The final leg of our Mayhem Halloween weekend kicked off with another insane Japanese outing, in Tomie: Unlimited, and went on to chill with a retrospective of the excellent French classic, Eyes Without A Face, took those of us of a certain age back to our childhood with a re-screening of the spooky TV event, Ghost Watch, and concluded with the stark German ghost story, The Last Employee. But the surprise of the day came from Jolly Old England herself, with the disturbing Little Deaths.
This low budget anthology is comprised three shorts with the basic theme of sex and death, by established cult horror creators, the first, House and Home, gives a smug middle-class couple more than they bargain for after they ply a young homeless girl with kindness to get her home and have their perverted way with her. The second, Mutant Tool, chronicles the lives of people who directly or indirectly are connected to an imprisoned humanoid creature, with a giant member, whose endless supply of sperm is being farmed for narcotic purposes. The last, Bitch, is a revenge fantasy that sees a put upon nice-guy go a little too far when eventually dealing with his horrible girlfriend.
What started off as just the title of some British entrée in the festival, that I wasn’t too fussed about watching, very quickly made me sit up and take notice, with it’s smart, realistic dialogue and unflinching and unapologetic stance on the subjects it has chosen to wade in. Although by no means a thing of beauty, all the three shorts DO belie their tiny budgets and shock/delight with either original spins on classic scenarios or just outright original concepts.
House and Home, by Sean Hogan, a director that entertained earlier in the festival with his latest feature, The Devil’s Business, puts you in the right frame of mind with his well acted, crisply shot instalment that takes a situation with perhaps overly used horror potential, drawing it to its graphic though not overly exploitative ends before putting an extra twist in the tale, that provides a horrific sense of justice and a more obvious aspect of horror than the set-up would have suggested.
Andrew Parkinson’s Mutant Tool is the most original short of the three, both conceptually and visually. Evenly sharing gross-out scenes of a monstrous, oozing penis (later to be refined into a narcotic) with the bizarre events that make up the rest of the film, make for an uncomfortable yet disturbingly compelling watch. It’s ending is a little less final that the other two shorts but in a way that enhances the motivations of some of the key players. Truly weird stuff.
The final film, Simon Rumley’s Bitch, at first seems like your going to end the anthology on a less professional, and more unforgivably, boring, note, as the very British, less shiny, and quite frankly, grimy looking affair slowly illustrates the exploits of a selfish woman as she episodically robs her long suffering boyfriend of his last strands of dignity. Enough elements of the odd are infused to keep you interest though, as the film unravels and shows itself to be a pitch perfect set-up for a crescendo of sickly planned payback that while at once extreme in its severity is original and guiltily satisfying. It’s a genuinely effecting climax that paints Bitch as the best of the bunch.
I’m not sure if Little Deaths will get a wide distribution, but I highly recommend it to all enthusiast of horror and the bizarre, so go out there and catch it in whatever form you can.
House and Home – B- grade
Mutant Tool – B- grade
Bitch – B+ grade
Overall grade – B
Watch the trailer.
I personally would like to thank Chris Cooke, Gareth Howell and Steve Shiel, the organisers of Mayhem, for yet again putting on such a wonderful event. Let’s hope next year is even bigger and better.