High Tension (aka Switchblade Romance in the UK) resides in the elite circle of horror favorites that helped shape me into the Manster I am today. It might be my top foreign film, my #1 foreign horror for sure. 17 years removed it holds up perfectly intact today.
Alexandre Aja (The Hills Have Eyes, Crawl) delivers one of the most focused, grisly slasher films of all time. He knows where he wants to go and cuts to the chase. No elaborate build-ups here. Once the movie kicks into high gear it doesn’t take its foot off the gas. The arsenal of weapons employed by the burly, deranged, nameless maniac rivals that of the most violent action video games. You give High Tension a chance and you will never be bored.
This time when I fired the French film up I couldn’t remember if I used to watch it with subtitles or dubbed English (subtitles being my go-to as an adult), but High Tension soon reminded me that it doesn’t matter. It likes to switch back and forth based on what feels right in the context. You don’t see that too often and I appreciated the gesture to include a taste of both worlds. It’s fluid to the point you don’t even realize it’s happening after a few change-ups.
If you can imagine a coming-of-age Manster way down in his fiends crypt, eyes widened to the max as the first kills unfold on the screen, maybe you can understand the impact this well crafted masterpiece left on a certain section of my generation. It’s not a wildly successful or greatly recognized film by any means, but those who were there at the right place and time continue to be captivated by its glory and will always champion its achievement. As the credits for High Tension began to roll the Manster thought to himself, “So THIS is what horror is truly about!”
5 buzzsaw blades out of 5
R.I.P. Philippe Nahon. Fuck COVID-19.
BONUS REVIEW (MM 2018)
Psychomanteum seems like it was made by people who wanted to shit all over horror compilations like The ABCs of Death and V/H/S. Well, you can send this fecal failure down the pipes of your porcelain throne without a second thought. Give it a courtesy flush just in case.
1 backed up Porta-Potty out of 5
BONUS REVIEW (MM 2019)
Haunt is a sinister Halloween walkthrough film produced by Eli Roth, not that that means much. A group of teens end up at a holiday attraction off the beaten path and you can guess what happens next. Its formula goes down easier than what The Houses October Built but doesn’t attain much of a higher grade. The mask(s) gimmick is a refreshing novelty and just about the best thing going for Haunt. I guess extremehauntsploitation is now a subgenre. I’m still waiting for someone to knock it out of the park. For fans of THOB and Hell House LLC who would like to experiment with a different perspective.
3 men behind the masks out of 5
PS Haunt was one-half of Joe Bob Briggs’s Halloween special this year.