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Film4 Fright Fest Reviews: Frank Henenlotter's BAD BIOLOGY And The Extreme French Horror Flick MARTYRS!

Beaks here... It's really been sixteen years since Frank Henenlotter's diseased mind assailed us with BASKET CASE 3: THE PROGENY? How did he not rate an invite for the MASTERS OF HORROR series? Sure, the BASKET CASE sequels weren't quite up to the level of the first film, but BRAIN DAMAGE alone makes Henenlotter worthy of induction into the club. Maybe they knew he'd have Miike-like problems with the Showtime censors. In any event, it's great to Henenlotter back, and it's a relief to hear that his BAD BIOLOGY went over at the Film4 Fright Fest in London last weekend. Our reviewer "Spence" also weighs in on the French horror flick MARTYRS, which is apparently eliciting some very strong (i.e. vomiting) reactions from audiences.
Hey chaps I always send you a few fright Fest reviews and you always kindly print them and I always get slagged of in the talkbacks...... so let us begin It is Sunday morning and I am writing to share with you reviews of two sides of the same horror coin that I have seen at this years Fright Fest. First off let me tell you I met Frank Henenlotter on Friday night and I geeked the fuck out, Basket Case and Brain Damage are up there with the finest exploitation movies ever made and the chance to say hello to the legend thhat made em was a thrill (to boot he was a really nice guy and couldn't believe how many people wanted a piece of him at the festival) why am I telling you this? Well because Frank and his young cast were there to screen his first film in 16 years.... Bad Biology When I heard that R.A The Rugged Man and Jedi Mind Tricks were throwing up the money to finance this movie I was puzzled, then when I heard Price Paul was scoring it and R.A had written it (with Frank) I just kept thinking how the hell is that gonna play out, what do these underground rap crews have in common with Henenlotter ? Well it turns out R.A isn't some play acting deviant he loves him some old school 42nd Street and Basket Case as much as the rest of us and he just happens to have the scrilla lying round to fund a movie! "I was born with seven clits....' is the opening line spoken by one of the films main leads Charlee Danielson, it seems that the seven clits can make her have incredible orgasms but also leads her to kill anyone that is wiggling their wanger in her when she comes. Oh yeah did i mention she gives birth two hours after fucking? No? Sorry, she does. It seems there are a lot a lot of babies crying in trash cans in NYC. She eventually meets Batz played by Anthony Sneed a man whose cock has a life if its own and is completely addicted to roids. He constantly needs to feed his 30 inch dick drugs to keep it under sedation, and it's so big that he has had to fashion a steam powered love pump to get himself off! So usual Henenlotter territory there really. It's a great return for Henenlotter and while not as sleazy as Basket Case or as funny as Frankenhooker it makes you realise that people just dont make this kind of shit anymore. It's twisted,fairly gory and full of naked porn stars and I for one can't get enough stop motion cock (that wrong!) as CGI dick just aint the same. It's pure trash but as usual with Henenlotter there is a lot of sexual/political and drug allegory going on so it's enjoyable on all levels! Its shot on 35mm too which is nice. Gabe Bartalos supplies the effects and there is a great cameo from Hennenlotter regular Beverly Bonner. A solid midnight movie. Now onto the most controversial movie of this years festival Martyrs a French movie that when shown in Cannes had critics in uproar and a couple of them upchucking. People are calling it a landmark horror movie, in fact a landmark movie full stop. It is horrific but I wouldn't call it horror, It is a strange mix of 70's exploitation such as Last house On The Left, Clive Barkers Hellraiser and Hostel (the second half owes a lot to Hostel in feel and look) but at the same time it is it's own beast. Martyrs The basic story (and it will have to be basic as anything more in depth would be major spoiler heavy) finds a girl Lucie struggling to come to terms with the fact that 15 years earlier aged 10 or so she was imprisoned in a disused slaughterhouse and kept there for an undisclosed length of time, she had not been sexually abused but the physical and mental torture she endured was enough to put her into a mental institution where she made one solitary friend Anna (a victim of sexual abuse) the girls grow up together and Anna has a lesbian crush on Lucie although it is never made clear if that is reciprocated.The first half plays out as some kind of revenge flick as she sets about tracking down her captors and exacting terrible revenge on them and their family. once she finds them and attacks them in their house the film shifts gears somewhat as they discover an series of underground vaults and walls lined with photos of people in the throes of death. What happens next would really spoil the movie but lets just say it features extended scenes of such brutality that it makes Hostel (which it closely resembles) seem like a walk in the park. What struck me with the film is that it is brutal and shocking but so beautifully scored and shot that it really does make you uncomfortable while watching, the sound design is sparse to say the least and the choice of music on some of the more shocking scenes offers a real juxtaposition to the ugly violence you are seeing making it quite a surreal experience. I don't know if I would ever want to see the film again as there is no way this is entertainment as we normally experience it. The way it is presented is so matter of fact and blunt that 50 minutes in I found myself totally numb to the violence onscreen and very uncomfortable watching, at some points I was even wondering why I had paid my hard eared to see it. The guy sat next to me left and apparently there were two or three people that were sick during the film. As I said his isn't horror but it is horrific, it offers up just how fucking ugly this world has become. Too cerebral for your average gorehound and frankly too rough for your arthouse lovers, I dont know what crowd this film will play too and even if it will find itself an audience. I have a feeling that my opinion will change on this film over the next few days as it is deeply affecting and even though I know people say this shit all the time but "it really is one of the most disturbing films I have ever had the (dis)pleasure to sit through'. There is some respite from all of the violence near the end of the movie during one particularly ugly scene when Lucie has a strangely tender and touching scene with one of her captors that offers a chance for you to catch your breath and ruminate on everything that has gone before. It is a heavy going movie and certainly a brave one to make. I know this review is vague and even helping to fuel flames on the hype machine but to tell you more would be a real disservice to those that want to see it. Director Pascal Laugier was present and informed us he was suffering from depression while writing and directing the film and that is the reason it is so bleak, he also said that his dear friend and effects man 'left this earth two weeks ago' although he did not elaborate how. This movie is going to get a lot of hype, it will be interesting to see peoples reaction to the film as the hype grows. The moral right will have a field day with this and I can see this movie running into a lot of trouble in the US. cheers guys Spence

I can't say that I'm looking forward to seeing MARTYRS, but after reading reviews like that, I kinda feel like I have to.

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