Posts Tagged ‘of

19
Nov
11

Land of the Dead: Eat the Rich

a Dirty Thought with The Primal Root

The year was 2004 when all those old rumors surrounding George Romero’s long awaited fourth installment in his Dead series began lumbering back to life. For over a decade there were fan boy speculations  about a “Twilight of the Dead” , which would be really awkward with the popularity of those Twilight flicks,  or some other such continuation of the series. It wasn’t until early in 2000/2001 that steadily these rumors began transforming into fact. Romero was planning a new entry in his beloved, legendary, film series.  My excitement could hardly be contained.

By June 2005 we finally had our long awaited fourth film, “Land of the Dead”.  After years of hoping, false starts and sketchy rumors, there I was sitting in a theater seat, ticket stub in my pocket, about to see what Romero had cooked up for his starving fans. And to tell you the truth, I was a little underwhelmed on my first viewing. I’m sure a lot of it had to do with how much I had built this film up in my head over the two decades worth of anticipation, but I just didn’t think it held a candle to the original trilogy. The message seemed scatter shot, the characters thin, and the dialog cheesier than skating rink nachos.  I left having enjoyed myself but also feeling disappointed.

Now, looking back on Romero’s Land of the Dead almost seven years later, and in light of current events here at home and on Wall Street, his fourth Dead film has suddenly clicked with me and it’s message, it’s purpose, has become very clear.

As Romero’s Dead series has progressed our sympathy has been manipulated and shifted over to the living dead.  The seeds were subtly  planted in Dawn of the Dead but it wasn’t until Bub showed up as the star zombie in Romero’s  Day of the Dead  (85) that we all began the empathize with what we had always seen as a monster. Bub  recalled much of his living memories and even expressed very human, very un-zombie like emotions despite craving oozy living flesh to munch on. There was still something there. Something human. And by the end of Day of the Dead Bub proved to be more human and possess a purer spirit than most the human characters that populated the film. And in that idea Romero brought us as close as we’d ever been to siding with the shambling, decaying, walking corpses. Hell, we even cheer for Bub by the film’s end when he exacts revenge over those who have wronged him.

In Land of the Dead Romero asks us to almost explicitly see ourselves as the Dead, who in this film represent the disenfranchised. Those who have been left behind  with nothing except the possibility of the wealthy, powerful, elite will send in their troops to take whatever they can get their hands on in order for the rich to have their Scotch, cigars and Pringles which I’m pretty sure I spotted  on route to Fiddler’s Green. When the zombie apocalypse happens we will all be longing for the comfort of a can of Pringles.

Fiddler’s Green is a high rise fortress, a kind of utopia, for the wealthiest of zombie apocalypse survivors to spend the rest of their days hiding behind it’s concrete walls wearing the finest of clothes, eating hot meals and shopping their lives away as they towerhigh above the dead who are kept out by the bordering river and strategically placed electric fences.  But,  outside of  Fiddler’s Green is another story.  Also kept out are those deemed unworthy. Other living survivors who, for whatever reason, aren’t worthy of living a life of protected, maintained luxury. Fiddler’s Green is surrounded by make shift shacks, decayed building, sick, tired, dirty and poor humans struggling to survive with no aid of any kind. Those who cannot live in Fiddler’s Green are given few choices: They are put to work as part of the new military force put together to protect the wealthy, manufacture and deal drugs, prostitution, gambling,risk your life as entertainment for the masses as a contestant in a makeshift game of death,  or you can try and survive on the streets. Good luck!

It’s a strange concept thing to imagine that money could mean anything at all after the dead pretty much take over the planet, but if you can put aside your disbelief, there is a very poignant message about the haves, the have nots, and those who are considered less than human as an insurgency rises among the living’s lower class aims to over throw the current power elite and replace it with a more communal government and the dead who have begun communicating, have had enough, join together, and strike back against their oppressors.Because when the power and the dead are placed side by side, there is very little difference besides one being full of warm flesh and blood and the other craving to sink it’s rotten teeth into it.  And as the living dead make their way to Fiddler Green, tear down it’s walls and begin ripping apart the entitled citizens cowering within, it’s impossible not to cheer for those who have been ignored, abused and left to rot beyond the cities borders.

I implore you to go back and watch Land of the Dead again while the memory of the bank bailouts we payed for, the economic crisis that ended in many of us being laid off, and the Occupy Wall Street Movement where peaceful protesters were beaten mercilessly is still fresh in your mind. No matter what demons, creatures or myths we create to symbolize our societal  fears and angst the greatest threat you and I shall ever face is one other. Specifically those who have been corrupted by power and greed.

Land of the Dead worked well as an allegory for Bush era 9/11 anxieties but also seems to fit just as well within our current situations here at home as the division between the classes continues to grow ever wider. In the film, the dead are easily distracted by fire works. As they explode over head in beautiful arrays of bright colors the dead cannot help but stop in their tracks and give these meaningless, momentary bursts of light their full attention.  One cannot help but draw a parallel between the dead’s mindless attention to these fireworks (AKA: sky flowers) and the appeal of reality television, celebrity gossip, and other such none sense we are fed and made to believe is important to our every day lives when there are far more important issues at hand. It’s easy to tune out and focus on the meaningless. The trick is, to get your eyes off the ‘Sky Flowers” and focus on what’s right in front us.  What actually matters.

Romero has a lot to say in Land of the Dead and, in the case of all important works, it’s all open to interpretation.  But when I watch it today I can’t help but see it as a very timely “revenge of the repressed” fable that is perfect for where we are as a society and it’s by no means a happy one. We can only hope that one day, maybe, a new society might come in, devour the old and give us something new and better.

Land of the Free or Land of the Dead?

Stay Trashy,

-Root

03
Jul
10

Amelia Kinkade, The Trash Cinema Collective Profile

"Back in the day, we did horrible things, and laughed like hell." - Amelia Kinkade

a Primal Root Interview

Thanks to our friends over at FromDuskTillCon.com, I recently received the opportunity to interview the multi-talented actress, dancer, author, artist, animal activist  and animal psychic, Amelia Kinkade. That’s right, the lovely woman behind one of the most blood thirsty and wicked femme fatales to ever ravage Trash Cinema, Angela from the Night of the Demons series.

Continue reading ‘Amelia Kinkade, The Trash Cinema Collective Profile’

08
Jun
10

Monster Bash 2010: Movies, Monsters, and Mayhem

The Primal Root’s Dirty Thoughts

Hey gang, Jess (Moonshine) and I just came back from Atlanta Georgia after attending The Silver Scream Spookshow’s Rock and Roll Monster Bash 2010 over at the Starlight Six Drive-In Theater. As a life long student of Drive-In culture and one of the many carrying a torch for this long standing American tradition I felt it was my duty, my destiny to be in attendance. The Drive-In tradition is one of exploitation, sleaze and mindless fun where everyone drops their hang ups and goes for it. I went for a bash, I went for spectacle, I went for some Trash Cinema Classics. I did not leave disappointed.

Moonshine and I got in a right at noon, the skies were dark and overcast which made us a little nervous about the rain but otherwise thrilled that it would be cooler out there than anticipated on that long stretch of black top in the hellish Georgia summer heat. We drove directly to the same spot we claimed at last year’s Drive-Invasion, popped up our shade, filled up our cooler with the essentials and got ready for the long, nasty, fun filled day ahead of us.

PBR: Official Cheap-O Beer of the Trash Cinema Collective

Once things got swinging we both took a trip up to the vendor area to check out what people were selling. There was an excellent selection of vintage Grindhouse posters and lobby cards, original art work, and all manner of t-shirts emblazoned with every sleazy flick you could imagine. There was some very cool stuff on display, as always, and my lovely lady Moonshine and I had a pleasurable time perusing and chatting it up with our Drive-In brethren.


Another great feature of the Monster Bash were the six ass kicking rockabilly, metal, and rock and roll bands who got this hootenanny hopping. Probably my favorite performance of the whole day happened early on as The Luchagors took the stage in full costume and gave a no holds barred, high energy, performance. Not to sell the other bands short because Grinder Nova, Apocalyptic Visions, Daikaiju, Iron Maiden Tribute, and Frankenstein all got in the spirit of things a gave their all.

The Luchagors


Grinder Nova

Also on hand were the ladies and gents of Atlanta’s own Blast-Off Burlesque who in between bands entertained us Drive-In Mutants with some sultry moves up on the main stage. Those young ladies certainly know how to captivate an audience, let me tell ya.

Who was our Master of ceremonies, you ask? None of than the man behind the Spookshow himself, Proffessor Morte and his gang! This was my first time encountering the Silver Scream Spookshow troupe but they were pretty darn funny. It could be just because I’m a dork but every singles joke they made had me in stitches. Whenever they took the stage I was reminded of the traditional Saturday morning horror movie hosts. they were cheesy, but in the absolutely best possible way. Their tone perfectly fit the show.

Professor Morte overseeing the Brain Eating Contest.

During all this fun there was something called the Model Shoot Out or something…Not exactly sure what that whole deal was but apparently it was the reason there were so many guys and gals running around with heavy duty cameras snapping pictures of all these scantly clad, good looking, women with colored hair and blood spattered across their faces all over the place. I am not complaining one little bit. Hell, as girls would pose I;d snap a few shots myself with my dinky little camera. If anything, it added to the good vibes.

VAMPIRELLA! Thwart my raging boner!


As the sun went down the rain began to come down on the Drive-In crowd for about a half an hour. Thankfully it came to a hault just as our Double Feature of 70’s nature revenge films began. First up…

KINGDOM OF THE SPIDERS!

The infamous killer tarantula flick from 1977 starring the ever talented William Shatner. This little beauty of a horror film is about a small country town out in the desert that’s getting ready for some kind of yearly jamboree they always put on to bring in the tourists and help out the local economy. Of course an army of about a billion migrating, flesh eating, uber toxic pissed of tarantulas arrive on the scene mere days before the event killing off livestock and the residents. William Shatner plays the local veterinarian who calls in the help of a sophisticated big city sexy blonde female veterinarian to figure it all out and poke with his cattle prod in the process. Our two scientists come to the conclusion that due to DDT and other chemicals killing off all their typical prey the local spiders have grown aggressive and are now hunting for food in packs and taking on all sorts of bigger game. The question is…how long till they turn on us? Answer: Real quick.

Kingdom of the Spiders may not make a whole lot of sense when looked at critically (Just step on the spiders, man.) but one can’t deny the terror inherent in having a face covered in hairy, bulbous, flesh eating spiders. Another element that sets this flick above many of it’s contemporaries is that it takes it’s time to establish every single character, their relationships and their emotional connections. You really get the feeling that every death is a tragedy and you feel the weight that each of these deaths has on the people closest to the victim. And this is a low budget monster movie! Truly a cut above the typical revenge of nature film.

Our second feature…

GRIZZLY! (1976)

Our second feature of the evening was the intense JAWS rip-off GRIZZLY about a nature reserve and park beset by some kind of prehistoric man eating killer grizzly bear from Hell. This sucker has come down the mountain in hopes of finding some folks eat although he seems to really enjoy just ripping their limbs off and leaving their bodies.

Grizzly was the most successful independently produced film of 1976. Watching it for the first time I couldn’t for the life of me understand why. It’s pretty bad even by Trash Cinema standards. It follows the JAWS outline with no subtlety whatsoever. In fact, I never learned the three main character’s names I just called them by which character from JAWS they were. There’s the frustrated head forest ranger who has just been relocated to this park who is our Sheriff Brody in this picture (played by, to my surprise and enjoyment, Christopher George of Pieces and Gates of Hell fame), there’s our young scientific bear specialist who likes to enter the bears natural environment to study them (Who will be our Hooper) and then there’s our bear hunting, vietnam veteran helicopter pilot to serve as our Quint. Yeah, he even has a Vietnam speech.

It’s all kind of dull outside the highly comical attack sequences where limbs fly through the air covered in red tempera paint and attached to fishing lines. This stuff is classic and I laughed myself silly. I will give kudos to the filmmakers behind Grizzly for having the balls to have their killer bear attack a small child and rip his leg off before killing the little boys broom wielding mother. That scene is the high point of the entire film. Well, next to the part where our Forest Ranger blows the living shit out of the Grizzly with a bazooka.

Moonshine at the 7th Annual Monsterbash

All and all we had sweaty, boozed up, epic time at The Rock and Roll Monster Bash this year and we are both ready for next year’s get down. Now we just gotta recoup for Starlight Six’s Drive-Invasion this September. Thanks for showing us Floridians such a good time, guys! We’ll be seeing you again in a few months. I recommend you guys reading this plan on attending next year’s Monster Bash. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

The Primal Root at the old stomping ground of Trash Cinema.

As my hero Joe Bob Briggs always says, “The Drive-In Will Never Die!”

Stay Trashy,
-The Primal Root




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