Romance is Dead

The Lustful Dead gives new meaning to the phrase, “a dead fuck.” While LD has been available in the U.S. since its release, Europe, and specifically the U.K haven’t been so lucky, and it has become quite hard to get a copy.

On the 15th of November, 2019 that all changes when the rest of the world is finally able to see Wade Radford’s darkest film. For those who aren’t familiar with Wade or his work, it’s simply to be said, you have to experience it for yourself. Mere words don’t do justice to his creations (his solo work as well as collaborations with Jason Impey), seeing is believing.

While I’ve written extensively about all of his movies in my upcoming book about Wade’s work, I’ve also said many, many times it is my favorite film of his, and I think one of, if not, the best performance of his career so far.

Lustful Dead is very simple, a filmmaker Joe Newton, interviews Haydn Reef, a self-proclaimed necrophiliac. The first half of the film is very reminiscent of Radford’s seminal work about pornography, Twink, simply an interview. Yet Haydn delights in teasing Newton as he explains very casually how he finds corpses and what he does with them.

Radford’s performance is chilling as he goes into explicit detail while petting his cat so lovingly. We truly are put in the director’s shoes in not quite believing Haydn, yet being repulsed by his actions. Those feelings get complicated as Haydn is nothing if not charismatic and you can’t help but liking him.

As the conversation goes on and grows more intense, Haydn shows the filmmaker around his flat on a tour he’ll never forget. You’ll have to watch it to see what happens. All I’ll say is that corpse in the bedroom isn’t just for show.

While you’re more apt to find Impey behind the camera, instead of in front, he does a fine job as the filmmaker in way, way, way over his head. His talent behind the camera is on display here as well, and he truly seems to be in his element.

As I mentioned earlier I think this is Radford’s best performance. With his short hair, and imposing demeanor, he truly unsettles the viewer at the same time you want to fuck him. A fine balancing act that few can do successfully. Anyone familiar with Radford’s Boys Behind Bars trilogy knows he pulls no punches, and erases any line conventional cinema may draw in the sand. And even as outrageous as they are, they’re nothing compared to what he gets up to in LD.

All that would be enough, but the fact all the dialog was improvised is a testament to his creativity as well as his acting.

To be completely open, Radford has been a close friend of mine for over five years, but that doesn’t mean I like everything he’s done. I don’t. And when that happens I’ll tell him.

However, when he makes something I like, and in this case love, I’ll shout it from the rooftops, and in this case Lustful Dead is one of the best indie horror movies of the last few years. It manages to be a bit of everything, but most of all, thought provoking. You’ll be thinking about it long after the final frame has faded to black.

Pre-order here

Black Wake: A Long Awaited Review

It’s always difficult reviewing a movie, book, music, etc of a friend or an acquaintance. You truly hope it doesn’t suck as much for your sake as theirs. After all, who likes to tell people that matter their work is subpar. With Black Wake, I’ve become friends with the director, Jeremiah Kipp through his appearances on the podcast, as well as through Facebook.  Jerry Janda the writer, has become someone I admire greatly, and we’ve done our own podcast as well. He was the first person to read my book Life in Amber, and I actually read an early version of the script for Black Wake before it even went into production. I’m Facebook friends with several of the actors in the movie, not to mention my cohort on  Imaginarium Todd Staruch has a cameo, as does Tom Ryan, the Faces director.

Fortunately, I don’t have to worry as Black Wake is a fun little movie, that has ideas far bigger than the budget allowed, and does the best it can, which is  actually quite a bit. It’s hard to categorize Black Wake. It’s found footage, but doesn’t always feel that way. It’s part sci-fi with definite horrific elements. It’s kind of a zombie movie but not really. There are traces of The Thing, but only fleeting glimpses. It’s definitely steeped in Lovecraft (including an homage to the man himself when someone is drawing him in a mural on the wall).  Mostly, Black Wake is its own thing. Rather than simply copying the tropes mentioned, BW uses them as a starting point, and in Kipp’s sure hand, mixes them into something familiar, but uncomfortable.

Most of the movie is seen through the eyes of two government agents who are following a woman around, for unknown reasons, and we also see substantial parts from her point of view. It’s to Kipp’s and Janda’s credit, that they’re able to keep things close to the vest and keep you wondering what the hell is going on. While it can be a bit confusing at times if you don’t pay attention, information is repeated enough that you quickly get back on track.

Nana Gouvea plays the woman being tracked, and she does a great job going from someone who is seemingly rational to utter batshit crazy by the end of the film. It’s a role that could have easily been overplayed, but Nouvea’s Dr. Moreira is very restrained, and pitch perfect. Two of my other favorite performances were by Kelly Rae LeGault as the “specimen”, and Johnny Beauchamp as the homeless man who is the catalyst for everything that transpires. LeGault is fun to watch, combining creepy and appealing. Her scene where she runs into a car full of bros is one of BW’s strongest scenes, due to her performance. Beauchamp’s character is a far cry from Angelique in Penny Dreadful and shows exactly the range of emotion he can portray. When pieces fall into place, his character is truly heartbreaking.

There are several other names in blink and you’ll miss them roles including Tom Sizemore, Eric Roberts, Vincent Pastore, and Chuck Zito among others. They all bring a legitimacy and believability to the movie that might otherwise not be there.

Unfortunately the rest of the acting is hit or miss. The two actors playing the Google Glass wearing government agents are a weak point. Their lack of emotion is one thing, but they also come across as automatons, and aren’t really believable in their roles. Uneven performances aside, there are some issues with the story that keep it from being all it could have been. It wants to tell a story about mind parasites but doesn’t trust itself enough, so it becomes a pseudo-zombie flick which dumbs it down a bit.

The effects are great as is most of the CGI. The blood you see is mostly a black ink which keeps things from being as graphic as they could have been. There’s also a completely gratuitous sex scene/kill scene that adds absolutely nothing to the story except a few minutes padding. Which brings up my biggest annoyance: the running time. Billed at 90 minutes, it’s actually closer to 78, as the last 12 minutes are the credits intermixed with bloopers/cut footage. I don’t mind that necessarily, but here it feels like it’s hiding how short it is.

Beyond all that, BW is really a good time, and a great way to spend part of a Friday night. BW is creepy, effective, and in spite of its limitations, lots of fun.