8mm (1999)

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Tom Welles (Nicolas Cage) is a private investigator who is hired by a widow called Mrs. Christian (Myra Carter) to see if a roll of 8mm film that has been found in her recently deceased husbands belongings contains footage that is authentic or not. The footage shows a teenage girl been raped and murdered by a man in a mask. Tom watches the film first to get an idea of what’s on it as is stunned by what he sees. He travels to L.A to see if he can find someone who can assist him in tracking down more information.

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Upon reaching L.A, Tom visits a porn store to find someone who may know where snuff films are made. There he meets a shop worker called Max California (Joaquin Phoenix). Max thinks Tom is messing him about at first, but then finds that it’s not a joke. Max tells Tom that he may know a place where they can find movies like the one Tom has. They go to an underground porn market where there is some seriously questionable shit. However it doesn’t bring them any closer to their goal. Upon looking at the film again, Tom notices the masked man has a symbol on his hand. He tracks this symbol down to a porn distributor Dino Velvet (Peter Stormare) and another man called Eddie Poole (James Gandolfini), who may know more than they are letting on.

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The deeper Tom goes into the depraved world of underground porn, the more he finds out how far humankind will go for the ultimate sexual thrill. Written by Andrew Kevin Walker (Se7en), this is one seriously dark film. Probably the closest Hollywood has come to a European style sexual thriller. I did read that the original script had a much darker ending, which had Tom Welles kill himself. The film is bleak enough without a fucking depressing ending like that.

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I must say though that I did like this film. It flows along brilliantly and it has a kick ass ending, better than the bleak as fuck one I mentioned above. This was a time when Nicolas Cage was actually on top form and not the money grabbing whore he’s become now. The supporting cast is great, including a role for the go to slimeball of choice Anthony Heald. It’s definitely worth a watch and not as horrible as A Serbian Film.

4/5

JM

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Videodrome (1983)

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Max Renn (James Woods) runs a sleazy late night cable channel called CIVIC-TV. Max believes he gives the viewing public what they want. Sex, violence, nudity, you can find it on CIVIC-TV. However Max feels that his latest acquisition of Japanese softcore porn just doesn’t cut it. He wants something harder, something dirtier…something that will really pique his viewers interest. Max asks his tech guy Harlan (Peter Dvorsky) to find something for him. Peter tells Max he has just the thing. Peter operates the CIVIC-TV pirate dish and has found a signal broadcasting something called ‘Videodrome’, a kinky show which has no plot, just torture and sado-masochistic sex. Max thinks it’s just what is viewers want.

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Max appears on a talk show where he defends his programme decisions, feeling he provides a decent service. There he meets a a philosopher called Brian O’Blivion (Jack Creley) who never appears in person, and a radio psychiatrist called Nikki Brand (Debbie Harry) who he begins to have a relationship with. He shows her Videodrome and the begin to experiment in S&M. Later strange things begin to happen to Max. He sees a broadcast from Brian O’Blivion who tells him that soon television will take the place of every aspect of a persons life. Max also begins to have strange things happen physically. He learns that Videodrome was created to weed out the filth of society so that only the decent folk remain, since it’s only the filth and perverts that will watch Videodrome. All leading to a bloody conclusion.

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Directed by David Cronenberg when he was still heavily into his whole ‘body-horror’ phase, Videodrome is a movie that needs to be seen. It is a mind-fuck in every sense of the word. The effects for a movie that is 30yrs old are brilliant. I have always been a purist, so I just adore practical effects and this movie delivers.

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This is seriously worth a watch. If you’ve never seen it, then give it a go. It’s pretty crazy yes, but I have a feeling many will like it. If you’re into the weird shit, then you’ll dig this.

4/5

JM

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Cruising (1980)

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Steve Burns (Al Pacino) is a New York police officer. He is young, handsome and has a great girlfriend called Nancy (Karen Allen). Steve has aspirations¬† to get higher up in the NYPD and wants to be a detective. He is informed by his captain, (Paul Sorvino), that dismembered body parts are turning up around the city and that someone is murdering young gay men using S&M methods. Steve is asked by his captain if he’ll go undercover into the gay club scene to catch the killer, as he fits the victim profile. Steve is told that going undercover will help his chances of becoming a detective, so he accepts.

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Steve begins to trawl the gay nightclubs and leather bars looking for anyone that could be the killer. As he delves deeper and deeper into the seedy world of sex he begins to doubt his abilities to continue as he feels the job is changing him. You get the impression here that his character is fighting his own sexuality. The reaction to the murders from Steve’s colleagues also prompts Steve to think twice about continuing, plus the fact that he never gets to see his girlfriend Nancy.

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The face of the killer is never revealed. He just whistles a tune and sings “who’s here…..I’m here”. There are clues later on as to who the killer could or couldn’t be, so it’s definitely worth paying attention. I did hear from William Friedkin who is the director that the film was heavily cut, so this does have an effect on the narrative as you feel some information may be missing. There is also a disclaimer at the start of the movie as some gay men found the film very offensive, though there are many people that do like the movie. The film is very ambiguous in places, leaving you to decide as to the identity of the killer.

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The film is pretty full on. The scenes in the clubs are very explicit. This is down to the fact that Friedkin filmed in the real clubs around the meat packing district in New York, so the background extras are real club goers doing what they’d normally do. If the subject matter of this movie makes you uncomfortable, then steer clear. If however, like me, you are an open minded film fan and like to try new movies out, then jump in. I would recommend it to most people. As far as I know there are no plans for an uncut/extended release, so you’ll have to make do with this one. Enjoy!

4/5

JM

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