Archives for December 2008 | Varied Celluloid

Archive for December, 2008

New Look!

Posted by Josh Samford On December - 30 - 2008

Well, it’s a new look, but I’m working on it. Basically scratched the theme for the site I had started writing from scratch. It was way too buggy and apparently I don’t know what I’m doing, who’d have thunk it! Anyway, I took another three column theme and have so far just scratched the surface in terms of adapting it to my needs – but hopefully others will like it! It’s the least dark the site has ever been – but hey, this isn’t just a horror site or anything so it’s free to be down with whatever.

Anywho, more reviews to come. Today I’ll be busy getting all of my Rogue Cinema stuff together but after that I’ll get back on the site. Be cool everybody!

Isle of the Damned Review

Posted by Josh Samford On December - 26 - 2008

I know, I know. A little late with any updates around here. I’ve been doing my best to work out a new design for the site – but have been running into a ton of bugs and troubles. About to scrap my previous idea and start fresh. While I was doing that I figured I’d get at least one review up here for Christmas day! Finished it last night pretty much, so it still counts as Christmas! Hope all enjoy! Have a happy new year everyone!

The Review: Although the Italian genre scene is one that is rife for parody, few filmmakers have taken up the torch to actually lampoon what was probably the silliest and most over-the-top cinematic movie business the world will likely ever see. Only in Italy during the seventies/eighties could films such as Cannibal Ferox, The New Gladiators and Emanuelle in America have been made – especially with the intention of actually making a profit. During the better part of the nineties, if you knew about films such as these or if you actually owned them and had more films from these subgenres – you could consider yourself pretty far “in the know”. With the boom of the internet however and a wealth of cinematic knowledge at the fingertips of any would-be-geek, we’ve seen a fairly dramatic rise in the popularity of these films with American audiences and horror fans the world over. A decade ago, the title “Cannibal Holocaust” was almost universally unknown – however thanks to dozens of little film geeks parading their knowledge in various other internet cultures – the majority of film fans out there have at least heard of this influential and disturbing horror great. Now it seems, thanks to the folks at Dire Wit Films, we actually have what has to be the first Italian cannibal parody. I never thought I would see the day.

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Isle of the Damned

Posted by Josh Samford On December - 25 - 2008


The Plot: Jack Steele (best name EVER!) is hired to lead an expedition on Cannibal Island (worst name EVER!) in order to find the lost treasure of Marco Polo. Along with his adopted son Billy, their crew master who wants to hump billy’s backside and assorted pirate companions Jack must fight his way through the unforgiving jungles in order to track down this mysterious treasure. However, and prepare to be shocked right now, Cannibal Island is overrun with CANNIBALS! They immediately attack the new inhabitants and Jack loses the majority of his crew. Thankfully Jack and Billy are rescued though when they encounter Alexis Kincaid – a recluse anthropologist who has taken his place on the island in order to better understand how the cannibals live – as he feels that modern man is a far greater savage than they. Together the three must venture back out into the jungle and save the rapist crew master who has been kidnapped by the cannibals – and then find their escape. Who will survive, and how many pieces will be left of them? Dun, Dun, DUNNNNN!!!





The Review: Although the Italian genre scene is one that is rife for parody, few filmmakers have taken up the torch to actually lampoon what was probably the silliest and most over-the-top cinematic movie business the world will likely ever see. Only in Italy during the seventies/eighties could films such as Cannibal Ferox, The New Gladiators and Emanuelle in America have been made – especially with the intention of actually making a profit. During the better part of the nineties, if you knew about films such as these or if you actually owned them and had more films from these subgenres – you could consider yourself pretty far “in the know”. With the boom of the internet however and a wealth of cinematic knowledge at the fingertips of any would-be-geek, we’ve seen a fairly dramatic rise in the popularity of these films with American audiences and horror fans the world over. A decade ago, the title “Cannibal Holocaust” was almost universally unknown – however thanks to dozens of little film geeks parading their knowledge in various other internet cultures – the majority of film fans out there have at least heard of this influential and disturbing horror great. Now it seems, thanks to the folks at Dire Wit Films, we actually have what has to be the first Italian cannibal parody. I never thought I would see the day.

I was contacted by the Dire Wit Films crew via myspace a little while back. They offered to send me a screener, and although I get pretty burdened down with independent film reviews over at Rogue Cinema, I was sold after watching the trailer. A parody of Italian cannibal films? Without question, I consider it one of my favorite subgenres – even despite the fact that I realize only one out of every five of these flicks amounts to even the worth of cinematic fertilizer. For every Cannibal Holocaust or Jungle Holocaust, you’re bound to sit through a Cannibals/Cannibal Terror/Emanuelle & The Last Cannibals/etc. When finally receiving the film however; so much had I forgot from that little trailer I had watched and so little did I know what to expect that the film was able to catch me completely off guard. Isle of the Damned isn’t just a parody set from the outside, it’s a parody of a genre that most film fans simply aren’t going to have previous knowledge for. It’s a flick full of inside jokes and is so much a product of one time and era that it carries on the tradition of these films it apes and actually contributes to their legacy.

The film, although without the budget to actually be completely successful in mocking the look and feel of these films, does an incredible job with what it has. The filmmakers also have no problem in having a laugh at their own lack of financing by giving the actors the worst possible wigs and props one could conjure up. I am reminded of the equally entertaining internet program Italian Spiderman which takes a similar direction in the fact that it apes Italian genre cinema, but in a much less direct approach. That series creates a sort of mix-mash of Italian genre staples and throws them in the midst of an action genre that simply never existed. Isle of the Damned however is much easier to track down just what influenced what – as it wears all of its influences on its sleeve. From the wavy blonde hair of our hero Jack (who reminds me a lot of Richard Harrison or any number of Italian leading men of the time) and his impossibly dark mismatched fake mustache, the puffed out fake blonde wig that his girlfriend wears, the Giallo-esque lighting that permeates almost every indoor scene – if you’ve seen much of Italian genre film you have seen these characters before.

The absolutely horrible dubbing of the film, well, I can’t really say I am reminded of anything in particular from the Italian horror scene. Nothing that jumps directly into mind – however, I am reminded of a few German horrors that have come to America in recent years and have had the misfortune of carrying over some of the worst voiceover dubbing in all of history. I am thinking of Andreas Schnaas’ Zombie 90: Extreme Pestilence in particular, which by itself isn’t that great of a zombie flick, but combined with the intensely bad voiceover acting – it becomes quite the unintentionally hilarious little masterpiece. One character in particular has went down in infamy, a nerdy white doctor who was apparently voiced over by what sounded like a burly African American man. The character of Jack, our hero in this film, seems to have shared a similar fate. I can’t say for sure if this is what the filmmakers were referencing in particular, but I certainly wouldn’t put it past them. Particularly after seeing just how gory this nasty little number gets; these guys just have to be fans of Schnaas – and if they’re not, they should be.

At thirteen minutes into the film, you’re welcomed to the real world of Isle of the Damned in a very special little welcoming scene. Imagine some of the most over the top acting as a man is tied between two trees and violently tries to tear himself away from the cannibals threatening him. Now imagine this scene isn’t exactly all that disturbing due to character being dubbed over with the voice of a whining teenage boy. Then imagine the previous lighthearted attempts at comedy being shattered in an instance as the scene grows more complex as we the audience are tortured with one of THE MOST DISGUSTING CASTRATION SEQUENCES YOU WILL EVER SEE! I kid you not, I’ve seen all the ‘greats’. Cannibal Ferox doesn’t compare, the scene in August Underground: Mordum is probably still a little worse – but it isn’t the actual ‘sawing’ through the shaft that makes this one all that bad. It’s the poking, prodding and opening of the wound afterwards that really sets off the vomit alarm. Testicles, strands of god knows what and other unmentionables are devoured by our cannibal lunatics (who look exactly like the tribe in Cannibal Holocaust). The scene could have ended there and we’d all have been properly sickened and would have walked away happy – but those sick, brilliant and utterly depraved folks over at Dire Wit had to take it up an extra little notch by having one of the cannibals molest the girlfriend of our poor ex-man with his own decapitated penis. THAT my friends is proper sleaze. If you’re going to take it to an extreme, you might as well kick it up a notch.

Isle of the Damned starts off as a campy spoof of exploitation films, but eventually turns into a brilliant piece of exploitation cinema itself only without the pretensions of grandeur. It certainly helps being familiar with the cannibal genre, but it isn’t a prerequisite in order to enjoy the film. However, for the fans out there, this one is going to blow your minds. An extreme film that lampoons the extreme. Everything you would expect from a z-grade Italian cannibal film is here. The obvious stock footage inserted at every opportune moment, the notes written in Italian but dubbed over through dialogue in English and of course the blatant homages to Cannibal Holocaust such as the infamous image of impalement (seen in the picture gallery) and the speer dragged across the chest that leaves a trail of blood (one of the hokiest FX shots of both movies). I mean, they actually verbalize the entire “modern man is the TRUE savage!” message that most of these films carried with them for pete’s sake. At this point I’ve written more about the film than I do for most – but the fact is there’s so much to stop and talk about when discussing the movie. It’s a flick that’s made for a very niche audience, but for those who can enjoy this sort of thing – it’s a true breath of fresh air. In a film where almost every possible taboo is broken, to say this one isn’t for all audiences is definitely an understatement.. There’s necrophilia, a man eating diarrhea, ritual gangrape on a tied up man, knifes up the rectum, sex with a rabbit… yeah, this flick does indeed rule. However, if any of that offends you, the descriptions don’t even do the film service. I’m giving Isle a four out of five. It’s a hard choice, but it’s tough to give it a perfect rating when not everyone will be able to enjoy the low budget stylings or the extreme gore and perversity. Still, I can’t tell you enough how much I enjoyed the film. You can find more about Dire Wit Films at their personal website HERE.



My Name Is Bruce Review

Posted by Josh Samford On December - 11 - 2008

Hey guys, I’m aware of the image galleries being down right now for some reason – upgraded WordPress and of course now everything appears to have went crazy – but for now at least you can READ my review for Bruce Campbell’s latest cult classic. The much heralded My Name Is Bruce – now located on Varied Celluloid!

The Review: If you’ve been living under a rock for the past two decades, or if you’re just “too cool” for all of this cult cinema geeky madness – let me explain something to you. Bruce Campbell is the greatest American actor who has every been. Robert DeNiro? Wow, what did he do, get punched alot in Raging Bull? Did he ever lop the head off a rushing deadite or tell a woman plain face “give me some sugar, baby!”? He simply couldn’t. Don’t even get me started on Brando and how he would fair against the Evil Dead. If you haven’t got the point yet, Bruce Campbell’s fans can be a bit rabid. The reason for this is his portrayal of the character Ash in the Evil Dead trilogy, a series that may go down as one of the most important and beloved of the entire horror genre. What was once a cult phenomena with only an army of simple horror geeks at its disposal has turned into a legion of many due mainly to the fact that if a person is introduced to the Evil Dead films – nine times out of ten, they will love it just as much as you do. With films like that it’s hard to imagine how they became “cult” hits in the first place, but Army of Darkness in my opinion is that one piece of cinematic excellence that can build bridges between just about everybody. How could anyone dislike such a film?

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My Name Is Bruce

Posted by Josh Samford On December - 11 - 2008
The Plot: After a group of teenagers partying around a cemetery accidentally break the chains that have held Guan Di, an ancient Chinese spirit and protector of Tofu, he is let loose and takes aim at any mortal beings remotely close to his graveyard. The surviving teen, who is also a major Horror movie fan, only knows one person to call: Bruce Campbell. The horror hero of the Evil Dead series, who is in all actuality a very bitter b-movie actor fed up with his particular role in the universe. When the teen shows up at Bruce’s trailer, he’s a little drunk but knows better than to run away with one of his crazed fans – however, he isn’t smart or sober enough to see the kidnapping that is coming his way. When he awakens from the trunk of the teenagers car, he comes to the conclusion that this must all be the birthday present that his manager had talked about just days before. So Campbell decides to roll with the punches, that is until he discovers that *gulp* Guan Di is actually real!




The Review: If you’ve been living under a rock for the past two decades, or if you’re just “too cool” for all of this cult cinema geeky madness – let me explain something to you. Bruce Campbell is the greatest American actor who has every been. Robert DeNiro? Wow, what did he do, get punched alot in Raging Bull? Did he ever lop the head off a rushing deadite or tell a woman plain face “give me some sugar, baby!”? He simply couldn’t. Don’t even get me started on Brando and how he would fair against the Evil Dead. If you haven’t got the point yet, Bruce Campbell’s fans can be a bit rabid. The reason for this is his portrayal of the character Ash in the Evil Dead trilogy, a series that may go down as one of the most important and beloved of the entire horror genre. What was once a cult phenomena with only an army of simple horror geeks at its disposal has turned into a legion of many due mainly to the fact that if a person is introduced to the Evil Dead films – nine times out of ten, they will love it just as much as you do. With films like that it’s hard to imagine how they became “cult” hits in the first place, but Army of Darkness in my opinion is that one piece of cinematic excellence that can build bridges between just about everybody. How could anyone dislike such a film?

My Name Is Bruce is an examination of that love and devotion that BC fans commonly have for their idol. Although written in a world that closely resembles our own, the character of Bruce Campbell is a much different version of who the true Campbell appears to be. Instead of the jovial and entertaining fellow who takes out so much time with his loyal fans and is continually cracking wise with them – he portrays himself here as a slobbering drunk, disillusioned by his own career and eaten alive by his own bitter attitude. This is where the heart of the film lies however, in crafting this ‘character’ version of Bruce Campbell – we are given a character who is in some ways similar to the character of Ash; but a much more down to earth and horrifyingly cowardice take on such a role. Where Ash was simply out for himself and looking after his own well being ahead of everyone else, the character of Bruce Campbell is without mincing words: a coward. A yellow bellied, chicken. His initial reaction to Guan Di is hilarious and all telling about this character, as he runs head-first into the woods trying to escape the monster after finding the villagers weren’t lying. The Campbell character becomes endearing based upon just how cowardly/shallow/self absorbed he is, and how far Bruce is able to take the role. One simply wonders where this character came from, and if he could be based on anything real.

The comedy can be hit or miss at times. There are bits where it seems Bruce is simply taking his schtick to the extreme – but these are always saved by the genuinely hilarious moments that are brilliantly played. I can’t go into it, but I nearly woke those in my house up with laughter during the concluding minutes of the film. Really funny stuff and if you weren’t a fan up until then, chances are it’ll prove to be the saving grace of the picture. Though I know not everyone will be as entertained with My Name is Bruce as I was. Truly, it is the definition of a “fan’s film”. From the Evil Dead references such as Ellen Sandweiss making a return once again as a character named “Cheryl”, Dan Hicks from Evil Dead II making a reference to his own character, Timothy Quill from Army of Darkness doing the same as well as playing Hicks’ life partner and a great bit demonstrating Bruce’s being direct opposite to Ash in terms of firearm knowledge. It doesn’t hurt not being able to spot these things but I won’t lie and say it isn’t a good portion of the fun. After all is said and done, I think My Name is Bruce stands firm by itself without these references – but really becomes something much stronger and entertaining with them.

My Name Is Bruce is definitely an Evil Dead fan’s wet dream, and it shows that Bruce even as he grows older in age still has all the qualities that have endeared him to fans the world over. I can’t promise everyone is going to be able to enjoy it like the geeks will. It is far from a perfect film, the shtick is bound to rub some in the audience wrong and at times it seems like Bruce is simply let loose with no restraint – but what can you expect from everyone’s favorite ham leading and directing himself? If you’re reading this and you’re familiar with Evil Dead 2/Army of Darkness, you’ll know one way or another whether this film intrigues you. Chances are it does, and what can I say, I loved it just as much as any geek could. Check it out.



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Varied Celluloid is a film website intent on delivering views on movies from all genres. Started in 2003, the website has been steadfast in its goal and features a database of over 500 lengthy reviews. If you would like to contact us about writing for the website or sending screeners, please visit the about page located here.

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