Our editor-in-chief Nate Yapp is proud to have contributed to the new book Hidden Horror: A Celebration of 101 Underrated and Overlooked Fright Flicks, edited by Aaron Christensen. Another contributors include Anthony Timpone, B.J. Colangelo, Dave Alexander, Classic-Horror.com's own Robert C. Ring and John W. Bowen. Pick up a copy today from Amazon.com!

Desecration (1999)



Usually when I get a screener tape, its a super-indie film that 99% of horror fans will never see ever, but that probably deserve more than they're getting. With Desecration, the story is a little different. The film is easily available from Image Entertainment...and it may hold the very future of the genre in its director, Dante Tomaselli.

If anybody's managed to pull off an Italian horror film made in the United States, Tomaselli has done it. The entire movie looks, sounds, and feels like a good Eurohorror flick from the late 70s and early 80s. Dario Argento's visual influence is really apparent in some great scenes filled with moody colored light (much like Suspiria). However, to say that Desecration is a rip-off or a copycat is really doing it injustice. It suffers a madness all of its own.

Bobby's life isn't charmed...it isn't even semi-charmed (bay-bee). He watched his mother die when he was a toddler, he was brought up in a restrictive Catholic environment, and now he's accidentally killed a nun at his boarding school. Yup, he's got troubles. Oh, but now he's seeing the dead nun everywhere, and the ubiquitous "really strange stuff" starts popping up and "really bad things" begin happening.

Of course, any good fan of Italian horror knows that plot is incidental to imagery, and Desecration, the New Jersey cousin, follows the same idea. Actual, the plot is probably the least coherent one I've seen in awhile. The whole film follows the logic of a nightmare...both of the sleeping and the waking variety. Religious symbols are perverted, the clergy is both victim and assailant. There's a bloody death by common home/office supply that really struck me. It's all very wicked, and while things never quite make sense in the end, it leaves the senses reeling.

According to an interview at friendly competition Arrow in the Head, Tomaselli deliberately used Super-16mm cameras as opposed to the industry standard 35mm for the better color saturation. This is much like Argento's seeking out of outdated Technicolor stock for Suspiria. Just another incidental connection between a master and a master in the making.

The sound and the score here were simply amazing. The music never detracted from the action; it only added to the creepy atmosphere. Each sound effect was right in place, adding to each chill. It was almost a separate score of its own.

There were some minor problems with the film. I wasn't fond of the editing during the accidental death of the nun. It seemed off. Also, the acting was overdone by some of the cast, specifically Irma St. Paule (Bobby's grandmother). I really wish we could have had just a little more plot; I like style as well as anybody, but I felt the film could have stood to have a little more substance.

It's been too long since we've had somebody step forward and really pronounce themselves as a dedicated horror director and have them be really good at it at the same time. If his next outing, Horror, proves to be anywhere near as good as Desecration, you can count me in as an avid follower of Tomaselli's career. I await his future with an eager smile. Bring it on.