Posts Tagged ‘prison

10
Feb
16

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

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a Primal Root written review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay Trashy, Gang!

-Root

27
May
14

The Big Bird Cage (1972): Hell Hath No Fury like a Woman Scorned and Horny

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a Primal Root written review

Folks in the late 60’s and early 70’s must’ve loved to imagine somewhere out there in the Philippines there are prison/labor camps filled with gorgeous, violently horny American women wearing nothing but the tiniest of shorts and shirts that hang open so their ample, sweaty bosoms simply pour out of them as they sweat and work in the baking hot sun.  How did I come to this conclusion, you ask? Because Corman and Co. were pumping these flicks out like chicken nuggets. One thing’s for sure, they tapped into some strange, dark fantasy of the time that proved profitable and a wonderful showcase for gonzo politics, dark satire, even darker attempts at comedy, and bizarre perversions of all kinds.

Among the grandest touchstones to come from these scantly clad and brutalized women in exotic prison movies was the steady appearances by the sassy, energetic,  Ms. Pam Grier, who would go on to become a legend in her own right. In 1972’s “The Big Bird Cage” Pam Grier and Sig Haig play two revolutionaries, Blossom and Django (in possibly my favorite pairing of the two in their long history of working together), who end up dragging a gorgeous social climber by the name of Terry ( the lovely Anitra Ford of TV’s The Price is Right and the forgotten and highly underrated “Messiah of Evil” from 1972) into their crime wave as a hostage. It’s a short lived affair that end with Blossom and Django getting away and Terry going to a brutal concentration camp run by a sadistic warden and his army of burly, homosexual guards. Terry and the rest of the girls are put to work in the sweltering Philippine heat harvesting the sugar cane crop in the fields and within a giant wooden contraption of the prison warden’s own nefarious design known as…THE BIG BIRD CAGE.  His device crushes, maims, and kills the perky, naked women just as efficiently as it brings sugar to market. Hell, most of the prisoners would rather commit suicide than work within…THE BIG BARD CAGE.

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When the ladies aren’t working nearly completely nude they’re showering, making sexual advances towards their gay captors and each other or plotting to escape.  These women are all perpetually horny and lusting for hard cock and much of the film’s lighter moments are derived from their attempts to seduce the guards who have no interest in them whatsoever.  It;s a strange mishmash of politically incorrect humor (back when that was the acceptable norm. Ah, the good old days…) and brutal revolt, punishment and death. You’ll be laughing your ass off as a tall, skinny blonde covers herself head to toe in Crisco and runs after her nemesis and fellow inmate stark nekkid so no one can stop her, and the next second you’ll be staring in disbelief as a woman is gang raped by a horde of sweaty, butterfly knife toting Filipino men before a gay prison guard can make a bizarre joke about how he never gets that kind of action. This is the kind of filthy, off the wall tone shifty comedy Jack Hill (Spider Baby, Coffy, Switchblade Sisters) seems to really go for in his film, and frankly, I love him for it. It’s sick, it’s sleazy, and it sure as shit is like nothing else you will ever see in cinema. It’s so vulgar and eye wideningly weird that you cannot help but laugh even though what’s left of your heart which is not black tells you that you’re going to Hell for finding this humorous.

During a botched act of revolution where Blossom attempts to explode a gathering of politicians at some kind of public art Chautauqua with a grenade her lover and fellow revolutionary Django gave her. The grenade lets out a sizzling spark fart rather than exploding and Blossom is sent to the same sugar cane Hell hole Terry was imprisoned in.  As you might expect, Blossom establishes herself quickly as the Queen B of the women’s concentration camp as she kicks ass, tears off clothes and generally shows everyone who’s boss. But soon the Evil Warden is suspicious that Blossom is one of the jungle’s revolutionaries and begins beating and torturing the head strong and drop dead gorgeous Blossom to try and get her to talk.

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In the meantime, Django begins posing as a fellow homosexual in order to seduce the prison guards and land himself a job within the women’s penitentiary so that he can rescue Blossom and get his revolution going.  It isn’t long before the entire prison camp is in flames, women are gunned down, guards are stabbed and hacked into pieces and much time is spent on a gang rape scene where about a dozen women tie down one of the gay guards, force him to get his cock hard and then ride it like the proverbial pony. It’s an odd, uncomfortable scene that’s trying to play itself for laughs. Again, the laughs are of the “what the fuck is this? Am I meant to laugh?” variety.  It plays as retribution for this guard making lite of a gang rape that happened earlier, but it’s still pretty fucking uncomfortable listening to this fellow struggle and whimper as a group of sexy, sweaty, naked women suck on his wang and start straddling.  I did laugh out loud when one women has to think fast and muffles the guard’s screams by placing her pussy squarly on his mouth before letting out a “WOAH!” of surprised ecstasy. Now THAT’S funny. Jack Hill is one of the last true rape joke artists.  See what I meant when I told you this thing is politically incorrect and deeply inappropriate? This ain’t no Shawshank Redemption, Gang.

The women who survive the initial riot make their way into the jungle as they are tracked by vicious dogs, and guards packing all kinds of heat and out for blood. Many are killed, few are spared, and the only folks to survive are saved by gentlemen revolutionaries who send the survivors off into the sun set on a little schooner sure to capsize and kill them all before they ever make it to dry land. THE END.

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“The Big Bird Cage” is one fantastically off the wall film filled with gratuitous nudity, torture, blood shed, and ruthlessly mean spirited, dark, offensive comedy. I say offensive because the sensitive rubes out there would certainly find this film to be vile and despicable with little to no socially redeeming qualities. To those rubes, I say sit and spin. These are the exactly reasons I enjoy “The Big Bird Cage” so much!  It feels like a satire of the entire women in prison genre and has it’s sleazy little tongue planted firmly it’s slimy cheek.  The Big Bird Cage is a wild mother fucking ride and one Trash Cinema Connoisseurs will lovingly embrace.

What lesson did I take away from “The Big Bird Cage?” Never keep a woman horny and sugar cane is an excellent cash crop.

I’m giving this slice of sleaze FOUR AND A HALF Dumpster Nuggets.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

09
Feb
14

(NSFW) The Naked Cage (1986): Women on the Verge of a Nervous Shanking

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a Primal Root written review

What is the appeal of a women in prison movie? Could it be the hardened women struggling for power and survival behind bars? The depiction of corrupt officials and politics behind prison walls and how it mirrors our own government? Or is it simply the fact we are almost guaranteed some gratuitous female shower scenes? I ask you, why can’t it be all of the above?

“The Naked Cage”, directed by Paul Nicholas and produced by Cannon, marks what many consider to be among the last truly great women in prison flicks, a genre that became popular and peaked in the mid to late 1970’s.  “The Naked Cage” tells the story of a young, blonde, nubile bank teller and bareback horse rider, Michelle (Shari Shattuck) who ends up getting sentenced to three years in a vicious women’s prison after her bonehead, coke head ex-husband decides to pull a stocking over his head and rob the bank where Michelle works. Of course, none of this would have happened if Michelle’s ex hadn’t recently gotten mixed up with the sexy, murderous, psychotic escaped convict, Rita (Christina Whitaker) who likes killing cops and having cocaine snorted off of her nipples (true story). Michelle ends up unwittingly getting pulled into the heist, which ends in a bizarre getaway that consists of driving around the bank parking lot several times and then in blood, and is thrown in jail after Rita testifies that Michelle was the ringleader of the heist. Me thinks Michelle should get herself a better lawyer.

Michelle takes her sentencing in stride, maintains a good attitude and makes friends quickly with her fellow inmates including her bunk mate and former junky Amy (Stacey Shaffer) and the badass,  muscular behemoth , Sheila (Faith Minton) who runs things on their cell block.  However, Michelle doesn’t quite see eye to eye with the prison’s warden, Diane (Angel Tompkins from one of my favorites, “The Teacher”) who conducts bizarre lesbian BDSM sex games with whichever inmates tickle her fancy. Also on the loose is a sadistic prison guard known as Smiley (Nick Benedict) who takes great pleasure in raping and then murdering female inmates before trying to pass it off as suicides. He justifies this to the warden by explaining “This job is shitty, I might as well do something I enjoy!” It’s not an exact quote, but something along those lines…

I wonder if the warden in "The Shawshank Redemption" ever had Andy dress like this and rub his shoulders?

I wonder if the warden in “The Shawshank Redemption” ever had Andy dress like this and rub his shoulders?

Life behind bars doesn’t treat Michelle that bad, at first. But soon, Rita is released from the hospital, where she was recovering from the bank robbery car chase, and is thrown into prison on the same cell block as Michelle. Rita and Warden Diane join forces and once Rita takes down Sheila, the Warden gives Rita the go ahead to enact her revenge on Michelle. Revenge for what, exactly? Not so sure, seeing as Michelle had little to nothing to do withe the bank robbery turning into a bullet riddled botched bloodbath.  I have this feeling Rita might be projecting her own feelings of inadequacy and failure as a bank robber on to Michelle. Listen, killing Michelle won’t change the fact that you robbed a bank after snorting a mountain of cocaine, let your getaway car get blocked in, and then drove a stolen car in circles around the bank’s parking lot while the police unloaded their weapons into it and you.  Honey, that’s nobody’s fault but yours.

Rita quickly turns the prisons order of power on it’s head, dispatching those who protect Michelle, and turning her closest friends against her.  But Michelle is far more cunning than Rita realizes. As the tables turn, Michelle learns to rely on herself and takes dead aim at Rita and during a violent, awesome prison riot, the two meet in one of the down and dirtiest female convict cat fights I’ve ever seen.

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“The Naked Cage” is a glorious, spitfire of a women in prison film. One of the very last of a dwindling, glorious Drive-In culture. What really sets it apart is that, despite the conventions and obligatory women in prison cliches, is that “The Naked Cage” takes the time to create so really interesting, believable characters. It pulls off one of those rarest of  exploitation tricks where the viewer ends up actually liking characters and are genuinely saddened when certain folks end up being killed off.  By this point in Trash Cinema history, the women in prison genre had become more satirized and played for laughs or simply to titillate an audience rather  than deliver genuine dramatic story telling. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with the formerly mentioned brand of women in prison flick, Hell, I love a good goofy romp through a prison filled with nekkid women. Sure, there’s some campy, goofy bits in “The Naked Cage” like the exceedingly awkward scenes with Angel Tompkins rotating her shoulders topless with random female inmates in her neon light clad secret love chamber as they seduce one another, but overall the film plays it pretty straight if not a little over the top. There is something to be admired about a movie of this breed that does all it can to tell a convincing crime story on an exceedingly low budget and not fall back on cheap laughs.  “The Naked Cage” is bold, goes for the your throat and doesn’t let up. Damn fine stuff and one Hell of a send off to a once proliferating genre.

Oh, and there are plenty of shower scenes and gratuitous full frontal nudity.

I give “The Naked Cage” Three and a Half out of Five Dumpster Nuggets

Stay Trashy!

-Root

19
Aug
13

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984) or “Why is there a Watermelon there?”

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“No, no, no, don’t tug on that. You never know what it might be attached to.” -Buckaroo Banzai

a Primal Root written review

He’s a rock star, neurosurgeon, mystic, nuclear physicist and the star of his own comic book series, Buckaroo Banzai (Weller) is a man of many trades. But above all, he is a man of action.  Let me try and lay the story out for you to the best of my ability…which spells out trouble, really.  Deep breath, here we go!

“The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension” drops us right in the middle of this action as Buckaroo is testing out a new jet propelled Ford Fiesta, equipped with his when he takes an unscheduled detour into the side of a mountain the side of a mountain going at speeds that break the sound barrier…and passing right through unharmed thanks to the vehicle being equipped with a piece of hardware of Buckaroo’s own design named “The Oscillation Overthruster.”  However, this impromptu experiment in dimensional travel unleashes more than Buckaroo and his colleagues/ team /bandmates, The Hong Kong Cavaliers, ever imagined. Within this rock were stashed several Evil Black Lectoids from Planet 10 who have been exiled there and have now been unleashed from the 8th Dimension.

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“Many Shuvs and Zuuls knew what it was to be roasted in the depths of the Slor that day, I can tell you!”

News of Buckaroo’s successful journey across the 8th Dimension spreads quickly and manages to reach Dr. Emilio Lizardo (Lithgow), whose failed Overthruster experiment in 1938 ended up leaving his body possessed by Lord John Whorfin, an evil alien creature who is compared to Adolf Hitler. See, Whorfin is the leader of the Red Lectroids, a race of  reptile, alien creature who waged war against Planet 10 and were later banished to this 8th Dimension.

Still with me? Groovy.

Well, due to Lizardo’s botched overthruster experiment,  and the release of Lord John Whorfin, many of these Red Lectroids pilgrimaged to earth and now work at YoYodyne Propulsion Systems posing as employees and working on a spacecraft while pretending it’s a project for the U.S. Air Force.  Their plan is to rescue the remaining exiles in the 8th dimension and take over Planet 10m which is populated by the far less aggressive Black Lectroids, who threaten Earth with a fake nuclear attack which will set off World War III if Lord John Whorfin’s plans are not halted within 24 hours.

Now, the fate of the entire planet lies in the  hands of Buckaroo Banzai, The Hong Kong Cavaliers, the civilian Banzai Institute volunteers known as The Blue Blazers,  John Parker (the Black Lectroid messenger) and the beautiful Penny Priddy (Barkin).

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“I can see your whole clam bake, Penny.”

As you can kind of guess, “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension” is one VERY convoluted, complex, whacky mess of a story. It’s a story it took a couple viewing for me just to wrap my mind around just what the Hell was happening. TAOBBAT8D never gives the audience a moment to catch it’s breath, from the very get-go TAOBBAT8D starts flinging ideas, concepts and theories at break neck speed and dares us to try and keep up with the action on screen. We and jarringly catapulted from scene to scene, character to character in a film made to play like an episode from a serial that has a long standing history with fans, only there was NOTHING that came before this and NOTHING to come after. Well, there was a sequel planned (Buckaroo Banzai Against The World Crime League) but since the movie bombed like Hiroshima, that sequel never had a chance. So we are left with a movie that is bafflingly complex, silly and rallies against the typical dramatic structure we, as viewers, are accustom to, But all of these elements always left me exhilarated by “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension’s” end credits begin rolling.  You are an outsider invited to be a part of this incredibly cool cat’s latest journey.  you are thrown into this wild world and either you can make the decision to hold on for dear life and enjoy the ride or throw your hands in the air and declare that this stuff makes no sense, and just walk away.  If there is one major flaw in the film, it’s pretty slap dash and difficult to follow. But I have a feeling that’s by design.

One thing is certain, The Adventure’s of Buckaroo Banzai and it’s mix of action, science fiction, and comedy are not for everyone. Where some might find a lot of great concepts bubbling forth from the film;s narrative, others might find this flick more than a little tedious, which is a totally understandable view point. for me, the strength of the film lies in the fact that Buckaroo Banzai is unlike any other film ever made, or ever will be made again. It’s a high concept oddity with A.D.D. crackling under with the static of a head full of crazy ideas.  To me, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai is one of the coolest, strangest fucking movies ever made, and with every new viewing, I take away another level of appreciation.  It’s one I don’t recommend easily. If you’re a Hong Kong Cavalier or a Blue Blazer, you will have an instinct to check this flick out for yourself.  As for me? “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension” holds a special place of honor in my collection.

SIDE NOTE: Also, Breaking Bad fans, watch early on for an appearance by a young Jonathan Banks (aka: Mike from TV’s Breaking Bad) as an orderly at the mental asylum where  Lord John Whorfin is held.

4 out of 5 Dumpster Nuggets

Stay Trashy!

-Root

29
Mar
13

Spring Breakers (2012) Bikinis, Bullets and Britney Spears

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“Jut pretend it’s a video game. Pretend it’s a movie.” – Brit, Spring Breakers

a Primal Root review

edited by Bootsie Kidd

I walked out of the the theater with what felt like a hangover. My head throbbed, my eyes burned and hazy recollections of what I had recently experienced swirled in my mind like some kind of abstract dream from the night before. Was it all imagined? Was it a reality? One thing’s for sure, the images seared into my mind from seeing Harmony Korine’s latest flick “Spring Breakers” won’t soon be forgotten.  It left me feeling as I am sure many young people who go through this yearly right of passage do on their way home. Dirty, a little warped, and and not quite the same as when they went in on their journey.

A title like “Spring Breaks” along with its Disney Queen stable of leading ladies (Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens are both here for the party) and the addition of James Franco sounds like some kind of terribly conceived throw back to the days of ‘Beach Blanket Bingo’ or ‘Catalina Caper’. But Korine came through with his usual catchy darkness and we’re actually given a badass, fever dream of a film about a foursome of young, impressionable college girls (Gomez, Hudgens, Rachel Korine and Ashley Benson) who decide they MUST go to Spring Break in St. Petersburg, Florida in order to find themselves, and are willing to do just about anything in order to obtain the bread to get there. How do they get the cash to go? Why, by stealing a professor’s El Camino and robbing a local fried chicken hut, of course! Three of the young ladies pull off the heist and coerce their religious, naive friend “Faith” to come with them, and it’s off to the land of tits, pot, and Bud Light for a week of exploitative, brain-dead fun under the deep frying Florida sun!

The young ladies dive head-first into a hedonistic wonderland of narcotics, terrible rap artists, and rampant fornication while taking breathers in order to call their Grandmothers to falsify their shenanigans of flashing tits and guzzling beer from cans phallically positioned cock level by men in seedy hotel rooms wearing nothing but jock straps and caked in their own slimy man-glaze. Of course, the girls are testifying to family members that the St. Pete Spring Break scene is possibly the most spiritual place they’ve ever experienced, and in a way, I suppose it might be as these girls find out what they are capable of and just how far they can bend their moral compass. Which, for most of the ladies, their compass has been pointing south since the get-go. The only girl we are even concerned about in the middle of all this chaos is poor, little, Faith (Salena Gomez) who is perpetually 14 years old but looks to be having a blast for a few minutes there.

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That is until the girls get busted on a drug charge, and are sent to prison with nothing but their bikinis to cover their asses. It’s up to an ambitious sleazy, local drug dealer/rap artist with a grill of silver and scalp covered in rows of corn, Alien (James Franco in an Oscar caliber performance. Stop laughing!) to pay for the ladies to be released and give them a Spring Break they will never, ever forget. And oh Momma, does the man deliver as the girls get dragged into a seedy, drug-ladened underbelly of their spring Break paradise. Oh, and they, also, become part of a turf war between Alien and the man who used to be his best friend Archie (Gucci Mane) and end up going on a well-armed crime spree throughout the city in a slow motion montage to Britney Spear’s slow and drippy song “Everytime”, (whose lyrics might shed more light on the characters of all involved than one might expect, or could just be as vapid and shallow as some might think these characters are). In what must be a high watermark in current Trash Cinema as girls in bikinis and ski masks prance seductively with shotguns and a cornrowed James Franco plays Britney Spears on a white piano with the Florida sun setting behind him. However, Alien has no idea what he’s in for with these Spring Breakers up in his crib. This is art Trash at its finest and I felt my heart soaring during what might be one of the greatest sleazy flick moments in recent memory. Not since Killer Joe has a movie brought Trash up to this level. You’ll know what I mean when you see it…

Spring Breakers is not for the faint of heart or those who have grown dependent of the tropes of the current motion picture main stream crop of films that must spell everything out and whose sense of humor typically revolves around piss, shit or any combination of the two. “Spring Breakers” ain’t that typical piece of shit. This movie is an experience of both heaven and hell, paradise and purgatory, sleaze and beauty. It took me back to a time and place where movies like Harmony Korine’s “Gummo”,  and his collaborative break out hit “KIDS” were the toast of the town and the type of films people actively sought out to see for some unusual, different, grimy, honest and totally unique.

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Spring Breakers can be seen as nothing more than mindless entertainment, and it certainly does function on that level if that’s all you’re looking for, but it also can be seen as a meditation on the mixed messages and desensitization of today’s youth in a culture of crassness, sex and violence. It’s not a new message, to be sure, but it is always one worth taking a closer look at with every new generation. Harmony did it once with his screenplay for “KIDS” (1995) and with his film “Spring Breakers” it feels as if he’s showing us just how far we’ve come since then.  And Gang, it’s a disturbing, sick, nasty sight to behold. And that’s a good thing.

The Primal root Approves!  5 Dumpster Nuggets!

Stay Trashy!

-Root

22
Dec
12

Silent Night: Dreaming of a Schlock Christmas

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a Primal Root review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay Trashy!

-Root

04
Mar
11

Drive Angry, That Old Drive-In Spirit

a Primal Root Written Review

“I could shoot you in the throat and watch you gurgle as I eat my morning grapefruit.” – Jonah King, Drive Angry

I was only recently even made aware of this theatrically released cheese-ball action flick after someone sent me the red band trailer. I saw cars, explosions, fights, tits, guns and Nicolas Cage, a man whose acting prowess I have come to dislike so much and whose choices of acting roles perplex me so that he has become a bit of a cult icon to me. And all of these elements were rolled in to bizarre concoction entitled Drive Angry. And this sucker was going to be in 3D. I was sold.

As I looked intot he film more I realized this flick is a collaboration between the same writer and director who brought us the tons of fun 3D schlock fest, My Blood Valentine 3D, Todd Farmer and Patrick Lussier. Sure, Todd Farmer also wrote Jason X which sucks cocks in Hell and, let’s face it, My Bloody Valentine isn’t much more than the sum of it’s assemblage of cool gore effects…

But Drive Angry promises something totally different. It’s not a remake or a sequel to a well established horror franchise. This is something else entirely. It’s an original film that works as hellishly fun tip of the hat the the very best of cheap-o 42nd street cinema and late 80’s action extravaganzas. It’s like a Frankenstein monster assembled from still very entertaining and classic parts from favorite cult hits from years gone by. There’s badass fight scenes.greasy spoon diners populated by gross, touchy feely chefs and foul mouthed flirty waitresses. Hardcore Hotrods. Blood drenched shoot outs. A tough as nails chick who knows how to fight like a tigress. A quiet stranger dressed in black that everyone wants dead. Tons of nudity and a fucking brilliant sex shoot out scene that plays like the similar scene from 07;s Shoot ‘Em Up on Jolt Cola.  And even a satanic cult led by a molesty, necrophiliac, baby killing, scumbag sans penis played by Bella’s Dad from the Twilight series.

Someone did not put the bunny back in the box.

Our film is the story of a vengeance seeking father by the name of Milton ( Nic Cage) who has escaped from Hell to avenge the murder of her daughter and save his grand child from the satanic cult who killed her lead by the villainous Jonah King (Billy Burke). He gains the help of a young woman named Piper (Amber Heard) who is a force to reckoned with as illustrated after she finds her fiance fucking a skank in their stink hole apartment. The duo head south to Louisiana where the final showdown awaits, all the while, having to duck the authorities lead by Cap (Tom Atkins, a true Trash Cinema Legend in top form here.) as well as a smooth talking, sharply dressed supernatural force known as The Accountant (played by a scene stealing William Fichtner) who might be one of the coolest anti-heroes in recent memory.

The Accountant: Redefining awesome on a scene by scene basis.

Drive Angry has it all and, man, it’s just so goddamn tasty. It’s jam packed with that old Drive-In spirit fueled by excess and meaning to do nothing more than deliver the goods and entertain it’s audience at any cost. There is something to be admired in a film that enjoys delivering the filthy, blood smeared goods without making fun of itself or those of us who love this type of flick with every faint beat of or twisted black little hearts.  And after all the thought provoking and well made films of the Award season releases,  I have to admit, it’s a load of fun to simply switch the old gray matter on cruise control and take a trip with a guilty pleasure to most like Drive Angry.

As a matter of fact, yes, she knows how to use them.

Trust me, if you enjoy the kind of films that were once readily available as double and triple bills decades earlier when you could enjoy cinema under the stars, this film is something you will eat up like so much buttery, salty concession stand popcorn. Not since Piranha 3D and Machete have I had this kind of fun at the movies.

And yes, the film does give a Special Thanks to Bill Murray and Punxsutawney Phil in the end credits.

I would gladly come back fom Hell for Ms. Amber Heard.

Stay Trashy,

-The Primal Root




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