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HARPOON: WHALE WATCHING MASSACRE
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Reviewed by: Dave Murray

Directed by: Júlíus Kemp

Starring:
Gunnar Hansen
Pihla Viitala
Nae Yuuki

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about
A group of a-hole tourists go whale watching, and thanks to the token Frenchman, their captain dies in an accident. Stranded off of the coast of Iceland, they are picked up by a family of crazy whalers with a serious hate on for "save the whales" types. Screaming and gore ensue. I have a feeling it would be easier and safer for the family to illegally hunt whales instead of people, but then we wouldn't have a slasher flick, so what do I know!?
Is it good movie?
Damn! We don't see very many films coming out of Iceland, but this just might be one of the better made foreign horror flicks this year. Much like Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Hills Have Eyes, this movie involves tourists getting abducted and butchered by a family of crazies, in this case Icelandic whalers who have displaced by economic sanctions brought on by environmental activists like Greenpeace (lovingly referred to as "Green Piss" in the flick). So they are pissed at the disappearance of their way of life, so what do they do - they live on their whaling boat and occasionally slaughter groups of whale watchers.

While the movie doesn't offer very many surprises story wise, one of the glaring story points is at the same time off putting and a draw that brings the audience deeper into the narrative. Almost every single character, from the killers on down to the tourists, is so repugnant that you actually cheer when one of them is killed. The nastier the death (and there are some quite creative kills here) the bigger the cheer. These are characters that you want to see die. They are so mercenary about their own survival, it brings a feeling of realism to the goings on. If you hear somebody screaming as they're being butchered are you going to run to the rescue like a brain dead hero type? No, you're gonna hide and wait for a chance to escape. If you finally find an escape boat, are you going to hang around or go back for other survivors? No, just get the f*ck out of there! While some douche decisions are pretty harsh (a rape victim asks another girl for help, and she just walks away), most are deserved and give us a "every mook for himself" vibe that makes the movie all the more delicious.

Horror legend Gunnar Hansen (Leatherface!) makes a brief appearance and the whale watching captain, but the biggest standout from the cast is Pihla Viitala as the German girl who seems to have no luck at all. Good actress, great to look at, and she was thoroughly convincing through all of the shite she went through. Which is a good job in my books, because the movie is brutal. The violence is there in your face, with no quick cuts and a hell of a lot of creativity. This is how horror violence should be, and it makes me giddy when someone has the guts (pun intended) to do it right.

In the end, it's a well shot flick. Director Kemp keeps the pacing tight and the tension high, making what could have been a boring by the numbers kill-fest into an engaging hellride. The movie looks great, with an oppressive and disgusting atmosphere that only a run down whaling boat can provide. I had an awesome time with Harpoon, and I'm sure fans of this subgenre will as well.
Video / Audio
Video: 2.35:1 Widescreen. The movie looked awesome, very stark, dreary and washed out.

Audio: English Dolby 5.1 Surround, with subtitles for the Icelandic dialogue.
The Extras
We get a Trailer for the flick, and a short Making Of Documentary, that is mostly an interview with horror legend Gunnar Hansen. It's a nice short watch, and Hansen seems like a great guy with a lot of stories to tell.
Last Call
A well made, sweet looking and brutal to the core movie, Harpoon is not to be missed. These whalers are utterly merciless (which I don't see why, whale doesn't taste nearly as yummy as seal, especially in a seal salad sandwich), and the strong cast performances and mercenary character types help to sell the story and amp the tension. Maybe Iceland is not a good place to be a whale hugger? Just thinking. Topical and violent, this is one survival slasher that's original and worth a look.
ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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