Starting its life as a soft-core porno, Bob Kelljan’s Count Yorga: Vampire was hastily reworked into a horror flick in order to secure its star, the handsome Hollywood-ite Robert Quarry. Yorga was only Kelljan’s second feature film and Quarry’s first real foray into horror, and in some ways it really shows. As a vampire film, Count Yorga: Vampire is little more than a slightly savvy Dracula rip-off, following the keystone events of Stoker’s novel with irritating rigidity and lack of creativity. Even the name Yorga feels like the kind of gobbledygook title coined by someone more interested in canning a film than telling a story. The only thing really going for Kelljan’s sophomore feature is the socially guarded- yet charming- turn from Quarry, who proves his undying charisma in a role often worn thin with this kind of “classic” cape and cravat business.
Kevin Kopacka’s TLMEA is an elusive, jarring, but enthralling journey for the curious colour-loving viewer. Only Kopacka’s second short film, TLMEA acts as a prequel to last year’s Hades, a similarly expressive multi-coloured nightmare, which follows a woman’s dreamy interpretation of her romantic relationship. TLMEA is Kopacka’s crack at an art house thriller/melodrama through his own giallo-inspired lens, and to give him his dues, it has a very different, perhaps more ambitious element to Hades.
Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s The Killing Joke is arguably one of the most iconic graphic novels in the bat-repertoire, providing inspiration for countless adaptations of the Batman/Joker relationship. This film seemed inevitable since DC Universe Animated Original Movies has had a fairly successful run of 25 films to date (this makes 26) and such a hot property is a sold ticket for many fans. But Sam Liu’s The Killing Joke has garnered some back-lash for choices it makes outside of its approach to the original content.
The most unique, colourful, and impressive film at Edinburgh International Film Festival was easily The Lure (Corki Dancingu); a macabre Polish siren musical that seduces as well as it thrills. Director Agnieszka Smoczynska has put together a remarkable piece of work with a talented team of Polish artists, so look no further if splendorous audio-visual fairs are your thing.
Holidays is the latest anthology film you’ll want to tick off your list if you’ve enjoyed recent projects like The ABCs of Death 2, A Christmas Horror Story, or Southbound. One of the campest anthology films in a while, Holidays feels closer to George A. Romero and Stephen King’s’s 80’s pulp extravaganza Creepshow, than it ever does to the gritty handheld feel of V/H/S. But then that shouldn’t really surprise, after all, this is an anthology made in homage to Holiday Horror; a sub-genre characterised by OTT massacres and darkly comic thrillers. Many of these films became immensely popular in the late 70’s when the boom in Slasher films made gory flicks with large body-counts a lucrative business. Famous entries would include classics like Halloween and Black Christmas, though camper 80’s endeavours like Thanksgiving thriller Blood Rage seem closer inspirations on much of the humour of this curious collection.
Last Girl Standing is the kind of Indy horror debut that will put director Benjamin R. Moody on the map, evidently, since it was picked up for distribution by the Frightfest Presents label. Frightfest has a long and admirable history of championing low-budget underdog genre films, giving filmmakers the opportunity to reach a wider audience if they show potential. The recent batch of Frightfest releases shows the charm, scares, and self-awareness we’ve come to expect, but Last Girl Standing feels like a potential cult classic and marks Moody as a talent to watch for.
Adapted from the classic 1908 existential novel by G. K. Chesterton, Balazs Juszt’s directorial debut is a heady thriller. Splitting time between a fascist-period attempt on Mussolini’s life and a contemporary plot to assassinate the pope, The Man Who Was Thursday takes place in the darker backstreets of faith.
If you didn’t like Tusk, then chances are you could find Kevin Smith’s latest schlocky comedy adventure Yoga Hosers an absolute irritation. Smith’s latest addition to the True North Trilogy is a direct spin-off from Tusk which harks back to Clerks, fusing his earlier structure and themes with his later, more outré genre work. This is going to be another marmite film for most people.
Accomplished sculptor and avant-garde artist Henry Coombs arrived at Edinburgh film festival this year with his psycho-drama directorial debut Seat in Shadow. It’s a studied and emotional look at artist and muse, a close-up look at alienation, and an uplifting expose of life and love through the prism of gay experience. That’s not to say that Coombs’ debut is a specifically “gay” film, it looks at the network of anxieties which plague one young man, but its ultimate message is a testament to the complications of the human heart and mind.
Anna Biller’s fourth feature film The Love Witch cements her as a consummate talent and aesthetically gifted artist with seductively witchy control over her aesthetic. Writer, editor, production designer, and director, Anna Biller is one of the stand-out talents of Edinburgh international Film Festival 2016.