Friday, June 29, 2012

Talking to THE BUNNY GAME directer Adam Rehmeier

Decided to do something new here, I interviewed THE BUNNY GAME director ADAM REHMEIER via SKYPE this evening. We talked of many things, from the state of the horror genre, internet downloading, and of course how he put together his brutal and brilliant film. I hope you all enjoy this chat we had. 

Interview © Andy Copp
Music © Adam Rehmeier

Friday, June 22, 2012

THE BUNNY GAME is no game at all...

 D.Adam Rehmeier
Autonomy Pictures

Some horror fans pride themselves in searching the outer reaches of the genre for those films that will psychologically scar them. Recent years have seen the genre move to those outer edges in a reaction to a not so subtle seismic shift in our culture after 9/11, ten years of a war in Iraq, and watching our economy plummet while people blame each other. The horror film has always been a mirror to the anxiety of the society of the time, and with the viciousness of our current times it is no surprise we have ended up with films like EDEN LAKE, MARTYRS, BROKEN and of course the very ugly and controversial A SERBIAN FILM. Now we have another very unsettling film to throw onto the short list of movies that will lay a long and nasty scar on your brain. Adam Rehmeier's and Rodleen Getsic's searing cinematic assault, THE BUNNY GAME. 

But this one is quite different than even the other (some quite excellent) films mentioned, as it is as much an art film as a horror film. Shot in harsh black and white, and edited with near brilliance at times, this is a movie that is very aware of the artifice being used to bring it to the audience. The film-making on display is never less than completely assured, coupling with a nerve wracking use of sound design and loud and abrasive music all collide to make THE BUNNY GAME an experience that only a brave few will make it out alive from.

The story is really very simple. A young woman played by co-scripter Rodleen Getsic, is BUNNY, a woman who has found herself a prostitute. Whoring her way on the streets to survive. These early scenes, which make up roughly the first quarter to a third of the film, are deeply unpleasant and the perfect flip side to a movie like PRETTY WOMAN which makes prostitution look easy, clean, and never really dangerous. BUNNY is shown plying her trade in hardcore close up, sucking cocks but never for a second enjoying it. Soullessly getting roughed up, but taking it because it means enough money to get through the day. We see her in the shower in tears as she adjusts to getting past her last encounter and on to the next nasty John. Much of this is scored with super loud and abrasive death metal music just to add to the even more aggressive feel.

Soon she is picked up be a seemingly benign old truck driver played by Jeff Renfro. After a brief discussion of exchanging money for sex, he offers her some drugs and next thing she knows she has been kidnapped and her life is about to become a living nightmare.

From here on out the film is an aggressive onslaught of humiliation and torture. The Trucker systematically sets out to break her, emotionally, spiritually and sexually. Holding her captive in the back of his tractor trailer, stripping her down, shaving her head and playing an extending, extremely brutal S+M based game of total dehumanization. Oddly enough he never actually sexually penetrates her, but the entire enterprise is basically one long extended emotional rape of her very being. During some moments she has a rather disturbing rubber Bunny mask on that further dehumanizes her. All the while the Trucker laughs maniacally becoming a very demonic presence, leading the charge in this nightmare.

THE BUNNY GAME could have been just another torture exhibit freakshow for gorenographers to jerk off to. But instead the film-making on display sets it apart from that. There is real force of nature at work here. Seriously unpleasant stuff, but not without merit. Even if I had not known the back story why this was made I would look at this film and see there was more to what was on screen than simply an exploitation of a woman’s suffering. 

One thing that indeed set's this apart from the horror film of it's peers is that NOTHING on screen is fake. That very fact risks making this a bit of a geek show, but it also lends the movie a visceral, raw authenticity that makes it impossible to escape from. So when we see BUNNY being bound, gagged and tormented it is for real. When her head is shaved and she is force fed a whole bottle of vodka, it is real. In the same scene there are cars in the far distance driving by that are clearly not part of the film-making crew. Just people tooling down the highway that adds a very disturbing edge in that we are watching this bound, naked woman being abused and people are just driving past. The sexual scenes early on are not fake, and there are several scenes of things like cutting and branding that are not fake either.

All of this is possible because Rodleen Getsic comes from a performance art background. Most of her former work dealt with feminist and political themes. She also was very involved with things like political activism and was well known for her charity and philanthropic work during the Katrina disaster. It is this background that allowed her to take the punishment netted out in the part. But more importantly is the WHY she conceived the the film and role. It is my understanding that some where in her past she was indeed abducted by a sexual sadist and suffered greatly while held hostage. To wipe the experience from herself she conceived this project as a way to exorcise the demons. Getsic fasted for forty days to get to a physical place to play the role and they shot the for film for 13 days during which she committed to taking all the abuse as close to reality as possible. Including the very real violence. Once the shoot was finished she went away to a retreat for a month to rid herself of the emotional experience of the shoot and the memories it was based on. 

Some films are not meant to be enjoyed, or even be entertaining. Some are meant to be endured as they very act of making them were acts of rebellion for the filmmakers. THE BUNNY GAME is one such film. It isn't for everyone, only a select few will be able to stomach the horrors on display. Approach it with extreme caution, and understanding that what you are seeing is an act of extreme catharsis. It could damage you if unprepared. 

Andrew Copp © Review

Monday, June 11, 2012

Sleepless nights and bottomless bottles, LOVE IS A DOG FROM HELL

D. Dominique Deruderre

This Belgian produced film started life as a short film called "A FOGGY DAY" based on Charles Bukowski's short story "THE COPULATING MERMAID OF VENICE, CA" which the filmmakers made with money from the Belgian film commission. They were so happy with the results (even though they pulled a fast one on the film commission who thought they were getting a much more mild story) that they made the short into a feature film. To do so they took the main character and drafted out two more very "Bukowski" styled stories based on imagery from other stories and even bits of his life. What they ended up with is a film that the very hard to deal with writer, considered the best adaption of his work. 

The film deals with one Harry Voss whom we meet at three distinct moments of his life. First at age twelve at the movies where he has fallen in love with a beautiful screen princess. His world view of love, romance and even sexuality is formed on this storybook notions. But the next 24 hours all of that will be torn down as he spends time with an older, hornier, neighbor boy who takes it upon himself to teach Harry to ropes of sexual misadventure. Firstly explaining to him what "fucking" is, then setting their sights on several girls and women throughout the town for the both of them to try to conquer. Naturally, it never really goes well and is all very confusing to young Harry, ending with him seeing a lot more of his new friend that he wants to see, and much more of human sexuality than he needed to know about. 

We meet him again seven years later on the day of his high school graduation and he has grown into a depressive young man. The song 60's hit song "Love Hurts" plays on the radio as the camera pans over to reveal his older face which is covered with hideous acne. Pus ridden, pimples so bad that he looks like a monster right out of a 50's sci-fi movie. He gets on a bus and adults try not to star eat him, but little children have no compunctions about leering right at his face. He doesn't go to his graduation out shame, but his best friend convinces him to go to the final dance to attempt to profess his love to the pretty girl in class he has written a poem for. Naturally that doesn't go well either. But his best friend being the sort that he is arranges for the class floozy to put out for the both of them in a car in the parking lot, but she has not seen his scarred face either. 

We meet both of these boys again another seven years later and they are worse for the wear. Harry Voss is now a raging alcoholic. His acne is gone, but clearly so is much of his sanity. His best friend is just back from several stints in prison and they are together again after many years. They start a fight in the local bar so they can steal a bottle of gin and hit the streets together. They see a bagged up corpse being hauled out of the hospital, and put a challenge to each other for some mischief, stealing the body and taking it home. But when Harry unzips the body bag and discovers it is the remains of a very beautiful woman, everything changes for him. Suddenly the last chance for any kind of love is lying in front of him...

CRAZY LOVE starts of kind of mirthful, even innocent and ends pitch black as we see how a lifetime of rejection, disappointment and hollowness has driven this man to complete nothingness.  Watching this man who believed in the power of love as child, to have it destroyed  as his life goes on until there is nothing left but the cold booze bottle and a colder beautiful corpse woman is truly devastating. The final scene, without spoiling what it is, is both redemptive, haunting and profoundly sad. 

This is one of the most bitter of all coming of age stories I may have ever seen. Yet it holds a lot of truth in how the lives of some people just never stop derailing. A bittersweet tragedy and horror story of love.

Review © Andrew Copp

Friday, June 8, 2012

ZOOM UP! More Japanese Roman Porno coming your way!

D. Takashi Kanno
Impulse Pictures. Synapse Films
2:35-1 / 16X9 Anamorphic

This is the fourth release from Impulse Pictures/ Synapse Films Nikkatsu Roman Porno Collection series, celebrating the 100 year anniversary of the Japanese studio. Without question this is my favorite of the releases so far. This is officially the 3rd film in the loosely connected “ZOOM UP” series, the first being ZOOM UP: RAPE SITE in 1979 and the second ZOOM UP: RAPE APARTMENT in 1980 both by different directors and boasting different plot lines. So it makes no difference that you are jumping into the series after a couple of other entries. If the other two are as interesting as this one, I hope Impulse/Synapse has them on the future schedule.

ZOOM UP: THE BEAVER BOOK GIRL deals with a photographer for a slick skin magazine who specializes in those ever popular panty shots and upskirt voyeur pics. His newest specialty is piss pics, which seem to be the only thing that even remotely turn him on. When he comes home to find his assistant and newest model fucking wildly in the living room he goes about cooking dinner like nothing is going on. When she hungrily begs him to join, he violent pushes them both out of the way and finishes his cooking. He is clearly a man with some sexual hang ups. We get a peek at what that might be when his boss (who continually hits on him, grabbing his dick every chance he gets) mentions to a new model that his “true artistry” lies in his past as a rapist(!) but it was okay because all the girls instantly fell in love with him. 

Meanwhile a slightly older woman, maybe in her thirties, has been stalking the three leads as they go about their day of making pornographic pictures. She finally makes her way into their loft and gets in on the action in a sequence that will send piss fetishists into a blissful fugue state. We later learn from the skin magazine editor that this lady is named  Nami ( Nami is a common name used in a lot of Manga and sexually explicit films in Japan) and she was the most popular skin game model until year before when she dropped out mysteriously, taking five million yen with her she robbed from him. But he tells the photographer that if she shows back up to get her to pose again and then give him a call so he can get his money back.

Naturally she does show back up, but she is so game to do things that the other models won't do, the he does not call his boss. Instead she convinces him to go to a another remote location for a more private shoot. But we just know things are going to get weird, and they do indeed. As it turns out they have much more of a past together than he even could possibly remember. 

Much more intricately plotted than the other three Nikkatsu film released so far, this one goes from being a voyeuristic skin flick, to a weird study on fetishism, to a rape/revenge film all in the same couple of reels. It even throws in a really raw and bizarre love story at some point. Mix into that some of the most potent, edgy and down right dirty sex in the Nikkatsu films up to this point and you get a winner of a film. Of course, if off the beaten path sex is a turn off to you, you might want to consider giving this film, and the others as well, a really wide birth. But if you have some adventure in your soul, and things like S+M, or particular fetishists really catch your attention, this may be a something for you to take a look at. Just like the other films, it is really well made, has a peculiar point of view, and ends up being weirdly haunting before it is all over. 

The disc includes the short, but catch-line filled trailer, and nicely done liner notes by author and historian Jasper Sharp. Watch for his book THE HISTORICAL DICTIONARY OF JAPANESE CINEMA from Scarecrow press.

Review © Andy Copp

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


No distributor yet

This feature length motion picture from musician/filmmaker Henrique Couto is a marked change of pace from his previous work. Known mostly for his FACES OF SCHLOCK omnibus flicks that centered on tits and laughs as well as gross out shocks, BLEEDING THROUGH sets out to be something altogether more thoughtful and sublime. For the most part is succeeds. 

Loosely based on a set of short films from Henrique's teen years that dealt with similar topics, the film tells the sad tale of a young, inwardly drawn lady played by Sandy Behr. She lives with her brother (played by Director Couto) because their parents have died in a car crash less than a year before. We however meet their parents in video tapes they made thus getting to know them a bit along the way (played by Georgia based filmmaker Andrew Shearer and one of his regular actresses Countess Samela, both of which are quite wonderful here). Our leading lady is crushingly depressed, so much so that she barely speaks, her communication crushed somewhere deep inside herself. Everyone around talks "at" her not so much too her. Even when she is present, she is not really there. She has a teacher that is trying to reach her, or so it seems because she is flunking out of his class, a boss that is fed up with her job performance, there are a group of disgusting boys in the neighborhood who torment her and she even has a boyfriend (friends with the scumwads) who has reached the end of his rope with her lack of affection. 

Finally someone manages to reach her when a pretty young girl, quite our of nowhere becomes her friend, this girl, played with winning warmth  by Ruby LaRocca breaks through her barriers. A large chunk of the movie becomes these two girls bonding, and clearly a girl crush is developing. But guessing by the title things are not going to go well, and it doesn't. I wont spoil it for the audience, except to say this ends up becoming a rather stark and poetic blood splattered revenge movie. But getting there might break your heart. 

Going into this if you have any familiarity with Couto's other work this will come as a shock. There is a distinct lack of silly comedy, replaced here with an earnest attempt at characters. The first half of the movie is time spent with the people on screen as we get to know them, setting the stage for the downfall of the second half. It is pretty carefully plotted stuff with a keen eye for how the main character is feeling.

The final moments of the film present a very poetic confrontation on a beach that is rather haunting. Reminding me of similar moments in the work of Jean Rollin, the whole idea of the dead returning to the ocean is one that reoccurs in a lot of fantastic literature. It works here nicely as a melancholy cap to a violent and sad movie.

Being a low budget film, not everything is perfect of course. I was not enamored with the group of teenage boys who are her nemesis, and felt like there were moments they got for more screen time then they deserved. Also she is so depressed in the first third that at times she borderlines on being unlikable, but thankfully once she starts interacting with another girl that lifts away. But those are small complaints for what is clearly Henrique Couto's best film to date. Hopefully it will get picked up by a distributor who can get it out wide enough for people to see it.

Review © Andy Copp

42nd St Forever is almost 4 hours of Exploitation Trailer Bliss!


 Any exploitation trailer fan worth their salt has probably at least one of Synapse previous 42nd STREET FOREVER TRAILER DVD's in their collection. Up to five volumes now, each disc has hours of incredible trailers from the 50's through the late 80's covering every genre from big eyed monsters to soft core 3-D sex films (the XXX had their own DVD that is well worth owning too). So it was only a matter of time before the very best of these collections got put together for the Blu-ray collectors to savor. Remastered in Hi-Defination 1080p all the trailers here look as good as they can be expected to, but they still retain that "grindhouse" feel that fans are expecting with scratches, dirt and other wear and tear. Some look much better than others such as the trailer for the "Duo-vision" classic WICKED WICKED that looks absolutely stunning and clean, or surprisingly the Swedish sex romp starring Christina Lindberg, MAID IN SWEDEN that looks surprisingly sharp and modern all cleaned up well. 

Another one that looks pretty clean is Jammaa Fanaka (May he rest in peace) giant tentacle dick killing whitey blaxsploitation head scratcher WELCOME HOME BROTHER CHARLES aka SOUL VENGEANCE. ("This is the color of black baby, it is a whole lot different that white!")

But lets face it, you aren't buying this disc because you want the trailers to look cleaned up and pristine. You are buying it because you want a killer party disc; trailers that you can put on and have a great time showing your friends. On that front this delivers. I have actually watched this three times now before I have even attempted to write any sort of review. I've thrown it on as background while I have done other things, watched a few trailers before having to go to work etc. It is a the perfect disc to come home to. Like an old friend. They also made a wise choice in how the trailers are laid out in that they are grouped together by genre, with the disc opening with a group of blaxploitation (BLACK SAMPSON, BOSS NIGGER, SUGAR HILL, WELCOME HOME BROTHER CHARLES, GUY FROM HARLEM)

 then later you get some rape/revenge potboilers (ACT OF VENGEANCE, MS. 45, THEY CALL HER ONE EYE) Some sci-fi (STARCRASH and DARK STAR)

 a group of sexy 3-D flicks (Pete Walker's THREE DEMENSIONS OF GRETA, THE FLESH AND BLOOD SHOW - a movie that has a special place in my heart - PANORAMA BLUE, THE LOLLIPOP GIRLS), there is even a rather disturbing mondo block for those who can stomach it with the movies SECRET AFRICA (this is probably the most freaky and unsettling trailer in the package), PORNOGRAPHY IN DENMARK and SHOCKING ASIA

 You wanna see a dog trying to eat it's own tail? You got it. You want to see Sylvester Stallone dancing nekkid and trying to lie about his porno past? You got it. You wanna see full grown mushroom people? Yep they are here. Scott Baio and Patrick Swayze on roller skates in spandex? Oh yeah that shit is here representing. (And with no Scott Baio religious anti-Homosexual tweets to get in your way of enjoying it either!)

 One thing as a long time fan you may be asking yourself is "why should I buy this if I have bought all the previous DVD collections?" A fair question. The answer is this. About a third of the trailers here have not appeared on the other dvd's, they are new to this collection. Also the dvd commentary By Michael Gingold, Chris Poggiali, and Edwin Samuelson, is new to this Blu-ray. While a lot of the information presented in the commentary is not new, they are covering a lot of the same trailers after all, plenty of what they have to say is new and is well worth listen. Hell, just to hear the guys get all indignant during the trailer for SALO 120 DAYS OF SODOM was enough to make me laugh out loud. So you make the call, but this is more than a welcome addition to any sleaze addict's blu ray collection. 

 Review © Andy Copp

Monday, June 4, 2012

It is never alright in the end...

Two Perfect Endings of Films Where Things Don't End Well...

(this blog entry obviously is all about spoilers, so unless you have seen these two movies, or don't mind know how they end, you may not want to go any further).

Lots of movies have happy endings. Lots of movies have endings that wrap everything up nicely, bending over backwards to make sure things work out in the end. Most commonly teen films and love stories want you to walk out of the theater laughing and feeling good about life, so they don't end on a sour note. But how often does life turn around and fuck you up? Tearing your dreams down off the pedestal and pummeling your heart? Granted that is not the kind of movie that makes millions at the box office, but that IS the kind of movie that often resonates with people as years go by. In the last six months I saw two movies for the first time, that now sit among the most honest movies about relationships, love and heartache I can say I have ever seen. One, a recent film, that made my top ten films of last year, that I have honestly become more than a little obsessed with. The other an 80's teen sex comedy, that is more subversive than people will ever have you believe, a film that slipped under my radar for years. Both films have impactful endings that leave you shattered.

Bellflower tells the story of a young man who falls hard for a girl, as he and his best friend spend most of their time obsessing on MAD MAX, building a flame thrower and a giant muscle care they call Medusa. When the relationship goes bad his world collapses into a personal apocalypse that he cannot find his way out of, leaving a trail of wreckage in the wake, some of which may or may not be in his head.

The film is an intense visual experience that captures that extreme feeling of heartbreak. That "in the trenches" feeling one gets where nothing feels like it will ever be ok, where your insides feel broken, and you grasp at anything to make you feel whole again. This usually happens to people in their late mid to late twenties (though not always) and BELLFLOWER captures it so perfectly that it is almost a horror film to watch for anyone who has ever loved that deeply and lost that hard.

The end scene, finds the two best friends fantasizing about hitting the open road in the car they have build to escape the hurt. His best friend waxing philosophical about how their hero from THE ROAD WARRIOR would never allow women to destroy him the way their hearts are broken now. The final lines of the movie wrapping up not only the movie, but exactly how anyone who has lost someone feels.

Loosely based on the Isrealie import series of films called LEMON POPSICLE this on the surface appears to be yet another tits and ass, young boys attempt to get laid comedy. And at times that is all it is as three teen friends go about their last year of high school with various misadventures doing just that. But the lead young man is the main thrust of the story as we follow how he has fallen in love with the pretty new girl in school but never quite makes it work in catching her. Instead his Lothario, womanizing best friend hooks up with her instead. So he gets to watch throughout the film as his buddy makes time with her AND continues to bang all the woman in the various wacky hijinx they get into. Our hero never really makes good in getting laid, either backing out, or it goes really, really wrong such as he and all his buddies get crabs from the nasty hooker they all finally do bed down with. Sex never works out for him at all. When his friend finally does crack the panty line of his one true love she ends up pregnant and naturally he dumps her. Our hero swoops in and in an act of insane chivalry, not only gets her an abortion, but takes care of her for a week. Taking her in while everyone is away on a ski trip. They end up playing house, have sex and he thinks - falling in love. It seems like his world is where it should be and everything he hoped for is right where he wants. He even buys her a ring. Leading to the ending, one of the most emotionally heart ripping, endings of the 80's.  

It is the most honest ending of any teen movie of the era. You can have your John Hughes movies (as good as many of them are). THIS is how life often is. The good guy finishes not only last, but driving into the night with his heart shattered, his guts splattered and not way to know if he will ever be ok again. 

Both these movies have the heroes riding off into the unknown, questioning. Life is like that. Sometimes it is comforting for the viewer to know movies can be like that too.  

© Andrew Copp