Saturday, August 31, 2013

THEATRE BIZARRE (2011) Blu Ray DVD review

THEATRE BIZARRE - An Anthological blast for Terminal Gorehounds ...

Having reviewed V/H/S/ 1 and V/H/S 2 for UNDER THE RADAR Magazine recently, I feel unexcited for just about any anthology film.  I can't bring myself to rent THE ABCs OF DEATH for instance, thoroughly bummed out at its concept, which to me feels like a youtube rabbit hole nightmare of mindless modern faux-gore aimed at a segment of fandom that I just don't relate to.  Long gone are the days of gems like CREEPSHOW 2 where even the second tier genre films packed in the fun for rabid fans, we had our own twisted version of Hollywood, our own star system of maniacs and madmen.  Over the last 20 years as productions have gotten aggressively less personal due to the major shifts in production company ownership legality.  Therefore, we unsurprisingly have fewer and fewer films made by passionate small groups and individuals, and this especially extends to the Horror genre. 

So THEATRE BIZARRE arrives as a real treat, for it's in a way like the classic '70s and '80s anthology films; based more in cheeky macabre fun than in a desire to display boringly real special effects, yet it's also quite modern in that it accurately hits so many notes  that contemporary dedicated fans of Horror will be thrilled about.

Richard Stanley is one of those mythic cinematic outlaws, offering up HARDWARE and DUSTDEVIL before undergoing studio hell and being removed from his own project, THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU (an incredible story that should be read about by all) and until several years ago was only making documentaries that often bordered on the avant garde.   With his entry MOTHER OF TOADS  we see Stanley flexing some of that experimental flair to rewarding results; this odd tale of the supernatural survives on its artful, haunted style alone.  The inclusion of Fulci fan favorite Catriona MacColl is no small benefit.

Buddy Giovinazzo is another filmmaker who's desire to make exactly what he wants seems to prevent him from being prolific.  The wildly underrated masterpiece COMBAT SHOCK, recently restored to its original version under its original title AMERICAN NIGHTMARE, as well as LIFE IS HOT IN CRACK TOWN and NO WAY HOME, all display startling assaults on an audience's comfort while maintaining character depth as poignant as any classic drama.  His entry I LOVE YOU to me belongs to a rare type of film.  Astoundingly personal, this type deals with loss on the part of the filmmaker brought to the audience with a metaphor of severe, disturbing violence (think SINGAPORE SLING, POSSESSION) and dreamlike, elegant cinematography.  It's my favorite entry in THEATRE BIZARRE, because it's truly an unexpected offering that screams the un-containable emotions of its director, and exists for this purpose alone. 

Tom Savini makes a strong return to gory genre glory with WET DREAMS, aided by the presence of true Scream Queen legend Debbie Rochon.  As far as Savini's directorial efforts go, this is probably his best; and he uses the anthology template excellently.  WET DREAMS takes a concept that's exploited best in short form and uses some striking imagery and twisted sick plot devices to forward the storyline.  Not to mention his most enjoyable, blazingly over-the-top gore effects in recent memory (probably longer).

Douglas Buck's THE ACCIDENT is another brazenly arty jaunt, and it works very well in the mix of THEATRE BIZARRE.  Karim Hussein's VISION STAINS is certainly a stand out piece for him, and with its wonderfully fucked-up premise - a woman discovers a a way to harness people's memories by killing them, sticking a syringe in their eyeball as their life flashes before their eyes, then injecting the fluid into her own eye! - there's plenty of eyeball-needling and blood-spurting to latch onto.  The last entry, SWEETS, is the baby of Severin films mastermind David Gregory.  Gregory is not as seasoned as some of the other directors here, yet he manages to hold his own quite well with a gloriously disgusting story of love dissipating from a relationship between two extreme food fetishists - double underline disgusting actually! 

THEATRE BIZARRE, while perhaps not being absolutely amazing (never an accurate gauge for whether or not a film is worth watching), manages to do something very successful; and that's satiate the present desire for content that exists within die hard Horror fans of the last 20 years.  This is a "demographic" (if you will, barf) that knows who filmmakers like Richard Stanley and Buddy G. are, and wants badly to see personal work from them.  For the first time at our current stage in developing Horror Culture we have an anthology film that's not out to exploit the fans but truly and simply satisfy them.  The people involved with making THEATRE BIZARRE really "get it" because they're not so unlike the viewers themselves, and THEATRE BIZARRE is a whole lot of fun because of it.

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