Like Ben Wheatley, this Brit lives in a world of his own and makes unique unclassifiable movies usually to do with horror. There is a strong stylish and color-saturated
giallo influence in his movies, but he uses this only as inspiration for his highly eccentric sense of humor and ideas. Sound often plays a big part in his movie,
seeing as he is a member of a 'Sonic Catering Band' which has released several albums where they convert food recipes and cooking into electronic noise. Frequently
includes dreams in his films, as well as odd kinks and fetishes, but he is not surreal as much as bizarre in avant-garde and eccentric ways.
As long as you approach this slow-burning British-Italian co-production appropriately, you should get more out of it. This is not a homage to Italian giallo movies
or a horror movie, but a psychological breakdown movie in the vein of Repulsion. Except that in this case, it delves into the mind of a meek, gentle sound-engineer
who finds himself working in Italy for the first time on what sounds like a horrifically nasty movie about the torture of witches. The relatively crude, outspoken and
fiery Italians keep him alienated, as does the Italian mistreatment and lust of women masquerading as charm. In addition, the director is full of himself and pretends
his movie his art, and although we don't get to see the movie itself, the sounds, the expressions on the engineer's face, and the abused voice-actors, all bring its nasty scenes
to life indirectly. The last reel of the movie veers into light Lynchianisms as his reality falls apart and literally becomes a horror movie, but its all about his attitude
and face that reflect the changes he went through. I thought the ending seemed extremely abrupt just when the movie was finally building up to something, until I realized
that his mental state was the only goal of the movie. Very atmospheric and well-crafted, but it needed a bit more payoff. Many fruits and vegetables were harmed during
the making of this movie.
Berberian Sound Studio
This feels like Peter Strickland was inspired by 'The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover' and converted his own experience with his so-called Sonic Catering Band
into a satire on art-performance a la Greenaway. Mixing culinary art and confrontational alimentary performance, a collective develops various personal problems amongst
its members, all of which blend with their art. They practice with ridiculous exercises acting out scenes from a supermarket. They have orgies with their audience after
their show. A power struggle develops between the headstrong leader who likes to shock, and the financial backer who makes drama over minor changes, leading to
a shock ending straight from the Greenaway film. But don't worry, it's all performance art. A man documenting their journey develops bad gastrointestinal disorders
leading to gastrointestinal-explorations-art, and to a scene that suggests a very nasty revenge. Sexual fetishes are used as weapons, and a rival collective performs
acts of terrorism.
A bizarre hodge-podge of ideas that, taken individually, are strange in very entertaining schlocky ways, but which don't quite cohere to make some kind of comedy-horror
film. I am not sure about the genre either; It's perhaps a spoof of giallo, or an eccentric horror-comedy, or a satire, or all of the above. At the core of this film
is an evil dress that somehow causes its wearers to have a series of accidents, and a bizarre department-store run by human-mannequins. And yes, I said an evil dress,
which perhaps brings to mind movies like 'Death Bed' or films by Quentin Dupieux. The sales 'girls' at the department-store have a language all their own that must be
heard to be believed, seemingly taken from a flowery but clunky old-school dress catalogue, and an approach to sales that is part-stalker, part-Dracula-seduction,
part-hilarious. But it's not just the horror elements that are bizarre here, everything about this world is very odd: Mannequins are fondled erotically and for
exhibitionist purposes, mannequins have periods, there's an appliance-fixer that hypnotizes customers with his jargon for some unknown reason, there are many strange
encounters with over-the-top pedantic company policies and a review board for satirical purposes making this feel like some kind of dystopian movie, and there's the
completely gratuitous narration of several dream-sequences, strange dating rules, and an eyebrow-raising relationship between a mother, her son and her son's model
girlfriend. A one-of-a-kind, somewhat entertaining oddity.