Blood Diner (1987)

“Blood Diner” is a masterpiece. It was something I found on VHS when I was a kid and watched to death, made my friends watch, and so on. Then I sort of forgot about it for 20 years, until it was released on blu-ray a few years ago. And now I get to enjoy it all over again and tell you, dear reader, about it!

It’s one of those movies where a brief recap of the plot will be enough to put some people off immediately, so I’ll get to that and allow some of you to go about your day. The two nephews of psychopathic spree killer Anwar Namtut, shot by police after slaughtering a troop of cheerleaders in a sexual rage, grow up to follow in the same ancient religious tradition as he. As adults, they resurrect Uncle Anwar, who spends the rest of the movie as a brain in a jar, just one who can talk and has a couple of working eyes. He wants them to perform an ancient ritual to bring back the goddess Sheetar; this mainly involves murdering “immoral” women and using bits of them to stitch together a body for her, using other parts to make a “blood buffet” for a big banquet. They dispose of the rest of the corpses by serving them to people at their vegetarian diner.

And it’s a comedy! There are precious few movies where the leads, who we’re 100% supposed to be on the side of, are cannibals who gleefully murder anyone at the drop of a hat, but Michael and George Tutman (Rick Burks and Carl Crew) are two such leads. It’s clever, too, starting from a well-done twist at the beginning, as a radio tells us that the killer of some cheerleaders is on the loose, and two children cower behind their sofa as a cleaver-wielding lunatic hacks through their front door…only to discover it’s their charming Uncle Anwar, who gives the kids a pep-talk about reading the books he’s given them before walking outside to be mown down by the cops.

Because the main plot is so much fun, the sub-plots are either simply weird-feeling or irrelevant. There’s the rival vegetarian restaurant owner who decides to find out what’s going on – he has a sidekick who’s actually just a grotesque mannequin with a crudely animated mouth, but is treated as a normal human being by the rest of the cast. Then there’s the way George is obsessed with pro wrestling, watching a TV channel while cooking which shows nothing but it, to the point where he signs on to challenge wrestler Jimmy Hitler (who, yes, dresses like Adolf, just with a shock of blond hair). George wins, of course, by partially eating his opponent.

The two cops that make a half-hearted effort to track down the people who’ve murdered and hacked up dozens and dozens of people are perhaps the least interesting of the subplots; being hampered slightly by the fact that the female half of the duo, LaNette La France as tough cop Sheba Jackson, can’t act worth a damn (this appears to be her only movie appearance) and the male half, Roger Dauer as Mark Shepard, is such an unpleasant sleazebag that you want him to fail.

“Blood Diner” was intended as a sequel to the original gore classic, 1963’s “Blood Feast”, but because of lord knows why, it was changed just before production started to be a remake, of sorts. The blood sacrifice, the ancient deity, all that is the same, but it’s safe to say that this movie goes a little further than the original. Heck, it goes a little further than pretty much every horror movie ever made.

I think, if you decide to watch “Blood Diner”, and I wholeheartedly recommend you do, then you’ll be able to tell in the first ten minutes or so if it’s the sort of movie for you. Do you find Uncle Anwar’s gravestone (which reads “I’ll be back”) funny? Do you love movies which really go out of their way to gross you out? Are you not too bothered by the occasional technical shortcomings, such as terrible dubbing in certain scenes? Do you find someone getting their head battered, deep-fried and then knocked off with a broom funny?

It also manages to get grosser and weirder as it goes on, which is quite the feat. The final scene, which features the “Lemurian Feast”, and a band which looks like the guy from Dead Or Alive fronting five Adolf Hitlers, is so far over the top that you almost can’t help but laugh. Or how indifferent their restaurant rival is to his ultimate, blood-drenched, fate.

“Blood Diner” was directed by Jackie Kong, one of the tiniest of tiny handfuls of directing credits in the US for an Asian woman – she also does a commentary on this blu-ray which is pretty interesting. She made a few really odd-looking B-movies in the 80s (The Being, Night Patrol and The Underachievers) which we’ll probably cover soon. The writer Michael Sonye worked for enemy-of-ISCFC Fred Olen Ray in the 80s as well, and he seems to have a bent for comedy (“Star Slammer” looks like it has a few laughs in it).

A lot of the favourite films of my youth look poor with my old man’s eyes – either the jokes are weak, there’s strong racist or sexist threads I didn’t notice back then, or they’re just boring. But “Blood Diner” has definitely aged very well, as horror becomes more about the jump scare and less about throwing so much blood at the screen you start to feel ill. It’s hard to be offended by a movie which appears not to take itself seriously for a single second.

Rating: thumbs up

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Violent Shit (1989)

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This review is inspired by my friend Rhys, who took great delight in telling me of this movie’s existence, while seeming to have no interest in actually watching it. Well, readers, you know if there’s a weird corner of the cinematic world, we’ll have a shuftie at it, and this seemed like a particularly weird corner.

 

Andreas Schnaas was 21 when he made this; a lover of genre cinema from a young age, his New Zealand pen-pal told him “all you’re making is violent shit” (in relation to an early movie experiment, one presumes) and the name stuck. In what’s a hefty coincidence, one of his later movies was released under the alternate title “Zombi 7”, so we’d have probably encountered him in a few weeks anyway. “Violent Shit” was filmed over four “very long” weekends by Schnaas and his friends, and is sort of fascinating. I think the plot recap could go on for thousands of words, so we’d best get going!

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A young kid is playing in the woods, and his Mum is upset at how late he’s out, so he kills her with a meat cleaver. 20 years later, he’s in a police van being taken back to a lunatic asylum from…somewhere, and when the driver stops for a pee, he just escapes through the unlocked door. Come on, you coppers! Security is important! Anyway, our hero, listed in the credits as “K The Butcher Shitter”, goes into the woods, and walks a bit then kills someone, walks a bit then kills someone, repeat for a shade under 70 minutes. The other three minutes is the plot, and involves a flashback where a demon who claims to be his father tells him to kill his mother; a scene where he hacks open then climbs inside Jesus, stuck on a cross in the middle of the woods; and then the end, where he collapses, claws his own skin off (which has been somewhat inexplicably decaying over the course of proceedings), then rips open his own stomach and produces a gore drenched baby. The end!

 

Want me to recap it again, only a bit slower? Yes, it’s safe to say Schnaas’s interests were not narrative, and it’s pretty impressive what he manages to achieve with a micro-micro-budget – gore, gore, gore, and a bit more gore. His extremely fake-looking meat cleaver (which looks like a piece of sheet metal stuck to a wooden handle) is buried in heads, arms, chests and groins – memorably, he hacks off a penis and eats it, then a little later chops open a woman starting at the vagina. We see everything! I mean, you’re unlikely to mistake the head he chainsaws into pieces for a real head, but just the attempt at doing this extremely messy gore is to be commended. Should extreme gore be your cup of tea, I suppose.

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A lot of your enjoyment of this will depend on your willingness to watch a non-actor with a bit of plastic inexpertly glued to his face shuffle round the woods, as that’s a good half of the running time. His victims are introduced quickly – it’s a woman walking through the woods because the guy giving her a lift was a creep! It’s a couple of workmen who complain constantly about everything! It’s…some guy! – and then dispatched relatively slowly, with most of the time being taken up with him trying to saw through a neck or a wrist with his cleaver. Oh, and blood. Everything is drenched in the stuff, to the point I imagine Schnaas and his friends must have been sick of the sight and smell of whatever blood substitute they used.

 

Don’t bother questioning it – why is it so easy for him to escape, and why is no-one bothered about finding him? – because that’s not what the movie is about. It’s a gorehound, making the sort of movie he wanted to see, and although you might be happy that not too many movies are made where a woman gets hacked apart starting in “that” area, it’s nice to know that someone exists for whom the boundaries of good taste are but a distant memory. And it’s also good to know he’s just like every other low-budget filmmaker, chasing that dollar – as of this review, there are five “Violent Shit” instalments, which I’m betting have backstory and real characters in them. Boring! There’s something to be said for the purity of a movie like this. And honestly, I’m not sure I care about watching the rest of them to be proved wrong or right.

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A fun thing to look out for during proceedings is hashtags. The subtitles use a # when there’s two people’s dialogue on screen at once, so you can relieve the boredom during one of the very few scenes with talking by pretending they’re talking on Twitter, and often saying #What? Okay, it’s not the funnest thing you’ll do that day, but we low budget movie fans must occasionally make our own entertainment.

 

It’s as much fun as a very well-done home movie can be, I suppose. There’s a couple of scenes where the cameraman is chasing K The Butcher Shitter through the woods, and the swinging of the cheap camcorder could induce vertigo…although, it’s not something you see in movies every day, if you want new experiences. The sound was recorded afterwards in a tin bathtub, too, but it’d be even weirder if the sound was recorded well. It all fits. Every now and again, to either break up the monotony or because the effect they filmed was too rubbish even for them, they’ll pixelate the image pretty heavily too, or slow it down. It’s an ugly film to look at, which I guess means mission accomplished.

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It’s sort of weird judging it in 2016, when everyone and their dog has released an ultra-low-budget movie about a psychopath chasing women through the forest. This is apparently the first straight-to-video release in German history, and was a huge success, giving Schnaas a career he’s still involved in today. If he’d made it last year? Who knows. But as a pioneer as well as a man who did some spectacularly gross things with no money, he should be commended, and provided you’ve got a strong stomach and no inner ear problems, this is worth 72 minutes of your time (okay, maybe like 60, watch it at 1.25x speed because it doesn’t exactly go at a ripping pace).

 

Rating: thumbs in the middle

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Killing Spree (1987)

Not in the movie

Not in the movie

I’d like to think that you and I learn things together, dear reader. Just a month ago I had no idea of the existence of the “I Will Dance On Your Grave” non-series, featuring two movies from the great Donald Farmer, “Death Blow: A Cry For Justice” (an apparently terrible movie about women fighting back against a rape epidemic), and “Killing Spree”. Now we all know about it, and we can try and figure out what the link between the four movies was. Half of them are very definitely about rape, but the other half aren’t – they’ve all got a lot of sex in them, but that’s par for the course in exploitation movies. Three of them could be loosely called “revenge” movies, but “Cannibal Hookers” doesn’t fall under that banner at all…it’s a conundrum, for sure.

 

But let’s talk about “Killing Spree”. It’s another shot-on-video, as the ISCFC likes to be 25 years late to every party, but the gulf in technical quality between this and, say, “Cannibal Hookers”, is gigantic. Every scene is lit properly (although it probably helps filming it almost entirely in daylight), all the actors are in focus, the effects – while cheap – are cleverly done and practical, and you can hear everything that goes on. And it features one of the most amazing central performances you’ll ever see!

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Asbestos Felt plays Tom Russo. Let’s get it out of the way now, because every other review of this movie ever has done it – it’s the greatest name of all time. I’ve got no idea why he picked it, but I’m very glad he did. Anyway, Tom is a pretty terrible husband to Leeza, demanding that she stay at home (due solely to his jealousy); even though she doesn’t seem to mind too much, and defends her husband when it’s brought up. She’s loving and understanding, so it’s not just their appearances that make such an odd match – she looks like a perfectly normal suburban woman, and he looks like a skinny crazed hobo.

 

Slightly similarly to “Driller Killer”, this is a movie about a man who loses his mind and then starts killing people – of course, “Driller Killer” has the slight edge on this in terms of budget, acting, plot, and effects, but you get the point. Tom is disturbed at the beginning of the movie, because his first wife cheated on him, so when he discovers a “diary” where his wife appears to be describing erotic encounters with the men she comes into contact with (starting off with his best friend, then the TV repair guy, mailman, lawnmower guy, and so on), he falls off the deep end. Oh, and there’s a super-annoying neighbour too, but she’s just there to get her jaw ripped off by a claw hammer.

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Director Tim Ritter really tries to make this film visually interesting. Unlike so many other shot on video movies, he tries little tricks, weird angles, cuts, and so on – not all of it works, but he’s trying, with the upshot of it all being that this movie feels shorter than some of the 60 minute-long garbage I’ve seen. Now, even though he tries with that, there are some visuals that are too odd, in a way. Tom’s best friend / best man at his wedding is Ben (Raymond Carbone), but he’s a good 20 years older than Tom; plus, he brags about his 18 year old punk girlfriend, whose weirdly horrible insults to Tom, a man she’s just met, are the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

 

There’s also the house where most of the action takes place to comment on. Apart from one picture in the lounge, the walls are entirely blank, and the entire house looks like one of those show homes that new housing developments have. In fact, the neighbourhood looks like that (when we see outside) so it’s entirely possible that Ritter was offered a house by a friend who was in construction, or something, provided he didn’t get blood anywhere, but had zero money to dress his set. This blankness actually makes things eerier, so kudos to them if it was a real choice.

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The budget can only go so far, though, and the biggest issue by far is the acting. Asbestos Felt is amazing, almost the personification of rage, and while he’s not got a lot of levels (he does tired, wired, and insane) he’s a truly great central character. Everyone else, on the other hand…Courtney Lercara as Leeza tries her best, but all the movie’s other cast pitches things at an insane level, like they were told they were filming a knockabout comedy or something. The TV repair guy who brags about his karate skills is the best, but they’re all OTT in the way only completely amateur actors can be. I think Ritter was going for some sort of split in their acting between what actually happens and Tom’s fantasies, but they aren’t good enough for that! It seems a decent portion of the cast has this and Ritter’s previous movie “Truth or Dare” as their only credits, and that’s to be expected.

 

The twist, such as it is, is so obvious you start to hope that when they reveal it, they’ll do something really weird, like Tom apologising for all the murder and them just going on with their happy married life. They don’t do that, obviously, although what they do end up doing is even better, as Tom’s past comes back to not quite haunt him, but definitely get involved in his life again. Some of the little touches (which I can’t reveal for fear of spoilers) show a filmmaker with who wants to do more than just hurl gore at the screen, and has a decent sense of humour (as well as the little visuals, my favourite line is “you screwed my wife, so I’ll screwdriver your head!” while, unsurprisingly, dropping a screwdriver which goes straight through the top of a chap’s skull).

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Okay, it’s really cheap, the acting is ropey as hell, the plot isn’t original and the twist is horribly obvious. But it’s a gore-drenched good time, with a sense of humour and a surprisingly clever use of the cheapest shooting medium there is. Plus, it’s got maybe the best thing I’ve ever heard in a movie. If you ever thought “you know, I wish there was a bit in the end credits of movies where the psychotic killer did a light-hearted rap about the people he’d killed”, then this is the movie for you. It’s absolutely amazing, and is worth keeping it on til the bitter end for.

 

I think we’ll be covering more of Ritter’s movies, perhaps after our Donald Farmer season is over.

 

Rating: thumbs up

Trailer Trash: Truth or Dare

Until someone filled me in about the controversy surrounding the latest series, I must say I’d forgotten about ‘Big Brother’. I suppose that’s been helped by not owning a TV, and generally leading a busy enough life which means Reality TV no longer seeps into my conscious anymore. In those dark procrastinating days when I had oodles of free time I would religiously watch ‘Big Brother’, particularly when it was on Channel 4. In the early 2000s I also watched the only two TV series’ of the UK version of ‘Survivor’ and then in later years I’d fill up spare hours digesting imported MTV fabricated gunk like ‘The Hills’. I think I was hooked on Reality TV. It was visual candy.

In the early days of Reality TV there was a certain naivety about the contestants. They were in it for the cash prizes, competing no differently to those who’d go on ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’ or ‘Wheel of Fortune’, but as the popularity of these shows grew, savvier contestants realized that there was a chance to get their fifteen lucrative minutes of fame and make far more money than even the winners of the show. Potentially they could launch a career of sorts by being outrageous, idiotic and desperate. The most tragic example of this was Jade Goody.

Post YouTube vainglorious sorts no longer need to leave their houses and spend a few months contained in a house. Now they can Vlog from their bedrooms, film themselves on their iPhones and reach millions of people with their content. Times are changing and literally anybody can be a star. Clicks and views have become the new currency.
‘Truth of Dare’ contains a mix of Reality TV and the relatively new phenomenon of WebCelebs as “Six college kids find internet stardom when they make “Truth or Dare” videos with a violent twist. It is all fun and games until their number one fan decides he wants to play by his own rules.”

The trailer for ‘Truth or Dare’ is flooded by glowing quotes from critics and an endless list of awards won, which I suppose gives this film a seal of approval. It’s a short, visceral and bloody trailer. We see a greasy haired irate man take a handful of people hostage. There are screams aplenty in what appears to be a gore-filled torture fest of cuttin’, stabbin’ and shootin’. There’s just enough given away in the trailer to make me curious as to whether ‘Truth or Dare’ has any depth to it, or if it’s an orgy of violence fit only for creeps and torture porn junkies.

– RJW

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I wonder why the dog is called ‘Grandpa’: Thoughts on Evil Dead

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By the end of the movie the sole survivor of a horror film has bloodshot watery eyes, juddery hands, and usually is slumped in a sorry state of frailty. Throughout ninety minutes of nightmarish pursuit they end up going through an accelerated mental disintegration that ordinarily someone wouldn’t face in a whole lifetime of toil.

The afternoon before I watched ‘Evil Dead’ I had two terrifying encounters with men who had entered their twilight period, men who had lived a lifetime of toil. I was told to wander down to the food hall of the department store that I work in and escort from the premises a gentleman who was banned from entering the store because previously he had shoplifted a punnet of strawberries. This guy must’ve been nearly eighty, wiry with bottle thick glasses and a walking stick. I tried the soft approach and politely informed him that he would need to leave because of what happened last time. He told me he only wanted to buy a lettuce. I told him there were other shops nearby that sold fresh vegetables such as Sainsbury’s and Tesco. “Fuck Tesco” he replied. I put out my hands in exasperation, and gestured for him to calm down. Mainly because I was afraid that he might keel over as his cheeks had reddened instantly. The man became increasingly irate and yelled “Don’t touch me; if you touch me then I’m going straight to the police”. I didn’t want to touch him because he smelt of urinated beetroot juice.

Twenty minutes after this perplexing incident fizzled out I was wandering about, lost in daydream. I ran into one of the ‘regulars’, an old guy who I bump into every Wednesday. We usually have one of those, are you well? Ok good, now let’s talk about the weather conversations. I asked this man, with his messy silver hair and crooked yellow teeth, how he was. The man told me that things had been difficult for him recently; his wife had suffered a brain haemorrhage and was in a bad way. The most important person in his life was about to be taken away. He welled up, and sobbed. There is something horribly uncomfortable about an old man crying. Particularly when he was doing so in a busy department store next to the main escalator, dozens of people stared at the curiosity. A Security Guard stood next to a blubbering mess. The awkwardness conquered my noble display of empathy.

Work was finally finished, the fifth day over. I meandered down to the cinema, emotionally exhausted. Had I been going to see a drama then I would have dozed. Thankfully I was there to see the rebooted / remade / revisited / rebirthed version of ‘The Evil Dead’, minus the ‘The’. There was likely to be bloodcurdling screams and scares aplenty.

Jumping to the end of this little anecdote, as I left the cinema with belly full of Haribo Starmix and waited for the bus home I wondered why the dog in ‘Evil Dead’ was called ‘Grandpa’. None of the characters exclaimed “Grandpa, that’s a weird name for a dog. Why’s he called that?”. I wondered if I had misheard the dog’s name, but yes, a Google search reassured me that I was correct. The dog is called ‘Grandpa’. Was this because the dog was old? That wouldn’t make sense, because the dog would have had to have not been named until much later into its life, or maybe he was renamed, his original name might have been Pops. Perhaps ‘Grandpa’ was not the dog’s real name, but a nickname. This was not unusual. I refer to my dog as ‘Pipkin’, even though it isn’t his name. I was left flummoxed by this little irrelevant detail of the film.

2013’s ‘Evil Dead’ is a different beast to the 1981 cult classic. Everything is amped up a notch to reflect the sadistic gore trend we’ve come to expect after several noughties remakes of horror classics from the past such as Rob Zombie’s ‘Halloween’, various output from Michael Bay’s production company Platinum Dunes and Alexandre Aja’s crossover into Hollywood and the overiding influence of the New French Extremity movement. In fact, probably since the phenomenal success of the Saw franchise there has been consistent mainstream appetite for the macabre, which reflects some kind of insatiable cinematic desire for no holds barred animalistic violence.

It’s weird, I know we like to be scared, to jump out of seats and spill the popcorn, and how seeing a horror movie can be a fun experience, but there reaches a point where you begin to question the enjoyment levels of what you are watching, particularly when all you get is a series of gore set pieces. A woman cuts off her own arm, gets shot, beaten, and bashed up. Another woman gets her skull caved in, in that cold brutal fashion reminiscent of Gaspar Noé’s ‘Irréversible’. A bloke gets stabbed repeatedly, hit with a crowbar and shot with a nail gun. It’s best not to think too hard about this. It’s just gore. Fun gunge. This isn’t real life.

The share nastiness of ‘Evil Dead’ actually helps the film, and differentiates itself completely from Sam Raimi’s original cult classic. In 2013 four lifelong friends help Mia, their junkie pal, kick the habit by taking her to a cold turkey cabin in the middle of the wilderness. When the friends discover a trapdoor in the cabin, the menfolk in the group go down into a dank den of depravity where they find a book locked by barbed wire alongside several dead cats that hang from the ceiling. The curious bespectacled man of the group uses some tin snips to open up the book. Evil is unleashed and a demonic spirit possesses Mia.

Jane Levy’s performance as Mia grants her iconic scream queen status, and a likely sequel will put her up there with the Neve Campbell’s of this world. She endures pretty much everything that could possibly be thrown at her.

Before I head off, I’d like to waffle on a bit more about ‘Grandpa’ the dog. I think my fascination with a dog’s name explains why I didn’t really care much for ‘Evil Dead’. If after watching the film I’m spending time contemplating the name of a dog, then I think that really the film’s gore washed over me, coating me in crimson contemplation. I was desensitised by the visceral bombardment of unrelenting violence to the point that I can’t quite conjure enough words to sum up the relative merits of ‘Evil Dead’. The dog is named ‘Grandpa’ for people like me who attempt to criticize a film that is strictly for the gore gobblers.

– RJW

Evil Dead on IMDB
Buy Evil Dead [DVD] [2013]

Manhunt (2008)

Directed by: Patrik Syversen

I’m trying to work out the message behind ‘Manhunt’. I think it is a comment on what happens when you decide to go to College or University, and leave your hometown behind. You go through an initial period of fear, and anguish, battling through a nightmarish emotional wilderness, then you come out the other side, battered, bruised and bleeding – nonetheless you somehow survive.

Its seventies Scandinavia and everybody dresses terribly. We’re on board a camper van with a young couple and a pair of siblings; at first it is difficult to do which duo are which; living in Norfolk I often encounter such groups. This is all the more confusing when these young folk are supposedly considered the classy city types, and they are heading into Hicksville. The foursome has planned a hiking trip out in the woods.

There is already dissension in the ranks. The driver Roger is in an irritable mood, and seems pissed that his lovely blonde girlfriend Camilla is heading off to college. He intensely dislikes the bloke in the back seat, a comic book nerd called Jorgen with curious sideburns. Then there is the comic book nerd’s sister Mia who looks like a goner already, with her annoying face which displays the permanent expression of a woman who has just been slapped in the face with an eel.

Stopping for supplies at a roadside café / truck stop they meet some of the locals; a transplanted group of Deep South redneck types, including a stern faced matriarch who runs the place. Inevitably these backwards blokes are warning markers for what the group are likely to encounter, they also run into a disturbed looking young woman called Renate with striking raven black hair. Roger is irritated by the lack of sophistication in the café and strikes up a conversation with Renate and offers her a lift down the road.

The story picks up, the five young folk drive on, their newest passenger gets car sick, forcing the camper van to stop. She gets out and hurls, gushing a ferocious glob of yellow. The foursome argues, and stupidly the car keys get thrown into the woodland. A grey land rover pulls up alongside the van, three rednecks get out and the hunt begins.

For the next hour we are subjected to the young folk getting shot, slashed and smashed up in the woodland, battling to survive. Given that the film is set specifically in 1974, the film is homage to the greatest independent horror movie of them all ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ – Group of friends pick up a hitchhiker / vulnerable person, who quickly afterwards meets their demise, the group then find themselves running for their lives in unfamiliar territory.

***Spoiler Alert***

Just as Sally Hardesty escapes in the back of a pick-up truck screaming like a mentalist with blood all over her face, our heroine, Camilla who’s off the college, somehow dispatches a bunch of heavily armed experienced hunters and gets picked up by a good Samaritan, wait a minute… it’s the stern face matriarch who served the group in the truck stop. Maybe, she won’t make it out alive after all.

‘Manhunt’ could have been so much better had a back story been built about the killers, maybe somebody in the café tells the group about the history of the woods, how important hunting is in the area. Let’s have some motive, even Wes Craven did that back in his early years.

Mercifully short, we don’t have to endure much uncomfortable dialogue when the chase is on. The murky, dank natural light creates a disturbing bleak tension which works well, it’s just that some of the ‘set pieces’ don’t work. For instance it is hard to believe that the cute blonde Camilla can shoot a man fifty yards away with a homemade bow and arrow, and towards the tail end of the movie develop a killer instinct not seen since ‘First Blood’. Another note, the DVD menu screen gives away how one of the group is killed, which means that the quite clever set-up to this brutal killing loses all of its suspense.

Kidnapping and torture are regular themes in modern horror, though worryingly such despicable acts are losing their shock value. ‘Manhunt’ is fantastically shot, making the most of Norway’s serene woodlands, but it lacks the punch of the traditional no thrills intensely visceral horror movie that it aspires to emulate.

– RJW

5/10

Manhunt on IMDB
Buy Manhunt [DVD] [2007]