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August Underground Mordum Main

August Underground's Mordum Blu-ray Review

Written by Robert Gold

Blu-ray released by Unearthed Films

Directed by Fred Vogel, Cristie Whiles, Killjoy, Jerami Cruise and Michael Todd Schneider
Written by Killjoy, Cristie Whiles and Fred Vogel
2003, 81 minutes, Not Rated
Released on October 10th, 2023

Fred Vogel as Peter Mountain
Cristie Whiles as Crusty
Michael T. Schneider as Maggot
Frank “Killjoy” Pucci as Killjoy

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It’s been two years since the exploits of Peter Mountain and his unidentified accomplice. When we last saw them, they were chasing down a would-be victim who had escaped their clutches. I can only assume it did not end well for her, as Peter remains free to do whatever he wishes. His original buddy/camera operator is nowhere to be seen, but our anti-hero has made new friends. Peter has somehow found an equally psychotic girlfriend named Crusty, a despicable woman who self-mutilates and is a little too intimate with her brother. Joining the fun is Maggot, a guy who will have sex with anything, including fresh stab wounds and dead children. Also along for the ride is a fourth killer named Killjoy, who works during the day as an accountant. Together, these four shit-birds run amok on an endless killing spree.

In 2001, Fred Vogel unleashed his confrontational cinema effort August Underground, which took the underground indie scene by storm, firmly placing his company Toetag Pictures on the map. Two years later, Vogel returned to the well with August Underground’s Mordum. Watching the first film I had many thoughts, but “This flick needs a sequel!” was definitely not one of them. I found the original tedious and occasionally boring, as it went out of its way to show me just how shocking it could be.

Mordum follows the rules of a sequel and ups the ante considerably with more characters and a larger body count. We open on a voyeuristic peek at Peter Mountain’s unfaithful girlfriend in an incestuous act with her brother. From there we jump right in to the numerous scenes of torture, rape and squalor. One of my biggest pet peeves in movies is endless bickering, and boy does this one fall into that trap. Relying too heavily on harsh language and casual violence, the creators wallow in what they believe to be cutting edge deviant behavior.

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Written by Fred Vogel, Cristie Whiles and Frank “Killjoy” Pucci, who also star along with Michael T. Schneider (as Peter, Crusty, Killjoy and Maggot respectively), this is also a case where anyone who picks up the camera in this found footage opus is given a director credit (Vogel, Whiles, Killjoy, Schneider along with f/x artist Jerami Cruise). The only direction given to performances is “more!... bigger!”, resulting in a lot of yelling and over-the-top behavior. Where the first picture was a character study told through a series of grisly vignettes, Mordum somehow manages to dumb things down even more and plods along from one twisted scenario to the next. As ambitious as the group of filmmakers is, they fail on almost every level of creative storytelling and basic moviemaking.

Surprisingly, the film excels in its shortcomings, making the most of bad behavior. The gore and bloodshed are plentiful and more realistic than in part one and the f/x work is laudable. What Vogel and his team fail to grasp is sometimes less is more. We get scenes of incest, murder, torture, gratuitous vomiting, castration, rape, sexual assault, necrophilia and a disturbing dead baby. The filmmakers get credit for their dedication to the material, pushing the envelope at every opportunity, but by endlessly cranking things to eleven, audiences are concussed without an opportunity to catch their breath and likely to grow desensitized to the violence, robbing the film of its biggest draw. Mordum ends as ambiguously as the first, paving the way for the third chapter: August Underground’s Penance.

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Video and Audio:

Presented in the original 1.33:1 aspect ratio, it is difficult to gauge picture quality as anything but ugly, deliberately so. Shot on video, the end product was duped down about five generations before release giving it a rough-around-the-edges quality adding to its gritty realism. The film looks good and terrible, just as it should, so star ratings will be on a sliding scale.

An LPCM 2.0 stereo track gets the job done without blowing you away. The film is presented as a series of home movies, so there is no real sense of bass or surround channel activity. Outside of attending a concert in a club, there is no music to speak of, but sound effects are simple and effective. There are no subtitles available on this release, nor should there be in keeping with the illusion.

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Special Features:

There are two audio commentaries on this release, the first is an insightful and entertaining conversation with make-up effects artist Jerami Cruise, moderated by Ultra Violent Magazine’s Art Ettinger.

The second commentary features members of Toetag Pictures that is informative and more casual, but the audio is pretty low.

Mordum Lives (5 minutes) is a brief intro with director Fred Vogel.

Vogel returns for The Most Disturbing Scene (5 minutes), which is a subjective answer. His choice of scene I found less shocking than the scenes involving children.

In Remembering Killjoy (6 minutes), Vogel remembers his friend who worked on this film and was the singer for the death metal band Necrophagia.

Actor Michael T. Schneider sits for the segment A Family Affair of Love and Hate: An Interview with Michael Maggot (34 minutes). The piece starts with an intro from the character in 2002 before resuming in 2023.

Stephen Biro interviews Jerami Cruise (12 minutes) in an untitled segment that finds the make-up artist/production designer discussing his work.

Art Ettinger and Allan Sleeth talk about their time on set in another untitled interview (11 minutes).

There are three long form interviews with Vogel: one with Zoë Rose Smith (Ghouls magazine) (43 minutes), one with Dave Parker (43 minutes) and one with Severed Cinema titled Snuff Purgatory (57 minutes). All are insightful but cover much of the same ground with heavy repetition.

Necrophagia – Rue Morgue Disciple “Promo Video” (3 minutes).

Rue Morgue Disciple Behind the Scenes Gallery (8 minute) is a slideshow set to music.

Also included are a collection of seven deleted and three extended scenes deemed unworthy of the final cut.

Footage from the U.S. premiere (2003, 20 minutes) is a self-explanatory segment.

An extensive photo gallery plays as a slideshow (15 minutes).

I’m not sure why this was cut, but we get a look at the original animation from the film (:27 seconds).

Sickcess: A Necrophagia Mockumentary (38 minutes) takes a look at Killjoy’s band.

A trailer for Sickcess is also included.

Footage from a screening of Mordum at the Flashback Weekend convention (2004, 37 minutes) is presented here for completists.

There are two make-up demos from the same Flashback Weekend show: a Slit Throat Demo (2004, 56 minutes) and a much more involved Zombie Demo (2004, 105 minutes).

Wrapping things up is a trailer gallery for all three films in the August Underground franchise.

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Movie: Onestar Cover
Buy Amazon Us
Video: Twoandahalfstars
Audio: Threeandahalfstars
Features: Fourstars
Overall: 2.5 Star Rating

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About The Author
Robert Gold
Author: Robert Gold
Staff Reviewer - USA
Robert's favorite genres include horror (foreign and domestic), Asian cinema and pornography (foreign and domestic). His ability to seek out and enjoy shot on video (SOV) horror movies is unmatched. His love of films with a budget under $100,000 is unapologetic.
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