8. Undocumented (2010):
The issue of illegal immigration has never been so relevant in today’s society and government. The variety of new channels focusing on every angle connected to this act of finding a better life and freedom across the borders of the United States. What if you took a camera crew and became part of that experience to document the story and struggle of these people? Not a major network or film studio but a group of indie documentary film makers taking hand held camera equipment and being intertwined with the group of illegal immigrants. What if it went horribly wrong and you had to video tape, watch and experience the entire capture, torture, brutality, killings, slavery and belief in the name of being an American? This is the shocking, disturbing and vicious film from IFC Midnight... Undocumented.
Keeping the knot tight and never releasing you from the intense hold of a very personal and well told story by a talented director Chris Peckover, Undocumented orchestras a tale that blends elements of Hitchcock style storytelling with the savage spirit of Martyrs and the unhealthy hunt of Inside. From the image of bloody Uncle Sam on the cover box, the reputation of IFC Midnight and the subject matter, Undocumented is dangerous film making that presents you with so much more than blood, guts, nudity or violence. Peckover constructs a story with truths that many don't want to know about and reality only heard on one-sided network television news. Casting many less known talented actors such as Scott Mechlowicz (Euro Trip), Alona Tai (Broken City), and Yancey Arias (Legion) along with a veteran talent like charismatic and messiah patriot leader Peter Stormare (Bad Milo & Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters) that help to anchor this emotional narrative places the viewer into a hopeless arena that makes you question your loyalties and beliefs. It is warned that if you find the issue of illegal immigration a sensitive spot and want a profile in the power of un-daunting belief, Undocumented will make you feel as if you are captured, chained, tortured and broken. It's that frightening and disturbing because it is dramatically real. The aspects of extreme belief, intimate cinematography and brilliant story driven direction makes this an extreme tale of survival and freedom that is Undocumented.
7. Hate Crime (2013):
From director James Cullen Bressack, comes a film that is brutal, real, unrelenting and captivating. Bressack who is considered one of horror's rising film directors on the independent circuit and the director of the psychological debut film My Pure Joy and the Iphone5 film To Jennifer creates a nightmare of a masterpiece that pounds you with the some of the most extreme violence and racism ever put on film. Hate Crime takes you moments before a gang of three thugs break into a families' home, doing unspeakable things that torture, harm and violate this all-American Jewish family during a birthday party. Known for honest and real films that contain subject matter that pushes the boundaries even in the horror genre, Bressack hits the mark here with the controversial Hate Crime. While the subject matter is taboo breaking and harsh from just about the entire reel, Bressack finds a way to hide the truth from us and lets our minds fill the blanks with brutal assaults that smacks the senses and doesn't allow the eyes to stop watching. Overall, the acting is believable with frightening and great performances by all those involved especially Jody Barton (Number 1), Tim Moran (Number 2) and (Number 3) portrayed by the menacing Ian Roberts. It is understandable why film fests have issues and refuse to show the film, it would cause discomfort to the most hardened horror fan. Hate Crime is honest, psychological and real with a brilliant job done by Bressack and cast overall. Powerful and unapologetic only scratch the surface of this independent horror nightmare that makes you feel that you are there with psychological torment, violence and hell that actually is worth watching as a fan of real horror filming.
6. Inside (2007):
The sight of the cover box with the protected pregnant belly and the scissors open… ready to cut through the skin in a heinous act that brings the viewer back to the days of the vivid VHS tape boxes. Holding nothing back and blending some the best elements of thrillers, gore and home invasion films such as The Strangers, Wolf Creek and The Butcher comes the visceral thriller Inside from writing and directing team of Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury (The ABCs of Death 2). The French based film is everything that lingers in your nightmares and more! The narrative begins four months after the death of the pregnant Sarah’s (Alysson Paradis) husband. On her own, surrounded by people who care for her, she is trying to move on and handle her pregnancy. As the narrative excels, Sarah is being watched and contacted by a mysterious woman who has an interest in her unborn baby. One afternoon while getting ready to leave, the mysterious woman invades her home murdering anyone in her path in a performance and character not seen since Mrs. Baylock in the 1976 classic horror film The Omen. Over the next hour, it is a vicious and visceral bloodbath game of cat and mouse as Sarah must protect herself and her unborn baby from being literally cut from her womb. Inside is infamous and psychological at its very core using the narrative as basis to explore survival, mothering instinct, mourning, psychosis and blood lust. The film is balanced with uncontrollable, extreme violence that takes you beyond the subtitles and language to engross you in a film that will revolt you as well impress. You can find this film under the Dimension Extreme DVD label.
5. Bug (2006):
The name William Friedkin is infamous for classic and quality horror on different levels including his masterpiece The Exorcist. Starring the incredible acting talents of Michael Shannon (Take Shelter) and Ashley Judd (Kiss the Girls), Bug may be the ultimate voyage into extreme, psychological madness unlike any other film on this list. The story is based on paranoia, compulsiveness and insanity with the simple premise of bugs. With character backgrounds suffering from post-war trauma and abnormal psyches, the narrative takes place in a mid-western town and is based around Shannon's character, Peter Evans, who has come home as a damaged war veteran and is introduced to a lonely and abused woman, Agnes White (Judd), who is escaping from her abusive ex-con husband, Jerry (Harry Connick Jr.). As their destructive relationship grows and their inability to be fully functional evolves into a dark obsession with the supposed 'bugs' that have been implanted in Peter, pain and paranoia ensues. Within the 102 minutes, the sick, tragic and disturbing storytelling holds you captivate to this extreme mental desecration. Filed under the drama film section, Bug is usually lost in drama genre since it has very little blood and gore, deals very personally with mental illness and has a stellar and talented cast/crew. Another indie gem, this film is so disturbing and has such a creepy feel as the blend of body horror and mental disability are portrayed amazingly. Shannon puts forth intense and powerful performances that attack your senses including impulsive rage, mad rants and the extraordinary finale that in my opinion is a mental hell that will rip you heart and soul out. Friedkin's unflinching direction, Michael Grady's intimate cinematography and Brian Tyler's eerie score all induce the dark journey of madness in the viewer’s mind in this truly demented love story.
4. The Loved Ones (2009):
Taking nearly two years before its DVD release in the United States, The Loved Ones is a twisted discretionary tale by writer and director Shaun Byrne that takes Fatal Attraction and Carrie to an unhealthy level and addresses high school issues. Please do not get me wrong, this is not an ABC Afterschool Special... Lessons within the narrative are taught with pain, torture and squirmish moments. This horrific car accident-I mean story- revolves around a teen named Lola (Robin McLeavy) who asks her classmate Brent (Xavier Samuel), that she fancies, to go to the prom with her. Brent turns her down nicely and decides to go with another girl, Holly (Victoria Thaine) in their class. Most young girls would be upset about being turned down but would move onto another boy to ask, however, Lola is just crazy! As they say: a woman scorned... well, a family scorned! Taking revenge, Lola and her Daddy (John Brumpton) decided that if his little princess Lola won’t get what she wants and if Brent will not go with her then they will have their own prom by kidnapping Brent along with binding, drugging, drilling (yes drilling into his head) and torture. Overall, The Loved Ones is as creepy and unsettling to watch as it gets (including an extremely messed up and jealous relationship between daughter and father.) This film is everything that horror fans crave and love about the genre in its very extreme. The Loved Ones for gore/blood content, tension, narrative and the creepy factor does not have many modern day contenders. A huge reason for this is that the production is filmed in Australia which shows tolerance for pushing the line and free expression. Now available in most stores or online, The Loved Ones is one of the hardest films to experience as a viewer for too many reasons but it’s so worth it as fan!
3. Zombie (Short Film) (2010):
A quiet apartment complex that was handed down from his grandmother to take care of and maintain. A non-descript room with a bed and furniture of someone who is comfortable in his cage... I mean surroundings... I mean home. A video camera clicks on and begins to record a thin, plain and shy man who tells about the positives of his daily life. The camera is a portal as the viewer looks closer and sees the darkness in the eyes. Your skin begins to crawl and you squirm in your chair; you look around at others and wonder if they feel the same way as you watching this mask of a sick human with uncontrollable impulses towards a teenager. Quentin P is patient and setting you up for the horrible things that will never leave your memory. Oh wait... the film is only twenty minutes long? Oh god, there is no room for excess, just his needs and his zombie. Directed and produced by Thomas Caruso from the writings of Joyce Carol Oates and stage play, 2010’s short film Zombie has the most frightening and disturbing content per moment ever put on film. Not just a serial killer or maniac, it is an account of cold, calculating predator. With incredibly realistic and taboo breaking documentary style film making, Zombie is highlighted by the actions and frightening performance of actor Bill Connington. Connington for the most part is the narrator throughout the short film as the writing and sequences are tools that balance the unthought-of realistic storytelling and use of the viewers imagination. I’m sorry to say but I am not sure Zombie is available to the general public. As it is, many viewers have a very difficult time watching this beyond sick narrative and actions. I had the disturbing privilege to see Zombie as a judge for the LA based film festival Shriekfest and again at the New York based Macabre Faire Film Festival on Long Island as part of the press. In my entire career and journey within the horror genre, this is the only short film that has never left me and will forever be one of the few films that scare me.
2. Martyrs (2008):
To experience a film like Martyrs is to be taken through each level of hell. Written and directed by the brilliant Pascal Laugier, Martyrs is the story of a woman Lucie (Mylene Jampnoi) seeking revenge for her kidnapping and child abuse. In the process of her journey, she includes her friend Anna (Morjana Alaoui) to come with her to discover the truth. This is the first level of hell within this film. As Lucie and Anna uncover the past, they are abducted by a group who put them through unimaginable tortures of just about every type in the name of belief with the ultimate goal is to experience martyrism. Crafted like a symphony that is composed and conducted in the darkest nightmares thought possible, Martyrs is a beautiful and extreme film that you may never have heard of or probably have never seen. Visually stunning and powerful with cinematography that utilizes well planned sequences; Laugier never loses control in plotting and presenting the narrative. For those who have seen this film, the impact it left on you is forever with a vicious, emotional experience that is the foundation of quality cinema and moral discussions. I dare you not to discuss it after viewing as there are so many ideals. In the tradition of great European horror films like Haute Tension, Inside, Funny Games and The Human Centipede series, Martyrs encompasses all of them and more. One thing I will say for the overseas market is that their taste for disturbing content and a balance of quality is second to known and no US studio should ever remake a near perfect genre film like Martyrs. Upon constructing this list, up until 2011 no one could match Martyrs as the most extreme and disturbing film. Laugier's trip into the inferno was the most disturbing since its release until 2011.
1. The Human Centipede Series (First Sequence: 2009) & (Full Sequence: 2011):
From the first moment that this list was conceived in my mind, The Human Centipede 2 was number one. As the selections were chosen, narrowed down and placed, I ran into the issue of whether to separate the films series into two separate entries or to group the two segments (third entry in post-production due out early 2014). In the end for several reasons, I grouped them together in the number one spot. With that said, I think that as a whole Tom Six is one of the most daring and creative directors on the planet. The Human Centipede series is successful for several reasons. For those who don’t the infamous and unnatural film series, the idea of extreme romance and intimate oral pleasure will never be the same. The Human Centipede film series is a huge indie extreme horror success... Why is it such a success and number one on this list? First, is the decade they were released (2000’s).
This last decade has yielded some the most extreme films since the 1980’s. The series is an original film concept with talented film making. Finally, the fact that these two films were not shot in the USA allowed Six to create a monster franchise. Both films balance each other many ways with an underlining theme and story connecting like the segments of the infamous centipede. However it works together very well as whole taking gore filled body horror and backing it up with proved science. Upon my first viewings of these films I was definitely more shocked by The Human Centipede: Full Sequence (part two) and not as much by The Human Centipede: First Sequence (part one). Overall part one was well done as it was filmed using very bright, a clean and sterile backdrop to create tale of macabre and psychological torture. Of course, I had never seen anything created like this prior and enjoyed the precision of the films pace, tension built and the tragic narrative of the three pieces of Dr. Laser centipede. One thing that I discuss a lot on "The Horror Happens Radio Show" on HGRNJ.org is the fact of how much horror is an actor’s genre and in both films all parties casted must show what may be considered a real life fantasy hell! Between Six being a calculating and unapologetic writer/director (among many of the hats he wears), his casting was tremendous, convincing and was not just anybody for the sake of horror, extreme or a name to put on the cover box. The casting of Ashley C. Williams, Ashlynn Yennie and Akihiro Kitamura was genius because it felt so random and made the viewer feel they could be next. Beyond the fact that both main villains played by the frightening Dieter Laser and the repulsive Laurence Harvey showcases incredible method acting highlighting the madness of pleasure with a foundation of 100% accurate abnormal psychology. In the end, I really enjoyed part one but it didn't register with me until I watched it again after the shock of part two wore off. It all changed upon viewing the second part of The Human Centipede: Full Sequence. In all honesty, it is the only movie I almost threw up watching twice. Never once was I repulsed by part one and the 100% medically accurate surgical procedure that Dr. Laser performs with such a skilled hand, the feeding or the suffering of each part of the centipede. Watching both films, one of the biggest differences was the cinematography and coloring. Part one is in bright color and light, while part two is a bleak and foreign feeling black and white. The film's use of color and light impressed me more for the reason that like the Soska's American Mary, Jen and Sylvia show both sides of the Mary Mason character in the world of surgery and obsession. Harvey, who was also an unknown theater actor, is cast perfectly in the colorless world, being a human embodiment of the centipede monster. The black and white film style also signifies the idealistically abnormal, sexual, abused mind of Harvey's character, Martin, who is molested, tormented, bullied and put into a social situation where his sexual preferences are worshipping (later acting out with barbed wire), a film taking it further than Laser.
Another major difference was not how much and extreme the violence sequences were but where Six allowed Harvey's character Martin to go with them. It's no secret that everyone, whether fans of extreme horror or not, has darkness in them. While we may not use a staple gun, shoot people, inject them or knock out their teeth, we are reflexive when we see dark stories on television, movies; hear them on the radio, or study psychology or history. Allowing Martin to go through each stage of fantasy, to let go and not snap with a bang but to let the abuse and tension build in his different cages (home, garage and warehouse) is so intelligent because it allows the demons to consume him in comfortable areas where their reaction and attack are methodical. Again, while both films have unique and visceral sequences of violence far exceeding pervious entries to this list like Martyrs, Inside, The Loved Ones and/or Hate Crime, part one never comes close to part two. For that we are thankful as it is built up (the sequel being far better than original) and I fear to even think about The Human Centipede: Final Sequence (part 3), which may be the concerto of all that is vile and heinous from this modern horror classic. In the end, there are too many moments that are imprinted on my mind after watching both films, but it is The Human Centipede: Full Sequence that is number one on this list with amazing and extreme casting, writing, direction, editing and some of the smartest nightmares ever put on film. Hats off to you Tom Six and the Dr. Frankenstein you are.
List by: Jay K & The Ghost the Hosts of the Horror Happens RS Weekly Tues @ 6 pm EST live on http://Hgrnj.org HHRS http://Facebook.com/horrorhappensrs Radio Show Website: http://horrorhappens6.wix.com/show
Twitter @horrorhappensRS & @ghostjlk IMDB Lists at http://www.imdb.com/user/ur38762140/ http://www.imdb.com/list/rqO8j_VIKU0/