Does HEADLESS Deliver the Gory Goods?

There’s a new sub-genre of horror slowly dragging itself from the underground. These films appear to be mostly throwbacks to the days of pure exploitation and like those films that screened on 42nd Street; these films are crowdsourced to fill the very specific needs of their patrons. These films lack any and all pretense and are not for the squeamish or politically correct.

Headless by Forbidden Films is one of these.

If you’re not familiar with Headless, it’s the film within the film that inspired the killer in Found. If you have no recollection of this film or these scenes, it’s probably because the version of Found you’ve seen was probably edited. When it came to trimming the Kickstarted version for mass consumption these scenes of a killer whose insane M.O. includes beheading the body, eating the eyes and then having sex with the severed head were thought to be too grisly for your run of the mill horror crowd and the first to go.

Found was the story of a Marty, a shy fifth-grader who’s bullied and takes refuge in horror films, something many horror geeks can relate to. One day he finds a human head in his brother’s closet, and he’s then torn between losing his brother and the safety of both himself and his family. Once unleashed the indie horror film spread like wildfire and quickly achieved cult status, with an extremely loyal fanbase.

Like all horror films the fans almost immediately clamored for a sequel or rather they wanted the strange film within the film Headless. Given the subject matter, even though Found made it into the mainstream, this was going to have to be a film made for the fans by the fans or there was no way this was going to be remotely close to what was in the original film. Headless was successfully funded with Arthur Cullipher, the special effects supervisor and associate producer on Found directing the spinoff.

Headless is more or less is the origin story of the rubber masked killer from Found and the morose circumstances that resulted in his very specific M.O. The film is a period piece taking place in 1978 as we see the killer guided through one ritualistic killing after another by a small boy in a with a white skull mask that communicates through a series of clicks. The killer doesn’t utter a word the entire film, neither does his pint-sized sidekick; instead exposition happens through flashbacks and a few surreal interludes allowing us to see through the killer’s eyes.

These surreal sequences manage to bring a surprisingly poignant narrative to the table and are the key to making Headless more than a simple sleaze-fest. It shows us how the masked killer sees the violence he creates and just why he does what he does. These glimpses invoked a very Guillermo del Toro-esque vibe in their execution, which was something I was not expecting and something completely new Headless brings to the table to help put in perspective the killer’s motives.

The only weakness in Headless has to be some of the performances. While the female lead and the killer are on point here, the rest of the cast is a mixed bag from scene to scene. The script gives the viewer exactly what they would want, while adding some nice touches to the mythology of the killer. Arthur Cullipher deals out the gore with utter glee in heaping portions, as you would expect, which coupled with some creepy cinematography definitely helps give the world its own look and feel.

Headless is visceral madness manifested on screen and will leave fans of the genre frothing at the mouth for more. While the film occasionally suffers from the trappings of its genre and budget, the film is a solid effort and definitely worth your time if you dug Found. While I will definitely forewarn you this film is not for everyone, it will definitely resonate with those looking for grotesque horror far from the beaten path. If anything in this review peaked your attention, definitely seek Headless out you can pick it up here.

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the author

When Dan is not watching movies, planning screenings of movies, writing about movies, he is often busy trying to write and direct his own. Dan is an award winning filmmaker hailing from Rocky’s hometown of Philadelphia, PA where he also writes for Geekadelphia and functions as their Arts and Entertainment editor. His film obsessions range from regional exploitation films of the 70s and 80s, to oddities from Italy or Japan and anything by Lars Von Trier. Dan is a lover of the lowbrow and obsessed with seeking out the films most folks have the good sense to not watch on repeat and is always on the hunt for the next “unwatchable” film.