A unique, independent film-maker from Russia who uses surrealism, some violent, industrially-tinged, gory violence a la Tetsuo, and bizarre, colorful imagery
in experimental horror films. Interesting, but still maturing and slowly building his own talents in vision, sound and cinematography.
A truly creative craftsman who doesn't just copy other movies, but like many other independent film-makers, suffers from a lack of discipline.
Obviously inspired by Tetsuo with its cyber-punk attitude, self-abuse with metal objects, a girlfriend turning into a strange monster, glimpses into the
insides of the body as it's being abused, etc. This bizarre and colorful piece explores the world of an insane hit-man as he tries to chase away gory
visions and memories by first pounding nails into his head, then quickly finding more and more extreme ways to abuse his cranium. This self-torture
lends him 'clarity of thought' as he sees processed food in disgusting ways (in an amusing Svankmajer-esque scene), and his plastic, dressed-up girl
turns into something monstrous. Very bizarre, trippy and interesting with an electronic/ambient soundtrack that drills into your brain, but flawed
by some amateurish effects and a segmented approach that doesn't quite come together like Tetsuo did.
Almost four and a half hours that recreate the atrocities of Unit 731, the Japanese experimental camp that performed every unimaginable extreme scientific
experiment on live humans, testing all the absolute limits of human endurance. This endless detailed gore is backed by documentary narration of the formation
and dissolution of the camp and its goals, spliced with random documentary footage of the war and artistic inserts that don't usually match the narration but
add to the vision of hell. There is also a pointless (acted) narration by a Japanese scientist who ruminates existentially on what she is going through. And
finally, the most interesting part of this film are the detailed eyewitness accounts by an old Russian who was around the area at the time and who shares his
insights into the people and methods. Most of the movie consists of one very extreme, nasty and gory set-piece after another, with experiments that involve
vivisections on live people, nasty biological weapons tested on humans, extreme freezing with flesh that falls apart, slowly exploding bodies in decompression
chambers, insertion of infected bugs into humans, forcing people to have sex in order to contract syphilis, experiments on a fetus inside a pregnant woman,
pulling out all a woman's teeth with pliers, pus, blisters, diseased rotting flesh, disfigured bodies, slicing, face skinning, acid, burning, extreme
electrocution, etc etc, all on live screaming people. Iskanov puts it all together with greatly improved and well-crafted cinematography and effects but
in a sense, I was reminded of Gibson's Passion in that the movie takes an ambitious and difficult subject, then spends most of its time focusing only on
gore. The cinematography sometimes makes this feel more like a surreal vision of extreme hell than a realistic disturbing docudrama, but this will definitely
test anyone's viewing endurance to its limits.
Philosophy of a Knife
A man with glasses gets nightmares while it rains. A phone repairman tells him about so-called vampire creatures that he hears over phone lines and that
grow stronger during rain and in dreams, and use windows and mirrors to enter reality and brutally kill their victims. In the meantime, his girlfriend
is taking drugs and is stalked by a haunted priest who goes to a twisted night-club for drugs and entertainment and to get away from his visions. That's it
for the writing; The movie is really about an endless stream of colorful cinematography and visuals, head-trips, nightmares, atmosphere, bizarre creatures, etc.
Nightmarish visions blend with reality and include jellyfish-spiders, a strange man in a hat who likes having his way with dead girls, creatures that can
detach their brain from their head to scan spaces, colorful LSD trips, gory fights with flying sharp objects and possessed corpses, a man beating a girl
to a bloody pulp, etc etc. This goes on for 2 hours and would be quite an experience except for several fatal flaws: Unlike Lynch, the many sounds are
usually inappropriate and distracting, the movie desperately needs editing and cutting of the more tedious head-trips and endless visual side-tracking,
the editing uses too many cuts and splices that sometimes kill the nightmarish atmosphere, the narration in the first hour explains everything to death,
and the plot and characters never really develop. In other words, too undisciplined.
Visions of Suffering (AKA Angst)