A dog’s bark pierces the silence of the night as a man emerges from a car into the shadows wearing a Michel Myers style jumpsuit. We are only a few seconds in and already there is an atmosphere of intrigue and dread. The man is John, a janitor who has arrived to work a shift at an orphanage where strange occurrences are afoot. In an office turned nursing room, a woman holds a baby closely as vintage music pipes its way out of an old radio, adding to the overall sense of foreboding.
Set in both stunning and imposing locations with tenacious female leads, Jack Clayton’s The Innocents (1961) and Herk Harvey’s Carnival of Souls (1962) offer an intimate and highly psychological examination of the female mind whilst ruminating heavily and hauntingly on the age-old themes of sex and death.
“A story so unusual it will burn itself into your mind.”
Continuing from our previous interview, Attack from Planet B talked with Michael Fausti regarding his first feature film EXIT, and the various influences that have helped shape him as a filmmaker.
“The early stages of writing took place at the same time as the European Referendum, so inevitably this was always going to have an influence. Our original premise for a story set in a single, insular location, seemed the perfect starting point for a Brexit inspired horror film.”
Have you ever looked at a mannequin and swear you seen it move or talk? Variable in size, shape and detail, these human-like but hallow creations have a definite mystique. Filmmakers have included them continually in horror, relying on their presence to create a deep and unnerving effect…
“Oh, Melvin… What are we going to do with you?”
The political landscape has evolved or, perhaps that should be mutated into a picture so grotesque that, ten years ago horror fans wouldn’t have been able to conjure up our present reality from even the darkest corners of their imagination. One of horror’s most powerful and moving attributes is that it is able to reflect what is occurring within society at any given moment. Along with a shift towards nationalism in the recent years, the notion of what scares us at the movies has gravitated away from slasher villains and horrifying monsters to a deep rooted fear of people…
“Leaving… It’s harder than you think.”
1982 saw the release of Louis La Vope’s horror short which was broadcast on American television. Entitled simply The Dummy, and running at less than eight minutes, it tells of the eponymous doll who comes to life and inflicts mental and physical torment on an unsuspecting victim.
“I’ve had that since I was eight years old… You can’t throw it out!”
It’s rare that I’m left speechless or lost for words after a horror film but perhaps the only way to describe Art of the Dead is to say that it defies any definition! Brimming with influences that range from Velvet Buzzsaw (2019) to American Horror Story and Dario Argento, this offering from director Rolfe Kanevsky (who has a prolific output) is a visceral feast for the eyes. It’s fair to say that this is a horror based in spectacle, shock and sensory overload rather than it being a deep and searching exploration of fear. If this film were a painting itself, it could be described as schlocky, daring and off the hook.
“Lust. Gluttony. Greed. Sloth. Wrath. Envy. Pride. What’s your sin?”
In White Zombie, death feels inescapably omnipresent with images of crosses, cemeteries and headstones filling every scene. In one of the most unnerving shots of early horror cinema, we see a pair of pervasive eyes peering across the landscape. What’s so discomforting about the eyes is their vacancy and the troubling inevitability that they are undoubtedly watching us. Recognising these eyes from the film’s iconic poster we are instantly pulled in by the power and symbolism they represent.
“WITH THESE ZOMBIE EYES he rendered her powerless. WITH THIS ZOMBIE GRIP he made her perform his every desire!”
Christmas time approaches, snow is falling and the once opulent and lively Butler House has now stood abandoned for many years following the mysterious death of its proprietor. Jeffrey Butler, grandson to the property’s namesake is in town to sell his inheritance but just why he has appeared after so long and what dark secrets lie within the Butler family history are a puzzle to the locals. An entertaining piece that often has a charm in its roughness, Silent Night, Bloody Night gives us some memorable kills complete with the help of that old favourite Kensington Gore.
“The mansion… the madness… the maniac… no escape.”
The Ingress Tapes and Dead Celebrities are both witty, engaging and at times disturbing pieces and are effective for their conciseness. With their tight running times and often dream-like, art house aesthetic, Michael Fausti’s works act like a short sharp adrenaline shot.
“Real life can be truly horrific and a script always needs a strong foundation. Rooting a narrative in real life events or happenings is a good starting point.”
Take a group of six friends, add five courses of sumptuous food and sprinkle a generous amount of suspicion and motive before garnishing with a generous slice of debauchery and you have Murder Made Easy! As the opening titles roll against a jazz infused score I’m put in mind of both Woody Allen’s Annie Hall and Hitchcock’s suspenseful one-shot masterpiece, Rope. Directed by David Palamoro, Murder Made Easy is also (as the title insinuates) rooted in the playroom drama of Agatha Christie’s great murder mysteries.
“Dinner will be killer.”
‘There’s a few things I’d like to get off my mind before I go’ confesses the deep voice of an unseen man with a South London accent. Before us is a desk with three objects laid out on its surface; a reel to reel tape recorder, a telephone and an ashtray. In The Ingress Tapes we will hear the detailed and confessional musings of an unidentified criminal but intriguingly neither they nor their interviewer are ever identified, a detail which adds to the film’s overall atmosphere of ambiguity. It would appear that the tapes are first-hand accounts of a catalogue of brutal and shocking crimes.