Alex Davis leads an interesting life. As he tells it in this first volume of what will become an ongoing series of reprints of his web reviews, in January 2015 he answered the call from the Ginger Nuts of Horror website for new writers to sign up and, while they were about it, pitch in with new ideas. I know, said Alex, how about I start watching the most extreme and disturbing horror movies it’s possible to find, and write about them once a week? Great, came the response, and off he went down the helter-skelter of depravity to the film gutter - a place that, based on this evidence, only the most stoical of STARBURST readers should consider inhabiting…
Davis casts a wide net, seeking out hoary old classics as well as the scum de la scum of modern visual atrocity. So it is that more recent works like Lars Von Trier’s Antichrist and the Human Centipede trilogy rub shoulders with venerable old gut-wrenchers like the Guinea Pig and Nekromantick series from the 1980s and 1974’s scatological epic Sweet Movie. All are reviewed with breezy insightfulness by our strong-stomached hero, truly taking one for the team so that we don’t have to. Not that he doesn’t make compelling cases for viewing quite a few of these films, often on the basis of really strong performances and storytelling. We’ve made a secret watch-list.
Mind you, if you are tempted to seek out any of the ‘rarer’ material, you may be surprised at how easy it is to find via a cursory online search. Men Behind the Sun, T.F Mou’s notoriously queasy depiction of war atrocities committed by the Japanese at Unit 731? It’s on YouTube, completely uncut, for example. Then there’s the movies you’d be well advised to seriously think twice about, that even the heroic Davis finds seriously difficult viewing. Exhibit A: the Vomit Gore Trilogy, in his words “the pinnacle of sick cinema”, the very existence of which will surprise some people when they find out the content. Although the title is a bit of a giveaway. And no, that one isn’t on YouTube uncut. Just a sort of fussy zoomed-in version. Not that we were looking for it.
And yet, though you may never wish to set eyes on some of the seriously extreme offerings here, it’s hard to deny the creative impetus behind them. For anyone who experienced the underground art-horror boom of the 1980s, there’s an odd pleasure in discovering that characters like Vomit Gore director Lucifer Valentine are still ploughing the kind of extreme furrow once inhabited by transgressive rat packers like Richard Kern and Jörg Buttgereit. High five, Lucifer.
This is a great little volume, all the better for opening up the field of inquiry to include short films, which would otherwise fly under the radar. Hopefully Davis will continue to unearth enough unspeakable cinematic expulsions to keep this up for a good while yet.
FILM GUTTER VOLUME 1: A YEAR OF EXTREME HORROR / AUTOR: ALEX DAVIS / PUBLISHER: CREATESPACE INDEPENDENT PUBLISHING PLATFORM / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW