Posts Tagged ‘apocalypse

09
May
15

Cafe Flesh (1982) The Positives and Negatives of The Nuclear Kiss (NSFW)

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a Primal Root written review

“Is there anything sweeter than desire bound in chains?” – Max, Cafe Flesh

Fucking is a constant. The burning desire for pleasure and acceptance. The need for human contact. it’s unshakable, you can not ignore this primal, basic, animal urge to rock on with the most wonderful way to spend your time, sex. Now, imagine if you will, a post apocalyptic future where those who survived the nuclear holocaust suffered a terrible affliction, one that there is no known cure for. A plaque that keeps you from giving in to the craving, the temptation, the need to get freaky any time of the day or night.

Post WWIII finds 99% of the surviving population completely unable to have any sexual contact with another human being whatsoever, and the remaining 1% are enlisted to put on bizarre live sex shows for those who can no longer have sex anymore. See, the 99% who cannot experience any sexual gratification whatsoever get violently sick whenever feeling sexual stimulation of any sort. Now, this 99% spends their free time in dark clubs watching those lucky few who can pork one another without projectile vomiting across the wasteland watching them slide in and out of one another all night long while drooling and dreaming of an existence that doesn’t so closely resemble Hell.

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And when I say these live sex shows are bizarre, I mean to the extreme in most cases. Bizarre to the point of, as Bootsie Kidd so aptly pointed out, resembling Kids in the Hall sketches with real women and money shots. My personal favorite has to be the fuck session that involves a man with an enormous pencil for a head wearing a three piece suit bending a lovely young woman over a work desk and fucking her from behind while a nekkid broad with ample bosom, tied back red hair, and a pair of Poindexter glasses on types away on her computer while insistently asking if we’d like her to type a Memo. IT’s pornography, sure, but it’s pretty goddamn high concept. There’s also a wonderful scene early on where a stay at home Mom gets fucked and jizzed all over by a mutant part rat part man milk man all while her three freak babies do a tightly choreographed dance from their little feeding chairs int he background. It;s a spectacle of low budget, highly innovative and creative pussy pounding unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It’s the kind of stuff that makes you want to wake up Grandma so she can come watch with you,

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Beyond the truly arresting hardcore artsy fartsy sex shows is a stunningly downbeat post apocalyptic science fiction film. I can only imagine the near sducidal depression and frustration the 99% knows as “Sex Negatives” must feel knowing that they will never, ever, in their entire existence know the intimate connection of love and sex with anyone ever again. Not even from themselves. And to watch these lucky bastards being able to use their rock hard cocks and dripping wet lady lairs to their fullest potential…man, in a way, this really is a perfect illustration of Hell.

To make matters worse (or better?) this new society that formed after WWWIII and the “Nuclear Kiss” can sniff out those who are “Sex Positive” and force them into working the sex show trade. Of course, once people get started, they end up loving it. There’s one female character who happens to be a virgin and was saving it. When she is found to be sex positive she is forced out of Cafe Flesh in wrist restraints only to show up later sucking and riding cock like a professional. He sex scene is even sampled in the beginning of More Human Than Human by White Zombie! (You’re good, Rob.) No tears, no regrets, she walks away describing sex as the greatest thing she’s ever know directly into the faces of several poor souls who can;’ do it at all. She gloats and brags as these poor sexless negatives try to hold back the tears and resentment. Yeah, I’m glad your life is worth living, you GOD DAMN ASSHOLE! I get a hard on and I start SHITTING MYSELF and puking all over my futuristic Doc Martin’s!

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But not everything is as it seems in Cafe Flesh. There are those among the 99% who desire love, connection, and a good deep dicking, AND ARE TOTALLY CAPABLE, but repress such burning desires in order to keep their partner from feeling left out or alone. Scream Queen Michelle Baur, credited as Pia Snow, plays a young woman in the 99% who finds her self fulfilling a role in just such a melodrama. I will tell you this much, Baur delivers a damn fine performance here, certainly among the very best in Cafe Flesh. And as we all know, when things are repressed for too long, they tend to build and explode into our lives with violent reproductions. Libido…finds a way.

Filmmaker Stephen Sayadian is a credit to the pornographic medium. He has created a one of a kind, beautifully shot, well written, fairly well acted piece of hardcore pornography where the story is far more interesting than any of the mechanized dicking taking place on screen. It’s a dark, bitter, sad pill to swallow but a flick I cannot help but recommend for it’s bold daringness and innovative story. The gonzo porn of today owes a great deal to Cafe Flesh. Stephen Sayadian would make another phenomenal slice of smut entitled “Dr. Caligari” in 1989. The world of pornography desperately needs more visionaries like Sayadian.

Cafe Flesh is pretty goddamn remarkable. I was thoroughly impressed. It’s rare when a pornographic film truly rises above the expectations of it’s genre and delivers a story, let alone a gripping, abrasive and creative. Hell, Cafe Flesh begins with the MC of the sex show, Max, jeering the audience which includes us. Cafe Flesh is able hook us in not simply with explicit sexual images but with concepts, ideas and real conflicts. In it’s short 80 minute run time there’s more originality and high concepts than just about any current main stream science fiction release  Possibly the films most challenging aspect is it’s intense disgust for it’s own audience. The 99% sit in their seats and watch like mindless zombies…I cannot help but feel like someone is taking a dig at me as I sit in the dark of my living room and watch people dressed like rodents fucking one another.  It’s a dig I take in stride as a Trash Cinema Connoisseur.

If you’re in the mood for a dark, nasty, bizarre and totally unique fuck flick, look no further, Gang. It will keep you engaged till the abrupt and bitter ending, leaving you thirsty for more.

FOUR AND A HALF out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

22
Apr
15

The Taint (2010) Filth Beyond Your Wildest Dreams (NSFW)

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a Primal Root written review

“No one’s going to stop anything ever again!”

Gang, in the world of current Trash Cinema I am seldom supremely impressed anymore. It’s easy to shock people or gross them out, but to entertain while doing so? Not since John Waters or Lloyd Kaufman have I seen a filmmaker who can pull it off so seamlessly. Enter, filmmakers Drew Bulduc and Dan Nelson and their exemplarily slice of down and dirty filth, The Taint. Not since Pink Flamingos have I been this genuinely entertained and repulsed by a movie. Here’s the low down…

The Taint is the story of a very different kind of apocalypse. The world’s water supply becomes tainted by a mysterious chemical which affects only men, making their cocks grow ridiculously large, spew goopy man milk through the air, and drives them to homicidal rage towards women, whom they dispatch in graphic, nasty, hysterical ways. We learn of this taint through an excellent opening credit sequences that explicitly shows the spread of the chemical agent through our world and just how vast it’s reach is. I’m not going to spoil it, but we do get to see just how and why this chemical agent was created and how it ended up contaminating our water supply. Trust me, it’s a story well worth witnessing.

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As society collapses a handful of survivors must come to terms with this new world of brutal violence,  constantly hard, violently ejaculating cocks and men who have become monsters, constantly looking for female skulls to crush. Two survivors, Phill O’Ginny (Drew Bolduc) a man-whore teenage skater who’s too cool for school and Misandra (Colleen Walsh) a shot gun toting, take no prisoners feminist badass must band together in the heat of this armageddon to do battle with the hordes of psychopaths, both tainted and un-tainted, and face down their personal demons in order to pave their own way in this terrifying new world order.

The Taint is the most brashly wonderful and original piece of trash cinema I’ve seen in what feels like an eternity. It is a film of uncommon grotesqueries to match it’s extraordinary intelligence. The jokes and gags are made so much stronger due to the wit behind them. Sure, you’re witnessing mindless death and destruction filled with puke, piss, shit, tits and dicks, but it’s all handled with such confidence and savvy, that it is goddamn impossible to not be thoroughly entertained. I could not wait to see where this fucking madman of a movie was going to take me next. The score, which is fucking spectacular and composed by Drew Bolduc, feels like a beautiful mix of John Carpenter at his very best mixed by Daft Punk and then fucked an 8-Bit video game.

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The Taint never lets up, never slows down and is never short of incredible concepts, savage strangeness or fantastic energy. It feels like the most amazing backyard movie project ever filmed. There’s even an underlying and interesting subtext broaching such subjects as post-feminist society, misogyny and misandry in American culture. We watch as women are killed, their blood spraying through the air as men jerk off and laugh while watching. In another scene, a woman mentions how all men will eventually turn into this a monster, lusting after the destruction of women…and then we can;t help but laugh as a rock hard cock gets shoved through her skull and out her face before a young man packing heat blows the cock off and calls the cock wielder a misogynist. It’s ludicrous and hysterical but at least it’s trying to strike the conversation up. And for this, I totally commend The Taint.

I am in love with this film. I am going to go buy a copy, abduct people, tie them to the couch and make them watch it. Well, maybe just continually invite a steady stream of my Trash Cinema loving friends over to witness The Taint‘s greatness. If we still lived in a world with art house cinemas and drive-in theaters, The Taint would be an instant Midnight Movie classic. Why The Taint is not a sensation, I have no clue. But I will preach the gospel of The Taint to my last dying breath. Gang, this is Trash Cinema at it’s very finest. virtuoso filmic filth. YOU MUST SEE THIS! Find a copy, come over to my house, or attend a Trash Cinema Night at Bird’s Aphrodisiac Oyster Shack one day when we screen it. IF you love what Drive-In Movies once were, witness the second coming. The Taint is one of the funniest, nastiest, most ceaselessly entertaining flicks I’ve ever seen.

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FIVE out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets! INSTANT TRASH CINEMA CLASSIC!

Stay Trashy!

-Root

25
Aug
13

Maximum Overdrive (1986) or How to Embrace a “Moron Movie”

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a Primal Root written review

Ever had a really stupid idea for a story? I mean, a cool idea, but one that makes no logical sense at all? I mean, that’s kind of why story telling is so much fun. you can make up whatever you want to justify just what Hell is occurring on the page, on the screen or in your spoken word.  I know, the law of the land says everything’s gotta make sense, that things have to be believable, but sometimes that stupid, amateur, childish, imaginative idea is just too good to restrain. Enter Stephen King’s one and only directorial effort, his self proclaimed “moron movie”, 1986’s critically bashed “Maximum Overdrive.”

“Maximum Overdrive” tells the story of worldwide horror primarily through the microcosm of one filthy, small, interstate truck stop. What’s the global crisis at hand? I’m thrilled you asked! See, the entire world is caught in the tail of some kind of comet that apparently has the power to bring every single machine to vicious, murderous life! Well, with the exception of any piece of equipment required for the main character’s survival…But still, most;y every single damned machine on God’s green Earth is suddenly out for blood! Everything from steam roller crushing Little Leaguers to electric carving knives ripping up hapless waitresses arms! It’s survival of the fittest as the patrons and staff of The Dixie-Boy Truck Stop are besieged by an onslaught of malicious semi-trucks. What do these trucks want? Why are they here? Home many people are going to end up being crunched into human hamburger? All these questions are asked as the blood and bodies fly to a fucking badass AC/DC soundtrack.

James Franco is going to play me in Spider-Man 3? Okay, time to wipe out the human race.

James Franco is going to play me in Spider-Man 3? Okay, time to wipe out the human race.

Stephen King helmed his directorial debut in 1986, right the the peak of his 1980’s popularity, and the critics were chomping at the bit to rip the much beloved horror writer a new asshole. “Maximum Overdrive” provided the perfect opportunity. It’s ridiculous, over the top, gratuitous and deeply, unapologetically dumb. It’s a movie where lawnmowers come to life and chase little kids and soda machines pummel people into bloody pulps, we’re not talking about sophisticated cinema here. One thing I think the critics failed to understand is just how much fun 97 minutes of unabashed mayhem, dopey characters and brain dead dialog can be.

Got coke?

Got coke?

Starring at the time up-and-comer Emilio Estevez, as Bill, a recent parolee employed at The Dixie-Boy Truck Stop and trying to make good all while putting up with his asshole boss/slave driver, Bubba (Pat Hingle) and making love like a hero.  Bill’s situation is pretty shitty…and then machines all of a sudden inherit the Earth, giving the young man the chance to take charge and show just what he’s capable of. Not only that, but he ends up getting stuck in The Dixie-Boy with the lovely Brett (Laura Harrington), an enigmatic tough girl hitch hiker who ends up bedding the sun kissed, perpetually sweaty and over worked Bill and espousing some of the most laughably awkward pillow talk ever heard in cinema all while skull crushing semi-trucks encircle their truck stop hide out and the threat of eminent flattening hangs over everyone’s head.

It’s the ultimate blue collar, underdog, greasy low life action/horror movie as e are asked to root for a batch of characters who would typically be banished to the sidelines in bigger budget apocalypse films. These are not scientists or well worn marines, these are just a bunch of dumb, greasy, rednecks trying to get out of a perilously tough situation and survive.  This, of course, is not your typical end of the world movie scenario. But you know what, it’s about time we got to see a story like this told through the eyes of the average grease monkey. It’s I really love about this flick,

Looks like you were right, that zit was ready to pop.

Looks like you were right, that zit was ready to pop.

In the end, “Maximum Overdrive” is a fuck-all, go for broke, mean as Hell, shit kicker of a film.  Like the goblin faces semi-truck villainous star of the film, it’s completely mindless but dead set on rocking your world.  Stephen King has apologized repeatedly for this tremendous piece of Trash Cinema, and even admitted to the whole film being made in a cocaine fueled haze, but if you ask me it’s really a shame the guy hasn’t gotten back behind the camera. I sure would be curious to see what King would follow this flick up with…  “Maximum Overdrive” is a damn fine and fun piece of B-Movie entertainment. If you don’t take yourself or the premise too seriously, I defy you not to enjoy yourself laughing with or at the movie as it unfolds it’s one of a kind sci-fi/horror/ action yarn about a goofy batch of truckers and yokels duking it  out and fighting for their lives against a world gone mad as machines try to rip their insides out.

“Maximum Overdrive” might not be a classic by the standards of most, but here at The Trash Cinema Collective, it sure as Hell is. Be sure to check this one out, preferably with a cooler full of beer and a handful of pals to share the magic with.

3 1/2 Dumpster nuggets out of 5!

Maximum Overdrive Heavy

See you at The Dixie-Boy SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 7th for Trash Cinema Nights at Bird’s Aphrodisiac Oyster Shack as we will be screening both “Maximum Overdrive” and “Heavy Metal Parking Lot” back to back starting at 8pm!  Hope to see you there, Gang!  Bird’s Aphrodisiac Oyster shack is located at 325 N Bronough St  Tallahassee, FL 32301

Stay Trashy!

-Root

27
Feb
13

In the Mouth of Madness (1995): Licked by the Tongue of Terror

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a Primal Root review

“I think, therefore you are.” -Sutter Cain, In the Mouth of Madness

Few movie openings get me as pumped as that of “In the Mouth of Madness”. The opening synth licks, drums kick in, and the guitar commences to wailing as Sutter Cain’s latest book is being shot through the presses by whirring machines that could draw and quarter you faster than you can say “owee”.  Never has book publishing seemed this incredibly badass. If you can imagine Metallica’s Enter Sandman but without James Hatfield’s goofy vocals and composed by cinematic renaissance man, John Carpenter, you’re halfway there. It’s a fucking spectacular start to a movie that’s basically the dark, evil, alarmist version of Reading Rainbow. Who would have ever guessed reading could be so goddamn cool and menacing? In my own head, I like to imagine that if this film had reached a wider audience, we would have seen cool, greaser types with their slicked-back hair, bad boy shades, a Marlboro dangling from chapped lips, leaning against a support beam in their favorite dive bar and flipping through a well worn-collection of Edgar Allen Poe.

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So, who is this Sutter Cane fellow? Well, in the fictional 1995 realm of “In the Mouth of Madness” he is the most widley read author in history. His stories have been translated into several dozen languages, outsell every other book on the market, and have even begun to lead to riots in book stores (remember? People used to go to stores that sold books!) when they can’t supply enough to meet the demands of the author’s work.   Did I mention this guy does horror? So it stands to reason that the man is also getting the blame for a recent “plague of violence” that has swept the nation with folks brutally attacking one another seemingly at random. Are they getting a little inspired by their page-turner?

As we all know, that’s absolute garbage. Entertainment has as much influence over real life violence as soft serve ice cream consumption has over the migration of gopher turtles.

But, I digress. As it turns out Sutter Cane has gone missing, and his publishing company has hired a cynical, crude, disillusioned insurance fraud investigator named John Trent (Sam Neil) to find out if Cain is alive and if he ever finished his final book, In the Mouth of Madness. Sent along with him is Cain’s editor, the  more open minded and vulnerable Styles (Julie Carmen). After some rather impressive investigating along with some trippy and disturbing nightmares, Trent puts together a map which will lead them to Cane who seems to be stationed in a small New England town. And not just any small New England town, but one named after Old Scratch, himself, and which seems to be the inspiration for one of Cane’s books, “The Hobb’s End Horror”.

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On their drive to the mysteriously elusive Hobb’s End Trent & Styles get to know one another while chit-chatting about Trent’s love of busting people and justifying his stone-cold cynicism with sharing his view that “the sooner mankind is off the planet, the better.” Styles speaks to her lust for horror, and that if reality as we know it should happen to shift how terrifying it would be to be the last sane one left…hmmm, foreshadowing, me thinks. There’s also an impromptu clown horn awakening that leads to a fun-sized Ruffles Potato Chip beat down that adds a little levity but really just makes me want some potato chips. Great product placement, though! I want to put those chips in my OWN personal mouth of madness where they can settle in my belly of batshit… ew.

Along their journey, Trent sleeps in the passenger seat snoring one of those irritating half snores as Styles gets a nice ripe slice of Hell. She catches a glimpse of bicycle reflectors up the road, but as she gets closer it seems to be a young man in his twenties peddling furiously in the same direction on the deserted highway in the pitch black night. As she drives past. he fades into the red of her tail lights and then disappears into the darkness. This is not a thing uncommon to humans. We pass people riding bikes, yeah, pretty much all the time. But there’s just something freakishly unsettling about this one. Something that speaks to us solely in the language of nightmares. Then, of course, there’s the next moment in which we see this soul, and he’s kind of, let’s say, changed a bit.

Several nightmare scenarios later, our dynamic duo find themselves in Hobb’s End, where the main street is lined with lovely little antique shops filled with what Trent eloquently calls “old shit”. The town looks pretty empty with the exception of a tribe of kids who can’t not run in slow motion after their dog. The two check into a quant little inn that seems to be run by Viggo the Carpathian and Mrs. Pickam (the incomparable Francis Bay). OH! and oI guess it bears mentioning that Cane’s there abducting children and transforming them into his own special brood of creatures bent on spreading his signature brand of mayhem and mutation throughout the town. And where else would HQ be but the comfy confines of THE BLACK CHURCH! A creepy, evil, place whereabouts dobermans attack en mass, the doors have a malfunctioning automatic open feature, and where Cane does all of his writing and evil plottin these days.

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Still, despite every gruesome event in “The Hobb’s End Horror” playing out around them, Trent still refuses to believe his own eyes and chocks it up to a ridiculously well-staged Disney World level publicity stunt put on just for him in hopes that he’ll high-tail it back to the big city, and talk up Cain’s “haunted little town.” In this one moment, I agree with Trent when he boldly declares, “Well, FUCK THAT!”

Now, you can begin to imagine Trent getting genuinely freaked out at this point, but the man just won’t give up on trying to find the logical explanation. But it seems to become more blazingly apparent that he’s driven himself right into a hotbed of slimy monsters and crazy shit ground zero. Portraits shift and change to creep the fuck out of city folk, grannies handcuff their naked hubbies to their ankles, and giant reptilians sporting a veritable mess of tentacles occupy the outdoor patio. Yeah. Sure, guy, this is all being staged JUST FOR YOU… I’m hopping on the next non demon-riddled Greyhound and heading to Chi-town as you brush chunks of brain and gore off your shoulder from the ‘actor’ who just unloaded a shotgun into his noggin.

As a mob of mutated town folk slowly inch towards Trent and a now totally whacked-out Styles (oh, yeah, she’s been lustily possessed by her demon-crazed client), the two exchange punches to the face in a Three Stooges of Domestic Battery kind of way. It gets a good laugh in (at least from me), and they head to their car to make a quick getaway. Styles gets all emotional and attention-starved, and commences to eating the car keys.  “JEEEEEESUS!” cries our hero and goes fishing down her throat, which, I gotta say, just feels a little gross & sketchy despite the necessity. Trent takes it to that further step, bashing in Styles’s mug, hot-wiring the car, and blazing the fuck out of this podunk Hell hole.

Only Trent can’t get out. No one gets out. He’s stuck in the demonic Groundhog’s Day of road trips as he repeatedly drives down the highway, finds the road lines glow a freakish neon orange, and being transported right back to Main Street USA where a posse of Basket Case 2 rejects await him hungrily. Oh, and by this point Styles is trying to smut it up with Trent, contorted her entire body into a creeping,  crackly-boned, monstrosity. The beauty of this moment? These days  all this would be done in sad, ineffective CGI, but cinematic treasures like this prove that unnerving realness of scenes such as this are actually pulled off by *real* effects such as the sideshow contortionist who rocked even the creepiest of moments.

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After several tedious attempts to escape Trent tries a more direct approach flooring his jalopy right into the crowd! They clear a path which leads right to Styles who just stands there grinning like she just drank all the sherry.  Trent jerks his steering wheel to the right and directly into a nasty collision which leaves him unconscious as the minions of mutations laugh and talk amongst themselves in the distance.

Trent then wakes up to have a one on one with the man, himself, Sutter Cain. Okay, this is it. Here is Trent’s chance to defend humanity! And what does he do? Too preoccupied with trying to light his last cigarette, Trent settles on insulting Cain by telling him his books suck. Eh, I hardly think that’s going to bruise the man’s ego, Trent.  And then he drops the bomb. Trent, himself, is Sutter’s creation. A character in a book he is writes and controls. Nothing more. Understandably, Trent’s more than a little unsettled by all this, even more so when Sutter rips into his own face with is bare hands to reveal a dark pit framed by torn shreds of a novels pages.  Yeah, this is looking less and less like a promotional stunt…

We’re led through a fantastic sequence wherein Trent peers into the darkness while Styles reads from Sutter’s new “bible”.  This, of course, plays as narration as he is living the story she reads. It’s a wonderfully creepy piece of cinema where Trent sees creatures rising from the abyss beyond description and we, the audience, are never given a good clear shot. We are only allowed to see Trent’s face as he reacts to what he sees. Styles presents the manuscript to Trent,  and Trent makes his way back into “his world”. The creatures gain, Trent trips, and all is lost…or so it seems.

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Trent screams in primal terror only to open his eyes and find himself on a dirt road, back in what looks to be classical reality. Birds chirp, kids deliver the newspaper, and there are no creatures beyond description chilling out at the truck stops. Yes, things seem normal, but Trent has seen some pretty heavy shit and can’t so easily shake it. First order of business is to destroy the manuscript, which keeps mysteriously finding it’s way back into his hands. Eventually Trent heads back to the publishing company that hired him in the first place only to find out Styles never existed and that he delivered the In the Mouth of Madness manuscript months ago and that it’s been at the top of the Best Seller list for seven weeks! Trent, having no recollection of this at all, is driven even closer to the edge. He pleads with the publishers to recall the book because what’s in it will drive people insane. Trent is then gently pushed off the edge as it’s revealed that the movie adaptation of the book comes out in a week.

The epidemic of violence continues, no one can put down Sutter’s latest work, our “hero” has gone homicidal as well, bashing in skulls with an axe outside book stores., which is why he has been telling this story from within a padded sell all along. By film’s end we find Trent in a deserted city after the dark power made manifest through Sutter’s work has infected everyone, making them lash out violently and mutate, as he goes into a fully lit theater. What’s playing? In the Mouth of Madness.

in mouth madness trent

Trent sits in an empty theater, popcorn bucket in hand and watches scenes fro the film we have just watched. He begins to laugh a pained, horrified laughter of sad realization. Of being broken. Tears swell up in his eyes as he tits his head back, his laughter becoming desperate and pleading as we cut to black. It”s a cold, dark, deeply unsettling ending because it brings up so many questions about who we are and reality in general.  Trent, obviously was born, grew up, has gone through life and made memories, how devastating would it be to find out it were all false. That, in effect, you aren’t real. That you are simply a means to entertain someone else.

It’s a cold concept to think about, that we might be nothing more than the figment of something’s imagination who can change the rules whenever they like and wipe our slates clean in the process. It takes a pretty active imagination to contemplate such an existence, but what a sad and empty way for our world to end. With the realization that we were never, ever, anything to begin with…

Stay Trashy!

-Root

17
Feb
12

Grignr the Ecordian battles 1982’s “SHE”!

Good morrow, travelers!  I am Grignr, an Ecordian!  Wanderer, carouser, rapscallion, slayer of foes, taker of women, watcher of enchanted moving pictures about warriors and wenches and sorcery!

I come to tell you of one such picture.  “She”, it is called, from the 1,982nd year after the Christ-god was nailed to the Cross of Pain by the Ro-Mans.  “She”, it is claimed, is adapted from the novel of the same name, with which H. Rider Haggard invented the “lost world” subgenre of the adventure tale.  I have not myself read this tome, being but slightly a man of learning and letters.  But in my travels I have heard no rumors of Haggard being stricken with madness, or enslaved by addiction to every mind-raping drug dreamt of by alchemy, and so I must assume this adaptation to be as loose as a she-slut of Gorzom.

By all the gods, what a lunatic picture!  It seems that the intent was to make a picture of swords and sorcery in the grand tradition, but that a scarcity of coin forced the makers to settle for some sort of beggar’s post-apocalypse.  In that way, they were able to use such armor and swords as were at their disposal, and outfit the rest of the cast with whatever came easy to hand, like football pads and baseball bats, and removed any need to find or create any suitably mythic locations.  These failings are easily overlooked by a barbarian such as I, but the hows and whys of the lawless world elude my simple powers of reason.  For an apocalyptic world, there is a puzzling dearth of blasted landscapes and true devastation.  The picture is set 23 years after an event which is called The Cancellation, but never explained.  That seems a scant span of time for a world to recover from scorched earth and poisoned skies to a point of lush vegetation and forbidden forests.  I would love to believe that the Cancellation was a less explosive world-ender, as if perhaps one Tyler Durden succeeded in his quest, and society as was known collapsed.  This solution pleases me, but does little to explain the animation of the opening titles, which depicts a world in space blasted by the light of massive explosions, and twisted landscapes of doom and death swarmed by a Grim Reaper made of smoke.  I should add that this animation was vastly bitching, as I am told such things are described, and gave my heart – which lusts always for battle, adventure, and carnage – great hope for the picture to come.

After the empty promise of the opening titles, what greets us is a metal ferry barge crossing an unimposing river, bearing a mule and three people.  These are Tom, the musclebound blond hero, Dick, his aptly-named cowardly knave of a friend (who resembles Bret McKenzie, if Bret McKenzie were a human rather than an elf), and Tom’s comely sister Hari.

Yea, travellers, I jest not.  Tom, Dick and Hari.

The three enter the village of “Heaven’s Gate”, where a market is in full swing, with items such as board games, shampoo, shoes and yellow kitchen gloves for sale.  No sooner have they arrived with their mule-load of unspecified wares to sell than the village is attacked by a band of brigands we are later to learn are called the Norks.  They wear sports equipment with painted-on swastikas, and whatever Hallowe’en costumes the actors had in their closets.  Our heroes do battle with them, and the Norks do two important things: they drag Hari away by a harpoon fired into her leg, and they serve to make the audience lose all hope for any real suspense to come by knocking Tom and Dick down and beating them extensively, never bothering to use their swords, daggers and scythes on them.  “Ah”, one says to oneself, “a picture with villains who do not try to kill the heroes.  I suppose I’ll have another mead or four to get in the mood.”

If at this point you wish to see the picture, you may do well to skip to the final two paragraphs.  Below I will tell its tale out of a mysterious sense of duty to any who may wish to know, but have the understandible instinct not to bother watching.

Suddenly the scene changes to an art museum, which is the stronghold of the titular “She”.  A hall full of worshipers bow rhythmically and chant “She! She! She!”, seemingly ’round the clock, while two to three male prisoners in diaper-style loincloths stand chained to an altar in front for reasons not revealed.  One struggles against his bonds in a humorously ineffective and nonsensical way.  No man attempting to free himself from chains would move in that way, is all Grignr is saying.

SHE arrives, and She is lovely.  In fact, She is Sandahl Bergman, of Conan fame, clad in a torn floor-length nightgown.  She looks rather as though she is wearing her boyfriend’s tee shirt, and her boyfriend is a giant.  As far as this barbarian can tell, this scene serves no purpose but to allow for the passage of time between the assault on the village and Tom and Dick awakening from their beating, inexplicably left alive, without the editor having to resort to such tricky time-warping effects as the dissolve.

Return we do to Tom and Dick, and the quest is set.  Hari must be rescued.  Our heroes are promptly duped, drugged and put in chains by a beguiling woman, who also reveals that “She” is a goddess, apparently.  The remainder of the picture contains no evidence to back up this claim.  Tom is taken by She and made to walk the “Path of Blood,” a torture gauntlet which is as painful-looking as it is pointless.

"Put on your battle briefs, ladies, it's man-spiking time!"

He is then left alive to learn that only She knows the way to Nork Valley.  Tom finds Dick peeling onions and crying, and frees him.

They promptly infiltrate She’s fortress, which seems to be no great feat, and disguise themselves as worshipers just in time to see She leave.  She is accompanied by Shanda, her lovely but incessantly whiny sidekick, to a barbed wire fence so haphazard that we suddenly know how Tom and Dick got in.  She goes on alone into a junkyard wasteland full of punks in medieval armor who seem to be using kendo, but not well enough to defeat a goddess of extremely human abilities in a nightgown.  Also there is a Frankenstein monster/android.  She comes to a place of fog and red lights, disrobes and bathes in a hot spring.  The only nudity in the picture is welcome, but brief.  As she bathes, an old oracle crone tells her that a man will come to claim her heart, that for him She will break her (unspecified?) vow, and that through him She will be destroyed.

"Nice butt flap. Now get in the tub, I have something to tell you."

 

She returns home and is goddessnapped by Tom and Dick.

The rest of the picture is a succession of setpieces involving odd tribes in silly costumes.  There is a band of chainsaw-wielding lepers in a factory who like to use a Star Wars-esque trash compactor and seem unconcerned by the loss of limbs.  Shanda and company rescue Tom, Dick and She from these crumbling simpletons, Shanda whines because She does not plan to execute the men publicly, and She lets the men go for no clear reason.  She and Shanda then follow them, also for no clear reason.

There is a Grecian garden peopled by decadent freaks (we can tell they are decadent because their leader seems to be gay, and they have balloons) who get even freakier after dark, but only after dressing Tom and Dick in tuxedos.  Tom forgoes a shirt, however.  Like myself, he is too much man for a shirt.

There is the stronghold of Godan, another self-styled god.  Godan seems to have more behind his claim than She, for he has eyes that glow green and powers of mind-sorcery.  His followers dress as Soviet monks.  He orders She and Shanda tortured, and they are whipped, mostly across the wide leather straps covering their stomachs, while Tom and Dick dine in luxury because they feigned allegiance to Godan.  This was Dick’s idea.  Godan takes She for a bit of a rape party, and Tom and Dick save the day (sort of) after they tire of listening to Shanda scream.

There is a forest featuring skeletons tied to trees, a cloud of poison gas which Tom alone escapes, a crazy sort of Doctor Moreau type in a Baron Munchausen suit and a Texas Rangers baseball helmet, and his giant, bearded, hairy-backed assistant in a ballerina costume.  The doctor has poor methods of prisoner retention.

There is a bridge guarded by a cigar-waving loon in a fringed cavalry uniform, who behaves like a more annoying version of Robin Williams at his most annoying, speaking in bad movie star impersonations and singing television theme songs.  His strategy seems to be to irritate all comers to death, which seems a plausible outcome since he spawns a clone every time part of him is chopped off and Tom is too stupid to stop chopping parts of him off.  Dick and She come along later, and She has sense enough to throw the obnoxious fool onto a land mine.  Where his innumerable clones went is unexplained.

Then there is the city of the Norks.  At last, a location that looks as though some sort of apocalypse might have occurred 23 years ago!  Why the producers did not set a much larger portion of the picture in this city is a mystery to me.  Our heroes disguise themselves as Nork army hopefuls and attend a pre-deathmatch banquet.  The Nork general announces: “This is the life of the Norks.  Food, women and war.  Nothing better on the face of this Earth.”  At last, a man after my own heart!

A gladiatorial free-for-all ensues.  The last two survivors will be allowed to join the Norks.  The Nork leader, in a disco haz-mat suit, oversees the bout with Hari at his side.

"I covet his tire throne."

Tom, Dick and She are the last three standing.  When Tom is unmasked and the others realize who they have been fighting, they unmask themselves.  The Nork leader is furious that a woman has infiltrated his sacred bloodsport, and responds by releasing Hari into their company and letting all four of them go, with a promise to enslave She’s people tomorrow.  I swear by the Eye of Argon, not a soul in this picture makes a damn bit of sense.

She decides to wait outside the gate and fight the Nork army by herself.  Of course Tom has come to love her, and stays to help.  And of course Dick and Hari do as well.  In a matter of hours, pits are dug, bows and arrows made, and a mine field relocated by the four heroes.  The following battle is better than most in the picture, because the participants are at least trying to kill each other for the most part.  Shanda shows up at the last minute with reinforcements, and the day is won.  There is much rejoicing.

At long last Tom and Hari return to the barge upon which we first met them.  Dick stays behind with Shanda, whom he has apparently come to love for some reason, and she for equally mysterious reasons shares his feelings.  Tom and Hari cross the river, and Tom and She stare longingly at each other across the water as the picture ends, the oracle’s prophecy of vow-breaking and destruction completely ignored, or forgotten.

SHE is a queer, queer beast of a picture.  Comely wenches, a wide variety of strange characters, and plenty of battle, to be sure.  But the battle is too often pathetically staged and bloodless, and is set in a nonsense world built from a meager budget.  Worst of all is the utter nonsense of the story and the characters’ choices.  Perhaps best of all is the delirious silliness of the whole affair.  The picture certainly does not take itself seriously enough that one senses some artistic target was aimed for and missed.  Also worth noting is the score by Rick Wakeman, he of “Yes” fame.  Grinding guitars and flailing synth riffs abound, and one action sequence is set to a song by… I know not who, but I have heard worse Aretha Franklin impersonators in my travels, of this I can assure you.  The strongest endorsement I can give is that you should watch this picture if you wish to be completely perplexed and amused.  Much strong drink is a necessity, and a small party of like-minded adventurers is recommended.

Until next time, travelers, drink deep of food, women and war, for there is nothing better on the face of this Earth!

Kneel before She!




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