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Cradle of Fear

Review by: 
Release Date: 
Film 2000
Aspect Ratio: 
Directed by: 
Alex Chandon
Emily Booth
Dani Filth
Bottom Line: 

 Hey, need a gig to promote your indie movie? Why not hire the Cradle Of Filth frontman, Dani Filth, to co-star in your low-budget horror? Hey, why not call it Cradle Of Fear as well? That makes it a lot easier for the fans to find!
This is really four short stories connected by a somewhat dubious linking storyline. A dangerous rock star turned serial killer called Kemper has been captured and imprisoned in an asylum, from where he instructs "The Man" (Dani Filth) to execute his revenge.
This is an extremely violent film but it still looksand feels like a very tacky television show at times. Those four short stories are:
- A goth girl discovers the consequences of sleeping with Dani Filth! Where's the morning-after pill when you need one?
- Two female thieves rob and murder an old man. Both recieve their come-uppances.
- A nasty piece of work wants a replacement leg for the one that he lost in an accident. So he takes one! Very entertaining!
- A man obsessed with extreme sex and gore websites discovers an interactive serial killing website called The Sick Room, where you call the shots. You choose the weapons, the body areas and the violence levels. This was a quality idea!
Alas, the general feeling about this film is what might have been rather than what actually is. The first two vignettes are quite poor, but the third and fourth are both great fun! Those first two stories do something very strange as well. They both contain impressive effects at their finales but they don't look very good at all when the director has decided to have them occuring in brightly lit rooms. What a bad idea that was.
The third and fourth stories are much better, not just scripting-wise but in their execution. The camerais too static in those earlier parts (bar the crowded street sequence), whereas this time the camera involves us more by utilising movement and some cool angles and ideas. The film also has a tendency to come across as being tacky at times when there's almost a soft-core porn appearance to some of the proceedings.
I enjoyed the second half a lot more and if thefilm had impressed me as much earlier on, I woul have been more generous with my scoring. Perhaps at two hours, the film is just way too long. Why not trim it down to make a more cohesive feature? Surely Chandon knew that the later stories were far superior just by observing the order he placed them in.
The film's synopsis states, "Mentally scarred detective Nielson follows the bloody trail to locate the source of these heinous crimes, but will he be in time or will Kemper get to him first." Quite frankly, who cares?! I certainly don't. This linking storyline could have disappeared and I certainly wouldn't have missed it. In fact, I think that the film would have benefited considerably from it's exclusion.
None of these policeman and serial killer sequences play well at all, and as the first two stories were poorer than the later two, why not edit those parts of the film into something more impressive? This could have been a great 80-85 minute debut feature, rather than a film which at 120 minutes long comes across so badly at times.
That's what's so strange about this low-budget horror, some parts are great whereas some moments are awful! Surely a director should be wise enough to know which parts to exclude, as well as include? Sometimes less is definitely more. And we still could have seen that deleted footage as an interesting dvd special feature anyway.
Of course the dilemma is that the ropey subplot and the first story contain the most footage of Dani Filth. And it's Filth's involvement that has led to the greater recognition (and probably the financing) of this movie, so I can understand why Chandon has included those parts. But 120 minutes!!! This film would have benefited from some major editing. I can think of many sequences which should have been trimmed down or even disappeared completely.
The effects are very impressive considering the budgetary limitations and the film does have a very impressive original score, and it also contains music bydifferent groups including Cradle Of Filth (well, natch!). It also contains some amusing humour but it also suffers from too many tacky sequences and sometimes piss-poor sound effects. That's a real shame because this feature could have been a contender! The two hour running time is far too long for Cradle Of Fear.
Your disc provides:
- Behind-the-scenes footage (12 mins)
- Widescreen(ish!)
- Photos (60-70, I lost count!)
- Trailers
I can't recommend this as a purchase which is a shame because two of these short stories are great. Buy it at a special price or rent it instead, but you have been warned. It's probably an essential purchase for Cradle Of Filth fans though!

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