MOVIE DUNGEON Kim Newman’s
FROM ITALY TO INDONESIA, A HOTCHPOTCH OF HORRORS
LUCIANO ERCOLI isn’t one of the better-known Italian genre filmmakers, but the new reissues of his 1970s lady-in-peril thrillers Death Walks In High Heels and Death Walks At Midnight are a lot of fun. In High Heels, Susan Scott (aka Nieves Navarro) is a French stripper hiding from a razor-slasher in an English seaside town. In Walks At Midnight, she’s a Milanese model who witnesses (or imagines) a killing while hallucinating. The films are full of sinister suspects, useless cops and boyfriends, shock murders, quaint eccentricity, bursts of action, fabulous ’70s couture and décor and absurdly intricate plots.
Back in the here and now, Derek Mungor and Chris O’brien’s You Are Not Alone is an example of first-person cinema — back in vogue now with Hardcore Henry — that unreels from the POV of the final girl in a slasher movie. The long, not-much-happening opening sequences of a girl (Krista Dzialoszynski) visiting home for the Fourth Of July set up a hectic chased-around-by-a-loon finale. It’s an essay in why most films don’t tell their stories like this as much as it is a suspenseful John Carpenter homage. Adam Robitel’s The Taking (aka
The Taking Of Deborah Logan) is a more conventional found-footage drama. A student crew films Deborah (Jill Larson), a spirited old lady seemingly coping with dementia — it becomes clear she actually has more supernatural problems. It’s a carefully developed premise, with a standout performance from Larson and a solid mystery behind the possession.
Declan Dale, director of Exposed, is the pseudonym adopted by pissed-off auteur Gee Malik Linton because the studio recut his film so it would play more like a Keanu Reeves cop thriller than an inside-the-mind-of-a-damagedwoman movie. It has disorientating elements,\ as albino angels appear to a Dominican girl (Ana de Armas) in New York while Reeves investigates the murder of his crooked partner. The film crashes whenever it threatens to soar, but fragments of what Linton had in mind are visible, and de Armas is very good.
Ritual, from Indonesian writerdirector Joko Anwar, is another puzzle, telling the same story from different viewpoints as a man (Rio Dewanto) wakes up in a shallow grave in the woods and flees persecuting killers. The penny drops halfway through, but the film then brings on new characters and swaps suspense for horror. Finally, Brian James O’connell’s
Bloodsucking Bosses (aka Bloodsucking Bastards) pits sales schmoe Fran Kranz against his new manager (Pedro Pascal), who is so smarmily obnoxious, the fact he’s a vampire is the least upsetting thing about him. Puts your superiors in perspective.
“IT’S A BRILLIANT INTERPRETATION OF CHEESE, WOULDN’T YOU SAY?” DEATH WALKS AT MIDNIGHT