Ratings Key



★★★★
= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
★★★
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Il bosco fuori (2006)

... aka: Italian Chainsaw
... aka: Last House in the Woods, The
... aka: Last Refuge, The
... aka: Out of the Woods

Directed by:
Gabriele Albanesi

Little Andrea (Francesco Lopez) and his parents are traveling down a country road late at night when they pop a tire on broken glass, go off the road and hit a tree. Dad is instantly killed, so mom and son start walking. Instead of pulling over to help, a car heading their way runs over the mom, who strangely doesn't even attempt to move out of the way with a speeding car barreling down on her. A man dressed in a trench coat and hat gets out, finished her off with a rock and then throws her in the car and takes off. The boy witnesses it all and then wanders into the woods. We next meet teenagers Aurora (Daniela Virgilio) and Rino (Daniele Grassetti) and that turns out to be a very unfortunate thing as it takes both all of two minutes to make us hate them with every fiber of our being. During a flashback to better days, the insecure, whiny and needy Rino demands to know all of Aurora's past sexual partners; a list so extensive that even she cannot keep it straight. He then tells her, "I want you to make love... but I want you to draw... It'll be a masterpiece" (?!) And yeah, well... OK... that happens. Since those bygone days of experimental art, the magic has worn off and the two have parted ways. Kind of. They're still kind of fucking and he's still kind of trying to force a relationship with her even though she's not the least bit interested since she's pretty much an insensitive bitch. Can someone please chop these two up already?





After Aurora and Rino create another "masterpiece" in a parked car out in the sticks, a trio of extremely obnoxious, thuggish, foul-mouthed ("I wanna fuck a virrrrrgin!") drug dealers accost them. Rino gets knocked out and Aurora is dragged off to the side of the road. They dry hump her, put a switchblade to her neck and then the ringleader, Cesare (David Pietroni), forces her head into his crotch and says "First things first, you give me a blowjob right here and now. Nice and sweet like an appetizer." Thankfully (she thinks), middle-aged couple Antonio (Gennaro Diana) and Clara (Santa De Santis) come along just in the nick of time. Antonio pulls a gun, chases the thugs off and invites the traumatized duo back to their home. Antonio offers to let Aurora use the phone to call the police and report the incident, but she declines: "No, that's alright. I'd rather forget about it." Next thing she knows, Antonio is heading after her with a syringe trying to sedate her. She runs off, finds her pseudo-boyfriend tied up in one of the rooms and instead of, you know, untying him, she cries and kisses him for a few minutes before escaping out the window; just leaving him there to be killed.





After running around in the woods for a spell, Aurora finds a camper, goes inside and then encounters the deadly couple's two grown "sons." One is a spastic hillbilly retard with a half-burnt face and the other has a ridiculously huge boil on his neck. Aurora is knocked out, brought back to the house and tied to a chair, where the warped family are sitting around a table watching their youngest child Giulio (Fabiano Malantrucco) eat. You see, Giulio has a jacked-up grill which means he's not so much interested in things like Gogurt and Pop Tarts. Instead, he wants to eat raw human flesh. Being the loving parents they are, ma and pa are eager to comply with his his wishes because when your child demands something, even if that something is killing people so he can eat them, you just have to give it to them, right? So junior eats a leg. The leg belonged to Rino. The Leatherface wannabe son then lays into him with the chainsaw, severing one of his arms and ripping open his chest from top to bottom in the process. It's worth pointing out that after this occurs, every time they show the dead Rino, the massive stomach wound has mysteriously disappeared and his shirt is perfectly intact. At the very end, our heroine even goes up to him and tries to engage him in conversation, believing he is still alive despite the fact he's had an arm and leg hacked off, was gutted, sprayed about three gallons of blood directly in her face and hasn't budged in the past three or four hours regardless of all the commotion going on around him. The rapist thugs eventually show up at the house, so the family starts slaughtering them and they start slaughtering the family and then there's some prepubescent Boxing Helena and then all the pain finally goes away.





Because the movie really flings around the red stuff in its second half, the genre press couldn't wait to break out the knee pads and get to work proclaiming this the big return to the glory days of Italian horror. Dario Argento and Sergio Martino still have red cheeks from the slap they received. Just like junkies usually have people in their lives who will let them housesit and then return home from vacation scratching their heads wondering why their jewelry and fine silver are now missing, most of the horror press are enablers who not only facilitate bad movie-making but actively encourage it by praising every other load of derivative crap coming down the pike. It's no wonder independent filmmakers don't tend to aim any higher than they do. Why bother when you can get your ass kissed for delivering moronic, uneven, subpar work? If I could sit some of these filmmakers down for a heart-to-heart, I'd ask, "Is it possible for you to just write a screenplay and then make the movie from that and not fill your entire film with direct, intentional nods to other movies?" This one stays so busy "paying homage" to every other Argento, Craven and Hooper movie it never feels like its own film. It simply feels like a pale imitation of numerous better movies everyone has already seen.





The most ridiculous review came from Dread Central, which boldly stated "The Last House in the Woods looks, sounds and feels as if it were made in the heyday of imported slashers from the late Seventies and early Eighties." How about, no, no and some more no? For starters, digital cameras weren't around in the 70s and 80s and this movie looks nothing like the films shot back then. While the makers of this do attempt to emulate the patented Bava / Fulci zoom shots a few times, back in the day they didn't simultaneously jerk the camera around uncontrollably while they were in the middle of zooming. The review also calls it a "giallo" despite the fact it does not have a mystery to solve, does not feature a police investigation and has absolutely no whodunit element to it whatsoever. Actually, plot-wise it has almost nothing to do with any major film churned out in Italy during the 70s and 80s and is really nothing more than yet another clone of the American Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise; even going so far as to pilfer from the 2003 remake. The review continues to suck this thing off with zingers like "It's fast paced..." (never mind the fact scenes are padded and shots are mercilessly extended simply to pad out the time leading up to the final half hour) and "...absolutely brutal in its unpredictability and intensity." Unpredictability? Sure... if you're a complete newbie who's never seen any of the classic films this is aping. Intensity? Well, I guess... if you'd consider a scene where a guy is chainsawed, tries to stuff his guts back into his stomach and randomly utters "The priest always told me I should behave" (??) before keeling over as being intense instead of, you know, stupid like it actually is.





Though the dialogue is painfully awful, the plot is thin yet utterly senseless all at once, scenes are dragged out far longer than they need to be, the characters are complete morons, there's nary an original idea to be had at any point in the film and it doesn't really work as a throwback, I'm still giving it a little credit. Why? Well, I didn't totally hate the final half hour. After a wretched and worthless first 50 or so minutes, it finally picked up the pace and delivered on the blood and action. The thankfully non-CGI-enhanced old school makeups are from Sergio Stivaletti (also the associate producer), who needs no introduction to Italian horror fans for his work with Argento, Michele Soavi and Lamberto Bava. The score is pretty good and there's also some stylized lighting toward the end that's really well done (though much of the rest of the film - particularly the stuff set outdoors - is horribly shot and too dark). The revelation at the very end is somewhat interesting, as well. And, you know, I really laughed a lot while watching this. The DVD from Ghost House Underground comes with two audio options: an English dub and in Italian with English subtitles. The former is so God awful it turns the whole thing into a comedy, so it certainly came in handy. Any time I was getting bored I went to the dubbed version to hear the horrible voice actors scream lines like "Aren't you Ginger the ass kicker? Aren't you Ginger with the GIANT DIIIIICK!?" and I was pretty much set from then on out.





Last House was filmed in 2005, debuted at the Ravenna Nightmare Film Festival in Italy in October 2006, played a few American film festivals in 2007 and 2008 and made its U.S. DVD debut in 2008. Its wiki entry says it was a flop, but a sequel - currently titled Kid in the Box - has been announced regardless.

★★
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