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Issue 52 Published April 1998
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Fantasm 98
The Mario Bava centrepiece season for the NFT Horror Fantasy celebration Fantasm 98 is coming together very well indeed and it seems like we'll have the most complete one in the world. It has been my greatest pleasure to pick out the programme from all the prints available and my rule of thumb has to been to acquire the fullest versions available, no matter in what language or ratio. I mean what's the point of showing a British version of Night is the Phantom, albeit in 35mm, if there's a French uncut print in 16mm? Right? Some very strange anomalies have been uncovered by our delve into Bava's past. For example, there are newly struck prints available in America of Dr Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs, but Shock and Five Dolls for an August Moon have vanished completely. So do let us know if you've heard of a print around for either of the latter. Quite how long the season will run is under discussion at the moment, but I promise this will be unmissable for all Bava/Italy/giallo/Horror lovers.

Cube
My favourite film of the moment is the Canadian SF Horror Cube from new director Vincenzo Natali. A definite Fantasm contender for this year, this cross between a classic Twilight Zone episode and a George Romero gore-fest has just the best opening death scene in ages: a man climbs into a square room and is diced into small pieces by a wire booby-trap. And that's only the beginning of Natali's weird exercise in surreal claustrophobia that finds six ordinary strangers trapped in a strange prison consisting of an endless maze of interlocking cubical chambers. Some contain lethal traps, others may lead to the way out. But to where exactly? And who put them there? Why are they there anyway? And if they don't die of starvation, who will survive the mental pressure? Brilliantly directed, Natali's riveting Cube was shot in less than a month on a single set constructed in a warehouse in Toronto.

Devil's Fresco

You might have read about the recent law-suit. Frederick Hart, a prominent Virginia-based sculptor, sued Warner Bros claiming his fresco masterpiece Ex Nihilo, which dominates the entrance to the National Cathedral in Washington, was used as a base to create a sacrilegious prop for the ending of Taylor Hackford's supernatural thriller The Devil's Advocate. The profane prop is a key element in the climax of the movie which takes place in John Milton's evil apartment. Milton is played by Al Pacino and turns out to be Satan himself. This is what has upset both Hart and the National Cathedral because the animated fresco "writhing erotically" is a backdrop to Satan encouraging his two children to commit incest and their work of pious art was specifically used to create a satanic atmosphere. Anyway, Warners lost the case and now find themselves in the position of having to cut out all reference to the fresco in sell-through video and television versions of the movie. As the fresco is seen for roughly twenty minutes, those cuts will be substantial. So unless you've already seen it, The Devil's Advocate will never be seen again in the form Hackford originally envisaged.

Bits and Pieces
Danny (Judge Dredd) Cannon is directing the sequel to I Know What You Did Last Summer... Elio Quiroja's Spanish gore atrocity Fotos - you know the garden-shears-penis-transvestite-killer-soap we saw at Sitges two years ago - is being picked up for international distribution by Troma. Doesn't that say it all?... Rainer Matsutani's Der Vulkanteufel is a macabre Horror thriller about a successful biker drawn into an evil cult while on holiday in Las Palmas...