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  • Though the industry awards mavens typically erred by slotting this feature into the "gonzo" junk-heap, Dana Vespoli's typically strong medicine content has her dramatic flair and is not the wall-to-wall junk that currently floods the market. She takes more chances with her Evil Angel assignments, and I enjoyed this one's verve.

    An interesting big-name cast essays the five moody segments, short on story but long on emotional connection. It's structured around lead player Ash Hollywood, waking up bloodied in a field, and reliving traumatic experiences for our listening and dancing pleasure.

    Not as surreal or far-out as most exercises, underground or porno in this genre, "Forsaken" does generate considerable suspense as the viewer must work out elements of Ash's puzzling predicament, and put the pieces together. A period sequence with '20s garb (guest star Phoenix Marie styled as a flapper) and music suggests a strictly fantasy world, but subsequent segments seem to be actual memories haunting Ash.

    The auteur Vespoli shows up belatedly and provides more concrete narrative elements: telling Ash to leave with a "She's boring" aside, and giving some girth to the title reference. Without giving away spoiler information, it develops that Ash has been involved with an unusual couple: Samantha Ryan and Manuel Ferrara, an example of imaginative casting as one normally would not pair these disparate icons together in one's mind.

    Vespoli is not afraid to include violence, rough sex and even gore in her saga, and it winds up with a satisfying conclusion that reminded me (as I expected early on) of the all-time classic in this genre "Carnival of Souls", a film that has inspired many a top filmmaker, from Woody Allen to now Dana Vespoli.