Posts Tagged ‘haunted

21
Jan
20

(SFW) Spookies (1986) or Billy Learned The Truth at age 13

 

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“Uuuuuuhh, look at me: I’m Duke, the horny ghost!” – Duke, Spookies (1986)

a Primal Root written review

As an only child of the 80’s my mind is littered with memories of weekends spent at local video stores in the town where I grew up, Tallahassee, Florida. Nothing beat the thrill of an early Friday evening after school, ordering up a cheesy, greasy, sloppy pizza and heading to the video store to peruse the shelves for a new VHS adventure to waste my weekend with either with a fried over or totally on my own.  I would head past the New Release section and head straight to the Horror shelf where the most lurid, colorful and creative covers were. I would pick up every single box, gaze at the covers and their suggestive artwork and just let my imagination run wild simultaneously psyching myself up for what I might choose to take home with me that weekend. In the halcyon days of the video rental store era, when there was money to be made and stores were a dime a dozen and each store had THOUSANDS of titles to choose from, the cover art of a movie could make or break a tape. Just like the posters for Drive-In films of the past, you had to reel your audience in with artwork that promised something truly astounding.

One such VHS cover that branded itself on my brain and was always around at every damn video store I’ve ever been to, the 1986 nightmare fever dream…SPOOKIES.

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Direct your eyes to the poster heading this review created by comic artist Richard Corben. Imagine your tiny eight year old hand clutching the tape that contained the movie THAT artwork was based on? The lovely woman with huge breasts straining to pop out of her white dress as she is surrounded by a variety of creepy, weird creatures that seem to have no real connection to one another. There’s a grim reaper looking guy, a little goblin creature, someone with light popping out of her head and other undefinable atrocious monstrosities that leave your young mind spinning at the possibilities! And then there’s the bizarre face looking over this scene, with glowing red eyes and mouth that looks like it might be full of blood and what looks to be a bloody would to the middle of his forehead. What the Hell are Spookies and what in the world could it ever possibly be about. All I knew was that if the case contained Blood, Breasts and Beasts, it was going home with me, because that was the promise of an unforgettable late night and a fantastic story for the kids at school Monday morning. “Guess what I watched this weekend?”

Full disclosure, Spookies freaked me the fuck out when I was a kid and I think it’s due almost entirely to the face that it’s two movies in one. It began life as a film entitled Twisted Souls written and directed by Brendan Faulkner and Thomas Doran. However, during post-production, creative differences flared up between the filmmakers and their producers, and ANOTHER director, Eugenie Joseph, was hired on to film additional scenes with new actors which would change the film into something else entirely. He added several different subplots and excised over 45 minutes of the original film to create what we now know as SPOOKIES. And, to be perfectly honest, it gives the film a kind of unhinged nightmare logic quality that three me off entirely as a child. It did not follow the rules established by countless other horror films I had seen, so you just never knew what was going to happen, and to me, that is certainly a strength.

The film begins with a little kid named Billy (Alec Nemser) running away from home through the forest. His parents forgot his birthday, so he’s ditching them for the life of a homeless teenage idiot. He, of course, ends up getting stalked by a werecat guy in a golden vest who moves his face around as much as possible to make the latex creature stuff attached to his face seem like his actual face, but it instead just makes him look like a spaz. Billy meets a creepy drifter guy who instantly reminded me of Kiefer Sutherland from Lost Boys, who mocks Billy for being a stupid teenage runaway with nice shoes, clean clothes and an optimistic outlook on life. You think this drifter character is going to come in handy later as either a hero or villain, but as soon as Billy wonders off deeper into the woods, the drifter’s face is shredded into coleslaw by the ever present werecat. Billy ends up in an old, seemingly abandoned mansion and finds a room all decked out for his birthday…but there’s no one there. Not only that, but the balloons don’t have helium and are ties to the ceiling, there’s a moaning baby doll in a chair and teleporting toy robots and being the idealistic idiot that he is, Billy thinks this is a surprise birthday party his parents planned…even though there’s no one there and it’s creepy as shit. So, Billy opens a large present he thinks might be a bowling ball, only to find the severed head of the sorcerer sitting there waiting to wish him a happy birthday. Kind gesture? Sure. But it understandably terrifies Billy who runs off in the wilderness where is is pursued, once again,by the cat man who eventually corners Billy, slashes his face to ribbons, tosses the little boy into an open grave and buries the struggling boy alive, killing him.

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This scene fucked me up as a kid who loved playing in the woods at night living in the heavily wooded suburbs. I could easily put myself in his shoes and wanting to expect the best from my situation only to find myself missing most of my face and being suffocated to death on mouthfuls of heaping shovel scoops of dirt. See what I mean about the nightmare logic of SPOOKIES? It makes about as much sense as your standard childhood nightmare, only you’d wake up as soon as that first fling of dirt hit you in your bloody, stupid, face. In any other film, that kid would have ended up becoming the sidekick of some adult character who showed up. or would end up being the star, booby trapping monster and shit. No. Not in Spookies. In Spookies the 13 year old child dies along and afraid. His parents obviously don;t care about him or love him and he is now gone forever. Dead and buried in an unmarked grave by a catman, never to be mentioned, thought of or cared about for the remainder of the film. Now children, what do you think THAT felt like? It’s cruel, and awesome to 37 year old The Primal Root, but when I was just a Jim Henson’s Trash Cinema Baby, that whole sequence fucked me up real good and proper to the point I lost sleep over it and would get REAL nervous in the woods I used to play in without hesitation. Anyway, enough about me. Lets get back to SPOOKIES!

Spookies Gang

We are soon introduced to our cast of victims who are driving around looking for a party out in the middle of nowhere, where do they end up? Of course, the old haunted mansion where Billy came upon the most surprising surprise party of his short life.  The mansion is inhabited by The Sorcerer whose name is Kreon (Felix Ward) and is on the verge of bringing his beautiful dead wife, Isabelle (Maria Pechukas) back to life once the final victims are sacrificed, namely, this new group of “teenagers” and adults looking to party. There’s the three piece suit wearing elder statesman of the group, Peter (Peter Dain), who is constantly butting heads with the “teenage” tough guy, horndog, and bizarrely placed zipper enthusiast, Duke (Nick Gionta) who also happens to take them to this haunted death trap mansion in the middle of nowhere. Along for this trip to Hell is Linda (Joan Ellen Delaney) Duke’s poor girlfriend, the ginger in the tiny periwinkle blue top with the massive tits she never pops out of the chute for us, Meegan (Kim Merrill) who is attached to Peter and I assume is his wife. There’s another couple, Dave and Adrienne (Anthony Valbiro & Charlotte Alexandra) who suffer from Rich being highly insecure and freaking out all the time over Adrienne controlling everything he does even though all she does is watch him freak out. There’s the obligatory joker/idiot Rich Peter Iasillo Jr) who spends the movie tripping over thing, dropping things, making poor jokes and even poorer decisions. My favorite character, Louis, who as I recall has two lines before being sucked down into own grave and dying before the action even really gets started and is never mentioned or again, let alone, mourned.  Also, odd lady out, Carol (Lisa Friede) Who starts not feeling well at the mansion, gets possessed by Kreon and uses a special Ouija board to unleash a bouquet of highly creative and vicious practical effect monsters to track them down and kill them one by one.

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The Gang knows their lives are in mortal danger and decide to split up to find a way out of this death trap. Some search around while others find secluded rooms to stay fully dressed and fall asleep in before being savagely gnawed upon by Hell beasts. Spookies quickly becomes a cornucopia of freakish blood thirsty hellions dead set on killing off every last cracker in the house. There’s a legion of little reptilian snake demons, a seductive, blood draining Arachnid Woman, a giant lizard man that shoot out head melting electric tentacles, a scythe wielding Grim Reaper and even a trio of chronically flatulent Much Men who rise from the floor of the win cellar and fart like Grandpa after Christmas dinner, you know, fast, furious, loud and with a vengeance.  Not only this, but there’s a legion of zombies surrounding the mansion, making escape impossible.

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People get lost, massacred, tempers flare, fights break as these characters fight for survival in this colorful, bonkers house of blood lusting horrors and it’s just as much fun as it is absolutely baffling. Add in that tacked on subplot about Kreon and and all his various creatures including CatMan and the Jawaesque Korda (A.J. Lowenthal) Son of Kreon and Isabelle, and Isabelle herself, who NEVER interact with the characters from the original film, Twisted Souls, at all despite being shot in the same location and always appearing nearby. It’s actually fun watching how they edit around two totally different stories being told but having to be meant to interact with one another. Towards the end of the film, the plot is left hanging when it comes to our group of party animals that must all be killed in order to give Isabelle life. Some supernatural event occurs where they all begin to age rapidly, an item is thrown, lightning enters a character’s eyes and that’s the last we see of them. Are they dead? Wounded? Senior Citizens? Monsters? What the Hell happened? Instead of us ever finding out, we are treated to an extended zombie chase scene where Isabelle’s clothes get torn off (though she never shows off the goods) as she tries to escape the clutches of the ghoul who resurrected her, the evil warlock Kreon, after she has seduced him and driven a knife deep into his forehead. Will we get any form of closure or will Spookies leave us wondering what happens next? Because if there’s one thing we know…ambiguity is scary.

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Spookies, man, what a fucking ride. It’s a film that feels like a sugar rush nightmare fueled fever dream filled with wild ideas that head down colorful hallways before being utterly forgotten and left for new ideas down even more colorful hallways. It’s like a horror film with A.D.D. and darkly sadistic sense of humor. Where Don Coscarelli’s Phantasm has a similar fantasy/unreality feel to it, Spookies, to it’s detriment or gain, depending on how you like the movie, due to the production issues and different hired hands and stories being mixed together, proves a much weirder concoction. Is the movie good? Absolutely not, it’s total Trash Cinema. But is it entertaining? Gang, Spookies never lets up. It’s balls to the walls ideas, throw it against the walls to see what sticks creativity mayhem. It;s colorful, it’s sloppy and it SHOULD. NOT. WORK. Seriously, this should have been a failure of the highest order. But it is so goddamn unabashedly manic and willing to do anything and go anywhere, you can’t help but join in the glee and stick with it to see just what insane shit will happen next. To me, that’s a Trash Cinema win of the highest order.

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Spookies is a VHS Video Rental store gem that’s well worth tracking down. If you, or someone you know, is even just mildly curious in cult Trash Cinema, Spookies is a great place to start. It’s a deranged and absolute delight. Unless you’re an overly sensitive and imaginative child living in the woods. Then it’s just good, old fashioned nightmare fodder.

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I’m awarding Spookies FOUR out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

 

 

 

19
Apr
15

Unfriended (2014): Grumpy Young Assholes

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a Primal Root written review

Man, the future according to cinema keeps looking bleaker all the time. If it’s not some kind of genetic ape epidemic, Lovecraftian unspeakable evil hostel takeover, or nuclear apocalypse it’s a fucking zombie outbreak that our military forces just can’t contain. I’ve seen these scenarios done many, many times over. Sometimes done well, often done stupidly, but typically on quite a grandiose scale. But, if you ask me, often times the terrible turd of a future the movies keep warning us of is so much more enjoyable when handled…subtly. And what makes all the more frightening is when it’s simply a teen horror film that is trying to present teenage human being as they actually are. And then you just think about the future with these fuckers and realize just how deeply fucked in the pooper we really are.

Enter Unfriended, 2015’s answer to 1999’s The Blair Witch Project and 2007’s Paranormal Activity. It’s your typical horror movie only we, the viewer, are witnessing an evening on the social networks from the perspective of young, pretty high school girl, Val, (Courtney Halverson) who begins, um, sexting (?) her boyfriend, who she professes to love but refuses to fuck, that is, until promising to on prom night. How original. Anyhoo, Laura almost pulls open her flannel shirt to give us a glimpse of her T-Birds, but these kid’s obnoxious buddies choose that moment to start up a, um, Live Chat (?) through the interwebs.

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It turns out tonight is the one year anniversary of their mutual friend Laura’s suicide, which was taped on a cell phone from a distance of about 50 yards as she puts a gun to her face and pulls the trigger.  People can be heard yelling “Don’t do it!” and “Stop!” But we don’t see a single person try to approach her. Thankfully, it is captured for posterity on Youtube for all to revisit whenever they please. It seems  Laura was the victim of some very mean spirited bullying which came to a climax with a nasty video of her getting hammered out of her mind at a party and then passing out… and shitting her pants was uploaded to the web with a nice little credit at the end urging her to kill herself.

Sure, this might sound like loads of laughs to many sociopathic teeny boppers out there these days, but to me, I can’t understand what would prompt people to do this to someone. I can see maybe one person being an utter scumbag to someone, but for what is implied to be an entire student body urging a girl to kill herself after a video of her laying in a pool of her own chunky diarrhea is hard for me to comprehend. I can wrap my mind around the teenage jerks in Carrie, Fear No Evil, even Weird Science and the like, but this new generation of bullying jerks has reached a terrifying new height of scumbaggery where they can hurt and bully someone to the point of killing themselves and then make jokes about it and justify it after on 12 months.

What I’m trying to say is there is no hope for humanity, that is, if Unfriended is to be believed. But, thankfully, there is someone who by all appearances is the ghost of Laura hacking into their Live Chat (?) and killing them all off one by one via the old and moldy drinking game “Never Have I Ever.” Sure, it’s kind of lame, but it is pretty hysterical to watch these self proclaimed “Good People” freak the fuck out as truths are revealed and back stabbings are brought to the surface. Man, if you can;t trust the people responsible for bullying a person into suicide, who can you trust?  It’s an interesting update to the slasher formula. Where once the likes of Freddy and Jason were killing off kids for smoking weed and fucking like bunnies, these kids are getting butchered for totally understandable reasons. In Friday the 13th, these kids weren’t hurting anyone else. But these kids in Unfriended are the most deplorable, detestable fuck bags I’ve seen on screen in years! The victims in the SAW franchise were more savory than these teenage “protagonists.” You will laugh and cheer as their worlds are crushed and then their skulls.

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That being said, there are long patches of this flick where not a whole lot is going on. Val spends a lot of time on various search engines and texting various people. You’ll be straining to read everything that is constantly popping up on the screen, some essential to the plot, some not so much. Also, there isn’t much for you gore hounds out there. It’s all shown in drips and drabs, but in a way, I feel that might have been a bit more effective for the medium they were going for. But for you shit lovers out there, there’s plenty of shots of poo-poo puddles for your enjoyment.

All in all, I went in with a sinking feeling this movie was going to be horrendously bad. To my amazement, it was moderately enjoyable. I rooted for the unseen murderous spirit of vengeance, I laughed out loud more than once at humor both intentional and unintentional. I gotta say, I had an alright time watching this one with Bootsie Kidd. It’s not a good film by ANY stretch of the imagination, but it was a relatively entertaining take on the slasher formula. It did things a little different and by the time the credits rolled had me weeping for humanity itself. Because if the message of Unfriended is to be believed, we’re all… shit out of luck.  But also, within this movie there’s a great moral to be learned. Don’t be a fucking asshole! DON’T BE A FUCKING ASSHOLE! Trust me, you fuck the wrong person over and the next thing you know you’re turning your own hand in salsa for ll your buddies to witness! Also, another important reminder, everything you post, say or do on the internet is bound to come back and haunt you. It’s an interesting new place for evil to dwell and Unfriended hits that new realm a bit closer to the mark than most.

I reward this sucker TWO AND A HALF out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets!

Stay Trashy!

-Root

02
Aug
13

The Conjuring (2013): Home Ownership: a Cautionary Tale

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a Primal Root written review

edited by Bootsie Kidd

I’ve always loved a good ghost story. I was raised on the “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” anthology, watched Tobe Hooper’s  “Poltergeist” on a near constant loop, on the weekends talked my Mom into renting copies of  black and white classics like “The House on Haunted Hill” and “The Haunting”, and looked forward to the segments of TV’s Unsolved Mysteries featuring “true tales”  of the poor crackers who crossed paths with nocturnal spirits and ghastly apparitions.  The chills were plentiful, but as you grow up you realize just how cheesy a lot of this stuff can be, and it only really gets down to spooking you once it sinks in on a cerebral level much later… when you’re at home, going down that darkened hallway you’ve walked down countless times before  and your mind suddenly begins wondering what inexplicable, otherworldly presence could be lurking behind each door, just biding its time before it springs out and cause you to shit your pants, lose your grip on sanity, and keel over dead from cardiac arrest.

It’s been a long damn time since I’ve seen a movie about a haunting that has actually frightened me beyond the terror felt over wasting money on a movie that promised chills and delivered yawns and moderate chuckles at the lameness of it all. From “Paranormal Activity” and its endless sequels, “A Haunting in Connecticut”  to James Wans’ own “Dead Silence” and “Insidious”, they all just come across as either lazy and predictable or over the top, cheap student films.  I usually wind up joking with my viewing buddies and waiting for something to happen rather than having my pants scared off of me, a rare occurrence that always leaves me breathless and fellow viewers stunned, as I typically go commando.

Okay, where's the fire place?

Okay, where’s the fire place?

I’m getting side-tracked. Okay, “The Conjuring” begins on an creepy-enough note telling the tale of The Warrens’ encounter with what a group of roommates assume is a possessed doll from Hell going by the name of Annabelle. This thing looks like the aborted, fossilized remains of Bozo the Clown and post-face-tightening Nicole Kidman’s love child. Why in the world would ANY schmo would bring this doll home is beyond me. But hey! you get what you pay for, and the doll begins writing on the walls in blood-red crayon, seeming to running around the place on her own (although, unlike your favorite Good Guy and mine, we never get to see her scurry), leaving little love notes of “Miss me?” around the house to be found by the horrified occupants, and banging on doors so loudly your testicles would probably rise into your throat with abject terror.  Anyhoo, we never see these three moron roomies, again, and it’s on to establishing Ed and Lorriane Warren,  the real life team of hardcore paranormal investigators (portrayed by Patrick Wilson and the unfathomably lovely Vera Farmiga) just now decided their most terrifying tale of a supernatural encounter is ready for public consumption.  Submitted for the approval of the Midnight Society, they present to us, “The Conjuring.”  Ed and Lorraine are leading a pretty action-packed life, as they traverse the country ghostbusting, debunking red herrings as rusty pipes, and giving lectures while leaving their little daughter at home… with an entire stock of possessed and evil artifacts from their many ghost hunting expeditions. But don’t worry! These artifacts are locked behind a door, because nothing keeps the power of evil at bay like a bolted door… It also becomes apparent that Lorraine has in the not-too-distant past encountered something during one of their investigations that has shaken her to her very core. Something that her ever-loving husband, Ed, concerned about bringing his highly sensitive telepathic wife into the ghost hunting fold again.

I get this reaction frequently when women look into my trousers.

I get this reaction frequently when women look into my trousers.

To be honest, the story of ‘The Conjuring” is a pretty well-worn tale. A couple and their herd of children (in this instance, all little women) decide to relocate to a beautiful, rural fixer-upper that they purchased for a steal, in the bygone days before full-disclosure was a legal necessity and this particular home’s blood-spattered, demonic, psycho-bitch history was kind of left out of conversation.  The family is loving, always smiling, and ready to play games at the drop of a dime. It might sound like a trite Hallmark card, but as a viewer, I couldn’t help but genuinely like this family. Sweet people brought to life by some very talented folks; Lila Taylor as Carolyn, the sweet, southern, ice tea Mother of the clan, and Ron Livingston as Roger (yes, of Office Space fame) as the hard-working, average dope Dad.  On their first night in their new home they experience a few minor disturbances, many of which we might encounter in our own home from time to time, but, ultimately, nothing too serious occurs. Besides finding a boarded-up, dusty, creepy old basement under the stairs. Everyone is super happy about the discovery (YAY! MORE SQUARE FOOTAGE!) but things very quickly go to Hell as whatever was tucked down in the basement is now roaming around the house offing the family pooch and playing chilling games with every member of the family. Also, a Burtonesque, antique music box happens to present itself right next to an ancient, gnarly oak tree in the back yard.  One of the daughters adopts it, and (que Amityville horror score) unleashes her new imaginary best friend! Her buddy can only be glimpsed in the mirror of the music box once the music within finishes playing. It’s a story we’ve heard and seen countless times before, but to my own shock and amazement, filmmaker James Wan (“Insidious”, “Dead Silence”, “Saw”) uses a slow, old school pace and a nice, subtle touch to really let the suspense and dread sink into the viewer.  I was genuinely impressed that James Wan has grown up so much as a director. Make a few more films as intensively creepy as “The Conjuring”, and I might just become a fan!

This would make a damn fine place to hide my porn!

This would make a damn fine place to hide my porn from my wife and our half a dozen daughters!

Some deeply disturbing incidences start to occur in their new  home. The utmost of which involves one of the young daughters seeing something in the darkness behind her bedroom door which, really, might be one of the most horrifying and suspenseful sequences I’ve experienced in a movie theater in years (not a drop of blood spilt, no score, all acting and cinematography). Finally, Carolyn heads to a community college where The Warrens are lecturing, and literally begs them to come check out their own private House on Haunted Hill. The Warrens, initially skeptic, and not-a-little ghost-worn grudgingly but compassionately agree to check it out.  Dressed in their Mod Squad 1971 ensembles, and looking quite fetchingly groovy, the two step into the house and instantly know this place is a deadly death trap of death.  Lorraine has visions, Ed gets nervous, and the once the two investigate the history of the house, whose past tenants were all possessed child murdering evil-doers all in the wake of the original tenant, a witch who, to get in good with The Dark One, sacrificed babies to Satan, and ended up hanging herself from said gnarly oak tree in the backyard… Like I said days pre-total disclosure realtor ethics.

Of course, The Warrens take the case, and decide to rescue the family and exorcise the house of whatever evil is present there.

You smell something?

You smell something?

“The Conjuring” is really the best of both worlds as far a supernatural horror flick is concerned. The first half is expertly crafted horror in which the audience is left holding on to the edge of their seat, completely at the mercy of the increasingly crafty James Wan. The story he is unfolding, waiting for the beast to finally show itself.  And, much to my delight, Wan keeps us guessing and waiting for most of ‘The Conjuring”‘s run time, allowing it to effectively chill our bones and build a truly sinister house of cards around us.  Then, once the other shoe drops, we find ourselves in the eye of an ever-mounting storm of blood, horror, and chaos that, in a lesser film, would probably come off as disenchantingly goofy. Here, however, we have grown to appreciate every one of our central characters so that, once the proverbial ghost shit hits the fan, our pulse rises and we are actually fearful for our new kin. Keeping in mind that the haunted house genre relies heavily on people being too lame-brained to get out of the house the second disturbing shit starts befalling everyone in the family, but this is coming from a guy (and an audience) raised on horror and its tropes. A family in 1971, plagued by this steadily-rising level of creepy encounters might just try and explain things away until things got so bad they have to reach out for help. Plus, a family this size with only one working parent and all their money invested in this house on the edge of Hell hardly has the kind of money to be spending on stays at the local Motel 6.  I guess in most horror films you have to suspend your disbelief, but “The Conjuring” is such a goddamn great spookshow you won’t waste your time questioning such things as little girls are claiming to see creatures in the darkness and the simple clapping of hands send chills down your spine.

“The Conjuring” is by far and away the best horror flick I’ve seen in the theater so far in 2013. It plays it cool, takes its time, and before you know it, you’re sitting in your theater seat, heart thumping in your chest, awaiting the next horror show to befall this poor family and the heroic Warrens.  After the film was over, I found myself sitting with Bootsie Kidd totally worn out, as if stepping off a roller coaster. Both of us, catching our breath and totally awestruck by what we’d just seen. We chatted through the end credits which featured the effectively eerie score by Joseph Bishara, which rivals Lalo Schifrin’s timelessly nerve jangling score to “The Amityville Horror.” And then…we had to go home, where the evens I had seen on screen just minute prior suddenly weighed pretty heavily on my imagination. “The Conjuring” stayed with me long after I left the theater and if that’s not the mark of an effective horror film, I’m not sure what is.

Of course, this is the flick we see just as we begin looking to purchase a home together. Good timing! Jeez…

“The Conjuring” is a smartly executed , old school ghost story excellently told and well worth checking out. Hopfully it will be available to own once Halloween rolls around. 😉 I’m awarding this puppy FIVE out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets. This one is a keeper!

Till next time,

Check your home’s history before moving in and 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.

vhs - amateur night

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.

vhs-movie-glenn-mcquaid-tuesday-the-17th

‘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.

VHS - Emily Ghost

‘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

18
Oct
11

Athena and Noel, October’s Devil Girls of the Month (NSFW!)

        (NSFW) October is here and everyone is eagerly awaiting the approach of what is the undisputed favorite holiday around The Collective, Halloween! It is no different for The Devil Girls as two of our favorite ladies, Miss Athena Hollow and Noel Cypress, get caught up in a little trouble at the local haunted manor. Trapped behind steel bars, no means of escape, while the dank smell of decay and the the oppressive chill of encroaching evil are a constant reminder that their fates just might be sealed once and for all… What are two lovely Devil Girls to do? Find out the answer and feel your Halloween Spirit rise as you check out Miss Athena and Noel’s seductive new spread! Quite the sugary, trashy, treat to get this Halloween season rolling off on the perfect note.

Stay Trashy,

-Root

Photography by Kickapoo

www.missathenahollow.com

www.noelsnaughtynook.com

www.geekgirlsonline.com

17
Oct
11

‘Savage Lust’ or Why you shouldn’t have Sex with Women you meet in Haunted Houses

a Primal Root written review

 savage |ˈsavij|
adjective
(of an animal or force of nature) fierce, violent, and uncontrolled : tales of a savage beast | a week of savage storms.
• cruel and vicious; aggressively hostile : they launched a savage attack on the budget.
• (chiefly in historical or literary contexts) primitive; uncivilized.
• (of a place) wild-looking and inhospitable; uncultivated.
• (of something bad or negative) very great; severe : this would deal a savage blow to the government’s fight.

lust |ləst|
noun
very strong sexual desire : he knew that his lust for her had returned.
• [in sing. ] a passionate desire for something : a lust for power.
• (usu. lusts) chiefly Theology a sensual appetite regarded as sinful : lusts of the flesh.
verb [ intrans. ]
have a very strong sexual desire for someone : he really lusted after me in those days.
• feel a strong desire for something : pregnant women lusting for pickles and ice cream.

 

Okay, so, according to the above definitions if you’ve rented and popped ‘Savage Lust’ (AKA: Deadly Manor) into your VCR and pressed play you assume you;re in for a horrific, brutal sex picture with plenty of nudity and gore to burn your dirty retinas on. And you would be partially correct in that assumption. I rented the crusty old VHS copy of  ‘Savage Lust’ from my local haunt, Video 21, and brought it on home where I gave it a spin.

Right away I was shocked to see this thing came out in the year 1990 since it looked to have the fashion sense and production value of a film shot roughly a decade earlier. Not only that, but this sucker was directed by José Ramón Larraz who helmed some pretty decent horror movies in Europe including an all time favorite of mine, the flesh filled, lesbian blood sucker epic, ‘Vampyres’ in 1975 (under the name Joseph Larraz). Which makes this one even stranger, seeing as it looks really, really, shitty. Which I ‘m not sure is due to a ridiculously low budget, filmmaker apathy towards the material or maybe both…

Anyway, the film starts off just like any old slasher flick with a group of friends heading to a secluded cabin by the lake. No, not Crystal Lake, but Lake…uh, Okapanukey? Along the way they pick up a potentially dangerous hitchhiker, get a flat tire, and encounter a goofy police officer all in the span of ten minutes. And, no, the cliches do not end there. As the sun begins to set our gang pulls over and heads into the woods where they come across an old, presumably abandoned mansion. A secluded, abandoned mansion with a wrecked car as a predominantly displayed lawn ornament, several coffins in the basement, preserved scalps in a closet, a bedroom plastered with black and white photos of a creepy nekkid lady, and the typical coffee table photo album of neatly lined up nekkid dead people.

Oddly enough, this hardly raises a red flag for any of our thirty-something year old teenage protagonists and they decide to SPEND THE NIGHT THERE. What could possibly go right?

How quaint...

But just as you begin to feel comfortable as a jaded, scene it all, horror fan the movie starts throwing curve balls. People start getting killed off in a completely random order unlike any slasher film I’ve ever watched. People you expect to be heroes are killed mid way through, folks you assume will be red herrings till the end die at the most unexpected times and this gives the film a cool effect  because you’re never, ever, really sure who is going to die and when. The beat of the typical slasher film is way off and this creates a feeling of unease and even dread in the viewer. This could be intentional or just really poorly done pacing, but in the end it works in the film’s favor.

Also, when the killer is revealed it is pretty bizarre. Is it a ghost? A creature of some sort? A deformed psychopath? Who knows? The movie keeps you wondering just what the fuck is going on up until the final reveal and explanation which I found to be somewhat unique in the realm of the slasher film. It’s an M.O.  that’s become a little customary but the dealer of death this time around doesn’t feel old and worn to death.

But what is burned into my brain is this really sleazy sex scene between one of our main fellas, whose girlfriend goes missing early on in the film and he hardly cares, and a mysterious Afroed red headed big hootered woman. It’s this strange sequence which comes out of left field and seems almost hallucinatory gratuitous, totally nekkid, bump and grind sequence is inter cut with visuals of deformed faces, busted eye balls and pulpy, freshly yanked off scalps. Now, the woman doing the bonking is not an attractive lady by any means, but she is smiling ear to ear and looks to be having a blast as she simulates getting it on with her mildly latino, chiseled beef cake fuck buddy.  It’s the stand out scene of the whole movie for me and the one I will remember whenever I think about ‘Savage Lust’. And I will think of it.

"Come on, honey, this is fine art! It will look great in the living room!"

 

The mansion itself is also one dang creepy place. It’s dank, dusty, cob webbed and that master bedroom filled with nekkid pictures is just plan disturbing. You cannot help but wonder just what kind of pervy freak lives in this place. you also cannot help but wonder WHY IN THE NAME OF SAM HELL ARE THESE KNUCKLE NOBS STAYING HERE? Man, I would take my chances against the elements in the woods rather than stay in a house with a collection still drippy scalps and a moist, stinky, made bed ready to be slept in by the person who obviously still inhabits the place!I’d much rather risk dying of exposure than worry about those home owners showing up.

‘Savage Lust’ is far from a good movie. No, it’s complete trash. It looks like the film was dipped in beef gravy before being transfered to VHS, the acting is middle school drama department level and the effects are ridiculous. But the film still manages to be a bit creepy and even pulls off something few slasher films ever did after 1984, surprise the viewer!

Maybe I am being overly kind to ‘Savage Lust’ by saying it pulls off a few unexpected treats here and there but I found myself enjoying this little dumpster nugget. It’s so awkward and dodgy that it ended up endearing itself to this sick, disturbed, trash cinema collector’s heart.

I would only recommend ‘Savage Lust’ to those of you who are truly devoted to the art of sleaze and horror hand dipped in thick, nacho, cheese. It’s not a good movie. No, sir. But it’s a lost gem and a perfect example of why we love Trash Cinema.

Now if only I could work the term “Savage Lust” into some pillow talk…

Stay Trashy,

-Root

“She has a lust for life…pray it’s not yours!” Sorry, couldn’t track down a trailer.

 

07
Jul
11

Noel, July’s Devil Girl of the Month (NSFW)

Hey Gang, The Primal Root here, and I am incredibly proud and honored to present to you our Devil Girl for the Month of July, Noel! She has delivered us an exceptionally, bloody, sexy, demonic set entitled, “Deadly Sins”. Noel’s a good fiend of ours here at the Trash Cinema Collective and I hope my fellow Collectors out there will give her the enthusiastic and warm welcome she so deserves. Enjoy and Stay Trashy!

Here’s what Noel had to say about her Devil Girl of the Month spread:

I’d always wanted to shoot in this dank, old, haunted attic that a friend of mine owned. There were always creepy sounds coming from it, and stuff would be moved the next day. Finally I just decided I HAD to do a scary set up there, and what better than a carnivorous demon? “Deadly Sins” is a demon set that was both fun yet terrifying to shoot. I kept hitting random cold spots in the attic (despite it being summer outside), and some of the photos didn’t come up on the computer because they were corrupted. Despite the creepiness, it was a very fun experience. – Noel

photography by Pitchfork Studios in Indiana

Looking for more Noel? Check out her site! www.noelsnaughtynook.com




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