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August Underground's Mordum
Directed by Fred Vogel
Released by Toe Tag Pictures
Review By: Matthew Dean Hill
DVD Source: Xploited Cinema.com

Brief Review: "August Underground's Mordum" is a piece of vile, sleazy, horrific, justifiably maligned, and incredibly effective filmmaking. It stands, unqualified, as one of the most disgusting, depressing, and filthy works of cinematic art that this reviewer has ever seen. Notice I said "art"...

"Mordum" is one of those films that transcends...without the intervention of the people behind it...typical genre conventions and expectations by being far more than the sum of its components. Here is a movie that was, evidently, shot on a home video camera for very little money...and what money they had was spent on the special effects. The cast is composed of (largely) the same people that are "behind the camera", and the plot (heh) is as barebones as they come, which is to say "practically nonexistent". In spite of (or perhaps because of) these limitations, Vogel and his cohorts have crafted what is simply one of the most unnerving, disturbing, realistic, and most fully realized portrayals of the socio/psychopathic mind ever committed to...erm..."film". That realism is not without its downsides, however. I can't imagine anyone (myself included) sitting in a room with anyone closely related to the making of "Mordum" without feeling at least a little bit uncomfortable. These folks are so committed to making their illusion work that, in my mind, they are almost inseperable from their onscreen counterparts. I'm sure that Fred Vogel is a nice enough fellow, and my logical mind tells me that he is simply a filmmaker, but I would still feel exposed and somehow a little uncomfortable (at least at first) having a friendly chat with him. I mean, who knows, right? Is this guy gonna pull out a hammer and start pounding my head in with it, or what? Seriously, I think maybe I've overstated it a bit...but the point is that Vogel and his cast and crew manage to build an atmosphere of bloody, filthy realism that is truly palpable; so much so that the line between what is real and what isn't becomes irreparably blurred. So, what's it about? Well...

The synopsis...
Well, that's kind of a joke, really...to "synopsize" this film is a bit of an exercise in futility, as the story is mainly concerned with moving a trio of lowlifes from one place to another, whilst allowing them to brutally rape, murder, and generally destroy a variety of other lowlife-types. To say that these people are severly sociopathic is perhaps the understatement of the century. To its credit, "Mordum" presents the most vividly accurate portrayal of extreme sociopathic, murderous behavior ever put to film. Now, stop for a moment and look at that last sentence. Read it again. Yes, you read that correctly. There have been many films that developed reputations as being as close to "real" snuff as possible. Most notably among those, of course, is the "Flower of Flesh and Blood" episode of the notorious "Guinea Pig" series. Well, having seen and carefully analyzed both films (and taken long, cleansing showers afterward), I can safely say that "Mordum" is the new "king" of simulated snuff. That's quite a dubious honor, however, as I can't imagine these folks ever being able to live normal lives after being involved with something so incredibly fucking sick. Seriously, folks. This is one disturbing, fucked-up, gets-under-your-skin-and-causes-a-serious-infection kind of movie.

The synopsis...
The list of...erm...atrocities committed in "Mordum" is nearly endless, but here's a small sampling:
Girl repeatedly pukes on two other girls, forces them to eat the vomit, and then the two girls are slaughtered.
A man is forced to castrate himself with scissors, and the severed dick is then fellated by a girl. To top this scene off, the guy's helpless, bound girlfriend is then raped with the severed dick, before being killed, of course.
A guy fucks the rotting corpse of a very (very) young girl in a bathtub.
Same guy later fucks a gaping abdominal wound in another fresh corpse.
...and on, and on, and on...
But, to me, the scene that "takes the prize" for grossest and most disturbing is as follows: the three "main" psychos visit the personal murder-workshop/corpse storage shed of another sick-fuck friend, where the guy proudly reveals a plastic drum containing what appears to be the corpse of an infant...without its head. The corpse is rotting and convincingly bloated, and the headless neck is crawling with maggots. One of our "heroes" proceeds to pick maggots off of the corpse and eat them...in up-close, unflinching detail. Can I just say that even this hardened reviewer can feel the vomit coming as he's typing this stuff?

There are two elements that make "Mordum" rise above simply being simulated snuff. First up are the effects. I've seen effects...I've done effects...and people, these are some of the most convincing, realistic, and brutally graphic effects I have ever seen. The filmmakers aren't shy about using them, either. I can't imagine there ever being a "cut" version of "Mordum"...it would be like 30 seconds long! It just ain't possible. In fact, the film can almost be seen as an elaborate "effects reel", wherein the artists show just what they're capable of pulling off on a practically nonexistent budget. Kudos, for that! The other element that takes the film to a "higher" level are the performances. These folks are certainly to be commended...most of the performances are absolutely seamless, so much so that one starts to question whether or not they are actually like that in real life. That said, there isn't really anything else I can say to recommend "Mordum". In general, this plotless, pointless film would be almost boring if not for the exemplary effects work and convincing performances. Vogel and crew try to evoke madness, and they certainly succeed, but the acts themselves are so over-the-top and brutal that they detract from the tension. Any tension created is only due to the viewer wondering desperately what hideous thing these people will do next.

Rarely, if ever, has this reviewer been truly "disgusted" by a film...but "Mordum" certainly comes close to doing just that. It's gritty, dark, gloomy, and totally disgusting. I can't, in good conscience, say that you'll "like" this film, but I still strongly recommend it. In fact, I think it represents the state-of-the-art in cinematic depravity and gore (for the sake of depravity and gore). So often on this site, we horror fans try to find subtext or social critique in the films we so love, if only to help distance ourselves from the sheer ickiness to which we constantly and instinctually expose ourselves. With "Mordum", that isn't possible. To watch this film is to be an "accomplice" of sorts. To view "Mordum" is to look into the eye of disease. To experience "Mordum" is to experience the very meaning of "extreme horror", and for that reason, I give it my highest possible recommendation. However, be forewarned that you will never be the same again. It's powerfully sick stuff, and it really does make you feel dirty, but it's for those very reasons that it's such a supremely effective and satisfying horror film.

This DVD can be downright hard to come by...you can order it directly through Toe Tag, or you can do what I did and support the "little guy"...namely, Xploited Cinema.com. Imagine my surprise when I ordered this film and they sent me a genuine "autographed" copy of the film, featuring the signatures of the four main folks behind the film! Kick ass! Anyway, the DVD itself is, like the plot of the film, pretty barebones. There are a couple of trailers for other Toe Tag Pictures releases, a handful of equally disgusting deleted scenes (one of which was clearly deleted because the actors couldn't keep a straight face while filming it), the obligatory stills gallery, and some music videos. The full-frame video transfer is, as expected, crappy. But, that's only because it's supposed to be crappy. As I understand it, "Mordum" was shot on digital video and then degraded several generations so as to heighten the gritty look and feel of the film (and it works). The sound, likewise, is rough, choppy, and scratchy, but again, this only works in the film's favor. All in all, not a bad package, and it's probably the best edition that this film will ever see.

One closing comment: I have spewed a lot of hyperbole about "August Underground's Mordum" in the last several paragraphs, but ultimately, there are only two kinds of people who will ever need to see this film. Category one is the group to which I (thankfully) belong: the curious collector of extreme cinema. The other group...and it scares me to think about this (yet another aspect of the film that's so effective)...is the group that will take this film as some sort of justification for their actions or feelings. Let's get this straight right now, before I go take another shower...
"August Underground's Mordum", no matter what I or anyone else can possibly write about it, is a movie. That's all. It's not a guidebook. It's not a couple of people patting you on the back saying "it's ok for you to want to eat maggots off of dead babies". It's just an entertainment...albeit a highly terrifying, incredibly perverse, and downright disgusting entertainment.
Highly recommended...but please, for your own sake....please be aware of what your getting yourself into by watching it. Have fun, people...that's what it's all about!

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