Posts Tagged ‘90’s

28
Jul
16

Nothing But Trouble: A Trash Cinema Dog Days of Summer Event!

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WHO: The Trash Cinema Collective
WHAT: A screening of the 1991 cult flick, Nothing but Trouble!
WHEN: Saturday August 6th at 9pm (EST)
WHERE: Bird’s Aphrodisiac Oyster Shack
WHY: Because it’s about time.

As always, NO COVER!

Hey Gang, The Primal Root here, and I am happy to be inviting you out to our August 6th Trash Cinema Night featuring the strangest of early 90’s cinematic oddities, the Chevy Chase Texas Chainsaw Massacre hybrid as well as Dan Aykroyd’s directorial debut, 1991’s Nothing but Trouble! A film that bombed horrendously upon theatrical release only to gain a rabid cult fanbase later on home video.

Nothing But Trouble is a classic tale of New York yuppies driving through rural America where they come across some backwoods locals who want to skin them alive. Only this time around, they are the local law. After running a stop sign, Chris Thorne (Chevy Chase) Diane (Demi Moore), and their driving buddies end up under arrest and must stand trial in the court/home of the decrepit, blood thirsty Judge Alvin ‘J.P.’ Valkenheiser. As the prisoners soon find out, J.P.’s mansion.prison is filled with secret passages, booby traps and other odd/horrifying contraptions. Chris and Diane must out wit the deranged family in order to survive the night and get home alive!

Be prepared for cock noses! Unskinned sausages! John Candy in drag! Pu Collars! Giant mutant babies in diapers! Awesome roller coaster style death traps! A performance by the legendary Digital Underground! A spectacular cameo by the late Tupac Shakur! And a deep wave of nostalgia for the early 90’s and a time when a once promising career for the then thriving Dan Aykroyd suddenly began to fall to pieces.

That’s right! It’s Nothing but Trouble! A strange blend of backwoods horror, comedy, and awkward social interaction! So come on out, grab a pitcher of your favorite ice cold adult beverage, sink your teeth into the BEST damn burger in town, and let’s check out a forgotten nugget of pure Trash Cinema gold! I’ll see you there, Gang!

Stay Trashy!
-Root

12
Jan
14

Mars Attacks (1996): Carnage Candy

 

Mars Attacks quad

a Primal Root written review

Adapting a notoriously gruesome and controversial trading card series from the 60’s into a PG-13 holiday release for the 1990’s cannot be an easy task.  “MARS ATTACKS!” in it’s original form was a blood soaked Topp’s trading card series created in 1962. Of course, there was parental and societal uproar over the gory, frequently sexual card series which led to the series’ original run first being censored and then being halted entirely. Yes, tell the public they cannot have something because they cannot “handle it” and remove it from the market entirely.  Ladies and Gents, this is how you create a cult following.

In the early 1980’s, “MARS ATTACKS!” began it’s resurgence gaining a whole new generation of young fans while banking on the nostalgia of those who once had this gloriously sick and subversive creation snatched from their grasps by the moral watchdogs that know what is best for us all. Bunch of dick holes, I tells ya! This resurgence culminated in a film adaptation featuring and all star cast and directed by, at that point, creative dynamo, Tim Burton fresh of his biographical film “Ed Wood”, everyone’s favorite cross dressing Trash Cinema film director!

Just how in the world do you take a popular cult TRADING CARD series and transform it into a profitable commercial venture? Well, with the restraints of the imposed PG-13 rating, the best path was to tone down the horror elements and amp up the darkly comical elements which the screenplay by Jonathan Gems delivers in spades. Not only is it a damn funny movie from start to finish, it also manages to be highly intelligent, wickedly mean, and  greatly entertaining. Here, let me lay it out for you…

Martians know never to underestimate the power of the human male's libido.

Martians know never to underestimate the power of the human male’s libido.

It is brought to the attention of The President of the United States of America, that flying saucers have been spotted surrounding planning Earth originating from our neighboring planet, Mars. To the best we can translate, the Martians come in peace, but as soon as they land, they being disintegrating every living thing they come across with their awesome Martian hand cannons.  The remainder of the movie is a series of sight gags, action set pieces and nasty comedy as humanity fights for survival through a full  on Martian apocalypse.

“MARS ATTACKS!” is a blazingly dark, subversive, wacky sci-fi flick. Sure, it has it’s flaws, like a sluggish pace and a feeling that Tim Burton had a tough time juggling his impressive ensemble cast, but at the end of the day the movie comes off  just as anarchic as the Martians themselves. The film extends it’s middle finger towards societal conventions, and then has fun laughing maniacally as it exposes the shaky pillars that they all stand upon.  MARS ATTACKS! sets it’s sights on lampooning just about everyone.  Conservative military leaders and Wal-Mart families to liberal scientists and new agers, MARS ATTACKS! takes delight in taking them down a peg or two.

For the most part, every character is played as a buffoon,  a cartoon version of stock characters from B-movies past, contemporary leaders and everyday civilians.  The only folks not played for laughs are the handful of societal outcasts and misfits who are played as entirely human like the president’s daughter Taffy (Natalie Portman, channeling Winona Ryder’s Lydia Deetz from Beetlejuice), mild mannered New Mexican donut peddler, Richie (Lukas Haas) and, most impressively, Byron and Louise Williams (Jim Brown and the incomparable Ms. Pam Grier) as a blue collar, seperated African American couple trying to make ends meet and raise two young boys.  Louise drives a bus in Washington D.C. while Byron, once a Heavy weight Boxing Champion, now works in Vegas. They are by far the most honorable, loving and genuine characters in the movie and the ones you end up rooting for in the end. When everything else in the film is a lark, you want nothing more than a happy ending for this family.

But it’s not all touchy feely stuff,  let us not forget the fantastically depicted carnage. Holy shit, is this fun stuff to watch! Martians bowl through Easter Island statues, crush mobile homes with their colossal Martian manned robots,  and in my personal favorite gag, crush a troupe of cub scouts with the Washington Monument. See, you don’t get this kind of flesh pulping fun in crap like “Independence Day”. One of the aspects I admire about “MARS ATTACKS!” is how the Martians use the phrase “We Come in Peace” and “We are your friends” to gain our trust several times over in order to implement surprise attacks. Once, killing off several military leaders and countless innocent spectators and the second time killing off Congress. It worked so well int he past that later in the film we see Martians roaming a burning landscape, guns drawn still claiming that they come in peace and blasting anything living they come across while exclaiming “Do Not Run! We Are Your Friends!”   It’s a great joke, but it’s a goddamn chilling one as well.

mars attacks do not run

By film’s end, Earth is saved by a decent young man who went out of his way to save his Grandmother from her rest home which was under siege and, unbeknownst to them, unlock the secret weapon that will destroy the Martian threat and save what remains of planet Earth and it’s inhabitants.  It’s one of the most absurd deus ex machina’s I have ever witnessed in cinema, but in a campy, B-Movie send up such as this, it feels perfectly fitting.

Finally, when Earth is reduced to a smoldering husk of it’s former self, it’s the underdogs who survive. The blue collar workers, those who risk life and limb to save the helpless, and Tom Jones. And in this I see hope. Early in the film, before the Martians reveal their true intentions, Annette Bening’s character states to at her AA meeting that she thinks the Martians have come to save us. And in a way, by destroying the institutions that have always held us back from truly progressing, leaves us with a clean slate to start from. In a way, they’ve given us a second chance and left our world int he hands of the misfits. The survivors.

“MARS ATTACKS!” is one Hell of a flick.  Sharply intelligent, subversive and damn funny.  This is one film well deserving of it’s cult status. highly recommended!

Four and a Half out of Five Dumpster Nuggets

Stay Trashy!

-Root

31
Oct
13

Root’s Top 5 Tales from the Crypt

Tales

The Primal Root’s Dirty Thoughts

Greetings, Creeps! It’s your ol’ pal The Primal Root here, getting into the groove of another Halloween season. Recently Ms. Bootsie Kidd and I sat down to enjoy a marathon of the entire series run of HBO’s original series “Tales from the Crypt” based on the old and incredibly popular 1940-1950’s horror comic book series of the same name. The comics featured gruesome morality plays where evil doers always ended up of the gory end of karma’s comeuppance. The comic book series, including such title as “Tales from the Crypt” “The Vault of Horror,” “The Haunt of Fear,” “Two Fisted Tales” and “Sock SuspenStories” were censored into oblivion by the Comic book Code, which blamed the aforementioned comics as the prime contributors to our nation’s juvenile delinquency problem,  were all resurrected in the late 1980’s as an HBO series entitled “Tales from the Crypt”, which  adapted stories from every horror/action/thriller comic at some point or another. The impact of these comic books left a huge impression on the the talents who came together to breath new life and pay tribute to these once thriving graphic novels.  Filmmakers such as Robert Zemeckis, Richard Donner, Tom Holland, Mary Lambert, and countless others all were dying to take a stab at their favorite stories and turn them in twenty five minute long short films.  The show didn’t always knock it out of the park, but when it did, it was glorious. and, Hell, even their weakest episodes proved to be interesting, at the very list.

What I did find myself doing, however, was constantly saying “Oh, this is a great!” or “This is one of my favorites!” just about every other episode. That’s when I decided I really needed to sit down, do some soul searching and make a list of my Top Five Favorite Tales from the Crypt. It was a tough process whittling it down to only five, but I must admit, I was chomping at the bit to see which ones would make the CUT!  So, without any further a due, let’s see which Terror Tales made the final CUT!  AAARRRGGHHHAHAHAHAHAHAhahahahaha…

5) “People Who Live in Brass Hearses” dir. Russell Mulcahy (Season 5, Episode 5)

Who knew the ice cream truck industry was this depraved? Bill Paxtion plays a scumbag ex-con Billy DeLuca, who enlists the help of his emotionally stunted younger brother Virgil (Brad Douriff) to pull of a heist that will even the score with ice cream truck driver and excellent puppeteer,  Mr. Byrd (Michael Lerner) and Billy’s old boss  Mrs. Grafungar (Lainie Kazan) after they sent Billy to prison for stealing from the till.  When everything goes wrong  and their heist ends up in a blood bath leaving the brother’s with nothing, they must turn to desperate measures in order to get the money Billy feels he so richly deserves.  But, as per usual with the Tales from the Crypt formula, nothing is as it seems, and this sick puppy has a twist ending that comes somewhere out of left field and pegs you right in the gob.  This is among the strangest episodes of Tales from the Crypt in my book and the fact that it features such an excellent all-star cast makes it every bit stranger. Once our players are established the tale hits an insane pace that feels almost like an action story, but then the meat hooks start being gouged into people’s skulls and folks begin having their skulls chunked all over the dining room from well placed shotgun blasts. Trust me, even with all these gory goodies, the episode still manages to whack you over the head with it’s sleazy, disgusting and inspired conclusion. You’ll laugh in disbelief as soon as you pick your jaw up off the floor.

4) “Four-Sided Triangle” dir. Tom Holland (Season 2, Episode 9)

I’ve always been an admirer of down home horrors and “Four-Sided Triangle” is one fine example of horrific wages of dysfunctional rednecks. This episode is a small, intimate one featuring three players on a isolated farm. Old married couple, the limping, strict, and stern Luisa (Susan Blommaert), her lecherous, scheming and alarmingly horny husband George (Chelcie Ross),  and their young, voluptuous, sexy as Hell captive farm worker, Mary Jo, (Patricia Arquette). As you might expect, the story revolves around George trying to get his monkey tail down Mary Jo’s sweaty bloomers. In fact, the very first scene features George’s wide eyes peering into the chicken coup as Mary Jo bends over and writhes around as she sexily, yet innocently, collects eggs for her white trash captors all while displaying her ample bra-less bosom in a tiny tank top and her robust booty in a pair of well worn, skin tight pair of LEVI’S.  After a failed rape attempt in which Mary Jo gets the living snot beat out of her by George, she stumbles into the corn field where she hallucinates that a scarecrow reaches down to help her. Her brain must be batter, because she becomes obsessed with the scarecrow and declares loudly and frequently how much she loves him while singing songs about how she doesn’t care about chicken pot pie.  Anyhoo, Luisa is on to George’s lustful yearnings for Mary Jo, even going as far as to threaten him with performing the same procedure on him that they do when they want to change a bull into a steer.  As we all know, these threats typically fall on deaf ears when it comes to horny rednecks and “Four-Sided Triangle” culminates in a  conclusion that is both bloody and inescapable.  We can see where the story is headed but the tale is so well directed, staged and acted, you feel every bit of suspense and horror and the doomed “Four-Sided Triangle of the title meet their doom. This was among the first Tales from the Crypt episodes I ever saw and it made a lasting impression on me. And introduced me to Patricia Arquette, for which I am eternally grateful.

 

3) “What’s Cookin’ ” dir. Gilbert Adler (Season 4, Episode 6)  

One of the smartest, sickest, most wonderfully depraved episodes of Tales from the Crypt, “What’s Cookin” features a great comic turn from Superman himself, Christopher Reeve, as a struggling restaurant owner named Fred. See, his restaurant specializes in one thing and one thing only… Squid. Yes, squid. As you might expect, the restaurant he runs along with his wife Erma (Bess Armstrong, from My So-Called Life) is way overdue on their rent and hasn’t seen a customer in weeks, well, with the exception of officer Phil (Art LaFleur) who drops by for coffee from time to time. Their busboy, shady drifter, Gaston (Judd Nelson) keeps prodding Fred to try out his family’s classic barbecue recipe, but Fred won;t stand for it. The man’s got a dream and refuses to give up on it. That dream nearly ends when Chumley (played in a bit of truly inspired casting by Meatloaf), the landlord, shows up and evicts Ed for being over two months late on rent. The following morning, as Fred and Erma begin to shut down, Officer Phil comes in for coffee and eggs. To Erma’s astonishment, there are a half dozen fresh steaks in the fridge than Gaston brought in from his own, private supplier. Erma cooks this up for Phil, and just as he takes his first bit Gaston reveals to Fred just who is supplying the steaks. Yep, there in the meat freezer, to Fred’s dismay, hangs the corpse of Chumley. Soon, Fred and Erma’s Steakhouse is an overnight sensation with everyone in the city stopping by for a bite of their delicious, hand cut steaks. Only problem is, the police investigation into Chumley’s death is paving a pth right to Fred and Erma’s restaurant and as Fred’s feet get colder and colder Gaston begins plotting a double cross. “What’s Cookin'” is one very macabre and gruesome episode with a wicked streak of dark comedy. The performances are great and the final twist in the end, in typical Tales from the Crypt fashion, will leave you just as satisfied as one of Fred and Erma’s steaks. Is it wrong that this episode always makes me hungry?

 

2) Showdown dir. Richard Donner (Season 4 Episode 8)

Originally created as part of a three piece pilot for a rejected pitch to FOX for a “Two-Fisted Tales” spin off series, “Showdown” spins the tale of Billy Quintaine (Neil Giuntoli), a hardened, remorseless, legendary gunslinger who is cornered in a small desert town by an equally notable Texas Ranger Tom McMurdo (David Morse). After a facing off in a shoot out in which Billy murders Tom, he enters a nearby saloon for a drink, and after ingesting some snake oil from a traveling salesman, realizes he might not be as victories as it might seem. Showdown is one of the most poetic and beautiful episodes of Tales from the Crypt and manages to pack in a plethora of themes including the inevitable outcome and price of violence, the inevitability of death and our current irreverence for our own bloody past and re-marketing it as family friendly, tourist bullshit. Character actor Neil Giuntoli gives a hauntingly human performance as gunslinger Billy Quintaine, as he becomes slowly and painfully aware of his own fate we watch this cynical, callous, man breakdown before our very eyes reminding us that the most despicable  character is, at the end of the day, also a human being. “Showdown” is frightening in it’s implications on a far deeper level than it’s Tales from the Crypt brethren and deals with life and death on a far more thought provoking and meaningful level than the typical epsiode. All that said, “Showdown” ends on a moving, up lifting note leaving us with the hope that when we shed this mortal coil, when all these pretenses are dropped, perhaps we can all finally ride off into the sunset as brothers.

1) “Death of Some Salesman” dir. Gilbert Asler (Season 5, Episode 1)

Good God, this episode is revolting. It’s a buffet of loathsomeness where, as a viewer, you ill wonder if you should laugh, cringe, or go for the barf bag. “Death of Some Salesman” is the story of Judd Campbell (Ed Begley Jr.), a charismatic, sleazeball con-man posing as a cemetery plot salesman. The man is a gifted liar, using his skills to con old widows out of their inheritance and even to convince  nubile young waitresses to “drop their panties” by pitching love and escape. The man is a scum bag that you know will be paying for his trespass and the man get’s his rotten just desserts in the form of The Brackett family. By blind luck, Judd ends up knocking on the door of Ma and Pa Brackett (Both played by Tim Curry). Judd’s invited in and the sale seems to be going incredibly well as Pa and Ma Brackett head down to the basement to get Judd the money for two none existant cemetery plots. That is, until Judd discovers the decaying corpses of several dozen salesmen who previous had the misfortune of knocking on the Brackett’s door. Judd is captured with Pa Brackett intent on killing him, but Judd sees a way out if he can only convince Winona Brackett (also played by Tim Curry), Ma and Pa Brackett’s comically hideous daughter that he loves her. This is the pitch of Judd’s life as he must chock down the bile and try to convince the skeptical Winona that he does, in fact, love her. the lengths of which Judd must prove is unwavering devotion is extrodinarily and will have you groaning and laughing on your couch. Tim curry gives the performance for the ages as The Brackett family, managing to blend mirth and menace in equal amounts. And the always game Ed Begley Junior should have received the medal of valor for this things.  “Death of Some Salesman” encompasses everything I love about the old E.C. Comics horror anthologies.  Sick humor, nasty violence, a damn fine twist ending, and a fantastic morality tale. Curry and Begley Jr. who are performing what is basically a two man show, give such phenomenal performances it practically MAKES the episode.  It’s a stomach churning, hysterical tale which taught me at a young age that deceivers and liars will invariably find themselves in a world of hurt.

Well, kiddies, there you have it! My Five Favorite Tales from the Crypt! A mixed bag, but a damn good time, if I do say so myself.   Feel free to let us, here at The Trash Cinema Collective, know what your favorite episodes are! Have a Trashy Halloween!

-Root

15
Sep
13

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1994)

Texas-Chainsaw-Massacre-The-Next-Generation-1994

a Primal Root written review

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre family dynamic has certainly changed over the years and decades since they first made their teenager  barbecuing debut back in Tobe Hooper’s 1974 cinematic milestone.  They were originally a disorganized banned of blood thirsty, cannibalistic psychopaths trying to stay alive after being put out of jobs over at the slaughterhouse. In Hooper’s 1986 sequel “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre part 2” the clan had adjusted to Reagan era politics, yuppie America and capitalism and even managed to run their own award winning barbecue catering company. By 19990’s “Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre part III” they had gone back to the part of Texas that looks like Los Angeles where the family looks to be expanding a bit and then, by the mid 90’s, Kim Henkel, the was part of the creative force behind the original, steps forward with possibly the strangest and most loathed entry in the entire franchise.

The movie centers on a young, bespectacled girl named Jenny (Bridget Jones herself, Renee Zellweger) who meet as she is getting ready for prom night before being unceremoniously assaulted and nearly raped by her Stepfather. This is in the first five minutes of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation and we never see Jenny’s Stepfather or oblivious Mother again.  It’s an unnerving note to begin such a story on and has you feeling apprehensive from the get-go. You get that feeling this is to set up that moment where you have that revelation while Leatherface is biting some nubile teenage girl’s well manicured fingers from her hands and another family member smears shit all over his upper torso and you think to yourself, “Ya know, this family isn’t all that different from any other!” Makes you think, don’t it?

Renee Zellweger harnessing her inner Lisa Loeb.

Renee Zellweger harnessing her inner Lisa Loeb.

Well, before anyone gets the chance to twerk to “You Look Wonderful Tonight”, Jenny and three of her fellow prom goers end up lost down a backwoods dirt road after a hit and run fender bender. “People don;t know how to build roads!” one idiotic piece of chainsaw fodder declares as they motor towards their meat hook hanging destinies. Then…THEY GET IN ANOTHER WRECK! One that puts their car out of commission and leaves the driver of the other vehicle unconscious laying in the dirt. Jenny and two of her fellow airheaded teens head off into the night to find help while Jenny’s date stays behind to make sure the young man steadily bleeding to death in the mud isn’t ripped apart by voracious raccoons or something.

After a mile of walking and none stop whining, Jenny and her buddies come across the mobile home offices of Darla, who runs a construction business. She seems friendly enough and enjoys flashing her ample bosoms at anyone who throws a rock through her window (…the Hell?) and phones someone to go check on the wreck out in the middle of nowhere and give these kids a “lift.” This mysterious someone is Vilmer Slaughter, a tow truck driving, greased up lunatic with a remote controlled mechanical leg and penchant for screaming like a frat boy at the homecoming game. Vilmer is brought to life by a scene stealing and completely convincing Matthew McConaughey, and watching him play beside Zellweger it’s clear to see where the real talent in Texas resides.

Old Fashioned Texas Nostril Flare Fighting!

Old Fashioned Texas Nostril Flare Fighting!

BUT I DIGRESS! Vilmer shows up to the scene of the crash, kills the coma boy on the ground and proceeds to chase down Jenny’s lover boy and repeatedly run over him, grinding his quivering teenage corpse into bloody, raw, hamburger meat beneath his Goodyears while listening to 90’s “Alternative” rock on the tape deck and howling like a hyena on PCP.  Sorry, but this I fell in love with Vilmer immediately. We need to get this guy and Chop-Top from The Texas Chainsaw MAssacre part 2 together and make a sitcom.

Well, Jenny ends up walking back to the scene of the accident to meet her beau and finds a whole lot of nothing, at which point, she decides to sit in the dirt until her two other pals, who have gone off in a different direction, end up dead and her character becomes relevant again.  While she sits the next fifteen to twenty minutes of the film out, her two friends manage to make their way to the home of these lunatics and run into a camouflage wearing, mullet headed Leatherface who screams like a woman whose teacup chihuahua just got run over by a lawnmower for the majority of his screen time. It gives the impression that Leatherface is just as terrified of these kids as they are of him and, in fact, I have a feeling that might just be the case. Either that or these are psychotic screams of redneck frustration. I suppose you can draw your own conclusions.  All I know is that later, once  all the protagonist men have had their skulls bashed in and Jenny’s been thoroughly chased about the Chainsaw clan’s property and is finally tossed into the dining room in a brand new, and very sparkly, evening dress, Leatherface dresses up in drag and, dare I say it, looks rather lovely.  In brain damaged, blood thirsty redneck wearing a hideous female suit of skin kind of way…

"I'd fuck me."

“I’d fuck me.”

The evening devolves into a dinner scene of near epic surrealism as Vilmer continues to go nuts over his take out pizza, dry humping his sister, Darla, and pouring lighter fluid on his captives and then setting them on fire only to stomp their heads into pickled relish all over the dining room floor. And that’s the moderately normal stuff happening in this house!  The family is visited by some mysterious shadow organization manager who apparently has the Chainsaw clan on their payroll as merchants of fear. The clan is paid to pick up and terrorize unsuspecting young people and, from what I can gather, allow the leaders of this shadow group lick ever bead of sweat and smudge of filth off the captives face while showcasing their own strange abdominal mutilations. When did was this deal struck between the carnage minded Chainsaw clan and some strange Illuminati style group that secretly controls the destiny of society? I have no clue. but it is a strange and intriguing idea to stick within a damn Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie. Just don;t expect an explanation, ’cause there isn’t one coming.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation reaches it’s absurd climax as Jenny escapes with Vilmer and Leatherface in a lovely black satin robe, in hot pursuit. Jenny manages to ruin an elderly couples vacation by putting them in the middle of the action and the chase is cut short by a crop dusting airplane. Yeah, if you want to see the visual representation of the term “cluster fuck” this would suffice.

Dear Ms. Zellweger, could you please wear this dress to The Oscars one year? Love, -The Primal Root

Dear Ms. Zellweger, could you please wear this dress to The Oscars one year? Love, – Root

All in all, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation was a bold attempt to do something a little different with a very stale franchise.  In their attempt to infuse the proceedings with a healthy dose of mid 1990’s alternative rock, MTV culture (every chase seen is punctuated by some shitty alt rock/grunge track) and strange conspiracy theories (The Chainsaw clan working for the government?) it feels as if this entry in the Texas Chainsaw franchise kind of get lost under the weight of it’s own absurdity. There’s no consistent tone, only one strange,m off the wall set piece after another. And, although, McConaughey does his damnedest to make this thing lively as Hell, and he does pretty much run the show in this entry even if Zellweger never rises up the remarkable level of both Marilyn Burns and Caroline Williams in the first two entries of the series, the movie itself never really takes off.  It has all the elements it needs to be a great Texas Chainsaw Massacre flick, but at some point it starts puttering and finally just stalls out and drifts into the ditch.

I give this flick TWO Dumpster Nuggets out of FIVE!

Stay Trashy!

-Root

25
Aug
13

You’re Next (2011) Warm Blood & Rich People…plus a short essay on slasher cinema history

you're next poster

a Primal Root written review

The late 60’s  through the 1970’s were the golden years for American horror cinema. Not only were young, truly talented filmmakers delivering inspired pieces of art, they gave cinema indispensable time capsules of the days troubled times and the lasting, horrifying impact of our actions on not only the inhabitants of our nation, but the world. films such as Tobe Hooper’s “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre”, George A. Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead”, Wes Craven’s “Last House on the Left”, John Carpenter’s “Halloween” and many others illustrated , the brutality both at home and abroad as peaceful protesters were gunned down by our National Guard in cold blood, blacks in our country were beaten and murdered by our police officials, our brothers, sons,  husbands and Fathers were being drafted to serve in a wildly unpopular war and the hippie movement had given way to disillusionment in the wake of Charles Manson and Free Love regrettably spread venereal disease like wild fire through the loins of our nation.  Independent horror cinema had never been more vital, more important in our country as it was during this era.  Horror was the purest illustration, the unfettered subconscious, of our society.

Soon the 1980’s were ushered in and movies such as “Halloween” and “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre”, which had proven incredibly profitable, gave way to a sub-genre known as the “slasher” genre, which gained a foothold in this decade and squeezed as much blood out of the concept as  possible. John Carpenter’s Halloween became a franchise, Sean Cunningham’s “Friday the 13th” spawned a series of films repeating the same formula for over 20 years, and Wes Craven delivered a trail blazing, brilliant, post Vietnam horror film in “A Nightmare on Elm Street”, but it was soon watered down into a franchisable commodity.  Slasher horror films became a staple of the decade as they proved to be resoundingly profitable for studios, and sequels that regurgitated the story on repeat could be relied upon to turn a profit. It was fun while it lasted, and some pretty damn great slasher films were produced during the decade, but   gradually, a form of horror that had once shown us how fucked up our system was, had been yuppified and sold out. The films became less of a societal rorshach test, and more like a series of Saturday morning cartoon adventure. Hell, it was the 1980’s in a capitalist country! As George “Buck” Flowers said in John Carpenter’s 1988 science fiction masterpiece, “They Live”, “We all sell out every day, might as well be on the winning team!”

But by the end of 80’s the slasher formula had grown as stale as a year old box of opened and then forgotten about croutons in the pantry, and by 1990, many folks deemed the sub-genre dead.

BUT THEN CAME POST-MODERN SLASHERS!  Ushered in by Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, and to a much greater extent, his “Scream” franchise, which replaced the usual gang of teenagers ready for the chop, with teenage characters who have been raised in the VHS generation and are completely aware of the slasher formula, it’s cliches and it’s caveats and are loaded up and ready with quips, jokes and references to horror movies history!  The resurrection of the slasher genre was given life thanks to the ever increasing knowledge and awareness of the audience who had spent their youths combing through video rental stores and boning up on their horror movie knowledge.  Two decades earlier, it was Leatherface in Tobe Hooper’s “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” who had been savaging the cinema while wearing the remains of his victims. Now, in the 1990’s, the filmmakers were the one’s wearing the remains of the genre’s past and exploiting it as a joke and laughing at the power these movies once, and to the viewer willing to watch without a jaded eye, still contain.

But, there are only so many in-jokes you can make about the genre before Post Modern gives way to straight up spoofs like the Wayans Brother’s brain dead “Scary Movie” franchise.  Oh, what has post modern horror wrought?

In the mid 2000’s, after the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, and the War in Iraq marched on with seemingly no plan and no end in sight under the George W. Bush administration, the slasher genre got a heavy, dark, deeply mean spirited and cynical makeover in the form of James Wan’s “Saw” franchise, Now audiences were thrust into morality games where victims and victimizers alike were suddenly forced to endure and try to survive brutal and disturbingly painful forms of grueling torture in order to survive and are expected to walk away having learned some kind of life affirming message. Assumign they survive at all. (Spoiler: most folks end up splattered across the linoleum.)  Also, taking hold in this decade, was a sudden popularity in remakes. Classic horror films like Tobe Hooper’s “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” and George A. Romero’s “Dawn of the Dead” were open game for modern retelling and face lifts. These proved successful as money making ventures since the titles were already well established and could be relied on to turn a profit, but many folks took this as a sign that “Hollywood” had, indeed, run out of ideas and that set of balls they once relied on to give up and coming filmmakers a chance at showcasing original product, had now finally been cut cleen and tossed int he waste basket. The studio now only seemed interested in “sure things.”  Young filmmakers who came of age during the slasher heydays were now creating their own slasher movies…but more times than not, for cynical laughs and nastiness rather than genuine scares or fun.

With the exception of a few sporadic, slasher films produced independently, with varying degrees of success, the blood in the veins of a once extremely popular genre has been cooling down and slowing to a coagulated halt as it’s once thriving body withers up and passed away. Them’s the brakes.  I had very little hope in ever seeing a slasher film worth a piss again on the big screen.

Death Zoo 2000

Death Zoo 2000

And then I saw “You’re Next”.

A kind of home invasion slasher film that’s done the impossible and taken a tired formula, one that’s been played to death, and made it feel fun, interesting and new again. Honestly, I haven’t had this much fun watching a slasher film in…well…YEARS! I know there’s been quite a bit of hype surrounding this flick over the last couple years since it’s premiere in 2011, and although I do feel the praise this thing has gotten is, indeed, a bit overblown, “You’re Next” does a dandy of a job showing it’s audience a good time.

The premise comes across as fairly standard. A very wealthy family reunites for a weekend at their secluded mansion in the middle of winter. It;s cold, it’s snowy, and if a band of crossbow shooting, axe wielding maniacs happen upon their house, they are more or less trapped and/or completely fucked.    One thing I greatly appreciate about “You’re Next’ is that the family and other assorted characters are written as actual human beings, characters and players in the drama at hand rather than just jokes and punch lines ready to be cashed in.  Sure, some situations come off as comical, but never because the characters are anything more than flawed, damaged and mistake making human beings. Things are tense before any psychopaths even show up! Hell, I haven;t seen a dinner scene this tense and uncomfortable since The Sawyer clan sat down to dinner in “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.” (No, Tobe Hooper’s not paying me to drop that title as many times as possible in this review) The family dynamic feels like a bomb just waiting to go off as it seems some siblings cannot be near one another for more than five seconds without anger and resentment rising and an argument breaking out.  One cannot help but feel bad for Erin (Sharni Vinson) who is there to meet and spend some quality time getting to know her boyfriend Crispan’s (AJ Bowen) family.

Things go from awkward to “Aw, fuck” as family dinner is violently interrupted and suddenly everyone is scrambling to survive. To the amazed wonderment of the family, Erin seems to have the survival instincts of a wild cat and, once the rich families plans are all proven to be disastrously moot, takes control of the situation and ends up being on the the very best, if not the quintessential Final Girl.   Rarely in the slasher genre have I ever witness a final girl so aptly and efficiently tackle with her antagonists.  She turns her aggressors into bumbling idiots over the course of the film and it drew much appropriate applause form myself and the rest of the audience.  This is no screaming, lame-o final girl running around in her panties and hoping to fight the killer to a draw. no, Erin is out for blood and she’s honestly one of the greatest assets “You’re Next” has.  Many folks have labeled “you;re Next” a “feminist” horror film.  Hell, I thought most horror films, especially slashers, featured strong female protagonists besting and hulking male antagonist. By definition, isn’t the majority of slasher films feminist?

What a woman will go through for a decent boyfriend.

What a woman will go through for a decent boyfriend.

But, I digress, “You’re Next” also delivers some excellently executed gore set pieces that seem to escalate as the films closes in on it’s graphically violent, over the top conclusion.  People meet their end in brutal, uncompromising fashions at the end of axes, arrows, knives, screwdrivers and countless assorted implements of destruction and kitchen accoutrement.  Those looking for and carnage candy will not leave disappointed.  Another thing I was impressed with was the film;s dark, yet fitting, sense of humor. Unlike other recent slasher films that slowly devolve into “Not Another Teen Slasher Film” over the top, slapstick gore and gags (Hatchet & Hatchet II, I’m looking at you.) or post modern slashers that draw laughs from our knowledge of horror film history,  “You’re Next” keeps things serious and to the point, but manages to draw comedy from it’s bloody situations. The jokes are dark, but the levity is appreciated and doesn’t feel out of place.

On the negative side, once the shit hits the proverbial fan,  “You’re Next” invokes some of the most annoying shaky cam I’ve ever endured. I;m not exactly sure if I got used to it after it’s initial use or if the filmmakers decided it was only necessary for this one moment of panic, but my God, it was distracting and pointless. The actors were doing a fine enough job portraying their shock and horror at what was occurring, the last thing we needed was some guy shaking the camera around like he’s being mauled by a grizzly bear during the shoot.  Seriously, have some faith in your on screen talent. I wanted to watch their performances and not gain a migraine headache for my efforts. Also, sadly, the central question underlying the whole flick is pretty easy to figure out. Boots and I knew what was up as soon as arrows began flying. But, in the end, this didnt diminish my enjoyment of the film at all.

meow.

meow.

Any other gripes? Not really. “You’re Next” is a shockingly solid piece of slasher entertainment in a genre I thought had been bled totally dry by 80’s over exposure, 90’s postmodernism, and new millennial remake dookie splatter.  It was treat being able to watch a fun, TRULY old school style slasher film with an appreciative, loud, and lively audience just as into it as myself and Bootsie Kidd were. Not nearly as revolutionary as many critics and supporters have hyped it up to be, “You’re Next” is still one of the very best times I’ve had seeing a down and dirty slasher flick in ages. It has a keen awareness of the genre itself  which allows the filmmakers a chance to play around with our expectations, passes itself well, contains serviceable performances and has one very cool throwback synth driven score. Almost sounds like John Carpenter himself could have done the music for this sucker.

This is not the second coming, but it is proof that you can play with slasher formula without turning it all into some masturbatory joke. “You’re Next” has given me a smidgen of hope for a long flailing sub genre of horror and I am hoping filmmakers interested in working within it take note of what “You;re Next” has done right. Because there are few roller coaster rides as fun as a fun, well executed slasher film with the right audience. I only wish I got to take the ride more often.

If you’ve ever held even a drop of affection for the slasher genre in your horror nerd heart, you owe it to yourself to see “You’re Next.”

4 out of 5 Dumpster Nuggets

Stay Trashy!

-Root

20
Jan
13

(NSFW) Gore Whore: Deadly Tricks and Happy Horses

The Final Chapter

The Final Chapter

a Primal Root review

Well, I suppose I’ve kept you all waiting long enough.  It’s time for The Primal Root to take a look at the final installment in Hugh Gallagher’s legendary straight to VHS Gore trilogy. We’ve covered ‘Goregasm’, where a perpetually topless, large breasted woman was paid to spin in circles and then kill her clients providing them with the “Ultimate Climax”. We’ve checked out ‘Goreotica’, the story of a jewel heist gone wrong, necrophilia and the dead body for AIDS patients black market…but now, now it is time for us to delve into what might be Hugh’s most high concept endeavor of the entire trilogy.  His ‘Return of the King’, if you will. That’s right, it is time to get elbows deep and take a deep, appreciative whiff of 1994’s  “Gore Whore!”

As out tape gets rolling we are treated to some slow moving credits featuring some Atari 2800 level lettering placed over a slide show of turn of the century bondage images which have a large black, spinning dildo superimposed over them. Believe it, or not, this giant black dildo actually plays a major role in the story which is about to unfold. The credits end as the black cock dildo shoots a gob of digitized green cum out the tip and onto the screen spelling out “GORE WHORE”. And so our fantastic journey into the filthy world of undead prostitution, science run amok, peeping on co-workers in the shower and “true love” begins.

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“Gore Whore” starts off right in the middle of the action as some greasy fellow in a brown leather jacket flops down on crusty, crab infested mattress in a room with blank, white, walls as he turns his eyes to his prostitute friend who begin doing a wonderful interpretive dace to a mix tape she had made and queued up specifically for just such a magic moment.

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And what a moment it is! As prostitute Dawn Day begins sashaying across the jizz stained floors of her low rent apartment stripping off articles of clothing until there’s nothing between her and her client except a thick batch of pubes and a pair of cross-eyed tits courtesy of a  birth defect I was also cursed with growing up called, Pectus excavatum.  Once it became life threatening it was something I had surgery to correct, but it looks like our leading lady Ms. Audrey Street, decided to live with the deformity and all I can say is more power to her! It certainly gives her character, who is required to get naked in just about every damn scene she appears in, a  very strange and unsettling vibe that you just can’t get with the effects a shoe string budget, straight to video production can buy. It’s a deformity that can be very awkward and I give Audrey kudos for having the balls to flaunt what she’s got. I doubt I would have been so brave when I had my concave chest.

Soon Dawn is tying her client down, warning him that condoms won;t be enough to protect him (she must have some very potent pussy grime), proceeds to unzip his fly, whip out his little John and bits that sucker off with a single chomp! He screams bloody murder as raspberry syrup his the bedroom wall and Dawn begins gnawing on his neck. Dawn gnaws for a second or two before he client’s head comes tumbling off just as her mix tape comes to an end and we fade to black. That girls got some serious chompers on her, good god!

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Fade up and we’re inside a dimly lit bar where we are introduced to our hero, Chase (played by Brady Debussey, the same guy who played the necrophiliac in a cape who had AIDS in Goreotica), who looks to be spending his day emptying various bottles of whiskey and napping on the bar room pool table wile dreaming of a blonde lady holding a cleaner shaven version of himself in a poorly lit gazeebo.  See, Chase lost the love of his life, Susan to cancer a year or so ago, lost his job as the town’s head detective and now just lounges around on gaming equipment completely shitfaced.  This is our hero, ladies and gents.

Thankfully, mad scientist Witman shows up to hire Jim Beam, er, Chase to investigate his missing lab assistant who stole an experimental serum of his. And surprise, surprise, the lab assistant in question is none other than Dawn Day, the scrawny, filthy haired hooker from earlier! Witman offers a Chase money up front to investigate and retrieve this serum but Chase isn’t so quick to take up the proposition for some reason. Chase, buddy, you’re stinking drunk, broke and unemployed, just take the fucking money and look into this shit. Who cares if it seems like a waste of time! What are you thinking? Think of all the booze that money’ll buy!

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Yeah, looks like hero material to me.

Chase begins his investigation by sitting on the side of a dirt road until Dawn happens to drive by. Chase gives chase but not before we have a completely unrelated cutaway to a very content and happy looking horse just chilling out nearby watching our gumshoe go to work.  The horse has nothing to do with the story and never appears again and is the only genuinely happy character in the video.

Hello there!

Hello there!

Chase follows Dawn to a tall, blonde, married Catholic woman’s house. The character  with wide, creepy, haunting eyes, long blonde hair, nice, bountiful breasts and a well groomed shaft alley is only known in the script as “Swingin’ House Wife” . Chase peeps through the window as the two ladies begin swapping spit that I can only imagine smells like stale Arby’s and makes the observation “A LESBIAN LAB ASSISTANT!” out loud so the idiocy of the statement is allowed to sink in with the viewing audience before he continues thinking out loud and tells us his next move before rushing off to his dented, sagging, piece of crap Chevy, “While she’s here munching carpet, I better go over to her house and investigate!” the man was the Dick Tracy of his time and place.

"Swingin' House Wife" is one spooky chick.

It’s as if “Swingin’ House Wife” is staring into my soul.

Swingin’ House Wife has called Dawn over to make out, get totally naked, discuss how her husband doesn’t get her needs or desires and then get ruthlessly, and hilariously butchered on the living room carpet. ‘Swingin’ House Wife’ seems more concerned with keeping the strawberry syrup out of her eyes and hair than she does trying to prevent her own gruesome death by filleting as Dawn flings her butcher knife around in the air as if it’s not making contact with anything. Eventually the massacre ends, bright red, sticky syrup covers nearby scripture, the naked dead body of “Swingin’ House Wife” and Dawn herself, who quickly begins the daunting task of cleaning the mess  up with her tongue.

Over at Dawn’s place, which it’s interior is inexplicably covered in vines,  Chase discovers a fridge containing nothing but several large containers of blood. how does he know it’s blood? The moron actual sinks his digits in there and then licks the crimson liquid of his sausage fingers. “Blood!” Chase exclaims. “A lesbian lab assistant that drinks blood!” The plot thickens and Chase has now orally contracted hepatitis C.  His work here is done.

The Paternity Test concludes, Ronald McDonald, you are the Father!

The Paternity Test concludes, Ronald McDonald, you are the Father!

Chase heads over to the local police department where upon entering we see the only officers on duty are the one officer deep asleep behind his desk and another who is HEY! It’s the pint sized and gorgeous D’Lana Tunnell playing the adorable, cynical, poorly named deputy Pat who has a huge helmet of Manic Panic red colored hair and a not so great grip on her lines, but she does try, and that’s gotta count for something. Chase asks Pat for a bit of help researching Dawn Day in the computer data base, but Pat is reluctant. She throws out an exposition guilt trip about Chase being a sad bastard and a disgrace to the department ever since his wife died (yeah, boo-hoo, you cry baby!) and it’s his own fault for getting kicked off the force and there’s no way she’s helping him out! Chase whips out a crisp, clean $5 bill and Pat is suddenly eager to please! And Chase is the disgrace to the local police department? Between sleeping beauty by the front door and the rockabilly pinup model deputy, this place has a pretty low bar set for disgracefulness.

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“Prostitution, Prostitution, Prostitution.” Pat exlaims as she reads from her computer monitor what sounds like the lyrics to a pop song. “Oh, and she shouldn’t be hard to track down. She’s dead.” Ah, thanks Pat, I guess this case is closed. WAIT! She’s dead? Well this just doesn’t make sense! How can a dead woman go to a lonely housewife’s house and tickle her zesty love taco with her slobbery oral love slug? Can Chase follow the clues and solve the riddle? He tracks Dawn down to her final resting place where she happens to be lounging about naked in the mid afternoon sun. Chase watches through his binoculars and Dawn begins filling a syringe with a batch of neon green Re-animator style goo, snaps on the handy , dandy, giant black dildo attachment, runs the it between her tits, down her stomach and into her clam strip with a *GOOSH* noise that really sells the effect.

It's cock o'clock somewhere!

It’s cock o’clock somewhere!

Chase stumbles back, catching Dawn’s attention. She finishes depositing her green love sauce into her holiest of hollies, slips on her black nightie, deposits her black dildo, green goo kit into an open grave and departs leaving Chase alone to check out the cemetery.   As one might imagine, this leads to a scuffle with a nearby zombie decked out from head to toe in some little tan plaid number. Chase and the zombie partake in classic Filipino crotch fighting as the two grab one anthers shoulders and vigorously thrust areas towards each other. Before you know it, the zombie is on Chase’s car hood as he tries to escape at top speed. To get rid of this pesky undeader, as opposed to stomping on the break and making the zombie go flying, Chas e instead rams his car into a parked automobile whose occupant just so happens to be, and I’m not kidding, masturbating to a copy of Swank magazine he had tucked under his shirt. Who are these people? What town IS this?  The total carnage results in the zombie falling into a creek and the innocent bystander losing his Johnson. Tragic.

Ensemble by Andre 3000

Ensemble by Andre 3000

But the battle doesn’t end there! Turns out there’s a hidden lady zombie in chase’s backseat which behind munching his neck! Chase continues driving at top speed, as opposed to pressing the brake and making a far less deadly situation for himself, goes over a small hill in slow motion, before wreaking his car in a two foot deep gutter. With his car, it’s believable.  Chase stumbles out of the vehicle as the blonde, lady zombie in the backseat has vanished, falls on his face only to look up and see Dawn Day approaching.  She belittles our alcoholic hero and gives us her M.O.  She’s tired of being subservient to wimpy men who buy her company and now it’s time to turn the tables! see, she’s undead, must feast on blood to survive and inject herself with Witman’s green goo pussily once a week. See, she is the undead hooker queen of this dung heap of a town and she’s turning all her tricks into and undead army! THE GORE WHORE HAS RISEN! ALL HAIL THE ZOMBIE HOOKER QUEEN!

Yeah, I'd say you botched this Bris, mister.

Yeah, I’d say you botched this Bris, mister.

Dawn leaves Chase to be killed by a decapitated head and body team brought to vivid life thanks to a hole in the ground and a blue screen effect that puts George Lucas and his Star Wars prequels to shame.  In a bit of comedy gold, the reanimated body kicks Chase around a little which in the cutaways make it look like the body is doing some manner of the hustle. Chase impales the body before giving the green foam spewing severed head a little speech about once being the kicker on his high school varsity football team before punting the head into a nearby lake. While soaring through the air the severed head cries “FUUUUUUUUUCK!” adding the cherry to the top of this it’s-so-bad-it’s-bad-but-I-can’t-stop-watching- sundae of awesome.

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It’s been a long day and Chase is pretty fucking beat. He makes his way to Pat’s house where she’s in the middle of one of those extended “scrub your tits until they are gleaming” showers where he breasts encounter about an entire Irish springs bar of soap worth of lather. Ladies, is this generally what you do in the shower? Rub your boobs with soap for thirty minutes at a time eatin’ up all the dang hot water? Low budget Trash Cinema is one of the few genres brave enough to graphically illustrate this plight. What a brave, and selfless move on the part of these filmmakers.

But I digress, Chase breaks into Pat’s house, peeps in on her showering for about ten minutes as he hallucinates that the well built, brightly red headed and short D’Lara Tunnell is his tall, lanky, blonde dead wife. Hey, if you have actresses willing to get totally naked for your artistic piece of cinema, you might as well use them! So we are treated to two lovely women lathering their breasts, buns and rinsing out their hair for what feels like a quarter of the movie. Note, I am not complaining. This is Trash Cinema at it’s finest, folks. I rent these kind of movies almost specifically for these scenes!

I guess she couldn't afford a shower curtain one a police officer's salary. Times are tough...

I guess she couldn’t afford a shower curtain one a police officer’s salary. Times are tough…

Pat steps out of the shower without feeling the need to cover up despite being shocked that a drunken, bleeding, hallucinating mad man is standing in the doorway with a protruding erection in his trousers and drool dripping from his bottom lip and unenthusiastically asks “Chase, what are you doing here?” as chase tumbles to the floor and Hugh Gallagher composes the most beautifully orchestrated shot of his entire career as he provides the viewer with both a magnificent close up shot of the lovely D’Lara Tunnell’s rump AND Chase’s hysterical pratfall.  Gang, this is why I go to the movies.

Why The Primal Root loves movies summed up in one single brilliant shot.

Why The Primal Root loves movies summed up in one single brilliant shot.

When Chase comes to he talks Pat into helping him out in his investigation. She agrees only after, again, telling him what a fucking loser he is for still mourning the death of his wife. Chase gives a dark, sad speech about Heaven and Hell and how Hell is right here and now on planet Earth. It’s not a bad little speech for a flick that’s spent most of it’s running time telling us things we’ve already gathered from the action on screen, but it does kind of his me directly in that little spot in my heart where that emo little teeny bopper “woe is me” self resides. Life can certainly be shitty sometimes, but as we’ve learned from ‘Gore Whore” it’s nothing a bit of self medication can’t solve.

Chase and Pat head out into the hot steamy Bum Fuck Egypt night to follow up on a hunch that Dawn will be at a local watering holw where her favorite band and customers “The Third Graders” will be playing. Cut to- a deserted sports bar where three middle aged guys in colorful wigs jerk off with their instruments and Dawn day performs another one of her captivating dance numbers. The Third Graders make it through one who song before hoping off stage in the hopes of purchasing a piece of tail from Ms. Day. Unfortunately for them, she has other plans, as she whips out her Rosco and pops a cap in all their asses. If only this could have happened to Nickelback.

Chase and Pat, he's a boozy private dick with nothing left to lose, she's a feisty, small time cop, together THEY'RE DYNAMITE! Coming this Spring to FOX!

Chase and Pat, he’s a boozy private dick with nothing left to lose, she’s a feisty, small time cop, together THEY’RE DYNAMITE! Coming this Spring to FOX!

This prompts Chase and Pat to rush in looking like one of the coolest gutter scum, down trodden television cop duos ever devised! Pat pulls her gun and points it at Dawn’s greasy mug as Chase tells her to shoot. “NO!” Pat screams. “She’s unarmed!” Chase, along with the entire viewing audience roll our eyes and scream along with “JUST SHOOT THE UNDEAD WHORE, YOU IDIOT!” At this point Pat lowers her weapon and puts all her attention on her debate about shooting Dawn thereby giving Ms. Day the advantage. Day quickly squirts some green goo up one of the dead “musician’s” asses where he springs to life and takes a whopper of a bite out of Pat’s lovely little neck. Poor, sweet, Pat, you were a mean person who had trouble empathizing at all with anyone and you were a horrible police officer. But what you lacked in humanity you made up for with ample nudity. Farewell, Officer Pat. you were one fetching, wasted character.

Chase doesn’t make the same mistake. He quickly pries Pat’s firearm from her cold, dead hands and pops a fiery load into Dawn Day dropping her to the sports bar floor.  Chase grabs Witman’s glowing green, ass and pussy ooze formula and rushes over to the the mad scientist’s lair to deliver the good, get his money and ask a few questions as to what in the Hell he just had to deal with. And Chase doesn’t have to waste any time getting over there because that sports bar where that shooting massacre just occurred was LITERALLY EMPTY. Sure, there was a concert taking place, sure they were open for business, but there was not a soul there beyond the band and Dawn Day.  This makes for an ideal getaway for Chase!

Chase arrives to find Witman waiting for him and by this point Chase has had a while to stew and seems kind of living as he begins cross examining the scientist. Winston remains silent and jauntily escapes into his plywood lair where Chase follows. On a wooden table there lays a fresh corse covered by a blood stained white sheet as Witman explains his principals and that he created his re-animation formula quite by accident. He performed several tests on animals before getting his hands on Dawn Day, bringing her back to life, and making her his undead sex slave.  It;s all shit we already pretty much gathered over the course of the film but now Witman sets it all in stone. It’s at this point that Dawn Day swoops in from out of nowhere, drop kicks Chase to the ground and attacks Witman, bashing his noggin repeatedly into the floor killing him. chase comes to, grabs an aluminum baseball bat and knocks that Gore Whores mother fucking block off! Her head goes sailing through the lab and crashes against the cement wall with a a pleasant, warm, *squish* sound and leaving a spatter of blood and grey matter on the wall.

MY DOCKERS!

MY DOCKERS!

It’s a triumphant moment to be sure, but this flick has yet to reach it’s climax. Chase drags the lifeless body of Dr. Witman down to the cellar and in full, agonizing detail we are treated to Chase sticking a black dildo full of green life cum up his ass to revive him. At this point, all of us watching ‘Gore Whore” know how the procedure works. Then again, maybe they had five minutes of time they just HAD to fill.  Witman awake to find Chase standing over him with an axe. Chase looks him straigh in the eye and says “Pain is something you’ve gotta live with.” before hacking both of Witman’s legs off in the most hysterical scene of the entire film. I believe it’s the performance of Paul Woodard as Witman that gives this scene the levity it has.He channels Jim Carrey at his spastic best in his reaction to having both his legs unceremoniously removed.  It really is unfathomably precious, especially once Chase goes to the top of the stairs, grabs something off camera and yells to Witman, “HEADS UP!” and tosses Dawn’s chomping severed head at him. It’s one of those scenes you must see to truly understand.

And then Chase shaves and  reanimates his wife’s rotted old cadaver so they can make out again thereby ending the film on a rip off of Pet Semetary’s conclusion. That’s pretty fucking weak and far too obvious. I still think it would have been really disturbing if Chase found his wife in Witman’s basement, reanimated and being used as a fuck slave thereby making chase go totally insane and giving him a bit more of a reason to go all Jigsaw on Witman.  But, who am I to mess with Hugh Gallagher’s creative vision.

Insert "Getting Head" joke here.

Insert “Getting Head” joke here.

“Gore Whore” is fucking ridiculous from the very first frame to the very last credit. Hugh Gallagher was going for broke on this flick and it shows. From the collection of goofball effects, to the eclectic cast of characters, over the top concept, wall to wall use of naked women, even the added production value of a single, unmotivated shot of a horse chilling out makes this a video store find like none other. I guarantee you, you will never find another film that matches the gonzo, low budget trashiness of “Gore Whore.”

Hell, that could be said about the Gore Trilogy as whole! It’s a three part series of degenerate, disturbed, sleazy ideas made all the trashier by the production values and VHS format. They do have some very creative and interesting ideas scattered withing their rotten running time, and it’s that blend of utter sleaze and sparks of genuine intelligence that make these tapes worth tracking down and giving a look. That is, if you have to stomach for this sort of drek. Again, one man’s terrible, worthless film is another man’s nugget of VHS gold. And for me, it doesn’t get much better, worse, stranger or more enjoyable than Hugh Gallagher’s Gore Trilogy.

Stay Trashy and watch that pooper!

-Root

Ms. D'Lana Tunnell in a still from "Teenage Tupelo". Another oddity worth tracking down. -Root

Ms. D’Lana Tunnell in a still from “Teenage Tupelo”. Another oddity worth tracking down. -Root

15
Oct
12

Tales from the Crypt presents Demon Knight

a Primal Root written review

Growing up in a household that could afford premium cable, as a youngster, there was no greater pleasure than staying up late, hunkering down on the sofa in the darkened living room, and catching the sick, twisted morality tale that was HBO’s ‘Tales from the Crypt.’  Being a child whose love for the macabre and horrific was rotted deep within me and growing more apparent on a daily basis, this was MY must see TV.  In my younger years, Nickelodeon’s ‘Are You Afraid of the Dark?’ along with old, dusty, issues of E.C. comicss ‘The Vault of Horror’ and ‘Tales from the Crypt’ had wet my pallet. The promise of a fun, vivid, gory, lesson in how being an asshole will surely end in a fate often worse than death wrapped up in one nifty thirty minute package made ‘Tales from the Crypt’ an irresistible temptation. Add the ever present possibility of  bare female breasts, and my adolescent self couldn’t refuse.

 

Hell, my adult self still can’t refuse.

 

Then, in 1995, I was traipsing through Tallahassee Florida’s long dead Oak Lake Six movie theater on my way to see  ‘The Brady Bunch Movie’ when I spotted poster that dropped my jaw to the floor and filled my heart with sticky, black, diabolical joy. Oh yes, ‘Tales from the Crypt’ was releasing a movie called “Demon Knight.’ Needless to say, this was the greatest news my 13 year old self had ever heard. The poster featured a shot of the Crypt Keeper smiling ghoulishly and peering over blue lensed, John Lennon style sun glasses, holding open his epic, and seemingly endless, book tales as slimy, razor toothed demons spewed forth all being led by an slightly aggravated looking bald fellow in a trench coat with his arm outstretched pointing right at my scrawny, freshly teenaged face. I knew, in my misguided, freshly teenaged heart, this was going to be the greatest movie ever made.

 

Sadly, I wouldn’t be able to talk my Mom into letting me see it until it was released on VHS. I rented Tales from the Crypt presents Demon Knight, slipped the tape into my VCR, and braced myself for the glory. Dear reader, Demon Knight catered to everything my adolescent heart could possibly desire. Here’s how it goes down…

 

The action takes place in a dilapidated boarding house that was previously a church where the home’s misfit group of residents (prostitute, laid off postal worker, drunken bum Dick Miller, etc.) find themselves in the middle of an ancient battle between good and evil. See, there’s a drifter named Stryker played by infinitely likeable character actor, William Sadler, playing it straight, earnest, and desperate. Stryker, The Demon Knight, finds his way to this boarding house, thanks to a largely unexplained supernatural star circle compass tattoo in the palm of his hand, seeking shelter. Styker is being stalked down by a slick, seductive, hilarious form of evil incarnate known only as The Collector. The Collector is played by Billy Zane, who is obviously having a field day with such a fun part. In retrospect this might be the high water mark of his career. Which is rather sad.

 

 

Anyhoo, The Collector is trying to get his hands on ‘The Key’ which Stryker is protecting. This key holds the blood of Christ as well as the blood of previous Demon Knights. The fate of all humanity hangs in the balance on this night, in this boarding home, because this key is the last of seven The Collector needs in order to unleash Hell on earth. It soon becomes a show down in the old Night of the Living Dead, Assault on Precinct 13 style, as The Collector brings forth an army of vicious, mucousy, pierced up demons that look like char grilled Muppets looking to rip the into meaty chunks anyone who stands between them and The Key. The Collector, on the other hand, finds his own way in through the use of seduction and the promise of granting his victim’s fantasies which leads to some of ‘Demon Knights” more interesting sequences. Needless to say, many will die, few will live, some will get fire pissed on them by Billy Zane, and one character will fulfill their destiny. Oh yeah, it’s one of those type of parties.

 

 

That’s the basic run down of what’s going on in this movie. The mythology surrounding The Key, the Demon Knights and their Highlander-esque back story is something I could honestly devote a whole article to. Plus there’s the obligatory Crypt Keeper bookends to the film that don’t really add much, but it’s cool that the our old pal, The Crypt Keeper, is holding down the fort and spewing the same old eye rolling puns and one liners.

 

 

‘Demon Knight delivered, and for about six months, it was among my absolute favorites and solidified my deep, abiding, love for Trash Cinema. It had graphic violence delivered both horrifically and humorously. Gratuitous and plentiful bare female breasts. A ridiculously fun villain in the form of The Collector, and likeable and enigmatic hero in Stryker, plus a great cast of veteran character actors like Dick Miller, CCH Pounder, and Charles Fleischer as well as a few folks yet to hit their peak like Jada Pinkett , Thomas Haden Church and um, Traci Bingham? Plus, a bizarre cameo by John Laroquette who still seems like a strange choice to me…The morality play aspect of the television series falls by the wayside a bit, but the sick, twisted black comedy is intact and even a bit amplified.

 

Tales from the Crypt presents Demon Knight isn’t a great film, not by a long shot, but it sure is a Hell of a lot of fun. And at the end of the day isn’t that precisely what you want from this kind of flick? It’s dumb, rude, dirty, sick, over the top and exploitative. It’s a guilty pleasure of the highest order. It’s a dark minded, neon eyed, spook house, horror show of a movie that is only interested in kicking ass, tossing the gruel at it’s audience and letting the chips fall where they may. It’s the kind of horror film where you walk out with a smile knowing that you’ve had a blast.

 

My 13-14 year old self was an instant fan. The poster adorned my wall throughout my middle school years and I sang the praises of ‘Demon Knight’ to all my horrified friends. I watched it nearly every weekend for a span of about six months before moving on to other bizarre, awesome, trashy films. However, the young, teenager inside me still holds this film very close to his strange, trash loving little heart.
Stay Trashy!

-Root

 




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