Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Baby

You know how I like my movies - sick and twisted and from the seventies. Even better if it stars Ruth Roman as a sadistic-as-fuck cross between Joan Crawford and Ernest Borgnine. Even better still if it's got a full grown man who has been conditioned to think he's still a baby. And eeeeeven better still, if there's some icky incestuous sexual situations. 1973's The Baby directed by Ted Post is an answer to all that I deem grand in a 'sploitation film. But just what kind of 'sploitation is The Baby? Babysploitation? Fullgrownmanwhothinkshe'sababysploitation? Well, let's decide together, shall we?

Ann Gentry (Anjanette Comer), a social worker with some severely skinny eyebrows and a cold sore on her lip, has taken a special interest in the Wadsworth baby. And what a special interest it is! The Wadsworth baby isn't a baby, but a full-grown man in his late 20's who behaves like an infant. He lives with his mother, Mama Wadsworth, the aforementioned battle axe, who is the kind of woman you would classify as a 'broad.' 

She chain smokes, swills whiskey, wears red go-go boots and lots of denim - they just don't make 'em like her any more. See the stunning visage above. (I swear it - but I thought Ruth Roman was also in William Girdler's 1976 epic, Grizzly. But it's been many a year and hangover since I've watched Grizzy, so I might be thinking of another similar 'broad.' Or I'm confusing Grizzly with Day of the Animals, also epic.) Mama Wadsworth's two daughters by two different men, Germaine (Marianna Hill), a frizzy haired tart who wears silver high heels to clean the woodwork in the house, and Alba (Suzanne Zenor), a young blond thing with a sadistic streak just like her mommy and some serious age play going on herself (think pig tails and lollipops), live with Mama and Baby (yes, they just call him Baby, he doesn't have a Christian name or anything) and take care of him as they see fit. Baby's father is a different dude from Alba and Germaine's daddies, who also ran off long ago. Besides Baby, men are completely absent in this movie. It makes for an interesting study, but as usual, I'm way ahead of myself. I can't help it with this movie - it is so fucking insane and functions across levels of perversion and utter fucked-up-ed-ness that make me giddy with pleasure. I can't help but get carried away. Anyway.....

No one, besides Alba turning the occasional trick or Germaine starring in the occasional commercial (ha! I hope it's not for hair care products!), works, so the only income the family receives is from Baby's welfare checks and disability. So the Wadsworth women have financial interests to protect here, so they're pretty wary of Ann. They don't want to loose their meal ticket. And interestingly, as it is mentioned off the cuff, the last case worker for the Wadsworths mysteriously disappeared. Hmm....

However, Ann doesn't care about what happened to the last worker and decides to really put her all into saving Baby from his mother and sisters. She sees great potential in Baby; that he could likely walk and talk if he wanted to. All this is fine and good, altruistic really, of Ann,  but come on. Doesn't she find this the least bit disturbing? She doesn't seem to, she's quite taken with Baby actually, from the very start. How about these visuals? Even the most hardened of social workers would likely cringe at some of this shit. A full grown man wearing a diaper and a bib, sits in a oversized high chair and gets fed pudding out of a cup. He whines and cries and throws hissy fits just like a baby. David Manzy, who plays Baby, is outta this world in the role; if you can actually get over that he's a full grown man, he's actually a damn effective baby, baby noises and all, which is even more unsettling. I heard somewhere all the cries and noises he makes are actually him, not an overdub. If that's true, he's dead on and so freakin' creepy. He could probably still get roles as an old man baby for all those old man baby movies that get made every year. But I don't think Manzy was ever in another substantial movie after this one, at least not according to his Internet Movie Database profile. 

So it's clear that the Wadsworth ladies don't want Ann nosing around. They prefer Baby just as he is. Germaine cuts her eyes at Ann when Ann asks to get involved with feeding Baby. Alba and Mama dispute the fact that Baby is capable of development. When Ann asks Germaine when the last time Baby had a psychiatric evaluation, she responds, When he was a baby. Like no one ever thought to give this person another evaluation, after years and years of case workers coming to the house? Doesn't this strike anyone as odd? Well, maybe that last case worker thought it strange, and now she's nowhere to be found, recall? Ann leaves after this disconcerting convo with Germaine and goes home to watch some slides of her husband Roger on a boat and starts to feel wistful.  Apparently he suffered some sort of accident....

Back at the Wadsworth house, the girls have gone out to a sumptuous Chinese meal and left Baby alone with a babysitter. They won't leave Baby alone with a social worker, but a teen babysitter is cool, apparently. We meet her when she's on the phone with her boyfriend, who wants to come over for some hanky panky in the traditional my-girlfriend-is-babysitting, lemme-go-get-some-while-there-are-no-adults-around sort of way, and she tells him about her panties but then has to get off the phone because Baby is crying. She's actually the only person to refer to Baby as a 'freak,' oddly. No one else really bandies the 'F' word about when discussing him. Babysitter girl changes his diaper (remember, full grown man here) and lets him out of his crib to play. He bumps his head on the fireplace and she goes to comfort him. Comfort involves letting full man Baby take her titty out and then she pretends to breast feed him while rocking him back and forth saying, Oh, Baby. Oh, Baby. Well, just as she's starting to get into it, Mama and the girls get home from eating egg rolls and find Baby with the booby in his mouth. Oh, man, does Mama flip out. She gets out the braided belt out of the dresser drawer she keeps just for this sort of occasion and beats this girl's ass 'til she's bloody. Alba and Germaine escort her out instructing her not to tell anybody because the courts would believe them over her, since she was sexually assaulting a mental case. Just another day around the ol' Wadsworth place.

The next day. Ann comes by the Wadworth's and Baby is outside in a crib while Alba is listening to the radio. There's some convo between Ann and Alba and then Alba gets up to answer the phone ringing inside. She was instructed by Mama not to leave Baby alone, but she figures the call might be important. Someone probably calling to off Germaine another shampoo ad or something. I made that up. That woman couldn't work in television for free. Now radio, maybe...

Ann, thinking now that she's got Baby alone she can test his abilities, tries to get him to stand up, but like with the babysitter, just as she's about to succeed, Mama walks up in this great all denim ensemble and intimidates her. Ann pleads her case like a good social worker without a hidden agenda, and says Baby would be better off in a clinic day school type situation that could work with him to better his abilities. Mama wants to know why Ann thinks Baby is capable of development so Ann sets out to do a demonstration where she gets Baby to bring her a ball. Mama gives Baby a wicked side eye so he'll remember his place, and he, fearing Mama's wrath, doesn't comply with Ann's request for the ball. Ann leaves disappointed but not without resolve.

Inside the house my favorite part of the movie to quote is unfolding. Alba shocks Baby with a cattle prod while yelling 'Baby doesn't walk, and Baby doesn't talk, and Baby doesn't stand' with such sadistic glee and fervor that's downright impressive. Then Mama comes in, hits Alba for being too aggressive, and shouts for the girls to get Baby into the closet. Sounds about right. Later that night, once Baby is asleep and sucking his thumb in his crib, Germaine comes into the nursery wearing a slinky white negligee. She removes the nightie and crawls into the crib with Baby. And cut! Damn it. I guess some things are better left to the imagination. It was effective, just the implication that Baby and his sisters have sex with each other is enough to give me an icky feeling. Don't be so shocked, you knew this part was coming. 

Anyway, Ann goes to see some doctor types about Baby and the doctors tell her to basically leave the Wadsworths alone. How can this be? Don't you think doctor types would want to help someone with such an affliction as Baby's? It's weird how totally non-plussed everyone besides Ann is about this unusual case. You would think Social Services would be all over this madness. But whatever. Ann decides to officially take matters into her own hands after her supervisor removes her from the case entirely and goes over to the Wadsworth's house to deliver a 'See You In Court' speech. Mama don't give a shit and basically laughs in her face. She's also wearing Keds and a more denim in this scene and is, as you can imagine, quite fetching.

Back at home, Ann gets a phone call from Mama in which Mama 'apologizes' and invites Ann to Baby's birthday party the following evening. Baby's birthday party is totally just an excuse for the Wadsworth women to have men over to the house to drink, dance, and makeout. They do have a cake for Baby and weird colored lighting and balloons, but seriously, like everything else, this is just for them. Ann reluctantly goes to the party to talk to Mama about actually committing Baby to an institution but everyone's dancing and drunk and Ann's just there so they can drug her, tie her up, and kill her later once the party is over, natch. We also get to see Mama dance at the party, which totally gives me a Divine-and-Tab-Hunter-dancing-in -Polyester-at-the-opening-of-the-independent-movie-theatre vibe. In fact, I get a drag vibe off of Mama W. quite a bit. But anyway, Germaine drugs Ann while Ann is playing darts competitively with Alba and some loser in a fringe jacket named Dennis for a gold angel statue.
They tie her up and put her in the basement. 

Alba then goes off to make out with Dennis in a stairwell and she tells him, 'I bet ya want it don't you. Will you do it the way I want it? Will you get down and beg for it? Will you crawl around on the floor like a little (ah, wait for it..............) puppy dog (sorry, disappointment) for it? He agrees but first he has to hold his hand over a lighter's flame for one minute. He doesn't succeed, but by then it's time to do that killin' of the social worker that helps take care of the full grown man baby that lives here business that concludes most parties at the Wadsworth residence. 

So while Alba's been commanding Dennis to do weird stuff in exchange for sexy times, Baby has managed to help Ann free herself. She takes Baby, punctures Mama's tires, and speeds off into the night with Baby in tow. Once she gets him home, she bathes him and puts him in a suit and tie and photographs him leaning on a wicker chair and sends said photograph to Mama to gloat and brag. It's here that you really see Mama long to have Baby back. Yeah, sure, she probably misses the cash he brought her all these years, but as she mournfully looks at the window from his nursery after she receives his photo, I actually shed a tear for the ol' bitch. Well, maybe not. But seriously, it's the only time she really acts like she gives a hot damn about her weirdo son, which she made like that in the first place. Or did she? 

But, wait! There's more! Not to be made fools of, the Wadsworth ladies, classy as ever, decide to hunt down Ann and their Baby and they do so by driving around at night through unlit neighborhoods trying to spot her vehicle, a very effective method for finding out where someone lives when you had no marginal idea at all of where they lived in the first place. They gain entrance to Ann's house easily, although you would think the woman would have locked her damn door, knowing full well that the Wadsworths were pissed as a motherfucker for her stealing their monthly check in the form of a man baby. That's when I'm MOST likely to lock my doors. But Ann's ready for them and dispatches them rather quickly with the help of her mother-in-law. I'll leave out all the details, as this is running really long and I want to get another movie watched before I go to bed. I also really wanted to offer ya'll some more pics from this thing but I'm lazy and I've been working ALL day. I should quit being such a (wait for it) Baby! Ha! 

I REALLY, REALLY want to spoil the ending, but I won't. It's so great! Trust. Best ending a man-baby-sploitation movie from the seventies could ever have. Let's just say, it answers a lot of questions about Ann and her 'agenda.' Oh yeah, so what kind of 'sploitation is this? It's not a horror movie, although the cover art on the DVD would lead you to believe it is. Even the tag line 'Pray you don't learn the secret of...' on the one pictured above and on the copy I have 'Horror is his formula' (my personal favorite). It was likely just billed as a horror flick to put butts in seats when it came out. But I could see this appealing to horror fans and weird cinema fans and all sorts of other obsessives and perverts. It appeals to me, doesn't it? 

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Curious Dr. Humpp

Why had I never seen this movie until now? Why? You would think sometimes between 1967 when it was made (although I wouldn't be born until almost eleven years later) and now, I, of all people that I know, would have seen The Curious Dr. Humpp, at least back a few years ago when I was crawling through the Something Weird catalog. And in my relentless pursuit (not really) to see all the movies Rob Zombie samples from (this one being the sample for Living Dead Girl - 'Use my body to keep you alive'). So, yeah, just now getting around to this one and I couldn't be more pleased! Also, I'm pretty hungover today after consuming drunkening spirits all day (damn you, Sunday for being my only day off!), so if this is less comprehensible than normal, I blame mimosas, peach schnapps, sangria, sauvignon blanc, and yuengling. I feel sick just typing everything I drank. I know you don't feel sorry for me. It's cool. I still love ya. Onward!

After a kissing couple is chloroformed and put in the back of a vehicle that looks like the Ghostbusters' ride, Ecto 1, only black, there's a cut to some lesbians undressing each other slowly in an ornately furnished room. Then this guy wearing a wooden mask comes in and everyone gasps. This mask is depicted above and also never explained. It is also the most fabulous wooden mask I have ever seen in a sexploitation movie. And if you were wondering if it had a blinking light in the middle of the forehead, you wondered correctly.

Then there's a quick cut (get ready - there are lots and lots of quick cuts) and an inebriated fellow gets his ass chloroformed. Another quick cut and a blond chica is masturbating to a wall full of pics of half-nekkid men. I'm almost getting a Findlay vibe off of this, at least in the first five minutes or so. Not as dirty, but still gritty. Another cut, and two couples are smoking dope and sexing each other - no one's shy here! - to some very unsexy music. And there's this overdubbed disembodied voice that keeps saying, 'that's it, yeah, that's it' cheering the orgy on. I feel like I'm sitting in the theatre with some weirdo sitting behind me breathing in my ear while he jerks it. I feel this way a lot. Sometimes when I'm not watching movies. I'm at the dentist, I'm in Target, and I feel this way. 

Cut again to a cabaret performance, and by this I mean a striptease. A couple of dancers do a sexy little dance to a jazz number while sweaty dudes look on and couples feel each other up. Masky, as he is affectionately known - to me, anyway - shows up and looks around disapprovingly, because that wooden mask is able to convey emotion, dontcha know. He winds up kidnapping Rachel the stripper, because Dr. Humpp, the elusive Dr. Humpp, and needs the stripper for his experiments in mad scienc-y sexology. Fact is, he needs lots of virile young ladies and gentlemen for his sexual aberrations, because he's simply seeking a way to improve our species via sex. Sounds like a capital idea! 

Essentially, what Dr. H does is kidnap strippers, drug users, and other degenerates, drug them up even further and force them to make the beast with two backs over and over and over again. For science! And to keep him alive because he makes some sort of sex serum extracted from the fornicators that he must take in order to live. The whole operation is two-fold. So with the help of Masky, some other lesser masked drones, as well as a pretty blond nurse who is totally in love with him but will later betray him (isn't that always the case?), he records the couples in the act, watches it from a monitor, becomes very sweaty and looks intense, and drinks a potion made in his fabulous lab-or-a-tory, and sweats more. 

So meanwhile, while Dr. H is conducting science for personal gain as well as for the good of the universe, there's a couple of detectives hard at work on why all the delinquents around town are disappearing. The bartender from the joint where the stripper was kidnapped goes to a sketch artist and they whip up the spittin' image of Masky. Baffled by the rendering, a police officer asks, Do you think it's a mask? Really? Do you think? I almost dropped my vodka and gingerale

Back at the ranch, Dr. H is busy busy with finding the key to sexual desires to turn humans into, his words, veritable screwing machines. The way you would go about doing this, should you feel the need, is to take your wooden masked henchman, lay him out on a gurney, and drill into his mask where his frontal lobe may or may not be, to find that nerve that controls the libido. Quite simple, really. Then when you're done with that, you send said wooden masked henchman to the pharmacist during normal business hours to fill a prescription for aphrodisiac compounds. Why this raises suspicion I have no idea - but the pharmacist feels a bit uneasy about filling such a large order for such a strange thing for a dude in a wooden mask and he reads the paper where the sketch he sees the pic of the police sketch of Masky, so he calls the coppers. Masky escapes to play a weird clear guitar with sex slaves roam the grounds of Dr. H's compound and Dr. H consults a brain in a jar with an eastern European accent (!) on what to do next. The brain instructs the good doctor to continue with his brilliant and wonderful plan but to stop consulting regular pharmacies for the necessary ingredients and to certainly stop sending weirdo henchmen. 

I almost feel a little bit sorry for Masky, especially when he presents a flower to a Rachel. He clearly wants a chance at a normal life, but if the Venture Brothers has taught us something, it's that the life a henchman is really tough. So, it's either working for Dr. H and assisting in crackpot sex experiments while wearing a ridiculous and likely uncomfortable blinking mask or nothin'. And I know Dr. H is evil and crazy, but I kinda want him to succeed. He's ahead of his time in a way. Check it...

His research has led him to design a sort of sex machine before sex machines were cool. Rather, it sex by electronics and imagination sorta kinda. I don't know how to describe it - it's basically a man and a woman hooked up to electrodes and put into a hypno-state that makes them imagine they're having sex with each other under Dr. Humpp's direction. He tells George, do her like only a man can. And George complies by shouting, I'm doing it! I can't stop screwing her! And then there's a sex montage. You know, as much as I like this stuff, after about an hour I actually got bored with watching all the sex. It's like damn, movie,  you almost have too much sex! But as, Dr. H tells us, sex dominates the world, which is why he wants to dominate the sex. Domination of the sex = domination of the world. a simplistic fail-safe equation. 

And for some more eloquently spoken dialogue, please turn to this enchanting exchange between George and Rachel, the stripper from the bar: 

Rachel: What are you worried about? 
George: They made you into a nymphomaniac.
Rachel: You shouldn't worry about that. That means you can get it whenever you want. 
George: It's horrible what they did to you!
Rachel: Don't say that, George. Many women are just like this.  

Well, she is a stripper by trade! There are more wonderful snippets like this throughout. Oh, and since Rachel and the other hotties in town have all been kidnapped, the bar has been forced to hire aging BBWs to take the stage. No chance of old fatty getting kidnapped, now, is there? 
Hardy har har. Actually, it's pretty offensive. Most of this movie is downright utterly sexist to an absurd degree. So absurd that you can't take it with an ounce of seriousness. The above conversation would probably never take place in conversation now or even thirty years ago. It's just that ridiculous in it's sexism.

For all the sex in the movie, Dr. H never gets down, despite advances from his nurse. She practically throws herself at him more than once, and he constantly puts her off. Hmm...weird, huh? What's really goin' on with Dr. H? Nursey so undersexed she has to go have sex with George, only to have George fall in love with Rachel. So not only do you have a bizarre masked henchman, a local pharmacy where you can pick up large quantities of a compound that can be used to dominate humankind, and a talking brain in a jar, you have a love triangle, which the movie would likely not be complete without. 

This movie needs t-shirts and an action figure line. And I need a tattoo of Masky.  And the freakin' Spanish title for this baby is La Venganza del Sexo. That is all. 

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Killer Party

Oh, Killer Party, it's over between us. I'm sorry. I didn't want it to end this way. I wanted so badly to like you and to move forward with you, touting you on the internets, getting matching tattoos with you, basically, starting a life together. Oh, Killer Party, you coulda been so cool. Look at your cover art, the reason I blind bought you in the first place. I was so attracted to you. I still am. You've got that 80's thing down, complete with the hottest mulletted rock band to ever play inside a drive in's concession stand. You've got a crazy funeral, zombies, Paul Bartel as a stuffy Literature professor, demonic possession, a costumed masquerade, sorority babes in a hot tub. You seemingly have it all. Then why, why oh why, do you fail me repeatedly? I think you do it on purpose.

I think it's because you try to be too many things - you wind up disjointed without focus. You begin on a false note, then another one, then another one, never fully committing to any one beginning. I'm was like, when are you actually going to begin? And what are you? Half the time I don't even know! Are you a slasher? Are you a comedy? Are you a demonic possession movie? Are you a haunted house movie? What the heck are you? You are effectively voyeuristic in places and you do have sorority girls paddling each other with intimations of lesbianism and ominous sounding music, but that's not enough. I need more, I'm older now. I've got to move on. I've got to think of myself.

Oh, I know, it wasn't always bad. Remember that time when you depicted April Fool's Day as kinda the next Halloween? That's what I love about you, Killer Party, the way you can take a lame pseudo-holiday like April Fool's and make it awesome. I think April Fool's should be the next Halloween, like a half-way to Halloween celebration or something. Remember that time you had sorority pledge Vivia pretend to decapitate herself with a rigged guillotine fooling everyone and then geeky Martin made out with the fake severed head? Good times! Remember when Jennifer turns into the demon and swings from the chandelier? Why can't it always be like that? I guess we'll always have guillotines, demons swinging from chandeliers, and geeks making out with plastic heads. I'll always remember the good times. Always. But I need more.

I know, I don't want this either, but your gratuitous use of a guy in a scuba suit ala Scooby Doo really was the final straw. This also coulda been so cool, but your lack of enthusiasm proves even a guy in an antique scuba suit can't save our relationship. I know it doesn't pay to be popular and you probably shouldn't pledge a sorority anyway and your message there is quite clear. But I just can't take it any more. I know this is gonna hurt when I say this, but I can't help it - I would rather just go back to Hell Night or Black Christmas, I know they hurt me in the past too, especially when Black Christmas got itself remade, but seriously, they are much better sorority movies than you'll ever be, Killer Party. I'm sorry. In time, you'll see this was the right decision. I never meant to hurt you. But know, please know, that it was you, not me.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Living Dead Girl

Perhaps Jean Rollin's most commercial (?), accessible (?), well-known (?) film, 1982's The Living Dead Girl, is a gory combination of vampirism, lesbianism, and zombie-ism. While pre-dating Dan O'Bannon's punk zombie epic, Return of the Living Dead, perhaps Mr. O'Bannon culled a bit from this when writing his opus. Christian and I both couldn't help but be like, damn, this seems like Return of the Living Dead, although Christian got Part I and II confused. Quick to always be right, as is my way, I corrected him thusly. EEEEEnnnnyway....what we have here is a slow moving, kinda boring and annoying, bloody, tragedy on a grand scale. Yes, something can be boring and grand at the same time, if you're Jean Rollin.
The Living Dead Girl (try to say this title without lapsing into the Rob Zombie song of the same title, although since most of Zombie's songs all sound the freakin' same, I'll find myself starting out humming Living Dead Girl but wind up humming Dragula) begins with three dudes dumping some toxic waste in a cemetery vault. They know of a corpse or two buried there and decide to do a little grave robbing on the side. Leaving one guy out by the van, two descend into the vault, put the chemicals in a corner and spy two coffins. They each grab one and get to work. One coffin holds the remains of Catherine Valmont, a young blond who died only two years ago, the other houses the remains of her mother, dead some time now. The bodies are quite remarkably preserved, which Christian noted could be due to budget constraints involving procuring believable looking fake corpses. Just use real people!
An earthquake and some bats disrupt the chemical barrels resulting in Catherine's reanimation, chemical burns to one grave robbers face, and Catherine's subsequent eye gouging of the other guy and fingernails to the throat of the one outside by the van. Then cut to an American couple, Barbara and Greg, well, Barbara has a bit of an accent, but they both speak English, Greg is undoubtedly American as they refer to his American-ness throughout, who are on holiday in the village where Catherine has been reanimated. They try to eat at their inn but when told the earthquake upset things and they'll have to wait, they go to a field where Greg draws some stuff and encourages Barbara to take up photography. They have a bit of spat and Barbara wanders off and runs into Catherine wandering the field barefoot and in white and takes her picture.
Catherine then wanders back to her childhood castle, in a ramshackle state, but elaborately furnished inside, where a real estate agent is showing the house to another American couple. They narrowly miss each other and the couple leaves to take some time to think about purchasing the home. Meanwhile, the real estate agent gets a phone call from her lov-ah and leaves to engage in sexy times. Catherine continues wandering about and has some bittersweet flashbacks of when she was a child and she and her best friend Helene would romp throughout the castle playing with a music box. The two young girls become blood sisters and tell each other, oh, I love you, oh, I'll never leave you, then play with the music box some more. You would think that living in a castle and all, Catherine could afford more interesting playthings. I'm sure the music box is a symbol of a young girl's innocence captured or memories held onto because remember, tragedy of epic proportions, ya'll.
Cut to Helene, the young friend of Catherine, now all grown up. She's kinda hot in an eighties way but has really big hands, and she randomly decides to call the castle. Catherine answers, but having been mute up until this point, just plays the music box music for Helene, which causes her to make quick passage to the castle. While she's on her way, the real estate agent brings her boy toy back to the castle for some more of the el sexo. They waste no time and quickly get down to it, when Catherine begins playing the piano creepily so lover man goes off to investigate. One quick crunching sound later and his throat's ripped out. He gives the real estate agent a blood facial when Catherine comes in and rips her throat out as well, and dines upon their blood. Real estate lady runs outside and expires on the steps. Helene drives up and this point, doesn't seem at all disturbed by the dead girl on the steps, and proceeds inside to find dude dead in the floor and Catherine dead yet playing the piano. Helene is more incredulous at Catherine's being alive than the dead bodies and there are some intimations of lesbianism here. Let it be said that intimations of lesbianism is all you will receive as far as lesbianism goes here. Helene gives Catherine a sponge bath in the moonlight, puts her to bed, and puts the dead bodies in the vault.
Catherine basically figures out that she has an insatiable bloodlust that she may or may not really enjoy. She seems to like drinking the blood while she's doing it, especially if she's feeding off Helene's wrist (Helene is in no danger, seemingly from Catherine killing her), but that may be in that it only eases the pain of being dead, the fact that she must consciously kill likely bothers her a bit. Helene, realizing Catherine cannot be fed on her blood or the blood of dead doves alone, takes on the role of familiar and lackey, providing Catherine with fresh, mostly female, victims. Helene is a natural in this role, we know nothing of her previous life, although by her business suits and professional apartment interior we see when we first meet her, she's likely a successful normal person. However, once back in the arms of Catherine, she becomes just as bloodthirsty and ruthless, stopping at little to procure victims for Catherine. Yet, upon pushing one lovely lady down into the vaults to sate Catherine, Helene has a hard time hearing the actual screams that accompany the feeding. At one point, dissatisfied with herself as an undead blood drinker, Catherine swears off blood, only to have Helene bring home another girl and slice her herself to entice Catherine. Catherine sets the girl free and tells her to expose the secret of the vampire living in the castle to the village and goes off to the inevitable - she feeds on Helene in the grossest, goriest vampire feeding I've seen in a long time.
There's another whole deal concerning Barbara and Greg and their subsequent ends, but I'll let you discover those death scenes on your own. They're pretty funny, do nothing to satisfy Catherine, which is the point of most of the killing in the movies, and say a lot about what sort of woman Helene has become over the course of having to deal with Catherine's vampirism.
Get over the weird pace, plot holes, lack of softcore lesbian sex, and no real rules for vampirism or zombie-ism, and what you have is a melancholy, almost Shakespearean portrayal, of a dead girl's attempt at making sense of her floundering station in un-life. Catherine and Helene are beautiful and their love for each other seems genuine. Sorry, if I walked in and my BFF was nakey, covered in blood, and playing the piano having just murdered two unsuspecting lovers to drink their blood, my first reaction would not be to give her a moonlight sponge bath. My second reaction would also not be to lure unsuspecting victims to the burial vault underneath my chateau for my BFF to feed upon. I just don't have a connection like that with anyone, which is likely my problem.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Werewolves on Wheels

Unofficial biker movie with a supernatural element continues this week here at the Cavalcade with 1971's Werewolves on Wheels. This is one of those that I bought a hundred years ago when it was given a DVD release and I never watched it until now, because it fits in perfectly with Blood Freak and Psychomania, at least to me. I was waiting for the right moment. I was also questioning all these years, hmmm....I wonder how the werewolves get on wheels. If you were wondering the same thing, allow me to tell you. 

The Devil's Advocates are a mean, nasty, dirty, tarot card reading (I'm serious) biker gang lost in the desert of maybe Arizona. I watched this last night after being hungover all day long, like brutally so, and having to wait on tables for ten hours, so if sometimes details appear to missing, perhaps they were or perhaps I missed something. Hard to determine. They are basically roaming around the desert looking for places to crash and do drugs and have sex. Adam is the leader and Helen is his old lady. Helen asks Tarot (the card reader, obviously, but the bikers pronounce his name Ter-oh) to read her cards and tell her how she's gonna die. Tarot is one to discriminate, 'I don't like readin' 'em for chicks, anyhow' but complies at Adam's insistence. It turns out that Helen will die atop a tower struck by lightning. She's cool with this and they get back on their bikes in search of another party spot. 

They come to a grassy, hilly area and roll down a hill, after disembarking from their bikes. Adam invokes the devil by yelling, 'Hey Lucifer' and then tells his group that they're there to snort cocaine and drop LSD with the devil. Sounds fun. I wonder if they'll share their drugs with the devil or if the devil brings his own drugs when he parties with bikers. Then they're all chilling around a fountain when some monks show up bearing bread and wine. Everyone's all like 'Gimme some bread' and 'Pass me the wine' and no one thinks any of this is weird at all. Then the main monk dude takes a strand of Helen's hair and puts it into his star shaped belt buckle, says some goofy shit, and everyone passes out from the (drugged) wine. 

Cut to inside a temple. The main monk (his name is One) is sacrificing a cat (which I don't like, it's clearly fake, but still, can't stand it) in the name of the devil. In other words, he's callin' up Lucifer proper. Unlike Adam's crude shouts of Hey Lucifer, this monk guy knows how it's done. He says some incantations, spreads the cat blood around, mumbles some stuff in another language and chants a bit. Then Helen awakens from the group and joins the monks in the temple where she does a nakey dance with a live snake and human skull. She eats some bread with some cat blood on it and everyone chants 'You are one with him' until Adam and crew come in and fuck up all the bikers and carry Helen to 'safety.' Oh, and the penis made of wax in which Helen's image was carved melts in a fire, causing her much duress

They ride out of there and proceed on to the next night when Helen does a really weird dance and freaks out again. Adam chases her off into the night and they make out and she bites him on the neck. Meanwhile, Mouse (one of the bikers) is in pursuit of Shirley (the resident biker slut). As he chases her, she intones, 'Why don't you rape meeeee! hehehe!' Fully prepared to do so, Mouse doesn't get the chance because by now, Adam is full on wolf man and rips Mouse and Shirley to shreds. The next morning, Adam is seemingly unaware of the fate that has befallen him, the gang discover the bodies of Mouse and Shirley. They decide to bury them and give them an impromptu funeral. Shirley's eulogy is a single sentence befitting of the woman; they remark 'She was a great freak, man.' Truer words never spoken and I'm sure Shirley would have been proud. 

Next party, in a junkyard. Adam decides someone needs to stay watch overnight because of Shirley and Mouse's deaths. They set the cars in the junkyard on fire and Movie (another gang member) takes his watch. Tarot warns everyone that evil is afoot but Adam just offers him a shotgun of weed and then tells him, 'Remember Florida? Just like a couple of teddy bears rollin' down the mountain' as he grabs Tarot and pushes him down an embankment. Movie gets killed by Adam after his transformation and then some of the other gang members turn into wolf men and some of them don't make it. I was getting pretty sleepy right towards the end so I was kinda in and out. 

So I think there was only one instance of a werewolf actually being on wheels and I think he actually explodes too, I might have to go back and watch the final act. Also, interesting to note, as I said before, Adam and the subsequent other werewolves aren't werewolves, they're wolf man, and pretty sweet looking ones at that. Kind of a mash up between a Paul Naschy wolf man and a traditional Universal wolf man but in biker garb. Also, the bikers are effective bikers. While Adam and Tarot share most of the dialogue, the others just sort of shout observations or requests at certain times - 'gimme wine,' 'anyone want an upper,' 'what a scary night' and so on. We never get to really know any of them.  

The women in the group mainly Helen and Shirley, plus two other young ladies, don't ride on the back of the bikes with the guys, or have their own bikes (like in Psychomania), they follow behind the guys in a rickety old pickup. With the exception of Helen, who is clearly Adam's woman, the others are simply there to be used by the men whenever the men see fit. They seem happy with their station as biker babes, and we never really get to know them either. You could look at it as Helen being the cause of all their troubles, since she was the one chosen to the be the Bride of the Devil, but then again, it was Adam that led them the monk's sanctuary in the first place. 

So I learned a few things, because all biker movies are educational in nature, and a few things were reinforced for me by watching this movie. Bikers are mean, knew that. Bikers drink beer, ok, cool. Bikers treat women like shit, yep, check. Bikers read tarot cards, ah, that's news. Bikers turn into werewolves after visiting druid temples and invoking the spirit of the devil to snort coke with them, yeah, didn't know this one before, but cool, now I do. Now I want to start a motorcycle gang where we all dress up like werewolves and ride around. Because there wasn't much of them riding around as werewolves, which was promised by the title and cover art. Minor disappointment, though, because this was a grainy, nasty, fun little time. I like my biker flicks with equal parts biker action and supernatural Satanic rituals. Werewolves on Wheels brings it.  

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Blood Freak

I love a mesmerist to tell me what a movie is going to be about before it starts, hence, I love Criswell. Blood Freak has it's own version of Criswell to tell us such profundities as 'we live in a world of constant change' and 'catalysts spur our emotions.' Well, he'd be the version of Criswell that wears a shiny opened shirt, chain smokes, and basically looks like the seedy, sweaty owner of a strip club where you can get a handjob in the back room, and the back room is panelled in that terrible wood grain wallpaper. Blood Freak's got that guy. And he'll be popping up periodically to inform us on the human condition as the film progresses.
After we meet seedy Criswell, me meet Herschell (his name is Herschell AND the movie is set in Florida....coincidence? I think NOT!), a hulking man with chops and a motorcycle fresh from a tour in Vietnam, in other words, the filmmaker (the guy playing Herschell, coincidentally) wants you to think he's sex-ay. Apparently Angel, a bible thumping Christian, and her sister Anne, the antithesis of Angel, a pot-smoking party girl, think Herschell is da bomb. Angel meets Herschell on the highway when her car breaks down and she take's him back to Anne's house for a party, even though the 'drug scene' isn't her thing. They have a bible study in the back room, while Anne and her friends partake of marijuana, heroin, and coke underneath a velvet painting of some tigers and a portrait of a pope. Anne and Angel wear some of the most revealing outfits ever; I don't think Angel's shorts could get any shorter, and she's the church-goer! Oh, the seventies.
It seems like Herschell is falling for Angel and it makes Anne crazy. She wants to fuck him so bad, she introduces him to marijuana. He initially denounces pot, but after she calls him a coward and dumbass, he tokes up. I'm a little disappointed in Hersh here - he should have stuck to his guns and stayed sober. And I'm a little disappointed in Anne too - she's pretty attractive, she could likely have any guy at least fuck her - why share your drugs with someone who doesn't want you? Lame all the way around.
Oh, there's 'Criswell' again, putting in his two-cents. Right as Herschell and Anne are about to get down to sexy times, Cris pops up and talks about our destinies and the nature and interpretations of the characters.
Then's it's off to the poultry ranch where Herschell has procured employment. He's got his pompadour up and his Elvis sunglasses on and he's ready to get down to business, which includes a montage of day-to-day chicken and turkey wrangling and egg collecting, as well as eating an entirely genetically modified turkey to see what the side effects on humans are. Hey, two guys in lab coats asked him to scientific stuff, so for the good of science, and the promise of some dank bud, he agrees. See how quickly marijuana can mess you up, kids?
So the inevitable happens, Hersch becomes a slavery man-turkey - the body of a man with the giant papier mache head of a turkey. But he's still partly human, because he goes to Anne so she can assess the situation, which she does badly, 'what will the children look like' and 'what will the children think of their father,' but he gobbles a few times, turns out the lights, and it's all 'oh, Herschell' bow chicka wow wow. Gross.
Then cue the murderous rampage. Turkey time! Seems Herschell can only survive on the blood of drug users, so he finds them around South Florida in cars shooting up and grabs them and hangs them upside down and pecks their necks, gathers the blood in his cupped palms, and slurps it up through the beak. Yeah, the blood freaking as I like to call it.
I won't divulge the ending, you have to see this 'turkey' yourself to believe it but I will say this. I haven't seen such an anti-drug flick since Henelotter's Brain Damage. Blood Freak clearly has this agenda to it. See what happened to Herschell? Drugs lowered his resistance so he engaged in unsafe behavior and got fucked, and by getting fucked, he literally turned into a monster. You do drugs, you don't read your Bible, you don't take care of yourself and you consort with loose women, you'll wind up just like Herschell. Slimy Criswell tells us we must turn to God to solve our problems. In case you missed it - drugs are bad! And Cris tells us this while he's coughing on a cig. Good stuff here, ya'll. Good exploitative stuff. Lots of drug use with a gritty realness to it, sex, bad acting, even worse fashion, and outlandishness. Sorry to cut it short, I could go on for hours, but I gotta get out of the office because the cats are about to eat Christian - they're outta chow! Attack of the Living Cats is about to go down at my house.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Motorcycle gang? Check. Anti-establishment sentiment? Check. Groovy seventies soundtrack that is in parts ridiculous? Check. Satanistic frog worshipping cult? Check. Yes, Britain's 1973 biker gang flick, Psychomania, has it all. It's essentially your basic run of the mill tale about a motorcycle gang leader, Tom, his love for his girlfriend, Abby, and his desire to kill himself by the methods made available to him by his evil frog-worshipping butler, Shadwell, in order to return from the dead immortal to overthrow government institutions.

We meet Tom and his gang, The Living Dead, from the opening credits. They ride their bikes in slow-motion around a stone garden, then murder a guy on the highway. Then Tom and Abby are making out when he spies a frog and becomes uninterested in the prospect of love-making. He then expresses his desire of suicide but Abby says she can't tonite, because she promised her mum she'd accompany her on a shopping trip the following morning. Non-plussed, Tom takes the frog back to his mum's groovy pad and waltzes with her, but not before putting the frog in an elaborate looking stump like enclosure in the living room. Tom and his mother argue over Tom's dead father and butler Shadwell decides Tom is ready to enter THE ROOM. He gives Tom a super special frog necklace and Tom goes into the room and has a freak out staring into a large mirror. A giant frog appears on the mirror and then Tom has a vision. He puts on some Buddy Holly glasses, magical ones, natch, and some cacophonous music plays and Tom passes out. He's ready to kill himself, for reals this time, because, apparently you have to believe you'll really come back once you're dead. If you believe, no problems. If you don't, you won't come back.

The next day, during a usual outing of the Living Dead, Tom takes a dive off a bridge. They all get weepy and decide to bury him the way he would have wanted, which is seated on top of his bike, in full Living Dead gang regalia, not in a coffin or anything. Then one of the gang sings a funeral song about how great and famous Tom was and Jane, another member of the Living Dead, states she's taking over as leader. He then busts out of the grave the following day and goes on a killing spree. He kills a gas station attendant and then goes to a bar, takes in a pint, and slaughters everyone there. Couldn't he have killed people why he was alive, though? He did and had no qualms about it then. I started to wonder at this point, why kill himself if he could still kill people while he was alive. I guess it's for the whole invincibility and immortality thing, yeah that.

Then Tom convinces everyone else in the Living Dead to kill themselves so they can be this great unstoppable motorcycle gang force to be reckoned with. The idea sounds like a good one to them and seem to really revel in their new-found deadness. After some havoc wreaking, the gang decide their ultimate goal will be overthrowing government, starting with the local police. Then Tom gets drunk on his own power, and threatens Abby to either join them in death or die forever but then Tom's mom gets wind of his evil plan and has Shadwell turn her into a frog for all eternity, thus turning Tom and the rest of the gang to ashes.

The film does a great job of depicting the deviant ways of the 70's motorcycle gang - they run amok in the town, riding their bikes through busy thoroughfares, chasing down babies in carriages and tipping over guys on ladders, they ride up next to trucks and slit their tires, they even ride through brick walls and supermarkets. It's fun to watch at times, even if it's cartoonish in it's portrayal, and the high speed chase stuff always makes me a little tense. I'm a sucker for a high speed chase. I also think it succeeds in how the women are equals with the men as members of the Living Dead. My expectation upon first popping in the DVD knowing I was dealing with a motorcycle gang movie was that women were likely to not be in the gang as members but as the property of the males. Not so here - Abby and Jane are as much members of the Living Dead as Hatchet and Chopped Meat (yes, the guys have cooler names, but so what), Jane even going as far as to assume leadership after Tom's supposed death, and no one challenges her. When Jane joins Tom in death, they have a great chemistry together, and seem to really enjoy their shenanigans together.

Where it doesn't succeed is the chemistry between Tom and Abby is non-existent. Yes, Tom wants Abby to join him but he has a perfectly more suitable companion in Jane. When Abby and Tom kiss or express feelings for one another, it falls completely flat, partly because Abby seems like such a wet noodle. Abby's the one that doesn't share the same pre-punk mindset of overthrowing the establishment. She's the one that doesn't want to be dead and even goes as far at one point to pretend like she's dead to thwart Tom and the other's evil plan. In addition, I could have used more frog cult stuff too, it's by far the most entertaining and hilarious plot point in the film and at times, we sometimes forget it's the foundation of the story because the filmmakers let it go on for scene after scene with no mention of the frog cult. Then all of a sudden, you'll get some frog cult, which is not enough, thank you. It's my complaint about most movies. More frog cult!
So the moral of the story? Don't be anti-establishment. Mind your mother and do your homework and be good little boys and girls and don't join a motorcycle gang. And be careful of what cosmic frog cult you mess with.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

In the Folds of the Flesh

Sergio Bergonzelli's In the Folds of the Flesh has to be one of the most bizarre flick, even more bizarre than my weekly dose of Tim and Eric. It opens with the police in pursuit of Ron Jeremy lookalike, Pascal, an escaped convict. They chase Pascal to Lucille's, a Barbara Steele lookalike's, house, more of a villa really, where he sees Lucille burying a body wrapped in a carpet. The police gain access to Lucille's villa and capture Pascal. Cut to swirling colors and an ominous quote from Freud and the opening credits.

Cut back to the villa, only it's thirteen years later. Cousin Michele has arrived and he's pretty excited. We meet Lucille again, as well as the girl she is supposed to be governess too, Falesse, even though Falesse seems at least fifteen years too old for her role, and Lucille's son, Colin upon Michele's arrival. Falesse shows Michele some human skulls and Colin goes outside to feed the pet vultures. Then Michele's German Shepard digs up another skull and Colin kills the dog for being so nosy. It's an all too real scene of animal cruelty and one I did not enjoy. I HATE animal cruelty in movies, absolutely hate it. Luckily, it doesn't last too long.

Back inside, after some shameless flirting on Michele's part, Falesse takes out a dagger and stabs him. She seems to go into a psychotic trance or something, her eyes glaze over because she's apparently remembering another killing - and her memories come to her sort in a sort kaleidoscopic form and Colin comes in and drags Michele's body away. Just another day at the office for Colin. Then Alex, a friend of Michele's arrives, while Colin and Lucille do laundry. And by do laundry, I mean, they dissolve Michele's body in a vat of acid. Alex shamelessly flirts with Falesse as well. He tells her, "I'm no amateur, I've got technique, you'll find out." Then they all sit down to a meal wearing some pretty awesome outfits. They quote Freud, play guitar, and eat chicken, apparently a sign of virility, according to Colin. They they listen to a recording and Colina and Falesse dance and start making out while Alex laughs feverishly and cheers them on. Lucille breaks this party up and Falesse and Alex retire upstairs for some heavy petting. He takes her wig off and she freaks, something about only daddy can touch her hair and she cuts his head off with a sword. Then she clumsily puts her wig back on, has some more kaleidoscopic memories that intone a sexual relationship between Falesse and daddy and Lucille comes in to remove the body. Anyone sensing a pattern?

Then there's a scene at a mental hospital where some girls in mod outfits play with dolls and sing to themselves and suddenly we're back at the villa and Falesse is describing her crippling loneliness. Then Pascal shows up again to blackmail Lucille into giving him money or else he'll report the killing from thirteen years ago. Pascal wants them to dig up the bones of the body but they dig up Michele's dog instead and throw the corpse at him. He freaks and shoots their pet vulture. You would think then that it would be clobberin' time, but Colin and Pascal end up wrestling for way too long and the Pascal takes the upper hand. It's weird, because the family should get the upper hand because they've so owned that position before. They easily dispatch Michele and Alex and seem to enjoy doing so. I guess Pascal is blackmailing them, but shit, with all the swords and daggers they have lying around for stabbings and beheadings, you would think they would use them. But that would starve us of the unusual killing to come.

So Pascal ties them all up and treats Colin to a 'passion play' which is essentially the fondling of naked Falesse and then he makes Colin shine his shoes while promising an encore performance of the 'passion play.' He then orders Lucille to fix him a souffle and they go outside. Then Lucille has a flashback to her days as a Nazi concentration camp prisoner where she watched as her mother and sister were gassed. The Nazi's rape and torture her, but not before she learned how to kill someone with cyanide, which is the way they plan to kill Pascal, which they do, with excellent results. In fact, it's one of the most inventive kills I've ever seen. They place the cyanide tablets on a Coo-coo clock and when the hour strikes, the tablets fall into Pascal's bath tub. Instant death and reason to wear a vintage gas mask. Falesse comes in and freak because apparently she had fallen in love with Pascal (!?!) and then she makes Colin her slave and they make out under the disapproving eyes of Lucille.

Incest, pop psychology, severed human heads, fabulous seventies fashion, pet vultures, Italian villas, and Nazi sex torture are just a few of my favorite things covered herein. But then it gets weird (I know! It gets weirder! Too much so for me to account for here.) and all plot twisty. And while seventies Italian cinema isn't known for it's linear narrative storytelling, this has so many freakin' plot twists, flashbacks, psychotic episodes and reveals by the third act to keep anyone entertained. Strange, weird, and at times, wonderful (watch it just for the fashion and makeup alone), don't expect a gialli or anything close. It has none of those trappings. This one is in a genre by itself but appeals to the vintage sleaze fan in me. Yay! Vintage sleaze!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Savage Steel: Begins With a Nightmare

Check this sweet cassette cover art I found on ebay randomly. Never heard of Savage Steel but if I had an extra 9.99, I would sooooo drop it on this tape. Little about the band could be gleaned from the auction listing, but perhaps it's a reference to a character from the Marvel universe? Who knows. This cover is freakin' awesome. Tracks include 1. Hit it from the Rear, 2. The Betrayal (into) Chambers of Darkness, 3. On the Atack (sic), 4. Night Prowler, 5. Streets of Indecision (this is probably the ballad), 6. A Night on the Horizon, and 7. Switchblade Man.
A quick search on Amazon revealed the original release date for this title was January 2, 1991 on New Renaissance Records. The album is also available for download from Amazon. This artwork reminds me of this Ozzy tape my dad had back in the day, it was for Bark at the Moon (not that that art looks remotely anything like this art, but I will make a point here in a sec), and I think it was the first ever METAL artwork I had ever seen. True to my obsessive nature, I would go in the stereo cabinet and stare at that cassette tape's cover art for hours, but was always too afraid to play it. Like with horror vhs tape box art, as a young thing I was often scared, but intrisicly drawn to, heavy metal cover art. I don't know why my dad had that Ozzy tape, as far as I know he wasn't a fan, he tended to lean towards the Journeys and the Framptons of the rock world. I should ask him, and being one to never really get rid of anything, I bet he still has it.
Anybody familiar with Savage Steel? Were they, like, your favorite band back in the early nineties? Did your cousin play with them or know someone who did? I'd do some research but I'm lazy.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Women's Prison Massacre

Did you ever want to see Laura Gemser get into a rotten vegetable fight with female prisoners while dressed as an Indian stereotype after delivering a performance art piece? Then Bruno Mattei's Women's Prison Massacre just might be the movie for you. Or did you ever want to see 'head' inmate, Albina, a Courtney Love look-alike with an even worse dye job, hurl insults to other women in the vein of 'I'd like to bite your nipples off!' A natural progression to a comment such as this leads the viewer to anticipate nothing less than an arm wrestling competition and then, of course, lesbian erotica in the prison showers. But as usual, I'm getting ahead of myself. 

Mattei's gritty, fetishistic take on the women's prison subgenre would be my movie if I liked my movies to progress in the following order: rotten vegetable fight during a theatrical performance, arm wrestling, lesbian erotica, cruelty against women perpetrated by women, and forced bouts of Russian roulette. Unfortunately, I don't like my movies like this at all. I know I don't normally deliver the 'as a woman' speech, but I might have to go this route with this one. Woman's Prison Massacre is essentially the story of some ladies locked up, Laura Gemser's Emanuelle character being one of them (although this isn't a usual Emanuelle movie - she's not the focus here, but I'll touch on that in a second) and four male inmates that must be held at the women's prison for a short time while they await their fates. The men wind up overthrowing the guards and a full-on riot ensues. Picture lots of violence, lots of sexual abandon, and little regard for anything really. 

Let's talk about the violence against women first. The female guards in the prison are all sorts of tough, what you would expect from a prison environment naturally, prisons are the most hardened of places, but these ladies take their jobs one step further. They degrade Emanuelle mercilessly and you can tell by their sly smiles, and even laughter, they enjoy it. They damn near drown her in a sink, as to not leave marks on her body. Guarding these women is clearly not just a job, it's fun. Em's abused and fights more in this film than any other movie I've ever watched her in. Usually, she's the slick journalist and able to escape any kind of violence to her own person, showing up after other women have been abused to expose the (usually male) perpetrators of said violence in whatever article she's currently working on. Here, this is not the case. She's been wrongly imprisoned because she was framed by her ex-beau and since she's not the sultry reporter she normally plays, she's given license to tear off Albina's wig and fight her hardcore. It's always weird for me to watch violence perpetrated against women by women. The first time I ever remember feeling that way was when I first saw Craven's Last House on the Left who knows how many years ago, a long time, before I studied this stuff, went to college, or had any kind of context really, and thought, wow, how can Sadie let these guys do what they do to these innocent girls? She's a woman too, shouldn't she help them? I get the same gut feeling when watching the guards and female inmates fight each other. It's a weird feeling because it's not something I necessarily enjoy watching, and I know it's exploitation. But what is being exploited here isn't the females in the movies, it's the audience, primarily male, because that's who these types of movies were made for, and the filmmakers are exploiting them by playing on their fetish of watching women in prison fuck each other up and taking their money. So if I keep that in my mind while watching something like this, it's easier to deal with. 

Things take a turn for the worse when the male prisoners show up. These guys are the worst of the worst, they almost immediately overthrow the prison hierarchy and take over. They call the women sluts and whores and one especially unfortunate guard gets her neck bitten into. They lick the warden and go on a sex spree with the female inmates, who are naturally stoked to see men. But these guys are equally opportunity, and fuck up the male police officers just as badly when they show up to try to get a handle on the situation, by killing them with machine guns. It's also interesting to note that once the male inmates show up, the 'real' action gets going. It's been about 50 minutes into the movie at this point and with the exception of the one lesbian scene in the showers, which really wasn't all that risque and the introduction of a blowup doll sent to one inmate by her boyfriend on the outside 'to keep in practice' there hasn't been much sexy action. 

For instance, one of the guys gets the warden to slowly disrobe and she doesn't look as if she's in peril at all. She looks like she might actually be enjoying it. The women inmates want the men there too and brazenly display their need to have sex with these guys. Yes, they engaged in same-sex relationships prior to the men's arrival, but isn't that the whole thing about prison life? You do what you need to do for lovin'. The way the women act when the guys show up is almost a caricature of sexuality, they are freaking out and rubbing all over the place and acting like cats in heat, really - when I initially signed on to view this movie, I thought we'd be treated to lots and lots of lesbian erotica but that's not the deal here. The whole thing turns into a sex riot for a second. And not really in a good way. 

Men come off as beastly here. Like I said, I don't always play the 'as a woman' card, but here they are beasts and the ones being exploited. The women aren't particularly better either, not one character has any redeeming qualities whatsoever. It's gritty and almost too realistic to be a good time. But there are those weirdo moments that make the viewer squirm and make me keep my eyes open after three or four vodka sodas. Like the girl with the blowup doll is instructed to dance with it, which comes off surreal and fucked up and the scene goes on way too long and then the doll gets popped and she slaps the dude that instructed her to dance with the doll in the first place, and I'm guessing, he kills her. 

Mattei's got a lot of other movies in this vein to his credit as well as some starring Laura Gemser, so I'm eager to check those out and see where this one fits. As I mentioned earlier, this was a curious one for me, because I'm used to Emanuelle kinda saving the day, so to speak, and she's an active participant in the festivities here. A weird turn for the character, methinks, but this is a different director and a wholly different take as well as genre. 

I wanted to post on an Easter horror movie, but as far as I know, the only movie I've ever seen is Peter Rottentail and it's not necessarily an Easter movie, more like an evil giant el cheapo bunny suited lunatic movie, so I figured nothing said Easter Sunday like a women in prison movie. It was either this or another Easter classic like Rollin's Living Dead Girl. 

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Jackpot VHS collection - five blocks from my house! And it might be for sale!

Christian and I went to eat at this Thai place we always go to that's right by my house earlier today. When we were leaving, I said, oh, let's look into this store that's right next to it, because it looked like it had old VHS players in there, like my beloved Gigantor top loader from back in the day. The place looked kind of like a shop where old electronics go to die. Cool in and of itself, right? Even cooler is the AMAZING collection of horror VHS in there! I almost exploded! He had some big boxes like you wouldn't fucking believe - including all the Midnight Videos (Microwave Massacre has GOT to be one of my most favorite VHS boxes of all time) in pristine condition and the much sought after Torture Dungeon (!), a ton of Thriller videos, clamshells out the wazoo, I was literally about to freak out and possibly throw up. I could fill in a lot the gaps in my personal collection with the pieces from this one. So while I'm doing flipping my shit and fondling all the boxes, Christian's like, stay calm, I'll ask him if they're for sale or rent. So the guy tells him they're for rent, but he's willing to sell them for two or three dollars (!!) given that he can get replacements (which I'm not really sure what he meant, I know he's not just gonna go out and get an original big box of Make Them Die Slowly at Wal-Mart or anything, but Cannibal Holocaust is readily available on DVD, which makes it replaceable, right?). I don't know if the guy knows that these things are worth anything to collectors and that's why Christian's like, Jenn, remain calm. Stop hyperventilating - we'll leave and come back in a couple of days and play it off like, oh hey, we liked these movies when we were kids, is it cool if we buy a couple? I'm the worst at situations like this - I just want to scream and start jumping up and down like a fool and pile all the movies on the counter and give the guy a 20 and have that be it and walk outta there just like that. But then he'll know that he could put these things on ebay and make a good deal of money. I was literally buzzing when we left the store and then I had to take Christian to work and got on the highway going in the wrong direction and then I couldn't drive and had to pull over at a school. Just the thought of those movies being for sale for a very low price made me insane. 

Christian made me promise not to go back after I dropped him off at work and I didn't, even though I was tempted. We'll go back Tuesday or something and do the whole I don't know that these things are worth anything and I don't even really like horror movies or collect rare horror VHS tapes that much really either, so can I buy these routine. You know, the oldest trick in the book. It'll either work or it won't. If it does, you're likely hear I've spontaneously combusted. 

There's another spot in town with a rival (even better, really) collection - but that dude knows what that collection is worth and it is NOT for sale. He was recently profiled in a fairly well-known horror mag, so so much me acquiring any piece of that. But this seems promising! 

Viva la VHS! And long live shops like this - I love retailers that specialize in throwbacks and wind up being throwbacks themselves.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Chicken in a Hockey Mask

Good lord, I loved typing that title. I also love living in a world where there is good weirdness. I consider myself to be weird in a good fun way, and I love other instances where I find interesting weird things. For instance, as of late, the local wing restaurant has taken to having a guy in a chicken suit dancing on the sidewalk to entice customers into the establishment. I've always wondered if having a guy dressed as a sub or pizza or, in this case, a chicken, is actually an effective marketing tool. Like do people driving by just freak out when they see the chicken and want to pull over right then and there and order themselves a basket of wings? Not being a big meat eater myself, and I absolutely cannot eat wings, something about meat on the bone turns me off big time, seeing a dancing anthropomorphic chicken does not make me want to eat chicken. But that's just me. 

However, I wanted to give the chicken props yesterday. Instead of his chicken mask, he was wearing a hockey mask ala our friend Jason Vorhees but he still had on his chicken body. He was still dancing and wearing the sandwich board for the restaurant, but looked all the more menacing and strange because of said hockey mask. It was one of those moments I wish I had my camera, so I carried it around with me today hoping he would reprise his role as Chicken Vorhees. No such luck, but that camera is not leaving me bag, at least for awhile.  I would think though, that wearing such a getup would actually be an even less effective marketing tool than the standard chicken suit. And I loved it! It didn't make me want to get wings, though. So that was the highlight of yesterday, as you can see, I don't have a lot going on. But I do love shit like this. And it's sorta genre related, so what the hell. 

In other news, I just drank the last of the wine so I'm off to Food Lion. I think all the businesses in my neighborhood should adopt the dancing chicken advertising gimmick with a horror bent. Have a lion outside of the grocery store Food Lion but have him wielding a chainsaw. Have a guy outside of the pizza place, which they do already, he wears a sandwich board shaped like a guitar and he pretends to play it, in a very spirited way, but have the guitar shaped like the driller killer's in Slumber Party Massacre. Have some dude dressed up like Michael Myers in front of any establishment, really. If I had my way, my main drag will be covered in monsters advertising food products - how awesome. 

I wish I had a picture to accompany this post. I google image searched chicken in a hockey mask and came up with nada. So imaginations, run wild. Yippee - I found some vodka and I'm about to watch Caged Women, starring the lovely, but too skinny, Laura Gemser on my new HDTV. I feel like such a traitor to my old technology. I'm still gonna rock the VHS, it's my lifeblood, but I just couldn't resist a 42-inch high def flat screen for under six hundred bucks. Seventies exploitation will have never looked better, at least for me. Buenos noches! 

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Hercules in the Haunted World

The second I turned this on, I'm like, is this an episode of Mystery Science Theatre because it sure as hell should have been. It would have made this stinker that much more bearable. I don't want you to think, however, that Hercules in the Haunted World was a colossal waste of time, because it wasn't and I'll tell you why in just a sec. That being said, I'm not much of fan of sword and sandal epics, and much prefer them to feature either Miles O'Keefe or Harryhausen stop motion if I'm going to watch them at all. But given how this was directed by Mario Bava (it was the second picture he ever directed, fresh from giving the world Black Sunday) and was supposed to feature horror-esque elements, and because I swore to myself to not post another Franco review for at least a day or two, I gave this my full attention, and by full attention, I watched the first half and took meticulous notes, became bored, called Christian at work, received a delivery from UPS, ate a snack, and checked my email twice before the 'horrifying' conclusion. 

So, the basic gist is this - Hercules and his sidekick Theseus have to venture to Hades to retrieve a golden magic apple and then venture further in Hades some more to get some glowing stone which is supposed to restore Hercules' best girl, Dienara, to health. She's currently under the spell of her evil uncle, Lycos, played by Christopher Lee, who wants her blood so he can become king of all eternity or something. The highlights? Hercules and Theseus arrive at the garden of these damned women, the Hisparitics (sp?), because the magic apple is in this garden high up in a sacred tree. Wanna know how Herc gets the apple out of the tree? He picks up a giant stone, makes a catapult, and throws the stone into the tree, knocking the apple down. Simple, right? The women look on and remark, ooh, he's really strong! He's freakin' Hercules, of course he's strong! LOL's were had. 

Then, a rock monster attacks Theseus while he's napping waiting for Hercules to get the apple. Theseus takes a lot of naps, btw, kinda weird. The rock monster is THE best part of this entire thing. If the movie was even half filled with guys in rubber suits speaking in robotic voices trying to thwart Theseus and Hercules, I would have been a very happy girl. But alas, there is only one rock monster appearance, and of course, Hercules shows up at the last minute to save Theseus' hide. 

Which leads me to my next comment - there is no element of suspense in this movie whatsoever because we're dealing with Hercules - he's strong and immortal and damn near perfect in every way, so you know he's always going to show up and save the day. No one is ever in real danger because Hercules is on the case. I mean, everything he says isn't even questioned. He'll say some redonkulous shit and everyone just nods and agrees, like, oh, yeah, Hercules must know what he's talking about, he's the freakin' son of Zeus. Like once they get to Hades, Theseus starts cutting vines and the vines are bleeding and you hear some screams off in the distance. The explanation offered by Hercules? Oh, those are just the souls of the damned trapped in the vines. Huh? Theseus is all, like, yeah, sure, that sounds feasible. Every explanation is completely believable when offered by Hercules. All the rules they have to follow to get the apple, get the stone, do this, then do that, then this door will open and then this will please the gods and then this shit will happen and blah blah. So some of it get kinds convoluted. And nobody ever questions it. They just run around in their loin cloths and sword fight a little bit and swim and run and then (in another highlight) the horror ensues. The dead rise from their tombs, reeeeeeaaaalllly slowly, like seriously, it's five minutes of screen time, and then POW, they're out and flying around the room and you can totally see their strings, but of course, they're no match for Hercules. I get a little tired of how the man always succeeds at everything! I want to see him have just one epic fail. I need to read up on my mythology, I'm sure he fails once or twice sometime, he is half human, isn't he? 

Alright, I'm running outta time, got to be at work in ten minutes, so I'll say this in closing. The sets are fucking awesome, fake rocks, fog everywhere, they must've had like ten fog machines on the set, cobwebs, and silly fake fires. The lighting is excellent, lots of technicolor, and the ladies are pretty. This movie makes me want to get a fabulous up-do with gold snakes entwined it and wear a sheet and be really dramatic. It might not be for me, but I can totally see the merits of this movie and other movies like it. I could have used more erotica though. Or any erotica at all, really. Mmmm, erotica. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Venus in Furs

"Time is like the ocean, you can't hold onto it," so muses the prophetic Jimmy, a jazz trumpeter searching for his buried horn on the shores of the Black Sea in Istanbul. Who knows why he's buried his instrument in the sand, he's freaking out, and then he find the horn and starts playing. Then he runs in slo-mo to a body that has washed up on the sand. She's blond, she's deader than a doornail, she's naked, and she's a hottie. So begins Jess Franco's Venus in Furs. 

Some have said, or at least for some reason I remember someone at sometime saying something about this movie, I know, I'm so specific, that Venus in Furs is Jess Franco's most accessible work. I'll give it that - it's a bit easier to follow, is less violent, and less sexually gratuitous than the titles by Franco I've been exposed to as of late. But that doesn't make it any better. I've also heard that if you give Franco some time and you have some patience, his movies will start paying off. I'm getting there. 

So we meet Jimmy in the opening sequence where he finds the dead cutie. Then Franco throws us a bone and allows us to go back and see how it is Jimmy knows her and the events that unfold from there. It seems Jimmy is a musician for these hot jetset parties that take place all the time in Istanbul. Well, it's at one of these parties that he witnesses Ahmed, a millionaire playboy played by Klaus Kinski, Capp, a perverted old art dealer, and Olga, a young and up and coming fashion photographer sexually abuse and eat the flesh of Wanda, the dead woman that Jimmy finds washed up on the beach. He has some scruples about witnessing this wild and crazy scene but decides it's not really worth it to have such scruples, because if that's their 'bag' (his word), so be it. I mean, everybody's fucked up in the end, right? 

So after Jimmy sees this and finds Wanda washed up on the beach, he freaks out again and flees for Rio, because there's nothing like Rio during Carnivale to allow someone some peace and quiet. Here we meet Rita, Jimmy's main squeeze in Rio, who is by far, the laziest lounge singer I have ever seen. Instead of standing up while performing, she rolls around on the club floor. But she's good for Jimmy, he's at a standstill with is trumpet playing and she encourages him to play again. Jimmy feels happy for a hot sec with Rita, she apparently listens to all his grumbling about the past and he does get his career going again at her urging, until.....

One night, he's up on stage playing his trumpet and Wanda walks into the bar! There's some dreamy wonky camera action and Jimmy follows Wanda. I must mention here that the interiors and exteriors are superb. Everything is red and purple and the lighting is exquisite. I loved watching this for this aspect alone. Also, there isn't much dialogue up until this point. We've had to rely on Jimmy's narration, which is almost noir-ish - think a dame walked in with legs up to there, blah blah. He's blatant, but it works. Anyway, back to the action...

Jimmy realizes this is the same chick he fished out of the ocean back in Istanbul. He knows she's dead, and delivers the following profound line, "How can you run from a dead person unless you're dead yourself." Truer words never spoken. So he follows Wanda, like I said, and she urges him to go away, but her eyes are totally giving him that come hither, and they end up in the sack together. The first time they do it there are these totally creepy paintings holding court in the room and the camera keeps zooming in on them. Think cherubs and weird Victorian looking children all smiles but with some spacing in the teeth area. Totally weird and spooky. Then Jimmy goes back to his sure thing, Rita, and she gets all needy and tells him how alone she is and he, typical male that he is, assures her everything is fine. 

Okay, so far we've been getting to know Jimmy and blah blah, but what Venus in Furs really is a a revenge movie. In case you couldn't tell already for my stellar description of events (haha), Wanda is back from the dead to right the wrongs against her (read: her murder), namely to kill Ahmed, Capp, and Olga in super sexy ways. And kill them in super sexy ways she does! It's actually downright beautiful. She shows up at Capps house and dispatches him only after enticing him to suck her toes. The music is jarring, she's unbelievably seductive and while the pace is languid, the tension is build effectively. Same goes for when she offs Olga. She has Olga take nudie pics of her, then the two women make out and explore each other. Then Wanda reveals her true form to Olga, her dead form, and Olga freaks out and slits her wrists in the bathtub, but only after placing two candelabras on either side of Wanda. Oh, and this is all after Wanda molests a Venus de Milo statue while a man paints her face as Jimmy's drunken boss drops feathers from a pillow on her. 

So that leaves Ahmed, which is by far, the strangest killing in the movie. I must've missed something, maybe, who knows, but she goes to kill him, she's all dressed up in her killing outfit (the titular fur, along with panties and garters and that's pretty much it), and he tells her some story about a Sultan who was enamored with a slave girl so he gave her command of his kingdom for twenty-four hours with super sexy results. Then he's dead. Just like that. I swear for once, I was sober during the viewing of this particular death scene. 

So Wanda's dispatched her killers and there's nothing left to do but to return to Jimmy's house, because he's still sexually obsessed with her. Then the cops show up in response to Ahmed's murder and Jimmy and Wanda run from them in this really fabulous red convertible. Wanda's makeup is impeccable, as it has been throughout the movie, all eyeliner cattails and blues and purples and whites. I wish my makeup looked half as good on a daily basis as Wanda's does. It's totally the look I emulate.  And Wanda does the inevitable, she returns to her grave. That's not the ending though, I'll leave that 'shocker' for you to discover yourselves.  

I must say, I totally enjoyed Venus in Furs, not only for the great retro makeup, fashion, interiors, and music, but because Wanda really plays the hell outta Jimmy. She totally uses him and he totally lets her. He's duped by a dead girl! And the way she kills everybody, she just owns it! She's totally expressionless, she has a job to do, and she kinda smiles wryly after the victim gets what they deserve. And she uses her sexuality to get what she wants. Yes, it's Wanda that suffers in the beginning but really asserts herself as a female throughout the rest of the film. Although, there is a weird character regression when Jimmy first catches her making out with Olga. He's pissed and he yells at her about it (funny, I always thought guys liked seeing their girl make out with another hot female) and she apologizes and starts crying and runs off. Perhaps that's just more of her ruse, keep him guessing, so she can perpetuate what she need to perpetuate. Like I mentioned, it's not as sexually explicit as some of Franco's other work, but what it lacks in sex, it makes up for in atmosphere. Recommended viewing, especially for new Franco-philes, such as myself. 

And in unrelated news, I answered the phone at work the other night, and this lady was like, I want to make a reservation. I'm like, ok, how many people? Ok, and the name, and her name was totally Milligan. She spelled it for me and everything. And of course, I couldn't stop thinking about Andy. Unrelated but I had to get it out there.