I won’t lie, I consider myself both a friend and a fan of Matthew Saliba. I have written reviews for all of the shorts he has submitted to Rogue Cinema (She Was Asking For It, Vampyros Lesbos and Frankenstein Unlimited), I have interviewed the man and I chat with him enough regularly that I would consider him a friend. With that said, I can promise you that any friendship I have with the man has no bearing on my opinion of his latest product. I genuinely enjoyed this short and I have genuinely enjoyed all of his work up until this point, and the reason for that is pretty simple: he’s a talented filmmaker with a unique vision. Saliba has an infatuation with fetishism and S&M, and he presents these ideas in a truly cinematic way. So often, artists who cover these taboo topics will head directly into performance-art territory and more often than not they will frighten away your average audience member. While Saliba rarely plays it safe and has presented some very dark and disturbing ideas throughout his films, dealing with rape and revenge, he does so with a visual eye and love for narrative. Never was this more obvious than with Amy’s in the Attic, a 23 minute love letter to Italian horror and sexploitation films.
Our film begins with five friends who join together for a swinger party, that quickly turns into a night of gentle bickering, at the dark mansion of their mutual friend Alucard (played by Matthew Saliba). This group soon discovers a new and dangerous game that will certainly liven their evening, and could very well change their lives forever. It all starts when Alucard proposes that the group place their names inside of a hat, and the one that is drawn has to become a slave for everyone else throughout the evening. When the game ultimately begins, it is the slutty Amy (Kayden Rose) whose name is drawn. What starts off as simple fun, forcing Amy to perform an erotic striptease which she delves into wholeheartedly, becomes something very dark and sinister. Amy soon has her face painted in full ‘blackface’ attire and is being whipped with a Cat ‘O Nine Tails while having to lick the dirt from someone’s shoes. Will this group realize the slippery slope that they are on, or will they keep playing until this joke officially goes too far?
Dominance and submission, these are the words that encapsulate Saliba’s artistic output without question. He once again experiments with these concepts, while playing around with several new and different ideas for his cinematic oeuvre. Amy’s in the Attic is not what I would generally consider an outright comedy, as the material is a bit dark to be considered a laugh riot, but Saliba isn’t afraid to play around with humor throughout. In the fact that the film is presented entirely as a work of classic European exploitation, we get to see Saliba smiling and winking to the audience throughout his film. Shot in HD, the post production work on the project looks to have been immense in trying to get the perfect "look" for a worn out print for a 70’s Italian exploitation feature. The short even begins with a note claiming that some scenes have been presented in their original Italian dialogue with English subtitles, in an attempt to create the most fully unedited version of the movie. Anchor Bay and various companies have done this several times before, and it is nice to see Saliba being so faithful to what we know of the genre. He even goes so far as to feature jump cuts where scenes have apparently been lost forever. There’s a certain quaint and humorous quality to all of this exploitation nostalgia that it gives an already strange film another added dose of the absurd.
In this post-Grindhouse world, we have certainly seen the effect that Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’ ode to exploitation cinema has had on the independent film community. While I won’t say that Amy’s in the Attic doesn’t owe some of its ideas to the combination of Deathproof and Planet Terror, I will say that it seems to come from a different place of admiration than many of the independent films I watch on a regular basis. One gets the idea that Saliba wants to call forth images from the works of Sergio Martino, Jean Rollin or Jesus Franco rather than simply an endless series of slashers and zombie movies. There is definitely a gothic atmosphere to be found in Amy’s in the Attic and the Italian sensibilities help make this an easy sell. So, for fans of European horror or those simply intrigued by the heightened taboo sexuality that Saliba looks to evoke, this is one that is certainly worth tracking down. You can read more about Matthew Saliba via his official Facebook and Myspace pages.