Posts Tagged ‘worship

20
Oct
13

The Lords of Salem (2012) a Rebecca Keel review

Lords of Salem

a Rebecca Keel review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

01
Jan
12

Rawhead Rex Wants to Skull Fuck You and I’m Okay With This.

a Primal Root written review

When I think of monsters larger than life a number of creatures come to mind. Of course, Godzilla, King Kong, Cloverfield…Hell, even Bruce from JAWS and the graboids from Tremors make appearances.  And then there’s Rawhead Rex, the red headed step-child of all giant monsters. Yeah, while Godzilla is off crushing noodle factories in Japan, Rawhead Rex is stomping around rural Ireland ripping the heads off teenage love birds and literally pissing in the faces of local priests. Now this is The Root’s kind of monster. Sure, Rawhead’s not nearly as tall as some of the other monsters on the block, but he makes up for his mere 10 or 11 foot tall stature with plenty of murderous spunk and personality. Unlike other monsters who are brought about by man’s experimenting, or are simply Mother Nature’s own killing machines, Rawhead is just a mean mother fucking demon. He’s not here for sympathy or for us to see ourselves reflected in him…no. This guy just wants to bite your face off and smear his shit on the bloody mess beneath. I doubt you will find a sicker, meaner, more sacrilegious monster in 80’s cinema. I feel it is my duty, as ambassador of the Trash Cinema Collective, to shine a light on one of the nastiest, meanest, most atrocious cinematic monsters ever brought to life, Mister Rawhead Rex.

"I feel good about me!"

Our movie takes place in a dreary farming community in Ireland where a group of men try to remove and ancient totem from one of their fields. Soon, the sky darkens, red lightening rains down and the totem falls releasing a horrifying demonic monster older than the Christian faith whose only purpose in existing is to destroy any and everything in it’s ugly path. At the same time, an American family has come to town headed by historian and writer, Howard Hollenbeck, who is traveling the countryside compiling research on pre-Christian sacred sites and is interested in the local church’s unique history and stained glass windows.  All the while, Rawhead is painting the entire countryside rd with the grue and entrails of the local villagers, twisting off heads, terrifying children, setting people on fire and tearing ladies blouses off to expose their breasts before tossing them into trees. How can Rawhead be stopped? The clues and secrets to the creatures destructon are all held within the walls of the towns ancient church. Can Hollenbeck get aid from the incompetent local authorities, deal with the psychotic Reverend Coot’s and unlock the mysteries to defeating Rawhead Rex before he destroys the town and Hollenbeck’s family?

Rawhead Rex is based of a short story by Clive Barker, the man who brought us Hellraiser and Nightbreed. not only boasting source material from Clive Barker, but a screenplay by the man as well, Rawhead Rex isn’t a very good movie. However, it is a ridiculously fun and entertaining one. The movie actually follows the original story pretty closely but is also devoid of just about all the thought provoking, serious pagan/spiritual concepts that made the story such a brilliant, philosophical read and, instead, just goes berserk and delivers a fucking crazy ass monster movie that delivers all the goods. That is, if you don’t mind a generous helping of cheese with your cinematic entree.

"Oh yeah, your lymph nodes are WAY swollen..."

The film itself is competently made and pretty well acted all around. Director, George Pavlou, does an excellent job of keeping the pace up, composing some fantastic shots and utilizes them to their best affect, and even takes some risky chances with his subject matter. Keep in mind, Rawhead Rex was released right in the midst of the British “Video Nastis” fiasco, so Pavlou had to walk a very fine line in order for his film to see the light of day. In all honesty, the violence here works rather well. It’s kind of muted in parts but it’s still gets the point across. But where Rawhead really scores points with me is that it has the brass balls to put kids in mortal danger, and even goes out of it’s way to kill a few! Yes, Rawhead  completley destroys a kid or two in his rampage. It happens just out of camera shot but with some great post production foley, the sound of these kids getting folded in half and ripped into meaty chunks drives the point home.

Now, I know everyone’s  gripe about Rawhead Rex is how shitty his costume is. You know, I love the way Rawhead looks. It’s cheesy as all hell and nearly destroy the credibility of the film, but there’s something about it I find really endearing that keeps this whole affair on a B-Movie, Drive-In level. Really, the the monster looks like a cross between a dog, a horse, and The Ultimate Warrior. He’s goofy enough to make you laugh, but strange enought that you don’t want that fucker within 1,000 yards of you.  I, for one, appreciate Rawhead’s fantastic dark sense of humor and that so much of the violence is delivered tongue in cheek. Don’t get me wrong, there are some creepy ideas at play here, a legitimate sense of dread, and a hand full of genuinely shocking scenes… but you cannot deny the film i a Hell of a lot of fun. There are moments when Rawhead runs after people where he looks like a little boy skipping and hopping after them, moments where he celebrates turning over motor homes where he begins dancing like Jennifer Beals in Flashdance, he even whips it out and pisses on a kneeling, willing, Reverand Coot’s in a kind of demonic Golden Shower baptismal cleansing, in what is possibly the film’s most notorious scene. Personally, I couldn’t stop laughing.

I can't help but wonder what Rawhead looks like with his mouth shut. Such a Chatty Kathy, that guy...

Within all this bizarre-o action, blood thirsty monster mayhem, and religious nose thumbing, is a pretty interesting story. Sure, it’s not at all what Clive Barker probably envisioned but it still manages to please as crazed, no holds barred, monster movie sporting a larger than usual set of testicles it drags through the dirt behind it. There are so many aspects of Rawhead Rex that are worth praising. I especially loved the ending conceit the Rawhead Rex can only be destroyed by that which he can never be…and finding out exactly what that means. It’s a rather poetic and lovely idea tossed into an otherwise wild, and grotesque mix. But it’s moments like these where the air is cleared of the action and horror campiness and a little bit of heart shines through.

I highly recommend Rawhead Rex as pure, unadulterated B-movie love. If you come across a copy for cheap, snatch it up as quickly as you can. As the runt of the larger than life monster litter, Rawhead is about as fun and lovable as they come and well worth bringing into your home. Even if he’s not house broken.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

07
Jul
11

Auntie Lee’s Meat Pies: Finger Licking Good

a Primal Root written review

Recommended to me by Craig of Craig’s Killer Coffee here in Tallahassee (Join their fan page on facebook!). ‘Auntie Lee’s Meat Pies’ is one very strange yet wholly entertaining concoction of cleavage, cleavers,and carnage. ‘Auntie Lee’s Meat Pies’ rehashes some very familiar themes. Auntie Lee, entrepreneur and Satan worshiper (played with psychotic glee by Trash Cinema Legend, Karen Black), runs her remarkably successful Meat Pie empire with the help of her four busty, homicidal nieces (Fawn played by Kristine Rose, Coral played by porn star Teri Weigel , Sky played by Pia Reyes, and Magnolia played by August 86 Playboy Playmate, Ava Fabian) and her mentally handicapped handyman, Larry (played by the always awesome Michael Berryman).

Auntie Lee’s business is run from a lovely, spacious, ranch house settled on miles of property located in the little one-cop town of  Penance, California.  The locals and surrounding counties can’t get enough of Auntie Lee’s meat pies and pay top dollar to procure her delectable, baked concoctions with that unique flavor unlike any other meat product they’ve ever shoveled into their gob. What’s the secret ingredient? What sets these meat pies apart? Hey, anyone who is even remotely familiar with the horror genre knows where this is going…

See, there’s a history of drifters going missing in Penance. They simply vanish without a trace once they step foot into the town and often they are last seen ogling the assets of one or more of Auntie Lee’s nieces. Of course, the town sheriff, Chief Koal (a southern fried…Pat Morita?Who has a stunningly natural southern drawl!) can’t quite put the pieces together. THAT IS, until a big city private investigator shows up in town looking for one of the missing gentlemen, and the fact that Larry has begun to act far loonier than usual.

The film itself has that grainy, early 90’s straight to video feel. The thing looks cheap as dirt but there’s a spirit to this thing that keeps it interesting and kept me entertained even through the more monotonous parts. Plus, early on, there’s this fantastic decapitation scene that’s gotta be seen to be believed. It’s abrupt, violent and hysterical and really sets the bar for the film.  The nieces can’t act worth a damn but that’s not the point. They serve as smiling, seductive, sirens who lead eager, horny morons to their well deserved demise.  The only truly grueling moments in ‘Auntie Lee’s Meat Pies’ are the scene that rest solely on the shoulders of these women. Their delivery is stilted and it’s easy to sense they have no grasp on what their lines mean.

The murder scenes range from the somewhat pedestrian (i.e. ice pick to the forehead) to the inspired (i.e. pantry decapitation) and the head scratchingly bizarre (i.e. giant rattle snake fang chest impalement…what?) but they all seem o work within the frame work of such a bizarre film. Oddly enough, the gore is kind of tame. There are very few moments where any excessive blood is sprayed or gore is spattered. And even more odd is the lack of female nudity. I believe we only get one pair of breasts, however, they may be the only natural set of breasts int he entire film. The only other nudity even hinted at is during this exceedingly strange pantomime strip-tease shower scene which takes place behind back lit false walls. The woman is nude, with levitating artificial breasts…the shower also happens to be fake. It’s a fan blowing streamers. Yes, thus particular group of psychopaths are also well skilled mimes and flash dancers. Go figure.

My only wish after watching ‘Auntie Lee’s Meat Pies’ is that there would have been a  bit more history and explanation behind this business and those who are involved.  The film is so involved with delivering goofy kills and flashes of female flesh that they never drop us any hints as to who these people are or how they’ve gotten there. Is Larry related to Auntie Lee? If these girls are her nieces where are their parents? I assume Larry might be Auntie’s brother or something and that these girls are orphaned after Auntie Lee kills their parents and has been collecting and brain washing these girls to expand the business.

However, at the films end, he camera pans out to the backyard of Auntie Lee’s ranch and we get a glimpse of all the old, destroyed automobiles of their previous victims that they’ve been hiding out back for who knows how long. It’s a shot similar to the one Robert Rodriguez would use a few years later at the conclusion of he and Tarantino’s vampire/crime wave flick, ‘From Dusk Till Dawn’. I cannot help but wonder if those guys are fans of ‘Auntie Lee’s Meat Pies’.

Far from a masterpiece but certainly one to keep you and your buddies entertained on a bad movie night, ‘Auntie Lee’s Meat Pies is a grab bag of our favorite Trash Cinema elements lovingly and cheaply assembled for our consumption. It’s tasty, greasy, guilty pleasure well worth sinking your teeth into. This puppy seems like the perfect flick to watch side by side as a double bill with ‘Motel Hell’. 😉

Stay Trashy.

-The Primal Root

Couldn’t find the trailer for “Auntie Lee’s Meat Pies’ anywhere. So here’s “I Saw Your Mommy’ by Suicidal Tendencies which is  featured in the film. Enjoy!

14
Feb
11

Christine, Valentine’s Day Devil Girl 2011 (NSFW)

Valentine’s Day, a day so many of us put our hearts on the line looking for the one we can call our own. Well, the Devil Girls have saved you the trouble and have found you that woman to worship and adore… We proudly present to you, our Valentine’s Day Devil Girl, Christine. A long time friend of ours here at the Trash Cinema Collective,  Christine is a dark vision of beauty perfectly fitting this bitter-sweet holiday.  Enjoy Christine’s spread and be sure to give her a warm welcome to The Collective. Try your best not to lose your heart …she might just rip it out of your chest anyway…

-Root

Photography by Jessica Retif




Dumpster Diving

Categories