PALISADES TARTAN TERROR PACK VOL. 1
Reviewed by: Ryan Doom
Kim Chapiron, Shiraishi Koji, Frank Van Geloven and Edwin Visser
and Victoria Koblenko
What's it about
A collection of three films from different parts of the world: Sheitan (French), Carved: The Slit-Mouthed Woman (Japanese), and Slaughter Night (Dutch). All feature hot women, dumb men, killers and gore. Surprise, surprise.
Is it good movie?
When it comes to reviewing a collection of films, sometimes itís tough knowing what youíre going to get. Either the box set is a collection of garbage that wouldnít sell solo or itís a possible hidden gem; perhaps something sorta cool. Thankfully, Palisades Tartan Terror Pack Vol. 1 falls under the latter with a snapshot of films from across the globe. The three films Ė Sheitan, Carved: The Slit-Mouthed Woman, and Slaughter Night Ė are all part of the excellent Tartan Video line, which has been pleasantly consistent in finding and releasing quality genre foreign flicks. If a DVD has their logo splashed across the top of the box, itís usually worth a look. And this box set is no different.
First, letís start with the French, who have always been known for inventive film technique. And while the first movie in the set, Sheitan, isnít exactly inventive, it does manage to create one crazy ass redneck character in Joseph (played by Vincent Cassel). Probably best known for his roles in the Ocean movies, Cassel plays his redneck (a sort of a hyper-Deliverance-type) as a goofy psycho. He grins like generic comic book villain, and acts like one too. In the beginning, his character is tough to place as it all starts rooted in reality as a group of French party boys and their girls are booted from a club. Seeking adventure, they travel to a strangerís home with the promise of a good time. Once they arrive at Josephís farm in the sticks of France, Casselís character explodes onto the screen like a cartoon villain, grinning like an idiot and laughing like aÖwell, idiot. Initially, his character seems meant for another movie, but quickly Sheitan escapes reality and enters into another dimension, a place where a crazed hillbilly needs human eyes to complete his porcelain doll collection. Everything here (once on the farm) is over-the-top in every capacity, but it takes a little too long for things to get nutty, leaving the film unbalanced. However, once the blood starts to flow, thereís no turning back. Definitely very high on the gore index and its worth a look for Casselís effectively bizarre performance.
Whoever said nothing in life is certain was full of it. Because if anything is a sure bet, itís that a Japanese horror film will contain a killer female ghost who was wronged long ago. Carved: The Slit-Mouthed Woman does just that. This time, the ghost closely resembles The Dark Knightís Joker sans the makeup or the killer laugh. Like all creepy villains, director Shiraishi Koji evokes quality character gimmicks ala classic slashers like Freddy, Jason, or Mikey M. Slit-Mouth sports a trench coat, wears a surgical mask, and slaughters with some seriously long and sharp scissors. The big difference comes from her catch phrase: ďAm I pretty?Ē Yeah, itís not really a wow phrase, but it works within the context of the story. See, the ghost is picking off school kids and everyone knows. The teachers soon discover, however, the truth behind who the killer is. Usually, I dig Japanese horror (or J-horror, but do I really need to call it that? Is the word Japanese too long or something?), but this one didnít grab me. It felt gimmicky. Too set-up. A movie needs to feel natural and not like an idea formed on a cocktail napkin. The characters never felt true, or maybe all the characters were just too damned depressed for me. I guess thatís what a Slit-Mouth killer will do to folks. Regardless, for fans of J-horror (there, I said it), Carved: The Slit-Mouthed Woman is still worth a look.
Third of the batch is the Dutch flick Slaughter Night, which plays like a hybrid of the original My Bloody Valentine and the Denzel Washington movie Fallen. The action unfolds in an abandoned mineshaft, and it features a body-hopping ghost. Whether thatís the way the producers pitched the story I donít know, but directors Frank Van Geloven and Edwin Visser combine the best elements out of both: character and story. Unlike the remake of My Bloody (which was perhaps one of the dumbest, most insulting films Iíve seen of late) Slaughter Night is the best of the pack with not only scary shit and excellent gore, but with believable characters who I cared if they lived or died. The film starts with a bang with daughter losing her father in a painful car wreck. To escape her grief, she and some friends go to the mine where her dad studied voodoo, and they decide to take a tour. (Doesnít your dad study the occult at an old, closed mine?) What follows is more or less an excellent play on the slasher film. Thereís an evil spirit who violently (i.e. a lot of blood flows) takes out one tour member after another. Unlike the previous two films, the pacing here is consistent throughout and the tension develops naturally 100 feet below the surface. Sure, itís obvious that a ghost will try to destroy them all within the first 20 minutes of the movie, but thereís enough balance in character and plot to make it not appear clichťd.
Video / Audio
Video: Each film is a pretty Widescreen presentation. Crisp and clear.
Audio: Presented with the power of 5.1 Dolby Surround (All are in their original language. Prepare to read, folks).
Making of Sheitan: Itís pretty impressive to learn that a group of punk filmmakers some how convinced a quality actor like Cassel to act not just in this film, but in a series of shorts too. All in French.
Making of Carved Somehow I always know what to expect from an Asian film in terms of behind-the-scenes. Itís always with a bad camcorder and everyone involved gives in-depth descriptions of their characters. I didnít say it was a bad thing. Just predictable.
Cast Interview Standard issue stuff, but I love that the star of the film welcoming viewers and thanking them for buying a copy of the movie. Youíre welcome.
Making of Slaughter Night: Pretty standard behind-the-scenes glance at the creation of the film.
Outtakes: Somehow I find outtakes for horror movie uncomfortable. It creeps me out seeing actors have a good old laugh while covered in blood. Odd, I know.
An excellent collection of films that serves as a great sample platter of what the world has to offer in the world of horror. None of the films here are four-star classics, but each provide a great glimpse into the genre. Especially Slaughter Night.