Reel Advice from the Video Store Guy

Angst | Halloween Night

By Steve Anderson
February 1st, 2007

AngstAngst
**
DVD
Directed by Wolfgang Buld
Written by Wolfgang Buld
Starring Fiona Horsey, Paul Conway, Amy and Beth Steel, Jaye Macaulay
Produced by Wolfgang Buld
R
103 mins
2006

Advance warning--the first ten minutes of "Angst" are going to feature one of the most bizarre scenes I've seen from a movie that wasn't Japanese Because unless I've completely misunderstood what happened--and it's very possible, believe me--I just watched some guy rape our main character, Helen, and then vanish into her pussy. And all that was left of him was his clothing.

And no...before too much longer there will be confirmation of exactly that. The guy got sucked up into her pussy. And he is only the first. Because Helen's cooch will be constantly screaming for meat, which means a whole bunch of guys will be vanishing like some kind of weird Copperfield act. Helen will therefore--in a move that should surprise absolutely no one--become a prostitute.

But even better, apparently, it gets hungry between meals of men, and thus Helen needs to offer it between-men snacks. Like hot dogs. Seriously--she's going to be jamming weiners up there like no tomorrow, just to keep that thing fed. And I can't believe I just wrote that. Perhaps the worst part of all this is that this is in fact the plot. Men vanish, cooch demands meat, more men vanish, insert lame subplot involving conjoined twins, repeat ad nauseum.

For a movie called "Angst", I'm sure laughing my ass off at it. At least, for a while, anyway--then it just starts getting pointless. For some reason, there's a side story involving Helen's stalker / lost love and a pair of conjoined twins. And the novelty of Helen's carnivorous nether regions only lasts so long. Then it's just dull.

And I find this to be the most unnerving sign of all. When you're doing a movie that takes vagina dentata action to a wild and heretofore unrivalled new extreme, how exactly can it become boring? How, HOW, can you not wring excitement about a really, really hungry pussy? The fact that you've got every man's worst nightmare packaged in one clean hundred and six minute block and you can't even make it remotely scary is a fact that boggles the mind as well as insults the intelligence. I mean, maybe it would have helped if we hadn't gone launching off on all these unnecessary subplots. Maybe we should've just done ninety minutes of Helen's crotch lunching up on random men. For a stroke of irony, it could have eaten a performance of "The Vagina Monologues" and then belched. That would have at least been funny.

But "Angst" plays it neither funny nor scary, which is a shame, because this kind of plot should be at least one of the two, and a really good version should be occasionally both.

The ending, however, does do a nice job of coming full-circle, and it even packs in a surprise or two.

The special features include Spanish subtitles, a making-of featurette, a cast and crew section, and trailers for "Live Feed", "Twisted Sisters", and "Lovesick: Sick Love".

All in all, "Angst" was a movie that started out as great comedy, but steadily got darker and less pleasant until the end, when it wildly improved. If you're willing to put up with about an hour of crap for a great payoff, then "Angst" is the movie for you.

Halloween Night
*
DVD
Directed by Mark Atkins
Written by Michael Gingold
Starring Derek Osedach, Rebekah Kochan, Scot Nery, Sean Durrie
Produced by David Michael Latt, Sherri Strain
85 mins
NR
2006

Join me in a collective gasp of shock as The Asylum puts out a movie that's NOT based heavily on previously released work! That's right, no cheesy knockoff this time around, just a really-loosely-based-on-a-true-story romp called "Halloween Night"!

Nope...no cheesy knockoffs here--this is all original cheese. Well...sort of.

And the flaming bag on our video store doorstep this week is the positively cheese-laden story of an asylum inmate who kills a couple guards, breaks out of prison wearing a mask, heads back to the house of his birth and goes on a murder spree back in 1982. I'm really, really hoping that there was no pun intended back there, because if there was, I'm going to be fantastically disturbed.

And yes, I'm aware that that's really similar to the plotline of John Carpenter's "Halloween". What, you were expecting originality? Be grateful it's not a complete ripoff! At least there's a larger victim pool to separate the classic from its pale imitation.

Pretty much from the get-go, something's going to be direly wrong here. Whether it's thoroughly illogical contract killings or incredibly familiar hospital exterior shots or just the incredible fun of a hand somehow being inserted into a throat via an uncannily circular hole, The Asylum's going to spare way too many expenses to trot out the cheesiest low-budget romp it can possibly dredge up. At least the ripoffs were halfway decent! I emphasize halfway; I still shudder every time I think about "Hillside Cannibals".

And when our killer wanders out of the hospital clad in a bedsheet and plastic mask, I begin to realize that we've left logic and decent storytelling far behind us in favor of a series of mostly-related plot holes so large they can be seen from light aircraft.

At least, until we trot out the lesbians. Then they become visible from orbit.

The plus side about having Michael Gingold of Fango legend writing this sucker is that he's amply familiar with all the standard cliches. The minus side is that he's so familiar with all the standard cliches that he apparently thinks their use is required by Federal law, because there is not one he will hesitate to use. From the nigh-invulnerable serial killer performing impossible feats of strength to the appearance of titties to cover the sheer lousy of the plotline, Gingold knows all the oldest tricks in the book and will execute every. Single. ONE.

Even worse, Gingold starts mixing his mythoses. While he's using "Halloween" to kick things off, by the time things end, he's lapsed into "Friday the Thirteenth Part Two", giving the hulking silent masked killer a mommy fixation of such depth that he actually stops in the face of a woman wearing her old necklace, thinking it's mommy. And yet, to his credit, he has engineered an elaborate ruse to take place about the middle of the film that goes surprisingly and interestingly awry.

Despite how truly abysmal this film turned out to be, I'm still glad I watched it. Remember when I said, not so long ago, that a movie involving Eric Spudic was likely to turn out really unpleasantly? Well, my theory has just managed to bear fruit again--Spudic's playing a bit part in here, credited with the role of "Stu". Thank you, "Halloween Night", for adding credence to my "Spudic as Coal Mine Canary" theory!

The ending is a long, drawn-out sequence of slasher film nonsense that Gingold should have known better than to perpetrate. Honestly, it's been done to death so many times that it's not even relevant any more. Even the twist ending is no longer a real twist--most horror buffs will see it coming from at least three minutes out.

The special features include audio options, cast and crew commentary, a behind the scenes featurette, bloopers, outtakes, deleted scenes, and trailers for "Snakes on a Train", "The 9/11 Commission Report", "The Straun House", and "Halloween Night".

All in all, a couple of fair innovations can't save "Halloween Night" from being the rock in our trick-or-treat bag that it is. This sad, sorry sight engineered by people who should have known better makes me weep for the genre just watching it.

Want to receive an expanded version of Reel Advice as an E-Newsletter?? Email to thevideostoreguy@columnist.com with "The Advisor" in the subject line.  Steve Andersen, much to his own chagrin, is a five-plus year veteran of the direct to video market. He has spent an alarming amount of time in video stores and seeks to provide the public with advance information on all the video releases that they may never have heard of...whether they want to hear of them or not. Steve appears in one way or another weekly, biweekly, or monthly on such fine entertainment-related ezines as Film Threat, Dream Forge, Reel Horror, Acid Logic, Chaotic Culture Magazine, Malicious Bitch webzine, and many others. Readers, agents, or editors can email Steve at thevideostoreguy@columnist.com




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