Posts Tagged ‘sauna

21
Nov
17

Blood Rage (1987): This Thanksgiving, put the Fun Back in Dysfunctional!

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a Primal Root written review

“That’s not cranberry sauce…” – Terry, Blood Rage (1987)

Well, the festive holiday season is well underway! First there was Halloween with it’s copious Trash Cinema offerings, soon there will be Christmas with all it’s Yule Tide Trash…BUT FIRST…we must observe our nation’s tradition of celebrating the genocide of the Native American’s be gathering with our closest ken and devouring a roasted dead bird with bread rammed up it’s gaping asshole! Ah yes, THANKSGIVING! We sure love our traditions here in the Land of the Free, but older than even the tradition of Thanksgiving, is the tradition of family tensions, resentments, anger and good, old fashioned violence. Now, Thanksgiving horror films are few and far between. Sure, we all are thankful for Eli Roth’s blood drenched gratuitous mock slasher movie trailer for THANKSGIVING featured in the 2007 Grindhouse Double Feature, and fewer still recall Home Sweet Home from 1981, starring Body By Jake himself, Jake Steinfeld as a sweaty, body building maniac with eyes bulging out even further than his elephant balls sized biceps…which could possibly take place on Thanksgiving, but no one ever mentions the holiday they are celebrating by name. Thankfully, Arrow Films restored a long lost gem of a Thanksgiving slasher film from 1987 entitled Blood Rage aka: Nightmare at Shadow Woods.

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Blood Rage begins with a Mom hot to trot on a date at the Drive-In theater. Her twin boys are in back fast asleep, oddly enough in one shat a child has a double barrel shot gun nestled between his legs pointed at the business end of his junk (WTF?), I;m not sure what this signifies, but it is gone in the very next shot. Mom is fixing to slob knob when the two boys wake up and sneak out of the back of Mom’s station wagon. One young boy, Terry,  finds a hatchet and begins peeping on a young couple doing to forbidden polka in the front seat of their car. The man doing the fucking looks up, sees this creepy blonde kid and promptly freaks the fuck out at him but not NEARLY as hard as Terry freaks out back him. You better believe Terry buries that hatchet into the young man’s skull repeatedly, spraying blood all over the dash, steering column, popcorn bucket and his nekkid and nubile young fuck companion who runs away screaming, bloody and nekkid into the night never to be heard from again. The commotion gets the entire drive-in’s attention and as everyone rushes over to catch a peek of crater face and his dead dong, Terry pulls a past one on his twin brother Todd, smearing blood on his face and handing him the hatchet, effectively framing him.

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And wouldn’t you know it, the ruse works! Everyone buys the story hook, line and sinker and stick Todd in a mental asylum for ten years! Todd constantly proclaims his innocence, but no one listens. They just keep medicating the poor dope and just hope he never kills again. MEANWHILE, over at Shadow Woods Apartment Complex, the now young adult Terry is alive and thriving and living the active lifestyle with his posse of friends and living at his Mom’s place.  During Thanksgiving dinner Mom makes the big announcement that she’s going to marry the landlord of the apartment complex. This apparently triggers Terry who becomes very cold and menacing over the course of the meal. To make matters worse, Todd has escaped from the mental asylum where they hid him away and is heading home.

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Before the leftovers have even begun to cool Terry has started rampaging through the Shadow Woods apartment complex all while laying the ground work to frame his brother Todd yet again. There are some fantastic over the top kills in this flick, but my absolute favorite has to be Terry cutting Todd’s therapist in half with a machete. We do not actually see the cut happen, only a POV shot from Terry’s perspective as he rushes the doctor. We cut to another scene, then back to the doctor who is coughing up bright red cherry Kool-Aid and laying there on the muddy ground in two bloody, drippy, meaty chunks. It’s really a well done little effect and will put a smile on any gorehound’s face.

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The bodies begin to pile up as Terry trots around the complex with ever increasing sick, malicious glee,  killing just about anyone who opens their door all while poor Tood tries to piece his doctor back together, tells little girls to not answer the door for anyone, and actually takes care of his staggeringly drunk mother who passed out int he hallway of her apartment after downing a bottle or two of red after Thanksgiving dinner. It’s a pretty brutal affair as people fucking on the diving board are hacked into pieces, gold diggers find their date’s heads hanging from the stairwell and countless Thanksgiving turkey serving utensils are used to break countless kosher laws! It all ends with a desperate chase around the complex between Terry’s on again,off again flame Karen who is running for her life from Terry who is now intent on killing her and chuckling through every last second of it and Todd, who is trying desperately to stop Terry’s reign of horror! Not only that, but Mom, totally shit faces and a little psychotic herself, as grabbed a gun and is looking to put down the bad twin once and for all!

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Blood Rage walks a really fine line between a kind of sleazy tongue in cheek hilarity and truly heartbreaking and disturbing family drama. To watch the film directed by John Grissmer and written by Bruce Rubin, it certainly has a very quirky and alternating vibe to it. One moment you’re laughing at the situation and the pretty impressive practical gore effects, and the next scene you are asked to take the bizarre family situation seriously and feel the deep tragedy of the events that are unfolding for these three mentally unstable people. Not only that, but the leads honestly throw themselves into their roles, often they go a little over the top, but it’s never unbelievable. Many kudos to Mark Soper who plays both Todd and Terry and manages to make these two characters so distinctly different in both character and physicality, I had to look it up to see if these were actually twins or just one guy. I mean, it becomes apparent by the conclusion when they need to be in the same shot together and there’s obviously a guy in a shitty fright wig with his back turned to the camera posing as either Todd or Terry. Still, Mark’s maniacal portrayal of Terry and sympathetic turn as Todd is pretty impressive and makes up for many of those goofy bad wigged short comings. Also, a standout, is Louise Lasser as Todd and Terry’s Mother, Maddy. We get the impression that Maddy might just be insane herself early on in the film, but I initially choked it up to high anxiety. As the movie progresses and her odd behavior escalates and Maddy’s dependency issues become clear, you begin to realize where Todd and Terry may have inherited their instability. There are scenes where Maddy is simply trying to get in touch with her fiancee which are just brutal and anxiety provoking as she continues to lose her mind trying to figure out the right number to contact her dead-at-the-twenty-minute-mark fiancee. But, if you want to talk about a bone crusher of a performance, the finale revelation which comes at the end, will either have you laughing or gasping at the absurd tragedy of it all, but one cannot say that these performers id not give it their all trying to make the material really sing.

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Blood Rage is a true rarity, the seldom to be found Thanksgiving holiday slasher that is not only trashy entertainment, but a flick strives to rise above it’s own admittedly cornball material. To watch a piece of Trash Cinema fully embrace it’s filthy B-Movie Drive-In aesthetic, delivering the goods and then still giving it the old college try to bring an even deeper, more horrifying psychological aspect to the proceedings is a facet I greatly admire in Blood Rage.

So, undo your belt, fix yourself a second plate and gather those you love around the old boob tube for one of the finest Trash Cinema Thanksgiving Slasher Films ever made, Blood Rage. You can thank me later. ❤ Did I mention you can rent Blood Rage on DVD & Blu-Ray at Tallahassee Florida’s own Cap City Video Lounge?

I reward Blood Rage FOUR out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

 

 

 

 

 

20
May
17

Death Spa aka: Witch Bitch (1989) Let Me See Your Body Drop

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a Primal Root written review

“Alright, I’ll show you fried chicken, bitch!” – Michael, Death Spa

 

If you’re anything like me, and I know I am, the gym is a pretty uncomfortable place to spend time in. I’m not going to lie, I;m out of shape. I have the keg as opposed to the six pack, my complexion is of the fish belly white variety and I get winded walking up the stairs to the office building I currently work. The stink of sweaty bodies, the harsh judgment in the huddled masses eyes as my flab goes to bouncing on any given piece of exercise equipment designed to improve my cardiovascular function as I gasp for air and my face turns the shade of the ripest tomato in town. Honestly, this is possibly one of the finest setting for a horror films I could imagine. Plenty of scantly clad hard bodies and a few out of shape oddballs thrown into the awkward situation of having to deal with one another as they each spend exorbitant amounts of money to utilize dangerous equipment to try and make their bodies match the standards set by society so that they might be attractive by photoshopped celeb standards and, hence, more desirable and a far shallower level than someone who is sweet, kind intelligent and not so hung up on their own body image. Oh yes, there is plenty of creeping fear to be found in this scenario, no doubt.

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Enter DEATH SPA! A 1989 bargain basement horror film with all the earmarks of a film made right on the cusp of the 80’s and 90’s. The fashion trends of the 80’s are still there, but beginning to get much more neon, the focus on body beauty is strong and the health food, new age craze is about to explode like a bukakke tape all over the face of the consumer market.  Death Spa takes place within the space age (for the late 1980’s) confines of Star Bodies gym, a place that’s every bit as popular as Uncle’s Day at a whore house, but also exceedingly prone to hazardous, deadly, truly horrifying accidents. We are introduced to this establishment as a young, blonde. gorgeous, perfectly fit frolicking dancer decided to call it a night, disrobes, and hits the sauna. After some much appreciated full frontal nudity and gratuitous sweaty body self fondling, the steam becomes some form of poisonous gas and our nubile young fitness expert begins to suffocate of toxic chemical fumes. As she thrashes, and bounces her perky young body in panic around the sauna room, she manages to keep it together long enough to throw an epic kung-fu chop to the sauna’s small peeping tom window at the entrance door.

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We then cut to a woman on fire in a wheelchair , seriously, that is what we cut to after watching a nekkid young woman collapse to the floor with her boobs bouncing in slow motion. Turns out this is a retrospective nightmare of our main character and Star Bodies owner, Michael (William Bumiller), whose wife was crippled in child birth, lost the baby, went insane with jealousy and immolated herself to teach her husband a lesson…huh? Anyway, he is plagued every night by these horrible nightmares of her burning herself into “unrecognizable ashes.” However, when he wakes from this particular nightmare, he finds himself right in the middle of a living one, as it turns out the lovely nekkid blonde dancing babe who just survived a near fatal gassing was, in fact, his new fuck buddy, Laura (Brenda Bakke from Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight and Hot Shots part Deux). She’s not doing so hot and her eyes have been severely damaged resulting in temporary blindness and the necessity to keep them covered in gauze for the remainder of the film, which is a real shame, because Brenda Bakke has some DAMN lovely eyes. Man, what a waste… at least they didn’t skimp on her bodacious body exposure.

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Well, as you might have guessed, this leads the local authorities to the front door of Michael’s establishment and our suspects begin to organize in a single file line.  Leading the investigation are Sgt. Stone (Rosalind Cash from The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai and The Omega Man), a no nonsense, dreadlock sporting badass and Lt. Fletcher (Francis X McCarthy of Altered States and Interstellar fame) as a man who never stops eating, make bizarrely insensitive, unfunny quips and looks like his heart is fixing to explode any second. These two add a constant police procedural subplot that is one of the few subplots not dropped or forgotten along Death spa’s running time. On their initial investigation the find out that the entire gym is run by a highly sophisticated super computer designed and controlled by David, Michael’s ex-brother in law and his dead wife’s twin brother ( David is played by the late Merrit Butrick who tragically died of health complications due to AIDS and is the one shining performance in the whole film. He’s probably best remembered for his role in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.) David has a deep loathing for Michael, but they still have to work together, which makes every moment between them exceedingly awkward and, dare I say, fun?

We are also introduced to our gym rats, several folks in skin tight leotards showing of their tits, asses, and packages while they sweat out their butt cracks. One of these gym rats is Marvin, played by the legendary Ken Foree from Dawn of the Dead (1978) and From Beyond. He is basically Michael’s right hand man and security for Star Bodies. First time I watched this flick I assumed he was the killer, but he is so under utilized and hardly seen in the film for most of the story, that hope pretty much faded away. Really. the poor guy’s screen time is maybe 5 minutes. Really, who besides Rob Zombie would cast this guy an make him a mere cameo? Anyhoo, before the cops leave there is another accident in the gym, this time a diving board collapses into the pool plummeting the diver into the water below…and uh, yeah, that’s it. Pretty insidious, huh? The diver is unscathed and everyone walks away fine and the diver, a bit moister, which she was planning on getting anyway.

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Michael picks up the now blind Laura from the hospital and after a surreal candle lit dinner and sexy food feeding segment, asks her to move into his enormous condo which has very few railings for a late 80’s house with several high areas where one who, say, cannot see could simply walk off of them and end up obliterating their spine…Of course she says yes.

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But back at Star Bodies, we are treated to an extended shower scene were a half dozen nekkid ladies treat us to the lathered up fully nude forms before the shower tiles begin flying off the walls and cutting their pretty faces! Not only that, but someone cranks up a fog machine full blast, obscuring our view of their goods, as they begin screaming as if it;s the second coming of Christ, and do that weird slow run out of the shower, like they don;t really want to go, but their noses are getting hacked off, so they might as well.  The cops and Michael start pointing fingers and Dave and the super computer, but Dave throws out the apt point that the computer doesn’t control the fucking shower tiles, and the argument falls flat as Michael, who has a handicapped girlfriends waiting for him as home, invites two of the traumatized yet horny hot shower massacre victims to come fuck him later to make up for the incident. Michael, what a guy!

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And just as this occurs, another gym rat gets his rib cage ripped open by a weightlifting machine that malfunctions and a girl in the locker room gets impaled by a pipe and stashed in a locker…and in the course of the film is never ever found. Even the cops mention later that this young woman has been missing for two days. In fact, the last time we ever see her is when the blind Laura is gathering her items from the locker the young ladies’ corpse  is stashed in, but Laura, you know, doesn’t see her. It’s honestly one of the better scenes in the movie and lasts all of 5 seconds as Laura reaches around the body getting her birth control and buttplugs out the locker as we wait for her to grab a hand full of cold bloody cadaver flesh, but it never occurs. Bummer.

Michael is convinced there is something supernatural afoot and hires a paranormal investigator who ends up trying to shoot the ghost only to have his hand exploded and get tossed around the room till dead. This all culminates with a Mardi Gras party at Star Bodies as women are being melted with acid in the basement, yet omitting no odor, and pools or recently crushed to death clients are still being mopped up at the food station. You really get a sense of a broken community of fitness enthusiasts as they all gather, get drunk and party down while fucking like jack rabbits in the sauna room. Hey, like they say, grieve in the way that makes you feel good.

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Before long, the killer is revealed, the horrifying and laughable incidents reach their fever pitch as people get their hands stuck in blends, people suddenly have wooden chunks hanging out of their heads with no explanation as to how they got there as a topless woman screams at the implication of this, and this might be the one film I’ve seen where flying zombie fish attack someone sending geysers of crimson spraying across the walk in freezer. It’s truly spectacular.

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Michael decides the only way to kill the vengeful, possessing spirit of his undead wife is to…electrify himself after telling her he will show her fried chicken? He starts shaking and spiting and the ghost which is highly flammable (who knew?) begins burning as she unloads her murderous ghostly powers to lock everyone in the party and send them to Hell one by one.  Michael, may I remind you, is a mortal man and walks away from his deadly electrocution TOTALLY unharmed while the ghost of his dead wife burns…back to death? In the computer room up stairs. Our “heroes” make their way out of the gym while all the other extras trample one another and burn to death. The movie ends, hysterically, with the burned into a bloody, gooey skeleton of Catherine, Michael’s jealous, vengeful ghost ex-wife (Shari Shattuck of The Naked Cage fame) as it vows even further revenge on Michael, his current fuck buddy AND his mother fucking gym! All before gagging on her own drippy insides and her eyes explodes like a giant zit. FREEZE FRAME! ROLL THOSE CREDITS!

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Gang, I am here to tell you my descriptions of the content of Death Spa do not get anywhere close to doing this hunk of Grade A Trash the justice it deserves.  With it’s over the top, outrageous gore effects, lack of respect of it’s characters, actors and audience’s intelligence, Death spa makes with the goods, spewing fourth some gratuitous, mean spirited gore, some extended gratuitous nudity, and there is plenty to go round! It;s basically the all you can eat buffet of trash cinema exploitation all wrapped up in one poorly written, awkwardly executed and endlessly entertaining supernatural splatterfest.

Plenty of Blood, Breast and Beasts! Death Spa is a nasty little piece of dreck sure to liven up any Trash Cinema Night you and yours plan to have. The Primal Root says check it out!

I award Death Spa FIVE out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets! Only for true Trash Cinema Aficionados.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

 

 

 




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