Archive for the 'The Primal root’s Rotten Reviews' Category

09
Apr
20

Evils of the Night (1985): Invasion of the Platelet Snatchers

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“Why you touchin’ my nipples like that?” – Jerry Butler as Eddie in Evils of the Night (1985)

a Primal Root written review

Man, the 1980’s seemed like a magical time when I was a child. I was born into them, 1982, as a matter of fact. The world was new to me, a bright, Technicolor spray of vomit filled with wonder, excitement, lessons and ideas that would boggle my mind and shape me into who I am today. Of course, later you lear the 1980’s were fucking terrible to huge, wide ranging section of our American society and the world abroad. You had the AIDS epidemic, the war on drugs, intense poverty rather than the prosperity Ronald Reagan’s trickle down economics gave us, the Iran Contra scandal, the shameful treatment of our Vietnam veterans…It was just was basically the pre-show entertainment before 2020. But  through the eyes of a fresh faced youth, the world was all Hi-C, chicken nuggets, movie monsters and big bouncy boobs.

But were you also aware that far off in distant galaxies they had it just as rough in the 1980’s? And, no, I’m not talking about Star Wars, besides, that happened a long time ago. No, I’m talking about the severe platelet shortage of 1985 that affected whatever planet John Carradine and Julie Newmar are from. What are platelets you ask? I’m glad you asked!

plate·let
/ˈplātlit/

noun

PHYSIOLOGY
plural noun: platelets
  1. a small colorless disk-shaped cell fragment without a nucleus, found in large numbers in blood and involved in clotting.

 

As we all know, the best platelets of all come from humans in their late teens, early 20’s which is why back in 1985 vast intergalactic civilizations were landing their UFO’s at local Lover’s Lanes, taking over abandoned hospitals, hiring sociopathic mechanics by paying them in gold coins to kidnap and deliver them captured kids, so that their platelets could be removed and beamed up to their Mother Ship for the survival of their species. Only, these brilliant civilizations with their space age technology never considered the one flaw in their planning…summer vacation!

“Network men analyzed many places and they decided that this was the ideal secluded college town. Well, Network was correct up to a point, but research didn’t know about summer vacations. College is closed until September which is too late for our purposes.” – Dr. Kozmar (John Carradine); Evils of the Night

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Okay, maybe that wasn’t ACTUALLY happening in the 1980’s but it sure as shit was going down at the Drive-In’s and Indoor Theaters of the time thanks to one of the strangest, most absurd and, to my amazement, thoroughly engrossing low budget amalgams of slasher horror, sci-fi and teen sex comedy I’ve ever witnessed, Evils of the Night.

Before the credits even roll we see the landing of a UFO from a far flung galaxy. No narration, no clue the what, when or where, and the credits unspool over two unlucky couples who decided to get it on under the cover of darkness in the woods surrounding the local lover’s lake. One couple gets right to it deep in the woods, where the couple next to the lake decides to smoke some of The Devil’s Harvest, before swimming and THEN plan on pummeling the her love piñata. “Great, now we can get HIGH!” the young man exclaims as the young bikini vixen pulls a dank joint from her thong clad crotch region. In a matter of second we are treated to some full frontal nudity from the sex starved co-ed in the woods before they start banging away doggy style after she lick lubes his rump splitter, while another cute couple gets high and goes swimming. She even gives him the rarest of sexual acts, the under water oral. Gang, I do not understand the logistics here. Then again, I am a severe asthmatic, so I can’t hold me breath all that long, especially not long enough to truly deliver any kind of memorable oral pleasure. But I guess it’s the effort that’s really endearing. Perhaps it’s different for you folks with normal, healthy, designer brand lungs. Feel free to let me know of your beneath the surface sexual encounters in the comments.

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Anyhoo, it all feels like the beginnings of  genuinely lovely evening, when all of a sudden some elderly gents wearing ski masks and grease stained mechanic work shirts…with their names on them, descend upon the young couple and leads to one of my favorite kills I’ve ever seen. You know that couple that is going at it with the fella burrowing from behind? Well, one of the masked mechanics sneaks up behind him and strangles him to death while his lascivious lover continues to pound out the veil! It’s fucking fantastic, she has no idea he is dead and continues to ride the fuck trolly to Mr. Fleshpod’s neighborhood! She steadily slows her motion as she realizes something is wrong, turns around, and is abducted. It is one of the funniest, perversely sexiest and simultaneously disturbing kills I’ve seen in a while. I know there’s something similar to this in Adam Green’s bland 2010 slasher film, Hatchet II, but Evils Of The Night did it to much greater impact, if you ask me.

Wait a minute, that’s 80’s porn star Crystal Breeze fucking the strangled corpse of her lover playing “First Girl Having Sex!” Would you believe this is the same year she starred in The Sperminator, Flaming Tongues and Cummin’ Alive as well as nineteen other porn flicks? Man, 1985 was a busy year for Crystal! Not only did she deliver the EXCEPTIONAL full frontal female nudity, but she also knocked her brief roll out of the park. Crystal, you are a legend and us sleazoids are forever in your debt.

One of the abducted teens, the stoner boy in tiny shorts, comes to in the abandoned hospital now inhabited by sexy ALIEN nurses wearing tiny glittery skirts and and several damn pounds of hairspray and make-up. He manages to escape while the two nurses, I shit you not, begin suggestively fondling one another. Huh? So, tiny shorts manages to overhear Dr. Kozmar (John Carradine) and Dr. Zarma’s (Julie Newmar) plan to extract as many platelets as possible from their victims before they die, any extracted after death, contaminates the whole batch. The platelets are used to stop bone deterioration int he elders of their kind and ALSO allows for them to live for hundreds of year. So, would it be accurate to call these platelet snatchers from beyond infinity intergalactic vampires? Feels accurate to me! Tiny Shorts then escapes into the woods only to be blasted to death with neon green lasers from one of the nurses. In his final moments, he gives one of the most spastic and wonderful laser guided death performances I’ve ever seen.

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Cut to the next day at Lover’s Lake where all the cool kids are sipping on Pepsi, swimming, playing pranks, spying on two topless girls covering one another in tanning oil which, in turn, inspires your girls friend to take her top off and try to fuck you on the beach, which you turn down. Seriously, it looks like this Lover’s Lake is happening with a bunch fun loving kids. The stand out amongst them, and who the poster art seems to be featuring, is the blonde in a tight, white and red horizontally striped shirt named Connie (G.T. Taylor, this is her only film role) who is incredibly sweet and kind of a dunce, but is a genuinely fun and charming character to be around. She’s out camping with her friends Brian (David Hawk, in his only film role), Heather (Bridget Holloman from Slumber Party ’57 and Stoogemania) and the engaged to be married love birds Ron (Keith Fisher from Cyberon and an episode of Diff’rent Strokes) and Nancy (Karrie Emerson, the raven haired beauty from Chopping Mall and White Dog). They spend their days frolicking in the sun and at night they put their hands in their campfire to see who is the better man (hint: It’s the man smart enough NOT to injure himself to prove his manhood) and talk about penises.  “Why make a big deal out of such a small thing?” Connie asks as Brian and Ron debate sticking their dicks in the fire to prove their manhood.

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From Left to Right: Ron (Keith Fisher), Nancy (Karrie Emerson), Connie (G.T. Taylor), Heather (Bidget Holloman) Brian (David Hawk)

There’s another unrelated couple who break into the cleanest, most well kept abandoned home I’ve ever seen. There’s no shit stains on the fuck mattress, the floors looks to be freshly swept and mopped, none of the windows are busted and there’s narry a cigarette butt, beer can or crusted over used condom in sight! What kind of abandoned, haunted fuck shack is this? Anyhoo, the couple Eddie (Jerry Butler as Paul Siederman, prolific porn actor from 1987 to 1995. You may have seen him the XXX films Snake Eyes (1985) or Star Angel (1986) and Joyce (legendary porn actress, Amber Lynn, who is STILL working in the adult industry to this very day, which is remarkably long career in pornography. She has won to AVGN Awards, one for best Sex Scene in a Feature Adult Film in 1986’s Ten Little Maidens and one in 2018’s Humanitarian Achievement Award) strip down and start going to town on the incredibly posh mattress at this crab shack. Well, she strips nude anyway, he actually keeps his jeans on, which I will never understand in slasher films. Fellas, have you EVER fucked with your pants on? Are you afraid of losing them? It’s so much easier just to take them off, I cannot even imagine the zipper burn one would inflict on their wang doodle. Also, I would be remiss if I did not mention Eddie’s dog lick form of smooching. This guy licks Joyce like a canine going after piece of Beefaroni. It’s probably the most energetic moment in the film as he licks all over Joyce’s tits and neck and chin and sucks on her chin, and it’s kind of…kind of gross. Perhaps that sort of tongue bath thing was the height of eroticism in 1985, but for me in 2020 it’s kind of gross.

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Joyce gets a tongue bath from Eddie in the nicest abandoned house I’ve ever seen.

Soon we learn that the masked mechanics are actually two great elderly screen actors who turned to horror cinema as soon as the choice rolls stopped coming their way. The two murderous morons for hire are chunky yet fleet-footed Fred (Aldo Ray from many classic films of the 50’s like 1955’s We’re No Angels and 1958’s The Naked and The Dead and would later be featured in 1986’s Star Slammer and his final film, 1991’s Shock ’em Dead) and the intensely perverse and sociopathic Kurt (Neville Brand from the Oscar winning 1959 film Stalag 17, Birdman of Alcatraz from 1962. He eventually went the horror route with Tobe Hooper’s Eaten Alive in 1976, Without Warning in 1980, and Evils of the Night would be his final screen roll.)  These two are introduce as playful lunk heads as they maintain their auto repair shop, but that playful, dopey demeanor can turn on a dime as they strike without warning, cracking your skull with a tire iron, and putting you out with some either, and then dragging you to the abandoned hospital under the promise of gold coins so you can be sucked dry by the vampires from outer space!

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Kurt and Fred: The Burt and Ernie of Space Vampire Murder for Hire! Gold Coins only, please.

 

Let me tell you, Evils of the Night is one exceedingly fun and effective b-movie. It actually takes the time to get you invested in the teen characters, who are actually fun, sweet, kind and adorably dopey. They more often than not fight back with all their might against the aggressors and you cannot help but root for them, especially when it comes down to Connie, Heather and Brian who end up tied up in the clutches of the perpetually horny and blood thirsty Kurt. I’m not going to spoil anything, but anyone can die at anytime and it can be genuinely heart breaking because these characters are so much fun to be around. Not only that, but the reactions of friends watching friends die is deeply effective, too, and that goes a long way to making slasher film murder really impact the audience.  David Hawk, who plays Brian, deserves some recognition for really going above and beyond in his grief stricken, rage fueled performance. His is not the norm for such Trash Cinema, where the emotion feels greatly genuine and I found deeply unsettling. I began Evil of the Night laughing my ass off at the cheesiness of the proceedings, but by the films final act I was surprised to find myself rooting on characters in scenes that are actually suspenseful. It goes from laughably cheesy to legit horror out of nowhere and it’s enough to give you whiplash.

Evils of the Night (1985)

 

Evils of the Night was directed by first timer Mardi Rustam, who shows an affinity for low budget horror, which makes since, since he worked in some capacity as a producer on such legendary no budget horrors as Tobe Hooper’s Eaten Alive and Al Adamson’s Dracula vs. Frankenstein.  That’s one Hell of a schlock horror pedigree! It’s a shame he only directed one other film, James Dean: Race With Destiny in 1996, because Trash Cinema really could have used more films exciting, weird, and uncompromisingly unique as his debut feature. I know the gentleman is still alive, so who knows? Maybe he has a few filthy films left in him.

Evils of the Night  is an honest to goodness Trash Cinema treasure and one well worth checking out. It has a little something for everyone including fans of classic actors and actresses from the 50’s and 60’s as well a hard working porn stars of the 80’s! Whre the Hell else are you going to find the likes of Crystal Breeze porking a corpse while celebrated character actor Neville Brand drills holes (literally, with a drill, that’s not a sexual metaphor) into nubile young women?  It’s unpredictable, filled with fun, no budget science fiction tropes, great goofy characters, gore, one liners, gratuitous female nudity, awesome villains, awesome 80’s soundtrack and plenty of scenes that will either leave you laughing, scratching you head or actually hoping the characters you like survive…the EVILS OF THE NIGHT!

I am awarding Evils of the Night FIVE out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

WARNING! THIS EVILS OF THE NIGHT TRAILER CONTAINS MASSIVE SPOILERS! I HIGHLY RECOMMEND YOU DO NOT WATCH IT UNLESS YOU’VE ALREADY SEEN THE FILM!

Honestly, this trailer gives away the last third of the film and there are some awesome surprises and genuine shocks. Go see the movie first. I guarantee you won’t regret it.

 

 

 

 

04
Apr
20

Don’t Mess With My Sister! (1985) Stanky Lad’s Junkyard For The Human Spirit

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a Primal Root written review

“YOU FUCKED A BELLYDANCER, YOU BASTARD!” – Clara, Don’t Mess With My Sister!

There’s no denying Meir Zarchi’s I Spit On Your Grave aka: Day Of The Woman from 1978 is a milestone is exploitation cinema. Among the most notable in the brutal rape/revenge genre that is, for obvious reasons, incredibly divisive. With it’s legendary ad campaign, “THIS WOMAN HAS JUST CUT, CHOPPED, BROKEN AND BURNED FIVE MEN BEYOND RECOGNITION…BUT NO JURY IN AMERICA WOULD CONVICT HER!” and it’s taboo nature, it has become a legendary dark destination in our American Trash Cinema landscape. It’s what Meir Zarchi will go down in history for.

However…There is another.

Oh yes, 1985 Meir Zarchi finally came out with a sophomore effort entitled, Don’t Mess With My Sister! A film that answers the burning question of what would happen if Martin Scorsese got in a horse riding accident, suffered severe brain damage, but once recovered decided to craft a movie for Lifetime Television. It was not the explosive action revenge film I had imagined in my head looking at the poster art, no, far from it. It’s instead, a heavy clunkster of a marital drama about an immensely unlikeable dipshit named Steven (Joe Perce from 1987’s The Hidden and 1989’s Black Rain) who is married to his sweet wife Clara (Jeanine Lemay in her only acting credit), has a little daughter named Candy, is about to graduate from the Columbia Business School in New York and moonlights as the accountant at his brothers-in-law Roberto (Jack Gurci, who went on to never act again) and Dino’s (Peter Sapienza whose only other film credit is 1986’s Osa) junkyard “Stinky Lad’s Salvage (okay, that’s just a name I made up, but it feels fitting since these guys never change their all denim wardrobes), who we find out, are PAYING Steven’s college tuition. Not only that, but we meet Steven on his birthday and his brothers-in-law surprise Steven with a $20 dollar raise! Steven bitches, they raise it to $30! Steven still bitches because he wants to be a partner and it nearly breaks down into a fist fight. Yes, this movie takes place in New York and the characters are all New Yorkers.

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So, Steven is a little bitch with dark rings around his eyes, talks like he took several blows to the head with a lead pipe and gives off the most unsympathetic creeper/ghoul vibes I’ve ever come across outside a vampire film and we, as an audience, I assume are meant to root for this horse’s ass.

His wife throws him a surprise birthday party where it’s apparent there are some animosities between the mothers from both sides of the family, the brothers-in-law and Steven, and Steven’s Mom and Steven’s wife. Anyway, everyone is complaining, drinking and at each other’s throats until the belly dancer Clara hired, Annika ( Laura Lanfranchi, again, her only on screen appearance), who manages to entertain everyone, even manages to get Steven’s wine swigging ancient mother up and dancing like it’s Spring Break on Panama City Beach, and catches the illicit gaze of dipshit Steven.

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The very next night, Steven returns Annika’s costume bra to her at school after receiving the worst advice ever from his shrimpy man best bud, Jerry, who tells Steven that girls leave bras behind so that men will sleep with them and that he shouldn’t let this one get away! Oh, brother, hunker down, because here comes the litany of terrible decisions and events that just pour over till the end credits roll. Steven returns the costume bra to Annika and offers her a ride to a private gig of her’s where she performs the dance of the seven veils, or what have you, for an over weight millionaire with NO BACK, and NO ONE there to protect her if shit goes wrong. As wealthy men typically do, he attempts to force himself upon her, when she tries to shove him aside, he lashes out with the typical rapist catch phrases “What did you THINK I invited you here for?” Before Steve hears the struggle all the way outside, in his car, and rushes in the beat the shit out of the guy before Annika murders him with a well placed bottle of wine to the cranium.

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So, what to do after murdering an incredibly wealthy rapist, leaving your prints all over the fucking mansion and squealing out of his driveway in front of a woman walking her dogs? What else? You go back to your accomplices apartment, do a culturally insensitive African tribal dance in her living room replete with spear and soundtrack album then fuck in her shower.

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Steven eventually makes it home to find wife asleep and levels the excuse that his tire blew out and it took all night to fix. Of course, as these things do, people start talking, who saw what and where people actually were and the next thing you know Steve is getting his ass caved in by Clara, Roberto and Dino in the junkyard. Everyone continues to do violent, terrible things to one another, the murder makes the front page and is all over the news, Clara slices open a stuffed monkey, Steven shoots a shotgun at his brothers-in-law who, now that Steven is packing heat and trying to kill them, wants to make Steven a partner at Stanky Lad’s. It all ends as abruptly as it began and we are left with our heads spinning after witnessing an all-you-can-eat buffet of loathsomeness from a full cast of terrible fucking characters.

What lesson should we take away from Don’t Mess With My Sister? What exactly was this film even about? Who the fuck were these people and how was I supposed to care? It’s an exercise in the most heinous and selfish of human behavior where there’s no good guys and no real payoffs. It’s like an episode of Seinfeld directed by Lars Von Trier with no laugh track. I think it might be trying to say something about the greed of men and how it leads them to covet and do terrible things in the name of getting ahead and trying to seek pleasure where they can and how this lead to a world of hurt to everyone involved. Also, I can imagine that Clara is the sister of the title we should not be messing with? Basically, Don’t Mess With My Sister is a baffling slice of unfiltered shittiness that will leave you pondering what in fucking Hell you just experienced. You’re dropped into a world of scumbags and left with no meaning or ending.

Hey, at least Meir Zarchi was trying to shake the stigma of his greatest achievement and try something new. It really feels like he’s reaching for a Mean Streets vibe here, but he just doesn’t quite have the knack for it. If we were given more history for these characters, some kind of back story, perhaps the drama elements would have worked. It’s difficult to mix straight ahead drama with elements of exploitation and really make a tasty concoction. The drama elements don’t work because the focus is a bit to heavy on all the conflict, but without the base understanding of where everyone is coming from, it just doesn’t congeal and we are left with a bunch of raging, screaming, violent assholes spraying verbal diarrhea that is worthless, meaningless shit to the audience. And the exploitation cinema vibes are there, but there’s no fun to be had. No real over the top excess, besides the constant “fucks” and “Shits” this could easily be a Lifetime Movie of the Week.

Here’s to you, Meir Zarchi, for taking the risk. I only wish it had paid off better.

I am awarding Don’t Mess With My Sister ONE AND A HALF STARS out of FIVE.

Meir Zarchi would not dirrect another film until 2019’s I Spit On Your Grave: Deju Vu. I will get around to checking that one out soon.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

03
Apr
20

Uninvited (1987): Kitty Carnage On The Open Sea!

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“Nothing’s going to stop me from getting to The Caymans!” George Kennedy as Mike Harvey in Uninvited

a Primal Root written review

Man, what I wouldn’t give for a trip across the deep blue sea in an enormous private yacht with a few bikini clad women by my side taking us all the way to the Cayman Islands for a bit of the old social distancing from a world falling apart at the seams. But, as it turns out I’m not a wealthy criminal scum bag, so this will have to remain a fantasy rather than beautiful reality. Thank goodness there are movies like 1987’s direct to video schlock classic, Uninvited, to help indulge me in this minor dream of paradise. Well, except there happens to be a radioactive mutant cat on board that’s vicious and has a bite that’s fatally poisonous and there is a trio of criminals running the yacht as fast as possible to the Cayman Islands in order to pick up a ton of money they garnered from their illegal white collar crimes…Okay, besides the boat, the trip and the bikinis…and possibly the fresh fruit platter in one of the early scenes, there’s very little this movie has in common with my current quarantine fantasies.

Anyhoo, Uninvited was directed by none other than the legendary master of low grade cheese, Greydon Clark, who is a familiar name to any trash cinema connoisseur or Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan, having lended is immeasurable skills to such classics as 1979’s Angel’s Brigade aka: Angel’s Revenge, the 1985 Joe Don Baker vehicle Final Justice, the 1983 arcade sex comedy Joysticks and the 1977 Satanic classic, Satan’s Cheerleaders, so you know what you’ve signed up for if you’re sitting down for a viewing. The rest of you better hold on to your pussies.

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The film begins with the opening credits unspooling over some guys in lab coats waving a syringe around a fluffy British Shorthair kitty. They inject the cat with some mysterious radioactive elixir and can makes a break for it out the OPEN DOOR to their top secret experimental laboratory. The kitty makes it’s way to the stairwell where it barfs up a monstrous, bigger, poisonous version of itself, which lays waste to a half dozen gun toting security team guys sent to capture the kitten, leaving the stairwell walls covered in blood. The mad scientists grab their guns and try to track the cat down in the parking garage only to be ripped to pieces before the cat gets into the air duct, unscrews a grate and escapes to the streets.

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Meanwhile, two incredibly fuckable young ladies, Suzanne (Shari Shattuck from 1989’s Death Spa) and Bobbie (Clare Carey from 1988’s Waxwork) show up to a fancy pants resort and are immediately spotted by wealthy criminal business man, Walter Graham (Alex Cord, probably best known for the TV series Airwolf) who buys the two ladies dinner then invites them to a private party on his yacht. Of course, the guy has money and has bought them food, so they are more than eager to slob his knob and live the highlife for a bit until Captain Moneybags grows tired of them and throws them overboard for a younger model. First, Graham must have a business meeting with his goons, Mike (George Kennedy, from The Naked Gun and Just Before Dawn) and Albert (Clu Gulager, from Return of the Living Dead and A Nightmare on Elm Street part 2: Freddy’s Revenge, who is wearing a really goofy set of Bubba teeth in this role which really sells his…colorful character) so they can drown a business associate in the yacht’s hot tub.

In the meantime, our poisonous mutant cat is roaming all over town murdering assholes, which seems to be the plague cat’s M.O. The kitte seems friendly to those who feed it, but takes pleasure in dealing out violent, bloody radioactive death to those who hurt those who are kind to it. Several scum bags end up shredded to ribbons, poisoned an/or exploded in their cars before the kitty makes it’s way towards the marina where Graham is docked…

Cut to the next morning where we are introduced to three dorky guys sitting at the same marina where Graham has his yacht and Suzanne and Bobbie are staying. These three dorks are Martin, Lance and Corey.  Martin is a biologist, Corey a yuppie and Lance is just a huge dork in a Hawaiian shirt looking to get laid. They sit around sipping orange juice until Suzanne and and Bobbie show up in their fetching bikinis and invite them to join them onboard Graham’s yacht for some fun.

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Okay, I have a few issues with this already. Not with the cat barfing up a furry, fanged, radioactive monster, but with the human interactions on display.

Number One: When does this ever happen? Two women make a b-line straight to three obviously horny doofuses and invite them to party with them? No names exchanged, no greetings, just “Hey, you’re cute, want to party and protect us in the case a millionaire criminal might possibly decide to assault us? ” They actually mention that, by the way. “You look like you’ll be able to protect us if Graham tries anything.” Huh? Who are you and what are you talking about?  Are you paying us? Are you prostitutes and we’re having to pay you? What is the situation, here? At least tell me your name before we head to some strangers yacht! Which brings me to…

Number Two: Who in their right mind invites strangers to the abode of someone you’ve just met? Without even clearing it with them! This is the epitome of shitty manners which shows no consideration and total disrespect for the person who extended their hand and invited you and your friend, and only the two of you, aboard their yacht. Imagine you’ve invited just a friend or two over and without telling you they invite a group of folks over to your house that you do not know and just show up with them. Not asking you, just showing up at your house with strangers. It’s a fucking jerk thing to do and I already can’t stand anyone in this movie.

Number Three: WHAT ABOUT THE PRIVATE PARTY! There’s all this talk and build up to the awesome party on this yacht and WE NEVER GET TO WITNESS IT! Apparently it’s going to be this blow out event on the yacht, probably with booze, debauchery, topless ladies, donkey shows, etc. But the audience is not important enough to join the festivities. We just weren’t sexy enough to invite. Fuck these guys.

Anyway, on with the review.

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Of course, the eager young guys accept the invitation and head out to the rich guy’s yacht with the two bikini clad beauties, one of which discovers our dangerously cute and cuddly radioactive science experiment monster cat at the marina. Suzanne clutches the kitty against her ample bosom and decides the kitty is coming aboard Graham’s yacht for the pleasure cruise, despite the cat obviously not wanting to go anywhere, let alone be held, as it squirms desperately trying to get out of Suzanne’s bubble blonde clutches. Young biologist Martin notices the kitty has a testing facility tag on it, but tosses it aside assuming the cat is fit as a fiddle and SURELY hasn’t been experimented upon with some terribly virus or toxic chemicals that will kill himself, his friends and these bodacious babes. We’re young, YOLO, let’s get this party started!

I-Mockery.com | Uninvited - A Horror Film About A Mutant Killer ...

We learn quickly from the yacht’s young captain, Rachel (Toni Hudson from Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III and School Spirit) that during the party we never witnessed, Graham lost his temper, berated the crew, and they all quit except for her. Which works out well, since these new, uninvited guests climb aboard THEY can earn their keep by being the new crew as they flee for The Cayman Islands as Albert delivers the news that The Feds are closing in on the yacht! So, this motley crew or young kid who just want to eat, dance and fuck, the old geezer criminals who cannot stop talking about getting to “The Caymans” and the poor little captain with heart of gold and a deep desire to own the yacht that once belonged to her Father but was purchased away from the family by the evil, greedy, Graham, tries her best to keep all this shit under control.

Cat Rifftrax Uninvited GIF by RiffTrax - Find & Share on GIPHY

 

But it doesn’t take long for it all to go right to shit as Albert takes over Captain duties for about fifteen minutes in which time he manages to get wine drunk and take the whole voyage way of course before spitting wine all over the monster kitty and paying the ultimate price for his rudeness when the little kitty opens it’s jaws and lets out the malicious mutant cat…living in it’s stomach? The science really made abundantly clear, but Albert gets a good potion of his throat stripped out, but what remains begins to pulsate violently before he falls overboard to become shark food. Soon, the trip to The Cayman’s has been delayed as Rachel makes the call to go back and look for Albert, which lead to Mike pulling a gun on all these”young punks” and proclaims “NOTHING  IS GONNA STOP ME FROM GETTING TO THE CAYMANS!” before the vicious monster cat nearly bites his foot off. Mike lays on the couch for a while as everyone screams at each other, which is hysterical, because all through the scene you hear George Kennedy’s deep voice moaning and groaning as everyone else argues and it sounds just like he’s getting an incredibly good blow job just off screen. That is, until his stomach starts pulsating and something starts emerging just beneath the skin. The entire group gathers and huddles real close over Mike’s warped body as something inside his stomach begins rising up like an eternal boner, and it looks like we’re about to get another Alien chest burster sort of scene, but Mike dies, the internal stomach boner subsides and we are left wishing we had gotten to see a blood geyser and head into the rest of the film feeling more disappointed than we were when we missed the yacht party earlier in the film.

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The monster cat is known, the remaining crew of the SS Evil Pussy is dead in the water after the engine over heated and shut off, emotions are running high, food and fresh water are running out and it’s only a matter of time until the Toxic Kitten…starts to get hungry…

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Uninvited is a shockingly fun little monster movie which relies heavily on it’s great cast of talent who genuinely make the film way better than it has any right to be, selling a killer rubber furry cat monster puppet like it we JAWS. It’s goofy fun that doesn’t make a lick of sense, but as the characters grow more desperate an unhinged aboard their stranded, doomed yacht, their performances really come to life and they totally sell their dilemma, which I know few of us have ever experienced in real life. The effects are rudimentary, but add the charm of the overall experience, which I can guarantee, you will never go through outside of Uninvited. It’s a one of a kind horror of the high seas survival film with an obviously minimal budget, but a cast and crew willing to go the distance to deliver. Only drawback, and it’s one of the greatest detriments to the film, the are absolutely no tits in this film. None of the actresses are willing to bare anything in this low rent straight to video horror film. I turned to my wife about three quarters of the way through this flick and mentioned it, “Man, I honestly don’t think we are going to see a single bare breast in this thing!” Sure, the girls tease the boys and the audience with the promise of tits to come, but the moment never occurs. And honestly, I almost didn’t notice because the movie is such a strange voyage into absurdist horror that I was thoroughly entertained to the point of not really caring. I wanted to see where the story was going and what was going to happen to this lively group of teeny boppers and AARP members with the pussy punisher roaming freely aboard the ship. For a films to have me nearly forget about boobs is a pretty amazing feat. Plus, there is something eternally endearing about watching cats terrorize and kill people.

I am awarding Uninvited with THREE AND A HALF out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets.

Uninvited is a furry, slimy, straight to video trash schlock fest well worth the voyage. I do recommend if you’ve got a fondness for puppets, great character actors and sense of adventure. A sense of humor will also help you out tremendously. Half a nugget eduction for lack of nudity.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

 

 

 

 

23
Mar
20

(NSFW) Night Killer (1990): Tasty Fright Chicken

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“FRIED CHICKEN AND FRENCH FRIES!” – Peter Hotten as Axel, Night Killer (1990)

a Primal Root written review

1990 was filmmaker Claudio Fragasso’s year, man. In 1990 his magnum opus, most fully realized and beloved film Troll 2 saw the light of day as a direct to video release. It’s a film that has gained an ever expanding and rabid fanbase with it’s bizarre concepts, lost in translation screenplay, goofball acting and bargain basement effects mingling with it’s genuine nature basically guaranteed it would find an audience over the years to laugh and cherish it for it’s bonkers presentation.

 

But, a far lesser known darker, more adult and, until recently, incredibly difficult to find offering from Claudio Fragasso was released in 1990 under the title Night Killer. It’s film that, too, has gained cult status for many the same reasons as Troll 2, even enjoying a similar retitling to try and sell it as a sequel to something it was never intended to be. Italian producers actually retitled the thing Non Aprite Quella Porta 3, which translates to Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3, therefore making Night Killer Italy’s unofficial third sequel to Tobe Hooper’s legendary Texas Chainsaw Massacre despite Night Killer not featuring a single chainsaw in any shot of the film much like Troll 2 only featured Goblins…and not a single goddamn Troll.

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Night Killer begins with a spastic and, frankly, embarrassingly bad dance rehearsal for some kind of on stage production. One of the performers arrives late, gets naked and then then punched entirely through the gut by a killer is a strange, creepy fright mask that looks like it might have been left in the car too long on a hot summer day, as it appears more than a little melty. Not only that, but the killer is also wearing a dark trench coat and highly rubbery Freddy Krueger inspired glove on his right hand featuring long corn cob yellow finger nails. When you put all the pieces together, The Night Killer actually kind of looks like Freddy Krueger and The Toxic Avenger’s love child.  So, after we see the late dancer’s bare breasts, she is impaled and dies. Farewell and adieu to you bare breasted lady!

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Noticing her absence and also having the epiphany that whatever fucking musical dance show she is directing is going to suck goat balls, the musical’s director flies into a bizarre, seemingly unscripted improvised rage where she mumbles a lot, and stumbles over what she’s saying before storming off the stage to find the late performer who went to change. When she finds the dead dancer’s corpse, The Night Killer slits her throat takes his fucking time chasing her off the top balcony of the theater where she plummets to her death. The chase takes what feels like an eternity as the director gasps for air and tries to scream while dramatically stumbling down corridors, up stairs, downstairs and eventually over the railing. It feels like an appropriate death scene for a theater major.

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We are then treated to an opening credit sequence where a woman hands off her pre-teen daughter and her luggage to an unidentified man, then the man brings the little girl to who I must assume is his wife. Honestly, this happens over the opening credits and I have no idea who these fucking people are, how they’re related or what the situation is. I assumed it was a pair of divorced parents and the little girl was going to spend the weekend with her Dad and her step-Mom, but we find out, later, that this is not the case at all. But this child hand-off opening sequences is totally baffling as there is no dialogue whosoever to establish just what the Hell is happening.

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Turns out, the lady who just sent her daughter packing is our main character, her name is Melanie Beck (Tara Buckman, who you may remember as Billy and Ricky’s slain Mom in the original Silent Night, Deadly Night) who eats what looks like an entire club sandwich for breakfast before lowering the neckline of her oversized sweater to stare at her tits in the mirror and perform the rare horror movie soliloquy about her marriage being on the rocks before being interrupted by a call from her ex-husband who she estimates is “drunker than usual” and explains to him that Clarissa has gone away to the country with Annie, so, again I must assume here that Clarissa is Melanie’s daughter and Annie is possibly the woman we saw in the opening credits. It’s strange having a movie that’s so damn mysterious you have to try and figure just who the characters are. Anyhoo, the phone call with who might be her estranged husband ends with he her screaming “DON’T EVER CALL ME AGAIN!” into he receiver before slamming the phone down and her possible estranged husband shattering his glass in his hand and screaming “MELANIE!” We never see his face, as his back is turned to us in every shot he is in and his voice sounds a lot like the killer’s. Could it be him?

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Fast forward a second or two and she receives another phone call from the actual killer who tells her “You’re a fine looking woman, Mrs. Beck. You’re just MADE to be fucked senseless.” and “I won’t kill you straight away, first I’m going to fuck your BRAINS out!” She hangs up, calls the cops, but it’s too late. The masked killer reveals himself to already be inside her home with the line, “I can’t wait 5 minutes, Mrs. Beck, I’m too HORNY!” Melanie fights valiantly to kill the intruder, but it’s no use. Once cornered, the killer reveals his face to her, not the audience, and we cut to a week later where she has amnesia and it turns out she was rescued offscreen by a man named Sherman, who is married to Annie and takes care of Melanie’s daughter Clarissa. See, it’s ALL coming together! Sherman even got a deep cut across his face for saving Melanie. And, for whatever reason, only Melanie can identify the man who held her captive for eight hours despite Sherman’s face to face encounter with the Night Killer. I’m sure there must be some logical explanation for this, but being that this is a Claudio Fragasso film, you never know if this is a clue, a red herring, or just inept screenwriting and filmmaking, so everything is absolutely unreliable. We also learn from Sherman that Melanie’s husband was booted off the police for undisclosed reasons. The plot thickens to the point of crusting over as it becomes unidentifiable!

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Immediately after Melanie is released from the hospital an asshole in a jeep drives up next to her and begins cat calling her between taking swings of his 40oz. She flicks him off and speeds off, but he stalks her down to a restroom where she pulls a gun, makes him strip nekkid, and dump his clothes in the crapper. He runs out of the restroom and drops this incredible line of dialog…

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Now, you might think this sweaty, bug eyed creeper with the incredibly active body language will never be heard from again, but this psychopathic stalker actually tracks Melanie down at the beach where she is attempting to kill her herself with a load of pills. This guy actually picks her up, carries her into the ocean, forces her head under water so she is forced to drink salt water so she’ll barf up all the pills she just ingested. This moment of valiant and violent heroics is followed by this guy kidnapping Melanie and keeping her locked in a seedy motel room where he presents her with Kentucky Fried Chicken and French Fries “Nothing does it to me like friiiiied chicken!” before sticking a unloaded gun in her mouth and pulling the trigger and tying her down nekkid and making her say “Pretty Please” over and over again. This bug eyed, vicious rapist is named Axel (Peter Hooten from Orca: The Killer Whale (1977) and Inglorious Bastards (1978)). We are led to believe this guy is the actual Night Killer as we see THE Night Killer impaling voluptuous blonde woman at the local aquarium after hours and killing prostitutes in his art studio after they recite the fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood and then putting them in identical masks as him and making out with their dead bodies as Axel hold Melanie hostage. Are they one and the same? Are there two separate homicidal rapist scumbags running around this little city? I can only tell you that this film is so absolutely off the wall unpredictable and poorly put together, I doubt you will be able to guess every twist and turn Night Killer has to reveal by it’s laugh out loud what the fuck conclusion.

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Night Killer is actually a pretty impressively devious, dark, demented horror film that doesn’t let logic or any for of real common sense get in the way of it’s hysterically over the top, super imaginative, if completely illogical twists.  What really helps are the no holds barred over the top performances from the entire cast. Top to bottom, everyone is going for the gold and trying to sell this fucking movie. Sure, their performances are wacky and laughable…across the board, actually, as they try with all their mediocre acting might to pull of this ludicrous dialog. There are even some moments of genuine terror, especially during scenes between Melanie and Axel as the actors both play off one another really well. Every scene is pitched to the extreme and it’s something that works in Night Killer‘s favor and makes the proceedings far more enjoyable and engrossing, even if it is in a laughably Trash Cinema way.

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I understand writer/director Claudio’s original vision was to make a psychological horror film with very little violence and gore, but the producers balked at the director’s initial edit of the filmed and hired exploitation legend Bruno Mattei (director of Rats: Night of Terror (1984) and Strike Commando (1987)) to add some gore to the proceedings, hence, all the really out of place moments of Night Killer’s claw punching through people. I honestly think the psychological horror elements are the strongest of the film. You can feel what Claudio was really going for with Night Killer and the gore elements always come off as out of place and make the film feel even cheaper than it obviously is.

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This was my very first time seeing Night Killer and I was genuinely impressed by this trashy slice of cheese. It was not afraid to go to some pretty extreme places, took a lot of risks, and obviously not afraid to create a film that was absolutely baffling and send the audience through a dark, nasty tale without a map or even a compass. You literally are thrown in totally blind, with no clue as to who these people are, what’s going on, what the time frame is or how things are connected and you are expected to keep up and fill in the blanks. And it works. It blows my mind to say it, but by the film’s end, being kept in the absolute dark makes it all work. It’s either really tricky and somewhat smart screenwriting, or it’s absolutely moronic and they got lucky. I like to think it’s the work or a Trash Cinematic genius. Let’s face it, Troll 2 shouldn’t work either, but goddamn if it’s not one of the most legendarily entertaining Trash Cinema films ever made. Night Killer is cut from the same cloth and deserves just as much notoriety and recognition among Trash Cinema fans.

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I am awarding Night Killer FOUR AND A HALF out of FIVE DUMPSTER NUGGETS.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

 

 

20
Mar
20

Leprechaun (1993) Fuck you, Lucky Charms!

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“Try as they will, and try as they might, who steals me gold won’t live through the night.” The Leprechaun; Leprechaun (1993)

a Primal Root written review

The realm of mythical creatures is a veritable smorgasbord of imagination fuel and inspiration lubricant. From Trolls, to Goblins even Fairies, Dwarves and Elves. All can be extracted from the whimsical and often deeply unsettling tales and transplanted into a low-rent schlocky monster movie destined to go straight to video and find it’s cult following. It’s all just old world make believe where you can either choose to follow the rules already established in centuries of story telling, come up with your own bullshit to justify your no budget monster movie, or pick and choose some of both, toss them in your screenplay blender, and you’ll nearly make something at least entertaining 95% of the time.

Then there’s 1993’s Leprechaun, the film that sent the elementary school video rental kid into a tizzy as we reeled at the concept of something so absurd being transformed into something absolutely terrifying. It felt dirty, it felt cheap and it was genuinely unnerving to little kid Root, who grew up with children’s programming and sugary sweet cereal that ALWAYS portrayed Leprechaun’s as incredibly sweet creatures. Then you would catch the fucking trailer for Leprechaun and you had to reevaluate everything you once held sacred. It honestly wasn’t until Iw as about 11 or 12 when I finally got around to renting The Leprechaun and, well, it certainly didn’t live up to the unrelenting horror I had dreamed up in my head while looking at the VHS box on the shelf at Video 21. Sure, it’s not a very successful horror film, but it does have it’s…LUCKY charms. Uuughhh…I’m not even a Dad and I made that joke.

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The Leprechaun franchise, which runs eight films long and provided Warwick Davis paychecks during those dark days before the Harry Potter film series and Disney hadn’t yet bought the rights to Star Wars and begun shitting out empty husks of nostalgia, and sent the pint sized horror the the far off reaches of outer space (Leprechaun 4: In Space) to the the center of urban decay…TWICE (Leprechaun in the Hood, Leprechaun Back 2 Tha Hood). But it all began humbly enough back in 1993 with a little farm house in the middle of nowhere, a stolen bag of gold and yet to be known Friend.

The movie starts in 1983 with a sweaty, whiskey drenched old Irish guy named Dan O’Grady coming back home to his North Dakota farm house from his trip to Ireland and brags to his wife that he has stolen gold from a Leprechaun and that this is the last they’ll see of this old piece of shit farm! He goes to hide the gold, The Leprechaun turns out to have followed O’Grady home and murders Mrs. O’Grady by tossing her down the basement stairs before Dan grabs a four leaf clover and traps the Leprechaun in a crate down in the basement. O’Grady pours gasoline on the crate, strikes a match…then suffers stroke and falls to the floor before he gets the chance to torch the little malicious magical monster.

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Fast forward to 1993 and and Father and Daughter duo, J.D. Redding (John Sanderford) and Tory (Jennifer Aniston. Yes, THAT Jennifer Aniston) are driving out to North Dakota to live in the old, abandoned O’Grady farm house. As you might suspect, Jennifer Aniston’s character is a none stop whining, complaining, bitch of a character which feels king of like her entire career trajectory. Honesty, could you point me out a Jennifer Aniston character that is actually no a self obsessed spoiled shrew? Seriously, she has been playing the same character for decades with the same inflection, line delivery and mannerisms. She’s unbearable as ever, here, as rich, vegan, Evian water drinking wet blanket, Tory. Get used to it, because you’re going to spending a whole lot of time with her.

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Tory hates the place (SURPRISE, SURPRISE!) and makes plans to stay in a hotel until she meets a slab of beefcake painting the farm house who goes by the name of Nathan (Ken Olandt of April Fool’s Day & Summer School fame ) who mentions how “Girls are always afraid of spiders and dust” which brings out Tory’s feminist tendencies and, now, refuses to leave because she is a 90’s woman and not afraid of anything despite actually stating that she IS afraid of spiders, dust, dirt and manual labor not three minutes before. But, now she has something to prove to the hunky Nathan, so she will continue to miserable and complain for the length of the film.

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We are son introduced to the two most likable Non-Leprechaun characters in the film, Alex and Ozzie, who work with Nathan and his “Three Guys Who Paint” business . Alex (Robert Hy Gorman from Rookie of the Year & Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead) is Nathan’s 10 year old brother and Ozzie (Mark Holton from Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure & Teen Wolf) a man-child sort of fellow. These two banter, bicker and end up being the characters in charge of keeping to plot moving forward. Ozzie is the one who unleashes the Leprechaun from the crate while alone in the basement, and is threatened with having his ear bitten off and having it turned into a boot if he doesn’t fork over his stolen gold. It’s a baffling threat, but one I really like and have filed away to use at the proper moment in my own life when someone is giving me shit. Freddy never makes these kinds of intimidating aggressions. His is mostly observational puns, not really “I’m going to rip off this from your body and repurpose it entirely.” But, I digress…

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For the first half of the movie we basically get all the character mistaking The Leprechaun for an animal. Someone sees or feels something, claims it’s a Leprechaun, then it is blamed on a rat or a cat. I was personally hoping for someone to blame something on a bat so we could get the “at” trifecta in play, but it never happened, sadly. J.D., Tory’s Dad, even makes the idiotic mistake of reaching his entire fucking arm into a tree to try and GRAB what he thinks is an injured cat only to have his hand nearly bitten of by The Leprechaun. They rush poor old Pop to the hospital and we literally never see him again.

Meanwhile, Ozzie and Alex chase down the end of a rainbow which leads to an abandoned truck where Dan O’Grady stashed the stolen gold all those years ago. After Ozzie accidentally swallows a gold coin while attempting to bite it and prove that it’s real, (oh, Ozzie) they take the sack of coins into town and leave a coin over night with a rare coin specialist. But as the specialist goes to open up his safe to hide gold coin for the night, out busts The Leprechaun with a jig, a laugh, and well placed snaggle-toothed voracious bite to what is either the man’s upper leg for dangling ball sack. One thing must be mentioned about this film, the lighting is absolutely horrendous. Either the lighting it dull and flat as shit or it’s pitch black where you can hardly tell what’s happening. So, either way, Lep bites the shit out of the guy and drop him to the ground before threatening the guy in rhymes and then grabbing and nearby pogo stick, and I shit you not, pogo sticking the man to death. Yes, The Leprechaun gets on the pogo stick and bounces repeatedly on the mans chest while singing, “This old Lep, he played one, he played pogo on his lung!” In all honestly, this movie comes to life and becomes a Hell of a good time whenever Warwick shows up as The Leprechaun. The man is over the top, malicious and funny as shit. You can tell the guy is relishing the chance to play such an animated villainous character and is taking full advantage of the role.

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Soon, that night there is a brutal standoff at the old O’Grady farm house where the Leprechaun is willing to stop at nothing until he gets all 100 gold coins back. There’s even an exceptionally goofy action set piece where the Leprechaun hides out int he kitchen cabinets and Jennifer Aniston is throwing them open to Nathan can blast the shit out of them with his shot gun, only The Leprechaun is too quick and keeps taunting the hapless heroes which leads to Leprechaun reaching his arm out of a drawer and clamps his claws around Nathan’s nuts and squeezes them like a pair of grapes. It’s a hilarious moment and genuinely one of the few comedic moments that really work.

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This final half of the film feels like it consists of none stop chases where The Leprechaun tries out multiple modes of transportation to catch his victims. He tries roller skates, go-carts, hospital gurneys, wheel chairs, modified tractors, etc. They speed up the film to make it look like he just might catch them, but it ends up looking ridiculous and just makes you chuckle.

Towards the end of the film. Jennifer Aniston gives The Leprechaun his sack of gold, only for The Leprechaun to realize there’s a single could missing and it’s currently making it’s way through Ozzies poop chute. The Leprechaun gives chase to Ozzie and begins slashing the hell out of the guy with his boot buckle to try and get his gold back. Will Ozzie end up having his guts ripped out by The Leprechaun? Will Jennifer Aniston’s STOP complaining for a moment and try to help someone? While Nathan perhaps display some simple competence and maybe notice, after shooting The Leprechaun for the 100th time, filling The Lep full of led DOESN’T WORK? With Alex use his cunning slingshot skills to win the day? You’ll have to check out Leprechaun to find out!

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There is one shining, glittering bit of solid gold in the film Leprechaun and it is obviously Warwick Davis. The man has brought to life countless popular characters and his turn as The Leprechaun is truly a treat to behold. The man brings so much life to what is otherwise a shockingly dull, bland and dishearteningly unimaginative slog. Whenever Warwick is on screen, you forget how bored you’ve been for the last several minutes and it keeps you hooked and waiting for his next goofy, fun, nasty over the top appearance. The kills, besides the pogo stick death, are all underwhelming. There’s an extended foot chase with a police office through the woods you anticipate will have a great death scene, but instead, The Leprechaun simply snaps the police officer’s neck. Dude, this scene takes up what feels like fifteen minutes of screen time and all you can deliver is the actor turning his head and adding the sound of someone snapping celery? Shit like that is fucking annoying. You spend that much time chasing someone in a slasher movie, you better make it worth the time.

Leprechaun almost come off like a PG-13 horror flick. There’s literally no sexuality whatsover. Not a pair of bare breasts in sight. The gore is hardly there. There’s some bloody stuff, including an eye removal, but this content would probably be presented on prime time television without even needing to be censored. It almost feels like it was made for TV and has a kind of flat, poorly produced hollow quality to it. It’s the very bare beginnings of a franchise I really feel gets better as it goes and the more outlandish and silly the story devices become. By the time The Leprechaun heads to space, the creative minds behind the ongoing series realized that campiness works REALLY well for the series. Plus they realized sex and violence are ALSO why I’m spending my money and time on this, so they began shoehorning tits and more gore as the series continued and got far more creative with the stories they had to tell.

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Leprechaun (1993) is that cinematic rarity, a first entry in the series that just might be the least interesting. All the elements and ideas are there for the taking, and thankfully, those franchise entries that came in the original’s wake took full advantage of the possibilities this pint sized mythical monster has to offer.

I’m awarding Leprechaun ONE AND A HALF out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets.

The true Pot o’ Gold is further on this rainbow of a series.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

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17
Feb
20

(NSFW) The Arena (1974) Ferocious Female Freedom Fighters

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“The Romans have taught you to live like an animal!” Pam Grier as Mamawi in The Arena

a Primal Root written review

Do you like gladiator movies? Son, if the gladiator movie you’re speaking of stars such absolute goddesses and B-Movie Trash Cinema Legends as Pam Grier and Margaret Markov, you bet your stanky little ass I do! Coming off the red hot success of the 1973 prison break flick, Black Mama,White Mama, producer Roger Corman was quick to bank on the appeal of those two amazonian beauties for yet another action packed no-budget flick and came up with the sandals and savagery epic known affectionately as The Arena. 

The film begins in ancient Rome where we are witness to several raids and murder fests by the Romans where peaceful Druids and perpetually dancing tribes have their groovy rituals interrupted with unprovoked surprise blood shed where everyone is chopped into brisket and only the sexiest are kept alive to be sold into slavery. Among those captured are the tall, blonde, gorgeous Druid Priestess Bodicia (Margaret Markov) and the absolute knock out, Mamawi (Pam Grier) who are to be auctioned off to some poor white fat slob in a toga where I personally can’t imagine any of these badass, muscular, obviously strong and hardened women being forced to do ANYTHING by these wimpy dough boys. But, I will do my best to suspend my disbelief as the incredible specimens of womanhood are shackled and paraded out in rags.  Thankfully, Bodicia, Mamawi and two fellow captives are sold to an incredibly wealthy Roman ruler named Timarchus (Daniele Vargas). The ladies are quickly stripped nekkid, washed up, put in shiny new clothes and forced to work as servants to the spectators in…THE ARENA! Where gladiators are forced to fight to the death night after night for the amusement of the fat, drunk wealthy pigs sitting up above the kill floor.

However, the crowds have grown bored with watching men fighting animals and other men so Timarchus is looking for the next big thing to keep the masses pleased and complicit int heir lifestyle. When he witnesses the enslaved women having a knock down, drag-out fight in the kitchen, he realizes the pleasures of woman on woman battle and Female of Female Gladiatorial Death Battle is born! The appeal is obvious and the popularity instantaneous. But as these lady gladiators are forced the kill one another for the sweaty, worthless, wealthy they begin to plot a bloody, brutal rebellion to overthrow the powers that be and reclaim their freedom.

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Not nearly as misleading as it might seem, there actually were women gladiators, the minimal budget of The Arena is aided tremendously by being shot in Cinceitta, Italy’s primary studio, which provided sets, props and costumes which added to the production value.  There is great attention paged to the savagery and callous nature of the gladiatorial combat and barbarity of the time period, which works really well when juxtaposed with a love story that blossoms between one of the slaves and a battle trainer as well as the relationships that grow between the lead characters who come from drastically different backgrounds who must work together to overthrow the powers that be. And once you get past the gratuitous forced shower scene early in the film, The Arena is fairly restrained when it comes to it’s nudity. Of course, there is plenty of lovely female bodies on display, but it is far less gratuitous than you’d expect from an exploitation movie of this caliber.

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Grier and Markov are both a delight to watch on screen. Their battles in The Arena are not particularly well choreographed, but the actresses give it their all no matter what is called for and the audience cannot help but feel for their plight as they are forced to battle and murder their friends in the ring. And once they rise up and begin to revolt, I genuinely felt concern and hoped they would make it out of their enslaved Hellhole and reclaim their freedom. It’s hard not to cheer as these sweaty, blood, scantly clad warrior women hack, chop, and slash their way to freedom through a plethora of Roman soldiers desperately trying to cut them down. Pam Grier would, of course, became one of the hardest working actresses to come out of the era and became a cinematic icon while Markov ended up marrying one of The Arena’s producers, Mark Damon, made one more film entitled There Is No 13, and retired from acting.

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The Arena has a pretty impressive horror pedigree with Joe D’Amato (director of Emanuelle in America and Antropophagus) as the film’s cinematographer and Joe Dante (director of Gremlins, The Howling and Piranha) as editor. Rumor has is D’Amato helped out tremendously with the film’s extended battle scenes and was said to have taken over directing duties for those scenes from credited director Steve Carver who went on to direct Big Bad Mama and Lone Wolf McQuade.  Another fun fact, filmmaker Martin Scorsese (Taxi Driver, Goodfellas) claims Roger Corman offered him the directing duties for The Arena after Scorsese finished his film Boxcar Bertha. Instead, Scorsese decided to go on and direct Mean Streets instead.

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The Arena was one of the final death gasps of a long Hollywood cinematic tradition of sand and sandal epics. The genre went into hibernation for a couple decades before being resurrected by Ridley Scott with the Oscar winning 2000 film, Gladiator. The story is pretty similar to The Arena, only recasting the lead as a white guy, one cannot help but wonder if, possibly, there might be some inspiration obtained through this Pam Grier & Margaret Markov vehicle.

The Arena is a dramatic, fun, very entertaining bare bones tale of injustice and rising up against those who own us. Despite it’s obvious low budget, the production values are solid, the story is streamlined and well told, the performances are far above average and sell the drama better than one might expect, and it;s impossible to keep your eyes off Margaret and Pam who both are just gorgeous, dynamic performers who give their all no matter what the limitations of the movie are. The performances from these two ladies are what make the film an infinitely watchable piece of classic Trash Cinema well worth your time.

I award The Arena  FOUR out of FIVE DUMPSTER NUGGETS.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

23
Jan
20

(NSFW) Mausoleum (1983): Demonic Wife? Run For Your Life!

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a Primal Root written review

“I haven’t been this nervous since I’ve been black!” – LaWanda Page as Elsie in Mausoleum

Marriage can be trickier than the Double Dare obstacle course. Yes, it is fun and there are prizes, but you can also end up covered in bizarre substances that are somehow both liquid AND solid and are probably rancid and no matter how many times you reach up that giant nose willed with bright green frosting snot you just CAN. NOT. FIND that fucking orange flag to move on to the brown icing slide! Sure, it should be a piece of cake, but when two people come together and make the decision to spend their lives with one another, they also bring with them their lifetime of emotional baggage as well that shaped them deep down into who they are today.  That stuff will manifest and a test of the strength of a marriage often boils down to how both partners in the relationship react to these issues when they manifest. We all have our demons. And then there’s Susan Walker Farrel and the literal malicious, flesh carving, pussy popping demon residing in her cerebral cortex.

That’s right, at a very young age, Susan (Julie Christy Murray) loses her mother and is so traumatized  by the loss she decides to take off in a sprint from her Mother’s funeral (whose only attendees were her and her Aunt Cora) and seek solace within an old mausoleum which produces it’s own yellow steam and is lit up like cheap haunted house inside replete with lightning and thunder effects despite it being a sunny, gorgeous day outside. If you ask me, there might be some deep symbolism here that this mausoleum represents the place we try to lay to rest and repress traumatic memories where we hope they will be forgotten the rest of our days and we can pretend it never happened. Okay, yeah, probably thinking far too deeply into this monster movie, but at least I like to think the creative minds behind Mausoleum are trying.

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Susan goes into this mausoleum, removes a crown of thorns from a tomb filled with glowing fog and something living within…something…with razor sharp claws. Bestowed upon Susan are telekinetic powers which make her eyes glow neon green, which she puts to work immediately when a homeless man enters the same mausoleum to see if she needs help. Being a strong, independent person who needs no help, she proves this point by psychically exploding the top of his skull off and squirting out a nice gush of brain matter across the Los Angeles cemetery as he is running away in terror. Teach that mother fucker to ask a woman if she is in need of assistance. Susan bows to NO MAN!

Fast forward twenty years or so and Susan (Bobbie Bresee, a blonde, voluptuous, mature bombshell from Surf Nazis Must Die and Evil Spawn)  is married to the lovable Oliver (who is played by Marjoe Gortner whom Trash Cinema fans will probably recognize from 1978’s Star Wars knock off Star Crash, but was also the subject of the 1972 documentary Marjoe, an expose on the business of religion and a documentary about Marjoe’s upbringing as a child evangelist preacher, it’s pretty outstanding and led to a life of eclectic Trash Cinema roles, such as Mausoleum, here…anyway, I digress… ) and they are living their best lives in a fucking ENORMOUS mother fucking mansion for just the two of them in the middle of nowhere. I believe this was early 80’s middle class living…

 

Susan and Oliver decide to go to a local dance club to have a few drinks and dance the night away! They’re not there five minutes before some drunk off his ass, Kenny Rogers doppelganger begins rubbing his only slightly unflacid tube steak all over Susan on the dance floor, rudely interrupting her and Oliver’s fantastic middle aged white person disco gyrating thereby nearly leads to fisticuffs between to two 1980’s prototypical male suitors trying to flaunt their stuff for Susan.  Cooler heads prevail as Susan and Oliver head outside, but the drunken beardo stumbles outside, belching, farting and fondling around in his pockets for his keys. He makes the mistake of bumping into Susan and Oliver before getting into his sagging piece of shit Chevy and…Susan’s eyes go bright green as the Kenny Roger’s look alike get roasted alive in his own car as Susan psychically sets it alight! Oliver tries to save the drunken moron, but to no avail. The car explodes like a tater in the microwave and the charmless scumbag is now a smoking husk.

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Aunt Cora (Laura Hippe) is becoming anxious about Susan’s well being as it is soon to be the anniversary of Susan’s Mother’s demise and she also has a lovely, leather bound book all about the Nomed Family history that spells out demon possession and blood rage for every woman in the Nomed family at the point in their lives. Aunt Cora pleads with Susan’s therapist, Dr. Andrews (Norman Burton) but it falls on the deaf ears of science and he refuses to believe there is anything wrong with Susan besides the lingering trauma of Susan losing her Mom at such an early age. But it isn’t long before Susan begins her demonic midlife crisis when one morning the couple’s lecherous gardener, Ben (Maurice Sherbanee)  starts moving in on her and getting VERY sexual harassment/rapey when he notices Oliver is gone for the day.  It’s like flicking a switch, Maurice is allowed in and she is immediately terrified of him and cowers away. But then, as soon as Ben leaves to go chop the shit out of a stump with an axe,  Susan gets those sexy glowing green eyes again and decides to go upstairs and get totally nekkid for the audience, and Gang, Ms. Bresee is stacked like a can of Pringles. She then puts on a towel, heads out to her balcony, makes sure to get Ben’s attention…AND DROPS HER TOWEL AGAIN revealing her lovely mammaries. Now, I have to ask, why the towel? I guess it was to hide her bush from the camera on the six foot journey over to the balcony, but she isn’t shy about showing of her hedge maze later in the film! Again, thinking far too much into this movie…

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So, of course, Susan fucks Ben’s brains out in the garage a time or two (excellent stamina, Ben, you over the hill rapey gardener, you!) and then proceeds to till Ben’s head and chest regions with a rusty hand rake, spraying blood and gore all over the garage and strategically placed U-Haul packing blankets that are no doubt also covered with the steadily crusting sloppy pleasure plunger drippings from their recent concrete floor garage sexcapade. So long, Ben, you were a piece of shit and a terrible landscaper as evidenced by a montage from earlier showing him eating lunch, spitting on his tools and sleeping by the couple’s enormous private lake.

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The next morning Aunt Cora heads over to the house with some paperwork pertaining to Susan’s inheritance she is due to receive now that she is thirty, of course, she finds Susan upstairs totally transformed into a hideous, glowing green eyed demon! Susan levitates Aunt Cora over the railing from their third floor bedroom and uses her telekinetic powers to rip poor Aunt Cora in half. You don’t get to see it all, but the effect is pretty brutal, none the less, as Aunt Cora’s chest begins to slowly but surely come open. It’s pretty fucking mean and I have no idea who Susan kept blood from getting all over the plush carpeting downstairs. I suppose we can just chock it up to the powers evil. Evil makes everything possible, doesn’t it?

That night Oliver wakes up to find his wife sitting in a rocking chair in their bedroom fully transformed into the hideous she demon and, instead of screaming in abject horror at the absolute, unspeakable nightmare that this reality would be to wake up to, he quietly sneaks out of bed and heads down to their posh basement bar to call Dr. Andrews and calmly, casually discuss the fact his wife suddenly has glowing green eyes, the complexion of an enraged hemorrhoid,  and a gob full of shark teeth forcing her to be a drooling mouth breather, rather than grabbing the keys, bolting out the door and driving off into the sunset at top speed to start a new life with a woman who ain’t in league with Satan. As you might expect, the doctor says there’s no such thing as demons and asks Oliver to tell Susan to go see him. Which he does, and Susan agrees. The next morning, their housekeeper, Elsie (LaWanda Page) heads upstairs to check on Susan only to find the room glowing green and the fog machine on overdrive. Elsie, rushes downstairs, takes a couple shots of “the good stuff” which she hasn’t had a drop of “since she found religion” and mentions “I haven’t been this nervous since I was black!” Both humorous and strikingly poignant bit of dialog reminding us of the dangers of simply being African American in our society, even in 1983. Elise downs her liquor and proves herself the only sensible soul in the movie and heads for the hills never to be heard from again and, I presume, is living the good life on her own private island in the son. Elsie, we hardly knew you, but you brought a special light into our lives through the schlock shake that is, Mausoleum. We bid you, adieu.

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During her trip to Dr. Andrews Susan undergoes hypnosis. After a pretty impressive breakdown over her Mother’s death proving those cars are still pretty deep and easily torn open, the demon emerges and Susan transforms right before the doctor’s eyes taunting him that “I WAS HERE THE WHOLE TIME AND YOU NEVER KNEW!” Needless to say, those green eyes, freaky face and gnarly ass teeth make a quick believer out of Dr. Andrews. Believing this is no longer a mental illness medicine can alleviate, Dr. Andrews researches the family history in that handy dandy leather bound book poor, old, ripped into pieced Aunt Cora gave to him earlier in the film, and it turns out every first born daughter of the family Nemod (IT’S DEMON SPELLED BACKWARDS! THIS IS THEIR KINGDOM!) and, in the meantime, Susan decides to kill another landscaper she seduced into their mansion with her boobs and then telkinetically crushes his skull which squirts out one of his eyeballs into his hand and leaves blood all over the kitchen for Oliver to clean up when he gets home. Seriously, Oliver doesn’t even really question the blood, just whether or not Susan is okay. She shrugs of the blood all over the kitchen and says she’s too tired to discuss it and goes to bed. Oliver seems okay with this somehow…

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Susan steals a painting from the mall after levitating the gallery’s owner from the top floor of a mall and impaling him on an umbrella below before heading home to take a bubble bath and sweet talk her perturbed husband and treat us to some slightly hidden full frontal nudity before transforming and giving us full frontal she demon action and revealing her gnarly, flesh hungry demon tits! Will Dr. Andrews make it to the stately mansion in time to put an end to this foul demons reign of gore drenched terror or will Susan be lost to the ancient inherited evil forever? Also, enjoy one head scratcher of a twist int he last shot of the film. If you have any theories as to what that final shot means, please, let me know in the comments. Thanks in advance!

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Mausoleum is silly, schlocky and often hilariously over the top and bizarre. It plays like a really well constructed carnival fun house with plenty of fun visual flourishes, imaginative gore and make-up effects as well as a cast who takes the whole story and their performances seriously. It all adds up to a highly enjoyable, well produced but very bad and highly pleasurable piece of Trash Cinema. It has everything you could possibly want, Blood, Breasts and Beasts, a stable of actors willing to give it their all despite how silly it all is and they end up looking and a story that tries REALLY hard to bring some new shit to the demon possession table and sometimes manages to pull it off. I love the idea of burying your emotions and never truly expressing them or letting them out can manifest into something absolutely horrible later in life to the detriment to everyone around you. I mean, who the Hell knows if that’s what filmmaker Michael Dugan of Super Seal (1976) and Raging Hormones (1999) fame or writers Robert Madero (Camp Utopia (2002), Battered (2014) had in mind, but it feels like they were reaching for something legit to say with this film. But whether you want to read into this thing or not, it’s filthy, freakish pleasures will be enough to sustain those looking for a simple, mindless, cheap thrill heavy trip through the spookhouse. Mausoleum is a strange horror film oddity that’s well worth raiding the crypt for.

 

I’m awarding Mausoleum FOUR out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

 

 

 

 

21
Jan
20

(SFW) Spookies (1986) or Billy Learned The Truth at age 13

 

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“Uuuuuuhh, look at me: I’m Duke, the horny ghost!” – Duke, Spookies (1986)

a Primal Root written review

As an only child of the 80’s my mind is littered with memories of weekends spent at local video stores in the town where I grew up, Tallahassee, Florida. Nothing beat the thrill of an early Friday evening after school, ordering up a cheesy, greasy, sloppy pizza and heading to the video store to peruse the shelves for a new VHS adventure to waste my weekend with either with a fried over or totally on my own.  I would head past the New Release section and head straight to the Horror shelf where the most lurid, colorful and creative covers were. I would pick up every single box, gaze at the covers and their suggestive artwork and just let my imagination run wild simultaneously psyching myself up for what I might choose to take home with me that weekend. In the halcyon days of the video rental store era, when there was money to be made and stores were a dime a dozen and each store had THOUSANDS of titles to choose from, the cover art of a movie could make or break a tape. Just like the posters for Drive-In films of the past, you had to reel your audience in with artwork that promised something truly astounding.

One such VHS cover that branded itself on my brain and was always around at every damn video store I’ve ever been to, the 1986 nightmare fever dream…SPOOKIES.

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Direct your eyes to the poster heading this review created by comic artist Richard Corben. Imagine your tiny eight year old hand clutching the tape that contained the movie THAT artwork was based on? The lovely woman with huge breasts straining to pop out of her white dress as she is surrounded by a variety of creepy, weird creatures that seem to have no real connection to one another. There’s a grim reaper looking guy, a little goblin creature, someone with light popping out of her head and other undefinable atrocious monstrosities that leave your young mind spinning at the possibilities! And then there’s the bizarre face looking over this scene, with glowing red eyes and mouth that looks like it might be full of blood and what looks to be a bloody would to the middle of his forehead. What the Hell are Spookies and what in the world could it ever possibly be about. All I knew was that if the case contained Blood, Breasts and Beasts, it was going home with me, because that was the promise of an unforgettable late night and a fantastic story for the kids at school Monday morning. “Guess what I watched this weekend?”

Full disclosure, Spookies freaked me the fuck out when I was a kid and I think it’s due almost entirely to the face that it’s two movies in one. It began life as a film entitled Twisted Souls written and directed by Brendan Faulkner and Thomas Doran. However, during post-production, creative differences flared up between the filmmakers and their producers, and ANOTHER director, Eugenie Joseph, was hired on to film additional scenes with new actors which would change the film into something else entirely. He added several different subplots and excised over 45 minutes of the original film to create what we now know as SPOOKIES. And, to be perfectly honest, it gives the film a kind of unhinged nightmare logic quality that three me off entirely as a child. It did not follow the rules established by countless other horror films I had seen, so you just never knew what was going to happen, and to me, that is certainly a strength.

The film begins with a little kid named Billy (Alec Nemser) running away from home through the forest. His parents forgot his birthday, so he’s ditching them for the life of a homeless teenage idiot. He, of course, ends up getting stalked by a werecat guy in a golden vest who moves his face around as much as possible to make the latex creature stuff attached to his face seem like his actual face, but it instead just makes him look like a spaz. Billy meets a creepy drifter guy who instantly reminded me of Kiefer Sutherland from Lost Boys, who mocks Billy for being a stupid teenage runaway with nice shoes, clean clothes and an optimistic outlook on life. You think this drifter character is going to come in handy later as either a hero or villain, but as soon as Billy wonders off deeper into the woods, the drifter’s face is shredded into coleslaw by the ever present werecat. Billy ends up in an old, seemingly abandoned mansion and finds a room all decked out for his birthday…but there’s no one there. Not only that, but the balloons don’t have helium and are ties to the ceiling, there’s a moaning baby doll in a chair and teleporting toy robots and being the idealistic idiot that he is, Billy thinks this is a surprise birthday party his parents planned…even though there’s no one there and it’s creepy as shit. So, Billy opens a large present he thinks might be a bowling ball, only to find the severed head of the sorcerer sitting there waiting to wish him a happy birthday. Kind gesture? Sure. But it understandably terrifies Billy who runs off in the wilderness where is is pursued, once again,by the cat man who eventually corners Billy, slashes his face to ribbons, tosses the little boy into an open grave and buries the struggling boy alive, killing him.

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This scene fucked me up as a kid who loved playing in the woods at night living in the heavily wooded suburbs. I could easily put myself in his shoes and wanting to expect the best from my situation only to find myself missing most of my face and being suffocated to death on mouthfuls of heaping shovel scoops of dirt. See what I mean about the nightmare logic of SPOOKIES? It makes about as much sense as your standard childhood nightmare, only you’d wake up as soon as that first fling of dirt hit you in your bloody, stupid, face. In any other film, that kid would have ended up becoming the sidekick of some adult character who showed up. or would end up being the star, booby trapping monster and shit. No. Not in Spookies. In Spookies the 13 year old child dies along and afraid. His parents obviously don;t care about him or love him and he is now gone forever. Dead and buried in an unmarked grave by a catman, never to be mentioned, thought of or cared about for the remainder of the film. Now children, what do you think THAT felt like? It’s cruel, and awesome to 37 year old The Primal Root, but when I was just a Jim Henson’s Trash Cinema Baby, that whole sequence fucked me up real good and proper to the point I lost sleep over it and would get REAL nervous in the woods I used to play in without hesitation. Anyway, enough about me. Lets get back to SPOOKIES!

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We are soon introduced to our cast of victims who are driving around looking for a party out in the middle of nowhere, where do they end up? Of course, the old haunted mansion where Billy came upon the most surprising surprise party of his short life.  The mansion is inhabited by The Sorcerer whose name is Kreon (Felix Ward) and is on the verge of bringing his beautiful dead wife, Isabelle (Maria Pechukas) back to life once the final victims are sacrificed, namely, this new group of “teenagers” and adults looking to party. There’s the three piece suit wearing elder statesman of the group, Peter (Peter Dain), who is constantly butting heads with the “teenage” tough guy, horndog, and bizarrely placed zipper enthusiast, Duke (Nick Gionta) who also happens to take them to this haunted death trap mansion in the middle of nowhere. Along for this trip to Hell is Linda (Joan Ellen Delaney) Duke’s poor girlfriend, the ginger in the tiny periwinkle blue top with the massive tits she never pops out of the chute for us, Meegan (Kim Merrill) who is attached to Peter and I assume is his wife. There’s another couple, Dave and Adrienne (Anthony Valbiro & Charlotte Alexandra) who suffer from Rich being highly insecure and freaking out all the time over Adrienne controlling everything he does even though all she does is watch him freak out. There’s the obligatory joker/idiot Rich Peter Iasillo Jr) who spends the movie tripping over thing, dropping things, making poor jokes and even poorer decisions. My favorite character, Louis, who as I recall has two lines before being sucked down into own grave and dying before the action even really gets started and is never mentioned or again, let alone, mourned.  Also, odd lady out, Carol (Lisa Friede) Who starts not feeling well at the mansion, gets possessed by Kreon and uses a special Ouija board to unleash a bouquet of highly creative and vicious practical effect monsters to track them down and kill them one by one.

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The Gang knows their lives are in mortal danger and decide to split up to find a way out of this death trap. Some search around while others find secluded rooms to stay fully dressed and fall asleep in before being savagely gnawed upon by Hell beasts. Spookies quickly becomes a cornucopia of freakish blood thirsty hellions dead set on killing off every last cracker in the house. There’s a legion of little reptilian snake demons, a seductive, blood draining Arachnid Woman, a giant lizard man that shoot out head melting electric tentacles, a scythe wielding Grim Reaper and even a trio of chronically flatulent Much Men who rise from the floor of the win cellar and fart like Grandpa after Christmas dinner, you know, fast, furious, loud and with a vengeance.  Not only this, but there’s a legion of zombies surrounding the mansion, making escape impossible.

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People get lost, massacred, tempers flare, fights break as these characters fight for survival in this colorful, bonkers house of blood lusting horrors and it’s just as much fun as it is absolutely baffling. Add in that tacked on subplot about Kreon and and all his various creatures including CatMan and the Jawaesque Korda (A.J. Lowenthal) Son of Kreon and Isabelle, and Isabelle herself, who NEVER interact with the characters from the original film, Twisted Souls, at all despite being shot in the same location and always appearing nearby. It’s actually fun watching how they edit around two totally different stories being told but having to be meant to interact with one another. Towards the end of the film, the plot is left hanging when it comes to our group of party animals that must all be killed in order to give Isabelle life. Some supernatural event occurs where they all begin to age rapidly, an item is thrown, lightning enters a character’s eyes and that’s the last we see of them. Are they dead? Wounded? Senior Citizens? Monsters? What the Hell happened? Instead of us ever finding out, we are treated to an extended zombie chase scene where Isabelle’s clothes get torn off (though she never shows off the goods) as she tries to escape the clutches of the ghoul who resurrected her, the evil warlock Kreon, after she has seduced him and driven a knife deep into his forehead. Will we get any form of closure or will Spookies leave us wondering what happens next? Because if there’s one thing we know…ambiguity is scary.

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Spookies, man, what a fucking ride. It’s a film that feels like a sugar rush nightmare fueled fever dream filled with wild ideas that head down colorful hallways before being utterly forgotten and left for new ideas down even more colorful hallways. It’s like a horror film with A.D.D. and darkly sadistic sense of humor. Where Don Coscarelli’s Phantasm has a similar fantasy/unreality feel to it, Spookies, to it’s detriment or gain, depending on how you like the movie, due to the production issues and different hired hands and stories being mixed together, proves a much weirder concoction. Is the movie good? Absolutely not, it’s total Trash Cinema. But is it entertaining? Gang, Spookies never lets up. It’s balls to the walls ideas, throw it against the walls to see what sticks creativity mayhem. It;s colorful, it’s sloppy and it SHOULD. NOT. WORK. Seriously, this should have been a failure of the highest order. But it is so goddamn unabashedly manic and willing to do anything and go anywhere, you can’t help but join in the glee and stick with it to see just what insane shit will happen next. To me, that’s a Trash Cinema win of the highest order.

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Spookies is a VHS Video Rental store gem that’s well worth tracking down. If you, or someone you know, is even just mildly curious in cult Trash Cinema, Spookies is a great place to start. It’s a deranged and absolute delight. Unless you’re an overly sensitive and imaginative child living in the woods. Then it’s just good, old fashioned nightmare fodder.

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I’m awarding Spookies FOUR out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

 

 

 

07
Jan
20

(NSFW) Emanuelle in America (1977): Fuck the Rich

Emanuelle America

a Primal Root written review

Man, 60’s and 70’s sexploitation cinema produced some of the most trailblazing, creative, no holds barred and completely underrated films of their era. One series of films that has always struck hard with the sexual content and even harder with it’s bizarre social commentary, is the Spanish-Italian Black Emanuelle film series, especially once the elder statesman of Italian schlock, Joe D’Amato (Porno Holocaust, Erotic Nights of The Living Dead) tackled the series. First, a little history of the Black Emanuelle film franchise.
The History Lesson:

The original French erotic softcore pornographic film from 1975, Emmanuelle, starring the late, sensational Sylvia Kristel and based on the novel by the same name, was a critical flop, but a blockbuster sensation in France, and is still among the highest grossing French films ever produced and ended up creating a film series all it’s own that’s 7 movies deep (hehehe) and includes such titles as Emmanuelle: The Joys of a Woman (1975) and Goodbye Emmanuelle (1977). Not only that, but the title alone has been picked up and used for late night Skin-A-Max style softcore porn films far into this century to the delight of teenage boys and old perverts like myself who are just about over the hill.

But, for my money, the greatest thing to come out of these soft focus French skin flicks, were the grimy, gorgeous, down and dirty sexually deviant series of films Emmanuelle inspired, namely, the Black Emanuelle series, which wasted no time debuting on the scene in 1975, riding the coattails of the original film’s success, with, YOU GUESSED IT! Black Emanuelle! Black Emanuelle introduces us to our leading lady played by Laura Gemser, a truly awe inspiring beauty with dark eyes, long, raven black hair down to her waist and hails from Indonesia. Laura plays a hard boiled, sexually liberated American reporter living in New York and is about as distant from the casual, almost sweet sexuality of the original Kristel led Emmanuelle series. The franchise maintained it’s softcore porn trappings up until Italian sleaze maestro Joe D’Amato took the reigns in 1976 with Emanuelle in Bangkok, where series started it’s descent into utter depravity featuring gang rape, depictions of cockfighting and a Mongoose vs. Snakesbattle.

And that leads us to…
Emanuelle in America!

The fourth film in the Black Emanuelle film series and, without a doubt, the series most notorious entry, 1977’s Emanuelle in America once again features the truly captivating Laura Gemser as Emanuelle, nude photographer and photo journalist, who goes on a world wide adventure that leads us into some pretty dark corridors of late 1970’s human sexuality. Sure, some of the stuff is fun, but man…this mother fucker isn’t afraid to take the audience to some brutal, Hellish places. Now that I think about it, the very first sequence in the films sets the town pretty damn well. We are reintroduced to Emanuelle during the opening credits as she has a photo shoot with a handful of stark nekkid models with plenty of invasive camera shots pushing in on various nude parts of these lovely ladies before Emanuelle calls it a wrap, heads to her car, and is surprised to find a gun totting, acne scarred asshole in the back of her car and orders her to pull of the road at gun point. “I just want to murder you, that’s all!” Huh, well, who can argue with that. Once he gets her pulled over, he climbs into the passenger seat besides her and begins giving he the run down of why he wants her dead and it basically sounds like a Trump supporter talking about why they hate”Feminazis.” You’re sinful! You take naked photos of people and that’s evil!” “A woman should never take her clothes off unless it;s in the bedroom!” Emanuelle keeps her cool, figures out this guy has girlfriends who has modeled nude for her and that he is still a virgin. What does Emanuelle do to deescalate the situation? Tells the confused, psychotic, violent incel of the 70’s that sex is neither dirty or wrong and can be a natural wonderful thing, then proceeds to unzip the young man’s pants and suck his cock for the split second it takes to get him off. It’s fucking adorable, especially when the guy runs out of the car holding on to his wiener for dear life as Emanuelle wipes her mouth, laughs, and goes about her day. It’s a perfect little moment of light and dark, good and evil and laughing in the face of those with the lamest of sexual hangups. Maybe don’t fill your heart with hate and you’ll actually find some love on this planet. Trust me, if this movie was made today, she would have bitten his dick off, made him eat it and then fired the gun up his asshole. Trust me on this.

So, with this scene in place we are off to the races with Emanuelle in America, which is kind of a weird title when you consider she lives there and works out of New York, but I digress. Emanuelle heads to Europe to investigate a tycoon named Eric Van Darren (Lars Bloch) who reportedly has a harem filled with willingly purchased women (aka: sex slaves) one woman to represent each zodiac sign. Emanuelle joins this modern day harem, which looks to be a pretty sweet set up. You get your own room, free meals, a pool, sauna, AND you get paid! Of course, you also have to fuck this petulant bearded man child who nearly cries when Emanuelle starts kicking his ass in Poker Dice during a fucking adorable scene where Emanuelle mops the floor with this infantile bafoon in about five shakes of the dice while all his guests and harem girls watch on in delighted silence. There’s plenty of nekkid ladies just chilling and hanging out and fingering one another in the pool as well as a really sweet girl on girl scene with Emanuelle and a fellow harem girl named Gemini in the sauna who feels unloved by her Tycoon pay-to-play fuck buddy man child and Emanuelle is the kind of sexual dynamo to show her just what love is with a properly placed tongue to the lower lady lips. What am I forgetting to mention? Hrrm…Oh yeah!

You also get to see a naked woman stroke a horses erect penis. Yes. Right out of the gate, in her very first journalist adventure in Emanuelle in America, you see a disrobed woman stroked a fully engorged horse cock. Not going to lie, I was genuinely shocked. I saw the woman getting naked in the horse stable and thought nothing of it and this it hit me like a ton of bricks. “Holy shit! She’s going to jerk off that horse!” I yelled out loud to myself. And, sure enough, she grabbed that hefty, shiny pony fucker and stroked it like a champ. No money shot, thankfully. But still, what a wonderful moment of nasty utter depravity to really jolt the audience and make you wonder just what the fuck are we in for during the rest of this goddamn sleazefest.

With the winnings from her killer streak in Poker Dice, Emanuelle buys her freedom and heads off to Venice with Alfredo Elvize, Duke of Mount Elba (Gabriele Tinti) where she shacks up with both The Duke and his wife and they get into a threesome right after he discovers his wife with banging a chunky member of the wait staff whom The Duke sends him off through the massive corridors of his gigantic magnificent gold encrusted mansion, hairy butt cheeks flapping all the way down the hall as Emanuelle giggles. During the following night’s gala for several dozen senators, their wives and other assorted stuffy aristocrats, Emanuele, decked out in this fucking gorgeous oynx gown with a plunging neckline and a slit all the way up to Valhalla that just hangs off of her and leaves little to the imagination and is my favorite of her outfits in the movie, stumbled upon The Duke’s art forgery studio. It’s a plot thread that goes nowhere, but what REALLY interests Emanuelle is a this body builder dude with a helmet of blonde haid and a five pound moustache and golden color around his neck with the number 34 printed on it. Emanuelle approaches the man, hardly says a word, and already has the stud seduced. But, damn, wouldn’t you know it? He is literally OWNED by a super wealthy older white woman who, trying to be kind here, isn;t quite on the same level as Emanuelle in the…any department. The Stud’s owner mentions a private island for single rich women where male sex slaves are auctioned off to the highest bidder and they must bring all of their masters sexual fantasies to life. NOW THAT’S THE MOTHER FUCKING SCOOP OF THE CENTURY! Or, at least it will lead to more sexcapades? I’m betting on sexcapades.

Well, the stuffy, dull as dirt gala turns into an unbridled orgy after a senator finds a golden peanut inside of a slice of cake, is rewarded with a nude young woman covered in icing he proceeds to lick from head to toe, and everyone quits their grinnin; and drops their linen for the stuffiest rich people orgy since Eyes Wide Shut! Only this time you get to see a woman give REALLY bad oral sex to some poor schmuck who is just WISHING it was the sultry Emanuel smearing her lipstick on his dipstick. Seriously, this woman uses all teeth and keeps flicking his peehole with her tongue. Thankfully we don;t ever see the guys face, or his expressions of boredom and, or, terror/suspense would have turned the film into a screwball comedy.

Before Emanuelle heads off to the private island to see how the old, rich, single ladies get frisky, she meets up with her boyfriend from back in New York, Bill (Riccardo Salvino), who is also a journalist and happens to be on a layover. The only have about an hour so, in one o the films sweetest sequences, the two run around Venice trying to find a place to have a quickie. The run all over the place and finally decide to go at it right outside the doorway of a room where a full orchestra is rehearsing Vivaldi’s Four Seasons (Spring). It’s light, sweet and a welcome bit of one on one fun. But, like so many joys in this world, it is cut short as they jump cut to Emanuelle arriving at Rich Woman’s Pleasure Island, which has very strict privacy rules set in place to protect their wealthy clientele.

While at the resort Emanuele witnesses some actual hardcore tender porn moments as one rich woman orders her sex slave to fuck her Tarzan style and we are treated to some extreme closeups of his wangdoodle doing the slip n’slop to her love shanty. We also see fellows stripping as Zorro, some casual cock sucking, a multi-racial threesome, but what really captures Emanuelle’s attention is one room in particular where a woman is getting her tits sucked and her bacon strip sizzled while watching a film…to Emanuelle’s very subdued shock, a distinctly brutal snuff film.

Snuff Film

Noun

Slang. pornographic film that shows an actual murder of one of the performers, as at the end of a sadistic act.

Someone on the island reports that they’ve seen Emanuelle sneaking around taking photos with her super secret necklace camera and she is held captive by the woman who runs the island. Emanuelle quickly seduces her by appealing to her repressed lesbian tendencies, making her take a bite from a cock and balls shaped aphrodisiac cookie, getting her drunk, stripping her naked and pouncing on her like a lynx! They begin to go at it before Emanuelle steals her clothes and jumps in the back of the private island to airport courtesy car and makes her escape! She repays the driver by getting naked, yanking his knob out of his trousers and gobbling it like mad, causing him to wreck his car…but he still gets it on with her in the front seat of his totaled courtesy car. I’m certain it was totally worth the price of the repairs.

 

Emanuelle, now determined to find the source of these snuff films heads to Washington D.C. where she seduces a U.S. Senator who is reportedly a large supported of the snuff film market. He has a wife, kids…and a pleasure condo where takes Emanuelle to get down and dirty as only the rich and powerful can. When Emanuelle requests something truly hardcore and forbidden, he is qucik to pull down a screen and project a horrifyingly bloody and brutal snuff porn loop featuring women getting pile-driven impaled through their vaginas onto massive spikes, nipples being sliced of of screaming women and women getting sodomized with hooks ripping through their cheeks. Emanuelle watches in horror and it is edited together with a sequence of her and the senator flying in a private place to an undisclosed location in South America where she witnesses for herself the studio where these dehumanizing, savage rapes and murders are occurring and being filmed for the delight and hardons of the white, rich and powerful back in The States. Turns out women from all over the world are kidnapped and sold to these filmmakers to create these sick, disgusting, horrible murder spank films. Jump cut to Emanuelle sitting straight up in the senator’s fuck bungalow bed (“What was it? A Dream? A Nightmare? I saw something horrible!”) where the senator tells her they took LSD and she was just hallucinating everything. Sure, that sounds reasonable. Emanuelle buys this really lame explanation and heads back to New York.

However, back in New York, while discussing this turn of events with her editor, he reveals to her that they had the pictures she took with her hidden camera while she was “hallucinating” on the senator’s bed, and there they are…a dozen or more images of the film she supposedly dreamed up in clear focus and absolutely horrifying. Unfortunately, her editor must follow the orders of those from the top, and he cannot publish her article or the photos, instead, burying them in the archives. It’s a devastating turn of events (“Other girls are going to get dragged into it, and we’ll become accomplices in this whole filthy business!) that has Emanuelle considering hanging up her camera for good.

Emanuelle in America is simultaneously dark and beautiful, containing some genuinely sweet, erotic moments shuffled in with some deeply twisted, perverted content. For sleaze film connoisseurs, Emanuelle in America is a goldmine, containing every single element you could ever possibly hope a greasy, grimy, sexploitation film could deliver. It’s such a strange juxtaposition, these light soft porn elements, next to hardcore pornography, brutal fake snuff scenes and real animal husbandry.  It’s not a great work of art, it;s not particularly well crafted or staged, but in it’s refusal to mold itself to expectations and Joe D’Amato’s willingness to go to the steamy, grotesque depths of carnal human desires and lusts, and actress Laura Gemser’s strength and willingness to go along for the ride and D’Amato’s vision to life, make this a truly remarkable and harrowing piece of Trash Cinema.

What I also find alluring about Emanuelle in America is it’s theme of contemporary slavery, people using other people as a means to an end. Each adventure that Emanuelle goes on, every scoop she investigates, has to do with people selling themselves for the pleasures of others all leading up to folks being stolen, raped and murdered for profit. It’s just another form of the rich fucking the poor. There’s no love in any of these scenarios. WE have a scene where a woman NEEDS love and Emanuelle must show her tenderness. The young blonde stud wants Emanuelle, but he is a kept slave. Truly, the only moments of genuine love we witness in the film are between Emanuelle and Bill, her New York lover. The genuinely care for one another and feel joy when in one another’s presence. These fleeting moments are the happiest in the film The wealthy are simply taking life from the poor, the nameless, and unknown just as they have since the beginning of time. And when these crimes are finally brought to light, at the end of the day, these people are still the ones calling the shot and will deny their story be told. And folks, that makes me want to puke more than any artificial snuff footage, horse hand-job or uncoordinated toothy blowjob. It’s a scathing indictment against the the rich and wealthy elitists which has given Emanuelle in America a lasting power and far more relevant than I’m sure it’s makers ever anticipated. Beyond the film’s shock factors, we are given plenty to ponder over by the time the credits roll.

This is one for the devotees, those who are willing to go there. This is not for the mainstream or those who like their films lite, easy and aimed to please. No, Emanuelle in America is quite possibly one of the most daring, uncompromising and gnarly sexploitation films of it’s era. And for those with the fortitude for such a film, such a reprehensible and perverse Trash Cinema offering, Emmanuelle in America is a must watch.

For ultra sleazy Trash Cinema fans ONLY! Notorious for the right reasons, Joe D’Amato’s Emanuelle in America is Sexploitation cinema at it’s most experimental, gnarly and bizarre. A must see for those who can take it.

I am awarding Emanuelle in America FIVE out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

03
Jan
20

(NSFW) Return to Nuke ‘Em High Volume 1:My So-Called Toxic Taco

 

nukem

 

“You just fucked with the wrong post-apocalyptic hell bitch!” – Tara E. Miller as Rachel Ruysch in Return to Nuke ‘Em High Volume 1

a Primal Root written review

Since the very beginning of my life Troma films has loomed largely in my life. As a child of the 80’s I saw their movies on the video store shelves. Titillating, perverse and imagination fueling titles like The Toxic Avenger, Bloodsucking Freaks, Rabid Grannies and Surf Nazis Must Die immediately drew my burgeoning Trash Cinema hungry eyes to them. The vividly colored box art promised over the top gore, none stop dick and fart jokes and a plethora of nekkid women. What these videos promised was everything my eight year old heart longed for. Who the Hell am I trying to kid, it’s everything my 37 year old heart still longs for with every beat of my filthy horn dog little heart.

class-of-nuke-em-high-cover

Writer/Director and Troma’s co-founder and lovable mascot, Lloyd Kaufman, has gone back to the well again with a sequel to his video rental store mega hit Class of Nuke ‘Em High (1986), with Return to Nuke ‘Em High (2013), and Kickstarter, fan funded toxic goop soaked tit and gore filled epic that was apparently so massive in scope it had to be stretched into two separate volumes like a fucking Harry Potter film.

What I am happy to report is that Return to Nuke ‘Em High Volume 1 is a homecoming WELL worth the wait. After the events of Class of Nuke ‘Em High, which saw Tromaville High School and the the Tromaville Nuclear Power Plant blown to smithereens, Tromaville High is rebuilt and sleazier than ever, where school shootings happen just about every day to point students yawn while they happen, AND they are the testing ground for the Tromaorganic Foodstuffs Conglomerate, which just so happens to be built over the site of the old, demolished, tainted soil where the nuclear power plant once stood.

glee

 

We are introduced to the new motley class of Nuke ‘Em high. With a ludicrously tone deaf and nerdy glee club, blind security staff, a gym shower chock-full of naked, laughing, bouncy breasts nubile young women, the overweight, over enthusiastic, little pierced penised Zac (Zac Amico), the psychotically horny and self absorbed white boy, Eugene (Clay von Carlowitz) and an highly animated, bug eyed Principal Westley (Babette Bombshell) who is in the pocket of Troma organic Foodstuffs’ president, Lee Harvey Herzkauf (Lloyd Kaufman). All this is established before the camera moves into the janitor’s closet where two students are porking away on the janitor’s cot, when an overhead pipe explodes, green, toxic goo falls all over their feet (to which they are un-phased and and keep squeeshing pissers) and a slithery, slimy, toxic cock monster falls out of the pipe, slides into the guys ass , causing his actual penis to explode off and melt into a puddle of goo before his fuck buddy begins melting (tits first) into a puddle of putrid green and red slop. The janitor enters, sits down, notices the gory puddle of death now napping on his cot, shrugs with disinterest, and our movie begins on just the right Tromatic note.

 

Rich new girl to Tromaville High School, Lauren (Catherine Corcoran), who has a deep love for her pet duck Kevin (Kevin the Duck) becomes is an instant outcast at school, butting heads immediately with fellow classmate, Chrissy (Asta Paredes), who maintains a hardly noticed investigative blog uncovering the corruption and dangerous contamination coming out of Tromaorganic.

Before you can say “Go Green” the glowing green toxic waste contaminated foodstuff is passed off as guacamole and served to the guinea pig students of Tromaville High School under the guise of Taco Tuesday and transforming the tone deaf glee club into the mutated hyper violent second coming of THE CRETINS! Their reign of terror begins without hesitation as they shoot down pedestrians, and throw teachers and dogs over the railing at Tromaville Falls to their chunky, splattery demises. The Cretins look better than ever in their new duds and awesome makeup. Not only that, but they now sing beautifully together, belting out barbershop quartet ditties while viciously mutilating and killing everyone in their path.

Cretins

It’s not long before Lauren runs afoul (hehe) of The Cretins who “Duck Rape” her by lodging the recently irradiated Kevin the Duck down her throat. Lauren runs around Tromaville looking for someone to help dislodge Kevin from her gullet as Kevin shoots eggs out of his tiny pink duck vagina (huh?), but alas, duck dislodging is not covered by Obama care. It isn’t until Lauren runs across Chrissy that they work together and get Kevin out of there, although he now has glowing green eyes, a beak full of sharp teeth and if foaming at the mouth. Chrissy and Lauren end up the recently foreclosed upon house of one of their friends and their attraction to one another cannot be repressed. They begin writhing together in bikinis on the dance floor to erotic sounds of Rapedoor’s toe tapper “Last Song,” before Lauren takes Chrissy’s hand, leads her up to a squatter’s lair and they begin a wonderful and exceedingly long sex scene, where the two get nekkid, munch some toxic tasty taco and exchange nuclear goo as they slide one another the tongue, a side effect of prolonged irradiated duck rape, I imagine.

The fun is interrupted when The Cretins show up and toss a couple Molotov cocktails through the windows and burn the place to the ground. That night, Chrissy and Lauren have the very same dream…Lauren’s belly expands and her tots begin to spray toxic waste where Chrissy grows a massive toxic cock that she can wield as a weapon that also feasts of flesh. With their new toxic powers they head to The Cretin’s hideout to exact some revenge.

When Chrissy and Lauren meet up at school the next day, they aren’t sure if it was all a dream or not…but their “good friend” Zac, the fat and worthless ginger in the Alfred Packard: The Musical shirt, is tasked with finding a way to black mail Chrissy in order for her to take down her blog so there will no longer be anyone airing out Tromaorganic’s dirty laundry and Zac can join The Cretins so he can finally have some place he belongs. So what does Zac do? He gets a shot of Chrissy and Lauren locking lips at school, which if shown to the homophobic public, could prove fatal. The film ends on a cliffhanger in the girl’s locker room shower with an homage to Brian de Palma’s Stephen King adaptation, Carrie and a big ‘ol “TO BE CONTINUED…” popping up before the end credits. Needless to say, I was left chomping at the bit for more.

Man, Return to Nuke ‘Em High feels like Uncle Lloyd has been sitting on a powder keg of ideas that just sort of exploded in front of the camera. There are plot stops and starts, characters brought up that we never see again, narrative dead ends a plenty, but the manic energy of this flick never lets up even if it does feel totally lopsided. It’s a celebration of bad taste, political incorrectness, human anatomy, absolute carnage and anarchy wrapped up as one sloppy green slobbery smooch of an adolescent subhumanoid fever dream.

Like all Troma movies there are it’s strengths and it’s weaknesses. I was worried the Troma feel might be missing as soon as I noticed it looked to be shot on digital as opposed to film, which according to Lloyd Kaufman’s book Make Your Own Damn Movie, is something he would never EVER do. But, here he is, shooting in digital. I asked him at DragonCon once why he decided to shoot on digital after deriding the format so thoroughly in his book. His answer? “It’s so much cheaper!” Proving the old saying, “Don’t knock it till you try it.” Thankfully, the digital element honestly works in the films favor, lending the film a sleek, pristine sheen not typical of Troma films, coming across as the birth of a new era for the company.

One thing that annoyed the shit out of me were the title cards introducing every character and giving a bit of backstory. It felt lazy and like a last minute attempt to cover up a typically haphazard Troma screenplay. Usually the bizarre characters are left to establish themselves without us having to be directly told with text on screen. These characters fill a certain niche in a cinematic high school story, something we are all familiar with. So, I guess my one gripe is that it feels like they didn’t shoot enough coverage to make everything in the story work and shoved some sort of funny text explaining this, something I can’t recall Troma ever doing in the past.

But, all in all, Return to Nuke ‘Em High volume 1 is a fine return to form for these long time, ever present purveyors of filthy, grotesque and highly enjoyable Trash Cinema. The cast is a top notch rag tag team of Troma style performers, all willing to give their all and then some and, like always, add a screwball charm that is undeniable. The effects are as cheap and gnarly as ever with lubed up gore effects are deployed and freakish monsters come slithering out of and into every orifice. And there’s boobs a plenty, all shot with a close eye for bouncing, jiggle fondle potential, as we have all come to love and expect from Troma. What I wasn’t expecting at all was a genuine attempt at an effective love story between Lauren and Chrissy. You see it coming, but you always expect this shit to just be a lowbrow set up for someone to make queef joke, and of course there are queef jokes, but the love story is developed over time and amazingly sweetly, gently. I haven;t seen Troma try to actually pull off ‘sweet’ since Lloyd Kaufman and James Gunn’s Tromeo & Juliet. It was a pleasant surprise and one I really admired. Especially when it got to that lesbian sex scene. It made the whole sequence infinitely more boner inducing. There’s even some cameos that, when watching in 2019, are kind of heartwarming and heart breaking, Namely Stan Lee as the stories’ opening narrator and Lemmy Kilmister as The President of the United States. Rest in peace, you two, it was fun getting to spend time with you again.

 

What I’m saying is The Return to Nuke ‘Em High is a class reunion WELL worth attending. Can the Troma team keep this level of excellence up in Volume Two? Stay tuned, you Cretins!

I’m awarding The Return to Nuke ‘Em High FOUR out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets.

Stay Toxic!

-Root




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