The Lovefilm Experiment: Adam Chaplin
Step right up, step right up. Who wants to chance their arm on a lucky dip from Lovefilm’s recommendations?
The options are:
- Adam Chaplain
- Cell 211
- Lovefilm’s trailer reel (out, for reasons too obvious to go in to)
- The Dark Knight
- Batman Begins
- Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (out, previously reviewed here)
- Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
So, to the Random Number Generator- an 8 or a 4 means I’m respinning. Here we go….
And lucky winner is Adam Chaplin, something I’ve never even heard of before. Still, it can’t be worse than the last effort- the frankly piss poor The Bounty Hunter.
Contains truly ridiculous levels of violence and spoilers below
As mentioned, I’d never even heard of this film before. Still, it’s relatively highly rated by gorehounds out there, but reading about it gave me the nasty whiff of modern grindhouse. Still, the various reviews out there bill it as an ultraviolent homage to films such as Fist of the North Star, and the makers (Necrostorm) swear blind that Adam Chaplin is the most violent film ever made. They’re wrong, it isn’t, but nevertheless it’s still pretty goddamned violent. Seriously, there’s an incredibly over the top level of violence to this film that left me a bit shell-shocked, and I don’t say that very often.
Adam is an unhappy man. Living in an imaginary city called Heaven Valley, where everything is controlled by mafiosi Denny and his idiot sons (sounds all too Hobo with a Shotgun, doesn’t it?) his life has fallen apart. His girlfriend was immolated by an irate Denny over a gambling debt, and Adam has cut a deal with a demon to give him super powers so he can gain vengeance on those that killed her. Which seems to be everybody, frankly. The film follows him as he meanders down a series of fairly identical looking corridors dealing bloody vengeance on anyone that stands in his way.
OK, this is an Italian horror film, and the rules with Italian Horror state that if it’s not called “Suspiria” then chances are it’s utter honk. Luckily Adam is better than the usual standards of Italian Horror, which isn’t saying a huge amount. Also, given that it’s not just Italian Horror, but Exploitation, there’s no real point talking about the acting etc, which is just as well, because it’s pretty shitty. Written, directed by and starring Emanuele De Santi, all of the acting in it is stiff, stilted and there are a variety of very silly voices used by the cast. Adam in particular has a truly daft Demon voice that sounds like an even sillier version of Bale’s Batvoice.
What this film really is about is the violence. Necrostorm developed something called HABS (Hyperrealistic Anime Blood Symulation- and I haven’t fucked up the spelling there) which is probably the silliest thing I’ve seen on screen. I’ve read about it, and it’s apparently a way to marry “realistic” blood effects up to Anime sensibilities, well according to Necrostorm it is. This is absolute honk, by the way, because there’s nothing realistic about the violence or bloodshed here. Anyhow, what this really works out as is our brick shithouse of a hero going all Fist of the North Star and exploding heads, torsos, limbs and everything else that can be ripped out, broken, exploded, snapped, smashed or otherwise violated. The Anime effect is actually a strange one, and I can’t say I’m a huge fan of it, but the vast majority of the gore effects here are practical and as a rule entertaining. The sheer amount of claret thrown around is unbelievable, seriously, there’s more than Knowles’ year’s supply of Ketchup on display here.
Let me give you an example. Adam is caught and interrogated by a cop. For reasons best known to himself, well the film never divulges them, his demon pops up and they decide that the police officer hasn’t been suitably respectful/ sympathetic. So Adam gets up from his chair and throws a flurry of what looks like about 500 punches into the head of the copper. He then follows it with quite the silliest blow that I’ve seen that propels the mashed guy the length of the room smashing him into the wall. Adam, obviously believing that he can get blood out of a stone, continues to interrogate the poor devil, before getting bored and inserting a shotgun into the boneless mess’ mouth before pulling the trigger and splattering him all over the place. Seriously, it’s laughable that he’s arrested for “assault” as what this film considers to be assault we consider to be a grotesque violation of the Geneva Convention.
Against the odds, though, the film is actually quite entertaining. It’s not as mean-spirited as the likes of Hobo, which is a start, and it’s clearly aware of how over the top it is. It also has a couple of trump cards to play. The first is the villain of the piece, Denny, a freakishly deformed nightmare of a man. He’s a cracking over the top villain, hiding half his face behind a mask, while a self-medicating system injects something or other directly into his brain. The other trump card is the nameless demon. Appearing from over his shoulder (I think he might actually live in Adam’s back, actually), he pops up every so often with some genuinely funny dialogue and pretty repulsive advice for Adam. It also helps that the Demon is some kind of weird muppet Gollum, and his appearances always raise the film from whatever it’s doing.
On the minus side though, the entire second act which focuses on someone called Mike and his search for Adam is massively boring, and it’s a bit of a relief when he’s finally offed. Furthermore, the first two thirds of the film all seem to take place in a weird blue-tinged corridor, which isn’t exactly the most interesting location that I’ve ever seen. The finale takes place, naturally, in an industrial estate, which really serves as a platform to allow Adam to explode the entire police force and then pummel Denny into dust using a cudgel made out of a big pole jammed through a henchman.
Overall, I’m not sure how to go on this. On one hand, it’s obviously exploitation and wears its violence proudly, but on the other it was clearly made on a shoestring and it does look it. Actually, while I’m thinking about this, a fucking plague on CGI fire. Furthermore, it’s not mean-spirited and is best described as being mostly very silly, so it does at least understand the point of grindhouse gore movies. Really, I’m totally torn on this one, because any film with this level of gusto and dedication to literally disintegrating human beings should usually appeal to me, but it’s just not really grabbed me, and a lot of that is purely down to that second act. Adam Chaplin can have a “meh”, which is a hell of a lot more than most of these grindhouse efforts get from me.
It’ll be a while before I take this on again, as I don’t want to review either Batman movie, and that’s 6 out of 10 of the list that I’d have to select again.
Until next time,