Thanks, Bruce, for the pic.
Monday, November 30, 2009
Friday, November 27, 2009
Stop me (don't really) if you've heard something incarnation like this before - three hotties (a blond, a brunette, and a much younger in relation to her two hottie friends naive chick) set out out on a road trip to a music festival. Something goes wrong in the middle of nowhere, car ends up wrecked, and the trio find themselves under the care of a family that seems, uh, not quite right. Shit hits the fan and everyone starts winding up dead at the end of pickaxe. Pedestrian, I know. Boring, probably. But UNHINGED (1980) does it just a little bit better and it has enough scenery chewing, weird dialogue, and a you-might-be-able-to-figure-it-out twist ending, to keep me laughing and singing it's praises at least for the length of this blog post.
I swear, this movie has Cavalcade written all over it. From the late seventies/early eighties? Check. Hottie protagonists? Check and check. Eschewing men and sex to the point of psychosis? Double check. Cross dressing and androgyny? Yep. A retarded sibling that 'wouldn't harm a fly'? Oh yeah. Lots of peeping/heavy breathing while girls take showers together? Got that too. Blood and guts? A little (there's only three girls to kill and it's gotta take up a running time of 1:20).
Incorporate all these elements, add a bit of a Norman Bates type of antagonist with just as domineering a mommy, toss with a little bit of overt psychosexual subtext, set the whole damn thing in a crumbling mansion, and give the actors the same lines to say over and over when explaining stuff that's already been explained, and there ya go! Cinema perfection, at least as far as I'm concerned!
What else do you really need to know? It's only an hour or so long, so it's not gonna totally take that much of an investment of your precious time but it does suffer from long periods of talking, so if you're a complete 80's gorehound, carry your ass somewhere else. But for my money (actually I didn't pay anything for this since Bruce gave me the copy), I'll invest my time watching an aging matriarch in a wheelchair lambast her daughter for being a complete slut in front of company and then menacingly attack the salt and pepper shakers. That, my dears, is my idea of entertainment.
Here, have a picture of the after-effects of the excesses of Thanksgiving. Bruce and Tuna relax on the couch drinking spiked iced tea while watching Naschy do his thing in WWvVW.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
So yeah, pretty much been drunk off my ass for the last two or three days. And now for some reason, I'm awake at like seven in the morning for no particular reason. Whatever. Happy Thanksgiving from Moochie and me and the rest of the cats! Get stupid today - drink tons of wine and eat so much you can't stand it and then pass out watching horror movies on the couch. Have a fairly typical Jenn day, really. And enjoy it because next month when you get to do the same thing, you have to buy everyone presents.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Ah, the Nazisploitation film. An acquired taste, to be sure. I remember years ago the guy that tattoos me was telling me about the Ilsa movies while drilling ink into my skin, so I rented SHE WOLF OF THE SS thinking I would be in for a laugh. Uh, not the case. In fact, it was a little off putting. And by a little, I mean A LOT. The sheer degradation of the whole exercise led me to not really want to see another Nazisploitation film for awhile. I'm not a huge fan of the women in prison cycle of movies (and not just because I'm a WOMAN), and most Nazisploitation movies kinda follow that format.
However, Tinto Brass' SALON KITTY isn't your standard Nazisploitation flick. The movie opens at the onset of WWII, and SS officer Helmut Wallenberg (Helmut Berger) is ordered to find and train the most beautiful women in Germany to sexually service the highest ranking men and women in the Third Reich. What these female recruits (and their clients) don't know is that Wallenberg is secreting taping all the sexy times action for blackmail purposes. Pretty young prostitute Margherita (Teresa Ann Savoy) and the quintessential madam if there ever was one, Kitty (Ingrid Thulin), discover Wallenberg's plot and plan to expose him.
There are several tropes that set SK apart from it's brethren. Firstly, the women - the prostitutes - are willing participants. They're female Nazis and are selling their bodies to perpetuate the Third Reich. There's not the typical level of degradation at work here; in fact, quite the opposition, making it much easier for this viewer to sit through.
Secondly, Nazisploitation never looked so damn good. No shot is wasted - it's elegantly put together and the music isn't incongruous. Go figure. Yeah, some of the sexy stuff is kinda gritty (a lesbian bondage scene springs to mind) and some of it does seem padded in places, but damn if the costuming, large-scale sets, and deliberate maneuvers on the part of Brass don't make this one of hell of a sight to behold.
Thirdly, there are attempts at wacky humor. You don't get this so much in other movies like this. When an air raid horn goes off, it's coitus interruptus all over the place, as old SS officers in various states of undress flee the salon with their prostitutes flung over their shoulders. And seriously, what is funnier than a dick made out of bread? Little else.
Fourthly, this movie takes place in a brothel, not in a concentration camp or prison. It's a stunning brothel at that - all stained glass and pink settees and luridly made up working girls, with an exquisite nightly cabaret by Kitty herself. One particular performance even has Kitty doing her best Glen/Glenda impersonation, which totally works. That's actually how the movie opens, so it had me at Hello.
Other highlights include:
Group testing of all the women Wallenberg's men bring in for sexy purposes. What erupts is a veritable orgy that seems more art house that grindhouse and looks almost choreographed, complete with live orchestra and light acrobatics all caught on camera, in that someone is filming the whole shebang.
Then comes the sex test - my favorite part! The women are sequestered into cells and then observed making the beast with two backs with various partners. What follows is some midget sex (she doesn't recoil in horror - APPROVED!), a forced lesbian coupling (REJECTED!), and some double amputee reverse cowgirl (you guessed it - APPROVED!). A fool proof system, but of course.
Margherita is a sexy piece. Yes, she looks waaaay too young to even be in this movie in the first place, but she owns her role as the smart-as-a-whip willing call girl in love with a defecting Nazi officer who must avenge his death.
That being said, yes, there's a love story. It is easily the most boring part of this whole thing and feels extraneous. It's the one thing that keeps the WTF factor significantly low for this slice of exploitation. While there are some interesting moments (a giant dildo - and I mean GIANT - and a gimp mask, as well as the aforementioned sex tests and bread penises), it strangely never strays too over the top. There are long stretches of love story/exposing the Nazis stuff that drags, and while Kitty and Margherita bring a very strong female presence here that isn't demeaning or degrading, I still have trouble buying that these two are going to bring down the regime from the inside. Well, not Kitty so much, she just wants her brothel back; and who can blame her, really?
Still, is SK a sexy movie? Not really. Is it interesting? Yeah, sort of. Is there a point? Probably not. Still, I had a good time drinking my pino grigio and waiting for the good times (read: the perverted stuff) to roll.
Come for the orgy, stick around for the double amputee sex, get drunk to the cabaret performances, and leave feeling pretty darn good about Nazisploitation. There's plenty to enjoy here and while not as wild as I would have liked, it still resonates.
P.S. This is based on a true story! Yeah! Well, not the love story/exposing the Nazis blah blah, but there really was a Salon Kitty back in the WWII days and there was quite a bit of controversy surrounding it. Look it up!
Friday, November 13, 2009
Wake up cats! It's time for 'Final Chapter' through 'Takes Manhattan.' And Moochie and Tuna are all like, 'no Friday the 13th marathon for us! We are sleeping and holding paws!' And then Tuna whispers to Moochie after I leave the room, 'Can you believe still she thinks we actually like horror movies! I just don't have the heart to tell her I prefer romantic comedies.' Moochie replies, 'I know! Poor, poor Mom. She doesn't understand us at all!'
Thursday, November 12, 2009
To describe Richmond tonight, I could easily begin, Twas a dark and stormy night....But you know, I'm not complaining. All the better for me to veg out in front of the TV, wine in hand (I bought a box at Target!) and catch up on my stacks upon stacks of horror movies begging for a night like this to watch them. Tonight's feature presentation is Tod Browning's THE UNKNOWN, starring the wonderful, the magical, Lon Chaney. Not that whiny wolf man guy, but his daddy ;P
Wow, what a treat! In fact, I watched it twice. This is why I do what I do, people. What is that, Jenn? Drink wine and blather on about how cute the cats are? No (*in an exasperated tone*), ya'll, this is one of those movies that reinforces my love of all things horror-ly cinematic. It's wild and crazy and melancholic and brilliantly excecuted and has lots of overt Freudian subtext. So here we go!
Alonzo the Armless (Chaney) is a guy masquerading as a sideshow attraction to avoid detection from police for a series of robberies he committed. He's taken to binding his arms and hands inside a corset and has perfected the art of smoking, drinking tea, playing guitar, and throwing knives with his feet to complete the ruse. He is in love with Nanon (a beautiful young Joan Crawford), the sideshow owner's daughter and his partner in the knife throwing show. Nanon suffers from an interesting sexual phobia in that she cannot stand the feeling of a man's hands or arms. Irony alert!
Seems Alonzo must keep his love for Nanon at a distance less she discover his abhorrent appendages and there's that nasty business about him being exposed not just as a fraudulent freak, but as a 'armed' (get it?) robber as well. However, it gets even thicker, in that Alonzo, when unbound, has a siamese thumb on his right hand, which was the only part of him Nanon glimpsed when Alonzo finally kills her father after a beatdown and his cruelty towards Nanon. Yeah, things take a turn for the convoluted, but it's not without merit. And it's wildly entertaining, as well.
So deep and pained is his love for Nanon, Alonzo bribes a doctor to remove his arms for reals, only to return to find her in the arms, literally, of the circus strongman, Malabar. Seems she's gotten over her proclivity and has been residing in the arms of Malabar for quite some time now, while here Alonzo was off getting amputated so they could be together and all. Women! A fickle sort, aren't they?
So, a menacing sort to be sure (remember he's a killer and a bank robber, but somehow you still feel sorry for him), Alonzo decides to emasculate (and by this, I mean, rip off Malabar's arms - we'll get to the sex stuff in a second - let me just get through the plot!), the strong man and almost succeeds when he tries to rig a complicated horse on a treadmill circus act. (You have to see it! It's over the top and weird and wonderful and not something I thought existed in the early 20th century circus performances. Or now, for that matter. Or ever, really.) Alonzo almost succeeds, but in a fit of remorse, finds himself under the hooves of a crazed horse instead.
In Sigmund Freud's essay 'The Uncanny' he discusses the relationship between castration complex and macabre fantasy stories. If we remember our literary criticism class in grad school, we'll remember that Freud's concept of the doppleganger (the root of all monster images) is primarily a defense mechanism. Your unconscious mind sees some sort of danger to your body (well, I'm trying to be coy), namely the genitals and creates what Freud thinks is a imagination stand-in for the threatened part. In that Alonzo has a siamese thumb and poses as a 'freak' without arms is a direct indication that Browning was familiar with Freud's work in this area. Look at Browning's FREAKS, for example. Or THE UNHOLY THREE. All these works deal with some sort of castration complex, possibly on the part of Browning. Extra limbs, arms cut off, dismemberment - they all point to a castration complex.
I know Browning was a terrible alcoholic and claimed to have gotten kicked by a horse once growing up. But I don't know what his 'trigger' is for all these castration images in his movies. Sounds like the work of someone that is not as lazy as me. But I'm thankful for them, because I love watching stuff that has overt sexy times subtext. It makes me feel naughty ;P
But anyway, let's talk about Nanon in Freudian terms. Where does her peculiar sexual phobia come from? Is she suffering from penis envy? Some sort of lack? How does she suddenly get over her problem? Just because Malabar is insistent, it would seem. But by then, the whole melodrama is so steeped in irony, you expect her to give into Malabar's advances. I must say, I like her much better when she's freaking out about men's hands being all over her to the point of hysteria and sexing it up in front of live audience in the knife throwing act, than when she settles down with the mustachioed strong man and gets in on his weird horse-treadmill act. Although she does get to throw a bull-whip around while wearing a gold lame bikini top during said act, which is quite nice.
Self-fragmentation is evident here, as well as issues concerning sex, identity, personal psychologies, and collectively unconscious fears. It's a silent film from over eighty years ago that still manages to evoke suspense, drama, pathos, irony, and all the aforementioned sexy stuff. I find myself on the edge of my seat watching Alonzo struggle with whether or not he wants to actually go through with killing Malabar and I feel truly sorry for him when he cries when he sees Nanon for the first time after he has his arms removed. Chaney, Browning, and cast are capable of evoking very base emotions and they evoke them well. And although some of it does seem for fit for the stage than the cinema and the performances are melodramatic, it's still one hell of a ride.
And I didn't even touch on Alonzo's relationship with Cojo, his resident dwarf and caretaker. Maybe in the comments section. It's safe to say there's underlying anxiety involving sex abounding in this film and leave it at that because I am going to need more wine.
I recommend this, especially if you haven't watched much Chaney, Sr. stuff before. The man can ACT! I'm talking big time wonderful ACTING. And he's not even really wearing makeup! Although I did hear he had a foot double for when he had to smoke and drink and so forth with his toesies. Still, the effect is realistic, creepy, but at the same time almost charming. Please watch this movie. Watch it twice. It helps if you dig the sideshow carnival backdrop, which I undoubtedly do.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Hey guys, if you follow Aaron's blog The Death Rattle, he's changed the url. It's now http://deathrattle13.blogspot.
Here, have a picture of Moochie in the fridge. He has a refrigeration fetish. Weirdo.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
I recently put up a bunch of my records for auction, funds being low and what have you, and so I had to pull all the crates outta my closet for inspection. Turns out Deniro is a big fan of vinyl and loves rubbing her soft paws (she's declawed and that is what I call her paws - soft paws) all over the records. She's also taken to chilling (and napping) on them. Which I find utterly adorable. And she's a huge Motley Crue fan, the Crue (what Deniro calls them) being one of the best rock bands to have ever rocked, so I thought I would share this with ya'll, because it is so cute. Shout at the Devil!
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
It happened like this, at least to the best of my recollection, for much has happened since then, many mind altering substances have been consumed, and the passage of over a decade has fuzzied the mind. But this night I am about to describe to you changed me into the movie watching obsessive I am today. I would like to remember it just as I do, fondly, nostalgically, and given my tendency for hyperbole, with a bit of dramatic exaggeration.
I was over at my friend Rachel's dorm room, getting ready to go to our weekly Goth dance night. Although it would take nearly forty-five minutes for me to pack Rachel into her corset, we'd be ready long before it was fashionable to enter the club. We liked to get a head start, looking as fabulous as possible for as long as possible. Eyeliner applied and boots firmly laced up, I suggested we go get a coffee and maybe watch a bit of a movie before we walked through campus to the bar.
Rachel then told me there was a new shop that opened up right down the road from her dorm - it was called Diabolik - and it seemed like it specialized in something we'd be into, given the sign. Maybe horror movies? Maybe spooky decor? Hard to tell from the nondescript store front. Just a dark sign with white jagged lettering. So cool. How could this have opened and I was not informed, I wondered. I ordered Rachey to stop primping so we could go check it out.
A few blocks later, we were pushing our way into the store. It was a video rental place! All VHS (well, this was the mid-nineties) and all horror! I felt like I had died and gone to hell, in the best way possible. )And this was before I was the absolute supreme horror geek I am today. I mean, I was into horror movies back then, but over a decade has passed, so I'm even geekier today.) We didn't know what to do with ourselves. The place was all gothed out, too, skulls and spiderwebs and a red velvet couch. Tattered drapes. A lecherous creepy proprietor that swore he knew Rob Zombie. Oh, I wish it was still there! (But alas, Richmond wasn't ready for something so cool, and it still isn't some thirteen odd years later).
But anyway, to cut to the chase and to quit waxing sentimental, I rented BASKET CASE that night and got to Goth night way to late to hear all my favorite Apop and Iris songs because I was too enraptured with the movie that unfolded before my budding horror geek eyeballs. BASKET CASE was my first foray into the seedy early eighties 42nd Street universe of director/writer/editor Frank Henenlotter and it wouldn't be my last. Just last night, I watched BASKET CASE and BRAIN DAMAGE, both for about the one-hundredth time and they've only gotten better.
BASKET CASE is truly a wonderful cult classic and a shining example of how low-budget movies should feel. It's ingeniously twisted in every regard and establishes itself firmly as unpredictable and hilarious throughout. Duane arrives in grimy Times Square carrying his former conjoined twin, Belial, in a wicker basket. Belial is truly a sight to behold and why he hasn't been canonized as one of the classic movies monsters of all time is really unbeknownst to me. With some clever practical effects and stop motion animation, special effects guys Kevin Haney and John Caglione, really outdo themselves. Belial is not only believably grotesque, he almost managed to exhibit deep emotion, in the fact that he has been separated from his brother. I've never seen a puppet emit so much pathos ;)
Without going into too laborious of detail since this should be your favorite movie as well, Duane and Belial are on a mission to right what has been wronged, with some hilarious and outrageous moments along the way. The amateur cast handles the bizarre subject matter masterfully and manage to help the film achieve an incredible weirdness that is usually unattainable. Although it was followed by two unfortunate sequels, BC is and always will be one of my favorite films. Its regard for sex, suburban dysfunctionality, and even drug use give the film a slimy, if not even tangible atmosphere. I'm right there in Times Square with Duane and Belial and a host of other weirdos. It's the perfect cinematic slice of that era.
BRAIN DAMAGE, Henelotter's second flick, one of the most violently anti-drug films this side of BLOOD FREAK, is the story of Brian and his pet monster, Alymer. You see, Alymer is this ages old disgusting sentient parasite that feeds on brains, the more human the better, and is capable of injecting whoever is in possession of him with a strong hallucinogen. When Brian comes into possession of Alymer, the parasite begins to take control and Brian descends into a very drug-like addled state. People die and things get bloody, as well as trippy, but the violence isn't so much as realistic or horrific as it is outlandish and comic. There's plenty here reminiscent of BC, the setting, a strong underlying sexual element, the weak protagonist. But as mentioned earlier, this movie has a great deal to say about what addiction can do to a person and his or her loved ones and how drugs change people. It's a great study, over-the-top, but with a message. And I love it!
Frankie also directed another Cavalcade fave, FRANKENHOOKER, which is exactly what it sounds like, and I'm sure it's at least in your top 20, so I won't keep you. I just wanted to give a shout out to two of my favorite movies of all time - smart and silly, but definitely still horror movies. Although I'm not a huge fan of the overt horror-comedy, Henenlotter did it well, if not the best, and he did it almost thirty years ago.
And these better not get remade! I'm warning you! And by you, I don't know who I am specifically addressing, but the sentiment is there!
Monday, November 2, 2009
I normally don't talk about recent horror films here. I just don't, okay! I've said it before and I'll say it again, it's my blog and I do what I want. And what I want mainly concerns the oh-so- fabulous seventies, the excesses of the eighties, and whatever other obscure weirdness I can dig up. That's not to say I don't watch recent horror films, in fact, I watch most every recent horror film that comes this way, with the sole exception of the SAW franchise, which I think is utterly shitty and to be hated at all costs (but that my dears, is an entirely different rant and one I won't likely be making soon). I'll be the first to buy a ticket to whatever horror flick debuts at the local multi-plex and those direct to video new horrors get equal treatment, lined up in the netflix queue months before they come out, even the remakes. Hey, we gotta support our genre, people! For every three hundred bad horror movies that comes out, aren't there like at least two good ones?
Soooo, all that blah blah is intro blah for the IT'S ALIVE remake (2008). So now for some more intro blah. I'm a huge fan of the original Larry Cohen movie - it was one of the first 'thinking woman's' horror movies I think I ever got into back in the day. Sure, I cut my baby fangs on stuff like FRIDAY the 13th and NIGHTMARE on ELM STREET growing up in eighties. Horror movies had always been (and always will be) my modus operandi but it wasn't until seeing Cohen's 1974 environmental forces run amok on birth movie that I was like, hell mutherfuckin' yeah, horror movies can be smart and gory and fun all at the same time! I think I was probably like 14, but this was it as far as I was concerned! And it still is! The horrors of birth, of the human body! The attack on the environment! The sheer inventiveness of it, yet still maintaining the tropes of a B-movie with a Bernard Hermann score (I believe it was his last)! Oh hell yeah! It's a great body horror movie with a shit ton of other subtext and should be watched over and over again. (I really don't know what happened to Larry Cohen - he used to be soooo fuckin' good - GOD TOLD ME TO? Q, THE WINGED SERPENT? THE STUFF? The man used to be able to write a movie. How the mighty have fallen.)
Of course, and are you even surprised, I cannot say the same for the the IT'S ALIVE remake. A tepid, practically gore-less, look at what lengths a mommy will go to to protect her child maneuver, the remake lacks pretty much everything that made the original great. No LA setting, instead we get a boring old house in New Mexico, so definitely no monster baby hiding out in sewers. No large craniumed baby puppet, you might see a little CG claw here and again. And the body horror element? Well, I can't say I ever want to birth anything out of my vagina, so some of it bothered me a little bit, but still, it was tame at best. I felt myself checking the timer on the DVD player to see how much time this boring clunker had left. Maybe I'm not reading enough into it to deconstruct it enough - gasp! - but maybe I just didn't care.
Another pointless remake in a cycle of pointless remakes. Now if somebody remakes BASKET CASE, I will fight them. Hands down. I will win. Don't fuck with my BASKET CASE. Frank Henenlotter, can you hear me?! Do NOT ever let anyone remake one of the greatest movies of all time! You owe it to me for no particular reason!