HEADLESS (2015) – Yes, Headless, one of the fictional films-within- the-film in the horror movie Found (2012) was released as a crowd-funded production earlier this year. Keeping consistent with the way Headless was presented in Found, the gore-drenched flick was filmed as if it was a “lost” horror movie from 1978.
That faithfulness was necessary in this case, so please don’t hold it against Headless even if you’re growing weary of the faux-1970’s sub-genre of movies – a sub-genre that is threatening to become as crowded as found-footage films.
Shane Beasley stars as the skull-masked killer, whose real name is never revealed. Beasley has the perfect “look” for this largely silent role and his tormented eyes convey the suffering his character is revealed to have gone through during his childhood and early teen years. Not that the suffering excuses his grotesque crimes, it’s just presented as back-story, like in the Filipino horror film The Road (2011).
The skull-masked killer often mutilates and kills men but in revenge for the twisted and sadistic torture his mother and sister inflicted on him when he was young and helpless the murderer reserves his greatest atrocities for his female victims. After various torments he beheads the women, eats one of their eyes and then fucks their decapitated craniums.
And those ugly scenes are shown in full humping nastiness all the way through to orgasmic screams from the skull-masked murderer. The sickness of these scenes increases as the movie progresses and eventually we see Skull Mask fucking his latest victim’s skull while standing atop a mound of more than a dozen of the decaying, headless corpses of his other recent prey.
But Headless is not just a horrific collection of decapitation killings and other maimings. We get surreal fantasies about human eyes growing on branches like berries to be happily gobbled up by Skull Mask. We see that while he fucks the skulls of his female victims he fantasizes about having sex with a bizarre humanoid female with no eyes and a malformed head.
Most of all we get glimpses of the madman’s childhood, and how he was abused and kept in a cage all the way to his early teen years. His mother (Emily Solt McGee) blamed him for his father leaving her and took out all her anger on the hapless little boy, even starving him for days on end before feeding him nothing but a rabbit’s head … raw.
The boy’s older sister (Jessica Schroeder) would taunt the caged boy and on one occassion made the pitiful parched child drink her urine to satisfy his aching thirst. When the young man at last escaped his cage in his early teens his first two victims were his vile mother and sibling.
The true stand-out element of Headless – an element that stays with you more than any of the depravity or violence – can be summed up in two words: Skull Boy (Kaden Miller). This shirtless, skull-headed little boy communicates with the killer solely by gestures or by snapping his teeth together in an eerie click-clacking sound.
Skull Boy could serve as THE definitive image from this movie. He’s part accomplice, part imaginary friend, part ghost and part Greek Chorus (well, if pantomime “choruses” were possible). The disturbing ending of the film leaves you pondering the exact nature of the reality of this malevolent figure.
The weakest part of the film comes in the form of the main character Jess (Kelsey Carlisle) and her lazy, good-for- nothing boyfiend Pete (Dave Parker). These two and their various friends are necessary to drive home the “1970’s-ishness” of the proceedings but wore out their welcome early on. You’ll actually cheer when Pete gets his cock cut off by Skull Mask.
Overall Headless masterfully expands upon the small portions glimpsed in Found. Director Arthur Cullipher did excellent work on what is probably the best example of extreme horror that 2015 will produce. And of course a shoutout must also be given to Todd Rigney’s novel Found for the original concept of the fictional film Headless inspiring his literary killer. And to Scott Schirmer for writing and directing the film version in 2012.
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