Posts Tagged ‘sad

10
Jan
16

Phantasm (1979): All that we see or seem…

phantasm-poster

a Primal Root written review

“First he took Mom and Dad, then he took Jody, now he’s after me.” – Mike, Phantasm

I never planned on writing a review for Phantasm. However, with today’s passing of the beloved horror icon, Angus Scrimm, who breathed life into one of my all time favorite cinematic boogeymen, I felt compelled to take a look back at not only of the most enduring and admired horror films, but one I hold very dear to my heart.

Let me start off by stating that there is no real way to create a summary of Phantasm that honestly does the film any justice. It’s the kind of film that takes place inside between the conscious world and that of the subconscious, the the realm of primal, deep, dark human emotions, and at that, from the perspective of a young boy in his early teens who has lost so much he’s having trouble coming to terms with it. Well, Hell, okay…at least let me TRY to tell you what the film’s about.

Young Michael (Michael Baldwin) is living with his older, adult brother Jody (Bill Thornbury) after the untimely death of their parents. Michael is already having trouble coping with the sudden lose of his parents, when he comes to the realization this Jody is considering leaving town and handing custody of Mike over to their Aunt and Uncle. The thought of not only losing his parents, but being a burden on his older brother, who is thinking of leaving him behind, is adding to Mike’s pain and turmoil. There’s a fantastic, heart breaking sequence where Jody rides his bike down the street as Mike chases after him on foot unbeknownst to his old brother. Mike can’t keep up and eventually, begrudgingly, gives up. It’s a pitch perfect moment that visualizes the dreaded feeling of abandonment and the inevitability of change.

To make matters worse, Mike witnesses some very strange goings-ons at the local Morningside Cemetery and Funeral Home. At the funeral of one of Jody and Mike’s friends, Tommy,  Mike witnesses a shadowy, sinister Tall Man (Angus Scrimm, Rest in Peace) lift up up Tommy’s corpse filled coffin all by his lonesome…and load it back into the hearse rather than lowering it into it’s grave.

phantasm

As young Mike investigates further he discovers there seems to be a sudden infestation of tiny, brown robbed creatures haunting the cemetery, a knife wielding blonde, big breasted seductress intent on poking every man she can lure into the cemetery to death and the mortuary is guarded by brain sucking, high velocity flying killer spheres. And who looks to be behind it all? The black suited Tall Man who has set his evil sights on Mike.

It takes quite a bit of convincing to get Jody to believe that what is happening over at Morningside is true. With the crazy stories Mike keeps spouting, who can blame the guy for chocking it up to a kid’s imagination? But when Mike comes home with a living, moving, nasty little momento from his last encounter with The Tall Man, Jody hops on board as does their ice cream selling buddy Reggie (Reggie Bannister). The three lay siege to Morningside cemetery int he hopes of uncovering The Tall Man’s true purpose in their small town and send him back to whatever Hell this monstrous being came from. However, as is the case in Phantasm, nothing is exactly as it seems…And the final revelation of Phantasm is devastating, beautiful and deeply disturbing.

**** SPOILERS AHEAD ****

Okay, I am going to discuss the film a bit and I recommend you see Phantasm first before reading further.

One of Phantasm‘s greatest strengths is it’s respect for a child’s perspective. To try and make sense of what is happening int he world around you. It plays almost like an episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark? that pulls no punches. There is something evil and sinister happening in their small town, and it is up to Mike to convince his older brother and for them to solve this horrible problem. There’s a great since of mystery and wonderment as well as mounting dread and tension, but it’s all handled with a real sentimentality and heart that is hard to find in most popular horror cinema of the 70’s era.

Now, before I start making this film sound like the ultimate bummer, Phtasm also has an excellent sense of adventure and fun on it’s surface. Jody, Mike and Reggie are a damn funny trio and their reactions to the ludicrous happenings around town and pricless. Darkly hysterical moments like Michael finding an enourmous flesh eating bug tangled in his hair, Jody asking Mike is the strange breathing sounds he heard was the “retard” up the street and, my personal favorite, when Mike is confronted inside the mortuary by The Tall Man who stands several passes down the hall from him, Mike, speechless utters in complete My-Goose-Is-Cooked fashion, “Oh, shit…” Phantasm is a damn good time about one darkly sobering mother fucking subject matter.

phant_2

Phantasm is a horror movie about the sad but honest fact that everyone we love will die. That those closest to us will have to eventually leave us one day and that no matter how hard we fight, or try to hold on, or battle against it, we will ALWAYS lose. I understand the notion that we carry these people with us forever in our hearts and memories, that they live on forever in the tales we tell of them and the ways that they’ve touched us. But we will never get to sit down and hold their hand, feel the comfort of their presence of enjoy a glass of whiskey with them ever again. They are gone. Gone. And so shall we be. And that’s something we all must face.

At the end of Phantasm Michael and Jody do battle with The Tall Man and end up trapping him in an abandoned mine shaft and dropping a dozen or so gigantic boulders on top of the sucker. Our last glimpse of Jody is from onto of a high hill from where he rolled the boulders on top of The Tall Man, sealing his fate. Mike sees his brother, bathed in light with his arms held high over his head in triumph. Mike and Jody have one. Then the film reverses on Mike and he awakes in his bedroom. He is comforted beside the living room fireplace by he and Jody’s good friend Reggie. Reggie explains that not only are Mike’s parents dead, but Jody is also dead, killed in a car accident.

phantasm-horror-review-sphere-13

This is a moment of true horror, a devastating moment that still breaks my heart just thinking about it. And this is where Phantasm succeeds so well, in making us care for the characters that are part of this tale. You can sense the brotherly love between Jody and Mike, their sense of camaraderie and their shared feelings of grief and confusion over the loss of their parents and the prospect of both their uncertain futures. To find out that Mike has lost the entirety of his immediate family, the people he has known and loved since birth, is a crushing blow.

Phantasm is a horror film that dwells in the dark, most assuredly, but it also has a great deal of heart and warmth to it, which as I stated above, is something of a hard commodity to come across in 1970’s era horror cinema. Just look at Tobe Hooper’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre, John Carpenter’s Halloween and Wes Craven’s Last House on the Left. It was a bloody horrifying decade for horror. Phantasm, too, explores the shadows of human nature. But, as odd as it might sound, Phantasm reminds us of what makes life worth living and that life is fleeting and serves as a reminder that we must cherish each moment of happiness we have. To show those we hold close that we love them, that we care and that we are here for them. Because one day, as we all know, they will be gone and we will never get that opportunity to hold them near and tell them we love them again.

phantasm7

Phantasm is a masterpiece, plain and simple. From it’s unique story penned and directed by a very young Don Coscarelli, it’s unforgettable, dreamlike score by Fred Myrow, and it’s natural, engaging performances by everyone involved,  Phantasm is a type of dark fairy tale about the inevitability of  change and loss which digs deep into our most horrifying childhood fears about death. It takes us right back to the time when we were children and had to make sense of this adult world, a real world we were just beginning to become acquainted with. Phantasm is an audacious film which dares to take a trip through the mental landscape of a deeply scarred, traumatized child. By film’s end, Mike and Reggie decide they must leave their small town and find a new start. Mike begins packing his bag so that they can hit the road and head into a new day, a new future where they can begin to come to terms with their pain. Mike closes his closet door revealing The Tall Man in his mirror. “BOOOOOOOOY!” The Tall Man growls…and Michael is caught. Pulled through the mirror and into darkness.

One day you and I will face Death. Inevitably, as The Tall Man says, “The Game is finished. Now, you die.” And when that day comes, that unavoidable day when we reach our ultimate fate, we can only hope that in death we will fine peace and comfort. Not a brutal Hell made up of our most nightmarish childhood fears.

Phantasm and it’s iconic boogeyman, The Tall Man, would live on with many colorful, imaginative, bonkers sequels that pick up and continue the story admirably well. But, if you were to ask me, the tale begins and ends with the original 1979 classic Phantasm. One of the most poetic and lovely horror stories ever told.

I award Phantasm FIVE out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

24
Sep
14

George Romero’s Martin (1976) Reality Bites

martin_poster_02

a Primal Root written review

“Do you believe God’s whole world runs by the laws of the few sciences we have been able to discover? Oh, no, Christine, there is more. But people are satisfied. They know so much, they think they know all. And that makes it easy for Nosferatu. That makes it easy for all the devils.” -Cuda, Martin

 

George Romero’s name immediately conjures up images of his iconic shambling, flesh eating “shoot ’em in the head” zombies, and it’s no wonder. Hell, the man’s spent the better part of a career spanning over forty years devoted to these walking dead flesh eaters who changed the landscape of horror cinema forever with movies like Night of the Living Dead (!968), Dawn of the Dead (1978) Day of the Dead (1985) and Land of the Dead (2004) among many other “Of the Dead” films and follow ups spawning countless unofficial ineffective sequels and lukewarm, forgettable remakes and also saturated the market for the past decade influencing everything in pop culture to the point I wish someone would just put a bullet in my head and end the unimaginative, cash-in, living dead hysteria that won’t seem to ever fucking wind down and die.

But to concentrate on the man’s most popular and commercially successful ventures is to ignore the bold and creative films he is lesser known for. Films like The Crazies, Knightriders, Creepshow,The Dark Half, etc. The man has made some phenomenal films outside the living dead canon he’s most known for, and I’d like to focus on what I consider to be among his most intriguing and underrated works, the independent vampire flick, Martin. 

Martinpic

Martin tells the tale of a shy, quiet, troubled teenage boy who believes himself to be a vampire, in fact, he comes from a lineage of his family that other relatives believe is cursed with hereditary vampirisim.  We’re introduced to Martin (John Amplas) as he stalks a fellow female passenger on an overnight train to Braddock, Pennsylvania. As he stalks this average young woman back to her overnight cabin aboard the train, we watch as Martin imagines her waiting for him behind the locked door in a revealing neglige, seduced by his vampire charms, lusting for him and embraces Martin with open arms, allowing him to feast on her warm red blood.  What Martin imagines is presented in grainy black and white, like the classic Universal monster movies of the 30’s and 40’s, like Dracula or Frankenstein, before cutting back to the bright, technicolor of reality where Martin attacks the young woman in her cramped cabin. The reality is far from Martin’s dream scenario. He walks in to the sound of her flushing the toilet before she steps out with her hair up in a towel, wearing a well loved bathrobe, her face caked in beauty cream as she blows a huge snot rocket into a wad of toilet paper. When Martin attacks her, intent on doping her up with a well placed prick of his syringe, she fights back with everything she has, hurling obscenities like “FREAK! RAPIST! ASSHOLE!”  athim while struggling against his clutches. Honestly, Martin is a shrimpy looking dude, and I have a feeling she would probably kick his ass normally, but the drugs take hold and she passes out, thus, allowing Martin to slice her arm open with a straight razor and dine on her blood. That’s right, Martin has no fangs.

When the train reaches it’s destination Martin meets his new caretaker, his elderly cousin Cuda (Lincoln Maazel). Cuda is a devoutly religious and highly superstitious  man,  and believes completely in the old family legend that some members are cursed with vampirisim. Cuda takes the boy in with the hopes of saving Martin’s eternal soul before destroying the creature of the night for all time. As you might guess, Cuda has nothing but contempt for young Martin, addressing him as Nosferatu and even threatening to put a stake through Martin’s heart, killing Martin without salvation, if Martin harms anyone in his city. But it’s not long before Martin ignores these warnings, and sneaks off into the night to hunt and feed.

martin7721

From the very first frame, Romero, with the help of a haunting, beautiful score from Don Rubinstein and utilizing the fading landscape of Braddock Pennsylvania, imbues his film with a sad, bleak, disturbing atmosphere, one where the American Dream has run dry and the world is left to rot and decay. The mills have alls hut down, the local economy has crumbled, and everyone left is struggling just to survive. The tone is one of desperation as a population holds on to the dying old ways of their lives and existing in denial.

As Martin stalks and ambushes his victims, it becomes apparent that sex is not his concern at all. In fact, when he is propositioned by a female shopper he befriends at Cuda’s grocery store, he has no idea how to respond. Turns out, Martin’s still a virgin after all these years and has no idea what to make of this. The lure of sex seems to hang all about Martin, and his response to it comes off as confused, sad and out of place. When he finally does give in to the seduction, he comes away unfulfilled. This is not your typical lustful vampire.

What Romero has sought out to do with Martin is, much like he did for zombies in his 1968 horror milestone Night of the Living Dead , is to deconstruct the vampire legend and all of the conventions we as an audience hold to be law. Martin is Romero’s treatise that examines the myth of the vampire, (featured in black and white, either as fantasy or long ago memories of how being a vampire once was, this point is left ambiguous) and reality (shot in bright, bold, 1970’s color) de-romanticizing the vampire legend. Also being tackled here is religion and superstitious belief.

martin7710

Martin cannot stomach the reality he exists in, and instead, creates intricate fantasies (presented in grainy black and white) where he visualizes himself sneaking into a grand castle rather than some  sleazy 70’s bachelor pad, or striding into the arms of an eager lover rather than holding down a shrieking victim who just took a huge dump in the adjoining bathroom. He imagines himself into the romantic Hollywood reality of the movie vampire, the one that is so alluring. which might be why he’s so quick to state “There’s no magic. There’s no real magic ever.” several times in the film. Crucifixes, garlic, holy water, sunlight, the classic rules do not apply in reality. Martin has no fangs, he uses a straight razor. He has no powers of seduction, he must use dope to keep his victims from breaking him in half. This is not a world of magic and super human power, this is stone cold, un-romantic reality.

Still, Martin believes he is actually a vampire and must feed on the blood of the living in order to survive, just as Christians believe utterly and completely in the resurrection, Heaven, Hell, and the power of the holy spirit. Martin still places an importance in the canned icons of his belief system, “The Hollywood Vampire” but is intelligent enough to know he is only humoring himself with these fantasies and delusions. After one startling moment in the film where Martin scares the living shit out of Cuda by stepping out the darkness  wearing a cape, bares fangs and has a pallid complexion only to finally laugh at the old man and reassure him, “It’s only a costume.” Martin has been told all his life what he is and has come to believe what’s been drilled into his head from birth.  Martin longs to be one thing, but he knows he is something else and this knowledge is the essence of the film.

Martin also takes dead aim at organized religion, portraying it in vapid, empty terms. Romero himself plays a hip priest who insults the shitty wine his church serves at communion, doesn’t believe in angels or demons and loves the movie The Exorcist. And when Cuda calls upon an old school priest to ambush Martin and perform an exorcism of their own, it comes off as an old useless ritual and Martin simply walks away as the priest blubbers on reading from the holy text. But more disheartening than any of this is Cuda himself, a man so blinded by his own faith that he believes it is his divine right to wield life or death over his own flesh and blood. Cuda believes the vampiric curse and that it is his duty to destroy the evil, to murder his own relative in the name of God. This is the same mentality in religious hysteria that leads followers to murder doctors who perform abortion and claim to be pro-life but support capital punishment, to commit atrocious acts of violence in the name of your own personal lord and savior. It’s sick, it’s twisted and it’s wrong.

"It's only a costume."

“It’s only a costume.”

In the end, Martin is a film about the lies we tell ourself and the delusions we live every day. Those that we have been taught by those closest to us and those we tell ourselves simply to get by. Martin wants so badly to be a vampire he is willing to kill others. Martin admires the lore and power of vampires. How they are loved, feared and lusted after, all things that the shy, timid misfit feels he can never obtain.

Martin is a singular, gorgeous, and poetic take on the vampire horror film and it’s Hollywood lore. To date, I have never seen a more thoroughly unique and sweetly sad vampire tale.  This is the rarest of horror movies, one not about a horrible other, or even about the creature next door. No, this is subtle, ambiguous look at what makes monsters of us all. A look into the heart of the horror in our everyday human existence and the evils we are capable of inflicting on one another. Not only through physical acts, but through the power of ideas, belief and control.

I give Martin FIVE out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets. If you ask me, this is Romero’s absolute masterpiece.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

22
Apr
13

Evil Dead (2013): If You Want Blood…

2-evil-dead-fan-poster

“Promise, you’ll stay till the end.” -Mia, Evil Dead

a Primal Root written review

edited by Bootsie Kidd

Gang, I must apologize for taking such a dang long time getting around to typing up this review. I needed time to let the The Evil Dead remake digest,  for my mind to really feel out what my thoughts were on the whole damn bloody feature.  So, here goes, my thoughts on the reimagining, new take of “The Evil Dead”, “Evil Dead”. I will try and break it down as spoiler-free as possible.

Sam Raimi’s original 1980 “The Evil Dead” is the story of one man’s personal apocalypse as his friends, one-by-one, become hideous shadows of their former selves and begin attacking, brutalizing, mocking, and humiliating him. Ash (Bruce Campbell) must finally find it within himself to fight back if he wants to make it through the night alive. “Evil Dead” (2013) follows along those same lines,  and though similar in a basic premise, “Evil Dead” does an intelligent job of making the material its own.

Personally, one of the aspects of the film I truly appreciated was the organizing principle. These twenty-somethings aren’t headed out to a dank, nasty, mildew farm of a cabin for a fun filled weekend. No, they are there to help their buddy kick her heroin habit cold turkey. A feat she has tried before and failed at.  So, the glum bunch of attractive kids consisting of the most adorable little junkie ever, Mia (Jane Levy),  her unreliable,  yet studly coward of a brother David (Shiloh Fernandez) , his “just-there-to-die” girlfriend Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore),  control freak buddy nurse Olivia (Jessica Lucas) and her bespectacled, grumpy bear of a fella, Eric ( Lou Taylor Pucci) head to the desperate fixer-upper in the middle of the creepiest forest in North America and commence Betty Fording.

evil-dead-shiloh-fernandez1

And nothing can deter them, not even the fact that the cabin seems to have been recently broken into, and those who did, left a basement full of at least ten dozen skinned, rotted, feline carcasses hanging from the rafters and looking like it smells of twice-baked putrescence and burnt hair.  Don’t worry, it’s all part of the pre-credit prologue. Oh, and did I mention the Scooby Gang also come across a mysterious package wrapped in black trash bags and laced in razor wire?  Could this be the legendary Necronomicon Ex-Mortis, roughly translated, The Book of the Dead? I have a good feeling you already know the answer. Yes, this seems like the best option for someone trying to rehabilitate herself! I’m surprised they all don’t just pick up the habit right there to make the living situation bearable.  Or at least get  cope with what I can only imagine is the worst smelling cabin of all time.

Anyhoo, I’m still with this new Evil Dead film Mia begins having withdrawal symptoms and everyone else kind of just sits around waiting for their cue to don their white contacts and let the arterial blood spray across the room. Before you can say “What a fucking idiot” Eric has clipped the razor wire, and ripped open the garbage bags to reveal the Necronomicon (SURPRISE, SURPRISE!), bound in human flesh and inked in blood with the ominous warnings that has since been utilized by many Bill O’Reily published works  “DO NOT READ THIS BOOK”, er, something along those lines. As if the razor wire ribbon wasn’t clue enough to leave the fucking thing alone… Oh well, the beard-o opens up the book and gets to reading aloud the demon resurrection passages and, whatdya know, he unleashes Hell on Earth. Who do you think the evil spirit picks on first? Who just might be the most weak and vulnerable amongst the kiddies at Melancholy Manor?

EvilDead

That’s right, Mia! Seen the first movie? Then it should come as no surprise that the young lady gets a slimy, malicious, invasive surprise from the Evil Dead right up her lady bits! Which leads to her being the vessel for this special brand of demonic spirit to wreak havoc on the rest of the down trodden crew! And oh, what a splattery, nasty night of havoc it is! There’s barfing, and tongue slashing, and arm chopping, and syringe poking, and nail gunning, electric knife wielding, oh, the list goes on and on as friends are possessed and begin turning on one another with very little haste. The second Mia is possessed, the movie kicks into hyper drive  with people turning into monsters from Hell left and right, you hardly have time to catch your breath as friends must battle their newly eviled chums in order to survive!

Let me tell ya, the gore is wonderful in this flick, as are all the practical effects. Everything looks sleazy, disgusting and pitch perfect. As body parts start plopping on the floor and gruel goes splashing into character’s mouths, I got a certain sense of euphoria. This reminded me much of my self made, VHS horror education back in the late 80’s all through the 90’s, when I began renting any and every horror video I could looking for just these kind of unrelenting moments of pure, unadulterated, horror insanity. I could practically feel my inner 15 year old giving my current 31 year old spirit a high five. This was some crazy, blood-caked glory that I would have creamed my shorts to have seen in those days. Better late than never, I suppose. But, yes, Evil Dead delivers the gore-met delights.

85-evil-dead-redband-trailer-2

****SPOILER WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD!****

But then the film began to reach its climax…which involves the impromptu MacGuyver-esque creation of a defibrillator by David to use in order to bring Mia back to life. That’s right, he studies the Necronomicon and discovers the many ways to cure the possessed aka: many ways to kill these people who are possessed.  His plan is to bury Mia alive until she dies of suffocation and then dig her up, stab her in the heart, pump her full of juice until she is jolted back to life, and then she’ll be right as rain.  And to my absolute shock and dismay, THE PLAN WORKS! Not only that, but she comes back without any injuries! the woman cut her tongue in half with a rusty old knife! How in the fuck did that heal instantaneously? Are you telling me if David were to resurrect Natalie from the dead, her arms (which she loses one to her own carving knife and the other in battle with her friends)  would miraculously reappear attached to her body? I’m sorry, but unless I missed a moment in the film where it is mentioned in the Necroonomicon that if a mortal is brought back from being possessed by pure evil by the use of a defibrillator all wounds inflicted during the time of possession are null and void, that’s just an incredibly manipulative plot devise that tries to deliver the audience something they didn’t see coming. I am all for surprises and going against audience expectations, but it feels so unlikely that anything like this would work, especially without ever being established that it might, it feels like a cheat. I have a hard time buying into the idea that the Evil Dead would work so hard to possess people that they would just leave a dead body once it is brought back to life. I know I’m nitpicking, but it just feels remarkably lame.  Seriously, the movie had me up until the moment David brought out the spark plug treatment. Seriously, the second that fucking thing showed up, my eyes nearly rolled out of my head.

The finale of Evil Dead is a crowd pleaser as the sky cracks open, pouring blood down on the property where the cabin is (no telling if the blood rain came down on any near by farming communities) and the evil is manifest into flesh, which is basically a tall skinny, saggy breasted knock off of the final creature in 2007’s  [REC]. Personally, after such an incredible lead up, I was expecting a bit more from our final monster, but that’s okay, because the monster is dispatched in the most brutally, hysterically over the top fashion, you will want to wake up the kids and show ’em.

****END SPOILERS! THE SPOILERS ARE OVER!****

Evil-Dead-2013.-Book-of-the-Dead-1.

Bottom line? I enjoyed Evil Dead.  I thought it was far more emo and sad sacky than its source material, but that’s to be expected if the film is to be its own beast and set itself apart from its predecessor.  But, to tell you the truth, did we ever love The Evil Dead for it’s organizing principal? Not really, the second demon possessed  party revelers or concerned rehab friends start getting hacked into coleslaw, it all kind of turns into the same sorta film where the audience begins hooting and hollering at the screen,  laughing when things get over the top and groaning when moments are teeth grindingly painful.  Its the fucking Evil Dead,  and it’s a pretty damn good time at the movies if this is your cup of tea.  The audience I saw it with was obviously having a blast, laughing, cheering and talking back to the screen as is the case with any true gut buster horror film worth its weight in innards.  It was fun despite the movie taking itself so seriously. Let’s face it, once demons are deflected by shock treatment and property begins flooding with blood from the sky, you’re flick has stepped into the absurd and is no longer the somber film about a junkie in need of rehabilitation.

Could the whole film just be an extended metaphor for how the wages of drug addiction can destroy your relationship with your family and your dearest friendships? That enabling someone to continue their bad behavior, or just ignoring the problem entirely,  allows the behavior too go on far too long and ends up hurting more people? Could I be digging too deep? I suppose, but still… Mia was fighting her own demons long before she was invaded by those conjured up by the Necronomicon, and David, who we learn has run away from every major problem in his life, must finally find the courage within himself to man up and take responsibility to save the ones he loves. Of course, he waits way too fucking long to do this, but, then again, if he had been braver sooner we may not have had such an outstanding gore fest.

Evil Dead (2013) is a thoughtful and dark revision of Raimi’s classic.  I appreciated the focus on the story arc of the two siblings, Mia and David, which did bring something totally new to the Evil Dead series.  The only thing I wish there was more of would be Raimi’s twisted, perverse sense of humor, but that’s not what this movie’s about.  Sure, yes, I enjoyed Evil Dead in a theater full of other fans. But without that gnarly, evil, dark sense of humor, will I ever break out Evil Dead on a movie night with my friends over like the original Evil Dead? Only time will tell.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

10
Sep
12

Guess the Garbage Vol. 3: IN 3-D! (NSFW)

        Hey Gang! It’s your pal The Primal Root here with a brand new round of Guess the Garbage! The game where I gather a few random screen caps, spatter them here across The Trash Cinema Collective site and let you take educated and/or wild stabs in the dark as to what Trash Cinema films I tore them from all in the hopes of no reward whatsoever other than having your name plastered below the image you correctly guessed and bragging rights that are sure to get you laid when you tell that special someone how incredibly fucking awesome you are! Longest run on sentence I’ve ever typed? Doubtful. Anyhoo, without and further a due, here’s your garbage! Just post your guesses in the comment section of this post an whoever answers first gets all the glory.  Good luck, and may Cthulhu bless! -Root

Number One: Tobe Hooper’s ‘Eaten Alive’ guess by Jim Stramel

Number Two

Number Three: Fright Night Part 2 Guessed by Steven

Number Four: Beneath the Valley of the Ultra Vixens Guessed by Scott Porter

Number Five

09
Jun
12

God Bless America (2011): Aiming for The Dream

a Primal Root written review

God Bless America (2011):  Aiming for The Dream

I haven’t had cable television in over a decade. I refuse to pay for something that every time I flip it on I feel as if my brain is steadily being churned into chunky apple sauce. This is not to say that I don’t know what’s on there. On occasion, I have sat and witnessed what most of our nation happily plops down and allows to be broadcast into our living rooms every evening.  You know, for the entire family to enjoy. Let’s just say, it’s mildly disturbing. What are the repercussions of such resignation on our society? A world where our entire culture and society is saturated with celebrity gossip, ugly, degrading reality television, and political pundits who would rather preach hate and intolerance than have an intelligent and respectful discussion?

Bobcat Goldthwait’s latest directorial effort, “God Bless America”, takes on this disheartening concept in the form of a deeply dark, satirical comedy. It’s got something for everyone who’s sick of  the “Oh, no, you didn’t!” generation that’s grown up planted on a couch, glued to the screen, all but lobotomized, and no longer concerned with discerning thought, open-mindedness, respect, common courtesy, or even kindness. It’s a generation of people who demand respect, but don’t give it in return, who demand to be heard but refuse to listen,  who know they come first and the rest of the world just doesn’t fucking matter.  Of course, this is a “fictional” world that our protagonist, Frank, inhabits, right? A middle aged, middle class, divorced parent who also happens to be a war veteran.  He must deal with his obnoxious neighbors who don’t seem to mind their 24/7/365 wailing infant, and talk loudly and incessantly (over their screaming offspring) about occurrences on their favorite TV shows and the latest gossip on Bradgelina.
Frank is aware of this drought in the human spirit. That we have sold it for a fast food and soulless culture that worships greed and selfishness over compassion and selflessness.  Frank sits in his living room flipping through the channels as photoshopped pictures of President Obama dressed up as Adolf Hitler are promoted as some kind of warped sense of reality, a random, class-act reality TV star pulls out her bloody tampon and angrily splats it across the face of her costar who, I can only assume, crossed her (the details of their quarrel are lost among beeped-out dialogue). It’s a sick, sad world Frank lives in.  And not even he ever-cool “Daria” kind. To make matters worse, Frank has just lost his job, been informed he has an inoperable, fatal brain tumor growing in his noggin, and his pre-teen daughter refuses to come visit him flipping her shit over receiving a Blackberry instead of an iPhone for her birthday.
Frank can’t take it anymore, but just as he wraps his lips around the barrel of a Glock the blue light of the television screen spills over him.  “My Super Sweet 16” is on and an entitled high schooler is cursing and berating her parents in a self-righteous rage after she is presented with a top o’ the line vehicle that is NOT the one she had envisioned.  Frank comes to the epiphany that the gun he’s holding is pointed in the wrong direction.  Our hero ends up on a road trip to off the outrageous brat he blames for his own daughter’s (and the general world’s) ridiculously selfish behavior.  However, he, also, winds up inspiring and being inspired by a teenage girl, Roxy, who’s just as disillusioned and angry at the egomaniacally brain-dead society they are forced to abide.  Or are they?  They lock, load, and go on a rampage laying waste to those assholes who talk and text during movies, jerks who take up two full parking spaces, and hate mongers who stand at the side of the road holding signs declaring “God Hates Fags”. Frank and Roxy gun them down and mow them over with glee.  I can’t help but chuckle at the carnage as these people are decimated and punished for being a part of a “civilization that is no longer interested in being civilized”.
As is the case with Bobcat’s previous work, God Bless America will have you laughing with dark revelry as those who make everyday life a constant struggle finally mess with with the wrong nice guy.  Also typical of Bobcat, despite the deeply-etched satirical pitch-black edge, the filmmaker manages to imbue this work with genuine, human emotion, poignancy, and thought-provoking pathos.  Joel Murray, the instantly recognizable character, is amazing as Frank.  He infuses the role with so much heart and believability that you cannot help but root for the guy, whether due to or despite his impressive body count.  Roxy,Tara Lynne Barr, as Frank’s young sidekick and voice of the younger generation  is a firecracker, a natural whose sassy, fun performance, keeps the film well-paced and peppy.
God Bless America is a sometimes graphic, often profane and funny for most of its running time. However, by film’s end it starts to register that this is the same violent and malicious motivation that drives those who blow up abortion clinics or lynch people because of the color of their skin. The killers we profess to despise believe they are murdering those “who deserve to die” too, right?  The first 45 minutes of God Bless America starts out blazingly funny as it lampoons pop culture and society at large, but as it winds to a close the viewer may begin to wonder, have both Frank and Roxy steadily descended into the mean-spirited people they were trying to destroy?  God Bless America is hilarious, tragic, sometimes uncomfortable,  frequently challenging, and totally uncompromising.  It’s the kind of film that doesn’t come around very often, anymore.  One that asks some nasty questions, takes an angry stance, and asks the audience to internalize these things. That they sincerely ask themselves just what the fuck they make of it all.
And keep your eyes peeled for TV’s Frank from MST3K in a brief cameo.  Guck-Ga-Yuuuuw!
Stay Trashy!
-Root
12
Feb
12

The Primal Root’s Top Five Trashy Valentine’s Day Mood Killers!

One of Primal Root’s Dirty Thoughts

Valentine’s Day is a strange holiday.  Unlike Christmas or Thanksgiving, no one gets Valentine’s Day off. It’s not like Halloween which is renown for it’s fun frights and sugar fueled excess, St. Patrick’s day with it’s green beer and date rapes, but what of Valentine’s Day? There’s no way to avoid it.  You take your special lady friend over to the pharmacy to pick up her birth control and you are greeted with aisles upon aisles of heart shaped, overpriced pieces of  cardboard stuffed with enough tooth decaying sweets to put the entire population of the east coast into a diabetic coma as well as grotesque stuffed animals that play Marvin Gaye’s “sexual healing” when you squeeze the shit out of them.  Like anyone wants that kind of sentiment coming from a furry friend such as a bear or a cat. The whole notion is sick! JUST SICK!

But, I digress,  ANYHOO,  with our collective taste in cinema, Valentine’s Day is a tricky day of the year, especially for us Trash Cinema Connoisseurs.  Which is why I am compiling this list of movies that we might watch on Valentin’s Day,  but might ruin any shot you possibly had at getting some Valentine’s Day love friction.

However, if you do watch these with that special someone and they still glance at you longingly as opposed to sheer terror before bolting out a closed window (ala: any 80’s/90’s action flick) followed by a restraining order  arriving in the mail 30 days later…you’ve found a keeper. 😉

On with the awkward, grueling and stomach churning!

5) Street Trash (1987) dir. J. Michael Muro

Because if there’s a batch of thing you want to think about when you’re groping your lover after dinner at 4 star restaurant, it’s the aroma of a career New York City hobo. Street Trash tells the tail of the internal strife and trouble of the immense Hobo population of NYC who live in a sprawling metropolis of filth and shit puddles down at the local dump.  A new threat has been introduced into their world in the form of a long lost batch of booze known as Tenafly Viper which turns anyone who drinks it into a thick, brightly colored puddle of glop. The very first unlucky victim end up slowly, horrifically and semi-comically melting into a toilet and inadvertently flushing himself down it.

Street Trash is a sick and twisted little film that comes off feeling like one of Peter Jackson’s long lost early works.  the film features necrophilia, an fairly nightmarish group rape,  police officer’s beating people within an inch of their lives and then puking on them, and a moment where a lovely young woman nearly gives a bum a blowjob…a filthy, stinky bum who hasn’t bathed in months and has been sporting the same pair of crusty B.V.D.’s out in the summer heat. Who in the world would put themselves through that?

As hobos melt, women get repeatedly raped and fat guys explode, Street Trash is sure to douse the flames of burgeoning passion pretty fucking fast, my friends.

 

4) The Brood (1979) dir. David Cronenberg

Ah, David Cronenberg. The master of body horror and making us not only feel intense anxiety regarding our physical being but basic human interaction in general. Which could be the reason he appears TWICE in my Top 5 Valentine’s Day Mood Killers List.  The man have a panache for pulling the rug out from under the typical sappy cinematic notions of love, romance, sex (that’s for damn sure) and the notion of a classical happy ending. Hence, his 1979 classic embittered divorcee film, “The Brood”.

Speaking from a experience, unless you are with a partner that is incredibly confident, bringing up an old relationship or flame is a sure fire way to throw a bucket of cold water on any kind of romantic moment.  I know many guys and girls are guilty of that whole past relationship jealousy trap. It’s ridiculous when you boil down, hell, you’re with this person now but for some reason you can;t get over the fact that *gasp* your lover had a life before you! You should be thanking your lucky stars their ex (girlfriend, boyfriend, wife, husband, gimp, dominatrix, stalker, etc.) isn’t manifesting their intense bitterness and hatred into child sized, hoodie sporting, murderous minions born through saggy, goop filled abdominal pulp sacks…Really. You’ve got it good.

The Brood is one of those films that’s going to do little else than make you and your closest companion feel uncomfortable. You’ll end up watching and imagining a few psycho ex-partners and how if they could make little midget killer sacks pawns grow out of their gut fat and come after you with malicious, creeping rage and a meat clever in hand, they would not hesitate to do so.  And who in the world wants that shit running through their head when you’re laying on the cough with your lover in your arms?  And nothing brings on a make out session like a woman gnawing open some grotesque, dripping belly goiter and then licking the living contents clean with her tongue. No amount of smooth talking is going to get the mood back after that kind of viewing experience.

 

3) I Spit On Your Grave (1978) dir. Meir Zarchi

Oh boy…yeah, I guess this one really goes without saying, but if you REALLY want to obliterate a sweet, lovey-dovey evening beyond the point of no return? Meir Zarchi’s quintessential rape/revenge epic is your weapon of choice. When you absolutely, positively have to turn off every mother fucker in the room? Accept no substitute.

But, in all honesty, rape is probably the last subject you want to bring up with perspective girl/boyfriend let alone an established relationship. I Spit On Your Grave features one of the longest gang rape sequences ever committed to film. Just when you think our victim/avenger, Jennifer (the stunning and talented Camille Keaton) has escaped she runs afoul of another rape happy redneck ready to violate her.

I Spit on Your Grave is the purest antithesis of the Valentine’s Day mood setter.  Between the jaw droppingly vicious rape sequences to the well deserved revenge of Jennifer’s, which reaches it’s pinnacle during a bubble bath castration sequence that just made my genitals recede into my abdomen at just the recollection of it, I Spit on Your grave is pound for pound the heavy weight champ of the awkward evening with your sweetheart.  Which might be why I Spit on Your Grave has become a tradition on Valentine’s Day in the Root household. I’m kind of a weirdo, gang, it’s time you learned this.

SO! Unless you want to watch this thing out of some odd, twisted, trash cinema sense of logic like I do, I would keep I Spit on Your Grave OFF your Valentine’s Day viewing itinerary.

2) Cutting Moments (1997) dir. Douglas Buck

Ahhh, the American Dream perpetuated by the constant rotation of the Hollywood conveyor belt. The beautiful wife, the kids, the quaint house in the suburbs with the white picket fence.  These are the measures of success as prescribed to us by society at large. It’s a common, cliched romantic notion that so many of us buy into hook line and sinker. But, as we have gathered through our own experiences of watching relationships and people around us fall apart due to the constant struggle to attain these perceived obligations,  the dream more often than not, fails.

But on Valentine’s Day no one wants to believe in unhappy endings! that things won;t all work out for the best! One things for certain, if you do decide to get hitched, produce some hell spawn, get a mortgage and dwell int he suburbs there’s a good chance things will never reach the level of bloody desperation chronicled in Douglas Bucks’ short film, “Cutting Moments”.

I’ve seen a lot of sick, dark, depressing, stuff, gang. But never have I seen a more harrowing portrayal of an American nuclear family marred by repression, guilt, shame, secrets and lies. My god (Cthulhu) watching this not even 10 minute long short film is just about all you’ll ever need top swear off marriage forever!  The majority of the film is spent in silence with nothing more than the empty sounds of cutting. Whether it’s trimming the hedges, or cutting up carrots. Hardly anyone speaks.These people are so dead inside already it’s like they live in a tomb. There’s no passion, no love, no spark and there’s even the insinuation of child molestation. My god,  did that rhyme?  It’s like they live in a vacuum. It’s only when wife and mother, Sarah, takes drastic measures to put the intimacy back into the relationship with her husband that the blood finally flows back into their lives reminding them once again of the flesh and blood that makes them human.

Too many folks lie to themselves and tell themselves they are with the right person in order to fulfill these empty societal ideals. They get hitched, pop a baby or two out and then either hold all their resentment and bitterness inside or get divorced and use their kids as emotional leverage against their former spouse. It’s all just as sick and saddening as what’s present in Cutting Moments. Watching this puppy on Valentine’s Day is sure to fill your head with enough “What if’s” to have you heading to bed along that night.

1) The Fly (1986) dir. David Cronenberg

Alright, now this is a love story! It really is! When watching Cronenberg’s masterful remake of The Fly it’s easy to forget about the love story at hand taking place between journalist, Veronica and Seth Brundle, the brilliant young scientist working on a breakthrough in matter transference. Veronica falls hard for the quirky, charming, and intelligent Brundle and they begin a whirlwind romance.  Two smart, attractive, young people in love…what could go wrong?

Holy fuck…

The Fly is like a check list of all the things that could possibly go wrong in a loving relationship. Clingy, stalker ex boyfriend? CHECK! Being careless and doing incredibly stupid things in order to prove your love to your partner in a fit of misguided jealousy? CHECK! Inide-Out bloody monkey moosh? CHECK! These two start out as such a believably cute and perfect couple that it makes all the events that much more tragic as Seth begins his transformation from his sweet, adorable, self into a sickly, revolting monster replete with loose body parts and a need to vomit on everything. It’s a terrifying and devastating transformation as we watch, along with Veronica, her love disintegrate and go mad before her very eyes.

The Fly is one of the most epic of all cinematic tragic love stories.  Many critics and commentators have weighed in on the film’s apparent HIV/AIDS subtext, and that’s a smart deciphering of the film, for sure. But The Fly is also a testament to how truly heart wrenching and deeply devastating love can be.  Veronica is unable to leave Seth’s side and tries to help him, to take care of him, however she can only to end up, with all hope lost, and having to come to terms with losing the one she loved and putting the beast he has become out of it’s misery.  Only someone who really feels love and compassion for another is willing to do such a thing.

Upon first viewing it’s easy for the love story to get lost under a puddle of neon green battery acid fly man digestive puke. But once you get over that initial shock and awe you begin to fully realize and appreciate the romantic tragedy that is, The Fly. By the end of the film you and your sweetheart may have a deeper understanding of the obligations true love requires. Well, this is kind of a drastic example, but you catch my drift. It’s not much of a romantic notion, but in some situations, there are no happy endings. Even if you’re in love.

Well, those are my top 5 Valentine’s Day Mood Killers! Keep in mind, these are just my picks. There are about a million flicks out there to choose from and I would love to hear which Trash Cinema Epics you recommend as the true cinematic equivalents of a romance epicac. Please, drop us a line in our comments! I would love to hear some of your favorites. 😀

Until next time, remember to wrap it up every time, don’t name it after me and love the one you’re with!HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!

Stay Trashy,

-Root

05
Dec
10

Two Moon Junction: The Perils of White Privilage or These are the Problems You Want to Have

a Primal Root review

You know, I always wondered what the way to a gorgeous, sexually repressed, southern debutante’s heart would be. How in the world could I ever get such a woman nekkid and in the sack or living room carpet? Well, believe it or not, the path is easily traversed. All you need is a cute dog and penchant for breaking and entering.

That is, if the 1988 soft core sexploitation flick Two Moon Junction is to be believed. Written and directed by the mastermind  behind The Red Shoe Diaries, Mr. Zalman King (remember his awesome acting skills in such Trash Cinema greats as Trip with the Teacher and Galaxy of Terror?), Two Moon Junction is the tale of a gorgeous  blond, nubile, southern bell named April (played by the supernaturally gorgeous, Sherilyn Fenn of Twin Peaks fame) who is being married off in a kind of arranged marriage to some white bread, yuppie guy mere weeks after they both graduated from their posh, exclusive deep fried southern university.

April lives in a world where everything is white. The houses, the walls, the clothes, the cars, and just about the entire populace. With the exception of the hired help who are all black. Did I mention this movie takes place in modern day 1988? Anyway, April is complacent in her little world of white privilege and arranged nuptials, but she ( of course) yearns for more as evidenced by a buck naked steamy shower at the exclusive gym where she reveals not only her remarkable and perfect bosom but a hidden peephole that leads over to the fella’s side of the showers that’s far too well hidden for us not to assume she hadn’t known about this thing from previous experience. It’s like that scene in Porky’s but in reverse and trying to sell it as a meaningful moment, when really, we just wanted to see some nekkid people. She takes a look at the swinging wang doodles, rubs her Raspberry pop-tart and the Circus comes to town. Literally.

Alice takes her tweenage sisters to the bargain basement traveling fair where she is hit on clunckily by a shirtless, greasy, pockmarked carny hunk by the name of…Perry. The guy is kind of a jerk but he is a hard working, blue collard muscle head  who wants to stick it to April so they exchange the obligatory sexy looks, Perry mocks her fiance, and thenPerry stalks her down and breaks into her house to take a shower while April’s family and fiance are away. Yes, he BREAKS INTO HER HOUSE and takes a shower. At first, April does what any human being with an ounce of smarts would do and threatens to call the cops. He counter-threatens to run out the front door nekkid.  What? She did ask him to leave, right? How is this a threat? Now she’ll have a free pair of smelly acid washed jeans!

Needless to say, after Perry mocks her lifestyle, busts out a video camera and talks a little dirty carny to her she’s just aching for this guy to shake her dust. It’s knees to the sky and the two embark on a whiny, manipulative, vapid, depressing love affair that will have you begging that these two just pull a Romeo and Juliet and end this damn thing.

Now, I am not saying the love scenes aren’t hot. Most of them are. And the ones that work are all due to the ravishing beauty that is Ms. Sherilyn Fenn. Sure, Ms. Fenn gets completely buck naked in Two Moon Junction, but she’s the kind of woman that you can look at fully clothed and still melt. Just look at her face and into those eyes. Hell, just look at her in Twin Peaks. The woman is in a sweater and a long skirt and she still just oozes temptation and sexuality.  She is, really, the only strength Two Moon Junction has. Sadly, she can’t get a bit of chemistry going with her leading carny, Perry, played with very little lunk-head charm by the meaty Richard Tyson. He looks like a romance novel cover come to life and is just about as fulfilling and cliche ridden as the novel itself. Long story short (too late) the guy stinks.

Okay, now that I am thinking about it, the film has one other thing going for it. There are some seriously cute dogs hanging out with Perry. *SPOILER ALERT* Don’t get too attached to the first dog. Booze fueled angry carnies and defensive canines never ever mix. Ever. Especially in soft core porn.

So, does Alice go through with her marriage to her filthy rich, clean shaven white boy or does she choose the rugged, womanizing, bourbon swilling, unemployed carnival worker? Will Alice’s family execute Perry Creepshow style ( it’s hard to say he was a deer when he’s behind the wheel of a Mack Truck)? Will there be a sex scene in the film that doesn’t end with Sherilyn Fenn sobbing her eyes out (is this a turn on to someone? Hell, I’m sure it’s got to be.)? How does beating the hell out of a truck shut down the power to an entire carnival? Does Perry ever get his bourbon? You’ll just have to check out Full Moon Junction and see for yourself!

For whatever reason, I felt incredibly depressed when the movie was over. And I think the ending was …happy? I dunno. You kind of get the sense that Sherilyn was kind of uncomfortable doing this flick which she was told would be her big break. Nope, that came a couple years later thanks to David Lynch, Mark Frost, and the murder of Laura Palmer.  And she didn’t have to take a stitch of clothing off to prove her star power.

It’s a female driven southern sex fantasy with plenty of soft focus, oiled man chest, and unchecked lust, and naked women. There’s not a lot of joy to be had in the proceedings. None of the key players here ever seem entirely happy with any of the options their lives have. Even the ending seems questionable.  It’s the perfect sleazy, soft core movie date for you and that special trashy someone in your life. Especially if you love hearing your lover ray after you have sex.

Stay Trashy,

-The Primal Root




Dumpster Diving

Categories