Grimm Up North Monthly Double Feature
Written by Charlotte Stear
Last week saw the first of a new monthly event from the guys at Grimm Up North in Manchester, a double feature of horror, which after this first venture looks like it has a promising start.
The monthly screenings are held in the Dancehouse on Oxford Road in Manchester, a particularly good venue to screen these films as there is a charm to the theatre inside that adds to that feeling of excitement when settling down to a night of classics. I’d take this over a jam packed, soulless multiplex any day.
They kicked off the double features this month with Dario Argento’s lost film Four Flies on Grey Velvet and Dellamorte Dellamore, two films that when watched together, complement each other so well it made for an incredibly enjoyable evening. Having not seen either of these films it was particularly excellent that the first time I saw them was on the big screen. Both films are insane in their own ways, and how people react to them is going to really split opinion.
First up was Four Flies. The main thing I took away from this movie was how intentionally and at times, unintentionally, hilarious it was. Along with this it is also bat-shit crazy, and I loved it. The story follows Roberto (Michael Brandon) who is stalked by someone blackmailing him for an accidental murder he committed. The stalker begins to murder people that are close to Roberto and his life begins to spiral out of control as he realises he cannot trust anyone. This is a film that is way ahead of its time in terms of style, humour and characterisation. One of the best bits is the incredibly gay private detective, not only for lines like, “Oh you heterosexuals!” but the very way his character is represented. He’s very camp and stereotypical, but we are drawn, and incredibly endeared to him. Being from an era when it wasn’t as socially acceptable to have an openly gay character that we’d feel sympathy for, it was a great addition to the story. There is obvious humour derived purely from him being gay, but what was an interesting afterthought was how in the 40 years since this film has been made, this is exactly the same portrayal we’ll get of a gay man now but done for cheap laughs, which doesn’t seem like much of a progression. But moving on from that aspect, this is one hell of a bizarro movie. Things are not at all what they seem and it has a habit of keeping you guessing, just when you think you’ve got it figured out it hits you with something else. I thought I was going to be annoyed with it, that it was just going to be weird for the sake of it, but as it progressed the style and the characters made up for the ambiguity. This version had added footage which was in Italian, and when you’ve had an entire film dubbed which is then interspersed with subtitled Italian parts, it really just adds to the madness and abruptness of the film. It made for some great moments in the theatre as people laughed in amazement as the film progressed. I’m glad this was the one they opened with.
Next up was Dellamorte Dellamore (Cemetery Man) starring Rupert Everett. The film is based on the novel by Tiziano Sclavi who is the author of the Dylan Dog comic series and this film promised to have many similar themes to that particular series. Being quite possibly the only person in the world who thoroughly enjoyed the American movie of Dylan Dog starring Brandon Routh I was very eager to see this. Rupert’s character Francesco Dellamorte is a caretaker at a Cemetery in Italy where he keeps guard of the dead because, after two weeks, they tend to come back to life. He is constantly tortured by both the living and the dead, and when he falls for a widower mourning at the cemetery he begins to see outside the cemetery gates.
I loved the scenery that plays out behind the action in this movie, the little world that Francesco lives in is haunting and the cemetery home he dwells in is really captivating. Director Michele Soavi has managed to capture a real gothic beauty here.
Much like Four Flies, Dellamorte Dellamore is also just ridiculous in every aspect, nothing makes much sense and you just have to go along with the ride. At first I wasn’t sure whether Rupert Everett would suit the lead in a film like this, he is more known now for his camp, best friend role, but here he is actually rather perfect for it. He has the look of a guy living and working along with the dead; tall, skinny and gaunt, there are moments when the camera pans up to his pale, downcast face where you could almost believe this man is one of the dead too. This is a film to divide opinion, but there are some excellent scenes of cheesy gore, great twists and above all else, unbelievable humour. It’s a rare little treat that if you haven’t seen, you must watch immediately and set your faces to, “what the hell?”
Argento’s Four Flies on Grey Velvet is now available on DVD and Blu Ray almost 20 years after it disappeared from the public eye via Shameless Screen Entertainment. Dellamorte Dellamore is set for a DVD through Shameless Screen Entertainment on February 27th.
After this first night of double features one thing is clear, Grimm Up North have proven they know how to pair together films to get the best out of an evening. Both movies went well together and really got the crowd going. There wasn’t a bad turnout to the first night, but I’d really like to see it grow in attendance because this could be a very cool gathering of like-minded people to make your midweeks go that bit quicker.
If you fancy checking out any of Grimm Up North’s double features keep a check on their website here. Their next installment will be on February 17th and they will be showing Shogun Assassin and Baby Cart to Hades. To book tickets visit their page here.