Posts Tagged ‘1981

29
Jun
17

(NSFW) Firecracker aka: Naked Fist (1981) Explosion of Brutality

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What are firecrackers, exactly? Small packaged explosives, we light the wick, run for our very lives and they explode into brilliant colors sending sparks raining down on a crowd of eye popping onlookers. But that’s it. A booming loud, colorful flash int he pan you won;t remember five minutes after you see it. IF this is the case, the 1981 martial arts meets mafia extravaganza, Firecracker, doesn’t just have a clever name.

Firecracker is, for all intent and purposes, a retread of TNT Jackson, but with the additions of much more bloodshed, a bit more nudity and a white girl in the lead. Firecracker tells the story of a young female martial arts instructor, Susanne Carter (played by a very game a frequently nekkid Jillian Kesner) , who rushes off to the Philippines to track down the person who murdered her little sister and exact bloody, merciless revenge! What she stumbles across is a martial arts nightclub where people place bets on fights to the death while you enjoy five star Philippine cuisine. It is soon revealed that, of course, this business is a smoke screen for something far more insidious than murder… DRUG TRAFFICKING! Susan sets course for vengeance and begins to get close to the inner circle of folks running the operation, and even ends up falling madly in love with the sadistic top fighter and sadistic murderer in the process.

Let me tell you, to be honest, Firecracker is basically a bunch of chitchat between fun and weird fight scenes. If this movie could bottle the energy from the fight sequences and spread it throughout the film, it could have been a far more memorable flick. As it stands, the film is missing a certain form of spark that really make it a memorable piece of Trash Cinema. However, that spark CAN be found in abundance during a handful of truly outrageous, brutal, messy, freakish fight sequences sprinkled throughout the movie as if to make up for all the standing around in front of gorgeous scenery and talking about lame exposition sequences.

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I’m talking about one scene in particular that could be edited together as a short film unto itself. It;s tonal shifts from absurdist comedy, slapstick, slasher gore fest, brutal crime drama and sexploitation picture is so bonkers and changes on a dime, it had my head spinning about twenty seconds in. Susanne is getting chased down the back alleys of the Philippines by two wannabe rapists brandishing switchblades and filthy hardons of violence and shame. Susanne run to avoid conflict onto a construction site guarded by a goofy looking armed guard, Susanne run right past him and leads the two rapists right into friendly, funny looking, minding his own business guards path. I was expecting them to maybe push him, he’d slip on a banana peel, land on a shovel and a bucket of paint would fall on his head. No, these mother fuckers shove him onto a PICK AXE! The pick axe stabs him in the back. and one of the rapists then steps on the guys slowly making the pick axe rip through his back and out of his chest. It’s so callous, bloody and shockingly mean spirited I was literally shaken. I mean, yes, these guys are rapists in waiting, but man, that’s some super cold and nasty shit to do to this guy.

So, we now know without a doubt that these scum bags as vicious and cruel beyond compare and we are now deeply concerned for our young martial arts instructors safety. We then recall that Susanne can hold her own in a fight, which makes it all the more strange that she didn’t lift a finger to try and defend the goofy security guard who was just slowly murdered while she stood and watched… It isn;t long after she witnesses this savagery that Susanne decides to fight back! And as she does so, the killer rapists come at her with scythes and knives, ripping articles of clothing off as they go. Now, is this now supposed to be titillating? Because, you know, the way it is shot, they certainly arent afraid to show close ups of her goods as she reacts in startled, somewhat goofy expressions, but I am still terrified of what these guys are going to do. There;s a very strange duality in this scene between wanting to be sadistic and mean while also being sexy and funny. By the time one of the rapist’s head has been split open by a buzzsaw and Susanne is doing nekkid flying jump kicks through the air, I had my head between my hands as my filthy mind experienced some form of existential crisis. This scene literally haunted me for weeks…

The scene is soon followed by one of the greatest action exploitation CONSENSUAL sex scenes I’ve ever witnessed. Susanne and her prize fighter fuck buddy find themselves alone in his bedroom. He tosses her onto the bed and pulls out a knife and begins slowly, seductively slicing her clothes off. Her blouse, her bra and so fort, until she is stark nekkid. Then it’s her boy toy’s turn as she starts slicing his trousers REAL close to his wangdoodle all while whispering arousing bon mots like, “”I can feel the blood pulsing inside your head.” Woah, baby, this is one weird boner I’ve got standing up here.

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These two scenes and a brawl to the death at the end of the film featuring a pleasant up close and personal eye gouging outing are the wonderful reasons I would recommend Firecracker. It’s not a terrible Trash Cinema flick, but it is a tad bit on the dull side for a considerable amount of it’s run time, with moments of campy fun popping up occasionally.

I’m rating this puppy THREE out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

21
Nov
15

The Funhouse (1981): The Reality of Horror

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a Primal Root written review

“Who will dare to face the challenge of the Funhouse? Who is mad enough to enter that world of darkness? How about you, sir…?” -Funhouse Barker, The Funhouse (1981)

 

Who doesn’t love a night amongst the neon lights, swirling machinery, salt of the earth carnies and deep fried delicacies of the fair? As The Primal Root and lifetime admirer of all things filthy, the North Florida Fair is a true thing of beauty. The aroma of artery clogging treats like cotton candy, loaded cheese fries, funnel cakes and deep fried Oreos co mingle with the unmistakable stench of fresh vomit, Carny B.O. and still warm shit straight from the occupants of the livestock pavilions assholes. It’s the smell of a fine, trashy adventure ready to be had! The sound of screaming patrons as they are spun at incredibly unsafe speeds on rides older than their grandparents and just as rickety as the Bacon Blast they just ate moments ago churns within their stomachs threatening to become a technicolor projectile of half digested nastiness! Because. let’s face it, fun is only bolstered when there’s a constant threat of either being puked on or a fate worse than death. These are simple truths.

Case in point, Tobe Hooper often overlooked 1981 low rent, down and dirty slasher shit kicker, The Funhouse! It’s the kind of film that did fairly well when it came out but never created a sustainable franchise and got forgotten about by the mainstream horror aficionados. Which is a shame, really, because The Funhouse is actually a pretty great slice of the old Trash Cinema Grade B meatloaf.

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The story is about a young, very pretty, VERY healthy young lady named Amy (played by the criminally underrated actress, Elizabeth Berridge). She is set up on a date by her two buddies  Liz (Largo Woodruff) and Richie (Miles Chapin) with a young stud and gas station attendant, Buzz Dawson (Cooper Huckabee). Against the advice of her parents, Amy and her friends attend the traveling fair that’s in town. Things get off to a rocky start as Buz insults Amy’s Father…but he soon amps up the charm and before you know it, he’s wrapping his arm around her, she’s resting her head on his shoulder and discussing letting Buzz ram his prize winning cock through her fresh harvest cherry with Liz while the hang out in an alarmingly grotesque carnival shit house. That’s right, Amy’s a virgin, Buzz is a”pistol” and Amy’s been saving it for someone special. I mean, this guy DID play that strong man carnival game, ring the bell and win her a stuffed panda, so the least she can do is spread her legs and let him ring her bell, too! Right? Right? Well, that’s how it sorta works in slasher flick logic anyway.  And what better place to lose it than by trespassing into the carnival’s FUNHOUSE and staying the night in there? Honestly, it is kind of a romantic notion to lose one’s virginity in there. Imagine, those things are NEVER cleaned so the drippings of your busted cherry will be all over The Funhouse floor FOREVER! So, one day when the carnival comes to town you can share a ride with the grand kids, point to an old brown stain on the floor and say “That’s where I treated a distant memory named “Buzz” to my unspoiled cooter! No, not Buzz Aldrin. This guy worked a gas pump…” But, I digress.

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Before you can say,  “dead whore”, the kids witness the creepy Funhouse attendant killing a fortune teller by the name of Madame Zena (Oscar nominated actress and Andy Warhol Factory regular, Sylvia Miles) who also doesn’t mind fucking for money on the side. See, Madame Zena simply touches the guy’s dick and he shoots his wad. She keeps the money, says a deal’s a  deal, but the Carny who just blew his load doesn’t see it this way. He yanks her tits out and strangles/electrocutes her to death. It;s a pretty horrifying/awesome scene.  The Carny is soon joined by his Father affectionately known as Funhouse Barker (Kevin Conway, who happens to play all the other Carnival Barkers in the film) and it is revealed that his son is hardly human at all, and is in fact, some kind of red eyed, sharp clawed, protruding fanged, drooling, screeching albino mutant deformity. It’s a pretty amazing reveal and one that puts a huge shit eating grin on my face every time. As Father and son discuss their plan for covering up Madame Zena’s murder we soon discover that this is far from the first time The Funhouse Barker has had to cover for his son’s murderous ways. In fact, it is even mentioned that his son killed two little Girl Scouts once. Yeah, this twosome is pretty vile. There are several shots in the move that linger on what a general ride goer at The Funhouse would consider fake rotten corpse props hanging from the walls of the ride. But the shots last for quite a while after we are made aware of this Father and Son’s past and you start to wonder how many of those crumbling dead bodies might actually be the real thing?

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Father and son decide they will ditch Madame Zena’s body in the woods and then blame her murder on “The Locals.”  As if Columbo couldn’t figure this shit out…ANYHOO, Richie drops his lighter, the Gruesome Twosome get wise to the fact that there are witnesses to the murder and the hunt is on!

The Funhouse is in many way a horror movie about horror movies. At the film’s very beginning, as we are treated to a lovely glimpse at Amy’s beautiful boobs, there are blatant and calculated homages to our horror film heritage represented by blatantly by  John Carpenter’s Halloween in the form of that film’s killer POV shots, Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho as Amy showers and is menaced by an unknown assailant with a knife. As a viewer, we are well aware of all these tropes. We’ve seen them and we know where it is going. The young, naked, nubile woman in the shower is going to get sliced and diced. That’s how these things work. HOWEVER, in The Funhouse, the sense of menace is soon turned upside down as the masked killer is revealed to be Amy’s little brother Joey pulling a prank and scaring the shit out of his big sis. This is meant to represent the horror film experience. Something scary is seen, but it is at the end of the day, harmless. What is frightening and thrilling on the screen isn’t going to actually harm us. James Whale’s The Bride of Frankenstein is repeatedly mentioned in one form or another. In Joey’s room there is a poster of Frankenstein’s Monster on this wall above his bed, Amy and Joey’s parent’s are seen watching Bride of Frankenstein on cable TV safe in their living room and even The Killer Carny Creature wears a Frankenstein mask through most of the film to cover his terrifying true appearance. The fictional face of a homogenized, harmless, well loved fictional monster is used to cover up the real terror just under the thin layer of latex.  It is a theme throughout The Funhouse. The kids go on carnival rides, scream are thrilled and have a blast. The ride stops and they step off unscathed. They witness a magician, Marco the Magnificent (played by legendary character actor and The Phantom of the Paradise himself, William Finley) drive a stake into a young girl’s heart. She spews up blood as she screams in agony. The crowd is horrified! But then the lights come up and the young girl is shown to be unharmed, and in fact, Marco’s lovely daughter and assistance. It was all an illusion, a trick, and order is restored. Again and again, the teens face things that outside the carnival would be truly horrendous, but here, it’s all an illusion. They are safe.

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That is, until they witness reality. In one of my favorite sequences in The Funhouse, the teens have snuck into The Funhouse to stay the night. The camera cranes back to show the lights of the traveling carnival shutting off, the rides shutting down, and inside The Funhouse the animatronic figures that populate it wind down to a halt. The notion of being alone, in the dark with all these creepy figures is the stuff of nightmares and is terrifying to contemplate. The camera steadily, slowly pulls back from the traveling carnival as the crowds leave pour out, the rides stop, and the lights shut down. The camera pulls all the way out to the parking lot. The veneer of amusement and fun are now gone and we are alone. Trapped in the dark. And evil is lurking.  Just like the horror film itself. You watch it, you have fun at the thrill of make believe monsters and mayhem. But when the movie is over, the credits roll and you go home…the real world awaits.

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I fucking adore The Funhouse. No other movie captures the sleazy, greasy nastiness of the traveling carnival quite like it. Hooper populates the movie with some great, memorable, believable characters…and some that are a bit cartoonish and over the top, but it all plays into the carnival atmosphere and it pays off exceptionally well. Sure, on the surface it looks just like another one of the popular dead teenager movies that came down the conveyer belt of the 1980’s, replete with plenty of death, destruction and nudity, but if you just pull back that mask, if you dare to look beneath the surface, The Funhouse is a much more thoughtful, much more intelligent horror film than you initially thought.

I award Tobe Hooper’s The Funhouse 4 1/2 out of 5 Dumpster Nuggets. Taking a trip through The Funhouse is well worth it, Gang.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

11
Oct
15

Hell Night (1981) Party on, Garth!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

26
Jan
14

Ms. 45 (1981): Vengeance be a Lady or Bullets Over Ballsack

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a Primal Root written review

In the late 70’s and early 80’s horror and exploitation cinema saw a rise in the popularity of the “rape/revenge” sub-genre. In a film of this nature, a woman or man is raped and violated followed by the person violated, or someone close to them, going on a roaring rampage of blood soaked revenge against those who have so violently attacked them or those they love.  Movies like “I Spit on your Grave”,  “Deliverance”, “Last House on the Left”, “Straw Dogs” and countless others were all part of this trend towards vigilante revenge fantasy films, where innocence is raped and the victim must seek their vengeance.  My own idea why this sort of sub-genre sprung up and became so popular were the crime statistics of the time and the general unease in society that the system, and those sworn to protect us, weren’t up to the task and that the only way for us to survive was to take matters into our own hands. The rape/revenge film taps into that deep, dark, fantasy where the victim gets the last laugh against the low lives who savaged them.  In most cases there is a clear line between good and evil and the vengeance is always righteous and well justified in the viewers eye. This evil redneck sodomized this young woman for an hour, so she cuts his dick off and lets him bleed to death in her lovely Airbnb log cabin rentals art deco bathroom. You get to cheer on these folks as they fight fire with fire and watch with glee as the wicked are punished.  It’s a very base, primal formula and story.

Enter Abel Ferrara’s 1981 “Ms. 45″ (aka: Angel of Vengeance”), the story of Thana, a young, mute seamstress working for an up and coming fashion designer and living in New York City where there just so happens to be a constant single file line of sleazeballs and scum bags garnishing the streets, ogling women, and serenading them with wolf whistles and cat calls as they walk by. We get to experience this uncomfortable, sexist deluge through the female POV came of those unlucky ladies having to ignore and endure this harassment and MAN is it effective.  As Thana makes her way home from work she is accosted and raped at gun point in broad daylight down an alleyway by a man in a Halloween mask. Before departing, the man threatens that he’ll be back before booking it off into the sunset and surely haunting Thana’s every waking moment for the rest of her life. And in one terrifying moment, actually does appear as a nightmarish phantom hallucination to Thana as she tries to undress and take a shower after the attack.

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Thana, in shock, makes her way back to her apartment only to find a burglar has broken in and is waiting for her. Again, she is raped at gunpoint…but this time she strikes back and bashes her assailant’s skull in with an iron. As she begins disposing of attackers dead body, which she has sawed into several pieces and begun depositing all over New York City wrapped in shopping bags, she’s chased on foot by a young man that has mistaken one of these bags as something she accidentally dropped and is trying to give back to her. For his trouble, Thana shoots this poor sucker in the face.

Before you know it, Thana is a woman on a mission. As she gains confidence and a thirst for vengeance she transforms from a mousy young woman to a deadly black widow. Dressing more provocatively, wearing makeup and pulling her hair back, Thana takes to the night time streets of New York to murder as many abusive, rapey, evil men as she can find. She ends up blowing away a pimp seen beating a hooker, a gang of would be rapists and a man in a limousine who tries to offer her cash for sex. It’s a blast watching Thana take out these sleazy, violent cocksmiths. One can clearly see how Thana perceives these men as threats  and you cannot help but cheer as she delivers hot, blood spattering, genital mutilating vengeance from the barrel of her gun. I must admit a certain feeling of satisfaction witnessing this carnage.

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But “Ms. 45”  is a more complex film than your typical black and white, Good vs. Evil rape/revenge film.  “Ms.45” exists in a more realistic world painted in varying shades of grey.  Thana pursues the advances of a creepy, aggressive photographer. The man comes on to her in a restaurant, follows her down the sidewalk yapping her ear off until she agrees to go to his studio. Once there, she guns this guy down in cold blood. The man was obviously a creeper, treated Thana as subhuman, another conquest to stick his teeny weenie in, but did the slimy bastard deserve to die? He never actually succeeded in harming Thana or actually proved he had any intention to.  He was gross, nasty and aggressive…but he never actually hurt anyone during his time on screen.  As a viewer, I sure as shit didn’t want to spend any time with this guy, but did he earn the bullet riddled dose of death he received?

For Thana, it steadily grows from a quest for vengeance to a gender specific killing spree as she begins targeting anyone with the offending genitals. she stalks down a young, Asian man who she eyed making out with his girlfriend. The man was just kissing the woman he is attracted to and it’s completely mutual! No force, no rape, but Thana no longer seems capable of  discerning what is right or wrong, healthy or unhealthy, and in her bloody quest for revenge has found herself becoming a monster herself.

“Ms. 45” reaches it’s climax at her fashion designer bosses’ Halloween party. Thana dresses up as a nun, attends the party as her bosses’ date, and packs some heat below her garter. In a chilling, horrifying, slow motion finale Thana opens fire on every man at the Halloween party. The crowd screams, begins panicking and trying to escape the barrage of gun fire.  This woman we were once rooting for has blurred the line so completely between good and evil that she is willing to kill any man at all because she sees every man as a threat. It isn’t until a friend of Thana’s,  one of her female co-workers, grabs a butcher knife, sneaks up behind Thana holding the blade at crotch level, making the phallic symbolism unmistakable, and then plunges it into Thana’s back, that the killing finally stops. Thana turns, her eyes widen in shock as she realizes it was a fellow woman who has killed her, sliding the phallic knife into her. The mute Thana then whispers her one and only line, her dying word, “sister” and falls to the ground dead.

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Abel Farrara created one of the most unique, disturbing and thought provoking films in this sub-genre of horror, and incidentally, one of the more interesting of the 1980’s. The film seeks to bring the idea of blind vengeance into the discussion of rape and revenge. When does  revenge simply start becoming mindless killing? Is it ever justified? When does the hero become the villain? These are questions few films within this sub-genre take the time to ask . In “Ms. 45” we are given plenty of time and opportunity to meditate on just what has happened to Thana, where Thana finds herself at the end of the movie, and the mechanics of our own reaction to the steps in her journey from victim, to vigilante to victimizer.  This very well might be why “Ms. 45” is so effective, so chilling and so infinitely open for debate and discussion.

Thana is a voiceless woman in a city overrun with outspoken, sexually aggressive men. Once irrevocably turned into a victim she finds an artificial voice in violence, in the firing of her gun and the killing of others. She cannot scream for anyone to stop, but her gun has the power to scream and stop her tormentors.  It isn’t until the end, when she is stabbed to death by another woman, that she finds her true voice, and in my opinion, opens her eyes to the horror of what she has begun. She is no longer an angel of vengeance but a demon of destruction. By the evil of others, she herself, has become an evil doer.

Of course, this is just The Primal Root’s take on the movie. I would love for you to check it out sometime and share your thoughts on the “Ms. 45” and just what you took away from this flick.

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Also, let me just say Zoë Tamerlis Lund, who played Thana, is remarkable. with only one line of dialogue in the course of the film, Zoë manages to make Thana into a fully fleshed out,  believable, human character.  Zoë was one remarkable, creative talent and a natural beauty with screen presence to spare. She even went on to co-write Abel Ferrara’s notorious “Bad Lieutenant” starring Harvey Keitel.   Sadly, Zoë was a long time heroin addict and died of drug related heart failure in 1999. she was 37 years old.  For more on Zoë I highly recommend http://www.zoelund.com/ which is run by Robert Lund.

I forgot to mention, there is also a subplot featuring Thana’s obnoxious landlady and her yapping mutt. At one point Thana takes her land ladies’ dog for a walk intent on killing it. She ties the dog to a pole, and draws her gun ofn the cornered mutt. We never see Thana kill the pooch but it’s assumed that she did only to have the poor little guy return home right before the credits roll. It’s an interesting note to end the movie on, that Thana so easily can kill a man, ANY man, before she could kill a dog.

Certainly not a feel good movie, and surely as shit, it ain’t for everyone, “Ms. 45” is an excellent piece of exploitation, horror, Trash Cinema. It’s well worth checking out and deserving of it’s Cult Classic status.  I’m giving “Ms. 45” FIVE out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

02
Jul
13

The Burning (1981): Reaping the Summer’s Teeny-Bopper Harvest

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a Primal Root written review

Summer Camp is a staple of the American experience. Every kid has either attended summer camp or are at least aware of it’s traditions.  Kids corralled into mildewed cabins, dinners in the mess hall, swimming, canoeing, hiking sticky fingers, awkward hand jobs and of course, huddling around the camp fire to roast marshmallows and tell ghost stories. Among these tales there are few more prolific than that of Cropsy, the maniac that haunts just about every east coast summer camp from Key West, Florida to Bangor, Maine. Seems every camp is stalked by a groundskeeper who was kind of a grumpy bastard before some asshole camp counselors tried to pull a deeply mean spirited prank and ended burning the poor fellow alive and transforming him into something much worse. A blood thirsty, disfigured, vengeance seeking maniac now happy to hack to pieces any camper he happens to lay eyes on.  Sure, it was probably just a story to keep kids from sneaking out of the cabin at night to go one panty raids and smoke reefer, but the urban legend still had that kernel of believability that made you think twice before traipsing off into the woods with your buddies.

I know what you’re thinking, ” ‘The Burning’, huh,  sounds like a horror films based around the debilitating pain of a urinary tract infection.” An educated guess, to be sure, but  in fact it is a cash in on the timeless Cropsy camp fire tale brought  to life as a gore drenched, nudity filled, slasher film  that came out right on the heels of  ‘Friday the 13th’ which had been released the previous year, thus establishing the American Summer Camp as the premiere location for teenage debauchery met with eventual brutal dismemberment.

I'm fine.

I’m fine.

The inciting incident remains the same, jerk kids, bad prank,  immolated groundskeeper, but ‘The Burning’ takes the bold step of giving us the straight story. Just what happened next after Cropsey was incinerated and ran blazing like the Human Torch into Camp Blackfoot’s adjoining river? Well, instead of vanishing into the woods, screaming threats of how he will have his revenge, he is sent to a burn unit at the local hospital where the orderleys, nurses and doctors apparently dare one another to go look at the hideously burned Cropsey lying down helpless within his oxygen tent in the intensive care ward.  But one day, Cropsy has found he’s had enough of this stupid shit, (seriously, is this a hospital or a frat house?) and scares the ever loving shit out of a nurse by grabbing the the guy’s arm and squeezing the ever loving shit out of it. This proves three things: 1) Burn victim’s skin often resemble a well worn gob of Hubba-Bubba Bubble Gum that’s been stuck to the sole of your sneaker for a day or two and 2) Cropsy is one strong and determined mother fucking mother fucker. and 3) The producers must have realized they made a movie with more crackers in it than Nabisco so they may as well film a scene featuring a black actor.

This is Cropsy for Lubriderm...

This is Cropsy for Lubriderm…

Five years later Cropsy’s is told the skin grafts just aren’t taking and that he needs to hit the streets and find some work ’cause there’s nothing else the hospital can do for him. First things first, Crops goes out, gets himself a prostitute who looks suspiciously like a haggard middle school English teacher, and promptly stabs her to death with a pair of scissors while pushing her out of her bedroom window. However, Cropsy doesn’t allow the woman’s savagely penetrated, still warm corpse go sailing out the window,  he actually pulls her back into her newly vacant apartment because, after all, Cropsy is a gentleman.

No one smolders like that Jason Alexander.! Watch out, ladies...

No one smolders like that Jason Alexander.! Watch out, ladies…

But before you can say ‘What the fuck did that murder have to do with anything?” we are whisked away to Camp Stonewater for a braless/pants optional all female softball game, and let me tell you, it is spectacular! We are treated to Sally (Carrick Glenn) running in slow motion, braless in a tight yellow shirt with pronounced erect nipples and then we join teenage dirt bag Eddy (Ned Eisenberg) and the shockingly studly goofball, Dave (played by Jason Alexander of Seinfeld fame, and his full head of hair!) as they stare at a scantly clad female butt covering one of the bases. What? This ass has a human face? *please, please, please, sense the sarcasm* Yes it does! It belongs to Karen (Carolyn Houlihan). the rail thin, dark haired camp counselor with a chin to rival Bruce Campbell’s. So, these four are established. The ladies have ample female anatomy intact and have all motor functions at their disposal and the fellas are sex crazed drool cups.  Feel dirty yet? Eh, you probably shouldn’t. These “kids” are all in their twenties.

The Burning and The Case Against Bras

The Burning and The Case Against Bras

And guess who is just chilling out in the forest surrounding the non existent softball field? WHY IT’S OUR CROPSY! Just hanging out with a giant pair of gardening sheers  and stalking blossoming young campers who happen to wonder off looking for foul balls.  Speaking of foul balls, we are soon introduced to the film’s central loser, Alfred (Brian Packer), a man who sweats constantly, runs like an orangutang and is introduced to us by way of peeping on the lovely young Sally as she takes a shower framed from a low medium angle to be sure and capture he boobs in the shot. Oh yes, this is trash cinema at it’s finest, folks!

Burning 22

Calvin Klein’s Objectification: For Women

Anyhoo, Albert complains about…well, pretty much everything and proves to be one of the most unlikable and annoying characters in slasher cinema history. Hell, or in ALL of cinema history, for that matter.  And this kid ends up being our final guy! We are asked to root for this mouth breathing, sweat caked, whiner after many of his infinitely more likable peers have been hacked, chopped, snipped and stabbed into B-movie oblivion! sometimes the movie life’s just not fair.

Also in the victim pool is the muscle heavy, light on brains Cro-Magnun, Glazier who talks like one of Tony’s boys from The Sopranos, and is constantly stalking Sally in the hopes of blowing his dick snot cannon into her love canyon. Watching them interact is painfully awkward and somewhat honest. We’ve all known guys like this, we’ve seen them try to operate on girls like Sally who are starved for attention but just not ready to be pawed and groped by a a sweaty, brain dead muscle headed guy in a sleeveless sweater and nothing to lose.

The name's Glazer, as in Glaze Her Doughnut! Get it? High five, bro!

The name’s Glazer, as in Glaze Her Doughnut! Get it? High five, bro!

Then there are our two stoic and heroic camp counselors, Todd (Brian Mathews) and Michelle (Leah Ayers) who lead a pack of older campers on a camping trip to Devil’s Island and to their deaths. Todd and Michelle and impossibly attractive people who look every bit like a live action version of Backwoods Survival Barbie and Ken as they run to and fro, getting covered in dirt and blood (some theirs, some others) and never looking any worse for wear. Even at the grimiest, I still wouldn’t mind seeing them naked. Seriously, these are some good looking people. Hell, Todd was on The Young and the Restless for, what two years? He’s basically a living, breathing, mannequin.

At the half way point of the film, ‘The Burning’ brings out it’s big guns in the sequence the film is best known for,. That’s right, we’re talking raft red stuff redecoration. As a small group of campers try to make their way back to the main camp from Devil’s Island on a make shift raft, they spot one of their lost chaos and paddle over to reclaim. However, once they get over to the vessel, Cropsy stands straight up in the canoe, shears held high over his head and proceeds to kill every single person on the raft, cutting off limbs, impaling folks, and splitting skulls open. It;s quick scene, but pretty damn memorable. If not just for the carnage, certainly for Cropsy’s display of supernatural balance. I defy anyone to stand straight up in a canoe with your hands above your head while clutching giant garden shears, kill a half dozen children, and NOT fall out of that damn canoe. It just strikes me as highly unlikely. Let’s just say, I can’t see Jason Voorhees pulling off the same feat.

Shears looking at you, kids!

Shears looking at you, kids!

At first glance ‘TheBurning’ looks to be a typical slasher movie carbon copy, but upon closer inspection and when given half a chance, ‘The Burning’ features several aspects that set it apart from it’s contemporary. For one, the cast of actors in this thing are actually pretty damn good at their jobs portraying young, goofy teenagers with good times and sex on their brains. Many of these actors went on to have pretty impressive careers in the entertainment industry, while others, vanished into B-movie oblivion. Not only is everyone pretty damn convincing in their roles,  many of the characters are actually *gasp* likeable! Many of these kids come off as cool, funny, reasonable folks. Sure, there are some jerks in the bunch, but that’s to be expected. There’s a pretty big batch of normal, everyday geeky kids that endear themselves to audience to the point you feel almost bad watching them get their faces scissored open and their fingers sheered off.

Fingering on Devil's Island can be MURDER!

Fingering on Devil’s Island can be MURDER!

Also, the portrayal of sex and romantic relationships are portrayed unlike your usual slasher film. you watch any Friday the 13th film and usual sex scene shows teenagers fucking and it’s the greatest thing ever. The guy and gal bump them uglies together and it’s ecstasy!  Wailing and riding and running their hands through their hair and cumming simultaneously and both get chopped into coleslaw by a masked maniac completely satisfied.  ‘The Burning’ takes this trope and gives it a fresh, nasty does of typical teenage sex session reality.  One couples skinny dip ends with the fella telling her to “get the fuck out of his face” when she refuses to let his tadpole ride her river rapids and yet another couple actually go sleeping bag poking and it’s among the most awkward sex scenes I’ve ever sat through. The fella is on top, groaning and lurching with frustration as the young woman stares upwards with pain and discomfort in her eyes before the guy cums super quickly and goes limp. The cherry on the top of this disappointment sundae? She asks, “Is that it?”  Yeah, not the most glorious sex scene ever films. However, we do get to witness our senior camp counselors, Todd and Michelle as they court one another, stroll through the woods, talk, embrace, and simply enjoy one another’s company which looks to be far more rewarding than either of the other full representations of sex featured in ‘The Burning’.  After years of having my mind shaped by the stereotypical glamorous cinematic sex scene, watching it portrayed this way was probably the most shocking and disturbing aspect of the entire damn movie.

"Let's go talk about our superior relationship."

“Let’s go talk about our superior relationship.”

But i do have one major gripe.  For me, the film is basically botched by a fucking horrendously hacked together ending that has to be scene to be believed. It looks like the filmmakers just didn’t have enough coverage for the ending so they tried in vain the cut something together that looked right. Unfortunately, it’s a fiasco. Probably the most painful moment is when Todd is supposed to stumble upon the corpse of one of his friends and fellow campers. The body is actually a still frame from earlier in the film and is cropped out and apparently floating in space when he finds her and gasps. She is supposed to be in a closet but you can actually make out tree branches and leaves around her from the still frame shot that they couldn’t crop out.  and this is just the tip of the hack job iceberg. It’s got to be seen to be believed. This ending makes the filmmakers look totally inept and it’s a little disheartening.  It’s kind of sad too, because otherwise it’s a pretty solid little summer slasher flick.

Let's play "Roast the Marshmallow", cracker!

Let’s play “Roast the Marshmallow”, cracker!

‘The Burning’ is a damn good entry in the summer camp slasher sweepstakes and one that deserves a bit more notoriety than it gets. coming out so soon after ‘Friday the 13th’ got the poor flick labeled as a cash-in on that film’s success even as the Weinstein Brothers insist that they wrote ‘The Burning’ a couple years before ‘Friday the 13th’ was released.  But now, what does it matter. ‘The Burning’ delivers the goods when it comes to the Blood, Breasts and Beasts and is a highly entertaining and thoroughly enjoyable viewing experience if you’re into trashy slasher flicks. Despite it’s flaws, ‘The Burning’ is well worth checking out.

Three and a Half out of Five Dumpster Nuggets.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

31
Dec
12

Rotten Reviews Episode 27: Home Sweet Home

Home-Sweet-Home-Front

Hey Gang!

It’s your old pal, The Primal Root, and to celebrate the holiday season I’ve decided to throw a Trashmas New Year’s Bash over at my pad and everyone is invited! That includes YOU! But beforehand we’re checking out an all time favorite Trash Cinema Slasher film  from 1981 called ‘Home Sweet Home’. It’s supposedly a holiday themed horror movie, but a turkey dinner does not a holiday make, gang. In fact no one even mentions what holiday it is! From what I understand I think it’s supposed to be Thanksgiving?

I digress, get prepared for feral children, satanic electric guitar playing magical Jewish mimes, Body by Jake, body builder body glaze, sex with your pants on, spanish racial sterotypes, bribing cops with “bazooms”, roid rage, flattened grannies,  disapearing balls, hostage negotiations, the missing peas and so much more! It’s The Primal Root’s Rotten Reviews Episode 27: Home Sweet Home! Gather round and share it with those you love.

Thank you for all your support and for spreading the word! See you in 2013!

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

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