Only Lovers Left Alive

OnlyLovers

Eve (Tilda Swinton) and her lover Adam (Tom Hiddleston) are vampires. She reclines in Tangier while he hides himself away in a crumbling house in Detroit. She is an avid reader, capable of devouring entire books in a matter of minutes while music is his poison, both listening and creating.

Both have negotiated dignified ways of procuring the blood they need to survive. Eve gets hers from fellow vamp Christopher Marlowe (John Hurt) while Adam has struck a deal with a local doctor (Jeffrey Wright).

Their centuries of existence have been ones of art and culture and enjoyment of human creativity. They talk at length of the famous people they have known. Writers, actors, scientists. But into their world is coming a wild card, Eve’s sister Ava (Mia Wasikowska), who has not yet withdrawn from humanity and who still finds blood best served warm and fresh from a jugular…

Only Lovers Left Alive sees Jim Jarmusch at his most laconic and his most elegant. It is a film paced for its characters, luxurious and deliberate. Indeed, coupled with the near-total lack of plot for the first half of the piece, this feels like a misstep. It is more a character study than a story.

Without a doubt, this is a movie that loves its lead pairing. The camera spins around them, hovers over them and adores them. Hiddleston is all lean, tousled angst while Swinton is heroin-chic opaque. They are striking to look at and so is the set design.

We spend most our time at Adam’s abode, a cluttered mish-mash of electrical parts, antique musical instruments and peeling paint. Outside, Detroit is a deserted ruin, scorched yellow by streetlights with empty streets lined by shuttered and crumbling buildings.

The pair drive through the streets, mourning the city’s loss while promising its rebirth. They also occasionally pause to point out sights such as Jack White’s childhood home.

The mix makes for an odd film. There is so much time-jumping name-dropping and focus on the consumption of the arts that the question arises – is Jarmusch mocking his characters or glorifying them?

The pair themselves are hyper-cool to the point of cartoonish. They watch bands in a club while wearing sunglasses. They dance and listen to music and are rarely anything above relaxed. Are these the trendy types, doomed to only care about themselves, the superficial and brushes with fame as the world crumbles around them? Until only lovers are left alive?

EXTRAS:

There are lengthy interviews with Swinton, Hiddleston and (somewhat shorter) Wasikowska as each discusses the film, their character and how they became involved as actors. In addition, there are the usual array of deleted (and extended) scenes.

The main extra, though, is a 50-minute behind-the-scenes piece. What makes it interesting is that it is not the usual ‘talking heads’ approach. Instead, it is a fly-on-the-wall look at the shooting of various key scenes. We see scenes being rehearsed and rewritten the night before shooting, blocking being figured out on the spot and continuity concerns.

Perhaps the most striking aspect is how calm and even Jarmusch and his two leads are throughout. It appears that Jarmusch establishes the same tone for work on the set as will happen in the scenes, to make it easier for his actors to drop into the moment as required.

Only Lovers Left Alive is available on DVD and Blu-Ray from Madman Entertainment.

Matthew Gunnoe Interview

ThepitCrimson Celluloid: For the uninitiated what can you tell us about The Pit?

Matthew Gunnoe: The Pit is about three vacationing hot chicks that become lost in the Florida swamplands. In doing so, they become captured by a family of insane meth-runners and a government agency that wishes to conduct experiments on them with an alien that crash landed in their swamp.

Crimson Celluloid: What was the most challenging part of working on a horror film with such a low budget? What is the budget you are working with?

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Legacy of Thorn

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The seemingly-unkillable slasher is virtually the default horror icon of modern times. The hulking, slow-walking masked menace cutting a swathe through teenagers has been a standby of the genre ever since Michael Myers first stepped out in Autumn in Haddonfield. These figures, like Freddy and Jason, are the poster boys for horror and the memorable ones arrive with their own mythos.

The eponymous killer in Legacy of Thorn is one such figure.

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Manson Family Movies

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In the summer of ‘69 members of Charlie Manson’s “family” stole an NBC-TV truck loaded with film equipment. Later on the truck was dumped and the majority of its contents given away, but Charlie kept one of the cameras. The Family also allegedly owned three Super-8 cameras which they used to produce amateur porn films. Based on this information and an interview with a one-time member of The Family which (rather vaguely) supports this, Ed Sanders speculates in his book The Family, that Charlie and his followers may have filmed their crimes and/or been involved in the production of “snuff films”. This was the first recorded use of the term snuff.

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The Station

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A remote frozen station of scientists discover something in the ice that first strikes their resident dog before then preying on them in all its twisted, unnatural forms.

Yeah, John Carpenter’s The Thing is great movie. And apparently the makers of Austrian horror The Station thought so, too, because that is also the premise of their movie. Unfortunately, where The Thing is indisputably a modern classic, The Station…is not.

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Everyone Must Die

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Without having done extensive research online I’d wager that I wouldn’t be the first to follow the title of this film with the words “starting with the people who made this film!”.

Like I’ve said on previous occasions, if only films could be reviewed on the basis on the enthusiasm of the filmmakers rather than the final product, it’d mean a lot of happier filmmakers out there. However this is another entry in the “low-budget hell” category that, more often than not, seems to feature films that were obviously a lot more fun to MAKE than they were to WATCH.

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Pop Skull

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For Daniel (Lane Hughes) life is at a crossroads. His existence in blue collar Alabama suffered a huge body blow when he was dumped by his girlfriend Natalie (Maggie Henry). While she is off with her new actor boyfriend, Daniel seeks solace in over-the-counter drugs and pills.

Unfortunately for Daniel, the self-medication backfires. Despite the clumsy but well-meaning intentions of his redneck best friend, the chemicals only accelerate Daniel’s descent into darkness and loosen his grip on reality. To top it all he begins seeing ghosts and figures who may be a figment of his broken mind…or they might just be real.

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Caesar & Otto’s Deadly Xmas

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A low budget entry into the comedy horror stakes, this is part of a continuing series of flicks starring Caesar and Otto, all of which take a stab at the horror genre but with genuine love and understanding. With Deadly Xmas they’ve dragged in (or dusted off) Linnea Quigley, Brinke Stevens, Felissa Rose, Joe Estevez, Robert D’zar, even Lloyd Kaufman and given us a new twist on the old killer santa story.

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Sean Weathers Presents: Vault Of Terror

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Sean Weathers is a New York film maker, raconteur and podcast presenter with balls the size of grapefruits. I mean, he’s ‘presenting’ this collection, he directs and stars in one short film, he, along with cohort Aswad Issa, introduce two other classic b-grade films and he ‘stars’ in the final 4 minute short. That takes balls. And then he names his short film Maniac Too! I’m telling you he knows how to promote.

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Sanguivorous

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Billed as the first Japanese avant-garde, vampire silent film, Sanguivorous, directed by Naoki Yoshimoto, is a dark, disturbing film based on the premise of a young girl (Ayumi Kakizawa) unknowingly descended from a lineage of vampires whose own vampiristic tendencies emerge with the onset of a 2000 year old curse. Unfortunately it is her boyfriend who becomes the target of her new-found appetite and the subsequent blood-spurting and -sucking violence sees the film enter into depraved territory.

Being labeled as an avant-garde movie you would hardly expect a straightforward story and indeed Sangivorous is difficult to understand, especially considering the lack of dialogue in it, bar a few captioned sequences. Its appeal lies instead in being more of an aural and visual experience, making up for in aesthetic what it lacks in narrative. Images of twisted forms writhing in dark, abyssal spaces and eerie trips through forests are what leaves a lasting impression on the viewer rather than any coherent storyline. The music as you would expect befits such an experience with a soundtrack made of unsettling, ambient music punctuated by demonic howls and screams.

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