Posts Tagged ‘sacrifice

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

amityville_2_possession_poster_01

 

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

04
Mar
11

Drive Angry, That Old Drive-In Spirit

a Primal Root Written Review

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

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

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

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

Someone did not put the bunny back in the box.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay Trashy,

-The Primal Root




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