REVIEW: 13 Dolls In Darkness (2017) Directed by Zeda Muller

Let’s just start out by saying that the recent indie horror scene has quite a few gems out there, but it’s littered with so much crap that it’s hard to find anything worthwhile.People who know me, know I don’t hold back from saying if something is not good. My FB Messenger popped up the other day with a message from the film’s director asking if I wanted to see 13 Dolls In Darkness. As I have been wanting to, since all the poster art and trailer has been intriguing as hell, I say said yes, immediately.

MV5BNjEyNGRlZTktNTdlNy00YjllLTg3ZmItYmJhMjExOTc1MTljXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjc0NTAwODg@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,999_AL_

Getting right to it, 13 Dolls in Darkness is one of the best indie horror films I have ever seen. It’s mostly for the tech and effort angle but also for the bold idea behind it. For a low budget film (very LOW), the amount of shots and edits in it… eclipses most films that have seemingly endless budgets. Oh and that opening title sequence…………..

The big selling point is it is a silent film and it’s filmed like it’s on old falling apart nitrate stock that is about to burn up as it goes through the projector. Think like you are watching a film from 1916 (at the proper speed) and you get the idea. (complete with dialogue cards to move the story around…) Every frame is blown out and flickers. Some might get turned off to this but stick with it and you don’t even notice after a while.

MV5BMjBiODk2MGEtNDYzYy00MGExLWIwOTUtMWQ5NDViMjc3MDE4XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjc0NTAwODg@._V1_

The plot is simple. A lady gets a message from her mother that she is dying and to “come home right away”. She does and an “event” happens and people comes looking for her. A million films are like this right? But none are executed in this fashion and that is why it is so solid a movie. There are so many horror tropes hitting your brain every sequence, why does it seem so fresh? Is this a slasher? A giallo? An “old dark house” film? All of those and none of it. It’s like Zeda squeezed dozens of ideas from horror films between the 60’s through the 80’s through a food processor, poured in a lot of black and white and out came 13 Dolls of Darkness. (I found it humorous that one of the girls in the film is dressed like it’s 1982…) Loads of death, dismemberment and gore too.

Getting back to the tech of 13 Dolls In Darkness. While the low budget bleeds through along the edges, the masterful editing and presentation elevates it to another level. I can only imagine how much time went into cutting this and putting it all together. Makes other filmmakers look lazy by comparison. So much style and heart is in this.

I feel very strongly about this movie. If I had the money to start up my own Bluray/DVD releasing company, I would be so into putting it out. Somebody has too.

Fiend ‘O’ Meter says: 10/10

MV5BMDc4N2VjNWMtNWI3MC00NTkzLWIxZDQtYzU1YzliNWE4MmZkXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjc0NTAwODg@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,999_AL_13-dolls-in-darkness2.jpg-1

Advertisements

BOOK REVIEW: The Hitcher by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas (2018)

The Hitcher by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Published by Arrow Books 100 pgs. 2018

Don’t pick up hitchhikers…EVER.

Late in 2017, when this book by film critic and writer, Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, was announced by Arrow, most of the film (mostly uptight) nerds around the “internet” were posting their disappointment. Why? Because it was a “book” and not a Bluray of THE HITCHER. I, myself, was all giddy with anticipation since it was a new book by one of my favorite film writers of all time!

I personally have only seen THE HITCHER from 1986 once and that was in the VHS days. I do own the DVD of it and it is more than likely it will not see a BluRay release unless HBO puts it out as they hold the rights to it (and I am sure there is more to it than that). So in cases like these, I look to people like Alex to throw down some knowledge to make me understand why a film like this is important to see.

20180602_090105

In her personal style, the “book” is assembled much like the last I read of hers, the one on Able Ferrara’s 1981 film, Ms. 45. It opens with pre-production on the film and references to older films, in this case, ones that deal with hitchhiking as a plot device. The middle section is her breakdown and observations on themes of THE HITCHER, going deep on the character’s motivations. The 3rd part deals with the film’s completion, the theatrical/critical response, the sequel and remake and other notes. The book also has stills and posters from the film, blown up to fill the page. I have read many articles on the film over the years and the writer of this book brings out tidbits I never heard before.

Alexandra Heller-Nicholas has put together a very well researched book. It doesn’t talk down to you like some film books. She drops the paragraphs easy to read but giving you plenty to consider about this film. It’s also kept clean with no footnotes (the references are in the back pages for further perusal) and Arrow did a nice concise layout. It’s a small book, yes, but books like these are important and I’m glad Arrow gave it a shot. Alex’s writing is a force to be reckoned with and I look forward to the next tome with her name on it!

ASIAN CINEMA TAKEOUT Fanzine #3 is now taking submissions! The CAT III issue!

asian cinema takeout 3 cover

It’s time to start writing for issue 3 of ASIAN CINEMA TAKEOUT! It is our first themed issue…CAT III Cinema! We are looking for the bulk of this issue to be CAT III (Category III in Hong Kong is 18 and up) films of Hong Kong OR films from other Asian countries that can be considered CAT III. Looking for reviews/essays on the most depraved, smutty, violent, dirty, sleazy films you can come up with. There are plenty of films to be considered, so start writing! Any questions ask! Any reviews received during this time that do not fit the theme, will definitely go into the November 2018 issue! We here at Asian Cinema Takeout are looking forward to your submissions…all writers will get the issue in paper form for sure!

ASIAN CINEMA TAKEOUT is half sized (5.5″ x 8.5″) and is 20 pages each issue. The idea is to knock these out fast. The third issue will be out in late September 2018!

Thematically, we cover films of all eras from the Asian film world, but only ones with a darker theme. Cult, Exploitation, Action, Horror, Smut, etc… you get the idea. While we will graciously accept long form articles/reviews, ASIAN CINEMA TAKEOUT mostly consists of shorter, paragraph length reviews with many photos and poster art work. Whatever we cannot fit in one issue, will go on to the next. All writings can be old or new. If you have things on an old dead blog, send it, give it new life.

So contact me at: Grandnagus69@yahoo.com for any more info. (Send all submissions with Asian Cinema Takeout in the subject line)

Join the Facebook group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1805935712756721

Hope to see your work in the upcoming issue!

Check out the first issue here:

http://www.mediafire.com/file/b759zlhkg71578o/asian_cinema_takeout_issue_1_march_2018.pdf

Check out the 2nd issue here:

http://www.mediafire.com/file/3vqqpzq33tf9c8a/ACT_2_for_web.pdf

283502_1

It’s HERE! ASIAN CINEMA TAKEOUT FANZINE #1!!

asian cinema takeout cover

After a few months of planning, the first issue of ASIAN CINEMA TAKEOUT is ready to go!

ASIAN CINEMA TAKEOUT cover the darker side of Asian Cinema and this issue has plenty of short film reviews for you to pursue…

hqdefault

The ‘zine itself is 20 pages 5.5 x 8.5 inches and in B & W.

You can download it two different ways for FREE:

The read on screen version (PDF) is here:

http://www.mediafire.com/file/b759zlhkg71578o/asian_cinema_takeout_issue_1_march_2018.pdf

You can also download the odd and even pages to make your own print copy here:

http://www.mediafire.com/file/at0dm3w2yyn7y11/odd_pages_for_act_issue_1_march_2018.pdf

http://www.mediafire.com/file/g6k7v2ug6eg40cd/even_pages_for_act_issue_1_march_2018.pdf

and for the truly hardcore…you can download the 11 x 17 poster that comes with it:

http://www.mediafire.com/file/rhzuczcr4b49nj1/11_x_17_poster_for_issue_1.pdf

11 x 17 poster for issue 1

If you wish to contribute to future issues, e-mail me at Grandnagus69@yahoo.com with “Asian Cinema Takeout” in the subject line. All contributors get a print copy of the ‘zine.

JOIN OUR FACEBOOK GROUP HERE! https://www.facebook.com/groups/1805935712756721

act back cover

 

FIENDISH one-shot August 2017 is now available for download!! 8/27/17

It’s the moment you have all been waiting for (or not)! The FIENDISH horror/cult/exploitation one shot fanzine is now available for download. It’s 92 pages of some great content from writers all over.

You have two ways to download FIENDISH (it’s free!):

The print version is in two parts. One file is for the odd pages (cover side) and the other file is the even pages. Download both and you can print your own copy (or copies to give out to others). This is a free fanzine, so while you are free to print as many as your want, don’t sell it. The files for this version are here:

FIENDISH_one_shot_2017_odd_pages_TO_PRINT

FIENDISH_one_shot_2017_even_pages_TO_PRINT

The web/screen version is here. This version is the individual pages, so it can be read on screen up/down or side to side. At a 121 mb, a bit of a beast but it was as small as I could get it without sacrificing quality.

FIENDISH_oneshot_screen_reading_copy_2017

Hope you like and tell others to get it. A few months of work went into this and I feel the results are there.

01

A look at Cultographies: Ms. 45 by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas (2017)

I “met” Alexandra through her writing a couple of year back when I read one of her previous books, Rape Revenge Films: A Critical Study. To me, just that title alone is a home run but when I was about half way through I knew I was reading words from my “new” favorite film writer. While the book has that scholarly air about it, Alexandra shows she is a down to earth film fan first and writes so that dumb shulbs like me can understand. I found out about a couple of films she wrote about in a positive fashion and picked them up.

I later learned from her at the time, that she was working on two future books, both single film specific. One was about Dario Argento’s Suspiria (1977) and the next, the one I was most interested in, Abel Ferrara’s 1981 Classic Ms. 45. Little that I knew it was going to be a bit for it to be released. The countdown began at that moment…

20170303_055613

^ Contents page…

Last week, the book arrived in my mailbox and I fast tracked it to the top of the pile. I was first surprised at the small size of the book and then realized it was perfect. Sized like a classic paperback you would find on the racks of seedy magazine shops (like Seven Star News in the city of Linden, New Jersey where I grew up), the subject material fits it like a glove. In a historical fashion, Alexandra breaks down the making/creation of the film, from it’s beginnings to the finished product hitting the screens.

She is a researcher who likes details and doesn’t skimp on them. While Alexandra doesn’t have a direct interview with any of the particulars, there are many referenced quotes from all who were involved with the proceedings. There is a big focus on Zoe Lund, from the acting in Ms. 45, her writings & collaborations with Abel on other productions, such as Bad Lieutenant (1992). Small details do not get unnoticed, it seems for one big scene in the film, Ferrara hired for day work, people hanging out in the Revolutionary Communist Party Bookstore on 18th Street/NYC, as his studios were upstairs. Weird, I was at that place a few times in the 80’s, who knew such greatness was up above! There is also words written about the recent “uncut” DVD release by Drafthouse Films. While I knew there were many versions of Ms. 45, I wasn’t aware that it was never released in full until 2013. Crazy.

Overall, as with much of her previous work, Alexandra writes for the “common folk” when it comes to film critique. I would say about 15% of the book would be considered psycho babble but the rest is hardcore film criticism and looking into the film’s production, the screenings and reactions afterward. Ms. 45, when you look at it at face value, is not an easy film to fully understand and everybody comes away from it differently. Even though I have seen the film a few times over the years, this book illuminated somethings I missed (again, I’m a dumb shulb, don’t sue me…). If you are like me and enjoy reading about movies, Cultographies: Ms. 45 is a sure pick-up.

20170303_055647

Find the book and Alexandra on the Web here:

https://www.amazon.com/Ms-45-Cultographies-Alexandra-Heller-Nicholas/dp/0231179855

http://www.thebluelenses.com/

https://twitter.com/suspirialex