Posts Tagged ‘mystery

23
Mar
20

(NSFW) Night Killer (1990): Tasty Fright Chicken

Night Killer poster

“FRIED CHICKEN AND FRENCH FRIES!” – Peter Hotten as Axel, Night Killer (1990)

a Primal Root written review

1990 was filmmaker Claudio Fragasso’s year, man. In 1990 his magnum opus, most fully realized and beloved film Troll 2 saw the light of day as a direct to video release. It’s a film that has gained an ever expanding and rabid fanbase with it’s bizarre concepts, lost in translation screenplay, goofball acting and bargain basement effects mingling with it’s genuine nature basically guaranteed it would find an audience over the years to laugh and cherish it for it’s bonkers presentation.

 

But, a far lesser known darker, more adult and, until recently, incredibly difficult to find offering from Claudio Fragasso was released in 1990 under the title Night Killer. It’s film that, too, has gained cult status for many the same reasons as Troll 2, even enjoying a similar retitling to try and sell it as a sequel to something it was never intended to be. Italian producers actually retitled the thing Non Aprite Quella Porta 3, which translates to Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3, therefore making Night Killer Italy’s unofficial third sequel to Tobe Hooper’s legendary Texas Chainsaw Massacre despite Night Killer not featuring a single chainsaw in any shot of the film much like Troll 2 only featured Goblins…and not a single goddamn Troll.

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Night Killer begins with a spastic and, frankly, embarrassingly bad dance rehearsal for some kind of on stage production. One of the performers arrives late, gets naked and then then punched entirely through the gut by a killer is a strange, creepy fright mask that looks like it might have been left in the car too long on a hot summer day, as it appears more than a little melty. Not only that, but the killer is also wearing a dark trench coat and highly rubbery Freddy Krueger inspired glove on his right hand featuring long corn cob yellow finger nails. When you put all the pieces together, The Night Killer actually kind of looks like Freddy Krueger and The Toxic Avenger’s love child.  So, after we see the late dancer’s bare breasts, she is impaled and dies. Farewell and adieu to you bare breasted lady!

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Noticing her absence and also having the epiphany that whatever fucking musical dance show she is directing is going to suck goat balls, the musical’s director flies into a bizarre, seemingly unscripted improvised rage where she mumbles a lot, and stumbles over what she’s saying before storming off the stage to find the late performer who went to change. When she finds the dead dancer’s corpse, The Night Killer slits her throat takes his fucking time chasing her off the top balcony of the theater where she plummets to her death. The chase takes what feels like an eternity as the director gasps for air and tries to scream while dramatically stumbling down corridors, up stairs, downstairs and eventually over the railing. It feels like an appropriate death scene for a theater major.

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We are then treated to an opening credit sequence where a woman hands off her pre-teen daughter and her luggage to an unidentified man, then the man brings the little girl to who I must assume is his wife. Honestly, this happens over the opening credits and I have no idea who these fucking people are, how they’re related or what the situation is. I assumed it was a pair of divorced parents and the little girl was going to spend the weekend with her Dad and her step-Mom, but we find out, later, that this is not the case at all. But this child hand-off opening sequences is totally baffling as there is no dialogue whosoever to establish just what the Hell is happening.

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Turns out, the lady who just sent her daughter packing is our main character, her name is Melanie Beck (Tara Buckman, who you may remember as Billy and Ricky’s slain Mom in the original Silent Night, Deadly Night) who eats what looks like an entire club sandwich for breakfast before lowering the neckline of her oversized sweater to stare at her tits in the mirror and perform the rare horror movie soliloquy about her marriage being on the rocks before being interrupted by a call from her ex-husband who she estimates is “drunker than usual” and explains to him that Clarissa has gone away to the country with Annie, so, again I must assume here that Clarissa is Melanie’s daughter and Annie is possibly the woman we saw in the opening credits. It’s strange having a movie that’s so damn mysterious you have to try and figure just who the characters are. Anyhoo, the phone call with who might be her estranged husband ends with he her screaming “DON’T EVER CALL ME AGAIN!” into he receiver before slamming the phone down and her possible estranged husband shattering his glass in his hand and screaming “MELANIE!” We never see his face, as his back is turned to us in every shot he is in and his voice sounds a lot like the killer’s. Could it be him?

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Fast forward a second or two and she receives another phone call from the actual killer who tells her “You’re a fine looking woman, Mrs. Beck. You’re just MADE to be fucked senseless.” and “I won’t kill you straight away, first I’m going to fuck your BRAINS out!” She hangs up, calls the cops, but it’s too late. The masked killer reveals himself to already be inside her home with the line, “I can’t wait 5 minutes, Mrs. Beck, I’m too HORNY!” Melanie fights valiantly to kill the intruder, but it’s no use. Once cornered, the killer reveals his face to her, not the audience, and we cut to a week later where she has amnesia and it turns out she was rescued offscreen by a man named Sherman, who is married to Annie and takes care of Melanie’s daughter Clarissa. See, it’s ALL coming together! Sherman even got a deep cut across his face for saving Melanie. And, for whatever reason, only Melanie can identify the man who held her captive for eight hours despite Sherman’s face to face encounter with the Night Killer. I’m sure there must be some logical explanation for this, but being that this is a Claudio Fragasso film, you never know if this is a clue, a red herring, or just inept screenwriting and filmmaking, so everything is absolutely unreliable. We also learn from Sherman that Melanie’s husband was booted off the police for undisclosed reasons. The plot thickens to the point of crusting over as it becomes unidentifiable!

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Immediately after Melanie is released from the hospital an asshole in a jeep drives up next to her and begins cat calling her between taking swings of his 40oz. She flicks him off and speeds off, but he stalks her down to a restroom where she pulls a gun, makes him strip nekkid, and dump his clothes in the crapper. He runs out of the restroom and drops this incredible line of dialog…

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Now, you might think this sweaty, bug eyed creeper with the incredibly active body language will never be heard from again, but this psychopathic stalker actually tracks Melanie down at the beach where she is attempting to kill her herself with a load of pills. This guy actually picks her up, carries her into the ocean, forces her head under water so she is forced to drink salt water so she’ll barf up all the pills she just ingested. This moment of valiant and violent heroics is followed by this guy kidnapping Melanie and keeping her locked in a seedy motel room where he presents her with Kentucky Fried Chicken and French Fries “Nothing does it to me like friiiiied chicken!” before sticking a unloaded gun in her mouth and pulling the trigger and tying her down nekkid and making her say “Pretty Please” over and over again. This bug eyed, vicious rapist is named Axel (Peter Hooten from Orca: The Killer Whale (1977) and Inglorious Bastards (1978)). We are led to believe this guy is the actual Night Killer as we see THE Night Killer impaling voluptuous blonde woman at the local aquarium after hours and killing prostitutes in his art studio after they recite the fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood and then putting them in identical masks as him and making out with their dead bodies as Axel hold Melanie hostage. Are they one and the same? Are there two separate homicidal rapist scumbags running around this little city? I can only tell you that this film is so absolutely off the wall unpredictable and poorly put together, I doubt you will be able to guess every twist and turn Night Killer has to reveal by it’s laugh out loud what the fuck conclusion.

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Night Killer is actually a pretty impressively devious, dark, demented horror film that doesn’t let logic or any for of real common sense get in the way of it’s hysterically over the top, super imaginative, if completely illogical twists.  What really helps are the no holds barred over the top performances from the entire cast. Top to bottom, everyone is going for the gold and trying to sell this fucking movie. Sure, their performances are wacky and laughable…across the board, actually, as they try with all their mediocre acting might to pull of this ludicrous dialog. There are even some moments of genuine terror, especially during scenes between Melanie and Axel as the actors both play off one another really well. Every scene is pitched to the extreme and it’s something that works in Night Killer‘s favor and makes the proceedings far more enjoyable and engrossing, even if it is in a laughably Trash Cinema way.

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I understand writer/director Claudio’s original vision was to make a psychological horror film with very little violence and gore, but the producers balked at the director’s initial edit of the filmed and hired exploitation legend Bruno Mattei (director of Rats: Night of Terror (1984) and Strike Commando (1987)) to add some gore to the proceedings, hence, all the really out of place moments of Night Killer’s claw punching through people. I honestly think the psychological horror elements are the strongest of the film. You can feel what Claudio was really going for with Night Killer and the gore elements always come off as out of place and make the film feel even cheaper than it obviously is.

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This was my very first time seeing Night Killer and I was genuinely impressed by this trashy slice of cheese. It was not afraid to go to some pretty extreme places, took a lot of risks, and obviously not afraid to create a film that was absolutely baffling and send the audience through a dark, nasty tale without a map or even a compass. You literally are thrown in totally blind, with no clue as to who these people are, what’s going on, what the time frame is or how things are connected and you are expected to keep up and fill in the blanks. And it works. It blows my mind to say it, but by the film’s end, being kept in the absolute dark makes it all work. It’s either really tricky and somewhat smart screenwriting, or it’s absolutely moronic and they got lucky. I like to think it’s the work or a Trash Cinematic genius. Let’s face it, Troll 2 shouldn’t work either, but goddamn if it’s not one of the most legendarily entertaining Trash Cinema films ever made. Night Killer is cut from the same cloth and deserves just as much notoriety and recognition among Trash Cinema fans.

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I am awarding Night Killer FOUR AND A HALF out of FIVE DUMPSTER NUGGETS.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

 

 

14
Nov
17

(NSFW) Bat Pussy (197?): Long Lost Trash Cinema Treasure, Mother Fuckers!

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“You sell your pussy for two cents on the street, but Bat Pussy here is fer law and order!” – Buddy, Bat Pussy

a Primal Root written review
Recently, at a Trash Cinema Night I hosted at Bird’s Aphrodisiac Oyster Shack here in Tallahassee, the stinky taint of Florida, I overheard someone questioning the appeal of bad movies and how they’re such a waste of time. Let me tell you, the obsession with the terrible, the obscene, the seldom scene and outcasts of cinema is not a pass time for the lot of us who devote ourselves to it, it’s a passion. I’ve wasted so many years of my life in pursuit of the sleaziest, strangest, worst films ever made. I lust for horrendous dialog, shitty acting, out of focus, bargain basement cinematography, and junky audio. Give me the things no one in their right mind would ever want to watch and you can keep your bazillion dollar Marvel superhero franchises and Star Wars sequels that are farted out faster than sloppy, lukewarm Big Mac’s at one of the billion stinky McDonald’s that dot this great land of ours. I want to see that rarest of rare shit that only the strongest and most devoted will ever lay their eyes on, that only those of us with the taste for the truly misbegotten will ever appreciate and savor the flavor of. Motherfucker, give me Trash Cinema or give me death!

 

All this to say, after decades of hearing the title of this ridiculously rare, hardly ever seen outside it’s original scarce skin flick theater run during some odd year in the 1970’s (IMDB has it listed as being released in 1973, but the truth is, no one really knows), I have FINALLY witnessed it… Bat Pussy. That’s right, Bat Pussy, the film many claim to be the very first pornographic parody film, in this case, LOOSELY based on the Adam West Batman television series. To this day no one knows where it was filmed, who the actors are or who the creative minds were behind the camera. The only hint we have that it was possibly shot in Arkansas is a Razorback tattoo on our male lead, Buddy, prominently feature pasty white ass.

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Bat Pussy is a legendarily bad, rare hour long pornographic film. The cast contains three leads: Buddy, a fowl mouthed greasy dude with a farmers tan.  Sam: A beehive wearing, immensely freckled frustrated possible wife to Buddy and BAT PUSSY (aka: Dora Dildo): Our super heroine who protects her Holy Gotham City whenever her twitching pussy alerts her to a crime about to be committed. Her accent and enthusiasm help to liven up the flick.

Bat Pussy tells the tale of Buddy and Sam, a married couple who spend the duration of the film totally nude and in bed together hurling insults at one another while applying ample cunnilingus, fingering, fellatio and long discussions about fucking, but without actually doing it, which could be the result of Buddy’s dick being eternally flaccid.  Just a guess.

Anyhoo, Buddy and Sam get the idea to try some of the debauched and dirty deeds pictured in a stroke rag which alerts Bat Pussy to the imminent danger, exclaiming the remarkable like, “Dirty Muthafuckas fucking in my holy Gotham City!” Before pulling her nighty over her head, where it gets stuck ever so briefly, puts on her Bat Pussy uniform, straddles her “Hippity Hop” and bounces out of Bat Pussy Headquarters, which happens to be an outhouse. And Gotham City is basically just a state park… we spend about five minutes watching Bat Pussy bounce down dirt roads, empty fields from about a quarter of a mile away, and beat a sexual deviant to the ground with her “Hippity Hop” to save a young nubile woman from his clutches.

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In the meantime, we are throttled face first back into the bizarre, angry, and certainly smelly love life of Buddy and Sam. What started out as a kind of cute, if nasty, bout of dirty talk and slight name calling has erupted into a profanity laden tirade that is being totally improvised and feels a little too on the nose for these two “actors” to not be an actual married couple. It gets mean, but it’s also head scratchingly surreal and often downright hysterical as Buddy bounces around the bed, limp dick flapping around, and Sam just lays there hardly moving at all, unless it’s to slurp the dangling noodle.  Please, allow me to illustrate the sheer brilliance of their dialogue…

Buddy: (Right after a quick pussy munch) What is that shit? Goddammit, stop coming in my mouth!

Buddy: I’m gonna fuck my secretary right in the ass and then come home and make you suck my dick.

Buddy: Every time I run my tongue up your pussy it comes out your asshole. What’s the goddammed deal with that?

Buddy: I want a hot pussy on the grill. That’s what I wanna hear.

Buddy: My horoscope says I’m supposed to fuck you in the nose, in the ears, in the mouth, and in the pussy.

Sam: My horoscope said to get another man.

Buddy: That’s the biggest goddammed pussy I ever seen in my life

Buddy: I’d like to suck your pussy til your head caved in.

Buddy: What’s all this white stuff coming out of you? Why didn’t you tell me that dinner was ready?

Sam: You never can get a hard on so I have to use a rubber dick, you son of a bitch!

Buddy: Want me to fuck you in the ass?

Sam: NOPE!

See, this is what I’m talking about. It’s fucking laugh out load funny stuff. Also, every once in a while you head Buddy go, “Huh?” and look off camera before the audio drops out. My guess is this is the director barking out orders or suggestions to liven up these INCREDIBLY long takes of these two pornographic thespians bickering at one another and groping one another’s genitals in the most unerotic ways imaginable. Also, there are a couple moments the director can be heard burping just off camera. We don;t call it Trash for nothing, folks.

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Soon enough, Bat Pussy shows up on the scene to fight crime and stand up for law and order! But wouldn’t you know it? She gets stripped nekkid almost immediately and starts getting really into whatever is happening in the bad. She writhes, and moans and thrusts her ungroomed lady bits high into the humid air and Buddy continues to complain and pretend to possibly be fucking despite obviously not actually being aroused in the slightest. One of my favorite moments occurs when Sam and Bat Pussy are put into a sixty nine position and Sam just refuses to get her face anywhere near Bat Pussy’s Bat Pussy. Sam keeps her eyes closed like she taking a nap and plays dead. The roll around, writhe, moan, grope, and in the case of Bat Pussy, start hacking up a lung every couple minutes, which is about as sexy as sexy gets. After about fifteen minutes of this action, Bat Pussy throws her costume back on, departs and the film just…ends. Yeah, that’s it. No wrap up, no catharsis, no “plot” closure. It’s just fucking over. You spent your nickel, we’re DONE!

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I feel like my above synopsis comes nowhere close to doing Bat Pussy justice. People say The Room, Plan 9 from Outer Space Troll 2, Samurai Cop, etc. are the worst movies ever made. That THOSE are bad movies. Gang, you have no idea how bad trash cinema can get until you see Bat Pussy. This remarkable feat of total filmmaking ineptitude is so strange and mind boggling, it gives off the sensation that you are watching something forbidden, something mankind was never, ever, actually supposed to witness. This might be the holy grail of obscure trash cinema.  However, I can only recommend this sweaty, greasy, hairy slice of cheese to the most devoted and iron clad of Trash Cinema lovers among us. Honestly, I can only see the rarest of breeds, like Bat Pussy itself, ever really having an appreciation for something so fucking indescribably odd and filthy. Unlike any film I’ve ever watched, you have to see it to believe it. And in the recent 2K restored blu-ray release from AGFA & Something Weird, you will see more than you ever bargained for.

HERE’S A TIP!: If you want to turn this movie into a drinking game, just take a drink anytime someone says “Mother Fucker.”

I’m awarding Bat Pussy:

Three and a Half out of Five Dumpster Nuggets.

AVAILABLE TO RENT AT CAP CITY VIDEO LOUNGE! 

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

 

26
Oct
16

Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) Samhain’s Darkest Horse

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created by Matt Ryan Tobin

 

“I do love a good joke and this is the best ever, a joke on the children.” – Conal Cochran, Halloween III: Season of the Witch

a Primal Root written review

If you know me int he slightest, it’s not a secret by any means, I am enormous fan and champion of the misfit third entry in the long running Halloween horror franchise began by John Carpenter and Debra Hill way back in 1978 with the original Halloween. The exploits of escaped mental patient Michael Myers aka: The Shape (Nick Castle), his considerably psychotic child therapist, Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasance), and the blossoming young virgin babysitter, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) came to a close with a fiery explosion at the end of Halloween II. Michael was engulfed in flames that were sure to turn anyone made of flesh and blood to nothing more than a hand full of ash, and CERTAINLY must have killed that goofy nutbag Dr. Loomis who flicked the Bic that blew the explosive gas ward of Haddonfield Memorial Hospital sky high…leaving Laurie Strode alone in an ambulance pondering the terribly contrived and problematic twist that Michael Myers was actually her brother all along, which totally negates the random nature of the horror in the original Halloween and reminds you that if you make sure you know your biological family tree and keep dibs on all the blood thirsty, unkillable maniacs, you can avoid this sort of predicament and spare your friends every Halloween night.

Halloween II would have been a pretty fine conclusion to the story of Haddonfield and it’s brotherly Boogerman, if the original film hadn’t had a far more suitable and deeply unnerving conclusion already, so where was the Halloween franchise to go from it’s 1981 sequel? Would John Carpenter and Debra Hill venture to make another lazy, dull, predictable story about the now totally cremated and burned to smithereens masked madman Michael Myers? Well, if you are familiar with these two remarkably creative, innovative and fearless individuals, you know that this is exactly the road they’re not going to travel. In fact, their decision would go on to become the stuff of legend. The third installment in the Halloween franchise would be a massive departure from the story of Michael Myers and would, instead, tell a brand new, original story based around the holiday of the title, Halloween. It part of an incredibly commercial and brilliant concept of Carpenter and Hill that would make the Halloween franchise a yearly canvas for an infinite number of creative minds and filmmakers to create their own, unique, one off Halloween stories that could birth any number of spinoffs, sequels, remakes, reboots and reimaginings down the road! One paper it sounds like a wonderfully viable and lucrative concept, one that would keep the franchise running strong for decades to come! Debra Hill came up with the basic concept of the story, “witchcraft meets the computer age.” The team contacted Nigel Kneal (writer of the The Quatermass series) who wrote the first draft of the screenplay of what would become Tommy Lee Wallace’s Halloween III: Season of the Witch. 

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Our film begins with the creation of a digital jack-o-lantern set the dark, ominous tones of John Carpenter and Alan Howarth’s fantastic score. Long gone is the iconic Halloween theme that immediately puts audiences on edge. Here, the score is menacing, low, and mysterious. The audience accustomed to the simple stalk and slash formula of the previous entries are clued in right off the bat that there is something different at work here. The jack-o-lantern is no longer something physical we’ve all held, touched and carved before. No, this is something alien and untouchable. As the credits conclude, the computer generated grinning jack-o-lantern begins to flash over white as an audible buzzing is heard. It’s strange, off putting and the significance of this is a totally mystery to us… for now.

The story centers on Dr. Challis (legendary cult icon, Tom Atkins), a flawed, damaged gentleman who is not by any stretch of the imagination your typical hero. This guy is divorced with two kids, a womanizer and, from what it would seem, a functional alcoholic.  At every turn the man is sexually harassing his staff (or, I guess it would just be called flirting in the early 1980’s) of knocking back beer or bourbon. Even when visiting his ex-wife she mentions, as his pager goes off to call him to the hospital, “drinking and doctoring: GREAT combination.” She hasn’t witnessed this man drinking, he just showed up smelling like booze. Yeah, this guy is our hero, ladies and gents!

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Womanizer. Drunkard. Hero.

Challis arrives at the hospital to care for a man in hysterics who is clutching a popular Silver Shamrock Halloween mask and babbling what seems to be nonsense about “They’re going to kill us! All of us!” Challis sedates the man, puts him in a room, slaps the nurses ass and goes to sleep it off in the doctor’s lounge leaving the poor old guy all alone so minutes later a silent man in a three piece suit can just wonder into his room and dismantle his skull bare handed. When Challis is woken up by the nurses cries over the patients sudden case of collapsed skull, he gives chase, but it’s too late. The silent killer has doused himself in gasoline and blown himself up in his car. Challis looks on with a face that clearly expresses and slightly hungover “What the fuck?” The audience feels his pain.

The murdered man’s daughter, Ellie (the gorgeous Stacey Nelkin) shows up to claim the body and the local authorities try to comfort her by claiming it was just a random psychopath who walked in off the streets and single handidly crunched her father’s head into bloody, flappy chunks. The next day she track Dr. Challis down early in the morning at a local bar and enlists his help to figure out just who wanted her Father dead and why. Dr. Challis, who can never say no to a free booty call, grabs a sixer of Miller High Life, calls his ex-wife to back out of his obligations and heads off the Santa Mira, home of Silver Shamrock Novelties, the town her Father was last seen headed before he became a babbling lunatic with a warrant out for his noggin.

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What Dr. Challis and Ellie uncover between swigs of bourbon and all night fuck sessions, is a vast, deadly, evil conspiracy, one that has been conjured up over hundreds of years and will bring the world to it’s knees as horrifically grotesque sacrifice is made. As the mastermind behind this horrifying plan suggests, “The World is going to change tonight.” And if this evil madman’s scheme does pull through, the world will be transformed forever…

***SPOILERS AHEAD! IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE FILM DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER!****

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Okay, so it turns out the guy who runs Silver Shamrock novelties, Conal Cochran (played with enthusiasm and cheerful menace by the late, great, Dan O’Herlihy) is a druid and a warlock with a massive army of murderous robot people. He also has stolen a block from stonehenge and is chipping off pieces of the missing block to add just a fragment of the stone into the Silver Shamrock Halloween masks along with a small computer chip. What is the importance of all this? Why is Mr. Cochran willing to murder people in order to ensure these masks are made and are the hottest Halloween masks on the market?  What is the deal with the big giveaway happening Halloween night where all the children must watch their TV’s while wearing their Silver Shamrock masks in order to win? Because it’s all part of a grand scale child sacrifice. That’s right, when the big giveaway happens, those wearing the Silver shamrock Halloween masks will be subjected to a blinking jack-o-lantern. This image in conjunction with the piece from stonehenge will end up melting the head of the child wearing  mask and produce copious amounts of roaches, spiders, and venomous snakes.

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Yes, this plan is totally fucking bonkers. Evil always works best when it’s bonkers, if you ask me. It;s so bizarre, so downright disturbing and nightmarish, it totally devastated me when I was a kid watching Halloween III: Season of the Witch for the first time. In the typical language of cinema, the kid never dies. Then you see Halloween III: Season of the Witch, you do not only get to witness a little kid get his head melted, but you watch as he, still living, chokes up rattle snakes, roaches and and tarantulas before his horrified parents eyes. I honestly watched the scene much like Dr. Challis does as he watches through a monitor in Cochran’s secret warehouse. You cannot believe what you’re seeing. It;s so dark and weird and macabre and unflinchingly grim…it then dawns on you that in matter of hours this is going to happen everywhere. In every living room all over the world. I know a lot of people bring up that THE BIG GIVEAWAY is at 9pm and that the movie didn’t account for time zones. Ugghh, I am sure the time zones are adjusted and that the filmmakers just didn’t want to make it monotonous by listing ALL THE DIFFERENT TIME ZONES all of the world.  Anyhoo, it’s a nightmare to imagine as kids die a prolonged, agonizing, supernatural death and their poor parents then get attacked by the living, nasty contents of their now melted spawns cranium. I can’t help but imagine what this little practical joke will do to the economic thrust of the holiday season. Shit. Little Buddy’s head is gone, I guess we can return that Atari to Toys R’ Us…

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Also, I must address the Ellie controversy. A lot of people wonder if she was  robot all along or not. My theory is that Ellie was a real, flesh and blood human being through the whole movie until she is captured by Cochran and used to lure Dr. Challis to the Silver Shamrock Factory. Cochran had a crude robot duplicate of her made, Dr. Challis rescues that robot,and Ellie is left to burn alive in the Silver Shamrock explosion. Yeah, my theory is dark, bleak and assumes the female lead suffers a brutal death by burning all alone in the bowels of mad toy maker’s factory, but to me that is the appeal of Halloween III: Season of the Witch. Our hero is inept, saves no one, including his own children and the world witnesses the absolute terror that Conal Cochran has unleashed upon the world. The film ends with Tom Atkins, Dr. Challis, screaming into the phone as the Silver shamrock jack-o-lantern flashes on the screen, “STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IIIIIIIITTTT!” And the credits roll. He doesn’t win. We are left to imagine the outcome of this gruesome terrorist attack. To this day, the ending of Halloween III: Season of the Witch sends chills down my spine. If you think about it, that ending could symbolize the corporate take over of America. Our youth poisoned by what they are fed day in and day out through all forms of media until their heads rot and the same nasty, mean, venomous shit comes pouring from their mouths. Fuck…could Atkins have been trying to warn us all long? Did the evil that occurred at the end of Halloween III: Season of the Witch already occur? I take a glimpse from time to time and see what comes spewing into my living room through cable television and it’s not hard to imagine that the kind of televised consumer apocalypse may have already happened.

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Halloween III: Season of the Witch is a the underdog of the entire franchise. History speaks for itself. The movie bombed horribly due to the fact it was critically panned and the fans wanted more of the same, which they got a few years later in the hideously underwhelming Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, which I do enjoy, it’s just a really, really, cheap, poorly shot, and not very entertaining or inspired movie.

To be be perfectly honest, I couldn’t stand Halloween III: Season of the Witch when I first saw it as a child. It was too dark, too mean and there was no Michael Myers!I was right there with the folks who were disappointed in the lack of familiar elements.  However, time has been very kind to Halloween III: Season of the Witch, it has grown into a sort of cult favorite among horror movie aficionados. After watching the same Michael Myers bullshit over and over and over I began to go back to Halloween III: Season of the Witch just to remind myself why I didn’t like it. Just like many of my horror brethren, I think many of us found what we initially presumed to be the film’s weaknesses to actually be this movie’s greatest strengths. Folks like myself who revel in the third installments stand alone story, bizarre gore effects, disturbing mystery, incredible fresh and creepy score, nightmarish concepts and and damn fine performances. It’s the last of the high quality, well shot and intriguing Halloween films and possibly my favorite of the entire series, including John Carpenter’s original, which I have tremendous respect for…but Halloween III: Season of the Witch is such a one of kind masterpiece of the macabre, I look forward to watching it every single Halloween season. Don’t get me wrong, I love Michael Myers and the original Halloween just fine, but like I said earlier, I always like my evil to be a bit more fucking bonkers side of things.

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created by Cavity Colors

Every October I watch as people create more and more original art based on Halloween III: Season of the Witch as it’s cult status and admiration grows. I’m not going to lie, it brings a salty tear to this Trash Cinema fans eye every year as I watch what was once the laughing stock and whipping boy of the Halloween franchise become more and more the stand out and most beguiling dark corner of the whole series.

I award Halloween III: Season of the Witch 5 out of 5 Dumpster Nuggets.

 

 

30
Mar
14

Pieces (1982) Bastards and Bloodshed

Pieces

a Primal Root written review

Slasher films were a dime a dozen back in the 1980’s. Once “Friday the 13th” dethroned “The Empire Strikes Back” of it’s number one slot at the box office and proved just how ludicrously profitable this low budget sub-genre that had once been relegated to Grindhouses and Drive-In’s could be,  big studios suddenly hopped on the bandwagon draining every last drop they could out of the fad before leaving the lifeless, dried up corpse of slasher cinema to rot and fester. Yes, it was a glorious time filled with blood, breasts, beasts and masked madmen. Every weekend brought the promise of a new holiday themed slasher film, a new ensemble cast of lovely young people too stupid to stay out of the woods, or the mines, or the haunted house. We hollered our wise advice at the silver screen week after week but to no avail, and we wanted it that way! Boyfriends getting their heads crushed and tossed through windows during the final chase, young actresses we rarely ever heard from again got their quick fifteen minutes of fame as they whipped out they bouncing sweater puppies only to have their throats slit and their sticky, Kayro syrup blood sprayed all over their ample young bosoms. My God, it was a glorious time to be alive.

Of course, I was only 8 when the by the time the 1990’s ushered in the end of that glorious era of the 1980’s. A new cycle of horror began and many pop culture critics considered horror dead which was pretty goddamn stupid of them seeing as “The Silence of the Lambs” swept the Oscars in 1991 and that fuckers one Hell of a horror movie. But it was true in terms of the slasher genre. The well had run dry for the time being and, like long suffering Momma’s Boy Jason Voorhees, went to rest for a while until some new blood could get pumped into the proceedings.  THANKFULLY, at this time in my life there was a plethora of these establishments called “Video Rental Stores” where you (or your parents) could get a membership and you would have an entire collection of movies on VHS right at your finger tips! This, Gang, was where my horror education began.

As a kid I spent countless hours with my butt planted in the Horror aisles picking up every case there, admiring the artwork and reading the descriptions. I was particularly fascinated with the “Friday the 13th” franchise and “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” flicks. But one tape at Turtle’s Video always caught my eye. On the front it featured the stitched together corpse of an attractive young blonde with a chainsaw perched over her. “YOU DON’T HAVE TO GO TO TEXAS FOR A CHAINSAW MASSACRE!” it boldly proclaimed. I was sold.  It would be several years before I was able to convince my Mom to rent it for me, but once she did and I popped that sucker in my VCR my life was changed forever.

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The movie was the 1982 Spanish splatter flick “Pieces” and it was everything I could have ever possibly hoped it would be.  A goofy Who-Done-It plot set on a college campus, incredible over the top performances, unintentionally hilarious dialogue,  gallons of fake blood and chainsaw dismemberment, impromptu karate instructor attacks, a plethora of nude women including full frontal and a bit of wiener for the ladies, and one of the greatest, strangest, mind blowing jump scare endings I had ever witnessed.  My little preteen mind was rocked. When the tape finished I immediately hit rewind and watched that sucker again.

 

“Pieces” begins in 1942 where we witness a young boy piecing together a puzzle in his playroom. When his Mother discovers that the puzzle is of a naked woman she goes ballistic, calling the young boy’s absentee  Father a filthy, perverted, degenerate and that she’s going to search all through the house and burn everything that features female nudity. She even strikes her son and repeatedly calls him stupid as she slips further into her suitable for Lifetime Television hysterics. But her young son is having none of it,  when she has her back turned he grabs an axe that’s bigger than he is and surprises her with several well placed chops to the noggin’.  Soon after the murder of his mother the boy grabs a hacksaw and goes to town pulling his dead Mom apart. Yes, the boy finishes his puzzle by the time the police barge in and are side stepping meaty chunks and pools of coagulated lady blood  He cries, blames a “big man, big man” and everyone buys his story hook line and sinker. It’s a nasty. bloody, and darkly comical note to begin “Pieces” on, and it only gets better from there.

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Present Day 1982 and we’re on a college campus when women start falling prey to a chainsaw killer. A girl gets decapitated while she is out in the park reading, another young woman gets quartered by the swimming pool, and so on… but this shadowy figure dressed in black doesn’t just kill his victims, he collects body parts.  We discover early on that whoever is doing the killings is, in fact, the same little boy who killed his mother all those years ago and is sawing a trail of blood drenched terror through this college campus as he begins putting together a new puzzle.

There’s a rouges gallery of suspects which includes the creepy, shifty eyed caretaker Willard (Paul L. Smith, Bluto from 1980’s Popeye) a quiet, odd duck anatomy teacher, Professor Brown (Jack Taylor) the uptight Dean (Edmund Purdom) and even the dorkish campus stud, Kendal (Ian Sera) who every woman on campus wants to bang for no readily apparent reason. Well, perhaps it was that lovely singing voice displayed in “Pod People?” Ah, who am I kidding, it STINKS! The suspect pool always seems to be hanging around nearby whenever a murder occurs and never fail to act sketchy as Hell no matter what’s going down.

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Two detectives are put on the case, the good natured detectives, Ly. Bracken (Christopher George) and hard case Sgt. Holden (Frank Brana), and they’re both equally clueless. One of my favorite moments with these two is during their investigation of the poolside murder and mutilation of a young college girl. She’s been sawed into a pile of about 6 or 7 hunks of flesh and a bloody chainsaw is laying on the floor next to this tall pile of woman. Lt. Bracken asks Proffessor Brown if he believes the chainsaw might be the murder weapon, to which Prof. Brown replies, after a close examination of the chainsaw, that yes, even a layman can see that this was the murder weapon. Damn fine police work, Bracken!

But these two have a secret weapon! They put two of their very best into action as undercover agents. Tennis Pro and party time law enforcement official, Mary Riggs and possible suspect Kendal, who spends most of the investigation either fucking coeds, trying to get into Mary’s pants or showing up too late to prevent murders or apprehend the suspect. I understand, he’s just a college guy, but the man’s kind of an idiot. Hell, ALL the good guys in this thing are idiots. It’s hard to root for these folks when they’re all so grossly incompetent at what they do for a living! It’s uncanny how they always seem to show up about thirty seconds too late to save the chainsaw killer’s nubile young victim. But it’s never to late to repeatedly scream “BASTARD!” at the top of your lungs.  Well, despite the fact that they all suck, they are at least fun to watch bumble their way through one of the most brutal crime sprees ever to take place on a fictional college campus.

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After the climactic final murder that takes place in a  women’s locker room, and yes, you get to view the boner trifecta (Boobs, Bush, buns) where a woman is chased topless by our chainsaw toting lunatic into a bathroom stall where she pisses her pants in closeup as he chainsaws his way in to seal her doom, Kendal and Sgt. Holden get some Wendy’s take out and start going through a bunch of files hoping they just might come across something, and oh boy, do they ever! Kendal ends up cracking the case and figuring out who the killer is, but will he and his detective pals get there in time to save the lovely Mary Riggs? And why in the fuck is Kendal allowed to join the two detectives as they kick down to door into a suspected serial killer’s abode? sure, some idiotic, unarmed, college kid wants to come and hang out in this possibly deadly situation? Yeah, sure! Why not.  Trust me, Kendal pays the price for being a dipshit.

Once the killer is revealed and meets his end “Pieces” drops two of the coolest, meanest, most disturbing shock endings on it’s unsuspecting audience. I am really struggling not to tell you what happens, as it’s one of those ingredients that really clenches “Pieces” as one of my all time favorite slasher flicks. You’ve really got to see it to believe it. All I can say is, Kendal’s stud days are over.

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I cannot express my love enough for this deeply trashy slice of early 80’s exploitation sleaze.  “Pieces” is one of those rare cases where every weakness it has manages to bolster the film up and make it watchable.  This movie should be a failure,  the last thing it should be is entertaining. But despite all it’s flaws it still manages to keep me entertained from beginning to end with it’s total lack of class, it’s crassness and it’s heart warming lack of politcal correctness. Also, all that nudity sure helps the trash go down smoothly, too.  It’s like a Friday the 13th sequel on steroids.  It’s simple, it’s mindless, it’s filthy and it’s the perfect serving a of junk when you need that Trash Cinema pick me up.

I give “Pieces” FIVE out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets! Classic Trash Cinema!

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

24
Nov
13

Happy 25th Birthday, Mystery Science Theater 3000!

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*Turn Down the Lights, Where Applicable.*

Hey Gang, if you will humor me for just one post I would like to make an attempt to express my love and admiration for a television show that served as one of the primary inspirations for The Trash Cinema Collective and The Primal Root’s Rotten Reviews. One of the funniest and most inspired comedy series to ever grace the boobtube. An unholy amalgam of science fiction, puppet show, Saturday horror matinee and sketch comedy show. It’s influence is still felt to this very day and it’s legend  continues to grow by leaps and bounds.  Today, this show turns 25 years old.

Of course, I am speaking of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

So, excuse me while I turn into a drooling fanboy and make a lame autobiographical post about how the show changed my life, shaped my entire being and  get all sentimental. Read on if you dare…

When I was in first grade my parents decided to uproot us from Winter Haven, Florida, the town where I was spawned, and move us up North to the capital city of our rotted penis shaped state, Tallahassee, Florida. It was a pretty abrupt and unexpected change of scenery for me, one I resisted and revolted against with all my might. Having to leave behind my friends and everything I was so familiar with was a terrifying prospect.  The idea of starting all over again in some new town, in a new school, with a bunch of new kids was enough to evoke the first panic attack of my young life.

Of course, as life teaches us, everything changes whether we like it or not.  I adapted fairly well to my new environment thanks to my family, primarily my younger cousins Steven and Patrick, who I started hanging out with habitually just about as soon as I arrived, and some understanding, supportive teachers. There was also one other element that eased my transition and helped me to forget my woes over having been tossed headlong into this awkward, new phase of my life; a television show called “Mystery Science Theater 3000”.

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Flipping through the channels one Saturday or Sunday morning I came across some cruddy old b-movie, with these funny little silhouettes in the bottom right corner. It looked like some regular Joe and a couple of funny looking monsters, or robots…maybe aliens? I had no clue. But as I listened it dawned on me that these little guys were doing what my Mom, Steven, Patrick and I always did over such cheese-ball entertainment…they were cracking jokes! And great ones! Sure, many of of them flew over my head, but a lot of the appeal had to do with their delivery.  Soon, the little people in the movie theater row got up and walked out of frame and the camera pulled back through a colorful, fun assortment of doors and hallways leading back to a room where the three folks in the theater were suddenly right in front of me. I was soon acquainted with three captives on Dr. Forrester’s diabolical Satellite of Love (The S.O.L., for short) Joel Robinson, Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot.  My life would never be the same.

Needless to say, I was hooked. My cousins and I would watch it just about every weekend and laugh our elementary school aged asses off at just about everything these jokesters said.  I was never quite sure of the shows schedule in those days, but the chances were if I tuned into The Comedy Channel, later Comedy Central, during Saturday or Sunday, they would eventually be on the air. The premise was simple and spelled out brilliantly in the show’s opening theme song, here, I will let Joel explain…

The show was unapologetic in it’s  silliness, boundlessly creative and unabashedly intelligent. To watch Mystery Science Theater 3000 you had to actively pay attention to the action on screen while simultaneously listening to Joel and his robot friend’s riffs and out two and two together in your own head. Sure, many of the jokes reference things you might not know about or not be in the vein of comedy specifically catering to your liking, but as Dr. Forrester and Crow T. Robot himself, Trace Beaulieu has stated in the past: “Hey, if you don’t like that joke, there will be another one in about 3 seconds.” The humor, jokes and references span an enormous spectrum  so that there will always be something for everyone in each episode.

Across the board, the characters, puppets and all, were brought to life with such manic creativity and energy, you couldn’t help but pay attention. The host segments, the parts of the show taking place between the stints in the theater, often mocked the film’s themselves in the form of skits and small productions Joel and The Bots would put on for The Mads back down at Gizmonic Institute, later Deep 13…later Pearl’s VW van, later still, Pearl’s gothic castle.  These segments also treated the viewer to the “Steampunk over a decade before Steampunk existed” set created with what looked like nothing more than garbage,  junk purchased at the flea market, Styrofoam pillars and hot glue. It was the epitome of bargain basement, do it yourself creativity. They had a budget, they worked with the scraps they had and they ended up putting together a show with a unique, one of a kind appearance that looked like a million bucks, but probably cost as much as a dinner for two at Red Lobster.

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Between elementary school and high school MST3K came and went in my life as I moved around a lot after my parent’s divorce. I collected episodes on VHS as I spotted them and would watch as often as I could depending on who our cable provider was. Call it luck or call it fate, I got the pleasure of seeing Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie during it’s initial run when it played in Dallas, Texas. I just happened to be in town for my older brother, Trey’s, college graduation and got to see this milestone in MST3K history in the company of my Mom and my  late Grandmother affectionately known as Bobo. Hearing Bobo laugh as hard as I did through MST3K: The Movie, I often think she might have just been laughing at hearing me laugh, is one of my fondest memories I have with her.

I have since had the pleasure of meeting and shaking hands with  many of the creators and talent behind Mystery Science Theater 3000 as well as experienced their riffing skills live and in person. I only wish I could put into words just how much their creation means to me.  Some folks, their passion might be Dr. Who, others Star Trek or Firefly maybe even  Battlestar Galactica. For me, my science fiction television allegiance will always belong to Gizmonic Institute, Deep 13 and Mystery Science Theater 3000. A show that has always had it’s heart in the right place, filled my life with laughter, brought my friends and family closer,  influenced and inspired me in countless ways and always reminded us to “breath and just relax”. Not to mentions they had TWO final episodes and neither one of them sucked.

I am now an adult with a  fireplace mantle decked out with every box set of Mystery Science Theater 3000 Rhino and Shout Factory have so far released and not a week goes by that I don’t watch at least one episode.  Those guys and gals can still make me laugh all these years later. In fact, I would say they keep on getting better with age, which is no small feat.

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To Joel Hodgson, Trace Beaulieu, Kevin Murphy, Frank Conniff,  Mike Nelson, Mary Jo Pehl and the rest of the Best Brains Team, I thank you from the very bottom of my heart for creating Mystery Science Theater 3000. You’re show is an even bigger part of my life now than it was when I was a child.  I’ve shared and introduced your creation to so many great and wonderful people who mean the world to me. Heck, the love of my life and I finally got together after months of being “friends” thanks to your outstanding short “Assignment Venezuela!” Who knew your brand of zaniness would inspire such a romantic evening with my very own Creepy Girl?

Happy 25th Birthday, Mystery Science Theater 3000!  May your legacy live on forever.

Love,

-Kevin (The Primal Root)

PUSH THE BUTTON, FRANK!

05
Oct
13

Mistress Veronica; October Devil Girl of the Month 2013

Hello there, Gang and HAPPY OCTOBER! We’ve got an early treat for you this Halloween season in the form of our exquisitely beautiful Devil Girl of the Month, Mistress Veronica.  A close comrade of ours here at The Trash Cinema Collective, a familiar face to anyone keeping up with The Primal Root’s Rotten Reviews, and one of the founding members of the Boobarians, it is my pleasure and my sincere honor to unveil Mistress Veronica’s spooky, sexy and badass “Phantom of the Opera” inspired Devil Girl spread. BUT FIRST! Let’s ask Mistress Veronica a few questions, whatdya say?

The Primal Root: Tell us a little bit about yourself, Mistress. Where might your interests lie? tickles you fancy? Tell us what you’re into.

Mistress Veronica:  By day I’m your regular every day secretary-type lady. I also teach bellydance and I bellydance around the US – I love it way more than anyone should. What kind of stuff am I into?….on a good day fishnets and restraints Ah, who am I kidding, I’m the one in charge (hence the name). I am ALL about the classic pin-up, burlesque, costuming of all kinds, and girls in roller derby (PS loved Devil Girl Carrie A. Hatchet). Also anything pumpkin.

Root: As our Devil Girl for the month of October, I was wondering if you might recommend a couple of your favorite Trashy Halloween themed flicks you like to break this time of year.

Mistress Veronica:  Sure!  Killer Klowns From Outer Space is a childhood favorite along with the Leprechaun movies, the Evil Dead series, Beetlejuice, and newly added to my list Troll 2. Less trashy classics include Nightmare Before Christmas and Hocus Pocus. It’s also a great time for all of the Universal classic monster/horror films.

Root:  What song would you recommend The Gang listen to while admiring your lovely Devil Girl set?

Mistress Veronica: “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor” by Bach – when you think of pipe organ, this is probably the music that plays in your head. Nice and creepy and ominous. For something less classic, “Shit Men Say to Symphony” by the Living Deads.

Root:  What’s the scariest damn movie you’ve ever seen? What made it so frightening?

Mistress Veronica:  Hmmmm….No movie is as scary as what’s inside my own noggin, so this is hard to answer. The scariest thing I can think of right now is the tree attack scene in Evil Dead. You know things are wrong when trees are raping people. I couldn’t camp again for months after seeing that.

Root: When you’re out Trick or Treating  what sweet is sure to put a smile on your face?

Mistress Veronica: Hard liquor of any variety! Oh wait, something sweet…put some Coke or Pepsi in it. A Snickers bar is also acceptable.

I think we can mange both, Mistress.  Well, let’s not keep The Gang waiting any longer, without any further a due, feast your eyes on the seductive, the lovely, Mistress Veronica!  Just a heads up, you might need a drool cup…  Stay Trashy! -Root

Photography by Marina Pecorino

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19
Mar
13

Maiden Detroit: Devil Girl of the Month, March 2013

Hey Gang, it’s your pal The Primal Root and I am honored to introduce our Devil Girl of the Month, the beautiful, enigmatic,  Maiden Detroit! Maiden has recently become acquainted with The Trash Cinema Collective so we figured  we’d pummel her with some random questions so we can get to know a bit more about her.  So, please, feast your eyes on Maiden Detroit’s creepy, sexy,  gorgeous,  March Devil Girl spread and be sure to give her a warm welcome to The Collective! Stay Trashy! -Root

The Primal Root:  Maiden, tell us a little bit about yourself. your background, your interests. What the Hell have you been up to lately?

Maiden Detroit: I moved to Tallahassee about 5 years ago from my home, Detroit Michigan. I miss it. But I persevere. Home made me the woman I am today. Strong, tough, dependable, reliable, lovable, me.

TPR: What was the inspiration for your Devil Girl shoot?

MD: I have always been intrigued by death and her mysteries, I’ve been romping around graveyards for so long, out of respect for the unknown. There is something to be said for the unknown.

TPR: Tell us a story! Some kind of bizarre story, an unusual experience you can share with us.

MD: I don’t have many stories; which is unfortunate because I have all the stories. I just don’t kiss and tell.

TPR:  As you well know, we have a passion for movies the majority of film goers consider nonredeemable filth that no rational human being should ever watch. We call it Trash Cinema. What are some of your favorites?

I love all cinema. Movies are a prefect form of escapism. Whether you are sad or happy or looking for a raunchy good time. I take it all in and rejoice in the art. Because without art life does not exist.

Photography by Darla Winn : http://www.flickr.com/photos/zoogal3/

Hair & Makeup by Laura Henry: http://www.facebook.com/HairDesignerLaura

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22
Dec
12

Silent Night: Dreaming of a Schlock Christmas

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a Primal Root review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay Trashy!

-Root

06
Jun
12

Cabin in the Woods: Roll with the Changes

a Primal Root review as originally published in Tallahassee’s Capital City Villager

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, okay, here goes. A jock, a slut, a pot head and a mousy chick decide to spend a  weekend in the woods only things don;t go as planned as malevolent forces beyond their control put a bloody an unexpected halt to their fun filled outing. Sound familiar? To any fan of the horror genre the principle set up could be lifted from any one of the multitude of slasher films released between the late 70’s to today.

It’s the same formula that’s been set up, rinsed and repeated for generations. But this basic premise is where the similarities between “The Cabin in the Woods” and your typical teen body count horror films end and the inventiveness begins.  This is precisely what makes the film such a tent pitchingly awesome treat for both hardcore horror fans and even general audiences who have, no doubt. become well aware of such genre tropes. Joss Whedon (the man behind the immensely popular and critically acclaimed “Buffy the Vampire” television show) and co. have created a horror film that not only includes  all the fun, over the top brutal violence, imaginative creatures, and gratuitous tits and ass we’ve all come to expect and love about this type of flick but also imbues the picture with a wealth of knowledge about horror tales in general and uses that as a way to revitalize it by packing enough wit, brains and a plethora of unexpected surprises to keep even the most well versed fan second guessing themselves as to just what will happen next and what cliche will be chopped down and tossed onto the fire.  As a connoisseur and life long fan of this well worn cinematic sub-genre, I am purposefully sidestepping any further mentioning of the veritable cornucopia of plot turns and unexpected twists, because to do so would be an unforgivable disservice to any audience plopping their asses down to view “The Cabin in the Woods” for the first time.

“The Cabin in the Woods” from writer Joss Whedon and director Drew Goddard completely annihilates every convention of the genre and reminds all of us that there are still avenues left unexplored in what some might see as an exhausted form of storytelling. It may only be a matter of story tellers hiking off the trail and further, deeper, into the woods.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

26
Apr
12

The Innkeepers: Clean Linens and Dead Ends

a Primal Root review

Okay Gang, I’m going to try REAL hard not to spoil anything about “The Innkeepers.” You have my word that spoilers will be kept to a minimum.

I remember hearing of Ti West’s “The House of the Devil” through the horror fan grapevine as a cinematic experience those who watched either loved or hated. I decided to give it a go and became a member of the former category. I loved “The House of the Devil” and felt it’s quirky, patient approach to building suspense and creating a genuine atmosphere of dread was so refreshing it almost felt totally new in a cinematic culture where most films are slashed to ribbons in the editing process and paced to the heart rate of a Starbucks junkie. Sure, this technique is nothing new and was perfected by the likes of Hitchcock and De Palma and Carpenter, but to see a young, fresh out the gates filmmaker like Ti West utilize a form of cinematic story telling that seemed all but forgotten instantly made the young man an artist I wanted to keep tabs on.

Enter, “The Innkeepers”, West’s most recent effort. The story of two slacker employees Claire (Sara Paxton from The Last House on the Left remake) and Luke (Pat Healy from Rescue Dawn) of the very soon to be shut down and demolished Yankee Pedlar Inn, a three story, turn of the century kind of place with awesome wallpaper, hard wood floors and the obligatory legend of a tragic death and enduring haunting therein. As the last two employees on staff at the Yankee Pedlar, Clair and Luke take the opportunity to down some cheap beer and launch a full scale investigation into the legendary haunting of deceased bride-to-be, Madeline O’Malley which Luke claims to have encountered on several occasions.

The duo busts out their recording equipment to try and capture some EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) and set the stage for the possibility of a ghostly encounter. And honestly, one gets the impression that these two are investigating more our of sheer boredom than any passionate interest. However, as some curious happenings begin to manifest around Clair and Luke they are advised by one of the only guests they have that weekend, Leanne (Kelly McGillis from Top Gun (!) ) who is a former TV actress turned psychic medium.  She comes to Claire as a friend and offers a possible guide to the spirit world while also offering some well timed significant New Age wisdom and a dark warning…

“The Innkeepers” is one scary mother fucking movie. It finally dawned on me that, really, if there’s one genre of horror sure to really get me rattled it’s the kind that involves hauntings and ghosts. Ghosts are a tricky subject in horror movies because they can be handled improperly like they were in the remake of “Paranormal Activity” (2009) or “Insidious” (2011) where everything is revealed, everything explained and everything is showcased in the light of day and leaves nothing to the imagination. I have always been of the opinion that scariest thing we will ever face is that which we don’t understand and what’s left up to us to imagine. Always, this will be far more frightening than anything a filmmaker and his effects crew could ever create and showcase.

For the majority of “The Innkeepers” we join Claire and Luke in their final, modest,  quest to seek any kind of proof of the supernatural at The Yankee Peddler. We see only what they see, hear what they hear and many times adopt their point of view as the camera track closely behind them keep the frame claustrophobic and tense as the viewer joins them in the investigation. Often there’s nothing but silence or the hum of static piping through headphones as they listen to what they’re recording. I was on the edge of my seat in anticipation being drawn in both wanting something to happen and being incredibly fucking nervous as to the when and what might be revealed or heard. It’s a film that realizes we’ve seen this sort of film before and that we are familiar with the beats. “The Innkeepers” defies our expectations and repeatedly scares the shit out of the viewer. They may be jump scares, but they are well earned and serve the purpose of the story at hand.

Not only are the scares and techniques used to deliver them excellent, but so is the cast at hand. Our star player, Sara Paxton gives a very genuine and game performance as the adorable, nerdy slacker, Claire. She finds herself in the center of the storm during the proceedings and manages to play up her distress well and also proves to be quite the comedian to boot. Paxton is imminently watchable and young actress I look forward to seeing more from. Pat Healy as Luke is a great foil to Claire and generates some great laughs with his deadpan, sarcastic performance. Like Paxton, Healy is called upon to both be very believably funny and terrified. The brother pulls it off in spades. Kelly McGillis is fantastic as the resident psychic, Leanne, a once famous TV star with a gift for communicating with the other side. As the films most prominent supporting player she proves believable and essential to the tale and really grounds the film in reality. “The Innkeepers” benefits greatly from her presence.

“The Innkeepers” brings to mind Kubrick’s “The Shining” by way of Kevin Smith’s “Clerks”. It’s the story of two intelligent but unmotivated young adults working a literal dead-end job and floating rudderless. When Clair is asked by Leanne what she does Claire can only respond with an awkward and unsure “I’m kind of between things.” as if she’s never given a single thought to what will be coming next for her.  Claire and Luke are very real and well developed characters that feel like people we know. Hell, what might be even stranger is that these characters might even be many of us, stuck in lame jobs and having resigned ourselves to them with no clue as to how we could ever better our situation.  These characters wonder the silent, ancient halls of The Yankee Peddler looking for the smallest evidence that there is something more there. Evidence that there could be any truth to legend of Madeline O’Malley. It may seem like a futile search to some, pointless even when faced with the crushing reality of oncoming unemployment, but the truth is that some of us might never find anything better than what we’ve got and grown accustomed to. Many find themselves in the exact same trap Claire and Luke find themselves in. Walking the halls of the place they can’t stand in a kind of purgatory.I can think of few things scarier than that.

Well, beside mother fucking ghosts…

The Innkeepers is an intelligent and brilliantly constructed horror film. One that doesn’t spoon feed it’s story or characters to the audience.  The Yankee Peddler itself feels like a character int he film, much in the same way The Overlook Hotel played the same sort of significance in the proceedings of The Shining. Every hall tells a story, every room has witnessed thousands of tales unfold. One can only imagine what frightening memories such a place might have. And this is the ultimate strength if “The Inkeepers”, we are given the ammunition necessary to fill in the blanks and imagine many of the films horrors. Some are blatant and in your face, but “The Innkeepers” is a smart enough film to allow room for mystery, ambiguity and interpretation.  The mark of truly good film is that it trust it’s audience and doesn’t talk down to it. “The Innkeepers” is just such a film.

It’s a slow burn that takes it’s time to build up the suspense and lay on the dread as thick as molasses while dropping in some well timed laughs and plenty of fun, snappy banter.  Ti West knocked it out of the park with this one, yes, “The Innkeepers” is well worth the visit.

Stay Trashy!

-Root




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