The seventh annual Another Hole In the Head Film Festival is currently running in San Francisco from July 8th through the 29th. It’s a genre fest featuring domestic and international horror, sci-fi, and exploitation films, and it just may be the first and last chance to see some of these on the big-screen. There are thirty-two films at the fest this year, and we’re trying to see and cover as many as possible. (And by we I mean me…)

Grotesque – directed by Koji Shiraishi, Japan; upcoming screenings 7/16 5pm, 7/18 7pm, 7/22 5pm

Synopsis: A physician in serious risk of breaking his Hippocratic oath kidnaps a young couple and proceeds to torture them physically, sexually, and emotionally. No, really. That’s pretty much it.

Check out our review after the jump…

Review: Not every film is for every person. Just because a movie isn’t your ‘type’ of entertainment doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a bad movie though. I’m no fan of musicals for example, but I wouldn’t automatically disqualify all musicals as terrible cinema. (See Happiness of the Katakuris for an example of a great one actually.) And so it is with movies whose running time consists mainly of someone being abused, degraded, and tortured. You probably won’t find many examples of the genre in my DVD collection, but I’m always willing to give the movies a chance to grab me and prove they have more to offer than just blood, sweat, and jizz.

Sadly, the problem with Grotesque is that it’s fairly empty aside from the fluids mentioned above. There’s no plot for one thing. He grabs the couple and tortures them. That’s it. The acting is one note so nothing to compliment there. Characters are basically Doctor, Victim A, and Victim B. There’s no character development of any kind, and since the movie opens with the kidnapping we have no previous history with the couple necessary for us to give a damn what happens to them. A brief flashback scene is the film’s sole attempt at adding character depth, but it falls flatter than a toe smashed by a hammer in Toontown. Restraint is also sadly absent… not with the graphic nature of the violence mind you, but with the fifteen to twenty minutes spent on sexual assault. (It may not actually last that long, but it certainly feels like it.) On the bright side he’s an equal opportunity offender and brings both the woman and the man to “completion.” The film plods on, offense after offense, and then simply ends.

And yet the movie isn’t a total waste. The effects are really damn good, and if you don’t mind watching a movie absent of any other quality then it’s worth seeing for the gore alone. They’re bloody, gristly, and at least one or two of the shots may cause severe wincing. A brief sampling of the impressive and fantastically disgusting practical effects on display includes a chainsaw to the hands, scissors cutting off nipples, nails through the balls, a needle to the eyeball, a penis severed with a knife… and it all looks beautiful. In an appreciation of physical effects kind of way, obviously… but the fact that a woman’s teats are being snipped off and I’m more intrigued with how they created the effect than I am concerned for her well being? That’s not good film-making.

Check out the complete festival schedule here.

And check out the rest of our festival coverage here.


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