The Video Nasties #82 – Cannibals (1980, Jess Franco)

vlcsnap-2017-08-16-23h43m22s821.png

‘My wife fell victim to their…cannibalism.’

Cannibals opens with a title reading, ‘A film by Franco Prosperi’ and then two minutes later it says, ‘Directed by Jess Franco’. When even the opening titles are confused and confusing, you just know you’re gonna be in for a treat, and Cannibals does not disappoint.

vlcsnap-2017-08-16-23h43m38s673.png

For the record, this is the work of Mr Franco and not Mr Prosperi, as the onscreen presence of Jess and his frequent co-star/eventual wife attest. Cannibals also stars Al Cliver from Franco’s The Devil Hunter and don’t worry – we’ll be covering that one too. Big Al stars as Jeremy, a scientist who takes a boat trip through the jungle with his wife and daughter. Everything is a bit off at the start – in the grand tradition of Euro-horror, his daughter is dubbed by a middle-aged woman and Al has no moustache – and luckily, things just get weirder.

vlcsnap-2017-08-16-23h43m55s745.png

Their boat drifts out of the jungle and into the middle of the sea, where a bunch of cannibals somehow board the boat and eat his wife. You’d think it would have been easier to attack when they were fifteen foot from the shore, but whatever.

The cannibals were clearly using surprise to their advantage.

vlcsnap-2017-08-16-23h46m58s213.png

Now you may recognise some of these guys from the last film that we covered, Cannibal Terror. The two films shared cast and sets and also, regrettably, that tall white cannibal with the sideburns. There’s one here with a nice moustache (perhaps this is where Al’s moustache went?) and one who has based his makeup on Peter ‘Catman’ Criss from KISS.

vlcsnap-2017-08-16-23h44m41s647.png

Franco is not messing about here, and we get our first cannibal chowdown a few minutes in. Perhaps realising that the entrail munching in cannibal films is usually the most boring part, Franco shoots the scene in extreme close up, ultra slow motion and switches between colour stock and black and white! When combined with a brilliant score that sounds like an acapella rendition of the theme from Suspiria, it makes for a truly unusual and avant-garde approach to the gore. It’s also guaranteed to really wind up people who are just here for the blood, which is always funny.

vlcsnap-2017-08-16-23h45m00s713.png

Cliver and his daughter are captured by the tribe, and Al gets his arm chopped off and scarpers as fast as his little legs can carry him, leaving his daughter with the cannibals. The natives have an annoying habit of speaking their own language then repeating what they just said in English, so when the chief finds Al’s daughter, he says, ‘Ooo-rooo abunamoo, White Goddess!’ This continues for a while until the dubbers decide to give up and just speak English. Al runs and runs until he finds some guys in a jeep(!), his missing arm clearly tucked into his sleeve, where it shall remain for the rest of the film.

vlcsnap-2017-08-16-23h45m31s764.png

When we next meet Al, his moustache is back, with the added bonus of a beard, and he is in hospital being looked after by Lina Romay, the lucky bastard. Like almost every other cannibal film on the list, Cannibals is at its best when there are no cannibals or jungles onscreen, so when this film becomes a tentative romance between doctor and patient, shot with a backdrop of Christmastime New York, I’m loving it.

vlcsnap-2017-08-16-23h47m38s271.png

I could watch these two actors stroll around the Big Apple all day, particularly if it’s scored by beguilingly sinister easy listening music, as it is here. Then Al sees a vision of his daughter and I hoped desperately that we would never go back to the jungle and that the film would become a haunting ghost story with an extra helping of Lina in glasses and a nurse uniform.

vlcsnap-2017-08-16-23h46m39s827.png

Instead, Al gets his memory back and decides to mount a rescue mission to the jungle to find his daughter. He goes to the jungle (all palm trees, cactuses and lush white sand beaches) where he confronts the best character in the film, Mr Martin, a Portuguese businessman played by Jess Franco himself, wearing a Mexican poncho and dubbed with a Texan accent.

vlcsnap-2017-08-16-23h48m10s627.png

Cliver demands, ‘a guide, supplies and a couple of hundred men.’ Jess says no, so instead Cliver tempers his expectations and shacks up with a yachtful of thrill-seeking yuppies in bikinis, which I suppose is the next best thing.

vlcsnap-2017-08-16-23h48m46s685.png

You know what happens next, but before we finish up there’s one scene where Franco gets to demonstrate his talent for unexpected ethereal beauty – the creepy aftermath of a massacre shot with the sun streaming through the thick smoke of the fires.

vlcsnap-2017-08-16-23h49m49s936.png

Apparently most people don’t like this film, but I’d take its dorky weirdness and idiosyncrasies over almost any other cannibal film. We can debate whether the entertainment is deliberate or accidental, but if you’re being entertained, who really cares? This is the sort of film where our one-armed hero selects a pump action shotgun as his weapon of choice, a gun that requires two hands to use. Just sit back and enjoy the ride. I swear, you’ve never seen the South American jungle look quite so…European.

vlcsnap-2017-08-16-23h51m31s718.png

Advertisements
Posted in movie reviews | Leave a comment

The Video Nasties #81 – Cannibal Terror (1980, Alain Deruelle)

vlcsnap-2017-08-16-23h32m30s703.png

‘Nice thighs.’

‘You can say that again.’

‘Nice thighs.’

The above excerpt from Cannibal Terror neatly sums up the entire half-assed endeavor perfectly. Rarely have I seen such a total nonentity of a film play out over the course of 90 endless minutes, particularly the second half which is surely some kind of tortuous endurance test.

vlcsnap-2017-08-16-23h34m20s232.png

Alarm bells start ringing the moment you find out that the production company is Eurociné. Around the same time, Eurociné was also responsible for one of Jess Franco’s worst movies, Oasis Of The Zombies and also one of Jean Rollin’s worst movies, Zombie Lake. Don’t worry, we’ll be covering both of those soon.

vlcsnap-2017-08-16-23h34m59s330.png

But at least those two movies occasionally rose above their low budget ineptitude. Cannibal Terror can only look on in awe at how professionally made those two bits of silly schlock are.

vlcsnap-2017-08-16-23h37m09s728.png

The film actually opens exactly like a Jess Franco film of the era, with a cheery version of La Bamba playing over footage of a European seaside town. The film shares actors, locations and even footage with the Eurociné/Franco film Cannibal, but Cannibal Terror lacks the eccentricity that Franco usually brings. Instead we get Alain Deruelle, here hiding behind the pseudonym A.W. Steeve, a man who clearly takes the pronunciation of Steve very seriously indeed.

vlcsnap-2017-08-16-23h33m42s177.png

The film is about three incompetent gangsters, two men and a woman who walks like a puppet with its strings cut, who are looking for a big score. After some of the worst dialogue I’ve ever heard –

‘You mind your own ass.’

‘My ass says go fuck yourself.’

– they decide to kidnap the daughter of some wealthy asshole. The lady gangster, Lina, isn’t sure until one of them says, ‘Maybe you wanna get those flippity-floppity titties lifted? That costs dough,’ which obviously changes her mind.

vlcsnap-2017-08-16-23h38m53s617.png

In a peculiarly Franco-esque touch, the kidnapping takes place offscreen and we learn that they’ve taken the girl to a hotel room. The little girl is dubbed by an adult woman, a ghastly practice that would soon reach its nightmarish apotheosis in the following year’s The House By The Cemetery. But don’t worry guys, we’ll get there. We’ll get there.

vlcsnap-2017-08-16-23h41m46s035.png

The gangsters are waiting for the fourth member to arrive, but as he is crossing the road he is hit by a car and taken to hospital. For some reason this causes the crooks to panic and flee to, err, the jungle, which seems like a bit of an overreaction.

vlcsnap-2017-08-16-23h39m28s431.png

After some nonsense with border control, our intrepid idiots find themselves in cannibal country, which looks suspiciously like rural France. In a ridiculous scene, their car breaks down and their guide goes to get some water to cool the engine with. When she is attacked by cannibals, the gangsters get back in the car and drive away.

But I thought it had broken down?

vlcsnap-2017-08-16-23h36m20s206.png

Here we finally meet the cannibals, and what a sad and sorry bunch they are. Clearly white Frenchmen with sideburns and fashionable haircuts, they look totally embarrassed to be participating in these rituals, hopping back and forth from foot to foot like they’re standing on hot coals. Then the Chief appears, his own hair peeking out from underneath his Gene Simmons fright wig. Later, the same actor appears – minus the wig – as a different character.

vlcsnap-2017-08-16-23h42m32s500.png

When the gut-munching finally begins, it’s super gross and bloody due to the use of a real pig carcass being torn open, with the poor extras grabbing offal right out and gingerly chewing on it. The problem is, like everything else in the movie, it goes on far too long.

Director Deruelle can’t seem to even master the basics of exploitation filmmaking. When the sexy Manuela is dancing and announces, ‘Let’s strip!’, he cuts to a still frame of one of the gangsters sitting with a parrot and holds it for several seconds before the scene abruptly ends.

vlcsnap-2017-08-16-23h39m42s087.png

After this, my notes completely dry up, because – and I’m honestly not exaggerating – the remaining 40 minutes of the film are people walking through the woods. First the gangsters walk, then the kidnapped girl’s parents walk, then some cannibals walk, then back to the gangsters and repeat until credits. There’s almost no dialogue, just walking, walking, walking. It’s broken up by one stunning moment where the girl’s mother mistakes a heron sitting on a tiny branch at the top of a very tall tree for her daughter, but apart from that it’s walking until the gangsters finally get caught and eaten, while the dubbers go absolutely apeshit with their ‘eating’ noises, which sound more like the cannibals are suffering from severe flatulence. And who knows, maybe they are? I’ve never eaten human flesh, maybe it’ll do that to you?

Posted in movie reviews, video nasties | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

The Video Nasties #80 – Cannibal Holocaust (1980, Ruggero Deodato)

vlcsnap-2017-08-16-23h25m44s667.png

‘Y’know, this is gonna make us famous!’

Okay, let’s get this out of the way first. Cannibal Holocaust is a repulsive, disgusting movie. It’s reprehensible, disturbing and downright nasty. It’s also probably the best film on the Nasties list.

Hear me out.

vlcsnap-2017-08-16-23h29m51s462.png

Cannibal Holocaust tells the story of a group of four documentary filmmakers who venture deep into the jungle to find a primitive tribe of cannibals never before seen by civilised man. The film opens with news footage of their disappearance and we meet Professor Munroe, the man tasked with finding out what happened to them. He finds their footage and brings it back home, with the bulk of the second half of the movie being the footage that they shot. It’s an early example of the kind of ‘found footage’ horror film popularised many years later by The Blair Witch Project and, later, Paranormal Activity and it’s ilk.

vlcsnap-2017-08-16-23h25m56s499.png

Despite being released in 1980, Cannibal Holocaust feels very much a film of the 70s, with its real-life animal torture and frequent queasy sexual assaults. It opens with a very wobbly helicopter shot of the jungle while Riz Ortolani’s extraordinary score plays, a beautiful piece that incorporates acoustic guitar, gooey synth and an orchestra. It’s totally at odds with the grimy nature of the film and acts as a wonderful counter to the graphic imagery we will soon be presented with. As mentioned, the first half of the film is in a conventional movie style, although even here the blurring of fact and fiction is apparent. The blunt editing of the talented Vincenzo Tomassi and the shaky hand-held camerawork create an almost documentary feel long before we actually get to see the footage shot by Alan Yates and his documentarians. It is this blurring that makes the film so disturbing, and therefore effective.

vlcsnap-2017-08-16-23h28m25s581.png

Now let me be the first to say that I hate animal cruelty and in no way condone its use on film. I have watched every single one of these films with my faithful companion Boris The Pug sitting next to me, and I make sure his eyes are closed when any of these scenes take place (it’s easy, he sleeps through most of them.) There are scenes in Cannibal holocaust of a muskrat being killed, a turtle being dismembered, and the deaths of a monkey and a pig. It’s repellant stuff that should never have been filmed. But filmed it was, and its use here, while disgusting, for once actually has a purpose. The film plays with the difference between real and reel life. At one point we see an old documentary supposedly shot by Yates, The Last Road To Hell (which of course uses the exact same colour and font as Cannibal Holocaust for its titles). This contains genuine Faces of Death-style footage of executions and death, but in a clever conceit we are told that this footage is faked by Yates. So here we have animals being killed for real and we are asked to believe is real, humans being killed for real and that we are subsequently told is fake, and finally humans being killed that is faked and yet we are asked to believe is real. Still with me?It’s an unbelievably tangled web that director Ruggero Deodato is trying to weave here. The use of real-life death adds a veracity to the claims of horrified audiences that the deaths of Alan Yates and his crew were real. Deodato even had to go to court in Italy when the film was released under at first obscenity charges, and later murder!

vlcsnap-2017-08-16-23h26m28s829.png

It’s a ghastly testament to the skill of all involved that the film could actually have such an effect on people. Ortolani’s score is one of the finest in the genre, particularly a hauntingly beautiful theme that plays out over the infamous impaled woman scene as well as the synth drum heavy piece that accompanies most of the horror. Robert Kerman adds some much-needed humour to the film (see his reaction to the line, ‘They just invited us to dinner’) and Carl Gabriel Yorke steals the show as the slimy Yates, who has a great way with a sly smile or a sideways glance to the camera.

vlcsnap-2017-08-16-23h30m31s202.png

But seriously guys, it’s a brutal and totally unforgettable film. The moments of horror are truly unparalleled amongst films of this age, and the shaky camerawork means that any deficiencies in the special effects are well hidden, and some of these images will linger long in your mind, whether you want them to or not.

vlcsnap-2017-08-16-23h31m22s739.png

It’s a film that disturbed me more than any other, but not just through mere shock value. People have compared Holocaust to watching a snuff movie, but that criticism is only further evidence of the immense talent and craftsmanship that went into the film. It’s a film that I would recommend to everybody and nobody, because I think it’s a masterpiece and yet I think that most people would quite simply hate it.

And at the end of the day, that’s okay.

Posted in movie reviews, video nasties | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The Video Nasties #79 – Cannibal Apocalypse (1980, Antonio Margheriti)

vlcsnap-2017-08-16-23h17m35s919.png

‘Is he a subversive, a queer, a black,

a commie or a Muslim fanatic?’

Memory can be a tricky thing. I remembered loving Cannibal Apocalypse when I first saw it many years ago and yet this time the film barely registered. Perhaps it’s because I initially went into it expecting, well, a cannibal movie and instead got a zombie action picture? Regardless, it’s a pretty well made, fairly entertaining movie on one of the bigger budgets of a Nasty that just overstays it’s welcome by about 15 minutes.

vlcsnap-2017-08-16-23h17m54s517.png

It opens, as these films so often do, promisingly enough. We are introduced to our leading man, the stoic, lantern-jawed John Saxon as Norman, leading some troops on a mission to rescue some POWs during Vietnam (which is recreated slightly more realistically than in Delirium). Saxon is always a welcome presence in a movie, from Mario Bava’s The Girl Who Knew Too Much via the Bruce Lee classic Enter The Dragon right up to Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street and here he carries the film easily on his broad shoulders.

vlcsnap-2017-08-16-23h20m43s898.png

During the rescue mission, there is an explosion and a Vietnamese woman is set on fire. She runs screaming in flames until she falls into the pit where the POWs are, whereupon they tear her clothes off, letting the camera have a leering look at her burnt breasts, before eating her.

Stop. What?

vlcsnap-2017-08-16-23h18m52s997.png

Look, I know, it may seem churlish to complain about something like this, but it’s more of an observation/question. Why did the filmmakers put that shot of the horribly burnt breasts in the film? Is it meant to be titillating? I mean, it’s not without precedent, right back as far as Blood Feast, which panned up and down the dead bodies of its naked female cast in the name of cheap thrills. It just seems weird, like they really expect someone to get turned on by a dead body, and in this case one covered in third-degree burns.

vlcsnap-2017-08-16-23h18m24s353.png

Anyway, after that strange moment we meet an actor who we shall be spending a lot of time with – John Morghen aka Giovanni Lombardo Radice. Morghen was a stage actor who appears in three of the Nasties and just missed out on a fourth when City of the Living Dead was inexplicably ignored by the DPP.

vlcsnap-2017-08-16-23h19m49s035.png

Morgen plays Charles Bukowski – yes, you read that right – one of the POWs from the start. Released from a mental hospital, he immediately bites a woman in a cinema and gets into a full-on war with a biker gang that consists entirely of overweight oafs. There’s some surprising stunt work as they chase him through a mall on motorbikes, before it turns into a pretty tiresome hostage negotiation type scene. Director Antonio Margheriti was, like many Italian directors, a veteran of all sorts of genres, and feels most at home here during the action scenes. Incidentally, the same year he made another Nasty, The Last Hunter with David Warbeck, which is a much more entertaining film than this one

vlcsnap-2017-08-16-23h21m15s655.png

The next half hour or so is pretty tough going, with very little actually happening. The bite from the cannibals seems to spread to the victim like a zombie virus, and Saxon, Morghen and a couple of other infectees go on the run from the cops. There are a couple of highlights in the last reel, starting with a totally cuckoo biker brawl between Saxon’s gang and the fat idiots from earlier, soundtracked by a throbbing Goblin-esque funk track with a bizarrely out of place saxophone solo over the top. This film definitely puts the ‘sax’ in John Saxon, you could say, if you like.

vlcsnap-2017-08-16-23h25m23s746.png

Our (anti-?)heroes end up in the sewers, where Morghen gets a truly spectacular death – he’s shot in the stomach with a shotgun, and the camera pans down from his face to the massive hole in his stomach, through which we can see the cop that shot him! It’s a phenomenally well-done effect, rather wasted in this slightly mediocre movie.

It’s by no means bad, and has a lot to recommend, it’s just that middle section drags so much that it can be a struggle to maintain interest, though it’s worth sticking with for the hilariously sentimental ending that I won’t spoil because it has to be seen to be believed.

Posted in movie reviews, video nasties | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The Video Nasties #78 – The Bogey Man (1980, Ulli Lommell)

vlcsnap-2017-08-16-23h09m51s617.png

‘By destroying the mirror, you’ve exorcised the ghost

once and for all.’

Although perhaps people didn’t realise it at the time, 1978 changed the face of horror films forever, thanks to the little movie that could, John Carpenter’s Halloween. Sure, there had been slasher movies before, notably Black Christmas in 1974, but Halloween was a massive hit and set the template by which all other slasher films would forever be judged. However, the rip-offs didn’t really hit until the success of Friday The 13th in 1980. Then the floodgates opened.

vlcsnap-2017-08-16-23h10m36s715.png

Which brings us in a roundabout way to The Bogey Man, or The Boogey Man to our American friends, one of the most blatant Halloween knock-offs. Whereas Halloween opened with a young boy murdering his sister after watching her make out with her boyfriend, here we have a young boy and his sister (see, it’s totally different!) watching their mother have sex with some creepazoid with a stocking over his head (not a flattering look).

vlcsnap-2017-08-16-23h10m16s718.png

The boy gets a knife and stabs the creep to death, but not until we’ve had a complete lift of the classic knife-wielding POV shot. Even the synth score sounds like a Carpenter reject, though it’s actually one of the best things in the film.

vlcsnap-2017-08-16-23h11m05s616.png

We meet Lacey and Willie, the kids from the start now all grown up and apparently living in the house from The Amityville Horror. Well, why rip-off one horror hit when you can rip-off two? Lacey is still haunted by that night, and through a series of unbelievable contrivances she ends up back at her childhood home, breaking a mirror and then bringing it back with her in pieces.

As you do.

vlcsnap-2017-08-16-23h13m54s678.png

Of course, by breaking the mirror she frees whatever ghosts were trapped within it who proceed to wreak mild havoc on some teenagers and cause Lacey to speak in a possessed demon voice, just like Reagan in The Exorcist, because why rip-off two horror hits when you can rip-off three?

vlcsnap-2017-08-16-23h12m41s017.png

The deaths, when they finally come around, are at least original, as they are all supernatural, which makes an absolute mockery out of the ever-present POV shots lurking behind trees and shower curtains. The nastiest, and the one that probably landed this film on the list, is a girl forcing scissors into her own throat, but not before she cuts open her top to expose her breasts.

As you do.

vlcsnap-2017-08-16-23h14m43s799.png

Later, the world’s most pathetic barbecue (look at those four tiny sausages sizzling away!) is interrupted by a screwdriver through some nerd’s mouth, which his girlfriend somehow ends up impaled on too after a car door smacks her on the butt. It’s just one of those films, guys.

vlcsnap-2017-08-16-23h16m18s180.png

There are some good shots and Suspiria-esque lighting from director Lommell, who started his career working with arthouse darling Rainer Werner Fassbinder and ended up making depressing straight to video schlock.

vlcsnap-2017-08-16-23h15m56s251.png

Also, Suzanna Love, the director’s wife, makes for an attractive and appealing heroine. The problem is that the film is just so flat. There’s no suspense, drama, tension, escalation, nothing. Everything just happens in a really boring, matter of fact way. In the climax for example – yeah, I’m gonna spoil it, try and stop me – Love is revealed to have a shard of mirror over her eye, which is possessing her. A priest slowly walks forward, bleeds a bit, takes the glass off her eye and then dies and that’s it. Hardly thrilling stuff.

Oh well, maybe the sequel will be better…

Posted in movie reviews, video nasties | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Video Nasties #77 – Anthropophagous: The Beast (1980, Joe D’Amato)

vlcsnap-2017-08-16-23h02m03s519.png

‘This is more like ghost town than anything.’

So here we are in 1980 with the most difficult-to-spell Video Nasty, Anthropophagous: The Beast, and I’m pleased to say that it gets the next phase of the Nasties off to a fairly good start.

vlcsnap-2017-08-16-23h02m59s759.png

Anthro (can we just shorten it to that please?) begins with a couple wandering through a Greek town, and immediately I had flashbacks to Island of Death, which must be some form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. They walk up and down so many flights of stairs that you begin to wonder if the town architect was MC Escher. After their exhausting journey the pair settle down on the beach, where the girl is dragged underwater and murdered and the boy gets a hatchet through the head, thankfully putting an end to whatever that weird squelchy music he was listening to was.

vlcsnap-2017-08-16-23h03m26s117.png

Then we cut to Mia Farrow’s sister Tisa coercing some random vacationers into giving her a lift to a nearly deserted island. Wait, didn’t we just see this film? You know, back when it was called Zombie Flesh-Eaters? I guess the lesson to be learned is this – never, EVER give Tisa Farrow a lift in your boat, because it’s not going to end well. Of course, the cast of cretinous dummies readily accept her and they all head off to the island, where the boat drifts off and they are stuck with a murderous cannibal picking them off one by one. Gee, thanks Tisa. Maybe just stay home next Summer?

vlcsnap-2017-08-16-23h03m39s727.png

Once they reach the island things slow down considerably, and what I mean by that is it gets pretty boring. But be patient! Our resident psychic/psychotic Carol warns the holidaymakers of ‘an evil that sends out an inhuman, diabolic power’, and you just know that’s not good news.

vlcsnap-2017-08-16-23h04m57s918.png

Sure enough, at around the halfway-mark a crazed blind girl bursts out of a barrel of blood and wildly stabs Daniel, my least favourite character, recognisable by his UCLA polo shirt (can you get a degree in douchebaggery?). This act kicks the whole film into gear, and suddenly it rises above the level of mediocrity for a pretty exciting, action-packed second half.

vlcsnap-2017-08-16-23h03m53s177.png

Joe D’Amato (real name Aristide Massaccesi) is a director who doesn’t have a great reputation due to much of his career being spent making porn. To give you an idea, here are the other films he directed in 1980 – Super Climax, Hard Sensation, Blue Erotic Climax and Erotic Nights of the Living Dead. But whenever he turned his hand to horror (see also; Absurd, Beyond the Darkness) the results were never less than interesting. Oh sure, he’ll not likely be regarded the way that Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci are, but he does have his artful moments, particularly a stunning shot where Tisa smashes a mirror in slow motion, and the whole thing falls apart except for the one piece that perfectly reflects her face. Accident or not, it’s a nice moment.

vlcsnap-2017-08-16-23h05m48s062.png

And check out the whole climax, which intercuts a ghoulish sequence in a corpse-strewn catacomb with Tisa investigating a living room full of bodies covered in sheets. These sequences make me wish D’Amato had done more horror as he’s clearly a skilled technician and also knows exactly when to cross the boundary into bad taste. Because in the last 5 minutes of the film, we get Anthro’s greatest moment, the infamous foetus-eating scene. Once upon a time, in the 1990s, this moment was broadcast on British TV as a scene from a real-life snuff movie. What can I say, maybe we were all just a little bit more stupid back then… It’s still a pretty wild moment though, with a skinned rabbit substituting for the real thing, because, y’know, it’s a movie and all make-believe.

vlcsnap-2017-08-16-23h07m12s552.png

It’s definitely the scene that got this film successfully prosecuted, although the rest of the climax doesn’t stint on the gore either, with some throat ripping, a near scalping and our friendly cannibal trying to eat his own intestines.

vlcsnap-2017-08-16-23h07m56s299.png

It’s a good start to the 80s, moving away from the gritty realism of a lot of the 70s movies into a more fantastical, grand guignol realm that is rather welcome after a decade seemingly characterised by rape, revenge and Nazis.

Posted in movie reviews, video nasties | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Interview – Cameron Roubique, author of Kill River

31590612_646608407806_8832968215547084800_n.jpg

I first became aware of Cameron Roubique last year. Someone on Twitter had posted the eye-catching cover of Kill River, with its doomed swimwear-clad teens floating into the mouth of a giant, leering skull. I had to have it, and thankfully the book was exactly what I hoped it would be; an unashamed homage to the golden age of the slasher movie. There’s a surprising dearth of books based on that particular era of horror, something Cameron seems single-handedly determined to rectify. He followed Kill River with the old-school thrills of Disco Deathtrap and Kill River 2, and there’s more to come. Hopefully much more!

Cameron was kind enough to spend some time answering my questions about his past, present and future. I hope you enjoy reading the interview, and if you do please support him by purchasing an individually hand-bound book from his Amazon page.

Follow Cameron on Twitter or Instagram and check out his websites here and here for updates.

Screen Shot 2018-05-03 at 21.57.50.png

Q. Let’s start at the beginning. What was your first exposure to slasher movies, and have you always been a horror fan?

A. I used to always see all those slasher VHS covers at video rental places when I was little, but my parents didn’t really care for slasher movies so I never got to watch them. Then as a birthday present for when I turned 8, my dad taped Child’s Play off cable TV and my family and I watched it. But I can’t really remember a time that I didn’t like horror. My dad read a lot of Stephen King and other horror books and I was always fascinated by those and anything horror. I’d flip through the TV channels and if I saw anything even slightly spooky, I had to stop and see what it was.

Q. Moving on to books, when did you discover you enjoyed reading horror?

A. I’ve always loved horror so I checked out any spooky little kids books when I was little. I remember checking out a scary picture book called The Ghost-Eye Tree a lot from the library. Then R.L. Stine came along when I was about six and I became addicted to my monthly Goosebumpsbooks. I finally read ‘Salem’s Lot at age nine, those creepy vampire kids stuck with me. Goosebumps was getting ridiculous at that point, The Blob That Ate Everyone was my jump-the-shark moment, and I pretty much only read adult horror books after that.

Q. When and why did you decide to become a writer?

A. I wrote little short stories starting around age nine, but it was never anything serious. I got away from writing and played in a pop-punk band for a while in high school. After that though, I wanted to make 80s slasher movies, Kill River was one idea I’d had since I was 17. I couldn’t really afford to make movies though, and I couldn’t raise money worth a damn either. All I had to offer were the stories in my head, so I decided to get back into writing in 2012. I had so much fun writing Kill River though, it really changed my whole outlook on books and film and storytelling in general. Filmmaking was so restrictive and tied to money, but writing Kill River was just pure storytelling freedom. I put all my creative efforts from then on into writing and I’ve never looked back.

Q. Slasher movies have traditionally been critically reviled by the mainstream. Common criticisms include paper-thin characters and the repetitive nature of the plots. How do you tackle these “problems” when writing your own slasher stories, or do you choose to embrace them?

A. Actually I like the familiar structure of slasher stories. As a writer, it allows me to focus more on the characters, and really challenges me to come up with a creative setting and killer. As an audience member, you kind of know what to expect so you can just sit back and stop trying to figure out the plot, and you can enjoy whatever interesting take the writer has come up with. In my books I always try to make characters that you sympathize with, and put them in a really fun and unusual place for the setting. I do try to stick to your basic slasher structure though so my readers—even though we’re sadly far away from the 80s now—will feel at home.

Screen Shot 2018-05-03 at 20.59.09.png

Q. Your first book Kill River had pleasing echoes of early 80s slasher movies like Sleepaway Camp and The Burning. Were there any films or books that specifically influenced you? 

A. You hit the nail on the head. Sleepaway Camp and Friday the 13th Part 2 probably had the more influence on Kill River than any other slasher movies. I really wanted it to be dripping with the whole summer camp and out-in-the-woods vibe that those two movies have. Other movies have had major influences on my other books though. Disco Deathtrap is inspired by Prom Night, Curtains, and The Burning. Kill River 2 has a more suburban feel and builds on the first book, while also being inspired by parts of Nightmare on Elm Street 2 (my favorite NOES sequel).

Q. It’s quite unusual for slasher movies to feature age-appropriate campers, probably because it eliminates the possibility of sex scenes. Often they focus on the consellors, or in the case of The Burning, teenage campers who look like they’re in their thirties (I’m thinking of you, Glazer.) So why did you decide to make the characters in Kill River so young?

A. Again, you know your slasher movies, haha. I love The Burning, but my only problems with it are all the day-for-night shots, and the kids looking as old as the counselors. I wanted the kids in Kill River to be old enough to have that rebellious attitude, but still be young enough to panic and not know what to do about the strange situation they found themselves in. Also (I don’t know this for a fact) but I think older kids more typically spend their summers working crappy job and hanging out with friends, not going to summer camp.
glazer.jpg
Glazer, the oldest high-schooler since John Travolta in Grease (The Burning, 1981)
Q. 80s nostalgia plays a big part in your books. I presume you are a child of the 1980s?

A. I was born in 1986, so technically I’m a just-barely child of the 80s, but I’m more in touch with the childhood culture of the early 90s. 90s Nickelodeon shows like The Adventures of Pete and Pete and Salute Your Shorts have also influenced my writing.

Q. The abandoned water park in Kill River is a terrific location. What made you decide to choose it?

A. I live near an amazing water park in Colorado called WaterWorld, and when I was kid I got discounted resident tickets, so as a teenager and in my early 20s, I went there a lot. It feels like a second home to me. The Ragin’ Rivers, Duelin’ Rivers, and Lazy River from the story are all basically there. On my website, I posted blogs with pictures of the rides that inspired me. When I was seventeen, I had this nightmare about another water park in Texas called Schlitterbahn where I was riding down a slide at night, and a masked killer was in a tube behind me swinging this butcher knife at me. I thought it was so scary and cool and for years I thought about it literally every day. I would listen to 80s music and imagine scenes; I would spend full days at WaterWorld and imagine more scenes, then go home and watch Sleepaway Camp and imagine even more scenes. Even now, whenever I go there, it’s kind of like visiting a theme park version of my story. My dream is to someday have WaterWorld put on kind of a Kill River themed haunted house there at the end of a season, that would be so epic.

Q. As an independent author myself, I’d like to find out more about your writing process. Do you fully outline your stories or prefer to just sit and write and see what happens?

A. I do outline quite a bit, even more so now that I have a somewhat better idea of what I’m doing. I try to keep my stories close to that classic slasher structure, but also make the fun daytime scenes in the beginning flow together nicely and have foreshadowing and significance. Writing the first half is always harder, because I don’t want those daytime scenes to drag. Once I get to the killing, it’s a lot faster, and a lot easier to stay focused, but the outline is still helpful because I’m constantly asking myself “Okay, how would the killer get from here to here?” and “Okay, what is everyone else doing while this person is getting killed?” I also write my first drafts on a typewriter and put my phone in the other room, otherwise I’m constantly getting on the internet and wasting time. Doing that gives me a chance to polish up the writing a lot more once I scan the pages into the laptop and correct them.

31531067_646608317986_8249745071595847680_n.jpg

Q. Do you listen to music while you write, and if so, what music?

A. No, I can’t listen to music while I write. If I did I’d start singing and rocking out too much.

Q. I love how you personally print and bind all of your books, as well as painting the cover art. Why did you decide to go this relatively time-consuming route?

A. I started binding the books because I wanted to keep them inexpensive for my readers. I know most people have never heard of me and any book they buy from me will be an impulse buy. I feel like more people check out books from authors they’ve never heard of if they’re not too pricey. By printing and binding my own books it costs me a fraction of what a print company, or CreateSpace print-on-demand would charge, and I can keep my prices low. My self-binding process and the low prices also help me sell a lot more books at horror conventions too. As for the cover art, I painted a little in high school and had fun. After Kill River was written, I thought, what the hell I’ll give painting a shot again. I put on 80’s music videos and just paint, it’s fun to see it come together. I never imagined so many people would respond to my cover art and be so supportive, that blows my mind.

Q. Now a question that’s very relevant to myself. You have a gorgeous pug called Vader – how do you find writing with a pug, when they constantly demand attention?

A. Haha thanks! Vader is much more attached to my wife than he is to me, so he doesn’t come around much while I’m writing. We also have a cat named Penny, she’s the one that’s attached to me and is always bugging me while I’m trying to write. We lived in this cramped one-bedroom apartment when I wrote Kill River, and Penny was right there sitting on the windowsill next to me most of the time. Now we have a house and the pug, but she still comes and bugs me while I’m writing my new books. In fact, she’s bugging me right now as I’m writing this.
Screen Shot 2018-05-03 at 21.38.25.png
Follow Vader on Instagram
Q. What’s next for Cameron Roubique – do you have any plans to branch out into other areas of horror, or perhaps even other genres? Personally, I’ll be happy if you have more slasher books planned – there’s a surprising lack of them!

A. You’re absolutely right, the world has a severe shortage of 80s slasher novels, and I am more than happy to keep the slasher party going. I try to write and release a new book every year sometime in October, and right now I’m way behind schedule but I’m gonna try my hardest to hit my deadlines for this year. Disco Deathtrap was the first in my Year of Blood series of loosely related slasher novels that all take place in 1981, the golden year of the slasher. The novel I’m currently working on is the next Year of Blood book in the series. I’ve also started working on Kill River 3 for release hopefully next year.

Q. Finally, I can’t leave you without asking for your top 5 slasher movies, or top 10 if you feel up to it!

A. That’s always the toughest question for me to answer. If I had to pick just ten I’d probably go with these in no particular order:

Friday the 13th 2 (1981, Steve Miner)

Halloween (1978, John Carpenter)

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984, Wes Craven)

A Nightmare on Elm Street part 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985, Jack Sholder)

Child’s Play 2 (1990, John Lafia)

Sleepaway Camp (1983, Robert Hiltzik)

Graduation Day (1981, Herb Freed)

The Burning (1981, Tony Maylam)

Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984, Charles E. Sellier jr)

Leprechaun 2 (1994, Rodman Flender)

 

Posted in Interview | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment