Posts Tagged ‘horror

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

 

MANDY

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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31
Oct
18

(NSFW) Setsuka: Devil Girl of Halloween

TRASHY HALLOWEEN, MY FILTH RIDDLED COLLECTIVE BRETHREN! We have quite the treat for you this Halloween in Trash Cinema Collective Land, straight from the bloody, boiling, gapping mouth of Hell we bring you are sultry, sexy, satanic Devil Girl for Halloween 2018, SETSUKA! Before you feast your eyes on a truly gruesome and gorgeous spread of epic proportions, let’s take a moment to get to know our ferocious Halloween Devil Girl. 

The Primal Root: Setsuka, holy smokes, your photo spread is truly stunning! Might I just say, you look fantastic in red. Where did this gory and utterly gorgeous concept come from?
Setsuka: Thank you! The concept for this shoot came from a melding of ideas between my wonderful photographer and I. I absolutely love the look of blood and we had both been wanting to do a Baphomet themed shoot for a while. I’ve always been into darker things and I feel like this shoot really captured my alter ego.
TPR: How was it modeling in a spread where you became progressively bloodier? 
Setsuka: It was quite a unique experience! This was my first photo shoot using blood so I had no idea what I was getting into. However, it turned out to be more fun than I ever could have imagined. Every part of my body was sticking to another part of me.
TPR: Have you been a part of creating macabre, dark spreads similar to this before? 
Setsuka: I have not. All of my experiences in the past have been full of light and more glamour focused.
TPR: Can you speak a little about the blood and rope aspects of the photo shoot and how different the post images are, compared to on set? 
Setsuka: During the shoot  I wasn’t quite sure how the images would come out but Kayla’s confidence really encouraged me and made me more confident. When I saw the images I was blown away. I couldn’t believe it was me and the spread surpassed any expectations I originally had.
TPR: Do you have any favorite bloody, gnarly horror movies you like to break out and watch around Halloween time? What kind of flicks really creep you out? 
Setsuka: My favorite bloody movie would be Hostel. Specifically speaking, the blood bath scene. I am very into the Anne Rice films, Interview with a vampire is my favorite and I thoroughly enjoy movies about serial killers. I love documentaries that get into the minds of people who would be considered monsters by society.
TPR: Any advice for any future Devil Girls out there? 
Setsuka: Follow your creepy little heart and don’t let anyone tell you that your ideas are too much.
TPR: What song would you like The Trash Cinema Collective to listen to while checking out your incredible Devil Girl set?
Setsuka: Devil’s Game by Truth 🖤
Phtography by Kayla King of Rewski Photography

29
Jul
18

(NSFW) Just Before Dawn (1981): Rise and Die

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a Primal Root written review

“There’s nothing out there but God’s little creatures, more scared of you than you are of them.” – Warren, Just Before Dawn

Tales of backwoods hicks slaughtering city folks is as old as the hills themselves. Freshly showered kids in their L.L. Bean disco survival boots, shaved vaginas and cans of Pringles head off to hike and pitch their tents fully exposed in the elements and figure, oh yeah, nothing’s going to happen to me out here among the trees, wildlife and lack of of immediate assistance from someone who knows what the Hell they’re doing. From The Hills Have Eyes, to House of 1,000 Corpses, to Deliverance, Friday the 13th and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre; white-bread, Nike wearing, pink, privileged idiots with six figure incomes load up their campers and right into certain death despite there nearly ALWAYS being some old coot standing by the side of the rarely traversed, nearly grown over dirt road saying the same old speech “You’re doomed if you stay the night up that road!”

And what do those idiots do? Crank up the Def Leppard and rush forward into painful, bloody oblivion. It’s an old yarn always looking for an invigorating new take, or at least a competent hand to at the very least, make it interesting.

Enter the forgotten 1981 backwoods camping slasher gem, JUST BEFORE DAWN, and film that I’d heard a few people mention in decades past, but never in the same sentence as well worn genre fare. Upon finally getting a chance to watch it, I was not only blown blown away by how solid it was, but I would put it among my all time favorite slasher films of this backwoods sub-genre.

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Our pre-credit inciting incident takes place in a rotten, weather worn church where two older hikers are joking around and acting like goofballs trying to make one another laugh as they wonder through this holy relic. By the way, one of these old hikers is none other than Mike Kellin who played Mel, the owner of Camp Arawak in another excellent summer slasher film, Sleepaway Camp from 1983. When one man notices a freakish inbred redneck peering through a hole in th church’s roof and eerily backlit by the sun, he steps out slowly from the church, and in a real dick move, doesn’t mention it to his friend who is too busy being a comedian to notice. Well, as you might imagine, the man left in the church ends up getting possibly the most brutal death in the film and has a massive, multi-pronged machete stuck though his pee hole and right out his poop chute. And the film doesn’t cut away once this happens, oh no, we see the poor hikers horrified, pained reaction to suddenly find his cock and balls forcibly filleted in half and probably shoved right out his own asshole. He reached behind himself to feel the machete blade sticking right out through his jeans…it’s a nightmarish moment and one where the viewer cannot help but imagine the unfathomable agony that bastard must be experiencing as he slowly begins to bleed to death amongst the pews of stink, mildew encrusted old church.  This poor bastard’s bud, Ty, who just left him to die, runs off into the woods and down the side of the mountain with the giant, massively overweight bloodthirsty mountain man in hot pursuit.

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From left to right: Constance, Jonathan, Daniel, Megan & Warren. Who will survive and who will inherit the R.V.?

 

We are then immediately introduced to our core group of young folks headed up the side of the mountain in their camper to spend a long weekend hiking, skinny dipping, and mellowing out in the woods. There’s the fun loving couple Jonathan (Chris Lemmon, son of Jack Lemmon) and Megan (Jamie Rose, from Chopper Chicks in Zombie Town and a billion TV Shows), the nerdy photographer who didn’t bring a date and will probably be spending the majority of the trip, when not taking photos, masturbating into the bushes, Daniel (Ralph Seymour from Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, Killer Party, Meatballs part II) and our main course couple, our blonde alpha male and guy steering the RV, Warren (played by none other than Greg Henry who starred in James Gunn’s Slither and Guardians of the Galaxy flicks) and his worry wart, uptight, girlfriend, Constance (Deborah Benson from 1941, 2 Days in the Valley).  On their way up, they are warned by none other than the late, great, George Kennedy as Roy McLean, an old timer plant doctor and horse whisperer who knows there’s something terrible up in them mountains. Not only that, but the kids bust the shit out of a deer with the R.V., and run into Ty, who at some point came across a massive jug of whiskey as he was fleeing for his life, drank three quarters of it, and slurrily begged the kids to take him down the mountain before he is turned into a dick and ass kabob by some horrifying fat fucks in the woods. The kids leave him some food and head up the mountain, as they go, Ty watches as the Mountain Man hops from a nearby tree onto the back of the camper to pursue more nubile and fuckable victims.  Ty laughs his ass of and continues stumbling down the mountain.

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Soon our rag tag group of fresh faced youths have set up camp, hiked behind waterfalls, and noticed some peculiar whistling coming from the woods…the crew even noticed a young woman singing beautifully down by a stream, when they approach her, the girl goes running into the woods. All these strange omens mean little to the young folks as they starts letting loose. The most notable is Constance, who ditches her waist high khakis and long sleeve denims short, and slips on some tight fitting daisy dukes that let her butt cheeks hang out and the ties her button down shirt up to expose her mid-drift and tease at the subtle breasts bouncing around underneath. It’s a transformation that doesn’t go unnoticed by her camping buddies and seems to coincide with the five friends descending deeper into the woods, as if she is becoming a bit more wild herself. She even paints her toenails while sitting on a long. It’s cute, it’s hot, and it’s a little weird, but you know me, I’m down with weird female transformations, especially the wild and sexy kind.

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Before long, the kids find themselves down at the base of the waterfall where Jonathan and Megan decide to go skinny dipping and fool around a little bit while the other’s make breakfast. It’s all fun and games as Megan splashes water around and giggles while Jonathan goes under water, gropes her and floats up pretending to be dead, but soon the scene becomes one of the creepiest in the damn film, as we see one of the filthy, gigantic mountain men descend into the water in the background and go under… Jonathan dips under the water again and vanishes. Megan, assuming Jonathan is playing around, continues to giggle and call out to him. That’s when a filthy big old pair of hands start groping at her above and under water. She assumes Jonathan is playing around and getting frisky and it is really uncomfortable as these hands slide across her skin, and are most certainly poking ad probing some intimate places just below our field of vision. Soon, Jonathan surfaces and walks out of the water at the shore line and waves at Megan as she is being molested. As expected, she begins screaming and running out of the water. It’s a truly freakish moment brimming with suspense and unease, we know what these nasty backwoods killers are capable off and how perverse their methods of dispatch can be. The terror of the moment is only made right by the sight of Megan’s lovely body running out of the water, sopping wet, nekkid, running and beautiful. The moment was absolutely horrifying, but he coming out of the water surrounded by the lush forest sure makes you contemplate the beauty of nature.

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Now, what blows my mind, is the next time we see these kids they’re dancing all sexy like by fire light RIGHT AFTER THIS INCIDENT! Let me tell you, if my wife or anyone I was comping with came to me hysterically crying about being molested, I’d be loading up the camper and booking it down the side of the mountain. But even Megan seems to have gotten overt her trauma in no time and is clapping her ass cheeks on Daniel the nerd boy’s wang doodle like it’s Spring Break at Panama City Beach. Everyone is gyrating the love bits and shaking their money makes when a three piece family of rednecks (Papa, Mama, and the little singing girl from earlier)  bash the fuck out of their radio, emerge from the darkened woods and are now the THIRD people to warn these kids that they’re going to die.  You kids are “Gonna wake up THE DEVILS!”  Time to load up the camper and head to civilization right?

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Of course, the kids don’t listen, and the next day decide to go messing around in the woods in separate groups which leads to some of the most horrifying and suspenseful shit in the movie, with each murder being set up masterfully and pulled off with maximum suspense, which is not exactly the hallmark of the slasher genre. Nine times out of ten I find myself bored to pieces as someone is walking down a dark corridor, or walking around the woods calling out for a friend. But Just Before Dawn knows exactly what TO show us and what NOT TO show us in order to actually give us that sense of dread, or knowledge that something terrible is occurring. What’s also impressive is that the film doesn’t rely on gore effects to sell it’s shocks and scares, instead leaning on it’s actors to make us feel the fear, the pain, the struggle they’re in, which, again to my amazement, the cast fully delivers. Not only do they create characters we believe and genuinely like, but the film take the time to let the actors deliver what they need to in order to bring the audience with them into the horror they’re going through. Also, the score composed by Brad Fiedel is far eerier than most genre entries ever get and creates a nightmarish atmosphere of solitude and doom.

Jeff Lieberman wrote and directed this lean, mean, fucking slasher film which relies on subtlety, allowing the terror to build, and once the shit hits the fan, doesn’t shy away from laying it on us with harrowing set pieces, nail biting suspense and making us witness to some nasty fates. Lieberman’s a name I never hear mentioned when it comes to cult horror film makers, but the brother directed another fantastic down home horror fest, 1976’s Squirm, the LSD shock fest Blu Sunshine in 1977 and even directed the vastly underrated Halloween horror film, Satan’s Little Helper. Also, looking at his IMDB page, the guy directed a documentary about the mysterious death of boxing legend Sonny Liston and wrote, of all thing, The NeverEnding Story part II… Huh…

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Just Before Dawn is a slasher film that NEEDS to be recognized and HAS to be seen by fans of the genre. It’s a standout among a genre that was just at the beginning of going stale, even as early as 1981. Lieberman and company made a flick that pulls no punches and creates a real nightmare scenario. The killers themselves are a little goofy when you finally get a good look at them, but the actors trying to escape from them do a damn good job of selling their menace, even when the killer’s goofy unibrow and giant beer bellies, do not. The final battle at base camp is fucking astounding and in it’s execution, and in it’s final moments, just before dawn, we see a new dawn and the final transformation. It has to be seen to be believed.

I award Just Before Dawn FIVE OUT OF FIVE Dumpster Nuggets.

You have got to see this sucker!

Stay Trashy!

-Root

15
Jul
18

Tearing the Heart Out of Saturday Night: Happy Trails, Joe Bob Briggs

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by The Primal Root

I was in middle school and staying over at my Grandparents house for the Christmas holiday. My parents were recently divorced, puberty was kicking in full throttle, we were moving into new places, my parents were always upset and I was, to put it bluntly, a wreck. I had no siblings to talk to, no one to confide in, it was the beginning of the realization that I, for the most part in life, would always be pretty much alone. I was staying up late in my Grandparent’s den and flipping through the channels, no doubt devouring their bag of Cap Cod Potato chips and slurping down cans of Coke. It was the typical mid 90’s hodgepodge of reruns, sports highlight reels, and laundry lists of current political strife scandal and tragedy. TV was a terrible way to cheer up a teenage boy going through deeply troubling changes in his life and coping with the knowledge that everything you thought you knew was about to change forever and you were now becoming a pawn for two people who mean the world to you to hurt one another.

But then I stopped flipping channels when I came across this smiling joker in Western wear sitting in a lawn chair outside a trailer. He was listing Drive-In Totals, speaking of Blood, Breasts and Beasts, laughing, telling incredibly interesting stories about movies he was about to show, and get this, the movies were always cheesy, weird B-Movies and stuff that was normally completely outside the mainstream, stuff mocked and shoved aside and left in the dust pan of history the majority of cinema goers. I immediately knew I had found a kindred spirit and a cool, funny, surrogate brother who I could rely on to be there every Saturday and remind me that I wasn’t totally alone in my passions, my interests or, maybe, in life.

I certainly know I’m not alone in this sentiment. I am now 36 years old and owner of my own video rental store and one screen micro cinema where for a recent 24 hour period I watched Joe Bob Brigg’s Last Drive-In surrounded by a group of the same folks, also now in their 30’s, who made a habit out of watching TNT’s MonsterVision with Joe Bob Brig’s every Saturday night. And as he hosted 13 remarkable sleazy exploitation horror movies, cult and arthouse films, telling jokes, stories and ranting on about the current state of affairs in the world, he would also read letters from the Mail Girl, just like in the glory days. The majority of these letter consisted of middle aged adults, just like myself, pouring over how much Joe Bob meant to them growing up by reenforcing that it was okay to be different and find the joy in what you are into. He taught us to not take it all so dog gone seriously and that our thoughts on how absurd life was, how unfair and ruthless life could be, we all had the ability to find the humor, joy and beauty in our lives, just like we do in those cheesy, outcast movies I grew up to fondly refer to as Trash Cinema.

The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Brigg’s was a remarkable experience. The lineup was a smorgasbord of wonderful horror and cult cinema, interspersed with Joe Bob’s one of a kind witty banter, rants and loving remembrances of the movies he was showing and all the folks who took a part in making them, it was once again a glorious celebration of the underdog and the shared community all of us underdogs live in.

THE LINEUP from 9pm Friday July the 13th to Whenever it actually ended Saturday July the 14th :

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Tourist Trap: This is one that Joe Bob and I have always seen eye to eye on as one of those gems of a horror movie that is so eerie, batshit crazy and unusual that it keeps you on your toes throughout wondering just what the Hell is gonna happens next. Chuck Conners is a whole lot of fun to watch and the movie contains one of the most brutal and bloodless kills I’ve ever seen. Borrowing heavily from Psycho, Carrie and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and creating it’s own unique blend of horror with these elements, it blazed it’s own trail that I think deserves more appreciation.

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Sleepaway Camp: Psycho Sexual Summer Camp oOverload! Sleepaway Camp is by far and away my favorite summer time slasher due in no small part to the very natural, very believable performances of the central kids in the story, all in service to one remarkably strange plot for a horror movie based at a summer camp. When most of this ilk are happy to settle for typical Cropsy stuff, Sleepaway Camp gives us something so much freakier and disturbing than we ever expected. There were folks in the audience at Cap City Video Lounge who had never seen this one before and they were shaken long into the next feature after Sleepaway Camp’s conclusion. Plus, that song Angela’s Theme (You’re Just What I’ve Been Looking For) is one groovy track, but during the end credits, is made really creepy. One of the finest from the 80’s and a fine choice.

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RABID: Cronenberg’s sophomore effort, Rabid starring Ivory Sop Girl turned porn star, Marilyn Chambers, is a weird sicky of a film featuring a typhoid mary central character who somehow gets an armpit anus vagina that spurts forth a parasitic gonzo blood sucking penis that thrives on that blood to stay alive. Some folks have claimed it’s all a metaphor for addiction while others compare to the AIDS epidemic. For me, it’s simply a great contagion movie with green goo spewing mutants barfing and biting everywhere. One of Cronenberg’s sleazier ones before he eventually started making Oscar stuff.

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The Prowler: Oddly enough, probably the dullest film to make the marathon. With countless suspenseless scenes of folks walking around white walled dark hallways looking mildly scared and other scenes that take us down narrative dead ins with no pay off,  The Prowler aka: Rosemary’s Killer, isn’t exactly a recipe for excitement. However, with a little help from Tom Savini in the effects department, the film is littered with great moments of outstanding gore effects that wake you up as you try to stay awake during the 24 hour marathon. Plus an absolutely stunning pare of breasts on one of first victims and Joe Bob Brigg’s constant interruptions, it was still a damn fine time.

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Sorority Babes in the Slime Ball Bowl-A-Rama: Holy shit, I love this movie. One of those bargain basement Scream Queen cheapies with plenty of bare breasts and a story so ludicrous, with performances so unfathomably bad, it’s an absolute delight. Played during about the 4am shift of the 24 hour marathon, this was the hot cup of trash cinema coffee I needed to keep me going after the prowler. Featuring some great full frontal and behind nudity from Brinke Stevens and Michelle Bauer, Linnea Quigley as a badass cat burglar that can’t afford a bra or a full tank top, a malicious little Imp who stuffed in a bowling trophy who awakens with the promise of granting wishes only to try and fucking kill you AND a great recurring cameo by the late, great, George “Buck” Flowers , this was EXACTLY what the marathon needed and payed homage to a handful of Trash Cinema Legends while delivering the sleaze.

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Daughters of Darkness: Now, for probably the most artsy of the films Joe Bob Briggs selected for the 24 hour marathon. Daughter’s of Darkness is an absolutely gorgeous film with some truly inspired performances bringing to life what I would consider to be the best of the female (or lesbian) vampire films. Featuring a strong feminist message, some great nudity, a fantastic score and some downright jarring moments of violence leading up to a :Wha the Fuck did I just witness” climax,  Daughters of Darkness is a ilm that lives up to it’s reputation. A fan actually got a letter read by Joe Bob Briggs read on air where the viewer complained that Daughters of Darkness was”Slow” to which Joe Bob responded, “Yeah, so what? It was MEANT to be slow!” Joe Bob, sir, you are a treasure.

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Blood Feast: I knew he had to show Blood Feast. The movie which created the splatter film genre and a Drive-In Classic directed by the late, great, Herschell Gordon Lewis with the help of the late David F. Friedman in my home state of Florida. Anoyher film that was bittersweet hearing Joe Bob talk about as the man has forever championed this film and became a friend of H.G. Lewis when releasing some of his weird and rare stuff on VHS for the “Sleaziest Movies In the History of the World” collection. Blood Feast is a terrible film by just about everyone’s standards. The script is garbage, the concept is goofy and the performance range from way out there over the top, to I am reading my lines off of the lamp shade. But as a highly entertaining piece of Trash Cinema and a true Drive-In classic, it is hysterical, bloody fun that’s hard to top. Well deserving of it’s place of notoriety in the annals of cinematic history and one of the finest exploitation films ever made. During the marathon Joe Bob Tweeted “Blood Feast is trending nationally? Hershell, are you listening?”  Proving yet again that The Drive-In will NEver Die so long as we keep these legends alive. IT was an honor watching this one with Joe Bob during The Last Drive-In.

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Basket Case: Okay, now we’re cooking with fire! Joe Bob picks out Frank Henenlotter’s debut feature, one of the last of the to Drive-In, Grindhouse greats, the sleazy, filthy, profoundly disgusting BASKET CASE! Another of my all time favorite slices of Trash Cinema, Joe Bob was crucial in making Basket Case a hit. As I recall, he either saw this at a screening as either Cannes or Sundance, and was the only other critic in there besides Rex Reed, who write up the film ended up being it’s selling point and was used in all it’s marketing, “This is the sickest movie ever made.” Joe Bob told that little story during the screening but, otherwise, this was one of the flicks I missed the most of as I was grilling burgers and dogs for the Gang at Cap City Video Lounge during our screening. But, Basket Case was one of those films that needed to be seen. And, again, everyone in our theater during this screening has never seen Basket Case before. So, I was happy to get them fed during the screening of this remarkable, legendary, groundbreaking piece of absolute cinematic filth. What really makes it stand out is the amount of heart and true emotional resonance that exists between the body mutilation, panty sniffing, and stop motion deformed creature tantrums. Henenlotter went on to make Brain Damage and Frankenhooker, but neither really surpasses the mix that Basket Case delivers. One of a kind and true gem of Trash Cinema.

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Re-Animator: Oh, Re-Animator, Stuart Gordon’s gonzo filmic interpretation of H.P. Lovecraft’s classic about life and the lengths some in the field of medicine and advanced science will go to in order to preserve it.  This came out in 1985 alone with Dan ‘OBannon’s Return of the Living Dead and George A. Romero’s Day of the Dead, three of the finest and most game changing zombie flicks ever made. Re-Animator is a a great ride littered with some really fun, cheap gore gags and gross outs, some FANTASTIC gratuitous nudity from the limitlessly attractive and talented Barbara Crampton, but the true saving grace of Re-Animator is the zany, sharp, and gleefully malicious performance of Jeffrey Combs as the unhinged Dr. Herbert West, the man who has created the Re-Animation agent and causes an undead holocaust at Miskatonic University. Featuring some of the most perverse murders, makeup effects and molestations in the history of cinema, Re-Animator was a golden selection for The Last Drive-In. A sure fire crowd pleaser for the Drive-In Mutants.

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Honestly, it wa sa lineup to die for and one Joe Bob obviously took good care in covering all the bases whiel selecting from SHUDDER’s catalog of titles. It was ab absolute joy hanging out with great friends, knocking back brews, and eventually, strong black coffee, as we soldiered through with glee to this 24 hour marathon of the macabre hosted with laughs and vulgarity by the man who brought us here, Joe Bob Briggs.

But there was always a little sting in my heart every time a 28 years older Job Bob would mention a talent whom we had lost in the years since the cancellation of MonsterVision. We hold on to our pasts and those things that made us who were are and we cherish these things. They become a part of us, they define us. But time pushes forward and takes what it wants and as we get older and wiser to these facts the pain doesn’t exactly subside, but we do grow to accept it. There was that shared hope that Joe Bob was going to announce he had made a deal to start up a new show on the streaming service, SHUDDER, where he hosted his 24 hour horror movie marathon, but that announcement never came. Instead, he said his goodbyes, the lights turned off on the set of The Last Drive-In and the credits rolled as Joe Bob sat in his recliner, hunched forward, fiddling with his hat with a look of reflection on his face. As if he will always be there.

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I am not going to lie to you, I had to hold back my tears. It was as if I had just hung out with a long lost relative for the past 24 hours and it was as if nothing had changed, and now that relative has gone away, again, and he’s told us he’s never coming back. But, that is exactly how it all works. We have no say in this, or what those around us decide is best for them. Joe Bob is a saint for coming back at all. For 24 hours it was like being that kid I once was all over again, but instead of being alone in a living room, I was surrounded by my friends this time, in a business I created, that may never have existed without the inspiration folks like Joe Bob Brigg’s provided by teaching me it was okay to be myself, believe in myself and to not turn my back on the things that make me happy. What a great lesson to learn. And those of us who took this lesson to heart, and those of us who carry the torch, we will insure that The Drive-In Will Never Die. That spirit, the spirit of the misfit, the outcast, the weird, the mutated, is something that will be in our hearts always.

Thank you, Joe Bob Briggs, for making me Trashy. We will not let you down.

-Root

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28
May
18

Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead (2014) High Octane Corpse Grinder

 

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a Primal Root written review

“You get to see what the Adults do after dark…” – The Doctor, Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead

The zombie apocalypse has been done to fucking death. I used to eat every film, every book, every piece of pop culture I could find related to the re-animated, flesh craving undead ever since I unearthed a VHS copy of both George A. Romero’s classics Night of the Living Dead (1968) and Dawn of the Dead (1978) from a  bargain bin inside the Tallahassee Mall back in the early to mid 90’s when the zombie genre was far from thriving. I was infatuated, tracking down as much as I could back int he day before there was a computer, let alone the internet, in our house. Fast forward over twenty years later, and not only has the living dead genre risen from it’s shallow grave and crawled back to life, but the hordes of these shambling corpses have practically taken over pop culture to point they are appearing of throw blankets, children’s films and are the central issue in long running, incredibly repetitious television programs.

To me, the zombie genre has been irrelevant and tiresome for decades. The last time a living dead film really got me revved up it w=as probably Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later, when a filmmaker decided to create an updated version of the creature and new rules were invented. It livened things up and gave us something new and truly interesting within a genre that was just beginning to come back into sharp focus within the cinematic landscape. But, before long, it was the same old horde of zombies, following the same old rules, chasing the same rag tag group of thieves and misfits. It’s tired, done, to death, and no real fresh blood has been injected to give this world something to interest me.

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That all came to an end the other night when I sat down to a viewing of the 2014 film entitled Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead. An Australian independent horror film that took nearly four years to create and touts itself as”Dawn of the Dead Meets Mad Max.” The film has more unrestrained energy, ferocious creativity and enthusiasm for the genre than I’ve come across since Peter Jackson’s Dead Alive aka: Brain Dead from 1992 and Drew Bolduc & Dan Nelson’s The Taint from 2011.  Wyrmwood is the living dead film I have been craving for 25 year, a film so fun, so heartfelt and so genre defying while staying true to it’s spirit, it not only revived my love and hope for a genre that has been the lackluster, stale floating turd of horror for far too long. Wyrmwood is the new high watermark of the genre. Seriously, it is THAT good. This mother fucker IS the fiery, fresh shot of new blood the likes of which I never even dreamed I’d see again.

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Wyrmood: Road of the Dead starts off on familiar territory, we are introduced to our central characters which will be Barry (Jay Gallagher) a bearded, well built handy man, husband and father of a cute and rambunctious young daughter who is woken out of a sound sleep by the sounds of a society starting to collapse just outside the door to his warm suburban home. Brooke (Bianca Bradey), his sister who happens to be a makeup artist working on a photo shoot with two other young ladies when the outbreak begins, and Benny (Leon Burchill) who is on a camping trip with his mates when they all witness the plethora of shooting starts lighting up the sky the night the outbreak begins. All prove to be more than capable of defending themselves against these living dead, human meat chomping, ghouls, but it soon becomes apparent that these zombies are not playing by the familiar rules set up by George Romero 40 years ago. No, these foul breathed carnivorous creeps are something entirely different.

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Sure, some of the same rules apply, obliterate their head and they drop like a sack of monkey cum, but there seems to be no rhyme or reason as to how people are becoming infected, not only that, but there’s a strange new mystery revolving around which certain machines have stopped functioning. The story splits off into two different tales as we follow Barry and Brooke on their struggles to survive. After Barry loses both his wife and daughter, he is left suicidal, but soon begins to cross paths with other survivors, discovers answers to mysteries about their current biblical Doomsday situation, and steadily gains back his will to live by harnessing his grief and rage into being proactive and moving forward into this new, horrifying world while trying to protect those around him. Brooke, on the other hand, is abducted, drugged and experimented on by a disco dancing wack job in a hazmat suit who is part of a roving pack of the Australian military, it would seem, who continuously inject her with a serum  created using the blood of those infected with this reanimated virus which results in some very unexpected consequences.

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If you think any of what I’ve told you above is a spoiler, trust me, they are not by a LONG shot. I went into Wyrmwood knowing nothing at all about it and the film left me absolutely thrilled and slack jawed by it’s immense creativity and bold new and totally out of left field rules. On several occasions Wyrmwood completely inverts audience expectations and leaves you wondering just where the Hell the filmmakers are planning to take you. It’s a spirit and kind of maniacal glee in a team of creative thinkers always one upping themselves and deciding to crash right ahead down the road less traveled and blazing a whole new path that they know will leave the audience on the edge of their seats and smiling ear to ear. Several time during our viewing, Bootsie Kidd and I turned and looked at one another, eyes wide, gapping smiles and laughing with absolute joy at just how insanely intelligent, hilarious and deeply human this Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead was. Not afraid to introduce likable characters and then rip them away from us brutally, and often with fates worse than death, and allowing viewers to feel the gravity of these losses. Sometimes you might laugh at the absurdity of the loss, but there’s almost always a moment of sorrow for them being gone.

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I really don’t want to say a whole lot more about Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead, and I STRONGLY advise you don’t watch the trailer and simply go in blind. I can guarantee it will be a far more rewarding experience, as the trailer spoils pretty much everything that’s surprising and original about the film itself. I know Wyrmwood likes to advertise that it’s like Dawn of the Dead meets Mad Max, but to me, it feels almost like a spiritual offspring of Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead meets Peter Jackson’s early work, specifically Bad Taste and Dead Alive aka: Brain Dead. It’s a go for broke, low budget, independent labor of love. The kind of love you can feel just oozing from this thing like so much maggot filled vomit from the black, rotten, gob of and long deteriorating zombie. Truly, it’s the kind of film I could see Oscar winning director Peter Jackson making today is he were to get back to his roots ala: George Miller with Mad Max: Fury Road. It’s honestly that fucking impressive.

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Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead is the low budget high energy and inspiration action gore fest the genre has been lacking in for what feels like fucking ages. I happen to know the film’s director, Kiah Roache-Turner has a new film coming out this year entitled Nekromancer, a tale about a man who hunts down and destroys demons in the internet. After watching the absolute joy that is Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead, I am chomping at the bit to see how Kiah will subvert the genre and surprise us in the future.

I am awarding Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead FIVE out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets.

Check this breathless and badass motherfucker out, Gang.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

 




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