Saturday, August 2, 2014

"Death Scenes 3" (1993) d/ Nick Bougas

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...And then there's the third in Nick Bougas' shockumentary series, the aptly-named Death Scenes 3, or if you're following along on dvd, Death Scenes 2 (It seems that the folks at Anthem Pictures have done us all solid and mixed up the numbers when releasing the set on disc, with Death Scenes 2 being touted as the first, the third as the second, and the first as the third...confused yet? Well, at least you aren't nauseous. That'll probably come later.). Lots more attention is paid to the art of dying, and all the various ways a person can begin to do so for themselves, but at the risk of giving too much away, too early in the review, allow me to relate that sometimes, as is the case here, more really means less. Onward...

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Vasilisa reacts to seeing her first Che Guevara t-shirt from the West.
If watching shabby black and white footage of charred baby corpses being chucked onto flatbed trucks while babushka-ed up Russian broads weep unconsolably  amid sub-zero temperatures is your bag, then you'll dig the introductory segment of tonight's review, which...surprise! focuses on war atrocities captured on camera in Russia, Peru, Bosnia, and Poland, among others, with lots of unpleasantly grotesque remains displaying their best frozen, sardonic death-grins, photographed for your pleasure. Next, we blow the dust off of a 1945 newsreel of a lifeless Mussolini strung up upside down next to his equally dead mistress, Clara Petracci, by a mob of angry Milanese partisans that some of us may have seen before, at some point. After some blurry firing squad footage, we see the Ceausescu's frantically plead for their lives before being stood up against a wall and mowed down like a couple of boisterous Romanian dandelions. Then some highway patrolmen face armed resistance with varying degrees of success (one shoots his attacker, the other gets iced) via well-placed dashcam. After which, we see an ex-husband empty a clip into his former spouse's skullpiece on Spanish television, and the father of a molested boy puts the responsible nonce down with a bullet behind the ear, at an airport, for his kiddy-fiddling ways.

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In Russia,  my little lyubimiy, head gives you.
Then, it's back to aging newsreels, as we see King Alexander of France rue forgetting to wear his kevlar vest that fateful day. Algerian terrorist bombs lead us to a segment dealing with accidents and disasters: faulty hot air balloons, suicide jumpers during high rise fires, fighter jet crashes, and massive runaway logs rolling over helpless Japanese spectators, before the documentary switches gears again. What about monstrous, birth defected, stillborn freak-children in jars, you ask? Oh, there's quite a collection of fascinating-looking little mistakes for the viewer to gawk at, here. Forensic images follow, with some slit necks, gun-blasted headpieces, burn victims, and mummified corpses offered up. A drowned Otis Redding is fished out of the bay, and we're then treated to the same crime scene and morgue table photographs of the Manson murders that we were shown in Part 2. Next, Jim Jones serves his followers, thirsty for the afterlife, some grape-flavored cyanide ("Oh YEAH!") before things are wrapped up neatly with an entire washed out instructional film on autopsy from the sixties. Though an electric saw to remove the skull cap is less time-consuming, remember, a hand saw is more solicitous, especially if an infectious process is suspected within the cranium. Thanks, Death Scenes 3.

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You can always dye him blue and use him as a Game of Life token...
Far and away the weakest in the series, this third entry mostly compiles footage borrowed from earlier mondo documentaries like Africa addio (1966), well-traveled newsreels that nobody'd ever describe as recent, hell, it even borrows rehashed footage from it's own first two entries, ferchrissakes. Some of the less ancient clips also ended up in 1994's straight to video release,  L.A. Gang Violence, but you've seen one tearful Crip spilling malt liquor on the concrete as memorial to his dead homie, you've pretty much seen 'em all, haven't you? Though many of the lesser, snooze-worthy real death shockumentaries of the era would resort to grainy, recycled footage (Death in Focus, Death Faces, Inhumanities, et al), I'd come to expect more (less?) from this series, after being lulled by two sickeningly stellar examples of the shockumentary sub-genre. I guess, in the mad rush to release a third effort,  the producers ignored their lack of remaining material and went ahead and gave us this. Completists might want it for their genre shelves, but it's nothing special. Two wops.

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You're gonna wanna check on yours after watching this one, to make sure it isn't damaged by the experience.
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