Three peoples’ lives become coiled around the unfortunate state of death with each experiencing individual variations of the concept. The recently released convicted felon, Ed Kunkle, faces reality on the brink of insanity as his past demons vilify his temperament in the direction of total carnage. Befriended by Kunkle is Eve Adams, a single mother who struggles to cope with her infant son’s untimely murder that happened right under her watch. Assigned to the Adams Boy’s case is detective Bodie Jameson who struggles with own malevolent urges brought upon by the unsurmountable cases of grisly homicides that come cross his desk while he also tracks down a child killer. Their differences connect them, looking into their future to rediscover the past that molded their disheveled lives into fateful affairs with death.
Over the course of three years between 2007 to 2010, auteur filmmaker Joaquin Montalvan directed and assembled a gritty glimpse into the grubby windows of condemned souls with the 2010 released “Hole,” produced by his own independent production company, Sledgehammer Films, and co-written with his longtime collaborator and wife in life, Eunice Font. “Hole” is Montalvan’s third horror feature following 2002’s beleaguered with loneliness thriller “Adagio” and psychological horror, “Mobius,” which was released the year prior in 2009, plus also behind a string of documentaries. Montalvan’s an optically surreal storyteller basking in a rich and unorthodox story and color palette that revives originality bobbing in an heaving ocean of lemming horror.
“Hole” is comprised of showcasing three stories from three tormented lives. One of those lives, the mentally unfit Ed Kunkel, gorges on being the centric force that thrives the other two into a descendant hell. The late Paul E. Respass tunes into Kunkel’s manic polarity as a person who can be extremely mild mannered and pleasant then explode with caustic abrasiveness and ugly torture. Respass’s shoulder length, wavy hair, graying goatee, and iron contoured face gives him a Charles Manson appearance that goes good with crazy. Behind closed doors Repass’s Kunkle breaks with sanity slaughtering his mother lookalikes as a result of mommy issues, but when conversing with Eve Adams, Kunkle’s maintains an upright keeled temper. Teem Lucas, who like Respass has worked with Montalvan previous, subdues the abnormal imbalance with a normal person’s reactionary response to loss and heartache when Eve Adams copes with the murder of her young child. In the middle these two extremities, detective Bodie Jameson’s work seeps into his psyche, fluctuating between irrational and rational thoughts. Another actor in Montalvan’s corral, Jim Barile, who looks more like a 70’s hippie than a detective, has the hardest performance of them all of slipping into a terrifying unknown mindset while maintaining status quo in work and romantic relationships. Barile’s role isn’t well recieved, flying mainly under the radar with an underperformed and pointless conclusion to detective Jameson right and wrong affliction. Charlotte Bjornbak (“Camera Obscura”), Katherine Norland (“Cannibal Corpse Killers”), Alina Bolshakova (“Dead End Falls”), Dennis Haggard (“Cannibal Corpse Killers), Theresa Holly (“Legend of the Hillbilly Butcher”), Micki Quance, Gavin Graham, and Char Frost (“Someone’s Knocking at the Door”) co-star.
Right away, a strong sense of resemblance washed over me when viewing “Hole.” The lead actor, Paul Respass, and the overall texture felt already acquainted with my visual cortex nerves. My suspicions were justified and my sanity was cleared as I have seen “Hole” before in a later film entitled “Legend of the Hillbilly Butcher,” another Joaquin Montalvan flick featuring Respass as a delusional manic. Yet, “Hole” is one of those films that after the credits role, hasty judgements should be chewed on, reflected upon, and recollected for a second analysis. Hell, you might as well just re-watch it all over. The thing with Montalvan is is that his brand has trademark cognizance on such a level that even if “Hole,” released in 2010, and “Legend of the Hillbilly Butcher,” released in 2014, instinctually ride the same wave, they ultimately compare as individual projects with a distinct personality and artistic flair. For instance, “Legend of the Hillbilly Butcher” denotes more of an homage to early exploitation films and “Hole” puts more stake into societal system failures, even if borrowing from the likes of Ed Gein with the killer wearing a flesh mask and sewing up a fleshy garment. Both films hark about mental illness, but one glorifies the act for the sheer sake of carnage fun and the other considers it a collateral damaging symptom of a broken justice structure. Another difference to note is “Hole’s” three-way non-linear narrative that moves like the Wonkavator from “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” in every way imaginable and can be daunting to keep up.
Out of the depths of obscurity comes “Hole” distributed on DVD home video by MVDVisual and Wild Eye Releasing under the Raw and Extreme banner. Presented in a widescreen, 1.78:1 aspect ratio, Montalvan and his D.P. R.T. Norland, brightly bedazzling with every shade of matte box and some slow motion, play the field utilizing various techniques to tap into Ed Kunkle’s disorienting madness. Using backdrops like the ghost town of Bodie and the spiritual sanctuary (or bohemian commune) of Salvation Mountain, Montalvan’s able to cast an aberrant vision out inside an independent means. There are some points of posterization, details are softer than desired, and blacks lose composition with blocky noise so there are some drawbacks to the encoding. The English language dual channel audio mix pairs about the same as the video with spliced competing facets that tend to offer come-and-go range and depth. Scream queen moments go into feedback mode during Ed Kunkle’s kill mode, losing the ideal quality via unsound mic placement. Dialoge is okay being on the softer side with some background noise being flowing in and out between the audio edits, emitting a static effect around the dialogue and then cut out when not the actors are not speaking. The bonus features are aplenty and informative with a Montalvan commentary track, an extensive mack of documentary that fine combs every pore of the film that includes interviews with cast and crew, Ed’s Journal segment conversing about the backstory on Ed Kunkle’s perverse family and killed friends portraits and souvenirs, as well as trailers. Bloodhounds will want more from Ed Kunkle’s shed of horrors, but what director Joaquin Montalvan has fashioned threads madness with a neglected mental heath system while polishing a a shiny three prong, moviegoer narrative with blood, body parts, and butchery.
Journalists, and lovers, Amy and John are assigned to scope out a potential story about Earth’s first evil feminine. Before Eve was made from the rib of Adam and who was born from the soil, Lilith lived upon the Earth before being exiled as a demoness and the reporters search to hunt down the legends of her spawn, the Crossbreeds. Crossbreeds start out as twins in the mother’s womb, but only one can be born while the other whither and dies and the birthed child will either be good or evil. The folklores recently stem from an small, isolated village now made popular by Lilith’s ghastly tales, drawing the attention of tourists, acolytes, and the religious groups. The atheistic John shares his distaste for other’s devout beliefs and thinks the village is a scam attempting to lure money out of faith blinded followers, but Amy, a Catholic, feels it differently as she’s drawn to the village by indiscernible brief visions of the past. There’s also the fact that she just aborted her and John’s 14-week unborn twins without informing him of the radical decision, but the guilt burdens her immensely, and when she’s in the loins of the village, a wicked presence washes over her and enlightening her that the Devil’s spawn will soon be born and purge all of Adam and Eve’s kindred children, paving the path for the children of Hell to rule the Earth.
“The Crossbreed” is a 2018 released demonic baby and cult film that’s made in America, but crewed and funded by Turkish nationals including Biray Dalkiran, the film’s writer-director. Co-written with Safak Güçlü, Dalkiran, who has been credited into developing original horror films in Turkey, has extended even further the Turkey horror movement that’s now spilling into the States with his upcoming release distributed by Breaking Glass Pictures. The “Cennet” (“Heaven”) and “Cehennem 3D” director gets biblical with his spin on Jewish mysticism in the tale of Lilith by putting definitive, loyal, and deceitful acolytes around Adam’s first, and most fiendish, wife created by God from the same dirt as Adam and these followers seek to summon the devil through the love child of two of Lilith’s crossbreed children. Sounds interesting, right? Biray Dalkiran might have brought horror to Turkey, but in the States, the director is a single cell trying to make a statement in a melting pot of an overcrowded horror cinema organism.
Angela Durazo stars as Amy, the surrogate mother to Satan, and this is Durazo’s sophomore film, but her debut in a lead of a feature film. As a leading lady, the Nevada born former catalog model has a lot going for her: talented actresses, stunning beauty, and an overall multifaceted person. She only has one problem, she’s surrounded by an uncharismatic and unskilled American cast that unfortunately dilute her performance. One of the more important cast members is Nathan Schellerup in his first credit role and it shows. Schellerup is terribly unconvincing and stiff that his opposite Amy role of John is utterly, and unintentionally, hilarious whenever anything comes out of his mouth. It’s like trying to watch C-3PO try to act and that’s probably offensive to the gold plated droid. Amy’s friend Rose, played by Katy Benz, felt unnecessarily wasted that’s not entirely Benz’s doing as the character’s written into the story sporadically or referred to in past sequences that were never hinted or shot during linear storytelling. Benz has the dark, brooding features that these horror thrillers are built upon, yet Biray is unable to capitalize on the actress’s memorizing eyes or succulent succubus-like lips to really sell the character as an evil abiding force. Malinda Farrington, Danny Winn, and, Marqus Bobesich, and Lou Cariffe round out the remaining cast.
To be blunt, “The Crossbreed” is an unfocused effort by Biray Dalkiran. The concept premise is there, but the execution was sorely blundered in the worst possible way produced by not only the clunky performances, but also with a meandering story that just flounders with underdevelopment, super-cheesy digital effects (i.e. a crawling and crying cinder baby demon), and detrimental or kamikaze editing consisting of electrical interference flashbacks and/or visions complete with a slapped together and tepid soundtrack stuck on an endless loop. The digital manifesting demon crying baby crawling toward characters or the two aborted babies frying in a shallow cooking pan duly note how unintentionally campy “The Crossbreed” can be in Biray’s all too serious devil cult flick that won’t afflict any ounce of terror or suspense. Even the pre-credit opening scene is a detached segment, an island scene, that goes unexplained to pay it credit and feels just another waste of time.
Breaking Glass Pictures presents the BD America and DFGS Production produced “The Crossbreed” onto a not rated DVD. The 85 minute single-sided single-layer DVD9 is presented in a widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio. The image quality varies from night and day sequences, pending on whether Dalkiran’s choice blue tint. The night shots are inarguably blotchy at times, especially on background walls and floors, resulting in less definition. The English Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound has zest behind it with clear dialogue quality. The soundtrack, though poorly timed and repetitive, maintains an above par level grade. There are times when the dialogue looses fidelity; an example would be during scene with John playing a round of solo darts and the quality notably differs during a phone conversation with another character. Bonus features include a look at Biray Dalkiran’s career in horror, a showreel of Biray Dalkiran’s films, a behind-the-scenes look (sans dialogue) of “The Crossbreed,” and the trailer. Breaking Glass Pictures conventionally pushes the limits with edgy independent filmmaking and “The Crossbreed” is a stray outside their cache that includes a great lineup of shocking gems like “Tick-off Trannies with Knives,” “Hanger,” and “Someone’s Knocking at the Door.” Yet, Dalkiran’s goreless demonic thriller has no bite and is so tame, with minimalistic explicit material, that whenever profanity is used it doesn’t settle well into the film’s biblical-riddle totality.
Los Angeles’ skid row is the desolated and forgotten residence to countless displaced people living in tents or sleeping bags on the cold streets, fighting ever which way they can to live just one more day. When three University of Southern California students take a wrong turn onto the streets of skid row, a dangerous world opens to them where being young and privileged doesn’t warrant an easy pass through LA’s notorious “The Nickel.” A homeless gang, ramrodded by a vicious vagrant named Wilco, catches them trespassing under the unused sixth street bridge and detains them until the situation turns deadly wrong. When one of the students, Marshall, escapes naked and on foot, a chase ensues through the empty concrete jungle, and as he attempts to retrieve help, he encounters wretched night owls who are just as dangerous, or if not more so, than Wilco and his gang.
The very first impression from the films of “Parasites’” director Chad Ferrin came in the form of Ferrin’s 2003 underground cannibal dweller film “The Ghouls” and, retrieving past critiques or comments from past yonder, I wasn’t too thrilled with his indie sophomore feature. However, after sitting through “Parasites” and being a fan of the 2009 pleasantly berserk “Someone’s Knocking at the Door,” a second viewing might be warranted. The 2016 film, shot on location, defines Ferrin’s immense penchant for independent filmmaking that basically tells a story of one man’s perilous and herring marathon journey through the meat grinder of Los Angeles while also reminding and resonating viewers that the homeless are just an unfortunate alternate version of ourselves.
“Parasites” will suck every once of hope and happiness one might have for humanity to the point of believing in misanthropic perspectives. Purely oozing with cynicism in a nightmare scenario, the story couldn’t have reached such depths without a few key performances such by Robert Miano (“Giallo”), a bold and enduring role for Sean Samuels, and an always pleasant cameo by “Day of the Dead’s” most villainous captain, Joseph Pilato. Though, some exaggerated moments of peculiar over performances and prolonged montage scenes of Sean Samuels running through the barren Skid Row maze run their course with seizing captivation, but Miano steals many scenes with his spiteful portrayal of an overprotective, mad dog violent bum being the venomous snakehead of a 1980’s style street gang whose keen on hunting down and burying a college quarterback.
What I also found interesting about the Ferrin’s scripted-narrative is the severe lack of tension with race and gender relations between the eclectic group of characters. Much of the action and dialogue flows freely without much opposition as if the racial slang or the running down of a young black man is normalcy. Gang leader Wilco only cares about one thing, his dilapidated corner of L.A., and berates everyone in a fit of racism peppered with nihilism. Ferrin purposefully implemented a Hispanic and an Asian in Wilco’s crew to run rampant with obscenities from their leader, along with a hefty woman to whom Wilco objectifies constantly with chauvinistic nicknames such as “Sugartits” and “Sweet Cheeks,” and an athletic black character being the subject of a bizarro-world reversal characteristic witch-hunt that relates awfully too familiar with recent race crimes. The social commentary leaves an everlasting trail of uncomfortable goosebumps, working their way toward the heart’s core of human morality and packing a powerful punch when not nearly one single character has any redeeming value.
Crappy World Films in association with Girls and Corpses Magazine produces “Parasites,” an exhibition a do-or-die survival horror framed to point out the loathsome portions of past, and most certainly, current events. Ferrin’s low-budget film goes the extra mile with the brief, yet effective, violent special effects. I’m unable to critique on the audio and video quality of the 108 Media distribution release, nor the bonus features, as a screener copy was provided. “Parasites'” raw approach through characters, story, and cinematography, breathes life into a desolate place like “The Nickel” and gives power to the powerless, remarking upon the monsters we create by ignoring their existence and shunning their potential worth. The fear from this film is all too real.