Each day in October, three brave souls from our gang of Groovy Goolies (co-editor Paul Childs, Boardgames Master Aaron Nash and Ultimate Movie Geek Nathaniel Jepson) are watching horror films from around the world and across a wide spectrum of the horror genre, so expect slashers, ghosts, cultists, demons, vampires, cannibals, zombies, kaiju, aliens and more!
Paul’s Choice – Lord Of Illusions (1995)
I’d been considering a Clive Barker film for this year. Hellraiser, Candyman and Nightbreed were all in the running. However, I’ve been working my way through Star Trek: Enterprise over the last few months and as a result of that, Netflix’s algorithms suggested this film to me. Scott Bakula stars as D’Amour, a private investigator who is famous for once performing an exorcism. Dorothea (Famke Janssen) hires him to protect herself and her husband, renowned stage magician Swann, from a reincarnation obsessed cult. When Swann killed by one of his own tricks, D’Amour quickly finds himself thrust back into the supernatural world he has tried so hard to forget. That’s the set up for Lord Of Illusions and I have to admit, just ten minutes after finishing it, I had to look that plotline up on Wikipedia as I was already starting to forget what I had just watched!
It’s not a bad film, as such, it just wasn’t very memorable. As with Barker’s previous directorial efforts (Nightbreed, Hellraiser), the makeup and practical effects are very good. Unlike yesterday’s Deep Red, the blood here is very realistic! However, some really quite ropey CGI towards the end lets it down. As for the story, it kind of reminded me of Angel Heart and In The Mouth Of Madness (both of which I watched last year, and both of which were far better than this).
I’m glad I had this for tonight and not tomorrow as that would have been a bit of an anti-climax. It’s not that its a bad film, just not a particularly memorable one! Shame, but I think my double bill of Alien and The Shining will more than make up for it!
Aaron’s Choice – Der Todesking (1990)
Der Todesking (Or the Death King) is a real oddity in that it’s truly different from what I expected. Not that I really knew what to expect, but having seen some of the directors other films I had an inkling. Nothing could have prepared me for what is a powerful and at sometimes moving experience.
The film is split into seven sections, each a different day of the week. The only connecting elements between them are the themes of death and suicide and the idea that each person has received a chain letter. Each section is letterboxed by the image of a decomposing corpse.
It may not sound like the film would be powerful or enlightening, but it’s the stunning way in which each section handles the core theme in different ways and the unrelenting nature of it which just works.
I won’t go into detail of each section as part of the power is in the surprise but I will say a little about Thursday as it is my favourite section and it doesn’t rely on any shock or surprise.
Thursday is literally a camera slowly working its way around the underside of a bridge with names appearing over the image of people who have committed suicide from jumping off it. It is immensely powerful and almost heartbreaking in its simplicity and slowness. It doesn’t even say that these people have jumped, you just get that gut feeling. It’s strong and almost as gutwrenching as anything graphic or violent. I’m not entirely sure why it’s so moving, but it just works.
Saturday, on the other hand, is much more in your face but is scarily relevant in today’s society. Events like those portrayed in the segment ate happening frighteningly frequently across the world. Its power comes in that it’s semi relatable. The way it’s filmed also gives it a grim, realistic look.
Tuesday is the only day which I feel doesn’t entirely work. It doesn’t glorify violence but it is the closest. It’s not terrible, but it doesn’t feel as good as the rest.
The idea that death just happens sometimes (for reasons we don’t get told here) is a subject not often talked about. Especially suicide, which happens and effects more people than are willing to accept. Suicide is a massive thing. The effects aren’t just for those who actually are at that stage where they are willing to take their own lives, but for friends and family task well. The idea that a person you know, who seems happy, one day would just kill themselves is heartbreaking. You always wonder if you could have done something or said something if you had known. But it sadly happens.
The film may have worked so well for me because I’ve lost friends to suicide and have felt both pain and shock. You don’t see it coming and the fact you can’t understand makes you dwell and question. This film captures those emotions, albeit in a fictitious way. It dwells and haunts you for long after it’s ended.
It’s an impressive low budget film which could have so easily been a film full of violence and Gore, but instead, we have a thoughtful and strangely profound look at death.
Nathaniel’s Choice – Poltergeist II (1986)
Our resident YouTuber ignores all good advice and goes towards the light. Check out his review of when he went to The Other Side: