blood letting could have been, well, bloodier, but there is enough letting to super soak and saturate one’s thirst. Some of the scenes are restaged from the likes of “Fright Night” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” the movie. Like I was saying early in the review about the film’s originality, the lack of new material makes the likelihood of repeating a viewing of “The Sins of Dracula” very unlikely which is difficult to say about a solid homage. “The Sins of Dracula” is good for a one time single viewing and but lacks new and fresh material to really captivate attention. The MVDVisual DVD cover also doesn’t explicitly want you to go out and rent this title, but the disc art is amazingly detailed and you shouldn’t judge a film’s material by the cover. I do strongly suggest to check out “The Sins of Dracula” if you’re into the Hammer horror scene and into Griffin’s Quentin Tarantino homage style of directing.
Enthralled from last week’s viewing of Richard Griffin’s The Disco Exorcist (see review here) that I checked into the player another Griffin film entitled Murder University from 2012. A fairly generic titled college slasher with semi-comedic values that tries to blend in with similar genre slashers such as Urban Legend, House on Sorority Row, Black Christmas, or Sorority House Massacre. Comedy elements separate Murder University from the rest as well as Murder University doesn’t set itself in the present time of which the setting takes place. I’ll dissect Griffin’s film the best I can because my response post viewing teeters back and forth of a thumbs up for pratical effects and homage or thumbs down for storyline and dialogue.
Greensboro University has a notorious reputation for being constructed by a founder who ritualized satanic values and murdered people for years in the late 19th century. In the late 20th century, the New England university is once again plague by the cult-like killers who call themselves the Greesnboro Devils. A survivor of a recent attack and a shunned detective try to hunt down the motives behinds the killings and the secrets of a legacy of killers.
The upside of Murder University stems from the use of practical special effects. Decapitations became an obvious motif for this film (though there was no reason to explain this and I can only guess that beheadings were a big way to die in the 80s) with a grand total of six axe-chopped decapitations. The detail in the severed heads had high marks as well as other death scenes in the movie. Another throwback from the 80’s is the music and Murder University’s soundtrack certainly have that synth, brit-rock feel in some scenes, but in other scenes, 90’s grunge ruled the screen a long with hairstyles and clothes of a more recent decade.
The downside holds more weight coming from the story and the dialogue. The story comes a part at the seems with lead character Josh Greene as his backstory is intertwined with the murders and to get more of that backstory from his past would have been better than the exposition given nature of who Josh really is destined to be and what Josh is destined to be comes off pointless by default. Was this the divine will of Satan? Were these killers psychotic? What were the motivations? That is the real questions. The dialogue also scores low marks for being off key, choppy, awkward, and explicatively gratuitous. Not everybody is Quentin Taratino and can pull of mouthy vulgarity with ease and the script with Murder University just seems too forced for comfort.
Jamie Dufault has a solid performance as our hero Josh Greene coming from a nobody in college and transforming to becoming the ultimate domineer in the end, but Nat Silva gives an even more solid performance as the killer (when the killer has dialogue) and Samantha Acampora (Josh’s girlfriend Meg) is certainly the eye candy that we wish would show a little more skin than just her bare ass.
Murder University‘s retro entertainment keeps afloat just under chin level and won’t bore you to death. Richard Griffin is two for two in my little black book of directors and I’ll keep an eye out for more of his material in the future. MVD and Wild Eye Releasing release this Not Rated, widescreen disc with deleted scenes and two commentary tracks. This should be a fairly affordable, tongue-and-cheek horror movie if you’re looking for a cheap, yet entertaining, thrills.
By now I imagine we’re all, by all I mean avid movie-goers, familiar with the director Robert Rodriguez. The balls-to-the-wall flare for action Rodriguez has written and directed some of the most memorable movies in nearly the last two decades – Desperado, From Dusk till Dawn, Planet Terror and, yes, even Spy Kids. Rodriguez is now a well-known household name now that he has his own production company – Troublemaker Studios – and is a hot-shit friend of Django Unchained writer and director Quentin Tarantino (they’re always in each other films if you haven’t noticed). Now, I had thought that I’ve seen all of Rodriguez’s work with the exception of Spy Kids, but I was wrong. Curandero: Dawn of the Demon is a latest release from Lionsgate; however, the movie was completed and released in 2005 – why such a delay? Perhaps the delay was a product of the film being made in and using the language spoken in Mexico. I wouldn’t doubt this as El Mariachi was not known to the American audience until Antonio Banderas and Selma Hayek starred in Desperado, a sort of sequel or remake of El Mariachi, and an American DVD of El Mariachi was released later.
Curandero, which translate to The Healer, follows the healer Carlos – a practical man who uses his knowledge of healing on those he think are weak minded fools just so they feel better about their lives. That is until he meets Mexican Federale Magdalena who hires him to become involved a case where a satanic cult terrorizes Mexico City. Carlos beliefs will be challenged as black magic becomes ultimately real and the forces against him are closer to home than what he could ever imagine.
Curandero grabs you right from the start as we’re thrown into Carlos’s simple hometown world where he competes with another curandero named Alex Munez who is more popular around town, but even though Carlos thinks his line of work is a bit of a sham, he still makes an effort to please other people making him well liked in the community and has been given respect due to his father’s healing services. The horrifying action begins when Agent Magdalena enters the story; the saucy tall Latina is a realist and doesn’t much in the mumbo-jumbo that is black magic, but her story makes a complete 180 degree turn at the finale and so does Carlos. The story is well written by Rodriguez giving the both Carlos and the federale the same view on spirituality yet making both reason completely different.
Robert Rodriguez’s style directorial feels implemented into Curandero even though Robert Rodriguez didn’t direct the film. It is another Rodriguez who takes the credit for Curandero’s fast-paced, over-exaggerated action. Director Eduardo Rodriguez tries to recreate Robert Rodriguez, but does molds his own take to reconstruct the elements and add great horror qualities that contribute to the action.
This 2005 cult/possession film should have had a much earlier release in the U.S. There is definitely an appeal here for niche horror fans. Would Curandero have done well with mainstream audiences? No because there is just too much working against Curandero when considering American mainstream audiences – it’s in Spanish, it’s lost in translation with the dialogue, and it deals with some Mexican traditions. Certainly pick this up from Lionsgate Home Entertainment. Curandero will fill your cup of blood and horror.