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LARRY FESSENDEN COLLECTION REVIEW PART 2: Habit (1995)

LARRY FESSENDEN COLLECTION REVIEW PART 2: Habit (1995)

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By Nick Durham

The second film in Scream Factory's Larry Fessenden Collection is the Independent Spirit Award winning Habit, which was filmed in 1995 and released in 1997. This was the film that really started getting the ball rolling on Fessenden making a name for himself within the realm of independent horror. While No Telling and his short films were interesting and original to say the least, it was this film that really announced his presence to the genre. It should also be noted that this is a remake of Fessenden's own 1982 short film of the same name, which expands on everything presented there in terms of character and atmosphere.

Habit is a vampire film in which our lead character Sam (Fessenden) finds himself at a crossroads in his life. His father has just passed away, and he's broken up with his long-time girlfriend as well. Finding solace in booze and his bohemian lifestyle in 90s New York City, Sam meets the sexy Anna (Meredith Snaider) at a Halloween party. They eventually engage in a kinky sex-charged relationship and soon things begin to turn a little strange. Sam finds himself getting sicker and weaker, while Anna continuously enjoys sinking her teeth into him. Eventually he realizes what she is, and then things start to get nasty.

As I said above, Habit received a shitload of acclaim upon its original release from the indie circuit, and it's easy to see why. This is a decently original take on vampirism, and it manages to overcome any of the clichés that come with it too. For being super low budget, the film is well-shot and features some great shots of New York City as well. The acting is great all around, particularly from Fessenden as our lead who finds himself deteriorating more and more with each passing day.

Special features wise, Scream Factory's Blu-ray contains a commentary from Fessenden as well as a making of documentary. The Habit short film is included as well, and so is Fessenden's N is for Nexus short from ABCs of Death 2 and a making of for that to boot. There's a weird music video thrown on here as well that Larry was behind too. So yeah, there's some good stuff here for sure.

So yeah, Habit is definitely one of Fessenden's best films to be sure. If you've never seen it before, I strongly recommend giving it a look. It's not likely you'll find a more unique vampire film from the mid-90s era.

Rating: 4/5

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
LARRY FESSENDEN COLLECTION REVIEW PART 1: No Telling (1991)

LARRY FESSENDEN COLLECTION REVIEW PART 1: No Telling (1991)

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By Nick Durham

Larry Fessenden is a weird fucking dude man. He's a one man sow of writing, directing, producing, acting, and more besides. Go to iMDB and look at this fucking guy's filmography: he's produced and acted in so much stuff it's hard to comprehend. He's had his hands in almost everything in terms of independent horror (or close to independent horror) ranging from Stake Land, We Are Still Here, I Sell the Dead, House of the Devil, and tons more besides. In terms of writing and directing, Fessenden has made a hell of an impact in the world of independent horror. Scream Factory and IFC have decided to bestow upon us a wonderful collection of four of Fessenden's films in one handsome Blu-ray set. The Larry Fessenden Collection features No Telling, Habit, Wendigo, and The Last Winter; four films that are definitely different from the rest of the independent horror pack.

The set begins with 1991's No Telling; Fessenden's feature length horror debut after directing a string of well-received short films in the 80s. This film revolves around scientist Geoffrey (Stephen Ramsey) and his wife Lillian (Miriam Healy-Louie) moving to the rural countryside. What should be a nice and relaxing environment becomes nightmarish for everyone as Geoffrey sink deeper into his experiments and projects involving pharmaceuticals, animals, and some very, very bad things.

I'm going to tell you all right now: No Telling is hard to watch because of the graphic animal carnage. It's never super exploitative though, as Fessenden knows when enough is enough and when to make the camera pan away. The heart of the story is a mix between showing the degradation of the marriage between Geoffrey and Lillian as he becomes more obsessed and unhinged with his work. That, and the social commentary on animal testing/experimentation, makes for one shocking and intelligent flick. If there's any drawbacks to this, it's that like I said: this is really hard to watch. When the experiments take a Frankenstein-esque turn...holy shit. Fucking hell, this definitely isn't for everyone. The film's conclusion is also pretty abrupt and anticlimactic, and we never get the satisfaction of seeing those that deserve it get theirs in the end. Then again, maybe that's the point Fessenden was trying to make: this kind of shit continues to happen in the real world, even to this very day.

Like just about all of Fessenden's future work to come, No Telling is a startlingly original and thought provoking horror story. If it weren't for the depictions of animal mutilations, I would recommend this to everyone I possibly could, but that in itself stops me from doing so. It's not that the depictions are that extreme and over the top; it's just that shit like that gets to me. I can watch a guy get his cock chopped off and eaten by cannibals, but I can't watch bloody experiments on mice and dogs. Color me weird I guess.

Rating: 3/5

 

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: The Stranger (2014)

MOVIE REVIEW: The Stranger (2014)

By Nick Durham

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**Be warned before you start reading that spoilers are ahead.
Don't say I didn't warn you.**

The first thing I noticed about The Stranger, besides the fact that Eli Roth's name is plastered all over the cover art and titles (he served as a producer), is that it manages to be a unique take on the vampire genre. Well, unique in the way that many films that have Eli Roth's name attached to them (Aftershock, Clown) are, yet end up never quite reaching that promise that they show at first glance, and end up being nothing much to write home about. The Stranger sadly manages to keep up that trend of promise and eventual disappointment.

The story of The Stranger revolves around a mysterious man (Cristobal Tapia Montt, who possesses quite an epic beard) searching for his wife (Eli Roth's main squeeze and The Green Inferno star Lorenza Izzo) in a small town, only to manage to piss off everyone he comes in contact with, including a super dirty cop and his criminal son, as well as a young man who he may have more in common with than he thought. That's pretty much the whole gist of the film: dude comes to town, shit happens, blood flows, bodies pile up, predictable ending. All that is The Stranger in a nutshell.

Now the one thing that The Stranger does have going for it is how it treats the tried and true spirit of vampirism. Instead of the typical blood-thirsty and seductive creatures that want to live forever on the blood of their victims, vampirism is treated as more of a virus that the titular lead character wants to completely eradicate off the face of the Earth along with everyone who suffers from it, including himself. That's a relatively welcome change of pace I have to admit. That being said though, our lead character is unsympathetic and just plain dull, along with the rest of the entire cast. Things move at a snail's pace and the overall affair is just plain boring. There are a few shock moments here and there, and they are welcome, but it doesn't change the fact that the film as a whole is pretty much a bore from beginning to end.

So yeah, The Stranger continues that trend of Eli Roth-produced movies that fail to really deliver. It isn't necessarily awful or anything, and it isn't without its positives, but it isn't nearly anything special or even all that interesting. Check it out if you need some assistance falling asleep.

Rating: 2/5

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments