Posts Tagged ‘freak

21
Nov
15

The Funhouse (1981): The Reality of Horror

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a Primal Root written review

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Safety

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Reality

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

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

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

Stay Trashy!

-Root

09
Nov
13

V/H/S 2: Cassette Carnage

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a Primal Root review

Anthology movies, like Creepshow, Tales from the Darkside, and VHS, are so often a mixed bag of the mediocre, boring and sometimes genuinely outstanding,  which is why I am happy to report the majority of VHS 2 is a pretty horrific and entertaining ride. That is, if you can make it past the the wrap around segments which are just as dull as they were in the original VHS, and the very first story entitled “Phase 1 Clinical Trials” which is a cure for insomnia, you will be okay because it all picks up from there.

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See, in “Phase 1 Clinical Trials” we are shown the story of a young man who loses and eye and gets it replaced with a…bionic one that not only allows him to see, but records everything to a VHS recorder I’m assuming the doctors implanted up his ass. Now, why a hi-tech procedure like this would end up having the recordings of it’s clinical trial dubbed to something as defunct and rarely used as VHS is beyond me, but at least the 15:9 aspect ratio kind of makes sense, I guess. Anyhoo, the new allows this guy to see dead people meandering around his posh house out in the suburbs. He is befucked by a young woman who explains what going on and exposes her lovely tits in the process. Things go from bad, the worse, to I;m going to gouge my bionic eye out with a three pronged kitchen utensil because I’ve seen a couple ghosts over the span of 12 hours.   It’s dull/ Even by my standards, I just could not muster up the effort necissary to be interested, that is, until that fleeting moment when the read head takes her top off. Otherwise, this entry is on par with the wrap around, it fails to engage and feels like it’s there to fill up time. Eye implants have been done (Tobe Hooper’s segment in Body Bags, that terrible movie with Jessica Alba that featured a truly inspired title, etc.) and this one was not an impressive entry into that sub-genre.

DO NOT DESPAIR! I nearly did, too. Trust me, things get better.

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Goddamn zombies. Those fucking things are everywhere. Prime time television to baby bibs and lunch boxes, those undead fucks are as inescapable as Mickey Mouse and Ronald McDonald. Enter “A Ride Through the PArk” the story of a young gentleman who goes on, you guessed it, a ride through the park. Things take an interesting turn when a bloody and bitten young woman collapses onto his bike trail screaming for help. Our fellow goes into help her and gets his neck chomped for his trouble. Soon he dies and transforms into a shambling, bloody, undead zombi himself and is able to record his sticky, gruesome, blood soaked escapades via the camera attached to his helmet. What makes this entry somewhat interesting is the use of POV, it’s expected, but this is the first time I have seen it happen from a flesh eating corpses perspective and it actually proves to be an interesting and darkly comical experience.  Our protagonist undead biker guy ends up devouring a couple who stop to help him out, transforming them into zombies in the process. Things hit a high note as soon as the zombies meander upon a little girls birthday party in the park. It’s one of the funniest and wildest moments in a franchise that has seemed overwhelmingly beholden to the morose and ugly. Sure, this is tragic, but my God, it’s fun watching parents scatter and children scream as they flee into the woods and mini-vans.  The zombies are doing their jobs and doing them well as the living  constantly fuck up, you know,m throwing baseball bats at creatures intent on stripping the flesh from your bones rather than hanging on to it, you know the type. Well, some of our undead biker’s humanity still remains and it leads to a sad and, again, guiltily comical finale. This entry has energy, creativity and is a hoot AND a holler. When I found out Eduardo Sanchez directed this puppy, it made me all the happier. The man was half the creative mind that brought us 1999’s “The Blair Witch Project” which helped blaze a trail for all the found footage horror film that followed. He’s also had a hand in numerous damn fine horror and sci-fi films over the past decade or so under the radar. It only makes sense that he would join The Collective who brought us he VHS franchise. Well done, sir!

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“Safe Haven” may just be my favorite short film in this batch. It tells the story of a a news crew doing an investigative piece about an Indonesian cult. The leader of this cult is small, wide eyes fellow who, it is implied, sleeps with all the little girls in his cult so that they may be “purified.” At the cult’s headquarters, which are located far off in the sticks, the news crew is thrust headlong into a very important ceremony for this cult. The tension swells as we the viewers know this is not going to end well for anyone. This segment keeps you on your toes to the very end, turns every convention on it’s head, and manages to actually be shocking and horrific in it’s Jim Jones styled story. It’s no surprise, seeing as it was directed by Gareth Evans, the gentleman who delivered one of the best, bobe crushing, martial arts films in sometime “The Raid: Redemption” in 2011. The man understand staging, suspense building and character payoff. “Safe Haven” is one very strong, stiff drink and  I don’t want to spoil a damn thing, you really need to see this short.

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And the final segment “Slumber Party Abduction” is another entry that manages to knock it right out of the park. This entry involves a step brother and sister spending a weekend together as their parents head out of town for a vacation. The older sister invites her arrogant boyfriend over and the younger brother invited his buds and all manner of hijinks ensue.  There are water balloons, interrupted sex acts and masturbation caught on doggie cam. It’s a ll pretty sophomoric and stupid as this kind of shit always is, but THANKFULLY there’s some insidious shit going down that the hardly register to the kids until it’s literally right outside their door. What we end up with a siege film caught on tape and once the chaos begins, the action and horror never lets up until the final, frenetic moment.  you know how the second tale was told from the zombie perspective? This tale is told almost entirely from “Doggie Cam” since the dog has had a waterproof camera attached to his head. The poor little dog, Tank, captures every last terrifying moment on tape and ends this episode on a brilliant, downbeat and heartbreaking note.  Jason Eisner takes advantage of his set up by presenting terror through the eyes of several helpless children and their pint sized pooch. The kids are very natural and easy to believe, and once the shit hits the fan, each loss is felt. Damn fine piece of horror film making.

And then the movie ends with the shitty, uninspired conclusioon to the wrap around story which involves murder, crab walking, a bloody, wagging tongue and a well times thumbs up.  Come on guys, give me a fucking break.

At the end of the day. VHS2 is an upgrade over the original anthology which almost felt like an excuse to expose an ample amount of female flesh rather than present any truly affecting horror stories. Three out of four stories are solid gold which is more than I could have ever hoped for. I was braced for  disappointment and found myself surprised and fairly impressed.  It cool to have a new anthology franchise out there, especially one to feature found footage, it seems like the possibilities are limitless and could produce more great horror stories and bring unappreciated filmmakers some well earned limelight.

3 1/2 out of 5 Dumpster Nuggets. Worth checking out!

Stay Trashy!

-Root

10
Dec
12

V/H/S: Found Footage Feast of Fear

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a Primal Root review

V/H/S is one of those lucky horror entries who’s sails get caught up in a wind of hype and praise from the horror community, a community ravenous for something worth a damn in this genre that, when not about people eating other people’s shit or featuring a cast made almost entirely of guests from the current horror convention circuit getting torn into chunks by a mad man, is remaking films from decades past and transforming masterpieces into dumbed down fodder for the masses.  So ravenous are they, that V/H/S has become the toast of the community at the moment. Over hyped? Maybe a bit. But V/H/S sure is a fun little anthology film.

Basically, V/H/S, is a found footage horror anthology period piece. It tells six separate tales by different filmmakers all taking place in the mid to late 1990’s.  It’s about two hours of none stop shaky cam footage that will give ‘The Blair Witch Project’ a run for it’s money in stomach churning motion sickness department.

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The central wrap around story of V/H/S features a group of college age hooligans and criminals who tape their Jackass inspired shenanigans and sell them to online distributors. Now, who would pay good money to watch a bunch of twenty something assholes break the windows of abandoned houses and sexually assault random women to show their bare breasts in parking garages is beyond me. But these jerks, the rapist criminals, are our protagonists.  We follow them as these scumbags as they are sent by a mysterious party to break into the residence of an elderly man and retrieve a tape. Easy enough, right? HA! Wrong! If it were that easy we wouldn’t have a fucking movie!

Bizarrely enough, these bros find what looks to be the old man’s lifeless corpse upstairs in a recliner with several TVs flickering snowy static in front of him and surrounded by mountains of VHS tapes. Seems they have their work cut out for them.  So, as these jerk-o’s have never seen a horror movie before, they decide to split up and leave one man behind to review tapes. This feels like the flimsiest of premises, but I’ll take it. Not sure if this even warrants a *SPOILER ALERT*, but the old guy ain’t so lifeless.

Let us get to our TALES OF TERROR!

*SPOILER AHEAD! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!* I will try to keep things as vague as possible, but the basic premise and plot points to many of these stories might be spoiled if you read the below synopsis. Just a heads up.

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First up:

‘Amateur Night’ tells the tale of a trio of guys who strap one of their buddies up with a pair of now-trendy, ‘Revenge of the Nerds’ spectacles equipped with a hidden camera as they head out to enjoy a night of drunken debauchery and date rape. The three central male figures all come off as totally legit, obnoxious, collegiate horn dogs who generously rent the seediest of hotel rooms for taking advantage of the two drunken young ladies they’ve picked up. Honestly, the behavior of these young men is far more disturbing, in my opinion, than what happens to them. They gather around, dicks out and at the ready for gang banging, but as they soon realize that the one they undress, a troubling, mousy “girl” with wide creepy eyes, matted dreads, and a nervous way about her, is something they couldn’t have ever imagined. Out of all the tales in V/H/S, this may possibly be my favorite as it utilizes the hand-held, “found footage” aspect in a clever way and beautifully illustrates how being a completely loathsome, gutter-feeding, tool can literally bite you on the ass. These are the type of dudes who seek power and validation that they have penises via lording control over women, but in the end, they get a horrific taste of what it’s like to be on the receiving end of someone (something) else looking for validation. One of the cherries on this blood-soaked cake, is in the pretty awesome and grueling final chase scene climax that film-makers of ‘Amateur Night’ managed to put forth. Ultimately, this story works because it doesn’t shy away from its racy subjects of desire, power-mongering, and douchery comeuppance dealing with everything directly, brutally, and unflinchingly.

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‘Second Honeymoon’

These two are married? How old are they, 23? And they are on their second honeymoon? Eh. Okay… This one tells the story of a (very) young married couple driving through the desert. That’s pretty much it. It was strange to find out these two are married since they come across as an awkward, unlikable couple who don’t seem to get one another and might have just started dating a couple months ago. The wife is creating a video diary of their road-trip, which, as we watch it in it’s uncut form, comes off as more of a negative comment card than a tribute to their affectionate good times. She does little more than whip the camera about and complain about where she is and what she’s doing. Yeah, this is the woman you wanna travel with. Her husband is just as unbearable. Anyway, she gets her fortune read for a buck by a redneck buckaroo version of the Zoltan machines at an old west tourist trap, and it makes mention of reuniting with a loved one. That very night a strange woman knocks on their motel room door in the dead of night asking for a ride in the morning. Who is she? What does she want? Why does she like breaking into hotel rooms, filming folks with their own cameras, poking people in the butt with her switchblade, and pulling lame, elementary school pranks on them while they sleep? Who knows! Sure, it builds some much-desired tension, but the stories’ load is blown a bit prematurely, and doesn’t have much weight as it is as we don’t know these characters very well and from what we do gather of them we don’t like, anyway. The story ends leaving the audience hanging with their questions, which is just fine.  These people are dull, and you’ll probably be ready to move on.

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‘Tuesday the 17th’ is a cool concept where a young woman takes some of her friends out to the woods where, in the past, she had encountered a Jason-esque killer who brutally murdered her buddies. Only thing is, he is either invisible and can only be seen through the video camera’s view finder or he is actually conjured to life via the actual presence of the video camera. It is never explained, but the effect of the killer as a humanoid shape appearing on the tape in scratchy glitches, a visual distortion, works well and is pretty damn eerie. The presentation of this killing specter is this story’s greatest asset.  It’s an idea worthy of a feature-length movie but, as it is, the whole thing comes off as a tired Friday the 13th clone as the love-child of Jason Voorhess and ‘The Ring”s Samara stalks down some dumb, canned-character kids in the woods. Despite a cool set up, the story rushes to it’s conclusion and falls apart, as a result. I can’t help but wonder what it could have been had it been fleshed out.

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‘The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Young’ is an intriguing story about a long-distance relationship taking place over video chat as our heroine experiences a haunting and some kind of mystery growth under her arm… It’s a nifty little ‘Outer Limits’  style yarn that’s relatively satisfying. I couldn’t help but wonder how great this story would have been if captured in the format of a normal film narrative as opposed to found footage. Our main girl is remarkably sweet, likeable, and attractive with a vulnerable but outgoing quality to her. Although her beau says he’s working out-of-area for his business, we cannot help but wonder about the nature of this curious long-distance relationship. Does anyone else sense some early commentary possibly co-dependence, manipulation, and abuse in the relationship? I wouldn’t put it past this one as all motives are made clear by story’s end. As it featured a great leading lady  who didn’t annoy the ever-loving shit out of me, ‘The Sick Thing’ was a nice change of pace.

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‘10.31.98’ is right up there with ‘Amateur Night’, vying as a favorite of the anthology. Four surprisingly charming and likable college age fellows, one dressed as a Nanny Cam (teddy bear with a built in camera. CLEVER!), traverse across town to find the Halloween party they were invited to. When they finally come to the address where the party is rumored to be it seems the house is empty, but as they investigate they find they most certainly are not alone. These guys walk into a situation with no frame of reference, expecting the light-hearted frivolity, and come out with the worst possible scenario imaginable. Once they come across what appears to be a damsel in freaky distress the story explodes into an effects-heavy, supernatural nightmare, and works better in its brief running time than all the ‘Paranormal Activity’ films combined.  Matters escalate in the blink of an eye and the guys react with righteous bravery, putting their lives in peril to save a young woman whose life seems to be on the line. This welcomes us to one of the most well-played shocks of the whole film. These guys aren’t out to take advantage of anyone, they don’t act like drooling, poon-hounds. It’s Nice Guys vs. Pure Evil delivering chuckles, anxiety, and, by story’s end, pure terror closing V/H/S out on a high note.

Oh, and the ineffective, brain-dead wrap around of the original tape-retrieval asscapade? Well, they all die. The End.

*END SPOILERS!*

In the final analysis I enjoyed V/H/S, despite myself.  It’s got a bit of everything, post-modern horror, supernatural, psychological serial killer, the whole shebang. It’s almost like a sampler case featuring several of horror’s most beloved sub genres, and when these stories are at their best (see: ‘Amateur Night’, ‘10.31.98’)  they work pretty damn well. At their worst, they still have some cool ideas to dig into (see: ‘Tuesday the 17th’, ‘Second Honeymoon’).

V/H/S proved to be an entertaining collaborative experiment that spins some imaginative tales.  By no means a masterpiece, V/H/S is a creepy excursion into the macabre, the supernatural and the rewindable.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

01
Nov
12

Rotten Review Ep. 26: Halloween Night

Hey Gang,

 The Primal Root is back and this Halloween evening he is met by a strange, silent fellow who presents him with a mysterious Halloween PArty invite…one that leads him back to the Video 21 porn closet and into a world unlike any he has ever visited before!
 While there, Root takes a look at the 2006 straight to video slasher picture ‘Halloween Night’ which is about a man who suffers a deeply disturbing trauma as a child and grows up to be a psychotic killer who escapes from the mental ward and heads home to kill off a bunch of college age frat boy assholes who are throwing the worst Halloween Party you could ever imagine and featuring the worst planned prank ever conceived. But it’s okay, because 95% of the female cast gets topless. So that’s a plus.
 So join The Primal Root in his latest Rotten Review Adventure into a dark kinky underworld orgy and checks out another terrible Trash Cinema classic!

Stay Trashy! and Happy Halloween!

-Root

17
May
12

Gorotica: Coldcocked (1993)

a Primal Root review

Ah, yes, after scraping the glorious  dregs of  the Trash Cinema dumpster and coming up with 1990’s “Gorgasm: The Ultimate Climax”, it is time we move on to Hugh Gallagher’s 1993 second installment in the much maligned, enjoyed by some, despised by other, Gore Trilogy entitled “Gorotica!” Get ready, gang, cause this one’s going to leave you feeling a little dirtier than our last flick, if you can believe it.

“Gorotica” spins the tale of two band mates, Neil (Dingo Jones) and Max (Bushrude Gutterman), who pull an armed diamond heist in order to score the funds necessary to send their band to California in the hopes of making it big! It’s a really shitty plan. Max has sold Neil on it, but being a leatherclad, crappy guitar-playing punk rock kid in your late 20’s, your whole life is more or less defined by a long string of shitty moves and really stupid decisions.  So why not orchestrate a diamond heist so you can move to California for your already flaccid music career?

Speaking of The Grateful Dead…

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Before the action even gets going, “Gorotica’s” opening sequence features Carrie (Ghetty Chasun), a curvy, pierced up, well endowed goth chick, as she lays in bed watching a compilation of still shots of dead bodies at various crime scenes and masturbating. Sure, this all seems normal,  that is until she pulls a skull out from under her bed and rubs it up and down against her exposed vagina.  I watched this as a kid and had the distinct feeling this was actually how goth girls who never grew out of it spent their time. As I got older, I came to realize  I wasn’t that far off.  It’s only after Carrie has shown off her ample bongos, tried to shove a skull up her love tunnel, and knocked a totally different skull  off the top of her television set with her intense, rhythmic, masturbatory gyrations & gushing climax, do our credits begin to roll!

Opening Credits by Atari

Alright, so we first meet pseudoheroes Neil and Max post robbery as they run down a dark alley, stop to catch their breath, and discuss what their next move should be. Seeing as they robbed the store in their every day attire, you know, torn jeans, plaid shirts, leather jackets and ratty haircuts, the police know just who to look for. Hell, the morons didn’t even wear fucking masks when they robbed the place! So, it stands to reason that Max would come up with the idea of swallowing  the fist sized diamond they stole for safe keeping and chase with half a handle of bourbon. I don’t even want to imagine what Max’s poor sphincter will be going through when that girl’s best friend passes the threshold. The depressing concoction of blood, tears, and shit is never something I like to comprehend, let alone experience in anyway.

Thankfully, we never have to see this happen as some police officer happens down the exact same alley demanding the two young men freeze. Max pulls out a gun and he and copper exchange warm bullet welcomes, rendering both cop & kid as flat-liners. The police officer dies instantly from his gut shot while Max, on the other hand, survives but is left in critical condition which means we get the pleasure of hearing him whine and groan for the next several minutes as Neil enters a comic relief sequence where he steals a drunk old man’s car.  The comic scene plays out like a when you try to fart in order to make someone laugh and then you realize it was a lot wetter than you anticipated and you’ve now shit yourself. It goes from funny to tragic in less than a second.  Yeah, it’s that kind of failure.

Gotta look good for those dead bodies I’m gonna be digging up this mid-afternoon!

So, Neil heads off to the local cemetery with his newly dead band mate to lay low for a little bit, and maybe catch a few well-deserved Zzz’s. But guess who happens to be there… SURPRISE! SURPRISE! It’s Carrie! Who has come to the cemetery after an extensively gratuitous make-up sequence, which is obviously just an excuse for the filmmakers to showcase her supernaturally giant knockers, in order to gather some fresh stiffs to fuck.  As luck would have it this star-crossed love triangle crosses paths and Carrie introduces herself to the hot and cold duo, Neil and Max, and the rest is history. She offers Neil a place to hide and stash Max’s body for a bit until he sorts things out.  I mean, it’s mighty neighborly of Carrie but the fact that Neil isn’t immediately weirded out is a little sad to me. But, again, this guy doesn’t seem to be firing on all cylinders so I guess we can just use that as his excuse.

That a dead guy in your bucket seat or are you just happy to see me?

As soon as Carrie and Neil get to her place and they drop off Max’s body in her bathtub, Neil gets on the horn and contacts his connection, Miss Miles, who set the plan for this whole half-baked heist motion and promised cold, hard cash if they brought her the ice.  Course, now that there’s a dead cop in the mix and Captain Bumblefuck is on the FBI’s shit list this ice is now “too hot”, so the situation’s changed a bit. Neil heads out on foot and runs afoul of some very angry police officers looking for his “cop killing ass”. He is held at gunpoint by one officer in civilian garb whose face spastically alters moment to moment like some kind of rodent on speed. The mustache is the icing on his ballistic cake.

This officer’s most dignified facial expression.

However, Neil gets the drop on the two cops by using his patented “Flying Rat” method! As the popo flings Neil into a pile of garbage he retaliates by grabbing some poor, bystander rat and slings the littler dumpster diver at one of the cops! Eat Temptleton, pigs!!  And this… works?  In terror, the cop discharges his weapon which, luckily, finds purchase right between the eyes of his fellow law enforcement pal. Neil quickly draws his weapon firing several slugs into the gutty works of rodent boy who drops to the piss soaked asphalt and fades into B-movie heaven. Good night, sweet prince!  You know, for being so unlucky Neil sure is lucky…Wait a minute…

It’s hard out here for a punk.

While Neil is off getting his face bashed in and throwing rats all over the joint, Carrie is back at her abode fucking the living daylights…er, what’s left of the daylights, out of dear, departed, Max. She undresses his body in the shower and gets to work grabbing his pale arms and caressing herself with them and puppeting his fingers to pinch her nipples. If you ask me, this just seems like some really labor-intensive masturbation. I mean, really, for all the effort of moving the fucking corpse appendages and waiting for rigor mortis to settle in the damn thing’s sausage link you could be done already by just using YOUR OWN APPENDAGES to get this shit done. But, what do I know, I’ve only dabbled in necrophilia. I’m sure once it’s blossomed from experimentation to a serious, full blown addiction, your own touch just doesn’t cut it, anymore. No matter how much ice cold water you soak them in beforehand, the vag just ain’t buyin it.

Necrophilia: Not as easy as it looks.

Anyhoo, after the marathon cold-cut fuck session, Carrie decides to put that almost-cosmetology license to good use and treats Max’s corpse to mohawk makeover. All of a sudden, a bruised-up Neil busts in and is soon unnerved by his lady harborer’s glee that,”He’s starting to stiffen up! All the really good parts! *tee-HEE*” After a brief, one-sided discussion on Neil’s part explaining just how fucked his situation is and how events have “snowballed” he goes off to the crusty living room couch to crash. Carrie, on the other hand, takes the Maxcadaver to bed with her and discusses her family history with him while smoking Pall Malls, then deciding it’s time for another lengthy deep dicking of the dead.  Well, damn.  I guess it DOES pay to just sit and listen. Neil tries to drown out the disturbingly loud & squishy goth girl necrophiliac noises with couch cushions, firmly deciding,”When I die, I better be fucking cremated!” Because, yeah, heaven for-fucking-bid some gorgeously breasted babe makes use of your body once you’ve departed. I mean, what the hell do you care? Like you’re really doing anything better with it!

Something for the ladies! And the smokers!

The next morning Neil wakes up to find Carrie moving Max’s body out of the apartment. Ummmm… Seems she has other plans for his rotting flesh. It goes without saying, Neil has a bit of an issue with this seeing as in his buddy’s cold, punctured gut sits that gigantic rock that’s the difference between living life on the lam, soaking up some sun in Kokomo or life on the lam bunking in a nicotine stained, musty apartment with a corpse fucker. They get into a bit of a tussle in which Neil seems to have the upper hand after delivering a very slow kung-fu kick to Carrie’s mid-section sending her flipping up and over her Goodwill, filth encrusted love seat.  Oh, and manages to flash us all her whole fruit basket in the process! But the tables turn as Carrie grabs a nearby fuck-skull and smashes it over  Neil’s head. Before he goes unconscious Carrie forbiddingly quips,”I’m sure when you come to you’ll see things my way. You’ll have no choice! *MANIACAL LAUGH*.” Kinda makes you think he’s going to wake up trapped in a coffin being buried alive, but instead, he just wakes up in the apartment, but Carrie’s left with his pal’s body. He’s not tied up or anything, sooooo, yeah. Neil just leaves.

NEIL DOWN BEFORE CARRIE!

Where did Carrie take Max’s remains, you ask? Well, she spiked up his mohawk and took the guy over to the abode of a flamboyant fellow named Blake. You know, the kind of guy who wears puffy armed shirts and capes. He’s in the market for a dead guy to fuck because he has AIDS (!) and wants to have a partner he can ride bareback. Nice to see people play it safe, I guess. Seems he’s purchased cadavers from Carrie before, but never one this fresh. Lucky dog Blake and corpse-pushing Carrie haggle over the price a bit before agreeing on a deal and Blake gets to town riding his new, well broken in, dead fuck mate. But that’s not all! He throws in some more cash for Carrie and hands her what looks like a trash bag to wear with a holes cut into it so her tits hang out of it and then hands her a whip so she can go all Roots on him whilst he rides Max’s Hershey Highway to Hell. I’m sure this was meant to be disturbing but I cannot help but laugh at Gorotica’s grandiose attempt at being provocative and deeply disturbing. Sorry, gang, but this shit is comedic gold.

Joe Don Baker and Edward Norton share a tender moment.

Somehow, nitwit Neil is able to track Blake’s place down (…?), and with gun drawn he barges through the door and claims the body of Max in name of Asshole. What follows is an action-packed finale where Carrie busts out her Indi Jones moves and disarms Neil with a crack of her whip! Neil stabs Blake to death getting the guy’s blood all in his mouth, eyes, and up his nose in the process thereby, in all likelihood, ensuring that he’s contracted HIV/AIDS. Carrie, who can see the bright side of everything, points at the guy, explains his now very topical 90’s doomed dileama, and laughs her ass off. You gotta admit, it is pretty funny. Neil doesn’t quite see the humor in it and blows Carrie away. He FINALLY cuts Max’s stomach open and locates the hidden diamond within. Hastily giving the diamond an unnecessary tongue bath (ew), Neil heads to some seedy motel where he shaves his head into a Travis Bickle style mohawk, douses himself with gasoline and booze, and waits for Miss Miles splayed naked in bed. Miss Miles shows up, gets an eye full, comments on the strong smell of GASOLINE in the motel room and still, as Neil sits on the edge of his bed and put a cigarette to his lips, gives him a light upon request thereby sealing both their fates. Or so I assume as whatever happens after she flicks the Bic happens off camera.

And so ends, Hugh Gallagher’s  bizarre, unintentionally comical, mildly boner inducing, low budget horror cult sophomore effort, “Gorotica”!

Immolating oneself is sooooo erotic! Excuse me, Gorotic. A. Gorotica. 😉

I’ve heard the hand full of fans of this series call Gorotica a huge disappointment after Gorgasm because this follow up doesn’t feature any of the gore the title promises. Personally, I’m really okay with this because Gorotica is a far better movie, if you ask me. The acting’s better, the streamlined, MILDLY believable story doesn’t just kind of make sense, it’s actually relatively coherent!  Sure, there’s not much gore in this second entry in the trilogy, but that’s a moot point when you have such goofy story that hunkers down and takes a little bit of time to tell it’s terribly trashy tale. It’s not a good movie, at all, but it feels like Gallagher has grown a little bit as a video maker. Not a whole lot, I mean, the man’s no Scorsese, but he doesn’t over reach. It’s a small scale story that can be handled on the cheap and doesn’t have an over reliance of effects the man has never been able to pay t have pulled of at all effectively.

The performances are uniformly bad, but you know what, they’re a damn sight better than the performances in “Gorgasm.” Gutterman makes an outstanding corpse, to be honest, rivaling Kim Basinger in tom Petty’s Last Dance with Mary Jane video. In my opinion,  the glue that holds this thing together? Ghetty Chasun as Carrie. She may not be a great actress, but she has plenty of charisma, is always game for whatever is thrown her way in the film, doesn’t mind showing off her goods and is pretty easy on the eyes, which you can’t really say about the lead in “Gore Whore”, Gallagher’s final installment in the Gore Trilogy. It’s always fun watching Ghetty Chasun on screen, whether it’s mingling with an AIDS infected necrophiliac wearing a cape or putting out her cigarette in an ashtray balanced on a naked dead guy’s chest, I just can’t keep my eyes off of her.

Desperately Seeking Ghetty. We miss you!

What the Hell ever happened to Ms. Chasun, anyway? She did a handful of flicks in the 90’s and then just kind of vanished off the face of the earth. IMDB lists her birth date, her measurements,  (36C-29-38 according to the experts) and that she’s a Capricorn. If anyone has any information as to how Ghetty’s doing or if she’d be interested in doing an interview, drop your pal The Primal Root a line, will ya?

Gorotica is a more mature and more refined offering from Gallagher (which isn’t saying much) and if you can get past the fact that there simply isn’t that much GORE in GORotica, this flick’s actually a pretty fun piece of stinky Trash Cinema. And in this Trash Cinema Connoisseur’s eyes, Gorotica is the strongest flick in the Trilogy. But, it could just be my unhealthy crush on Ms. Chasun talking…

Stay Trashy!

-Root


11
May
12

Gorgasm: The Ultimate Climax

a Primal Root review

Over the course of my lifetime I’ve come to realize a man happens upon many milestones. Moments in this life that stand out above all others as life altering.  Experiences that leave you stunned, silent, and with the deep realization that you are a changed man and you…will never be the same again.  I had one such moment my sophomore year of high school when I trekked to Video 21 and, after an exhaustive blind search of the Cult section,  I emerged to head to the check out counter with a trio of films that were about to not only solidify my adoration for all things sleazy, cheap, low budget and trashy, but would also cast my love of this most despised of genres in bronze ensuring my love would last a lifetime.

Sorry, I realize that last part sounds like an add for Precious Moments Baby Shoe Bronzing. Stick with me.

I took home a trilogy of films written, produced and directed by Hugh Gallagher that I have grown to dub “The Gore Trilogy.” It’s a series of three woefully  inept, shot on video horror films that have no thematic connection besides the talent behind the camera and their creative penchant for finding new ways to use the word “Gore” in all their titles.  These films are Gorgasm (1990), Gorotica (1993) and Gore Whore (1994).

In the Trial of The Primal Root vs. Misspent Youth, your honor, may we enter into evidence Exhibit A.

Let it be stated, I had no idea what exactly I was walking into with this trio of grainy, poorly made,  laughably bad, sexually freakish videos, but I believe they are part of what shaped me into the demented Trash Cinema lover that I am today.  Now, well over a decade later, I feel it is time to once again take a look at Hugh Gallagher’s  video legacy and share the slimy, mind boggling oddities that make up “The Gore Trilogy”.

First up, Hugh’s directorial debut, the aptly named “Gorgasm: The Ultimate Climax”.

Our hero, ladies and gentlemen!

Our film begins with the rarest of horror movie standards, the opening soliloquies! Which has no real bearing on the story at hand other than introducing us to our eternally greasy, bug eyed, sports coat donning hero,  Chase played by Rik Billock, who I was shocked to learn has a rather impressive filmography that includes parts in films like George Romero’s Stephen King adaptation “The Dark Half” and the late Bill Hinzman’s “Flesheater”.  He shares such soul searching deep thoughts as “Religion prepares us for death. Why didn’t anyone prepare me for life?” from behind a lit cigarette, and gets so damned into his little diatribe that he nearly busts out into community theater style tears by monologue’s end.  Again, this is about a five minute spoken word performance right at the beginning of the movie that has nothing to do with ANYTHING that follows. Now this is how you reel an audience in!

Okay, well, maybe the opening title card is a better was to make sure your audience stays in their seat.

Oh man! they just gave away the whole plot!

Soon enough we are introduced to homicidal call girl and power tool enthusiast, Tara, brought to ever-loving life by fully stacked actress, Gabriela, who only has three other films to her credit after her leading role in “Gorgasm” and two of them reference anal penetration in their titles. Basically,  Tara is a high priced call girl who spreads her message through personal ads in scuzzy adult magazines offering “Gorgasm: The Ultimate Climax”.  What service does she provide, you ask? Well, for every dime you have, Tara will come over, tie you up, spin in circles while wearing cheesy Spencer’s Gifts style lingerie. She will then reveal her gargantuan breasts for you to ogle before she brutally murders you!

In fact, our first scene in the film proper is one such business transaction as she spins about, in what looks to be my Grandmother’s kitchen circa 1985, in front of a hairy, sweaty man bound and gagged to a lovely antique dining room table. Tara kicks it up a notch as she begins blasting her cassette tape of the obscure, high energy tune, “Sex Toy”, pops her melons out of the chute and cuts off her neglige with an apparently very dull butcher knife.  Her customer doesn’t seem to mind.

I feel good about myself!

He doesn’t even seem to mind when she begins slicing into his midsection with that big knife of hers, and when I say he doesn’t mind, I mean he doesn’t even flinch as the blade draws large drips of blood with each slash across the man’s chest and gratuitous beer belly.  In all honesty, the captive, paying client looks almost bored at this point. Shit, he doesn’t even register a reaction when Tara eventually approaches from behind,  drapes her ample rack around his bright red neck, like one of those Air Mall stress pillow deal, before hacking his jugular wide open! The fella’s head tips forward and that’s it! Gone! Scianora!  Obviously, money well spent.

Detective Chase, who works in a police station that was apparently built by the wood paneling commission of Illinois, is introduced to us officially as the bottom of the barrel desk dwelling detective no one wants to actually put on a case. Seems he’s more valuable to the force as a paperwork drone.  To his amazement, Sarge (played by mulleted and minimalist actress Paula Hendrix in her one and only screen credit) brings the case involving the throat slashing incident to his desk and asks him to take the lead! Chase is overjoyed until he’s informed it’s only until Detective Sanchez recovers from a cold or something. What I’m saying is that this is temporary. But this doesn’t stop chase from giving the case everything he’s got!

I’d be remiss if I didn’t make mention of the strange little subplot starring filmmaker Hugh Gallagher’s wife, Paula Gallagher, as Nicole, a woman whose boyfriend wants her to beat him up and sodomize him. She calls him a pervert, breaks up with him, and then plants her knee into his man bits giving him what he probably wanted, anyway. As he drops to the floor sobbing and nursing his jollies, she rushes out the door and back to work at the local Winn-Dixie where she seeks solace in co-worker and possible crypt keeper, Connie (Debbie Patterson). Nicole is convinced by Connie that she might just like kicking the crap out of her weasel of a boyfriend and by the time Nicole returns home she is decked out head to toe in fetish gear looking to enter her fellas fantasy kingdom.

Nicole gets a lesson in love at the local Winn-Dixie supermarket. They are the self proclaimed “Beef People”, after all.

Only she is too late! Her boyfriend has called up Tara and her Gorgasmic services which Nicole walks in on just in time to catch Tara in bed with her man and tearing meaty chunks out of his throat with an industrial weed whacker (!) Now, Nicole could have totally escaped this scenario as Tara is so caught up in her work she doesn’t even notice the near-naked, towering, leathery skinned blonde woman who just walked into the room. Sadly, Nicole trips over the weed whacker chord thereby alerting Tara to her presence.  It is only after a very close call with the Tara and her weed whacker of death in the bathroom that Nicole goes for the escape only to trip over her super woman stilettos and sealing her fate. Tara gets down to the nitty gritty and starts choking a bitch.  What really makes this scene work is how Tara tells Nicole how she gets paid “good money” to do this and NOT TO WORRY! “I won’t charge you for this.” This plot thread is worth mentioning because it is never brought up again. The crime scene is never discovered and no one even talks about it. Then again, you look at the police force we’re dealing with, and it’s hard to believe that this is a plot hole.

The Porn Industries’ Seedy Underbelly Welcomes You! In fact, this guy might be my favorite character in the whole movie. No lie.

Chase’s investigation takes him to the seedy underbelly of the porn industry in Hamel Illinois as the detective follows leads to understocked adult stores for lengthy montages of his shopping spree, grotesque XXX film producers who seem to have some form of Downs Syndrome intermingling with  Tourettes, and even to the blood-drenched aftermath of one of Tara’s “Gorgasm” get togethers. One of the better ones, too! This is the aftermath of her most Jigsaw-esque slaying which involved a rope attached to a garage door opener and then tied around some asshole’s neck. At the scene of the crime Sarge calls this  “A brilliant device.” Lady, it’s a garage door opener and a rope. Come on.

What a magnificent device! I’ve never seen anything like this! This woman’s a GENIUS!

During this murder sequence Tara opens up to her next victim and openly discusses her deceased husband who was a”beautiful” man and enjoyed being pushed to the very limits of pleasure and pain. However, it’s a one-sided conversation as her victim is gagged and cannot respond at all to Tara’s sad story of how her husband liked to be whipped repeatedly and have his balls stomped upon. The typical story of star-crossed lovers. In fact, Tara even as a creepy dummy she keeps suspended from the ceiling of her lair of sexual evils that she talks to and calls “sweetheart”. She also practices her lashing skills on the thing.

Don’t think for a second Tara doesn’t have a softer side, though. A hidden part of her personality is revealed in a sequence that comes out of left field in which Tara drives out to a sewage retention pond near a busy overpass to bask in the sun and frolic in nature amongst the rusty discarded beer cans and crunchy used condoms. She spots a rotting romance novel as she gazes over an abandoned, rotten motel, and reads a passage about tender, gentle love that moves her to pick up a red-faced, mulleted youth and fuck him in a motel room. Now that’s romance! Anyhoo, she whips out the hooters, kind of gets near him and then backs off only to break his neck and fondle his dead penis. I guess the lady knows what she likes.  Highlight of this scene, and the reason I even brought it up, is when the actor playing the seduced youth hops into bed he unintentionally bashes his noggin against the head board with an audible “CRAUNCH”. He can’t play it off, let’s out an anguished “ARRGGHH!” before rubbing his head in pain, and then settling down for the loving he’s sure is coming right around the corner. I’m sure this guy just reeks of Miller High Life and Slim Jims.

I don’t feel “brain damage” is much of a concern in this guy’s case.

Just as Chase is making some headway on the “Gorgasm” case he is pulled off of it as Sanchez has fully recovered from his slight cough and Chase swears he will make them all pay! Yeah, the only people who will be paying is the audience who must endure a slow motion dream sequence of his in which he wears a super tiny black pair of underoos and seduces a handcuffed Tara in his living room before slugging her in the face.  Out of all the visuals in “Gorgasm” the only one that haunts me is seeing Chase nearly nude and trying to be sexy while coated in a thing layer of perspiration and nicotine, his thinning blonde hair in greasy disarray and his bugged-out eyes starring into my soul. I’ve seen countless horror films and, to my dismay, this is the image that’s haunted my nightmares for over a decade.

Enough about me, Chase decides to take matters into his own hands, contacts Tara through a personal add, and sets up a “combat” date where only one will leave alive. Of course Tara is totally down with this, but how they both know the dress code of this engagement without ever discussing it has me wondering if this movie has a very subtle supernatural underpinning to it.  How else do you explain Chase wearing a camouflaged  shirt & slacks combo and Tara showing up in a fetching matched camou bikini? Really, what better way to blend in with a middle class suburban living room? Maybe they both just have similar fashion sense? Either way, I guess it illustrates just how similar these two characters are. Or something…?

Tara and Chase: A lot alike? I see two BIG differences right off the bat.

They lock eyes, Chase draws his gun, Tara draws her machete, and the combat is on! Immediately Tara loses her top so she has to spend the rest of the chase bouncing her large breasts all over the screen as she runs from the equally floppy Detective Chase. Tara runs for the garage to hide which leads to one of the funniest moments of the entire film. Chase, gun in hand, slowly walks into the garage, hand first, now knowing Tara is hiding right next to the door on the opposite side with her trusty machete raised high above her head.  In a split second Chase loses both his weapon and hand to the evil call girl! He soon passes out as his nemesis stares him down, no doubt figuring out her next move…In the end, it takes both characters to a fate neither one could have seen coming. Although the audience probably did. Let’s just say there are some mind blowing reveals and guns going off in the place you’d ever want them to go off.

Shock? Pain? Or does he smell Alpo?

Let’s just say, by the end of “Gorgasm” there are no clear winners. Hell, there’s really no clear nice guy or bad guy! Everyone is up to no good. I suppose, in some strange way, Tara is not really the villain of the piece. She’s kind of an anti-hero, I mean, sure she kills people in hilariously gruesome ways but it’s what her clients want! I mean, she’s running a business, yes?  Someone wants their head ripped off by a spinning topless woman? So be it, I say!  The customer is always right.

Can’t say she didn’t get a little head during her killing spree. HA! Be sure to tip your waitress…

“Gorgasm” is a fucking TERRIBLE movie. There is nothing good about it. From the  “acting” to the cinematography, writing, and gore effects absolutely nothing in this film works!  I mean, there’s a veritable all-you-can-eat buffet of Gabriela’s tits on display but those breasts are probably the only thing of any quality note.  Still, as I’m sure you all know,  quality does not always determine watchability! Despite its near infinite flaws, “Gorgasm” still manages to be hysterical, exploitative, cheesy, and pretty damn entertaining. It’s a slice of the trash cinema pie that’s more of an acquired taste than most. Those who can enjoy films such as Troll 2 and Samurai Cop would probably be the core audience for this kind of flick.

Tastes like lime!

“Gorgasm”, the first entry in Hugh Gallagher’s Gore Trilogy, is probably the weakest entry but still manages to deliver on the lame-o unintentional hilarity and the sleazeball tits and gore. Not even a cult film, more of a forgotten, never was sort of nada flick, “Gorgasm” is one for the hardcore fans of all things Trash. Be warned, this flick is not for the faint of heart. It’s almost unfathomably bad, but for a certain group of us, it’s the most wonderfully perfect kind of bad imaginable.

Soon to come, The Primal Root’s review of the Second Entry in Hugh Gallagher’s Gore Trilogy, “Gorotica”!

Stay Trashy!

-Root

08
Apr
12

Castle Freak: Inherit Madness

a Primal Root review

Inheriting a castle in Italy has to be pretty dang cool. Finding out you’re descended from royalty? That’s the icing on top of the hoity-toity cake to which so many aspire. Yeah, it all seems great on paper until you take your horrendously dysfunctional family there to assess the situation and sell that hunk of junk off to the highest bidder.  It’s drafty, dull, dusty and, making matters worse,  your wife hates your guts no matter where you take her and the one surviving kid is still blind and your single digit son is still pavement pizza due to your dumb, alcoholic ass driving the family mini…vehicle over a small hill and flipping the vehicle at 25 MPH.  Or 85 MPH in sped up film time…

And then, of course, there’s a horrifying, psychotic, mutilated freak chained up in the castle’s basement. Buyer beware.

TOUCHDOWN!

Castle freak is, at it’s very core, the story of a family dealing with a heart crushingly tragic incident where the family patriarch and reformed alcoholic, John Riley (played pitch perfectly by Gordon collaborator Jeffery Combs) managed to get completely shit-faced before picking up his teenage daughter and 5 year old son during a torrential down pour and then swerving off road resulting in the death of the son and blinding daughter,  Rebecca (played by a very game and sympathetic Jessica Dollarhide).  Of course, there are some resentment issues between John and his gorgeous wife, Susan (always reliable Barbara Crampton) who apparently lives to torture and be spiteful towards John every second of every single day therefore turning his life into a Hell on Earth of guilt, regret, and shame.

As you can tell, the story is already pretty dreadful before there’s even a freak for the family to contend with.

The Reilly’s  move into their new castle after the old woman who was living there died in her bed from a heart attack after beating the chained up freak in the basement within and inch of it’s life which looked to have been a long standing supper time tradition and Casa de le Freak.  This poor creature has obviously never known affection, love or humanity living a life of agony chained up and naked down in the dank bowels of The Reilly castle. Much like John Reilly himself, who is living a life of pain due to his past mistakes and the fact his wife reminds him about it on a near minute by minute basis that he’s responsible for the death of their son.

Castle Freak is a far cry from the what we’ve come to expect from a Gordon, Combs, Crampton, collaboration. Typically fun,m over the top and colorful, Castle Freak is drastically different. Thee pacing takes it’s time, and the whole story is just gruelingly sad. This is not Re-Animator or From Beyond by a long shot. In fact, it’s a very dark and honest look at redemption, forgiveness and family as John must defend his family from what could be seen as his horrific doppelganger, his id or symbolizing the young Reilly boy whose memory they still cling to and is tearing the whole family apart.  There are no laughs to be found here and  no easy outs in Castle Freak.  This is straight ahead horror dealing with some pretty real issues. Only these real issues are set against the backdrop of an Italian castle with a freak looking to molest your cute little blind teenage daughter and frame you for the murder of a hooker and your housekeeper. For a freak, this guy is surprisingly crafty.

Castle Freak Foreplay: Not nearly as fun as you'd imagine.

One night, after Susan gives John a particularly vindictive verbal thrashing, John heads to a local watering hole where he quickly jumps off the wagon. And who can really blame the guy? He takes shot, after shot of some kind of counterfeit rot gut and ends up taking a whore back to his castle’s wine seller where he eagerly chows down on her bowl of “Down South” spaghetti.Again, you can totally understand his need to feel the touch and connection to another person.  Trouble is, he happens to be performing in front of a captive audience as the Castle Freak studies John’s moves like he’s preparing for the S.A.T.’s.  And you know castle freaks, they are more than happy to go after the sloppy seconds…

As our hooker goes to leave the castle, it’s resident freak abducts her, chains her up and has his way with her including a graphic nipple eating and a sickening reveal of the Freak’s genital region that’s sure to make your stomach churn. In fact, the film seems to focus quite liberally on the Freak’s disturbing genitals which, I suppose, does make some sense since that is kind of the Freak’s motivating factor. Looking for affection, someone to be close and have sex with.  Or, director Stuart Gordon could have simply just wanted to showcase a little something for the ladies. Soak it in, girls! Still, even though the Freak, in my estimation, is only looking for compassion, tenderness and a connection to another living creature, he can;t for the life of him understand how to give these things. Remember, this is a person whose entire life since birth has been spend locked away, abused and mutilated only ever understanding violence and pain.  How Freak goes about violently raping the hooker, yet mimicking what he witnessed John do to her, furthers this point. That violence begets violence.

Feel the Excitement!

But, I digress, at the threat of spoiling the whole sleazy, blood encrusted, drippy scrotum flopping affair, let’s just say Castle Freak is a one sad, violent, and effective story of redemption. The story of one man’s quest to find meaning and forgiveness in a world that refuses to see past his mistakes and misdeeds and see the man who is in need of compassion and just wants to feel human again. Now, am I talking about John or the Castle Freak of our title or both?

Stuart Gordon’s Castle Freak pulls off an impressive feat in capturing some very deep, dark, human situations and maintaining a fairly well paced and interesting story. As a viewer you grow to like most of the characters, and even the unlikable few are at the very least, you can understand where they’re coming from.  And for a film made in a creepy castle with a miniscule budget, Castle Freak works thanks to some spot on performances, creative shot compositions, great make-up/gore effects and also gains a lot of atmosphere from the genuine Italian castle where the action is set. Which just happens to be owned by the president of Full Moon Pictures.

Castle Freak isn’t exactly a fun, crowd pleasing movie experience but is still a fine piece of trash cinema. One that will certainly speak to anyone who has ever made a grievous mistake and feels they are destined to pay for it the rest of their lives.  Even if we can;t directly relate viewers will empathize and come to understand that there really are a number of fates that can feel worse than death. Only through love, forgiveness and understanding can we ever truly regain what makes us human.

And a good bit of reconstructive surgery and upper plate dental work in the case of The Castle Freak…

Love may be blind but she can still smell you, Freak.

Stay Trashy!

-Root




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