Friday, August 8, 2008

Il Bosco Fuori AKA The Last House In The Woods (2006)

The Italians are back. Dream-like camera angles, fairy tale plotlines, and extreme gore all combine into a modern Italian horror film that is a return to the classic style of the 60s, 70s, and 80s. While not exactly a modern masterpiece, Il Bosco Fuori is definitely better than almost any horror to come out of Italy in well over a decade. Since the early 1990s Italian horror has become a thing of the past, with few films of any real significance being made.
Il Bosco Fuori literally translated means “the woods outside,” or “outside in the woods,” as the subtitles read in the opening credits, and is being released on DVD in the United States as The Last House in the Woods. It has also been released in some countries as Italian Chainsaw. It is certainly a throwback to the glory days of exploitation cinema with weird colored lighting, fast zoom-in shots, and extreme gore.
Like most of the classic Italian gore films of that era it does its share of borrowing from more popular horror films. One of the final shots of the film is of the bloody heroine running down the highway, reminiscent of the final scene in Texas Chainsaw Massacre. And the musical score was a reworked version of an American movie soundtrack, but which one I cannot seem to put my finger on at the moment. Maybe I’m just imagining things.
The plot, not that it matters in Italian horror, resembles Texas Chainsaw Massacre. A young couple run into some would-be rapists, but are rescued by an older couple. But the pleasant older couple is host to a house of horrors deep in the woods. Chaos ensues, there are some nauseating gore sequences, creepy little kids, shootings, stabbings, and chainsawings. It’s pretty low budget, but quite entertaining and well paced.
Let me say that it is a wonderful relief to see Italians making gory horror films again. I suppose they realized they could do it again since so many French horror films have been big hits recently. Frontieres, High Tension (aka Switchblade Romance), Them (aka Ils), and Inside (aka l’Interieur) have become incredibly popular in the US. Italian gore guru Gianetto De Rossi, former make up effects artist for Lucio Fulci’s classics like Zombie, The Beyond, etc. actually worked on High Tension.
Sergio Stivaletti the other biggest Italian gore guy, having done the effects for almost all of Dario Argento’s movies, including his latest, The Mother of Tears (aka La Terza Madre). He offers a shining display of the red stuff in this one, the old school way without any stupid looking computer generated effects.
Director Gabriele Albanesi is a new director, with only three short films to his credit prior to this full-length feature. This film is not extraordinary, but it is such a welcome return to the Italian subgenre we all know and love, more so than Dario Argento’s latest releases, which I thought were quite watered down style-wise. It’s been as if the Italians stopped wanting to make Italian style B-movies and try to tone themselves down for the American market. What they didn’t realize was that their style was unique and in a class of it’s own, and by self-censoring they simply self-destructed. Argento’s Mother of Tears was good, and also quite explicit, but was only about one percent as good as it could have been. Argento has actually expressed interest in making another movie tying in with Suspiria and Inferno, possibly a prequel. While it will never be considered a milestone, Il Bosco Fuori could be another step in the right direction towards a new era of European horror success.
UPDATE: The Last House In The Woods has been released on DVD in North America in October as part of the Ghosthouse horror DVD series by Lionsgate. The DVD includes an optional dubbed English language audio track, original Italian language with subtitles, and a director's commentary track.

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