One man kidnaps women, gags and bounds them inside his bleak apartment, and unleashes a fury of hate and disgust whilst searching for one woman who will understand him and his relentless, and vehement, scouring. One woman lures highly aroused men back to their apartment for what they believe will be a night of passionate embrace or of simplistic carnalities of inhibition. While the guys are thinking with the wrong head, the woman slices and dices them to a pulverized pulp of death meat and repetitively fillets their manhood postmortem without guilt. She, too, also searches for something, but is more reserved about it as she allows men to verbalize their needs and desires to her. As the two killers go through the melee day-by-day, they eventually find each other, but before realizing their compatibility, the killer inside themselves square off against each other in a one-on-one bout of maniacal mayhem that must unravel in blood before unsheathing true love.
Who knew that love could hurt so badly? Director Takashi Hirose exhibits a painful peak into two desperate swains callously searching for some understanding, some deep rooted mutual pain that plagues their own embodiment, in “Brutal,” Hirose’s 2016 feature that packs a bloody brawling wallop of the human will toward punitive punishment and desperate determination. The Japanese filmmaker also wrote and co-produced the three part chapters that segments Man, Woman, and Man and Woman into a commingled three act narrative of utter chaos that glorifies finding a soulmate in the most insane circumstances. E-Harmony. OKCupid. OnlyFarmers.com. None of these so-called matchmaker websites have the formidable fortitude to remove all the political niceties and to dig into the human psyche the way that only Takashi Hirose can to lure out and strip one person’s entire vulnerability and, essentially, the parts that makes us ultimately human into a raging, yet emotionally unstable, hapless lover.
Butch, the one and only moniker for the actor, portrays the Man who is a very strong and determined man that brings to his apartment many nice, and sometimes unsavory, attractive ladies; however, he doesn’t whip them up an aphrodisiac dinner or sweep them off their feet with a romantic Rom-Com. He likes to move the relationship along, at a hare’s pace, with getting down and dirty and in certainly not in a sexualized manner. Butch pinpoints the man’s ambitions, machine-like in his will with a hint of softness behind the eyes when plucking through the headcount of numerous women for his match. Ayano is equally compelling as Woman and though Ayano has brawnier range of comedies and dramas under her belt, she notches gore and shock as if it’s simple to get stabbed 50 times and be completely nude with unpleasant prosthetics garnishing the naughty bits of your body. Butch and Ayano are quintessential to “Brutal’s” languishing love story and present themselves with such confidence, which is made key from their previous work with Takashi Hirose – Ayano worked with Hirose in his dramatic horror short, “Bandaged” in 2011 and then Hirose worked with Butch in a 2012 zombie short entitled “Moratorium” that starred Japanese cult and former pinku actress, Asami. The film also stars Katrina Grey (“Vampire Reborn”), Takashi Nishina (“Ringu 2”), Naho Nakashima, and Nanako Ohata.
Hirose doesn’t hold back the punches. In fact, he’s added one or two more for good measures. Helmed by a three person crew and one visual effects artist, the special effects department ramps up the rampage and carnage, making poetry out of ruthless romanticism. The end result is absolutely killer with stab after stab, gore galore, and post-mutilation prosthetics of the naughty bits. Hirose steps aside for fight sequence director Satoshi Hakuzen to exalt his gift for action sequences. Having previously worked on “Resident Evil: Degeneration” and “Dead Sushi,” Hakuzen showcases his mixture of gore and shock horror and hand-to-hand combat in the smallest of quarters while still seamlessly continuing Hirose’s narrative. Yet, “Brutal” doesn’t follow much of the laws of basic human biology as when people are knifed multiple times, whether spreading punctures along the various parts of the body or more precise slices into one focused area like the crotch, they keep breathing breath and they keep moving like their Arnold Schwarzeneggers covered T-800 endoskeletons in “The Terminator” and that unfaithfulness to realism inches “Brutal” more toward a fantastical flavor.
Unearthed Films and MVDVisual present Takashi Hirose’s “Brutal” onto Blu-ray for the first time and it’s brutally honest with a phenomenally fair picture engrained from a singer layer BD and presented in 1080p with a widescreen 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Colors really match the film’s coarse tone of a desaturated hue where the blood runs like caramel colored water. Textures look fine, especially around the natural looking skin toned bodies of each person, and the no noticeable issues with compression. The Japanese language Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track fairs equally well with a prominent dialogue track and a sickening range of lacerating thrust that make wet whiff sounds of cold steel that much painful. Tatsushiro Hirose’s rock score unfortunately wanes in soundtrack behind the intensity of Man and Woman’s blood thirst for love to the point of almost non-existent. Subtitles sync up nicely to the dialogue track. Bonus features a clipped production progression of behind-the-scenes, trailers, and music videos. “Brutal” and Unearthed Films found each other, just as Man and Woman in their twisted circumstances, and present an entertaining 67 minutes that solidifies Takashi Hirose one hell of a romanticist and absolutely, 100% bestow his film a true-to-form designation.
Miskatonic University students Howard Damon and Randolph Carter investigate the disappearance of a missing friend last seen making good a dare to stay the night in a century-old, dilapidated house, right in the middle of a cemetery and with the caveat of a ghastly, creature legend. In the same instance, two colligate hunks try to fraternize with two freshman women within the dark and gloomy walls that seem to reposition themselves into an unescapable maze. Lurking through the inky corridors, an ancient and horrifying beast, thirsty for blood and hungry for flesh, continues to roam freely in the house, unleashed from it’s confined room a century ago, and hunting the students down one-by-one. Their only hope to get out alive is Howard’s haphazard bravery and Carter’s unrivaled intelligence that aim to rescue survivors and decipher the house’s resident Necronomicon to defeat an evil monster’s night of carnage.
Campy, brazen, and inspired, Jean-Paul Ouellette’s 1988 “The Unnamable” is every bit of an 80’s teen comedy rolled up into a bona fide ball of barbed madness shrouded with heaps of highly anticipated mystery. Unravels like a truly classic H.P Lovecraft story, Ouellette, who also penned the script, shows great patient to give the monster a grand finale revealing that leaves the characters left standing face-to-face with the fear that’s been stalking them. While “The Unnamable” strays away from more of Lovecraft’s prolific Cthulhu literary works, the story is drive by the theme of the unknown that partially, if not all, gives Ouellette motivation to not put the monster on full display. The fact that “The Unnamable” is also gory retells the tales of how horror used to be pure gold back in the Golden Age of the genre despite budget restraints and executive naivety in the audience ratings game.
“The Unnamable” finds their unlikely star for the unassertive character in Howard Damon. Soulcalibur series voice actor, Charles Klausmeyer, lands the role as his sophomore film about 8 years after Vanna White’s “Gypsy Angels.” Klausmeyer’s surefooted unsureness and comical desperation of Howard Damon makes him a likable character, likable enough to be opposite whatever has been locked away from over a century. Damn finds an arrogant cohort in Randolph Carter, a conceited fellow freshman whose a bit of a know-it-all, well versed by Mark Kinsey Stephenson. Stephenson, or rather his character, reminds me of a babyface John Glover (“Gremlins 2” and “Scrooged”). A pair of love switcheroo love interests in Alexandra Durrell, in her sole credited performance, and Laura Albert, who went from nude supporting roles to being one of the top stunt women in Hollywood, fair well as the standoffish and damsel-in-distress opposite the vibrant and lively Damon and Carter. Rounding out the remainder of the cast is Blane Wheatley, Eben Ham, Colin Cox, and Katrin Alexandre who did an impeccable gesticulation performance of the creature.
Ouellette story isn’t all that complex; a group of young students are trapped inside the black heart of a folklore notorious cemetery house. However, the breakneck narrative certainly needed something more extensive to the creature’s confinement and unholy backdrop, warranted to fulfill just what the hell these kids were getting into. The house has been doused with shielding dark magic, a fact barely mentioned until the final moments of the monster’s exposition, unveiled through the pages of the Necronomicon which becomes weaponized by quick study Carter. Spells and passages envelope the monster within the house’s old bones, like a prison cell constructed of two-by-fours, wood panelling, and asphalt shingles. While the story could have opened up more in that regard, the lack of dark mysticism doesn’t uproot an entertaining creature feature strongly braced with gory, character demising allegories, and peppered with misogynistic innuendos and campy skirmishes with the damned.
Unearthed Films and MVDVisual proudly present “The Unnamed” as part of their sub-label entitled Unearthed Classics and lands onto 1080p Blu-ray home video. Horror fans will thoroughly enjoy the newly restored 4k transfer presented in widescreen, 1.85:1 aspect ratio and the image quality is remarkably detailed with absent compression artifacts and edging enhancements. Skin tones look natural during outside shots while a blue tint, overlaying a dark backdrop, inside the rickety house isn’t overexposed and makes for quite the grim atmosphere. The English 5.1 Surround Sound DTS-HD, 2.0 PCM, audio track was resonating with a range of ambient sounds; however, an unfortunate mishap of ambient duplication followings about half a second from the initial sound. The dialogue track and soundtrack are no affected by this issue and the dialogue is clear in the forefront, not terrible interfered by the technical boo-boo. The extras are packed with audio commentary with Charles Klausmeyer, Mark Stephenson, Laura Albert, Eben Ham, Camille Calvet, and R. Christopher Biggs. There’s also a video interviews with actors Charles Klausmeyer, Mark Stephenson, Laura Albert, Mark Parra, R. Christopher Biggs, Camille Calvet, and Eben Ham, a vintage audio track, photo gallery, and trailers. The Blu-ray comes in a limited edition slip cover with the beautifully illustrated gothic-esque poster from Tongdee Panumas courtesy of the M. Wright Collection. “The Unnamable” was endangered; a potentially lost classic that quickly went to being out of print as soon as it was released onto DVD in Europe and never actually saw the digital upgrade light of day Stateside from it’s VHS predecessor. Luckily for us fans, Unearthed Films, living up to label moniker, unearths “The Unnamable” from the depths of obsolete format hell, revamping for a new generation of horror fans and re-transfixing fans who once thought Jean-Paul Ouellette’s film would never, ever see a glorious rebirth.
After bearing witness the brutal suicide of her father, Mary undergoes family counselling as a result of being the cause of her father’s death with repetitive public accusations of molestation. The ill-equipped counselor suggests medical evaluation from a professional who beseeches the assistance of The Catholic Church when the determination concludes that Mary is suffering from severe Satanic possession. Directives from high positions in the Church service in waves three priests to perform the delicate exorcism; all of whom have conducted an exorcism under difficult and soul-exhausting situations. The irresolute and embattled priests field the call, blindly walking into Mary’s slithery persuasive possession state of soul-tormenting and death. The priests will tirelessly seek to have the beleaguered Mary exorcised of the nasty demon from within and have her tattered body come back to Jesus…or perhaps be personally delivered to the Devil.
Finally! American Guinea Pig: “The Song of Solomon” has been on my highly anticipated review material list for a very, very long time. Written, produced, and helmed by the founder and president of Unearthed Films himself, Stephen Biro has been more than widely known for years to promote and glorify gore in the shock-provoking films underneath his banner; a practice that has made his company a stable in the realm of horror aficionados. “The Song of Solomon” keeps the blood flowing….splattering, squirting, spurting, spilling, in fact! Whereas many of the Unearthed Films productions and distributions have a granular or avant garde stories, Biro, despite the confined and limited locations, pens an engrossing narrative with evocative, haunting, and surreal characters surged into a powerful and ageless tale that sordidly spanks “The Exorcist” like an irrefutably forgotten and spoiled rotten step-child. “The Song of Solomon” is that good and soars to the top in being one of this reviewer’s favorite Unearthed Films’ titles.
Jessica Cameron should just be handed a ton of awards for her performance as the possessed Mary. Cameron’s creative creepiness is unsurpassable and just oozes out of the character, zapping an icy chill down each disk of the spine whenever she uses the playful sing-songy voice of a snake’s fork tongue. As a whole, Cameron singlehandedly comes off overwhelming haunting and delivers a personality made up of nightmare material; a phenomenal performance that rivals, if not outright tops, Linda Blair’s Regan. There are moments when you think the 2003 “Truth or Dare” director and actress had post-production enhanced vocals to make Mary persuasive, enticing, and demonic, but only a slight vocal overlay on top is the only thin icing on the already devilish cake. It’s not as if Cameron didn’t have any competition on screen, either. Scott Gabbey, David E. McMahon (“Followers”), Angelcorpse’s Gene Palubicki (“American Guinea Pig: Bloodshock”), and Jim Van Bebber (“The Manson Family”) compliment the versus’ righteous, if not also flawed, challenger with immense passion for their respective roles of grief-stricken priests, plucked carefully by top Church officials to handle the exorcism. Maureen Pelamati, Josh Townsend, and Scott Alan Warner (“3-Headed Shark Attack”) co-star.
Production value must reign above the conventional indie fare and special effects owns much of that real estate. The man behind the special effects on such films as “Mohawk” and “Lung II,” Marcus Koch, has teamed up with “Bereavement” and “Murder-Set-Pieces'” Jerami Cruise to assemble some of best, yet refreshingly basic, gore effects seen recently. Regurgitation of internal organs, the compound splintering of bones, and even a Columbian necktie are the prime examples of what to expect from the unlimited imagination of the Koch and Cruise collaboration. Locations are simple and tight, leaving not much room for exploration of options for practical effects, but each scene is well thought out, choreographed, and designed for gruesome upshot that keeps true to Unearthed Films brand of filmmaking. Toss all that into a sack along with fellow colleague Gene Palubicki’s malevolently cacophony soundtrack and the outcome is a well-rounded horror film with extreme unapologetic values worth the time of day and night.
“The Song of Solomon,” an Unearthed Films production, lands onto Blu-ray distributed courtesy of MVD Visual. The 86 minute runtime film is presented in a High Definition 1080p widescreen format, 1.90:1 aspect ratio, on a single layer BD-50 disc. If you want gore, you got it with this particularly warm hued transfer really puts the devil in the details with grisly effects that could be hard to stomach. The English LCPM Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track caters with nice fidelity. Dialogue is clearly present amongst the Palubicki score and the ghastly ambience augments the visual viscosity of the gore. Bonus features include an audio commentary with Stephen Biro and Jessica Camera, another commentary with Biro and effects gurus Marcus Koch and Jerami Cruise, interviews with Jessica Cameron, Stephen Biro, Marcus Koch, Gene Palubiki, David McMahon, and director of photography Chris Helleke, a behind the scenes look, outtakes, and a photo gallery. Comparing Stephen Biro’s “The Song of Solomon” to William Friedkin’s “The Exorcist” is like comparing apples to oranges as both films relish and thrive in their own atmospheres. However, “The Song of Solomon” stands firm as a powerful competitor that offers up a ravishingly foul and metaphysical entry into the genre realm of demonic possessions casted with raw talent.
Phil Stevens returns! The Philadelphian filmmaking is coming back for more surreal and gory abstract horror in his next upcoming project “Flowers 2,” a direct sequel, that “explores the final days of the serial killer known as ‘THE EXILE’ through a macabre birthday party held by his past murder victims. We are shown this monster’s violent past life through the eyes of his dead.”
However, Stevens needs your help because making movies you love and that you’re passion about is most certainly not free or cheap despite our best efforts. An Indiegogo page has been setup and the fans of “Flowers,” and I know there are many of you, should take the time to read thoroughly through the campaign page and think about donating to a original horror storytelling. The goal is $15,000 and Stevens is only 6% there from eleven backers. Please donate, no matter the denomination! Your contribution goes a long way and there’s swag for donations starting at $25, but you better hurry due to limited stock.
If you haven’t caught up with “Flowers” and you would like to know more, please read our positive review for “Flowers”. Also, “Lung,” another Phil Stevens directed film, received positive praise as well. We like Phil. So, we like to see him succeed in getting another chance to continue his story and to put into fruition his visionary tale of macabre.
You keep up-to-date with Phil and Flowers 2 at the official Facebook page – http://www.facebook.com/flowers02themovie
“Krokodil is a homemade drug. It combines codeine, lighter fluids, gasoline, paint thinner, alcohol, and other ingredients.” This fast growing Russian street drug gnaws along the inner layers of one man’s insides and clawing its way out. Also, the drug deteriorates his mental stability, invigorating extreme hallucinations from his damaged cerebral equilibrium and manifesting faux body images of himself as well as inviting humanoid demons into his tattered reality. The powerful opioid, if fabricated haphazardly, induces prolonged and deathly ill effects, both physical and mental, and as his body has survived in a post-nuclear world, his mind is as much of a ramshackle as the rest of the world is in ruin. As he spirals down, out of control, through the opioid rabbit hole, he becomes only a shell of himself, transforming into the purest toxicity of the drug that creates alligator scale-like sores over portions of his body.
The need to put the definition of Krokodil” first and foremost, in front of the plot summary above, felt necessary. Director Domiziano Christopharo made it essential to do the same prior to the credits of his 2012 film “Red Krokodil.” To the average joe, the very mention of “krokodil” means nothing other than a seemingly skewed, alternate version of the English word crocodile, but the gore and shock director, best known for his debut work “House of Flesh Mannequins,” wanted the background behind the street drug to sink in, to be injected, to be snorted, and to be smoked before audiences continue with their trip through the breakup of the body. Based off a script written by Francesco Scardone, the Italian director had set the stage with his grippingly ghastly tale telling talents toward the dominion of body horror combined with ample psychological manipulation from substance abuse and while Christopharo is no David Cronenberg, the eclectic filmmaker cycles the story through a poetic flow with mostly an off-screen monologue approach that gives glimpses of a degenerative mindset.
Co-producer of the film, Brock Madson, also stars as the withering drug addict. There are hints Madson plays the character named Arthur, but the film only credits the character as simply him, and theoretically, that’s proportionate to the storyline staged as a post-apocalyptic world where it’s just him, ensnared and isolated. The role’s non-verbal role leaves Madson to go full-throttle in physicality with a semi-to-fully nude performance and he maintains an animated disconcerting fear and aloof glee whenever the moods start to swing. For most of the duration, Madson is solo, but a couple of minor characters, fabricated by his addiction, freakishly gloom over him. Viktor Karam, as the Bunny Man, and Valerio Cassa, as the Monster, positions themselves as enduring internal calamities that plague the Madson’s character.
“Red Krokodil” is laced with themes and symbolism, especially in a religious sense with the resurrection of Jesus Christ that parallels the trials and tribulations of the addict, mainly with going through the withdrawals. In order to save himself to be reborn, he must first sacrifice himself and Madson literally dons the crown of thorns and self-inflicts a stake through his feet. However, this self-crucification is all in his head, but when he awakes he’s able to ignore the heavily influential calls of the krokodil. Christapharo had kept the addicts apartment a dull, colorless prison, growing with filth and decay, but once the addict has saved himself, the room brightens, the outside sky has illuminated, and the near-death abuser has a little life left to be jovial, but to keep the grim themed tone against this man’s struggle to live through strife, Christapharo invokes false hope that ultimately becomes the addict’s concreted freedom from it all. The addict’s inner monologue goes through the steps how recovery, rekindling good memories from the past and wanting to not feel himself as it’s painful to feel your own skin be on fire from the corrosive drug, but rather be a personification of the wind, sun, water, or the grass, an element of the film that touches upon how humans mistreat the Earth much like they mistreat their bodies.
Unearthed Films and MVDVisual present “Red Krokodil” on a director’s cut, high definition, 1080p Blu-ray. Sporting a macabre, yet gorgeously illustrated cover, the release also has the same attributes in the image quality presented in a widescreen 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Like most film distributed by Unearthed Films, the grime and the disgusting reign as supreme and “Red Krokodil” has ample muck with bleeding orifices and an unappetizing uncleanliness about it, but the picture quality is clean and detailed with very little electrical interference. Color palettes, when the addict dreams to escape to nature, is a potent reminder that “Red Krokodil” isn’t just transmitting two-toned, gray and black, scale and displays exquisite landscapes. Even the computer generated Chernobyl like waste land of a city going up in an atomic fashion is well done with only a slightly glossy feel. The Dolby Digital 2.0 track broods with the ideal amount of LFE from composer Alexander Cimini that’s not acutely jarring, but still manages to showcase the detriment. Bonus material includes an alternate musical ending, deleted scenes, photo gallery, the CGI test of the nuclear explosion, teaser trailer, two theatrical trailers, and Unearthed Films tailer reels. “Red Krokodil” is a total out of body experience. Overwhelmingly brutal with muscular and mental breakdown, director Domiziano Christapharo’s indie picture of ill-effects of drug abuse has done what “Requiem for a Dream” has done for the mainstream with the matter-of-fact implication that manufactured street drugs are the purest evil that we could voluntarily do to sabotage ourselves.