In 1908, an inbred hillbilly (played by, who else, Newhart’s William Sanderson) had decapitated a family member, and is brought to a spooky asylum. A maniacal intern realizes that the face-like deformity on the man’s back is actually intelligent, and his obsession with cracking the mystery unleashes all sorts of horrors.
On the commentary track, the filmmakers joke the seizure-inducing editing style. They aren’t kidding. The film jumps back and forth between B&W and colour a…d flashes disconnected images at the viewer at a pace that makes a strobe light look like a lava lamp. While the sudden glimpses of extreme gore and mysterious juxtapositions create an immediate sense of nightmare, the technique becomes rather tiring over the long run. The visual sense remains the film strong point, though, as the performances are amateurish, pitched far too far over the top, with the dialogue shouted rather than delivered, said dialogue careening wildly between modern vernacular and pseudo-Lovecraftian verbosity. Deliberate camp in the vein of Re-Animator prehaps? I’m not sure. It didn’t work for me, but there is talent birthing here. Individual moments of the film would have made superbly nightmarish short features.
On the positive side, there is a great, ominously echoing, huge sound to the score and the sound effects. This helps no end in establishing the atmosphere. Nice bass to the music, too. On the downside, there are moments where the dialogue migrates very distractingly to the rear speakers, where it has no business being. The distortion levels are pretty high, too. The low budget must be factored in, but the problems are there all the same.
Again, the budget means perfection should not be expected. That said, the results are generally very impressive. Black-and-white tones and colours are both very strong, depending on which mode the films is in at any given moment. There is some grain, but this is not a problem with the transfer. Blacks are excellent, and the gore is a deep crimson. There is enough handsome work on-screen that one might be fooled into thinking, at first, that the film is more expensive and polished than it really is.
The previously mentioned filmmakers commentary (with writers/directors Thom Maurer and Barrett Klausman, and exec-producer Koko Polosajian) can get pretty silly, but is also quite irreverent, leading to some juicy gossip at times. The storyboard animatic is extremely short, but there is also a storyboard gallery. There is also the usual batch of trailers.
There is promise here, but it hasn’t be fulfilled yet. Maybe next time.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary
- Storyboard Animatic
- Storyboard Gallery