Posts Tagged ‘Sid Haig

27
May
14

The Big Bird Cage (1972): Hell Hath No Fury like a Woman Scorned and Horny

big_bird_cage_poster_01

a Primal Root written review

Folks in the late 60’s and early 70’s must’ve loved to imagine somewhere out there in the Philippines there are prison/labor camps filled with gorgeous, violently horny American women wearing nothing but the tiniest of shorts and shirts that hang open so their ample, sweaty bosoms simply pour out of them as they sweat and work in the baking hot sun.  How did I come to this conclusion, you ask? Because Corman and Co. were pumping these flicks out like chicken nuggets. One thing’s for sure, they tapped into some strange, dark fantasy of the time that proved profitable and a wonderful showcase for gonzo politics, dark satire, even darker attempts at comedy, and bizarre perversions of all kinds.

Among the grandest touchstones to come from these scantly clad and brutalized women in exotic prison movies was the steady appearances by the sassy, energetic,  Ms. Pam Grier, who would go on to become a legend in her own right. In 1972’s “The Big Bird Cage” Pam Grier and Sig Haig play two revolutionaries, Blossom and Django (in possibly my favorite pairing of the two in their long history of working together), who end up dragging a gorgeous social climber by the name of Terry ( the lovely Anitra Ford of TV’s The Price is Right and the forgotten and highly underrated “Messiah of Evil” from 1972) into their crime wave as a hostage. It’s a short lived affair that end with Blossom and Django getting away and Terry going to a brutal concentration camp run by a sadistic warden and his army of burly, homosexual guards. Terry and the rest of the girls are put to work in the sweltering Philippine heat harvesting the sugar cane crop in the fields and within a giant wooden contraption of the prison warden’s own nefarious design known as…THE BIG BIRD CAGE.  His device crushes, maims, and kills the perky, naked women just as efficiently as it brings sugar to market. Hell, most of the prisoners would rather commit suicide than work within…THE BIG BARD CAGE.

BBC Pam

When the ladies aren’t working nearly completely nude they’re showering, making sexual advances towards their gay captors and each other or plotting to escape.  These women are all perpetually horny and lusting for hard cock and much of the film’s lighter moments are derived from their attempts to seduce the guards who have no interest in them whatsoever.  It;s a strange mishmash of politically incorrect humor (back when that was the acceptable norm. Ah, the good old days…) and brutal revolt, punishment and death. You’ll be laughing your ass off as a tall, skinny blonde covers herself head to toe in Crisco and runs after her nemesis and fellow inmate stark nekkid so no one can stop her, and the next second you’ll be staring in disbelief as a woman is gang raped by a horde of sweaty, butterfly knife toting Filipino men before a gay prison guard can make a bizarre joke about how he never gets that kind of action. This is the kind of filthy, off the wall tone shifty comedy Jack Hill (Spider Baby, Coffy, Switchblade Sisters) seems to really go for in his film, and frankly, I love him for it. It’s sick, it’s sleazy, and it sure as shit is like nothing else you will ever see in cinema. It’s so vulgar and eye wideningly weird that you cannot help but laugh even though what’s left of your heart which is not black tells you that you’re going to Hell for finding this humorous.

During a botched act of revolution where Blossom attempts to explode a gathering of politicians at some kind of public art Chautauqua with a grenade her lover and fellow revolutionary Django gave her. The grenade lets out a sizzling spark fart rather than exploding and Blossom is sent to the same sugar cane Hell hole Terry was imprisoned in.  As you might expect, Blossom establishes herself quickly as the Queen B of the women’s concentration camp as she kicks ass, tears off clothes and generally shows everyone who’s boss. But soon the Evil Warden is suspicious that Blossom is one of the jungle’s revolutionaries and begins beating and torturing the head strong and drop dead gorgeous Blossom to try and get her to talk.

bbc

In the meantime, Django begins posing as a fellow homosexual in order to seduce the prison guards and land himself a job within the women’s penitentiary so that he can rescue Blossom and get his revolution going.  It isn’t long before the entire prison camp is in flames, women are gunned down, guards are stabbed and hacked into pieces and much time is spent on a gang rape scene where about a dozen women tie down one of the gay guards, force him to get his cock hard and then ride it like the proverbial pony. It’s an odd, uncomfortable scene that’s trying to play itself for laughs. Again, the laughs are of the “what the fuck is this? Am I meant to laugh?” variety.  It plays as retribution for this guard making lite of a gang rape that happened earlier, but it’s still pretty fucking uncomfortable listening to this fellow struggle and whimper as a group of sexy, sweaty, naked women suck on his wang and start straddling.  I did laugh out loud when one women has to think fast and muffles the guard’s screams by placing her pussy squarly on his mouth before letting out a “WOAH!” of surprised ecstasy. Now THAT’S funny. Jack Hill is one of the last true rape joke artists.  See what I meant when I told you this thing is politically incorrect and deeply inappropriate? This ain’t no Shawshank Redemption, Gang.

The women who survive the initial riot make their way into the jungle as they are tracked by vicious dogs, and guards packing all kinds of heat and out for blood. Many are killed, few are spared, and the only folks to survive are saved by gentlemen revolutionaries who send the survivors off into the sun set on a little schooner sure to capsize and kill them all before they ever make it to dry land. THE END.

BBC girls

“The Big Bird Cage” is one fantastically off the wall film filled with gratuitous nudity, torture, blood shed, and ruthlessly mean spirited, dark, offensive comedy. I say offensive because the sensitive rubes out there would certainly find this film to be vile and despicable with little to no socially redeeming qualities. To those rubes, I say sit and spin. These are the exactly reasons I enjoy “The Big Bird Cage” so much!  It feels like a satire of the entire women in prison genre and has it’s sleazy little tongue planted firmly it’s slimy cheek.  The Big Bird Cage is a wild mother fucking ride and one Trash Cinema Connoisseurs will lovingly embrace.

What lesson did I take away from “The Big Bird Cage?” Never keep a woman horny and sugar cane is an excellent cash crop.

I’m giving this slice of sleaze FOUR AND A HALF Dumpster Nuggets.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

20
Oct
13

The Lords of Salem (2012) a Rebecca Keel review

Lords of Salem

a Rebecca Keel review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

17
Sep
11

Creature: Of Alligators and Incest

a Primal Root written review

Those who know me also know Drive-In Critic Joe Bob Briggs is pretty much my icon. My hero. The man I look up to as my role model. And those who know Joe Bob Briggs are well aware that he’s broken down the formula that makes a B-Movie worth out time. The elements are the fabled, legendary, Three B’s. That is: Blood, Breasts and Beasts. My entire life this has proven to be the key to my enjoyment of a bad movie. As long as those three ingredients are there I’m not bored.

And then I saw the recent film, “Creature”.  A southern fried monster tale about a mean tempered, horny, century old alligator man who rules over a stinky, tobacco stained Louisiana swamp land looking for a place his slimy gator seed can take purchase. Lucky for him, three supernaturally idiotic marines, two of whom bring along their girlfriends and one who brings along his in heat, hooter flashing sister,  have decided to head out into the swamp in search of a death trap, excuse me, I mean…tourist trap.

Who will survive and who gives a shit?

The six attractive younguns stop by a local gas station called Captain Spaulding’s Museum of Monsters and…oh shit, no, wait, it’s just called Chopper’s and is run by…Chopper played by Sid Haig. His little gas station/general store also happens to be a bit of a  museum honoring the local legend…Lockjaw, the malevolent Alligator man who lives in the swamps.  Anyway, Chopper tells them a little bit of the legend, gives them directions (any of this sound familiar?) and the kids head off to go die after flashing their tits and drinking some wine.

It’s a familiar set up and the whole film feels like a brain damaged cross breeding of Rob Zombie’s House of 1,000 Corpses and Adam Green’s Hatchet. I know both of those films have achieved cult status ( The former of which I can understand. The latter? Not so much…) and I am sure this horror abomination will fit snugly amongst that cannon as an interesting side note to that strange slasher fan boy genre birthed early this century.

Might as well kiss that ass goodbye...

It’s that backwoods hillbilly genre that really took off during the naughties with independent horror. From Wrong Turns, to Devil’s Rejects to Texas Chainsaw Massacre reboots, everyone was digging on uneducated, blood thirsty, backwoods, gut munchers. Hell, that resurgence took hold even before that whole Saw franchise flooded the market with torture horror. However, this trashy flick, “Creature”, pulls one aspect of these films that’s typically only touvhed upon and forces it out there into the spotlight for the audience to take a long, creeped out look at. And that element is the wonderful world of incest.

Yes, incest. I know the old southern saying, “The closer the kin, the deeper in” but this flick takes that sentiment to whole different level. Remember when I told you one of the marines brought his red headed, libido of a rabbit, sister along? Well, when her attempts at date raping one of her brother’s friend’s girlfriends doesn’t work out she finds her brother…and gives him a sloppy handjob in the middle of the swamp and then complains that he now can’t fuck her with his wet noodle.  It’s awkward, to say the least and luckily Sid Haig rushes onto the scene and punches her square in the nose before things can escalate.  Being an only child, I’m not sure if this is how regular brother and sisters, umm, handle one another. They never really touched on this sort of thing on Family Matters or Step by Step.

Anyway, the incestuous sister’s got a date with that wild man bachelor known as Lockjaw!

Lockjaw finds the scent of Herbal Essence hard to resist.

Yes, the eternally wet, red head, incestuous sister is pulling a double header tonight and is now bound, gagged, and ordered to fuck a giant gator man. So, bestiality is now entering the equation in “Creature. But, see, she can only bump uglies with Lockjaw once her feet are hacked off. …the Hell? If someone could explain to me why in the word that is necessary I would greatly appreciate it. I don’t know why in the world they felt the need to make the plot of this thing so damn convoluted and jam as many rules  and oddly out of place plot twists as they could when none of it really goes anywhere.

It’s such a basic story. You have a Gator Man looking for love. A pack of attractive twenty-somethings, three of which possess the proper genitals, wonder into his home turf. The movie practically writes itself and would have been a riot if they had kept it simple, fast paced and FUN! Whoever wrote this thing just bogs the movie down with weird side tracks and sub plots and meaningless stretches of dialog that aren’t funny, don’t mean anything within the context of the movie and advance nothing. It’s as if they were struggling to make this thing feature length and just didn’t know what to do. The movie’s run time is 93 minutes but it feels like it goes on for over two hours as scenes drag into nothing over and over again with neither a payoff or anything that enhances the story.

Daphne and Velma share a tender moment on their latest kooky caper!

HOWEVER! The film does feature a ton of nudity! Three gratuitously displayed pairs of lovely lady breasts and even some in your face full frontal female flesh(Breasts, Buns AND BUSH! Booger would be pleased.) for the audience to ogle in the very opening of the film. This poor, totally naked woman has no lines, is completely nude and is killed and out of the movie in about 5 minutes time. I guess it’s a bad idea to go skinny dipping in a gator/rapey flesh eating Hell beast infested swamp. I am looking forward to her next project because in these 5 minutes Jennifer Lynn Warren won my heart and is one of the most memorable elements of the movie. Being naked as a jay bird certainly didn’t hurt…

The gore is a little lacking. I was expecting a bit more in a film about Lockjaw the Gator Boy who leaves a little to be desired as well.  The creature effects are great and all but I couldn’t help but notice how the monster looks almost identical to the Koopa’s from the live action Super Mario Brothers movie. Yet, the fellow inside this creature suit does a great job bringing it to life and making the most of it. He possess, stalks and attacks like a pro. Sadly, we are never treated to a Lockjaw sex scene. SEE! Now that would have been entertaining! And we do get undeniable proof that such a scenario did occur at some point in the movie, but for whatever reason, we aren’t treated to that moment of pure animal-man on woman horror. Eh, maybe in the direct to video sequel starring Bill Moseley? Only time will tell.

"I Shouldn't Be Alive" New Season Begins This Fall

And they never did explain the regenerative properties of the swamp itself that a man could get shot square in the knee with a rifle then run on that leg for the next thirty minutes of the movie and not even limp. Well, maybe it’s just because he’s a marine? Either way, this might be my favorite unintentionally funny aspect of the film. How much the lead character gets shot, stabbed, and repeatedly crushed and beaten mercilessly by Lockjaw. Including one excruciatingly long slow motion sequence towards the end of the film where Lockjaw repeatedly pounds full force on the character’s sternum and ribs, and then, seconds after the attack, the character can simply get up and walk it off.  I always thoroughly enjoy that sort of stupid shit in trashy films. There’s also a pretty hysterical spider attack sequence where a guy gets pounced by tarantulas and then treats the bites with…bottled water?

I just wish there had been more of that fun, dumb, stuff to tide me over in between scenes of nonsensical redneck banter, jewelry gifting, potato chip scavenging,  and boyfriends getting upset because his girlfriend is getting naked in a tent and making out with another sexy woman looking to get a threesome going. Who ARE these people?

“Creature” has a whole lot of promise and I was eager to take the trip it so obviously wanted to deliver. But somewhere along the way it seems the whole thing got lost, forgot where it left it’s fun, Drive-In, B-Movie spirit and left us imagining all the awesomeness that could have been. “Creature’s” heart is in the right place and the filmmakers obviously have an affection for Trash Cinema. I mean, it was director Fred Andrews first time at bat, so I will cut him some slack. I just hope that the next film he delivers is a bit more streamlined and heavier on the sick, demented fun.

As Joe Bob might say, there’s just too much dang plot getting in the way of the story!

Stay Trashy!

-Root

And, yes, that’s Eggs from the second season of True Blood.




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