In 1979 director Ruggero Deodato would begin a filming a movie known as Cannibal Holocaust. A movie about an American film crew that discover collected reels of a previous expedition. The previous film crew were studying indigenous people of the Amazonian rainforests. The film crew is discovered to have been brutally murdered and eaten by a tribe. With that said, Cannibal Holocaust would be released and to this day remains as one (if not most) controversial films ever. The film is so realistic that local authorities actually believed the movie was a snuff film and that Deodato actually raped and murdered a young women. In the court room Ruggero Deodato actually had to have the actual actress appear in front of the judge to prove she was just an actress and not dead!
Today Cannibal Holocaust is a cult followed horror film and is still remains a disturbing film for its extreme content. But the interesting thing about Cannibal Holocaust and its rocky relationship with certain authorities is not really in its displays of rape, murder and cannibalism. But rather what makes it such an interesting film is in its creation of an entirely new genre of film making. Cannibal Holocaust stands as the first “found footage” movie… or at least the one that made it big. 1999’s The Blair Witch Project would actually be the movie to revitalize the filming structure. Spawning a shit load of copycat style movies in the horror genre.
Found footage is a technique in styling a film as if it was all recorded and you are watching that recording. Kind of like watching a movie within a movie. There are different techniques to make a found footage film and they range from either first person perspectives like 2015’s Hardcore Henry, pseudo-documentary like 1980 Cannibal Holocaust, mockumentary like 2006’s Behind The Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon or surveillance footage like in 2007’s Paranormal Activity. So bottom line, movies that you watch through the lens while the events being recorded.
If there is one genre where found footage has had this biggest impact then I would imagine horror is the greatest. The style of film does a good job at bringing the terror taking place much more personal and up-close. Found footage is a good way at making us believe what the character is going through because we ourselves are experiencing it. When someone sees a monster coming and runs, we’re running. When someone is interacting with another character, we’re the ones having that conversation or an actual physical presence in the room. We become just as entangled into the storyline as the people in the film.
I for one am kind of rocky on found footage movies. I’ve seen Cannibal Holocaust and it is a good movie, although I’m not really a big fan of the “man eating tribal people” kind of horror films. Many found footage movies have a tendency to make people real sick like they are stuck on a ride at a state fair. Others like Paranormal Activity are just boring as hell and do nothing to keep me entertained. To me Paranormal Activity and its surveillance style takes away from dramatic emphasis. Nothing was scary. But there are some good ones. I absolutely love Frankenstein’s Army and put it in my Horror Movie Marathon 2018 for day sixteen. Another found footage film that I really love is 2012’s VHS.
VHS is a 2012 horror anthology film written and directed by Adam Wingard, David Bruckner, Ti West, Glenn McQuaid, Joe Swanberg. The film features five individual stories and one wrapper story that takes place in the beginning and end of the films. But interjects little portions in between.
We follow a group of thieves that have to break into this home and steal a single VHS tape. Upon entering the home the group discover a dead body of an old man sitting amongst unmarked VHS tapes. As the group begin to watch each tape, strange events unfold around them.
It’s interesting how VHS is able to be not only a found footage film, but also an anthology film as well. I’m a huge fan of anthologies movies and eat them up like they were Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups! Trick r Treat, Tales of Halloween, Creepshow and The Theater Bizarre are all some of my favorites. But I can also include VHS as one my favorites as well. What I like about anthology horror films in general is that you can often get a good blend of stories that all work well. They’re all short length features so you don’t get to exhausted with them.
The best is when an anthology series can tie every short into one unified movie. This can be done by either making each story connected via character or event. VHS unifies all five shorts by placing them within this wrapper story. It delivers the shorts where it feels like they’re told as tales instead of some checklist to the end. I don’t even know if that makes sense. Probably not! Let’s go over the features.
Three friends go out looking for women to return back to their hotel room and bang. They return with two women and one girl named Lily is more than just a pretty face.
This is probably the best of the shorts and should have been last. The group of boys are jerks and only want to hook up with girls to make some amateur porno. What we have is a hunted become the hunted. What unfolds is truly awesome horror as Lily turns out to be some sort of succubus monster on the hunt and the character Clint is her primary target. There are some seriously awesome moments of gore in this story. At one point Lily starts transforming and she mutilates her victims. Amateur Night is a good message to our views (especially the males) that the douche bag hook up culture may not be the best choice. To take advantage of ladies may give us a destination of chaos and death. As one of our characters is unsure of the groups motives, he reluctantly agrees. Personally, I think the succubus lady actually liked Clint and didn’t intend on killing him.
A married couple on their honeymoon in Arizona.
That’s all I really have to say about this one. A couple are on a vacation and the ladies past lover stalks and kills her husband. It’s not my favorite of the group but its one of the most goriest. The scene where Sams throat is slit is pretty intense. But its all it really has going for it.
Tuesday the 17th
While on a camping trip a group of friends encounter a killer entity.
I loved this story and thought it was kind of a good slasher/ghost film. It turns out that Wendy is a survivor of this killer and is trying to seek revenge on it. The entity is kind of a glitchy slasher or it could be that its just making the camera glitch out on it. Which is interesting because it technically could be just a normal slasher flick.
The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger
A young woman is doing zoom-like meetings with her boyfriend while she is experiencing strange things happening to her and her apartment.
This one of those stories that throws you for a loop in that what you think you’re experiencing is completely different. This girl Emily is going insane and believes something is living in her skin and that ghosts of children are in her apartment. I really loved how the boyfriend is incorporated into this segment because it turns out he’s part of this “scheme” and is using Emily for a much bigger purpose.
A group of friends head out for a Halloween party and end up in the wrong house that is hosting an exorcism gone wrong.
This would be my second favorite of the group. These poor guys are just trying to go out and have a good night and stupidly interrupt a group of guys performing an exorcism on some girl. I kind of see a relation to Amateur Night. While the Amateur Night guys are going out to do bad things, the guys in 10/31/98 are actually just normal good guys. They do right by trying to save the girl and end up being punished… well that is until you see the extra ending.
Not Too Much
So I didn’t want to give anything away too much. I probably told too much for Amateur Night but it’s fine. It’s full of good moments that are absolutely crazy. The gore is intense and many of the scares of pretty good. I know there are certain points where things get shaky but its not enough where it makes it confusing to whats going on. Each story is short and sweet and leaves you wanting to watch more of it. Some are even good enough where I could see them being full length films.
I like how the directors schemed in a camera to make it found footage. The one guy has a camera in his glasses and another has a camera in his Halloween costume. They don’t merely have a camera because the directors needed them to have one. Even Wendy and her glitchy killer has a reason for a camera being used because she’s trying to get proof of her killer. The use of the camera is logical and makes them feel all the more realistic.
The movie does have a sequel and has the same amount of short features. That one is actually real cool and full of some pretty cool stories that continue the madness and bloodshed. But the third movie the third film VHS: Viral was absolute garbage. So don’t waste your time with it. But today we watch VHS! A great found footage anthology movie full of lots of blood and scary bat ladies wanting a man! That’s why this movie is chosen for day twelve of Horror Movie Marathon 2020!