Monday, December 3, 2012

Circus of the Damned

With the overwhelming amount of information the web serves up it's difficult to stay in the know and yet preserve the feeling of surprise at discovering a great new film. Horror can be especially tricky since there are many that never make it to a theater, never get mainstream press, but are still worth pursuing, so you have to seek out that information. Oh, my first-world Librarian of the Dead problems! Weep for me!

It's easy to learn too much about a film, to the point that it affects your reaction to it. I always forget how much damn fun it is be surprised by how good a movie is.
Sometimes you can stick your metaphorical fingers into your ears, learning no more than necessary and preserving that sensation. Hello, CABIN IN THE WOODS. As many recommended, I learned nothing more about the movie beyond the basic premise. And you know what? It worked. It turned my enjoyment of CABIN up to 11. That is, of course, also a big credit to the filmmakers for the ride they took you on in that movie.

Enter Netflix. Yes, there is a lot of junk-- especially horror junk-- available to watch instantly on Netflix. [Side note: to help alleviate that problem, see] When I saw and added THE DEVIL'S CARNIVAL to my queue, I knew nothing about it besides that it was well-rated and the plot sounded interesting. In retrospect, I must have simply missed the press it got when it came out. But I'm happy to say I found my "Surprise! This is awesome!" moment.

So here's your escape route: if you like dark fables, don't mind musical numbers and take joy in campy cabaret carnivalesque imagery then go Netflick it right now without reading another word!

DEVIL'S CARNIVAL is from the same people who created REPO! THE GENETIC OPERA, and includes some of the same actors including Bill Moseley, Alexa Vega and Terrance Zdunich, who is also the creator/writer of both REPO and DEVIL'S. The film opens with brief depictions of the lives of our three main characters just before they die. Once they've passed, they travel to The Devil's Carnival and are faced with the consequences of the sins they committed, explained through three of Aesop's Fables that are being read aloud by The Devil to a little boy.

The two hallmarks of this and REPO are the music and the visuals. Zdunich and director Darren Bousman create a rich, consistent ambiance in these films that draw you into each grim, beautiful little world. The costumes and makeup are perfect, the music is incredibly well done (and performed) and they hit just the right note with the direction they took the carnival theme. I can't say enough about it, really. The only area I would have liked some improvement on was some of the dialogue and specifically, the character of Ms. Merrywood who I felt lacked depth-- at least compared to the other two lost souls.

In a word, THE DEVIL'S CARNIVAL is fun. It has serious things to say, but the ride it takes you on in order to say them is the best kind of entertainment. If you appreciate the style of productions like ROCKY HORROR and REPO then I highly recommend seeing this too.

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