Making a good horror film is tough. Making a good satirical horror homage is downright daunting. Not only do you have to know the genre inside and out, you also have to incisive thinking necessary for good satire and the aesthetic chops to create a convincing simulation of the atmosphere and style that you are sending up. The Editor is a rare example of modern filmmakers hitting those homage and satire marks with equal skill, making a film that horror fans can smile at without feeling insulted.
The Editor is the story of Rey Ciso (Adam Brooks), a once in-demand editor who ended up in the horror film ghetto after an on-the-job accident that cost him a few fingers. He’s also coping with a loveless marriage to burnt-out, abusive actress wife Josephine (Paz De La Huerta). His situation goes from bad to worse when a black-clad mystery killer begins bumping off the cast and crew on his current film and arrogant but dopey detective Peter Porfiry (Matthew Kennedy) singles him out as the top suspect. A barrage of sex, gore and in-jokes of ever-escalating complexity follows.
From the early moments of The Editor, the horror fan knows they are in good hands. The script was penned by Brooks and Kennedy with Conor Sweeney, who also plays a closeted actor in the film, and it shows a thorough knowledge of the giallo films that the plot pokes fun at.
The result has fun riffing on the operatic bloodiness and gleeful mistreatment of women in these films but its laid out in a way that suggests a deep fondness for their baroque artsiness and anything-goes surprises. It also evens the score for female viewers by also satirizing the barely-concealed homoeroticism that lurks under the machismo in Italian genre fare. Brooks and Kennedy also co-directed and their work shows a deep knowledge and appreciation of the giallo, with nods to everything from Blood And Black Lace to The Strange Vice Of Mrs. Wardh plus a twist ending that would make Ernesto Gastaldi smile.
However, they don’t stop there – there are also several nods to Fulci films, including a hilarious aerobicize sequence modeled on Murderock, an extended sequence that quotes a key scene from Hitch-Hike and a DePalma-inspired split-screen sequence. The Canadian-born filmmakers even find time to use the lead character’s blurring of his film work and reality to throw in a few references to Videodrome! They weave these disparate influences together with such skill and accuracy that horror buffs will find it hard not to get swept up in this film’s deep-dish cinephilia.
Best of all, the makers of The Editor don’t forget that the wild, visceral content is a key hook of Italian genre fare for its fans and they never skimp on it. They pile on gratuitous nudity (male as well as female) and buckets of cheap gore, stylize it with beautiful candy-colored ‘scope cinematography and give it a great electronic-tinged score that harkens back to Goblin’s latter-day work with Argento (it’s worth noting that Claudio Simonetti was a contributor to its multi-composer score).
The wryly humorous performances by everyone involved add the perfect final touch. Brooks does an impressive emulation of Franco Nero, Kennedy has a ball playing a Clouseau-style bumbler with weird sexual hangups and Sweeney plays his blissfully dumb character with deadpan verve. De La Huerta sends up her sexbomb image with a charmingly game eagerness, Human Centipede series star Laurence Harvey deftly underplays a bit role as a priest and, best of all, Udo Kier shows a wicked knack for self-satire as a sleazy doctor who knows a few things about Rey Ciso.
In short, The Editor is the rare horror homage that delivers everything you’d want from its satirical target – the style, the visceral content, the go-for-broke wildness – while also affectionately showing the humor inherent in the quirks and obsessions of that target. If you’re into the wilder side of ’70s/’80s horror, particularly the Italian flavor, then you should dig into this multi-tiered send-up.
Blu-Ray Notes: Scream Factory picked this title up for home video release and just released it in a nice blu-ray/DVD combo pack. The cinemascope imagery looks great in this transfer, particularly on the blu-ray, with eye-popping colored lighting and a level of detail that makes the film look more expensive than it actually is. Both 5.1 and 2.0 stereo mixes are included, both in lossless form on the blu-ray. The 5.1 mix was used for this review and it’s a lively affair with fun directional effects and a great, layered use of the synth-prog musical score.
There’s also a nice complement of extras created by the Astron-6 crew. A commentary featuring Brooks, Sweeney and Kennedy starts it all off. It’s very filmmaker minded, with tons of detail on the sets and locations, stories about the cast (including some fun Udo Kier anecdotes) and details on all the films that The Editor pays homage to.
Next up is a 51-minute making of featurette with tons of behind-the-scenes footage. It chronicles the film from its genesis as a contest entry to finished product, with details on the poster and FX. Kier is an MVP here, cracking funny in a slyly surreal way on the set. It’s interesting to note that the filmmakers show the bumps in the road to completing the film, including some budget trouble that almost derailed it.
Two more featurettes are done in a mock-doc style, allowing two composers and one of the poster artists to relate surreal, satirical accounts of their work on the film. Even better in this vein is a video intro they did for a festival screening, using primitive video and chyron techniques to achieve a Tim & Eric-style effect. A quartet of brief deleted scenes round the package out: the best is a confrontation between Rey and Peter on a bridge.