The blood-soaked, revenge-driven face of Nicolas Cage in Mandy changed my life

Amongst a backdrop of 80s prog rock, revenge-induced rage and grief, Panos Cosmatos' film 'Mandy' is a cinematic masterpiece that I always felt I deserved.

Mandy changed my life.. Cr: RLJE FilmsMandy changed my life.. Cr: RLJE Films
Mandy changed my life.. Cr: RLJE Films

From the age of about 6, I've been obsessed with horror - gory, psychological, slashers - it doesn't matter. If it's horror, I'm in.

It started so early due to my weekend routine in the company of my grandparents and my agoraphobic uncle. A man who would only venture out of the house once a week in order to buy two films on VHS from the local video store (which will remain nameless for obvious reasons).

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The first film was always a family friendly affair that could be enjoyed in the company of my grandparents on Saturday evening - the second? A banned video nasty such that my uncle secretly allowed me to binge on when my Nanna went shopping, which ultimately completely desensitised me to gore, blood, guts and handed me a fascination with practical special effects.

Anyhow, fast forward 25 years and the horror genre had left me wanting more. Jump scares, 'elevated' horror and a host of horrendous remakes had left me desperate for something a little different when a friend recommend I went to the GFT's late night screening of a new Nicolas Cage film titled Mandy.

Directed by a complete visionary in Panos Cosmatos, the film begins amid a setting that resembles a prog-influenced 1980s backdrop and introduces us to Red (Cage) and Mandy (Riseborough), a young couple who lead a peaceful, loving, almost hypnotic existence that is backed by an overwhelming yet moving soundtrack by the late, great Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson.

However, when a cult leader by the name of Jeremiah Sand spots Mandy walking in the local forest, his sadistic, drug-fuelled followers introduce us to the Children Of The New Dawn and catapult us into a world of the LSD drunk demonic Black Skulls, narcissism, murder and - perhaps most importantly - Nicolas Cage on a rampage of vengeance that knows no bounds. And a big chainsaw.

Many have described the opening half hour as a slow affair but, as evidenced by the simultaneous glare me and my pal shared seconds into Mandy, the absurd, mind altering horror hit moved me in ways no other film has from the second I saw the combination of Cage and Andrea Riseborough on screen. The screening, which began just before midnight, pulled me into a world that I had been begging for ever since that very first horror I saw at a young whipper snapper (Hellraiser, if you're wondering).

Cinema has changed my life many times. We all remember the first time we saw Goodfellas or were introduced to the world of Quentin Tarantino. Heck, I have had obsessions with films such as Amelie and Scream ever since the day I saw them, but nothing has ever given me experience I had (and continue to have every time I watch it) with Cosmatos' masterpiece.

In the words of Jeremiah Sand himself - 'It's not just your life I can save man. It's your Goddamn soul.'



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