Film Review: Begotten (1991)
Have you seen Begotten? This is one of the most difficult to find horror films of all time. It is also a brutal and memorable visual beat down, if you can find it. Directed by E. Elias Merhige (Shadow of the Vampire) it is a film that burns itself into your memory. It is highly stylized and very metaphoric. Released in 1991, the film underwent tons of visual work to give it the feel of a black and white film reel. This creates an unsettling visual that sets the tone for the film. The shaky camera work is also used to make the viewer feel a little off kilter. Even the movement of the actors has a spasmodic quality, that will create a great sense of unease in anyone brave enough to watch this film.
If you are into the current indie film scene, then you have probably heard of the work of director James Bell. This film had a huge impact on James Bell’s most recent film, Tantrum. This film has no dialogue, but does have a haunting soundtrack. This is very similar to James Bell’s use of the soundtrack in his film. It is also highly symbolic, creating the urge, in viewer’s like myself, to watch the film more than once in an attempt to figure it out. Both films also include great gore effects and create an intoxicating, though unsettling, atmosphere for even the most seasoned viewer of the absurd.
So Begotten is about the birth and death of the gods. I’m still not sure what that means, but I will surely watch it again. I see the film as one that attempts to personify these gods, making their births and deaths a very down to earth experience. This cycle includes disturbing scenes of self-disembowelment and savage rape. These scenes are enhanced through disturbing gore effects. The problem with the effects is that you may be forced to use too much imagination at times. This is because the film quality is poor. Even the legitimate DVD versions of the film are hard to watch without squinting at times.
This, of course, brings me to the biggest problem with this film. Every version of the film is of very low quality. Most people today see the film on poor quality bootlegs or low quality streaming services. This is due to the fact that it is basically impossible to see a legitimate release. If you want to get a legitimate release of the film on Ebay, you will be spending over $100! I wouldn’t give my money to these price gouging jerks. There are people out there that will sell you bootleg copies, but I am not one that buys boots. As a collector, I want original releases; but, I also don’t want some thieving asshole to get my money. So my moral issue here comes from the fact that if I am going to pay for it, I want the filmmakers to get their credit. But, if it isn’t being distributed, they aren’t going to get any money anyway.
So, I watched a damn torrent. I’m definitely not proud of it. I’m not sure what else was I supposed to do though. If a DVD release comes out someday, I will surely buy it to make amends. It is an amazing film after all. I was completely blown away by it. I consider Tantrum a must-own, so I must do the same with this. There wouldn’t be a Tantrum without this, so if Begotten ever comes out, buy it. This film will not let you down and you will never forget the visual extremes that it drops on you. Maybe if all of us collectors contact out favorite distributors, they will find a way to pick up the film and get us some higher quality legitimate copies. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was already in the works with companies like Arrow picking up everything obscure and giving them a release.