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DIRECTOR: Emanuele De Santi; Giulio De Santi RELEASE DATE: October 31, 2011 RATING (US): NR
CAST: Emanuele De Santi, Valeria Sannino et al.
// review by FlagrantWeeaboo

I've never seen a Giallo with much Rosso.

Sometimes it's a good idea to tell someone no. Don't put your head in the oven. Don't urinate on that electric fence. Don't skateboard jump over that chasm. And yet, they do. And our morbid curiosity requires that we watch, eyes glued to the upcoming tragedy, fixed and poised to see that which we knew was coming.

Adam Chaplin is no different. At any point, someone could have told visionary filmmaker, writer, musician (plus actor) Emanuele Di Santi that his passion project was not a good idea. And now, the world is better off as a result..? Because we have what could be simultaneously one of the best and worst movies ever created, such a trainwreck of cinema and yet also fine art that clearly belongs in a museum.

Adam Chaplin could be considered part of the Giallo genre (Italian for yellow) which features horror and detective themes, named after the yellow paperback books that inspired them. This genre of film has developed a reputation for being amateurish, but that lends to its unmistakable charm. Adam Chaplain could be described as amateurish, but considering the work that went into the film's practical effects, it would be insulting to so much as for a second even imply that there was a lack of talent or skill involved in the making of this film.

That said, while the film's practical effects are amazing, all the VFX was done in Blender and I feel like deducting a few points because Blender is free software and only capable of a fraction of what professional software like Maya or 3DS Max is capable of. Actually, I'll take it back. The VFX in the film are very much exactly what you'd expect to see in this particular film, like something from a direct-to-Syfy movie. Whether that is a positive or negative statement, I'm really not sure.

Adam Chaplin's rough premise is as follows: Our main character, Adam, is a ripped long-haired man with a chiseled face and a troubled past. He's seeking revenge for his wife's murder, who was burned to death in their home. With what little clues he has, Adam has pieced together that his wife was killed by a man named Denny, who is head of the futuristic secret fascist super police. Because of course there's a futuristic secret fascist super police, just like in real life. In order to get his revenge, Adam makes a pact with a demon that he lovingly refers to as Derek, and uses the demon's supernatural powers to decimate his enemies, culimating in a final show off with the man who burned his lover to death.

Uhhh... yeah.

Don't expect a story with any significant depth, but do expect a story that is clearly inspired by fast-paced anime. I am not merely making connections where there are none as the team behind this film were outwardly inspired by bloody anime such as Violence Jack, Urotsukidoji or Fist of the North Star. Much like in these anime films, viscera and blood are Adam Chaplin's stand-out special effects. The filmmakers used a spray jet and various epoxy resins to create a blood that hardened as it was being sprayed, emulating the way blood looks in anime. This system they nicknamed the HABS - Hyperrealistic Anime Blood Simulation - and it is used liberally during the film's many fight sequences. To call them fights is incredibly generous, as Adam will often defeat his enemies in one or a few hits. Whether it be chopping his enemies in half, caving them in, decapitating them or even ripping out part of their rib cage, Adam is like Kenshiro from Fist Of The North Star if he was a complete sociopath.

Speaking of, Fist of the North Star no doubt played a significant role in the film's visuals, story, structure, and battles. The film has definitely been inspired by many sources as previously mentioned, but it's simply impossible to understate how much influence Hokuto no Ken specifically had on the film. Our main character is jacked, tall and powerful, with martial arts prowess and incredible strength. There are people he needs to destroy for the sake of closure. The main villain, Denny, is quite similar to Fist of the North Star villain Jagi, both wearing a mask to keep their heads from exploding. Fights feature flurries of punches which are shot at slow speed then played in turbo to emulate the style of the hyper-violent '80s anime that defined the genre at the time, years before Robert Rodriguez perfected the style with Alita, but years after The Wachowskis planted the seeds of the style in The Matrix.

The film also carries a post-apocalyptic vibe, though I've been unable to track down any material about the film that confirms this. The environments are dark, dilapidated and unwelcoming, with torn up buildings and destroyed cities. I'd be comfortable saying that the film feels like it's set in a post-apocalyptic world, which intentional or not, adds immensely to how uncomfortable the setting is. And along with the setting, the soundtrack is wonderful and incredibly fitting. Lots of grungy electric guitar. Epic fight scenes are matched with epic guitar music. All composed and performed by the director himself.

Spoken dialogue is exclusively in Italian, overdubbed in that classic Giallo style. The Scanbox DVD release contains some spelling errors on the film's English subtitles, increasing in frequency near the end of the film. These don't mar this film; if anything they add to the sheer absurdity of the entire picture, but a Blu-ray release in 1080p with correct subtitles would be greatly appreciated. I'd like to see Arrow Films pick this film up, as they continuously knock it out of the park with their Blu-ray releases and restorations - Adam Chaplin deserves the Arrow treatment.

Adam Chaplin is not hard to recommend, but it is certainly a divisive film. I believe it has all the qualities of an instant cult classic, but that also means it's a film bound to wind up in obscurity. If you're interested in seeing a film I consider both a masterpiece and a "disasterpiece" in equal measure, then I'd highly recommend seeking out a copy of Adam Chaplin for your collection. This is a film for fans of violent anime, over the top practical effects and anybody who considers themselves a fan of horror.

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