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Thursday, June 21, 2018
I know that at the heart of it all AGFA is trying to rescue films from obscurity, trying to offer them with the best presentation possible and saving movies that might otherwise be lost to the world forever. But there is also a large part of me that gives credit to people who at least attempt to make a movies, a large part that says ALL films should be saved from disappearing to the ravages of vinegar syndrome or the trash heap, at the same time a small part of me says maybe there are some movies that with the exception of friends and family of those film makers the world might be a better place for not being exposed to a particular film. Case in point THE SOULTANGLER.
Promoted on the box as similar to RE-ANIMATOR but shot in New Jersey I found so little of it similar that I couldn’t comprehend the comparison. I saw some green fluid but there were other colors as well. During the commentary track the director said his lead actor looked like Jeffrey Combs but I’ve seen people on the street who looked more like him. And the similarity of creating zombies of the dead is not limited to RE-ANIMATOR. So ignore the claim and look at the film on its own…merits?
The story involves a Dr. Anton Lupesky who is kicked out of the hospital he works in for doing experiments deemed unworthy of such an institute. Coming back to the same town a few years later Lupesky has developed a serum that transfers the souls of one person into the deceased body of another. Except that they come back as zombies. A reporter is doing research on the story and, as with all good reporters, eventually finds herself with the possibility of becoming a part of the story she has no desire to be.
In reading that description, and not giving myself credit, it is much more entertaining than the actual film itself. I am a lover of low budget films but this movie transcends low budget and delves into the world of no budget. When your secret lab looks like what it is, the basement of someone’s home, then you know you have a problem.
I’ve tried to think of something positive to say about the film but there isn’t much that deserves it. Beginning with the script we have a terrible amount of bad story telling going on here. Far too much of the story is being told to us via narrators or letters being written and read. One entire segment is a letter being read while images of an abandoned institution is on display with boarded and broken windows. Uh okay how about a little more explanation than that? I just finished watching Hitchcock’s DIAL M FOR MURDER in which almost all of the film takes place in a single room. Plenty of exposition is in the script as characters discuss possibilities of what actually happened. Five minutes of that film rivals anything seen in this film’s entirety.
The acting is subpar throughout in spite of the director in the commentary track giving praise to different cast members. A recent high school production of ANNIE I saw which had some terrible acting on display (not all but some) showed more potential than the actors here.
The film was shot on 16mm and it shows. I’ve seen some films shot on 16mm in the past that were blown up and transferred and they actually looked pretty good. This is not one of those films.
The special effects, the mainstay of any gore fueled horror film, are for the most part weak here. Far too many images of just blood smeared on someone or squirting into the face of Lupesky are used. But at least there were two segments that allow me to say something good about the movie. One involved a dream sequence in which the reporter peels away a portion of her own forearm that was well done. The second involved the doctor’s henchmen having had his head not quite severed from his body who stands up and pursues the reporter, head hanging on by a thread. While it wasn’t amazing to see it was well done and kudos to the make-up man for that image.
I will, in the end, still believe that all films should be preserved and saved from obscurity. Films like this one may make it difficult to believe that and continue to encourage it but they do. Some people will watch this and love the low-budget of it all, the attempt to create something from nothing, to make a horror film that intends to frighten even if it inspires raucous laughter instead. For those people this will be an item to pick up, to watch while incredibly drunk as you roll around on the floor in spasms of laughter. For the rest of is it does have one beneficial aspect to it. When you’re facing a night of insomnia put this one in the player and I can almost guarantee you that within minutes you’ll find yourself dozing off.
Extras include the commentary audio track with director Pat Bishowl, an unseen 62 minute alternate director’s cut, behind the scenes footage, trailers for this film & DEAD OF NIGHT TOWN, a music video for “Wave” by Hypnolovewheel and liner notes by Bleeding Skull’s Zack Carlson. I’m stunned that a movie like this has this many extras included while some great movies are being released with none. View at your own risk.
Click here to order.
Click here to order.