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Banshee Chapter

DVD Pile

banshee chapter 001I knew nothing about this film before I watched it but this turned out to be a creepy sort of found footage film with a story that really drew me in with its mixture of real events and the fictionalised events of the film. I say sort of found footage because while it’s all filmed using handheld cameras there is no-one obviously recording it and the camera operator is never acknowledged. It didn’t really matter because I was too busy getting into the story by the time that became obvious.

The film is supposed to be a record of the researches of Anne Roland (Katia Winter) a young journalist who is investigating the disappearance of her close friend James Hirsch (Michael McMillian), a writer she met when they were students at college together. James recorded his experience of taking a drug developed by researchers from the DMT used in the MK Ultra scandal but after that he seems to have disappeared and not long after that the guy who was filming vanished too. The authorities investigated but they came up with nothing so Anne is determined to find answers

Anne searches James’s house and find a box with a video cassette and letter signed “from your friends in Colorado,” and this is the path she follows in her investigation. She tells her friend/ boss Olivia (Vivian Nesbitt) at work about everything and she puts Anne on to  the signature being the title of a book by a burned out writer called Thomas Blackburn (Ted Levine) who seems to be based-on people like William Burroughs or Hunter S Thomson. The video turns out to be a recording of experiments on human volunteers with the modified DMT that James took.

On James’s computer is the video they made of James taking drug and there is a sound on the video that Anne can’t identify so she goes to see an expert who identifies it as a number station. These radio stations have been around since at least the Second World War and consist of a monotone voice reading out a series of numbers preceded by a musical jingle that sounds like ice cream van chimes. No-one admits to operating these stations so obviously they have become incorporated into conspiracy myths. The expert guy gives her a shortwave radio set and tells her where she needs to go to pick the station. he gets a bit cagier when Anne moves on to the subject of his work as a decoder for NSA

Anne tricks her way into Thomas Blackburn’s house and is introduced to Callie (Jenny Gabrielle), a friend of Thomas who shares his interest experimental pharmacology and is preparing her own recipe of the modified DMT. The freakishness starts not long after that with hints of Lovecraftian goings on and something seems to coming for them, signalled by the chimes of the numbers station. With Thomas Anne has to track down the source of the transmissions.

This was more interesting than the usual fake documentary style films and though it takes it time building up an atmosphere the climax itself is genuinely tense and creepy. The small cast is excellent and I thought the film made good use of the found footage in the film to lend credence to the story. This is also helped by use of the real scandal of the MK Ultra experiments and the ongoing mystery of the numbers stations. I think it’s an interesting film and I also like the soundtrack which is a bonus.

Rating 7.0/10

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Posted by on March 28, 2014 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: The Violent Kind

I had never heard of the film so I went into it blind, which is probably the best way to see this film so I’ll try hard to avoid any spoilers.This film features some modern bikers up against something that’s difficult to explain even after watching it. The film is a strange of blend of influences like Blackboard Jungle and 70s exploitation films with just a little hint of something demonic

Cody (Cory Knauf), Q (Bret Roberts and Elroy (Nick Tagas) are members of a biker-gang ,drug-dealing violent and just not very pleasant. They go to Cody’s mother’s old house where she is celebrating her 50th birthday in typically rowdy biker-gang fashion with lots of booze, gambling, strippers and fights. Cory is not very happy to see his ex-girlfriend Michelle (Tiffany Shepis) at the party with her new boyfriend Dave (Terry Wayne). Cody’s mother has to leave the party early with his uncle who has an oxygen mask. The party keeps going but Cody drifts outside where he gets talking to Michelle’s little sister Megan (Christina McDowell) who always liked him and wrote him letters anonymously while he was in prison.

As the night goes on all the bikers leave until Cody and his two friends are left along with Q’s girlfriend Shade (Taylor Cole) and Megan who has discovered that Michelle has already driven off with Dave and she has no transport into town about 30 miles away. Then Michelle comes back to the house covered in blood and injured and they find Dave lying dead in the car just down the road. They take Michelle into a bedroom and Megan tries to clean her up. Q tries to get his car working to get her to a hospital but even though the engine is fine it’s just not working.

The film looks like its going to be them up against some supernatural evil hiding the woods but things take a sharp for the turn for the strange when Michelle goes crazy and nearly rips Elroy’s face off and a violent gang of rockabillys terrorise them to relieve their boredom. This gang are led by Vernon (Joe Egender) who never shuts up then there’s Jazz (Joseph McKelheer) in his teddy boy outfit who likes his flick-knife and dancing, Murderball (Samuel Child) who never speaks and prefers his fists and listening to insanity on his headphones and two women call Trixie (Mackenzie Firgens) and Pussywagon (Ilea Matthews).

As I said above this film is a very strange blend and it may take another viewing to see if I can figure out if I liked it. It has a gritty  depressing realist portrayal of the bikers and the over-the-top violent campy madness of the rockabilly gang and that really is not all. It is difficult to hint at the final reveal without spoiling it but I think it will lead to very mixed reactions. I thought it was quite a bold film and even if its not entirely successful it certainly is interesting.

Rating 6.5/10

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Posted by on March 15, 2012 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: The Last Lovecraft – Relic of Cthulhu

The Cult of Cthulhu are searching for part of a relic which is the key that will raise their master from his watery tomb and free him to rule the Earth. The Council of Cthulhu possess the other half of the relic and to stop the cult they send Professor Lake (Edmund Lupinski) of Miskatonic University to take the relic to the last descendant of H. P. Lovecraft and prevent the Cult from raising Cthulhu. This descendant is Jeff Philips (Kyle Davis) who works in a boring job in a cubicle in an office with his comic-book geek friend Charlie (Devin McGinn) and wishes there was more to life.

When Jeff and Charlie get home to their apartment they find Professor Lake standing there. He tries to tell them about the Cult of Cthulhu but Jeff doesn’t believe any of it. Charlie on the other hand knows far too much about it and goes into a comic-illustrated history of Cthulhu and his war with the Elder Ones. Jeff does not think this makes the story any more credible, but Lake agrees that Charlie’s story is true but incomplete. He reveals that Lovecraft was disguising truth as fiction and that he seemed to have a natural immunity to the madness inducing powers of Cthulhu and his General Starspawn (Ethan Wilde). The Council of Cthulhu think that this immunity has been passed down to Jeff making him the only person who can tackle Starspawn and stop the end of human civilisation. Lake’s story is interrupted when the cult get to the apartment on the trail of the relic and Lake tells Jeff and Charlie to go and he gives the relic to Jeff. Lake then pulls out a large hammer on a chain with a harpoon at the other end from his bag and starts fighting off cult creatures to give Jeff and Charlie time to escape until Starspawn comes in and kills him.

Jeff and Charlie have to fight off a creature with a lamprey-like sucker mouth that fixes itself to their car window. They manage to do this with just a tire iron and then they drive off. Charlie suggests that they go see a guy they went to school with who knows all about Lovecraft. Paul (Barak Hardley) is another geek who lives with his foul-mouthed grandmother. He doesn’t believe their story at first but is convinced when he sees the eyes of the relic glowing and he wants in on the adventure. He has a map from a comic-book to a Captain Olaf (Gregg Lawrence) who has told stories of his encounters with spawn of Cthulhu, the Deep Ones who live in the ocean. Starspawn has called up these Deep Ones to help him to get the relic. They come ashore next to a beach party and we see and hear them slaughtering everyone from inside a tent where a woman lies cowering in fear.

Jeff, Paul and Charlie have to get to Captain Olaf who lives in the middle of the desert to see if he has any idea how to defeat Starspawn and the Cult of Cthulhu

A comedy based on the works of H.P. Lovecraft has potential but this was disappointing. It has a very low-budget so it really has very little in the way of effects though some of it was pretty good for the money spent. I wasn’t too put off by the large amount of dysfunctional geek comedy the film has. I think I was mainly let-down by how lame the bad guys really turned out to be. Maybe they should have spread a little more madness around because apart from the Deep Ones they didn’t seem any more dangerous than any bunch of mooks. And the Deep Ones had a great build-up but after their initial killing spree they were a bit crap. Lovecraft wrote about cosmic horror but there really wasn’t much sign of that here. It does show some promise and if they had decent budget they may have delivered something a bit better.

Rating 6/10

 
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Posted by on August 20, 2011 in Entertainment, Film

 

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