AUGUST UNDERGROUND'S MORDUM

Directed by Toe Tag Pictures
Written by Toe Tag Pictures (based on characters by Fred Vogel and Allen Peters)
Produced by Toe Tag Pictures
Music by Impercept, Gorelord, Superfollider, Necrophagia, Wurdulak, Bippy, NCO, Porcelain Maggot, Slave Pig
Cast: Fred Vogel, Cristie Whiles, Michael T. Schneider (Maggot) & Killjoy

2004/80 mins/Color/Dolby Digital Mono
1.33:1 Full Frame/English/US/NTSC Region 0

Web Site: http://www.toetagpictures.com

Review from the Toe Tag Pictures DVD

In the early 90's a film series swept the underground by storm. A quick mythos surrounded the series as being genuine snuff films, straight out of Japan. Even prominent actor Charlie Sheen was a believer and contacted the MPAA the MPAA then contacting the FBI, and eventually the truth surfaced that they were merely films with authentic make-up FX. Time has passed and the GUINEA PIG films have surfaced again, being available on DVD. The GUINEA PIG series has always reined champion of the brutal underground horror film, with no other outrivaling it. In recent years many have tried - the RED ROOM films as an example, but in the end, they could not produce the stomach churning nature of a film like FLOWERS OF FLESH AND BLOOD - until now, and straight out of the US! Fred Vogel and Allen Peters set out to create the ultimate pseudo-snuff, but anti-serial killer film, to portray serial killers as being despicable, rather than media superstars. This film was titled AUGUST UNDERGROUND. Word spread slowly but the buzz began and now the second installment is among us on DVD - AUGUST UNDERGROUND'S MORDUM, to rival them all.

This time around MORDUM follows our hero from the first AU, now accompanied by friends with the same thirst for torment and anguish, in the nastiest movie you will ever see. The film opens with Vogel's character progressing through the house with his cam, finding Crusty fucking her brother as the viewer can see from the keyhole. The two (Vogel/Crusty) seem to be an item so a verbal battle starts and the character of Crusty cuts her stomach with a razorblade. Once the bickering deteriorates the two begin their night of mayhem.

Jump cut to the next sequence of footage (edited akin to any other homemade video) the couple enters a junkie's home with the intent to collect. Vogel's character finds his victim and much like the Cannibal Corpse song "Hammer Smashed Face" he's writhing on the floor seconds later. With Crusty as the cameraman she captures the deed and lurks around the house to find another poor soul - sitting on the floor adorned with vomit sits another junkie, needle still attached to the vein that ended his life. It's probably for the best for all involved - now the duo doesn't need to kill this guy. Once the house has been investigated the two return to the body whose skull is bashed in where one of the funniest parts of this video nasty takes place. The tone of the film is dark and malicious, but various aspects of the writing and situations jump out, and one cannot help but chuckle from beneath the darkness of the film. When Vogel's about to disrobe his body for more effective and trouble-free chopping, Crusty is quick to taunt "You wanna touch dick all the time!" and a high school scrap ensues between the two before Vogel can start the dismemberment. The rest of the film has other "found footage" and continues on with this nonlinear structure.

AUGUST UNDERGROUND'S MORDUM is a hateful, mean-spirited endurance test. The films predecessor was the first movie where I felt like I shouldn't continue watching. Even movies from the simulated snuff sub-genre such as THE DEVILS EXPERIMENT, or even FLOWERS OF FLESH AND BLOOD or even MERMAID IN A MANHOLE didn't hit this hard. The vision of that girl tied to a chair in a basement plastered with pornography, covered in her own bodily waste and mutilated as her tormentors have their way with her as they giggle manically, left a distressed and empty feeling. I kept questioning if I was watching a genuine snuff film or not. Lucky for me the caption 'Property of Absu Films' (the company before Toe Tag) kept appearing on screen from time to time to assure me, it's only a movie, it's only a movie... MORDUM, this time around lacks the disturbing feel of the first, but surpasses it in the shocks and gross-out department. Think of the grossest most upsetting act possible and MORDUM has it - forcing a man to castrate himself with mini scissors, vomit degradation with taunting, making love to entrails, or a maggot ridden baby torso in possibly the most gruesome set design in a low budget horror film since THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. But the most unsettling sequence (which is far too real for comfort) shows Schneider's character as he defiles a young girl's corpse in the bathtub while Crusty films, adding "You don't have to worry about growing up now sweetie."

A film like MORDUM doesn't come along very often. Not too many filmmakers have the balls to give their all to mindfuck the viewer in such a disgusting way. MORDUM backs down for no one. Companies like Sub Rosa Extreme have delved a little deeper than the norm in the underground horror world with powerful films such as SCRAPBOOK, or the extreme exploitative efforts of I SPIT ON YOUR CORPSE, I PISS ON YOUR GRAVE to give the independent horror fan more of a no holds barred viewing experience. Toe Tag Pictures have gone further than any other independent company (or mainstream for that matter) to show what hasn't been done before. Regardless or not whether you are into this type of film, the AUGUST UNDERGROUND films are an important stepping stone for modern independent horror. A film doesn't need to be as extreme as this or follow a nonlinear structure to be appreciated, but look at the FX and the performances from the actors or willing participants. All parties involved are completely convincing throughout MORDUM, which is what is lacking in the underground scene. Mainly we get non-actors which appear to be non-actors on screen. With MORDUM, the cast and crew are willing to do whatever it takes for the camera. And with the quality of FX for a budget of around $300.00 US it's no wonder the film won best makeup at Calgary's Exofest.

Toe Tag Pictures presents MORDUM in its original DV full frame aspect ratio. The footage is amateurish as a home video would be with bad lighting and grain throughout. The grain is the films companion however adding full force to the grittiness and realism of the picture. The audio is presented in Dolby Digital Mono and was most likely record straight onto the DV tape with use of the cameras mic. For the most part the sound can be heard clearly and effectively. The 'Special Features' on the disc are trailers from both AUGUST UDNERGROUND and MORDUM, and a little teaser for the upcoming third and final installment titled PENANCE which will be partly shot on film. Onward is an extensive behind the scenes stills gallery where you can see mighty FX man Jerami Cruise at work. Next there is a pretty cool video by Killjoy's band Necrophagia titled 'Rue Morgue Deciple' (who also shows up in the film with the same sinister hobby as the rest of the murdering group). The supplements are rounded off with three deleted scene titled 'bathroom slaughter', 'yank his fuckin' tooth out', and 'lick my pubes'. The latter deleted scene was released on Maggots unofficial cut of the film which was sold via him before MORDUM's official release on DVD. The major differences in the official version as opposed to Maggot's cut are this scene in particular, the Junkie scene in not in the Maggot cut, and other footage is shortened such as the sequence where Maggot's character has sex with a slit in a dead girls stomach. In Maggot's version the scene drags for too long until his climax. The DVD cut of the film flows better and is less repetitive. Also an additional Easter Egg can be located under the credits section of the DVD. The artwork for the DVD is top notch, but does not contain an insert. I don't believe all versions are signed as mine is.

So there you have it, whether the film turns your stomach, depresses and distresses or sexually stimulates your masochistic desire, it will create some emotion in you. From being completely hand built forged snuff film, that is a great accomplishment. MODUM isn't for everyone, but my guess is if you are reading this review it has sparked your interest somehow. As Toe Tag's slogan goes, "The future of horror is bright fucking red", and as long as they're around I'm sure it will continue to be. Now is there anybody out there willing to send a copy of this DVD to Mr. Sheen?

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Review by Chris Mayo. All Right Reserved. 2004. ©

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