TOKYO VAMPIRE HOTEL starts out by demanding that you turn the volume up to the max level, whether you’re in front of the TV, or just watching with a pair of headphones on a tiny laptop screen. I’ll admit, I didn’t do it, because I value my aural health, but anyway… this IS a loud flick! It’s colorful, it’s crazy, and I’d best describe it as Japan doing Tarantino doing Japan. Think Kill Bill, but with more teeth.
The most impressive part of Shinichirou Ueda’s ONE CUT OF THE DEAD is its first 37 minutes; it has all the zombie mayhem that we’ve come to expect from a low budget undead-fest, and it's all presented in one single take. This technique is usually reserved for artier fare than the common low budget zombie flick, but leave it up to the Japanese to make it happen.
I have a couple of confessions. Before watching director Michael Peterson’s KNUCKLEBALL, I didn’t know what a “knuckleball” was. I live in a country where the preferred way to hit a ball with a bat rhymes with “lick it”, so I found KNUCKLEBALL informative when it comes to baseball terminology. My other confession is that I really like Michael Ironside, and he’s the main thing about KNUCKLEBALL that piqued my interest and made me want to watch. Ever since he made heads explode in Scanners and lost a couple of limbs while chasing Arnold around Mars, I’ve seen him as an underrated Canadian export.
When you think of Japanese animation it’s all big eyes and inappropriate panty shots, which is why director/writer/editor Ujicha’s VIOLENCE VOYAGER is completely out of the ordinary in every... single... way. No, this isn’t a typical anime, it’s something very different: it’s a no holds barred, surreal horror flick that just happens to be animated like a children's storybook. By that I mean it’s as though the characters of an illustrated Roald Dahl book stepped off the page and started moving around their bizarre, twisted environments.
Jason VandenBerghe is a heavy metal human being. He's clad in black, sports thick long hair, a beard that vikings would be proud of, and a ring for every single finger. He's also very intense - melodramatic event - and speaks in deep, philosophical tones that wouldn't sound out of place in a medieval stage play.
A ticket to Verena Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor's documentary CANIBA should come with complimentary wi-fi access. Traveling to Wikipedia is a must before, or even during the film, which presupposes knowledge - which I didn't have - of its subject, Issei Sagawa. A horrible but fascinating man, Sagawa found infamy and minor celebrity for murdering and cannibalizing Renée Hartevelt, a Dutch woman whom he met in Paris in 1981.
Reach back into film history and you’ll find some of the most memorable quotes of all time: offers you can’t refuse, feelings about not being in Kansas anymore, and forces being with you - these are all utterances that we as a society won’t soon forget. In 1987, director Fred Dekker and co-writer Shane Black added another important phrase to our cultural lexicon in their now classic horror/comedy The Monster Squad. If you’ve seen the movie you probably know which line I’m talking about...
THE QUEEN OF HOLLYWOOD BLVD cuts an impressive figure - she's a woman who’s been around long enough to see it all, with flowing black hair, retro sunglasses, and a leopard-print wardrobe. She smokes like a diesel engine and has a grumbling voice to match, dragging herself around the filth-laden streets of L.A. with a gold-tipped cane that doubles as a deadly weapon. Mary (Rosemary Hochschild) is not to be fucked with. She runs a nude revue on Hollywood Boulevard - a club populated with characters so colorful they could have stepped right out of Toontown.