Archive for the Belgium Category

VAMPIRES (2010) – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in Belgium, horror, movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 27, 2012 by goregirl

The problem with vacations is they end. I landed in Vancouver on Sunday and was back to work on Monday. The first day back to work was insane which I was fully expecting but was never the less mentally unprepared for. I am also moving out of the dungeon on August 1 so I will be apartment hunting and packing during the upcoming month. It is going to be some time before I am back doing five posts a week! I apologize in advance as there will probably be no more than two posts per week until the second week of August. So enough of jawing about me…let’s talk Belgium films! I have seen very few horror films from Belgium and there doesn’t seem to be a huge number out there. IMDB lists just 44 titles. I must say I have really enjoyed the ones I have seen from this list. I have reviewed Amer, Calvaire and included Daughters of Darkness on my list of favourite films of 1971. Although Man Bites Dog is not listed as a horror film, the brilliant mocukmentary is one of my favourite films of the 1990s. Vampires, a little known Belgium film from 2010 is also a mocukmentary focusing on one particular family of blood suckers. Vampires is smart, funny and occasionally nasty, and although not without its problems this film deserves more attention.

After several unsuccessful attempts to document a particular Belgium vampire community, one family agrees and manages to get through the process without making the filmmakers a meal. Matriarch Georges, wife Bertha, son Samson and daughter Grace allow the crew to record every aspect of their vampire existence.

I think the horror loving community is experiencing a bit of vampire burnout at the moment; it is a shame to let Vampires fall into obscurity because of it. The film definitely relies heavily on humour. Horror is very much a secondary aspect thrown in occasionally to remind us that these are in fact undead folk who live off of human blood. Being vampires, the family in fact are not blood related. Georges and Bertha are a delightful couple that have a genuine fondness for one another and their “made” teenager children who will forever remain at their current age. Samson is the apple of his mother’s eyes and part time sex partner. Samson embraces his vampireness and mingles well among his peers. Grace on the other hand despises being a vampire. She dresses in pink, wears foundation to darken her white skin, tries to file down her fangs, is constantly attempting suicide and has a human boyfriend. Bertha finds the ordeal mortifying but Georges rather gets a kick out of Grace’s quirkiness believing she will grow out of it. They keep a former prostitute they refer to as “meat” who they feed on nightly. The former prostitute is pleased and honoured by her position in the household. The family are constantly at odds with the childless couple that live in their basement. Childless due to the fact that they can not control themselves from devouring the little ones they attempt to make their family. It isn’t all fun and games being part of the vampire community. There are a number of rules and obligations to be observed. Vampire families get priority housing. Childless vamps are always tenants reduced to living in cramped quarters in basements. There is school for the young vampires, mandatory community events, and strict rules about killing the general populace. Our documented family break one particularly sacred rule (watch the movie) and are ex-communicated to Canada. In Canada the life of a vampire is considerably less carefree and is downright sedate and conservative. Grace and Samson go through some major transformations but Georges and Bertha long for life in Belgium and merely bide their time.

Vampires made me laugh at regular intervals and the strong comfortable performances from the entire cast are very watchable. They generally stick to traditional vampire film lore but do throw in some unique touches that make it stand out among its peers. Keeping in mind that this is a mostly comedic affair, the violence is rare but what they include is effective. There are all sorts of clever little moments like school showings of torture oriented horror films for the vampire students (they laugh at these like comedies!). The first three quarters of the film are just great but the final quarter that takes place in Canada felt a little slower paced and there weren’t nearly as many laughs. Personally, I think they should have left this section out. Overall Vampires is a lot of fun! It has a steady pace, it is well-acted, funny, smart and despite losing a little bit of its mojo in the final quarter is well worth checking out. Recommended.

Dungeon Rating: 3.5/5

Directed By: Vincent Lannoo

Starring: Carlo Ferrante, Vera Van Dooren, Pierre Lognay, Fleur Lise Heuet, Julien Doré, Paul Ahmarani, Thomas Coumans, Alexandra Kamp-Groeneveld, Batiste Sornin

EX DRUMMER (2007) – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in Belgium, movies with tags , , , , , , , on June 9, 2010 by goregirl

My friend emails me and tells me to check out this flick Ex Drummer. She describes it as follows: It’s a story about a handicapped band that convinces a popular writer to play drums for a battle of the band competition. That makes the film sound like some kind of Hallmark Hall of Fame feel good story! Ex Drummer is sure as shit no feel good story! It is bleak as hell featuring a group of rather unlikeable and unsavory characters. My friend also failed to mention the amount of sex and nudity in the film. Apparently the violence also slipped her mind. The film has a higher body count than a lot of horror films. Speaking of which, Ex Drummer is not a horror film. I watched a few non-genre flicks this weekend and I decided this has enough sex and violence to qualify for a Dungeon review. Ex Drummer is adapted from a book by Herman Brusselmans. I haven’t read the book, so I am unable to comment on how they compare. I found this one a highly visual experience and I’m thinking it could potentially compliment a written story. If you have read the book, I’d love to know how you thought the film compared.

Ex Drummer is a pretty fucked-up film. The guy at my video store said this film was a lot like Trainspotting. I can see the comparisons, although I would say this film is considerably darker, more brutal and definitely more graphic. Ex Drummer is dreary and leaves no hope or light at the end of the tunnel whatsoever. The bands shtick is they are all handicapped, but their minor ailments are the least of the trio’s problems. The bass player is a gay man with mother issues and an insane father that is kept strapped to a bed; not to mention his constantly stiff arm. The guitar player is going deaf and he and his wife are drug addicts living in squalor with a small child. Finally we have the lead singer with a lisp; a dangerous misogynist who regularly rapes and beats up women. I felt empathy and detest in equal measure towards these three characters. This is the trio that present themselves to popular novelist Dries with a proposition to join their band. Dries really has nothing to gain from this alliance other than an experience outside of his cushy reality. A peek at the messy lives of others always comfortable in the knowledge that he can return to his existence whenever he desires. Dries is rich, famous and has a hot wife who likes threesomes. He should blend right in with the trio and their mates! Dries of course agrees and knights the band The Feminists. Dries is as detestable as any of the other characters, maybe more so. He is a repellent, arrogant, heartless bastard. He seems to be under the impression that he is rather cool and is one of the most self-involved arrogant pricks I’ve seen in a film in a long time. For whatever reason he is able to continually force his will on the other band members, why they don’t tell him to go fuck himself is beyond me. I was really hoping someone was going to kick his ass.

Ex Drummer is listed as a comedy on IMDB. I did laugh a few times, but not often. I think some of the laughs were lost on me. I’m not entirely sure what this film wanted to convey. Life sucks and then you die? Being rich makes you immune to punishment? We’ve all lost our way? Don’t do drugs? All of the above? I haven’t a bloody clue. But I can’t say it wasn’t very entertaining. The director uses some crafty techniques that are not only interesting to look at but served a purpose. When we first meet the trio of merry band members the events of their day are shown on rewind. It seemed very appropriate that this group of fucked up souls should be shown going backwards through life. The lead singer who is a violent rapist lives upside-down when he is in his apartment, but right side up everywhere else. He walks about on his ceiling like everything is just fine and dandy. The film is definitely a visual assault. There is a guy in the film nicknamed Big Dick, and you guessed it, it is because he has a huge cock! You actually see penises in this film! You also see sex, I mean actual penetration. And there is gore. Yep Ex Drummer has a body count, blood and gore. It has an amazing and outrageous ending that completely took me off guard. You suspect things aren’t going to turn out well for all parties but it is bloody unlikely you will see this insanity coming!

Excellent visuals and some decent performances made this ugly film impossible to stop watching. Ex Drummer is harsh, violent, bleak, politically incorrect, occasionally humorous, and made me feel like I needed a shower. A film after Goregirl’s heart! Highly Recommended!

Dungeon Rating: 4/5

Directed By: Koen Mortier

Starring: Dries Van Hegen, Norman Baert, Gunter Lamoot, Sam Louwyck, François Beukelaers, Bernadette Damman

CALVAIRE – The Ordeal – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in Belgium, horror, movies with tags , , , , , on May 6, 2010 by goregirl

This is the first Belgium horror film I’ve reviewed on this blog and it won’t be the last. I was really impressed with Fabrice Du Welz’s first feature length directorial debut and I am officially excited to see his second film Vinyan. Calvaire was recommended to me some time ago by my friend Scott over at Anything Horror who chose this film as one of his favourites from the last decade. There are some familiar themes in Calvaire but Fabrice Du Welz definitely leaves his own unique signature. The result is a beautifully shot, biting and original horror film that will stay with you long after the credits role.

Marc Stevens is a singer who travels across the country with his act. After a gig at a nursing home he heads out for a long journey towards his next booking at a Christmas gala. He ends up lost and his van breaks down in the pouring rain. Fortunately a man wandering the area looking for his dog shows him the way to a nearby inn. Bartel, the owner of the Inn shows him to a room where he spends the night. Marc awakes the next morning to find Bartel has taken the liberty of towing his van. Unable to get a hold of a mechanic Bartel does some tinkering with the van himself to no avail. The next morning Marc awakes to find Bartel missing and discovers some disturbing clues that suggest it is Bartel’s intention to prevent his departure.

Fabrice Du Welz, like any horror director has his inspirations. He cites Hitchcock’s Psycho and Tobe Hooper’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre among others on the DVD’s special features. Let’s face it; there have been countless horror films that have been inspired by these two classic films. But I love the way he used his favourite bits. He reworks the scene from Psycho where Norman Bates makes a meal for Marion Crane and sits and watches while she eats, inserting of course, the Marc and Bartel characters. This is a fantastic scene and a buoyant yet chilling precursor to the action to come. Nothing is obvious in Calvaire. What appears to be a survival type scenario is so very much more. Bartel speaks often of his wife Gloria; a singer like Marc who he claims walked out on him. Bartel himself was formerly a comedian, but that was when Gloria was with him and he had joy in his life. It seems strange that there are no pictures of the woman he is lamenting and I had to wonder if Gloria ever existed. It is also possible that Gloria existed but may have never left. Perhaps buried on the property somewhere? Although Gloria herself remains a mystery, she is the force that drives the films action. Calvaire is full of questions that never get answered in any direct way, which is bound to frustrate some. Personally I loved the delivery and the film challenged me to use my noodle during and well after it was over. My husband and I were still talking about this film two days after we watched it.

Clearly Bartel isn’t playing with a full deck. Beyond his more obvious actions in the film, there are several more subtle clues that suggest his reality is warped. But at the end of the day, Bartel wants to be loved. This is what makes his pairing with Marc Stevens even more interesting. Marc is loved by many, but seems unable to display emotion when he’s not performing. He is loved, but unable to love in return. Marc and Bartel are a fascinating duo. Both actors, Laurent Lucas who plays Marc and Jackie Berroyer who plays Bartel are excellent. The opening scene where Marc is performing at a nursing home features the films only women including French actress Brigitte Lahaie (who still looks amazing at 50!). This strange, sad and amusing first act had me wondering where in the hell this film was going. The balance of the film is an all-male cast. The group of villagers are a grubby looking lot who Bartel seems at odds with and then we have Boris who spends most of the film looking for his dog, whom he eventually finds…sort of?! One of the films most surreal moments takes place in the village bar. One man gets up and plays a heavily creepy piece of music on the piano and the group gets up a few at a time and begin rocking back and forth to the music. Yep. Sometimes guys just gotta dance! A scene as bizarre as anything you’ll see in a Buñuel, Lynch or Anger flick!

Calvaire has an outstanding atmosphere of claustrophobia and tension that builds to the point of hysteria and then calmly finishes with the camera panning over wintery forest landscapes in the films excellent “non-ending”. The Inn and the surrounding forest is the perfect backdrop and add greatly to the pitch perfect mood. Visually Calvaire is without flaw. It definitely has its disturbing moments but is never really graphic. Nonetheless the scenes of violence are powerful and effective. This one is a little slower paced and may not have the gore some would like, but in my opinion films like Calvaire don’t come along often enough. Calvaire is a thought provoking, beautifully filmed, unique, surreal and disturbing experience. Highly recommended!

Dungeon Rating: 4.5/5

Directed By: Fabrice Du Welz

Starring: Laurent Lucas, Brigitte Lahaie, Gigi Coursigny, Jean-Luc Couchard, Jackie Berroye, Philippe Nahon, Philippe Grand’Henry, Jo Prestia, Marc Lefebvre