FANTOM KILER AND THE TEMPEST

FANTOM KILER (2000)
Directed by Roman Nowicki
(85 mins approx.)

“This is the movie that censors, critics and feminists want to exist, and I hope they never get to see it.” Internet Movie Database.

On the outskirts of a small Polish town a woman is found naked and very dead. The Police fear a known serial killer has returned to his happy hunting ground. Soon more women turn up brutally murdered but for the police there is not one single clue to help them track down the killer.

Fantom Kiler has had some extreme reactions from some critics. One called it, ”the most misogynistic film since The New York Ripper” Here is the full quote:

“The Giallo genre is alive and well not only in Italy with Argento's Nonhosonno, but also in Poland of all places. The Giallo genre hasn't seen an entry this misogynistic since Fulci's New York Ripper. A killer is stalking sexy nubile young women in a Polish town and is leaving no clues to either his motives or his identity. All we do know is that he like his women naked and dead and in that order. Features an amazing crop of East European beauties! This is a fresh, innovative and often stylish shot on video feature and is a definite must see! Widescreen Subtitled.”

A review on the Internet Movie Database states that:

Fantom Kiler, a modern giallo from Poland that has made a lot of waves in the horror scene and goes far further than anyone ever has before. The result is a truly reprehensible, sickeningly misogynistic work that is impossible to defend”.

I, myself, think that “Misogyny” is powerfully emotive word, which is far too overused (and quite difficult to spell too). Alex Gianturco of The Johns Hopkins University News letter said: “Rarely has there been a word so frequently used, possessing so much destructive power; practically the hydrogen bomb of ad hominems in any debate involving feminist issues. It is remarkably effective; anyone so branded can expect to be soundly condemned by any right-thinking person for his or her alleged hatred of all things female. Like "Racist" or "Sexist", it is one of those hot-button words that can rip a person's reputation to shreds in seconds flat if it has even a shred of legitimacy behind it. It is perhaps not surprising that, given the word's power, its definition has been expanding over the years. By the dictionary, misogyny is the hatred of women, and a misogynist is someone who hates women. However, this has now changed. It would appear that, by the common usage, anyone who goes against certain doctrines of feminist theory is a misogynist.”

Maybe that’s why so many right-on critics love to slip into their politically correct horror reviews. But surely the phrases “politically correct” and “horror movie” should always be at odds with each other. Maybe some critics have forgotten that. Anyway if Fantom Kiler is misogynistic then it is in good company. Here is what people have said about a range of other films. And a little food for thought, if you are surprised at any of the following inclusions, then does that mean that you are unwittingly a misogynist?

Analysis This: “This is the worst misogynistic movie I've ever been subjected to in my life. It was required for a class, otherwise I would have walked out. If you as a woman want to be put down, go see this movie”.


Fatal Attraction: “Glenn Close got thousands of people to shout 'cunt' at Madison Square Gardens, which sounds quite cool until you remember that Close starred in Fatal Attraction, one of the most misogynistic movies ever made”

Death Becomes Her: “I loathed this movie. It's one of the most misogynistic movies I've ever seen”.

The Graduate: “one of the most richly misogynistic movies ever made”

American Beauty: “I see American Beauty as one of the most subtly misogynistic movies of the year, the Academy sees vindication”.

American Beauty again. “This hateful, misogynistic movie was, if not the worst film I saw last year, definitely the worst one I remember seeing”.

American Beauty yet again: “ What makes me reject my stomach content is that misogynistic movie American Beauty”

American Psycho: “Also, you can always try and look for American Psycho, quite possibly the most misogynistic film ever made”

The Woman (1939): “ It's still somewhat astonishing to remember that The Women was actually written by a woman, since it must be one of the most misogynistic movies ever made”

Species: “The most misogynistic movie I've seen in recent years has been Species, which left me utterly nauseated and repelled”.

Naked Killer, (1993). “This is a deeply misogynistic movie in which strong women are treated simultaneously as sex-objects and castrating lesbians”

Grease: “We forgive you this cheesy, misogynistic movie, John, because it led to such amazing opportunities in your career."

Scary Movie: “That this excruciatingly unfunny, misogynistic movie was so successful is truly one of the four horsemen”.

Scary Movie 2: “Where, a year ago, audiences laughed at the unalloyed audacity of the filmmakers and their lewd, phallocentric brand of comedy, the second time around, it just seems boring and decidedly misogynistic

It seems that misogyny runs the whole gamut of Cinema. Maybe, like beauty, misogyny is in the eye of the beholder.

As for the plot, well it is simple but not as straightforward as you may at first think. Although giallo-esque in style Fantom Kiler’s basic plot is far more classically based, slightly Gothic even. The main premise - that being the manifestation of hatred, was first penned by William Shakespeare’s The Tempest (1611) with Prospero’s invisible servant Ariel carrying out the magician’s requests. The idea of creating a monster to carry out one’s evil deeds was of course more firmly sculptured by Mary Shelly’s hideous progeny, Frankenstein (1818). A third story on a similar premise was "Fatal Planet" by Irving Block and Allen Adler which became the Sci-fi classic Forbidden Planet (1956) in which Dr. Morbius manifest his thoughts and dreams to terrible effect.

So how does Fantom Kiler fit in with this classic trilogy of tales? Fantom Kiler borrows from all three and adds a new element, that being hatred, a misogynistic hatred which is the fuel that powers the beast. In this small Polish town, all the men seem to be stupid, ignorant, incompetent and totally undesired by the glamorous and intellectually superior, opposite sex. The town simmers with male discontent that boils into a rich broth of hatred, spreading far and wide from the lowly Railway station cleaners such as Marek (“They’re all coming today, we get every kind of women, bitches, tarts and whores!”), right up to the sexist Police detectives investigating the case. (eg. Of a women who was found drilled to death the detective quips, “She certainly left this world with more holes in her than when she arrived”).

The townsmen, being good catholics have old-fashioned values and follow the teachings of the bible closely, hanging on every proverb, though some more than others, paying special attention to:

Corinthians 11: 7-9 “A man should certainly not cover his head, since he is the image of God and reflects God's glory; but a woman is the reflection of man's glory. For man did not come from woman; no, woman came from man; and man was not created for the sake of woman, but woman was created for the sake of man”.

Unfortunately for the disaffected men folk of the town, the words of Corinthians is falling on stony ground, which only helps to exasperate the situation.

Mixed in with this non too subtle observation of male chauvinism is the more obviously discernible giallo aspect, which I feel overshadows the more important statement that the director is trying to make. Unlike the aforementioned classics, in Fantom Kiler, we do not know who is creating the Kiler (Polish spelling). There are a few pretty obvious suspects but which one of them hates the women enough to convert his energy into a vengeful fantom? When you watch the film, it does seem pretty obvious but maybe this is a red herring, anyway I’m not going to give away the ending, which is always difficult when you have to explain the plot. So I shall say no more about it.

As for the film itself, it was obviously shot on an average budget but it does have a sense of style that many more expensive films seem to lack these days. The lighting is very good, the colours rich and the music is much better than many mainstream releases. Maybe the weakest area is the acting but as they are talking in a foreign language its almost impossible to judge. Fantom Kiler is not a gorfest as such but it makes up with this omission by being filled with some of the most audacious nudity mixed with the most outrageous situations to appear in a horror film. Some people won’t be that easily appeased but it did it for me.

For its very adult style and content the nearest thing I can liken Fantom Kiler to is a cinematic version of the outrageous Italian fumetti comic books from the eighties. If you’ve ever read those things, you’ll know what I’m talking about. So be warned: Fantom Kiler is not for the politically correct horror fan. It has a very strong “adult” content, woven into a horror setting. Its sick, slick, its stylish and it has a strong message but like Pasolini’s Salò the 120 Days of Sodom, that message may be lost in the outrageous imagery which, for many, may go just a bit too far. As one internet critic has said;

“Despite the lack of gore, the killings are amongst the most shocking I've ever seen in a movie….”

Fantom Kiler is available on the Teraz Films label, Poland (Pal and NTSC versions) and has also been released in France with French subs by Uncut Movies (Secam). Both versions are the same.

Fantom Kiler Two has now been released and Fantom Kiler 3 should see the light of a cathode ray later on this year. Maybe FK3 will redress the balance, maybe then the killer will be the creation of a misandrist. And you know what that is don’t you?

 

   

back to main menu