Archive for the Mutilation Category

THE COLLECTION (2012)

Posted in 2012, Cinema Knife Fights, Disturbing Cinema, Elaborate Murders, Extreme Movies, Gore!, Killers, LL Soares Reviews, Madness, Medical Experiments!, Mutilation, Psychos, Sequels, Torture with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 10, 2012 by knifefighter

CINEMA KNIFE FIGHT Presents:
THE COLLECTION (2012)
Review by L.L. Soares

The Collection (2012) Movie Poster

(THE SCENE: an abandoned hotel full of cobwebs. L.L. SOARES is climbing the stairs using a flashlight)

LS: I’m starting to think MICHAEL ARRUDA isn’t here at all. I’m sure this is all a prank.

(His cell phone rings, playing Bernard Herrmann’s music from the shower scene of PSYCHO)

LS: Hello?

MA: LL, is that you? I’ve been waiting for an hour now.

LS: What are you talking about? I’m here now, at the Argento Hotel, just like you told me. I can’t find you anywhere.

MA: Oops, I meant the Argento Steak House. My bad.

LS: That explains a lot.

MA: Well, while I have you on the phone, how was that new movie, THE COLLECTION?

LS: I was just going to start the review. I guess I have to do this one solo.

(SWITCH to Michael Arruda in a restaurant. A waiter brings a delicious meal to his table)

MA (making noises with his mouth): Oh no, I’m having phone problems. LL are you there? I can’t hear you?

LS: Yes, I’m still here.

MA (makes more noises): Oh no, you’re breaking up. I’m going to lose you. (MA shuts off his phone)

LS: Dammit! I hate bad connections. And it always happens when I’m in spooky places like this.

So where was I? Oh yes, I was going to review the new movie THE COLLECTION. I guess I’ve got nothing better to do.

(LS sits down on a comfy chair in the hallway of the old hotel. He brings the flashlight up to his face, turning it on, making himself look spooky)

LS: Gather round the fire, kiddies, and I’ll tell you the spooky story of THE COLLECTION. First off, it’s the sequel to the 2009 movie THE COLLECTOR, which was also directed by Marcus Dunstan.  He also co-wrote the screenplays for SAW IV (2007), SAW V (2008) , SAW VI (2009) and SAW 3D: THE FINAL CHAPTER (2010) as well as FEAST (2005) and its sequels, with his writing partner, Patrick Melton. This is a busy guy.

Anyway, in case you didn’t see the first one, it was a about a thief named Arkin (Josh Stewart) who breaks into a house to steal some money and valuables, and instead finds a house of horrors. Someone else has gotten there first, and has turned it into a booby-trapped filled torture chamber, and the family (who was supposed to be on vacation) suffers horribly at the hands of a masked murderer known only as The Collector. They call him that because, whenever he attacks someplace, he kills everyone except one person, who he kidnaps for his “collection.”

The first movie ended on a suspenseful note, as Arkin was captured by the Collector, and then the end credits rolled.

The new movie, THE COLLECTION, continues where the last one left off. Sort of. This time around, we find out that the Collector has been up to lots of mischief since the last time we saw him. Not only is he making random home invasions, now the number of people he’s killed is off the charts, and the police have no clue how to stop him. The city is in a panic. So what does teenager Elena  (Emma Fitzpatrick) do? She goes to a rave of course, in an abandoned building that no adults know about. When she finds out that her boyfriend is cheating on her, she runs away from the dance floor to an empty room, with a trunk in the middle of it.  She’s crying when suddenly the trunk moves and starts to make noise! There’s someone inside it. As we know from the previous movie, this is the Collector’s calling card, and if you open a trunk, it puts all kinds of horrible things in motion. So of course, she opens it, letting out Arkin (Josh Stewart again), our hero from the first movie. Only this time he is bloody from having been tortured for weeks.

His being set free sets all kinds of weird traps and pullies in motion, and a giant wheat shredding blade descends on the partiers, chopping them all to mulch. Another group of people, including Elena’s friend, Missy (Johanna Braddy) get locked up in a cage where the ceiling is crushing down on them.

Somehow Arkin escapes, and Elena gets nabbed by the Collector before he can save her. She is the only survivor of the massacre, and, as we know, the Collector always takes one victim away from the crime scene alive.

(LS gets up from the chair, just as a huge metal spike drops down from the ceiling and stabs where he was just sitting)

LS: Arkin wakes up in the hospital, where he is interrogated by a guy named Lucello (Lee Tergesen), who appears to be a cop, but isn’t. He works for Elena’s rich father (Christopher McDonald) and will stop at nothing to find Elena and bring her back to her father. Even if that means forcing Arkin to retrace his steps to find where Elena is being held (he has marks carved in his arm to determine where he was taken to last time).

Lucello and his team of Black Ops agents then invade the Hotel Argento (get the funny homage to horror director Dario Argento?) where the Collector rules over victims driven insane by their horrible treatment and who have been turned into crazed zombie-like creatures. Oh, and there are tons of booby traps and mazes and bear traps and time bombs. Let’s just say that Lucello has no idea what he’s in for, and poor Arkin is forced to go along for the ride, even though he’s endured these particular horrors before.

There are also lots of “collections” throughout the hotel. From the usual butterflies and insects in frames, to giant tanks full of bizarre sculptures made from human body parts.

There are bizarre sculptures made from human body parts throughout the hotel, like this one.

There are bizarre sculptures made from human body parts throughout the hotel, like this one.

(LS continues walking down the hallway. Hatchets are hurled at him and keep missing him.)

LS: THE COLLECTION is in limited release and its official release date was December 1st, except that week it was only playing in obscure movie theaters out in the ‘burbs, so I couldn’t see it. This weekend, it got a slightly wider release and made its way into the city. Because I enjoyed the first movie, I was looking forward to seeing this one, so I made sure to check it out before it disappeared.

Let me state something for the record. I like “torture porn.” That might be the first time you have ever seen a critic say this out loud in public, but the truth is, when the genre is done right, it can be pretty compelling. I think the first two HOSTEL movies, for example, are terrific. I was less-than-enthusiastic about all the SAW movies, because I had a problem with the Jigsaw character.

You see, our old friend Jigsaw had this agenda where his elaborate murder scenarios were meant to give the  bad people who survived them a second chance. He was  trying to change their lives. He was trying to redeem them, by making them thankful to be alive. This was all a bit hard to swallow, and I’m sure you found this all to be as much bullshit as I did. Also, Jigsaw didn’t like to get his hands dirty and watched the violence from a control room. His “victims” had to make decisions about which door to open, or which lever to pull, while he watched from safety.

The Collector isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. He is more than happy to resort to hand-to-hand combat when his more elaborate methods don’t finish everyone off. He’s a skilled fighter, knows his way around a knife fight, and is lethal as hell. And there’s no pontificating about changing people’s lives. The Collector simply thirsts for blood and uses his weird,  elaborate killing methods to quench that thirst. Plus, he wears a cool, black Mexican wrestler’s mask to keep his identity a secret. Let’s just say that the Collector would kick Jigsaw’s ass in a fight.

THE COLLECTION is gory as hell. It pushes its R-rating to the limit. And it’s very suspenseful. You never know what is going to happen next, and who will die. Which is just the way a good horror movie should  be. Sure, not all of it makes sense, and you really start to wonder how anyone can set up as many crazy booby traps as this guy does throughout  the hotel—it just doesn’t seem possible—and then you realize, “hell, it’s just a movie.” And there are lots of blockbuster action movies that make even less sense.

And the cast is top-rate for this kind of thing. Josh Stewart, who was so good in the first movie, does an equally good job here, reprising his role as petty thief  and “Collector expert” Arkin. Emma Fitzpatrick is tough and unflinching as Elena (she reminded me a bit of Natalie Portman). Lee Tergeson (who you might remember as Beecher from the HBO series OZ) is solid here as Lucello, and his team of mercenaries includes Andre Royo, who was so great as the homeless guy Bubbles on another excellent HBO series, THE WIRE (it seems like more great actors have come out of OZ and THE WIRE than any other TV shows put together). Believe me, the actors involved are above-average for this kind of thing.

And the ending is actually pretty satisfying this time around. So make sure you stay in your seat until those end credits roll, because there’s a kick-ass epilogue to the story.

(LS stops in front of a doorway, and a pie hurtles at him, hitting him in the face)

Beware! The Collector wants to add you to his COLLECTION.

Beware! The Collector just might want to add you to his COLLECTION.

LS (wipes cream off his face and licks): Mmmm, banana cream!

Sure there’s horrible violence. Sure, people get tortured. There’s blood and body parts galore. But it works. There’s this incredibly sadistic bastard trying to kill as many people as possible, and a group of people trying their best to stop him. If it’s “torture porn,” and it certainly fits the bill,  then it’s one of the better examples of the genre. Unfortunately, the genre itself is in decline, no doubt thanks to all of those SAW movies that amounted to a great big example of overkill. They milked that cash cow as long as they could. So there’s a good chance THE COLLECTION might be the end of this particular franchise.

I am not expecting THE COLLECTION to be a big hit. In fact, I’m sure it won’t do very well at all, especially since it’s in such limited release. But I’m telling you, if you’re not squeamish about this kind of stuff, you might just enjoy the hell out of it. I know I did.

I give THE COLLECTION ~ four bloody knives.

(LS dials his cell phone, and Michael Arruda picks up on the other end, enjoying his steak dinner)

MA: Hello?

LS: I know you gave me the wrong info on purpose. I hope you’re enjoying your dinner.

MA: Er…I am.

LS: And I hope you enjoyed the ground up glass in the mashed potatoes.

MA (touches his mouth and coughs up blood): NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

LS: What? I can’t hear you. We have a bad connection.

(FADE TO BLACK)

© Copyright 2012 by L.L. Soares

LL Soares gives THE COLLECTION ~ four knives!

Bill’s Bizarre Bijou looks into THE HYPNOTIC EYE (1960)

Posted in "So Bad They're Good" Movies, 1960s Horror, 2012, Bill's Bizarre Bijou, Hypnotic Horror, Kinky Killers, Mutilation, Paranormal, Sexy Stars with tags , , , , on December 6, 2012 by knifefighter

Bill’s Bizarre Bijou

William D. Carl

This week’s feature presentation:

THE HYPNOTIC EYE (1960)

hypnoticposter

Welcome to Bill’s Bizarre Bijou, where you’ll discover the strangest films ever made.  If there are alien women with too much eye-shadow and miniskirts, if papier-mâché monsters are involved, if your local drive-in insisted this be the last show in their dusk till dawn extravaganza, or if it’s just plain unclassifiable – then I’ve seen it and probably loved it.   Now, I’m here to share these little gems with you, so you too can stare in disbelief at your television with your mouth dangling open.  Trust me, with these flicks, you won’t believe your eyes.

Oh, Allison Hayes, how I adore thee.  I sang your praises earlier this year in the gloriously campy voodoo-fest, THE DISEMBODIED (1957), and I am compelled to return to your side with 1960’s exploitation / trash classic THE HYPNOTIC EYE.  You are not the main attraction in this gruesome-for-its-time sickie, but your performance as Justine stands out among the others like a rose in a cesspool.

Actually, THE HYPNOTIC EYE is a fun little drive-in feature with a twisted plot that probably stunned audiences right out of their rumble seats.  Directed by television vet George Blair (who directed hundreds of episodes of such fare as THE GENE AUTRY SHOW, RACKET SQUAD, ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN, CASEY JONES, and WANTED: DEAD OR ALIVE), the film zips along swiftly with bursts of yucky violence and real live hypnotism demonstrations.  In fact, many of the actresses who performed in the film were actually mesmerized by an off-stage hypnotist and told what to do by the director using trigger words.  Thus, a feeling of real trances and surrealism suffuses the film, although I’m not certain the poor actresses couldn’t have performed just as well using actual acting skillsThe movie was even advertised as being filmed in Hypnomagic, a gimmick to get more seats filled in theaters, in which you – the audience—would actually be hypnotized while watching THE HYPNOTIC EYE.  It didn’t work on me, but perhaps the population was more susceptible back then.

The film starts on a shockingly sick note, when a black lingerie-wearing woman drying her hair over an open burner on a stove shoves her head down until her hair catches fire.  Instead of putting it out, she stands in her kitchen, screaming, unable to move while the hair on her head burns like Nic Cage in GHOST RIDER(2007).  This whole scene is witnessed through the burner, the flames dancing around the edges of the screen, the camera lurking within the stove.  Her entire head is wrapped in bandages and detective Dave Kennedy (played by Joe Partridge of many of George Blair’s TV shows) walks in and asks the doc, “Another self-inflicted mutilation?”  Under questioning, the woman admits she put her hair in the flame on purpose and then promptly dies.  Det. Kennedy expositions that eleven women have mutilated themselves with straight razors they thought were lipsticks or by sticking their heads into fans they thought were vibrators (what?).  So far, it’s all been unexplained.

This lady's got a hot new hairdo in the opening scene of THE HYPNOTIC EYE!

This lady’s got a hot new hairdo in the opening scene of THE HYPNOTIC EYE!

But life isn’t all mutilation and death for Kennedy.  That evening, he takes his girlfriend Marcia (played by Marcia Henderson of RIOT IN JUVENILE PRISON, 1959 and THE WAYWARD GIRL, 1957) on a date to see a popular hypnotist, Desmond (played by Jacques Bergerac of GIGI, 1958 and LES GIRLS, 1957; he was also the fourth husband of Ginger Rogers).  He makes a subject hot, then cold, then turns him into a very bad, mean dog!  There’s nothing like humiliating volunteers in front of a wildly applauding audience.  For his final demonstration, he gets three lovely women volunteers…and there is his assistant, Justine, played by the wonderful Allison Hayes in a hot sequenced outfit!  She helps him pick out the three prettiest women in the audience.  Dodie, a girl who came with the detective and his girlfriend, is one of the volunteers.  Dodie is played by the lovely Merry Anders (TICKLE ME, 1965, THE TIME TRAVELERS, 1964), and she is hypnotized by Desmond, and she actually levitates on stage under his French-accented instructions.  “Ladies and gentlemen…gravity defied!”  Det. Kennedy insists it’s all a trick of misdirection, although his girlfriend Marcia is thrilled.

The hypnotic Jacques Bergerac as Desmond.

The hypnotic Jacques Bergerac as Desmond.

Dodie doesn’t remember anything that happened onstage, and she rushes off after the show to the back entrance.  In a hypnotic state, she stares at a poster of Desmond then goes home where she fills a sink with boiling water and sulfuric acid and washes her face in it, melting away her skin and becoming the twelfth victim.  She survives, but is hospitalized and must be covered in paraffin, since her skin is burned away.  Det. Kennedy and Marcia visit her, and she admits that she remembered going home and washing her face but nothing else.  She knows she did it to herself, but she didn’t feel any pain at the time.

Det. Kennedy goes to a call and drops Marcia off at the theater where Desmond is performing, since she wants to see the show again.  Under Justine’s subtle direction, Desmond chooses, of course, Marcia.  She is the new subject for the levitation trick!  After the show, she tells Kennedy that Desmond is no fake, but that she faked being hypnotized and Desmond whispered in her ear that she wouldn’t remember anything except that she was to go back to his dressing room at midnight.  So, accompanied by Kennedy and his friend, a psychiatrist, she goes back to Desmond’s lair and plays along.

Once in his dressing room, she really is put under his spell by a blinking electronic eye thingie.  He tells her to get up and go to dinner with him.  He asks her address, and she tells him, while Allison Hayes lurks behind the corners, obviously bitter about the situation.  Desmond escorts Marcia to a nice restaurant, and her bodyguards sit at another table in case Desmond tries anything.  Then, they go to a way-crazy-man beat club for coffee and jazz.  So far, it’s a pretty great date.  Then, an old man in a beret screams “I have just written a poem.  Confessions Of A Movie Addict Or The Holy Barbarian Blues.  I was a teenaged movie monster.  I cut my teeth on Clara Bow…”  He goes on to recite the entire damn poem to bongo accompaniment.  He should’ve just called the poem “We Need Padding.  So Here Is Filler.”  Groovy, man, groovy.  Desmond dances with Marcia amongst the beat cats and chicks, which gets Kennedy all hot and bothered.  While dancing, Desmond whispers in Marcia’s ear, then he escorts her home and the detective waits outside while old Desmond makes out with his girl.  After a few minutes, the door opens, and Justine steps into the room.  She tells Desmond, “There isn’t much time.”  Justine makes Marcia go further down under.  Desmond asks, “How many more?”  Justine replies, “As long as there are faces like this.”  She then instructs Marcia to get ready for bed and she turns on the shower for her, making the water scalding hot.  What kind of plumbing does she have that the water is boiling hot in the shower?  Marcia strips while Justine orders her into the “cool, cool shower”.  At that moment, Dave Kennedy knocks on her door, interrupting the mutilation.

Allison Hayes as the mysterious Justine.

Allison Hayes as the mysterious Justine.

At the door, Justine informs Dave she’s a friend from school, visiting Marcia, but Marcia went to public school, and that just throws a monkey wrench into Justine’s plans.  But Marcia remains in a hypnotic state that can be triggered at any time.  It does make her act like a sex kitten, however.  Of course, big dumb lunkhead Dave still doesn’t get the connection between Desmond and the mutilated girls and Justine.  With cops like him, it’s a wonder any case ever gets solved in the city.  Justine, certainly a suspicious character, disappears out the fire escape.  Whoops!  Lost another suspect.

The psychiatrist friend is found in the morning playing classical piano in a smoking jacket with a white dog lying atop the piano!  He tries to explain the whole thing to dim-bulb Dave, but Dave is still in the dark.  They go to visit the first victim, the woman who stuck her face into an electric fan.  She says she has never been hypnotized.  Other victims confirm they were never hypnotized or saw the stage show.  However, it is soon discovered they are all lying (under post-hypnotic suggestion).  They have all been to see the show.

What is the strange relationship between Desmond and Justine?  Why is Justine causing the hypnotized ladies to mutilate themselves?  The answer is right out of a twist ending in a Scooby Doo cartoon.  It’s both ridiculous and horrifying at the same time, and it provides the lovely Ms. Hayes to really strut her stuff and chew the scenery.

THE HYPNOTIC EYE barrels along at a clipped pace for a brief 79 minutes, giving the viewer no time to discredit its hole-filled plot.  It’s hard to dislike the movie; it really pulls out all the stops to entertain.  It even contains a whole scene where Desmond looks right into the camera and hypnotizes the viewer in the movie audience!  There are beautiful women who are turned into monsters in various terrible ways through very good make-up effects created by Emile LaVigne, who created make-up for such great films as WEST SIDE STORY (1961), SOME LIKE IT HOT (1959) and THE DISEMBODIED (1957).  I wonder if Allison Hayes had him as her favorite make-up artist?    There are the dumbest cops of all time and damsels in distress.  The acting is good enough for this sort of thing, but the crisp photography by Archie Dalzell, who photographed LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS the same year, and also shot THE TRIP (1967), FIVE DESPERATE WOMEN (1971) and EBONY, IVORY, AND JADE (1979), makes it all pop.

Plus, where else will you hear the great line, “If you like my beautiful face so much, you can have it!”

I command you to see THE HYPNOTIC EYE!  I command you to get the restored copy from Warner Archive!  I command it!

I give THE HYPNOTIC EYE three burning heads out of four.

© Copyright 2012 by William D. Carl