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directed by Calum Waddel
UK 2012

 

Slasher fans probably won’t learn anything jawdropping in SLICE & DICE, a series of talking heads on major themes and trends in the slasher genre; however, the film does give some insight into how the subgenre and horror cinema in general evolved and mutated from the HALLOWEEN and FRIDAY THE 13TH into SAW and FINAL DESTINATION. The latter two aforementioned films would not be considered slashers by purists, and their inclusion would seem to reduce the key tenet of the genre to the body count angle; but the filmmakers – in trying to fit those films into the discussion betray them as novel variations on a template (Jeffrey Reddick refers to FINAL DESTINATION as a series where Death is the slasher). There’s much to criticize about SLICE & DICE. Tracing the subgenre back to Alfred Hitchcock’s PSYCHO and Michael Powell's PEEPING TOM – which only seems actually supported by a handful of “average Joe” killer films like THE STEPFATHER, HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER, and possibly SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT – the more obvious BLOOD AND BLACK LACE, BAY OF BLOOD, TERROR, and BLACK CHRISTMAS only get mention in passing (and nothing on Peter Collinson’s FRIGHT unless I missed a clip). THE TOOLBOX MURDERS, HALLOWEEN, PROM NIGHT, FRIDAY THE 13TH, and THE BURNING are recognized as major influences but given less lip service than films for which the documentarians were able to find interviewees (Felissa Rose on SLEEPAWAY CAMP, Corey Feldman on FRIDAY THE 13TH: THE FINAL CHAPTER, Robert Rusler on A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET: PART II) and some but not enough about the influence of Italian giallo and the American slashers’ influence on eighties Italian productions are given scant mention apart from clips from TENEBRE (indeed, clips sometimes feel robotically inserted rather than supportive).

Although the introductory “The Genesis of the Genre” chapter is quite shaky, the multiple talking head musings is successful in the subsequent chapters in raising questions rather than making definitive statements. “The Rules of Survival” looks at how the conservative emphasis on purity in older slasher films – and even further back in fairy tales – has become obsolete as both characters and audience have become more savvy while “The Secret of Slicing Up a Great Villain” looks at whether the killer need be just “a shark” – as Kevin Tenney (NIGHT OF THE DEMONS) suggests – a tragic figure – as suggested by HATCHET’s Adam Green who identifies with villains with traumatic backstories – or the aforementioned “average Joe” as Mick Garris (THE SHINING miniseries) prefers. The discussion of “The Final Girl” asks whether the surviving character is predominately female because of gender conventions (unless a guy is disabled, he should be fighting rather than running), because viewers root for the underdog, or mere titillation. “The Gore the Merrier” finds directors and effects artists – including John Carl Buechler – pontificating on whether a successful gore gag relies on skillful buildup, abruptness, materials (practical, CGI, or the integration of the two), believability or outrageousness. Finally, “You Can’t Kill the Boogeyman” refreshingly focuses not on the ubiquitous and mostly illogical surprise endings but on the remake phenomena. Reasons offered up include the dearth of imagination in Hollywood, the transference of audience sympathy from the victims to the villains with each passing sequel, and the many unsuccessful attempts at launching original franchise characters (Wes Craven’s SHOCKER for instance). On the whole, it plays like a compilation of musings on the genre rather than a treatise (although, a definitive statement on the genre probably would have to be more selective like Vera Dika’s concentration exclusively on a handful of these films that she defines as “the stalker film” in the book “Games of Terror”).

Eric Cotenas

Poster

Theatrical Release: 8 October 2012 (Spain - Sitges Film Festival)

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DVD Review: 88 Films - Region 0 - PAL

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

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Distribution

88 Films

Region 0 - PAL

Runtime 1:15:27 (4% PAL speedup)
Video

1.78:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.72 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo
Subtitles none
Features Release Information:
Studio: 88 Films

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.78:1

Edition Details:
• DISC ONE:
• Premiere Footage from Sitges Film Festival, Another Hole in the Head, and Glasgow Film Theatre
• Outtake Interviews with J.S. Cardone, Corey Feldman, Adam Green, Fred Olen Ray, Felissa Rose, and Kevin Tenney
• Q&A Session with James Moran and Norman J. Warren
• Music Video 'All Kinds of Twisted' by The Acid Fascists
• Trailers for CASTLE FREAK, PUPPET MASTER X: AXIS RISING, REEL EVIL, THE DEAD WANT WOMEN,
• PUPPET MASTER, ZOMBIES VS STRIPPERS, SUBSPECIES, PUPPET MASTER II, SLAVE GIRLS FROM
• BEYOND INFINITY, and PUPPET MASTER III
• DISC TWO:
• Documentary DON'T GO IN THE BACKWOODS: RURAL RAMPAGES AND THE HORROR FILM
• Trailer Park of Slasher Titles
• - with optional commentary by Calum Waddel and Justin Kerswell

DVD Release Date: May 13th, 2013
Amaray

Chapters 8

 

Comments

Not much to say about the audio/video quality of this documentary. The talking head interviews are cleanly shot while the clips are of variable quality (probably lesser than that of the current DVDs of some of these titles since many of them seem to be excerpted from the trailers rather than the films themselves).

Extras include premiere footage (Spain, UK, and US), music videos, and trailers (for 88 Films' usual Full Moon catalog product), but the most interesting extra on disc one is the inclusion of outtakes from interviews; particularly the one featuring J.S. Cardone (the PROM NIGHT remake) who devotes a couple minutes to discussion of his obscure but worthy THE SLAYER. The commentary with the documentary's director - moderated by slasher expert Justin Kerswell - includes discussion of the origins of production company High Rising Productions - who have created extras for countless Arrow Video releases - as well as the project's beginnings as a planned twenty minute supplement for no release in particular. As they accumulated interviews for the Arrow releases with various horror personalities - unused excerpts of which appear here - the aforementioned company encouraged them to do a longer project. When the film was finished two years later, Arrow felt the slasher market was tapped out and were moving towards more Blu-ray exclusives (with DVD exclusives largely relegated to the ArrowDrome budget line). 88 Films was chosen partially because they agreed to pay for Digital Betacam tapes for the film festival screenings. They do address how SLICE & DICE compares to other slasher documentaries (including emphasizing participants who had not appeared in GOING TO PIECES since it was felt that they had already said all they had to say in that more expensive documentary). It is a recommended listen since it does include more discussion on individual titles rather than the themes and tenets discussed by the onscreen participants.

Disc two includes a bonus documentary specifically focusing on "backwoods" horror films including titles like TOURIST TRAP, the intermittently atmospheric slog 2000 MANIACS, UNHINGED, MADMAN, the awful SLAUGHTERHOUSE, JUST BEFORE DAWN, THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (which is generally considered "rape/revenge"), DON'T GO IN THE WOODS, DERANGED, and SQUIRM, as well as more mainstream stuff like DELIVERANCE, STRAW DOGS, WRONG TURN, and MISERY. It does of course overlap with the main documentary with discussion of THE BURNING and THE HILLS HAVE EYES. Participants include Dave Parker (whose THE HILLS RUN RED could be considered a recent example), writer/director John Russo (MIDNIGHT), Fangoria's Tony Timpone, MOTEL HELL director Kevin Connor, Jack Hill (whose SPIDER BABY could just as easy be considered "Southern Gothic"), director Fred Olen Ray (SCALPS), actor Tony Todd (HATCHET), Troma's Lloyd Kaufman (MOTHER'S DAY), as well as archival footage with the late David Hess.

Also included is a slasher trailer reel including early titles like PEEPING TOM and SLAUGHTER HOTEL, as well as the usual titles like HALLOWEEN, HELL NIGHT, TERROR TRAIN, and PROM NIGHT along with more atypical titles like FADE TO BLACK, DON'T ANSWER THE PHONE, THE HILLS HAVE EYES (and it's sequel), EATEN ALIVE (which may have a killer crocodile but is essentially about a killer hotel owner), and the nutty AMERICAN GOTHIC. The optional commentary on the trailers (with Calum Waddel and Justin Kerswell) includes their views on those films as well as their memories of seeing them for the first time (including an accidental uncut airing of BLACK CHRISTMAS on the BBC with the uncensored obscene phone calls). I do hope they are recruited to do a commentary on MOUNTAINTOP MOTEL MASSACRE if it gets picked up for release.

  - Eric Cotenas

 


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Distribution

88 Films

Region 0 - PAL

 

 




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