Archive for October, 2010


A Trash Cinema Collective Halloween Devil Girl Treat, Athena Hollow! (NSFW)

Halloween night is here and what better way to celebrate than with Athena Hollow as she hacks up a poor, ol’ jack-o-lantern.  It’s messy, it’s malicious and it’s pretty spooky. If you ask me, I think this is exactly how the festival of Samhain should be handled.  So share some of your Halloween fun with Athena this year, but be warned, she’s not just into carving pumpkins. Enjoy!

And…Trashy Halloween.

Photography by Athena Hollow


Towards a Personal Theory (and Defense) of Horror (Part One)

an essay by Jessica Critten

So I had this professor who would always scoff when I discussed horror in the same breath as great literature and art. He thought, as so many people often do, that horror is low art for braindead, sick people and that any connections I found between, say, books about Nazism and horror theory, were a stretch. Frankly, I’m tired of having to defend my area of academic study, but I wanted this guy–who I liked, otherwise–to understand not only what horror really means, but what it means to me. We could write our papers about anything we wanted, (and he was also fine with our going on tangents which is why this paper is kinda all over the place) so I wrote this. It is sort of my horror manifesto–My definition of horror, my ideas about why people enjoy it, and my take on how and why it is regarded in the larger culture. I’m drawing a lot from cultural and critical theory, because it’s my fav, and fundamental to a deeper understanding of the genre as a tool to understand society, and ourselves.

Sleep of Reason by Francisco de Goya

“We make up horrors to help us deal with real ones”-Stephen King

‘Horror’ is a notoriously difficult genre to define, because, in general, what is considered horrific is subjective. The definition of horror is also fundamentally tied to the question at the heart of horror theory and criticism: Why do people enjoy being scared, disgusted, horrified? Various academics have attempted to answer that question, and to various degrees of success. I will trace many of these efforts to answer the question of horrific appeal as a means to approach my own subjective theory about the meaning of horror and its overwhelming popularity.  This theory, although applicable to all horror texts—however they may be defined by the consumer—will use the horror film specifically as its subject, owing to the aforementioned popularity of the genre in this medium and the controversial nature of moving, visual representations of horrific subject matter.

This study is admittedly limited; for one, it does not utilize the proposed framework or theories to even begin an effort to determine quality. As with any genre some films are more thoughtful and powerful than others, but measurements of value are in themselves subjective and dependant on any number of personal markers. Also, it does not fully interrogate the ontological implications of the monster as ‘other’; that is, how does the monster, who embodies everything that we are not, relate to our understanding of ourselves? I’ve also skipped over examining in detail many of the proposed theories in practice in favor of presenting a more general overview of the genre. This general overview has also required that I leave out other compelling theories of horrific appeal like Torben Grodal’s which states that instead of breaking down order, horror films have the effect for audiences of actually giving them a sense of order and control in their own lives in comparison to the lives (and deaths) of the characters in the film.

I am going to approach this project by using critical horror theory to answer the questions what is horror, what does horror do, and why do people enjoy it? Much of the critical literature on horror skips over the fundamental question of what horror actually is, and goes straight into what horror does.[1] It may seem as though I’m stuck in semantics here—isn’t horror, after all, the things it does?—but establishing a working definition for ‘horror’ is necessary to establish a relatively standard criteria by which one can identify horror texts. Once something is generally determined to be a horror text, one can analyze it as such and begin to interpret what it does; that is, what are the psychological, cultural, social, political, physical processes with which it is engaged, and to what effect? From there, one can continue on to determine the appeal of the horror text (in this case, the horror film.)

In one of the seminal books on horror, The Philosophy of Horror, or Paradoxes of the Heart, author Noel Carroll defines horror as that which elicits the emotional state of “art-horror.” Art-horror is to be understood as something decidedly different from the ‘natural’ horror that one may feel in real life, at ecological disasters or Nazism in World War II. As the name suggests, art-horror is the emotion elicited from a piece of art, differentiated from the horrors of real life because of the distance that art-horror has from the immediacy of real life, ‘natural’ horrific events. That is, if one was being beaten in real life, he or she would not have the time to step back and reflect on the horror of that experience. Art-horror not only allows for, but insists upon that reflection: “…the genre of horror takes its title from the emotion it characteristically or ideally promotes; this emotion constitutes the identifying mark of horror” (14). Carroll also discusses the urge to correlate horror with the appearance of a monster figure. He problematizes this assertion by arguing that although all horror films have monsters, not all monsters signify horror; fairy tales and science fiction texts contain monsters as well, but Carroll does not consider those texts as horror because they are not necessarily intended to evoke art-horror.

The most compelling aspect of Carroll’s definition, and the part from which I will begin to build my own understanding of the genre, is the basis of it: horror is such because it elicits a horrific response from the audience. Admittedly, in this state, this definition is not an especially sophisticated one; after all, the same basic thing could be said about any genre. But that is ultimately my point: any text can be a horror text if one experiences the state of art-horror while consuming it. Carroll gets extremely specific about what he does and does not consider a horror film; for one, the horror movie has to contain a monster borne of some kind of fantastical element, one that could not necessarily exist in real life. This excludes films otherwise thought of as horror, including ones that surround a strange and troubling event (as opposed to a disrupting monster) or films like Cujo or Silence of the Lambs which feature people and animals doing seemingly horrible things (and, arguably, eliciting horrific responses) but are not unexplainable creatures. This construction of the genre speaks to the theory of horrific appeal that he develops later in the book,[2] but is, in my opinion, much too restrictive. Carroll himself notes that the extent to which he develops his definition could be too limiting for some readers, “…but a theory such as the one proposed…may still enhance our grasp not only of horror itself, but also of its contesting neighbors” (Carroll 38).  His point is well taken, and at the heart of the importance of defining the genre in the first place.

[1] Many of the critical texts, save Carroll’s (see below), may offer passing, one-sentence definitions of horror, which can be accounted for by the critic’s general attitude towards the genre: the casual, or unappreciative reviewer could find the definition as self-evident—I know it when I see it; the more focused, sympathetic critic would acknowledge the complexity and difficulty of trying to define with certainly any genre, much less one so engaged with intense ontological and social issues.

[2] Carroll argues, and persuasively, that the horrific subject matter in horror films is incidental to the viewer’s need to see his or her curiosity about the monster figure satisfied. In other words, the draw of the horror film is similar to the draw of the mystery novel: discovery. The monster falls outside of our ideas about how the world works, so we want to see the monster conquered, and the status quo returned. I actually think fairly highly of parts of this theory, but I can’t really entertain it as a whole because it basically discounts any ontological, social, cultural, or political perspectives.


October Devil Girl of the Month, Dead Girl

Hey Gang, we have a treat for you this Halloween! Our October Devil Girl, Dead Girl, is staying true to her namesake and has risen from the grave to celebrate the season with us and munch some brains here at the Trash Cinema Collective. It’s a pleasure to have our VERY FIRST Devil Girl back from her crypt and delivering a gorgeous set for us to enjoy.  So, for all you zombie lovers out there, we’ve got a girl for you to die for!

Photography by Lisa Blomgren Aka Olivestarr


Trash Cinema Dance Party: Crypt Jam

by The Primal Root

For me, there is one television show that has always put me instantly in the mood for Halloween. That show is, of course,  HBO’s Tales from the Crypt. The anthology series that ran from 1989 to 1996 based off the classic E.C. horror comic books. They featured  dark, sick and often times hilarious morality tales where karma always comes around and chops your head off with an axe for your gruesome misdeeds. Not only that, but since Tales from the Crypt was shown on premium cable, they got to show all kinds of graphic violence, filthy language, and from time to time even showcased an lovely set of bare female breasts.

And who is our Master of Ceremonies through these twisted tales of blood caked terror? None other than the infamous Crypt Keeper who, with a wink and a stab, book-ended  every tale always with face palmingly bad puns and jokes that made us love him (or hate him) even more. You always respected the Crypt Keeper. He doesn’t care if you laugh, he knows what he is doing. Give him shit and he will KILL YOU. He’s the mother fuckin’ CRYPT KEEPER. So step off, haters.

Anyhoo, the series began to come into it’s own and gained a following. Now, somewhere along the way folks in the promotions department at HBO decided it would be a great idea for there to be a Tales from the Crypt music video. What band would they use? None. Just the Crypt Keeper. And let’s have him rap. With puns. Add some extremely 90’s background dancers  and this is the final result…

Yes sir, we’re gonna have skele-TONS of fun! And I have a feeling this will get GRAVE reviews. The Crypt Keeper is in. The. House.


It’s a bizarre mishmash of elements all being shot at out ocular cavities at rapid fire speed. First off, you have the Crypt Keeper rapping as well as getting down with his bad self amongst a group of about twenty or so  dancers who don’t find it strange in the last to be bumping and grinding with a decomposed, re-animated hip-hop enthusiast.


Make sure to stay tuned for Dream On! It's the BREAST show on TV!


Secondly, you have the two pop and lock zombie fellows who dress in 80’s Chuck E. Cheese server uniforms and can’t play wind instruments no matter how much the video wants to make us believe.


Undead trumpet playing Chuck E. Cheese employees are the glue that hold this piece together.


Thirdly, who doesn’t enjoy multiple shots of women’s torsos? No arms, no legs, no face, just the boobulcaological region. Was this prevalent in a lot of music videos during this period? I don’t really recall despite watching tons of MTV during my misspent youth. I guess if they did it would in some way explain my mild obsession with mammary glands.


Thank you, I wanted to make sure these women had boobs before the video went any further.


And possibly my favorite shot of the entire video, The Cryp Keeper ogling some spandex clad bootox as it is wiggled in his face before he gives us a look and utters “Oh Jam!” What? Oh jam? What the hell does that even mean? Either way, I just love the idea of The Crypt Keeper checking out some woman’s ass and getting excited over it. Can he even do anything about his excitement at this point in his decomposition?  I mean, really. Well, I guess he can still JAM I’m sure he can still, well, jam. WAIT! I Get it now!


She started out as the BUTT of every joke, but under my TOOT-elage she will go very FART! HEHEHEHEHEHEHEHEHAHAHAHAhahaheeeee....


Well, there you have it, The Crypt Keeper’s foray into hip-hop music videos. He didn’t quite make the impact of Grand Master Flash, Biggie Smalls, or even Vanilla Ice for that matter. But, you know what? The guy knows how to throw a party and  look pretty damn gangsta while laying down the dope puns. It’s a strange and awkward little artifact of a pretty damn cool show from 90’s era HBO. It’s a mindless, fun, ridiculous mess like many of the movies we praise here at the Trash Cinema Collective. Maybe that’s why I enjoy it so much.


-The Primal Root


Satan’s Little Helper: The Many Faces of Evil

a Primal Root Review


“JESUS IS SATAN!” – Jenna makes a startling revelation in Satan’s Little Helper

Well, it’s that time of year again! My favorite holiday, Halloween, is just around the corner and I felt it would do the season justice to bring you a review for one of my favorite new films to take place on my favorite day of the year. We’re talking about the 2004 warped, jet black Halloween horror comedy, Satan’s Little Helper. A film that explicitly details the highs and lows of befriending someone who is pure evil and doing everything hey ask you to do. It also illustrates how easily lead and stupid children are. And how hot your sister is. And how creepy Amanda Plummer is. And how much hipster drama majors suck. All in one action packed movie! Let us get down to business.


Our hero, ladies and gentlemen, Satan.


Satan’s Little Helper begins with our little kid star, Dougie (Alexander Brickel) riding in the family sedan wtih Mom (Amanda Plummer) on their way to pick up his sister Jenna (Katheryn Winnick) who has come back from college to celebrate Halloween with her kid brother. Dougie is dressed up as Satan’s Little Helper, the main character in the violent horror video game his father bought for him. In the game, Satan’s Little Helper follows Satan around and murders people for points while avoiding detection by God and getting killed by an Avenging Angel. Now, if only this film had become more popular, every kid in North America would be playing this game. Including me.

Now, when Dougie and Mom pull up to the ferry to pick up Kathryn (she had to take a ferry because this place is small and secluded and could be an island or something) she has brought along a fellow theater major and possible suitor in the form of scrawny hipster, Alex (Stephen Graham) who won’t shut up about his abusive father and is never once likable. Needless to say, Dougie is pissed because he wanted to spend his Halloween with his super cool sister but now has to share her with El Douche Bag Theater Major.

Dougie mopes about his neighborhood before coming across someone who may or may not be the devil murdering someone on their front porch in broad daylight and arranging this corpse as a Halloween decoration.  This is the exact same behavior Dougie has come to idolize in his favorite video game so, of course, he’s gotta introduce himself to this silent, masked killer and offer up his services. Satan instantly approves after Dougie mentions the fact that his sexy, melon chested sister and slightly neurotic Mother are both home alone and Dad won’t be home till later.

Dougie and Satan, BFF!

The two embark on an awesome and constantly hysterical adventure together running over elderly blind men and pregnant women with shopping carts, crushing cats against  houses to write Halloween messages in their blood, and kicking elderly women from their walkers and then hanging them out the upstairs window so they can nab her drugs to lace the candy they will later be handing out to children.

Keep in mind, Dougie is not psychotic, he simply thinks this is all make believe and that this is all just like the video game. How could a cild be so damn stupid? I’m not sure. But it does add to the humor to watch a little kid give a murderer a thumbs up as he brutally stabs a grocer to death and toss the body in a dumpster.

The proceedings are all undergone with tongue planted firmly and bloodily in cheek and for those of you with the same sick sense of I possess this is a fucking gem of a Halloween horror movie. The film manages to pull off a pretty believable feeling of a small town Halloween and how easy it would be for a killer to simply kill people and set them all about under the guise it’s simply a Halloween prank or decoration. Half the action takes place in broad daylight with neighbors walking by, and on some occasions, even stopping with the kids to watch and take photos while laughing.


Satan gets acquainted with Dougie's big sister, Jenna.


The Satan figure in the film, in addition to being both hilarious and brutal, possesses an incredible intelligence and insight into human psychology. He manages to put a dozen webs and traps together and manipulate all his victims into killing family and friends for him. Like a more comical version of Jigsaw from the Saw franchise, Satan has a knack for almost clairvoyant forward planning. It’s really kind of remarkable when you watch the film and think about it.

A third of the way through Satan’s Little Helper, the small community falls into anarchy as the five man police team is decimated and Satan changes faces and his numerous plans come together. People rush to get the Hell out of there as it dawns on them what they assumed were harmless Halloween jokes are, in fact, deadly serious.

It is in this final third of the movie that Satan’s Little Helper, I believe, delivers a bit of a message. Satan changes costumes several times towards the end of our film. First, into Jesus Christ (donning an infinitely creepier mask than his Devil get-up.) who Dougie has prayed for to help him after being led blindly by Satan, whom he thought was his friend before he gutted dad and tied his lower intestines to a dining room chair. Dougie instantly believes this visage of Christ is here to help, little does he realize, Christ is the same evil he is trying to avoid.

Christ stops by.

By film’s end, the family lets a police officer into their home assuming he is there to help. This authority figure is revealed to be the same killer wearing another mask, another costume, of a figure many of us are conditioned to trust and believe in. Watching the film again I began to wonder if this was a Christian film, but in the end I have a feeling it’s a cautionary tale about trusting authority and those in power. Satan, Jesus, law enforcement, or otherwise you should always question those in power and not just play the sheep who blindly follows.

Could it be? A movie that’s such a brain smashingly nasty bit of comic fun as Satan’s Little Helper could jam a damn message into the proceedings? I dunno. I may be reading way too much into this thing. All I know is it’s just as funny to watch Jesus savagely beat people as it is to watch Satan.

This Halloween season, if there’s one flick I recommend you check out if you haven’t already, it’s the indie sleeper Satan’s Little Helper. You’ll laugh, you’ll gasp, and just maybe learn a little something about yourself.

Stay Trashy,

-The Primal Root

Dumpster Diving