Review by Jude Felton
If Ryan Nicholson wasn’t such a damned nice guy, I would swear that there was something seriously wrong with him. Honestly, the levels in which he has taken, and continues to take, his films never cease to amaze me. It really is a pleasure to sit back and watch films in which nothing is taboo, and there is a genuine attempt made to further the extremes and boundaries in which he can take horror and exploitation.
The latest film, in its North American Premiere (once again at the Slaughter in Syracuse Underground Horror Film Festival 2014), is a further example of depravity, violence and of course nudity. Collar is also a return to the visual style of movies such as Gutterballs and Hanger, where the sleaze and grime oozes from the screen, as opposed to the colder style of handheld camera in Dead Nude Girls.
Visually similar, Collar may be to those films, but the style of narrative and general tone is further removed. For a start there are no real characters in which to root for, in the traditional sense, and there film itself seems to be a snapshot of the underbelly of society, rather than your typical start, middle and finish kind of film. Also, dare I say it, Collar is right up there with Nicholson’s best; it is certainly my favorite film of his. Damn it, I seem to say that after every film! However, everything about this film worked for me; from the style, the violence, the cold cruelty and, first and foremost, an absolutely stunning turn from actor Nick Principe.
Nick Principe plays Massive; a man who lives up to his name. A former priest, with a very shady past, who tortures himself and also allows himself to become the subject of two assholes who make ‘bum fight’ style videos. They record Massive maiming, killing and even raping his victims, all while the two miscreants record everything.
Into this horrific mix you can add cops, hookers, drug dealers, drug buyers and lesbians. Yes, Nicholson threw the kitchen sink at this fucker, and by god it all stuck.
As I mentioned before, it’s Principe who rules and destroys in this film. He barely says a word, aside from in some of the film’s flashback sequences, yet he still manages to relay the fear, hatred and inner turmoil of his character, whilst also laying waste to absolutely everyone he comes into contact with. A truly terrifying performance from the man.
During the film’s short running time, which is about 70 minutes, director Nicholson manages to shoehorn in plenty of graphic sex, violence and bodily dismemberment to satiate all but the most cynical gore hound. This is real, or reel, horror made by a fan for the fans, and even though some of the onscreen events are truly heinous, it is also great fun to watch. Hell, it even has one or two ‘happy’ moments!
Ryan Nicholson continues to feed from, give back to and fuel the underground horror genre, and is doing a terrific job in the process. Of course, everyone in Collar contributes to the success of the film, yet it is Nicholson who brings it all to life in one jaw-ripping, broken bottle-wielding atrocity.
Plotdigger Film fans will love Collar, as I would hope that all fans of true underground horror will. Collar looks like a film, and not a home movie, and for that I am truly grateful; the content of which is a gruesome treat to watch.
Collar was available on VHS from Vultra Video (it's sold out) and will see a release on DVD from Unearthed Films later this year.