THE EDITOR Review | TIFF 2014

     September 12, 2014

the editor review

The sweet Manitoba chaps behind Astron-6 have been cranking out homemade tongue-in-cheek trash epics like Father’s Day and Manborg for a while now, but nothing they’ve done thus far will prepare you for The Editor.  Granted, it’s a movie that is about as inside baseball as it gets. If you don’t even know what the word giallo is referring to, you’ll still laugh because these guys are almost too funny for their own good. However, if you’re someone who savors the same Italian horror flicks as co-directors Adam Brooks and Matthew Kennedy clearly do, then The Editor will knock you on your ass with its perfect reaction of the gorgeous visuals and indeliberate comedy that defines the genre.  Hit the jump for my The Editor review.

For those who don’t know, Astron-6 is a filmmaking collective from the wilds of Manitoba, Canada. It’s a collection of likeminded B-movie loving folks have been recreating their favorite genre films in hilariously self-conscious movies pitched somewhere between homage and parody. Father’s Day was released through Troma, which should give you a good idea of its tone, while the title for Manborg is a good indication of what to expect there. As for their latest film The Editor? They’ve taken on the giallo genre and by association a certain era of the Italian horror industry. It started with the master Mario Bava with films like Blood And Black Lace, matured through the likes of Dario Argento in movies like Deep Red, and eventually reached a level of accidentally hysterical self parody like Pieces or StageFright. Essentially the films were whodunit thrillers with black-gloved killers and groundbreaking gory set piece. As was the way in the Italian film industry of the time, the dubbing was bad and the acting often worse, while the cinematography, score, and effects were mesmerizing. They were cult films at the time and remain that way for the horror obsessives.

the editor review

Trying to recreate the giallo experience for contemporary audiences is nothing wildly new. The most famous example is probably Berberian Sound Studio, a surreal psychological thriller set in the 70s Italian film industry and shot in that style. It’s a wonderful movie, but misses a certain element of the giallo experience that The Editor co-directors Adam Brooks and Matthew Kennedy get right. While the greatest giallos were so beautifully crafted that they made an indelible mark on the horror genre (John Carpenter and the slasher genre might not exist without them), they were always deeply flawed. The plots were complex, but nonsensical and the dubbing distracting. Critics have reclaimed it as a form of surrealism, yet that’s not really accurate. The fact is, part of what made these movies cult hits in the grindhouses and on VHS is that they offered a bizarre mix of brilliant style and horrible trash, mixing together into a damn fine bit of entertainment.

The Editor nails that tone through parody to tell the tale of a series of murders on a film set with an editor prime suspect and vaguely supernatural implications (the convoluted nature of the story is again part of the homage). The set designs and costumes are pure 70s kitsch. The gore effects are nauseating in a splatstick comedy way. The acting is deliberately wooden and overdubbed, the dialogue hysterically stilted. Yet, the style of the film is remarkable, a huge step up for Astron-6 without losing their deliberately low-fi cheesey aesthetic. It’s a brilliant constructed low budget movie pitched to parody and one that works beautifully. It fits into the post-Grindhouse parody school where the film’s style is part of the joke (Black Dynamite, MacGruber, etc.) and these guys nail the giallo. Cameos from the likes of Paz de le Heurta, Laurence Harvey (Human Centipede 2), and Udo Kier (a actually giallo veteran with a role in the masterpiece Suspiria) lend genre cred and also fit into the homage given the original giallos always smfgled in a few underpaid genre stars. The duo even get self conscious criticize the genre’s misogyny. For fans of giallo flicks, the movie is a laugh riot that nails something beloved.

the editor 2

How it will play for audiences who don’t understand the source is a reasonable question. Sure you won’t get the specific references to Fulci or Hitchhike, but just understanding the grammer of bad movies should be enough to get what they are doing. Regardless, the flick already feels like the best thing that Astron-6 has ever made and one so legitimately well made that it can hopefully help raise the group’s profile and earn them some new fans. If nothing else, the movie should be a wild hit in Italy because it’s easily the best giallo anyone has made in decades, even if it is a parody.

Grade B

THE EDITOR Review Astron-6

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