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3) SHADOW
Country: Italy
When you hear that a film has won the praises from the masters of Italian horror – Dario Argento, Lamberto Bava and Ruggero Deodato, you know you are in for a treat. From Italian singer/songwriter turned filmmaker Federico Zampaglione comes Shadow, an imaginative, atmospheric terror tale that certainly had me guessing right up to the shocking twist ending.

Returning from a tour of duty in Iraq, US soldier David (Jake Muxworthy) takes time out in the northern Italian mountains of Treviso for a mountain biking excursion with a young stranger called Angeline (Karina Testa). But the couple’s idyllic excursion quickly turns sour when they incur the wrath of two hunters. Forced into hiding, the couple seek shelter on a cursed mountain and are soon kidnapped, along with the hunters, by a bloodthirsty butcher who may or may not be a former Nazi scientist.

Shadow starts off with some cool action scenes, but events quickly turn all torture porn-like when the butcher Mortis (Nuot Arquint), a frog-licking Nosferatu-looking dude with bad nails, turns up the electricity in his theatre of cruelty and films one of his victims frying! Not for the squeamish!

Things then get very trippy indeed as our hero, David, descends further into the mystery. Who or what is Mortis? Why does he have cans of film marked with dates of wars in Vietnam, Serbia and Iraq as well as September 11? And where is Angeline? From the foreboding forest to Mortis’ deserted hospital, then finally into a dark cave, David finally does get some answers and so do we. I won’t spoil the twist ending, but it’s worth the wait.

With its etheral cinematography, cool soundtrack, convincing cast and EC Comics-inspired story, Shadow shows Zampaglione has a sophisticated eye for the genre, and marks a talent worth watching.

Out now on DVD, through FrightFest Features

Check back tomorrow for Number 2 in Pete’s Euro Horror countdown.