With Lady Pam De Graff
WRITTEN BY: Robert Pratten based upon the novelby William Scheinman
DIRECTED BY: Robert Pratten
FEATURING: Peter Bramhill, Carole Derrien, Christopher Fairbank, Roy Borrett, Steven Burrell, Isabella Jade Fane, Lucy Liemann, Clare Routh GENRE: HORROR/SCI-FI
TAGS: fantasy; aliens; nudity; rape; 100 Weird!
RATING: 8 PINTS OF BLOOD
PLOT: A troubled man with a dark secret unwittingly summons from another dimension, an alien nymphomaniac. She just may represent a race of gods, and they're none too happy about her latest tryst.
COMMENTS: Wow! Mindflesh threw me for a loop and really knocked me back in my
seat! Discovering a prize like this in a media slurry of mainstream mediocrity
is like running across the fabled Star of India in a trash heap.
Slick, fresh, Mindflesh is a bizarre horror yarn about sexual obsession, body disassociation, and morbid metamorphoses. Independent writer/director Robert Patten outdoes himself, making an extreme departure from his first feature length effort, London Voodoo (reviewed below.) Mindflesh is a surreal shocker. It's sexy, grotesque, and provocative. It's a crazy, jarring ride through alternative consciousness, through the chilling, the macabre, the uncanny, and the wantonly perverse. Patten has accomplished the nearly impossible task of visually translating to the screen in a sensible manner, William Scheinman's quirky, metaphysical novel, White Light, replete with all of its dreamlike nuances, grim foreboding atmosphere, and otherworldly Ick! factor.
What transpires in Mindflesh isn't presented via corny, over-simplified exposition, yet we manage to achieve an intuitive grasp of the phenomena that unfolds. The result is a movie that challenges us with its imaginative concepts, yet is not hard to understand.
Chris (Peter Bramhill) lives after dark, quiet, solitary, driving a mini-cab through the swirling night fog along the damp asphalt traverses of darkened London. Dimmed neon signs, empty boulevards, abandoned parking lots, the lonely, sleeping city is his domain. Issuing from the receivers in his cab is the distracted soundtrack to his nocturnal patrolling, a mottled, perpetual backdrop of scratchy radio traffic -dispatch messages, police reports, weather bulletins, and static. It's a world alien to that which most of us are accustomed.
Chris finds out just how alien it can be.
He may have some special sensitivity. Chris is haunted by murky half-memories of something awful from years ago. Increasingly, he suffers from terrifying dreams and hallucinations. From a book, he encounters the hypothesis that trauma warps our plane of existence, creating holes in the fabric of space time through which various phenomena cross between parallel worlds.
Chris's suppressed angst, unmet inner need, wistfulness, and loneliness radiate from him like an aura. By chance, it catches the notice of an enigmatic stranger with a similar perceptive gift.
During his travels through the urban twilight, in shadows, out of the corner of
his eye, in his rear-view mirrors -is it a trick of the light? - Chris gets
mysterious glimpses of an apparition, a woman (Carole Derrien ), solitary,
resolute, watching him.
Her appearance is accompanied by electromagnetic disturbances. His automobile compass spins wildly. Radio transmissions warp and undulate, becoming unintelligible. When Chris approaches the mystery woman, she vanishes into a smoke trail, shimmering out of sight in a spiral of mist.
Chris desires her absolutely. An inter-planar transcendence takes place. The woman achieves a physical manifestation, acquiring form out of thin air. Has Chris willed her into this world, or has she willed herself here, entwining with our plane of existence in order to entwine with Chris?
She flickers in and out of earthly reality, until In an example of utter Pygmalionism gone awry she materializes from the skeleton up. Organs fill in the gaps, skin follows. Slick with lymph and blood, basking in the presence of Chris's humanity, she finalizes like a caterpillar transforming in the chrysalis.
She is a quantum Goddess; sex incarnate, saturated, oozing, seething with desire. She and Chris engage in a ghastly, slimy, ethereal coupling, an obscene union of heaving, illicit, inter-species sex. In her amorous frenzy, the Goddess trashes Chris's apartment, seducing him tirelessly, repeatedly, transforming him into a quivering lump of catatonia. She pulls him into her alien universe and he undergoes a bodily transformation into her peculiar native anatomy.
Problematically, some very frightful aliens make the scene. They have heavy grievances about Goddess leaving her plane for the earthly realm. They're willing to do some very nasty things to get her back.
Chris is burdened with the job of returning her, and sheer hell awaits him if he
falters. To achieve his salvation, Chris must discover how the Goddess is linked
to a sinister episode in his deliberately obfuscated past.
Mindflesh is colorful and wonderfully twisted. Arban Ornelas's score effectively reinforces its vivid imagery and seamlessly blends the film's segue-ways. Patten's striking cinematic technique is captivating and compelling. His transitions between scenes, the way he melds flashbacks, dreams, and hallucinatory experiences artfully conveys their meaning in a manner that's concise and logically accessible to the audience.
Mindflesh is almost a 10 Pints Of Blood horror film. It just misses the bullseye.
Chris's Achilles heel is right out of a famous Greek tragedy. The effect is melodramatic. More surprisingly, in the otherwise sound screenplay, there are a couple of easily avoidable logical flaws which occur later in the story, We try to overlook these incongruities because they pale in comparison to the movie's sensationally striking visual and imaginative elements. For a horror movie, Mindflesh is in the top tier, sporting visual effects and horror styling reminiscent of Altered States, Videodrome, Hellraiser, Possession (1981), Species, and Splice.
ACID HOUSE (Scotland, 1998)
WRITTEN BY: Irving Welsh, based on his book of short stories by the same title
DIRECTED BY: Paul McGuigan
FEATURING: Stephen McCole, Maurice RoŽves, Garry Sweeney, Jenny McCrindle, Iain Andrew, Irvine Welsh, Kevin McKidd, Gary McCormick, Michelle Gomez, Ewen Bremner, Jemma Redgrave
GENRE: FANTASY/DRAMA/HORROR/BLACK COMEDY
TAGS: occult, 100% weird!
RATING: 5 PINTS OF BLOOD
PLOT: A grotesque, genre-bending trio of tawdry, disturbing stories about squalor, decay, excess, perversion, stupidity, and altered states.
COMMENTS: The Acid House is funny, grim, unsettling, revolting, and ... well it's a lot of fun if you like this sort of thing! This sort of thing being surreal, underground British Isles films. The Acid House immediately reminded me of Pat McCabe and Neil Jordan's bizarre Irish effort, The Butcher Boy (1987), and the somewhat less eerie, but equally strange, Disco Pigs (2001).
Like The Butcher Boy, The Acid House explores the seamy side of, in this case, Scottish rather than Irish working class culture. It follows demented characters who pursue debased agendas under circumstances which are at once supernatural and decidedly sleazy Irvine Welsh (Trainspotting) dramatizes three plots from his raunchy book of short stories, The Acid House. Given Welsh's imagination and penchant for depraved characters, decadent circumstances, and just plain rotten motives and outcomes, the result is a creepy movie with totally grotesque content.
In the first story, "The Granton Star Cause," Boab (McCole) is a loser who puts as little effort into making love to his girlfriend as he does into his rugby performance. Expelled from the team, dumped by said girlfriend, and kicked out of the house by his parents, Boab seeks solace in the bottom of a pint glass at the local pub. There he meets God, in human form, who informs Boab that he created Man in his own image. God then informs Boab that he (God) is lazy and pathetic, and that since Boab shares these traits, he hates Boab for reminding him of his own worst characteristics.
To express his hatred for Boab, as well as his own self-loathing, God dooms Boab by turning him into a common housefly. Now an airborne insect, Boab puts a literal twist to the expression, "a fly on the wall." Spying on his family and friends' sleazy private lives, Boab discovers the depth of their secret perversions, before exacting revenge upon several tormentors.
The second story in The Acid House is non-supernatural, but just as disturbing. In "The Soft Touch," the village doofus, Johnny (McKidd), marries the town whore, Catriona (Gomez), with predictable results. Yet Johnny accepts responsibility and attempts to be good father and husband, while his new bride continues doing what she does best. A bad situation worsens when Catriona involves herself with the couple's insane upstairs neighbor Larry (McCormick), who begins systematically to dismantle Johnny's life. Too soft to take decisive action, Johnny becomes a helpless victim until the nutty neighbor turns the tables on Catriona.
In the third segment, the film's namesake, "The Acid House," coco, a mindless hooligan on an LSD trip (Bremner) and Jenny (Redgrave), a middleclass pregnant woman giving birth ), are simultaneously struck by lightening. Coco, who is on an LSD trip at the time, switches bodies with the newborn infant. Visiting Coco's adult body in the hospital later, Coco's friends chalk up his new level of infantilism to Coco finally frying his brain with too many drugs. Meanwhile, Coco, as a grotesque infant, delights in breastfeeding and not so subtly manipulating his new "mother" into indulging his atavistic desires.
The Acid House is outrageous, over the top, and offensive. The Acid House will never be accused of being too clever or subtle. In fact, from a literary standpoint, Welsh's treatment of his subject matter is akin to administering a CPR heart massage with a sledge hammer ... and vomiting in the patient's mouth while administering artificial respiration. Despite the supernatural premise of two of the three stories, the horror in The Acid House is not the traditional ghosts and goblins type. Rather, it stems from a deep dread of entrapment, from awful bodily metamorphosis, and from an exploration of the abysmal depths of the debased human condition.
Overall, I'm going to give The Acid House just an average rating of five pints of blood, but don't be misled. The Acid House is a must-view for all fans of campy, disgusting occult.
You can also watch "The Acid House" on Amazon Instant Video!
Creature Feature © D. Dyszel 2017
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