Posts Tagged ‘Gun

10
Jul
14

Shakedown (1988) Law and Disorder

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a Primal Root written review

Sam Elliott and Peter Weller are my guys. I’ll see just about anything featuring either of these two actors due to their excellent body of work , both Trashy and Embraced by the Masses. Come on, Elliott’s the main reason to visit Swayze’s “Road House” (1989), not to mention his turn as the enigmatic Stranger in the seldom seen lost classic, “The Big Lebowski (1998)  and Peter Weller’s filmography is basically a who’s who of sci-fi cult cinema, from Paul Verhoeven’s 1987 action  masterpiece, “Robocop” to 1984’s bomb-come-cult flick, “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension.”  And, as we all know, when two legends cross paths, one must always pay strict attention.

To my own shock and amazement, “Shakedown,” a film featuring two icons of cinematic strangeness, and strange plot that takes your from the heights of wacky action to the morose happenings of a court room drama and every imaginable place between, is not heralded as I had originally imagined upon hearing of it’s existence. I am hoping to correct that issue with this review.

Shakedown takes place on the tough, unforgiving streets of New York City and it’s tough, unforgiving courtrooms. It’s a tale of police corruption, murder and badass action sequences. The film begins with a big time drug dealer having to defend his life from a crazed cracker who shows up, asks for a fix, then pulls a gun on him. The cracker ends up dead as rat shit while our drug dealer, Michael (Richard Brooks), ends up wounded and on trial for the murder of a cop who never identified himself and was obviously looking to steal the gentleman’s crops and money. Thankfully, we see Michael press the REC button on his ghetto blaster, but the film forgets all about that until the last act of the movie once it becomes a life or death situation.

Thankfully for Michael the drug dealer, he has two of the coolest mother fuckers ever to live in New York City on his side. We’re talking public defender and avid Jimi Hendrix fan,  Roland Dalton (Peter “Don’t Call Me Buckaroo” Weller) and grimy, greased up, 42nd street undercover cop, Richie Marks (Sam Elliot, as grizzled and awesome as ever.)  Upon hearing of the case, Roland swoops down to defend Michael against the Good Old Boys club of the NYPD who are more than willing to make people disappear in order to cover up their own crimes and deceptions. The thing Roland doesn’t realize is that he will be facing down his old flame, Susan Cantrell, (Patricia Charbonneau) the new District Attorney in this murder case. And wouldn’t you know it, this is all happening on the eve of Roland’s marriage to the young and wholly unlikable Gail Feinberger (Blanche Baker) whose Father just so happens to head the biggest law firm in the city, which means Roland will become a partner and spend his life defending the rich and powerful and making sure those with the money get to keep it. Thankfully, this recent case, plus late night discussions with his district attorney ex-girlfriend, who acts as a cock riding Jiminy Cricket, has led to Roland’s reevaluation of the whole situation. Does he want to continue taking on cases for those who are innocent of any wrong doing but society wants them punished anyway, or to live a life with a woman who scolds him for listening to rock and roll too load in the morning while blending home made Orange Julius’s and wiping the asses of spoiled, rich old geezers? Decisions, decisions…

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To help uncover any evidence pertaining to the case and delve into the police corruption itself, Roland meets up with his old pal, undercover cop, Richie in the shit stained, syringe covered restroom of a dilapidated 42nd Street grindhouse. Over a few drinks in one of New York’s many watering holes, the two decide to team up and put the hurt of the NYPD’s most crooked cops, when Michael’s case and hopefully put away some scumbag pigs in the process.

Now, don’t get me wrong, the law and order proceedings that take place in the court room and are discussed in between the opposing legal team’s fuck sessions are really interesting, but the real stars of “Shakedown” are the go for broke, mind blowing, action sequences scattered throughout the film to keep you from being too mellow. While Roland is either defending or banging, Richie is chasing and beating the snot out of New York’s nastiest criminals and cops on his quest for the truth. The man is willing to use 42nd Street theater neon lights as means to leap onto the top of moving busses while opening fire on suspects! The guy chases a man onto a carnival roller coaster before starting it up and ensuring the car derails thereby sending the criminal soaring to his hysterical death! And, in probably, the greatest action sequence I have ever witnessed, Sam Elliot, as Richie, with the aid of Roland and his Porsche, manages to chase down a private jet. climb onto the jet’s landing gear as it takes off, ride that landing gear to a height where the roof of the World Trade Tower’s are visible; toss a grenade inside and then leap into the ocean before the plane lands and explodes. Yes, Richie survives with no damage worse than a wet pair of Levi’s.

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It’s that combination of serious, intelligent courtroom drama and Gonzo, batshit crazy action that really makes 1988’s “Shakedown” possibly one of the strangest yet endlessly entertaining action films of the 1980’s. A lot of the appeal is derived from watching the film’s two leading men bring the big bad guys to justice as well as watching Peter Weller and Sam Elliott, two very likable cult actors, pal around and makes jokes with one another. These gentlemen never ascended to the pantheon of great action stars like Arnold, Sly and Bruce. No, Peter has become more well known a a science fiction character actor and Sam, outside of The Big Lebowski, is a bit more recognized as a western cinema staple. But here, watching the two unlikely actors turned action stars, one cannot help but marvel as they spray gun fire, make death defying leaps from buildings and spout witty retorts and villains burn to death. It’s like watching the high school A.V. geek and the guy in shop class who never bathes joining forces to crack down on high school crime. To put it bluntly, it’s a mother fucking hoot to behold.

Also, another highlight of the film for me, is that “Shakedown” features New York’s 42nd Street RIGHT before gentrification took hold, the theaters were dismantled, and the strip steadily became home to Disney stores and McDonald’s and attracted more tourists than locals. It’s a final swan song to what was once a sleazy, filthy, dangerous playground, A place of legend that is no more. Watching some good goddamn action sequences explode across this neon sodom is quite a spectacle to behold, but also a lovingly rendered final look at a place that now only exists in memory and cinema.

“Shakedown” is a one of a kind action film. Feeling like Law and Order by way of Robert Rodriguez and Michael Bay’s love child, “Shakedown” mixes together ingredients that should by no means make a tasty concoction, but manages to deliver something unique, exciting, fun and shockingly entertaining. You will be pulled in by the human drama and then blown out of your seat with astonishment and laughter as one rock ’em sock ’em action scene after another pummels you over the head with it’s bizarre and warped sense of reality. My friends, “Shakedown” must truly be seen to be believed.

“Shakedown” will shake your beliefs in action cinema to the ground. Watch it brace yourself for an awakening and an injection of pure, undiluted Trash.

I give “Shakedown” THREE and a HALF out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

04
Oct
13

Amityville II: The Possession (1982) or Touched By a Creeper

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a Primal Root written review

“Dishonor thy Father. PIGS!” -Demon, “Amityville II: The Possession”

In the annals of horror there are few settings that originate terror more depraved or unsettling than that generated at home, within the family. “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me” “The Shining”, “Night of the Living Dead”, “The People Under the Stairs” and countless others have proven to us that our home isn’t always the utopian safe havens they are meant to be.  Behind the closed doors of Home Sweet Home, behind the guise of perfect, happy families,  can often times be a hiding abuse, repression, shame and torment.  Behind these doors can hide the most vile and heinous horrors of all.

 

"For God's Sake, Move in!"

“For God’s Sake, Move in!”

“Amityville II: The Possession” does an excellent job of establishing an eerie atmosphere from the outset as our family, The Montelli’s, comprised of Mom, Pop, two teenagers (a boy and a girl) and two little kids (again, a boy and a girl), and their movers drive up to the house at 112 Ocean avenue one by one on to begin a new life at their incredibly affordable and haunted as fuck homestead. Instantly upon arrival folks can feel the eyes of the house upon them, get chills, upset stomachs, notice the windows have been nailed shut, the hidden basement room is filled with dookie, and…oh yeah,  a sink that sprays blood from the faucet for about fifteen seconds before gradually turning into tap water. Thankfully, Mom is in denial, not only over the apparent evil that dwells in the house from the the basement secret room where evil resides and piles of shit ferment, to the top floor where her first born son Sonny now resides, but she also likes to think her family isn’t on the verge of some horrible violent tragedy.  Let me tell you, from the get-go, it seems like the Amityville demons are the least of this families’ problems.

Now, I am an only child who was born into a house that championed passive aggressive behavior over the the punch you in the throat and topple you over the third floor bannister to the hard wood floor at ground level because you didn’t say “Yes, sir!” level of abuse that’s on display in “Amityville II: The Possession”, so this level of hardcore abusive insanity is pretty goddamn upsetting to a guy like me.  And it’s Fight Club just about every five minutes with this family, and the Amityville spirits do nothing to help the situation.

A mirror in the dining room tumbles over with a clatter and suddenly Dad (Burt Young) is screaming, oldest daughter Patricia (Diane Franklin) is screaming and grabbing at Dad to restrain him from punching oldest son Sonny (Jack Magner) in the face. Thankfully, Mom (Rutanya Alda) screams like a goddamn banshee and gets everyone settled down so they can go ahead with their first dinner in the new house without any black eyes or broken noses. Yeah, this is a family in crises. Don’t believe me? Later that night Sonny ends up pressing a double barrel shotgun up against his Dad’s wattle in order to stop him from beating on Mom and the two youngest children…I know a lot of critics think this stuff is over the top, but I have this suspicion, whether they want to believe it or not, that this kind of family dynamic does exist and it’s far more common than we like to think.

A typical Saturday night with the Montelli's!

A typical Saturday night with the Montelli’s!

But this regularly scheduled smack-down of brutality isn’t all the awkwardness present in the Montelli household. Some of the creepiest moments of the whole film involve Sonny and Patricia, the two oldest siblings, who spend a lot of time alone together in one another’s rooms and share a borderline incestuous relationship as they flirt with one another.  These two don’t act much like brother and sister when they’re around each other, and this adolescent urge Sonny has for his own sister seems to be the weakness that allows the spirits that reside in his home to possess him.

In a lengthy, uneasy sequence taking place while Sonny is left alone in the Amityville home (his family is off to church so Pops can apologize to the priest who came to bless the house before Dad started beating the snot out of the kids in front of him) the spirits, represented by a camera POV shot, float around Sonny and follow him back to his bedroom where they throw him onto the bed, open up his shirt and repeatedly thrust themselves into his stomach. Sense something sexual in this possession procedure?  In Trash Cinema, typically  women are gender of choice for possession, seeing as they have an open entry way for evil spirits. However, to posses a gent, I guess that’s a bit of a filthier undertaking.   Either way, it’s a violation, and it never looks like much fun. No one enjoys having their soul raped.

Pretty sure i give this same smile to every woman I hit on. Which would explain a lot...

Pretty sure i give this same smile to every woman I hit on. Which would explain a lot…

Immediately after the possession takes place, Sonny heads directly to his sisters room and gets his creep on. He tells her she might be the most beautiful girl he’s ever seen, asks her to take her nightgown off and pose like a pinup model. Ooooooh, it’s grueling to watch and neve r fails to get me squirming on the couch. And that even before Sonny whips out a pair of Patricia’s panties and confesses to sniffing on ’em while he churns his baby butter. He then has his way with her, raping her, and the trauma of both his sister Patricia and the audience is done. It’s sleazy and upsetting and done very well. Nothing is explicitly shown, but holy shit, if I have a real hard time watching this sequence. I cannot help but imagine how strange and upsetting this scene must have been to shoot. Or what the cast party was like when the flick was wrapped… *shudders*

Quality Brother and Sister time. Amiyville style. As you know, Amity means incest, er, friendship...

Quality Brother and Sister time. Amiyville style. As you know, Amity means incest, er, friendship…

Patricia tries to confess to their priest, Father Adamsky (James Olson) about her brother’s sudden habit of incestual molestation her by doing one of those “What if there’s someone you love a whole lot, and you do it with them, but their penis is a lot like your brother’s” sort of confessions before Adamsky gets a bit too nosy and sends her running back to the Amityville rape house. At Sonny’s Birthday party he embraces his sister a bit too long and suddenly everything comes together for dear, old, Mom. the fact that Sonny grabs Patricia’s lovely ass cheeks probably didn’t help a whole lot, either.  Momma confronts Patricia in the Amityville Stairwell  by bellowing “WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?!? WHAT DID YOU DO TO SONNY?!?” because, obviously, it’s Patricia’s fault for Sonny having raped her. *rolls eyes* Mom’s kind of an idiot.

The worst cinematic priest ever mourns the blood ejaculated by the cyborg cock of Jesus.

The worst cinematic priest ever mourns the blood ejaculated by the cyborg cock of Jesus.

But, before any of this can be sorted out or dealt with Sonny and his demons get the final word in the movie’s most harrowing sequence. Patricia wakes up to the sound of thunder as it storms mightily outside her bedroom window. She overhears the sound of her parents arguing (surprise, surprise!) and listens in from the darkness of the hallway. As her eyes adjust to the darkness she soon  notices Sonny loading a rifle and looking like like a bowl of rotten oatmeal. Sonny enters their parent’s room and blows them both away. His three siblings are helpless as Sonny has bolted the doors leading outside shut, destroyed the phones and the power has gone out. The feeling of being trapped, hunted and the inevitableness of their doom hits the audience like a brick in the junk. There is no escape and there is no mercy shown. Sonny steadily, methodically, stalks down each of his siblings and kills them.  The sequence plays like a nightmare you’re unable to wake from. Watching Sonny go slowly from room to room and kill off his entire family is shocking and horrifying unlike anything else in this franchise of films. It is a moment of brutal violence and manages to generate genuine dread and fear.

"I don't know, I'm just... happy!"

“I AM the NRA.”

The rest of “Amityville II: The Possession” plays out with Father Adamsky feeling incredibly guilty over the massacre of the Montelli family, seeing as Patricia warned him of an oncoming tragedy and Adamsky decided to go camping with his boyfriend instead of intervening. He shows up at the crime scene, checks out all the still warm cadavers and then goes on a quest to exorcise the last member of the Montelli family standing, Sonny, who is sent to prison. Adamsky, with the help of an idiot police chief, breaks Sonny out of jail and takes him BACK TO THE AMITYVILLE HOUSE! Where, of course, the demon infested Sonny is now more powerful than ever, begins flying around his room like superman, and tearing his face apart in K-Y slathered, meaty chunks,  while Father Adamsky cries out “LET IT BE ME, LORD ALMIGHTY! LET IT TAKE ME!”  Amityville Demon says “Sure.” drops creeper extrodanaire, Sonny and tucks into Father Adamsky.

"HELLO CHRIST!"

“Christ, you’re HILARIOUS!!”

Our fake Happy Ending leaves us with Sonny being picked up by the cops and Father Adamsky still trapped inside the house murmuring Bible verses and sweating profusely in a darkened corner of Sonny’s old room. Sonny, who is STILL the person who killed off his family, let’s face it “I was possessed by a demon!” never stands up in a court of law, should brace himself to ride the lightening.  It’s a downbeat ending for a fucking horrifyingly downbeat haunted house story. Really, not since “Burnt Offerings” has a haunted house flick been so fucking bleak! But, then again, the real crime that took place all those many decades ago in 112 Ocean Avenue is no afternoon picnic to read about either.

“Amityville II: The Possession” strikes me as a meditation on abuse and denial. Dolores Montelli, the families matriarch, consistently ignores or dismisses the blazingly obvious issues in her family and her home whenever they arise. Rather than confront these issues head on, she instead takes a passive role and turns to God and The Church to solve her problems for her, Blood coming from the sink, table clothes mysteriously covering up crucifixes, and even blood spewing from Father Adamsky’s aspergillium (not as dirty as it sounds) in the parent’s bedroom during the house blessing ceremony cannot help but be interpreted as symbolizing the Family being damned due to their internal strife and neglecting to confront them. Hell, even the two youngest children can be seen “horse playing”  in several scenes by mimicking stabbing one another at the dinner table over a minor dispute as to where the fork should go in the place setting, and in one scene the youngest daughter puts a plastic bag over her little brother’s head and triumphantly cries out “YOU’RE DEAD!” before sparing him a death by suffocation by removing the bag and declaring “I love you.” Their parents have taught them well. Think about it, won’t you?

FUN!

FUN!

The Montelli family was doomed from the beginning. They refused to save themselves, law enforcement is apparently none existent, that is, until someone is needed to come pick up the corpses, and Father Adamsky turned a blind eye to the OBVIOUS horrific abuse taking place within the home until it was too late, insinuating  one’s faith in God is ineffectual in stopping abuse.  The abusive and repressed Montelli family never seek help, not matter how bad the situation gets. The pattern of abuse seems normal to them, like they are used to waving guns in one another’s faces and slapping each other to the ground on a nightly basis.  Only once, when Patricia goes to Father Adamsky, does anyone in the family ever venture out for help. But it is far too late. It seems as if there was a countdown from the beginning, and that the demons within the walls of their home merely sped up the process.

The Demons living within this family are far more horrifying than any conjured up from the depths of Hell. For me, this might be the most terrifying implication of all.

Four out of Five Dumpster Nuggets.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

17
Jun
13

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

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a Primal Root written review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay Trashy!

-Root

12
Jan
13

Killer Joe: White Trash Armageddon

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a Primal Root review

Hey Gang,

Recently I had the pleasure of seeing one of the most outrageously over the top, gratuitously violent, creepiest, high octane, no holds barred, psychotic and unstable films I’ve sat down to witness in a main stream googaplex since…well, since I can remember. The film is William Friedkin’s 2012 deep black crime flick ‘Killer Joe’. Adapted by Tracy Lett’s from a stage play of his, ‘Killer Joe’ is one sick, blood caked, homage to complete and utter white trash stupidity. The violence is abrupt and shocking, the sex is dirty and perverse, and the outlook is utterly bleak.

Killer Joe might be among the best and funniest movies I’ve seen in years.

But this isn’t your typical dark comedy. No, when you buy your ticket for this sucker you have no idea the depths of depravity and nastiness you are in for. I sure as Hell didn’t. But I also hadn’t prepared myself for how much I laughed through the whole damn thing. Sure I was aghast  at what I was seeing on screen, but the brilliant performances, the direction of Friedkin and Letts’ amazing, genre bending screenplay make this one exhilarating dive down to the bottom of the lives our nation’s dumpster dwellers.

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Alright, the set up is that dim witted dope dealer named Chris (Emil Hirsch, making the best of a thankless role) finds his life on the line when he falls into horrendous debt with his supplier. What’s the scheme Chris comes up with? Kill his Mother and collect the insurance money! He enlists the help of his father and his mother’s ex-husband, getter dweller and resident numbskull, Ansel (played to perfection by Thomas Haden Church), gains the approval of his attractive and mysterious sister Dottie (the always game Juno Temple) whose mental state and past are always in question and even his ultra skanky step mother, Sharla (Gina Gershon, who deserves a medal of valor for her performance). Of course, everyone demands a cut of the inheritance.

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Chris and Ansel decide to hire the services of the local Texas legend, contract killer “Killer Joe” who happens to be a police detective full time. Killer Joe is played with full on demented, murderous, calculated glee by that always underrated Mathew McConaughey, who in a perfect world would be getting an Oscar for his blistering, in your face performance here. The man brings Killer Joe’s calm, sociopath personality to life and it really is a sight to behold. Every time the man enters frame he manages to be likable. He comes off relatively nice (as far as far as killers for hire go) if a little bit quirky…but even in these early scenes we feel a sense of dread. There’s much more to this guy than meets the eye.  Once all the cards are out on the table, things get pretty goddamn crazy, pretty goddamn quickly.

Chris and Ansel meet with Killer Joe, and seeing as the two nimrods don;t have a dime between them, they cannot hire Killer Joe’s services. However, Killer Joe comes up with an alternative plan, a retainer. If they give Killer Joe Dottie until they can get the money to pay him off, he will carry out the family wish of killing of Mommy dearest. Being complete fuck stick, Chris and Ansel agree and over a dinner of tuna casserole, Killer Joe and Dottie get…formally acquainted.

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The LAST thing I want to do is spoil Killer Joe for you. But what I can say is that there is a proverbial buffet of loathsomeness on display here. From burned out trailer courts, to grease stained double wide interiors and bankrupt businesses boarded up and left for dead. Killer Joe inhabits middle America and the small towns crushed and left to rot on the side lines.  It’s a desperate world these characters inhabit and it’s a place we know all too well.

Still, these people seem to have really adapted to their trashy surroundings and have, in effect, become total trash themselves. Filthy, brain dead, greedy scum suckers willing to kill family and use them as collateral just so they can make some cash and survive. Is this what it’s come to  when we live in a land where there’s no one to turn to?

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Sure, the underlying concept of the surroundings in Killer Joe are disheartening and disturbing enough with what they insinuate. But the actions our cast of characters take against one another is on another level entirely. I’ve, honest to Cthulhu, never seen anything like Killer Joe’s last twenty minutes. Much has been made of the fried chicken moment, Hell, it’s even a centerpiece of the ad campaign, but there is much more going on here and so much more to be had as a viewer.

And yes, I laughed. I laughed out loud hard and frequently. But every time I did, I kept questioning myself. “Should I be laughing at this?” It’s so ridiculously depraved and dirty, I couldn’t help myself. I laughed at the character’s stupidity,  the grandiose skeeziness, the sudden violence, the allusions of incest…it’s a perfect concoction of pitch black humor. But I don’t expect everyone to have the same reaction I did.

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Now, keep in mind, the NC-17 rated crime film (now available unrated on DVD and Blu-Ray) will not be for everyone. This is not an easily digested, cookie cutter, vanilla puddin’ pop kind of movie. This is some heavily fucked up Trash Cinema and for those who know they can handle such things. Either you will really enjoy Killer Joe or you will end up turning it off and barfing across the commode. It seems to have very little middle ground.

Killer Joe is disturbing and exhilarating and unlike anything I have seen in American mainstream cinema in a very long time.Needless to say, I had a blast watching it and Killer Joe just might be my favorite movie of 2012.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

Heads up! Below trailer contains a ton of plot spoilers!

 

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

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

04
Feb
12

Hobo with a Shotgun: Make Your Own Change

a Primal Root review

 

I found out moments before I watched this film that it originated as a grand prize winner in a mock trailer contest as part of a publicity stunt for the Tarantino/Rodriguez helmed double feature “Grindhouse”. What was the prize? The folks who made the trailer  got to turn that trailer into a feature length film. Now, let me tell you, the feature length version of  “Hobo With a Shotgun” isn’t going to appeal to the wide breadth of film goers out there. Hell, I have close friends who love Trash Cinema who thought this flick sucked sweaty goat balls. I, for one, thought it was one of the craziest, blow it out a shotgun, fuck it message films I’ve seen in a long, long, time.

“Hobo with a Shotgun” tells the story of an earnest, older transient Hobo (played with gravity by the ever awesome and always game Rutger Hauer) who goes from town to town looking for a break and a means to begin living his humble dream of making a decent living as a landscaper. But, as we all know, in the real world this can be tougher than it seems. Especially when you’ve been reduced to sleeping on sidewalks,  trying to come up with clever card board signs asking for donations and having the chew broken glass for the folks who film shit like “Bum Fights” for a measly couple of bucks. When you are that far down, it’s near impossible to get back up without some kind of helping hand.

If only he had written something witty and clever as opposed to honest...

Sadly, our Hobo has managed to ride the rails into Dartmouth Nova Scotia which looks to be the ninth circle of Hell as it is ruled under the blood thirsty fist of a tiny, greasy, sociopath by the name of Drake  (Brian Downey) and his two equally psychotic, well groomed sons Slick (Gregory Smith) and Ivan (Nick Bateman). This Father and Son triple threat of bloodthirsty scumbaggery have turn this city into a gut crunching, head obliterating, meaty chunk strewn wasteland where no one bats an eye if someone has their skull crushed between two bumper cars or a school bus full of children gets burned alive…as long as it’s not them. In this reality, whoever visits the most brutal death to the citizenry and generates the most fear is king. This is hardly the town to look for a decent person with a dream to find that helping hand.

Our Hobo befriends Abby, the hooker with a heart of gold (played by the talented and gorgeous Molly Dunsworth) who shows him warmth and kindness and becomes a bit of a daughter to our hero. But once Hobo witnesses atrocity upon atrocity and is brutalized himself, he trades in his landscaping dreams for a loaded shotgun and decides to level the playing field as only a vigilante with nothing left to lose can do.  As the bodies of murderous, drug dealing, rapists cock suckers rise Drake and his sons are left with no choice but to retaliate as a full fledged war is declared between the haves and the have nots…and no one is spared.

To be honest, it took me about ten minutes to really warm up to “Hobo with a Shotgun”. It;s early sequences felt like some kind of second rate Troma flick…but as the violent set pieces of the opening came to a close and the film began to focus more on the story of Rutger’s Hobo and his rise to become a homeless moral avenger, it rose way above the the trappings of your typical no-buget grue fest.  This flick has a surprising amount of heart, stays true to it’s characters, and delivers on all fronts.

Hobo with a Shotgun is an interesting animal. On one hand the filmmakers seem to be inviting you to laugh at the brutal carnage going on throughout the film. When a character has his head ripped off and a scantly clad woman writhes in the geyser of fresh blood spraying forth from a gaping hole where the victim’s head should be you can’t help but laugh at how ludicrous it all is. But several scenes later, a character we’ve grown to know and care about is suddenly in mortal danger of being killed off and we suddenly can’t bring ourselves to laugh…we realize this is a world without ruled. A place where the filmmakers are willing to do anything and kill off anyone at any moment. In Hobo with a Shotgun, the typical cinematic tropes need not apply.  Just like the world we live in, it’s so easy to laugh at a crazy headline or crack a joke regarding someone’s misfortune, but when it suddenly that same fate shines on us or someone we love, it ceases to amuse.

And in this I feel Hobo with a Shotgun finds it’s message. It’s not just a film that focuses on the violence, and there are copious amounts of  it to be sure, but it also manages to drive home the idea of desensitization, apathy, detachment and how detrimental it is to us as a society.  For us to stand by as other well meaning and good people are crushed under the heal of our oppressors, being too afraid to stand up for fear of the same harm being inflicted upon us,  doesn’t that mean evil has already won out?

One of “Hobo with a Shotgun” ‘s strongest scenes comes when Hobo enters the maternity ward of a hospital and there before him, separated by a pane of glass, are a dozen new born babies. fresh from Momma’s loins. These little souls are pure, innocent and precious.  But for how long? And aged, craggy faced and beaten down man with nothing but the close on his back and a blazing hot, fully loaded shotgun looks in upon them and their advocate, as the spokesperson for their future. You were born into and are inheriting this world of pain and suffering.  This one Hobo finally hit rock bottom, grew tired of seeing his world repeatedly;y raped and violated around him and chose to stand up. Come life or death, this man chose to make that stand to change things.  What kind of world will these babies grow up in?  That’s entirely up to us.

Hobo with a Shotgun, it’s one very bloody,extremely brutal film. One which takes no prisoners, makes no apologies and leaves you feeling like you just took a trip through some kind of cinematic Hell on earth. A weird alternate movie universe tucked somewhere in the scummy, unwashed regions of Trash Cinema that stinks of canned tamales and makes your fingers stick together.   Hobo with a Shotgun sure as shit isn’t for everyone, but for those of us in it’s sights, Hobo with a Shotgun is a blast you won’t soon forget.

And, though I think they’re fucking awesome, I have no idea what The Plague is all about. But I do want their arcade game…

Stay Trashy!

-Root




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