Posts Tagged ‘hallucinations

10
Mar
14

Funland (1987) Dancing with the Angel of Death

funland

a Primal Root written review

As a lifelong Floridian, with The Magic Kingdom and Universal Studios close by,  you grow up having a special kind of understanding of the amusement park business.  I’m sure to those who travel hundreds or thousands of miles and spend entire fortunes to come visit our state’s economic clit ticklers still feel the magic when walking down main street while wearing your short Dad shorts and fanny pack  in the skull liquifying summer heat or  watching film legend Brendan Frasier mug for the camera as they are thrown around on the indoor roller coaster based on the contemporary cinematic classic, “The Mummy Returns”, but for those of us in Florida who take a stroll through these parks on an almost annual basis, we can tell you there’s some shady shit going on just beneath the fairy tale surface…

This just might be why 1987’s bizarre, skit heavy, amusement park centered comedy/psychological drama “Funland” holds a special place in my rotten, filthy, heart.  “Funland” is one very strange, very off kilter film filled with a dozen or so ideas of which only about a half of them ever take root and really make an impression.

Funland is preparing for another season of family friendly fun and attractions, with hundreds of new recruits just chomping at the bit to press the “START” button on the park’s rides,  clean brat puke off the sidewalks or sell concessions at the ridiculously racist “Fresh Watermelon” stand! Most excited of all is Bruce Burger (David L. Lander, Squiggy from Lavern and Shirley), the clown mascot of “Funland” who was once the head accountant before suffering a complete mental breakdown that left him believing he is the actual incarnation of the parks clown mascot, Bruce Burger. See, the park’s owner, Angus (William Windom) believes in loyalty over profits, and keeps this mentally unstable man on board as Bruce Burger.  It’s a sweet, home spun gesture, but Angus soon meets his end the way most decent men do,  found dead face down in a body of water under mysterious circumstances.  his wife soon after sells the entire business to the mob who are only concerned about the bottom line an begin filling the park with less family friendly attractions like the Celebrity Death and Disease exhibit and dismantling the musical showcase in order to replace it with strippers.. In all honesty, I might actually go to an amusment park with these kind of attractions.

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The mob also decides to fire Bruce Burger and brings in the “National” Bruce Burger whose played by a  classically trained actor who constantly complains about his job and reminisces about his thespian history ad nauseam.  Bruce takes refuge in the recently closed down wax museum and finds solace in long conversations with a hallucination of Humphrey Bogart  (Robert Sacchi, who pulls off an excellent impression of bogie) and a sausage puppet. Bruce continues living at the park and dressing the part, but his hallucinations and psychosis continue to grow worse, culminating in a strange moment in the Funland cafeteria when the gentleman behind the lunch counter begin rapping, The Angel of Death appears briefly, never to be seen again, and the entire crowd drops what they’re doing and start moving and a groovin’. Once this hallucinatory episode comes an end  the ghost of Angus shows up to grab a bite to eat with Bruce and to divulge the horrible truth, he was murdered. So, it is decided over a game of poker between Bruce and his three most prominent hallucinations  to take action. Bruce steals a mafioso’s gun, heads to the top of the theme parks clock tower and opens fire over the strenuous objections of the talking sausage puppet.

“Funland” is among the most bizarre Trash Cinema videos I’ve ever watched.  David L. Lander as Bruce Burger does a damn fine job portraying the gradual mental collapse of Bruce Burger, a man already teetering ont he edge of total insanity. to the film’s credit, Bruce’s steady decline is hardly ever played for laughs. If the awkward, out of place gags featured in “Funland” were edited out you’d have a far darker film on your hands. but, in a way, all the attempts at levity give the movie an even more disturbing quality. One stand out sequence features the aforementioned “Fresh Watermelon” stand where a white junior manager is giving instructions to the four black men who will be working the stand.  The junior manager asks “Is anyone good with knives” and all the black men back away in fear. Can someone tell me just what the Hell this means? What are these guys afraid of? Was there a scene missing where the junior manager stabs a man to death?

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When it’s all said and done, “Funland” is far from a  perfect film, but it is the kind of film that you want to watch to the bitter end simply because it’s so unpredictable, so looney and has so many goddamn plot elements you’ll be dying to see how it all gels together. Seldom do you come across a film that manages to undercut it’s amateur execution and redeem it by way of own it’s twisted, surreal  logic.  It’s constantly quirky and strange making all the logical sense of a fever dream.  To my own amazement, this works in the films favor and makes for an enjoyable, head scratcher of a flick.  For fans of unique, one of a kind, absolutely bonkers trash cinema, “Funland” is one you should really check out.

I give “Funland” Four and a Half out of Five Dumpster Nuggets

Stay Trashy!

-Root

17
Jun
13

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

JohnDiesEndBigyellowFinaltheatv1a

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

04
Jun
10

Shrooms: Drug of the Damned

a Primal Root Written Review

This review must be prefaced with the acknowledgment that I, The Primal Root, have never done drugs. I have never ingested shroom tea in my life nor have I gone out in the woods looking for a particular brand of hallucinogenic mushroom. So I must confess to having no real knowledge of the affects or the rituals regarding the usage of such fungi. However, I do love a side of sautéed mushrooms with a medium rare cut of choice beef…I’m getting off topic…

Okay gang, I just checked out the 2007 drug/slasher/haunting horror film Shrooms. The films about 2 couples and a pseudo-quasi couple, who head to Ireland specifically to hunt down some magic mushrooms and trip some balls( That is what the kids call it, right?).

Our cast of characters are a grab bag of the typical slasher flick sterotypes. We have the kung-fu stoner and his hippie girlfriend with wild underarm growth (yep, that’s her character development. Hairy armpits.) We have the pimply assed, steroid abusing, constantly horny ass hole jock guy and his vapid, angry girlfriend. And of course, we have our super cool guide to shroom land, Ireland’s native son and Mr. Coolesville himself, Jack and our blonde, Kristen Bell look-a-like obvious final girl, Tara.Tara is played by none other than Lindsey Haun! She was one of the lead alien kids in John Carpenter’s Village of the Damned! She grew up, she filled out, let me tell ya.

Lindsey Haun: Our Babe in the Woods

On their way into the foggy, overcast, foreboding forest, they hit an intensely juicy goat with their van which spatters all over their window as they reach speeds upwards of 10. They all pile out of the van to take a look at the quivering, dying goat when the jock decides to abruptly end the beasts suffering with some well placed tire-iron-fu to it’s horned cranium. Mere seconds afterwards two drooling inbred forest dwellers appear in a clearing, creep over and snatch up the goat to presumably eat later. Once they’ve fucked it.

 Keep in mind, all these creepy, bloody, disturbing events take place in a span of about three minutes. This is not subtle. It’s as if life is whacking these kids across the skull with a tack hammer in a fruitless attempt to persuade our drug lusting friends to turn that van around, pick up the scripture, and just say no to drugs.

Kids being kids our troupe marches on to their camp ground, set up base, and begin hunting for the perfect mushrooms. Along the way we are informed by Jack that there are some shrooms that are incredibly deadly. These shrooms have black nipples on the top of them, are affectionately known as “Death Heads” and according to legend they allow those who ingest them to see into the future, commune with the dead, gain super strength and…I think that’s it. Also, according to science, they could also make your heart explode and make you spew blood like a geyser from Hell. Buyer beware.

Mistakes? I've made a few.

Tara is apparently a mile or so away from the rest of the group when this useful tid-bit of information is offered up and she decides, after tripping over something and falling on her face (a constant motif in this film) to eat the first mushroom she sees. Whole. No chaser. It just so happens to be a giant mushroom with *gasp* a big ol’ black nipple on top!

Right on cue Tare flips out after eating the “Death Head” shroom and starts popping and locking all over the ground. Jack carries her back to camp where she continues to hallucinate ALONE in her tent after eating possibly fatal shrooms while everyone else makes an OH so special blend of herbal tea. In the meantime, Jack tells everyone a camp fire tale about the legend surrounding the old abandoned children’s hospital nearby.

Fueled by this ghost story and intense hallucinogenic mushroom tea our group of morons start tripping out, getting lost in the woods, chatting with cows, and begin falling pray to a mysterious killer. Could it be those unaccounted for youths from the old abandoned hospital? Could it be an evil demon dressed in black? Could it all be in their heads? Could I care less?

Shrooms is a beautiful looking movie and is expertly crafted. You can tell the talent behind the lens has a great flair for setting up eye catching shots and interesting compositions. Shrooms succeeds from a technical stand point but as far as a story it kind of falls flat. The characters are all unlikable and under developed. The dialog is trite and seems out of place in a film that looks so damn good. Then again, this movie is told from the perspective of 6 people tripping out…so maybe it;s supposed to be this way? I dunno…I just think I would have liked to have known these kids better before they started getting their heads hacked into and their wieners bitten off.

Once the shrooms kick in and these kids begin freaking out it’s more annoying than scary as they scream, cry and quiver, curled up into little balls on the ground of the forest. We spend the majority of the trip with the girls who begin acting like psycho women from hell almost instantly while the men handle their trip well until they get pegged in the head with some rocks to great comedic affect. Not sure if that’s what they were going for.

Diarrhea is like a thunderstorm raging inside you.

Still, I gotta say, I watched Shrooms to the bitter end and I wasn’t bored the entire time. I found most of it to be pretty watchable and the original concept was enough to leave me wondering just what angle they were going take when the inevitable trip wore off and the twist was revealed.

But if you’ve ever been the sober one hanging out with a couple of friends who have been using you know how fucking annoying it can be to just be around them. It is no different here. These kids suck and every time one of them dies you feel a little bit of relief that you don’t have to deal with them anymore.

Shrooms is a strange brew and I am still not sure if I can wholly recommend it. It just might be a trip worth taking if you’re in the mood for something different. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Stay Trashy,
-The Primal Root




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