Thanatomorphose

All posts tagged Thanatomorphose

Horror on National Canadian Film Day

Published April 29, 2015 by vfdpixie

Today is National Canadian Film Day, where we celebrate Canadian film and the talented people who create them.  Known for our legendary politeness, the letter “u” in some of our words, and hockey (not true for me, although I’d rather go to a hockey game than a basketball game any day-gasp!!), we are also pretty handy with a moving picture camera.

Some of those moving pictures involve gallons of blood and gore.  Canadian horror has a strong foothold in Movieland, with a lot of them becoming classics, and I am proud to say that there are way too many to include here, so I will focus on a few of my favourites (see, there’s that pesky “u”).

 

One of my favourite directors is David Cronenberg.  He has the best recipe for weirdness and mood, and coupled with his talent and incredible style, creates horror that will make you cringe and marvel at the grotesque beauty he shows you.  It’s hard to choose, but the film that creeps me out every time is Dead Ringers.  This twisted story of twin gynecologists Elliot and Beverly Mantle and their deception of a troubled woman makes me shiver.  The bizarre instruments twin Beverly creates are a nightmare for any woman that’s been laid out and vulnerable in a doctor’s stirrups.

 

 

 

 

Plain and simple, Martyrs will scar you forever.  This revenge film with a twist leaves you reeling as you watch Lucie and Anna struggle for the truth, and when they do, it leads to gruesome and deadly results.

 

 

 

 

Silent Retreat has been on the Canadian horror radar since it’s premiere at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival in 2013.  One of the more unique films out there, it follows Janey as she is forced to stay at a retreat for wayward girls that becomes truly sinister.

 

 

Director Tricia Lee is hard at work on her next feature, One Drop, expected to be released in late 2016.  It is another female driven horror, where a single mother wakes up to find herself pregnant, surrounded by dead bodies and “something not-quite-human” in the basement of a medical facility.  Check out the indigogo campaign to contribute to what sounds like another unique and thrilling Canadian horror story.

 

 

 

Of Unknown Origin is straight up cheesy horror, but Peter Weller does a great job trying to kick a giant rat’s ass.  Definitely a late night treasure.

 

 

 

 

Of course, I have to mention the Soska Twins.  Jen and Sylvia have become horror darlings because they create gory films like Dead Hooker in a Trunk that become fan favourites, and mine is probably American Mary.  Stylish and dark, this revenge flick follows a medical student who provides back room body modification for extra money.  After a horrible violation, she creates her own unique way of punishing those that cross her.

 

 

 

 

For pure weirdness and the special effects, check out Thanatomorphose.  It is body horror at its best (or worst, you’ll have to decide), and it is truly a must see, but don’t eat dinner while watching.

 

 

 

Check out Ejecta for a cool alien/conspiracy/found footage movie.  Written by Canadian author Tony Burgess, who also wrote and (acted in) Hellmouth, Septic Man, and Pontypool, it is dark, jarring and has some really mean aliens.

 

 

 

 

Just recently I went to a screening of Late Night Double Feature.  For a low-budget film, it is full of fun and schlock and most importantly, homegrown!

 

 

 

Lastly, a new film in production called The Void looks pretty amazing.  The creators Steven Kostanski and Jeremy Gillespie are striving for great practical effects, and the trailer is really eerie with all kinds of gory goodness!  Check out their indiegogo campaign for more info and a chance to contribute.

 

 

 

Let me know what some of your favourite Canadian horror films are!

 

 

Contracted and Disturbed

Published May 5, 2014 by vfdpixie

contracted

Contracted  (2013, 1 hr 18 mins)

During the first 15 minutes of Contracted, I decided not to write a review or finish watching it because I had seen a similar film, Thanatomorphose, at the Blood in the Snow Film Festival last October.  I had read comparisons between the two films and was curious about their similarities.   After sticking it out to the end, however, I changed my mind.  Contracted is the layman’s version of the more avant-garde, artsy Thanatomorphose, becoming almost a better film at times because of a more straightforward plot.

Sam (Najarra Townsend) is a listless, somewhat needy young woman who is a recovered addict.  She is clinging to a failed relationship with Nikki (Kate Stegeman), avoiding advances from the slightly stalkerish Riley (Matt Mercer), who doesn’t quite get that Sam is a lesbian, and bumping heads with her mother (horror veteran Caroline Williams).  One night at her friend’s party, she drinks a tad too much and meets a stranger who drugs her and forces unprotected sex on her.  Oh, and the stranger?  A total creep and necrophiliac.  Sam awakens the next day to a strange period and horrible cramps.  What ensues is a documentation of 3 panic-stricken days where her deteriorating health becomes the consequence of that unwanted, creepy “one-night stand”.

As I watched Contracted, I saw how easy it was to compare it to the Canadian film Thanatomorphose, and as I said before, I was going to skip a review, and the film, all together.  But as the story progressed, I gave it a chance.  I must say that yes, the two films are very similar in terms of the subject matter:  the literal physical and mental decay of a female protagonist in 3 acts, however, Contracted gave the viewer an origin of Sam’s ailment.  The backdrop of a sexually transmitted disease was an interesting take on her transformation into a monster, giving us a visceral account of what happens with unsafe sex and the lack of understanding from Sam’s family and peers.  Thanatomorphose is definitely an art house film, with less direction except for the main character’s obvious decay, leaving a lot of room for speculation as to why she literally dissolves (you can read my review here).

I did have a few issues with Contracted.  I really wanted to know the origins of the necrophiliac, B.J. (played by indie darling and writer/actor of V/H/S and V/H/S 2 Simon Barrett).  The pacing was a little on the slow side (although not as slow as Thanatomorphose), and there were a couple of unbelievable moments like Sam being forced to wait on tables with what looks like a raging case of pink eye and horrible, graying skin.  I don’t know any food server that would be allowed to work in Sam’s condition.  There was also a love scene that was used for obvious shock and gore value, but I challenge anyone to tell me that a touch of makeup and a candlelit room is enough to hide horrific mouth sores and hideously veined skin.  I mean, you are kissing that mouth and NO ONE is that love-sick or horny.  And there was the matter of her being date raped.  That fact seemed to be glossed over as a drunken interlude by her friends, family, ex-girlfriend and doctor which was very disturbing and seemed to make her more of a pariah as her illness progressed.  To be clear (since the director was not), a “one-night stand” and sexual assault are not the same thing.  Finally, Sam’s doctor was a judgemental moron.  I don’t know if the healthcare issue in the U.S. is that bad, but any healthcare worker worth their salt would have admitted her to a hospital immediately after her second visit.  At least in Thanatomorphose, Laura’s reluctance to see a doctor was consistent with her isolation.  As an aside, I also found out that Thanatomorphose was the first of the two films to be released (in October 2012), with director Eric England coming in a close second, apparently writing Contracted in March 2012, filming it in May of the same year, and releasing it in 2013.  Interesting tidbits on these sisters from different misters.

Despite those issues, I did like that Sam was a lesbian, which was a refreshing characterization and really added to the plot, her assault and her contracting this disease, and Townsend did a good job of keeping Sam’s growing panic consistent.  Thanatomorphose had the most unsettling special effects makeup I have seen to date, but Contracted did well for a low-budget film, making me cringe several times as Sam’s body transformed and decayed.  The third day, or act, was also quite good; a culmination of the first two days that snowballed into some really grotesque and horrific scenes, as well as Sam’s final moments in the film.  I also liked the storyline and the paranoia it created around the already real and scary premise of contracting a deadly disease through sex.  There is also talk of a sequel which I normally would look upon with dismay, but I’m actually curious about what director Eric England will bring us.

If you want excruciating, vile and food for thought (gulp!), watch Thanatomorphose.  If you want more mainstream, but still indie, with a slightly (but only slightly) more digestible storyline, watch Contracted.  Both body horrors deal with a woman, her body and loss of control, which to me, is quite horrific.

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