Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Virgin Among the Living Dead

After watching Virgin Among the Living Dead last night, I did an IMDB search on Mr. Franco. He has almost two hundred directorial credits to his name, not to mention his acting or writing credits. And he's still directing movies, although he's damn near eighty years old. I said to Christian, 'you know Jess Franco is still directing movies and he's damn near eighty?.' And Christian's like, 'yeah, he probably has someone take care of him and cook his food so he can make another movie.' And I said, 'okay, yeah, somebody feed Jess Franco, he's makin' another film.' Didn't make much sense, sorta like a Franco movie, so while Christian wasn't alluding to sex or horror, it was kinda appropriate. And it made me laugh. Or me making fun of his comment made me laugh harder. And we had just watched School Killer, a terrible 2001 film in which a bunch of kids go hang out in an abandoned school and there's some ghosts and mention of astral projection and some other crap. And Paul Naschy is in it, unfortunately for Paul Naschy, who just needed to get paid or was related to someone who wrote the movie or both. So I needed a laugh.

The first Franco movie I saw, or at least the first one where I was aware that hey, this is a movie directed by some dude named Jess Franco and he has a cult following and I should pay attention since I like weird film, was Killer Barbys. Not exactly a great example of a 'good' Franco film. Rachel bought it at Suncoast in the mall and we watched it and we were like, wow, that sucked. So now it's like twelve years later, and I'm sure I've seen Franco films since then, but never really gave them the super attention I've lauded on the Bavas, Fulci, even, although recently, Joe D'Amato. So Virgin Among the Living Dead found it's way into my DVD player. It unfolds thusly.

Christina arrives at an inn on her way home from school in London to hear her recently deceased father's will. The innkeepress tells her no one lives in the castle where she claims her family resides. The innkeepress maintains her position and Basilio (played by Franco), a servant to the family who acts like his tongue is cut, arrives to take her onward to the castle. Upon arriving, she meets her aunt and uncle, and a sultry cousin (?), Carmenze. Christina acts like she's never met these folks before and then goes to her stepmom Hermina's room just as Hermina expires. The aunt and uncle then prop Hermina up in the parlor while the uncle plays a piano that sounds more like an electric organ and Carmenze paints her toenails. Christina doesn't seem the least bit effected by this and retires to her room, where she is seemingly more affected by a vase of flowers shaped like a severed human head, which I would love to have in my house. Then she falls asleep and we are treated to footage of her sleeping, the first in many sequences where we are treated to a nakey Christina sleeping.

The whole thing is basically Christina ascending a staircase, Christina sleeping naked, Christina waking up from some nightmare, real or imagined, and some other weirdness abounding. It sorta has a D'Amato Emanuelle movie feel to it, but less sexy and more dreamlike. Anyway, Christina is just waiting on the lawyer and she decides to take a skinny dip in a foul pond covered by lily pads. Two old dudes salivate over her but run away and another young guy shows up to walk her back to the castle. They happen upon an abandoned church where another old weirdo tells them of a curse. The young guy walks Christina back home but the uncle yells at him until he runs away and then slaps the shit outta Christina. She runs into her room but someone has put freeze-dried bats all over her bed so she goes to Carmenze's room, where Carmenze is naked and cutting a blind girl with scissors and drinking her blood. She invites Christina to partake in this activity but Christina declines.

Christina is seated at a dinner table spearing a large fish with a fork. She then gazes out of the window and an otherworldly voice calls her name. She then goes back to bed. Cue the otherworldly voice again and Christina gets up and runs around the garden, watched by a lovely brunette who gives slow, ethereal chase. We met the brunette once before, when Hermina was dying. Christina walked past this woman on the way to Hermina's bedroom. All we know of her thus far is that she is quite gorgeous and thin and likes to draw crosses on paper with ink that may or may not be blood. We find out later that this brunette is, well, yeah, the Queen of Darkness.

So it's the next morn (sorry, I'm taking it there wasn't someone in charge of continuity in the script) and Chris finds her daddy hanging from a tree. Then I think it's around here somewheres that the aunt reveals she's the one who killed Hermina and then Christina goes back to sleep and is awakened by Carmenze. Then the lawyer shows up, he's one of the pervs watching Christina skinny dip, and reads some boring crap about who will contest the will, blah, blah, and then Carmenze drunkenly rolls around on the floor and advances on Basilio. Then Christina ascends the stairs again and take a nude nap and wakes up only to be startled by a large black dildo complete with balls in her room. She breaks the dildo, not like that, you perverts, she throws it across the room because it apparently upsets her, and the blind woman warns her to leave. Then Basilio kills the blind woman by strangling her and Christina sees her dad again in the dining room but he still has his noose on and still talks in that otherworldly voice. He tells her of a curse and then she sleeps some more and then she's laid out on the floor with some candles and the Queen of Darkness mounts her (of course, they are both nekkid) and then she wakes up again and she's back at the inn suffering from delusions. Then the Q of D leads her to the lily pond to 'baptize' her, I guess, and fulfill some sort of destiny. Then everybody else gets in the pond and FIN. It actually does say FIN when the movies ends, and I love it when this happens.

Sorry, didn't mean to give away the 'she wakes up and it's all a dream' ending, but you saw where it was going. It's hard to say what I think about this, since I am sort of uninitiated to Jesus' films. I liked it on the level of hey, I like trashy, campy films from the seventies. But there's bound to be better ones out there. I've lined up Venus in Furs and Vampyros Lesbos, the seminals .I do love the absurdity, especially when I get to describing it, it just rambles on and actually sounds a bit more disjointed and weirder than it is. Such is the nature of many of the flicks I watch, I suppose. I want to make some shrewd observation about women, staircase ascension, religious iconongraphy and the nature of dreams but I have little to go on at this point. The man was (is, if you adhere to Christian's attestment of someone caring for him and providing craft services to allow him to keep making movies) prolific, so I'm certain to come up with some sort of synthesis as I get a few more of these under my belt.
Also, I must note the interiors and exteriors are exquisite - candelabras and giant vases and the aforementioned severed human head vase. The furniture is ornate and the woodwork resplendent, but I was a tad disappointed with the fashion. I love a seventies movie with seventies fashion, but given that the ladies in this movie don't really wear outfits all that much, I guess I excuse the lack of fabulous groovy fashion (like in an Emanuelle movie). The castle and it's grounds work well for the story, such as it is, and the film does wind up looking more expensive that it probably actually was. Oh, and this has nothing to do with setting, but it is noted that Jean Rollin directed one of the dream sequences. More on Rollin after I get thru some more of Franco.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Up From the Depths

Check out this sweeeeet tape I just scored on ebay. I have never heard of this title, it isn't one I remember from the video store, but the cover is just so freakin' awesome, I payed 9.75 for it. I normally don't like to pay over two dollars for a movie but the art on this puppy warranted it. I cannot wait to get this one in the mail. I've got my eye on a couple of other sweet pieces, and I drunkenly bid on some others. Yippee!

In other news, I had a really weird dream last night that involved Christmas being moved to March and no one bothering to tell me. I wasn't aware of it until I was driving home and everyone in my neighborhood was putting up their plastic santas and reindeer and lights. I was baffled, but decided to go along with it and went home and put up my tree. Then I woke up and started thinking about this movie I saw on cable back when I still lived at my mom's house like over a decade ago. It was called Campfire Tales and from what I can remember, it was one of those frame type story flicks, where some teens are all like let's tell each other scary stories and each story plays out in the movie. And I was thinking about one particular story within that movie about a psycho that breaks into this house and there's a little girl and the little girl has a puppy and whenever she gets ready to go to sleep, she dangles her hand off the bed and the puppy licks her hand. But then this crazy man breaks in unbeknownst to the girl and all I can remember is basically the girl puts her hand down because she's getting ready to go to sleep and the crazy dude is under her bed and he starts licking her hand. I'm getting a creepy feeling just talking about it. It's all I really remember about the movie and then I remember telling my brother how fucking scary that scene was and he watched it because it was coming on tv again like the next night and basically laughed at me because the shit wasn't really scary at all, I had just talked it up to be really scary.

So I started thinking about that last night after my weird Christmas dream and then I couldn't go back to sleep and I realized my arm was hanging off the bed and I quickly tucked it back up under the covers because I don't want some crazy man licking my hand, you know. And then I couldn't get back to sleep. It was like four in the morning and I couldn't get that image out of my head. I know the movie is kinda hokey and not really at all scary, but I've built it up over the years and it's much more terrifying the way I remember it. I'm absolutely delirious right now too, from lack of sleep and drinking mimosas ALL day yesterday. So now the whole thing is really bothering me. Damn it!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Touch of Her Flesh Part 2

So let's begin where we left off last time, with some lovely young ladies masturbating with clothing. Richard then tells us (his words again) that women trap men in 'sexual vortexes' so he's going to kill 'em all 'so those gates of flesh shall never again reopen.' I absolutely love the language in the voiceover. Richard is so serious.

Cut to a swingin' nightclub where a lovely light-skinned black girl is shakin' it for us to some groovy tunes. Then she retires to her dressing room and takes off her clothes to change into even skimpier clothes. She receives some flowers and then returns to the dance floor to get nekkid again. Unfortunately, she's attracted the attention of Stanley and he drugs her (via the flowers, I'm assuming, remember, numerous substances were abused during the viewing of this picture) and she, we can also assume, dies.

Then a quick weird cut and we're following a chick in a super cute jacket and updo walking through the woods. We find out this is Janet, Claudia's friend. Janet joins Claudia at her hideout, remember, she's hiding from Richard, the husband that she spurned, and Janet and Claudia take off their clothes, but not before Claudia plays a mournful tune on the piano. Janet assures Claudia Richard won't find her and then they rub around on each other.

Cut to a burlesque joint. There are some beautiful sexy dancing ladies in this movie! And of course, grouchy old serious Richard wants nothing to do with any of this sexyness. This scene features a raven-haired beauty on a backdrop of leopard print dancing it up. She's absolutely stunning and the embodiment of sex. So of course she must die. Creative as always, Richard takes her out while she's on stage with a poisoned mouth dart shot out of a piece of bamboo. He then picks up a prostitute that knows Janet and threatens her with an ornately handled knife. If she tells him where Janet and Claudia are, he won't hurt her. She tells him and he stabs her any way.

Here's where the film definitely takes on the 'roughie' vibe. Yeah, there were a couple of deaths of pretty ladies, but up until the pro, Richard doesn't ever use his hands on them, he either drugs them or uses the antiquated yet effective method of mouth dart as described above. The movie just seemed like sleaze before, but when Richard hunts down Janet and Claudia, he gets hands-on. He roughs up Claudia bad, hits her, rubs her breasts, sexually abuses her, threatens to kill her with a circular saw, calls her any number of names, which basically goes on way too long until he finally kills her. Janet, in the meantime, has been listening to this violence perpetrated on her friend and takes off running when she knows Richard is done and coming for her. He's somehow procured a crossbow and chases the panty-clad Janet for quite some time through the abandoned building serving as their hideout until Janet somehow gets the crossbow away from Richard and crossbows him. (She doesn't kill him though, I know you're all super attached to Richard by now so don't get upset; he comes back for two more sequels like a good vengeful killer.) And scene.

Like I mentioned before, Touch of Her Flesh is a wild ride. It's sexy, sleazy, rough, and daring. If you like boobs, vintage lingerie, 'real' women, and obnoxious music that works within its context, this is the picture for you. The women in this movie are gorgeous and they have curves and real tits, too. It's interesting to watch a movie like this from over forty years ago and see how what we regard as beautiful has changed. The curvaceous Janet, for example, would likely be considered 'fat' by today's standards, but here, she's a popular model.

Last night I watched The Curse of Her Flesh, the second installment in the Findlay FLESH trilogy, but I was reeeeeeeaaaalllly tired and my notes are incomprehensible and only half a page long. I must mention the opening credit sequence, however, because I think I enjoyed it almost as much as the credits on naked asses and boobs from the first installment. A guy is at a seedy club and he goes to the nasty bathroom to take a leak. Alongside the 'call Angela for a good time' messages posted in the urinal, the credits appear written in crude magic marker. Brilliant! There's also an excellent stripper in the beginning doing a great chair dance. So I might have to watch this one again, because I know there are some treats in there. Oh, I do remember another great scene with Richard, a dancer, and a calico cat and the dialogue is just hilarious double entendre. Stay tuned!

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Findlay's Touch of her Flesh

So having watched my first Milligan film, I was thinkin' a lot about watching Findlay movies. Both are grindhouse-era type of stuff, the Findlays I guess I know really little about, since I've read Milligan's bio. I used to think I knew a thing or two about this stuff and then I was schooled by reading the Milligan book.  Hey, maybe be I should write that Findlay bio, get down and dirty and find out all of the stuff about Michael and Roberta like in the Milligan book. I know I would be bound to find out some seedy stuff. Nobody steal my idea. I've got a Doris Wishman book in the works too. 

So I posted about the Ghastly Ones and I was thinking about Milligan and his reputation and about the Findlays and their reputations (Roberta considers herself THE first female pornographer) and decided I would revisit their infamous FLESH trilogy, starting of course where it began, with The Touch of Her Flesh. (Disclaimer: I watched this last night, numerous substances were abused. I have seen it before, but my notes and review may or may not reflect this. Also, it is Friday, but I am in, and drinking heavily after a looooooonnng day of waitressing, so bear with me please. Or not. It's up to you entirely. I have notes, but whether or not they are coherent is entirely my fault.)

My first note for the Touch of Her Flesh is 'Boobies!'. This is the first film I have ever seen that projects the opening credits onto body parts, mainly boobs and asses. It's a nice touch, one I would like to see implemented more often. So that's cool. Then we are introduced to Claudia and her hubby, Richard, who I will call Stanley. He leaves on a business trip or some shit and Claudia invites her hot young piece over to grope her outside of her underpants and kind of lay next to her and rub around a little bit. Then she takes off her bra and smothers him with her tatas and it's not at all sexy, but Claudia could be sexy if the scene wasn't so awkward with the lover guy wearing his trouser pants and groaning all the time. And all of this is set to classical music. 

Then lover man fakes going down on Claudia and she seems to really enjoy it. She's totally faking it. And then Stanley/Richard returns and watched Claudia through the window and gets disgusted and runs off into the night. We get some great exterior vintage NYC shots here and then old Stanley gets run over by a car. The expression on his face while he's watching Claudia in the throws of fake ectasty are classically perverted  and I love them. He wakes up in the hospital and gives them a fake name and goes out into the world to kill all women from here on because of the wrongs he has suffered by Claudia's cheating. And now he has an eye-patch and is giving off some serious I-look-like-Ed-Wood but with an eye patch vibe. 

So Stanley/Richard retires to a rented room with his eye patch and his modus operandi to rid the planet of all women, because, by his reasoning, they're all sluts and they (his words) bury all manhood deep within their female souls. He tells us this in an ominous sounding monologue while we're treated to footage of a woman masturbating with a some sort of fur stole and another woman stuffing a cardigan into her vagina. I am really having trouble putting this into words because it's seriously like nothing I've ever seen before. I guess it's exactly what I describe it as, although I'm not sure if I'm representing it accurately. Then he stops his voiceover and some more ladies masturbate and there's some shots of a flower in a another woman's pubic area and then some breasts are fondled and all the while some more classical music is playing.

Now, I don't mean to leave you hanging, but this is going to have to be a two-parter, maybe a three-parter, because my buzz is kicking in and there is A LOT left to describe. I'll hit it up manana with more sleazzzzzzy details, I promise you. There's lots more swingin' sexy action in this one and it's only the first part of the trilogy! This might take awhile. So get ready. Tomorrow I'll regale you with lots more sexy sexy sexy! Cause it just gets sexier and it gets a helluva lot rougher too. 

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Andy Milligan's The Ghasly Ones

So I recently posted about reading Milligan's biography, which was totally sleazily entertaining. Some of it even read like fiction it was so over the top in its putrescence. But it's like slowing down to gawk at a car accident, no matter what disgusting-ness you might witness, you want to see it any way. And Milligan has earned his reputation as a THE sleaze peddler of the grindhouse era of 42nd street. The Ghastly Ones is my first filmic foray into the works of Andy Milligan. There have been attempts made by me to procure a VHS copy of The Rats are Coming! The Werewolves are Here! for many, many years now, to no avail. I have actually purchased it on numerous occasions, only to have the money refunded to me because the seller didn't have the tape. If anyone wants to get me a pressie, my half-birthday is coming up, so if you have a spare copy of Rats! Werewolves!, email me, and I'll pay the shipping! Anyway, onward with the review.

1968's The Ghastly Ones opens with a nice hetero couple, Ada and Robert, prancing around a private island. They're dressed in period garb and carry an ornate parasol but they speak as if it's present day. Ada gets tired and decides to have a rest, while Robert goes off exploring. Robert quickly meets a gruesome end, becoming the victim of a disembowlment via some lunatic's bare hands. Ada quickly comes looking for her lover, natch, and meets a similar fate, although she's hacked to bits with a machete. Roll opening credits. (Sidebar: all the costumes were made by Milligan's dress shop, Raffine. I think it's weird that sleazemeister Milligan was a skilled dressmaker. That's just me.)

Then we meet Victoria and her husband, Richard. They receive a letter from Victoria's deceased father's lawyer, Dobbs. The letter tells them to meet him in New York but since they don't have the money for the trip, they live in Philly, they seek out Richard's effeminate brother, Walter, to lend them some cash to go meet up with Dobbs. The scene with Walter gives me some serious John Waters vibes. Walter is a overacting queen with maybe a tinge of a Baltimore accent. He spends money like it's water and enlists Victoria and Richard to please stop by Tiffany's for his crystal because he simply doesn't trust the post. He then orders Vicki to fetch the tea since his manservant is out at the moment. He always eludes to an incestuous relationship between his brother and himself. "No one knows how much Richie means to me," following by Richie's retort, "You have abnormal tastes."

Next, we're introduced to William and Veronic, who receive the same letter from Dobbs. Veronica and Victoria are sisters (we'll meet Elizabeth, the third sister in a few moments, at a luncheon), and Veronica and William's presence is required by Dobbs as well. They suck each others fingers and wax eloquent on the power of money - "It always takes money to bring people together" and agree to go to NY asap.

The whole thing seems to be set in present day NY, but all the characters wear period costumes. They speak colloquially, but try to seem overly polite, you know, like people did back in like 1875. So they go to the lawyer Dobbs, who looks like some ancient Russian gypsy lady, and he reads the sisters' dead father's, Mr. Crenshaw's, will, which states, oddly enough, that in order for the will to be carried out, the sisters and their husbands must go to Crenshaw House (the house on the private island in the opening sequence), and live in "sexual harmony for three days." Then the will be fulfilled and a trunk in the attic will be opened. Sounds fair enough. The sexual harmony part comes into play because apparently Mr. Crenshaw did not love his wife, the sisters' mommy, at all, and was only only the island five times. It was in those five visits that his three daughters were conceived, so no sexual harmony was taking place for much time on that island. Weird request, but hey, the girls want their money, and they'll do what it takes to get it.

The three couples then arrive on the island and meet the servants, an imbecile, Colin, with horrific fake teeth, his sister Martha, and Haddie, the matriarch type head servant woman. Upon meeting Colin, he kills a rabbit, a scene I remember as described in Milligan's bio. It seems Milligan actually wanted the actor to kill the rabbit and eat from it, and the actor and the rest of the cast was too squeamish, so Milligan took matters into his own hands and killed the bunny himself. For reals. I can watch any kind of violence towards humans all the damn day long, but I had to watch the bunny murder through my fingers, especially knowing that it was actually real. I'm delicate when it comes to anything involving animals. Okay, so it is effectively demonstrated that Colin, and the other two, are pretty much lunatics. Then the real carnage starts.

Each person is slowly picked off by a figure in a black cloak. I think it's Donald that's killed via a rake through the neck, which is the second movie I've seen in as many days where someone meets their end this way. Elizabeth's head is served for dinner, and everyone starts to freak out and unravel and wonder who's next and who's the killer. (Well, I wonder this, the cast really doesn't. They mostly just cry and hold each other.) Colin is the obvious choice, but he's really too dumb. And I guess it doesn't really matter, because at this point, the film has nearly reached its 72 minute running time, so it's wrapped up quickly, with no real final act to speak of. The second part is all just falling action. The film itself focuses on and proves family's are fucked up and dysfunctional and women are cruel. These are themes apparently explored ad naseum in a Millgan picture.

The Ghastly Ones wasn't really what I was expecting. I was expecting to feel gross after I watched it, like after I watched anything the Findlay's ever had their name attached to. And I wanted to . I wanted to be cinematically violated. But instead, I felt like it was a mediocre horror picture from the late 60's. Maybe this is Milligan-lite? I tried to watch Seeds of Sin after I watched this one, but of course, I passed out. It was like 11:30, waaaaaaay past my bedtime. But Seeds opens with an orgy scene that seems more grindhouse-y and sexploitation-y, so maybe Seeds is more Milligan. At least more of what I was expecting from the man. I guess this was a good starting point and it wasn't without its moments. As I get further into his oeuvre, which I plan on doing, we'll see if he lives up to his reputation.

Wonder why Milligan, who has received a growing cult status over the last decade or so, based certainly in part on Jimmy McDonough's excellent bio on the filmmaker, isn't as revered as John Waters, Ed Wood, David Friedman, Doris Wishman? Hell, even Michael and Robert Findlay.  Something to ponder....

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Madhouse: Or No, I'm not really a Murderous Psycho, I Just Play One on Tv, or I Could be a Murderous Psycho and also Play One on TV

Once again, my habitual drunkenness allowed me to watch Madhouse a first time and barely recollect any of it. So when I rented Theatre of Blood and Madhouse was on the b-side of the dvd (do dvd's have b-sides?), I started to watch it and was then faced with the hazy revelation that I had probably seen this movie before. I figured I'd likely passed out before the end, so decided to stick it out a second time, this time having only drunk three glasses of cabernet out of a box.

1974's Madhouse has a powerhouse of a cast. Vincent Price and Peter Cushing take the lead and supporting roles respectively and Basil Rathbone and Boris Karloff play minor roles in the movies within the movie, but more on that in a sec. Madhouse is the story of Paul Tombs, played by Price, a horror actor who goes off the deep end after his fiance is killed ala one of his popular films and the grisly murders that happen years later.

The film opens with a New Year's Eve bash, hosted by Tombs. He's a successful horror screen actor most famous for his role as Dr. Death, a masked, caped psycho who enjoys dispatching cutie pies my slitting their throats, boiling them alive, or hanging, amongst other fates. Tombs treats his party guests to footage of him stringing up some nubile young thangs and being brought to justice by a fire weilding mob. That's typical of how I start my New Year's Eve parties, for sho'. Then after introducing his hottie blond fiance, a toast, and a catty conversation with a producer who reveals blondie was a porno actress before her Hollywood debut, Tombs argues with blondie over her former career and leaves his own party to go pass out. Some time passes and Tombs awakens to go apologize to his soon-to-be wife and finds her seated at her dressing table. As he approaches to make his apologies, her head falls off, she's been decapitated, Dr. Death style. Is Tombs responsible for the murder? He couldn't possibly be! Or could he have? Duh duh duhnnnnn. Cue dissent into madness and this is all in the eight minutes before the credits roll.

Next time we meet Paul Tombs, it's been several years. We learn he's been in and out of mental hospitals after porny's death, and at one point, was even arrested for wandering Hollywood Boulevard dressed as Dr. Death. But he's cured now and his old pal, Herbert, played by Cushing, who used to write the Dr. Death films, wants Paul to come to London to revive the Dr. Death character for television series. Paul agrees and boards ship for passage to London. Whilst on board, a budding screen starlet stalks him and will continue to stalk him when he arrives at Herbert's house. More on that in a moment. So here's, I guess, where it starts to get weird.

Paul goes to Herbert's house in London and Herbert's all like, let's watch some of your old Dr. Death movies. He lights a bunch of candleabras and starts up an movie projector. Now, while it is one of my number one dreams in life to watch a movie on a projector with Peter Cushing and Vincent Price by candlelight, Cushing's intent here is nefarious. You can tell by his shifty eyes. He leaves the room and Paul begins to fall asleep/become hypnotized. But the film runs out so Paul gets up to see his cruise ship stalker in Herbert's yard. In a scene shortly hereafter, she takes a rake to the neck, another killing we are told mirrors that in a Dr. Death feature. We aren't privvy to the killer's identity. Could it be Paul? Don't forget about Mr. Shifty Eyes Herbert back at the house either. Okay, so there's that.

Then Paul wanders down into Herbert's basement where he finds Faye, an old costar from the Dr. Death movies. Faye is all sorts of crazy, she eludes to a life full of cheap thrills cut short by a fiery car accident that left her disfigured and cultivating tarantulas in Herbert's basement while wearing a pretty awesome red wig streaked with white. If I ever wind up bald, I'm totally getting a wig just like Faye's. The next morning, Paul nonchalantly asks Herbert, "Why didn't you tell me about Faye?" And Herbert nonchalantly replies, "I didn't want to upset you." The next time I stay at someone's house and they don't tell me they have an aging burned beyond recognition actress raising large spiders in their basement and I discover it on my own, I'll try not to be upset.

After this, there's a few grisly murders (possibly being perpetrated by Paul) involving the actress set to play alongside Tombs on the Dr. Death series, the director for the show is crushed by a mechanical bed, and the pretty PR girl Julia is murdered sort of ala Tombs fiance from back in the day, which of course, consequently leads Paul off the deep end. Cue the fire and the melodramatic suicide speech. There's also another party scene where Cushing does his best vampire mime impersonation and everyone's dressed like it's Halloween, but it isn't, or at least I didn't catch the mention of the date or anything. I have no problems with this however, as I would love to host parties year-round that involved Peter Cushing as vampire-mime, Vincent Price as Vincent Price, and a host of other characters bedecked in vintage looking Halloween masks as I showed footage of my latest horror epic.

I won't give the ending away completely because that's not how I roll. But I will say Madhouse did sort of kick ass. It wasn't as kick ass as Theatre of Blood, another life imitating art Vinnie movie, and the better of the two life-imitating-art Vinnie movies (are there any others? can't think of any off the top of my head). It's not particularly gory, but it does have some amazing 70's interiors and some great scenery chewing by Price. Cushing's house and basement are just how I would think Cushing would actually live. As I mentioned before, this is about the closest I'll get to watching a movie by candlelight with Cushing and Price. As an aside, I used to have this candelabra at my grandma's house growing up and I would walk around with it with all the candles lit and descend her basement steps look for something, anything spooky. I don't know where I got that image at such a young age, I'm talking like 7 or 8 years old, I must've just been born spooky. The whole aesthetic of the walking around with a lit candelabra has always appealed to me so I always get a kick out of it when I see characters in movies do it now. Anyway. Watch Madhouse. Watch Theatre of Blood. They're both kinda meta for Vinnie, I think.

Monday, March 23, 2009

On Watching Non-Horror Movies

Once in awhile, I watch a movie that isn't a horror movie. Once in awhile means pretty much never. I don't own a single vhs that isn't a horror movie and most, and I'm talking 99.99 percent, of my dvds are horror or could be considered 'cult.' (Christian informed me yesterday that Pink Flamingos is, indeed, a horror movie, while I maintained my view that it is a comedy. So some titles, you see, are up for debate.) So yesterday was one of those rare occasions in which I watched a non-horror movie.

Christian's friend from back in the day made a movie and it had it's premier here in Richmond yesterday. Richmond is not the roaring metropolis many of you may think it is, so things like movie premiers aren't really the status quo 'round these parts. So that sounds fun and exciting, oh, I went to a movie premier yesterday. And it's always good to support the local artists in any community, so I was all like, yeah, I'll go to your friend's movie.

So we go and it's everything I imagined it. Slow paced, boring as the day is long, and centering on the excruciating daily menutia of one male character, the Builder, who begins the film as a carpenter and ends as a dishwasher. His relationships with female characters fall apart and he becomes increasingly lonely and unable to really make connections with people, try as he might. But he doesn't really try and spends a good portion of the center act trying to build a floor for a camper on a piece of land he recently procured. While it's cool to watch a movie with many shots and locales around of my hometown, this movie could have easily been saved by adding several horror elements, which of course, my horror-centric brain was waiting for at every turn, because that's just how I roll.

For instance, the opening scene has the Builder dude sharpening a pair of scissors. I'm like, sweet, he's gonna slit his wrists with those scissors. He's suicidal, he's going to kill himself. Right in the opening, we'll have a little bit of blood. No luck, he's sharpening the scissors to cut his mangy hair. Then he's in the kitchen, he's making breakfast, coffee, an egg or two, it's as exciting as it sounds. Then he breaks a glass. Cool, another opportunity for blood. Again, no luck. He cleans up the glass and receives a phone call. A boring phone call.

Next, the Builder is at work. He's a builder, get it, so he's using power saws and other potentially deadly equipment. Great, I think, some sort of amputation is bound to occur here, or at least, some bloodletting. Nope. No one even gets a splinter and the most excitement the audience is treated to here is a some measuring and cutting of wood. There may have been some discussion of the wood cutting, but that was about as action packed as this gets.

Meanwhile, I'm going over what I have to do the next day at work in my head and really requiring a margarita, and the Builder ends up on a patch of land that he bought to get out of the city or some shit. Because his life making breakfast, cutting wood, and talking on the phone must be getting to him, srsly stressing him out, man. So the land has a little lake on it - perfect opportunity for either flesh hungry fish creatures of some sort, and since it's in the woods, a nameless slashing killer hellbent on revenge. It could go either way. Or both ways. But of course it doesn't. He takes a little swim in the lake, cuts some more wood, hangs up his clothes on a line, and sleeps. Yes, we are actually treated to footage of the man sleeping.

Then there's some more stuff where he eats food in a diner and doesn't choke or wind up eating severed fingers and some footage of him driving safely with no gory accidents or mysterious hitchhikers, and then enters the challenging and fast paced world of dishwashing. Of course, the dishwasher is just your run of the mill industrial dish washing machine, it's not haunted and doesn't give the Builder disfiguring burns, and there's even a shot of deep fryer, but no one's face or appendages wind up in it. Then there's some bike riding and dog walking, resulting not in a bike crash or a dog attack, it's just bike riding and dog walking. There's also a party scene that doesn't look very interesting and the Builder drinks some PBR and might take bath before the move grinds to a close.

I'm used to watching el-cheapo movies and this was shot on the cheap, but was actually very technically proficient. It just could have been soooooooooo much more interesting if there was anything going on at all, anything, and it doesn't have to be the aforementioned violence I described above. I'm all about somebody making their indie movie and distributing and producing it themselves and showing it in their local community and blah blah. I wish I could say I did the same. The Builder is a good example of the one of the reasons I don't watch a lot of movies outside my genre. 'Indie' movies just come off as so pretentious. I can't see how watching some boring ass shit elevates you in any way. Not that being a horror freak elevates me in any way. I should probably stop. I'm going to blog myself into a hole. I'll start arguing with myself and wind up looking CRAZY. And I don't want any one thinking that :)

So yeah, I think I'll just stick to the horrors. They're much more fun on so many levels. I did sort of have a good time coming up with scenarios where violence could be inserted in The Builder. That gave me the idea for this post. So it wasn't all bad. And I got to have margaritas afterwards.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Blood Beach: Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Go Back Into the Water, You Can't Get To It

1981's Blood Beach is one of those movies in my child of the video stores of the 80's psyche that managed to elude me for years. Movie Time Video had a copy, a clamshell box if I remember correctly, but for some reason or another, I never rented it or watched it and it never made it into my collection until a couple of weeks ago. I have fond memories, however, of both the box art and the tagline, "just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, you can't get to it." So Thursday night after some Canadian Club and soda, I decided it was time to embark on the Blood Beach odyssey. Here's the reasons I thought it was going to be sweeeeet: it's called Blood Beach, it has a great fucking tagline, and John Saxon is in it.  John Saxon typecast as a hardassed cop is reason alone enough for me to wanna get down on some Blood Beach. 

Okay, so here's the gist: something is attacking? killing? kidnapping? people at the beach (Venice, maybe? I don' t know if they specify). Some of the people are sucked right into the sand and some, including a dog, are mutilated. The police, led by the great John Saxon, are called in to investigate and turn up nothing. Some geologist even dig up the beach resulting in a great big nothing, too. The main characters, a harbor patrol dude and his ex-girlfriend whose mommy was one of the first victims of Blood Beach, inexplicably decide to investigate an abandoned building and find some decapitated body parts, and then a rubbery suited monster shows up. There's no explanation for any of it, really, no one mentions toxic waste or the environment or pollution or anything like that and then the movie ends and that's it. 

It's got a couple of worthy WTF moments, though. Namely, rarely do you see a movie in which the title and tagline are actually part of the dialogue. Blood Beach is one of these rare films. My man, John Saxon, actually speaks the tagline, kinda off the cuff as he stands on the beach as the invesigatory (is that word?) expedition turns up a big, fat nothing. And the title is spoken by a teenager enjoying the beach despite the recent unpleasantness of the disappearances and mutilations. He's all like, "It's blood beach, man, hehehe." Teens today, I swear. Or teens in the early 80's, I swear. 

Also, the music is also kinda WTF. It's either eerie ominous or sexy ominous. I don't know how else to describe it. Oh, and there are two kinda arty sex scenes involving the harbor patrol dude. He gets it from two different babes, a stewardess (they called 'em stewardesses back in 1981) and from the ex, who he is helping investigate her mother's disappearance. I know I always like to get some from my ex who is helping me locate my mother who was sucked into the sand. It takes my mind of the task at hand. 

There's also one cop character that keeps talking about Chicago. Even if it has nothing to do with the scene at the time. He'll be like, "In Chicago, we have better hot dogs" or something equally inane. I don't know if he actually did say this exact line, but there is nary a scene with this guy that he doesn't mention how they do it in Chicago, no matter what 'it' is. 

And John Saxon doesn't appear until the 19:35 mark. The movie isn't that long, maybe a bit over an hour-twenty. Almost twenty minutes is far too long to wait for an appearance by John Saxon and his eyebrows. But I overall, I liked Blood Beach. It took me nearly twenty years to see the freakin' movie, and I won't say it's a total disappointment. It's not scary at all, sand eating people isn't really scary. And it's not really quite ridiculous enough for my tastes either, save for the few moments mentioned above. It is ridiculous, I'm just a tough customer when it comes to utter ridiculousness. Maybe twenty more years, and I'll watch it again. 

Now, I have to finish listening to Foreigner's greatest hits. They're coming to Richmond soon, and I'm soooooo there so I've got to brush up on the lyrics to Head Games and Cold as Ice. Which always makes me think of that Aqua Teen episode with the Foreigner belt. 

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Haunted: A Novel

So of course I like Chuck Palahnuik. I've read everything he's ever written, with the strange exception of Fight Club. You would think I would have read that one first. But you know I enforce the book before movie policy above all costs most of the time, so I saw Fight Club first and then there wasn't really a point to reading it. Same should have been true with Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting, but I actually did go back and read that novel post-movie viewing. The only novel of Welsh's I haven't read is his first, Filth. But whatever. This isn't a post about Irvine Welsh, although you  might want to look here in the future, I'm on a literature kick as of late, and by kick I mean two consecutive posts about books. 

So it's rare that I don't like anything Chucky writes, although his style can be a bit repetitive, even when he's writing in a female voice, the narrative voice doesn't really change, and the plot does get a bit recycled as well. It's always gotta be about somebody trying to escape something, doesn't it? Well, that ain't all bad, because aren't we all trying to escape something? Right? Right?

Anyway, so I bought Haunted: A Novel back in 2006 I guess right around the time it came out. I was all like, Chuck Palahnuik wrote a fuckin' horror novel!? I'm there. And I started reading it, got distracted by it a bit, because the frame story got on my nerves (get to that in a sec) and put it down for a minute, and by minute I mean three years. Then Christian randomly was combing through my books and took Haunted out and proceeded to read it. And then he wanted to discuss it, having not liked Rant and not wanting to have a discussion about that novel. So I decided to steel myself and give Haunted another try. I got through it this time and here's what I thought. And like a lot of stuff, sometimes it need some time to roll around in my mousetrap of a brain in order for me to come to really appreciate something, and by appreciate, I of course mean to be extremely and overly critical. 

Overall, Haunted is the story of 17 people who abandon their lives for three months to go on a writer's retreat to create their masterpiece. It's kinda like an urban episode of Survivor or a reality show where a bunch of losers are trapped in a house and forced to do shit to stay alive. But instead of being trapped on an island, ala Survivor, the would-be writers are trapped inside a old, ornate theatre and subjected to the whims of Brandon Whittier, an wealthy old man who is actually a thirteen-year old boy suffering from progeria who has amassed his fortune to execute these 'writer's retreats' by sleeping with the middle aged housewives that volunteer at his nursing home and then revealing that he is actually a child and blackmailing them. But more about who's who in a minute, 'cause it is worth mentioning, simply based on the imagination involved. So Whittier lures these fuckers here, withholds food, heat, power, and laundry to see how they'll all deal with the circumstances. What we are treated to in the meantime while the participants dismember, cannibalize, and kill each other is a personal narrative (hey, I teach college English, that's what we call it in class) from each person trapped in the theatre and the story basically reveals who they are or could possibly be and how it is they ended up trapped with a bunch of other assholes in a rotting old vaudeville house. Some are better than others, although most are stomach churning gross-outs peppered with that over-the-top imagination only Chucky can deliver. 

All the 'writers' have monikers the other 'writers' use instead of their real names. Curious and often annoying as hell, this takes a minute to get used to. Once the reader gets further into each personal narrative, the origin of these nicknames is typically revealed. For instance, the first story and also the story the novel is most well-known for, Guts, by Saint Gut-Free. Saint Gut-Free is a skinny youth who remains so skinny because of a masturbation accident involving a swimming pools suction valve. Mother Nature is a reflexologist, turned prostitute based on her knowledge of how to give great 'foot' and is on the lam from the Russian mafia after leaving her pimp. Miss America is a knocked up ex-morning show host who wants to be famous. Lady Baglady was a rich socialite until she and her husband began getting their sexual kicks from dressing as homeless people and fornicating in the street. One night, she and her husband witness the kidnapping of a Brazilian heiress and she's on the lam from the heiress' killers. The Earl of Slander was once a reporter who framed a boring child star as a kiddie pornographer in an attempt to win a Pulitzer. Director Denial was a social worker at a police station and tells us the story of Cora Reynolds, who committed suicide after trying to keep the police detectives at the squad from using anatomically correct child dolls for sexual purposes. Sister Vigilante may or may not have committed assault with a deadly bowling ball. Comrade Snarky has possibly sexually molested a possible male to female transsexual. The Missing Link is possibly a sasquatch/werewolf hybrid. And you get the idea. Every one is flawed, everyone is fleeing something, and no one is the least bit likable. I feel sorry for no one really, not even Mrs. Clark, Whittier's assistant, who lost her daughter, Cassandra, to a retreat of Whittier's some time in the near(?) past. Hard to say. Everyone is deliberately ambiguous about everything. 

Haunted is it's own damn thing. It's totally Palahnuik and it's totally fucked up. Which isn't a bad thing. The stories the 'writers' tell are gory, sick, graphic, sexually depraved, and some of them actually do evoke a physical reaction. Like I pinch up my face a little bit, wrinkle my nose, and kind of feel icky all over after reading Saint Gut-Free's story. It's effectively horrifying. Most of the stories are. It's also pretty effectively annoying in its form and style a lot of times. While imaginative, it's often repetitive. And as the participants in the retreat unravelled, oftentimes, so did my patience. But I kept reading and I realized I got a lot further in the novel the first go-round that I thought I did. And I realized that it's a challenging read, not just because of my tried patience, but because of what the author really does evoke. I said I don't like any of the characters, that doesn't mean I don' t feel sorry for them on some sort of level. I think I'm probably most curious to find out who is narrating the tale, too. Because from what I can tell, and from Christian reading it too, it's never revealed to us the nature of the narrator's identity? Who the hell is he? He's a participant but never gets his story into play. It's a curious choice and lends the story and eeriness, a haunted feeling, as it were. Harumpf. 

So yeah, second lit post in a row, and this scotch is starting to go to my head. Yes, I'm drinking while I'm blogging. So what. Anyway, here it is in a scotch bottle (like an nutshell, get it?): I like the fucking thing, okay? It's obnoxious but I don't think it's trying to be something it isn't. It's an effective commentary on what people are willing to do to become famous, escape their pasts, fill in the blank. What won't people do when they're pushed to the limit? What won't people do sometimes to change their boring ass lives? Some people don't, but you can be damn sure they dream about it. 

Read more! I know we loves the movies! But there's lots of good horrors, great horrors even, in book form. Sometimes even more so. Okay, I said sometimes.   

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Let the Right One In

I gotta love a man that gives me books. And when they're books I actually want to read, even better. Like my mom gives me books for all major holidays, but it's never anything I give a crap about. It's like she went to Target, looked through the discounted books, saw a book with a cat featured somewhere on the cover and said, oh, Jennifer would enjoy this, even though it's likely a young adult novel or something so atrocious it's not even worth me reading after I take painkillers. (Sidebar: when I used to take painkillers on the regular, I would still want to read, but I couldn't process 'regular' reading so I would read Danielle Steele and Jackie Collins novels.) So it is a welcome change of pace to receive books from Christian, who always takes my actual interests to heart when purchasing a book for me.

Such was the case when he gifted me Let the Right One In, the Swedish vampire novel by John Lindqvist. I always try to enlist the book before movie policy, and of course, the original before remake policy, so I was eager to read Let the Right One In before the movie arrived from my netflix queue, which it is slated to do today.

Let the Right One In is about Oskar, a chubby 12-year old in a working class neighborhood in Stokholm. Oskar is your typical loner, he's bullied at school, and is the product of a divorced family. He lives with his working mother, shoplifts, eats lots of candy, and eventually meets up with the elusive Eli, who appears to be his age, but doesn't attend regular school and only appears on the playground at night. A friendship between Oskar and Eli begins and the murders around the neighborhood increase. Those looking for anything super out of the ordinary about vamps will be disappointed here, Eli can't go out in daylight and has to have permission before entering someone's home, but the relationship between Oskar and Eli is the focus. Yes, there are a multitude of grisly set pieces in the five-hundred or so pages of the novel, there's enough disembowlments, acid melting off faces, guttings, death by cats, and vamp action to quell even the biggest gorehounds. But honestly, this is a tender, touching story about how people often cannot find connections with other people, the lonliness of the working class, and the trials of growing up. Yes, Eli may be a vampire and there's another revelation sometime along the way, but none of this bother Oskar, who is thankful he's finally made a connection to someone. The whole thing is developed in such rich detail, I'm having trouble picturing it cinematically. But word on the internets is that the movie is damn fine too, albeit maybe a bit on the arty side, but

I was so thrilled with the novel, I seriously could not put it down. It's rare that a book haunts me the way Lindqvist's novel did in the days and weeks after I was finished reading it. I read a lot of freakin' books too, and most of the time, even when I really, really like something, it doesn't quite resonate with me the way this novel did. Wonder what he has coming up next? He does hard horror as well as he does characters and plot elements. It's a horror novel but so much more, which is the reason I love horror so much in the first place, damn it. This is one novel that cannot be easily dismissed as just gore.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

"Criminally Insane" 250 Pounds of Maniacal Fury!

Whenever I think of a giant, just-released mental patient wielding a cleaver, I think of my partner in weird cinema crime, Rachel. Not because Rachey resembles Crazy Fat Ethel from 1975's Criminally Insane in any way, but because way back in the day in undergrad, Rachey was the first to introduce me to Ethel. It went down something like this: Jenn, Ethel, Ethel, Jenn. And so a love was born, a love of Ethel Janowski, a woman full of repressed rage and a desire to eat until she becomes full, consequently a goal she never attains. But, here, here, sister, we gotta have goals in life. 

So unfolds the tale of Crazy Fat Ethel, directed by sleaze and soft-core director Nick Philips. This flick was a gear switcheroo for the porno director, but who needs skin when there's Ethel? Truthfully, you don't want to see any more of Ethel than you do. Her mumus thankfully leave much to the imagination. Aw, I'm being mean, I said I loved, Ethel, remember? And I do. 

I feel sorry for sourpuss Ethel right of the bat, because her grandma is just so damn mean. Ethels's been locked away in a mental institution for gosh knows how long, all she wants to do is get out and eat some damn ice cream.  Still, Granny locks up the keys to pantry and tells Ethel they're going on a diet. She'll get no meat and no milk until she drops some poundage. Well, a reasonable thing to do then is to kill Granny, take the keys to the pantry and eat, eat, eat. Of course, one thing leads to another, and Ethel becomes consumed with bloodlust resulting in more murders, namely that of her sister, Rosalie, a prostitute, Rosalie's pimp, and several grocery delivery boys. 

Speaking of Rosalie and her pimp, the pimp utters some of my favorite words ever uttered in a movie I have ever heard. He tells Rosalie, after he had left her ass for some other hooker after he gave her a beatdown, "All women deserve a beating sometimes. Especially you." Commence to make out. I know I love it when a pimp beats my ass, leaves me for another pro, then comes over to my dead granny's house, plies me with cocaine, and tells me I especially deserve a beating. Nothing in particular turns me on more. And they shoulda given Ethel some of that booger sugar, it'll might have quelled her appetite, but probably not her pent-up rage. Never give the white shit to a recently released mental patient. There, my friends, is advice to live by. 

So the bodies keep piling up in the attic and the stench is unbearable and eventually the inevitable will occur, poor Ethel will go back to the nut house. But what a wild ride before she gets caught! This is probably one of the first 'bad' good movies I ever saw with an appreciation of what I was seeing. Somebody had given Rachel a copy or she had a bootleg VHS copy or something, I don't know where she came by it, but she made me watch it several times in as many weeks, but she was, and still is, obsessed with it, and for good reason. It's terrible! It's wonderful! What to think? What's gonna happen next? The carnage! The dialogue! The Seventies!  It's Crazy Fat Ethel! 250 Pounds of Maniacal Fury! That's all you need to know. 

Until, of course, some bastard tried to make a Crazy Fat Ethel 2 in 1987, no less, with Priscilla Alden, the original Ethel, playing the titular role. Frankly, the magic from the original was lost. Completely. And I do mean completely. Ethel is still stunning, however. 

Monday, March 16, 2009

After Dark Horrorfest III 8 Films to Die For

Sometimes, although rarely, and then I usually strike it from the record of having said it, I feel like I should apologize for my genre. Often, said apology comes after I have made Christian sit through something truly god-awful and not in a good way shit, and a similar apology was made last year after watching Unearthed. And since Unearthed was part of last year's atrocity known as After Dark Horrorfest II: 8 Films to Die For, I thought this would be a fitting intro for this blog post regarding the cover artwork for this year's set of 8 shitty films put out by After Dark.
Hey, I'll admit it, I love a crappy ass
horror movie. And yes, I will also admit I sat dutifully netflixed and sat through the 16 previous Horrorfest films. And while I cannot remember a single title, let alone, film from the first year, I do remember a couple of flicks from last year, Mulberry Street being the standout, so much so, that it shouldn't have been billed as a After Dark Horrorfest flick. Having the Horrorfest moniker detracts from an otherwise pretty solid humans-turning-into-rat-creatures-and-wrecking-NYC movie. I also recall Tooth and Nail from last year's entries, because, and only because, I enjoyed the premise - the Apocalypse not from you know, stuff like wa
r and other shit, but because we ran out of gasoline. What follows after this premise is presented to the audience, however, is worthy of the Horrorfest name and dissolves into blah. I know I watched the others, but I'm too lazy to go back to my netflix or try to imdb it, because I really don't care. I just want to say this year I am NOT watching any of the new 8 Films to Die For! I'm not. If one of them arrives in the mail, Christian has been instructed to break it over his knee, lest he have to sit through them all as well. I will not waste any more time on these movies. They are not, I repeat, not worth it. T
he promo posters alone should indicate this. Moochie could do better photoshop and he's a cat with no computer skills. And while I don't limit myself to movies with bad promo art, hell, my house if filled with movie posters for 'bad' movies, I have to draw the line at another year of Horrorfest movies. They just keep getting shittier. And I can tell this from the poster art.

Let's examine the posters for the new Horrorfest flicks guaranteed to waste time, induce slumber, and clutter up your queue with recommendations you don't want. In the interest of not wasting anyone else's time, we'll only look at the most atrocious. I have salmon to eat and wine to drink, as well as an issue of Rue Morgue to finis
h tonite.

To your left, we have Autopsy. How lazy is this poster? Seriously, how long did it take someone to do this? Five minutes? And what kind of tag line is 'Get Carried Away.' Aren't there like seventy bajillion other movies called Autopsy, too? And why do these severed legs tell me anything about the titular autopsy? I hate reviews of things that are nothing but questions, but this poster leaves me with nothing but questions and kinda reminds me a poster that a Saw movie maybe used. Once again, laziness keeps me from researching this any further. Well, laziness and my hatred for the Saw franchise. The little flecks of stitch on the top of the legs, oh yes, how horrible, they've obviously been amputated and this movie will undoubtedly be very scary and horrible evidenced solely by some severed legs on a white background. Ugh.

Next on the autopsy table, we have From Within. Again, aren't there already several movies called this? I swear I've seen a movie called From Within before, maybe with Lovecraftian themes? And no, I'm not thinking of Stuart Gordon's From Beyond, I know that somewhere, I have seen a flick with this title. The Horrorfest titles are so generic. From Within could be anything, and if you trust this poster, the within and the from involve some sort of vapor exuding from eye holes at an attempt to be spooky. 'Death is Catching' is our stellar tagline here, however, this one does offer us a bit more than Autopsy's 'Get Carried Away.' I can somewhat glean that maybe a ghost or curse may be involved here and that ghost or curse is likely to be coming from within, or at least somewhere thereabouts. Death likely ensues. Whether or not the audience cares, well, you know I don't care and I'm not even in the audience.

How about Slaughter? Anybody getting a serious 80's vibe off of this one, and once again, not in a good way? And once again, how lazy is this? It's some lips and a knife with the tagline 'Find a Good Hiding Place.' Ugh, man, these taglines, you could put them on anything, put them on your fucking cereal box or get them tattooed under your collar bone. So with Slaughter and it's tagline, I can pretty much tell that there will be some murdering and some (probably CGI) mayhem and maybe a lady is doin' all the killin' 'cos of them there sexy red lips, but I'm probably mistaken because the poster likely has little, if at anything to do with the narrative.

Ack - I can't get the picture to post - I hate that! Allow me to paint the picture for you. Completely black background, blood red lips in a kissy pout with a knife blade brought up to them in a shush! motion. Above it says Slaughter in a sans serif font with a barely noticeable aforementioned bullshit tagline above.

Alright, why waste time talking about these? Because I can't help it - it boggles the mind that they keep getting worse and they continue to get made. While there has been a gem or two hiding behind the label in the last two years or so, making another slew of these is not the answer. The answer to what? The answer to making effective contemporary horror cinema that horror movies freaks such as myself and the other fine bloggers out there can sink their teeth into. And while there is plenty of horror cinema out there of late that fits that bill (and I'm not talking about any of the recent remakes), there is also plenty of crap. And the 8 Films to Die for have proven themselves over the last two years to be total crap. I am hungry and starting to get buzz so I might talk about the other poster art for the other 5, but I might not. Perhaps I am sated for now and I promise to post a review about something I love, rather than something I hate (this is two posts in a row now), and like my apologies for my genre, promises are rather fleeting, but I'll try. I still need to regale you with tails from the audience from this weekend's viewing of the redux of Last House on the Left and post my incomprehensible drunken ramblings from the Paul Naschy (shout of for my man! holla!) vehicle, Blue Eyes for a Broken Doll.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Repo! The Genetic Opera: Rocky Horror for our Generation or Utter Crap?

I finally saw Repo! The Genetic Opera. It's been nearly a year that it's been pushed down our throats by the major blogs and horror sites to go see it, support it wherever it plays, see it at all costs, blah, blah, blah. And I understand this. My love of independent and horror movies encompasses this ideal, in that, we should go support the shit we love so much and scream its merits from the highest of rooftops, or more literally, from our blogs and myspace pages. And I also understand how transcending genres is important, especially in challenging the status quo. We have certainly had enough of J-horror remixes, PG-13 rated at that, crappy torture porn (thank your god that trend is pretty much over with), and even the remakes of late to piss us off and, well, sometimes, just sometimes mayyyyyybeeeee question where our beloved genre is headed. 

So it is here where we arrive at Repo! (And I'll state for the official record that although I was drinking and jet lagged during my viewing of this film, I was able to remain conscious through the entire running time and was coherent enough to make notes as well, however, this review may suffer from what my other posts and reviews often suffer from, which is, of course, my heavy consumption of wine and other spirits and extreme exhaustion). Yes, I remember when I first saw Rocky Horror. I was but a wee gothling of fifteen or so, and the fucking thing blew me away. The scene near the end when they're in the pool, I didn't know what to think. It was so beautiful and sexual and crazy and campy, wow. I freakin' loved Rocky Horror. But I was fifteen and that movie was already a cult classic, so what of it? What does this, if anything, have to do with my opinion of Repo! Well, besides the fact that they are both musicals, both appeal to the teen goth girl set, and transcend genre? I guess, nothing really. 

Repo! is not my generation's version of Rocky Horror. Rocky Horror is my version of Rocky Horror. If I was seventeen, maybe I would think Repo! was the shit. But I've gotten over myself. There's no more teen angst, there's no more 'daddy, I hate you,' hell, half the time, I don' t even dress the part any more, job be damned and all. So, what did I get out of watching Repo! Not much. I got annoyed seeing Bill Moseley try to sing in an opera. Okay, maybe the man is typecast into that redneck Chop Top Otis category or whatever, but shit, he doesn't belong in this movie, he just doesn't. And while it's cool to see Skinny Puppy's Ogre in a flick, he's kinda under-utilized, while stupid ass Paris Hilton takes center stage. And seriously, why even have this fucking skank in a movie like this anyway? Do you really think she understood what kind of movie she was showing up to 'act' in? Oooh, big deal, her face falls off during her big opera debut, but, seriously, we already cheered when she got offed in the remix of House of Wax. I like my horror movies, well, all of my movies, and my life for that matter, Paris Hilton free. 

So I guess I see the irony, but it's insulting at times. Ooh, people in this dystopic universe are addicted to surgery, plastic or otherwise - that isn't that far from how we are right now. How ironic? Oooh. Okay, I've clearly had too much to drink and I'm probably straight up not making sense but seriously, this movie pissed me off in a lot of ways. And for reals, who cares that the guy that made the Saw sequels directed this piece of crap? I hated, hated, hated those Saw movies. They sucked. I don't care what your argument is, those movies are crappy. And while this is a TOTALLY different movie from Saw, it's still crap. Directing Saw, sequels or otherwise, gives you no horror cred at all. Bill Moseley is the only one with any horror cred in this flick and he is totally miscast. 

Skip this one. Skip it. It's annoying and pretentious and not at all socially poignant or interesting. The songs are annoying and the actors can't sing. I wish I could be more eloquent about how I feel about this but it doesn't warrant that. I wish I could say that if I watched it again, my opinion would be different, that it would grow on me, so to speak, but once again, I don't care enough about a over-blown, over-produced, Saw director-having, musical where no one can sing or act or anything, and uses comic-style drawing and vignettes to drive a crappy narrative with no character development. That being said, the costumes are awesome and some of the stuff has almost a steampunk feel to it, but then again, it ain't enough to save it. Not if Paris Hilton's face actually did fall of in real life would this movie have been worth it. 

P.S. I've ordered the soundtrack so I can listen to it in the car. 

P.P.S. I kid. 

Monday, March 9, 2009

Chicago Weekend of Horrors Recap

Here's a pic of Rachel with Lloyd Kaufman. Both of us are HUGE Troma fans from way back, so when he got on the hotel shuttle at the airport with us and proceeded to make dirty puns the entire way to the hotel, we were utterly delighted. He kinda reminded me of this guy at my gym who always comes over while I'm on the treadmill to gawk at my tattoos and tell me I have pretty teeth for someone who has mutilated their body. He does this in the nicest way possible though, so I'm not really offended. And he does it every day now, so I guess I'm used to it. 

Other than that, the con was a hit, the Italians were so cute and sweet and Lamberto Bava had trouble making change when we gave them a twenty for some merch. And HG Lewis made us sing the theme song from 2000 Maniacs along with him. And Bill Moseley talked about how great Rob Zombie is. Ha, as if we didn't already know. I mean, Tony Timpone asked him to talk more about Rob Zombie after his time was up. Yeah, we don't care about Repo! or TCM or anything else Bill Mosely's done, we care about Rob! Yes, I'll go see H2 and yes, I love Rob Zombie and wish he was my husband, but let the man talk about his career, not someone elses. 

Anyway, John Russo and George Kosana (both from NOTLD) bickered back and forth like a old married couple when we stopped by their booth and John Russo was the second dirty old man of the trip when he regaled us with a joke about a Chinese man and a Greek. 

We also got to see Vinyan, which I was super stoked about, because I really liked Calvaire, by the same director, Fabrice du Welz. While not your typical 'con' movie (the last movie I saw at a con was Demoni 2 and it was at midnight and people were freaking out and drunk and saying shit to the screen and laughing, and basically have a great time with all the violence, gore, and cheez), Vinyan was a subdued, slow-moving descent into madness flick with a disturbing ending to say the least. And it's been in my netflix for months in the 'saved' section, so I'm glad I got to witness it before it is actually released on DVD here. I would have been more stoked to see Let the Right One In, but that comes out tomorrow and Christian has a bootleg, so I'll get to that soon anyways. 

Rachey spent a shit-ton of money on artwork and I got an original New Year's Evil poster. We drank lots of vodka sodas and Stellas at hotel prices and met some really cool people, filmmakers, and artists,  and all around had a great time and didn't think about work once. If only every weekend could be so cool. I missed my fur children but there was only one vomit when I got home after our flight was delayed for five hours. So I think we'll probably drive to Cinema Wasteland. 

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Emanuelle NOT helping others, only getting what SHE wants

One of the problems with drinking so much is that you never remember what you've watched or what you've watched all the way through. So you've got to go back when you're sober, or at least just on your first glass of wine, and say, okay, I think I might have seen this before but maybe not, so let me continue to drink and see what happens. This happened when I watched, and then subsequently rewatched, Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals. I'm sitting there, going, hey all of this looks really familiar, yet I remember none of it, and hey, where's the bestiality? This was directed by Joe D'Amato and starred Laura Gemser, was it not?

So what's to be said now that I guess I've watched this twice. It's your typical D'Amato/Gemser paring - Laura is jet-set reporter Emanuelle sent to exotic locales to uncover shocking (!) material, in this case, ooh, cannibalism. So what I've come to expect from these two is lots and lots of gratuitous sex (ok, check), a bit of masturbation during a voyeuristic experience (check and check) and bestiality (er, no check here, oddly, and as much as I truly enjoyed watching snake and dog penetration in Emanuelle Around the World, who wouldn't, right?, I wasn't lacking in this department this go-round). So lack of bestiality aside, I somehow welcomed the cannibalism which somehow seems less taboo than the bestiality. Most things do, I suppose. 

Okay, you know how Emanuelle is kinda like James Bond? She always gives her real name and still gets invited into these exclusive places to take pictures and report on scandalous stuff? Well, of course, this is no exception. But what I really enjoyed about her espionage this time is that instead of wearing a stylish gold bracelet to conceal her camera, she carries around a creepy babydoll with a hidden camera instead. Tell me how that isn't conspicuous as hell? So she's walking around with a baby doll, the director of the institution holding the cannibal girl knows her name and occupation, and still lets her in to do journalism stuff, and by journalism I strictly mean fingering a cannibal while asking her her name, then subsequently aiming the babydoll camera at her for some candid photos. 
Then Em is off to watch a 'snuff' type film of some ritualistic cannibalism from the Amazon. Adultery has supposedly taken place so the wife's family eats the husband's penis. Perfectly sensible, if you ask me. So this spurs Em to want to take a trip to the Amazon for a cannibal expose so she does fuckey times with some guy and then there's a nun and  some more fuckey times and a bit more masturbation and maybe some interracial sex and some gore. By this point, I'm on at least my third to fifth glass of wine. And I may or may not have had a shot of bourbon. 
Basically, it comes down to this. Take out all the sex in a crappy Emanuelle movie and what do you have? A generic tale of a reporter uncovering something stupid to no end really. It's not like Emanuelle really ever helps anyone. Hell, she sexually molests a cannibal she is trying to interview. Em only perpetrates what she wants to perpetrate. She gets her pictures, gets fucked quite a bit (or is it she who is doing the fucking?) but we never get to see the outcome of her great articles. We know she's famous for these articles, but what comes of it? Really, at the end of the movie, we don't give a shit because this is a glorified skin flick. I don't know why I'm getting worked up about it, but Em's movies are not about helping others, they're about fucking. And sometimes gore too, this one had a bit of gore, quite a bit more than the others I've watched. I want badly to find meaning where there isn't any - although the merit here is obviously sex and gore. Basically, I guess it's all you need, sleaze and guts. 
I think my problem, I guess if I really have a problem, because I do love watching these movies, is that this shit tries to look more expensive than it is. It talks a sweet game but really, this is just the kind of movie people would congregate to go masturbate in a theatre too, which, by the way, is something that I'm obsessed with, the whole going to a theatre to masturbate phenomenon. While those 'types' of theatres on a whole don't exist much any more, I'd still like the option of going to a movie and being able to masturbate in peace. It's a nasty thought, a whole theatre of people masturbating, but I love it. Who knows for what reason. Oh, yeah, because it's shocking, ooh. If Joe D'Amato was still around (is he? I think he died in the 80's) he could send Em on a expedition to the Duece and she could uncover the seedy side of 42nd street. 
and is it just me, or is Laura Gemser way too fucking skinny? Her freakin' collar bone looks like it could cut you?
Okay, I'm officially off to Chicago for Weekend of Horrors. I haven't packed yet and the wine is a'flowing. I have to get up at 7 a.m. to catch my flight and hopefully the cats will be squared away and I won't be too hungover. I'm super excited to catch the I-talian panel with Dedato, I 'm sure I'll have lots and lots and lots of goodies to post on my return. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Snow! In the South! This calls for a Broom Attack!

While not horror related, I felt the need to share this picture of me attacking my car with a broom after yesterday's ten inches of snowfall. I'm in the South, not too, too far South, mind, I'm in Richmond, VA, but still! Ten inches of snow is a lot of for us, in a town that rarely sees a flurry. There's a joke here about whenever the weather predicts snow, there's no bread or milk to be found in the city. It's true. I went to Food Lion Sunday night and people were freaking out. There wasn't a loaf of bread to be had in the store and all the organic milk was gone. However, in horror-related news, I'm slated to go to Fango's Weekend of Horrors this weekend in Chicago and I'm hoping the snow doesn't keep me from making my appearance there on Friday. I haven't nerded it up at a con in ages, and I'm super duper excited to get the eff out of town for a few days and hang out around other super nerdy horror movie minded individuals. And we got the 'gold' tickets, so we can sit right up in Romero's face while he talks about zombies and other stuff that George Romero talks about. So yeah. Updates will abound upon my return, and maybe a post before then, if I don't drink too much wine and pass out (again) trying to watch Emmanuelle and the Last Cannibals. And while I've enjoyed the last two days off of work away from my horrible (and not in a good way) students, I'm ready to attack Christian with a broom if I don't get out of the house!