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Home | Film Reviews | Extreme Cinema | Film Review: August Underground (2001)

Film Review: August Underground (2001)

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Two serial killers go on a murdering rampage as one films the outcome from behind a video camera. One of the most realistically portrayed simulated snuff films.


Written by: Fred Vogel and Alan Peters
Directed by: Fred Vogel
Staring: Fred Vogel, Stephen Vogel, Casey Eganey, Victoria Jones, Aaron Labonte and Ben Labonte

Hell-o, gore hounds and hunters of the extreme. I am pleased to bring you my review of what use to be known as”The sickest movie you’ve never seen,” as it was printed on the limited two hundred Video Cassette cases that were first released. That’s right, it’s Toetag Pictures’ August Underground. The most innovative in pseudo- Snuff films that you will ever have the guilty pleasure of laying your eyes upon… If you can watch it the whole way through. This will more than likely be the only time I ever do this, but the next paragraph will be quotes from other reviewers, just so you, the viewer and visual victim, will know what you’re getting yourself into. Just a warning: This film will molest your mind and stick with you a while after viewing. Be prepared. Here’s what a few others had to say about August Underground…

“You feel sick, you feel dirty, you feel like you need to be cleansed after watching…” “It was gory, sick, depraved and never let up.” “Looks just like the real thing.” “So utterly realistic”
“It’s what The Blair Witch Project should have been.” “Almost unwatchable.” (My personal favorite is…) “The Black Sabbath of Filth.” “I got five minutes into the movie before I had to turn it off. Not because it was bad- quite the opposite, it was so well done.” “It’s a dirty, creepy feeling… and it’s good.” “Never in my life was I so horrified and almost appalled, but in a good way.” It’s a pioneer film.” “Fred [Vogel] is probably the most dangerous film maker out there today…” and now I present without further ado… The review.

The film starts off as a camcorder turning on to a beer being dumped onto the ground by one of the nameless killers. The other (played by Fred Vogel, himself of Murder-Set-Pieces, August Underground’s Mordum, The Redsin Tower and August Underground’s Penance) says he has something to show the alcohol abuser as they make their way into a basement. Once they enter, there is garbage all over the floor, blood and feces everywhere, a bucket, p*rn plastered to the wall… and finally, a gagged, naked girl tied to a chair. Her boyfriend is dead in the bath tub. Let the depravity begin…

August Underground follows two serial Killers on a trip through Pennsylvania and New Jersey as the mercilessly beat, torture, abuse, degrade and dismember all who is unfortunate to cross their paths, or have them cross their’s. A store clerk is harassed, two customers (Played by Fred’s brother and cousin) are ridiculed and one is forced to stick their nose where it truly doesn’t belong. Two brothers are tortured as one watches the other die. An elderly woman (played by the Writer and Director’s grandmother) is killed as her home is raided. A hitch-hiking woman is beaten and left for dead and they are just getting started. Even one of the ruthless killers get into a fight at a local concert and they are both kicked out of the show. This is not for the faint of heart or unjaded viewer, people. This is not even something for the typical, everyday Horror fan… Just as everything that Toetag produces. This label is what makes them who they are today, the best thing to ever happen to the genre, in my personal opinion.

The performances are terrific, horrific and undeniably believable from the entire cast. A lot of which had just made their acting debut in this film. Fred is one of the nicest dudes you could ever meet, but by watching this movie, you would never know and probably tell yourself to stay as far away from him as humanly possible. The victims performances are painfully convincing as well. This film contains no score (except for what is playing on the radio as the killers drive around, hunting the next focal point of human prey)..

The gore score, on the other hand, is well above a brutal f*cking thirteen. If you read my review on their latest film, Murder Collection Volume 1, you would already know the praise I give to the Special Effects (which is also the production) team. Jerami Cruise debuts his amazing talent(which just gets better) in this film. The film stock is grainy, blurry and shaky, which makes it all seem ten times more authentic and disturbingly realistic… Like found footage that has been through a rough weathering period.

The Writer, Director and masterfully twisted mind behind Toetag Productions first set out to make a big budgeted zombie film called Leezium. He knew he could not afford something of this price range, so made due with what he had ( I am so grateful for the change of plans)… and August Underground was born for under two thousand dollars.. Fred watched a twenty twenty episode of children driving around and pelting people with paint balls, he added an influence of the video scene in Henry: Portrait of a serial Killer and Man Bites Dog and his monster was spawned.

He had an idea to set the unmarked tapes on police station steps and other places where it could be found, until the tragedy of September eleventh happened. He then thought of this scheme in bad taste (see, he’s not such an evil guy in real life, but he sure as hell can pull one off on screen). Before I left for the Tom Savini academy, I typed underground Horror in ebay and one copy came up, I was curious. Upon arrival, I went to a Horror convention and met Fred and Jerami and there was the film I had been looking for. I am one of the fortunate to own one of the two hundred underground copies on VHS, as well as DVD. There are three versions of the film… The now out of print VHS, the Double disc DVD and the infamous “Snuff version,” also on DVD. This film has now become a trilogy.

I was somewhat disappointed when I found out it was being widely released. The prized jewel I had would now be seen by many, and the fan base has grown massively since then. I’m glad it has over all. The original film was supposed to be a demo real to display their amazing talents for Special Effects and became something much bigger than anyone had ever expected. There are rumors that houses have been raided by authorities for this film and it is a fact that Fred was arrested while crossing the border into Canada to attend a convention while carrying it on him. It was originally through Fred that I found out about my now favorite film, Murder-Set-Pieces.

Overall, I would have to agree with the quote on the box of the sequel, Mordum (not only about this film, but the entire trilogy)… “I don’t recommend you watch this film, I f*cking DARE you.” If you can stomach something so horrific, so sickening and so well done, give this film a much deserved view. You will never find it in your local video store or retail outlet and the MPAA will not dare touch it. Go to www.toetagpictures.com and get your copy there, along with all of the other goodies that they have to offer. This is the American film that Charlie Sheen would absolutely love to hate. I give this film, August Underground, FOUR BRUTAL, BLOODY FUCKING HORNS UP.

August Underground

One comment

  1. This film is a perfect example of quantity over quality. It was completely unwatchable – not because of the gore – but because of the hideously annoying cast. About 10 minutes in I found myself hoping a gas leak would kill the lot of them; it would have made for much more pleasurable viewing experience.


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