Posts Tagged ‘Monster

03
Apr
20

Uninvited (1987): Kitty Carnage On The Open Sea!

Uninvited poster

 

“Nothing’s going to stop me from getting to The Caymans!” George Kennedy as Mike Harvey in Uninvited

a Primal Root written review

Man, what I wouldn’t give for a trip across the deep blue sea in an enormous private yacht with a few bikini clad women by my side taking us all the way to the Cayman Islands for a bit of the old social distancing from a world falling apart at the seams. But, as it turns out I’m not a wealthy criminal scum bag, so this will have to remain a fantasy rather than beautiful reality. Thank goodness there are movies like 1987’s direct to video schlock classic, Uninvited, to help indulge me in this minor dream of paradise. Well, except there happens to be a radioactive mutant cat on board that’s vicious and has a bite that’s fatally poisonous and there is a trio of criminals running the yacht as fast as possible to the Cayman Islands in order to pick up a ton of money they garnered from their illegal white collar crimes…Okay, besides the boat, the trip and the bikinis…and possibly the fresh fruit platter in one of the early scenes, there’s very little this movie has in common with my current quarantine fantasies.

Anyhoo, Uninvited was directed by none other than the legendary master of low grade cheese, Greydon Clark, who is a familiar name to any trash cinema connoisseur or Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan, having lended is immeasurable skills to such classics as 1979’s Angel’s Brigade aka: Angel’s Revenge, the 1985 Joe Don Baker vehicle Final Justice, the 1983 arcade sex comedy Joysticks and the 1977 Satanic classic, Satan’s Cheerleaders, so you know what you’ve signed up for if you’re sitting down for a viewing. The rest of you better hold on to your pussies.

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The film begins with the opening credits unspooling over some guys in lab coats waving a syringe around a fluffy British Shorthair kitty. They inject the cat with some mysterious radioactive elixir and can makes a break for it out the OPEN DOOR to their top secret experimental laboratory. The kitty makes it’s way to the stairwell where it barfs up a monstrous, bigger, poisonous version of itself, which lays waste to a half dozen gun toting security team guys sent to capture the kitten, leaving the stairwell walls covered in blood. The mad scientists grab their guns and try to track the cat down in the parking garage only to be ripped to pieces before the cat gets into the air duct, unscrews a grate and escapes to the streets.

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Meanwhile, two incredibly fuckable young ladies, Suzanne (Shari Shattuck from 1989’s Death Spa) and Bobbie (Clare Carey from 1988’s Waxwork) show up to a fancy pants resort and are immediately spotted by wealthy criminal business man, Walter Graham (Alex Cord, probably best known for the TV series Airwolf) who buys the two ladies dinner then invites them to a private party on his yacht. Of course, the guy has money and has bought them food, so they are more than eager to slob his knob and live the highlife for a bit until Captain Moneybags grows tired of them and throws them overboard for a younger model. First, Graham must have a business meeting with his goons, Mike (George Kennedy, from The Naked Gun and Just Before Dawn) and Albert (Clu Gulager, from Return of the Living Dead and A Nightmare on Elm Street part 2: Freddy’s Revenge, who is wearing a really goofy set of Bubba teeth in this role which really sells his…colorful character) so they can drown a business associate in the yacht’s hot tub.

In the meantime, our poisonous mutant cat is roaming all over town murdering assholes, which seems to be the plague cat’s M.O. The kitte seems friendly to those who feed it, but takes pleasure in dealing out violent, bloody radioactive death to those who hurt those who are kind to it. Several scum bags end up shredded to ribbons, poisoned an/or exploded in their cars before the kitty makes it’s way towards the marina where Graham is docked…

Cut to the next morning where we are introduced to three dorky guys sitting at the same marina where Graham has his yacht and Suzanne and Bobbie are staying. These three dorks are Martin, Lance and Corey.  Martin is a biologist, Corey a yuppie and Lance is just a huge dork in a Hawaiian shirt looking to get laid. They sit around sipping orange juice until Suzanne and and Bobbie show up in their fetching bikinis and invite them to join them onboard Graham’s yacht for some fun.

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Okay, I have a few issues with this already. Not with the cat barfing up a furry, fanged, radioactive monster, but with the human interactions on display.

Number One: When does this ever happen? Two women make a b-line straight to three obviously horny doofuses and invite them to party with them? No names exchanged, no greetings, just “Hey, you’re cute, want to party and protect us in the case a millionaire criminal might possibly decide to assault us? ” They actually mention that, by the way. “You look like you’ll be able to protect us if Graham tries anything.” Huh? Who are you and what are you talking about?  Are you paying us? Are you prostitutes and we’re having to pay you? What is the situation, here? At least tell me your name before we head to some strangers yacht! Which brings me to…

Number Two: Who in their right mind invites strangers to the abode of someone you’ve just met? Without even clearing it with them! This is the epitome of shitty manners which shows no consideration and total disrespect for the person who extended their hand and invited you and your friend, and only the two of you, aboard their yacht. Imagine you’ve invited just a friend or two over and without telling you they invite a group of folks over to your house that you do not know and just show up with them. Not asking you, just showing up at your house with strangers. It’s a fucking jerk thing to do and I already can’t stand anyone in this movie.

Number Three: WHAT ABOUT THE PRIVATE PARTY! There’s all this talk and build up to the awesome party on this yacht and WE NEVER GET TO WITNESS IT! Apparently it’s going to be this blow out event on the yacht, probably with booze, debauchery, topless ladies, donkey shows, etc. But the audience is not important enough to join the festivities. We just weren’t sexy enough to invite. Fuck these guys.

Anyway, on with the review.

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Of course, the eager young guys accept the invitation and head out to the rich guy’s yacht with the two bikini clad beauties, one of which discovers our dangerously cute and cuddly radioactive science experiment monster cat at the marina. Suzanne clutches the kitty against her ample bosom and decides the kitty is coming aboard Graham’s yacht for the pleasure cruise, despite the cat obviously not wanting to go anywhere, let alone be held, as it squirms desperately trying to get out of Suzanne’s bubble blonde clutches. Young biologist Martin notices the kitty has a testing facility tag on it, but tosses it aside assuming the cat is fit as a fiddle and SURELY hasn’t been experimented upon with some terribly virus or toxic chemicals that will kill himself, his friends and these bodacious babes. We’re young, YOLO, let’s get this party started!

I-Mockery.com | Uninvited - A Horror Film About A Mutant Killer ...

We learn quickly from the yacht’s young captain, Rachel (Toni Hudson from Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III and School Spirit) that during the party we never witnessed, Graham lost his temper, berated the crew, and they all quit except for her. Which works out well, since these new, uninvited guests climb aboard THEY can earn their keep by being the new crew as they flee for The Cayman Islands as Albert delivers the news that The Feds are closing in on the yacht! So, this motley crew or young kid who just want to eat, dance and fuck, the old geezer criminals who cannot stop talking about getting to “The Caymans” and the poor little captain with heart of gold and a deep desire to own the yacht that once belonged to her Father but was purchased away from the family by the evil, greedy, Graham, tries her best to keep all this shit under control.

Cat Rifftrax Uninvited GIF by RiffTrax - Find & Share on GIPHY

 

But it doesn’t take long for it all to go right to shit as Albert takes over Captain duties for about fifteen minutes in which time he manages to get wine drunk and take the whole voyage way of course before spitting wine all over the monster kitty and paying the ultimate price for his rudeness when the little kitty opens it’s jaws and lets out the malicious mutant cat…living in it’s stomach? The science really made abundantly clear, but Albert gets a good potion of his throat stripped out, but what remains begins to pulsate violently before he falls overboard to become shark food. Soon, the trip to The Cayman’s has been delayed as Rachel makes the call to go back and look for Albert, which lead to Mike pulling a gun on all these”young punks” and proclaims “NOTHING  IS GONNA STOP ME FROM GETTING TO THE CAYMANS!” before the vicious monster cat nearly bites his foot off. Mike lays on the couch for a while as everyone screams at each other, which is hysterical, because all through the scene you hear George Kennedy’s deep voice moaning and groaning as everyone else argues and it sounds just like he’s getting an incredibly good blow job just off screen. That is, until his stomach starts pulsating and something starts emerging just beneath the skin. The entire group gathers and huddles real close over Mike’s warped body as something inside his stomach begins rising up like an eternal boner, and it looks like we’re about to get another Alien chest burster sort of scene, but Mike dies, the internal stomach boner subsides and we are left wishing we had gotten to see a blood geyser and head into the rest of the film feeling more disappointed than we were when we missed the yacht party earlier in the film.

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The monster cat is known, the remaining crew of the SS Evil Pussy is dead in the water after the engine over heated and shut off, emotions are running high, food and fresh water are running out and it’s only a matter of time until the Toxic Kitten…starts to get hungry…

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Uninvited is a shockingly fun little monster movie which relies heavily on it’s great cast of talent who genuinely make the film way better than it has any right to be, selling a killer rubber furry cat monster puppet like it we JAWS. It’s goofy fun that doesn’t make a lick of sense, but as the characters grow more desperate an unhinged aboard their stranded, doomed yacht, their performances really come to life and they totally sell their dilemma, which I know few of us have ever experienced in real life. The effects are rudimentary, but add the charm of the overall experience, which I can guarantee, you will never go through outside of Uninvited. It’s a one of a kind horror of the high seas survival film with an obviously minimal budget, but a cast and crew willing to go the distance to deliver. Only drawback, and it’s one of the greatest detriments to the film, the are absolutely no tits in this film. None of the actresses are willing to bare anything in this low rent straight to video horror film. I turned to my wife about three quarters of the way through this flick and mentioned it, “Man, I honestly don’t think we are going to see a single bare breast in this thing!” Sure, the girls tease the boys and the audience with the promise of tits to come, but the moment never occurs. And honestly, I almost didn’t notice because the movie is such a strange voyage into absurdist horror that I was thoroughly entertained to the point of not really caring. I wanted to see where the story was going and what was going to happen to this lively group of teeny boppers and AARP members with the pussy punisher roaming freely aboard the ship. For a films to have me nearly forget about boobs is a pretty amazing feat. Plus, there is something eternally endearing about watching cats terrorize and kill people.

I am awarding Uninvited with THREE AND A HALF out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets.

Uninvited is a furry, slimy, straight to video trash schlock fest well worth the voyage. I do recommend if you’ve got a fondness for puppets, great character actors and sense of adventure. A sense of humor will also help you out tremendously. Half a nugget eduction for lack of nudity.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

 

 

 

 

30
Dec
19

Tammy And The T-Rex: Welcome to Jurassic Pork

 

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a Primal Root written review

Who doesn’t love a tragic, tear jerking love story? The classic tale of star crossed lovers longing to be with one another, only to have those desires cut short by the selfish, senseless demands of those around them.  From Romero and Juliet, to Antony and Cleopatra to Return of the Living Dead part III and Bride of Re-Animator, it’s a tale as old as time that caters to universally identifiable feelings of love, longing and loss. And then there are those heartbreaking tales of lost love so unreal, so unapologetically bat shit insane, audiences can’t hardly believe it was conceived, let alone seen to completion. Enter Stewart  Raffill’s 1994 teen romance horror comedy fever dream… Tammy and the T-Rex

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Denise Richards (Left) and Paul Walker (Right)

 Tammy and the T-Rex begins conventionally enough with a burgeoning romance forming between well endowed, vivacious, twenty something high school cheerleader, Tammy (Denise Richards in her first ever starring role) and her hunky football player beau, Michael (Paul Walker, once again, in his first ever feature length film role). Also shoe horned into the opening is Tammy’s best friend, the flamboyant and over the top early 90’s gay stereotype, Byron (Theo Forsett), who is true blue and the most likable character in the film. The chemistry between Tammy and Michael is awkward and goofy, but it does come across like they genuinely want to utilize one another’s genitals for their intended purpose. Only thing is, Tammy has a psychotic, bloodthirsty ex-boyfriend, Billy (George Pilgrim), who initiates a knock down, drag out beat down with Michael within the first five minutes of the film which ends in a brutal, school yard, “testicular stand-off” squeeze-a-thon to prove his undying love for Tammy. It’s a ball squeezing battle unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed in cinema and even takes the presence of  armed police officers (one of which is played by Trash Cinema legend George ‘Buck’ Flower) to intervene. Keep in mind, this is within the film’s first few minutes that all this takes place. The teenage romance, and the risks inherent of their forbidden love, are set and leading to a collision course of violent retribution for even looking at some dipshit’s ex-girlfriend.

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We are also introduced to the story’s mad scientist, Dr. Wachenstein (Terry Kiser, Bernie of Weekend at Bernie’s AND Dr. “Bad News” Crews from Friday the 13th part VII: The New Blood) who longs to achieve immortality by transplanting brains into robots, which is why he has built a giant animatronic Tyrannosaurus Rex run by a computer…Huh? He aspires to give the T-Rex life, but is missing one crucial ingredient, a fresh human brain. This could be a generic kind of villainous roll, but Terry Kiser chews the scenery and make Dr. Wachenstein a lively, fun and memorable scientific madman.

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Leave it to Billy to chase Michael down, throw him in the trunk of his care and abandon him in a nature preserve for filled with ferocious, hungry lions and panthers where Michael is mauled nearly to death by the aforementioned lion. This is creativity under the gun at it’s finest. What a fucking bizarre an unexpected turn of events and a truly dastardly brilliant maneuver by Billy. Leaving some poor guy in a deadly giant feline nature preserve and not tell him where he is? As the song goes, “Welcome to the jungle, baby! You’re gonna DDDDIIIIAAAAYYY!” It’s a stroke of mad unconventional genius and I, for one, was thoroughly impressed by this directorial choice.

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Michael, amazingly, survives being savaged by the lion only to be falsely declared dead by visiting physician Dr. Wachenstein, who then kidnaps Michael, takes him to his laboratory, sprays blood all over his puking assistants as he haphazardly saws Michael’s skull open to demonstrate how if he pokes just the right spot he can make Michael’s dying body get a gigantic boner which he can manipulate and make dance around before he slips Michael’s brain out of his skull cavity and slips it into his robotic T-Rex. What could possibly go wrong?

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You guessed it, everything. While Dr. Wachenstein’s away banging his lady assistant, he leaves his two other goons in charge and as soon a the pizza guy arrives, Michael goes fucking nuts after realizing he is not a robot T-Rex and starts chomping heads off and stomping people to death. Once he breaks loose, Michael makes a B-Line straight for a party where Billy and his posse of maniacal laughers happen to be at. Michael crashes the party, disemboweling and decapitating all those who have wronged him in gloriously bloody, goopy, gratuitously creative fashion.  It’s fun and brutal but also felt a little off kilter for the narrative. Shouldn’t Michael be stalking these goons for the rest of the film and eating them one by one leading up to a final confrontation with Billy? In a more generic film I feel that would be the case, But Tammy and T-Rex is anything but your typical tale of love and revenge. He actually eats everyone responsible for the attack in one blood spattered sequence. Michael even runs into Byron at the party, who is understandably horrified by the situation. When Byron trips and falls to the ground trying to escape the massacre, Michael-Rex actually picks him up, sets Byron on his feet, dusts of his shoulders and walks  away. There’s a genuine moment of suspense here, because you’re not sure right off the bat if Michael is just going to go about killing people indiscriminately, or if he will just be devouring enemies. Much to my relief, he lets the lovable Byron go.

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So, about half way through the film all the bullies are devoured, including Billy, who has his head torn off and somehow partially hollowed out. I imagine an off screen moment where Michael bites Billy’s head off and then cracks Billy’s skull open like a pistachio so Michael-Rex can then scoop the insides out with his dino tongue before hacking the husk out to splatter all over the concrete backyard patio. Anyway, with that conflict over with at the midway point, where is there to go from here? Actually, there’s plenty to do! Michael-Rex terrifies Tammy by showing up at her house, breaking in through her bedroom window and whisking her away to barn in broad daylight where this nubile young woman and a T-Rex play a game of charades until Tammy finally guesses Michael’s brain is alive and living in the body of this robotic T-Rex. Before long Tammy falls in love all over again with Michael as a robotic dinosaur and the hunt is on the find Michael’s brain a new body and thwart Dr. Wachenstein and his remaining minions evil plans! One major question left hanging, at least in my mind, is whether or not Tammy and Michael have sex while he is in his robotic T-Rex form or not. There is a scene in the barn where they are laying together and it is mildly implied something frisky might have been going on during the cutaway. Because when Byron shows up to bring them food and drink, which friends do for friends all the time post coitus, he asks “Is everyone decent?” before entering. I know, I know, I;m probably reading into this way too much, but as a man who has been in audiences for live readings of Dinosaur Erotica, my mind cannot help but wonder to that most forbidden of places…Jurassic Pork. Anyhoo, maybe we can finally get a sequel where this is all made clear. Because, honestly, if they aren’t making the sign of the double backed Pterodactyl by films end, poor Michael must have the worst case of disembodied blue balls in the history of this fictional universe.

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Tammy and The T-Rex is far better than it has any right to be. Honestly, the story is a blast of imagination and utter batshit insanity where any and every concept seems to be throw against the wall to see what sticks, and to my amazement, just about all of it does. Tammy and The T-Rex succeeds in being none stop entertaining in much the same way writer/director Stewart Raffill’s 1988 McDonald’s sponsored E.T. knock off Mac & ME and his misguided Mannequin Two: On The Move turned out to be. They are chock full of bizarre ideas that function on a sort of caffeinated dream logic, just as soon as one mind blowingly surreal moment happens you’re on to another! Sure, this isn’t a recipe for mainstream appeal like your run of the mill Disney output, but for those who thrive on cinema that buck formalities and storytelling conventions, those misfits that the rest of the movie going public reject for being “bad movies,” these are the ones that give us a breath of fresh air as they deliver us something totally outside the expected, something rancid and weird and not fully thought out or planned.

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Tammy and the T-Rex is a perfect example of such a film. It might be considered terrible by those who deem they know better, but the charm of Tammy and The T-Rex IS the flaws and imperfections. It’s Grade A Trash Cinema, and everyone in front of and behind the camera really seem to be giving it their all to make this loony concept work, and that is one of the films saving graces. In all seriousness, these are possibly the best performances I’ve ever seen out of Denise Richards and Paul Walker. When Tammy screams in anguish it is genuine and believable, when she calls Michael on the phone to apologize for her behavior, it doesn’t feel phony, and when she hops around the bedroom doing strip tease in a white teddy, it doesn’t feel forced. It’s cornball, and cheesy, but it never has that feel of a disingenuous trash. No, this is the real deal where it’s obvious the folks making it were having fun and trying to deliver something entertaining and as good as they could make it. Tammy and The T-Rex is an absolutely charming and lovable piece of Trash Cinema and one I am thrilled has finally found the light of day fully restored on Blu-Ray, uncut and uncensored, by the good folks at Vinegar Syndrome. 

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Tammy and The T-Rex is a MUST WATCH for fans of Trash Cinema. It’s like Beverly Hills 90210 meets Jurassic Park by way of Robocop and Ghost‘s illegitimate love child and it is good, trashy, mindless fun from start to finish.  

I award Tammy and the T-Rex FOUR AND A HALF out of FIVE DUMPSTER NUGGETS. 

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

25
Dec
18

Bootsie Kidd: Trashmas Devil Girl 2018 (NSFW)

Trashmas Devil Girl Bootsie Kidd is here to fill your Trashmas with pain and pleasure!

Merry Trashmas, Gang! It’s you pal, The Primal Root, bringing you your ferocious, sultry, blood thirsty Trashmas Devil Girl 2018, Bootsie Kidd! A devious, diabolical, and divine package of voluptuous sensuality, Bootsie Kidd is bring the legend of Krampus to vicious, yuletide life! Fest your eyes and have yourselves a very merry Trashmas, Gang!

Stay Trashy, -Root

Photography by Kayla King of Rewski Photography

 

31
Oct
18

(NSFW) Setsuka: Devil Girl of Halloween

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

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

10
Feb
16

Phantom of the Paradise (1974): Salutations from the Other Side

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a Primal Root written review

I’ve long held that the golden age of American horror cinema stretched from the late 1960’s to the end of the 1970’s. It was an age when turmoil, violence and change was in the air. Filmmakers of the day were shaken and inspired by the horrifying, nightmarish world around them, internalized this terror and in the end brought it out of the darkness as some of the most devastatingly influential horror films the world will ever witness.  There is one other genre that happened to thrive in the 1970’s, one I know far less about, and that is the Rock Opera.

Flicks like Tommy, Jesus Christ Superstar, Grease, The Wiz not to mention, The Rocky Horror Picture Show would either garner rave reviews and great success or go on to become beloved cult films the world over. However, some fell by the wayside and are just now starting the reemerge and find recognition as beautiful cinematic oddities they are. And there is none I am more proud to see finally garnering the praise it has long deserved, Brian de Palma’s 1974 film, Phantom of the Paradise.

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Phantom of the Paradise blends the horror trappings of The Phantom of the Opera and Faust together and give it a glam rock makeover serving as a dark comic satire of the entertainment industry. Phantom tells the tale of Winslow Leech (William Finley in an awesome performance) a young and naive composer looking to make it big with his life long work, a cantata based on the legend of Faust. No sooner does the the owner of Death Records, an utterly charming, smooth talking, calm, collected and utterly malevolent man who has sold his soul to The Devil and goes by the name of Swan (Paul Williams) hear Winslow’s music does he find a way to steal it, exploit it and turn it into pop music garbage to open his long delayed rock palace, The Paradise, with. Swan frames Winslow and has him sent to jail where he is volunteered for an experiment which requires him to have all his teeth removed and replaced with new metallic chompers.  It isn’t long before Winslow hears his own composition on the radio, recreated as a turd of a pop song, and flees from prison. In a psychotic rage Winslow breaks into Death Records, ends up getting disfigured in a vinyl record press, vanishes into the night and is presumed dead…But soon after his disappearance a masked phantom begins stalking the darks hallways and backstage at The Paradise, determined to rain murderous vengeance upon all of those who have hurt and betrayed him.

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Along the way, The Phantom ends up becoming infatuated and falling in love with a young, inexperienced but quite talented singer named Phoenix (Jessica Harper), the only person The Phantom permits to sing his work. Anyone else who tries, he promises, will be killed. Of course, Swan makes the decision to have The Phantom’s music performed by what he considers to be the future of music, a glam rock monster who goes by the name of Beef (Gerrit Graham, who is funny as shit in the role). Despite mid shower plunger to the gob warning from The Phantom, Beef is convinced to perform as scheduled…

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Phantom of the Paradise functions as great piece of anti-establishment satire against the soulless corporatization of art and artists alike. Not only this, but Phantom is also a full on musical, complete with song and dance routines, with every song written and composed by Paul Williams. These elements together do nothing but accentuate the strangeness of the film, it’s so bizarre, so daring and so breathlessly creative, it leaves the viewer’s mind reeling. All this quirky genre blending and tonal shifts leaves us with an unexpectedly heart wrenching musical tragicomedy. I can think of few other films that achieve this level of absurdity and poignancy.

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Still with me? I know the description above may sound a bit overwhelming, and indeed, there is a whole lot to take in with Phantom of the Paradise. It is sensory overload, but in the best possible way you can imagine. Despite the film’s litany of references to other cinematic greats, (Touch of Evil and Psycho, to mention just the tip of the iceberg) Phantom of the Paradise is among the most singular and unique films ever made. Any attempt at synopsis can only do Phantom so much justice, because the heart of the film lies in the experience of watching it. It is very often compared to The Rocky Horror Picture Show, released a year after Phantom of the Paradise, and if I am being honest, the two couldn’t be more different. I suppose it is more inviting to spend time with a group of people basking in their own carnal desires than with a group of tortured artists who sold their soul for rock and roll. It’s just a damn shame Phantom of the Paradise never quite caught on in the states. Of course, I’ve heard the film is fucking HUGE in Canada. And, in face, the two fellows from Daft Punk, according to Paul Williams, met at a screening of Phantom of the Paradise! But that has nothing to with anything…just a cool bit of trivia.

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However, in a way, I kind of hope it remains a hidden gem that exists just below the radar. This way it will never be over exposed to the point of nausea or run into the ground to the point of tedium. Phantom of the Paradise is much beloved by those drawn to it’s peculiar story, dark, comedic, enchanting characters, beautiful songs and unchained artistry. Phantom is a film every bit as much for the misfits as Rocky Horror, but with a much more tragic and lyrical fantasy narrative. You cannot help but feel pity and sympathy for Winslow and righteous indignation once he is transformed from sweet Winslow to the pained and murderous Phantom and finds his revenge. One cannot find something darkly funny about Swans form of easy going, suave, laid back evil as he knowingly manipulates those around him to his bidding, feel sadness as Phoenix is corrupted by fame and absolute astonishment at the the radical comedic performance of Gerrit Graham as Beef.

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Phantom of the Paradise is a marvel of a film. Brian de Palma, Paul Williams and company have crafted something so different, so daring that mainstream audiences had no idea what to make of it. A film so beautiful, poetic, energetic and well played is obviously becoming relic. A thing of the not too distant past, when artistry, creativity and taking chances we heralded above ticket sales and domestic box office grosses. I suppose it’s no big surprise at this point for me to reveal Phantom of the Paradise would rank as one of my top 5 favorite movies of all time. It’s a story of love, passion, betrayal, revenge and possibly redemption set to some of the grooviest goddamn songs to ever be featured in a motion picture. A story of how monsters are created and the good guys and bad guys we all have the potential to be. For those who have never seen it, I recommend highly recommend checking it out, but keep in mind it is not everyone’s cup of glitter. For those of us who adore the film, it;s always worth heading over the The Paradise from time to time and witnessing one of the funniest, most lyrical, most enjoyable tragic love stories ever told.

I’m awarding Phantom of the Paradise 5 out of 5 Dumpster Nuggets.

Stay Trashy, Gang!

-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

06
Jul
15

JAWS 3-D (1983) Shitty Day at Zzzz World

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a Primal Root written review

“If he wouldn’t have pulled that old crotch trick, he never would have won.” Lea Thompson as Kathryn Morgan, JAWS 3-D

Man, the 1980’s were the golden age of franchise slasher flicks. Paramount pictures struck gore soaked gold with the all night escapades of Mr. Jason Voorhees, New Line would redefine bed pissingly terrifying nightmares with Wes Craven’s greatest achievement, A Nightmare on Elm street even gents like Michael Myers, Aliens Norman Bates and Leatherface caught their second wind in the 1980’s to varying degrees of success. So, how in the world could the third installment to the massively popular and overwhelmingly effective thrill ride that was JAWS fair in the decade of excess? The elements are all there, the setting is Sea World where there is a plethora of victims to choose from! Tourists, water skiers, assholes in Shamu costumes, other aquatic life like dolphins and orcas…Men, Women and Children of all varieties are ripe for the picking! Not only this, but this flick is in THE THIRD DIMENSION! So the action, the terror, the blood, the snaggle toothed gaping black hold of death will come floating right at us! How could this fail?

The Answer? Spectacularly.

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The flick opens with some undersea footage of fish swimming about, minding their own business, when all of a sudden red dye is released into the water and a bizarre munching noise is heard. We are then treated to an extended shot of a decapitated fish head as it’s head reflexively tries to gasp for air…IN 3-D!  It’s just as underwhelming and odd as it sounds. Once this little mystifying bit of stupefyingly mundane cinema is out of our way, our carnivorous friend follows a group of water skiers, led by absolute fox Lea Thompson (Back to the Future, Howard the Duck) into the lagoon around the world’s largest aquatic amusement park, Florida’s Sea World! Before you know it, an engineer goes underwater to chains the gate connecting the lagoon to the ocean shut and mysteriously vanishes. Well, we know he’s dead, as we witness some goofy editing, munching noises and a hilarious 3-D severed arm floating into our face,  but we gotta wait for the characters to catch up. Very late in the film the dead body of this guy floats into view of the tourists in the brand spanking new Sea World underwater kingdom. In the film;s one truly outstanding moments, the dead body comes bobbing into view in one of these underwater observation windows. The young teenage girl who spots him begins screaming her head off and tries to run away, when out of nowhere, a person who remains nameless and faceless, grabs her by the shoulder and shoves the terrified girl’s face against the window so that she is eye to eye with the guy’s gnawed up, water logged corpse. It’s a moment of unintentional dark comic gold and is probably the only thing I can recommend about this JAWS 3-D.

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Sorry, got off track there. Back to the story at hand as it is. The Brody Boys from JAWS and JAWS 2 are back. Sean (John Putch), the younger one, understandably, inherited his Father’s fear of the ocean while older brother Mike (Dennis Quaid) is an engineer at Sea World who designed and constructed and entire undersea kingdom attraction to bring in the tourists. Mike is living in sin with marine biologist/ animal trainer, Dr. Kay (My So-Called Life’s Bess Armstrong). It;s the eve of the grand opening of the undersea kingdom and Sea World owner/reckless idiot, Calvin Bouchard (Academy Award Winning Actor Louis Gossett Jr)  has hired prized game hunter and and world renown wild life photographer Philip FitzRotce (Simon MacCorkindale) to come photograph his water skiers.  Soon, the bodies start piling and our film;s scientists and engineers decide to capture the shark and raise it in captivity as an attraction. Against Dr. Kay’s orders and without her knowledge, Calvin decides to open the attraction about six months early before the great white is ready, and all the attention ends up killing the poor murderous, man eating shark. Unbeknownst to the crew at Sea World that just let their prized exhibit and living creature needlessly die in front of about 200 hundred drooling tourists, this great white was just the baby. Big Mama is now headed to Sea World and there’s going to be Hell to pay!

QUE THE BLOOD DRENCHED CARANGE!

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Eh, of let’s just watch some water skiers fall over before getting rescued. The some bumper boats topple over before their occupants get rescued. Then watch in terror as a raft is ripped apart holding a dozen or so people…and then watch them swim away unscathed. It’s honestly the most bloodless, boring, anticlimactic quest for vengeance featuring a mammoth, human crushing, flesh gnawing great white shark I’ve ever seen committed to film.  The only casualty is Lea Thompson’s thigh, which gets a three inch cut in it. It’s pretty goddamn underwhelming. Things get moderately more interesting as our Big Mama shark decides to bust up the Undersea Kingdom a little bit, flooding the underwater tubes filled with victims. Do any of them die? Not a one. They all survive. Still, watching a bunch of crotchety old people and young actors who suck at this profession scramble for a safe room and then try desperately to out act one another as panicked Florida sight seers. You want to be entertained? Just keep your eyes on the extras in the background.

Our big game hunter, FitzRoyce, devices a plan to trap Big Mama in an underwater tunnel and trap her there. The plan goes along swimmingly as Big Mama takes the bait and has a top speed of about 1/2 MPH. However, FitzRoyce turns out to be a total spazz and somehow finds himself alive inside Big Mama’s stomach. The editing is pretty fucking sketchy there seems to be a moment missing as he is one moment swimming away from the slow, mechanical  shark and the next shot shows him alive floating within Big Mama’s body. He is completely unchewed, but cannot make his way back out from inside of her. IT;s really awkward as Big Mama jus keeps flapping her jaw around and we watching as FitzRoyce flails about. Eventually, Big Mama somehow crunches FitzRoyce to death inside her belly and his blood pours out of her gills. Huh… That’s certainly a new spin on an old trick. It’s like trying to eat a piece of sushi by popping the piece inside your mouth and chewing it with your tongue as opposed to your teeth. But why in the wild world of sports would a shark do this? I mean, sure, it is surprising, but only because it’s so fucking strange.

JAWS 3 FitzRoyce in the Shark

FitzRoyce does happen to show up in the final scene, still bobbing around in Big Mama’s mouth, as if lodged in her throat unable to escape. His dead body holds a grenade clutched in his cold, blue hand. Big Mama, in a slow motion scene so unintentionally comedic, so bat shit stupid it will leave your jaw on the floor, busts into the underwater control room to finally eat some people. Big Mama gets stuck in the window, but does manage to eat one of the black guys in the room before slowly moving her head side to side to allow time for Mike Brody to pull the pin on FitzRoyce grenade which blows Big Mama to bits, spitting out another lack luster 3-D effect in our face, this time, Big Mama’s chunky, bloody, recently blown out of her body’s jaws. It’s a ludicrous climax to a terrible and half hearted entry in the soon to be dead JAWS franchise.

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The technical flaws in JAWS3-D are a dime a dozen. Literally, scene by scene, shot by shot, the least never stops, from their trouble between night and day scenes, to terrible green screen effects and toy sharks with mouths fixed in place being rammed into miniature sets, it’s a movie of magnificent shittiness. By the end you’ll be wondering why Universal would even bother releasing something of such piss poor quality. The 3-D process makes the film look murky, the effects are scrapping the greasy bottom of the bargain basement, and there’s not a single likable, relatable character in sight. Also, one wonder just what in the world Sea World was thinking when they signed the contract to allow their theme parks be used in a a movie where the owner is an incompetent moron who risks the lives of visitors, employees and animals alike and portrays the park as a place completely incapable of keeping the guests safe. I’m sure their Public Relations lead didn’t was one of JAWS 3-D’s first casualties.

JAWS 3-D is possibly the most poorly crafted and executed major releases I have ever seen. One wishes Universal Pictures would have gone ahead with the spoof comedy sequel John Hughes and Ted Carrol from National Lampoon’s wrote, “Jaws 3, Humans 0″would have been green lighted instead. It would have been directed by Joe Dante (Gremlins, The Howling, Piranha) , too, and would have probably been fucking awesome. Instead, Universal shoveled this load of shit into cinemas and the rest is, as they say, history.

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What we are left with is an often boring, sometimes comically misguided sequel to a franchise that never should have continued past the original, let alone JAWS 2. It’s entertainment value is based solely on whether or not you;re the kind of person who can crack jokes and laugh through the non stop barrage of lameness. It’s worth watching simply to bare witness to the incredibly plummet from grace. It;s fascinatingly terrible to the point you cannot take your eyes off it/ You cannot imagine the film could get any more laughably bad, but then the next scene arrives, and they trump the previous moment of absurdity in spades.  It;s a perfect suckage machine, it’s really a miracle of filmmaking. JAWS 3-D is possibly the most astoundingly bad  sequel of the 1980’s. And that’s saying something.

I award JAWS 3-D ONE out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets.  Watch with booze. PLENTY of booze. And strong friends with a penchant for  the dregs of trash cinema.

Stay Trashy!

-Root




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