Posts Tagged ‘end of the world

19
Jul
18

Hell Comes to Frogtown (1988) Hell or High Sperm Count

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“EAT LEAD, FROGGIES!” – Sam Hell, Hell Comes to Frogtown

“We’re gonna get ’em out, and you’re gonna get ’em pregnant.” – Spangle, Hell Comes to Frogtown

a Primal Root Written Review

Never in the annals over cinema has the queasy unease and horror apparent in the possibility of losing your sexual organs been so graphically portrayed as they are in the post apocalyptic 1988 sci-fi comedy action adventure cyber punk sweat and filth caked fever dream, Hell Comes to Frogtown starring the late, great, Roddy Piper, Sandahl Bergman, Cec Verrell, and Farmer Vincent himself, Rory Calhoun!

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As always, the world is left a post apocalyptic wasteland due to a “difference of opinion” (HAHAHA!) which leads to a nuclear war obliterating all of civilization and leaving the good majority of the handful of remaining men steril. Which is where Sam Hell comes in (played with over the top buffoonery glee by Roddy Piper), we catch up with him as he is about to get his genitals torn off by an angered military Captain named Devlin, whose daughter said Sam raped her, but he actually didn’t, and is now with child. However, the forced castration is quickly put to an end when Spangle (Sandahl Bergman) and Patton (Eyde Byrde) show up just in the nick of time to put him in an explosive cod piece and make his cock and balls official government equipment to be used in the repopulation of the planet. See, he tests way off the charts with the most ammunition in his weapon than they’re ever seen before, which makes him quite the commodity in the wasteland. One of my favorite moments in the film is when he is sitting in the lab of this government repopulation building with his beeping, blinking codpiece on, as he looks around and sees all the propaganda on the walls including a great poster that has a NO CONDOMS symbol over it and states “THE FUTURE IS IN YOUR HANDS!” Hell signs his junk away without reading the fine print and is now enlisted to go on missions across the remaining junk heap of Earth in an bulky explosive codpiece he can’t take off or it will explode, if he gets too far away from Spangle, it will electrocute his ball, and then explode. So, he’s basically a a fuck slave for the government.

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Immediately, Hell is thrown into a mission to rescue a bevy of fertile young women who have been captured and used as sex slaves by a race of mutant amphibians who were exiled to the desert by humans to a place called, you guessed it, FROGTOWN! Hell, Spangle and badass gunner, Centinella (Cec Verrell) head off into the wasteland driving a bright pink Studebaker with a sunroof so Centinella can man the massive machine gun mounted to the top, in order to rescue the fertile maidens and have Hell give them the deep dicking they need to repopulate the Earth. Along the way, of course, we learn Spangle is trained in the art of seduction, which is graphically portrayed as she whips out her late 80’s camouflage and doily adorned lingerie, in order to keep Hell teased, hard, and ready to impregnate when the time arrives. Late at night, Centinella strips off her uniform, whips her puppies out of the chute (providing the ONLY bare breasts of the entire film) opens Hell’s the cod piece flap, straddles our wrestler hero, but gets pulled off right before he enters her ring by a jealous, but posing as protective, Spangle. Ugghhh, repopulating the planet is going be touch when all the women keep getting upset over who owns this guy’s penis.

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Before long, the trio comes across an actual, honest, to goodness fertile lone woman of the wasteland. Spangle basically terrorizes and bullies the young woman before Hell tells her to back the fuck off so he can talk to the woman. Spangle gets irritated with Sam who balks at the artifice of this who deal and can’t perform under these circumstances. “Hey, you try making love to a complete stranger in a hostile, mutant environment, see how you like it.” But, eventually, Hell and the young woman warm up to one another, and get down to business as Spangle watches on jealously.  In the morning, the young woman directs our trio of heroes to Frogtown, thanks Hell for the lust in the dust, give him a big bear hug and is on her way to die of exposure in the nuclear desert before ever even having that the baby Hell just shot down her love canal.

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Okay, entering Frogtown, which is EXACTLY what you might assume it would be. A dark, filthy, greasy, sweaty underworld made up of freakish mutated frog people drinking sewage, reading copies of The Frog Prince, and doing strip teases upon the bar. Spangle’s plan is to pose as Hell’s faux hostage and slave to be traded to a frog pimp that goes by the name of Leroy. Leroy happens to be aided by an older HUMAN gent and acquaintance of Hell who goes by the name Looney Tunes (Rory Calhoun). The trade, however, comes to an abrupt halt when the one eyes frog, masochist and right hand toad of Commander Toty, the King Frog of Frogtown, a mutant who would love nothing more in this post apocalyptic husk of a world than to watch Hell’s package explode into meaty, sizzling chunks. Well, even more than that, he wants to enslave Spangle and watch her perform the highly erotic Dance of The Three Snakes, which is a scene that must be seen to be fully appreciated, no words of mine could every fully do it justice.

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Oddly enough, it feels like the movie kind of drags once they hit Frogtown as Spangle tries to seduce Hell, and he rebukes. Arabella, the shapely frog stripper, tries to get Hell to fuck her, and he rebukes, and she pulls him back and crawls on him, and he puts a burlap sack over his head and says no, no ,no. It’s kind of funny for a minute, but as these interactions keep happening, it gets old quick. But, once Hell is captured, Spangle is forced to dance, and chainsaws start getting pulled into the action, Hell Comes to Frogtown gets back on track and into the action is a big hurry.

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For being a New World Picture and the budget certainly being pretty nil, the effects are pretty impressive. Tee frog mutants may not be the greatest effects ever produced, but they’re quite audacious for an indie sci-fi flick. What really saves the day and makes Hell Comes to Frogtown so damn watchable, is the charasmatic, go for broke, comedic performance of Roddy Piper. They man is absolutely hysterical in the movie, calling on his experience mugging and emoting at top dramatic level from his professional wrestling days, the man hams it up to such an extreme, that you cannot help but laugh with the guy. It’s a ridiculous goddamn movie, and where everyone plays it serious, Roddy plays it for laughs, and it makes the film, if you ask me.

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Hell Comes To Frogtown is by no stretch of the imagination a good film, or a competent one and I doubt it would make anyone’s favorite sci-fi action films, even from the 80’s. But, what it is, is a a fucking hoot of a piece of Trash Cinema and one very fun, brain dead ride into a hot, sweaty, dusty abysmal dystopian Hellscape well in need of some good fucks. It’s a flick where humanoid mutant frog people are packing heat, kidnapping scantly clad nubile young women who must be saved by the beefy awesomeness of Roddy Piper. Honestly, what’s not to enjoy?

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I award Hell Comes to Frogtown THREE AND A HALF out of  FIVE Dumpster Nuggets.

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

 

 

09
May
15

Cafe Flesh (1982) The Positives and Negatives of The Nuclear Kiss (NSFW)

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a Primal Root written review

“Is there anything sweeter than desire bound in chains?” – Max, Cafe Flesh

Fucking is a constant. The burning desire for pleasure and acceptance. The need for human contact. it’s unshakable, you can not ignore this primal, basic, animal urge to rock on with the most wonderful way to spend your time, sex. Now, imagine if you will, a post apocalyptic future where those who survived the nuclear holocaust suffered a terrible affliction, one that there is no known cure for. A plaque that keeps you from giving in to the craving, the temptation, the need to get freaky any time of the day or night.

Post WWIII finds 99% of the surviving population completely unable to have any sexual contact with another human being whatsoever, and the remaining 1% are enlisted to put on bizarre live sex shows for those who can no longer have sex anymore. See, the 99% who cannot experience any sexual gratification whatsoever get violently sick whenever feeling sexual stimulation of any sort. Now, this 99% spends their free time in dark clubs watching those lucky few who can pork one another without projectile vomiting across the wasteland watching them slide in and out of one another all night long while drooling and dreaming of an existence that doesn’t so closely resemble Hell.

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And when I say these live sex shows are bizarre, I mean to the extreme in most cases. Bizarre to the point of, as Bootsie Kidd so aptly pointed out, resembling Kids in the Hall sketches with real women and money shots. My personal favorite has to be the fuck session that involves a man with an enormous pencil for a head wearing a three piece suit bending a lovely young woman over a work desk and fucking her from behind while a nekkid broad with ample bosom, tied back red hair, and a pair of Poindexter glasses on types away on her computer while insistently asking if we’d like her to type a Memo. IT’s pornography, sure, but it’s pretty goddamn high concept. There’s also a wonderful scene early on where a stay at home Mom gets fucked and jizzed all over by a mutant part rat part man milk man all while her three freak babies do a tightly choreographed dance from their little feeding chairs int he background. It;s a spectacle of low budget, highly innovative and creative pussy pounding unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It’s the kind of stuff that makes you want to wake up Grandma so she can come watch with you,

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Beyond the truly arresting hardcore artsy fartsy sex shows is a stunningly downbeat post apocalyptic science fiction film. I can only imagine the near sducidal depression and frustration the 99% knows as “Sex Negatives” must feel knowing that they will never, ever, in their entire existence know the intimate connection of love and sex with anyone ever again. Not even from themselves. And to watch these lucky bastards being able to use their rock hard cocks and dripping wet lady lairs to their fullest potential…man, in a way, this really is a perfect illustration of Hell.

To make matters worse (or better?) this new society that formed after WWWIII and the “Nuclear Kiss” can sniff out those who are “Sex Positive” and force them into working the sex show trade. Of course, once people get started, they end up loving it. There’s one female character who happens to be a virgin and was saving it. When she is found to be sex positive she is forced out of Cafe Flesh in wrist restraints only to show up later sucking and riding cock like a professional. He sex scene is even sampled in the beginning of More Human Than Human by White Zombie! (You’re good, Rob.) No tears, no regrets, she walks away describing sex as the greatest thing she’s ever know directly into the faces of several poor souls who can;’ do it at all. She gloats and brags as these poor sexless negatives try to hold back the tears and resentment. Yeah, I’m glad your life is worth living, you GOD DAMN ASSHOLE! I get a hard on and I start SHITTING MYSELF and puking all over my futuristic Doc Martin’s!

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But not everything is as it seems in Cafe Flesh. There are those among the 99% who desire love, connection, and a good deep dicking, AND ARE TOTALLY CAPABLE, but repress such burning desires in order to keep their partner from feeling left out or alone. Scream Queen Michelle Baur, credited as Pia Snow, plays a young woman in the 99% who finds her self fulfilling a role in just such a melodrama. I will tell you this much, Baur delivers a damn fine performance here, certainly among the very best in Cafe Flesh. And as we all know, when things are repressed for too long, they tend to build and explode into our lives with violent reproductions. Libido…finds a way.

Filmmaker Stephen Sayadian is a credit to the pornographic medium. He has created a one of a kind, beautifully shot, well written, fairly well acted piece of hardcore pornography where the story is far more interesting than any of the mechanized dicking taking place on screen. It’s a dark, bitter, sad pill to swallow but a flick I cannot help but recommend for it’s bold daringness and innovative story. The gonzo porn of today owes a great deal to Cafe Flesh. Stephen Sayadian would make another phenomenal slice of smut entitled “Dr. Caligari” in 1989. The world of pornography desperately needs more visionaries like Sayadian.

Cafe Flesh is pretty goddamn remarkable. I was thoroughly impressed. It’s rare when a pornographic film truly rises above the expectations of it’s genre and delivers a story, let alone a gripping, abrasive and creative. Hell, Cafe Flesh begins with the MC of the sex show, Max, jeering the audience which includes us. Cafe Flesh is able hook us in not simply with explicit sexual images but with concepts, ideas and real conflicts. In it’s short 80 minute run time there’s more originality and high concepts than just about any current main stream science fiction release  Possibly the films most challenging aspect is it’s intense disgust for it’s own audience. The 99% sit in their seats and watch like mindless zombies…I cannot help but feel like someone is taking a dig at me as I sit in the dark of my living room and watch people dressed like rodents fucking one another.  It’s a dig I take in stride as a Trash Cinema Connoisseur.

If you’re in the mood for a dark, nasty, bizarre and totally unique fuck flick, look no further, Gang. It will keep you engaged till the abrupt and bitter ending, leaving you thirsty for more.

FOUR AND A HALF out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

22
Apr
15

The Taint (2010) Filth Beyond Your Wildest Dreams (NSFW)

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a Primal Root written review

“No one’s going to stop anything ever again!”

Gang, in the world of current Trash Cinema I am seldom supremely impressed anymore. It’s easy to shock people or gross them out, but to entertain while doing so? Not since John Waters or Lloyd Kaufman have I seen a filmmaker who can pull it off so seamlessly. Enter, filmmakers Drew Bulduc and Dan Nelson and their exemplarily slice of down and dirty filth, The Taint. Not since Pink Flamingos have I been this genuinely entertained and repulsed by a movie. Here’s the low down…

The Taint is the story of a very different kind of apocalypse. The world’s water supply becomes tainted by a mysterious chemical which affects only men, making their cocks grow ridiculously large, spew goopy man milk through the air, and drives them to homicidal rage towards women, whom they dispatch in graphic, nasty, hysterical ways. We learn of this taint through an excellent opening credit sequences that explicitly shows the spread of the chemical agent through our world and just how vast it’s reach is. I’m not going to spoil it, but we do get to see just how and why this chemical agent was created and how it ended up contaminating our water supply. Trust me, it’s a story well worth witnessing.

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As society collapses a handful of survivors must come to terms with this new world of brutal violence,  constantly hard, violently ejaculating cocks and men who have become monsters, constantly looking for female skulls to crush. Two survivors, Phill O’Ginny (Drew Bolduc) a man-whore teenage skater who’s too cool for school and Misandra (Colleen Walsh) a shot gun toting, take no prisoners feminist badass must band together in the heat of this armageddon to do battle with the hordes of psychopaths, both tainted and un-tainted, and face down their personal demons in order to pave their own way in this terrifying new world order.

The Taint is the most brashly wonderful and original piece of trash cinema I’ve seen in what feels like an eternity. It is a film of uncommon grotesqueries to match it’s extraordinary intelligence. The jokes and gags are made so much stronger due to the wit behind them. Sure, you’re witnessing mindless death and destruction filled with puke, piss, shit, tits and dicks, but it’s all handled with such confidence and savvy, that it is goddamn impossible to not be thoroughly entertained. I could not wait to see where this fucking madman of a movie was going to take me next. The score, which is fucking spectacular and composed by Drew Bolduc, feels like a beautiful mix of John Carpenter at his very best mixed by Daft Punk and then fucked an 8-Bit video game.

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The Taint never lets up, never slows down and is never short of incredible concepts, savage strangeness or fantastic energy. It feels like the most amazing backyard movie project ever filmed. There’s even an underlying and interesting subtext broaching such subjects as post-feminist society, misogyny and misandry in American culture. We watch as women are killed, their blood spraying through the air as men jerk off and laugh while watching. In another scene, a woman mentions how all men will eventually turn into this a monster, lusting after the destruction of women…and then we can;t help but laugh as a rock hard cock gets shoved through her skull and out her face before a young man packing heat blows the cock off and calls the cock wielder a misogynist. It’s ludicrous and hysterical but at least it’s trying to strike the conversation up. And for this, I totally commend The Taint.

I am in love with this film. I am going to go buy a copy, abduct people, tie them to the couch and make them watch it. Well, maybe just continually invite a steady stream of my Trash Cinema loving friends over to witness The Taint‘s greatness. If we still lived in a world with art house cinemas and drive-in theaters, The Taint would be an instant Midnight Movie classic. Why The Taint is not a sensation, I have no clue. But I will preach the gospel of The Taint to my last dying breath. Gang, this is Trash Cinema at it’s very finest. virtuoso filmic filth. YOU MUST SEE THIS! Find a copy, come over to my house, or attend a Trash Cinema Night at Bird’s Aphrodisiac Oyster Shack one day when we screen it. IF you love what Drive-In Movies once were, witness the second coming. The Taint is one of the funniest, nastiest, most ceaselessly entertaining flicks I’ve ever seen.

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FIVE out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets! INSTANT TRASH CINEMA CLASSIC!

Stay Trashy!

-Root

17
Jun
13

John Dies at the End: Not a Spoiler (2012)

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a Primal Root written review

“Time is an ocean, not a garden hose. Space is a puff of smoke, a wisp of cloud. Your mind… is a flying corn snake hovering through all the possibilities” – Robert Marley, John dies at the End

Let me tell ya, “John Dies at the End” is a film, a story, full of ideas.  Time travel, alien invasions, alternate dimensions, ghosts, monsters, paintball flamethrowers…well, you get the picture. It’s the kind of film that plays it fast and loose with it’s multitude of concepts, throws caution to the wind and wishes you luck as you try to keep up with the blisteringly fast pace. filmmaker Don Coscarelli is the ideal choice to helm such a film. I doubt many other filmmakers would even come close to this material. It’s mind meltingly unconventional stuff and Don’s background with the Phantasm series and decades of maintaining that bizarro franchise and having it make some sort of narrative sense in spite of itself, pretty much makes him  the perfect man for this particular job.

Let me TRY to summarize the basic premise.   At a college party a drug is introduced to the kids entitled “Soy Sauce”. It’s a black liquidy substance that come sin a syringe and promises out of body experiences with each hit. What these youngster’s take to be a poetic sales pitch turns out to be the honest to God truth, as they begin traveling through time and parallel dimensions. The  bitch of it is, many of these youngsters are coming back…changed, and thus heralds in an other worldly invasion that just might spell out the end of life on this planet. Thankfully, college dropouts and general goofballs,  David and John, now endued with supernatural powers are humanities last chance at survival.  It’s one unbelievable story, all of which is being told to journalist Arnie Blondestone (Paul Giamatti) in the hopes of making the truth known.

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It plays something like “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension” meets “Hellboy” with a dash of “Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey”. And if that sounds like an insane concoction, you’d be right. “John dies at the end” is almost an acquired taste. The kind of film that becomes more interesting and enriching with each repeated viewing. It all happens at such a rapid temp it’s near impossible to keep up, but with each viewing new images, thoughts and ideas present themselves, fleshing the film out as a whole. I know this sounds like a lot of work for one little move, but I suppose that’s why such flicks become “cult” films. And this flick seems tailor made for that crowd.  Hell, with performances from cult favorites such as Clancy Brown, Daniel Roebuck, Angus Scrimm and Doug Jones, it’s cult status  is pretty much built into it’s very fabric.

Now, I am not a recreational drug user, I know, “surprise, surprise”, but I have a feeling that those dabbling in a few choice narcotics might have a far better time watching this movie that someone who is stone cold sober, like I was during my initial viewing.  Just an idea. If you decide to try this out, let me know how it goes.

I enjoyed “John dies at the End” but I never felt like it really congealed into any kind of coherent story, at least the first time I watched it. This is neither a good or bad thing, just don;t expect anything conventional to come from “JDATE”. It’s unlike any movie you will see at your local googaplex. Which, if you;re tired of the same old mainstream offerings sold to us over and over again, this might just be your ticket.  But I don’t expect this is everyone’s cup of tea.

The Primal root says take the trip. What could it hurt?

Stay Trashy!

-Root

27
Feb
13

In the Mouth of Madness (1995): Licked by the Tongue of Terror

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a Primal Root review

“I think, therefore you are.” -Sutter Cain, In the Mouth of Madness

Few movie openings get me as pumped as that of “In the Mouth of Madness”. The opening synth licks, drums kick in, and the guitar commences to wailing as Sutter Cain’s latest book is being shot through the presses by whirring machines that could draw and quarter you faster than you can say “owee”.  Never has book publishing seemed this incredibly badass. If you can imagine Metallica’s Enter Sandman but without James Hatfield’s goofy vocals and composed by cinematic renaissance man, John Carpenter, you’re halfway there. It’s a fucking spectacular start to a movie that’s basically the dark, evil, alarmist version of Reading Rainbow. Who would have ever guessed reading could be so goddamn cool and menacing? In my own head, I like to imagine that if this film had reached a wider audience, we would have seen cool, greaser types with their slicked-back hair, bad boy shades, a Marlboro dangling from chapped lips, leaning against a support beam in their favorite dive bar and flipping through a well worn-collection of Edgar Allen Poe.

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So, who is this Sutter Cane fellow? Well, in the fictional 1995 realm of “In the Mouth of Madness” he is the most widley read author in history. His stories have been translated into several dozen languages, outsell every other book on the market, and have even begun to lead to riots in book stores (remember? People used to go to stores that sold books!) when they can’t supply enough to meet the demands of the author’s work.   Did I mention this guy does horror? So it stands to reason that the man is also getting the blame for a recent “plague of violence” that has swept the nation with folks brutally attacking one another seemingly at random. Are they getting a little inspired by their page-turner?

As we all know, that’s absolute garbage. Entertainment has as much influence over real life violence as soft serve ice cream consumption has over the migration of gopher turtles.

But, I digress. As it turns out Sutter Cane has gone missing, and his publishing company has hired a cynical, crude, disillusioned insurance fraud investigator named John Trent (Sam Neil) to find out if Cain is alive and if he ever finished his final book, In the Mouth of Madness. Sent along with him is Cain’s editor, the  more open minded and vulnerable Styles (Julie Carmen). After some rather impressive investigating along with some trippy and disturbing nightmares, Trent puts together a map which will lead them to Cane who seems to be stationed in a small New England town. And not just any small New England town, but one named after Old Scratch, himself, and which seems to be the inspiration for one of Cane’s books, “The Hobb’s End Horror”.

in the mouth eyes

On their drive to the mysteriously elusive Hobb’s End Trent & Styles get to know one another while chit-chatting about Trent’s love of busting people and justifying his stone-cold cynicism with sharing his view that “the sooner mankind is off the planet, the better.” Styles speaks to her lust for horror, and that if reality as we know it should happen to shift how terrifying it would be to be the last sane one left…hmmm, foreshadowing, me thinks. There’s also an impromptu clown horn awakening that leads to a fun-sized Ruffles Potato Chip beat down that adds a little levity but really just makes me want some potato chips. Great product placement, though! I want to put those chips in my OWN personal mouth of madness where they can settle in my belly of batshit… ew.

Along their journey, Trent sleeps in the passenger seat snoring one of those irritating half snores as Styles gets a nice ripe slice of Hell. She catches a glimpse of bicycle reflectors up the road, but as she gets closer it seems to be a young man in his twenties peddling furiously in the same direction on the deserted highway in the pitch black night. As she drives past. he fades into the red of her tail lights and then disappears into the darkness. This is not a thing uncommon to humans. We pass people riding bikes, yeah, pretty much all the time. But there’s just something freakishly unsettling about this one. Something that speaks to us solely in the language of nightmares. Then, of course, there’s the next moment in which we see this soul, and he’s kind of, let’s say, changed a bit.

Several nightmare scenarios later, our dynamic duo find themselves in Hobb’s End, where the main street is lined with lovely little antique shops filled with what Trent eloquently calls “old shit”. The town looks pretty empty with the exception of a tribe of kids who can’t not run in slow motion after their dog. The two check into a quant little inn that seems to be run by Viggo the Carpathian and Mrs. Pickam (the incomparable Francis Bay). OH! and oI guess it bears mentioning that Cane’s there abducting children and transforming them into his own special brood of creatures bent on spreading his signature brand of mayhem and mutation throughout the town. And where else would HQ be but the comfy confines of THE BLACK CHURCH! A creepy, evil, place whereabouts dobermans attack en mass, the doors have a malfunctioning automatic open feature, and where Cane does all of his writing and evil plottin these days.

in the mouth sutter

Still, despite every gruesome event in “The Hobb’s End Horror” playing out around them, Trent still refuses to believe his own eyes and chocks it up to a ridiculously well-staged Disney World level publicity stunt put on just for him in hopes that he’ll high-tail it back to the big city, and talk up Cain’s “haunted little town.” In this one moment, I agree with Trent when he boldly declares, “Well, FUCK THAT!”

Now, you can begin to imagine Trent getting genuinely freaked out at this point, but the man just won’t give up on trying to find the logical explanation. But it seems to become more blazingly apparent that he’s driven himself right into a hotbed of slimy monsters and crazy shit ground zero. Portraits shift and change to creep the fuck out of city folk, grannies handcuff their naked hubbies to their ankles, and giant reptilians sporting a veritable mess of tentacles occupy the outdoor patio. Yeah. Sure, guy, this is all being staged JUST FOR YOU… I’m hopping on the next non demon-riddled Greyhound and heading to Chi-town as you brush chunks of brain and gore off your shoulder from the ‘actor’ who just unloaded a shotgun into his noggin.

As a mob of mutated town folk slowly inch towards Trent and a now totally whacked-out Styles (oh, yeah, she’s been lustily possessed by her demon-crazed client), the two exchange punches to the face in a Three Stooges of Domestic Battery kind of way. It gets a good laugh in (at least from me), and they head to their car to make a quick getaway. Styles gets all emotional and attention-starved, and commences to eating the car keys.  “JEEEEEESUS!” cries our hero and goes fishing down her throat, which, I gotta say, just feels a little gross & sketchy despite the necessity. Trent takes it to that further step, bashing in Styles’s mug, hot-wiring the car, and blazing the fuck out of this podunk Hell hole.

Only Trent can’t get out. No one gets out. He’s stuck in the demonic Groundhog’s Day of road trips as he repeatedly drives down the highway, finds the road lines glow a freakish neon orange, and being transported right back to Main Street USA where a posse of Basket Case 2 rejects await him hungrily. Oh, and by this point Styles is trying to smut it up with Trent, contorted her entire body into a creeping,  crackly-boned, monstrosity. The beauty of this moment? These days  all this would be done in sad, ineffective CGI, but cinematic treasures like this prove that unnerving realness of scenes such as this are actually pulled off by *real* effects such as the sideshow contortionist who rocked even the creepiest of moments.

in-the-mouth-of-madness church

After several tedious attempts to escape Trent tries a more direct approach flooring his jalopy right into the crowd! They clear a path which leads right to Styles who just stands there grinning like she just drank all the sherry.  Trent jerks his steering wheel to the right and directly into a nasty collision which leaves him unconscious as the minions of mutations laugh and talk amongst themselves in the distance.

Trent then wakes up to have a one on one with the man, himself, Sutter Cain. Okay, this is it. Here is Trent’s chance to defend humanity! And what does he do? Too preoccupied with trying to light his last cigarette, Trent settles on insulting Cain by telling him his books suck. Eh, I hardly think that’s going to bruise the man’s ego, Trent.  And then he drops the bomb. Trent, himself, is Sutter’s creation. A character in a book he is writes and controls. Nothing more. Understandably, Trent’s more than a little unsettled by all this, even more so when Sutter rips into his own face with is bare hands to reveal a dark pit framed by torn shreds of a novels pages.  Yeah, this is looking less and less like a promotional stunt…

We’re led through a fantastic sequence wherein Trent peers into the darkness while Styles reads from Sutter’s new “bible”.  This, of course, plays as narration as he is living the story she reads. It’s a wonderfully creepy piece of cinema where Trent sees creatures rising from the abyss beyond description and we, the audience, are never given a good clear shot. We are only allowed to see Trent’s face as he reacts to what he sees. Styles presents the manuscript to Trent,  and Trent makes his way back into “his world”. The creatures gain, Trent trips, and all is lost…or so it seems.

In-the-Mouth-of-Madness-Screenshot-in-the-mouth-of-madness- story

Trent screams in primal terror only to open his eyes and find himself on a dirt road, back in what looks to be classical reality. Birds chirp, kids deliver the newspaper, and there are no creatures beyond description chilling out at the truck stops. Yes, things seem normal, but Trent has seen some pretty heavy shit and can’t so easily shake it. First order of business is to destroy the manuscript, which keeps mysteriously finding it’s way back into his hands. Eventually Trent heads back to the publishing company that hired him in the first place only to find out Styles never existed and that he delivered the In the Mouth of Madness manuscript months ago and that it’s been at the top of the Best Seller list for seven weeks! Trent, having no recollection of this at all, is driven even closer to the edge. He pleads with the publishers to recall the book because what’s in it will drive people insane. Trent is then gently pushed off the edge as it’s revealed that the movie adaptation of the book comes out in a week.

The epidemic of violence continues, no one can put down Sutter’s latest work, our “hero” has gone homicidal as well, bashing in skulls with an axe outside book stores., which is why he has been telling this story from within a padded sell all along. By film’s end we find Trent in a deserted city after the dark power made manifest through Sutter’s work has infected everyone, making them lash out violently and mutate, as he goes into a fully lit theater. What’s playing? In the Mouth of Madness.

in mouth madness trent

Trent sits in an empty theater, popcorn bucket in hand and watches scenes fro the film we have just watched. He begins to laugh a pained, horrified laughter of sad realization. Of being broken. Tears swell up in his eyes as he tits his head back, his laughter becoming desperate and pleading as we cut to black. It”s a cold, dark, deeply unsettling ending because it brings up so many questions about who we are and reality in general.  Trent, obviously was born, grew up, has gone through life and made memories, how devastating would it be to find out it were all false. That, in effect, you aren’t real. That you are simply a means to entertain someone else.

It’s a cold concept to think about, that we might be nothing more than the figment of something’s imagination who can change the rules whenever they like and wipe our slates clean in the process. It takes a pretty active imagination to contemplate such an existence, but what a sad and empty way for our world to end. With the realization that we were never, ever, anything to begin with…

Stay Trashy!

-Root




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