Occultober – Day 25 – The Devil’s Mark

Mark of The Devil
This rather graphic German exploitation film from 1970 stars Herbert Lom and a very young Udo Kier as witchfinders wandering the Austrian countryside looking to root out the work of Satan. Much like Vincent Price in Witchfinder General (or The Spanish Inquisition in general) people in this position of power generally get out of control, become selfish and are worse (or at least as bad) as the monsters they are trying to root out.

The Mark of the Devil is quite famous seriously getting its jolly’s in torturing suspected witches. It’s not for the faint of heart, but there is a fair bit of talent behind the production to not write it completely off.

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Friday One Sheet: Occultober Edition [Teen Lust]

TeenLust

How to get peoples attention? Combine two risque, push-button elements into a single poster. In this case it is teenage sex and satanism. The tagline however, give up the game indicating that this is some kind of comedy in the vein of American Pie meets Scream? That is to say, lose your virginity to take yourself off the table as a virgin sacrifice as as the fill in the title font suggest, burn in hell.

The film debuted at this years Toronto International Film Festival and thus, the TIFF.net website has more.

Occultober – Day 24 – Hellraiser

Hellraiser
Clive Barker’s original 1987 film Hellraiser trades in extreme images of sadomasochism and gore. A man discovers a puzzle-box, and upon solving it, opens a gateway to some kind of hell, where the locals (colloquially known as the Cenobites) seem to get off on having human flesh rended by fishing hooks on long linked chains. The film is one of extreme pain, and extreme sexual desire, but it is neither erotic, nor particularly scary. It’s a odd duck, really, one more of vulgarity masquerading as terror. In that regard, it has aged particularly well.

Part Twilight Zone, part Grand Guignol, Hellraiser’s chief images are its mascot, “Pinhead” and his fellow angels of pain, all of which have meticulous and interesting costume design and make-up, but fall just short of being actually scary. More compelling is the man with the puzzle-box who uses his ex-girlfriend to bring him flesh to rebuild his corporeal body and escape from hell. This offers again, some pretty spectacular make-up that is as much ‘anatomy class’ as it is icky.

The film has spawned countless sequels, graphic novels and other ancillary media, but still has never achieved any kind of mainstream success beyond the gore hounds and other curators of 1980s eccentricities. Those who like it, seem to like it a lot, for me the experience is simply baffling.

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Cinecast Episode 370 – Floating Death Marbles

Despite car destruction and Canadian terrorism, Toronto After Dark carries on, as does the further adventures of World War II – this time carried on the backs of tanks and Brad Pitt. John Carpenter’s biggest film (in terms of budget) is on tap in the 1984 Project with Starman: starring brother Shamus, Jeff Bridges and a career performance from Karen Allen. In this episode we have everything from Alamo tanks and a literal fog of war, to super heated crowbars, records of pure gold, women peeing, 26 short films, Hitchcockian suspense, Jim Broadbent clones and Steven McHattie taking charge. And to think next week, is Birdman… how much more exciting can the cinema experience be than right now?

As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!


 
 

 
 

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Occultober – Day 23 – The Serpent And The Rainbow

The Serpent And The Rainbow
“Don’t let them bury me…I’m not dead!” Who does get a slight chill when they consider the idea of being though dead and put into the earth still conscious? Wes Craven delivers a lot of exotic-sploitation in the 1988 voodoo-psychological horror picture, The Serpent And The Rainbow. The film is loosely based on the exploits of ethnobotanist Wade Davis, a man who by his own account was ‘turned into a zombie’ and recovered from the experience.

Looking for a ‘natural anesthesia’ for big Pharma, Dennis Alan bounces around in the Amazon jungle, eventually landing in Haiti, where he tries to buy a potent powder from a voodoo priest. Instead he is captured by the paramilitary officers and tortured before being kicked out of the country. But his persistence gets himself back into Port au Prince, for the ‘full experience’ of the powder, which culminates in a trip into his own madness.

Craven layers on a plethora of WTF moments and crazy imagery, mainly because portions of the film take place in Alan’s nightmares — coming off A Nightmare On Elm Street, it becomes clear why Wes got the directing job from Universal Studios after Peter Weir passed on it. In the full Sam Raimi sense, it certainly tortures the hell out of a very game Bill Pullman who is very convincing in the Indiana Jones-esque lead role. In a hollywood kind of co-incidence, Pullman also played a Han Solo character in Mel Brooks Spaceballs which came out within the year of the release of The Serpent And The Rainbow, but of course, has a much less scary vibe join on.

Far from perfect, there is enough going on in The Serpent And The Rainbow to fuel more than a few nightmares for those who discover this forgotten, slightly-unpolished gem.

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Toronto After Dark 2014 Review: Time Lapse

 

Opening with a shot of swirling red paint, which then has tiny flecks of white thrown into the mixture to disturb the surface and complicate the image, Bradley King and B.P. Cooper’s Time Lapse shows just how bloody far you can go with a tiny budget, a great prop and two locations. The script here is a beauty, that finds new ways to look at time travel causality (or rather the dangers of perceived causality) along with the good old genre standby of the ‘big bag of money’ landing in your lap. To prove they are the real deal, the film also diligently delves into trust-issues that develop amongst friends when a morally questionable opportunity in life presents itself.

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Toronto After Dark 2014 Review: Predestination

 

Never do yesterday what you should do tomorrow, reads a sign in the early minutes of The Spierig Brothers’ delightfully loopy new film. Another reads, If at last you don’t succeed never try again. There are many of these twisted bon-mots lifted verbatim from Robert Heinlein’s short story, “All You Zombies” and scattered throughout its film adaptation, Predestination. Here is the thing about time travel movies: much time is in fact spent waiting around for things to catch up, even if it is only for that moment when Doc Brown sends his dog Einstein 60 seconds into the future. It leaves plenty of time to read the signs.

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Occultober – Day 22 – Witching And Bitching

Witching And Bitching
Indulge me with Álex de la Iglesia’s gender warfare picture, Witching and Bitching. A coven of witches captures a gang of robbers and proceeds to emasculate them in their lair. The film leans far more towards comedy than any sort of occult terror, but the devil is in the detailsl

The film features the small town of Zugarramurdi, world famous as one of the central European hubs of Witchcraft, and judging by the local bar in the film, the townsfolk are none to shy about hiding things. The key witches are played three generations established actresses who, besides being semi-regulars for this director, often appear in Pedro Almodovar films. The film is batshit crazy and shows not an ounce of restraint, anywhere, but man oh man, it’s worth it for the opening heist involving a silver painted Jesus with a shotgun and a compact getaway car.

The real Basque-region locals are all extras in the big action-set piece climax which might be a tad heavy on CGI (at times resembling the Matrix sequels with all its complex wire-work) but makes wonderful use of Zugarramurdi’s spectacular witch-caves (“The Devil has no tail, but his pussy is like a cave”) and features enough practical location work to evoke everything from Peter Jackson’s Braindead to Buster Keaton’s Seven Chances. Like those films, there is a manic energy on display co-existing with a reverence for the tiniest details in any given scene. The sense of escalation achieved is a marvellous thing.

It’s a lark, but don’t let that stop you.

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