Posts Tagged ‘1980’s

19
Jul
18

Hell Comes to Frogtown (1988) Hell or High Sperm Count

hell_comes_to_frogtown_poster_01

“EAT LEAD, FROGGIES!” – Sam Hell, Hell Comes to Frogtown

“We’re gonna get ’em out, and you’re gonna get ’em pregnant.” – Spangle, Hell Comes to Frogtown

a Primal Root Written Review

Never in the annals over cinema has the queasy unease and horror apparent in the possibility of losing your sexual organs been so graphically portrayed as they are in the post apocalyptic 1988 sci-fi comedy action adventure cyber punk sweat and filth caked fever dream, Hell Comes to Frogtown starring the late, great, Roddy Piper, Sandahl Bergman, Cec Verrell, and Farmer Vincent himself, Rory Calhoun!

no condoms

As always, the world is left a post apocalyptic wasteland due to a “difference of opinion” (HAHAHA!) which leads to a nuclear war obliterating all of civilization and leaving the good majority of the handful of remaining men steril. Which is where Sam Hell comes in (played with over the top buffoonery glee by Roddy Piper), we catch up with him as he is about to get his genitals torn off by an angered military Captain named Devlin, whose daughter said Sam raped her, but he actually didn’t, and is now with child. However, the forced castration is quickly put to an end when Spangle (Sandahl Bergman) and Patton (Eyde Byrde) show up just in the nick of time to put him in an explosive cod piece and make his cock and balls official government equipment to be used in the repopulation of the planet. See, he tests way off the charts with the most ammunition in his weapon than they’re ever seen before, which makes him quite the commodity in the wasteland. One of my favorite moments in the film is when he is sitting in the lab of this government repopulation building with his beeping, blinking codpiece on, as he looks around and sees all the propaganda on the walls including a great poster that has a NO CONDOMS symbol over it and states “THE FUTURE IS IN YOUR HANDS!” Hell signs his junk away without reading the fine print and is now enlisted to go on missions across the remaining junk heap of Earth in an bulky explosive codpiece he can’t take off or it will explode, if he gets too far away from Spangle, it will electrocute his ball, and then explode. So, he’s basically a a fuck slave for the government.

hell_comes_to_frogtown_sandhal_bergman_us_dvd_00-06-25_cap01

Immediately, Hell is thrown into a mission to rescue a bevy of fertile young women who have been captured and used as sex slaves by a race of mutant amphibians who were exiled to the desert by humans to a place called, you guessed it, FROGTOWN! Hell, Spangle and badass gunner, Centinella (Cec Verrell) head off into the wasteland driving a bright pink Studebaker with a sunroof so Centinella can man the massive machine gun mounted to the top, in order to rescue the fertile maidens and have Hell give them the deep dicking they need to repopulate the Earth. Along the way, of course, we learn Spangle is trained in the art of seduction, which is graphically portrayed as she whips out her late 80’s camouflage and doily adorned lingerie, in order to keep Hell teased, hard, and ready to impregnate when the time arrives. Late at night, Centinella strips off her uniform, whips her puppies out of the chute (providing the ONLY bare breasts of the entire film) opens Hell’s the cod piece flap, straddles our wrestler hero, but gets pulled off right before he enters her ring by a jealous, but posing as protective, Spangle. Ugghhh, repopulating the planet is going be touch when all the women keep getting upset over who owns this guy’s penis.

4q9t9XD

Before long, the trio comes across an actual, honest, to goodness fertile lone woman of the wasteland. Spangle basically terrorizes and bullies the young woman before Hell tells her to back the fuck off so he can talk to the woman. Spangle gets irritated with Sam who balks at the artifice of this who deal and can’t perform under these circumstances. “Hey, you try making love to a complete stranger in a hostile, mutant environment, see how you like it.” But, eventually, Hell and the young woman warm up to one another, and get down to business as Spangle watches on jealously.  In the morning, the young woman directs our trio of heroes to Frogtown, thanks Hell for the lust in the dust, give him a big bear hug and is on her way to die of exposure in the nuclear desert before ever even having that the baby Hell just shot down her love canal.

0_52cwcRl81dU9ucju

Okay, entering Frogtown, which is EXACTLY what you might assume it would be. A dark, filthy, greasy, sweaty underworld made up of freakish mutated frog people drinking sewage, reading copies of The Frog Prince, and doing strip teases upon the bar. Spangle’s plan is to pose as Hell’s faux hostage and slave to be traded to a frog pimp that goes by the name of Leroy. Leroy happens to be aided by an older HUMAN gent and acquaintance of Hell who goes by the name Looney Tunes (Rory Calhoun). The trade, however, comes to an abrupt halt when the one eyes frog, masochist and right hand toad of Commander Toty, the King Frog of Frogtown, a mutant who would love nothing more in this post apocalyptic husk of a world than to watch Hell’s package explode into meaty, sizzling chunks. Well, even more than that, he wants to enslave Spangle and watch her perform the highly erotic Dance of The Three Snakes, which is a scene that must be seen to be fully appreciated, no words of mine could every fully do it justice.

960_hell_comes_to_frogtown_X02_blu-ray_

 

Oddly enough, it feels like the movie kind of drags once they hit Frogtown as Spangle tries to seduce Hell, and he rebukes. Arabella, the shapely frog stripper, tries to get Hell to fuck her, and he rebukes, and she pulls him back and crawls on him, and he puts a burlap sack over his head and says no, no ,no. It’s kind of funny for a minute, but as these interactions keep happening, it gets old quick. But, once Hell is captured, Spangle is forced to dance, and chainsaws start getting pulled into the action, Hell Comes to Frogtown gets back on track and into the action is a big hurry.

frogtown2

For being a New World Picture and the budget certainly being pretty nil, the effects are pretty impressive. Tee frog mutants may not be the greatest effects ever produced, but they’re quite audacious for an indie sci-fi flick. What really saves the day and makes Hell Comes to Frogtown so damn watchable, is the charasmatic, go for broke, comedic performance of Roddy Piper. They man is absolutely hysterical in the movie, calling on his experience mugging and emoting at top dramatic level from his professional wrestling days, the man hams it up to such an extreme, that you cannot help but laugh with the guy. It’s a ridiculous goddamn movie, and where everyone plays it serious, Roddy plays it for laughs, and it makes the film, if you ask me.

960_hell_comes_to_frogtown_X04_blu-ray_

Hell Comes To Frogtown is by no stretch of the imagination a good film, or a competent one and I doubt it would make anyone’s favorite sci-fi action films, even from the 80’s. But, what it is, is a a fucking hoot of a piece of Trash Cinema and one very fun, brain dead ride into a hot, sweaty, dusty abysmal dystopian Hellscape well in need of some good fucks. It’s a flick where humanoid mutant frog people are packing heat, kidnapping scantly clad nubile young women who must be saved by the beefy awesomeness of Roddy Piper. Honestly, what’s not to enjoy?

960_hell_comes_to_frogtown_X07_blu-ray_

I award Hell Comes to Frogtown THREE AND A HALF out of  FIVE Dumpster Nuggets.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

02
Jun
18

(NSFW) Recruits (1986): Tittyzens on Patrol

 

recruits

a Primal Root review

“Break and enter, gross indecency, attempted murder, sexual assault with intent to rape… Do you think they’ll keep me in jail for this?” – Howie Gluckstein, introducing himself in Recruits (1986)

The Police Academy films were a staple of my childhood. The plethora of sequels to this unfathomably long running Steve Guttenberg franchise were constantly being played on HBO and I remember being in the single digits and begging my Mom to rent any sequel to the series. Was I, even at that young age, a fan of seeing figures of authority portrayed as buffoons? I doubt it was anything like that, I’m pretty sure it was just the stupid slapstick humor and vibrant, unabashed perverse sense of humor. Hell, it was the franchise that introduced to me the concept of the leather clad gay biker bar YEARS before Nightmare on Elm Street part 2: Freddy’s Revenge had a chance to.  But, I digress…

Now, going back and watching these movies, I have no idea what exactly the appeal was of that very first Police Academy film. Sure, it had some great comedic talent, but for the most part, I feel a lot of it was wasted and it just wasn’t that impressively funny, let alone, six sequels and a seventh Mission to Moscow funny.

Which brings me to Recruits from 1986, the first in a series of one Canadian made Police Academy knock-offs that, to my own amazement, beats Police Academy at it’s own game and delivers. Sure, there were at least a half dozen imitators that followed in Police Academy’s wake like, Feds, Night Patrol, Off Beat, Moving Violations, etc. But few did it with a down and dirty purity like the highly perverted and sleaze saturated Recruits.

The basic story is as follows: Sgt. Hardbutt has two weeks to recruit a civilian team to protect the Governor who is coming to town, but they must be so inept, he can pull off an assassination of the Governor in order to promote the Mayor and then replace the position as Mayor Hardbutt. So, he plunders the darkest corners of his prison to recruit about a dozen perverts, sex workers, drunkards, and violent offenders in order to assemble his team of misfits who he then has his Master Sgt. Stonewall actually train like their in a military academy for those two weeks to the point they are actually kind of okay cops by the end.

recruits fellas

We are introduced to this group of characters as they fall prey to their own corrupt and immoral behavior before getting arrested, all of which typically involved exposed female breasts, which becomes apparent real quick, to be the bread and butter of this film. Our main character and Chris Pratt prototype, Mike Budowsky (Doug Annear) is arrested while dressed as a lobster and banging the Mayor’s daughter Lobster style at a fundraising event for her father. Winston and Steve stalk the beach and have an elaborate scam to sexually assault women that involves a hazmat suit and saying they need women to remove their bikinis so they can check them for signs of radiation, which the women eventually smile and do happily once they realize these men are just trying to assault them, tops to the sand, boobs a plenty. And of course, Howie, the four eyed yacht cleaner by trade, who slips and falls into the cuddy cabin of a boat he happens to be cleaning and face first into a smiling naked woman’s bare breasts, who is all about it, until her muscle head boyfriend busts in the room and has him arrested for attempted rape, sexual assault, gross indecency and…attempted murder?

Starting to get the picture?

There’s scene after scene with hardly any connective tissue at all. Here’s some examples. Scene: Female recruit mock arrests our main character and tells him to unpack the “gun” from his pants, of course, they whip out their low back throbber and every one marvels at the size of his appendage which, of course, is kept totally off screen. CUT! Next Scene:  The Recruits are handed guns with live rounds and no training and are expected to hit targets, of course, they end up firing bullets into police headquarters and right through the Sergeants coffee mug. CUT! Next Scene: Howie is caught LITERALLY cleaning his gun while in bed, but German seductress Sgt. Schicklgruber (Colleen Passard) assumes he’s beating off, strips down to her elaborate display of underwear, before grabbing his weapon and it fires into the ceiling leaving the two in awkward, stunned silence. CUT! Next scene: Two guys end up in bed together under false pretenses thinking they’re with women, exchange a passionate kiss and then spend two minutes of screen time screaming at one another and spitting on the ground. CUT! Next Scene: Add an absolutely adorable motorcycle training sequence where Jon Mikl Thor of Zombie Nightmare fame, as Thunderhead does some rather lackluster, but supposedly mind blowing stunts, the old, drunk geezer recruit continually falls of his motorcycle and the Mayor’s daughter keeps her bike in place, but grinds her lady bits into the seat as the motor roars and she groans in ecstasy.

Recruits cover

And this bizarre form of comedic story telling, honestly, works in the films favor. You don’t care about the characters at all, but it’s all so goddamn stupid and poorly executed that it works in spite of itself. It’s like a really dumb dog trying to catch a frisbee. It wants to, and it’s trying really hard, but the frisbee keeps hitting the poor, drooling, stupidly happy dog in the face who just keeps smiling like an idiot with it’s tongue dangling out. It’s adorable and you can’t help but love it for all it’s simple minded flaws.

Now, of course, in the year 2018 just about ALL of these jokes have not aged well. Most assuredly the majority of the jokes revolve around women being either totally butt nekkid or topless due to someone ripping off their blouse accidentally…or what seems to be totally on purpose. Let me tell you, I have seen plenty of Trashy movies in my day, and I can with all honesty say, I have NEVER in my viewing experiences EVER seen this many pairs of bare female breasts in one movie. If a woman shows up on screen, chances are you are going to see her tits. Sure, the first five minutes you see about three pairs of tits and it gets an awkward chuckle, “This is funny?” But by the twenty minute mark, what becomes hilarious, is seeing to what lengths the filmmakers will go to justify the gag of a woman having her breasts exposed for the camera. It ludicrous and astoundingly perverted, but seeing a film so tit happy is kind of remarkable. I guess boobs were much funnier in the 1980’s than they are today. Seems like wieners have taken over as the comic relief piece of the human anatomy in the new millennium. Which is fine, but man, do I miss all those boobs…

Another repeated gag that has aged pretty poorly, is the gag attributed to a recruit named Clint. Clint is a character who’s hilarious characteristic is how gun happy he is. He shoots at everyone. Jay walkers, tiny children going faster than him on their big wheels, etc. This day and age, I don’t think anyone is laughing at trigger happy policemen and is a joke that would never be made nowadays, unless it’s Sandra Bullock shooting off a man’s genitals. It lent itself to some uncomfortable laughs and knowing “holy shit” looks exchanged between Bootsie Kidd and I, but this would not even make it onto the page these days.

There’s even a strange racially charged scene where an African Canadian recruit, Winston, goes into a country western bar, trying to emulate Eddie Murphy’s character from 48 Hours (his own words). Winston, once intimidated by the racist white trash rednecks that inhabit the place after he orders a black russian, states that he is a cop. When this tactic fails, Winston claims he has multiple personality disorder, then gets the shit kicked out of him and thrown out of the bar. He later rectifies this situation with a leopard he brings into the western bar at the end of the film to maul the rednecks to death. It’s a very awkward character arc with very little comedic delivery, but it pays off in all kinds of awkward.

All these half hazardly strewn together scenes and story arcs lead to the attempted assassination of The Governor via civial war cannon… because Sgt. Hardbutt wants a “big bang.” The Governor is driven to town by two naked recruits he interrupted while they were fucking, he has the top to the convertible dropped down to he and his wife can wave to their supporters, and all Hell breaks loose! The cannon misses, obliterates the stage, the crowd erupts into a riot, the nekkid recruits literally scream “WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE!” Before running for their lives wearing nothing but their police issued hats, boobs bouncing, and Howie crashes his motorcycle into the back of The Governor’s car, does a back flip of the trunk, grab’s the Governor’s wife’s blouse and rips it off (of course) exposing her huge breasts for the world to see. THE ARISTOCRATS!

As you might imagine, the recruits are fired, but not before, for some reason, the mayor hires them all back because the rest of the police for quits or goes on strike or something. For whatever reason, the city is experiencing riots and looting and the only people who can put an end to it are The Recruits! They suit up and go to work using their highly illegal methods, my favorite is the use of teenage baton twirlers to savagely crush the testicles of a half dozen rednecks looting a farmer’s market, to crack down on the epidemic of crime. Paul Verhoven would later use this plot point to greater effect in 1987’s ROBOCOP.

Will the recruits prove that Sgt. Hardbutt and Master Sgt. Stonewall are the culprits behind the assassination attempt of The Governor? Will they be reinstated as actual police officers so they won’t have to go back to their low paying lives as sexual assaulters? And, most importantly, how many more bare female breasts can we cram into the run time of this fucking movie? I can answer that one for you, AS MANY AS POSSIBLE!

Recruits shouldn’t work. Especially over twenty years later.Recruits is unrelentingly dumb. An artifact from the past filled with politically incorrect humor, unabashed perversion, and the most gratuitous movie I’ve ever seen in a genre picture of this ilk in my entire life in Trash Cinema. Mix all these ingredients together, and you have aGrade A slice of beautifully realized Trash Cinema Comedy Gold well worth the revisit.

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

Available to rent on glorious VHS at Tallahassee’s Own Cap City Video Lounge! Or watch it on youtube in it’s uncensored entirety.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

28
Dec
17

New Year’s Evil: Dropping the Ball

new_years_evil_poster_01

“It’s been a really bad year for me.” – Richard Sullivan, New Year’s Evil

a Primal Root Review

New Year’s Eve! That oh-so special night when we all come together to celebrate the passing of another year of set backs, horrible crimes against humanity and affronts to moral decency as we fill our bellies and blood streams with excessive amounts of alcohol in the hopes we can some how kill away the pain we feel in losing a portion of ourselves to such a godawful twelve months of our lives. That is, before we wake up New Year’s Day and roll out of our crusty, cold, puddle of puke from the night before, pluck the used condom from out of our assholes, we hope, that maybe…just maybe…, to quote The Counting Craws, this year will be better than the last.

You think of the multitude of traditions associated with this yearly world wide party and all the festive goings on and one wonders how an early 80’s slasher film could go so wrong with using this year end hedonistic smorgasbord go wrong? Well, the makes of New Year’s Evil has found a way!

new-years-evil-3

It’s New Year’s Eve in Los Angeles and the supposedly “sexy” host of a rock n’ roll call in show called Hollywood Hotline, Diane “Blaze” Sullivan (Roz Kelly), who looks like a Christian soccer Mom got accosted by Hot Topic,   is hosting an all night television New Year’s party where they are celebrating new year’s in every time code. But one caller tells her to call him “Evil” and that he is going to kill someone at every stroke of midnight. Blaze ignores her troubled actor son and focuses on her live telecast responsibilities while trying to get the local police to do their jobs and halt Evil before he kills someone close to her, as he has threatened. This will not be so easy, as the killer is a MASTER OF DISGUISE! Implementing fake mustaches and priest outfits that do very little to change his appearance at all!

As the corpses begin to mount, the cops deduce that Evil is killing one person every hour from 9 to midnight. Will the police be able to track down the killer before the final stroke of midnight and Blaze get snuffed out and is there any hope that they can make this movie the least bit exciting or entertaining?

teri-copley-new-years-evil-2

 

Okay, New Year’s Evil is one of the greatest letdowns I’ve ever forced myself to sit through. Where does one even begin? The movie is all over the damn place, and not in a good way. It feels like the filmmakers were scrambling to find ANYTHING interesting to thrill us with but are constantly coming up short. There is absolutely no gore to speak of, literally, non. Zip. Nada. Not only that, but there is hardly any nudity to seduce us with. Listen, if you hardly have a story and don’t have a budget for any kind of gore effects in your mother fucking SLASHER movie, at least throw us a bone and feature some nekkid flesh, because watching shitty bands play terrible music in between people talking on the phone, exchanging clunky, passionless dialog, and literally just waiting for something to happen does not an fun, entertaining, or so-bad-it’s-good piece of Trash Cinema make.

new_years_evil_3

Kip Niven as Richard Sullivan who we know is Evil from the very beginning does his very best with the material he is given, with varying results. It goes from being dull as a dog turn to unintentionally comical, but he never quite settles on a tone. Grant Cramer as Blaze and Richard’s ignore son and struggling actor is actually pretty fun to watch, although his screen time adds up to about five minutes. One scene that stands out is when he takes some pills, dons a red stocking over his head and begins angrily pulling rose buds off a bouquet he gave his mother.  It’s nothing really special, but in this snooze fest, it actually passes as mildly intriguing. Then there’s Roz Kelly as Blaze, who might be the most poorly cast and most ill equipped actor in the film. The whole films rest squarely on her shoulders, it is her’s to carry and she simply is not up to the challenge. She is supposed to be energetic, down and dirty and fun to be around! She dresses the part but comes off as tired, bewildered and completely out of place during her New Year’s Eve call in television party.

Really, there’s not much to recommend…the scenes meander along and go from one to the other out of duty but you never once sense any kind of passion of the project. You get the vibe that everyone involved is sort of just going through the motions to collect a pay check. There’s no fun to be had, it’s an utterly toothless, literally bloodless feature length film that has nothing to offer even the most easy to please fright fan.

19

Okay, well, there is kind of one thing I enjoyed. When it’s “Revealed” that Richard is Evil and he explains his motives to Blaze it’s pretty damn funny. He hates that his wife is so busy and doing so well and flirts with other men and ignores her son. I mean, was a divorce out of the question? He HAD to kill several people who had nothing to do with his shitty marriage? “You’ve castrated me and that is not nice.” Richard explains, like the loser he is. Because his wife is successful and he and their son feel left behind, there just had to be a killing spree… “Women are manipulative and deceitful and immoral and very very selfish” And this is coming from a guy who just killed a half dozen people while is disguise and lying to them simply because he doesn’t like his marital situation.  Not only is this moment a nice little peek into a dark and slimy world of late 70’s misogyny, but a reminder that these kind of guys are still very much a part of the fabric of our loves, just like cotton, here in modern day America. Only they typically resent women for playing leads in remakes of Ghostbusters and are pissed that women are badass Jedi’s now in their Star Wars sequels.

Also, there is one line of darkly brilliant comedy dialog when Richard chains Blaze to the bottom of an elevator, “Enjoy your farewell party tonight. Get smashed!” BWAHAHAHAHA! Oh man, that was good. If only the ENTIRE movie could have been this witty or darkly comical.

New-Years-Evil-11

Okay, Richard’s Laurel (of Laurel and Hardy) mask is kind of creepy…

 

In all honesty, this might be the most boring slasher film ever produced. How fucking sad is that? I think I will commence to getting shit faced now. I cannot wait till New Year’s Eve after watching New Year’s Evil…

ONE 1/2 out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

 

29
May
17

Never Too Young To Die (1986) From Stargrove With Love

NT6

a Primal Root written Review

If I had a dime for every franchise started that claimed to be “The Next James Bond.” It seems to be a height countless studios have tried to reach since Bond proved so ceaselessly profitable. Classy, violent, misogynistic, and featuring gadgets, over the top improbably action and dynamite opening credit sequences that often times are the highlight of these action and espionage drenched goofball male fantasy spank fests. Bond proved to be a franchise that could carry on indefinitely, changing creative hands, trading out talent, and even continuities and never to the detriment of the fans. Except those who hate Daniel Craig for whatever reason.

The fact is, I’ve never been a huge James Bond fan, but I know the tropes pretty damn well, and every time a wannabe comes along it’s apparent and, in it’s own way, no matter hopeful or interesting it might be, a little pitiful. Why? Because it always feels like these films are trying to “One Up” James Bond. And with a franchise this long standing, there’s hardly a chance. You should probably have some respect for the franchise that inspired your lame wannabe flick. The franchise inspired such unabashed ripoffs as Secret Agent Super Dragon, Operation Kid Brother (starring NEIL Connery), A Man Called Dagger and more recently modern crap that tries to update the formula like XXX starring Vin Diesel, where our new Bond character is an EXTREME Mountain Dew ad of a special agent, and that goofy Kingsman: The Secret Service, where a young parkore kid gets fitted in a nice suite and fucks a princess in the ass. How far we have come, huh? Or should I say, “cum”? Bus, I digress…

Because there IS one James Bond ripoff that I have an immense appreciation for. One that gives it’s nods to the franchise that obviously inspired it, but also blazes it’s own trashy, wonderfully weird and awkward path towards cinematic action glory. It’s Gil Bettman’s 1986 Daddy Issues, terrorist thwarting, action and espionage classic, Never Too Young to Die!

product_detail_3162030205001_5278527028001_5278522558001-vs

John Stamos (TV’s Full House) IS Lance Stargrove! A young man attending a prestigious academic academy and happens to be an accomplished gymnast and a straight A student, thanks to his Asian buddy, Cliff (Peter Kwong) who helps him cheat via wristwatch. Lance is also a gloomy gus because his Mom died years ago and he never sees his Father, Drew Stargrove (George Lazenby of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, SEE! That’s respect! Putting an ACTUAL actor who played James Bond in your goofy James Bond wannabe flick!) When Lance’s Pop’s doesn’t show up the Parent’s Day to watch him hang from some rings, he takes it to heart. Old Dad dropped the ball and let him down again. Little does Lance know, his Dad is a hard nosed, wisecracking, badass secret agent who is missing Parent’s Day trying to thwart a terrorist plot to poison California’s entire water supply with toxic waste.  This is the horrifying plan dreamed up by evil hermaphroditic terrorist, sociopath, snazzy dresser, murderer,  night club performer and general madman, Velvet Von Ragner (played by show stealing Gene Simmons from the legendary rock bad KISS). When Lance’s Father is double crossed and puts up a  valiant struggle against Ragner and his goons (who dress in Road Warrior sheik at ALL times which doesn’t help them blend in at all)  in vein, Lance feels somehow feels it in the middle of his gymnastic routine and drops to the floor like a sack of shit.

At his Father’s wake, the official explanation is “car accident”, but lance isn;t buying it. Especially after he lays eyes on the sexy, sultry, mourning, Ms. Danja Deering (Vanity, RIP, of Action Jackson and The Last Dragon Fame) who manages to look good in head to toe black in the sweltering California heat.  Lance tracks her down at his recently inherited farm just in time to watch Danja stomp a warrior of the wasteland’s face into some horse shit before the place gets set on fire, igniting a box labeled “grenades” and blowing the whole damn place sky high. After this harrowing encounter, Lance begins whining and and accuses Danja of banging his Dad as she gets disrobed in the kitchen and grabs a gun from above the oven as an alarm goes off warning of intruders. It happens to be Caruthers, a ginger bearded member of the same nameless agency Danja and the late Drew Stargrove worked for, at least as far I can tell. They have their first of many conversations that repeatedly emphasis that Ragner IS A HERMAPHRODITE, and is almost certainly the person responsible for Drew Stargrove’s brutal murder.

2a84f489ec57dfbbe26730f7da64eaf9

Danja heads to an avant-garde biker bar called The Incinerator where Ragner, a known terrorist threat and certainly on The FBI’s Top Ten Most Wanted List,  is performing her strange spoken word rock and roll stage show. Of course, Lance tags along, requests a lube job from a transgendered waitress. Danja tells this idiot to go home, to which he replies, “I don;t have a home!” I suppose the excitement of the day made poor Lance forget about not only his dorm room, but the enormous farm he just inherited. Ragner takes the stage and speaks a diddy about be a hermaphrodite which includes the immortal line “It takes a man like me to be a woman like me!” as Danja reveals to Lance that Ragner is the person who killed his Father. Lance responds by accusing her of fucking his Father again and Danja storms away from the privileged little shrivel dick.

Lance follows Danja into the desert and they are both viciously attacked by mutant road warriors and kidnapped. Lance wakes up at home, which is oddly enough where the goons brought him, and they begin to beat him savagely as they demand to know where a disc containing the map of the Los Angeles sewer system is.  After smacking face around the kitchen sink, feeding him a cherry tomato (seriously) and throwing him through  half a dozen book cases, Lance fondles his Father’s family jewels and he feels a stirring! He stops cry and uses all his gymnast powers to flip around the den and throw these greases caked fuck faces out the upstairs window before grabbing a shot bun and blasting it into the air at random while screaming, “I’M STARGROVE! I’M STARGROVE!” Cliff soon arrives, having stashed the super secret disc in his new motorcycle. The two discover where Danja is being held captive, head over, and begin callously, mercilessly , killing people left and right. Sure, they’re all bad guys, but Lance and Cliff show up and just start blowing people to pieces and neither one seems all that affected by the death they are dishing out. Have these two gone on murder sprees in the past? Because for two college boys who have not been established as expert gun wielders or people killers, they sure are efficient and emotionless about it. Lance even shoots several folks who are running away from him. Out hero, ladies and gents!

15142_1

As our heroes rescue Danja, we are treated to a scene of Ragner, at his secret headquarters,  slicing the throat of his henchman with her extra long middle finger nail for not retrieving the sewer disc.  Ragner’s top scientist, played by Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street’s Freddy Krueger) show Ragner the specs for redirected toxic waste into California’s water supply. Looking at the computer screen Ragner remarks on what a beautiful shade of purple the merging of drinking water and toxic waste makes, only thing is, THERE IS NO SHADE OF PURPLE WHATSOEVER ON THE MONITOR! That Ragner, he truly IS a madman…

Meanwhile, Carruthers comes up with a plan to flush Ragner out of hiding, by putting Lanca and Danja is a little cabin together and spying on it to see if Ragner will attack. This plan, of course, leads to one of the highlights of the film. See, Danja REALLY want to pork Lance for saving her bacon (HA!), but Lance is all shy and hesitant and doesn’t feel it’s right. So she strips down to a bikini and begins pouring oil all over herself, her tits, her thighs, all while Lance tries to resist by drinking Perrier and eating apples. What really does it, is when Danja finally whips here chesticles out and begins doing a dance of seduction with a filthy water hose. Lance tosses his apple asides, picks her up, takes to bed and begins plowing her soy bean field. It is truly one of the most erotic and sensual scenes in all of Trash Cinema and it must be seen to be believed. The score, the performances, the editing all perfectly capture what it is to seduce a Stargrove.

nevertooyoung15

Before long, the double crosser within the nameless agency is shockingly revealed as Lance and Danja are captured and taken to Ragner’s secret lair which leads to an action packed finale on top of a water dam as Lance Stargrove and Velvet Von Ragner must now battle face to face in a brutal, knock down , drag out, boob biting, bloody battle where one man or one hermaphrodite must perish, and countless lives hang in the balance. It;s breathtaking and truly one of the finest action film finales I’ve ever witnessed. Seriously, it doesn’t get more bizarre, trashy, or unbelievable than this.

It’s difficult to discern whether Never Too Young To Die is trying to be serious, if it’s a parody of the spy genre, or if it’s trying to be a balance of both, because it is hysterical from start to finish. I get the feeling that the creative minds behind this thing really were trying to pay it straight and create a new franchise. But, what the ended up with was a highly entertaining and wholly unintentionally hysterical bit of Trash Cinema Gold. And, as is so often the case, the more unintentionally funny these films are, the better they play. And this is why Never Too Young to Die is a hidden gem of action trash cinema that must be seen to be believed. Unlike most James Bond Cash-ins, Never Too Young to Die works because it doesn’t really work at all. You can see what they were going for, but they miss the mark by such a wide margin, they just about create a different genre altogether. And if you ask me, that’s a remarkable thing.

ragnar-r03

Honestly,  the film’s MVP is Gene Simmons he gives a truly phenomenal, over the top, hysterical performance as he ads life and genuine menace to a larger than life villain who I would LOVE to have seen more of in further adventures of Lance Stargrove. Every time Gene Simmons is one screen, his performance is so goddamn balls to wall joyously psychotic, you cannot help but laugh and enjoy every moment of his batshit time on screen. I really wish I could have seen the man in more rolls like this, because he steals the whole damn film.

Never Too Young to Die is as goofy, strange and wonderful as they come. A true tour de force of absolute trash cinema. Chock full of violence, ridiculous action, and a damn fine amount of nekkid breasts, I award Never Too Young to Die FIVE out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets! DO NOT MISS!

Stay Trashy!

-Root

09
Oct
16

The WNUF Halloween Special (1987-2013)

wnuf-halloween-special

“This is not some Halloween prank. The grisly evidence of the supernatural is real. – Frank Stewart,  The WNUF Halloween Special

a Primal Root written review

This day and age everything we want is right at our fingers tips. All the information (and misinformation) we need is jut a key stroke and a mouse click away. Movies are on demand, Netflix streams their tiny list of titles right into our living rooms…but not long ago we had to dig. A younger generation will not know of the struggle it once was to locate an obscure title or horror film, a rare bootleg of a strange, grotesque, bizarre television occurrence or to pay exorbitant amounts of cash to purchase a copy of something you’ve heard such tall tales of that your expectations are sky high, only to pop in the VHS tape and realize you’ve totally been had. Sure, it was a kind of dark age of horror cinema geekdom, but for every tape you watched that was absolute dog shit, you would come across some absolute gold. Even some strange, unlabeled tapes from the local thrift store, flea market or Goodwill that left you wondering just what the fuck you witnessed and had your grasping desperately at what was left of your Taco Bell and Mountain Dew fueled teenage sanity.

wnuf-halloween-special-2013-00-04-10

However, in 2013 some innovative and intelligent filmmakers decided to try and recreate that exact same vibe with The WNUF Halloween Special, a feature film intended to look and feel like a lost, legendary 1980’s local news Halloween broadcast that went terribly wrong and has become the stuff of Urban Myth. The film begins with the all too familiar bright blue VHS screen we all recall from the era, a white triangle with the word “PLAY” pop up in the top corner as an audible click is heard and we are transported back to a simpler time, a crappier time perhaps, where audio was spotty, video quality was always poor and everything was tacky and damn proud of it. Of course, those living at the time had no idea and it was embraced in all it’s clunkiness.

Our news anchors at WNUF, dressed as a witch and Dracula respectively, are just as cheesy and goofball as you might expect, only going serious face when the story calls for it, like a story about local tragedy where an asian boy dressed as G.I. Joe when to a Vietnam veterans home and was gunned down. It’s a dark chuckle, but a damn good one, none the less. We are also told repeatedly to stay tuned for The WNUF Halloween Special at 7pm, right after the 6 O’Clock News where the ultimate ham and local news anchor, the mustachioed  Frank Stewart, played by the dead pan and hilarious Paul Fahrenkopf, will host a stunning exploration into the supernatural and unexplained phenomenon occurring within the walls of the infamous Webber House,  the site of ghoulish murders. Frank enlists the help of a famed Husband, Wife and Feline psychic team as well as a local Catholic Priest to accompany him on this journey into the horrifying, the macabre and the unknown…

frankstewart

It’s just as cheesy as it sounds, folks.  But it all works in the movies favor, because for the most part, if you can suspend your disbelief just a little bit, it doesn’t feel staged.  It all feels pretty damn real thank to the very natural, often improvised performances. What also lends a lot of credence to the proceedings are the fantastic fake local commercials that keep interrupting the action after our perilous reporter looks into the camera telling us, “We’ll be back RIGHT AFTER THIS!” There are some truly wonderful ads created for the fictional but very nostalgic local haunts like Tokens arcade and pizza parlor as well as late night horror movie shows to broadcast later in the evening and even political attack ads! It goes a long way to making the whole film feel more like genuine lost relic of a bygone era than your typical found footage genre entry.

Much like The Blair Witch Project over a decade earlier, it began building hype via word of mouth. Once the Halloween Special was completed filmmaker Chris LaMartina started getting the word out by dubbing the film directly to VHS, hand writing labels with Sharpie and dropping it off without anyone noticing at VHS collector conventions for people to stumble upon. I’ve even heard they drove around Baltimore tossing VHS copies of their movie out the car window in the hopes of people picking it up, sliding it not the VCR’s and getting rumors and copies circulating.  I can only imagine how awesome it must have been to be one of the lucky ones who tumbled across one of those original VHS tapes before it became common knowledge that this was all staged and wondering just what you had come across. It must have a been the most wonderful kind of mind fuck.

wnuf_1900monster

Sure, we all know it’s fake now, but I cannot heap enough praise on The WNUF Halloween Special. It has a lot of fun transporting us back the days that folks like us used to look forward to dressing up in costumes, going to Halloween carnivals with our parents and trick or treating around the neighborhood with our friends. The WNUF Halloween Special brings back those feelings of just how special Halloween night was to us as children, sure, it’s still special to us know, but as a child in meant something even more. I for putting so much effort into creating that reality for us, once again, WNUF should be commended.

I don’t want to spoil anything, but by film’s end we see another nightly news broadcast five days after the fact with our original two news anchors discussing with us whether or not what we witnessed on screen during the WNUF Halloween Special was a hoax or not. They mention the disappearance of certain people…then put on their best smiles, forget about that bummer and move on full force into discussing Thanksgiving and Christmas season! Its crasstastic, pitch perfect in it’s dark humor and mocking the attention span of the typical television viewer. But, you know as well as I do, that it’s only one year before Halloween comes round again… The WNUF Halloween Special takes place in 1987…who know what happened in 1988?

I award The WNUF Halloween Special 3 out of 5 Dumpster Nuggets!

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

 

11
Oct
15

Hell Night (1981) Party on, Garth!

POSTER-HELL-NIGHT

a Primal Root written review

“If you weren’t screaming, and we weren’t screaming, then someone is trying to mind fuck us here.” Seth, Hell Night

I’m not going to lie to you, there were a ton of slasher films made in the wake of the independent horror mega hit, Halloween in 1979. They all followed the formula with varying degree of success. Many tried new ground and failed to deliver the goods, others just didn’t understand the appeal and tried for a quick, meaningless cash grab, while others delivered on the gore and tits but left little to be desired in the thrill department.  Being a life long, die hard admirer of the horror genre, I am willing to give anything a go and I am always thrilled to find an example of a genre film that has every excuse in the world to be a lousy phoned in slasher flick actually put forth the effort, rises above the cliched premise, and delivers something entertaining, actually scary and downright fucking solid in execution. 1981’s Hell Night is a perfect example.

Four pledges, Marty (Linda Blair of The Exorcist and Savage Streets fame) Jeff (Peter Barton from Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter), Seth ( Vincent Van Patten from Rock and Roll High School) and Denise (Suki Goodwin…umm…) must go through with the initiation ritual pleasantly referred to as Hell Night which means they all must spend the night in the abandoned Garth Manor, where a dozen years or so earlier Raymond Garth murdered his wife, killed off all their deformed offspring and then committed suicide. The youngest of their spawnage, Andrew referred to as a…Gork (?), was never found and the legend goes that he still lives somewhere within Garth Manor, which contains numerous secret passages and catacombs running below the enormous mansion.

hellnightpledges3

Once the four lovely young people are locked in for the night behind the 12 foot tall wrought iron fence which encircles the property, complete with razor sharp spikes at the top where anyone trying to haul their asses over it “might cut their nuts off”, Fraternity and Sorority leaders begin a campaign of pranks in an attempt to scare the shit out of the pledges all while Seth and Denise get all weird and kinky in an upstairs bedroom playing goofy and endearing surfboard role playing, Marty and Pater spend their time chatting and forming a friendship by the living room fireplace. But it isn’t long before the presence of these young people bring to life a dark, malevolent force in the house one that strikes out at the pranksters first and then slowly, mercilessly, begins hunting down our four pledges.

Hell Night works shockingly well despite what comes across as a pretty by the numbers premise. Stick four attractive young people in a dark, forbidding location, unleash a plot contrivance to search them down and kill them one by one according their sluttiness and casual narcotics usage, leave one girl behind to kill the monster and call it a day. But where Hell Night succeeds flawlessly is actually taking the time to create real, interesting, human characters and not some phony, cynical bullshit axe fodder that you can’t wait to see get their heads ripped from their neck stumps. The young people in Hell Night are genuinely likable, shit, even relatable. And this is a huge fucking rarity for a “dead teenage” flick.

HellNightGallery3

Let’s take a moment to look at Seth, probably my favorite character in the flick. This guy is a muscle bound, blonde, weed smoking surfer guy who, according to himself, only cares about drinking, surfing and screwing. In your run of the mill slasher film, this guy would be written of as dead meat right then in there. Horny jock? That sucker is toast! But in Hell Night, these conventions are kicked to the curb and Seth is proven to be not only quite intelligent, but heroic, loyal, and resourceful. As a long time fan of the slasher genre, I can tell you, Seth’s behavior and acts of heroism are not often seen in the slasher formula. In a way, this makes Seth a kind of wild card, as we so very seldom see this kind of character, we are put of edge not knowing just what might happen to him.

That same sentiment goes for the character of Marty. Linda Blair creates a unique and admirable blue collar badass out of Marty. She grew up on the wrong side of the tracks, comes from a working class family where she grew up fixing cars along with her mechanic Father (PLOT POINT!) and provides an interesting contrast to the other, more privileged, pledges.  There’s even a great extended conversation early in the film about class structure and capitalism between Marty and Jeff. It’s a fantastic moment where two characters are feeling one another out as they get to know one another along with the audience. We’re not talking anything deeply philosophical here, but it far exceeds what the format typically calls for, and that’s worth praising. These characters are real to life, identifiable and ultimately likable. We fear for them and it really does suck when these characters are killed and are no longer in the movie. You actually mourn the loss. See, this effort makes Hell Night far scarier than it’s next of kin.

Hell Night ghost projection

There are no red herrings in Hell Night, only a menacing, blood thirsty antagonist that remains hidden in the shadows for about 95% of the film’s running time. AGAIN, this works in Hell Night‘s favor, as it adds a legitimate feeling of unease and fear as we imagine just what or whom is lurking in the darkness, in those catacombs, racing towards us down the candle lit hallways of Garth Manor.  However, the number of killers at work here is left in question, which also adds to the uneasy tension Hell Night generates. But, when you stop and think about the premise of Hell Night, it does kind of dawn on you that these college kids ARE trespassing on Private Property…I guess The Garth clan has every right to butcher these assholes invading their home. Who are the real bad guys here? 😉 This flick even manages to create some genuine suspense as one young pledge, in a panic, decides to scale the high fence surrounding Garth Manor and must hoist his weight over numerous spikes poised to pierce his tender young flesh. When looking for help, all the young people can find is useless authority and they must rely on themselves, their cunning and resourcefulness to survive Hell Night.

Alright, so when all is said and done, is Hell Night original? Hardly. What it actually is, is a well crafted and performed Spook Show Haunted House. It’s genuinely thrilling, fun, and even pretty goddamn nightmarish at times. Hell Night is a sadly overlooked piece of slasher film history, one I continually wait to see it becoming rediscovered and reaching the cult status it so richly deserves. Boasting some fine performances, nasty, mean, mother fucking monsters, some outstanding cleavage from a still baby faced Linda Blair, a genuinely creepy score and the patience to really create some worthwhile characters, Hell Night is, in this filthy fright flick fan’s opinion, is one of the better slasher efforts to come out of the 1980’s.

WORD OF WARNING: There is NO nudity in Hell Night.

I’m awarding Hell Night FOUR out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets

Stay Trashy, Gang!

-Root

04
Oct
15

Pet Sematary (1989) Love and Agony or What Scares You?

artwork by Matt Ryan Tobin

artwork by Matt Ryan Tobin

a Primal Root review

“The soil of a man’s heart is stonier, Louis. A man grows what he can, and he tends it. ‘Cause what you buy, is what you own. And what you own… always comes home to you.” – Jud Crandall, Pet Sematary 

Recently a friend of mine proposed this question, “What horror film really scares you?” Of course, several gents responded with the standby response, “Horror movies don’t actually scare me,” but I took a moment to ponder this. The first film to come to mind was Mary Lambert’s film adaptation of Stephen King’s Pet Sematary. It’s not the jump scares, or the grisly visages of death returning from the grave to haunt, taunt, and ghoulishly murder the living. Sure, that stuff is down right sickening and terrifying on a visceral level, but for me, the true horror is the idea of losing the ones we love. The moment that still breaks my heart and  has left the deepest scar is the presentation of the sequence where the cute as a button toddler, Gage (Miko Hughes) is run over by a speeding semi outside the family home in full view of his mortified parents and little sister. We hear the agonized screams of Gage’s Father, Louis (Dale Midkiff), as we images of Gage’s all too short life flash before our eyes. In all the horror films I have ever seen, this scares the ever loving shit out of me. This is pain, this is suffering, this is pure horror. It is not played for laughs, it does not rely on special effects, it relies on our empathy and the knowledge that we as viewers understand this grief and dread it everyday. It’s unthinkable, but we always know deep down, that the ones we love can be unceremoniously ripped out of our lives without a moment’s notice. This is primal terror. This is life. Life is horror.

Sorry to go off on a tangent there, but I used to not like Pet Sematary at all. Honestly, it just never appealed to me as a teenager. But one day I decided to give the film another shot and it was like a sucker punch to the gut. I was older now and suddenly Pet Sematary made absolute sense to me and chilled me to the core. Horror can be an exceedingly powerful genre, and at it’s very best, it crushes audience expectations and explores societal taboos. What Pet Sematary explores is the inevitability of death. The journey ends for all of us, sooner or later and we’ve created elaborate myths we call religion around death in order to make some sense out of it. That life goes on somewhere beyond our short time here on Earth that there is an eternity in Heaven or Hell, or that we are reincarnated, or turned into Star Childs, etc.  We will get the answers one day, and I sincerely doubt it is anything any of us will ever expect. I can’t wait to laugh my ass of when it all fades to black and there;s simply nothing just like there was before I was born. But, I won’t be able to. Because I am gone.

pet-semetary41

Pet Sematary plays out like a Greek tragedy. The Creed family moves into their gorgeous new home out in the country or rural Maine. it’s miles from town, but is located near a very busy road where huge semi’s cannonball down it day and night. Also on their property down a wooded path is a Pet Sematary, they are show this by a long time resident and neighbor, Jud Crandall (played by the legendary Fred Gwynne). On Louis’s first day at work as the resident doctor on the local college campus, he treats a jogger, Pascow (Brad Greenquist) who was mowed down by a car and dies on Louise’s operating table. That night, Pascow returns to Louis as a spirit and warns him to not visit that Indian burial ground that lays beyond the Pet Semetary. He warns, “The barrier was not meant to be crossed. The ground is sour.”

When Louis and Rachel’s daughter Ellie’s cat, Chuch, is run over on the highway, Jud leads Louis out beyond the Pet Sematary to bury Church on the Indian land. The next day Church returns, but is now malicious and smells of death. It is not the cool cat the family knew before getting creamed out that means stretch of road.  Louis is given precious little time to ponder what has just happened when a far greater tragedy occurs. While flying a kite on a beautiful sunny day, their youngest child, Gage, wonders onto the highway and is crushed under the tires of a speeding truck.

Stricken with sorrow and regret that he could not save his son in time and Gage is gone forever, Louis considers unearthing his dead son’s body and entering it in the “sour” ground of the Indian burial mound. Over the objections of both Jud and Pascow’s spirit, Louis bury’s little Gage in the soul of the Indian burial ground and it isn’t long before Louis and Jud must face the reckoning of their decisions.

Pet-Sematary-1989D

In the horror genre death is a given. Characters are killed off all the time to the point we actually look forward to seeing how folks are going to meet their maker. Franchises like Friday the 13th, The Omen, Saw and the like revel in the graphic depictions of the splattery deaths of people we don’t know or really care about.  It has become the punchline to a joke for the majority of slasher horror cinema and it’s played for thrills, humor and entertainment. This is perfectly fine, horror can be a damn good time and a way for us to let loose, experience something visceral and know that no one actually got hurt or died. It was all for the nasty fun ride and then we get to go home safe in knowing this shit will probably never, ever, happen to us. Rarely do horror films so well conceived staged and vetted that they ask us to confront death head on. Pet Sematary is takes a meaningful, deep dark look into the nature of death, and in the very place we fear it the most, our immediate family and ask us what we will do on that day we lose someone we cherish.

So, yes, I would say Pet Sematary is the one horror film that truly, honestly fills my heart with dread and scares me like none other. Just like it’s source material, it is a story built upon the hardest, most horrible of human experiences and languishes in them. Grief, anguish, desperation, they’re all accounted for. The supernatural elements are intriguing and there, but at the end of the day, it’s the honesty in the human element of Pet Sematary that gives the film it’s power to disturb and to horrify. It is a film that has always stuck with me. It reminds us to cherish every moment with those we love. Every smile, every laugh each and every spine cracking bear hug, because we all know that one day, we will never touch these people, hear their voice, know their warmth, these souls  so close to us, so dear to our hearts, ever again.  It’s the inevitable tragedy of life. We must learn to except loss. We must grieve and move on. Like the wise, warm and lovable character Jud Crandall says, “May be she’ll learn something about what death really is, which is where the pain stops and the good memories begin. Not the end of life but the end of pain.”

I award Pet Sematary FIVE out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets

Stay Trashy!

-Root




Dumpster Diving

Categories