Friday, January 9, 2009

Flesh For The Beast

If you like horror films, you are going to end up watching a lot of turkeys. The genre doesn’t get a lot of publicity, and reviews in general of horror movies tend to be on the negative side, as a lot of critics (following the lead of Pauline Kael) don’t like them from the start. So you watch the movies, sifting through the trash to try to find the odd gem, and discover, in the process, it is a lot easier to make an appealing boxcover than an appealing film.

Which brings us to Flesh For The Beast, which has a decent boxcover without much movie inside it. The plot is basically a reworking of The Haunting Of Hill House, if it had been written by Shoeless Joe Jackson instead of Shirley Jackson.* A group of dim-witted psychic researchers are brought to a haunted house (which used to be a whorehouse) to investigate. Unbeknownst to them, the man who hired them wants to use them to find a magic amulet, which has the power to…do something, I suppose. Anyway, the researchers immediately split up (of course) and the same scene is repeated over and over: Idiot researcher walks into a room, where there is a woman who shouldn’t be there. Despite the fact that he has been brought to the house to look for ghosts, the possibility the unknown woman might be one never occurs to him. She strips, sexes him up, then there is a cut to the woman-ghost wearing a Wal-Mart quality mask, and she rips him to shred. The repetition and the number of sex scenes are reminiscent of a porn flick, except porn usually has a better script. The film also uses the most static camera I have ever seen. The only time the camera moves is to slowly pan up and down during the unavoidable shower scene.

One interesting note for the horror fan: Most of the characters are named after horror writers. There is a Jack Ketchum, a Douglas Clegg, a Stoker and a Shelley. This could be an homage, or, considering how stupid these characters are, the filmmaker may have a grudge against the named authors. Avoid this.

* Shoeless Joe Jackson is widely believed to have been illiterate. That’s the joke, such that it is.

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