Thursday, June 20, 2013

ADAM CHAPLIN (Review)

ADAM CHAPLIN (2011)

review by AARON ALLEN

Directed and Written by Emanuele De Santi

Starring Emanuele De Santi, Giulio De Santi, Alessandro Gramanti, Christian Riva
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Adam Chaplin is going to melt your face and then rock you into the atmosphere with a super-powered falcon punch to the solar plexus.

Billed as one of the bloodiest films ever made, Adam Chaplin is a gem of Italian indie cult cinema from the Necrostorm production company that's just now starting to make waves in the North American horror fandom. On June 21st, Horror in the Hammer will be screening Adam Chaplin -- a movie tailor-made for fans of extreme, over-the-top violence and anime-inspired action -- at our monthly Fright Night Theatre program.


Featuring startling practical effects and homegrown digital composition, Adam Chaplin is a gory fusion of Manga violence, dark comic book narratives, and Satanic heavy metal imagery in a near-prefect package of fist-pumping carnage. You won't believe your eyes!


After his wife is murdered by mobsters, the muscle-bound Adam Chaplin (Emanuele De Santi) makes a deal with the devil to receive dark powers and superhuman strength. I'm talking EXTREME power! Within the first minute of the movie, Adam Chaplin literally knocks the heads right off of dudes with his bare hands. Goaded on by a demon that grows out of a scar shaped like an inverted crucifix on his shoulder (yeah, you read that right. Sooo metal!), Adam's rage unleashes a bloody war that brings him and the demon up against a corrupt police department and a demented, disfigured mafia boss named Denny Richards (Christian Riva). In the tradition of anime and films such as Fist of the North Star and Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky, Adam Chaplin culminates in anatomically impossible feats of violent lunacy.


Adam Chaplin plays out like an incredibly violent but fun European comic book. From the start, it's a film that exists in its own aesthetic world inspired by graphic superhero stories (such as Spawn and The Crow) and bloody manga comics. You're either going to buy into it right away or you're never going to get it. It's definitely unconventional. All the bad guys are intentionally grotesque, played by actors in facial prosthetics that make them look like degenerate Dick Tracy villains. In addition to the exaggerated prosthetics, Adam Chaplin is filmed in an ever-present heavenly blue hue that gives the film a distinctly comic book look and contrasts so sweetly against all the crimson blood that's shed -- and there's definitely a lot of blood. Everyone in this movie must have incredibly high blood pressure because their blood comes blasting out by the gallon. Clearly, Adam Chaplin makes no pretense at reality, and that's why it's so effective if you can suspend your disbelief; it's a European comic meets Japanese anime in gloriously gruesome live action.


The film follows Adam, who doesn't talk much, as he works his way up the criminal ladder in the fictional city of Heaven Valley to confront Denny Richards, the mob boss who burned Adam's dear wife alive over money she owed the mob. In truth, Adam's kind of a dull character. Most of his story is told through wordless flashbacks, but when he does talk he's not given much more to do than be big, angry, and violent. Like a lot strong-man heroes, he works better in contrast to his friends and enemies.


Adam doesn't really have many friends in his corner, unless you count the demon to which he is bound. Portrayed by a whacked out puppet, the demon is much more verbose than Adam. He manages to be incredibly creepy (thanks to some really unsettling sound editing that makes him sound like a baby being strangled by an alley cat) as well as comedic, providing some humour to relieve us of the unrelenting violence and Adam's infinite sternness. On the other hand, Adam has lots of wild enemies to pick from. Chief among them is Denny Richards, a real nasty piece of work. Raised by an abusive criminal, Denny is kept alive by a chemical concoction called Neurocrill 3 that constantly courses through his body via a series of tubes and pumps (not unlike Bane from the Batman comics). Denny has been hooked on Neurocrill 3 since a childhood accident when he was mauled by a dog. Now, as a result of the side effects, the Neurocrill 3 has turned Denny into a hulking mutated beast who hides his face behind a mask and has no mercy for those who break the rules -- his rules. When Adam starts to get too close to taking down Denny, Denny sends his sadistic sons to recruit a knife-wielding bum in wrestling face paint to find out Adam's identity and lead the whole corrupt Heaven Valley police department to Adam's door. Still with me? Good. Adam must make his way through them all, one crushed skull at a time, if he wants to go head to head with his wife's murderer. And the final battle will be extreme!


What Adam Chaplin may lack in story and "good taste" (bleh, who needs it, anyway?) it makes up for in copious amounts of gore. Crushed heads, cleaved faces, torn limbs, impaled torsos: Adam Chaplin has it all. This is a gorehound's delight. Most impressively, Adam Chaplin is an indie film that avoids the crappy kind of fake blood you see in so many other titles To achieve the beautiful fluidity of anime blood, which unlike real blood appears to spray in compressed, thick sheets, Necrostorm's technicians on Adam Chaplin invented the H.A.B.S. (Hyperrealistic Anime Blood Symulation) system. When run-of-the-mill fake blood is spread using a compressor, it tends to vaporize and spray in a very unappealing mist. The H.A.B.S. FX technique, however, introduces an elastic bonding agent that keeps the blood looking dynamic so it can approximate the look of blood in Japanese cartoons.  What Emanuele De Santi and his Necrostorm team has accomplished in terms of effects may be rough around the edges at times, but the sheer ambition they put into their practical makeup effects and gore gags is nothing short of inspiring!


When I think of gore, I always think of Italy. Italy was, after all, king of the splatter films in the 80s and 90s. Now, with Adam Chaplin, Necrostorm is bringing back the heyday of Italian splatter -- bringing it back with a vengeance.

Were Adam Chaplin released on VHS in the 80s, it would have undoubtedly rocketed to the top of the video nasties list. It's so very violent and bizarre and completely off its meds. In short, I love it. And if you love gore, anime, comics, and insane action, you will too.

Hell hath no fury like ADAM CHAPLIN

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