Welcome to BEAST’S FLASHBACK, where like the critics said of Elias Mehrige’s BEGOTTEN: "we point a flood light in those places we choose not to look."inaugural edition of what is hoped to become a regular feature, allow the author to explain. In this space we will look at films from the past and present that have, for some reason or another, gone relatively unnoticed....
Even in these modern times, where nothing seems to be hidden, these films have evaded mass viewings, major DVD/Blu-Ray revivals, and far-reaching retrospectives, remaining below the surface, clawing at the coffins of avoidance, screaming to be let loose.
While these movies may not be well known, they still have a resonance on those few who have experienced them, some of which have become well-known genre auteurs, using these underground gems as the measuring stick against their own levels of celluloid depravity. You may have not of heard of them, but they exist… and here they are.
As for the title of this column, the more astute of you out there will pick up on it as a reference to one of the more hilariously baffling moments in the mad annals of horror history; the moment in Wes Craven’s execrable HILLS HAVE EYES PART 2, where we see the dog Beast flash back to events from the previous film.
Alright, now that this is out of the way, let us look at our first film, and if you’re one of the few who has seen it, there really can be no other;
In 1994, an ambitious 19 year old from Canada, traumatized for years by malignant visions and ideas, hatched a plan to trap these pulsing nightmares in a prison, where their tortures would be reversed, and an audience would not only bear witness to the suffering of monsters, but find their own lack of humanity called into question, being tormented in kind. The result of this biopsy of the soul is a harrowingly surrealist splatter epic, and that 19 year old would proceed to spend the next Five Years constructing this cinematic asylum for his own beautiful dementia. The architect’s name is Karim Hussain, and the grounds are called SUBCONSCIOUS CRUELTY.
If Dusan Makajev’s SWEET MOVIE were to be re-imagined by a collective of Splatterpunk authors and violent post-punk bands, it might play out like SUBCONSCIOUS CRUELTY. An anthology film with an interlocking theme rather then a CREEPSHOW-like discernable framework, SUBCONCIOUS CRUELTY gathers a series of startling vignettes into one block of time, letting them run over the viewer like a fever dream.
The film’s prologue is an atmospheric crawl of desolate buildings with a voice over telling the viewer that cinema is little more than a composite of stolen dreams. That leads us to an empty chamber, where a nude woman lays prone on a bed with a hood over her face. Another women’s hand appears, gliding red fingernails over the woman’s belly. While this is happening, words flash on the screen telling us about the difference between the left and right halves of the brain, and how the left side (rationality) must be destroyed. The segment conclude with the fingernails going into the woman’s womb, pulling out an eyeball from the gash.
After “OVARIAN EYEBALL”, the meat of the film gets going. In the oppressively moody narrative titled “HUMAN LARVAE”, a young man broods over his pregnant roommate, planning to commit what he refers to as “a mockery of creation”. Let’s just say this; the baby from A SERBIAN FILM got off light. To contrast the fluid encrusted bleakness of this episode, the following segment (entitled “REBIRTH”) finds us in a fast field, where naked men and women make love to the earth with results that are no less bloody, but more celebratory and sensual than depraved and confrontational. From here we go into yet another contradiction in “RIGHT BRAIN/MARTYRDOM”. we follow a bland business man whose hollow pursuit to be walking comatose via money and porn are put under attack by the ferrymen of his own Id as they attempt to liberate him from the 2 things holding him back; the left side of the brain and… well… his penis. After a scene which makes REALM OF THE SENSES look like THE NOTEBOOK , we join Jesus in front of Church, blood caked and crying with all the pain a messiah must endure. He is then attacked by several vampiric beauties, who proceed to rape, cannibalize, and brutally sodomize the Lord, making communion a literal horror. After this, we rejoin the businessman, naked in a waterfall, purgative and purified.
On paper, SUBCONCIOUS CRUELTY may appear to be the sort of tits’n’gore pukefest that, while providing you with some entertaining carnage, proves to be ultimately empty; an exercise rather than an experience. It is just the opposite. SUBCONSCIOUS CRUELTY is a film that is not only horrifying, but purifying. It assaults, benumbs, and eventually rewards, showcasing a different kind of misanthropy; a humane misanthropy. A contraridictorial philosophy few other genre pieces of the 1990s were able to capture. Not until recent wall-nailers like Pascal Laugier’s MARTYRS and Srdjan Spasojevic’s A SERBIAN FILM has such an intensity been seen, and even those films don’t dare to go fully into the a-narrative nightmare logic mind fu$k Karim Hussain engaged. You could say “they don’t make ‘em like this anymore”, but the truth is they never made ‘em like this, and they probably never will.
Sadly, there is still no region one release for SUBCONSCIOUS CRUELTY, but the Region 2 is worth the hunt as it contains many brilliant extras, including a copy of the amazing soundtrack from Japanese composer Teruhiko Suzuki. Karim Hussain has since made two more features; ASCENSION and THE BEAUTIFUL BEAST, as well as doing incredible cinematography work on films such as WALLED IN and the surprise darling of Sundance HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN. He is currently directing and shooting a vignette entitled “VISION STAINS”, which he wrote for the upcoming Grand Guignol influenced anthology film THE THEATRE BIZZARE, appearing alongside the likes of Buddy G. (COMBAT SHOCK, LIFE IS HOT IN CRACKTOWN) and Richard Stanley (HARDWARE, DUST DEVIL), also a little known guy by the name of Tom Savini.
With all of that, Here’s hoping interest gets drummed up for this undiscovered classic and we get a proper stateside release.
Until then remember, even the dog had a flashback.
Written by HorrorBid columnist - N.
N. is the vocalist/lyricist for the NY based grindcore band THE COMMUNION, and his short piece "Lycanthropy Wife" is available in the USERLANDS anthology, available from Little House on the Bowery.
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