Posts Tagged ‘80’s

29
Jul
18

(NSFW) Just Before Dawn (1981): Rise and Die

just before dawn

a Primal Root written review

“There’s nothing out there but God’s little creatures, more scared of you than you are of them.” – Warren, Just Before Dawn

Tales of backwoods hicks slaughtering city folks is as old as the hills themselves. Freshly showered kids in their L.L. Bean disco survival boots, shaved vaginas and cans of Pringles head off to hike and pitch their tents fully exposed in the elements and figure, oh yeah, nothing’s going to happen to me out here among the trees, wildlife and lack of of immediate assistance from someone who knows what the Hell they’re doing. From The Hills Have Eyes, to House of 1,000 Corpses, to Deliverance, Friday the 13th and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre; white-bread, Nike wearing, pink, privileged idiots with six figure incomes load up their campers and right into certain death despite there nearly ALWAYS being some old coot standing by the side of the rarely traversed, nearly grown over dirt road saying the same old speech “You’re doomed if you stay the night up that road!”

And what do those idiots do? Crank up the Def Leppard and rush forward into painful, bloody oblivion. It’s an old yarn always looking for an invigorating new take, or at least a competent hand to at the very least, make it interesting.

Enter the forgotten 1981 backwoods camping slasher gem, JUST BEFORE DAWN, and film that I’d heard a few people mention in decades past, but never in the same sentence as well worn genre fare. Upon finally getting a chance to watch it, I was not only blown blown away by how solid it was, but I would put it among my all time favorite slasher films of this backwoods sub-genre.

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Our pre-credit inciting incident takes place in a rotten, weather worn church where two older hikers are joking around and acting like goofballs trying to make one another laugh as they wonder through this holy relic. By the way, one of these old hikers is none other than Mike Kellin who played Mel, the owner of Camp Arawak in another excellent summer slasher film, Sleepaway Camp from 1983. When one man notices a freakish inbred redneck peering through a hole in th church’s roof and eerily backlit by the sun, he steps out slowly from the church, and in a real dick move, doesn’t mention it to his friend who is too busy being a comedian to notice. Well, as you might imagine, the man left in the church ends up getting possibly the most brutal death in the film and has a massive, multi-pronged machete stuck though his pee hole and right out his poop chute. And the film doesn’t cut away once this happens, oh no, we see the poor hikers horrified, pained reaction to suddenly find his cock and balls forcibly filleted in half and probably shoved right out his own asshole. He reached behind himself to feel the machete blade sticking right out through his jeans…it’s a nightmarish moment and one where the viewer cannot help but imagine the unfathomable agony that bastard must be experiencing as he slowly begins to bleed to death amongst the pews of stink, mildew encrusted old church.  This poor bastard’s bud, Ty, who just left him to die, runs off into the woods and down the side of the mountain with the giant, massively overweight bloodthirsty mountain man in hot pursuit.

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From left to right: Constance, Jonathan, Daniel, Megan & Warren. Who will survive and who will inherit the R.V.?

 

We are then immediately introduced to our core group of young folks headed up the side of the mountain in their camper to spend a long weekend hiking, skinny dipping, and mellowing out in the woods. There’s the fun loving couple Jonathan (Chris Lemmon, son of Jack Lemmon) and Megan (Jamie Rose, from Chopper Chicks in Zombie Town and a billion TV Shows), the nerdy photographer who didn’t bring a date and will probably be spending the majority of the trip, when not taking photos, masturbating into the bushes, Daniel (Ralph Seymour from Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, Killer Party, Meatballs part II) and our main course couple, our blonde alpha male and guy steering the RV, Warren (played by none other than Greg Henry who starred in James Gunn’s Slither and Guardians of the Galaxy flicks) and his worry wart, uptight, girlfriend, Constance (Deborah Benson from 1941, 2 Days in the Valley).  On their way up, they are warned by none other than the late, great, George Kennedy as Roy McLean, an old timer plant doctor and horse whisperer who knows there’s something terrible up in them mountains. Not only that, but the kids bust the shit out of a deer with the R.V., and run into Ty, who at some point came across a massive jug of whiskey as he was fleeing for his life, drank three quarters of it, and slurrily begged the kids to take him down the mountain before he is turned into a dick and ass kabob by some horrifying fat fucks in the woods. The kids leave him some food and head up the mountain, as they go, Ty watches as the Mountain Man hops from a nearby tree onto the back of the camper to pursue more nubile and fuckable victims.  Ty laughs his ass of and continues stumbling down the mountain.

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Soon our rag tag group of fresh faced youths have set up camp, hiked behind waterfalls, and noticed some peculiar whistling coming from the woods…the crew even noticed a young woman singing beautifully down by a stream, when they approach her, the girl goes running into the woods. All these strange omens mean little to the young folks as they starts letting loose. The most notable is Constance, who ditches her waist high khakis and long sleeve denims short, and slips on some tight fitting daisy dukes that let her butt cheeks hang out and the ties her button down shirt up to expose her mid-drift and tease at the subtle breasts bouncing around underneath. It’s a transformation that doesn’t go unnoticed by her camping buddies and seems to coincide with the five friends descending deeper into the woods, as if she is becoming a bit more wild herself. She even paints her toenails while sitting on a long. It’s cute, it’s hot, and it’s a little weird, but you know me, I’m down with weird female transformations, especially the wild and sexy kind.

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Before long, the kids find themselves down at the base of the waterfall where Jonathan and Megan decide to go skinny dipping and fool around a little bit while the other’s make breakfast. It’s all fun and games as Megan splashes water around and giggles while Jonathan goes under water, gropes her and floats up pretending to be dead, but soon the scene becomes one of the creepiest in the damn film, as we see one of the filthy, gigantic mountain men descend into the water in the background and go under… Jonathan dips under the water again and vanishes. Megan, assuming Jonathan is playing around, continues to giggle and call out to him. That’s when a filthy big old pair of hands start groping at her above and under water. She assumes Jonathan is playing around and getting frisky and it is really uncomfortable as these hands slide across her skin, and are most certainly poking ad probing some intimate places just below our field of vision. Soon, Jonathan surfaces and walks out of the water at the shore line and waves at Megan as she is being molested. As expected, she begins screaming and running out of the water. It’s a truly freakish moment brimming with suspense and unease, we know what these nasty backwoods killers are capable off and how perverse their methods of dispatch can be. The terror of the moment is only made right by the sight of Megan’s lovely body running out of the water, sopping wet, nekkid, running and beautiful. The moment was absolutely horrifying, but he coming out of the water surrounded by the lush forest sure makes you contemplate the beauty of nature.

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Now, what blows my mind, is the next time we see these kids they’re dancing all sexy like by fire light RIGHT AFTER THIS INCIDENT! Let me tell you, if my wife or anyone I was comping with came to me hysterically crying about being molested, I’d be loading up the camper and booking it down the side of the mountain. But even Megan seems to have gotten overt her trauma in no time and is clapping her ass cheeks on Daniel the nerd boy’s wang doodle like it’s Spring Break at Panama City Beach. Everyone is gyrating the love bits and shaking their money makes when a three piece family of rednecks (Papa, Mama, and the little singing girl from earlier)  bash the fuck out of their radio, emerge from the darkened woods and are now the THIRD people to warn these kids that they’re going to die.  You kids are “Gonna wake up THE DEVILS!”  Time to load up the camper and head to civilization right?

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Of course, the kids don’t listen, and the next day decide to go messing around in the woods in separate groups which leads to some of the most horrifying and suspenseful shit in the movie, with each murder being set up masterfully and pulled off with maximum suspense, which is not exactly the hallmark of the slasher genre. Nine times out of ten I find myself bored to pieces as someone is walking down a dark corridor, or walking around the woods calling out for a friend. But Just Before Dawn knows exactly what TO show us and what NOT TO show us in order to actually give us that sense of dread, or knowledge that something terrible is occurring. What’s also impressive is that the film doesn’t rely on gore effects to sell it’s shocks and scares, instead leaning on it’s actors to make us feel the fear, the pain, the struggle they’re in, which, again to my amazement, the cast fully delivers. Not only do they create characters we believe and genuinely like, but the film take the time to let the actors deliver what they need to in order to bring the audience with them into the horror they’re going through. Also, the score composed by Brad Fiedel is far eerier than most genre entries ever get and creates a nightmarish atmosphere of solitude and doom.

Jeff Lieberman wrote and directed this lean, mean, fucking slasher film which relies on subtlety, allowing the terror to build, and once the shit hits the fan, doesn’t shy away from laying it on us with harrowing set pieces, nail biting suspense and making us witness to some nasty fates. Lieberman’s a name I never hear mentioned when it comes to cult horror film makers, but the brother directed another fantastic down home horror fest, 1976’s Squirm, the LSD shock fest Blu Sunshine in 1977 and even directed the vastly underrated Halloween horror film, Satan’s Little Helper. Also, looking at his IMDB page, the guy directed a documentary about the mysterious death of boxing legend Sonny Liston and wrote, of all thing, The NeverEnding Story part II… Huh…

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Just Before Dawn is a slasher film that NEEDS to be recognized and HAS to be seen by fans of the genre. It’s a standout among a genre that was just at the beginning of going stale, even as early as 1981. Lieberman and company made a flick that pulls no punches and creates a real nightmare scenario. The killers themselves are a little goofy when you finally get a good look at them, but the actors trying to escape from them do a damn good job of selling their menace, even when the killer’s goofy unibrow and giant beer bellies, do not. The final battle at base camp is fucking astounding and in it’s execution, and in it’s final moments, just before dawn, we see a new dawn and the final transformation. It has to be seen to be believed.

I award Just Before Dawn FIVE OUT OF FIVE Dumpster Nuggets.

You have got to see this sucker!

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.

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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.

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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

 

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.

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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.

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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

 

 

 

 

03
Mar
18

(NSFW) Tanya’s Island (1980) : Monkey Trouble In Paradise

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A Bootsie Kidd Review

Tanya’s Island is a love story like so many others, fraught with jungle wilds and imaginary gorilla lovers. Girl meets boy. Girl falls in love with boy. Boy spurns girl. Girl turns to primal nature in pursuit of independence, passion, and fulfillment. Boy changes mind, decides he wants girl and that girl needs him. Girl decides she’ll stick with primal nature in pursuit of independence, passion, and fulfillment.

We open with Tanya going for a run. She is the very picture of strength, independence, capability, hard work, and happens to gorgeous as fuck. This is THE Vanity we’re talking about here, so you know she’s a creature like no other. Tanya is an actress starring in a new King Kong film when her director, Kelly (Mariette Lèvesque), approaches her to state how tired she looks, that her career is more important than her personal life, and to get her shit together, but Kelly’s all smiles and warmth so we’re meant to take it as well-meaning pressure and polite disinterest in Tanya’s personal needs. Distressed, Tanya turns to her artist lover, Lobo (Richard Sargent), who greets Tanya with a pretty brutal goodbye saying he won’t let her “own him”. Tanya seems so wholly unaware of how spectacular she is, in and of herself, seeking love, acceptance, and support from people who have no clue of how nor inclination to give it to her. If it was beauty that killed the beast, Tanya plays roles as both.

Suddenly, a sensationally bizarre b&w scene pops up momentarily within a shower depicting Tanya and Lobo covered in blood while Tanya screams and clammers to escape. The scene ends as suddenly as it arrived, and the next moment we’re in a lavish, morbidly decorated home where Tanya seems to be packing for an escape from this shit when another presents itself. She hears heavy panting coming from up the stairs. As she travels a hall lined with footlights, we hear waves crashing, and upon handling an illuminated seashell, the music crescendos, Tanya opens a door flooded with light and fog juice, and we’re whisked away to sepia-toned, butt-neked Tanya fondling and fake-jogging for the duration of the opening credits.

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Tanya has imagined herself to an island that seems to be her own paradise. And hey! Lobo’s there, but he seems enthralled with her and they live, and fuck, and love their days away. She even has her own beach pony to ride around on just in case it wasn’t obvious enough how sexy she and this island are. Only Lobo still isn’t happy. He gets bored and wants to keep exploring the island. Okay, fair enough. It’s a show strength and character when a movie is realistic enough to concede that even paradise has potential for monotony. Lobo’s an artist in want of new inspiration, a yearner, and this is Tanya’s Paradise not Lobo’s, after all, so let’s give the guy the benefit of the doubt, for now.

Once they move their tent and relentless chimes to another part of an island, Tanya begins to suspect there’s something on the island with them, tells Lobo of this fear, and Lobo mocks, tricks, and scares the shit out of her. Goddamnit, Lobo! Tanya has had it, y’all, trekking back into the jungle finding herself alone in the wilds of her own imagination. The landscapes are breathtaking, and the further she ventures the more brave and secure she becomes, adorning herself with a crown of flowers as if finally fucking realizes she is the queen of all she surveys. It is an especially gratifying, albeit, simple sequence. As Tanya wanders even deeper in the caverns of her paradise, she comes upon the creature lurking in trees. A gorilla with sterling blue eyes that she befriends and names Blue (Don McLeod).

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Despite Tanya reuniting with fuck boy Lobo, he gets butt-hurt over not having Tanya’s undivided attention and the now-apparent fact she doesn’t need his sour-grapes ass for fulfillment, and he attempts to rape her while mocking her desires and affection for Blue. However, Blue is there to thwart that stank dick allowing for Tayna’s escape. But, of course, this Gauguin wannabe motherfucker HAS to win. Despite Tanya’s constant compassion and tenderness, he literally cages her primitive nature, entrapping Blue, demanding that “my rules” are to be obeyed. Lobo barks orders while Tanya tries to salvage what remaining happiness she can in her own fantasy. Her rage intensifies with Lobo’s upgrading abuse until she frees Blue inciting Lobo to construct ANOTHER literal fucking prison around he and Tanya, claiming it as protection. Now it is up to Blue, Tanya’s manifestation of her own wild spirit and independent nature to free her from the colossal douchewad’s clutches.

Watching Lobo’s transformation from everyday self-involved smugness into the filthy, primitive, insecure, patriarchal, rapist piece of shit that was lurking just beneath his surface with Blue taunting Lobo from outside the cage makes for an intense ride. In a frantic sequence of what-the-shit, Blue breaks Tanya free, Lobo is left crying out in fear of loneliness, Tanya fleas deciding she doesn’t need Blue or Lobo resulting in her primal savior Blue eventually catching and beating her to death rather than letting her live independent of them.

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And wouldn’t you know, it was all just a dream! Ugh. She wakes up to the starkly empty room realizing wounds from her nightmarish encounter. She has a blank canvas to work with from here, but scars remain and need time and care to heal. Our minds construct prisons within prisons as well as the villains and heroes to navigate them, and circumstances idealized in the mind that may have been some pretty unhealthy shit can be overcome for living to fight and love another day.

All in all, Tanya’s Island has a lot more substance than expected given other’s reports! Moral of the story for us and Tanya, listen but, in the end, rely on your own judgement and experience. Sure there’s sultry sexin’ and plenty of bare-backin the beach pony, but all of it fits within the context of Tanya’s frame of paradise. It’s thoughtful AND evocative which is especially remarkable given that these two things are never mutually exclusive though typically treated as such in cinematic critique.  Director Alfred Sole and the solid performances from Vanity, Sargant, and McLeod creatively reimagined important subjects, and it is one that I hope eventually receives the nods it deserves. Check it out for yourself at Cap City Video Lounge or your local movie rental store!

 

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

 

29
May
17

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

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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

21
Aug
16

Fright Night (1985)The Rejection of Hot Cocoa or Why Your Girlfriend is Hotter When She’s Evil

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“I have just been fired because nobody wants to see vampire killers anymore, or vampires either. Apparently all they want to see are demented madmen running around in ski-masks, hacking up young virgins.” – Roddy McDowall as Peter Vincent: Vampire Killer in Fright Night

a Primal Root written review

By the mid-1980’s horror cinema was dominated by low brow exploitation slasher horror cinema. Every weekend seemed to bring us another holiday themed blood bath filled with nekkid, pot smoking teens being chased down and hacked into oblivion by some silent masked killer or catch phrase spouting dream demon. By 1985, the formula was old hat and there a resurgence in appreciation for the classics. Tom Holland’s fun, sexy, highly entertaining directorial debut, Fright Night, is one of the most unabashed and perfect examples of what can be done when two genres are expertly amalgamated.

Fright Night seamlessly and joyfully the hard lined, effects driven spectacle of the late 1970’s and early 80’s horror genre made famous be the likes of George Romero, John Carpenter and John Landis, along with the fun, campy nature of many Hammer and Universal Classics. Fright Night is a film that generates it’s frights, laughs and boundless charm from the audience’s knowledge of horror cinema history. Fright Night is a film that bridges a gap between a simpler seeming time in the genres past and fully embraces the gnarly, grotesque necessities of the current 1980’s horror audience and succeeds in creating something familiar as well as new and enjoyable from start to finish.

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Fright Night tells the tale of virginal high school horror movie aficionado, Charlie Brewster (William Ragsdale), who is having relationship problems with his equally virginal high school sweetheart, Amy (Amanda Bearse). Charlie becomes convinced that his new next door neighbor, Jerry Dandridge (Chris Sarandon) is a a serial killer, one who has been decapitating prostitutes and draining their bodies of blood…He is also convinced that Jerry is, indeed, a mother fucking vampire.

When Charlie convinces a police detective to investigate Jerry and his live-in buddy Billy Cole (Jonathan Stark), but once the detective and Charlie set foot into Jerry’s home and Charlie’s suspicions are made clear, he is mocked, laughed at and told he is a fool…but this also means Jerry Dandridge, who is ACTUALLY a very powerful vampire, now knows the nosey kid next door is on to him and pose a very real threat to his existence.

Jerry comes to Charlie with a compromise; forget that he is a vampire and live, or continue being a little fuck face who tries to convince people that I’m a vampire and I’ll rip your little teeny bopper head off, drink your blood and then shit it down your neck stump. Of course, Charlie being one of the rare breed, pure of heart sort of kids, refuses to ignore evil. In return, Jerry retaliates by seducing both Charlie’s girlfriend Amy and his one and only friend, Evil Ed (Stephen Geoffreys). Charlie, who has no siblings and whose Mom works the night shift at the hospital and has a singular remedy for  vampire onslaught in a mug of hot cocoa, which Charlie adamantly DOES NOT NEED, is totally useless. Plus his Father is completely absent without a mention of his whereabouts or existence.

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Out of options, Charlie turns to the unlikely aid of a late night horror movie host of the program ‘Fright Night’, classic horror film actor, Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall, who owns this movie, by the way). Nightly, Mr. Vincent boasts about his knowledge and fearlessness when it comes to battling vampires to their undead deaths. But, in real life, Mr. Vincent is a coward when confronted with the supernatural. It is up to this unlikely duo, Charlie and Peter Vincent, to vanquish the evil Jerry Dandridge in time to save Amy, who is slowly transforming into red headed sexy blood sucking minion of the undead!

So why the lasting impression? The cult status? The deeply devoted fan base and high regard from cinema devotees? Simply put, the film is absolute god damn pleasure to watch. It plays to everyone! Hardcore horror aficionados, casual cinema goers, sick demented trash cinema collective members, Fright Night pleases everyone. The violence is so over the top, colorful, fantasy based and imaginative, it’s never really disturbing as much as it is just good old fashion spook house fun.

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The actors all perform at the top of their game. Chris Sarandon as the incredibly suave and seductive vampire Jerry Dandridge conveys brutal menace and a confident swagger and joyful glee, but also manages to mix in a bit of humanity to a very old, very sophisticated creature of the night, making Jerry an unforgettable antagonist. Ragsdale is a perfect choice for the strong willed, in over his head, Charlie Brewster, likewise, Amanda Bearse as Amy conveys doe eyes innocence so well, it;s kind of annoying as shit. But it works in the favor of the character’s story arch, her relationship with Charlie keeps her almost as a child it is only when she is seduced by Jerry that her sexual awakening occurs, her physical appearance begins to change, drastically so soon after Jerry, *AHEM* slides his fangs into her causing ribbons of warm red blood to stream down her back in a not too subtle symbol of her virginity being taken. As she starts to turn, her hair goes red, she shows off her lovely tits through a see through white gown, and she aggressively attempts to seduce those around her so that she, too, can stick her fangs in them. It’s always fascinated me whenever women go evil in movies how much sexier they become. Like Lily in Legend, sure, she’s cute in all in her white gown, flowery head dress and shit, but as soon as she gets into the all black ensemble and starts dancing around with a confident, assured look of a woman who has been through Hell and back, knows pain, pleasure, desire and is world wary of these things, that’s when I find myself getting a chub. Besides, there are few turn offs greater than innocence. But that could just be me.

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Stephen Geoffries, who notoriously would turn to a career in homoerotic porn for the majority of his career, turns in one of the most excellent, go for broke performances as Evil Ed. Evil Ed is obviously an outsider, seemingly hyper active with a penchant for saying what’s on his mind, he seems like a bit of a nerd and someone who has been picked on his whole childhood. He plays the majority of the film as a kind of gonzo comic relief, but again, one of the strengths of Fright Night is when these seemingly stock and familiar characters are expanded upon. Two stand out scenes for Evil Ed always come to mind as the highlights of the film. When Evil Ed is seduced with the promise over never being picked on or bullied ever again, if only he takes the hand of Jerry Dandridge. It’s a beautiful moment as Evil Ed first cowers and then opens up to the idea of having someone, finally having someone who gives his word to stand up for him. Of course, it;s an evil creature of the night, so he will only become a kind of errand boy or good for Jerry, but I guess it beats going to high school. Also, Evil Ed’s ****SPOILER**** death is pitch perfect. It’s outstanding on so many levels, this teenage boy, who has given his soul away for vampiric powers, has now been impaled through the heart while he is in the form of a wolf. The physical effects are astounding through this sequence as we watch a dying Evil Ed in pure agony transform back into his human form slowly, painfully, mercilessly. He screams out in agony, at first as an unrecognizable half man half beast, who reaches out for comfort from a shell shocked and mortified Peter Vincent, the man who put the stake through his heart. Ed reaches for contact, someone to comfort him as he passes away and Peter almost reaches out to do so, before remembering just what he’s dealing with, and draws his hand back. As Ed fades away, and now looks exactly like himself, he gives Peter Vincent a tearful smile of regret as he dies, soulless, a being of evil and most assuredly heads straight down to Hell. Roddy andStephen are both excellent in the scene, and if you ask me, it might just be the best moment of the entire film, as these two work off one another beautifully.

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Which bring me to Roddy McDowall as Peter Vincent. This man is the heart and soul of Fright Night. As the aging, retired, reluctant and increasingly irrelevant Fearless Vampire Hunter, Roddy brings a beautiful, funny, sympathetic character to life with so much charm and charisma, you cannot help but love the man. He enlivens each and every scene he’s in with heart and warmth in a performance so wonderful, you;ll forget the man played a monkey four damn times.

There are a lot of overt sexual elements to Tom Hollands’ exceptional horror flick, Fright Night, but one of the messages I always found most noble is that horror, as a genre, is a necessity for youngsters. Suggesting that knowledge of how to deal with the evils of vampires and their ilk will come in handy, we just never know when. Fright Night is provocative, daring but also, in a sense innocent and nostalgic. It arrived at just the right time in 1985 as horror cinema was becoming stale on it’s steady stream of stale slasher flicks. Fright Night is among the finest horror films of the 1980’s. It’s wickedly comical, the performances, again, are all excellent and the practical effects, decades later, hold home remarkably well and are astounding to behold. It’s also  successful in transplanting the vampire myth from far away mountains of Transylvania and establishing them in the suburbs, a place where the forces of evil can move in right next door, and if you’re not paying attention, infiltrate your entire town…

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Bolstered by a rad 80’s soundtrack, Fright Night is a colorful, imaginative, well crafted and most importantly, FUN, non stop love note to horror’s cinematic history. One I feel has never been topped, let alone, matched.

I award Fright Night (1985) Five out of Five Dumpster Nuggets.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 




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