Posts Tagged ‘horror

09
Apr
20

Evils of the Night (1985): Invasion of the Platelet Snatchers

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“Why you touchin’ my nipples like that?” – Jerry Butler as Eddie in Evils of the Night (1985)

a Primal Root written review

Man, the 1980’s seemed like a magical time when I was a child. I was born into them, 1982, as a matter of fact. The world was new to me, a bright, Technicolor spray of vomit filled with wonder, excitement, lessons and ideas that would boggle my mind and shape me into who I am today. Of course, later you lear the 1980’s were fucking terrible to huge, wide ranging section of our American society and the world abroad. You had the AIDS epidemic, the war on drugs, intense poverty rather than the prosperity Ronald Reagan’s trickle down economics gave us, the Iran Contra scandal, the shameful treatment of our Vietnam veterans…It was just was basically the pre-show entertainment before 2020. But  through the eyes of a fresh faced youth, the world was all Hi-C, chicken nuggets, movie monsters and big bouncy boobs.

But were you also aware that far off in distant galaxies they had it just as rough in the 1980’s? And, no, I’m not talking about Star Wars, besides, that happened a long time ago. No, I’m talking about the severe platelet shortage of 1985 that affected whatever planet John Carradine and Julie Newmar are from. What are platelets you ask? I’m glad you asked!

plate·let
/ˈplātlit/

noun

PHYSIOLOGY
plural noun: platelets
  1. a small colorless disk-shaped cell fragment without a nucleus, found in large numbers in blood and involved in clotting.

 

As we all know, the best platelets of all come from humans in their late teens, early 20’s which is why back in 1985 vast intergalactic civilizations were landing their UFO’s at local Lover’s Lanes, taking over abandoned hospitals, hiring sociopathic mechanics by paying them in gold coins to kidnap and deliver them captured kids, so that their platelets could be removed and beamed up to their Mother Ship for the survival of their species. Only, these brilliant civilizations with their space age technology never considered the one flaw in their planning…summer vacation!

“Network men analyzed many places and they decided that this was the ideal secluded college town. Well, Network was correct up to a point, but research didn’t know about summer vacations. College is closed until September which is too late for our purposes.” – Dr. Kozmar (John Carradine); Evils of the Night

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Okay, maybe that wasn’t ACTUALLY happening in the 1980’s but it sure as shit was going down at the Drive-In’s and Indoor Theaters of the time thanks to one of the strangest, most absurd and, to my amazement, thoroughly engrossing low budget amalgams of slasher horror, sci-fi and teen sex comedy I’ve ever witnessed, Evils of the Night.

Before the credits even roll we see the landing of a UFO from a far flung galaxy. No narration, no clue the what, when or where, and the credits unspool over two unlucky couples who decided to get it on under the cover of darkness in the woods surrounding the local lover’s lake. One couple gets right to it deep in the woods, where the couple next to the lake decides to smoke some of The Devil’s Harvest, before swimming and THEN plan on pummeling the her love piñata. “Great, now we can get HIGH!” the young man exclaims as the young bikini vixen pulls a dank joint from her thong clad crotch region. In a matter of second we are treated to some full frontal nudity from the sex starved co-ed in the woods before they start banging away doggy style after she lick lubes his rump splitter, while another cute couple gets high and goes swimming. She even gives him the rarest of sexual acts, the under water oral. Gang, I do not understand the logistics here. Then again, I am a severe asthmatic, so I can’t hold me breath all that long, especially not long enough to truly deliver any kind of memorable oral pleasure. But I guess it’s the effort that’s really endearing. Perhaps it’s different for you folks with normal, healthy, designer brand lungs. Feel free to let me know of your beneath the surface sexual encounters in the comments.

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Anyhoo, it all feels like the beginnings of  genuinely lovely evening, when all of a sudden some elderly gents wearing ski masks and grease stained mechanic work shirts…with their names on them, descend upon the young couple and leads to one of my favorite kills I’ve ever seen. You know that couple that is going at it with the fella burrowing from behind? Well, one of the masked mechanics sneaks up behind him and strangles him to death while his lascivious lover continues to pound out the veil! It’s fucking fantastic, she has no idea he is dead and continues to ride the fuck trolly to Mr. Fleshpod’s neighborhood! She steadily slows her motion as she realizes something is wrong, turns around, and is abducted. It is one of the funniest, perversely sexiest and simultaneously disturbing kills I’ve seen in a while. I know there’s something similar to this in Adam Green’s bland 2010 slasher film, Hatchet II, but Evils Of The Night did it to much greater impact, if you ask me.

Wait a minute, that’s 80’s porn star Crystal Breeze fucking the strangled corpse of her lover playing “First Girl Having Sex!” Would you believe this is the same year she starred in The Sperminator, Flaming Tongues and Cummin’ Alive as well as nineteen other porn flicks? Man, 1985 was a busy year for Crystal! Not only did she deliver the EXCEPTIONAL full frontal female nudity, but she also knocked her brief roll out of the park. Crystal, you are a legend and us sleazoids are forever in your debt.

One of the abducted teens, the stoner boy in tiny shorts, comes to in the abandoned hospital now inhabited by sexy ALIEN nurses wearing tiny glittery skirts and and several damn pounds of hairspray and make-up. He manages to escape while the two nurses, I shit you not, begin suggestively fondling one another. Huh? So, tiny shorts manages to overhear Dr. Kozmar (John Carradine) and Dr. Zarma’s (Julie Newmar) plan to extract as many platelets as possible from their victims before they die, any extracted after death, contaminates the whole batch. The platelets are used to stop bone deterioration int he elders of their kind and ALSO allows for them to live for hundreds of year. So, would it be accurate to call these platelet snatchers from beyond infinity intergalactic vampires? Feels accurate to me! Tiny Shorts then escapes into the woods only to be blasted to death with neon green lasers from one of the nurses. In his final moments, he gives one of the most spastic and wonderful laser guided death performances I’ve ever seen.

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Cut to the next day at Lover’s Lake where all the cool kids are sipping on Pepsi, swimming, playing pranks, spying on two topless girls covering one another in tanning oil which, in turn, inspires your girls friend to take her top off and try to fuck you on the beach, which you turn down. Seriously, it looks like this Lover’s Lake is happening with a bunch fun loving kids. The stand out amongst them, and who the poster art seems to be featuring, is the blonde in a tight, white and red horizontally striped shirt named Connie (G.T. Taylor, this is her only film role) who is incredibly sweet and kind of a dunce, but is a genuinely fun and charming character to be around. She’s out camping with her friends Brian (David Hawk, in his only film role), Heather (Bridget Holloman from Slumber Party ’57 and Stoogemania) and the engaged to be married love birds Ron (Keith Fisher from Cyberon and an episode of Diff’rent Strokes) and Nancy (Karrie Emerson, the raven haired beauty from Chopping Mall and White Dog). They spend their days frolicking in the sun and at night they put their hands in their campfire to see who is the better man (hint: It’s the man smart enough NOT to injure himself to prove his manhood) and talk about penises.  “Why make a big deal out of such a small thing?” Connie asks as Brian and Ron debate sticking their dicks in the fire to prove their manhood.

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From Left to Right: Ron (Keith Fisher), Nancy (Karrie Emerson), Connie (G.T. Taylor), Heather (Bidget Holloman) Brian (David Hawk)

There’s another unrelated couple who break into the cleanest, most well kept abandoned home I’ve ever seen. There’s no shit stains on the fuck mattress, the floors looks to be freshly swept and mopped, none of the windows are busted and there’s narry a cigarette butt, beer can or crusted over used condom in sight! What kind of abandoned, haunted fuck shack is this? Anyhoo, the couple Eddie (Jerry Butler as Paul Siederman, prolific porn actor from 1987 to 1995. You may have seen him the XXX films Snake Eyes (1985) or Star Angel (1986) and Joyce (legendary porn actress, Amber Lynn, who is STILL working in the adult industry to this very day, which is remarkably long career in pornography. She has won to AVGN Awards, one for best Sex Scene in a Feature Adult Film in 1986’s Ten Little Maidens and one in 2018’s Humanitarian Achievement Award) strip down and start going to town on the incredibly posh mattress at this crab shack. Well, she strips nude anyway, he actually keeps his jeans on, which I will never understand in slasher films. Fellas, have you EVER fucked with your pants on? Are you afraid of losing them? It’s so much easier just to take them off, I cannot even imagine the zipper burn one would inflict on their wang doodle. Also, I would be remiss if I did not mention Eddie’s dog lick form of smooching. This guy licks Joyce like a canine going after piece of Beefaroni. It’s probably the most energetic moment in the film as he licks all over Joyce’s tits and neck and chin and sucks on her chin, and it’s kind of…kind of gross. Perhaps that sort of tongue bath thing was the height of eroticism in 1985, but for me in 2020 it’s kind of gross.

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Joyce gets a tongue bath from Eddie in the nicest abandoned house I’ve ever seen.

Soon we learn that the masked mechanics are actually two great elderly screen actors who turned to horror cinema as soon as the choice rolls stopped coming their way. The two murderous morons for hire are chunky yet fleet-footed Fred (Aldo Ray from many classic films of the 50’s like 1955’s We’re No Angels and 1958’s The Naked and The Dead and would later be featured in 1986’s Star Slammer and his final film, 1991’s Shock ’em Dead) and the intensely perverse and sociopathic Kurt (Neville Brand from the Oscar winning 1959 film Stalag 17, Birdman of Alcatraz from 1962. He eventually went the horror route with Tobe Hooper’s Eaten Alive in 1976, Without Warning in 1980, and Evils of the Night would be his final screen roll.)  These two are introduce as playful lunk heads as they maintain their auto repair shop, but that playful, dopey demeanor can turn on a dime as they strike without warning, cracking your skull with a tire iron, and putting you out with some either, and then dragging you to the abandoned hospital under the promise of gold coins so you can be sucked dry by the vampires from outer space!

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Kurt and Fred: The Burt and Ernie of Space Vampire Murder for Hire! Gold Coins only, please.

 

Let me tell you, Evils of the Night is one exceedingly fun and effective b-movie. It actually takes the time to get you invested in the teen characters, who are actually fun, sweet, kind and adorably dopey. They more often than not fight back with all their might against the aggressors and you cannot help but root for them, especially when it comes down to Connie, Heather and Brian who end up tied up in the clutches of the perpetually horny and blood thirsty Kurt. I’m not going to spoil anything, but anyone can die at anytime and it can be genuinely heart breaking because these characters are so much fun to be around. Not only that, but the reactions of friends watching friends die is deeply effective, too, and that goes a long way to making slasher film murder really impact the audience.  David Hawk, who plays Brian, deserves some recognition for really going above and beyond in his grief stricken, rage fueled performance. His is not the norm for such Trash Cinema, where the emotion feels greatly genuine and I found deeply unsettling. I began Evil of the Night laughing my ass off at the cheesiness of the proceedings, but by the films final act I was surprised to find myself rooting on characters in scenes that are actually suspenseful. It goes from laughably cheesy to legit horror out of nowhere and it’s enough to give you whiplash.

Evils of the Night (1985)

 

Evils of the Night was directed by first timer Mardi Rustam, who shows an affinity for low budget horror, which makes since, since he worked in some capacity as a producer on such legendary no budget horrors as Tobe Hooper’s Eaten Alive and Al Adamson’s Dracula vs. Frankenstein.  That’s one Hell of a schlock horror pedigree! It’s a shame he only directed one other film, James Dean: Race With Destiny in 1996, because Trash Cinema really could have used more films exciting, weird, and uncompromisingly unique as his debut feature. I know the gentleman is still alive, so who knows? Maybe he has a few filthy films left in him.

Evils of the Night  is an honest to goodness Trash Cinema treasure and one well worth checking out. It has a little something for everyone including fans of classic actors and actresses from the 50’s and 60’s as well a hard working porn stars of the 80’s! Whre the Hell else are you going to find the likes of Crystal Breeze porking a corpse while celebrated character actor Neville Brand drills holes (literally, with a drill, that’s not a sexual metaphor) into nubile young women?  It’s unpredictable, filled with fun, no budget science fiction tropes, great goofy characters, gore, one liners, gratuitous female nudity, awesome villains, awesome 80’s soundtrack and plenty of scenes that will either leave you laughing, scratching you head or actually hoping the characters you like survive…the EVILS OF THE NIGHT!

I am awarding Evils of the Night FIVE out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

WARNING! THIS EVILS OF THE NIGHT TRAILER CONTAINS MASSIVE SPOILERS! I HIGHLY RECOMMEND YOU DO NOT WATCH IT UNLESS YOU’VE ALREADY SEEN THE FILM!

Honestly, this trailer gives away the last third of the film and there are some awesome surprises and genuine shocks. Go see the movie first. I guarantee you won’t regret it.

 

 

 

 

20
Mar
20

Leprechaun (1993) Fuck you, Lucky Charms!

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“Try as they will, and try as they might, who steals me gold won’t live through the night.” The Leprechaun; Leprechaun (1993)

a Primal Root written review

The realm of mythical creatures is a veritable smorgasbord of imagination fuel and inspiration lubricant. From Trolls, to Goblins even Fairies, Dwarves and Elves. All can be extracted from the whimsical and often deeply unsettling tales and transplanted into a low-rent schlocky monster movie destined to go straight to video and find it’s cult following. It’s all just old world make believe where you can either choose to follow the rules already established in centuries of story telling, come up with your own bullshit to justify your no budget monster movie, or pick and choose some of both, toss them in your screenplay blender, and you’ll nearly make something at least entertaining 95% of the time.

Then there’s 1993’s Leprechaun, the film that sent the elementary school video rental kid into a tizzy as we reeled at the concept of something so absurd being transformed into something absolutely terrifying. It felt dirty, it felt cheap and it was genuinely unnerving to little kid Root, who grew up with children’s programming and sugary sweet cereal that ALWAYS portrayed Leprechaun’s as incredibly sweet creatures. Then you would catch the fucking trailer for Leprechaun and you had to reevaluate everything you once held sacred. It honestly wasn’t until Iw as about 11 or 12 when I finally got around to renting The Leprechaun and, well, it certainly didn’t live up to the unrelenting horror I had dreamed up in my head while looking at the VHS box on the shelf at Video 21. Sure, it’s not a very successful horror film, but it does have it’s…LUCKY charms. Uuughhh…I’m not even a Dad and I made that joke.

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The Leprechaun franchise, which runs eight films long and provided Warwick Davis paychecks during those dark days before the Harry Potter film series and Disney hadn’t yet bought the rights to Star Wars and begun shitting out empty husks of nostalgia, and sent the pint sized horror the the far off reaches of outer space (Leprechaun 4: In Space) to the the center of urban decay…TWICE (Leprechaun in the Hood, Leprechaun Back 2 Tha Hood). But it all began humbly enough back in 1993 with a little farm house in the middle of nowhere, a stolen bag of gold and yet to be known Friend.

The movie starts in 1983 with a sweaty, whiskey drenched old Irish guy named Dan O’Grady coming back home to his North Dakota farm house from his trip to Ireland and brags to his wife that he has stolen gold from a Leprechaun and that this is the last they’ll see of this old piece of shit farm! He goes to hide the gold, The Leprechaun turns out to have followed O’Grady home and murders Mrs. O’Grady by tossing her down the basement stairs before Dan grabs a four leaf clover and traps the Leprechaun in a crate down in the basement. O’Grady pours gasoline on the crate, strikes a match…then suffers stroke and falls to the floor before he gets the chance to torch the little malicious magical monster.

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Fast forward to 1993 and and Father and Daughter duo, J.D. Redding (John Sanderford) and Tory (Jennifer Aniston. Yes, THAT Jennifer Aniston) are driving out to North Dakota to live in the old, abandoned O’Grady farm house. As you might suspect, Jennifer Aniston’s character is a none stop whining, complaining, bitch of a character which feels king of like her entire career trajectory. Honesty, could you point me out a Jennifer Aniston character that is actually no a self obsessed spoiled shrew? Seriously, she has been playing the same character for decades with the same inflection, line delivery and mannerisms. She’s unbearable as ever, here, as rich, vegan, Evian water drinking wet blanket, Tory. Get used to it, because you’re going to spending a whole lot of time with her.

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Tory hates the place (SURPRISE, SURPRISE!) and makes plans to stay in a hotel until she meets a slab of beefcake painting the farm house who goes by the name of Nathan (Ken Olandt of April Fool’s Day & Summer School fame ) who mentions how “Girls are always afraid of spiders and dust” which brings out Tory’s feminist tendencies and, now, refuses to leave because she is a 90’s woman and not afraid of anything despite actually stating that she IS afraid of spiders, dust, dirt and manual labor not three minutes before. But, now she has something to prove to the hunky Nathan, so she will continue to miserable and complain for the length of the film.

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We are son introduced to the two most likable Non-Leprechaun characters in the film, Alex and Ozzie, who work with Nathan and his “Three Guys Who Paint” business . Alex (Robert Hy Gorman from Rookie of the Year & Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead) is Nathan’s 10 year old brother and Ozzie (Mark Holton from Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure & Teen Wolf) a man-child sort of fellow. These two banter, bicker and end up being the characters in charge of keeping to plot moving forward. Ozzie is the one who unleashes the Leprechaun from the crate while alone in the basement, and is threatened with having his ear bitten off and having it turned into a boot if he doesn’t fork over his stolen gold. It’s a baffling threat, but one I really like and have filed away to use at the proper moment in my own life when someone is giving me shit. Freddy never makes these kinds of intimidating aggressions. His is mostly observational puns, not really “I’m going to rip off this from your body and repurpose it entirely.” But, I digress…

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For the first half of the movie we basically get all the character mistaking The Leprechaun for an animal. Someone sees or feels something, claims it’s a Leprechaun, then it is blamed on a rat or a cat. I was personally hoping for someone to blame something on a bat so we could get the “at” trifecta in play, but it never happened, sadly. J.D., Tory’s Dad, even makes the idiotic mistake of reaching his entire fucking arm into a tree to try and GRAB what he thinks is an injured cat only to have his hand nearly bitten of by The Leprechaun. They rush poor old Pop to the hospital and we literally never see him again.

Meanwhile, Ozzie and Alex chase down the end of a rainbow which leads to an abandoned truck where Dan O’Grady stashed the stolen gold all those years ago. After Ozzie accidentally swallows a gold coin while attempting to bite it and prove that it’s real, (oh, Ozzie) they take the sack of coins into town and leave a coin over night with a rare coin specialist. But as the specialist goes to open up his safe to hide gold coin for the night, out busts The Leprechaun with a jig, a laugh, and well placed snaggle-toothed voracious bite to what is either the man’s upper leg for dangling ball sack. One thing must be mentioned about this film, the lighting is absolutely horrendous. Either the lighting it dull and flat as shit or it’s pitch black where you can hardly tell what’s happening. So, either way, Lep bites the shit out of the guy and drop him to the ground before threatening the guy in rhymes and then grabbing and nearby pogo stick, and I shit you not, pogo sticking the man to death. Yes, The Leprechaun gets on the pogo stick and bounces repeatedly on the mans chest while singing, “This old Lep, he played one, he played pogo on his lung!” In all honestly, this movie comes to life and becomes a Hell of a good time whenever Warwick shows up as The Leprechaun. The man is over the top, malicious and funny as shit. You can tell the guy is relishing the chance to play such an animated villainous character and is taking full advantage of the role.

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Soon, that night there is a brutal standoff at the old O’Grady farm house where the Leprechaun is willing to stop at nothing until he gets all 100 gold coins back. There’s even an exceptionally goofy action set piece where the Leprechaun hides out int he kitchen cabinets and Jennifer Aniston is throwing them open to Nathan can blast the shit out of them with his shot gun, only The Leprechaun is too quick and keeps taunting the hapless heroes which leads to Leprechaun reaching his arm out of a drawer and clamps his claws around Nathan’s nuts and squeezes them like a pair of grapes. It’s a hilarious moment and genuinely one of the few comedic moments that really work.

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This final half of the film feels like it consists of none stop chases where The Leprechaun tries out multiple modes of transportation to catch his victims. He tries roller skates, go-carts, hospital gurneys, wheel chairs, modified tractors, etc. They speed up the film to make it look like he just might catch them, but it ends up looking ridiculous and just makes you chuckle.

Towards the end of the film. Jennifer Aniston gives The Leprechaun his sack of gold, only for The Leprechaun to realize there’s a single could missing and it’s currently making it’s way through Ozzies poop chute. The Leprechaun gives chase to Ozzie and begins slashing the hell out of the guy with his boot buckle to try and get his gold back. Will Ozzie end up having his guts ripped out by The Leprechaun? Will Jennifer Aniston’s STOP complaining for a moment and try to help someone? While Nathan perhaps display some simple competence and maybe notice, after shooting The Leprechaun for the 100th time, filling The Lep full of led DOESN’T WORK? With Alex use his cunning slingshot skills to win the day? You’ll have to check out Leprechaun to find out!

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There is one shining, glittering bit of solid gold in the film Leprechaun and it is obviously Warwick Davis. The man has brought to life countless popular characters and his turn as The Leprechaun is truly a treat to behold. The man brings so much life to what is otherwise a shockingly dull, bland and dishearteningly unimaginative slog. Whenever Warwick is on screen, you forget how bored you’ve been for the last several minutes and it keeps you hooked and waiting for his next goofy, fun, nasty over the top appearance. The kills, besides the pogo stick death, are all underwhelming. There’s an extended foot chase with a police office through the woods you anticipate will have a great death scene, but instead, The Leprechaun simply snaps the police officer’s neck. Dude, this scene takes up what feels like fifteen minutes of screen time and all you can deliver is the actor turning his head and adding the sound of someone snapping celery? Shit like that is fucking annoying. You spend that much time chasing someone in a slasher movie, you better make it worth the time.

Leprechaun almost come off like a PG-13 horror flick. There’s literally no sexuality whatsover. Not a pair of bare breasts in sight. The gore is hardly there. There’s some bloody stuff, including an eye removal, but this content would probably be presented on prime time television without even needing to be censored. It almost feels like it was made for TV and has a kind of flat, poorly produced hollow quality to it. It’s the very bare beginnings of a franchise I really feel gets better as it goes and the more outlandish and silly the story devices become. By the time The Leprechaun heads to space, the creative minds behind the ongoing series realized that campiness works REALLY well for the series. Plus they realized sex and violence are ALSO why I’m spending my money and time on this, so they began shoehorning tits and more gore as the series continued and got far more creative with the stories they had to tell.

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Leprechaun (1993) is that cinematic rarity, a first entry in the series that just might be the least interesting. All the elements and ideas are there for the taking, and thankfully, those franchise entries that came in the original’s wake took full advantage of the possibilities this pint sized mythical monster has to offer.

I’m awarding Leprechaun ONE AND A HALF out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets.

The true Pot o’ Gold is further on this rainbow of a series.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

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23
Jan
20

(NSFW) Mausoleum (1983): Demonic Wife? Run For Your Life!

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a Primal Root written review

“I haven’t been this nervous since I’ve been black!” – LaWanda Page as Elsie in Mausoleum

Marriage can be trickier than the Double Dare obstacle course. Yes, it is fun and there are prizes, but you can also end up covered in bizarre substances that are somehow both liquid AND solid and are probably rancid and no matter how many times you reach up that giant nose willed with bright green frosting snot you just CAN. NOT. FIND that fucking orange flag to move on to the brown icing slide! Sure, it should be a piece of cake, but when two people come together and make the decision to spend their lives with one another, they also bring with them their lifetime of emotional baggage as well that shaped them deep down into who they are today.  That stuff will manifest and a test of the strength of a marriage often boils down to how both partners in the relationship react to these issues when they manifest. We all have our demons. And then there’s Susan Walker Farrel and the literal malicious, flesh carving, pussy popping demon residing in her cerebral cortex.

That’s right, at a very young age, Susan (Julie Christy Murray) loses her mother and is so traumatized  by the loss she decides to take off in a sprint from her Mother’s funeral (whose only attendees were her and her Aunt Cora) and seek solace within an old mausoleum which produces it’s own yellow steam and is lit up like cheap haunted house inside replete with lightning and thunder effects despite it being a sunny, gorgeous day outside. If you ask me, there might be some deep symbolism here that this mausoleum represents the place we try to lay to rest and repress traumatic memories where we hope they will be forgotten the rest of our days and we can pretend it never happened. Okay, yeah, probably thinking far too deeply into this monster movie, but at least I like to think the creative minds behind Mausoleum are trying.

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Susan goes into this mausoleum, removes a crown of thorns from a tomb filled with glowing fog and something living within…something…with razor sharp claws. Bestowed upon Susan are telekinetic powers which make her eyes glow neon green, which she puts to work immediately when a homeless man enters the same mausoleum to see if she needs help. Being a strong, independent person who needs no help, she proves this point by psychically exploding the top of his skull off and squirting out a nice gush of brain matter across the Los Angeles cemetery as he is running away in terror. Teach that mother fucker to ask a woman if she is in need of assistance. Susan bows to NO MAN!

Fast forward twenty years or so and Susan (Bobbie Bresee, a blonde, voluptuous, mature bombshell from Surf Nazis Must Die and Evil Spawn)  is married to the lovable Oliver (who is played by Marjoe Gortner whom Trash Cinema fans will probably recognize from 1978’s Star Wars knock off Star Crash, but was also the subject of the 1972 documentary Marjoe, an expose on the business of religion and a documentary about Marjoe’s upbringing as a child evangelist preacher, it’s pretty outstanding and led to a life of eclectic Trash Cinema roles, such as Mausoleum, here…anyway, I digress… ) and they are living their best lives in a fucking ENORMOUS mother fucking mansion for just the two of them in the middle of nowhere. I believe this was early 80’s middle class living…

 

Susan and Oliver decide to go to a local dance club to have a few drinks and dance the night away! They’re not there five minutes before some drunk off his ass, Kenny Rogers doppelganger begins rubbing his only slightly unflacid tube steak all over Susan on the dance floor, rudely interrupting her and Oliver’s fantastic middle aged white person disco gyrating thereby nearly leads to fisticuffs between to two 1980’s prototypical male suitors trying to flaunt their stuff for Susan.  Cooler heads prevail as Susan and Oliver head outside, but the drunken beardo stumbles outside, belching, farting and fondling around in his pockets for his keys. He makes the mistake of bumping into Susan and Oliver before getting into his sagging piece of shit Chevy and…Susan’s eyes go bright green as the Kenny Roger’s look alike get roasted alive in his own car as Susan psychically sets it alight! Oliver tries to save the drunken moron, but to no avail. The car explodes like a tater in the microwave and the charmless scumbag is now a smoking husk.

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Aunt Cora (Laura Hippe) is becoming anxious about Susan’s well being as it is soon to be the anniversary of Susan’s Mother’s demise and she also has a lovely, leather bound book all about the Nomed Family history that spells out demon possession and blood rage for every woman in the Nomed family at the point in their lives. Aunt Cora pleads with Susan’s therapist, Dr. Andrews (Norman Burton) but it falls on the deaf ears of science and he refuses to believe there is anything wrong with Susan besides the lingering trauma of Susan losing her Mom at such an early age. But it isn’t long before Susan begins her demonic midlife crisis when one morning the couple’s lecherous gardener, Ben (Maurice Sherbanee)  starts moving in on her and getting VERY sexual harassment/rapey when he notices Oliver is gone for the day.  It’s like flicking a switch, Maurice is allowed in and she is immediately terrified of him and cowers away. But then, as soon as Ben leaves to go chop the shit out of a stump with an axe,  Susan gets those sexy glowing green eyes again and decides to go upstairs and get totally nekkid for the audience, and Gang, Ms. Bresee is stacked like a can of Pringles. She then puts on a towel, heads out to her balcony, makes sure to get Ben’s attention…AND DROPS HER TOWEL AGAIN revealing her lovely mammaries. Now, I have to ask, why the towel? I guess it was to hide her bush from the camera on the six foot journey over to the balcony, but she isn’t shy about showing of her hedge maze later in the film! Again, thinking far too much into this movie…

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So, of course, Susan fucks Ben’s brains out in the garage a time or two (excellent stamina, Ben, you over the hill rapey gardener, you!) and then proceeds to till Ben’s head and chest regions with a rusty hand rake, spraying blood and gore all over the garage and strategically placed U-Haul packing blankets that are no doubt also covered with the steadily crusting sloppy pleasure plunger drippings from their recent concrete floor garage sexcapade. So long, Ben, you were a piece of shit and a terrible landscaper as evidenced by a montage from earlier showing him eating lunch, spitting on his tools and sleeping by the couple’s enormous private lake.

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The next morning Aunt Cora heads over to the house with some paperwork pertaining to Susan’s inheritance she is due to receive now that she is thirty, of course, she finds Susan upstairs totally transformed into a hideous, glowing green eyed demon! Susan levitates Aunt Cora over the railing from their third floor bedroom and uses her telekinetic powers to rip poor Aunt Cora in half. You don’t get to see it all, but the effect is pretty brutal, none the less, as Aunt Cora’s chest begins to slowly but surely come open. It’s pretty fucking mean and I have no idea who Susan kept blood from getting all over the plush carpeting downstairs. I suppose we can just chock it up to the powers evil. Evil makes everything possible, doesn’t it?

That night Oliver wakes up to find his wife sitting in a rocking chair in their bedroom fully transformed into the hideous she demon and, instead of screaming in abject horror at the absolute, unspeakable nightmare that this reality would be to wake up to, he quietly sneaks out of bed and heads down to their posh basement bar to call Dr. Andrews and calmly, casually discuss the fact his wife suddenly has glowing green eyes, the complexion of an enraged hemorrhoid,  and a gob full of shark teeth forcing her to be a drooling mouth breather, rather than grabbing the keys, bolting out the door and driving off into the sunset at top speed to start a new life with a woman who ain’t in league with Satan. As you might expect, the doctor says there’s no such thing as demons and asks Oliver to tell Susan to go see him. Which he does, and Susan agrees. The next morning, their housekeeper, Elsie (LaWanda Page) heads upstairs to check on Susan only to find the room glowing green and the fog machine on overdrive. Elsie, rushes downstairs, takes a couple shots of “the good stuff” which she hasn’t had a drop of “since she found religion” and mentions “I haven’t been this nervous since I was black!” Both humorous and strikingly poignant bit of dialog reminding us of the dangers of simply being African American in our society, even in 1983. Elise downs her liquor and proves herself the only sensible soul in the movie and heads for the hills never to be heard from again and, I presume, is living the good life on her own private island in the son. Elsie, we hardly knew you, but you brought a special light into our lives through the schlock shake that is, Mausoleum. We bid you, adieu.

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During her trip to Dr. Andrews Susan undergoes hypnosis. After a pretty impressive breakdown over her Mother’s death proving those cars are still pretty deep and easily torn open, the demon emerges and Susan transforms right before the doctor’s eyes taunting him that “I WAS HERE THE WHOLE TIME AND YOU NEVER KNEW!” Needless to say, those green eyes, freaky face and gnarly ass teeth make a quick believer out of Dr. Andrews. Believing this is no longer a mental illness medicine can alleviate, Dr. Andrews researches the family history in that handy dandy leather bound book poor, old, ripped into pieced Aunt Cora gave to him earlier in the film, and it turns out every first born daughter of the family Nemod (IT’S DEMON SPELLED BACKWARDS! THIS IS THEIR KINGDOM!) and, in the meantime, Susan decides to kill another landscaper she seduced into their mansion with her boobs and then telkinetically crushes his skull which squirts out one of his eyeballs into his hand and leaves blood all over the kitchen for Oliver to clean up when he gets home. Seriously, Oliver doesn’t even really question the blood, just whether or not Susan is okay. She shrugs of the blood all over the kitchen and says she’s too tired to discuss it and goes to bed. Oliver seems okay with this somehow…

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Susan steals a painting from the mall after levitating the gallery’s owner from the top floor of a mall and impaling him on an umbrella below before heading home to take a bubble bath and sweet talk her perturbed husband and treat us to some slightly hidden full frontal nudity before transforming and giving us full frontal she demon action and revealing her gnarly, flesh hungry demon tits! Will Dr. Andrews make it to the stately mansion in time to put an end to this foul demons reign of gore drenched terror or will Susan be lost to the ancient inherited evil forever? Also, enjoy one head scratcher of a twist int he last shot of the film. If you have any theories as to what that final shot means, please, let me know in the comments. Thanks in advance!

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Mausoleum is silly, schlocky and often hilariously over the top and bizarre. It plays like a really well constructed carnival fun house with plenty of fun visual flourishes, imaginative gore and make-up effects as well as a cast who takes the whole story and their performances seriously. It all adds up to a highly enjoyable, well produced but very bad and highly pleasurable piece of Trash Cinema. It has everything you could possibly want, Blood, Breasts and Beasts, a stable of actors willing to give it their all despite how silly it all is and they end up looking and a story that tries REALLY hard to bring some new shit to the demon possession table and sometimes manages to pull it off. I love the idea of burying your emotions and never truly expressing them or letting them out can manifest into something absolutely horrible later in life to the detriment to everyone around you. I mean, who the Hell knows if that’s what filmmaker Michael Dugan of Super Seal (1976) and Raging Hormones (1999) fame or writers Robert Madero (Camp Utopia (2002), Battered (2014) had in mind, but it feels like they were reaching for something legit to say with this film. But whether you want to read into this thing or not, it’s filthy, freakish pleasures will be enough to sustain those looking for a simple, mindless, cheap thrill heavy trip through the spookhouse. Mausoleum is a strange horror film oddity that’s well worth raiding the crypt for.

 

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

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

 

 

 

 

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!

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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

 

 

 

 

18
Dec
19

To All A Goodnight (1980) or Why Is There No Holiday Orgy at The Finishing School?

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“Lock your door, too. I want you to be safe, Nancy. There’s evil here, I can feel it. The Devil’s here.” – Ralph the Caretake, To All A Goodnight

Merry Trashmas, Gang! Man, there’s nothing that gives me the warm fuzzies this time of year like huddling in front of the dumpster fire, roasting rats over an open flame and popping in a classic holiday themed horror film, of which, there is a veritable plethora to choose from. There’s one I’ve always tried to make it through, however. But the bootlegs have been so terrible, I never quite made it to the end due to me being unable to make out just what the Hell was happening through the dark, muddy pictures. It’s a slasher film from 1980, right when the slasher film boom was really taking off entitled To All A Goodnight. It’s a Christmas slasher which takes place at a finishing school for girls over the holiday break. So, having seen a slasher or two over the years I know exactly what to expect. Women bickering, some tits and ass and good, old fashioned splatter. But what really caught my attention was that this film is directed by none other than Wes Craven’s Last House on the Left alumni, David Hess! Yes, the man of a million exploitation horror flicks. If there’s one guy who knows how twisted the horror genre can be, it’s David Hess, so naturally, my imagination soared and my expectations grew…

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Prolific exploitation horror actor David Hess, how could this man NOT make a great slasher film?

With the recent release of an official blu-ray I decided to finally hunker down and give To All a Goodnight a go. And, man…it’s a pretty stripped down and bare bones affair, almost a prototypical slasher film with all the trimmings you’ve come to expect. The isolated location, a holiday setting, teens getting laid, smoking the wacky tabacky, the old crazy harbinger who warns of impending doom, inept law enforcement and a handful of red herrings. Even in 1980, the rules were just about commandments chiseled in stone where just about literally anyone could follow the formula and make a slasher formula that would make it’s money back and perhaps some profit.

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But, I digress, what To All A Goodnight lacks in originality, it makes up for it with an absolutely inept script, hilariously bad effects, and some actors that are either chomping the scenery or are lost without a map which makes for one of those peculiar viewing experiences where you are fully aware that what you are watching is sub-par, but you cannot look away because the film is littered with preciously stupid moments of non sequitur that are just as funny as they are baffling. It’s all these little misfires from a first time filmmaker that make To All A Goodnight such an interesting watch, even if it’s not a hugely successful piece of Trash Cinema.

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To All A Goodnight begins with a an inciting incident taking place two years ago where a girl is chased through the finishing school by her classmates chanting “SORORITY! SORORITY!” while wearing Santa hats. She runs out to an upper balcony and looks genuinely afraid of her fellow girls in finishing, before she leaps from the balcony when startled, turns into an obvious dummy, hits the ground and dies. The sequence literally takes all of 90 seconds and is so shoddy it looks like a backyard movie made one Sunday afternoon by bored teenagers.

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The leftover residents at Calvin Finishing School For Girls, which consist of five ravenously horny girls (one with an accent) and one younger girl who has never been kissed and is played Jennifer Runyun, you know, the woman who played Female Test Subject in the original Ghostbusters that Dr. Venkman calls a “legitimate phenomenon”? Yeah, this was her very first film and is the obvious final girl. There’s also a motherly figure in the cook who is looking after them as well as a tall, blonde, harbinger of doom who creeps around the enormous mansion these lucky girls inhabit carrying a huge bare of gardening sheers and constantly telling the girls the pray and that he can sense evil in the house. There’s also this woman who drops by who proclaims to be acquainted with death after losing all three of her husbands. She show up, drops off some cannoli, mentions how everything dies and then vanishes into the night never to be seen or heard from again.

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Mystery Girl

Oh yeah, and there’s one other girl who doesn’t eat dinner with the other girls and has no lines. She is seen in her bedroom stripping nekkid for a fellow in the yard yelling her name repeatedly. They are both stabbed to death by the killer quickly, quietly and without much fanfare. Again, the super cute blonde nekkid girl basically gets nekkid, gets dressed, goes outside smiling and is stabbed immediately without uttering a single line or being mentioned, ever, by the rest of the girls. Anyway, thanks for the mammaries, mystery girl!

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So, the fiery redhead among the group has a fuck buddy who is super wealthy and flies in for the weekend at the finishing schools private runway under the cover of darkness. This rich guy is so thoughtful he brings along a batch of studs with him to entertain the other girls as well. But, wouldn’t you know it, there’s only enough for the experienced girls, Nancy the virgin is left out entirely. If only they had brought the pilot with them up to the house, who is played by none other than legendary porn actor HARRY REEMS! You may remember him from Deep Throat!  The only genuine talent in the whole film and he is hardly in it. Gent had MORE than enough to entertain all the ladies up at Calvin House. Now THAT Would have been an entertaining movie…

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Harry Reems, here to stuff those stockings!

Cut to the the den of this stately mansion and one of these jocko’s is playing a guitar and can’t sing worth a shit and everyone is sitting around not talking, not looking at one another, as if they’re ashamed to be there. It could be pre-orgy tension, but I have a feeling it’s just dreadful direction and bad actors. Quick sideline, can someone tell me WHY these slasher flicks don’t contain orgies or group sex of any kind? These people sit around, bored out of their minds, yet obviously horny and willing to swap partners (which becomes apparent later in the film), so why, if you are in a tight space filled with other horny folks, do you not just drop your drawers and starts getting it on with the whole crew? Then again, I guess then you can;t pair people off to be killed around the property…maybe this is just my own personal preference/fantasy. Well, enough about me…  The boredom doesn’t last long as one character has her throat slit by someone in a Santa costume, and two more are murdered using a crossbow and an ax wielded by someone dressed in a suit of armor who had been watching them diddle one. The killer had to stand there, perfectly still, for hours just hoping someone would come fuck in front of them, and then would have wait for the ideal moment during the pork session to strike. Talk about commitment!

As the sun rises the survivors have a casual breakfast and seem to not give a shit about their vanished comrades. They’re too busy basking in the afterglow of one another’s late night pee squishing to care about almost half a dozen missing people. Even the cook who is watching over the girls seems nonplussed by the fact that there are now boys here she is having to cook for, too. It’s not long, however, before the virignal Nancy, while being chased around by a nerdy guy in glasses who wants to bang her, trips over the bloody, bug eyed corpse of Ralph the caretaker, whose body shoots up out of the shrubs like a goddamn whack-a-mole! It’s so close to being a moment of genuine shock, and in it’s cartoon lunacy has all the trappings of a true bit of nightmare imagery, but it left me with only giggles.

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The cops are called and everyone is told to stay indoors and look the doors and windows and there is a rift between the survivors. Some are sure that the missing members of the posse are surely dead, too, while the others refuse to believe they are in any real danger whatsoever. So, the swap fuck partners, some go outside to die, others go upstairs to fuck the cops and then strip nekkid, giving us full frontal, and when confronted with dead bodies, severed heads and a knife wielding killer Santa which SURELY spells dismemberment for the victim only leads them to put on a kimono and begging dancing and singing around the house. Huh?

And it’s all down to the final girl and nerdy boy to fight for their lives against the blood thirsty Santa Claus in the labyrinthine mansion. There are some twists and turns that even the most unversed horror fan will see coming a mile away, but it’s still quite a bit of fun watching To All A Goodnight stumble, fall, get up and then trip over their feet again as they hurtle themselves towards the film’s climax.

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It’s no wonder why David Hess never made a full length feature again because it looks like he had a tough time crafting this awkward chunk of strange, alas, his legacy will always be a captivating rape/revenge exploitation film heavyweight. The narrative of To All A Goodnight is all over, the dialogue is clunky, the gore effects are phony, but you get the feeling everyone is giving it what they can and no one really knows just what the Hell they’re doing, which gives To All A Good Night a sweet sort of homemade quality to it, which I really dig. There a nice couple moments of ladies getting nekkid with a bit of full frontal, which always helps liven things up, but the whole this is such bizarre hodge podge of tropes that were all, just at that moment in time, beginning to coagulate into the slasher formula that it nearly feels like a spoof…only it’s never intentionally funny, although unintentionally hilarious at times.

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To All A Goodnight is a Trash Cinema oddity, one worth checking if you are curious or a completest and might test the patience of the general movie going public. But for those of us who can see the bright side of a chunky, clunky, forgotten slasher film, To All A Good Night provides some holiday sugar to help was down the boring parts.

I’m awarding To All A Good Night TWO AND A HALF out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

27
Nov
19

The Happy Pill (2019): Put On A Happy Face

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a Primal Root written review

Life can become a nightmare. Work, family, relationships, daily interactions, it all begins to pile up and soon it feels as if the only escape we can find is when we shut our eyes and fade to sleep. Of course, this kind of lifestyle is enough to drive us all to the breaking point, and writer/director Kayla King’s debut short film, The Happy Pill, takes a graphic, nasty, and disturbing look into a life that is all too common for those of us struggling just to make it to the another day of pain, where we must constantly wake up from our dreams and head back into the repetitive, abusive mundane that is leading us nowhere.

 The Happy Pill tells the story of Amy Sanders (Heather Hough) dealing with deep depression who wakes up every morning to a nightmare routine. She calls her mother for help, but Mom is enjoying her vacation and can’t be bothered, she tries taking a shower, brushing her teeth vigorously, but she can’t get rid of how filthy she feels and it gets unfathomably worse when she goes to her dead end job at a vintage store, where her abusive boss, Mr. Moody (John Stevenson), a a dirty, sweaty, ass grabbing scumbag who enjoys nothing more than belittling and bad mouthing Amy. This is the routine, this is her life, and she is constantly reliving this Hell day after day.

That is, until she decides to begin taking a new over the counter medication named…The Happy Pill. We aren’t given much backstory to the medication itself, but the disconcerting effect is a compulsively grotesque smile that is constantly plastered on your face. Amy take the pills, day after life sucking day, upping the dosage each time, even as she begins to cry crimson tears, and her mouth fills with blood as she brushes her teeth. It all leads to a gore drenched, fecal matter encrusted climax and final confrontation between Amy and Mr. Moody, where the medicated Amy must decide whether she will continue to let life treat her like a piece of toilet paper, or will she take matters into her own hands and flush the shitty elements of her life straight to the sewer, and just where will that leave her?

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The Happy Pill is a ferocious, rage fueled debut. One with unique, body horror elements reminiscent of an early David Cronenberg by way of Kevin Smith and  mingling with the gnarly, schlocky, grossness and gratuitous gore and nudity of a Troma movie and comes up feeling like a companion piece to this year’s JOKER. What really sets The Happy Pill apart from so many short indie horror films I’ve seen are the fearless performances from the leads, first timer Heather Hough and veteran indie film actor, John Stevenson. Both give down and dirty, natural performances which really make the material work. And the fact that they are both up for depicting the horrors which appear in this film, especially by it’s end, make you  appreciate just how brave they are. Heather Hough owns every second of her screen time with a highly sympathetic and believable portrayal of Amy, and when she’s on screen, you cannot take your eyes off of her. Her transformation from depressed victim to violent, blood spewing avenger is damned impressive and is so fearless, it’s easy to forget this is her first time on screen. Stevenson plays the imposing Mr. Moody with an all too familiar glee and twinkle in his abusive eye. Moody enjoys abusing Amy who never fights back and does what she is told. He can touch her inappropriately, he can berate her in front of customers, he can tell her to work at HIS convenience and do it all with a chuckle and a shrug. Stevenson makes Mr. Moody a memorably despicable villain that we’ve all come across before…and you crave a comeuppance. John Stevenson deserves some great kudos for being game to bring such a monster to life.

King’s vision, brought to vivid, colorful life by cinematographer Hunter Black, who also served as editor of the film, is a perfectly timed sucker punch to the gut and feels exceedingly poignant as social issues, from mental health awareness, to the Me Too Movement, have become more prevalent ( thank goodness). The Happy Pill ends with a violent blast of pure frustration and rage at a world where so many are left behind, not cared for, unloved and made to feel worthless by those who neglect, abuse and drive their humanity into the ground under their boot heel. And this violent comeuppance, as incredible and brutal a sight to behold as it is, comes across as a battle cry of an entire sect of society left to fend for themselves with no upward mobility and no support system to fall back on.  And with the final shot, a silent, meditative, ambiguous moment, the filmmakers invite you to find you own meaning in what’s just happened. It allows you to read into the finale what you will in that final silent moment. And if, as they say, horror is simply a reflection of our society, I don’t doubt many of the viewers of The Happy Pill will feel as if they’re staring into their own eyes, as they themselves hold back the tears of rage they feel at a constant, every day life of scraping by and keeping a smile on your face while for those who make living off your hard work, while you waste your life away day by day and the previous generation goes on lavish vacations…and laughs at your struggle. 

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The Happy Pill is less than 15 minutes long, but it strikes with the force of a fucking sledge hammer. As the tagline reads, “It’s a Hard Pill to Swallow.” Well, mother fuckers, this is a dose you need to take.

I award The Happy Pill FIVE Out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets. This short film offers something for every Trash Cinema Aficionado and will knock your ass out and shatter your senses.  Keep your eyes peeled for more from these incredible burgeoning talents out of Tallahassee, Florida.  I honestly hope this remarkable horror film inspires more independent films from the area.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

 

22
Nov
19

The Dark Power (1985): Whip It Good With Lash LaRue To Show You How!

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“Feel my whip, you son of a bitch!” Lash LaRue as Ranger Girard in The Dark Power

a Primal Root written review

Whenever Thanksgiving starts creeping closer I always find myself contemplating the many attempts over the years to make horror films based around that specific holiday. Flicks like Blood Rage, and Home Sweet Home (which never explicitly states that it is taking place on Thanksgiving, but the family gathering, turkey dinner and football seem to suggest that it is), the awesome Eli Roth helmed trailer for a nonexistent 80’s slasher entitled Thanksgiving which gave us a taste of what COULD have been if someone decades ago had applied themselves to making a Turkey Day Slasher, and, of course, there’s the Thankskilling movies which blend blood, breasts and beasts with ample amounts of black comedy.

But I tend to veer more towards films which feature the most tenuous of connections to Thanksgiving, things that remind me of the basic elements of the holiday going wrong, primarily family dysfunction. Stuff out there like Desperate LivingThe Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Parents, and Pet Sematary. But there’s this one hunk of cinematic dog food that has always stuck out in the back of my mind as an unofficial Trash Cinema Thanksgiving film. I say unofficial because it doesn’t take place on Thanksgiving at all…it doesn’t even feature a damn turkey. Okay, shit, it has nothing at all to do with Thanksgiving REALLY, but it DOES have to do with Native American Spirits killing off dumbass white crackers who do not respect the heritage which was protecting their uneducated asses since before their great grand parents we even born. So, with my own warped logic, the idea of this land’s native inhabitants coming back from the dead to kill spoiled ass white people who committed genocide against them just rubs me the right way this time of year. It’s a film entitled…THE DARK POWER.

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When a local Native American medicine man passes away, he leaves his estate to his money hungry, yuppie grandson who immediately decides to rent his grandpappy’s old homestead out to a bunch of sorority babes who were recently kicked out of their dorm. Of course, everyone has heard the local legends that Grandpa Medicine Man’s homestead is haunted by four vengeful, murderous, Native American spirits, known as The Toltec Sorcerers, which he had been protecting the area from for years with numerous safeguards and ancient rituals. Sure, some might be creeped out, but no one REALLY believes the stories of this old house. That is, with the exception of  old timer, and close personal friend of the deceased medicine man, Ranger Girard played by none other than the legendary western whipping boy, Lash LaRue! Girard does his damnedest to warn folks, without sounding like a Crazy Ralph, that they’re messing with powers…DARK POWER beyond their understanding and that his old friend has been guarding his game and keeping everyone safe for decades. Sure, it’s all superstition, all these modern, shaved vagina hipsters, say…But Lash LaRue is holding on to that mystical whip the recent worm food medicine man gave him just a little bit tighter.

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It isn’t long before the house is full of half nekkid nubile young women, one of which invited her younger brother, who excels at sexual harassment, to live with them, too. The home is frequented by rowdy friends, overweight plumbers and truck stealing 8 year old boys, all of which seem to remove or misplace an artifact set in place to ward off the evil four spirits which will bring unspeakable horrors down on the land they haunt once removed. The girls are all likable enough, one is the main girl, who really doesn’t do a whole lot but survive, there’s the one who is really into fitness and self defense with a good sense of humor and never wears pants, the one that looks like Julia Roberts and is an outspoken racist and future Trump supporter (she’s the one who invited her obnoxious creeper brother to live with them) and there’s the incredibly friendly black girl who ends up having to deal with the Julia Roberts look-a-like’s constant racist bullshit.

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But not for long! Because soon the four evil spirits of The Toltec Sorcerers are awakened and they emerge from the ground in their expressionless Spencer’s Gifts Halloween masks doused in K-Y Jelly and begin slowly, methodically killing all the assholes int he house and whittling through the least enjoyable characters, to the most and then to the boring ones? Will modern means be able to stop this ancient…DARK POWER, or will anyone be able to WHIP into action and  send this…DARK POWER back to Hell?

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This one is a doozy, Gang. First off, let me just say this one is exceedingly cheap looking, which gives it a charming, kind of made at home vibe. That sort of feeling of watching a movie some friends decided to make one afternoon on a budget of $50 which all went to pizza and beer and their cast and crew consists entirely of their friends and ONE Hollywood legend, Mr. Lash (scene stealer) LaRue. This instantly adds to the appeal for me as a fan of low rent film making.  The acting is adorably bad. You can tell these folks are REALLY trying to sell these characters and their bizarre motivations. The standouts are Mary Dalton as Mary Dalton, a local TV reporter, who is an okay interviewer and an A+ horn dog who is constantly hitting on Lash LaRue who is old enough to be her Grandfather. Cynthia Bailey as Tammie, the superstitious and incredibly kind hearted and tolerant young black woman who moves into a house where she will cohabitate with a racist and a racist’s racist sexual harassing brother. Suzy Martin as Suzy, the work out freak, who is forever upbeat and without trousers, even when getting chased by horrifying, bloodthirsty Toltec Sorcerers. Paul Holman as Uncle Earl Coleman who is a pretty solid piece of exceedingly hefty comic relief with a THICK southern accent, a heart of gold and delivers the line “It smells…like a FART!” with perfect diction and excellent comedic timing. Also, there’s a character who just shows up to get in a bathtub, chug a can of Budweiser and show off her boobs, I think her name is Page? Anyway, thank you for providing the ONLY shot of bare female breasts in the entire film with your only moment of screen time.

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And, of course, the MVP is Lash LaRue, who shows up when all hope is lost and whips the fuck out of anything that looks like it’s intent on hurting someone. The movie even opens with this strange scene that has absolutely no connection to the rest of the film which features a little kid getting berated by his mother about the haunted property the medicine man lives on and how he shouldn’t go near it. Well, the kid sneaks out and starts wondering some trails in the woods near the property where he is chased by a pack of vicious dogs. The kid runs for his life with the adorable, I mean HORRIFYING dogs nipping at his heels. The kid gets to a clearing and BEHOLD! LASH LARUE! Who cracks the fuck out of his whip and sends the raging rovers back into the woods they emerged from. The kid weeps with his face in the dirt, Lash puts his whip away and stares at the kid, emotionless…SCENE. WHAT DID THIS TEN MINUTE SEQUENCE HAVE TO DO WITH ANYTHING? 1. It pads the film to make it feature length. 2. It established Lash as a force for good against that…DARK POWER in those woods. Seriously, anytime Lash shows up on screen, his charm and good nature come shining through and just make every moment a pleasure to watch. Especially in the final confrontation at the haunted house where he takes on all The Toltec Sorcerers, whipping the fuck out of them and taunting them the whole time. It’s great watching this old timer do what he does best, crack that whip, and be a hero.

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The effects are effective, but again, pretty cheap. Lots of folks getting shot with arrows, but one death really stands out, there’s this one ginger kid who gets yanked off of a pontoon boat, has his arm slowly pulled off and then has his face, again, SLOWLY ripped off. It’s gruesome and painful, but also delightful in it’s cheesiness. Also, when The Toltec Sorcerers are finally sent back to Hell, their demise is a lot of gooey, melty fun.

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This was the first feature directed by Phil Smoot, who has spent most of his life working behind the scenes as producer or Production Manager of other independent films like Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth, Kevin Smith’s Tusk, and Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice. I would LOVE to know more about the making of The Dark Power, but, unfortunately, there’s not a whole heck of a lot out there. One of it’s main claims to fame is being made fun of by Rifftrax.

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All and all, The Dark Power is a tale about the white man’s lack of respect for Native American culture, their people and their rich heritage. It’s easy to shrug off someone’s ancient beliefs as hogwash, but, it’s never a bad idea to just leave some trinkets in the ground if there’s a slight possibility it will keep you from having your entire face ripped off by a malevolent The Toltec Sorcerers raised from the dead because you thought your front yard looked better without the eagle on the skull decoration left there by the medicine man devoted his life to protecting your dumb, ungrateful white ass.

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So, this Thanksgiving, I recommend you pick up this hot, smoked turkey for you trash cinema fans to chow down on. It goes down easy, fills you up with cheap, trashy goodness and doesn’t disappoint. Oh yes, there’s plenty to be thankful for, especially this 1985 slice of Trash.

I award The Dark Power THREE out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets. Low-Rent appreciating Trash Cinema devotees, like myself, will adore it. Grab some friends, a case of beer, and have filthy Thanksgiving feast!

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

23
Feb
19

Luciferina (2018): Mercy for The Devil

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a Primal Root review

Is there any more tired trope in horror cinema than an exorcism?  Man, they’re a dime a dozen. You get a young girl (typically) put a demon in her, let science fail, hire a priest, he spouts some nonsense from the old testament, people die, someone sacrifices themselves, evil is either vanquished or at least there’s a stale mate. Like Beauty and the Beast, it’s a tired tale as old as time and, ever since it has risen to considerable heights with classic horror offerings like William Freidkin’s sublime 1973 touchstone, The Exorcist, William Peter Blatty’s truly exceptional and highly underrated The Exorcist III and then it kind of spirals into the abyss of B-Movie cheese or pop culture relics, not that I don’t love them, but rarely is the story ever given an update or does it conjure up anything truly shocking or surprising. When I hear there’s an exorcism in a film, I know I’m going to be in for shaky bed, ass spewage, cheese a minute city.

That’s why I was so damn pleased when I finally say my ass down and gave the 2018 Argentinian horror offering entitled Luciferina a shot.  When I first popped the blu-ray into my player I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect from Gonzalo Calzada’s latest offering.  I can tell you, I was not anticipating this startling original take on the stalest genre of horror since The Walking Dead drove the last nail into the zombie genre. But, I digress…

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Luciferina tells the tale of young, virginal Natalia (Sofia del Tuffo) who resides in a convenient and is on her way to becoming a nun when the tragic death of her Mother brings her home to be with her bed ridden, comatose Father and recovering drug addicted sister. Once she arrives, it becomes clear that things are not at all right there. Well, will all the blood drenched pieced of art featuring both phallic and yonic imagery which she created in her final moments. Bizarrely, their ill father who can’t get out of bed, no communicate, is kept all the way up on the third floor of their immense home along with all these disturbing pieces of art,  where his deceased wife’s blood and internal goopage was utilized by her own insane hands to create these masterpieces of the macabre. Not only that, but the dozen or so pieces are set up TO FACE THE POOR BASTARD…and there are two incredibly bright lights pointed at their poor Dad’s face both night and day which I cannot for the life of me understand how that’s supposed to help him with his illness, but I’m not Argentinian doctor, so…I mean, whatever you think is best doc.

Natalia’s sister, Angela (Malena Sanchez) believes a curse has been visited upon the family for both her and her sister having left and has arranged for the two of them, along with Angela’s rag-tag Scooby-Doo inspired team of misfits, including her ultra violent and uber rapey poster child the Argentina Proud Boys movement, Mauro (Francisco Donovan) to take a journey deep into the jungle to take part in a spiritual rite performed by a Peruvian Chaman (Tomas Lipan). This rite involves knocking back entheogenic brew of Ayahuasca. From what I understand, ingesting this concoction typically doesn’t lead to the ripping of one’s friends into multiple meaty chunks and leaving said chunks strewn about an ancient temple, but, some folks have far nastier demons buried within than others… Natalie decides to go along on the trip (hehehe) and take part in the ritual which will bring everyone face to face with the secrets of their past, their darkest memories and  lead to an unexpected, unplanned, and deeply affecting final rite that I can only describe as a sexorcism.

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Luciferina is an incredible slow burn of a horror film that does a commendable job of eschewing expectation based on the horror audiences common knowledge of such proceedings and keeping the true nature of Natalie a under wrap and still in question by film’s end.  Why is Natlie drawn to her mother’s blood soaked murder portraits of male and female genitalia? Why does she repeatedly have visions of those around her bathed in light? Why does she keep having dreams and visions of an abandoned abbey in the jungle and a mysterious old woman within? And why is this chaste, virtuous , nun in training beginning to feel sexual attraction and lustful urges towards those around her? The movie makes clear throughout how Natalie views sex as something dirty and obscene. Take for, for example, an early scene once Natalie comes home and takes a shower. She closes her eyes and begins to stroke her breasts and touch herself between her legs as the steam rises, but as soon as she opens her eyes, she sees several larch cockroaches by her feet in the bottom of the tub. It’s a grotesque and startling moment, but one that perfectly illustrates Natalie’s point of view, which becomes all the more relevant by film’s end.

I understand the issues many folks have with Luciferina. That the further we get into the story and the more things attempt to make sense, the less that they do. And by the final act,  the fine crafted suspense and feeling of deep, unsettling dread eventually give way to exceptional bloody practical effects and one of finest sex scenes I’ve seen in any film, horror or otherwise, what feels like eons. Natalie, who is portrayed pitch perfectly by del Tuffo, spends the first two thirds of Luciferina building her into a fragile protagonist, but by the film’s end, she becomes just as believable as confident, strong, uncompromising heroine. And, to be honest, the finale sexorcism scene is brilliant, equal parts arousing and disturbing and trail blazingly unique. It comes across as absolutely relevant and a full 180 degree turn from what exorcist films have presented to us in the past, as a woman embraces her own sexuality and empowering herself to destroy and vanquish a demon.

Can I get an amen?

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Luciferina possess a dark, alluring beauty all it’s own , one I am not accustom to in modern horror genre. With it’s wholly original combining of sex, the cycle of existence, angels, demons, is fascinating and disturbing and the film carves open it’s own bloody, beautiful path. From what I gather, Lucifernia has a truly progressive and positive message regarding sexuality female sexuality, which in itself is a blessed breath of fresh air in a genre that so often boasts a near medieval conservative view of female sexual relations (I’m looking at you, Jason Voorhees).   In Lucifernia, sex can be used for great good or absolute evil, it can either possess or exorcise. Sex is not inherently shameful, dirty or sinful, it all depends on the purpose of which you wield it. That mercy, not punishment, can perhaps be the answer. Now, how many religious horror films can you recall with the brass balls to convey this specific message?

Luciferina is by no means a masterpiece of the genre, but it is a one of a kind take on a thread bare genre, one that is captivating and alive with a creative energy rarely experienced by horror audiences these days. Exceedingly original, both disturbing in it’s imagery and astoundingly gorgeous in it’s cinematography, and manages to avoid making what could have EASILY been a cheap, exploitation “Fucked by The Devil flick” (not that there’s anything wrong with those.) and instead deliveries what I would say is among the most empowering and positive female driven horror films I’ve ever seen.

I give Luciferina FOUR out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

 

 

 

28
Dec
18

Mandy (2018)Crazy Evil and The Depths of an Exquisite Hell

 

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a Primal Root written review

“I’m your God now.” – Red Miller, Mandy

The stars so rarely align to deliver a piece of art so pure in form and so glorious in it’s delivery as filmmaker Panos Cosmatos’ Mandy. Now, the setup is nothing new. Two souls love one another, find comfort in one another’s presence and deep bond beyond story book love evolves between them, a deep er connection more profound, peaceful and meaningful that most are lucky to find in a lifetime. That love is torn asunder and one of the two must seek revenge in order to find any kind of peace ever again. It’s a nightmare scenario, and one all of us can identify with in one way or another. To imagine the person we love and hold closest being taken away, never to be returned…in our heart of hearts, we would all want bloody revenge on those responsible.

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What sets Mandy far apart and leagues ahead of it’s unifying trope is the means by which our tale is told. It has taken elements as familiar and comfortable to us horror fans as well worn pair of loafers and injects those elements with energy, a clean new take, unfettered originality creating a new kind of monster that lumbering, brutal, and ready to fuck your brain hole.

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Mandy takes place in the great Pacific Northwest’s Shadow Mountain in 1983.  Red Miller (Nicolas Cage) is a mild mannered, bearded, beefy, lumber jack who works in the mountains by night and comes home to his uniquely beautiful artist girlfriend, Mandy Bloom (Andrea Riseborough). The two share a log cabin together and live a peaceful existence outside of society where they keep to themselves. That is until a fucking piece of shit christian cult drives through town, and their greasy, psychedelic, long haired, immensely insecure and bullying leader, Jeremiah Sand (Linus Roache) gets single passing glance at Mandy and decides he MUST HAVE HER. But, in order to do so, Jeremiah and his cult decide they need some help from some horrifying motorcycle riding, spike faced creatures from beyond the edge of Hell to help pull of their seduction/abduction plans.

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That night, as Mandy and Red sit in front of their television watching the trash cinema epic, 1982’s Nightbeast, and chowing down on what looks like steak and taters to me, the cult organizes their Hell creatures and set their horrible plan into action just as Red and Mandy hit the sack. In a nightmarish, dreadful sequence shot with blue strobe lights, these biker Cenobite monstrosities subdue our two protagonists, tie Red up with barbed wire in the backyard and take Mandy to meet Jeremiah who force feeds her some form of hallucinogenic and attempts to seduce in a prolonged trip of scene set in bright, neon red and purples. Of course, Mandy refuses and laughs hysterically at their weak, piece of shit leader as he shows off his nekkid body after his pathetic “join our lame-ass-cult sales pitch, and it is decided that she must meet a truly heinous and cruel death for her disrespect. The excruciatingly painful murder is committed in front of Red, who must witness the love of his life’s death in all it’s agonizing brutality.  We are shown this moment of savagery reflected in the eyes of Red, who is bound and helpless to save her.

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Once the deed is done, the cult packs it up and heads off into the rising sun, leaving Red for dead, still tied up in barbed wire and suffering from a brutal stab wound. Of course, Red manages to get free of the barb wire, has a final, soul crushing moment with his love’s remains, and decides over chugs of vodka and screams of abject horror, agony and rage, that this cult’s time is up and he is bringing them Hell they’ve never even imagined.  What follows is a film that straddles a place between the mystic and the psychotic and it a goddamn wonder to behold. You feel Red’s rage as he sifts through what’s left of a life that he and Mandy built together, a love so pure and care free, it breaks your heart, and to see that light they had together so fucking senselessly snubbed out because of the whims of a fucking ego maniacal fuck face, you, as an audience, just wish you could help him get that revenge he so desperately seeks.

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After gaining advice and weapons from some old friends, his crossbow “The Reaper,” and crafts a badass battle axe, Red sets out on his odyssey alone, to settle the score with the men, women and monsters who tore his life apart. Once by one, Red visits these murderers and viciously attacks and delivers his vengeance. Obviously, Red had some previous training in survivalism, but there is a learning curve for Red, which is pretty refreshing for this kind of film. Red gets his ass kicked a couple times and even finds himself captured, but he tends to get better as he goes along. Especially once he snorts some coke and does some tainted acid in the mobile home of the monstrous creatures we learn go by he name,”Black Skulls,” which turns the world into a new kind of technicolor nightmare. A neon blood bath we will spend the rest of the film in.

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A horror film where The Devil is the good guy, the far right Christian cultists are the fucking hive if perverse villainy and Nicolas Cage, who gives a career best performance as a mild mannered guy who has it all taken away battling the forces of evil among Shadow Mountain? Gang, that’s nothing not to love about this poetic acid head, black hearted, beautiful bitch a fucking masterpiece. This is Trash Cinema at it must unrefined and reaching it’s greatest heights. I know a lot has been said about Nic Cage’s performance in Mandy, how it’s just another “freak out” performance from this most beleaguered of Hollywood actors. To me, this is one of the most naturalistic and honest performances of the man’s entire career. When Red is chugging vodka in his tighty whities in the bathroom while screaming in absolute rage and grief, you cannot tell me this is not exactly how your would react and feel if you just witnessed the love of your life burned alive right in front of you. To have held the ashes of that one person that meant everything to you in your hands, who died only because she refused to give in to a madman.  Gang, this is a performance that deserves all the recognition in the world. Also, that Cheddar Goblin commercial is a thing of Trashy beauty, too. 😉

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Mandy is a powerhouse of a film and my pick for 2018’s Golden Nugget Award, for Best Trash Cinema Film of the Year.

Five Dumpster Nuggets out of Five.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

26
Dec
18

(NSFW) Cannibal Holocaust (1980): Buffet of Brutality or Eat your Heart out. And your liver and your spleen.

 

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a Primal Root written review

“Here we are at the edge of the world of human history. Things like this happen all the time in the jungle; it’s survival of the fittest! In the jungle, it’s the daily violence of the strong overcoming the weak!” – Alan Yates, Cannibal Holocaust (1980)

*DISCLAIMER* Cannibal Holocaust does feature several sequences of onscreen animal cruelty. I. Kevin Cole, The Primal Root, do not in anyway condone the animal cruelty present in Cannibal Holocaust. That being said, I refuse to let that keep me from watching a piece of our cinematic history, which I feel lis important. That being said, I fully support your choice to NOT watch Cannibal Holocaust due to it’s cruelty to animals. I totally understand. 

Like the character Trash says in Dan O’Bannon’s 1985 living dead classic, The Return of the Living Dead, the worst way she can imagine dying is being eaten alive. It’s an honest, primeval statement that is part of our most basic animal instincts, one that still holds firm ever since our primitive ancestors hid from razor toothed beasts with flesh ripping claws intent to turn us into Sunday. What could be more horrifying that that? OF course, the thought that our own species would resort to such barbarism, hunt us down as food, take their time in killing us, and then devour what remains.

It’s a subject that has been well worn in the brutal and exhaustive cannibal exploitation genre that began in the mid 1970’s and remained popular through the 1980’s. The films of the cannibal genre would typically involve a batch of technically savvy contemporary young people looking to exploit the stone-age natives within an Asian or South American rainforest, only for things to turn violent with the young people raping, murdering and terrorizing the natives, and then having the tables turned and being met with horrifically grotesque retribution. These exploitation films also share an attempt to deliver accomplished and startlingly real gore effects as well as genuine on screen animal cruelty. What I’m saying here, is that this genre is aimed at a very small segment of society and would never be made in the same fashion again. However, for a small period of time, this films were being churned out by Italian filmmakers year after year and playing for months on end at grindhouses across America to audiences eager to see if these films actually delivered on the sensational claims their advertisements boasted.

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Few films of the genre have maintained as as much notoriety as Italian filmmaker Ruggero Deodato’s 1980’s cannibal epic, CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST. Upon it’s premiere the graphic violence garnered so much controversy that the film was seized my a local Italian magistrate and Deodato himself was arrested on obscenity charges and, later on, he was charged with with making an actual snuff film, as rumors began circulating that the main stable of actors were actually murdered on camera. To make matters worse, the supposedly deceased actors had signed on to contracts before filming to ensure that they would not show up in any type of movie, commercial or other media for at least one year after Cannibal Holocaust’s release as to keep the illusion that the film was a genuine found footage documentary. Thankfully, the actors were all contacted and interviewed on Italian television to prove they had not been murdered and eaten in The Green Inferno. Deodato also explained how all the effects worked and provided behind the scenes photos of the cast and crew interacting jovially, and the court dropped murder charges. Still, due to the genuine animal slayings and cruelty, Cannibal Holocaust was banned in Italy, Australia, and reportedly over 50 other countries.  If anything, I feel all this controversy is quite the testament to the power of a truly unique, frenzied, bleak and genuinely horrifying cinematic experience.

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Which brings us to the movie that raised this enduring brouhaha that has left a mark on this piece of entertainment forever more, Cannibal Holocaust. The story focuses on a much acclaimed and celebrated American documentary film crew, known for their brutal, ground level realism and unflinching portraits of bloody reality,  that goes missing in the Amazon rainforest in 1979 as they are filming a new documentary on the indigenous cannibal tribes. The film proper begins with strapping, mustachioed, anthropologist Professor Harold Monroe (played with all the masculine charm and gusto in the world by the legendary trained actor and Adult film Hall of Famer, Robert Kerman)  agrees to put together and lead a rescue team into the “Green Inferno” to find the documentary film crew, or what’s left of them, and recover any footage so that the investors can try and make their money back.

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After days of trekking and several grisly discoveries, clues and encounters with various cannibal tribes such as the Yacumo tribe, Shamatari tribe, and the Yanomami tribe, a picture begins to form that the American film crew brought great unrest to the people of these tribes. The rescue team manages to save a group of Yanomami warriors from certain death and then bathes nude in the river to gain their trust, showing his willingness to be vulnerable in front of them. Once the women of the tribe strip nekkid, hop in the river with him, mess around and inspect his white boy wing-ding for a few minutes, they then lead Professor Monroe and his team to a shrine the tribe has erected. A shrine made of the remains of the American documentary film crew.  Monroe trades a tape recorder with the tribe for the surviving reels of film the crew shot.

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Once back in New York city, Professor Monroe along with the investors screen the footage obtained from the Yanomami tribe, and it becomes apparent how shockingly amoral and inhumane this four man film crew was to the natives in the Amazon rainforest. They are seen staging horrifying mass incinerations of men, women and children, disgusting rapes of native girls where they then impale the woman on a pike, the killing of their livestock for shits and giggles, all in the name of good, usable footage, the filmmakers are willing to maim, murder and desecrate whoever they must in the quest for the perfect footage that will make their film a controversial smash hit with audiences, staging whatever carnage they so deem necessary.  That is, until the tribes turn the tables and come after the film crew in a blood drenched, shaky cam, parade of absolute unflinching brutality, it must be seen to be believed.  There is rape, penises are hacked off, people are drawn and quartered by the bare hands of the tribe. The American film crew has reaped exactly what they have sewed, and proved themselves just as uncivilized, monstrous and depraved, if not, more so, as the cannibalistic tribes themselves. Needless to say, the investors are deeply disturbed by the footage and the executives order the footage be destroyed. As Professor Monroe leaves, he ponders just who the real cannibals are, before the camera pans up to the high rises of New York City, our societies own concrete inferno, and the film fades to black.

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In all honesty, when the film ended, I had to look up the actors who we watched getting torn to pieces, hacked to death, raped and eviscerated just to make sure they weren’t actually murdered on screen. The final reels of Cannibal Holocaust are, without a doubt, some of the most effective and visceral horror set pieces I have ever witnessed. The shaky came, the effects and the performances feel so damn genuine and real, that the illusion of it all being true is a hard feeling to shake. Some have said this is the Grandpappy of the found footage genre, if that is the case, Grandpappy has yet to be topped.  I honestly think the key element is, as weird as it sounds, subtlety. There is plenty of gratuitous violence, but the blood isn’t spraying across the jungle like a cartoon. It is dark crimson, real, and isn’t the focus of what’s happening. The performances and camera work are what sell the horror of what occurs in Cannibal Holocaust. And I think that’s a lesson filmmakers should take away from it. We see horrible things being done to other human beings, but it’s focused on for mere seconds. It’s the frenzied rush of horror as people are trying to survive their own grotesque demise at the hands of those who so richly deserve their revenge. The feeling of horror that you know you deserve this and you’ve brought this fate worse than death upon yourself.

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I would say, despite many of the films exploitation elements, and their are many, including the actual killing of several actual animals, Cannibal Holocaust cuts to the darkest corners of human nature, and in doing so, is one of the most potent and effective horror films ever made. But, hey, funny piece of trivia: When screened for the tribes they filmed with, the tribes thought the film was hysterical and considered it a comedy!

FIVE out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets. This is a MUST SEE for horror aficionados and filth fans alike. Even if you fast forward past the animal cruelty, you will be left shocked and in disbelief by the end.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

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