Archive Page 2

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

 

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“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.

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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.

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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.

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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

30
Dec
19

Tammy And The T-Rex: Welcome to Jurassic Pork

 

Tammy Poster

a Primal Root written review

Who doesn’t love a tragic, tear jerking love story? The classic tale of star crossed lovers longing to be with one another, only to have those desires cut short by the selfish, senseless demands of those around them.  From Romero and Juliet, to Antony and Cleopatra to Return of the Living Dead part III and Bride of Re-Animator, it’s a tale as old as time that caters to universally identifiable feelings of love, longing and loss. And then there are those heartbreaking tales of lost love so unreal, so unapologetically bat shit insane, audiences can’t hardly believe it was conceived, let alone seen to completion. Enter Stewart  Raffill’s 1994 teen romance horror comedy fever dream… Tammy and the T-Rex

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Denise Richards (Left) and Paul Walker (Right)

 Tammy and the T-Rex begins conventionally enough with a burgeoning romance forming between well endowed, vivacious, twenty something high school cheerleader, Tammy (Denise Richards in her first ever starring role) and her hunky football player beau, Michael (Paul Walker, once again, in his first ever feature length film role). Also shoe horned into the opening is Tammy’s best friend, the flamboyant and over the top early 90’s gay stereotype, Byron (Theo Forsett), who is true blue and the most likable character in the film. The chemistry between Tammy and Michael is awkward and goofy, but it does come across like they genuinely want to utilize one another’s genitals for their intended purpose. Only thing is, Tammy has a psychotic, bloodthirsty ex-boyfriend, Billy (George Pilgrim), who initiates a knock down, drag out beat down with Michael within the first five minutes of the film which ends in a brutal, school yard, “testicular stand-off” squeeze-a-thon to prove his undying love for Tammy. It’s a ball squeezing battle unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed in cinema and even takes the presence of  armed police officers (one of which is played by Trash Cinema legend George ‘Buck’ Flower) to intervene. Keep in mind, this is within the film’s first few minutes that all this takes place. The teenage romance, and the risks inherent of their forbidden love, are set and leading to a collision course of violent retribution for even looking at some dipshit’s ex-girlfriend.

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We are also introduced to the story’s mad scientist, Dr. Wachenstein (Terry Kiser, Bernie of Weekend at Bernie’s AND Dr. “Bad News” Crews from Friday the 13th part VII: The New Blood) who longs to achieve immortality by transplanting brains into robots, which is why he has built a giant animatronic Tyrannosaurus Rex run by a computer…Huh? He aspires to give the T-Rex life, but is missing one crucial ingredient, a fresh human brain. This could be a generic kind of villainous roll, but Terry Kiser chews the scenery and make Dr. Wachenstein a lively, fun and memorable scientific madman.

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Leave it to Billy to chase Michael down, throw him in the trunk of his care and abandon him in a nature preserve for filled with ferocious, hungry lions and panthers where Michael is mauled nearly to death by the aforementioned lion. This is creativity under the gun at it’s finest. What a fucking bizarre an unexpected turn of events and a truly dastardly brilliant maneuver by Billy. Leaving some poor guy in a deadly giant feline nature preserve and not tell him where he is? As the song goes, “Welcome to the jungle, baby! You’re gonna DDDDIIIIAAAAYYY!” It’s a stroke of mad unconventional genius and I, for one, was thoroughly impressed by this directorial choice.

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Michael, amazingly, survives being savaged by the lion only to be falsely declared dead by visiting physician Dr. Wachenstein, who then kidnaps Michael, takes him to his laboratory, sprays blood all over his puking assistants as he haphazardly saws Michael’s skull open to demonstrate how if he pokes just the right spot he can make Michael’s dying body get a gigantic boner which he can manipulate and make dance around before he slips Michael’s brain out of his skull cavity and slips it into his robotic T-Rex. What could possibly go wrong?

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You guessed it, everything. While Dr. Wachenstein’s away banging his lady assistant, he leaves his two other goons in charge and as soon a the pizza guy arrives, Michael goes fucking nuts after realizing he is not a robot T-Rex and starts chomping heads off and stomping people to death. Once he breaks loose, Michael makes a B-Line straight for a party where Billy and his posse of maniacal laughers happen to be at. Michael crashes the party, disemboweling and decapitating all those who have wronged him in gloriously bloody, goopy, gratuitously creative fashion.  It’s fun and brutal but also felt a little off kilter for the narrative. Shouldn’t Michael be stalking these goons for the rest of the film and eating them one by one leading up to a final confrontation with Billy? In a more generic film I feel that would be the case, But Tammy and T-Rex is anything but your typical tale of love and revenge. He actually eats everyone responsible for the attack in one blood spattered sequence. Michael even runs into Byron at the party, who is understandably horrified by the situation. When Byron trips and falls to the ground trying to escape the massacre, Michael-Rex actually picks him up, sets Byron on his feet, dusts of his shoulders and walks  away. There’s a genuine moment of suspense here, because you’re not sure right off the bat if Michael is just going to go about killing people indiscriminately, or if he will just be devouring enemies. Much to my relief, he lets the lovable Byron go.

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So, about half way through the film all the bullies are devoured, including Billy, who has his head torn off and somehow partially hollowed out. I imagine an off screen moment where Michael bites Billy’s head off and then cracks Billy’s skull open like a pistachio so Michael-Rex can then scoop the insides out with his dino tongue before hacking the husk out to splatter all over the concrete backyard patio. Anyway, with that conflict over with at the midway point, where is there to go from here? Actually, there’s plenty to do! Michael-Rex terrifies Tammy by showing up at her house, breaking in through her bedroom window and whisking her away to barn in broad daylight where this nubile young woman and a T-Rex play a game of charades until Tammy finally guesses Michael’s brain is alive and living in the body of this robotic T-Rex. Before long Tammy falls in love all over again with Michael as a robotic dinosaur and the hunt is on the find Michael’s brain a new body and thwart Dr. Wachenstein and his remaining minions evil plans! One major question left hanging, at least in my mind, is whether or not Tammy and Michael have sex while he is in his robotic T-Rex form or not. There is a scene in the barn where they are laying together and it is mildly implied something frisky might have been going on during the cutaway. Because when Byron shows up to bring them food and drink, which friends do for friends all the time post coitus, he asks “Is everyone decent?” before entering. I know, I know, I;m probably reading into this way too much, but as a man who has been in audiences for live readings of Dinosaur Erotica, my mind cannot help but wonder to that most forbidden of places…Jurassic Pork. Anyhoo, maybe we can finally get a sequel where this is all made clear. Because, honestly, if they aren’t making the sign of the double backed Pterodactyl by films end, poor Michael must have the worst case of disembodied blue balls in the history of this fictional universe.

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Tammy and The T-Rex is far better than it has any right to be. Honestly, the story is a blast of imagination and utter batshit insanity where any and every concept seems to be throw against the wall to see what sticks, and to my amazement, just about all of it does. Tammy and The T-Rex succeeds in being none stop entertaining in much the same way writer/director Stewart Raffill’s 1988 McDonald’s sponsored E.T. knock off Mac & ME and his misguided Mannequin Two: On The Move turned out to be. They are chock full of bizarre ideas that function on a sort of caffeinated dream logic, just as soon as one mind blowingly surreal moment happens you’re on to another! Sure, this isn’t a recipe for mainstream appeal like your run of the mill Disney output, but for those who thrive on cinema that buck formalities and storytelling conventions, those misfits that the rest of the movie going public reject for being “bad movies,” these are the ones that give us a breath of fresh air as they deliver us something totally outside the expected, something rancid and weird and not fully thought out or planned.

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Tammy and the T-Rex is a perfect example of such a film. It might be considered terrible by those who deem they know better, but the charm of Tammy and The T-Rex IS the flaws and imperfections. It’s Grade A Trash Cinema, and everyone in front of and behind the camera really seem to be giving it their all to make this loony concept work, and that is one of the films saving graces. In all seriousness, these are possibly the best performances I’ve ever seen out of Denise Richards and Paul Walker. When Tammy screams in anguish it is genuine and believable, when she calls Michael on the phone to apologize for her behavior, it doesn’t feel phony, and when she hops around the bedroom doing strip tease in a white teddy, it doesn’t feel forced. It’s cornball, and cheesy, but it never has that feel of a disingenuous trash. No, this is the real deal where it’s obvious the folks making it were having fun and trying to deliver something entertaining and as good as they could make it. Tammy and The T-Rex is an absolutely charming and lovable piece of Trash Cinema and one I am thrilled has finally found the light of day fully restored on Blu-Ray, uncut and uncensored, by the good folks at Vinegar Syndrome. 

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Tammy and The T-Rex is a MUST WATCH for fans of Trash Cinema. It’s like Beverly Hills 90210 meets Jurassic Park by way of Robocop and Ghost‘s illegitimate love child and it is good, trashy, mindless fun from start to finish.  

I award Tammy and the T-Rex FOUR AND A HALF out of FIVE DUMPSTER NUGGETS. 

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

18
Dec
19

To All A Goodnight (1980) or Why Is There No Holiday Orgy at The Finishing School?

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“Lock your door, too. I want you to be safe, Nancy. There’s evil here, I can feel it. The Devil’s here.” – Ralph the Caretake, To All A Goodnight

Merry Trashmas, Gang! Man, there’s nothing that gives me the warm fuzzies this time of year like huddling in front of the dumpster fire, roasting rats over an open flame and popping in a classic holiday themed horror film, of which, there is a veritable plethora to choose from. There’s one I’ve always tried to make it through, however. But the bootlegs have been so terrible, I never quite made it to the end due to me being unable to make out just what the Hell was happening through the dark, muddy pictures. It’s a slasher film from 1980, right when the slasher film boom was really taking off entitled To All A Goodnight. It’s a Christmas slasher which takes place at a finishing school for girls over the holiday break. So, having seen a slasher or two over the years I know exactly what to expect. Women bickering, some tits and ass and good, old fashioned splatter. But what really caught my attention was that this film is directed by none other than Wes Craven’s Last House on the Left alumni, David Hess! Yes, the man of a million exploitation horror flicks. If there’s one guy who knows how twisted the horror genre can be, it’s David Hess, so naturally, my imagination soared and my expectations grew…

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Prolific exploitation horror actor David Hess, how could this man NOT make a great slasher film?

With the recent release of an official blu-ray I decided to finally hunker down and give To All a Goodnight a go. And, man…it’s a pretty stripped down and bare bones affair, almost a prototypical slasher film with all the trimmings you’ve come to expect. The isolated location, a holiday setting, teens getting laid, smoking the wacky tabacky, the old crazy harbinger who warns of impending doom, inept law enforcement and a handful of red herrings. Even in 1980, the rules were just about commandments chiseled in stone where just about literally anyone could follow the formula and make a slasher formula that would make it’s money back and perhaps some profit.

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But, I digress, what To All A Goodnight lacks in originality, it makes up for it with an absolutely inept script, hilariously bad effects, and some actors that are either chomping the scenery or are lost without a map which makes for one of those peculiar viewing experiences where you are fully aware that what you are watching is sub-par, but you cannot look away because the film is littered with preciously stupid moments of non sequitur that are just as funny as they are baffling. It’s all these little misfires from a first time filmmaker that make To All A Goodnight such an interesting watch, even if it’s not a hugely successful piece of Trash Cinema.

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To All A Goodnight begins with a an inciting incident taking place two years ago where a girl is chased through the finishing school by her classmates chanting “SORORITY! SORORITY!” while wearing Santa hats. She runs out to an upper balcony and looks genuinely afraid of her fellow girls in finishing, before she leaps from the balcony when startled, turns into an obvious dummy, hits the ground and dies. The sequence literally takes all of 90 seconds and is so shoddy it looks like a backyard movie made one Sunday afternoon by bored teenagers.

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The leftover residents at Calvin Finishing School For Girls, which consist of five ravenously horny girls (one with an accent) and one younger girl who has never been kissed and is played Jennifer Runyun, you know, the woman who played Female Test Subject in the original Ghostbusters that Dr. Venkman calls a “legitimate phenomenon”? Yeah, this was her very first film and is the obvious final girl. There’s also a motherly figure in the cook who is looking after them as well as a tall, blonde, harbinger of doom who creeps around the enormous mansion these lucky girls inhabit carrying a huge bare of gardening sheers and constantly telling the girls the pray and that he can sense evil in the house. There’s also this woman who drops by who proclaims to be acquainted with death after losing all three of her husbands. She show up, drops off some cannoli, mentions how everything dies and then vanishes into the night never to be seen or heard from again.

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Mystery Girl

Oh yeah, and there’s one other girl who doesn’t eat dinner with the other girls and has no lines. She is seen in her bedroom stripping nekkid for a fellow in the yard yelling her name repeatedly. They are both stabbed to death by the killer quickly, quietly and without much fanfare. Again, the super cute blonde nekkid girl basically gets nekkid, gets dressed, goes outside smiling and is stabbed immediately without uttering a single line or being mentioned, ever, by the rest of the girls. Anyway, thanks for the mammaries, mystery girl!

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So, the fiery redhead among the group has a fuck buddy who is super wealthy and flies in for the weekend at the finishing schools private runway under the cover of darkness. This rich guy is so thoughtful he brings along a batch of studs with him to entertain the other girls as well. But, wouldn’t you know it, there’s only enough for the experienced girls, Nancy the virgin is left out entirely. If only they had brought the pilot with them up to the house, who is played by none other than legendary porn actor HARRY REEMS! You may remember him from Deep Throat!  The only genuine talent in the whole film and he is hardly in it. Gent had MORE than enough to entertain all the ladies up at Calvin House. Now THAT Would have been an entertaining movie…

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Harry Reems, here to stuff those stockings!

Cut to the the den of this stately mansion and one of these jocko’s is playing a guitar and can’t sing worth a shit and everyone is sitting around not talking, not looking at one another, as if they’re ashamed to be there. It could be pre-orgy tension, but I have a feeling it’s just dreadful direction and bad actors. Quick sideline, can someone tell me WHY these slasher flicks don’t contain orgies or group sex of any kind? These people sit around, bored out of their minds, yet obviously horny and willing to swap partners (which becomes apparent later in the film), so why, if you are in a tight space filled with other horny folks, do you not just drop your drawers and starts getting it on with the whole crew? Then again, I guess then you can;t pair people off to be killed around the property…maybe this is just my own personal preference/fantasy. Well, enough about me…  The boredom doesn’t last long as one character has her throat slit by someone in a Santa costume, and two more are murdered using a crossbow and an ax wielded by someone dressed in a suit of armor who had been watching them diddle one. The killer had to stand there, perfectly still, for hours just hoping someone would come fuck in front of them, and then would have wait for the ideal moment during the pork session to strike. Talk about commitment!

As the sun rises the survivors have a casual breakfast and seem to not give a shit about their vanished comrades. They’re too busy basking in the afterglow of one another’s late night pee squishing to care about almost half a dozen missing people. Even the cook who is watching over the girls seems nonplussed by the fact that there are now boys here she is having to cook for, too. It’s not long, however, before the virignal Nancy, while being chased around by a nerdy guy in glasses who wants to bang her, trips over the bloody, bug eyed corpse of Ralph the caretaker, whose body shoots up out of the shrubs like a goddamn whack-a-mole! It’s so close to being a moment of genuine shock, and in it’s cartoon lunacy has all the trappings of a true bit of nightmare imagery, but it left me with only giggles.

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The cops are called and everyone is told to stay indoors and look the doors and windows and there is a rift between the survivors. Some are sure that the missing members of the posse are surely dead, too, while the others refuse to believe they are in any real danger whatsoever. So, the swap fuck partners, some go outside to die, others go upstairs to fuck the cops and then strip nekkid, giving us full frontal, and when confronted with dead bodies, severed heads and a knife wielding killer Santa which SURELY spells dismemberment for the victim only leads them to put on a kimono and begging dancing and singing around the house. Huh?

And it’s all down to the final girl and nerdy boy to fight for their lives against the blood thirsty Santa Claus in the labyrinthine mansion. There are some twists and turns that even the most unversed horror fan will see coming a mile away, but it’s still quite a bit of fun watching To All A Goodnight stumble, fall, get up and then trip over their feet again as they hurtle themselves towards the film’s climax.

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It’s no wonder why David Hess never made a full length feature again because it looks like he had a tough time crafting this awkward chunk of strange, alas, his legacy will always be a captivating rape/revenge exploitation film heavyweight. The narrative of To All A Goodnight is all over, the dialogue is clunky, the gore effects are phony, but you get the feeling everyone is giving it what they can and no one really knows just what the Hell they’re doing, which gives To All A Good Night a sweet sort of homemade quality to it, which I really dig. There a nice couple moments of ladies getting nekkid with a bit of full frontal, which always helps liven things up, but the whole this is such bizarre hodge podge of tropes that were all, just at that moment in time, beginning to coagulate into the slasher formula that it nearly feels like a spoof…only it’s never intentionally funny, although unintentionally hilarious at times.

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To All A Goodnight is a Trash Cinema oddity, one worth checking if you are curious or a completest and might test the patience of the general movie going public. But for those of us who can see the bright side of a chunky, clunky, forgotten slasher film, To All A Good Night provides some holiday sugar to help was down the boring parts.

I’m awarding To All A Good Night TWO AND A HALF out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

12
Dec
19

Dottie Menerva: December Devil Girl of the Month (2019) NSFW

Hey Gang, The Primal Root here, and I am honored to introduce to you our December Devil Girl of the Month, Dottie Menerva with her blood soaked and ultra sexy ode to Jason Voorhees. Enjoy this special Friday the 13th Devil Girl and beware…It’s Got a DEATH CURSE!

The Primal Root: Dottie Menerva, this is one fantastically bloody, dirty ode to our brother in filth, Mr. Jason Voorhees. What prompted this gore soaked spread of Friday the 13th depravity?

Dottie Menerva: A girl and a camera.

Root: What was the most challenging aspect of this Devil Girl shoot? Did you encounter any wildlife while out there bringing the naked weirdness in honor of Friday the 13th?

Dottie: The most challenging aspect for me is the wildlife. You know what perverts those birds are.

Root: Do you have a favorite Friday the 13th film in the series? A favorite kill in the series, perhaps?

Dottie: Jason Goes To Hell

Root: How long did it take you to get all that blood off you and whose blood is it?

Dottie: Surprisingly not long at all, I’m an expert at removing it at this point in my career. It was GG Allen’s blood.

Root: Which horror movie character would you most like to party with?

Dottie: TJ Miller’s character in I’m Just Fucking With You

Root: Any advice to those roaming around Camp Crystal Lake and happen to run into you, naked, blood drenched and sporting a hockey mask and a blade?

Dottie: Life’s short, party naked (then I chop off their heads).

Root: What song would you like folks to listen to while checking out your Devil Girl spread?

Dottie: Blind Melon’s Skinned

Root: Any parting wisdom for any aspiring Devil Girls out there, Dottie?

Dottie: Don’t be afraid to see different versions of yourself and love each of them for a part of your complexity as a human being.It’s very transformative to have self perspective and I highly recommend getting in touch with Rewski Photography as she offers vivid concept art and delivers photos that offer a unique world.

Photography by Kayla King of Rewski Photography

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

27
Nov
19

The Happy Pill (2019): Put On A Happy Face

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a Primal Root written review

Life can become a nightmare. Work, family, relationships, daily interactions, it all begins to pile up and soon it feels as if the only escape we can find is when we shut our eyes and fade to sleep. Of course, this kind of lifestyle is enough to drive us all to the breaking point, and writer/director Kayla King’s debut short film, The Happy Pill, takes a graphic, nasty, and disturbing look into a life that is all too common for those of us struggling just to make it to the another day of pain, where we must constantly wake up from our dreams and head back into the repetitive, abusive mundane that is leading us nowhere.

 The Happy Pill tells the story of Amy Sanders (Heather Hough) dealing with deep depression who wakes up every morning to a nightmare routine. She calls her mother for help, but Mom is enjoying her vacation and can’t be bothered, she tries taking a shower, brushing her teeth vigorously, but she can’t get rid of how filthy she feels and it gets unfathomably worse when she goes to her dead end job at a vintage store, where her abusive boss, Mr. Moody (John Stevenson), a a dirty, sweaty, ass grabbing scumbag who enjoys nothing more than belittling and bad mouthing Amy. This is the routine, this is her life, and she is constantly reliving this Hell day after day.

That is, until she decides to begin taking a new over the counter medication named…The Happy Pill. We aren’t given much backstory to the medication itself, but the disconcerting effect is a compulsively grotesque smile that is constantly plastered on your face. Amy take the pills, day after life sucking day, upping the dosage each time, even as she begins to cry crimson tears, and her mouth fills with blood as she brushes her teeth. It all leads to a gore drenched, fecal matter encrusted climax and final confrontation between Amy and Mr. Moody, where the medicated Amy must decide whether she will continue to let life treat her like a piece of toilet paper, or will she take matters into her own hands and flush the shitty elements of her life straight to the sewer, and just where will that leave her?

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The Happy Pill is a ferocious, rage fueled debut. One with unique, body horror elements reminiscent of an early David Cronenberg by way of Kevin Smith and  mingling with the gnarly, schlocky, grossness and gratuitous gore and nudity of a Troma movie and comes up feeling like a companion piece to this year’s JOKER. What really sets The Happy Pill apart from so many short indie horror films I’ve seen are the fearless performances from the leads, first timer Heather Hough and veteran indie film actor, John Stevenson. Both give down and dirty, natural performances which really make the material work. And the fact that they are both up for depicting the horrors which appear in this film, especially by it’s end, make you  appreciate just how brave they are. Heather Hough owns every second of her screen time with a highly sympathetic and believable portrayal of Amy, and when she’s on screen, you cannot take your eyes off of her. Her transformation from depressed victim to violent, blood spewing avenger is damned impressive and is so fearless, it’s easy to forget this is her first time on screen. Stevenson plays the imposing Mr. Moody with an all too familiar glee and twinkle in his abusive eye. Moody enjoys abusing Amy who never fights back and does what she is told. He can touch her inappropriately, he can berate her in front of customers, he can tell her to work at HIS convenience and do it all with a chuckle and a shrug. Stevenson makes Mr. Moody a memorably despicable villain that we’ve all come across before…and you crave a comeuppance. John Stevenson deserves some great kudos for being game to bring such a monster to life.

King’s vision, brought to vivid, colorful life by cinematographer Hunter Black, who also served as editor of the film, is a perfectly timed sucker punch to the gut and feels exceedingly poignant as social issues, from mental health awareness, to the Me Too Movement, have become more prevalent ( thank goodness). The Happy Pill ends with a violent blast of pure frustration and rage at a world where so many are left behind, not cared for, unloved and made to feel worthless by those who neglect, abuse and drive their humanity into the ground under their boot heel. And this violent comeuppance, as incredible and brutal a sight to behold as it is, comes across as a battle cry of an entire sect of society left to fend for themselves with no upward mobility and no support system to fall back on.  And with the final shot, a silent, meditative, ambiguous moment, the filmmakers invite you to find you own meaning in what’s just happened. It allows you to read into the finale what you will in that final silent moment. And if, as they say, horror is simply a reflection of our society, I don’t doubt many of the viewers of The Happy Pill will feel as if they’re staring into their own eyes, as they themselves hold back the tears of rage they feel at a constant, every day life of scraping by and keeping a smile on your face while for those who make living off your hard work, while you waste your life away day by day and the previous generation goes on lavish vacations…and laughs at your struggle. 

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The Happy Pill is less than 15 minutes long, but it strikes with the force of a fucking sledge hammer. As the tagline reads, “It’s a Hard Pill to Swallow.” Well, mother fuckers, this is a dose you need to take.

I award The Happy Pill FIVE Out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets. This short film offers something for every Trash Cinema Aficionado and will knock your ass out and shatter your senses.  Keep your eyes peeled for more from these incredible burgeoning talents out of Tallahassee, Florida.  I honestly hope this remarkable horror film inspires more independent films from the area.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

 

22
Nov
19

The Dark Power (1985): Whip It Good With Lash LaRue To Show You How!

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“Feel my whip, you son of a bitch!” Lash LaRue as Ranger Girard in The Dark Power

a Primal Root written review

Whenever Thanksgiving starts creeping closer I always find myself contemplating the many attempts over the years to make horror films based around that specific holiday. Flicks like Blood Rage, and Home Sweet Home (which never explicitly states that it is taking place on Thanksgiving, but the family gathering, turkey dinner and football seem to suggest that it is), the awesome Eli Roth helmed trailer for a nonexistent 80’s slasher entitled Thanksgiving which gave us a taste of what COULD have been if someone decades ago had applied themselves to making a Turkey Day Slasher, and, of course, there’s the Thankskilling movies which blend blood, breasts and beasts with ample amounts of black comedy.

But I tend to veer more towards films which feature the most tenuous of connections to Thanksgiving, things that remind me of the basic elements of the holiday going wrong, primarily family dysfunction. Stuff out there like Desperate LivingThe Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Parents, and Pet Sematary. But there’s this one hunk of cinematic dog food that has always stuck out in the back of my mind as an unofficial Trash Cinema Thanksgiving film. I say unofficial because it doesn’t take place on Thanksgiving at all…it doesn’t even feature a damn turkey. Okay, shit, it has nothing at all to do with Thanksgiving REALLY, but it DOES have to do with Native American Spirits killing off dumbass white crackers who do not respect the heritage which was protecting their uneducated asses since before their great grand parents we even born. So, with my own warped logic, the idea of this land’s native inhabitants coming back from the dead to kill spoiled ass white people who committed genocide against them just rubs me the right way this time of year. It’s a film entitled…THE DARK POWER.

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When a local Native American medicine man passes away, he leaves his estate to his money hungry, yuppie grandson who immediately decides to rent his grandpappy’s old homestead out to a bunch of sorority babes who were recently kicked out of their dorm. Of course, everyone has heard the local legends that Grandpa Medicine Man’s homestead is haunted by four vengeful, murderous, Native American spirits, known as The Toltec Sorcerers, which he had been protecting the area from for years with numerous safeguards and ancient rituals. Sure, some might be creeped out, but no one REALLY believes the stories of this old house. That is, with the exception of  old timer, and close personal friend of the deceased medicine man, Ranger Girard played by none other than the legendary western whipping boy, Lash LaRue! Girard does his damnedest to warn folks, without sounding like a Crazy Ralph, that they’re messing with powers…DARK POWER beyond their understanding and that his old friend has been guarding his game and keeping everyone safe for decades. Sure, it’s all superstition, all these modern, shaved vagina hipsters, say…But Lash LaRue is holding on to that mystical whip the recent worm food medicine man gave him just a little bit tighter.

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It isn’t long before the house is full of half nekkid nubile young women, one of which invited her younger brother, who excels at sexual harassment, to live with them, too. The home is frequented by rowdy friends, overweight plumbers and truck stealing 8 year old boys, all of which seem to remove or misplace an artifact set in place to ward off the evil four spirits which will bring unspeakable horrors down on the land they haunt once removed. The girls are all likable enough, one is the main girl, who really doesn’t do a whole lot but survive, there’s the one who is really into fitness and self defense with a good sense of humor and never wears pants, the one that looks like Julia Roberts and is an outspoken racist and future Trump supporter (she’s the one who invited her obnoxious creeper brother to live with them) and there’s the incredibly friendly black girl who ends up having to deal with the Julia Roberts look-a-like’s constant racist bullshit.

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But not for long! Because soon the four evil spirits of The Toltec Sorcerers are awakened and they emerge from the ground in their expressionless Spencer’s Gifts Halloween masks doused in K-Y Jelly and begin slowly, methodically killing all the assholes int he house and whittling through the least enjoyable characters, to the most and then to the boring ones? Will modern means be able to stop this ancient…DARK POWER, or will anyone be able to WHIP into action and  send this…DARK POWER back to Hell?

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This one is a doozy, Gang. First off, let me just say this one is exceedingly cheap looking, which gives it a charming, kind of made at home vibe. That sort of feeling of watching a movie some friends decided to make one afternoon on a budget of $50 which all went to pizza and beer and their cast and crew consists entirely of their friends and ONE Hollywood legend, Mr. Lash (scene stealer) LaRue. This instantly adds to the appeal for me as a fan of low rent film making.  The acting is adorably bad. You can tell these folks are REALLY trying to sell these characters and their bizarre motivations. The standouts are Mary Dalton as Mary Dalton, a local TV reporter, who is an okay interviewer and an A+ horn dog who is constantly hitting on Lash LaRue who is old enough to be her Grandfather. Cynthia Bailey as Tammie, the superstitious and incredibly kind hearted and tolerant young black woman who moves into a house where she will cohabitate with a racist and a racist’s racist sexual harassing brother. Suzy Martin as Suzy, the work out freak, who is forever upbeat and without trousers, even when getting chased by horrifying, bloodthirsty Toltec Sorcerers. Paul Holman as Uncle Earl Coleman who is a pretty solid piece of exceedingly hefty comic relief with a THICK southern accent, a heart of gold and delivers the line “It smells…like a FART!” with perfect diction and excellent comedic timing. Also, there’s a character who just shows up to get in a bathtub, chug a can of Budweiser and show off her boobs, I think her name is Page? Anyway, thank you for providing the ONLY shot of bare female breasts in the entire film with your only moment of screen time.

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And, of course, the MVP is Lash LaRue, who shows up when all hope is lost and whips the fuck out of anything that looks like it’s intent on hurting someone. The movie even opens with this strange scene that has absolutely no connection to the rest of the film which features a little kid getting berated by his mother about the haunted property the medicine man lives on and how he shouldn’t go near it. Well, the kid sneaks out and starts wondering some trails in the woods near the property where he is chased by a pack of vicious dogs. The kid runs for his life with the adorable, I mean HORRIFYING dogs nipping at his heels. The kid gets to a clearing and BEHOLD! LASH LARUE! Who cracks the fuck out of his whip and sends the raging rovers back into the woods they emerged from. The kid weeps with his face in the dirt, Lash puts his whip away and stares at the kid, emotionless…SCENE. WHAT DID THIS TEN MINUTE SEQUENCE HAVE TO DO WITH ANYTHING? 1. It pads the film to make it feature length. 2. It established Lash as a force for good against that…DARK POWER in those woods. Seriously, anytime Lash shows up on screen, his charm and good nature come shining through and just make every moment a pleasure to watch. Especially in the final confrontation at the haunted house where he takes on all The Toltec Sorcerers, whipping the fuck out of them and taunting them the whole time. It’s great watching this old timer do what he does best, crack that whip, and be a hero.

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The effects are effective, but again, pretty cheap. Lots of folks getting shot with arrows, but one death really stands out, there’s this one ginger kid who gets yanked off of a pontoon boat, has his arm slowly pulled off and then has his face, again, SLOWLY ripped off. It’s gruesome and painful, but also delightful in it’s cheesiness. Also, when The Toltec Sorcerers are finally sent back to Hell, their demise is a lot of gooey, melty fun.

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This was the first feature directed by Phil Smoot, who has spent most of his life working behind the scenes as producer or Production Manager of other independent films like Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth, Kevin Smith’s Tusk, and Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice. I would LOVE to know more about the making of The Dark Power, but, unfortunately, there’s not a whole heck of a lot out there. One of it’s main claims to fame is being made fun of by Rifftrax.

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All and all, The Dark Power is a tale about the white man’s lack of respect for Native American culture, their people and their rich heritage. It’s easy to shrug off someone’s ancient beliefs as hogwash, but, it’s never a bad idea to just leave some trinkets in the ground if there’s a slight possibility it will keep you from having your entire face ripped off by a malevolent The Toltec Sorcerers raised from the dead because you thought your front yard looked better without the eagle on the skull decoration left there by the medicine man devoted his life to protecting your dumb, ungrateful white ass.

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So, this Thanksgiving, I recommend you pick up this hot, smoked turkey for you trash cinema fans to chow down on. It goes down easy, fills you up with cheap, trashy goodness and doesn’t disappoint. Oh yes, there’s plenty to be thankful for, especially this 1985 slice of Trash.

I award The Dark Power THREE out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets. Low-Rent appreciating Trash Cinema devotees, like myself, will adore it. Grab some friends, a case of beer, and have filthy Thanksgiving feast!

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

23
Feb
19

Luciferina (2018): Mercy for The Devil

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a Primal Root review

Is there any more tired trope in horror cinema than an exorcism?  Man, they’re a dime a dozen. You get a young girl (typically) put a demon in her, let science fail, hire a priest, he spouts some nonsense from the old testament, people die, someone sacrifices themselves, evil is either vanquished or at least there’s a stale mate. Like Beauty and the Beast, it’s a tired tale as old as time and, ever since it has risen to considerable heights with classic horror offerings like William Freidkin’s sublime 1973 touchstone, The Exorcist, William Peter Blatty’s truly exceptional and highly underrated The Exorcist III and then it kind of spirals into the abyss of B-Movie cheese or pop culture relics, not that I don’t love them, but rarely is the story ever given an update or does it conjure up anything truly shocking or surprising. When I hear there’s an exorcism in a film, I know I’m going to be in for shaky bed, ass spewage, cheese a minute city.

That’s why I was so damn pleased when I finally say my ass down and gave the 2018 Argentinian horror offering entitled Luciferina a shot.  When I first popped the blu-ray into my player I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect from Gonzalo Calzada’s latest offering.  I can tell you, I was not anticipating this startling original take on the stalest genre of horror since The Walking Dead drove the last nail into the zombie genre. But, I digress…

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Luciferina tells the tale of young, virginal Natalia (Sofia del Tuffo) who resides in a convenient and is on her way to becoming a nun when the tragic death of her Mother brings her home to be with her bed ridden, comatose Father and recovering drug addicted sister. Once she arrives, it becomes clear that things are not at all right there. Well, will all the blood drenched pieced of art featuring both phallic and yonic imagery which she created in her final moments. Bizarrely, their ill father who can’t get out of bed, no communicate, is kept all the way up on the third floor of their immense home along with all these disturbing pieces of art,  where his deceased wife’s blood and internal goopage was utilized by her own insane hands to create these masterpieces of the macabre. Not only that, but the dozen or so pieces are set up TO FACE THE POOR BASTARD…and there are two incredibly bright lights pointed at their poor Dad’s face both night and day which I cannot for the life of me understand how that’s supposed to help him with his illness, but I’m not Argentinian doctor, so…I mean, whatever you think is best doc.

Natalia’s sister, Angela (Malena Sanchez) believes a curse has been visited upon the family for both her and her sister having left and has arranged for the two of them, along with Angela’s rag-tag Scooby-Doo inspired team of misfits, including her ultra violent and uber rapey poster child the Argentina Proud Boys movement, Mauro (Francisco Donovan) to take a journey deep into the jungle to take part in a spiritual rite performed by a Peruvian Chaman (Tomas Lipan). This rite involves knocking back entheogenic brew of Ayahuasca. From what I understand, ingesting this concoction typically doesn’t lead to the ripping of one’s friends into multiple meaty chunks and leaving said chunks strewn about an ancient temple, but, some folks have far nastier demons buried within than others… Natalie decides to go along on the trip (hehehe) and take part in the ritual which will bring everyone face to face with the secrets of their past, their darkest memories and  lead to an unexpected, unplanned, and deeply affecting final rite that I can only describe as a sexorcism.

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Luciferina is an incredible slow burn of a horror film that does a commendable job of eschewing expectation based on the horror audiences common knowledge of such proceedings and keeping the true nature of Natalie a under wrap and still in question by film’s end.  Why is Natlie drawn to her mother’s blood soaked murder portraits of male and female genitalia? Why does she repeatedly have visions of those around her bathed in light? Why does she keep having dreams and visions of an abandoned abbey in the jungle and a mysterious old woman within? And why is this chaste, virtuous , nun in training beginning to feel sexual attraction and lustful urges towards those around her? The movie makes clear throughout how Natalie views sex as something dirty and obscene. Take for, for example, an early scene once Natalie comes home and takes a shower. She closes her eyes and begins to stroke her breasts and touch herself between her legs as the steam rises, but as soon as she opens her eyes, she sees several larch cockroaches by her feet in the bottom of the tub. It’s a grotesque and startling moment, but one that perfectly illustrates Natalie’s point of view, which becomes all the more relevant by film’s end.

I understand the issues many folks have with Luciferina. That the further we get into the story and the more things attempt to make sense, the less that they do. And by the final act,  the fine crafted suspense and feeling of deep, unsettling dread eventually give way to exceptional bloody practical effects and one of finest sex scenes I’ve seen in any film, horror or otherwise, what feels like eons. Natalie, who is portrayed pitch perfectly by del Tuffo, spends the first two thirds of Luciferina building her into a fragile protagonist, but by the film’s end, she becomes just as believable as confident, strong, uncompromising heroine. And, to be honest, the finale sexorcism scene is brilliant, equal parts arousing and disturbing and trail blazingly unique. It comes across as absolutely relevant and a full 180 degree turn from what exorcist films have presented to us in the past, as a woman embraces her own sexuality and empowering herself to destroy and vanquish a demon.

Can I get an amen?

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Luciferina possess a dark, alluring beauty all it’s own , one I am not accustom to in modern horror genre. With it’s wholly original combining of sex, the cycle of existence, angels, demons, is fascinating and disturbing and the film carves open it’s own bloody, beautiful path. From what I gather, Lucifernia has a truly progressive and positive message regarding sexuality female sexuality, which in itself is a blessed breath of fresh air in a genre that so often boasts a near medieval conservative view of female sexual relations (I’m looking at you, Jason Voorhees).   In Lucifernia, sex can be used for great good or absolute evil, it can either possess or exorcise. Sex is not inherently shameful, dirty or sinful, it all depends on the purpose of which you wield it. That mercy, not punishment, can perhaps be the answer. Now, how many religious horror films can you recall with the brass balls to convey this specific message?

Luciferina is by no means a masterpiece of the genre, but it is a one of a kind take on a thread bare genre, one that is captivating and alive with a creative energy rarely experienced by horror audiences these days. Exceedingly original, both disturbing in it’s imagery and astoundingly gorgeous in it’s cinematography, and manages to avoid making what could have EASILY been a cheap, exploitation “Fucked by The Devil flick” (not that there’s anything wrong with those.) and instead deliveries what I would say is among the most empowering and positive female driven horror films I’ve ever seen.

I give Luciferina FOUR out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

 

 

 




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