Posts Tagged ‘imaginative

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

 

 

 

 

09
Sep
12

Dementia Grimm: September 2012’s Devil Girl of the Month!

Hello there, Gang! The Primal root here and I am pleased and honored to present to you September 2012’s Devil Girl of the Month,  a very dear friend of ours at the TCC, Dementia Grimm! This is her second time gracing us with her ever so lovely and deeply disturbing presence here at The Trash Cinema Collective. This time around she’s come to us with her own twisted, blood lusting take on Strawberry Shortcake. Strawberry DEATH Cake perhaps? Crypt Keeper, eat your heart out. Check out Dementia’s lip smackingly, disturbing Devil Girl spread and be sure to let her know what you think!  -Root

Primal Root: First of all, your spread is ridiculously cool. I really dig the costume and make-up, where did the concept for this spread come from? I can’t tell if you genuinely love or hate strawberry’s. 

Dementia Grimm: To be honest, strawberry *is*, and has always been my favorite fruit, but that’s not where this all started. A few years back, Penny Arcade ran a parody piece called “American McGee’s Strawberry Shortcake”, playing on the “Alice” variant. I thought the piece was twistedly adorable. Turns out American Greetings wasn’t so happy, and they gave Penny Arcade a cease & desist order, and it turned it into this huge ridiculous internet thing. I figured, just on principle (and it *was* a cool idea), I wanted to do the costume. I’d done it for about three years at Dragoncon, and it was then retired.
Lately, she’d been on my mind, and I started trying to figure how I could revive her but in a horror-style fashion. I don’t recall the video I was watching, but I was browsing Youtube, and suddenly remembered the Strawberry Shortcake doll I had as a kid, and how it always kinda creeped me out, even though I loved the smell of it. The idea snowballed from there.

PR: Dementia, we’ve heard through the grapevine that you will be participating in the Girls of the Con 2013 Calendar. Can you tell us what you have in store? Which month are you hoping for? 

DG: Thank you! I am really incredibly excited and honored to be working with GOTC (http://www.girlsofthecon.com/_, really such an awesome group that really embodies the spectrum of beautiful women who attend conventions. I know how cheesy that sounds, but it is absolutely true. I believe they have me as Miss April, as my costume is that of a huge pink rabbit with a chainsaw. The story behind the costume is that it’s a variant of Dogwitch (http://www.dogwitch.com/), a demented comic from the incredible mind of Dan Schaffer. In the Direct to Video TPB, Violet (Dogwitch) conjures up a dead guy, for her to have a date with. Her idea of a date is to dress up in a giant bunny suit and play “Skin the Rabbit”. Heck of an Easter story, doncha think? So, I think that’s why I’m Miss April.

Oh yeah, and there will be copies and I’ll be at their table at Spooky Empire’s Ultimate Horror Weekend October 26-28. Maybe even in the giant bunny suit.

PR: It’s almost here, the most wonderful time of the year, Fall! Halloween season! Do you have any traditions? 

DG: Traditions? Oh yes, many, Many many many. It’s not fall to me until I have my first Starbucks’ caramel apple spice, or have my first Publix cinnamon broom up in the house. I also have my awesomely epic playlist in rotation on Spotify. I also, when I feel that familiar breeze in the air, make a bit of a ceremony of solitary communing with Mother Nature and honoring the season. At the beginning of October, since 2004, I have a yearly ritual going of picking a new horror movie every night, that I have not seen before, and watching & reviewing it. A “30 Days of Horror”, if you will. Some of my favorite horror films have been because of this challenge. Netflix is an invaluable tool in this. I’ve done it on Livejournal, I’ve done it for websites, last year I did it on Google Plus, and this year I may do it on Youtube. I’m actually starting to search for great options for my selections now.

PR: Any events this Fall you’re looking forward to? 

DG: ALL THE EVENTS! Seriously, there are a number I’d like to do. I think I’m able to make Halloween Horror Nights at Universal at the end of this month. I would LOVE to do Disney’s Halloween event. I’m also pondering a ghostly-related event to squeeze in there as well. I’m not sure what, just yet, but I’m big into the supernatural and I haven’t done one in a while. I was also invited to Zombicon in Fort Myers, but am not sure if I’ll be attending.  I’m also still not sure about Halloween. I’m super excited about Spooky Empire’s Ultimate Horror Weekend, where I’ll be wearing Strawberry in all her red glory, and after that I may just stick to scaring my Wonder-bread suburban neighbors as I usually do Halloween night. Maybe a party or two. I’m open to suggestions!

PR: I want you to sit back and relax for a second. Take a look deep within yourself and share with us what movie you truly enjoy that most people consider Trash. If this is too personal, we will strive to be understanding. 

DG: That’s a really good question. I’d like to go with the answers of “The Blair Witch Project”, since I grew up in a small town surrounded by woods chock full of similar urban legends, or “Paranormal Activity” since I’ve experienced similar things, but those answers seems so cliche. It would be so much easier to ask what horror movies I hate that everyone else likes, but that would take up a whole blog to do so. WHYTHATHORRORMOVIEYOULIKESUCKS.COM. OH! I know one! A little gem from1989 called “Dance of the Damned”. I adore vampire movies, and this one isn’t your typical vampire-action bloodfest. It’s, in my opinion, a beautiful piece that was one of the first of its kind to showcase vampires in a different light. I’m sure I have a few others, but I can’t think of them off the top of my head.

PR: Dementia, again, we are honored to have you as our Devil Girl of the Month for September. Do you have any words of wisdom to the folks checking your spread out at home? Any closing remarks?

DG: Thank you! It’s an honor to be chosen (insert bad joke about being the chosen one here). Words of wisdom? Hope all your readers are ready for a BERRY strawberries-and-scream autumn season! (yeah, I know, that was lame LOL)

I think the Crypt Keeper would be proud! Gang, enjoy the latest spread from Dementia Grim! Stay Trashy!

-Root

Photography by Harriet Branch




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