Sunday 25 February 2018

Industrial Animals

d. Sam Mason Bell; w./p. Sam Mason Bell, Tamsin Howland; cast: Sam Mason Bell, Tamsin Howland, Thomas J Davenport

Distributed by Troma but a long way from Tromaville, this disturbing, transgressive hour-long feature stands thematic comparison with Fluid Boy or The Hell Experiment. Director Ellis and cameraman Owens hire a prostitute for three days, interviewing her and filming Ellis partaking of her services, all for a putative documentary. She says they can do anything with her and go as far as they want, but how far is far enough, or too far? The film explores notions of abuse, power, vulnerability, dominance, submission, (mis)trust and misogyny, with both Bell and Howland going beyond the call of duty as actors. Ten minutes from the end, it takes an unexpected new direction which is at one and the same time more horrific and also more comforting – because it’s weirdly less transgressive. Mostly found footage, seen through Owens’ DSLR, although that is abandoned towards the end without detriment. Some of the less clear dialogue is subtitled, albeit with numerous typos. Entirely made by the three actors except for the score and impressive sound design.

Monday 12 February 2018

The Holly Kane Experiment

d. Tom Sands; w. Mick Sands; p. Tom Sands, Phil Harris; cast: Kirsty Averton, Nicky Henson, James Rose, Lindsey Campbell, Carl Gower, Simon Hepworth

An unengaging and unsatisfying film with an unclear plot and unsympathetic characters, this mind control conspiracy thriller from the writing/directing team of Sands pere et fils is at least considerably better than the dire Nazi Vengeance. Holly Kane is a hypnotherapist whose research into… something involves a flotation tank and a cocktail of unspecified hallucinogens provided by a friend. Her work is unexpectedly bankrolled by a smooth but creepy old guy who covertly works for the Government and overtly wants to get into her pants (in scenes that are uncomfortably rapey). None of the unlikeable characters have a clear goal; we don’t know what they’re trying to do so don’t care whether they achieve it. The hokey scifi dialogue includes talk of ‘clinical trials’ but the film-makers don’t seem to know what that means. Shot in October 2015 in London and Brighton, with scenes in the Royal Pavilion and on a cross-Channel ferry.

Sunday 11 February 2018

Red Kiss

d./w. Nigel Wingrove; p. Robin Woodgate; cast: Chantelle, Laura St Claire, Belladomma

Largely plotless hardcore lesbian vampire fetish feature of principal interest as a rare directorial credit for Salvation Films head honcho Wingrove (Sacred Flesh). Two girls in PVC outfits meet in a nightclub then go to a room full of cobwebs for a 25-minute G/G session. One cuts her hand which awakens a vampire dominatrix downstairs. She takes the brunette off for some BDSM then does the same with blondie. Then she takes them back upstairs and watches them basically repeat the first scene. Finally she cuts her wrist and dribbles blood into their mouths (and on their tits) before a G/G/G session to round things off. An epilogue has the two girls waking up, thinking it was a dream, then sprouting fangs and lunging onto a passing bloke. Shot in one day in 2004. Wingrove’s attempts to be slightly arty are frankly wasted here. Music by Band of Pain and Bent USA. Not on IMDB. A bizarre third BDSM sequence halfway through features the blonde and a girl dressed entirely in bin liners and carrier bags. Released on DVD in the Netherlands and Germany in 2007.

Saturday 10 February 2018

Dead and Awake

d./w. Alexander Fodor; p. Paul Allan-Slade, Kevin Phelan, Parvez Zabier; cast: Funda Onal, Jason Wing, Ian Alexander, Ryan Ebling, Renate Morley, Emmy Proctor, Bruce Wang, Carmen Coupeau Borras, Nadira Murray

Stunningly confident and accomplished, this stylish, intriguing, gripping horror feature should be much, much better known. When her car (with dead husband in the boot) breaks down, a young woman finds herself among a group of criminals whose kidnap of a teenage girl has gone fatally wrong. They don’t trust each other and are all scared of unseen client ‘The Skincrawler’. Fodor’s script and direction never take the easy, safe or lazy option, creating an enigmatic film packed with fascinating, shadowy characters, twisted relationships, and a jigsaw narrative. Subplots of mind control and psychic powers mentioned in the synopsis are neither obvious nor necessary, to be honest. Gorgeous cinematography by Isaiah McAye and skilful editing by Fodor himself are topped by simply the best sound design I've encountered in a British horror film. Jaw-dropping work by Leonardo Stoppa: bravo, sir. Fodor’s only other features are an Azerbaijani drama and a 2007 version of Hamlet.

Friday 9 February 2018

Trash Arts Killers Volume 1

d. various; w. various; p. Sam Mason Bell; cast: Suki Jones, Chris Mills, Rebecca Rolph, Aaron Thomas, Alice Mullholland, Simon Berry, Jessica Hunt, Suzy Weatherall, Michel Du Vegan, Rennie Pilgrem,

Enjoyable avant-garde anthology compiled by Portsmouth-based Bell (Industrial Animals) who wrote and/or directed five of the ten segments. Highlights are: The Angel of Decay – obsessive ‘Bundyphile’ emulates her hero; Desire – abstract bondage imagery with hints of cannibalism, directed by Martyna Madej; South Bank – extended video selfie of man drinking, smoking, collapsing and visited by Death, from Martin W Payne; Attraction – young married couple flicker between loving and violent realities; and The Call – Poe-esque tale of woman driven mad by hit-and-run guilt (sound design by Spirits of the Fall helmer Rusty Apper). Other writers and/or directors include Jackson Batchelor, Jessica Hunt, Mike Reed, Chris Mills and Ryan Edwards. Segments vary from 12 minutes down to brief snippets, some silent, some black and white, some non-continuous, some conventionally shot, some experimental, some with title card and credits, some without. Not everything works, but there’s enough here to satisfy anyone with an interest in underground contemporary UK horror. Available on Versusmedia via your Firestick, Roku etc.