Posts Tagged ‘awkward

30
Sep
13

The Return of the Living Dead Part 2 (1988) Should Have Stayed Dead

If only this movie were half as cool as it's poster.

If only this movie were half as cool as it’s poster.

a Primal Root written review

“I feel like we’ve been here before. You… Me… Them!” – Thom Mathews as Joey in “Return of the Living Dead Part 2”

1985’s “Return of the Living Dead”  was a cynical, bleak, hilarious gory, nihilistic balls to the wall reinvention of the living dead zombie tropes,  “Return of the Living Dead part 2” is not a step back in regards to quality and creativity, but a disastrous leap backwards over a cliff onto a landfill full of busted whiskey bottles and used up ideas .  “The Return of the Living Dead’s” horror began with a shambling, rotten, corpse pleading for “More Brains!”, which is exactly what the film delivered. An intelligent, fresh and uncompromising vision of what the living dead could be when you break free from all the steadfast rules and restraint set in place by George Romero in his  1968 classic “Night of the Living Dead.”  Return of the Living Dead is fierce, brilliant and everything you could ever want from a horror film of it’s breed. It’s a one of a kind and to make a sequel would be pretty goddamn tough…especially with the ending it delivered.

Never in my wildest dreams could I have envisioned such a horrendously bad, wet fart of a sequel than “The Return of the Living Dead Part 2.” Rarely has a cinematic follow up missed the mark so widely, it’s pretty astounding. Long gone is the wit and dark sense of humor that poured forth from the original, in it’s place are lame jokes, Three Stooges Gags and cast members from the previous film, James Karen and Thom Mathews, returning  as grave robbers with nothing to do but recite their funniest lines from the original film and literally succumb to the same fate they did on the first go round. These jokes were great and worked the first time we heard them, but when you lift the best material from the first movie and reuse it line for line, it’s stale and depressing.

That's what the original "Return of the Living Dead" was missing! A plucky pre-teen protagonist!

That’s what the original “Return of the Living Dead” was missing! A plucky pre-teen protagonist!

Here’s the low down, there’s a little ginger kid named Jesse (Michael Kenworthy who also appeared in the excellent 1988 remake of “The Blob”) who lives in a developing suburb that looks eerily similar to Questa Verde from Tobe Hooper’s “Poltergeist” or that suburb where Elliot lived in Speilberg’s “E.T.” Anyhoo, the kid is chock full of quips and one liners which he unleashes on some neighborhood bullies who he ends up getting picked on by and, eventually, discovers one of those  “corpse in a can” barrels the military likes to lose all over this great nation of ours., which has come to rest in a sewage runoff near the local cemetery. Noticing a decomposing body through the barrels glass lid initially has the kids running for their lives, but as you and I both know from “Stand By Me” young boys cannot stay away from dead bodies and the lure of this corpse barrel proves to be the undoing of the two bullies picking on Jesse. Two head back later that day, bang on the barrel a little bit, and for their efforts are greeted with a nice juicy blast of 2-4-5 Trioxin, the reanimation juice introduced in the original, when the canister opens spraying the boys right in the kisser. hold on to your brains, ’cause we all know just where that leads, don’t we?

As night falls in our little hamlet, the Trioxin makes it’s way to the nearby cemetery and, as if Mother Nature is in on the joke, the sky opens up and a downpour begins soaking the soil and the corpses it contains, priming these cadavers for a night of brain skull cracking and brain slurping. Also in the cemetery are, as I mentioned before, a couple of grave robbers who happen to be the two very talented character actors, James Karen and Thom Mathews, who are for the most part just going through the motions and spouting their greatest hits for the run time and earning their paychecks for appearing in such lazy bullshit. Well, the dead come back to unlife right on cue, but this time they rise from their tombs to a goofy, Looney Tunes style score and are prone to slapstick and pratfalls as they try to pull themselves out of their graves. It’s all painfully unfunny, uninspired, and far from exciting.

Stay in school if you want Brains! Wokka, Wokka, Wokka!

Stay in school if you want Brains! Wokka, Wokka, Wokka!

Soon the movie gets into the scream-a-thon where in place of the originals frantic, insane pace and sense of panic, director Ken Wiederhorn decides to just have the characters scream nonstop for about thirty minutes. Again, this is tedious and boring. As the core cast goes on screaming and wailing, on and on and on, as they run around the suburbs, peel out in a cherry red convertible and freak out as a disembodied hand wiggles around in the back seat is enough to make you start wondering just where in the Hell you put your handgun. It’s the cinematic equivalent of a lobotomy and the epitome of shitty film making.

As you can guess, Thom Mathews and James Karen both turn into zombies and Thom manages to seduce his girlfriend into letting him eat her brains in an awkward scene where she appears to get some kind of sexual gratification as her boyfriend’s teeth crunch open her skull…Just as this occurs and ROTLDp2 dangles the possibility of getting interesting in our face, it unceremoniously yanks it away from us and we find ourselves stuck with Jesse, his sister (whose bouncing breasts during her workout routine early on hypnotized me when I was in third grade) and the dashing cable repair man (played by Dana Ashbrook from TV’s Twin Peaks) as Jesse solves every problem and saves the day…that’s right, an 8 year old kid halts the zombie apocalypse.  In a matter of hours. By luring them into a power station and then simply electrocuting them all…Ooooh, I don’t know…

A visual representation of how I am affected by allergy season.

A visual representation of how I am affected by allergy season.

I cannot express enough just how unfunny and uninspired this shitty Speilberg wannabe hunk of shit is. Replacing bold social satire, dark humor and genre innovation with claptrap kid’s movie nonsense  is a disgrace to the former film. It’s pointless, dull and only succeeds in being exceedingly forgettable. This series is, as of 2013, five films long and every single sequel manages to completely miss the point of what made the original so special. I understand that ROTLDp2 has a kind of cult following, but for the life of me, I cannot find a single person who genuinely likes this movie. If you do, I would honestly love to hear what it’s appeal is because I just can’t figure it out.

The acting is serviceable (Everyone, scream a lot! Little kid, say something sarcastic and obvious that sounds like a screenwriter wrote it as opposed to a child speaking naturally!) , the punk soundtrack and excellent score has been replaced by bargain basement hair metal and a score that would not be out of place in a Woody Woodpecker short, the set pieces are fittingly cheesy and crafted to be as comical and none threatening as possible, and the film and the story itself are lacking any teeth whatsoever which is truly saddening when considering the source material.  At the end of the day, trying to follow up “The Return of the Living Dead” with a worthy sequel is a fool’s errand. Still, to see it spawn something so half hearted, unimaginative and shockingly boring really left this fan of Trash Cinema feeling disappointed and frustrated.

Life Imitates Art: I made this exact same gesture to the television screen as soon as "Return of the Living Dead Part 2" ended!  Woooooah...

Life Imitates Art: I made this exact same gesture to the television screen as soon as “Return of the Living Dead Part 2” ended! Woooooah…

If “The Return of the Living Dead” is lightening in a bottle,   “Return of the Living Dead Part 2” is more like poop in your pants.

I give this shit smear 1/2 out of Five Dumpster Nuggets.  Approach with caution.

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

12
Feb
12

The Primal Root’s Top Five Trashy Valentine’s Day Mood Killers!

One of Primal Root’s Dirty Thoughts

Valentine’s Day is a strange holiday.  Unlike Christmas or Thanksgiving, no one gets Valentine’s Day off. It’s not like Halloween which is renown for it’s fun frights and sugar fueled excess, St. Patrick’s day with it’s green beer and date rapes, but what of Valentine’s Day? There’s no way to avoid it.  You take your special lady friend over to the pharmacy to pick up her birth control and you are greeted with aisles upon aisles of heart shaped, overpriced pieces of  cardboard stuffed with enough tooth decaying sweets to put the entire population of the east coast into a diabetic coma as well as grotesque stuffed animals that play Marvin Gaye’s “sexual healing” when you squeeze the shit out of them.  Like anyone wants that kind of sentiment coming from a furry friend such as a bear or a cat. The whole notion is sick! JUST SICK!

But, I digress,  ANYHOO,  with our collective taste in cinema, Valentine’s Day is a tricky day of the year, especially for us Trash Cinema Connoisseurs.  Which is why I am compiling this list of movies that we might watch on Valentin’s Day,  but might ruin any shot you possibly had at getting some Valentine’s Day love friction.

However, if you do watch these with that special someone and they still glance at you longingly as opposed to sheer terror before bolting out a closed window (ala: any 80’s/90’s action flick) followed by a restraining order  arriving in the mail 30 days later…you’ve found a keeper. 😉

On with the awkward, grueling and stomach churning!

5) Street Trash (1987) dir. J. Michael Muro

Because if there’s a batch of thing you want to think about when you’re groping your lover after dinner at 4 star restaurant, it’s the aroma of a career New York City hobo. Street Trash tells the tail of the internal strife and trouble of the immense Hobo population of NYC who live in a sprawling metropolis of filth and shit puddles down at the local dump.  A new threat has been introduced into their world in the form of a long lost batch of booze known as Tenafly Viper which turns anyone who drinks it into a thick, brightly colored puddle of glop. The very first unlucky victim end up slowly, horrifically and semi-comically melting into a toilet and inadvertently flushing himself down it.

Street Trash is a sick and twisted little film that comes off feeling like one of Peter Jackson’s long lost early works.  the film features necrophilia, an fairly nightmarish group rape,  police officer’s beating people within an inch of their lives and then puking on them, and a moment where a lovely young woman nearly gives a bum a blowjob…a filthy, stinky bum who hasn’t bathed in months and has been sporting the same pair of crusty B.V.D.’s out in the summer heat. Who in the world would put themselves through that?

As hobos melt, women get repeatedly raped and fat guys explode, Street Trash is sure to douse the flames of burgeoning passion pretty fucking fast, my friends.

 

4) The Brood (1979) dir. David Cronenberg

Ah, David Cronenberg. The master of body horror and making us not only feel intense anxiety regarding our physical being but basic human interaction in general. Which could be the reason he appears TWICE in my Top 5 Valentine’s Day Mood Killers List.  The man have a panache for pulling the rug out from under the typical sappy cinematic notions of love, romance, sex (that’s for damn sure) and the notion of a classical happy ending. Hence, his 1979 classic embittered divorcee film, “The Brood”.

Speaking from a experience, unless you are with a partner that is incredibly confident, bringing up an old relationship or flame is a sure fire way to throw a bucket of cold water on any kind of romantic moment.  I know many guys and girls are guilty of that whole past relationship jealousy trap. It’s ridiculous when you boil down, hell, you’re with this person now but for some reason you can;t get over the fact that *gasp* your lover had a life before you! You should be thanking your lucky stars their ex (girlfriend, boyfriend, wife, husband, gimp, dominatrix, stalker, etc.) isn’t manifesting their intense bitterness and hatred into child sized, hoodie sporting, murderous minions born through saggy, goop filled abdominal pulp sacks…Really. You’ve got it good.

The Brood is one of those films that’s going to do little else than make you and your closest companion feel uncomfortable. You’ll end up watching and imagining a few psycho ex-partners and how if they could make little midget killer sacks pawns grow out of their gut fat and come after you with malicious, creeping rage and a meat clever in hand, they would not hesitate to do so.  And who in the world wants that shit running through their head when you’re laying on the cough with your lover in your arms?  And nothing brings on a make out session like a woman gnawing open some grotesque, dripping belly goiter and then licking the living contents clean with her tongue. No amount of smooth talking is going to get the mood back after that kind of viewing experience.

 

3) I Spit On Your Grave (1978) dir. Meir Zarchi

Oh boy…yeah, I guess this one really goes without saying, but if you REALLY want to obliterate a sweet, lovey-dovey evening beyond the point of no return? Meir Zarchi’s quintessential rape/revenge epic is your weapon of choice. When you absolutely, positively have to turn off every mother fucker in the room? Accept no substitute.

But, in all honesty, rape is probably the last subject you want to bring up with perspective girl/boyfriend let alone an established relationship. I Spit On Your Grave features one of the longest gang rape sequences ever committed to film. Just when you think our victim/avenger, Jennifer (the stunning and talented Camille Keaton) has escaped she runs afoul of another rape happy redneck ready to violate her.

I Spit on Your Grave is the purest antithesis of the Valentine’s Day mood setter.  Between the jaw droppingly vicious rape sequences to the well deserved revenge of Jennifer’s, which reaches it’s pinnacle during a bubble bath castration sequence that just made my genitals recede into my abdomen at just the recollection of it, I Spit on Your grave is pound for pound the heavy weight champ of the awkward evening with your sweetheart.  Which might be why I Spit on Your Grave has become a tradition on Valentine’s Day in the Root household. I’m kind of a weirdo, gang, it’s time you learned this.

SO! Unless you want to watch this thing out of some odd, twisted, trash cinema sense of logic like I do, I would keep I Spit on Your Grave OFF your Valentine’s Day viewing itinerary.

2) Cutting Moments (1997) dir. Douglas Buck

Ahhh, the American Dream perpetuated by the constant rotation of the Hollywood conveyor belt. The beautiful wife, the kids, the quaint house in the suburbs with the white picket fence.  These are the measures of success as prescribed to us by society at large. It’s a common, cliched romantic notion that so many of us buy into hook line and sinker. But, as we have gathered through our own experiences of watching relationships and people around us fall apart due to the constant struggle to attain these perceived obligations,  the dream more often than not, fails.

But on Valentine’s Day no one wants to believe in unhappy endings! that things won;t all work out for the best! One things for certain, if you do decide to get hitched, produce some hell spawn, get a mortgage and dwell int he suburbs there’s a good chance things will never reach the level of bloody desperation chronicled in Douglas Bucks’ short film, “Cutting Moments”.

I’ve seen a lot of sick, dark, depressing, stuff, gang. But never have I seen a more harrowing portrayal of an American nuclear family marred by repression, guilt, shame, secrets and lies. My god (Cthulhu) watching this not even 10 minute long short film is just about all you’ll ever need top swear off marriage forever!  The majority of the film is spent in silence with nothing more than the empty sounds of cutting. Whether it’s trimming the hedges, or cutting up carrots. Hardly anyone speaks.These people are so dead inside already it’s like they live in a tomb. There’s no passion, no love, no spark and there’s even the insinuation of child molestation. My god,  did that rhyme?  It’s like they live in a vacuum. It’s only when wife and mother, Sarah, takes drastic measures to put the intimacy back into the relationship with her husband that the blood finally flows back into their lives reminding them once again of the flesh and blood that makes them human.

Too many folks lie to themselves and tell themselves they are with the right person in order to fulfill these empty societal ideals. They get hitched, pop a baby or two out and then either hold all their resentment and bitterness inside or get divorced and use their kids as emotional leverage against their former spouse. It’s all just as sick and saddening as what’s present in Cutting Moments. Watching this puppy on Valentine’s Day is sure to fill your head with enough “What if’s” to have you heading to bed along that night.

1) The Fly (1986) dir. David Cronenberg

Alright, now this is a love story! It really is! When watching Cronenberg’s masterful remake of The Fly it’s easy to forget about the love story at hand taking place between journalist, Veronica and Seth Brundle, the brilliant young scientist working on a breakthrough in matter transference. Veronica falls hard for the quirky, charming, and intelligent Brundle and they begin a whirlwind romance.  Two smart, attractive, young people in love…what could go wrong?

Holy fuck…

The Fly is like a check list of all the things that could possibly go wrong in a loving relationship. Clingy, stalker ex boyfriend? CHECK! Being careless and doing incredibly stupid things in order to prove your love to your partner in a fit of misguided jealousy? CHECK! Inide-Out bloody monkey moosh? CHECK! These two start out as such a believably cute and perfect couple that it makes all the events that much more tragic as Seth begins his transformation from his sweet, adorable, self into a sickly, revolting monster replete with loose body parts and a need to vomit on everything. It’s a terrifying and devastating transformation as we watch, along with Veronica, her love disintegrate and go mad before her very eyes.

The Fly is one of the most epic of all cinematic tragic love stories.  Many critics and commentators have weighed in on the film’s apparent HIV/AIDS subtext, and that’s a smart deciphering of the film, for sure. But The Fly is also a testament to how truly heart wrenching and deeply devastating love can be.  Veronica is unable to leave Seth’s side and tries to help him, to take care of him, however she can only to end up, with all hope lost, and having to come to terms with losing the one she loved and putting the beast he has become out of it’s misery.  Only someone who really feels love and compassion for another is willing to do such a thing.

Upon first viewing it’s easy for the love story to get lost under a puddle of neon green battery acid fly man digestive puke. But once you get over that initial shock and awe you begin to fully realize and appreciate the romantic tragedy that is, The Fly. By the end of the film you and your sweetheart may have a deeper understanding of the obligations true love requires. Well, this is kind of a drastic example, but you catch my drift. It’s not much of a romantic notion, but in some situations, there are no happy endings. Even if you’re in love.

Well, those are my top 5 Valentine’s Day Mood Killers! Keep in mind, these are just my picks. There are about a million flicks out there to choose from and I would love to hear which Trash Cinema Epics you recommend as the true cinematic equivalents of a romance epicac. Please, drop us a line in our comments! I would love to hear some of your favorites. 😀

Until next time, remember to wrap it up every time, don’t name it after me and love the one you’re with!HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!

Stay Trashy,

-Root

15
Dec
10

Hard Rock Zombies: Night of the Creeping Sex Offender

a Primal Root review

Admittedly, the cheesy movie fan is kind of an oddity unto himself. Someone who won’t go see Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen because it’s a contrived multi-million dollar hunk of dog shit but will spend countless hours looking for the next “Manos”: The Hands of Fate that they can laugh their asses off at with their pals while downing some rot gut in the comfort of their own living room. Well, my fellow collectors, you will be happy to hear I have come across one of the strangest pieces of Trash I’ve ever witnessed. It’s a greasy, hairy, spandex clad monstrosity from 1984 entitled, Hard Rock Zombies.

Rocking Hard or Hardly Rocking? If we're talking about the hair then they most certainly are Rocking Hard.

Now, you can never judge a movie by its title. At first, Hard Rock Zombies sounds like it could be just fine– Zombies rising from their graves to munch on the warm, gooey flesh of the living as metal music blares over the soundtrack and the arterial spray spatters against the wall. Alas, no dice. Instead we get a hairy, sleazy quartet of rockers lead by the mustachioed lead vocalist and guitarist, Jessie. They play nightly to crowds of about a dozen or so young women decked out in their leopard print spandex and requiring a cheering track as they couldn’t quite work up the excitement to cheer while they were actually on camera at the concert.

This young lady immediatley contracted a venereal disease upon having her breasts signed by Jesse.

Once their introductory concert is over and the audience endures a scene where they all hang around in their tight little underwear and fiddle around with their junk, they head out for their next scheduled concert in a town by the name of Grand Guignol (SUBTLE!!), a small town Jessie has been warned to stay away from by a young pre-teen girl named Cassie. The warning goes unheeded and as the band rides off in their van while chanting a tune that will raise the dead (Jessie read about it in a “book”) they pick up a scrawny blonde hitch-hiker chick who invites them to stay at her family’s mansion.

'Don't be so quick to judge' might be the message of Hard Rock Zombies. After all, this...being could just be bringing us cookies and rainbows! Nope, just a tack hammer to bludgeon us to death.

Just wait till you meet this bunch. One-eyed midgets, wheelchair bound werewolf grannies, bald-headed blood spattered chicken slayers and even a retired 90-something year old Adolf Hitler who bangs werewolf lady at night with an audience of midgets he calls his grandchildren. And you say that the Sawyer clan from Texas Chainsaw Massacre had awkward family get-togethers! Needless to say, the band sees nothing wrong here, and is even mildly charmed. Upon arrival and hearing constant screams of agony coming from the mansion the band’s keyboardist sheepishly asks the little blond minx, “Um, excuse me. I don’t mean to be rude, but what’s with all the screaming?” Were people just more accepting of this kind of behavior in the 80’s? I suppose this was post-Manson pre-Waco America. Still, no red flags go up? Not one?

As the band hypes the town up over the impending HARD ROCKING by way of a dancing montage where the band members hop, skip, jump and mime (yes, mime), Jessie spots Cassie again and chases her across town. Over the course of the film, Jessie falls madly in love with this 16-year old girl. So much so he writes a tender yet shitty love ballad just for her. His love is so passionate it is already penned and rehearsed to perfection by the band.

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And so, night falls as the band recuperates from a painful but not fatal electrocution at the Freak residence. And it is them after much anticipation, the Freak family ACTUALLY decides to kill the band! This had me cheering in my living room as one by one these hair band rejects get slaughtered in very cheap and awkward ways. The keyboardist and bassist get murdered by werewolf granny, who regains the power to walk when she puts on her wolf mask. Um, Jessie gets crucified on an oak tree and then receives a weed whacker to the chest and the drummer gets it while naked in the shower with the blond hitcher as they try to recreate the legendary scene from Psycho.

I wonder if Alfred Hitchcock was flattered by this far more genital heavy homage to his now legendary scene?

Halfway through the running time and we’re one step closer to actually having some zombies show up now that the entire band is murdered. The small town residents bury the guys a foot or two deep in the front yard of Freak Manor and call it a day. Cassie has a harder time letting go. She sits beside Jessie’s grave and plays her favorite cassette tape of theirs that just so happens to feature… the same REANIMATION ROCK we heard them playing in the van earlier! The four fellows rise from their graves to march around town doing some strange dance before getting their vengeance against the Freaks who killed them.

Oddly enough, our story doesn’t end there. Before you can say “This movie is retarded” those killed by the band rise up from the dead to begin killing anew. That’s right. Zombie Hitler, Werewolf granny, zombie midgets and ever a zombie interpretive dancer! They are all back to tear about the quaint little town of Grand Guignol to pieces.

Will the band impress the big wig record executive now that they are dead? Can Grand Guignol be saved from the zombie apocalypse? Will the band ever be able to convincingly fake-play their instruments? Will there be any explanation as to why the midget zombie has decided to ride a cow? Will any of the severed head jokes make me laugh? Will Hitler’s gas chamber in the Cave of Death come in handy? You’ll just have to check this puppy out to see!

The grave diggers must have anticipated their reanimation since they just threw dirt ontop of the band rather than burying them. Good thinking! That saves time.

In all honesty, probably the only truly disturbing aspect of the entire film is Jessie’s strange lusting for Cassie. The 12 year old girl. The man writes songs about her. He runs after her as she flees. He even corners her to give her a sentimental ring which seems to win her over. There’s even a fantastic fantasy sequence that takes place towards the end of the film as the now zombified band rocks out their brand new Monster Ballad “Cassie” where Jessie sees himself running to embrace his little girl love in a secluded area of the woods while he is decked out in a white leisure suite and a matching ascot. This can only be the sexual fantasy of a mustachioed pedophile with a rotting brain and a taste for the tacky. That sequence was the one that elicited a serious reaction from me, a strange combination of nervous laughter and stomach churning.

Jesse, and his not yet legal love interest, Cassie.

The film reaches a climax as the town folks realize the only way to appease the zombie is to let them gang bang a virgin girl to death. AND THE TOWN FOLKS ARE COOL WITH THIS! They find this information in some random book (probably the same one Jessie got the Raise the Dead song from) and decide it’s time to sacrifice Cassie’s sweet, virginal love outlet to the hordes of the undead who probably can’t get it up anyway.

I mean, kudos for originality, but I have a feeling there was some creative force on this project who liked the prospect of a very young girl getting fiddled with a bit too much. The film already makes one feel dirty while watching it simply due to the production values but the added bonus of this strange Lolita complex makes me want to incinerate my clothes and take a scalding hot bath while trying to scrub away the stain on my soul with a Brill-O Pad and AJAX.

You know who else enjoyed rising from the dead to eat living flesh...

Hard Rock Zombies is a one of a kind film and is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before, and hopefully, you will ever see again. It’s awkward, bargain basement schlock that is hard to really get a grip on because there’s just so much zany shit going on in every dang scene! People running around with giant pictures of faces to avoid zombie attacks, people fondling dead women’s breasts, old men ascending to heaven after providing exposition, men parading around in tightey whiteys! It must be seen to be believed, and even then, you may not be able to wrap your mind around it.

This was my expression as I sat through Hard Rock Zombies.

In the pantheon of zombie cinema, Hard Rock Zombies undoubtedly is among the very worst. The scummy film at the very bottom of the Trash Cinema dumpster. But no viewer can deny its gonzo kind of creativity and originality. I mean, it didn’t transform into anything good. But, for those of us who find the appeal in the trashiest of bad movies, these are the flicks we are looking for. We’re not looking for something “good.” We’re looking for the forgotten. The oddities. The films everyone else threw away and banished to obscurity decades earlier. And for those of us who make up The Collective we find the beauty in such trash. And that’s what always keeps us searching and, in the end, always coming back for more.

Stay Trashy!

-The Primal Root




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