Friday, 19 July 2013

Book Review - Exquisite Corpse by Poppy Z Bright

So I don't usually read horror novels or stories. I'm a visual person but every now and then a book is so well written and the horror so well described I can visualise is as easily as if I was watching it on screen. Only time this has really happened with a horror is Stephen King so when a friend brought round some books for me to try, mostly crime and I found a book by "Poppy Z Bright" amongst them I thought why not.

Exquisite Corpse is the story of two serial killers. One a London based gay necrophiliac who escapes from the confines of his prison cell and travels across the pond and the other a gay cannibal with a liking for young tourists and runaways in New Orleans.

The first killer, Andrew Compton tells his story from the first person in past tense. Getting us deep into the mind of a psychopath. The depth Bright goes into to describe who he is and what he does is intense. Stomach churning accounts of how he murders, rapes and tears apart (in that order) his victims made me nauseous I could smell the blood and other bodily fluids. Compton is complex. The almost genuine love he feels for his victims is poetic and twisted.

Jay, our second killer is told from the third person and while his character is less complex and in depth as Compton he's still an interesting person. Jay is a wealthy man who uses his money to entice young homeless boys to his home where he drugs them, has sex with them and eventually kills them. Eating some, storing others for later use. Eventually the killers meet causing the perfect storm, you can see where it's going to go.

The theme seems to be HIV and Aids amongst gay men in the 80's. All the characters are male, gay and most of them HIV positive. One character, a complicated man named Luke life has been destroyed by testing positive for the virus and as during that time little was known about its cause or effects Luke is angry and in pain mentally and yearns for his ex lover, Tran, a Vietnamese homosexual who is a disgrace to his traditional family.

As far as horror goes, it's not supernatural but pure human destruction. The scariest kind. The story is captivating, devastating and brutal. The descriptions of the characters actions are vivid and in depth. During the climax if I hadn't been in the bath while reading I would have needed a scrub down afterwards!

I highly recommend this book for those intrigued by the criminal mind. It is written like an erotic novel but there is nothing titillating only provocative. I will be seeking out Brights other books but after reading Exquisite Corpse I will have fairly high expectations.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

August underground Part Three! (Finally!)

So its been a few weeks since i watched due to health, personal and other crap. So finally here is my review for August undergrounds Penance.

The trilogies finale at last. This is something else. Forget what you saw in the first 2, the 3rd and final part is a whole new level of nasty. You really have to really drop all morality while watching in order to sit through. And many a person has had to watch in parts. I hate doing that so I sat through it from opening to closing without stopping. I won't lie, I did kind of know what to expect. I knew the first 2 were tame compared to this one. Vogel really has outdone himself.

The story is pretty much the same. Now we have Fred and his girlfriend only. How much time has passed since part 2 is unknown. There is no real indication as to what happened to the brother but you can kind of put 2 and 2 together from the ending of Mordum. The atmosphere is very different. As always we see Fred and the girl doing couple things. Messing around, professing their love to each other. Being together like any other "normal" couple. As the film goes on and we see their crimes take place - much more explicit this time I should add - we feel a depressive atmosphere now. It isn't fun and games anymore. There are problems with Fred, personal issues we clearly get to know. He and the girl are not the same as they were previously, the love is dying. During a particularly disturbing and brutal home invasion scene, which I will admit, did get to me we see these issues clear as day. While Fred has become impotent and he needs more sick stimulation, his girlfriend has lost it. She goes from looking rather fresh faced at the beginning to looking tired, depressed and resembling a long term drug abuser. They come to blows eventually and the finale, what I really did not expect is intimate, distressing and just plain sad. To compare it to your run of the mill, emotionless torture porn is inaccurate. There is a lot more going on. Psychologists would have a field day with it. Fred and his girl would make perfect subjects for a psycho-sexual analyst and you can literally choose any scene and pick it apart to read between the lines.

The violence has escalated. A disgusting shot involving a fetus almost, (ALMOST) made me gag. There is a lot of internal organs to be seen. The home invasion scene - taken place during Christmas eve to add insult to injury - is explicit and brutal. Being shot in HD rather than the degraded footage from the earlier films is a bit disappointing. It was one of my favourite elements and gave it that sordid realistic underground feel I love but we do get to see all the blood, tissue and violence in all its glory and it shows off Toe-Tags FX team's amazing talent fully and I can appreciate it even more. I am again, extremely impressed!

Penance is definitely the highlight of the series. It is brutal, emotional and disturbing and while some changes were made, for better and for worse, the film stays true to its predecessors. Watching the self destruction of the serial killers is powerful. The way they go from youthful and excitable to tired and miserable is harsh. If they weren't who they were we'd feel sorry for them. Vogel, you've turned me! I was pretty negative towards this kind of horror before watching the series but now I've experienced it, I take back anything I've ever said!


Overall, the series hasn't been enjoyable. I am glad I sat through them and each one in full (Yeah I can now show off that badge of honor!). It certainly is an experience, but not one I'd recommend unless you know what to expect to an extent. This isn't a walk in the park and it is the epitome of extreme underground horror. While I wouldn't make them a regular watch I cannot fault them for being so bold. The talent among Toe-Tags is undeniable. Credit where credit is due, I am pleased, although not pleasantly, with the films. If you're an avid extreme horror fan and have doubted that August Underground is anything more than a torture porn for the hardened, give it the chance it deserves!

You can buy all 3 AU DVDs from the Toe-Tags website in the US from -
Alternatively, you can find them on amazon, but expect a hefty price tag...