In 2003, I was a big fan of director Dante Tomaselli’s second film, simply titled Horror. While it definitely had it’s limitations in both budget and acting, something about it became a splinter in my mind that I haven’t been able to pick out. Over the years, I’ve come to realize that most of my favorite films are heavy on the abstract; the narrative isn’t as important to me as the feeling I get from them, and it is because of this that I had high hopes for Tomaselli’s career. It was no coincidence a lot of people at this time praised Tomaselli as the new coming of Fulci and Argento due to his movies operating very heavily on a dream-type logic (which helps to cover up the weakness of his actors). Indeed, Tomaselli’s old-school approach to horror films is what has made him a hero on the horror circuit over the past few years.
So it was in the per-historic year of 2006 when his third film Satan’s Playground dropped that I eagerly rented it from the local Blockbuster Video. And I hated it. All the short-comings of Dante’s work were on the fore-front. Tomaselli has a tendency to stock his films full of actors who seemingly would have a hard time passing an audition in a community theater. Given the way he directs his films it’s hard to tell if he’s directing them to act like they are all mentally disabled or if they just can’t do any better and given you’ll never see any of them in anything ever again, the viewer has nothing to compare them with.
I had actually blocked this experience with Satan’s Playground out, and had been looking forward to seeing Torture Chamber for the past couple years. I finally took the plunge and rented it digitally last week. And it brought back all the horibble memories. This is a very bad movie with a very interesting premise. A group of creepy kids who happen to be burn victims are out on a revenge killing spree against the parents and doctors who they feel did them wrong. Think Devil Times Five more like ten kids instead of just five. I watched this with an open mind and by the time I got to the origin of their leader (who had his face scarred from a tragic hairspray huffing accident) I decided that I was done taking this film seriously.
Vincent Pastore (The Sopranos) needed to eat with the lights on, so he shows up in this as a cop in this and seems to be rather embarrassed about the whole thing. The issues as to if Tomaselli wants his actors to be bad on purpose in order to play up the “dream” logic of his works or if they are just bad actors is answered here. Everyone is horrible in this with Pastore being a huge offender, so it seems to be an intentional choice on the part of the director.
About halfway through the film I decided to join on the dream logic myself and fell asleep. I didn’t bother to finish watching the rest of this and feel like I didn’t miss anything.
Leave a comment
No comments yet.