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RATED Not Rated
STUDIO Unearthed Films
RUNNING TIME 77 minutes
• Stills Gallery
A throwback to the urban decay horror movies of 70s and 80s with just as much violence but a lot less sleazy charm.
Nick Principe, Aidan Dee, Mihola Terzic, Ronald Patrick Thompson, Mackenzie Murdock
“A rookie cop starts her shift like any other but soon it will all change for the worse. A derelict with a reputation of satanic violence, attacks the officer and collars her with a dog leash which is just the star to his abusive ritual.”
In the 70s and 80s there was a slew of horror films (not to mention various other exploitation fare) taking place in major urban areas, particularly New York and its surrounding boroughs. These films made these cities look like a post-apocalyptic wastelands populated by bums, prostitutes, drug addicts, and maniacs waiting around every corner to murder anyone stupid enough to wander too close. While there were some holdovers into the 90s and on this sleazy sub-genre largely died out by the end of the 80s. But movies such as Slime City, Basket Case, C.H.U.D., Street Trash, Maniac Cop (and sequels), Q the Winged Serpent, Maniac, Brain Damage, Frankenhooker, The Prowler, Neon Manics, Nomads, and Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (Eventually, Most of This Movie is Set on a Cruise Ship So Don’t Get Your Hopes Up) remain cult classics to this day.
There have been attempts to revitalize this genre (Adam Chaplain: Violent Avenger, Slime City Massacre, and Hobo With a Shotgun are all worthwhile throwbacks) but cities have changed character in the public’s mind and that sort of smutty storytelling seems dated now. Still, some film-makers are determined to try and catch lewd lightning in a bottle and that’s where Collar comes in.
Collar is directed by Ryan Nicholson. If you know Nicholson it’s likely from his films Live Feed or Gutterballs. He specializes in a certain type of horror film that you used to only be able to order out of the back of Fangoria magazine and the like. They’re made on the cheap, they’re extremely sleazy, they’re heavy on gore, light on plot, and female nudity is practically required in every scene. There’s lots of torture and bondage and even if you’re a hardcore gorehound you’re likely to walk away feeling slightly dirty afterwards. I did not know that this was a Ryan Nicholson movie when I chose to review it.
We open on a naked woman pleading for her life as a large man dressed in crazy-homeless-guy make-up (Nick Principe; Chromeskull from the Laid to Rest movies) knocks her down and repeatedly punches her in the face. That’s pretty much the movie’s thesis statement: “If you didn’t like that, watch something else.” Unfortunately I couldn’t watch something else because I picked this movie and I have to follow through because it’s my job.
I consider myself to be a fairly thick-skinned horror fan. I can roll with the punches and I do love a bit of the ‘ol ultraviolence, but movies like Collar are pretty much just about really raw and uncomfortably sexual violence. These movies have no real heroes, arcs, or even plot. It’s just a bunch of awful stuff happening for about 80 minutes and all the concentrated filth spewing forth is so overpowering that it goes from being really usetting to just extremely dull.
Still, Ryan Nicholson is better at making this type of movie than a lot of other people who have chosen this genre to be their mark on the world. There are several instances where Collar almost works, but it still falls into the trap of being a continuous train of sadistic set-pieces with very little to justify them.
The narrative centers around Principe’s crazy bum character as he goes around kidnapping and raping women. One of the women he captures is a prostitute, he’s filmed raping her and killing some bum who shows up to join in by two douchebags filming bum fights with their cell phones. The prositute’s pimp and his friend come to exact revenge and a couple of cops show up to see what’s going on. One of the officers, a woman whose girlfriend is pregnant with their first baby, becomes the object of the man’s affection so he strips her naked, ties her to a table, and puts a dog collar around her neck. Meanwhile the prostitute goes to the house of one of her Johns to see if he’ll let her borrow a knife so she can go back and kill the bum. This seems less like the plot of a movie and more like the grittiest Mad Lib ever.
As I said, parts of this movie work but they’re few and far between. The acting is okay (the standout is Ronald Patrick Thompson as the pimp Big J, he’s a lot more naturalistic in his line reading than anyone else in this movie) for this sort of movie and the cinematography, while uninspired, does manage to actually be well-lit enough to actually allow you to see what the hell is happening onscreen. If you’ve seen enough indie-horror movies then you know that that counts for a lot. Unfortunately the plot never rises above being a vehicle for gore effects and salacious violence and all the attempts at humor peppered throughout fall flat and are often cringe-worthy in their bad taste.
This movie has a target audience and I’ll fully admit that I am not it. If you do like these sorts of movies then you can certainly do a lot worse than Collar. But if, like me, you find them ugly, tedious, and boring then feel free to give this one a pass.
There’s a bare bones package here. The movie is presented in 1.85:1/16:9 with Dolby Digitla 2.0 sound.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars