Sunday, 13 December 2015

Mickey's Photoshop Corner of Love

A little while ago a friend from work, showed me some talents of his when it came to photoshop. He is a fan of craptacular cinema like myself. We would often talk a lot about movies, and what would like to see get awesome DVD and Blu Ray releases. One day at work we discussed at length 
at how funny it would be if 'Piranha II: The Spawning' were to be released as a Criterion Collection Blu Ray. What a change it would be from seeing the usual Wes Anderson films being released every few months. Just one hilariously bad film to be released as a Criterion would be great; we can dream right? Later that night I was sent Mickey's photoshopped cover, and what you see right now is the final product. What do you think? I still snicker like a mad man whenever I look at it.

Monday, 7 December 2015

Creed AKA Many Manly Tears

I have been a 'Rocky' fan since I can remember. As a little kid I just saw them as thrilling boxing movies with super scary villains like Clubber Lang and Ivan Drago. As I grew older I saw them as films of passion, determination, courage and above all, heart.  The 'Rocky' franchise, is more than just six films about an underdog boxer who came from nothing, this is a legacy. Stallone fought hard for his creation to be on the big screen, and he fought harder to not only write and star in these films, but he also fought to keep each film relevant to the time they were in.  Stallone has passed the reigns onto director Ryan Coogler, so can this man undertake a huge task of re-imagining an old franchise for the new generation? Let's take a look at it. 

It's no secret that Adonis Johnson is Apollo's son as a result of an extramarital affair. Adonis grows quite bitter in regards to his famous father, and wants to branch out into boxing on his own terms with a different name. From just knowing that, you can already feel the tension brewing inside of Adonis because he already feels he has enough to prove just by going into the ring, so you can imagine the heights he would have to reach if people knew he was Apollo's son; unfortunately his real name doesn't stay secret for long. Adonis approaches his father's famous adversary Rocky Balboa in the hopes he will train him. At first you see Rocky doesn't want to do this, but deep down he feels it's his obligation to steer him in the right direction. In the midst of all of the training and emotional weight that Adonis is carrying, he manages to find a little love, with his very sweet yet streetwise neighbour, Bianca. Seem's like despite a few things, it seems to be all going well, that soon changes. Rocky becomes very ill and you can see he just doesn't want to fight any more. He has been fighting his whole life, he fought the streets, getting Mickey to train him, the emotional and physical toll for losing Mickey, Apollo, Adrian and now Paulie, as well as the respect from his own son. But Adonis convinces him to keep on fighting, and side by side they keep on fighting together. And despite all of the emotional baggage that is coming with everything Adonis still keeps his focus on training for his title shot against world champion 'Pretty' Ricky Conlan.

Michael B. Jordan's performance was beyond anything I expected. I enjoyed watching the duality of his character, because even though he's very straight laced and a lot more humble than his father, you can see Apollo's determination to get what he wants but through Adonis; that was so lovely to see. His portrayal of Adonis showed a lot of heart, and it was brilliant seeing so much of that being brought up to the surface especially for such a newcomer in the acting biz. This thought alone, got me thinking if Michael. B Jordan can portray such vulnerability at this stage in his acting career through the first installment of what could be a 'Creed' franchise, then who knows what else he could bring to the table in his future career. 

Sylvester Stallone knocks it out of the park once again with his portrayal of Philadelphia's favourite son, Rocky Balboa. Whenever I watch Stallone as Rocky, it is so evident that this character really is his second skin, and his portrayal in 'Creed' was no exception. We see Rocky later in his life, he no longer has Paulie, his son has moved to Canada, and all he has is his restaurant and his daily visits to sit and talk to Paulie and Adrian in the local cemetery. For the first time since 'Rocky III' we see Rocky wanting to give it up, but this time it isn't his career, instead it's his life. As soon as I saw Rocky feeling so weak, all the memories started flooding back from the previous films; I was a blubbering mess. 

Even though I was crying like a big girl, I managed to wipe away those tears with my damp sleeve of my jacket, and fire up over the brutal fight scenes. In all my years of watching action and martial art films, I will say that the punches thrown in 'Creed' were some of the most painful looking punches I have seen ever being showed on screen. With each punch thrown, I could hear the film audience wince, and that was exactly what I wanted to hear. There aren't enough words that can convey the fight scenes, other than they will make your body erupt. 

'Creed' was a film that I was certain I was going to love, and I knew I would be sitting there crying for a lot of the film, but there was a part of me which was cautious. I just didn't want my favourite on-screen character of all time not get the right treatment, as this was going to be directed and written by someone new. But Ryan Coogler exceeded my expectations, he brought everything which was necessary to make this film truly wonderful. I sat there majority of the film crying, I was so overcome with emotion, and in so much disbelief that I was so lucky to witness such tender moments on film. 'Creed' possesses a lot of the same raw emotion and aura of the first two 'Rocky' films, this was something I thought I would never see again. For the fans of the 'Rocky' franchise you won't be disappointed, because sure it does cater to the generation however, it has a lot of nods to the older films, which will make you smile and may even make you cry. And for anyone asking, YES THERE IS A MONTAGE!!! I feel the montage is very different, but again has the classic elements which make a work-out montage epic, oh and trust me this one is epic. 

Watching 'Creed' was seeing everything that Rocky had previously experienced and endured come full circle and now it lives through Adonis. Rocky has fought, lived, loved, and lost, and the fans of his legacy have seen him go through that since 'Rocky' was first released in 1976. As lovers of the film and most of all Stallone's character creation, it's as if we have felt everything Rocky has endured. We have seen him when he felt like he was nothing, and that he couldn't achieve anything great, to becoming a champion. But it isn't just about that lovely gold belt around his waist that makes him a champion. He trained hard, not just physically but emotionally, mentally and psychologically. He found passion and love with Adrian, who always supported him and always kept him grounded no matter how tough the circumstances were. He had the courage to make that leap even though the odds were against him and there would be a big chance that he would fail. And most of all he had the heart to keep going, to keep fighting, to keep loving, despite everyone around him leaving. That is why he is a champion.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Action Movies: The Evolution Through My Eyes - Part I

Action movies take up a huge part of my mind, and something I do think about on a daily basis. I have grown up with this genre like a lot of other people, and it has heavily influenced my movie taste and my life. I think growing up I saw action a lot differently to a lot of people I knew, because when I was 10 I saw Stallone, Arnie, Lee, Lundgren as my GODS. Religion wasn't a big part of my life, I didn't really care or understand the teachings of Christianity, but I could tell you the moral of each one of Stallone's movies and how they could be used in every day life. Growing up as a girl and loving action movies made me a target for bullies because I wasn't into horses. The closest I had gotten to a horse was seeing the horses head in the bed scene from the 'Godfather'. Throughout primary and secondary schooling, these GODS of mine, really saved me and I found solace in their films. 'Enter the Dragon', 'Kickboxer', 'Rocky', 'Rambo', 'Predator', these films made me feel invincible, safe and most of all accepted and normal. Watching an array of action movies and it's sub-genres since I was a little kid made me see a clear film evolution It was an evolution of viewing and experiencing something so kick-ass, but for a long time I felt no one else understood the genre or loved it as much as I do. But now that I am an adult it is so awesome being able discuss and fire up over certain films and trade fun facts about the films and the genre with like-minded people .

Action is a genre which has heavily changed since it was first introduced to Hollywood's first action star, Douglas Fairbanks. Action films have come a long way, and have had many different stars who helped revitalise and define the genre on a whole new level which had never been done previously and has never been topped since. A lot of the success from certain action films and it's sub genre's are the films which paid close attention to the time they were produced; everything about them was relevant. There was an obvious decline in the late 90's because the genre was becoming stale and nothing new or exciting was being released. But now it is 2015 and the action movies are back, obviously they can never recapture the glory days of the 1980's to the mid 1990's but this is the closest they have been.

There are a lot of different sub genres of  Action which have come from different countries which have definitely influenced Hollywood and made them step up their game in terms of the films of they are producing. Action is a genre which has just been around forever, and there has been many successful franchises which have come out of it, and there has also been some major flops too. Action is a genre which critics and audiences alike are not as forgiving as the die-hard fans out there, which is a shame because it is a genre which knows exactly what it is, and it knows exactly what it want's to portray, but sometimes they are given so much money they don't know what to do with it, and then other times they barely have any money in their budget so the film doesn't appear slick, so critics do not notice the heart that it does have. Action is a genre where a lot of it's based on how it looks and if it has one liners which make you laugh, it isn't a genre you are supposed to take seriously. But having said that if action movies make you emotional, then I think that is pretty damn awesome that a film like that can push you to that level. I cried when I watched the first 'Expendables' movie, and you can judge me all you want, but when Mickey Rourke is telling you a tale of heartbreak and regret you need to shut the hell up and listen and feel the emotion in his voice.

I find it particularly interesting to see how far we have come with action movies, and where the genre is currently going. Just like now we have our certain stars like Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson and Jason Statham, the '60s and '70s consisted of Steve Mcqueen, Clint Eastwood, Charles Bronson and Gene Hackman. It was these guys which defined the cop/action films which were action-packed, brutal but also they had incredible stories. These films had it all. And they still stand up as classic actors to this day, and their films will never be forgotten. People may not see those kind of films as action movies but they are, action isn't just about explosions and guys with big muscles; that is just pop culture trying to influence you and make you think that. If you watch as many action films as die-hard fans like myself you will be able to see the early influences, and see how they are utilised in films today. But the '60s and '70s cop/action films were influenced by the 1940's and 1950's Westerns. Sure visually the films may not look anything alike, and the time in which they are set may be different, but the premise is still the same; Bad guy take's what isn't his, good guy has to take it back. I know that is a very general story, but underneath all the other elements that is put in the film, that is the underlying key of the film.

In my own opinion the 'real' action films didn't start until the Bond Saga began in 1962 with it's first entry into the series, 'Dr No'. James Bond has come along way, had many gadgets, women, adventures and fought a colourful and dangerous selection of  super-villains. I think it was the Bond films which proved to film makers, and writers that ANYTHING can be put on screen, it doesn't matter how unrealistic or unbelievable it is. The Bond films always moved with the times too, they were fresh and relevant. I mean sure Roger Moore may have overstayed his welcome a little bit in portraying Bond, but for a while he was so kick-ass.
There have been different actors portraying Bond and while some where more successful than others, there is one of them who is the most underrated of them all; T-Dalt AKA Timothy Dalton. It is a real shame that he was in only 2  Bond films as I would love to have seen his character go on a lot more adventures because he is a serious Bond who's violence you can really get behind. He also played by his own rules...and when it does come down to it, isn't that one of the prerequisites for being an action star? Sure the other Bonds did too, but T-Dalt was just uncompromising;I like that. And I will say it 'Licence to Kill' is in my top 5 Bond films. I find that the Bond films could be just as violent as any other action film, but I guess seeing a well dressed man with a lot of class and style makes it okay for him to blow up stuff but it makes it a joke if Stallone does it. It's a lot of the same narrow minded morons out there whp love the Bond movies but hate the action movies which show a lot more muscle and machine guns. At the end of the day their goal is still the same, so why not love both? 

While Bond after Bond film was being released in the '60s, a sub-genre of film was slowly coming to the surface - yeah that's right it was the 'dirty cop film'. 

Clint Eastwood has firmly established himself as a western actor; guys wanted to be him and women wanted to sleep with him, but I think his career became more relevant when he portrayed unorthodox cop Harry Callahan in the downright violent and brutal 'Dirty Harry'. I know I said T-Dalt played by his own rules in the Bond films, but it was Eastwood who rewrote the 'Playing by Ones Own Rules' syllabus. I think it was a huge gamble making this film, but the timing of it couldn't have been more perfect. Because the '60s was in my opinion a bland era for cinema, sure things were becoming a little more 'risqué', but it was a lot of drama filled movies with a tonne of talking and not much else. And while people were happy to watch the Bond movies and watch films starring John Wayne no matter how boring and stale they were becoming, 'Dirty Harry' just blew everyone out of the water in 1971. This isn't what the film world was expecting, however the '70s later proved it was indeed an intense and raw decade for film, and 'Dirty Harry' proved that it indeed was just that.  But Eastwood wasn't the only one having success with the dirty cop films, it was the unsung hero of Italian Spaghetti Westerns; Franco Nero. Nero is highly underrated and I have found that a lot of people have forgotten him, or haven't even bothered to see what he is about. He has had many successful westerns such as the original 'Django', 'Texas Adios' and my personal favourite 'Keoma'. I found Nero to be an incredibly intense actor, who has these eyes which would just draw you in, you could tell just by looking into his eyes, he had seen some shit, and each tragedy he had endured was pushed through in all of his characters whether they were Spaghetti Westerns or Italian Cop Films which are known as Poliziotteschi. His characters were often violent, but it was directed, not just violent for the sake of it. If you haven't seen any of his dirty cop films you definitely need to check out 'Street Law' and 'High Crime', trust me you won't regret it.  He is definitely one of the most grittiest action heroes that has being uncovered and I am so fortunate to have been able to see his movies, even if I had to stay up late on school night to watch them.

It was these 'dirty cop films' which eventually lead to a new breed of vigilante's in cinema, and they were spawned in the 'Revenge films' or also titled 'Rape Revenge Films'. A lot of people don't consider this a sub genre of action, but action is such a broad title. The 'revenge films' out there become categorised with exploitation and horror because of films like 'The Last House on the Left' and 'I Spit on Your Grave'.

I know there is a lot of people out there that do believe that revenge films are violent for the sake of being violent, in some cases that is true, and it's merely just for your entertainment, but I'd say 98% of the time the protagonist has a goal to seek justice in any means necessary, because if the law can't handle it....they will. Revenge films are not the typical action style that a lot of people typecast, so there isn't many explosions or men trying to kill Russian crime bosses before they take over the world. I find that the action and violence is very emotive whether it's conveyed through an intense  car chase, a deep stab or ten to the chest, or even several bullets to the head. Revenge flicks are often bastardized and seen as trash but there has been many great revenge flicks since 'Death Wish', such as 'Dead Man Shoes', 'Kill Bill', 'Inglourious Basterds' 'Hard Boiled', 'Get Carter', 'Harry Brown' and 'The Crow',  just to name a few. See revenge films can be still have a great story and still be violent, despite what a lot of people think, so give this sub genre some damn credit.

The '70s wouldn't be complete without the greatness that was Bruce Lee. While his career in films was tragically cut short, no one can deny his influence and how it still stands up today. Can you imagine the films he would have made if he was still alive?  Bruce Lee was in several films which still stand up today as some of the greatest martial arts seen on film, but the stand out one for me is 'Enter the Dragon'. That film is flawless in my eyes because it has it all. The script was simple, to the point and it wasn't lousy, and there was some decent acting in it with actual emotion behind it. And the fight choreography was spectacular. Martial arts films were a popular genre of the 1970's but and there was a lot of spoof martial art films, or ones with terrible dubbing but great martial arts sequences like 'Shaolin Drunken Monk' starring Gordon Liu. Obviously no one will be able to touch Bruce Lee in terms of skill and agility but we have had great martial artists since him who have put their stamp on the genre and made it their own such as Jackie Chan, Donnie Yen, Jet Li, Sonny Chiba, Gordon Liu, Tony Jaa and Iko Uwais  just to name a few.

Action films need to be given the credit and appreciation they deserve because they have earned their 'merit' badges just as much as the other genres. I know I talk a lot about action movies in my articles and in my twitter posts, but the thing is the action genre has been scathed by bitter critics and by audiences who don't believe in turning off their brain for a couple of hours and enjoying something that is so different from everything else. Action is a genre I will always fight for and I will always give it the exposure it deserves in as many articles as I can. What is so evident with action movies is the evolution, and seeing it spawn so many sub genres and go off into so many paths and avenues to create something so unique, that it will always have it's place and be remembered one way or another. 

Part II will be coming soon, trust me I will need a whole article to just dedicate it to the 1980's ,which were the golden era of the action genre. 

Monday, 13 July 2015

My Writing Guilt

I never want to be a 'vanilla' writer. It is something I have always said to myself. But I think for a brief period I was sitting on that cliff, just waiting to jump into the ocean that conveys the colours of beige, vanilla and grey. I never want to be bland. If writing is forced out of me to the point I am rushed into a deadline, I suddenly shut down like the T-900.  But do you know what annoys me more? The fact that when this bland article hits the internet and people praise me for it, I feel like a failure; I know I can do better. I have wrote a couple hundred articles here and there and it took me a long time to find my voice, and when I found it, I felt at peace with myself. But last year something got rocked within me. I felt my confidence in myself and my abilities just leave; I haven't fully recovered. At first I thought it was writers block, and maybe for a short time it was, but in the past year it has developed into more than that. I would feel physically ill trying to produce an article. If someone says to me "Jade, I need an article in an hour", I find it difficult. And I feel that a lot of people will think that just because I write, I can produce an article in a short span of time. I need the idea to stew, and I need my imagination to be conveyed through emotion, not through recycled words that I could find on any site reviewing the latest films. There was something that always stuck with me that someone had said, "How can you be a writer, if you don't write several articles a week". My emotions are not a factory that churns out the same repetitive bollocks just so you can be higher on the Google food chain.

 I have been plagued by so much guilt because I just felt I couldn't give my all. Writing about film didn't even seem to be about expressing my own personal experience, it was just about filling quota. I understand that for publications you do have to concentrate more on the technical aspects, which I do briefly explore, but there's a difference between what I do, and what these factory workers do; I explore human emotion, and experience. Watching a film, whether it's with friends or by yourself is an experience, not just a way to pass the time. It is about being more thorough with your film journey and finding things within yourself that you didn't think could exist. Film is learning about yourself, finding elements that you gravitate towards more, as well as opening new doors.

Anybody can be a film critic, and anybody can be a film lover, but I believe not everyone can write about film with raw emotion. In my eyes it all looks a little contrived. I have written for a couple of sites in the past, and have been told they 'own' my work and therefore can't use it on my own personal blog which is non-profit. No one owns my words. If I was being paid by any of these sites then I could understand. But we know it all comes down to site traffic. I am not saying that my work is amazing, because it isn't. But I believe my words are honest, and my thoughts are organic and mine alone. They are not glossy, fake and empty. Why does everyone strive to be the same? Why do people accept mediocrity as greatness? Just because a lot of writers express themselves in a way that reads like they swallowed the dictionary, it doesn't mean there is any more emotional credibility in what they are saying. When I read reviews, discussing aspects like cinematography it doesn't make me want to watch the movie, instead it turns me off it. But every now and again I will read a review that discusses ideas, passion and experience, and those are the elements I look for when I need film recommendations

 Bit by bit, I am trying to restore my confidence. I miss the days where I would take a week to write an article, and stay up late to make sure the finishing touches were just right.I miss being emotionally and physically exhausted when I put in everything I had into an article; I actually felt proud of myself and my work. I miss the process of dissecting scenes and gutting them of all their brutality, and rawness and conveying them with my words, I hope one day I can experience those processes again; it made me happy.

Video Nasties: A Misinformed Society

Banning films seems like a normal thing now doesn’t it?

Making cuts to certain scenes so the film is more socially accepted is an important part of distributing films to the big screen and to the DVD. But back in the 1980’s when VHS and the very short-lived Betamax was king, banning and making cuts to films were causing havoc in Britain. 

Watching a film on VHS in the comfort of your own home was convenient, and a brand new medium, so you can imagine the excitement surrounding this new film revolution. Independent video stores were all of a sudden popping up over night, and corner stores were making room to shelve the latest VHS releases. But suddenly this excitement, and the potential to make a lot of money, got shot down. Police, who had no idea what they were looking for, were seizing VHS, all because of mass hysteria, scare tactics by the government, religious groups and misinformed ‘journalists’. It was this lethal combination that destroyed businesses, peoples passions and the freedom for people to watch whatever the hell they wanted.

The year was 1982, the FIFA world cup was being held in Spain, ‘First Blood’ had been released and the term ‘Video Nasty’ had been pinned, and it wasn’t going away and so the scare tactics had begun. It was clear from the beginning that the police and government didn’t actually know what they were looking for, all they knew is that overly violent, bloody and sexual violent films needed to be banned even if they hadn’t even seen the films. Apparently the brief synopsis on the back of the VHS cover told them everything they needed to know. Ignorance sure is bliss right? There were a lot of low budget horror films that did make the grade and were able to be distributed but it was films like Driller Killer and the extremely controversial Cannibal Holocaust that set off the dinner bell for the hungry government sharks. The graphic VHS cover of Driller Killer is what started VHS stores getting seized of their products. Police were just raiding video stores in the hope they will find something that looks just as graphic, depraved and explicit. It was clearly way more important to stop entertainment rather than try and find real life depraved criminals. 

For a number of years the British people would were quite fearful that their own children were going to end up as depraved as the serial killer Yorkshire Ripper if they somehow managed to obtain a film like Driller Killer.  When you went to the cinema, there were classifications, which obviously didn’t let minors into films, which were deemed inappropriate, sounds normal right? Well if a six year old walked into a video store and picked up a copy of Snuff, do you really think a grown up sales assistant is going to sell the kid a copy of it to rent?  Don’t you think it would be a little stupid of them to do so especially since law enforcement and the government were cracking down on video stores for possessing certain films?

It’s obvious that kids at times were going to have a video nasty in their possession however, do you think maybe that is the result of an older person obtaining a copy; like an older brother or maybe even a PARENT!

After the government cracked down on video stores selling video nasties, many of these stores had these films hidden behind the counter in brown paper bags or blank VHS cases, so unless these young kids knew exactly what they were looking for, something tells me these films were not ‘Raping our children’s minds’; to quote The Daily Mail in 1983. It’s scare tactics and terrible journalism like that, which instils fear into the public. Can you just imagine the meeting in the boardroom at the Daily Mail? The conversation would have sounded something like this;

“Okay what is one way we can get more readers,  and make more money?  Well, the public hate rape, and they hate anything bad happening to children, oh I got it, we will make them think that video nasties that hardly any children have obtained are raping their minds…oh and we need to put it in bold lettering, really bold lettering, because if we don’t how will the British public know that we are serious?” 

That kind of ‘journalism’ is absolutely disgusting. For a kick off, most of them hadn’t even seen past the first few minutes of a video nasty film, and probably wouldn’t know how to react if they did see one it’s in entirety. 

Another issue in all of this is something that needs to be brought up; did any of the law enforcement, government, religious groups and so called journalists actually understand that these were just films? Did they notice that they were just entertainment? Did they notice that there were people getting paid to act? And more importantly did they understand that the world had been on a cultural revolution in the last 30 years years with the civil rights movement, the Vietnam war, the corruption surrounding numerous governments and because of that people were more freely saying ‘Fuck you’, because they just had enough? How did that go unnoticed? Why weren’t anthropologists, and psychologists brought in to tell the world,

“Shit thing’s have changed, people don’t want something clean cut and glossy anymore, they want honesty, brutality and overall imagination”.

 It doesn’t take a film historian to know that when the times change, so does people’s creativity. Take a look at the music industry and how that dramatically changed generations and it made people socially aware of what political figures were spoon-feeding them. Elvis Presley was originally seen as the spawn of Satan with his gyrating hips, but the world mourned when he died. And it’s the same now with film, although it’s a little bit more selective. Depraved films can be socially accepted IF it is done in an artistic way. To be more blunt, if you have really great camera work and a foreign director attached to the piece, then it’s accepted.

Why was cracking down on these films so important? What was achieved in all of this? There is no clear indication on why 72 films were put on the infamous ‘Video Nasties List’, but what is a definite is that all these different groups came together for what they told the British public was a common good; but really it was all because they wanted to distract everyone from what was really going on in their own backyard. And the one thing that they knew they could do is create mass hysteria by faking statistics and scaring parents into believing that their children were all going to be serial killers and rapists.

Films do not make people want to go out and commit heinous crimes. If someone is psychologically unwell chances are they were going to commit a violent act without a films influence. No one ever bothers to look at criminal’s surroundings. Did they ever think to look at the parents? When you see neglectful parents wondering why their kids are acting up or going astray why do they feel they need to blame society and the media? No one in entertainment should be a role model, because they aren’t. And no one should take a film seriously and act on it, because if they do, it proves they were mentally ill to begin with and have actually lost touch of reality.  Blaming entertainment for all societies wrong doings is a cop out, and people that do all the finger pointing are complacent humans with no real insight to anything that goes on outside their brain. So when a genre of film like horror and exploitation invades their mind they don’t know how to handle it or how to understand it, so what do they do? Try and destroy it.

For anyone who doesn’t know my film taste or passion, I shall give you an insight into my feelings on the video nasties. I was exposed to violent, gory and intense films very young, and they were not necessarily of the horror and exploitation genre, they were dramas. I saw films I shouldn’t but my parents were far stricter in other areas. I rented VHS weekly and sometimes I loved the trailers before and after the movies that were on the tapes, and through that I remember finding new films that way. But these films were more of the gory type. And as I got older I was able to cross off a video nasty off that list one by one.

With each viewing I became more and more desensitised to what I watched, and while as I have gotten older and become a little more shut off emotionally, when I watch these films, I become more alive. Does that sound sick? Maybe to people who don’t know me, but they made me feel alive because of the imagination, the creativity, the storylines and of course the practical FX. All those elements combined together create something so wonderful, which nothing could ever compare to. The video nasty films were made in a time, which needed them to be made, because they were relevant to our time. It’s the horror and exploitation genres, which dared to show what sometimes we think about deep down. You would be a liar if you hadn’t have wondered what it would feel like to hurt someone who hurt you. As I have gotten older and watched more of these kinds of films, I have noticed a lot of these films have hidden messages in them. Sure some are just revenge films with a tonne of blood and guts and depravity. But there are some that really sit with you and get you thinking.

I wrote an article on Cannibal Holocaust, and I stated how the message of the film are that we are the real savages. After doing a lot of intense research on the video nasties, I think that message applies. I read so many newspaper articles and was sickened by the lack of journalism, knowledge and lack of care that these people had on the issues. There was a quote from The Daily Mail, which stuck with me that stated this “How many more women will be savaged and defiled by youths weaned on a diet of rape videos”. – And to that I say, how many more women will be savaged and defiled in the armed forces by men in high ranks, and when it’s reported nothing is done?  And to that I also say how many more young women will be a victim to this new rape culture where everything is posted online, and there is no justice for the victim when the rape is blatant and there in black and white for the whole world to see?

Violence, gore and sexual depravity happened a long time before films were ever made. Does anyone remember hearing about Elizabeth Bathory? Pretty sure she was bathing in virgin’s blood before a similar tactic was used in Hostel Part II. Films are not to blame for every crime ever committed, history is; film takes from history and the time it is currently in. All the groups who had it in for the video nasties didn’t understand what those films were trying to do, so they tried to destroy them and make sure people would never remember them. They remind me of the documentary crew in Cannibal Holocaust; they were taking what wasn’t theirs and doing what they wanted with them. Never mind article headlines like ‘Raping our Children’s minds’, because the minds that were getting raped were that of the misinformed British public.

What's in a Top 10 List?

What is in a top 10 list? Have you read those Empire Magazine lists of top 100 films of all time which keep getting recycled every few years? Did you agree with what was chosen? Or perhaps you may have bought those 1001 Films to See Before You Die books? Either way I am sure you film buffs out there are familiar with them. Do you agree with these lists? Or do you think maybe it's time certain publications branched out a little bit and thought outside the box? I have always been very intrigued by what film journalists categorise as 'the best' films. What does it take to be the best?

I used to buy into this notion that Empire Magazine was right and everything they said was gospel. But hey I was 18 and I thought I knew everything, I had no idea. I can't even count the lists I have read where Shawshank RedemptionGodfather Part IICitizen Kane or Star Wars have topped the list; but I am done with accepting this. Sure those films are all wonderfully crafted, no doubt. But I truly believe these lists are making people believe these films are the be all and end all of film, and they just aren't. You can view films in so many different ways, and your current mood can definitely affect how you view them too, but even so, you don't have to agree with the majority. I am not saying be different for the sake of it, but if you genuinely believe there are better films out there, then you should be able to speak your mind without being chastised for it.

At my current place of work, my partner, myself and one of our regulars discuss film quite frequently. The other night we decided to discuss what would be in our top 50. I wasn't entirely surprised by his top 50 list which consisted of a lot of Christopher Nolan, and Cohen Bros films. But as I read my top 50 I could feel a weird energy. A lot of what I had wrote was B Grade, some of which they knew, and some they didn't. As I read certain titles such as Breakin' and Masters of the Universe, I could hear slight giggles as if my list was a bit of a joke. Afterwards I explained my choices. To sum it up; movies are an experience, and if you can quote a film and every time you watch it you get the same excitement and if it makes you feel something then that should be a film considered in your own personal list. I can appreciate well made film, with beautiful cinematography however just because a film is well shot doesn't mean it's my favourite.

No one should ever be ashamed to say that they like a film just because everyone else see's it as a joke. I really dislike people who say things such as "I will only watch a film such as Sharknado to be ironic"; fuck you. And for the record I have heard someone say that to me. Those are the types of film fence sitters that I dislike. They bend the rules to suit them because they don't want to 'lose face' in front of their so called cultured friends; but deep down, they enjoy these films. There is nothing wrong with liking or even loving B grade. Why do we all want to be cultured?

This entry isn't meant to chastise people who love critically acclaimed films, all I am saying, don't fall for the bullshit lists that are made. If you were to google top 50, top 100, top 500 lists from publications, I can guarantee you will find the same recycled titles in each list. Film buffs take hold of your own film journey, watch what you want to watch and don't be ashamed to rate that B grade title a 10. Life is too short to watch films purely based on what some film journalists wanked over, and thought everyone else would too.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Do Snuff Films exist?: Beginner's Research

Do snuff films exist? Or are we being duped by an urban legend told by your weird neighbour who live's in his mum's basement until he's 40? For the past year I have been slowly working on an article on whether these films exist or not. While I know I may never get a conclusive answer the subject matter alone intrigues me. Do I want snuff films to exist? NO! But would I be surprised if they did? Not at all. Why? Because I don't trust human nature. As time passes we are becoming more evolved and with time we learn from our mistakes. And I partially believe that if snuff films do exist these people making them and distributing them definitely do not want to make any mistakes in being caught. The subject matter alone is alluring. Part of me wants to know if this is more than just an Urban Legend but at the same time, I feel if there was conclusive evidence that they do exist then knowing the answer will obviously take away that 'mysticism'.

As a horror buff, I am a huge fan of practical FX in films, and respect how authentic they look, but what if you watched something that looked just a little too real? That happened when actor Charlie Sheen saw the film Guinea Pig 2: The Flower of Flesh and Blood and contacted the FBI. If you love gore and practical FX, I definitely recommend it. Sure the film is very full on however, it definitely paved the way for the next generation of gore. I have been desensitized to violence from a young age, but as I got into my late teens I needed something with a bit more of an edge to it. I discovered the August Underground series; again this was something that at one point was considered 'real'. It wasn't. But even still the violence was definitely amped up, and the low budget slapped with a grimy texture,gave me something that I was looking for at the time. I really enjoyed these films, but I found I was enjoying them just that little too much, and from then on I started to think about how far some people would go to not just entertain but also getting their own gratification from this. As soon as those thoughts started circulating in my mind constantly, that allowed me to step back from these kinda of films and I could cut myself off emotionally and just see them as visuals and that's it. I believe that was probably the safest option for me, because who know's what else I could be into by now?

You can view all different levels and kinds of violence, but I think you have a reason to watch those different levels too. Sometimes it's just to shut your mind off, sometimes you love nothing better than seeing a villain getting their karma, or further up on the scale, it gets you off. Yes that's exactly what I mean. I don't just mean degrading sexual acts against another person, I literally mean seeing someone being flayed can turn you on. I know that is an extreme example, but hey I am not exactly subtle. Some people will agree with me, and people won't. And for the people who don't let me try to explain my point. We live in a world of serial killers, prolific ones at that, who can also be narcissists. I believe in their eyes the crime isn't about the victim, it's about them and their needs; What can they get from hurting someone so violently? Gratification. It's a thrill, a buzz, a need. And believe it or not, we ALL have needs, we all crave that thrill, however majority of folks tend to channel that idea into something a lot more positive; and we never cross THAT line. But the minority do cross that line, and if people can hurt someone violently, then who's to say it's not caught on camera, and then distributed to the rest of the minority out there?

After writing a couple of articles on Cannibal Holocaust, Video Nasties and I Spit on Your Grave, I became fascinated with the notion that the general public actually thought cinematic distributed films were snuff films. That actually makes me laugh a little. If you really think about it, it even sounds somewhat backwards. You have a film being distributed to mainstream cinemas, as well as independents, which have credits to everyone who worked on the film. These people who have created a piece of cinema are not going to kill people on screen and put their careers in jeopardy, and likely be jailed for life for one movie. The idea is absurd, but the world was in a state of moral panic in the 70s and 80s. Exploitation and Mondo cinema were on the rise, you had films which depicted very graphic and at times very realistic looking acts of depravity and the term serial killer was used at an all time high, especially in the US. It was some of these elements which had already drilled into people's minds that everyone that watches a horror film is going to be a serial killer or rapist. The general public had definitely made their mind up about that. In the UK the film classification board were banning films as fast as they could catch actual criminals. I guess they had to look like they doing something, right? Films were being banned purely on the basis of the cover, and video stores were seized. It makes you wonder why films were being smuggled from other places in Europe and brought into the UK, and then an underground movement was being started. Fanzine's were started for VHS collectors, which specialised in swapping films with other collectors, which were banned. Sure some people were caught doing this, and their homes were raided, and VHS were confiscated and usually destroyed in an incinerator.

It's established that more violent and obscene films were being brought in from Europe; that has been proven. Now this where we level up. A film which depicted bestiality was smuggled from Europe into the UK, that film was called Animal Farm. In case you are wondering bestiality is a form of pornographic material which includes sexual acts performed with animals. Porn has always been smuggled into different corners of the globe, but the fact that something on a much perverted level found an audience which probably sickened most, you can guarantee a small portion found it arousing. They say different strokes for different folks, but you have to wonder where do you draw that line?

Love and Film

Could you be in a serious relationship with someone who isn't passionate about film the way you are? Okay film buffs, we have all been there right? We have dated someone who may not be into films as much as ourselves, and deep down we have thought we could change them...Or is it just me?

I remember there was a time where I just had met the best people of my life...and yes they are still in my life, they are my best friends and my god they have the most amazing and eclectic taste of films I have ever seen. With these friends we participated in movie nights together, which is something I had never done with a group of friends before. We relished sitting there for about 8 hours, drinking cherry coke, eating pizza and watching terrible films...okay terrible isn't the best word...SHIT,..yep beyond SHIT, that it so painful to watch. You know the kind where at first you are laughing at how bad it is, but soon the bad acting and shoddy dialogue starts to wear thin pretty damn quickly. Anyways I was so happy that I could finally share my love from craptacular films with my best friends, but I won't lie I felt like I was being held back just a my boyfriend at the time. To this day I am still not sure why I stayed with him for two years especially after he broke many cardinal rules.

Cardinal Rule #1 - Do NOT fall asleep in the opening credits to Rocky II
Cardinal Rule #2 - Do NOT badmouth Kickboxer...EVER
Cardinal Rule #3 - Do NOT sit on your phone playing games all night when invited to a friends house
Cardinal Rule #4 - Do NOT badmouth my taste in film when you haven't even seen ANYTHING
Cardinal Rule #5 - Do NOT call my friends weird for liking the films that they do

These were just a few of the rules that were broken by my ex-boyfriend. Okay, they weren't really rules, more just things he did which pissed me off. Anyways you get the idea. Have you ever wanted to share a film that was really important to you, something that influenced who you are, to someone you thought could appreciate it too? But then they would just piss on it and make you feel like a complete idiot for loving it? Yeah that happened to me. It's definitely my fault for choosing this person, because hey we have all been with dip-shits because we were young and didn't know any better. But once I had gone through that I made sure that the next man in my life is as passionate about film as I am...and guess what, he is!

The man I am currently with is in love with films, just as much as me. Sure we both have very different tastes in some ways, but in other ways we love the same things too. He respects my love for Shaw Bros, Exploitation and just B-Grade kick-assery, and I respect his love for bigger blockbusters and Science Fiction. We make compromises and it works. There are many reasons I fell in love with this fine specimen, most of which are between he and I, however I will share a story which I think film buffs may find somewhat endearing.

About a year ago, he stayed over for the very first time - Get your mind out of the gutter, it wasn't like that. Anyways the next morning we were laying in bed just talking about movies, and just overall talking crap and then he said these words; "What's your malfunction Rico?" And the thoughts in my brain went a little something like this; "Holy shit, he just quoted Starship Troopers, I heard that correctly yes? Okay Jade play it cool, do not let him know you find it a turn on when a man quotes movies". Needless to say I eventually fell in love with this wonderful man, but it was that quote that got the ball rolling.  As time went on I found out he had seen some of the same documentaries as me, and no one I knew had seen them, which were awesome for conversation starters which would lead into deeper discussions. Film has been a big part of our relationship, and definitely opened up a part of us to one another. I know people say that you don't have to have the same interests for a relationship to work, but I am not sure if i believe that. I think whatever the interest is, you can definitely grow a big portion of your love around that and the most amazing thing is you can both feed off that passion that you have.

The main point of this little entry is that I hope all you film buffs out there find someone who will watch your favourite film with you and try to love it as much as you. I also hope you can experience films together which make you laugh, make you cry, or even fire you up. You all deserve that, and no partner should ever make you feel weird or abnormal for loving what you do. Watching films could be compared to being in a relationship. We all go through a lot of things, both good and bad, and we also watch films,  again both good and bad, and a special kind of person will get you through those bad times just like they will sit with you until the end of a bad film. I am not the best at expressing love, so this is as romantic as I can get while explaining what I think it is...Love and film go together, you just need that person who also understands that.

The way I look at it my partner is my idea of the perfect film. My perfect film contains passion, humour, depth, charisma, action and love; and the best part is, I get to watch it every damn day!

Thursday, 30 April 2015

I Love Film

I have constantly been searching for my flavour of film since I was a little girl. I remember staying up late, and getting up in the wee hours of the morning to watch something I had read about in the TV guide. My family aren't the biggest film buffs, but they have always liked watching films and my parents encouraged my siblings and myself to watch them. Besides overdosing on my daily fix of Disney films and The Simpsons, my main interest was basking is the violent glow of action and martial art films. I have an older brother, who was into these films, and just by default I ended up having to watch what he picked. I grew up idolising people like Sylvester Stallone, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Bruce Lee, and the small amount of friends that I did have, really didn't understand why. After watching films like Bloodsport, I would go to school the following day and try to encourage the kids to 'play Bloodsport' with me. I would try and excite the other kids by quoting lines from the film, and they looked at me and made me feel even more stupid and left out than they already previously had.

Moving from suburb to suburb, I was never far from a local video store. It was definitely the first thing I scoped out to find rather than finding new friends. Videos were my friends. All those bright colours on the VHS covers always brought so much intrigue into my mind, and I would try to imagine the plot inside of my head. Whenever I went to the video store with my mum I would always try to take advantage of the fact that she was there so I could rent something violent. I can just imagine my mum walking to the counter now, just picture the scene for a moment. Mama Jade would be waiting for her two eldest children to come to decision on what films to pick, and then suddenly her middle child Jade would come up to her holding up Alice in Wonderland, Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, Best of the Best, Mortal Kombat and Kickboxer. Mama Jade's reaction would be a sigh because she knew her daughter picked Kickboxer the previous week and then she would say "Jade do you really need to watch it again?" Her daughter would just nod excitedly. As Mama Jade paid at the counter you could see she was going to have a hard time to make her daughter more feminine but at the same time you could see she appreciated her individuality.

You may be thinking that this really didn't happen, but this was a weekly occurrence when I was a child. Videos were really my life. Sure, I went outside to play with kids, but some instance would occur where I was left out, laughed at, picked on because I was 'weird'. Some days I would come in crying because I felt so left out and I was so tired from being called names for liking what I liked. But as soon as I sat in front of the TV and turned on my cheer up film which was the He-Man and She-Ra animated film, Secret of the Sword, I was instantly happy. This was a technique I still use to this day, but I have replaced Secret of the Sword with Enter the Dragon.

I often think back to my journey through watching and experiencing film, and it definitely has taken me to some awesome places within my own mind. I felt emotions I hadn't felt before around actual people. You may think that is being disconnected, and in a way I definitely can be, but seeing an idea, or a dream being portrayed on screen is something I have always felt easier to trust than someone's words. And for years I felt no one could even relate to how I felt about film, and I didn't meet anyone who got excited about the same things I did until a few years ago.

I went through childhood, my teenage years and my early 20's not having anyone to relate to, I felt like an alien. I have been in many different groups of friends, and it hasn't been until now, where I have a small but the best group of friends I could ever ask for. These are the type of people who are not judgemental if you haven't seen a particular film or if you don't like a film that they adore. At the end of the day, they are film lovers, they embrace films for what they are, and enjoy them for what they try to convey. Sure we vent about films we don't like, but more often than not, we sit around in a comfy lounge room, with a TV on and just embrace whatever we see on screen, no matter how bad it is. While we do appreciate well made films, we cant help but love the films out there that get lost in leaky basements, or that get sold off at closing down video stores or lovely remastered DVD's and Blu Rays that Arrow Video distribute.

When I watch film, I couldn't care less about camera angles, lighting or any of the real technical aspects. All I want when I watch a film is an experience, a memory, an emotion. If bad dubbing on a forgotten martial arts film makes me laugh then it's done it's job. If an unknown horror film astounds me by it's practical FX and countless cameos from actors before they were famous, then it's done it's job. If a film makes me CONNECT, then it's done it's job. I don't care about plot holes, I don't care if a film wins awards, I don't care if everyone hates the film, but I like it. That is irrelevant. I often wonder if people are actually embarrassed to like the films they do, and just hide their favourite films under the floorboards, because why would anyone want their friends to see their copy of Sharknado sitting proudly on the shelf?

I love film, I love discussing it and I love quoting it. And age at 27 I refuse to be told that I am 'weird' because of my passion. I believe if we embraced peoples passions instead of cutting them down for it on a daily basis, we would actually be able to understand each other a lot better.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

The Raid 2(2014)

I hadn’t felt this sudden change in my life for a long time. My whole body had just shifted, and altered in a way I hadn’t felt to this extent. Everything I had previously known about action and martial art films had been changed. The process in which films could be made was seen in a completely different light. A new benchmark had now officially been set in my mind after I saw The Raid 2, a benchmark which is going to be very hard to match or even beat. I saw all the trailers leading up to The Raid 2 and thought to myself “This is going to be all kinds of violent I cannot believe what I am seeing in the trailers”, but nothing prepared me for what I was about to encounter.
Rama played by Iko Uwais, is back and this time he is going undercover to bring down a corrupt Indonesian crime syndicate all the while maintaining his silence but letting his martial art skills do all the talking. The narrative is very easy to follow, and while all the characters in The Raid 2 are all connected one way or another, it flows perfectly. If you have only seen it the once and find that the there are too many sub plots within in the film, I recommend seeing it again and this time focusing more on the plot instead of the action. Every scene, character and every sub plot NEEDS to be in there, everything has to connect. This is a lot different to the previous film because while the first was also outstanding, and did have a strong plot, there really wasn’t much room for character development because everyone was getting killed off at a rapid pace and the narrative could only go so far in an apartment building. Whereas The Raid 2 gets to branch out in terms of setting, plot and emotion.
 As an audience member you really get to understand the frustration, anger and at times sadness that Rama has to bottle up inside himself to get the job done just so he can protect his family. This storyline has been done dozens of times but they have never made history like The Raid 2, and nor are they likely to. “Why”? you may ask? The emotion and depth that each character feels within themselves doesn’t just come out of their mouth with dialogue, it is in their body language, the tone of their voice, the intensity within their eyes; all their life experiences that make them who they are. When watching this film, you could look at every character and analyse them to great extent and just take an educated guess of what each of them are gone through. You may be reading this and think that is total bullshit because The Raid 2 would have to be longer than it’s 150 minute running time; but it doesn’t have to be. This is what great story telling is about, this is what a lot of action films lack, but that doesn’t make them any less enjoyable. But The Raid 2 is on a different level and I think to really appreciate it’s impact you really need to let this film infiltrate your mind and you need to be heavily interested in the action genre.

The main star of the film Iko Uwais is flawless. He has made a big leap since the first film and it made the viewing experience all the more enjoyable when the camera was letting us into his mind and soul. After going through what he thought was hell in the first film, he has now a new level of maturity and experience under his belt which helps him in the long run with taking down the crime syndicate. You can see in his eyes that at times he is very conflicted with how to feel about everything in his ‘new life’ because while he wants to hate these guys, you can see he at times may genuinely enjoy their company. He feels the struggle of emotions, of what is right and wrong, but he will then remember WHY he is doing this and then it becomes clear he has to get back on the task at hand and bring them down.
The Raid 2 also managed to bring back Yayan Ruhian, who played Mad Dog in the first installment, but this time he is playing the brutal yet heartfelt character of Prakoso.  Prakoso is essentially a hit man who only kills to pay child support to his straight laced ex-wife. What I loved about Prakoso is the duality of his role. At one point he is this fast, vicious killer, who will attack on sight, and then at the flick of a switch he is a man with a caring nature and his only wish is to see his son. It was refreshing to see Ruhian take on this role in the way he did, because it was unlike his previous role as Mad Dog. Mad Dog was just an evil son-of-a-bitch, and seemed to lack emotional depth if it didn't include anger and hate.
I'm just going to interject something personal here because my reaction to this film was so visceral. With each passing moment, I was clenching the cinema seat and just staring intently at the screen, and I just couldn't look away. And just when I thought I had seen everything, I experienced the fight sequences…they were unreal. As an action and martial art fanatic I had always tried to imagine the next level, something I had never seen, and then The Raid 2 happened. Each fight sequence held my attention, it kept me enthralled, I was in awe and it made me so happy; I was squealing inside and out. The end fight sequence was just something I had never imagined. I felt as though I was giving my heart and mind to the character of Rama hoping he would get through the next few minutes in one piece. Both of these tremendous fighters had bodies which flowed like water, each move was more than just a move, it was a purpose, it was emotion, it was their lives. I didn’t see this as just violence that was there for entertainment, I saw it as something so much more vital and important that needed to be expressed. 
While The Raid 2 had a lot more exposure than the original, it is still a film franchise which is partially unknown to a lot of people, even to fans of the genre. They are several factors to that, one them being that these films are low budget compared to a lot of other martial art and action films; the bigger the budget does not always mean the better the film. The upside of these being of a lesser budget means that the cast, crew and film makers had to come together and really focus on making this have an impact on the genre as well as cinema as a whole. They are raw films that don't have that 'Hollywood Gloss' slapped all over it and it's stripped bare of anything that could take away any authenticity to the film; that is what I respect about Gareth Evans and The Raid. 
The Raid 2 is definitely rewriting pages in the action and martial arts history book, and is going to be remembered as a timeless piece of a cinema which paved the way for the next generation of film makers, actors and martial artists to come. It is also going to change lives and alter the way an audience looks at a film. It left me speechless, excited, happy and most of all complete. 

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

I Spit on Your Grave(1978)

Our culture is very desensitized to a lot of things these days, whether it’s practical FX that they see on screen or whether it’s real life horror. There are films which convey the real life horror; it’s as if we are truly experiencing them. It’s the real horror, which can be something far more scary and confronting than any slasher with a dumb teenager who trips up in the woods and BANG knife to the face!

While those films are extremely enjoyable, there are other films that are made, that need to bring an audience to their knees, to make them question what they just saw on screen and more importantly make them think and feel something. An audience needs to feel a certain emotion, maybe it’s unfamiliar or maybe what they are seeing on screen is something that resonates a real life experience which then connects with them on a whole different level; and this is why I Spit on Your Grave is such an important piece of cinema.

In 1978 the world was exposed to brutality and honesty with the release of I Spit on Your Grave. While no company would distribute it, it did manage to reach an audience at local Drive-Ins. But what made this film have the notoriety it has today are several things; the extremely misinformed film reviews, and of course being on the Video Nasties list. Having such a negative aura surrounding the film has been a blessing and a curse. While the bad press has made a lot of people just make up their minds on the film without seeing it, there are a group of people out there that chose to watch it with an open mind; some understood the narrative, and some didn’t. A lot of people have said that this film is pure trash, and that all it is doing is exploiting a very serious subject and ‘making fun’ of it. But again these narrow minded views could not be more wrong.

Here we have a writer named Jennifer who is from New York and all she wants to do is get away and go somewhere quiet where she can be inspired to write. But as she enters this secluded town, she is acquainted with several men, who just see her as a sexy plaything; they don’t see her as someone who has feelings. A little while passes and her good looks and sexuality haven’t left their mind, so they try to force their mentally challenged friend Matthew to rape her; he refuses.  One by one, they rape her, violate her, make her feel less than human, punish her for being beautiful, for being confident in herself and they punish her for being a woman. After two weeks of putting herself back together physically and emotionally she gets her revenge, in the only way they can understand; through sexuality and violence. I Spit on Your Grave is far more than just a revenge film, this is a film about how women are perceived in the eyes of horny men with depraved fantasies and no limits.

Camille Keaton’s portrayal of Jennifer was astounding. You see her character go on a roller-coaster ride of emotions, and everything is played so naturally. You couldn’t have just had any actress with a decent pair of breasts and a pretty face to play the role of Jennifer. This film needed an emotionally strong woman who could delve inside her psyche and bring forth that honest emotion that the audience could connect with; and Camille Keaton did just that.

In a lot of exploitation films of the 70s and 80s, the musical score was a big part of the film that would bring out emotion in the audience. However in I Spit on Your Grave, there is little to no music. Even the opening title sequence is without a score, but having zero music adds to the reality, it isn’t a distraction. The film’s director Meir Zarchi didn’t hide the fact that this film was going to be brutal, and he made the potential viewers of this film aware of what they were getting themselves into; so why try and disguise the honesty with an elaborate musical score?

You cannot talk about I Spit on Your Grave without mentioning the extremely graphic rape scenes, so as a woman here is my interpretation of what I saw and how it made me feel. There have been many films which have had such sick acts incorporated into them, some make you think the film is pure trash, some make you not believe the actors portrayal and others make you connect with it in one way or another. As a woman there are times where you will have that moment of feeling used, hurt, betrayed and violated and those feelings stick with you, they never leave. And obviously seeing a film that heavily focuses on rape can touch a nerve inside you. 

I Spit on Your Grave touched a nerve within me, but I could never turn the off the film. You see the rapes for what they are; you see them with little to no musical score so there’s no distraction. You see camera angles that reflect Jennifer’s pain, as well as the depraved look on her rapists face. You see the moments leading up to it, during, and the aftermath. You see a natural progression of what happens to a woman physically and emotionally and how she deals with this pain. I Spit on Your Grave is relevant to film history, not because it was banned, and not because it was controversial; it’s relevant because it’s honest. 

Sure it’s a revenge film and she gives the men what they rightfully deserve, but this isn’t just an exploitation film that degrades women and gives a male viewer something to masturbate over. What really got to me more than just the rape scenes themselves are the aftermath of what has happened to her. Seeing her crawl away, covered in dirt, cuts, bruises and blood and looking into those dead eyes, hit my emotions to the core and I even cried. They bestowed a depraved act on her because they saw her as a tease, a whore, something that is just empty with nothing to offer besides what was in between her legs, and because of that act she really does feel dead inside. When watching I Spit on Your Grave I feel hurt, I feel upset, and I feel disgusted that something so despicable can be done to another human being. But feeling those emotions doesn’t make me automatically write off the film and see it as negative. I see this film as a reality, I see what she has gone through and how her experience resonates my past. I connect with this and I am not ashamed to admit it.

To all the women and men reading this and are not convinced that this a credible film which involves more truth than you know, think about this. Imagine you are a confident person, you have talents, you are positive but you see life for what it is. Imagine having that kind of outlook on life and then have it come burning down to the ground, because someone stole a part of you that you don’t just freely give. Imagine someone pinning you down, spreading your legs and violating you, using you, seeing you as nothing, seeing you as a pathetic plaything who’s weak, seeing your body as something that they own, that they can control. Imagine someone’s sweat, their spit, their odor on you and no matter how many times you clean yourself up you still feel vile. Try closing your eyes when you sleep, and all you can see is that person, and in the silence of the night all you can hear is their heavy breathing. Imagine feeling so much hate, sadness, and just feeling like everything inside you is now rotten. This person you have no become because of brutal act is something that sticks with you, you cannot change who you become, but you see life in a whole different perspective.  Rape scenes in films have always divided an audience; some see them relevant to the plot while others don’t. Some filmmakers add rape into their films because they want people talking about the film, which is the wrong attitude to have; they should want the audience to feel something about the film, there’s a difference.

Films like I Spit on Your Grave shouldn’t be banned because governments, religious groups and parents think this will influence kids and culture; films aren’t the root of all evil. Culture is already vile, because we have been feeding ourselves with toxic bullshit and with each day that passes we start to change our mind on all the things that are bad for us. And before you know it, it becomes more important to keep rapists out of jail rather than in jail, and the victims aren’t the victims anymore; they are just simply known as sluts. That is how society thinks. And now thanks to social media, and cameras on your mobile phone you can now HUMILIATE the victim and spread it online and you can get away with it, wow what a time to be a rapist! As a culture we have allowed this complacency and we have let it happen for so long, yet we act surprised by what is happening in the world, and since we are in denial we blame a notorious film for every single wrongdoing. If you want empty calories then by all means keep turning on your trash TV and become more and more soulless, but if you want truth then turn on a powerful film like I Spit on Your Grave, it might wake you up to your brain dead society. 

Cannibal Holocaust(1980)

In the late 1970’s and early 80’s, film-makers and audiences were becoming more socially aware. Feel good films and drawn out dramas were no longer appealing. The audiences out there needed something to wake them up, to shake up what was inside them, and to change how they feel about film. Under our layers of skin, we all have a curiosity to see and experience things we shouldn’t. Everybody wants new experiences, they want to feel something they haven’t felt before. Any film maker can just hurt the audience with harsh imagery. But it takes a genius to bring forth a strong message through vile and unthinkable images. And a message is what the audience received with Cannibal Holocaust, it’s just a pity most people still haven’t grasped that message since it’s initial release in 1980. Whenever Cannibal Holocaust is mentioned, more often than not the general response from people is discrediting the film purely because of the real life animal killings. Cannibal Holocaust should be a film where you remember the message and let it really sink in and stay with you.  

The film revolves around Harold, a university professor who’s aim is to try and find four documentary film makers alive in the Amazon. Does he find them? Oh he does…dead, of course. However, he does find reels of undeveloped film that belonged to the film makers, with the help of two locals. Harold goes back to America and develops the film and finds out the true fate of the film crew, but as you see more of the found footage you start to understand that this crew were victims of their own stupidity and arrogance. 

In the footage you will see the film crew terrorizing the cannibals, and essentially trying to play god so they can get a reaction from them for their documentary. When you see the first half of the film, you feel dirty, and disgusted that these supposedly innocent people were slaughtered by savages. But when you delve into the second half of the film your mind should drastically change and your sympathy will slowly disintegrate.  Cannibal Holocaust is so much more than violent and sadistic imagery, it has such a depth to it, but a lot people don’t bother to look under what they see; they prefer everything to be spoon fed to them. 

It is clear that this film is a mirror image of the humanity and how social and emotional complacency seems to give certain groups rights to violate whatever they can. However, people may ask “Why does it need to be so violent to expose that message?” That’s easy, as humans we are just overall complacent and nothing seems to shock us any more, that’s why in 1980 
Cannibal Holocaust brought the world to it’s knees because of the imagery. Having said that it is possible that society not only wanted it banned for it’s graphic material but also for it’s strong judgement on humanity.

Upon the initial release of Cannibal Holocaust, it’s director Rugerro Deodato was arrested because the film was genuinely depicted as a Snuff film by audiences. Deodato made the actors in the film go into hiding for a year while it was being released. It would make sense to have the actors disappear for a while, because it would take away the primal reaction and feelings that we are supposed to have for the film. It would be a distraction and also the film wouldn’t have been taken seriously enough, it would have just been seen as trash. But obviously with having the actors in hiding, the film was taken too seriously to the point Deodato was being charged with murder, so either way you couldn’t win. It’s a real shame that Deodato was forced to explain the secrets behind a lot of the practical FX, because sometimes it’s just more effective to the viewing process if you don’t know the secrets.

What is so beautiful about the film is the musical score. Throughout the film there are vile scenes depicted on the screen, but listening to this wonderfully scored music in the background of such violent images is just combined so perfectly. You may wonder why is such music orchestrated and placed in certain parts of the film where it seems so wrong. But the reason for that is to make you feel a little something different than just disgusted, and make you understand there is a little more depth underneath everything that you are seeing. There are a lot of Giallo films out there that do this and more often than not it’s the musical scores which are remembered more than the actual scenes.  That is why musical scores are so effective in films, they bring an emotional voice which makes you feel, and it brings realism. And believe it or not there a ton of realism in Cannibal Holocaust, you just have to make sure you choose to accept the themes and messages through the film and not play dumb to the fact that this film is trying to give you a wake up call. 

The four film makers in Cannibal Holocaust are genuinely unlikeable people. They don't seem to be phased by what they are doing, and are willing to provoke, endanger lives and cause havoc just to get what they want capture on screen. That just seems empty, fake and heartless. But that is how they are meant to be portrayed so then as a viewer you are meant to not feel sorry for them because everything that happens to them, they have caused themselves. The only likable character in this whole film is Harold. While he did respect these film makers and was willing to risk his own life to try and find them, he was left so appalled and disgusted with their behaviour. And deep down he really didn't feel sorry for their demise. Harold definitely symbolises that conscious that we all have inside ourselves, that a lot of the time we choose to ignore because the truth hurts. 

The legacy of Cannibal Holocaust is very interesting because there are some people out there who truly do still believe it is Snuff, and there are people who feel the film loses it’s artistic merit purely because of the animals that were killed in the film. Killing animals in film shouldn’t be condoned; however Cannibal Holocaust isn’t the only film that has done that but unfortunately, it’s the scapegoat for it. A lot of people tend to listen to someone they know who has seen the film and tells them don’t watch it, they kill animals and it’s way too violent. But this film shouldn’t be remembered for actions that the director sincerely regrets, it should be remembered for showing the world what everyone was too afraid to admit. As a society we ignore what really goes on, we ‘forget’ the past and keep recreating what came before, and as a whole we never learn. All we do is violate, take, and refuse to understand and accept something that is a little different. The real savages out there are not cannibals, they are normal looking humans like you and me. But it’s us normal looking creatures which can adapt to different situations to make people believe we are sane, but in reality they are the most twisted of all. 

If anything THAT is what you should take from this film.