Our friends over at Frightfest release their latest DVDs at the end of the month so if you've found January to be a little low on self mutilation, skinning and human taxidermy then things are definitely looking up with Eyes of Crystal and Tears of Kali.
Now we're huge fans of Dario Argento (the whole family really) and while we can still be found traveling on the tube iRivered up with Goblin and screaming "WITCH!" at anyone who gets too close we have to admit that Argento senior's last couple of efforts, while still enjoyable, aren't a patch on watching David Hemmings knock his way into hidden rooms or pretty girls pick the maggots out of their hair. It's good to see then that younger directors such as Eros Puglielli are more than happy to pick up his torch.
Eyes of Crystal is a grand giallo movie based on a novel with a couple of nods to Seven along the way. Puglielli is an exciting discovery at a time when the scariest thing in most modern horror films is watching Paris Hilton trying to walk and speak at the same time. The plot is pure Argento - some nutjob is murdering people left right and centre, taking his or her time to stuff bullet wounds with the care of a taxidermist or replacing limbs and heads with parts of a Victorian sex doll. Enter cop-on-the-edge Giacomo Amaldi (Luigi Lo Cascio) with a Dudley Moore haircut and a knack for shooting prisoners to teach them a lesson. Amaldi has a massive problem with ladies being in danger and while trying to figure out who is stalking pretty love interest student Giuditta (Lucia Jimenez) he begins to see that the ongoing murders are anything but random. Add a colleague with a brain tumor that seems to be triggering visions of the murderer and you've got one excellent slice of Italian police procedural horror. The whole thing kicks off with a fantastic opening scene that has us searching high and low for other Puglielli films and while the ending doesn't quite live up to expectations it's a hell of a release and shows that with titles like this and Malefique that Frightfest is a label to keep an eye on.
Tears of Kali is not as sophisticated - a German low budget anthology movie that plays like Tales of the Unexpected penned by Clive Barker. All the stories are connected in some way with the Taylor-Eriksson-group (didn't they tour with Kraftwerk?). A weird seventies self help therapy cult that somehow tapped into the dark side of the psyche with messy consequences. The first story concerns a former member recovering in an asylum whose trigger is tripped by a journalist with her own agenda. The second episode has a skinhead regretting opening his mouth as he becomes the latest subject for Taylor-Eriksson therapy. The last is the most traditional and successful story as a fake healer finds something very real in his latest group of 'patients'. A tad predictable and suffering from an early high with a naked woman cutting off her own eyelids it's still good to know in these days of CGI crappiness that someone is still making films the good old fashioned way - by tossing buckets of blood all over the place.