Posts Tagged ‘sacrifice

17
Feb
20

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

Arena poster

 

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

a Primal Root written review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I award The Arena  FOUR out of FIVE DUMPSTER NUGGETS.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

21
Jan
20

(SFW) Spookies (1986) or Billy Learned The Truth at age 13

 

spookies poster

“Uuuuuuhh, look at me: I’m Duke, the horny ghost!” – Duke, Spookies (1986)

a Primal Root written review

As an only child of the 80’s my mind is littered with memories of weekends spent at local video stores in the town where I grew up, Tallahassee, Florida. Nothing beat the thrill of an early Friday evening after school, ordering up a cheesy, greasy, sloppy pizza and heading to the video store to peruse the shelves for a new VHS adventure to waste my weekend with either with a fried over or totally on my own.  I would head past the New Release section and head straight to the Horror shelf where the most lurid, colorful and creative covers were. I would pick up every single box, gaze at the covers and their suggestive artwork and just let my imagination run wild simultaneously psyching myself up for what I might choose to take home with me that weekend. In the halcyon days of the video rental store era, when there was money to be made and stores were a dime a dozen and each store had THOUSANDS of titles to choose from, the cover art of a movie could make or break a tape. Just like the posters for Drive-In films of the past, you had to reel your audience in with artwork that promised something truly astounding.

One such VHS cover that branded itself on my brain and was always around at every damn video store I’ve ever been to, the 1986 nightmare fever dream…SPOOKIES.

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Direct your eyes to the poster heading this review created by comic artist Richard Corben. Imagine your tiny eight year old hand clutching the tape that contained the movie THAT artwork was based on? The lovely woman with huge breasts straining to pop out of her white dress as she is surrounded by a variety of creepy, weird creatures that seem to have no real connection to one another. There’s a grim reaper looking guy, a little goblin creature, someone with light popping out of her head and other undefinable atrocious monstrosities that leave your young mind spinning at the possibilities! And then there’s the bizarre face looking over this scene, with glowing red eyes and mouth that looks like it might be full of blood and what looks to be a bloody would to the middle of his forehead. What the Hell are Spookies and what in the world could it ever possibly be about. All I knew was that if the case contained Blood, Breasts and Beasts, it was going home with me, because that was the promise of an unforgettable late night and a fantastic story for the kids at school Monday morning. “Guess what I watched this weekend?”

Full disclosure, Spookies freaked me the fuck out when I was a kid and I think it’s due almost entirely to the face that it’s two movies in one. It began life as a film entitled Twisted Souls written and directed by Brendan Faulkner and Thomas Doran. However, during post-production, creative differences flared up between the filmmakers and their producers, and ANOTHER director, Eugenie Joseph, was hired on to film additional scenes with new actors which would change the film into something else entirely. He added several different subplots and excised over 45 minutes of the original film to create what we now know as SPOOKIES. And, to be perfectly honest, it gives the film a kind of unhinged nightmare logic quality that three me off entirely as a child. It did not follow the rules established by countless other horror films I had seen, so you just never knew what was going to happen, and to me, that is certainly a strength.

The film begins with a little kid named Billy (Alec Nemser) running away from home through the forest. His parents forgot his birthday, so he’s ditching them for the life of a homeless teenage idiot. He, of course, ends up getting stalked by a werecat guy in a golden vest who moves his face around as much as possible to make the latex creature stuff attached to his face seem like his actual face, but it instead just makes him look like a spaz. Billy meets a creepy drifter guy who instantly reminded me of Kiefer Sutherland from Lost Boys, who mocks Billy for being a stupid teenage runaway with nice shoes, clean clothes and an optimistic outlook on life. You think this drifter character is going to come in handy later as either a hero or villain, but as soon as Billy wonders off deeper into the woods, the drifter’s face is shredded into coleslaw by the ever present werecat. Billy ends up in an old, seemingly abandoned mansion and finds a room all decked out for his birthday…but there’s no one there. Not only that, but the balloons don’t have helium and are ties to the ceiling, there’s a moaning baby doll in a chair and teleporting toy robots and being the idealistic idiot that he is, Billy thinks this is a surprise birthday party his parents planned…even though there’s no one there and it’s creepy as shit. So, Billy opens a large present he thinks might be a bowling ball, only to find the severed head of the sorcerer sitting there waiting to wish him a happy birthday. Kind gesture? Sure. But it understandably terrifies Billy who runs off in the wilderness where is is pursued, once again,by the cat man who eventually corners Billy, slashes his face to ribbons, tosses the little boy into an open grave and buries the struggling boy alive, killing him.

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This scene fucked me up as a kid who loved playing in the woods at night living in the heavily wooded suburbs. I could easily put myself in his shoes and wanting to expect the best from my situation only to find myself missing most of my face and being suffocated to death on mouthfuls of heaping shovel scoops of dirt. See what I mean about the nightmare logic of SPOOKIES? It makes about as much sense as your standard childhood nightmare, only you’d wake up as soon as that first fling of dirt hit you in your bloody, stupid, face. In any other film, that kid would have ended up becoming the sidekick of some adult character who showed up. or would end up being the star, booby trapping monster and shit. No. Not in Spookies. In Spookies the 13 year old child dies along and afraid. His parents obviously don;t care about him or love him and he is now gone forever. Dead and buried in an unmarked grave by a catman, never to be mentioned, thought of or cared about for the remainder of the film. Now children, what do you think THAT felt like? It’s cruel, and awesome to 37 year old The Primal Root, but when I was just a Jim Henson’s Trash Cinema Baby, that whole sequence fucked me up real good and proper to the point I lost sleep over it and would get REAL nervous in the woods I used to play in without hesitation. Anyway, enough about me. Lets get back to SPOOKIES!

Spookies Gang

We are soon introduced to our cast of victims who are driving around looking for a party out in the middle of nowhere, where do they end up? Of course, the old haunted mansion where Billy came upon the most surprising surprise party of his short life.  The mansion is inhabited by The Sorcerer whose name is Kreon (Felix Ward) and is on the verge of bringing his beautiful dead wife, Isabelle (Maria Pechukas) back to life once the final victims are sacrificed, namely, this new group of “teenagers” and adults looking to party. There’s the three piece suit wearing elder statesman of the group, Peter (Peter Dain), who is constantly butting heads with the “teenage” tough guy, horndog, and bizarrely placed zipper enthusiast, Duke (Nick Gionta) who also happens to take them to this haunted death trap mansion in the middle of nowhere. Along for this trip to Hell is Linda (Joan Ellen Delaney) Duke’s poor girlfriend, the ginger in the tiny periwinkle blue top with the massive tits she never pops out of the chute for us, Meegan (Kim Merrill) who is attached to Peter and I assume is his wife. There’s another couple, Dave and Adrienne (Anthony Valbiro & Charlotte Alexandra) who suffer from Rich being highly insecure and freaking out all the time over Adrienne controlling everything he does even though all she does is watch him freak out. There’s the obligatory joker/idiot Rich Peter Iasillo Jr) who spends the movie tripping over thing, dropping things, making poor jokes and even poorer decisions. My favorite character, Louis, who as I recall has two lines before being sucked down into own grave and dying before the action even really gets started and is never mentioned or again, let alone, mourned.  Also, odd lady out, Carol (Lisa Friede) Who starts not feeling well at the mansion, gets possessed by Kreon and uses a special Ouija board to unleash a bouquet of highly creative and vicious practical effect monsters to track them down and kill them one by one.

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The Gang knows their lives are in mortal danger and decide to split up to find a way out of this death trap. Some search around while others find secluded rooms to stay fully dressed and fall asleep in before being savagely gnawed upon by Hell beasts. Spookies quickly becomes a cornucopia of freakish blood thirsty hellions dead set on killing off every last cracker in the house. There’s a legion of little reptilian snake demons, a seductive, blood draining Arachnid Woman, a giant lizard man that shoot out head melting electric tentacles, a scythe wielding Grim Reaper and even a trio of chronically flatulent Much Men who rise from the floor of the win cellar and fart like Grandpa after Christmas dinner, you know, fast, furious, loud and with a vengeance.  Not only this, but there’s a legion of zombies surrounding the mansion, making escape impossible.

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People get lost, massacred, tempers flare, fights break as these characters fight for survival in this colorful, bonkers house of blood lusting horrors and it’s just as much fun as it is absolutely baffling. Add in that tacked on subplot about Kreon and and all his various creatures including CatMan and the Jawaesque Korda (A.J. Lowenthal) Son of Kreon and Isabelle, and Isabelle herself, who NEVER interact with the characters from the original film, Twisted Souls, at all despite being shot in the same location and always appearing nearby. It’s actually fun watching how they edit around two totally different stories being told but having to be meant to interact with one another. Towards the end of the film, the plot is left hanging when it comes to our group of party animals that must all be killed in order to give Isabelle life. Some supernatural event occurs where they all begin to age rapidly, an item is thrown, lightning enters a character’s eyes and that’s the last we see of them. Are they dead? Wounded? Senior Citizens? Monsters? What the Hell happened? Instead of us ever finding out, we are treated to an extended zombie chase scene where Isabelle’s clothes get torn off (though she never shows off the goods) as she tries to escape the clutches of the ghoul who resurrected her, the evil warlock Kreon, after she has seduced him and driven a knife deep into his forehead. Will we get any form of closure or will Spookies leave us wondering what happens next? Because if there’s one thing we know…ambiguity is scary.

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Spookies, man, what a fucking ride. It’s a film that feels like a sugar rush nightmare fueled fever dream filled with wild ideas that head down colorful hallways before being utterly forgotten and left for new ideas down even more colorful hallways. It’s like a horror film with A.D.D. and darkly sadistic sense of humor. Where Don Coscarelli’s Phantasm has a similar fantasy/unreality feel to it, Spookies, to it’s detriment or gain, depending on how you like the movie, due to the production issues and different hired hands and stories being mixed together, proves a much weirder concoction. Is the movie good? Absolutely not, it’s total Trash Cinema. But is it entertaining? Gang, Spookies never lets up. It’s balls to the walls ideas, throw it against the walls to see what sticks creativity mayhem. It;s colorful, it’s sloppy and it SHOULD. NOT. WORK. Seriously, this should have been a failure of the highest order. But it is so goddamn unabashedly manic and willing to do anything and go anywhere, you can’t help but join in the glee and stick with it to see just what insane shit will happen next. To me, that’s a Trash Cinema win of the highest order.

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Spookies is a VHS Video Rental store gem that’s well worth tracking down. If you, or someone you know, is even just mildly curious in cult Trash Cinema, Spookies is a great place to start. It’s a deranged and absolute delight. Unless you’re an overly sensitive and imaginative child living in the woods. Then it’s just good, old fashioned nightmare fodder.

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

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

 

 

 

20
Oct
13

The Lords of Salem (2012) a Rebecca Keel review

Lords of Salem

a Rebecca Keel review

Rob Zombie has long demonstrated himself to be among the elite talent of contemporary writer-directors,  and even with such a high bar to clear,  he has succeeded in shocking and impressing me with his recent,  wrenching film The Lords of Salem.  Superficially,  the work stands as a brilliantly innovative horror story about the legacy of colonial witchcraft in modern-day Salem,  Massachusetts,  but with even a prick to the skin of the tale,  the viewer is sucked into a powerful and disturbing allegory for the effect of mental illness on a person’s life.  Poignantly precise and fearlessly thorough,  The Lords of Salem captivates with its insight and its remorseless horror.

The story lays out the events of seven days in the life of Heidi Laroc (stunningly portrayed by Shari Moon Zombie),  a radio DJ in Salem,  after she receives a mysterious vinyl record from “The Lords of Salem”.  The music on the record triggers visions of a coven of notorious witches from the colonial days of Salem.  Unable to resist the fate she inherited from her ancestors,  Heidi’s life begins to spiral into destruction.

A masterfully constructed allegory can be likened to a jigsaw puzzle with an image on both sides of the pieces.  Constructing the puzzle facing one way yields a comprehensible design,  while locking the pieces with their opposite sides up reveals another;  yet the puzzle itself maintains the same shape,  regardless of the image visible.  Each piece has a role to play in the final design,  and this role is the same,  regardless of which image is constructed.  Likewise,  the allegory is made up of diverse pieces,  each of which has a role.  If you lift a single piece and turn it over,  you can see its role in the image on the opposite side,  even though it must lock into its neighboring pieces the same way,  regardless of which meaning is viewed.

A quote from the character Francis Matthias,  a local witchcraft historian,  binds the surface tale of witchcraft to its deeper representation of the destruction of a life due to the inexorable force of mental illness.  He states to Heidi,  “Witchcraft is nothing but a psychotic belief brought on by a delusional state of mind.”  This clear declaration identifies the primary allegorical device in the film:  witchcraft is psychosis.  From this melding of two ideas into a single metaphorical puzzle piece,  the rest of the allegory can be teased from the dense imagery of the visually-stunning film.

It is beyond the scope of this short review to analyze the imagery,  symbolism,  and structure of The Lords of Salem.  However,  certain points bear mention,  as they may affect the way the film is received by its audience.

The overt,  perhaps even garish,  Christian and occult images which permeate The Lords of Salem may distract some viewers from the underlying meaning of the film,  or,  perhaps,  suggest a rebellious philosophical bent which is meaningless to the film’s interpretation.  Christianity plays a twofold role in the allegory.  As the epitome of mainstream normalcy,  it provides a backdrop against which the perverse (on the one hand,  worship of Satan,  and on the other,  debilitating mental instability) can be contrasted.  Christianity further fills the role of the flamboyant,  but useless,  “solution” to the conflict at hand (witchcraft or mental illness).  The latter role is also tied to the character of Francis Matthias,  who bears the names of two important Catholic saints and whose efforts to rescue Heidi from her impending demise are fated to fail from the outset.

Sexual imagery,  particularly in the context of the perversion of Christian symbolism,   can also come across as heavy-handed,  but it,  too,  plays a valuable role in the interpretation of the film.  Explicitly sexual imagery rarely represents sex itself in a symbolic structure.  Over the course of the film,  the character of Heidi is conspicuously asexual,  while the witches are overpoweringly sexual.  This prepares the character of Heidi to be the virgin mother of “the devil’s child”,  as foretold by the witch Margaret Morgan.  Regardless of the character flaws borne by Heidi,  she is,  in fact,  a blameless victim of exogenous—albeit internal to her genetic code and her mind—forces.  This use of contrast between sexuality and asexuality is highly appropriate,  given the wider cultural context of the society into which the film was released.  Specifically,  sexuality is frequently depicted as a negative trait in Western religious culture,  and has long been associated with black magic and devil worship.  This makes it an effective symbolic infrastructure for deflecting blame from the persecuted main character of The Lords of Salem.

The film presents a plot which relies on supernatural events,  such as witchcraft and inescapable fate,  and these elements may irk some fans of Rob Zombie’s horror films,  which typically rely on the capacity for evil within human beings for their conflicts.  However,  all of the supernatural aspects present in The Lords of Salem are pieces of the allegorical puzzle meticulously constructed over the course of the film.  When a viewer sees these elements as fantastic or unbelievable,  they are granted a greater understanding of Heidi’s state of mind.  She has inherited a curse from her forefathers which has doomed her to eventual destruction.  In the literal story,  the curse is the result of evil witchcraft;  in the allegorical story,  it is a predisposition to psychotic mental illness.  Both engender a sense of helplessness and hopelessness;  however,  the use of a literal curse makes this emotional response more accessible to viewers unfamiliar with the experience of heritable mental illness.

I have little of which to complain about The Lords of Salem.  The soundtrack did,  at times,  stray into the realm of clichéd horror tropes,  such as a sudden,  loud bass chord at the appearance of an unexpected apparition,  and in these few instances,  I found myself sighing deeply in resignation.  Other aspects which might garner my criticism in other films,  however,  such as loose ends to supporting characters’ stories,  busy imagery during the film’s climactic scene,  and atypical pacing decisions for the plot,  support the sense of bewilderment and confusion experienced by the character of Heidi,  and add to,  rather than detract from,  the message and value of the film.  I went into my first encounter with The Lords of Salem anticipating a dark and entertaining film.  I was stunned to experience a deeply insightful,  unflinching,  and tragically personal depiction of a life shredded by mental illness.  It isn’t an easy film to watch,  but it’s one which no one should overlook.

04
Oct
13

Amityville II: The Possession (1982) or Touched By a Creeper

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a Primal Root written review

“Dishonor thy Father. PIGS!” -Demon, “Amityville II: The Possession”

In the annals of horror there are few settings that originate terror more depraved or unsettling than that generated at home, within the family. “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me” “The Shining”, “Night of the Living Dead”, “The People Under the Stairs” and countless others have proven to us that our home isn’t always the utopian safe havens they are meant to be.  Behind the closed doors of Home Sweet Home, behind the guise of perfect, happy families,  can often times be a hiding abuse, repression, shame and torment.  Behind these doors can hide the most vile and heinous horrors of all.

 

"For God's Sake, Move in!"

“For God’s Sake, Move in!”

“Amityville II: The Possession” does an excellent job of establishing an eerie atmosphere from the outset as our family, The Montelli’s, comprised of Mom, Pop, two teenagers (a boy and a girl) and two little kids (again, a boy and a girl), and their movers drive up to the house at 112 Ocean avenue one by one on to begin a new life at their incredibly affordable and haunted as fuck homestead. Instantly upon arrival folks can feel the eyes of the house upon them, get chills, upset stomachs, notice the windows have been nailed shut, the hidden basement room is filled with dookie, and…oh yeah,  a sink that sprays blood from the faucet for about fifteen seconds before gradually turning into tap water. Thankfully, Mom is in denial, not only over the apparent evil that dwells in the house from the the basement secret room where evil resides and piles of shit ferment, to the top floor where her first born son Sonny now resides, but she also likes to think her family isn’t on the verge of some horrible violent tragedy.  Let me tell you, from the get-go, it seems like the Amityville demons are the least of this families’ problems.

Now, I am an only child who was born into a house that championed passive aggressive behavior over the the punch you in the throat and topple you over the third floor bannister to the hard wood floor at ground level because you didn’t say “Yes, sir!” level of abuse that’s on display in “Amityville II: The Possession”, so this level of hardcore abusive insanity is pretty goddamn upsetting to a guy like me.  And it’s Fight Club just about every five minutes with this family, and the Amityville spirits do nothing to help the situation.

A mirror in the dining room tumbles over with a clatter and suddenly Dad (Burt Young) is screaming, oldest daughter Patricia (Diane Franklin) is screaming and grabbing at Dad to restrain him from punching oldest son Sonny (Jack Magner) in the face. Thankfully, Mom (Rutanya Alda) screams like a goddamn banshee and gets everyone settled down so they can go ahead with their first dinner in the new house without any black eyes or broken noses. Yeah, this is a family in crises. Don’t believe me? Later that night Sonny ends up pressing a double barrel shotgun up against his Dad’s wattle in order to stop him from beating on Mom and the two youngest children…I know a lot of critics think this stuff is over the top, but I have this suspicion, whether they want to believe it or not, that this kind of family dynamic does exist and it’s far more common than we like to think.

A typical Saturday night with the Montelli's!

A typical Saturday night with the Montelli’s!

But this regularly scheduled smack-down of brutality isn’t all the awkwardness present in the Montelli household. Some of the creepiest moments of the whole film involve Sonny and Patricia, the two oldest siblings, who spend a lot of time alone together in one another’s rooms and share a borderline incestuous relationship as they flirt with one another.  These two don’t act much like brother and sister when they’re around each other, and this adolescent urge Sonny has for his own sister seems to be the weakness that allows the spirits that reside in his home to possess him.

In a lengthy, uneasy sequence taking place while Sonny is left alone in the Amityville home (his family is off to church so Pops can apologize to the priest who came to bless the house before Dad started beating the snot out of the kids in front of him) the spirits, represented by a camera POV shot, float around Sonny and follow him back to his bedroom where they throw him onto the bed, open up his shirt and repeatedly thrust themselves into his stomach. Sense something sexual in this possession procedure?  In Trash Cinema, typically  women are gender of choice for possession, seeing as they have an open entry way for evil spirits. However, to posses a gent, I guess that’s a bit of a filthier undertaking.   Either way, it’s a violation, and it never looks like much fun. No one enjoys having their soul raped.

Pretty sure i give this same smile to every woman I hit on. Which would explain a lot...

Pretty sure i give this same smile to every woman I hit on. Which would explain a lot…

Immediately after the possession takes place, Sonny heads directly to his sisters room and gets his creep on. He tells her she might be the most beautiful girl he’s ever seen, asks her to take her nightgown off and pose like a pinup model. Ooooooh, it’s grueling to watch and neve r fails to get me squirming on the couch. And that even before Sonny whips out a pair of Patricia’s panties and confesses to sniffing on ’em while he churns his baby butter. He then has his way with her, raping her, and the trauma of both his sister Patricia and the audience is done. It’s sleazy and upsetting and done very well. Nothing is explicitly shown, but holy shit, if I have a real hard time watching this sequence. I cannot help but imagine how strange and upsetting this scene must have been to shoot. Or what the cast party was like when the flick was wrapped… *shudders*

Quality Brother and Sister time. Amiyville style. As you know, Amity means incest, er, friendship...

Quality Brother and Sister time. Amiyville style. As you know, Amity means incest, er, friendship…

Patricia tries to confess to their priest, Father Adamsky (James Olson) about her brother’s sudden habit of incestual molestation her by doing one of those “What if there’s someone you love a whole lot, and you do it with them, but their penis is a lot like your brother’s” sort of confessions before Adamsky gets a bit too nosy and sends her running back to the Amityville rape house. At Sonny’s Birthday party he embraces his sister a bit too long and suddenly everything comes together for dear, old, Mom. the fact that Sonny grabs Patricia’s lovely ass cheeks probably didn’t help a whole lot, either.  Momma confronts Patricia in the Amityville Stairwell  by bellowing “WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?!? WHAT DID YOU DO TO SONNY?!?” because, obviously, it’s Patricia’s fault for Sonny having raped her. *rolls eyes* Mom’s kind of an idiot.

The worst cinematic priest ever mourns the blood ejaculated by the cyborg cock of Jesus.

The worst cinematic priest ever mourns the blood ejaculated by the cyborg cock of Jesus.

But, before any of this can be sorted out or dealt with Sonny and his demons get the final word in the movie’s most harrowing sequence. Patricia wakes up to the sound of thunder as it storms mightily outside her bedroom window. She overhears the sound of her parents arguing (surprise, surprise!) and listens in from the darkness of the hallway. As her eyes adjust to the darkness she soon  notices Sonny loading a rifle and looking like like a bowl of rotten oatmeal. Sonny enters their parent’s room and blows them both away. His three siblings are helpless as Sonny has bolted the doors leading outside shut, destroyed the phones and the power has gone out. The feeling of being trapped, hunted and the inevitableness of their doom hits the audience like a brick in the junk. There is no escape and there is no mercy shown. Sonny steadily, methodically, stalks down each of his siblings and kills them.  The sequence plays like a nightmare you’re unable to wake from. Watching Sonny go slowly from room to room and kill off his entire family is shocking and horrifying unlike anything else in this franchise of films. It is a moment of brutal violence and manages to generate genuine dread and fear.

"I don't know, I'm just... happy!"

“I AM the NRA.”

The rest of “Amityville II: The Possession” plays out with Father Adamsky feeling incredibly guilty over the massacre of the Montelli family, seeing as Patricia warned him of an oncoming tragedy and Adamsky decided to go camping with his boyfriend instead of intervening. He shows up at the crime scene, checks out all the still warm cadavers and then goes on a quest to exorcise the last member of the Montelli family standing, Sonny, who is sent to prison. Adamsky, with the help of an idiot police chief, breaks Sonny out of jail and takes him BACK TO THE AMITYVILLE HOUSE! Where, of course, the demon infested Sonny is now more powerful than ever, begins flying around his room like superman, and tearing his face apart in K-Y slathered, meaty chunks,  while Father Adamsky cries out “LET IT BE ME, LORD ALMIGHTY! LET IT TAKE ME!”  Amityville Demon says “Sure.” drops creeper extrodanaire, Sonny and tucks into Father Adamsky.

"HELLO CHRIST!"

“Christ, you’re HILARIOUS!!”

Our fake Happy Ending leaves us with Sonny being picked up by the cops and Father Adamsky still trapped inside the house murmuring Bible verses and sweating profusely in a darkened corner of Sonny’s old room. Sonny, who is STILL the person who killed off his family, let’s face it “I was possessed by a demon!” never stands up in a court of law, should brace himself to ride the lightening.  It’s a downbeat ending for a fucking horrifyingly downbeat haunted house story. Really, not since “Burnt Offerings” has a haunted house flick been so fucking bleak! But, then again, the real crime that took place all those many decades ago in 112 Ocean Avenue is no afternoon picnic to read about either.

“Amityville II: The Possession” strikes me as a meditation on abuse and denial. Dolores Montelli, the families matriarch, consistently ignores or dismisses the blazingly obvious issues in her family and her home whenever they arise. Rather than confront these issues head on, she instead takes a passive role and turns to God and The Church to solve her problems for her, Blood coming from the sink, table clothes mysteriously covering up crucifixes, and even blood spewing from Father Adamsky’s aspergillium (not as dirty as it sounds) in the parent’s bedroom during the house blessing ceremony cannot help but be interpreted as symbolizing the Family being damned due to their internal strife and neglecting to confront them. Hell, even the two youngest children can be seen “horse playing”  in several scenes by mimicking stabbing one another at the dinner table over a minor dispute as to where the fork should go in the place setting, and in one scene the youngest daughter puts a plastic bag over her little brother’s head and triumphantly cries out “YOU’RE DEAD!” before sparing him a death by suffocation by removing the bag and declaring “I love you.” Their parents have taught them well. Think about it, won’t you?

FUN!

FUN!

The Montelli family was doomed from the beginning. They refused to save themselves, law enforcement is apparently none existent, that is, until someone is needed to come pick up the corpses, and Father Adamsky turned a blind eye to the OBVIOUS horrific abuse taking place within the home until it was too late, insinuating  one’s faith in God is ineffectual in stopping abuse.  The abusive and repressed Montelli family never seek help, not matter how bad the situation gets. The pattern of abuse seems normal to them, like they are used to waving guns in one another’s faces and slapping each other to the ground on a nightly basis.  Only once, when Patricia goes to Father Adamsky, does anyone in the family ever venture out for help. But it is far too late. It seems as if there was a countdown from the beginning, and that the demons within the walls of their home merely sped up the process.

The Demons living within this family are far more horrifying than any conjured up from the depths of Hell. For me, this might be the most terrifying implication of all.

Four out of Five Dumpster Nuggets.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

05
Nov
12

Uncle Grumpyfuk Remembers ‘Blood Feast’ (1963)

Unkce Grumpyfuk Remembers…

..Ugh..BUURRRPPP! …oh mighty Crom whisk away my poor hungover soul to thy grim grey mountain abode or let me find that damn pill bottle full of cricket legs! Urp,whew, yer ol’ pal Uncle Grumpyfuk comin’ atcha with some serious peach-fuzz on the brain this ..afternoon, shit. Me and a couple of buddies ..rather, a couple of buddies and I, ahem, had some unusually good fortune last night ..and earlier this morning, wait, what time is it? Uh, nevermind..time is…(eyes cross)..uh, give me a few minutes folks. I know you’ve been there. Buuurrp!

  I and my buddy Tangletoe and a fucking crazyass Irish ginger buddy of his…I’ll remember his name in a minute, were sitting in Tangle’s old truck hammering ‘fuckuppers’- Old Ezra Sour Mash Whiskey, Mountain Dew and 14 Sugar Pops -yep the cereal, crushed and stirred in, and a dash of tobasco. Talk about a drink that’ll put fire in your belly and get you going like a handfull of speed! We were listening to the radio and lo and behold, that the local boring shitty rock station was having a ‘beach party’ down at Lake Fornication today at noon so we figured fuck it, let’s pop some more Valium, head down there early and start the party ..13 hours ahead of time! Yee-haw!
  We found our way to the landing around midnight and what did our eyes behold but a party tent already set up under which lay 10 kegs of cold beer and 12 bushels of raw oysters, on ice, and a wasted hippy couple standing around a nice bonfire drinking beer and eating oysters,motioning for us to join the party, aaaand we did..post haste! Ugh, buurp. It was surreal, the radio station had obviously set everything up the night before so they wouldn’t have to in the morning and the braindead dj’s didn’t have the sense to leave someone to guard it! Deerrp! ..and to think those people can drive..and vote! Scary.
  Anyway the hippies left after about an hour or so, so the three of us stood there in front of a roaring fire,drinking and chowing down, having truly found our personal Shangri-la. A little while later,no idea how long, heh, we hear a distant mechanical growl and soon around 8-10 bikers and their old ladies roared up. We encouraged them to join us drinking free beer and eating free oysters,they finally caved after about .12 seconds and the ‘beach party’ was awn! So we sat there for several hours drinking and eating and trading stories of getting busted and wasted, of smashing rival gang members’ heads in with bricks and collecting comic books. At one point one of them saw me drooling at his skanky old lady’s tits so he let me screw her from behind for my 12.00 pocket knife. Let me tell you, whoever says that bikers aren’t good people has never gotten wasted with them and screwed one of their old ladies doggie-style! Hell, she even let Tangletoe and Sanchez,that’s it! Sanchez! …let Tangle and Sanchez have a go just because they were standing there watching! That’s a real woman for you, by cracky!
  Well I guess it was close to 6:00 AM when Tangle and I finally left. Sanchez stayed around for more and the bikers hadn’t slowed down a hair either! When we pulled out of there 2 kegs were empty and a third had been tapped, and almost 4 bushells of oysters had magically disappeared. It was amazing, in over 6 hours not one other person had come by, no cops, no one from the radio station, no other drunken partiers, no one. Shangri-la folks, seriously! After we got home I staggered down the street towards my duplex but felt those oysters wanting to see the light of day again, so, I lurched over to a hated neighbor’s Volvo and puked in the open window all over her upholstery. Ha-ha-ha! We wanted to listen to the radio station this morning to see if they mentioned going out and finding they’d missed their own party, but we totally passed out! Ha! ***
   Today my dear fiends, Uncle Grumpyfuk is proud, nay, honored and humbled to review a pivital film in trash cinema history. This is a film that horrified audiences and changed the art of film forever more..for the better! Fuckin’ay! I speak of one, some say the greatest of the Unholy Trilogy of the legendary Herschell Gordon Lewis, starring our favorite Playboy centerfold Connie Mason! Yes Mrs. Freemont it is exciting! Ha-ha-ha! …ah but I get ahead of myself. Yes my friends, I speak of the drive-in classic, the one and only, “Bloodfeast”! Yes, yes …(over 7 minutes of thunderous applause erupts, finally the din quiets a bit).. yes, thank you, I know, my genitals are covered with anticipatory sweat too. I shall strive to do my very best to honor the King of Gore and one of his masterpieces – I never have been able to decide whether I think this or 2000 Maniacs is better…AND Gruesome Twosome…I-I don’t know… I just love them all so much! (applause) Yes,we all do. Thank you, thank you.
  The film opens with a tense kettle drum beat and we see none other than Barbara Handler, daughter of the creator of the Barbie Doll, who named it after her! It’s her, I’m totally serious. I swear on your children’s’ future graves it’s her! ..Well ok it’s not her, but just look at’er! She’s the spit and image! You just want to pull her head off and give it to the family dog and pour lighter fluid on her body and set it ablaze! Damn!
  Anyway she turns on the radio as a report of ‘another murder’, that a girl was found ‘brutally mutilated’ and that all females should stay in after dark. The news ends and she strips her clothes off – tasty, and gets into a bubblebath. Now that is a great opening to any film, regardless of genre. She’s a scrub-dub-dubbin’ away, getting Miss Puss all nice and clean when she’s shocked to look up and see the psychotic eyes and dashing features of the protagonist of the film, one of your favorite actors, and mine; Mal Arnold! Yaaay! .. STAND AND APPLAUD you pisswipes!!! This man is the walking breathing definition of a cult star! ..well he’s no longer walking or breathing since he croaked but seriously you should applaud, I mean fuck. (more applause) Thank you,thank you.
  He stabs Barbara in the eye and begins hacking away with a carving knife and smiles proudly at his excellent knife-work, holding up a nice bloody giblet so we can see it real good- what a considerate gesture. He has a little more fun then chops off her leg for a keepsake perhaps? ..or possibly a future piece of folk art. Suddenly the screen is filled with the image of a cheap sphinx and pyramid replica,in front of a hotel in my own home state of Florida,where this film was shot! Yaaaay! ..and the credits roll. Thank you,thank you.
  Next we find ourselves down at the pigpen in the homicide bureau chief’s office. Inside he and one of his officers, Pete, played by another “2000 Maniacs” alumni, Connie’s companion Thomas Wood – the two of whom later became married in real life for many happy years; Tom you are the fucking man! – are engaging in some riveting dialogue concerning the murdered women’s’  mutilated states, concluding that a psychological killer just might be involved. Gee, ya think?
  Now we find ourselves outside Fuad Ramses Exotic Catering where our hero Mal, or Fuad runs a grocery/catering operation. In walks a ditzy rich blonde wearing a baby harp seal around her neck and a huge flowery hat any fat old black woman would be proud to wear to church’. She approaches the counter and begins to introduce herself as Mrs Freemont when her voice is cut off by Fuad’s intense,cobra-like gaze that leaves the air-headed bird mesmerized for a short spell, such is his irresistible charisma! At this point I have to mention Mal’s hair and eyebrows; they’re more thickly matted than a sloth’s fur, sans the vermin and disease, and although they appear to be grey, his hair and eyebrows blend in with everything in the background that’s blue. Tre chic Mal! How about it folks? (applause) Thank you, thank you.
  Mrs. Freemont explains that she wishes to throw a surprise party for her daughter, something different and unusual. “What do you consider to be unusual Mrs. Freemont?” inquires Fuad. She doesn’t know of course, stupid bitch, so he delivers the classic line “Have you ever had, an EGYPTIAN FEAST?” and we get a full-on shot of Mal’s dynamic peepers, whoa. She explains her daughter is into ancient Egyptian crap and that it sounded perfect. Fuad gets payment first, then hypnotizes her again, commanding her to give him a sloppy blowjob,then ejaculates on the back of her expensive coat, so that after she left everyone pointed at the gargantuan load dripping down her back like the fucking Blob’s albino offspring,with the dingy ditz blissfully unaware. Fuad you dog-you! Am I right folks? (applause) Thank you,thank you.
  As she leaves he slinks to the back of the store, through a back door to a room where he prays to an incredibly cheesy idol of his chosen goddess Ishtar, a department store mannequin, painted with cheap make-up and sporting the most dubious expression as if she just really isn’t sure about this guy and his goings-on.
  Outside Connie reads the headlines of the daily paper, “Legs Cut Off!” Heh, we’re way ahead of them aren’t we folks? The baffled cops are still pissed and clueless.
  After night-time has set in we see a couple of young lovers laying on the beach sucking face. She’s nervous but Tony really wants some snatcheroosky,so they begin rutting when she looks up and screams. Tony was confused; he hadn’t even mentioned trying anal yet! Wtf! Then he gets a split second glance of Fuad looming over him, machete raised and ready before Fuad smashed him good, then repeats with her. He cuts off the top of her skull for a really neat cereal bowl and takes her brains to boot! ..um, I don’t mean to boot as in kick it around in the dirt, I mean,you know, ‘in addition to’…just clarifying there. Anyway the camera shows some excellent shots of her ‘Jane Mansfield Look’ and concludes by showing some blood and bloody skull fragments in the sand, and about a foot-and a-half away is a boa constrictor being pulled out of camera range by an unseen hand. ..oookay.
  The cops arrive and revive Tony who blubbers and carries on like a foreign woman, totally unable to give them any pertinent information. The performance by the actor portraying Tony is bad on a magnificant scale, Bravo,bravo- actor who played Tony! ..what’s his name? Hell I don’t know, there’s the remote,you rewind it and look it up! Shit, lazy bastards.
  Back at the station the girl’s parents are carrying on like foreign women, at least the mother is, in a truly horrendous performance. All the cops learn is that she belonged to a book club.
  The screen goes red and we see Fuad’s hand placing some meat into a bloody pot and then he gives it a stir. Yummy! ..oooh Uncle Fuad when’s it gonna be ready? I’ze so hungry! Haw-haw-haw! What a knucklehead!
     Next we’re outside the hotel again,I mean apartment building just in time to see a sweet convertible pull up and out climb Abe Vigoda and Doris Day – it’s them I swear! 😉 – four sheets to the wind drunk. They manage to make it upstairs to her apartment door, she ‘gets a headache’, so he heads back down to the car and ends up falling asleep spanking his monkey. Two hours later the police arrive to find him, slimy cock still in hand, snoring away. Take it from yer Uncle, that is SO embarrassing!..though my paw thought it was hilarious. Hmph!
   Well while Abe is slappin’ the sloth who appears peeping around the corner? Yeppers, that devil-may-care kinda guy, our Fuad, up to his shenanegans. He knocks and Doris opens the door, thinking it’s Abe with more booze and one of the most shocking scenes in film history,up to that point anyway, takes place. Fuad reaches into Doris’ mouth and rips out her tongue and once again generously holds it up for our inspection. It’s every bit as awesome as it sounds. It’s said that when Cecil B. DeMille viewed that scene he puked his guts out; talk about a compliment! Damn! Actually it was a sheep’s tongue,but that’s irrelevant, and when Fuad held it up for those 60’s audiences to see they fucking freaked out! I know,you’re envious too, it must have been pure bliss.
  The next scene is priceless. Connie and her mom are at home talking in the living room, discussing the upcoming surprise party and it’s easy to see that Connie is reading all of her lines off of cue cards placed around the room. ” I just shudder when I think about that butcher… that maniac,butchering all of those girls!” That’s a keeper there boys! What a woman,whew, down boy.
  That evening Connie and the cop, we’ll call him Maxwell Notsosmart, attend a lecture on ancient Egypt,the orator’s subject being ancient cults, namely the cult of Ishtar; priestesses, virgins, sacrifices, orgies, dirty rabble – some bloody fun times back then but talk about hazing, geez! As he speaks we get a flashback from those ancient times, of an ancient high priest, who turns out to be our own Mal Arnold again,showing his versatility by playing multiple roles! Thank you,thank you. A female sacrifice lays prostrate on the altar, Mal the high priest offers the sacrifice to Ishtar and places the handle of a plastic knife on her chest! He then quickly pulls it away and attaches a plastic blade with red paint on it and cuts out the girls bloody heart! Barbaric! Oh, and the boa constrictor is back hanging around the scene …but that’s why they call them the good old days folks. Now you point a fucking bb gun at someone’s ass and the feds put the whole fucking nation on magenta alert and declare martial law!
 After the lecture Connie and Maxwell go a-parking. Yay-yuh! He leans back and relaxes while she goes to town on that pole, slobber flying everywhere,showing how she got that Playboy gig! 😉 Heff you suck so badly..you fucking boss!!! Suddenly a radio bulletin interupts the suckfest and announces that another mutilated chick was found somewhere,or something. Pressed for time Maxwell says ‘fuck it’, grabs two handfulls of that golden hair,wraps it around his throbbing manhood and jerks off on top of her head. They teach’em that in cop school. It’s ok, Connie was totally up for it.
  Back at the station Chief tells Maxwell that the girl is still alive though her face looks like she made out with a weed eater. They race to the hospital and after the doctor tells them not to get her excited,they punch her in the stomach and slap her a few times to wake her up and answer a few questions. She tells them it was a wild eyed, wild looking old man who said ‘it was for Eetar, Eetar!’, so they put out an APB for Christopher Lloyd. Then she croaks and it’s really,really funny. I mean it’s a film so of course it’s funny when someone dies,but when she exhales her last breath and falls down,so much dogfood, there’s a little ‘Womp!’ from a trombone,signalling that she’s gone. It’s downright hysterical!
 You know,one thinks sometimes what we’d do differently had we created the universe ourselves, like give sea turtles the ability to breathe fire, or shrink all of the assholes to 4″ in height,to be preyed upon by insects and frogs, give eternal life to the members of Motorhead,that type of thing. It really is an ingenius idea,having it so whenever someone dies, have a little fart-like trombone sound effect signify that life has passed from the mortal shell. ‘Womp.’ “Well,he’s gone..heh-heh-heh.” That would be so fucking funny!
  At the grocery store Fuad opens a letter; an order from Connie for his book, “Ancient Weird Religious Rights”, otherwise known at the AA Handbook, a copy of which each victim has owned. Hmm. He calls and realizes Connie is Mrs. Freemont’s daughter,for whom he’s preparing the banquet! It seems he thinks the feast and sacrifice will bring Ishtar back to life. You never know, Uncle Grumpyfuk says it’s worth a try! Things are just going too well for him and his sly demeanor as he hangs up the phone is truly Oscar worthy. Notice the hair blending in with the blue items behind it? So cool, isn’t it folks? Mal Arnold ladies and gentlemen. (applause) Thank you, thank you.
  Connie and her friends are over at her house enjoying her swimming pool and Connie, now get this, is reading a book! I shit you not. She looks down and reads a page then laughs and it’s like her skull is made of rice paper and we can see her very thoughts. “Words are funny! ..and when you put them together they mean things!” Yep, a real keeper- lucky-ass Maxwell! As she’s looking at the pictures we see the shadow of a menacing hand float over her  body,but when she looks she sees nothing. When we look we see Fuad, right over there, climbing slowly and clumsily over the wall then limping away slowly. He’s like,right there. A keeper folks.
  One of her friends decides to go shopping at Xmart to see if there are any larger dildos than her own available (there aren’t). Connie makes sure to warn her to about not getting her head bashed in by the killer-at-large,but she gets it mixed up and as she’s walking down the sidewalk, Fuad sneaks up behind her in broad daylight, and bashes her head in with a rock. Her reaction when hit is as hilarious as watching Mal try to pick her lard-ass up and carry her off to the crock-pot! That’s how you injure your back by the way folks, that is what henchmen are for,for goodness sake, to do the heavy lifting! Fuad is a ‘One Wolf’ kinda guy though so, no-go. His really fakey limp doesn’t help.
The cops can’t find Lloyd. Connie invites Maxwell to her mom’s feast of Ishtar, he secretly hopes for the six days of rapine and gluttony but knows better. Dern it.
  Fuad is adding more meat to the pot, wink, and gives Connie’s friend a good whipping with the ol’ cat’o nine tails until acheiving a disappointing orgasm. (applause) Thank you, thank you.
  Maxwell sits at his desk at the office, repeating “Eetar, Ishtar, Eetar, Ishtar…”, he thinks it would make a pretty cool song! After a few he and Chief get hungry so they head over to Fuad’s for some grub, arriving just after Fuad left with the ‘feast’. They go in and find Connie’s friend and it looks like the makeup guy sat there and dripped fake blood over every inch of her body,very cool. Realizing they’re too late,they smell the delicious aroma from Fuad’s cooking and head over to the Freemont residence,stomachs a-growling!
  Fuad has arrived already and with great flourish announces that the banquet is about to begin, and requests that Connie assist him in the kitchen. If all goes well Fuad thinks, he can perform the sacrifice and still get home in time for ‘F-Troop’ reruns! Connie can’t remember to do anything right so by the time Fuad finally gets her in position in comes mom just in time to prevent him from bringing to life the great goddess Ishtar! Damn it I wanted to see if that was going to work! Stupid bitch. The cops arrive, tell everyone that Fuad is the killer, that Connie’s friend was the main course and Mrs Freemont wisely sums it up; “Well I guess we’ll have to have hamburger for dinner!” – extra cheese on mine please!
  Fuad takes off with the cops hot on his tail, through the neighborhood, across the nearby landfill, I bet it smelled nice filming on that location! Fuad manages to reach a trash truck that’s just leaving and jumps in the back,only to be crushed to death by the merciless jaws of the trash compactor. It’s a tragic and sombre moment. Maxwell then explains to Chief in lengthy, unnecessary detail how he brilliantly realized that Eetar and Ishtar sounded similar! The Chief doesn’t look too bright though so perhaps it was necessary to draw it all out for him. The End. (thunderous applause erupts and continues for several minutes) Thank you, thank you.
  Well that wraps it up folks, a true classic that is now 50 years old, hard to believe, and it still holds it’s own – the sign of a true masterpiece. Uncle Grumpyfuk hopes you vermin have enjoyed this one,I endeavored to do Herschell Gordon Lewis’ masterpiece justice, I pray to Crom I have succeeded, so this is yer ol’ pal Uncle Grumpyfuk signin’ off until next time!

Connie Mason: You Read About Her in Playboy!

06
Jun
12

Cabin in the Woods: Roll with the Changes

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

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

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

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

Stay Trashy!

-Root

08
Apr
12

Castle Freak: Inherit Madness

a Primal Root review

Inheriting a castle in Italy has to be pretty dang cool. Finding out you’re descended from royalty? That’s the icing on top of the hoity-toity cake to which so many aspire. Yeah, it all seems great on paper until you take your horrendously dysfunctional family there to assess the situation and sell that hunk of junk off to the highest bidder.  It’s drafty, dull, dusty and, making matters worse,  your wife hates your guts no matter where you take her and the one surviving kid is still blind and your single digit son is still pavement pizza due to your dumb, alcoholic ass driving the family mini…vehicle over a small hill and flipping the vehicle at 25 MPH.  Or 85 MPH in sped up film time…

And then, of course, there’s a horrifying, psychotic, mutilated freak chained up in the castle’s basement. Buyer beware.

TOUCHDOWN!

Castle freak is, at it’s very core, the story of a family dealing with a heart crushingly tragic incident where the family patriarch and reformed alcoholic, John Riley (played pitch perfectly by Gordon collaborator Jeffery Combs) managed to get completely shit-faced before picking up his teenage daughter and 5 year old son during a torrential down pour and then swerving off road resulting in the death of the son and blinding daughter,  Rebecca (played by a very game and sympathetic Jessica Dollarhide).  Of course, there are some resentment issues between John and his gorgeous wife, Susan (always reliable Barbara Crampton) who apparently lives to torture and be spiteful towards John every second of every single day therefore turning his life into a Hell on Earth of guilt, regret, and shame.

As you can tell, the story is already pretty dreadful before there’s even a freak for the family to contend with.

The Reilly’s  move into their new castle after the old woman who was living there died in her bed from a heart attack after beating the chained up freak in the basement within and inch of it’s life which looked to have been a long standing supper time tradition and Casa de le Freak.  This poor creature has obviously never known affection, love or humanity living a life of agony chained up and naked down in the dank bowels of The Reilly castle. Much like John Reilly himself, who is living a life of pain due to his past mistakes and the fact his wife reminds him about it on a near minute by minute basis that he’s responsible for the death of their son.

Castle Freak is a far cry from the what we’ve come to expect from a Gordon, Combs, Crampton, collaboration. Typically fun,m over the top and colorful, Castle Freak is drastically different. Thee pacing takes it’s time, and the whole story is just gruelingly sad. This is not Re-Animator or From Beyond by a long shot. In fact, it’s a very dark and honest look at redemption, forgiveness and family as John must defend his family from what could be seen as his horrific doppelganger, his id or symbolizing the young Reilly boy whose memory they still cling to and is tearing the whole family apart.  There are no laughs to be found here and  no easy outs in Castle Freak.  This is straight ahead horror dealing with some pretty real issues. Only these real issues are set against the backdrop of an Italian castle with a freak looking to molest your cute little blind teenage daughter and frame you for the murder of a hooker and your housekeeper. For a freak, this guy is surprisingly crafty.

Castle Freak Foreplay: Not nearly as fun as you'd imagine.

One night, after Susan gives John a particularly vindictive verbal thrashing, John heads to a local watering hole where he quickly jumps off the wagon. And who can really blame the guy? He takes shot, after shot of some kind of counterfeit rot gut and ends up taking a whore back to his castle’s wine seller where he eagerly chows down on her bowl of “Down South” spaghetti.Again, you can totally understand his need to feel the touch and connection to another person.  Trouble is, he happens to be performing in front of a captive audience as the Castle Freak studies John’s moves like he’s preparing for the S.A.T.’s.  And you know castle freaks, they are more than happy to go after the sloppy seconds…

As our hooker goes to leave the castle, it’s resident freak abducts her, chains her up and has his way with her including a graphic nipple eating and a sickening reveal of the Freak’s genital region that’s sure to make your stomach churn. In fact, the film seems to focus quite liberally on the Freak’s disturbing genitals which, I suppose, does make some sense since that is kind of the Freak’s motivating factor. Looking for affection, someone to be close and have sex with.  Or, director Stuart Gordon could have simply just wanted to showcase a little something for the ladies. Soak it in, girls! Still, even though the Freak, in my estimation, is only looking for compassion, tenderness and a connection to another living creature, he can;t for the life of him understand how to give these things. Remember, this is a person whose entire life since birth has been spend locked away, abused and mutilated only ever understanding violence and pain.  How Freak goes about violently raping the hooker, yet mimicking what he witnessed John do to her, furthers this point. That violence begets violence.

Feel the Excitement!

But, I digress, at the threat of spoiling the whole sleazy, blood encrusted, drippy scrotum flopping affair, let’s just say Castle Freak is a one sad, violent, and effective story of redemption. The story of one man’s quest to find meaning and forgiveness in a world that refuses to see past his mistakes and misdeeds and see the man who is in need of compassion and just wants to feel human again. Now, am I talking about John or the Castle Freak of our title or both?

Stuart Gordon’s Castle Freak pulls off an impressive feat in capturing some very deep, dark, human situations and maintaining a fairly well paced and interesting story. As a viewer you grow to like most of the characters, and even the unlikable few are at the very least, you can understand where they’re coming from.  And for a film made in a creepy castle with a miniscule budget, Castle Freak works thanks to some spot on performances, creative shot compositions, great make-up/gore effects and also gains a lot of atmosphere from the genuine Italian castle where the action is set. Which just happens to be owned by the president of Full Moon Pictures.

Castle Freak isn’t exactly a fun, crowd pleasing movie experience but is still a fine piece of trash cinema. One that will certainly speak to anyone who has ever made a grievous mistake and feels they are destined to pay for it the rest of their lives.  Even if we can;t directly relate viewers will empathize and come to understand that there really are a number of fates that can feel worse than death. Only through love, forgiveness and understanding can we ever truly regain what makes us human.

And a good bit of reconstructive surgery and upper plate dental work in the case of The Castle Freak…

Love may be blind but she can still smell you, Freak.

Stay Trashy!

-Root




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