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Zift (2008)
40 out of 55 people found the following review useful:
Finally, we're rolling., 2 January 2009

I remember when I first heard about "Zift" some months before it was released and I couldn't believe what I had just heard and then I watched the trailer and I couldn't believe what I saw and when I finally saw the film back in early October I remember leaving the theatre with a big grin on my face, thinking how I just saw something I thought would never happen. Wonderful so very wonderful, I don't know if it can revive Bulgarian cinema, I think it's too far gone already, but I'll be definitely following Javor Gardev's career from this point on. The man shows promise as a director who thinks outside the box. Compared to that meatwagon of stale films that get made here from time to time, Zift is revolutionary in it's visual style, narrative and plot.

Opening with a reference to Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction, "Zift" is the story of a man nicknamed Moth, no real name is ever mentioned. Right now Moth is a prisoner and it's the 1960s which in Bulgaria meant hardcore Communist regime, Moth was in prison before that regime came to power, but that's beside the point for now. What matters is that he's getting released today and he's all to keen in getting as far away as possible, but not before paying last respect to some prison guard he didn't really like. Result, Moth gets punched, knocked down, guards throw him out of the prison, then a car with some military officer comes along and they take Moth to some crummy place and they start torturing him. Apparently they are looking for some diamond... and it's going to be one hell of a long day for Moth and that's all I'm going to say about the story.

From the start "Zift" tells you how this is going to play out, I don't mean that it's predictable or anything, what I'm talking about is style. The dialogue, the characters, the film has a quirky pitch black sense of humor, like the zift Moth likes chewing, it's not something that can appeal to everyone, and it might seem vulgar or profane or whatever, but it has it's lyrical value, it just adds up. Every story told by a character, however humorous or shallow it might seem, has it's own kind of wisdom to it, though not necessarily connected to the storyline. The film feels both distinctly western and distinctly Bulgarian, or Balkan to be more general, because it uses a storyline similar to that of the American Pulp novels (Zift itself is an adaptation of a pulp novel), film noirs and then the character stereotypes (femme fatales, anti hero protagonist) and all these elements get mixed together with Bulgarian culture and stereotypes, resulting in what I dare say, a quite original and refreshing piece of cinematic wonder.

Visually speaking "Zift" is all high contrast black and white goodness, a tasty treat for anyone who values the classic two color scheme. Essential for it's narrative structure is a series of flashbacks explaining, character relationships and background stories and depending on the flashback (a 1930s something maybe, 1940s, or modern time in the film's time frame 1960s) we get a scene shot on different film. So for example the 1960s part of the film is shot on 35mm while the earliest on 8mm, thus giving "Zift" a substantially different look for each time segment. I have to mention something about the acting and while I liked Zahary Bahalov as Moth, he played him with a lot of bravado, my hat goes down to the supporting cast, including the great Djoko Rosic as a priest who consoles Moth, and a whole lot of other actors who gave the film a strong energy boost.

And while it does have its own share of flaws(the ending felt rushed) and it might seems as if it's going nowhere, and some scenes might seem pointless to the overall plot, Zift is, nevertheless, high quality entertainment, an example in genre film-making, stylish and sharp-edged. The least to say about Javor Gardev's debut is that it's an opening to a promising career.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
You can't really hate it, 2 January 2009

This is a curious little film by Korean director Gee-woong Nam, basically an underground low budget feature, that combines surreal and cyberpunk imagery with the classic revenge plot. There are some interesting decisions in the visual aspect of the film which could be described as either good or bad depending on your taste, however it suffers from poor pacing and an unsynchronized soundtrack and you get this feeling that maybe the film makers should have spend a bit more time in the editing room.

The story is about, well, the story is about exactly what the title implies. A young schoolgirl turns hooker in the night, playing around with customers in some rather perverse scenarios, date rape, she calls it. Basically the customer pays to, chase, confront and have sexual intercourse with the girl, unfortunately when that moment occurs in the film they begin to... do their thing nearby the house of a lady who later turns out to be the mother of our unlucky heroine's schoolteacher. The teacher confronts the girl, the girl strikes a bargain, followed by a weird dance scene, followed by the date rape thing again, followed by a scene where the girl says to the teacher that she loves him and then it gets interesting. I won't spoil that much, put from that point on the film picks the pace, gets pleasantly weirder, more interesting and outright violent. The ending was a bit random though.

Visually the film is impressive considering its budgetary limitations Gee-woong pulls quite a few rabbits out of the hat and succeeds in making the film feel, if not by much, at least a little artistic. The shootout scenes are handled well enough showing of some impressive camera work, during the last few scenes. Some use of light, and wonderful design concepts further strengthen the film's appeal. The score on the other hand, like that ending felt random, tracks from different genres and time periods interwine and while that is hardly a minus, what bothered me was that these tracks, most of the times, hardly felt right. Just didn't fit the mood in the specific scene.

It's a short little film with a long title and you can't really hate it, knowing how hard it must have been for these people to write, shoot and edit the footage into an enjoyable if a bit forgettable 60 minute surreal/cyberpunk/revenge film.

27 out of 38 people found the following review useful:
More Japanese splatter, more goodness, 2 January 2009

Blood is a very important thing, I mean very important. Without it people, mammals in general, birds, fish, lizards, hell even insects tend to die. I'm afraid that is indeed true, luckily for us "Tokyo Gore Police" teaches us that an ordinary human body contains enough blood to put the entire European continent under water... under blood really. But blood can be very helpful, amazing I know, but "Tokyo Gore Police" shows us how we can use this completely ordinary not-so-interesting combination of some cells and some plasma as a stylish fashion accessory for our daily clothes. Even more, blood can help a human being fulfill one of his most ancient, ever since that video on youtube with that guy running around flapping his arms, and holy desires, namely to fly. To do so you must simply cut off or saw of your legs from the knee down and the endless gush of arterial blood will do the rest. Blood can also be used for offensive purposes, to accomplish this we must simply combine ordinary blood tissue with some brain and voila, bloody brain bullets with some nice visual and physical effect, also that way you can save some iron, some petrol, some gun powder thus ending the Financial crisis.

But "Tokyo Gore Police" teaches us so much more. Here are some short descriptions of the wisdom and brilliance director Yoshihiro Nishimura and writers Kengo Kaji and Sayako Nakoshi demonstrate in this film, in no particular order: - don't ever get on the wrong side with a woman who has jaws for legs. - on that same note, sex really hurts. - I mean really really hurts. - The worst thing that can happen to you if you're a policeman wearing a modern samurai armor is your friend, comrade and colleague trying to kill you with his penis. - having four katanas instead of four limbs looks kind of awesome. - having four machineguns instead of four limbs looks kind of awesome. - if you're planning on doing a chainsaw duel with a friend, don't do it in a crowded area, people might get hurt, oh, what am I saying. - don't ever buy one of those fist firing miniguns, pretty useless stuff.

And if that's not all, "Tokyo Gore Police" continually mocks itself, in a way, satirizing the whole violence-obsessed media by means of mock commercials, much in the same ways as Paul Verhoven did in his classic "Starship Troopers".

And if you seriously think "Tokyo Gore Police" is more cynical than some random action blockbuster just because it shows actual violence on screen, you need to rethink your moral values.

Seriously now, it's a wonderful splice of pure Japanese splatter, that doesn't takes itself seriously, but is actually pretty smart and inventive monster of a film. And running at 2 hours long it never bores with its head-on, full throttle pace, the only thing you could wish for is a sequel. Yoshihiro Nishimura, Kengo Kaji, Sayako Nakoshi a tip my hat off to you sirs, because this is a film worthy of the title: bloody brilliant.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Watch it for what it is., 14 August 2008

Directed by Tomoo Haraguchi "Kibakichi" is an entertaining piece of samurai goodness. Using a traditional Kurosawaesque plot, throwing some fantasy/horror elements, some decent amount of gore and you get 90 minutes of exploitation cinema with a moral. Fun stuff.

Samurai werewolf Kibakichi wonders into an old town populated by Yokai (Japanese demons) and aids them against the treacherous humans trying to destroy them. And there you have it, the plot in one sentence. Of course there's more to it, as first Kibakichi questions the morality of the Yokai(they eat humans). Must deal with some personal issues in a subplot that is left unresolved. Must be moved by the Yokai's peaceful ways (sort of) and the bond they share. Must decide to leave town. Must hear the evil human traitors arrive in town with their samurai and machine guns. Must go slaughter humans in full kill mode.

It's a fun film, a remainder of the 70s and 80s chambara flicks, where gore and fantasy elements mingled together creating some ludicrously fun action scenes. Choreography and sword play are decent enough and Haraguchi shot those scenes well enough. The gore is cheesy, blood fountains are cool, but it's the creature design that really shines. Reminiscent of the old monster movies, they are what sets Kibakichi apart and are really enjoyable in a B-movie kinda way. And did I mention machine guns? Yes I think I did, but for those of you not listening, there are machine guns here, more like mini-guns to be precise and that is so cool.

We can talk about acting, but that's not really a point in these kind of films. Yes you get this kind of in your face melodrama, but it's not all too unbearable plus the film isn't really marketed as an emotional experience. Otherwise the acting was fairly decent meaning it doesn't get all too annoying.

Although in it's core "Kibakichi" is a cheesy samurai/monster film, it does tackle the issue of racism well enough. Specifically racism in Japanese society which, let's face it, even today is obviously present with foreigners and Japanese of mixed blood living in Japan don't get always get equal treatment.

If you're in the mood for a high powered, kick ass, samurai exploitation flick, then Kibakichi is a good recommendation. Tomoo Haraguchi did well with this film, here's hoping the sequel is as good as this one

5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Another example of tour de force film-making from Shinya Tsukamoto, 12 August 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A visually stunning experiment in motion picture storytelling Shynia Tsukamoto's "Bullet Ballet" is a semi-revenge tale, semi-philosophical examination of the human condition. It explores themes and ideas concerning both the moral and social collapse of the modern man. As his earlier works such as "Tetsuo" and "Tokyo Fist" Tsukamoto uses the visual representation, the composition of individual scenes, minimalist colour palette, in this case a wonderfully sharp contrast between black and white, to express his ideas rather than just bombarding us with excessive amounts of expository dialogue.

From the opening Goda (Shinya Tsukamoto) seems content with his life. He has a nice job working as a commercial director, has a long term girlfriend, and at the moment he is sitting at a table apparently drinking. The phone rings, its his girlfriend. They have a nice little chat, and Goda seems pleased, and why shouldn't he be, everything is alright. The conversation ends, Goda returns home and finds his girlfriend dead. She killed herself. She killed herself with a gun. Goda doesn't understand why, everything was alright, just a minute ago they were talking on the phone and now she killed herself. She killed herself with a gun. Goda is lost. He is standing in front of an old mirror in a old room, drops of water violently hitting a half-dead cockroach on the floor, Goda raises his hand, as if a gun, he aims at his reflection, tense, and pulls the imaginary trigger three times. Titles roll "Bullet Ballet", a dance of death.

A dance of death, is the easiest way to describe the movie itself, but not in the usual way mind you. Bullet Ballet is more concerned with its characters and their lack of… connection, to put it bluntly, with the world, as Goda becomes obsessed with his girlfriend's death he tries to acquire the same gun with which she shot herself. Meanwhile he meets up with this girl he once helped, and gets in trouble with some guys from the gang she's in. The girl,Chisato(Kirina Mano), is on first impression simply suicidal, but that is just first impression. Goda's obsession grows, hardened by a burning desire for revenge against the gang, he sets out to make his own gun. And then it hits us, the reality of the situation, just hints at first, but even so it is becoming clear what is happening to this man. The gun, you see, is simply a metaphor, and of course it is a metaphor for death. He wants to understand his girlfriend's death, but he is losing himself in the process. He is losing his connection to life. Reason for being? He has none. And as the story slowly rolls forward, there is this impression that the dance of death is really the idea of facing death, witnessing death, surviving death, and then being reborn again. This idea comes the observation of the relationship between Goda and Chisato, the two characters obviously seem connected by their disconnection from the outside world. They understand each other. In a way they are one character split in two, with each segment providing hints to the overall motivation of the two. Chisato provides proof that Goda is dancing with death like she is, while Goda's past hints to a traumatic experience that lead Chisato to her current disposition.

The final scene is the catharsis of the story, when the two characters finally experience all the chaos, finally witnessing all the death, seeing its effect on others, are free from their emotional blockage.

Shinya Tsukamoto wrote, directed and produced "Bullet Ballet". He was also in charge of lightning, set design … and played a leading role. The man, much like his Tetsuo is a machine, a one man film crew. Chu Ishikawa, as usual, does the soundtrack and what a soundtrack it is, as percussive industrial music hits you like a jackhammer in some of the more dark scenes. While a gentler, more depressing, yet nevertheless more optimistic tune is composed for the film's ending scene.

Beyond all the horror of death, beyond all the disturbing scenes of violence, beyond the sociopathic behavior, "Bullet Ballet" shines with its search for humanity at the darkest places, at the darkest moments, at the darkest times.

3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
The reason they invented cinema was to create "Tetsuo The Iron Man", 9 July 2008

"Tetsuo The Iron Man" was shot with practically no budget, with a lot of dedication, with a lot of hard work and with a lot of talent. "Tetsuo The Iron Man" is the brainchild of Japanese film director Shinya Tsukamoto and it is a brilliant piece of industrial cinema. 60 or so minutes of mind blowing, psychedelic images, moving at 200 miles an hour, it is violent and it is disturbing and it is like nothing you've ever seen before.

There is a man obsessed with metal to the point that he insert various metallic parts on his body. There is another man, an average guy, a salaryman, he has a girlfriend and a small apartment. He's a nobody who's about to become a somebody or rather a something, when he hits the metal fetishist while driving along with his girlfriend. The two dump the body in a nearby forest, then they have sex just a few meters away from the man they thought they killed. The fetishist survives of course, and plots his revenge. Soon after the salaryman begins to notice strange changes to his body. Metal starts to grow all over his body slowly consuming his flesh while at the same time fending of the metal fetishist, who uses mechanical parasites to take control of people to attack our slowly-turning-into-a-man-of-iron protagonist. This, of course, all leads to a one-on-one confrontation between the two and a bizarre but extremely satisfying ending.

Tetsuo is really the essence of Tsukamoto's cinema. It's a demonstration of his trademark style, that he uses, in various degrees, in his latter films. Shot entirely in black and white with most of the time using hand-held camera Tsukamoto keeps you up close and personal with all the carnage going on screen. It's hyper kinetic punch-you-in-the-teeth narrative, doesn't rely on dialogue but on action to tell the story. Visual metaphors play an extremely strong part in understanding the underlying message of the film. The themes of - man becoming machine, man becoming more and more dependent to machines, is beautifully explained through the disturbing special effects, stop motion animation (really, really awesome), make up, through characters or simply through the Japanese industrial landscape. The presence of the sexual element in the film is crucial as it sets the tone for the final confrontation where it becomes obvious that this really isn't about revenge or anything of the sort, it's about this strange relationship between two men/machines. Call it a love story if you would.

The soundtrack composed by Chu Ishikawa is a perfect match for Tetsuo. Raw, violent and destructive industrial music comes together with a raw, violent and destructive industrial movie, to the point you can't really separate the two. You can't listen to the OST without Tetsuo and you can't watch Tetsuo without OST.

Final verdict. This isn't something you watch while drinking beer or eating popcorn or whatever. It's not exactly what you call a comfortable movie and definitely not for the squeamish. Nevertheless as clichéd as it sounds, it is like nothing you've ever seen and in my opinion it is a cinematic masterpiece.

59 out of 88 people found the following review useful:
Gunslinger poetry, 18 February 2008

If Sergio Leone's Once Upon A Time is considered an ode to the American Western with all it's fundamental elements all packed neatly in an 3 and a half hour package of visual splendor than Takashi Miike's Sukiyaki Western Django is an ode to the Italian Western through and through with all the style, violence and sound that Leone brought to the art of cinema and Sergio Corbucci used to create his most famous work "Django". A visual feast, Miike's tribute to Corbucci's work is the poetic equivalent of Tarantino's own tribute to the Italian Western (and some other cult genres) Kill Bill.

Set around, in a strikingly offbeat way to, the 12th century Heike/Genji clan wars Sukiyaki Western Django is the tale of a mysterious gunman (played by Hideoki Ito) who comes into a nearly deserted once prospering town now controlled by the two rival groups. In a sense this is the Italian West going back to its roots, it's no secret Leone was greatly inspired by the works of Akira Kurosawa with Yojimbo serving as the blueprints for the maestro's own breakthrough with A Fistful of Dollars. Corbucci's own Django used the same basic premise and now Miike follows. After some flashy display of skill, and some attempts from the two clans to persuade him to join one of them the Gunman is persuaded by Ruriko one of the few residents who remain to help the townspeople. A series of flashbacks reveal much of the background and motives behind the two clans arrival. They also open the pathway to a subplot revolving around a tragically destroyed Genji/Heike family which plays a major part in the main plot. For those of you who deem themselves Tarantino fans will have much to be happy about as Tarantino plays a bad-ass, poncho-wearing gunslinger named Ringo who introduces us to the Heike/Genji conflict and plays an important part later on.

Style is of the essence and style is what Sukiyaki has. Though a tribute to Django this is nevertheless pure Miike cinema, expect that same weird humor, surreal kinetic action, with some sexual cues (although much restrained compared to some of his previous endeavors) he's become renowned for. It's a non stop joy ride beautifully shot, the impressive set design and backgrounds, the great costumes and yes a machine gun in coffin scene, pure poetry. This is not about realism, it is not about creating a believable world but about a world that responds to the mood that adapts according to it. The final showdown represents a collision of two worlds, two genres it is the ultimate fusion of samurai and western films, the duel between the gun and the sword. There are some lovely little references only noticeable to the more vigorous Django fans, and a truly awesome ending.

What might be my only gripe with Sukiayki is the choice of language. Having the Japanese cast speak in broken-down English does sort of lessen the experience not by much comparing to some of the horrendous English dubs in some Italian Westerns but still it would have been preferable using a Japanese language track with an optional English one. That's to say the dialogue itself is a pastiche of noticeable one-liner clichés, over the top silly yet listening to entire dialogues stitched together from over used lines has a remarkably refreshing effect on those lines.

Koji Endo composes the soundtrack, it is not his first time working with Miike and hopefully won't be the last. For the film he combined, the typical Morricone-sque western music with that of the Japanese samurai flick in a modern just lightly rock adaptation.

Sukiyaki Western Django pays homage to what is now a dead genre. Dead but not forgotten. Not by Takashi Miike who uses the tools of the Italian Western to bring forth his own vision, his own take on a story well known and loved and it is a true gem.

22 out of 26 people found the following review useful:
The modern reincarnation of a Greek tragedy, 27 January 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

After his chilling horror "Session 9" Brad Anderson continues his journey exploring the darkest depths of the human mind with "The Machinist". This review is not meant to just show the aesthetic and structural qualities Anderson's movie has, but also to distance it from the impression of being a "Fight Club rip-off". The review CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS on both The Machinist and Fight Club and should only be read by people who have already seen these two movies.

Those who are familiar with Aristotle's view on art and specifically the mimesis and catharsis theories will find similarities here, or should I say an exact match to his idea for a "tragedy". "The Machinist" mimics the real world. It is not a supernatural or fantasy story, but something possible in the context of reality keeping to the "mimesis" theory (art should be something that imitates life, stays close to the rules on what is possible). The protagonist, a machinist, is plagued by insomnia and weight loss, the reason for this suffering isn't explained from the start, but later on. We sympathize with him, with the problems this man, Trevor Reznik, has. Why should an innocent, suffer like that, we ask. Why should he be punished if he hadn't committed a crime? The tragic catharsis, writes Aristotle, is the moment when the protagonist's sin is revealed, when we, the audience learn that the punishment he has received isn't unjust, when we know that innocence isn't subjectable to punishment, sin is. Scott Kosar wrote a Greek tragedy, Brad Anderson brought it to life.

The atmosphere? A bleak, nearly colorless look, sadness and dread combined. The gloomy melancholy, jitters the mind. Christian Bale's dedication to his craft is outstanding he takes it to a whole new level. What he underwent for this role, the performance, a range of emotions ranging from fear, shock, paranoia, regret,sorrow. It was more than Oscar-worthy, it was unreal. Director Brad Anderson creates tension and unease at places you wouldn't think it was possible, he delivers surprise after surprise in what may seem more like a hellish roller-coaster ride, then a traditional thriller. A low key musical score, perfect choice, for the tone. Quite a catching opening tune.

"The Machinist", it seems, ends with questions unanswered. The main plot line has been completed but some mechanisms that lead towards the conclusion are a bit fogged out of perception. Nonetheless they are there. The movie is, of course, open for interpretation and the following is simply my take on some of the sub-plots and characters.

On the opening scene. The opening scene is as we've learned, not a chronological first, but a sequence taken from the latter stage. Why? It exists as: –a stylistic approach to create tension, to grab the audience's attention from the start. –an early tip for the mystery the movie has (note Reznik's reaction, the shock in his eyes when dumping the body and when "someone" flashes him with a flashlight).

On the insomnia, weight loss and Ivan. The insomnia and Ivan are the reasons for "The Machinist" being a "Fight Club" ripoff argument. There were movies that used such ideas before Fight Club, Lynch's Lost Highway for example, it's nothing all too original. What these elements represent that is what's important. In "The Machinist" they are the punishment Trevor's guilt inflicts on him. We've all experienced guilt at one point or the other, and we know it can have an effect. Here that effect is taken to the extreme. Fight Club on the other hand had the Narrator's insomnia and split personality, Tyler Dyrden, created from frustration, his inability in adapting to the status quo, he can't sleep because he cannot see a reason for his existence, he makes Tyler who gives him a reason. Ivan is not a split personality, he doesn't take control over the protagonist's body like Tyler, no one except Reznik has seen or heard of him, he is a manifestation like Nicholas or Marie, he is the projection of sin and Trevor in the past. The Trevor who caused the accident, he will repeat it again in order to guide Bale's character to the truth.

On how Trevor Reznik lost his memory about the accident. During the sequence at the theme park where Trevor and Nicholas are walking through the dark tunnel, Trevor notes the similarities between his childhood and Nicholas's current life. Both lacked or lack a father-like figure in their life both are in a good relationship with their mothers. This is not an accident, since Nicholas is merely one of the manifestations in Reznik's subconscious mind there is little doubt that he is also a mirror image of Trevor as a young boy living with his mother. His subconscious guilt fills the gaps and fleshes out the two fictional characters using bits and pieces of his past life. This is done in order to make the two manifestations become believable to Trevor's now doubtlessly distorted perception. If Nicholas is in fact Trevor then what happened to Nicholas during the ride through "Route 666" is what actually happened to Trevor shortly after the accident. Epileptic shock as explained by Marie causes loss of memory "he will forget it ever happened". And indeed Trevor forgot, partially, in his subconscious the memory still existed.

Complex but structurally sound "The Machinist" is the dark, modern reincarnation of a Greek tragedy. Twisted and disturbing, sad but liberating, Scott Kosar, Brad Anderson and Christian Bale create a work of high caliber. Not something that can be enjoyed the way a Hollywood Blockbuster can be enjoyed, it is exhausting, yet pleasing in its own way.

Dust Devil (1992)
1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
The "High Plains Drifter" of horror, 11 January 2008

A mesmerizing look into African lore and ghost stories, Richard Stanley's Dust Devil is an ingeniously crafted piece of cinematic marvel. A Sergio Leone western imbued with supernatural horror and surrealism it is a self-destructive journey filled with sorrow and regret.

Loosely based around the stories of a Namibian serial killer "Dust Devil" is the supernatural tale of a creature, ancient as the earth itself. He takes many forms, wandering throughout the deserts, searching not for salvation but for Death. He is attracted to those (if only subconsciously) wishing, praying for their own demise. Hungry for souls he can only offer his prey a less painful death. The true gruesomeness comes afterwards, the flesh is torn, the body severed, some parts eaten, the blood is drained and used for what it seems a ritual, the whole act after the death is a ritual. That thing caring the disguise of a man (John Robert Byrke), that Dust Devil as the people of the Namib had named him, takes a finger from his victim as a souvenir and leaves, searching for the next one. On his trail is a broken-down police detective tortured by his own inner demons. He chases the Dust Devil refusing to believe that maybe he is dealing with something supernatural. A woman, runs away from her husband, she travels past the SAR border and into Namibia. The dying town of Bethany is where she first crosses paths with the creature. There will be some romance, beliefs will be put to the test, there will be regret and there will be blood.

"Dust Devil" has this gloomy mystical atmosphere like a "High Plains Drifter" or a "Once Upon A Time in The West", whichever you prefer. The way the story is told, through small hints rather than a complete explanation about everything, it leaves room for interpretation. The way the tension builds up from the opening introduction to the Dust Devil legend and with every bit of information we learn about him after wards until the culmination. There isn't an explosion, and the tension doesn't leave after the credits start rolling, it stays with you for sometime.

Surreal imagery combined with what looks like an Italian western. Marvelously shot. The scenery combined with the Leone-sque camera-work, the least to say is that it's beautiful. The lifeless desert becomes a character of its own, brought to life thanks to Richard Stanley's stylistic choices. Simon Boswell's grim score is a perfect match to the movie's feel, endless torment for those involved in the plot.

Stanley's choice for a small cast is a good one, not just for financial concerns. The trio leading characters are fleshed out, whether likable or not, when the final confrontation comes you know you've learned everything you need to learn about them. The acting is sort of a mish mash, there some things that could've been done better I suppose but still overall pretty good stuff.

"Dust Devil" is what "High Plains Drifter" would have been had Eastwood pumped up the supernatural factor. It's a horror movie with superb atmosphere and griping plot, shot brilliantly. A forgotten masterpiece, Richard Stanley crafts artistic terror equal to some of the greatest classics in the horror genre.

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Exploitation for the nerves…, 3 January 2008

I like exploitation cinema. I like the cheesy violence and sex, the low quality scripts and no budget direction that comes with the genre. It's fun brainless carnage packed with oddities and quirks used by directors whom while trying to score a buck or two also test the censorship boundaries to their limit and sometimes succeed in making something that really stands out. With that cleared, H.G. Lewis's The Wizard of Gore is a forgettable piece of trash with a sort of interesting concept behind it. It's not about it being bellow the standard grindhouse experience, the splattery violence is indeed present here, no it's about the presentation, specifically about the lack of such.

A magician performs tricks. Tricks never before seen, tricks of a gruesome violent nature. In the opening titles he cuts his head with a guillotine, shortly after reemerges fully intact. After a short introduction and a few minor tricks he chooses a volunteer from the audience, a woman, it's always a woman. Straps her on a bed and then proceeds to cut her in half with a chainsaw. All is done in clear view, and we see everything. He plays with her guts and innards and suddenly, just like that, she is whole again. Returns to her seat and shortly after the show is over dies the same way she was torn in two by the chainsaw.

Lovely little idea for a horror and I must admit it was the reason why I chose to watch "The Wizard of Gore". The quality of the movie didn't matter much back then as I mentioned already, I like the low-grade cheesy stuff. But the surprise of just how bad that quality is came as complete shock to my senses. It was low, lower than that which I had found entertaining and even lower than that which I found dull. The only possible comparison I can think of is Michael Bay doing a no budget film. There is no dread for horror. There is no cheese for brainless carnage. There is only some of the worst gore effects, camera work, editing and audio captured on celluloid. It's an endless repetition of the same scene with just slight differences. The horrible gore gets even worse, looks laughable with each passing sequence. So absurd as to how Lewis wants you to believe a mannequin stuffed with red paint is a human body. With every minute it becomes more and more unbearable indeed this truly is a torture show. I'll restrain myself from commenting on the horribly annoying acting since that was never an issue worth noting in such type of film.

The Wizard of Gore is an amateurish film showcasing horror as bad film-making and in a sense it truly is terrifying. Such a shame because a plot like this deserved something better.

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