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Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Neon Killer (2008)

Director: Ben Robinson
Stars: Roger Robinson and Louis Raynes
This film was an official selection at the 3rd Phoenix Fear Film Fest in Tempe in 2010. Here's an index to my reviews of 2010 films.
I enjoyed every moment of Neon Killer so much that I've lost track of how many times I've seen it now. Part of its appeal is that it only has to achieve one thing, which is to invoke the spirit it aims for, and it succeeds on that front magnificently. It's at once a spoof and an homage to the Italian crime films of the seventies, less the giallo movies and more those of the poliziotteschi subgenre that featured more vigilantism and graphic violence, inspired by tough American pictures such as Dirty Harry and The French Connection. In fact the line of dialogue that serves somewhat as a tagline for the short is the title of a poliziotteschi movie, Ruggero Deodato's Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man. As long as it evokes the right feel, anything good about Neon Killer would reflect well on the film itself but anything bad would reflect negatively only on the genre that inspired it. It's a good thing that writer/director Ben Robinson nailed that feel with a vengeance.

There was a lot of thought put into how Neon Killer was constructed. It isn't just the aging, which is impeccable and evokes not just 35mm but VHS too. It isn't just the fact that the British actors don't only pretend to be Italian actors but badly dub themselves into English too. It isn't even just the glorious title sequence that pretends at being a 1986 Italian movie with the names of cast and crew translated into fake Italian equivalents. It's in all the careful attention to detail: the vivid lighting that changes from green to blue to red in successive scenes, the turtlenecks of the lead cops, the repeated death scenes, the nod to classic English literature, the gratuitous nudity that arrives out of nowhere and just as quickly disappears back there, the electronic soundtrack, the nonsensical revelation that comes at the end of the film as one of the cops retires, even the freeze frame that it all ends on. Robinson knows his stuff, that's for sure.

It's an entire feature film's worth of material condensed into a glorious five minutes. There are a lot of cuts to keep it moving along and even the segues ring very true. There are so many gore shots that many of them get a mere second or two of screen time, but they're highly varied in style and consistent in quality that this almost becomes a portfolio for Alex Chandon, the effects maestro who also made Bad Karma, wrote Pervirella and even shot a Cradle of Filth video. 'So much death,' says Barry, and he isn't kidding: we're treated to death by fire, acid, drill, hammer, machete, electrocution, even a leg severing pendulum. At the end of the day though, and while I can't really fault any part of this production, it's the voices of the lead actors that stay with me. Presumably they're Roger Robinson and Louis Raynes dubbing themselves and they're both note perfect in their intonation. I could listen to this as much as I could watch it. Time for another go

1 comment:

benito robinsoni said...

Dear Hal! ben Robinson here. I only just stumbled upon your lovely review of my film, which I still hold dear to my heart. Thanks SO MUCH for your kind words and observations. I made NEON KILLER just for people like yourselves. If I hadn't moved to the Middle East the following year ( long story), I would have made a sequel!? There is a prequel called SLASH HIVE on YouTube, if u haven't seen that...anyways, thanks for making my evening! Are you on twitter? Come find me and chat @bennozoid.

Peace, love and ultraviolence,
Ben