Posts Tagged ‘cult

30
Jul
17

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

 

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

a Primal Root written review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay Trashy!

-Root

26
Oct
16

Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) Samhain’s Darkest Horse

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created by Matt Ryan Tobin

 

“I do love a good joke and this is the best ever, a joke on the children.” – Conal Cochran, Halloween III: Season of the Witch

a Primal Root written review

If you know me int he slightest, it’s not a secret by any means, I am enormous fan and champion of the misfit third entry in the long running Halloween horror franchise began by John Carpenter and Debra Hill way back in 1978 with the original Halloween. The exploits of escaped mental patient Michael Myers aka: The Shape (Nick Castle), his considerably psychotic child therapist, Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasance), and the blossoming young virgin babysitter, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) came to a close with a fiery explosion at the end of Halloween II. Michael was engulfed in flames that were sure to turn anyone made of flesh and blood to nothing more than a hand full of ash, and CERTAINLY must have killed that goofy nutbag Dr. Loomis who flicked the Bic that blew the explosive gas ward of Haddonfield Memorial Hospital sky high…leaving Laurie Strode alone in an ambulance pondering the terribly contrived and problematic twist that Michael Myers was actually her brother all along, which totally negates the random nature of the horror in the original Halloween and reminds you that if you make sure you know your biological family tree and keep dibs on all the blood thirsty, unkillable maniacs, you can avoid this sort of predicament and spare your friends every Halloween night.

Halloween II would have been a pretty fine conclusion to the story of Haddonfield and it’s brotherly Boogerman, if the original film hadn’t had a far more suitable and deeply unnerving conclusion already, so where was the Halloween franchise to go from it’s 1981 sequel? Would John Carpenter and Debra Hill venture to make another lazy, dull, predictable story about the now totally cremated and burned to smithereens masked madman Michael Myers? Well, if you are familiar with these two remarkably creative, innovative and fearless individuals, you know that this is exactly the road they’re not going to travel. In fact, their decision would go on to become the stuff of legend. The third installment in the Halloween franchise would be a massive departure from the story of Michael Myers and would, instead, tell a brand new, original story based around the holiday of the title, Halloween. It part of an incredibly commercial and brilliant concept of Carpenter and Hill that would make the Halloween franchise a yearly canvas for an infinite number of creative minds and filmmakers to create their own, unique, one off Halloween stories that could birth any number of spinoffs, sequels, remakes, reboots and reimaginings down the road! One paper it sounds like a wonderfully viable and lucrative concept, one that would keep the franchise running strong for decades to come! Debra Hill came up with the basic concept of the story, “witchcraft meets the computer age.” The team contacted Nigel Kneal (writer of the The Quatermass series) who wrote the first draft of the screenplay of what would become Tommy Lee Wallace’s Halloween III: Season of the Witch. 

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Our film begins with the creation of a digital jack-o-lantern set the dark, ominous tones of John Carpenter and Alan Howarth’s fantastic score. Long gone is the iconic Halloween theme that immediately puts audiences on edge. Here, the score is menacing, low, and mysterious. The audience accustomed to the simple stalk and slash formula of the previous entries are clued in right off the bat that there is something different at work here. The jack-o-lantern is no longer something physical we’ve all held, touched and carved before. No, this is something alien and untouchable. As the credits conclude, the computer generated grinning jack-o-lantern begins to flash over white as an audible buzzing is heard. It’s strange, off putting and the significance of this is a totally mystery to us… for now.

The story centers on Dr. Challis (legendary cult icon, Tom Atkins), a flawed, damaged gentleman who is not by any stretch of the imagination your typical hero. This guy is divorced with two kids, a womanizer and, from what it would seem, a functional alcoholic.  At every turn the man is sexually harassing his staff (or, I guess it would just be called flirting in the early 1980’s) of knocking back beer or bourbon. Even when visiting his ex-wife she mentions, as his pager goes off to call him to the hospital, “drinking and doctoring: GREAT combination.” She hasn’t witnessed this man drinking, he just showed up smelling like booze. Yeah, this guy is our hero, ladies and gents!

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Womanizer. Drunkard. Hero.

Challis arrives at the hospital to care for a man in hysterics who is clutching a popular Silver Shamrock Halloween mask and babbling what seems to be nonsense about “They’re going to kill us! All of us!” Challis sedates the man, puts him in a room, slaps the nurses ass and goes to sleep it off in the doctor’s lounge leaving the poor old guy all alone so minutes later a silent man in a three piece suit can just wonder into his room and dismantle his skull bare handed. When Challis is woken up by the nurses cries over the patients sudden case of collapsed skull, he gives chase, but it’s too late. The silent killer has doused himself in gasoline and blown himself up in his car. Challis looks on with a face that clearly expresses and slightly hungover “What the fuck?” The audience feels his pain.

The murdered man’s daughter, Ellie (the gorgeous Stacey Nelkin) shows up to claim the body and the local authorities try to comfort her by claiming it was just a random psychopath who walked in off the streets and single handidly crunched her father’s head into bloody, flappy chunks. The next day she track Dr. Challis down early in the morning at a local bar and enlists his help to figure out just who wanted her Father dead and why. Dr. Challis, who can never say no to a free booty call, grabs a sixer of Miller High Life, calls his ex-wife to back out of his obligations and heads off the Santa Mira, home of Silver Shamrock Novelties, the town her Father was last seen headed before he became a babbling lunatic with a warrant out for his noggin.

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What Dr. Challis and Ellie uncover between swigs of bourbon and all night fuck sessions, is a vast, deadly, evil conspiracy, one that has been conjured up over hundreds of years and will bring the world to it’s knees as horrifically grotesque sacrifice is made. As the mastermind behind this horrifying plan suggests, “The World is going to change tonight.” And if this evil madman’s scheme does pull through, the world will be transformed forever…

***SPOILERS AHEAD! IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE FILM DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER!****

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Okay, so it turns out the guy who runs Silver Shamrock novelties, Conal Cochran (played with enthusiasm and cheerful menace by the late, great, Dan O’Herlihy) is a druid and a warlock with a massive army of murderous robot people. He also has stolen a block from stonehenge and is chipping off pieces of the missing block to add just a fragment of the stone into the Silver Shamrock Halloween masks along with a small computer chip. What is the importance of all this? Why is Mr. Cochran willing to murder people in order to ensure these masks are made and are the hottest Halloween masks on the market?  What is the deal with the big giveaway happening Halloween night where all the children must watch their TV’s while wearing their Silver Shamrock masks in order to win? Because it’s all part of a grand scale child sacrifice. That’s right, when the big giveaway happens, those wearing the Silver shamrock Halloween masks will be subjected to a blinking jack-o-lantern. This image in conjunction with the piece from stonehenge will end up melting the head of the child wearing  mask and produce copious amounts of roaches, spiders, and venomous snakes.

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Yes, this plan is totally fucking bonkers. Evil always works best when it’s bonkers, if you ask me. It;s so bizarre, so downright disturbing and nightmarish, it totally devastated me when I was a kid watching Halloween III: Season of the Witch for the first time. In the typical language of cinema, the kid never dies. Then you see Halloween III: Season of the Witch, you do not only get to witness a little kid get his head melted, but you watch as he, still living, chokes up rattle snakes, roaches and and tarantulas before his horrified parents eyes. I honestly watched the scene much like Dr. Challis does as he watches through a monitor in Cochran’s secret warehouse. You cannot believe what you’re seeing. It;s so dark and weird and macabre and unflinchingly grim…it then dawns on you that in matter of hours this is going to happen everywhere. In every living room all over the world. I know a lot of people bring up that THE BIG GIVEAWAY is at 9pm and that the movie didn’t account for time zones. Ugghh, I am sure the time zones are adjusted and that the filmmakers just didn’t want to make it monotonous by listing ALL THE DIFFERENT TIME ZONES all of the world.  Anyhoo, it’s a nightmare to imagine as kids die a prolonged, agonizing, supernatural death and their poor parents then get attacked by the living, nasty contents of their now melted spawns cranium. I can’t help but imagine what this little practical joke will do to the economic thrust of the holiday season. Shit. Little Buddy’s head is gone, I guess we can return that Atari to Toys R’ Us…

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Also, I must address the Ellie controversy. A lot of people wonder if she was  robot all along or not. My theory is that Ellie was a real, flesh and blood human being through the whole movie until she is captured by Cochran and used to lure Dr. Challis to the Silver Shamrock Factory. Cochran had a crude robot duplicate of her made, Dr. Challis rescues that robot,and Ellie is left to burn alive in the Silver Shamrock explosion. Yeah, my theory is dark, bleak and assumes the female lead suffers a brutal death by burning all alone in the bowels of mad toy maker’s factory, but to me that is the appeal of Halloween III: Season of the Witch. Our hero is inept, saves no one, including his own children and the world witnesses the absolute terror that Conal Cochran has unleashed upon the world. The film ends with Tom Atkins, Dr. Challis, screaming into the phone as the Silver shamrock jack-o-lantern flashes on the screen, “STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IIIIIIIITTTT!” And the credits roll. He doesn’t win. We are left to imagine the outcome of this gruesome terrorist attack. To this day, the ending of Halloween III: Season of the Witch sends chills down my spine. If you think about it, that ending could symbolize the corporate take over of America. Our youth poisoned by what they are fed day in and day out through all forms of media until their heads rot and the same nasty, mean, venomous shit comes pouring from their mouths. Fuck…could Atkins have been trying to warn us all long? Did the evil that occurred at the end of Halloween III: Season of the Witch already occur? I take a glimpse from time to time and see what comes spewing into my living room through cable television and it’s not hard to imagine that the kind of televised consumer apocalypse may have already happened.

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Halloween III: Season of the Witch is a the underdog of the entire franchise. History speaks for itself. The movie bombed horribly due to the fact it was critically panned and the fans wanted more of the same, which they got a few years later in the hideously underwhelming Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, which I do enjoy, it’s just a really, really, cheap, poorly shot, and not very entertaining or inspired movie.

To be be perfectly honest, I couldn’t stand Halloween III: Season of the Witch when I first saw it as a child. It was too dark, too mean and there was no Michael Myers!I was right there with the folks who were disappointed in the lack of familiar elements.  However, time has been very kind to Halloween III: Season of the Witch, it has grown into a sort of cult favorite among horror movie aficionados. After watching the same Michael Myers bullshit over and over and over I began to go back to Halloween III: Season of the Witch just to remind myself why I didn’t like it. Just like many of my horror brethren, I think many of us found what we initially presumed to be the film’s weaknesses to actually be this movie’s greatest strengths. Folks like myself who revel in the third installments stand alone story, bizarre gore effects, disturbing mystery, incredible fresh and creepy score, nightmarish concepts and and damn fine performances. It’s the last of the high quality, well shot and intriguing Halloween films and possibly my favorite of the entire series, including John Carpenter’s original, which I have tremendous respect for…but Halloween III: Season of the Witch is such a one of kind masterpiece of the macabre, I look forward to watching it every single Halloween season. Don’t get me wrong, I love Michael Myers and the original Halloween just fine, but like I said earlier, I always like my evil to be a bit more fucking bonkers side of things.

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created by Cavity Colors

Every October I watch as people create more and more original art based on Halloween III: Season of the Witch as it’s cult status and admiration grows. I’m not going to lie, it brings a salty tear to this Trash Cinema fans eye every year as I watch what was once the laughing stock and whipping boy of the Halloween franchise become more and more the stand out and most beguiling dark corner of the whole series.

I award Halloween III: Season of the Witch 5 out of 5 Dumpster Nuggets.

 

 

28
Jul
16

Nothing But Trouble: A Trash Cinema Dog Days of Summer Event!

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WHO: The Trash Cinema Collective
WHAT: A screening of the 1991 cult flick, Nothing but Trouble!
WHEN: Saturday August 6th at 9pm (EST)
WHERE: Bird’s Aphrodisiac Oyster Shack
WHY: Because it’s about time.

As always, NO COVER!

Hey Gang, The Primal Root here, and I am happy to be inviting you out to our August 6th Trash Cinema Night featuring the strangest of early 90’s cinematic oddities, the Chevy Chase Texas Chainsaw Massacre hybrid as well as Dan Aykroyd’s directorial debut, 1991’s Nothing but Trouble! A film that bombed horrendously upon theatrical release only to gain a rabid cult fanbase later on home video.

Nothing But Trouble is a classic tale of New York yuppies driving through rural America where they come across some backwoods locals who want to skin them alive. Only this time around, they are the local law. After running a stop sign, Chris Thorne (Chevy Chase) Diane (Demi Moore), and their driving buddies end up under arrest and must stand trial in the court/home of the decrepit, blood thirsty Judge Alvin ‘J.P.’ Valkenheiser. As the prisoners soon find out, J.P.’s mansion.prison is filled with secret passages, booby traps and other odd/horrifying contraptions. Chris and Diane must out wit the deranged family in order to survive the night and get home alive!

Be prepared for cock noses! Unskinned sausages! John Candy in drag! Pu Collars! Giant mutant babies in diapers! Awesome roller coaster style death traps! A performance by the legendary Digital Underground! A spectacular cameo by the late Tupac Shakur! And a deep wave of nostalgia for the early 90’s and a time when a once promising career for the then thriving Dan Aykroyd suddenly began to fall to pieces.

That’s right! It’s Nothing but Trouble! A strange blend of backwoods horror, comedy, and awkward social interaction! So come on out, grab a pitcher of your favorite ice cold adult beverage, sink your teeth into the BEST damn burger in town, and let’s check out a forgotten nugget of pure Trash Cinema gold! I’ll see you there, Gang!

Stay Trashy!
-Root

11
May
16

Basket Case & Brain Damage: A Deep Cult at The Junction Double Feature!

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WHO: The Trash Cinema Collective
WHAT: A Double Feature screening of Basket Case (film) and Brain Damage!
WHEN: Monday May 23rd at 7:30pm
WHERE: The Junction at Monroe
WHY: Because you need a slice of sleaze to start your week.
 
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Hey Gang, The Primal Root here, inviting YOU to start your week out on the trashiest note possible as we celebrate the work of grindhouse prodigy and life long purveyor of fine cinematic filth, Mr. Frank Henenlotter with a double feature of Basket Case followed by Brain Damage!
 
Basket Case (1982): What is the secret Duane has hiding in his basket? As young Duane visits New York City and it’s sleaziest dives, whatever lurks within his locked basket is maiming, molesting, and murdering people throughout the inner city. What is the secret behind this bloody rampage of horror splattering the darkest corners of the city in blood and entrails? Come out to our special screening of Basket Case and find out…If you dare.
 
Brain Damage (1988): One morning, Brian, a young mn living with his brother wakes up to find a talking, singing, disgusting parasite has attached itself to his brain stem. Through Brian’s brain stem, this parasite who goes by the name Aylmer, puts Brian in a euphoric state of happiness…but as we all know, such bliss often comes at a terrifyingly high price. Find out just how that cost is in Frank Henenlotter’s Brain Damage, the Requiem for a Dream of Trash Cinema…
 
So, come on out and join us for Trash Cinema Night’s Deep Cult at The Junction for a double feature of grotesque creativity, gnarly violence and deeply dark humor! Get some delicious booze to share and prepare for an evening;s filth like none other!
 
See you there, Gang!
Stay Trash!
-Root
11
Feb
16

(NSFW) Exotic Zombie: Valentine’s Day Devil Girl of the Month (2016)

Hey Gang, The Primal Root here, and my filthy little heart is beating much faster than usual. Why you ask? Well, this Valentine’s Day one of my all time favorite slices of cinematic sleaze, Frankenhooker,  has been brought to life by of gorgeous and talented February Devil Girl of the Month, Exotic Zombie! A friend near and dear to your’s truly, I am thrilled beyond measure to be premiering her astounding Frankenhooker themed Devil Girl spread for you to fall in love with this Valentine’s Day. Get ready to lose your black hearts, Collective, as you feast your eyes on Exotic Zombies teeth sweatingly sexy spread!

The Primal Root: Good day, Exotic Zombie! It is quite the pleasure having the honor to feature your seductive self as our February Devil Girl of the Month. Let me just get this out of the way, I’ve always had a fantasy about being one of Frankenhooker’s Johns, so your spread has a deep *AHEM* sentimental value from the very get-go.

Might I ask what made you decide to use Frank Henenlotter’s ultimate tale of sluts and bolts as inspiration for your inaugural Devil Girl spread?

Exotic Zombie: I’ve always wanted to be a hooker!!! But really, it was just an excuse to get naked. wink emoticon

Root: Exotic Zombie, could you please tell us a little about yourself? Your passions, what inspires you? How do you keep it Trashy?

EZ: I am a recent gang member of the Trash Cinema crew. We all share the same filthy minds and admiration for exploding hookers. As a photographer, I get inspired by what others are passionate about. Whether it’s hot sexy movies, drugs and sex, or sex in general… just know that I prefer estrogen based elixir with my whiskey.

Root: You pull off Patty Mullen’s patented Frankenhooker face incredibly well. How long did it take you to master this particular talent?

EZ: Science. The way that the brain makes muscles contract is that there are individual little nerves that send their axon out into a muscle and they release a neurochemical, called acetylcholine. But really it took day after day standing in front of a mirror and taking selfies.

Root: Would you be game for starring in an unofficial Frankenhooker sequel? What would need to occur in this sequel in order for you to come on board?

EZ: I’m always lookin’ for some action! As long as there are pretzels to munch on and super crack for my addiction.

Root: What is that toy you brought into the bedroom with you and is this a frequent companion?

EZ: In the fetish community, this toy is known as a violet wand. There are different extensions and attachments that creates different shocking sensations. My personal favorite is the bulb used in the set. I would literally fry myself if I used it as much as I’d like to.

Root: As I am sure everyone knows, the most quintessential of all Hallmark Holidays, Valentine’s Day, is right around the corner. What are some of your favorite Trashy Anti-Valentine’s Day flicks you like to bust out on February 14th?

EZ: As I stated previously, I have only discovered the glory of trash film recently and I may already be slightly creepily obsessed and infatuated with this particular genius love story, Frankenhooker. To the point where I’ve already stalked the amazing Patty Mullen on facebook.

Root: What song would you pick to accompany your Devil Girl spread?

EZ: I’d have to go with something in relation to the theme, deftones, Change (in the house of flies)

Root: Do you have any filthy words of wisdom for the Trash Cinema Collective hoping to be as fucking awesome as yourself one day?

EZ: Never stand in front of lawn mowers. 😉

Photography by The Primal Root and Jeremy King 

Make-Up Effects: Shana Leigh 

16
Mar
15

Ramonah; March Devil Girl of the Month 2015

Hey Gang, The Primal Root here presenting you with a Trashy St. Paddy’s Day treat from long time friend and collaborator here at The Trash Cinema Collective, Devil Girl of the Month, Ramonah. Her Boondock Saints inspired spread delivers a four leaf clover of badass along with a big pot of sexy at the end of your Trashy Rainbow! Check out the gorgeous and lethal Ramonah’s set and be sure to let her know what you think! Stay Trashy! -Root

Perry G: Welcome back, what have you been up to since last we spoke. How the hell are ya?
Ramonah: Living life, having fun. Making stuff, breaking stuff. I got this adorable pink-toe tarantula. I am feeling pretty fantastic.

PG: Tell us, what inspired this latest set?
Ramonah: The Boondock Saints films have always been close to my heart, and Connor and Murphy are sexy badasses. I thought it would be fun to give the image of the Saints a feminine twist. Turns out, that’s pretty sexy, too.

PG: How will you celebrate this St. Patties Day?
Ramonah: The same way I always celebrate it: with The Boondock Saints and booze! I’m going to throw those two films on back-to-back and drink some gin-based deliciousness. What’s that? Tuesday? What are you— No, it’s St. Patrick’s Day. What do you mean, “Tuesday”? Pfft.

PG:  What tunes should we listen to while viewing this set?
Ramonah: “Jingle Bells”. Wait, no! “The Saints are Coming.” Duh. 😉

Youtube:

Photography by Perry Gilbert

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01
Oct
14

Ravenous (1999)

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a Rebecca Keel review

I had the pleasure of seeing ‘Ravenous’ for the first time recently.  This 1999 slow-burn horror film starring Guy Pearce,  Robert Carlyle,  and David Arquette surprised me in a lot of ways.  I didn’t know much about the film when I sat down to watch it;  I’d seen it recommended here and there on the Internet,  and I had a vague idea that it was about cannibalism,  but beyond that,  the whole thing was an impressive surprise.  The general consensus seems to be that it’s never gotten the attention it deserves,  and while I definitely agree with that,  it seems like its own quirkiness has been instrumental in keeping it a well-kept secret from the mainstream horror scene.

Cinematically,  ‘Ravenous’ represents the collision of several elements which don’t typically walk around holding hands.  Its pacing,  character development style,  and quite a lot of its cinematographic choices feel more like a classic Western than a modern horror film,  and apparently I was far from the first to make this connection (Jacob Knight over at nerdbastards.com highlights the role of elements from the Western genre as being fundamental to the film:  http://nerdbastards.com/2014/06/03/retro-review-ravenous-is-an-even-better-western-than-it-is-a-horror-film/ ).  It’s also filmed in a retrospective style that often makes it easy to forget that it came out the same year as ‘The Matrix’.  This combination of Western genre film construction and old-fashioned filming style successfully tricked my brain into repeatedly thinking I was watching a film much older than this one actually is.  Meanwhile,  the gore and makeup effects have an offhand realism that reminds me of sweeping,  dramatic war films. The kind of horror story it presents is in tune with the film’s style:  it’s constructed with fairly limited plot twists and instead of relying on cheap startle techniques,  it tells a thoughtful tale which stayed with me long after I watched it,  enticing my mind to play with the sharp edges of its implications.

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The film’s setting was quite unusual as well.  The Mexican-American War,  which went down during the mid-1800s before the outbreak of the American Civil War,  is far from a typical time period setting for any genre of film,  and it seems even more bizarre as the backdrop for a horror flick.  Yet the film’s writer,  Ted Griffin,  and its director,  Antonia Bird,  made good use of the features of the setting to generate genuine feelings of isolation and desperation which sometimes feel forced in horror films set in the Information Age.  Utilizing Native American culture and legends gave the story an air of authenticity that was hard to dispel and made for convincing storytelling of a caliber I typically only associate with a few horror novelists (such as Dan Simmons,  whose historical-fiction horror is some of the best in the field).

Yet it’s easy to see how fans of mainstream horror could lose interest in an artistic film like ‘Ravenous’.  The film’s  score is at times grating,  though the effect seems intentional and helps drive home the events playing out on-screen,  while at other times idyllic background music which seems like it would be more at home in ‘Little House on the Prairie’ has a jarring effect when taken alongside the foreshadowed events and the horrors that have already taken place.  Such decisions can alienate viewers who prefer and expect a more conventional film score,  though this technique is increasing in popularity (or at least acceptance) among mainstream viewers.  The pacing of the plot’s revelations requires patience fans of films like ‘Saw’ and ‘The Grudge’ aren’t always willing to grant a film,  and the lack of monster makeup might make it hard for some to swallow a film that is,  frankly,  set up to be a type monster movie.  But for fans of old-fashioned horror,  ‘Ravenous’ has a lot to offer.  Many elements of the film would feel at home in a story by Lovecraft,  Matheson,  or Poe.  And the film’s unabashed frankness and realism in the face of the supernatural leaves me hovering in that delicate space between belief and disbelief which is the hardest form of terror to shake off.




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