Friday, June 17, 2011

Candidate # 20

(September 2009)

Belonging to the school of international slashers-- which includes alumni like Austria’s 3 Tagen Bist Du Tot (Dead in Three Days), Norway’s Fritt Vilt (Cold Prey), and France’s Vertige (High Lane)-- Júlíus Kemp’s Harpoon: Reykjavik Whale Watching Massacre is Iceland’s winning entry in this global film movement which predated international zombie cinema for a good number of years.
Unlike the previous international slashers I’ve seen though (including those I mention above), Harpoon is the first one I’ve encountered that ultimately plays out as more than just a regular slasher with its cultural context and language changed. There’s a lurid ‘70’s horror vibe to it that makes this one an effective exercise in slash ‘n stalk as an international group of whale watchers encounters an unsavoury family of ex-whale hunters.
And I just couldn’t resist a film that has, a) amongst its cast, the original Leatherface, Gunnar Hansen, b) an interesting callback to Romero’s original Night of the Living Dead, and c) two Björk moments, one bizarre yet oddly moving, and the other, simply headbangingly insane.
Not to mention the fact that, in the end credits crawl, Clint Eastwood, Brad Pitt, and Barack Obama are acknowledged.
Not many films can boast that…

Parting shot: A review of 3 Tagen Bist Du Tot can be found in the Archive.

(Harpoon: Reykjavik Whale Watching Massacre DVD cover art courtesy of

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