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House Of The Flesh Mannequins

WREN   (34 reviews)

Posted: 05/23/2012 | Comments: 5 | Rate:

Actors: Domiziano Arcangeli, Irena A. Hoffman, and Giovanni Lombardo Radice

Synopsis: A voyeuristic look into the mind of a loner photographer and a life filled of bizarre fetishes and torture.

Over the course of time I have figured out that if you find yourself saying “What the hell did I just watch?” at the end of a film, you probably just wasted your time. The last two times I caught myself asking that question was with Lars Von Trier’s super pretentious Antichrist and the ever infamous A Serbian Film. In both cases, I am still waiting for that refund of both time and money that I exhausted. It’s been nearly 2 years since my viewing of A Serbian Film and I’ve once again have stumbled upon a film that took a lot of effort to muscle through and left me utterly clueless at the end. Domiziano Cristopharo’s 2009 effort House Of The Flesh Mannequins has proved to be my latest test of both physical and mental endurance.

House Of The Flesh Mannequins follows Sebastian; a loner photographer. He spends most of his days photographing or filming child pornography and watching bizarre home videos with jarring images. Over the course of the film it’s revealed that Sebastian’s odd behavior can be attributed to the fact that his psychologist father spent years experimenting on Sebastian with sleep depravity and situations that tested the taboos of a father-son relationship with incredibly inappropriate behavior. A tenant, whom which Sebastian is fond of, gains interest in Sebastian’s past and begins to fall for him. Sprinkle in a few trips to a local fetish shop and you have the main components of the story.

Judging from the cover and some quick, non-spoiling reviews, I was able to formulate the opinion that I was about to jump into an Italian horror flick that was going to be full of bizarre imagery with tons of nods to Fulci and Argento. In many ways, I was right. Part of the allure to Italian horror cinema was the ability to blend in terrifying avant-garde artistry. Greats like the previously mentioned Fulci and Argento perfected the art of not over doing it and only letting their inner artist come out when needed. Where they succeeded, Cristopharo failed. It almost immediately becomes clear that the mixture isn’t balanced correctly and the art quickly starts to center stage almost never returning to give enough focus on the story. The over use of bizarre snuff footage and trips to a fetish shop where the participants engage in anything from your standard fetish into something more supernatural, the film completely loses all grip on itself and unwinds even faster. Lastly the overuse of straight pornography scenes kind of steals any credibility the film might have had. Some reviewers are saying that it was only sprinkled in and wasn’t overtaking, I beg to differ. I liken it to the Brown Bunny and how most people that watched that horrible excuse for a film only did so they could get to the blowjob scene. Even the box of this film makes it quite clear that they are trying to capitalize on an audience that just wants to see blood, guts, and poorly put together unsimulated sex scenes. Heck, I’ll openly admit seeing basically those words advertised on the box got me hook, line, and sinker.

When the film finally wrapped up, I felt like I had run a marathon. The film is confusing and rather than being the horror film it set out to be, I feel like it was best meant for the art-house crowd…which I am definitely not apart of. This is one that horror fans should avoid because it’s one of those films you’ll overhear your local hipsters talking about at the nearest coffee house. They’ll be saying how deep and griping the film was with its artistic expression but you’ll quickly be able to come to the conclusion that whatever they are talking about, they are full of shit.

que te follen
20,134 Posts
Thank you for helping me cross this one off my list.

I'd love to hear your review of Eraserhead.
Pulp Free
52,194 Posts
I like Eraserhead. It's one of the few Lynch films I do like.
Vodka Party
17,778 Posts
I'm going to write an art house flick that will probably steal the show at Cannes. It will be a biography of Nipsey Russell set in an alternate reality where he is actually an undercover agent for America's shadow government known only as F.O.R.M. (yes, it's an acronym, but you never find out what for because that's art you fucking idiots). The movie culminates when Nipsey inexplicably stands up and pisses on the heads of Betty White and Richard Dawson as they unrobe and make out on the set of the $25,000 Pyramid. Roll credits. Eat your heart out, Lars Von Queer. You can take your acorn rain and fuck your own ass with it. I'm a genius.
I have no legs!
2 Posts
I do not agree, i apologize: i am actually not apologetic at all: and Yodel Toast should get to watch a movie for herself instead of letting decide by others, but most importantly, thank God, for art films and for those who at least try to make movies like this one, to test new waters, explore new dynamics, better,innovative,daring filmmaking! What: you guys want films made for the masses,the usual, vulgar formula? You don't think you get enough of those,already? No, you must also critique who tries to broaden the horizons, a little, to have the guts to try something that wants to be different and to tell with a diverse angle a complicated yet fascinating, erotic plot!
Do not believe what he said, i would have thought this review had some integrity until a certain point, but even mocking the hipsters of the local coffee house, is just in bad taste: and who would they be? Not certainly people who'd know about an intense movie like this, but, maybe, those actually who love the same films you probably adore, as well!
Culture is the designated mourner (somebody named Harold Pinter said this..) and it is sadly true: but i ask to anyone who likes something new,unsettling, haunting and stylish to watch this film and enjoy its experience!
Great performances,stylized atmospheres,and cinematography makes of this a real little Cult!
Pulp Free
52,194 Posts
Was my insult on the "hipsters at the local coffee shop" a cheap shot? sure it was. But like I said in my review of Von Tier's Antichrist, there is a point where if you let the "art" take over too much you are going to lose most of the audience and if your mission is to only please an audience that thinks they "get" your vision, then you are going to come off pretentious.

To answer your question, No I don't want just another vulgar film. I appreciate when people take chances. If you took a second to read, I gave credit to Fulci and Argento, who obviously inspired the director of this film. While I'm not necessarily the biggest fan of Suspiria, it definitely sets the bar as how to blend in just enough artistic expression as to not ruin the credibility of the film. Fulci absolutely nailed it too with The Beyond. Cristopharo had a good idea but took the film in so many odd directions that you almost forget what is going on. I felt like a good amount of the scenes weren't meant to enhance the story but more just to be eye candy. Much like the cheap gore of all the Saw clones of recent years.

The only credit i'll give the film in terms of cinemtography, and maybe I cheated the review by not mentioning this, is the fact that alot of the film plays out like the audience is watching a play in a theater. Other than that, there isn't anything truly inspirational about any aspect of it.

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