A precursor to “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” Gary Sherman’s European based cannibal thriller is a ghoulish and often eerie bit of horror about a monster lurking within the tubes of London. Set amidst a busy and unsuspecting city, director Gary Sherman makes amazing use of the abandoned tunnels and corridors of London’s underground between Russell Square and Holborn. Sherman concocts a veritable lair for a clan of Victorian cannibals, the last of which is struggling to keep his pregnant wife alive. Sherman is great about setting the tone for his grisly little tale, constantly showing the radical worlds that lurk above and beneath local London subways.
Wes Craven’s survival horror film is a bit rough around the edges in terms of editing and acting, but that’s also why it’s so stark and creepy. It’s a gritty and grimy film much like “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and its tone lends it something of a semi-documentary aesthetic. Everything, right down to the final shot feels so probable and possible of happening in this universe. It’s the destruction of the nuclear family by the ultimate clan of what society would normally deem the antithesis of the traditional family. Not to mention it’s the society cannibalizing one another right down to the very last man. I initially didn’t enjoy “The Hills Have Eyes” when I saw it a decade ago, but watching it again has allowed me to really enjoy what Craven intended and how soaked in dread and violence it is.
Two brothers on the run come afoul of one group after the other until they reach a seemingly abandoned desert village. There they meet a young woman who helps them and meet with a family of crazy cannibals. Written by Chris von Hoffman and Aria Emory, based on a story by von Hoffman who also directed, Drifter is a film about survival in the desert post apocalypse that shows every character but one as bad people. The “bad guys”, the cannibalistic family unit, are truly bad, while the brothers come off as being bad people out of necessity and desperation. Only one character seems mostly good but also a victim of some weird form of Standahl Syndrome. She’s the one who attempts to help the brothers before things really go to shit for them.
A group of students heads to the island cabin one of the girl’s parents just bought. Once there, they party like they used to, drinking and partaking in recreational drugs. Meanwhile, in a medical facility that looks more like a prison, tests are bring run on unwilling participants. Soon it becomes clear that not all is at is seems when the students start attacking each other.
Sid Zanforlin’s short horror comedy is a fantastic bit of gruesome, grue, and slapstick comedy that will definitely strike a nerve with folks that like HG Lewis. I am shocked how much Zanforlin is able to squeeze in to in only seven minutes in length. And considering this is a proof of concept for a potential feature film, I think Zanforlin has enough material for a potentially bonkers splatter horror comedy down the road. Filled with amazing special effects by Justin Tripp, Zanforlin centers his film on two young men traveling to meet their family who stop alongside the road.
If you ever wondered what “The Hills Have Eyes” would look like remade in to a cheap C grade Western, look no further than “Bone Tomahawk.” It’s hard to believe such a rank amateurish and awful film could attract a cast like Patrick Wilson, and Kurt Russell but here we are watching two genuinely excellent performers slumming it in a movie fashioned around sets that look as if they were stolen from an off Broadway period play. “Bone Tomahawk” fashions itself a horror western, but I’d be hard pressed to brand it horror. I’d be hard pressed to brand it a movie, to be honest.
You’d assume ten years in to one’s career that a filmmaker would begin to mature as a storyteller. But here we are in 2015, and Eli Roth is still telling the same story. A bunch of inept Americans go in to a foreign country and get brutally massacred. It’s the same xenophobic, sophomoric, silly slop that Roth’s been feeding audiences since “Hostel,” and he doesn’t seem intent on changing the formula any time soon. Roth at heart is still a fan boy stealing from his favorite horror movies, while directing tonally uneven and ridiculous schlock with the intent to shock first and foremost. Really, the intent is to shock and nothing else.
I really wanted to love “Gravy.” In fact during some rare moments it manages to win me over, especially with the way it uses its array of character actors to great effect. “Gravy” sadly falls under the weight of its own self satisfaction, eliciting a ton of flat improv, lame ad libbing, unresolved sub-plots, and a climax that goes nowhere very fast. We follow our heroine for ninety minutes all for absolutely zero pay off. Did Roday and co. run out of money or did they run out of ideas?