Monday, May 16, 2011

Fantom Kiler (Roman Nowicki, 1998)

What do you call someone who has a thing for naked women? A nude buff? A bare lover? A heterosexual man with ill-defined abandonment issues? The reason I'm asking is because I'm always trying to understand the kind of mindset that would freely admit to being into such an unsavoury fetish, as the idea of looking at a person who isn't wearing any clothes is the epitome of mundane debasement. A compromise is sort of made in the erotic horror film, Fantom Kiler, a rare cinematic entity that dares to mix unconventional intercourse with acts of atypical homicide. Check this out: the women appear clothed and naked simultaneously. How is this done exactly? Why it's a simple editing trick. From of the perspective of the men doing the leering, two janitors (one sporting a faker-than-usual fake mustache) at a train station in rural Poland (or it could have been regular Poland, what do I know?), we're privy to what they see: the clothed reality (which, in most cases, could be called "a barely clothed reality," but a clothed one, nonetheless), and a place conjured up by their perverted imaginations where attractive women go about their daily routine in nothing but high heel shoes (the synthetic leather straps employed to keep the shoes affixed to their feet no doubt slowly digging into their limber ankles with every step they take). Interchanging between clothed and naked with the rapidity of a gazelle in a garter belt, director Roman Nowicki, a two-legged mammal who obviously has a soft spot for female nudity, must have realized that his bevy of babes couldn't start a scene off in a state of absolute nakedness. I mean, who wanders through an ominous-looking forest without any clothes on right from the get-go? In order to get his characters into an unclothed situation, one that is on the cusp of being plausible, he devises a series of half-baked yet ingenious scenarios.

The scenarios I dug the most were the ones that involved things as varied as blouse-destroying shrubbery (the pricklier, the better), nylon-based fan belt remedies, and feats of strength that revolved around anal fortitude and wooden spoons. Of course, not every victim in the Fantom Kiler universe is lucky enough to get a kooky clothing removal scenario to go with their ghastly demise. No, I'm afraid when time is limited, their clothes are unceremoniously ripped from their taut bodies like a slab of inexpensive burlap. I'm referring in particular to the agonizingly long sequence that takes place on the side of the road. The killer–who I'll dub, for the time being, "the cloth-like gauze killer"–is just about hammer his trusty chisel into the rectum of a hapless jean shorts enthusiast, when all of a sudden, this blonde woman (an Anne Heche look-a-like with low self-esteem) pops out of nowhere to ask the killer if he needs any help (she can't see the rectum or the woman attached to it). First of all, concealed rectum, notwithstanding, who asks a masked man in leather holding a hammer and a chisel if they need any help? And secondly, where did she come from? Anyway, he nonchalantly walks up to her and rips her clothes off; no fuss, no muss, no underwear.

His identity may be shrouded in mystery, but his hatred of women is right out in the open. Lurking in the forests of Poland, a faceless assassin has been eluding police for years now. Targeting women near a train station, we're subjected to a series of murder scenes involving a killer who dresses like Nash the Slash and a member of The Klinik circa 1988 (it's true, they dressed in leather coats as far back as '85, but I mostly know them from their late '80s "Plague" era). While some of the victims are dispatched in quick flashbacks (like the girl who writhed while a drill bit teased her hairless crawl space) or as a grisly afterthoughts (oh, Anne Heche look-a-like with low self-esteem, we hardly knew ya), the majority of the set pieces focus primarily on three winsome women of Eastern European extraction.

A bespectacled gal (Eliza Borecka) wearing a long black skirt with a humungous slit in the front is the first of the three women to get her moment in the stalker sun. Wandering into a busy (well, busy by Fantom Kiler standards) train station, the sophisticated woman, unabashedly flaunting the unequaled shapeliness of her left leg (it seductively pokes out from her skirt's ample slit every now and then), can't help but notice two janitors standing off to the side making a succession of lewd comments about her as she tries to light a cigarette. Imagining what she would look like without any clothes on, the two mop jockeys watch as she bounces back and forth from being clothed and naked over the course of the next few minutes.

Unnoticed by the bulk of the saps sitting in the audience, but the conflict that takes place between dressed and undressed in Fantom Kiler officially gets underway during this particular sequence. The carnage in the early going was staggering, as the amount of nudity on-screen was devastating. Other than a pair of black high heel shoes (with a matching lunchbox purse), loop earrings, glasses, a thong-shaped tan line (in my mind, tan lines count as clothing), and a modest patch of pubic hair cultivated in a manner that caused it to resemble a furry piano key, the woman was pretty much reduced to a walking bag of skin.

Severely wounded, the dressed faction launch a fierce counter attack by having her slip and fall in front of the two janitors. As you would expect, the tumble exaggerates the insanity of her skirt's slit, which, of course, produces a healthy dollop of titillation. You see, the skirt may be super long (the bottom grazes the straps of her shoes whilst standing), but the slit is so large that it negates the skirt's longness at every turn. If that wasn't enough, the fall somehow causes the buttons on her white blouse to become unbuttoned. The hiked up skirt combined with the unbuttoned blouse enables the advocates for a world where fully-clothed erotica still matters to even up the score. Of course, I'm not going to do a detailed, to use the sports metaphor, "play-by-play," of each encounter that pits the clothed against the unclothed. I just thought the dichotomy that took place between the two distinct brands of smut in the film's opening scene to be truly fascinating and worthy of some analysis.

Anyway, losing her car keys while slipping in front of the janitors, the slit lady finds herself lost in the woods. She figured it would be a quick and easy way to get home, but the deeper she penetrates the misty underbrush, the more she unwittingly becomes ensnared in the killer's web. A thorny bush takes care of her blouse (it's literally torn from her body), an equally thorny wreath of barbs manages to undo her bundled hairdo, and a barbed-wire fence forces the not-so wily business woman to make a wardrobe decision that could alter the very fabric of the universe.

Approaching the barb-covered impasse with much trepidation, the topless woman, whose long brunette locks are now free to tickle her freckled shoulders with impunity, attempts to navigate the fence while wearing her slit-heavy garment. After trying many different ways to manipulate her skirt's slit in a way that would allow her to traverse the setaceous obstacle unscathed, she finally decides to rid herself of the movement-constricting piece of clothing. Filmed from myriad different angles–you know, in order to properly capture the awe-inspiring lustre of her angular frame–she gingerly makes her way through the fence, one shapely gam at a time. Marking her fence success by employing a much deserved celebratory hair flip, she thinks she's out of the woods (no pun intended). Unfortunately, there's still a psychopathic madman to contend with–and you thought prickly bushes and barbed-wire fences were tough. Noticing that her skirt is missing (she left it on a fence post), she slowly backs away from the scene of the skirt theft and into the knife-wielding arms of the cloth-like gauze killer.

Meanwhile, back at the train station, one of the janitors (the one with the faker-than-usual fake mustache) is told that he is getting a new assistant. Wearing a red and white top, one that barely covered her nipples (they kept popping out of their candy cane-coloured prison), red high heel shoes (covered in a multitude of straps), and a pair of jean shorts that repeatedly made a mockery of the word "shorts," the bubbly blonde (Katarzyna Zelnik) is featured in what I consider to be the greatest scrubbing montage in film history. Cleaning the office with a back-breaking vigour, while taking the occasional porn break, the reigning Miss Butt Beautiful also gives her hirsute co-worker a refresher course on how to obtain a firmer bum. Dumping her skimpy top and fabric-challenged denim shorts (you can't exercise in clothes that tight, no matter how nonexistent they may be), Panna Zelnik shows him how to improve the physical characteristics of his buttocks and thighs.

After they finish, you better buckle up, because you're about to witness the strangest interpretation of the King Arthur myth ever committed to film. Giving him the gist of the Arthurian legend, Katarzyna hands him a wooden spoon and tell him to lube up the handle. What? Why she is telling him to do that? Well, it seems that she wants him to stick the spoon in her ass. What kind of answer is that? Naked and on all fours, the janitor is given a full minute to extract the wooden spoon from its rectal pokey or face, I wanna say, "consequences," but I don't think there will be any; there was a wager made, but I forget what it entailed. Um, let's just say the scene where a man with a faker-than-usual fake mustache has a minute to remove a wooden spoon from the gay vagina of a Julie Delpy clone was kinda weird.

The brother of the one the janitors (the one who was suspended and replaced by the gal in the denim diaper) just happens to be one of the detectives in charge of the murder case. In an attempt to clear his brother's name (he's the prime suspect), the detective tells him to describe what kind of shenanigans he and co-worker got up to while working at the train station. What transpires is a montage showing a gaggle of Polish women being leered at and mentally undressed by a couple of uncouth custodians. The clash between the naked and the clothed hits its apex during this sequence, as the two methods fight for the attention of your forthcoming erection. The clothing of the four Polish women featured in this scene ranged from vulgar elegance (thigh-high hooker boots) to librarian chic (glasses and black pencil skirts with modest slits).

The fifth Polish woman (Magda Szymborska) in the naked-clothing montage becomes the primary focus of the next fifteen or so minutes, as we follow her as she leaves the station. Hailing a taxi in the dark, the dirty blonde woman, wearing a white off-the-shoulder top and a pair of jean shorts (one's that were more in line with the Daisy Duke ideal), can't help but notice that her driver is wearing a mask of some sort (his face looks like it's been wrapped with gauze). At any rate, the two chat about work (she's a draughtswoman), dating (she thinks all the men in her town are creeps), and life in general. It's a surprisingly informative sequence, as we learn a lot about the driver and his passenger.

The invisible overlords that oversee my cinematic well-being must have been in a good mood, because what happens next was a misguided dream come true. Pulling over to the side of the road as a result of car trouble, the driver pops the hood and tries to locate the problem. It seems that there's an issue involving the fan belt, so he asks her to donate her pantyhose to help the cause. First of all, I didn't even know she was wearing any (an embarrassing oversight on my part). But get this, apparently pantyhose are a great temporary fix as far as broken fan belts are concerned (learning is fun).

While handing over her pantyhose, oh, I would just like to quickly point out that the camera angles used while she removed her tights were wonderfully perverted (mind you, not as wonderfully perverted as the barbed-wire fence scene, but w.p., nonetheless). Okay, where was I? Oh yeah, the pantyhose hand off. Giving the driver her tights, she returns to where she left her jean shorts (on top of the roof of the car), only to find that they have vanished. After some mild to moderate investigating (by the way, her lack of underwear and pubic hair was causing her Polish undercarriage to get chilly), she discovers that her jean shorts are underneath the car. Located in a hard reach spot (preventing an easy crouch and grab), Magda must immerse herself in the leafy muck to retrieve her beloved jean shorts. Not wanting to ruin yet another article of clothing, she doffs her off-the-shoulder top and gets down to the business at hand.

Sporting the longest legs in all of Radomsko County, the gorgeous Eliza Borecka gives my favourite performance out of the film's three main actresses. Whether she was clumsily dropping cigarettes in train station lobbies, clawing at her hair or hopping barbed-wire fences in the buff, Panna Borecka exuded a quality that set her apart from her naked peers. The naturalness of her body (while her organic structure seemed unprocessed, the majority of the "actresses" appear to had their breasts surgically augmented) combined with the unnatural manner in which she moved (every gesture was awkward and self-conscious) created an aura around her that was decidedly off-kilter.

Creating an atmosphere that felt weirdly surreal at times, Fantom Kiler is an odd mishmash of Café Flesh, Blood and Black Lace, and an undervalued Polish porno. The latter two are obvious because of the appearance of the killer (a fedora-wearing assailant in a white mask) and the sheer abundance of naked Polish women. However, I mentioned the Rinse Dream classic because of its abnormal temperament (the whole thing looks it was filmed in a smoke-filled warehouse in Sheffield). Sure, I'm not a big fan of watching women being stabbed in odd places with knives, drills, spoons, broom handles and chisels (even though it's not as graphic as it sounds), but the techno-industrial soundtrack, surplus of jean shorts, bizarre dialogue, and scintillating encounters with barbed-wire fences were enough to make me overlook its shortcomings.



  1. I thought part 2 was better, but I don't remember why. Maybe it was almost the same, but slightly more horror and a little less softcore porn.

    Someone left the following comment on my Pia Zadora video yesterday:

    "Oh my God this is so bad. This woman is one of the worst singers I have ever heard. The song sucks and she sucks even more. Go away Pia what you do to music is a crime, you brutally murder perfectly good songs. Just go away lady and never sing again cause you hurt people when you do."

    Holy shit that made my day. I think they're at least partially wrong, but being wrong was never so right.

  2. Frank The Entertainer in a Basement Affair - Annie and Cathy Nardone Scandalishious, aka “Caroline”.

    You think part two is better?!? Really? I doubt it has anything as awesome as the barbed-wire fence adventure. Anyway, I have parts 2, 3, and 4 at my disposal, but I think I'll let the memory of this particular chapter fester in my brain before I dive into the others.

    Partially wrong?!? Don't you mean, "fully wrong"? ;)

  3. Do you know why I love Canadian news? Headlines like this:
    "Angry beaver roams through N.W.T. town"
    I can't stop laughing.

    With all this talk about the rapture, I was wondering what happens to animals. I asked my other half, "Is there a beaver heaven?" He said something crude.

    And yesterday, Jian Ghomeshi was interviewing two women who were talking about their website about menstruation. :O

  4. The article says the beaver "meandered through town." I don't know 'bout that. From my experience--and believe me, I had my share of beaver run-ins over the years--agitated beavers never meander.

    I wore a Beaver Canoe sweatshirt in Grade 8.

    Something crude, eh? Well, the first thing I thought of when I read the line, "beaver heaven," was the scene from Blue Velvet where Paul (Jack Nance) asks Jeffrey (Kyle MacLachlan) if he's ever been to pussy heaven.

    I have watched/listened to Jian's show in quite some time.

    Happy Victoria Day Weekend!

  5. You have had run-ins with beavers before? Do they walk around the streets of T.O.?

    I've also started listening to Definitely Not the Opera, hosted by that chick from Shortbus.

    Thinking about the difference between rural and urban Poland makes me laugh. In the early 90s, a good friend got on the wrong train in Poland. She didn't really think much of it until she started seeing people plowing by hand. She got off at the next stop, in the middle of BFE Poland, in a place where no one spoke English, and she was stuck for the night. But I think everyone was clothed, and I don't recall her saying there were any janitors with fake moustaches. And most importantly, she wasn't killed by a Nash the Slash look-a-like.

    I once got on the wrong train in the Czech Republic, but luckily, a ticket checker noticed early on, so I didn't even up in Slovakia.

    Happy Victoria Day weekend!

  6. I wouldn't call it a run-in, but I used see this family of beavers under a railroad bridge near the lake (they had a dam and everything). Unfortunately, I don't ride my bike in that area anymore, so I have no idea if they're still there.

    Speaking of stuff I used to see, the sight of Sook-Yin Lee riding her bike on Queen West was quite common back in the late 90s (I also sat beside her during a movie once - it was either High Art or All Over Me).

    BFE?!? Bum Fuck, Egypt? What a strange expression. :D

    I'm not surprised your friend didn't see any janitors with fake mustaches, as I hear Fantom Kiler was actually shot in England.

    I wanted to move to Košice when I was 16.

  7. This trailer at the end is unbearably hilarious with the driver speaking Russian(I'm almost sure) and the woman speaking in Polish - at least for her lines - nothing adds up with subtitles haha.

    I hope to get a subbed version of this, it will truly have a double meaning then.