Sunday, July 25, 2010
Tell me this is not totally inappropriate! Lionel Richie as a high school drama teacher stalking a blind girl so much so that she must render his visage in clay, having never seen him (she's blind, ya know), but since they have some sort of connection, she's able to visualize what he might look like if she had to tell the fucking police what he looks like after she got tired of all his stalking and sexual harassment. You're welcome.
I've had three wines and three coffees (they cancel each other out) and am about to go get Sam from his mama's house after five days of being separated. I'm bored and drunk and lonely - but I did have brunch with a bunch of drag queens (and vodka) today and then took a nap which resulted in me thinking I had slept thru Monday, even though it's still Sunday. I got up, freaked out for like forty minutes, and then realized it was still Sunday.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Normally, despite my appetite for weird world cinema and my penchant for hot ladies doing despicable things in the nude, I'm not the connoisseur of Jean Rollin's films, at least, not like you think I would be. But the stars and the planets aligned the other night and I wasn't drunk as monkey and I managed to sit through what is described as Rollin's most palpable fair, REQUIEM FOR A VAMPIRE. And I wasn't disappointed. There might be something to this French dude after all. And after YEARS of suffering through his stuff. Well, not complete suffering, because I do keep coming back to his oeuvre, but maybe you know what I mean. I usually get 'it' right away, here, it's taken some time.
The film opens with two female clowns and a male counterpart in the midst of a high speed car chase/shootout in the French countryside. Dude man gets shot and the trio escapes on a dirt road. Exiting the vehicle, our two lovely clown ladies light the car on fire, leaving their male friend inside. They're fleeing from something, but what? There's some great shots of the car burning, hearkening my love the Divine aka Babs Johnson's trailer burning in PINK FLAMINGOES. It's that slow burn, filmed from many angles with only the sounds of the flames lapping at the metal that reminds me so of my beloved John Waters film.
After having dispatched with their 'friend,' the clowns walk across a field and find a stream to clean their makeup off. It seems almost like a purification ritual or a rebirth, a theme that will make itself apparent as the film wears on. They soon find an abandoned farmhouse and make use of it to change from clowns into regular sexy girls. They find their motorcycle safely hidden within a grain silo and off they head to seduce a hot dog stand owner in order to rob him.
After the robbery, the girls, a brunette, Michelle, and a blond, Marie, flee to a cemetery to cuddle with one another underneath their clown garments as two gravediggers approach to dig a grave. The wind howls, a cat meows, and Michelle falls into an open grave as they attempt to flee a second time for no real reason. Marie watches in horror as her friend is buried alive, however, the gravediggers, being a lazy sort, don't fill the whole grave before quitting time and Marie is able to pull Michelle out virtually unscathed. Although it is filmed very dramatically, with her hand reaching out of the grave and the score edging the whole thing on.
A storm begins and Michelle recovers to faculties on a grave (there is nothing sexier than some pretty girls amongst Gothic looking tombstones) and it's time to flee again, this time to a castle. And did I mention the bats? They assault the girls and they are glorious. Almost as big as fruit bats and I didn't think fruit bats made their rounds to the French countryside. These fuckers are huge! And glorious! You know how I am about bats!
So the ladies find a castle and decide to explore it wearing their clown suits, until they find a bed ensconced in furs and decide to disrobe. If you were thinking Michelle and Marie were a couple up until this point, the next scene confirms it for you, as they get all nakey and kissy with each other on top of the fur bedspread. Don't get your hopes up too long, perverts, as the softcore lesbian action doesn't last too long because the girls are distressed by a creaking sound off in the castle somewhere and get up to investigate, wearing clothes, unfortunately.
Much to their dismay, they find a hanging corpse in the basement (the film's only real gross-out gag) and decide the time has come to flee again. But they can't. They enter a chapel where some robed skeletons are presiding over a funeral while eerie organ music plays in the background courtesy of a fanged red head dressed in androgynous foppery. She pursues the girls into a dungeon and emerges from the floor in an great green filtered light. Into another chamber they run where three burly male guards rough them up - and this is pretty heavy stuff just shy of rape - but the vampiress 'saves' them and tries to drink their blood.
Up until this point, and this is where the 'action' really starts, it's virtually free of dialogue. There's no motives, no explanations, and Michelle and Marie are experts at running from something, anything. But the whole damn thing is so damn good looking, you can't help but look away. There's bats, tombstones, crypts, crazy lighting, androgynous vamps, sexy clowns, I mean, who needs an explanation, right? The atmosphere is so heavy and the girls are so attractive, we can just let go and let that take us where it needs to.
Which is nightfall. The girls have 'escaped' and are wandering once again around the cemetery when the vamp and her thugs catch up to them and introduce them to the count, a pathetic excuse of count if you ask me. Christopher Lee he ain't. And he's whiny. He puts some bats on each of them, to mark them I guess, and lead them back to the castle (they're in a trance?). They are shackled to the walls with some other sexy ladies who have seemingly been there awhile.
Here's where you get your boob fix and there's a little bit of ex-sanguination from the lovelies chained up in the dungeon and we also get a bit of back story on Michelle and Marie, finally! Seems they were at a New Year's party when they picked up dude that was in the car with them at the beginning, but they had to kill him because he was, at their phrasing, annoying. Since then, they've been roaming about the countryside tyring to escape the law. It's honestly welcome because it makes it one of the more linear Rollin films I've watched, and I've watched my share. But I'm totally enthralled at this point so it wouldn't matter if the vamp demanded back story or not.
So what happens next, in brief, is that the girls are forced to become the vamp's bitches. They are to lure unsuspecting travelers to the castle by day so the vamp and the count can feed and eventually, since they are both virgins, depending on what your definition of the word virgin is, they will become vampires if they do a good job. Well, Michelle's down, but Marie's not, and she gets turtleneck wearing Frederick who just happens to be passing through, to deflower her outside the castle's gates so she won't have to become a vampire after all.
So come time for their initiation, aka the rape aka the rebirth, the vampires realize Marie is no longer a virgin and get pissed as holy hell. There's a great scene in here where Michelle is 'forced' to whip Marie as she's chained to the ceiling, a total scene for the perverts and I loved it. Michelle doesn't want to whip her friend and lover, but her vampire nature is taking over and she relishes it as much as she reviles it. And it's filmed in that great green filtered light again. Beautiful! Well, as beautiful as a gorgeous brunette French woman whipping another gorgeous blond French woman chained against her will can be, which is very!
Turns out though, the kindly count is sick of his lot in life and doesn't want to be a vampire any more. He's dying and wants to deny his nature. The count takes the vampiress, and another lackey with him (I couldn't ever discern if this other older woman was an actual vampire or just someone who played the piano and wandered around the castle kind of like a house mother) into a tomb and they retire and the girls run off into the woods and FIN.
Now, this ain't perfect, but it is exquisitely gorgeous, the lighting is grand, Michelle and Marie couldn't get any sexier and the landscape is superb. Not to mention, these are some tough women in this story. Not only in the vampiress androgynous and drag-queen-esque, she's powerful and demands respect. Michelle and Marie are awesome in their own right, as they fight for what they want, flee when they feel the need, and dispatch with an annoying male for the sole fact that he was 'annoying.' I love it. The poor count - he hates what he's become and basically is at the mercy of the women around him. I found this whole element to be quite great.
As mentioned previously, I think this is one of Rollin's more accessible works and while I hate to cater to the masses or lump myself in with them, I must say this was one of my more enjoyable romps into Rollin's filmic endeavors. Here - watch the trailer and perhaps decide for yourself.
Sunday, July 11, 2010
While not claiming to be an expert in Russian cinema from the late 60's, I know what I think is good and I know what I like. And I like director Georgi Kropachyov's VIY (1967). Taking its name from an old Russian folk tale (and monster who we'll meet later), VIY recounts the actions of a young priest, Khoma, as he embarks on vacation, runs afoul of a witch, and then finds himself in a most mysterious and scary predicament.
At the start of the film, Khoma and two of his fellow seminarian pals set off for a much deserved holiday. As they break off from the rest of the pack, they find themselves lost, ala the scene in AMERICAN WEREWOLF where they veer off the road. They wind up finding a farmhouse and as the old hag that lives there if they can have shelter for the night. She agrees, but on the condition that they are to sleep in separate places. See, she wants Khoma all to herself. After some futile advances (no one could be so drunk, and mind you, Khoma does like his vodka), the crone hypnotizes Khoma into thinking he's a flying horse to satisfy her transportation needs to a village.
Now this is a strange scene. So far, VIY has reminded me most of Disney movies, with its painted backgrounds, goofy vintage cartoon music, and stereotypical costuming. Khoma is portrayed as a bit of a drunk, okay, a lush, really, and he's pretty much revered at Seminary as a total fuck up and loser. It's revealed later that he's an orphan and really has no desire to be learning the ways of the cloth, but eh, what else is he to do? But it's downright comical and whimsical the way it's portrayed. So you think, up until this point, you're watching some quaint Russian folktale, when in fact you're watching a surreal piece of monster mayhem, which is to come.
Anyway, when the witch finally lets Khoma down from the sky, he begins to club her and she turns into a beautiful young raven-haired woman. Our hapless hero flees the scene of the crime and heads back to Seminary, a bit disheveled but no worse for wear considering. But the priest in charge tells Khoma of a rich landowner who's beautiful raven-haired young daughter is about to die and she is asking for Khoma specifically to come pray over her body. Khoma, under orders from above, has no choice but to go, although it's far to obvious the identity of the landowner's daughter.
When Khoma arrives back at the village, the young lady has expired. Khoma tries to convince the landowner he has never met the daughter and doesn't know how she met her fate, but the landowner insists Khoma fulfill his duty and preside over the body for three consecutive nights. He'll be paid handsomely for his troubles, or else...A solemn funeral follows and the girl's body is placed in the church, a creepy affair in its own right, lots of paintings of sad saints and candelabras and cobwebs. Thus begins Khoma's first night alone with the corpse of a witch.
As if the whole thing ain't creepy enough, as soon as Khoma is locked in the church, yes, they locked him in, a barrage of black cats begin scurrying about, seemingly from nowhere. Khoma's obviously nervous, with due cause, and tries to talk himself out of being scared - he has his 'holy words' for protection, of course. He thinks he's just tipsy and imagining all the spooky stuff, and then more cats and candles being snuffed out upon being lit. He begins the prayers or whatever and then our ghoul rises from her coffin, ethereally, beautifully, and begins to blindly grope her way towards poor Khoma.
He sticks to his guns and keeps praying, not for her, but for himself, and draws a 'sacred circle' around him for protection. It's surprisingly effective, given Khoma's lack of faith, and this scene of the first night with a corpse builds tension and has some surprisingly great performances. Ever seen a dead girl mime? Daylight breaks and the girl returns to her coffin, leaving Khoma alive, yet exhausted, but seemingly non-plussed.
The second night arrives and instead of cats, Khomas is greeted by a murder of crows (I love that - how often do you get to say a 'murder of crows'?). He's much drunker this go round but draws his circle right away. The girl's coffin almost immediately begins to rise and band against the circle. Soon enough, she bursts forward from the flying coffin and curses Khoma to hell in a really wonderful sight! It's very cool as the coffin whirls around Khoma and the ghoul girl hurls insults and curses at his very soul. You go, girl. She curses him so badly, in fact, that his hair turns white. Then, daybreak.
Khoma's pretty mad at this point. Could be all the vodka or the torment from beyond the grave, or a little of both, but he wants out and does NOT want to fulfill his contract of three nights. He demands music and does a frantic jig for the amusement of the townspeople. He then tells the landowner his daughter is bewitched by Satan and there's nothing he can do for her. The landowner doesn't give a shit and sends him to spend his third and final night with the ghoul.
And what a night it is! i can't even describe it - so here - watch the video - however, it's in Russian, but it's still pretty damn impressive.
It's pretty much the best payoff ever! Giant claws? Check. Skeletons lanking about on their own? Check. Demons and monsters of ever description? Check. Bats? Check. Succubi? Yep. And then our titular beastie, VIY! Cartoonish in his own right, he has to have the other demons open his eyelids and then, ATTACK! So fucking good!
Oh, daybreak! Why did you have to come so fast? The cock crows and that's the end of the demons. They all scurry away and the girl turns back into a hag and Khoma dies (although it's never proven but we do see him unconscious on the floor of the church). Then everyone back at Seminary says what a great fellow he was and how his life was wasted on nothing. Blah blah, the end, right?
I do have a bit of trouble with Khoma's death. You see, Khoma wasn't all that great. He was a drunkard, he was lazy, and he had no faith. He only hung out in Seminary because he had nowhere else to go. If his lot in life was to deliver the last rites to witch to regain or reclaim his faith, his death doesn't allow him to do so. Was he so far gone, are we to believe, that he was to only live on in legend, as something he wasn't?
A friend of mine recently suffered a brain tumor and had to undergo brain surgery. No little matter, this. Well, some folks I know weren't too fond of her and now that she's had a brush with death, and literally, she did, everyone is sending flowers and cards and talking about how great she was. This is the exact same thing they do to Khoma when he expires. Khoma, although lovable to the viewing audience in some way, due in part to his goofy demeanor and lackidasical attitude toward everything, is kind of despicable. He doesn't even pray over the girl's body - he prays for himself. And she's rightfully pissed. I would be if he clubbed me in the head and then refused to pray over my dead body.
But the heart of the matter is, the witch is taking revenge on Khoma. She's a witch, for gods' sake! Whether or not Khoma is completely deserving of said revenge I guess is up to the viewer. It's hard not to like Khoma, murderer and drunk that he is, but who knows. Maybe I should just take it as a fairy tale and shut the fuck up. Because that's what it essentially is, a piece of Russian folklore passed down through the ages to warn of witches and false believers. And it's pretty entertaining just as that!
Here's another video of the coffin flying around the sacred circle.
Other fun stuff about this legend:
Mario Bava's BLACK SUNDAY is loosely based on the legend of VIY and in Joe Dante's PIRANAH, a camp counselor recounts the legend of VIY as a ghost story.
In other non-fun news: VIY is slated for a freakin' American remake. Bah!
Friday, July 9, 2010
Check out my beautiful new banner made for me by my sweetie Sam. As much as I love the old one (made by friend and cohort Mykal at Radiation Cinema), it's time for a new look. Aaaandddd....if you can name all the monsters in the banner without cheating, I will give you a prize. But wait, it's not that easy. You might notice the Frankenstein monster or something in there but you have to tell me which version from which movie. In other words, be as specific as possible. And no cheating! I'm looking at you, Astro, since you cheated on the last contest! :)
I'm not quite sure what the prize will be because right now I am tired, but it'll be something random and fun. Oh, and let me know what you think of the new banner or whatever else.
I'm not quite sure what the prize will be because right now I am tired, but it'll be something random and fun. Oh, and let me know what you think of the new banner or whatever else.
Saturday, July 3, 2010
So last year, I posted about drinking vodka and watching Mill Creek box sets over Fourth of July weekend so this year, I"m gonna post about drinking wine and watching Jean Rollin vampire movies over Fourth of July weekend. I'm most of the way through a 1.5 of pino noir and have already fell asleep to Rollin's REQUIEM FOR A VAMPIRE twice, so the weekend is shaping up nicely. Holidays are so dumb, no one even realizes what the fuck they're celebrating anyway and it's just an excuse for the masses to act like more of idiots than that they are already. That, and traffic through my restaurant is slow, slow, slow. So have fun, drink one for me, and watch horror movie after horror movie. Like you don't do that shit already.