Friday, August 27, 2010

Soundtrack: Låt Den Rätte Komma In


I'm deliberately using the original Swedish title above to emphasise as much as possible that this post is about the original film and not the Hollywood cash-in that will be polluting a cinema near you soon.

Without even needing to mention this Mormon garbage, I'll go on the record as saying that all this recent vampire nonsense in the movies and on TV disgusts me. In my opinion it's all soapy drivel that is - quite appropriately - sucking the life blood out of horror. I don't care how sexually explicit or violent True Blood 90210 is - it's drivel. Sorry.

With the exception of the entertaining (but flawed) SF/vampire thriller Daybreakers, only one film in recent years has risen above this dreary mire, and that film is Tomas Alfredson's Let The Right One In. It's not just better than it's contemporaries, it's a masterpiece, both in terms of genre film and cinema in general. I won't bother going into the details of what makes it so great again, as it's already been so widely praised and written about since '08. If you haven't seen it, you should do yourself a favour and see it soon, before the US remake - Let Me In - is released in about a month.

The thing that's driven me to write this admittedly bitter sounding post is that it really annoys me that all the major genre-related websites that championed the original Swedish masterpiece are now giving the remake so much exposure. I know they have to pay their bills, but must they act like such shameless media whores to do so? I've well and truly made my peace with remakes of films over 20 years old. There's been too many over the decades that prove that there's nothing wrong with retelling a great story for a new generation, and that sometimes it even produces better results than the original (see The Thing, The Fly). But the practice of instant remakes of foreign films is one that I'll never condone. I know a lot of the general home video audience is unwilling to give foreign movies a go, but given a couple of decades, these movies can filter through and gain a much wider audience than they had on their initial theatrical run.

I can hear the justifications of the apologists now: but it stars Hit Girl and that kid from The Road! So What? That's a bad thing. The strength of the original lies in the magnetic charisma of two completely unknown child actors (Kåre Hedebrant & Lina Leandersson), both of whom deliver perfect performances. Much more effective than predictably featuring this year's obnoxiously precocious Hollywood "it" kids. But it looks really arty like the original! Yeah, sure, in that totally contrived, mainstream "look how arty and indie looking this is" way. Sorry, not impressed. But they've changed the plot to adhere closer to the source novel! Uh-huh, well the writers were probably pretty desperate to come up with any gimmick that would somehow distance this from the original film and justify it's existence...

... because regardless of what anyone says, the only reason for this remake's existence is money. And a chronic dearth of creative talent. A couple of years ago I saw Let The Right One In at a screening with Tomas Alfredson in attendance, and he was not happy about it. In fact he talked for about ten minutes about how it really pissed him off.

So if you're as annoyed as I am about the defiling of great movies for the sake of lazy people and greedy studios... forget about it for a while by turning off the lights and escaping into the wistful melancholia of Johan Söderqvist's atmospheric score for Låt Den Rätte Komma In. Hit the quote...














Thursday, August 12, 2010

blackQueen


For centuries in Europe and it's colonies, the dominant newer religion of Christianity has been flexing it's muscle and successfully purging the world of the old beliefs such as pre-Christian paganism and it's surviving adherents, the Witch-Cult. Much as unchecked industrialisation has purged the Earth of much of it's natural ecosystem and biodiversity, the militant materialism of the "new" religions has all but wiped out the nature-respecting Earth worship of the old beliefs.

Pete Jay (Assück), through his metal band blackQueen, posits an alternative interpretation of Argento's famous Witch cycle. He suggests that the Mothers Suspiriorum, Tenebrarum and Lachrymarum are not aimlessly malevolent in their intention to do harm to the human status quo. Rather, they are meting out punishment on humanity for the despoilment and destruction wrought on our planet in the name of "progress" and personal gain. They can also be seen to be reacting defensively to centuries of violent persecution from the establishment. Torture and execution at the hands of inquisitors and witch-hunters - not out of misunderstanding (as is often suggested by apologists), but a deliberate agenda of religious persecution with the ultimate aim of extermination.

From this viewpoint the Three Mothers become sympathetic characters, in hiding for their very survival, only killing to protect their identities. This is a refreshingly thought provoking perspective, and adds a new dimension and depth to Argento's trilogy.

Thanks to Pete for letting me post blackQueen's '99 demo,
Witch Metal, here on the EYE. It's a killer dose of filthy, raw, blackened occult metal followed by a great cover of Goblin's "Suspiria". You can and should download it by clicking on the Latin quote at the end of this post. A new incarnation of blackQueen is working on some fresh material and you can be in touch with them here and here.



Silentium


I do not know what price I shall have to pay for breaking what we alchemists call Silentium. The life experience of our colleague should teach us not to upset laymen by imposing our knowledge upon them. I, Varelli, an architect living in London, met the Three Mothers and designed and built for them three dwelling places. ...I failed to discover until too late that from these three locations the Three Mothers rule the world with sorrow, tears, and darkness... And I built their horrible houses, the repositories of all their filthy secrets...

The land upon which the three houses have been constructed will eventually become deathly and plague-ridden, so much so that the area all around will reek horribly. And that is the first key to the mothers' secret, truly the primary key. The second key to the poisonous secret of the three sisters is hidden in the cellar under their houses. There you can find both the picture and the name of the sister living in that house. This is the location of the second key. The third key can be found under the soles of your shoes; there is the third key.



Suspiriorum



THE THIRD KEY

Underneath the soles of your shoes
Weeping in the dark, unbridled fear emerges
Gripping, hollow, ripping, shallow, hanging over chasms, slipping
She has a secret, old as time, know her name, know her crime
Undefinable, her face is black
Hell awaits behind that door, you are going to meet death now!
Your throat is slit, pretty eyes cut out
Your heart hangs on her bedroom wall bleeding, rotting in the dark



Tenebrarum



CRUELEST OF THE THREE

Grinding into sausage, your poor sister, say goodbye
Fed to dogs that prowl, hunting vermin in the night
From behind a curtain, slashing through subconscious mind
Raven blades take flight

Hear something behind you in the pathway, a bell that rings inside
Fear something behind you, hear a crying
The last thing you will hear alive

Darkness is her legion, mother of the cold and blind
Sickly sweet her region skulks, question not her secret crimes
Eyes of her familiar, walls have ears that tell her why
She will take your eyes

Hear something behind you in the pathway, a bell that rings inside
Fear something behind you, hear a crying
The last thing you will see alive. Oh Mater!

Mother take the autumn, eclipsing my heart in the sorrow of shades
Enigmatic queen I bleed for thee,
Through your curses mortal hearts will cease

Clock strikes twelve, from shadows winds will blow, I know...
Anahl Nathrahk, Uth Basbethuhd, Dothyel Tienthrae



Thursday, August 5, 2010

S.P.Q.R. G.O.R.E.


This one goes out to all my friends in the US.

As is sometimes inexplicably the case, we got our theatrical run of Neil Marshall's Centurion a full month before you guys (we usually get same-day releasing, or weeks/months after the US release). Anyway, I saw it last week and it's pretty awesome.

It's not perfect by any means, but it's the kind of fun, bloody movie that I'll probably grow very fond of as time goes by. Centurion is a throwback to the
violent, no-bullshit sword & sandal flicks of the '80's like Excalibur and Conan The Barbarian. And it's that very lack of bullshit that makes it so cool. Despite being "based" on the massacre of the Roman Ninth Legion, it's completely unencumbered by any pretense at real historical accuracy (the whole Ninth Legion thing is really just a device to build the story on). It's not a moralistic message movie, and it definitely isn't trying to elevate itself to the status of highbrow period movie. It's also free of all the hyper-stylised, CGI laden visuals that have become popular in the wake of 300. Like I said, no bullshit.


Centurion is just a good old-fashioned, blood and gore soaked BATTLE movie. The gore is mostly practical (with some bright red CG stuff splattered around) and it's pretty stunning. Throats and jugulars are slashed; chests are sliced; heads are severed and bisected; bodies are stabbed, punctured and eviscerated. Limbs don't even stand a chance - they're history. Usually with cinematic sword fighting it's "clang, clang, clang, clang, slice", but there's a battle in Centurion that is more like "slice, lop, stab, slice, squelch, splat, slice" - blow after blow, steel meeting only flesh. Just killing and dying and crawling through the blood-soaked mud and more dying. It's awesome.

The bleakly beautiful, mist-shrouded Scottish locations and Frazetta-esque design of the Pictish warriors add to those glorious depictions of battle to make Centurion a Metal movie par excellence. Just look at axe-throwing Mantlers Barbarian below. Metal-As-Fuck. And there's a pack of vicious, hungry wolves too.


Is it perfect? Hell no. The dialogue is often clumsy, and the third act devolves into a pretty standard chase scenario, also suffering from an awkward subplot that feels out of place near the end of the film. But much like Marshall's last film - the Carpenter homage Doomsday - this is a B-movie that doesn't pretend to be, or want to be, anything but a good time for genre fans. So it's pretty easy to forgive it it's flaws.

It is what it is: atmospheric vistas of fog-shrouded forests & desolate moors; blood-slick battlefields; grimy centurions; lethal barbarian babes and violent death dealt by the cold steel and iron of gladius and spear.
Centurion comes with my recommendation and a rating of four Hessian Mantler Boners out of five.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Fast Forward To The Gore


It's been a bit quiet around here lately...

... but now you'd best hide your stash and lock up your daughters - cuz
it's ANNIHILATION TIME BITCH!

Rockin' Greg Ginn worship done just right (see also BL'AST! & It's Casual) from Oakland's recently defunct Annihilation Time. They never released a dud, but 2003's Bad Reputation EP was their finest hour, with guitarist Graham Clise never getting his Black Flag shred on better than he did on "Rock 'n' Roll California" and this EP version of "Fast Forward to the Gore". The icing on the cake is an awesome Thin Lizzy cover and monstrous artwork by none other than the mighty Jeff Gaither.

As well as an unholy love of partying, these boys can obviously appreciate the simple pleasures of sitting around at home with some bros - beer in one hand, bong in the other - and taking in a freaky horror movie. So take their advice: click on the link below, grab yourself a cold beer and go watch Srpski Film you pussy.