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Found Footage Friday: Cannibal Holocaust by Jamie

I recently watched ‘Paranormal Activity 4’ and went on a mini-rampage about how fucking sick I am of found footage films, going so far as to declare that if film makers can’t be bothered to hire professional camera men to make their “professional” films then I’m not going to bother watching them. After the rage subsided, I thought about some found footage films that I’d actually enjoyed and realised I probably shouldn’t tar an entire genre with the same brush.

So I decided that one way to try and come to terms with this style of film making, which is certainly not going to go away, was to watch as many of them as possible. I want to discover the gems hidden among the sea of shit that makes up the entire found footage movement. It’s going to be a long, hard slog but luckily I’m a glutton for punishment and it only seems fair to begin with the great granddaddy of the entire genre, the one that started it all. No, I’m not talking about ‘The Blair Witch Project’. Silly young people. No, to see what many consider the birth of found footage, we have to go all the way back to the year 1980 for a little film called ‘Cannibal Holocaust‘. Spoilers and possibility of drunken ramblings ahead.

Oh boy. I don’t even know where to begin. I guess Cannibal Holocaust is one of those movies which I’d always assumed I’d seen and forgotten most of. If you have any interest in film, particularly horror, then there’s a good chance that you’ll end up hearing and reading a lot about it and I guess that that’s where I’d gotten the idea that perhaps I had viewed it before. I just knew so much about it that I assumed at some point in my life I’d sat down and actually watched it. Trust me when I say that I’ve seen and forgotten more films than a lot of people have actually seen so it was an easy mistake for me to make. But as I was watching the film today, I realised that it was obvious that I’d never seen this film before because I wouldn’t be able to forget it and now I never will. Never.

So the basic story of the film is that a young documentary team from New York has gone to the Amazon rainforest in order to film the local tribes there and have gone missing. New York University anthropology professor Harold Monroe (Robert Kerman) decides to head into the foreboding jungle to try and track them down. He and his guides come across several tribes and evidence of the crew along their travels. The tribes seem particularly wary of the men and the professor comes to the conclusion that the film crew must have done something in order to make them this way. Finally his worst fears are realized. He discovers the remains of the crew and finds that they have been cannibalised. After negotiating with a tribal chief he manages to procure the crew’s film and heads back to New York.

In New York, the Pan American Broadcast Company decides they want to air the footage but Monroe insists he take a look at the raw footage first. Ok, this is one major part of the plot that I had a problem with. Really? The TV company were just gonna broadcast the footage without reviewing it first? Footage of an expedition that they knew ended with the crew being killed and eaten? They didn’t think that there might be anything on there that they might wanna get a look at first? Really? Anyway, that’s kind of beside the point because it turns out that, surprise surprise, Monroe was right to review the footage as he uncovers that the so-called documentarians were actually staging scenarios in order to get footage for their film and they did it in pretty horrific ways. Such as rounding a tribe into a straw hut and setting said hut on fire. They also gleefully engage in a bit of the old enforced the old in-out, real savage. Oh and then they impale their rape victim on a big wooden stake and film it as if the tribe had done it to her in some kind of punishment ritual. So yes, through all the extreme violence and sexual assault there is a subtext, that subtext being who are the real savages? The tribal peoples or the fucked up Westerners? The film unfortunately decides to try and hammer this message home at the end with Monroe asking himself “I wonder who the real cannibals are?” Well professor, the word cannibal has a pretty strict definition.:

  1. A person who eats the flesh of other human beings: “cannibal tribes”.
  2. An animal that feeds on flesh of its own species.

So, yeah, given that I’m going to say that the real cannibals were the people who ate people. If you’d said savages instead of cannibals I’d have been completely on board with your point but you didn’t. Now you look like a fool. A fool professor! Anyway the last of the footage ends with the crew being killed and eaten (and in the case of the female member of the crew raped as well) which, whilst horrific, I suppose is kind of supposed to be justified by the actions of the crew earlier. Whilst I’m sure the film makers meant the film to suggest that it truly was the fucked up Westerners that were the real savages, I just came away from it thinking ‘Fuck. I guess everyone is a savage.’

Now this film is massively controversial for a number of reasons. The director, Ruggero Deodato, was even arrested and accused of murder as the courts believed that several people had actually been killed on camera for the film. Now whilst some of the staged acts of graphic violence is certainly a bit much, though incredibly realistic for the time it was filmed, that’s not exactly the stuff I have a problem with. No, it’s the actual acts of horrific violence that were done just for the camera. One of the reasons that this film remains controversial to this day is the fact that actual and unnecessarily brutal acts of animal cruelty were filmed, ostensibly for entertainment purposes. These scenes are some of the most difficult I’ve ever seen. Seven animals in total were killed during the making of the movie, six of which were included in the film. There’s a coati which is stabbed though the neck and butchered, a tarantula and a snake that are both hacked up with machetes, a pig that gets kicked around a few times before being shot in the head at close range with a shotgun. Then a squirrel monkey, squirming and screaming is held down whilst the top of its head is removed with a machete.

Please don’t chop my head off and eat my brains…
Image courtesy of Luc Viatour / http://www.Lucnix.be

Despite how horrific that is, it’s actually one of the least egregious killings because it was eaten by the tribal cast members who consider monkey brains a delicacy and it would be pretty hypocritical of me as a meat eater to criticise a different cultures methods of killing and eating their food. Still, it’s a difficult watch.

The most difficult scene, however, is the killing and butchering of a large turtle which is dragged out of the amazon. It’s quite a long piece of the film and it’s pretty fucking sickening. The joy with which the film crew decapitate the animal, hack off its still twitching limbs and remove it’s shell is truly, truly shocking. I actually yelled at the screen in disgust a number of times and found myself wishing it would just end. At times, it felt like it never would. It’s weird because I’d always wondered what a turtle looked like without it’s shell. Now I wish I didn’t know because it turns out it’s just a mess of organs.

So… yeah. That’s film one in this ongoing series about found footage films. I honestly don’t feel that I can covey the feelings that this film brought up in me. Despite all that and as much as it pains me to say it… The film is kinda good. Completely unenjoyable and deserving of having every remaining copy of it shot into the sun forever and ever but still worth at least one watch. I honestly can’t explain why. Maybe it’s because everything that this film spawned. Maybe it’s a morbid curiosity to find out what others think of it. Maybe it’s simply because despite everything that I should hate about this film, there’s something weirdly fascinating about it. It’s a film that I can neither recommend nor fully condemn. I’ll just say that if you have any interest in the history of cinema, horror particularly, it’s a film you should watch at least once. But be warned. It is not an easy or enjoyable experience.

And now, to lighten the mood, here’s Space Unicorn.

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Zombie Month: Films to Keep You Awake: The Christmas Tale by Jamie

So this is Christmas and what have you done? If you’re like me then you probably got hammered and are currently nursing a hangover by getting hammered all over again. And why not? What better way is there to celebrate the birth of Jesus “Future Zombie” Christ then with massive amounts of booze. It’s what he would have wanted. Dude was clearly an alcoholic. How else do you explain all that turning water into wine?

Anyway, I’ll tell you one thing, it’s been a bitch trying to find a goddamn Christmas Zombie films. There were a few promising leads such as ‘Silent Night, Zombie Night” but every time I thought I’d found something, it proved impossible to get my hands on. Finally I was guided towards the subject of today’s Christmassy review, ‘The Christmas Tale’ brought to us by one of the directors and writers of Rec and Rec 2, Paco Plaza. It also stars Ivana Baquero a year before she starred in Pan’s Labyrinth so yeah, it’s pretty interesting from a ‘what Spanish people who’s work I’ve enjoyed since did before.’.

So yeah, as you may have guessed from the people behind it, this is a Spanish film. Set in 1985, it tells the story of five friends who discover a woman dressed as Santa trapped in a hole in the woods. They are about to set her free when two of them who have gone to report the incident to the police discover that she is actually a wanted criminal who has stolen a large amount of cash. They decide that the best course of action is to leave her trapped in the hole and black mail her for the money by starving her.

So what about the Zombies, I here you ask? Well, the film opens with a clip of a film-within-a-film called ‘Zombie Invasion.’ It’s basically a parody of old 80s horror films. Two of the kids get the idea that if they perform as Voodoo ritual, the woman will come back as a Zombie that they can control once she’s dead. Unfortunately, things don’t go quite according to plan.

And that’s all I’m really going to say about the film’s plot because once again, I feel it’s one you should search for and watch yourselves. The kids in the film are all pretty damn good actors, though again, it’s difficult to act just how good an actor someone is when they’re speaking in a foreign language but it all seemed pretty convincing to me.

The film is just as much a loving tribute to the films of the 80s as it is a horror film, the msot obvious being ‘Stand By Me’ and ‘The Goonies’. In fact, the kids in this film really come of as kind of a dickish version of The Goonies. Perhaps the film you wouldn’t expect to be referenced is the one that is referenced most blatantly, ‘The Karate Kid’. One of the kids in the movie is obsessed with the film, wears a karate headband and is often spouting phrases or carrying out scenes from it, including a quite noteable crane kick near the end. So yes, for someone like me who grew up with these films, this was really enjoyable. Throw in the Zombie angle as well and, well, it’s like you’ve made a movie just for me.

Basically, that’s all I have to say without ruining anything. This film is phenomenally entertaining and it’s only 71 minutes long so you don’t even have to devote that much time to it. If there’s one complaint I do have, it’s that perhaps the kids become pretty dark and evil pretty damn quickly but I suppose that’s the problem with a film of this running time. Altogether I’ll give it four and a half pints out of five. Laterz.

Oh and here’s a little PSA TeamUnicornFTW to help you have a safe Christmas in case of Zombie attack. Now, if you don’t mind, I have turkey to eat and beer to drink. So much beer. Merry Christmas and all that malarky!



Zombie Month Repost: REC 2 by Jamie

Originally posted October 14th, 2010.

Sorry about all these reposts but things have been a touch hectic lately. Hopefully this’ll be the last one because… Well, I think I’ve run out of old Zombie movie reviews…

Massive Spoilers Ahead

The original ‘REC’ was one of those rare horror films which managed to creep me out, in particular the end scene with the creepy Zombie girl stumbling around in the dark waving that hammer. There was just something about the way that thing and the way it moved that just put me on edge. It’s probably one of those images that will stick with me for the rest of my life. Fuck, just sitting here thinking about it now is sending a shiver up my spine.

In fact, I still remember the first time that I watched it. For those of you that don’t know I am currently employed as a hotel Night Porter, a position which enables me to watch films whilst I work. I watched REC whilst at work, got proper scared and then had to spend the rest of the night going about performing my workly duties terrified that I was suddenly going to be attacked by some hideous Zombie abomination wielding a hammer. It was a bad night but a great film.

So I was genuinely looking forward to the sequel REC 2. Of course, I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect and sequels generally have a tendency to fail to recapture the feeling that made the first film so great but there are definitely exceptions to that rule. Jaws: The Revenge, for example, is a far superior film to the original… I’m sorry, I threw up a little in my mouth just joking about that. Anyway, the point is would REC 2 live up to my expectations? Let’s find out.

The film takes place pretty much moments after the ending of the first one. A Grupo Especial de Operaciones (GEO) team, which I’m guessing is basically the Spanish equivalent of a SWAT team, are sent into the quarantined building from the first film, each with cameras mounted on their helmets. Joining them is a representative from the Spanish Ministry of Health, Dr Owen. Before long their Zombies are falling from ceilings and the battle begins. Dr. Owen manages to fight off the creatures using rosary beads and mantras and it’s revealed that he’s not actually from the Ministry of Health at all but is actually a priest. I guess this was kept quiet because there are potentially children in that building and well… you know…

I kid, of course. It turns out that the whole infection is actually due to something that the Catholic Church would really like to keep hidden. Basically the deal is thus, a catholic priest was doing experiments in the penthouse of the building on a possessed girl in order to see if some kind of scientific cure for demonic possession could be created, treating the demon as some kind of virus. Unfortunately the experiments led to the demonic infection spreading hence the current situation. Owen needs to find a blood sample from the girl in order to try and finish the priest’s work and find a cure. Unfortunately, due to some demonic blood catching fire related mishaps, the sample is destroyed and they need to get another sample from the original girl.

Whilst all this is going on a fireman, the father of the girl from the first movie (the one who was sick, not the Zombie girl… although she did eventually become a Zombie girl… The one who wasn’t the one at the end with the hammer… There, I think that sorts it out) and three teenagers sneak into the building through the sewer system only to find themselves sealed inside. They also get attacked by Zombies and, after a while and a few deaths, the two groups come across each other as well as Angela, the reporter from the original film. One of the teenagers, Tito, gets bitten and Owen ties him up and forces him to tell them where the original possessed girl is. It seems as though the infectious nature of the possession has created a hive mind where the demon’s consciousness can inhabit anyone of the infected. Tito basically tells them that she’s in the penthouse and the team go up there, though they are somewhat confused as to why they didn’t see her when they were up there before.

Owen asks Angela how she saw the girl before and she explains that it was through the night vision on the camera she had with her. Tito had also mentioned that the light blinded their path and Owen figures out that maybe they can only see the girl in the dark with the aid of night vision. Anyway, they find the girl but Angela shoots her with a shotgun, pissing off Owen because he needed her alive. Angela doesn’t care because all she wants is to get the fuck out of the building, which is really rather understandable to be honest. She starts to beat the shit out of Owen in order to try and get him to authorise their departure and when the one remaining GEO officer tries to get her to stop, she shoots him. Owen then realises that the demon has possessed Angela. She reveals that she can impersonate his voice, kills him, radios the outside and tells them using Owen’s voice that, though he is infected, he is authorising the exit of one female survivor. It is then revealed through a flash back that when the Zombie girl caught Angela during the end of the last film, she didn’t kill her, she just deposited a large, fleshy thing which I’m guessing is the demon into her mouth. Unfortunately this reminded me of ‘Friday The 13Tth IX: Jason Goes To Hell’ which is one of the worst films of that particular franchise and that’s saying something.

Well that was REC 2. So what did I think of it? In all honestly, I was actually pretty disappointed. The film just lacked that certain, indescribable something that the original had. It also left me pretty fucking confused about a number of things. Firstly, just how much influence does the Catholic Church have over the Spanish government? Is it really so much that they can use their resources in order to propagate massive cover-ups regarding mass demonic possession? Seriously, is the way things happen in European countries where their King didn’t break ties with Mother Church because he wanted to get a divorce? It just seemed highly unlikely is all I’m saying.

Secondly, the idea that you couldn’t see the Zombie girl in the light just really pissed me off. She’s still a physical being right? She’s not become a ghost, I mean she can still carry a hammer, so why is she’s invisible in the dark? The explanation that the light blinds them from seeing the path seemed a little lacking, especially because at that point she doesn’t even have the physical demon inside her anymore, Angela does. Surely she’s the one who should be invisible… I dunno. I honestly think that the only reason they did it is because they knew how people reacted to seeing her in the first film purely through the night vision camera and didn’t want to dilute that by showing her in the light.

Thirdly, the teenagers were fucking annoying.

Despite it’s faults, this is still a moderately enjoyable Spanish horror film but that’s the problem. It’s only moderately enjoyable and I’m sure that viewing it back to back with the original would only make it seem worse. I expected so much more from this and just came away feeling disappointed though I did find the idea of a Zombie hive-mind kind of interesting and certainly something I don’t think I’ve seen before although it does beg the question as to if one Zombie spots them why don’t the rest instantly know where they are and head there to attack them. It’s also a pretty interesting take on the possession genre which, let’s be honest, has been pretty much been ‘The Exorcist’ and movies very much like it since the 70s. Oh, and the picture in picture stuff was kinda cool as well. It’s kind of the logical progression of that last scene in the ‘The Blair Witch Project’, enabling you to watch one character go investigate one thing whilst still hearing the audio from the other characters as well.

Oh, and that Zombie girl was still creepy, shambling and waving that hammer about. Overall, REC 2 gets three pints out of five. Laterz



Zombie Month: Beneath Still Waters by Jamie

Spain recently came onto the world wide Zombie scene with ‘Rec’, a film which I loved, and ‘Rec 2’, a film which kinda missed the mark for me. But two years before the original ‘Rec’, a film was released which also had what can be described as Zombies in it. And, like ‘Rec’, the film was tinged with Satanic myth and lore. That film was ‘Beneath Still Waters’ and it’s the subject of today’s Zombie Month review. Let’s dig in. Spoilers ahead

The film opens in Northern Spain in 1965. Two boys frolic through the Spanish fields before entering a village which has been fenced off. The reason for this is that the town is being slowly flooded due to a new dam being built. The water is already up to the boys shins as they wade through, playing and laughing and having fun. Oh, what a jolly thing to be a young boy in Northern Spain in 1965. Or so you’d think. Unfortunately, shit’s about to get real.

The boys stumble across a building with screams coming from and a firey glow in the windows. One of the boys decides they should go in and try and help these people who are clearly trapped in some way. They enter and soon find themselves in a basement where the occupants are chained to the floor, wailing and screaming and making all manner of unpleasant noises. The braver boy goes to help them when a voice in the corner calls him over, telling him to ignore them and free him instead which the boy does. The man, Mordecai Salas, who you know is evil because is name is Mordecai, immediately turns on the boy, forces his hands into his mouth and tears is head in two. Where was the Facebook child abuse status campaign when it was really needed in 1965 Northern Spain, huh? No where, that’s where. The other boy, understandably terrified by this, turns and runs, presumably shitting and pissing himself all the way home.

So then the movie cuts to 2005 and the people in the town that used to neighbour Floodville are celebrating the 40th anniversary of the construction of the dam. A photo journalist by the name of Dan Quarry is there, taking pictures of the submerged village and local TV reporter and daughter of the recently deceased town mayor, Teresa Borgia is reporting on the big party for the dam because I guess people really have nothing better to do in Northern Spain than celebrate big concrete walls that hold water back.

There is a problem and soon there are a series of mysterious deaths and disappearances, particularly around the reservoir. One early death is that of a friend of Teresa’s daughter Clara who’s also been having weird dreams lately about her dead grandfather warning her that someone is back. That someone is, of course, Mordecai Salas, who reminds me more and more of Keith Richards as the film progresses. Isn’t it weird that Keith Richards is now a part of a major Disney franchise? Anyway, the weird shit escalates including the odd Zombie like creature popping up here and there.

The first Zombie you really see attacks the dam supervisor, who’s hiding the fact that the dam has a huge crack in it for some reason. Anyway, the Zombie that attacks him kinda looks like a three way cross between the last Zombie from Rec, Nosferatu and the Dad from ‘Mac and Me’. If you’ve read my post about the Five Terrifying Monsters From My Childhood then you probably already know that this scene kinda creeped me out a little. Not as much as that bastard alien did but still, a little.

Anyway, Zombie’s pop up here and there, killer plants trap people and turn them into weird Zombie things too and the party at the dam becomes a massive demonically possessed orgy, much to my approval. Teresa and Dan decide to seek out the young boy, Louis, who lost his friends all those years ago. He explains that Salas was a student of Satanism and fuelled his power with sacrifices from amongst his followers in the village. Teresa’s father cottoned onto this and, in order to save the area from his evil, he bought up the land and had the dam built. As a final measure, he had Salas and his followers chained up in the basement of the building so that the flood would trap them forever. And everything would have gone according to plan if it hadn’t been for those two meddling kids.

So now that the old mayor is dead, Salas is back to wreak his terrible vengeance upon the people town that flooded his clan by letting his demonic influence infest the town and causing the dam to break. Apparently the only person who can stop him is Clara and so he goes after her. Louis, Dan and Teresa set out to stop him, with Louis getting torn apart in the process. Dan visit’s the submerged village in order to burn Salas’ magic book in the basement he was trapped and Teresa goes to find Clara.

Salas already has her and is about to tear her to head in two when Dan succeeds in destroying the book. Salas is defeated, everything returns back to normal and the dam doesn’t break. Except ten it does. The End.

So that’s the basic story. I’ve skipped over a few other plot points and storylines because honestly, this film has a lot going on. Too much really. And that’s the films biggest problem. There’s just too much going on here for me to really care about everything. There’s the backstory of Teresa and her father, Clara and her grandfather, Dan and his son, Clara’s best friend…. It goes on and on. Cut out a few of those extraneous plots and you could have had quite a neat little movie here.

The acting’s also a bit of a problem. I had no real problem with any of the major characters but some of the side characters were so woefully inept that it took it too a ridiculous level. Still, the special effects were pretty awesome and largely practical which was nice. In particular I really enjoyed the look of the Zombies and this one dude who was sitting there laughing maniacally whilst hacking his own limbs off. Awesome.

So ‘Beneath Still Waters’ was actually quite a surprisingly entertaining film. There were moments where it got pretty damn slow, mainly because of the mess of fucking storylines that it was trying to resolve all at once but on the whole, not bad. Three pints out of five.



Zombie Month: Beneath Still Waters by Jamie

Spain recently came onto the world wide Zombie scene with ‘Rec’, a film which I loved, and ‘Rec 2’, a film which kinda missed the mark for me. But two years before the original ‘Rec’, a film was released which also had what can be described as Zombies in it. And, like ‘Rec’, the film was tinged with Satanic myth and lore. That film was ‘Beneath Still Waters’ and it’s the subject of today’s Zombie Month review. Let’s dig in. Spoilers ahead

The film opens in Northern Spain in 1965. Two boys frolic through the Spanish fields before entering a village which has been fenced off. The reason for this is that the town is being slowly flooded due to a new dam being built. The water is already up to the boys shins as they wade through, playing and laughing and having fun. Oh, what a jolly thing to be a young boy in Northern Spain in 1965. Or so you’d think. Unfortunately, shit’s about to get real.

The boys stumble across a building with screams coming from and a firey glow in the windows. One of the boys decides they should go in and try and help these people who are clearly trapped in some way. They enter and soon find themselves in a basement where the occupants are chained to the floor, wailing and screaming and making all manner of unpleasant noises. The braver boy goes to help them when a voice in the corner calls him over, telling him to ignore them and free him instead which the boy does. The man, Mordecai Salas, who you know is evil because is name is Mordecai, immediately turns on the boy, forces his hands into his mouth and tears is head in two. Where was the Facebook child abuse status campaign when it was really needed in 1965 Northern Spain, huh? No where, that’s where. The other boy, understandably terrified by this, turns and runs, presumably shitting and pissing himself all the way home.

So then the movie cuts to 2005 and the people in the town that used to neighbour Floodville are celebrating the 40th anniversary of the construction of the dam. A photo journalist by the name of Dan Quarry is there, taking pictures of the submerged village and local TV reporter and daughter of the recently deceased town mayor, Teresa Borgia is reporting on the big party for the dam because I guess people really have nothing better to do in Northern Spain than celebrate big concrete walls that hold water back.

There is a problem and soon there are a series of mysterious deaths and disappearances, particularly around the reservoir. One early death is that of a friend of Teresa’s daughter Clara who’s also been having weird dreams lately about her dead grandfather warning her that someone is back. That someone is, of course, Mordecai Salas, who reminds me more and more of Keith Richards as the film progresses. Isn’t it weird that Keith Richards is now a part of a major Disney franchise? Anyway, the weird shit escalates including the odd Zombie like creature popping up here and there.

The first Zombie you really see attacks the dam supervisor, who’s hiding the fact that the dam has a huge crack in it for some reason. Anyway, the Zombie that attacks him kinda looks like a three way cross between the last Zombie from Rec, Nosferatu and the Dad from ‘Mac and Me’. If you’ve read my post about the Five Terrifying Monsters From My Childhood then you probably already know that this scene kinda creeped me out a little. Not as much as that bastard alien did but still, a little.

Anyway, Zombie’s pop up here and there, killer plants trap people and turn them into weird Zombie things too and the party at the dam becomes a massive demonically possessed orgy, much to my approval. Teresa and Dan decide to seek out the young boy, Louis, who lost his friends all those years ago. He explains that Salas was a student of Satanism and fuelled his power with sacrifices from amongst his followers in the village. Teresa’s father cottoned onto this and, in order to save the area from his evil, he bought up the land and had the dam built. As a final measure, he had Salas and his followers chained up in the basement of the building so that the flood would trap them forever. And everything would have gone according to plan if it hadn’t been for those two meddling kids.

So now that the old mayor is dead, Salas is back to wreak his terrible vengeance upon the people town that flooded his clan by letting his demonic influence infest the town and causing the dam to break. Apparently the only person who can stop him is Clara and so he goes after her. Louis, Dan and Teresa set out to stop him, with Louis getting torn apart in the process. Dan visit’s the submerged village in order to burn Salas’ magic book in the basement he was trapped and Teresa goes to find Clara.

Salas already has her and is about to tear her to head in two when Dan succeeds in destroying the book. Salas is defeated, everything returns back to normal and the dam doesn’t break. Except ten it does. The End.

So that’s the basic story. I’ve skipped over a few other plot points and storylines because honestly, this film has a lot going on. Too much really. And that’s the films biggest problem. There’s just too much going on here for me to really care about everything. There’s the backstory of Teresa and her father, Clara and her grandfather, Dan and his son, Clara’s best friend…. It goes on and on. Cut out a few of those extraneous plots and you could have had quite a neat little movie here.

The acting’s also a bit of a problem. I had no real problem with any of the major characters but some of the side characters were so woefully inept that it took it too a ridiculous level. Still, the special effects were pretty awesome and largely practical which was nice. In particular I really enjoyed the look of the Zombies and this one dude who was sitting there laughing maniacally whilst hacking his own limbs off. Awesome.

So ‘Beneath Still Waters’ was actually quite a surprisingly entertaining film. There were moments where it got pretty damn slow, mainly because of the mess of fucking storylines that it was trying to resolve all at once but on the whole, not bad. Three pints out of five.



Review: REC 2 by Jamie

Massive Spoilers Ahead

The original ‘REC’ was one of those rare horror films which managed to creep me out, in particular the end scene with the creepy Zombie girl stumbling around in the dark waving that hammer. There was just something about the way that thing and the way it moved that just put me on edge. It’s probably one of those images that will stick with me for the rest of my life. Fuck, just sitting here thinking about it now is sending a shiver up my spine.

In fact, I still remember the first time that I watched it. For those of you that don’t know I am currently employed as a hotel Night Porter, a position which enables me to watch films whilst I work. I watched REC whilst at work, got proper scared and then had to spend the rest of the night going about performing my workly duties terrified that I was suddenly going to be attacked by some hideous Zombie abomination wielding a hammer. It was a bad night but a great film.

So I was genuinely looking forward to the sequel REC 2. Of course, I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect and sequels generally have a tendency to fail to recapture the feeling that made the first film so great but there are definitely exceptions to that rule. Jaws: The Revenge, for example, is a far superior film to the original… I’m sorry, I threw up a little in my mouth just joking about that. Anyway, the point is would REC 2 live up to my expectations? Let’s find out.

The film takes place pretty much moments after the ending of the first one. A Grupo Especial de Operaciones (GEO) team, which I’m guessing is basically the Spanish equivalent of a SWAT team, are sent into the quarantined building from the first film, each with cameras mounted on their helmets. Joining them is a representative from the Spanish Ministry of Health, Dr Owen. Before long their Zombies are falling from ceilings and the battle begins. Dr. Owen manages to fight off the creatures using rosary beads and mantras and it’s revealed that he’s not actually from the Ministry of Health at all but is actually a priest. I guess this was kept quiet because there are potentially children in that building and well… you know…

I kid, of course. It turns out that the whole infection is actually due to something that the Catholic Church would really like to keep hidden. Basically the deal is thus, a catholic priest was doing experiments in the penthouse of the building on a possessed girl in order to see if some kind of scientific cure for demonic possession could be created, treating the demon as some kind of virus. Unfortunately the experiments led to the demonic infection spreading hence the current situation. Owen needs to find a blood sample from the girl in order to try and finish the priest’s work and find a cure. Unfortunately, due to some demonic blood catching fire related mishaps, the sample is destroyed and they need to get another sample from the original girl.

Whilst all this is going on a fireman, the father of the girl from the first movie (the one who was sick, not the Zombie girl… although she did eventually become a Zombie girl… The one who wasn’t the one at the end with the hammer… There, I think that sorts it out) and three teenagers sneak into the building through the sewer system only to find themselves sealed inside. They also get attacked by Zombies and, after a while and a few deaths, the two groups come across each other as well as Angela, the reporter from the original film. One of the teenagers, Tito, gets bitten and Owen ties him up and forces him to tell them where the original possessed girl is. It seems as though the infectious nature of the possession has created a hive mind where the demon’s consciousness can inhabit anyone of the infected. Tito basically tells them that she’s in the penthouse and the team go up there, though they are somewhat confused as to why they didn’t see her when they were up there before.

Owen asks Angela how she saw the girl before and she explains that it was through the night vision on the camera she had with her. Tito had also mentioned that the light blinded their path and Owen figures out that maybe they can only see the girl in the dark with the aid of night vision. Anyway, they find the girl but Angela shoots her with a shotgun, pissing off Owen because he needed her alive. Angela doesn’t care because all she wants is to get the fuck out of the building, which is really rather understandable to be honest. She starts to beat the shit out of Owen in order to try and get him to authorise their departure and when the one remaining GEO officer tries to get her to stop, she shoots him. Owen then realises that the demon has possessed Angela. She reveals that she can impersonate his voice, kills him, radios the outside and tells them using Owen’s voice that, though he is infected, he is authorising the exit of one female survivor. It is then revealed through a flash back that when the Zombie girl caught Angela during the end of the last film, she didn’t kill her, she just deposited a large, fleshy thing which I’m guessing is the demon into her mouth. Unfortunately this reminded me of ‘Friday The 13Tth IX: Jason Goes To Hell’ which is one of the worst films of that particular franchise and that’s saying something.

Well that was REC 2. So what did I think of it? In all honestly, I was actually pretty disappointed. The film just lacked that certain, indescribable something that the original had. It also left me pretty fucking confused about a number of things. Firstly, just how much influence does the Catholic Church have over the Spanish government? Is it really so much that they can use their resources in order to propagate massive cover-ups regarding mass demonic possession? Seriously, is the way things happen in European countries where their King didn’t break ties with Mother Church because he wanted to get a divorce? It just seemed highly unlikely is all I’m saying.

Secondly, the idea that you couldn’t see the Zombie girl in the light just really pissed me off. She’s still a physical being right? She’s not become a ghost, I mean she can still carry a hammer, so why is she’s invisible in the dark? The explanation that the light blinds them from seeing the path seemed a little lacking, especially because at that point she doesn’t even have the physical demon inside her anymore, Angela does. Surely she’s the one who should be invisible… I dunno. I honestly think that the only reason they did it is because they knew how people reacted to seeing her in the first film purely through the night vision camera and didn’t want to dilute that by showing her in the light.

Thirdly, the teenagers were fucking annoying.

Despite it’s faults, this is still a moderately enjoyable Spanish horror film but that’s the problem. It’s only moderately enjoyable and I’m sure that viewing it back to back with the original would only make it seem worse. I expected so much more from this and just came away feeling disappointed though I did find the idea of a Zombie hive-mind kind of interesting and certainly something I don’t think I’ve seen before although it does beg the question as to if one Zombie spots them why don’t the rest instantly know where they are and head there to attack them. It’s also a pretty interesting take on the possession genre which, let’s be honest, has been pretty much been ‘The Exorcist’ and movies very much like it since the 70s. Oh, and the picture in picture stuff was kinda cool as well. It’s kind of the logical progression of that last scene in the ‘The Blair Witch Project’, enabling you to watch one character go investigate one thing whilst still hearing the audio from the other characters as well.

Oh, and that Zombie girl was still creepy, shambling and waving that hammer about. Overall, REC 2 gets three pints out of five. Laterz




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