Sunday, 25 January 2015


There are a number of ways in which a film can establish itself as part of the horror genre. The most obvious suggests that if it sets out to scare, it is a horror film. I think this is too simplistic an approach. While some scary films certainly do fit under the horror umbrella, there are plenty of others that do too. What about those films that seek to merely disgust or shock, the torture p0rn sub genre? Do many people really find the comical splatter and grue of most slashers frightening? 
No, I’d argue that a horror film is one that sets out simply to horrify — not merely to terrify.
There are few things as capable of horrifying an audience as the very real and very vile depths to which man will sink to gratify itself at the expense of others.
Spencer Gray’s Snake With A Human Tail is a short that explores that depravity.
Read on...


Dir: Spencer Gray
Starring: Marv Blauvelt, Sheri Davis, Billy Blair, Melina Lyon

SPEEDY SYNOPSIS: This is a short so I'll try not spoil too much, but read on at your own risk.

Snake With A Human Tail opens at the first court appointed therapy session of one Father Fulci (Blauvelt), a shamed priest who, over the course of the brief conversation with Dr Bloom (Blair), reveals that he is an unrepentant child abuser who preyed on young boys and girls alike. He is shown to have a warped and insatiable sexual appetite and a proclivity for sadism towards a number of sexual partners.
After the session concludes he is revealed to also be a psychotic killer, returning to his doctor's home and brutally murdering him.
Meanwhile, two prostitutes Kennedy (Lyon) and pre-op transsexual Karma (Davis) are shown eating before hitting the streets, the strains of their degrading and demeaning lifestyle all too apparent.
The night will end in bloodshed — but whose will spill? And why?

WHY IT WORKS: First I need to get this out there — this is a short film about a man of God who is actually a murdering paedophile. If this subject matter is a little too extreme for you, walk away now.
Wisely (and thankfully) we are never shown any of the atrocities that Fulci inflicted on his young victims, but enough is implied that we can put it together in our minds. This is not a soft, easy watch by any means.
The film works by (and very much relies on) holding up a mirror to the grubby underbelly of society. This is a story about the misfits, the outcasts, the predators and prey that dwell on the rubbish-strewn streets of the fictional Sewer City in which it is set. It is disturbing, but also compelling, drawing its audience in through its more realistic subject matter.
However, it manages to keep from becoming entirely repulsive by cranking its filthy and sordid story up to a whole other level. The monstrous Fulci is SO deranged that he somehow becomes elevated above real-world child molesters and instead becomes a mythologised version of the stereotypical perverted clergyman, a demonic beast rather than a man.
The streets of the aptly named Sewer City are impossibly sordid. When Kennedy and Karma leave the diner to head out to the streets, they pass drug deals, prostitution, the homeless and helpless and even a violent and bloody stabbing in the space of a 20ft section of roadside. This is not realism, it is hyperrealism — effectively exaggerating the evils of the world and forcing us to confront them. 
Nowhere is this more apparent than in the behaviour of the insane, necrophiliac, pedophiliac sadist Fulci. Blauvelt seems to be having a whale of the time in the role, revelling in the sick and depraved depths to which he takes the character. He is genuinely disturbing to behold, a wholly vile villain and one of the most controversial and monstrous film creations I’ve ever seen. His scene with Karma is horrific, but I was actually more disturbed by his scene with the very impressive Blair. There is a strange dynamic in the scene, when it starts Fulci seems awkward, uncomfortable and uncertain while Dr Bloom is calm and in control. But as the scene plays out, and as Fulci talks about the way in which he ensnares and victimises his young prey, we see that he becomes happier, enjoying the discussion while Bloom starts to become uncomfortable as he listens. It’s subtly but brilliantly done.
While I thought Blauvelt was fantastic in a very bold performance, I was blown away by the work of Davis. She was wonderful in the role, at times seeming legitimately dead behind the eyes (particularly during the upsetting final scenes). She has the thousand-yard stare of a hollowed out victim, a person broken by her past. She isn’t likeable, but she is sympathetic.
This is excellent work from a very talented actress.
It obviously helps the cast that Gray knows his stuff when it comes to shooting a film. The film is shot brilliantly — thanks in no small part to the always fantastic cinematography of Anthony Gutierrez — it’s the perfect combination between the gritty, griminess that the plot deserves and the glossy higher values of a well-made production steered by an assured hand. Kudos to you, Mr Gray.
Finally, the controversial story works towards a logical and explosive conclusion. In the dark and bleak world that this film takes place, this can only end in blood and fire — and it does not disappoint. This is a brave and powerful short. Often films that hit as hard as this one wimp out a little towards the end — Snake With A Human Tail never lets up, never backs down and never compromises. For this it deserves serious praise for having the courage of its own convictions.
This is a daring, tough, ass-kicker of a short that inspects the darkest reaches of the soul and depravity. If you want a grindhouse gutpunch that squeezes more shocking, challenging contact into half an hour than most features fit into a two-hour runtime, THIS is the short for you.

SO WHERE'S IT AT? The short is everywhere, regularly showing up on web channels. If you want to see it, your best bet is to hit the film’s Facebook page and look out for when and where you’ll be able to find it. While you’re there, give the page a Like. Ballsy film-making such as this is to be applauded!

10 WORD WRAP UP: Dark and twisted revenge thriller for fans of the extreme 

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Until next time, I hope you enjoyed your stay.

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