Cheese steaks, Ink & Dagger, Paddy’s Pub and tyrannical sports fans aren’t the only things that come to mind when I think of Philadelphia. Now, the City of Brotherly Love can also claim Breaking Glass Pictures and its nasty imprint, Vicious Circle Films. While still being a relatively new company, Vicious Circle has quickly made a name for itself by releasing some of underground horror’s fearless new arrivals. Trannies, abortion survivors (!), demonic serial killers via mind-bending drug use…it’s all here.
While the fine people at this company have been hard at work keeping independent cinema thriving, they’ve also been kind enough to pass along some of their releases to us so we could give you an idea of what goes on behind their doors. In addition to new releases from Ryan Nicholson (see our review of his latest, BLEADING LADY), they’ve also been the people smart enough to start snagging up director Israel Luna’s work (TICKED-OFF TRANNIES WITH KNIVES). Now that we’ve got your attention, here’s a rundown of some other stuff you just may want to get your claws into:
Someone’s Knocking At The Door (Directed by Chad Ferrin): A blackhearted cluster-fuck that has no qualms with leaving you feeling dirty and confused, Someone’s Knocking At The Door is the anti-drug campaign you’ll never see in school. Chad Ferrin taps into that grit n’ grime of 70’s grindhouse flicks to tell the tale of 6 college friends who’s sex/drug-filled weekend comes to a sobering halt as they are viciously knocked off one by one. A pair of soul-less serial killers are to blame but is their anyway to really stop them?
The combination of Ferrin’s depraved mind and standout performances by Noah Segan (the only redeeming performer in the dreadful DEAD GIRL) and Ezra Buzzington (THE HILLS HAVE EYES remake) makes for a solid tribute to the late greats. It’s a frenetic combination of Last House On A Dead End Street and Argento-styled trips that send you runnin’ for the showers after a viewing. Sex, drugs, and murder lovers sign up here.
Sympathy (Directed by Andrew Moorman): This film would be the rare instance where siting De Palma or Polanski would be a fitting idea. One seedy motel room is the only set piece where we ride alongside a young kidnap victim (brilliantly played by newcomer Marina Shtelen) and her kidnapper. While trying to formulate a plan for himself and his hostage, the kidnapper and his “companion” are both taken prisoner by an escaped convict that sends the situation into a full-on tailspin. From here, all hell breaks loose as a competition 0f sorts breaks out amongst the 3 desperate sociopaths. As we come down to the end, copious amounts of blood are shed and the audience is taken down a million different paths. Unfortunately, none of these paths lead to a happy ending. Who was good? Who was bad? Who’s alive?
First-time director Moorman definitely has some very specific influences and they all come bursting out in Sympathy. Add Hitchcock and Abel Ferrara to the aforementioned list of names and what you have is an intense first outing by (what appears to be) a very promising director. The small cast leaves no wiggle room for slacking and these actors were up to the challenge. As the characters begin to unravel, the violence increases and explodes in a wonderfully chaotic third act. If you’re a fan Straw Dogs, Repulsion and the like, then consider yourself already a fan of Sympathy.
Fright Flick (Directed by Israel Luna): Ticked-Off Trannies With Knives was no fluke, my friends. Israel Luna is climbing up that same ladder that some of his Vicious Circle companions are, in terms of consistently cool output. Fright Flick takes a hilarious stab (get it? HA! Not funny? Alright…) at the entertainment industry and all the dipshits involved. During the filming of a lousy horror film, the porn-grade leading lady ends up dead setting into motion a ridiculous chain of events. Each character is more slimy and obnoxious than the next. As the bodies pile up, it becomes harder and harder to tell who you can trust in this business we call show. But really can you trust ANYONE in this world?
Luna has a knack for being a supreme smart-ass when it comes to conveying his message (via film). In the same way that John Waters does, he crafts an outlandish world where everyone is turned up to 11 (Spinal Tap reference-power nerding!) and everyone is out of control. In Fright Flick, the circus of characters are all in a competition to stab one another in the back. It’s clearly the director’s extended middle finger to an industry that tends to turn away from fringe artists such as himself. His black comedy/exploitation/slasher film takes many cartoonish turns but all for the better as the audience is in on the joke throughout. Fright Flick is the type of film people will be going to screenings of in 10 years, reciting every line, hooting and hollering as they toss various items about the theater. Consider this your next laugh & slash mainstay!
Run! Bitch! Run! (Directed by Joseph Guzman): Take hunks of Ms. 45, I Spit On Your Grave, and Last House On the Left and you’re getting an idea of where Joseph Guzman’s Run! Bitch! Run! is coming from. After 2 private school girls witness a murder while doing door-to-door Bible sales, they are kidnapped, raped, and tortured by a pimp/drug dealer and his cohorts. Catherine (played by Cheryl Lyone) escapes with her life…and the painful memories, as well. Swapping out her school girl outfit for a strategically planned nurse’s uniform, she’s ready to start settling scores and no one is safe from the wrath of this vengeance killer.
It’s not often that our generation effectively captures the spirit of the grindhouse so accurately. Guzman whips up a sub-genre salad that attacks from all angles. Roughies? Check. Rape/Revenge? Check. Exploitation? Check. Everything AND the kitchen sink is here and it’s apparent that the director has done his homework. Some scenes are senseless (in a good way) and the violent activity goes so far beyond what we’re accustomed to, you’d swear that you were taking in a lost gem from the golden era. Star Cheryl Lyone taps into every memorable character from those sub-genre flicks and offers up one of those “Angel of Death” performances that are too often lost on today’s filmgoers. RBR is sleazy, slimy, and tons of fun. If one needs to see the influence drive-in films, they needn’t look any further than Run! Bitch! Run! It exists completely in the realm of excess and we couldn’t be happier to see that.
*For additional information on Vicious Circle releases, be sure to visit www.breakglasspictures.com
Tags: Abel Ferrara, Argento, black comedy, Breaking Glass Pictures, De Palma, Dead Girl, demonic, drive-in, drugs, exploitation, Fright Flick, Grindhouse, Hitchcock, Horror, I Spit On Your Grave, Israel Luna, John Waters, Last House on Dead End Street, Last House on the Left, Ms. 45, murder, Noah Segan, Polanski, porn, rape, rape/revenge, Repulsion, roughies, Run! Bitch! Run!, serial killer, Sex, slasher, Sleaze, slime, Straw Dogs, sub-genre, The Hills Have Eyes, Ticked-Off Trannies With Knives, underground, Vicious Circle Films, Violence