Posts Tagged ‘killers

29
Jul
18

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

just before dawn

a Primal Root written review

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

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

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

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

JustBeforeDawn1

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

gregg-henry-deborah-benson-chris-lemmon-jamie-rose-and-ralph-seymour-in-just-before-dawn-1981

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

 

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

Just-Before-Dawn-1981-00-15-55

 

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

just_before_dawn_deborah_benson_1981

 

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

just before

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

MV5BYjg2NWNkMTItNWEyYi00NzQ5LWJjNDUtMDFjNzE5MWU5OGM0XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMzU4ODM5Nw@@._V1_

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

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

MV5BOWE0MjYyOWEtOTI1Ny00MzA2LTliYmUtMTRlNGQ5ZTcyNzJlXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMjUyNDk2ODc@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,999_AL_

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

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

You have got to see this sucker!

Stay Trashy!

-Root

15
Sep
13

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1994)

Texas-Chainsaw-Massacre-The-Next-Generation-1994

a Primal Root written review

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre family dynamic has certainly changed over the years and decades since they first made their teenager  barbecuing debut back in Tobe Hooper’s 1974 cinematic milestone.  They were originally a disorganized banned of blood thirsty, cannibalistic psychopaths trying to stay alive after being put out of jobs over at the slaughterhouse. In Hooper’s 1986 sequel “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre part 2” the clan had adjusted to Reagan era politics, yuppie America and capitalism and even managed to run their own award winning barbecue catering company. By 19990’s “Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre part III” they had gone back to the part of Texas that looks like Los Angeles where the family looks to be expanding a bit and then, by the mid 90’s, Kim Henkel, the was part of the creative force behind the original, steps forward with possibly the strangest and most loathed entry in the entire franchise.

The movie centers on a young, bespectacled girl named Jenny (Bridget Jones herself, Renee Zellweger) who meet as she is getting ready for prom night before being unceremoniously assaulted and nearly raped by her Stepfather. This is in the first five minutes of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation and we never see Jenny’s Stepfather or oblivious Mother again.  It’s an unnerving note to begin such a story on and has you feeling apprehensive from the get-go. You get that feeling this is to set up that moment where you have that revelation while Leatherface is biting some nubile teenage girl’s well manicured fingers from her hands and another family member smears shit all over his upper torso and you think to yourself, “Ya know, this family isn’t all that different from any other!” Makes you think, don’t it?

Renee Zellweger harnessing her inner Lisa Loeb.

Renee Zellweger harnessing her inner Lisa Loeb.

Well, before anyone gets the chance to twerk to “You Look Wonderful Tonight”, Jenny and three of her fellow prom goers end up lost down a backwoods dirt road after a hit and run fender bender. “People don;t know how to build roads!” one idiotic piece of chainsaw fodder declares as they motor towards their meat hook hanging destinies. Then…THEY GET IN ANOTHER WRECK! One that puts their car out of commission and leaves the driver of the other vehicle unconscious laying in the dirt. Jenny and two of her fellow airheaded teens head off into the night to find help while Jenny’s date stays behind to make sure the young man steadily bleeding to death in the mud isn’t ripped apart by voracious raccoons or something.

After a mile of walking and none stop whining, Jenny and her buddies come across the mobile home offices of Darla, who runs a construction business. She seems friendly enough and enjoys flashing her ample bosoms at anyone who throws a rock through her window (…the Hell?) and phones someone to go check on the wreck out in the middle of nowhere and give these kids a “lift.” This mysterious someone is Vilmer Slaughter, a tow truck driving, greased up lunatic with a remote controlled mechanical leg and penchant for screaming like a frat boy at the homecoming game. Vilmer is brought to life by a scene stealing and completely convincing Matthew McConaughey, and watching him play beside Zellweger it’s clear to see where the real talent in Texas resides.

Old Fashioned Texas Nostril Flare Fighting!

Old Fashioned Texas Nostril Flare Fighting!

BUT I DIGRESS! Vilmer shows up to the scene of the crash, kills the coma boy on the ground and proceeds to chase down Jenny’s lover boy and repeatedly run over him, grinding his quivering teenage corpse into bloody, raw, hamburger meat beneath his Goodyears while listening to 90’s “Alternative” rock on the tape deck and howling like a hyena on PCP.  Sorry, but this I fell in love with Vilmer immediately. We need to get this guy and Chop-Top from The Texas Chainsaw MAssacre part 2 together and make a sitcom.

Well, Jenny ends up walking back to the scene of the accident to meet her beau and finds a whole lot of nothing, at which point, she decides to sit in the dirt until her two other pals, who have gone off in a different direction, end up dead and her character becomes relevant again.  While she sits the next fifteen to twenty minutes of the film out, her two friends manage to make their way to the home of these lunatics and run into a camouflage wearing, mullet headed Leatherface who screams like a woman whose teacup chihuahua just got run over by a lawnmower for the majority of his screen time. It gives the impression that Leatherface is just as terrified of these kids as they are of him and, in fact, I have a feeling that might just be the case. Either that or these are psychotic screams of redneck frustration. I suppose you can draw your own conclusions.  All I know is that later, once  all the protagonist men have had their skulls bashed in and Jenny’s been thoroughly chased about the Chainsaw clan’s property and is finally tossed into the dining room in a brand new, and very sparkly, evening dress, Leatherface dresses up in drag and, dare I say it, looks rather lovely.  In brain damaged, blood thirsty redneck wearing a hideous female suit of skin kind of way…

"I'd fuck me."

“I’d fuck me.”

The evening devolves into a dinner scene of near epic surrealism as Vilmer continues to go nuts over his take out pizza, dry humping his sister, Darla, and pouring lighter fluid on his captives and then setting them on fire only to stomp their heads into pickled relish all over the dining room floor. And that’s the moderately normal stuff happening in this house!  The family is visited by some mysterious shadow organization manager who apparently has the Chainsaw clan on their payroll as merchants of fear. The clan is paid to pick up and terrorize unsuspecting young people and, from what I can gather, allow the leaders of this shadow group lick ever bead of sweat and smudge of filth off the captives face while showcasing their own strange abdominal mutilations. When did was this deal struck between the carnage minded Chainsaw clan and some strange Illuminati style group that secretly controls the destiny of society? I have no clue. but it is a strange and intriguing idea to stick within a damn Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie. Just don;t expect an explanation, ’cause there isn’t one coming.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation reaches it’s absurd climax as Jenny escapes with Vilmer and Leatherface in a lovely black satin robe, in hot pursuit. Jenny manages to ruin an elderly couples vacation by putting them in the middle of the action and the chase is cut short by a crop dusting airplane. Yeah, if you want to see the visual representation of the term “cluster fuck” this would suffice.

Dear Ms. Zellweger, could you please wear this dress to The Oscars one year? Love, -The Primal Root

Dear Ms. Zellweger, could you please wear this dress to The Oscars one year? Love, – Root

All in all, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation was a bold attempt to do something a little different with a very stale franchise.  In their attempt to infuse the proceedings with a healthy dose of mid 1990’s alternative rock, MTV culture (every chase seen is punctuated by some shitty alt rock/grunge track) and strange conspiracy theories (The Chainsaw clan working for the government?) it feels as if this entry in the Texas Chainsaw franchise kind of get lost under the weight of it’s own absurdity. There’s no consistent tone, only one strange,m off the wall set piece after another. And, although, McConaughey does his damnedest to make this thing lively as Hell, and he does pretty much run the show in this entry even if Zellweger never rises up the remarkable level of both Marilyn Burns and Caroline Williams in the first two entries of the series, the movie itself never really takes off.  It has all the elements it needs to be a great Texas Chainsaw Massacre flick, but at some point it starts puttering and finally just stalls out and drifts into the ditch.

I give this flick TWO Dumpster Nuggets out of FIVE!

Stay Trashy!

-Root

25
Aug
13

You’re Next (2011) Warm Blood & Rich People…plus a short essay on slasher cinema history

you're next poster

a Primal Root written review

The late 60’s  through the 1970’s were the golden years for American horror cinema. Not only were young, truly talented filmmakers delivering inspired pieces of art, they gave cinema indispensable time capsules of the days troubled times and the lasting, horrifying impact of our actions on not only the inhabitants of our nation, but the world. films such as Tobe Hooper’s “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre”, George A. Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead”, Wes Craven’s “Last House on the Left”, John Carpenter’s “Halloween” and many others illustrated , the brutality both at home and abroad as peaceful protesters were gunned down by our National Guard in cold blood, blacks in our country were beaten and murdered by our police officials, our brothers, sons,  husbands and Fathers were being drafted to serve in a wildly unpopular war and the hippie movement had given way to disillusionment in the wake of Charles Manson and Free Love regrettably spread venereal disease like wild fire through the loins of our nation.  Independent horror cinema had never been more vital, more important in our country as it was during this era.  Horror was the purest illustration, the unfettered subconscious, of our society.

Soon the 1980’s were ushered in and movies such as “Halloween” and “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre”, which had proven incredibly profitable, gave way to a sub-genre known as the “slasher” genre, which gained a foothold in this decade and squeezed as much blood out of the concept as  possible. John Carpenter’s Halloween became a franchise, Sean Cunningham’s “Friday the 13th” spawned a series of films repeating the same formula for over 20 years, and Wes Craven delivered a trail blazing, brilliant, post Vietnam horror film in “A Nightmare on Elm Street”, but it was soon watered down into a franchisable commodity.  Slasher horror films became a staple of the decade as they proved to be resoundingly profitable for studios, and sequels that regurgitated the story on repeat could be relied upon to turn a profit. It was fun while it lasted, and some pretty damn great slasher films were produced during the decade, but   gradually, a form of horror that had once shown us how fucked up our system was, had been yuppified and sold out. The films became less of a societal rorshach test, and more like a series of Saturday morning cartoon adventure. Hell, it was the 1980’s in a capitalist country! As George “Buck” Flowers said in John Carpenter’s 1988 science fiction masterpiece, “They Live”, “We all sell out every day, might as well be on the winning team!”

But by the end of 80’s the slasher formula had grown as stale as a year old box of opened and then forgotten about croutons in the pantry, and by 1990, many folks deemed the sub-genre dead.

BUT THEN CAME POST-MODERN SLASHERS!  Ushered in by Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, and to a much greater extent, his “Scream” franchise, which replaced the usual gang of teenagers ready for the chop, with teenage characters who have been raised in the VHS generation and are completely aware of the slasher formula, it’s cliches and it’s caveats and are loaded up and ready with quips, jokes and references to horror movies history!  The resurrection of the slasher genre was given life thanks to the ever increasing knowledge and awareness of the audience who had spent their youths combing through video rental stores and boning up on their horror movie knowledge.  Two decades earlier, it was Leatherface in Tobe Hooper’s “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” who had been savaging the cinema while wearing the remains of his victims. Now, in the 1990’s, the filmmakers were the one’s wearing the remains of the genre’s past and exploiting it as a joke and laughing at the power these movies once, and to the viewer willing to watch without a jaded eye, still contain.

But, there are only so many in-jokes you can make about the genre before Post Modern gives way to straight up spoofs like the Wayans Brother’s brain dead “Scary Movie” franchise.  Oh, what has post modern horror wrought?

In the mid 2000’s, after the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, and the War in Iraq marched on with seemingly no plan and no end in sight under the George W. Bush administration, the slasher genre got a heavy, dark, deeply mean spirited and cynical makeover in the form of James Wan’s “Saw” franchise, Now audiences were thrust into morality games where victims and victimizers alike were suddenly forced to endure and try to survive brutal and disturbingly painful forms of grueling torture in order to survive and are expected to walk away having learned some kind of life affirming message. Assumign they survive at all. (Spoiler: most folks end up splattered across the linoleum.)  Also, taking hold in this decade, was a sudden popularity in remakes. Classic horror films like Tobe Hooper’s “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” and George A. Romero’s “Dawn of the Dead” were open game for modern retelling and face lifts. These proved successful as money making ventures since the titles were already well established and could be relied on to turn a profit, but many folks took this as a sign that “Hollywood” had, indeed, run out of ideas and that set of balls they once relied on to give up and coming filmmakers a chance at showcasing original product, had now finally been cut cleen and tossed int he waste basket. The studio now only seemed interested in “sure things.”  Young filmmakers who came of age during the slasher heydays were now creating their own slasher movies…but more times than not, for cynical laughs and nastiness rather than genuine scares or fun.

With the exception of a few sporadic, slasher films produced independently, with varying degrees of success, the blood in the veins of a once extremely popular genre has been cooling down and slowing to a coagulated halt as it’s once thriving body withers up and passed away. Them’s the brakes.  I had very little hope in ever seeing a slasher film worth a piss again on the big screen.

Death Zoo 2000

Death Zoo 2000

And then I saw “You’re Next”.

A kind of home invasion slasher film that’s done the impossible and taken a tired formula, one that’s been played to death, and made it feel fun, interesting and new again. Honestly, I haven’t had this much fun watching a slasher film in…well…YEARS! I know there’s been quite a bit of hype surrounding this flick over the last couple years since it’s premiere in 2011, and although I do feel the praise this thing has gotten is, indeed, a bit overblown, “You’re Next” does a dandy of a job showing it’s audience a good time.

The premise comes across as fairly standard. A very wealthy family reunites for a weekend at their secluded mansion in the middle of winter. It;s cold, it’s snowy, and if a band of crossbow shooting, axe wielding maniacs happen upon their house, they are more or less trapped and/or completely fucked.    One thing I greatly appreciate about “You’re Next’ is that the family and other assorted characters are written as actual human beings, characters and players in the drama at hand rather than just jokes and punch lines ready to be cashed in.  Sure, some situations come off as comical, but never because the characters are anything more than flawed, damaged and mistake making human beings. Things are tense before any psychopaths even show up! Hell, I haven;t seen a dinner scene this tense and uncomfortable since The Sawyer clan sat down to dinner in “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.” (No, Tobe Hooper’s not paying me to drop that title as many times as possible in this review) The family dynamic feels like a bomb just waiting to go off as it seems some siblings cannot be near one another for more than five seconds without anger and resentment rising and an argument breaking out.  One cannot help but feel bad for Erin (Sharni Vinson) who is there to meet and spend some quality time getting to know her boyfriend Crispan’s (AJ Bowen) family.

Things go from awkward to “Aw, fuck” as family dinner is violently interrupted and suddenly everyone is scrambling to survive. To the amazed wonderment of the family, Erin seems to have the survival instincts of a wild cat and, once the rich families plans are all proven to be disastrously moot, takes control of the situation and ends up being on the the very best, if not the quintessential Final Girl.   Rarely in the slasher genre have I ever witness a final girl so aptly and efficiently tackle with her antagonists.  She turns her aggressors into bumbling idiots over the course of the film and it drew much appropriate applause form myself and the rest of the audience.  This is no screaming, lame-o final girl running around in her panties and hoping to fight the killer to a draw. no, Erin is out for blood and she’s honestly one of the greatest assets “You’re Next” has.  Many folks have labeled “you;re Next” a “feminist” horror film.  Hell, I thought most horror films, especially slashers, featured strong female protagonists besting and hulking male antagonist. By definition, isn’t the majority of slasher films feminist?

What a woman will go through for a decent boyfriend.

What a woman will go through for a decent boyfriend.

But, I digress, “You’re Next” also delivers some excellently executed gore set pieces that seem to escalate as the films closes in on it’s graphically violent, over the top conclusion.  People meet their end in brutal, uncompromising fashions at the end of axes, arrows, knives, screwdrivers and countless assorted implements of destruction and kitchen accoutrement.  Those looking for and carnage candy will not leave disappointed.  Another thing I was impressed with was the film;s dark, yet fitting, sense of humor. Unlike other recent slasher films that slowly devolve into “Not Another Teen Slasher Film” over the top, slapstick gore and gags (Hatchet & Hatchet II, I’m looking at you.) or post modern slashers that draw laughs from our knowledge of horror film history,  “You’re Next” keeps things serious and to the point, but manages to draw comedy from it’s bloody situations. The jokes are dark, but the levity is appreciated and doesn’t feel out of place.

On the negative side, once the shit hits the proverbial fan,  “You’re Next” invokes some of the most annoying shaky cam I’ve ever endured. I;m not exactly sure if I got used to it after it’s initial use or if the filmmakers decided it was only necessary for this one moment of panic, but my God, it was distracting and pointless. The actors were doing a fine enough job portraying their shock and horror at what was occurring, the last thing we needed was some guy shaking the camera around like he’s being mauled by a grizzly bear during the shoot.  Seriously, have some faith in your on screen talent. I wanted to watch their performances and not gain a migraine headache for my efforts. Also, sadly, the central question underlying the whole flick is pretty easy to figure out. Boots and I knew what was up as soon as arrows began flying. But, in the end, this didnt diminish my enjoyment of the film at all.

meow.

meow.

Any other gripes? Not really. “You’re Next” is a shockingly solid piece of slasher entertainment in a genre I thought had been bled totally dry by 80’s over exposure, 90’s postmodernism, and new millennial remake dookie splatter.  It was treat being able to watch a fun, TRULY old school style slasher film with an appreciative, loud, and lively audience just as into it as myself and Bootsie Kidd were. Not nearly as revolutionary as many critics and supporters have hyped it up to be, “You’re Next” is still one of the very best times I’ve had seeing a down and dirty slasher flick in ages. It has a keen awareness of the genre itself  which allows the filmmakers a chance to play around with our expectations, passes itself well, contains serviceable performances and has one very cool throwback synth driven score. Almost sounds like John Carpenter himself could have done the music for this sucker.

This is not the second coming, but it is proof that you can play with slasher formula without turning it all into some masturbatory joke. “You’re Next” has given me a smidgen of hope for a long flailing sub genre of horror and I am hoping filmmakers interested in working within it take note of what “You;re Next” has done right. Because there are few roller coaster rides as fun as a fun, well executed slasher film with the right audience. I only wish I got to take the ride more often.

If you’ve ever held even a drop of affection for the slasher genre in your horror nerd heart, you owe it to yourself to see “You’re Next.”

4 out of 5 Dumpster Nuggets

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!
19
Aug
11

Welcome to Fright Night…Just Kidding.

Wait...did Charlie even use that axe he's holding in this poster?

a Primal Root written review

My friend Sam wanted to see this movie. He was stoked. His enthusiasm lead me to go along with him. Hell, how bad could it be? As the songs goes. “I wish that I knew what I know now…when I was stronger.” We both left the theater in agony around 2:00 this morning…

I really had no interest in this remake. At all. Fright Night is one of my all time favorite horror films of the 80’s, Hell, it’s one of my favorite horror movies period. Under the masterful direction of Tom Holland, Fright Night was a vibrant, funny, spooky, gruesome love letter to horror’s Golden Age updated with many excellent in-camera effects and some down right awesome performances by everyone involved. Holland even managed to give all the characters involved (even those in supporting roles) back stories, the space to breath and in turn, gave the film a lot of heart. All of this is why Fright Night endures as a horror fan favorite and why audiences keep coming for more.

And then there’s Fright Night 2011…Remember, I saw this movie for you.

Don't feel bad, Colin, I hear it happens to lots of guys...

I cannot even think of where to begin…well, the beginning is as good a place as any. We are introduced to our new Charlie Brewster who lives in a modern suburb of Las Vegas where every house looks exactly the same. The camera glides over the houses showing us how uniform they all are and as I watched this new Fright Night that was the final moment I felt hope…Maybe the film would be some kind of commentary on how interchangeable we all have become in a world where individuality is pushed aside for convenience sake? I dunno, needless to say, I was over estimating this corn riddled turd of a film.

Charlie (Yelchin) is now a dirt bike enthusiast who is trying to grapple with his past so that he can still hang out with the cool kids at school and get the sticky finger from his uninteresting girlfriend, Amy (Poots. Tee-Hee) See, Charlie used to play some kind of roll playing game with his old nerdy best friend “Evil” Ed (Plasse/McLovin’) and Charlie must keep this past and the existence of his old best friend buried at all costs or else he won’t be popular anymore.

I guess the decision here was to make every main character unlikable from the get-go, especially Charlie.  Rather than giving the audience a surrogate in Charlie as the original had ( a bit of an awkward nerd, passion for horror movies, having girl troubles and attempting to defeat the forces of evil) instead we get this Charlie.  He has a dirt bike and is trying to be popular. How…interesting…

So, Jerry (Farrell)  moves in next door to Charlie and his single Mom, Jane (Toni Collette! What are you doing in this mess?)  and is introduced as he does his yard work…as the sun is just beginning to set. Let me remind you, Jerry’s a vampire. Of course he’s charming, suave, built and ready to fuck and/or eat anything that moves and, true to form, the ladies around town are instantly drawn to this type of undead, evil, sociopath…

"And may your forehead grow like the mighty oak."

I think possibly the saddest thing about Fright Night 2011 is how quickly Jerry is revealed to be a full force vampire. Literally, ten minutes in and one of the main protagonists is attacked and turned.  Jerry’s reveal in the original takes time to build, the tension grows as does the suspicion and the paranoia until Jerry finally confront Charlie. In the new Fright Night he basically walks up a goes. “Hey, I’m a vampire.” Yep…quite the reveal.

The filmmakers try to punch up the long spells of boredom and Collin Farrel mugging sly smiles to the camera before sniffing the air in all directions, with uninspired car chases, cameos from previous cast members (of whom I felt deeply embarrassed for) and David Tennant grabbing his testicles for inspired comic relief as our new Peter Vincent, the leather pants wearing, premature ejaculating host of Fright Night. No, Fright Night is no longer a late night cable access spook show… now it’s a Las Vegas magic show.Tennant’s portrayal of Vincent is a dreadfully over the top performance that’s given no real gravity or sense of reality especially once the back story of this new Peter Vincent is revealed.

The Smarmy goes to 11.

Fright Night 2011 is nothing more than product. There’s not a whole lot for me to talk about in this review because there’s nothing there. It’s vapid, empty and a complete waste of time, effort, talent, money and celluloid.  Characters that were believable, that you once felt for whether they were human or monster, are reduced to terrible one liners and the most senseless and dull headed characterization I’ve witnessed since those fucking Transformers movies took off. Oh yeah, it’s that kind of bad. Perhaps, even worse, since Fright Night had such incredible source material to plunder.AND DON’T SEE THIS THING IN3-D! It’s a waste of money. Unless 3-D doorways and apple eating is worth an additional 5 bucks to you…

Maybe I am just getting too old. Perhaps references to Google, Ebay and excellent Century 21 product placements aren’t enough to make me laugh. It just makes me roll my eyes in my old man disgruntlement knowing what I am watching is nothing more that a cheap, piece of shit knock of of a once inspired and wholly entertaining story. A film that in 1985 reminded us of how imaginative and fun horror cinema could truly be! Hell, I watch it today and I still wish people strived to make movies as great as Fright Night (85). Movies where  you walk out of the theater feeling exhilarated and wishing you could spend even more time in that universe.

And then there’s the new Fright Night. Where you walk out feeling like you were the one who just had your blood drained. It seemed they tried to walk a middle ground where they might appeal to old fans and new. In the end, they ended up with something I feel will appeal to neither.

Perhaps you should just stop TRYING to be so cool, Brewster…

07
Jul
11

Auntie Lee’s Meat Pies: Finger Licking Good

a Primal Root written review

Recommended to me by Craig of Craig’s Killer Coffee here in Tallahassee (Join their fan page on facebook!). ‘Auntie Lee’s Meat Pies’ is one very strange yet wholly entertaining concoction of cleavage, cleavers,and carnage. ‘Auntie Lee’s Meat Pies’ rehashes some very familiar themes. Auntie Lee, entrepreneur and Satan worshiper (played with psychotic glee by Trash Cinema Legend, Karen Black), runs her remarkably successful Meat Pie empire with the help of her four busty, homicidal nieces (Fawn played by Kristine Rose, Coral played by porn star Teri Weigel , Sky played by Pia Reyes, and Magnolia played by August 86 Playboy Playmate, Ava Fabian) and her mentally handicapped handyman, Larry (played by the always awesome Michael Berryman).

Auntie Lee’s business is run from a lovely, spacious, ranch house settled on miles of property located in the little one-cop town of  Penance, California.  The locals and surrounding counties can’t get enough of Auntie Lee’s meat pies and pay top dollar to procure her delectable, baked concoctions with that unique flavor unlike any other meat product they’ve ever shoveled into their gob. What’s the secret ingredient? What sets these meat pies apart? Hey, anyone who is even remotely familiar with the horror genre knows where this is going…

See, there’s a history of drifters going missing in Penance. They simply vanish without a trace once they step foot into the town and often they are last seen ogling the assets of one or more of Auntie Lee’s nieces. Of course, the town sheriff, Chief Koal (a southern fried…Pat Morita?Who has a stunningly natural southern drawl!) can’t quite put the pieces together. THAT IS, until a big city private investigator shows up in town looking for one of the missing gentlemen, and the fact that Larry has begun to act far loonier than usual.

The film itself has that grainy, early 90’s straight to video feel. The thing looks cheap as dirt but there’s a spirit to this thing that keeps it interesting and kept me entertained even through the more monotonous parts. Plus, early on, there’s this fantastic decapitation scene that’s gotta be seen to be believed. It’s abrupt, violent and hysterical and really sets the bar for the film.  The nieces can’t act worth a damn but that’s not the point. They serve as smiling, seductive, sirens who lead eager, horny morons to their well deserved demise.  The only truly grueling moments in ‘Auntie Lee’s Meat Pies’ are the scene that rest solely on the shoulders of these women. Their delivery is stilted and it’s easy to sense they have no grasp on what their lines mean.

The murder scenes range from the somewhat pedestrian (i.e. ice pick to the forehead) to the inspired (i.e. pantry decapitation) and the head scratchingly bizarre (i.e. giant rattle snake fang chest impalement…what?) but they all seem o work within the frame work of such a bizarre film. Oddly enough, the gore is kind of tame. There are very few moments where any excessive blood is sprayed or gore is spattered. And even more odd is the lack of female nudity. I believe we only get one pair of breasts, however, they may be the only natural set of breasts int he entire film. The only other nudity even hinted at is during this exceedingly strange pantomime strip-tease shower scene which takes place behind back lit false walls. The woman is nude, with levitating artificial breasts…the shower also happens to be fake. It’s a fan blowing streamers. Yes, thus particular group of psychopaths are also well skilled mimes and flash dancers. Go figure.

My only wish after watching ‘Auntie Lee’s Meat Pies’ is that there would have been a  bit more history and explanation behind this business and those who are involved.  The film is so involved with delivering goofy kills and flashes of female flesh that they never drop us any hints as to who these people are or how they’ve gotten there. Is Larry related to Auntie Lee? If these girls are her nieces where are their parents? I assume Larry might be Auntie’s brother or something and that these girls are orphaned after Auntie Lee kills their parents and has been collecting and brain washing these girls to expand the business.

However, at the films end, he camera pans out to the backyard of Auntie Lee’s ranch and we get a glimpse of all the old, destroyed automobiles of their previous victims that they’ve been hiding out back for who knows how long. It’s a shot similar to the one Robert Rodriguez would use a few years later at the conclusion of he and Tarantino’s vampire/crime wave flick, ‘From Dusk Till Dawn’. I cannot help but wonder if those guys are fans of ‘Auntie Lee’s Meat Pies’.

Far from a masterpiece but certainly one to keep you and your buddies entertained on a bad movie night, ‘Auntie Lee’s Meat Pies is a grab bag of our favorite Trash Cinema elements lovingly and cheaply assembled for our consumption. It’s tasty, greasy, guilty pleasure well worth sinking your teeth into. This puppy seems like the perfect flick to watch side by side as a double bill with ‘Motel Hell’. 😉

Stay Trashy.

-The Primal Root

Couldn’t find the trailer for “Auntie Lee’s Meat Pies’ anywhere. So here’s “I Saw Your Mommy’ by Suicidal Tendencies which is  featured in the film. Enjoy!




Dumpster Diving

Categories