Posts Tagged ‘Revenge

28
Dec
18

Mandy (2018)Crazy Evil and The Depths of an Exquisite Hell

 

MANDY

a Primal Root written review

“I’m your God now.” – Red Miller, Mandy

The stars so rarely align to deliver a piece of art so pure in form and so glorious in it’s delivery as filmmaker Panos Cosmatos’ Mandy. Now, the setup is nothing new. Two souls love one another, find comfort in one another’s presence and deep bond beyond story book love evolves between them, a deep er connection more profound, peaceful and meaningful that most are lucky to find in a lifetime. That love is torn asunder and one of the two must seek revenge in order to find any kind of peace ever again. It’s a nightmare scenario, and one all of us can identify with in one way or another. To imagine the person we love and hold closest being taken away, never to be returned…in our heart of hearts, we would all want bloody revenge on those responsible.

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What sets Mandy far apart and leagues ahead of it’s unifying trope is the means by which our tale is told. It has taken elements as familiar and comfortable to us horror fans as well worn pair of loafers and injects those elements with energy, a clean new take, unfettered originality creating a new kind of monster that lumbering, brutal, and ready to fuck your brain hole.

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Mandy takes place in the great Pacific Northwest’s Shadow Mountain in 1983.  Red Miller (Nicolas Cage) is a mild mannered, bearded, beefy, lumber jack who works in the mountains by night and comes home to his uniquely beautiful artist girlfriend, Mandy Bloom (Andrea Riseborough). The two share a log cabin together and live a peaceful existence outside of society where they keep to themselves. That is until a fucking piece of shit christian cult drives through town, and their greasy, psychedelic, long haired, immensely insecure and bullying leader, Jeremiah Sand (Linus Roache) gets single passing glance at Mandy and decides he MUST HAVE HER. But, in order to do so, Jeremiah and his cult decide they need some help from some horrifying motorcycle riding, spike faced creatures from beyond the edge of Hell to help pull of their seduction/abduction plans.

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That night, as Mandy and Red sit in front of their television watching the trash cinema epic, 1982’s Nightbeast, and chowing down on what looks like steak and taters to me, the cult organizes their Hell creatures and set their horrible plan into action just as Red and Mandy hit the sack. In a nightmarish, dreadful sequence shot with blue strobe lights, these biker Cenobite monstrosities subdue our two protagonists, tie Red up with barbed wire in the backyard and take Mandy to meet Jeremiah who force feeds her some form of hallucinogenic and attempts to seduce in a prolonged trip of scene set in bright, neon red and purples. Of course, Mandy refuses and laughs hysterically at their weak, piece of shit leader as he shows off his nekkid body after his pathetic “join our lame-ass-cult sales pitch, and it is decided that she must meet a truly heinous and cruel death for her disrespect. The excruciatingly painful murder is committed in front of Red, who must witness the love of his life’s death in all it’s agonizing brutality.  We are shown this moment of savagery reflected in the eyes of Red, who is bound and helpless to save her.

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Once the deed is done, the cult packs it up and heads off into the rising sun, leaving Red for dead, still tied up in barbed wire and suffering from a brutal stab wound. Of course, Red manages to get free of the barb wire, has a final, soul crushing moment with his love’s remains, and decides over chugs of vodka and screams of abject horror, agony and rage, that this cult’s time is up and he is bringing them Hell they’ve never even imagined.  What follows is a film that straddles a place between the mystic and the psychotic and it a goddamn wonder to behold. You feel Red’s rage as he sifts through what’s left of a life that he and Mandy built together, a love so pure and care free, it breaks your heart, and to see that light they had together so fucking senselessly snubbed out because of the whims of a fucking ego maniacal fuck face, you, as an audience, just wish you could help him get that revenge he so desperately seeks.

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After gaining advice and weapons from some old friends, his crossbow “The Reaper,” and crafts a badass battle axe, Red sets out on his odyssey alone, to settle the score with the men, women and monsters who tore his life apart. Once by one, Red visits these murderers and viciously attacks and delivers his vengeance. Obviously, Red had some previous training in survivalism, but there is a learning curve for Red, which is pretty refreshing for this kind of film. Red gets his ass kicked a couple times and even finds himself captured, but he tends to get better as he goes along. Especially once he snorts some coke and does some tainted acid in the mobile home of the monstrous creatures we learn go by he name,”Black Skulls,” which turns the world into a new kind of technicolor nightmare. A neon blood bath we will spend the rest of the film in.

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A horror film where The Devil is the good guy, the far right Christian cultists are the fucking hive if perverse villainy and Nicolas Cage, who gives a career best performance as a mild mannered guy who has it all taken away battling the forces of evil among Shadow Mountain? Gang, that’s nothing not to love about this poetic acid head, black hearted, beautiful bitch a fucking masterpiece. This is Trash Cinema at it must unrefined and reaching it’s greatest heights. I know a lot has been said about Nic Cage’s performance in Mandy, how it’s just another “freak out” performance from this most beleaguered of Hollywood actors. To me, this is one of the most naturalistic and honest performances of the man’s entire career. When Red is chugging vodka in his tighty whities in the bathroom while screaming in absolute rage and grief, you cannot tell me this is not exactly how your would react and feel if you just witnessed the love of your life burned alive right in front of you. To have held the ashes of that one person that meant everything to you in your hands, who died only because she refused to give in to a madman.  Gang, this is a performance that deserves all the recognition in the world. Also, that Cheddar Goblin commercial is a thing of Trashy beauty, too. 😉

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Mandy is a powerhouse of a film and my pick for 2018’s Golden Nugget Award, for Best Trash Cinema Film of the Year.

Five Dumpster Nuggets out of Five.

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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29
Jun
17

(NSFW) Firecracker aka: Naked Fist (1981) Explosion of Brutality

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What are firecrackers, exactly? Small packaged explosives, we light the wick, run for our very lives and they explode into brilliant colors sending sparks raining down on a crowd of eye popping onlookers. But that’s it. A booming loud, colorful flash int he pan you won;t remember five minutes after you see it. IF this is the case, the 1981 martial arts meets mafia extravaganza, Firecracker, doesn’t just have a clever name.

Firecracker is, for all intent and purposes, a retread of TNT Jackson, but with the additions of much more bloodshed, a bit more nudity and a white girl in the lead. Firecracker tells the story of a young female martial arts instructor, Susanne Carter (played by a very game a frequently nekkid Jillian Kesner) , who rushes off to the Philippines to track down the person who murdered her little sister and exact bloody, merciless revenge! What she stumbles across is a martial arts nightclub where people place bets on fights to the death while you enjoy five star Philippine cuisine. It is soon revealed that, of course, this business is a smoke screen for something far more insidious than murder… DRUG TRAFFICKING! Susan sets course for vengeance and begins to get close to the inner circle of folks running the operation, and even ends up falling madly in love with the sadistic top fighter and sadistic murderer in the process.

Let me tell you, to be honest, Firecracker is basically a bunch of chitchat between fun and weird fight scenes. If this movie could bottle the energy from the fight sequences and spread it throughout the film, it could have been a far more memorable flick. As it stands, the film is missing a certain form of spark that really make it a memorable piece of Trash Cinema. However, that spark CAN be found in abundance during a handful of truly outrageous, brutal, messy, freakish fight sequences sprinkled throughout the movie as if to make up for all the standing around in front of gorgeous scenery and talking about lame exposition sequences.

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I’m talking about one scene in particular that could be edited together as a short film unto itself. It;s tonal shifts from absurdist comedy, slapstick, slasher gore fest, brutal crime drama and sexploitation picture is so bonkers and changes on a dime, it had my head spinning about twenty seconds in. Susanne is getting chased down the back alleys of the Philippines by two wannabe rapists brandishing switchblades and filthy hardons of violence and shame. Susanne run to avoid conflict onto a construction site guarded by a goofy looking armed guard, Susanne run right past him and leads the two rapists right into friendly, funny looking, minding his own business guards path. I was expecting them to maybe push him, he’d slip on a banana peel, land on a shovel and a bucket of paint would fall on his head. No, these mother fuckers shove him onto a PICK AXE! The pick axe stabs him in the back. and one of the rapists then steps on the guys slowly making the pick axe rip through his back and out of his chest. It’s so callous, bloody and shockingly mean spirited I was literally shaken. I mean, yes, these guys are rapists in waiting, but man, that’s some super cold and nasty shit to do to this guy.

So, we now know without a doubt that these scum bags as vicious and cruel beyond compare and we are now deeply concerned for our young martial arts instructors safety. We then recall that Susanne can hold her own in a fight, which makes it all the more strange that she didn’t lift a finger to try and defend the goofy security guard who was just slowly murdered while she stood and watched… It isn;t long after she witnesses this savagery that Susanne decides to fight back! And as she does so, the killer rapists come at her with scythes and knives, ripping articles of clothing off as they go. Now, is this now supposed to be titillating? Because, you know, the way it is shot, they certainly arent afraid to show close ups of her goods as she reacts in startled, somewhat goofy expressions, but I am still terrified of what these guys are going to do. There;s a very strange duality in this scene between wanting to be sadistic and mean while also being sexy and funny. By the time one of the rapist’s head has been split open by a buzzsaw and Susanne is doing nekkid flying jump kicks through the air, I had my head between my hands as my filthy mind experienced some form of existential crisis. This scene literally haunted me for weeks…

The scene is soon followed by one of the greatest action exploitation CONSENSUAL sex scenes I’ve ever witnessed. Susanne and her prize fighter fuck buddy find themselves alone in his bedroom. He tosses her onto the bed and pulls out a knife and begins slowly, seductively slicing her clothes off. Her blouse, her bra and so fort, until she is stark nekkid. Then it’s her boy toy’s turn as she starts slicing his trousers REAL close to his wangdoodle all while whispering arousing bon mots like, “”I can feel the blood pulsing inside your head.” Woah, baby, this is one weird boner I’ve got standing up here.

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These two scenes and a brawl to the death at the end of the film featuring a pleasant up close and personal eye gouging outing are the wonderful reasons I would recommend Firecracker. It’s not a terrible Trash Cinema flick, but it is a tad bit on the dull side for a considerable amount of it’s run time, with moments of campy fun popping up occasionally.

I’m rating this puppy THREE out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

10
Feb
16

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

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a Primal Root written review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay Trashy, Gang!

-Root

12
Jul
15

JAWS: THE REVENGE (1987) This time it’s Meh…

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a Primal Root written review

“Oh, shit.” – Michael Caine as Hoagie in JAWS: The Revenge (1987)

The protective drive of Motherhood is a very powerful thing. The lengths a Mother will go to to protect her young, to save her own, is the stuff of legend and a tale as old as time. There is one sequel I can think of that gets this right, that perfectly illustrated the bond between Mother and child and the deep-seated maternal instinct to protect their blood at any cost. That film is James Cameron’s Aliens (1986). A really shitty example of this is is JAWS: The Revenge. The piss poor 4th and final installment in the long beleaguered killer fish franchise.

JAWS: The Revenge starts our promisingly enough with a dark Yule Tide return to Amity Island where we catch up with The Family Brody. Turns out Police Chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider)  died of a heart attack some time ago, his wife Ellen Brody (Lorraine Gray) is still in town and his youngest son, Sean Brody (Mitchell Anderson), is now an incredibly whiny deputy on the island. A couple days before Christmas a great white shark plants a large piece of driftwood on a channel marker to lure Sean Brody out on his boat and then proceeds to eat the guy by way of really shitty quick editing that leaps from a bloody yellow slicker to close ups of phony shark teeth and footage that repeatedly switches from day to night. Obviously, the production could not afford to create an on screen struggle between man and beast, and instead must rely on these means in a vain attempt to make it appear a horrific attack is occurring.  Poor little ol’ Sean screams for help all along in the dark as several hundred feet away a group of high schoolers sing Christmas carols totally oblivious to the man munching taking place just behind them in the dark water off Amity Island. It’s a brutal, nasty, promising way to start a JAWS film…but it’s all down hill from there.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Ellen Brody, deeply traumatized to the point she laughs her ass off at her own son’s funeral, who is buried in a full size coffin despite the fact you could fit what was left of him into a Happy Meal box, heads to the Bahamas to spend some time screaming at her oldest son Michael (Lance Guest, The Last Star Fighter) and his family to “GET OUT OF THE WATER!” As she is convinced a great white shark is systematically killing off the Brody lineage. That fucking crazy thing about it is SHE’S RIGHT! There is some fucking great white shark out there with a death wish for The Brody Clan. Now, the family relation between this great white shark and the man eating death machines who starred in the previous franchise entries is never revealed, but this beast can somehow hone in on individual members of the Brody bloodline, create elaborate set ups in order to have them in the right place at the right time to attack and can, in fact, teleport and/or travel at warp speed around the earth’s oceans in order to accomplish it’s mission of eating everyone who had something to do with the death of those other killer sharks.

Everyone dies sooner or LADDER! Wokka, wokka, wokka!

Everyone dies sooner or LADDER! Wokka, wokka, wokka!

It’s sheer lunacy and makes not a lick of sense whatsoever, and I am a guy that can suspend my disbelief pretty goddamn far. Anyhoo, this great white shark manages to travel from the cold December waters of Amity Island all the way to the warm, crystal clear waters of The Bahamas in a matter of days to pray upon Michael Brody and his colleagues as they study the migration and mating habits of conchs. It’s really riveting stuff as Michael and his partner Jake (Mario Van Peebles sporting a ridiculous island accent) banter back and forth about how one another’s work sucks. Before long our vendetta shark shows up and starts lunging and chomping as only the most lackluster of animatronic sharks can. The crew decides to keep this news quite as not to alert their worried wives and mothers to the fact a killer shark is trying to settle a score and is after them all. Beside, Ellen Brody is falling madly in love with a pilot/drug smuggler named after my favorite sandwich, Hoagie (Academy Award Winning Thespian Michael Caine, collecting a pay check and soaking up the rays) and is trying to keep her weird sharky sense that causes her to stare intensely towards the ocean and hear bizarre tiger noises to a minimum.

"I'ma fuck you up, Mother Mother Ocean. "

“I’ma fuck you up, Mother Mother Ocean. “

Romance blossoms between Hoagie and Ellen, much to the chagrin of Michael aka: Oedipus, as Michael’s research team tracks the movement of the killer shark, study it, and get attacked and chased around by it in astoundingly silly sequences where the shark moves with the speed and agility of a retarded sloth. These scenes, much like the majority of the film, are an embarrassment to watch and feel like they belong to some half assed movie of the week as opposed to an installment in a cinematic franchise based upon one of the greatest horror films ever made. It is only after the shark cannot seem to wrap it’s JAWS around Michael in a mind numbingly slow chase through a sunken vessel, that is decides to head after Michael adorable little daughter, Thea (Judith Barsi, RIP) as she cruises the waters on the back of a banana boat during the unveiling of her Mother’s modern art piece entitled “Tourist on the Loose.” Thankfully, our Punisher shark decides to take out little Thea and despite all this intricate planning, the shark beyond supernatural ability to target these family members, manages to fucking miss Thea entirely and devours the stunt woman on the back of the banana boat right behind Thea. WHAT THE FUCK, SHARK? I and others have come to a belief, that your heart is not in this. That you don’t have the belly for it.

Fucking sharks...

Fucking sharks…

After this moment of terror where a woman we don;t know is crunched up into chum, Ellen decides to head out to see and kill that bitch shark once and for all! As the ridiculous tot he point of awesomeness ad line says, “This Time It’s PERSONAL!” Ellen makes way out to see before Hoagie, Michael and Jake find her via small air craft just in time Ellen to spout a half assed retread of Martin Brody’s incredible line from the original JAWS, then it was “Smile you son of a BITCH!” only now it’s “Come and get me you son of a bitch.” which made my eyes roll so hard they nearly fell out of their sockets. Hoagie crash lands the plane into the ocean, everyone swims to the boat and they decide to agitate the shark by shoving some doodad down the shark’s gullet and then trigger the doodad with something thingamajig that makes funny noises. I’m not sure what the fuck is going on for sure, or just what the fucking Hell the plan is, but Jake ends up sticking this thing the shark’s gore hole before getting eaten himself. Michael hits the agitator cycle and Ellen steers the sailboat right into the shark which is in mid-leap into the air for some reason. It’s an incredibly lucky shot of Ellen as the sailboat stabs the Revenge Shark right in the self destruct button and the shark actually explodes. Yes, you read that right. The shark gets impaled and then blows up into a huge spray of blood and meaty chunks without having an explosive device of any sort within it’s body. The film then cuts to stock footage from the original JAWS as the carcass of the decimated monstrosity sinks to the sandy bottom of the ocean floor.

What the fuck am I looking at, here?

What the fuck am I looking at, here?

Even less believable, after being last seen almost entirely within the mouth of a great white shark and pouring blood out of numerous deep wounds caused by the crushing jaws filled with razor sharp teeth of the enormous great white shark that is eating him, Jake swims over to the other survivors, spouts a few witty quips as he bleeds tremendous amounts of blood into the ocean…and survives.  Cut to Hoagie flying back to Amity Island as all the survivors smile and wave. The End.

I'm fine.

I’m fine.

JAWS: The Revenge has the kernel of a cool idea and start off promisingly enough with that cool and mean spirited return to Amity Island. But the ridiculous concept that a shark is on some kind of quest for retribution against those who have wronged it’s species sinks the film under it’s own stupidity. I honestly enjoyed the brief glimpse of Amity Island during it’s Christmas celebration and seeing some familiar faces amongst the Islanders, even the oddly staged death of Sean Brody is pretty nifty. For all it’s countless flaws, JAWS: The Revenge has it’s heart in the right place even if nothing else is.  JAWS: The Revenge desperately wants to be every bit the worthiest of sequels to the original masterpiece, JAWS, evidenced by all the goddamn homages and sepia toned flash backs to the original film that constantly take you out of JAWS: The Revenge and makes you wonder why you aren’t simply watching the far superior JAWS.

Too serious for it’s own good and never campy enough to be enjoyed as a B-Movie, JAWS: The Revenge is a pretty slow and dreary affair when it’s not being totally batshit insane as is the case with the film’s ending. However, JAWS: The Revenge is the one film in the franchise that did what none of the others managed to do; kill off the JAWS franchise once and for all.

That is, until JAWS 19 which should be coming out later in 2015. In holovision, no less.

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I award JAWS: The Revenge ONE and a HALF out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets

Stay Trashy!

-Root

03
May
15

Master of the Flying Guillotine (1977)

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A John (Whiskey Sour) Carpenter written review

Hey Gang! Normally here at the Collective, we tend to stay more in the trashy, horror(y?), sexy, lovingly yet poorly made schlock world of celluloid. On occasion though, straying from the beaten path is necessary. Even more, sometimes it reeeeeeeeeeally pays off. Enter Master of the Flying Guillotine!

This film truly deserves a wider audience than it has. Considered by critics and aficionados as a paragon of the wu-xia (woo-shaw) genre, which you probably know as kung-fu movies, this film is a gods-damned blast. Light on plot, but heavy on incredible action sequences, imaginative fight choreography, bizarre kung-fu powers, and enough birds flying through fights to make John Wu blow a load, this is a film worth your time. Let’s dive in.

The film opens with a very old, blind kung-fu master practicing at his mountain home, with a narrator explaining that said master works for the ruling government as an assassin. A bird flies to him with a message taped to it, informing him (and you, the viewer) that his two disciples have been killed by another legendary kung-fu master known as the One-Armed Boxer. The master vows to avenge their deaths, and whips out his flying guillotine, which is something you do NOT want to put your dick in. Essentially a hat with the edge lined with blades on the outside and inside attached to a chain, he shows us exactly why you, again, do NOT want to put your dick in it. He practices on some dummies by swinging the guillotine around, throwing it over their heads, and instantly and completely decapitating them. Feeling ready, he throws a tiny bomb at his house, burns the place up, and goes on his journey, vowing to kill the One-Armed Boxer. Unfortunately for him, it seems that ancient China has enough one-armed men to keep Tommy Lee Jones busy for decades.

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Cut to a kung-fu school, we learn that the One-Armed Boxer runs his own kung-fu school, and is actually a pretty nice guy. He’s not overly fond of the ruling government, which seems rather oppressive. He gets wind of a kung-fu tournament held by another kung-fu school. He has correctly assumed that Mr. Guillotine is out to pull his head off, and wants to stay low. However, his students convince him to allow them to, if not participate in the tournament, watch it to learn something. They go, and we are witness to some of the most fun sequences of fighting I’ve ever witnessed.

We get match after match of gruesome, silly kung-fu fighting, where everyone has a great name and skill to match. We also get introduced to some memorable side characters, including a Mongol fighter, an Indian yoga master who is basically Dhalsim from Street Fighter, and a Japanese fighter who I assume is some kind of policeman type figure. A Thai kickboxer is introduced earlier in the film as well, who also participates. We get to see some fantastic fighting, wonderful cinematography, and some laughably silly powers. In the middle of our fun unfortunately, Mr. Guillotine shows up and starts fucking shit up and ripping heads off people. It’s at this point that the film spirals into true awesomeness. The Thai boxer, Indian yogi, and Japanese guy team up with Mr. Guillotine, because reasons, and One-Armed Boxer has to use his wits and skills to take them out one by one.

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I’m sure you can figure out how the film goes from this point. It’s rather predictable in all honesty, but it doesn’t matter one bit. The final four fight sequences are incredible, extremely well shot, and very imaginative. The final fight with Mr. Boxer and Mr. Guillotine is a combination of John Wu just jerking off birds into the shot everywhere, but with an actual reason for it, Home Alone-style booby traps, and flat out bad ass fighting. It’s also fascinating to see the treatment of other ethnic groups in the film. Finally, it’s a FANTASTIC introduction to the legendary Jimmy Wang Yu’s work. If you don’t know the name, learn it. He is one of the most important figures in Chinese film history, and therefore film history, and highly influential in the martial arts film genre. Without him, we might not have films like (whether you like ‘em or hate ‘em) Flying Tiger Hidden Dragon, The Matrix, and other films heavy on acrobatic fighting with bizarre powers. He also in part set the stage for the rising star of Bruce Lee. He has a HUGE body of work that is worth watching. In short, watch the fuckin’ movie. You can find it on Youtube, or get it from Netflix DVD, or probably Torrent it or something. I advise getting a version with subtitles, as apparently the dubbed versions aren’t that great. I give the film 4 out of 5 head-ripping offing, flying kicks to the facing, all out fun as hell dumpster nuggets. Definitely worth your time!

19
Apr
15

Unfriended (2014): Grumpy Young Assholes

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a Primal Root written review

Man, the future according to cinema keeps looking bleaker all the time. If it’s not some kind of genetic ape epidemic, Lovecraftian unspeakable evil hostel takeover, or nuclear apocalypse it’s a fucking zombie outbreak that our military forces just can’t contain. I’ve seen these scenarios done many, many times over. Sometimes done well, often done stupidly, but typically on quite a grandiose scale. But, if you ask me, often times the terrible turd of a future the movies keep warning us of is so much more enjoyable when handled…subtly. And what makes all the more frightening is when it’s simply a teen horror film that is trying to present teenage human being as they actually are. And then you just think about the future with these fuckers and realize just how deeply fucked in the pooper we really are.

Enter Unfriended, 2015’s answer to 1999’s The Blair Witch Project and 2007’s Paranormal Activity. It’s your typical horror movie only we, the viewer, are witnessing an evening on the social networks from the perspective of young, pretty high school girl, Val, (Courtney Halverson) who begins, um, sexting (?) her boyfriend, who she professes to love but refuses to fuck, that is, until promising to on prom night. How original. Anyhoo, Laura almost pulls open her flannel shirt to give us a glimpse of her T-Birds, but these kid’s obnoxious buddies choose that moment to start up a, um, Live Chat (?) through the interwebs.

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It turns out tonight is the one year anniversary of their mutual friend Laura’s suicide, which was taped on a cell phone from a distance of about 50 yards as she puts a gun to her face and pulls the trigger.  People can be heard yelling “Don’t do it!” and “Stop!” But we don’t see a single person try to approach her. Thankfully, it is captured for posterity on Youtube for all to revisit whenever they please. It seems  Laura was the victim of some very mean spirited bullying which came to a climax with a nasty video of her getting hammered out of her mind at a party and then passing out… and shitting her pants was uploaded to the web with a nice little credit at the end urging her to kill herself.

Sure, this might sound like loads of laughs to many sociopathic teeny boppers out there these days, but to me, I can’t understand what would prompt people to do this to someone. I can see maybe one person being an utter scumbag to someone, but for what is implied to be an entire student body urging a girl to kill herself after a video of her laying in a pool of her own chunky diarrhea is hard for me to comprehend. I can wrap my mind around the teenage jerks in Carrie, Fear No Evil, even Weird Science and the like, but this new generation of bullying jerks has reached a terrifying new height of scumbaggery where they can hurt and bully someone to the point of killing themselves and then make jokes about it and justify it after on 12 months.

What I’m trying to say is there is no hope for humanity, that is, if Unfriended is to be believed. But, thankfully, there is someone who by all appearances is the ghost of Laura hacking into their Live Chat (?) and killing them all off one by one via the old and moldy drinking game “Never Have I Ever.” Sure, it’s kind of lame, but it is pretty hysterical to watch these self proclaimed “Good People” freak the fuck out as truths are revealed and back stabbings are brought to the surface. Man, if you can;t trust the people responsible for bullying a person into suicide, who can you trust?  It’s an interesting update to the slasher formula. Where once the likes of Freddy and Jason were killing off kids for smoking weed and fucking like bunnies, these kids are getting butchered for totally understandable reasons. In Friday the 13th, these kids weren’t hurting anyone else. But these kids in Unfriended are the most deplorable, detestable fuck bags I’ve seen on screen in years! The victims in the SAW franchise were more savory than these teenage “protagonists.” You will laugh and cheer as their worlds are crushed and then their skulls.

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That being said, there are long patches of this flick where not a whole lot is going on. Val spends a lot of time on various search engines and texting various people. You’ll be straining to read everything that is constantly popping up on the screen, some essential to the plot, some not so much. Also, there isn’t much for you gore hounds out there. It’s all shown in drips and drabs, but in a way, I feel that might have been a bit more effective for the medium they were going for. But for you shit lovers out there, there’s plenty of shots of poo-poo puddles for your enjoyment.

All in all, I went in with a sinking feeling this movie was going to be horrendously bad. To my amazement, it was moderately enjoyable. I rooted for the unseen murderous spirit of vengeance, I laughed out loud more than once at humor both intentional and unintentional. I gotta say, I had an alright time watching this one with Bootsie Kidd. It’s not a good film by ANY stretch of the imagination, but it was a relatively entertaining take on the slasher formula. It did things a little different and by the time the credits rolled had me weeping for humanity itself. Because if the message of Unfriended is to be believed, we’re all… shit out of luck.  But also, within this movie there’s a great moral to be learned. Don’t be a fucking asshole! DON’T BE A FUCKING ASSHOLE! Trust me, you fuck the wrong person over and the next thing you know you’re turning your own hand in salsa for ll your buddies to witness! Also, another important reminder, everything you post, say or do on the internet is bound to come back and haunt you. It’s an interesting new place for evil to dwell and Unfriended hits that new realm a bit closer to the mark than most.

I reward this sucker TWO AND A HALF out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets!

Stay Trashy!

-Root

10
Aug
14

(NSFW) Sex and Fury (1973) Brutal Beauty or Vengeance is a Dish Best Served Nude

artwork by Andrew Peters

artwork by Andrew Peters

a Primal Root written review

I gotta say, there are few things in this realm of existence more exciting and beautiful than a badass nekkid woman brandishing a kitana and lopping various body parts off goons and heavies in the heat of battle. Watching the blood fly and the breasts bounce is truly a remarkable experience and a sight to behold.  I had always assumed these scene could only play out in my imagination, a daydream of a man obsessed with filth and the female form. To my astonishment, to my pure delight, the 1973 pinky violence epic, Sex and Fury, managed to commit this dream like boner inducing bloody massacre to a vivid, mind blowing reality.  Friends and Collective members, I may have just fallen in love with a movie.

Sex and Fury, directed by Noribumi Suzuki is the story of  one young woman’s quest for vengeance after witnessing, as a child the brutal, gore drenched murder of her detective father by the Yakuza gang. His final gift to her, the only witness of the assassination, are three hanafuda cards, the deer, the boar, and the butterfly, which will serve as clues to the identity of his killer. 20 years later, this little girl has grown up to be the stunningly gorgeous and deadly Reiko Ike, who gives herself the identity Inoshika Ocho, coded based upon her quarry (ino = boar, shika = deer, ocho = butterfly).  All the while, gang ringleader Kurokawa (Seizaburo Kawazu) and his flunky Iwakura (Hiroshi Nawa) consolidate the power of their Seishinkai Group, securing the carving of their turf in an ever changing and modern Japan.

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Ocho has become a well known and highly renowned gambler and thief and ends up having a beef with the Seishinkai after a dying Yakuza gambler begs Ocho to save his daughter from the rapey clutches of Iwakura, a mission she relishes tackling. Along the way she crosses paths with two other characters, the son of a murdered Seishinkai rival, Shunosuke (Masataka Maruse), who has some excellent emo hair and, like Ocho, a similar lust for vengeance. Ocho also runs across the scrumptious Christina (Christina Lindberg) a sexy and mysterious young woman from out west who has a legendary rep for being unbeatable at gambling and is also extensively talented with a firearm. Believe it or not, these characters and events all come together and lay the path for Ocho’s brutal quest for payback.

Reiko Ike (Battles Without Honor or Humanity) throws herself into the role with full bore ferocity that’s a pleasure to witness. She’s an lovely screen presence with striking features and a body that’s a knock out. for me, the movie doesn’t get much better than during Reiko’s extensive and lengthy nude sword fight with about a dozen Yakuza henchmen that starts in a bathtub and ends in a snow covered courtyard that soon turns shades of pink and red and the body parts fly and blood sprays by the bucket full. The fight is well staged and beautifully choreographed and shot and is truly a spectacle to behold. I can honestly say I’ve never seen another nude fight scene comes close to this sequence. Honestly, it is a thing of beauty.

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Also, I must mention Christine Lindberg (Thriller: A Cruel Picture aka:They Call Her One Eye), the cult star of some now notorious sex flicks and exploitation classics, has never really had much range, but does the best she can while trying to speak in stilted and awkward phonetically learned Japanese. Whatever\issues do arise from her presence in the film are more than made up for by her character’s ridiculously melodramatic story line, show stopping outfits and some very sexy scenes later in the film. Really, it’s just cool seeing Christine in just about anything.  My only gripe about Sex & Fury is that is often tries to depict sexual assault in a titillating manner, which has always been uncomfortable for me to watch but seems to be a staple of Japanese and Hong Kong films of the period. Thankfully, these scenes make up a very small portion of the film which is otherwise a none stop flowage of awesome sauce.

Bottom line, Sex and Fury is supreme Trash Cinema entertainment. There’s just about everything you cold possibly one from a genre picture of it’s ilk, sword play, gun play, graphic violence, martial arts, sexy women, copious amounts of nudity,  and many of these elements crossing paths at the exact same time lovingly and painstakingly realized.  Sex and Fury is truly remarkable piece of Trash.

I’m giving Sex and Fury FIVE out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets

Stay Trashy!

-Root

29
Jun
14

Trash Cinema Nights presents The Burning (1981)

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Who: The Trash Cinema Collective
What: a screening of  1981’s “The Burning”
When: Saturday, July 5th at 10:00pm
Where: Bird’s Aphrodisiac Oyster Shack
Why: Because we love you.

as always…NO COVER!

MATURE CONTENT WARNING: Leave the fruits of your loins at home! Blood shed, full frontal female nudity, um…lots of female nudity and general slasher movie butchery goodness. With garden shears.

Hey Gang! As I am sure you’re well aware with the might of the current humidity situation and temperatures in the mid 90’s, it’s glorious summer time in Florida! What better way to celebrate this warm, moist, sweaty season than with a special Trash Cinema Night screening of one of the meanest, nastiest little summer camp slasher flicks of the 1980’s, 1981’s “The Burning?” Sure, it sounds like a PSA about genital herpes, but it’s one damn fine low budget horror show.

Gratuitous blood, breasts and one nasty disfigured psychopath who looks like his head is made up of a gnawed on wad of Big League Chew. I can think of no better way to continue celebrating our nation’s independence than by wallowing in the complete filth that is the 1980’s American slasher flick.

So come on out, sink your teeth into the best damn burger in Tallahassee, order up a pitcher of your favorite ice cold brew and let’s rot our brains together as we watch the likes of Jason Alexander, Fisher Stevens and Holly Hunter get terrorized by Cropsy, the summer camp legend who got roasted like so many marshmallows during a really badly planned prank and is now transforming teenagers into meat mulch.

We’ll see you Saturday, July 5th at 10pm over at Bird’s aphrodisiac Oyster shack for an evening of utter mayhem you won’t want to miss!

Stay Trashy!
-Root

28
Apr
14

Christine (1983): Cars, Kids, Parents and Shitters

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“Let me tell you a little something about love, Dennis. It has a voracious appetite. It eats everything. Friendship. Family. It kills me how much it eats.” -Arnie Cunningham, Christine (1983)

a Primal Root written review

It’s all true, the legends are real, and we all must face it at one time or another: Growing up sucks.  When we’re children this is the last thing on our minds as we explore, grow and challenge the world around us. But then there’s those teenage years when the world of adulthood begins to rear it’s ugly head. The prospects of responsibility, paying bills, squelching all aspects of your individuality and creativity in order to fold neatly and unobtrusively into the 9 to 5 rat race world of ass kissing and corporate scumbaggery. The trick is not to fall into that trap so many of us find ourselves in where we become disillusioned, cynical, turning our backs on our dreams, our aspirations and that child of our youth that deserved so much better than us rolling over and letting the world at large stick the societal cock up our ass without lube and ride us the rest of our days. This is the true horror of life, the unspoken tragedy of adulthood.

Enter John Carpenter’s “Christine,” his 1983 adaptation of Stephen King’s BEST SELLING novel. Let me start by saying, yes, I have read the book and I do realize the movie isn’t exactly the book. Let me clarify, this is a completely different artistic medium than literature, this is film, and in the process of adaptation some events and characters must be changed in order to fit this new format.  I think Carpenter delivered a lean, mean, intelligent and heartfelt big screen version of King’s tale of adolescent yearning, the pain of being an outcast, the horrors of high school, and the often disheartening and nasty business of transitioning to adulthood.

 Christine is the story two childhood friends,  Dennis Guilder (John Stockwell) who is living the teen dream as the popular, well built and lusted after captain of the varsity football team who has laid back parents and his own car, and Arnie Cunningham (Keith Gordon, in a brilliant performance) a stereotypical nerd with greased over hair, thick, black glasses, parents who completely smother him and control his every move and lives a life of constant torment at the hands of the school bully, Buddy Rupperton, who looks to be about 38 years old and seems to live to hurt others along with his squad of goonish  teenage sidekicks. Dennis and Arnie grew up together, and as children, they were equals. But as time went on they both grew into their roles and dropped into their place in high school, teenage pecking order. Despite all this, the two maintain a close friendship, a brother like bond.

Buying-Christine

Arnie is obviously the outsider, ignored by his peers and brutally bullied and picked on by goons like the teenage asshole prototype Buddy Repperton who looks like he’s been held back about ten years and refers to Arnie Cunningham and “Cuntingham.”  Get it?   Repperton and his buddies live to inflict pain and be absolute jerks to anyone who crosses their paths, focusing the thrust of their efforts and ganging up on those who are the weakest and can’t fight back. Arnie does his best to stand up for himself through this humiliating torment, but he often has to rely on his friend Dennis for help. Shit, when it’s four or five blood thirsty teenage cavemen, we could all use a little assistance.  In one intense standoff where Buddy is brandishing a switchblade against the defenseless Arnie, the whole ordeal ends with Arnie getting his glasses stomped upon, Dennis getting his balls squeezed into lemonade and Buddy ending up expelled and lowering death threats at Arnie. Yep, sounds like a typical day in high school to me.

But soon Arnie finds solace and peace of mind in the form of an old, rusted out, Plymouth Fury he spots on the way home with Dennis. “Her name’s Christine.”  Bearded, smelly looking, back brace wearing, old timer George Lebay (Roberts Blossom) informs them as Arnie and Dennis check the death trap of a car out. Lebay reflects on the day his recently deceased brother brought Christine home fresh off the assembly line.  “My asshole brother bought her back in September ’57. That’s when you got your new model year, in September. Brand-new, she was. She had the smell of a brand-new car. That’s just about the finest smell in the world, ‘cept maybe for pussy.” Ah, George Lebay, you are a delight! Best character in the film and he’s got about 5 minutes of screen time.

Of course, Arnie buys the car and drives it home only to find his controlling to the point of it being borderline psychotic Mother refuses to allow him to park it in their drive way and goes total ape shit over the fact that Arnie bought something without consulting her and his Father (mostly her) first.  Dad’s a total pussy and just goes along with what his wife dictates to poor, unfortunate, Arnie who has done everything she’s told him to do his entire life. He defends himself admirably before stomping out of the house, slamming the door and driving his moveable beast over to a local garage owned by seedy businessman Will Darnell (Robert Prosky), another adult who decides to give Arnie a nice little helping of shit, hassling the kid and calling the poor guy a creep before Dennis gives Arnie a ride home where Arnie’s parents are locked and loaded, ready to pulverize Arnie with more verbal abuse. It’s been one Hell of a day for poor, sad, Arnie Cunningham.

Soon, Arnie isn’t around as much. Every spare moment he has he’s at Darnell’s garage working on Christine. The car’s mileage is running backwards, her paint job is restored despite the fact that style of paint isn’t manufactured anymore, and the cracks in her windshield seem to be shrinking. Arnie seems to be changing to, he is cold, distant, loses his glasses and is soon dating the hot new girl in school whom all the boys lust for, Leigh Cabot (Alexandra Paul), which still baffles me when there’s the voluptuous, gorgeous head cheerleader Roseanne (Kelly Preston) around who looks to be up for getting down and dirty. Anyhoo, Dennis ends up getting severely injured and nearly paralyzed during a football game and ends up int he hospital for several months.  This gives him a perfect vantage point to witness Arnie’s strange behavior and disturbing changes in character as Arnie drops by sporadically to visit and his spirit becomes darker, meaner.

Arnie

Before long Christine is in tip=top shape and is the envy of everyone at school. Even Leigh becomes jealous of all the attention Arnie lavishes on Christine. This would be really stupid if it weren’t for the fact Christine is actually full of evil and tries to kill Leigh at the Drive-In by making her choke on a delicious hamburger in a creepy yet somewhat hysterical scene. Sorry, I know I shouldn’t laugh, but Leigh’s chocking face is kind of comical. I know, I’m going to Hell.  Thankfully, a nearby Drive-In patron is there to save Leigh in time while Arnie fumbles with Christine’s door handle.

Christine also catches the eye of Buddy Repperton, the local asshole, and his crew of violent idiots. The decide to break into Darnell’s garage after hours and totally destroy Christine in a scene that’s tantamount to a gang rape.  The teens bash Christine to pieces with led pipes, sledgehammers, and knives. One even pauses to drop his trousers and drop a Cleveland steamer right on Christine’s dash. This scene is a testament to all those horrible human beings int her world who crave pleasure by hurting others. Watching these complete scumbags work over Christine is infuriating and makes you crave vengeance. When Arnie and Leigh walk into Darnell’s garage and find his beloved Christine in pieces, Arnie’s reaction is completely understandable if  not a bit savage. When Leigh goes to comfort Arnie he lashes out at her, screaming at her, calling her a “shitter.”

Suddenly, Christine has become a rape revenge film. Christine reforms herself in a matter f seconds with the coaxing of her teenage lover, Arnie and it’s off to the races as Christine begins killing off each of her rapists one by one. Arnie, in the midst of he and Christine’s nightly killing sprees, visits Dennis and is creepily unhinged, making jokes about the recent death of a fellow classmate who took part in trying to demolish the unkillable Christine.  When interrogated about the incident by Detective Rudolph Junkins (Harry Dean Stanton, never anything less than outstanding), the detective mentions how the murdered young man had to be scraped of the ground with a shovel to which Arnie replies “Isn’t that what you do with shit? Scrap it off the ground with a shovel?” Way to maintain your innocence, Arnie. Please, next time, go grab your attorney.

Everyone knows Arnie and Christine are to blame for this rash of killings and all those who love and care for Arnie the most are those who are in danger, the ones Christine has manipulated Arnie into believing are “The Shitters” of the world. Those who want to keep Arnie from being with Christine,  the one thing that is his, the one thing that gave him unconditional love in return.  It will all lead to a final confrontation at Darnell’s Garage, but who’s motor will be left running when all is said and done?

FlamingChristine

At the end of the day, cars aren’t very scary. They are inanimate objects that require human interaction for them to work. They are tools to be utilized.  However, John Carpenter makes it work by relying one very trick in his film making vocabulary. He focuses more on the human aspects of the story and concentrates on making all the moments between the human players feeling almost painfully genuine. As a film goer, I’ve seen few movies, horror or otherwise, that portray high school and the experience of being a teenager with such bleak, gritty, unfiltered honesty. This time in your life can really suck, and I am sure many of us can relate, even if it is only a little bit, with Arnie Cunningham, the kid who has tried so hard to please everyone and put up with all the bullshit constantly shoved in his face, that when he finally finds that one thing that he falls in love with and loves him back, in this case, cherry red evil on wheels that speaks to him through hand picked oldies radio selections, he loses himself totally to this seduction, this perceived love.

 Christine can be interpreted many different ways. At face value, it’s simply a story of possession at the hands of an evil monster car, which is one fantastic B-Movie concept. But here, in the hands of John Carpenter and screenwriter Bill Phillips, Christine offers up so much more than that.  I’ve heard a lot of folks compare Christine to a fable about drug addiction, and I can certainly see the what they mean.  Arnie finds the one thing in life that brightens his life, gives it some kind of meaning outside of the expectations of others and he follows that road of self destruction to it’s sad, tragic ending.  It totally makes sense and I think that interpretation is entirely valid.

I’ve always seen the film as a horrible tale of growing up and away from the kid you once were. Being shaped by those around you and letting their behavior and treatment of you shape you into something you never wanted to be. Bullied, beaten down, mistreated and an outcast, Christine represents Arnie’s out, but also, as the model of the care suggests, the embracing of Arnie’s internal fury, the cynical side, the  insecure, self deprecated side which has been nurtured by those around him his the gasoline and Christine is the spark that begins Arnie’s transformation into adulthood, and into a man those around him hardly recognize. A cold, uncaring, mean spirited loner who murders those he, and Christine, perceive as a threat.  Christine is most assuredly a form of evil on wheels, but she unlocks something that already existed in Arnie. A teenager who was a really good guy, but always taken advantage of, picked on and made to feel inferior.  At one point int he story Arnie says a chilling line to Dennis while visiting him at the hospital;  ” Has it ever occurred to you that part of being a parent is trying to kill your kids?”  It’s a perfect,  if dramatic summation of the child vs. parent in a strict, repressive household. Where individuality is squelched rather than cultivated and the goals and standards of the parent are enforced rather than ever taking into account what their child wants or is passionate about.  So is the world of adults, and once Arnie crosses that threshold, there’s no turning back. He can bully just like those who bullied him and he can attack with the same amount of verbal venom as his overbearing mother.  His parents took for granted the sweet, subservient son they had and now he’s gone forever.

Sorry to go off on a tangent there, if you’ve read my reviews before, I’m sure you used to it. Christine isn’t all teenage horror melodrama, the film actually boasts a wicked, intelligent sense of humor that helps keep the energy level up and the proceedings a pleasure to watch. One of my favorite aspects of the film is Christine’s ability to play the most appropriate oldies possible in any given situation . someone tries breaking into her? “Keep A-Knockin’, but you can’t come in!” Little Richard begins wailing.  Someone tries to destroy Christine? “Rock and Roll is Here to Stay” by Danny and The Juniors starts blasting from the stereo system. It’s a clever and cool way to give Christine her own unique voice.

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Also, Christine features one of John Carpenter’s great, sparse synth scores and it’s used to great effect. The theme begins with a wind blowing, giving way to a high pitched whistle where one is immediately filled with a feeling of dread, growing anticipation and given the impression that there’s something truly sinister at work here. This whistling slowly gives way to a sweeter, more charming melody, but it’s played in dwindling, soft, somber tones. It’s the sound of childhood innocence dying away, a void opening up, where an adolescent is susceptible and easily corrupted. It’s a slow, yet blazingly brilliant score that’s both sad and frightening and fits Carpenter’s vision of Christine perfectly.

My biggest disappointment with Carpenter’s Christine is that Arnie’s parents vanish in the final third of the film.  After playing such a pivotal part in the majority of the film it’s a real disappointment that we never get to see them grieve or react to what happens to Arnie in the climax. It’s a real let down that these characters are built up through the film only to be completely removed in the final act and given no pay-off, no closure. Also, the death of Buddy Reperton seems a little anticlimactic. That guy got off easy, if you ask me.

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I know Christine was never really embraced by either John Carpenter or Stephen King fans,  but I’ve always felt this is one of the better King adaptations and among Carpenter’s most underrated films.  The visual of Christine barreling down the highway engulfed in flames is the stuff of nightmares, but the moments where Arnie is confronted by the onslaught of human cruelty is a deeply troubling depiction of the nightmare of reality. It’s a beautifully shot film with a flawless score, some astoundingly cool practical effects and a cast that all deliver performances above and beyond the call of duty. However,  Christine belongs to Keith Gordon. His performance at Arnie Cunningham is excellent and witnessing the character’s transformation is haunting and heart breaking.  Christine, the drop dead gorgeous, cherry red, Plymouth Fury is certainly the eye candy of the piece, but it’s all the human talent in front of and behind the camera that really make hitching a ride with Christine a trip though teenage Hell worth taking.

I give this sucker Four and a Half out of Five Dumpster Nuggets

Stay Trashy!

-Root




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