Archive for Frank Henenlotter

Arrow Video Review: Brain Damage (1988)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 22, 2017 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Brain Damage is a 1988 dark Horror/Comedy from the King of Grindhouse and Exploitation, Frank Hennelotter. Underrated in comparison to the mighty Basket Case (1982) and Frankenhooker (1990), his most popular cult offerings, Brain Damage holds it’s own and is easily one of the most demented horror films out there.

Set in the seedy depths of New York, Brain Damage is a comically magnified metaphor for drug addiction. Brian (Rick Hearst) is a young man going about his business as usual until one day he discovers a strange, leech like parasite named Aylmer (or Elmer). The creature attaches itself to Brian’s neck, injecting a blue liquid substance into his brain, enhancing his perceptions with hallucinatory visions. Soon, Brian’s dependence on Aylmer leads him down a dark path that sees his relationships and sanity destroyed. The bargain goes, Aylmer will provide Brian with his latest hit as long as Brian feeds his strange addiction with human brains!

Despite the fact Brain Damage is a low budget, creature feature, it’s absolutely creative in it’s visuals and is an insane thrill ride from start to finish. Hennenlotter incorporates a distinct visual style, featuring a trippy blue colour scheme and psychedelic, bright colourful filters in order to capture Brian’s drug-like state.

This movie requires pure suspension of disbelief. While the subject matter drips into realism, the way the issue of addiction is portrayed is done in an over the top satirical format and it doesn’t take itself seriously at any point. Certain scenes exquisitely push the boundaries relishing in non political correctness. Many horror fans will agree that these types of films are unbelievably entertaining as they don’t hold back from the gross out gore and will throw everything at it’s audience.

The practical effects themselves still look fantastic and have aged well. They are further enhanced with Arrow’s high definition restoration. The scene in which Brian envisions his plate of spaghetti and meatballs pulsating with tiny blue tinted brains creates a nauseating sensation. What’s even better about Arrow’s re-released cut of the film is it includes all the gruesomeness, the ‘controversial’ and unrelenting fellatio scene is totally in bad taste but is played for laughs. The scene itself is grimly amusing from the tongue-in-cheek, innuendo laced dialogue to the sheer perverseness. While it’s likely to cause probable offence to a non horror audience, gore hounds and lovers of the B-Movie will see the funny side.

There’s a welcome cameo and a self-referential nod to Hennenlotter’s flagship film as Brian comes across Duane Bradley (Kevin Van Hentenryck). the baggage plagued protagonist from Basket Case on the subway train mid confrontation with his flaky girlfriend Barbara (Jennifer Lowry). It’s a subtle reference that is in place to please the fans while also making light of the fact both films parallel each other thematically. Both of them feature young, attractive male leads who become embroiled with an all consuming creature. Both men can’t function without them and are pawns in the creatures murderous rampages.

The late Horror Host, Zacherley provided the voice acting for Elmer. There’s a sense of irony in his performance, Elmer’s tone of voice is non-threatening and even comes across as convincingly reasonable making his sinister schemes that more insidious.

This is a movie created purely for appreciative horror fans and is one euphoric head trip. Arrow Video have once again done an incredible job with the re-release, giving gore hounds the full intact movie and the usual surge of special features. Speaking of ‘Underrated 80’s Gems’ as I recently did in my Anniversary article, Brain Damage certainly belongs under that banner and is wholly worth seeing if you haven’t already. I’d go as far as saying, this is Hennenlotter’s best work and highlights how he had developed as a filmmaker at this stage in his career. There’s so much effort and detail placed into the special effects which is what makes Brain Damage so impressive to this day on that level.

Brain Damage can be owned on  deranged DVD & beautiful blu-ray from the Arrow Store: http://www.arrowfilms.co.uk/shop/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=938

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

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Celluloid Screams 2013

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 3, 2013 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Yesterday I purchased my festival pass for another horror festival I regularly attend, Celluloid Screams in Sheffield. 2013 will be my third visit to this fantastic festival which provides a hardcore weekend of ghouls and gore and shocks and scares! In a compact festival programme, Celluloid Screams brings the latest gory offerings of features and short films to the silver screen. With a great atmosphere courtesy of dedicated horror fans and some brilliant special guests, Celluloid proves to be one of the best UK genre festivals out there.

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Entering its fifth year, Celluloid will return to the Showroom Cinema from the 25th to the 27th October. This year I’ve opted for the full pass, excluding the all-nighter (a new edition) costing a reasonable £55 (There is a slight increase for the full pass if including ‘Night of the (Un)Dead’). This year, attached to the main programme is a late night of some obscure, old skool movies including ‘Frankenhooker’ (1990) and ‘Return of the Living Dead’ (1985) screened alongside some short films such as ‘Ghoul School’ and ‘Hambre’; beginning at 12am and finishing up at 6am.

There appears to be a running theme for this year’s festival of body horror and splatter with the special guest of Frank Henenlotter attending. Henenlotter’s well-known, cult films ‘Basket Case’ 1 & 2 will be screened following the opening gala of Don Thacker’s ‘Motivational Growth’, a UK premiere which seems to have taken influence from Henenlotter’s style of filmmaking.

Basketcase

After excitedly reading up on the feature films for 2013, a few really stood out for me. I can’t wait to see what they have to offer. Ever since viewing the trailer, ‘Jug Face’ has been on my must-watch list. A film set in the backwoods, ‘Jug Face’ focuses on a pregnant teenage girl who discovers she’s the community’s next sacrifice, determined by her resemblance to a clay jug face. The film has an interesting premise and seems to have incorporated its own mythology and take on cults. The film stars Lauren Ashley Carter from ‘The Woman’. I have already planned a review for this film after speaking with director Chad Crawford Kinkle via Twitter and have since contacted his publicist. I certainly won’t have too long to wait to see this potential genre favorite.

jug face

‘Der Fan (AKA Trance)’, appears to be a chilling psychological thriller that takes obsession to a whole different level. This German offering centers on an obsessive teenage fan, infatuated with her pop star idol. This is certainly going to be one to watch and see unfold and will hopefully enter the disturbing heights it promises.

Since, ‘Fright Fest’, one of the most talked-about films is ‘Big Bad Wolves’, naturally I am interested in seeing it. Being a revenge thriller, it clearly has the making’s of a compelling and possibly harrowing story. Its been described as ‘intense’ and focused on male tensions which will surely be edge-of-the seat stuff. ‘Big Bad Wolves’ tells the story of three men all interlinked, a renegade police officer, a mild-mannered bible teacher and a grieving father, tensions are sure to run high as well as a complex sense of morality.

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‘Delivery’ may echo films such as ‘Paranormal Activity’ in essence, however the premise still intrigues me. An expectant couple agree to document a reality show on their pregnancy.  However events soon spiral out of control when a series of strange, unexplained events occur and throw the production into chaos. The film is allegedly told through unaired footage,  and interviews with family members of the main characters. If its anything like ‘The Bay’, a surprisingly effective film that used the found footage concept well, leading to terrifying notions then ‘Delivery’ will be another example of a good ‘found footage’ film. ‘Delivery’ has been described as ‘an incredibly effective film that stands on the head and shoulders of many of its contemporaries’, definitely sounds very promising.

delivery

Finally, ‘Discopath’ sounds like a fun entry and the perfect way of closing the festival on a high. A throwback to the 1970’s, ‘Discopath’ tells the tale of a homicidal maniac awakened following the introduction to the new trend of disco music! With the making’s of a cult hit, ‘Discopath’ seems to incorporate the essence of old skool movies made around that era, I’m just anticipating the possible sound track and I’m already loving the quirky title!

Discopath

Finally, ‘Claymania: The films of Lee Hardcastle’ looks to be a fascinating thrill ride into a unique and innovative approach to horror. Since his entry of ‘T- is for Toilet’ in the ‘ABC’s of Death’ anthology, I’ve been anticipating to see more of Lee Hardcastle’s interesting work. Bring on the gore!

This year, I plan to provide similar coverages of written reviews and videos documenting the festivals highlights (as seen below) and will hopefully be bringing a special guest with me, but more on that soon!

Celluloid Screams 2011.

Celluloid Screams 2012.

For more information please visit the festival website:

http://http://celluloidscreams.co.uk

Tweet @sheffhorrorfest

Hayley Alice Roberts.