Thursday, 8 October 2015


The giallo is so intrinsically tied to the Italian cultural milieu of the 1960s, '70s and '80s that it's not surprising that almost all of the modern attempts to revive the genre have fizzled. Even recent attempts by some of the form's previous masters (Argento and De Palma) have flopped pretty miserably. These films were so much a product of time and place that to try and reproduce them now almost always comes off as cringingly artificial.

No surprise then that the two best 21st century gialli - Amer and The Editor - both succeed because they take the familiar tropes, imagery and music of the genre and reshape the formula to create something fresh. As for Amer, although it has all the trappings, Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani's film isn't really a giallo in the traditional sense at all. Rather, it's an art film that takes the genre's tendency towards style over substance to its extreme, using its visuals and music to create an experience that's more sensory and emotive than it is thrilling and titillating. It was a daring gamble, and Amer is all the more interesting for it*.

With The Editor, Astron-6's approach is (of course) the polar opposite. Rather than high-minded art wankery, Adam Brooks and Matthew Kennedy go the unabashedly lowbrow route, upping the ante on the sex, gore and music to the nth degree. The result is pure exploitation bliss: a glorious explosion of sweaty flesh, gushing blood, creaking leather, flashing steel and pumping synth beats. The Editor is the real deal, the most entertaining giallo sleaze-fest in 20 years.

It may seem unlikely that the best giallo in decades is an all out spoof of the genre, but its success lies in the way that Brooks and Kennedy treat the material. They don't pander to mainstream audiences whose previous exposure may begin and end at a casual TV viewing of Dressed to Kill (although many of the gags are very broad, a lot of the film's humour would fly well over the heads of the uninitiated). This is a love letter by and for the hardcore fans, a perfect balance of parody tempered with genuine love and respect for the films it's sending up. As ridiculous as things get in The Editor, there are moments throughout that could easily pass as believable clips from a real giallo. One of the things that lends it such an air of respectful authenticity is the way the convoluted narrative follows the same nonsensical dream logic that's such a cornerstone of many of the original movies. By the end of the film you have that same trippy feeling of having woken out of a dream (albeit one that you laughed your ass off through).

As impressive as the blood-letting is here, the thing that really stands out is the sheer amount of sleazy nudity and sex. The Editor rides the thin line between spoofing misogyny and being guilty of it itself pretty precariously, but personally I thought it was all hilariously funny and tastefully done. The women who disrobed for this movie are all great sports**, and it's all in the service of laughing at how idiotically stupid the machismo and sexism of '60s and '70s cinema could be.

As to the actual performances beyond the physical requirements, the whole cast does a great job of acting terribly, getting it just right so as to not overdo it. Everyone's bad line reading and emoting is just underplayed enough to be funny instead of hammy, and the dubbed dialogue is spot on, again, not too hammy. Udo Kier turns up in characteristically creepy form, and Paz de la Huerta is just deliciously weird in every second of her screen time. Most impressive though is Human Centipede veteran Laurence R. Harvey, showing real chops and charisma here.

However, where The Editor truly soars is in its visuals and score. It looks amazing, far more impressive than what you'd expect from a budget of aprox 150,000. The prerequisite splashes of primary colour really pop off the screen; the set dressing is great; and the handsomely framed 2.35:1 cinematography is often beautiful (if sometimes obviously making fun of the hyper stylised nature of giallo aesthetics). Most impressive of all are some vfx sequences that are real eye openers. The score is a killer orgy of synthwave bangers from the likes of Carpenter Brut ("Le Perv" provides one of the film's most pulse-pounding moments), Vercetti Technicolor and Hook Lab (I think Claudio Simonetti may have contributed something as well).

Brooks and Kennedy fill the movie with an avalanche of fun references and homages. As well as all the expected giallo references, there are nods to Videodrome (a little on the nose that one maybe?); Argento's Three Mothers trilogy; and a subtle reference to Stuart Gordon's From Beyond. The big surprise is that in the end The Editor is much a loving homage to Fulci's The Beyond as it is to gialli. There are three major nods to it throughout the movie, and one in particular had me grinning from ear to ear. There's also a pleasing little meta touch during the end credits, when the editor's name is revealed to be Rey Ciso (the film's fictional Editor, its actual editor is Brooks), timed to coincide with a sinister music cue. Very nicely done.

Every aspect of the production is top notch, not least of which is the gorgeous promotional art provided by some of today's hottest poster artists, including Akiko Stehrenberger, Gary Pullin, Justin Erickson and Graham Humphreys (who also painted a trio of killer faux posters for the film). Feast your eyes below.

Astron-6 really nailed this one. The Editor is a funny, gory, sleazy and stylish good time that I just can't recommend highly enough. Get it from Shout! Factory here.

*Cattet and Forzani's followup - The Strange Colour of Your Body's Tears - didn't live up to the promise of Amer. Still beautiful to look at, but a bit of a chore to sit through.

**Surprisingly, the usually perpetually naked Paz de la Huerta reveals the least flesh here.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

TURBO KID - No Tomorrow

Summer is making an early appearance here this week (thanks Exxon!), so let's celebrate with a dose of ultra saccharine and posi synthwave, courtesy of Canada's Le Matos. "No Tomorrow" perfectly captures the earnest sweetness and fun of Turbo Kid, a movie that I highly recommend for anyone who needs some cheering up. Laurence Leboeuf (that's her in the artwork above) is so damned cute and endearing in her performance as Apple, your heart will surely melt. Oh, and Michael fucking Ironside. And constant explosions of very wet practical gore. And rad BMX action.

The version with vocals by PAWWS doesn't really do it for me, the instrumental from Turbo Kid is the only way to go. 7'' available from Death Waltz/Mondo. Bandcamp below.

Monday, 5 October 2015


Boise, Idaho's Smuts unleashed this five song bulldozer a couple of years ago and then promptly vanished. The Ubijen EP is 7.5 minutes of toxically addicting hardcore, full of the kind of riffs that you find yourself absently humming days later and thinking "fuck, what's that from, it's rad". Take notes punk: the gear shift at 00:27 of "Trash Cop" and the chugging breakdown seconds later; the swaggering groove after the solo in "Cern". These are the highs, but there are no lows on this EP, it smashes me from start to finish every time. Does anyone know what any of these guys are up to now? I'd like to know.

Sunday, 4 October 2015


I'm getting a real early Henenlotter vibe from this trailer for upcoming indie Deep Dark. Writer/director Michael Medaglia's debut looks like it might be cut from the same fucked up cloth as the maverick New Yorker's 1988 psychedelic shocker, Brain Damage. I know I'm just projecting, but in the absence of any new work from the now 65-year-old master (since 2008's more than satisfactory comeback, Bad Biology), how can you blame me? I'm jonesing for a fix of Frank, so I'll take what I can get.

This weird looking oddity is coming from little distributor that could Uncork'd, who are starting to make a name for themselves as a distro of interesting low budget horror. Previously, they've brought us the Cronenbergian modern Frankenstein tale Closer to God; Mark Hartley's Patrick remake; and the creepy haunted camera shocker Skew. The vid won't embed for some reason, but you can check out the trailer at Shock Till You Drop HERE.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

A SERBIAN FILM soundtrack

Love it or loath it, you can't deny the impact of Srdjan Spasojevic's notorious atrocity exhibition. One of A Serbian Film's stronger elements is Wikluh Sky's menacing score, the perfect complement for the film's slick display of onscreen depravity. As far as I know it's never had an official release of any kind, and I'd long ago given up on trying to find it. Then out of the blue the other day, I stumbled on this youtube stream of the full OST.

The surefire hit is obviously "Balkan Sex God". With a sinister and monotonous dubstep plod, it plays like the soundtrack to every skeezy strip club and fluoro-lit nightclub toilet in Eastern Europe. It's the banality of evil set to music. A good track to be sure, but the real winner for me is "Decollection", a haunting pizzicato rendition of the film's theme, accompanied by malevolent synth and the tormented howls of poor Milos' damned soul.

0:00 - The End
3:18 - Tone Deaf
8:23 - Decollection
11:18 - Rigor Mortis
14:25 - Radio Rave
20:28 - Serbia
24:40 - Unsee It
26:56 - Le Club Filth
31:22 - W.F.S.
38:30 - Balkan Sex God

Sunday, 27 September 2015


With the news currently circulating that Bauhaus vocalist Peter Murphy has joined the cast of Chris Alexander's upcoming giallo BlackGloveKiller, this seems like an appropriate time to take a look at the poster art for the retro director's films.

For the uninitiated, Alexander is a renowned horror journalist and editor, now a veteran of Fangoria, Gorezone, Rue Morgue and Delirium. His passion for classic Euro-horror has recently seen him switch roles from commentator to creator, as the writer/director and composer of several shoestring-budget arthouse horror flicks. His approach is thoroughly old school, favouring style and mood over action and narrative, which can be frustrating for adrenaline junkies, but rewarding for the patient. The only one I've seen, Blood for Irina, is an ardent love letter to the films of Jean Rollin and Jess Franco, saturated with the same visual and auditory atmosphere that the two auteurs traded in. If that's your thing, it's well worth seeking out. As well as his upcoming giallo (which is in early development I believe), Chris has an LP of original music and soundtrack cues coming out next month. It's on the excellent Giallo Disco label and is titled Music for Murder, natch. 

The Blood for Irina poster seems like a nod to the naive staginess of some of the original Redemption Films video covers.

This first Queen of Blood artwork takes a "novel" approach to throwback graphics, emulating the look of old paperbacks (complete with edgewear and fading) as opposed to the usual folded one-sheet. Nice.

This poster wears its influences so unabashedly that the typography for "werewolf" is identical to that of the original UK posters for Rino Di Silvestro's Werewolf Woman. Don't believe me? Take a look.

The style of this first BlackGloveKiller artwork is reminiscent of Enzo Sciotti and similar artists. Love it.

Friday, 25 September 2015

The Colour Out of Space

Great news today as SpectreVision has announced its plans to back Richard Stanley's adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft's short story The Colour Out of Space. Stanley, whose Hardware is a certifiable DIY sci-fi classic, is just the kind of maverick director to tackle Lovecraft (see also Stuart Gordon). I'm far more interested in seeing his vision of HPL's universe than someone like del Toro (especially after learning of his plans for At the Mountains of Madness).

SpectreVision is the baby of Elijah "Maniac" Wood (a self professed horror freak) and Josh Waller (director of the Zoe Bell actioners Raze and the upcoming Camino), who envisioned it as a production company and distributor that specialises in quality indie horror/genre films. So far they've distributed some great flicks, including Ana Lily Amirpour's highly acclaimed A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, and have some cool looking movies in development (The Greasy Strangler). They're the perfect backers for a Stanley joint.

The word is that Stanley's screenplay is excellent. In his own words:

"There needs to be a scary Lovecraft movie. I want to make a bad trip film, and The Colour Out of Space definitely has what it takes to be a very, very bad trip indeed."

The story (said to be Lovecraft's personal favourite) is about a farm that is blighted by a mysterious meteorite, poisoning and mutating the surrounding countryside before sending the farm's residents insane... and worse. It's almost certainly the precursor of any number of similar sci-fi/horror stories, from The Blob and The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill to Night of the Creeps and Slither. It was adapted in 2010 (on a shoestring) by German filmmaker Huan Vu under the title Die Farbe.

Let's hope this one comes to fruition...

Thursday, 24 September 2015


NYC's three most controversial and divisive bands are headed down under, just in time for Halloween. If Hank Wood, Crazy Spirit and Dawn of Humans manage to sneak past our notoriously cockblocking border security, it'll be interesting to see how they're received by the more PC elements of the Aussie punk scene. Earlier this year Dickies front man Leonard Graves Phillips landed himself in hot water when he punched and verbally abused an obnoxiously drunk female punter at their Brisbane show. The news spread, and at the Sydney show the next night a lot of people were pissed off, and I know of quite a few who stayed home too. It would appear that idealism and ethics aren't quite dead around here yet (as far as my position: the Sydney show was great, but yeah, he was clearly in the wrong).

Anyway, I'm cynical and flexible enough to not give much of a fuck about my moral imperfections. There's so much hype surrounding this pack of weird NY mutants that I have to see what all the fuss is about for myself. To be honest, The Hammerheads I can take or leave, too Crampsy and swampy for me. Crazy Spirit and Dawn of Humans on the other hand are something else. Demented hardcore, made by freaks for freaks, and buried within the galloping beats and always-threatening-to-spin-out-of-control looseness of both bands are some of the sickest hooks around.

Dawn of Humans are the real standout of the three. Rudimentary Peni get blind drunk and try to play covers by Die Kreuzen, Winnipeg's Kittens and Vancouver's Gus while fronted by a raving lunatic. Or something, I don't know, comparisons are stupid. And their shows look highly entertaining. If you're one of the few who hasn't already had their head bashed in by this year's scorching Slurping at the Cosmos Spine, you'd better get on board the crazy bus. Favourite tracks: "Painful Mountain", "Horse Blind" and "Fog Sclope". Great to see some NY punk headed our way, now where's my AJAX tour??

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Suspiriorum Aeternae!

I'm no longer dead against the current trend of remaking the horror classics of the '70s and '80s. I used to bitch about it endlessly, but I've made my peace with it. The fact is that we now live in a world where classics like Dawn of the Dead, The Hills Have Eyes and Maniac have all been superbly remade. If anything, the good remakes enhance the legacy of the originals, while the poor ones are simply swept under the rug and forgotten.

So what is the trick to crafting a good horror remake? I doubt it's anything more than exactly the same factors that make any successful movie work. Good filmmaking seems to be the result of lightning in a bottle - a fluky convergence of talented, like-minded people who happen to be in the right place at the right time. To suggest that a film is the visionary creation of any single person (i.e. the director) is a falsehood. It's become a kind of shorthand when discussing movies, but it's an over-simplification of a very complicated process. Good movies - remakes or otherwise - spring from the successful collaboration of scores of artists, craftspeople and technicians. Zack Snyder isn't a director that I'm particularly fond of, but his Dawn of the Dead works like gangbusters because his strengths as a visual stylist and skillful action director fused perfectly with James Gunn's excellent screenplay and a killer cast led by Sarah Polley. Remove any one of those elements and it might have been a failure.

You can also apply that same logic to answer a question that's burned people up for decades: why was there such a sudden and drastic change in the aesthetics and quality of Argento's movies after Opera (or Trauma or The Stendhal Syndrome if that's your preference)? You have to look at the players who worked alongside him throughout his golden years (Deep Red - Opera in my opinion), and are then conspicuously absent afterwards. Producer (and father) Salvatore Argento; production designer/art director Giuseppe Bassan; editor Franco Fraticelli; cinematographers Luciano Tovoli and Romano Albani; Argento's then partner and muse Daria Nicolodi; and of course, Goblin. During this period he was most definitely not working in a creative vacuum*.

All this rambling about remakes and Argento brings me to the latest sacred cow to be sacrificed to the remake gods: Suspiria. After slipping through David Gordon Green's fingers, the project has fallen into the hands of an interesting Italian director who seems a good fit for the material. Luca Guadagnino is the director of 2009's acclaimed I Am Love (Io sono l'amore), a film that features a visual style that is noticeably reminiscent of Argento's heyday. The cinematographer on I Am Love was one Yorick Le Saux, and the way his Steadicam prowls and weaves through the film's interiors strongly recalls the camera acrobatics and architectural cinematography of Suspiria and Tenebre**. Guadagnino and Le Saux have worked together frequently, so going back to that idea of prolonged, successful collaborations, we can only hope that the two are reteaming for the Suspiria redux***.

Honestly, the thing that has me most jazzed about all this is that Suspiria has been given to an Italian director, one with classical European sensibilities who is not a horror auteur. The possibilities that arise from this are more interesting than if the film had been handed to someone obvious like Aja or Bustillo & Maury. As visionary as they may be, directors like that can be creatively hemmed in, simply by being too close to their influences. Argento's 1977 masterpiece has had such an enduring impact because it's more than just a horror movie. It's a crazed, fever-dream of art and imagination, birthed from a group of incendiary minds at the peak of their creativity, and during a period of radical cinematic experimentation. The remake should be given the artistic freedom to once again break the horror mold to become something new and hopefully dangerous. You can read some interesting quotes from Guadagnino on the direction he wants to take the remake in here.

*There are exceptions to this hypothesis of course. Ronnie Taylor, cinematographer on the gorgeously shot Opera, would return for Phantom of the Opera and Sleepless, and although those films do recall some of the visual flair of Argento's early films, Taylor's work there is but a pale imitation. Goblin's score for Sleepless and Claudio Simonetti's ongoing work on The Card Player and Mother of Tears proved that they too were not immune to late career mediocrity. Most confoundingly (and depressingly), Suspiria and Tenebre's Luciano Tovoli would return to shoot the truly shitty looking Dracula 3D.

**Le Saux also shot Jim Jarmusch's beautiful Only Lovers Left Alive, so he's shown that he can do gothic atmosphere with the best of them.

***Guadagnino is a director who obviously values continued partnerships, having worked with the brilliant Tilda Swinton constantly throughout his career. He's gone on record as saying that he hopes to bring her on board for Suspiria, along with the rest of the cast of his most recent film, A Bigger Splash (including the consistently excellent Ralph Fiennes).

artwork by John Salinero and Malleus

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Wipe that Shit​-​Eating Grin off your Punchable Face!

Wednesday, 9 September 2015


Over the last year Steve Moore's name has cropped up a couple of times here at the EYE, as his killer retro synth scores are a standout feature of both Adam Wingard's The Guest and recent Belgian slasher Cub. The man who wrote his first scores for low budget gorefests The Redsin Tower and Gutterballs is now making a real name for himself as an electronic composer of the highest order. I'm dying to hear what he has in store for Joe Begos' upcoming Scanners homage, The Mind's Eye, as Moore is a perfect fit for the material). A choice cut from The Guest...

...and here's a beauty from Cub. The intro part of this track is reminiscent of Ennio Morricone's score for The Thing, after which it morphs into the more typical Carpenter sound that's a mainstay of Moore's work:

As everyone reading this is doubtless already aware, Moore is also the keyboard and bass half of ZOMBI, his longtime band with drummer Anthony Paterra. Over the years the duo (who hail from the same town where Romero shot Night, Dawn and Day) have surpassed their reputation as mere Goblin and Carpenter acolytes, and are now the reigning kings of the horror/sci-fi related prog/space rock and synthwave scene. As with bands like Goblin and Trans Am, the inclusion of live drumming and bass kicks things into overdrive, making their music noticeably more visceral and heavy than many of their synthwave brethren.

My favourite ZOMBI jam to date is the title track from 2009's Spirit Animal LP. Their music is very cinematic (obviously), but this 14 minute epic is so evocative that I can't listen to it without daydreaming about the images that might accompany it on screen. Split into three parts, "Spirit Animal" seems to be telling a story. As the track's anthemic opening segues into a beautiful giallo-esque melody, and finally into a transcendent crescendo, it's easy to imagine it as a powerful accompaniment to an extended sequence filmed as a dialogue-free visual narrative. Have a listen for yourself, you'll see what I mean:

After a four year hiatus, following 2011's pulse pounding Escape Velocity, ZOMBI are back next month with a new nine track LP called Shape Shift. If these new tracks - "Pillars of the Dawn" (which could be a lost track from Goblin's DOTD score) and "Mission Creep" (fuck Moore knows his way around a bass) - are any indication, we could be in for their best stuff yet.

Friday, 4 September 2015

Gary Pullin

The laptop screen is the retina of the mind's eye, and judging by the look of your bloodshot orbs you've been staring at yours for far too long. Take a break from squinting at all that tiny type, and sooth those sore peepers with some of Ghoulish Gary's E.C. Comics infused insanity. Horror graphics at their very best, because your eyeballs deserve only the finest.