AMER­I­CAN HOR­ROR PRO­JECT Vol­ume One

Car­ni­vals, cra­zies and cas­tra­tion

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Reviews -

re­leased OUT NOW! 1973/ 1976 | 18 | Blu- ray/ DVD ( dual for­mat)

Di­rec­tors Christo­pher Speeth, Robert

Allen Sch­nitzer, Matt Cim­ber

Cast Ja­nine Carazo, Mil­lie Perkins,

Jerome Dempsey, Sharon Far­rell

Ar­row Video’s lat­est pro­ject show­cases ob­scure, in­de­pen­dent US hor­ror. Vol­ume one col­lects three off­beat, am­bi­tious but flawed ef­forts which col­lec­tively have more in com­mon with Fed­erico Fellini than Freddy Krueger.

In the ham- fisted but woozily dream- like Malat­esta’s Car­ni­val Of Blood, the new own­ers of an amuse­ment park must fend off can­ni­bal­is­tic ghouls. Fea­tur­ing roller­coaster de­cap­i­ta­tion, a glass- eyed killer care­taker and Hervé “Nick Nack” Vil­lechaize, it’s John Wa­ters mak­ing Spi­der Baby, as dreamt by Agent Cooper. The plot’s pa­per- thin and the edit­ing’s rot­ten, but the pro­duc­tion de­sign is quite some­thing. In the se­cret world un­der the car­ni­val there’s real lo- fi, bad- trip in­ge­nu­ity on dis­play – like a VW Bee­tle turned into a rep­til­ian head us­ing plas­tic cups and or­ange bub­ble- wrap.

Also cen­tred on a car­ni­val, The Premonition sees a woman suf­fer vi­sions when her adopted daugh­ter is kid­napped by her in­sane birth mother. Se­ri­ous- minded, it’s drenched in lens flare, with a dis­cor­dant pi­ano score. The script was orig­i­nally a non- genre piece, and it feels like that: the vi­sions aren’t that creepy or in­ter­est­ing. Ba­nal rather than un­canny, it’s no Don’t Look Now. High­light: B- movie icon Richard Lynch do­ing some ran­dom in­ter­pre­ta­tive dance in a car park.

There’s no broom- rid­ing crone in The Witch Who Came From The Sea, just a fe­male se­rial killer warped by child­hood sex­ual abuse. Star Mil­lie Perkins burns a hole in the screen with her crazy, but still en­gages your em­pa­thy. With its ra­zor­blade cas­tra­tions, di­a­logue that’d make a docker blush, and un­set­tling in­cest flash­backs, it’s un­de­ni­ably pow­er­ful… but you couldn’t ex­actly call it en­joy­able.

Ex­tras Malat­esta has de­tailed film his­to­rian com­men­tary; frank, fas­ci­nat­ing in­ter­views with the di­rec­tor, writer and art di­rec­tors ( 36 min­utes); and three min­utes of cut can­ni­bal­is­tic feast­ing. The Premonition gets com­men­tary by di­rec­tor Robert Allen Sch­nitzer, a new Mak­ing Of, and old in­ter­views with Richard Lynch and Sch­nitzer – who’s a tad pre­ten­tious, declar­ing that cinema should, “el­e­vate the hu­man spirit”. More in­ter­est­ing is ev­i­dence of his stu­dent rad­i­cal days: anti- Viet­nam War TV ads, and a short ( one of three) doc­u­ment­ing a 1969 univer­sity oc­cu­pa­tion. Witch’s echoey au­dio track re­unites the di­rec­tor, star and DoP; all three con­trib­ute to a new Mak­ing Of ( 23 min­utes), bol­stered by the Mak­ing Of ( 36 min­utes) and di­rec­tor in­ter­view from a 2014 US re­lease. Be aware: the print, though the best avail­able, is in no­tice­ably poor con­di­tion. Ian Ber­ri­man

The screams of the ghouls in Malat­esta’s Car­ni­val Of Blood were made by slow­ing down the sound of squeaky dog toys.

Thurs­days at the laun­derette were al­ways in­ter­est­ing.

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