DVD: Phenomena, The Beyond, Senseless, Blooded, Skyline, Primal, Island of Death
Recent horror DVD releases reviewed
Italian horror from the 1970s and 80s is finally getting the recognition it deserves. Dario Argento is on familiar ground in Phenomena (Arrow Video) ●●●● as a killer stalks an isolated girls school, but with a twist, as a young Jennifer Connolly uses her ability to control insects to track the murderer. Lucio Fulci is another Italian master and The Beyond (Arrow Video) ●●●●, about a gate to hell in suburbia, may not always make sense but makes up for it with atmosphere and copious gore (including a particularly memorable scene where a man has his face eaten by giant spiders).
Senseless (Isis) ●●●● (from Scottish director Simon Hynd) transcends its limitations as a young business executive (Jason Behr) is held hostage and his senses brutally physically removed. Touching on ideas of globalisation, terrorism and the public’s thirst for violence, it’s a bit rough round the edges, but this is a fantastic piece of filmmaking that shows what is achievable if you get creative within your budget. The same goes for Blooded (Revolver) ●●●, as fox hunters are chased by the Real Animal League across Mull, told via a very convincing docudrama, complete with talking heads and ‘actual’ footage.
Skyline (Momentum) ●●● has alien invaders terrorise LA. With a background in special effects directors Colin and Greg Strause deliver some spectacular gigantic bio-mechanical monsters and techno-squids (particularly impressive given the low budget) but fail when it comes to characterisation and plotting. Things go horribly wrong in the Aussie rainforests in Primal (Kaleidoscope) ●●● as a camping trip descends into chaos when a dip in a cursed billabong turns our not-so-happy campers into primal beasts (a bit random, but just go with it) leading to cannibalism, carnage and strange toothy monsters.
Finally if you love nasty trashy cinema you’ll dig the unrelenting depravity and groovy 70s madness to be found in perverse former Video Nasty Island of Death (Arrow Video) ●●● as a seemingly normal British couple indulge in murder, sex and even bestiality while on holiday in Mykonos (one of the extras will be of particular interest to music fans, containing as it does various Scottish artists covering ‘Destination Understanding’ from the fantastic soundtrack - see below for the original).