The Last Horror Movie (2003)
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Scene Selection Animation
Audio Commentary-Julian Richards (Director) And Kevin Howarth (Actor)
Trailer-Cold & Dark, Evil Remains, Book Of Love
Gallery-Stills And Poster Art
Notes-Interview With Julian Richards (Director)
Notes-Interview With Kevin Howarth (Actor)
|Year Of Production||2003|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Julian Richards|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Auto Pan & Scan Encoded||
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.75:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
During the opening credit sequence which pays homage to the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Scream and Halloween, a crazed killer attacks a woman in a diner with a large knife. But just when the blood begins to flow, a talking head, Max Perry (Richard Howarth) appears over the tape announcing: “Well, you hired a horror movie, didn’t you? You wanted to see something scary, right? Don’t worry, I’ll explain everything. You’ll understand, I promise.”
You see, Max Perry is a wedding photographer by day and serial killer the rest of the time. He has taken a copy of a B-grade slasher, The Last Horror Film, from a video store and taped over it with his own nasty, real-life slayings. Along with his assistant cameraman (Mark Stevenson), Perry follows the people who rent the video and then adds them to his macabre collection of filmic slaughters.
Like Henry Lee Lucas in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, Max Perry is frustrated by the lack of media attention his murders receive: “The problem is, you don’t get a lot of coverage. You don’t get to really make a statement. And that’s why I’ve decided to make this film.”
Perry also has a stubborn self-awareness akin to that of Benoit in the Belgian shockumentary Man Bites Dog, fortified by an unflinching philosophy that attempts to justifies his actions. While staring directly into the camera, he taunts and teases the audience with snuff-like truths about the nature of humanity and our voyeuristic fascination with murder: “Now did you want to see this or not? And if not, then why are you still watching?” he smugly says to the camera before killing a couple in a basement.
Ironically, it’s Perry’s ego-tripping monologues that ultimately begin to grate. Instead of adopting a less-is-more character exposé, the script writer has overcompensated by hammering the audience with way too much discourse. We know that Perry is a menacing, oily charmer, as this was set up early in the film, so his intellectual meanderings eventually work against the film’s narrative. In the end, Perry is just way too self-righteous to stir a passionate response from the audience he is trying to persuade.
However, the special effects are disturbingly realistic and the horrific murders themselves are filmed with the shock and matter-of-factness of a paper cut. The hand-held steadicam angles effectively capture the emotions of the victims as their tortured faces contort with sheer terror, agony then passive despair.
The film has won a number of awards at international festivals including a Best Actor (Richard Howarth) at the New York City Horror Film Festival (2004), Best UK Feature at the Raindance Film Festival (2003) and the Critics’ Award at Fantasporto (2004). The film also caused quite a stir at Cannes. Director Julian Richards had flyers made up suggesting Max Perry was wanted for murder back in London. If anyone saw him they were urged to contact the number printed on the poster. Although it got the film a lot of attention, Richard’s girlfriend was not particularly impressed as it was her mobile number.
In the Director's commentary, Julian Richards explains that he shot the entire film using a PD 150 mini-digital video camera. He desaturated the colours to give the film a washed-out, almost bleached look, so the end result is a transfer that appears quite dark, yet startlingly vivid.
The 1.75:1, 16x9 enhanced rendering looks marvellous. Although the original aspect ratio is listed as being 1.85:1, the slight cropping does not appear to effect the tight, intimate framing of many scenes.
The film’s deliberately murky look tends to affect shadow detail clarity. Often scenes tend to be overly dark and gloomy. However, the shrewd use of lighting offsets this by providing enough definition around images to discern what’s happening (see 8:54, 18:50, 35:49, and 44:47 for example). Black and contrast levels are deep and stable, with no signs of low level noise or fluctuation.
The only real film to video artefact concern is the distracting amount of aliasing evident throughout. Finely detailed images and environments such as the city skyline (6:23), patterned doors on kitchen cupboards (16:32) and grass and trees (47:50) shimmer away with reckless abandon.
There are no subtitle options.
It appears the bonus features are placed on the second layer of the disc as there was no pause during the film’s running time.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 mix is loud and well-served through the front channels. Being a dialogue driven film, the score just consists of a few dramatic orchestrated pieces to enhance the drama or shock of the kill during the opening title sequence.
The soundtrack is filled with sharp mundane sounds like the clinking of glasses, rattling of knives and forks, tweeting of birds, disembodied voices and traffic noises. These sounds add another layer of realism to the hand-held cinematography.
Dialogue is crisp and clear with no evidence of hiss or distortion.
There were only some very low-end sounds coming from the surrounds, consisting of dialogue and ambient white noise. The subwoofer was silent.
|Surround Channel Use|
This commentary bounces along at a reasonable pace. Richards and Howarth have a good rapport and are never at a loss for words.
Richards mainly concentrates on the technical aspects of setting up particular shots and his obvious filmic influences (Lost Highway, Blood Simple, Taxi Driver, Man Bites Dog, Tenebrae, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Blair Witch Project, Henry, American Psycho), while Howarth tends to gush about how he loved everything and everyone.
Interspersed with behind-the-scenes production shots of the opening sequence, Director Julian Richards talks about what inspired him to make the film. Howarth analyses his role, Zorana Piggott (Producer) adds her two cents worth, as does Mark Stevenson (who plays the assistant). Paul Hyett (Special Effects) explains how a few sequences were set up. Not so much a making of, but more of a talking about how the film was made.
With an introduction by Director Julian Richards, what follows is some raw audition footage by Howarth, who then explains how he ‘clicked’ with the director and his vision. After his brief audition footage, Mark Stevenson (the assistant) also gets a chance to talk about how he got the part.
Essentially the following four deleted scenes are extended sequences involving:
The Art Student (1:23) This unfunny addition shows the Assistant being goaded into killing the art student. He’s unsure how to kill her and picks up a paintbrush to use as a death weapon.
Grandma (1:59) Grandma relates what she did to a burglar. It involved a hot cup of tea and parboiled testicles.
The Nazi (2:02) After killing a woman with a frying pan, Perry puts a Nazi cap on her head and draws a Hitler moustache above her lips.
The Newsagent (0:55) Perry is asked to buy a paper by shopowners who are annoyed that he is reading it in their store.
The Last Horror Movie 1 (widescreen) (1:27) Okay…take one!
The Last Horror Movie 2 (widescreen) (2:04) This is going to be your last horror movie.
The Last Horror Movie 3 (widescreen) (1:24) Okay…take one! (same visuals as 1, but different dialogue)
The Last Horror Movie 4 (widescreen) (1:24) Okay…take one! (same visuals as 1 & 3, but different dialogue)
Cold and Dark (widescreen) (1:46) When the guilty escape the law. When the innocent are punished. The time has come for a new breed of justice.
Evil Remains (widescreen) (1:07) What is it that you are afraid of…
Book of Love (widescreen) (1:25) They were the perfect couple…until she made a choice that changed everything.
A series of 38 high quality poster, publicity and behind-the-scenes stills.
Selected text filmographies for the following actors: Kevin Howarth (Max), Antonia Beamish (Petra) and Jonathan Coote (John).
Two interesting text-based interviews with Julian Richards (17 pages) and Kevin Howarth (7 pages).
The Region 1 release is presented full frame and contains no bonus features.
In comparison to the Region 2 (UK) edition, our Region 4 release misses out on:
• 5.1 and DTS mixes
• Two short films by director Julian Richards.
Given the additional bonus features and DTS mix, the Region 2 (UK) is the version of choice.
As a turgid reminder of just how desensitized society has become to violence, the Last Horror Movie succeeds. But as a thought provoking morality tale, the film is just too ostentatious and self-indulgent to make a lasting impression.
|DVD||Yamaha DVR-S200 (it came free with the plasma), using S-Video output|
|Display||Yamaha 106cm Plasma. Calibrated with Sound & Home Theater Tune Up. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built into amplifier. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.|
|Amplification||get a marshall stack, and crank it up.|
|Speakers||2 x Bose Speakers and 4 NX-S200 Yamaha mini-speakers.|