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Review: Sawney – Flesh of Man

Bluray Review

Sawney Bluray 001I had heard about this project for a while but I had no idea when it would actually get released until I saw it on Amazon’s advanced release listings. I had first heard the about the story of Sawney Bean* back when I was in school and the grisly tale of the cannibal family and their gruesome fate fascinated me and seemed perfect material for a film version, which is what the film’s director Ricky Wood Jr thought too. The story was apparently inspiration for Wes Craven’s film The Hills Have Eyes and I’ve seen Sawney Bean’s name mentioned in a few films but no-one had really attempted to make film directly adapted from the story and this version does take many liberties.

The main liberty it takes is updating the setting to the present due to budget limitations. It also seems to have been moved from the Ayrshire coast to the stunning Hebridean island of Skye. Sawney Bean (David Hayman) in this story is a taxi driver who uses his black cab to capture his victims in the cities of Scotland and takes them to his remote farmhouse and down into a disused mine running beneath the house where he and his family have fun playing with their food before they are butchered. Other family members hanging around the tunnels include a man with diminished growth and head full of lizard teeth and two boys Jake (Will Sutton) and Judd (Jean-Paul Jesstiece) who wear hooded tops to cover their deformed faces. There’s also something called Mother that even Sawney Bean is frightened of so is kept locked away and fed on the offal from their kills.

There’s a focus on one victim Rebecca (Shian Denovan) who gets into Sawney Bean’s taxi after having a row with her boyfriend at a nightclub. She is terrified, tortured and raped by Sawney Bean. This mistreament is also dealt out to an unfortunate traffic warden who tries to move Sawney Bean away from where he is parked in his taxi.

The film’s main protagonist is newspaper reporter Hamish McDonald (Samuel Feeney) who is English despite his very Scottish name. He wrote a very grisly and insensitive report of the discovery of the remains of some of Sawney Bean’s victims, including the head of his ex-girlfriend’s sister Charlotte (Eilidh Nairn) and this is the main reason the girlfriend Wendy (Elizabeth Brown) is an ex. He is an arrogant annoying drunk but he’s the only one seriously investigating the deaths. You would think the police would be on top of it but their incompetence is another story written by Hamish. The cop in charge of investigating the case Bill Munro (Gavin Mitchell) is more interested in stopping Hamish embarrassing the police.

This is certainly not a film for the squeamish but the squeamish are hardly likely to watch a film based on a mythical cannibal killer. David Hayman gives a great over-the-top performance as the bible-spouting psychopath and he has a really twisted sense of humour. The acting from the rest of cast is variable but never too bad to take me out of the film. The location shooting in Skye is just amazing and it gives the film a remote desolate feel.

Rating 6.5/10

* The story of Sawney Bean is that he and his wife produced a large clan of cannibal killers who lived in a cave in a remote part of the Ayrshire coast where they survived on killing travellers and eating them and they were supposed to be responsible for the deaths of about 1000 people. The local people pleaded with the authorities and the king (either James VI or James I depending on what version you read) led 300 men to capture the Bean clan and they were taken to Glasgow for execution. The story is almost certainly untrue with no contemporary sources at all and first appeared in the little sensationalist chapbooks in the 18th century but this hasn’t stopped people looking for the cave.

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Posted by on September 15, 2013 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: Castle Freak

DVD Review

Castle Freak DVD 001I really enjoy the films of horror director Stuart Gordon but I had never seen this film and I‘m not even sure if it ever got a release in UK before this digitally restored DVD release. It stars Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton who have both worked with Stuart Gordon on other films and was produced by Charles Band’s Full Moon studios. Although it has nudity and gore it doesn’t really have the dark humour of films like Re-Animator or From Beyond and the absence of any element of the fantastic makes it less memorable than those films.

A very old woman who looks like a homeless wino feeds some poor abused human creature she calls Giorgio (Jonathan Fuller) that she has locked up in the dungeon of her castle before viciously whipping it with a barbed cat-o-nine-tails. Then the real monster of this film returns to her bedroom and dies of a heart attack. This old woman was the Duchess D’Orsino (Helen Stirling) and we learn what sort of foul evil she has been up to through the film.

John Reilly (Jeffrey Combs) has inherited the castle of Duchess D’Orsino and he takes his wife Susan (Barbara Crampton) and daughter Rebecca (Jessica Dollarhide) to see the place no that Rebecca will see much since she is blind. They get shown to castle by the lawyer Giannetti (Massimo Sarchielli) whose sister Agnese (Elisabeth Kaza) is the castle’s housekeeper. Agnese shows them to their rooms and that is first hint we have that Susan and John are not happily married when Susan asks Agnese to prepare another room for John. That night john tries to sweet talk his wife in to sleeping together but she just can’t

John has a very restless night with a nice convenient expository nightmare which gives us an insight into the reason that relations between Susan and John are frosty. John was driving with Rebecca in the passenger seat and his young son JJ in the back and while he was distracted by JJ nearly crashes into a truck but John swerves and instead hits a tree. Rebecca ended up blinded by shards of glass in her eyes and we don’t see what happen to JJ but it certainly killed him.

John wakes to sound of crying so he gets up and puts on some clothes then wanders around the castle trying to find the source of the crying, following the sound down into the cellar. He doesn’t find the source of the sound but he does find a very well stocked wine cellar. John is alcoholic but he has been dry for a while but he feels tempted by the wine but he smashes the bottle in disgust and cuts his hand. John goes to the kitchen to clean the cut. Agnese comes in and helps him clean his cut and put a dressing on it. John asks her if she heard the sound and she sits and tells him about the Duchess. She married an American and they had a son called Giorgio but her husband left her and ran off to United States with another woman leaving D’Orsino and their son behind. The son died mysteriously and Agnese mentions the suspicion that D’Orsino murdered him to get back at her husband. The Duchess never left the castle since that day until she died and local people say they hear the sound of child crying and that the castle is haunted.

No-one knows anything about the poor forgotten creature Giorgio chained up in the dungeon starving. I don’t know how long it has been since the Duchess died but since she never gave him much to eat hunger would never be far away. Clearly Giorgio did not die but has been imprisoned and physically abused by his mother for forty years but we don’t get to see the full effects of her abuse yet.

John and Rebecca decide to explore the castle a bit and Susan warns John to keep an eye on Rebecca. They pass through a nursery before they find Duchess D’Orsino’s bedroom. John finds an old photo album and while he looks through it Rebecca goes after a cat she finds stuck in a room. She follows it down to the dungeon where she falls and scrapes herself on the knee. Rebecca hears a moaning and she goes to the cell and calls out but Giorgio is too weak to respond. Rebecca goes back upstairs and Giorgio manages get his hands on the poor cat and drags it back into the cell.

When Rebecca gets upstairs Susan finds her and scolds her for wandering off which she blames on John for not watching but Rebecca protest that she has to allowed to learn how to cope with being blind without her mother fussing over her. She tries to tell Susan about hearing someone downstairs but Susan brushes it off as nothing but the strange noises the castle makes because she doesn’t think it’s possible.

In his cell Giorgio feeds on the cat and that gives him more energy. Seeing Rebecca at the grille of the cell door has given him a reason to get free. The manacles are joined by a chain fixed to the wall. He chews off his thumb and takes the manacle off his left hand which lets him free of the wall. He batters at the cell door and soon he breaks through and he’s free. Strangely no-one heard any of this. Giorgio limps up stairs on his twisted limbs until he comes to a mirror in a hallway. Disgusted by his hideous appearance he smashes the mirror and runs off.

The Reillys were in the kitchen having dinner when they hear the mirror break and rush out to investigate. They have no idea what caused the mirror to break but John suggests that old mirrors may break anytime due to the wood warping which sounds good enough for him but Rebecca suggests that it smashed because someone broke it. She’s frustrated that her parents don’t take her seriously.

That night while Rebecca is sleeping in her bed Giorgio creeps into her room. He pulls back her covers to look at her and he almost touches her hair. Suddenly Rebecca wakes up startled and Giorgio cowers away. She senses he is there asks who it is, getting more and more panicked by the lack of response. She screams and Giorgio panics, grabs a blanket from her bed and runs off. Susan and John rush in to find out what’s wrong. Rebecca tells them someone was in her room and Susan doesn’t believe her but John decides to investigate and goes into the hall where he hears the sound of the chains still manacled to Giorgio’s right wrist. He looks around a room full of covered furniture but doesn’t see Giorgio hiding plain sight as a piece of covered furniture.

John goes down the dungeon and has a look in the empty cell which should have been stinking from forty years of crap and piss and absolute proof that someone had been imprisoned in there, never mind the dead cat he fails to see. He looks around and finds the family crypt and the marker for Giorgio with a picture of him as a child and he looks exactly like John’s son JJ. This gets John very weepy. Giorgio has followed him down and is hiding and watching John mourning his son.

Next day John calls the police and the search the castle but don’t find anything which is strange when you remember that cell with dead cat, the heap of shit and stench of piss that shows this search was a very slap dash job. The police sergeant Forte (Luca Zingaretti) tells John that there is no way he can have the whole castle searched because the place is huge and he‘s not got the manpower. He doesn’t think there is anyone and doesn’t believe Rebecca. This gets John ranting a bit and that does nothing to convince the police to stay.

Rebecca is upset about being dismissed yet again and is tired since she didn’t get much sleep so she goes to bed. John wants to show Susan the picture of Giorgio but when they get down there the picture is gone but John swears it was identical to JJ. He talks about how he felt a presence like JJ was here with him. This leads to tears and hugs which John tries to take too far and then there are angry accusations and John storms off up to the roof where he thinks about jumping off and killing himself.

At the local bar John has gone back to drinking and sits all day getting incredibly drunk. In the evening the bar gets busier. A woman Sylvana () is working as a prostitute and she chats up John who orders her a drink but clumsily spills it. The barman tries to explain he’s had enough to drink and has to leave and Forte explains it to him in English and tells him to go back to his family, making it really obvious to Sylvana. Forte has an angry exchange in Italian with Sylvana who leaves with John.

John takes Sylvana back to the castle and down to the wine cellar and he opens up a bottle of wine. This is followed by quick sex up against a wall which is being watched by Giorgio who is getting very excited. Unbelievably John didn’t realise she was a prostitute until she asks for money. She gets her money and leaves while John passes out on the floor.

On her way out she walks through the nursery and Giorgio throws a blanket over head and grabs her. This leads to the scene that probably gave this film most trouble with the censors. Giorgio takes Sylvana to the cell where he tries to copy what John did but gets it very wrong. He puts the manacle on her wrist so she can’t get away. First we see that his penis has been cut off long ago so he can’t have sex and while John had gently nuzzled on her nipples Giorgio eats them off.

Next morning Forte comes to the door of the castle and wants to talk to John but Susan stays because she insists they don’t have secrets. Forte wants to know what happened to Sylvana since she didn’t go home after she went off with John. John insists that she left but Forte wants to take a look and John gets defensive since Forte had refused to search the castle the day before. The situation is very different and Forte asks if John has something to hide. He doesn’t let him and closes the door. Now John has to face Susan who very angry because he got drunk picked a woman and brought her back the castle and had sex with her while Susan and Rebecca were sleeping upstairs.

John goes to talk to Gianetti in a cafe who tells them that the police have no evidence so they can’t arrest him. Gianetti gets a phone call from Agnese who has found Sylvana’s handbag in one of the rooms. Gianetti offers to keep hold of the handbag until Sylvana shows up or the police find out what really happened to her. Of course he wants money for this and John calls him a bastard. Gianetti tells him the rest of his family history. His mother was the sister of Duchess D’Orsino and his father was her husband. They fled to America to get away from her but D’Orsino would never give him a divorce so his parents could never legally get married and with a smug grin on his face points out that means John is in fact the bastard.

At the castle Susan is getting Rebecca ready to leave. Rebecca doesn’t want to leave thinking that John is in trouble they should be with him but Susan has had enough of his drinking causing them pain.

Agnese has the handbag is taking it to Gianetti and she hears a scream from the dungeon and as she makes her way down there are more screams and cries. When she gets close she calls out and Giorgio takes his manacle off Sylvana’s hands and hides. Agnese come to the cell and finds Sylvana who is just barely alive. Agnes tries to take care of Sylvana but Giorgio comes up behind he her and smashes her head in with his chain.

Susan has the car packed and she’s about to leave with Rebecca. John comes running up from his meeting with Gianetti and tries to stop her leaving. He thinks the police are going to arrest him and if Susan leaves that will make him look guilty. Susan gets in the car and drives making a remark about John making himself a whipping boy. This remark reminds John of the whip and he suddenly realise what is going on and that Rebecca was right and he can prove it. He finds a tool room and picks up a spade. He goes down to the crypt and start smashing open Giorgio’s tomb

Outside before Susan gets to the bottom of the drive Forte arrives with Gianetti and a couple of cops to arrest John. Forte insists that Rebecca and Susan will have to stay in D’Orsino until they give their statements to the police. Inside there’s a loud noise of John smashing open the tomb. They go down to the dungeon with Susan and John has broken the tomb open. He pulls out the coffin and smashes it open and as he suspected it is empty except for rocks. He tries to convince them that Giorgio is not dead but has been kept alive by D’Orsino so she could torture him. Everyone thinks he’s crazy and John gets cuffed.

As they are about to leave with John Forte sees the bodies of Sylvana and Agnese in the cell but there’s no sign of Giorgio (apart from the stench of urine and pile of shit). Forte and Gianetti think John killed them but John tries to convince them of his innocence, pleading desperately with Susan as he gets dragged off to the police station. Forte leaves a couple of cops to watch Rebecca and Susan then he leaves with john and Gianetti.

Susan asks one of the cops if he can get them some water and he heads off to the kitchen. He gets the water but sees soot falling of the chimney over the stove. He goes to investigate and get dragged up into the chimney by Giorgio and killed.

At the police station John is being questioned by Forte who only wants John to tell him why he killed Sylvana and Agnese and doesn’t want to hear John’s story. John gets fed up with not being listened to and he gives an insensitive reply that cause Forte to flip out and attack him, forcing the other cop present to intervene and drag him off. Now he’s alone he decides to escape. He finds the truncheon Forte used on him. He hears forte coming back and when he comes in he smacks him over the head with the truncheon and knocks him then he climbs out a window in the corridor.

Susan asks the other cop about the water and he goes to look for the first cop. He sees a figure lying on the floor and when he approaches the figure it jumps at him and it’s Giorgio and he attacks him, biting his face and killing him. In Rebecca’s room Rebecca has a headache and Susan wants to give her painkillers but they have no water. She goes to see what’s happened to the cops and Giorgio reaches out from behind a door and grabs her head smacking it on the wall and knocking her out.

Giorgio goes into Rebecca’s room where she is getting undressed for bed. When he helps her take her blouse off Rebecca thinks he’s her mother but she rapidly learns that not true. He carries her off to his cell. Susan recovers and goes after him, stopping at the kitchen to pick up a knife.

In the cell puts the manacle and he put his manacle on her hands. He tries to communicate with her but he’s got no tongue and so can’t speak. He tries showing her the photograph of himself as a child but is frustrated to discover that Rebecca is blind. He realises he doesn’t have to hide his face and takes off the sheet he has covering his face and the sight of his abused face is revolting and a sign of how evil D’Orsino was. Giorgio paws at Rebecca and starts kissing her ear and neck while Rebecca screams. Susan comes into the cell and orders Giorgio to leave Rebecca alone. She offers herself in to Giorgio in her daughter’s place and unbuttons her shirt. Giorgio falls for it and comes toward her but when he’s in reach Susan sticks the knife in his back.

While Giorgio is doubled-up in pan and distracted Susan frees Rebecca from the manacle and leads her out upstairs. Giorgio isn’t very far behind them so Susan hides them in the large wardrobe in Duchess D’Orsino’s bedroom. When Giorgio comes into the room he knows the place and his memories are not happy. He finds the cat’ o’ nine tails and starts swing it round and once he gets the feel of it hi starts smashing things with it. He whips the wardrobe and wrecks it but he doesn’t discover Susan and Rebecca cowering at the bottom. He leaves to continue his search and they climb out of the wardrobe. Susan leads Rebecca down a corridor but Rebecca knocks over a vase and Giorgio spots them.

Susan leads Rebecca further up and they come to the roof and are trapped. Giorgio catches up and makes his way towards them. That’s when John arrive just in time and calls Giorgio’s name. They struggle and run about on the roof but Giorgio manages to beat John down. He starts towards Rebecca and Susan but his chain is dragging behind him and John grabs it and puts the other manacle on his wrist. He stands up and climbs on the battlement. John leaps off onto the courtyard below dragging Giorgio behind him. Giorgio is killed right away but John stays alive long enough to tell Rebecca and Susan that he loves them

Rating 7.5/10 

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Posted by on February 23, 2013 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: Elfie Hopkins

This film was a blind buy at the local HMV because I had heard nothing about it. The cover hints at a humorous dark comedy and although the film has a sense of humour it is actually more dramatic than I expected.It had some of the feel of a cosy British detective drama but it ups the stake quite a bit towards the end.

The title character Elfie Hopkins (Jaime Winstone) is an aspiring detective who seems to play the role of a detective to cope with her feelings about losing her mother in a tragic accident that she blames herself for. When a new family move in next door she takes an interest in them, concludes that they are up to something and starts investigating them. Or at least she gets her best friend Parker (Aneurin Barnard) to do it. Parker is obsessed with Elfie and willing to do anything for her.

The new neighbours, the Gammons are very friendly and invite all their neighbours round for drinks. Mr Gammon (Rupert Evans) works as a travel agent who specialises in remote exotic holidays and they who have travelled across the world themselves before choosing to settle in their village with his wife (Kate Magowan) and children. When drink causes old rivalries to erupt between two of the men Mr Gammon uses his easy charm to put an end to it and even cynical Elfie starts to warm to him. She still send Parker to case out the house upstairs where he meets their scary over-the-top daughter Ruby Gammon (Gwyneth Keyworth) who takes a liking to Parker. There’s also the creepy son Elliot (Will Payne) who dresses in black and is obsessed with guns, knives and hunting

Elfie and Parker talk to the local butcher Mr Bryn (Ray Winstone) who tells them that Mr Gammon asked him to sharpen his knives which are much more ornate and expensive than his own. This only counts as slightly strange so he tells them a creepy and pointless story about a killer stag he had to kill one time. It is the most gratuitous padding of a part I’ve ever seen.

Parker starts out finding more about the Gammons but Elfie takes the more direct approach of looking in their window. Mr Gammon discovers her but he’s nice and patient and even shows her some yoga. Elfie starts thinking he’s the coolest person in the village. Parker has discovered that everywhere that the family stayed has seen a number of mysterious disappearances. Elfie has always enjoyed playing the detective but she and Parker may find themselves in over their heads when they discover the Gammons’ grisly secret.

This film has the look of a British detective show set in the quiet countryside but this has a lot more violence, death and gore. I thought that Elfie’s quirkiness would get annoying but they sort of  tried to justify it and the character goes though some growth through the film. The acting is pretty average for the most part but Rupert Evans is pretty good as the charming Mr Gammon. It doesn’t have big budget but the film-makers make the most of what they had. I did like the film and if you like low-budget independent films you might enjoy it too.

Rating 6.5/10

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Posted by on September 8, 2012 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review:Ravenous

This seems to be a film that a lot people come across by accident and I was no different. It really is an under-appreciated gem of a film with a story that is refreshingly different from most films in the horror genre. It has a great cast especially Jeffrey Jones, Guy Pearce and Robert Carlyle. The bleak mountain location looks both beautiful and deadly and really plays a vital role in the film giving a genuine sense of total isolation.

Captain John Boyd (Guy Pearce) is a decorated “hero” of the Mexican-American War under very dubious circumstances where his cowardice in battle allowed him to infiltrate enemy lines and take out an entire fort. General Slauson (John Spencer) tells him straight that his choice was to either shoot him or give him a medal and PR demands a medal. But he also wants Boyd out of the way so he has him posted to Fort Spencer high up in the western Sierra Nevada Mountains in California.

In charge of the fort is Colonel Hart (Jeffrey Jones) and under him is the constantly drunk Major Knox (Stephen Spinella) who is the closest they have to a surgeon and Hart warns Boyd that it would be better to not get sick than rely on Knox. The other men are Private Toffler (Jeremy Davies) who is nervous and devoutly religious, Private Cleaves (David Arquette) who is constantly stoned on marijuana and peyote and Private Reich (Neal McDonough) who is the only person at the Fort vaguely like a real soldier, though he is a bit intense and humourless and he takes an instant strong dislike to Boyd. There are also two Native Americans at the Fort: Martha (Sheila Tousey) who seldom speaks and her brother George (Joseph Runningfox) who doesn’t speak much English.

Next day Hart sends Cleaves off with Martha to get supplies. That night after Knox has drunk himself into a stupor Hart nicks his drink and he sits down with Boyd for a talk and Boyd tells him about how he got his medal. Boyd had pretended to be dead even to the point of being buried in a large heap of bodies near the Mexican fort. Blood from the body on top of him went in his mouth and down his throat. This changed him and gave a feeling of strength which he used to take on the Mexicans by surprise.

While they are talking Boyd sees a figure out of the window. They find a man (Robert Carlyle) unconscious outside and they bathe him and leave Toffler to watch over him. When he recovers he tells them his name is Colquhoun and he was part of a party of six who were travelling west across the mountains guided by a man called Colonel Ives. Ives got them lost as winter snowstorms came and they were forced to take shelter in a cave. Soon they were trapped and first had to eat all their livestock. Then they fed on the body of a man who died from starvation. Even more time passed and Ives killed another man to eat and Colquhoun claims he left the cave at the point and wandered lost until he found the Fort.

After they have heard Colquhoun’s story Hart tells them that they have to go to cave to check it out in case there is anyone left alive. Next morning Hart, Boyd, Reich, George and Toffler all get ready for the long trek up there and a surprisingly fit Colquhoun joins them, willing to show them the way to the cave. George is very agitated and he shows Boyd and Hart a picture on an animal skin of a Wendigo and tells them the legend of how if a man feeds on another man he possesses his spirit and it gives him strength, but it also gives him a hunger for more human flesh. Reich ridicules this story but George brings out another skin with a picture of Jesus, pointing out that during a Christian Mass they eat the body of Christ.

During the very long walk to the cave Boyd talks to Colquhoun, asking him about how he felt after eating human flesh and Colquhoun admits to feeling a strange strength but he’s interested in how Boyd know seems to know about it. Further on Toffler gets excited about a bone he’s found but when he tries to pick it up the clumsy idiot falls down a hill and ends up with a large wound in his abdomen. Reich patches him up and they make camp for the night. Their rest is disturbed by Toffler’s screams when he wakes up and finds Colquhoun licking his bloody wound. Colquhoun tries to claim he was asleep and having a nightmare but that hardly reassures anyone so he demands that they tie him up. The next day they get to the cave and I won’t say what they find there but soon the rescue mission becomes a fight for survival.

I really enjoyed this film and I think it’s a pity that it isn’t better known outside of fans of the horror genre. It doesn’t rely on special effects but instead the story is driven by the characters which are really brought to life by an excellent cast. The story itself feels pretty fresh and I was never too certain where it was going to go but I‘m pretty satisfied with the direction it took. I also really liked the folksy feel to the music, written by composer Michael Nyman and Damon Albarn of Blur, which at times gives a light tone to some fairly dark scenes but at other times is appropriately moody and creepy, all performed on traditional instruments such as banjo and accordion, fitting in perfectly with the film’s period and setting. There is some gore which is unavoidable in a film about cannibalism but it’s never too gratuitous. If you haven’t seen this film then I highly recommend it

Rating 8.7/10

 
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Posted by on August 23, 2012 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: The People Under The Stairs

This film is a pretty entertaining horror film from the 90s that is a bit different. It is dIrected by Wes Craven and while not among his best films I always had fun watching it.

The hero of this film is 13-year-old Fool (Brandon Quintin Adams) and it’s his birthday.To celebrate his sister Ruby (Kelly Jo Minter) reads his future in her Tarot cards and warns him that he faces a trial. Fool lives in the ghetto with his mother and she is very sick with untreated cancer. One of Ruby’s friends Leroy (Ving Rhames) talks to Fool about how much crap his family are in, including telling him that they are going to be evicted for not paying their rent on time and that his mother’s cancer is treatable but because they don’t have any money she is dying.

This set-up is just to soften Fool up to so that Leroy can convince him to help him out robbing their landlords. Leroy and his pal Spenser (Jeremy Roberts) have worked that the landlords for lots of houses in the ghetto are the same people who also run the pawn shops. They know where they live and they have heard rumours that the owners keep a collection of valuable rare gold coins in their house and this is what Spenser and Leroy want to steal. They want to find out how secure the house is and that’s where Fool comes in. They get him to dress as a Boy Scout trying to sell cookies and to case out the place. While Fool is trying the doors and having a look around the woman Mommy Robeson (Wendy Robie) comes out wanting to know what he’s after. She doesn’t fall for Fool’s Boy Scout routine and Fool fails to trick his way into the house by asking to use her toilet. The Robeson’s daughter Alice (A.J. Langer) was watching Fool from an upstairs window.

Spenser decides to try himself by dressing as a gas company engineer and he manages to get inside the house. Leroy and Fool wait in the van for a signal from Spenser but as the time goes on then Mommy gets in her car and drives off. Leroy gets worried that Spenser may be trying to get the gold for himself. Leroy breaks into the house with a crowbar taking the reluctant Fool with him. Getting into the house seems fairly easy until they discover the place is guarded by a large Rottweiler but they manage to trap it in the utility room. Leroy wants to go upstairs and look for the gold but Fool doesn’t so he stays downstairs in case Mommy comes back.

Fool hears a noise and goes down to the cellar and finds Spenser lying dead on the floor. He also sees strange figures moving about behind a crude partition. They grab Spensrs body and poullit towards the [partition but Fool grabs him back and sees that they hve been chwing off the flesh on Spenser’s hand. Fool freaks runs up the stairs and finds Leroy lying with his  headstuck in a heating vent. Fool thinks the worst but Leroy is alive and was looking in there because he heard noises in the walls.

Mommy comes back and she has Daddy (Everett McGill) with her. They spot Spenser’s van and know something is up and when they find the dog in the utility room they know someone is in the house but they are stuck outside the metal security door. Daddy beats at the base of the door and manages to bend the metal (It looked like solid steel but I guess it was just aluminium or something) and let the dog in. The dog attacks them and chases them around the house. Fool runs for the front door but when he touches the handle he is knocked out by a powerful electric shock. When he recovers the dog has a firm grip on Leroy’s arm. Fool has a really stupid idea and grabs Leroy’s other hand and pulls him towards the door. He grabs the handle and the three of them get shocked but Leroy and Fool quickly recover and get away upstairs while the dog lies whimpering and twitching.

Daddy and Mommy get into the house and Mommy goes to take of her dog while Daddy gets mad and gets armed with his shotgun. He comes after them and spots Leroy. Leroy tells Fool to get away but Daddy thinks Leroy was talking to him and gloats as he shoots him dead. Fool hides in a cupboard but freaks out when a skinny figure with scary hair tries to grab him and he runs out and hides in the corridor. The police arrived outside and want to know about the van outside. Mommy tells them it’s not theirs and spots the Boy Scout uniform in the back. She realises that Fool was with the thieves and tells daddy to find him. Fool spots a rag doll tied to string. Some tugs the string and pulls the doll into a heating vent. Daddy is getting closer to finding Fool so he decides to follow the doll through the gaps between the walls until he comes out of the vent in different run-down part of the house and meets Alice

Alice tells Fool about Mommy and Daddy and how they keep looking for the perfect child but all the bad boys did or said something wrong and had to have their tongues cut out and get locked away in the cellar. One boy Roach  (Sean Whalen) has escaped the cellar and is living in the walls where Daddy can’t get him but no-one has got out of the house. This is the boy who tried to save Fool earlier but Fool ran away. Plenty of others have got in but none of them left and Alice shows Fool the dolls she has made to remember the victims that the Robesons fed to The people under the stairs. Daddy has put on a gimp suit (Seriously!) and is chasing round the house looking for Fool and Roach and firing his gun at the noises in the walls but Roach leads Fool to safety. When Fool goes back to get Alice to get her out of the house Daddy catches them. When Roach tries to get away Daddy shoots him.

Daddy chains Fool in the cellar and then cuts up Leroy’s body, tossing bits of meat at the boys behind the partition  and eating some of the meat himself. Daddy leaves Fool there but he gets rescued by the critically injured Roach who hides him in the furnace and gives him several gold coins and a written note asking him to take care of Alice. Fool agrees and Roach dies after showing him the way up to through the house to the attic up the chimney. Fool gets to Alice and they escape into the walls but Daddy sends the dog after them. Fool struggles with the dog while Daddy stabs at the wall with a bayonet. Fool manages to get the dog against the wall and Daddy stabs the wall killing it. Daddy thinks he killed the boy but when Mommy insists on seeing the body they realise it’s the dog he’s killed. Fool and Alice get up to the attic where they find the only window not secured because it’s a sheer drop two floors down. Fool remembers that there’s a pond right under it so it should be okay to jump but. Alice is terrified and won’t go. Just then Daddy arrives and Fool makes the jump alone, promising Alice he’ll be back for her. He lands in the pond and gets clean away.

Fool tells Ruby and his grandfather about what happened. Grandfather tells them that the Robesons are descendants of morticians who procreated by incest until ending in the present pair of psychotic freaks who are brother and sister, not husband and wife. They don’t have any children, the kidnapped all their children as babies. Grandfather assures Fool that the gold coins are enough to pay their rent and for Fool’s mother to get her operation. Fool is determined to go back and rescue Alice so he comes up with a plan with his family.

Back in the crazy house Mommy throws Alice on the blood covered floor and makes her clean it up. Then because she got blood on her dress Mommy forces Alice into a bath full of scalding hot water. Outside Fool goes to a payphone and calls the police to report the Robesons for child abuse. This results in loads of police as well as child protection people all over the house but the Robesons have everything hidden away and Mommy serves coffee and cakes to police while they chat about the how nasty the neighbourhood is.

The police leave and right away Mommy and Daddy realise anybody could have got into the house while the police were there. They are right because Fool is hiding inside the house. They catch him but he escapes into the chimney and climbs up to the attic where Alice is tied to a metal loop fixed into the chimney. Fool tells Alice that the Robesons are not her parents and this persuades her that she needs to leave. Alice warns him that Daddy drained the pond and blocked up the ducts and rigged them with explosives. Fool frees Alice but Daddy comes up so Alice pretends to still be tied up.

Fool tries to ambush Daddy but gets caught. He manages to get away when Ruby and the rest of the ghetto appear at the door and distract Mommy. Fool then goes down to the cellar and opens the partition to free the boys under the stairs. They show him a vault full of money and gold that the Robesons have squirreled away. It is also full of explosives, which is handy.

Alice gets caught by Mommy but she stabs Mommy with a kitchen knife and the boys burst through the stairs and kill her. Daddy goes down to get Fool in the vault but Fool has wired up the explosives. He gives a Daddy a chance but he’s just a mad dog and Fool detonates the explosive and the Vault and goes kablooey and Daddy gets blasted through a wall and into the sewer dead. The money gets grabbed by everyone and the boys from the under the stairs escape into the night.

This urban fairy tale is a very entertaining films and the action is almost constant. The Robesons are a really over-the-top pair of villains but while Daddy is a psychoidiot in a gimp suit Mommy is just a downright evil bitch. I remember that the actors played a very similar married couple in Twin Peaks but not quite so crazy. There is very little graphic gore despite the film being about cannibals under the stairs. I always have fun watching this film

Rating 7.5/10

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Posted by on March 20, 2012 in Entertainment, Film

 

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