Posts Tagged ‘fantasy

09
Aug
16

Phantom of the Paradise & Forbidden Zone: A Trash Cinema Double Feature!

 

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WHO: The Trash Cinema Collective
WHAT: A Special Cult Musical Double Feature!
WHEN: Monday August 22nd at 7:30pm
WHERE: The Junction at Monroe
WHY: Because music is our lives!

$5 Cover
We have all the booze you need!

Hey Gang, The Primal Root her, inviting you out to an evening of cult cinematic musicals as only The Trash Cinema Collective can provide! I am thrilled to be presenting to you, Brian De Palma’s Phantom of the Paradise(1974) featuring the music of Paul Williams followed by Richard Elfman’sForbidden Zone (1980) featuring the music of The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo!

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Phantom of the Paradise: After record producer Swan (Paul Williams) steals the music of songwriter Winslow Leach (William Finley) and gives it to one of his bands, Leach sneaks into Swan’s offices. Catching Leach, Swan frames him for dealing drugs, which lands him in prison. After Leach breaks out and again attempts to sabotage Swan’s empire, an accident crushes his face. Leach then dons a costume and becomes the Phantom, intent on ruining Swan while saving singer Phoenix (Jessica Harper) from a terrible fate.

Forbidden Zone: “A mysterious door in the basement of the Hercules house leads to the Sixth Dimension by way of a gigantic set of intestine. When Frenchy slips through the door, King Fausto falls in love with her. The jealous Queen Doris takes Frenchy prisoner, and it is up to the Hercules family and friend Squeezit Henderson to rescue her.” – Scott Murdock

So, come on out and join your friends from The Trash Cinema Collective as we enjoy a Monday of cult musical awesomness at The Junction at Monroe! Cannot wait to see you there, Gang!

Stay Trashy!
-Root

10
Jan
16

Phantasm (1979): All that we see or seem…

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a Primal Root written review

“First he took Mom and Dad, then he took Jody, now he’s after me.” – Mike, Phantasm

I never planned on writing a review for Phantasm. However, with today’s passing of the beloved horror icon, Angus Scrimm, who breathed life into one of my all time favorite cinematic boogeymen, I felt compelled to take a look back at not only of the most enduring and admired horror films, but one I hold very dear to my heart.

Let me start off by stating that there is no real way to create a summary of Phantasm that honestly does the film any justice. It’s the kind of film that takes place inside between the conscious world and that of the subconscious, the the realm of primal, deep, dark human emotions, and at that, from the perspective of a young boy in his early teens who has lost so much he’s having trouble coming to terms with it. Well, Hell, okay…at least let me TRY to tell you what the film’s about.

Young Michael (Michael Baldwin) is living with his older, adult brother Jody (Bill Thornbury) after the untimely death of their parents. Michael is already having trouble coping with the sudden lose of his parents, when he comes to the realization this Jody is considering leaving town and handing custody of Mike over to their Aunt and Uncle. The thought of not only losing his parents, but being a burden on his older brother, who is thinking of leaving him behind, is adding to Mike’s pain and turmoil. There’s a fantastic, heart breaking sequence where Jody rides his bike down the street as Mike chases after him on foot unbeknownst to his old brother. Mike can’t keep up and eventually, begrudgingly, gives up. It’s a pitch perfect moment that visualizes the dreaded feeling of abandonment and the inevitability of change.

To make matters worse, Mike witnesses some very strange goings-ons at the local Morningside Cemetery and Funeral Home. At the funeral of one of Jody and Mike’s friends, Tommy,  Mike witnesses a shadowy, sinister Tall Man (Angus Scrimm, Rest in Peace) lift up up Tommy’s corpse filled coffin all by his lonesome…and load it back into the hearse rather than lowering it into it’s grave.

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As young Mike investigates further he discovers there seems to be a sudden infestation of tiny, brown robbed creatures haunting the cemetery, a knife wielding blonde, big breasted seductress intent on poking every man she can lure into the cemetery to death and the mortuary is guarded by brain sucking, high velocity flying killer spheres. And who looks to be behind it all? The black suited Tall Man who has set his evil sights on Mike.

It takes quite a bit of convincing to get Jody to believe that what is happening over at Morningside is true. With the crazy stories Mike keeps spouting, who can blame the guy for chocking it up to a kid’s imagination? But when Mike comes home with a living, moving, nasty little momento from his last encounter with The Tall Man, Jody hops on board as does their ice cream selling buddy Reggie (Reggie Bannister). The three lay siege to Morningside cemetery int he hopes of uncovering The Tall Man’s true purpose in their small town and send him back to whatever Hell this monstrous being came from. However, as is the case in Phantasm, nothing is exactly as it seems…And the final revelation of Phantasm is devastating, beautiful and deeply disturbing.

**** SPOILERS AHEAD ****

Okay, I am going to discuss the film a bit and I recommend you see Phantasm first before reading further.

One of Phantasm‘s greatest strengths is it’s respect for a child’s perspective. To try and make sense of what is happening int he world around you. It plays almost like an episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark? that pulls no punches. There is something evil and sinister happening in their small town, and it is up to Mike to convince his older brother and for them to solve this horrible problem. There’s a great since of mystery and wonderment as well as mounting dread and tension, but it’s all handled with a real sentimentality and heart that is hard to find in most popular horror cinema of the 70’s era.

Now, before I start making this film sound like the ultimate bummer, Phtasm also has an excellent sense of adventure and fun on it’s surface. Jody, Mike and Reggie are a damn funny trio and their reactions to the ludicrous happenings around town and pricless. Darkly hysterical moments like Michael finding an enourmous flesh eating bug tangled in his hair, Jody asking Mike is the strange breathing sounds he heard was the “retard” up the street and, my personal favorite, when Mike is confronted inside the mortuary by The Tall Man who stands several passes down the hall from him, Mike, speechless utters in complete My-Goose-Is-Cooked fashion, “Oh, shit…” Phantasm is a damn good time about one darkly sobering mother fucking subject matter.

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Phantasm is a horror movie about the sad but honest fact that everyone we love will die. That those closest to us will have to eventually leave us one day and that no matter how hard we fight, or try to hold on, or battle against it, we will ALWAYS lose. I understand the notion that we carry these people with us forever in our hearts and memories, that they live on forever in the tales we tell of them and the ways that they’ve touched us. But we will never get to sit down and hold their hand, feel the comfort of their presence of enjoy a glass of whiskey with them ever again. They are gone. Gone. And so shall we be. And that’s something we all must face.

At the end of Phantasm Michael and Jody do battle with The Tall Man and end up trapping him in an abandoned mine shaft and dropping a dozen or so gigantic boulders on top of the sucker. Our last glimpse of Jody is from onto of a high hill from where he rolled the boulders on top of The Tall Man, sealing his fate. Mike sees his brother, bathed in light with his arms held high over his head in triumph. Mike and Jody have one. Then the film reverses on Mike and he awakes in his bedroom. He is comforted beside the living room fireplace by he and Jody’s good friend Reggie. Reggie explains that not only are Mike’s parents dead, but Jody is also dead, killed in a car accident.

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This is a moment of true horror, a devastating moment that still breaks my heart just thinking about it. And this is where Phantasm succeeds so well, in making us care for the characters that are part of this tale. You can sense the brotherly love between Jody and Mike, their sense of camaraderie and their shared feelings of grief and confusion over the loss of their parents and the prospect of both their uncertain futures. To find out that Mike has lost the entirety of his immediate family, the people he has known and loved since birth, is a crushing blow.

Phantasm is a horror film that dwells in the dark, most assuredly, but it also has a great deal of heart and warmth to it, which as I stated above, is something of a hard commodity to come across in 1970’s era horror cinema. Just look at Tobe Hooper’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre, John Carpenter’s Halloween and Wes Craven’s Last House on the Left. It was a bloody horrifying decade for horror. Phantasm, too, explores the shadows of human nature. But, as odd as it might sound, Phantasm reminds us of what makes life worth living and that life is fleeting and serves as a reminder that we must cherish each moment of happiness we have. To show those we hold close that we love them, that we care and that we are here for them. Because one day, as we all know, they will be gone and we will never get that opportunity to hold them near and tell them we love them again.

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Phantasm is a masterpiece, plain and simple. From it’s unique story penned and directed by a very young Don Coscarelli, it’s unforgettable, dreamlike score by Fred Myrow, and it’s natural, engaging performances by everyone involved,  Phantasm is a type of dark fairy tale about the inevitability of  change and loss which digs deep into our most horrifying childhood fears about death. It takes us right back to the time when we were children and had to make sense of this adult world, a real world we were just beginning to become acquainted with. Phantasm is an audacious film which dares to take a trip through the mental landscape of a deeply scarred, traumatized child. By film’s end, Mike and Reggie decide they must leave their small town and find a new start. Mike begins packing his bag so that they can hit the road and head into a new day, a new future where they can begin to come to terms with their pain. Mike closes his closet door revealing The Tall Man in his mirror. “BOOOOOOOOY!” The Tall Man growls…and Michael is caught. Pulled through the mirror and into darkness.

One day you and I will face Death. Inevitably, as The Tall Man says, “The Game is finished. Now, you die.” And when that day comes, that unavoidable day when we reach our ultimate fate, we can only hope that in death we will fine peace and comfort. Not a brutal Hell made up of our most nightmarish childhood fears.

Phantasm and it’s iconic boogeyman, The Tall Man, would live on with many colorful, imaginative, bonkers sequels that pick up and continue the story admirably well. But, if you were to ask me, the tale begins and ends with the original 1979 classic Phantasm. One of the most poetic and lovely horror stories ever told.

I award Phantasm FIVE out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

04
Jan
14

Chatterbox (1977) Little Bit of Lip Service

 

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a Primal Root written review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

 

29
Mar
13

Spring Breakers (2012) Bikinis, Bullets and Britney Spears

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“Jut pretend it’s a video game. Pretend it’s a movie.” – Brit, Spring Breakers

a Primal Root review

edited by Bootsie Kidd

I walked out of the the theater with what felt like a hangover. My head throbbed, my eyes burned and hazy recollections of what I had recently experienced swirled in my mind like some kind of abstract dream from the night before. Was it all imagined? Was it a reality? One thing’s for sure, the images seared into my mind from seeing Harmony Korine’s latest flick “Spring Breakers” won’t soon be forgotten.  It left me feeling as I am sure many young people who go through this yearly right of passage do on their way home. Dirty, a little warped, and and not quite the same as when they went in on their journey.

A title like “Spring Breaks” along with its Disney Queen stable of leading ladies (Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens are both here for the party) and the addition of James Franco sounds like some kind of terribly conceived throw back to the days of ‘Beach Blanket Bingo’ or ‘Catalina Caper’. But Korine came through with his usual catchy darkness and we’re actually given a badass, fever dream of a film about a foursome of young, impressionable college girls (Gomez, Hudgens, Rachel Korine and Ashley Benson) who decide they MUST go to Spring Break in St. Petersburg, Florida in order to find themselves, and are willing to do just about anything in order to obtain the bread to get there. How do they get the cash to go? Why, by stealing a professor’s El Camino and robbing a local fried chicken hut, of course! Three of the young ladies pull off the heist and coerce their religious, naive friend “Faith” to come with them, and it’s off to the land of tits, pot, and Bud Light for a week of exploitative, brain-dead fun under the deep frying Florida sun!

The young ladies dive head-first into a hedonistic wonderland of narcotics, terrible rap artists, and rampant fornication while taking breathers in order to call their Grandmothers to falsify their shenanigans of flashing tits and guzzling beer from cans phallically positioned cock level by men in seedy hotel rooms wearing nothing but jock straps and caked in their own slimy man-glaze. Of course, the girls are testifying to family members that the St. Pete Spring Break scene is possibly the most spiritual place they’ve ever experienced, and in a way, I suppose it might be as these girls find out what they are capable of and just how far they can bend their moral compass. Which, for most of the ladies, their compass has been pointing south since the get-go. The only girl we are even concerned about in the middle of all this chaos is poor, little, Faith (Salena Gomez) who is perpetually 14 years old but looks to be having a blast for a few minutes there.

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That is until the girls get busted on a drug charge, and are sent to prison with nothing but their bikinis to cover their asses. It’s up to an ambitious sleazy, local drug dealer/rap artist with a grill of silver and scalp covered in rows of corn, Alien (James Franco in an Oscar caliber performance. Stop laughing!) to pay for the ladies to be released and give them a Spring Break they will never, ever forget. And oh Momma, does the man deliver as the girls get dragged into a seedy, drug-ladened underbelly of their spring Break paradise. Oh, and they, also, become part of a turf war between Alien and the man who used to be his best friend Archie (Gucci Mane) and end up going on a well-armed crime spree throughout the city in a slow motion montage to Britney Spear’s slow and drippy song “Everytime”, (whose lyrics might shed more light on the characters of all involved than one might expect, or could just be as vapid and shallow as some might think these characters are). In what must be a high watermark in current Trash Cinema as girls in bikinis and ski masks prance seductively with shotguns and a cornrowed James Franco plays Britney Spears on a white piano with the Florida sun setting behind him. However, Alien has no idea what he’s in for with these Spring Breakers up in his crib. This is art Trash at its finest and I felt my heart soaring during what might be one of the greatest sleazy flick moments in recent memory. Not since Killer Joe has a movie brought Trash up to this level. You’ll know what I mean when you see it…

Spring Breakers is not for the faint of heart or those who have grown dependent of the tropes of the current motion picture main stream crop of films that must spell everything out and whose sense of humor typically revolves around piss, shit or any combination of the two. “Spring Breakers” ain’t that typical piece of shit. This movie is an experience of both heaven and hell, paradise and purgatory, sleaze and beauty. It took me back to a time and place where movies like Harmony Korine’s “Gummo”,  and his collaborative break out hit “KIDS” were the toast of the town and the type of films people actively sought out to see for some unusual, different, grimy, honest and totally unique.

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Spring Breakers can be seen as nothing more than mindless entertainment, and it certainly does function on that level if that’s all you’re looking for, but it also can be seen as a meditation on the mixed messages and desensitization of today’s youth in a culture of crassness, sex and violence. It’s not a new message, to be sure, but it is always one worth taking a closer look at with every new generation. Harmony did it once with his screenplay for “KIDS” (1995) and with his film “Spring Breakers” it feels as if he’s showing us just how far we’ve come since then.  And Gang, it’s a disturbing, sick, nasty sight to behold. And that’s a good thing.

The Primal root Approves!  5 Dumpster Nuggets!

Stay Trashy!

-Root

29
Jul
12

The Primal Root’s Rotten Reviews Ep. 25: Deathstalker

Hey Gang!

WHEW! Sorry about the wait! It’s been a crazy few months since I last reported back to you with a Rotten Review.  I never expected for things to get crazier than they did when I reviewed From Beyond and  accidentally went dimension hopping with a tentacle sporting dominatrix chick,  learning the fine art of optical cavity oral sex, battling tentacle creatures from Hell and stimulating my pineal gland…All Root ever wanted was a quiet evening behind the purple counter at Tallahassee’s last standing video rental store, Video 21.

Alas, I soon realized as I always do,  there is NEVER a quiet night when there’s Trash Cinema to be watched.  So, in the latest Rotten Review adventure, prompted by a strange customer clad in nothing but a chain mail banana hammock and a double bladed axe, I decided to check out an all time favorite, low rent, down and dirty, sword and sorcery, blood soaked, magic fueled, TnA heavy pieces of Trash Cinema Gold, 1983’s  ‘Deathstalker’!

So come along with me and let’s check out some of our Trash cinema heritage and try to survive a little bit of spacial displacement.  It’s all in a days work for The Primal Root!  Prepare yourself for: Mutant Beatles, people so sweaty they look like glazed doughnuts,  multiple molestations, topless large breasted sword fighting, simultaneously funny and disturbing gender bending, giant pig monsters, lots of wrastling, homoerotic overtones, hardcore parties, bloody Mortal Kombat,  bitter filthy Muppets in caves and that’s just what I can think of off the top of my head as I recuperate! And what would a Trash Cinema event be if you didn’t make some new friends? And, holy cow, did I make some incredibly sexy, and brutal ones this time out!

So, without any further a due, I present to you the latest exploits of your buddy Root in The Primal Root’s Rotten Reviews Episode 25: Deathstalker!

Stay Trashy!

-Root

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/96762262″>(NSFW) Deathstalker (1983) The Primal Root’s Rotten Reviews Episode 25</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user24396091″>Kevin Cole</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

17
Feb
12

Grignr the Ecordian battles 1982’s “SHE”!

Good morrow, travelers!  I am Grignr, an Ecordian!  Wanderer, carouser, rapscallion, slayer of foes, taker of women, watcher of enchanted moving pictures about warriors and wenches and sorcery!

I come to tell you of one such picture.  “She”, it is called, from the 1,982nd year after the Christ-god was nailed to the Cross of Pain by the Ro-Mans.  “She”, it is claimed, is adapted from the novel of the same name, with which H. Rider Haggard invented the “lost world” subgenre of the adventure tale.  I have not myself read this tome, being but slightly a man of learning and letters.  But in my travels I have heard no rumors of Haggard being stricken with madness, or enslaved by addiction to every mind-raping drug dreamt of by alchemy, and so I must assume this adaptation to be as loose as a she-slut of Gorzom.

By all the gods, what a lunatic picture!  It seems that the intent was to make a picture of swords and sorcery in the grand tradition, but that a scarcity of coin forced the makers to settle for some sort of beggar’s post-apocalypse.  In that way, they were able to use such armor and swords as were at their disposal, and outfit the rest of the cast with whatever came easy to hand, like football pads and baseball bats, and removed any need to find or create any suitably mythic locations.  These failings are easily overlooked by a barbarian such as I, but the hows and whys of the lawless world elude my simple powers of reason.  For an apocalyptic world, there is a puzzling dearth of blasted landscapes and true devastation.  The picture is set 23 years after an event which is called The Cancellation, but never explained.  That seems a scant span of time for a world to recover from scorched earth and poisoned skies to a point of lush vegetation and forbidden forests.  I would love to believe that the Cancellation was a less explosive world-ender, as if perhaps one Tyler Durden succeeded in his quest, and society as was known collapsed.  This solution pleases me, but does little to explain the animation of the opening titles, which depicts a world in space blasted by the light of massive explosions, and twisted landscapes of doom and death swarmed by a Grim Reaper made of smoke.  I should add that this animation was vastly bitching, as I am told such things are described, and gave my heart – which lusts always for battle, adventure, and carnage – great hope for the picture to come.

After the empty promise of the opening titles, what greets us is a metal ferry barge crossing an unimposing river, bearing a mule and three people.  These are Tom, the musclebound blond hero, Dick, his aptly-named cowardly knave of a friend (who resembles Bret McKenzie, if Bret McKenzie were a human rather than an elf), and Tom’s comely sister Hari.

Yea, travellers, I jest not.  Tom, Dick and Hari.

The three enter the village of “Heaven’s Gate”, where a market is in full swing, with items such as board games, shampoo, shoes and yellow kitchen gloves for sale.  No sooner have they arrived with their mule-load of unspecified wares to sell than the village is attacked by a band of brigands we are later to learn are called the Norks.  They wear sports equipment with painted-on swastikas, and whatever Hallowe’en costumes the actors had in their closets.  Our heroes do battle with them, and the Norks do two important things: they drag Hari away by a harpoon fired into her leg, and they serve to make the audience lose all hope for any real suspense to come by knocking Tom and Dick down and beating them extensively, never bothering to use their swords, daggers and scythes on them.  “Ah”, one says to oneself, “a picture with villains who do not try to kill the heroes.  I suppose I’ll have another mead or four to get in the mood.”

If at this point you wish to see the picture, you may do well to skip to the final two paragraphs.  Below I will tell its tale out of a mysterious sense of duty to any who may wish to know, but have the understandible instinct not to bother watching.

Suddenly the scene changes to an art museum, which is the stronghold of the titular “She”.  A hall full of worshipers bow rhythmically and chant “She! She! She!”, seemingly ’round the clock, while two to three male prisoners in diaper-style loincloths stand chained to an altar in front for reasons not revealed.  One struggles against his bonds in a humorously ineffective and nonsensical way.  No man attempting to free himself from chains would move in that way, is all Grignr is saying.

SHE arrives, and She is lovely.  In fact, She is Sandahl Bergman, of Conan fame, clad in a torn floor-length nightgown.  She looks rather as though she is wearing her boyfriend’s tee shirt, and her boyfriend is a giant.  As far as this barbarian can tell, this scene serves no purpose but to allow for the passage of time between the assault on the village and Tom and Dick awakening from their beating, inexplicably left alive, without the editor having to resort to such tricky time-warping effects as the dissolve.

Return we do to Tom and Dick, and the quest is set.  Hari must be rescued.  Our heroes are promptly duped, drugged and put in chains by a beguiling woman, who also reveals that “She” is a goddess, apparently.  The remainder of the picture contains no evidence to back up this claim.  Tom is taken by She and made to walk the “Path of Blood,” a torture gauntlet which is as painful-looking as it is pointless.

"Put on your battle briefs, ladies, it's man-spiking time!"

He is then left alive to learn that only She knows the way to Nork Valley.  Tom finds Dick peeling onions and crying, and frees him.

They promptly infiltrate She’s fortress, which seems to be no great feat, and disguise themselves as worshipers just in time to see She leave.  She is accompanied by Shanda, her lovely but incessantly whiny sidekick, to a barbed wire fence so haphazard that we suddenly know how Tom and Dick got in.  She goes on alone into a junkyard wasteland full of punks in medieval armor who seem to be using kendo, but not well enough to defeat a goddess of extremely human abilities in a nightgown.  Also there is a Frankenstein monster/android.  She comes to a place of fog and red lights, disrobes and bathes in a hot spring.  The only nudity in the picture is welcome, but brief.  As she bathes, an old oracle crone tells her that a man will come to claim her heart, that for him She will break her (unspecified?) vow, and that through him She will be destroyed.

"Nice butt flap. Now get in the tub, I have something to tell you."

 

She returns home and is goddessnapped by Tom and Dick.

The rest of the picture is a succession of setpieces involving odd tribes in silly costumes.  There is a band of chainsaw-wielding lepers in a factory who like to use a Star Wars-esque trash compactor and seem unconcerned by the loss of limbs.  Shanda and company rescue Tom, Dick and She from these crumbling simpletons, Shanda whines because She does not plan to execute the men publicly, and She lets the men go for no clear reason.  She and Shanda then follow them, also for no clear reason.

There is a Grecian garden peopled by decadent freaks (we can tell they are decadent because their leader seems to be gay, and they have balloons) who get even freakier after dark, but only after dressing Tom and Dick in tuxedos.  Tom forgoes a shirt, however.  Like myself, he is too much man for a shirt.

There is the stronghold of Godan, another self-styled god.  Godan seems to have more behind his claim than She, for he has eyes that glow green and powers of mind-sorcery.  His followers dress as Soviet monks.  He orders She and Shanda tortured, and they are whipped, mostly across the wide leather straps covering their stomachs, while Tom and Dick dine in luxury because they feigned allegiance to Godan.  This was Dick’s idea.  Godan takes She for a bit of a rape party, and Tom and Dick save the day (sort of) after they tire of listening to Shanda scream.

There is a forest featuring skeletons tied to trees, a cloud of poison gas which Tom alone escapes, a crazy sort of Doctor Moreau type in a Baron Munchausen suit and a Texas Rangers baseball helmet, and his giant, bearded, hairy-backed assistant in a ballerina costume.  The doctor has poor methods of prisoner retention.

There is a bridge guarded by a cigar-waving loon in a fringed cavalry uniform, who behaves like a more annoying version of Robin Williams at his most annoying, speaking in bad movie star impersonations and singing television theme songs.  His strategy seems to be to irritate all comers to death, which seems a plausible outcome since he spawns a clone every time part of him is chopped off and Tom is too stupid to stop chopping parts of him off.  Dick and She come along later, and She has sense enough to throw the obnoxious fool onto a land mine.  Where his innumerable clones went is unexplained.

Then there is the city of the Norks.  At last, a location that looks as though some sort of apocalypse might have occurred 23 years ago!  Why the producers did not set a much larger portion of the picture in this city is a mystery to me.  Our heroes disguise themselves as Nork army hopefuls and attend a pre-deathmatch banquet.  The Nork general announces: “This is the life of the Norks.  Food, women and war.  Nothing better on the face of this Earth.”  At last, a man after my own heart!

A gladiatorial free-for-all ensues.  The last two survivors will be allowed to join the Norks.  The Nork leader, in a disco haz-mat suit, oversees the bout with Hari at his side.

"I covet his tire throne."

Tom, Dick and She are the last three standing.  When Tom is unmasked and the others realize who they have been fighting, they unmask themselves.  The Nork leader is furious that a woman has infiltrated his sacred bloodsport, and responds by releasing Hari into their company and letting all four of them go, with a promise to enslave She’s people tomorrow.  I swear by the Eye of Argon, not a soul in this picture makes a damn bit of sense.

She decides to wait outside the gate and fight the Nork army by herself.  Of course Tom has come to love her, and stays to help.  And of course Dick and Hari do as well.  In a matter of hours, pits are dug, bows and arrows made, and a mine field relocated by the four heroes.  The following battle is better than most in the picture, because the participants are at least trying to kill each other for the most part.  Shanda shows up at the last minute with reinforcements, and the day is won.  There is much rejoicing.

At long last Tom and Hari return to the barge upon which we first met them.  Dick stays behind with Shanda, whom he has apparently come to love for some reason, and she for equally mysterious reasons shares his feelings.  Tom and Hari cross the river, and Tom and She stare longingly at each other across the water as the picture ends, the oracle’s prophecy of vow-breaking and destruction completely ignored, or forgotten.

SHE is a queer, queer beast of a picture.  Comely wenches, a wide variety of strange characters, and plenty of battle, to be sure.  But the battle is too often pathetically staged and bloodless, and is set in a nonsense world built from a meager budget.  Worst of all is the utter nonsense of the story and the characters’ choices.  Perhaps best of all is the delirious silliness of the whole affair.  The picture certainly does not take itself seriously enough that one senses some artistic target was aimed for and missed.  Also worth noting is the score by Rick Wakeman, he of “Yes” fame.  Grinding guitars and flailing synth riffs abound, and one action sequence is set to a song by… I know not who, but I have heard worse Aretha Franklin impersonators in my travels, of this I can assure you.  The strongest endorsement I can give is that you should watch this picture if you wish to be completely perplexed and amused.  Much strong drink is a necessity, and a small party of like-minded adventurers is recommended.

Until next time, travelers, drink deep of food, women and war, for there is nothing better on the face of this Earth!

Kneel before She!

07
Jan
12

Night Caller (1976): The Life of The Long Distance Pervert

a Primal Root written review

Have you ever been the victim of an obscene phone call? To be honest, I never have. But, then again, I am a rather beefy guy in his late 20’s and I’m probably the last person on prospective pervert’s hit list.  Honestly, I would probably end up on a pervert watch list before I was ever a victim of such shenanigans, but I digress.  IF I ever were ever the victim of an obscene caller I’m sure I would be fascinated to hear the life story of the person whispering dirty, lustful phrases into my ear  while the  sound of  lubed up wang-doodle stroking slaps about faintly in  he background over the phone line.  Forget the story of Martin Luther King Jr. or Abraham Lincoln, tell me the story of this heavy breathing, faceless, sexual deviant!

Our film begins with Robert (David Book) rolling out of bed, checking the time, and then going to his apartment window to peep on the couple in the building right across from him. The lovers engages in some hardcore 70’s sex, with pounds of heavy pubic coverage, odd usage of hair during oral sex where the guy rubs his shaggy head of hair against his lover’s muff in what comes off looking more like a blind man having lost his way to the vagina than resembling anything even remotely erotic, and a sudden INTENSE difference in this guys erection size. My only guess is that someone slid a stunt cock in there at one point or another… Robert watches, chaffs the carrot, and becomes obsessed…

Over the course of the film we learn Robert harbors incestuous feelings for his Mother and sister . He thinks back to two memories in particular while in the company of a very bored prostitute with intense grandma hair.  One features his sister, who catches him peeping, and then allows him to fondle her while asking him if he thinks she’s attractive and if he likes her “tits”. The other is of his topless mother, (again) catching him peeping, who berates him, topless, as he stares at her “cratch” and impressively proportioned  boobs that bounce around freely as she shakes her finger at him hollering “You’re a bad boy! What am I going to do?” The answer? Repeat those two lines for ten minutes while remaining topless and allowing your son to continue to ogle your lady flesh.  It’s excitement by repetition for young Robert and it seems to have left a lasting impression.

The bulk of the film is made up of Robert fooling around with prostitutes and harassing his voluptuous red-headed neighbor Carol (Monique Starr) via uninspired sleazy talk over the phone.  It’s never really made clear as to why he latches onto this neighbor, which could have easily been justified in the story if she even remotely resembled the Mother or Sister he lusted over in flashback, but that’s apparently not the case here.  It seems he is only obsessed with her because…she’s there and answers the phone.  The creators of the film obviously spent a little bit of time trying to create a somewhat realistic, believable,  character out of Robert but some of the dots just don’t connect.

By film’s end Robert manages to con his way into Carol’s life through feigned car troubles, a lunch date and then offering to come over to protect her from the  terrible voice on the phone.  It’s “Night Callers” central relationship/plot point, and one that was in dire need of more attention within the story. But, I guess that’s the short fall of most pornographic films that strive to meld with another genre. The story has to be put on hold repeatedly in order for a scene of intense genital penetration and cock gobbling may be inserted. (pun intended?) The central growing relationship between Robert and Carol is mostly left by the way side with little development and depressingly falls back on the old thriller convention of the damsel in distress being dumb as a sack of used prophylactics. It makes no sense that Robert can weasel his way into Carol’s life with with such incredible ease! Especially when she’s in such a huff over the Night Caller.

Night Caller does offer up some cool surprises, my favorite of which is a little diversion, where we are introduced to a blonde, husky- voiced character named Helen, whom Robert has called in he hopes of overhearing some good jerk-off material. Helen is framed in a very tight close-up of her face as the scene commences only to pull back and reveal that Helen is, in fact, a man in drag, and is getting head from a female dressed up as a man.  It’s the most intriguing and inventive scene of a film filled with rather generic material. It continues into a relatively well shot sex scene and ends with dual money shots (!!!) as Helen cums not once, but twice, in a period of about 3 minutes.  Not only this, but Helen’s partner, after a lengthy period of tit fucking, holds Helen’s cock in her hand and takes the first of his load up her nose (on accident) and then aims Helen’s tool right at her eye and takes his second blast of chunky dick snot (which looks to be the bulk) right in her eyes! It’s a painful (and hilarious) moment for the viewer and it must have been pretty tough for actress  Laura Bond as well, whose expression is one of annoyance, agony and “Fuck, why did I just point this thing right at my eyes?” I guess when you’re suffocating on a porn load that just shot up your nasal cavity, you aren’t thinking clearly anymore.

My biggest gripe with this film is the damn score by Richard Silsby.  I’m not sure what they were thinking but it the score consists of droning noises and repetitive minor chords that give every single sex scene a sad, creepy, monotonous tone. I understand, this is a sad kind of thriller, but for crying out loud nothing makes a fuck scene more boring than this crap! Give it a listen and I am sure you’ll agree. One interesting thing I noticed was how one of the riffs in the score sounded remarkably similar to the JAWS theme…

The story of Night Caller isn’t exactly a pleasant one and the whole thing will leave most viewers feeling sad, scared and dirty in a way they had no intended. It’s kind of like Taxi Driver if it were all a bout a chronic masterbator who wanted to fuck his Mom and ended up living out a rape fantasy rather than “saving” a young Jodie Foster. Despite the shortcomings in the script, score and cinematography, Night Caller tries hard to deliver more than just your run of the mill porn film.  It’s certainly different and presents some bold and intriguing ideas that are sure to hit a few nerves and make more than couple viewers squirm in their seats.

Night Caller was a film made early in the cannon of both writer Dean Rogers and legendary porn director Anthony Spinelli. Testing the waters here, the two would go on to create such classics as “Nothing to Hide”, “Skin on Skin”, “Talk Dirty to Me” and  “Revenge of the Pussy Suckers from Mars”.  Spinelli had over one hundred films to his credit before passing away in May of 2000 at the age of  73. The man’s legacy speaks for itself.

Night Caller is a greasy, creeper of a flick. Certainly not for the casual purveyor for Trash and Sleaze Cinema. However, if you are looking for one dark, oddball XXX film that will have you feeling filthy in no time, I cannot recommend Night Caller enough!

Stay Trashy!

-Root




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