Sightseers

discs death house

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. Silent Night, Bloody Night Jeffrey Butler has arrived in the small town his family called home to check out the house he’s inherited, but someone else has gotten there first! That someone is Butler’s lawyer, who’s arrived to finalize a deal and maybe squeeze in some infidelity with his sexy squeeze in an upstairs bedroom, but his coitus is interrupted by the discovery that someone else has gotten there first! That someone has an ax. This low budget slasher premiered in the early ’70s, and while CodeRed apparently released a restored version as a double feature a couple months ago this new DVD from Film Chest is my first glimpse of the movie. It suffers from low budget woes, some serious ones at times, but if you can get past them you’ll find a fresh little tale that offers some genuinely creepy scenes alongside an interesting script. Again, it’s cheap as hell, but there’s a lot to love here for horror fans. [DVD extras: None]

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review sightseers

Editors’ note: Our Sightseers review originally ran during last year’s Fantastic Fest, but we’re re-posting it as the film gets a limited theatrical release starting today. The problem with making a truly fantastic film is that sooner or later you have to follow it up with a new movie. If it was your first then rumors will swirl about a sophomore slump, and if it’s your second then people will wonder if you can keep delivering the goods. Ben Wheatley‘s last film was the dark, brutal and highly acclaimed Kill List, and that in turn was a giant leap up from his debut, Down Terrace. Wheatley’s new movie is more of a jump sideways than up, but that’s actually even more impressive. Sightseers maintains the quality and effectiveness of Kill List even as it surprises with a constant stream of laugh out loud hilarity. Where his earlier movies featured darkly comic moments, this one is a flat out comedy… with gory murders. Has there ever been a love story as great as the one between Tina (Alice Lowe) and Chris (Steve Oram)? The answer is a resounding yes, but don’t tell that to these two sad-sack lovebirds. Tina is still reeling from the accidental death of her dog Poppy, but when her new beau Chris suggests the two of them take an RV trip across the English countryside she ignores her flatmate’s warnings and hits the road. It doesn’t hurt that her flatmate is her mother who constantly reminds Tina […]

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A Field in England

Looks like Drafthouse Films is picking up some primo real estate, as the film distribution arm of the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema has just announced that their latest acquisition is Ben Wheatley‘s A Field in England. Wheatley is a name well-familiar to the Drafthouse genre buffs, as he’s already directed three uniquely terrifying films (Down Terrace, Kill List, and Sightseers) and contributed a segment to Drafthouse’s own The ABCs of Death. Drafthouse and Wheatley is a perfect pairing, and one that we’ve been expecting for quite some time. For the new film, which has been described as “a psychedelic trip into magic and madness,” Wheatley goes period all over the asses of some poor schmoes, as it centers on “English Civil War soldiers in the 17th century who are captured by an alchemist and led into a vast mushroom field, where they fall victim to violent and nightmarish forces.” Soldiers? A crazy alchemist? Mushrooms? If it’s half as scary as Kill List, theaters will have to put down tarps to capture the tears and wee of moviegoers. (This is a good thing, really, we promise.)

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Ben Wheatley‘s Sightseers is the ultimate dark comedy. It puts the most audacious visuals in front of you and dares you not to laugh at them. In the film, Chris (Steve Oram) and Tina (Alice Lowe) take a week out caravanning across the English country-side. Little does she know, he’s a murdering psychopath with a short temper. Eventually, the two are traveling from one landmark to another killing anyone who pisses them off. Earlier this year, Bobcat Goldthwait similar God Bless America received a lukewarm response from critics. This feels like a less overbearing version of that film. While most instances of violence come from things that aggravate our protagonists, the murder spree doesn’t come out of some sense of entitlement. Chris and Tina kill just because they prefer that person dead, for their own gratification and to better enjoy their holiday. It’s not to improve the world around them. The film derives some great comedic moments from the bookends holding scenes together. Chris kills a man for telling him and Tina to clean up a piece of excrement, which is followed by them asking themselves, “Isn’t the country lovely?” The film revels in how easily Tina and Chris can justify their murders and brush them off as a part of their holiday.

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Sightseers Trailer

Given that it’s British and it’s about two people taking a laugh-filled trip through the countryside, the initial instinct is to compare Sightseers to Michael Winterbottom’s 2010 release, The Trip. Or maybe given the inclusion of a cute little dog that gets in on all the action, Michel Hazanavicius’ Oscar winner from last year, The Artist. But, about halfway through its new trailer, when all of the casual murdering starts, it becomes clear pretty quick that comparing Sightseers to anything else just won’t do. For those who’ve seen its director Ben Wheatley’s previous film, the shocking and grizzly Kill List, that probably comes as no surprise. If Wheatley proved anything there it was that he’s a storyteller who can keep an audience on their toes, and a visual artist who isn’t afraid of graphic depictions of murderous acts. Trying to pin his films down is an exercise in futility, you might as well just go along for the ride and try not to get any on you.

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Happen to remember the SXSW Midnight film that Rob called “a blood-drenched trip down the rabbit hole“? Hopefully you added it to that list you keep of smaller films to look out because there’s good news on the horizon. IFC Midnight is looking to give Kill List a release sometime in the near future, and its director Ben Wheatley already has his next project lined up. According to The Playlist, Wheatley will be joined by executive producer Edgar Wright to create Sightseers – a dark comedy that focuses on two road-tripping psychos. Those psychos will be played by the screenwriters Alice Lowe and Steve Oram who are no strangers to the British comedy world or the mind of Steve Coogan/Alan Partridge. In fact, Lowe appeared in Hot Fuzz as Tina, one of the residents of the sleepy little hamlet of Sanford, and Oram was on the best-named television show of all time: Tittybangbang. The best part about this not-yet-publicly-defined project is all the comedic talent involved. It sounds like a violent meeting between the happy clown and the one angry clown who wields a blunt instrument and carries a lot of childhood trauma with him. Wheatley has proven himself unyielding in his ability to make audiences delightfully uncomfortable, and the rest of the pedigree here is strictly for laughs. As such, it’s exciting to see what twisted baby might come from this partnership.

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