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Saturday, 4 May 2013

The current Independent Sci-fi and Horror movie scene…..

One of the unexpected joys that I've experienced since beginning this blog at the end of 2012 has been the completely unexpected outcome that anybody has wanted to read my self-indulgent ramblings. I was something of a nerd in my teens - when it was nowhere near as 'cool' to be nerdy or geeky as it is these days - and I find myself in my late forties and still a nerd at heart. And the great thing is, thanks to the social networking explosion, the Internet et al, there are many like-minded people out there. 

Another side effect of the fact that this blog hasn't been an unmitigated disaster has been my growing appreciation of the thriving independent movie scene around the world. I've always been wary of being one of the mainstream and perhaps my nerdiness and teenage immersion in all things science fiction and horror was something of a barrier against the bland beige ordinariness of mainstream existence. Don't get me wrong, when it comes to science fiction, fantasy and horror, just because it may be mainstream, that doesn't necessarily make it bad. I really don't want to jump on the "there's too much reliance on CGI and special effects' bandwagon. While there may be some truth to that viewpoint, there is still great mainstream sci-fi & horror being produced. And don't even get me started on the joys of The Hobbit and LOTR.

However, ever since I can remember, I've had a special place in my twisted little heart for the more independent of film productions; John Waters, Russ Meyer, John Carpenter to name but three have all born testament to the bravery, inspiration, creativity and sheer bloody-mindedness it must take to fight against the expectations of the movie establishment to get a 'lesser' low-budget piece of work not only completed, but accepted. For there is a view held by many that is less than charitable when it comes to opinions towards low-budget independent movies, especially low-budget science fiction or horror. I won't list the plethora of 'accusations' again that I often hear directed towards these sub-genres - it has a rather unhealthy effect on my heart rate. Besides which, many in the indie movie field probably couldn't give a flying toss about peoples opinions, they just want to create the best work that they can.

So I guess that its up to the likes of me to fight their corner - whether they like it or not! Last week my latest blog entry was the result of being lucky enough to have been in contact with the makers of 'Spidarlings', a soon to be released comedy/horror musical. For which their Facebook page will give you the latest information on their project.

This week I'm highlighting 2 productions; one science fiction one horror. The first of which is in pre-production, the second one was released towards the end of 2012.

Iron Cloud

By Nikodem Wojciechowski

This group of independent filmmakers from Poland are led by the writer and director Nikodem Wojciechowski. The team is in the early pre-production stages of a short film Science Fiction drama 'Iron Cloud' - the sci-fi drama which is now in pre-production phase. The film begins shooting in June / July of this year . 

A short while ago Niko contacted me and asked me if I would help spread the word about his upcoming science fiction production. As yet there are only a few details that I can share with you as Niko is understandably cautious in overdoing the amount of detail in regard to the plot and filming. So in the meantime we'll have to be satisfied with a few snippets of information for this soon to be filmed 30 minute long movie.

The film is set In a future of an unspecified date. Two brothers live in a poor, Eastern country which is ruled by corrupted caste of dignitaries.  It seems that life for the brothers has taken a turn for the worse after the younger brother gets beaten during an interrogation and the older one’s home destroyed by a police raid. The boy manages to arrange a plan of escape to an unnamed free, technologically advanced neighbouring country. There will be no return. He goes on this one-way trip with the older brother and his wife and daughters they manage to evade the soldiers and break trough the closed border. However, during the walk through  no-man’s land, when immigrants are so close to their dream goal, things get decidedly worse. Ultimately, the Technocratic West will welcome them with open arms and give them shelter but not exactly in a way they have always expected.
It will soon turn out that their new home - apparently a perfect place to live - is only a new version of prison which people build for one another.

Niko has told me that the inspiration and theme for the story are deeply rooted in the works of such science fiction luminaries such as Philip Dick and especially Stanislaw Lem. Writers who have also asked questions such as whether the physical elimination of violence, made possible by advanced nanotechnology, will result in a pure Utopian society? Or does the the nature of human behaviour mean that there results will be nothing more than dystopian?  

The Iron Cloud team doing some pre-production location work
The film is intended to be less reliant on the CGI infested mainstream of science fiction and intend to delve into the psychological and social existence of a futuristic society as Niko says;

"It’s all about deliberately showing fragments of our world, and building the effect of strangeness like Jean Luc Godard - by placing foreign objects (props or behaviour) in it."
The film won’t give clear answers, won’t moralise. It will leave room for interpretation.

The Facebook page link for Iron Cloud can be found here here

The very first  teaser trailer below doesn't give any information at all - except for the stunning piece of atmospheric music that accompanies the simple sound formation film. However, if the rest of the production is as half as effective and emotive as the music, I can't wait to see more!

The first teaser video for Iron Cloud

Behind The Cross (2012)
by Macabre Media

Behind the Cross - Trailer [HD] (2012)

BEHIND THE CROSS is a 38 minute long 2012 independent horror film from Finnish director Tomi Kerminen. I can safely say that it's like nothing I've seen for some time.
Tomi - looking far less mad than in his movie

It is a film that, when I watched it for the first time today, simply blew me away with its relentlessly aggressive assault on the senses. That assault still lingered after the second viewing and left me with more questions than answers - which is something all pieces of art should do.

It isn't easy viewing, and nor should it be. Some people, even those well versed in the horror genre, will find the visual aspect of the movie brutality upsetting. Not only that, it isn't straight forward step by step story telling - oh no, it jumps cunningly from point to point in the story. Not only does this give us a sense of the insanity of the main protagonist, it also serves to install in the viewer a true feeling of not being in control of what we are seeing. 

Beneath this brutal and unrelenting surface of the degradation, there are other things happening. Questions that Tomi Kerminen isn't at all afraid to ask us. But before I explore those questions, the story itself.

So how do I begin describing the plot? 

Essentially it is the story of Father Michael, who when we join him in the movie, is already well down the road on his personal journey into the depths of insanity. To say that he is having a crisis of faith would be something of an under-statement. 

It seems that a life that has been somewhat disturbed ( curtesy of some horrifying flashback episodes to his childhood) has now manifested itself beyond simple spiritual breakdown and become the literal definition of atrocity and horror. Father Michael's monstrous acts of violence and murderous depravity mirror his continuing ability to still find a psychotic link to his faith in the hope that god will still absolve him from the terrible sins he is committing.

So we have themes in this movie of sex, torture, insanity and religion. So no one to upset there then? Still not offended? Well ok then, as we also have scenes of a priest masturbating in his car, masturbating also to a shop mannequin, or him urinating over his still sleeping gimp. Jolly good. What is truly interesting about this film is the connection between the murderous mind go a madman and the world of his religious life. The film is rich in the symbolism of his faith and how it interacts with the priest's descent into insanity - this truly is a voyage into the ocean depths of a madman.

Yes it is brutal. Yes it is relentless in it's depiction of murder and madness. However there is also a genuine hint of the humour from Tomi and his approach to the subject matter. The humour my be on the black side, but it is humour nonetheless, and certainly not at the expense of the victims.

Tomi has described to me the style of his film as experimental, aggressive and even avant-garde. There is a definite nod to some of the masters and era's of horror - the influence of Tobe Hooper of The Texas Chainsaw massacre fame is certainly apparent. It is certainly all of those things, and more. It is beautifully shot, which together with the clever editing and lighting serves to continually unbalance and unsettle the viewer. Not only do we witness the priest's madness and depravity, we by virtue of the film's style, almost became part of the depravity itself.

It's not looking good for the Father….

I truly admire the risks that Tomi takes in producing a movie of this subject matter. Yes it is dealing with themes and actions that will offend many people. It is not for the faint hearted, nor is is for the closed-minded. For the movie is asking questions and it makes you think. But don't take my word for it, find it and watch it for yourself.

The Facebook page link for Behind The Cross can be found here.


  1. Behind The Cross was a brilliant movie I watched it and yes I will be watching it again. I think your review of this movie is very witty and well written.

    1. Thank you Michael. Yep, I plan on watching it again this weekend!