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Under The RadarNight Visions 2013: The Strange Colour of Your Body's Tears, We Are What We Are, Big Bad Wolves

Posted on Saturday November 9, 2013, 18:40 by Owen Williams in Under The Radar
Night Visions 2013: The Strange Colour of Your Body's Tears, We Are What We Are, Big Bad Wolves

My favourite film of the festival was The Strange Colour of Your Body's Tears, the second "arthouse giallo" (after 2009's Amer) from the writing/directing partnership of Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani. When I left the screening I felt almost battered by it, but its been in my head ever since. A heady and surreal experience, it's a difficult film to describe, but on its most basic level involves the nightmarish psychological journey of a man (Klaus Tange) searching for his wife, who has disappeared from their Parisian apartment, which was locked from the inside. If that sounds like any sort of conventional locked room mystery, I'm not doing it justice.

The structure for a while has flashbacks to the stories of more disappearances in the same opulently decayed building running alongside Tange's current investigations. So we get the woman upstairs, dressed in black lace, sitting in deep shadow, her face always obscured, relating how her husban...

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Under The RadarNight Visions 2013: Jodorowsky's Dune, Nightsatan & The Loops Of Doom

Posted on Friday November 8, 2013, 16:14 by Owen Williams in Under The Radar
Night Visions 2013: Jodorowsky's Dune, Nightsatan & The Loops Of Doom

Winner of the audience award at this year's Night Visions was Frank Pavich's documentary Jodorowsky's Dune (Filth came second and The World's End placed third - take that, Gravity). This was the film I was most looking forward to seeing at the festival, having heard so much great stuff coming out of Cannes, Telluride, TIFF, Sitges, Fantastic Fest and wherever else. In many ways it doesn't disappoint, but it's also not the kind-of transcendent experience I'd hoped it would be. Despite the story's starting to sound overfamiliar, it's a fascinating and comprehensive glimpse of the film that might have been, with the engaging presence of Alejandro Jodorowsky himself front and centre. So on its own terms as a celebration of the greatest film that never was, it's a complete success. But it lacks any sense of balance, any dissenting voices, and any sense that its principal narrator might be at all unreliable. As such it comes across as over...

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Under The RadarNight Visions 2013: Adjust Your Tracking (or Does Anyone Actually Miss VHS?)

Posted on Thursday November 7, 2013, 07:01 by Owen Williams in Under The Radar
Night Visions 2013: Adjust Your Tracking (or Does Anyone Actually Miss VHS?)

I missed Rewind This at FrightFest, but I caught Dan M. Kinem’s Adjust Your Tracking at Night Visions: another similar nostalgia-fest for VHS. As a documentary, I didn’t really think much of it. It has no narrative at all, no thrust and no direction, just a series of talking heads discussing their continued love for the videotape format: showing off their collections; outlining the lengths they’ll go to in the name of VHS archaeology; and boasting about the prices they’ve paid (whether bargainously cheap or outlandishly high). The potentially interesting angle of the original indie corner stores being forced out of business by the ubiquity of Blockbuster is dealt with and thrust aside in minutes at the beginning. The love here is for tapes, wherever they came from.

It’s not entirely a waste of time. There’s some funny stuff in there, but I’ve got to throw my hands up and just admit that I don’t get it. I do...

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Under The RadarNight Visions 2013: Fresh Meat, The Colony, Sawney

Posted on Wednesday November 6, 2013, 11:50 by Owen Williams in Under The Radar
Night Visions 2013: Fresh Meat, The Colony, Sawney

We were somewhere around the abattoir at the edge of the Kalasatama district when the beetroot cocktails began to take hold... Welcome back to Night Visions, Helsinki's vibrant genre film festival, celebrating its sixteenth year with record attendances and a full-on programme of international big-hitters and oddities. Even more than last year, it was a mad experience. Empire got off the plane on Wednesday evening and was shipped straight to the American embassy where a jetlagged Simon Barrett was attempting - with impressive élan - interview coherence under the baleful gaze of Udo Kier and occasional interruptions from the ambassador's enormous dog. After which we were off to the Maxim theatre for Finnish Christmas nibbles (what else on Hallowe'en?) before a screening of the 1996 Finnish Christmas comedy Joulubileet, which would possibly have been less baffling without the wine and the day of travelling and the bizarre English subtitles. But possibly not.

W...

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Under The RadarFilm4 FrightFest 2013: Sunday and Monday

Posted on Wednesday August 28, 2013, 09:13 by Owen Williams in Under The Radar
Film4 FrightFest 2013: Sunday and Monday

Sunday is a day of subdued slow-burners in the Empire Leicester Square's main screen. Maybe the assumption was hangovers after Saturday night. Fair enough, actually. Kick-off then is Missionary by Anthony DiBlasi (Dread, Cassadaga), which we're told began its conceptual life as a slasher film, but has reached the screen as something more interesting. Mitch Ryan stars as Elder Kevin Brock, a Mormon-in-training who develops a fatal attraction for Dawn Olivieri's single mom and her young son. Cue a tense escalation of stalkerish behaviour, which starts with an innocuous football game, takes in a beheading, and climaxes with guns in a scrapyard. The Mormon set-up is interestingly handled: careful not to demonise the entire religion, and taking time to make its elders likeably normal (Jordan Woods Robinson is seen sneaking out to a forbidden baseball game, for example). Even Ryan initially seems like a guy you wouldn't particularly mind finding on your doorstep with a Watchtower. It all goes a bit...

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Under The RadarFilm4 FrightFest 2013: Thursday and Friday

Posted on Saturday August 24, 2013, 19:34 by Owen Williams in Under The Radar
Film4 FrightFest 2013: Thursday and Friday

2013's Film4 FrightFest kicks off on Thursday night with an impromptu introduction from Bobcat Goldthwait, here with his film Willow Creek, playing on Saturday and Sunday. "Most of you thought I was dead," he says. "The rest of you are trying to figure out who I am." Not true, Bob. We loved God Bless America. "All stories are horror stories," he goes on, citing the New Testament and Grown Ups 2 as examples. "Lincoln is about a guy getting his brains blown out," he points out, "but they cut away before the good part."

The Dead 2: India, the fest's opening movie, does not cut away from the brain splattering, but like its predecessor, also written, directed and produced by The Ford Brothers, it's got a lot more going for it than that. Cards on the table: zombies bore the arse off me, so I didn't come to this film predisposed to love it. That said, I did really like

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Empire StatesTransformers: The Ride-3D - Peter Cullen & Frank Welker

Posted on Tuesday July 30, 2013, 16:58 by Owen Williams in Empire States
Transformers: The Ride-3D - Peter Cullen & Frank Welker

As you might have seen in the current Empire, I was invited by Universal last month to the red-carpet opening of the impressive new Transformers ride at their Orlando, Florida resort. There were jet planes, people in crazy stilt suits (or if you prefer for that to stay behind the curtain it was the real Bumblebee and Optimus!), “General” Glenn Morshower, explosions, and Steven Spielberg. Plus, of course, the ride itself: an exhilarating hurl around – and occasionally above – New York in new Autobot Evac, aggressively pursued by Decepticons in pursuit of a bit of Allspark.

A few technological upgrades aside, it’s essentially the same ride that Empire’s Ali Plumb crushed in Hollywood a year ago, so for loads more details, pay a visit to Ali’s own report here. From my trip though, I thought I’d share the transcript of this fun audience with Peter Cullen and Fr...

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Under The RadarBloody Cuts In Conversation

Posted on Friday May 17, 2013, 10:33 by Owen Williams in Under The Radar



Debuting in June 2011, Bloody Cuts is an anthology series of horror shorts (as well as the name of the production company) aiming for thirteen instalments, of which eight have surfaced so far. Available to watch free on the Bloody Cuts website, the films have attracted hundreds of thousands of views online, successfully hit the festival circuit, and picked up glowing notices from far and wide. With their most ambitious project to date, the award-winning Don't Move, recently added to the online roster, Empire spoke to the collective's Jonny Franklin, who gave us a taste of Bloody Cuts' history and a glimpse of the future...
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Under The RadarEuropean Film Awards 2012

Posted on Sunday December 2, 2012, 00:05 by Owen Williams in Under The Radar
European Film Awards 2012

A bit of context before the ceremony: this year’s European Film Awards are taking place in the beautiful surroundings of Valletta, Malta, following a couple of weeks of quiet (and not so quiet) ructions within Malta’s own modest film establishment. Despite a record year for domestic applications to the Malta Film Fund, it transpires that no visiting productions at all are currently scheduled to shoot in Malta next year. Cue bitter recriminations and accusations of incompetence and financial mismanagement from Film Service Providers Malta – a collection of production service companies responsible for managing most foreign productions filmed in Malta over the last ten years – towards controversial Malta Film Commissioner Peter Busuttil. Finance Minister Tonio Fenech dismissed the spat as a “personality clash,” but it’s a claim angrily denied by FSPM.
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Under The RadarNight Visions 2012: Silje Reinamo and Thale

Posted on Sunday November 4, 2012, 14:39 by Owen Williams in Under The Radar
Night Visions 2012: Silje Reinamo and Thale

Home-grown Scandinavian films are in relatively short supply at this year’s Night Visions in Helsinki: the Audience Award went to Dredd (although it was a close call between that and Bobcat Goldthwait's excellent God Bless America). One of the very best films of the festival however, is the beautifully enigmatic and eerie Norwegian entry Thale [tah-lay], directed by Aleksander Nordaas and starring Silje Reinåmo.

It’s the story of a forest sprite who’s been kept separated from her kind for some years, until the death of her human guardian and the arrival at her cabin-in-the-woods of Erlend Nervold and Jon Sigve Skard: a dryly hum...

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