Wow, my mind has officially been blown by Panos Cosmatos’ second feature film ‘Mandy’! I was lucky enough to catch it this crazy ass flick last Sunday evening at Cinema 21 here in Portland with a rowdy packed theater. I’m damn glad I decided to make a run to the cinema rather than renting this online ‘cuz in my opinion that’s the absolute best way to see this one for the first time. After watching the steaming pile of crap that was ‘The Predator’ at a matinee Friday, a movie like Mandy was a complete and total breath of fresh air. I guess the best thing to say here is this movie may not be for everyone, but if you’re ready to take one of the craziest mind bending cinematic journeys of the last couple decades then you’re gonna fucking love it. Hell even the poster is awesome!
Mandy is a completely insane revenge flick set in the early 80’s and it’s unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed before. I’m so used to seeing big crappy Hollywood blockbusters in the theater, so this was a bit of of a welcome shock to my noggin. The whole movie plays out like an uncomfortable fever dream, with Nicholas Cage as a logger named “Red” who lives out in the Pacific Northwest with his beautiful but eerily mesmerizing girlfriend Mandy. They live a quiet, serene life in an incredibly strange home in the middle of the woods, with large glass walls that bring to mind elements of a real life fairy tale. Everything’s dark yet overly drenched in vibrant hues of reds, purples & thick lush colors creating a surreal landscape that feels like a dream put right on the screen in front of you. It’s a spectacle to behold and it’s clear from the start that Red & Mandy have been through a lot together, sharing a truly special bond in their secluded life. Mandy works at a nearby convenience store, wears cool heavy metal tees and loses herself in fantasy novels while Red spends his time chopping down trees with his chainsaw. The two of them are pictured intently watching 80’s horror flicks together (NIGHTBEAST!), chatting about what their favorite planets are, showing they’re living a rather sweet, simple and innocent life together at this point.
Well shit majorly hits the fan when a crazy van full of uber religious cult members roll into the area and their leader spots the oddly beautiful Mandy walking on the road one day. The cult leader is seemingly hypnotized by her and quickly declares that he must have her for his own. The first hour of the movie is pretty slow moving but in the best way possible, though we don’t get much backstory, we do get a clear picture of the love Mandy & Red share for each other, which makes what follows all that more intensely heartbreaking. I don’t want to spoil anything here, but let’s just say this cult goes the full distance to send Nicholas Cage into a fully batshit crazy journey that’s part Evil Dead, part Hellraiser and part LSD drenched revenge fantasy. I know people have a sort of ironic love for Nicholas Cage these days but seriously Cage fully shines here in easily one of his best performances of his career. He’s awesome and not in some ridiculous sort of way. The movie goes to some truly bizarre places, the violence plentiful and there are a ton of oddball surprises all along the way.
The movie even has a sense of humor as well, though it feels like an unsettling waking nightmare most of it’s run time, there’s something truly comforting about having Nic Cage there with you as your guide through the mayhem of it all. It gives you a sense of hope that just maybe you’ll make it out of it all alive somehow. There’s also a strong heavy metal vibe to film, not just in it’s imagery but also in the score, which is completely breathtaking in it’s thunderous doom metal delivery through the hellish otherworldly landscapes. The music here is incredible and liley half of the charm of why Mandy works so damn well honestly.
There’s also cool hand drawn animated interludes that bring to mind the 1981 cult classic “Heavy Metal” in the best ways possible. Add in amazing practical fx work, crazy gore, epic weapon crafting, chainsaws, Goblin Mac & Cheese (just wait and see), drugs galore, demonic cenobite like bikers and a sweet ass cameo from Predator’s Bill Duke and you’ve got yourself one truly freaky epic horror masterpiece unlike anything you’ve like ever seen before. I can’t say enuff good things about this movie, it’s still floating around in my head four days after viewing it. I can though easily say that Mandy thus far is my favorite movie of 2018!
Looking for a cool new Halloween Horror flick to watch this year and are all out of new ideas?! Well I’ve got a fun one for you, ‘Deathgasm’ will deliver the mayhem and then some as the perfect Halloween party flick this year. This new movie, straight out of New Zealand delivers the blood and guts in the same vein as Peter Jackson’s classic splatter flick ‘Dead Alive’. Yep what you’ll get here is a full on black metal gore fest brimming with comedy and heart. This one would play quite nicely next to the 1986 classic “Trick or Treat” as it’s quite similar actually in many ways. Which is always a good thing of course.
It’s the story of teenage metal head who’s mom goes crazy and he’s sent to live with his uncle in a small town. His new surrogate family thinks he’s a total freak and his meathead cousin has got in in for him big time. At school he’s picked on and develops a crush on his evil cousins preppy girlfriend. Totally down on his luck he finally meets a fellow metalhead and starts a metal band eventually leading them to playing an ancient song that awakens vicious demons that run rampant all over town. From here things get super crazy as the band must find a way to reverse the spell and send the pesky demons straight back to hell!
As you might guess this is no easy task and the band has to slaughter of fuck ton of demons in the process. There’s a ton of crazy gore, heads flying, bodies sliced in two, weaponized twenty sided dice, dildos and of course anal beads. Yeah you heard that correct. This is a party movie above and beyond being a gory ass horror flick and is really the perfect flick for a wild crowd at a Halloween party this year. The movie delivers some pretty excellent practical effects as well and doesn’t skimp on the laughs either. It’s really more of Comedy than anything else which might be my only real gripe with it.
I totally dig horror comedies but I think this one might have benefitted a bit more in playing it’s story a bit more heavy handed. Sometimes the modern horror comedies play a bit too heavily to keep the fans too in on the joke. However this is one of the stronger flicks of the genre I’ve seen recently.
It reminds me a bit of the awesome 2007 flick Jack Brooks Monster Slayer (another great choice of a movie for Halloween), especially a scene in Deathgasm that’s almost a total rip from Robert Englund’s amazing performance in ‘Jack Brooks’. Lastly any fans of true metal will likely dig the music and the references to many classic death, grindcore and black metal bands. So if you’re in the mood for the perfect movie to crowd around with your buddies and a bunch of weed and booze this Halloween make no mistake Deathgasm IS your flick!!