Posts Tagged ‘cemetery

10
Jan
16

Phantasm (1979): All that we see or seem…

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a Primal Root written review

“First he took Mom and Dad, then he took Jody, now he’s after me.” – Mike, Phantasm

I never planned on writing a review for Phantasm. However, with today’s passing of the beloved horror icon, Angus Scrimm, who breathed life into one of my all time favorite cinematic boogeymen, I felt compelled to take a look back at not only of the most enduring and admired horror films, but one I hold very dear to my heart.

Let me start off by stating that there is no real way to create a summary of Phantasm that honestly does the film any justice. It’s the kind of film that takes place inside between the conscious world and that of the subconscious, the the realm of primal, deep, dark human emotions, and at that, from the perspective of a young boy in his early teens who has lost so much he’s having trouble coming to terms with it. Well, Hell, okay…at least let me TRY to tell you what the film’s about.

Young Michael (Michael Baldwin) is living with his older, adult brother Jody (Bill Thornbury) after the untimely death of their parents. Michael is already having trouble coping with the sudden lose of his parents, when he comes to the realization this Jody is considering leaving town and handing custody of Mike over to their Aunt and Uncle. The thought of not only losing his parents, but being a burden on his older brother, who is thinking of leaving him behind, is adding to Mike’s pain and turmoil. There’s a fantastic, heart breaking sequence where Jody rides his bike down the street as Mike chases after him on foot unbeknownst to his old brother. Mike can’t keep up and eventually, begrudgingly, gives up. It’s a pitch perfect moment that visualizes the dreaded feeling of abandonment and the inevitability of change.

To make matters worse, Mike witnesses some very strange goings-ons at the local Morningside Cemetery and Funeral Home. At the funeral of one of Jody and Mike’s friends, Tommy,  Mike witnesses a shadowy, sinister Tall Man (Angus Scrimm, Rest in Peace) lift up up Tommy’s corpse filled coffin all by his lonesome…and load it back into the hearse rather than lowering it into it’s grave.

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As young Mike investigates further he discovers there seems to be a sudden infestation of tiny, brown robbed creatures haunting the cemetery, a knife wielding blonde, big breasted seductress intent on poking every man she can lure into the cemetery to death and the mortuary is guarded by brain sucking, high velocity flying killer spheres. And who looks to be behind it all? The black suited Tall Man who has set his evil sights on Mike.

It takes quite a bit of convincing to get Jody to believe that what is happening over at Morningside is true. With the crazy stories Mike keeps spouting, who can blame the guy for chocking it up to a kid’s imagination? But when Mike comes home with a living, moving, nasty little momento from his last encounter with The Tall Man, Jody hops on board as does their ice cream selling buddy Reggie (Reggie Bannister). The three lay siege to Morningside cemetery int he hopes of uncovering The Tall Man’s true purpose in their small town and send him back to whatever Hell this monstrous being came from. However, as is the case in Phantasm, nothing is exactly as it seems…And the final revelation of Phantasm is devastating, beautiful and deeply disturbing.

**** SPOILERS AHEAD ****

Okay, I am going to discuss the film a bit and I recommend you see Phantasm first before reading further.

One of Phantasm‘s greatest strengths is it’s respect for a child’s perspective. To try and make sense of what is happening int he world around you. It plays almost like an episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark? that pulls no punches. There is something evil and sinister happening in their small town, and it is up to Mike to convince his older brother and for them to solve this horrible problem. There’s a great since of mystery and wonderment as well as mounting dread and tension, but it’s all handled with a real sentimentality and heart that is hard to find in most popular horror cinema of the 70’s era.

Now, before I start making this film sound like the ultimate bummer, Phtasm also has an excellent sense of adventure and fun on it’s surface. Jody, Mike and Reggie are a damn funny trio and their reactions to the ludicrous happenings around town and pricless. Darkly hysterical moments like Michael finding an enourmous flesh eating bug tangled in his hair, Jody asking Mike is the strange breathing sounds he heard was the “retard” up the street and, my personal favorite, when Mike is confronted inside the mortuary by The Tall Man who stands several passes down the hall from him, Mike, speechless utters in complete My-Goose-Is-Cooked fashion, “Oh, shit…” Phantasm is a damn good time about one darkly sobering mother fucking subject matter.

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Phantasm is a horror movie about the sad but honest fact that everyone we love will die. That those closest to us will have to eventually leave us one day and that no matter how hard we fight, or try to hold on, or battle against it, we will ALWAYS lose. I understand the notion that we carry these people with us forever in our hearts and memories, that they live on forever in the tales we tell of them and the ways that they’ve touched us. But we will never get to sit down and hold their hand, feel the comfort of their presence of enjoy a glass of whiskey with them ever again. They are gone. Gone. And so shall we be. And that’s something we all must face.

At the end of Phantasm Michael and Jody do battle with The Tall Man and end up trapping him in an abandoned mine shaft and dropping a dozen or so gigantic boulders on top of the sucker. Our last glimpse of Jody is from onto of a high hill from where he rolled the boulders on top of The Tall Man, sealing his fate. Mike sees his brother, bathed in light with his arms held high over his head in triumph. Mike and Jody have one. Then the film reverses on Mike and he awakes in his bedroom. He is comforted beside the living room fireplace by he and Jody’s good friend Reggie. Reggie explains that not only are Mike’s parents dead, but Jody is also dead, killed in a car accident.

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This is a moment of true horror, a devastating moment that still breaks my heart just thinking about it. And this is where Phantasm succeeds so well, in making us care for the characters that are part of this tale. You can sense the brotherly love between Jody and Mike, their sense of camaraderie and their shared feelings of grief and confusion over the loss of their parents and the prospect of both their uncertain futures. To find out that Mike has lost the entirety of his immediate family, the people he has known and loved since birth, is a crushing blow.

Phantasm is a horror film that dwells in the dark, most assuredly, but it also has a great deal of heart and warmth to it, which as I stated above, is something of a hard commodity to come across in 1970’s era horror cinema. Just look at Tobe Hooper’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre, John Carpenter’s Halloween and Wes Craven’s Last House on the Left. It was a bloody horrifying decade for horror. Phantasm, too, explores the shadows of human nature. But, as odd as it might sound, Phantasm reminds us of what makes life worth living and that life is fleeting and serves as a reminder that we must cherish each moment of happiness we have. To show those we hold close that we love them, that we care and that we are here for them. Because one day, as we all know, they will be gone and we will never get that opportunity to hold them near and tell them we love them again.

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Phantasm is a masterpiece, plain and simple. From it’s unique story penned and directed by a very young Don Coscarelli, it’s unforgettable, dreamlike score by Fred Myrow, and it’s natural, engaging performances by everyone involved,  Phantasm is a type of dark fairy tale about the inevitability of  change and loss which digs deep into our most horrifying childhood fears about death. It takes us right back to the time when we were children and had to make sense of this adult world, a real world we were just beginning to become acquainted with. Phantasm is an audacious film which dares to take a trip through the mental landscape of a deeply scarred, traumatized child. By film’s end, Mike and Reggie decide they must leave their small town and find a new start. Mike begins packing his bag so that they can hit the road and head into a new day, a new future where they can begin to come to terms with their pain. Mike closes his closet door revealing The Tall Man in his mirror. “BOOOOOOOOY!” The Tall Man growls…and Michael is caught. Pulled through the mirror and into darkness.

One day you and I will face Death. Inevitably, as The Tall Man says, “The Game is finished. Now, you die.” And when that day comes, that unavoidable day when we reach our ultimate fate, we can only hope that in death we will fine peace and comfort. Not a brutal Hell made up of our most nightmarish childhood fears.

Phantasm and it’s iconic boogeyman, The Tall Man, would live on with many colorful, imaginative, bonkers sequels that pick up and continue the story admirably well. But, if you were to ask me, the tale begins and ends with the original 1979 classic Phantasm. One of the most poetic and lovely horror stories ever told.

I award Phantasm FIVE out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

05
Oct
14

Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things (1972)

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a Primal Root written review

Before the man ended up tackling truly awful films like Baby Geniuses and Karate Dog, late filmmaker Bob Clark made some well loved and enduring films. Hell, they play his film A Christmas Story at least 700 times on every cable station from November to New Year’s Day, and his horror film Black Christmas is held up beside John Carpenter’s Halloween as one of the most suspenseful and horrifying slasher films ever made. The deeply unsettling Vietnam era horror film, Deathdream He even created the legendary Trash Cinema Classic, Porky’s back in 1982! The man proved he could do it all and with pizazz. For my money, one of the man’s finest and most under appreciated works is one of his very first. the 1973 horror/comedy Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things.

Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things is the tale of a troupe of hippie thespians who travel out to a secluded burial island off the coast of Florida for an adventure at the witching hour.  Their leader and owner of the theater company is Alan (Alan Ormsby) a complete megalomaniac who take much pleasure in putting his friends down, sexual harassment and has a penchant for loud clothing. He leads his troupe to this island with the promise that he will raise the dead. The gang catches on quick and thinks it’s all a ruse to scare the shit out of them, which proves to be the case as they are attacked by two ghouls that turn out to be fellow actors in pancake makeup. However, soon after this bit of fun, Alan ends up ordering his thespian clan to dig up an actual corpse, that of a deceased fellow named Orville, before actually promising to call up a curse from Satan himself and bring the dead back to life.

After several false starts, the magic incantation actually does work and the undead residents of the island cemetery rise from their graves to devour the usual rag tag group of acid casualties, witchy women and squares in bell bottoms, but this doesn’t happen till nearly the end of the movie. In fact, the majority of the film is spent highlighting the petty power struggles and squabbling that takes place between this group comprised of hand picked members of the Flower Power/Free Love community. Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things peels back the facade and takes a long, hard look at the hippie dream of peace, love and community and how this counterculture failed on delivering it’s idealistic vision of a better, new society. Power games, sexism, and sadistic threats are what dominate this unpleasant and corrupt group of young people. In short, this is no longer a utopian world of change, but an exact replica of the society they we seeking to be an alternative to.

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Just beyond the caustic satire of the counterculture is a dark sense of melancholy and despair which is fully embodied in the character of Alan. The villainous Alan does not believe in traditional Flower Power, but espouses on the pointlessness of our very existence, “The dead are losers. If anyone hasn’t earned the right for respect, it’s the dead…Man is a machine that manufactures manure.”  Alan takes great pride in devaluing those around him. Calling his leading man a “slab of meat” and mocking Satan himself in his incantations. Alan lives in a world without value or truth. He even states that he will take Orville home to feed to his dogs and then use his bones as Christmas ornaments. Sure, he might be saying this all for shock value, but from the reaction of those around him you get the impression this is not an act, but who Alan really is.  So, in the end, after Alan spends so much of the film waxing his nihilistic poetry, exposing the pointlessness of life and the non existence of God or Satan, it makes a kind of deeply sick sense that the dead should return to life. Rising like malfunctioning machines comprised of rotted flesh and old bones, moving about as a parody of the living’s pointless, expendable existence.

Instead of embracing these walking dead as the ultimate substantiation of his empty, nihilistic beliefs, Alan does everything in his power to save his own ass. In one of the film;s most memorable moments of absolutely shocking and comical pessimism, Alan and a female friend run up the stairs for safety, followed closely by the flesh hungry dead. Alan, in a moment of complete selfishness, pushes this woman down the stairs and into the arms of the flesh eaters coming for them. The actions stops for a moment as the woman and zombies alike stop in their tracks and stare at Alan, as if astonished at his loathsome cowardice, before taking this young woman off to be eaten.

This is where that vision peace and love got us. Not the most cheerful of thoughts to consider.

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Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things is one brutal in it’s sick, drastically dark satire, but it’s still a fantastic comedy. Filled with quirky performances, snappy dialog, and some fantastic one liners.  On a near non-existent budget, Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things manages to be both completely entertaining and utterly engrossing  while reminding you why you dread running into those kids you used to hang out with in drama club back in high school. The thespians are all very real, very human characters and the zombies, in cheap makeup and thrift store clothes, are vivid, nasty customers with facial expressions registering rage and hate rather than the typical benign indifference of a Romero zombie. After being rudely awaken,  these dead folks are back to settle a score.  The makers of this film use their limited budget to their advantage and deliver an intelligent, bleak look into a counterculture that never did take, died,  and simply rotted away like flesh from the bone.  In the end, it’s Death getting the last laugh.

I give Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things THREE AND A HALF Dumpster Nuggets.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

30
Sep
13

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

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

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

a Primal Root written review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay Trashy!

-Root

19
Mar
13

Maiden Detroit: Devil Girl of the Month, March 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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14
Jan
13

Texas Chainsaw 3D: The Family That Slays Together…

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a Primal Root review

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

*SPOILERS AHEAD!*

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But, I digress…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay Trashy!

-Root

17
May
12

Gorotica: Coldcocked (1993)

a Primal Root review

Ah, yes, after scraping the glorious  dregs of  the Trash Cinema dumpster and coming up with 1990’s “Gorgasm: The Ultimate Climax”, it is time we move on to Hugh Gallagher’s 1993 second installment in the much maligned, enjoyed by some, despised by other, Gore Trilogy entitled “Gorotica!” Get ready, gang, cause this one’s going to leave you feeling a little dirtier than our last flick, if you can believe it.

“Gorotica” spins the tale of two band mates, Neil (Dingo Jones) and Max (Bushrude Gutterman), who pull an armed diamond heist in order to score the funds necessary to send their band to California in the hopes of making it big! It’s a really shitty plan. Max has sold Neil on it, but being a leatherclad, crappy guitar-playing punk rock kid in your late 20’s, your whole life is more or less defined by a long string of shitty moves and really stupid decisions.  So why not orchestrate a diamond heist so you can move to California for your already flaccid music career?

Speaking of The Grateful Dead…

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Before the action even gets going, “Gorotica’s” opening sequence features Carrie (Ghetty Chasun), a curvy, pierced up, well endowed goth chick, as she lays in bed watching a compilation of still shots of dead bodies at various crime scenes and masturbating. Sure, this all seems normal,  that is until she pulls a skull out from under her bed and rubs it up and down against her exposed vagina.  I watched this as a kid and had the distinct feeling this was actually how goth girls who never grew out of it spent their time. As I got older, I came to realize  I wasn’t that far off.  It’s only after Carrie has shown off her ample bongos, tried to shove a skull up her love tunnel, and knocked a totally different skull  off the top of her television set with her intense, rhythmic, masturbatory gyrations & gushing climax, do our credits begin to roll!

Opening Credits by Atari

Alright, so we first meet pseudoheroes Neil and Max post robbery as they run down a dark alley, stop to catch their breath, and discuss what their next move should be. Seeing as they robbed the store in their every day attire, you know, torn jeans, plaid shirts, leather jackets and ratty haircuts, the police know just who to look for. Hell, the morons didn’t even wear fucking masks when they robbed the place! So, it stands to reason that Max would come up with the idea of swallowing  the fist sized diamond they stole for safe keeping and chase with half a handle of bourbon. I don’t even want to imagine what Max’s poor sphincter will be going through when that girl’s best friend passes the threshold. The depressing concoction of blood, tears, and shit is never something I like to comprehend, let alone experience in anyway.

Thankfully, we never have to see this happen as some police officer happens down the exact same alley demanding the two young men freeze. Max pulls out a gun and he and copper exchange warm bullet welcomes, rendering both cop & kid as flat-liners. The police officer dies instantly from his gut shot while Max, on the other hand, survives but is left in critical condition which means we get the pleasure of hearing him whine and groan for the next several minutes as Neil enters a comic relief sequence where he steals a drunk old man’s car.  The comic scene plays out like a when you try to fart in order to make someone laugh and then you realize it was a lot wetter than you anticipated and you’ve now shit yourself. It goes from funny to tragic in less than a second.  Yeah, it’s that kind of failure.

Gotta look good for those dead bodies I’m gonna be digging up this mid-afternoon!

So, Neil heads off to the local cemetery with his newly dead band mate to lay low for a little bit, and maybe catch a few well-deserved Zzz’s. But guess who happens to be there… SURPRISE! SURPRISE! It’s Carrie! Who has come to the cemetery after an extensively gratuitous make-up sequence, which is obviously just an excuse for the filmmakers to showcase her supernaturally giant knockers, in order to gather some fresh stiffs to fuck.  As luck would have it this star-crossed love triangle crosses paths and Carrie introduces herself to the hot and cold duo, Neil and Max, and the rest is history. She offers Neil a place to hide and stash Max’s body for a bit until he sorts things out.  I mean, it’s mighty neighborly of Carrie but the fact that Neil isn’t immediately weirded out is a little sad to me. But, again, this guy doesn’t seem to be firing on all cylinders so I guess we can just use that as his excuse.

That a dead guy in your bucket seat or are you just happy to see me?

As soon as Carrie and Neil get to her place and they drop off Max’s body in her bathtub, Neil gets on the horn and contacts his connection, Miss Miles, who set the plan for this whole half-baked heist motion and promised cold, hard cash if they brought her the ice.  Course, now that there’s a dead cop in the mix and Captain Bumblefuck is on the FBI’s shit list this ice is now “too hot”, so the situation’s changed a bit. Neil heads out on foot and runs afoul of some very angry police officers looking for his “cop killing ass”. He is held at gunpoint by one officer in civilian garb whose face spastically alters moment to moment like some kind of rodent on speed. The mustache is the icing on his ballistic cake.

This officer’s most dignified facial expression.

However, Neil gets the drop on the two cops by using his patented “Flying Rat” method! As the popo flings Neil into a pile of garbage he retaliates by grabbing some poor, bystander rat and slings the littler dumpster diver at one of the cops! Eat Temptleton, pigs!!  And this… works?  In terror, the cop discharges his weapon which, luckily, finds purchase right between the eyes of his fellow law enforcement pal. Neil quickly draws his weapon firing several slugs into the gutty works of rodent boy who drops to the piss soaked asphalt and fades into B-movie heaven. Good night, sweet prince!  You know, for being so unlucky Neil sure is lucky…Wait a minute…

It’s hard out here for a punk.

While Neil is off getting his face bashed in and throwing rats all over the joint, Carrie is back at her abode fucking the living daylights…er, what’s left of the daylights, out of dear, departed, Max. She undresses his body in the shower and gets to work grabbing his pale arms and caressing herself with them and puppeting his fingers to pinch her nipples. If you ask me, this just seems like some really labor-intensive masturbation. I mean, really, for all the effort of moving the fucking corpse appendages and waiting for rigor mortis to settle in the damn thing’s sausage link you could be done already by just using YOUR OWN APPENDAGES to get this shit done. But, what do I know, I’ve only dabbled in necrophilia. I’m sure once it’s blossomed from experimentation to a serious, full blown addiction, your own touch just doesn’t cut it, anymore. No matter how much ice cold water you soak them in beforehand, the vag just ain’t buyin it.

Necrophilia: Not as easy as it looks.

Anyhoo, after the marathon cold-cut fuck session, Carrie decides to put that almost-cosmetology license to good use and treats Max’s corpse to mohawk makeover. All of a sudden, a bruised-up Neil busts in and is soon unnerved by his lady harborer’s glee that,”He’s starting to stiffen up! All the really good parts! *tee-HEE*” After a brief, one-sided discussion on Neil’s part explaining just how fucked his situation is and how events have “snowballed” he goes off to the crusty living room couch to crash. Carrie, on the other hand, takes the Maxcadaver to bed with her and discusses her family history with him while smoking Pall Malls, then deciding it’s time for another lengthy deep dicking of the dead.  Well, damn.  I guess it DOES pay to just sit and listen. Neil tries to drown out the disturbingly loud & squishy goth girl necrophiliac noises with couch cushions, firmly deciding,”When I die, I better be fucking cremated!” Because, yeah, heaven for-fucking-bid some gorgeously breasted babe makes use of your body once you’ve departed. I mean, what the hell do you care? Like you’re really doing anything better with it!

Something for the ladies! And the smokers!

The next morning Neil wakes up to find Carrie moving Max’s body out of the apartment. Ummmm… Seems she has other plans for his rotting flesh. It goes without saying, Neil has a bit of an issue with this seeing as in his buddy’s cold, punctured gut sits that gigantic rock that’s the difference between living life on the lam, soaking up some sun in Kokomo or life on the lam bunking in a nicotine stained, musty apartment with a corpse fucker. They get into a bit of a tussle in which Neil seems to have the upper hand after delivering a very slow kung-fu kick to Carrie’s mid-section sending her flipping up and over her Goodwill, filth encrusted love seat.  Oh, and manages to flash us all her whole fruit basket in the process! But the tables turn as Carrie grabs a nearby fuck-skull and smashes it over  Neil’s head. Before he goes unconscious Carrie forbiddingly quips,”I’m sure when you come to you’ll see things my way. You’ll have no choice! *MANIACAL LAUGH*.” Kinda makes you think he’s going to wake up trapped in a coffin being buried alive, but instead, he just wakes up in the apartment, but Carrie’s left with his pal’s body. He’s not tied up or anything, sooooo, yeah. Neil just leaves.

NEIL DOWN BEFORE CARRIE!

Where did Carrie take Max’s remains, you ask? Well, she spiked up his mohawk and took the guy over to the abode of a flamboyant fellow named Blake. You know, the kind of guy who wears puffy armed shirts and capes. He’s in the market for a dead guy to fuck because he has AIDS (!) and wants to have a partner he can ride bareback. Nice to see people play it safe, I guess. Seems he’s purchased cadavers from Carrie before, but never one this fresh. Lucky dog Blake and corpse-pushing Carrie haggle over the price a bit before agreeing on a deal and Blake gets to town riding his new, well broken in, dead fuck mate. But that’s not all! He throws in some more cash for Carrie and hands her what looks like a trash bag to wear with a holes cut into it so her tits hang out of it and then hands her a whip so she can go all Roots on him whilst he rides Max’s Hershey Highway to Hell. I’m sure this was meant to be disturbing but I cannot help but laugh at Gorotica’s grandiose attempt at being provocative and deeply disturbing. Sorry, gang, but this shit is comedic gold.

Joe Don Baker and Edward Norton share a tender moment.

Somehow, nitwit Neil is able to track Blake’s place down (…?), and with gun drawn he barges through the door and claims the body of Max in name of Asshole. What follows is an action-packed finale where Carrie busts out her Indi Jones moves and disarms Neil with a crack of her whip! Neil stabs Blake to death getting the guy’s blood all in his mouth, eyes, and up his nose in the process thereby, in all likelihood, ensuring that he’s contracted HIV/AIDS. Carrie, who can see the bright side of everything, points at the guy, explains his now very topical 90’s doomed dileama, and laughs her ass off. You gotta admit, it is pretty funny. Neil doesn’t quite see the humor in it and blows Carrie away. He FINALLY cuts Max’s stomach open and locates the hidden diamond within. Hastily giving the diamond an unnecessary tongue bath (ew), Neil heads to some seedy motel where he shaves his head into a Travis Bickle style mohawk, douses himself with gasoline and booze, and waits for Miss Miles splayed naked in bed. Miss Miles shows up, gets an eye full, comments on the strong smell of GASOLINE in the motel room and still, as Neil sits on the edge of his bed and put a cigarette to his lips, gives him a light upon request thereby sealing both their fates. Or so I assume as whatever happens after she flicks the Bic happens off camera.

And so ends, Hugh Gallagher’s  bizarre, unintentionally comical, mildly boner inducing, low budget horror cult sophomore effort, “Gorotica”!

Immolating oneself is sooooo erotic! Excuse me, Gorotic. A. Gorotica. 😉

I’ve heard the hand full of fans of this series call Gorotica a huge disappointment after Gorgasm because this follow up doesn’t feature any of the gore the title promises. Personally, I’m really okay with this because Gorotica is a far better movie, if you ask me. The acting’s better, the streamlined, MILDLY believable story doesn’t just kind of make sense, it’s actually relatively coherent!  Sure, there’s not much gore in this second entry in the trilogy, but that’s a moot point when you have such goofy story that hunkers down and takes a little bit of time to tell it’s terribly trashy tale. It’s not a good movie, at all, but it feels like Gallagher has grown a little bit as a video maker. Not a whole lot, I mean, the man’s no Scorsese, but he doesn’t over reach. It’s a small scale story that can be handled on the cheap and doesn’t have an over reliance of effects the man has never been able to pay t have pulled of at all effectively.

The performances are uniformly bad, but you know what, they’re a damn sight better than the performances in “Gorgasm.” Gutterman makes an outstanding corpse, to be honest, rivaling Kim Basinger in tom Petty’s Last Dance with Mary Jane video. In my opinion,  the glue that holds this thing together? Ghetty Chasun as Carrie. She may not be a great actress, but she has plenty of charisma, is always game for whatever is thrown her way in the film, doesn’t mind showing off her goods and is pretty easy on the eyes, which you can’t really say about the lead in “Gore Whore”, Gallagher’s final installment in the Gore Trilogy. It’s always fun watching Ghetty Chasun on screen, whether it’s mingling with an AIDS infected necrophiliac wearing a cape or putting out her cigarette in an ashtray balanced on a naked dead guy’s chest, I just can’t keep my eyes off of her.

Desperately Seeking Ghetty. We miss you!

What the Hell ever happened to Ms. Chasun, anyway? She did a handful of flicks in the 90’s and then just kind of vanished off the face of the earth. IMDB lists her birth date, her measurements,  (36C-29-38 according to the experts) and that she’s a Capricorn. If anyone has any information as to how Ghetty’s doing or if she’d be interested in doing an interview, drop your pal The Primal Root a line, will ya?

Gorotica is a more mature and more refined offering from Gallagher (which isn’t saying much) and if you can get past the fact that there simply isn’t that much GORE in GORotica, this flick’s actually a pretty fun piece of stinky Trash Cinema. And in this Trash Cinema Connoisseur’s eyes, Gorotica is the strongest flick in the Trilogy. But, it could just be my unhealthy crush on Ms. Chasun talking…

Stay Trashy!

-Root


01
Jan
12

Rawhead Rex Wants to Skull Fuck You and I’m Okay With This.

a Primal Root written review

When I think of monsters larger than life a number of creatures come to mind. Of course, Godzilla, King Kong, Cloverfield…Hell, even Bruce from JAWS and the graboids from Tremors make appearances.  And then there’s Rawhead Rex, the red headed step-child of all giant monsters. Yeah, while Godzilla is off crushing noodle factories in Japan, Rawhead Rex is stomping around rural Ireland ripping the heads off teenage love birds and literally pissing in the faces of local priests. Now this is The Root’s kind of monster. Sure, Rawhead’s not nearly as tall as some of the other monsters on the block, but he makes up for his mere 10 or 11 foot tall stature with plenty of murderous spunk and personality. Unlike other monsters who are brought about by man’s experimenting, or are simply Mother Nature’s own killing machines, Rawhead is just a mean mother fucking demon. He’s not here for sympathy or for us to see ourselves reflected in him…no. This guy just wants to bite your face off and smear his shit on the bloody mess beneath. I doubt you will find a sicker, meaner, more sacrilegious monster in 80’s cinema. I feel it is my duty, as ambassador of the Trash Cinema Collective, to shine a light on one of the nastiest, meanest, most atrocious cinematic monsters ever brought to life, Mister Rawhead Rex.

"I feel good about me!"

Our movie takes place in a dreary farming community in Ireland where a group of men try to remove and ancient totem from one of their fields. Soon, the sky darkens, red lightening rains down and the totem falls releasing a horrifying demonic monster older than the Christian faith whose only purpose in existing is to destroy any and everything in it’s ugly path. At the same time, an American family has come to town headed by historian and writer, Howard Hollenbeck, who is traveling the countryside compiling research on pre-Christian sacred sites and is interested in the local church’s unique history and stained glass windows.  All the while, Rawhead is painting the entire countryside rd with the grue and entrails of the local villagers, twisting off heads, terrifying children, setting people on fire and tearing ladies blouses off to expose their breasts before tossing them into trees. How can Rawhead be stopped? The clues and secrets to the creatures destructon are all held within the walls of the towns ancient church. Can Hollenbeck get aid from the incompetent local authorities, deal with the psychotic Reverend Coot’s and unlock the mysteries to defeating Rawhead Rex before he destroys the town and Hollenbeck’s family?

Rawhead Rex is based of a short story by Clive Barker, the man who brought us Hellraiser and Nightbreed. not only boasting source material from Clive Barker, but a screenplay by the man as well, Rawhead Rex isn’t a very good movie. However, it is a ridiculously fun and entertaining one. The movie actually follows the original story pretty closely but is also devoid of just about all the thought provoking, serious pagan/spiritual concepts that made the story such a brilliant, philosophical read and, instead, just goes berserk and delivers a fucking crazy ass monster movie that delivers all the goods. That is, if you don’t mind a generous helping of cheese with your cinematic entree.

"Oh yeah, your lymph nodes are WAY swollen..."

The film itself is competently made and pretty well acted all around. Director, George Pavlou, does an excellent job of keeping the pace up, composing some fantastic shots and utilizes them to their best affect, and even takes some risky chances with his subject matter. Keep in mind, Rawhead Rex was released right in the midst of the British “Video Nastis” fiasco, so Pavlou had to walk a very fine line in order for his film to see the light of day. In all honesty, the violence here works rather well. It’s kind of muted in parts but it’s still gets the point across. But where Rawhead really scores points with me is that it has the brass balls to put kids in mortal danger, and even goes out of it’s way to kill a few! Yes, Rawhead  completley destroys a kid or two in his rampage. It happens just out of camera shot but with some great post production foley, the sound of these kids getting folded in half and ripped into meaty chunks drives the point home.

Now, I know everyone’s  gripe about Rawhead Rex is how shitty his costume is. You know, I love the way Rawhead looks. It’s cheesy as all hell and nearly destroy the credibility of the film, but there’s something about it I find really endearing that keeps this whole affair on a B-Movie, Drive-In level. Really, the the monster looks like a cross between a dog, a horse, and The Ultimate Warrior. He’s goofy enough to make you laugh, but strange enought that you don’t want that fucker within 1,000 yards of you.  I, for one, appreciate Rawhead’s fantastic dark sense of humor and that so much of the violence is delivered tongue in cheek. Don’t get me wrong, there are some creepy ideas at play here, a legitimate sense of dread, and a hand full of genuinely shocking scenes… but you cannot deny the film i a Hell of a lot of fun. There are moments when Rawhead runs after people where he looks like a little boy skipping and hopping after them, moments where he celebrates turning over motor homes where he begins dancing like Jennifer Beals in Flashdance, he even whips it out and pisses on a kneeling, willing, Reverand Coot’s in a kind of demonic Golden Shower baptismal cleansing, in what is possibly the film’s most notorious scene. Personally, I couldn’t stop laughing.

I can't help but wonder what Rawhead looks like with his mouth shut. Such a Chatty Kathy, that guy...

Within all this bizarre-o action, blood thirsty monster mayhem, and religious nose thumbing, is a pretty interesting story. Sure, it’s not at all what Clive Barker probably envisioned but it still manages to please as crazed, no holds barred, monster movie sporting a larger than usual set of testicles it drags through the dirt behind it. There are so many aspects of Rawhead Rex that are worth praising. I especially loved the ending conceit the Rawhead Rex can only be destroyed by that which he can never be…and finding out exactly what that means. It’s a rather poetic and lovely idea tossed into an otherwise wild, and grotesque mix. But it’s moments like these where the air is cleared of the action and horror campiness and a little bit of heart shines through.

I highly recommend Rawhead Rex as pure, unadulterated B-movie love. If you come across a copy for cheap, snatch it up as quickly as you can. As the runt of the larger than life monster litter, Rawhead is about as fun and lovable as they come and well worth bringing into your home. Even if he’s not house broken.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 




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