Sunday, October 10, 2010

Cool Ass Cinema Book Reviews: Horror Host Edition! The (Mad) Doctor's In the House!

THERE ARE NO BAD MOVIES! (Only Bad Audiences)

By Dr. W.E.B. Sarcofiguy

202 pages; softcover; B/W

Dr. Sarcofiguy is one in a long line of distinguished and esteemed characters of what can be viewed as an undying artform--the Horror Host. Situated in the Fairfax, Virginia area, the Doctor is also notable for being the first, and so far only African American horror host. You may have seen his frightening visage recently in such horror and monster mags as Rue Morgue, Fangoria, Horrorhound and Scary Monsters magazines. 

This book (volume 1) is the Doctor's treatise on cynical arm chair critics everywhere and their undeniable "charm" in mercilessly trouncing various movies for any number of reasons mentioned in this frequently funny, wittily written diatribe against those who derive constant pleasure from verbal cinematic destruction. Come to think of it, this would be the perfect book for Rex Reed who seemed to dislike everything save for movies starring the former #1 pin up girl, Betty Grable.

This tome is filled with wry humor and some down right funny cartoon sketches of the Doc displaying his sarcastic sense of humor aimed at his books subjects. The volumes main film focus is on more recent productions ranging from the six STAR WARS pictures to the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy and a string of CGI overloaded superhero movies. The book is a breezy read and one hopes there will be more volumes of the Doctors delectable dissertations.

Hunger (2009) review


Laura Albyn (Maggie), Linden Ashby (Grant), Joe Egender (Luke), Lori Heuring (Jordan), Bjorn Johnson (the scientist)

Directed by Steven Hentges

The Short Version: This SAW styled cannibal dish is reasonably satisfying, although it follows familiar character cliches. Several scenes of sadism are noteworthy and powerful, but after you're done, this movie may leave you hungry for more.

Five people awaken within a dank and dirty dungeon without any recollection of how they got there. There's no food, but the group do find four large barrels of water placed there by their captors. The five frightened victims later come to the conclusion that they are being observed by a madman who has no intentions of allowing them to exit the hellish hole. It's not long before hunger sets in and the five starving captives will do anything to survive.

The one glimmer of hope for these sad individuals is short lived

Yet another in a long line of movies that follow the worn out SAW narrative of several unrelated characters cut off from the outside world and either tortured, or forced into committing acts of atrocity to survive. Here, the central plot device is cannibalism, a theme that has become increasingly popular over the last few years and also the subject of another 'FrightFest' feature, the gruelling GRIMM LOVE (2010). Like the SAW series, these five disconnected characters all try to figure how they are linked to their current predicament. The main thrust of the story is to see how supposedly normal people would act if put in a life threatening situation. But these people, for the most part, aren't so innocent.

This group of people, slowly starving to death from lack of food, reminded me of the gruesome 70's chiller, THE SEVERED ARM (1973) wherin five miners are trapped in a cavein and choose who among them to eat to survive. Help comes, but not before one man has his arm cut off for consumption. Years later, the survivors are being killed off one by one. While the victims of HUNGER never leave their confinement, the dark nature of man seeping forth from his dormant savage tendencies is brought to the forefront.

Occasionally the film is harrowing and several sequences contain a raw power about them. Still, the characters you will in all probability dislike straight from the get go are the ones that ultimately turn vicious leaving the noble personalities to try and fend for themselves. Hentges's movie would have been far more fascinating had he explored the more likable individuals regressing into savagery. As it stands, two maintain their civilized demeanors, two others become less human and the other loses his sanity

You learn little about the mastermind behind this sadistic scheme other than he enjoys watching his victims in torment. His reasons are laid out visually, as opposed to being explained in any great detail. His demented obsession is expounded upon when a young couple are making out nearby and discover the five people trapped below ground. The psychotic scientist is apparently very close by as he shows up and disposes of the two lovers in cold blooded fashion.

Despite utilizing little in the way of effects magic to make the sufferers appear emaciated during their sustenance starved ordeal, the make up artists are successful in making them all look really filthy. The ending borders on ridiculous, but in light of the hopelessly grim and penetrating atmosphere, it's a satisfying conclusion for viewers seeking a glimmer of hope for the ever dwindling cast members. Recommended for those who like slow building, gritty horror and also for cannibal completists.

This review is representative of the lightning Media DVD

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