The Curse of the Blind Dead continues

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1972, 1973, 1974, 1975…2018.  Wait, 2018? What? How?

Now there have been several unofficial sequels and continuations to the myth of the eyeless Knight’s Templar since Amando De Ossorio ended the Blind Dead series back in the mid-seventies but Raffaele Picchio (MORITURIS; THE BLIND KING) looks to have brought back to life one that might actually be worth your attention. I am talking about CURSE OF THE BLIND DEAD.

The trailer brings the action up to date, by way of refreshing the back story, but the more things change the more they stay the same and keen fans of the series will recognise a couple of familiar scenes or set ups within the trailer but this is not at the expense of viewers new to the undead templar myth.

Looking gritty, brutal and authentic (the portrayal of the reanimated Knight’s Templar’s is for me, spot on) the fact that CURSE OF THE BLIND DEAD is also shot in English should mean that it is accessible to all horror fans while simultaneously ensuring that it has the best chance of distribution.

Due out in 2019 and with Marco Ristori and Luca Boni attached as Executive Producers, and as evidenced by the trailer below, you can be certain of flesh-munching extremity.

Oh, while I am unfamiliar with the majority of the cast I have read that the legendary Fabio Testi will appear in the film, no doubt as an uncredited cameo due to his stature and not (at the time of writing) being listed on the official IMDB page. Yet another reason to check this film out.

Once I get some more information on this film I will post it up on here so keep checking back…while you still have eyes!

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WAX (2014) BY VICTOR MATELLANO

Reviews

Director: Victor Matellano
Writer: Victor Matellano, Hugo Stuven
Year: 2014
Starring: Jimmy Shaw, Jack Taylor, Geraldine Chaplin, Antonio Mayans

Synopsis:
Journalist Mike gets an assignment to spend one whole evening in a spooky wax museum documenting any strange occurrences while presenting the stories behind many of the notorious figures immortalised in wax. Initially believing to be alone inside the place, Mike eventually finds himself being terrorised and wondering if he survive the night?

Review:
WAX wastes no time getting started and within thirty seconds of the pre-credit sequence rookie director Victor Matellano, in his first feature (excluding the documentary ZARPAZOS! UN VIAJE POR EL SPANISH HORROR) gives us breasts and what appears to be the beginnings of a torture porn flick in the vein of HOSTEL and LIVE FEED.. 

After this opening sequence the style shifts away slightly from the generic, contemporary torture horror, but for better or worse decides to keep in the boob shots, as it elaborates on the story of our antagonist, the insane sadist Dr Knox (played by Jack Taylor – HORROR OF THE ZOMBIES; CONAN THE BARBARIAN; THE NINTH GATE; GOYA’S GHOSTS; PIECES) who is seeking to test the limits of human endurance. Unfortunately it becomes apparent that Matellano had not decided exactly what type of film he wanted to make. A horror sure, but as it flits around from one style of presentation to another the whole thing just appears a little confused as WAX presents us with torture porn, classic 50’s horror and found footage horror all with no real cohesive structure.

Moving forwards into contemporary times, we learn our journalist Mike (Jimmy Shaw – LORD OF ILLUSIONS) is being cajoled by a forceful TV producer (Geraldine Chaplin – THE ORPHANAGE; THE WOLFMAN; CHAPLIN) into an assignment at a wax museum. The script however does not settle for just the basics but also goes on to tell us that Mike has a kid, an irrelevant point added in simply as a device to try and force us to feel some sympathy and affection for the man ahead of what is sure to be an ordeal. Although it does not work and the character ends up merely being a conduit for our fear, aided and evidenced by the (justifiable) employment of found footage shots.

Now despite the earlier confused identity of the film, WAX does begin to show promise as it slowly reduces the torture porn element into the background and starts to focus on more creepy scares and tension as Jack Taylor’s Dr Knox starts to channel a more modern and much more extreme Prof. Henry Jarrod, as played by the legendary Vincent Price, in the 1955 version of HOUSE OF WAX, with the character going as far to actually state his admiration in the film for him. Meta indeed. Speaking of Jack Taylor, I was actually a little unsure about him in this role based on the trailers but he turns in a strong performance as the cultured sadist while Jimmy Shaw as our scared journalist turns in a competent performance that allows you to believe in him even if you are not fully invested in his predicament.

Once we reach the final act both the film and Matellano are in full flow and he begins to craft some genuine moments of tension that had me on the edge of my seat. Meanwhile the setting of the Wax Museum at night is just perfect, allowing for dark corners and inconclusive shadows to pull your gaze – ideal for a game of human cat and mouse. And despite once again seemingly becoming a little muddled at points, one element that was introduced had me scratching my head somewhat as I tried to work out how it was logically possible thereby reducing its impact, WAX does has a satisfying ending overall.

Similar in some sections to a range of films such as HOUSE OF WAX, FEED, HOSTEL and LIVE FEED as well as taking in the concept of reality TV, Victor Matellano manages to make the most of a low budget and ends up creating a film that will entertain many but ironically due to its attempt to please as many genre fans as possible its lack of cohesive and consistent identity also serves to hamper the film, alongside a couple of minor editing issues. That said for fans of foreign horror WAX is worth checking out as a curiosity and for the cast – just don’t go expecting a revelation or a hidden gem.

Oh and if your thinking this review is sans Naschy (until now) the reason is because you would not even know that he is in it. One final point of interest surrounds actress Geraldine Chaplin who near the end of the film pauses to look at a wax statue of Charlie Chaplin – her actual father.

Version Reviewed:
I watched the 2015 RedRum Spanish blu-ray release and as you would expect from a modern film the audio and picture quality is top notch. The film benefits from audio options in English, Spanish and of course, Catalan while subtitles are provided in Catalan. However not all of the extras have these same options.

Talking of extras, aside from the almost always pointless photo gallery we are also treated to the original trailer (in Spanish) which while quite graphic, focuses primarily on Jack Taylor and certainly whets the appetite for the film. Additionally the disc also contains a teaser trailer, presented in English, which frames the film more in the vein of the found footage genre.

Further extras include deleted scenes which are only very minor and the a behind the scenes featurette entitled Mysteries of a wax museum. Sadly this is primarily in Spanish (or Catalan, sorry I don’t know) and so I haven’t a scooby what was being discussed. All in all though it is a decent package and if you can pick it up cheap it’ll keep you entertained for its short running time.

VERONICA (2017) BY PACO PLAZA

Reviews

Director:  Paco Plaza
Writers: Fernando Navarro, Paco Plaza
Year: 2017
Starring: Sandra Escacena, Bruna Gonzalez, Claudia Placer, Ivan Chavero, Ana Torrent

Synopsis:
Madrid, 1991. A teen girl finds herself besieged by an evil supernatural force after she played Ouija with two classmates.

Review:
VERONICA is supernatural film that is unsurprisingly claims to be based on true events, something that the majority of films in this sub-genre purport to have. As with all of these instances unless you are familiar with the real-life tale it is, as a result, difficult to judge how much artistic licence the film makers take.

Now this is important because it may add context or realism which may help elevate the film and ensure that what we as a viewer witness is the true terror that unfolded. However no matter whether you believe or not, we are ultimately watching a piece of fiction (as opposed to a documentary or re-enactment) which has the primary aim to entertain…or perhaps scare in the case of horror.

It is exactly because of this latter point that VERONICA fails to hit the mark; while starting off promising enough there are too many dragged-out periods which seek to build context and develop character but merely succeed in stifling any momentum and boring the viewer as quite often we just don’t need that much information. As a result VERONICA would be a much better film had director Paco Plaza cut at least twenty, possibly even thirty minutes from its overlong run time (of 1 hour 45).

In regards to these moments of character development credit has to be given to all of the young actors for their performances in this film as no matter what issues may lay with the film, the acting is not one of them and the difficult family life is conveyed with much realism. However this aspect is fast becoming a repetitive theme in the sub-genre and gives the film a sense of over-familiarity with easy comparisons being THE CONJURING 2 from 2016, INSIDIOUS 3 from 2105 and THE BABADOOK from 2014. All of which deal with a struggling lone (female) parent who is unable to cope with and to understand what is going on even before the spirit enters the scene. 

And this is perhaps the main issue that I had with the film. For all the positives and  the few genuinely good moments, ultimately the attempts to inject some emotional connection seem too forced and there was very little to make the film stand out against its peers, ultimately leaving it feeling like a competent rehash of older ideas. And by older we do not even have to go back even five years.

Overall VERONICA is a disappointing effort from the man who brought us the fantastic [REC]3: GENESIS (and additionally co-directed the first two of the series) and is hard to recommend. However if you are a big fan of the paranormal/possession sub-genre then there may be just enough in this film to make it worth investigating.

Version Reviewed:
This was reviewed based on the Netflix (UK) version of the film.