Latest in Horror Entertainment
in this issue: 8 pages of reviews, covering Books including the latest Dark Terrors anthology Video and DVD / Laserdiscs including re-issues in disc formats for two Omen films, The Howling and The Asphyx, full-length for once Film: The Exorcist re-appraised TV: three episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer unseen to date in the UK!
Cube Director: Vincenzo Natali
Stars: Nicole De Boer, Maurice Dean Wint, David Hewlett
UK Release: September 26th 1998 Duration: 92 mins
If Hollywood doesnt learn a lesson from Cube, the fascinating independent film from Canada, then its a crying shame. Cube was made for a sum so infinitesimally small that is probably only a fraction of most films catering budgets, and yet it manages to be more compelling, more interesting and more watchable than any, repeat any of this Summers overblown, overhyped, overproduced blockbusters. Why? Because it concentrates on characters. It engages the emotions. It is at once perfectly simple and fiendishly complex. It blends elements of Twilight Zone mystery with references to German expressionist film-making as well as offering up genuine shocks worthy of David Cronenberg or George Romero. No wonder the film has been lauded everywhere it has been shown.
What is the plot then? Six people are lost inside a devilish maze of lethally booby-trapped, interconnecting cubes. The prisoners do not know each other, and have no memory of how or why they are here. Gradually, they learn about each other, and their respective roles a cop, a psychologist, an architect, a brilliant student, a thief and an idiot. Gradually they learn the key to the puzzle, but it comes at a price. And even if the prisoners do solve the trap, can they ever escape?
Wunderkind American director Vincent Natali manages near miracles on his shoestring budget. Never at any point was I aware that there was only one set. Yes, all the rooms look identical, but there is so much action, such a driving narrative and so many shifts of perspective that the reality of the trap is never in doubt...
On the minus side (but nowhere near enough to spoil the film) the characters are occasionally hampered with some cumbersome dialogue, especially Nicole DeBoers bookish maths student (who has, with a straight face, to say something on the lines of Of course, gamma equals x times the square root of y! How could I be so stupid?) Nevertheless, DeBoer manages this complicated part with some style, (and hopefully she will receive the wider recognition she deserves as the new incarnation of Dax in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)...
We can only hope that Cube is not a one-off blip in Horror film-making, and that other producers will be inclined to follow suit and produce such stylish product on limited resources. I am sure that the budgetary limitations actually heighten the creative abilities. This is film-making on the edge, exactly what auteurs like Cronenberg and Romero were doing. Examine the results, readers. Cube is set to be the best Horror film of the year.
To make a film like this, though, you do need an exceptionally talented director. And he will of course go on to make more films, but what sort of films? It would be very nice for Vincenzo Natali to be offered a hundred million dollars and asked to make film in Hollywood with Sylvester Stallone or Arnie. The film would have a massive publicity budget, posters everywhere, spin-off merchandizing and a committee assessing the audiences reactions at every turn. But I just know that the end result wouldnt be a fraction as good as Cube.James Abery
Director Vincento Natali is also interviewed in this issue
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
2:19 I Only have Eyes for You [#5V19]
US TX: 4/28/98 - Sky One UK Première: TBC
Writer: Marti Noxon Director: James Whitmore Jr
Warning - spoilers for Passion (UK transmission still TBC)
A series of strange events makes Giles and the team wonder if the school has a poltergeist, and they suspect that it might perhaps be Jenny. Meanwhile, Buffy uncovers a 40-year old mystery which is having extremely serious consequences for the present day.
For the first half hour or so, I Only have Eyes for You seems to simply rehash old ideas, and certainly follows a familiar formula. The ending is so clever, though, and features such a compelling twist, that suddenly it seems like the rest of the episode was written to explain the finale (with Buffy and Angel forced to play poignantly out of character - Ed), rather than the other way round, which is usually the case. When all the pieces fall into place, you cant help feeling exhilarated and thrilled by the way that the events unfold. This is one of the rare instances in the series when there is any sense of the wheels of destiny at work: but how else could the cycle have been broken?
Half the credit for the success of the episode must go to writer Marti Noxon but there is also some beautiful direction by James Whitmore. The last scene, however, although a very welcome development, diffuses some of the tension, drags the episode back to the routine, and sets up the seasons finale story: Becoming.Rating: 4 out of 5
The mysterious Angel (Buffy's dangerous sometime vampire, sometime boyfriend) is also the focus of our cover feature in this issue