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Sydney Film Festival Day 8 featuring Friday 13th Horror Triple Bill
by Michael Collins

A sensitive, insightful and tender meditation on relationships in decay and GORE! GORE! GORE!

THE FOREST was another one of those Australian mini feature films that have been turn up at the 4:30 time slot during the festival. Despite itís promising night marish opening, this one didnít quite do it for me. My attention wandered and my eyes began to look around the theatre.

The story revolved around cheating couples, suspicions of cheating and annoyed lonely people wishing if only they could have someone they could cheat on. The tone and visuals are dark and glossy, but it felt a tad forced to me.

This film was not miles away from Lantana (a film that has me in the minority in not thinking it was that great) so maybe if 30/40 Something And Their Trials In Life is your thing then maybe youíll get more out of it that I did.

It was well acted for the most part and it looked good, but I just wasnít sold.

The way that the film makers were going on afterwards one wonders if they knew what was really going on as well.

Iíve become a bit of an expert in marking out territory and getting a good seat in the theatre. Coats, bags, blankets, lunch boxes, pull overs, umbrellas, anything that you can get your hands on can and should be used to make sure you keep your valued seat when you pop out for a snack or coffee.

Alrighty then, now were talking. The Friday 13th horror triple bill. Now thatís what I call a festival. The promise of mindless violence, too much gore, and the occasional cutie. This is what all festivals should be like.

First up was ARAGAMI. Made by the production company Napalm Films - weíre on a good thing with that name already.

The theme music started - Were things louder than usual and louder than really necessary? It seemed to be. Things are looking great!

Thereís the fade in - no talking yet and someoneís dead already. Great start.

The plot: A samurai battles with a badass goblin type who is tired of life. The end.

As much as a film like this can, it did start off slowly, but the fight scenes in this Japanese ancient fantasy are magical, spectacular and fast. Itís the speed and the sense that there is a lot of power on display that makes this film special. It really was astounding. It really showed The Matrix films as the two bit overweight twaddle that they are.

This was wild fun in what amounts to little more than a single fight scene.

The appeal of UNDEAD - a hugely amusing zombie film - was that it took an inventive left turn about two thirds the way through. At the start it was just tugging along like your usual (high quality) zombie film - thereís a nice gore level and body count and things are funny with some solid laughs.

A lot of horror films really fall by the way side in the final reel. Theyíre usually just not written well enough to resolve themselves. Yet the Spierig brothers put in a big plot turn which makes the film a severed head above the rest.

With computer generated effects becoming more accessible the Spierig brothers were able to make high quality effects - which took months for them to create on home PCs. That also helped to keep the quality up a notch above the (killing) field.

A female hero in the form of Rene, is always great to see in these post-Buffy times we live in. There were also some wildly inventive visuals.

And while the production standards were kept extremely high (amazing considering the minuscule budget) the film importantly keeps its sense of humour.

This film was so great. Genre fans should knock down old ladies to see this one.

The cool thing about CABIN FEVER was how it was on the edge of plausibility. Right on the very edge and hanging off it, yes, but on the edge nevertheless. Another great thing was the hot girls on display too!

A bunch of kids - three guys and two girls (the guys outnumbering the girls? Whatís with that?) - decide to spend a few days in the woods. Their holiday is somewhat interrupted by the introduction of a strange man with an even stranger skin disease. Despite getting a fright, the kids manage to fight him off.

Hope that strange man isnít contagious and I hope he doesnít collapse and die into a reservoir that provides the water supply to the cabin that the kids are staying in . . . uh oh!

The edge of plausibility goes a long way in giving you the total creeps. The gore, humour and general over the top tone keeps the laughs going. It was huge fun. It wasnít as inventive as Undead, but it was still highly enjoyable

Seeing these three films on the big screen was great as well. These type of films are usually reserved for the small screen at home, but the cinema and crowd atmosphere amounted to a great night at the cinema.

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originally posted: 06/15/03 22:54:15
last updated: 12/30/03 10:13:16
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