Saturday, 18 April 2009

Cannibal Apocalypse DVD review

I’ve been reading up on the greats (and the not-so-greats) of the cannibal and zombie subgenres of horror, and this film kept getting mentioned, so I thought I should check it out. Thank (Insert deity) here for HMV sales. The version I bought is the uncut edition of this insane 1981 film. The film was banned for a few years, and it is easy to see why when watching it. John Saxon takes the lead over a cast that has a couple of other decent performers in it, but Mr Saxon is far and away the best thing about the film. The idea of the movie is nice and different- cannibals let loose on city streets, instead of in the jungle. The cause of this cannibalism is a rabies-like virus that makes whoever is infected with it crave meat. A group of Vietnam veterans had brought the virus over from their ordeal in the war, and while John Saxon’s character is (almost) okay, his two buddies ended up locked up in an institution.

His former friends escape, and the mayhem begins. This is a very different approach to a horror film, and while there is gore galore, the film seems a whole lot more serious than its genre would normally allow. There are some interesting ideas on show here, handled pretty well by director Antonio Margheriti, but the film is let down by a number of atrocious actors delivering rather suspect dialogue. The action is nicely staged and well shot, and the splatter effects are suitably horrific, but it is the concept itself that raises this above your average horror fare. It’s just a shame the cast is so terrible aside from Saxon!

The most interesting scene, for me anyway, was the shootout in the deserted supermarket, between one demented cannibal and a group of bikers he has started offing following a chilling incident in a cinema. This scene alone was worth the paltry sum I paid for the film. The soundtrack is another matter. It is so utterly wrong for most of the film that it is almost comedic. Funky disco beats accompany extreme, brutal violence, resulting in a very odd viewing experience.

The transfer is crisp and clean considering the age of the film and the original materials it was created with. The sound is a dull mono mix but I couldn’t really expect anything else. There are some fascinating extras on offer though, with a 54 minute documentary on the movie, trailers, filmographies, a tour of the locations, and a short feature on the film’s notorious edits that were made in the era of the video nasty. It is nasty indeed, but it is the ideas that are more horrific than the action itself. Certainly a film that is probably only enjoyed by sadistic horror diehards, Cannibal Apocalypse (despite its misleading title- what apocalypse?) is an interesting entry in the horror pantheon that delivers on most of its hype.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Anvil! - The Story of Anvil: The film arrives in the US

So the marvellous documentary ANVIL! - The Story of Anvil is about to arrive on US screens. The film has been out in the UK for a while now, and I'd like to tell the people in the US that are wondering whether or not to see it that their tickets will be well worth the money. The film is wonderful, and there is a great deal to be enjoyed in it whether you're a metal fan or not. Lips and Robb are fast becoming heroes to many people through this film. Now that people are waking up to the band and their music, the dream that is fought so hard for during the film is coming true. By going to see it, you are actively helping to create a new ending for the film- you are making the dreams of these people come true. In all honesty, it is deserved.

I've seen the film twice on the big screen, bought the CD (the one you see made in the movie) from the band and even bought the book, for the simple reason that by the end of the film you are genuinely on the side of the band. I felt compelled to help out and show my appreciation the easiest way- by checking out more of the story and the music itself. I wasn't disappointed. The album 'This is Thirteen' is an excellent album of no-frills, old school heavy metal, evoking the classics. The reason is evokes the genre's classics is because these guys were one of the bands that created the genre we love in the first place.

The book tells the full story of the band's early years up to the present day, and the voices of Robb and Lips are plainly audible when you read it. I recommend you see the film first, then buy the book, as it really works well as a companion piece. Some of the asides in the book are unforgettable, and the whole thing is very much on a par with the film itself. The two items work so well together.

I truly, honestly hope that the Anvil movie opens up new avenues for the band. As a fan of rock and metal, the film is enlightening and fun, but that goes for anyone as a general viewer too. In my capacity as a journalist for a national rock magazine I get to interview musicians and review their albums, but seeing this film has opened my mind to the concept of rock stars being normal people even further than it already was. These two guys are genuinely likeable, their story is equal parts hilarious and compelling, and it is honestly the most moving metal documentary I have ever seen. Please, please go and see it, and you'll realize that for once, the hype is for real.

Anvil's website
Anvil- The Story of Anvil movie site
Anvil- The Story of Anvil book site (UK)