Posts Tagged ‘battle

17
Feb
20

(NSFW) The Arena (1974) Ferocious Female Freedom Fighters

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“The Romans have taught you to live like an animal!” Pam Grier as Mamawi in The Arena

a Primal Root written review

Do you like gladiator movies? Son, if the gladiator movie you’re speaking of stars such absolute goddesses and B-Movie Trash Cinema Legends as Pam Grier and Margaret Markov, you bet your stanky little ass I do! Coming off the red hot success of the 1973 prison break flick, Black Mama,White Mama, producer Roger Corman was quick to bank on the appeal of those two amazonian beauties for yet another action packed no-budget flick and came up with the sandals and savagery epic known affectionately as The Arena. 

The film begins in ancient Rome where we are witness to several raids and murder fests by the Romans where peaceful Druids and perpetually dancing tribes have their groovy rituals interrupted with unprovoked surprise blood shed where everyone is chopped into brisket and only the sexiest are kept alive to be sold into slavery. Among those captured are the tall, blonde, gorgeous Druid Priestess Bodicia (Margaret Markov) and the absolute knock out, Mamawi (Pam Grier) who are to be auctioned off to some poor white fat slob in a toga where I personally can’t imagine any of these badass, muscular, obviously strong and hardened women being forced to do ANYTHING by these wimpy dough boys. But, I will do my best to suspend my disbelief as the incredible specimens of womanhood are shackled and paraded out in rags.  Thankfully, Bodicia, Mamawi and two fellow captives are sold to an incredibly wealthy Roman ruler named Timarchus (Daniele Vargas). The ladies are quickly stripped nekkid, washed up, put in shiny new clothes and forced to work as servants to the spectators in…THE ARENA! Where gladiators are forced to fight to the death night after night for the amusement of the fat, drunk wealthy pigs sitting up above the kill floor.

However, the crowds have grown bored with watching men fighting animals and other men so Timarchus is looking for the next big thing to keep the masses pleased and complicit int heir lifestyle. When he witnesses the enslaved women having a knock down, drag-out fight in the kitchen, he realizes the pleasures of woman on woman battle and Female of Female Gladiatorial Death Battle is born! The appeal is obvious and the popularity instantaneous. But as these lady gladiators are forced the kill one another for the sweaty, worthless, wealthy they begin to plot a bloody, brutal rebellion to overthrow the powers that be and reclaim their freedom.

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Not nearly as misleading as it might seem, there actually were women gladiators, the minimal budget of The Arena is aided tremendously by being shot in Cinceitta, Italy’s primary studio, which provided sets, props and costumes which added to the production value.  There is great attention paged to the savagery and callous nature of the gladiatorial combat and barbarity of the time period, which works really well when juxtaposed with a love story that blossoms between one of the slaves and a battle trainer as well as the relationships that grow between the lead characters who come from drastically different backgrounds who must work together to overthrow the powers that be. And once you get past the gratuitous forced shower scene early in the film, The Arena is fairly restrained when it comes to it’s nudity. Of course, there is plenty of lovely female bodies on display, but it is far less gratuitous than you’d expect from an exploitation movie of this caliber.

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Grier and Markov are both a delight to watch on screen. Their battles in The Arena are not particularly well choreographed, but the actresses give it their all no matter what is called for and the audience cannot help but feel for their plight as they are forced to battle and murder their friends in the ring. And once they rise up and begin to revolt, I genuinely felt concern and hoped they would make it out of their enslaved Hellhole and reclaim their freedom. It’s hard not to cheer as these sweaty, blood, scantly clad warrior women hack, chop, and slash their way to freedom through a plethora of Roman soldiers desperately trying to cut them down. Pam Grier would, of course, became one of the hardest working actresses to come out of the era and became a cinematic icon while Markov ended up marrying one of The Arena’s producers, Mark Damon, made one more film entitled There Is No 13, and retired from acting.

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The Arena has a pretty impressive horror pedigree with Joe D’Amato (director of Emanuelle in America and Antropophagus) as the film’s cinematographer and Joe Dante (director of Gremlins, The Howling and Piranha) as editor. Rumor has is D’Amato helped out tremendously with the film’s extended battle scenes and was said to have taken over directing duties for those scenes from credited director Steve Carver who went on to direct Big Bad Mama and Lone Wolf McQuade.  Another fun fact, filmmaker Martin Scorsese (Taxi Driver, Goodfellas) claims Roger Corman offered him the directing duties for The Arena after Scorsese finished his film Boxcar Bertha. Instead, Scorsese decided to go on and direct Mean Streets instead.

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The Arena was one of the final death gasps of a long Hollywood cinematic tradition of sand and sandal epics. The genre went into hibernation for a couple decades before being resurrected by Ridley Scott with the Oscar winning 2000 film, Gladiator. The story is pretty similar to The Arena, only recasting the lead as a white guy, one cannot help but wonder if, possibly, there might be some inspiration obtained through this Pam Grier & Margaret Markov vehicle.

The Arena is a dramatic, fun, very entertaining bare bones tale of injustice and rising up against those who own us. Despite it’s obvious low budget, the production values are solid, the story is streamlined and well told, the performances are far above average and sell the drama better than one might expect, and it;s impossible to keep your eyes off Margaret and Pam who both are just gorgeous, dynamic performers who give their all no matter what the limitations of the movie are. The performances from these two ladies are what make the film an infinitely watchable piece of classic Trash Cinema well worth your time.

I award The Arena  FOUR out of FIVE DUMPSTER NUGGETS.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

30
Jul
17

(NSFW) Malabimba: The Malicious Whore (1979) The Spirit Wants Inside You…DEEP Inside You.

 

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“You have to look. You have to.” – Malabimba, Malabimba, The Malicious Whore (1979)

a Primal Root written review

You know, some movies you have to wait for them to really warm up and get moving. You’re introduced to characters, you learn who they are, their motives and the roles they play in the narrative, then around the twenty minute mark we get to the inciting incident that sets the thrust of the plot in motion and we continue going through the motions from there. You know what I;m saying? Snooze-A-Rama. Malabimba, the 1979 Italian genre blender flick of supernatural horror and pornography does not suffer from any such issue. No, it hits the ground running and does not let up till the final goddamn frame. Whoever coined the term, “All killer, no filler” might have been talking about Malabimba: The Malicious Whore, because holy fuck is thing a full throttle psycho sexual taboo bending fuck fest like few I’ve ever had the pleasure to endure zipper burn watching, hot diggity dog!

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Young, shy, nubile teenager Malabimba’s (Katell Laennec) mother, and matriarch of a once influential and prosperous (they live in a goddamn CASTLE!) Caroli family, has just recently passed away due to a slight case of MURDER under mysterious circumstances.  The film opens on a seance where the family is attempting to contact her spirit for reasons that are not made clear.   Unfortunately for them, but fortunately for the viewing audience, their medium starts flipping the fuck out before becoming possessed by the perverted, malicious, absolutely vicious spirit of the decadent late cousin Lucrezia who immediately begins berating, insulting and sexually assaulting the family. Pop’s  (Andrea played by Enzo Fisichella) has his pants yanked open and his party favor yanked upon before Bimba’s Aunt/Andrea’s voluptuous sister-in-law, Nais (Patrizia Webley) gets her dress torn off exposing her for the entire family to admire then begins making the medium writhe all over the floor in orgasmic screams of horrified ecstacy. As the family carries on with the half nekkid ghostly shenanigans downstairs,  the spirit soon flees to other area of the house, first dropping in on the House Nun/Nurse Sofia (Mariangela Giordano, Peter Bark’s mother in Burial Ground), and gets her masturbating a bit before being forced out of Sofia via Sofia’s strong faith in the big boss man in the sky. NOT TO WORRY!  Quickly after this rejection, the ghost of Lucrezia lays her eyes upon Malabima…who makes the perfect vessel for her rude, perverse, sexually charge atrocities to be acted out upon her family…

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It’s the perfect goddamn set up and Malabimba has it ALL. Incest, profanity, teen sexuality, Nunspolitation, hypocrisy, softcore pornography laced with heavy duty penetration inserts, demonic spirit possession, cock grabbing,  pussy munching, unholy seduction, good vs. evil conflict, murder by oral sex, just to name a few. This is what Malabimba has to offer in a none stop sleazefest that must be seen and experienced to believe. It’s the kind of film that will leave your mind blown out of the back of your head and splattered against the back of your LA-Z-BOY. This is not a sweet, kind, romp in the sheets, no, there is no safety net in any of the unholy love pumping on display in Malabimba, this is a film which boldly charts a moral destroying course to create a filthy, disturbing, highly atmospheric, creepy and erotically charged nightmare unlike any you’ll ever see again.

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Directed by the highly underrated and often overlooked purveyor of many fine Italian Trash Cinema classics as 1981’s Burial Ground, 1976’s Strip Nude For Your Killer and 1972’s What the Peeper Saw, filmmaker Andrea Bianchi has crafted a powerfully nasty, sacrilegious, taboo busting masterpiece in a career built upon such giddy sleaze and exploitation.  Seriously, less than ten minutes in Malabimba’s run time and you already have a 90 minute film worth of drippy, sexual naughtiness. And I am not overstating the facts, it IS this loaded with skin and horror. It feels as if the film is always trying to top itself scene for scene by upping the horror and sex ante, and for this lover of fine filth, it is something I truly admire. This film is all you could ever want and I loved every second of it.

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Honestly, the horror elements are somewhat fleeting as they are generally used as a means to an end leading to sexual encounters which range from disturbing and awkward to down right erotic, sensual and titillating . What really impresses is the fact that the story, as it is, and the characters are not just defined by their salacious nocturnal activities I found myself wondering through the entire film just what will become of the young Malabima and the target of her evil seductive prowess, Sister Sofia, will she stay on the righteous path or end up pulled down to the bowels of Hell by giving in to the cruel sex kitten? Malabimba: The Malicious Whore is sexploitation cinema at it’s down and dirty trashiest, which is it’s grandest form, if you ask me. If you think you might like your sexploitation tasteless and over the edge, and you are not offended by the sight of penises entering vaginas and/or mouths, I highly recommend Malibaba: The Malicious Whore. But you don’t have to take my word for it!

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I PROUDLY award this Grade A slice of filth FIVE out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets!

Do not miss this suckers! By the way, this puppy is available to rent on DVD at Cap City Video Lounge in Tallahassee, Florida. 😉

Stay Trashy!

-Root

21
Aug
16

Fright Night (1985)The Rejection of Hot Cocoa or Why Your Girlfriend is Hotter When She’s Evil

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“I have just been fired because nobody wants to see vampire killers anymore, or vampires either. Apparently all they want to see are demented madmen running around in ski-masks, hacking up young virgins.” – Roddy McDowall as Peter Vincent: Vampire Killer in Fright Night

a Primal Root written review

By the mid-1980’s horror cinema was dominated by low brow exploitation slasher horror cinema. Every weekend seemed to bring us another holiday themed blood bath filled with nekkid, pot smoking teens being chased down and hacked into oblivion by some silent masked killer or catch phrase spouting dream demon. By 1985, the formula was old hat and there a resurgence in appreciation for the classics. Tom Holland’s fun, sexy, highly entertaining directorial debut, Fright Night, is one of the most unabashed and perfect examples of what can be done when two genres are expertly amalgamated.

Fright Night seamlessly and joyfully the hard lined, effects driven spectacle of the late 1970’s and early 80’s horror genre made famous be the likes of George Romero, John Carpenter and John Landis, along with the fun, campy nature of many Hammer and Universal Classics. Fright Night is a film that generates it’s frights, laughs and boundless charm from the audience’s knowledge of horror cinema history. Fright Night is a film that bridges a gap between a simpler seeming time in the genres past and fully embraces the gnarly, grotesque necessities of the current 1980’s horror audience and succeeds in creating something familiar as well as new and enjoyable from start to finish.

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Fright Night tells the tale of virginal high school horror movie aficionado, Charlie Brewster (William Ragsdale), who is having relationship problems with his equally virginal high school sweetheart, Amy (Amanda Bearse). Charlie becomes convinced that his new next door neighbor, Jerry Dandridge (Chris Sarandon) is a a serial killer, one who has been decapitating prostitutes and draining their bodies of blood…He is also convinced that Jerry is, indeed, a mother fucking vampire.

When Charlie convinces a police detective to investigate Jerry and his live-in buddy Billy Cole (Jonathan Stark), but once the detective and Charlie set foot into Jerry’s home and Charlie’s suspicions are made clear, he is mocked, laughed at and told he is a fool…but this also means Jerry Dandridge, who is ACTUALLY a very powerful vampire, now knows the nosey kid next door is on to him and pose a very real threat to his existence.

Jerry comes to Charlie with a compromise; forget that he is a vampire and live, or continue being a little fuck face who tries to convince people that I’m a vampire and I’ll rip your little teeny bopper head off, drink your blood and then shit it down your neck stump. Of course, Charlie being one of the rare breed, pure of heart sort of kids, refuses to ignore evil. In return, Jerry retaliates by seducing both Charlie’s girlfriend Amy and his one and only friend, Evil Ed (Stephen Geoffreys). Charlie, who has no siblings and whose Mom works the night shift at the hospital and has a singular remedy for  vampire onslaught in a mug of hot cocoa, which Charlie adamantly DOES NOT NEED, is totally useless. Plus his Father is completely absent without a mention of his whereabouts or existence.

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Out of options, Charlie turns to the unlikely aid of a late night horror movie host of the program ‘Fright Night’, classic horror film actor, Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall, who owns this movie, by the way). Nightly, Mr. Vincent boasts about his knowledge and fearlessness when it comes to battling vampires to their undead deaths. But, in real life, Mr. Vincent is a coward when confronted with the supernatural. It is up to this unlikely duo, Charlie and Peter Vincent, to vanquish the evil Jerry Dandridge in time to save Amy, who is slowly transforming into red headed sexy blood sucking minion of the undead!

So why the lasting impression? The cult status? The deeply devoted fan base and high regard from cinema devotees? Simply put, the film is absolute god damn pleasure to watch. It plays to everyone! Hardcore horror aficionados, casual cinema goers, sick demented trash cinema collective members, Fright Night pleases everyone. The violence is so over the top, colorful, fantasy based and imaginative, it’s never really disturbing as much as it is just good old fashion spook house fun.

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The actors all perform at the top of their game. Chris Sarandon as the incredibly suave and seductive vampire Jerry Dandridge conveys brutal menace and a confident swagger and joyful glee, but also manages to mix in a bit of humanity to a very old, very sophisticated creature of the night, making Jerry an unforgettable antagonist. Ragsdale is a perfect choice for the strong willed, in over his head, Charlie Brewster, likewise, Amanda Bearse as Amy conveys doe eyes innocence so well, it;s kind of annoying as shit. But it works in the favor of the character’s story arch, her relationship with Charlie keeps her almost as a child it is only when she is seduced by Jerry that her sexual awakening occurs, her physical appearance begins to change, drastically so soon after Jerry, *AHEM* slides his fangs into her causing ribbons of warm red blood to stream down her back in a not too subtle symbol of her virginity being taken. As she starts to turn, her hair goes red, she shows off her lovely tits through a see through white gown, and she aggressively attempts to seduce those around her so that she, too, can stick her fangs in them. It’s always fascinated me whenever women go evil in movies how much sexier they become. Like Lily in Legend, sure, she’s cute in all in her white gown, flowery head dress and shit, but as soon as she gets into the all black ensemble and starts dancing around with a confident, assured look of a woman who has been through Hell and back, knows pain, pleasure, desire and is world wary of these things, that’s when I find myself getting a chub. Besides, there are few turn offs greater than innocence. But that could just be me.

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Stephen Geoffries, who notoriously would turn to a career in homoerotic porn for the majority of his career, turns in one of the most excellent, go for broke performances as Evil Ed. Evil Ed is obviously an outsider, seemingly hyper active with a penchant for saying what’s on his mind, he seems like a bit of a nerd and someone who has been picked on his whole childhood. He plays the majority of the film as a kind of gonzo comic relief, but again, one of the strengths of Fright Night is when these seemingly stock and familiar characters are expanded upon. Two stand out scenes for Evil Ed always come to mind as the highlights of the film. When Evil Ed is seduced with the promise over never being picked on or bullied ever again, if only he takes the hand of Jerry Dandridge. It’s a beautiful moment as Evil Ed first cowers and then opens up to the idea of having someone, finally having someone who gives his word to stand up for him. Of course, it;s an evil creature of the night, so he will only become a kind of errand boy or good for Jerry, but I guess it beats going to high school. Also, Evil Ed’s ****SPOILER**** death is pitch perfect. It’s outstanding on so many levels, this teenage boy, who has given his soul away for vampiric powers, has now been impaled through the heart while he is in the form of a wolf. The physical effects are astounding through this sequence as we watch a dying Evil Ed in pure agony transform back into his human form slowly, painfully, mercilessly. He screams out in agony, at first as an unrecognizable half man half beast, who reaches out for comfort from a shell shocked and mortified Peter Vincent, the man who put the stake through his heart. Ed reaches for contact, someone to comfort him as he passes away and Peter almost reaches out to do so, before remembering just what he’s dealing with, and draws his hand back. As Ed fades away, and now looks exactly like himself, he gives Peter Vincent a tearful smile of regret as he dies, soulless, a being of evil and most assuredly heads straight down to Hell. Roddy andStephen are both excellent in the scene, and if you ask me, it might just be the best moment of the entire film, as these two work off one another beautifully.

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Which bring me to Roddy McDowall as Peter Vincent. This man is the heart and soul of Fright Night. As the aging, retired, reluctant and increasingly irrelevant Fearless Vampire Hunter, Roddy brings a beautiful, funny, sympathetic character to life with so much charm and charisma, you cannot help but love the man. He enlivens each and every scene he’s in with heart and warmth in a performance so wonderful, you;ll forget the man played a monkey four damn times.

There are a lot of overt sexual elements to Tom Hollands’ exceptional horror flick, Fright Night, but one of the messages I always found most noble is that horror, as a genre, is a necessity for youngsters. Suggesting that knowledge of how to deal with the evils of vampires and their ilk will come in handy, we just never know when. Fright Night is provocative, daring but also, in a sense innocent and nostalgic. It arrived at just the right time in 1985 as horror cinema was becoming stale on it’s steady stream of stale slasher flicks. Fright Night is among the finest horror films of the 1980’s. It’s wickedly comical, the performances, again, are all excellent and the practical effects, decades later, hold home remarkably well and are astounding to behold. It’s also  successful in transplanting the vampire myth from far away mountains of Transylvania and establishing them in the suburbs, a place where the forces of evil can move in right next door, and if you’re not paying attention, infiltrate your entire town…

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Bolstered by a rad 80’s soundtrack, Fright Night is a colorful, imaginative, well crafted and most importantly, FUN, non stop love note to horror’s cinematic history. One I feel has never been topped, let alone, matched.

I award Fright Night (1985) Five out of Five Dumpster Nuggets.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

03
May
15

Master of the Flying Guillotine (1977)

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A John (Whiskey Sour) Carpenter written review

Hey Gang! Normally here at the Collective, we tend to stay more in the trashy, horror(y?), sexy, lovingly yet poorly made schlock world of celluloid. On occasion though, straying from the beaten path is necessary. Even more, sometimes it reeeeeeeeeeally pays off. Enter Master of the Flying Guillotine!

This film truly deserves a wider audience than it has. Considered by critics and aficionados as a paragon of the wu-xia (woo-shaw) genre, which you probably know as kung-fu movies, this film is a gods-damned blast. Light on plot, but heavy on incredible action sequences, imaginative fight choreography, bizarre kung-fu powers, and enough birds flying through fights to make John Wu blow a load, this is a film worth your time. Let’s dive in.

The film opens with a very old, blind kung-fu master practicing at his mountain home, with a narrator explaining that said master works for the ruling government as an assassin. A bird flies to him with a message taped to it, informing him (and you, the viewer) that his two disciples have been killed by another legendary kung-fu master known as the One-Armed Boxer. The master vows to avenge their deaths, and whips out his flying guillotine, which is something you do NOT want to put your dick in. Essentially a hat with the edge lined with blades on the outside and inside attached to a chain, he shows us exactly why you, again, do NOT want to put your dick in it. He practices on some dummies by swinging the guillotine around, throwing it over their heads, and instantly and completely decapitating them. Feeling ready, he throws a tiny bomb at his house, burns the place up, and goes on his journey, vowing to kill the One-Armed Boxer. Unfortunately for him, it seems that ancient China has enough one-armed men to keep Tommy Lee Jones busy for decades.

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Cut to a kung-fu school, we learn that the One-Armed Boxer runs his own kung-fu school, and is actually a pretty nice guy. He’s not overly fond of the ruling government, which seems rather oppressive. He gets wind of a kung-fu tournament held by another kung-fu school. He has correctly assumed that Mr. Guillotine is out to pull his head off, and wants to stay low. However, his students convince him to allow them to, if not participate in the tournament, watch it to learn something. They go, and we are witness to some of the most fun sequences of fighting I’ve ever witnessed.

We get match after match of gruesome, silly kung-fu fighting, where everyone has a great name and skill to match. We also get introduced to some memorable side characters, including a Mongol fighter, an Indian yoga master who is basically Dhalsim from Street Fighter, and a Japanese fighter who I assume is some kind of policeman type figure. A Thai kickboxer is introduced earlier in the film as well, who also participates. We get to see some fantastic fighting, wonderful cinematography, and some laughably silly powers. In the middle of our fun unfortunately, Mr. Guillotine shows up and starts fucking shit up and ripping heads off people. It’s at this point that the film spirals into true awesomeness. The Thai boxer, Indian yogi, and Japanese guy team up with Mr. Guillotine, because reasons, and One-Armed Boxer has to use his wits and skills to take them out one by one.

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I’m sure you can figure out how the film goes from this point. It’s rather predictable in all honesty, but it doesn’t matter one bit. The final four fight sequences are incredible, extremely well shot, and very imaginative. The final fight with Mr. Boxer and Mr. Guillotine is a combination of John Wu just jerking off birds into the shot everywhere, but with an actual reason for it, Home Alone-style booby traps, and flat out bad ass fighting. It’s also fascinating to see the treatment of other ethnic groups in the film. Finally, it’s a FANTASTIC introduction to the legendary Jimmy Wang Yu’s work. If you don’t know the name, learn it. He is one of the most important figures in Chinese film history, and therefore film history, and highly influential in the martial arts film genre. Without him, we might not have films like (whether you like ‘em or hate ‘em) Flying Tiger Hidden Dragon, The Matrix, and other films heavy on acrobatic fighting with bizarre powers. He also in part set the stage for the rising star of Bruce Lee. He has a HUGE body of work that is worth watching. In short, watch the fuckin’ movie. You can find it on Youtube, or get it from Netflix DVD, or probably Torrent it or something. I advise getting a version with subtitles, as apparently the dubbed versions aren’t that great. I give the film 4 out of 5 head-ripping offing, flying kicks to the facing, all out fun as hell dumpster nuggets. Definitely worth your time!

14
Apr
15

Why Don’t You Play in Hell? (2013) Blood Sacrifice for The Movie God

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a Primal Root written review

It takes a certain breed to be a cinema buff.  I became a believer in the beauty, the appeal and the power of the movies in a near religious manner. Friday nights as a child were spent at the local movie theater (Oak Lakes 6, Miracle 5 or Capital Cinema here in Tallahssee FL, Rest in Peace, my friends) or at one of multiple video rental stores. I learned more about morality, courage, compassion, love and humanity from what I watched on the silver screen and through my VCR than I ever did by going to church and all I’ve ever wanted to do with my life is make that one perfect film I have in my head. My masterpiece. My chance to project a story upon that screen and make people laugh, scream, cry and think. In this sense I completely understand where someone like the character of Director Hirata (Hiroki Hasegawa) is coming from in the 2013 Japanese gangster, action, comedy, gore epic Why Don’t You Play in Hell?

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Teenage Director Hirata, along with his closest filmmaking comrades known as The Fuck Bombers,  discover a young Sasaki taking part in a back alley brawl. Hirata instantly dubs Sasaki “The New Bruce Lee,” and gives him Lee’s iconic yellow and black track suit and a pair of nunchaku. The group of dreamers spend their formative years at the local community center watching movies and the rest of their free time shooting backyard movies and incidents they come across on the street.

Meanwhile, young Michiko is the singing and dancing star of a toothpaste commercial and has become an overnight sensation. That is, until her Mother, the wife of Michiko’s Yakuai gang leader Father Taizo, is sent to jail after brutally slaughtering a half dozen enemies who invaded her home while she was slicing up carrots.  Michiko’s Mama is thrown in jail for ten years and the powers that be have Michiko’s ridiculously popular toothpaste ad removed from the air. I’m trying to refrain from spoilers as much as possible here, but Michiko comes home to the aftermath of her Mother’s bloody encounter, ends up lsipping sliding through some blood and comes face to face with the man who was sent to kill her family. It’s both incredibly cute, funny, graphic and sets the rest of the film’s story line in motion. A series of mind boggling coincidence, or is it fate (?), that leads to one of the greatest gangster epics ever filmed.

See, Taizo has sworn to Michiko’s Mother that Michiko is starring in an incredible action film, one that will make her proud of her daughter. But when Taizo realizes it’s all fake, that there is no heart behind the camera, no passion and no vision, he enlists the assistance of the now grown up, but still insanely passionate Hirata and The Fuck Bombers to film the epic battle to the death between these two rival gangs with the young and vicious Michiko as the film’s star. See, The Fuck Bombers never realized their dream of making the ultimate Yakuza action film. They made it as far as a mock trailer for the film they lways dreamed of making, but the dream has gone unfulfilled and the group is beginning to fall apart because of it. But this opportunity to film what promises to be the bloodiest gang battles in history. They have prayed to “The Film Gods” their entire lives, and it now seems that their prayers are answered. Director Hirata and his team tackle the project with a manic kind of glee as they rush about the battle with their eyes glued to their camera as blood, limbs, and heads fly the through the air and splash upon their smiling faces.

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I can honestly say it’s the most heartwarming and joyful bloodbaths I’ve ever witnessed in a movie. Everyone is willing to die for this project. Both gang bosses, their henchmen, Michiko, The Fuck Bombers, just to make this piece of cinema as true and spectacular as they feel it should be. And everything is amazing, that is until the fucking police show up (MPAA Ratings Board/Censorship?) and fuck it all up.

Why Don’t You Play in Hell is ludicrous, completely batshit crazy, brutally, cartoonishly violent and a jubilant celebration for the art of filmmaking. Filmmaker Sion Sono has captured perfectly the exhilaration and exasperation of going after any creative endeavor. There is love here for those who dare to dream and are waiting patiently for their moment to come. for their chance to speak through the cinematic medium. It’s impossible to not feel the excitement as hardened Yakuza gangsters become passionate and exacting about sound recording, as Hirata runs through thick puddles of blood, demanding reshoots as the people he’s making these requests to are actually being sliced to ribbons and as the cameramen redefine the art of “Shooting a Movie.”

There’s plenty of carnage candy in this blood encrusted cinematic odyssey, but there is an unmistakable depth of heart present throughout the proceedings. We genuinely care about life long friend, The Fuck Bombers, and their ambitions of making their movie dreams come true.  We find ourselves fully believing that Michiko’s toothpaste jingle could beguile generations of TV watchers including the rival gang’s leader who has been infatuated with her ever since.  It’s the fact that Why Don’t You Play in Hell and it’s wet, nasty, over the top action is grounded in believable, likeable, three dimensional characters that makes the ride of watching it so goddamn exhilirating. You’ll be cheering all the way to the final frame and even shocked to the point of tears by the fate of many of these characters. At least they all died battling for their art, their honor and their dreams. And this mixture of naive optimism and midnight movie bedlam leaves the viewer not only endeared to such shenanigans, but leaves you thirsty for more.

3

For fans of not only Trash Cinema but the art of cinema itself,  Why Don’t You Play In Hell? is a flick you MUST SEE ON THE BIG SCREEN. It will knock you flat on your ass, hose you down with blood, then french kiss you with a mouth full of glass, and when it’s all over, you’ll wipe away the blood and beg to go through it again.  Trust me, it’s THAT fucking good.

I award Why Don’t You Play In Hell? FIVE out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

10
Aug
14

(NSFW) Sex and Fury (1973) Brutal Beauty or Vengeance is a Dish Best Served Nude

artwork by Andrew Peters

artwork by Andrew Peters

a Primal Root written review

I gotta say, there are few things in this realm of existence more exciting and beautiful than a badass nekkid woman brandishing a kitana and lopping various body parts off goons and heavies in the heat of battle. Watching the blood fly and the breasts bounce is truly a remarkable experience and a sight to behold.  I had always assumed these scene could only play out in my imagination, a daydream of a man obsessed with filth and the female form. To my astonishment, to my pure delight, the 1973 pinky violence epic, Sex and Fury, managed to commit this dream like boner inducing bloody massacre to a vivid, mind blowing reality.  Friends and Collective members, I may have just fallen in love with a movie.

Sex and Fury, directed by Noribumi Suzuki is the story of  one young woman’s quest for vengeance after witnessing, as a child the brutal, gore drenched murder of her detective father by the Yakuza gang. His final gift to her, the only witness of the assassination, are three hanafuda cards, the deer, the boar, and the butterfly, which will serve as clues to the identity of his killer. 20 years later, this little girl has grown up to be the stunningly gorgeous and deadly Reiko Ike, who gives herself the identity Inoshika Ocho, coded based upon her quarry (ino = boar, shika = deer, ocho = butterfly).  All the while, gang ringleader Kurokawa (Seizaburo Kawazu) and his flunky Iwakura (Hiroshi Nawa) consolidate the power of their Seishinkai Group, securing the carving of their turf in an ever changing and modern Japan.

sex_and_fury132

Ocho has become a well known and highly renowned gambler and thief and ends up having a beef with the Seishinkai after a dying Yakuza gambler begs Ocho to save his daughter from the rapey clutches of Iwakura, a mission she relishes tackling. Along the way she crosses paths with two other characters, the son of a murdered Seishinkai rival, Shunosuke (Masataka Maruse), who has some excellent emo hair and, like Ocho, a similar lust for vengeance. Ocho also runs across the scrumptious Christina (Christina Lindberg) a sexy and mysterious young woman from out west who has a legendary rep for being unbeatable at gambling and is also extensively talented with a firearm. Believe it or not, these characters and events all come together and lay the path for Ocho’s brutal quest for payback.

Reiko Ike (Battles Without Honor or Humanity) throws herself into the role with full bore ferocity that’s a pleasure to witness. She’s an lovely screen presence with striking features and a body that’s a knock out. for me, the movie doesn’t get much better than during Reiko’s extensive and lengthy nude sword fight with about a dozen Yakuza henchmen that starts in a bathtub and ends in a snow covered courtyard that soon turns shades of pink and red and the body parts fly and blood sprays by the bucket full. The fight is well staged and beautifully choreographed and shot and is truly a spectacle to behold. I can honestly say I’ve never seen another nude fight scene comes close to this sequence. Honestly, it is a thing of beauty.

eyes_wide_shut

Also, I must mention Christine Lindberg (Thriller: A Cruel Picture aka:They Call Her One Eye), the cult star of some now notorious sex flicks and exploitation classics, has never really had much range, but does the best she can while trying to speak in stilted and awkward phonetically learned Japanese. Whatever\issues do arise from her presence in the film are more than made up for by her character’s ridiculously melodramatic story line, show stopping outfits and some very sexy scenes later in the film. Really, it’s just cool seeing Christine in just about anything.  My only gripe about Sex & Fury is that is often tries to depict sexual assault in a titillating manner, which has always been uncomfortable for me to watch but seems to be a staple of Japanese and Hong Kong films of the period. Thankfully, these scenes make up a very small portion of the film which is otherwise a none stop flowage of awesome sauce.

Bottom line, Sex and Fury is supreme Trash Cinema entertainment. There’s just about everything you cold possibly one from a genre picture of it’s ilk, sword play, gun play, graphic violence, martial arts, sexy women, copious amounts of nudity,  and many of these elements crossing paths at the exact same time lovingly and painstakingly realized.  Sex and Fury is truly remarkable piece of Trash.

I’m giving Sex and Fury FIVE out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets

Stay Trashy!

-Root

24
Nov
13

Motel Hell (1980): Hearts in the Right Place…The Meat Grinder

motel_hell_poster_01

a Primal Root review

“Sometimes I wonder about the karmic implications of these actions.” -Farmer Vincent

With Thanksgiving mere days away,  I begin contemplating  good old fashioned family values and the anticipation of devouring finely prepared, mouth watering, slaughtered animals. Hell, there’s nothing better than celebrating your thankfulness with the ones you love than by roasting the carcass and then sinking your teeth into the delicious flesh of the traditional Thanksgiving turkey, honey cured ham, or human torso. After all, as Farmer Vincent says, “Meat’s Meat and a Man’s gotta Eat.”

This is the central conceit of Kevin Connor’s 1980 black comedy horror masterpiece, “Motel Hell”, the story of a family Motel and Meat curing business torn asunder by the meddling of outsiders who just don’t understand their ways.  Tall, white haired, skinny as a rail Farmer Vincent (Rory Calhoun, charming as ever) and his large, imposing, deranged sister Ida (Nancy Parson, Coach Balbricker from Porky’s!) run the rural Motel Hello and adjacent Farmer Vincent’s Smoked Meats stand. Their meat and down home hospitality are legendary to those who grew up int he area, and tourists come from far and wide to get a taste at Farmer Vincents secret recipe… I have a feeling you know where I’m going with this, it ain’t just an extra dash of Tabasco in those cocktail weenies!

Yeeeeah, I think I'm gonna go find a Ramada...

Yeeeeah, I think I’m gonna go find a Ramada…

Vincent and Ida spend their evenings laying out intricate traps in order to capture unwary travels who make the mistake of passing near their homestead int he middle of the night. Once they’ve nabbed their prey, those poor souls are interred in the sibling’s “secret garden” and go through a very special procedure to prepare their succulent human flesh for the famous family recipe giving their cured meats that one of a kind flavor. As Farmer Vincent cheerily exclaims, “It Takes All Kinds of Critters, To Make Farmer Vincent’s Fritters!”  The two siblings seems to have a real good thing going, the business sis booming, their little brother and local law enforcement officer, Bruce, has no idea what they’re up to and there’s no lack of dim witted heathens to run off the road and turn into beef jerky treats. But it’s when Vincent takes in one of his victims, the lovely Terry (Nina Axelrod) and decides it might be a good idea to settle down that their whole cannibalistic world begins caving in.

Now, before I go and give you the idea that Vincent and Ida are both out of control backwoods psychopaths ala The Texas Chainsaw Massacre family, let me state that these are two of the most friendly, accommodating and thoughtful human flash slurping cannibals in cinematic history. These two are concerned with making their victim’s, er, livestock’s slaughter as painless as possible, and go through some bizarrely comical means in order to make sure of this. Hell, they even have lovely introspective conversations where they ponder the karmic implications of their work and whether or not they will be remembered fondly for the work they do on the farm. Vincent and Ida are murderers, plain and simple, but one cannot help like this introspective, God fearing duo.  Hell, later in the film when Terry starts flashing her tits and Vincent and tries to make out with the old man, he stops her and insists they should be married before there will be such hanky-panky. Could you ever imagine Leatherface doing this? Hell, head probably start hollering, tearing his hair out and rev up his chainsaw…Not Farmer Vincent, that guy’s got one strong, if deeply flawed, moral compass.

don't worry, I'll send the Christ cuts to Hebrew National.

Don’t worry, I’ll send the Christ cuts to Hebrew National.

In one stand out scene from ‘Motel Hell”, Farmer Vincent, Ida, and younger brother and lawman Bruce, tell Terry a down home story about how their long dead Grandmother was the one who taught Vincent everything he knows about curing and smoking meats out of necessity since the family didn’t have an icebox. One day, when Granny was sick and tired of a neighbor’s dog constantly barking, she asked Vincent to go take care of it. Vincent chuckles as he recalls throwing the dog in the meat smoker and serving it up for dinner. Ira and Bruce both chuckle and join in, recalling how the meat was a bit like goat meat, only stringier, as Terry looks on in stunned disbelief before chocking it up to simple hillbilly behavior.  Farmer Vincent justifies his actions by quoting his Granny, “Meat is Meat and a Man’s Gotta Eat!”

Really, being raised with such a mentality it’s totally understandable that Vince and Ida don’t see a difference between the meat of animals and the meat of human beings. Int he end, really, what is the difference? The slaughter, clean and cut up the meat just the same as all the others int he smoke house. It’s just business, nothing personal, plus it gives them their one of a kind flavor which makes them stand out from the competition! It’s literally a dog eat dog world in Motel Hell, as our homicidal duo take care in selecting those they feel don’t contribute to society like bikers, metal bands, working girls, swingers and FDA inspectors, and add them to the ever growing mouth watering deathloaf. Even though the public has no knowledge of the human content in their smoked meats, at least they can rest easy knowing here are no chemicals or preservatives in the product they just ate. Hey, that’s just good, down home quality! Who has time to worry if a couple members of that missing hair band you saw last week are in that jerky stick?

Grazing in the grass is a gas, baby, can you dig it?

Grazing in the grass is a gas, baby, can you dig it?

As we all expected from the beginning, Terry wonders into the smokehouse and stumbles onto the big family secret and end sup bound, gagged and listening to Vincent’s fundamentalist dogma as he explains why it is he does what he do all while chopping a human body into hot dog meat. Vincent goes on to explain that he’s helping out the human condition by controlling over population and handling the food shortage problem all in one fell swoop. “What gives you the right to play God?” Terry asks. “Play God? I wouldn’t even know where to start! I’m just helping out.”  It’s a strange “Greater Good, God’s Plan” argument I feel many folks on the political right could totally get behind, especially when espoused by such a seemingly down to earth and loveable folk hero as Farmer Vincent. Hell, we all have to make sacrifices, right? Might as well be the working class that won’t be missed!

As soon as the heroic, if incredibly dumb and rapey, Bruce bursts into the smokehouse to save the day, “Motel Hell” dives head first into it’s absurd, surrealist underpinnings and bursts through the floodgates with blood spattered jubilant glee as Farmer Vincent dons a severed pigs head, picks up his chainsaw and engages his little brother in chainsaw, to chainsaw combat while laughing like a maniac the entire time. It’s graphic, it’s goofy, it’s gory and unlike anything I’ve seen before or since in the annals of American backwoods cannibal horror cinema. It feels like some kind of blood drenched fever dream you would have after consuming to much Christmas ham and then getting a stomach bug. My words fail to do the finale of “Motel Hell” justice, you’ve gotta see it to even begin to comprehend it.

Babe III: The Reckoning

Babe III: The Reckoning

“Motel Hell” is a queer duck of a horror film. It delivers the horror and the comedy, but it doesn’t exactly mix and ends up more often than, simply being absurd. I laughed my ass either way,  as this is some truly peculiar, yet, entertaining food for thought.  Try not to fall in love with Farmer Vincent and Ida, I dare ya. Those two are such fantastic, memorable characters, you’ll find yourself deeply saddened to see them go by film’s end.

So, this Thanksgiving, be thankful for your family, friends and take a closer look at that dead thing you’re shoveling into your face. you never know just who might be over for dinner.

Four and a Half out of 5 Dumpster Nuggets. Root highly recommends you spend a night at “Motel Hell!”

Stay Trashy!

-Root

25
Aug
13

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

maximum_overdrive_poster_01

a Primal Root written review

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

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

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

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

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

Got coke?

Got coke?

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

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

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

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

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

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

3 1/2 Dumpster nuggets out of 5!

Maximum Overdrive Heavy

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

Stay Trashy!

-Root

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

19
Aug
13

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984) or “Why is there a Watermelon there?”

adventures-of-buckaroo-banzai-poster-1

“No, no, no, don’t tug on that. You never know what it might be attached to.” -Buckaroo Banzai

a Primal Root written review

He’s a rock star, neurosurgeon, mystic, nuclear physicist and the star of his own comic book series, Buckaroo Banzai (Weller) is a man of many trades. But above all, he is a man of action.  Let me try and lay the story out for you to the best of my ability…which spells out trouble, really.  Deep breath, here we go!

“The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension” drops us right in the middle of this action as Buckaroo is testing out a new jet propelled Ford Fiesta, equipped with his when he takes an unscheduled detour into the side of a mountain the side of a mountain going at speeds that break the sound barrier…and passing right through unharmed thanks to the vehicle being equipped with a piece of hardware of Buckaroo’s own design named “The Oscillation Overthruster.”  However, this impromptu experiment in dimensional travel unleashes more than Buckaroo and his colleagues/ team /bandmates, The Hong Kong Cavaliers, ever imagined. Within this rock were stashed several Evil Black Lectoids from Planet 10 who have been exiled there and have now been unleashed from the 8th Dimension.

buckaroo 02

“Many Shuvs and Zuuls knew what it was to be roasted in the depths of the Slor that day, I can tell you!”

News of Buckaroo’s successful journey across the 8th Dimension spreads quickly and manages to reach Dr. Emilio Lizardo (Lithgow), whose failed Overthruster experiment in 1938 ended up leaving his body possessed by Lord John Whorfin, an evil alien creature who is compared to Adolf Hitler. See, Whorfin is the leader of the Red Lectroids, a race of  reptile, alien creature who waged war against Planet 10 and were later banished to this 8th Dimension.

Still with me? Groovy.

Well, due to Lizardo’s botched overthruster experiment,  and the release of Lord John Whorfin, many of these Red Lectroids pilgrimaged to earth and now work at YoYodyne Propulsion Systems posing as employees and working on a spacecraft while pretending it’s a project for the U.S. Air Force.  Their plan is to rescue the remaining exiles in the 8th dimension and take over Planet 10m which is populated by the far less aggressive Black Lectroids, who threaten Earth with a fake nuclear attack which will set off World War III if Lord John Whorfin’s plans are not halted within 24 hours.

Now, the fate of the entire planet lies in the  hands of Buckaroo Banzai, The Hong Kong Cavaliers, the civilian Banzai Institute volunteers known as The Blue Blazers,  John Parker (the Black Lectroid messenger) and the beautiful Penny Priddy (Barkin).

Buckaroo Barken

“I can see your whole clam bake, Penny.”

As you can kind of guess, “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension” is one VERY convoluted, complex, whacky mess of a story. It’s a story it took a couple viewing for me just to wrap my mind around just what the Hell was happening. TAOBBAT8D never gives the audience a moment to catch it’s breath, from the very get-go TAOBBAT8D starts flinging ideas, concepts and theories at break neck speed and dares us to try and keep up with the action on screen. We and jarringly catapulted from scene to scene, character to character in a film made to play like an episode from a serial that has a long standing history with fans, only there was NOTHING that came before this and NOTHING to come after. Well, there was a sequel planned (Buckaroo Banzai Against The World Crime League) but since the movie bombed like Hiroshima, that sequel never had a chance. So we are left with a movie that is bafflingly complex, silly and rallies against the typical dramatic structure we, as viewers, are accustom to, But all of these elements always left me exhilarated by “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension’s” end credits begin rolling.  You are an outsider invited to be a part of this incredibly cool cat’s latest journey.  you are thrown into this wild world and either you can make the decision to hold on for dear life and enjoy the ride or throw your hands in the air and declare that this stuff makes no sense, and just walk away.  If there is one major flaw in the film, it’s pretty slap dash and difficult to follow. But I have a feeling that’s by design.

One thing is certain, The Adventure’s of Buckaroo Banzai and it’s mix of action, science fiction, and comedy are not for everyone. Where some might find a lot of great concepts bubbling forth from the film;s narrative, others might find this flick more than a little tedious, which is a totally understandable view point. for me, the strength of the film lies in the fact that Buckaroo Banzai is unlike any other film ever made, or ever will be made again. It’s a high concept oddity with A.D.D. crackling under with the static of a head full of crazy ideas.  To me, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai is one of the coolest, strangest fucking movies ever made, and with every new viewing, I take away another level of appreciation.  It’s one I don’t recommend easily. If you’re a Hong Kong Cavalier or a Blue Blazer, you will have an instinct to check this flick out for yourself.  As for me? “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension” holds a special place of honor in my collection.

SIDE NOTE: Also, Breaking Bad fans, watch early on for an appearance by a young Jonathan Banks (aka: Mike from TV’s Breaking Bad) as an orderly at the mental asylum where  Lord John Whorfin is held.

4 out of 5 Dumpster Nuggets

Stay Trashy!

-Root




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