Dave Wain’s essential breakdown of this week’s cavalcade of straight-to-disc treats. Step inside the DTV Junkyard…

In contrast to my meandering indifference, ZH’s Matty is undoubtedly the chief flag waver in our imaginary office for Jon Knautz’s Girlhouse. I will though quite happily stand by the fact that Jack Brooks and The Shrine alone are enough to warrant every successive Knautz film to be something of great interest. His latest, GODDESS OF LOVE, underlines this by way of its dark, menacing air of psychotic hysteria.

After meeting Venus (Alexis Kendra), widower Brian (Woody Naismith) is instantly fascinated by her – not least the striking similarities she shares with his ex-wife. However, after a couple of months together, Brian ends the relationship leaving Venus a distraught, emotional wreck. Suspecting him of seeing another woman, Venus finds herself in a state of mental fragility, embarking on a mission of madness to try and win her former beau back.

“The most terrifying film of the year” says the ubiquitous rent-a-quote, Scream: The Horror Magazine, complete with five stars. Have they seen it? Wait… don’t answer that, their lawyers might be reading. Needless to say it’s not, BUT, it is a really great piece of psychological horror, thanks in no small part to Alexis Kendra’s portrayal of Venus. Kendra, having begun her career in the mediocre world of SyFy Channel originals with grot like Thor: Hammer of the Gods and Grendel, co-scripts here with director Knautz, and delivers a superbly nuanced descent into madness. Meanwhile, for Knautz, it’s a real departure from his work to date; exhibiting a more mature directorial hand the film has a strong visual style, and along with regular collaborator Ryan Shore’s perfectly pitched score, it’s certainly worth a pick up.

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Ugh, if VHS tapes had menu screens then they’d probably look just like the one on MARK OF THE WITCH; out of focus and badly rendered. Thankfully though, this minor quibble is pretty much the only negative thing I have to say about this quite excellent little feature. Appearing at the UK’s Frightfest Festival eighteen months ago, it seems to have been a long road to getting distribution over here, acquiring a name change too from its original title of Another.

Made for a frighteningly tiny budget of twenty-five thousand dollars, Jason Bognacki’s film introduces us to Jordyn (Paulie Redding), who in the wake of her eighteenth birthday celebrations, she finds herself drawn into a world of demonic possession, distorted realities and strange obsessions.

Beginning with a gorgeously chilling opening scene, complete with subdued Gregorian chanting and a fleeting shot of a raven, it’s abundantly clear as to the realm in which we’re headed. This superbly crafted eight minute pre-credit sequence lays the foundations just perfectly for this unsettling debut feature. Mainstream it most certainly isn’t though; choc-full of artistry as opposed to predictability, everything from its Gialli influenced style to its Lynchian attention to sound places it on that sparsely populated table at the back of the classroom marked ‘niche’. However, if a holiday from the tiresome excesses of regular DTV Junkyard fare appeals, and you fancy a trip into a surreal world of hypnotic imagery, then Mark of the Witch may be for you.

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Last and most certainly least this week is the instantly forgettable actioner 2 GUNS: ZERO TOLERANCE. No relation whatsoever to the Denzel Washington / Mark Wahlberg crowd-pleaser from a couple of years back, Wych Kaosayananda’s film is actually a new version of his 2012 film Angels, albeit with freshly shot Scott Adkins footage inserted.

The body of a naked and bound young woman is discovered, and quickly identified by a senior detective as the daughter of one of his oldest friends, Johnny (Dustin Nguyen), a man who will stop at nothing to make whoever is responsible pay.

Oh Taken, look what you did! Since the Luc Besson scripted behemoth took a quarter of a billion dollars at the worldwide box office, it seems that every cowboy in town is determined to jump on the revenge bandwagon. Kaosayananda’s film is lowest common denominator stuff – even worse than his own Ballistic: Ecks vs Sever – as poorly framed shots blend with an ill-paced narrative, while the Adkins inserts serve little purpose other than to slow proceedings down. On the plus side, Bangkok looks gorgeous, but sadly there’s little else to offer any positivity.

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