Posts Tagged ‘teen

10
Jan
16

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

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a Primal Root written review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

**** SPOILERS AHEAD ****

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I award Phantasm FIVE out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

29
Jun
14

Trash Cinema Nights presents The Burning (1981)

burning

Who: The Trash Cinema Collective
What: a screening of  1981’s “The Burning”
When: Saturday, July 5th at 10:00pm
Where: Bird’s Aphrodisiac Oyster Shack
Why: Because we love you.

as always…NO COVER!

MATURE CONTENT WARNING: Leave the fruits of your loins at home! Blood shed, full frontal female nudity, um…lots of female nudity and general slasher movie butchery goodness. With garden shears.

Hey Gang! As I am sure you’re well aware with the might of the current humidity situation and temperatures in the mid 90’s, it’s glorious summer time in Florida! What better way to celebrate this warm, moist, sweaty season than with a special Trash Cinema Night screening of one of the meanest, nastiest little summer camp slasher flicks of the 1980’s, 1981’s “The Burning?” Sure, it sounds like a PSA about genital herpes, but it’s one damn fine low budget horror show.

Gratuitous blood, breasts and one nasty disfigured psychopath who looks like his head is made up of a gnawed on wad of Big League Chew. I can think of no better way to continue celebrating our nation’s independence than by wallowing in the complete filth that is the 1980’s American slasher flick.

So come on out, sink your teeth into the best damn burger in Tallahassee, order up a pitcher of your favorite ice cold brew and let’s rot our brains together as we watch the likes of Jason Alexander, Fisher Stevens and Holly Hunter get terrorized by Cropsy, the summer camp legend who got roasted like so many marshmallows during a really badly planned prank and is now transforming teenagers into meat mulch.

We’ll see you Saturday, July 5th at 10pm over at Bird’s aphrodisiac Oyster shack for an evening of utter mayhem you won’t want to miss!

Stay Trashy!
-Root

28
Apr
14

Christine (1983): Cars, Kids, Parents and Shitters

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“Let me tell you a little something about love, Dennis. It has a voracious appetite. It eats everything. Friendship. Family. It kills me how much it eats.” -Arnie Cunningham, Christine (1983)

a Primal Root written review

It’s all true, the legends are real, and we all must face it at one time or another: Growing up sucks.  When we’re children this is the last thing on our minds as we explore, grow and challenge the world around us. But then there’s those teenage years when the world of adulthood begins to rear it’s ugly head. The prospects of responsibility, paying bills, squelching all aspects of your individuality and creativity in order to fold neatly and unobtrusively into the 9 to 5 rat race world of ass kissing and corporate scumbaggery. The trick is not to fall into that trap so many of us find ourselves in where we become disillusioned, cynical, turning our backs on our dreams, our aspirations and that child of our youth that deserved so much better than us rolling over and letting the world at large stick the societal cock up our ass without lube and ride us the rest of our days. This is the true horror of life, the unspoken tragedy of adulthood.

Enter John Carpenter’s “Christine,” his 1983 adaptation of Stephen King’s BEST SELLING novel. Let me start by saying, yes, I have read the book and I do realize the movie isn’t exactly the book. Let me clarify, this is a completely different artistic medium than literature, this is film, and in the process of adaptation some events and characters must be changed in order to fit this new format.  I think Carpenter delivered a lean, mean, intelligent and heartfelt big screen version of King’s tale of adolescent yearning, the pain of being an outcast, the horrors of high school, and the often disheartening and nasty business of transitioning to adulthood.

 Christine is the story two childhood friends,  Dennis Guilder (John Stockwell) who is living the teen dream as the popular, well built and lusted after captain of the varsity football team who has laid back parents and his own car, and Arnie Cunningham (Keith Gordon, in a brilliant performance) a stereotypical nerd with greased over hair, thick, black glasses, parents who completely smother him and control his every move and lives a life of constant torment at the hands of the school bully, Buddy Rupperton, who looks to be about 38 years old and seems to live to hurt others along with his squad of goonish  teenage sidekicks. Dennis and Arnie grew up together, and as children, they were equals. But as time went on they both grew into their roles and dropped into their place in high school, teenage pecking order. Despite all this, the two maintain a close friendship, a brother like bond.

Buying-Christine

Arnie is obviously the outsider, ignored by his peers and brutally bullied and picked on by goons like the teenage asshole prototype Buddy Repperton who looks like he’s been held back about ten years and refers to Arnie Cunningham and “Cuntingham.”  Get it?   Repperton and his buddies live to inflict pain and be absolute jerks to anyone who crosses their paths, focusing the thrust of their efforts and ganging up on those who are the weakest and can’t fight back. Arnie does his best to stand up for himself through this humiliating torment, but he often has to rely on his friend Dennis for help. Shit, when it’s four or five blood thirsty teenage cavemen, we could all use a little assistance.  In one intense standoff where Buddy is brandishing a switchblade against the defenseless Arnie, the whole ordeal ends with Arnie getting his glasses stomped upon, Dennis getting his balls squeezed into lemonade and Buddy ending up expelled and lowering death threats at Arnie. Yep, sounds like a typical day in high school to me.

But soon Arnie finds solace and peace of mind in the form of an old, rusted out, Plymouth Fury he spots on the way home with Dennis. “Her name’s Christine.”  Bearded, smelly looking, back brace wearing, old timer George Lebay (Roberts Blossom) informs them as Arnie and Dennis check the death trap of a car out. Lebay reflects on the day his recently deceased brother brought Christine home fresh off the assembly line.  “My asshole brother bought her back in September ’57. That’s when you got your new model year, in September. Brand-new, she was. She had the smell of a brand-new car. That’s just about the finest smell in the world, ‘cept maybe for pussy.” Ah, George Lebay, you are a delight! Best character in the film and he’s got about 5 minutes of screen time.

Of course, Arnie buys the car and drives it home only to find his controlling to the point of it being borderline psychotic Mother refuses to allow him to park it in their drive way and goes total ape shit over the fact that Arnie bought something without consulting her and his Father (mostly her) first.  Dad’s a total pussy and just goes along with what his wife dictates to poor, unfortunate, Arnie who has done everything she’s told him to do his entire life. He defends himself admirably before stomping out of the house, slamming the door and driving his moveable beast over to a local garage owned by seedy businessman Will Darnell (Robert Prosky), another adult who decides to give Arnie a nice little helping of shit, hassling the kid and calling the poor guy a creep before Dennis gives Arnie a ride home where Arnie’s parents are locked and loaded, ready to pulverize Arnie with more verbal abuse. It’s been one Hell of a day for poor, sad, Arnie Cunningham.

Soon, Arnie isn’t around as much. Every spare moment he has he’s at Darnell’s garage working on Christine. The car’s mileage is running backwards, her paint job is restored despite the fact that style of paint isn’t manufactured anymore, and the cracks in her windshield seem to be shrinking. Arnie seems to be changing to, he is cold, distant, loses his glasses and is soon dating the hot new girl in school whom all the boys lust for, Leigh Cabot (Alexandra Paul), which still baffles me when there’s the voluptuous, gorgeous head cheerleader Roseanne (Kelly Preston) around who looks to be up for getting down and dirty. Anyhoo, Dennis ends up getting severely injured and nearly paralyzed during a football game and ends up int he hospital for several months.  This gives him a perfect vantage point to witness Arnie’s strange behavior and disturbing changes in character as Arnie drops by sporadically to visit and his spirit becomes darker, meaner.

Arnie

Before long Christine is in tip=top shape and is the envy of everyone at school. Even Leigh becomes jealous of all the attention Arnie lavishes on Christine. This would be really stupid if it weren’t for the fact Christine is actually full of evil and tries to kill Leigh at the Drive-In by making her choke on a delicious hamburger in a creepy yet somewhat hysterical scene. Sorry, I know I shouldn’t laugh, but Leigh’s chocking face is kind of comical. I know, I’m going to Hell.  Thankfully, a nearby Drive-In patron is there to save Leigh in time while Arnie fumbles with Christine’s door handle.

Christine also catches the eye of Buddy Repperton, the local asshole, and his crew of violent idiots. The decide to break into Darnell’s garage after hours and totally destroy Christine in a scene that’s tantamount to a gang rape.  The teens bash Christine to pieces with led pipes, sledgehammers, and knives. One even pauses to drop his trousers and drop a Cleveland steamer right on Christine’s dash. This scene is a testament to all those horrible human beings int her world who crave pleasure by hurting others. Watching these complete scumbags work over Christine is infuriating and makes you crave vengeance. When Arnie and Leigh walk into Darnell’s garage and find his beloved Christine in pieces, Arnie’s reaction is completely understandable if  not a bit savage. When Leigh goes to comfort Arnie he lashes out at her, screaming at her, calling her a “shitter.”

Suddenly, Christine has become a rape revenge film. Christine reforms herself in a matter f seconds with the coaxing of her teenage lover, Arnie and it’s off to the races as Christine begins killing off each of her rapists one by one. Arnie, in the midst of he and Christine’s nightly killing sprees, visits Dennis and is creepily unhinged, making jokes about the recent death of a fellow classmate who took part in trying to demolish the unkillable Christine.  When interrogated about the incident by Detective Rudolph Junkins (Harry Dean Stanton, never anything less than outstanding), the detective mentions how the murdered young man had to be scraped of the ground with a shovel to which Arnie replies “Isn’t that what you do with shit? Scrap it off the ground with a shovel?” Way to maintain your innocence, Arnie. Please, next time, go grab your attorney.

Everyone knows Arnie and Christine are to blame for this rash of killings and all those who love and care for Arnie the most are those who are in danger, the ones Christine has manipulated Arnie into believing are “The Shitters” of the world. Those who want to keep Arnie from being with Christine,  the one thing that is his, the one thing that gave him unconditional love in return.  It will all lead to a final confrontation at Darnell’s Garage, but who’s motor will be left running when all is said and done?

FlamingChristine

At the end of the day, cars aren’t very scary. They are inanimate objects that require human interaction for them to work. They are tools to be utilized.  However, John Carpenter makes it work by relying one very trick in his film making vocabulary. He focuses more on the human aspects of the story and concentrates on making all the moments between the human players feeling almost painfully genuine. As a film goer, I’ve seen few movies, horror or otherwise, that portray high school and the experience of being a teenager with such bleak, gritty, unfiltered honesty. This time in your life can really suck, and I am sure many of us can relate, even if it is only a little bit, with Arnie Cunningham, the kid who has tried so hard to please everyone and put up with all the bullshit constantly shoved in his face, that when he finally finds that one thing that he falls in love with and loves him back, in this case, cherry red evil on wheels that speaks to him through hand picked oldies radio selections, he loses himself totally to this seduction, this perceived love.

 Christine can be interpreted many different ways. At face value, it’s simply a story of possession at the hands of an evil monster car, which is one fantastic B-Movie concept. But here, in the hands of John Carpenter and screenwriter Bill Phillips, Christine offers up so much more than that.  I’ve heard a lot of folks compare Christine to a fable about drug addiction, and I can certainly see the what they mean.  Arnie finds the one thing in life that brightens his life, gives it some kind of meaning outside of the expectations of others and he follows that road of self destruction to it’s sad, tragic ending.  It totally makes sense and I think that interpretation is entirely valid.

I’ve always seen the film as a horrible tale of growing up and away from the kid you once were. Being shaped by those around you and letting their behavior and treatment of you shape you into something you never wanted to be. Bullied, beaten down, mistreated and an outcast, Christine represents Arnie’s out, but also, as the model of the care suggests, the embracing of Arnie’s internal fury, the cynical side, the  insecure, self deprecated side which has been nurtured by those around him his the gasoline and Christine is the spark that begins Arnie’s transformation into adulthood, and into a man those around him hardly recognize. A cold, uncaring, mean spirited loner who murders those he, and Christine, perceive as a threat.  Christine is most assuredly a form of evil on wheels, but she unlocks something that already existed in Arnie. A teenager who was a really good guy, but always taken advantage of, picked on and made to feel inferior.  At one point int he story Arnie says a chilling line to Dennis while visiting him at the hospital;  ” Has it ever occurred to you that part of being a parent is trying to kill your kids?”  It’s a perfect,  if dramatic summation of the child vs. parent in a strict, repressive household. Where individuality is squelched rather than cultivated and the goals and standards of the parent are enforced rather than ever taking into account what their child wants or is passionate about.  So is the world of adults, and once Arnie crosses that threshold, there’s no turning back. He can bully just like those who bullied him and he can attack with the same amount of verbal venom as his overbearing mother.  His parents took for granted the sweet, subservient son they had and now he’s gone forever.

Sorry to go off on a tangent there, if you’ve read my reviews before, I’m sure you used to it. Christine isn’t all teenage horror melodrama, the film actually boasts a wicked, intelligent sense of humor that helps keep the energy level up and the proceedings a pleasure to watch. One of my favorite aspects of the film is Christine’s ability to play the most appropriate oldies possible in any given situation . someone tries breaking into her? “Keep A-Knockin’, but you can’t come in!” Little Richard begins wailing.  Someone tries to destroy Christine? “Rock and Roll is Here to Stay” by Danny and The Juniors starts blasting from the stereo system. It’s a clever and cool way to give Christine her own unique voice.

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Also, Christine features one of John Carpenter’s great, sparse synth scores and it’s used to great effect. The theme begins with a wind blowing, giving way to a high pitched whistle where one is immediately filled with a feeling of dread, growing anticipation and given the impression that there’s something truly sinister at work here. This whistling slowly gives way to a sweeter, more charming melody, but it’s played in dwindling, soft, somber tones. It’s the sound of childhood innocence dying away, a void opening up, where an adolescent is susceptible and easily corrupted. It’s a slow, yet blazingly brilliant score that’s both sad and frightening and fits Carpenter’s vision of Christine perfectly.

My biggest disappointment with Carpenter’s Christine is that Arnie’s parents vanish in the final third of the film.  After playing such a pivotal part in the majority of the film it’s a real disappointment that we never get to see them grieve or react to what happens to Arnie in the climax. It’s a real let down that these characters are built up through the film only to be completely removed in the final act and given no pay-off, no closure. Also, the death of Buddy Reperton seems a little anticlimactic. That guy got off easy, if you ask me.

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I know Christine was never really embraced by either John Carpenter or Stephen King fans,  but I’ve always felt this is one of the better King adaptations and among Carpenter’s most underrated films.  The visual of Christine barreling down the highway engulfed in flames is the stuff of nightmares, but the moments where Arnie is confronted by the onslaught of human cruelty is a deeply troubling depiction of the nightmare of reality. It’s a beautifully shot film with a flawless score, some astoundingly cool practical effects and a cast that all deliver performances above and beyond the call of duty. However,  Christine belongs to Keith Gordon. His performance at Arnie Cunningham is excellent and witnessing the character’s transformation is haunting and heart breaking.  Christine, the drop dead gorgeous, cherry red, Plymouth Fury is certainly the eye candy of the piece, but it’s all the human talent in front of and behind the camera that really make hitching a ride with Christine a trip though teenage Hell worth taking.

I give this sucker Four and a Half out of Five Dumpster Nuggets

Stay Trashy!

-Root

19
Nov
13

The Pit aka: Teddy (1981) Boners, Food and Homicide; The Puberty Triple Threat

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a Primal Root written review

It’s high time we talked about “The Pit” aka: “Teddy”, one of the creepiest goddamn coming of age movies I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching.  The plot goes something like this; a young, mentally deranged teenage boy named Jamie (Sammy Snyders) with parents who apparently travel quite a bit and regularly leave poor Jamie in the care of attractive female twenty something year old psychology students.  And buy, does he burn through them.  See, Jamie is kind of a creeper. The extent to which this kid will go to express his love aka: raging hard-on for just about anything wearing a bra is pretty impressive. He even tries the old “I dropped my napkin” ruse at the dinner table when he’s being introduced to his summer caretaker, Sandy (Jeannie Elias). Of course, this scheme works a whole lot better when you don;t announce loudly “OH NO! I DROPPED MY NAPKIN!” and then lunge your whole body head-first under the table to gaze up a woman’s skirt and into the crotch fabric of their panties.

You'll wish he'd written "Redrum" when this is all over and done with.

You’ll wish he’d written “Redrum” when this is all over and done with.

But this is the least of Jamie’s issues. See, he also has a teddy bear he he talks to…and Teddy talks back, stoking young Jamie’s deviant behavior and offering up suggestions on how to be a more effective weirdo. Also, Jamie happens to know the location of an isolated pit deep in the woods populated by furry, malevolent, flesh eating creatures with glowing yellow eyes.  Teddy and the Tra-La-Logs (Why, oh, WHY is this not a band name?) are the two folks Jamie feels he can confide in. and it makes sense, seeing as everyone in the town seemingly loathes this kid. From the his teenage classmates who lovingly punch him in the face and pull humiliating pranks on him, to the Librarian lady who refuses his pervish advances, even the elderly woman in the retirement home down the street can’t stand Jamie and even predicts he’ll probably just grow up “to be one of those hippies!”

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No one understands me like the beasts on the edge of Hell.

So, yes, Jamie airs out all his issues with a the psychotic voice in his head he hears through the inanimate object named Teddy and a batch of vicious monsters living in a hole deep in the woods.  The Tra-La-Logs do not judge Jamie, they simply gnash their teeth, stare at him and drool as he explains the twisted thoughts of his diseased mind. Jamie grows to care a lot about these critters and Teddy hits upon the winning idea of starting to feed the little monsters! So, in between sessions of staring at Sandy’s bare breasts while she sleeps and faking kidnappings in order to snap some Polaroids of  Librarian next door’s  hush puppies, Jamie steals some of Sandy’s cash and buys a ton of hamburger meat and feeds it to the creatures in the woods.

That's a bad touch, Sandy.

That’s a bad touch, Sandy.

 

Of course, this can’t last, as Sandy catches on quickly to the fact her cash is vanishing quicker my singles at a strip club. Where can Jamie find a new, cheap source of meat for this ravaging, razor toothed, carnivorous creatures? Why, yes, tossing the screaming, soon to be devoured bodies of the people who have wronged you is completely valid option!  In a montage of great dark comedy, Jamie lures about a half dozen people to their untimely deaths including Sandy’s boyfriend who he tricks into the pit by throwing a football around with him and making the guy “go long”, which leads him right into the jaws of the enemy. Even better,  Jamie kidnaps the mean old lady from the retirement home, rolling her down the nature trail as she shrieks and waves her hands around in terror, and launches her into the pit where she is ripped to pieces.  I’m not kidding, I laughed so hard I farted.  this is prem-o stuff, Gang.

Suck it, Grandma!

Suck it, Grandma!

There’s even a slightly more profound moment where Jamie is about to roll a young girl into the pit who laughed at him while he was getting the snot beaten out of him.  “You sure are a pretty girl. But only on the outside. Inside you;re ugly and you will probably spend your whole life giggling at the pain of others.”  a pretty chilling statement about the nature of bullying and the violence it spawns. Treat people with kindness or you might find yourself the main course in gore drenched buffet of fury. Never mess with the kid who is rumored to be psychotic, he may just prove you right. It’s a moment I think all kids who were picked on can relate to. I think at some point we all wished we had a giant hole int he ground we could roll our tormentors into so we would never have to hear from them again.  I can see a little bit of wish fulfillment here.

D'Awwww...

D’Awwww…

After making the major miscalculation of actually showing Sandy the Tra-La-Longs down in their pit, she insists they bring out some scientists to check out the discovery when Jamie made her promise to keep them a secret, Jamie ends up accidentally pushing her into THE PIT where she is slowly ripped into meaty chunks and feasted upon by the ever hungry monsters. It might be the bloodies moment of the movie and works like gang busters and Sandy’s bright red entrails and slurped down and her bones and crunched to pieces by the terror of the Tra-La-Logs.  Jamie is traumatized by the death of someone he actually wants to put his penis in, and decides to throw a rope down the hole and let the creatures loose upon an unsuspecting public and, in the process, unleashes holy Hell upon the inhabitants of his little hamlet.

What follows is probably the most ineffective, yet still entertaining, sequence of “The Pit”. The movie takes the focus away from Jamie and, instead, focuses on the rampage of the Tra-La-Logs which are obviously nothing more than short people in furry suits running around the woods. Int he darkness of the pit the creatures came off as scary and mysterious, in the bright light of day they are laughable. Still, they manage to run about the rural area ripping young folks and big breasted teenage skinny dippers (one of which happens to be the director’s daughter) into finger food before a posse of angry, card carrying NRA locals track them back into their pit and blow into blood spattered shag carpeting.

Cut back to Jamie who is now headed to his grandparent’s farm to be taken care of for the rest of the summer, only this time he is not alone. His younger little lady cousin is there and they run off to go play together. It looks like Jamie has finally found a friend. Someone who is not sickened or terrified of his mere presence.  The sun is setting in the sky as the two children laugh and run off into the woods…only, they find something…another pit in the ground. Jamie knows all too well the horror that lies ahead. “They eat people…” he says. “I know.” She replies…

It's basically a prequel to "Ted"

It’s basically a prequel to “Ted”

“The Pit” is one very unique, sleazy, unusual and even disturbing little slice of forgotten horror gold.  It has the usual limitations you might expect from a low budget 80’s horror flick, but it still manages to pull off it’s concept for the majority of the running time. Sammy Snyders’ performance as the bizarre, creepy teenage killer is damned impressive. This is some very strange and often whacky material for a young actor to be performing, but the guy really gives his all and ends up giving a very believable and unsettling performance.  I’ve read interviews with the “The Pit” screenwriter Ian  Stuart and his disappointment in what was originally intended to be a much darker story with far fewer  flourishes of dark comedy. I understand what he’s saying, and I do wish that version could have been made, but the film we ended up with is still one pretty goddamn strange cinematic cocktail. From the bizarre sexual obsessions and oglings of Jamie, to the crew of bloodthirsty Hell beasts and the psychotic voices in Jamie’s head who transmit themselves through the boy’s Teddy bear, it’s one of those movies so peculiar it truly has to be seen to be believed.  I’d put it along side movies like “Tourist Trap” and “Pin”, movies that are damn strange and certainly effective, but lost and waiting to be rediscovered.

Three and a Half out of Five Dumpster Nuggets

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

29
Jul
13

Savage Streets (1984): Revenge is Best Served Busty (NSFW)

savage-streets-movie-poster-1984-1020234993

a Primal Root written review

Man, there really isn’t anything quite as life affirming as a good exploitation revenge film done right.  That’s just what we’re dealing with in the 1984 flick, ‘Savage Streets’ starring Linda Blair, John Vernon, Linnea Quigley and Robert Dryer. Battle hardened teenage girls, psychotic greasy 30-something teenage guys with bizarro Flock of Seagulls hairstyle, a hard nosed school principal who calls female trouble makers “tough bitches”,  add in some gratuitous violence and nekkid women and you’ve got yourself the ingredients for a tasty cinematic exploitation stew. I am here to tell you, brothers and sisters, this is one tasty concoction.

Now, I’ve never been to L.A., but apparently in the early 80’s gangs of roving, spandex clad young women roamed the streets at night window shopping for crossbows, porn and bear traps.  One such roving pack of sexy jail bait is led by a teenage girl named Brenda (Linda Blair) who’s hard to miss as she traipses down the sidewalk in a bright turquoise, nipple enhancing ensemble while wearing those giant dark shades they give you at Lens Crafters after you’ve had your pupils dilated.  Her entourage includes several other tough, bubbly girls dressed head to toe in neon and Brenda’s deaf/mute little sister, Heather (Linnea Quigley) who sticks out like a sore thumb in her Librarian inspired number.

Must be cold out.

Must be cold out.

Brenda is your typical badass chick with a heart of gold, sticking up for her friends and extremely protective of her naive, innocent, handicapable little sister. Why would Brenda decide to bring her little sister out to the slums on a bustling Saturday night is unclear, perhaps Brenda wants to expose Heather  to the hunky drug dealing, leather clad sociopaths who roam the streets in their convertible while making out with one another and beating up guys who wear those lame-o polo shirts with little crocodile patches over the left nipple . You know the type.  Brenda soon gets her chance as Heather is nearly run over and crushed into pavement pudding by a foursome of sleazy, knife totting, greased up low lives known as “The Scars.” To be honest,  after a couple viewings of ‘Savage Streets’, I don’t see The Scars being at fault here, as Heather just kind of collapses in front of their car. Heather falls over and Brenda, backed by her posse, begins screaming at The Scars for being reckless fuckheads bent killing every deaf mute teenage girl who happens to stumble in front of their moving vehicle.  If this were true, I have a feeling this band of misfits would have simply put their pedal to the metal and simply killed precious little Heather rather than coming to a halt and not harming her in the slightest.

Oh well, this is just the beginning of ‘Savage Streets.’ There’s plenty of time for The Scars to prove just how loathsome they can be.

The Scars decide to pull repo duty on a pair of implants.

The Scars decide to pull repo duty on a pair of implants.

Not long after the incident with Heather we  are treated to a tender scene of The Scars brutalizing a man who owes them money and illustrating the dangers of being a fully stacked woman walking through seedy alley ways at night wearing a tube top, Brenda comes across The Scars’ convertible and gets a bright idea that will end up costing her, and her friends, greatly. Brenda and the gals decide to provoke The Scars even further by stealing their convertible and speeding by them hollering, laughing and flaunting the fact they just committed grand theft auto. The Scars are not too pleased by this, but thankfully, they’ve gotten a good look at all of the girl’s faces and set out to getting some good, old fashioned rapey revenge after finding their convertible littered with rotten garbage and drippy, rank used tampons. The girls were in the clear until Brenda decided to pull this stunt. Just saying, all that happens later in the film could have totally been avoided if Brenda hadn’t antagonized a group of blood thirsty lunatics. You live, you learn, and those closest to you pay the price.

C'mon, brah! Let's make out our aggression.

C’mon, brah! Let’s make out our aggression.

We soon learn that, for The Scars, revenge is a dish best served…later, as there are other subplots to get to like the one about Brenda being persuade by the head of the football team. Brenda constantly tells him she wouldn’t hop his cock if he were the last man on Earth, but that doesn’t stop the tanned, blonde geek from trying, much to the dismay of the jock’s equally tanned and blonde girlfriend, Cindy. This leads to an incredible confrontation in the girl’s locker room after gym class. As some fully well developed young ladies lather up their assets, Cindy tells Brenda to stay away from her football hero fella, Wes. Brenda restates how much she can’t stand Wes and has no interest in him all, and Cindy lets out her battle cry, as if furious that Brenda doesn’t want to fuck her boyfriend. This leads to a wet and wild shower room beat down as the girls scratch and tear at one another. Cindy in her undies, Brenda fully clothed. but no worries, there are two young girls who start beating the shit out of each other in the background in what I can only assume is an unrelated feud.  Still, this is a directorial choice I can do nothing but praise. Take note, Gang! This is exploitation done right!

So, what are those nekkid ladies in the background fighting about? We will likely never know...

So, what are those nekkid ladies in the background fighting about? We will likely never know…

Hold on, I’m getting ahead of myself, let me tell you about the four pack of No Good who call themselves The Scars. These men range in age from late 30’s to mid-40’s and are kind of supposedly in high school. Well, at least they show up there in order to collect drug money, pummel the student body and get into incredible stand-offs with their no nonsense principal, Principal Underwood (John Vernon), who in a stand out moments orders the punks to “Go fuck an iceberg.” Fuck yeah! With this man;s can-do spirit and use of disturbing sexual imagery as insults,  I can see him being Savage Street County superintendent in no time!  The Scars are primarily led by a fellow named Jake (Robert Dryer) who seems to have only two emotional states, malicious glee and deep, furious anger. This man lives to inflict pain on others and has more protruding neck chords than you can shake a stick at. Seriously,The Incredible Hulk’s neck veins could take lessons from those of Jake.  When this man is angry, it is not only printed across his face, but his uncannily expressive neck.

Like an enraged turtle!

Like an enraged turtle!

So, while Linda Blair is getting cracking skulls and bouncing boobs in the ladies locker room, The Scars are steadily closing in on her vulnerable, trusting, deaf/mute little sister,  Heather. The scene slowly and surely ramps up the repulsion as one member of The Scars starts to befriend Heather as she teaches him proper sign language techniques before he busts out the old finger through the hole technique and the ensemble of scum bags assemble, drag poor Heather into a boy’s restroom and begin to savagely rape and brutalize her. It’s a down right traumatizing on screen rape sequence, made all the more chilling due to the fact Heather cannot even scream for help. She is held down as Junior Scars member, Red, is given first dibs in the gang rape, deflowering Heather in what  seems to be a kind of disgusting initiation ritual. Truly, this is some very nasty, harrowing, stuff that’s well executed and staged. It all ends with a boot to Heather’s skull  and she is rushed to the hospital, having lapsed into a coma.

In this kind of movie, we all know this beautiful smile will soon be savagely raped away.

In this kind of movie, we all know this beautiful smile will soon be savagely raped away.

Why this does not IMMEDIATELY invoke the wrath of older, and incredibly protective (if not totally careless)  sister,  Brenda, is beyond me. It takes a few more run ins with The Scars and the daring broad daylight murder of one of  Brenda’s pregnant and soon to married friends before she decides to hit up the Two-4-One Death Wish Store, don her full body latex cat suit and get to painting these Savage Streets red with the drippy entrails of The Scars! And, OH, what an evening of vengeance it is! Three words: WATCH YOUR KNEES!

Savage Streets is an oddly fun piece of exploitation cinema. On one hand, you have some truly sick and disturbing subject matter and on the other you have a lot of goofy, sleazy comedy sequences played out in the high school. I can honestly say I’ve never seen another rape/revenge film like it. Our female protagonists are all likeable and you could sense the connection between. Likewise with the sociopaths, The  Scars. Even in their dysfunctional way, they fit together well as a pack, even if their only real goals are to torture, kill and sell drugs.   Savage Streets it’s a funky, dirty, and abrasive time capsule of mid-80’s trash cinema, it’s a movie that plays by it’s own rules and rises to the occasion throwing in every single element you can imagine.

Linda (Crazy Eyes) Blair: Still got the Devil in her

Linda (Crazy Eyes) Blair: Still got the Devil in her

A cool side note about ‘Savage Streets’ is that is was directed at the very last minute, after the film’s original director dropped out, by Danny Steinman, whose previous work included a Deep Throat cash-in porno flick called ‘high Rise’ and would direct one of my favorite entries in the Friday the 13th franchise, ‘Friday the 13th part V: A New Beginning’ the following year before, sadly, dropping into obscurity. He only has four films to his credit, and out of the two I;ve seen, I am a huge fan of the guy’s stuff. He knew his audience well and delivered to them what they wanted and I appreciate him for that. I only wish he could have made more flicks in a similar vein to ‘Savage Streets’.  Danny passed away on December 18th, 2012.

This scene is integral to the plot.

This scene is integral to the plot.

I genuinely enjoyed Savage Streets in all it’s sick, demented, exploitative glory. However, if I have one gripe at all about the flicks, it’s that Brenda, after spending the entire movie being a badass, hard as nails teenage hellcat from the streets, devolves into a whimpering,  panicking damsel in distress in the film’s final ten minutes as her quest for vengeance takes a momentary turn for the worst. We’ve watched Linda’s character show he resourcefulness and calm demeanor repeatedly as she’s dealt with jerks, blonde bimbos and the most vile psychopaths humanity has to offer, but once things get only moderately bad and she is called upon to act quickly she starts crying and fumbling like a dipshit bimbo from a half rate slasher flick.  It’s the only blemish in an otherwise phenomenal piece of Trash cinema.

I’m awarding this puppy 5 out of 5 Dumpster nuggets. Well worth your time, chump!

Stay Trashy and keep your nose clean!

-Root

09
Jun
12

God Bless America (2011): Aiming for The Dream

a Primal Root written review

God Bless America (2011):  Aiming for The Dream

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

Bobcat Goldthwait’s latest directorial effort, “God Bless America”, takes on this disheartening concept in the form of a deeply dark, satirical comedy. It’s got something for everyone who’s sick of  the “Oh, no, you didn’t!” generation that’s grown up planted on a couch, glued to the screen, all but lobotomized, and no longer concerned with discerning thought, open-mindedness, respect, common courtesy, or even kindness. It’s a generation of people who demand respect, but don’t give it in return, who demand to be heard but refuse to listen,  who know they come first and the rest of the world just doesn’t fucking matter.  Of course, this is a “fictional” world that our protagonist, Frank, inhabits, right? A middle aged, middle class, divorced parent who also happens to be a war veteran.  He must deal with his obnoxious neighbors who don’t seem to mind their 24/7/365 wailing infant, and talk loudly and incessantly (over their screaming offspring) about occurrences on their favorite TV shows and the latest gossip on Bradgelina.
Frank is aware of this drought in the human spirit. That we have sold it for a fast food and soulless culture that worships greed and selfishness over compassion and selflessness.  Frank sits in his living room flipping through the channels as photoshopped pictures of President Obama dressed up as Adolf Hitler are promoted as some kind of warped sense of reality, a random, class-act reality TV star pulls out her bloody tampon and angrily splats it across the face of her costar who, I can only assume, crossed her (the details of their quarrel are lost among beeped-out dialogue). It’s a sick, sad world Frank lives in.  And not even he ever-cool “Daria” kind. To make matters worse, Frank has just lost his job, been informed he has an inoperable, fatal brain tumor growing in his noggin, and his pre-teen daughter refuses to come visit him flipping her shit over receiving a Blackberry instead of an iPhone for her birthday.
Frank can’t take it anymore, but just as he wraps his lips around the barrel of a Glock the blue light of the television screen spills over him.  “My Super Sweet 16” is on and an entitled high schooler is cursing and berating her parents in a self-righteous rage after she is presented with a top o’ the line vehicle that is NOT the one she had envisioned.  Frank comes to the epiphany that the gun he’s holding is pointed in the wrong direction.  Our hero ends up on a road trip to off the outrageous brat he blames for his own daughter’s (and the general world’s) ridiculously selfish behavior.  However, he, also, winds up inspiring and being inspired by a teenage girl, Roxy, who’s just as disillusioned and angry at the egomaniacally brain-dead society they are forced to abide.  Or are they?  They lock, load, and go on a rampage laying waste to those assholes who talk and text during movies, jerks who take up two full parking spaces, and hate mongers who stand at the side of the road holding signs declaring “God Hates Fags”. Frank and Roxy gun them down and mow them over with glee.  I can’t help but chuckle at the carnage as these people are decimated and punished for being a part of a “civilization that is no longer interested in being civilized”.
As is the case with Bobcat’s previous work, God Bless America will have you laughing with dark revelry as those who make everyday life a constant struggle finally mess with with the wrong nice guy.  Also typical of Bobcat, despite the deeply-etched satirical pitch-black edge, the filmmaker manages to imbue this work with genuine, human emotion, poignancy, and thought-provoking pathos.  Joel Murray, the instantly recognizable character, is amazing as Frank.  He infuses the role with so much heart and believability that you cannot help but root for the guy, whether due to or despite his impressive body count.  Roxy,Tara Lynne Barr, as Frank’s young sidekick and voice of the younger generation  is a firecracker, a natural whose sassy, fun performance, keeps the film well-paced and peppy.
God Bless America is a sometimes graphic, often profane and funny for most of its running time. However, by film’s end it starts to register that this is the same violent and malicious motivation that drives those who blow up abortion clinics or lynch people because of the color of their skin. The killers we profess to despise believe they are murdering those “who deserve to die” too, right?  The first 45 minutes of God Bless America starts out blazingly funny as it lampoons pop culture and society at large, but as it winds to a close the viewer may begin to wonder, have both Frank and Roxy steadily descended into the mean-spirited people they were trying to destroy?  God Bless America is hilarious, tragic, sometimes uncomfortable,  frequently challenging, and totally uncompromising.  It’s the kind of film that doesn’t come around very often, anymore.  One that asks some nasty questions, takes an angry stance, and asks the audience to internalize these things. That they sincerely ask themselves just what the fuck they make of it all.
And keep your eyes peeled for TV’s Frank from MST3K in a brief cameo.  Guck-Ga-Yuuuuw!
Stay Trashy!
-Root
02
Apr
12

“Bride of Chucky”: Une petite morte never killed anybody!

a Bootsie Kidd review

It seems too few flicks are able to juggle sheer playfulness, gore, heart, and raunch to give a film one helluva personality.  But with veteran deviants like Jennifer Tilly (Tiffany) and Brad Douriff (Charles ‘Chucky’ Lee Ray [I-IV]) directed by Ronny Yu (Freddy vs Jason), and the Child’s Play franchise’s head wordsman Don Mancini how could ‘Bride’ not have a style unlike any other.  Though Chucky still has as much of that acerbic charm as ever, ‘Bride’ differs from Child’s Play’s usual thrills that made you want to trade in your Cabbage Patch for a Skip-It.  Both hardcore fans and newcomers to the series may be skeptical of this installment’s ability to deliver, and while it’s true that ‘Bride’ brought Child’s Play into a new scope viewers would do well to remember that like our hero, himself, packaging rarely indicates punch.

 

Yu opens with harkening back to beloved James Whales’ atmospheric originals; a playfully spooky dark and stormy night with an expendable-looking cop nervously slinking through an evidence room.  We’re given just enough lightning flash to make out tagged items from other investigations.  Highlighted are cubbies containing a candid homage to horror legends, Michael, Jason, & Freddie (Jason face & Freddy fingers boxed in together… premonition much?).  All of which seems a not-so-subtle declaration of Chucky’s right to be counted amongst the greats.

Our lackey nabs a bulky black plastic bag and makes his way to the drop-off point, placing a call during which we hear one of Hollywood’s most familiar raspy coos.  Shortly after, owner of said coo makes our film’s first kill and it’s a gusher.  Tiffany slits Officer Crooked’s throat letting us know W.) just where a fair bribe & the moral high-ground can shove it and X.) she isn’t exactly the squeamish type.  Fun side note: he’d just lit a cig possibly making this the best anti-smoking ad ever.  Quothe the Tilly, eat your heart out, Truth.

 

And just who is this slaughtering pigs right out the gate?**  Enter the ultimate in 90’s sex appeal!  Blonde, boobs, and black leather is how Tiffany rolls, and, baby, it’s just fine by me.  She unwraps the loot and we get our first glimpse of our Chucky’s mug, well, 4/5 of a mug and looking like he’s seen better days.  Still, toy in hand Tiff and swaggers off to hostess one killer crafting montage complete with creepy doll appendages & eyeballs, brutally long hooks, thick black wormy string, and staple gun.  Compounded with Rob Zombie’s rough & dirty tunes, Tiff is like the warped, older sister May’s (2002) parents forbid her to be like.

She’s into crafting. No, really…

She’s into crafting. No, really…

     Next up: the ingénues and oppressive fatherly types.  Gordon Michael Woolvett, as David, reminds us we’re in the 90s with his strategically placed frosted tips and that being gay in this decade’s cinema meant you knew EVERYTING about orchids and were attending Princeton to study theatre arts on your figure skating scholarship.  A young-and-feeling-fresh Katherine Heigl, as sweetheart Jade, flexes her prissy-pants, pouty-face shmacting muscles and veteran John Ritter as Chief Warren Kincaid grunts, barks, and squints, firmly establishing himself as the meddling square that must later die in some satisfyingly creative way.

 

David is supposed to be Jade’s date for… prom? Yeah, that unnecessary plot-point thankfully fell to the wayside, but Oh, these wile kids!  We soon find Jade’s all googly-eyed for Tiger Beat hunk Jesse (Nick Stabile) who’s hiding in the backseat & reveals himself just long enough to shove his tongue down her throat.  This moment is the climax of their sexual/emotional chemistry throughout the movie.  However, these rascals are soon pulled over by Lt. “Needle Nose” Preston who, by virtue of his unrelenting grin, remains the absolute creepiest character of this film.

Unless you count Damien, (then Robert Arquette, now Alexis Arquette) one of Tiff’s puppies who she couldn’t take less seriously.  In her defense, it’s no easy task with a dude who looks like Marilyn Manson, acts like Brian Hugh Warner, and sounds like Keanu Reeves.  This pseudo-badass is more Creed than Cradle of Filth despite his best efforts to convince Tiffany that he’s the deranged sociopath of her dreams.   He weirdly crawls all over her bed mispronouncing “la petite morte”, the French idiom for an orgasm, but still manages a surprising sultry line, “Come on, Tiffany, let’s die a little”.  But minimal seductive powers are hardly enough to redeem this guy.  “HEYTIFFANY!” is the perfect introduction for Damien.  “Come on, I’ll catch my death out here!” to which she disinterestedly replies “Promises, promises”.  The contrast of her casual confidence against his pasty fragility makes this one of the best delivered lines of the flick & pretty much this sums up every relationship she’s waded through for 10 years since Chucky’s bizarre toy store demise.

 

Oh, right!  So just prior to Damien whimpering up Tiff’s tree, she successfully summons Chucky’s being back into his trashed little body.  Yu is wise in letting Chucky’s first move be to play on his strong suit, pitter-pattering around and appearing at the perfect moment to monumentally fuck with his prey’s head.  Being the perfect pair, Tiff also likes to play with her food.  She seductively cuffs Lamien to the bed, and though we know his demise is just around the river bend he sports a grin that looks like the unholy hybrid of Gary Busey & Julia Roberts’ mouths.   Upon revealing himself, Chucky tears out Dame’s crucifix labret weirdly rendering a veritable bloodbath, and covers his face with a pillow casually plopping down on it to sit and catch up with Tiff.  It has been 10 years, after all.

He had it coming for the sharpie tribal tatts.

Now, here comes a practical reason for my love of this movie.  Don Mancini, writer of the entire Child’s Play franchise, does a decent of job of getting personalities, chemistry, and history across in a pinch, managing to give you, dear viewer, the info you need while keeping you highly entertained and eager for more.   One of film’s weaknesses, however, is in giving their lackluster teen-vs-world subplot waaaaaay more attention than it merits and making moves like cutting away from Chuck & Tiff’s reunion to make time for dry toast characters.  The kids have to take a breathalyzer in the pouring rain, we get that Kincaid’s a weight-throwing douche bag constantly dogging on poor folk, Jade spouts off a couple awkwardly melodramatic lines, and we get the sense that they’re going to “get the hell outta dodge and nevah look back.”  Okay.  Are we done here?

 

Back to Tiff & Chuck.  Fellas, if your woman ever goes to the trouble of sewing up your tattered ragdoll of a body, holds séances in her (enviably cool Goth-chic) doublewide to call your spirit back from some nebulous limbo, AND cooks you Swedish meatballs… try not to laugh in her face and imply she’s “fuckin’ nuts” when she talks marriage and babies. It’ll just piss her off.  Hell hath no fury as we find when Tiff Masterlocks Chucky in what she’d hoped would be their child’s play pin leaving the casual viewer to wonder, “Was the lock-and-key baby digs really for their potential offspring?!”, already-parents to think, “Hey, now, there’s an idea…”, and Child’s Play aficionados noting, “Yeah, she’s going to need that, later…”

 

-'B-I-T-C-H’. That is incorrect. The correct spelling of woman is W-O-M”
-"Shows how much you know.”

How Chucky can launch the nanny out the window but he can’t break out of some dinky wooden box is beyond me.  But ironic ingenuity prevails when Chucky uses Tiff’s assumed engagement ring to file down the bars and gain freedom (see what they did there?).  In what is a visually spectacular scene, Chucky electrocutes Tiff by way of knocking the boob tube into her bubble bath while she’s watching Lanchester own it in Bride of Frankenstein (see? they did there it there, too).  He does the dirty deed with her dead body… transferring her being into the obnoxiously wholesome bride doll she bought to torture him.  Why?  Y) He’s a vindictive asshole, Z) to get her on board with the plan.  What’s the plan?  To retrieve an amulet buried with Chucky’s rotting corpse in Jersey and trick gullible dope Jesse and increasingly whiney Jade to hand over their bodies for inhabitation.  So now we have to road trip with these kids…  Are we there, yet?

 

Small price to pay, however, for the treat of seeing Tiff school Chucky on how to murder and murder good.  “Who the fuck is Martha Stewart”, Chucky’s inquires after Tiff’s inspiration for improvised “homicidal genius”.  She devises a booby trap (teeheegetit?causeshehasbigtits) that involves literally nailing Kincaid.  Tiffany’s critique of the go-to knife technique as 80s kitsch not only shows that Chucky’s in a new age, but that horror itself is always morphing into new form.  While horror filmmaker and fans seem fairly apt at respecting their roots, horror is a vehicle for reflecting the times and the times do change.  Just as monsters gave way to slashers, so slashers have taken somewhat of a back seat to the theme of ruthless ingenuity manifested through franchises such as Saw and given premonition by Tiff’s airbag nail launcher.  But such a creative genre isn’t given to choppy black and whites.  Chucky proves that that he’s still got it by later finishing off Kincaid with your tried-and-true maniacal multiple stabbing noting that “a true classic never goes out of style”, a move likely to leave true fans grinning and glowing with pride.                   

 

But still Chucky shows he can keep up with the time’s sense of inventive mayhem, with a make-shift car bomb making Needle Nose and his disturbing smile no more.  Ruthless Deviants: 3, Crooked Cops: 0.  Okay, look, Tiff and Chucky have some major bloodlust issues, but they’re not aimlessly drawn to killing.  It’s an enjoyable means to an end.  What’s that? How can you avoid certain death the next time you’re appearing in this movie?   It’s simple, really…

 

Survival Tips:

–  No looking in plastic bags – stay uncurious

–  No tampering with plots & rides

–  No happily allowing a self-professed murderer to cuff you up

–  No stumbling into highway traffic

–  No being an obnoxiously unnecessary character

–  Try your best not work in law enforcement or own a camper

 

Meanwhile, Jesse & Jade cope with their plans getting mucked up and being prime suspects for the past 4 murders by endlessly blaming each other.  So let’s see… now that we know what an irredeemably crappy couple those kids make and now they’re at the top of the FBI’s shit list what scene should we shoot for next?  Oo!  How bout a painfully awkward wedding?  At least it gives Tiff & Chuck the chance to have an actual heart-to-heart and us the chance to get in on some actual character chemistry.

Quick, they’re filming! Look like you’re into me!

Post-nuptials, Jesse & Jade are as supremely miserable as ever in their lavishly hokey honeymoon suite and are soon infiltrated by a couple who make you wonder which you loathe more: their painfully unfunny mayhem or that they resorted to goofy undies to try and trick you into finding them amusing (HAHAHAgetit?causethey’resilly).  They slight Chucky, steal Jesse’s dough, and freak out the kids with schmaltzy advances.  Feeling threatened by this woman’s ability to ruin a scene more effectively than she ever could, Jade kicks them out.

Tiff seeks revenge against the “thieving slut” shattering their ceiling mirror, the shards of which apparently fall at a velocity that impales the raunchy couple and their waterbed splashing tidal waves of bloody water all over the joint.  It’s all over for Chucky, he’s smitten.  He gets down on his knees, bites the ring off the newlydead’s severed finger, proposes in front of a roaring fire, and realizing “all the plumbing works” and “he’s feeling like Pinocchio over here” the saxophone & heavy panting begins.

 

Back on the road, a clusterfuck occurs in which the David’s obliterated by a semi, Chucky & Tiff reveal their alivedness (my review, my vocabulary) and their plans taking Jesse & Jade hostage at gunpoint, and kill a couple poor schmoes for their camper.  Soon after, the planets align and Jessie has the intelligent idea to pit Chucky & Tiff against each other.  Insults are thrown (“Take it from me, honey, plastic is no substitute for a nice hunk of wood!”) and chaos ensues!  Winnebago rolls & explodes, Tiff gets charbroiled, Chucky kidnaps Jade, Jesse kidnaps Tiff, amulet is retrieved, chicks are swapped, in a last second stroke of conscience Tiff dukes it out with Chucky, and a detective arrives just in time to see a possessed doll and clear Jesse & Jade’s names just before she blows him away (apparently high profile investigations are easily put to rest with one dude’s unfounded speculations).  WHEW!  Good thing they managed to magically roll our motor home a block away from the cemetery or this could’ve been complicated.

 

The ultimate Planned Parenthood ad.

Oh, and Tiff gives birth to an evil mutant abomination that eats the detective’s face off.  Completely ruining Jesse & Jade’s alibi this movie ends on what I would consider a bonafide high note!

 

In the end, ‘Bride’ is one of those raunchy rides providing a healthy dose of laughs, sex, and horror.  Although equipped with some righteously bloody moments, its aim is different than its two predecessors; it wants you to get to know your anti-heroes.  A strong part of Chucky’s appeal is that he thinks, talks, and acts like a person… a supremely disturbed person but a person, nonetheless.  He swears, cracks wickedly dirty puns, digs meatballs, gets horny, calls his gf ‘babe’ but has little patience for shmoopy romance, etc.  He’s a colorful dude.  Who wouldn’t want a little peek into his personal life?                                

 

And, my God!  Tiffany, alone, offers more than enough guts & heart to  get you hooked.  Even as her dolls self montages into her usual platinum bombshell- painting herself in magenta & black, donning a classically tough black pleather jacket, and lighting her cig with a zippo swiped from her 2nd to latest victim’s corpse- her wedding dress remains pristine beneath the flash. Underneath a playfully sadistic exterior Tiffany is tender-hearted to the core, wanting only to love and be loved.  Course, Tiff is a total Harvey Dent, so the flip side of that warped coin is in remembering that no matter how canned her dreams of marital bliss & baby-making may seem she is far from your brainwashed Stepford.

 

While prone to “female hysterics”, Tiff manages to put on her big girl panties, hatch the vast majority of their plans, and practically creams at the thought of getting her hands bloody.  She is bad, savvy, & devilishly resourceful.  Tiff seems like Mancini’s response to the new millennium woman’s identity crisis; wanting genuine intimate connection without having to sacrifice our hard-earned sense-of-self to acquire it.  She’ll go above and beyond to prove her love (i.e. 10 years bribing/killing cops to find her bf’s possessed plastic corpse, slave over that hot stove perfecting her Swedish meatballs, etc) but WOE to the man-doll who takes it for granted…  Sound familiar? By now, it’s a cinematic classic- the woman wielding her rolling pin in juggernaut resentment when she isn’t given her due. Domesticity’s alarming 180 from assured subservience to a yammering nag was film’s way of saying,”Wow, woman, your standards for respect are pretty obnoxious”.  Although Tiffany has her cliched lecture & dish throwing down pat, it’s easy to sympathize.  Maybe Barbie can eat her heart out, but Chucky’s a far fucking cry from Ken and a hijacked camper is the dreamiest house they’ll ever have.

The entire Child’s Play franchise seems to reflect a certain fear of role irregularities or reversals.  What was once a thing of comfort becomes the epitome of terror.  That the seemingly sweet, innocent youth could foster something dark and sinister is a trend possibly correlating with two monumentally impactful and sometimes oppositional American movements, women’s and children’s rights.  It’s no well-kept secret that hardcore classics such as Rosemary’s Baby & The Omen helped us deal with the controversies of Roe vs Wade, rewiring our cultural understading to actually consider the needs and wants of women (some would argue even to the detriment of a child’s right to life).  But the 80s and 90s brought on a new a strange blend of children’s rights and a crackdown on child criminal offenses.  Children were being seen less as saintly cherubs and more as actual people, capable of both kind and vicious deeds.

In Child’s Play, Andy & Chucky satisfy these extreme opposites, manifesting both the hopes and fears of parent and society. That little Andy is gradually introduced to the evils of the world through Chucky on such an extremely intimate level threatens these hopes of childlike purity. It addresses the increasing fear many had in those conservative times of children being exposed to too much of the world too quickly, how subversively evil can take form (the Good Guy with a Bad Boy streak), and how deeply that evil might take root in children (a plot to literally infiltrate Andy’s mind and body implying undertones of lewd & lascivious intent, yet ANOTHER sickening issue receiving big-time attention in the 80s and being addressed through other villains such as Freddy).

Christ, was there ANY large-scale issue Child’s Play didn’t cover?!  Well, we could always talk about its representation of single-parent homes, economic crisis, systemic discrimination against women in the workforce, shamelessly kid-focused consumerism, crooked cops (though we kind of covered that one), questioning the legitimacy of diagnosing psychosis… dude, we could go on for a while, right?  But these were and are all very real, very tense issues naturally needing one helluvan outlet.

And, baby, Chucky gave it to ’em.

Thanks for reading and stay trashy, kids!

**Bootsie lovingly respects & supports those in Uniform, even if the characters I love don’t.

 

Many thanks to Chuckyholics for providing killer images!

http://www.chuckyholics.com/site/gallery/bride-of-chucky-screencaps/?nggpage=7

 




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