Posts Tagged ‘Barn

09
Nov
13

V/H/S 2: Cassette Carnage

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a Primal Root review

Anthology movies, like Creepshow, Tales from the Darkside, and VHS, are so often a mixed bag of the mediocre, boring and sometimes genuinely outstanding,  which is why I am happy to report the majority of VHS 2 is a pretty horrific and entertaining ride. That is, if you can make it past the the wrap around segments which are just as dull as they were in the original VHS, and the very first story entitled “Phase 1 Clinical Trials” which is a cure for insomnia, you will be okay because it all picks up from there.

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See, in “Phase 1 Clinical Trials” we are shown the story of a young man who loses and eye and gets it replaced with a…bionic one that not only allows him to see, but records everything to a VHS recorder I’m assuming the doctors implanted up his ass. Now, why a hi-tech procedure like this would end up having the recordings of it’s clinical trial dubbed to something as defunct and rarely used as VHS is beyond me, but at least the 15:9 aspect ratio kind of makes sense, I guess. Anyhoo, the new allows this guy to see dead people meandering around his posh house out in the suburbs. He is befucked by a young woman who explains what going on and exposes her lovely tits in the process. Things go from bad, the worse, to I;m going to gouge my bionic eye out with a three pronged kitchen utensil because I’ve seen a couple ghosts over the span of 12 hours.   It’s dull/ Even by my standards, I just could not muster up the effort necissary to be interested, that is, until that fleeting moment when the read head takes her top off. Otherwise, this entry is on par with the wrap around, it fails to engage and feels like it’s there to fill up time. Eye implants have been done (Tobe Hooper’s segment in Body Bags, that terrible movie with Jessica Alba that featured a truly inspired title, etc.) and this one was not an impressive entry into that sub-genre.

DO NOT DESPAIR! I nearly did, too. Trust me, things get better.

VHS 2 MOVIE

Goddamn zombies. Those fucking things are everywhere. Prime time television to baby bibs and lunch boxes, those undead fucks are as inescapable as Mickey Mouse and Ronald McDonald. Enter “A Ride Through the PArk” the story of a young gentleman who goes on, you guessed it, a ride through the park. Things take an interesting turn when a bloody and bitten young woman collapses onto his bike trail screaming for help. Our fellow goes into help her and gets his neck chomped for his trouble. Soon he dies and transforms into a shambling, bloody, undead zombi himself and is able to record his sticky, gruesome, blood soaked escapades via the camera attached to his helmet. What makes this entry somewhat interesting is the use of POV, it’s expected, but this is the first time I have seen it happen from a flesh eating corpses perspective and it actually proves to be an interesting and darkly comical experience.  Our protagonist undead biker guy ends up devouring a couple who stop to help him out, transforming them into zombies in the process. Things hit a high note as soon as the zombies meander upon a little girls birthday party in the park. It’s one of the funniest and wildest moments in a franchise that has seemed overwhelmingly beholden to the morose and ugly. Sure, this is tragic, but my God, it’s fun watching parents scatter and children scream as they flee into the woods and mini-vans.  The zombies are doing their jobs and doing them well as the living  constantly fuck up, you know,m throwing baseball bats at creatures intent on stripping the flesh from your bones rather than hanging on to it, you know the type. Well, some of our undead biker’s humanity still remains and it leads to a sad and, again, guiltily comical finale. This entry has energy, creativity and is a hoot AND a holler. When I found out Eduardo Sanchez directed this puppy, it made me all the happier. The man was half the creative mind that brought us 1999’s “The Blair Witch Project” which helped blaze a trail for all the found footage horror film that followed. He’s also had a hand in numerous damn fine horror and sci-fi films over the past decade or so under the radar. It only makes sense that he would join The Collective who brought us he VHS franchise. Well done, sir!

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“Safe Haven” may just be my favorite short film in this batch. It tells the story of a a news crew doing an investigative piece about an Indonesian cult. The leader of this cult is small, wide eyes fellow who, it is implied, sleeps with all the little girls in his cult so that they may be “purified.” At the cult’s headquarters, which are located far off in the sticks, the news crew is thrust headlong into a very important ceremony for this cult. The tension swells as we the viewers know this is not going to end well for anyone. This segment keeps you on your toes to the very end, turns every convention on it’s head, and manages to actually be shocking and horrific in it’s Jim Jones styled story. It’s no surprise, seeing as it was directed by Gareth Evans, the gentleman who delivered one of the best, bobe crushing, martial arts films in sometime “The Raid: Redemption” in 2011. The man understand staging, suspense building and character payoff. “Safe Haven” is one very strong, stiff drink and  I don’t want to spoil a damn thing, you really need to see this short.

VHS 2 slumber

And the final segment “Slumber Party Abduction” is another entry that manages to knock it right out of the park. This entry involves a step brother and sister spending a weekend together as their parents head out of town for a vacation. The older sister invites her arrogant boyfriend over and the younger brother invited his buds and all manner of hijinks ensue.  There are water balloons, interrupted sex acts and masturbation caught on doggie cam. It’s a ll pretty sophomoric and stupid as this kind of shit always is, but THANKFULLY there’s some insidious shit going down that the hardly register to the kids until it’s literally right outside their door. What we end up with a siege film caught on tape and once the chaos begins, the action and horror never lets up until the final, frenetic moment.  you know how the second tale was told from the zombie perspective? This tale is told almost entirely from “Doggie Cam” since the dog has had a waterproof camera attached to his head. The poor little dog, Tank, captures every last terrifying moment on tape and ends this episode on a brilliant, downbeat and heartbreaking note.  Jason Eisner takes advantage of his set up by presenting terror through the eyes of several helpless children and their pint sized pooch. The kids are very natural and easy to believe, and once the shit hits the fan, each loss is felt. Damn fine piece of horror film making.

And then the movie ends with the shitty, uninspired conclusioon to the wrap around story which involves murder, crab walking, a bloody, wagging tongue and a well times thumbs up.  Come on guys, give me a fucking break.

At the end of the day. VHS2 is an upgrade over the original anthology which almost felt like an excuse to expose an ample amount of female flesh rather than present any truly affecting horror stories. Three out of four stories are solid gold which is more than I could have ever hoped for. I was braced for  disappointment and found myself surprised and fairly impressed.  It cool to have a new anthology franchise out there, especially one to feature found footage, it seems like the possibilities are limitless and could produce more great horror stories and bring unappreciated filmmakers some well earned limelight.

3 1/2 out of 5 Dumpster Nuggets. Worth checking out!

Stay Trashy!

-Root

14
Jan
13

Texas Chainsaw 3D: The Family That Slays Together…

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a Primal Root review

“Do your thing, cuz!” -Heather, Texas Chainsaw 3D

*SPOILERS AHEAD!*

Taking up directly after the events of the very first Texas Chainsaw Massacre film, literally the very afternoon after Leatherface,  Hitchhiker, Cook and Grandpa, mercilessly terrorized poor young Sally in their decrepit old farmhouse over supper, The Sawyer household is descended upon by a gang of pick-up truck driving, rifle wielding, vigilantes out for blood. Before you can say “I thought you was in a hurry!” the Sawyer clan, now numbering in the dozens (huh?) is struck down in a bloody, brutal one sided battle waged by beer swilling rednecks.  So much for that whole family of Draculas being such fierce opponents.  But one little baby Sawyer survives to be raised by an unloving, alcoholic white trash couple…sigh.

Almost 40 years later and that little Sawyer baby is now in her early twenties and a burgeoning art student who likes to use dead animal parts in her work, lives in a trendy, spacious loft with her live in unfaithful boyfriend (*spoiler alert* he’s fucking her best friend who is dating a crepe chef or something). The survivng Sawyer baby has been given the name Heather Miller. She’s a strikingly pretty, pale skinned, shapley young thing with jet black hair, a penchant for flannel and the standard issue emo hipster hairstyle. Who knew the Sawyer clan’s backwoods, inbred, hillbilly genes could produce such a sexy thing?

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Heather receives a mysterious message in the mail informing her she has just inherited the estate of a long lost relative who has just recently passed away. You know where this is headed, don’t you? Yep, she is now the proud owner of the Sawyer estate which has undergone some pretty drastic renovations since we last ventured out that way for dinner. Now it’s a two story mansion with a pool table and a Better Homes and Gardens makeover. Oh, and with plenty of room in the basement for the only other survivor of the Texas NRA Massacre, ol’ Buzzsaw Billy himself, Leatherface!

Heather and her dead bodies, I mean, best buddies, road trip it out there, inherit the estate and begin getting acquainted with the townsfolk. All of which seem wary and trigger happy that there’s so much hubbub going down at the Sawyer house.  That very first evening, as Heather pokes around the house (and her boyfriend heads off to the nearby barn to have his man utter milked by Heather’s best bud) Commando Crepe ventures down to Leatherface’s lair unleashing the maniac’s special brand of down home house warming. Nothing says Southern Hospitality like a man wearing someone else’s face and wielding a chainsaw, am I right?

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That’s right, it’s intestinal coleslaw city! Next thing you know, people are getting slammed on meat hooks, getting cut in half,  having their faces re appropriated as fashion accessories, etc. And once all the teen character’s are out of the way, the movie is only half way to the finish line! We still got a whole town of  blood thirsty, Coors swilling, Glen Beck fans to obliterate! You know that subtle gore the original Tobe Hooper “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” was known for?  Yeeeeeah, don’t expect such restraint here. There’s gut spilling in this flick that would make Jigsaw blush. It’s a smorgasbord of splatter along the lines of Tobe Hooper’s sequel,  the cleverly titled ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2″. Of course,  I am saying this about the movies gore level. Because the intelligence and wit of the original Chainsaw franchise (well, the first and Part 2) is missing in action.

Texas Chainsaw 3D is about as dumb as they come, you don’t just have to suspend your disbelief for the action that takes place in the film to make sense, you gotta whack your disbelief over the head with a crowbar and ship it to Abu Dhabi for this sucker to pass muster.  The fact that the surviving Sawyer girl is only in her early twenties,  that Leatherface has been just chilling in a basement for the past 30 some odd years, that even after being bound with her arms over her head and having her shirt torn open Heather’s gorgeous heaving breasts would stay totally covered…It’s all very stupid. Almost like… Almost like… *GASP* AN OLD SCHOOL SLASHER SEQUEL!

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Only, if this were an old school slasher film, you;d be seeing all kinds of boobage right now.

I don’t know how it happened but I genuinely enjoyed Texas Chainsaw 3D.  Sure, it was about as dumb a sack of entrails, but it did tap into that exact same level of absurd stupidity as the Friday the 13th and Halloween sequels. It’s just mayhem for mayhem’s sake and feels like some kind of missing 1980’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre sequel! Sure, they try to humanize Leatherface a bit more in this entry, but that’s kind of the plight of the sequel.  They always try to show you more of what makes these monsters tick, and in the process, unintentionally end up make them less scary.

Texas Chainsaw 3D is a bad movie. It’s just plain BAD.  Like my spelling. But you know what, I still had a blast sitting back and letting the movie do it’s business despite the near infinite dumbshit creative decisions. Probably the coolest segment of the whole damn movie was the opening credits which featured retrofitted sequences from the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre now rendered  IN 3D! The final chase where Sally is pursued by hitchhiker and Leatherface  was quite a sight to behold in the third dimension, especially after having seen the film several dozen times over the years, it gave the classic a fresh perspective. Hell, they should just re-release the original in 3D like Titanic! If I paid money for this slice of undercooked headcheese I sure as Hell would pay money to see one of the greatest horror films ever made in 3D!

But, I digress…

Texas Chainsaw 3D eschews everything that followed the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre as if those events  never happened and plays almost like a fan film. With cameos by series cast favorites (and horror convention circuit staples) as well as copious tips of the hat to the franchise, it’s obvious that this flick was made by people who have a deep admiration for the series.  Which makes me scratch my head and wonder why they didn’t make it their concern to write a Great, Hell, even a GOOD screenplay for what is essentially supposed to be the sequel to the landmark original?  Instead, they created this greasy piece of scrapple that’s enjoyable, sure it’s fun, but it doesn’t exactly feel like direct lineage to the original.  Not exactly direct blood but a far of distant second cousin in law that shares the same name.

It's Hammer Time aka: Don't get too attached to the bald guy.

It’s Hammer Time aka: Don’t get too attached to the bald guy.

Gorgeous actress Alexandra Daddario steals the show as Heather, the long lost Sawyer girl who is grappling with her family connection. Seeing her go from a lost soul to Leatherface’s keeper is pretty cool. She also has great crazy eyes that are hidden behind a  sweet, inconspicuous gaze. Seriously, when she embraces the killer inside and starts hacking and slashing while quipping like Freddy, her crazy eyes might just be the most unsettling aspect of the whole damn film. She widens those puppies, grins like the Cheshire Cat, sinks her pitchfork into folks and I ended up with the strangest boner…I still think they really missed an awesome opportunity to create a female Leatherface here. Seriously, how fantastic would it be to see some buxom young woman in a grue spattered apron, wearing someone else’s face while revving up a chainsaw and doing the infamous Leatherface shuffle? Am I alone on this? Bueller? Bueller?

Dan Yeager as Leatherface is…he gets the job done. Neither the best nor the worst Leatherface to cross paths with the franchise. Leatherface sure is getting up there in age though,  but as evidenced by Heather’s age, the basic rules of space and time need not apply in the Chainsawniverse.  Leatherface can still chase after prey with the best of them. Never running out of breath or breaking his hip.  It’s gotta be those Centrum Silvers he’s been taking. Probably his best moment is at the very end of the film when Heather interacts with him at the Sawyer dining room table after one VERY long night. It’s both oddly touching and even almost suspenseful. We finally get an extended look at Leatherface’s eyes and we can almost imagine he’s emoting. Great stuff.

I don't see how this is any different than any other night at the county fair.

I don’t see how this is any different than any other night at the county fair.

I was expecting the absolute worst walking into Texas Chainsaw 3D and, while not very good, I thought it was passable schlock fun. Sure, they turned Leatherface into much more of an anti-hero than he ever was originally, and made the whole Sawyer clan WAY more sympathetic than I feel anyone could ever try and take a family of murderous redneck cannibals, and there are plot holes so big you could speed  a big rig right through them,  but it is a nice big helping of bad movie fun. It plays it straight with no post-modern jabs at slasher movie conventions and is thick and heavy with the red sauce. It doesn’t spend it’s time trying to be witty or clever, it just wants to give us it’s story and serve us up a nice big bowl of  splatter film love.

This movie is terrible, but for those looking for an old school, brain dead,  slasher flick to gnaw on a bit, look no further.   Now get me a female Leatherface!

Stay Trashy!

-Root

09
Aug
10

Friday the 13th Part 3 or When I Began Rooting for Jason

a Primal Root review

Oh boy, Friday the 13th Part 3 is really a mixed bag of trash goodies. It was the 1983 film that ushered in the brief Reagan era 3-D craze. And ever since it’s theatrical run, until recently, every copy you came across was the 2-D version so there’s dozens of shots where things like poles, snakes and eyeballs come lunging at the camera. Seeing this movie for the first time on Cinemax when I was all of 12 in an age before the internet was widely available I had no idea this was originally shot in 3-D and thought it was the weirdest damn thing I’d ever seen. Was this some filmmaking technique I’d never heard of? Why the hell are so many of these shots from the victims perspective? Why is EVERYTHING lit?

Of course, now I own a copy that includes the 3-D gimmick, but I still prefer watching this sucker in 2-D. It’s just so much more fun. And less headache inducing.

But a film should be judged on it’s storytelling merit rather than how well the gimmick works and Friday the 13th part 3 feels a little off kilter as an entry in the original 4 part series of Friday films. And this begins right out of the gate with Harry Manfedini’s retooling of his affective trademark score into a catchy disco track which plays over popping 3-D credits. This does not evoke any kind of dread but it sure does make me want to shake my booty. Not exactly what I was expecting going into a Friday the 13th flick.

The Heart Warming "Shitting" Scene.

Picking up hours after the events of Friday the 13th part 2 this film features a new, drastically different looking Jason. No longer a slim, hairy, sack headed redneck, J-Man has at some point that day shaved, changed clothes and pounded some weight gain shakes as to be more formiddable this time around. Jason is fucking BUILT in this installment and looks like he could pick you up and break you in half over his knee. Quite a change from the string bean Jason of Part 2.

Anyway, after stalking and murdering the most disgusting white trash couple in Friday the 13th history (yes, even more so than Ethel & Son in Part 5. At least we didn’t have to watch them take a graphically noisy shit.)  who wonder around their home and general store as the evening news reports on the events of the previous film (they mention the victims being killed by an “axe wielding maniac” though Jason never uses that particular tool in Part 2. Just sayin…) and provide a little peek into their generally sad and desperate existence. Then they are both killed. It’s a cathartic moment.

Thank you, movie!

The next day we are introduced to our new cast of machete fodder. There’s Debbie and Andy, our fun loving couple who really enjoy fucking. They enjoy it so much, in fact, Debbie is established as being in the early stages of pregnancy. Now that’s an unusual bit of character development. There’s Shelly, our obligatory practical joker and douche bag extrordinare. And behind the wheel of the Scooby Van transporting our motley Crew is female lead, Chris, who may as well do a take to the camera and introduce herself as the final girl.

They pick up their Hispanic friend Vera who looks pretty Caucasian to me. Anyway, as they pick her up it looks as if the Scooby Van has spontenaously combust as smoke bellows out the open windows. Upon closer inspection it’s just their hippie stoner friends, Chuck and Chili, in the back sucking on their bongs.

"What's a weekend in the country without sex?" Andy asks a profound question in Friday the 13th Part 3.

Our band of misfits are heading to Chris’s Father’s cabin, Higgins’ Haven, out near Crystal Lake.   They arrive and Chris is grabbed by the throat and pushed up agaisnt a wall by Rick, her tool of a…boyfriend? Fuck buddy? Perverted brother?  Who, when Chris screams and runs away from the giant lug exclaims, “Did it get cold in here or is it just me?” What a charmer. Girls throw themselves at assholes like this nowadays. Just take a look at the Friday the 13th remake!

Later, Shelly and Vera incure the wrath of a trio of bikers (two of which are BLACK and have speaking roles! Another series first.) who manage to track them back to Higgins’ Haven and ratchet up our victim pool to 11. The bikers are all killed under the cover of mid-afternoon in the Higgins’ Haven barn s they attempt to burn it down. By nightfall, we join up with Chris and Rick as she describes a horrifying encounter she had with a giant behemoth in the woods with a head like a melted Milk Dud that took place a couple summers ago. Jason stalked and attacked Chris in the woods, but the strange thing is, no one knows anything about Jason in this flick. In fact, his name isn’t even mentioned. Not once in the entirety of the part 3.  This adds to the slightly obtuse feeling of this third entry.

On tonight's episode of, "OUCH! My Balls!"

Soon, all our leads begin dying. Shelly puts the moves on Vera to no availe so he decides to jump out of the lake at her with a spear gun while wearing a hockey mask. Believe it or not, this also fails to make Vera want to have sex with him. Shelly goes off to pout and get slit open thereby giving Jason his now infamous hockey mask. Vera is speared in the eye by Jason in a scene that showcases the INCREDIBLE 3-D effects. Andy gets chopped down through the genital zone as he does a head stand (YOWZA!) and his baby’s Momma gets impaled through the back after an nearly nipless shower scene. Later Chuck gets thrown into a fuse box and Chili gets impaled with a fire place poker. I’m not sure if there’s another Friday the 13th film that’s so remarkably heavy on females being fully impaled on phallic objects.  This is another weird strange moment that sets this sucker apart from the litter. For better or for worse.

Eventually Chris and Rick make it back to the cabin to find it in disarray and no one around. Rick goes out to investigate and gets his beefy, uber masculine head popped like a zit by Jason sending his eyeball soaring towards the audience in what might possibly be the the single most knee slappingly funny death in the series. Rick is such a jackass it’s truly a pleasure to watch this happen. In fact, this is probably the first film in the franchise where the majority of the characters are unlikable dickheads. The only characters I even kind of sort of care about are Debbie and Andy and you know they are meat grinder ready the second you lay eyes on them. they like to have sex, are nice people, and they both look good without their shirts.  The rest of the characters are all self centered jerks who no one in the audience can be compelled to root for. It’s a tradition the Friday the 13th franchise would carry on from part 3 to the bitter end and rebirth in 09.

Rick's got an eye on you. I'll be here all week.

Chris eventually finds herself all alone against a powerful wind storm that has erupted outside, blowing open doors and windows and causing her to cry and scream like a baby. She cries out for Rick’s help because she can’t close windows by herself. Rick pops up as his corpse is cartapulted through the living room window and Jason makes his grand entrance.

Now it’s on.

Chris and Jason run about the property as she knocks him on the noggin’ with logs, trips over rocks and drops from a rafter temporarily knocking Jason out with her ass. It’s one of the more ludicrous final girl chases in the series and therefore one of the funniest.

Jason shortly after Chris's patented Ass Attack. A move never performed again in the Friday the 13th series.

Eventually Chris gets the upper hand and sinks an axe into Jason’s melon sized cranium which puts him down for this outing.  Chris then goes canoeing into Crystal Lake where she is haunted by nightmares of Jason and is then attacked by…Mrs. Voorhees? Who rises from the bottom of Crystal Lake, head reattached, grabs chris by her tits and pulls her overboard. Not since the end of Jason Takes Manhattan have I offered such an enthusiastic WTF?  What the hell just happened?

Whether it truly happened or it’s another hallucinatory nightmare is never explained as Chris is lead to the back of a police cruiser and looks to have completely lost her fucking mind.  It’s not a great way to end the movie but it is an ending…I guess.

Mrs. Voorhees' attack prompts an O-Face from Chris.

With Friday part 3 the series really figured out what worked. Young people and edged weapons. If we have these two elements fans will return. It’s one of the clunkiest entries in the series and it shows. The whole movie feels as if it were just thrown together haphazardly with little  to no forethought.

But this weirdness, this lack of attention to GIANT plot holes and simply tossing out huge chunks of character development that are addressed and then never ever resolved or mentioned again, kind of  hysterical in a mind bogglingly moronic sort of way. In a franchise not known for it’s intellectual attributes Friday the 13th part 3 is among the dumbest in the series.

It’s big, it’s dumb and it’s intensely trashy.  It’s my least favorite of the pre-Resurrected Jason films but it’s still a damn good bit of fun. The lackluster 2-D, 3-D, gimmicks go a long way to making this entry a laugh riot.

Stay Trashy,

-The Primal Root




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