Posts Tagged ‘nudity

09
Apr
20

Evils of the Night (1985): Invasion of the Platelet Snatchers

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“Why you touchin’ my nipples like that?” – Jerry Butler as Eddie in Evils of the Night (1985)

a Primal Root written review

Man, the 1980’s seemed like a magical time when I was a child. I was born into them, 1982, as a matter of fact. The world was new to me, a bright, Technicolor spray of vomit filled with wonder, excitement, lessons and ideas that would boggle my mind and shape me into who I am today. Of course, later you lear the 1980’s were fucking terrible to huge, wide ranging section of our American society and the world abroad. You had the AIDS epidemic, the war on drugs, intense poverty rather than the prosperity Ronald Reagan’s trickle down economics gave us, the Iran Contra scandal, the shameful treatment of our Vietnam veterans…It was just was basically the pre-show entertainment before 2020. But  through the eyes of a fresh faced youth, the world was all Hi-C, chicken nuggets, movie monsters and big bouncy boobs.

But were you also aware that far off in distant galaxies they had it just as rough in the 1980’s? And, no, I’m not talking about Star Wars, besides, that happened a long time ago. No, I’m talking about the severe platelet shortage of 1985 that affected whatever planet John Carradine and Julie Newmar are from. What are platelets you ask? I’m glad you asked!

plate·let
/ˈplātlit/

noun

PHYSIOLOGY
plural noun: platelets
  1. a small colorless disk-shaped cell fragment without a nucleus, found in large numbers in blood and involved in clotting.

 

As we all know, the best platelets of all come from humans in their late teens, early 20’s which is why back in 1985 vast intergalactic civilizations were landing their UFO’s at local Lover’s Lanes, taking over abandoned hospitals, hiring sociopathic mechanics by paying them in gold coins to kidnap and deliver them captured kids, so that their platelets could be removed and beamed up to their Mother Ship for the survival of their species. Only, these brilliant civilizations with their space age technology never considered the one flaw in their planning…summer vacation!

“Network men analyzed many places and they decided that this was the ideal secluded college town. Well, Network was correct up to a point, but research didn’t know about summer vacations. College is closed until September which is too late for our purposes.” – Dr. Kozmar (John Carradine); Evils of the Night

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Okay, maybe that wasn’t ACTUALLY happening in the 1980’s but it sure as shit was going down at the Drive-In’s and Indoor Theaters of the time thanks to one of the strangest, most absurd and, to my amazement, thoroughly engrossing low budget amalgams of slasher horror, sci-fi and teen sex comedy I’ve ever witnessed, Evils of the Night.

Before the credits even roll we see the landing of a UFO from a far flung galaxy. No narration, no clue the what, when or where, and the credits unspool over two unlucky couples who decided to get it on under the cover of darkness in the woods surrounding the local lover’s lake. One couple gets right to it deep in the woods, where the couple next to the lake decides to smoke some of The Devil’s Harvest, before swimming and THEN plan on pummeling the her love piñata. “Great, now we can get HIGH!” the young man exclaims as the young bikini vixen pulls a dank joint from her thong clad crotch region. In a matter of second we are treated to some full frontal nudity from the sex starved co-ed in the woods before they start banging away doggy style after she lick lubes his rump splitter, while another cute couple gets high and goes swimming. She even gives him the rarest of sexual acts, the under water oral. Gang, I do not understand the logistics here. Then again, I am a severe asthmatic, so I can’t hold me breath all that long, especially not long enough to truly deliver any kind of memorable oral pleasure. But I guess it’s the effort that’s really endearing. Perhaps it’s different for you folks with normal, healthy, designer brand lungs. Feel free to let me know of your beneath the surface sexual encounters in the comments.

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Anyhoo, it all feels like the beginnings of  genuinely lovely evening, when all of a sudden some elderly gents wearing ski masks and grease stained mechanic work shirts…with their names on them, descend upon the young couple and leads to one of my favorite kills I’ve ever seen. You know that couple that is going at it with the fella burrowing from behind? Well, one of the masked mechanics sneaks up behind him and strangles him to death while his lascivious lover continues to pound out the veil! It’s fucking fantastic, she has no idea he is dead and continues to ride the fuck trolly to Mr. Fleshpod’s neighborhood! She steadily slows her motion as she realizes something is wrong, turns around, and is abducted. It is one of the funniest, perversely sexiest and simultaneously disturbing kills I’ve seen in a while. I know there’s something similar to this in Adam Green’s bland 2010 slasher film, Hatchet II, but Evils Of The Night did it to much greater impact, if you ask me.

Wait a minute, that’s 80’s porn star Crystal Breeze fucking the strangled corpse of her lover playing “First Girl Having Sex!” Would you believe this is the same year she starred in The Sperminator, Flaming Tongues and Cummin’ Alive as well as nineteen other porn flicks? Man, 1985 was a busy year for Crystal! Not only did she deliver the EXCEPTIONAL full frontal female nudity, but she also knocked her brief roll out of the park. Crystal, you are a legend and us sleazoids are forever in your debt.

One of the abducted teens, the stoner boy in tiny shorts, comes to in the abandoned hospital now inhabited by sexy ALIEN nurses wearing tiny glittery skirts and and several damn pounds of hairspray and make-up. He manages to escape while the two nurses, I shit you not, begin suggestively fondling one another. Huh? So, tiny shorts manages to overhear Dr. Kozmar (John Carradine) and Dr. Zarma’s (Julie Newmar) plan to extract as many platelets as possible from their victims before they die, any extracted after death, contaminates the whole batch. The platelets are used to stop bone deterioration int he elders of their kind and ALSO allows for them to live for hundreds of year. So, would it be accurate to call these platelet snatchers from beyond infinity intergalactic vampires? Feels accurate to me! Tiny Shorts then escapes into the woods only to be blasted to death with neon green lasers from one of the nurses. In his final moments, he gives one of the most spastic and wonderful laser guided death performances I’ve ever seen.

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Cut to the next day at Lover’s Lake where all the cool kids are sipping on Pepsi, swimming, playing pranks, spying on two topless girls covering one another in tanning oil which, in turn, inspires your girls friend to take her top off and try to fuck you on the beach, which you turn down. Seriously, it looks like this Lover’s Lake is happening with a bunch fun loving kids. The stand out amongst them, and who the poster art seems to be featuring, is the blonde in a tight, white and red horizontally striped shirt named Connie (G.T. Taylor, this is her only film role) who is incredibly sweet and kind of a dunce, but is a genuinely fun and charming character to be around. She’s out camping with her friends Brian (David Hawk, in his only film role), Heather (Bridget Holloman from Slumber Party ’57 and Stoogemania) and the engaged to be married love birds Ron (Keith Fisher from Cyberon and an episode of Diff’rent Strokes) and Nancy (Karrie Emerson, the raven haired beauty from Chopping Mall and White Dog). They spend their days frolicking in the sun and at night they put their hands in their campfire to see who is the better man (hint: It’s the man smart enough NOT to injure himself to prove his manhood) and talk about penises.  “Why make a big deal out of such a small thing?” Connie asks as Brian and Ron debate sticking their dicks in the fire to prove their manhood.

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From Left to Right: Ron (Keith Fisher), Nancy (Karrie Emerson), Connie (G.T. Taylor), Heather (Bidget Holloman) Brian (David Hawk)

There’s another unrelated couple who break into the cleanest, most well kept abandoned home I’ve ever seen. There’s no shit stains on the fuck mattress, the floors looks to be freshly swept and mopped, none of the windows are busted and there’s narry a cigarette butt, beer can or crusted over used condom in sight! What kind of abandoned, haunted fuck shack is this? Anyhoo, the couple Eddie (Jerry Butler as Paul Siederman, prolific porn actor from 1987 to 1995. You may have seen him the XXX films Snake Eyes (1985) or Star Angel (1986) and Joyce (legendary porn actress, Amber Lynn, who is STILL working in the adult industry to this very day, which is remarkably long career in pornography. She has won to AVGN Awards, one for best Sex Scene in a Feature Adult Film in 1986’s Ten Little Maidens and one in 2018’s Humanitarian Achievement Award) strip down and start going to town on the incredibly posh mattress at this crab shack. Well, she strips nude anyway, he actually keeps his jeans on, which I will never understand in slasher films. Fellas, have you EVER fucked with your pants on? Are you afraid of losing them? It’s so much easier just to take them off, I cannot even imagine the zipper burn one would inflict on their wang doodle. Also, I would be remiss if I did not mention Eddie’s dog lick form of smooching. This guy licks Joyce like a canine going after piece of Beefaroni. It’s probably the most energetic moment in the film as he licks all over Joyce’s tits and neck and chin and sucks on her chin, and it’s kind of…kind of gross. Perhaps that sort of tongue bath thing was the height of eroticism in 1985, but for me in 2020 it’s kind of gross.

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Joyce gets a tongue bath from Eddie in the nicest abandoned house I’ve ever seen.

Soon we learn that the masked mechanics are actually two great elderly screen actors who turned to horror cinema as soon as the choice rolls stopped coming their way. The two murderous morons for hire are chunky yet fleet-footed Fred (Aldo Ray from many classic films of the 50’s like 1955’s We’re No Angels and 1958’s The Naked and The Dead and would later be featured in 1986’s Star Slammer and his final film, 1991’s Shock ’em Dead) and the intensely perverse and sociopathic Kurt (Neville Brand from the Oscar winning 1959 film Stalag 17, Birdman of Alcatraz from 1962. He eventually went the horror route with Tobe Hooper’s Eaten Alive in 1976, Without Warning in 1980, and Evils of the Night would be his final screen roll.)  These two are introduce as playful lunk heads as they maintain their auto repair shop, but that playful, dopey demeanor can turn on a dime as they strike without warning, cracking your skull with a tire iron, and putting you out with some either, and then dragging you to the abandoned hospital under the promise of gold coins so you can be sucked dry by the vampires from outer space!

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Kurt and Fred: The Burt and Ernie of Space Vampire Murder for Hire! Gold Coins only, please.

 

Let me tell you, Evils of the Night is one exceedingly fun and effective b-movie. It actually takes the time to get you invested in the teen characters, who are actually fun, sweet, kind and adorably dopey. They more often than not fight back with all their might against the aggressors and you cannot help but root for them, especially when it comes down to Connie, Heather and Brian who end up tied up in the clutches of the perpetually horny and blood thirsty Kurt. I’m not going to spoil anything, but anyone can die at anytime and it can be genuinely heart breaking because these characters are so much fun to be around. Not only that, but the reactions of friends watching friends die is deeply effective, too, and that goes a long way to making slasher film murder really impact the audience.  David Hawk, who plays Brian, deserves some recognition for really going above and beyond in his grief stricken, rage fueled performance. His is not the norm for such Trash Cinema, where the emotion feels greatly genuine and I found deeply unsettling. I began Evil of the Night laughing my ass off at the cheesiness of the proceedings, but by the films final act I was surprised to find myself rooting on characters in scenes that are actually suspenseful. It goes from laughably cheesy to legit horror out of nowhere and it’s enough to give you whiplash.

Evils of the Night (1985)

 

Evils of the Night was directed by first timer Mardi Rustam, who shows an affinity for low budget horror, which makes since, since he worked in some capacity as a producer on such legendary no budget horrors as Tobe Hooper’s Eaten Alive and Al Adamson’s Dracula vs. Frankenstein.  That’s one Hell of a schlock horror pedigree! It’s a shame he only directed one other film, James Dean: Race With Destiny in 1996, because Trash Cinema really could have used more films exciting, weird, and uncompromisingly unique as his debut feature. I know the gentleman is still alive, so who knows? Maybe he has a few filthy films left in him.

Evils of the Night  is an honest to goodness Trash Cinema treasure and one well worth checking out. It has a little something for everyone including fans of classic actors and actresses from the 50’s and 60’s as well a hard working porn stars of the 80’s! Whre the Hell else are you going to find the likes of Crystal Breeze porking a corpse while celebrated character actor Neville Brand drills holes (literally, with a drill, that’s not a sexual metaphor) into nubile young women?  It’s unpredictable, filled with fun, no budget science fiction tropes, great goofy characters, gore, one liners, gratuitous female nudity, awesome villains, awesome 80’s soundtrack and plenty of scenes that will either leave you laughing, scratching you head or actually hoping the characters you like survive…the EVILS OF THE NIGHT!

I am awarding Evils of the Night FIVE out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

WARNING! THIS EVILS OF THE NIGHT TRAILER CONTAINS MASSIVE SPOILERS! I HIGHLY RECOMMEND YOU DO NOT WATCH IT UNLESS YOU’VE ALREADY SEEN THE FILM!

Honestly, this trailer gives away the last third of the film and there are some awesome surprises and genuine shocks. Go see the movie first. I guarantee you won’t regret it.

 

 

 

 

23
Mar
20

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

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“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

 

 

 

17
Feb
20

(NSFW) The Arena (1974) Ferocious Female Freedom Fighters

Arena poster

 

“The Romans have taught you to live like an animal!” Pam Grier as Mamawi in The Arena

a Primal Root written review

Do you like gladiator movies? Son, if the gladiator movie you’re speaking of stars such absolute goddesses and B-Movie Trash Cinema Legends as Pam Grier and Margaret Markov, you bet your stanky little ass I do! Coming off the red hot success of the 1973 prison break flick, Black Mama,White Mama, producer Roger Corman was quick to bank on the appeal of those two amazonian beauties for yet another action packed no-budget flick and came up with the sandals and savagery epic known affectionately as The Arena. 

The film begins in ancient Rome where we are witness to several raids and murder fests by the Romans where peaceful Druids and perpetually dancing tribes have their groovy rituals interrupted with unprovoked surprise blood shed where everyone is chopped into brisket and only the sexiest are kept alive to be sold into slavery. Among those captured are the tall, blonde, gorgeous Druid Priestess Bodicia (Margaret Markov) and the absolute knock out, Mamawi (Pam Grier) who are to be auctioned off to some poor white fat slob in a toga where I personally can’t imagine any of these badass, muscular, obviously strong and hardened women being forced to do ANYTHING by these wimpy dough boys. But, I will do my best to suspend my disbelief as the incredible specimens of womanhood are shackled and paraded out in rags.  Thankfully, Bodicia, Mamawi and two fellow captives are sold to an incredibly wealthy Roman ruler named Timarchus (Daniele Vargas). The ladies are quickly stripped nekkid, washed up, put in shiny new clothes and forced to work as servants to the spectators in…THE ARENA! Where gladiators are forced to fight to the death night after night for the amusement of the fat, drunk wealthy pigs sitting up above the kill floor.

However, the crowds have grown bored with watching men fighting animals and other men so Timarchus is looking for the next big thing to keep the masses pleased and complicit int heir lifestyle. When he witnesses the enslaved women having a knock down, drag-out fight in the kitchen, he realizes the pleasures of woman on woman battle and Female of Female Gladiatorial Death Battle is born! The appeal is obvious and the popularity instantaneous. But as these lady gladiators are forced the kill one another for the sweaty, worthless, wealthy they begin to plot a bloody, brutal rebellion to overthrow the powers that be and reclaim their freedom.

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Not nearly as misleading as it might seem, there actually were women gladiators, the minimal budget of The Arena is aided tremendously by being shot in Cinceitta, Italy’s primary studio, which provided sets, props and costumes which added to the production value.  There is great attention paged to the savagery and callous nature of the gladiatorial combat and barbarity of the time period, which works really well when juxtaposed with a love story that blossoms between one of the slaves and a battle trainer as well as the relationships that grow between the lead characters who come from drastically different backgrounds who must work together to overthrow the powers that be. And once you get past the gratuitous forced shower scene early in the film, The Arena is fairly restrained when it comes to it’s nudity. Of course, there is plenty of lovely female bodies on display, but it is far less gratuitous than you’d expect from an exploitation movie of this caliber.

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Grier and Markov are both a delight to watch on screen. Their battles in The Arena are not particularly well choreographed, but the actresses give it their all no matter what is called for and the audience cannot help but feel for their plight as they are forced to battle and murder their friends in the ring. And once they rise up and begin to revolt, I genuinely felt concern and hoped they would make it out of their enslaved Hellhole and reclaim their freedom. It’s hard not to cheer as these sweaty, blood, scantly clad warrior women hack, chop, and slash their way to freedom through a plethora of Roman soldiers desperately trying to cut them down. Pam Grier would, of course, became one of the hardest working actresses to come out of the era and became a cinematic icon while Markov ended up marrying one of The Arena’s producers, Mark Damon, made one more film entitled There Is No 13, and retired from acting.

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The Arena has a pretty impressive horror pedigree with Joe D’Amato (director of Emanuelle in America and Antropophagus) as the film’s cinematographer and Joe Dante (director of Gremlins, The Howling and Piranha) as editor. Rumor has is D’Amato helped out tremendously with the film’s extended battle scenes and was said to have taken over directing duties for those scenes from credited director Steve Carver who went on to direct Big Bad Mama and Lone Wolf McQuade.  Another fun fact, filmmaker Martin Scorsese (Taxi Driver, Goodfellas) claims Roger Corman offered him the directing duties for The Arena after Scorsese finished his film Boxcar Bertha. Instead, Scorsese decided to go on and direct Mean Streets instead.

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The Arena was one of the final death gasps of a long Hollywood cinematic tradition of sand and sandal epics. The genre went into hibernation for a couple decades before being resurrected by Ridley Scott with the Oscar winning 2000 film, Gladiator. The story is pretty similar to The Arena, only recasting the lead as a white guy, one cannot help but wonder if, possibly, there might be some inspiration obtained through this Pam Grier & Margaret Markov vehicle.

The Arena is a dramatic, fun, very entertaining bare bones tale of injustice and rising up against those who own us. Despite it’s obvious low budget, the production values are solid, the story is streamlined and well told, the performances are far above average and sell the drama better than one might expect, and it;s impossible to keep your eyes off Margaret and Pam who both are just gorgeous, dynamic performers who give their all no matter what the limitations of the movie are. The performances from these two ladies are what make the film an infinitely watchable piece of classic Trash Cinema well worth your time.

I award The Arena  FOUR out of FIVE DUMPSTER NUGGETS.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

23
Jan
20

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

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a Primal Root written review

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

 

 

 

 

07
Jan
20

(NSFW) Emanuelle in America (1977): Fuck the Rich

Emanuelle America

a Primal Root written review

Man, 60’s and 70’s sexploitation cinema produced some of the most trailblazing, creative, no holds barred and completely underrated films of their era. One series of films that has always struck hard with the sexual content and even harder with it’s bizarre social commentary, is the Spanish-Italian Black Emanuelle film series, especially once the elder statesman of Italian schlock, Joe D’Amato (Porno Holocaust, Erotic Nights of The Living Dead) tackled the series. First, a little history of the Black Emanuelle film franchise.
The History Lesson:

The original French erotic softcore pornographic film from 1975, Emmanuelle, starring the late, sensational Sylvia Kristel and based on the novel by the same name, was a critical flop, but a blockbuster sensation in France, and is still among the highest grossing French films ever produced and ended up creating a film series all it’s own that’s 7 movies deep (hehehe) and includes such titles as Emmanuelle: The Joys of a Woman (1975) and Goodbye Emmanuelle (1977). Not only that, but the title alone has been picked up and used for late night Skin-A-Max style softcore porn films far into this century to the delight of teenage boys and old perverts like myself who are just about over the hill.

But, for my money, the greatest thing to come out of these soft focus French skin flicks, were the grimy, gorgeous, down and dirty sexually deviant series of films Emmanuelle inspired, namely, the Black Emanuelle series, which wasted no time debuting on the scene in 1975, riding the coattails of the original film’s success, with, YOU GUESSED IT! Black Emanuelle! Black Emanuelle introduces us to our leading lady played by Laura Gemser, a truly awe inspiring beauty with dark eyes, long, raven black hair down to her waist and hails from Indonesia. Laura plays a hard boiled, sexually liberated American reporter living in New York and is about as distant from the casual, almost sweet sexuality of the original Kristel led Emmanuelle series. The franchise maintained it’s softcore porn trappings up until Italian sleaze maestro Joe D’Amato took the reigns in 1976 with Emanuelle in Bangkok, where series started it’s descent into utter depravity featuring gang rape, depictions of cockfighting and a Mongoose vs. Snakesbattle.

And that leads us to…
Emanuelle in America!

The fourth film in the Black Emanuelle film series and, without a doubt, the series most notorious entry, 1977’s Emanuelle in America once again features the truly captivating Laura Gemser as Emanuelle, nude photographer and photo journalist, who goes on a world wide adventure that leads us into some pretty dark corridors of late 1970’s human sexuality. Sure, some of the stuff is fun, but man…this mother fucker isn’t afraid to take the audience to some brutal, Hellish places. Now that I think about it, the very first sequence in the films sets the town pretty damn well. We are reintroduced to Emanuelle during the opening credits as she has a photo shoot with a handful of stark nekkid models with plenty of invasive camera shots pushing in on various nude parts of these lovely ladies before Emanuelle calls it a wrap, heads to her car, and is surprised to find a gun totting, acne scarred asshole in the back of her car and orders her to pull of the road at gun point. “I just want to murder you, that’s all!” Huh, well, who can argue with that. Once he gets her pulled over, he climbs into the passenger seat besides her and begins giving he the run down of why he wants her dead and it basically sounds like a Trump supporter talking about why they hate”Feminazis.” You’re sinful! You take naked photos of people and that’s evil!” “A woman should never take her clothes off unless it;s in the bedroom!” Emanuelle keeps her cool, figures out this guy has girlfriends who has modeled nude for her and that he is still a virgin. What does Emanuelle do to deescalate the situation? Tells the confused, psychotic, violent incel of the 70’s that sex is neither dirty or wrong and can be a natural wonderful thing, then proceeds to unzip the young man’s pants and suck his cock for the split second it takes to get him off. It’s fucking adorable, especially when the guy runs out of the car holding on to his wiener for dear life as Emanuelle wipes her mouth, laughs, and goes about her day. It’s a perfect little moment of light and dark, good and evil and laughing in the face of those with the lamest of sexual hangups. Maybe don’t fill your heart with hate and you’ll actually find some love on this planet. Trust me, if this movie was made today, she would have bitten his dick off, made him eat it and then fired the gun up his asshole. Trust me on this.

So, with this scene in place we are off to the races with Emanuelle in America, which is kind of a weird title when you consider she lives there and works out of New York, but I digress. Emanuelle heads to Europe to investigate a tycoon named Eric Van Darren (Lars Bloch) who reportedly has a harem filled with willingly purchased women (aka: sex slaves) one woman to represent each zodiac sign. Emanuelle joins this modern day harem, which looks to be a pretty sweet set up. You get your own room, free meals, a pool, sauna, AND you get paid! Of course, you also have to fuck this petulant bearded man child who nearly cries when Emanuelle starts kicking his ass in Poker Dice during a fucking adorable scene where Emanuelle mops the floor with this infantile bafoon in about five shakes of the dice while all his guests and harem girls watch on in delighted silence. There’s plenty of nekkid ladies just chilling and hanging out and fingering one another in the pool as well as a really sweet girl on girl scene with Emanuelle and a fellow harem girl named Gemini in the sauna who feels unloved by her Tycoon pay-to-play fuck buddy man child and Emanuelle is the kind of sexual dynamo to show her just what love is with a properly placed tongue to the lower lady lips. What am I forgetting to mention? Hrrm…Oh yeah!

You also get to see a naked woman stroke a horses erect penis. Yes. Right out of the gate, in her very first journalist adventure in Emanuelle in America, you see a disrobed woman stroked a fully engorged horse cock. Not going to lie, I was genuinely shocked. I saw the woman getting naked in the horse stable and thought nothing of it and this it hit me like a ton of bricks. “Holy shit! She’s going to jerk off that horse!” I yelled out loud to myself. And, sure enough, she grabbed that hefty, shiny pony fucker and stroked it like a champ. No money shot, thankfully. But still, what a wonderful moment of nasty utter depravity to really jolt the audience and make you wonder just what the fuck are we in for during the rest of this goddamn sleazefest.

With the winnings from her killer streak in Poker Dice, Emanuelle buys her freedom and heads off to Venice with Alfredo Elvize, Duke of Mount Elba (Gabriele Tinti) where she shacks up with both The Duke and his wife and they get into a threesome right after he discovers his wife with banging a chunky member of the wait staff whom The Duke sends him off through the massive corridors of his gigantic magnificent gold encrusted mansion, hairy butt cheeks flapping all the way down the hall as Emanuelle giggles. During the following night’s gala for several dozen senators, their wives and other assorted stuffy aristocrats, Emanuele, decked out in this fucking gorgeous oynx gown with a plunging neckline and a slit all the way up to Valhalla that just hangs off of her and leaves little to the imagination and is my favorite of her outfits in the movie, stumbled upon The Duke’s art forgery studio. It’s a plot thread that goes nowhere, but what REALLY interests Emanuelle is a this body builder dude with a helmet of blonde haid and a five pound moustache and golden color around his neck with the number 34 printed on it. Emanuelle approaches the man, hardly says a word, and already has the stud seduced. But, damn, wouldn’t you know it? He is literally OWNED by a super wealthy older white woman who, trying to be kind here, isn;t quite on the same level as Emanuelle in the…any department. The Stud’s owner mentions a private island for single rich women where male sex slaves are auctioned off to the highest bidder and they must bring all of their masters sexual fantasies to life. NOW THAT’S THE MOTHER FUCKING SCOOP OF THE CENTURY! Or, at least it will lead to more sexcapades? I’m betting on sexcapades.

Well, the stuffy, dull as dirt gala turns into an unbridled orgy after a senator finds a golden peanut inside of a slice of cake, is rewarded with a nude young woman covered in icing he proceeds to lick from head to toe, and everyone quits their grinnin; and drops their linen for the stuffiest rich people orgy since Eyes Wide Shut! Only this time you get to see a woman give REALLY bad oral sex to some poor schmuck who is just WISHING it was the sultry Emanuel smearing her lipstick on his dipstick. Seriously, this woman uses all teeth and keeps flicking his peehole with her tongue. Thankfully we don;t ever see the guys face, or his expressions of boredom and, or, terror/suspense would have turned the film into a screwball comedy.

Before Emanuelle heads off to the private island to see how the old, rich, single ladies get frisky, she meets up with her boyfriend from back in New York, Bill (Riccardo Salvino), who is also a journalist and happens to be on a layover. The only have about an hour so, in one o the films sweetest sequences, the two run around Venice trying to find a place to have a quickie. The run all over the place and finally decide to go at it right outside the doorway of a room where a full orchestra is rehearsing Vivaldi’s Four Seasons (Spring). It’s light, sweet and a welcome bit of one on one fun. But, like so many joys in this world, it is cut short as they jump cut to Emanuelle arriving at Rich Woman’s Pleasure Island, which has very strict privacy rules set in place to protect their wealthy clientele.

While at the resort Emanuele witnesses some actual hardcore tender porn moments as one rich woman orders her sex slave to fuck her Tarzan style and we are treated to some extreme closeups of his wangdoodle doing the slip n’slop to her love shanty. We also see fellows stripping as Zorro, some casual cock sucking, a multi-racial threesome, but what really captures Emanuelle’s attention is one room in particular where a woman is getting her tits sucked and her bacon strip sizzled while watching a film…to Emanuelle’s very subdued shock, a distinctly brutal snuff film.

Snuff Film

Noun

Slang. pornographic film that shows an actual murder of one of the performers, as at the end of a sadistic act.

Someone on the island reports that they’ve seen Emanuelle sneaking around taking photos with her super secret necklace camera and she is held captive by the woman who runs the island. Emanuelle quickly seduces her by appealing to her repressed lesbian tendencies, making her take a bite from a cock and balls shaped aphrodisiac cookie, getting her drunk, stripping her naked and pouncing on her like a lynx! They begin to go at it before Emanuelle steals her clothes and jumps in the back of the private island to airport courtesy car and makes her escape! She repays the driver by getting naked, yanking his knob out of his trousers and gobbling it like mad, causing him to wreck his car…but he still gets it on with her in the front seat of his totaled courtesy car. I’m certain it was totally worth the price of the repairs.

 

Emanuelle, now determined to find the source of these snuff films heads to Washington D.C. where she seduces a U.S. Senator who is reportedly a large supported of the snuff film market. He has a wife, kids…and a pleasure condo where takes Emanuelle to get down and dirty as only the rich and powerful can. When Emanuelle requests something truly hardcore and forbidden, he is qucik to pull down a screen and project a horrifyingly bloody and brutal snuff porn loop featuring women getting pile-driven impaled through their vaginas onto massive spikes, nipples being sliced of of screaming women and women getting sodomized with hooks ripping through their cheeks. Emanuelle watches in horror and it is edited together with a sequence of her and the senator flying in a private place to an undisclosed location in South America where she witnesses for herself the studio where these dehumanizing, savage rapes and murders are occurring and being filmed for the delight and hardons of the white, rich and powerful back in The States. Turns out women from all over the world are kidnapped and sold to these filmmakers to create these sick, disgusting, horrible murder spank films. Jump cut to Emanuelle sitting straight up in the senator’s fuck bungalow bed (“What was it? A Dream? A Nightmare? I saw something horrible!”) where the senator tells her they took LSD and she was just hallucinating everything. Sure, that sounds reasonable. Emanuelle buys this really lame explanation and heads back to New York.

However, back in New York, while discussing this turn of events with her editor, he reveals to her that they had the pictures she took with her hidden camera while she was “hallucinating” on the senator’s bed, and there they are…a dozen or more images of the film she supposedly dreamed up in clear focus and absolutely horrifying. Unfortunately, her editor must follow the orders of those from the top, and he cannot publish her article or the photos, instead, burying them in the archives. It’s a devastating turn of events (“Other girls are going to get dragged into it, and we’ll become accomplices in this whole filthy business!) that has Emanuelle considering hanging up her camera for good.

Emanuelle in America is simultaneously dark and beautiful, containing some genuinely sweet, erotic moments shuffled in with some deeply twisted, perverted content. For sleaze film connoisseurs, Emanuelle in America is a goldmine, containing every single element you could ever possibly hope a greasy, grimy, sexploitation film could deliver. It’s such a strange juxtaposition, these light soft porn elements, next to hardcore pornography, brutal fake snuff scenes and real animal husbandry.  It’s not a great work of art, it;s not particularly well crafted or staged, but in it’s refusal to mold itself to expectations and Joe D’Amato’s willingness to go to the steamy, grotesque depths of carnal human desires and lusts, and actress Laura Gemser’s strength and willingness to go along for the ride and D’Amato’s vision to life, make this a truly remarkable and harrowing piece of Trash Cinema.

What I also find alluring about Emanuelle in America is it’s theme of contemporary slavery, people using other people as a means to an end. Each adventure that Emanuelle goes on, every scoop she investigates, has to do with people selling themselves for the pleasures of others all leading up to folks being stolen, raped and murdered for profit. It’s just another form of the rich fucking the poor. There’s no love in any of these scenarios. WE have a scene where a woman NEEDS love and Emanuelle must show her tenderness. The young blonde stud wants Emanuelle, but he is a kept slave. Truly, the only moments of genuine love we witness in the film are between Emanuelle and Bill, her New York lover. The genuinely care for one another and feel joy when in one another’s presence. These fleeting moments are the happiest in the film The wealthy are simply taking life from the poor, the nameless, and unknown just as they have since the beginning of time. And when these crimes are finally brought to light, at the end of the day, these people are still the ones calling the shot and will deny their story be told. And folks, that makes me want to puke more than any artificial snuff footage, horse hand-job or uncoordinated toothy blowjob. It’s a scathing indictment against the the rich and wealthy elitists which has given Emanuelle in America a lasting power and far more relevant than I’m sure it’s makers ever anticipated. Beyond the film’s shock factors, we are given plenty to ponder over by the time the credits roll.

This is one for the devotees, those who are willing to go there. This is not for the mainstream or those who like their films lite, easy and aimed to please. No, Emanuelle in America is quite possibly one of the most daring, uncompromising and gnarly sexploitation films of it’s era. And for those with the fortitude for such a film, such a reprehensible and perverse Trash Cinema offering, Emmanuelle in America is a must watch.

For ultra sleazy Trash Cinema fans ONLY! Notorious for the right reasons, Joe D’Amato’s Emanuelle in America is Sexploitation cinema at it’s most experimental, gnarly and bizarre. A must see for those who can take it.

I am awarding Emanuelle in America FIVE out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

03
Jan
20

(NSFW) Return to Nuke ‘Em High Volume 1:My So-Called Toxic Taco

 

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“You just fucked with the wrong post-apocalyptic hell bitch!” – Tara E. Miller as Rachel Ruysch in Return to Nuke ‘Em High Volume 1

a Primal Root written review

Since the very beginning of my life Troma films has loomed largely in my life. As a child of the 80’s I saw their movies on the video store shelves. Titillating, perverse and imagination fueling titles like The Toxic Avenger, Bloodsucking Freaks, Rabid Grannies and Surf Nazis Must Die immediately drew my burgeoning Trash Cinema hungry eyes to them. The vividly colored box art promised over the top gore, none stop dick and fart jokes and a plethora of nekkid women. What these videos promised was everything my eight year old heart longed for. Who the Hell am I trying to kid, it’s everything my 37 year old heart still longs for with every beat of my filthy horn dog little heart.

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Writer/Director and Troma’s co-founder and lovable mascot, Lloyd Kaufman, has gone back to the well again with a sequel to his video rental store mega hit Class of Nuke ‘Em High (1986), with Return to Nuke ‘Em High (2013), and Kickstarter, fan funded toxic goop soaked tit and gore filled epic that was apparently so massive in scope it had to be stretched into two separate volumes like a fucking Harry Potter film.

What I am happy to report is that Return to Nuke ‘Em High Volume 1 is a homecoming WELL worth the wait. After the events of Class of Nuke ‘Em High, which saw Tromaville High School and the the Tromaville Nuclear Power Plant blown to smithereens, Tromaville High is rebuilt and sleazier than ever, where school shootings happen just about every day to point students yawn while they happen, AND they are the testing ground for the Tromaorganic Foodstuffs Conglomerate, which just so happens to be built over the site of the old, demolished, tainted soil where the nuclear power plant once stood.

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We are introduced to the new motley class of Nuke ‘Em high. With a ludicrously tone deaf and nerdy glee club, blind security staff, a gym shower chock-full of naked, laughing, bouncy breasts nubile young women, the overweight, over enthusiastic, little pierced penised Zac (Zac Amico), the psychotically horny and self absorbed white boy, Eugene (Clay von Carlowitz) and an highly animated, bug eyed Principal Westley (Babette Bombshell) who is in the pocket of Troma organic Foodstuffs’ president, Lee Harvey Herzkauf (Lloyd Kaufman). All this is established before the camera moves into the janitor’s closet where two students are porking away on the janitor’s cot, when an overhead pipe explodes, green, toxic goo falls all over their feet (to which they are un-phased and and keep squeeshing pissers) and a slithery, slimy, toxic cock monster falls out of the pipe, slides into the guys ass , causing his actual penis to explode off and melt into a puddle of goo before his fuck buddy begins melting (tits first) into a puddle of putrid green and red slop. The janitor enters, sits down, notices the gory puddle of death now napping on his cot, shrugs with disinterest, and our movie begins on just the right Tromatic note.

 

Rich new girl to Tromaville High School, Lauren (Catherine Corcoran), who has a deep love for her pet duck Kevin (Kevin the Duck) becomes is an instant outcast at school, butting heads immediately with fellow classmate, Chrissy (Asta Paredes), who maintains a hardly noticed investigative blog uncovering the corruption and dangerous contamination coming out of Tromaorganic.

Before you can say “Go Green” the glowing green toxic waste contaminated foodstuff is passed off as guacamole and served to the guinea pig students of Tromaville High School under the guise of Taco Tuesday and transforming the tone deaf glee club into the mutated hyper violent second coming of THE CRETINS! Their reign of terror begins without hesitation as they shoot down pedestrians, and throw teachers and dogs over the railing at Tromaville Falls to their chunky, splattery demises. The Cretins look better than ever in their new duds and awesome makeup. Not only that, but they now sing beautifully together, belting out barbershop quartet ditties while viciously mutilating and killing everyone in their path.

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It’s not long before Lauren runs afoul (hehe) of The Cretins who “Duck Rape” her by lodging the recently irradiated Kevin the Duck down her throat. Lauren runs around Tromaville looking for someone to help dislodge Kevin from her gullet as Kevin shoots eggs out of his tiny pink duck vagina (huh?), but alas, duck dislodging is not covered by Obama care. It isn’t until Lauren runs across Chrissy that they work together and get Kevin out of there, although he now has glowing green eyes, a beak full of sharp teeth and if foaming at the mouth. Chrissy and Lauren end up the recently foreclosed upon house of one of their friends and their attraction to one another cannot be repressed. They begin writhing together in bikinis on the dance floor to erotic sounds of Rapedoor’s toe tapper “Last Song,” before Lauren takes Chrissy’s hand, leads her up to a squatter’s lair and they begin a wonderful and exceedingly long sex scene, where the two get nekkid, munch some toxic tasty taco and exchange nuclear goo as they slide one another the tongue, a side effect of prolonged irradiated duck rape, I imagine.

The fun is interrupted when The Cretins show up and toss a couple Molotov cocktails through the windows and burn the place to the ground. That night, Chrissy and Lauren have the very same dream…Lauren’s belly expands and her tots begin to spray toxic waste where Chrissy grows a massive toxic cock that she can wield as a weapon that also feasts of flesh. With their new toxic powers they head to The Cretin’s hideout to exact some revenge.

When Chrissy and Lauren meet up at school the next day, they aren’t sure if it was all a dream or not…but their “good friend” Zac, the fat and worthless ginger in the Alfred Packard: The Musical shirt, is tasked with finding a way to black mail Chrissy in order for her to take down her blog so there will no longer be anyone airing out Tromaorganic’s dirty laundry and Zac can join The Cretins so he can finally have some place he belongs. So what does Zac do? He gets a shot of Chrissy and Lauren locking lips at school, which if shown to the homophobic public, could prove fatal. The film ends on a cliffhanger in the girl’s locker room shower with an homage to Brian de Palma’s Stephen King adaptation, Carrie and a big ‘ol “TO BE CONTINUED…” popping up before the end credits. Needless to say, I was left chomping at the bit for more.

Man, Return to Nuke ‘Em High feels like Uncle Lloyd has been sitting on a powder keg of ideas that just sort of exploded in front of the camera. There are plot stops and starts, characters brought up that we never see again, narrative dead ends a plenty, but the manic energy of this flick never lets up even if it does feel totally lopsided. It’s a celebration of bad taste, political incorrectness, human anatomy, absolute carnage and anarchy wrapped up as one sloppy green slobbery smooch of an adolescent subhumanoid fever dream.

Like all Troma movies there are it’s strengths and it’s weaknesses. I was worried the Troma feel might be missing as soon as I noticed it looked to be shot on digital as opposed to film, which according to Lloyd Kaufman’s book Make Your Own Damn Movie, is something he would never EVER do. But, here he is, shooting in digital. I asked him at DragonCon once why he decided to shoot on digital after deriding the format so thoroughly in his book. His answer? “It’s so much cheaper!” Proving the old saying, “Don’t knock it till you try it.” Thankfully, the digital element honestly works in the films favor, lending the film a sleek, pristine sheen not typical of Troma films, coming across as the birth of a new era for the company.

One thing that annoyed the shit out of me were the title cards introducing every character and giving a bit of backstory. It felt lazy and like a last minute attempt to cover up a typically haphazard Troma screenplay. Usually the bizarre characters are left to establish themselves without us having to be directly told with text on screen. These characters fill a certain niche in a cinematic high school story, something we are all familiar with. So, I guess my one gripe is that it feels like they didn’t shoot enough coverage to make everything in the story work and shoved some sort of funny text explaining this, something I can’t recall Troma ever doing in the past.

But, all in all, Return to Nuke ‘Em High volume 1 is a fine return to form for these long time, ever present purveyors of filthy, grotesque and highly enjoyable Trash Cinema. The cast is a top notch rag tag team of Troma style performers, all willing to give their all and then some and, like always, add a screwball charm that is undeniable. The effects are as cheap and gnarly as ever with lubed up gore effects are deployed and freakish monsters come slithering out of and into every orifice. And there’s boobs a plenty, all shot with a close eye for bouncing, jiggle fondle potential, as we have all come to love and expect from Troma. What I wasn’t expecting at all was a genuine attempt at an effective love story between Lauren and Chrissy. You see it coming, but you always expect this shit to just be a lowbrow set up for someone to make queef joke, and of course there are queef jokes, but the love story is developed over time and amazingly sweetly, gently. I haven;t seen Troma try to actually pull off ‘sweet’ since Lloyd Kaufman and James Gunn’s Tromeo & Juliet. It was a pleasant surprise and one I really admired. Especially when it got to that lesbian sex scene. It made the whole sequence infinitely more boner inducing. There’s even some cameos that, when watching in 2019, are kind of heartwarming and heart breaking, Namely Stan Lee as the stories’ opening narrator and Lemmy Kilmister as The President of the United States. Rest in peace, you two, it was fun getting to spend time with you again.

 

What I’m saying is The Return to Nuke ‘Em High is a class reunion WELL worth attending. Can the Troma team keep this level of excellence up in Volume Two? Stay tuned, you Cretins!

I’m awarding The Return to Nuke ‘Em High FOUR out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets.

Stay Toxic!

-Root

18
Dec
19

To All A Goodnight (1980) or Why Is There No Holiday Orgy at The Finishing School?

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“Lock your door, too. I want you to be safe, Nancy. There’s evil here, I can feel it. The Devil’s here.” – Ralph the Caretake, To All A Goodnight

Merry Trashmas, Gang! Man, there’s nothing that gives me the warm fuzzies this time of year like huddling in front of the dumpster fire, roasting rats over an open flame and popping in a classic holiday themed horror film, of which, there is a veritable plethora to choose from. There’s one I’ve always tried to make it through, however. But the bootlegs have been so terrible, I never quite made it to the end due to me being unable to make out just what the Hell was happening through the dark, muddy pictures. It’s a slasher film from 1980, right when the slasher film boom was really taking off entitled To All A Goodnight. It’s a Christmas slasher which takes place at a finishing school for girls over the holiday break. So, having seen a slasher or two over the years I know exactly what to expect. Women bickering, some tits and ass and good, old fashioned splatter. But what really caught my attention was that this film is directed by none other than Wes Craven’s Last House on the Left alumni, David Hess! Yes, the man of a million exploitation horror flicks. If there’s one guy who knows how twisted the horror genre can be, it’s David Hess, so naturally, my imagination soared and my expectations grew…

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Prolific exploitation horror actor David Hess, how could this man NOT make a great slasher film?

With the recent release of an official blu-ray I decided to finally hunker down and give To All a Goodnight a go. And, man…it’s a pretty stripped down and bare bones affair, almost a prototypical slasher film with all the trimmings you’ve come to expect. The isolated location, a holiday setting, teens getting laid, smoking the wacky tabacky, the old crazy harbinger who warns of impending doom, inept law enforcement and a handful of red herrings. Even in 1980, the rules were just about commandments chiseled in stone where just about literally anyone could follow the formula and make a slasher formula that would make it’s money back and perhaps some profit.

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But, I digress, what To All A Goodnight lacks in originality, it makes up for it with an absolutely inept script, hilariously bad effects, and some actors that are either chomping the scenery or are lost without a map which makes for one of those peculiar viewing experiences where you are fully aware that what you are watching is sub-par, but you cannot look away because the film is littered with preciously stupid moments of non sequitur that are just as funny as they are baffling. It’s all these little misfires from a first time filmmaker that make To All A Goodnight such an interesting watch, even if it’s not a hugely successful piece of Trash Cinema.

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To All A Goodnight begins with a an inciting incident taking place two years ago where a girl is chased through the finishing school by her classmates chanting “SORORITY! SORORITY!” while wearing Santa hats. She runs out to an upper balcony and looks genuinely afraid of her fellow girls in finishing, before she leaps from the balcony when startled, turns into an obvious dummy, hits the ground and dies. The sequence literally takes all of 90 seconds and is so shoddy it looks like a backyard movie made one Sunday afternoon by bored teenagers.

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The leftover residents at Calvin Finishing School For Girls, which consist of five ravenously horny girls (one with an accent) and one younger girl who has never been kissed and is played Jennifer Runyun, you know, the woman who played Female Test Subject in the original Ghostbusters that Dr. Venkman calls a “legitimate phenomenon”? Yeah, this was her very first film and is the obvious final girl. There’s also a motherly figure in the cook who is looking after them as well as a tall, blonde, harbinger of doom who creeps around the enormous mansion these lucky girls inhabit carrying a huge bare of gardening sheers and constantly telling the girls the pray and that he can sense evil in the house. There’s also this woman who drops by who proclaims to be acquainted with death after losing all three of her husbands. She show up, drops off some cannoli, mentions how everything dies and then vanishes into the night never to be seen or heard from again.

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Mystery Girl

Oh yeah, and there’s one other girl who doesn’t eat dinner with the other girls and has no lines. She is seen in her bedroom stripping nekkid for a fellow in the yard yelling her name repeatedly. They are both stabbed to death by the killer quickly, quietly and without much fanfare. Again, the super cute blonde nekkid girl basically gets nekkid, gets dressed, goes outside smiling and is stabbed immediately without uttering a single line or being mentioned, ever, by the rest of the girls. Anyway, thanks for the mammaries, mystery girl!

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So, the fiery redhead among the group has a fuck buddy who is super wealthy and flies in for the weekend at the finishing schools private runway under the cover of darkness. This rich guy is so thoughtful he brings along a batch of studs with him to entertain the other girls as well. But, wouldn’t you know it, there’s only enough for the experienced girls, Nancy the virgin is left out entirely. If only they had brought the pilot with them up to the house, who is played by none other than legendary porn actor HARRY REEMS! You may remember him from Deep Throat!  The only genuine talent in the whole film and he is hardly in it. Gent had MORE than enough to entertain all the ladies up at Calvin House. Now THAT Would have been an entertaining movie…

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Harry Reems, here to stuff those stockings!

Cut to the the den of this stately mansion and one of these jocko’s is playing a guitar and can’t sing worth a shit and everyone is sitting around not talking, not looking at one another, as if they’re ashamed to be there. It could be pre-orgy tension, but I have a feeling it’s just dreadful direction and bad actors. Quick sideline, can someone tell me WHY these slasher flicks don’t contain orgies or group sex of any kind? These people sit around, bored out of their minds, yet obviously horny and willing to swap partners (which becomes apparent later in the film), so why, if you are in a tight space filled with other horny folks, do you not just drop your drawers and starts getting it on with the whole crew? Then again, I guess then you can;t pair people off to be killed around the property…maybe this is just my own personal preference/fantasy. Well, enough about me…  The boredom doesn’t last long as one character has her throat slit by someone in a Santa costume, and two more are murdered using a crossbow and an ax wielded by someone dressed in a suit of armor who had been watching them diddle one. The killer had to stand there, perfectly still, for hours just hoping someone would come fuck in front of them, and then would have wait for the ideal moment during the pork session to strike. Talk about commitment!

As the sun rises the survivors have a casual breakfast and seem to not give a shit about their vanished comrades. They’re too busy basking in the afterglow of one another’s late night pee squishing to care about almost half a dozen missing people. Even the cook who is watching over the girls seems nonplussed by the fact that there are now boys here she is having to cook for, too. It’s not long, however, before the virignal Nancy, while being chased around by a nerdy guy in glasses who wants to bang her, trips over the bloody, bug eyed corpse of Ralph the caretaker, whose body shoots up out of the shrubs like a goddamn whack-a-mole! It’s so close to being a moment of genuine shock, and in it’s cartoon lunacy has all the trappings of a true bit of nightmare imagery, but it left me with only giggles.

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The cops are called and everyone is told to stay indoors and look the doors and windows and there is a rift between the survivors. Some are sure that the missing members of the posse are surely dead, too, while the others refuse to believe they are in any real danger whatsoever. So, the swap fuck partners, some go outside to die, others go upstairs to fuck the cops and then strip nekkid, giving us full frontal, and when confronted with dead bodies, severed heads and a knife wielding killer Santa which SURELY spells dismemberment for the victim only leads them to put on a kimono and begging dancing and singing around the house. Huh?

And it’s all down to the final girl and nerdy boy to fight for their lives against the blood thirsty Santa Claus in the labyrinthine mansion. There are some twists and turns that even the most unversed horror fan will see coming a mile away, but it’s still quite a bit of fun watching To All A Goodnight stumble, fall, get up and then trip over their feet again as they hurtle themselves towards the film’s climax.

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It’s no wonder why David Hess never made a full length feature again because it looks like he had a tough time crafting this awkward chunk of strange, alas, his legacy will always be a captivating rape/revenge exploitation film heavyweight. The narrative of To All A Goodnight is all over, the dialogue is clunky, the gore effects are phony, but you get the feeling everyone is giving it what they can and no one really knows just what the Hell they’re doing, which gives To All A Good Night a sweet sort of homemade quality to it, which I really dig. There a nice couple moments of ladies getting nekkid with a bit of full frontal, which always helps liven things up, but the whole this is such bizarre hodge podge of tropes that were all, just at that moment in time, beginning to coagulate into the slasher formula that it nearly feels like a spoof…only it’s never intentionally funny, although unintentionally hilarious at times.

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To All A Goodnight is a Trash Cinema oddity, one worth checking if you are curious or a completest and might test the patience of the general movie going public. But for those of us who can see the bright side of a chunky, clunky, forgotten slasher film, To All A Good Night provides some holiday sugar to help was down the boring parts.

I’m awarding To All A Good Night TWO AND A HALF out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

12
Dec
19

Dottie Menerva: December Devil Girl of the Month (2019) NSFW

Hey Gang, The Primal Root here, and I am honored to introduce to you our December Devil Girl of the Month, Dottie Menerva with her blood soaked and ultra sexy ode to Jason Voorhees. Enjoy this special Friday the 13th Devil Girl and beware…It’s Got a DEATH CURSE!

The Primal Root: Dottie Menerva, this is one fantastically bloody, dirty ode to our brother in filth, Mr. Jason Voorhees. What prompted this gore soaked spread of Friday the 13th depravity?

Dottie Menerva: A girl and a camera.

Root: What was the most challenging aspect of this Devil Girl shoot? Did you encounter any wildlife while out there bringing the naked weirdness in honor of Friday the 13th?

Dottie: The most challenging aspect for me is the wildlife. You know what perverts those birds are.

Root: Do you have a favorite Friday the 13th film in the series? A favorite kill in the series, perhaps?

Dottie: Jason Goes To Hell

Root: How long did it take you to get all that blood off you and whose blood is it?

Dottie: Surprisingly not long at all, I’m an expert at removing it at this point in my career. It was GG Allen’s blood.

Root: Which horror movie character would you most like to party with?

Dottie: TJ Miller’s character in I’m Just Fucking With You

Root: Any advice to those roaming around Camp Crystal Lake and happen to run into you, naked, blood drenched and sporting a hockey mask and a blade?

Dottie: Life’s short, party naked (then I chop off their heads).

Root: What song would you like folks to listen to while checking out your Devil Girl spread?

Dottie: Blind Melon’s Skinned

Root: Any parting wisdom for any aspiring Devil Girls out there, Dottie?

Dottie: Don’t be afraid to see different versions of yourself and love each of them for a part of your complexity as a human being.It’s very transformative to have self perspective and I highly recommend getting in touch with Rewski Photography as she offers vivid concept art and delivers photos that offer a unique world.

Photography by Kayla King of Rewski Photography

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

27
Nov
19

The Happy Pill (2019): Put On A Happy Face

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a Primal Root written review

Life can become a nightmare. Work, family, relationships, daily interactions, it all begins to pile up and soon it feels as if the only escape we can find is when we shut our eyes and fade to sleep. Of course, this kind of lifestyle is enough to drive us all to the breaking point, and writer/director Kayla King’s debut short film, The Happy Pill, takes a graphic, nasty, and disturbing look into a life that is all too common for those of us struggling just to make it to the another day of pain, where we must constantly wake up from our dreams and head back into the repetitive, abusive mundane that is leading us nowhere.

 The Happy Pill tells the story of Amy Sanders (Heather Hough) dealing with deep depression who wakes up every morning to a nightmare routine. She calls her mother for help, but Mom is enjoying her vacation and can’t be bothered, she tries taking a shower, brushing her teeth vigorously, but she can’t get rid of how filthy she feels and it gets unfathomably worse when she goes to her dead end job at a vintage store, where her abusive boss, Mr. Moody (John Stevenson), a a dirty, sweaty, ass grabbing scumbag who enjoys nothing more than belittling and bad mouthing Amy. This is the routine, this is her life, and she is constantly reliving this Hell day after day.

That is, until she decides to begin taking a new over the counter medication named…The Happy Pill. We aren’t given much backstory to the medication itself, but the disconcerting effect is a compulsively grotesque smile that is constantly plastered on your face. Amy take the pills, day after life sucking day, upping the dosage each time, even as she begins to cry crimson tears, and her mouth fills with blood as she brushes her teeth. It all leads to a gore drenched, fecal matter encrusted climax and final confrontation between Amy and Mr. Moody, where the medicated Amy must decide whether she will continue to let life treat her like a piece of toilet paper, or will she take matters into her own hands and flush the shitty elements of her life straight to the sewer, and just where will that leave her?

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The Happy Pill is a ferocious, rage fueled debut. One with unique, body horror elements reminiscent of an early David Cronenberg by way of Kevin Smith and  mingling with the gnarly, schlocky, grossness and gratuitous gore and nudity of a Troma movie and comes up feeling like a companion piece to this year’s JOKER. What really sets The Happy Pill apart from so many short indie horror films I’ve seen are the fearless performances from the leads, first timer Heather Hough and veteran indie film actor, John Stevenson. Both give down and dirty, natural performances which really make the material work. And the fact that they are both up for depicting the horrors which appear in this film, especially by it’s end, make you  appreciate just how brave they are. Heather Hough owns every second of her screen time with a highly sympathetic and believable portrayal of Amy, and when she’s on screen, you cannot take your eyes off of her. Her transformation from depressed victim to violent, blood spewing avenger is damned impressive and is so fearless, it’s easy to forget this is her first time on screen. Stevenson plays the imposing Mr. Moody with an all too familiar glee and twinkle in his abusive eye. Moody enjoys abusing Amy who never fights back and does what she is told. He can touch her inappropriately, he can berate her in front of customers, he can tell her to work at HIS convenience and do it all with a chuckle and a shrug. Stevenson makes Mr. Moody a memorably despicable villain that we’ve all come across before…and you crave a comeuppance. John Stevenson deserves some great kudos for being game to bring such a monster to life.

King’s vision, brought to vivid, colorful life by cinematographer Hunter Black, who also served as editor of the film, is a perfectly timed sucker punch to the gut and feels exceedingly poignant as social issues, from mental health awareness, to the Me Too Movement, have become more prevalent ( thank goodness). The Happy Pill ends with a violent blast of pure frustration and rage at a world where so many are left behind, not cared for, unloved and made to feel worthless by those who neglect, abuse and drive their humanity into the ground under their boot heel. And this violent comeuppance, as incredible and brutal a sight to behold as it is, comes across as a battle cry of an entire sect of society left to fend for themselves with no upward mobility and no support system to fall back on.  And with the final shot, a silent, meditative, ambiguous moment, the filmmakers invite you to find you own meaning in what’s just happened. It allows you to read into the finale what you will in that final silent moment. And if, as they say, horror is simply a reflection of our society, I don’t doubt many of the viewers of The Happy Pill will feel as if they’re staring into their own eyes, as they themselves hold back the tears of rage they feel at a constant, every day life of scraping by and keeping a smile on your face while for those who make living off your hard work, while you waste your life away day by day and the previous generation goes on lavish vacations…and laughs at your struggle. 

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The Happy Pill is less than 15 minutes long, but it strikes with the force of a fucking sledge hammer. As the tagline reads, “It’s a Hard Pill to Swallow.” Well, mother fuckers, this is a dose you need to take.

I award The Happy Pill FIVE Out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets. This short film offers something for every Trash Cinema Aficionado and will knock your ass out and shatter your senses.  Keep your eyes peeled for more from these incredible burgeoning talents out of Tallahassee, Florida.  I honestly hope this remarkable horror film inspires more independent films from the area.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

 

26
Dec
18

(NSFW) Cannibal Holocaust (1980): Buffet of Brutality or Eat your Heart out. And your liver and your spleen.

 

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a Primal Root written review

“Here we are at the edge of the world of human history. Things like this happen all the time in the jungle; it’s survival of the fittest! In the jungle, it’s the daily violence of the strong overcoming the weak!” – Alan Yates, Cannibal Holocaust (1980)

*DISCLAIMER* Cannibal Holocaust does feature several sequences of onscreen animal cruelty. I. Kevin Cole, The Primal Root, do not in anyway condone the animal cruelty present in Cannibal Holocaust. That being said, I refuse to let that keep me from watching a piece of our cinematic history, which I feel lis important. That being said, I fully support your choice to NOT watch Cannibal Holocaust due to it’s cruelty to animals. I totally understand. 

Like the character Trash says in Dan O’Bannon’s 1985 living dead classic, The Return of the Living Dead, the worst way she can imagine dying is being eaten alive. It’s an honest, primeval statement that is part of our most basic animal instincts, one that still holds firm ever since our primitive ancestors hid from razor toothed beasts with flesh ripping claws intent to turn us into Sunday. What could be more horrifying that that? OF course, the thought that our own species would resort to such barbarism, hunt us down as food, take their time in killing us, and then devour what remains.

It’s a subject that has been well worn in the brutal and exhaustive cannibal exploitation genre that began in the mid 1970’s and remained popular through the 1980’s. The films of the cannibal genre would typically involve a batch of technically savvy contemporary young people looking to exploit the stone-age natives within an Asian or South American rainforest, only for things to turn violent with the young people raping, murdering and terrorizing the natives, and then having the tables turned and being met with horrifically grotesque retribution. These exploitation films also share an attempt to deliver accomplished and startlingly real gore effects as well as genuine on screen animal cruelty. What I’m saying here, is that this genre is aimed at a very small segment of society and would never be made in the same fashion again. However, for a small period of time, this films were being churned out by Italian filmmakers year after year and playing for months on end at grindhouses across America to audiences eager to see if these films actually delivered on the sensational claims their advertisements boasted.

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Few films of the genre have maintained as as much notoriety as Italian filmmaker Ruggero Deodato’s 1980’s cannibal epic, CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST. Upon it’s premiere the graphic violence garnered so much controversy that the film was seized my a local Italian magistrate and Deodato himself was arrested on obscenity charges and, later on, he was charged with with making an actual snuff film, as rumors began circulating that the main stable of actors were actually murdered on camera. To make matters worse, the supposedly deceased actors had signed on to contracts before filming to ensure that they would not show up in any type of movie, commercial or other media for at least one year after Cannibal Holocaust’s release as to keep the illusion that the film was a genuine found footage documentary. Thankfully, the actors were all contacted and interviewed on Italian television to prove they had not been murdered and eaten in The Green Inferno. Deodato also explained how all the effects worked and provided behind the scenes photos of the cast and crew interacting jovially, and the court dropped murder charges. Still, due to the genuine animal slayings and cruelty, Cannibal Holocaust was banned in Italy, Australia, and reportedly over 50 other countries.  If anything, I feel all this controversy is quite the testament to the power of a truly unique, frenzied, bleak and genuinely horrifying cinematic experience.

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Which brings us to the movie that raised this enduring brouhaha that has left a mark on this piece of entertainment forever more, Cannibal Holocaust. The story focuses on a much acclaimed and celebrated American documentary film crew, known for their brutal, ground level realism and unflinching portraits of bloody reality,  that goes missing in the Amazon rainforest in 1979 as they are filming a new documentary on the indigenous cannibal tribes. The film proper begins with strapping, mustachioed, anthropologist Professor Harold Monroe (played with all the masculine charm and gusto in the world by the legendary trained actor and Adult film Hall of Famer, Robert Kerman)  agrees to put together and lead a rescue team into the “Green Inferno” to find the documentary film crew, or what’s left of them, and recover any footage so that the investors can try and make their money back.

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After days of trekking and several grisly discoveries, clues and encounters with various cannibal tribes such as the Yacumo tribe, Shamatari tribe, and the Yanomami tribe, a picture begins to form that the American film crew brought great unrest to the people of these tribes. The rescue team manages to save a group of Yanomami warriors from certain death and then bathes nude in the river to gain their trust, showing his willingness to be vulnerable in front of them. Once the women of the tribe strip nekkid, hop in the river with him, mess around and inspect his white boy wing-ding for a few minutes, they then lead Professor Monroe and his team to a shrine the tribe has erected. A shrine made of the remains of the American documentary film crew.  Monroe trades a tape recorder with the tribe for the surviving reels of film the crew shot.

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Once back in New York city, Professor Monroe along with the investors screen the footage obtained from the Yanomami tribe, and it becomes apparent how shockingly amoral and inhumane this four man film crew was to the natives in the Amazon rainforest. They are seen staging horrifying mass incinerations of men, women and children, disgusting rapes of native girls where they then impale the woman on a pike, the killing of their livestock for shits and giggles, all in the name of good, usable footage, the filmmakers are willing to maim, murder and desecrate whoever they must in the quest for the perfect footage that will make their film a controversial smash hit with audiences, staging whatever carnage they so deem necessary.  That is, until the tribes turn the tables and come after the film crew in a blood drenched, shaky cam, parade of absolute unflinching brutality, it must be seen to be believed.  There is rape, penises are hacked off, people are drawn and quartered by the bare hands of the tribe. The American film crew has reaped exactly what they have sewed, and proved themselves just as uncivilized, monstrous and depraved, if not, more so, as the cannibalistic tribes themselves. Needless to say, the investors are deeply disturbed by the footage and the executives order the footage be destroyed. As Professor Monroe leaves, he ponders just who the real cannibals are, before the camera pans up to the high rises of New York City, our societies own concrete inferno, and the film fades to black.

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In all honesty, when the film ended, I had to look up the actors who we watched getting torn to pieces, hacked to death, raped and eviscerated just to make sure they weren’t actually murdered on screen. The final reels of Cannibal Holocaust are, without a doubt, some of the most effective and visceral horror set pieces I have ever witnessed. The shaky came, the effects and the performances feel so damn genuine and real, that the illusion of it all being true is a hard feeling to shake. Some have said this is the Grandpappy of the found footage genre, if that is the case, Grandpappy has yet to be topped.  I honestly think the key element is, as weird as it sounds, subtlety. There is plenty of gratuitous violence, but the blood isn’t spraying across the jungle like a cartoon. It is dark crimson, real, and isn’t the focus of what’s happening. The performances and camera work are what sell the horror of what occurs in Cannibal Holocaust. And I think that’s a lesson filmmakers should take away from it. We see horrible things being done to other human beings, but it’s focused on for mere seconds. It’s the frenzied rush of horror as people are trying to survive their own grotesque demise at the hands of those who so richly deserve their revenge. The feeling of horror that you know you deserve this and you’ve brought this fate worse than death upon yourself.

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I would say, despite many of the films exploitation elements, and their are many, including the actual killing of several actual animals, Cannibal Holocaust cuts to the darkest corners of human nature, and in doing so, is one of the most potent and effective horror films ever made. But, hey, funny piece of trivia: When screened for the tribes they filmed with, the tribes thought the film was hysterical and considered it a comedy!

FIVE out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets. This is a MUST SEE for horror aficionados and filth fans alike. Even if you fast forward past the animal cruelty, you will be left shocked and in disbelief by the end.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

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