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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: Hellraiser – Inferno

This is the fifth Hellraiser film and as far as I know this went straight to video. It is also a standalone story with no reference to what has happened in past films. Some people dislike this change but I think it fits quite well with what Clive Barker was creating with the original Hellraiser. The story itself is intriguing, confusing, and violent and it reminded me of the film Angel Heart. I think this a good film and find it tiresome that it often gets just dismissed because it’s one of the lesser-known Hellraiser sequels.

Police Detective Joseph Thorne (Craig Sheffer) gets a call to a murder scene where the victim has been ripped apart by hooks. The scene has a ritualistic look with the remains arranged inside a square of candles. One candle is sitting on a box, the familiar Lament configuration puzzle box of course. Thorne gets presented with another puzzle, in form of a the severed finger of a child embedded in the wax of the candle. From the victim’s belongings they find his wallet with driver’s license and Thorne realises he knows the man from high school. We get a hint of what type of man Thorne is when we see him pocket a couple of hundred dollars from the wallet

Thorne goes back to home but he doesn’t stay, telling his wife Melanie (Noelle Evans) he has to leave because he’s working a case. In reality he’s leaving to pick up a prostitute called Daphne (Sasha Barrese) and as his self-serving narration says he thinks this keeps his marriage going. I’m not sure what his excuse is for the cocaine he uses all the time but I’m sure he’ll have one. He has sex with her then goes to the bathroom where he examines the puzzle box. Not really sure why he’s got it there but he solves it and the puzzle moves by itself but the walls don’t open up and Pinhead doesn’t appear. Instead the lights flicker and Thorne enters a strangely lit room. It is child’s bedroom and he hears a child calling for help through another door and he’s in a corridor where he sees a pair of strange cenobites with stitched-up eyes who kiss and stroke him push their hands inside his skin . He breaks way  from them following the child’s cries for help until he meets Pinhead (Doug Bradley) who rips his face off then he wakes in the motel room’s bathroom.

Sasha Barrese

Sasha Barrese (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thorne goes to work and while he’s there he gets a call from Daphne who is very frightened and begging for his help. There are ghastly sounds of a bloody struggle and then the phone line goes dead. Back at the motel room Thorne finds her body hung up in the shower. He tells his partner Tony (Nicholas Turturro) that he was there the night before and slept with Daphne and begs for his help covering up any evidence of that. He also plants evidence incriminating Tony because Tony is honest and not happy with covering stuff up for whatever reason. They also find a second severed finger and from its freshness Thorne knows the child is still alive.

Back at the station Thorne helps to narrow down the search parameters for their search for a match on the fingerprints found on the box. This brings up a quick match to Leon Gaultier (Matt George) a man working in a body piercing/tattoo shop. Thorne gets a name from him of the owner of the box, the Engineer. Leon also says “Hunt for the Engineer the Engineer will hunt you.”

Thorne talks to his snitch Bernie (Nicholas Sadler) who is a drug dealing paedophile scumbag and he has an ice cream van. Bernie clams up when Thorne asks him about the Engineer but Thorne doesn’t take that and threatens him with jail. Bernie tells him a story of how brutal the Engineer is and repeats that thing Leon said about hunt the Engineer and the Engineer will hunt you. Out in the car Tony is waiting and he wants to know if he got any information and the way he asks it makes it clear he knows Thorne get his cocaine from Bernie. Tony really wants them to come clean about Thorne sleeping with Daphne the night before. Thorne tells that won’t be happening and tells him about what he did. Tony is not happy but he’s really getting a measure of how much of a bastard Thorne is.

While Thorne is sitting in a bar drinking a kid appears and gives him a videotape. He shoves into it the video player in the bar. It was shot in Bernie’s van and we can hear Bernie is being brutally whipped and begging for mercy that doesn’t come. We don’t see this happening, just the legs of the killer and barbed whip he’s using. But what we hear paints an awful picture of what’s happening. After he’s finished killing Bernie he crouches down to the camera and we see his distorted eyeless hell face. The killer then shows the camera a freshly severed finger. When he tries to show he tapeito the other cops back at the station the tape is blank. The captain orders him to see the station counsellor before he goes back to work because he seems on edge.

Thorne goes to see the counsellor Dr. Paul Gregory (James Remar) but he makes up an excuse and arranges an appointment for another time. He gets told that they’ve found Bernie. Bernie is chained to his steering wheel and the flesh on his back is ripped open, exposing his spine. Tony mentions that they haven’t found a finger at this scene and Thorne shows them that it’s in the cash register but he only knows that from the video that no-one else saw but Tony can think of another source of information. They find a mobile phone in his pocket with a message about meeting a Mr Parmaggi about finding the Engineer.

The next scene is fascinating but I‘m not sure what the point of it is. Thorne and Tony drive out to a remote bar in the middle of the night. Inside there are several tables of people in cowboy hats silently playing poker. Thorne sits at a table and asks about buying when Mr Parmagi (Michael Shamus Wiles) appears in his Grand Ol’ Opry gear, six-shooter included. Thorne asks him about the Engineer but Parmagi just gives him a cryptic answer. Thorne wants him to tell the Engineer that he won’t stop looking but Parmagi assures him that the Engineer doesn’t want him to stop. Thorne spots the hell faced killer get up from a table and leave so he follows into the woods where two Asian cowboys in long leather coats beat the crap out of him.

Thorne goes back to the station house and talks to Dr. Gregory and tells him he thinks he’s going crazy and tells him about the Engineer. Gregory has heard about the engineer and tells him about a cop who got so obsessed with finding the Engineer he ended up shooting himself in the head. Gregory has a picture of the puzzle box and Thorne brings it out asks him about it. Gregory tells him the legend that if you open the box they come for you and take you to hell. Thorne say they didn’t take him to hell and Gregory suggests that means they‘re still here.

Thorne goes home where Melanie is upset that he wasn’t home and didn’t even call to tell her where he was. Then she sees how badly beat up he is and she cleans his cuts and Thorne nods off. He wakes when the phone rings. Melanie answers it then tells him it was from his mother who said something about getting a visit from The Engineer. Thorne rushes to nursing home where they live. His mother sits by his father’s bed knitting asking him why he’s doesn’t come to see them anymore. His father is so ill he’s bed-bound. Thorne goes through a door and into that strange child’s bedroom he was in before and the door slams behind him. He hears ghastly noises of his parents screaming and the violent tearing of flesh. Blood starts oozing under the door and Thorne pounds on the door. Then he wakes up at home and the phone is ringing. Just like in the dream it’s his mother and Thorne rushes to their nursing home. His parents are missing but they discover that the mattress of his father’s bed is soaked in blood. On the cabinet beside the bed is a gift box containing two more fingers and a card with an address on it.

Outside the hospital he runs into Tony who really wants to have a word with him. Tony thinks Thorne’s out of control and he tells Thorne that no-one else has any evidence that the Engineer even exists. The link between all the victims is Thorne himself. Tony wants to take Thorne in to see the Captain and they struggle and Tony tell him he needs help but Thorne ignores him and drives off. He goes to the address on the card and finds a telescope trained on a window across the street. Tony is chained to a chair and the hell face killer is whipping him to death with a chain then he puts a severed finger in Tony’s mouth. A telephone in the room rings. It is the Engineer and he tells Thorne to go home.

At home he finds his wife and daughter chained to a revolving wooden pillar, freezing to death asking him when he’s coming home and why he lies to them. Also there is Dr. Gregory. He reaches out to his daughter but they both crack and crumble away. Then Gregory tells Thorne that they got a match on the fingerprint from the finger in Tony’s mouth. It’s Thorne’s fingerprint. Gregory tells him when he said go home he didn’t mean here but his first home.

Gregory offers to help him understand. Thorne says “you’re the Engineer” and Gregory smiles and transforms into Pinhead who tells him he must go back home. He goes a through door and is back the strange bedroom now we find out it was his bedroom and the 7-year-old Thorne is there. Downstairs his parents are a young couple. In the kitchen his Mom makes brownies. Time shakes up the house and ages everything including his mother who has bloody holes where eyes should be and she comes at him with a knife until he shoots her and has to do the same when his father attacks. Next Daphne attacks then Tony until he shoots both of them and then it’s Bernie attacking him and getting shot.

There are cenobites in the corridors of the building. In one room he see himself standing inside, then he is standing inside. A boy with several missing finger is on a chair in front of him. The hell face killer appears and Thorne takes his gun out and hell face rips off his mask to reveal he is Thorne only he’s Thorne’s hungers and desires and the boy is his spirit. His flesh is killing his spirit, Pinhead tells him before hooks on chain tear him apart.

And he wakes up the hotel bathroom with Daphne sleeping on the bed outside. He thinks it was just a dream when Daphne calls screaming and in despair Thorne shoots himself in the head. Then wakes up in the hotel bathroom again knowing he’s in hell and there’s no escape.

I know some people who loved the original film will not accept this film but I like that they tried to do something else without burdening itself with trying to recreate the original film’s tone or stay in the same continuity. Another thing people may dislike is that this film is not straightforward and I’m not all that confident I fully understand it myself. It is diffcult to even figure when we really entered the hell vision being controlled by Pinhead, was after he opened the box or is everything from the start a trip through Thorne’s hell? Is Thorne really a killer or are the brutal murders a symbol.of the way he abuses those he knows? Is it Thorne that Gregory is talking about when he mentions the cop who got obsessed with finding the Engineer until he went crazy and shot himself?  Why did Thorne go to a remote poker club and get beat up by Asian cowboys? It can be infuriating to not have clear-cut answers.

One of the best things about the film are the performances of Craig Sheffer and Nicolas Turturro, playing the experienced dirty cop and the idealistic rookie who learns fast.This film really does make nice use of sound to convey the bloody murders with a brutality that would be difficult and expensive to show and feels gorier than it really is. I think this is a good film and I would still have enjoyed it if it had no connection to the Hellraiser series. If you haven’t watched it already give it a go. And then come back tell me what it was about.

Rating 7.5/10

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Posted by on September 10, 2012 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: Truth or Dare

I’ve been told that this film has been titled Truth of Die for the US release. This is a low-budget independent British film and at first I thought I was going to hate it as I took a dislike to almost all of the characters but as the film went on and more got revealed I felt more drawn into the story and I was never sure quite where the story was going to go.

Five college students go to a large sprawling country estate for the birthday party of Felix (Tom Kane), a nervous unpopular nerdy boy that they know from college. A year before they had all been to party where they had played a game of Truth or Dare that went wrong leaving Felix feeling humiliated. Felix was very nervous at the party and Luke (Alexander Vlahos) the drug dealer gives him a couple of lines of coke. With his confidence chemically boosted Felix talks to Gemma (Florence Hall), a woman he likes and although she doesn’t agree to go out with him it’s a pleasant enough conversation and anyway she’s dating the more aggressive Chris (Jack Gordon). Then Eleanor (Jennie Jacques) comes downstairs angry about her boyfriend Paul (Liam Boyle) passing out on her. She has an empty bottle wants to play Truth or Dare. I think it’s on the second spin it picks Felix who gets asked to choose anyone male or female that he’d choose to sleep with. He chooses Gemma knowing she already knows how he feels but Chris takes offence to this and punches Felix ending the party game on a downer.

They get to Felix’s house and its a massive country house and it clear the Felix comes from serious money. The ground-keeper Woodbridge (David Oakes) tells them the party is being held in cottage half a mile along a trail that’s too rough for their cars. At the cottage they are greeted by Justin (David Oakes) Felix’s older brother. He tells them the party was called off because Felix is abroad in Chile.  Of course it turns out that Felix’s birthday party is a trick and Felix isn’t there but his violent unstable older brother Justin wants pay back for the way his brother was treated and he wants to play his own version of Truth or Dare with them. It all starts off innocent enough but soon the dares become fatal and for some the truth hurts even more

At first I thought that this film was going down the well-worn path of the vengeance horror but it delivered a bit more depth than that and the question of responsibility comes into sharp focus. I did really dislike a few of the characters but this is because the actors were doing a good job playing these unpleasant characters. There are scenes of torture in this but there’s more psychology involved than physical pain (think Guantanamo Bay more than Saw) and it doesn’t have too much gore. Overall it’s an interesting film that’s worth the watch.

Rating 6.5/10

 
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Posted by on September 3, 2012 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: Hostel Part III

This series of films has had very hard ride from mainstream critics and the first two films are often quoted as examples of torture porn. There is no denying that graphic torture scenes are portrayed in the films, performed by people who are paying for the perverse pleasure of hurting and killing people. But these people are the antagonists of the films and the films are not told from their perspective. This film actually has more of a story going on than in the earlier two and I think it makes it less cold and brutal than the previous films and bit more mainstream.

The action this time is in Las Vegas among the casinos and strip clubs and casinos that are also strip clubs. Scott (Brian Hallisay) is about to get married so his Best Man Carter (Kip Pardue) takes him for a stag weekend in Las Vegas were they meet up with two other friends Mike (Skyler Stone) and Justin (John Hensley). They start at a casino and meet two escorts Nikki (Zulay Henao) and Kendra (Sarah Habel) who tell them about a club off the strip. The four friends party with the two girls but when they wake up next day their friend Mike is missing.

Mike is the latest victim of the wealthy torture & murder perverts of the Elite Hunting Club. Since this is Las Vegas the torture is a brightly lit show with an audience who can bet of various things like what he’s going to say to beg for his life or what tool will be used to torture him. Other Vegas elements are also present such as the nearly naked waitresses serving drinks to the evil rich bastards.

After several hours Scott is really concerned about finding Mike so using the internet Justin traces the address of Nikki who he was last seen with. They break into her trailer but there’s no sign of them there. They get caught by Kendra and her large angry friend. Kendra says that Nikki is missing too so she goes with the three men thinking they will find Nikki and Mike together.

Kendra is the next victim on show and she has been forced into a cheesy cheerleader outfit. Her death by huge bugs reminds me more of the sort of deaths in the Dr Phibes films than Hostel. There’s the appearance of a sub-plot with a member of the club pursuing a petty emotional agenda that risks exposing the Club to the authorities. I just felt that the EHC had become joke version of what they had appeared to be in the previous films.

The film is well shot and was entertaining enough but it has lost some of the grungy sleazy edge that the first two films had. In those films I really winced during the torture scenes because of my empathy with the pain being experienced by the protagonists and I didn’t get that with this film.

Rating 6/10

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2012 in Entertainment, Film

 

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