Found Footage Horror (Cannibal Holocaust)

Posted in Horror Showcase, Updates with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 3, 2011 by splatterpictures

A recent comment I read about the “Found Footage” Horror Genre by one of my facebook chums has inspired me, probably to the detriment of most my audience, the origins of the genre.

Many people most closely associate this particular genre with The Blair Witch Project, the little independent film that came out in 1999, and it makes sense for them to think that. Before the Blair Witch, however, there were a number of “found footage” films which were small, independent ventures. The first I remember ever watching was “The McPherson Tape” which I might get to reviewing one day. Right now, though, I would like to take this time to talk about the grandfather of all Found Footage horror movies which, I might add, is the very first one: Cannibal Holocaust.

Cannibal Holocaust was released in 1980 by Italian director Ruggero Deodato it was written by Gianfranco Clerici. The two would collaborate on a number of films but this one, as you’ll find out, is easily one of the most controversial horror movies of all time.

Before I even get into what this film is about, I will explain what was controversial about it. The clearest way to understand this is that, at the time, no movie had been released under the premise of “found footage.” It was a high concept for film-goers at the time, seeing as they had never experienced anything quite like it. When it was released in Italy it took ten days before Deodato, Clerici, and the rest of the production staff were arrested for obscenity, and then going so far as to Charge Deodato with murder. Here’s why:

The film depicts the actual killing of several animals for the purpose of filmmaking. As such, the film was banned in several countries for animal cruelty and, while some have lifted the ban, it is still in place for many countries.

Deodato was charged with murder because authorities believed that the depictions of death were actually authentic and that Cannibal Holocaust was an actual snuff film. It didn’t help that Deodato had all of the actors on a public appearance ban for one year in order to make the illusion seem real. After an extensive search, all actors were found and the charges of murder dropped. Sooo what’s this movie even about anyways?

Well I will do my best to give a synopsis that doesn’t give too much away.

The film starts off with a documentary about a missing American film crew who went to shoot a documentary about cannibalistic tribes in the Amazon. The team that goes to find them are another film crew and an Anthropologist named Harold Monroe. What they find is a tribe that is very hostile towards them, but after some convincing they are finally led to a shrine of bones which are soon revealed to be the bones of the original film crew that went missing. Hanging from the bones are film reels that the natives allow them to take. Monroe and his team take it back America to see the raw footage and present it as a documentary.

The reels are reviewed and thus the “found footage” portion of the film begins. The rest of the movie shows the film crew trekking through the jungle, killing animals for food and, again, this is where the actual animal cruelty comes in. Eventually their guide is bitten by a snake and they are forced to continue on their own. The tribes people are tortured and humiliated in various ways for the sake of the film crew’s movie, and it becomes very clear to the audience that they are essentially the villains of the story who have no regard for the natives, the jungle or, ultimately, even each other. I will spare you the gory details, but rest assured there is plenty of death, blood and cannibalism to justify the name of the movie. In some unedited versions, there is even a montage at the end that takes real news footage of executions and puts them in for even more realism.

So, is it good? I would say it’s an interesting piece of film history and, whether or not you agree with it, the choice to actually kill animals and then putting the news footage at the end tricks the audience into thinking that maybe the film crew and some natives were really killed. It certainly worked on Italian authorities.

The film’s merit relies on the somewhat heavy-handed message that perhaps it’s the modern world and the media who are the real monsters, or cannibals in this case. A somewhat cliché argument if you ask me. For horror fans and film buffs, this is something you shouldn’t pass up. That being said, I do not recommend this movie to anyone squeamish in the “general population.” Stick with the latest from Pixar or something.

ANYWAY that’s it for now.

Vampire movies before 1935 (part three)

Posted in Horror Showcase, Updates with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 3, 2011 by splatterpictures

Hello all! Please forgive the late entry for the three part digital chin wag on Vampire films before 1935. We’ve already taken a look at Nosforatu, the silent film that started the genre, and Universal’s Dracula, the first and (arguable) the best portrayal of the most famous blood sucker. Check my notes for a full run-down on both movies, I will definitely be switching gears here and discuss my all time favourite Vampire movie, simply titled “Vampyr” ((no fancy links no proper trailer to show))

Vampyr was made in 1932 by Danish director Carl Dreyer, the most interesting thing about this film is that it uses source material from Sheridan Le Fanu’s “In the Glass Darkly, most specifically, it takes from the short story Carmilla, and also portions of “The Room in the Dragon Volant” The part that is interesting is that these short stories are what inspired Bram Stoker to write Dracula twenty-five years later.

The film itself was very low budget So much so that most of it was funded by Nicolas Gunzburg, who also starred in the film under a different name.

The ironic thing about this movie was how hated it was, first screenings in France were met with boos by the audience, which caused Dreyer to re-cut it after the premier. It was his first sound film but it was recorded in three languages, a process that was very expensive so, the film actually has very little dialogue and relies on bizarre imagery more akin to a silent film.

The story is about a man named Allan Gray who arrives at a mysterious inn, when the film starts it already has an extremely creepy vibe, I remember watching it late at night and being a little put off by the old man with the scythe. The movie follows a disorienting atmosphere and you can never really tell if Gray is awake or asleep in many of the scenes.

This film in general is very subdued and low budget offering a different kind of horror experience that is very visual, The story keeps you guessing and I don’t want to give too much away, Ironically only later in life did critics turn around on Vampyr, the very things that audiences and critics hated about it at the time are what are praised today. Sadly much of this film was lost to the sands of time, but a fairly complete versions exist, although with somewhat butchered audio, and only in the original German. Like always, the whole thing is up on Youtube so give it a watch if you got the time.

This is the last of my Vampire series, I just wanted to maybe shed some light on a few things since nowadays, the genre has changed dramatically mostly due to things like Twilight, True Blood, and Vampire Diaries. I will say that the horror is certainly gone from these creatures, and I frankly don’t like it. It is interesting how Hollywood and media in general propelled vampires into the public psyche and not for the better. It’s all about making them sexy, making them appealing when really, aren’t they supposed to be evil monsters? *le sigh* stay tuned I have some more things coming up, hope you enjoyed and I’ll see you next time.

Vampire movies before 1935 (part two)

Posted in Horror Showcase, Updates with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 3, 2011 by splatterpictures

Well it’s time to take another look at some Vampire movies before 1935. This next one isn’t a particular favourite of mine, but I feel I can’t honestly overlook it considering it is widely regarded as the definitive movie of the genre and it started the universal monster craze of the 1930’s and 40’s.

I’m of course talking about universal’s 1931 Dracula Starring Bela Lugosi. Like Nosforatu this film was inspired by Bram Stokers Novel of the same name. However Unlike that films director F. W. Murnau who made Nosferatu without permission. Dracula’s director Carl Laemmle, Jr. aquired the rights legally. Thus, created a literal adaptation of the book.

Originally Laemmle wanted popular silent film legend Lon Chaney to depict Dracula but he succumb to throat cancer and was unable to do it. The movie was made during the great depression so the grand set pieces of a lot of genre films of that era couldn’t be made. Bela Lugosi’s portrayal of Dracula is as I said considered definitive; it has been copied over and over again. He’s an attractive, and swave nobleman, who also has very sudden but effective bursts of cruelty. I think what keeps me from loving this movie is the fact that since it has been redone so many times it is difficult to watch it without feeling you’ve seen it all before. It does help to remember that this is the one that truly started it all.You can check it out on youtube absolutly free.

Stay tuned for the third and final part of vampire movies before 1935

Vampire Movies before 1935 (part 1)

Posted in Horror Showcase, Updates with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 3, 2011 by splatterpictures

Recently, and by recently I actually mean within the last five years, movies about vampires have become pretty popular. I’ve seen the Vampire Diaries and the Twilights

I mainly wanted to share three films (well two in particular) that started the genre.

First up is Nosferatu : A Symphony of Terror a movie made in 1922 by German director F. W. Murnau. This is the first vampire movie made, and essentially an unauthorized adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracular. However, many things about the movie were a lot different than what Bram Stoker wrote. The Vampire is Count Orlok Instead of England the Movie takes place in a fake city of Wisborg in Germany, also instead of taking place at the end of the 19th century it was in the year 1838. Many other things were changed until what remained was essentially an original production.

The movie premired in Berlin and was given positive reviews. The commercial success was hindered however because of Bram Stoker’s widow. She sued the studio for Plagiarism and Copyright infringement. The courts decided in her favour and al prints of Nosferatu were orderd to be destroyed. We as a culture almost lost this brilliant film, but thankfully it was the olden days and a copy was stashed away for safe keeping.

Max Shriek Schreck’s preformance as Orlok is Creepy, he isn’t an attractive or particularly charming, rather relying on the supernatural to get the job done. The movie has a great use of shadow, and the music is terrific. You can find the entire movie on Youtube for free, check it out!

Stay tuned for Part II…