Posts Tagged ‘cigarettes

24
Aug
12

Wicked Stepmother: Low Rent Surrealism

a Primal Root written review

I’ve never seen a movie like it. That’s probably the most accurate critique I can give Larry Cohen’s jaw-droppingly bizarre and nonsensical 1989 supernatural comedy opus, ‘Wicked Stepmother’.  A forgotten oddity of the VHS era,  probably best known for containing Hollywood empress Bette Davis in her final screen performance, ‘Wicked Stepmother’ has got to be some kind of hallucinatory cinematic comedy milestone. Who knows if Cohen & co intended this movie to be such a rapid-fire array of awkward moments, dumbfounding performances and cheesy effects. All I know is that it all comes together as an if not totally enjoyable film, certainly an outlandishly botched witch’s brew movie delight. One thing that may be said with total confidence for ‘Wicked Stepmother’, you will never, EVER see another like it.

This fiasco begins with a police investigation led by TV’s Tom Bosley who you may remember from ‘Happy Days’ (RIP) or if your grandparents were fans of the ‘Father Dowling Mysteries’.  His mission? To locate an evil witch with a penchant for marrying her way into families and using her powers to make them unimaginably wealthy before robbing them blind, shrinking them to the size of plastic army men, and stashing them in shoe boxes under the bed.  It sure seems like a waste of time for a witch of such immense power. There’s just gotta be a more effective way to maintain a steady cash flow.

The witch in question is Miranda Pierpoint, played by the legendary Bette Davis (RIP) putting forth a stiff monotone and (we can only assume) unintentionally  disturbing performance. Miranda has just gotten hitched to an elderly widower, Sam  (played by the late, great character actor Lionel Stander with that unmistakably gravely voice). In one of my favorite sight gags of the movie, we see images of Sam’s first wife on his night stand.  Low and behold, it is Joan Crawford,  Bette Davis’ long time rival.

The new marriage comes as a shock to his adult daughter, hyper-allergenic and moderate psychopath, Jenny (Colleen Camp, who should win some kind of lifetime achievement award for this one, single cringe-inducingly campy performance).  Her husband Steve (David ‘I’ve gotta’ Rasche, desperately try to keep up with Colleen’s camp) though surprised by the sudden change in homestead seems to be taking things well, and attempts to mediate between his wife’s control freakery and his new chimney stack of a mother-in-law.  Their son Mike (Shawn Donahue, who would play his final role the next year in 1990’s immortal classic, ‘The Willies’) is appropriately willful and mainly just refuses to refer to the new addition ‘grandma’.

To Jenny’s fury, Miranda smokes more than the entire cast of Mad Men, combined, in the families’ WASPy digs. She also cooks, eats, and tempts the family with nothing but grilled meats despite Jenny’s insistence in that everyone bow to the nutritional excellence of her broccoli souffle. Although Steve is clearly inclined to give into Miranda’s politically-incorrect ways, Jenny throws her hubby one of her well-practiced psycho glares and puts the guy back in his place. He hunches over the dining room table to choke down his helping of lettuce and oatmeal while thinking about his genitals and how nice a home Jenny’s made for them in her handbag. Miranda also has a cat which unlocks an avalanche of comedic potential as Jenny is…get this…ALLERGIC to cats!  So she spends much of the movie sneezing at inopportune moments and standing around sniffling and delivering her lines with her stuffed up, mongoloid voice. Really. It is a laugh riot. Yeah.

However, my favorite scene in this mayhem shows up early as young Michael is at a beach, unchaperoned, watching some coeds in bikinis bounce & bop around via a game of volleyball.  Earlier, Michael has told Melinda he’d never call her “Grandma”, that she can, basically, burn in hell, then proved himself the deeply cool thug he is by popping the collar on his jean jacket and walking away. Apparently he was strutting his way to the beach where his requests to join in the volleyball game were denied.  However, as luck would have it, the lovely young witch Priscilla (played byTia Carrera’s sister, Barbara! SHWING!) shows up, complete with beflowered sun hat and black veil and winks at Michael, which apparently bestowed upon him with the power to do front flips over the volleyball net. For what purpose? Who knows. It impresses no one in the game and even seems to piss off the more hyper-hormonal boys of the pack. And yet, poor little 12 year old Michael has caught the eye & libido of a twenty something beach bunny. Unfortunately, as often happens at movie beaches,  two buff, blonde dickweeds start kicking sand in Michael’s face while he’s chatting up his new dish.  Again, the young lad is in luck as Priscilla gives him yet another power of Filipino Flip fighting through which Michael hops around cracking bimbo dude skulls.  All of this results in a scene of total prepubescent wish fulfillment, the busty beach bunny takes off her modest shirt to reveal her ample cleavage and offers herself up to the young man with the unmistakable innuendo, “Come here, I’m gonna show you something…” A goofy grin spreads across Michael’s mug as she leads him off to rock the freckles off his face.

The kind of Wicked Stepmother all young boys dream of.

It was around this moment I began to wonder just who was the projected market for this film? It’s a wicked stepmother, fairy tale kiddie charm, sure, but the focus is primarily on adult relationships. In fact, Michael is led off to be statutorily raped, and that’s pretty the last we see of the kid with the exception of him showing up for group shots  lasting mere seconds in the final scene. This thing’s obviously not quite for youngins… but the humor is on a pretty even keel for adolescents despite it meandering between adult issues (i.e. marriage difficulties & geriatric homicide) and it’s unchecked childish hokeyness.  99.9 % of the films run time is spent dealing with figuring out how to murder an elderly woman and a married man fantasizing about/having adulterous sex with Tia Carrere’s sister while a writhing cat tail wags around out of her pooper, growing vines in the yard against an painfully-obvious blue screen under the guise of “decorating for the holidays”, answering trivia questions on game shows, and figuring out a way to write Bette Davis out of the movie since she walked off set about two days into production.  The leave was publicly attributed to her disgust with the script, though it was later stated that the true cause was her deteriorating health.

How do they write her out, you ask? Remember Priscilla? Well, she and Miranda apparently share the body of a black cat. But, see, both spirits can’t cohabit in one body at the same time. “There’s no room for two people in one cat!” a witch academy instructor exclaims revealing this terrible piece of plotting. So,  after Miranda’s 11 minutes or so of screen time are up, she vanishes to be replaced by Priscilla.  Don’t fret, gang, the cat Miranda inhabits also smokes as much as she did, so it’s like she never left! In fact, one of the most bizarre moments of the entire film are cutaways to a black cat hand puppet paws holding cigarettes up to it’s little feline mouth and puffing away, it’s unnaturally large, bugged out yellow eyes and dilated pupils nervously darting around in their sockets.

Eventually the detective character shows back up at a clandestine witch class where Jenny also happens to be attending so she can look for answers as to how to get rid of Miranda/Priscilla for good. Priscilla learns a couple words in Latin and is ready to take on Priscilla in head to head in the ultimate blue screen combat! It’s a breathtaking sequence that pulls no punches in the bargain basement action and effects arena.   Will Jenny be able to banish the money hungry witches from her home? Or will her family end up pint-sized, broke, and shoe-boxed? To be honest, I was too busy laughing my ass off to care.

The bottom line is that ‘Wicked Stepmother’ is one of those films that must be seen to be truly understood. It’s terrible. I mean, this thing is bad. This sucker is Samurai Cop, Troll 2 level bad. But it is still ridiculously entertaining. The intended jokes all fall flat on their faces, but it is totally made up for with unintentional hilarity. It’s like some kind of surrealist fever dream that just keeps getting more absurd and illogical as it progresses. None of it makes a lick of sense and there are an abundance of moments that will leave you wondering if you just actually witnessed what you did.  Better Davis’ performance alone make up for the absurdity of the opening portion of the film.  She is never without a cigarette in her hand and recites her dialog in the emotionless drawl of a late 60’s TV robot.  Once Bette departs the film, the hammy acting, and cheese ball effects really become the stars of the show and lift this sucker up onto another plateau of Trash Cinema altogether.

I may have said too much already. I don’t want to spoil this sucker for you. But when I look back lovingly upon ‘Wicked Stepmother’,  no words can really do this acid trip of a film justice.  I’m not sure if exactly if it’s my strong palette for trash that allowed me to enjoy this thing or if it can be experienced by others and be loved just as thoroughly. I was not expecting myself to end up with the affection I now have for this piece of wack-o film making. Please, if you haven’t seen it, do so. And if you have, please, share your thoughts with us here at The Trash Cinema Collective.  Again, in the annals of cinema, there is nothing like ‘Wicked Stepmother’.

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





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