Posts Tagged ‘investigation

09
Oct
16

The WNUF Halloween Special (1987-2013)

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“This is not some Halloween prank. The grisly evidence of the supernatural is real. – Frank Stewart,  The WNUF Halloween Special

a Primal Root written review

This day and age everything we want is right at our fingers tips. All the information (and misinformation) we need is jut a key stroke and a mouse click away. Movies are on demand, Netflix streams their tiny list of titles right into our living rooms…but not long ago we had to dig. A younger generation will not know of the struggle it once was to locate an obscure title or horror film, a rare bootleg of a strange, grotesque, bizarre television occurrence or to pay exorbitant amounts of cash to purchase a copy of something you’ve heard such tall tales of that your expectations are sky high, only to pop in the VHS tape and realize you’ve totally been had. Sure, it was a kind of dark age of horror cinema geekdom, but for every tape you watched that was absolute dog shit, you would come across some absolute gold. Even some strange, unlabeled tapes from the local thrift store, flea market or Goodwill that left you wondering just what the fuck you witnessed and had your grasping desperately at what was left of your Taco Bell and Mountain Dew fueled teenage sanity.

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However, in 2013 some innovative and intelligent filmmakers decided to try and recreate that exact same vibe with The WNUF Halloween Special, a feature film intended to look and feel like a lost, legendary 1980’s local news Halloween broadcast that went terribly wrong and has become the stuff of Urban Myth. The film begins with the all too familiar bright blue VHS screen we all recall from the era, a white triangle with the word “PLAY” pop up in the top corner as an audible click is heard and we are transported back to a simpler time, a crappier time perhaps, where audio was spotty, video quality was always poor and everything was tacky and damn proud of it. Of course, those living at the time had no idea and it was embraced in all it’s clunkiness.

Our news anchors at WNUF, dressed as a witch and Dracula respectively, are just as cheesy and goofball as you might expect, only going serious face when the story calls for it, like a story about local tragedy where an asian boy dressed as G.I. Joe when to a Vietnam veterans home and was gunned down. It’s a dark chuckle, but a damn good one, none the less. We are also told repeatedly to stay tuned for The WNUF Halloween Special at 7pm, right after the 6 O’Clock News where the ultimate ham and local news anchor, the mustachioed  Frank Stewart, played by the dead pan and hilarious Paul Fahrenkopf, will host a stunning exploration into the supernatural and unexplained phenomenon occurring within the walls of the infamous Webber House,  the site of ghoulish murders. Frank enlists the help of a famed Husband, Wife and Feline psychic team as well as a local Catholic Priest to accompany him on this journey into the horrifying, the macabre and the unknown…

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It’s just as cheesy as it sounds, folks.  But it all works in the movies favor, because for the most part, if you can suspend your disbelief just a little bit, it doesn’t feel staged.  It all feels pretty damn real thank to the very natural, often improvised performances. What also lends a lot of credence to the proceedings are the fantastic fake local commercials that keep interrupting the action after our perilous reporter looks into the camera telling us, “We’ll be back RIGHT AFTER THIS!” There are some truly wonderful ads created for the fictional but very nostalgic local haunts like Tokens arcade and pizza parlor as well as late night horror movie shows to broadcast later in the evening and even political attack ads! It goes a long way to making the whole film feel more like genuine lost relic of a bygone era than your typical found footage genre entry.

Much like The Blair Witch Project over a decade earlier, it began building hype via word of mouth. Once the Halloween Special was completed filmmaker Chris LaMartina started getting the word out by dubbing the film directly to VHS, hand writing labels with Sharpie and dropping it off without anyone noticing at VHS collector conventions for people to stumble upon. I’ve even heard they drove around Baltimore tossing VHS copies of their movie out the car window in the hopes of people picking it up, sliding it not the VCR’s and getting rumors and copies circulating.  I can only imagine how awesome it must have been to be one of the lucky ones who tumbled across one of those original VHS tapes before it became common knowledge that this was all staged and wondering just what you had come across. It must have a been the most wonderful kind of mind fuck.

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Sure, we all know it’s fake now, but I cannot heap enough praise on The WNUF Halloween Special. It has a lot of fun transporting us back the days that folks like us used to look forward to dressing up in costumes, going to Halloween carnivals with our parents and trick or treating around the neighborhood with our friends. The WNUF Halloween Special brings back those feelings of just how special Halloween night was to us as children, sure, it’s still special to us know, but as a child in meant something even more. I for putting so much effort into creating that reality for us, once again, WNUF should be commended.

I don’t want to spoil anything, but by film’s end we see another nightly news broadcast five days after the fact with our original two news anchors discussing with us whether or not what we witnessed on screen during the WNUF Halloween Special was a hoax or not. They mention the disappearance of certain people…then put on their best smiles, forget about that bummer and move on full force into discussing Thanksgiving and Christmas season! Its crasstastic, pitch perfect in it’s dark humor and mocking the attention span of the typical television viewer. But, you know as well as I do, that it’s only one year before Halloween comes round again… The WNUF Halloween Special takes place in 1987…who know what happened in 1988?

I award The WNUF Halloween Special 3 out of 5 Dumpster Nuggets!

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

 

25
Jun
16

(NSFW) The Teacher (1974) Too Cheeky

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“Well, come on in a minute… I’m not gonna rape you.” – Angel Tompkins as Diane Marshall in The Teacher

a Primal Root written review

Sexy, taboo, tawdry disturbing with just the right amount of putrid awfulness and sense of shame makes The Teacher (written and directed by Howard Avedis) unintentionally genius. The film is aware of it’s limitations, yet still manages to pull out all the stops and deliver a lowbrow, steamy, creepy chunk of sleazy entertainment that was, to my own amazement effectively erotic, which brought about by subtle, slow simmering means.

Most of the credit, if not all the credit, rest squarely on the capable, sensual shoulders of the ravishing Angel Tompkins (as The Teacher of the title, Mrs. Diane Marshall), but when you are effortlessly lovely and seductive as Ms. Tompkins’, all you need do is glance at local teenage rapscallion and it won’t be long before you have them eating out of your hand. there are many nuanced layers to this seedy, sexual creep fest. The most important of which involves a yellow slicker wearing psychotic stalker Vietnam war veteran named Ralph (played by excellent character actor, Anthony James, who turns the film’s most memorable performance.) who may or may not have been one of Diane’s early student/teacher sexual conquests and is now dangerously, murderously fixated upon her. I don’t believe this is ever made explicitly clear in the film, but Ralph’s doomed little brother, Lou (Rudy Harris Jr.) says his brother claims to have made the sign of double backed mud weasel with her at some point in the not too distant past. Ralph has a headquarters up int he top of a derelict building next to a dystopian marina where Diane parks her boat she somehow affords on a teacher’s salary in 1974. This boat’s primary purpose, it would seem, is for Diane to take it out in the harbor, about 500 yards from where she had it docked, take off her top and sun bath…while Ralph watches through the binoculars he keeps in his red velvet coffin up in his lair.

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And that’s how this whole sordid tale gets going, a pair of binoculars, a pair of sun baked boobs and a deeply disturbed Vietnam war veteran. Lou takes his best friend Sean (Jay North, that’s right, a slightly more grown up version of TV’s Dennis the Menace) to Ralph’s lair after the last day of school to take a peek at their teachers chesticles. As the gawk and stare, Ralph hides in the shadows, sneaks up behind the two unsuspecting high school students and scares the ever loving shit out of them. In fact, he scares his brother Lou so bad he falls of the roof and plummets to his death from the voyeuristic perch, where, from a bird’s eye view after he crunches to the pavement below, we can see blood pouring forth from what seems to be his denim clad asshole. Ralph freaks the fuck out and swears bloody, murderous revenge against Sean the innocent Sean for the murder of his brother. Of course, Sean shortly after become fuckmantically involved with Diane, which sends Ralph even deeper into super psycho homicidal behavior which makes for some very strange, very awkwardly funny and even somewhat affecting trash cinema moments.

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But, as you and I know, the opportunity to sexually experiment as a teenager with someone who looks like Angel Tompkins is an extreme rarity, so, despite the obvious liabilities to his young life, Sean loses his virginity and begins an illicit fuck buddy relationship with the seductive, easy as Sunday morning, Diane Marshall. However, I must acknowledge it took Sean a good amount of the film’s running time to get the courage to finally slip Diane the extra credit she’s been blatantly asking for ever since summer break begins. She seems to be after him in every scene they share together and he always brushes her off with is trademarked excuse, “I gotta go work on my van.” Pool parties, kitchen flirtations, laying around nekkid in the master bedroom asking him to kiss her sweet meat…okay, that last one didn’t ACTUALLY happen, but he does finally give into his desires, overcomes his fear of sex with a married woman who is ALSO his teacher, and they both love every damn second of the deep dicking.  However, as a viewer and a human being, the fact that it took this 18 year old boy so long to give in to his 28 year old teachers sexual temptation frustrated me as a sane human being. I mean, really, who cares if a deranged mad man with a saber and banana yellow rain jacket is out to slice you from groin to sternum and jump rope with a length of your shit filled intestines? All that beer drinking, fucking and frolicking are totally worth it in The Primal Root’s book. I say job well done, Sean! Life is fleeting, anyway. Go fuck your teacher, son.

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Oh, before I forget, Sean’s mother/pimp is played by none other than Miss Universe 1961, Marlene Schmidt, who quite a piece of Devil’s food cake, herself. She even has one of my favorite bizarre-o lines in the entire film as she chats bikini clad poolside with Diane, “I find him very attractive, even if he IS my son.” Man, not since Back to the Future has a film managed an Oedipal moment like that.

At the end of the day, Angel Tompkins really is what I take away from The Teacher. Well, that and an important lesson about never peeping on your teacher with binoculars of lunatics that live in rat infested demilitarized buildings near a pier. Angel is amply equipped and totally convincing in the roll of an experienced seductress. Someone who will stop at nothing until you drop your trousers and irrigate her soy bean field. Sure, she’s not an especially talented actress, but the lack of wardrobe does help take the edge off, but there’s no denying she is fucking stellar in the one moment when Sean admits in her and his parents that he was spying on her while she was nude sunbathing. Her satisfied, utterly aroused little smirk is goddamn lip smacking delicious. Ms. Tompkins seductively saunters from scene to scene with an unparalleled sense of self possession. It’s as if she’s seducing us as we watch, but that could just be me talking over the sound of my own raging boner.

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Anyway, The Teacher is a goddamn remarkable, low brow, trash cinema experience. It has enough  fun sex shenanigans to get your popcorn popping and a nice freakish mean streak to keep you wondering just where the fuck this batshit tale os sluts, psychos and dick brained teens is taking us. they sure as Hell don’t make ’em this sleazy anymore. The Teacher passes the test, every time, Gang.

I give The Teacher a solid 5 out of 5 Dumpster Nuggets. 90 minutes of playground love, Gang.

 

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10
Jul
14

Shakedown (1988) Law and Disorder

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a Primal Root written review

Sam Elliott and Peter Weller are my guys. I’ll see just about anything featuring either of these two actors due to their excellent body of work , both Trashy and Embraced by the Masses. Come on, Elliott’s the main reason to visit Swayze’s “Road House” (1989), not to mention his turn as the enigmatic Stranger in the seldom seen lost classic, “The Big Lebowski (1998)  and Peter Weller’s filmography is basically a who’s who of sci-fi cult cinema, from Paul Verhoeven’s 1987 action  masterpiece, “Robocop” to 1984’s bomb-come-cult flick, “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension.”  And, as we all know, when two legends cross paths, one must always pay strict attention.

To my own shock and amazement, “Shakedown,” a film featuring two icons of cinematic strangeness, and strange plot that takes your from the heights of wacky action to the morose happenings of a court room drama and every imaginable place between, is not heralded as I had originally imagined upon hearing of it’s existence. I am hoping to correct that issue with this review.

Shakedown takes place on the tough, unforgiving streets of New York City and it’s tough, unforgiving courtrooms. It’s a tale of police corruption, murder and badass action sequences. The film begins with a big time drug dealer having to defend his life from a crazed cracker who shows up, asks for a fix, then pulls a gun on him. The cracker ends up dead as rat shit while our drug dealer, Michael (Richard Brooks), ends up wounded and on trial for the murder of a cop who never identified himself and was obviously looking to steal the gentleman’s crops and money. Thankfully, we see Michael press the REC button on his ghetto blaster, but the film forgets all about that until the last act of the movie once it becomes a life or death situation.

Thankfully for Michael the drug dealer, he has two of the coolest mother fuckers ever to live in New York City on his side. We’re talking public defender and avid Jimi Hendrix fan,  Roland Dalton (Peter “Don’t Call Me Buckaroo” Weller) and grimy, greased up, 42nd street undercover cop, Richie Marks (Sam Elliot, as grizzled and awesome as ever.)  Upon hearing of the case, Roland swoops down to defend Michael against the Good Old Boys club of the NYPD who are more than willing to make people disappear in order to cover up their own crimes and deceptions. The thing Roland doesn’t realize is that he will be facing down his old flame, Susan Cantrell, (Patricia Charbonneau) the new District Attorney in this murder case. And wouldn’t you know it, this is all happening on the eve of Roland’s marriage to the young and wholly unlikable Gail Feinberger (Blanche Baker) whose Father just so happens to head the biggest law firm in the city, which means Roland will become a partner and spend his life defending the rich and powerful and making sure those with the money get to keep it. Thankfully, this recent case, plus late night discussions with his district attorney ex-girlfriend, who acts as a cock riding Jiminy Cricket, has led to Roland’s reevaluation of the whole situation. Does he want to continue taking on cases for those who are innocent of any wrong doing but society wants them punished anyway, or to live a life with a woman who scolds him for listening to rock and roll too load in the morning while blending home made Orange Julius’s and wiping the asses of spoiled, rich old geezers? Decisions, decisions…

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To help uncover any evidence pertaining to the case and delve into the police corruption itself, Roland meets up with his old pal, undercover cop, Richie in the shit stained, syringe covered restroom of a dilapidated 42nd Street grindhouse. Over a few drinks in one of New York’s many watering holes, the two decide to team up and put the hurt of the NYPD’s most crooked cops, when Michael’s case and hopefully put away some scumbag pigs in the process.

Now, don’t get me wrong, the law and order proceedings that take place in the court room and are discussed in between the opposing legal team’s fuck sessions are really interesting, but the real stars of “Shakedown” are the go for broke, mind blowing, action sequences scattered throughout the film to keep you from being too mellow. While Roland is either defending or banging, Richie is chasing and beating the snot out of New York’s nastiest criminals and cops on his quest for the truth. The man is willing to use 42nd Street theater neon lights as means to leap onto the top of moving busses while opening fire on suspects! The guy chases a man onto a carnival roller coaster before starting it up and ensuring the car derails thereby sending the criminal soaring to his hysterical death! And, in probably, the greatest action sequence I have ever witnessed, Sam Elliot, as Richie, with the aid of Roland and his Porsche, manages to chase down a private jet. climb onto the jet’s landing gear as it takes off, ride that landing gear to a height where the roof of the World Trade Tower’s are visible; toss a grenade inside and then leap into the ocean before the plane lands and explodes. Yes, Richie survives with no damage worse than a wet pair of Levi’s.

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It’s that combination of serious, intelligent courtroom drama and Gonzo, batshit crazy action that really makes 1988’s “Shakedown” possibly one of the strangest yet endlessly entertaining action films of the 1980’s. A lot of the appeal is derived from watching the film’s two leading men bring the big bad guys to justice as well as watching Peter Weller and Sam Elliott, two very likable cult actors, pal around and makes jokes with one another. These gentlemen never ascended to the pantheon of great action stars like Arnold, Sly and Bruce. No, Peter has become more well known a a science fiction character actor and Sam, outside of The Big Lebowski, is a bit more recognized as a western cinema staple. But here, watching the two unlikely actors turned action stars, one cannot help but marvel as they spray gun fire, make death defying leaps from buildings and spout witty retorts and villains burn to death. It’s like watching the high school A.V. geek and the guy in shop class who never bathes joining forces to crack down on high school crime. To put it bluntly, it’s a mother fucking hoot to behold.

Also, another highlight of the film for me, is that “Shakedown” features New York’s 42nd Street RIGHT before gentrification took hold, the theaters were dismantled, and the strip steadily became home to Disney stores and McDonald’s and attracted more tourists than locals. It’s a final swan song to what was once a sleazy, filthy, dangerous playground, A place of legend that is no more. Watching some good goddamn action sequences explode across this neon sodom is quite a spectacle to behold, but also a lovingly rendered final look at a place that now only exists in memory and cinema.

“Shakedown” is a one of a kind action film. Feeling like Law and Order by way of Robert Rodriguez and Michael Bay’s love child, “Shakedown” mixes together ingredients that should by no means make a tasty concoction, but manages to deliver something unique, exciting, fun and shockingly entertaining. You will be pulled in by the human drama and then blown out of your seat with astonishment and laughter as one rock ’em sock ’em action scene after another pummels you over the head with it’s bizarre and warped sense of reality. My friends, “Shakedown” must truly be seen to be believed.

“Shakedown” will shake your beliefs in action cinema to the ground. Watch it brace yourself for an awakening and an injection of pure, undiluted Trash.

I give “Shakedown” THREE and a HALF out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

28
Apr
14

Christine (1983): Cars, Kids, Parents and Shitters

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“Let me tell you a little something about love, Dennis. It has a voracious appetite. It eats everything. Friendship. Family. It kills me how much it eats.” -Arnie Cunningham, Christine (1983)

a Primal Root written review

It’s all true, the legends are real, and we all must face it at one time or another: Growing up sucks.  When we’re children this is the last thing on our minds as we explore, grow and challenge the world around us. But then there’s those teenage years when the world of adulthood begins to rear it’s ugly head. The prospects of responsibility, paying bills, squelching all aspects of your individuality and creativity in order to fold neatly and unobtrusively into the 9 to 5 rat race world of ass kissing and corporate scumbaggery. The trick is not to fall into that trap so many of us find ourselves in where we become disillusioned, cynical, turning our backs on our dreams, our aspirations and that child of our youth that deserved so much better than us rolling over and letting the world at large stick the societal cock up our ass without lube and ride us the rest of our days. This is the true horror of life, the unspoken tragedy of adulthood.

Enter John Carpenter’s “Christine,” his 1983 adaptation of Stephen King’s BEST SELLING novel. Let me start by saying, yes, I have read the book and I do realize the movie isn’t exactly the book. Let me clarify, this is a completely different artistic medium than literature, this is film, and in the process of adaptation some events and characters must be changed in order to fit this new format.  I think Carpenter delivered a lean, mean, intelligent and heartfelt big screen version of King’s tale of adolescent yearning, the pain of being an outcast, the horrors of high school, and the often disheartening and nasty business of transitioning to adulthood.

 Christine is the story two childhood friends,  Dennis Guilder (John Stockwell) who is living the teen dream as the popular, well built and lusted after captain of the varsity football team who has laid back parents and his own car, and Arnie Cunningham (Keith Gordon, in a brilliant performance) a stereotypical nerd with greased over hair, thick, black glasses, parents who completely smother him and control his every move and lives a life of constant torment at the hands of the school bully, Buddy Rupperton, who looks to be about 38 years old and seems to live to hurt others along with his squad of goonish  teenage sidekicks. Dennis and Arnie grew up together, and as children, they were equals. But as time went on they both grew into their roles and dropped into their place in high school, teenage pecking order. Despite all this, the two maintain a close friendship, a brother like bond.

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Arnie is obviously the outsider, ignored by his peers and brutally bullied and picked on by goons like the teenage asshole prototype Buddy Repperton who looks like he’s been held back about ten years and refers to Arnie Cunningham and “Cuntingham.”  Get it?   Repperton and his buddies live to inflict pain and be absolute jerks to anyone who crosses their paths, focusing the thrust of their efforts and ganging up on those who are the weakest and can’t fight back. Arnie does his best to stand up for himself through this humiliating torment, but he often has to rely on his friend Dennis for help. Shit, when it’s four or five blood thirsty teenage cavemen, we could all use a little assistance.  In one intense standoff where Buddy is brandishing a switchblade against the defenseless Arnie, the whole ordeal ends with Arnie getting his glasses stomped upon, Dennis getting his balls squeezed into lemonade and Buddy ending up expelled and lowering death threats at Arnie. Yep, sounds like a typical day in high school to me.

But soon Arnie finds solace and peace of mind in the form of an old, rusted out, Plymouth Fury he spots on the way home with Dennis. “Her name’s Christine.”  Bearded, smelly looking, back brace wearing, old timer George Lebay (Roberts Blossom) informs them as Arnie and Dennis check the death trap of a car out. Lebay reflects on the day his recently deceased brother brought Christine home fresh off the assembly line.  “My asshole brother bought her back in September ’57. That’s when you got your new model year, in September. Brand-new, she was. She had the smell of a brand-new car. That’s just about the finest smell in the world, ‘cept maybe for pussy.” Ah, George Lebay, you are a delight! Best character in the film and he’s got about 5 minutes of screen time.

Of course, Arnie buys the car and drives it home only to find his controlling to the point of it being borderline psychotic Mother refuses to allow him to park it in their drive way and goes total ape shit over the fact that Arnie bought something without consulting her and his Father (mostly her) first.  Dad’s a total pussy and just goes along with what his wife dictates to poor, unfortunate, Arnie who has done everything she’s told him to do his entire life. He defends himself admirably before stomping out of the house, slamming the door and driving his moveable beast over to a local garage owned by seedy businessman Will Darnell (Robert Prosky), another adult who decides to give Arnie a nice little helping of shit, hassling the kid and calling the poor guy a creep before Dennis gives Arnie a ride home where Arnie’s parents are locked and loaded, ready to pulverize Arnie with more verbal abuse. It’s been one Hell of a day for poor, sad, Arnie Cunningham.

Soon, Arnie isn’t around as much. Every spare moment he has he’s at Darnell’s garage working on Christine. The car’s mileage is running backwards, her paint job is restored despite the fact that style of paint isn’t manufactured anymore, and the cracks in her windshield seem to be shrinking. Arnie seems to be changing to, he is cold, distant, loses his glasses and is soon dating the hot new girl in school whom all the boys lust for, Leigh Cabot (Alexandra Paul), which still baffles me when there’s the voluptuous, gorgeous head cheerleader Roseanne (Kelly Preston) around who looks to be up for getting down and dirty. Anyhoo, Dennis ends up getting severely injured and nearly paralyzed during a football game and ends up int he hospital for several months.  This gives him a perfect vantage point to witness Arnie’s strange behavior and disturbing changes in character as Arnie drops by sporadically to visit and his spirit becomes darker, meaner.

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Before long Christine is in tip=top shape and is the envy of everyone at school. Even Leigh becomes jealous of all the attention Arnie lavishes on Christine. This would be really stupid if it weren’t for the fact Christine is actually full of evil and tries to kill Leigh at the Drive-In by making her choke on a delicious hamburger in a creepy yet somewhat hysterical scene. Sorry, I know I shouldn’t laugh, but Leigh’s chocking face is kind of comical. I know, I’m going to Hell.  Thankfully, a nearby Drive-In patron is there to save Leigh in time while Arnie fumbles with Christine’s door handle.

Christine also catches the eye of Buddy Repperton, the local asshole, and his crew of violent idiots. The decide to break into Darnell’s garage after hours and totally destroy Christine in a scene that’s tantamount to a gang rape.  The teens bash Christine to pieces with led pipes, sledgehammers, and knives. One even pauses to drop his trousers and drop a Cleveland steamer right on Christine’s dash. This scene is a testament to all those horrible human beings int her world who crave pleasure by hurting others. Watching these complete scumbags work over Christine is infuriating and makes you crave vengeance. When Arnie and Leigh walk into Darnell’s garage and find his beloved Christine in pieces, Arnie’s reaction is completely understandable if  not a bit savage. When Leigh goes to comfort Arnie he lashes out at her, screaming at her, calling her a “shitter.”

Suddenly, Christine has become a rape revenge film. Christine reforms herself in a matter f seconds with the coaxing of her teenage lover, Arnie and it’s off to the races as Christine begins killing off each of her rapists one by one. Arnie, in the midst of he and Christine’s nightly killing sprees, visits Dennis and is creepily unhinged, making jokes about the recent death of a fellow classmate who took part in trying to demolish the unkillable Christine.  When interrogated about the incident by Detective Rudolph Junkins (Harry Dean Stanton, never anything less than outstanding), the detective mentions how the murdered young man had to be scraped of the ground with a shovel to which Arnie replies “Isn’t that what you do with shit? Scrap it off the ground with a shovel?” Way to maintain your innocence, Arnie. Please, next time, go grab your attorney.

Everyone knows Arnie and Christine are to blame for this rash of killings and all those who love and care for Arnie the most are those who are in danger, the ones Christine has manipulated Arnie into believing are “The Shitters” of the world. Those who want to keep Arnie from being with Christine,  the one thing that is his, the one thing that gave him unconditional love in return.  It will all lead to a final confrontation at Darnell’s Garage, but who’s motor will be left running when all is said and done?

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At the end of the day, cars aren’t very scary. They are inanimate objects that require human interaction for them to work. They are tools to be utilized.  However, John Carpenter makes it work by relying one very trick in his film making vocabulary. He focuses more on the human aspects of the story and concentrates on making all the moments between the human players feeling almost painfully genuine. As a film goer, I’ve seen few movies, horror or otherwise, that portray high school and the experience of being a teenager with such bleak, gritty, unfiltered honesty. This time in your life can really suck, and I am sure many of us can relate, even if it is only a little bit, with Arnie Cunningham, the kid who has tried so hard to please everyone and put up with all the bullshit constantly shoved in his face, that when he finally finds that one thing that he falls in love with and loves him back, in this case, cherry red evil on wheels that speaks to him through hand picked oldies radio selections, he loses himself totally to this seduction, this perceived love.

 Christine can be interpreted many different ways. At face value, it’s simply a story of possession at the hands of an evil monster car, which is one fantastic B-Movie concept. But here, in the hands of John Carpenter and screenwriter Bill Phillips, Christine offers up so much more than that.  I’ve heard a lot of folks compare Christine to a fable about drug addiction, and I can certainly see the what they mean.  Arnie finds the one thing in life that brightens his life, gives it some kind of meaning outside of the expectations of others and he follows that road of self destruction to it’s sad, tragic ending.  It totally makes sense and I think that interpretation is entirely valid.

I’ve always seen the film as a horrible tale of growing up and away from the kid you once were. Being shaped by those around you and letting their behavior and treatment of you shape you into something you never wanted to be. Bullied, beaten down, mistreated and an outcast, Christine represents Arnie’s out, but also, as the model of the care suggests, the embracing of Arnie’s internal fury, the cynical side, the  insecure, self deprecated side which has been nurtured by those around him his the gasoline and Christine is the spark that begins Arnie’s transformation into adulthood, and into a man those around him hardly recognize. A cold, uncaring, mean spirited loner who murders those he, and Christine, perceive as a threat.  Christine is most assuredly a form of evil on wheels, but she unlocks something that already existed in Arnie. A teenager who was a really good guy, but always taken advantage of, picked on and made to feel inferior.  At one point int he story Arnie says a chilling line to Dennis while visiting him at the hospital;  ” Has it ever occurred to you that part of being a parent is trying to kill your kids?”  It’s a perfect,  if dramatic summation of the child vs. parent in a strict, repressive household. Where individuality is squelched rather than cultivated and the goals and standards of the parent are enforced rather than ever taking into account what their child wants or is passionate about.  So is the world of adults, and once Arnie crosses that threshold, there’s no turning back. He can bully just like those who bullied him and he can attack with the same amount of verbal venom as his overbearing mother.  His parents took for granted the sweet, subservient son they had and now he’s gone forever.

Sorry to go off on a tangent there, if you’ve read my reviews before, I’m sure you used to it. Christine isn’t all teenage horror melodrama, the film actually boasts a wicked, intelligent sense of humor that helps keep the energy level up and the proceedings a pleasure to watch. One of my favorite aspects of the film is Christine’s ability to play the most appropriate oldies possible in any given situation . someone tries breaking into her? “Keep A-Knockin’, but you can’t come in!” Little Richard begins wailing.  Someone tries to destroy Christine? “Rock and Roll is Here to Stay” by Danny and The Juniors starts blasting from the stereo system. It’s a clever and cool way to give Christine her own unique voice.

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Also, Christine features one of John Carpenter’s great, sparse synth scores and it’s used to great effect. The theme begins with a wind blowing, giving way to a high pitched whistle where one is immediately filled with a feeling of dread, growing anticipation and given the impression that there’s something truly sinister at work here. This whistling slowly gives way to a sweeter, more charming melody, but it’s played in dwindling, soft, somber tones. It’s the sound of childhood innocence dying away, a void opening up, where an adolescent is susceptible and easily corrupted. It’s a slow, yet blazingly brilliant score that’s both sad and frightening and fits Carpenter’s vision of Christine perfectly.

My biggest disappointment with Carpenter’s Christine is that Arnie’s parents vanish in the final third of the film.  After playing such a pivotal part in the majority of the film it’s a real disappointment that we never get to see them grieve or react to what happens to Arnie in the climax. It’s a real let down that these characters are built up through the film only to be completely removed in the final act and given no pay-off, no closure. Also, the death of Buddy Reperton seems a little anticlimactic. That guy got off easy, if you ask me.

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I know Christine was never really embraced by either John Carpenter or Stephen King fans,  but I’ve always felt this is one of the better King adaptations and among Carpenter’s most underrated films.  The visual of Christine barreling down the highway engulfed in flames is the stuff of nightmares, but the moments where Arnie is confronted by the onslaught of human cruelty is a deeply troubling depiction of the nightmare of reality. It’s a beautifully shot film with a flawless score, some astoundingly cool practical effects and a cast that all deliver performances above and beyond the call of duty. However,  Christine belongs to Keith Gordon. His performance at Arnie Cunningham is excellent and witnessing the character’s transformation is haunting and heart breaking.  Christine, the drop dead gorgeous, cherry red, Plymouth Fury is certainly the eye candy of the piece, but it’s all the human talent in front of and behind the camera that really make hitching a ride with Christine a trip though teenage Hell worth taking.

I give this sucker Four and a Half out of Five Dumpster Nuggets

Stay Trashy!

-Root

09
Nov
13

V/H/S 2: Cassette Carnage

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a Primal Root review

Anthology movies, like Creepshow, Tales from the Darkside, and VHS, are so often a mixed bag of the mediocre, boring and sometimes genuinely outstanding,  which is why I am happy to report the majority of VHS 2 is a pretty horrific and entertaining ride. That is, if you can make it past the the wrap around segments which are just as dull as they were in the original VHS, and the very first story entitled “Phase 1 Clinical Trials” which is a cure for insomnia, you will be okay because it all picks up from there.

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See, in “Phase 1 Clinical Trials” we are shown the story of a young man who loses and eye and gets it replaced with a…bionic one that not only allows him to see, but records everything to a VHS recorder I’m assuming the doctors implanted up his ass. Now, why a hi-tech procedure like this would end up having the recordings of it’s clinical trial dubbed to something as defunct and rarely used as VHS is beyond me, but at least the 15:9 aspect ratio kind of makes sense, I guess. Anyhoo, the new allows this guy to see dead people meandering around his posh house out in the suburbs. He is befucked by a young woman who explains what going on and exposes her lovely tits in the process. Things go from bad, the worse, to I;m going to gouge my bionic eye out with a three pronged kitchen utensil because I’ve seen a couple ghosts over the span of 12 hours.   It’s dull/ Even by my standards, I just could not muster up the effort necissary to be interested, that is, until that fleeting moment when the read head takes her top off. Otherwise, this entry is on par with the wrap around, it fails to engage and feels like it’s there to fill up time. Eye implants have been done (Tobe Hooper’s segment in Body Bags, that terrible movie with Jessica Alba that featured a truly inspired title, etc.) and this one was not an impressive entry into that sub-genre.

DO NOT DESPAIR! I nearly did, too. Trust me, things get better.

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Goddamn zombies. Those fucking things are everywhere. Prime time television to baby bibs and lunch boxes, those undead fucks are as inescapable as Mickey Mouse and Ronald McDonald. Enter “A Ride Through the PArk” the story of a young gentleman who goes on, you guessed it, a ride through the park. Things take an interesting turn when a bloody and bitten young woman collapses onto his bike trail screaming for help. Our fellow goes into help her and gets his neck chomped for his trouble. Soon he dies and transforms into a shambling, bloody, undead zombi himself and is able to record his sticky, gruesome, blood soaked escapades via the camera attached to his helmet. What makes this entry somewhat interesting is the use of POV, it’s expected, but this is the first time I have seen it happen from a flesh eating corpses perspective and it actually proves to be an interesting and darkly comical experience.  Our protagonist undead biker guy ends up devouring a couple who stop to help him out, transforming them into zombies in the process. Things hit a high note as soon as the zombies meander upon a little girls birthday party in the park. It’s one of the funniest and wildest moments in a franchise that has seemed overwhelmingly beholden to the morose and ugly. Sure, this is tragic, but my God, it’s fun watching parents scatter and children scream as they flee into the woods and mini-vans.  The zombies are doing their jobs and doing them well as the living  constantly fuck up, you know,m throwing baseball bats at creatures intent on stripping the flesh from your bones rather than hanging on to it, you know the type. Well, some of our undead biker’s humanity still remains and it leads to a sad and, again, guiltily comical finale. This entry has energy, creativity and is a hoot AND a holler. When I found out Eduardo Sanchez directed this puppy, it made me all the happier. The man was half the creative mind that brought us 1999’s “The Blair Witch Project” which helped blaze a trail for all the found footage horror film that followed. He’s also had a hand in numerous damn fine horror and sci-fi films over the past decade or so under the radar. It only makes sense that he would join The Collective who brought us he VHS franchise. Well done, sir!

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“Safe Haven” may just be my favorite short film in this batch. It tells the story of a a news crew doing an investigative piece about an Indonesian cult. The leader of this cult is small, wide eyes fellow who, it is implied, sleeps with all the little girls in his cult so that they may be “purified.” At the cult’s headquarters, which are located far off in the sticks, the news crew is thrust headlong into a very important ceremony for this cult. The tension swells as we the viewers know this is not going to end well for anyone. This segment keeps you on your toes to the very end, turns every convention on it’s head, and manages to actually be shocking and horrific in it’s Jim Jones styled story. It’s no surprise, seeing as it was directed by Gareth Evans, the gentleman who delivered one of the best, bobe crushing, martial arts films in sometime “The Raid: Redemption” in 2011. The man understand staging, suspense building and character payoff. “Safe Haven” is one very strong, stiff drink and  I don’t want to spoil a damn thing, you really need to see this short.

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And the final segment “Slumber Party Abduction” is another entry that manages to knock it right out of the park. This entry involves a step brother and sister spending a weekend together as their parents head out of town for a vacation. The older sister invites her arrogant boyfriend over and the younger brother invited his buds and all manner of hijinks ensue.  There are water balloons, interrupted sex acts and masturbation caught on doggie cam. It’s a ll pretty sophomoric and stupid as this kind of shit always is, but THANKFULLY there’s some insidious shit going down that the hardly register to the kids until it’s literally right outside their door. What we end up with a siege film caught on tape and once the chaos begins, the action and horror never lets up until the final, frenetic moment.  you know how the second tale was told from the zombie perspective? This tale is told almost entirely from “Doggie Cam” since the dog has had a waterproof camera attached to his head. The poor little dog, Tank, captures every last terrifying moment on tape and ends this episode on a brilliant, downbeat and heartbreaking note.  Jason Eisner takes advantage of his set up by presenting terror through the eyes of several helpless children and their pint sized pooch. The kids are very natural and easy to believe, and once the shit hits the fan, each loss is felt. Damn fine piece of horror film making.

And then the movie ends with the shitty, uninspired conclusioon to the wrap around story which involves murder, crab walking, a bloody, wagging tongue and a well times thumbs up.  Come on guys, give me a fucking break.

At the end of the day. VHS2 is an upgrade over the original anthology which almost felt like an excuse to expose an ample amount of female flesh rather than present any truly affecting horror stories. Three out of four stories are solid gold which is more than I could have ever hoped for. I was braced for  disappointment and found myself surprised and fairly impressed.  It cool to have a new anthology franchise out there, especially one to feature found footage, it seems like the possibilities are limitless and could produce more great horror stories and bring unappreciated filmmakers some well earned limelight.

3 1/2 out of 5 Dumpster Nuggets. Worth checking out!

Stay Trashy!

-Root

22
Dec
12

Silent Night: Dreaming of a Schlock Christmas

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a Primal Root review

If you know me, you know my stance on remakes. It’s not something I am incredibly fond of but I will always give them a fair shot as from time to time I find myself surprised and impressed. This is why I gave the remake of one of the best slasher films ever made, ‘Silent Night, Deadly Night’, a run for it’s money. Would it be as heartfelt, tragic, disturbing and filled with campy, inappropriate jet black humor as it’s original source material? I had my doubts. I took a deep breath, popped this sucker in my DVD player and braced for impact.

. Seeing as the movie has little to nothing in common with it’s source material outside of it’s organizing principle (Christmas) the killer’s disguise (Santa Claus) and two of the original film’s most notorious and popular set pieces this thing hardly registers as a remake. It’s more of a springboard for an altogether new slasher film.  ‘Silent Night’ adopts the narrative structure of Wes Craven’s ‘Scream’ franchise with a “Who-done-it?” premise and written in the often imitated style of one of cinema’s most acclaimed screenwriters, Rob Zombie. We are introduced to a crazed killer dressing up as Santa Claus in a urine soaked, filth caked bathroom as he puts together his Santa Claus mask and clips his finger nails, which I assumed at the time would be some clue to the killer’s identity and kept looking for some with well manicured nails. By the film;s end  realized this shit had nothing to do with anything, really.

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Our killer takes care of business, dispatching of a screaming woman in an adjoining bedroom and then unceremoniously electrocuting a man tied to a lawn chair with festive Christmas lights down in the basement. The guy shakes, screams, his eyes explode in geysers of blood…and our movie begins. Who were those people? Why should I care that they’re dead?  Next thing you know, it’s Christmas Eve morning and it turns out the guy who just got electrocuted in the previous scene was the local deputy and a young woman is called in to work his shift by the over confident small town America British crime Sheriff, Malcolm McDowell, who plays his character for laughs and it just doesn’t work.

As bitchy, spoiled little girls are butchered, men are stabbed in the testicles and large breasted, half naked women are sent slowly through wood chippers, this crack team of police investigators zero in on large people in Santa suits, this being Christmas Eve, the town is overrun by fellows in Santa suits and several of them are disgruntled assholes and violent offenders, so they have their work cut out for them. Why do they not bring in some outside help? Because the Sheriff wants to solve this on his own. Eh, stupid is as stupid does, I suppose.

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Just about every character we encounter is brutally slaughtered which I am sure will send us gore hounds off to bed with visions of woodchippered meaty chunks of nude photography models dancing in our heads.  There’s not much of a moral compass present in this new Christmas slasher, but I guess that’s just fine fo0r the approach they;re taking. It’s a full speed ahead train of pain where buying a ticket insures a perversely gruesome ride.  Mean spirited and full of self interested slime balls, ‘Silent Night’ is actually a fairly good modern Christmas horror, even if it pains me a little to admit it.

Jaime King as Deputy Sheriff Audrey Bradimore does a damn fine job of trying to give her character the gravity she deserves, but it’s  all for not, as ‘Silent Night’ has other fish to fry and body parts to hack off. The rest of the cast play this film as the hamfisted piece of garbage it is and yuk it up with a wink and a nudge as they await their paychecks. You can literally feel the apathy these performers bring to the film.

The film even cherry picks two of the original ”Silent Night, Deadly Night”s most memorable moments. you know, the one where loony bin Grandpa warns his Grandson that ‘Christmas Eve is the scariest damn night of the year!”, only this time Grandpa’s voice turns demonic and is delivering this warning to a character who only has one other scene…where he receives some obligatory Holy Night oral before having his head pulped by one well placed whack of an axe. Also, extracted from the original ‘Silent night, Deadly Night; is the notorious ‘Antler Kill’, which seems puzzlingly less effective here. Oh yeah, and there’s a reference to it being “Garbage Day”. WOKA, WOKA, WOKA!

This is Santa, reminding you to stay warm this holiday season.

All in all, ‘Silent Night’ delivers the sloppy, gooshy, gory goodies but severely lacks the underlying message and heart that made ‘Silent Night, Deadly Night’ such a memorable and dare I say, classic of the 80’s slasher period. As I have mentioned in The Primal Root’s Rotten Review for ‘Silent Night, Deadly Night;, it is a film about the cycle of violence, the lack of care for the mentally ill, and the failure of our system and religious fundamentalism.  Is it shocking? yes. Violent? Of course. Over the top? Most certainly! But it was all for a purpose as opposed to this remake which is happy to deliver nothing but carnage. Gore drenched kills and a town populated by halfwits, unapologetic assholes and sociopaths that serve no purpose other than axe fodder.

‘Silent Night’ is a bloody hot mess of a stocking stuffer.  If you can get passed the annoying, unlikable cast of characters, there’s a wonderful mix of nasty kills (including one little cuntface of a child!) and gratuitous Tits and Ass  for the old schooler purists.  It’s trashy to the core and about as dumb as a box of coal but just might make a good stocking stuffer for the gore hound on your Christmas list.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

18
Nov
12

Uncle Grumpyfuk Remembers ‘The Undertaker and His Pals’!

Uncle Grumpyfuk Remembers…
Sigh, hey there folks, yer ol’ pal Uncle Grumpyfuk sitting here, a bit in the doldrums today. As the grandmaster comedian Jerry Lewis would say, “Creativity is hard sometimes, it’s not an easy thing.” It leaves you speechless. Who says we have no great philosophers in this day and age? Well writing IS hard, it’s not an easy thing, it’s hard to put into words…heh-heh.
It’s like,  I don’t know… you know when you’re at the Friday Night Mud Rasslin’ Extravaganza and you eat a big bag of hot roasted peanuts,then later the next morning when you’re taking a squat and they’re slowly grinding and scraping their way out, you rub your inflamed anus clean, the minute peanut crumbs tearing the delicate white tissue,however there remains one tiny jagged little chunk that eludes the toilet paper like a vicious,sentient little sandspur maneuvering to avoid your attempts to remove it so that finally you have to take your fingernail and…what? What?! Oh,I see ‘that’s disgusting’ is it?  What, do you think you’re reading the blog of your favorite fairy from the Hallmark channel? This is TrashCinema folks, if you can’t take it then you can wad it up and stuff… sigh, hey, you know what? Fine, Uncle Grumpyfuk is in a fairly mellow mood today so fine, you want something more pleasant? Fine. Something perhaps with beautiful flowers or something? Fine, never let it be said Uncle Grumpyfuk can’t be flexible, at times.. somewhat…a little.
Fine then, ahem, you know what it’s like when you.. when you eat a bunch of fucking daffodils and later when you’re trying to crap them out and the putrid, partially digested petals are sticking to the walls of your rectum like adhesive tape and you finally have to use the tweezers because tp won’t touch them? Well that’s what creative writing is like. Eh? …well fuck you too! I tell you it makes perfect sense, to me anyway,you just don’t ‘know’. Yeah. Well then for the rest of your lives you remember that pretty little mental image I just planted in your minds whenever you see a pot of fucking daffodils! Yeah, ha-ha! I’m starting to feel better!
  Well, speaking of bouquets, we’re going to review an aromatic funnel plant of a film today, the bizarre and nonsensical “The Undertaker and His Pals” which reminds me of that old joke; “What did the corpse of General Grant say to the corpse of General Lee on the 100th anniversary of the Civil War?” …Nothing! Jesus weren’t you listening? They’re both dead! My God if i said ‘Simon says stick your dicks in your mouths’ you’d break your spines trying, it’s like talking to the army of fiddler crabs as you run in ever tightening circles around them, causing them to pile up on top of one another in their panic, until you light and throw the M80… but alas, I have no M80s, sigh. You people are soooo fucking lucky! (breathes in deeply)  Shit,I feel much better now!
  Ok, the film begins with a trio of motorcycles riding in circles at night. They stop at a phone booth, one looks up an address and off they go. As they approach an intersection at which they have a stop sign, they come to a complete stop, look to the left,the right, then the left again and then turn right and proceed,carefully observing the speed limit all the while. ..what the fuck? Grrr, well something is coming,I feel it… or it’s those tulip petals! Ha! Thiiink aboouut it! 😉
  They pull up to an apartment building,one goes through the front entrance and finds ‘Lamb’ on one mailbox,while the others park around back and climb up the fire escape,somehow knowing which room is the right one. Hmm. The camera suddenly focuses on a sweet pair of feminine feet – mm-mmm, shrimp cocktail! We pan slowly up a righteous pair of gams that are attached to a pretty hot blonde who is putting the final touches on her latest blacksploitation novel “The Ghost of Uncle Tom’s Choad”. “..and her squeals went unheard as the storm raged outside. The End “. She sighs and leans back into her chair, reaching into the drawer and lighting a reefer to celebrate when a knock upon the door stops her in mid-toke. Damn I hate that! She scrambles to stash when biker #1 at the door bursts in and the two who crept up the back fire escape climb in through the window. She backs away,unsure whether the three figures are, like, real, or whether it’s just the reefer when the front man grabs her. As they struggle the other two pull out really fakey plastic knives and front man throws her on them,and it’s really fake, I mean really. She dies and they cut off her leg then our hearts leap as we think ‘Frankenhooker”? but think ‘No way.’ just as quickly. The Sherman Williams Red No.3 Flat Finish flies everywhere and the bikers escape with their trophy, her leg! …oookay…well, why take just one?
          Next we’re outside the front of the local funeral parlour,and they give savings stamps, what a nice service! We see Mama Fat and Papa Skinny enter, Mama Fat blubbering away, heh, get it? The undertaker sees them enter,presses a tape player and the films crazy theme plays for a sec,then he switches to the standard funeral music, he escorts them to the coffin where Blondie Lamb lies,with her eyes open and looking at them! What a great idea! He then hits them with the bill and engages in a little mental torture when they refuse to pay. This guy is pretty cool.
  Now we’re at an office where a slick suit is totally dissing his hot-ass secretary, Miss Poultry (easy Grumpy, eeasy!). They get in a righteous set of wheels and head over to the Greasy Spoon where we meet Spike the waiter and Doc the cook,a friendly pair. The couple order the daily special, the ‘leg of Lamb’ and we finally get it! Oho, forcing unsuspecting patrons to engage in cannibalism! Suh-weet! One of those things we’ve all wanted to do in life, if only once. The couple devour the cooked human flesh with relish, literally, ‘goes great with blondes’, 😉 and they leave full and content, resolved to go back for more of that yummy Lamb. It is said you know, by members of that particular culinary fraternity that it is the sweetest of meats!
  Slick takes Miss Poultry home and takes off without even getting a quickie in, so inside she’s about to call Spot when she hears someone outside doing the worst cat imitation you’ve ever heard – your retarded sibling can do better…not really. She walks back to be confronted by the bikers who are also looking for the terrible cat-caller,they were going to see if he really did sound like a cat with broken knee-caps. Both parties glare at one another,convinced the other is the afore mentioned cat-caller so Miss Poultry goes on the offensive and comes at them like a fighting cock on Vivarin, however it’s 3 to 1 so she ends up being shish-ka-bobbed on the fence. Meh, it’s been done.
 The investigation the next morning yields little evidence, the portly officer in charge being more interested in lunch takes off and Slick turns to see our undertaker has appeared out of nowhere. Slick springs for the cheapest funeral for Miss Poultry,what a guy, then hits the Greasy Spoon for a good meal! Whew, that bitch had been getting way too clingy. What a break the ol’ cosmos had thrown him, yes sir!
          Back at the Spoon, Doc is in the back obsessively reading medical textbooks on surgery when the darkie delivery man shows up,and while poking around he discovers the identity of their ‘secret meat’ flavor hanging in the walkin cooler so Doc appropriately buries a cleaver in his noggin, and Spike,seeing what happened, makes a witty ‘dark meat’ remark to one of the customers about the chicken special. Har-har!
  Back at the funeral home Slick stops by to inspect the coffin he bought; a bloody shipping crate. He’s quite satisfied, not bad for $149.98! He then heads back to the office and damn, another hot blonde walks in, I mean yowza! Slick plays it cool and pays her to go get some din-din while he masturbates thinking about her elbows, mmmm. She moseys over to the Greasy Spoon, and Doc can’t contain his excitement another moment,deciding this is the day he practices his surgical skills on something other than kittens! “I tore her clothes off!” Spike informs him, “Ah that’s good thinking!” replies the Doc, what a wacky pair of knuckleheads! He slices her open and fondles her inards and she dies, big surprise. So they put her in the meat grinder and Spike changes the special of the day to hamburger. Woomp-waaaaah.
  That night the 3 bikers are back on the prowl and we see a hideous hag in a sauna, molting. As her two companions leave our leather-clad trio enter and quite rightfully beat the living dogshit out of her with a chain and we only wish we could take a swing ourselves. Ugh. The thress sub-stooges hack her up and as they’re leaving with a bloody bag of the choisest parts her two companions return to see them exiting out the window. One grabs a pistol and demonstrates the correct posture and body reactions for a hot female when shooting a handgun. LOL!!! Miraculously she manages to shoot the tag off of one of the bikes and the next morning Slick gets word from the fat cop that it belongs to the undertaker. Slick is shocked! He then finds that Doc and Spike are his accomplices! Here he wanted to thank the person responsible and it’s three guys he knew all along! Ain’t life crazy?
  Back at the Spoon, Doc and Spike are about to kill the undertaker for leaving evidence, but for some inexplicable reason Doc says something you can’t make out and he and Doc kill Spike then vamoose. Talk about temperamental!
  Slick shows up and pokes around, finding Spike has been enjoying an acid-bath until his bones are nice and shiny white! He almost shits his britches when a hand taps him on the back; it’s the twin sister of the blonde Doc and Spike turned into quarter pounders. What she’s doing in the basement of the restaurant is beyond me but this film makes no sense anyway so…  He takes her home, the two remaining bikers follow, he falls asleep before even getting any! Man this guy is slick! They take off the next morn, still followed by Doc and the undertaker,I guess they just sat on their bikes all night in the cold.
  A few miles later Slick’s car ‘runs out of gas’ and now we think we might see some action, a nipple at least, but he bails and leaves her out in Bum Fuk Egypt as bait. The two bikers come along and chase her around with their little rubber knives and it’s totally funny because she runs just like a girl. All of a sudden a produce truck comes barrelling around the bend and flattens Doc but good, and the undertaker scoots his ass out of there quick-like. Slick informs the blonde that her sister was killed by the trio and she seems about as upset as if he’d told her he drank a coke out of her fridge. She walks outside, looks up and there’s the undertaker waiting to shut her up permanently. There’s a lame chase scene using the same set of stairs a bunch of times from different angles and they end up on the roof where he backs her to the edge, lunges at her and falls over the ledge to his supposed death. Notice I said ‘supposed’. She walks downstairs but we see that the undertaker somehow reached 12 feet over and grabbed a railing as he fell and saved himself…right. Well we reached ‘absurd’ a while back so… Blondie goes back to the office where the cop is rubbing his chubby and as they talk the undertaker stalks up from behind a curtain. Just as his hand is ready to strike however the cop accidentally stabs him. …oi. The End! What a fine film!
 Now we have a unique ending, as the credits roll we see everyone who died in the film come back to life and smile and wave at the camera, assuring us they really weren’t killed, and here I was so worried for their families! ,,,Ah-ha-ha-ha!
  Well that wraps up another insightful and uppity-fuk review, enlightening your mind and refreshing your spirit. Yer ol’ pal Uncle Grumpyfuk is going to take a little hiatus and tackle a little comedic B-movie of some note that contains many questionable historical facts and references. Yes Uncle Grumpyfuk is going to review “Roots” …and ah, my M80s just arrived!
05
Nov
12

Uncle Grumpyfuk Remembers ‘Blood Feast’ (1963)

Unkce Grumpyfuk Remembers…

..Ugh..BUURRRPPP! …oh mighty Crom whisk away my poor hungover soul to thy grim grey mountain abode or let me find that damn pill bottle full of cricket legs! Urp,whew, yer ol’ pal Uncle Grumpyfuk comin’ atcha with some serious peach-fuzz on the brain this ..afternoon, shit. Me and a couple of buddies ..rather, a couple of buddies and I, ahem, had some unusually good fortune last night ..and earlier this morning, wait, what time is it? Uh, nevermind..time is…(eyes cross)..uh, give me a few minutes folks. I know you’ve been there. Buuurrp!

  I and my buddy Tangletoe and a fucking crazyass Irish ginger buddy of his…I’ll remember his name in a minute, were sitting in Tangle’s old truck hammering ‘fuckuppers’- Old Ezra Sour Mash Whiskey, Mountain Dew and 14 Sugar Pops -yep the cereal, crushed and stirred in, and a dash of tobasco. Talk about a drink that’ll put fire in your belly and get you going like a handfull of speed! We were listening to the radio and lo and behold, that the local boring shitty rock station was having a ‘beach party’ down at Lake Fornication today at noon so we figured fuck it, let’s pop some more Valium, head down there early and start the party ..13 hours ahead of time! Yee-haw!
  We found our way to the landing around midnight and what did our eyes behold but a party tent already set up under which lay 10 kegs of cold beer and 12 bushels of raw oysters, on ice, and a wasted hippy couple standing around a nice bonfire drinking beer and eating oysters,motioning for us to join the party, aaaand we did..post haste! Ugh, buurp. It was surreal, the radio station had obviously set everything up the night before so they wouldn’t have to in the morning and the braindead dj’s didn’t have the sense to leave someone to guard it! Deerrp! ..and to think those people can drive..and vote! Scary.
  Anyway the hippies left after about an hour or so, so the three of us stood there in front of a roaring fire,drinking and chowing down, having truly found our personal Shangri-la. A little while later,no idea how long, heh, we hear a distant mechanical growl and soon around 8-10 bikers and their old ladies roared up. We encouraged them to join us drinking free beer and eating free oysters,they finally caved after about .12 seconds and the ‘beach party’ was awn! So we sat there for several hours drinking and eating and trading stories of getting busted and wasted, of smashing rival gang members’ heads in with bricks and collecting comic books. At one point one of them saw me drooling at his skanky old lady’s tits so he let me screw her from behind for my 12.00 pocket knife. Let me tell you, whoever says that bikers aren’t good people has never gotten wasted with them and screwed one of their old ladies doggie-style! Hell, she even let Tangletoe and Sanchez,that’s it! Sanchez! …let Tangle and Sanchez have a go just because they were standing there watching! That’s a real woman for you, by cracky!
  Well I guess it was close to 6:00 AM when Tangle and I finally left. Sanchez stayed around for more and the bikers hadn’t slowed down a hair either! When we pulled out of there 2 kegs were empty and a third had been tapped, and almost 4 bushells of oysters had magically disappeared. It was amazing, in over 6 hours not one other person had come by, no cops, no one from the radio station, no other drunken partiers, no one. Shangri-la folks, seriously! After we got home I staggered down the street towards my duplex but felt those oysters wanting to see the light of day again, so, I lurched over to a hated neighbor’s Volvo and puked in the open window all over her upholstery. Ha-ha-ha! We wanted to listen to the radio station this morning to see if they mentioned going out and finding they’d missed their own party, but we totally passed out! Ha! ***
   Today my dear fiends, Uncle Grumpyfuk is proud, nay, honored and humbled to review a pivital film in trash cinema history. This is a film that horrified audiences and changed the art of film forever more..for the better! Fuckin’ay! I speak of one, some say the greatest of the Unholy Trilogy of the legendary Herschell Gordon Lewis, starring our favorite Playboy centerfold Connie Mason! Yes Mrs. Freemont it is exciting! Ha-ha-ha! …ah but I get ahead of myself. Yes my friends, I speak of the drive-in classic, the one and only, “Bloodfeast”! Yes, yes …(over 7 minutes of thunderous applause erupts, finally the din quiets a bit).. yes, thank you, I know, my genitals are covered with anticipatory sweat too. I shall strive to do my very best to honor the King of Gore and one of his masterpieces – I never have been able to decide whether I think this or 2000 Maniacs is better…AND Gruesome Twosome…I-I don’t know… I just love them all so much! (applause) Yes,we all do. Thank you, thank you.
  The film opens with a tense kettle drum beat and we see none other than Barbara Handler, daughter of the creator of the Barbie Doll, who named it after her! It’s her, I’m totally serious. I swear on your children’s’ future graves it’s her! ..Well ok it’s not her, but just look at’er! She’s the spit and image! You just want to pull her head off and give it to the family dog and pour lighter fluid on her body and set it ablaze! Damn!
  Anyway she turns on the radio as a report of ‘another murder’, that a girl was found ‘brutally mutilated’ and that all females should stay in after dark. The news ends and she strips her clothes off – tasty, and gets into a bubblebath. Now that is a great opening to any film, regardless of genre. She’s a scrub-dub-dubbin’ away, getting Miss Puss all nice and clean when she’s shocked to look up and see the psychotic eyes and dashing features of the protagonist of the film, one of your favorite actors, and mine; Mal Arnold! Yaaay! .. STAND AND APPLAUD you pisswipes!!! This man is the walking breathing definition of a cult star! ..well he’s no longer walking or breathing since he croaked but seriously you should applaud, I mean fuck. (more applause) Thank you,thank you.
  He stabs Barbara in the eye and begins hacking away with a carving knife and smiles proudly at his excellent knife-work, holding up a nice bloody giblet so we can see it real good- what a considerate gesture. He has a little more fun then chops off her leg for a keepsake perhaps? ..or possibly a future piece of folk art. Suddenly the screen is filled with the image of a cheap sphinx and pyramid replica,in front of a hotel in my own home state of Florida,where this film was shot! Yaaaay! ..and the credits roll. Thank you,thank you.
  Next we find ourselves down at the pigpen in the homicide bureau chief’s office. Inside he and one of his officers, Pete, played by another “2000 Maniacs” alumni, Connie’s companion Thomas Wood – the two of whom later became married in real life for many happy years; Tom you are the fucking man! – are engaging in some riveting dialogue concerning the murdered women’s’  mutilated states, concluding that a psychological killer just might be involved. Gee, ya think?
  Now we find ourselves outside Fuad Ramses Exotic Catering where our hero Mal, or Fuad runs a grocery/catering operation. In walks a ditzy rich blonde wearing a baby harp seal around her neck and a huge flowery hat any fat old black woman would be proud to wear to church’. She approaches the counter and begins to introduce herself as Mrs Freemont when her voice is cut off by Fuad’s intense,cobra-like gaze that leaves the air-headed bird mesmerized for a short spell, such is his irresistible charisma! At this point I have to mention Mal’s hair and eyebrows; they’re more thickly matted than a sloth’s fur, sans the vermin and disease, and although they appear to be grey, his hair and eyebrows blend in with everything in the background that’s blue. Tre chic Mal! How about it folks? (applause) Thank you, thank you.
  Mrs. Freemont explains that she wishes to throw a surprise party for her daughter, something different and unusual. “What do you consider to be unusual Mrs. Freemont?” inquires Fuad. She doesn’t know of course, stupid bitch, so he delivers the classic line “Have you ever had, an EGYPTIAN FEAST?” and we get a full-on shot of Mal’s dynamic peepers, whoa. She explains her daughter is into ancient Egyptian crap and that it sounded perfect. Fuad gets payment first, then hypnotizes her again, commanding her to give him a sloppy blowjob,then ejaculates on the back of her expensive coat, so that after she left everyone pointed at the gargantuan load dripping down her back like the fucking Blob’s albino offspring,with the dingy ditz blissfully unaware. Fuad you dog-you! Am I right folks? (applause) Thank you,thank you.
  As she leaves he slinks to the back of the store, through a back door to a room where he prays to an incredibly cheesy idol of his chosen goddess Ishtar, a department store mannequin, painted with cheap make-up and sporting the most dubious expression as if she just really isn’t sure about this guy and his goings-on.
  Outside Connie reads the headlines of the daily paper, “Legs Cut Off!” Heh, we’re way ahead of them aren’t we folks? The baffled cops are still pissed and clueless.
  After night-time has set in we see a couple of young lovers laying on the beach sucking face. She’s nervous but Tony really wants some snatcheroosky,so they begin rutting when she looks up and screams. Tony was confused; he hadn’t even mentioned trying anal yet! Wtf! Then he gets a split second glance of Fuad looming over him, machete raised and ready before Fuad smashed him good, then repeats with her. He cuts off the top of her skull for a really neat cereal bowl and takes her brains to boot! ..um, I don’t mean to boot as in kick it around in the dirt, I mean,you know, ‘in addition to’…just clarifying there. Anyway the camera shows some excellent shots of her ‘Jane Mansfield Look’ and concludes by showing some blood and bloody skull fragments in the sand, and about a foot-and a-half away is a boa constrictor being pulled out of camera range by an unseen hand. ..oookay.
  The cops arrive and revive Tony who blubbers and carries on like a foreign woman, totally unable to give them any pertinent information. The performance by the actor portraying Tony is bad on a magnificant scale, Bravo,bravo- actor who played Tony! ..what’s his name? Hell I don’t know, there’s the remote,you rewind it and look it up! Shit, lazy bastards.
  Back at the station the girl’s parents are carrying on like foreign women, at least the mother is, in a truly horrendous performance. All the cops learn is that she belonged to a book club.
  The screen goes red and we see Fuad’s hand placing some meat into a bloody pot and then he gives it a stir. Yummy! ..oooh Uncle Fuad when’s it gonna be ready? I’ze so hungry! Haw-haw-haw! What a knucklehead!
     Next we’re outside the hotel again,I mean apartment building just in time to see a sweet convertible pull up and out climb Abe Vigoda and Doris Day – it’s them I swear! 😉 – four sheets to the wind drunk. They manage to make it upstairs to her apartment door, she ‘gets a headache’, so he heads back down to the car and ends up falling asleep spanking his monkey. Two hours later the police arrive to find him, slimy cock still in hand, snoring away. Take it from yer Uncle, that is SO embarrassing!..though my paw thought it was hilarious. Hmph!
   Well while Abe is slappin’ the sloth who appears peeping around the corner? Yeppers, that devil-may-care kinda guy, our Fuad, up to his shenanegans. He knocks and Doris opens the door, thinking it’s Abe with more booze and one of the most shocking scenes in film history,up to that point anyway, takes place. Fuad reaches into Doris’ mouth and rips out her tongue and once again generously holds it up for our inspection. It’s every bit as awesome as it sounds. It’s said that when Cecil B. DeMille viewed that scene he puked his guts out; talk about a compliment! Damn! Actually it was a sheep’s tongue,but that’s irrelevant, and when Fuad held it up for those 60’s audiences to see they fucking freaked out! I know,you’re envious too, it must have been pure bliss.
  The next scene is priceless. Connie and her mom are at home talking in the living room, discussing the upcoming surprise party and it’s easy to see that Connie is reading all of her lines off of cue cards placed around the room. ” I just shudder when I think about that butcher… that maniac,butchering all of those girls!” That’s a keeper there boys! What a woman,whew, down boy.
  That evening Connie and the cop, we’ll call him Maxwell Notsosmart, attend a lecture on ancient Egypt,the orator’s subject being ancient cults, namely the cult of Ishtar; priestesses, virgins, sacrifices, orgies, dirty rabble – some bloody fun times back then but talk about hazing, geez! As he speaks we get a flashback from those ancient times, of an ancient high priest, who turns out to be our own Mal Arnold again,showing his versatility by playing multiple roles! Thank you,thank you. A female sacrifice lays prostrate on the altar, Mal the high priest offers the sacrifice to Ishtar and places the handle of a plastic knife on her chest! He then quickly pulls it away and attaches a plastic blade with red paint on it and cuts out the girls bloody heart! Barbaric! Oh, and the boa constrictor is back hanging around the scene …but that’s why they call them the good old days folks. Now you point a fucking bb gun at someone’s ass and the feds put the whole fucking nation on magenta alert and declare martial law!
 After the lecture Connie and Maxwell go a-parking. Yay-yuh! He leans back and relaxes while she goes to town on that pole, slobber flying everywhere,showing how she got that Playboy gig! 😉 Heff you suck so badly..you fucking boss!!! Suddenly a radio bulletin interupts the suckfest and announces that another mutilated chick was found somewhere,or something. Pressed for time Maxwell says ‘fuck it’, grabs two handfulls of that golden hair,wraps it around his throbbing manhood and jerks off on top of her head. They teach’em that in cop school. It’s ok, Connie was totally up for it.
  Back at the station Chief tells Maxwell that the girl is still alive though her face looks like she made out with a weed eater. They race to the hospital and after the doctor tells them not to get her excited,they punch her in the stomach and slap her a few times to wake her up and answer a few questions. She tells them it was a wild eyed, wild looking old man who said ‘it was for Eetar, Eetar!’, so they put out an APB for Christopher Lloyd. Then she croaks and it’s really,really funny. I mean it’s a film so of course it’s funny when someone dies,but when she exhales her last breath and falls down,so much dogfood, there’s a little ‘Womp!’ from a trombone,signalling that she’s gone. It’s downright hysterical!
 You know,one thinks sometimes what we’d do differently had we created the universe ourselves, like give sea turtles the ability to breathe fire, or shrink all of the assholes to 4″ in height,to be preyed upon by insects and frogs, give eternal life to the members of Motorhead,that type of thing. It really is an ingenius idea,having it so whenever someone dies, have a little fart-like trombone sound effect signify that life has passed from the mortal shell. ‘Womp.’ “Well,he’s gone..heh-heh-heh.” That would be so fucking funny!
  At the grocery store Fuad opens a letter; an order from Connie for his book, “Ancient Weird Religious Rights”, otherwise known at the AA Handbook, a copy of which each victim has owned. Hmm. He calls and realizes Connie is Mrs. Freemont’s daughter,for whom he’s preparing the banquet! It seems he thinks the feast and sacrifice will bring Ishtar back to life. You never know, Uncle Grumpyfuk says it’s worth a try! Things are just going too well for him and his sly demeanor as he hangs up the phone is truly Oscar worthy. Notice the hair blending in with the blue items behind it? So cool, isn’t it folks? Mal Arnold ladies and gentlemen. (applause) Thank you, thank you.
  Connie and her friends are over at her house enjoying her swimming pool and Connie, now get this, is reading a book! I shit you not. She looks down and reads a page then laughs and it’s like her skull is made of rice paper and we can see her very thoughts. “Words are funny! ..and when you put them together they mean things!” Yep, a real keeper- lucky-ass Maxwell! As she’s looking at the pictures we see the shadow of a menacing hand float over her  body,but when she looks she sees nothing. When we look we see Fuad, right over there, climbing slowly and clumsily over the wall then limping away slowly. He’s like,right there. A keeper folks.
  One of her friends decides to go shopping at Xmart to see if there are any larger dildos than her own available (there aren’t). Connie makes sure to warn her to about not getting her head bashed in by the killer-at-large,but she gets it mixed up and as she’s walking down the sidewalk, Fuad sneaks up behind her in broad daylight, and bashes her head in with a rock. Her reaction when hit is as hilarious as watching Mal try to pick her lard-ass up and carry her off to the crock-pot! That’s how you injure your back by the way folks, that is what henchmen are for,for goodness sake, to do the heavy lifting! Fuad is a ‘One Wolf’ kinda guy though so, no-go. His really fakey limp doesn’t help.
The cops can’t find Lloyd. Connie invites Maxwell to her mom’s feast of Ishtar, he secretly hopes for the six days of rapine and gluttony but knows better. Dern it.
  Fuad is adding more meat to the pot, wink, and gives Connie’s friend a good whipping with the ol’ cat’o nine tails until acheiving a disappointing orgasm. (applause) Thank you, thank you.
  Maxwell sits at his desk at the office, repeating “Eetar, Ishtar, Eetar, Ishtar…”, he thinks it would make a pretty cool song! After a few he and Chief get hungry so they head over to Fuad’s for some grub, arriving just after Fuad left with the ‘feast’. They go in and find Connie’s friend and it looks like the makeup guy sat there and dripped fake blood over every inch of her body,very cool. Realizing they’re too late,they smell the delicious aroma from Fuad’s cooking and head over to the Freemont residence,stomachs a-growling!
  Fuad has arrived already and with great flourish announces that the banquet is about to begin, and requests that Connie assist him in the kitchen. If all goes well Fuad thinks, he can perform the sacrifice and still get home in time for ‘F-Troop’ reruns! Connie can’t remember to do anything right so by the time Fuad finally gets her in position in comes mom just in time to prevent him from bringing to life the great goddess Ishtar! Damn it I wanted to see if that was going to work! Stupid bitch. The cops arrive, tell everyone that Fuad is the killer, that Connie’s friend was the main course and Mrs Freemont wisely sums it up; “Well I guess we’ll have to have hamburger for dinner!” – extra cheese on mine please!
  Fuad takes off with the cops hot on his tail, through the neighborhood, across the nearby landfill, I bet it smelled nice filming on that location! Fuad manages to reach a trash truck that’s just leaving and jumps in the back,only to be crushed to death by the merciless jaws of the trash compactor. It’s a tragic and sombre moment. Maxwell then explains to Chief in lengthy, unnecessary detail how he brilliantly realized that Eetar and Ishtar sounded similar! The Chief doesn’t look too bright though so perhaps it was necessary to draw it all out for him. The End. (thunderous applause erupts and continues for several minutes) Thank you, thank you.
  Well that wraps it up folks, a true classic that is now 50 years old, hard to believe, and it still holds it’s own – the sign of a true masterpiece. Uncle Grumpyfuk hopes you vermin have enjoyed this one,I endeavored to do Herschell Gordon Lewis’ masterpiece justice, I pray to Crom I have succeeded, so this is yer ol’ pal Uncle Grumpyfuk signin’ off until next time!

Connie Mason: You Read About Her in Playboy!

24
Aug
12

Wicked Stepmother: Low Rent Surrealism

a Primal Root written review

I’ve never seen a movie like it. That’s probably the most accurate critique I can give Larry Cohen’s jaw-droppingly bizarre and nonsensical 1989 supernatural comedy opus, ‘Wicked Stepmother’.  A forgotten oddity of the VHS era,  probably best known for containing Hollywood empress Bette Davis in her final screen performance, ‘Wicked Stepmother’ has got to be some kind of hallucinatory cinematic comedy milestone. Who knows if Cohen & co intended this movie to be such a rapid-fire array of awkward moments, dumbfounding performances and cheesy effects. All I know is that it all comes together as an if not totally enjoyable film, certainly an outlandishly botched witch’s brew movie delight. One thing that may be said with total confidence for ‘Wicked Stepmother’, you will never, EVER see another like it.

This fiasco begins with a police investigation led by TV’s Tom Bosley who you may remember from ‘Happy Days’ (RIP) or if your grandparents were fans of the ‘Father Dowling Mysteries’.  His mission? To locate an evil witch with a penchant for marrying her way into families and using her powers to make them unimaginably wealthy before robbing them blind, shrinking them to the size of plastic army men, and stashing them in shoe boxes under the bed.  It sure seems like a waste of time for a witch of such immense power. There’s just gotta be a more effective way to maintain a steady cash flow.

The witch in question is Miranda Pierpoint, played by the legendary Bette Davis (RIP) putting forth a stiff monotone and (we can only assume) unintentionally  disturbing performance. Miranda has just gotten hitched to an elderly widower, Sam  (played by the late, great character actor Lionel Stander with that unmistakably gravely voice). In one of my favorite sight gags of the movie, we see images of Sam’s first wife on his night stand.  Low and behold, it is Joan Crawford,  Bette Davis’ long time rival.

The new marriage comes as a shock to his adult daughter, hyper-allergenic and moderate psychopath, Jenny (Colleen Camp, who should win some kind of lifetime achievement award for this one, single cringe-inducingly campy performance).  Her husband Steve (David ‘I’ve gotta’ Rasche, desperately try to keep up with Colleen’s camp) though surprised by the sudden change in homestead seems to be taking things well, and attempts to mediate between his wife’s control freakery and his new chimney stack of a mother-in-law.  Their son Mike (Shawn Donahue, who would play his final role the next year in 1990’s immortal classic, ‘The Willies’) is appropriately willful and mainly just refuses to refer to the new addition ‘grandma’.

To Jenny’s fury, Miranda smokes more than the entire cast of Mad Men, combined, in the families’ WASPy digs. She also cooks, eats, and tempts the family with nothing but grilled meats despite Jenny’s insistence in that everyone bow to the nutritional excellence of her broccoli souffle. Although Steve is clearly inclined to give into Miranda’s politically-incorrect ways, Jenny throws her hubby one of her well-practiced psycho glares and puts the guy back in his place. He hunches over the dining room table to choke down his helping of lettuce and oatmeal while thinking about his genitals and how nice a home Jenny’s made for them in her handbag. Miranda also has a cat which unlocks an avalanche of comedic potential as Jenny is…get this…ALLERGIC to cats!  So she spends much of the movie sneezing at inopportune moments and standing around sniffling and delivering her lines with her stuffed up, mongoloid voice. Really. It is a laugh riot. Yeah.

However, my favorite scene in this mayhem shows up early as young Michael is at a beach, unchaperoned, watching some coeds in bikinis bounce & bop around via a game of volleyball.  Earlier, Michael has told Melinda he’d never call her “Grandma”, that she can, basically, burn in hell, then proved himself the deeply cool thug he is by popping the collar on his jean jacket and walking away. Apparently he was strutting his way to the beach where his requests to join in the volleyball game were denied.  However, as luck would have it, the lovely young witch Priscilla (played byTia Carrera’s sister, Barbara! SHWING!) shows up, complete with beflowered sun hat and black veil and winks at Michael, which apparently bestowed upon him with the power to do front flips over the volleyball net. For what purpose? Who knows. It impresses no one in the game and even seems to piss off the more hyper-hormonal boys of the pack. And yet, poor little 12 year old Michael has caught the eye & libido of a twenty something beach bunny. Unfortunately, as often happens at movie beaches,  two buff, blonde dickweeds start kicking sand in Michael’s face while he’s chatting up his new dish.  Again, the young lad is in luck as Priscilla gives him yet another power of Filipino Flip fighting through which Michael hops around cracking bimbo dude skulls.  All of this results in a scene of total prepubescent wish fulfillment, the busty beach bunny takes off her modest shirt to reveal her ample cleavage and offers herself up to the young man with the unmistakable innuendo, “Come here, I’m gonna show you something…” A goofy grin spreads across Michael’s mug as she leads him off to rock the freckles off his face.

The kind of Wicked Stepmother all young boys dream of.

It was around this moment I began to wonder just who was the projected market for this film? It’s a wicked stepmother, fairy tale kiddie charm, sure, but the focus is primarily on adult relationships. In fact, Michael is led off to be statutorily raped, and that’s pretty the last we see of the kid with the exception of him showing up for group shots  lasting mere seconds in the final scene. This thing’s obviously not quite for youngins… but the humor is on a pretty even keel for adolescents despite it meandering between adult issues (i.e. marriage difficulties & geriatric homicide) and it’s unchecked childish hokeyness.  99.9 % of the films run time is spent dealing with figuring out how to murder an elderly woman and a married man fantasizing about/having adulterous sex with Tia Carrere’s sister while a writhing cat tail wags around out of her pooper, growing vines in the yard against an painfully-obvious blue screen under the guise of “decorating for the holidays”, answering trivia questions on game shows, and figuring out a way to write Bette Davis out of the movie since she walked off set about two days into production.  The leave was publicly attributed to her disgust with the script, though it was later stated that the true cause was her deteriorating health.

How do they write her out, you ask? Remember Priscilla? Well, she and Miranda apparently share the body of a black cat. But, see, both spirits can’t cohabit in one body at the same time. “There’s no room for two people in one cat!” a witch academy instructor exclaims revealing this terrible piece of plotting. So,  after Miranda’s 11 minutes or so of screen time are up, she vanishes to be replaced by Priscilla.  Don’t fret, gang, the cat Miranda inhabits also smokes as much as she did, so it’s like she never left! In fact, one of the most bizarre moments of the entire film are cutaways to a black cat hand puppet paws holding cigarettes up to it’s little feline mouth and puffing away, it’s unnaturally large, bugged out yellow eyes and dilated pupils nervously darting around in their sockets.

Eventually the detective character shows back up at a clandestine witch class where Jenny also happens to be attending so she can look for answers as to how to get rid of Miranda/Priscilla for good. Priscilla learns a couple words in Latin and is ready to take on Priscilla in head to head in the ultimate blue screen combat! It’s a breathtaking sequence that pulls no punches in the bargain basement action and effects arena.   Will Jenny be able to banish the money hungry witches from her home? Or will her family end up pint-sized, broke, and shoe-boxed? To be honest, I was too busy laughing my ass off to care.

The bottom line is that ‘Wicked Stepmother’ is one of those films that must be seen to be truly understood. It’s terrible. I mean, this thing is bad. This sucker is Samurai Cop, Troll 2 level bad. But it is still ridiculously entertaining. The intended jokes all fall flat on their faces, but it is totally made up for with unintentional hilarity. It’s like some kind of surrealist fever dream that just keeps getting more absurd and illogical as it progresses. None of it makes a lick of sense and there are an abundance of moments that will leave you wondering if you just actually witnessed what you did.  Better Davis’ performance alone make up for the absurdity of the opening portion of the film.  She is never without a cigarette in her hand and recites her dialog in the emotionless drawl of a late 60’s TV robot.  Once Bette departs the film, the hammy acting, and cheese ball effects really become the stars of the show and lift this sucker up onto another plateau of Trash Cinema altogether.

I may have said too much already. I don’t want to spoil this sucker for you. But when I look back lovingly upon ‘Wicked Stepmother’,  no words can really do this acid trip of a film justice.  I’m not sure if exactly if it’s my strong palette for trash that allowed me to enjoy this thing or if it can be experienced by others and be loved just as thoroughly. I was not expecting myself to end up with the affection I now have for this piece of wack-o film making. Please, if you haven’t seen it, do so. And if you have, please, share your thoughts with us here at The Trash Cinema Collective.  Again, in the annals of cinema, there is nothing like ‘Wicked Stepmother’.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

11
May
12

Gorgasm: The Ultimate Climax

a Primal Root review

Over the course of my lifetime I’ve come to realize a man happens upon many milestones. Moments in this life that stand out above all others as life altering.  Experiences that leave you stunned, silent, and with the deep realization that you are a changed man and you…will never be the same again.  I had one such moment my sophomore year of high school when I trekked to Video 21 and, after an exhaustive blind search of the Cult section,  I emerged to head to the check out counter with a trio of films that were about to not only solidify my adoration for all things sleazy, cheap, low budget and trashy, but would also cast my love of this most despised of genres in bronze ensuring my love would last a lifetime.

Sorry, I realize that last part sounds like an add for Precious Moments Baby Shoe Bronzing. Stick with me.

I took home a trilogy of films written, produced and directed by Hugh Gallagher that I have grown to dub “The Gore Trilogy.” It’s a series of three woefully  inept, shot on video horror films that have no thematic connection besides the talent behind the camera and their creative penchant for finding new ways to use the word “Gore” in all their titles.  These films are Gorgasm (1990), Gorotica (1993) and Gore Whore (1994).

In the Trial of The Primal Root vs. Misspent Youth, your honor, may we enter into evidence Exhibit A.

Let it be stated, I had no idea what exactly I was walking into with this trio of grainy, poorly made,  laughably bad, sexually freakish videos, but I believe they are part of what shaped me into the demented Trash Cinema lover that I am today.  Now, well over a decade later, I feel it is time to once again take a look at Hugh Gallagher’s  video legacy and share the slimy, mind boggling oddities that make up “The Gore Trilogy”.

First up, Hugh’s directorial debut, the aptly named “Gorgasm: The Ultimate Climax”.

Our hero, ladies and gentlemen!

Our film begins with the rarest of horror movie standards, the opening soliloquies! Which has no real bearing on the story at hand other than introducing us to our eternally greasy, bug eyed, sports coat donning hero,  Chase played by Rik Billock, who I was shocked to learn has a rather impressive filmography that includes parts in films like George Romero’s Stephen King adaptation “The Dark Half” and the late Bill Hinzman’s “Flesheater”.  He shares such soul searching deep thoughts as “Religion prepares us for death. Why didn’t anyone prepare me for life?” from behind a lit cigarette, and gets so damned into his little diatribe that he nearly busts out into community theater style tears by monologue’s end.  Again, this is about a five minute spoken word performance right at the beginning of the movie that has nothing to do with ANYTHING that follows. Now this is how you reel an audience in!

Okay, well, maybe the opening title card is a better was to make sure your audience stays in their seat.

Oh man! they just gave away the whole plot!

Soon enough we are introduced to homicidal call girl and power tool enthusiast, Tara, brought to ever-loving life by fully stacked actress, Gabriela, who only has three other films to her credit after her leading role in “Gorgasm” and two of them reference anal penetration in their titles. Basically,  Tara is a high priced call girl who spreads her message through personal ads in scuzzy adult magazines offering “Gorgasm: The Ultimate Climax”.  What service does she provide, you ask? Well, for every dime you have, Tara will come over, tie you up, spin in circles while wearing cheesy Spencer’s Gifts style lingerie. She will then reveal her gargantuan breasts for you to ogle before she brutally murders you!

In fact, our first scene in the film proper is one such business transaction as she spins about, in what looks to be my Grandmother’s kitchen circa 1985, in front of a hairy, sweaty man bound and gagged to a lovely antique dining room table. Tara kicks it up a notch as she begins blasting her cassette tape of the obscure, high energy tune, “Sex Toy”, pops her melons out of the chute and cuts off her neglige with an apparently very dull butcher knife.  Her customer doesn’t seem to mind.

I feel good about myself!

He doesn’t even seem to mind when she begins slicing into his midsection with that big knife of hers, and when I say he doesn’t mind, I mean he doesn’t even flinch as the blade draws large drips of blood with each slash across the man’s chest and gratuitous beer belly.  In all honesty, the captive, paying client looks almost bored at this point. Shit, he doesn’t even register a reaction when Tara eventually approaches from behind,  drapes her ample rack around his bright red neck, like one of those Air Mall stress pillow deal, before hacking his jugular wide open! The fella’s head tips forward and that’s it! Gone! Scianora!  Obviously, money well spent.

Detective Chase, who works in a police station that was apparently built by the wood paneling commission of Illinois, is introduced to us officially as the bottom of the barrel desk dwelling detective no one wants to actually put on a case. Seems he’s more valuable to the force as a paperwork drone.  To his amazement, Sarge (played by mulleted and minimalist actress Paula Hendrix in her one and only screen credit) brings the case involving the throat slashing incident to his desk and asks him to take the lead! Chase is overjoyed until he’s informed it’s only until Detective Sanchez recovers from a cold or something. What I’m saying is that this is temporary. But this doesn’t stop chase from giving the case everything he’s got!

I’d be remiss if I didn’t make mention of the strange little subplot starring filmmaker Hugh Gallagher’s wife, Paula Gallagher, as Nicole, a woman whose boyfriend wants her to beat him up and sodomize him. She calls him a pervert, breaks up with him, and then plants her knee into his man bits giving him what he probably wanted, anyway. As he drops to the floor sobbing and nursing his jollies, she rushes out the door and back to work at the local Winn-Dixie where she seeks solace in co-worker and possible crypt keeper, Connie (Debbie Patterson). Nicole is convinced by Connie that she might just like kicking the crap out of her weasel of a boyfriend and by the time Nicole returns home she is decked out head to toe in fetish gear looking to enter her fellas fantasy kingdom.

Nicole gets a lesson in love at the local Winn-Dixie supermarket. They are the self proclaimed “Beef People”, after all.

Only she is too late! Her boyfriend has called up Tara and her Gorgasmic services which Nicole walks in on just in time to catch Tara in bed with her man and tearing meaty chunks out of his throat with an industrial weed whacker (!) Now, Nicole could have totally escaped this scenario as Tara is so caught up in her work she doesn’t even notice the near-naked, towering, leathery skinned blonde woman who just walked into the room. Sadly, Nicole trips over the weed whacker chord thereby alerting Tara to her presence.  It is only after a very close call with the Tara and her weed whacker of death in the bathroom that Nicole goes for the escape only to trip over her super woman stilettos and sealing her fate. Tara gets down to the nitty gritty and starts choking a bitch.  What really makes this scene work is how Tara tells Nicole how she gets paid “good money” to do this and NOT TO WORRY! “I won’t charge you for this.” This plot thread is worth mentioning because it is never brought up again. The crime scene is never discovered and no one even talks about it. Then again, you look at the police force we’re dealing with, and it’s hard to believe that this is a plot hole.

The Porn Industries’ Seedy Underbelly Welcomes You! In fact, this guy might be my favorite character in the whole movie. No lie.

Chase’s investigation takes him to the seedy underbelly of the porn industry in Hamel Illinois as the detective follows leads to understocked adult stores for lengthy montages of his shopping spree, grotesque XXX film producers who seem to have some form of Downs Syndrome intermingling with  Tourettes, and even to the blood-drenched aftermath of one of Tara’s “Gorgasm” get togethers. One of the better ones, too! This is the aftermath of her most Jigsaw-esque slaying which involved a rope attached to a garage door opener and then tied around some asshole’s neck. At the scene of the crime Sarge calls this  “A brilliant device.” Lady, it’s a garage door opener and a rope. Come on.

What a magnificent device! I’ve never seen anything like this! This woman’s a GENIUS!

During this murder sequence Tara opens up to her next victim and openly discusses her deceased husband who was a”beautiful” man and enjoyed being pushed to the very limits of pleasure and pain. However, it’s a one-sided conversation as her victim is gagged and cannot respond at all to Tara’s sad story of how her husband liked to be whipped repeatedly and have his balls stomped upon. The typical story of star-crossed lovers. In fact, Tara even as a creepy dummy she keeps suspended from the ceiling of her lair of sexual evils that she talks to and calls “sweetheart”. She also practices her lashing skills on the thing.

Don’t think for a second Tara doesn’t have a softer side, though. A hidden part of her personality is revealed in a sequence that comes out of left field in which Tara drives out to a sewage retention pond near a busy overpass to bask in the sun and frolic in nature amongst the rusty discarded beer cans and crunchy used condoms. She spots a rotting romance novel as she gazes over an abandoned, rotten motel, and reads a passage about tender, gentle love that moves her to pick up a red-faced, mulleted youth and fuck him in a motel room. Now that’s romance! Anyhoo, she whips out the hooters, kind of gets near him and then backs off only to break his neck and fondle his dead penis. I guess the lady knows what she likes.  Highlight of this scene, and the reason I even brought it up, is when the actor playing the seduced youth hops into bed he unintentionally bashes his noggin against the head board with an audible “CRAUNCH”. He can’t play it off, let’s out an anguished “ARRGGHH!” before rubbing his head in pain, and then settling down for the loving he’s sure is coming right around the corner. I’m sure this guy just reeks of Miller High Life and Slim Jims.

I don’t feel “brain damage” is much of a concern in this guy’s case.

Just as Chase is making some headway on the “Gorgasm” case he is pulled off of it as Sanchez has fully recovered from his slight cough and Chase swears he will make them all pay! Yeah, the only people who will be paying is the audience who must endure a slow motion dream sequence of his in which he wears a super tiny black pair of underoos and seduces a handcuffed Tara in his living room before slugging her in the face.  Out of all the visuals in “Gorgasm” the only one that haunts me is seeing Chase nearly nude and trying to be sexy while coated in a thing layer of perspiration and nicotine, his thinning blonde hair in greasy disarray and his bugged-out eyes starring into my soul. I’ve seen countless horror films and, to my dismay, this is the image that’s haunted my nightmares for over a decade.

Enough about me, Chase decides to take matters into his own hands, contacts Tara through a personal add, and sets up a “combat” date where only one will leave alive. Of course Tara is totally down with this, but how they both know the dress code of this engagement without ever discussing it has me wondering if this movie has a very subtle supernatural underpinning to it.  How else do you explain Chase wearing a camouflaged  shirt & slacks combo and Tara showing up in a fetching matched camou bikini? Really, what better way to blend in with a middle class suburban living room? Maybe they both just have similar fashion sense? Either way, I guess it illustrates just how similar these two characters are. Or something…?

Tara and Chase: A lot alike? I see two BIG differences right off the bat.

They lock eyes, Chase draws his gun, Tara draws her machete, and the combat is on! Immediately Tara loses her top so she has to spend the rest of the chase bouncing her large breasts all over the screen as she runs from the equally floppy Detective Chase. Tara runs for the garage to hide which leads to one of the funniest moments of the entire film. Chase, gun in hand, slowly walks into the garage, hand first, now knowing Tara is hiding right next to the door on the opposite side with her trusty machete raised high above her head.  In a split second Chase loses both his weapon and hand to the evil call girl! He soon passes out as his nemesis stares him down, no doubt figuring out her next move…In the end, it takes both characters to a fate neither one could have seen coming. Although the audience probably did. Let’s just say there are some mind blowing reveals and guns going off in the place you’d ever want them to go off.

Shock? Pain? Or does he smell Alpo?

Let’s just say, by the end of “Gorgasm” there are no clear winners. Hell, there’s really no clear nice guy or bad guy! Everyone is up to no good. I suppose, in some strange way, Tara is not really the villain of the piece. She’s kind of an anti-hero, I mean, sure she kills people in hilariously gruesome ways but it’s what her clients want! I mean, she’s running a business, yes?  Someone wants their head ripped off by a spinning topless woman? So be it, I say!  The customer is always right.

Can’t say she didn’t get a little head during her killing spree. HA! Be sure to tip your waitress…

“Gorgasm” is a fucking TERRIBLE movie. There is nothing good about it. From the  “acting” to the cinematography, writing, and gore effects absolutely nothing in this film works!  I mean, there’s a veritable all-you-can-eat buffet of Gabriela’s tits on display but those breasts are probably the only thing of any quality note.  Still, as I’m sure you all know,  quality does not always determine watchability! Despite its near infinite flaws, “Gorgasm” still manages to be hysterical, exploitative, cheesy, and pretty damn entertaining. It’s a slice of the trash cinema pie that’s more of an acquired taste than most. Those who can enjoy films such as Troll 2 and Samurai Cop would probably be the core audience for this kind of flick.

Tastes like lime!

“Gorgasm”, the first entry in Hugh Gallagher’s Gore Trilogy, is probably the weakest entry but still manages to deliver on the lame-o unintentional hilarity and the sleazeball tits and gore. Not even a cult film, more of a forgotten, never was sort of nada flick, “Gorgasm” is one for the hardcore fans of all things Trash. Be warned, this flick is not for the faint of heart. It’s almost unfathomably bad, but for a certain group of us, it’s the most wonderfully perfect kind of bad imaginable.

Soon to come, The Primal Root’s review of the Second Entry in Hugh Gallagher’s Gore Trilogy, “Gorotica”!

Stay Trashy!

-Root




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