Posts Tagged ‘censorship

31
Oct
13

Root’s Top 5 Tales from the Crypt

Tales

The Primal Root’s Dirty Thoughts

Greetings, Creeps! It’s your ol’ pal The Primal Root here, getting into the groove of another Halloween season. Recently Ms. Bootsie Kidd and I sat down to enjoy a marathon of the entire series run of HBO’s original series “Tales from the Crypt” based on the old and incredibly popular 1940-1950’s horror comic book series of the same name. The comics featured gruesome morality plays where evil doers always ended up of the gory end of karma’s comeuppance. The comic book series, including such title as “Tales from the Crypt” “The Vault of Horror,” “The Haunt of Fear,” “Two Fisted Tales” and “Sock SuspenStories” were censored into oblivion by the Comic book Code, which blamed the aforementioned comics as the prime contributors to our nation’s juvenile delinquency problem,  were all resurrected in the late 1980’s as an HBO series entitled “Tales from the Crypt”, which  adapted stories from every horror/action/thriller comic at some point or another. The impact of these comic books left a huge impression on the the talents who came together to breath new life and pay tribute to these once thriving graphic novels.  Filmmakers such as Robert Zemeckis, Richard Donner, Tom Holland, Mary Lambert, and countless others all were dying to take a stab at their favorite stories and turn them in twenty five minute long short films.  The show didn’t always knock it out of the park, but when it did, it was glorious. and, Hell, even their weakest episodes proved to be interesting, at the very list.

What I did find myself doing, however, was constantly saying “Oh, this is a great!” or “This is one of my favorites!” just about every other episode. That’s when I decided I really needed to sit down, do some soul searching and make a list of my Top Five Favorite Tales from the Crypt. It was a tough process whittling it down to only five, but I must admit, I was chomping at the bit to see which ones would make the CUT!  So, without any further a due, let’s see which Terror Tales made the final CUT!  AAARRRGGHHHAHAHAHAHAHAhahahahaha…

5) “People Who Live in Brass Hearses” dir. Russell Mulcahy (Season 5, Episode 5)

Who knew the ice cream truck industry was this depraved? Bill Paxtion plays a scumbag ex-con Billy DeLuca, who enlists the help of his emotionally stunted younger brother Virgil (Brad Douriff) to pull of a heist that will even the score with ice cream truck driver and excellent puppeteer,  Mr. Byrd (Michael Lerner) and Billy’s old boss  Mrs. Grafungar (Lainie Kazan) after they sent Billy to prison for stealing from the till.  When everything goes wrong  and their heist ends up in a blood bath leaving the brother’s with nothing, they must turn to desperate measures in order to get the money Billy feels he so richly deserves.  But, as per usual with the Tales from the Crypt formula, nothing is as it seems, and this sick puppy has a twist ending that comes somewhere out of left field and pegs you right in the gob.  This is among the strangest episodes of Tales from the Crypt in my book and the fact that it features such an excellent all-star cast makes it every bit stranger. Once our players are established the tale hits an insane pace that feels almost like an action story, but then the meat hooks start being gouged into people’s skulls and folks begin having their skulls chunked all over the dining room from well placed shotgun blasts. Trust me, even with all these gory goodies, the episode still manages to whack you over the head with it’s sleazy, disgusting and inspired conclusion. You’ll laugh in disbelief as soon as you pick your jaw up off the floor.

4) “Four-Sided Triangle” dir. Tom Holland (Season 2, Episode 9)

I’ve always been an admirer of down home horrors and “Four-Sided Triangle” is one fine example of horrific wages of dysfunctional rednecks. This episode is a small, intimate one featuring three players on a isolated farm. Old married couple, the limping, strict, and stern Luisa (Susan Blommaert), her lecherous, scheming and alarmingly horny husband George (Chelcie Ross),  and their young, voluptuous, sexy as Hell captive farm worker, Mary Jo, (Patricia Arquette). As you might expect, the story revolves around George trying to get his monkey tail down Mary Jo’s sweaty bloomers. In fact, the very first scene features George’s wide eyes peering into the chicken coup as Mary Jo bends over and writhes around as she sexily, yet innocently, collects eggs for her white trash captors all while displaying her ample bra-less bosom in a tiny tank top and her robust booty in a pair of well worn, skin tight pair of LEVI’S.  After a failed rape attempt in which Mary Jo gets the living snot beat out of her by George, she stumbles into the corn field where she hallucinates that a scarecrow reaches down to help her. Her brain must be batter, because she becomes obsessed with the scarecrow and declares loudly and frequently how much she loves him while singing songs about how she doesn’t care about chicken pot pie.  Anyhoo, Luisa is on to George’s lustful yearnings for Mary Jo, even going as far as to threaten him with performing the same procedure on him that they do when they want to change a bull into a steer.  As we all know, these threats typically fall on deaf ears when it comes to horny rednecks and “Four-Sided Triangle” culminates in a  conclusion that is both bloody and inescapable.  We can see where the story is headed but the tale is so well directed, staged and acted, you feel every bit of suspense and horror and the doomed “Four-Sided Triangle of the title meet their doom. This was among the first Tales from the Crypt episodes I ever saw and it made a lasting impression on me. And introduced me to Patricia Arquette, for which I am eternally grateful.

 

3) “What’s Cookin’ ” dir. Gilbert Adler (Season 4, Episode 6)  

One of the smartest, sickest, most wonderfully depraved episodes of Tales from the Crypt, “What’s Cookin” features a great comic turn from Superman himself, Christopher Reeve, as a struggling restaurant owner named Fred. See, his restaurant specializes in one thing and one thing only… Squid. Yes, squid. As you might expect, the restaurant he runs along with his wife Erma (Bess Armstrong, from My So-Called Life) is way overdue on their rent and hasn’t seen a customer in weeks, well, with the exception of officer Phil (Art LaFleur) who drops by for coffee from time to time. Their busboy, shady drifter, Gaston (Judd Nelson) keeps prodding Fred to try out his family’s classic barbecue recipe, but Fred won;t stand for it. The man’s got a dream and refuses to give up on it. That dream nearly ends when Chumley (played in a bit of truly inspired casting by Meatloaf), the landlord, shows up and evicts Ed for being over two months late on rent. The following morning, as Fred and Erma begin to shut down, Officer Phil comes in for coffee and eggs. To Erma’s astonishment, there are a half dozen fresh steaks in the fridge than Gaston brought in from his own, private supplier. Erma cooks this up for Phil, and just as he takes his first bit Gaston reveals to Fred just who is supplying the steaks. Yep, there in the meat freezer, to Fred’s dismay, hangs the corpse of Chumley. Soon, Fred and Erma’s Steakhouse is an overnight sensation with everyone in the city stopping by for a bite of their delicious, hand cut steaks. Only problem is, the police investigation into Chumley’s death is paving a pth right to Fred and Erma’s restaurant and as Fred’s feet get colder and colder Gaston begins plotting a double cross. “What’s Cookin'” is one very macabre and gruesome episode with a wicked streak of dark comedy. The performances are great and the final twist in the end, in typical Tales from the Crypt fashion, will leave you just as satisfied as one of Fred and Erma’s steaks. Is it wrong that this episode always makes me hungry?

 

2) Showdown dir. Richard Donner (Season 4 Episode 8)

Originally created as part of a three piece pilot for a rejected pitch to FOX for a “Two-Fisted Tales” spin off series, “Showdown” spins the tale of Billy Quintaine (Neil Giuntoli), a hardened, remorseless, legendary gunslinger who is cornered in a small desert town by an equally notable Texas Ranger Tom McMurdo (David Morse). After a facing off in a shoot out in which Billy murders Tom, he enters a nearby saloon for a drink, and after ingesting some snake oil from a traveling salesman, realizes he might not be as victories as it might seem. Showdown is one of the most poetic and beautiful episodes of Tales from the Crypt and manages to pack in a plethora of themes including the inevitable outcome and price of violence, the inevitability of death and our current irreverence for our own bloody past and re-marketing it as family friendly, tourist bullshit. Character actor Neil Giuntoli gives a hauntingly human performance as gunslinger Billy Quintaine, as he becomes slowly and painfully aware of his own fate we watch this cynical, callous, man breakdown before our very eyes reminding us that the most despicable  character is, at the end of the day, also a human being. “Showdown” is frightening in it’s implications on a far deeper level than it’s Tales from the Crypt brethren and deals with life and death on a far more thought provoking and meaningful level than the typical epsiode. All that said, “Showdown” ends on a moving, up lifting note leaving us with the hope that when we shed this mortal coil, when all these pretenses are dropped, perhaps we can all finally ride off into the sunset as brothers.

1) “Death of Some Salesman” dir. Gilbert Asler (Season 5, Episode 1)

Good God, this episode is revolting. It’s a buffet of loathsomeness where, as a viewer, you ill wonder if you should laugh, cringe, or go for the barf bag. “Death of Some Salesman” is the story of Judd Campbell (Ed Begley Jr.), a charismatic, sleazeball con-man posing as a cemetery plot salesman. The man is a gifted liar, using his skills to con old widows out of their inheritance and even to convince  nubile young waitresses to “drop their panties” by pitching love and escape. The man is a scum bag that you know will be paying for his trespass and the man get’s his rotten just desserts in the form of The Brackett family. By blind luck, Judd ends up knocking on the door of Ma and Pa Brackett (Both played by Tim Curry). Judd’s invited in and the sale seems to be going incredibly well as Pa and Ma Brackett head down to the basement to get Judd the money for two none existant cemetery plots. That is, until Judd discovers the decaying corpses of several dozen salesmen who previous had the misfortune of knocking on the Brackett’s door. Judd is captured with Pa Brackett intent on killing him, but Judd sees a way out if he can only convince Winona Brackett (also played by Tim Curry), Ma and Pa Brackett’s comically hideous daughter that he loves her. This is the pitch of Judd’s life as he must chock down the bile and try to convince the skeptical Winona that he does, in fact, love her. the lengths of which Judd must prove is unwavering devotion is extrodinarily and will have you groaning and laughing on your couch. Tim curry gives the performance for the ages as The Brackett family, managing to blend mirth and menace in equal amounts. And the always game Ed Begley Junior should have received the medal of valor for this things.  “Death of Some Salesman” encompasses everything I love about the old E.C. Comics horror anthologies.  Sick humor, nasty violence, a damn fine twist ending, and a fantastic morality tale. Curry and Begley Jr. who are performing what is basically a two man show, give such phenomenal performances it practically MAKES the episode.  It’s a stomach churning, hysterical tale which taught me at a young age that deceivers and liars will invariably find themselves in a world of hurt.

Well, kiddies, there you have it! My Five Favorite Tales from the Crypt! A mixed bag, but a damn good time, if I do say so myself.   Feel free to let us, here at The Trash Cinema Collective, know what your favorite episodes are! Have a Trashy Halloween!

-Root

11
Mar
11

‘The Dirty Mind of Young Sally’: Heating up the Airwaves

I think I see something subliminal in this poster...

a Primal Root written review

Sexploitation, one of the many sub-genres of exploitation, is a bit of an acquired taste. Seeing as I am huge fan of sex  and also happen to be a perverted deviant in general, you could say, I have a natural capacity for the subject matter. Sexploitation is the term used to categorize independently produced hardcore and softcore (non-explicit material) flicks exhibited in adult “grindhouse” theaters.  And then there are the sub-genres within sexploitation like roughies, nudie cuties, etc. Trust me, we could be here all day talking about all the different types of sexploitation flicks made in the span of time it took the 60’s to reach the early 70’s when advertising bans complicated matters a bit too much.

Still, movies of such high caliber entrainment were being produced well into the 90’s and were available at your local video store and late night on many premium cable channels. 😀 Trust me, that shit got me through my teenage years.

Moving on, I recently came across and old, dusty, VHS copy of the 1970 sexploitation picture, ‘The Dirty Mind of Young Sally’, while organizing the shelves at Video 21 (When in Tallahassee, be sure to visit us!). right on the cover it has the illustrated image of a woman fondling a radio mic as if it were an engorged wang-doodle she’s about to show her uvula off to. Proving, not only does young Sally have a dirty mind, the target audience has one as well.

The plot is simple enough, it centers on Dirty Sally (Colleen Brennan billed as Sharon Kelly) a buxom, cute, fiery red head who  has a remarkably popular pirate radio show she happens to run out of her van. She travels cross country continually broadcasting “music to ball to”, giving sex advice, and masturbating on the air. Her listeners cannot help but have beach orgies, get naked at bars while beatniks mess around on the bongos, and even lose their virginity in the back of horrifically uncomfortable looking dune buggies under the cover of night after suggestively telling your boyfriend you are going to take a piss in the woods.

Young Sally does her thing and not yours!

Sally is constantly being chased by the authorities who desperately want to get her sinful, evil, filthy sex talk off the air! There are teenagers all over the country getting it on! They’re making out and going down on one another! This obviously MUST be stopped. There certainly aren’t any other more important crimes to attend to in the U.S. of A. Sally is able to avoid the cops with the help of her technician, driver, part-time lover and full time goofball, Toby (The man, the myth, the legend, George ‘Buck’ Flower).

It’s a pretty basic scenario. Law enforcement officials are made to look like bumbling fools, Sally is an intelligent, sexually open, independent woman that I find far cooler and hip than any of the broads on ‘Sex and the City.’ And the teenagers are as dumb and horny as ever. I think there may be a kernel of a message to be found in this plot about the importance of free speech and the freedom of expression and how we can damn do what we want to with whomever we want as long as no one is getting hurt. I mean, it’s right there. All they had to do was write a speech for Sally…but I guess it was more important to show blonds getting it on with pasty, bearded, balding men on the beach.

I sat watching ‘The Dirty Mind of Young Sally’ and as these relatively dull sex scenes went on for 10-15 minute stretches my mind began to wonder. Why in the world do none of these guys have hardons? It makes no sense to me. These guys have naked women all over them, grinding their lady bits into their faces, playing around with their love caulker and it just sags there like a wet noodle.  It’s not just in this film, I’ve become keenly aware of this phenomenon in other Harry Novak pictures. How in the world are they able to stay flaccid? I have a feeling with most of us guys, if we were put in this situation, you’d have to duck tape our fella down if you didn’t want it stealing the show.

Another thing, where are all these spontaneous group orgies? Do these things only happen when I’m not there? When I go to a party and everyone is drinking, having a good time, and some of there’s even some there I’d love to hook up with, do they wait for me to leave before everyone hops in an inflatable pool and start slinging genitals as if it were Armageddon time. Then again, I always fear afterward I will feel empty inside. But then I also fear DURING the orgy I might NOT be empty inside…so there are a lot of things to consider before squirting on the lube and hoping on top of the pile.

Can the mic pick up that she's rubbing her boobs together? (Colleen Brennan as Sharon Kelly as Young Sally.)

Anyway, The Dirty Mind of Young Sally is an easy, light weight, bit of none-intrusive social commentary chock full of naked breasts and unaroused members. The glue that holds the whole flick together is  Colleen Brennan as the adorable and sexy lead character, Sally. Colleen has a very natural way about her. Almost a girl next door sort of sexiness. She doesn’t have much more to do in the film besides talk dirty, smile and get naked, but she does it such charisma and openness one cannot help but be enchanted. This was actually the first in a remarkably long career in exploitation cinema. She would appear in such classics as Foxy Brown,  Supervixens and Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS but towards the end of her career she began doing more hardcore, pornographic films like Taboo III, Trinity Brown and Hot Blooded. She would leave the film scene for good in 1990 with just over 100 flicks to her credit. According to IMDB, she know runs her own sex hotline business.

The Dirty Mind of Young Sally is certainly dated but it is still a fun watch.  However, there are some dry, spells here and there and some of the cop comedy tries way too hard. But when it works, it does so well. Thanks to the eye catching talent of Ms. Colleen Brennan. Can someone find Colleen and book her for a convention appearance? I would love to meet her in person.

The Dirty Mind of Young Sally is available on DVD from something Weird Video on a double bill with another Colleen Brennan Classic, Teenage Bride.

Stay Trashy,

-The Primal Root

15
Dec
10

Hard Rock Zombies: Night of the Creeping Sex Offender

a Primal Root review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay Trashy!

-The Primal Root




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