Halloween Horrors are here again, with Varied Celluloid covering the latest in Horror cinema and the greatest of old. This month is a tribute to all things of the macabre, with this front page being taken up by horror reviews and thoughts. Check back daily for new reviews, as the rest of this month will be littered with sessions dealing with the obscure and the grotesque! For today’s update we have one of the most talked about “underground” flicks on the market right now, with Andrey Iskanov’s insanely disgusting Philosophy of a Knife which covers the same group of psychopath doctors who experimented on live subjects as documented in Men Behind the Sun. Will it be the definitive film about Unit 731? Read the review and find out!
The Review: Andrey Iskanov is a filmmaker I have heard a lot about, but seen nothing from. His work has all been snatched up by Unearthed Films – and if there’s any company out there that I trust when it comes to horror, it’s Unearthed. They rarely let you down, have a true love for horror and release some incredibly wicked stuff. Iskanov is best known for his previous expressionist works like Nails and Visions of Suffering; films I have not been fortunate enough to see. However, from what I’ve seen in the trailers Philosophy of a Knife carried over a lot of the same visual style from the director’s previous work and falls right in line with his directorial style. Let me go ahead and state the obvious right off the bat, this film is not going to be for most audiences. It really isn’t. There’s so much going on with Philosophy of a Knife I don’t even know where to begin. Some people are going to really appreciate the creativity behind it and the brutality and unflinching manner in which the director tackles this subject matter. Then a lot of people are going to see it as self indulgent exploitation trying to cover it’s exploitative roots with arthouse pap. That’s just the way it is. I imagine both opinions have their merit and are right in a lot of ways. I personally reside somewhere in the middle, whereas I really enjoy Iskanov’s visual direction, love the overbearing sound FX and think it’s a film that is insane with creativity. However, with a running time of four and a half hours – I couldn’t help but watch the film as both an audience member and a film fan and wonder why this film couldn’t have been trimmed down at least an hour or so. This definitely isn’t going to be the sort of flick to walk in uninitiated, and truthfully I doubt anyone is going to make it all the way through in one sitting – so, preperation is the key with Philosophy of a Knife. With the right frame of mind, the decisions the filmmaker commits to are at least understandable – although that doesn’t mean they aren’t debatable. Some controversy with the film that popped up over the summer happened when Dread Central posted up a review for the film that was completely and utterly negative on all counts; receiving a zero out of five rating with that site. Although I understand how the reviewer may feel that way, I personally usually reserve a rating like that for films that have no technical merit nor anything as far as entertainment. Regardless, the review inspired negative responses from both the folks at Unearthed as well as a very spite-filled letter from Mr. Iskinov himself. You can take either side of the argument and agree with one or the other, which speaks as much for the film as well as this particular situation.