Friday, May 23, 2008


During my recent jaunt to Seattle I managed to take in a couple French flicks at the local arthouse. One, the hilarious Eurospy send-up OSS 117: CAIRO, A NEST OF SPIES, is easily one of my favorite films of the last few years. Not just a genre spoof, it gamely employs the techniques of the era and delivers its jabs in loving fashion.

The second film, FRONTIER(S), couldn't be more its polar opposite. A quintet of French hoodlums runs afoul of the cops during demonstration-inspired looting. One, the brother of our heroine, ends up dead in a hospital hallway. The other four split up with a pair of former lovers – one of whom is pregnant and planning an abortion – trailing behind.

The pairs arrive at different times at a quaint French inn run by an aged Nazi creep and his in-bred cannibal clan. Much gore ensues.

I knew almost nothing about FRONTIER(S) going in so I didn't know what to expect other than it being, as one pal described it, "a French gore flick." That about sums up this over-the-top blend of Hooper's original TCM, HOSTEL, the SAW films and every other piece of torture-gore to come out in the last ten years or so.

While some reviewers have raved about this bloodbath I have to say wasn't impressed. Not only is it nearly impossible to sympathize with the characters I imagine we're supposed to root for, the film lifts from any number of better movies and seems to exist purely to shock and gross out the viewer with its death-by-steamroom scenes, snipped tendons and heroines crawling through pig shit. Literally.

If you've seen more than a dozen horror films made in the last 30 years you know who's going to live, who's going to die and in most cases how.

Maybe I'm getting old but I just don't like this whole direction of the horror genre. Don't get me wrong, I love a good gore flick but give me mindless zombies or demon-possessed theater patrons. There's enough real-life horror out there for me to be conscious of... do I really need to concern myself with insane Nazi docs residing in the French countryside kidnapping juvenile delinquents for their experiments in breeding?

As I said to one friend, the original TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE mines the same haywire dysfunctional family territory with 1/1000th of the gore and 1000X the tension.


Greg Baty said...

I dug this flick big time. TCM '74 is my favorite all-time movie and maybe that's why I loved this arsty gore-soaked take on it.

Dan said...

I've read plenty of positive reviews and one of my other buddies loved the flick. I don't know... just wasn't my cup of tea and I'm a huge TCM fan myself.