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February 7th, 2007

Gothkill…The Soul Collector: Mission Accomplished

by John Coakley

ericaknife.jpgI love the Pioneer Theater. Its programming is a reminder of what the East Village once was–eclectic and fearless. At this theater, I’ve seen Hal Hartley’s short films, a pretentiously lewd adaptation of George Battaille’s Story of the Eye, and a Christmas Eve screening of both Silent Night, Deadly Night films–infamous for their killer Santa Claus protagonist. The Pioneer is a champion of the underdog, of the talented filmmaker whose vision–for whatever reason–is considered unmarketable by mainstream Hollywood. So, it was the perfect place to see Gothkill…The Soul Collector.

Long-time readers may recall previous articles about Gothkill, a.k.a. the little horror film that could. Writer/Director JJ Connelly worked tirelessly to bring his vision to the big screen, dealing with casting issues, location problems, and an early backer who left JJ holding the bag. But the film is finally finished. After years of on-again, off-again work, the obvious question is: Does Gothkill accomplish its major goal of providing a scary good time?

Yes, it does. The film focuses on Nick Dread, a disgraced monk from Inquisition times who rebelled against the Church’s hypocrisy by making a deal with the Devil; Nick wants his own kingdom in Hell, but first he must claim 100,000 souls. Fortunately, he has all of the lifetimes he needs at his disposal. So, when Nick is executed in modern-day New York, he comes back by possessing a bright-eyed young girl who has just arrived in the big city to make her dreams come true. Her dreams probably didn’t include killing a dozen Goths in a Lower East Side nightclub, but that just makes her doing so all the more fun.

deadpriestess1.jpgFun is the operative word here. Gothkill is not a masterpiece. There are a few technical problems; for example, fake blood shouldn’t be pinkish in one scene and then orange-ish twenty minutes later. But Gothkill has other things going for it. Originality is one thing. Deals with the Devil may not be new to horror films, but Connelly’s spin on the premise is fresh. The gender confusion was also nice to see in a genre that is– sometimes unfairly–known for its sexism. And, Nick Dread is gleefully brought to life by Flambeaux, leader of the pyromaniacal party-makers known as the P-Cult–picture a more rugged version of Alan Cumming and you’ll get the idea. Much can be forgiven in a film if the villain is charismatic enough, and Flambeaux has charisma to spare.

sky.jpgUntil formal distribution is found, Gothkill…The Soul Collector will continue to be screened at festivals and parties. Go to www.gothkill.com and join the mailing list for information on future screenings. It will be worth your while.

Filed Under: Arts & Leisure | Events | New York

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