Chronicle of Corpses
Alpha New Cinema (series)

Philadelphia-based director Andrew Repasky McElhinney presents this lushly detailed horror tale concerning a doomed family of once-wealthy aristocrats and a killer on the loose.
Chronicle of Corpses
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Format:  DVD
sku:  ALP 1000D
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DVD Features:

  • Rated: Not Rated
  • Run Time: 1 hours, 23 minutes
  • Video: Color
  • Released:
  • Originally Released: 2001
  • Label: Alpha Video
  • Encoding: Region 0 (Worldwide)
  • Packaging: Keep Case
  • Aspect Ratio: Full Frame - 1.33

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A Chronicle Of Corpses is Andrew Repasky McElhinney's lushly detailed, early nineteenth century horror tale, concerning the last days of family of once-wealthy aristocrats. The film is an elegiac thriller examining love, doubt and devotion in a bleak world of terror.

Shot on historic locations in Philadelphia, the film recreates a more civilized, bygone epoch complete with foreboding undercurrents that strike alarmingly contemporary chords.

"Here's a real UFO, an extremely low-budget, genuinely independent film by a 22-year-old writer-director from Philadelphia that immediately establishes a distinctive and promising voice. A Chronicle of Corpses belongs to the small but significant tradition of outsider art in American movies - films like Herk Harvey's Carnival of Souls or George Romero's Night of the Living Dead - that reflect powerful personalities formed outside any academic or professional tradition. That most of these are horror films is no coincidence; they are the films that haunt American cinema, pointing to paths that were never taken, to doors that remain firmly closed." - Dave Kehr, The New York Times

"The art film from hell." - Jeremiah Kipp,

"...a Bresson-meets-Bergman-meets-Wes Craven suspenser" - Steven Rea, The Philadelphia Inquirer

Product Description:

Set in the early Nineteenth Century, A CHRONICLE OF CORPSES is a slow-paced chiller from maverick director Andrew Repasky McElhinney. The eerie atmosphere of the movie has seen it gather a cult following, and many parallels have been drawn with the cult shocker from director Herk Harvey, A CARNIVAL OF SOULS. The tale itself concerns the dying days of an aristocratic family who have fallen on hard times, and examines themes of love, hate, and devotion.
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A Fascinating Failure Movie Lover: from Canada -- December, 10, 2008

The back of the box has blurb, "a Bresson-meets-Bergman-meets-Wes Craven suspenser." Except it's nowhere near as good as any of those on their own.

A Chronicle of Corpses is about a decaying family of wealthy landowners in New England (I think). The film tries hard to show us they are a decadent, sinful bunch, whose self-indulgent--and therefore, as in all decadent literature, self-destructive--tendencies have angered the gods.

The destined destruction for this family comes primarily in the form of a mysterious murderer in the woods, who begins by killing the servants and then the family members themselves. Who could that mysterious bald lady be?

You'll find out in a lengthy, tight medium-shot soliloquy by the family's matriarch. Yes, a genuine soliloquy. This film is extremely stagey. For anyone who's seen the BBC Shakespeare series, there's a family resemblance. The dialogue is highly stylized and you have to be willing to accept that, otherwise the film will anger you considerably. You'll be constantly yelling, "Nobody talks like that!" People's mouths move, but they don't speak: a gush of what they should be feeling and thinking is expressed in highly-contrived prose.

Similarly, the camera tends to focus on monologue-performances. I would call them dialogues, but even with two people in the shot, they are strangely detached. They rarely look at one another. The camera is rarely moving, but letting these characters, standing in their contrived positions, in abstract spaces, speak their monologues.

The 'slasher' scenes are not much more effective than the (melo)drama scenes. The killer bops people on the head, but we never see the blow. The most horrific scene, in which a baby is butchered, is mildly jarring, but with absolutely no blood and only a single thrust, it's over soon.

There are a few things I did like. The film's patience reminded me of the European directors the DVD box claims it does. Antonioni and Bergman come to mind, as does Jacques Rivette a bit. The character of the matriarch, in her final soliloquy, did intrigue me: I wanted to learn more about her, but alas, it's an 83 minute slasher film. The one thing the film gets right is a general atmosphere of decadence, decay, morbidity--a character even specifically remarks on this. Yet, overall, it is a failure, neither fish nor fowl.

This is certainly a strange horror film, however. I don't believe I've ever seen a horror film done quite like this before. It has some sizable flaws, in my view, and don't believe they'll disappear with rewatching. But for its effort, for what it's trying to do and be, I applaud it.

I would only recommend A Chronicle of Corpses for more adventurous viewers who want to try something different, who tend to like arthouse pictures, and who don't mind films slow as treacle, stagey as Shakespeare.

Must have this! Movie Lover: from The Northeast -- November, 13, 2003

I am so happy you guys are putting this film out. Will there be a comentary? I saw it twice at the Philly Film Fest in '02 and was blown away. It's as good as Carnival of Souls or Night of the Living Dead (1968) or Eraserhead or The Beguiled or Bluebeard.

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Product Info

  • Sales Rank: 9,120
  • UPC: 089218100092
  • Shipping Weight: 0.31/lbs (approx)
  • International Shipping: 1 item

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