Posts Tagged ‘art

16
Oct
14

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) 40 Years with a Whole Family of Draculas

 

Patric Reynolds

Patric Reynolds

 

In Loving Memory of Marilyn Burns 

A Primal Root Written Review

Our experience begins in the void of darkness, we are blind to the world around us, yet we can hear the nearby sound of a shovel burrowing into the soil. The sounds of heavy breathing, exertion. Our senses are heightened alright as our minds race with the possibilities, as we are made to feel uncomfortable, trapped, anxious…And then our very first image. The visage of a thoroughly rotten, glistening, corpse that eerily resembles a batch of General Tso’s chicken, illuminated by a camera’s flashbulb, accentuated by the startling sound on the film;s soundtrack rumored to be anything from a cello to Tobe Hooper running a pitchfork down a piece of metal. Either way, in the span of mere seconds, the audience viewing The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is experiencing one thing above all else, fear.

The premise is simple. Throw a pack of kids in their late teens and early twenties into the heart of darkness, watch them die and then cheer on that one young woman who remains as she struggles for survival. We would call it cliched if it weren’t for the fact that The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was the very first. To call Texas Chainsaw Massacre a milestone in horror cinema is justified. Like absolutely nothing that came before it in the film’s attempt to truly obliterate the sanity of anyone who views it, Texas Chainsaw Massacre inspired a generation of horror filmmakers and decades worth of copy cats who could never dream of coming close to Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s raw, uncompromising, power. Though many sequels and cash-in’s follows in Chainsaw’s wake, there is no other horror film like it.

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Tobe Hooper, a young filmmaker out of Texas,  was inspired by, as legend has it,  tales of serial killer Ed Gein and his penitent for digging up corpses to steal their skin and wear it as well as the man’s hobby of turning the remnants of the dead into furniture and serving dishes. Another inspiration came in the form of a holiday shopping trip to Sears. As hooper stood in the hardware aisle int he midst of the holiday shopping madness, his eyes fell upon a rack of chainsaws when the thought came to him, “I know of a way to get out of this place in a hurry!” According to Hooper, within second, the premise for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was born.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre might be the most innovative and enduring piece of cinema to come out of the hippie movement, it has become a touchstone for the end of the movement an highlighting the sick, subversive nature or our American culture and society itself. In the wake of JFK, Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. assassinations, the failed war in Vietnam, the brutality of The Civil Rights movement and The Tate-Labianca murders, it was no wonder such a ferocious, merciless, hopeless piece of cinema was the product. Many other horror films of the era, like Romero’s Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead, Wes Craven’s Last House on the Left and Bob Clark’s Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things and Deathdream, all dealt with the frustrations, horror and disheartening of a generation of idealists, who struck out to change things, and watching as that struggle got buried, and never actually took hold. By the late 60’s and early 70’s we had become a nation haunted by that period in time when so many believed in a dream, only to watch it fall apart, like a person being chopped to pieces under a whirring chainsaw. None matched the unbridled fury, the primal scream of disgust and anger that The Texas Chainsaw Massacre delivered. All at once, the young people of a generation are painted as idiots, ego-centric assholes willing to mock one another and leave those less fortunate behind as they seek their own personal pleasures. And by films end, we are reminded, that it’s all just business as usual as an ancient old man in a suit and tie sucks the blood from the tip of the new generation’s finger tip. The message is clear, welcome to the American Nightmare, don’t expect to ever wake up.

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The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a true work of absolute terror. A story pitch perfectly told, well acted, beautifully shot and fantastically edited. I could go on all day about Texas Chainsaw Massacre being one of the premiere achievements in outlaw independent filmmaking, but the results speak for themselves.  The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is now, 40 years later, considered a film classic and a masterpiece of the horror genre. All these decades later and it has not lost an ounce of it’s power to drive it’s audience to the brink of their sanity. To this day, as Leatherface dances with his chainsaw and the sun rises over rural America, just as the film cuts to black, dead silence, I still have to catch my breath every time.  40 years on, and we’re still feeling the the influence of that idyllic summer afternoon drive that became a nightmare. The most bizarre crime in the annals of American history. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

I’m giving The Texas Chainsaw Massacre LEGENDARY status aka: Infinite Dumpster Nuggets

Stay Trashy!

-Root

19
Mar
13

Maiden Detroit: Devil Girl of the Month, March 2013

Hey Gang, it’s your pal The Primal Root and I am honored to introduce our Devil Girl of the Month, the beautiful, enigmatic,  Maiden Detroit! Maiden has recently become acquainted with The Trash Cinema Collective so we figured  we’d pummel her with some random questions so we can get to know a bit more about her.  So, please, feast your eyes on Maiden Detroit’s creepy, sexy,  gorgeous,  March Devil Girl spread and be sure to give her a warm welcome to The Collective! Stay Trashy! -Root

The Primal Root:  Maiden, tell us a little bit about yourself. your background, your interests. What the Hell have you been up to lately?

Maiden Detroit: I moved to Tallahassee about 5 years ago from my home, Detroit Michigan. I miss it. But I persevere. Home made me the woman I am today. Strong, tough, dependable, reliable, lovable, me.

TPR: What was the inspiration for your Devil Girl shoot?

MD: I have always been intrigued by death and her mysteries, I’ve been romping around graveyards for so long, out of respect for the unknown. There is something to be said for the unknown.

TPR: Tell us a story! Some kind of bizarre story, an unusual experience you can share with us.

MD: I don’t have many stories; which is unfortunate because I have all the stories. I just don’t kiss and tell.

TPR:  As you well know, we have a passion for movies the majority of film goers consider nonredeemable filth that no rational human being should ever watch. We call it Trash Cinema. What are some of your favorites?

I love all cinema. Movies are a prefect form of escapism. Whether you are sad or happy or looking for a raunchy good time. I take it all in and rejoice in the art. Because without art life does not exist.

Photography by Darla Winn : http://www.flickr.com/photos/zoogal3/

Hair & Makeup by Laura Henry: http://www.facebook.com/HairDesignerLaura

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14
May
11

A Cult Influence: a short documentary by Daniel Krone

Primal Root’s  Dirty Thoughts

Hey Gang,

Came across this nifty short subject documentary about what exactly makes a film into a cult flick. A Cult Influence also delves a little bit into the realm of the remaining Mom & Pop video stores that are beginning to reemerge now that Blockbuster has shut it’s doors for good.

Enjoy! And be sure to let us know if you agree with these definitions of a cult film and share some of your favorite cult flicks with us!

Stay Trashy!

-The Primal Root

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14
Feb
11

CHEEKY! or Why Sex is Way Cooler Than Violence (NSFW)

a Trash Cinema After Dark review
Written by The Primal Root

Sex is incredible; The feeling of being intensely aroused by another human being, the electricity of having that feeling reciprocated, and the excitement as your bodies move closer, are some of life’s greatest thrills. Without sex—the most innate of all human interactions—life just wouldn’t be worth living. There’s nothing in this world that can fill us with such a sense of vigor as a good, healthy, consensual, fuck. It’s life’s natural exclamation point.
This is why I find it such a shame that in my country (the good ‘ol, U.S. of A.) we treat coitus like it’s the most horrifying act imaginable. A perfect example is the recent film Blue Valentine, which was initially slapped with an NC-17 rating for showing two adults getting it on. Show a female nipple (or two) or, heaven forbid, a penis… and it’s labeled obscene. That is how the nude human body is viewed in our arcane society. Americans can handle watching people being killed on prime time local news networks. They are comfortable with the fact that Hollywood scenes of graphic, horrific violence are open to audiences who can’t even legally buy cigarettes. But throw a titty up on the screen, and our morally immature citizens come marching out of the woodwork, rambling righteously through their loudspeakers.
This mind set sucks, gang. When America’s moral scale is tipped by the mere glimpse of a woman’s breasts, but remains undisturbed by the hacking off of genitals (a la Eli Roth), something is horribly off with our equilibrium.
Which is why I thank my lucky stars for those artists who rebel against our ridiculous moral code and create films that explore human sexuality, for those courageous few who unabashedly bring sex into the light and force us to take a nice, long look. Sex isn’t as simple as many pornographers might lead us to believe. It’s a complex jumble of human experience and emotion. It can be just as cruel and vindictive as it is amazing and beautiful. It can be superficial or it can be deeply meaningful. It can trample us down just as easily as it can lift us up.

Sex is powerful, without question. Whether you save yourself for marriage or have a dozen lovers in every zip code, you cannot deny that sex is an ever-present force in our day-to-day lives.


Which brings me to Italian filmmaker, Tinto Brass’s 2000 flick, Cheeky (Trasgredire). It is a film about two lovers, our star Carla (Yuliya Mayarchuk) and her jealous fella Matteo (Jarno Beradi). Carla is a strikingly beautiful, free spirited young woman who is in London looking to find the perfect apartment for Matteo. She explores the city in see through, skin-tight tank tops and mini skirts (without the aid undergarments).  Does she seem ashamed? Not in the slightest. She’s proud of what she’s packing and flaunts her sexuality openly.
This how we are introduced to her: smiling, self confident and gorgeous, bouncing through some park right out of Penthouse Forum, where everyone is either fondling someone else’s crotch or showing off their own. Or, as in the case of one woman, rolling though on a rascal scooter while she walks her dog. It’s the park that underwear forgot; women spread their legs freely as they sit in the grass, people get pounced behind trees and an old man ruins the sanctity of this innocent sex oasis by flashing his didgeridoo from beneath a stained rain coat. Carla is at first shocked, but then flashes her own lovely sexual anatomy at the old man causing him to flee, frightened by such an assertive woman.


This is the world Cheeky explores. There’s a ton of sex going on here. When the act isn’t happening in the here and now of the film, there’s a flashback to some other point when someone was having sex. There is literally not ONE character here without sexual motivations… as, one could argue, there are few people in real life who aren’t driven by some sexual motivation, bubbling just beneath the surface. But in Carla’s world, everyone’s intentions are out in the open and to the viewer this is refreshing and titillating, though maybe a bit disconcerting at first.
Hell, as soon as Carla heads to a real estate office to enquire about rental properties, she is promptly hit on and groped by the statuesque lesbian real-estate agent, Moira (Francesca Nunzi). Carla is befriended by Moira but never gives into her wild flirting (so as not to betray Matteo), even when they are in the shower and Moira begins sticking her finger into Carla’s ‘lady region’.
Matteo, on the other hand, is the only repressed character in the movie. While on the phone with Carla, who is masturbating and telling him about the hot woman who hit on her, Matteo can only express his fear and insecurity regarding Carla’s fidelity and beg her to hurry to London so they can get it on. Seriously, Matteo needs to get a fucking clue, man. His character is a frustrating, wet towel of a character whom the viewer just want to forget about and get back to Carla’s flirty and fun sexually charged romps around London. Matteo’s pouty, emo existence is made even worse when he uncovers old nude photos of Carla along with letters from an old flame. Being the insecure man he is, Matteo takes this opportunity to rip Carla a new one, causing a fracture in their relationship.
Without spoiling all the fun, that’s the basic plot in Tinto Brass’s Cheeky, which is heavy on genitalia low on story. Cheeky stands in direct opposition to many of Tinto’s previous works like Caligula and Salon Kitty; which, though sexually charged, presented sex as something sinister, ugly and often trite. But sex, within Cheeky, is presented as something festive, to be enjoyed someone you care about. There is an moment in the movie that reminds us how hollow it can feel if sex is had for the wrong reasons. It’s the single sad moment in an otherwise uplifting (in more ways that one) flick about the joys of sex and the adventure of life.


There are some truly inspired sex scenes here, nothing too gratuitous, but often showing more anatomy than you would ever find in any late night offerings from Skinemax. There is one scene that stands out for me, which is a flashback sequence between Carla and her former lover, Bernard. The scene takes place on the beach in mid-day and is shot entirely in slow motion. It’s a strikingly photographed, choreographed and edited sequence that is as deeply arousing as it is light hearted and delicate. Tinto Brass proves himself to have a knack for a creating very sweet, lovely bits of cinematic erotica to counter point his darker, more painful material.

And, to be honest, I enjoy this light and fluffy sex romp far more than the hard-edged material of his past. I know, I know, I am supposed to be Mister Hardcore. But when it comes to sex, I tend to enjoy the sweet stuff as opposed to people being shot by Nazi generals while standing naked in a sauna or seeing men have their penises bound and then being graphically gutted on screen. Yeah, I think I’ll go with the fun stuff where everyone’s junk is left intact, thank you very much.
It’s a strange, sexy, mixed up world out there filled with wonder, chaos, and madness. Sex is an amazing gift, not something to live in fear of or dismiss as an ugly, disgusting act. If there’s one thing on this planet we should rejoice in, it is each other.

I look forward to my continued investigation into Tinto Brass’s filmography. If you have any recommendations for me I’d love to hear them!

Stay Trashy,
-The Primal Root

31
Oct
10

Towards a Personal Theory (and Defense) of Horror (Part One)

an essay by Jessica Critten

So I had this professor who would always scoff when I discussed horror in the same breath as great literature and art. He thought, as so many people often do, that horror is low art for braindead, sick people and that any connections I found between, say, books about Nazism and horror theory, were a stretch. Frankly, I’m tired of having to defend my area of academic study, but I wanted this guy–who I liked, otherwise–to understand not only what horror really means, but what it means to me. We could write our papers about anything we wanted, (and he was also fine with our going on tangents which is why this paper is kinda all over the place) so I wrote this. It is sort of my horror manifesto–My definition of horror, my ideas about why people enjoy it, and my take on how and why it is regarded in the larger culture. I’m drawing a lot from cultural and critical theory, because it’s my fav, and fundamental to a deeper understanding of the genre as a tool to understand society, and ourselves.

Sleep of Reason by Francisco de Goya

“We make up horrors to help us deal with real ones”-Stephen King

‘Horror’ is a notoriously difficult genre to define, because, in general, what is considered horrific is subjective. The definition of horror is also fundamentally tied to the question at the heart of horror theory and criticism: Why do people enjoy being scared, disgusted, horrified? Various academics have attempted to answer that question, and to various degrees of success. I will trace many of these efforts to answer the question of horrific appeal as a means to approach my own subjective theory about the meaning of horror and its overwhelming popularity.  This theory, although applicable to all horror texts—however they may be defined by the consumer—will use the horror film specifically as its subject, owing to the aforementioned popularity of the genre in this medium and the controversial nature of moving, visual representations of horrific subject matter.

This study is admittedly limited; for one, it does not utilize the proposed framework or theories to even begin an effort to determine quality. As with any genre some films are more thoughtful and powerful than others, but measurements of value are in themselves subjective and dependant on any number of personal markers. Also, it does not fully interrogate the ontological implications of the monster as ‘other’; that is, how does the monster, who embodies everything that we are not, relate to our understanding of ourselves? I’ve also skipped over examining in detail many of the proposed theories in practice in favor of presenting a more general overview of the genre. This general overview has also required that I leave out other compelling theories of horrific appeal like Torben Grodal’s which states that instead of breaking down order, horror films have the effect for audiences of actually giving them a sense of order and control in their own lives in comparison to the lives (and deaths) of the characters in the film.

I am going to approach this project by using critical horror theory to answer the questions what is horror, what does horror do, and why do people enjoy it? Much of the critical literature on horror skips over the fundamental question of what horror actually is, and goes straight into what horror does.[1] It may seem as though I’m stuck in semantics here—isn’t horror, after all, the things it does?—but establishing a working definition for ‘horror’ is necessary to establish a relatively standard criteria by which one can identify horror texts. Once something is generally determined to be a horror text, one can analyze it as such and begin to interpret what it does; that is, what are the psychological, cultural, social, political, physical processes with which it is engaged, and to what effect? From there, one can continue on to determine the appeal of the horror text (in this case, the horror film.)

In one of the seminal books on horror, The Philosophy of Horror, or Paradoxes of the Heart, author Noel Carroll defines horror as that which elicits the emotional state of “art-horror.” Art-horror is to be understood as something decidedly different from the ‘natural’ horror that one may feel in real life, at ecological disasters or Nazism in World War II. As the name suggests, art-horror is the emotion elicited from a piece of art, differentiated from the horrors of real life because of the distance that art-horror has from the immediacy of real life, ‘natural’ horrific events. That is, if one was being beaten in real life, he or she would not have the time to step back and reflect on the horror of that experience. Art-horror not only allows for, but insists upon that reflection: “…the genre of horror takes its title from the emotion it characteristically or ideally promotes; this emotion constitutes the identifying mark of horror” (14). Carroll also discusses the urge to correlate horror with the appearance of a monster figure. He problematizes this assertion by arguing that although all horror films have monsters, not all monsters signify horror; fairy tales and science fiction texts contain monsters as well, but Carroll does not consider those texts as horror because they are not necessarily intended to evoke art-horror.

The most compelling aspect of Carroll’s definition, and the part from which I will begin to build my own understanding of the genre, is the basis of it: horror is such because it elicits a horrific response from the audience. Admittedly, in this state, this definition is not an especially sophisticated one; after all, the same basic thing could be said about any genre. But that is ultimately my point: any text can be a horror text if one experiences the state of art-horror while consuming it. Carroll gets extremely specific about what he does and does not consider a horror film; for one, the horror movie has to contain a monster borne of some kind of fantastical element, one that could not necessarily exist in real life. This excludes films otherwise thought of as horror, including ones that surround a strange and troubling event (as opposed to a disrupting monster) or films like Cujo or Silence of the Lambs which feature people and animals doing seemingly horrible things (and, arguably, eliciting horrific responses) but are not unexplainable creatures. This construction of the genre speaks to the theory of horrific appeal that he develops later in the book,[2] but is, in my opinion, much too restrictive. Carroll himself notes that the extent to which he develops his definition could be too limiting for some readers, “…but a theory such as the one proposed…may still enhance our grasp not only of horror itself, but also of its contesting neighbors” (Carroll 38).  His point is well taken, and at the heart of the importance of defining the genre in the first place.


[1] Many of the critical texts, save Carroll’s (see below), may offer passing, one-sentence definitions of horror, which can be accounted for by the critic’s general attitude towards the genre: the casual, or unappreciative reviewer could find the definition as self-evident—I know it when I see it; the more focused, sympathetic critic would acknowledge the complexity and difficulty of trying to define with certainly any genre, much less one so engaged with intense ontological and social issues.

[2] Carroll argues, and persuasively, that the horrific subject matter in horror films is incidental to the viewer’s need to see his or her curiosity about the monster figure satisfied. In other words, the draw of the horror film is similar to the draw of the mystery novel: discovery. The monster falls outside of our ideas about how the world works, so we want to see the monster conquered, and the status quo returned. I actually think fairly highly of parts of this theory, but I can’t really entertain it as a whole because it basically discounts any ontological, social, cultural, or political perspectives.






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