Posts Tagged ‘Bride

21
Jan
20

(SFW) Spookies (1986) or Billy Learned The Truth at age 13

 

spookies poster

“Uuuuuuhh, look at me: I’m Duke, the horny ghost!” – Duke, Spookies (1986)

a Primal Root written review

As an only child of the 80’s my mind is littered with memories of weekends spent at local video stores in the town where I grew up, Tallahassee, Florida. Nothing beat the thrill of an early Friday evening after school, ordering up a cheesy, greasy, sloppy pizza and heading to the video store to peruse the shelves for a new VHS adventure to waste my weekend with either with a fried over or totally on my own.  I would head past the New Release section and head straight to the Horror shelf where the most lurid, colorful and creative covers were. I would pick up every single box, gaze at the covers and their suggestive artwork and just let my imagination run wild simultaneously psyching myself up for what I might choose to take home with me that weekend. In the halcyon days of the video rental store era, when there was money to be made and stores were a dime a dozen and each store had THOUSANDS of titles to choose from, the cover art of a movie could make or break a tape. Just like the posters for Drive-In films of the past, you had to reel your audience in with artwork that promised something truly astounding.

One such VHS cover that branded itself on my brain and was always around at every damn video store I’ve ever been to, the 1986 nightmare fever dream…SPOOKIES.

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Direct your eyes to the poster heading this review created by comic artist Richard Corben. Imagine your tiny eight year old hand clutching the tape that contained the movie THAT artwork was based on? The lovely woman with huge breasts straining to pop out of her white dress as she is surrounded by a variety of creepy, weird creatures that seem to have no real connection to one another. There’s a grim reaper looking guy, a little goblin creature, someone with light popping out of her head and other undefinable atrocious monstrosities that leave your young mind spinning at the possibilities! And then there’s the bizarre face looking over this scene, with glowing red eyes and mouth that looks like it might be full of blood and what looks to be a bloody would to the middle of his forehead. What the Hell are Spookies and what in the world could it ever possibly be about. All I knew was that if the case contained Blood, Breasts and Beasts, it was going home with me, because that was the promise of an unforgettable late night and a fantastic story for the kids at school Monday morning. “Guess what I watched this weekend?”

Full disclosure, Spookies freaked me the fuck out when I was a kid and I think it’s due almost entirely to the face that it’s two movies in one. It began life as a film entitled Twisted Souls written and directed by Brendan Faulkner and Thomas Doran. However, during post-production, creative differences flared up between the filmmakers and their producers, and ANOTHER director, Eugenie Joseph, was hired on to film additional scenes with new actors which would change the film into something else entirely. He added several different subplots and excised over 45 minutes of the original film to create what we now know as SPOOKIES. And, to be perfectly honest, it gives the film a kind of unhinged nightmare logic quality that three me off entirely as a child. It did not follow the rules established by countless other horror films I had seen, so you just never knew what was going to happen, and to me, that is certainly a strength.

The film begins with a little kid named Billy (Alec Nemser) running away from home through the forest. His parents forgot his birthday, so he’s ditching them for the life of a homeless teenage idiot. He, of course, ends up getting stalked by a werecat guy in a golden vest who moves his face around as much as possible to make the latex creature stuff attached to his face seem like his actual face, but it instead just makes him look like a spaz. Billy meets a creepy drifter guy who instantly reminded me of Kiefer Sutherland from Lost Boys, who mocks Billy for being a stupid teenage runaway with nice shoes, clean clothes and an optimistic outlook on life. You think this drifter character is going to come in handy later as either a hero or villain, but as soon as Billy wonders off deeper into the woods, the drifter’s face is shredded into coleslaw by the ever present werecat. Billy ends up in an old, seemingly abandoned mansion and finds a room all decked out for his birthday…but there’s no one there. Not only that, but the balloons don’t have helium and are ties to the ceiling, there’s a moaning baby doll in a chair and teleporting toy robots and being the idealistic idiot that he is, Billy thinks this is a surprise birthday party his parents planned…even though there’s no one there and it’s creepy as shit. So, Billy opens a large present he thinks might be a bowling ball, only to find the severed head of the sorcerer sitting there waiting to wish him a happy birthday. Kind gesture? Sure. But it understandably terrifies Billy who runs off in the wilderness where is is pursued, once again,by the cat man who eventually corners Billy, slashes his face to ribbons, tosses the little boy into an open grave and buries the struggling boy alive, killing him.

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This scene fucked me up as a kid who loved playing in the woods at night living in the heavily wooded suburbs. I could easily put myself in his shoes and wanting to expect the best from my situation only to find myself missing most of my face and being suffocated to death on mouthfuls of heaping shovel scoops of dirt. See what I mean about the nightmare logic of SPOOKIES? It makes about as much sense as your standard childhood nightmare, only you’d wake up as soon as that first fling of dirt hit you in your bloody, stupid, face. In any other film, that kid would have ended up becoming the sidekick of some adult character who showed up. or would end up being the star, booby trapping monster and shit. No. Not in Spookies. In Spookies the 13 year old child dies along and afraid. His parents obviously don;t care about him or love him and he is now gone forever. Dead and buried in an unmarked grave by a catman, never to be mentioned, thought of or cared about for the remainder of the film. Now children, what do you think THAT felt like? It’s cruel, and awesome to 37 year old The Primal Root, but when I was just a Jim Henson’s Trash Cinema Baby, that whole sequence fucked me up real good and proper to the point I lost sleep over it and would get REAL nervous in the woods I used to play in without hesitation. Anyway, enough about me. Lets get back to SPOOKIES!

Spookies Gang

We are soon introduced to our cast of victims who are driving around looking for a party out in the middle of nowhere, where do they end up? Of course, the old haunted mansion where Billy came upon the most surprising surprise party of his short life.  The mansion is inhabited by The Sorcerer whose name is Kreon (Felix Ward) and is on the verge of bringing his beautiful dead wife, Isabelle (Maria Pechukas) back to life once the final victims are sacrificed, namely, this new group of “teenagers” and adults looking to party. There’s the three piece suit wearing elder statesman of the group, Peter (Peter Dain), who is constantly butting heads with the “teenage” tough guy, horndog, and bizarrely placed zipper enthusiast, Duke (Nick Gionta) who also happens to take them to this haunted death trap mansion in the middle of nowhere. Along for this trip to Hell is Linda (Joan Ellen Delaney) Duke’s poor girlfriend, the ginger in the tiny periwinkle blue top with the massive tits she never pops out of the chute for us, Meegan (Kim Merrill) who is attached to Peter and I assume is his wife. There’s another couple, Dave and Adrienne (Anthony Valbiro & Charlotte Alexandra) who suffer from Rich being highly insecure and freaking out all the time over Adrienne controlling everything he does even though all she does is watch him freak out. There’s the obligatory joker/idiot Rich Peter Iasillo Jr) who spends the movie tripping over thing, dropping things, making poor jokes and even poorer decisions. My favorite character, Louis, who as I recall has two lines before being sucked down into own grave and dying before the action even really gets started and is never mentioned or again, let alone, mourned.  Also, odd lady out, Carol (Lisa Friede) Who starts not feeling well at the mansion, gets possessed by Kreon and uses a special Ouija board to unleash a bouquet of highly creative and vicious practical effect monsters to track them down and kill them one by one.

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The Gang knows their lives are in mortal danger and decide to split up to find a way out of this death trap. Some search around while others find secluded rooms to stay fully dressed and fall asleep in before being savagely gnawed upon by Hell beasts. Spookies quickly becomes a cornucopia of freakish blood thirsty hellions dead set on killing off every last cracker in the house. There’s a legion of little reptilian snake demons, a seductive, blood draining Arachnid Woman, a giant lizard man that shoot out head melting electric tentacles, a scythe wielding Grim Reaper and even a trio of chronically flatulent Much Men who rise from the floor of the win cellar and fart like Grandpa after Christmas dinner, you know, fast, furious, loud and with a vengeance.  Not only this, but there’s a legion of zombies surrounding the mansion, making escape impossible.

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People get lost, massacred, tempers flare, fights break as these characters fight for survival in this colorful, bonkers house of blood lusting horrors and it’s just as much fun as it is absolutely baffling. Add in that tacked on subplot about Kreon and and all his various creatures including CatMan and the Jawaesque Korda (A.J. Lowenthal) Son of Kreon and Isabelle, and Isabelle herself, who NEVER interact with the characters from the original film, Twisted Souls, at all despite being shot in the same location and always appearing nearby. It’s actually fun watching how they edit around two totally different stories being told but having to be meant to interact with one another. Towards the end of the film, the plot is left hanging when it comes to our group of party animals that must all be killed in order to give Isabelle life. Some supernatural event occurs where they all begin to age rapidly, an item is thrown, lightning enters a character’s eyes and that’s the last we see of them. Are they dead? Wounded? Senior Citizens? Monsters? What the Hell happened? Instead of us ever finding out, we are treated to an extended zombie chase scene where Isabelle’s clothes get torn off (though she never shows off the goods) as she tries to escape the clutches of the ghoul who resurrected her, the evil warlock Kreon, after she has seduced him and driven a knife deep into his forehead. Will we get any form of closure or will Spookies leave us wondering what happens next? Because if there’s one thing we know…ambiguity is scary.

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Spookies, man, what a fucking ride. It’s a film that feels like a sugar rush nightmare fueled fever dream filled with wild ideas that head down colorful hallways before being utterly forgotten and left for new ideas down even more colorful hallways. It’s like a horror film with A.D.D. and darkly sadistic sense of humor. Where Don Coscarelli’s Phantasm has a similar fantasy/unreality feel to it, Spookies, to it’s detriment or gain, depending on how you like the movie, due to the production issues and different hired hands and stories being mixed together, proves a much weirder concoction. Is the movie good? Absolutely not, it’s total Trash Cinema. But is it entertaining? Gang, Spookies never lets up. It’s balls to the walls ideas, throw it against the walls to see what sticks creativity mayhem. It;s colorful, it’s sloppy and it SHOULD. NOT. WORK. Seriously, this should have been a failure of the highest order. But it is so goddamn unabashedly manic and willing to do anything and go anywhere, you can’t help but join in the glee and stick with it to see just what insane shit will happen next. To me, that’s a Trash Cinema win of the highest order.

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Spookies is a VHS Video Rental store gem that’s well worth tracking down. If you, or someone you know, is even just mildly curious in cult Trash Cinema, Spookies is a great place to start. It’s a deranged and absolute delight. Unless you’re an overly sensitive and imaginative child living in the woods. Then it’s just good, old fashioned nightmare fodder.

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I’m awarding Spookies FOUR out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

 

 

 

17
Oct
12

Bootsie Kidd: Halloween Devil Girl of the Month, October 2012 with special guest The Primal Root

Hey Gang! Your old pal The Primal Root here and I am smitten. Ms. Bootsie Kidd, our October Devil Girl of the Month (2012) has come along and captured the trashy heart of yours truly. In Bootsie’s Halloween spread she has brought to life an updated rockabilly/video store nerd version of  one of our shared passions, Universal’s classic monster flick, James Whale’s 1935 masterpiece, The Bride of Frankenstein.  As some of you might know, I’m quite bit enamored with this Ms. Bootsie Kidd, but I don’t think I am being partial when I say her incredibly spooky, sexy, and assertive take on Frankenstein’s Bride (Elsa, as we like to call her for obvious reasons)  brings a cool new dimension to the iconic character. She has surely brought The primal Root back to life, and I have a feeling she’ll jump start your heart as well. Friend. Good. Indeed! 

Stay Trashy and Happy Halloween! 

-Root

Photography by John Kogwheal

Makeup by Laura Henry & Joe Fisher

Hair by Laura Henry


26
Apr
12

The Innkeepers: Clean Linens and Dead Ends

a Primal Root review

Okay Gang, I’m going to try REAL hard not to spoil anything about “The Innkeepers.” You have my word that spoilers will be kept to a minimum.

I remember hearing of Ti West’s “The House of the Devil” through the horror fan grapevine as a cinematic experience those who watched either loved or hated. I decided to give it a go and became a member of the former category. I loved “The House of the Devil” and felt it’s quirky, patient approach to building suspense and creating a genuine atmosphere of dread was so refreshing it almost felt totally new in a cinematic culture where most films are slashed to ribbons in the editing process and paced to the heart rate of a Starbucks junkie. Sure, this technique is nothing new and was perfected by the likes of Hitchcock and De Palma and Carpenter, but to see a young, fresh out the gates filmmaker like Ti West utilize a form of cinematic story telling that seemed all but forgotten instantly made the young man an artist I wanted to keep tabs on.

Enter, “The Innkeepers”, West’s most recent effort. The story of two slacker employees Claire (Sara Paxton from The Last House on the Left remake) and Luke (Pat Healy from Rescue Dawn) of the very soon to be shut down and demolished Yankee Pedlar Inn, a three story, turn of the century kind of place with awesome wallpaper, hard wood floors and the obligatory legend of a tragic death and enduring haunting therein. As the last two employees on staff at the Yankee Pedlar, Clair and Luke take the opportunity to down some cheap beer and launch a full scale investigation into the legendary haunting of deceased bride-to-be, Madeline O’Malley which Luke claims to have encountered on several occasions.

The duo busts out their recording equipment to try and capture some EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) and set the stage for the possibility of a ghostly encounter. And honestly, one gets the impression that these two are investigating more our of sheer boredom than any passionate interest. However, as some curious happenings begin to manifest around Clair and Luke they are advised by one of the only guests they have that weekend, Leanne (Kelly McGillis from Top Gun (!) ) who is a former TV actress turned psychic medium.  She comes to Claire as a friend and offers a possible guide to the spirit world while also offering some well timed significant New Age wisdom and a dark warning…

“The Innkeepers” is one scary mother fucking movie. It finally dawned on me that, really, if there’s one genre of horror sure to really get me rattled it’s the kind that involves hauntings and ghosts. Ghosts are a tricky subject in horror movies because they can be handled improperly like they were in the remake of “Paranormal Activity” (2009) or “Insidious” (2011) where everything is revealed, everything explained and everything is showcased in the light of day and leaves nothing to the imagination. I have always been of the opinion that scariest thing we will ever face is that which we don’t understand and what’s left up to us to imagine. Always, this will be far more frightening than anything a filmmaker and his effects crew could ever create and showcase.

For the majority of “The Innkeepers” we join Claire and Luke in their final, modest,  quest to seek any kind of proof of the supernatural at The Yankee Peddler. We see only what they see, hear what they hear and many times adopt their point of view as the camera track closely behind them keep the frame claustrophobic and tense as the viewer joins them in the investigation. Often there’s nothing but silence or the hum of static piping through headphones as they listen to what they’re recording. I was on the edge of my seat in anticipation being drawn in both wanting something to happen and being incredibly fucking nervous as to the when and what might be revealed or heard. It’s a film that realizes we’ve seen this sort of film before and that we are familiar with the beats. “The Innkeepers” defies our expectations and repeatedly scares the shit out of the viewer. They may be jump scares, but they are well earned and serve the purpose of the story at hand.

Not only are the scares and techniques used to deliver them excellent, but so is the cast at hand. Our star player, Sara Paxton gives a very genuine and game performance as the adorable, nerdy slacker, Claire. She finds herself in the center of the storm during the proceedings and manages to play up her distress well and also proves to be quite the comedian to boot. Paxton is imminently watchable and young actress I look forward to seeing more from. Pat Healy as Luke is a great foil to Claire and generates some great laughs with his deadpan, sarcastic performance. Like Paxton, Healy is called upon to both be very believably funny and terrified. The brother pulls it off in spades. Kelly McGillis is fantastic as the resident psychic, Leanne, a once famous TV star with a gift for communicating with the other side. As the films most prominent supporting player she proves believable and essential to the tale and really grounds the film in reality. “The Innkeepers” benefits greatly from her presence.

“The Innkeepers” brings to mind Kubrick’s “The Shining” by way of Kevin Smith’s “Clerks”. It’s the story of two intelligent but unmotivated young adults working a literal dead-end job and floating rudderless. When Clair is asked by Leanne what she does Claire can only respond with an awkward and unsure “I’m kind of between things.” as if she’s never given a single thought to what will be coming next for her.  Claire and Luke are very real and well developed characters that feel like people we know. Hell, what might be even stranger is that these characters might even be many of us, stuck in lame jobs and having resigned ourselves to them with no clue as to how we could ever better our situation.  These characters wonder the silent, ancient halls of The Yankee Peddler looking for the smallest evidence that there is something more there. Evidence that there could be any truth to legend of Madeline O’Malley. It may seem like a futile search to some, pointless even when faced with the crushing reality of oncoming unemployment, but the truth is that some of us might never find anything better than what we’ve got and grown accustomed to. Many find themselves in the exact same trap Claire and Luke find themselves in. Walking the halls of the place they can’t stand in a kind of purgatory.I can think of few things scarier than that.

Well, beside mother fucking ghosts…

The Innkeepers is an intelligent and brilliantly constructed horror film. One that doesn’t spoon feed it’s story or characters to the audience.  The Yankee Peddler itself feels like a character int he film, much in the same way The Overlook Hotel played the same sort of significance in the proceedings of The Shining. Every hall tells a story, every room has witnessed thousands of tales unfold. One can only imagine what frightening memories such a place might have. And this is the ultimate strength if “The Inkeepers”, we are given the ammunition necessary to fill in the blanks and imagine many of the films horrors. Some are blatant and in your face, but “The Innkeepers” is a smart enough film to allow room for mystery, ambiguity and interpretation.  The mark of truly good film is that it trust it’s audience and doesn’t talk down to it. “The Innkeepers” is just such a film.

It’s a slow burn that takes it’s time to build up the suspense and lay on the dread as thick as molasses while dropping in some well timed laughs and plenty of fun, snappy banter.  Ti West knocked it out of the park with this one, yes, “The Innkeepers” is well worth the visit.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

08
Apr
12

Castle Freak: Inherit Madness

a Primal Root review

Inheriting a castle in Italy has to be pretty dang cool. Finding out you’re descended from royalty? That’s the icing on top of the hoity-toity cake to which so many aspire. Yeah, it all seems great on paper until you take your horrendously dysfunctional family there to assess the situation and sell that hunk of junk off to the highest bidder.  It’s drafty, dull, dusty and, making matters worse,  your wife hates your guts no matter where you take her and the one surviving kid is still blind and your single digit son is still pavement pizza due to your dumb, alcoholic ass driving the family mini…vehicle over a small hill and flipping the vehicle at 25 MPH.  Or 85 MPH in sped up film time…

And then, of course, there’s a horrifying, psychotic, mutilated freak chained up in the castle’s basement. Buyer beware.

TOUCHDOWN!

Castle freak is, at it’s very core, the story of a family dealing with a heart crushingly tragic incident where the family patriarch and reformed alcoholic, John Riley (played pitch perfectly by Gordon collaborator Jeffery Combs) managed to get completely shit-faced before picking up his teenage daughter and 5 year old son during a torrential down pour and then swerving off road resulting in the death of the son and blinding daughter,  Rebecca (played by a very game and sympathetic Jessica Dollarhide).  Of course, there are some resentment issues between John and his gorgeous wife, Susan (always reliable Barbara Crampton) who apparently lives to torture and be spiteful towards John every second of every single day therefore turning his life into a Hell on Earth of guilt, regret, and shame.

As you can tell, the story is already pretty dreadful before there’s even a freak for the family to contend with.

The Reilly’s  move into their new castle after the old woman who was living there died in her bed from a heart attack after beating the chained up freak in the basement within and inch of it’s life which looked to have been a long standing supper time tradition and Casa de le Freak.  This poor creature has obviously never known affection, love or humanity living a life of agony chained up and naked down in the dank bowels of The Reilly castle. Much like John Reilly himself, who is living a life of pain due to his past mistakes and the fact his wife reminds him about it on a near minute by minute basis that he’s responsible for the death of their son.

Castle Freak is a far cry from the what we’ve come to expect from a Gordon, Combs, Crampton, collaboration. Typically fun,m over the top and colorful, Castle Freak is drastically different. Thee pacing takes it’s time, and the whole story is just gruelingly sad. This is not Re-Animator or From Beyond by a long shot. In fact, it’s a very dark and honest look at redemption, forgiveness and family as John must defend his family from what could be seen as his horrific doppelganger, his id or symbolizing the young Reilly boy whose memory they still cling to and is tearing the whole family apart.  There are no laughs to be found here and  no easy outs in Castle Freak.  This is straight ahead horror dealing with some pretty real issues. Only these real issues are set against the backdrop of an Italian castle with a freak looking to molest your cute little blind teenage daughter and frame you for the murder of a hooker and your housekeeper. For a freak, this guy is surprisingly crafty.

Castle Freak Foreplay: Not nearly as fun as you'd imagine.

One night, after Susan gives John a particularly vindictive verbal thrashing, John heads to a local watering hole where he quickly jumps off the wagon. And who can really blame the guy? He takes shot, after shot of some kind of counterfeit rot gut and ends up taking a whore back to his castle’s wine seller where he eagerly chows down on her bowl of “Down South” spaghetti.Again, you can totally understand his need to feel the touch and connection to another person.  Trouble is, he happens to be performing in front of a captive audience as the Castle Freak studies John’s moves like he’s preparing for the S.A.T.’s.  And you know castle freaks, they are more than happy to go after the sloppy seconds…

As our hooker goes to leave the castle, it’s resident freak abducts her, chains her up and has his way with her including a graphic nipple eating and a sickening reveal of the Freak’s genital region that’s sure to make your stomach churn. In fact, the film seems to focus quite liberally on the Freak’s disturbing genitals which, I suppose, does make some sense since that is kind of the Freak’s motivating factor. Looking for affection, someone to be close and have sex with.  Or, director Stuart Gordon could have simply just wanted to showcase a little something for the ladies. Soak it in, girls! Still, even though the Freak, in my estimation, is only looking for compassion, tenderness and a connection to another living creature, he can;t for the life of him understand how to give these things. Remember, this is a person whose entire life since birth has been spend locked away, abused and mutilated only ever understanding violence and pain.  How Freak goes about violently raping the hooker, yet mimicking what he witnessed John do to her, furthers this point. That violence begets violence.

Feel the Excitement!

But, I digress, at the threat of spoiling the whole sleazy, blood encrusted, drippy scrotum flopping affair, let’s just say Castle Freak is a one sad, violent, and effective story of redemption. The story of one man’s quest to find meaning and forgiveness in a world that refuses to see past his mistakes and misdeeds and see the man who is in need of compassion and just wants to feel human again. Now, am I talking about John or the Castle Freak of our title or both?

Stuart Gordon’s Castle Freak pulls off an impressive feat in capturing some very deep, dark, human situations and maintaining a fairly well paced and interesting story. As a viewer you grow to like most of the characters, and even the unlikable few are at the very least, you can understand where they’re coming from.  And for a film made in a creepy castle with a miniscule budget, Castle Freak works thanks to some spot on performances, creative shot compositions, great make-up/gore effects and also gains a lot of atmosphere from the genuine Italian castle where the action is set. Which just happens to be owned by the president of Full Moon Pictures.

Castle Freak isn’t exactly a fun, crowd pleasing movie experience but is still a fine piece of trash cinema. One that will certainly speak to anyone who has ever made a grievous mistake and feels they are destined to pay for it the rest of their lives.  Even if we can;t directly relate viewers will empathize and come to understand that there really are a number of fates that can feel worse than death. Only through love, forgiveness and understanding can we ever truly regain what makes us human.

And a good bit of reconstructive surgery and upper plate dental work in the case of The Castle Freak…

Love may be blind but she can still smell you, Freak.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

02
Apr
12

“Bride of Chucky”: Une petite morte never killed anybody!

a Bootsie Kidd review

It seems too few flicks are able to juggle sheer playfulness, gore, heart, and raunch to give a film one helluva personality.  But with veteran deviants like Jennifer Tilly (Tiffany) and Brad Douriff (Charles ‘Chucky’ Lee Ray [I-IV]) directed by Ronny Yu (Freddy vs Jason), and the Child’s Play franchise’s head wordsman Don Mancini how could ‘Bride’ not have a style unlike any other.  Though Chucky still has as much of that acerbic charm as ever, ‘Bride’ differs from Child’s Play’s usual thrills that made you want to trade in your Cabbage Patch for a Skip-It.  Both hardcore fans and newcomers to the series may be skeptical of this installment’s ability to deliver, and while it’s true that ‘Bride’ brought Child’s Play into a new scope viewers would do well to remember that like our hero, himself, packaging rarely indicates punch.

 

Yu opens with harkening back to beloved James Whales’ atmospheric originals; a playfully spooky dark and stormy night with an expendable-looking cop nervously slinking through an evidence room.  We’re given just enough lightning flash to make out tagged items from other investigations.  Highlighted are cubbies containing a candid homage to horror legends, Michael, Jason, & Freddie (Jason face & Freddy fingers boxed in together… premonition much?).  All of which seems a not-so-subtle declaration of Chucky’s right to be counted amongst the greats.

Our lackey nabs a bulky black plastic bag and makes his way to the drop-off point, placing a call during which we hear one of Hollywood’s most familiar raspy coos.  Shortly after, owner of said coo makes our film’s first kill and it’s a gusher.  Tiffany slits Officer Crooked’s throat letting us know W.) just where a fair bribe & the moral high-ground can shove it and X.) she isn’t exactly the squeamish type.  Fun side note: he’d just lit a cig possibly making this the best anti-smoking ad ever.  Quothe the Tilly, eat your heart out, Truth.

 

And just who is this slaughtering pigs right out the gate?**  Enter the ultimate in 90’s sex appeal!  Blonde, boobs, and black leather is how Tiffany rolls, and, baby, it’s just fine by me.  She unwraps the loot and we get our first glimpse of our Chucky’s mug, well, 4/5 of a mug and looking like he’s seen better days.  Still, toy in hand Tiff and swaggers off to hostess one killer crafting montage complete with creepy doll appendages & eyeballs, brutally long hooks, thick black wormy string, and staple gun.  Compounded with Rob Zombie’s rough & dirty tunes, Tiff is like the warped, older sister May’s (2002) parents forbid her to be like.

She’s into crafting. No, really…

She’s into crafting. No, really…

     Next up: the ingénues and oppressive fatherly types.  Gordon Michael Woolvett, as David, reminds us we’re in the 90s with his strategically placed frosted tips and that being gay in this decade’s cinema meant you knew EVERYTING about orchids and were attending Princeton to study theatre arts on your figure skating scholarship.  A young-and-feeling-fresh Katherine Heigl, as sweetheart Jade, flexes her prissy-pants, pouty-face shmacting muscles and veteran John Ritter as Chief Warren Kincaid grunts, barks, and squints, firmly establishing himself as the meddling square that must later die in some satisfyingly creative way.

 

David is supposed to be Jade’s date for… prom? Yeah, that unnecessary plot-point thankfully fell to the wayside, but Oh, these wile kids!  We soon find Jade’s all googly-eyed for Tiger Beat hunk Jesse (Nick Stabile) who’s hiding in the backseat & reveals himself just long enough to shove his tongue down her throat.  This moment is the climax of their sexual/emotional chemistry throughout the movie.  However, these rascals are soon pulled over by Lt. “Needle Nose” Preston who, by virtue of his unrelenting grin, remains the absolute creepiest character of this film.

Unless you count Damien, (then Robert Arquette, now Alexis Arquette) one of Tiff’s puppies who she couldn’t take less seriously.  In her defense, it’s no easy task with a dude who looks like Marilyn Manson, acts like Brian Hugh Warner, and sounds like Keanu Reeves.  This pseudo-badass is more Creed than Cradle of Filth despite his best efforts to convince Tiffany that he’s the deranged sociopath of her dreams.   He weirdly crawls all over her bed mispronouncing “la petite morte”, the French idiom for an orgasm, but still manages a surprising sultry line, “Come on, Tiffany, let’s die a little”.  But minimal seductive powers are hardly enough to redeem this guy.  “HEYTIFFANY!” is the perfect introduction for Damien.  “Come on, I’ll catch my death out here!” to which she disinterestedly replies “Promises, promises”.  The contrast of her casual confidence against his pasty fragility makes this one of the best delivered lines of the flick & pretty much this sums up every relationship she’s waded through for 10 years since Chucky’s bizarre toy store demise.

 

Oh, right!  So just prior to Damien whimpering up Tiff’s tree, she successfully summons Chucky’s being back into his trashed little body.  Yu is wise in letting Chucky’s first move be to play on his strong suit, pitter-pattering around and appearing at the perfect moment to monumentally fuck with his prey’s head.  Being the perfect pair, Tiff also likes to play with her food.  She seductively cuffs Lamien to the bed, and though we know his demise is just around the river bend he sports a grin that looks like the unholy hybrid of Gary Busey & Julia Roberts’ mouths.   Upon revealing himself, Chucky tears out Dame’s crucifix labret weirdly rendering a veritable bloodbath, and covers his face with a pillow casually plopping down on it to sit and catch up with Tiff.  It has been 10 years, after all.

He had it coming for the sharpie tribal tatts.

Now, here comes a practical reason for my love of this movie.  Don Mancini, writer of the entire Child’s Play franchise, does a decent of job of getting personalities, chemistry, and history across in a pinch, managing to give you, dear viewer, the info you need while keeping you highly entertained and eager for more.   One of film’s weaknesses, however, is in giving their lackluster teen-vs-world subplot waaaaaay more attention than it merits and making moves like cutting away from Chuck & Tiff’s reunion to make time for dry toast characters.  The kids have to take a breathalyzer in the pouring rain, we get that Kincaid’s a weight-throwing douche bag constantly dogging on poor folk, Jade spouts off a couple awkwardly melodramatic lines, and we get the sense that they’re going to “get the hell outta dodge and nevah look back.”  Okay.  Are we done here?

 

Back to Tiff & Chuck.  Fellas, if your woman ever goes to the trouble of sewing up your tattered ragdoll of a body, holds séances in her (enviably cool Goth-chic) doublewide to call your spirit back from some nebulous limbo, AND cooks you Swedish meatballs… try not to laugh in her face and imply she’s “fuckin’ nuts” when she talks marriage and babies. It’ll just piss her off.  Hell hath no fury as we find when Tiff Masterlocks Chucky in what she’d hoped would be their child’s play pin leaving the casual viewer to wonder, “Was the lock-and-key baby digs really for their potential offspring?!”, already-parents to think, “Hey, now, there’s an idea…”, and Child’s Play aficionados noting, “Yeah, she’s going to need that, later…”

 

-'B-I-T-C-H’. That is incorrect. The correct spelling of woman is W-O-M”
-"Shows how much you know.”

How Chucky can launch the nanny out the window but he can’t break out of some dinky wooden box is beyond me.  But ironic ingenuity prevails when Chucky uses Tiff’s assumed engagement ring to file down the bars and gain freedom (see what they did there?).  In what is a visually spectacular scene, Chucky electrocutes Tiff by way of knocking the boob tube into her bubble bath while she’s watching Lanchester own it in Bride of Frankenstein (see? they did there it there, too).  He does the dirty deed with her dead body… transferring her being into the obnoxiously wholesome bride doll she bought to torture him.  Why?  Y) He’s a vindictive asshole, Z) to get her on board with the plan.  What’s the plan?  To retrieve an amulet buried with Chucky’s rotting corpse in Jersey and trick gullible dope Jesse and increasingly whiney Jade to hand over their bodies for inhabitation.  So now we have to road trip with these kids…  Are we there, yet?

 

Small price to pay, however, for the treat of seeing Tiff school Chucky on how to murder and murder good.  “Who the fuck is Martha Stewart”, Chucky’s inquires after Tiff’s inspiration for improvised “homicidal genius”.  She devises a booby trap (teeheegetit?causeshehasbigtits) that involves literally nailing Kincaid.  Tiffany’s critique of the go-to knife technique as 80s kitsch not only shows that Chucky’s in a new age, but that horror itself is always morphing into new form.  While horror filmmaker and fans seem fairly apt at respecting their roots, horror is a vehicle for reflecting the times and the times do change.  Just as monsters gave way to slashers, so slashers have taken somewhat of a back seat to the theme of ruthless ingenuity manifested through franchises such as Saw and given premonition by Tiff’s airbag nail launcher.  But such a creative genre isn’t given to choppy black and whites.  Chucky proves that that he’s still got it by later finishing off Kincaid with your tried-and-true maniacal multiple stabbing noting that “a true classic never goes out of style”, a move likely to leave true fans grinning and glowing with pride.                   

 

But still Chucky shows he can keep up with the time’s sense of inventive mayhem, with a make-shift car bomb making Needle Nose and his disturbing smile no more.  Ruthless Deviants: 3, Crooked Cops: 0.  Okay, look, Tiff and Chucky have some major bloodlust issues, but they’re not aimlessly drawn to killing.  It’s an enjoyable means to an end.  What’s that? How can you avoid certain death the next time you’re appearing in this movie?   It’s simple, really…

 

Survival Tips:

–  No looking in plastic bags – stay uncurious

–  No tampering with plots & rides

–  No happily allowing a self-professed murderer to cuff you up

–  No stumbling into highway traffic

–  No being an obnoxiously unnecessary character

–  Try your best not work in law enforcement or own a camper

 

Meanwhile, Jesse & Jade cope with their plans getting mucked up and being prime suspects for the past 4 murders by endlessly blaming each other.  So let’s see… now that we know what an irredeemably crappy couple those kids make and now they’re at the top of the FBI’s shit list what scene should we shoot for next?  Oo!  How bout a painfully awkward wedding?  At least it gives Tiff & Chuck the chance to have an actual heart-to-heart and us the chance to get in on some actual character chemistry.

Quick, they’re filming! Look like you’re into me!

Post-nuptials, Jesse & Jade are as supremely miserable as ever in their lavishly hokey honeymoon suite and are soon infiltrated by a couple who make you wonder which you loathe more: their painfully unfunny mayhem or that they resorted to goofy undies to try and trick you into finding them amusing (HAHAHAgetit?causethey’resilly).  They slight Chucky, steal Jesse’s dough, and freak out the kids with schmaltzy advances.  Feeling threatened by this woman’s ability to ruin a scene more effectively than she ever could, Jade kicks them out.

Tiff seeks revenge against the “thieving slut” shattering their ceiling mirror, the shards of which apparently fall at a velocity that impales the raunchy couple and their waterbed splashing tidal waves of bloody water all over the joint.  It’s all over for Chucky, he’s smitten.  He gets down on his knees, bites the ring off the newlydead’s severed finger, proposes in front of a roaring fire, and realizing “all the plumbing works” and “he’s feeling like Pinocchio over here” the saxophone & heavy panting begins.

 

Back on the road, a clusterfuck occurs in which the David’s obliterated by a semi, Chucky & Tiff reveal their alivedness (my review, my vocabulary) and their plans taking Jesse & Jade hostage at gunpoint, and kill a couple poor schmoes for their camper.  Soon after, the planets align and Jessie has the intelligent idea to pit Chucky & Tiff against each other.  Insults are thrown (“Take it from me, honey, plastic is no substitute for a nice hunk of wood!”) and chaos ensues!  Winnebago rolls & explodes, Tiff gets charbroiled, Chucky kidnaps Jade, Jesse kidnaps Tiff, amulet is retrieved, chicks are swapped, in a last second stroke of conscience Tiff dukes it out with Chucky, and a detective arrives just in time to see a possessed doll and clear Jesse & Jade’s names just before she blows him away (apparently high profile investigations are easily put to rest with one dude’s unfounded speculations).  WHEW!  Good thing they managed to magically roll our motor home a block away from the cemetery or this could’ve been complicated.

 

The ultimate Planned Parenthood ad.

Oh, and Tiff gives birth to an evil mutant abomination that eats the detective’s face off.  Completely ruining Jesse & Jade’s alibi this movie ends on what I would consider a bonafide high note!

 

In the end, ‘Bride’ is one of those raunchy rides providing a healthy dose of laughs, sex, and horror.  Although equipped with some righteously bloody moments, its aim is different than its two predecessors; it wants you to get to know your anti-heroes.  A strong part of Chucky’s appeal is that he thinks, talks, and acts like a person… a supremely disturbed person but a person, nonetheless.  He swears, cracks wickedly dirty puns, digs meatballs, gets horny, calls his gf ‘babe’ but has little patience for shmoopy romance, etc.  He’s a colorful dude.  Who wouldn’t want a little peek into his personal life?                                

 

And, my God!  Tiffany, alone, offers more than enough guts & heart to  get you hooked.  Even as her dolls self montages into her usual platinum bombshell- painting herself in magenta & black, donning a classically tough black pleather jacket, and lighting her cig with a zippo swiped from her 2nd to latest victim’s corpse- her wedding dress remains pristine beneath the flash. Underneath a playfully sadistic exterior Tiffany is tender-hearted to the core, wanting only to love and be loved.  Course, Tiff is a total Harvey Dent, so the flip side of that warped coin is in remembering that no matter how canned her dreams of marital bliss & baby-making may seem she is far from your brainwashed Stepford.

 

While prone to “female hysterics”, Tiff manages to put on her big girl panties, hatch the vast majority of their plans, and practically creams at the thought of getting her hands bloody.  She is bad, savvy, & devilishly resourceful.  Tiff seems like Mancini’s response to the new millennium woman’s identity crisis; wanting genuine intimate connection without having to sacrifice our hard-earned sense-of-self to acquire it.  She’ll go above and beyond to prove her love (i.e. 10 years bribing/killing cops to find her bf’s possessed plastic corpse, slave over that hot stove perfecting her Swedish meatballs, etc) but WOE to the man-doll who takes it for granted…  Sound familiar? By now, it’s a cinematic classic- the woman wielding her rolling pin in juggernaut resentment when she isn’t given her due. Domesticity’s alarming 180 from assured subservience to a yammering nag was film’s way of saying,”Wow, woman, your standards for respect are pretty obnoxious”.  Although Tiffany has her cliched lecture & dish throwing down pat, it’s easy to sympathize.  Maybe Barbie can eat her heart out, but Chucky’s a far fucking cry from Ken and a hijacked camper is the dreamiest house they’ll ever have.

The entire Child’s Play franchise seems to reflect a certain fear of role irregularities or reversals.  What was once a thing of comfort becomes the epitome of terror.  That the seemingly sweet, innocent youth could foster something dark and sinister is a trend possibly correlating with two monumentally impactful and sometimes oppositional American movements, women’s and children’s rights.  It’s no well-kept secret that hardcore classics such as Rosemary’s Baby & The Omen helped us deal with the controversies of Roe vs Wade, rewiring our cultural understading to actually consider the needs and wants of women (some would argue even to the detriment of a child’s right to life).  But the 80s and 90s brought on a new a strange blend of children’s rights and a crackdown on child criminal offenses.  Children were being seen less as saintly cherubs and more as actual people, capable of both kind and vicious deeds.

In Child’s Play, Andy & Chucky satisfy these extreme opposites, manifesting both the hopes and fears of parent and society. That little Andy is gradually introduced to the evils of the world through Chucky on such an extremely intimate level threatens these hopes of childlike purity. It addresses the increasing fear many had in those conservative times of children being exposed to too much of the world too quickly, how subversively evil can take form (the Good Guy with a Bad Boy streak), and how deeply that evil might take root in children (a plot to literally infiltrate Andy’s mind and body implying undertones of lewd & lascivious intent, yet ANOTHER sickening issue receiving big-time attention in the 80s and being addressed through other villains such as Freddy).

Christ, was there ANY large-scale issue Child’s Play didn’t cover?!  Well, we could always talk about its representation of single-parent homes, economic crisis, systemic discrimination against women in the workforce, shamelessly kid-focused consumerism, crooked cops (though we kind of covered that one), questioning the legitimacy of diagnosing psychosis… dude, we could go on for a while, right?  But these were and are all very real, very tense issues naturally needing one helluvan outlet.

And, baby, Chucky gave it to ’em.

Thanks for reading and stay trashy, kids!

**Bootsie lovingly respects & supports those in Uniform, even if the characters I love don’t.

 

Many thanks to Chuckyholics for providing killer images!

http://www.chuckyholics.com/site/gallery/bride-of-chucky-screencaps/?nggpage=7

 




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