August Underground Trilogy (Review)

August Underground
Director – Fred Vogel (The Redsin Tower, The Final Interview)
Starring – Fred Vogel, Kyle Dealman, and Casey Eganey
Release Date – 2001
Rating – 1/5

I’ve been collecting horror films for around 20 years now. I was invited to join the forums at Upcoming Horror Movies when I was entering high school and it was here that I learned about a lot of indie horror films that would typically go unnoticed. This was when I was first introduced to Fred Vogel’s August Underground trilogy. I collected the films on DVD soon after but after watching the trailer I decided to hold off on watching them. They just didn’t look like movies I would enjoy so I put them on the shelf and left them there.

When I started attending Cinema Wasteland I met Fred and his lovely wife Shelby and we talked about the movies he had for sale at his table. Over the year’s I’ve bought a good bit of their shirts and other merch. The Vogel’s are super nice and I will support them any way I can which is why I bought the blu release one Wasteland. I still never had the urge to watch them but decided to break out the blu this October horror binge. It was finally time to see what the extreme horror fans have been screaming about.

**Spoiler Alert** The film follows two men, one with a camera, who go around kills, raping, and butching those unfortunate enough to cross paths with them. **Spoiler Alert**

Most people assume that I hate extreme horror and this is the furthest thing from being true. I love all horror as long as the story works. There is nothing wrong is a good, depreved piece of cinema full of gore if the movie has a story. If it’s lacking a story then it’s boring for me. I need a story to pull me in before showing me in blood and guts. Sadly, August Underground was lacking this. After just a few minutes into this one I found myself bored to tears.

The acting in this one is pretty rough. As I stated earlier, I had met and spoke with Fred several times at Cinema Wasteland. He’s one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met at a con but his character and acting here is really hard for me to like. His character was so annoying and his performance was very forced. He was trying so hard to be a bad guy but it was just coming across as obnoxious and cringy.

The story for this one is not enough to cover a feature length film. Someone recording their friend killing people has some power behind it especially for a found footage film attempting to capture that snuff style film. However, watching a maniac on camera as his degrades and tortures people for the entire duration of the film becomes painfully dull after 10 or 15 minutes. I’m sure it was a powerful and unnerving film when it was released almost 20 years ago but I find to see what makes it so appealing now. I’ve seen far more depraving films with stories that hold up the entire length of the film.

Finally, this is one hell of a bloody film. The practical effects are damn near impossible to beat and some of the most impressive I’ve seen in a no-budget release. Vogel was a student of Savini I believe so it completely makes sense that these effects are amazing. Overall, August Underground is 50 minutes too long if you want my honest opinion. The faux snuff films will always bore me because they lack story and this one is no exception. The gore is fantastic but watching a man yell, scream, and abuse people for an hour and some odd minutes is a dull watch for me. Skip it.

August Underground’s Mordum
Director(s) – Jerami Cruise (Murder Collection Vol. 1, Insomniac), Killjoy (Necrophagia: Sickcess), Michael Todd Schneider (His Devil’s Night, Our Devil’s Night), Fred Vogel (August Underground, The Final Interview), and Cristie Whiles
Starring – Fred Vogel, Cristie Whiles (Murder-Set-Pieces, The Redsin Tower), and Michael Todd Schneider
Release Date – 2003
Rating – 1/5

I dislike writing negative reviews especially when they are the films from people I’ve met and have always done right by me. I refuse to lie in a review but it’s very difficult to write a negative review and not disrespect the person that made the film. I’ve met and talked with filmmaker and effects artist Fred Vogel several times at Cinema Wasteland. He was always extremely friendly and happy to speak with fans and other horror friends.

Sadly, his film series August Underground just didn’t look like something I would like. I decided this October to give them a shot and with Halloween approaching I figured now would be the perfect time to spin them. The first one was something I had to force myself to finish. Not because it was graphic or visceral, because it wasn’t, but because I found myself bored. I was hoping the sequel would be better.

**spoiler Alert** The film, once again, follows a pair who go around torturing, degrading, and killing people while they film it. This time around they bring someone else in on the madness. **Spoiler Alert**

I love a lot of bad movies. Cheap and absurd seems to be my wheelhouse but I do find a few of the more gruesome and extreme horror films to be entertaining as long as they have a story to tell. With that being said, I can’t find the appeal of this series aside from the practical effects and gore. For movie that span the length of a feature film I struggle to watch it for more than 15 minutes. Watching people get in each others face and scream, obnoxious laugh, and rough up someone tied up doesn’t cut it for story for me. I need something that pulls me in and Mordum, much like the first film, just didn’t do that for me.

The acting for this one is more of the first film. The characters try way too hard to be edgey and offensive. They try to be people that have no regard for other human lives but you can tell the cast is forcing this really hard. It’s not genuine and a few of the scenes are very awkward to watch. I found myself rolling my eyes more often than not.

The story for this one is literally the same as the first film with the additional of an extra headcount. It works for 15 or 20 minutes but after that you will find yourself drifing off to sleep. This simple and straight forward story is stretched so thin that it becomes a chore to finish.

Finally, the film once again showcases some of the most impressive practical effects I have ever seen. The fact that this wasn’t put into a traditional horror film is a fucking crime. As much as I dislike this film I still have to recommend watching it just to see the effects. Overall, Mordum is barely a movie in my opinion. I know so many of you love this series but I can’t find anything redeemable here besides the effects which isn’t enough alone to carry the film. Please, tell me what you love so much about these!

August Underground’s Penance
Director – Fred Vogel (The Final Interview, The Redsin Tower)
Starring – Fred Vogel, Cristie Whiles (August Underground’s Mordum, The Redsin Tower), and Shelby Lyn Vogel (Maskhead, Murder Collection V.1)
Release Date – 2007
Rating – 1/5

Well, I was able to do it. I honestly didn’t think I would be able to finish the August Underground trilogy. I know some of you are going to go to the comment section and talk about how I couldn’t handle them or I missed the point but I can assure you that is the furthest from the case. I know exactly what the trilogy is trying to achieve and it doesn’t work for me. Maybe, big maybe, if I would have saw these films when they were released they would have had a bigger impact on me but seeing them all these years later after watching more extreme releases makes me wonder if I’ve become desensitized. Regardless, I completed the trilogy.

**Spoiler Alert** The film follows the young man from the previous two installments and his girlfriend has they butcher, torture, and rape anyone that is unfortunate enough to cross their paths. **Spoiler Alert**

I really did go into this series with an open mind but the movie just doesn’t have enough content to hold my attention for well over an hour especially after you have just sit through the other two films. By the time you’ve reached the third film the movie is so overdone that you literally have to force yourself to finish it.

The acting in this one is consistent throughout all three films. The characters are forced, unlikable, and really drag the scenes out. Watching Fred scream the length of all three films is rough to sit through. The characters are not that grounded and not enjoyable. The story for this one is literally the same as the previous films. We follows aadistic killers as they kill. Simple as that with the film stretching an hour longer than it really needed to be.

Finally, this wouldn’t be an August Underground film if it didn’t have some of the best practical effects I’ve ever seen. This one doesn’t really embrace the gore like the previous films but what we do get is still very well done. Overall, Penance is exactly as the previous films but it offers up very little for horror fans. It’s shocking for the sake of shock value but not much of a movie in itself. Skip it.

Written by Blacktooth

(Staff Writer) Lover of all things horror and metal. Also likes boobs and booze.

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