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THE KILLING GAMES (2012)

THE KILLING GAMES (2012)

Review by Mario Dominick
Director: Barry J. Gillis
Stars: Yunona Anders, Edwin Autridge, Vanessa Avik

This film is being released on Apple Itunes, Google Play, on April 22 by Typhoon Films

Canadian filmmaker Barry J. Gillis is best known in the underground circles as the writer, producer and star of the 1989 low budget Super 8 gorefest THINGS, a movie that has developed a cult following due to its cheesy qualities, humor, over-the-top gore effects and the appearance of porn star Amber Lynn as a newscaster. THINGS has seen release on extras-packed DVD editions through Gillis’s company and through Severin’s Intervision Pictures Corp. sub label and it is a personal favorite of HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN director Jason Eisener. After THINGS, Gillis spent nearly two decades completing his 16mm epic WICKED WORLD. After finally seeing his vision through with the final cut and release of WICKED WORLD a couple years ago, Gillis quickly started production on what would become his next feature. For that next feature, Gillis would switch from shooting on film to shooting on user friendly digital video equipment with THE KILLING GAMES.

THE KILLING GAMES carries a more serious tone as a movie than that of THINGS and it improves on the technical aspects of WICKED WORLD. THE KILLING GAMES is what you could call Gillis’s love letter to grindhouse era horror and sleaze movies. The film starts off with a couple being attacked in the woods by two psychopaths who go by the names “Dirty Jesus” and “Son of Satan.” They rape the man’s wife while they force him to helplessly watch at gun point. A girl and her friend hiking through the woods have the misfortune of stumbling upon the couple having sex at first and stay their while Dirty Jesus and Son of Satan make their attack. One of the girl’s foolishly starts filming the event with her phone. Her friend tells her they need get out of there before they get seen. Dirty Jesus and Son of Satan blow the couple away with a shotgun and the girls are spotted afterwards by the psychotic duo. The two chase the girls down where they tackle one of them to the ground and proceed to rape and murder her. The other girl gets away and finds her way back home to her father. They are unable to call the police due to their phone being out of service. The father (nicknamed “Birdman”) has been caring for the girl’s dying mother with the help of a nurse. Meanwhile, a group of mobsters involved in a jewelry-smuggling racket are on a mission in the area to obtain a sum of money for their boss. When a shakedown goes awry and people end up getting killed, the group finds themselves on the run. But when a couple from the gang accidentally get on the bad side of their leader, he proceeds to do away with them and any of his other accomplices who cross him. Meanwhile, the girl and father caring for the sick mother remain vigilant at their secluded house with a high powered hunting rifle as they wait for the serial killer/rapist twosome to show up. It turns out that the nurse has sinister plans up her sleeves to get a piece of Birdman’s wealth and is not intent on helping the mom at all. Tension builds as the worlds of all twisted characters in this story soon collide in a vicious, depraved, violent and blood soaked finale that throws out some unexpected shocks and surprises.

THE KILLING GAMES is a brutal and witty slow burn modern grindhouse flick. It starts off with you thinking the Dirty Jesus and Son of Satan characters will be the main focus of the story and then it goes in another direction with the introduction of several characters that seem to have no connections to each other at first, but as the story plays on, the significance of each character starts to make more sense. Another character that I liked was the Indian preacher who can sense when something bad is going down or when somebody is in danger or dying. The film has elements of classic ’70s exploitation horror flicks like THE CANDY SNATCHERS and LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT. The guy playing Dirty Jesus even has kind of a David Hess quality to him. Danish underground filmmaker Kim Sonderholm (CRAIG, LITTLE BIG BOY) makes an appearance as a mob boss. At one point when Birdman, his daughter and a friend are watching TV, a copy of CRAIG on DVD can be seen sitting on top the TV set. Gillis’s own film WICKED WORLD is the film they watch on the tube. Also thrown in is a clip from Cinema of Transgression founder Nick Zedd’s classic 1987 short film POLICE STATE. This is near the end when Dirty Jesus says to Birdman’s daughter that he wants her to watch the greatest movie ever, and says, “It’s called POLICE STATE by Nick Zedd!” These references and clips from other influential underground movies is very welcome and further shows what a true homage to the grittiest movies of the drive-in era and extreme cinema THE KILLING GAMES is. The film has gore, nudity, sex, and brutality and a slew of ruthless characters reminiscent of the likes of David Hess’s Krug in LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT and Roger Watkins’ Terry Hawkins in LAST HOUSE ON DEAD END STREET. Those with a love for gritty grindhouse-style cinema at its most uncompromising will undoubtedly love THE KILLING GAMES.

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