Crimson Quill’s Appraisal #480
Number of Views: Multiple
Release Date: October 29, 2015
Country of Origin: United States
Running Time: 138 minutes
Director: Matt Farnsworth
Producers: Matt Farnsworth, Diane Foster
Production Manager: Kaleb Tholen
Screenplay: Matt Farnsworth, Richard Charles Stevens (additional)
Special Effects: Simpat Beshirian
Visual Effects: Kaleb Tholen
Cinematography: David Riviera
Editing: Matt Farnsworth
Studio: Full Fathom 5 Productions
Stars: Diane Foster, Matt Horwich, Matt Farnsworth, Nick Principe, Richard Charles Stevens, Shayna Baszler, Marina Shafir, Jessamyn Duke, Simpat Beshirian, Zack Gillan, Lance Harrison, Sevak Ohanjanian, Vardan Sholinian, Kaleb Tholen, Hart Fisher, Katrina Aune, Golden Farnsworth, Ivy Farnsworth, Robert Rhine, Eileen Dietz, Cordova Roosevelt, Jake Ellenberger, David Riviera, Mel McBoutin, Marcos Butron, Pedro Valdez
Suggested Audio Candy:
Boy Sets Fire Release The Dogs
This appraisal is one I have deliberated long and hard over. You see, I’m in it. On one hand I would prefer to let others make their own conclusions and stay well away from the mindfield of evaluating something I have been so closely involved in. However, the other hand interests me more. I’m all about independent horror and love nothing more than to celebrate works which strike a particular chord with me. Thus I have decided to give this a crack. I won’t be scoring it at the end and certainly won’t be commenting on my own performance as I’m not that conceited. But I will give an honest take from the point of view of a horror aficionado first and foremost. This poses a unique challenge to Keeper but I love me one of those.
When I first stumbled across Matt Farnsworth’s 2011 slasher, The Orphan Killer, I knew precious little about it. It was recommended to me and I was intrigued to see what if offered a ravenous slasher connoisseur who had spent much of the past three decades severely undernourished. Horror was beginning to pick up pace after far too long in the doldrums but this didn’t necessarily apply to my beloved slasher. Chromeskull and Victor Crowley were perhaps the two juggernauts most at the forefront but, while Robert Hall’s Laid to Rest and Adam Green’s Hatchet were both great movies in their own right, neither had appeared definitive.
Marcus Miller was a whole different proposition. The Orphan Killer was shot on a limited budget, too gory to make it past the MPAA anywhere near intact, and Farnsworth was therefore resigned to taking the road of self-distribution and the eventual piracy which would obliterate any hope of making a return. However, while the film never received an official release, it went on to stir up something of a hornet’s nest, thanks to the man behind the mask and his hard-hearted methods of execution. Moreover, he vocalized his intent, rather eloquently I might add, and I duly applauded Farnsworth for having the cojones to go against the grain as neither Jason Voorhees or any of his cohort were what you would call conversationists.
David Backus was excellent as the notorious killer and his overbearing stance alone was enough to convince me the that the draught was finally over. But there was another reason why it shook me to my very foundations that day. The performance of Diane Foster as baby sister, Audrey Miller, was something that I simply hadn’t seen coming. Not since Marilyn Burns’ cross-country chainsaw dodging expedition had I witnessed such an honest depiction of terror and fading hope. She spent a large chunk of her screen time dangling from barbed wire manacles and, if it appeared as though they were somewhat uncomfortable, then I can confirm that these crude bracelets were absolute agony. But it was far more than just pain I could read on her flawless face. She captured the desperation exquisitely and also her sublime darkness. Like vicious waves, each time she emoted, I felt the high tide coming in and, through her magnanimous performance, I knew that Audrey was changed for evermore the moment she received her first taste of bad blood.
Farnsworth and Foster fashioned themselves an anomaly when they shared with us their exclusive vision four years ago and the TOK bug spread far and wide within no time. However, they had no interest in simply churning out a soulless sequel, and instead strategized the Millers’ return meticulously. It wasn’t until early 2014 that Farnsworth was in a position to continue to tell the story the way he already knew he wanted to. It’s one thing to create a tidy slasher but an entirely different proposition taking the next logical step and building a franchise. The feedback was pretty unanimous, everyone agreed that Audrey would be required to knuckle down and fend off her sibling a second time, but it’s all about growth and there appeared only one rational way in which her character could develop second time out.
The Orphan Killer: Bound X Blood is all about more, more, more. The original was 83 minutes long and the sequel dwarves that with an ambitious 138 minute running time, something you just don’t see in a film such as this. Herein is our first hint that Farnsworth is disinterested in playing the mirror game. Moreover, any additional time will not be dedicated to overblown exposition. After working alongside Farnsworth for the best part of two months last summer, I learned much about his chosen style of filmmaking. Dialogue isn’t the be-all and end-all where he is concerned, in fact, he’d be happier keeping it at a bare minimum. Like myself, he lives for what we refer to in the industry as “the gag”. There’s plenty of that on exhibit here.
So what do you get for 138 minutes of your precious time? Almost twenty kills for a start, each more inspired than the last. If grue gets you hard or moist, then prepare to be either stiff or soggy by the time the end credits roll. The original was certainly no slouch in this department and one beheading in particular still stands up as one of the most unrelenting ever committed to celluloid. But more, more, more remember. If there’s any justice whatsoever in the world, then Simpat Beshirian is a name the whole globe will be familiar with potentially sooner rather than later. Matt says gag, Simpat replies how deep, Matt says balls deep. Simpat obliges.
To say that Bound X Blood is ridiculously gory is like saying O.J. Simpson was ridiculously guilty. The blood on Farnsworth’s hands at the end of each day’s shoot attested to that. It trickles, oozes, glugs, sprays, and jettisons from every conceivable direction, and does so at alarmingly close-knit junctures to boot. Barely a minute in and one poor unfortunate (the gloriously game Katrina Aune) has already cancelled her neck tie. I affectionately recall feeding the hog-tied victim a cigarette, while Marcus kicked her disembodied head around the foliage like a hacky sack. Having watched him drag her, kicking and screaming, by the hair, to her spot of execution and being massively impressed by her willingness to die for the cause, it seemed only fair.
Anyhoots. More, more, more. 1+1=2 right? Unless my mathematics are all out of whack, I’m fairly assured that’s a given. Marcus has a lot of people to search and destroy so it seems like a good idea for his burden to be shared. More critically, Audrey still has the tang of blood on her luscious lips, and it’s high time she be a bad girl. The decision is made a lot less taxing by the company she keeps. Swiping in for the daily grind in her gloriously petite floral dress and Doc Martens, she is greeted every shift by all manner of undesirables and touchy-feely reprobates.
After being ambushed by the villanous Robert (Richard Charles Stevens – sorry, couldn’t resist just the once), there seems little reason to continue towing the line. Besides, Marcus may possess an extensive vocabulary, but “no” isn’t a word he takes kindly to.
She is aware that big brother’s blood runs through her veins also but he’s packed a little top-up just in case her memory needs jogging. The thing is, his supply is beyond tainted, and exposure to said fluid will invariably speed up the recruitment process considerably. For the first act, this is every bit the Audrey we last saw battered, bruised, but not beaten on that New Jersey rooftop. She’s still a sweet girl and has now found her place in society and some sincere friends to knock back the shots with. These include three of the four horsewomen of MMA, Ronda Rousey’s stablemates and close friends, Shayna Baszler, Marina Shafir, and Jessamyn Duke. These girls clearly aren’t going down without significant prior say.
Second time out, celebrated MMA brawler Matt Horwich is the man behind the mask and he is required to call upon his vast move repertoire in order to secure the heads of Audrey’s frontline battle cats. It was a pleasure watching them formulate the fight beforehand and not a single eyelid was batted to offering 100% for the cause. I watched Horwich slug it out on many occasions, have planks of thick wood smashed over his head repeatedly, drop to the hard ground, and all while attempting not to fall for the armbar submission. His dedication as Miller is there for all to see and this time a lot more questions are asked physically of our juggernaut. Most of the time, however, it’s still him cracking skulls. With more than a little help from Baby Sister of course.
The two are peas and carrots. Once Audrey switches allegiances, and begins to play catch-up on murder tally, a new dynamic is born and here we are provided lashings of ink black humor. Watching the pair playfully sparring with a length of large intestine in one hand and bloody organ in the other is priceless, like some sort of sick circus double act and with accompanying carnival soundbites. Marcus is purposely muffled, while every word which leaves Audrey’s deep red lips is as clear as the fates of their sacrificial lambs. The two share a wonderfully childlike chemistry and Baby Sister’s impish fits of giggles as she slaps the living shit out of another poor unfortunate send delicious chills down my spine without exception. The moment when Hellion Rising by the masterful HIRAX crashes in on our senses is an eargasm I plan on being multiple.
HIRAX Hellion Rising
Whereas, first time out, folk died first and suffered at which time Miller saw fit to defile their cold corpses, this time they have themselves some subjects to torture at will. Hanging up in a dilapidated train cart is fresh meat as you can’t be expected to jack up the body count without a little food preparation and this means the tenderizing of loins. Alongside Robert in the kitchen, preparing for a sound stuffing, are a bare-chested Jesus (a wonderfully withered turn from newcomer Zack Gillan) and 6″7 of man mountain, and ironically Chromeskull himself, Nick Principe. While dangling from my own set of uncouth shackles, I just wanted to swing over to the right a little and plant a gentle kiss on this man’s forehead. You’re damn right, I’m a fanboy. Even more so after improvising with such a naturally funny and stand-up guy.
There is so much wonderful irony in his character and he knocks the ball so far out of the stadium that it ends up back in his hands, coated in pigeon feathers. In short, he was a joy to work with and the same can be said of the entire Bound X Blood cast across the board and bar none. We all knew that it was a special little film and that is precisely how it has turned out. When there is that much solidarity on-set, everybody brings their A-game and one look at the credits will tell you all you need to know about the limited resources at our disposal with personnel. Personally, the idea of being involved with a movie that pumps straight from the heart’s valve gets me hard. After carrying a loaded weapon around for thirteen months, it feels good to finally shoot the load. By the rules of more, more, more that means twice the cum.
So how’s about a little soak down to give us a little one on one time with our salacious true scream queen? You didn’t really think 138 minutes would pass without Audrey having to take a steamy shower did you? Foster and Farnsworth abide and the Red Epic bulges with optical stimuli in synchronicity with our projecting peepers. Every box is ticked and, what’s more, Bound X Blood smartly suggests a fresh direction for the franchise. Just like Audrey, the whole kit and caboodle is metamorphosing before our eyes. No longer purely a slasher, it embraces all manner of other genres besides. Second time out there’s a real sense of humor to proceedings although only when it is seen fit to lighten the load some. As a result, the next atrocity to play out hits with the force of a 40lb splitting maul, and that is job done as far as Farnsworth is concerned and me bloody too.
It also bears the heart of an action movie and there is a real gonzo sensibility to Bound X Blood which calls to mind good old-fashioned seventies exploitation. I would love to know what Quentin Tarantino would make of this movie as it more than caters for his every whim I’m sure. If you’re wondering what happened to Audrey’s beleaguered beau, Mike Hunt, then fret not as he is gifted a moment or two to shine. And shine he does.
Both Farnsworth and Foster underwent a rigorous training regime in preparation for their resumed roles and there is a wondrous scrap between big brother and committed lover which is played out entirely authentically. Meanwhile, while boys are being boys and Hunt is tasting a little crimson in his palate, Audrey is circling like a cunning black panther waiting to be tagged in, flexing those washboard abs and cruel blood trickling down her delectable sternum.
There is a reason why the more, more, more mentality drives Bound X Blood forward like the unruly Trojan that it is and it all boils down to one big 138 minute thank you from Farnsworth, sealed with a bloody kiss from Foster. They appreciate the need for excess and are prepared to give no less. Hearts and souls are invested right across the board, from fast-thinking and vision-minded production manager Kaleb Tholen, through to Beshirian with his heinous creations, and the likes of America’s baddest boy scout Hart Fisher, insanely gifted HIRAX lead guitarist Lance Harrison, deaditor in chief of Girls and Corpses magazine Robert Rhine, Welterweight contender Jake Ellenberger, and latino king Cordova Roosevelt to name just a few crusaders for the cause.
There is also a wonderfully deranged turn from Eileen Deitz who acts as our unhinged crypt keeper. Meanwhile, Golden & Ivy Farnsworth show that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and a stunning future lays in wait for both, of that I am damn sure.
I am trying hard not to gush and feel like I need to rein it in a little for not wishing to appear biased. Actually fuck it, while we’re here. Why the fuck shouldn’t I gush? After all, I’ve waited thirty years for a movie like this and, when it comes, I only ended up right down to my follicles in deep red coulis. To have been a part of this well-oiled machine was an experience dementia could never take from me. I may be shitting involuntarily by then and rocking back and forth like old Ma Bates but I’ll still remember the hundredth slap around my well-kneaded face from Baby Sister’s studded glove and the foul smell of Marcus’ digits as they hoisted me towards that wide open steam valve by my nostrils.
Most of all though my fondest recollection was the laughter that rung out as my face accepted a vile load from the industrial pipe of my annihilation. Indeed, every time we reached any gag, sheer glee was the overriding emotion. Those watching on knew just how good the kills looked, each gag achieves its stripes, and anyone looking to criticize Bound X Blood should ask themselves what else they expected having already torn asunder the original. Then they should pick up a fucking camera themselves and go pour a tenth of their heart and soul into something they have created from the ground up and ensure that everybody involved does precisely the same.
I’ve reached the close now and do you know what? Fuck it, a second time. I will be scoring this behemoth after all. What was I thinking? I’m the Keeper of The Crimson Quill. Anybody who knows me will also be aware that I refuse to print anything whatsoever that doesn’t come straight from my soul cage. I believe that, after cleaning up on VoD, a DVD release beckons for The Orphan Killer: Bound X Blood and it downright deserves such. With a little additional trimming, an extra mark could well be added to the overall score. This version is for the Grueheads, those who have bought into TOK from the very start, and I believe a second cut will be provided for those fresh to the franchise. You’re damn skippy, I said franchise. Two down, who knows how many more to come? I would say it is about time we make a little noise don’t you?
Crimson Quill’s Judgement: 8/10
Grue Factor: 5/5
For the Grue-Guzzlers & Pelt-Nuzzlers: Buckle yourselves in Grueheads as The Big Dipper ain’t got shit balls on Bound X Blood. Grimy hacksaw decapitation, utter evisceration, facial steam punking, head bolting, kidney ripping, back whipping, entrail skipping, axe wielding, haymaker yielding, throat poking, back stabbing, front stabbing, cruel blood injecting, weak-willed infecting, liver dissecting, member erecting, choke holding, flesh ripping, boulder dashing, jugular slashing, rare steak cooking, wrist burning, windpipe spurning. I think that pretty much covers things. Pelt-Nuzzlers, you know who you are, just as I know who I am. We want to see some titties right? Right? Don’t hold out on me Grueheads. Mr. Skin is not just the guy who lives down the way with excess foreskin. For those of you who wear the hat of shame that I’m wearing right now shamelessly, the first five minutes should tickle those fickle pickles. Is it just me or do Foster’s nectarinal buttocks speckled with soapy water do enough to warrant a credit each?
Keeper of the Crimson Quill
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Copyright: Crimson Quill: Savage Vault Enterprises 2015