Reviews: The Editor

Michelle reviews the latest Astron 6 film.

"I'm crushing your head."
Director team Astron 6 (there are only five guys in it though, go figure) have become one of my favorite creators of horror films in the past few years. They work with miniscule budgets to produce some of the most creative and hilarious indie shlock films to grace the screen. Continuing the tradition that Troma started in the ‘80s of shocking and gross comedy/horror, Astron 6 is one of the last bastions of exploitation cinema in an increasingly bland genre. Their earlier work was geared more towards ‘80s homage with Father’s Day and Manborg representing different styles in that era of horror. With their newest creation, The Editor, they are tackling an incredibly specific style of horror: 1970s Italian “giallo” slasher/supernatural films.

We follow the plight of a once renowned film editor named Ray Ciso (Adam Brooks) who after an unfortunate accident is maimed. He is now only able to edit low-budget trash flicks as a result, but things start taking a deadly turn on his newest film project. Now, one of the main tropes of Italian horror is style over substance. Most of the time the plots don’t make any goddamn sense, but everything looks so sophisticated that the audience doesn’t care. The Editor pays homage to this by having a ridiculous and nonsensical storyline (that is played for laughs) though it does have some character development and twists and turns. It has echoes of the surrealism in Lucio Fulci’s The Beyond (1981) but with the macabre murder mystery style of Dario Argento’s Suspiria (1977).

The look of the film is perfect at emulating that bright and oversaturated color palette of ‘70s Italian cinema. There are lots of primary colors used in each scene (especially blues and reds) and the lighting is excellent with great use of lines and shadows. The gore work is brilliant with loads of practical effects used for each kill. Giallo films are known for having “beautiful death” which means that though each kill is indeed grisly, it still maintains its art and splendor. The Editor doesn’t take this concept seriously, but in the end some parts of it are still gorgeous. I watched this with someone who was not familiar with the films that were an inspiration to this one, and I did notice that most of the references went over his head, which I think impeded his enjoyment of the film. That can be a problem with making a film homage, the viewer needs to have working knowledge of the genre as a whole. In this regard, The Editor doesn’t really work as a completely stand-alone film.

"Chainsaws are FUN!"
One of the most hilarious aspects of this film is the sound design. Everyone that talks has been dubbed over (with their own voices) and the lips and the sounds don’t quite match up. It’s exactly like watching an old Italian VHS copy of the film and had me laughing all the way through. The musical score is amazing as well with cheesy orchestral string synth work a la Fabio Frizzi or Riz Ortolani. Like everything else in this film, it perfectly encapsulates the atmosphere of the time period. Being a fan girl of giallo films myself, I was digging this movie hardcore, but I could see how someone who wasn’t “in on the joke” could find it to be exasperating to watch. So, if you like this kind of stuff then I highly recommend it, but if this is your first foray into Italian horror then I would try to watch some of the classic films in the genre first.


-Michelle Kisner

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