The Song of Solomon (2017)
After setting in motion a series of events that fucks up her father’s life six, six, six ways to Sunday, Mary (Jessica Cameron) becomes a full-on conduit for demonic possession. Enter members of the Catholic church who are called in to save Mary’s innocent sole from that heathen hell raiser inside of her, which they attempt to do via an exorcism that ends very badly (and bloody). As fate would have it, the holy church, or a rather a secret sect of it, sen those men to die so plans enacted to ensure the birth of the Anti-Christ, who must rule for seven years before Jesus can be reborn. This isn’t going to end well…
The Song of Solomon is an interesting take on the well-tread demonic possession sub-genre of our beloved horror biz. The secret religious societies, ancient prophecies, holy relics, and mythology discussed make this smaller scale fright flick open up and offer some impressive wicked world building! Another strength of the film is it’s gloriously gory (and very plentiful) practical effects (trust me gore hounds, this is the flick you have been waiting for and features things you will not believe), and some excellent make-up work as well (not to mention the totally rad contacts Cameron wears when she’s doin’ the Devil’s deeds). But the biggest strength of the film is the tour de force performance by Cameron who goes above and beyond to scare our Satanic socks off!
On the negative side, some of the acting seems stilted, as if dialog is being ad-libbed on the spot. For some this may prove as a distraction, but I dug the “real life” feel it gave the proceedings.
As batshit crazy, and worth your attention as The Song of Solomon is, the extras on this Blu-ray are not too shabby either! First up we get two audio commentaries (one featuring writer/director Stephen Biro and Cameron, and the other featuring Biro and special effects artist Marcus Koch and make-up artist Jerami Cruise); both are energetic conversations that detail how this blood and guts monsterpiece was created! Following that we get a behind-the-scenes featurette, outtakes, a photo gallery, and interviews with Cameron, Biro, Koch, and Director of Photography Chris Hilleke.
If you prefer your possession pictures to be absolutely stomach churning and completely out of control then you need to put your putrid peepers on The Song of Solomon immediately!
In what may be the longest titled release I have ever laid my eerie eyeballs on, we get two low-rent shockers from drive-in maestro S.F. Brownrigg for the price of one! Let’s kick out the mother fuckin’ jams with:
Don’t Look in the Basement: Attractive young Nurse Charlotte Beale (Rosie Holotik) arrives at a rural asylum that truly puts the “loony” in lunatic where she is immediately met with static from the new administrator (the old who actually hired her was murdered in cold blood by a patient that afternoon) Dr. Geraldine Masters (Anne MacAdams). Our comely heroine soon learns that the patients sort of run the asylum so to speak as they can roam the halls as they please (the facility features no locks on the doors…seems like something the Mental Health Board would approve of since only a scant few folks have been hacked to death with an ax and all). Of course things go from “the patients sort of run” to “the patients definitely F’n run” as the bodies keep piling up and at least one of the folks in the asylum is not who they appear to be!
Sleazy, surreal, occasionally off-putting; Don’t Look in the Basement is pure exploitation gold! The rock solid setting of the isolated “asylum”; in itself nothing more than a large run down farm house is dreary and dripping with shadows and atmosphere, and the lunatics themselves are played to hammy perfection by their respective actors (with William Bill McGhee’s childlike Sam being the real standout). Additionally, Holotik makes for a sympathetic protagonist, and her plight inspires some real edge of your seat material, especially when standing up to ol’ Masters. Finally, the incidental music in this film sounds like the music that plays when Snoopy wanders the French countryside in It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, so there’s that for ya.
On the negative side, and because we live in the ultra-offended world of the future, some may cringe at the depiction of the mentally ill in this film…but seriously, this is a make a quick buck, exploitation flick from forty five years ago not a Geraldo expose (half my audience just went “Huh?”).
Bottom line, Don’t Look in the Basement is a fun as hell fright flick with all of the reasons you love Drive-In/Grindhouse cinema front and center; in other words it’s trashy, it’s ham-fisted, and it’s oh-so-delightfully wrong!
Don’t Open The Door: Amanda Post (Susan Bracken), the world’s fastest packer, is summoned to her hometown to check up on her ailing grandmother. Long estranged, Mandy-baby blows into town, confronts the local vultures that seem very interested in her dying nana, and takes up residence in her relative’s Gothic mansion. Soon our plucky heroine is besieged by obscene phone calls, and memories of murders past (namely her mother’s) as eyes watch her from within the mansion’s walls…and then the killing starts! Will Amanda survive and keep her family’s legacy alive?
As with Don’t Look in the Basement this is a great exploitation experience; you got a Southern Gothic aesthetic, creepy dolls and mannequins, a cross dressing killer…everything that adds up to a crowd-pleasin’ good time. also as before, there are some great performances evident here as well with Bracken making for a strong female protagonist that actually isn’t afraid to stand up and fight the various off-the-wall antagonists. Speaking of that, Gene Ross as the egotistical Judge Stemple and Larry O’Dwyer as the off-kilter Claude are scenery chewing dynamite! Finally the fantastic mansion the flick was filmed in becomes a character unto itself as it is equal parts ornate and ancient and offers plenty of deep shadows and twisted angles to add to the atmosphere.
The only negative with Don’t Open The Door is that there is zero mystery as to who the driving force is behind the evil that surrounds the Post family. It’s telegraphed almost immediately, but that doesn’t mean watching the creep get their joltin’ jollies is any less entertaining.
Along with the fright flicks featured on this Blu-ray/DVD combo release you get some bonus material for your putrid peepers as well! First up is an audio commentary on Don’t Look in the Basement featuring legendary genre director David DeCoteau and journalist David Del Valle. If you’ve never heard a commentary from these two let me tell you, they do some of the best in the biz; filled with facts, personal anecdotes, and laughs you can be assured it’s an engaging and entertaining listen! Also included are trailers for both films (and a selection of other grindhouse flicks as well…and to that powers that be at VCI/MVD; I need a Blu-ray of Hillbillies in a Haunted House in my life!), and deleted scenes and production notes from Don’t Open The Door.
Bottom line, these are exploitation gems, and they belong in the collection of anyone who fancies themselves a grindhouse/drive-in cinema aficionado!