Frequently bloody, occasionally disgusting: A Halloween roundup from the fringes of horror

With the exception of “The Woman” (which is still in limited theatrical release), all of the films from “Bloody Disgusting Selects” are currently available on multiple platforms including Netflix, Amazon.com and most VOD providers including Comcast, DirecTV, Amazon, iTunes, CinemaNow, VuDu and Verizon FiOS. Check your VoD provider listings, or go to www.bloodydisgustingselects.com for more information about the films and where to find them.

On DVD, all of the foreign-language films reviewed here include an optional English-dub dialogue track for viewers with an aversion to subtitles.

Historically and statistically, the most abundant, profitable, and creatively expressive movie genre has always been horror. It has consistently been the most viable proving ground for new talent and a focal point for the most obsessive movie fans on the planet. It’s the most purely cinematic of genres, playing to the strengths of an artistic medium that has shock, surprise, dread, fear, and bloodletting built into every molecule of its DNA. It’s a realm of expression that challenges masters and amateurs alike.

An outgrowth of Bloody-Disgusting.com (billed as “the world’s #1 website for horror fans”), “Bloody Disgusting Selects” was launched earlier this year in partnership with The Collective (“a full-service entertainment, media and content production company”) and AMC theaters. The partnership aims to bring independent horror films to U. S. theaters (mostly given limited releases in major cities) and to world-wide audiences on multiple VOD platforms.

Are the films always worthwhile? Of course not. Is this partnership a great boon for horror fans and filmmakers? Absolutely. Over the past several months, Bloody Disgusting Selects (which boasts an animated company logo of a gruesome skull capped off by a spinning saw blade that becomes a kind of gory halo) has rolled out a half-dozen films (most had brief exposure in AMC theaters) that you might — I repeat, might — want to include in your at-home Halloween fright-fest. Here’s my take on each of them (in alphabetical order by title) accompanied by a brief assessment of their “yuck” factor.

“Atrocious” (2010) (directed by Fernando Barreda Luna, Spain, 75 minutes)
Here’s a genuine curio, and one of my moderate favorites in this horrific half-dozen. At first glance, it’s yet another dreary exercise in “Found Video/POV” horror, seeming to offer little beyond what we’ve already seen in “The Blair Witch Project,” “Paranormal Activity” and dozens of copycat thrillers. The set-up is familiar: Spanish police discover 37 hours of video that reveals most of the details surrounding a multiple homicide case at a summer house where an entire family was brutally murdered. The brother and sister team of Cristian and July (Cristian Valencia and Clara Moraleda) have arrived to video-document an urban legend about a little girl who got lost in the nearby forest while looking for her mother and…(wait for it!)… never returned! So of course they venture into the deep, dark forest, with the night-vision function on their video-cams working overtime, and… what happens? Along with the requisite amount of down-time for marginal character development (and respite between shock-jolts), director Barreda takes a low-budget gamble that pays off handsomely: He keeps his characters’ POV cameras running through a seemingly endless maze of trees and shrubbery…and keeps them running aimlessly until we feel the same out-of-control dread that they do.

This goes on seemingly forever — ten minutes or more, in one marathon stretch — until you wonder if Barreda is just wasting precious time in a 75-minute feature that dares to (almost) wear out its welcome. But through a combination of anxiety-inducing sound and dialogue and brief, progressively more revealing glimpses of horror and bloodshed, “Atrocious” shapes up to be a surprisingly effective little chiller that provides just enough ingenuity to compensate for the familiar trappings of the POV sub-genre. Yuck factor: Minimal (bloodshed and murderous aftermath, mostly held until the film’s climax and denoument).

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