Posts Tagged ‘shooting

02
Jun
18

(NSFW) Recruits (1986): Tittyzens on Patrol

 

recruits

a Primal Root review

“Break and enter, gross indecency, attempted murder, sexual assault with intent to rape… Do you think they’ll keep me in jail for this?” – Howie Gluckstein, introducing himself in Recruits (1986)

The Police Academy films were a staple of my childhood. The plethora of sequels to this unfathomably long running Steve Guttenberg franchise were constantly being played on HBO and I remember being in the single digits and begging my Mom to rent any sequel to the series. Was I, even at that young age, a fan of seeing figures of authority portrayed as buffoons? I doubt it was anything like that, I’m pretty sure it was just the stupid slapstick humor and vibrant, unabashed perverse sense of humor. Hell, it was the franchise that introduced to me the concept of the leather clad gay biker bar YEARS before Nightmare on Elm Street part 2: Freddy’s Revenge had a chance to.  But, I digress…

Now, going back and watching these movies, I have no idea what exactly the appeal was of that very first Police Academy film. Sure, it had some great comedic talent, but for the most part, I feel a lot of it was wasted and it just wasn’t that impressively funny, let alone, six sequels and a seventh Mission to Moscow funny.

Which brings me to Recruits from 1986, the first in a series of one Canadian made Police Academy knock-offs that, to my own amazement, beats Police Academy at it’s own game and delivers. Sure, there were at least a half dozen imitators that followed in Police Academy’s wake like, Feds, Night Patrol, Off Beat, Moving Violations, etc. But few did it with a down and dirty purity like the highly perverted and sleaze saturated Recruits.

The basic story is as follows: Sgt. Hardbutt has two weeks to recruit a civilian team to protect the Governor who is coming to town, but they must be so inept, he can pull off an assassination of the Governor in order to promote the Mayor and then replace the position as Mayor Hardbutt. So, he plunders the darkest corners of his prison to recruit about a dozen perverts, sex workers, drunkards, and violent offenders in order to assemble his team of misfits who he then has his Master Sgt. Stonewall actually train like their in a military academy for those two weeks to the point they are actually kind of okay cops by the end.

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We are introduced to this group of characters as they fall prey to their own corrupt and immoral behavior before getting arrested, all of which typically involved exposed female breasts, which becomes apparent real quick, to be the bread and butter of this film. Our main character and Chris Pratt prototype, Mike Budowsky (Doug Annear) is arrested while dressed as a lobster and banging the Mayor’s daughter Lobster style at a fundraising event for her father. Winston and Steve stalk the beach and have an elaborate scam to sexually assault women that involves a hazmat suit and saying they need women to remove their bikinis so they can check them for signs of radiation, which the women eventually smile and do happily once they realize these men are just trying to assault them, tops to the sand, boobs a plenty. And of course, Howie, the four eyed yacht cleaner by trade, who slips and falls into the cuddy cabin of a boat he happens to be cleaning and face first into a smiling naked woman’s bare breasts, who is all about it, until her muscle head boyfriend busts in the room and has him arrested for attempted rape, sexual assault, gross indecency and…attempted murder?

Starting to get the picture?

There’s scene after scene with hardly any connective tissue at all. Here’s some examples. Scene: Female recruit mock arrests our main character and tells him to unpack the “gun” from his pants, of course, they whip out their low back throbber and every one marvels at the size of his appendage which, of course, is kept totally off screen. CUT! Next Scene:  The Recruits are handed guns with live rounds and no training and are expected to hit targets, of course, they end up firing bullets into police headquarters and right through the Sergeants coffee mug. CUT! Next Scene: Howie is caught LITERALLY cleaning his gun while in bed, but German seductress Sgt. Schicklgruber (Colleen Passard) assumes he’s beating off, strips down to her elaborate display of underwear, before grabbing his weapon and it fires into the ceiling leaving the two in awkward, stunned silence. CUT! Next scene: Two guys end up in bed together under false pretenses thinking they’re with women, exchange a passionate kiss and then spend two minutes of screen time screaming at one another and spitting on the ground. CUT! Next Scene: Add an absolutely adorable motorcycle training sequence where Jon Mikl Thor of Zombie Nightmare fame, as Thunderhead does some rather lackluster, but supposedly mind blowing stunts, the old, drunk geezer recruit continually falls of his motorcycle and the Mayor’s daughter keeps her bike in place, but grinds her lady bits into the seat as the motor roars and she groans in ecstasy.

Recruits cover

And this bizarre form of comedic story telling, honestly, works in the films favor. You don’t care about the characters at all, but it’s all so goddamn stupid and poorly executed that it works in spite of itself. It’s like a really dumb dog trying to catch a frisbee. It wants to, and it’s trying really hard, but the frisbee keeps hitting the poor, drooling, stupidly happy dog in the face who just keeps smiling like an idiot with it’s tongue dangling out. It’s adorable and you can’t help but love it for all it’s simple minded flaws.

Now, of course, in the year 2018 just about ALL of these jokes have not aged well. Most assuredly the majority of the jokes revolve around women being either totally butt nekkid or topless due to someone ripping off their blouse accidentally…or what seems to be totally on purpose. Let me tell you, I have seen plenty of Trashy movies in my day, and I can with all honesty say, I have NEVER in my viewing experiences EVER seen this many pairs of bare female breasts in one movie. If a woman shows up on screen, chances are you are going to see her tits. Sure, the first five minutes you see about three pairs of tits and it gets an awkward chuckle, “This is funny?” But by the twenty minute mark, what becomes hilarious, is seeing to what lengths the filmmakers will go to justify the gag of a woman having her breasts exposed for the camera. It ludicrous and astoundingly perverted, but seeing a film so tit happy is kind of remarkable. I guess boobs were much funnier in the 1980’s than they are today. Seems like wieners have taken over as the comic relief piece of the human anatomy in the new millennium. Which is fine, but man, do I miss all those boobs…

Another repeated gag that has aged pretty poorly, is the gag attributed to a recruit named Clint. Clint is a character who’s hilarious characteristic is how gun happy he is. He shoots at everyone. Jay walkers, tiny children going faster than him on their big wheels, etc. This day and age, I don’t think anyone is laughing at trigger happy policemen and is a joke that would never be made nowadays, unless it’s Sandra Bullock shooting off a man’s genitals. It lent itself to some uncomfortable laughs and knowing “holy shit” looks exchanged between Bootsie Kidd and I, but this would not even make it onto the page these days.

There’s even a strange racially charged scene where an African Canadian recruit, Winston, goes into a country western bar, trying to emulate Eddie Murphy’s character from 48 Hours (his own words). Winston, once intimidated by the racist white trash rednecks that inhabit the place after he orders a black russian, states that he is a cop. When this tactic fails, Winston claims he has multiple personality disorder, then gets the shit kicked out of him and thrown out of the bar. He later rectifies this situation with a leopard he brings into the western bar at the end of the film to maul the rednecks to death. It’s a very awkward character arc with very little comedic delivery, but it pays off in all kinds of awkward.

All these half hazardly strewn together scenes and story arcs lead to the attempted assassination of The Governor via civial war cannon… because Sgt. Hardbutt wants a “big bang.” The Governor is driven to town by two naked recruits he interrupted while they were fucking, he has the top to the convertible dropped down to he and his wife can wave to their supporters, and all Hell breaks loose! The cannon misses, obliterates the stage, the crowd erupts into a riot, the nekkid recruits literally scream “WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE!” Before running for their lives wearing nothing but their police issued hats, boobs bouncing, and Howie crashes his motorcycle into the back of The Governor’s car, does a back flip of the trunk, grab’s the Governor’s wife’s blouse and rips it off (of course) exposing her huge breasts for the world to see. THE ARISTOCRATS!

As you might imagine, the recruits are fired, but not before, for some reason, the mayor hires them all back because the rest of the police for quits or goes on strike or something. For whatever reason, the city is experiencing riots and looting and the only people who can put an end to it are The Recruits! They suit up and go to work using their highly illegal methods, my favorite is the use of teenage baton twirlers to savagely crush the testicles of a half dozen rednecks looting a farmer’s market, to crack down on the epidemic of crime. Paul Verhoven would later use this plot point to greater effect in 1987’s ROBOCOP.

Will the recruits prove that Sgt. Hardbutt and Master Sgt. Stonewall are the culprits behind the assassination attempt of The Governor? Will they be reinstated as actual police officers so they won’t have to go back to their low paying lives as sexual assaulters? And, most importantly, how many more bare female breasts can we cram into the run time of this fucking movie? I can answer that one for you, AS MANY AS POSSIBLE!

Recruits shouldn’t work. Especially over twenty years later.Recruits is unrelentingly dumb. An artifact from the past filled with politically incorrect humor, unabashed perversion, and the most gratuitous movie I’ve ever seen in a genre picture of this ilk in my entire life in Trash Cinema. Mix all these ingredients together, and you have aGrade A slice of beautifully realized Trash Cinema Comedy Gold well worth the revisit.

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

Available to rent on glorious VHS at Tallahassee’s Own Cap City Video Lounge! Or watch it on youtube in it’s uncensored entirety.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

22
Apr
15

The Taint (2010) Filth Beyond Your Wildest Dreams (NSFW)

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a Primal Root written review

“No one’s going to stop anything ever again!”

Gang, in the world of current Trash Cinema I am seldom supremely impressed anymore. It’s easy to shock people or gross them out, but to entertain while doing so? Not since John Waters or Lloyd Kaufman have I seen a filmmaker who can pull it off so seamlessly. Enter, filmmakers Drew Bulduc and Dan Nelson and their exemplarily slice of down and dirty filth, The Taint. Not since Pink Flamingos have I been this genuinely entertained and repulsed by a movie. Here’s the low down…

The Taint is the story of a very different kind of apocalypse. The world’s water supply becomes tainted by a mysterious chemical which affects only men, making their cocks grow ridiculously large, spew goopy man milk through the air, and drives them to homicidal rage towards women, whom they dispatch in graphic, nasty, hysterical ways. We learn of this taint through an excellent opening credit sequences that explicitly shows the spread of the chemical agent through our world and just how vast it’s reach is. I’m not going to spoil it, but we do get to see just how and why this chemical agent was created and how it ended up contaminating our water supply. Trust me, it’s a story well worth witnessing.

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As society collapses a handful of survivors must come to terms with this new world of brutal violence,  constantly hard, violently ejaculating cocks and men who have become monsters, constantly looking for female skulls to crush. Two survivors, Phill O’Ginny (Drew Bolduc) a man-whore teenage skater who’s too cool for school and Misandra (Colleen Walsh) a shot gun toting, take no prisoners feminist badass must band together in the heat of this armageddon to do battle with the hordes of psychopaths, both tainted and un-tainted, and face down their personal demons in order to pave their own way in this terrifying new world order.

The Taint is the most brashly wonderful and original piece of trash cinema I’ve seen in what feels like an eternity. It is a film of uncommon grotesqueries to match it’s extraordinary intelligence. The jokes and gags are made so much stronger due to the wit behind them. Sure, you’re witnessing mindless death and destruction filled with puke, piss, shit, tits and dicks, but it’s all handled with such confidence and savvy, that it is goddamn impossible to not be thoroughly entertained. I could not wait to see where this fucking madman of a movie was going to take me next. The score, which is fucking spectacular and composed by Drew Bolduc, feels like a beautiful mix of John Carpenter at his very best mixed by Daft Punk and then fucked an 8-Bit video game.

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The Taint never lets up, never slows down and is never short of incredible concepts, savage strangeness or fantastic energy. It feels like the most amazing backyard movie project ever filmed. There’s even an underlying and interesting subtext broaching such subjects as post-feminist society, misogyny and misandry in American culture. We watch as women are killed, their blood spraying through the air as men jerk off and laugh while watching. In another scene, a woman mentions how all men will eventually turn into this a monster, lusting after the destruction of women…and then we can;t help but laugh as a rock hard cock gets shoved through her skull and out her face before a young man packing heat blows the cock off and calls the cock wielder a misogynist. It’s ludicrous and hysterical but at least it’s trying to strike the conversation up. And for this, I totally commend The Taint.

I am in love with this film. I am going to go buy a copy, abduct people, tie them to the couch and make them watch it. Well, maybe just continually invite a steady stream of my Trash Cinema loving friends over to witness The Taint‘s greatness. If we still lived in a world with art house cinemas and drive-in theaters, The Taint would be an instant Midnight Movie classic. Why The Taint is not a sensation, I have no clue. But I will preach the gospel of The Taint to my last dying breath. Gang, this is Trash Cinema at it’s very finest. virtuoso filmic filth. YOU MUST SEE THIS! Find a copy, come over to my house, or attend a Trash Cinema Night at Bird’s Aphrodisiac Oyster Shack one day when we screen it. IF you love what Drive-In Movies once were, witness the second coming. The Taint is one of the funniest, nastiest, most ceaselessly entertaining flicks I’ve ever seen.

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FIVE out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets! INSTANT TRASH CINEMA CLASSIC!

Stay Trashy!

-Root

10
Jul
14

Shakedown (1988) Law and Disorder

shakedown-poster

a Primal Root written review

Sam Elliott and Peter Weller are my guys. I’ll see just about anything featuring either of these two actors due to their excellent body of work , both Trashy and Embraced by the Masses. Come on, Elliott’s the main reason to visit Swayze’s “Road House” (1989), not to mention his turn as the enigmatic Stranger in the seldom seen lost classic, “The Big Lebowski (1998)  and Peter Weller’s filmography is basically a who’s who of sci-fi cult cinema, from Paul Verhoeven’s 1987 action  masterpiece, “Robocop” to 1984’s bomb-come-cult flick, “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension.”  And, as we all know, when two legends cross paths, one must always pay strict attention.

To my own shock and amazement, “Shakedown,” a film featuring two icons of cinematic strangeness, and strange plot that takes your from the heights of wacky action to the morose happenings of a court room drama and every imaginable place between, is not heralded as I had originally imagined upon hearing of it’s existence. I am hoping to correct that issue with this review.

Shakedown takes place on the tough, unforgiving streets of New York City and it’s tough, unforgiving courtrooms. It’s a tale of police corruption, murder and badass action sequences. The film begins with a big time drug dealer having to defend his life from a crazed cracker who shows up, asks for a fix, then pulls a gun on him. The cracker ends up dead as rat shit while our drug dealer, Michael (Richard Brooks), ends up wounded and on trial for the murder of a cop who never identified himself and was obviously looking to steal the gentleman’s crops and money. Thankfully, we see Michael press the REC button on his ghetto blaster, but the film forgets all about that until the last act of the movie once it becomes a life or death situation.

Thankfully for Michael the drug dealer, he has two of the coolest mother fuckers ever to live in New York City on his side. We’re talking public defender and avid Jimi Hendrix fan,  Roland Dalton (Peter “Don’t Call Me Buckaroo” Weller) and grimy, greased up, 42nd street undercover cop, Richie Marks (Sam Elliot, as grizzled and awesome as ever.)  Upon hearing of the case, Roland swoops down to defend Michael against the Good Old Boys club of the NYPD who are more than willing to make people disappear in order to cover up their own crimes and deceptions. The thing Roland doesn’t realize is that he will be facing down his old flame, Susan Cantrell, (Patricia Charbonneau) the new District Attorney in this murder case. And wouldn’t you know it, this is all happening on the eve of Roland’s marriage to the young and wholly unlikable Gail Feinberger (Blanche Baker) whose Father just so happens to head the biggest law firm in the city, which means Roland will become a partner and spend his life defending the rich and powerful and making sure those with the money get to keep it. Thankfully, this recent case, plus late night discussions with his district attorney ex-girlfriend, who acts as a cock riding Jiminy Cricket, has led to Roland’s reevaluation of the whole situation. Does he want to continue taking on cases for those who are innocent of any wrong doing but society wants them punished anyway, or to live a life with a woman who scolds him for listening to rock and roll too load in the morning while blending home made Orange Julius’s and wiping the asses of spoiled, rich old geezers? Decisions, decisions…

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To help uncover any evidence pertaining to the case and delve into the police corruption itself, Roland meets up with his old pal, undercover cop, Richie in the shit stained, syringe covered restroom of a dilapidated 42nd Street grindhouse. Over a few drinks in one of New York’s many watering holes, the two decide to team up and put the hurt of the NYPD’s most crooked cops, when Michael’s case and hopefully put away some scumbag pigs in the process.

Now, don’t get me wrong, the law and order proceedings that take place in the court room and are discussed in between the opposing legal team’s fuck sessions are really interesting, but the real stars of “Shakedown” are the go for broke, mind blowing, action sequences scattered throughout the film to keep you from being too mellow. While Roland is either defending or banging, Richie is chasing and beating the snot out of New York’s nastiest criminals and cops on his quest for the truth. The man is willing to use 42nd Street theater neon lights as means to leap onto the top of moving busses while opening fire on suspects! The guy chases a man onto a carnival roller coaster before starting it up and ensuring the car derails thereby sending the criminal soaring to his hysterical death! And, in probably, the greatest action sequence I have ever witnessed, Sam Elliot, as Richie, with the aid of Roland and his Porsche, manages to chase down a private jet. climb onto the jet’s landing gear as it takes off, ride that landing gear to a height where the roof of the World Trade Tower’s are visible; toss a grenade inside and then leap into the ocean before the plane lands and explodes. Yes, Richie survives with no damage worse than a wet pair of Levi’s.

shakedown flight

It’s that combination of serious, intelligent courtroom drama and Gonzo, batshit crazy action that really makes 1988’s “Shakedown” possibly one of the strangest yet endlessly entertaining action films of the 1980’s. A lot of the appeal is derived from watching the film’s two leading men bring the big bad guys to justice as well as watching Peter Weller and Sam Elliott, two very likable cult actors, pal around and makes jokes with one another. These gentlemen never ascended to the pantheon of great action stars like Arnold, Sly and Bruce. No, Peter has become more well known a a science fiction character actor and Sam, outside of The Big Lebowski, is a bit more recognized as a western cinema staple. But here, watching the two unlikely actors turned action stars, one cannot help but marvel as they spray gun fire, make death defying leaps from buildings and spout witty retorts and villains burn to death. It’s like watching the high school A.V. geek and the guy in shop class who never bathes joining forces to crack down on high school crime. To put it bluntly, it’s a mother fucking hoot to behold.

Also, another highlight of the film for me, is that “Shakedown” features New York’s 42nd Street RIGHT before gentrification took hold, the theaters were dismantled, and the strip steadily became home to Disney stores and McDonald’s and attracted more tourists than locals. It’s a final swan song to what was once a sleazy, filthy, dangerous playground, A place of legend that is no more. Watching some good goddamn action sequences explode across this neon sodom is quite a spectacle to behold, but also a lovingly rendered final look at a place that now only exists in memory and cinema.

“Shakedown” is a one of a kind action film. Feeling like Law and Order by way of Robert Rodriguez and Michael Bay’s love child, “Shakedown” mixes together ingredients that should by no means make a tasty concoction, but manages to deliver something unique, exciting, fun and shockingly entertaining. You will be pulled in by the human drama and then blown out of your seat with astonishment and laughter as one rock ’em sock ’em action scene after another pummels you over the head with it’s bizarre and warped sense of reality. My friends, “Shakedown” must truly be seen to be believed.

“Shakedown” will shake your beliefs in action cinema to the ground. Watch it brace yourself for an awakening and an injection of pure, undiluted Trash.

I give “Shakedown” THREE and a HALF out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

10
Mar
14

Funland (1987) Dancing with the Angel of Death

funland

a Primal Root written review

As a lifelong Floridian, with The Magic Kingdom and Universal Studios close by,  you grow up having a special kind of understanding of the amusement park business.  I’m sure to those who travel hundreds or thousands of miles and spend entire fortunes to come visit our state’s economic clit ticklers still feel the magic when walking down main street while wearing your short Dad shorts and fanny pack  in the skull liquifying summer heat or  watching film legend Brendan Frasier mug for the camera as they are thrown around on the indoor roller coaster based on the contemporary cinematic classic, “The Mummy Returns”, but for those of us in Florida who take a stroll through these parks on an almost annual basis, we can tell you there’s some shady shit going on just beneath the fairy tale surface…

This just might be why 1987’s bizarre, skit heavy, amusement park centered comedy/psychological drama “Funland” holds a special place in my rotten, filthy, heart.  “Funland” is one very strange, very off kilter film filled with a dozen or so ideas of which only about a half of them ever take root and really make an impression.

Funland is preparing for another season of family friendly fun and attractions, with hundreds of new recruits just chomping at the bit to press the “START” button on the park’s rides,  clean brat puke off the sidewalks or sell concessions at the ridiculously racist “Fresh Watermelon” stand! Most excited of all is Bruce Burger (David L. Lander, Squiggy from Lavern and Shirley), the clown mascot of “Funland” who was once the head accountant before suffering a complete mental breakdown that left him believing he is the actual incarnation of the parks clown mascot, Bruce Burger. See, the park’s owner, Angus (William Windom) believes in loyalty over profits, and keeps this mentally unstable man on board as Bruce Burger.  It’s a sweet, home spun gesture, but Angus soon meets his end the way most decent men do,  found dead face down in a body of water under mysterious circumstances.  his wife soon after sells the entire business to the mob who are only concerned about the bottom line an begin filling the park with less family friendly attractions like the Celebrity Death and Disease exhibit and dismantling the musical showcase in order to replace it with strippers.. In all honesty, I might actually go to an amusment park with these kind of attractions.

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The mob also decides to fire Bruce Burger and brings in the “National” Bruce Burger whose played by a  classically trained actor who constantly complains about his job and reminisces about his thespian history ad nauseam.  Bruce takes refuge in the recently closed down wax museum and finds solace in long conversations with a hallucination of Humphrey Bogart  (Robert Sacchi, who pulls off an excellent impression of bogie) and a sausage puppet. Bruce continues living at the park and dressing the part, but his hallucinations and psychosis continue to grow worse, culminating in a strange moment in the Funland cafeteria when the gentleman behind the lunch counter begin rapping, The Angel of Death appears briefly, never to be seen again, and the entire crowd drops what they’re doing and start moving and a groovin’. Once this hallucinatory episode comes an end  the ghost of Angus shows up to grab a bite to eat with Bruce and to divulge the horrible truth, he was murdered. So, it is decided over a game of poker between Bruce and his three most prominent hallucinations  to take action. Bruce steals a mafioso’s gun, heads to the top of the theme parks clock tower and opens fire over the strenuous objections of the talking sausage puppet.

“Funland” is among the most bizarre Trash Cinema videos I’ve ever watched.  David L. Lander as Bruce Burger does a damn fine job portraying the gradual mental collapse of Bruce Burger, a man already teetering ont he edge of total insanity. to the film’s credit, Bruce’s steady decline is hardly ever played for laughs. If the awkward, out of place gags featured in “Funland” were edited out you’d have a far darker film on your hands. but, in a way, all the attempts at levity give the movie an even more disturbing quality. One stand out sequence features the aforementioned “Fresh Watermelon” stand where a white junior manager is giving instructions to the four black men who will be working the stand.  The junior manager asks “Is anyone good with knives” and all the black men back away in fear. Can someone tell me just what the Hell this means? What are these guys afraid of? Was there a scene missing where the junior manager stabs a man to death?

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When it’s all said and done, “Funland” is far from a  perfect film, but it is the kind of film that you want to watch to the bitter end simply because it’s so unpredictable, so looney and has so many goddamn plot elements you’ll be dying to see how it all gels together. Seldom do you come across a film that manages to undercut it’s amateur execution and redeem it by way of own it’s twisted, surreal  logic.  It’s constantly quirky and strange making all the logical sense of a fever dream.  To my own amazement, this works in the films favor and makes for an enjoyable, head scratcher of a flick.  For fans of unique, one of a kind, absolutely bonkers trash cinema, “Funland” is one you should really check out.

I give “Funland” Four and a Half out of Five Dumpster Nuggets

Stay Trashy!

-Root

03
Mar
14

All the Boys Love Mandy Lane (2006) Teen Angst Armageddon

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a Primal Root review

I gotta say, I look back on my high school years somewhat fondly. Enough time has rolled by now that I can selectively choose the times and moments I care to look back upon with the bittersweet twinge of nostalgia tugging at my steadily aging, withering, heart strings and marvel at how fleeting those four years of my time here in this world were. Still, upon closer inspection, high school was a pretty tricky, nasty little piece of the human experience. Sure, I had it pretty well , but everyone had their hangups and hurts, no matter how confident they came across. It all seemed to mean so much and it felt like everything was at stake. It’s a time when the politics of social interaction are driven home and our lifelong insecurities are so often set in stone. It’s a time of growth, cruelty and burgeoning sexuality. Let’s face it, sometimes it was like a fresh slice of Hell.

This is just where “All the Boys Love Mandy Lane” drops us in the middle of, Teen Angst Armageddon time as Amber Heard’s Mandy Lane walks through the halls of her high school and every male eyeball present happens to find it’s gaze dropping upon her blossoming bosom or her noticeably curvaceous posteriors. In the seething cauldron of pubescent hormonal Hell, known as high school, it is to be expected. But as the film plays out, these glances prove to be the tip of an iceberg leading to the flick’s M.O.

See, every inhabitant of this high school possessing a cock and set of balls are in a strange, deep seeded lust for Mandy Lane. According to rumor, she’s still a virgin, (which is some kind of mythic wonder for high school boys. He who deflowers has the power? I dunno, the logic of cherry popping being a big deal, some transcendent moment, has always baffled me) and has become a pro at haulting the advances of the nonstop barrage of  young bucks just aching to stick their drippy teenage jerky basters down her unclaimed love tunnel.  It’s actually quite disturbing watching guy after guy try coaxing and pressuring her into having sex with them. “You don’t know how hot you are.” and ” We’re all trying to get you.” are some of the incredibly tactful lines used by these walking hard-ons in the hopes of being “the first.” When their advances are not met with submission with a smile, many of these fellows respond with frustrated anger and lash out. Yeah, I wonder why this young woman’s not interested?

All The Boys Love Mandy Lane

During an opening scene at a high school pool party we get to experience such a moment close up and personal as a bleach blonde jock puts the moves on Mandy Lane before being interrupted by Mandy’s best dude friend, Emmet (Michael Welch). Before you can say, “I am a Golden God” Emmet has this jockular dickhead convinced that the only was to win Mandy Lane’s heart is to jump off the roof of the house and into the pool. Jocko Homo declares his love for Mandy from the roof and jumps to his death as his skull smashes open on the edge of the pool. I think this was supposed to be horrifying, but it made me laugh out loud. Sorry, something about how the moment was executed had tickled my sick little funny bone.  This is possibly the movie’s inciting incident, as we fast forward to 9 months later and it appears Emmet and Mandy Lane are no longer on speaking terms.

Think 9 months has changed anything? Hell no, all the boys are still looking to lay a coat of Mandy’s virgin blood all over their pussy pokers. This lusting even inspires a rare slasher film soliloquy from one of the boys as he watches her jog around the  schools track…

“There she is boys, Mandy Lane. Untouched, pure. Since the dawn of junior year men have tried to possess her, and to date all have failed. Some have even died in their reckless pursuit of this angel.”

In fact, this young stoner, by the name of Red (Aaron Himelstein), has invited Mandy and group of fellow classmates out to his Father’s ranch for a weekend of acting like idiots, doing drugs, and high pressuring every woman in sight into having sex with them. Believe it, or not, Mandy Lane agrees to go along with these horny teen dogs out for blood.

The first quarter of “All the Boys Love Mandy Lane” has an unrelentingly dark, mean spirited tone that bodes well for the rest of the picture as we witness the teens fervently cutting one another down as a means of making themselves feel superior. There’s a teenage power struggle going on as the girls claim one another are fat, that someone has far too much pubic hair and the the fragile male ego is bruised when one man is singled out as having the smallest dick at the table during a game of truth or dare.  As fascinating as all this is, after a short while it all just feels like a retread of Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter with a slightly dull emo edge to it. Before long, the teens are butchered one by one in some grisly ways, but none too shocking, and the film falls into the typical slasher conventions where there are no real surprises or shocks to be found. And the film’s slasher, who is obvious from the get-go, is revealed at nearly the halfway point and makes a pretty lackluster boogeyman.

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By the end, when the final twist is revealed and a confrontation in a mass grave filled the corpses of over a dozen diseased, rotting, heads of cattle I was totally dumbstruck and left wondering what the character motivations were to begin with. Just what in the Hell was happening during the flick’s runtime that I missed? By not establishing any of this characterization in the previous two acts, this revelation comes totally out of left field and never quite feels justified. But, perhaps if you look at the people who are now dead, the justification speaks for itself…in an angst high school teen sort of way.

Throughout the film, Mandy Lane keeps a pretty cool, detached demeanor without a whole lot of humanity. Mandy is curvy, gorgeous,  and innocent but never gets fully fleshed out as a character, but that might be entirely the point, as the male and female characters alike only see her as a sexual conquest, and not quite human at all. Through it all, everyone wants a piece of the elusive, untouched, mysterious Mandy Lane and by the film’s end, we don’t get to have her either.

“All the Boys Love Mandy Lane” was  the directorial debut of Jonathan Levine, who would go on to direct the damn fine film “50/50” and that zombie romantic comedy I just cannot bring myself to watch, “Warm Bodies”,  this plus the film’s long delayed release has garnered “Mandy Lane”  a bit of a cult fascination. Watching “All the Boys Love Mandy Lane” I can see it having a much bigger impact in 2006, not only in theaters, but with me personally. It feels a little off balanced and falls short in  it’s story telling. That being said, there are some fun performances, a handful of good deaths, ONE pair of breasts, and one excellent final fight in a mud hole filled with rotten cows.  It’s worth checking out, just don’t expect Mandy Lane to give it all up that easy. All well intention and good effort at creating a genre deconstructing slasher flick that concentrate a considerable amount of it’s time and effort focusing on teenage gender roles and individual insecurities. Again, much like high school itself, “All the Boys Love Mandy Lane” is small potatoes.

I’m giving “Mandy Lane” TWO and a HALF out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

09
Feb
14

(NSFW) The Naked Cage (1986): Women on the Verge of a Nervous Shanking

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a Primal Root written review

What is the appeal of a women in prison movie? Could it be the hardened women struggling for power and survival behind bars? The depiction of corrupt officials and politics behind prison walls and how it mirrors our own government? Or is it simply the fact we are almost guaranteed some gratuitous female shower scenes? I ask you, why can’t it be all of the above?

“The Naked Cage”, directed by Paul Nicholas and produced by Cannon, marks what many consider to be among the last truly great women in prison flicks, a genre that became popular and peaked in the mid to late 1970’s.  “The Naked Cage” tells the story of a young, blonde, nubile bank teller and bareback horse rider, Michelle (Shari Shattuck) who ends up getting sentenced to three years in a vicious women’s prison after her bonehead, coke head ex-husband decides to pull a stocking over his head and rob the bank where Michelle works. Of course, none of this would have happened if Michelle’s ex hadn’t recently gotten mixed up with the sexy, murderous, psychotic escaped convict, Rita (Christina Whitaker) who likes killing cops and having cocaine snorted off of her nipples (true story). Michelle ends up unwittingly getting pulled into the heist, which ends in a bizarre getaway that consists of driving around the bank parking lot several times and then in blood, and is thrown in jail after Rita testifies that Michelle was the ringleader of the heist. Me thinks Michelle should get herself a better lawyer.

Michelle takes her sentencing in stride, maintains a good attitude and makes friends quickly with her fellow inmates including her bunk mate and former junky Amy (Stacey Shaffer) and the badass,  muscular behemoth , Sheila (Faith Minton) who runs things on their cell block.  However, Michelle doesn’t quite see eye to eye with the prison’s warden, Diane (Angel Tompkins from one of my favorites, “The Teacher”) who conducts bizarre lesbian BDSM sex games with whichever inmates tickle her fancy. Also on the loose is a sadistic prison guard known as Smiley (Nick Benedict) who takes great pleasure in raping and then murdering female inmates before trying to pass it off as suicides. He justifies this to the warden by explaining “This job is shitty, I might as well do something I enjoy!” It’s not an exact quote, but something along those lines…

I wonder if the warden in "The Shawshank Redemption" ever had Andy dress like this and rub his shoulders?

I wonder if the warden in “The Shawshank Redemption” ever had Andy dress like this and rub his shoulders?

Life behind bars doesn’t treat Michelle that bad, at first. But soon, Rita is released from the hospital, where she was recovering from the bank robbery car chase, and is thrown into prison on the same cell block as Michelle. Rita and Warden Diane join forces and once Rita takes down Sheila, the Warden gives Rita the go ahead to enact her revenge on Michelle. Revenge for what, exactly? Not so sure, seeing as Michelle had little to nothing to do withe the bank robbery turning into a bullet riddled botched bloodbath.  I have this feeling Rita might be projecting her own feelings of inadequacy and failure as a bank robber on to Michelle. Listen, killing Michelle won’t change the fact that you robbed a bank after snorting a mountain of cocaine, let your getaway car get blocked in, and then drove a stolen car in circles around the bank’s parking lot while the police unloaded their weapons into it and you.  Honey, that’s nobody’s fault but yours.

Rita quickly turns the prisons order of power on it’s head, dispatching those who protect Michelle, and turning her closest friends against her.  But Michelle is far more cunning than Rita realizes. As the tables turn, Michelle learns to rely on herself and takes dead aim at Rita and during a violent, awesome prison riot, the two meet in one of the down and dirtiest female convict cat fights I’ve ever seen.

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“The Naked Cage” is a glorious, spitfire of a women in prison film. One of the very last of a dwindling, glorious Drive-In culture. What really sets it apart is that, despite the conventions and obligatory women in prison cliches, is that “The Naked Cage” takes the time to create so really interesting, believable characters. It pulls off one of those rarest of  exploitation tricks where the viewer ends up actually liking characters and are genuinely saddened when certain folks end up being killed off.  By this point in Trash Cinema history, the women in prison genre had become more satirized and played for laughs or simply to titillate an audience rather  than deliver genuine dramatic story telling. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with the formerly mentioned brand of women in prison flick, Hell, I love a good goofy romp through a prison filled with nekkid women. Sure, there’s some campy, goofy bits in “The Naked Cage” like the exceedingly awkward scenes with Angel Tompkins rotating her shoulders topless with random female inmates in her neon light clad secret love chamber as they seduce one another, but overall the film plays it pretty straight if not a little over the top. There is something to be admired about a movie of this breed that does all it can to tell a convincing crime story on an exceedingly low budget and not fall back on cheap laughs.  “The Naked Cage” is bold, goes for the your throat and doesn’t let up. Damn fine stuff and one Hell of a send off to a once proliferating genre.

Oh, and there are plenty of shower scenes and gratuitous full frontal nudity.

I give “The Naked Cage” Three and a Half out of Five Dumpster Nuggets

Stay Trashy!

-Root

26
Jan
14

Ms. 45 (1981): Vengeance be a Lady or Bullets Over Ballsack

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a Primal Root written review

In the late 70’s and early 80’s horror and exploitation cinema saw a rise in the popularity of the “rape/revenge” sub-genre. In a film of this nature, a woman or man is raped and violated followed by the person violated, or someone close to them, going on a roaring rampage of blood soaked revenge against those who have so violently attacked them or those they love.  Movies like “I Spit on your Grave”,  “Deliverance”, “Last House on the Left”, “Straw Dogs” and countless others were all part of this trend towards vigilante revenge fantasy films, where innocence is raped and the victim must seek their vengeance.  My own idea why this sort of sub-genre sprung up and became so popular were the crime statistics of the time and the general unease in society that the system, and those sworn to protect us, weren’t up to the task and that the only way for us to survive was to take matters into our own hands. The rape/revenge film taps into that deep, dark, fantasy where the victim gets the last laugh against the low lives who savaged them.  In most cases there is a clear line between good and evil and the vengeance is always righteous and well justified in the viewers eye. This evil redneck sodomized this young woman for an hour, so she cuts his dick off and lets him bleed to death in her lovely Airbnb log cabin rentals art deco bathroom. You get to cheer on these folks as they fight fire with fire and watch with glee as the wicked are punished.  It’s a very base, primal formula and story.

Enter Abel Ferrara’s 1981 “Ms. 45″ (aka: Angel of Vengeance”), the story of Thana, a young, mute seamstress working for an up and coming fashion designer and living in New York City where there just so happens to be a constant single file line of sleazeballs and scum bags garnishing the streets, ogling women, and serenading them with wolf whistles and cat calls as they walk by. We get to experience this uncomfortable, sexist deluge through the female POV came of those unlucky ladies having to ignore and endure this harassment and MAN is it effective.  As Thana makes her way home from work she is accosted and raped at gun point in broad daylight down an alleyway by a man in a Halloween mask. Before departing, the man threatens that he’ll be back before booking it off into the sunset and surely haunting Thana’s every waking moment for the rest of her life. And in one terrifying moment, actually does appear as a nightmarish phantom hallucination to Thana as she tries to undress and take a shower after the attack.

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Thana, in shock, makes her way back to her apartment only to find a burglar has broken in and is waiting for her. Again, she is raped at gunpoint…but this time she strikes back and bashes her assailant’s skull in with an iron. As she begins disposing of attackers dead body, which she has sawed into several pieces and begun depositing all over New York City wrapped in shopping bags, she’s chased on foot by a young man that has mistaken one of these bags as something she accidentally dropped and is trying to give back to her. For his trouble, Thana shoots this poor sucker in the face.

Before you know it, Thana is a woman on a mission. As she gains confidence and a thirst for vengeance she transforms from a mousy young woman to a deadly black widow. Dressing more provocatively, wearing makeup and pulling her hair back, Thana takes to the night time streets of New York to murder as many abusive, rapey, evil men as she can find. She ends up blowing away a pimp seen beating a hooker, a gang of would be rapists and a man in a limousine who tries to offer her cash for sex. It’s a blast watching Thana take out these sleazy, violent cocksmiths. One can clearly see how Thana perceives these men as threats  and you cannot help but cheer as she delivers hot, blood spattering, genital mutilating vengeance from the barrel of her gun. I must admit a certain feeling of satisfaction witnessing this carnage.

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But “Ms. 45”  is a more complex film than your typical black and white, Good vs. Evil rape/revenge film.  “Ms.45” exists in a more realistic world painted in varying shades of grey.  Thana pursues the advances of a creepy, aggressive photographer. The man comes on to her in a restaurant, follows her down the sidewalk yapping her ear off until she agrees to go to his studio. Once there, she guns this guy down in cold blood. The man was obviously a creeper, treated Thana as subhuman, another conquest to stick his teeny weenie in, but did the slimy bastard deserve to die? He never actually succeeded in harming Thana or actually proved he had any intention to.  He was gross, nasty and aggressive…but he never actually hurt anyone during his time on screen.  As a viewer, I sure as shit didn’t want to spend any time with this guy, but did he earn the bullet riddled dose of death he received?

For Thana, it steadily grows from a quest for vengeance to a gender specific killing spree as she begins targeting anyone with the offending genitals. she stalks down a young, Asian man who she eyed making out with his girlfriend. The man was just kissing the woman he is attracted to and it’s completely mutual! No force, no rape, but Thana no longer seems capable of  discerning what is right or wrong, healthy or unhealthy, and in her bloody quest for revenge has found herself becoming a monster herself.

“Ms. 45” reaches it’s climax at her fashion designer bosses’ Halloween party. Thana dresses up as a nun, attends the party as her bosses’ date, and packs some heat below her garter. In a chilling, horrifying, slow motion finale Thana opens fire on every man at the Halloween party. The crowd screams, begins panicking and trying to escape the barrage of gun fire.  This woman we were once rooting for has blurred the line so completely between good and evil that she is willing to kill any man at all because she sees every man as a threat. It isn’t until a friend of Thana’s,  one of her female co-workers, grabs a butcher knife, sneaks up behind Thana holding the blade at crotch level, making the phallic symbolism unmistakable, and then plunges it into Thana’s back, that the killing finally stops. Thana turns, her eyes widen in shock as she realizes it was a fellow woman who has killed her, sliding the phallic knife into her. The mute Thana then whispers her one and only line, her dying word, “sister” and falls to the ground dead.

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Abel Farrara created one of the most unique, disturbing and thought provoking films in this sub-genre of horror, and incidentally, one of the more interesting of the 1980’s. The film seeks to bring the idea of blind vengeance into the discussion of rape and revenge. When does  revenge simply start becoming mindless killing? Is it ever justified? When does the hero become the villain? These are questions few films within this sub-genre take the time to ask . In “Ms. 45” we are given plenty of time and opportunity to meditate on just what has happened to Thana, where Thana finds herself at the end of the movie, and the mechanics of our own reaction to the steps in her journey from victim, to vigilante to victimizer.  This very well might be why “Ms. 45” is so effective, so chilling and so infinitely open for debate and discussion.

Thana is a voiceless woman in a city overrun with outspoken, sexually aggressive men. Once irrevocably turned into a victim she finds an artificial voice in violence, in the firing of her gun and the killing of others. She cannot scream for anyone to stop, but her gun has the power to scream and stop her tormentors.  It isn’t until the end, when she is stabbed to death by another woman, that she finds her true voice, and in my opinion, opens her eyes to the horror of what she has begun. She is no longer an angel of vengeance but a demon of destruction. By the evil of others, she herself, has become an evil doer.

Of course, this is just The Primal Root’s take on the movie. I would love for you to check it out sometime and share your thoughts on the “Ms. 45” and just what you took away from this flick.

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Also, let me just say Zoë Tamerlis Lund, who played Thana, is remarkable. with only one line of dialogue in the course of the film, Zoë manages to make Thana into a fully fleshed out,  believable, human character.  Zoë was one remarkable, creative talent and a natural beauty with screen presence to spare. She even went on to co-write Abel Ferrara’s notorious “Bad Lieutenant” starring Harvey Keitel.   Sadly, Zoë was a long time heroin addict and died of drug related heart failure in 1999. she was 37 years old.  For more on Zoë I highly recommend http://www.zoelund.com/ which is run by Robert Lund.

I forgot to mention, there is also a subplot featuring Thana’s obnoxious landlady and her yapping mutt. At one point Thana takes her land ladies’ dog for a walk intent on killing it. She ties the dog to a pole, and draws her gun ofn the cornered mutt. We never see Thana kill the pooch but it’s assumed that she did only to have the poor little guy return home right before the credits roll. It’s an interesting note to end the movie on, that Thana so easily can kill a man, ANY man, before she could kill a dog.

Certainly not a feel good movie, and surely as shit, it ain’t for everyone, “Ms. 45” is an excellent piece of exploitation, horror, Trash Cinema. It’s well worth checking out and deserving of it’s Cult Classic status.  I’m giving “Ms. 45” FIVE out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets.

Stay Trashy!

-Root




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