Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Venomous Vixens: Kali Hansa

Kali Hansa, born Marisol Hernández, sort of put a spell on me with her role as Tunika in Amando de Ossorio’s THE NIGHT OF THE SORCERERS. I would have dreams that were kind of like my own imagined sequel to the film, where, in a sickly state, I would travel to the African forest where this film took place. Knowing my time was running short, due to some sort of terminal illness, I would travel up a mountain and to a place where I knew I would find Tunika, in her vampire form. Longing to end my suffering, I would find her in a shallow moonlit river where she would welcome me, and through an act of vampiric intercourse, she would make me like her, curing me, making me immortal, and also inflicting her curse upon me. 

Thus is the effect her presence in THE NIGHT OF THE SORCERERS had on me. With her constantly lingering in my mind, I eventually viewed several more films that she was in, sometimes credited as Gaby Herman or Kali Hansen. I was slightly saddened to find out that she was usually just a supporting/minor character and had an acting career that didn’t really take off, and it seemed to have ended circa 1976 after shooting a hardcore porno for Jess Franco, WHITE SKIN BLACK THIGHS and an erotic comedy, GIRLS IN THE NIGHT TRAFFIC. Despite usually having small roles and frequently being killed off, she visually stood out the most amongst other characters and gave off an ‘Oh-wow, who’s-that?’ impression. She apparently vanished after filming her last movie. She is from Cuba and was the girlfriend of Alberto Dalbes.

(Rumor bin: According to Jess Franco she moved back to Cuba to use her exceptional strength to fight against Fidel Castro!!!

For this tribute to Kali Hansa, and possibly a new series for AT THE MANSION OF MADNESS (Venomous Vixens), I’ve organized a few thoughts and images from a selection of some of her films.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Get Well Soon (2011)

This odd but satisfying psychological horror short is an interesting and nightmarish look at the deterioration of the marriage between its two sole characters, Theodore and Janet (Gresby Nash and Laura Howard). With its claustrophobic home interior setting, the film maintains a consistent tone as we witness a sort of aftermath to Theodore’s bout with breast cancer, now in remission. Contrary to what should be a good thing, the story takes a more downbeat approach as things seem fairly depressing, instead, with the couple apparently growing distant after Janet discovers she is pregnant. Being disappointed by her pregnancy causes Janet to realize that she truly isn’t happy with her marriage anymore, and so she decides to keep the pregnancy from her husband. The idea of feeling trapped is brought out remarkably well with Janet locking herself in the bathroom as a way of escape.

Theodore learns of the pregnancy after overhearing Janet talking on the phone to a friend. It ends up being real hard on him to know that Janet is deliberately keeping the news about their child from him. As events unfold in a days-of-the-week progression, he undergoes a kind of mental degradation. With the cinematography on display during Theodore’s decline, I could almost feel his inebriation when he starts to go heavy on the drugs and alcohol. The horror elements of the film start to come out more as the problem escalates and reality and nightmare start to merge.

GET WELL SOON showcases terrific performances from its two sole actors (I especially loved the chilling way that Laura Howard abruptly switched her facial expression during a key moment that involves her screaming at something off camera). The story by Michael Woodman is engaging and well written, though some viewers might end up with some unanswered questions (being a psychological horror film this is understandable, but I’m interested in knowing if the consistent use of the bathtub symbolized or meant anything). My favorite part consists of an artistically shot nightmare scene that portrays the cause of Theodore’s drug consumption and the effect that this new ordeal is having on him -- a disturbing visual of Theodore resting on Janet’s bosom as she envelops him and feeds him pills. I also enjoyed getting freaked out by the movie’s ending scene, which caused GET WELL SOON to impress me more than I was expecting. It is genuinely scary, and I admire the way Woodman decided to avoid having a predictable ‘guy goes crazy and kills his wife’ ending.

Get Well Soon: Full Movie (14 min and 3 sec)