utorak, 28. kolovoza 2012.

John Hand - Frankensteins Bloody Nightmare (2006)

Kvazi-nadrealistička noćna mora na super-osmici? Istovremeno amaterski loše i underground-napušeno. Sam film oponaša frankenštajnizam - prtljanje s tuđim "ostacima" kako bi se napravilo skrpano (ovdje filmsko) "biće" koje se otima kontroli. Lo-fi krea(k)cionizam.

Brilliant young Victor Karlstein finds himself lost in an abyss of personal turmoil and professional stress after the woman he most likely seemed to love dies while under the care of his own mysterious medical facility. Determined to keep her alive, Victor uses his mechanically-enhanced reanimated corpse to murder young women in order to furnish "raw parts" for her new body, among other devious things.
A grainy echo of experimental and fantastic films of years past rendered in wild splashes of saturated super-8 cinematography, Frankensteins Bloody Nightmare is the debut feature from writer/producer/director John R. Hand.

Frankensteins Bloody Nightmare

Frankensteins Bloody Nightmare is a wild cocktail of nightmarish sensibilities; its death nerve twitches to a disquieting mish-mash of strange images and even stranger sounds. The credits say this film is presented in Vistachrome70, which may as well be a type of blender given the story's warped avant-garde arrangement, which oozes suggestive menace. Director John R. Hand has taken great pains to disguise his miniscule budget, but he has done so with great imagination (which is to say, he does more than shake his camera around like the makers of Feast), catching characters and landscapes at peculiar angles and giving his Super-8 celluloid a molten quality via acid-freaky shifts in audio-visual register. The story is that of Victor Karlstein (Hand), a young doctor who's determined to keep a girl alive by harvesting parts for her new body. As the murder count rises, detectives begin to come around, but their inquisition transpires in barely audible whispers, as does much of the film's dialogue. A crucial scene has Victor giggling for minutes on end, waiting for one of his victims to succumb to a sedative he puts in her drink. This is some crazy shit, not unlike Victor's monster, who sees in digital video and whose face looks like something out of Cronenberg. Burps, ticks, and hisses fill the soundtrack, and the score by the The Greys suggests Vangelis on a mix of ecstasy, ketamine, and weed. The story is bootleg but Hand's head-trippy dissolving of consciousness is something fierce, inviting repeat viewings with a joint in hand.  - Ed Gonzales

WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: Missing apostrophe aside, there’s lots to admire about Frankensteins Bloody Nightmare, though not as much to love. Director Hand shows a remarkable technical ability to create unique visual and auditory environments inspired by the 1970s trash movies of Jean Rollin, Lucio Fulci, and Andy Milligan, but with with their cheap, desperate Super-8 stylistics exaggerated to surreal levels. The problem is that, for all its technical ingenuity, the movie has no story to tell, which will cause the average viewer to lose interest quickly.
COMMENTS: Frankensteins flesh may be recycled out of various parts snatched from grindhouse graveyards, but its heart was taken straight from the arthouse. One man show John R. Hand (writer/director/editor/composer/star) obviously watched a lot of 1970s horror cheapies growing up, and (like us) he was clearly more impressed by the mysterious artificial ambiances created by grainy film stock and heavy use of theremins, oscillators and other weird sci-fi audio effects than he was by the nudity and gore those drive-in auteurs depended on to sell tickets. Nightmare strips away the exploitation elements from these flicks (bloody it ain’t), adopting only the bare outline of a mad scientist story; it seizes the distressed visuals and shaky audio that remains, and amplifies these leftovers to psychedelic levels. Hand himself is too boyish looking to convey the soul of a tortured scientist, and his acting is no better than the rest of the amateurs in the film. Given the intent to mimic an exploitation film this might not have detracted too much from the atmosphere, had there just been enough story and action to keep the viewer engaged. Dialogue is sometimes muffled and inaudible, making a difficult-to-follow story nearly impossible. It’s a bizarre experience to feel lost inside a the plot of a movie where almost nothing is happening onscreen, in terms of story development. Stylistically, on the other hand, there’s always something going on. The opening mixes grainy home-video style footage with bright, solarized footage depicting a pitchfork assault; strange whines, moans, blips, and electronic drones assault our ears, building to a dissonant crescendo. The film changes style every five minutes or so, as we tour Hand’s portfolio of foggy lenses, overexposed film, desaturated colors, psychedelic color filters, thermal imaging, a psycho-sexual dream sequence, all accompanied by a disquieting soundtrack of distorted Moog organs and overdubbed tape effects. The penultimate scene in the film contains an absolutely beautiful effect where the autumn landscape, then an actress’ face, magically and organically melt into abstract blobs of orange and gold and purple (the director’s commentary reveals the cheap and ingenious method by which it was achieved: household bleach on still photographs). Overall, Nightmare is a worthy experiment that’s successful in short stretches, but could have used a lot more story. A few bare boobs and a pint or two of gooey stage blood, the key elements this film’s inspirations never would have left out, would also have livened things up.
I can see why James Felix McKenney would give Frankensteins Bloody Nightmare an honorable mention on his top 10 weird movies list. Depending as it does on discount techniques for creating striking moods, this is a movie that can almost serve as a textbook to Hand’s fellow micro-budget filmmakers. - 366weirdmovies.com
OK, the above line is from the 1931 classic Frankenstein. It is not uttered in Frankensteins [sic] Bloody Nightmare, at least as far as I could decipher from the soundtrack, but then this movie has very little to do with the Frankenstein story. There is a nightmare sequence, but it's more gooey than bloody. The film might just as well have been called Rocky Balboas [sic] Bloody Nightmare or Frankenstein: Pig in the City.
What we have here is an experiment, a proudly cheap little project that one person wrote, directed, starred in, shot, scored, edited, and so on. That person is one John R. Hand, a twentysomething fellow from Florida, and this is his only screen credit. Mr. Hand is ambitious, resourceful, and creative—but has he made a movie worth seeing? Well, that depends on just what kind of movie you want to see.
Hand shot Frankensteins Bloody Nightmare on video and Super-8 film, using a variety of filters and low-budget effects. Virtually all audio was post-dubbed, and the dialogue does not always "synch up" particularly well. The words "grainy" and "oversaturated" apply to both the look of the film and the soundtrack, but not necessarily in a bad way. Visually, the film has a poetic quality, and its roughness has a distinct charm, as do the non-dialogue parts of the soundtrack. It's both surreal and headache-inducing, a seemingly abstract collage of images and sounds with just enough narrative structure to create a semblance of plot.
And here is where the experiment falters, big time. Hand may have a story to tell that goes with these images, but damned it I could figure it out just by watching the movie. After listening to the commentary, watching the "Making of" feature, and reading anything I could find on the Web, here's what I came up with: Young Dr. Victor Karlstein (Hand) runs some kind of clinic/research center. His father and grandfather had run the business, and he inherited it, along with long-time assistant Andrew Milligan (homage alert). Victor's girlfriend, Victoria Vermillion (Amy Olivastro), is dying, possibly because of something Victor did or did not do. She dies. There are some murders, both before and after her death, because Victor needs body parts to reanimate his love (even though she's still technically animated when the murders commence). There's a guy with head that looks like cauliflower gone bad who is actually a burn victim who carries out Victor's bidding. And the people at the clinic seem to be plotting against Victor. And Victoria's sister, Tara (also Olivastro), visits. And…
And this is what sucks about the movie. It's not only that it's incomprehensible, it's that anything involving characters, plot, or dialogue is just amateurishly bad. I don't mean Ed Wood bad or Ray Dennis Steckler bad, I mean your 16-year-old nephew with a video camera bad. Half the dialogue is unintelligible; as for the other half, you'll wish it was unintelligible. Plot points are introduced, then randomly discarded.
John R. Hand may be many things, but an actor Hand is not, nor is he a particularly engaging presence. Since everything in the film revolves around his character, this adds a significantly unwelcome layer of pretension. In general, I found Hand to be kind of irritating, which made the extras something of a hard sell, because they are all Hand, all the time. First is the aforementioned "Making of," which is just a talking Hand, along with some outtakes. Hand prattles on for 12-plus minutes about his philosophies on filmmaking and life in general. He's not exactly inarticulate, but he does seem quite full of himself in an undergraduate kind of way. Then there's the commentary, in which Hand (who is too close to the microphone, and at times has a noticeable and unfortunate post-nasal drip) gives us a blow-by-blow of not only what we are seeing, but what he would like us to see; this is necessary, since you won't get it from the acting or action. This is possibly the only DVD where I would recommend listening to the commentary before watching the movie.
In the commentary, Hand does explain the title, which is a riff on/homage to a Paul Naschy film, Frankenstein's Bloody Terror. Hand references a lot of other filmmakers, including Jess Franco, Joe D'Amato, David Lynch, and Andrei Tarkovsky. Ironically, he doesn't mention Guy Maddin. At times, the look of Frankensteins Bloody Nightmare reminded me of The Saddest Music in the World, but since Music also had wit, irony, characterization, memorable performances, a plot, and moments of genuine brilliance, the similarities ended there.
The film is presented full frame, which is pretty much the perfect format for this; the images would be wiped out in a widescreen presentation. If you're watching this as a kind of trippy party DVD, the 5.1 Surround option adds a nice texture to the soundtrack.
Perhaps if Hand the producer, director, editor, cinematographer, and composer had been working with someone other than Hand the actor and Hand the writer, this project might have come off as something more than an interesting-looking vanity production. As it is, it's more like an admirable effort of a student film stretched out to feature length; at 77 minutes, it is too long by half. If you are looking for a horror movie, steer clear of this one; if experimental cinema, no matter how self-indulgent, is more to your liking, you might want to at least give this one a rental.
In the "Making of" feature, Hand discusses the concept and making of Frankensteins Bloody Nightmare: "It's like peeling an onion, there's nothing inside, it's just this empty core…but you've got this beautiful wrapping." While Hand is clearly better suited to filmmaking than farming, I pretty much agree with the metaphor. Not every film has to have a linear structure, but Frankensteins Bloody Nightmare is all style with no anchor.
Frankensteins Bloody Nightmare is ordered sent back to the lab for some retuning, while John R. Hand is ordered into a work-release program where he will study plot, structure, and characterization, and take a subordinate role in a professional project. Mr. Hand's ego, however, is to be locked up in solitary confinement. Please join me in throwing away the key. - www.dvdverdict.com/

  I recently got an interview with the director of the pseudo-surreal nightmare that is Frankensteins Bloody Nightmare.

SS: Hello, John. I noticed the way you filmed Frankensteins Bloody Nightmare looked inspired and original. How did you decide how you wanted it to look and feel?

JRH: Well I definitely wanted the film to look and sound like it came from another planet. At first I was just going for a kind of vintage or retro vibe because I'd seen some films where all the press kept pushing the whole vintage/retro/seventies angle and I'd just watch these films and I knew these people hadn't seen an issue of Cinemagic, just totally lifeless to me. I mean I'm sure they were fine people and artists but come on, vintage is more than just some grain and endless digital scratches. So part of it was the know-it-all in my thinking I could do better. Then another part of it was my love of films like Begotten, films which exists in another world. So I think a certain set of happy accidents along with my experimental tendencies pushed what started more as a kind of homage to eurohorror into something a little stranger.

SS: In the one scene where Victor went to his friends with the formaldehyde, his friend said, “Wait a minute” and I began to count the seconds. It strangely was close to exactly one minute. Was there anything behind that or just a goof?

JRH: It wasn't exactly a goof, I mean I purposely directed Billy to just kind of take this very odd pause and let the music play out behind him in order to build a little atmosphere. He also turns the volume down by rotating it clockwise, which usually turns the volume up. Even that still makes sense to me. That was a horrible night man, because I'd spent all day dressing up that room with all kind of texture, character stuff, in-jokes, etc., and there was supposed to be about three or four other actors coming down and giving this very seedy vibe to the whole thing along with these little vignettes which you could see Victor to and kind of help to build his character, but I didn't know these people so I also invited my friend Wade to come along to kind of corral these people that I didn't know. Well that wasn't a problem because none of them showed up and I just basically put Wade in the costume and he played the role. Then I dubbed his voice using the voice of my cameraman Brian, just to give it a strange, otherworldly feel. Wade is also wearing a very large shirt in the scene which was actually a movie prop I bought at an estate sale - it was a shirt that Tyrese wore in 2 Fast, 2 Furious, which someone won from a Starz movie contest or something, at least that's what the certificate of authenticity states. I'm sure they probably had a couple dozen replica shirts so who knows if that exact shirt was used in the film but if you study the shirt it really looks like a movie prop because all the identifying tags and everything have been carefully trimmed off and if you look as some press photos of Tyrese from the film and then watch my movie it's pretty clear that they're the same style shirt.

SS: Did you borrow anything traits/habits from yourself to fit the character Victor?

JRH: Victor has a few of my character traits in that he's this kind of introverted little guy. He's also incredibly paranoid - throughout the film he's constantly glancing around, wondering if someone's watching him. I don't think we're ever really sure if someone actually is or if these heat video displays are just his internal idea of what the people watching him are seeing. I'm kind of glad you picked up on some of that in your review because it seems like most people can't even get that and I don't even think it's that hard to grasp. Basically the film is this - it's just one guy's descent into madness. I think I'm a little paranoid, I used to be morose, but I think I brought a lot of that paranoid energy to the core of the role and to the core of the film itself.

SS: How did you decide on the origins of the beast? Was he brainwashed of sorts?

JHR: I think many people are little unclear of the who/what the beast is. It's pretty laid out in a very logical way by Victor at the end of the film during his little heatgram monologue but if you read every synposis or review you find that each critic kind of interprets the plot a little different, which I think is neat, because this is not necessarily a true-blue expermental film - it DOES have a plot, so it's kind of weird that there's this strange leeway in the plot for different interpretations. Some people think the monster is even Victoria. Anyway, my story on this is basically Victor's - he's just some guy that Victor found that he was able to revive and control. I don't think he was really brainwashed per se, but he didn't really have any higher brain functions beyond those sparks of memory which comprise that weird black-and-red experimental film sequence. There's kind of an Astrozombies vibe to the beast, and he was also supposed to have more a presence until that head I built was much too large so I kept cutting him back, also he was supposed play prominently at the end of the film and I cut that all out as well when I found the chemical burn technique for the photos.

SS: Any word on the next project you will do, do you see it being released under Unearthed, and will it be filmed in Super8?

JRH: I'd like to work with Unearthed again but maybe next time I'd have to be under a decent budget. They're always looking to move into production so who knows, stranger things have happened. I really like Super-8 but right now I've just getting my camera and lighting equipment together for this new film I'm making and I'm shooting in HD, 1080p, just because you can't get such quality along with the shots that you can get using these lightweight HD cameras. Basically the camera I've got is about twice the size of my tiny little Chinon Super-8 camera but it's shooting 1080p. It's just incredible to me.

SS: The film is obviously inspired by Frankenstein but I couldn’t help but noticing similarities in Buio Omega. Anything behind that?

JRH: I was heavily inspired by that film, which actually for me provided that initial spark to put together thing film. Some people it's Spielberg or Kevin Smith. For me it's Buio Omega. Of course you've got the superficial similarities, like the guy with his girlfriend who dies and then kind of comes back her sisters, other certain elements, but as I said at the beginning I took my initial ideas to such a strange place that it doesn't really resemble Buio Omega anymore. Also, I was interesting in taking that sketch of an idea, the guy with the girl, and then exploring the psychosexual identity of guy - did he really even love this girl, or did she even exist beyond his tangled delusional framework? That's why the whole scene with the guys in the alley has this really strange sexual edge to me, like it's this character confronting his masculinity against the cold blue night - blue, the color of a kind of emotional sleep. My next film's going to be really blue, by the way. I think there were number of additional scenes which could've fleshed Victor out a little more but by the end of the film I had run out of steam and also I was always looking for things to cut out of the film in order to make the film feel a little more vague and internal, not to confuse people but so that some people might even relate to better. Some people, I guess, maybe not everyone, but that's okay.

SS: Many thanks for the interview John. Best wishes for your directorial future. Any final words for our readers?

JRH: Well I just hope people like the next film I'm making. That's about it. You know, you say that this film is ripe for a prequel or sequel and I'd like to tell you that I'd love to do a sequel maybe a decade or so later but this time i'd be like an Italian horror film in a castle with my midget friend that I give birth to who hits people with a hammer - he doesn't really kill anyone, he just hits them with the hammer and laughs like a maniac.  - Interview at  www.soiledsinema.com

John R. Hand formed JRH Films with the goal producing work with a unique style which incorporate elements of both conventional narrative, experimental cinema and documentary form into bold new works.
His debut feature-length film which he photographed in Super-8, Frankensteins Bloody Nightmare, garnered a peculiar degree of underground acclaim for it's annoying combination of surrealist logic and vintage horror set-pieces. Joe Leydon wrote in Variety that the film "...plumbs the lower depths of awfulness to a degree unmatched by pictures merely inept and/or pretentious" and could "become a cult item by dint of its befuddling cruddiness." Hand's follow-up film was the enigmatic post-apocalyptic fairy tale Scars of Youth.
Hand went on to co-produce the documentary Like Father, Like Son which tells the story famed entertainer and cult movie director Duke Mitchell through the perspective of his son Jeffrey Mitchell. John has also gone on to work with Mike Ensley and Chip Chism on the long-running creature feature program "Nightmare Theatre," whose host segments have been seen on Spike TV.

Nightmare Theatre (2009-2012, 120 min. SD and HD)
Series Co-Producer / Director / Editor / Cinematographer

Like Father, Like Son (2009, 70 min., HD)
Documentary Co-Producer / Director / Editor/ Cinematographer

Scars of Youth (2009, 82 min., HD)

Pygmalion and Galatea (1997-2007, 2 min. 57 sec., 16mm)
Writer / Producer / Director / Editor / Cinematographer

Frankensteins Bloody Nightmare (2006, 77 min., Super-8 and MiniDV)
Writer / Producer / Director / Editor / Cinematographer

Retard Boy (1996, 23 min., Video)
Writer / Producer / Director / Editor / Cinematographer

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