Monday, October 24, 2011
Street Trash is a tongue-firmly-in-cheek exercise in exploitative extremes. Trying to explain the concepts and storylines that make up this 1987 cult classic, is like calling Ted Kasczynski for tech support. But what I can tell you about this neon green slime covered cult gem is that it's worth seeking out. So many things in this movie go above and beyond the normal expectations of the gore bag, gross-out, sub-genre of horror made popular by movies like Dawn Of The Dead, Peter Jackson's Bad Taste, The Toxic Avenger. First off, Street Trash showcases some of the best and most frenetic camera work in a low budget film of it's era. In fact, after Street Trash, Jim Muro became one of Hollywood's best steadycam operators working on such big budget sets as Field Of Dreams, Terminator 2, Casino, and even Titanic! Not bad for a guy who once made a movie about how a toxified form of cheap alcohol causes human beings become the equivalent to gore-spewing, Jackson Pollock paintings. Secondly, The acting is completely over the top and by unknowns, which always lends a real sense of credulity to almost any indie film. Apparently, some actual homeless people were cast for authenticity. Which makes it hard to know when lines are actually being delivered, or if the audience is just witnessing the rantings of a chemically addled, mentally ill derelict. Thirdly, like it's crazed homeless characters, Street Trash prides itself in being a completely random and rough customer. A sense of deliberate depravity pervades every frame in this film. So don't get too bent out of shape over inconsistent motives, plot holes, or the overall weirdness of the script. This movie was made for midnight movie geeks and the cult flick addicted cinephiles who have seen it all and are in need of a new fix, even if the needle is dirty.
Maybe listing a few of the delightfully disgusting gags that Street Trash offers, may explain the heart of the situation?
My eyes have seen the glory gory of booze that causes multiple melting and exploding vagrants, a man dematerializing until he is nothing but a floating head in a toilet, full frontal male and female nudity, Nam vet hallucinations, mortuary humor, the homicidal use of a knife made from a human femur bone, hilarious banter with mafia goons, one of the most hilarious shoplifting scenes ever, a roid-raging cop's celebratory vomit on a subdued mafia goon after a fight, a game of keep away with a severed penis, gang rape, necrophilia, and decapitation by a Co2 tank!
If the above mentioned scenes sound too disgusting, absurd, or tasteless, it's because they are, and that's exactly what the team who made Street Trash was going for.
Fun Facts about Street Trash:
Usually classified as a cult horror-comedy, Street Trash is also considered a "melt" movie. Other notable melt movies are The Incredible Melting Man, Slime City, Body Melt, and The Devils Rain.
Thunderbird was the original volatile vino used in the short film that Street Trash was based on. It was changed to Tenafly Viper for the feature.
Bill the Cop was played by a real NYPD officer named Bill Chepil
Bryan Singer, the man responsible for directing House M.D., The Usual suspects, X-Men, X-2, and producing X-Men: First Class, Apt Pupil, and Trick 'R' Treat, was a production assistant on Street Trash
Tony Darrow, an actor who's career almost exclusively consists of being typecast in mafioso roles, plays another mafia type in Street Trash named Nick Duran. He also performs the song "We Do things My Way" that plays during the closing credits.
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Do you tire of the same old human fodder-filled teen slasher flicks? Do you want to see an actual suspenseful, shocking, and gruesome "killer on the loose" movie that doesn't rely on the attractiveness of the cast or cheap gore gags? Do you like foreign films? If you answered yes to these question, then you are ready for 2007's French sleeper, À l'intérieur, or better known in the U.S. as, Inside.
The movie starts off with a devastating car wreck from which a pregnant woman named Sarah is rushed to the hospital. Four months later she awakes from a coma to find that she lost her husband in the crash, but their baby is about to be born on Christmas Day. She goes home to prepare for her baby's delivery only to be stalked by a mysterious woman in black who will go to any homicidal length to steal Sarah's child. Cue the Ace Of Base single "All that she wants"
Inside is a perfect example of modern horror done right. Horror fans will undoubtedly squirm with genuine feelings of unease and overwhelming dread at the grotesquely intense scenes of bodily harm, (and there are many) as well as the practical and painstakingly realistic special effects. But what really seals the deal is the oppressive force of the mood. Juxtaposing while accentuating the brutal and horrific elements of this film, the cinematography of Inside, is an absolute breath of fresh air in the horror genre. A bleak hazy atmosphere and a fevered sense of desperation hangs heavy throughout. It's an unshakable foreboding ambiance that most modern filmmakers have unfortunately traded in for POV shaky cam shots and jump cuts every 1.5 seconds. The minimal yet pulsing electronic score is very effective and fits the pacing perfectly. Once Inside opens, it gains momentum at a very deliberate clip until it's running full steam ahead. It moves relentlessly for the the last two thirds of it's duration until it slams to a jarring halt with one of the most horrific ending sequences in horror film history.
I am glad that the folks at Dimension Extreme released this film a few years back, but I do have my scruples with the packaging (shown above) and the little or no promotional campaign. The dvd cover art looks like a hurried photoshop project that makes Inside look like another vague but potentially gory slasher flick. Inside definitely deserves better. It has the potential to claim a spot in the annals of such slasher horror classics as Psycho, Peeping Tom, Dario Argento's giallos, Bill Lustig's Maniac, Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer... So if the you are tired of the pandering PG-13 rated psuedo-horror, and teen sex comedies thinly veiled as slasher flicks, then do yourself a favor and give Inside a spin. It's a true horror film made for true horror fans.
Fun Facts about Inside:
Inside is part of the new wave of extreme horror films from France. Other notable titles include, Frontier(s), Calvaire: the Ordeal, Martyrs, Them, and High Tension.
Inside was Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo's first time in the director's chair.
Director, Jaume Balagueró of (REC), has mentioned interest in remaking Inside.
Monday, October 17, 2011
Welcome to the absolute most dire of cinematic dregs. The lowest low in movie history. The bottom of the barrel has rotted through, leaving the filmmakers of A Serbian Film, as well as it's audience, to burrow further into the soil beneath the barrel, like the flesh-hungry, corpse-feasting worms. To what or where you might be asking yourself? To the next level in a continual struggle in the horror film industry for the lowest common denominator? To chip away at an already deteriorating moral core? Or maybe, to simply flex political, artistic, and esoteric muscles to an increasingly apathetic world audience fed on the banal redundancy of PG-13 rated Hollywood horror, torture porn, remakes, and Saw sequels?
Dear reader, do not take my acquiescing of a Serbian Film with being a new low point mortally literal. Deconstruction and unlearning can be the fuel that furthers progress. But, when discussing horror films or shock cinema, it's important to make clear the intent, and the very essence of what makes these films resonate. The most effective horror films to date all seem to have one thing in common. Horror films, like capacitors in electronics, are vehicles for resistance. They are built to test the audience's limits in the realm of harrowing experience. Invariably, it's a race back to our primal fears, our dark recesses. Down the fabled rabbit hole to find a new lower end, to see just how much an audience can take. A true horror film's merit should leave it's viewers shattered, then reborn with new perspectives. Real horror films should act as a proverbial branch or sharp stone that in nature, would help us to slough off old dead skin or sharpen our claws, horns, and teeth. As Wes Craven puts it, "horror films are the boot camp for the psyche.'
Some horror films, especially the franchised contemporary lot, prefer to give the audience prerequisite information, holding the viewer's hand through a film's duration. Others, like Night Of The Living Dead, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Hills Have Eyes, Last House On The Left, I Spit On your Grave, Cannibal Holocaust, leave the viewer naked, in a hopeless cannibalistic nightmare reality without the slightest reprieve. Few films in horror cinema history have the gall to assault the viewer on so many levels as the above mentioned films. These hard-edged horrors seem to only come around every few years, almost out of nowhere. Independently crafted by unknown directors and casts who are hell-bent on lowering us into even darker territories. Shattering expectations forever, or at least for a while. With an almost calculable certainty, most contemporary critics will fervently pan and decry the intent of these types of films as being unethical, morally bankrupt, or even pornography.
Ironically, or perhaps intentionally? A Serbian Film's story revolves in the world of an aging ex porno actor, Milos, who is requested to star in a new experimental style of pornography. Knowing that his age is starting to show and that he has a family to support, Milos takes the job in hopes of acquiring enough money to free himself and his family of financial burdens for the rest of their lives. Unbeknownst to him, the movie that he is set to star in is planned to be the most realistically dehumanizing film project of all time. The involvement with said project brings an unrelenting terror into his life that has never before been witnessed in horror film history.
Without giving away much more than what the dvd and blu-ray distrubutors would in the synopsis portions of their packaging, Just know that A Serbian Film is a true cinematic force. To be quite honest, if you are not a seasoned veteran of shock cinema, you may want to build up a tolerance by watching some of the above mentioned shock classics. Or maybe stay away from A Serbian film all together. It's a heavily debated and detested film for a myriad of reasons and as such should be approached cautiously. You can't just watch it. It's not that easy. To say that you have "experienced" it, seems to be a more accurate description. For someone to say that they "like" or "love" A Serbian Film doesn't seem to truly hold the films undeniable weight either. It will rape, level, crush, and finally mark everyone who choses to stand in it's path. Saying that you "fear" or "respect" A Serbian Film may be a more honest appraisal.
So if you are up for a new, challenging, and ultimately nihilistic horror film experience, A Serbian film is your new high or low, depending on how you look at the philosophy and intent of the modern horror film.
Fun Facts about A Serbian film: There is nothing fun about A Serbian Film.