Stoker: An Insane Family Drama

CineNiche: Stoker Graphic Design
It is good to know that Chan-Wook Park's deviant style was not watered down for American audiences.  J.S.A., Old Boy, Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance, Lady Vengeance, and Thirst are films that deal with revenge, incest, and obsession.  They are filled with complex characters whose motives whether extreme or subtle are always understood through the course of the narrative.

In Stoker we are given the privilege of seeing excellent performances from Nicole Kidman, Mia Wasikowska, and Matthew Goode.  The story unfolds slowly which provides a great pay off in the end.

After the death of Richard Stoker, the patriarch, his brother Charles moves in with the family.  From the very beginning we sense something is off with uncle Charley.  He comforts the non-too-grief-stricken Evelyn while trying to get close to his niece.  When people who know of his past enter the picture, they mysteriously go missing soon after.  India is very curious of her uncle's re-entry into their lives and his motives.  During her investigation she learns not only the truth of his past, but about herself as well.

We highly recommend Stoker for audiences who enjoy twisted family dramas.  If you're not willing to wait a while for explanation, then this may not be the right film for you.


Cannibal Holocaust: A Study Guide


Cannibal films are a subgenre of the Italian Exploitation films made during the 70's – 80's.

Origins: An extension of Mondo Films and Rainforest Adventure Films

Mondo Films were a precursor to the Faces Of Death series. They promised exotic locales, gore, and cruelty – not to mention “real death.”

Mondo in Italian translates to “world”

Rainforest Adventure films were as their category suggests, action films dealing with heroes in peril in the jungle. The Naked Prey (1966) and The Man From Deep River AKA Sacrifice! (1972)

A list of Mondo titles: Mondo Cane (1962), Mondo Bizarro, Mondo Daytona, Mondo Mod, Mondo Infame, Mondo Hollywood, Mondo Trasho, Mondo Weirdo, Mondo Keyhole, Mondo Brutale (German title for Last House On The Left), Mondo Sex, Mondo Sexualis, Mondo Elvis, Mondo Lugosi, Mondo Teeno, Mondo Rocco (Queer sub-culture documentary), Mondo Topless, Mondo New York, Mondo Di Notte, Mondo Balardo, Mondo Fresh

1977-1981 became known as “The Cannibal Boom”

Mountain Of The Cannibal God (1978)  Cannibal Holocaust (1980)  Eaten Alive (1980)  Cannibal Ferox AKA Make Them Die Slowly (1981)  Natura Contro (1988)


Cannibal Holocaust 1980 Rated X
Directed by Ruggero Deodato
also by: House On The Edge Of The Park
Last Cannibal World
Profane Exhibit (2013)

Most cannibal films were allegorical tales of anti-imperialsim. However, within their film making process, they actually represented the threat of imperialism themselves. By traveling to South America and exploiting the natives to create a film about the brutality of western civilization, the filmmakers actually embodied the true threat. Cannibal Holocaust represents the worst of this hypocrisy. The film is mostly comprised of the “found footage” from a missing team of journalists. When the tapes are edited we find the true horror was not committed by the natives, but in fact by the journalists. Their assignment was to utilize objectivity when documenting the tribes, but instead they fuel a war between them. During the making of the film, Deodato and the crew exploited the two tribes and actually created turmoil between them that hadn't been there before.

By combining elements of Mondo and Jungle Adventure films, Deodato created the prototype for the found footage film. The film was protested and pulled from theaters after only a one month run. An investigation ensued and Deodato was put on trial for murder. Everyone believed he had the journalists killed and that his creation was actually a snuff film. The actors and actresses signed a contract that forced them into silence and out of the spotlight. Once the trial commenced, Deadoto provided the judge with said contract, yet he still did not believe the filmmaker. The contract was then destroyed and the actors came forth - all except one. The judge was still not convinced, since the actor in question had a death that looked too real. Deodato then had the special effects team come in and demonstrate how the kill was created. The judge finally threw out the murder charge but fined him for obscenity and cruelty to animals. They forced him to cut the film, and by the time he attempted to re-release, it was entered into the list of Video Nasties and thus banned.

Under the Video Recordings Act of 1984, the release and distribution of obscene material became illegal. Any film without classification was immediately pulled from circulation. If you were caught with any one of the “nasties,” you could actually serve jail time. Cannibal underwent additional editing, yet could not get a classification/rating. So the film sat in limbo for years and garnered a mythical hype. Some refer to it as the most heavily banned film ever made, yet the director stated that the film has grossed nearly $200 Million during its various truncated theatrical runs. Nevertheless, its cult status is firmly engraved into the hearts of gorehounds the world over.

With Eli Roth's Green Inferno terrorizing audiences soon, we hope this study guide will prepare you for the flesh eating extravaganza.


The Purge: An Economic Nightmare

Here is another example of semi-independent cinema.  The Purge was made for 3 million and grossed more than 30 million in its opening weekend which hopefully allows more original concepts through the studio doors.

Since the collapse of our economy the film industry has made it a point to only fund remakes, sequels, and adaptations.  They only put up funds on guarantees.  During the last ten years there have been films based on original concepts, but they have been created independently then purchased by studios and in some cases serialized after-the-fact.  Saw is an example of this, the original was funded by the Saturn Award received by its makers, then done to death by Lion's Gate.  Now this was done in the 80's with Michael, Freddy, Chucky, Jason, and Pinhead.  They were icons created by the economic turmoil suffered then.  So, as anything tried and true, the cycle is back.  Instead of creating new icons (except Jigsaw) all of the 80's maniacs have a remake/reboot - including Maniac.  It may seem as though we are digressing from a review of The Purge, but economics plays a huge part in the film's commentary.

We all know the premise: violence, terrorism, and homelessness are at an all time low because the government has sanctioned one night a year where all crime is legal.  There was an unmentioned revolt against the government and the "new founding fathers" emerged.  Through the realization that all of humankind has a darkness that must have an outlet, they created the annual purge.  And like any government decision, they had ulterior motives.  This is where the commentary truly comes into play.

With our current state of economic turmoil and a spotlight on the divide between the wealthy and the poor, The Purge criticizes the way our government wishes to make laws that will keep them within the upper crust no matter how it affects the rest of society.  The annual purge has not effected the rich until the night in which the film takes place.  James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) deals in advanced security systems made entirely for the purpose of protecting your home during the purge.  The bourgeoisie can, of course, afford the security which means they do not face the annual chaos.  Only the poor feel the wrath.

The reason poverty levels and homelessness statistics are drastically reduced yearly is because they are killed and taken out of the equation.  James' son Charlie (Max Burkholder) lets in a homeless man and the family comes face to face with the reality of the purge.  Another interesting facet of the film's commentary is that if this cycle of killing the poor continues, eventually those that are currently wealthy will be considered poor and hunted ad continuum.

On the surface, the film shows that when it comes to economics the only wallets our government care about are their own.  Beneath that, it adds an additional voice that advocates extreme cinema.  While as a home invasion film, it lacks the terrifying beauty of the sub-genre's French counterparts Ils, Inside, Martyrs, and High Tension or even Funny Games (original or remake) or The Strangers.  It does admit everyone has a dark side and needs an outlet.  Horror's love by its viewers comes from this safe catharsis that emerges from the audience's relationship with the film.  So while The Purge is not horrific, or filled with surprises it has a lot to say - too bad it was created to cater to mass audiences.

Rating: III/V