The Good and the Bad and Ugly

 A couple reviews of things that just came out on DVD in the past couple of weeks, all from the hardcore no-fucking-around school of horror.  The first one I watched so you don't have to (really, truly, you don't) and the second two you should seek out.

The Human Centipede 2 [Full Sequence] - (B&W, 2011) Vile, grimy sequel follows a fan of the original film as he tries to re-create it, but with a dozen people instead of just three.  The lunatic is Martin, a toadlike retarded man with bulging eyes, a nasty cough, and perpetual sheen of sweat.  He's an attendant at a parking garage, and his job provides him with too much downtime, which he spends watching The Human Centipede on an endless loop on his laptop while masturbating with sandpaper; abuse by his father left him an extreme masochist.  Concocting a plan far too stupid to be realistic at all, Martin whams people over the head with a crowbar and takes them away to a filthy warehouse.  When he collects a dozen he tries the operation from the movie, but he's no doctor and people bleed more than he figured on when he tries cutting into them (although he does manage to sever knee-tendons in much more detail than you'd ever wish for), so he just staples his centipede segments together with a staplegun, lips to assholes.  And it doesn't turn out well...   This movie has very little in the way of a story and is just a childish attempt to gross you out, and it works, but that's easy.  While the first movie wisely showed some restraint, this one wallows in showing all the depravity in as much graphic detail as possible, and the ante is upped by adding such idiocies as rape with a barbed-wire-wrapped penis; if that's not excess for the sake of excess, what is?  Maybe a baby being stomped on seconds after it's born, and hey you lucky dog, you, you get that, too.  I felt sorry for the actors and actresses who had to jam their mouths into each other's buttcracks while pudding spews out, because that's something you can look at, but it's not a movie.  Showing bloated-ass Martin naked and his psychiatrist's out-of-control beard is really all the grotesquerie you'd ever need. To try to make all this seem "artsy" it's filmed in black and white, and Martin never speaks; he cries, coughs, and makes farting noises when he's trying to cheerlead his captives into defecating -- as sick as that was, I gotta admit I did laugh at his enthusiasm.  The film's very well-shot and director Tom Six does have filmmaking talent, but this glimpse of hell isn't a very good use of it; it's too silly to be scary, but it's not the kind of silly that'll get you laughing much, except maybe at yourself when you think about what you're sitting there watching.  The first film has some merit amongst all the sickness and is better than the concept would suggest, but this one-upsmanship just looks desperate for attention.  Please be shocked by it, pleeeease!

Dead, The (C, 2010) A war in Africa goes horribly wrong when the dead start coming back to life and eating the living.  While trying to escape the country a plane goes down and an American engineer/mechanic is the only survivor.  He manages to fix up an old truck and befriends an African soldier who's trying to find his son.  They drive through the African wilderness (teeming with the slowly-wandering dead) in search of a military base, but their supplies are running out and the hungry dead are everywhere.  The market's so oversaturated with zombie movies that there's definitely too much of a good thing, but this one stands out from the pack and makes itself welcome by doing everything right.  It's not that it's really that different -- other than the African setting it's pretty standard, simple zombie-survival stuff -- but it's strong in all the right places.  For one thing, it's not funny, at all.  No cutesy Zombieland/Shaun of the Dead ain't-this-fun clowning here; these dead are dead serious and a real threat.  They're slow, but there are a hell of a lot of them.  Also, it dispenses with any explanations of the causes of the zombie plague entirely.  Nobody really cares about that stuff, so this movie doesn't even address it; it's just happening, and why doesn't matter.  Also, any zombie movie sinks or swims on the strength of its zombie makeup.  If your zombies don't look creepy, you can hang the wreath.  Well, these are some creepy zombies; I'm not sure why their eyes turn white, but what the hell.  And the gore is powerful, Fulci-level stuff, with major head trauma and horrifying amounts of tissue loss from the bites.  The effects are extreme and very well done.  And it's not afraid to set a grim tone, either.   If they can still make zombie movies like this one, then I don't mind if they make more.

Not a very good trailer (the photography's not this dark) but, what the hell...

Woman, The (C, 2011)  Lucky McKee directed this adaptation of a novel he co-authored with Jack Ketchum, so you know it's faithful.  A feral woman (one of the tribe from Kechum's Off Season and Offspring) is captured by a family man who brings her home and chains her up in the cellar, where he and his family plan to civilize her.  But this guy's idea of civilized is more than a bit warped, and even though the woman is a murderous, savage cannibal, the family (especially the Corey-Feldman-looking dad and his Matthew-Laborteauk-lookalike son) are far more twisted than she is, and she's not even the craziest secret they're hiding.   Hell, she may not even rank third...   It's nicely made and pretty hardcore, more in terms of the extremely dark subject matter than the gore, which is splashy but rather cheap and clumsy (flesh doesn't stretch anywhere near that far, buddy, you're thinking of taffy).  The book is still better but this is a good adaptation and I can only imagine how shocking it might be if you hadn't read the book first.  The only real weak points come in the form of the truly terrible songs that keep showing up on the soundtrack; they're so pervasive that you get the feeling that Lucky was trying to showcase the band even at the expense of the film.  They soon get distracting and detracting.  But, small quibble -- overall this is solid and scary horror you won't want to miss.  But read the book first.

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