Posts Tagged ‘unique

10
Feb
16

Phantom of the Paradise (1974): Salutations from the Other Side

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a Primal Root written review

I’ve long held that the golden age of American horror cinema stretched from the late 1960’s to the end of the 1970’s. It was an age when turmoil, violence and change was in the air. Filmmakers of the day were shaken and inspired by the horrifying, nightmarish world around them, internalized this terror and in the end brought it out of the darkness as some of the most devastatingly influential horror films the world will ever witness.  There is one other genre that happened to thrive in the 1970’s, one I know far less about, and that is the Rock Opera.

Flicks like Tommy, Jesus Christ Superstar, Grease, The Wiz not to mention, The Rocky Horror Picture Show would either garner rave reviews and great success or go on to become beloved cult films the world over. However, some fell by the wayside and are just now starting the reemerge and find recognition as beautiful cinematic oddities they are. And there is none I am more proud to see finally garnering the praise it has long deserved, Brian de Palma’s 1974 film, Phantom of the Paradise.

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Phantom of the Paradise blends the horror trappings of The Phantom of the Opera and Faust together and give it a glam rock makeover serving as a dark comic satire of the entertainment industry. Phantom tells the tale of Winslow Leech (William Finley in an awesome performance) a young and naive composer looking to make it big with his life long work, a cantata based on the legend of Faust. No sooner does the the owner of Death Records, an utterly charming, smooth talking, calm, collected and utterly malevolent man who has sold his soul to The Devil and goes by the name of Swan (Paul Williams) hear Winslow’s music does he find a way to steal it, exploit it and turn it into pop music garbage to open his long delayed rock palace, The Paradise, with. Swan frames Winslow and has him sent to jail where he is volunteered for an experiment which requires him to have all his teeth removed and replaced with new metallic chompers.  It isn’t long before Winslow hears his own composition on the radio, recreated as a turd of a pop song, and flees from prison. In a psychotic rage Winslow breaks into Death Records, ends up getting disfigured in a vinyl record press, vanishes into the night and is presumed dead…But soon after his disappearance a masked phantom begins stalking the darks hallways and backstage at The Paradise, determined to rain murderous vengeance upon all of those who have hurt and betrayed him.

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Along the way, The Phantom ends up becoming infatuated and falling in love with a young, inexperienced but quite talented singer named Phoenix (Jessica Harper), the only person The Phantom permits to sing his work. Anyone else who tries, he promises, will be killed. Of course, Swan makes the decision to have The Phantom’s music performed by what he considers to be the future of music, a glam rock monster who goes by the name of Beef (Gerrit Graham, who is funny as shit in the role). Despite mid shower plunger to the gob warning from The Phantom, Beef is convinced to perform as scheduled…

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Phantom of the Paradise functions as great piece of anti-establishment satire against the soulless corporatization of art and artists alike. Not only this, but Phantom is also a full on musical, complete with song and dance routines, with every song written and composed by Paul Williams. These elements together do nothing but accentuate the strangeness of the film, it’s so bizarre, so daring and so breathlessly creative, it leaves the viewer’s mind reeling. All this quirky genre blending and tonal shifts leaves us with an unexpectedly heart wrenching musical tragicomedy. I can think of few other films that achieve this level of absurdity and poignancy.

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Still with me? I know the description above may sound a bit overwhelming, and indeed, there is a whole lot to take in with Phantom of the Paradise. It is sensory overload, but in the best possible way you can imagine. Despite the film’s litany of references to other cinematic greats, (Touch of Evil and Psycho, to mention just the tip of the iceberg) Phantom of the Paradise is among the most singular and unique films ever made. Any attempt at synopsis can only do Phantom so much justice, because the heart of the film lies in the experience of watching it. It is very often compared to The Rocky Horror Picture Show, released a year after Phantom of the Paradise, and if I am being honest, the two couldn’t be more different. I suppose it is more inviting to spend time with a group of people basking in their own carnal desires than with a group of tortured artists who sold their soul for rock and roll. It’s just a damn shame Phantom of the Paradise never quite caught on in the states. Of course, I’ve heard the film is fucking HUGE in Canada. And, in face, the two fellows from Daft Punk, according to Paul Williams, met at a screening of Phantom of the Paradise! But that has nothing to with anything…just a cool bit of trivia.

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However, in a way, I kind of hope it remains a hidden gem that exists just below the radar. This way it will never be over exposed to the point of nausea or run into the ground to the point of tedium. Phantom of the Paradise is much beloved by those drawn to it’s peculiar story, dark, comedic, enchanting characters, beautiful songs and unchained artistry. Phantom is a film every bit as much for the misfits as Rocky Horror, but with a much more tragic and lyrical fantasy narrative. You cannot help but feel pity and sympathy for Winslow and righteous indignation once he is transformed from sweet Winslow to the pained and murderous Phantom and finds his revenge. One cannot find something darkly funny about Swans form of easy going, suave, laid back evil as he knowingly manipulates those around him to his bidding, feel sadness as Phoenix is corrupted by fame and absolute astonishment at the the radical comedic performance of Gerrit Graham as Beef.

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Phantom of the Paradise is a marvel of a film. Brian de Palma, Paul Williams and company have crafted something so different, so daring that mainstream audiences had no idea what to make of it. A film so beautiful, poetic, energetic and well played is obviously becoming relic. A thing of the not too distant past, when artistry, creativity and taking chances we heralded above ticket sales and domestic box office grosses. I suppose it’s no big surprise at this point for me to reveal Phantom of the Paradise would rank as one of my top 5 favorite movies of all time. It’s a story of love, passion, betrayal, revenge and possibly redemption set to some of the grooviest goddamn songs to ever be featured in a motion picture. A story of how monsters are created and the good guys and bad guys we all have the potential to be. For those who have never seen it, I recommend highly recommend checking it out, but keep in mind it is not everyone’s cup of glitter. For those of us who adore the film, it;s always worth heading over the The Paradise from time to time and witnessing one of the funniest, most lyrical, most enjoyable tragic love stories ever told.

I’m awarding Phantom of the Paradise 5 out of 5 Dumpster Nuggets.

Stay Trashy, Gang!

-Root

09
May
15

Cafe Flesh (1982) The Positives and Negatives of The Nuclear Kiss (NSFW)

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a Primal Root written review

“Is there anything sweeter than desire bound in chains?” – Max, Cafe Flesh

Fucking is a constant. The burning desire for pleasure and acceptance. The need for human contact. it’s unshakable, you can not ignore this primal, basic, animal urge to rock on with the most wonderful way to spend your time, sex. Now, imagine if you will, a post apocalyptic future where those who survived the nuclear holocaust suffered a terrible affliction, one that there is no known cure for. A plaque that keeps you from giving in to the craving, the temptation, the need to get freaky any time of the day or night.

Post WWIII finds 99% of the surviving population completely unable to have any sexual contact with another human being whatsoever, and the remaining 1% are enlisted to put on bizarre live sex shows for those who can no longer have sex anymore. See, the 99% who cannot experience any sexual gratification whatsoever get violently sick whenever feeling sexual stimulation of any sort. Now, this 99% spends their free time in dark clubs watching those lucky few who can pork one another without projectile vomiting across the wasteland watching them slide in and out of one another all night long while drooling and dreaming of an existence that doesn’t so closely resemble Hell.

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And when I say these live sex shows are bizarre, I mean to the extreme in most cases. Bizarre to the point of, as Bootsie Kidd so aptly pointed out, resembling Kids in the Hall sketches with real women and money shots. My personal favorite has to be the fuck session that involves a man with an enormous pencil for a head wearing a three piece suit bending a lovely young woman over a work desk and fucking her from behind while a nekkid broad with ample bosom, tied back red hair, and a pair of Poindexter glasses on types away on her computer while insistently asking if we’d like her to type a Memo. IT’s pornography, sure, but it’s pretty goddamn high concept. There’s also a wonderful scene early on where a stay at home Mom gets fucked and jizzed all over by a mutant part rat part man milk man all while her three freak babies do a tightly choreographed dance from their little feeding chairs int he background. It;s a spectacle of low budget, highly innovative and creative pussy pounding unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It’s the kind of stuff that makes you want to wake up Grandma so she can come watch with you,

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Beyond the truly arresting hardcore artsy fartsy sex shows is a stunningly downbeat post apocalyptic science fiction film. I can only imagine the near sducidal depression and frustration the 99% knows as “Sex Negatives” must feel knowing that they will never, ever, in their entire existence know the intimate connection of love and sex with anyone ever again. Not even from themselves. And to watch these lucky bastards being able to use their rock hard cocks and dripping wet lady lairs to their fullest potential…man, in a way, this really is a perfect illustration of Hell.

To make matters worse (or better?) this new society that formed after WWWIII and the “Nuclear Kiss” can sniff out those who are “Sex Positive” and force them into working the sex show trade. Of course, once people get started, they end up loving it. There’s one female character who happens to be a virgin and was saving it. When she is found to be sex positive she is forced out of Cafe Flesh in wrist restraints only to show up later sucking and riding cock like a professional. He sex scene is even sampled in the beginning of More Human Than Human by White Zombie! (You’re good, Rob.) No tears, no regrets, she walks away describing sex as the greatest thing she’s ever know directly into the faces of several poor souls who can;’ do it at all. She gloats and brags as these poor sexless negatives try to hold back the tears and resentment. Yeah, I’m glad your life is worth living, you GOD DAMN ASSHOLE! I get a hard on and I start SHITTING MYSELF and puking all over my futuristic Doc Martin’s!

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But not everything is as it seems in Cafe Flesh. There are those among the 99% who desire love, connection, and a good deep dicking, AND ARE TOTALLY CAPABLE, but repress such burning desires in order to keep their partner from feeling left out or alone. Scream Queen Michelle Baur, credited as Pia Snow, plays a young woman in the 99% who finds her self fulfilling a role in just such a melodrama. I will tell you this much, Baur delivers a damn fine performance here, certainly among the very best in Cafe Flesh. And as we all know, when things are repressed for too long, they tend to build and explode into our lives with violent reproductions. Libido…finds a way.

Filmmaker Stephen Sayadian is a credit to the pornographic medium. He has created a one of a kind, beautifully shot, well written, fairly well acted piece of hardcore pornography where the story is far more interesting than any of the mechanized dicking taking place on screen. It’s a dark, bitter, sad pill to swallow but a flick I cannot help but recommend for it’s bold daringness and innovative story. The gonzo porn of today owes a great deal to Cafe Flesh. Stephen Sayadian would make another phenomenal slice of smut entitled “Dr. Caligari” in 1989. The world of pornography desperately needs more visionaries like Sayadian.

Cafe Flesh is pretty goddamn remarkable. I was thoroughly impressed. It’s rare when a pornographic film truly rises above the expectations of it’s genre and delivers a story, let alone a gripping, abrasive and creative. Hell, Cafe Flesh begins with the MC of the sex show, Max, jeering the audience which includes us. Cafe Flesh is able hook us in not simply with explicit sexual images but with concepts, ideas and real conflicts. In it’s short 80 minute run time there’s more originality and high concepts than just about any current main stream science fiction release  Possibly the films most challenging aspect is it’s intense disgust for it’s own audience. The 99% sit in their seats and watch like mindless zombies…I cannot help but feel like someone is taking a dig at me as I sit in the dark of my living room and watch people dressed like rodents fucking one another.  It’s a dig I take in stride as a Trash Cinema Connoisseur.

If you’re in the mood for a dark, nasty, bizarre and totally unique fuck flick, look no further, Gang. It will keep you engaged till the abrupt and bitter ending, leaving you thirsty for more.

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

 

12
Nov
12

Scarlett Vixen: Devil Girl of the Month November 2012 (NSFW)

Hey Gang, it’s The Primal Root here and I am very proud to announce our Devil Girl for the Month of November, Scarlett Vixen! One of The Trash Cinema Collective’s very first supporters, Scarlett is making her Devil Girl debut here. However, having personally witnessed  her creativity, enthusiasm and being right at home in front of the camera, I have a feeling this will not be the last we hear from this particular Devil Girl. Please, check out our good friend, Ms. Vixen’s photo spread and be sure to give her a warm welcome to The Devil Girls.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

a quick word with Scarlett Vixen, our Devil girl of the Month

Primal Root: Scarlet, what was your inspiration for your Devil Girl spread?

Scarlett:  Carrie has always been one of my favorite horror films and I have always wanted to do a sexy photo shoot with blood.

Primal Root: Do you have any other favorite Trashy movies? What are you into? Tell us a little about yourself.

Scarlett:  ‘Switchblade Sisters’ and the ‘Highlander’. I’m addicted to tattoos and piercings, zombies, Batman, Rocky Horror Picture Show and Nightmare Before Christmas. Im a single mother of 2 adorable munchkins ages 18 months old and 4 years old.

Photography by Rewski Photography

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Rewski-Photography/267873509900313

06
Jun
12

Cabin in the Woods: Roll with the Changes

a Primal Root review as originally published in Tallahassee’s Capital City Villager

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, okay, here goes. A jock, a slut, a pot head and a mousy chick decide to spend a  weekend in the woods only things don;t go as planned as malevolent forces beyond their control put a bloody an unexpected halt to their fun filled outing. Sound familiar? To any fan of the horror genre the principle set up could be lifted from any one of the multitude of slasher films released between the late 70’s to today.

It’s the same formula that’s been set up, rinsed and repeated for generations. But this basic premise is where the similarities between “The Cabin in the Woods” and your typical teen body count horror films end and the inventiveness begins.  This is precisely what makes the film such a tent pitchingly awesome treat for both hardcore horror fans and even general audiences who have, no doubt. become well aware of such genre tropes. Joss Whedon (the man behind the immensely popular and critically acclaimed “Buffy the Vampire” television show) and co. have created a horror film that not only includes  all the fun, over the top brutal violence, imaginative creatures, and gratuitous tits and ass we’ve all come to expect and love about this type of flick but also imbues the picture with a wealth of knowledge about horror tales in general and uses that as a way to revitalize it by packing enough wit, brains and a plethora of unexpected surprises to keep even the most well versed fan second guessing themselves as to just what will happen next and what cliche will be chopped down and tossed onto the fire.  As a connoisseur and life long fan of this well worn cinematic sub-genre, I am purposefully sidestepping any further mentioning of the veritable cornucopia of plot turns and unexpected twists, because to do so would be an unforgivable disservice to any audience plopping their asses down to view “The Cabin in the Woods” for the first time.

“The Cabin in the Woods” from writer Joss Whedon and director Drew Goddard completely annihilates every convention of the genre and reminds all of us that there are still avenues left unexplored in what some might see as an exhausted form of storytelling. It may only be a matter of story tellers hiking off the trail and further, deeper, into the woods.

Stay Trashy!

-Root




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