Movie review: Blood Vessel

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The film opens with what feels like a notable nod to Alfred Hitchcock’s Lifeboat as we are greeted with a group of survivors floating in a life raft, having escaped from their torpedoed hospital ship. They have no food, no water, and are close to giving up when a small thread of hope arrives in the shape of a German U-Boat, but what lies aboard is a descent into hell where the battle of survival has just begun.

Like Lifeboat, the group are at odds with one another and suspicious of some among them including Russian POW, Alexander (Alex Cooke), who happens to be a crack shot with a rifle and probably the most natural survivalist of the crew. Also casting a dubious past to his character is the token Brit, the weedy Gerard Faraday. Leading the charge is Nathan Sinclair (Nathan Philips) who captivates the viewer with his magnanimous presence and die hard attitude, but when they are faced with an unknown evil presence onboard the ship, they must learn to put aside their differences and look to unite if they are ever going to make it through “this bloody war”.

It is Alyssa Sutherland (Vikings), that the audience really gets behind however as the heart of the crew and it helps that she is a ‘medic” who has a pained past with a desire to heal everyone. She really captures the attention which is a testament to her on screen appeal and her weight as an actor, pulling you into the storyline and connecting with her character.

This is also a huge accomplishment of Justin Dix’s cinematic gaze for his sophomore outing in the director’s chair. Dix manages to craft a highly engaging storyline, that is essentially vampires on a boat, using his incredible skill set with visual and creature effects to boost the appeal above and beyond the usual fanfare.
The screenplay which is also overseen by Dix and his co-writer, Jordan Prosser, weave together enough ups and downs and moments of turmoil for the crew, as they fight against the odds. A massive plus is that we’re presented with characters that are incredibly believable, and with whom you want to see survive, when you know in your heart simply ain’t gonna happen, and in doing so casts you at odds as you also secretly want their demise to come.

The Prognosis:

Hands down, Director Justin Dix has crafted a highly engaging, action-packed thrill ride with characters that you care for.

Combined with some decent effects and a creative storyline, Dix has in my humble opinion put himself and his production company Wicked of Oz firmly on the map.
A must see film that will definitely entertain.

  • Saul Muerte

Available on DVD at JB Hi Fi and Sanity
and Video on Demand through iTunes/Google /Fetch/Foxtel Store/Umbrella Entertainment from August 5th.

Retrospective: The Black Cat (1941)

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The film derives its title from a classic Edgar Allan Poe short story, but its usage should be held lightly as it’s a far cry from its inspiration, only vaguely connected via said black cat who mysteriously arrives when a dead body is found.

Having traversed through the early Universal horror films and into the 1940s, it becomes apparent the strikingly familiar storyline that is at its helm, primarily based on The Old Dark House, which had been a winning formula for the giant film production house. 

The trouble is, this feels all too stale and tired in comparison to its predecessors that I felt beyond caring for the characters plight and you just long for Tim Curry to prop up and “camp” his way through a whodunnit spiel, just to spice things up a bit.

Instead we’re faced with a couple of bungling sleuths in the guise of antique dealers, there to praise the value of some of the elderly Henrietta Winslow’s estate. Henrietta is aware that she is to bequeath her fortune to a greedy family, so she writes up a will against their knowledge with a caveat stating that they will not be able to lay their hands on her money, until her housekeeper Abigail and her many cats have died.

Cue the death of Henrietta, the reveal of her will, and then a pursuit of Abigail from a mysterious assailant, leaving the two antique dealers to try and solve the murder before the night is through and to prevent a higher body count. 

The Black Cat boasts an incredible cast in Basil Rathbone, Hugh Herbert (who admittedly is slightly annoying with his comic relief), Broderick Crawford, Anne Gwynne, the brilliantly melodramatic Gale Sondegaard, a young Alan Ladd (“Shane!”) and a criminally underused Bela Lugosi as the ‘red herring’ character. So it’s a shame then that this is a massive misfire and never utilises the talent on display with essentially an incredibly poor script that tries to rest on intrigue and a narrative template.

It lacks substance and therefore the likes of Rathbone simply have nothing to play with on screen and the comedy moments just doesn’t connect, leaving the whole debacle feeling flat.

  • Saul Muerte

Movie review: I See You

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I See You is something of a rare gem of a movie that warrants your time and attention.

A bold statement but one I stand by. For its strength lies in its narrative, from a screenplay by Devon Graye Fleming, who as a little bit of trivia played a young Dexter from the Dexter series. Fleming manages to craft a delightful tale that twists and turns, inverting and reverting subgenres along the way.

One moment it’s supernatural, then family drama, full-on suspense drama, before shifting again into an out and out horror thriller. With each turn of the storyline cog, there also comes a collection of characters who are so dimensional that you continuously guess their motives and just when you think you have them sussed out, Fleming drops another background reveal, that makes you question your judgement all over again.

We open with a typical suburban town where we follow a hapless young kid, Justin Whitter, out on a bike ride through the woods, when a mysterious force suddenly ejects him from his seat out of nowhere.

So far, so supernatural.

We’re then introduced to Greg Harper (Jon Tenney) the lead detective in the search for Justin Whitter and through the investigation a green pocket knife is discovered, an MO from a series of crimes years earlier, promoting the question, did they police get the wrong man or is this a copycat killer?

The story then follows Harper and his home life with his wife, Jackie played by Helen Hunt, who I can’t recall when I last saw her in a movie. Here she again proves her worth displaying the strength and vulnerability of Jackie, a woman who it turns out has had an affair, which she claims has ended and is now scrambling around to not just save her marriage but repair the relationship she has with her son, Conor (Judah Lewis), who can’t forgive her for her actions.
We’re witnessing a family on the rocks, but that’s not the most unsettling thing at hand here, as there is something that doesn’t sit right and all the while you get the sense the family is being watched by some kind of spiritual energy.

What happens next is another shift in tone that if I were to disclose here, would be a massive spoiler and as such I will refrain from going any further with the plotline, only to say that it’s the first change in direction that at first is bit of a jolt that you think is a big misfire, but as the next chapter unfolds, it soon settles in and then you’re in for the ride.

The film is filled with a great cast of characters that add weight to the drama including Gregory Alan Williams and Libe Barer, but the standout is Owen Teague, (Parick Hockstetter – It and It: Chapter Two) who is suitably unhinged and the most questionable character in the mix before all the pieces start falling into place. 

The Prognosis:

I See You may not measure up for some, especially those who prefer to have a less fractured narrative presented to them, at least tonally speaking.

But this film hits all the notes perfectly in my opinion, and the shifts and changes that occur throughout the film are bold and on point, that it doesn’t hide from its direction, striding from one tonal switch to the next.

  • Saul Muerte

Retrospective: Horror Island (1941)

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Released as a double feature alongside Man-Made Monster, Horror Island would be billed as a mystery horror film but after viewing this 1940s film, it bears similarity to The Dark House, a decade its senior. 

The storyline loosely follows brash and down on his luck Bill (Dick Foran) who is always looking for his next scheme, in a role all too familiar to his portrayal of Steve Banning in The Mummy’s Hand. Like that film, Dick has an offsider to bounce off in the form of Fuzzy Knight playing the role of “Stuff”. Unfortunately Fuzzy doesn’t quite carry the same charisma as Wallace Ford. Instead, the banter comes more from Leo Carillo as the peg-legged sailor Tobias Clump. It’s a shame then that Clump becomes more secondary to the scene as the story develops into a whodunnit.

Clump serves as the instigator to Bill’s quest when he turns up with a treasure map leading to a small island, which Bill owns. When he is informed that the map isn’t genuine, Bill turns this into another plot to get money, by tauting a trip to his island to find the treasure, but claiming that it is haunted, so only the hardiest of people should go. From here a range of misfits are pitted together in search of a thrill or merely to be entertained, among them is love interest, Wendy (Peggy Moran – The Mummy’s Hand).

Once they arrive on the island however, things take a sinister turn as the guests start to be popped off one by one, ala Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None with the prime suspect being a mysterious figure known as The Phantom lurking around behind the scenes.

Considering its 60 minute time, Horror Island  tries to cram a lot in, but in doing so continuously feels like it misses the mark by trying too much. So as such, the movie is neither scary, mysterious, nor comical. Instead it is mediocre, especially compared to some of the other films released around the same time.

  • Saul Muerte

Movie review: The Vigil

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The Vigil is a tale with trauma at its heart.

Yakov, is a young male Hassid, who has lost his faith and become isolated from his sect.
When we first meet him, Yakov (Dave Davis) is socially awkward, out of his depth, and the last person you would expect to triumph over evil, should it raise its demonic head his way.
The fragility of Yakov is partly what lures you into his world, and as a viewer we become intrigued by the journey he is about to undertake.
The weight of his character is captured through Keith Thomas’ direction as he produces a slow-burn descent into Yakov’s personal hell, where he must confront his trauma head-on if he has any hope to survive through the night.
Thomas’ care and dedication to creating atmosphere is The Vigil’s masterstroke and is truly captivating, but hey… I’m a sucker for the slow burn.
Plus, it has a wealth of talent behind the films creation, from cinematographer Zach Kuperstein (The Eyes of My Mother), editor Brett W. Bachman (Mandy), and a score by Michael Yezerski (The Devil’s Candy) who combine to create a beautifully crafted film.
So, what is this ordeal that Yakov must face?

Enticed by his Rabbi, Yakov agrees to become a shomer, a Jewish practice that involves watching over a recently deceased member of the community (seriously, who would do that? Feels far to eerie to me).
Yakov takes up this charge with the promise of payment to protect the soul of the deceased by spending the night in his house, and receives a none-too-friendly welcome from the elderly widow.
What we take as a frosty reception is actually, one of warning, but Yakov doesn’t take heed, and as such gets more than he bargained for.

The Prognosis:

The ambience generates a sense of creepiness and isolation that trauma survivors must endure to overcome their ordeal.
This is a testament to the writing and direction of Keith Thomas which belies his status as a debut feature in the directors chair, and his smart enough to combine with some of the greatest artists in their field.
While the scares maybe few and far between, the atmosphere and acting sure as hell make up for it, forging an incredibly unsettling movie about survival and once again Blumhouse have backed an impressive movie as part of their production canon.

  • Saul Muerte

Retrospective: Man-Made Monster (1941)

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Historically speaking, Man-Made Monster marks a significant point in horror film history as it marked the Prince of Pain, Lon Chaney Jr’s first lead role in the genre.

Here Chaney Jr plays the happy-go-lucky Dan McCormick, a man with a curious immunity to an overdose of electricity that propels him to life on the road with a travelling circus.
The story picks up however when McCormick is the sole survivor of a tragic bus accident that collides into a power-line.
Think David Dunn from the Unbreakable series, but less dramatic and moody.

His survival comes to the attention of Dr. John Lawrence (Samuel S. Hinds – It’s A Wonderful Life), who just so happens to be studying the effects of electricity. 

The horror element comes in when Lawrence’s assistant, Dr. Paul Rigas (Lionel Atwill – Doctor X) takes the experiment into his own hands to manipulate an unwitting McCormick to undergo a series of tests with massive side effects.
McCormick soon shows signs of fatigue and irritability as a result of the tests and the transformation turns him into a super-charged monster (a walking atomic light bulb) with the ability to kill with a single touch.
This is exactly what occurs when Dr Lawrence finds out and attempts to shed light on Rigas’ illegal scientific experiments.
That won’t hold water and Rigas ensures that McCormick (who is now under the mad scientists’ rule) stops Lawrence at all costs.

Despite a fairly low box office return and that it bared all too similarity to the Lugosi/Karloff feature, The Invisible Ray (a reason that the film had been shelved for a few years), it is a fairly stable movie and boasts great performances from both Atwill and Chaney Jr.
For Chaney Jr. it would propel him into stardom and into a career that he could never shake, especially with The Wolf Man just around the corner, but there’s good reason as he’s definitely a captivating presence on screen.

  • Saul Muerte

Movie review: The Hunt (2019)

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Buckle up kids – this one is gonna be lit.

We are reviewing The Hunt.

A U.S. movie that came out with a trailer JBC (Just Before Covid) that looked “kinda interesting”, “might be cool” in a “popcorn/shut-off-the-brain & enjoy-the-carnage” sort of way.  You know – like Ready or Not!  (which is a good ‘un…).

But THIS film gets banned, and you hear it’s for reasons around politics (or some such) and you automatically assume it might have something to do with… umm… guns? 
I mean, it’s clearly a violent film, and let’s face it, if there’s one country that is insanely messed up around the issue of firearms, it’s blah blah blah.

So we all move on without giving it further thought, as there are plenty of other things to devote our daily quota of brain-focus towards. 
For example, for Aussie audiences at the time, it was all about trying to not catch on fire… (remember around Xmas when THAT was a thing?)

But we are in the now-now time, and in terms of entertainment stocks, pretty much any content today (see the date this review was/is posted) has a chance of finding an audience via a streaming service; whether it be old (Community), new (Tiger King) or banned…

If The Hunt was hoping to slot into that 3rd category, it severely misread the room.  Because when you live in an age where a global pandemic can be politicised, releasing a film that pisses off the American President (and therefore a hoard of his followers) for INCORRECT reasons (he hadn’t seen it) and Snowflake Liberals (for fairly legit reasons) then you’re just being annoying.

And not in a cool “look at us – we’re so out there!  We’re-provoking!  We don’t care if-you’re-offended! You’ve-reacted-so-our-point-is-made! We’re-forcing-you-to-look-at-the-issue!” sort of way.  (For a start, if any of those were true, you would’ve made a better film…).

So premise – and for this review we will be entering spoiler territory, so beware – we have a Predators-esque/Hunger Games style set-up where a bunch of random “everyday” Americans wake up in the countryside, bound, groggy and with no idea how they got there.

A cache of weapons is found, and as soon as they arm themselves the hunt is on.

They are shot/blown up and generally hounded in what these people called “Manorgate”.  An extreme right-wing conspiracy sorta along the lines of Pizzagate (wiki that one!) that in this instance, claims rich Liberal elites kidnap people and hunt them for sport on the grounds of one of their mansions.

And considering every one of the hunties are right wing fanatics in some form or another (bloggers/vloggers/YouTube & Facebook Commentators etc.) this is both Xmas and Reverse Xmas at once.

The former because for all their nutjob ramblings, they have been proven right.  And the latter because… well…hunted…

And the divide between the victims (The Right) and the bad guys (The Left) are underlined even more when it is revealed that some of the hunters are the sort of people who equate soft drink to poison (‘cause you know, sugar ‘n shit) and one of them admits to being (in effect) a Crisis Actor; one of THE MOST abhorrent things in the world to ever admit being real, let alone being one.

What’s more, these snowflakes are so useless (a term The Right love to label The Left with) they need to be taught how to kill by a military consultant who is not that qualified – again kneeling to the notion The Left don’t do their research or “check their facts”.  Fakes news anyone?

So you get the idea.  The victims are portrayed as mostly ineffectual and somewhat simple folk – apart from when they go on an Alex Jones-esque rant.  But their horribleness (as determined by the Evil Liberals who selected them) is never fully explored because the majority of them get killed in the first few minutes.

But the Liberals haven’t even played their worst mistake card yet.  Because here is another thing they didn’t fact check – the real identity of one of The Deplorables, Crystal Creasey (played by Glow’s Betty Gilpin.  AKA Ghost Town’s ghost-nurse Betty Gilpin).  

Crystal has the same name as one of the selected victims, but is in truth not her (‘cause, as established, Lefties get things wrong) so she’s worse than a Deplorable.  She’s an innocent.

But not a helpless innocent. Oh no, she is ex-military – sour, quiet, smart, tough and resourceful.  She scowls like a female Clint Eastwood, and kicks ass methodically and intuitively.  She is not only cool, but she wins. She takes charge.  And she doesn’t give a shit what anybody else does, or whether they need her help or not.  Just so long as they don’t get in her way.  (Remind you of any kind of person?)

So this Libertarian poster child kills her way to the Boss Fight, featuring the Mastermind behind it all, Athena – played by Academy Award winner Hilary Swank.  Where it is revealed this whole murderball spree has come about because of a scourge act of the 21st century.  Mob outrage over an inappropriate internet comment.  In this case a private messenger conversation between the Liberal Elites about Deplorables that gets leaked, that – jokingly or not – sees them lose their careers because political correctness is clearly out of hand yada-yada-yada.

So as an act of revenge they create Manorgate for realsies…

Anyway, back to the final confrontation – where we also discover that not only has Athena made a mistake with Crystal, but she somewhat condescendingly is shocked to realise her would-be victim knows Animal Farm; an in-joke revolving around their codename for Crystal (it’s Snowball) which plays into yet another notion about The Left. They assume everyone outside their bubble is uneducated.

So where does this leave us – the audience?

Well – seeing as one of the writers is a man not immune to internet outrage – Damon Lindelof – you can expect to be annoyed (and you will be.  Although to his credit he’s achieved this outside his normal modes.  Ie: There are no spirals of logic leading to nowhere with this one).  

In fact, it’s all pretty straight forward plot wise.  Just the why & the what of it really hits you.

The set-up is unoriginal, which in itself is not a sin.  But it’s outcome?  All Crystal had to do was show that she was politically above or below all this in some way, and suddenly you have a palpable indicator of what this film is trying to say.

“BUT WAIT! Why does it have to say anything at all?  Why does she have to take a political stance!?”  To which the booming answer is – the filmmakers started it!  But yeah, the film certainly didn’t HAVE to.  A really great example how this type of movie can be a fun popcorn ride with no political lacing is the afore mentioned Ready or Not, where the only people it seems to slag off are rich ones who worship Satan.  Which, as targets go, seems easy, but still pretty legit….

So Lindelof and co-writer Nick Cuse start a project that definitely wants to say something about the party divide in America.  But the only 2 immediately obvious outcomes you can hope for is that they are against both, or they are on the side of the victims.  Which is the right.  And if Crystal – their avatar – does indeed sit somewhere on the elephant/donkey spectrum, it’s never revealed, as she’s a fairly shallow character whose only virtue is she can take an unrealistic knife wound to the gut and live.

So that leaves us with the “Aww – don’t be so wound up, it’s only a bit of fun” brigade.  

And in a different time, that could be a fair enough point to let through the gate.  But in a PC age (Post Covid, not the other one) idiocy is a virus more virulent than the one that’s currently killing a whole lot of people.  And if there’s one thing today’s idiots don’t need, its misguided fuel in any way, shape or form.  Even if it is silly entertainment.

Yes.  This review is THAT condescending.

Because – and this is a reverse spin kick to contemplate – what if this movie actually says “Yeah! The Right ARE victims!  This film shines a spotlight on how harshly and unfairly they are treated by The Left and their Big Government Ideas, fake media and social justice bullshit”.  In which case I say to you… 

STAY RIGHT THERE.  Resistance is futile.  We will find you.  We will get you.  We will make it painless.  Probably.  Just as soon as we finish implementing universal health care so we can inject you all with autism causing brain tracking lifesaving vaccines…

Prognosis

If you hate this film you are an uptight lefty elitist wanker.  If you like it you are deplorable.  Either way watch Ready or Not.  It’s much better.

  • Antony Yee

Interview: Follow Me star Ronen Rubinstein

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With the release of Escape Room and its success, director Will Wernick had tapped into a world fresh for the thrill.
Arguably with his latest feature, Follow Me, Wernick delves a little deeper, blurring the lines of reality, when an online personality enters a real-life game and gets more than he bargained for.

Thanks to the team at Studio Canal, I was able to catch one of its stars Ronen Rubinstein (9-1-1: Lone Star), who plays Russian socialite, Alexei, the orchestrator of the real-life game to discuss the dark side of social media.

Saul Muerte: Hi Ronen, thanks for joining us at Surgeons of Horror.

Ronen Rubinstein: Thanks for having me here.

Saul: I noticed from some of your previous work that you appear drawn to the works of Bret Easton Ellis, having starred in both The Smiley Face Killers and more recently in Less Than Zero, which both act as windows into the human psyche with a lot of social commentary at play, themes that are evident in Follow Me.
Is this partly what drove you to be involved in this film?

Ronen: It was one of many things that drew me to the project. We live in a very heavy social media age.
There’s a lot of pluses and minuses to social media, and we constantly ask ourselves, “Who are we living in front of the camera for? Or What are we trying to convey? What message are we trying to send?”
That’s a question I’ve always asked myself using social media and I love that we get to see it in a film on a very deep level but also in a fun way that will keep people entertained.
Once they leave the theatre I’m sure that will be a question that (the audience) will ask many times. 

Saul: There are some notable themes and subjects that are explored throughout the film, one of which is living life to the max and living life to the full, but if you could escape real life, what would you do and why?

Ronen: Oh man! I think honestly, I would wanna live somewhere in the jungle in Costa Rica or Peru, and truly live off the earth and simplify everything.
Eat everything that grows off the trees and drink from clean creeks, build a little hut, I mean that sounds ideal to me. I don’t know how long I can sustain that.
I think that would be my Escape Real Life, for sure.

Saul: What has been the wildest experience that you’ve encountered in your life so far?

Ronen: My family and I survived a Category 1 hurricane in 2012. It was Hurricane Sandy. I think I was just turning 18, we lost our entire neighbourhood, we lost most of the coastal part of our borough.
We were without a home, without clothing, without food, without electricity for a few days.
We lived off friends and the Red Cross and pretty much had to survive. We had pretty much everything taken away from us.
That was hands down the wildest thing I ever encountered.

Saul: Wow, I mean Hurricane Sandy was one of the most deadliest, destructive hurricanes to hit Stateside. I can’t imagine what that would have been like for you.

Ronen: And I lived right on the beach, so it was extra bad.

Saul: What would you say was the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?

Ronen: I think the riskiest thing I’ve ever done is where we are right now in pursuing a career in the Arts and specifically acting. It’s one of the riskiest careers to follow, and I never had a back up plan.
I sorta put all my chips on the table and I pursued it with all my soul and heart in order to achieve it, but the reality of it is that the chances are really low to even be working.
I’m so fortunate right now to be in a film that will be screened in something like 26 countries. I still have to pinch myself about that. That’s like hitting the lottery. 
To keep steadily working and get representation was definitely the riskiest thing I’ve taken. 

Saul: Obviously you’re still pursuing your dream at the moment but what is currently number one on your bucket list?

Ronen: I have some pretty crazy aspirations. I think top of the list is to be part of an organisation like the UN and to have the power and some say in being able to do some good in the world.
I’ve seen people like Leonardo Di Caprio, Don Cheadle and Mark Ruffalo being a part of the UN.
The fact that we can have actors / activists in such extraordinarily prestigious company is the pinnacle. That has always been a motivation of mine.
That would be at the very top of my bucket list. 

Saul: A lot of the topic centred around Follow Me is about that online presence.
What’s been the worst thing that you’ve personally shared on social media?

Ronen: I don’t know. I’ve been pretty careful. I joined social media when I was technically a professional actor and I was already on people’s screens, so I knew there was an amount of responsibility, where you have to think about what you say and how you want to say it.
As an actor, you’re not just representing yourself, but also the company or corporation, or the studio that you are working with. It’s much more than what you stand for.
You’re obviously going to get some heat when you talk about social justice, political justice, and climate control and that’s totally fine.
That’s something you have to be prepared for. That’s sort of part of the game, It’s more important to focus on the positive. 

Saul: Do you have to be careful about not having a knee-jerk reaction to some of the things you see and hear?

Ronen: Oh man sure, I mean almost every single day I want to curse out the President, but that doesn’t do much good.
I like to lead  by example and provide people with solutions. I think that’s when change happens. It does take a lot of self control.

Saul: What has been the strangest or weirdest experience that you’ve seen online?

Ronen: Oh man, where do we start? I mean, I’m sure you’ve been going on in America. We’re in a very split society right now.
A lot of people can’t see right from wrong. There are a lot of people who think that what is going on is a hoax or propaganda. That still blows my mind. How do we move forward with people like that?
It’s what I touched on before where you have to lead by example.
You’ve gotta lead by example and offer solutions and facts with a clear cut plan.
At some point you can’t deny reality. The people who deny reality will get left behind while the world evolves into a better place, hopefully.

Saul: It’s a tricky thing where somewhere along the way despite our differences, both sides need to meet in the middle and find some common ground to agree on so that we can develop as a society.
It’s ironic in a way that we have come so disconnected in a society that is so connected by the finger tips that social media offers.
Coming back to Follow Me, is there a take home message that you hope will be translated in this regard?

Ronen: I think it’s pretty simple. Know what you are doing and why you’re doing it when it comes to social media.
If your goal is to have fun and post some photos of you and your everyday life, and family and your dog or where you are going then that’s totally fine. No one’s judging you for that.
You almost have to ask people who have a massive following with a platform that can lead to a lot of power and influence, that’s when it comes tricky because that’s when you have a lot of responsibility.
I think we live in a time when you almost sort of have to have a political opinion or social stance.
When your followers are essentially the next generation, why aren’t you speaking up about what is going wrong in the world when you literally can’t escape it. There is always more to be done. 

Saul: So undoubtedly, we are in a world of unrest and uncertainty, so why should people go and see this film, Follow Me?

Ronen: Before anything, I strongly urge people to go and see it responsibly. Listen to the professionals, I know that a lot of theatres are ensuring that everything is safe, so if they’re asking you to wear a mask and maintain a safe distance, please do.
There’s not a lot of films that are out right now. So it really is an honour to be in one of the few films that are out in theaters.
It’s a really fun film. Without talking about the inner themes of the film, it’s great cast that I think a lot of people will be able to relate to.
The pace is great, the dialogue is funny. When it gets to the escape room, it gets pretty scary and intense.
The inner themes are really important. Especially right now. I love films that really make you think about what you just saw and make you ask questions that start a dialogue with your peers. I think this film will do that. It’s gonna be a hell of a ride and I wanna thank Australia for having us with such open arms. We’re pretty much going to be premiering in every major theatre in Australia.  I wish I could come down to Australia and meet people at the movies, but hopefully next time.

Saul: So what’s next on the horizon for you Ronen? What projects are in store that we can see you in?

Ronen: Well, we’re going to be shooting Season 2 of 9-1-1: Lone Star hopefully pretty soon.
I have another film coming out in the Fall which I can’t talk about just yet, I wish I could. It’s also a thriller, so hopefully some more information will come out about that soon.
I’ve got a busy year ahead of me and I’m trying to stay focused and positive. 

Follow Me is released in cinemas nationwide from July 16.

The Surgeons of Horror team would like to extend our thanks to Studio Canal for setting up the interview and to Ronen Rubinstein for his insights.

  • Saul Muerte

Retrospective: The Mummy’s Hand (1940)

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Reaping off the success brought to Universal movies, Son of Frankenstein and The Invisible Man Returns, the production company would expand the universe further with another of their Monsters, The Mummy

A fair amount of The Mummy’s Hand lifts footage from its predecessor in its exposition as a dying High Priest recounts the tale of Kharis and his beloved Princess Ananka to his protege, Andoheb. Importantly comes the warning that if things prove dire, a vial from tana leaves can be used to restore movement to the monster.

Enter archaeologist Steve Banning (Dick Ford) and his sidekick Babe Jensen (Wallace Ford), a foreshadow of Universal’s direction towards the end of the decade and their collaboration with comedians Abbott and Costello, such is the comic banter between the two protagonists.

Banning believes that he has found an ancient Egyptian artefact leading to the last resting place of Princess Ananka, so with the help of the Museum specialist, Dr. Petrie, they seek confirmation from the local Professor of its authenticity. Unfortunately, said Professor is none other than Andoheb, who spies a threat from the intrepid trio and quickly tries to put them off the scent and keep the location hidden.
Banning however is intent on proving that he is right and finds financial backing in magician, The Great Solvani, who comes accompanied by his daughter Marta (Peggy Moran). Marta brings the feisty female characters synonymous with the films at the time serving both strong-headed, moralistic views that challenge the main (male lead) and ultimately the love interest.

Once the expedition is underway, we fall into typical territory as an embittered Andoheb is hellbent on protecting the tomb and resurrects Kharis (played this time by Tom Tyler, picking up the baton from Boris Karloff) in the process. From here, we see the bandaged menace wreaks havoc on the members of the quest, striking down and killing those who stand in his way. A few familiar traits appear, which at the time would have felt original but now have become commonplace, for example the monster falling for the token  female which requires the lead protagonist to save her from certain doom.

Kharis would appear a further four times throughout the 40s, three of those times with Lon Chaney Jr in the role, proving that there was a valid interest in the tale of hidden treasures and unrequited love, and although it became fairly formulaic towards the end, the humour embedded throughout the venture actually makes this instalment an enjoyable, still to this day.

  • Saul Muerte

Retrospective: Black Friday (1940)

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Not to be confused with the crazed shopping spree that occurs after Thanksgiving, but arguably just as dark.
Universal would blend together two of their most successful genres from the era in horror and gangster thrillers to produce a solid movie which would once again combine the awesome pairing of Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff.
The latter possibly delivers one of his finest performances for the production company as Dr. Ernest Sovac, a highly skilled surgeon who is compelled to save the life of his best friend college professor George Kinglsey (Stanley Ridges) with a brain transplant.
Being a Universal horror feature, things naturally don’t go according to plan when a curious side effect occurs post operation. 

The chosen brain just so happens to be from Red Cannon (also played by Ridges who should be commended for his portrayal of both characters) a gangster who is not only highly sought after by the police, but has hidden $500,000 dollars somewhere in the city. 

The curious concomitant occurs when somehow Kingsley starts to show personality traits of Cannon in an almost Jekyll and Hyde type situation. Cannon clearly the dominant personality starts to take firm control of Kinsley’s body in pursuit of his hidden fortune.

The drama from the movie comes from Lugosi’s Marnay, another gangster who was part of Cannon’s crew and knows of the loot and will stop at anything to stake his claim, but also from Dr. Kovac, who at first is driven by saving his friend, but when he too learns of the fortune, gets the green mist and becomes consumed with using Kingsley as a puppet to lead him to the money. 

It’s a pathway for doom and death for all involved and sparks an inevitable conclusion from a tale of greed, and power.

It’s a curious movie that is only really saved by Karloff’s performance from a script doctored by Curt Siodmak again, but comes across as a bit of a mish-mash of events leaving Lugosi grossly underutilised.
With some clever changes to the plotline and perhaps a shift in casting, this movie could have presented more fairly, but as it stands, gets a little lost in its own moralistic views. 

  • Saul Muerte