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John’s Horror Corner: Mandy (2018), like a hallucinogenic graphic novel fever dream of Heavy Metal, nightmare fuel, and next-level Nic Caginess.

December 23, 2018

MY CALL: This is a hallucinatory headtrip of scintillating beauty and unsightly brutality.  MOVIES LIKE Mandy: Hard to say… Perhaps Antichrist (2009) or Natural Born Killers (1994).

Red (Nic Cage; Mom and Dad, Drive Angry) and Mandy (Andrea Riseborough; Oblivion) seem to exist in a magically intoxicating cabin in the woods, their life peaceful and euphoric. Despite their obvious deep connection, there is a general disconnection with reality permeating all aspects of their world… except, of course, their undeniable kismetic link to one another. I’m reminded of the disorienting surreality of Antichrist (2009) or Natural Born Killers (1994).

Their quiet, otherwise simple, life is shattered when the disturbed leader (Linus Roache; Vikings, The Forgotten) of a cult of spiritual zealots sees Mandy and finds the debilitating need for her. This is where things start to get really weird. A man blows the (perhaps magical) “horn of Abraxus” and apparently summons biker Cenobites to collect Mandy and facilitate Red’s suffering as he witnesses everything.

This trance-like film really lets Nic Cage spread the wings of his mania to full span. He has manic screaming contests with himself, he blacksmiths a Final Fantasy weapon of his revenge which I could only describe as a Klingon fire axe, he cackles with his face doused in the blood of the throat he just slit, and… well… more Nic Caginess. It’s like a vastly extended cut of the last 30 minutes of The Hills Have Eyes (2006) mixed with a mean acid trip!

Cage spends half the film with his face splattered in blood as he works his way through biker Cenobites like videogame bosses, one after another. We have ax-fighting, all-out living room brawling to the death, and a blood-splattering chainsaw duel. Needless to say, this film was stimulating!

An excerpt from Mark’s review of Mandy

Mandy is so much more than a “Nic Cage freaking out” movie, and I’m certain it will become a cult classic that is celebrated at midnight screenings full of loving fans who celebrate every blood splurt that sprays in Nic Cage’s face. It can best be described as a thrilling experience that bombards your senses with bright colors, loud noises and ultra-violence, that will either make you cheer or cringe.”

The blood runs abundantly amid the brutal Mad Max-ian violence as if they were the final surviving villains and heroes of the Apocalypse. Yet, interspersing all the physical mayhem are stylistic Heavy Metal-esque (1981) animated scenes (e.g., nude Mandy) and silhouetted action shots (e.g., the head throwing) reminiscent of Frank Miller’s Sin City (2005). The eye-popping head squeeze was another such delight.

All the hazy pink, red and purple light filters were simply dream-like. I just can’t get over how powerful some of the photography is in this film; whether ominous or gorgeous. And this film is just so metal! From the time of Mandy’s abduction, I feel as if I could watch the movie on mute and simply play an old Pantera, Sound Garden or Sepultura album to score it.

Let’s keep an eye out for whatever director Panos Cosmatos decides to pursue next.

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