With Halloween right around the corner, a boxset of horror films from around the world is a treat you can give yourself, right? Palisades Tartan recently released Terror Pack, containing Sheitan, Carved and Slaughter Night on DVD and I gave it a try.
Directed by Koji Shiraishi
Starring Haruhiko Kato, Rie Kuwana, Eriko Sato
Since there are three movies in this boxset, I will review them one at a time. First up, Carved from Japan and directed by Koji Shiraishi.
In Japan, there is a well known story that has been passed down from generation to generation. The Slit Mouthed Woman used to be beautiful wife of a skilled samurai. Due to her rage, she slashed her own face and endlessly wandered the countryside asking travelers “Am I beautiful?”
The folk tale has been updated in the 2007 film Carved. As the film opens, three boys are waiting in the park for the slit mouthed woman to appear after being told the gruesome tale. Suddenly, the earth begins to shake and she appears and takes one of the boys with her. Flash forward and we now follow the story of schoolteacher Kyoko Yamashita (Eriko Sato). Recently separated from her husband and accused of child abuse, she is terribly alone and wracked with guilt. She finds herself bonding with a student named Mika (Rie Kuwana). But it isn’t long before the Slit Mouthed Woman strikes again and Mika is taken right before Kyoko’s eyes.
Kyoko joins forces with another teacher and together, they are determined to discover the origin of the slit mouthed woman and how to put an end to her reign of terror. But, are they strong and smart enough for the challenge?
Carved, smartly deviating from the worn-out “ghostly girl with long black hair”, brings a breath of fresh air to the genre of supernatural films from Japan. While the characters spend the bulk of the plot investigating supernatural occurrences, which is expected in this genre of films, the origin of the ghost is interesting as is the appearance of the ghost. The performances are solid and the imagery is nicely eerie, Carved turns out to be a great way to spend an evening.
Directed by Kim Chapiron
Starring Vincent Cassell, Nico Le Phat Tan, Oliver Bartelemy, Leila Bekthi
Next up, a grisly little film from France called Sheitan.
Thai (Nico Le Phat Tan), Ladj (Ladj Liy) and Bart (Oliver Bartelemy) are out celebrating Christmas Eve in a nightclub. They meet Yasmine (Leila Bekthi) and Eve (Roxane Mesquida). They all decide to continue to the party at Eve’s childhood home in the French countryside.
As they group arrive at the farm, they are introduced by Eve to the caretaker Joseph (Vincent Cassel). Joseph is a guy that would give most people cause for concern: he has a crazy smile, yellowed teeth and a strange walk. And, I can’t even describe to you the weird décor the house features. But, the guys seem more interested in trying to get the girls in bed so they seemingly miss the alarms that should be going off inside their head about the odd Joseph.
Joseph seems to be excited for the company and it isn’t long before he is taking the group out to meet some of his friends and family. But, it isn’t long before things that a terrifying turn for the perverse and strange as Joseph shows everyone his true colors.
If you aren’t familiar with Vincent Cassel’s work from films such as Eastern Promises, Irreversible, Brotherhood of the Wolf or Ocean’s Twelve, you are going to discover a fascinating talent here. Cassell is a charismatic actor that works without boundaries and he lights up the screen whatever film he appears in and does a great job with the character Joseph.
Sheitan is a wonderful little nugget of strangeness and horror and is a great inclusion in this boxset.
Directed by Frank van Geloven, Edwin Visser
Starring Robert Eleveld, Victoria Koblenko, Martijn Oversteegen
Slaughter Night is a film from Denmark and directed by Frank van Geloven and Edwin Visser.
As the film begins, we learn that Danish prisoners in the 1800’s were used to release deadly gases from underground minds. If the prisoner lived, he would be set free. One particularly nasty individual was Andreis Martiens (Robert Eleveld). Andreis was a child killer who would use children as a sacrifice in a strange voodoo ritual in order to gain entrance to hell.
Flash forward to the present day. Kristel (Victoria Koblenko) is being driven home from a night of partying by her father (Martijn Oversteengen). Suddenly, they are involved in a horrible accident and her father is killed. Kristel soon discovers that her father was writing a book about Martiens and the mines where prisoners were killed.
After this shocking discovery, Kristel has an idea. She is going to take her friends and go down the mines and see if what her father was pursing was true with the help of a Ouija board. Of course, you know that there is going to be some sort of accident that is going to trap them in the mine and they are going to come face to face with ol’ Andreis.
While there are some good scary moments, overall this is a “paint by numbers” affair that doesn’t really bring anything new to the genre, which is a shame. This is the weakest of the three films offered in the boxset.
While Sheitan and Carved are enjoyable, Slaughter Night is the blandest of the films offered in this box set, but even it has a few good moments. But, for the price, you can’t go wrong. And this would be the perfect thing to crack open at the Halloween party you are planning for the weekend.
Sheitan is offered widescreen, Carved is presented in anamorphic widescreen and Slaughter Night is presented in anamorphic widescreen. Overall, all the films have a great transfer free of instances of grain or artifacts.
Sheitan, Carved and Slaughter Night are all presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1 and 2.0 Stereo. The dialogue is crystal clear on all three films and mixed well with sound effects and sound track.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The three films are presented in standard amaray cases enclosed in a cardboard slip case.
Bonus feature included on Sheitan are a making of featurette and original theatrical trailer. Carved bonus features include The Making Of Carved, Cast Interviews and Theatrical Trailer. Finally, Slaughter Night offers up a Making of featurette, Outtake Reel, Theatrical Trailer and Trailers for other Palisades Tartan releases.
Overall (Not an Average) 7/10
The Movies 7/10
The Video 7/10
The Audio 6.5/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 6.5/10
Overall (not an average) 7/10