Movie Review: American Backwoods: Slew Hampshire (2015)

Extreme Horror, Horror, Horror Comedy, Movie Reviews

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American Backwoods: Slew Hampshire is the deranged brainchild of Flood Reed, who, according to his IMDB profile, is a circus performer and subconscious drifter who likes to appear in the nightmares of children and the occasional LSD-induced hallucination.  However, when he’s not scaring kids and enhancing trips, he sometimes acts in, writes and directs movies. One such movie is the topic of this review: a demented dose of backwoods debauchery that’s already received critical acclaim by winning Rue Morgue Magazines, ”Goriest Scene of the Year Award” and being nominate for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Editing at the 8th Annual Shockfest Film Festival.

A fitting way to describe American Backwoods: Slew Hampshire would be Deliverance (1972) meets Jack Ketchum’s Offspring (2009), although comparing it these films is only a brief indication of what to expect here. American Backwoods is a lethal concoction of hillbilly horror, cannibal caper and creature feature, infused with black humour and copious amounts of violent carnage to create one of the most gleefully gruesome movies you’re likely to see this year.

The story follows a group of 4 guys who set out for one last hurrah at a strip club before college life separates them for the foreseeable future.  They’re a fun bunch of miscreants who just want to see some boobs and find some loose women to engage in sexual acts with; very similar to groups of friends we’ve seen in countless other horror flicks.  Along the way they encounter a creepy professor, an unpleasant gas station attendant and a homosexual police officer who doesn’t appear to be who he says he is. After deeming their vehicle unfit to drive, the police officer calls a mechanic who takes them to his trailer – and prepares them for the hunt.

Up until they reach the trailer American Backwoods is an offbeat bro-comedy that wouldn’t seem out of place as a Harold & Kumar sequel. The strip club is their White Castle and on their journey they meet some oddball characters.  Kudos have to be given for leading the viewer into a false sense of security; just as we start to think it might be a lighthearted romp, it does a complete 180 and drags us by the teeth into the abyss.  Once it gets going it’s an unrelenting nightmare of inescapable danger at every turn – involving rapist yokels, cannibalistic cave dwellers and a mystical beast. With so many ingredients in the pot, it risks becoming a convoluted mess: I’m happy to report that it makes for a tasty treat, effortlessly shifting gears with unforced, natural ease.

More often than not, low budget independent horror suffers from the same pitfalls: bad acting, below par production values, paper thin characters, etc. In American Backwoods every actor is solid and convincing in their roles, with the majority of characters being given ample amounts of screen time to make an impression and flex their chops. Most of the characters are given enough of a backstory that they actually come across as people and not just bodies to be slaughtered.  Furthermore, the movie looks great: visually it’s clear to see what’s going on, and at times, it’s reminiscent of an Oliver Stone movie.  As for the gore, well that’s just outstanding: there’s one gag in particularly that’ll make you think twice about receiving oral sex in a trailer again anytime soon.  Let it be a warning to you hillbilly rapists out there.

All in all, American Backwoods: Slew Hampshire is a violent, visceral treat that takes a well-trodden formula and gives it some extra layers. This is a must see for those who like their horror unapologetic and sleazy, while creating some laughs at the expense of heinous acts without ever losing its horrific edge.  Excellent acting, a good script, an ambitious story and interesting characters provide a solid foundation for the mayhem to spray blood and spill guts all over, making it an unhinged, filthy little gem waiting to be discovered.  8/10

Pre-order American Backwoods: Slew Hampshire from Amazon HERE.  It will also be released on VOD at the beginning of June.  You can also keep track of it on Facebook and Twitter.

Written & Directed By:

Flood Reed

Starring:

Dayo Okeniyi, Shawn Thomas, Tyler Rice, Jeremy Isabella

Genre:

Horror

Running Time:

104 min

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Movie Review: The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence, 2011)

Body Horror, Horror, Horror Comedy, Movie Reviews

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The sheer mention of The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) is enough to cause a reaction equivalent to that of shitting in ones lunch; having latched onto the controversy of A Serbian Film (2010) a year prior, Tom Six appeared to have used this movie as a showcase of one-upmanship with the aforementioned shocker, in a bid to shock and appal as many people as possible, then laugh his way to the bank afterwards.  Now, it’s understandable why many avoid this movie like the plague on premise alone; let alone the contents within it.  However, there’s no denying that: a) Tom Six has devised a concept that’s as original as it is sickening and, b) Tom Six is a genius who’s using shock tactics to exploit horror fans seeking out gross oddities; as well as using critics disgust to generate headlines and controversy.  Regardless of your opinion of the movies and the man; just know that Tom Six won.

To explain the plot of The Human Centipede II is difficult because there isn’t one, but here goes: An overweight, middle aged asthmatic mute security guard, who still lives at home with his mother, is haunted by his childhood molestation by his father and obsessed with the first Human Centipede movie.  So obsessed in fact, he builds one of his own; only with 12 victims instead of 3.  That’s it.  The movie is more or less a vehicle of pitch black comedic revulsion designed to disgust all who are brave enough to watch it.

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This is more of an artistic statement than it is a movie, and yes, it is art: After the first movie, it was criticised by horror fans for being too ‘tame,’ and bashed by critics for being too repulsive.  However, as revolting and off-putting as a film about ass-to-mouth might sound, the reality is that the content wasn’t as bad as the premise would suggest.  With the sequel, however on the other hand, there isn’t a taboo that isn’t broken: masturbation with sandpaper, dead babies and exploding diarrhoea are just a few of the atrocities on display in this cinematic degradation of human decency.

However, having said that; all of the filth, depravity and vileness aside, The Human Centipede II is a smart, funny little film that mocks its audience more than it tries to exploit their blood lust or sicken them to their stomach.  Granted, only the most warped of minds will chuckle at a barbed wire rape scene; but the sheer ridiculousness of the shock tactics aren’t without their comedic value.

This isn’t for the faint of heart, easily nauseated or most human beings in general; but it is a darkly comedic master stroke, and lots of fun if you can stomach it.  7/10

Directed By:

Tom Six

Written By:

Tom Six

Starring:

Laurence R. Harvey, Ashlynn Yennie, Maddie Black

Running Time:

88 Mins

Genre:

Horror, Black Comedy

Movie Review: Wild Tales (2014)

Comedy, Movie Reviews

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Of all the injustices at this years Academy Awards, the biggest was Wild Tales losing out on Best Foreign Language Film to Ida, which admittedly I have not seen so it’s unfair to make such a bold statement, but I doubt it was better than Wild Tales.  I don’t think anything will better than Wild Tales this year though, as it’s firmly placed itself in the elite echelons of dark comedy classics alongside the likes of Happiness (1998), Killer Joe (2011) and – my personal favourite – In Bruges (2008).

Damian Szifron’s Wild Tales is a portmanteau feature from Argentina which consists of 6 different tales of the wildest kind; making it a film which lives up to its title and then some. Here, Szifron satirises his countries frustrations through stories which will leave audiences shocked, appalled and bursting at the seams with uproarious laughter. Each segment is completely unrelated to the others, but they all share a theme of characters who have reached breaking point; and imploded with violent results.

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The first tale sets the tone of the film in hilarious, over-the-top and ludicrous fashion: A catwalk model boards a plane and starts a conversation with a classical music critic. They soon discover that they have something in common – along with everyone else on the flight – and it’s soon apparent that none of the passengers are there by coincidence.

This segment is my favourite due to its hilarious execution of a frightening situation: Plane violence is still a touchy subject with 9/11 and Lockerbie forever fresh in our minds.  But it’s impossible not to laugh at a psychotic pilot who’s went through all the effort of tricking his enemies onto a doomed flight with the intention of causing a calamity. The segment ends with the plane about to crash down on an elderly couple (obviously the pilots parents) as they enjoy a quiet day in their garden. Then we have the opening credits. I guess you could say it starts off with a bang.

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The second segment is the weakest of the anthology, but it’s still an entertaining romp nonetheless: A waitress working in a diner is angered when the gangster responsible for the collapse of her family shows up for supper.  After telling the old cook how this man ruined her life, they devise a plot to poison him.  However, after an unexpected arrival of the gangsters son, things start to spiral out of control until events reach a bloody climax.

This segment was short and sweet.  Although not quite as good as the others, it makes the most of its short running time by delivering an unbridled, violent romp that’s reminiscent of Tarantino and the Coen’s most menacing moments. It’s a nice little warm-up; a light brunch after a delicious breakfast to hold you over until lunch.

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The third segment steers us into Duel (1971) territory when a Yuppie with road rage flips off a redneck, only to have his tire burst some miles down the highway, leaving him a sitting duck for hillbilly revenge. However, this hillbilly soon learns that you should never piss off a Yuppie who’s teetering on the verge; but then again, the redneck isn’t one to stand down from a fight.  This ensues with both men engaging in a hilarious struggle to the death which culminates in a loving embrace… of sorts.

This story was a blow for blow juggernaut that had the audience of the theatre rolling in their seats: myself included. Both of the characters are horrible people, but you can’t help but sympathize with each of them from time to time as you laugh at their dismay.  Plus I’m sure anybody who’s had car troubles or encountered bad drivers will enjoy watching their murderous fantasies unfold on screen on behalf of the darkest, secret corners of their imagination.

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The fourth segment is where Wild Tales’ social commentary is at it’s most prevalent: It focuses on an engineer who specialises in explosives: He’s tired of being ripped off, especially by the city towing company who keep taking his car to the impound, despite not being parked illegally.  After his marriage falls apart, the engineer exacts revenge on the people he’s mad at, and blows up the impound.  He becomes a hero to the city afterwards, and citizens demand his release from prison.

This was such a fantastic segment, and universally applicable.  Out of all of the characters in the movie, this is the one we root for the most, because in a way he’s completely justified in his actions.  Naturally, it’s still hilarious, but there’s much more darkness and melodrama in this tale, as it focuses on a character with a fractured mental mind state that isn’t exaggerated like the people in the previous stories.  This is the most down-to-earth short there is, written through frustration at corporate greed. It’s funny stuff, but it’s poignant.

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The fifth chapter continues to push social commentary to the forefront, this time in regards to the power and influence of wealth in society.  This starts off dark as we find out the son of a rich businessman has taken the life of a pregnant woman after a drunken hit and run.  Before the police discover who the car belongs to, his family and their lawyer start plotting his cover up, which involves bribing the gardener to take the fall for $500000. However, soon the father has second thoughts once he realizes how much it costs to cover up a murder.

This was another great segment.  Lawyers and rich people being portrayed as acquisitive isn’t anything new in cinema, but very rarely has a story involving them taken such a drastic U-Turn as it does here.  In this scenario, a man’s stinginess comes at the expense of his sons freedom as he refuses to give in to the demands of the covetous sharks that surround him, even when their desperation forces them to drop their high demands.

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”Hell Hath No Fury Like a Woman Scorned” comes to mind when watching the final, and most demented tale of them all.  Here, a bride, on the day of her wedding, discovers that here husband has been cheating on her and all hell breaks loose.  After discovering the revelation, she storms out to throw herself off the roof, but a kitchen attendant with some sound advice talks her out of it and they have relations on the roof.  Once the husband catches them, the wife informs him how she’ll bleed him for all he’s worth and sleep with every man she comes into contact with, which fills him with fear and causes physical sickness.  The bride then returns to the reception where enough marital turmoil to last a lifetime happens in the course of an evening.

This is tied as my favourite segment now as I reflect upon it.  It’s the most gloriously unhinged work of art I’ve seen since watching Re-Animator for the first time.  Furthermore, it ends on a positive note of forgiveness and love, which is a contrast from the other shorts, which all ended on somewhat of a negative note.  I guess it goes to show that no matter how corrupt the world we live in can be, love and forgiveness can conquer all.

In summary, Wild Tales is the greatest anthology film since Pulp Fiction.  Damian Szifron has woven 6 stories all of which are excellent; there isn’t one ugly duckling in this brace, which makes it a rare breed of portmanteau indeed.  This movie will catapult its director to greater things and no doubt be regarded as a cult classic for generations to come.  If you only see one Argentinian black comedy this year, make it Wild Tales.  9/10

Directed By: 

Damian Szifron

Starring:

Dario Grandinetti

Maria Marull

Monica Villa

Running Time:

122 Minutes

Genre:

Dark Comedy