Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Defending Tom Six Part 2: The Human Centipede 2 and Beyond

Continuing on from yesterday, here is Part 2 of Defending Tom Six: The Human Centipede 2 and Beyond... Caution: Some images and descriptions may not be for the faint-hearted.

This black and white, dialogue-sparse film divided critics on release, with separate calls of it being violence for the sake of violence, or it being a torture porn film to the extreme. The fact of it is that the film is about a mentally challenged, odd looking man who is obsessed with his favourite film, The Human Centipede, and wants to remake it in real life, but with a dozen people. He doesn't speak, his actions are thinly justified, and the film not only doesn't shy away from the onscreen violence, but actually revels in it. So, can The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence) really be defended? 

Just LOOK at him!

Of course it can! And here is why; Tom Six is not a fool. He might be opportunistic in that he knows what to exploit from his films to sell them, but behind all the buzz of the first Human Centipede is an actual decent film. Is HC2 over the top? Yes. Is it disgusting and repulsive? Yes. But the most important question, is it art? And the answer is a resounding yes.

I could spout the cliché of how art always challenges people, but beyond that, this is an extreme form art film. Look back at HC1 and the ridiculous buzz that grew around this godawful film that in the end, is actually rather tame by modern horror standards. The main thing to look at is just how encompassing the reaction was, and just how many times people called Tom Six depraved and demented, even though it was unjustified and undoubtably at least part of the time by people who only had heard about the film's plot. 

Cut to HC2, which is undoubtedly as graphic and twisted as they say it is (with some people saying it is actually boring because of just how nonstop it is with its violence. More on that in a bit). So, Tom Six finally lives up to his well deserved reputation as filth! Huzzah! Actually, not so fast. HC2 is a DIRECT and unmistakable response to the hype and hysteria of HC1. Think about it; this film IS wall to wall grotesque, and it is a world filled with unsavory characters, pretty much none of them worth our sympathy. If Six was going to get lambasted for being a sicko, then fuck it, he will be a sicko. Hell, he acknowledges that the first film WAS just a film, essentially settling this film up as a 'hey, look, we know what you think of the first film, let's talk about that'.

The first film left everything up to the imagination and people still found so much to cause controversy over, so this film offers people exactly what they think they despise but secretly really want (because we all love a bit of sadism, and honestly, having sadism to complain about). The violence is realistic and sickening, make no mistake (though I will admit to seeing a very slightly censored version), but the general reaction, especially after all the hubbub of the BBFC nearly banning the film, has almost been of disinterest, or more importantly, feigning disinterest. Six delivered a film to get up in arms about, and everyone collectively decided to pay it minimal attention. From a business standpoint, that must be frustrating, but from an artistic one, Six actually proved something to every one of his detractors; that they weren't paying attention the first time.

HC2 was too obvious in its disgust. People had no interest with something that was blatantly out to shock them. By contrasting the two films, the reaction to the first film was beyond the reaction to the second film (once it eventually came out), regardless of how disgusting the second one is.

And make no mistake, it IS disgusting.

So the intentions of the film are very clear and have major artistic merit. But what about the story? As I mentioned, a lot of reviews say the film was boring and repetitive due to the constant barrage of violence. The argument being that since there was no let up, it was becoming tired with its recurrence (this in itself is a brilliant reaction to evoke, echoing the fable of the man finding one dead body and crying, two bodies and weeping, just passing three bodies, and gradually not caring as the bodies grew more and more), so you could be excused for guessing that the characters are simply killer fodder, but this is not the case. I won't lie, the characters aren't exactly well drawn, but we have all walks of every day life covered, including some that appear to be there just for our guilty mauling, most notably the egocentric actress hoping to impress Quentin Tarantino. You don't really care what happens to these people, because they are caricatures of every day life and the torture of them is akin to making fun of the Kardashians (though in a more extreme manner). 

Damn Kardashians couldn't actually make it to the film...

Our lead character is a particularly horrible number; simple-minded, overweight, silent, conniving. We experience the film almost exclusively through his eyes, and never doubt for one second that he is troubled and up to no good. But then, we get more familiarised with his mother and his sexually perverted doctor. Suddenly, we feel a twinge of guilt for completely hating this lowely character without giving him any due. We should feel awful for assuming that just because he has mental problems that he would be a monster for no other reason. The plot itself is quite thinly drawn, but the exchange of these characters profiles (the beautiful American is deplorable, the fat killer is pitiable), is given plenty of breathing room. 

Speaking of something given plenty of breathing room, the violence (again!) must be mentioned. It is wall to wall, but if it isn't, the point is actually lost. I do question censorship in general, but for this film in particular, it needs to be uncut in many respects. I won't spoil it, but as the violence escalates and we are privey to plenty of bloodshed, there is one violent action that could almost come right out of a Troma film, and that is the point. It clearly says to the viewer 'hey, you know how intense everything has been? Well, it's a film!'. This moment, which I believe may be trimmed in the UK cut, is so vital in the films interpretation. 

So, there you go. The Human Centipede 2 was actually one of the most artistically important films of last year. Plenty of people have compared Six and HC to Jorg Buttgereit and his Nekromantik films, and I am siding that it is an controversial artistic endeavor, but an artistic endeavor nonetheless. The film won't be for everyone, but if you view it as the social commentary it is, you will receive so much more out of your viewing of it.


And the future for The Human Centipede? The third film is in the works and was initially set to have the fictional doctor from the first film with the killer of the second. I'd love to see this play out, but there appear to have been complications with the doctor from HC1. Six is promising a horrendous flick to make HC2 seem tame. This actually worries me slightly because as intense as HC2 is, it is kind of an ending point for the torture porn genre. Just like all alien films hide in the shadows since Alien, nothing should be able to surpass HC2 in terms of violence. I know Six is a savvy business man and knows what to take advantage of, so hopefully he is just being the ringmaster I imagine him to be, but there is a real worry that maybe he has believed the hype about him being a sick monster.

Six, for your own sake, make YOUR film, not the one you think you should make.

Ladies and gentlemen, you can now enjoy The Human Centipede films with a clean conscience!

The Human Centipede 2 is available UNCUT for legal download at a very reasonable price right here. The download includes some great additional features.

Monday, 25 June 2012

The final push for the Sodium Party

We are very close to the end of our Sodium Party campaign over at www.indiegogo.com/sodiumparty, and I would first off like to thank everyone who has been so helpful and generous so far. For everyone else, please check out the link above and consider contributing to our film. We are close to our new goal, and appreciate the help!

Living Dead Girl has just done a great write-up of the film over at her page here. Give it a read if you can, it is a great post!

I would like to answer a few small questions about the campaign to clear things up for people, so you know we are not being foolish about things!

Q. Why have you lowered your goal from $9,500 to $2,500?
A. Initially, we were given quotes for services that amount to about $9,500, but throughout the campaign, things have changed. First off, a very talented individual has donated their time to doing the visual effects of the film. Next, people see the dedication we have to this project and are being very helpful. We are cutting deals to get it all finished at an affordable price (and you can imagine we would give these folks repeat business from now on!). We have decided to leave the digital print for the moment, as this is a high cost when a colour grade is the main goal here and we can put the film out to Digibeta tape quite conveniently. We'd prefer a digital print eventually, but festivals and distributors accept Digibeta quite readily!

Q. But your set goal is $9,500. With these campaigns, don't you have to raise everything or get nothing?
A. That is true with a lot of group funding sites, but not Indiegogo. Everything you contribute will come to us (minus Indiegogo's fees). This is why we can rebudget what we see coming in and reset our goal!

Q. I thought this film was Irish, why is the campaign in dollars and not euro?
A. Because Indiegogo is an American site. We have taken in to account conversions and fees for it, and it should not affect you, the contributor, too much, though some people may be charged a small conversion fee (typically one euro or less).

Q. Why should I contribute to Sodium Party?
A. Because we are a unique Irish feature film. This is a truly independent film, made outside the Film Board and studio control, and we can promise you it is a one of a kind experience! By the time the end credits roll, you will be captivated!

I hope that clears up some questions! Now, please, head over to www.indiegogo.com/sodiumparty right away and help us hit our goal! 

Join the party!

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Defending Tom Six: The Human Centipede

Warning: Though relatively spoiler free, this article contains some graphic descriptions and images from The Human Centipede. You have been warned.

So, people were kind of disgusted and freaked out by The Human Centipede. Let's not lie. If South Park lampoons it without outright calling it stupid, you know there is some deeper respect there. But for all this controversy, there is an awful lot of people who haven't seen the film, or indeed, its sequel. So, are they right to apply such a social taboo on it? And is Tom Six as disgusting a culprit as imagined? Well, it is a mixed bag of an answer.

2010's Human Centipede (First Sequence) is in fact quite a good straight horror film. But why such a kerfuffle around it? Well, in a throwback to the glorious 1950s B-movie, it was just selling itself on shock value. Yes it does contain a 'human centipede' made of people sewn ass-to-mouth (you never go ass to mouth!), and there is blood and surgery and hints of mad-scientist-Nazi doctor and the likes, and when you say it out loud, it is impossible not to say 'Wow! What a messed up film! I have to see that!', but in reality, it is actually a very tasteful affair, as people who have seen it can attest to.

This may in fact be more disturbing 
than 90% of the actual film.

Marketed in such an extreme way, The Human Centipede seemed to promised the most sickening cinematic experience you'd ever wish to behold, and this, coupled with the truth of it being disgusting subject matter, was enough to spark the imagination of the population, regardless of what was actually shown onscreen. What is most interesting is the notoriety it has garnered from people who haven't even seen it. Heck, I am currently one step away from getting Living Dead Girl to check it out, but for years she has used it as a short hand for disgusting. This is the sign of a very powerful film, because though it seems the same stock as Video Nasties, it is actually relatively tame. In fact, if compared with a film like Hostel, one of these films contains excessive amounts of gore and brutality and over the top nastiness. The other is a German horror film. 

If you watch the film itself, you will find it is almost J-horror-like in its style, and with a bit of detective movie thrown in. Director Tom Six's film is slow paced, methodical, and uses suspense as its main operation of horror. The entire film is about will these people escape the mad doctor before it's too late, then it is about can they escape with their lives, and will the police realise their culprit is the man they are speaking to. That's not to say there aren't any grizzly moments to be found, but it is all part of a larger, more arthouse, horror film.

The ingenious part on the producers behalf (Tom Six included) was allowing and perpetrating the illusion that this 'scientifically accurate' film was such an all out gross-fest that you might never be the same after it. It is undoubtedly a solid narrative and well executed, but it also has such a shock factor that it can be sold simply on word of mouth alone. In a time of dozens of zombie films a year, this is the people swallowing poop film. In more ways than one, it is similar to the freak-shows of yore; there are many promises made involving hideous beasts, but once you get inside the tent, it is more medical curiosity than monster. 

You cannot fault the producers for selling the film this way. It's better if all the talk is bad than if there is no talk at all, after all. Six delivered a solid film that is bound to disappoint the grotesque fair in many people's heads, and should be applauded for making a relatively small film a part of pop culture.

But what about its sequel; The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence)? Considered by many as depraved trash, and almost banned in the UK, did Tom Six go too far? Well, this one is a bit harder to excuse, but excused it can be, very rationally.

Which I will go in to in detail in tomorrow's post; Defending Tom Six: The Human Centipede 2 and Beyond...

Saturday, 23 June 2012

New Child's Play Sequel!

Bloody Disgusting have just reported that there is a new Child's Play SEQUEL on the way; The Curse of Chucky! 

I have been a big fan of the series since way back when. Hell, I remember first seeing Bride of Chucky at a schoolfriend's house (with Malaysian subtitles on it, just for extra grindhouse effect), and I remember staying up late on school nights watching SciFi's bizarre show Head Fuck, after a brief clip from Child's Play appeared in its trailer and I became desperate to see it. Eventually, I saw the first three films in order, and loved the ever-loving crap out of them. Something about killer dolls. A bit of a messed up Toy Story, perhaps?

Oh... I forgot... Toy Story already WAS messed up.

Seed of Chucky, the long-in-development-hell sequel was a bit of an odd step, and a lot of people would consider it a misstep, but not me. Sure, it's a but too meta for its own good, but it's stupid, has John Waters and features Hannah from S Club 7 meeting her maker, so it's all good to me!

This new sequel has its own history, of course. Being a very trendy thing to do, the powers that be were thinking about rebooting/remaking Chucky from the ground up, which could have been interesting, but honestly, I think society as a whole is past the killer doll thing. The only way it is scary is when you watch an old film that displaces you from your videophone-24/7 online life. So, a sequel is a very satisfactory route in my humble opinion!

Of course Brad Dourif is back. What kind of Chucky film 
could you make without him!?

According to BD, the film will hark back to the more horror elements of the early films. I don't think Chucky can be scary any more, and he really set the bar for killer dolls as it is, but he has always been a wise-cracker, and with creator and Seed of Chucky writer/director Don Mancini at the helm, I can't imagine this incarnation completely going cold turkey on the one liners. One oddity that seems to have cropped up; no Jennifer Tilly. I'm not a particularly big fan of her character in it, but she is a bit of the mythos now, plus Tilly herself seems to enamoured by the whole series! Ah well, as long as it is intelligent about it and doesn't just retcon her and Glen/Glenda, it should all be good. I suppose they were given quite a satisfactory wrap up in the last installment, so Mancini, do us proud!

Shooting starts in Winnipeg, Canada in September, so my guess is a possible Halloween 2013 release.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Horror hidden in the dark of Ireland

I think by this point it is very evident that I am a massive horror fan, and it is no secret I am also a filmmaker (the main reason I have restrained from reviews, as I harp on again and again in my infrequent posts), and maybe it is time to let you know that these two loves are not separate. I have been trying to hold my tongue until I was in a more solid place, not liking people who get ahead of themselves and put the cart before the horse, but now, I can officially declare that I have written the horror film I want to make as my first feature as director.

While doing a photo shoot in a forest for a college project, Kate and Brendan uncover a passageway in an abandoned and derelict. It leads to darkness and seems to go on in to infinity. Though Kate is cautious, Brendan decides to explore the passage, but ends up disappearing. When he returns, he feels amazing, and his entire demeaner is changed. While trying to figure out what it is, they introduce more friends to the passageway, with everyone feeling amazing after using. But, then, things start to turn when people are unable to control themselves and something inside them starts to take over…

Just some of the many inspirations.

For a country so rich in folklore, it is astounding how minimal the horror output is from Ireland, and what there is tends to err on the side of typical. Now is the time for this film to be made. Bubbling under the surface is a revolution of independent Irish cinema, and we filmmakers are getting louder and louder with our ‘no compromise for money’ ethos. I served as one of the producers on the independent mystery thriller, Sodium Party, and I know that when the right group of people who want to make a good film get together, nothing can stop them. Sure there is a place for trailers and personal assistants, but there are those of us who know that the innovative can make a €10,000 film look like a €500,000 film.

This is what I want to do. I want to make the kind of horror film I would love to see, and this is a film that has been touched on by other filmmakers, but never from the perspective I have wanted to see. Equal parts bed-wetting terror and hair-pulling tension, I am going to make a horror film with an intensely psychological value, much in the vein of masters like David Cronenberg or John Carpenter. I am not saying I am in their league, but Ireland needs someone to try something intelligent and different!  This film will be Hellraiser by way of The Shining, with its toes in Martha Marcy May Marlene, and (as I noticed as I finished writing) a heck of a nod to classic Italian horror of the 70s.

So why this film? Why a passageway into who-knows-what? Well, I have grown up in a time watching people lose sight of what is important in life, including myself, and I have recently lost someone very important to me, which has made me acutely aware that sometimes you have to step back and realise just what it is you are doing. I don’t want to preach, I don’t want to judge, but I do want people to question. Whether that is a cultural or a personal experience will be an individual's own experience.

I hope to procure a relatively workable budget (compared to Sodium Party, anyway!) and know that this film will be made by a talented cast and crew, not by a big budget. A good film involves dozens of people, and there are more than enough talented folk just waiting in the wings! Whether I can find investors, or raise the money with like-minded people, or scrimp and save and shoot it on weekends for a few years, I will make the horror film I want to see, and want the world to see that Irish cinema is able to be exciting and risk-taking. Best of all, I genuinely love making horror films and think this would be a great way to kick it all off to what could be a long road of scares!

If you are interested, please drop me an e-mail at richmwaters@gmail.com. Even if it is just to be kept informed, you are very welcome. The more people who want in, the better! You know I am a horror lover, and I am making this film as a horror lover.

Let’s scare the shit out of em!

Friday, 1 June 2012

Prometheus One Word Review


Suspiria Audio Commentary

You may know that I am a massive fan of audio commentaries, and I am a bit specific about what I like. Typically, unless it is one of the major filmmakers with honest insight, you can write a commentary off as little more than a waste of time. And God forbid you listen to a fan made commentary. That would be just ridiculous.

Well, now, let me recommend what is probably the first bearable (and downright interesting) fan made commentary I have ever heard. Michael MacKenzie of landofwhimsey.com provides an in depth and trivia-filled vocal walk-through of, for my money, Dario Argento's greatest film; Suspiria. 

'But wait, there is already a commentary for Suspiria, on the region 2 UK release, nonetheless' you may say, once again butting in on my typing. But I bought Susipiria before this version became available, and though I do it often, I hate double dipping if I can avoid it. I'm sure the commentary on that release is great (I believe Alan Jones is involved, and he is always a hoot), but if it's not someone fully involved with production, I am a lot less interested. In fact, this commentary linked below is extremely well researched and, though you can tell he has scripted everything he is going to say, it doesn't peak or slag. He isn't spouting off fanboy gestures of 'OH ARGENTO IS GREAT LA LA'. He has obviously done his homework and provides a great insight into one of the greatest visual films ever made, providing interesting trivia and intellectual insight into all aspects.

If you were a fan of Suspiria and want to get a crash course on everything about it, this is the way to go.

You can download the commentary in 2 parts here: http://www.landofwhimsy.com/writings/commentaries.html