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Posts tagged “Eli Roth

Fright Fest: Clown (2014)


Over the last few weeks, the news has been inundated with reports of people dressed as clowns mysteriously appearing in communities across the globe. At first, their appearances were largely non-threatening, often loitering like a low rate Michael Myers but then elevated to wielding knives and armed robberies. This has been met with a mix of intrigue and derision, and the general public has been less than receptive to the idea of a creepy clown hanging around their property or stalking their family for nothing else but their own amusement. There is an inherent distrust of clowns for the most part, with Coulrophobia being the phobia of them, despite the fact that they are supposed to elicit humor and happiness.

Perhaps it’s fitting then that director Jon Watts project Clown began as something of a joke. Watts and Chris Ford, the screenwriter, made a now infamous fake trailer and even credited Eli Roth as a producer despite the fact he wasn’t associated with the project at all at that time. This ballsy move prompted many to believe that the film was a real thing, and convinced Roth himself to make the project a reality with Watts and Ford and it began shooting in 2012.

After languishing in the release date graveyard the film saw a staggered release across the globe that started in Italy 2014 and ended most recently with the USA in the summer of 2016.


And it is with firm belief that I state Clown, in my opinion, is one of the best monster films in years that deliver an incredibly unique cinematic creature and slow burn body horror amidst the family drama.

The story tells the tale of Kent McCoy (Andy Powers), a generic everyman working as a real estate agent. While juggling the renovation of a new property and his child’s birthday party he uncovers a clown costume with the property’s basement. With the clown, he’d booked for his kid’s party needing replacing he thinks quick and dons the costume and pretends to be an entertainer. However, he soon realizes something is amiss when he is unable to remove the suit, and it is in fact possessed by an ancient demonic entity “The Cloyne” that acts like a parasite feeding off of its host, becoming one with them and making them yearn to eat the flesh of children.

At first, the set-up is darkly humorous with Kent’s fruitless attempts to remove the costume played with a wry smile but soon the comedy evaporates as each attempt leaves him more desperate, distraught and disfigured. His skin grows paler, his rubber nose turns into a redraw scab and his hands and feet distort with boney cracks and claws.


In his desperate search for a cure, he encounters Herbert Karlsson (Peter Stormare), somebody who knows the secrets of “The Cloyne” after his own brother fell afoul of its curse. Karlsson breaks the news to McCoy that the curse is permanent and the only release for him is death.

Clown strikes the delicate balance between pitch-black humor and horror with masterful strokes, and despite the inherent absurdity of the concept it plays it straight-faced with one hundred percent commitment. It is this sincerity that elevates the film to something special for me. As a lifelong fan of cinematic monsters, Clown is a breath of fresh air in today’s extreme horror world. Its set-up is simple, its delivery elegant and its payoff brilliantly tragic. Most importantly at its heart a monster that is memorable and unique, something its concept could have easily fumbled but it introduces a legitimate and otherworldly threat with aplomb.


I dare say this film is nostalgic at a time when horror films increasingly turn to shock tactics and gross out concepts to one-up each other. Fans who like simmering dread, iconic creatures and a story that’s not afraid to have the audience sympathize with the titular creature, as we watch a once good man slowly enveloped by a horrific curse and dares you to come along for the ride.


Daniel Marc Chant – Is no stranger to Machine Mean, having reviewed for us both The Mummy (1932) and The Creature Walks Among Us(1956) during our Universal Monsters in Review series.  Mr. Chant is also the published author of several terrifying tales, including Maldicion, Burning House,, Mr. Robespierre, Aimee Bancroft and The Singularity Storm, and his latest release with Into Fear. Daniel is also one of the founders of The Sinister Horror Company, the publishing team that brought us such frights as, The Black Room Manuscripts Vol. 1 and 2 and God Bomb!. You can follow Daniel on his blog, here. And you can read his review on The Mummyhere.

And as always, if you enjoyed what you’ve read here on Machine Mean, please subscribe to our author mailing list by clicking on the “FREE BOOK” image below to not only receive updates on sales and new releases, but also a free anthology of dark fiction.




THE GREEN INFERNO: movie in review

Never have I been more excited to hand some teenaged clerk $10.50 to see a movie. And I’m not quite sure why. Maybe its because I’m the guy who typically buys candy bars and packs of gum in the checkout line when I see a “On Sale” sign. I’m the guy who watches commercials and gets really excited when they’re flashy and funny. Basically, I’m an easy sale. It really doesn’t take much, sad to say, to get my gear going. My wife has often told me I’m a marketing teams wet dream (in more or less words, wink wink). Now, this in no way is a critique on the quality of film, per say. I’m just wondering, after-the-fact, how I got so enthusiastic for movie? Well, considering the above disposition to cheap gimmicks, there should be no wonder at all, as The Green Inferno pulled no stops on ad space. And lets be real here, its a film designed after the great cannibalistic films before its time. This was marketed as Cannibal Holocaust 2.0, wasn’t it? Indeed. But did Eli Roth pull off what Ruggero Deodato did back in 1979?


Lets see…

Here is your quick fire synopsis:

New York college student Justine, who’s daddy so happens to be a big shot UN lawyer, meets a student activist named Alejandro, who you’ll find has his head way up his ass, when he goes on a hunger strike on behalf of underpaid janitors. After she becomes traumatized by a college lecture on female genital mutilation, Justine pleads to join with the student activist group undertaking a new project: to stop the destruction of an indigenous Peruvian tribe’s ancestral home, Occupy Wall Street Style. The group of young, dumb, and full of bad ideas college brats travels with privileged upper class American exceptionalistic fanfare, marveling at the local scenery while also mocking a few of the customs carried on down in South America. Justine soon learns to regret her decision in joining this band of “one face” wannabes when their plane crashes in the Peruvian jungle and she and the rest of their group are taken captive by a tribe of hungry cannibals.

So that’s a basic set up. From there, the movie guides you through some very realistic and hilarious insights into this slacktivist quandary. And while the acting was choppy at times, especially in the beginning between Justine and her roommate, it is a forgivable let down that quickly fades away into the obscurity of gruesome violence. I felt the film was a honest homage to Cannibal Holocaust while also retaining its own voice. In Cannibal Holocaust, we are forced to question just who are the savages, the tribe or the film crew (who are exceedingly cruel to the locals)? With The Green Inferno, we are forced to ask what good the slacktivist movement does. While Cannibal Holocaust had a broader subversive quality, The Green Inferno brings us into a more localized phenomenon. For those of us watching the news and seeing kids in white V is for Vendetta masks and wondering what good does all that do? Garner attention? Sure. Anything else? Unlikely. And it seemed even more repugnant when some groups attempt to parallel their own movement to the likes of say, Arab Spring, or even worse, The Civil Rights Movement, where in the 1960s college students laid claim to fame for nonviolent disobedience while riding buses and sitting at lunch counters, working in the rural south to get black citizens to register to vote. To me, that is real activism, working to help. Not just chaining yourself to some building or bulldozer and then having a good laugh about it later that night at Starbucks. As the movie progresses, we see just what it was Alejandro was after, fame. Nothing more what a bunch of re-tweets and re-posts on social media platforms to, as he said, bring in more student activists. He had no intention of stopping anything, and in fact, knew he could do jack shit. All of the tag-a-long slacktivists seem okay with this, or worse, expected nothing less. Justine is furious. She thought she was going to cause real political change. Her naivety in the story showcases, I think, Roth’s impressions on similar groups in America. Dumb egomaniac kids with the best intentions.


Things begin to heat up, no pun intended, when their plane crashes in the jungle, and very soon after, the local tribe captures the lot and imprisons them in a pig pen. Here, and among other scenes (including a very gross “stomach problem” scene and a “stoner” scene in which the cannibal tribe gets the munchies…get it?), Roth injects a certain amount of humor amid the gore. Giving the film a very satirical vibe. Perhaps adding to the subversive nature of the film. Understanding Roth’s social commentary aim and sitting down and looking at the film itself, there are a few fantastically horror moments, and there are a few letdowns as well.

The movie had a fantastic vibe building up to the eventual encounter with the indigenous savages. Plenty of foreshadowing to make your eyes roll. When the first student is served on the chopping block, it felt like a shotgun. Roth cleverly used Jonah, the not so token but certainly guileless black guy, as his “first” item on the menu. And it is a fantastically cringe worthy scene, very brutal and terrifying to watch. With something has intense as Jonah’s death, we have to wonder just what lays in wait for the remainder of the film. Understandably, the gore cannot keep the same momentum or the audience could actually grow desensitized to the violence. You want to keep people guessing and on the edge of their seats. So you pull some punches, and that’s okay, because again, you cant just keep hitting people with a hammer and expect them to react the same way as the first scene. But when it comes to the finale, you’d think, okay here it comes, the last hurrah.  Its going to be really gross and awesome….!

And then…

Nope, sorry.

End film….


This particular scene would have really sold the movie for horror fanatics and given the film a bit of tragic-delirious injection of irony. If they’d just gone ahead with the genital mutilation, it would have sent the movie easily as one of the best horror films because it would have captured all of the intentions of the best horror stories: taboo, gore, and subversive. However, Eli did not go through with it. Maybe he knew the ratings board would have shit a brick if he kept it in the film. Either way, the pulled punch did not destroy the overall dread-esk abeyance of The Green Inferno. It was still really fun and had plenty of goretastic moments. If you’ve been waiting for nerds like me to give you the approval, you have it, in spades. Its a fun, perhaps over-hyped, film for maybe not the whole family.

My rating: 4.5/5