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House of Horrors 

A festival of frightening films from around the globe

Wednesday, Oct 17 2001
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Despite an avalanche of real-life horrors, audiences' voracious appetites for cinematic monsters continue unabated. Feeding that craving is Dark Wave, a four-day, eight-feature mini-fest that samples recent horror films from around the globe.

From Spain comes Jaume Balagueró's tense, well-acted The Nameless, based on Ramsey Campbell's novel about a secret society tied both to Nazi atrocities and to London's Swingin' '60s occult scene. Pill-popping Claudia (Emma Vilarasau) is unhinged by the disappearance of her 6-year-old daughter, whose voice she allegedly hears five years later in pleading, pathetic phone calls. Less successful is Wendigo, based on a Native American folk tale about a shape-shifting monster. Director Larry Fessenden uses some heavy-duty visual trickery -- grainy cinematography, vertiginous editing -- to doll up a hoary yarn of city folks on a fatal trip to the country. Sadly, the film's carefully crafted spell evaporates when the title creature appears as a man running around in a deer suit.

South Korean films are almost unknown here, so Byung-Ki Ahn's Nightmare (Kawee) is especially welcome. This unofficial remake of I Know What You Did Last Summer features a group of students who are brutally dispatched, one by one, after a pal of theirs commits suicide. Despite the gouged-out eyeballs and knives in the neck, the cast manages to appear spa-fresh most of the time. Less bloody and more fun is Shusuke Kaneko's Pyrokinesis, a captivating mix of anime-inflected thrills, political intrigue, and the Japanese psycho-killer genre. When her boyfriend's sister is raped and murdered, 20-year-old Junko (the fabulous Akiko Yada) goes after the criminals, armed with the ability to start instant, immolating fires. The female pyro motif isn't new (Firestarter did it in 1984), but Pyrokinesis makes it seem so.

About The Author

Gary Morris

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