17 October 2015

October 17th

The Editor (2014) directed by Adam Brooks & Matthew Kennedy
I love Astron-6. They're a gang of crazy Canadians who started off making amusing shorts for the Internet before working up to creating their first feature, Father's Day. They followed that up with the utterly crazy Manborg, a parody of cheezy sci-fi flicks like Full Moon's Mandroid. The Editor is their take on '70s/'80s Italian horror movies and it is a meticulous and ridiculous satire of every goofy theme or shot or character type you could possibly remember from those films.

Argento-style colored lighting decorates many of the shots. There's a black glove-wearing killer. An innocent film editor is framed for the killer's murders... but maybe he isn't so innocent? There's bad dubbing and random characters with Italian accents. There's unnecessary nudity everywhere. Blood sprays in torrents of bright red. Everyone acts like exaggerated versions of the characters in those old movies, with the chain smoking, and the bizarre personal interactions, and the slapping. Lots and lots of slapping. I loved it.

If there's a large flaw with the film, it's that you need to be familiar with Italian horror movies in order to be in on the joke. At one point, a door is being chopped open with an ax in order to free a girl caught by the killer. As the wood splinters near her face, everyone watching the movie who had seen The Beyond was completely expecting some eyeball trauma. The filmmakers knew we'd expect such a thing and cleverly substitute the eyeball damage with something else. Still, the other folks watching the film with no Italian horror knowledge were laughing up a storm at the silliness, so even this is no big deal.

Neon Maniacs (1986) directed by Joseph Mangine
Of the silly movies I brought with me for the second feature of the night, this one was picked. It's a forgotten near-gem from the height of the Freddy-Jason era. If having one slasher villain in your horror movie is cool, why not shove 13 slasher villains into the film and have it 13 times as cool? Not unlike a list of He-Man villains, the antagonists of Neon Maniacs are:

  1. Ape
  2. Archer
  3. Axe
  4. Decapitator
  5. Doc
  6. Hangman
  7. Juice
  8. Mohawk
  9. Punk Biker
  10. Samurai
  11. Scavenger
  12. Slasher
  13. Soldier
They live in a maintenance garage in the base of the Golden Gate Bridge and come out at night to wreck havoc on sinning teens. It's an incredibly ambitious idea: unleashing a baker's dozen of slasher creeps into a major American city. It almost works.

I think the movie's main problem was that it couldn't manage quite this many villains successfully. Ape, Archer, Hangman, Juice, Mohawk, and Samurai get the lion's share of the screentime, with the other half of the group showing up to varying degrees here and there. Mostly, they're after the one survivor of their first attack. Thirteen monsters chasing one girl sounds like it has potential, but they fail to pull it off here. There's an anemic chase on a subway train, and Ape spies on her a little while she swims, but they fail to rally their entire crew appropriately to take care of this survivor.

Still, there's some cool stuff in the film. The main character's dream of raining blood while she's in her swimming pool is very visually striking. The sheer variety of maniacs guarantees there'll be at least one or two you'll really like (my favorite: Juice, just because the guy looked *so* happy when he got to drive the subway train). They all have their own personal methods of killing teens, so there's also a great variety of vintage '80s SFX deaths to enjoy.

The bizarre reaction of the main girl to her circumstances is also plenty amusing. The day after witnessing her entire group of friends being massacred, she cheerfully goes to school. Later she has time to flirt with a grocery delivery boy and attend a school dance. I'm almost tempted to say the entire movie is a metaphor for this girl's incredibly strong case of denial. Maybe the maniacs were all in her head and she was the killer?

1 comment:

  1. Neon Maniacs, that's one I haven't thought about in a while! I too remember the scene of the one Maniac joyously driving the subway train. Not sure why that stuck with me all these years.