Me, Myself, and Joe Bob Briggs at The Hollywood TheaterOctober 25, 2015
A Little Help From Our Friends, Sick Fucks That They AreOctober 27, 2015
In 2010, TOETAG Inc. and infamous underground director Fred Vogel let loose upon the independent horror world their poignant tapestry of humanity and family famine known as Sella Turcica, a film that not only changed directions for the emerging company, but also helped usher in a new era of dramatic terror that fused the assaultive cinema of modern genre films with the post-9/11 war-torn images of shattered family structure.
Sella Turcica is a simple and familiar story. A family awaits a loved one who is returning from his duties overseas. The members of the Roback clan try to put aside their typical domestic differences in order to prepare for the wounded son's arrival, unsure of his inflictions but ready to receive him with joy and honor. Brad Roback, decorated serviceman, returns home to the arms of his loved ones, attempted to put the past behind him and concentrate on healing, both physically and mentally, for he has been wounded severely in combat and no longer has full use of his limbs and most of his other abilities have been limited, to which all causes are seemingly unknown to him or his family.
Brad's reunion is heartfelt and even though you can blatantly read the pain felt by Brad's state on his loved one's faces, they still manage to achieve a facade of happiness while awaiting their own patriarch (who is absent for the majority of the piece yet is held in high regard and reverence by his family) to truly begin Brad's welcoming back.
Damien Maruscak (Sgt. Bradley Roback) has come home.
Brad's condition worsens to a decaying degree as does the inner turmoils of the other family members personal conflicts with each other and within themselves. The family drama witnessed, including hints at placism and secret discontent, begins to spiral out of control as Brad's condition reaches a meltdown and the horrifying violence that flows from Brad shocks the audience and destroys the fabric of his families existence which leads to a gore-soaked climax and a final catharsis that leaves it's own haunting upon all who have witnessed the atrocities committed by and upon the Robacks.
Camille Keaton as Karmen Roback
TOETAG, creators of the legendary August Underground Trilogy and The Redsin Tower, had just released Vogel and company's responsive Murder Collection Volume 1, a movie that looks deeper into the sensation-driven world of internet-streaming death, and a sexually ambiguous torture feature called MASKHEAD, both released in 2009. After completing two ambitious projects, TOETAG wanted to fulfill a life-long dream of creating a slow-burn dramatic feature that would build up to their typical levels of depravity in the final act. This seed of an idea eventually led to the growth of a horror film, wrapped in drama and human emotion, yet while still managing to disturb and disgust with it's very being.
Casting a clan of fresh faces and genre veterans, including Jade Risser (Murder-Set-Pieces), Damien Maruscak (MASKHEAD) and Camille Keaton (I Spit On Your Grave), and entering an isolated home in Ohio, TOETAG, along with a deliberately repetitive script polished by Don Moore, began crafting a film with themes that try to convey a difference in style and depth in the world of horror movies. Gone are previous thematic styles including the visual attacks of rape, torture and TOETAG's perverse inversions of the normalties of life. Instead we find a story that is filled with dysfunction, abnormality within their own supposed normality and an isolated grief and pain found within the construct of the American family, torn apart at it's foundations while some members are trying their best to hold on to whatever can be salvaged from their happily ever after lives that have ceased to exist. The awaiting of the patriarchal figure is a devise used brilliantly throughout the production, as the Robacks hold on to the idea that whatever wrongs are happening they will be resolved eventually, perhaps through dire hope, with the return of the Father. Unfortunately, even when the Father returns, the webs of Brad's terror and the self-inflicted miseries have tightened and strangled the life from this family unit, whom once wore smiles that have since turned to grimaces of pain and desperation with the clouds of death shadowing the light of life from their once beating hearts.
Sean P. McCarthy (Bruce) and Damien Maruscak (Brad)
EFX Crew(from left) Shawn Collins, Autumn Cook, Jerami Cruise
Jerami Cruise's blood-soaked brilliance in makeup effects are on full display as the images of family and its loving ways have flesh and bodily fluids strewn upon them. Cruise and TOETAG have presented a climax to the horror community that not only sickens the stomach with it's onscreen visions but also weakens the spirit as characters that you invested your time and thoughts into are viciously let loose from their mortal essence by the unknown sickness that has enveloped Brad and his family. Never before in the history of cinema has one particular effect been employed and it's use cripples the viewer with its simplistic approach and devastating delivery. The makeup magic mixed with Maruscak's physical contortion grants a re-imagining of the modern monster and it's hideous yet painfully sad existence. A modern day Frankenstein-esque story.
Damien Maruscak (Sgt. Bradley Roback)
Jade Risser (Ashley Roback) fake Ashley and EFX Master Jerami Cruise
Five years have past since TOETAG released Sella Turcica to its devoted fanbase and to the horror world. It's interesting to note that use of drama being used as a technique again in some horror films seems to be on the rise and younger movie-makers seem to be adopting the family portrait as a way to spill their own variety of cinematic carnage. Yet, since witnessing Bradley Roback's decent into chaos and murder (be it from internal or external forces guiding him down his path to destruction) no filmmaker has yet to match the intensity of that final act in Sella Turcica which has spawned a cult-like devotion of fans that have been scarred by the hell imposed upon the viewer by TOETAG.
The cast and crew of Sella Turcica 2010
Direcor Fred Vogel with his monster Damien Maruscak on the set of Sella Turcica 2010
Award-winning and celebrated director Fred Vogel invites us to glimpse the shattered lives of The Roback Family and to sit down and enjoy a moment consisting of the families insecurities, it's values, it's memories and it's own body torn inside out and placed upon an artistic pallet that has rarely been shown except in the dark corners of the confessional booth and the oceans of darkened thought that drift through our minds as we vow never to speak of them aloud for fear that these realities may come to the surface and devour of lives.
What's wrong with Brad? Nothing . . .
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