Monday, June 20, 2016

III Slices of Life – review

Director: Anthony G. Sumner

Release date: 2010

Contains spoilers

This was a portmanteau film and Sumner’s next portmanteau effort has already been looked at on TMtV. Gallery of Fear contained the excellent By Her Hand, She Draws You Down, which was most definitely a vampire segment. It involved an internal parasite – as does the segment we are looking at in this – but I’ll discuss the vampiric nature of it later.

The wraparound in this, Sketcher, was very interesting but deserved to be the wraparound as I felt that it lacked the exposition to be a feature – it was perfectly good, and gloriously weird, for what it did however. The first segment W.O.R.M. wasn’t bad and was a sort of techno-zombie piece. The second section Amber Alert was, frankly a bit turgid. I had guessed exactly what was going on almost straight away and then the short took forever to get to the point. The in-between time was meant to be drawing both a mystery and atmosphere and I felt it did little of either.

body in the bath
The final segment was called Pink Snapper and was probably the best segment of all three – it was certainly, sporadically, the goriest. It is also the reason we are looking at the film here. There is definitely a genre connection and I was a hairsbreadth away from giving this an honourable mention as something of genre interest but eventually went for the review. The film starts with a woman, Elizabeth (Judith Lesser), bound. Her father (Bruce Varner) locks her away – she yells at him asking how he can do this to... (presumably she was going to then say "his daughter"). He goes upstairs and starts to dismember the gory remains of a body of a man in the bath.

Deneen Melody as Susan
In the city Susan (Deneen Melody) is cooking when her brother, Eric (Galen Schloming), calls. He asks if their Uncle Jack (Mike Tracy) is home as he wants to borrow the car that evening. Jack, in his cop uniform, is drunk and asleep on the couch and Susan says Eric will have to ask when he gets home. When she gets off the phone she turns to see Jack awake. He forces himself on her – we get the impression he has been abusing her for years. He is just about to rape her when Eric gets home and attacks Jack. Jack gets the better of him and Susan brains him with a frying pan – they take his car keys and leg it.

Elizabeth Bound
Meanwhile Edgar, Elizabeth’s father, has dismembered the body, put it in black bags in the boot of his car and driven from the house to a wooded area to dispose of it (he hasn’t driven far, a few hundred yards from the house). He trips and knocks himself out. The brother and sister, in the meantime, are running out of gas and turn off the interstate. They find Edgar and Eric runs to the house for help but finds no one (he doesn’t go into the basement) and so they drive the man to hospital – still drifting in and out of consciousness, indeed in his delirium he assumes Eric is his son and asks for forgiveness.

rescuing Elizabeth
After getting Edgar to the hospital, with the staff assuming they are his kids, they go back to the house intent on stealing money, clothes and food with which to survive. They hear banging from the basement and go to investigate. There they find Elizabeth and help her out of the basement. She tells them that her aunt had visited some time before and her father changed, accusing her of being the recipient of the family curse and his actions were in order that he might starve *it*. The siblings suggest she get cleaned up whilst they look for useful items for the road.

family tree
They find a series of anatomical type pictures, along with a family tree that suggests that Elizabeth and Edgar are descended from Erzsébet Báthory (indeed their surname is Nadasdy – the familial name of Báthory’s husband). Certain pictures on the tree (including Elizabeth’s) have the word host by them. Elizabeth, meanwhile, is in the bath – we hear a hungry noise and she says to her stomach “soon”. Eric is in a bedroom when Elizabeth comes on to him, she guides his hand below when suddenly he screams, his hand emerges missing fingers and spurting blood – Elizabeth has not finished with him yet…

missing digits
The spoiler to come is that this is not quite, as may be suspected, vagina dentata. Elizabeth is the host to some form of internal parasite with sharp teeth, a desire for human flesh (and that desire is born of hunger) and a lodging place in her female bits. The suggestion is that this parasite has been passed from woman to woman in the familial line, all the way from Báthory. The film also makes it clear that the parasite can be passed to a non-family member and the woman so infected most definitely morphs into a Vamp as well as a host to a vampire. The attack on Eric is gruesome, the parasite ripping his entire body apart and not just concentrating on his penetrative parts.

Judith Lesser as Elizabeth
Now, we have classed those infected (or even taken over by) internal parasites as vampires before, but I very nearly settled on an Honourable Mention for this. I was still writing the article when I decided that this should be reviewed. The film makes the connection by using Elizabeth Báthory who is, of course, of genre interest but Eric mentions the concept of Countess Dracula. As I said at the head, this was the strongest segment. However it wasn’t perfect. The interwoven narratives needed sharpening somewhat to make it feel more like a whole, the acting was passable but not stellar and things felt just a tad too convenient at times. However it wasn’t a bad effort at all, it was an interesting take on the genre and that originality pushes me to award 5.5 out of 10 for the segment.

The imdb page is here.

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