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Taeter City: Collector’s Edition (DVD)

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Taeter City: Collector's Edition (DVD)Starring Monica Muñoz, Riccardo Valentini, Santiago Ortaez, Wilmar Zimosa, Giulio De Santi

Directed by Giulio De Santi

Distributed by Necrostorm


It’s the future, and in Taeter City crime is a thing of the past thanks to The Authority’s Zeed System. Distributed via antennae placed all over the city, the signals sent by the Zeed System interfere with the brains of those predisposed to criminality, turning their violent urges into uncontrollable suicidal impulses. Cleaning the resulting mess from the streets are The Authority’s Biker Division, who will turn up to either remove the self-mutilated corpses of would-be lawbreakers or simply finish them off. On top of this, the eating of animal meat is also outlawed — rather, the corpses of the deceased criminals are delivered to Authority slaughterhouses where the human meat is prepared and distributed to the population via the many branches of their Taeter Burger fast food franchise.

While being bombarded with cutaways to informational television broadcasts delivered by The Authority’s mouthpiece, the deranged-looking (and sounding) Caronte, coupled with plenty of humorous advertisements for the Zeed system, Taeter Burger and “Blood” energy drink, Taeter City takes the audience on a trip alongside Bikers Razor (Muñoz), Shock (Ortaez) and Wank (Zimosa) as they go about their duties. Things soon take a strange turn, however, when they’re set on the trail of Trevor Covalsky (De Santi) — a murderous criminal who appears to have been mutated by the Zeed System rather than destroyed. Stronger than ever, the psychopathic Covalsky now has the ability to emit a scream that causes horrific mutations and extremely violent reactions in those caught by the wave.

Putting the audience on the side of a willingly cannibalistic dictatorship who adorn themselves with various creepy masks to designate their job/standing, complete with Nazi salute-style corporate greeting, seems a risky manoeuvre for writer/director De Santi, but it doesn’t take long for the scathing satire at the heart of Taeter City to become apparent. This is a future that, while it appears to be coated in a solid veneer of safety, is well and truly fucked. With little in the way of sympathetic characters to adhere to, the focus of Taeter City becomes that which Necrostorm are very quickly making a name for themselves in — displays of extremely graphic, and incredibly well realised, violence and gore. Using a mixture of CGI-enhanced prosthetics and editing tricks, the gore effects on display here can be truly mind-blowing. Some of the best involve the weapon employed by Razor: a futuristic set of gloves that with a flick of the hand send an airborne arc of blades that see heads lopped off or chopped in half, and one superbly explosive total bodily bisection. Other violent highlights include the Bikers’ summary execution method — a machine that entangles the victim in chains before restricting to crush the hands and head, and a superlatively splattery sequence involving a gun that fires explosive detonation rounds. There are barely a few minutes that pass in Taeter City without some kind of ultra-violent happenings, and the skill of their delivery would put some much larger profile effects houses to shame.

Backing up the quality of the gore effects is also some sterling work in digital sets and compositing. Obviously working with a low budget, director De Santi manages to pull off some visually impressive set pieces including a truck explosion that, considering the limitations and how it was actually put together, is pretty jaw-dropping, and a similarly impressive first-person shot with an explosive finale that is edited with remarkable finesse. A number of effects sequences are obviously filmed against the same white wall at the studio, though, and edited into the various scenes but this is a fairly minor nitpick. The animated interludes advertising both the Taeter Burger franchise and the Zeed System itself are frequently humourous, even bordering on delightful at times, and offer a kooky slant to the extremity of the violence and gore on display.

There’s no denying the ambition on display throughout Taeter City, but it does suffer greatly from narrative fracturing. The frequent interludes from Caronte serve to break up the action, but also inadvertently (one assumes) see the rest of the film essentially reduced to a series of gory vignettes. With little in the way of character development, audience investment in our biking trio is minimal and, at its core, the actual storyline at play here feels sadly restrained by means — a mere glimpse at a tale that has its sights set much grander than ultimately permitted. The dialogue can be cheesy, but this actually adds somewhat to the “what the hell” attitude flaunted throughout, especially when one Authority member briefing the Bikers quips “Don’t ask me how or why, because this is fucking nonsense. FUCKING NONSENSE!” Gorehounds will be over the moon, but those less interested in special effects showmanship and fountains of arterial spray will be less well served than they were with the stronger storyline of Necrostorm’s previous knockout, Adam Chaplin.

Mind you, not many will take the ride into Taeter City unaware of just what it’s setting out to offer — a brief glimpse at the trailer is enough to tell if it’ll be up your street. In that sense, then, it’s a definite hit. When the folks at Necrostorm promise during said trailer to deliver blood, blood, blood… and again, blood, they sure as hell make good on their word.

The Collector’s Edition DVD set of Taeter City is an impressive package, all told, with multiple physical items awaiting you. To show your allegiance to The Authority, you get yourself a Taeter Burger baseball cap as seen worn by the restaurant’s employees in the film, along with a couple of Biker ID cards and Taeter Burger coupons — one advertising All You Can Eat day, and another the all new “Guts Wrap” and “Two Fingers, One Eye” meals. You’ll also get a Taeter City poster personally signed on the rear by director Giulio De Santi. He appears to have a penchant for also scribbling a random picture next to his signature (we had a skull, others posting their sets around the web have had others such as severed heads) which gives the whole thing a nice personal touch.

On the disc we have the complete film soundtrack which, with its fusion of synth, techno and metal makes a great listen (and serves the film very well indeed), followed by a short cartoon named Gastric Combat which sees two 2D rivals go head to head in a Mortal Kombat-inspired fight to the death inside a weird tentacled creature’s stomach. Next up is what appears to be an early animation for one of the Zeed/Taeter Burger advertisements from the film, considering the Zeed System is instead named the Borg System. A quick “Making of” featurette reveals the inner workings of a number of the film’s effects, including the aforementioned truck explosion, and serves to highlight the thought and skill that goes into what these guys create.

Finally, and best of the on-disc special features, is a selection of premiere episodes of Giulio De Santi’s new animated series Dhondolone. As with the Gastric Combat short, 2D animation is the name of the game here as we’re treated to the many horrible demises of what appears to be the world’s most clueless samurai. Set amongst various backdrops such as the sea, the jungle, the dojo and even in space, Dhondolone is a riot from beginning to end. Along the lines of Happy Tree Friends but perhaps even more gruesome, the hapless little man is exploded, eaten, squashed, beaten to a pulp and rendered a casualty of his own stupidity time and time again. It’s a heck of a lot of fun.

NOTE: This edition of Taeter City is only available for purchase directly from the Necrostorm website.

Special Features

  • Complete Movie Soundtrack
  • Short Cartoon: Gastric Combat
  • Extra Taeter Burger Advertisement
  • “Making of” Special FX featurette
  • Dhondolone Premiere Episodes
  • Taeter Burger Employee Baseball Cap
  • Taeter City poster, autographed by director Guilio De Santi
  • Biker’s ID Card
  • 2 Taeter Burger coupons/Art cards

    Film:

    3 1/2 out of 5

    Special Features:

    4 out of 5

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    DIS Review – Not for the Faint of Heart!

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    Starring Bill Oberst, Jr., Lori Jo Hendrix, Peter Gonzales Falcon

    Directed by Adrian Corona


    I’ve made this claim many a time on this website before, and in the company of film friends as well: Bill Oberst Jr. is one of those actors that can literally be thrust into ANY role, and deliver a performance with so much harnessed electricity that you couldn’t believe that it was possible. I was the lucky recipient chosen to get a look at his latest project, titled DIS, and I think that I can honestly say – this is the stuff that nightmares are constructed of.

    Directed by Adrian Corona, this 60-minute dive into the black depths of hell, and in actuality DIS is located between circles # 6 and 9 in Dante’s Divine Comedy, and trust me when I tell you – there’s not a shred of comedic relief in this demented presentation. Oberst Jr plays an ex-soldier named Ariel, and his seemingly harmless jaunt through the woods will become anything but that, and judging from the film’s opening scenes, you are meant to feel as uncomfortable about this watch as any you might have checked out in recent memory.

    Perversion is the norm here, and lord help you if you’re caught where you shouldn’t be…my skin’s crawling just thinking about what I saw. Ariel’s travels are basically dialogue-free, but it only adds to the infinite levels of creepiness – you can tell he’s being stalked, and the distance between he and the horrors that await are closing in rather quickly.

    Visually by itself, this hour-long chiller can sell tickets without any assistance – hollowed-out buildings and long sweeping shots of a silent forest give the movie that look of complete desolation. Sliced up into three acts, the film wastes no time in setting up the story of a killer needing fresh blood to appease his Mandrake garden – seriously guys, I can’t type as much flashy stuff as there needs to be in order to describe this innately disturbing production.

    If you’re one of those types who tends to shy away from the graphic side of things, then I’d HIGHLY advise you to keep your TV tuned to the Hallmark Channel for some holiday entertainment, because this one registers high on the “I can’t believe someone thought of this” meter. So the quick recap is this: Oberst Jr in a standout performance, visual excellence, and an unshakable sense of debasement on a cellular level – keep the kiddies out of the living room with this one. Corona should be lauded (or locked up – just kidding) for his work on this one – HIGHLY recommended, and one that I’ll throw down as a top 5 for me in 2017.

    • Film
    4.5

    Summary

    Director Corona should be lauded (or locked up – just kidding) for his work on this one – HIGHLY recommended!

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    User Rating 5 (2 votes)
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    Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil: The End Of The End Review – A Heavy Metal Massacre In Cartoon Form

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    Starring Alex House, Bill Turnbull, Maggie Castle, Melanie Leishman, Chris Leavins, Jason Mewes

    Directed by Richard Duhaney and Craig David Wallace


    “Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil” – Canadian television’s greatest blend of Evil Dead, Superbad and Deathgasm? Yes. That answer is yes. For two face-melting seasons, Todd “protected” Crowley High from episodic villains who were bested by metal riffs, stoner logic and hormonal companionship. Musical interruptions showcased stage theatrics like Sondheim meets pubescent Steel Panther and high school tropes manifested into vile, teen-hungry beasts. It was like a coming-of-age story got stuck between Fangoria pages – all the awkwardness with 100x more guts.

    That – for worse – was until Todd fell to a premature cancellation after Season 2’s clone-club cliffhanger. Indiegogo became the show’s only way to deliver a feature-length finale, except to reduce costs and ensure completion, the project would have to be in cartoon form. Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil: The End Of The End suggests an animated curtain call for this otherwise live-action production, and from a fan’s perspective, familiar maturation follies befall our favorite bloodsoaked friend group. But for new viewers? Start with the far-superior original show – you’ll be lost, underwhelmed and baffled otherwise.

    Alex House retains his characterization of Todd Smith (in voice only). At this point, Todd has thwarted the book’s apocalyptic plan, Hannah (Melanie Leishman) has died, longtime crush Jenny (Maggie Castle) isn’t as horny for Todd anymore, and best friend Curtis (Bill Turnbull) has sworn Todd’s name to Hell (since Hannah was his girlfriend). Guidance Counselor Atticus Murphy Jr. (Chris Leavins) is now Janitor Atticus Murphy Jr. because Janitor Jimmy (Jason Mewes) is now Counselor Jimmy, yet Crowley High finds itself plagued by the same satanic uprisings despite these new changes. Why is evil still thriving! How is Hannah back in class! Who is the new “Pure Evil One” now that Todd has denied the book! Welcome to the end, friends – or is it a new beginning?

    At just north of 80 minutes, structure runs a bit jagged. We’re used to Todd battling one baddie over a half-hour block – backstory given time to breathe – but in The End Of The End, two mini-boss cretins play second fifth-fiddle to the film’s big-bad monster (well, monsters – but you’ll see). A double-dose of high school killers followed by a larger, more important battle with the gang’s fate hanging in the balance. Not a problem, it’s just that more length is spent singing songs about Todd’s non-functioning schlong and salvaging relationships from the S2 finale. Exposition (what little there is) chews into necessary aggression time – fans left ravenous for more versatile carnage, underwhelmed by the umpteenth cartoon erection gag. Did I mention there’s a lot of boner material, yet?

    These two mini “chapters” – “No Vest For The Wicked” (yarn demon)/”Zits Alors” (acid acne) – never come close to rivaling Hannah Williams’ doppelganger bombshell (“Songs About Boners”/”This Is The End Of The End Of the End”). Hannah [X]. Williams waking up in a room full of other Hannahs, emerging from some sleep-pod chamber; Todd’s gang facing off against this new “chosen one” in a way that erases “Sack Boy” and “Pizza Face” from memory. The End Of The End dashes dildoes-swinging into the show’s biggest mystery while dropping call-backs and bodies with equal speed – maybe too hastily for some.

    Now, about the whole pivot to animation – a smooth rendering of Crowley High and all its mayhem, but never representative of Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil‘s very Ash Vs. Evil Dead vibe. All the practical death effects (gigantic man-eating cakes, zombie rockstars) are lost to one-dimensional drawings, notable chemistry between cast members replaced by edited recordings lacking signature wits. This isn’t Metalocalypse, where dismemberment and bloodshed are gruesome on levels that outshine even live-action horror flicks. There’s no denying some of the magic is missing without Chris Leavins’ “creepy uncle” overacting (a Will Forte breed) or the book’s living incarnations of evil. Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil: The End Of The End plays hooded minion to Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil’s dark ruler – less powerful, a bit duncier, but still part of the coolest cult around. Just try not to think about how much radness is missing inside hand-traced Crowley High?

    It’s hard not to strike comparisons between “reality” and ‘toon, because as noted above, live actors are sorely missed in a plethora of situations. Be they musical numbers, heretic slayings, Todd and Curtis’ constant references to wanking, wangs or other pelvic nods (no, for real, like every other sentence) – human reactions no longer temper such aggressive, self-gratifying cocksmanship. It doesn’t help that songs never reach the memorable level of “Horny Like The Devil,” but the likes of House, Leishman, Turnbull and Castle were masters of selling schlock, shock and Satan’s asshole of situations. Instead, lines now land flat like – for example – Leavins’ lessened ability to turn pervy, stalkerish quips into hilarious underage stranger-dangers. Again, it’s not Metalocalypse – and without that kind of designer depth, a wall prevents inter-dimensional immersion into Todd’s extracurricular madness.

    If this review sounds over-negative, fret not – it’s merely wishes of what could have been. None of this is to say Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil: The End Of The End should be skipped. When you’re already known for masterstrokes of ballbusting immaturity, metal-horned malevolence and vicious teen-angst creature vanquishing, expectations are going to be sky high. Directors Richard Duhaney and Craig David Wallace successfully service fans with a smile, ensuring that rivers of red scribbled blood spurt from decapitated school children just like we’re used to. It’s just, I mean – ugh, sorry, I just have to say it one more time. BY DIMEBAG’S BEARD, this would have been an epic live-action flick. As is? Still one fine-with-a-capital-F-YEAH return to Crowley High for the faithful who’ve been waiting some 5-or-so years in a Todd-less purgatory.

    • Film
    3.0

    Summary

    Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil: The End Of The End brings closure to hungry fans in all the ways they’d hope – albeit turned down a notch through animation. Over-the-top kills and headbanging metal riffs still reign supreme, they’re just drawn by hand instead of oozing practical effects this time.

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    User Rating 3.11 (9 votes)
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    The Shape of Water Review: A Quirky Mix of Whimsy and Horror That Does Not Disappoint

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    Starring Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Michael Stulbarg, Doug Jones

    Directed by Guillermo del Toro


    “True Blood,” Beauty and the Beast, and Twilight aside, the notion of romantic love between humans and otherworldly creatures has been a popular theme throughout storytelling history. The ancient Greeks told tales of Leda and the swan, while stories of mermaids luring sailors to their lusty demise were met with wonder worldwide, stemming from Assyria c. 1000 BC. To this day, there’s Creature From the Black Lagoon fanfic that’s quite racy… for whatever reason, some people are fascinated by this fantasy taboo.

    The new period film from co-writer/director Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water, dives right into the erotic motif with the tale of how Elisa (Sally Hawkins) and Amphibian Man (Doug Jones) fell in love. (While I personally could have done without the bestiality angle, I do applaud del Toro for having the balls to show what’s usually implied.) Having said that, The Shape of Water is about more than just interspecies passion.

    The Shape of Water is a voluptuous, sumptuous, grand, and melodramatic Gothic fable at times (there’s even a lavish 1940s style dance routine!), but mostly it’s an exciting and gripping adventure, pitting the good guys against one very bad buy – played with mustache-twirling (minus the mustache), bug-eyed glee by Michael Shannon. Shannon is Strickland, a sinister and spiteful Cold War government operative who is put in charge of a mysterious monster captured in the Amazon and shipped to his Baltimore facility for study. When using cruel and abusive methods to crack the creature’s secrets doesn’t work, Strickland decides to cut him open to see what’s ticking inside.

    Elisa, a lowly cleaning lady at the facility, has meanwhile grown fond of “the Asset,” as he’s called. She’s been spending time with him on the sly, not even telling her two best friends about her budding tenderness for the mute and isolated alien. She relates to him because not only is she lonesome, she’s unable to speak (an abusive childhood is alluded to – which includes water torture). Using sign language, she first tells out-of-work commercial illustrator Giles (Richard Jenkins), then her co-worker Zelda (Octavia Spencer), about the need to rescue her waterlogged Romeo from Strickland’s scalpel. Needless to say, it won’t be easy sneaking a classified government experiment out of the high security building.

    The Shape of Water is vintage del Toro in terms of visuals and accoutrement. The set-pieces are stunning to say the least. Elisa and Giles live in cozy, cluttered, age-patinaed apartments above a timeworn Art Deco moving-pictures palace; Strickland’s teal Cadillac is a collection of curves and chrome; and the creature’s tank is a steampunk nightmare of iron, glass, and sturdy padlocks. DP Dan Laustsen (Crimson Peak) does justice to each and every detail. Costumes (Luis Sequeira) and Creature (Legacy Effects) are appropriately stunning. The velvety score by Alexandre Desplat (“Trollhunters”) is both subdued and stirring.

    While the film is a fantasy-fueled feast for the senses, it’s really the actors who keep you caring about the players in such an unrealistic, too-pat story. Jones, entombed in iridescent latex and with GC eyes, still manages to emote and evoke sympathy as the misfit monster. Jenkins is endearingly morose as a closeted gay man surrounded by his beloved cats and bolstered by the belief his hand-painted artwork is still relevant in an ever-more technical world. Spencer is the comic relief as a sassy lady who’s hobbled by her station in life but leaps into action when the chips are down.

    Del Toro cowrote the screenplay with Vanessa Taylor, whose credits in the television world are numerous – but she’s probably best-known for her work on “Game of Thrones” – which adds an interesting and feminine perspective. The story definitely feels more comic-book than anything, which is okay I guess, but I prefer del Toro’s deeper delves into history and character (The Devil’s Backbone is still my fave). But, for those who love del Toro’s quirky mix of whimsy and horror, you will not be disappointed.

    The Shape of Water is a dreamlike, pulpy adult fairytale that dances on the surface of reality while remaining true to the auteur’s vision.

    • Film
    4.5

    Summary

    The Shape of Water is a dreamlike, pulpy adult fairytale that dances on the surface of reality while remaining true to the auteur’s vision.

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    User Rating 4.57 (7 votes)
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