Morbidly Beautiful

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Gore hounds rejoice! Brazil is raining blood on horror fans with the splattertastic, violent, insane horror flick, “Skull: The Mask”.

I’ve been watching horror movies for over forty years. That’s not me bragging, but as context for this statement: Rarely has a horror movie made me cheer and exclaim “goddamn!” in my theater seat, much less in the comfort of my living room. However, the Brazilian horror film Skull: The Mask made me do both.

Anhangá is the executioner of a pre-Colombian god named Tahawantinsupay. Anhangá is brought to life by use of a ritual mask attached to a human for the purpose of slaughter, ripping out hearts, and spilling as much blood as possible in the name of Tahawantinsupay.

In the Amazon forests in 1944, presumably at some point towards the end of World War II, the mask of Anhangá is to be used as the ultimate military weapon by a pseudo Nazi group. A human sacrifice to bring the mask to power fails as the mask rejects the potential human host.

In the present, an archaeological dig in the Amazon unearths the powerful mask, and it’s brought to São Paulo.

As the mask makes its way to the city, an investigation into missing children brings in disgraced policewoman, Detective Beatriz Obdias, to look for the children.

Manco is a street merchant, who has a mysterious relationship with a local priest. The nearby church seems to hold the belongings of Manco’s father who is possibly a revolutionary. The priest believes that the church is storing weapons and other items that Manco could use to start a new revolution. The truth, however, might be more sinister. Manco is wearing rings that signal that something evil is near. Back at his home, Manco opens a chest that holds the dismembered hand of his father. The decayed hand begins to burn, a portent of the evil to come.

The mask is on its way to a buyer, Mr. Tack, who has been kidnapping the children. Mr. Tack appears to be connected to the military group from the Amazon in 1944. He’s been searching for the mask to continue the experiments for using the mask as a military weapon.

The mask, however, is not a submissive and willing servant to mere humans. Anhangá’s mask makes  its escape and slaughters its way to a new, very large, human host. Once joined with its host, Anhangá is ready to slice, dice, and disembowel as many people as possible to appease his god.

Skull: The Mask is a non-stop gore-a-thon that mixes and homages different genres and movies.

The movie contains elements of police noir thriller, with accompanying sad jazz horn score. It goes cosmic with hallucinogenic trips in time and nods to John Carpenter’s The Thing, Peter Jackson’s Dead Alive. It also boasts the next best supernatural killer fans have seen since re-animated Jason Voorhees in the Friday the 13th franchise.

Once Anhangá pairs with a host, he essentially becomes a big, bad version of Jason complete with machete and an urge to kill in violent and unique ways.

You want blood? This movie has it. You want practical effects? This movie has that in spades. You will marvel at scenes of dismemberment and at least two face removals. You want sickening, twisted body horror? You’ve come to the right movie.

Skull is high energy; the story moves fast and rarely lets the audience catch its breath.

Even moments of police investigation are filled with some serious “wtf” moments.

Skull isn’t just an ode to splatter movies of the past, or an homage to 1980s-era horror. No, this movie is a goddamn flag planted defiantly, calling to horror fans who want something more than “elevated horror” or the safe, bloodless horror churned out year after year by movie studios.

Skull is a battle cry to lovers of gore and we, as fans, better answer the bell. You wanted viscera, you wanted blood, Skull has buckets of it.

What makes Skull even more incredible is the story of how the movie was made.

Directors Armando Fonseca and Kapel Furman discussed their film during an online Q&A at the Chattanooga Film Festival. The film took years to get from the start of production to release, but only took 16 days to film. The duo responsible for the special effects on Skull, which was working on a very low budget, were doing their first feature film job.

All of the cast and crew pulled together for their love of movies, horror, comic books, and 1980s era pro wrestling to create a magical film.

Skull: The Mask is the best horror movie I’ve seen this year, and I haven’t been this excited about a horror movie since Fede Alvarez’ Evil Dead (2013). Do whatever you can to see Skull: The Mask, preferably in a theater or drive-in theater, and definitely with your closest horror friends.

To quote the great AC/DC, “Blood on the street, blood on the rocks, blood in the gutter, every last drop…you want blood, you got it!”

Overall Rating (Out of 5 Butterflies): 5

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