Posts Tagged ‘death

23
Jan
20

(NSFW) Mausoleum (1983): Demonic Wife? Run For Your Life!

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a Primal Root written review

“I haven’t been this nervous since I’ve been black!” – LaWanda Page as Elsie in Mausoleum

Marriage can be trickier than the Double Dare obstacle course. Yes, it is fun and there are prizes, but you can also end up covered in bizarre substances that are somehow both liquid AND solid and are probably rancid and no matter how many times you reach up that giant nose willed with bright green frosting snot you just CAN. NOT. FIND that fucking orange flag to move on to the brown icing slide! Sure, it should be a piece of cake, but when two people come together and make the decision to spend their lives with one another, they also bring with them their lifetime of emotional baggage as well that shaped them deep down into who they are today.  That stuff will manifest and a test of the strength of a marriage often boils down to how both partners in the relationship react to these issues when they manifest. We all have our demons. And then there’s Susan Walker Farrel and the literal malicious, flesh carving, pussy popping demon residing in her cerebral cortex.

That’s right, at a very young age, Susan (Julie Christy Murray) loses her mother and is so traumatized  by the loss she decides to take off in a sprint from her Mother’s funeral (whose only attendees were her and her Aunt Cora) and seek solace within an old mausoleum which produces it’s own yellow steam and is lit up like cheap haunted house inside replete with lightning and thunder effects despite it being a sunny, gorgeous day outside. If you ask me, there might be some deep symbolism here that this mausoleum represents the place we try to lay to rest and repress traumatic memories where we hope they will be forgotten the rest of our days and we can pretend it never happened. Okay, yeah, probably thinking far too deeply into this monster movie, but at least I like to think the creative minds behind Mausoleum are trying.

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Susan goes into this mausoleum, removes a crown of thorns from a tomb filled with glowing fog and something living within…something…with razor sharp claws. Bestowed upon Susan are telekinetic powers which make her eyes glow neon green, which she puts to work immediately when a homeless man enters the same mausoleum to see if she needs help. Being a strong, independent person who needs no help, she proves this point by psychically exploding the top of his skull off and squirting out a nice gush of brain matter across the Los Angeles cemetery as he is running away in terror. Teach that mother fucker to ask a woman if she is in need of assistance. Susan bows to NO MAN!

Fast forward twenty years or so and Susan (Bobbie Bresee, a blonde, voluptuous, mature bombshell from Surf Nazis Must Die and Evil Spawn)  is married to the lovable Oliver (who is played by Marjoe Gortner whom Trash Cinema fans will probably recognize from 1978’s Star Wars knock off Star Crash, but was also the subject of the 1972 documentary Marjoe, an expose on the business of religion and a documentary about Marjoe’s upbringing as a child evangelist preacher, it’s pretty outstanding and led to a life of eclectic Trash Cinema roles, such as Mausoleum, here…anyway, I digress… ) and they are living their best lives in a fucking ENORMOUS mother fucking mansion for just the two of them in the middle of nowhere. I believe this was early 80’s middle class living…

 

Susan and Oliver decide to go to a local dance club to have a few drinks and dance the night away! They’re not there five minutes before some drunk off his ass, Kenny Rogers doppelganger begins rubbing his only slightly unflacid tube steak all over Susan on the dance floor, rudely interrupting her and Oliver’s fantastic middle aged white person disco gyrating thereby nearly leads to fisticuffs between to two 1980’s prototypical male suitors trying to flaunt their stuff for Susan.  Cooler heads prevail as Susan and Oliver head outside, but the drunken beardo stumbles outside, belching, farting and fondling around in his pockets for his keys. He makes the mistake of bumping into Susan and Oliver before getting into his sagging piece of shit Chevy and…Susan’s eyes go bright green as the Kenny Roger’s look alike get roasted alive in his own car as Susan psychically sets it alight! Oliver tries to save the drunken moron, but to no avail. The car explodes like a tater in the microwave and the charmless scumbag is now a smoking husk.

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Aunt Cora (Laura Hippe) is becoming anxious about Susan’s well being as it is soon to be the anniversary of Susan’s Mother’s demise and she also has a lovely, leather bound book all about the Nomed Family history that spells out demon possession and blood rage for every woman in the Nomed family at the point in their lives. Aunt Cora pleads with Susan’s therapist, Dr. Andrews (Norman Burton) but it falls on the deaf ears of science and he refuses to believe there is anything wrong with Susan besides the lingering trauma of Susan losing her Mom at such an early age. But it isn’t long before Susan begins her demonic midlife crisis when one morning the couple’s lecherous gardener, Ben (Maurice Sherbanee)  starts moving in on her and getting VERY sexual harassment/rapey when he notices Oliver is gone for the day.  It’s like flicking a switch, Maurice is allowed in and she is immediately terrified of him and cowers away. But then, as soon as Ben leaves to go chop the shit out of a stump with an axe,  Susan gets those sexy glowing green eyes again and decides to go upstairs and get totally nekkid for the audience, and Gang, Ms. Bresee is stacked like a can of Pringles. She then puts on a towel, heads out to her balcony, makes sure to get Ben’s attention…AND DROPS HER TOWEL AGAIN revealing her lovely mammaries. Now, I have to ask, why the towel? I guess it was to hide her bush from the camera on the six foot journey over to the balcony, but she isn’t shy about showing of her hedge maze later in the film! Again, thinking far too much into this movie…

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So, of course, Susan fucks Ben’s brains out in the garage a time or two (excellent stamina, Ben, you over the hill rapey gardener, you!) and then proceeds to till Ben’s head and chest regions with a rusty hand rake, spraying blood and gore all over the garage and strategically placed U-Haul packing blankets that are no doubt also covered with the steadily crusting sloppy pleasure plunger drippings from their recent concrete floor garage sexcapade. So long, Ben, you were a piece of shit and a terrible landscaper as evidenced by a montage from earlier showing him eating lunch, spitting on his tools and sleeping by the couple’s enormous private lake.

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The next morning Aunt Cora heads over to the house with some paperwork pertaining to Susan’s inheritance she is due to receive now that she is thirty, of course, she finds Susan upstairs totally transformed into a hideous, glowing green eyed demon! Susan levitates Aunt Cora over the railing from their third floor bedroom and uses her telekinetic powers to rip poor Aunt Cora in half. You don’t get to see it all, but the effect is pretty brutal, none the less, as Aunt Cora’s chest begins to slowly but surely come open. It’s pretty fucking mean and I have no idea who Susan kept blood from getting all over the plush carpeting downstairs. I suppose we can just chock it up to the powers evil. Evil makes everything possible, doesn’t it?

That night Oliver wakes up to find his wife sitting in a rocking chair in their bedroom fully transformed into the hideous she demon and, instead of screaming in abject horror at the absolute, unspeakable nightmare that this reality would be to wake up to, he quietly sneaks out of bed and heads down to their posh basement bar to call Dr. Andrews and calmly, casually discuss the fact his wife suddenly has glowing green eyes, the complexion of an enraged hemorrhoid,  and a gob full of shark teeth forcing her to be a drooling mouth breather, rather than grabbing the keys, bolting out the door and driving off into the sunset at top speed to start a new life with a woman who ain’t in league with Satan. As you might expect, the doctor says there’s no such thing as demons and asks Oliver to tell Susan to go see him. Which he does, and Susan agrees. The next morning, their housekeeper, Elsie (LaWanda Page) heads upstairs to check on Susan only to find the room glowing green and the fog machine on overdrive. Elsie, rushes downstairs, takes a couple shots of “the good stuff” which she hasn’t had a drop of “since she found religion” and mentions “I haven’t been this nervous since I was black!” Both humorous and strikingly poignant bit of dialog reminding us of the dangers of simply being African American in our society, even in 1983. Elise downs her liquor and proves herself the only sensible soul in the movie and heads for the hills never to be heard from again and, I presume, is living the good life on her own private island in the son. Elsie, we hardly knew you, but you brought a special light into our lives through the schlock shake that is, Mausoleum. We bid you, adieu.

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During her trip to Dr. Andrews Susan undergoes hypnosis. After a pretty impressive breakdown over her Mother’s death proving those cars are still pretty deep and easily torn open, the demon emerges and Susan transforms right before the doctor’s eyes taunting him that “I WAS HERE THE WHOLE TIME AND YOU NEVER KNEW!” Needless to say, those green eyes, freaky face and gnarly ass teeth make a quick believer out of Dr. Andrews. Believing this is no longer a mental illness medicine can alleviate, Dr. Andrews researches the family history in that handy dandy leather bound book poor, old, ripped into pieced Aunt Cora gave to him earlier in the film, and it turns out every first born daughter of the family Nemod (IT’S DEMON SPELLED BACKWARDS! THIS IS THEIR KINGDOM!) and, in the meantime, Susan decides to kill another landscaper she seduced into their mansion with her boobs and then telkinetically crushes his skull which squirts out one of his eyeballs into his hand and leaves blood all over the kitchen for Oliver to clean up when he gets home. Seriously, Oliver doesn’t even really question the blood, just whether or not Susan is okay. She shrugs of the blood all over the kitchen and says she’s too tired to discuss it and goes to bed. Oliver seems okay with this somehow…

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Susan steals a painting from the mall after levitating the gallery’s owner from the top floor of a mall and impaling him on an umbrella below before heading home to take a bubble bath and sweet talk her perturbed husband and treat us to some slightly hidden full frontal nudity before transforming and giving us full frontal she demon action and revealing her gnarly, flesh hungry demon tits! Will Dr. Andrews make it to the stately mansion in time to put an end to this foul demons reign of gore drenched terror or will Susan be lost to the ancient inherited evil forever? Also, enjoy one head scratcher of a twist int he last shot of the film. If you have any theories as to what that final shot means, please, let me know in the comments. Thanks in advance!

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Mausoleum is silly, schlocky and often hilariously over the top and bizarre. It plays like a really well constructed carnival fun house with plenty of fun visual flourishes, imaginative gore and make-up effects as well as a cast who takes the whole story and their performances seriously. It all adds up to a highly enjoyable, well produced but very bad and highly pleasurable piece of Trash Cinema. It has everything you could possibly want, Blood, Breasts and Beasts, a stable of actors willing to give it their all despite how silly it all is and they end up looking and a story that tries REALLY hard to bring some new shit to the demon possession table and sometimes manages to pull it off. I love the idea of burying your emotions and never truly expressing them or letting them out can manifest into something absolutely horrible later in life to the detriment to everyone around you. I mean, who the Hell knows if that’s what filmmaker Michael Dugan of Super Seal (1976) and Raging Hormones (1999) fame or writers Robert Madero (Camp Utopia (2002), Battered (2014) had in mind, but it feels like they were reaching for something legit to say with this film. But whether you want to read into this thing or not, it’s filthy, freakish pleasures will be enough to sustain those looking for a simple, mindless, cheap thrill heavy trip through the spookhouse. Mausoleum is a strange horror film oddity that’s well worth raiding the crypt for.

 

I’m awarding Mausoleum FOUR out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

 

 

 

 

21
Jan
20

(SFW) Spookies (1986) or Billy Learned The Truth at age 13

 

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“Uuuuuuhh, look at me: I’m Duke, the horny ghost!” – Duke, Spookies (1986)

a Primal Root written review

As an only child of the 80’s my mind is littered with memories of weekends spent at local video stores in the town where I grew up, Tallahassee, Florida. Nothing beat the thrill of an early Friday evening after school, ordering up a cheesy, greasy, sloppy pizza and heading to the video store to peruse the shelves for a new VHS adventure to waste my weekend with either with a fried over or totally on my own.  I would head past the New Release section and head straight to the Horror shelf where the most lurid, colorful and creative covers were. I would pick up every single box, gaze at the covers and their suggestive artwork and just let my imagination run wild simultaneously psyching myself up for what I might choose to take home with me that weekend. In the halcyon days of the video rental store era, when there was money to be made and stores were a dime a dozen and each store had THOUSANDS of titles to choose from, the cover art of a movie could make or break a tape. Just like the posters for Drive-In films of the past, you had to reel your audience in with artwork that promised something truly astounding.

One such VHS cover that branded itself on my brain and was always around at every damn video store I’ve ever been to, the 1986 nightmare fever dream…SPOOKIES.

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Direct your eyes to the poster heading this review created by comic artist Richard Corben. Imagine your tiny eight year old hand clutching the tape that contained the movie THAT artwork was based on? The lovely woman with huge breasts straining to pop out of her white dress as she is surrounded by a variety of creepy, weird creatures that seem to have no real connection to one another. There’s a grim reaper looking guy, a little goblin creature, someone with light popping out of her head and other undefinable atrocious monstrosities that leave your young mind spinning at the possibilities! And then there’s the bizarre face looking over this scene, with glowing red eyes and mouth that looks like it might be full of blood and what looks to be a bloody would to the middle of his forehead. What the Hell are Spookies and what in the world could it ever possibly be about. All I knew was that if the case contained Blood, Breasts and Beasts, it was going home with me, because that was the promise of an unforgettable late night and a fantastic story for the kids at school Monday morning. “Guess what I watched this weekend?”

Full disclosure, Spookies freaked me the fuck out when I was a kid and I think it’s due almost entirely to the face that it’s two movies in one. It began life as a film entitled Twisted Souls written and directed by Brendan Faulkner and Thomas Doran. However, during post-production, creative differences flared up between the filmmakers and their producers, and ANOTHER director, Eugenie Joseph, was hired on to film additional scenes with new actors which would change the film into something else entirely. He added several different subplots and excised over 45 minutes of the original film to create what we now know as SPOOKIES. And, to be perfectly honest, it gives the film a kind of unhinged nightmare logic quality that three me off entirely as a child. It did not follow the rules established by countless other horror films I had seen, so you just never knew what was going to happen, and to me, that is certainly a strength.

The film begins with a little kid named Billy (Alec Nemser) running away from home through the forest. His parents forgot his birthday, so he’s ditching them for the life of a homeless teenage idiot. He, of course, ends up getting stalked by a werecat guy in a golden vest who moves his face around as much as possible to make the latex creature stuff attached to his face seem like his actual face, but it instead just makes him look like a spaz. Billy meets a creepy drifter guy who instantly reminded me of Kiefer Sutherland from Lost Boys, who mocks Billy for being a stupid teenage runaway with nice shoes, clean clothes and an optimistic outlook on life. You think this drifter character is going to come in handy later as either a hero or villain, but as soon as Billy wonders off deeper into the woods, the drifter’s face is shredded into coleslaw by the ever present werecat. Billy ends up in an old, seemingly abandoned mansion and finds a room all decked out for his birthday…but there’s no one there. Not only that, but the balloons don’t have helium and are ties to the ceiling, there’s a moaning baby doll in a chair and teleporting toy robots and being the idealistic idiot that he is, Billy thinks this is a surprise birthday party his parents planned…even though there’s no one there and it’s creepy as shit. So, Billy opens a large present he thinks might be a bowling ball, only to find the severed head of the sorcerer sitting there waiting to wish him a happy birthday. Kind gesture? Sure. But it understandably terrifies Billy who runs off in the wilderness where is is pursued, once again,by the cat man who eventually corners Billy, slashes his face to ribbons, tosses the little boy into an open grave and buries the struggling boy alive, killing him.

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This scene fucked me up as a kid who loved playing in the woods at night living in the heavily wooded suburbs. I could easily put myself in his shoes and wanting to expect the best from my situation only to find myself missing most of my face and being suffocated to death on mouthfuls of heaping shovel scoops of dirt. See what I mean about the nightmare logic of SPOOKIES? It makes about as much sense as your standard childhood nightmare, only you’d wake up as soon as that first fling of dirt hit you in your bloody, stupid, face. In any other film, that kid would have ended up becoming the sidekick of some adult character who showed up. or would end up being the star, booby trapping monster and shit. No. Not in Spookies. In Spookies the 13 year old child dies along and afraid. His parents obviously don;t care about him or love him and he is now gone forever. Dead and buried in an unmarked grave by a catman, never to be mentioned, thought of or cared about for the remainder of the film. Now children, what do you think THAT felt like? It’s cruel, and awesome to 37 year old The Primal Root, but when I was just a Jim Henson’s Trash Cinema Baby, that whole sequence fucked me up real good and proper to the point I lost sleep over it and would get REAL nervous in the woods I used to play in without hesitation. Anyway, enough about me. Lets get back to SPOOKIES!

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We are soon introduced to our cast of victims who are driving around looking for a party out in the middle of nowhere, where do they end up? Of course, the old haunted mansion where Billy came upon the most surprising surprise party of his short life.  The mansion is inhabited by The Sorcerer whose name is Kreon (Felix Ward) and is on the verge of bringing his beautiful dead wife, Isabelle (Maria Pechukas) back to life once the final victims are sacrificed, namely, this new group of “teenagers” and adults looking to party. There’s the three piece suit wearing elder statesman of the group, Peter (Peter Dain), who is constantly butting heads with the “teenage” tough guy, horndog, and bizarrely placed zipper enthusiast, Duke (Nick Gionta) who also happens to take them to this haunted death trap mansion in the middle of nowhere. Along for this trip to Hell is Linda (Joan Ellen Delaney) Duke’s poor girlfriend, the ginger in the tiny periwinkle blue top with the massive tits she never pops out of the chute for us, Meegan (Kim Merrill) who is attached to Peter and I assume is his wife. There’s another couple, Dave and Adrienne (Anthony Valbiro & Charlotte Alexandra) who suffer from Rich being highly insecure and freaking out all the time over Adrienne controlling everything he does even though all she does is watch him freak out. There’s the obligatory joker/idiot Rich Peter Iasillo Jr) who spends the movie tripping over thing, dropping things, making poor jokes and even poorer decisions. My favorite character, Louis, who as I recall has two lines before being sucked down into own grave and dying before the action even really gets started and is never mentioned or again, let alone, mourned.  Also, odd lady out, Carol (Lisa Friede) Who starts not feeling well at the mansion, gets possessed by Kreon and uses a special Ouija board to unleash a bouquet of highly creative and vicious practical effect monsters to track them down and kill them one by one.

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The Gang knows their lives are in mortal danger and decide to split up to find a way out of this death trap. Some search around while others find secluded rooms to stay fully dressed and fall asleep in before being savagely gnawed upon by Hell beasts. Spookies quickly becomes a cornucopia of freakish blood thirsty hellions dead set on killing off every last cracker in the house. There’s a legion of little reptilian snake demons, a seductive, blood draining Arachnid Woman, a giant lizard man that shoot out head melting electric tentacles, a scythe wielding Grim Reaper and even a trio of chronically flatulent Much Men who rise from the floor of the win cellar and fart like Grandpa after Christmas dinner, you know, fast, furious, loud and with a vengeance.  Not only this, but there’s a legion of zombies surrounding the mansion, making escape impossible.

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People get lost, massacred, tempers flare, fights break as these characters fight for survival in this colorful, bonkers house of blood lusting horrors and it’s just as much fun as it is absolutely baffling. Add in that tacked on subplot about Kreon and and all his various creatures including CatMan and the Jawaesque Korda (A.J. Lowenthal) Son of Kreon and Isabelle, and Isabelle herself, who NEVER interact with the characters from the original film, Twisted Souls, at all despite being shot in the same location and always appearing nearby. It’s actually fun watching how they edit around two totally different stories being told but having to be meant to interact with one another. Towards the end of the film, the plot is left hanging when it comes to our group of party animals that must all be killed in order to give Isabelle life. Some supernatural event occurs where they all begin to age rapidly, an item is thrown, lightning enters a character’s eyes and that’s the last we see of them. Are they dead? Wounded? Senior Citizens? Monsters? What the Hell happened? Instead of us ever finding out, we are treated to an extended zombie chase scene where Isabelle’s clothes get torn off (though she never shows off the goods) as she tries to escape the clutches of the ghoul who resurrected her, the evil warlock Kreon, after she has seduced him and driven a knife deep into his forehead. Will we get any form of closure or will Spookies leave us wondering what happens next? Because if there’s one thing we know…ambiguity is scary.

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Spookies, man, what a fucking ride. It’s a film that feels like a sugar rush nightmare fueled fever dream filled with wild ideas that head down colorful hallways before being utterly forgotten and left for new ideas down even more colorful hallways. It’s like a horror film with A.D.D. and darkly sadistic sense of humor. Where Don Coscarelli’s Phantasm has a similar fantasy/unreality feel to it, Spookies, to it’s detriment or gain, depending on how you like the movie, due to the production issues and different hired hands and stories being mixed together, proves a much weirder concoction. Is the movie good? Absolutely not, it’s total Trash Cinema. But is it entertaining? Gang, Spookies never lets up. It’s balls to the walls ideas, throw it against the walls to see what sticks creativity mayhem. It;s colorful, it’s sloppy and it SHOULD. NOT. WORK. Seriously, this should have been a failure of the highest order. But it is so goddamn unabashedly manic and willing to do anything and go anywhere, you can’t help but join in the glee and stick with it to see just what insane shit will happen next. To me, that’s a Trash Cinema win of the highest order.

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Spookies is a VHS Video Rental store gem that’s well worth tracking down. If you, or someone you know, is even just mildly curious in cult Trash Cinema, Spookies is a great place to start. It’s a deranged and absolute delight. Unless you’re an overly sensitive and imaginative child living in the woods. Then it’s just good, old fashioned nightmare fodder.

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I’m awarding Spookies FOUR out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

 

 

 

30
Dec
19

Tammy And The T-Rex: Welcome to Jurassic Pork

 

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a Primal Root written review

Who doesn’t love a tragic, tear jerking love story? The classic tale of star crossed lovers longing to be with one another, only to have those desires cut short by the selfish, senseless demands of those around them.  From Romero and Juliet, to Antony and Cleopatra to Return of the Living Dead part III and Bride of Re-Animator, it’s a tale as old as time that caters to universally identifiable feelings of love, longing and loss. And then there are those heartbreaking tales of lost love so unreal, so unapologetically bat shit insane, audiences can’t hardly believe it was conceived, let alone seen to completion. Enter Stewart  Raffill’s 1994 teen romance horror comedy fever dream… Tammy and the T-Rex

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Denise Richards (Left) and Paul Walker (Right)

 Tammy and the T-Rex begins conventionally enough with a burgeoning romance forming between well endowed, vivacious, twenty something high school cheerleader, Tammy (Denise Richards in her first ever starring role) and her hunky football player beau, Michael (Paul Walker, once again, in his first ever feature length film role). Also shoe horned into the opening is Tammy’s best friend, the flamboyant and over the top early 90’s gay stereotype, Byron (Theo Forsett), who is true blue and the most likable character in the film. The chemistry between Tammy and Michael is awkward and goofy, but it does come across like they genuinely want to utilize one another’s genitals for their intended purpose. Only thing is, Tammy has a psychotic, bloodthirsty ex-boyfriend, Billy (George Pilgrim), who initiates a knock down, drag out beat down with Michael within the first five minutes of the film which ends in a brutal, school yard, “testicular stand-off” squeeze-a-thon to prove his undying love for Tammy. It’s a ball squeezing battle unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed in cinema and even takes the presence of  armed police officers (one of which is played by Trash Cinema legend George ‘Buck’ Flower) to intervene. Keep in mind, this is within the film’s first few minutes that all this takes place. The teenage romance, and the risks inherent of their forbidden love, are set and leading to a collision course of violent retribution for even looking at some dipshit’s ex-girlfriend.

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We are also introduced to the story’s mad scientist, Dr. Wachenstein (Terry Kiser, Bernie of Weekend at Bernie’s AND Dr. “Bad News” Crews from Friday the 13th part VII: The New Blood) who longs to achieve immortality by transplanting brains into robots, which is why he has built a giant animatronic Tyrannosaurus Rex run by a computer…Huh? He aspires to give the T-Rex life, but is missing one crucial ingredient, a fresh human brain. This could be a generic kind of villainous roll, but Terry Kiser chews the scenery and make Dr. Wachenstein a lively, fun and memorable scientific madman.

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Leave it to Billy to chase Michael down, throw him in the trunk of his care and abandon him in a nature preserve for filled with ferocious, hungry lions and panthers where Michael is mauled nearly to death by the aforementioned lion. This is creativity under the gun at it’s finest. What a fucking bizarre an unexpected turn of events and a truly dastardly brilliant maneuver by Billy. Leaving some poor guy in a deadly giant feline nature preserve and not tell him where he is? As the song goes, “Welcome to the jungle, baby! You’re gonna DDDDIIIIAAAAYYY!” It’s a stroke of mad unconventional genius and I, for one, was thoroughly impressed by this directorial choice.

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Michael, amazingly, survives being savaged by the lion only to be falsely declared dead by visiting physician Dr. Wachenstein, who then kidnaps Michael, takes him to his laboratory, sprays blood all over his puking assistants as he haphazardly saws Michael’s skull open to demonstrate how if he pokes just the right spot he can make Michael’s dying body get a gigantic boner which he can manipulate and make dance around before he slips Michael’s brain out of his skull cavity and slips it into his robotic T-Rex. What could possibly go wrong?

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You guessed it, everything. While Dr. Wachenstein’s away banging his lady assistant, he leaves his two other goons in charge and as soon a the pizza guy arrives, Michael goes fucking nuts after realizing he is not a robot T-Rex and starts chomping heads off and stomping people to death. Once he breaks loose, Michael makes a B-Line straight for a party where Billy and his posse of maniacal laughers happen to be at. Michael crashes the party, disemboweling and decapitating all those who have wronged him in gloriously bloody, goopy, gratuitously creative fashion.  It’s fun and brutal but also felt a little off kilter for the narrative. Shouldn’t Michael be stalking these goons for the rest of the film and eating them one by one leading up to a final confrontation with Billy? In a more generic film I feel that would be the case, But Tammy and T-Rex is anything but your typical tale of love and revenge. He actually eats everyone responsible for the attack in one blood spattered sequence. Michael even runs into Byron at the party, who is understandably horrified by the situation. When Byron trips and falls to the ground trying to escape the massacre, Michael-Rex actually picks him up, sets Byron on his feet, dusts of his shoulders and walks  away. There’s a genuine moment of suspense here, because you’re not sure right off the bat if Michael is just going to go about killing people indiscriminately, or if he will just be devouring enemies. Much to my relief, he lets the lovable Byron go.

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So, about half way through the film all the bullies are devoured, including Billy, who has his head torn off and somehow partially hollowed out. I imagine an off screen moment where Michael bites Billy’s head off and then cracks Billy’s skull open like a pistachio so Michael-Rex can then scoop the insides out with his dino tongue before hacking the husk out to splatter all over the concrete backyard patio. Anyway, with that conflict over with at the midway point, where is there to go from here? Actually, there’s plenty to do! Michael-Rex terrifies Tammy by showing up at her house, breaking in through her bedroom window and whisking her away to barn in broad daylight where this nubile young woman and a T-Rex play a game of charades until Tammy finally guesses Michael’s brain is alive and living in the body of this robotic T-Rex. Before long Tammy falls in love all over again with Michael as a robotic dinosaur and the hunt is on the find Michael’s brain a new body and thwart Dr. Wachenstein and his remaining minions evil plans! One major question left hanging, at least in my mind, is whether or not Tammy and Michael have sex while he is in his robotic T-Rex form or not. There is a scene in the barn where they are laying together and it is mildly implied something frisky might have been going on during the cutaway. Because when Byron shows up to bring them food and drink, which friends do for friends all the time post coitus, he asks “Is everyone decent?” before entering. I know, I know, I;m probably reading into this way too much, but as a man who has been in audiences for live readings of Dinosaur Erotica, my mind cannot help but wonder to that most forbidden of places…Jurassic Pork. Anyhoo, maybe we can finally get a sequel where this is all made clear. Because, honestly, if they aren’t making the sign of the double backed Pterodactyl by films end, poor Michael must have the worst case of disembodied blue balls in the history of this fictional universe.

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Tammy and The T-Rex is far better than it has any right to be. Honestly, the story is a blast of imagination and utter batshit insanity where any and every concept seems to be throw against the wall to see what sticks, and to my amazement, just about all of it does. Tammy and The T-Rex succeeds in being none stop entertaining in much the same way writer/director Stewart Raffill’s 1988 McDonald’s sponsored E.T. knock off Mac & ME and his misguided Mannequin Two: On The Move turned out to be. They are chock full of bizarre ideas that function on a sort of caffeinated dream logic, just as soon as one mind blowingly surreal moment happens you’re on to another! Sure, this isn’t a recipe for mainstream appeal like your run of the mill Disney output, but for those who thrive on cinema that buck formalities and storytelling conventions, those misfits that the rest of the movie going public reject for being “bad movies,” these are the ones that give us a breath of fresh air as they deliver us something totally outside the expected, something rancid and weird and not fully thought out or planned.

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Tammy and the T-Rex is a perfect example of such a film. It might be considered terrible by those who deem they know better, but the charm of Tammy and The T-Rex IS the flaws and imperfections. It’s Grade A Trash Cinema, and everyone in front of and behind the camera really seem to be giving it their all to make this loony concept work, and that is one of the films saving graces. In all seriousness, these are possibly the best performances I’ve ever seen out of Denise Richards and Paul Walker. When Tammy screams in anguish it is genuine and believable, when she calls Michael on the phone to apologize for her behavior, it doesn’t feel phony, and when she hops around the bedroom doing strip tease in a white teddy, it doesn’t feel forced. It’s cornball, and cheesy, but it never has that feel of a disingenuous trash. No, this is the real deal where it’s obvious the folks making it were having fun and trying to deliver something entertaining and as good as they could make it. Tammy and The T-Rex is an absolutely charming and lovable piece of Trash Cinema and one I am thrilled has finally found the light of day fully restored on Blu-Ray, uncut and uncensored, by the good folks at Vinegar Syndrome. 

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Tammy and The T-Rex is a MUST WATCH for fans of Trash Cinema. It’s like Beverly Hills 90210 meets Jurassic Park by way of Robocop and Ghost‘s illegitimate love child and it is good, trashy, mindless fun from start to finish.  

I award Tammy and the T-Rex FOUR AND A HALF out of FIVE DUMPSTER NUGGETS. 

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

28
Dec
18

Mandy (2018)Crazy Evil and The Depths of an Exquisite Hell

 

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a Primal Root written review

“I’m your God now.” – Red Miller, Mandy

The stars so rarely align to deliver a piece of art so pure in form and so glorious in it’s delivery as filmmaker Panos Cosmatos’ Mandy. Now, the setup is nothing new. Two souls love one another, find comfort in one another’s presence and deep bond beyond story book love evolves between them, a deep er connection more profound, peaceful and meaningful that most are lucky to find in a lifetime. That love is torn asunder and one of the two must seek revenge in order to find any kind of peace ever again. It’s a nightmare scenario, and one all of us can identify with in one way or another. To imagine the person we love and hold closest being taken away, never to be returned…in our heart of hearts, we would all want bloody revenge on those responsible.

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What sets Mandy far apart and leagues ahead of it’s unifying trope is the means by which our tale is told. It has taken elements as familiar and comfortable to us horror fans as well worn pair of loafers and injects those elements with energy, a clean new take, unfettered originality creating a new kind of monster that lumbering, brutal, and ready to fuck your brain hole.

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Mandy takes place in the great Pacific Northwest’s Shadow Mountain in 1983.  Red Miller (Nicolas Cage) is a mild mannered, bearded, beefy, lumber jack who works in the mountains by night and comes home to his uniquely beautiful artist girlfriend, Mandy Bloom (Andrea Riseborough). The two share a log cabin together and live a peaceful existence outside of society where they keep to themselves. That is until a fucking piece of shit christian cult drives through town, and their greasy, psychedelic, long haired, immensely insecure and bullying leader, Jeremiah Sand (Linus Roache) gets single passing glance at Mandy and decides he MUST HAVE HER. But, in order to do so, Jeremiah and his cult decide they need some help from some horrifying motorcycle riding, spike faced creatures from beyond the edge of Hell to help pull of their seduction/abduction plans.

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That night, as Mandy and Red sit in front of their television watching the trash cinema epic, 1982’s Nightbeast, and chowing down on what looks like steak and taters to me, the cult organizes their Hell creatures and set their horrible plan into action just as Red and Mandy hit the sack. In a nightmarish, dreadful sequence shot with blue strobe lights, these biker Cenobite monstrosities subdue our two protagonists, tie Red up with barbed wire in the backyard and take Mandy to meet Jeremiah who force feeds her some form of hallucinogenic and attempts to seduce in a prolonged trip of scene set in bright, neon red and purples. Of course, Mandy refuses and laughs hysterically at their weak, piece of shit leader as he shows off his nekkid body after his pathetic “join our lame-ass-cult sales pitch, and it is decided that she must meet a truly heinous and cruel death for her disrespect. The excruciatingly painful murder is committed in front of Red, who must witness the love of his life’s death in all it’s agonizing brutality.  We are shown this moment of savagery reflected in the eyes of Red, who is bound and helpless to save her.

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Once the deed is done, the cult packs it up and heads off into the rising sun, leaving Red for dead, still tied up in barbed wire and suffering from a brutal stab wound. Of course, Red manages to get free of the barb wire, has a final, soul crushing moment with his love’s remains, and decides over chugs of vodka and screams of abject horror, agony and rage, that this cult’s time is up and he is bringing them Hell they’ve never even imagined.  What follows is a film that straddles a place between the mystic and the psychotic and it a goddamn wonder to behold. You feel Red’s rage as he sifts through what’s left of a life that he and Mandy built together, a love so pure and care free, it breaks your heart, and to see that light they had together so fucking senselessly snubbed out because of the whims of a fucking ego maniacal fuck face, you, as an audience, just wish you could help him get that revenge he so desperately seeks.

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After gaining advice and weapons from some old friends, his crossbow “The Reaper,” and crafts a badass battle axe, Red sets out on his odyssey alone, to settle the score with the men, women and monsters who tore his life apart. Once by one, Red visits these murderers and viciously attacks and delivers his vengeance. Obviously, Red had some previous training in survivalism, but there is a learning curve for Red, which is pretty refreshing for this kind of film. Red gets his ass kicked a couple times and even finds himself captured, but he tends to get better as he goes along. Especially once he snorts some coke and does some tainted acid in the mobile home of the monstrous creatures we learn go by he name,”Black Skulls,” which turns the world into a new kind of technicolor nightmare. A neon blood bath we will spend the rest of the film in.

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A horror film where The Devil is the good guy, the far right Christian cultists are the fucking hive if perverse villainy and Nicolas Cage, who gives a career best performance as a mild mannered guy who has it all taken away battling the forces of evil among Shadow Mountain? Gang, that’s nothing not to love about this poetic acid head, black hearted, beautiful bitch a fucking masterpiece. This is Trash Cinema at it must unrefined and reaching it’s greatest heights. I know a lot has been said about Nic Cage’s performance in Mandy, how it’s just another “freak out” performance from this most beleaguered of Hollywood actors. To me, this is one of the most naturalistic and honest performances of the man’s entire career. When Red is chugging vodka in his tighty whities in the bathroom while screaming in absolute rage and grief, you cannot tell me this is not exactly how your would react and feel if you just witnessed the love of your life burned alive right in front of you. To have held the ashes of that one person that meant everything to you in your hands, who died only because she refused to give in to a madman.  Gang, this is a performance that deserves all the recognition in the world. Also, that Cheddar Goblin commercial is a thing of Trashy beauty, too. 😉

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Mandy is a powerhouse of a film and my pick for 2018’s Golden Nugget Award, for Best Trash Cinema Film of the Year.

Five Dumpster Nuggets out of Five.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

28
May
18

Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead (2014) High Octane Corpse Grinder

 

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a Primal Root written review

“You get to see what the Adults do after dark…” – The Doctor, Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead

The zombie apocalypse has been done to fucking death. I used to eat every film, every book, every piece of pop culture I could find related to the re-animated, flesh craving undead ever since I unearthed a VHS copy of both George A. Romero’s classics Night of the Living Dead (1968) and Dawn of the Dead (1978) from a  bargain bin inside the Tallahassee Mall back in the early to mid 90’s when the zombie genre was far from thriving. I was infatuated, tracking down as much as I could back int he day before there was a computer, let alone the internet, in our house. Fast forward over twenty years later, and not only has the living dead genre risen from it’s shallow grave and crawled back to life, but the hordes of these shambling corpses have practically taken over pop culture to point they are appearing of throw blankets, children’s films and are the central issue in long running, incredibly repetitious television programs.

To me, the zombie genre has been irrelevant and tiresome for decades. The last time a living dead film really got me revved up it w=as probably Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later, when a filmmaker decided to create an updated version of the creature and new rules were invented. It livened things up and gave us something new and truly interesting within a genre that was just beginning to come back into sharp focus within the cinematic landscape. But, before long, it was the same old horde of zombies, following the same old rules, chasing the same rag tag group of thieves and misfits. It’s tired, done, to death, and no real fresh blood has been injected to give this world something to interest me.

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That all came to an end the other night when I sat down to a viewing of the 2014 film entitled Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead. An Australian independent horror film that took nearly four years to create and touts itself as”Dawn of the Dead Meets Mad Max.” The film has more unrestrained energy, ferocious creativity and enthusiasm for the genre than I’ve come across since Peter Jackson’s Dead Alive aka: Brain Dead from 1992 and Drew Bolduc & Dan Nelson’s The Taint from 2011.  Wyrmwood is the living dead film I have been craving for 25 year, a film so fun, so heartfelt and so genre defying while staying true to it’s spirit, it not only revived my love and hope for a genre that has been the lackluster, stale floating turd of horror for far too long. Wyrmwood is the new high watermark of the genre. Seriously, it is THAT good. This mother fucker IS the fiery, fresh shot of new blood the likes of which I never even dreamed I’d see again.

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Wyrmood: Road of the Dead starts off on familiar territory, we are introduced to our central characters which will be Barry (Jay Gallagher) a bearded, well built handy man, husband and father of a cute and rambunctious young daughter who is woken out of a sound sleep by the sounds of a society starting to collapse just outside the door to his warm suburban home. Brooke (Bianca Bradey), his sister who happens to be a makeup artist working on a photo shoot with two other young ladies when the outbreak begins, and Benny (Leon Burchill) who is on a camping trip with his mates when they all witness the plethora of shooting starts lighting up the sky the night the outbreak begins. All prove to be more than capable of defending themselves against these living dead, human meat chomping, ghouls, but it soon becomes apparent that these zombies are not playing by the familiar rules set up by George Romero 40 years ago. No, these foul breathed carnivorous creeps are something entirely different.

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Sure, some of the same rules apply, obliterate their head and they drop like a sack of monkey cum, but there seems to be no rhyme or reason as to how people are becoming infected, not only that, but there’s a strange new mystery revolving around which certain machines have stopped functioning. The story splits off into two different tales as we follow Barry and Brooke on their struggles to survive. After Barry loses both his wife and daughter, he is left suicidal, but soon begins to cross paths with other survivors, discovers answers to mysteries about their current biblical Doomsday situation, and steadily gains back his will to live by harnessing his grief and rage into being proactive and moving forward into this new, horrifying world while trying to protect those around him. Brooke, on the other hand, is abducted, drugged and experimented on by a disco dancing wack job in a hazmat suit who is part of a roving pack of the Australian military, it would seem, who continuously inject her with a serum  created using the blood of those infected with this reanimated virus which results in some very unexpected consequences.

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If you think any of what I’ve told you above is a spoiler, trust me, they are not by a LONG shot. I went into Wyrmwood knowing nothing at all about it and the film left me absolutely thrilled and slack jawed by it’s immense creativity and bold new and totally out of left field rules. On several occasions Wyrmwood completely inverts audience expectations and leaves you wondering just where the Hell the filmmakers are planning to take you. It’s a spirit and kind of maniacal glee in a team of creative thinkers always one upping themselves and deciding to crash right ahead down the road less traveled and blazing a whole new path that they know will leave the audience on the edge of their seats and smiling ear to ear. Several time during our viewing, Bootsie Kidd and I turned and looked at one another, eyes wide, gapping smiles and laughing with absolute joy at just how insanely intelligent, hilarious and deeply human this Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead was. Not afraid to introduce likable characters and then rip them away from us brutally, and often with fates worse than death, and allowing viewers to feel the gravity of these losses. Sometimes you might laugh at the absurdity of the loss, but there’s almost always a moment of sorrow for them being gone.

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I really don’t want to say a whole lot more about Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead, and I STRONGLY advise you don’t watch the trailer and simply go in blind. I can guarantee it will be a far more rewarding experience, as the trailer spoils pretty much everything that’s surprising and original about the film itself. I know Wyrmwood likes to advertise that it’s like Dawn of the Dead meets Mad Max, but to me, it feels almost like a spiritual offspring of Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead meets Peter Jackson’s early work, specifically Bad Taste and Dead Alive aka: Brain Dead. It’s a go for broke, low budget, independent labor of love. The kind of love you can feel just oozing from this thing like so much maggot filled vomit from the black, rotten, gob of and long deteriorating zombie. Truly, it’s the kind of film I could see Oscar winning director Peter Jackson making today is he were to get back to his roots ala: George Miller with Mad Max: Fury Road. It’s honestly that fucking impressive.

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Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead is the low budget high energy and inspiration action gore fest the genre has been lacking in for what feels like fucking ages. I happen to know the film’s director, Kiah Roache-Turner has a new film coming out this year entitled Nekromancer, a tale about a man who hunts down and destroys demons in the internet. After watching the absolute joy that is Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead, I am chomping at the bit to see how Kiah will subvert the genre and surprise us in the future.

I am awarding Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead FIVE out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets.

Check this breathless and badass motherfucker out, Gang.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

 

06
Sep
17

(NSFW) Little China Brawl: September Devil Girl of the Month

Hello there, Gang, The Primal Root here and I am chomping at the bit to introduce to you our September Devil Girl of the Month, Little China Brawl! Back with another bloody, beautiful and badass spread this time inspired by the 2002 Lucky McGee horror film, May. 

The Primal Root: Little China Brawl, first off, let me just say it is an absolute pleasure and quite the honor to have you back as a Trash Cinema Collective Devil Girl of the Month. May has always been one of this movies I’ve deeply adored and I am so damn happy you were the individual to bring this disturbing scenario to life. Can you tell us you thoughts on Lucky McKee’s 2002 horror flick and what drew you to the subject?

Little China Brawl: I remember sneaking this movie when I was young and watching it and thinking how different and kind of painful it was to watch and it kind of stuck with me.

Root: With October fast approaching, and May being such an exceptionally unique Halloween film, could you name some flicks you like to put on this time of year as a kind of primer for Halloween?

Brawl: Halloween always makes me think of Hocus Pocus and Trick R Treat

Root: I am witnessing a whole lot of yarn in this photo spread. 😀 What made you decide to go this route and is all of that yarn your personal stash?

Brawl: May lives to sew and I live to knit. The knitting we used is all stuff I’ve made in the last year. I have an entire dresser and closet full of yarn. My goal is to reach SABLE levels (Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy).

Root: Little China Brawl, tell us a little bit more about yourself and what you’ve been up to since we last saw you being attacked by Freddy Krueger?

Brawl: Mostly knitting with beautiful speckled colors and vending locally and at conventions. Also, being arrested.

Root: Digging your tattoos, Little China Brawl, tell us, do you have any favorites or are they like your babies where you love them all individually? Also, do you have plans for any new ink in the not to distant future?

Brawl: My favorites kind of depends on my mood, but probably my absolute favorite is the baobob trees from the Little Prince (my favorite book) on my arm/elbow. I really want to get an elephant tattoo based on my favorite joke by a local comedian.

Root: As has become tradition, do you have any words of wisdom for The Trash Cinema Collective members viewing your Devil Girl spread?

Brawl:If this is something you are drawn to, please give it a try. These are a lot of fun to do. Shooting with Exotic Zombie always involves a large amount of giggling and silliness.

Root: Finally, what song would you like our viewers to have ringing in their ears as the feast their eyes upon your spread?

Brawl: Shivers by Margot & the Nuclear So and So’s

 

19
Oct
16

Who Can Kill a Child? (1976)

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Uncle Grumpyfuk remembers
… Surprise! Ha-ha, yes my scaly compares Uncle Grumpyfuk is back, just released today at 12:00 noon! Heh, “We’ll be seeing you back here in no time!” said the head Doc, ha! (I’ve already managed to slip out of the ankle bracelet and attach it to one of my neighbor’s piglets!) Sew-eee!!!
  Speaking of piglets, waiting for me amongst the unopened piles of Publishers Clearing House entry forms and moldy food porn dvds I found a gem from the beautiful country of Spain, a little kiddie film entitled “Who Can Kill a Child?” Great title eh? Sid and Marty Croft eat your hearts out. Yes this is one of the films from yer uncle’s childhood that gave me a fright and now seems as comical and wholesome as ‘The Waltons Scarlet Fever Thanksgiving Special” – remember when Maw caught Jason fingering Cora Beth? Oooh baby to sniff those fing… anyway… childhood memories eh?
  This film opens with a cheerful collection of hysterical… er, historical clips of dead and tortured children from Germany, Jews, Asians – it’s an even mix- being dragged around and buried in mass graves and stuff, it’s called ‘setting a tone’. Well done.
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  Ok, it begins with a young married couple, wifey is 6 months preggerooski, on vacation in a cool little coastal Spanish town, festival going on, very loud,  so they plan to continue out to a nearby island for some quiet relaxation and anal exploration, heh, rhymes…  So, they kill 10 minutes of film time bumbling around, finally find a boat rental and head for the island.  As..oh, yeah, as they were enjoying the beach before departing, two murdered corpses floated ashore from the direction of the island, forgot about that, no biggie.
   As they arrive they tie up and ask a silent smiling boy who sits fishing what he’s using for bait, he prevents them from seeing with a frown. Heh, heh.
 They quickly notice the town seems deserted other than a few children and a bunch of corpses all over the place that they keep missing, the couple assumes everyone is at festival, so they loot a bar and grocery store (hell yeah!) where the camera pans over a dead chick on the floor in an aisle that hubby misses. While he’s looting wifey is slacking in the bar when in walks a smiling silent young girl who feels and gropes the baby in wifey’s tummy, then splits. Hubby returns and they see an old man down the street, as they watch , who shows up around the corner but the little girl from “Demon Witch Child”, oh boy, ‘something wicked this way comes’! 😉  She promptly grabs the old geezer’s cane and starts wailing away on his bean! Hubby runs over and grabs the cane, the DWC girl laughs in his stupid face and takes a powder, pretty much keeping in character from her last film… So hubby drags the old dude and tosses his body on some straw, walks around the corner for about 3 seconds, looks back around and the kids have hoisted the codger up by his feet and with sickle in hand use his head as as piñata! Now that’s pretty creative My friends. Hubby hurls, staggers back to wifey and tries to lamely bullshit her, ‘they were playing!’, she doesn’t buy it for a sec.
  They finally get the brilliant idea they should maybe, like leave, duh, but are physically blocked by a large group of children. They jump in a truck and hubby guns it, ready to smush the brats into paste when wife in typical hysterical female mode grabs the steering wheel and crashes the truck – mothers, ugh. So they take refuge in the cop station, grab a machine gun and barricade themselves in a cell/room. The children bust in, find a pistol and send an adorable tyke up into the window space to shoot the oldsters. While they try to break the door down he climbs up and aims it at wifey’s noggin, but they hear him draw the hammer and hubby raises the machine gun and answers the movie title question with the answer, ‘Me.’ and blows the tykes adorable brains out! Yeah!
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 They chill for a while when wifey starts screaming that the baby is tearing her insides out and remembers the girl fondling her stomach, passing on the curse. She keels over in record time leaving hubby alone, crying and pissed. So, he takes the machine gun and walks up to the smiling wall of children blocking his path, smiles back and mows down about 20 of them! Yeah, we’ve all wanted to, don’t deny it,. He tears through them, hot foots it down to the boat but takes 5 minutes to untie the line instead of just cutting it so the kids catch up. They start to attack, he picks up an oar and makes like Jackie Chan, slamming the little punks left and right, their painful screams ringing out like the melodic tinkling of wind chimes, but they start to get at him with some knives, then here come McHale’s Navy, or Fernando’s Navy I guess, over the horizon. The El Capitan spots hubby going to town on the brats so he blows hubby’s brains out, ah well.
 As the officers come ashore the kids cry and carry on until the men leave their boat, then El Capitan turns to see the kids unloading rifles from the boat as a smiling young boy turns aims and fires. Yeah, way to go kids, stick it to the Man!
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 The children commandeer their boat and some head back to the mainland. A girl asks a boy, “Will they teach the children there to play too?” .  “Yes,” replies the boy with a smile, “there are lots of children in the world, lots of them.” Now that is a happy ending.
  So remember to tuck your little ones in nice and tight my friends, and lock the door, just in case they played with some strange kids today. 😉
21
Aug
16

Fright Night (1985)The Rejection of Hot Cocoa or Why Your Girlfriend is Hotter When She’s Evil

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“I have just been fired because nobody wants to see vampire killers anymore, or vampires either. Apparently all they want to see are demented madmen running around in ski-masks, hacking up young virgins.” – Roddy McDowall as Peter Vincent: Vampire Killer in Fright Night

a Primal Root written review

By the mid-1980’s horror cinema was dominated by low brow exploitation slasher horror cinema. Every weekend seemed to bring us another holiday themed blood bath filled with nekkid, pot smoking teens being chased down and hacked into oblivion by some silent masked killer or catch phrase spouting dream demon. By 1985, the formula was old hat and there a resurgence in appreciation for the classics. Tom Holland’s fun, sexy, highly entertaining directorial debut, Fright Night, is one of the most unabashed and perfect examples of what can be done when two genres are expertly amalgamated.

Fright Night seamlessly and joyfully the hard lined, effects driven spectacle of the late 1970’s and early 80’s horror genre made famous be the likes of George Romero, John Carpenter and John Landis, along with the fun, campy nature of many Hammer and Universal Classics. Fright Night is a film that generates it’s frights, laughs and boundless charm from the audience’s knowledge of horror cinema history. Fright Night is a film that bridges a gap between a simpler seeming time in the genres past and fully embraces the gnarly, grotesque necessities of the current 1980’s horror audience and succeeds in creating something familiar as well as new and enjoyable from start to finish.

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Fright Night tells the tale of virginal high school horror movie aficionado, Charlie Brewster (William Ragsdale), who is having relationship problems with his equally virginal high school sweetheart, Amy (Amanda Bearse). Charlie becomes convinced that his new next door neighbor, Jerry Dandridge (Chris Sarandon) is a a serial killer, one who has been decapitating prostitutes and draining their bodies of blood…He is also convinced that Jerry is, indeed, a mother fucking vampire.

When Charlie convinces a police detective to investigate Jerry and his live-in buddy Billy Cole (Jonathan Stark), but once the detective and Charlie set foot into Jerry’s home and Charlie’s suspicions are made clear, he is mocked, laughed at and told he is a fool…but this also means Jerry Dandridge, who is ACTUALLY a very powerful vampire, now knows the nosey kid next door is on to him and pose a very real threat to his existence.

Jerry comes to Charlie with a compromise; forget that he is a vampire and live, or continue being a little fuck face who tries to convince people that I’m a vampire and I’ll rip your little teeny bopper head off, drink your blood and then shit it down your neck stump. Of course, Charlie being one of the rare breed, pure of heart sort of kids, refuses to ignore evil. In return, Jerry retaliates by seducing both Charlie’s girlfriend Amy and his one and only friend, Evil Ed (Stephen Geoffreys). Charlie, who has no siblings and whose Mom works the night shift at the hospital and has a singular remedy for  vampire onslaught in a mug of hot cocoa, which Charlie adamantly DOES NOT NEED, is totally useless. Plus his Father is completely absent without a mention of his whereabouts or existence.

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Out of options, Charlie turns to the unlikely aid of a late night horror movie host of the program ‘Fright Night’, classic horror film actor, Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall, who owns this movie, by the way). Nightly, Mr. Vincent boasts about his knowledge and fearlessness when it comes to battling vampires to their undead deaths. But, in real life, Mr. Vincent is a coward when confronted with the supernatural. It is up to this unlikely duo, Charlie and Peter Vincent, to vanquish the evil Jerry Dandridge in time to save Amy, who is slowly transforming into red headed sexy blood sucking minion of the undead!

So why the lasting impression? The cult status? The deeply devoted fan base and high regard from cinema devotees? Simply put, the film is absolute god damn pleasure to watch. It plays to everyone! Hardcore horror aficionados, casual cinema goers, sick demented trash cinema collective members, Fright Night pleases everyone. The violence is so over the top, colorful, fantasy based and imaginative, it’s never really disturbing as much as it is just good old fashion spook house fun.

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The actors all perform at the top of their game. Chris Sarandon as the incredibly suave and seductive vampire Jerry Dandridge conveys brutal menace and a confident swagger and joyful glee, but also manages to mix in a bit of humanity to a very old, very sophisticated creature of the night, making Jerry an unforgettable antagonist. Ragsdale is a perfect choice for the strong willed, in over his head, Charlie Brewster, likewise, Amanda Bearse as Amy conveys doe eyes innocence so well, it;s kind of annoying as shit. But it works in the favor of the character’s story arch, her relationship with Charlie keeps her almost as a child it is only when she is seduced by Jerry that her sexual awakening occurs, her physical appearance begins to change, drastically so soon after Jerry, *AHEM* slides his fangs into her causing ribbons of warm red blood to stream down her back in a not too subtle symbol of her virginity being taken. As she starts to turn, her hair goes red, she shows off her lovely tits through a see through white gown, and she aggressively attempts to seduce those around her so that she, too, can stick her fangs in them. It’s always fascinated me whenever women go evil in movies how much sexier they become. Like Lily in Legend, sure, she’s cute in all in her white gown, flowery head dress and shit, but as soon as she gets into the all black ensemble and starts dancing around with a confident, assured look of a woman who has been through Hell and back, knows pain, pleasure, desire and is world wary of these things, that’s when I find myself getting a chub. Besides, there are few turn offs greater than innocence. But that could just be me.

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Stephen Geoffries, who notoriously would turn to a career in homoerotic porn for the majority of his career, turns in one of the most excellent, go for broke performances as Evil Ed. Evil Ed is obviously an outsider, seemingly hyper active with a penchant for saying what’s on his mind, he seems like a bit of a nerd and someone who has been picked on his whole childhood. He plays the majority of the film as a kind of gonzo comic relief, but again, one of the strengths of Fright Night is when these seemingly stock and familiar characters are expanded upon. Two stand out scenes for Evil Ed always come to mind as the highlights of the film. When Evil Ed is seduced with the promise over never being picked on or bullied ever again, if only he takes the hand of Jerry Dandridge. It’s a beautiful moment as Evil Ed first cowers and then opens up to the idea of having someone, finally having someone who gives his word to stand up for him. Of course, it;s an evil creature of the night, so he will only become a kind of errand boy or good for Jerry, but I guess it beats going to high school. Also, Evil Ed’s ****SPOILER**** death is pitch perfect. It’s outstanding on so many levels, this teenage boy, who has given his soul away for vampiric powers, has now been impaled through the heart while he is in the form of a wolf. The physical effects are astounding through this sequence as we watch a dying Evil Ed in pure agony transform back into his human form slowly, painfully, mercilessly. He screams out in agony, at first as an unrecognizable half man half beast, who reaches out for comfort from a shell shocked and mortified Peter Vincent, the man who put the stake through his heart. Ed reaches for contact, someone to comfort him as he passes away and Peter almost reaches out to do so, before remembering just what he’s dealing with, and draws his hand back. As Ed fades away, and now looks exactly like himself, he gives Peter Vincent a tearful smile of regret as he dies, soulless, a being of evil and most assuredly heads straight down to Hell. Roddy andStephen are both excellent in the scene, and if you ask me, it might just be the best moment of the entire film, as these two work off one another beautifully.

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Which bring me to Roddy McDowall as Peter Vincent. This man is the heart and soul of Fright Night. As the aging, retired, reluctant and increasingly irrelevant Fearless Vampire Hunter, Roddy brings a beautiful, funny, sympathetic character to life with so much charm and charisma, you cannot help but love the man. He enlivens each and every scene he’s in with heart and warmth in a performance so wonderful, you;ll forget the man played a monkey four damn times.

There are a lot of overt sexual elements to Tom Hollands’ exceptional horror flick, Fright Night, but one of the messages I always found most noble is that horror, as a genre, is a necessity for youngsters. Suggesting that knowledge of how to deal with the evils of vampires and their ilk will come in handy, we just never know when. Fright Night is provocative, daring but also, in a sense innocent and nostalgic. It arrived at just the right time in 1985 as horror cinema was becoming stale on it’s steady stream of stale slasher flicks. Fright Night is among the finest horror films of the 1980’s. It’s wickedly comical, the performances, again, are all excellent and the practical effects, decades later, hold home remarkably well and are astounding to behold. It’s also  successful in transplanting the vampire myth from far away mountains of Transylvania and establishing them in the suburbs, a place where the forces of evil can move in right next door, and if you’re not paying attention, infiltrate your entire town…

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Bolstered by a rad 80’s soundtrack, Fright Night is a colorful, imaginative, well crafted and most importantly, FUN, non stop love note to horror’s cinematic history. One I feel has never been topped, let alone, matched.

I award Fright Night (1985) Five out of Five Dumpster Nuggets.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

30
Jul
16

Eaten Alive (1976):A Slice of Deep Fried Southern Sleaze

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a Primal Root written review

I’ve spent a lifetime tracking down and viewing the strangest, nastiest, weirdest films that have ever been made. Years I’ve spend renting, sitting in theaters and even buying movies for my collection before ever having viewed them in the hope of tracking down a little nugget of dirty trash cinema gold.  And in all those years, few have reached the levels of sick, disturbing, nasty southern fried exploitation sleaze and depravity as Tobe Hooper’s 1976 bargain basement horror flick, Eaten Alive (aka: Legend of the Bayou aka: Death Trap aka: Horror Hotel aka: Murder on the Bayou aka: Starlight Slaughter). This flick is about as seedy, filthy and low brow as horror cinema gets. It’s garish, lurid, ultra cheap and is missing so much of the artistic flourishes which made Tobe Hooper 1974 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre not only a massive success with audiences but critics too, so much so that it is considered an American classic and even has it’s original negatives housed at The American Film Archive.

You will never find Eaten Alive being lauded over and put in a film preservation vault. Not, this is the kind of movie main stream critics use to wipe the turd crusted asses with. This is the ultimate deglamorization of the horror genre. The colors are thick and heavy, the sets rudimentary, ramshackle, and worn down, totally caked in dust, dirt and filth.  And the first lines we ever hear are during a close up shot of a huge belt buckle coming undone as a young Robert (don’t call me Freddy) Englund exclaims, is a raspy southern accent “My name’s Buck and I’m rarin’ to FUCK!” He makes this exclamation as he bends a young prostitute over and attempts to ass fuck her, which she is less than willing to do. Eaten Alive begins…with a man trying to stick his cock up a woman’s ass… Sophie’s Choice, this is not.

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It all gets even more dark and mean spirited from there, as the madame of this particular Pussy Shack, Miss Hattie (Morticia herself, Carolyn Jones) boots the young prostitute , Clara (Roberta Collins), out on the street for refusing to let young Buck savage her inexperienced poop chute with his throbbing, eager, member. She ends up heading deep into the bayou to stay at the run down, once thriving, now absolutely disgusting and grotesque Starlight Hotel. It’s a shanty out in the middle of the swamp and houses not only the disturbed, one legged, bespectacled, murderous proprietor… Judd (Neville Brand), but also is the domain of Judd’s behemoth per crocodile, a crocodile he claims he got directly from The Nile, which stays in a fenced in portion of the swamp right beside the front porch of The Starlight Hotel.

Clara is chopped to pieces and tossed to the crocodile within minutes of arriving when Judd realizes she used to sling leg for cold hard cash back in town. He flips his shit, tucks his scythe into her young, lovely flesh several good times and tosses her still breathing body off the porch, into the swamp to spend her last gasping breaths chocking on her own blood as she is torn to pieces by the resident devourer of anything made of meat. It’s a pretty nasty, unapologetic and fucking cruel way for this character to meat her end. It’s like Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho…only set in Florida Man’s South. Where these sorts of things are still shocking, but not necessarily surprising and everything is much more gruesome.

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Eaten Alive is a horror movie with no exits, no easy way out from the grueling, unrelentingly malicious story and it’s schlocky tone. From the get go, the audience knows that their emotions, their nerves, will not be spared and, as my close, personal friend, Joe Bob Briggs once said, the key to a good Drive-In movie is that anyone can die at any moment. Tobe Hooper keeps this rule close to his heart in Eaten Alive, as many kind hearted, well meaning characters are introduced and then have scythes rammed through their skulls and an enormous gator tugs at their flailing legs and pulls them in half. It’s that kind of ride. Innocent family pets are shown being bitten into and dragged to their watery deaths while their adolescent owner screams in horror. So, be warned, this movie is for the sicker of us who respect films that can show just how unlikable and horrifying the human condition can be.

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There’s an outstanding sequence where a little nuclear family stops by The Starlight Hotel to stay the night and collect bed bugs. The married couple, Faye and Roy are played by none other than two of my favorite character actors, Marilyn Burns (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) and William Finley (Phantom of the Paradise). Their marriage is obviously a slow burn downward spiral into permanent psychosis and Roy apologizes constantly, fantasies about his wife using his eyeball as an ash tray and barks all night. It’s a tense, wholly bizarre marriage filled with passive aggressive behavior and absolute batshit crazy behavior. I’m not sure what the fuck is exactly going on here with these two when they’re alone together, but I do feel for their little daughter Angie (Kyle Richards) who spends her time screaming in despair with her hands clasped over her ears as her parents act like complete nutty bars. It’s one of those scenes that I;m so happy exists, because it’s so much fun to watch these two actors go tow to tow and go crazy on one another, but the implications are disheartening to say the least.

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Soon, Clara’s sick and slowly dying Father, Harvey (Mel Ferrer), and his blonde, well stacked daughter, Libby show up in town looking for Clara. Harvey knows he will be gone soon and wants to find her so he can make good with her before his imminent demise. Things ended on a sour note and he wants to be the bigger man and is desperate to track her down. Where do they end up staying? You guessed it! The Starlight Hotel! The two begin to investigate her disappearance which gets the local Sheriff Martin (Stuart Whitman). All the while, Buck (Robert Englund) takes his curvy young girlfriend, Lynette (Janus Blythe) up to The Starlight Hotel for a little consensual sodomy which all leads to a collision course with absolute horror at the dank, gross and inexplicably popular hellhole of a hotel. There’s gotta be a Motel 6 nearby, right?

 

One of the more disturbing aspects of Eaten Alive is the film’s distinct lack of anyone to really root for, it’s lack of humanity and likable characters. There’s not much to distinguish the villain of the piece, Judd, from the rest of the stories inhabitants. We can;t root for Buck, he’s a rapist, a drug dealer and a fucking bully. Sheriff Martin is totally incompetent and impotent as a lawman or any kind of hero. Roy is a failure, a whimpering loser on the verge of a psychotic break down…even Clara’s Dad is so obsessed beyond reason with finding her and comes off as a total jerk. Still, you see these poor sacks of flesh getting filleted by Judd and then ripped to pieces by the voracious crocodile and you genuinely feel bad for these poor, fucked fuckers.  It’s like a treatise against having faith in humanity. Possibly even life itself. Did I mention this movie is dark?

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Some of the women fair a little bit better and are able to save themselves most of the time and work together to overcome the blood thirsty men who happen to be coming after them intent of sinking as much blade into their young soft bodies as possible. But, possibly the only totally sane character in the whole film is Roy and Faye’s young daughter, who is certain to be scarred for life after her long weekend witnessing horror after horror and narrowly escaping being stabbed to death and Eaten Alive… Yeah, I foresee many hefty therapy bills for the rest of this poor child’s life…

 

There’s a lot of joy to be had, also, in watching a young pre A Nightmare on Elm Street Robert Englund playing a pretty nasty piece of white trash dirtbag named Buck in Eaten Alive. He gives his all in what could have been a pretty forgettable character, but that Englund personae pulls through and makes Buck a pretty memorable piece of shit. You can’t help but see the shadow of Freddy in so many of this characters posses and mannerisms. I often like to imagine that Buck is possibly Freddy Krueger’s cousin.

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All this being said, Eaten Alive is a kind of harrowing masterpiece of deep Southern sleaze cinema. The gore is gnarly, the kills palpably unpleasant, the effects all bargain basement which, in it’s own way, adds to the sticky, morbidity of the piece AND there is a plentiful helping of gratuitous tits and ass, which is kind of the sugar that helps this dirty little pill go down. The sleaze on display here is authentic. One walks away from a viewing of Eaten alive feeling dirty and in need of a shower. There’s no deeper meaning to be found in this head first dive into depravity, murder and insanity. It’s a film totally preoccupied in the grimy, the dirty and the disturbing and offers no apologies. There is no light at the end of this tunnel. Only blood, chaos, death and darkness. And what could be more terrifying than that?

I award Eaten Alive 4 out of 5 Dumpster Nuggets!

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

 

 

 

 

25
Jun
16

(NSFW) The Teacher (1974) Too Cheeky

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“Well, come on in a minute… I’m not gonna rape you.” – Angel Tompkins as Diane Marshall in The Teacher

a Primal Root written review

Sexy, taboo, tawdry disturbing with just the right amount of putrid awfulness and sense of shame makes The Teacher (written and directed by Howard Avedis) unintentionally genius. The film is aware of it’s limitations, yet still manages to pull out all the stops and deliver a lowbrow, steamy, creepy chunk of sleazy entertainment that was, to my own amazement effectively erotic, which brought about by subtle, slow simmering means.

Most of the credit, if not all the credit, rest squarely on the capable, sensual shoulders of the ravishing Angel Tompkins (as The Teacher of the title, Mrs. Diane Marshall), but when you are effortlessly lovely and seductive as Ms. Tompkins’, all you need do is glance at local teenage rapscallion and it won’t be long before you have them eating out of your hand. there are many nuanced layers to this seedy, sexual creep fest. The most important of which involves a yellow slicker wearing psychotic stalker Vietnam war veteran named Ralph (played by excellent character actor, Anthony James, who turns the film’s most memorable performance.) who may or may not have been one of Diane’s early student/teacher sexual conquests and is now dangerously, murderously fixated upon her. I don’t believe this is ever made explicitly clear in the film, but Ralph’s doomed little brother, Lou (Rudy Harris Jr.) says his brother claims to have made the sign of double backed mud weasel with her at some point in the not too distant past. Ralph has a headquarters up int he top of a derelict building next to a dystopian marina where Diane parks her boat she somehow affords on a teacher’s salary in 1974. This boat’s primary purpose, it would seem, is for Diane to take it out in the harbor, about 500 yards from where she had it docked, take off her top and sun bath…while Ralph watches through the binoculars he keeps in his red velvet coffin up in his lair.

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And that’s how this whole sordid tale gets going, a pair of binoculars, a pair of sun baked boobs and a deeply disturbed Vietnam war veteran. Lou takes his best friend Sean (Jay North, that’s right, a slightly more grown up version of TV’s Dennis the Menace) to Ralph’s lair after the last day of school to take a peek at their teachers chesticles. As the gawk and stare, Ralph hides in the shadows, sneaks up behind the two unsuspecting high school students and scares the ever loving shit out of them. In fact, he scares his brother Lou so bad he falls of the roof and plummets to his death from the voyeuristic perch, where, from a bird’s eye view after he crunches to the pavement below, we can see blood pouring forth from what seems to be his denim clad asshole. Ralph freaks the fuck out and swears bloody, murderous revenge against Sean the innocent Sean for the murder of his brother. Of course, Sean shortly after become fuckmantically involved with Diane, which sends Ralph even deeper into super psycho homicidal behavior which makes for some very strange, very awkwardly funny and even somewhat affecting trash cinema moments.

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But, as you and I know, the opportunity to sexually experiment as a teenager with someone who looks like Angel Tompkins is an extreme rarity, so, despite the obvious liabilities to his young life, Sean loses his virginity and begins an illicit fuck buddy relationship with the seductive, easy as Sunday morning, Diane Marshall. However, I must acknowledge it took Sean a good amount of the film’s running time to get the courage to finally slip Diane the extra credit she’s been blatantly asking for ever since summer break begins. She seems to be after him in every scene they share together and he always brushes her off with is trademarked excuse, “I gotta go work on my van.” Pool parties, kitchen flirtations, laying around nekkid in the master bedroom asking him to kiss her sweet meat…okay, that last one didn’t ACTUALLY happen, but he does finally give into his desires, overcomes his fear of sex with a married woman who is ALSO his teacher, and they both love every damn second of the deep dicking.  However, as a viewer and a human being, the fact that it took this 18 year old boy so long to give in to his 28 year old teachers sexual temptation frustrated me as a sane human being. I mean, really, who cares if a deranged mad man with a saber and banana yellow rain jacket is out to slice you from groin to sternum and jump rope with a length of your shit filled intestines? All that beer drinking, fucking and frolicking are totally worth it in The Primal Root’s book. I say job well done, Sean! Life is fleeting, anyway. Go fuck your teacher, son.

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Oh, before I forget, Sean’s mother/pimp is played by none other than Miss Universe 1961, Marlene Schmidt, who quite a piece of Devil’s food cake, herself. She even has one of my favorite bizarre-o lines in the entire film as she chats bikini clad poolside with Diane, “I find him very attractive, even if he IS my son.” Man, not since Back to the Future has a film managed an Oedipal moment like that.

At the end of the day, Angel Tompkins really is what I take away from The Teacher. Well, that and an important lesson about never peeping on your teacher with binoculars of lunatics that live in rat infested demilitarized buildings near a pier. Angel is amply equipped and totally convincing in the roll of an experienced seductress. Someone who will stop at nothing until you drop your trousers and irrigate her soy bean field. Sure, she’s not an especially talented actress, but the lack of wardrobe does help take the edge off, but there’s no denying she is fucking stellar in the one moment when Sean admits in her and his parents that he was spying on her while she was nude sunbathing. Her satisfied, utterly aroused little smirk is goddamn lip smacking delicious. Ms. Tompkins seductively saunters from scene to scene with an unparalleled sense of self possession. It’s as if she’s seducing us as we watch, but that could just be me talking over the sound of my own raging boner.

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Anyway, The Teacher is a goddamn remarkable, low brow, trash cinema experience. It has enough  fun sex shenanigans to get your popcorn popping and a nice freakish mean streak to keep you wondering just where the fuck this batshit tale os sluts, psychos and dick brained teens is taking us. they sure as Hell don’t make ’em this sleazy anymore. The Teacher passes the test, every time, Gang.

I give The Teacher a solid 5 out of 5 Dumpster Nuggets. 90 minutes of playground love, Gang.

 

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




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