Thursday, December 31, 2009
THE ROAD (2009)
D. John Hilcoat
This adaptation of the much-loved Cormac McCarthy book about a father and son surviving in a post-apocalyptic wasteland has been a long time coming. First announced for release in October 2008 the studio claimed it was not ready due to massive amounts of special effects shots left to do. It was reset for a year later, but bumped again to be released during Oscar season during the winter. Then the Weinstein brothers, in their infinite wisdom, decided to roll the movie out in 100 theaters with little to no fanfare, and quietly added a few more in the following weeks as reviews came in. Basically, they dumped the movie.
In some ways, it's understandable. This is a hard film to categorize and even harder to sell. The trailers for it were downright misleading, opening with shots of some sort of global cataclysm, actively showing the world ending. Sort of a darker, more realistic version of the Roland Emmerich movie 2012. Problem being such footage isn't in the film and never was. The entire story of the movie takes place AFTER these events - long after, with the events themselves never names or discussed. The trailers also make the film look like some sort of action, horror hybrid piece. While the movie is indeed horrifying, it most certainly is not an action piece, and not really a horror film either. It's a brooding drama about survival, sustaining life and teaching your young to be a better person than yourself. The story is about preparing your child for the big, scary, ugly world, while not becoming the monsters you want to protect them against. All the apocalypses in this story are really personal ones.
Viggo Mortinson waking up in his bed to an earthquake. His pregnant wife (Charlize Theron) enters the room, chaos can be heard from outside in the world. We realize this is in fact a dream of a life long before as he's asleep on the cold ground next to a child. They are wrapped in a plastic sheet and filthy to the bone. Clearly they have been here a while.
Then my main bugaboo with the film begins: a narration/inner monologue from Mortinson that explains far too much of what's happening. As he and the boy awaken, the narration tells us there was some apocalypse, though doesn't say what kind, and that everyone died off. Those who were left became scavengers and cannibals, while food, gas and most importantly, shoes, became the only commodities left to fight and search for. This is over a montage that shows the two of them walking around trying to find food, gas, as well as lots of shots of their ragged shoes. They find an old barn that holds a family that have hung themselves, and when the boy asks Viggo why they did it, he replies "You know why. To be together." Moments later, Viggo is showing the boy his revolver and reiterating to him that they only have two bullets left, one for him and one for the son. He shows him how to put the gun into his mouth to successfully kill himself if the time comes.
But mostly they wander about this broken wasteland of gray trees, dank water, and forever rain and snow. They survive on bugs, the sparce remains of picked-over carcasses, and the occasional one soda that was wedged into an ancient machine. All the while, the father tries to explain things to his son as to why they must continue on. Why they must get to the south. Flashbacks show us that the mother wanted them all to commit suicide together years ago to avoid the nightmare before them, but the father refused. So she left him, walked into the cold and presumably died. Now he and his son are sort of doing the same, but fighting the elements to try and survive. Often, the boy seems to want to die - he wants to see his mother again, he's tired of being cold, hungry and alone. He's also very aware that he's the only child left in the world, since the other ones were eaten by roving packs of people who have turned cannibal to get by. When they meet a group of such feral survivalists and the father is forced to use one of the bullets to save his son, there is a paradigm shift in their relationship. The son sees a savagery in his father awaken that he is uncomfortable with. A willingness to resort to violence that he previously thought separated them from "the bad guys".
Eventually, the movie becomes a trial of which one of the main characters is going to die first, since both of them are clearly ill. At this point, the entire movie becomes a bleak spread of hopelessness that's hard to get through. The final curtain call of the film feels like a nice positive wrap up, until you connect a couple of dots from earlier and then it really isn't at all, at least that's how I read it. Movies do not come any more bleak and ravaged as The Road.
But in a way, they don't come as beautiful either. There are moments of unique tranquility throughout the film. This is a rare movie that allows itself the chance to often just be quiet and exist in the world it has created. The vistas while father and son watch the horizon smolder and burn, the miles and miles of fallen dead trees. Many empty houses, alone on a clear landscape in a dead sky. These almost painterly like canvases are punctuated with moments of humanity, like when the duo find a waterfall and plunge in nude and laughing to get clean. Or when they finally stumble on the mother load of food and supplies and hole up for a while and Dad proceeds to smoke some pot and drink some Jack Daniels. Or when the son gets exceedingly upset when he thinks he's seen another little boy in a burned out apartment window, but the father knows this is impossible.
There are horribly shocking moments too, mostly to do with the cannibalism which is not played down. There are guts strewn on a street, a basement full of emaciated, some limbless, people that are basically being kept as cattle, and sinks full of facial parts that have been stripped from bodies. It never goes full throttle into CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST fare, but is forthright enough to be very upsetting. Especially to those not sure what to expect.
My largest problem here was not the movie but how I saw it. I have been waiting over a year to see this and was really pissed when the release pattern was screwed up. So when it hit our local art theater I was relieved it was gonna play my town at all. But little did I know the theater would stick it in their tiny 50 seat auditorium where the screen is so small someone's home theater set up is probably more impressive. This is a movie where the cinematography is a character, but I was watching it on like a nine or ten foot screen, being projected so low that all the heads in front of me were now players in the movie too. This frustrated me so much that I never properly got into the movie. I felt completely distanced the entire time, like I was always outside the frame trying to get in. This is a movie that should have been big, overpowering and washingover me. Instead it was like seeing it as a postage stamp.
Still it is a powerful, incredibly acted, impeccably shot and directed film. Director John Hilcoat's previous films THE PROPOSITION and GHOSTS OF THE CIVIL DEAD are quit excellent work, and this, though not quite as good as those two, still carries on his tradition of top notch production. Only the narration (which I've heard IS partially in the book and partially created for the movie) is annoying and a misfire.
Review © Andrew Copp
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
The book was THE GORE SCORE and I was probably 16 or 17 years old. Maybe even a bit younger. A slim tome, not even knocking in at a hundred pages as I recall, but it was a groundbreaking piece of work, especially to mine eyes. To my little mind who was only exposed to FANGORIA and what horror movies I had the forethought to rent because of that magazine, THE GORE SCORE was a fucking revelation. I just assumed movies like GATES OF HELL or those other lower end imports sucked because I had not heard of them. I saw no coverage, knew nothing of what they were about. And didn't care, I was all about Freddy, or the latest movie. RomeroChas Balun trepanned my skull and poured in a world full of new horror with that one book. And he didn't fucking stop for many years. MORE GORE SCORE, HORROR HOLOCAUST, THE DEEP RED HORROR HAND BOOK, DEEP RED MAGAZINE and most importantly his column in GOREZONE magazine (the most missed magazine of the mainstream horror genre in my opinion). That motherfucker laid his tracks into the genre and let a lot of people like me know that horror only BEGAN where most of us thought it ended.
This trail blazing old hippie of horror died December 18th, 2009 after a long fight with cancer. For reasons I am not privy too (nor should I be, I am not family) this was not made public until today. Though his writing about the genre had trailed off, the loss felt from his passing is still a huge one. His presence was important with his working meaning a lot to an entire generation of us out here. Hell, him and his work meant a hell of a lot to me.
Without his work I sincerely doubt I would be making films today. I mean that in all honesty. There is a direct connection between his raw enthusiasm for the upcoming independent filmmakers and my not only wanting to be a filmmaker, but having the courage to actually do it, when the hurdles in my life would become too large. His writing would often help me to believe that people out there could find the kind of work I wanted to make. He often wrote of the new artists in his books and columns, reminding us that the old guard, the Romero's, Cronenberg's etc had to have come from somewhere and that probably reading his shit right then were people that had that edge, that burning desire to break the genre wide open and be heard. This was a consistent theme in his stuff and it meant a fuck-ton to me.
I read HORROR HOLOCAUST so much that it literally fell apart. I still have that copy with the pages loose. I proudly have all the issues of DEEP RED, which is where. like many others, I discovered the work of Buddy Giovanazzo who now stands among my favorite filmmakers. I still read those issue to this day, having read them more times than I can honestly count. The enthusiasms for the genre always apparent.
But Chas was never one to back down from his opinion either. He didn't like the direction he saw the genre going in the late 80's and was very vocal about it. The whole horror comedy bullshit that was the studio's answer to being bullied by various censorship venues was something he rallied against often. He screamed about sequels, the lack of originality, the sacred cows of the genre selling out and getting lazy. He had no personal stakes in the genre so he could say what he wanted. He made his living as a graphic designer, so he was not beholden to the industry to be nice. this only endeared him more to the people who counted. The fans. The people who agreed with many of his opinions, and began to champion the older films he was helping to dig up and rediscover. The first place I read about LAST HOUSE ON DEAD END ST. was in Balun's PIECE 'O MIND Column. Same with FIGHT FOR YOUR LIFE. These amazing grindhouse films that we all talk endless about online now, that have special edition DVD's were once only mentioned in hushed whispers and tones and gotten through illicit bootlegs and trading of tapes. And it was Chas Balun who was championing them. He was among the first people to tell horror fans to wake up and get laser disc players, to start buying Japanese import tapes, to start looking in your local ethic shops for alternate cuts of movies and to start embracing Foreign movies such as Hong Kong cinema. All of which became standard operating procedure a few years later for the true horror fanatic. But Chas was there first leading the way.
Then there was the controversy. Oh yes the controversy. It was Chas Balun who was the first to introduce to these shores the work of Jorg Buttgereit, Andreas Schnass, and the GUINEA PIG films. This stuff would have eventually filtered in anyway I suppose, but it was the writing in his books that woke people up to this stuff first and for-most. Realistically I think few people jumped on the Andreas Schnass stuff outside of the catchy title of the VIOLENT SHIT trilogy, though they remain popular to this day for some reason. But Buttgereit's NEKROMANTIK became a certified underground sensation thanks to one very small review in Deep Red magazine (and then later another mention in one, now defunct SLAUGHTERHOUSE magazine). Tapes got traded, the movie was bootlegged as it was not available any other way at the time. It lived up to the hype and made a splash in the underground. Eventually Film Threat home video picked it up as well as Buttgereit's other films. To gain favor and public attention they went after Chas Balun as a "bootlegger" starting a war. Balun never advertised as a tape source, though he would send you a list if you asked. He would gladly trade instead of sell you anything. It was pretty far from his vocation and only something he did as a way to expand the collection and get stuff that others could not see out to them. If it was not for Chas Balun, NEKROMANTIK would have not had the fanbase to even been a title worth distributing at that point (I am sure it was Film Threat's flagship title). This all climaxed with Film Threat Editor Chris Gore getting a beer poured on his head in public at a Fangoria convention. Nothing much more ever came of it than that.
The Guinea Pig thing went a little deeper after Chas had made a few tapes of those movies for friends. Fellow writer Dennis Daniels (who was writing for Film Threat at the time) showed one at a party that included some Hollywood "names" including Charlie Sheen and Adam Rifkin (can Rifkin even really be called a Hollywood name though) who were both convinced what they saw was a legitimate snuff film. Now, Sheen I can forgive, he was probably really high at that point in his life, but Rifkin is a filmmaker who has made movies with lots of special effects. He fucking well should have known better. They went to the FBI and reported it. Somehow pretty much the entire DEEP RED "Family" was thrown under the bus in the process to the feds as having actual snuff films. Of course once the Feds investigated and saw the episode that was behind the scenes footage it all became a moot point. And a rather embarrassing one at that.
Not too long after that Chas started drifting away from the Genre. His writing became more and more sparse, with only a couple of books in the late 90's and 2000's. His discouragement with where the genre went was obvious in those tomes. His enthusiasm was almost gone it seemed. If you watch the incredible documentary IN THE BELLY OF THE BEAST about the 1997 FANTASIA film festival there is some telling footage of Chas in there really taking to task filmmaker Nacho Cerda for his movie AFTERMATH which Balun basically considered to be just "gorenography". He also didn't appreciate the raw footage shown of festival organizer Karem Hussain's SUBCONSCIOUS CRUELTY either. Chas seems honestly distressed by the films on display there. Later some of his writing expounds upon how the newer wave of filmmakers seem totally intent on just out-doing each other. Going for the gore shot and nothing else. Who can be more brutal and vile than the other guy at the expense of everything else. At the time I disagreed with him violently about that. I think AFTERMATH is a fine film. But as time has wore on, I really have gotten what he was talking about now. After seeing this current generation of independent horror filmmakers that are doing just exactly what Chas was saying. Complete and utter shit like A BLADE ABORTION have shown that he was right about where this was all going.
My own personal contact with Balun started in the mid to late 90's when I traded some tapes with him. He was the first person that I got some "underground" and uncut movies from. I got an uncut copy of MEET THE FEEBLES from him that I went on to were the hell out. I later when working at the local art house theater, booked a 35mm print of because I had loved that tape so much. I also got MEET THE FEEBLESLAST HOUSE ON DEAD END ST. (which I would go on to write a sequel to many years later that came "this close" to getting made with orignal LHODES director Roger Watkins before he too passed away) and some other compilations that Chas had done himself among many other things. I made my first compilation tape ever and sent it to Chas. He sent me my first copy of THE HOLY MOUNTAIN as I needed it for a film class (my obsession for Jordorowsky then exploded). I finally met Chas Balun in 1997 at the Fangoria Weekend of Horrors in Las Angeles. I was there with my friend Terek Puckett who had just moved to L.A. and Jim VanBebber who was about to move there. That weekend was crazy and I met a LOT of other people such as Buddy G. (who said the trailer for my then in progress film THE MUTILATION MAN was "fucking sick and twisted" one of the best compliments I have ever gotten), Bill Lustig and John Lazar aka Z. Man Bartel himself. But getting to sit down with Chas Balun at the hotel restaurant and have a 1:00 am dinner, just he, I and Terek was probably the highlight of the trip. Just calm, cool, no bullshit or pretension chillin out talking about movies. I remember he confided that at that point he had really gone back to his roots and was into the 50's Sci-Fi movies like EARTH VS. THE FLYING SAUCES and INVASION OF THE SAUCER MEN. He was even jacked up to see INDEPENDENCE DAY! The next day one of the big panels at the convention was for the BLADE RUNNER reunion (one of the last appearances of Brion James unfortunately) and William Sanderson was there. Chas Balun was among the first people to ask a question and naturally he asked Sanderson about FIGHT FOR YOUR LIFE. Sanderson squirmed and hemmed and hawed but answered the question, but then another one from the crowd, came. Soon the Q&A had been derailed from BLADE RUNNER to FIGHT FOR YOUR LIFE with Balun leading the charge. Sanderson went from being embarrassed of this quasi racist bit of his ugly past to willing to openly talk about it as he realized the crowd loved the movie and appreciated his work. All because of Chas Balun.
I regret that I lost touch with Chas over the years. I often thought to myself that I should send him my latest movies, but then didn't. I think I was afraid he would lump my work in with the generation of people who are just in it for the shock for shock's sake. Now I regret it. I should have let him know that I am making movies because his writing kept me consistently enthused enough to continue. When I was basically kicked out of film school for making content they disapproved of, it was Balun's writing that convinced me it didn't matter that my heart was true to what I was doing. I DID tell him that when I met him. So at least I got that much right by him. I started my fanzine because I admired what he was doing, and I still write this blog for that same reason. Last year we lost the great writer Bill Landis (as flawed as some of his views may have been he was a hell of a writer) and now we've lost Chas. We are clearly at the end of an era. Michael Weldon better go get a health check up stat!!!
© Andrew Copp
Below is the trailer for "CHUNKBLOWER" a film that was written by Chas Balun and to be directed by Jim VanBebber. This trailer was all that ever got made. I read the script for it, and it could have been described as THE HILLS HAVE EYES meets GUINEA PIG in an urban setting. Truthfully in the climate that horror films were at in the 90's, this was NEVER going to get made.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
THE LAST REUNION aka REVENGE OF THE BUSHIDO BLADE (1978)
D. Jay Wertz
Media Blasters/ Code Red/ Rare Flicks Box Set #3 1.85
My Leo Fong obsession continues. This revenge fueled swordplay movie was made in 1977 but looks to have not been actually in theaters to maybe as late as 1980 (I could be wrong about that). This time our dearest hero Mr Fong takes a creative backseat, only acting and producing, allowing for other folks to take the reigns. But his reliable acting troupe is here and accounted for as Stack Pierce, Cameron Mitchell as well as several very familiar faces in the background and stunt teams pepper the area. This is a Fong production through and through.
The story starts out in the Philippines circa 1945 as an American platoon is about to liberate a jungle plantation occupied by the Japanese. Inside the Commanding Japanese officer is actually shown to be a rather upright, honorable man, with a son and wife. One of the American Soldiers in particular, a dude named Steadman (no relation to Oprah's stud apparently) knows he is gonna face a court marshall after this raid and is not a happy man. So he goes in guns blazing. He and a couple of other soldiers kill the Japanese officer and rape his wife, in front of the kid, then killer her too. When an American soldier finds them, the motherfucker panics and kills that cat too! All the while another soldier has cowardly stood by and watched the whole mess go down, refusing to participate or stop the madness. Steadman manages to spin the whole mess to look like the Woman attacked them and killed the soldier, and had to be killed.
I Leo Fong Bless this motherfucka killin blade in hopes that this scene will be lifted for Kill Bill in twenty years or so...Flash forward thirty years later and the little boy is now Leo Fong, so you know asses are gonna be fucked up. He is seen practicing with a Samuria sword and mumbling about Bushido, which is a Samurai code of honor and vengeance. He goes to his job as the head of a trading company and says his goodbyes to his super hot secretary letting her know in no uncertain terms it is up to her to run the show and leaves for Manila.
Meanwhile all over the USA older dudes are leaving and heading to Manila as well. Seems there is a big reunion of soldiers going down there. Six of the big bad soldier boys from the big WWII are getting together to rehash old times. The commander has grown up to become a chain smoking Cameron Mitchell (rather subdued in this movie for once) and his right hand man Washington is now Stack Pierce. The evil fucker Steadman is now played by Hol Bokar and the coward is Phillip Baker Hall who simply owns his role. The plot from here is simple Leo Fong will hunt them down one by one, and kill them, Samurai style. Along the way we will get two barroom brawls, lots of disco dancing, and incredible disco styled lounge number about the Zodiac sung by a Philippino duo, Stack Pierce enduring far too many racial slurs from the Steadman character, and more than a few sequences that seem to have been revised for the KILL BILL movies. Oh, yeah and some cockfighting too, with the most amiable cockfighters in the history of the sport. These guys are just so happy to be doing something, anything, that they are filled with simple, JOY to just be spending time together. Very weird.
But in the last half hour, the movie changes. It goes from being a kind of weird, but fun action romp, to having a rather serious, even dark, edge. The film finds its footing and heart beat, with the writing getting intensely better. From the moment Fong's character confronts the Coward, well actually the moment before that. When the Coward is with the kind hearted Hooker, and he cannot perform with her because of the years of guilt and alcohol he has abused himself with, the movie hits a melancholy note. A note that is, just right. When the Coward starts to beg Fong not to kill him because he IS a coward, then stops to ask for a drink and tells him, he has "been dead for years, that he is not a man, hasn't lived as a man, and wants to finally die like a man", it is some poetic shit. Some Peckinpah, poetic shit. And Fong's acting in the moment when he HAS to kill him is up to par too. The whole scene is just fucking sublime. It is stuff like this, moments like these, that keep me combing through these exploitation movies. This is the kind of stuff that in mine eyes, is BETTER filmmaking that the crap that is shoved down our throats in the multiplexes today.
So what you end up getting is a revenge/action film, that is less action and more philosophical, anti-war film. With bar fights, decapitations, lounge singing, and lots of 70's actors boozing it up. I'm in exploitation groove heaven here guys. And this is a fucking great movie.
Rare Flix box set #3 is in bad shape though. Clearly taken from either a 1 inch video master or several different masters, it is a mess. The color timing is all over the map, with is shifting from one scene to the next, sometimes one shot to the next. The video rolls during several scenes (tipping off that it is from a video master), the sound levels are mixed for shit (though that could be the low budget of the original production). Even with bad materials, there was clearly very little effort put into cleaning this up. There are two trailers for the movie, one under the original title and one with the REVENGE OF THE BUSHIDO BLADE title dubbed in. Some "deleted" scenes that amount to roughly ten seconds of alternate shots. best of all is that there is a Leo Fong commentary, which I had not listened to as of yet. But considering how stone faced he can be during his movies, I fear he might be as well during a commentary. But I bet you can feel him staring at you if he is. Just waiting to kick your ass.
Review © Andy Copp
I could not find a trailer for this movie, so this classic one for Fong's LOW BLOW will have to suffice.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Women in Prison bills were always big draws in Dayton for some unexplained reason.
I have heard that there was some question about the MANSON documentary playing around the country do to legal troubles. But here it is on a double bill with the incredible ZODIAC KILLER.
I remember both of these films playing as midnight movies at the long gone Huber Heights Flicker Palace in the 1980's for a long, long time. But before that they played together at the Kon-Tiki as a double feature. I bet that bent some heads, especially considering the amount of chemical assistance that audiences had there.
I can't for the life of me figure out how they put together this double bill? Actually this two movies are really pretty ill at ease together with SUPER SPOOK being a very silly comedy (formerly called THE $6000 NIGGER) and THE SPOOK WHO SAT BY THE DOOR is a vicious well thought out and very serious urban drama and call to arms about the first black me to work in the CIA who comes home and trains the people in the ghetto to fight back.
Anyone know what the title of the movie was that you had to call and get? I'm thinking it might of been THE BITCH with Joan Collins, but am not sure.
I got this one in a package of old film ad negatives I traded for. Talk about seriously old school! This is about as ghetto as these ads come. I LOVE IT.
I believe this is a Ray Dennis Steckler porno film. But truthfully I am more curious about that second feature?
The Klan Killed Their only honky friend!
Saturday, November 21, 2009
I thought I would do something different this time and post a sampling of the old movie ads I have collected over the years. I have tons and tons of these things. If you are on FACEBOOK I made an application there where you can give friends old exploitations ads as gifts. All from my personal collections. I thought I would post a few here from time to time. If you guys like this I will continue to do it.
This PORKY'S ad is one of my all time favorites. The hard sell from "regular folks" is hysterical especially the last lady claiming she would take her 14 year old son to this extremely raunchy, very R rated sex comedy.
Linda Blair in her best role since THE EXORCIST. I remember my parents coming home from seeing this and telling me all about it. I was just a tiny bit too young to see this sleazefest, but was fascinated with the tales of bear traps, crossbows and pregnant women thrown off of bridges that I was being told of.
Another ad that fascinated me as a kid. anytime I ran across ads that had the "No One Under 17 Will Be Admitted" they caught my interest. I always wanted to know just what was so bad about these movies.
I believe this is circa 1979 or so. But I remember the NEW LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT and LAST HOUSE ON DEAD END STREET playing as second and third run features off and on into the 80's in Dayton.
Yes, that is Alex De Rezney's taboo shattering Bodil Johenson bestiality porno documentary! Proof that it played theatrically in Dayton, Ohio in the early to mid 1970's. I can't even imagine what that 2nd feature AMAZING STUNT would have been!!!
I put this one up just for the shear weirdness factor of playing TOO HOT TO HANDLE as the third feature after CHAPTER TWO and THE CHINA SYNDROME, truly one of the more bizarre third features ever. Then on the other screen you had CENTERFOLD SPREAD and NAKED STEWARDESSES!!!
BOARDINGHOUSE, the movie that separates real cult movie fans from the tourists in my opinion. The first real feature movie to be shot on pro-somer video to be released the theaters.
This PORKY'S ad is one of my all time favorites. The hard sell from "regular folks" is hysterical especially the last lady claiming she would take her 14 year old son to this extremely raunchy, very R rated sex comedy.
Canada's very controversial anti-sex, anti-pornography, anti-men, feminist documentary that attacks the porno world played the Dayton Grindhouse The Kon Tiki in an exclusive engagement. How do you like the USA artwork that makes it pretty much look like a porn film?
Zebedy Colt's Mentally handicapped horror/splatter porn played the Skyborn Drive in. But Ladies were FREE when escorted!!! I bet they LOVED the movie!
Text and Reviews © Andy Copp
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
D. William Fruet
Code Red DVD
This backwoods liberal college boy learns the true meaning of violence pot boiler really came out of left field and hit me between the eyes. I had never heard of it before and truthfully bought it blind solely on the strength of trying to support the efforts of CODE RED. Though it does star Henry Silva so that was a big plus in the movie's favor, but I honestly had no clue what to expect from this movie at all. The trailer which was on several other CODE RED releases sold the movie hard though as a balls out, backwoods massacre action film with some real bite. The movie on hand does not fail to deliver on that promise.
Perpetual badass Henry Silva gets a lead role here as Henry Chatwill the head crazy in a small backwoods mountain town in rural Tennessee. The kind of town where there are about five houses, one store, no cars and everyone is probably related in some way or another. The movie opens with Henry in the hills putting the moves on a huge breasted teenage girl, that unbeknowst to him, two teenage boys are watching. When he discovers this he sets about trying to kill them. When he chases them back to town he discovers that his equally young and gorgeous wife Amy (Danone Camdon) is fucking a dude from the city while he was away. He goes absolutely apeshit, dragging the man into the center of town, beating the shit out of him and his wife and eventually taking the man hostage after shooting the tires out of his car. This is when we learn that Henry is the "law" of the town and that this man has broken the law. Henry makes it sound as if this man has raped his wife, when it is clear to everyone he has not. But the town elders, all the men folk in the town, are not cool with an outsider coming into town and making it with the lone hot to trot chick, so they go along with it. They all decide this dude must pay for his crime and set about tormenting and torturing him, including a brutal tar and feathering with boiling tar and a hunt into the woods.
Meanwhile a group of very liberal college students have decided to go hiking into the caves that surround this area. The lead of the group Roger Michaels (Nicholas Campbell) is severely anti-violence. So much that when we have met him he is in a deep debate with his philosophy teacher about how it is NEVER right to kill another man, even when pushed to the absolute limits. So right then and there we know he is going to be be pushed to the absolute limits and find out just how far someone can be pushed towards violence. In the 70's and 80's there was a whole sort of sub-genre of exploitation film that was basically the "liberal learns what it is like to kill" plot. Everything from DEATH WISH to all kinds of rape/revenge films fit the bill. This movie fits neatly into the framework, but also fills out on several other levels as well. But this group of fairly likable twenty somethings are our liberal heroes for the movie. On the other side of that fence in the mountain town we get Henry's sister Miriam Chatwill (Barbara Gordon in a terrific performance) who is the lone voice of reason in the town and morally opposed to the crap her brother is selling. But being that this is a man's game she is basically pushed to the side at every turn and ignored. It is only a matter of time before the kids end up meeting up with Henry and his gang of thugs, which happens to be right after they have murdered the outsider that was banging Henry's wife.
From here it becomes a very tense suspense movie as the stakes rise and rise. Clearly Henry wants to kill the kids because they know what is going on. He is using his status in the town as a reasoning for it. The townsfolk are starting to turn on him though, as they see no real reason to kill these kids as they had nothing to do with what happened earlier and are starting to suspect that perhaps Henry has killed some folks previously over some frivolous shit too. When Miriam's boyfriend finally steps up and tries to free the kids (Right as Henry's right hand man is arriving to rape one of them) he is caught and brutally killed setting the whole town on edge and putting in motion a true battle of wills.
Take a large helping of backwoods action such as GATOR BAIT and weld it to the revenge type Liberal baiting genre mentioned earlier and you get close to what this movie is. But what makes it so damn good are two things. One is that the script is surprisingly well oiled and effective. The characters are far more clearly drawn than this type of film usually is given. The kids, though occasionally a little grating, are more or less likable, and are not the cookie cutter, out to get laid and high norm of the era. But the townsfolk are are pretty much full blown characters that seem to be really the kind of people you would encounter in a place like this. Not the caricatures that we often see in the wake of DELIVERANCE, but real life hill folk who simply live a different existence. Unfortunately that place is under the thumb of a psychotic tyrant. The second thing that makes this sing is the performance of that psychotic tyrant by Henry Silva, who is always a delight to watch in anything he does. But here he is allowed to go completely free and doesn't just chew the scenery, he rips into it with his teeth and tears it to fucking shreds in every scene he is in. He cuts one of the most memorable villain characters of that exploitation era, so when he gets his comeuppance it is very satisfying.
Rule #2: No matter how hot that blond little hill tart is, no matter what she tells you. Her husband WILL find out and THIS WILL HAPPEN TO YOU!
Director Fruet did the underrated DEATH WEEKEND previously (not available on DVD) which I liked a good bit, but not nearly as much as I liked this one. His direction is sharp and focused, but never over orchestrated or showy. He's the kind of director that allows the movie that is going on to unfold in front of you, not forcing his own style into the forefront in place of what is happening. He's a story driven director, which is the direct opposite of many directors working today.
Unfortunately the DVD is basically a bare bones job, though the transfer is solid and looks fine as is the soundtrack. There is that exciting trailer and of course the reel of upcoming CODE RED releases (BRUTE CORPS and GANG WARS!!!) but nothing else on here. How awesome would it had been to snagged a Silva interview or a commentary from Fruet? I know those CODE RED guys are operating a super tight financial ship and for a title like this that is a risk to even release at all. So that any bells and whistles are probably too costly to even hope for at this point. But it still would have been great to hear what those guys thought about making this movie. But don't let me discourage you from picking this up in any way. In my opinion the quality of the movie itself makes it an essential purchase.
Reviews © Andy Copp
HOW TO GET REVENGE (1989)
D. Bob Logan
Really rare straight to video "how to" tape hosted by a perky (and way too clothed) Linda Blair on how to get revenge on those who have wronged you in some way shape or form. For "entertainment purposes only" of course! So Linda, dressed like she is going to a Sunday school picnic, hosts this discussion video on how to stick it to your enemies. Or even family members who have fucked you over royally along with several "special guests" who claim to be private investigators, cops, and other specialists in the game of getting even. They all seem to be out of work, welfare line actors reading off of cue cards giving you advice that could land your sorry ass in jail if you are not careful. But some of the tricks they impart are indeed vicious enough to be amusing. As long as you understand that trying to actually pull some of this shit off also includes things like felony charges if you get caught. A little detail they completely forget to mention throughout the video.
Okay, so not a damn one of the following Linda Blair photos are going to have anything to do with the video being reviewed. I am sure this will make you very sad.
The show separated into sections involving types of revenge like using the phone, getting even using the mark's car, or what you can do if you can get into their house! Yes you read that last part right. This video actually suggests you try a little breaking and entering for some hilarious laughs to get even with the person who screwed you over! But first things first, it starts with the little things like ordering multiple pizzas or take out foods and sending them to the enemies home. The Private investigator suggests you go to a hotel and steal some stationary and write a note explaining that on a certain date the mark checked in with his "wife" and she left a shoe there and they are sending it back, expecting to be reimbursed for the postage. Then actually mail with the note a sexy high heeled shoe you have bought from a Goodwill store. The trick is to make sure you have specified an evening you know the mark was not at home and address the package to his wife so she reads it. Viola! You've ended his marriage because she thinks he is cheating on her! Linda Blair gets a big kick out of how that has ruined some poor schmuck's life!
Why was there never a Linda Blair Workout Video? that was the rage in the 80's and even Traci lords did one! I certainly would have watched it!
We also get a couple of re-enactments. We meet some super dorky schmo who had a dickhead assault him in a restaurant because he wanted the window seat. Dumping the nerd's food in his lap. So this guy went to our revenge smart Private Investigator to learn how to get even. They set it up so the asshat first gets fifteen different take out places coming to his home with food he didn't order at once. Then during that confusion they plant a realistic toy gun in his beat up pick up truck (who would have guessed he was a good ol boy? But then shouldn't he have already had a gun in there?) and then called the cops reporting that he was seen near the site of a bank robbery that happened earlier that day and he had a gun in his truck! So he was arrested and taken in by the fuzz! Naturally he was let go when it was seen to be all a mistake but the embarrassment and hassle made it all okay for our hero.
If the creators of the "How To Get Revenge" video had any brains at all they would have had Linda wear this outfit for the shoot instead.
Another gal goes to the P.I. because her jerk off college jock boyfriend was cheating on her with a cheerleader. The P.I. was so touched by her sob story (because she looked just like his daughter! Her big titties had NOTHING to do with it!) that they schemed up a dirty little plan that carried over to ruining this bitch's life. Not only at this college but for several others too. Our gal went to the free clinic to get checked out and stole a whole pad of stationary. She used it to write up a summary explaining that the cheerleader girl had sexual relations with basically the whole football team. Problem being that she had many sexually transmitted diseases including syphilis and that it was their duty as the sexual disease center to alert the college health department so they could alert her former partners. Within a week she was a pariah at the school and everyone thought she was a disease carrying whore. she dropped out of school and went to another school and this girl sent the same letter, just with names changed, to that school too. Thus ruining her life there too! Just because this gal fucked her man. Oh yeah, she made sure her man was left out of the revenge, cause it wasn't his fault!!! Once again Linda Blair laughs in stunned shock and awe at the appropriateness of the lives laid bare.
The rest of the show is just instructions on how to do certain gags. Most of them simple like calling in instructions to get people fired from jobs, or make their spouses think they are cheating on them. Most of these are irrelevant now because of caller I.D. and star 69 technologies. But back in the day they were hot stuff. There is some fun stuff about screwing with people's mail, also HIGHLY illegal, that includes putting them on all kinds of mailing lists so they are inundated with junk mail. Putting them on porno lists so they get all kinds of nasty porn they will be embarrassed by or fuck up their marriage. Or the best, put ads in porno mags, especially gay ones, with their pictures. The most brutal revenge schemes in here at the ones dealing with fucking up peoples cars. These are all pretty legit and would work, and are not surprisingly, very illegal. They range from letting the air out of all four tires to putting sugar and sand in the fuel tank and radiator. The most fun one was to put cooking oil in the windshield wiper fluid tank and replacing the fuel cap with a locking one so when they go to get gas they can't get into it anymore. Then there is the old stuffing a potato into the exhaust pipe so it backfires. But wouldn't that cause carbon monoxide to build up inside the car and potentially kill the person inside if they sat there long enough?
Finally there is the section on messing with the mark's home. This is felony business here folks, but they show you anyway. This goes from putting a water hose in the mail slot, glue in the locks to putting fish eggs in the air conditioner unit so their house stinks up. Then the dummies suggest if you can "get inside the house" that you turn up their thermostat all the way and glue it in place so when they get home their house is like an oven. Or maybe it is on fire! Did you idiots think of that? Or get into their refrigerator and stuff it full of their dirty laundry. Or put all their expensive china in the dishwasher and put a pouch of black dye in there and turn it on! "Use your imagination folks" is the command of the day? Well, you'll have to use your imagination when you are fending off the gigantic, horny, felons intent on throat raping you after you've been sent to prison for trying some of this shit. I guarantee Linda Blair will not be there via satellite cracking jokes and thinking its funny. Well then again she's not working much these days, so maybe she will...
Jesus, god this is a wrong headed mess of a video. While it is amusing and some of the stuff funny I cannot believe it was floating around out there for legit sale. This is the kind of thing you would have seen for sale in the Lampoonics catalogue or in the underground, traded amongst militant survivalist groups. Sorta like the home made James Bond booklets that explained to you how to kill people in their sleep with tennis balls and playing cards. Something that passed hands secretly and in the stealth of night, not at the local Major video or Blockbusters and hosted by an on the decline starlet looking for cash.
I mentioned before that these photos of Linda Blair had nothing to do with the video being reviewed right?
Speaking of Linda Blair hosting this, if you spent the money to get her to do this gig, at least you could have gotten her to show some cleavage for fucks sake! Having her dressed like a school marm from LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE was a terrible idea and a waste of her best assets. Linda was at her healthiest peak in 1989 and lets face it, the material she was given was doing her no favors in the acting department. So all she had to work with was looking foxy, and the costuming dept fell down on that job. Though to be fair she seems to be enjoying the malicious, mean spirited, nature of the whole gig, laughing and guffawing at the low down, dirty tricks on display. So when she is mean to you at a convention next time you see her, don't let her know were your car is parked. She might have some shit planned for your ass.
There were no clips of this on you tube (big surprise) so here is a pretty terrible interview from the early eighties (posted by J4tH.com who you should pay a visit to if you get the chance by the way).
And here she is walking on BROKEN GLASS (oh NOES!!!) on the no sadly defunct CIRCUS OF THE NETWORK STARS on CBS circa the early 80's ENJOY!
Reviews © Andy Copp
Friday, November 6, 2009
ReGOREgitated SACRIFICE (2007)
D. Lucifer Valentine
Kingdom of Hell Productions
This sequel to the underground sickie SLAUGHTERED VOMIT DOLLS goes out of its way to up the ante on the violence, gore and all around bad taste in every single way possible. There is certainly a case of one upmanship in the gore underground in who can make the most repellent and disgusting movie and Lucifer Valentine is clearly going for the gold here. The thing is that the guy clearly has a specific and unique vision that is unlike any other underground filmmaker out there, even if some of his material is a little too familiar at times. It is this technique that sets what he is doing apart and makes this film interesting, especially when it simply devolves into a fetish spectacle of puke, piss and prurience.
The sort of story is almost impossible to decipher without having read some material before hand, or seen the first film. Ameara Lavey plays a young porn store who is holed up in a hotel room on a drug fueled suicide jag. Apparently this is meant to represent the final days of Kurt Cobain or at least be heavily inspired by them (late in the movie actual footage from outside his house is shown, with a bit of writing on the fence there serving as a major piece of the movie). She recants memories, confessions, and disappointments.
Concurrently there is a "story" about two porno twins and a cameraman (who is shooting this entire movie and we never actually see) that are going around conning women into sexual congress, getting them drunk, forcing things into their mouths until they puke violently over and over, abuse them all night and then violently mutilate and kill them. We meet these twins as they are actually Siamese twins attached at the head and the "Cameraman" separates them with a butcher knife. Later they seem completely healed and normal and begin these vile attacks.
The women they attack are usually on board sexually until during or after the violent puking and it becomes clear that it is leading to a brutal ending. Between these interludes we sometimes "meet" these women as they talk openly to the camera about being a whore, stripper or teenage porn star and their rather unsettling experiences doing those jobs. Almost as if the road traveled has led them to this fate. Eventually another man appears without explanation into the proceedings while the twins are gutting a naked woman and forcing her to gag on her own entrails until she regurgitates continuously.
This dude, painted up like one of the Insane Clown Posse is apparently the Puke Master as the vomit quotient raises ten fold with his entry into the movie. He just fuckin pukes on everything. Continuously. His purpose in the movie is to puke and later, to maul and desecrate a severed head (that he eventually pukes into). Several of the girls are forced to pledge their allegiance to Satan before they expire.
The movie climaxes, if you will, after several really intense murders, with Lavey looking absolutely beautiful (the rest of the movie she has looked strung out, pimple ridden, tear streaked and pitiful) as she reads the essays left on Kurt Cobain's fence outside his mansion.
Then the Camera Man makes her fellate him as he throat fucks her until she vomits. Then his clearly fake cock starts to come blood - fountains of it - covering her naked body in some sort of baptism. The end.
Stylistically this movie is a triumph. Valentine takes what is clearly a shoestring budget and stretches to the breaking point. His editing is breakneck -literally thousands of cuts - with dozens within any given moment. This guy must have shot so much footage it cannot even be fathomed. The Whitehouse inspired industrial drone/noise soundtrack is disconcerting as all get out too. The hyper-editing and soundtrack alone make this something that get under your skin from the get go. The content wouldn't even have to be startling and aggressive the way it is put together. The shot choices and images are very often incredibly striking and powerful. The first shot of the Siamese Twins for example with them appearing at a distance, just a little out of focus, among the trees, is haunting.
Several of the murder scenes are among the most brutal and harrowing I have ever seen in a movie. About midway there is a scene where the camera man murders a hooker and forces her to pledge her soul to the devil. Shot with the camera scooting around about two feet, almost randomly, which coincides with an ear piercing scream and white noise on the soundtrack. The whole time she is begging, pleading and being forced to obey. By the time she is finally mauled and mutilated (which isn't even entirely on screen) it is among the most disconcerting things I've ever had the displeasure to witness. Powerful? Yes. Would I watch it again? I'm not sure I would.
Which brings me to several topics of concern with the movie. Several moments in the film when the girls are talking openly, or Lavey is breathlessly confessing her past, feel a lot like voyeurism into real people's lives. Which I am sure is the intended effect. But part of me cannot help but to wonder if there isn't some serious exploitation going on of these girls who think they are going to be in some gooey horror movie and end up bearing their darkest secrets in a freakshow, underground assault piece that makes them look really bad, before stripping them bare and forcing them to puke relentlessly? I mean, I'm sure they knew what they were in for to a degree, but were they aware how much of their personality would end up on film? Or am I just barking up the wrong tree and being fooled by really good acting? Also there are several moments in the movie where the "acting" goes too far and crosses the line into what looks to be real assault. For example the twins are roughing up this black girl and forcing her to puke and beating on her with what looks like an answering machine. They are clearly hitting her in the head FOR REAL over and over, but the girl is being held down and being forced to puke so how can she protest? Earlier in the movie the same twins are abusing the stripper whom they have gotten drunk and scratching her with their nails, once again it appears to be all for real. As the welts all appear on her body as they really scratch the shit out of her. She is clearly REALLY drunk off her ass and really pukes up what she has been drinking up to that point. Where is the line crossed here? It is not up to me to be the morality police or anything, but watching this made me feel extremely dirty and wrong. Much more than all the porn, puking and Satanism stuff.
Which leads to the biggest complaint with the movie by far. For all the artistic integrity the movie displays, and there is a lot, it still devolves endlessly into a fetish movie for the director who clearly has a thing for vomiting and piss. The girls and forced to vomit over and over and most of them are forced to piss on camera as well. One even drinks her own pee for no real reason at all other than to do it on camera. By the end of the movie the whole thing becomes one endless jack off fantasy for the demented, mixed with tons of gore. Which distresses me to think there are probably people out there willing to jack off to that too. Thank god no one was shitting on people in this movie, the ONE thing that isn't explored here.
This movie was only available as a DVD-R that cost $50(!) directly from the filmmaker (and through Xploited cinema, who are now unfortunately gone) in a limited edition. Unearthed Films has picked this up as well as the first movie. Getting this into any kind of stores ought to be a challenge for them. I'd imagine there is a limited audience for Vomit Gore. But then again I've been wrong before.
This official trailer makes more sense and tells more "story" than the actual movie does. The plot points in this trailer are not clearly apparent in the actual movie.
Reviews © Andy Copp