October 10th, 2014

STIGMA (1980) * ½

Sebastian (Christian Borromeo) is a young man who suffers from bizarre visions and hallucinations that cause his lips to bleed. Every time he has one of these little fits, someone close to him dies. First his father kicks the bucket, then his girlfriend, and finally his older brother. The problem is; Sebastian WANTS them to die, even though he really can’t control his powers. His brother’s girlfriend Anna (Alexandra Bastedo) then accompanies him to a decaying mansion to help him discover the origins of the visions.

I had high hopes for Stigma (which should in no way be confused with the fun Phillip Michael Thomas thriller of the same name) since it was directed by Jose Ramon Larraz, the man who gave the world the finest lesbian vampire movie ever made, Vampyres. However, this is just one, long, dull bore. Despite flashes of Larraz’s trademark nudity (Bastedo is quite the looker, both in and out of costume), there are long periods where nothing very much happens, and the film moves at a snail’s pace to boot.

The hallucination sequences are well done and are the only saving grace in the entire picture. There is one good jump scare involving a bathroom mirror that is particularly clever, and it’s a shame that this kind of pizzazz is lacking elsewhere in the film. Other than that, the rest of the flick is a total snooze-fest, and the flashback-heavy third act feels like it belongs in an entirely different movie.

SALVAGE (2006) **

Claire (Lauren Currie Lewis) stupidly accepts a ride home from a total stranger named Duke (Chris Ferry) who hits on her and calls her a “cunt”. After Duke drops her off at her house, Claire thinks she’s home safely, but he breaks in and kills her. Luckily for her, it all turns out to be a dream. However, Claire slowly suspects that her dream may be a premonition of things to come.

Salvage is a low budget production filmed with a noticeably low-fi camera, which severely hurts the film’s chances of succeeding. Not to mention my eyes. Whenever the camera moves, the image has a tendency to blur, which gets really annoying about two minutes into the flick. Didn’t these guys ever hear of Auto-Focus?

Crummy cinematography aside, Salvage isn’t all bad. It’s mercifully short (79 minutes) and moves along at a decent enough pace. The gore isn’t too shabby either as there is a pretty cool eye gouging scene. The overreliance of dream and dream-within-a-dream sequences does get to be a bit much though, and the ending kinda sucks.

The reason the film works as well as it does is because of Lewis’ performance. She has a Leighton Meester Meets Kristen Stewart vibe to her and is quite appealing. Lewis hasn’t done much before or since Salvage, which is a shame because she proves that she can carry a less than stellar movie rather effortlessly.

AKA: Gruesome. AKA: Loop.

Tomorrow’s Bargain Bin Horror Movie: Zombie Dearest.