The Devil’s Carnival:
The creators of “Repo: The Genetic Opera” reunite to bring fans a follow up to the cult favorite. But rather than dwelling in the same world as the original production, the cast and crew are reunited for what may become an entirely new and episodic horror musical independently financed and distributed by the creators themselves.
“The Devil’s Carnival” is the destination for three lost souls; John, a tormented father looking for his son; Tamara, a naïve woman escaping an abusive relationship; and ____, a kleptomaniac on the run from police. The Devil presents their stories as three musical renditions of “Aesops Fables” with a cast of carnival attractions ranging from clowns and magicians to dancers and knife throwers. The three fables are represented with interesting twists and an absolutely amazing costume and set design, every detail extraordinarily elaborate. Director Bousman makes a good choice in centering most of the over-arching story around John (Sean Patrick Flannery), whose character seems to anchor the audience with a degree of sympathy regarding his own sins and grief. The carnival side show attractions have incredible fun with their parts, with grand gestures and an overly dramatic flair.
The songs are an interesting change of pace from the techno-industrial flair in Repo, making a conscious effort to sound much more “carny” with horns, strings, and uneven tempos. Each story tends to follow with a pair of songs describing the personal story of the character and further thought on the Fable associated with their tale. I liked the songs personally, but some were near-misses with me and others who were forced to listen to my new CD in the car.
Though comparisons to their previous feature may seem unfair; the advertising boasts that this is a reunion for various cast, crew, and the creators behind Repo! The Genetic Opera. And in that vein “The Devil’s Carnival” is somewhat inferior as a stand-alone project. It lacks the character depth of the previous project and its’ pacing seems all over the place, clocking in at 55 minutes with little having been accomplished in that time. We hear some small fables, we see some interesting characters, but the movie ends with a bit of a cliff hanger as both Bousman and Zdunich have made claims that this is intended to be an episodic piece with a more expansive story. But without those later tales, the film only has itself to judge it by. So to that end, The Devil’s Carnival is a fun ride that doesn’t quite live up to it’s predecessor.
4 out of 5.
Psycho Gothic Lolita
It’s time for some more WTF-Japan!
After her mother is assassinated by a gang of ruthless street criminals, Yuki dons the fashionably cute Lolita garb with a black leather Gothic twist in order to exact her bloody violent revenge on the killers. With a premise as short and tempting as that, how could I possibly resist this feature on a lazy Sunday morning? HOW?!?!! And here’s what I expected… blood geysers, fetish-wear, screaming, sub-titles, and really strange wire work. That’s what I got…. And it was well done. While not quite as gore-ified as “Machine Girl”, the movie had its’ fair share of slapstick blood and guts and was just silly enough to be entertaining without being overwhelming. The story is fairly predictable with a few twists and turns, but this is largely “action-horror” anime straight out of the 90’s with little narrative thought throughout. The movie knows what it is and relishes in it.
3.5 out of 5.
This one was an odd duck… so bear with me on it, because I really think genre fans should definitely give it a go.
The story is about a Civil War veteran who returns home to find his wife and son have been attacked by zombies, a horror he once faced during the war of the states. Surrendering to his grief, our lead protagonist takes us on a journey to dispose of his sons’ ashes near the falls where he once found peace during the war. The story unfolds as a journey through the desolate wasteland left behind in the aftermath of the war, zombies roaming the country-side, and desperate survivors struggling with the monsters and one another. Though hampered by the budget, the film somehow manages to feel much bigger than it is and it has an almost epic feel to it. The lead character manages to carry the film on his back, often wandering alone through major chunks of the film with a skeleton cast of ensemble actors filling in various roles.
If you enjoy low budget films struggling to make the most of their budget, this film is for you. Every dollar is on the screen for your examination but this isn’t just some sort of zombie “shoot ‘em up”… this is far more “Western” and character study than it is a gore-filled ride through violence. Taking note that this movie is one of the few to violate my major “rule” regarding the genre, the movie doesn’t use the moment for cheap shock and gives it the impact and emotional depth such a thing should incur.
5 out of 5.