Friday, March 23, 2012

Murder Manor: Last Caress (2011)

Last Caress (France, 2011)
starring: Julie Baron, Guillaume Beylard and Elina Calmels

An artist woke up in her manor with the help of a stranger. She escorts this girl out with gratitude for helping her out, but moments after, she spots a doll with its neck hanging on a pole, and no sooner, a killer in a stocking mask (and fendora) hacks her chest open with a cleaver until her heart exposes and got hacked as well. Seconds after the attack, the killer reveals herself as the Artist's stepsister, and murdering her is just the tip of the ice berg. She just so happens to be jealous of her step-sister's riches, that which includes a painting worth millions hidden away somewhere in the manor. Now that no one was there to stop her from searching, she spend the last hours before dawn procrastinating with the corpse, asking it and verbally abusing it. But when daylight finally came, she decided to step outside to have some "fresh air".
Familiar face (disguise) anyone?
In a stroke of bad luck, as she opened the door, the once murdering step-sister was now reduced to a victim of yet another assassination; at the very front door was a man in sunglasses, hired to murder anyone that might be a potential witness or threat. After bashing the step-sister's face to a pulp with a spiked glove, he began to proceed to search for the painting until he finds out that he won't be alone for long.
Familiar weapon anyone?
Five of the Artist's friends, including her cousin, pulls up to the manor to had some peace, relaxation, and sex. Also included to their listings of "fun" things to do was to do a seance that calls forth a suspected witch that is also their long lost ancestor. This led to one of them passing out for half a day, and her friends alone to spend their time doing whatever they want, unaware of the lurking murderer who's out to finish the job.
Ah, at least they're not horny teens...or are they?
How old do you have to be as an adult? 25? 30...40?

The very flaw of Last Caress is an obvious one, and that is it guilty of plagiarism. The opening sequence is a direct attempt to redo the same style from Bava's Blood and Black Lace's own opening, with the entire cast posed while the credits introduced them. Next to justify my note was the first murder, yet again sporting the same disguise as the killer from Bava's film, only placed in a scene that appears to be a hybrid of Deep Red's "hanged doll" calling card and Suspiria's first murder (chest mutilated until heart exposed and hacked) Other gialli scenes and elements "borrowed" also include the spiked glove weapon from Death Walks at Midnight and even the "body-through-glass" shot from Tenebre, as well as scenes from slasher films like My Bloody Valentine (1981)'s shower head impaling (mixed here with Intruder's hook-jaw kill) and the obvious Friday the 13th Part 4's "corkscrew" scene. (even finishing it with a similar facial split!)

 And yet, I can't stop watching it. I can't stop re-watching it. With all the sleaze and kills, I find it hard not to find a reason or two for me to like this film. For one, I do enjoy the quality of the film. Despite shot in a minimal budget, shining crystal clear in it's daylight burning witch scene, and being  shot-on-video, the film looked polish, with awesomely made gore effects and even sporting a giallo inspired soundtrack. It took a lot of tribute to Argento's and Bava's candy-lens lighting and even the obscure camera angling and cinematography. With a running time of 70 plus minutes, it all happened in such a quick pace, and it bears no to little boring moments (that witch torture scene's a bit of a filler for me. I'm not a big fan of torture-erotic imagery. I prefer both to be separate) It has it's silly bits (girl hides under a tall table from her killer. Didn't end well obviously), some good tension and fair grit, it definitely had the art film feel to it, cartoonish in a devilish way. It also had a revelation of sorts in the near end that tackled the supernatural sensibilities from before. Random, but digestible.

Yeah, not into that all S&M crap. But y'all have fun, though!
If you don't mind the copy-cat issues, it may easily fit to call this film a slasher-giallo hybrid with the best kills in horror cinema re-enacted. If you can easily overlook the matter that it cheated on us in originality, then join the crew, Last Caress sports easy story, over-the-top gore and craziness that's wanting some love.

1 female chest hacked open with cleaver, heart hacked
1 female pounded to death by the face with spiked glove
1 female burned alive (flashback)
1 male face split with machete
1 female back impaled unto glass shards
1 male garroted with thin wire and nearly decapitated
1 female hook to the jaw
1 female shotgunned on the eye
1 male repeatedly clawed, throat cut
total: 9

(Or, if you like, pop this disk and play "name that scene"! Winner would be the guy/gal who could name all the movies one scene was based on! Least now we have a new game to enjoy!)

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