The Films (2.5/5)
OK, so here is the pitch Palisades-Tartan have released 3 of their more obscure catalog titles in this budget horror box set. Tartan films had a reputation for releasing some pretty cool obscure horror films, so I was excited to see them back in business with their first releases under the Palisades-Tartan banner. I was even more excited to find out that their older films would not be abandoned by Palisades. So how do these flicks stand up?
Carved: The Slit Mouthed Woman (4.5/5)
I heard heard about Carved: The Slit Mouthed Woman during it's initial release period a number of years back. During that time Tartan was promoting the Hell out of it, and I couldn't go to any movie-related website without seeing banner ads with pictures of the eponymous slit-mouthed woman. Then the reviews started coming in, and they were mostly negative. Seeing as I only have so much time in a day, I decided to skip it. I had seen a few stinkers that Tartan had put out, and figured this was another one of those. I have come to regret that decision.
I have been watching horror films pretty continuously since around the age of 7, and not many films scare me these days, but Carved was successful in that department. As the film started I let the influence of prior written reviews get to me, and how the only thing the film had going was the effects that created the slit-mouthed woman. I have no idea what these other critics were smoking, but Carved is a great slow burn of a horror film. It builds slowly, and works it's way into your psyche. It may not be that much of a visceral film, but the scares are definitely there.
The film tells the story of the slit-mouthed woman an urban legend in Japan that goes back to the 70's. This woman in the legend and the film abducts children each day at a certain time, takes them to her house, and carves slits into their face with a giant pair of shears before finally killing them. As the slit-mouth woman begins her reign of terror over this Japanese town, a couple of school teachers one of whom is connected to the slit-mouthed woman begin to investigate the murders and try to stop more of them before they occur.
I had watched Carved first, and that had gotten me excited for the other films in the set. I hadn't heard of the next 2, but hoped that they shared the same quality as Carved. I am sad to report they didn't. Sheitan is sort of like a Hostel film, meets an 80's slasher movie, gone through the head of early David Lynch films like Eraserhead and The Grandmother. As cool as that sounds the film didn't really work for me on any level.
The film tells the story about a group of French ravers who go out into the country for the weekend. When they arrive at one of their parent's country villa they meet Joseph (Vincent Cassel). Over the course of the weekend his behavior becomes more erratic, and the party begins to go to Hell, both figuratively and literally.
The film looks good, and Vincent Cassel as usual steals all the scenes he's in. However, the plot is a typical cliché horror plot, with a bit of Satanic weirdness thrown in to separate it from the pack. Unfortunately, the characters are for the most part unlikable, and the plot too derivative to truly recommend it.
Slaughter Night (1/5)
And speaking of films that are totally cliché we come to Slaughter Night (Sl8 N8?????). This film is one of the worst films I have seen in any genre for some time. It is badly shot, directed, and the writing is about on par with something like Happy Birthday to Me aka typical slasher film #1203. The film suffers from a mix of shaky cam, and sped up footage that does not befit the material.
The film tells the story of a group of dutch college kids who are on a trip to assist their friend Kristel(Victoria Koblenko) in picking up her late father's belongings from Belgium. This includes a manuscript about a local legend serial killer who allegedly died in a local mine centuries before. Of course the kids wander into the cave, play with a ouija board, and get picked off in typical slasher fashion. If you really want a good teen slasher film in a cave check out either version of My Bloody Valentine. However, if you want to have a slasher cliché drinking game then line this one up with Cherry Falls, and you'll have alcohol poisoning before the night is through.
Carved: The Slit Mouthed Woman (3/5)
Carved: The Slit Mouthed Woman is presented with a 1:82:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. The transfer is interlaced, but does not really affect the overall look of the film. The transfer is far from perfect and is a bit washed out in brighter scenes. But overall there is nothing to complain about.
Slaughter Night(Sl8N8) (4/5)
Slaughter Night is presented in a 1:85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. The transfer is near perfect considering the obviously DV source material. There is a little grain here and there, but nothing that truly stands out.
Sheitan is presented with a 1:85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. The transfer is far from perfect, and compression artifacts can be seen throughout the film, most notably in darker scenes. Also, the print appears slightly washed out during the lighter sequences, but this is probably more due to the 16mm source then problems with the actual transfer.
All 3 films are presented in their original languages (Dutch for Slaughter Night, French for Sheitan, and Japanese for Carved) in both 5.1 and 2.0 Dolby Digital and DTS transfer. T he sound throughout the features ranges from good to great. Everything is audible with mild grain in the tracks for Carved and Sheitan. However, the track for Slaughter Night is truly excellent, and makes good use of the creepy sound effects and music used throughout the film.
Carved : The Slit Mouthed Woman includes a featurette on the making of the film, the original trailer, and an interview with the director. It also includes trailers for other Tartan releases. Slaughter Night features the films original trailer, a series of outtakes, and a making of featurette. Sheitan includes a half an hour long making of documentary that gives some insight into the filmmakers, their history as a group making short films, and the making of process for Sheitan.
In my opinion Carved is the best film of the bunch, and well worth seeing. The other films might make good party films if you're looking for a slasher night with a bunch of friends, and you're not too focused on things like plot. However, I personally cannot recommend it except for Carved.