Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Red Spirit Lake (1993) Charles Pinion

Five years after Charles Pinion first blared through screens with Twisted Issues he returned with Red Spirit Lake. Creditably its a very different beast, the plot is inspired by nasty exploitation rather than slashers and 80's cheese, there's a heavier emphasis on sex and weirdness, the setting is rural rather than urban, it isn't full of punk rock and it wraps up in a filler free 78 odd minutes. Plus it even has a different kind of point! I'm all for film makers not resting on their laurels, for me art should never rest but ceaselessly journey into the unknown, so Red Spirit Lake gets my goodwill automatically. But alas it's actually a bit of a step down... 

The plot sees attractive young Marilyn inherit the titular property after her aunt is murdered in the opening. See, evil industrialist Diego Sardonia (cool name!) wants to get his hands on the place and the magic within, and is all about sending vicious hired goons to help acquire it. But Marilyn has some tricks up her sleeve, plus there's some business involving weirdo caretaker Mathias (Pinion himself) and his simpleton brother Thomas, who have encountered angels (or possibly aliens, the main thing is that they're painted silver and wear tin foil). And later on some friends of Marilyn rock up to get involved in the fun. There are lots of neat ideas and the odd arresting moment but things don't really stick. The biggest problem is the point that the film seems to want to make, a contrast of the grasping, ultimately impotent feral savagery of Man (a phallic tusk appears in a dream sequence) with the playful and more powerful sorcery of Woman. Basically inane, 17 year old Riot Grrl/Wicca wannabe stuff, the kind of gender politics that can just about carry a short but that become embarrassing in the long form where one has more space to think about them, and especially embarrassing coming from a grown man. But also the film making hasn't improved much, and what is charming when dealing with a killer undead skater is more frustrating than charming when dealing with rape and more seriously unhinged material. So the whole is difficult to fully appreciate, even though on paper a lot of it is winning stuff. 

Still, serious trash cult enthusiasts should dig this at least a little. No Wave notables Tessa Hughes Freeland and Kembra Pfahler appear as witches, dancing in the snow in flimsy gowns such that you figure their nipples would freeze off, and Richard Kern plays a big meanie who gets a memorable comeuppance. There are red and blue filters, a score that has a lot of blurry noise/drone and occasional passages of beating industrial, there are a few tits, a few funny lines and it is effectively bizarre and gruesome at times. So I guess it's a case of if you're still reading, this may be a film for your, Just watch Twisted Issues first to get your bearings.

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