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A Taste of Phobia - Artsploitation Films Print E-mail
User Rating: / 7
Written by Jay Creepy   
Friday, 20 April 2018
Severed Cinema Review of A Taste of Phobia from Artsploitation Films




Directed by:
Domiziano Cristopharo, Michael J Epstein, Lorenzo Zanoni, Sophia Cacciola, Chris Milewski, Jason Impey, Sunny King, Sam Mason-Bell, Tony Newton, Rob Ulitski, Dustin Ferguson, Alessandro Giordani, Alessandro Redaelli.
Written by:
Michael J. Epstein, Sophia Cacciola, Andrea Cavaletto, Domiziano Cristopharo, Chris Milewski, Alessandro Giordani, Ruggero Melis, Tony Newton, Alessandro Redaelli, Luca Nicolai.
Produced by:
Domiziano Cristopharo, Chris Milewski, Tony Newton, Alessandro Giordani, Vestra Pictures, The Enchanted Artist, Sam Mason Bell.
Editing by:
Alessandro Redaelli, Dustin Ferguson, Sam Mason Bell, Alessandro Giordani, Chris Milewski, Michael J Epstein, Davide Pesca, Francesco Foletto.
Music by:
Antriksh Bali, Francesco Petronelli, Antonio Ministeri, Gabriele Gambera, Giorgio Bertuccelli, Antony Goia, Michael J Epstein.
Special Effects by:
Paolo Panczyk, Jason Impey, Davide Pesca, Camilla Spalvieri, Athanasius Pernaith, Emma Cicagna, Athanasius Pernaith, Domiziano Cristopharo. Cast: Martin W. Payne, Michael J Epstein, Roberta Gemma, Laura Covey, Terry Reilly, Karen Lynn, Ernesto Pantaleoni, Mark Thompson-Ashworth, Vincenzo Zaccardi, Kyle Major, Edwin Garcia, Michael Maggi, Elisa Collo, Tyler Sage, Clint Beaver, Betty Waterhouse, Sam Mason Bell, Marika Akarepi.
Year: 2017
Country: USA
Language: English
Runtime: 1h 30min

Studio: Enchanted Architect, Vestra Pictures
Distributor: Artsploitation Films

The POE series of anthology tales (see review for POE 4: The Black Cat here) are plentiful and crammed with chills, plus nifty visuals reflecting the varied styles of the directors who work on them. Regulars such as Domiziano Cristopharo rub shoulders with talents such as Chris Milewski and Francesco Campanini, to form a mixed bag of hits and, sometimes misses, but always entertaining anthology sets.

This time around, this underground regular gang bang, has moved away from the POE idea and into something else. A Taste of Phobia (aka PHOBIA) packs no more and no less than fifteen directors into a telephone box 90 minutes running time, presenting naturally shorter stories. There's fourteen altogether. Whoa! Before they all suffocated, the Guinness World Record was in fact won, beating the twelve director affair, Tar.

Dominziano and Chris return, and are joined for this crimson royal rumble by names like Jason (Necrophiliac: The Lustful Dead, 2 Die For, O' Bloody Night) Impey, Michael (Blood of the Tribades, Magnetic) Epstein, Lauand (Curse of Mesopotamia) Omar and Sophia Cacciola, who co-directs with Michael Epstein. So take those indie names and place many more in the cocktail, surely PHOBIA has whetted your flesh gorging appetite by now?

Opening with a bored looking lady on her sofa, then flicking on the TV – segment one begins and translates as a Fear of Hair. After an industrial blazing opening credits, we are introduced to a nervous lass tied in a sparse basement as, up above in the house, a chap applies coverings to a couple of cuts on his body after razor cutting all of his hair off whilst playing loud as hell classical music which rips through the basement. After a fair amount of struggling, she frees herself from her bonds and battles the locked exit.

Noisily getting out of that predicament, she sneaks round the huge edifice – and our sudden first glimpse of him is nothing short of astonishing. Hairless with trance like glaring eyes. Cool. Turns out he's a rather intense no messing around kind of skinny brute.

Seriously,” she cries, “You're fucked up dude! You're fucked up!” Fair enough. As we witness, he is quite rightly fucked up in the head. As an opening tale, it's an attention grabber. Doesn't make much sense and is short, but does its job.

Next up comes Severed Cinema regular, Chris Milewski, with Pharmacophobia – which speaks for itself, a Fear of Medication. We're deep into Chris and his dreamy Italian inspired world. His direction and visuals tend to be very recognisable. The bloke we see now, John, is truly heavy headed and crammed to the lid with snot. He's ill, as his waste bin filled with snotty tissues testifies. Speaking on the phone, he states he never touches medication of any kind. “Those pharmaceutical companies don't care about you. They just want to make easy money by selling poison to the public.”  He drifts off to sleep and has some wild dream experiences.

Back to reality and mucus everywhere, it seems a friend, Lorna (played by regular face, Karen Widdoss – Chris' fiancée) has left him a bottle of medicine. John, for the first time, takes some and suffers side effects due to contamination at the manufacturers. To be honest, it's not the best Milewski short I have seen, but it makes a bit more sense than the prior in this anthology but lacks any real impact and plays it almost humorously. Something different from his usual gothic leanings, but, to me, it is a shallow piece of work.

Next up there's a Fear of Virgins (or 'vergins' as spelt on the promo copy) and a short about making a porno movie – again played with a bit of humour and at least has a more complete ending. Coprophobia is the Fear of Faeces. I used to know a woman who had this fear, I worked with her for a year or so and she told me that her phobia was centralized on the actual smell. The guy in this story has the whole nine yards. Every time through his life he must have struggled against his own fears and revulsion. Actor, Martin W. Payne, of Beyond Lies, K-Shop and Gore Theatre, is simply outstanding, portraying the poor fella in a realistic and gut-wrenching fashion, dealing with some really trippy ideas in the script. A good and sad conclusion makes this the best so far. Thanks, Jason Impey.

Back to the girl who was at the start, and she's looking rather frustrated at what she's watching but cannot change the channel. Thus we carry on deeper and deeper. A Fear of Germs has that overhanging sense of sadness akin to the prior faeces segment. The men are both trapped by their own fears in a prison – one caused by sheer terror, the other by anal routine and avoiding dirt. There's some awfully camp animated roaches and they somehow add to the despair. Great writing by Domiziano and Tony for this one. However, medal of honour goes to Vincenzo Zaccardi as the suffering character. In fact I watched this three times and really sank into the way Vincenzo carries this, he works hard and impresses because it looks so damn real. If you've seen Der Todesking (see review here) this kind of compares to the harrowing Sunday part.

Astrophobia – a Fear of Stars, is very well filmed, very hypnotic and paces itself out giving us time to take in the meeting of a man and a woman, then the simple moment of looking up into the vast scope of stars above collapses his notions of life. Alessandro Giordani, hopefully, will make this into a longer film one day with blessings, it is so full of ideas it needs more of a time scale to operate within completely.

In this reviewer’s opinion the arrival of chapter five, the Fear of Germs of course, truly upped the game and (aside from Mazeophobia, which did absolutely nothing for me) everything else beyond climbs higher and higher rightfully placed in correct levels. Domiziano's own entry deals with a Fear of Cooking and again carries an aura of dread as a lady busies herself in her kitchen until she is inundated with horrifying hallucinations including a fantastic talking fish.

Our wraparound girl is still coming to terms with what she watches. We can hear a few odd noises from the TV, yet she is somehow becoming engrossed, it seems.

Fear of Ageing, I suppose deals with a fear many have. In this case, a male model who feels his face is “rotting” wants to take steps to changing himself – a 'swap'. “I'll be thirty in a year, then I can wave my chances goodbye!” This is a great sci-fi horror, and operates again as a 'could be a big movie' concept. Next is probably described as an interlude in proceedings. Jackson Batchelor gives us a short experimental piece – Fear of Politics, and it drives its point over and over, but is amusing nonetheless. Fear of Sleep (Somniphobia) by Michael J. Epstein and Sophia Cacciola has a suffering chap (played to perfection by Mike himself) who is desperate to stay awake after receiving a nasty surprise in his Chinese takeaway.

Neatly placed after that one is Sam Mason-Bell's Oneirophobia – Fear of Dreams. This one is kind of experimental but straight to the point as a girl is controlled by her (weirdly erotic) nightmares, accompanied by some Fulci sounding music. Fear of Dark has Mary whom sees shapes and shadows in the night. This one gleefully has fun poking into the mind of probably many viewers that feel the same about the darkness. One by one, Mary's lights go out. Oh yeah.

We end as we began, our girl watching the TV – this is the Fear of Blood and it takes no prisoners in its brutality because now we see everything she sees – and more. It doesn't make much sense, but so what? Fear of Blood closes the door on this collection neatly.

A Taste of Phobia shows that there is a nice underground still existing in Italy, as well as many other countries. I focus on Italy because I feel the country gets ignored a lot ever since the collapse of the industry back in its golden era. In fact, the UK, USA, and Nigeria put in great pieces to this wild jigsaw along the way. Most are well shot, written with thought, and have cool music which ups the tension here and there. Plus some sublime effects work and gore for the crimson lovers out there.

My only criticism is the placement of stories to begin. The first three are among the weaker and could put some folks off who don't know what they're getting into. Great to grip the fans, but casual viewers also become fans if treated well. I felt at least one of those three needed to be later in the movie thus bringing a more quality treatment to the forefront.

I don't want to cherry pick a favorite story because I overall enjoyed a majority of them. I will instead salute the acting talents of Martin W. Payne, Laura Covey, Michael J Epstein, and especially Vincenzo Zaccardi! Man, his chapter floored me.

A Taste of Phobia is due out in the summer via Artsploitation Films.



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