Posts Tagged ‘1989

26
May
18

Memorial Valley Massacre (1989): Welcome to the Jungle

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a Primal Root written review

Ah, Memorial Day weekend! The unofficial kickoff to the summer season when the nuclear family packs up in their camper and/or station wagon and heads out to the sticks to get back to and commune with Mother Nature all while filling their guts with grilled hotdogs, dozens of beers and leaving plenty of refuse and carnage in their wake sure to leave a nice, shitty footprint on the ever cracking skull of the fragile ecosystem you just pissed all over during your long weekend.

If ANYTHING I feel like this is the theme Memorial Valley Massacre, the straight to video 1989 slasher flick, nails right on the everlovin’ head. Mankind’s rape and pillaging of Mother Nature. Before the Massacre part even begins we are introduced to real estate developer and tycoon, Allen Sangster played by the late, great Cameron Mitchel of Raw Force and Space Mutiny notoriety. And, yes, his last name is one letter away from “Gangster” and he is basically, as written and portrayed, a carbon copy of our current U.S. President, Donald Trump. The film begin with him inspecting his recent development, Memorial Valley Park, which should be opening RIGHT THEN as he is inspecting it. He soon learns that there are dead dogs bobbing in the park’s water supply, there’s no electricity at all in the park,  the restroom facilities aren’t functional and a contractor was crushed in an accident earlier in the day.

dead dog

As the impressive amount of angry, impatient campers gather at the gate to the park, Allen Sangster, who is only in it for the possibility of further developing the land with a shopping mall, high scale condominiums, and a sporting arena, says “fuck it” and opens up the park, and before departing for the rest of the movie, leaves only three dip shits running the place; his son David (Mark Mears) who has a Masters PHD in survivalism (…huh?), Deke Brown (Jimmy Justice) taking custodial duties *snicker*, also exposition duties as well as the wise, old, sage. To be honest, he’s by far and away my favorite character int he movie and probably the most charismatic performance next to the girl who does a strip tease later on in the flick. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Last but certainly not least is the silver fox drunkard, Vietnam Veteran, expert tracker turned Forest Ranger who once lost his son in the woods due to some convoluted story about a ransom exchange gone wrong when his kid was kidnapped. This older hardass and constant asshole is George Webster (John “Not That One” Kerry), the man who can knock back two entire bottles of Jack Daniels in about 35 seconds flat and still function enough to let everyone around him perish and blame it one everyone else before passing out on the front porch of his cabin/general store.

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Everyone and their Grandmother seems to have come out for this grand opening of Memorial Valley Park! We have a what appears to be a literal cast of thousands, and they all have speaking rolls and are such a strange mixture of typical slasher movie jerks, you’re left wondering, once everyone is introduced, just who are going to be the heroes in this thing and who is just hear to be torn into meaty chunks?  There’s a six piece biker gang straight of Friday the 13th part III, an annoying, overweight and hugely moronic family straight out of Halloween II: Season the Witch, a hard drinking, heavy smoking retired Army General who has a wife who makes him sandwiches and has a massive set of knockers, but my favorite is the trio of teens who show up, two guys and girl, who are unfathomably rude to people and both guys are in constant competition to see who is going to get the pleasure of sharing a moist and stinky sleeping bag with their female companion during the long weekend. She’s well aware of the situation, they even discuss it, and it’s a way out in the open character dynamic I’ve not come across very often in these kind of dumb as rocks slasher films.  OH, I nearly forgot, there’s also a gorgeous, incredibly well fit, super under dressed single woman there camping by herself who refuses help from the studly PHD Survivalist, David, when offer to help her pitch a tent. “Just let me know if you need anything…ANYTHING.” he says before he calls off his dogs and stops bugging the shit out of her when she has stressed multiple times that she is a strong, independent woman who pitches tents with NO MAN! Yeah, you can guess where this is going…

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Turns out there’s a twenty something wild man roaming Memorial Valley, dropping dead dogs into water tanks, dozens of snakes onto camper’s picnic tables, and freaking out over every noise he hears. Early on it is established that this young gymnastic cave dweller credited as Hermit and played by John Caso (in what would be his first and final cinematic appearance) is a passive lover of nature and all living things, preferring to eat berries he collects from the bountiful offerings of the shrubbery found in Monument Valley and sharing them with the cute mice that infest his cave. All this changes when he encounters a three wheeling, thieving, overweight kid, who he chases for about ten minutes before clothes lining him to the terra firmer. The caveman honestly doesn’t mean this big baby any harm, but the kid pulls out a hunting knife and slashes Hermit in the face as the lightning and thunder strike and the mid afternoon sun disappears instantly plunging them into darkness as Hermit takes the knife happy teenager and snaps his neck like a little bitty twig. From here…Hermit never looks back and begins killing every camper he encounters.

wild man

We are treated to a a social that takes place in the pouring rain between all the characters that have dialog. Some ghost stories are told, exposition is dropped, bikers act like insecure assholes, and that one cute chick with the two teenage boys lusting for her love tunnel, decides to rush into the monsoon and begin gyrating in the downpour and pretty much going home with the blue ribbon in her one woman wet t-shirt contest. But, the excitement is over before it really begins  and everyone disperses to enjoy the torrential downpour in their little tribes.

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David ends up taking the woman who gave him the cold shoulder back to her tent. He name is Cheryl and they end up stripping nekkid for one another in order to stay warm before David, the PHD in Survivalism, remember, suggests the should generate body heat together in order to stay warm. This smooth operator bites her towel off and starts kissing he heaving bosom like his life is depending on it. Meanwhile, the three teens are visited by ab absolutely adorable grizzly bear who pokes his head through their tent interrupting their argument about their female companion being a “cock teasing bitch.” The bear departs as quickly as he arrives, the teens peek their head out and see the bloodied carcass of the fat boy and scream their heads off, interrupting the attractive survivalist boinking going on in the tent next door.

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The next morning, upon the news that there is a vicious animal stalking the woods, hungry for stringy human flesh, all the campers without speaking parts decide to pack it up and head home leaving us with our rag tag group of misfits who the rangers give away guns and ammunition too like they’re handing out Halloween candy and send them out into the woods to kill whatever animal is causing this carnage in Memorial Valley Park! It doesn’t take long before bikers, horn dogs and rangers begin falling into pits of spikes, being fully penetrated with spears and throw IN to pits of spikes, and chopped into pieces with an axe as our little Hermit decides EVERYONE MUST PERISH this Memorial Day Weekend! Which all leads to final standoff with, of course, his Father, George, who lost him in the botched ransom drop of 17 years ago. The drunken tracker must now face off agains his lost son who raised himself in the wild and had no access to proper dental care and was educated int he school of hard knocks. With Memorial Valley already bathed in blood, will this mark the end of the carnage?

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Memorial Valley Massacre is, yes, very bad, very basic, and has that well worn fell of a film that stuck together a bunch of concepts and plot points from previous successful horror films and made on of their own. Let us count the ways, The Hills Have Eyes, Friday the 13th, Predator, etc. It’s got a bit of everything thrown in, but at least they’re lifting from some great source material. As I watched Memorial Valley Massacre with my wife Bootsie Kidd, she mentioned despite it’s flaws, it does have a lot of charm. And I have to agree with her. That charm, is Memorial Valley Massacre’s saving grace. The screenplay has enough witty humor to prop the material up on, the performances are all game, solid and when not totally believable, are otherwise, hilarious as are many of the gags that highlight the often thoughtless way we interact with the natural world. It even has one of those classic, hysterical, “Do you smell gas?” moments right before some characters are transformed into post toasties! It’s bargain basement level inept, but it’s content is undoubtably entertaining in the Trash Cinema tradition. And sometimes, man, that is good enough.

I award Memorial Valley Massacre THREE out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets.

Be safe out there, Gang, and have a great Memorial Day Weekend!

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

 

 

 

28
Sep
14

Little Monsters & The Return of the Living Dead: A Trash Cinema Collective Double Feature!

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WHO: The Trash Cinema Collective‘s The Primal Root
WHAT: DOUBLE FEATURE! Little Monsters (1989) and The Return of the Living Dead (1985)
WHEN: Saturday, October 4th starting at 9pm
WHERE: Bird’s Aphrodisiac Oyster Shack
WHY: Because it’s October, we’re getting in the Halloween spirit, we’re keeping Tallahassee Trashy, and because we love you.

As Always, NO COVER!

Hey Gang, The Primal Root here, and I am thrilled to be hosting a Trashy Halloween inspired double bill featuring two of my all time favorites! We’ll be starting the evening off with the Fred Savage, Howie Mandel children’s coming of age whimsical horror comedy from 1989, “Little Monsters” and following it up with the nihilistic, hysterical, punk rock brain muncher, 1985’s “The Return of the Living Dead!”

It will be a night of unadulterated ghoulishly Trashy pleasures as we take a trip down memory lane with two horror classics just in time for Halloween Season!

So, come on out and join your friends from The Trash Cinema Collective at Bird’s Aphrodisiac Oyster Shack Saturday October 4th, grab a pitcher of your favorite ice cold beer, chow down on a juicy, beautiful burger and brace yourself for Monsters! Reanimated corpses! Chemical spills! Pee drinking! Cat food scarfing! Lawn Dart Throwing! Nekkid Tombstone Dancing! Rabid Weasels! Subtle Nazi references! Prosthetic female crotches (referred to by actress Linnea Quigley as “The Plug” *shudders*)! And plenty of nasty delights, perfect for for kicking off Halloween 2014!

See you there!

Stay Trashy!
-Root

24
Aug
12

Wicked Stepmother: Low Rent Surrealism

a Primal Root written review

I’ve never seen a movie like it. That’s probably the most accurate critique I can give Larry Cohen’s jaw-droppingly bizarre and nonsensical 1989 supernatural comedy opus, ‘Wicked Stepmother’.  A forgotten oddity of the VHS era,  probably best known for containing Hollywood empress Bette Davis in her final screen performance, ‘Wicked Stepmother’ has got to be some kind of hallucinatory cinematic comedy milestone. Who knows if Cohen & co intended this movie to be such a rapid-fire array of awkward moments, dumbfounding performances and cheesy effects. All I know is that it all comes together as an if not totally enjoyable film, certainly an outlandishly botched witch’s brew movie delight. One thing that may be said with total confidence for ‘Wicked Stepmother’, you will never, EVER see another like it.

This fiasco begins with a police investigation led by TV’s Tom Bosley who you may remember from ‘Happy Days’ (RIP) or if your grandparents were fans of the ‘Father Dowling Mysteries’.  His mission? To locate an evil witch with a penchant for marrying her way into families and using her powers to make them unimaginably wealthy before robbing them blind, shrinking them to the size of plastic army men, and stashing them in shoe boxes under the bed.  It sure seems like a waste of time for a witch of such immense power. There’s just gotta be a more effective way to maintain a steady cash flow.

The witch in question is Miranda Pierpoint, played by the legendary Bette Davis (RIP) putting forth a stiff monotone and (we can only assume) unintentionally  disturbing performance. Miranda has just gotten hitched to an elderly widower, Sam  (played by the late, great character actor Lionel Stander with that unmistakably gravely voice). In one of my favorite sight gags of the movie, we see images of Sam’s first wife on his night stand.  Low and behold, it is Joan Crawford,  Bette Davis’ long time rival.

The new marriage comes as a shock to his adult daughter, hyper-allergenic and moderate psychopath, Jenny (Colleen Camp, who should win some kind of lifetime achievement award for this one, single cringe-inducingly campy performance).  Her husband Steve (David ‘I’ve gotta’ Rasche, desperately try to keep up with Colleen’s camp) though surprised by the sudden change in homestead seems to be taking things well, and attempts to mediate between his wife’s control freakery and his new chimney stack of a mother-in-law.  Their son Mike (Shawn Donahue, who would play his final role the next year in 1990’s immortal classic, ‘The Willies’) is appropriately willful and mainly just refuses to refer to the new addition ‘grandma’.

To Jenny’s fury, Miranda smokes more than the entire cast of Mad Men, combined, in the families’ WASPy digs. She also cooks, eats, and tempts the family with nothing but grilled meats despite Jenny’s insistence in that everyone bow to the nutritional excellence of her broccoli souffle. Although Steve is clearly inclined to give into Miranda’s politically-incorrect ways, Jenny throws her hubby one of her well-practiced psycho glares and puts the guy back in his place. He hunches over the dining room table to choke down his helping of lettuce and oatmeal while thinking about his genitals and how nice a home Jenny’s made for them in her handbag. Miranda also has a cat which unlocks an avalanche of comedic potential as Jenny is…get this…ALLERGIC to cats!  So she spends much of the movie sneezing at inopportune moments and standing around sniffling and delivering her lines with her stuffed up, mongoloid voice. Really. It is a laugh riot. Yeah.

However, my favorite scene in this mayhem shows up early as young Michael is at a beach, unchaperoned, watching some coeds in bikinis bounce & bop around via a game of volleyball.  Earlier, Michael has told Melinda he’d never call her “Grandma”, that she can, basically, burn in hell, then proved himself the deeply cool thug he is by popping the collar on his jean jacket and walking away. Apparently he was strutting his way to the beach where his requests to join in the volleyball game were denied.  However, as luck would have it, the lovely young witch Priscilla (played byTia Carrera’s sister, Barbara! SHWING!) shows up, complete with beflowered sun hat and black veil and winks at Michael, which apparently bestowed upon him with the power to do front flips over the volleyball net. For what purpose? Who knows. It impresses no one in the game and even seems to piss off the more hyper-hormonal boys of the pack. And yet, poor little 12 year old Michael has caught the eye & libido of a twenty something beach bunny. Unfortunately, as often happens at movie beaches,  two buff, blonde dickweeds start kicking sand in Michael’s face while he’s chatting up his new dish.  Again, the young lad is in luck as Priscilla gives him yet another power of Filipino Flip fighting through which Michael hops around cracking bimbo dude skulls.  All of this results in a scene of total prepubescent wish fulfillment, the busty beach bunny takes off her modest shirt to reveal her ample cleavage and offers herself up to the young man with the unmistakable innuendo, “Come here, I’m gonna show you something…” A goofy grin spreads across Michael’s mug as she leads him off to rock the freckles off his face.

The kind of Wicked Stepmother all young boys dream of.

It was around this moment I began to wonder just who was the projected market for this film? It’s a wicked stepmother, fairy tale kiddie charm, sure, but the focus is primarily on adult relationships. In fact, Michael is led off to be statutorily raped, and that’s pretty the last we see of the kid with the exception of him showing up for group shots  lasting mere seconds in the final scene. This thing’s obviously not quite for youngins… but the humor is on a pretty even keel for adolescents despite it meandering between adult issues (i.e. marriage difficulties & geriatric homicide) and it’s unchecked childish hokeyness.  99.9 % of the films run time is spent dealing with figuring out how to murder an elderly woman and a married man fantasizing about/having adulterous sex with Tia Carrere’s sister while a writhing cat tail wags around out of her pooper, growing vines in the yard against an painfully-obvious blue screen under the guise of “decorating for the holidays”, answering trivia questions on game shows, and figuring out a way to write Bette Davis out of the movie since she walked off set about two days into production.  The leave was publicly attributed to her disgust with the script, though it was later stated that the true cause was her deteriorating health.

How do they write her out, you ask? Remember Priscilla? Well, she and Miranda apparently share the body of a black cat. But, see, both spirits can’t cohabit in one body at the same time. “There’s no room for two people in one cat!” a witch academy instructor exclaims revealing this terrible piece of plotting. So,  after Miranda’s 11 minutes or so of screen time are up, she vanishes to be replaced by Priscilla.  Don’t fret, gang, the cat Miranda inhabits also smokes as much as she did, so it’s like she never left! In fact, one of the most bizarre moments of the entire film are cutaways to a black cat hand puppet paws holding cigarettes up to it’s little feline mouth and puffing away, it’s unnaturally large, bugged out yellow eyes and dilated pupils nervously darting around in their sockets.

Eventually the detective character shows back up at a clandestine witch class where Jenny also happens to be attending so she can look for answers as to how to get rid of Miranda/Priscilla for good. Priscilla learns a couple words in Latin and is ready to take on Priscilla in head to head in the ultimate blue screen combat! It’s a breathtaking sequence that pulls no punches in the bargain basement action and effects arena.   Will Jenny be able to banish the money hungry witches from her home? Or will her family end up pint-sized, broke, and shoe-boxed? To be honest, I was too busy laughing my ass off to care.

The bottom line is that ‘Wicked Stepmother’ is one of those films that must be seen to be truly understood. It’s terrible. I mean, this thing is bad. This sucker is Samurai Cop, Troll 2 level bad. But it is still ridiculously entertaining. The intended jokes all fall flat on their faces, but it is totally made up for with unintentional hilarity. It’s like some kind of surrealist fever dream that just keeps getting more absurd and illogical as it progresses. None of it makes a lick of sense and there are an abundance of moments that will leave you wondering if you just actually witnessed what you did.  Better Davis’ performance alone make up for the absurdity of the opening portion of the film.  She is never without a cigarette in her hand and recites her dialog in the emotionless drawl of a late 60’s TV robot.  Once Bette departs the film, the hammy acting, and cheese ball effects really become the stars of the show and lift this sucker up onto another plateau of Trash Cinema altogether.

I may have said too much already. I don’t want to spoil this sucker for you. But when I look back lovingly upon ‘Wicked Stepmother’,  no words can really do this acid trip of a film justice.  I’m not sure if exactly if it’s my strong palette for trash that allowed me to enjoy this thing or if it can be experienced by others and be loved just as thoroughly. I was not expecting myself to end up with the affection I now have for this piece of wack-o film making. Please, if you haven’t seen it, do so. And if you have, please, share your thoughts with us here at The Trash Cinema Collective.  Again, in the annals of cinema, there is nothing like ‘Wicked Stepmother’.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

14
Jul
10

The Woodchipper Massacre: A Backyard Affair

a Primal Root review

Who among my fellow gore hounds has not contemplated the the scenario of watching some poor schmuck getting tossed into a fully functional woodchipper? We’re all seen these machines in action with their intended quarry but just what could that thrasher do to the defenseless human body and just what in the hell would it look like spraying from the other end?

There have been films that feature this scenario, most famously, The Coen Brother’s Oscar winning quirky crime drama, Fargo. Of course, we are seeing the end result after a character has already been murdered, quartered and fed through the human liquefier.  We can’t forget Trash Cinema Classic, The Corpse Grinder, where this scenario was experimented with and there’s even Jackie Chan’s Rumble in the Bronx where some gang banger is devoured by this hungry, godless, machine.

And then there’s Jon McBride’s (Cannibal Campout) 1989 shot on video low budget opus, The Woodchipper Massacre. The first film to wholly exploit our morbid curiosity to see someone shot through one of these contraptions and do so right in the title! Hell, we’ve seen Texas Chainsaw Massacre, why not make the logical step to the woodchipper?

Going into this little film oddity I was expecting it to play much like the Texas Chainsaw Massacre as the title suggests. I went in expecting something much like McBride’s previous work, Cannibal Campout, a bunch of psychotic rednecks roaming the woods looking for terrible actors to eat. Except this time around the rednecks prefer their human meals after they’ve been puréed.

This kid looks like a cannibal to me.

Probably the most shocking aspect of the film is how different it is from what one expects. You go in expecting some kind of survivalist  splatter yarn and what we get is a strange dark children’s film about three siblings–Jon, Denise, and Tom–who have to spend a weekend being baby-sat by their over bearing and psychotically anal Aunt Tess. She forces the kids into manual labor, won’t allow older brother Jon to go out on his dates, is a horrible cook, and refuses Tom the simple pleasures of rocking out the air guitar in his bedroom.

Aunt Tess’s greatest offense comes when little brother Tom receives his mail-in Rambo Survival Hunting knife in the mail and she makes the mistake of trying to yank it away. Tom and Aunt Tess struggle for control before Tom mistakenly/on purpose stabs the old bitch, killing her instantly.  It’s an emotionally heavy moment as all three of the kids must face the reality that their Aunt Tess is now laying sprawled out, dead, in a pool of her own decrepit blood, and at the hand of their little brother to boot!

The children mourn the loss of dearly departed Aunt Tess.

After some soul searching  and crappy comedy sketches involving phone calls from Dad and what not, the children come to a wise and educated decision.  They chuck that unholy dead woman into the woodchipper out back. Sadly, this woodchipper scene leaves much to be desired. First off, Aunt Tess’s body comes off looking like a bunch of  spare ribs with freezer burn, and worst of all, the only thing that shoots out of the chipper chute is what looks like potato chips. You call your movie The Woodchipper Massacre and you better deliver some fucking meat!

I recommend the dry rub on Aunt Tess.

Anyhoo, believe it or not, the kids are not traumatized by their own sadistic and malevolent actions and go about life as normal. There’s not a single moment of remorse over their actions. I guess we didn’t really know Aunt Tess as well as these kids did.  And believe it or not, another person gets tossed in the Chipper! Aunt Tess’s son Kim! He was established earlier as being psychotic and shows up on the scene the next day after Aunt Tess’s date with the Chipper Man.

Kim:Psychotic Man of Action

What in the world does Kim want from the kids? Will anyone else gets thrown in the ‘ol wood chipper? And the biggest question of all…will the yard be cleaned up by the time Dad gets home?

The Woodchipper Massacre plays more like Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead than it does Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  It’s an astoundingly chipper, quaint…even cute movie. The last thing I was expecting. I’m not saying this is a bad thing at all. In fact, it kind of works in the film’s favor. It has the feel of an old home made, backyard movie that the family takes out every Thanksgiving and watches and laughs at. In a way, it reminds me of the hilarious weird films my best buds, cousins, and I used to make whenever we had a long weekend or holiday.

It’s cheap, it doesn’t deliver the gore, and the performances are godawful. But it still manages to be a charming and fun viewing experience. It’s Trash Cinema for kids and would work well on a double bill with Jon McBride’s grislier flick, Cannibal Campout.

Stay Trashy,

-The Primal Root




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