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Friday, 31 May 2013

Is This The Film That Goes Too Far? MELANCHOLIE DER ENGEL

Today, we go back to the very heart of what this blog is about: extreme cinema! And what I have found for you, today, dear readers, is something so repellant, so mentally-scarring, so utterly brutal, this will push you well-and-truly over the edge, once-and-for-all!

There's a new, ultra-sickening piece of cinema currently being promoted and touted across various horror film sites and blogs right now, that will be of interest to many of my readers. Marian Dora's latest arthouse shocker MELANCHOLIE DER ENGEL, or THE ANGEL'S MELANCHOLY is absolutely not for the easily-offended, and that is why I'm mentioning it here. (Dora's previous work was CANNIBAL from 2006.)

Considering all of the shocking films that have been released in the past few years, from A SERBIAN FILM, THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE II: FULL SEQUENCE, to a revised edit of CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST, via SNUFF 102, PHILOSOPHY OF A KNIFE, and the likes of SLAUGHTERED VOMIT DOLLS, MORDUM and many others, you wouldn't think there'd be many taboos left to break, or many more forms of extreme cinema left to depict.

Well, Dora has proved there is!

MELANCHOLIE DER ENGEL was filmed in 2009, and released a year later. With a running time of 159 minutes, this is not going to be a short-and-sweet viewing. The fact that the only official releases, are from Germany and Austria, from "Shock DVD", and said releases not being English friendly, this is definitely not a film for many. (Both releases have the film in its original, native German language only, and no other audio/subtitle options, so purchasers be aware of this.)

In fact, I would probably safely argue that straight away, this is not going to be a film many will even contemplate at all, because of the afore-mentioned issues, let alone the graphic and unrelentingly repellant content that the film details and revels in.

At the minute, you can still import the film from Amazon Germany at this link  here  At about 19 Euros, (equivalent to approximately $25 US dollars, or £16 Pounds Sterling), it's not cheap by any means, and then you also have the additional cost of postage to your country on top, and you soon start to realise the odds are stacked against this film right from the get-go. I should also warn my readers, that some people have had their orders cancelled by Amazon Germany, as - technically - the film isn't meant to be sold out of its native country. The reason being, that the film is considered an extreme film, and with it not being officially classified by the German FSK Censor Board, Amazon have chosen to not allow some orders to non-German countries to pass through their system. Whilst your order may go through initially, and even get to the "Despatching" stage, you may still get an e-mail later on, saying that your order cannot be fulfilled, even though Amazon has copies available for purchase. If your order fails, you will have to either try again and cross your fingers it makes it through, or try having the film sent to an alternative address in another country, via friends, family or relatives - though you do this last option at your own risk. If this gets stopped at your local Customs department, and they take one viewing of it, you're going to need a strong legal defence team at the ready!

However, this is a trial-and-error scenario. I placed an order, and although it was in the "Despatching" stage for a couple of days, it did eventually get sent out to me, and arrived a couple of days later at my home address, unhindered by Customs.

But other purchasers have reported problems, so just be aware. Also, the film comes with an official, red, FSK 18 sticker attached to it. It's bogus! The film is absolutely NOT FSK-approved, and to be frank, would be banned or heavily cut in most countries around the globe, especially in Germany! Considering the FSK board doesn't really like mainstream horror films at the best of times, they'd balk at this one being approved for classification! And once I explain why, you'll soon understand what you're getting yourself into.

The DVD comes with four artcard postcards, housed inside a standard Amaray DVD case, which is housed inside a cosy cardboard sleeve. There are three short-films as extras, ranging from five minutes to half-an-hour in length, but they too, are in German only, or in some cases, dialogue-free and still as confusing and twisted as the main feature.

If, after all of the above, you are still wanting to get a copy of this film, or are contemplating purchasing it, hang-tight for one more moment. Read the rest of this blog post, before clicking on that Purchase button!

If you've got this far, and are still itching to get your hands on this grubby and repugnant little flick, you really do need to prepare yourself. Firstly, the film is not a true narrative film. That is, to say, the plot doesn't have a regular linear structure, like most ordinary films do. It's distinctly arthouse shocker: clever, pretentious, shocking photography first, narrative and plot, a distinct second. So trying to even describe this film to you, is going to be tough. I don't speak or read German, so I am using my own viewpoint and those of others I have read or spoken with, to form an approximate description. As such, my description of what I think happens, may not be wholly accurate. I apologise for this, and hope you will forgive me.

Essentially, the film appears to be about a couple of men, who kidnap a couple of women and another man, take them all to a forest, and then indulge themselves in a drugs and sex-fuelled orgy! The film then follows the two kidnappers as they play with, torture and then debase, mutilate and murder the victims!

That's roughly the plot.

Unfortunately, the film is dialogue-heavy. Some of it is muffled, some of it is unclear. All of it, however, is in German, in heavy accents, and to non-German viewers, it's going to be meaningless. Thus trying to work out what the hell is going-on, whilst they spout some pseduo cod-psychology mumbo-jumbo is going to grate heavily on your nerves. The dialogue may well explain the plot in great detail. It may in fact add a lot to your "enjoyment" and "understanding" of the film, but like I say, I don't understand German, so have to take the film at face-value - which is never the best way to experience a film. Moreso a film that entices viewers with some pretty far-out and fucked-up imagery, as this one does!

If this sounds like your kind of film, there's one more thing I need to discuss: the sick-factor!

This may well be the sickest, nastiest, most foul celluloid creation in cinema history! If you think you've seen it all, you probably haven't! Not by a long shot! Maybe if you've sat through every single piece of extreme cinema ever created, then perhaps this will not be remotely new to you. For the rest of us, I guarantee there will be something in this film to offend and upset you, without hesitation! In fact, some people have switched it off in disgust!

I cannot stress this enough! This film is utterly brutal, and depressing, and bleak, and nihilistic, and grubby! You may choose to watch this film in parts, of say, 30-45 minutes each. Watching the whole thing in one go, is likely to get to you, in a way that many other extreme cinema films don't. And as silly as it sounds, don't watch this before bedtime! You. Will. Regret. It.

The first troubling issue with this film's content, is the animal cruelty. Right from the outset, Dora includes sceens of live worms and maggots being cut into pieces; of roadkill being splattered everywhere; and to a very unpleasant scene involving the killing of cat, with its throat being sliced wide open! What worries me, is that the animal cruelty looks real. I hope to God it's been staged and is wholly fake, but I can't guarantee that. Worse still, Dora has gone on record saying that the animal killings were real, and that he enjoyed seeing them killed (and didn't have a problem with killing animals for entertainment purposes), and he's also gone on record vehemently denying the animal cruelty as being anything other than clever special effects.

I couldn't tell.

The cruelty all looked real. It all sounded real. It all felt real.

The second troubling issue, is the rest of the film's extreme nature. There's graphic and explicit sexual scenes, that are nothing short of pornographic in detail. I'm talking shots of male and female ejaculation; urination onto other people's bodies - both living and dead; defecation - again, onto living and dead bodies; the consumption of urine and excretia; a man fingering a woman's colostomy hole; sexual desecration of burning corpses, the consumption of semen and then vomiting it back up; intimate relations with a goat. Pretty much every extreme thing that can be done, you see it here!

The violent content is no less stomach-churning: masturbating nuns; sex with a burning corpse; snuff videos featuring women aborting their babies, and then doing horrendous things to the fetuses; entrails being removed from stomachs and played with; a woman has her ovaries removed; masturbation over snuff footage!

Now, I don't write this to excite or entice you to view this film, though I know some of you will use this movie as an endurance test: "Can I sit through it?" "Do I have a strong-enough stomach?" "Will the film really be as sick and depraved as the author claims?" Well, you may well make it through all 159 minutes. Then again, you may not. And if you don't, I wouldn't hold it against you. Quite simply, it's a litany of depravity, so if anyone can sit through it all - in one go, or in sections - then, I think that's pretty impressive by any standards! Just be warned of what you are letting yourself in for!

Is the film any good, though, I hear you ask? There's no easy answer. Some people have loved this film, because it is so debased and sickening. Others have admired what Dora was doing. I admire the work, in many ways. Some of the imagery is hauntingly beautiful. There is beauty to view, within the film. But, by God, the violence and the sexual stuff is unrelentingly cruel and vicious. This is not a film I would watch regularly, by any means. I may watch it once in a blue-moon, if that. It is that affecting, and troubling, I'm not sure I could handle watching it again, even for reviewing purposes.

Dora has some talent. He also has some balls! To pull this film off, get people involved, and get it financed, made, completed and ready for distribution, takes a gigantic set of cajones. But is it all worth it? In parts, yes. For the rest, no. If you want a film that tears you up and scatters you all over, then watch this, as you'll be feeling suicidal for the rest of the week. The shots and imagery will scar themselves into your brain, and you won't be able to forget what you've seen. Even if you want to forget them, you won't be able too!

And to be honest, you will want to forget some of what you've seen. There will be parts of you, begging to wipe away some of Dora's grotesquerie out of your soul forever, to be banished into some dark confine of your brain, where it needs to be locked-up tight, never to be accessed again! But it will linger in you, for a very, very long time after. For that reason, and that reason alone, Dora has succeeded in producing a film, that I don't think can be topped. Do I want a film to top this, however? No, absolutely not! I think I've reached my limits! Short of watching a mix of real snuff film, complete and unedited animal slaughterhouse footage, or child porn, I don't think I can be scared or challenged any further!

This is it, folks! This is the the one that really does go too far! Watch it at your peril! Just have something or someone else close by to reassure you afterwards, because this is akin to bathing your brain in hydrochloric acid! And it isn't fun, and it isn't pleasant! On the DVD cover, it cries out: "The most controversial film ever!" Dora was NOT joking!

Sweet dreams, everyone! You're going to need them!

ADDENDUM: Thank You to Dave at the Melon-Farmers website for linking this article on their excellent website! Much appreciated!

Saturday, 11 May 2013

With Thanks: We've Hit 10,000 Views!


My little blog has now hit over 10,000 views! I am so pleased with this, and want to Thank all of you who visit here, whether it's regularly, occasionally, or even if it's just your first time here.

I've had accusations that my blog could be improved by having more up-to-date reviews, previews, and including interviews with people in the horror industry. That is not what my blog is about, and never has been about. My blog is absolutely NOT about promoting the latest or newest horror films. Any DVD or Blu-Ray I review, I've either bought a copy from a high-street or online retailer with my own cash, or have paid to see at a cinema. I am wholly independent from anyone, and no film company will ever be able to "buy" a positive or favourable review from me, no matter what!

Nor am I here to do PR work for any company, relating to any extreme cinema movie, via interviews with cast members, directors, producers or staff who work behind the camera, just for them to try and sell their wares. At least not for the most part. (I may still promote an occasional film, here-and-there, if I think it will be of interest to my readers, but only if I choose too.) There are better blogs, better sites and better publications than my humble little corner of the Web, if that is the kind of thing you seek. I do not, nor have I ever tried to be, like those organisations. I am not the person for that area of journalism.

I aim to be very different.

This blog of mine, is predominantly for lengthy articles, that I feel will be of interest to people in the area of extreme cinema. Whether you be a film fan, a collector, a film-maker, a student or graduate, someone who works in the film or horror industry, or something else entirely. Sometimes, those articles may have no relation to extreme cinema at all. However, they may well be loosely and indirectly related, via the themes of censorship, the law or other similar areas, which many horror fans will still hopefully find of interest. What I am, is an individual for whom articles in the 3000-5000 word range, is the norm. I want to get into subjects in detail. Sometimes those articles will be opinionated. Sometimes, hyperbolic even. But all of my articles should be there to make you think and reconsider things. They are aimed at the more intelligent horror fans: the people who don't want to simply read about what latest remake Hollywood is spending millions, or which actress is starring in some glossy, new, but ultimately vacuous, haunted house movie. I aim for a more discerning and specialist clientele, and I make no apologies for that. People who aren't frightened or put-off by long articles. People who may well have been to university, and done Master's degrees or PHD's even. I strive to be more cerebral than most average movie magazines, but not as clinical or challenging as something like Sight And Sound magazine - see here. Somewhere between the two is where I try to bed myself.

Since I started this blog on New Year's Eve 2010, I've written about 60 articles, covering the history of pornography (which I know I need to finish, and I will... eventually), through to the absurd laws of censorship in Australia, to whether a film can ever go too far in its depiction of violence and gore. I've also stirred up controversy by attacking certain labels for their poor work and shoddy products, but at the same time, had contact from low-budget British film-makers and university graduates (you know who you are) who enjoy my work and have contacted me in confidence, to say as such.

I don't write to get large numbers of readers. I know that 10,000 views these days, is mere peanuts. It's nothing. Some blogs get that number of hits, each week. It's taken my blog two-and-a-half-years to get to that number, so I am under no illusion about this tiny, but not insignificant figure. My writing is primarily for me. It's the kind of article I would like to read about. However, I do hope that what I write is also enjoyable and thought-provoking enough to be of interest to others too. And clearly, it is. For those of you who visit my little corner of the Web, I just want to say a huge great Thank You. Without you folks, all of these meanderings, would be worthless.

Cheers to each and every single one of you, and here's to the next milestone!

Friday, 10 May 2013

An Observation: Why We Need Leveson More Than Ever!

Welcome Back, Folks,

This is just a short post today, and whilst I appreciate it's not related to extreme cinema in any way, shape or form, I hope you will forgive me this minor indulgence. On the 26th April 2013, the following allegation headline was posted on the Front Cover of the DAILY MAIL newspaper:

Note, the very large, very visible headline, that is bigger than the name of the paper itself! Even if you didn't purchase it, you may have seen the story as you walked past your local newsagent. (Note the use of quotation marks around the word "raped". That's to avoid any potential libel proceedings from the alleged rapist, in case the Daily Mail story is wrong, inaccurate or unfair.)

Last Friday, on Page 34, concealed in the top right-hand corner, was this:

In the article, the alleged "rapist" has been fully-cleared of any and all wrongdoing, by a jury. Which is great, except that this poor man's name and character has been utterly destroyed, thanks in-part to the editor of the Daily Mail!

The Tabloids, and most of the current UK newspaper industry, are happy to plaster someone over their front-pages to blacken their name, but when it comes to reporting that that same individual has been cleared of all charges, and is 100% innocent, they bury the response in the back of the paper in tiny, bible-sized print. (The apology was about 1/8th the size of the original headline, and buried towards the back of the paper!)

The Mail is not the only paper guilty of this, but it is this kind of insidious behaviour that makes me feel that we need Leveson more than ever before. (See  this  previous blog article of mine, for more background info on the Leveson Inquiry.) We need an organisation, that has the power to force all newspapers to admonish the editors that don't play by the rules, and that gives anyone - famous or ordinary mere mortal - the right to have their name cleared in the same fashion that it was originally besmirched.

In other words, if you do as the Daily Mail did, and plaster your front cover with an allegation, then the person who has had their name defamed all over the front cover, should have the automatic right to see the apology and evidence that the same individual has been cleared of all wrongdoing, plastered in the same manner: on the same page as the original story; in the same size font; with the same size prominence!

None of this "report the allegation on Page 1 for everyone to see", and then "bury the outcome that the allegation was false, wrong, inaccurate, on Page 34 in tiny print, where only readers of the paper will see it".

Leveson was right to demand a Royal Charter that recommends a new and totally independent organisation which would have the right to impose a range of sanctions, including but not limited to fines and forcing editors to place prominent apologies and corrections in a similar manner to the way the original story was published. Sadly, what has happened, has seen the Press moan and whinge that they are unwilling to sign-up to any organisation or committee with any actual teeth or power, and instead, what we now have, is nothing more than another variation of the Press Complaints Commission (PCC): a toothless, useless organisation run by the Press, for the Press. And this new PCC, will not force editors to correct errors and fallacies. It will not fine editors or publications. It will not be neutral. It will be an organisation that the Press run for their own benefit.

How utterly worthless, and what a waste of two years worth of time, and hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayers money, to arrive back exactly where we started: with a Press who don't care how they get stories, and with editors who don't care if a story they publish about a victim is not actually true.

Considering that the Jimmy Savile scandal - see  here  for the time-line, or  here for the overview - is still running, with numerous celebrities being caught-up, then named and shamed as being "alleged sex offenders", then it defies belief that the Press are happy to allow others to be blackened, but woe betide anyone who dares to point out the Press's own hypocrisy, lies, deception and failings, (just as the Leveson Inquiry did). And we're not talking about ordinary members of the public being interviewed by the police on potential sex offences and charges of alleged paedophilia. We're talking here of some major names, being questioned (though I should state NOT CHARGED) by the Metropolitan Police. Names such as Rolf Harris, Jim Davidson, Max Clifford, Jimmy Tarbuck and Bill Roach.

A few days ago, we had Stuart Hall - presenter of the UK edition of 1970's and 80's TV game show IT'S A KNOCKOUT - admit in court to 13 separate charges of Indecent Assault against 13 young women, aged from a 9 year old girl, up to women in their late-teens, despite him previously saying that all of the allegations were lies!

Since the Savile Scandal broke at the end of 2012, the Press is happy to name-and-shame anyone - celebrity or not - at the merest whiff of a sensational "story", even if that "story" turns out to be false, incorrect or just an outright lie. The results of the Leveson Inquiry aren't over yet, though, but right now, it does look like the Press can have their cake and eat it, if last Friday's Daily Mail is anything to go by!

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

How To Do A Proper Press Release or Keeping Your Customers Informed The Correct Way!

Thanks to the  MelonFarmers  for pointing me to this article.

If you want to keep your fans informed, a good Press Release is imperative, especially in the world of cult films being released onto DVD and Blu-Ray. As fans, collectors, customers, we seek out the best versions, the most complete editions, the ones with the most generous extras. I'm sure, like many of you, there are some films that you own different editions of, because as a cult film collector, you want everything. I own four different editions of CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST: three on DVD, and one on Blu-Ray. I'll probably end-up purchasing a fifth version, when Grindhouse Releasing release their Blu-Ray Special Edition in the final quarter of 2013!

I know I've complained about Arrow in previous posts for not keeping fans informed of problems, but in the USA, Don May Jr who runs Synapse Films knows how to do just that.  This  is how you do it!

Yesterday, he posted a long and detailed  PR release pertaining to Synapse's forthcoming Blu-Ray release of STREET TRASH (1987, J. Michael Muro) explaining exactly what had happened, what had caused the delay, the problems this had caused, and what he - and by extension Synapse Films - were going to do to sort this all out, so that you - the customer - got the best release of the film possible: the best release that you truly deserve. A release worthy of any discerning film fan!

You can read the PR release at the link above. Even if you have no interest in the film itself, I would still recommend reading the link, because this shows you how cult film companies should keep their fans informed! Rather than denying something, or brushing-off complaints, you deal with the problems, head-on. If only all cult film companies acted in this same, efficient manner, where possible.

This  is what happened on an earlier release from Synapse. Again, look at the details they gave to their fans/purchasers/customers. All DVD and Blu-Ray companies should learn from Synapse's examples! This is the way you do things!

I know I've been harsh on them in the past, though not without just cause, but Arrow Video has improved, with their recent Mario Bava releases being problem-free and being very, very good in terms of picture and audio quality. Yet I still think Arrow need to learn from past mistakes, in the way they run things. I make no bones about this, when I say I truly dislike Cult Labs Forums, because of the constant and excessively fanboy-ish nature of the site, where only praise and positive discussions are allowed, but anything remotely negative results in immediate bans. Despite Arrow, or at least a representative of them saying  here  that Arrow is not directly affiliated with Cult Labs Forums, as far as the fans/purchasers/customers are concerned, it appears that CLF is linked to it. And the Cult Labs Facebook page is little better. It implies a link, even if there may not be a direct link at all. It's even promoted on the backs of most Arrow Video releases, and is trailered on their films. Thus, it seems that Arrow want to be linked with Cult Labs Forums, and on the other, you have a representative seemingly appearing to deny the link. Arrow seems incredibly indecisive once more. Not exactly unheard of, as regular blog fans will know from previous articles I've written on Arrow.

Cult film and horror movie companies can live or die with their after-sales customer service. Arrow still has room to improve, but if it does, it could be like Synapse: a company that really respects its customers, and a company that the customers truly respect back. A few more problem-free releases, and I may readjust my opinion on Arrow Video.

Best of luck to Synapse! I hope that the issues they have with their impending Blu-Ray release of STREET TRASH works out for them!