Posts Tagged ‘filmmaking

14
Apr
15

Why Don’t You Play in Hell? (2013) Blood Sacrifice for The Movie God

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a Primal Root written review

It takes a certain breed to be a cinema buff.  I became a believer in the beauty, the appeal and the power of the movies in a near religious manner. Friday nights as a child were spent at the local movie theater (Oak Lakes 6, Miracle 5 or Capital Cinema here in Tallahssee FL, Rest in Peace, my friends) or at one of multiple video rental stores. I learned more about morality, courage, compassion, love and humanity from what I watched on the silver screen and through my VCR than I ever did by going to church and all I’ve ever wanted to do with my life is make that one perfect film I have in my head. My masterpiece. My chance to project a story upon that screen and make people laugh, scream, cry and think. In this sense I completely understand where someone like the character of Director Hirata (Hiroki Hasegawa) is coming from in the 2013 Japanese gangster, action, comedy, gore epic Why Don’t You Play in Hell?

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Teenage Director Hirata, along with his closest filmmaking comrades known as The Fuck Bombers,  discover a young Sasaki taking part in a back alley brawl. Hirata instantly dubs Sasaki “The New Bruce Lee,” and gives him Lee’s iconic yellow and black track suit and a pair of nunchaku. The group of dreamers spend their formative years at the local community center watching movies and the rest of their free time shooting backyard movies and incidents they come across on the street.

Meanwhile, young Michiko is the singing and dancing star of a toothpaste commercial and has become an overnight sensation. That is, until her Mother, the wife of Michiko’s Yakuai gang leader Father Taizo, is sent to jail after brutally slaughtering a half dozen enemies who invaded her home while she was slicing up carrots.  Michiko’s Mama is thrown in jail for ten years and the powers that be have Michiko’s ridiculously popular toothpaste ad removed from the air. I’m trying to refrain from spoilers as much as possible here, but Michiko comes home to the aftermath of her Mother’s bloody encounter, ends up lsipping sliding through some blood and comes face to face with the man who was sent to kill her family. It’s both incredibly cute, funny, graphic and sets the rest of the film’s story line in motion. A series of mind boggling coincidence, or is it fate (?), that leads to one of the greatest gangster epics ever filmed.

See, Taizo has sworn to Michiko’s Mother that Michiko is starring in an incredible action film, one that will make her proud of her daughter. But when Taizo realizes it’s all fake, that there is no heart behind the camera, no passion and no vision, he enlists the assistance of the now grown up, but still insanely passionate Hirata and The Fuck Bombers to film the epic battle to the death between these two rival gangs with the young and vicious Michiko as the film’s star. See, The Fuck Bombers never realized their dream of making the ultimate Yakuza action film. They made it as far as a mock trailer for the film they lways dreamed of making, but the dream has gone unfulfilled and the group is beginning to fall apart because of it. But this opportunity to film what promises to be the bloodiest gang battles in history. They have prayed to “The Film Gods” their entire lives, and it now seems that their prayers are answered. Director Hirata and his team tackle the project with a manic kind of glee as they rush about the battle with their eyes glued to their camera as blood, limbs, and heads fly the through the air and splash upon their smiling faces.

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I can honestly say it’s the most heartwarming and joyful bloodbaths I’ve ever witnessed in a movie. Everyone is willing to die for this project. Both gang bosses, their henchmen, Michiko, The Fuck Bombers, just to make this piece of cinema as true and spectacular as they feel it should be. And everything is amazing, that is until the fucking police show up (MPAA Ratings Board/Censorship?) and fuck it all up.

Why Don’t You Play in Hell is ludicrous, completely batshit crazy, brutally, cartoonishly violent and a jubilant celebration for the art of filmmaking. Filmmaker Sion Sono has captured perfectly the exhilaration and exasperation of going after any creative endeavor. There is love here for those who dare to dream and are waiting patiently for their moment to come. for their chance to speak through the cinematic medium. It’s impossible to not feel the excitement as hardened Yakuza gangsters become passionate and exacting about sound recording, as Hirata runs through thick puddles of blood, demanding reshoots as the people he’s making these requests to are actually being sliced to ribbons and as the cameramen redefine the art of “Shooting a Movie.”

There’s plenty of carnage candy in this blood encrusted cinematic odyssey, but there is an unmistakable depth of heart present throughout the proceedings. We genuinely care about life long friend, The Fuck Bombers, and their ambitions of making their movie dreams come true.  We find ourselves fully believing that Michiko’s toothpaste jingle could beguile generations of TV watchers including the rival gang’s leader who has been infatuated with her ever since.  It’s the fact that Why Don’t You Play in Hell and it’s wet, nasty, over the top action is grounded in believable, likeable, three dimensional characters that makes the ride of watching it so goddamn exhilirating. You’ll be cheering all the way to the final frame and even shocked to the point of tears by the fate of many of these characters. At least they all died battling for their art, their honor and their dreams. And this mixture of naive optimism and midnight movie bedlam leaves the viewer not only endeared to such shenanigans, but leaves you thirsty for more.

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For fans of not only Trash Cinema but the art of cinema itself,  Why Don’t You Play In Hell? is a flick you MUST SEE ON THE BIG SCREEN. It will knock you flat on your ass, hose you down with blood, then french kiss you with a mouth full of glass, and when it’s all over, you’ll wipe away the blood and beg to go through it again.  Trust me, it’s THAT fucking good.

I award Why Don’t You Play In Hell? 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.

chatterbox look

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.

chatterbox title

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

 

 

10
Jan
12

The Devil Inside: The Devil’s in the Dullness

a Primal Root written review

Man, The Blair Witch Project feels like it was ages ago…Well, here we are with another quickie cash in on the current super cheap “found footage” trend. This time instead of a ghost, alien or witch we’re dealing with the ever freaky prospect of exorcisms. A found footage concept that’s been done before recently and a bit better in 2010’s  “The Last Exorcism”.  Hey, at least that film managed to be even remotely entertaining for more than 5 minutes of it’s run time…

The Devil Inside is the story of a young woman looking to close a chapter in her life that’s plagued her since she was a child. Her mother’s condition which led her to slay three clergy members during her own exorcism. Mom was shipped off to Italy in order undergo treatment for her mental illness but her daughter Isabella isn’t so quick to rule out demonic possession.  This is the mock-doc of Isabella’s trip to Italy to visit her mother where she encounters real life exorcists who take her out on dates to watch them work their brand of incompetence on young ladies who can pop ‘n’ lock like none other! This is the true story of when demons stop being polite and start getting real…

"True Sto-RAAAAY!" obscure?

Long gone are the days of the possessed spewing bile into preachers faces, no, nowadays they are more likely to spray you copious amounts of vagina blood like fruit punch squeezed forth from the little straw pocking out of the top of a Hi-C juice box.  And that kind of shit is fun to watch. It’s freaky, it’s unnatural, and it is pretty gross (unless you’re into that sort of thing, in which case, this flick might get ya hot under the collar.) and it works. The strongest element of this film are these scenes of demonic possession and the battle to rid these folks of their hellish ailments. And these scenes are pretty captivating, the strongest of which, involves a priest performing a baptism on an infant.

The sad fact is, none of these scenes really mean much, because the filmmakers forgot the create interesting characters the audience could empathize with. Fernanda Andrade as Isabella seems completely void of emotion for the duration of the picture. During these intense, violent and over the top exorcism sequences (one of which involves her own mother) the camera every so often pans to Isabella for a reaction shot. And as the blood spews forth from splayed vaginas and priests that are as physically imposing as a five year old get tossed across rooms and into walls, Isabella’s typical reaction is utter boredom. This reaction pretty much sums up my reaction to the other 97% of The Devil Inside.

Dramatic recreation of the look on my face when "The Devil Inside" ended.

And in so lies the films ultimate weakness: dullness. There’s just nothing happening foe the majority of the film. We get some priests debating the whether exorcism is real or just mental illness (guess which debate wins out in the end!), people bickering, and montages of Isabella walking around Italy looking bored and uninterested.  Now, I can;t be sure where the fault should really lie for such a boring film. I mean, this is supposed to be a documentary film gone wrong, correct? Depressingly enough, the guy behind the camera never comes off as a competent filmmaker to begin with. So do we blame the fictional documentary filmmaker? IS he supposed to suck at his profession? Or is it the actual filmmakers themselves who can’t put together a thoughtful, exciting, engaging film on the subject of mental illness, family ties, faith and possession? Why waste such a potentially good story on the same tired formula that Paranormal Activity has exploited for three movies?

Because people eat this shit up for some reason. 1. Have nothing interesting happen for 45 minutes of screen time. 2. Insert a loud dog barked 3. Watch everyone jump and scream in shock as your film takes the bold step of having something actually happen4. Profit. This is fucking LAZY film making, people. This is the kind of thing that gives the horror genre such a bad name. And this is the kind of vacuous, meaningless, fast food offerings the mainstream horror audience is fed and they slurp up as if it’s filet mignon.  Mainstreamers, you have steadily acquired a taste for Grade-A dookie. Yes, you are being served heaping spoonfuls of shit.  There’s nothing interesting here. Nothing thoughtful or truly horrifying nor is there anything campy or fun about The Devil Inside. It simply exists with just about nothing to offer.

Despite some relatively strong performances from supporting players Simon Quarterman and Evan Helmuth as two young renegade exorcists who aid Isabella in her quest and Suzan Crowley as Isabella’s Mother,  Maria Rossi, who pretty much steals the show with every scene in which she appears. She, alone, nearly makes the film worth it. If only we had more time with her.  The film also kicks it into high gear towards the end of it’s running time where it even hints at becoming interesting.  Really. the final ten or fifteen minutes promise of some great rewards only for the movie to pull the rug out from under us and leave us with nothing but frustration and 90 minutes of out lives wasted.

I’m sure they are saving all that for the sequel, which is at this point certain, after this honking log of shit somehow managed to ingest 36 million dollars of hard earned dollars from the accounts of countless movie goers this past weekend despite terrible notices and an ad campaign that looked more like a warning. I guess it proves my old theory that pure evil always works when it’s far more subtle. Why drive the audience completely fucking insane with something truly horrific and mind altering when you can simply bore them to the point of  crying in uncontrollable sobs of pain and suffering for 10 bucks a head?

That, my friends, is the true face of The Devil…

Stay Trashy!

-Root




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