Fred Vogel  

Creator of Toe Tag Productions boasting a mission to traumatize the masses with the sickest horror possible. Notorious for the August Underground trilogy: The most realistically vile and extreme snuff movies on the planet. This trilogy is plotless filth, nastiness and gore in a genre I call gornography. After this most extreme opening, he gradually applied his intensity to more mainstream horror with interesting results, though seemingly finding it hard to let go of his gornography roots, until the fascinating, gore-free 'Final Interview' that nicely demonstrated his skill with directing intensity without requiring gore.
Of Some Interest

Necrophagia: Nightmare Scenerios
See Gore.

Redsin Tower, The  
Vogel does mainstream horror without losing his nasty approach. Some oversexed annoying teenagers, a girl and her unstable, possessive boyfriend whom she just broke up with go party in a haunted old tower full of alleged evil. The expected hell breaks loose with some nasty gore and an intense demonic possession scene that has to be seen to be believed. The acting is surprisingly good, the cinematography is excellent and I liked the dark, realistic lighting even though it makes viewing difficult. There are two flaws here though: I'm disappointed that Vogel couldn't come up with a less cliched plot, and although the first half establishes the characters, background and some realism, it takes too long to become interesting. I say give Vogel an original story, some adult actors and a budget and he could produce a truly terrifying movie.

Sella Turcica  
After Maskhead, the nadir of Toetag pictures, this is a big surprise. Vogel writes a horror movie involving a plot and a family, their thought-to-be-lost son coming back from the war a mysteriously diseased, broken and disabled man. Tensions rise amongst the various family members and boyfriend, and his behaviour becomes more erratic until the splatter climax. Bravely, the vast majority of this movie is about drama and setup, with many strong moments involving realistic war experiences and traumas clashing with family life. Most of the actors are good, Maruscak as the soldier is surprisingly excellent, and all this makes the weaker actresses easier to ignore, but, ironically, the only name actress, Camille Keaton, is by far the worst offender with bizarrely flat acting. Pretty good horror, with some acting flaws, and I think the home-made feel of the close-up, shaky cinematography needs to be replaced to go to the next level, even if it is high-quality digital. Also, I must point out that the couple of gore scenes here and in Redsin Tower made a much bigger impact on me than all three August Underground movies combined.


August Underground  
Forget Henry Portrait of a Serial Killer or Man Bites Dog. When it comes to filming an unglamorized, brutal slice of life of a serial killer, this is as realistic as it gets. This takes Factory 2000's (Infamous Bondage Murders) giggling sicko home-video snuff antics a few dozen steps forward. A laughing imbecile follows his psychotic, utterly despicable friend around with a shaky camcorder as he shows off his victims and exploits. It starts with a tied up girl in his cellar who has had her nipple sliced off and is covered in her own blood and feces, then goes on to various random killings, violent fights, twisted sexual abuse, mugging of an old lady, and dismemberment of a body. The cinematography and editing is purposely amateurish and the acting is obviously improvised but utterly realistic, all of which effectively convinces you that you are watching a real home video. Step aside Guinea Pig.

August Underground's Mordum  
Just when you thought things can't get any sicker, August Underground release this sophomore installment of their realistically depraved snuff movies. Think Blair Witch with 50 times the choppy editing and fragmentation, a non-existent plot that merely documents the escapades of realistically demented killers and perverts, and realistic unrelenting filth and gore. It starts with rape, torture, vomit, coprophilia, maggot-eating, and goes on to disembowelment, intestine-humping, sex with a severed penis and worse. Pointless hardcore depravity.

August Underground's Penance  
More of the same pointless realistic snuff trash. This time the retarded, giggling psychopath and his girlfriend record their escapades on digital camera as they hang out with friends, walk around streets, harass a punk bum, invade a trailer on Christmas and rape and murder the whole family, and drag the usual victims to their basement to torture, disembowel, molest, decapitate, and dismember. They have to act in this installment as the relationship goes sour and they fly into rage and hysterics, but it's still the same boring sickness. Features bile-gurgling bowels.

And... it's back to the basement for the Toe Tag crew, except this time it's a lesbian couple making fetish porn and torture-snuff videos. Syl and Madie are acted as over-the-top bitches from a trashy soap opera, and together with their gay, fisting & urinating cowboy, and a big killer wearing a mask covered in nails and screws, they make their films. These films consist of girls licking food, girls popping balloons, men turned into dog-slaves, etc. all with very minimal nudity, until Maskhead appears to do his nasty, gory torture and death stuff with an ultimately nasty climax involving a phallic board with nails. Adding sex fetishes and scenes from a casting couch is not what I would call much progress, especially since the bad acting made it all very unconvincing this time, and I think I was more disturbed by the credits that featured pages of thank yous to Twitter followers.

Murder Collection V.1  
The way I see it, if Tarantino is creating modernized homages to grindhouse and exploitation cinema, this movie is Toe Tag's homage to real-life death shockumentaries made popular since Faces of Death. Whereas only some of those shockumentaries made use of fake and staged footage, and in some cases nobody is sure whether the footage is fake or not, this collection is presumably all fake, but some of the footage will make you wonder. The scenes cover murders filmed 'unintentionally' by security cameras, web-cams and home videos, each with some flaw or distortion in the audio or video quality to give it that extra 'authenticity', and the murders are often messy, unedited and often partially off-camera as you would expect with 'realistic' footage like this. Only a couple of the scenes involve splatter (a nasty cult beheading, a Japanese skull autopsy), the rest covering things like hold-ups gone bad, and home videos of revenge, bullying and perversion turned murderous. In between there's a mostly cheaply provocative narration that attempts to explore why we watch such things. And here I thought that Vogel was moving towards more interesting horror narratives.

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