Thursday, May 31, 2012

Tentacle Death Trip

I've sung bizarro author Jordan Krall's name in these hallowed halls of perversion before and yes, I'll sing them once again, for I have just finished his latest novel, TENTACLE DEATH TRIP. It might seem a little over the top, but yeah, I'm wearing the t-shirt of the cover art while I write this. Hey, when I like something, I REALLY like something. Hence the copious amounts of tattoos and cats. Anyway...

Do you like DEATH RACE 2000? What about LOVECRAFT? MAD MAX? ACCION MUTANTE? Fast cars, ultra-bitchy women with pink sledgehammers, biomechanical violence from beyond any sort of experience? How about the occult? Sex slaves? Cross-dressing sex slaves? No? Oh well. Your loss. Read on.

TDT is the story of five drivers hired by the mysterious Mr. Silver, the last millionaire in the post-apocolytic world of New Jersey. Samson, the loner hellbent on finding his son after losing him to bikers ten years previous, Gabby, the aforementioned cunt with the pink sledgehammer, Mama Hell, a Christian fat ass in a mini-van who wears a vest of tattooed human flesh, Junko, a former cross-dressing Asian sex slave in a beat-up Honda Civic, and Drac Dunwhich, a strange glass-skulled maniac who drives a sentient tentacled car.

It's a fight to the death as these five take on the apocalyptic landscape of 2025 New Jersey. Tooth tornados, poisonous crabs, cannibal zealots, the evil Lord Bing Bong, marauders, nuclear mutants, and all sorts of other atrocities, leading them all to the city of R'lyeh. Truly terrifying, but somehow captivatingly beautiful in its horror.

The weirdos and madmen that populate the Wasteland account for most of the entertainment here. The plot is very simple - a race to the death, winner gets all the food and gasoline he or she wants, plus a nice place to live without chaos. The novel, however, is very character driven, and it's in our specific getting to know each of the characters and what drives them is what makes this the most fun. I guess you could say that about most any character driven work, but here, it's very true. The characters are damaged, fucked up, insane, and have had to endure atrocities unlike any worst nightmare. Why not race to the death for one last chance at salvation (of sorts)?

I've probably said this before after reading each new Krall release, but it warrants repeating - I think Krall is at his absolute finest here. He's written a very tight and entertaining novel populating it with all the things I love about weird movies, Lovecraft, religious satire, and ultra-violence, amongst many other things too copious to mention. The homage is a the ultimate compliment and here it is has become the ultimate art form. Whether he's trying to gross you out or trying to get you to think, he's on point here. I've never come across an author with such similar sensibilities to my own. It's like, how do you get inside my head and make all this great writing come out in this way? I know I haven't really done it justice here, but I'm humbled by it nonetheless.

Read this novel.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Hood Rat

Ok, so HOOD RAT (2002) only gets a star and a half on Netflix and it is terribly, excruciatingly difficult to get through. It's disjointed, cheap, makes no sense, and is terribly cliche and bordering on offensive, but that isn't to say it wasn't fun, fun, fun. While billed as a killer rat movie, HOOD RAT is a more character driven narrative about the residents of the Forest Tower projects in Atlanta. There's Max (Isaiah Washington), the homeless can collector turned pied piper (we'll get to that in second), Max's wheelchair-bound alcoholic brother, Courtney, building 'manager' and hustler pimp wannabe, Grady (played by a scenery chewing Ice T), Max's love interest, Nina, Nina's piece of shit boyfriend, an old couple ('we've lived in this building thirty-five years!'), a crazy one-eyed ex-solidier named Satan, and some various other assorted stereotypes and such populating this ghetto. In the opening scene, a crack smoking exterminator who carries his chemicals and whatnot in a Crown Royal bag tied to his waste, a charming little detail to be sure, is completely devoured by a million CGI rats. The whole thing takes place in a warehouse nee banquet hall and once said exterminator is eaten, the cops haven't the slightest clue as to what happened. And this being the ghetto and everyone smoking crack, the police aren't too inclined to believe any killer rat stories, anyway. Although the opening is hilariously over-the-top in trying to be as ghetto as possible ('who let the rats out?'is said at least twice), it doesn't set the tone for what's to come. What follows are some depressing scenes that take place every day in the projects - hustling for drugs, crack smoking, domestic violence, and the overall squalor of the conditions in which hundreds of people spend their daily lives. The movie is cheap, but these scenes are surprisingly effective. Max and Courtney elicit sympathy in their portrayal of the two brothers and the rest of the cast does a decent job, although I don't think many of the roles call for that much range. Still, it helps lend a decent bit of credibility. After the setup, we meet slumlord Bernard, a Haitian-born capitalist who is sentenced by a judge to spend a month in Forest Tower so he can see how he allows his tenants to live. Bernard is a complete piece of shit, walking around with his cane and assistant carrying an umbrella as to not soil his tidy dreadlocks and expensive suit. He's pretty pissed the judge sent him to live here, but he's going to make the best of it by inhabiting the best apartment and installing up to the minute security around the building. That's when the rats start showing up. You know. Those fuckers from the epic opening sequence. For real this time. Time to see everything through rat-o-vision. After a series of events (they are all literally that boring and none of them good), Max frees a rat from a trap in an alley. He names the rat Tara and they become bonded. And by bonded, I mean he can now completely understand Tara and have her do his bidding. And by bidding I mean he can command all the rats in all the projects to kill those that deserve it at his discretion and in semi-creative ways. There's a magic stick involved and some maybe voodoo turn of events, but I might have made up the voodoo part because there IS NO OTHER WAY TO EXPLAIN ANY OF THIS. As you can probably imagine, everyone that deserves comeuppance gets it (Grady, Bernard, Nina's BF, etc.) and we actually do sort of cheer Max on. He's clearly in his element, holding the rat, petting her fur, being all menacing and vindictive and shit. It's when the rats kill pretty Nina that Max goes completely off the fucking deep-end, a far cry from his calm and cool demeanor when he was in command of Tara and company. The whole thing ends in a big fiery mess, flames and shit and dead rats everywhere. There's even a hint at a sequel, although it's very very far-fetched. I think there might even be a HOOD RAT 2, but I don't care right now. Let's recap. There's Ice T, rats that can do a homeless man's bidding, a drunk in a wheelchair, a guy that gets killed on the toilet when the rats come up through the sewer (sorry, didn't mention that one before), plenty o'crack smoking, a Haitian slumlord, rat-o-vision, stock footage, a tweaking exterminator with a Crown bag, and Ice T. I know I mentioned that several times, but seriously, he's like a ramped up version of every character he's ever been typecast as. It's hilarious. It ain't no fucking Citizen Kane, but I don't really want Citizen Kane when I get off work at two in the morning, ya know?