Posts Tagged ‘the

02
Aug
13

The Conjuring (2013): Home Ownership: a Cautionary Tale

Conjuring_Online_Art_INTL

a Primal Root written review

edited by Bootsie Kidd

I’ve always loved a good ghost story. I was raised on the “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” anthology, watched Tobe Hooper’s  “Poltergeist” on a near constant loop, on the weekends talked my Mom into renting copies of  black and white classics like “The House on Haunted Hill” and “The Haunting”, and looked forward to the segments of TV’s Unsolved Mysteries featuring “true tales”  of the poor crackers who crossed paths with nocturnal spirits and ghastly apparitions.  The chills were plentiful, but as you grow up you realize just how cheesy a lot of this stuff can be, and it only really gets down to spooking you once it sinks in on a cerebral level much later… when you’re at home, going down that darkened hallway you’ve walked down countless times before  and your mind suddenly begins wondering what inexplicable, otherworldly presence could be lurking behind each door, just biding its time before it springs out and cause you to shit your pants, lose your grip on sanity, and keel over dead from cardiac arrest.

It’s been a long damn time since I’ve seen a movie about a haunting that has actually frightened me beyond the terror felt over wasting money on a movie that promised chills and delivered yawns and moderate chuckles at the lameness of it all. From “Paranormal Activity” and its endless sequels, “A Haunting in Connecticut”  to James Wans’ own “Dead Silence” and “Insidious”, they all just come across as either lazy and predictable or over the top, cheap student films.  I usually wind up joking with my viewing buddies and waiting for something to happen rather than having my pants scared off of me, a rare occurrence that always leaves me breathless and fellow viewers stunned, as I typically go commando.

Okay, where's the fire place?

Okay, where’s the fire place?

I’m getting side-tracked. Okay, “The Conjuring” begins on an creepy-enough note telling the tale of The Warrens’ encounter with what a group of roommates assume is a possessed doll from Hell going by the name of Annabelle. This thing looks like the aborted, fossilized remains of Bozo the Clown and post-face-tightening Nicole Kidman’s love child. Why in the world would ANY schmo would bring this doll home is beyond me. But hey! you get what you pay for, and the doll begins writing on the walls in blood-red crayon, seeming to running around the place on her own (although, unlike your favorite Good Guy and mine, we never get to see her scurry), leaving little love notes of “Miss me?” around the house to be found by the horrified occupants, and banging on doors so loudly your testicles would probably rise into your throat with abject terror.  Anyhoo, we never see these three moron roomies, again, and it’s on to establishing Ed and Lorriane Warren,  the real life team of hardcore paranormal investigators (portrayed by Patrick Wilson and the unfathomably lovely Vera Farmiga) just now decided their most terrifying tale of a supernatural encounter is ready for public consumption.  Submitted for the approval of the Midnight Society, they present to us, “The Conjuring.”  Ed and Lorraine are leading a pretty action-packed life, as they traverse the country ghostbusting, debunking red herrings as rusty pipes, and giving lectures while leaving their little daughter at home… with an entire stock of possessed and evil artifacts from their many ghost hunting expeditions. But don’t worry! These artifacts are locked behind a door, because nothing keeps the power of evil at bay like a bolted door… It also becomes apparent that Lorraine has in the not-too-distant past encountered something during one of their investigations that has shaken her to her very core. Something that her ever-loving husband, Ed, concerned about bringing his highly sensitive telepathic wife into the ghost hunting fold again.

I get this reaction frequently when women look into my trousers.

I get this reaction frequently when women look into my trousers.

To be honest, the story of ‘The Conjuring” is a pretty well-worn tale. A couple and their herd of children (in this instance, all little women) decide to relocate to a beautiful, rural fixer-upper that they purchased for a steal, in the bygone days before full-disclosure was a legal necessity and this particular home’s blood-spattered, demonic, psycho-bitch history was kind of left out of conversation.  The family is loving, always smiling, and ready to play games at the drop of a dime. It might sound like a trite Hallmark card, but as a viewer, I couldn’t help but genuinely like this family. Sweet people brought to life by some very talented folks; Lila Taylor as Carolyn, the sweet, southern, ice tea Mother of the clan, and Ron Livingston as Roger (yes, of Office Space fame) as the hard-working, average dope Dad.  On their first night in their new home they experience a few minor disturbances, many of which we might encounter in our own home from time to time, but, ultimately, nothing too serious occurs. Besides finding a boarded-up, dusty, creepy old basement under the stairs. Everyone is super happy about the discovery (YAY! MORE SQUARE FOOTAGE!) but things very quickly go to Hell as whatever was tucked down in the basement is now roaming around the house offing the family pooch and playing chilling games with every member of the family. Also, a Burtonesque, antique music box happens to present itself right next to an ancient, gnarly oak tree in the back yard.  One of the daughters adopts it, and (que Amityville horror score) unleashes her new imaginary best friend! Her buddy can only be glimpsed in the mirror of the music box once the music within finishes playing. It’s a story we’ve heard and seen countless times before, but to my own shock and amazement, filmmaker James Wan (“Insidious”, “Dead Silence”, “Saw”) uses a slow, old school pace and a nice, subtle touch to really let the suspense and dread sink into the viewer.  I was genuinely impressed that James Wan has grown up so much as a director. Make a few more films as intensively creepy as “The Conjuring”, and I might just become a fan!

This would make a damn fine place to hide my porn!

This would make a damn fine place to hide my porn from my wife and our half a dozen daughters!

Some deeply disturbing incidences start to occur in their new  home. The utmost of which involves one of the young daughters seeing something in the darkness behind her bedroom door which, really, might be one of the most horrifying and suspenseful sequences I’ve experienced in a movie theater in years (not a drop of blood spilt, no score, all acting and cinematography). Finally, Carolyn heads to a community college where The Warrens are lecturing, and literally begs them to come check out their own private House on Haunted Hill. The Warrens, initially skeptic, and not-a-little ghost-worn grudgingly but compassionately agree to check it out.  Dressed in their Mod Squad 1971 ensembles, and looking quite fetchingly groovy, the two step into the house and instantly know this place is a deadly death trap of death.  Lorraine has visions, Ed gets nervous, and the once the two investigate the history of the house, whose past tenants were all possessed child murdering evil-doers all in the wake of the original tenant, a witch who, to get in good with The Dark One, sacrificed babies to Satan, and ended up hanging herself from said gnarly oak tree in the backyard… Like I said days pre-total disclosure realtor ethics.

Of course, The Warrens take the case, and decide to rescue the family and exorcise the house of whatever evil is present there.

You smell something?

You smell something?

“The Conjuring” is really the best of both worlds as far a supernatural horror flick is concerned. The first half is expertly crafted horror in which the audience is left holding on to the edge of their seat, completely at the mercy of the increasingly crafty James Wan. The story he is unfolding, waiting for the beast to finally show itself.  And, much to my delight, Wan keeps us guessing and waiting for most of ‘The Conjuring”‘s run time, allowing it to effectively chill our bones and build a truly sinister house of cards around us.  Then, once the other shoe drops, we find ourselves in the eye of an ever-mounting storm of blood, horror, and chaos that, in a lesser film, would probably come off as disenchantingly goofy. Here, however, we have grown to appreciate every one of our central characters so that, once the proverbial ghost shit hits the fan, our pulse rises and we are actually fearful for our new kin. Keeping in mind that the haunted house genre relies heavily on people being too lame-brained to get out of the house the second disturbing shit starts befalling everyone in the family, but this is coming from a guy (and an audience) raised on horror and its tropes. A family in 1971, plagued by this steadily-rising level of creepy encounters might just try and explain things away until things got so bad they have to reach out for help. Plus, a family this size with only one working parent and all their money invested in this house on the edge of Hell hardly has the kind of money to be spending on stays at the local Motel 6.  I guess in most horror films you have to suspend your disbelief, but “The Conjuring” is such a goddamn great spookshow you won’t waste your time questioning such things as little girls are claiming to see creatures in the darkness and the simple clapping of hands send chills down your spine.

“The Conjuring” is by far and away the best horror flick I’ve seen in the theater so far in 2013. It plays it cool, takes its time, and before you know it, you’re sitting in your theater seat, heart thumping in your chest, awaiting the next horror show to befall this poor family and the heroic Warrens.  After the film was over, I found myself sitting with Bootsie Kidd totally worn out, as if stepping off a roller coaster. Both of us, catching our breath and totally awestruck by what we’d just seen. We chatted through the end credits which featured the effectively eerie score by Joseph Bishara, which rivals Lalo Schifrin’s timelessly nerve jangling score to “The Amityville Horror.” And then…we had to go home, where the evens I had seen on screen just minute prior suddenly weighed pretty heavily on my imagination. “The Conjuring” stayed with me long after I left the theater and if that’s not the mark of an effective horror film, I’m not sure what is.

Of course, this is the flick we see just as we begin looking to purchase a home together. Good timing! Jeez…

“The Conjuring” is a smartly executed , old school ghost story excellently told and well worth checking out. Hopfully it will be available to own once Halloween rolls around. 😉 I’m awarding this puppy FIVE out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets. This one is a keeper!

Till next time,

Check your home’s history before moving in and Stay Trashy!

-Root

18
Aug
11

Final Destination 5: Death, Still a Jerk After All These Years.

a Primal Root written review

Death in the cinema is a strange subject. On one hand it can be dealt with as something gentle, life affirming and even heroic. On the other hand…it can be cynical and used to make us laugh and/or vomit. Then there’s The Final Destination franchise…the now five sequel deep slasher franchise that cuts out the middle man by casting Death itself as the main antagonist. And let me tell you, Death is one Hell of a creative genius when a debt is owed.

If you’ve seen the first film you are already in on the basic structure of these stories. A group of cliches get together around some form of transit and end up narrowly escaping a horrific death thanks to someones psychic vision. See, the shitty part of the deal is, now Death has it out for you because it didn’t get to burn you alive or shred you into several dozen meaty chunks when it was supposed to.  This is when Death dons his little black beret, grows a hipster mustache and goatee, grabs his paint brush and gets to work crafting some of the most ridiculous/gut churning deaths it can come up with.

And for whatever reason, I cannot help coming back for more. A lot of that is due to the fact I really enjoy the first three films as excellent examples of grand guignol entertainment kept lively with a mischievous, demented penchant for black comedy and even building suspense, in some cases, as to when and how people will meet their demise which will either be brutal, shocking, hysterical or a combo punch knock out of all three.Final Destination 1-3 delivered the goods for me but the premise seemed to finally be wearing out by the time part part 4 (THE Final Chapter) was farted out into theaters under the guise of being the last installment much like Friday the 13th part 4: The Final Chapter did decades before.  They added 3D, removed any attempt to make the characters interesting or even remotely likable. But worst of all? The kills just felt dreary and uninspired which could be a result of the audience not feeling a damn thing or caring at all for the folks in peril.

And, as we all know, when money talks sequels walk, THE Final Destination turned out to not be the last stop after all! Here we are with a brand new 3D misadventure! Final Destination 5 avoids any pretense of being the final installment in this notorious horror film series and, instead, gives us a return to form from a franchise that really felt dead in the water after it’s shittacular fourth outing.

Who farted, ya'll?

Here, we are introduced to a young man who has to choose between following his culinary dreams of studying under a master chef in Paris, France or his ridiculously attractive and sweet girlfriend. First, he and his fellow coworkers and friends must survive a corporate team building retreat. They all gather on a bus and head for a rickety old suspension bridge…that’s having some work done…as dark clouds and high winds approach…and Dust in the Wind by Kansas (BRILLIANT comic timing by death.) plays on the radio. Who knew he was also a disc jockey on the side?

Anyone with even the tiniest crumb of knowledge of this series of films will know what happens next. Yes, the bridge begins falling apart. Piece by piece and our main cast is  crushed, splattered, impaled, and in possibly the most horrific death I have yet seen in this franchise, (SPOILER!!!!!) doused with a barrel full of molting tar…I’m not going to lie, I genuinely got queasy at this one. (END SPOILER!!!!!) And in this sequence, especially, you can see where that 3-D budget paid off in spades. Sail Boat shot, anyone?

Of course, the gang survives thanks to the young chef fellow’s vision and Death starts visiting them one by one to collect in it’s trademark visceral, grisly fashion. I’m going to try and avoid as many spoilers as possible, but never, ever assume you know what’s going to happen in any of these death scenarios. That fucker is a master of misdirection in this entry and most kills come right out of left field which makes the movie that much more enjoyable to experience. Many times, once you finish cringing in shared agony, you can’t help but crack up a bit in cynical laughter…I call this the America’s Funniest Home Videos principal.

Final destination 5 also features the triumphant return of one of my favorite elements of the franchise, the ever awesome Tony Todd, as William Bludworth, mortician by trade and the only person who seems to really understand the nature of Death’s “design”.  Bludworth was featured in FD 1&2, was the voice heard coming from the Satan Roller Coaster in FD3 but was totally missing from THE Final Destination. Let me tell you, having him back dropping his typical cryptic hints for those waiting on death’s arrival to decipher, is a much welcome and needed element in these films. As a sort of bystander, Bludworth is the only connection or walking dead have to the rules and laws that death goes by. Still, at this point in the series we all know no matter what rules you follow Death will get you in the end. No matter what. No one survives. Bludworth should really just be throwing his arms in the air and saying, “Man, I’m sorry, but you’re kind of fucked.”

"I'll see you soon..." - Bludworth

Another aspect of Final destination 5 that I really appreciate is that the film’s writers tried their damnedest to add some story to this thing. After THE Final Destinations lack of any kind of attempt at narrative story telling I was nervous going into Final Destination 5 expecting the same sad ride of faceless characters getting their poopers sucked out by pool drains. Instead, we are treated to a bit of a love story, an investigation and even a man trying to come to grips with the terrible hand life has dealt him and is steadily driven crazy. It’s no Citizen Kane, that’s to be understood, but I can always grin and appreciate when a screenwriter takes a tired, done to  death (excuse the pun.) premise and tries his or her best to give it something more than just the glorious blood and body parts flying at the audiences faces in the magnificent 3rd dimension!

The cast of the film is rounded out by some familiar and, dare I say, talented faces. Not only is Tonyy Todd (Candyman) in on the festivities, Emma Bell (Walking Dead), Courtney B. Vance ( from Law & Order: Criminal Intent. My favorite incarnation of the series. :D), Miles Fisher (Gods and Generals and a dead ringer for Tom Cruise) and even a few other guest appearances from past Final Destination alumni (hmmm) make the best of their time on screen and give the material more credibility than many would suggest it deserves.

In the final analysis (see what I did there?)Final Destination 5 reestablishes everything I enjoyed about the franchise in it’s early days. This is the 3-D entry that should have been. It’s an apologetically dark film laced with that same sick humor that made the original trilogy an enjoyable viewing experience. Especially with a crowd.

Final Destination 5 gives us some new twists and turns and even packs in an awesome twisted ending that’s sure to please all the old school fans and intrigue those new to the franchise.Final Destination 5 is brutal, trashy and fun and if you are a fan or someone who knows this is something they might enjoy it is definitely worth checking out in it’s 3-D format.

Could Final Destination 5 really be…A New Beginning? 😉

Stay Trashy,

-Root

03
Jul
10

Amelia Kinkade, The Trash Cinema Collective Profile

"Back in the day, we did horrible things, and laughed like hell." - Amelia Kinkade

a Primal Root Interview

Thanks to our friends over at FromDuskTillCon.com, I recently received the opportunity to interview the multi-talented actress, dancer, author, artist, animal activist  and animal psychic, Amelia Kinkade. That’s right, the lovely woman behind one of the most blood thirsty and wicked femme fatales to ever ravage Trash Cinema, Angela from the Night of the Demons series.

Continue reading ‘Amelia Kinkade, The Trash Cinema Collective Profile’

08
Jun
10

Monster Bash 2010: Movies, Monsters, and Mayhem

The Primal Root’s Dirty Thoughts

Hey gang, Jess (Moonshine) and I just came back from Atlanta Georgia after attending The Silver Scream Spookshow’s Rock and Roll Monster Bash 2010 over at the Starlight Six Drive-In Theater. As a life long student of Drive-In culture and one of the many carrying a torch for this long standing American tradition I felt it was my duty, my destiny to be in attendance. The Drive-In tradition is one of exploitation, sleaze and mindless fun where everyone drops their hang ups and goes for it. I went for a bash, I went for spectacle, I went for some Trash Cinema Classics. I did not leave disappointed.

Moonshine and I got in a right at noon, the skies were dark and overcast which made us a little nervous about the rain but otherwise thrilled that it would be cooler out there than anticipated on that long stretch of black top in the hellish Georgia summer heat. We drove directly to the same spot we claimed at last year’s Drive-Invasion, popped up our shade, filled up our cooler with the essentials and got ready for the long, nasty, fun filled day ahead of us.

PBR: Official Cheap-O Beer of the Trash Cinema Collective

Once things got swinging we both took a trip up to the vendor area to check out what people were selling. There was an excellent selection of vintage Grindhouse posters and lobby cards, original art work, and all manner of t-shirts emblazoned with every sleazy flick you could imagine. There was some very cool stuff on display, as always, and my lovely lady Moonshine and I had a pleasurable time perusing and chatting it up with our Drive-In brethren.


Another great feature of the Monster Bash were the six ass kicking rockabilly, metal, and rock and roll bands who got this hootenanny hopping. Probably my favorite performance of the whole day happened early on as The Luchagors took the stage in full costume and gave a no holds barred, high energy, performance. Not to sell the other bands short because Grinder Nova, Apocalyptic Visions, Daikaiju, Iron Maiden Tribute, and Frankenstein all got in the spirit of things a gave their all.

The Luchagors


Grinder Nova

Also on hand were the ladies and gents of Atlanta’s own Blast-Off Burlesque who in between bands entertained us Drive-In Mutants with some sultry moves up on the main stage. Those young ladies certainly know how to captivate an audience, let me tell ya.

Who was our Master of ceremonies, you ask? None of than the man behind the Spookshow himself, Proffessor Morte and his gang! This was my first time encountering the Silver Scream Spookshow troupe but they were pretty darn funny. It could be just because I’m a dork but every singles joke they made had me in stitches. Whenever they took the stage I was reminded of the traditional Saturday morning horror movie hosts. they were cheesy, but in the absolutely best possible way. Their tone perfectly fit the show.

Professor Morte overseeing the Brain Eating Contest.

During all this fun there was something called the Model Shoot Out or something…Not exactly sure what that whole deal was but apparently it was the reason there were so many guys and gals running around with heavy duty cameras snapping pictures of all these scantly clad, good looking, women with colored hair and blood spattered across their faces all over the place. I am not complaining one little bit. Hell, as girls would pose I;d snap a few shots myself with my dinky little camera. If anything, it added to the good vibes.

VAMPIRELLA! Thwart my raging boner!


As the sun went down the rain began to come down on the Drive-In crowd for about a half an hour. Thankfully it came to a hault just as our Double Feature of 70’s nature revenge films began. First up…

KINGDOM OF THE SPIDERS!

The infamous killer tarantula flick from 1977 starring the ever talented William Shatner. This little beauty of a horror film is about a small country town out in the desert that’s getting ready for some kind of yearly jamboree they always put on to bring in the tourists and help out the local economy. Of course an army of about a billion migrating, flesh eating, uber toxic pissed of tarantulas arrive on the scene mere days before the event killing off livestock and the residents. William Shatner plays the local veterinarian who calls in the help of a sophisticated big city sexy blonde female veterinarian to figure it all out and poke with his cattle prod in the process. Our two scientists come to the conclusion that due to DDT and other chemicals killing off all their typical prey the local spiders have grown aggressive and are now hunting for food in packs and taking on all sorts of bigger game. The question is…how long till they turn on us? Answer: Real quick.

Kingdom of the Spiders may not make a whole lot of sense when looked at critically (Just step on the spiders, man.) but one can’t deny the terror inherent in having a face covered in hairy, bulbous, flesh eating spiders. Another element that sets this flick above many of it’s contemporaries is that it takes it’s time to establish every single character, their relationships and their emotional connections. You really get the feeling that every death is a tragedy and you feel the weight that each of these deaths has on the people closest to the victim. And this is a low budget monster movie! Truly a cut above the typical revenge of nature film.

Our second feature…

GRIZZLY! (1976)

Our second feature of the evening was the intense JAWS rip-off GRIZZLY about a nature reserve and park beset by some kind of prehistoric man eating killer grizzly bear from Hell. This sucker has come down the mountain in hopes of finding some folks eat although he seems to really enjoy just ripping their limbs off and leaving their bodies.

Grizzly was the most successful independently produced film of 1976. Watching it for the first time I couldn’t for the life of me understand why. It’s pretty bad even by Trash Cinema standards. It follows the JAWS outline with no subtlety whatsoever. In fact, I never learned the three main character’s names I just called them by which character from JAWS they were. There’s the frustrated head forest ranger who has just been relocated to this park who is our Sheriff Brody in this picture (played by, to my surprise and enjoyment, Christopher George of Pieces and Gates of Hell fame), there’s our young scientific bear specialist who likes to enter the bears natural environment to study them (Who will be our Hooper) and then there’s our bear hunting, vietnam veteran helicopter pilot to serve as our Quint. Yeah, he even has a Vietnam speech.

It’s all kind of dull outside the highly comical attack sequences where limbs fly through the air covered in red tempera paint and attached to fishing lines. This stuff is classic and I laughed myself silly. I will give kudos to the filmmakers behind Grizzly for having the balls to have their killer bear attack a small child and rip his leg off before killing the little boys broom wielding mother. That scene is the high point of the entire film. Well, next to the part where our Forest Ranger blows the living shit out of the Grizzly with a bazooka.

Moonshine at the 7th Annual Monsterbash

All and all we had sweaty, boozed up, epic time at The Rock and Roll Monster Bash this year and we are both ready for next year’s get down. Now we just gotta recoup for Starlight Six’s Drive-Invasion this September. Thanks for showing us Floridians such a good time, guys! We’ll be seeing you again in a few months. I recommend you guys reading this plan on attending next year’s Monster Bash. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

The Primal Root at the old stomping ground of Trash Cinema.

As my hero Joe Bob Briggs always says, “The Drive-In Will Never Die!”

Stay Trashy,
-The Primal Root

02
Apr
10

The Primal Root’s Rotten Reviews presents My Tutor (NSFW!)

Hey Gang!

Bobby just flunked his French Final, but it’s cool, his daddy just hired him a tutor to teach him the ropes about life, language and pure sexual gratification.

In our first episode of our second year we’re taking a look at 1983’s My Tutor, one of the best teen sex comedies / coming of age films ever made. Featuring Caren Kaye, Olivia Newton John’s ex-husband, and a very young Crispin Hellion Glover in a ground breaking, unintentionally creepy performance.

So let’s get our Trash Cinema text books ready and enjoy the extra curricular sleaze that is, My Tutor.

Stay Trashy!
– Root

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/85892250″>(NSFW) My Tutor (1983) The Primal Root’s Rotten Reviews Episode 10</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user24396091″>Kevin Cole</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>




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