Posts Tagged ‘Twins

29
Jul
18

(NSFW) Just Before Dawn (1981): Rise and Die

just before dawn

a Primal Root written review

“There’s nothing out there but God’s little creatures, more scared of you than you are of them.” – Warren, Just Before Dawn

Tales of backwoods hicks slaughtering city folks is as old as the hills themselves. Freshly showered kids in their L.L. Bean disco survival boots, shaved vaginas and cans of Pringles head off to hike and pitch their tents fully exposed in the elements and figure, oh yeah, nothing’s going to happen to me out here among the trees, wildlife and lack of of immediate assistance from someone who knows what the Hell they’re doing. From The Hills Have Eyes, to House of 1,000 Corpses, to Deliverance, Friday the 13th and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre; white-bread, Nike wearing, pink, privileged idiots with six figure incomes load up their campers and right into certain death despite there nearly ALWAYS being some old coot standing by the side of the rarely traversed, nearly grown over dirt road saying the same old speech “You’re doomed if you stay the night up that road!”

And what do those idiots do? Crank up the Def Leppard and rush forward into painful, bloody oblivion. It’s an old yarn always looking for an invigorating new take, or at least a competent hand to at the very least, make it interesting.

Enter the forgotten 1981 backwoods camping slasher gem, JUST BEFORE DAWN, and film that I’d heard a few people mention in decades past, but never in the same sentence as well worn genre fare. Upon finally getting a chance to watch it, I was not only blown blown away by how solid it was, but I would put it among my all time favorite slasher films of this backwoods sub-genre.

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Our pre-credit inciting incident takes place in a rotten, weather worn church where two older hikers are joking around and acting like goofballs trying to make one another laugh as they wonder through this holy relic. By the way, one of these old hikers is none other than Mike Kellin who played Mel, the owner of Camp Arawak in another excellent summer slasher film, Sleepaway Camp from 1983. When one man notices a freakish inbred redneck peering through a hole in th church’s roof and eerily backlit by the sun, he steps out slowly from the church, and in a real dick move, doesn’t mention it to his friend who is too busy being a comedian to notice. Well, as you might imagine, the man left in the church ends up getting possibly the most brutal death in the film and has a massive, multi-pronged machete stuck though his pee hole and right out his poop chute. And the film doesn’t cut away once this happens, oh no, we see the poor hikers horrified, pained reaction to suddenly find his cock and balls forcibly filleted in half and probably shoved right out his own asshole. He reached behind himself to feel the machete blade sticking right out through his jeans…it’s a nightmarish moment and one where the viewer cannot help but imagine the unfathomable agony that bastard must be experiencing as he slowly begins to bleed to death amongst the pews of stink, mildew encrusted old church.  This poor bastard’s bud, Ty, who just left him to die, runs off into the woods and down the side of the mountain with the giant, massively overweight bloodthirsty mountain man in hot pursuit.

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From left to right: Constance, Jonathan, Daniel, Megan & Warren. Who will survive and who will inherit the R.V.?

 

We are then immediately introduced to our core group of young folks headed up the side of the mountain in their camper to spend a long weekend hiking, skinny dipping, and mellowing out in the woods. There’s the fun loving couple Jonathan (Chris Lemmon, son of Jack Lemmon) and Megan (Jamie Rose, from Chopper Chicks in Zombie Town and a billion TV Shows), the nerdy photographer who didn’t bring a date and will probably be spending the majority of the trip, when not taking photos, masturbating into the bushes, Daniel (Ralph Seymour from Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, Killer Party, Meatballs part II) and our main course couple, our blonde alpha male and guy steering the RV, Warren (played by none other than Greg Henry who starred in James Gunn’s Slither and Guardians of the Galaxy flicks) and his worry wart, uptight, girlfriend, Constance (Deborah Benson from 1941, 2 Days in the Valley).  On their way up, they are warned by none other than the late, great, George Kennedy as Roy McLean, an old timer plant doctor and horse whisperer who knows there’s something terrible up in them mountains. Not only that, but the kids bust the shit out of a deer with the R.V., and run into Ty, who at some point came across a massive jug of whiskey as he was fleeing for his life, drank three quarters of it, and slurrily begged the kids to take him down the mountain before he is turned into a dick and ass kabob by some horrifying fat fucks in the woods. The kids leave him some food and head up the mountain, as they go, Ty watches as the Mountain Man hops from a nearby tree onto the back of the camper to pursue more nubile and fuckable victims.  Ty laughs his ass of and continues stumbling down the mountain.

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Soon our rag tag group of fresh faced youths have set up camp, hiked behind waterfalls, and noticed some peculiar whistling coming from the woods…the crew even noticed a young woman singing beautifully down by a stream, when they approach her, the girl goes running into the woods. All these strange omens mean little to the young folks as they starts letting loose. The most notable is Constance, who ditches her waist high khakis and long sleeve denims short, and slips on some tight fitting daisy dukes that let her butt cheeks hang out and the ties her button down shirt up to expose her mid-drift and tease at the subtle breasts bouncing around underneath. It’s a transformation that doesn’t go unnoticed by her camping buddies and seems to coincide with the five friends descending deeper into the woods, as if she is becoming a bit more wild herself. She even paints her toenails while sitting on a long. It’s cute, it’s hot, and it’s a little weird, but you know me, I’m down with weird female transformations, especially the wild and sexy kind.

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Before long, the kids find themselves down at the base of the waterfall where Jonathan and Megan decide to go skinny dipping and fool around a little bit while the other’s make breakfast. It’s all fun and games as Megan splashes water around and giggles while Jonathan goes under water, gropes her and floats up pretending to be dead, but soon the scene becomes one of the creepiest in the damn film, as we see one of the filthy, gigantic mountain men descend into the water in the background and go under… Jonathan dips under the water again and vanishes. Megan, assuming Jonathan is playing around, continues to giggle and call out to him. That’s when a filthy big old pair of hands start groping at her above and under water. She assumes Jonathan is playing around and getting frisky and it is really uncomfortable as these hands slide across her skin, and are most certainly poking ad probing some intimate places just below our field of vision. Soon, Jonathan surfaces and walks out of the water at the shore line and waves at Megan as she is being molested. As expected, she begins screaming and running out of the water. It’s a truly freakish moment brimming with suspense and unease, we know what these nasty backwoods killers are capable off and how perverse their methods of dispatch can be. The terror of the moment is only made right by the sight of Megan’s lovely body running out of the water, sopping wet, nekkid, running and beautiful. The moment was absolutely horrifying, but he coming out of the water surrounded by the lush forest sure makes you contemplate the beauty of nature.

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Now, what blows my mind, is the next time we see these kids they’re dancing all sexy like by fire light RIGHT AFTER THIS INCIDENT! Let me tell you, if my wife or anyone I was comping with came to me hysterically crying about being molested, I’d be loading up the camper and booking it down the side of the mountain. But even Megan seems to have gotten overt her trauma in no time and is clapping her ass cheeks on Daniel the nerd boy’s wang doodle like it’s Spring Break at Panama City Beach. Everyone is gyrating the love bits and shaking their money makes when a three piece family of rednecks (Papa, Mama, and the little singing girl from earlier)  bash the fuck out of their radio, emerge from the darkened woods and are now the THIRD people to warn these kids that they’re going to die.  You kids are “Gonna wake up THE DEVILS!”  Time to load up the camper and head to civilization right?

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Of course, the kids don’t listen, and the next day decide to go messing around in the woods in separate groups which leads to some of the most horrifying and suspenseful shit in the movie, with each murder being set up masterfully and pulled off with maximum suspense, which is not exactly the hallmark of the slasher genre. Nine times out of ten I find myself bored to pieces as someone is walking down a dark corridor, or walking around the woods calling out for a friend. But Just Before Dawn knows exactly what TO show us and what NOT TO show us in order to actually give us that sense of dread, or knowledge that something terrible is occurring. What’s also impressive is that the film doesn’t rely on gore effects to sell it’s shocks and scares, instead leaning on it’s actors to make us feel the fear, the pain, the struggle they’re in, which, again to my amazement, the cast fully delivers. Not only do they create characters we believe and genuinely like, but the film take the time to let the actors deliver what they need to in order to bring the audience with them into the horror they’re going through. Also, the score composed by Brad Fiedel is far eerier than most genre entries ever get and creates a nightmarish atmosphere of solitude and doom.

Jeff Lieberman wrote and directed this lean, mean, fucking slasher film which relies on subtlety, allowing the terror to build, and once the shit hits the fan, doesn’t shy away from laying it on us with harrowing set pieces, nail biting suspense and making us witness to some nasty fates. Lieberman’s a name I never hear mentioned when it comes to cult horror film makers, but the brother directed another fantastic down home horror fest, 1976’s Squirm, the LSD shock fest Blu Sunshine in 1977 and even directed the vastly underrated Halloween horror film, Satan’s Little Helper. Also, looking at his IMDB page, the guy directed a documentary about the mysterious death of boxing legend Sonny Liston and wrote, of all thing, The NeverEnding Story part II… Huh…

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Just Before Dawn is a slasher film that NEEDS to be recognized and HAS to be seen by fans of the genre. It’s a standout among a genre that was just at the beginning of going stale, even as early as 1981. Lieberman and company made a flick that pulls no punches and creates a real nightmare scenario. The killers themselves are a little goofy when you finally get a good look at them, but the actors trying to escape from them do a damn good job of selling their menace, even when the killer’s goofy unibrow and giant beer bellies, do not. The final battle at base camp is fucking astounding and in it’s execution, and in it’s final moments, just before dawn, we see a new dawn and the final transformation. It has to be seen to be believed.

I award Just Before Dawn FIVE OUT OF FIVE Dumpster Nuggets.

You have got to see this sucker!

Stay Trashy!

-Root

21
Nov
17

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

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a Primal Root written review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I reward Blood Rage FOUR out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

 

 

 

 

 




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