Posts Tagged ‘marriage

04
Apr
20

Don’t Mess With My Sister! (1985) Stanky Lad’s Junkyard For The Human Spirit

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a Primal Root written review

“YOU FUCKED A BELLYDANCER, YOU BASTARD!” – Clara, Don’t Mess With My Sister!

There’s no denying Meir Zarchi’s I Spit On Your Grave aka: Day Of The Woman from 1978 is a milestone is exploitation cinema. Among the most notable in the brutal rape/revenge genre that is, for obvious reasons, incredibly divisive. With it’s legendary ad campaign, “THIS WOMAN HAS JUST CUT, CHOPPED, BROKEN AND BURNED FIVE MEN BEYOND RECOGNITION…BUT NO JURY IN AMERICA WOULD CONVICT HER!” and it’s taboo nature, it has become a legendary dark destination in our American Trash Cinema landscape. It’s what Meir Zarchi will go down in history for.

However…There is another.

Oh yes, 1985 Meir Zarchi finally came out with a sophomore effort entitled, Don’t Mess With My Sister! A film that answers the burning question of what would happen if Martin Scorsese got in a horse riding accident, suffered severe brain damage, but once recovered decided to craft a movie for Lifetime Television. It was not the explosive action revenge film I had imagined in my head looking at the poster art, no, far from it. It’s instead, a heavy clunkster of a marital drama about an immensely unlikeable dipshit named Steven (Joe Perce from 1987’s The Hidden and 1989’s Black Rain) who is married to his sweet wife Clara (Jeanine Lemay in her only acting credit), has a little daughter named Candy, is about to graduate from the Columbia Business School in New York and moonlights as the accountant at his brothers-in-law Roberto (Jack Gurci, who went on to never act again) and Dino’s (Peter Sapienza whose only other film credit is 1986’s Osa) junkyard “Stinky Lad’s Salvage (okay, that’s just a name I made up, but it feels fitting since these guys never change their all denim wardrobes), who we find out, are PAYING Steven’s college tuition. Not only that, but we meet Steven on his birthday and his brothers-in-law surprise Steven with a $20 dollar raise! Steven bitches, they raise it to $30! Steven still bitches because he wants to be a partner and it nearly breaks down into a fist fight. Yes, this movie takes place in New York and the characters are all New Yorkers.

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So, Steven is a little bitch with dark rings around his eyes, talks like he took several blows to the head with a lead pipe and gives off the most unsympathetic creeper/ghoul vibes I’ve ever come across outside a vampire film and we, as an audience, I assume are meant to root for this horse’s ass.

His wife throws him a surprise birthday party where it’s apparent there are some animosities between the mothers from both sides of the family, the brothers-in-law and Steven, and Steven’s Mom and Steven’s wife. Anyway, everyone is complaining, drinking and at each other’s throats until the belly dancer Clara hired, Annika ( Laura Lanfranchi, again, her only on screen appearance), who manages to entertain everyone, even manages to get Steven’s wine swigging ancient mother up and dancing like it’s Spring Break on Panama City Beach, and catches the illicit gaze of dipshit Steven.

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The very next night, Steven returns Annika’s costume bra to her at school after receiving the worst advice ever from his shrimpy man best bud, Jerry, who tells Steven that girls leave bras behind so that men will sleep with them and that he shouldn’t let this one get away! Oh, brother, hunker down, because here comes the litany of terrible decisions and events that just pour over till the end credits roll. Steven returns the costume bra to Annika and offers her a ride to a private gig of her’s where she performs the dance of the seven veils, or what have you, for an over weight millionaire with NO BACK, and NO ONE there to protect her if shit goes wrong. As wealthy men typically do, he attempts to force himself upon her, when she tries to shove him aside, he lashes out with the typical rapist catch phrases “What did you THINK I invited you here for?” Before Steve hears the struggle all the way outside, in his car, and rushes in the beat the shit out of the guy before Annika murders him with a well placed bottle of wine to the cranium.

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So, what to do after murdering an incredibly wealthy rapist, leaving your prints all over the fucking mansion and squealing out of his driveway in front of a woman walking her dogs? What else? You go back to your accomplices apartment, do a culturally insensitive African tribal dance in her living room replete with spear and soundtrack album then fuck in her shower.

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Steven eventually makes it home to find wife asleep and levels the excuse that his tire blew out and it took all night to fix. Of course, as these things do, people start talking, who saw what and where people actually were and the next thing you know Steve is getting his ass caved in by Clara, Roberto and Dino in the junkyard. Everyone continues to do violent, terrible things to one another, the murder makes the front page and is all over the news, Clara slices open a stuffed monkey, Steven shoots a shotgun at his brothers-in-law who, now that Steven is packing heat and trying to kill them, wants to make Steven a partner at Stanky Lad’s. It all ends as abruptly as it began and we are left with our heads spinning after witnessing an all-you-can-eat buffet of loathsomeness from a full cast of terrible fucking characters.

What lesson should we take away from Don’t Mess With My Sister? What exactly was this film even about? Who the fuck were these people and how was I supposed to care? It’s an exercise in the most heinous and selfish of human behavior where there’s no good guys and no real payoffs. It’s like an episode of Seinfeld directed by Lars Von Trier with no laugh track. I think it might be trying to say something about the greed of men and how it leads them to covet and do terrible things in the name of getting ahead and trying to seek pleasure where they can and how this lead to a world of hurt to everyone involved. Also, I can imagine that Clara is the sister of the title we should not be messing with? Basically, Don’t Mess With My Sister is a baffling slice of unfiltered shittiness that will leave you pondering what in fucking Hell you just experienced. You’re dropped into a world of scumbags and left with no meaning or ending.

Hey, at least Meir Zarchi was trying to shake the stigma of his greatest achievement and try something new. It really feels like he’s reaching for a Mean Streets vibe here, but he just doesn’t quite have the knack for it. If we were given more history for these characters, some kind of back story, perhaps the drama elements would have worked. It’s difficult to mix straight ahead drama with elements of exploitation and really make a tasty concoction. The drama elements don’t work because the focus is a bit to heavy on all the conflict, but without the base understanding of where everyone is coming from, it just doesn’t congeal and we are left with a bunch of raging, screaming, violent assholes spraying verbal diarrhea that is worthless, meaningless shit to the audience. And the exploitation cinema vibes are there, but there’s no fun to be had. No real over the top excess, besides the constant “fucks” and “Shits” this could easily be a Lifetime Movie of the Week.

Here’s to you, Meir Zarchi, for taking the risk. I only wish it had paid off better.

I am awarding Don’t Mess With My Sister ONE AND A HALF STARS out of FIVE.

Meir Zarchi would not dirrect another film until 2019’s I Spit On Your Grave: Deju Vu. I will get around to checking that one out soon.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

23
Jan
20

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

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a Primal Root written review

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

 

 

 

 

21
Jan
20

(SFW) Spookies (1986) or Billy Learned The Truth at age 13

 

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“Uuuuuuhh, look at me: I’m Duke, the horny ghost!” – Duke, Spookies (1986)

a Primal Root written review

As an only child of the 80’s my mind is littered with memories of weekends spent at local video stores in the town where I grew up, Tallahassee, Florida. Nothing beat the thrill of an early Friday evening after school, ordering up a cheesy, greasy, sloppy pizza and heading to the video store to peruse the shelves for a new VHS adventure to waste my weekend with either with a fried over or totally on my own.  I would head past the New Release section and head straight to the Horror shelf where the most lurid, colorful and creative covers were. I would pick up every single box, gaze at the covers and their suggestive artwork and just let my imagination run wild simultaneously psyching myself up for what I might choose to take home with me that weekend. In the halcyon days of the video rental store era, when there was money to be made and stores were a dime a dozen and each store had THOUSANDS of titles to choose from, the cover art of a movie could make or break a tape. Just like the posters for Drive-In films of the past, you had to reel your audience in with artwork that promised something truly astounding.

One such VHS cover that branded itself on my brain and was always around at every damn video store I’ve ever been to, the 1986 nightmare fever dream…SPOOKIES.

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Direct your eyes to the poster heading this review created by comic artist Richard Corben. Imagine your tiny eight year old hand clutching the tape that contained the movie THAT artwork was based on? The lovely woman with huge breasts straining to pop out of her white dress as she is surrounded by a variety of creepy, weird creatures that seem to have no real connection to one another. There’s a grim reaper looking guy, a little goblin creature, someone with light popping out of her head and other undefinable atrocious monstrosities that leave your young mind spinning at the possibilities! And then there’s the bizarre face looking over this scene, with glowing red eyes and mouth that looks like it might be full of blood and what looks to be a bloody would to the middle of his forehead. What the Hell are Spookies and what in the world could it ever possibly be about. All I knew was that if the case contained Blood, Breasts and Beasts, it was going home with me, because that was the promise of an unforgettable late night and a fantastic story for the kids at school Monday morning. “Guess what I watched this weekend?”

Full disclosure, Spookies freaked me the fuck out when I was a kid and I think it’s due almost entirely to the face that it’s two movies in one. It began life as a film entitled Twisted Souls written and directed by Brendan Faulkner and Thomas Doran. However, during post-production, creative differences flared up between the filmmakers and their producers, and ANOTHER director, Eugenie Joseph, was hired on to film additional scenes with new actors which would change the film into something else entirely. He added several different subplots and excised over 45 minutes of the original film to create what we now know as SPOOKIES. And, to be perfectly honest, it gives the film a kind of unhinged nightmare logic quality that three me off entirely as a child. It did not follow the rules established by countless other horror films I had seen, so you just never knew what was going to happen, and to me, that is certainly a strength.

The film begins with a little kid named Billy (Alec Nemser) running away from home through the forest. His parents forgot his birthday, so he’s ditching them for the life of a homeless teenage idiot. He, of course, ends up getting stalked by a werecat guy in a golden vest who moves his face around as much as possible to make the latex creature stuff attached to his face seem like his actual face, but it instead just makes him look like a spaz. Billy meets a creepy drifter guy who instantly reminded me of Kiefer Sutherland from Lost Boys, who mocks Billy for being a stupid teenage runaway with nice shoes, clean clothes and an optimistic outlook on life. You think this drifter character is going to come in handy later as either a hero or villain, but as soon as Billy wonders off deeper into the woods, the drifter’s face is shredded into coleslaw by the ever present werecat. Billy ends up in an old, seemingly abandoned mansion and finds a room all decked out for his birthday…but there’s no one there. Not only that, but the balloons don’t have helium and are ties to the ceiling, there’s a moaning baby doll in a chair and teleporting toy robots and being the idealistic idiot that he is, Billy thinks this is a surprise birthday party his parents planned…even though there’s no one there and it’s creepy as shit. So, Billy opens a large present he thinks might be a bowling ball, only to find the severed head of the sorcerer sitting there waiting to wish him a happy birthday. Kind gesture? Sure. But it understandably terrifies Billy who runs off in the wilderness where is is pursued, once again,by the cat man who eventually corners Billy, slashes his face to ribbons, tosses the little boy into an open grave and buries the struggling boy alive, killing him.

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This scene fucked me up as a kid who loved playing in the woods at night living in the heavily wooded suburbs. I could easily put myself in his shoes and wanting to expect the best from my situation only to find myself missing most of my face and being suffocated to death on mouthfuls of heaping shovel scoops of dirt. See what I mean about the nightmare logic of SPOOKIES? It makes about as much sense as your standard childhood nightmare, only you’d wake up as soon as that first fling of dirt hit you in your bloody, stupid, face. In any other film, that kid would have ended up becoming the sidekick of some adult character who showed up. or would end up being the star, booby trapping monster and shit. No. Not in Spookies. In Spookies the 13 year old child dies along and afraid. His parents obviously don;t care about him or love him and he is now gone forever. Dead and buried in an unmarked grave by a catman, never to be mentioned, thought of or cared about for the remainder of the film. Now children, what do you think THAT felt like? It’s cruel, and awesome to 37 year old The Primal Root, but when I was just a Jim Henson’s Trash Cinema Baby, that whole sequence fucked me up real good and proper to the point I lost sleep over it and would get REAL nervous in the woods I used to play in without hesitation. Anyway, enough about me. Lets get back to SPOOKIES!

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We are soon introduced to our cast of victims who are driving around looking for a party out in the middle of nowhere, where do they end up? Of course, the old haunted mansion where Billy came upon the most surprising surprise party of his short life.  The mansion is inhabited by The Sorcerer whose name is Kreon (Felix Ward) and is on the verge of bringing his beautiful dead wife, Isabelle (Maria Pechukas) back to life once the final victims are sacrificed, namely, this new group of “teenagers” and adults looking to party. There’s the three piece suit wearing elder statesman of the group, Peter (Peter Dain), who is constantly butting heads with the “teenage” tough guy, horndog, and bizarrely placed zipper enthusiast, Duke (Nick Gionta) who also happens to take them to this haunted death trap mansion in the middle of nowhere. Along for this trip to Hell is Linda (Joan Ellen Delaney) Duke’s poor girlfriend, the ginger in the tiny periwinkle blue top with the massive tits she never pops out of the chute for us, Meegan (Kim Merrill) who is attached to Peter and I assume is his wife. There’s another couple, Dave and Adrienne (Anthony Valbiro & Charlotte Alexandra) who suffer from Rich being highly insecure and freaking out all the time over Adrienne controlling everything he does even though all she does is watch him freak out. There’s the obligatory joker/idiot Rich Peter Iasillo Jr) who spends the movie tripping over thing, dropping things, making poor jokes and even poorer decisions. My favorite character, Louis, who as I recall has two lines before being sucked down into own grave and dying before the action even really gets started and is never mentioned or again, let alone, mourned.  Also, odd lady out, Carol (Lisa Friede) Who starts not feeling well at the mansion, gets possessed by Kreon and uses a special Ouija board to unleash a bouquet of highly creative and vicious practical effect monsters to track them down and kill them one by one.

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The Gang knows their lives are in mortal danger and decide to split up to find a way out of this death trap. Some search around while others find secluded rooms to stay fully dressed and fall asleep in before being savagely gnawed upon by Hell beasts. Spookies quickly becomes a cornucopia of freakish blood thirsty hellions dead set on killing off every last cracker in the house. There’s a legion of little reptilian snake demons, a seductive, blood draining Arachnid Woman, a giant lizard man that shoot out head melting electric tentacles, a scythe wielding Grim Reaper and even a trio of chronically flatulent Much Men who rise from the floor of the win cellar and fart like Grandpa after Christmas dinner, you know, fast, furious, loud and with a vengeance.  Not only this, but there’s a legion of zombies surrounding the mansion, making escape impossible.

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People get lost, massacred, tempers flare, fights break as these characters fight for survival in this colorful, bonkers house of blood lusting horrors and it’s just as much fun as it is absolutely baffling. Add in that tacked on subplot about Kreon and and all his various creatures including CatMan and the Jawaesque Korda (A.J. Lowenthal) Son of Kreon and Isabelle, and Isabelle herself, who NEVER interact with the characters from the original film, Twisted Souls, at all despite being shot in the same location and always appearing nearby. It’s actually fun watching how they edit around two totally different stories being told but having to be meant to interact with one another. Towards the end of the film, the plot is left hanging when it comes to our group of party animals that must all be killed in order to give Isabelle life. Some supernatural event occurs where they all begin to age rapidly, an item is thrown, lightning enters a character’s eyes and that’s the last we see of them. Are they dead? Wounded? Senior Citizens? Monsters? What the Hell happened? Instead of us ever finding out, we are treated to an extended zombie chase scene where Isabelle’s clothes get torn off (though she never shows off the goods) as she tries to escape the clutches of the ghoul who resurrected her, the evil warlock Kreon, after she has seduced him and driven a knife deep into his forehead. Will we get any form of closure or will Spookies leave us wondering what happens next? Because if there’s one thing we know…ambiguity is scary.

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Spookies, man, what a fucking ride. It’s a film that feels like a sugar rush nightmare fueled fever dream filled with wild ideas that head down colorful hallways before being utterly forgotten and left for new ideas down even more colorful hallways. It’s like a horror film with A.D.D. and darkly sadistic sense of humor. Where Don Coscarelli’s Phantasm has a similar fantasy/unreality feel to it, Spookies, to it’s detriment or gain, depending on how you like the movie, due to the production issues and different hired hands and stories being mixed together, proves a much weirder concoction. Is the movie good? Absolutely not, it’s total Trash Cinema. But is it entertaining? Gang, Spookies never lets up. It’s balls to the walls ideas, throw it against the walls to see what sticks creativity mayhem. It;s colorful, it’s sloppy and it SHOULD. NOT. WORK. Seriously, this should have been a failure of the highest order. But it is so goddamn unabashedly manic and willing to do anything and go anywhere, you can’t help but join in the glee and stick with it to see just what insane shit will happen next. To me, that’s a Trash Cinema win of the highest order.

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Spookies is a VHS Video Rental store gem that’s well worth tracking down. If you, or someone you know, is even just mildly curious in cult Trash Cinema, Spookies is a great place to start. It’s a deranged and absolute delight. Unless you’re an overly sensitive and imaginative child living in the woods. Then it’s just good, old fashioned nightmare fodder.

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

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

 

 

 

28
Dec
17

New Year’s Evil: Dropping the Ball

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“It’s been a really bad year for me.” – Richard Sullivan, New Year’s Evil

a Primal Root Review

New Year’s Eve! That oh-so special night when we all come together to celebrate the passing of another year of set backs, horrible crimes against humanity and affronts to moral decency as we fill our bellies and blood streams with excessive amounts of alcohol in the hopes we can some how kill away the pain we feel in losing a portion of ourselves to such a godawful twelve months of our lives. That is, before we wake up New Year’s Day and roll out of our crusty, cold, puddle of puke from the night before, pluck the used condom from out of our assholes, we hope, that maybe…just maybe…, to quote The Counting Craws, this year will be better than the last.

You think of the multitude of traditions associated with this yearly world wide party and all the festive goings on and one wonders how an early 80’s slasher film could go so wrong with using this year end hedonistic smorgasbord go wrong? Well, the makes of New Year’s Evil has found a way!

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It’s New Year’s Eve in Los Angeles and the supposedly “sexy” host of a rock n’ roll call in show called Hollywood Hotline, Diane “Blaze” Sullivan (Roz Kelly), who looks like a Christian soccer Mom got accosted by Hot Topic,   is hosting an all night television New Year’s party where they are celebrating new year’s in every time code. But one caller tells her to call him “Evil” and that he is going to kill someone at every stroke of midnight. Blaze ignores her troubled actor son and focuses on her live telecast responsibilities while trying to get the local police to do their jobs and halt Evil before he kills someone close to her, as he has threatened. This will not be so easy, as the killer is a MASTER OF DISGUISE! Implementing fake mustaches and priest outfits that do very little to change his appearance at all!

As the corpses begin to mount, the cops deduce that Evil is killing one person every hour from 9 to midnight. Will the police be able to track down the killer before the final stroke of midnight and Blaze get snuffed out and is there any hope that they can make this movie the least bit exciting or entertaining?

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Okay, New Year’s Evil is one of the greatest letdowns I’ve ever forced myself to sit through. Where does one even begin? The movie is all over the damn place, and not in a good way. It feels like the filmmakers were scrambling to find ANYTHING interesting to thrill us with but are constantly coming up short. There is absolutely no gore to speak of, literally, non. Zip. Nada. Not only that, but there is hardly any nudity to seduce us with. Listen, if you hardly have a story and don’t have a budget for any kind of gore effects in your mother fucking SLASHER movie, at least throw us a bone and feature some nekkid flesh, because watching shitty bands play terrible music in between people talking on the phone, exchanging clunky, passionless dialog, and literally just waiting for something to happen does not an fun, entertaining, or so-bad-it’s-good piece of Trash Cinema make.

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Kip Niven as Richard Sullivan who we know is Evil from the very beginning does his very best with the material he is given, with varying results. It goes from being dull as a dog turn to unintentionally comical, but he never quite settles on a tone. Grant Cramer as Blaze and Richard’s ignore son and struggling actor is actually pretty fun to watch, although his screen time adds up to about five minutes. One scene that stands out is when he takes some pills, dons a red stocking over his head and begins angrily pulling rose buds off a bouquet he gave his mother.  It’s nothing really special, but in this snooze fest, it actually passes as mildly intriguing. Then there’s Roz Kelly as Blaze, who might be the most poorly cast and most ill equipped actor in the film. The whole films rest squarely on her shoulders, it is her’s to carry and she simply is not up to the challenge. She is supposed to be energetic, down and dirty and fun to be around! She dresses the part but comes off as tired, bewildered and completely out of place during her New Year’s Eve call in television party.

Really, there’s not much to recommend…the scenes meander along and go from one to the other out of duty but you never once sense any kind of passion of the project. You get the vibe that everyone involved is sort of just going through the motions to collect a pay check. There’s no fun to be had, it’s an utterly toothless, literally bloodless feature length film that has nothing to offer even the most easy to please fright fan.

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Okay, well, there is kind of one thing I enjoyed. When it’s “Revealed” that Richard is Evil and he explains his motives to Blaze it’s pretty damn funny. He hates that his wife is so busy and doing so well and flirts with other men and ignores her son. I mean, was a divorce out of the question? He HAD to kill several people who had nothing to do with his shitty marriage? “You’ve castrated me and that is not nice.” Richard explains, like the loser he is. Because his wife is successful and he and their son feel left behind, there just had to be a killing spree… “Women are manipulative and deceitful and immoral and very very selfish” And this is coming from a guy who just killed a half dozen people while is disguise and lying to them simply because he doesn’t like his marital situation.  Not only is this moment a nice little peek into a dark and slimy world of late 70’s misogyny, but a reminder that these kind of guys are still very much a part of the fabric of our loves, just like cotton, here in modern day America. Only they typically resent women for playing leads in remakes of Ghostbusters and are pissed that women are badass Jedi’s now in their Star Wars sequels.

Also, there is one line of darkly brilliant comedy dialog when Richard chains Blaze to the bottom of an elevator, “Enjoy your farewell party tonight. Get smashed!” BWAHAHAHAHA! Oh man, that was good. If only the ENTIRE movie could have been this witty or darkly comical.

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Okay, Richard’s Laurel (of Laurel and Hardy) mask is kind of creepy…

 

In all honesty, this might be the most boring slasher film ever produced. How fucking sad is that? I think I will commence to getting shit faced now. I cannot wait till New Year’s Eve after watching New Year’s Evil…

ONE 1/2 out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

 

12
Jul
15

JAWS: THE REVENGE (1987) This time it’s Meh…

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a Primal Root written review

“Oh, shit.” – Michael Caine as Hoagie in JAWS: The Revenge (1987)

The protective drive of Motherhood is a very powerful thing. The lengths a Mother will go to to protect her young, to save her own, is the stuff of legend and a tale as old as time. There is one sequel I can think of that gets this right, that perfectly illustrated the bond between Mother and child and the deep-seated maternal instinct to protect their blood at any cost. That film is James Cameron’s Aliens (1986). A really shitty example of this is is JAWS: The Revenge. The piss poor 4th and final installment in the long beleaguered killer fish franchise.

JAWS: The Revenge starts our promisingly enough with a dark Yule Tide return to Amity Island where we catch up with The Family Brody. Turns out Police Chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider)  died of a heart attack some time ago, his wife Ellen Brody (Lorraine Gray) is still in town and his youngest son, Sean Brody (Mitchell Anderson), is now an incredibly whiny deputy on the island. A couple days before Christmas a great white shark plants a large piece of driftwood on a channel marker to lure Sean Brody out on his boat and then proceeds to eat the guy by way of really shitty quick editing that leaps from a bloody yellow slicker to close ups of phony shark teeth and footage that repeatedly switches from day to night. Obviously, the production could not afford to create an on screen struggle between man and beast, and instead must rely on these means in a vain attempt to make it appear a horrific attack is occurring.  Poor little ol’ Sean screams for help all along in the dark as several hundred feet away a group of high schoolers sing Christmas carols totally oblivious to the man munching taking place just behind them in the dark water off Amity Island. It’s a brutal, nasty, promising way to start a JAWS film…but it’s all down hill from there.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Ellen Brody, deeply traumatized to the point she laughs her ass off at her own son’s funeral, who is buried in a full size coffin despite the fact you could fit what was left of him into a Happy Meal box, heads to the Bahamas to spend some time screaming at her oldest son Michael (Lance Guest, The Last Star Fighter) and his family to “GET OUT OF THE WATER!” As she is convinced a great white shark is systematically killing off the Brody lineage. That fucking crazy thing about it is SHE’S RIGHT! There is some fucking great white shark out there with a death wish for The Brody Clan. Now, the family relation between this great white shark and the man eating death machines who starred in the previous franchise entries is never revealed, but this beast can somehow hone in on individual members of the Brody bloodline, create elaborate set ups in order to have them in the right place at the right time to attack and can, in fact, teleport and/or travel at warp speed around the earth’s oceans in order to accomplish it’s mission of eating everyone who had something to do with the death of those other killer sharks.

Everyone dies sooner or LADDER! Wokka, wokka, wokka!

Everyone dies sooner or LADDER! Wokka, wokka, wokka!

It’s sheer lunacy and makes not a lick of sense whatsoever, and I am a guy that can suspend my disbelief pretty goddamn far. Anyhoo, this great white shark manages to travel from the cold December waters of Amity Island all the way to the warm, crystal clear waters of The Bahamas in a matter of days to pray upon Michael Brody and his colleagues as they study the migration and mating habits of conchs. It’s really riveting stuff as Michael and his partner Jake (Mario Van Peebles sporting a ridiculous island accent) banter back and forth about how one another’s work sucks. Before long our vendetta shark shows up and starts lunging and chomping as only the most lackluster of animatronic sharks can. The crew decides to keep this news quite as not to alert their worried wives and mothers to the fact a killer shark is trying to settle a score and is after them all. Beside, Ellen Brody is falling madly in love with a pilot/drug smuggler named after my favorite sandwich, Hoagie (Academy Award Winning Thespian Michael Caine, collecting a pay check and soaking up the rays) and is trying to keep her weird sharky sense that causes her to stare intensely towards the ocean and hear bizarre tiger noises to a minimum.

"I'ma fuck you up, Mother Mother Ocean. "

“I’ma fuck you up, Mother Mother Ocean. “

Romance blossoms between Hoagie and Ellen, much to the chagrin of Michael aka: Oedipus, as Michael’s research team tracks the movement of the killer shark, study it, and get attacked and chased around by it in astoundingly silly sequences where the shark moves with the speed and agility of a retarded sloth. These scenes, much like the majority of the film, are an embarrassment to watch and feel like they belong to some half assed movie of the week as opposed to an installment in a cinematic franchise based upon one of the greatest horror films ever made. It is only after the shark cannot seem to wrap it’s JAWS around Michael in a mind numbingly slow chase through a sunken vessel, that is decides to head after Michael adorable little daughter, Thea (Judith Barsi, RIP) as she cruises the waters on the back of a banana boat during the unveiling of her Mother’s modern art piece entitled “Tourist on the Loose.” Thankfully, our Punisher shark decides to take out little Thea and despite all this intricate planning, the shark beyond supernatural ability to target these family members, manages to fucking miss Thea entirely and devours the stunt woman on the back of the banana boat right behind Thea. WHAT THE FUCK, SHARK? I and others have come to a belief, that your heart is not in this. That you don’t have the belly for it.

Fucking sharks...

Fucking sharks…

After this moment of terror where a woman we don;t know is crunched up into chum, Ellen decides to head out to see and kill that bitch shark once and for all! As the ridiculous tot he point of awesomeness ad line says, “This Time It’s PERSONAL!” Ellen makes way out to see before Hoagie, Michael and Jake find her via small air craft just in time Ellen to spout a half assed retread of Martin Brody’s incredible line from the original JAWS, then it was “Smile you son of a BITCH!” only now it’s “Come and get me you son of a bitch.” which made my eyes roll so hard they nearly fell out of their sockets. Hoagie crash lands the plane into the ocean, everyone swims to the boat and they decide to agitate the shark by shoving some doodad down the shark’s gullet and then trigger the doodad with something thingamajig that makes funny noises. I’m not sure what the fuck is going on for sure, or just what the fucking Hell the plan is, but Jake ends up sticking this thing the shark’s gore hole before getting eaten himself. Michael hits the agitator cycle and Ellen steers the sailboat right into the shark which is in mid-leap into the air for some reason. It’s an incredibly lucky shot of Ellen as the sailboat stabs the Revenge Shark right in the self destruct button and the shark actually explodes. Yes, you read that right. The shark gets impaled and then blows up into a huge spray of blood and meaty chunks without having an explosive device of any sort within it’s body. The film then cuts to stock footage from the original JAWS as the carcass of the decimated monstrosity sinks to the sandy bottom of the ocean floor.

What the fuck am I looking at, here?

What the fuck am I looking at, here?

Even less believable, after being last seen almost entirely within the mouth of a great white shark and pouring blood out of numerous deep wounds caused by the crushing jaws filled with razor sharp teeth of the enormous great white shark that is eating him, Jake swims over to the other survivors, spouts a few witty quips as he bleeds tremendous amounts of blood into the ocean…and survives.  Cut to Hoagie flying back to Amity Island as all the survivors smile and wave. The End.

I'm fine.

I’m fine.

JAWS: The Revenge has the kernel of a cool idea and start off promisingly enough with that cool and mean spirited return to Amity Island. But the ridiculous concept that a shark is on some kind of quest for retribution against those who have wronged it’s species sinks the film under it’s own stupidity. I honestly enjoyed the brief glimpse of Amity Island during it’s Christmas celebration and seeing some familiar faces amongst the Islanders, even the oddly staged death of Sean Brody is pretty nifty. For all it’s countless flaws, JAWS: The Revenge has it’s heart in the right place even if nothing else is.  JAWS: The Revenge desperately wants to be every bit the worthiest of sequels to the original masterpiece, JAWS, evidenced by all the goddamn homages and sepia toned flash backs to the original film that constantly take you out of JAWS: The Revenge and makes you wonder why you aren’t simply watching the far superior JAWS.

Too serious for it’s own good and never campy enough to be enjoyed as a B-Movie, JAWS: The Revenge is a pretty slow and dreary affair when it’s not being totally batshit insane as is the case with the film’s ending. However, JAWS: The Revenge is the one film in the franchise that did what none of the others managed to do; kill off the JAWS franchise once and for all.

That is, until JAWS 19 which should be coming out later in 2015. In holovision, no less.

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I award JAWS: The Revenge ONE and a HALF out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets

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

24
Nov
13

Motel Hell (1980): Hearts in the Right Place…The Meat Grinder

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a Primal Root review

“Sometimes I wonder about the karmic implications of these actions.” -Farmer Vincent

With Thanksgiving mere days away,  I begin contemplating  good old fashioned family values and the anticipation of devouring finely prepared, mouth watering, slaughtered animals. Hell, there’s nothing better than celebrating your thankfulness with the ones you love than by roasting the carcass and then sinking your teeth into the delicious flesh of the traditional Thanksgiving turkey, honey cured ham, or human torso. After all, as Farmer Vincent says, “Meat’s Meat and a Man’s gotta Eat.”

This is the central conceit of Kevin Connor’s 1980 black comedy horror masterpiece, “Motel Hell”, the story of a family Motel and Meat curing business torn asunder by the meddling of outsiders who just don’t understand their ways.  Tall, white haired, skinny as a rail Farmer Vincent (Rory Calhoun, charming as ever) and his large, imposing, deranged sister Ida (Nancy Parson, Coach Balbricker from Porky’s!) run the rural Motel Hello and adjacent Farmer Vincent’s Smoked Meats stand. Their meat and down home hospitality are legendary to those who grew up int he area, and tourists come from far and wide to get a taste at Farmer Vincents secret recipe… I have a feeling you know where I’m going with this, it ain’t just an extra dash of Tabasco in those cocktail weenies!

Yeeeeah, I think I'm gonna go find a Ramada...

Yeeeeah, I think I’m gonna go find a Ramada…

Vincent and Ida spend their evenings laying out intricate traps in order to capture unwary travels who make the mistake of passing near their homestead int he middle of the night. Once they’ve nabbed their prey, those poor souls are interred in the sibling’s “secret garden” and go through a very special procedure to prepare their succulent human flesh for the famous family recipe giving their cured meats that one of a kind flavor. As Farmer Vincent cheerily exclaims, “It Takes All Kinds of Critters, To Make Farmer Vincent’s Fritters!”  The two siblings seems to have a real good thing going, the business sis booming, their little brother and local law enforcement officer, Bruce, has no idea what they’re up to and there’s no lack of dim witted heathens to run off the road and turn into beef jerky treats. But it’s when Vincent takes in one of his victims, the lovely Terry (Nina Axelrod) and decides it might be a good idea to settle down that their whole cannibalistic world begins caving in.

Now, before I go and give you the idea that Vincent and Ida are both out of control backwoods psychopaths ala The Texas Chainsaw Massacre family, let me state that these are two of the most friendly, accommodating and thoughtful human flash slurping cannibals in cinematic history. These two are concerned with making their victim’s, er, livestock’s slaughter as painless as possible, and go through some bizarrely comical means in order to make sure of this. Hell, they even have lovely introspective conversations where they ponder the karmic implications of their work and whether or not they will be remembered fondly for the work they do on the farm. Vincent and Ida are murderers, plain and simple, but one cannot help like this introspective, God fearing duo.  Hell, later in the film when Terry starts flashing her tits and Vincent and tries to make out with the old man, he stops her and insists they should be married before there will be such hanky-panky. Could you ever imagine Leatherface doing this? Hell, head probably start hollering, tearing his hair out and rev up his chainsaw…Not Farmer Vincent, that guy’s got one strong, if deeply flawed, moral compass.

don't worry, I'll send the Christ cuts to Hebrew National.

Don’t worry, I’ll send the Christ cuts to Hebrew National.

In one stand out scene from ‘Motel Hell”, Farmer Vincent, Ida, and younger brother and lawman Bruce, tell Terry a down home story about how their long dead Grandmother was the one who taught Vincent everything he knows about curing and smoking meats out of necessity since the family didn’t have an icebox. One day, when Granny was sick and tired of a neighbor’s dog constantly barking, she asked Vincent to go take care of it. Vincent chuckles as he recalls throwing the dog in the meat smoker and serving it up for dinner. Ira and Bruce both chuckle and join in, recalling how the meat was a bit like goat meat, only stringier, as Terry looks on in stunned disbelief before chocking it up to simple hillbilly behavior.  Farmer Vincent justifies his actions by quoting his Granny, “Meat is Meat and a Man’s Gotta Eat!”

Really, being raised with such a mentality it’s totally understandable that Vince and Ida don’t see a difference between the meat of animals and the meat of human beings. Int he end, really, what is the difference? The slaughter, clean and cut up the meat just the same as all the others int he smoke house. It’s just business, nothing personal, plus it gives them their one of a kind flavor which makes them stand out from the competition! It’s literally a dog eat dog world in Motel Hell, as our homicidal duo take care in selecting those they feel don’t contribute to society like bikers, metal bands, working girls, swingers and FDA inspectors, and add them to the ever growing mouth watering deathloaf. Even though the public has no knowledge of the human content in their smoked meats, at least they can rest easy knowing here are no chemicals or preservatives in the product they just ate. Hey, that’s just good, down home quality! Who has time to worry if a couple members of that missing hair band you saw last week are in that jerky stick?

Grazing in the grass is a gas, baby, can you dig it?

Grazing in the grass is a gas, baby, can you dig it?

As we all expected from the beginning, Terry wonders into the smokehouse and stumbles onto the big family secret and end sup bound, gagged and listening to Vincent’s fundamentalist dogma as he explains why it is he does what he do all while chopping a human body into hot dog meat. Vincent goes on to explain that he’s helping out the human condition by controlling over population and handling the food shortage problem all in one fell swoop. “What gives you the right to play God?” Terry asks. “Play God? I wouldn’t even know where to start! I’m just helping out.”  It’s a strange “Greater Good, God’s Plan” argument I feel many folks on the political right could totally get behind, especially when espoused by such a seemingly down to earth and loveable folk hero as Farmer Vincent. Hell, we all have to make sacrifices, right? Might as well be the working class that won’t be missed!

As soon as the heroic, if incredibly dumb and rapey, Bruce bursts into the smokehouse to save the day, “Motel Hell” dives head first into it’s absurd, surrealist underpinnings and bursts through the floodgates with blood spattered jubilant glee as Farmer Vincent dons a severed pigs head, picks up his chainsaw and engages his little brother in chainsaw, to chainsaw combat while laughing like a maniac the entire time. It’s graphic, it’s goofy, it’s gory and unlike anything I’ve seen before or since in the annals of American backwoods cannibal horror cinema. It feels like some kind of blood drenched fever dream you would have after consuming to much Christmas ham and then getting a stomach bug. My words fail to do the finale of “Motel Hell” justice, you’ve gotta see it to even begin to comprehend it.

Babe III: The Reckoning

Babe III: The Reckoning

“Motel Hell” is a queer duck of a horror film. It delivers the horror and the comedy, but it doesn’t exactly mix and ends up more often than, simply being absurd. I laughed my ass either way,  as this is some truly peculiar, yet, entertaining food for thought.  Try not to fall in love with Farmer Vincent and Ida, I dare ya. Those two are such fantastic, memorable characters, you’ll find yourself deeply saddened to see them go by film’s end.

So, this Thanksgiving, be thankful for your family, friends and take a closer look at that dead thing you’re shoveling into your face. you never know just who might be over for dinner.

Four and a Half out of 5 Dumpster Nuggets. Root highly recommends you spend a night at “Motel Hell!”

Stay Trashy!

-Root




Dumpster Diving

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