For this week's edition of Short Cuts I've rounded up a quarter of horror flicks from around the world, including a pair of relatively unusual South American obscurities and a snowy slasher sequel from Norway.
Cold Prey II
Cast-Ingrid Bolso Berdal, Marthe Snorresdotter Rovik, Kim Wifladt
Country of Origin-Norway
If you're following the model for creating a successful slasher franchise then sooner or later you're gonna end up in the hospital....story-wise anyway. Cold Prey II takes a cue from Halloween II and A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (not to mention non-sequels like X-Ray and Visiting Hours) and moves its bloody action to the confines of a rural medical center in the isolated mountains of Norway. Picking up directly where the original (which, full disclosure, I still have yet to see) left off, the 2008 sequel opens with sole survivor of the previous massacre Jannicke (Ingrid Bolsų Berdal) being discovered dazed and bleeding on a snowy road after having dispatched the maniacal mountain man who slaughtered her friends when they came up to the mountains to go snowboarding. Both the killer - who turns out to not be dead after all - and his elusive would-be victim are brought to the hospital and the mayhem begins anew. Mats Stenberg takes over for previous director Roar Uthaug and delivers a ripping thriller loaded with thrills, chills, and a lot of blood but not too much. You don't have to see the first Cold Prey to know exactly what's happening in the sequel, but it might help.
The wintry locations look properly foreboding on this Shout! Factory DVD, with the film presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen picture that is clear and chilled to perfection. The visuals are served well by the inclusion of a robust Norwegian Dolby Digital 5.1 stereo track and English subtitles are also provided. Extras are limited to the original theatrical trailer and seven deleted scenes.
The Film: 3/5
Director-Ji-Yeong Hong, Beom-sik Jeong, Dae-wung Lim
Cast-Ji-won Kim, Tae-woo Kim, Bo-ra Nam
Country of Origin-South Korea
Six prominent South Korean filmmakers team up to for Moo-seo-woon I-ya-gi (released here as Horror Stories), a 2012 anthology feature consisting of four stories framed by an interesting wraparound segment. Two children left home alone are besieged by outside evil forces, a serial killer escapes police custody aboard an airplane in mid-flight, a pair of stepsisters engage in a war of surgical augmentation, and a little girl becomes a zombie as her mother and a paramedic argue over what to do with her. Like most cinematic anthologies the tone of each tale varies wildly from suspense to full-on terror to deranged black comedy, all executed with gruesome gusto and stylish wit. Far from being a great film, at least Horror Stories knows its intended audience and delivers exactly what they desire from the country that has given us some of the most offbeat and amazing genre cinema of the past decade.
Artsploitation Films' DVD presentation of Horror Stories is stellar with the film presented in a clean and vibrant 2.35:1 widescreen picture with a rich Korean 2.0 stereo track backing it up beautifully. English subtitles are also provided. Extras are slim but they include nine minutes of superfluous interviews with the cast, a 32-page collector's booklet featuring an essay written by Travis Crawford and an interview with one of the segment directors, and reversible cover art.
The Film: 3/5
Cast-Adriana Herran, David Guerrero, Santiago Garcia
Country of Origin-Colombia
Distributor-One 7 Movies
From Colombia, magical land of coffee and cocaine, comes this glacially-paced tale of a family falling apart in the wake of their beloved grandmother's death. As her estate is divided among the surviving relatives two of her grandchildren began an incestuous affair that leads to murder and an ancient evil being unleashed. This is all set against the backdrop of a nation gripped by a military dictatorship. Director Carlos Mayolo - probably best known to cult film fans for playing the governor of Bahia in Werner Herzog's Cobra Verde - dedicated his weird 1983 feature Carne de tu Carne (retitled Bloody Flesh by One 7) to Roger Corman and Roman Polanski and watching the film it's hard to not see the influences of both filmmakers on the story. Mayolo conjurs some bizarre and unsettling imagery (including a turkey getting its head blown off by a shotgun at point blank range and a Harold Lloyd clone dry humping a tree) and incorporates the music of Elvis Presley and Bill Haley and the Comets into his sordid, haunting tale. It takes a while for the plot to make any progress, but once it does you might not be able to forget what you see.
One 7's presentation is pretty much what I expect from a company that lacks in the funding and resources to give their releases a halfway decent restoration. Bloody Flesh is crammed into a boxy 1.37:1 full frame transfer that looks rough and is rife with grain and other instances of print damage. The tinny Spanish 2.0 mono audio track (which your DVD or Blu-ray encoder will recognize as Italian for some unknown reason) suffers from severe deterioration and distortion. English subtitles are provided. The only bonus feature is a grainy theatrical trailer in Spanish without translation.
The Film: 3/5
Cast-Miroslava, Carlos Navarro, Jose Maria Linares-Rivas
Country of Origin-Mexico
Distributor-One 7 Movies
Finally we have another One 7 title that purports to be the first film of its kind ever made in Mexico. El Monstruo Resucitado (retitled Monster) was directed by the prolific Chano Urueta - who died in March 1979 at the age of 75 after having made over 100 features dating back to the late 1920's - and revolves around a comely female journalist becoming the unrequited attraction of a deformed mad scientist who looks like Lon Chaney's Phantom of the Opera if his make-up was created out of Silly Putty and dresses like the Shadow whenever he goes out of the town. To win the affection of his disgusted sweetheart the lunatic revives a young suicide victim with a fresh brain and uses him to get to her. If this all went according to plan we wouldn't have much a movie, now would we?
Monster is a goofy, Gothic Frankenstein riff made by a poor man's Mario Bava on a shoestring and it never fails to show. But in spite of its voluminous flaws the flick manages to be moderately entertaining in a good bad movie fashion. If any movie was in desperate need of a American editing hack job and redubbing it's this one. The 1.37:1 full frame presentation of a degraded Italian print doesn't disguise its excessive print damage - grain, shaking, missing frames, lines on the screen, etc. - but at least it's watchable. The Spanish 2.0 mono track has its share of problems and still does its job. English subtitles are also provided. Extras are limited to a gallery of poster art from Italy and Spain and an Italian photonovel adaptation available as a DVD-ROM feature.
The Film: 2/5
That's all for this week. Tune in next time when I return to the States for a hearty helping of indie horor from our own side of the Atlantic.