Posts Tagged ‘date

21
Nov
15

The Funhouse (1981): The Reality of Horror

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a Primal Root written review

“Who will dare to face the challenge of the Funhouse? Who is mad enough to enter that world of darkness? How about you, sir…?” -Funhouse Barker, The Funhouse (1981)

 

Who doesn’t love a night amongst the neon lights, swirling machinery, salt of the earth carnies and deep fried delicacies of the fair? As The Primal Root and lifetime admirer of all things filthy, the North Florida Fair is a true thing of beauty. The aroma of artery clogging treats like cotton candy, loaded cheese fries, funnel cakes and deep fried Oreos co mingle with the unmistakable stench of fresh vomit, Carny B.O. and still warm shit straight from the occupants of the livestock pavilions assholes. It’s the smell of a fine, trashy adventure ready to be had! The sound of screaming patrons as they are spun at incredibly unsafe speeds on rides older than their grandparents and just as rickety as the Bacon Blast they just ate moments ago churns within their stomachs threatening to become a technicolor projectile of half digested nastiness! Because. let’s face it, fun is only bolstered when there’s a constant threat of either being puked on or a fate worse than death. These are simple truths.

Case in point, Tobe Hooper often overlooked 1981 low rent, down and dirty slasher shit kicker, The Funhouse! It’s the kind of film that did fairly well when it came out but never created a sustainable franchise and got forgotten about by the mainstream horror aficionados. Which is a shame, really, because The Funhouse is actually a pretty great slice of the old Trash Cinema Grade B meatloaf.

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The story is about a young, very pretty, VERY healthy young lady named Amy (played by the criminally underrated actress, Elizabeth Berridge). She is set up on a date by her two buddies  Liz (Largo Woodruff) and Richie (Miles Chapin) with a young stud and gas station attendant, Buzz Dawson (Cooper Huckabee). Against the advice of her parents, Amy and her friends attend the traveling fair that’s in town. Things get off to a rocky start as Buz insults Amy’s Father…but he soon amps up the charm and before you know it, he’s wrapping his arm around her, she’s resting her head on his shoulder and discussing letting Buzz ram his prize winning cock through her fresh harvest cherry with Liz while the hang out in an alarmingly grotesque carnival shit house. That’s right, Amy’s a virgin, Buzz is a”pistol” and Amy’s been saving it for someone special. I mean, this guy DID play that strong man carnival game, ring the bell and win her a stuffed panda, so the least she can do is spread her legs and let him ring her bell, too! Right? Right? Well, that’s how it sorta works in slasher flick logic anyway.  And what better place to lose it than by trespassing into the carnival’s FUNHOUSE and staying the night in there? Honestly, it is kind of a romantic notion to lose one’s virginity in there. Imagine, those things are NEVER cleaned so the drippings of your busted cherry will be all over The Funhouse floor FOREVER! So, one day when the carnival comes to town you can share a ride with the grand kids, point to an old brown stain on the floor and say “That’s where I treated a distant memory named “Buzz” to my unspoiled cooter! No, not Buzz Aldrin. This guy worked a gas pump…” But, I digress.

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Before you can say,  “dead whore”, the kids witness the creepy Funhouse attendant killing a fortune teller by the name of Madame Zena (Oscar nominated actress and Andy Warhol Factory regular, Sylvia Miles) who also doesn’t mind fucking for money on the side. See, Madame Zena simply touches the guy’s dick and he shoots his wad. She keeps the money, says a deal’s a  deal, but the Carny who just blew his load doesn’t see it this way. He yanks her tits out and strangles/electrocutes her to death. It;s a pretty horrifying/awesome scene.  The Carny is soon joined by his Father affectionately known as Funhouse Barker (Kevin Conway, who happens to play all the other Carnival Barkers in the film) and it is revealed that his son is hardly human at all, and is in fact, some kind of red eyed, sharp clawed, protruding fanged, drooling, screeching albino mutant deformity. It’s a pretty amazing reveal and one that puts a huge shit eating grin on my face every time. As Father and son discuss their plan for covering up Madame Zena’s murder we soon discover that this is far from the first time The Funhouse Barker has had to cover for his son’s murderous ways. In fact, it is even mentioned that his son killed two little Girl Scouts once. Yeah, this twosome is pretty vile. There are several shots in the move that linger on what a general ride goer at The Funhouse would consider fake rotten corpse props hanging from the walls of the ride. But the shots last for quite a while after we are made aware of this Father and Son’s past and you start to wonder how many of those crumbling dead bodies might actually be the real thing?

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Father and son decide they will ditch Madame Zena’s body in the woods and then blame her murder on “The Locals.”  As if Columbo couldn’t figure this shit out…ANYHOO, Richie drops his lighter, the Gruesome Twosome get wise to the fact that there are witnesses to the murder and the hunt is on!

The Funhouse is in many way a horror movie about horror movies. At the film’s very beginning, as we are treated to a lovely glimpse at Amy’s beautiful boobs, there are blatant and calculated homages to our horror film heritage represented by blatantly by  John Carpenter’s Halloween in the form of that film’s killer POV shots, Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho as Amy showers and is menaced by an unknown assailant with a knife. As a viewer, we are well aware of all these tropes. We’ve seen them and we know where it is going. The young, naked, nubile woman in the shower is going to get sliced and diced. That’s how these things work. HOWEVER, in The Funhouse, the sense of menace is soon turned upside down as the masked killer is revealed to be Amy’s little brother Joey pulling a prank and scaring the shit out of his big sis. This is meant to represent the horror film experience. Something scary is seen, but it is at the end of the day, harmless. What is frightening and thrilling on the screen isn’t going to actually harm us. James Whale’s The Bride of Frankenstein is repeatedly mentioned in one form or another. In Joey’s room there is a poster of Frankenstein’s Monster on this wall above his bed, Amy and Joey’s parent’s are seen watching Bride of Frankenstein on cable TV safe in their living room and even The Killer Carny Creature wears a Frankenstein mask through most of the film to cover his terrifying true appearance. The fictional face of a homogenized, harmless, well loved fictional monster is used to cover up the real terror just under the thin layer of latex.  It is a theme throughout The Funhouse. The kids go on carnival rides, scream are thrilled and have a blast. The ride stops and they step off unscathed. They witness a magician, Marco the Magnificent (played by legendary character actor and The Phantom of the Paradise himself, William Finley) drive a stake into a young girl’s heart. She spews up blood as she screams in agony. The crowd is horrified! But then the lights come up and the young girl is shown to be unharmed, and in fact, Marco’s lovely daughter and assistance. It was all an illusion, a trick, and order is restored. Again and again, the teens face things that outside the carnival would be truly horrendous, but here, it’s all an illusion. They are safe.

Safety

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Reality

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That is, until they witness reality. In one of my favorite sequences in The Funhouse, the teens have snuck into The Funhouse to stay the night. The camera cranes back to show the lights of the traveling carnival shutting off, the rides shutting down, and inside The Funhouse the animatronic figures that populate it wind down to a halt. The notion of being alone, in the dark with all these creepy figures is the stuff of nightmares and is terrifying to contemplate. The camera steadily, slowly pulls back from the traveling carnival as the crowds leave pour out, the rides stop, and the lights shut down. The camera pulls all the way out to the parking lot. The veneer of amusement and fun are now gone and we are alone. Trapped in the dark. And evil is lurking.  Just like the horror film itself. You watch it, you have fun at the thrill of make believe monsters and mayhem. But when the movie is over, the credits roll and you go home…the real world awaits.

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I fucking adore The Funhouse. No other movie captures the sleazy, greasy nastiness of the traveling carnival quite like it. Hooper populates the movie with some great, memorable, believable characters…and some that are a bit cartoonish and over the top, but it all plays into the carnival atmosphere and it pays off exceptionally well. Sure, on the surface it looks just like another one of the popular dead teenager movies that came down the conveyer belt of the 1980’s, replete with plenty of death, destruction and nudity, but if you just pull back that mask, if you dare to look beneath the surface, The Funhouse is a much more thoughtful, much more intelligent horror film than you initially thought.

I award Tobe Hooper’s The Funhouse 4 1/2 out of 5 Dumpster Nuggets. Taking a trip through The Funhouse is well worth it, Gang.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

04
Jan
14

Chatterbox (1977) Little Bit of Lip Service

 

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a Primal Root written review

Ah, vaginas.  The warm, wondrous realm from which so much feminine magic resides.  Men and women both lust for it, strive for it, Hell epic battles have even been fought over it. They can be lovely or horrendous, loving or cruel, healing or deadly. Vaginas can lead us deep inside a woman’s being, still, how much will you come away knowing?  When comparing the sexual organs of both genders, the vagina is  the cradle of seductive, tantalizing questions. The cock and it’s dangling balls are easy to read and interpret. There they are, out in the open for the whole world to see. When we’re ready to rock, that fellow stands at the ready. When we orgasm, we blast a ghostly jet of liquid baby. But the vagina…things are never quite so clear. Perhaps some wetness when a lady is sexually aroused, but orgasms are so often only known to the woman herself, and taken on their word by her partner. Well, what if that vagina started talking to you? You know, started cracking wise,  quipping away during your first date, and perhaps belting out the oldies as you sat down to brunch? What might her vagina say?

This is the premise of Tom DeSimone’s 1977 bizarre comedy musical “Chatterbox” a film which wastes no time setting up the premise. In fact, the very first line of dialog is the young, gorgeous, beautician Penelope’s vagina blurting out put downs to the gentleman she just had unfulfilling sex with.  Of course, the fragile male ego is quickly bruised as Penelope tries to stifle the rude, aggressive voice emanating from her most intimate of female body cavities. See, Penelope would never complain or put down her sexual partner for not helping her to reach climax, but her vagina seemingly has no filter and no concern for feeling’s being hurt. He suitor rushes out of Penelope’s apartment in a hurry and she is left with a vagina that can’t stop running it’s mouth. The following day at Penelope’s hairstylist job she inadvertently seduces a lesbian client due to her vagina’s flirtatious tongue and the two end up going at it and are only halted when her boss, Rip Taylor (of all people) walks in and fires her on the spot.

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Obviously, her new, chatty little vagina is quickly ruining her low key existence. When she goes to her therapist, Dr. Pearl, and shows him first hand the otherworldly abilities of her nether regions, rather than offer her aid, he sees a golden opportunity to cash in on Penelope’s peculiar talent and quickly put her one stage, nude for the whole world to see  and enjoy this new medical wonder he has discovered! For a price, of course.  Before you know it, Penelope’s singing vagina, now named Virginia, has become an overnight sensation! the world cannot stop clamoring for my lip service from her moist, pink,  lady bits! Her disapproving mother walks in on a nude modeling session, no doubt for the latest issue of Vogue, and raises holy Hell! That is, until she witnesses first hand the amount of money Penelope’s singing vagina brings in. My, how money changes things…

In fact, half way though the movie Penelope’s vagina, Virginia, seems to become a separate entity all together, no longer a part of Penelope herself. Through it all, Penelope looks uncomfortable, harried and totally unhappy with the superstar lifestyle her vagina has afforded her. Hell, from the beginning she simply wanted her pussy to shut the fuck up, not become a world wide phenomenon! The poor woman is even forced onto a dating show where it seems she might find some solace in a studly young buck she goes home with, but to no avail, this guy just wants to fuck her while wearing a suit of medieval armor and then kicks her to the curb.

Penelope’s situation comes to a head when she is on the set of her first starring role in a major motion picture based on her singing baby factory after Dr. Pearl snatches her a five picture deal with a film studio.  As men dressed as roosters and peacocks dance ballet and sing along with Penelope’s vagina as it wails out her big hit “Wang Dang Doodle” , Penelope finally suffers a nervous breakdown and runs out of the studio, across the lot and off to an uncertain future, much to the chagrin off all those profiting from her unique talents.

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Chatterbox is pretty goddamn funny and has charm to spare. This charm is heavily supplies by Candice Rialson  in the role of Penelope,  our doe eyed, innocent protagonist who is taken for all she’s worth once her talking, singing, spotlight stealing vagina is accepted into pop culture as the next big thing. Candice is a scene stealer, not only is her delivery spot on, her reaction to everything happening to her comes off as adorably honest, if not completely air-headed.  She a young woman with a big heart that is totally over shadowed by the presence of her talkative genitals. Despite her trash talking cooter, it’s Candice as Penelope whom you can;t keep your eyes off of.  She also has copious nude sequences and of the most beautiful pair of breasts I’ve ever witnessed in cinema.  Now that’s worth the price of admission alone, but thankfully, they also belong to a damn fine comedic actress in an above average gonzo comedy.

Now, the intent and underlying message of Chatterbox is something I couldn’t quite pinpoint.  Is this a women’s lib or feminist flick? Or is it  misogynistic? Sure, Penelope’s vagina is gifted, but it brings unwanted attention, in fact, it looks like Penelope is being tormented most of the time and would rather be anywhere than standing on stage with her legs spread for the whole world to see and hear.  People lose sight of Penelope herself and end up only caring about Virginia, as that’s really what’s bringing them success  and notoriety.  Now, Penelope’s vagina blurts out what we can only assume are her most secret thoughts and desires, the ones she would never say otherwise. Often, these outbursts are to the detriment of her personal life when Virginia complains about a lover’s performance or hits on the sexy lesbian woman whose hair Penelope is trimming. But is this some empowerment or invasion of privacy? Did Penelope want this or just her vagina? It’s a strange film in the respect that it bring up some interesting questions and offers no readily available easy answers. Shit, I;m probably thinking too much into a movie about a singing vagina made by  a man who directed nothing but gay porn up until this point. Then again, Tom DeSimone did go on to make two of my favorite Trash Cinema flicks 1981’s “Hell Night” and 1986’s “Reform School Girls”, both of which are far above average in the respective genres. I like the think the gentleman knows a something about what he’s doing.

One thing is certain, DeSimone crafted one far out, whacky and hilarious Trash Cinema comedy with his “Chatterbox.”   the film manages to balance it’s comedic sensibilities  with it’s risque, often sexy subject matter fantastically well. On what appears do be a modest budget, “Chatterbox” delivers the goods, and then some, with a clever concept, story, a wonderful leading leading lady, unabashed creativity and never losing sight of it’s humanity. Seriously, for a talking vagina flick, could you ever hope for more?

this one comes highly recommended. I give it Four and a Half out of Five Dumpster Nuggets.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

 

12
Feb
12

The Primal Root’s Top Five Trashy Valentine’s Day Mood Killers!

One of Primal Root’s Dirty Thoughts

Valentine’s Day is a strange holiday.  Unlike Christmas or Thanksgiving, no one gets Valentine’s Day off. It’s not like Halloween which is renown for it’s fun frights and sugar fueled excess, St. Patrick’s day with it’s green beer and date rapes, but what of Valentine’s Day? There’s no way to avoid it.  You take your special lady friend over to the pharmacy to pick up her birth control and you are greeted with aisles upon aisles of heart shaped, overpriced pieces of  cardboard stuffed with enough tooth decaying sweets to put the entire population of the east coast into a diabetic coma as well as grotesque stuffed animals that play Marvin Gaye’s “sexual healing” when you squeeze the shit out of them.  Like anyone wants that kind of sentiment coming from a furry friend such as a bear or a cat. The whole notion is sick! JUST SICK!

But, I digress,  ANYHOO,  with our collective taste in cinema, Valentine’s Day is a tricky day of the year, especially for us Trash Cinema Connoisseurs.  Which is why I am compiling this list of movies that we might watch on Valentin’s Day,  but might ruin any shot you possibly had at getting some Valentine’s Day love friction.

However, if you do watch these with that special someone and they still glance at you longingly as opposed to sheer terror before bolting out a closed window (ala: any 80’s/90’s action flick) followed by a restraining order  arriving in the mail 30 days later…you’ve found a keeper. 😉

On with the awkward, grueling and stomach churning!

5) Street Trash (1987) dir. J. Michael Muro

Because if there’s a batch of thing you want to think about when you’re groping your lover after dinner at 4 star restaurant, it’s the aroma of a career New York City hobo. Street Trash tells the tail of the internal strife and trouble of the immense Hobo population of NYC who live in a sprawling metropolis of filth and shit puddles down at the local dump.  A new threat has been introduced into their world in the form of a long lost batch of booze known as Tenafly Viper which turns anyone who drinks it into a thick, brightly colored puddle of glop. The very first unlucky victim end up slowly, horrifically and semi-comically melting into a toilet and inadvertently flushing himself down it.

Street Trash is a sick and twisted little film that comes off feeling like one of Peter Jackson’s long lost early works.  the film features necrophilia, an fairly nightmarish group rape,  police officer’s beating people within an inch of their lives and then puking on them, and a moment where a lovely young woman nearly gives a bum a blowjob…a filthy, stinky bum who hasn’t bathed in months and has been sporting the same pair of crusty B.V.D.’s out in the summer heat. Who in the world would put themselves through that?

As hobos melt, women get repeatedly raped and fat guys explode, Street Trash is sure to douse the flames of burgeoning passion pretty fucking fast, my friends.

 

4) The Brood (1979) dir. David Cronenberg

Ah, David Cronenberg. The master of body horror and making us not only feel intense anxiety regarding our physical being but basic human interaction in general. Which could be the reason he appears TWICE in my Top 5 Valentine’s Day Mood Killers List.  The man have a panache for pulling the rug out from under the typical sappy cinematic notions of love, romance, sex (that’s for damn sure) and the notion of a classical happy ending. Hence, his 1979 classic embittered divorcee film, “The Brood”.

Speaking from a experience, unless you are with a partner that is incredibly confident, bringing up an old relationship or flame is a sure fire way to throw a bucket of cold water on any kind of romantic moment.  I know many guys and girls are guilty of that whole past relationship jealousy trap. It’s ridiculous when you boil down, hell, you’re with this person now but for some reason you can;t get over the fact that *gasp* your lover had a life before you! You should be thanking your lucky stars their ex (girlfriend, boyfriend, wife, husband, gimp, dominatrix, stalker, etc.) isn’t manifesting their intense bitterness and hatred into child sized, hoodie sporting, murderous minions born through saggy, goop filled abdominal pulp sacks…Really. You’ve got it good.

The Brood is one of those films that’s going to do little else than make you and your closest companion feel uncomfortable. You’ll end up watching and imagining a few psycho ex-partners and how if they could make little midget killer sacks pawns grow out of their gut fat and come after you with malicious, creeping rage and a meat clever in hand, they would not hesitate to do so.  And who in the world wants that shit running through their head when you’re laying on the cough with your lover in your arms?  And nothing brings on a make out session like a woman gnawing open some grotesque, dripping belly goiter and then licking the living contents clean with her tongue. No amount of smooth talking is going to get the mood back after that kind of viewing experience.

 

3) I Spit On Your Grave (1978) dir. Meir Zarchi

Oh boy…yeah, I guess this one really goes without saying, but if you REALLY want to obliterate a sweet, lovey-dovey evening beyond the point of no return? Meir Zarchi’s quintessential rape/revenge epic is your weapon of choice. When you absolutely, positively have to turn off every mother fucker in the room? Accept no substitute.

But, in all honesty, rape is probably the last subject you want to bring up with perspective girl/boyfriend let alone an established relationship. I Spit On Your Grave features one of the longest gang rape sequences ever committed to film. Just when you think our victim/avenger, Jennifer (the stunning and talented Camille Keaton) has escaped she runs afoul of another rape happy redneck ready to violate her.

I Spit on Your Grave is the purest antithesis of the Valentine’s Day mood setter.  Between the jaw droppingly vicious rape sequences to the well deserved revenge of Jennifer’s, which reaches it’s pinnacle during a bubble bath castration sequence that just made my genitals recede into my abdomen at just the recollection of it, I Spit on Your grave is pound for pound the heavy weight champ of the awkward evening with your sweetheart.  Which might be why I Spit on Your Grave has become a tradition on Valentine’s Day in the Root household. I’m kind of a weirdo, gang, it’s time you learned this.

SO! Unless you want to watch this thing out of some odd, twisted, trash cinema sense of logic like I do, I would keep I Spit on Your Grave OFF your Valentine’s Day viewing itinerary.

2) Cutting Moments (1997) dir. Douglas Buck

Ahhh, the American Dream perpetuated by the constant rotation of the Hollywood conveyor belt. The beautiful wife, the kids, the quaint house in the suburbs with the white picket fence.  These are the measures of success as prescribed to us by society at large. It’s a common, cliched romantic notion that so many of us buy into hook line and sinker. But, as we have gathered through our own experiences of watching relationships and people around us fall apart due to the constant struggle to attain these perceived obligations,  the dream more often than not, fails.

But on Valentine’s Day no one wants to believe in unhappy endings! that things won;t all work out for the best! One things for certain, if you do decide to get hitched, produce some hell spawn, get a mortgage and dwell int he suburbs there’s a good chance things will never reach the level of bloody desperation chronicled in Douglas Bucks’ short film, “Cutting Moments”.

I’ve seen a lot of sick, dark, depressing, stuff, gang. But never have I seen a more harrowing portrayal of an American nuclear family marred by repression, guilt, shame, secrets and lies. My god (Cthulhu) watching this not even 10 minute long short film is just about all you’ll ever need top swear off marriage forever!  The majority of the film is spent in silence with nothing more than the empty sounds of cutting. Whether it’s trimming the hedges, or cutting up carrots. Hardly anyone speaks.These people are so dead inside already it’s like they live in a tomb. There’s no passion, no love, no spark and there’s even the insinuation of child molestation. My god,  did that rhyme?  It’s like they live in a vacuum. It’s only when wife and mother, Sarah, takes drastic measures to put the intimacy back into the relationship with her husband that the blood finally flows back into their lives reminding them once again of the flesh and blood that makes them human.

Too many folks lie to themselves and tell themselves they are with the right person in order to fulfill these empty societal ideals. They get hitched, pop a baby or two out and then either hold all their resentment and bitterness inside or get divorced and use their kids as emotional leverage against their former spouse. It’s all just as sick and saddening as what’s present in Cutting Moments. Watching this puppy on Valentine’s Day is sure to fill your head with enough “What if’s” to have you heading to bed along that night.

1) The Fly (1986) dir. David Cronenberg

Alright, now this is a love story! It really is! When watching Cronenberg’s masterful remake of The Fly it’s easy to forget about the love story at hand taking place between journalist, Veronica and Seth Brundle, the brilliant young scientist working on a breakthrough in matter transference. Veronica falls hard for the quirky, charming, and intelligent Brundle and they begin a whirlwind romance.  Two smart, attractive, young people in love…what could go wrong?

Holy fuck…

The Fly is like a check list of all the things that could possibly go wrong in a loving relationship. Clingy, stalker ex boyfriend? CHECK! Being careless and doing incredibly stupid things in order to prove your love to your partner in a fit of misguided jealousy? CHECK! Inide-Out bloody monkey moosh? CHECK! These two start out as such a believably cute and perfect couple that it makes all the events that much more tragic as Seth begins his transformation from his sweet, adorable, self into a sickly, revolting monster replete with loose body parts and a need to vomit on everything. It’s a terrifying and devastating transformation as we watch, along with Veronica, her love disintegrate and go mad before her very eyes.

The Fly is one of the most epic of all cinematic tragic love stories.  Many critics and commentators have weighed in on the film’s apparent HIV/AIDS subtext, and that’s a smart deciphering of the film, for sure. But The Fly is also a testament to how truly heart wrenching and deeply devastating love can be.  Veronica is unable to leave Seth’s side and tries to help him, to take care of him, however she can only to end up, with all hope lost, and having to come to terms with losing the one she loved and putting the beast he has become out of it’s misery.  Only someone who really feels love and compassion for another is willing to do such a thing.

Upon first viewing it’s easy for the love story to get lost under a puddle of neon green battery acid fly man digestive puke. But once you get over that initial shock and awe you begin to fully realize and appreciate the romantic tragedy that is, The Fly. By the end of the film you and your sweetheart may have a deeper understanding of the obligations true love requires. Well, this is kind of a drastic example, but you catch my drift. It’s not much of a romantic notion, but in some situations, there are no happy endings. Even if you’re in love.

Well, those are my top 5 Valentine’s Day Mood Killers! Keep in mind, these are just my picks. There are about a million flicks out there to choose from and I would love to hear which Trash Cinema Epics you recommend as the true cinematic equivalents of a romance epicac. Please, drop us a line in our comments! I would love to hear some of your favorites. 😀

Until next time, remember to wrap it up every time, don’t name it after me and love the one you’re with!HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!

Stay Trashy,

-Root




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