Archive for October, 2009

2 headed double-feature @ the Grindhouse

October 30, 2009

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The saying, “two heads are better than one” was definitely the case last Tuesday at the Grindhouse Film Festival. They held an AIP two headed monster double bill at the New Beverly Cinema and it almost didn’t happen! When I first arrived, the theatre and the whole block, were completely dark due to a power outage that was caused by high winds. We were all getting ready to leave, when suddenly the lights came back on, just in time! The exploitation gods were looking out for us and after a quick set up and the usual raffle, the show began…

Trailers for THE HOUSE THAT SCREAMED, RAW MEAT and THE INCREDIBLE MELTING MAN. Then our feature presentation…

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THE INCREDIBLE TWO HEADED TRANSPLANT (1971) tells the preposterous tale of a mad scientist, played by BRUCE DERN, who is conducting a series of weird experiments on animals, that involves the transplanting of an additional head onto their bodies. He’s got two headed snakes, monkeys, rabbits, etc., but he really wants to create the world’s first two headed transplant on a human. How he thinks this will benefit mankind is anyone’s guess.

In a bizarre twist of fate, his prayers are answered in the guise of a psychotic escaped prisoner, who just happens to come across the laboratory’s desolate location while fleeing the cops. He attempts to take everyone hostage, but is killed with a shotgun blast instead. Since beggars can’t be choosers, the scientist seizes the opportunity and attaches the lunatic’s head to the body of an enormous man-child. Not too bright, because now there’s a giant two-headed murdering rapist with super-human strength on the loose! He terrorizes the neighboring community, but when he takes CASEY KASEM’S girlfriend hostage, he’s gone too far!

This was amazing fun to watch with the grindhouse audience! BRUCE DERN supposedly refuses to talk about this film at all, but he should stop being so snooty and acknowledge his work on this fine piece of B-movie magic. It’s amazing!

Trailers for FOOD OF THE GOD’S, BARON BLOOD and TEENAGE MOTHER. Then our second feature…

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THE THING WITH TWO HEADS (1972) is a powerful social commentary about a rich old white racist (RAY MILLAND), who is dying of some incurable disease. He doesn’t have much time left, so he’s been working on an operation that will transplant his head onto the body of a “volunteer”. This comes in the way of a convicted criminal, who is about to be put to death for a crime he did not commit. In a hilarious twist of irony, his head is attached to the body of a big black man (ROSEY GREER), who wakes up before the operation is complete and escapes! Both heads bicker back and forth with one another, while GREER’S tries to clear his name and MILLAND’S tries to take control of the body! It’s like a two headed, biracial THE FUGITIVE!

This movie was brilliant and should be remade at once with DON IMUS and REVEREND AL SHARPTON! I loved, loved, loved, loved, it! Great times at the grindhouse once again!

I can't get enough of these two!

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Holiday slasher triple-feature @ The Cinefamily: Part 2

October 25, 2009

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Following the awesome screening of MY BLOODY VALENTINE at the Cinefamily last Thursday were two other “holiday” theme slashers from the 80’s, APRIL FOOL’S DAY and DON’T OPEN ‘TILL CHRISTMAS. After the break, we all headed back in for more carnage.

SPOILER AHEAD

The APRIL FOOL’S DAY (1986) print was beautiful and I had not seen it in a really long time, and when I did it was on VHS. I didn’t appreciate it very much the first time, but watching it now gave me a newfound respect. Most slasher films were so similar to each other, it’s cool how this movie seems like a typical one and then pulls the rug right out from under you.

It’s about a group of spoiled rich college kids who retreat to a beautiful lakeside home for the April Fool’s day weekend, to get high and laid. One by one, they start turning up dead and soon it’s down to only a few survivors to stop the killer or die trying.

The plot, tone and look are exactly like a FRIDAY THE 13th movie. It’s even produced by FRANK MANCUSO JR. who’s responsible for the whole FRIDAY franchise and it’s released by FRIDAY distributor, PARAMOUNT. It also features AMY (FRIDAY THE 13th PART 2) STEEL, once again in the survivor girl role.

But the beauty of APRIL FOOL’S DAY is that just when you think this is nothing more than a carbon copy slasher, it reminds you what holiday we’re celebrating and that is what makes it unique and clever. It follows the formula to a tee and then takes all the piss out of it by turning everything into an elaborate prank. Nobody was killed, everyone’s fine, April Fool’s!

For some slasher purists, this doesn’t sit well. The first three quarters of the film aren’t funny enough to make it a parody, they say. But I don’t think APRIL FOOL’S DAY is a parody as much as a very smart and fresh riff on the whole genre, while staying true to the nature of the holiday it’s featuring. There is even another fake out that happens after the reveal, where the audience actually expects there to be a “real” kill and once again, April Fool! I like the way it commits to the concept and maintains its integrity to the very end.

The cast is very good and anything with DEBORAH FOREMAN (VALLEY GIRL) and THOMAS F. WILSON (Biff from the BACK TO THE FUTURE trilogy) is always a treat. The film was directed by FRED WALTON who also made the late 70’s babysitter stalker flick, WHEN A STRANGER CALLS. If you’re a slasherphile like me, APRIL FOOL’S DAY is definitely a significant entry in the genre and a seminal part of the second wave.

The crowd thinned out a bit after the second feature, but I had never seen the next one before and decided to stick around and give it a shot. I’m very glad I did, because DON’T OPEN ‘TILL CHRISTMAS (1984) is fucking incredible!

Check out this trailer…

…twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring… they were all dead! – tagline for DON’T OPEN ‘TILL CHRISTMAS

Did you ever want to see a Christmas theme slasher movie about a masked killer who only murders people dressed up like Santa Claus? Well if this particular niche appeals to you, then you simply must see DON’T OPEN ‘TILL CHRISTMAS.

Someone in London is murdering all the street-corner Santas, in a city that seems to be almost over populated with them. The killer really hates anyone in a St. Nick costume and uses a variety of different methods to dispatch them, which include: stabbing, a spear through the head, strangled with a cord and dropped on a coal grill where the Santa bursts into flames (my favorite!), shot in the face at point blank range, meat cleaver in the head, castrated while urinating in a public bathroom, eye poked out with a spiked glove, etc.

There are also two amazing scenes I must describe to you. The first one involves the killer chasing a hot blonde topless woman, that’s wearing a Santa cloak over her, into an alley. He then feels her naked breasts up with the edge of his straight razor!

The second one features the killer employing an elaborate method to murder a detective getting too close, by attaching jumper cables to his car doors. When he opens the door he is horribly electrocuted.

This movie is cheesy, ridiculous, fun, sleazy, violent and incredibly entertaining! And best of all, it takes place in England during the holidays.

DON’T OPEN ‘TILL CHRISTMAS was produced by trashy slasher king DICK RANDALL, who gave us the sublime PIECES (1982) and the awesome SLAUGHTER HIGH (1986). It was directed by and stars EDMUND PURDOM, who played the psychotic dean in PIECES. Netflix it for the holidays, you won’t be disappointed.

That was quite an evening of holiday slasher fun at the Cinefamily! This Thursday is gonna be a slasherpalooza featuring HATCHET (with director ADAM GREEN in person), SHAKMA (about a killer baboon picking off med students. Amazing!) and a Bigfoot slasher called NIGHT OF THE DEMON (referred to as ball-ripping good!). See ya there!

Holiday slasher triple-feature @ The Cinefamily: Part 1

October 25, 2009

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Last Thursday at the Cinefamily, there was an amazing triple feature of three classic “holiday” theme slashers from the 80’s, as part of their slasher retrospective this month. A “holiday” slasher is one of many sub-genres, that include the “summer camp” slasher and the “campus” slasher, to name a few. Since HALLOWEEN took the best holiday, all subsequent slashers had to take whatever was left on the calendar. I’m still waiting for an Easter slasher movie.

One of the best of the “holiday” slashers was the original MY BLOODY VALENTINE from 1981. It is also one of my favorite “non-franchise” slashers and I’ve seen it many times over since its theatrical release, but it has not had a revival screening to speak of at all, as far as I know of. When the Cinefamily announced that they not only found a 35mm print of it, but that it was an UNCUT print, I couldn’t wait to check it out. Add director GEORGE MIHALKA for an in person Q and A and you got yourselves one happy slasher movie fan!

Then a few hours before the screening I received a panicked call from my friend Gariana Abeyta of THE POPCORN MAFIA. She was serving as projectionist for the evening at the Cinefamily and she needed help figuring out the order of the reels for the film because the print they got wasn’t numbered. It just had these bizarre symbols marking each reel. She had never seen MY BLOODY VALENTINE before and since I’ve seen it almost too many times, I hightailed it to the theatre to lend my expertise in the matter. Actually, they had it pretty well under control by the time I got there, but I did provide a ruling on what the final reel was when I received a text while en route to the theatre that read, “WHEN IN THE MOVIE DOES THE FAT GUY WITH GLASSES GET SHOT IN THE HEAD WITH A NAIL?”

When I arrived, I discovered that the infamous UNCUT version was not what they had received. Although the collector they got it from insisted that there was one bit of cut gore that had been spliced into it from the workprint, there was no way of telling what kind of Frankenstein of a print they had until we all watched it together in it’s entirety. The print itself still had a lot of color, but was pretty scratchy and grinded out. It took major projection skills to pull off as seamless a presentation as Gariana did that night. But more on all that later.

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“It happened once. It happened twice. Cancel the dance, or it will happen thrice!” – Harry Warden

The original MY BLOODY VALENTINE is a great fucking movie that is a joy to see in a theatre with an audience of avid horror fans. It is one of the many slasher films that were released in the year of 1981 and anyone growing up during that golden age can remember them coming out almost week after week. THE BURNING, FINAL EXAM, FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2, HELL NIGHT, THE PROWLER, MADMAN, GRADUATION DAY, HALLOWEEN II, THE FUNHOUSE, STUDENT BODIES and HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME are a few of the great slashers that came out that same year, but MY BLOODY VALENTINE was the best of them all.

It’s the most blue collar slasher film ever made. Every character looks like they grew up in a small steel town. Bad clothes, worse haircuts and the cast consists of normal looking people, unlike the 3-D remake where everybody looked like they were out of the new BEVERLY HILLS 90210. It even has a fat guy who everybody turns to for strength and guidance.

The film is about a particularly nasty love triangle that erupts between three old friends in a mining town called Valentine Bluffs. T.J. has returned home to find his best buddy Axle has hooked up with his old girlfriend Sarah. T.J. is the son of the owner of the mine where he and Axle both work.

To compound the tension, it’s Valentine’s Day and it looks like old Harry Warden has escaped from the booby hatch, where he was sent after massacring a whole bunch of folks at the last Valentine’s Day dance held in the town. He went nuts after being the sole survivor of a mine cave-in and had to resort to cannibalism to stay alive. Christ on a cracker!

Looks like he’s back now, still donning his miner uniform and gasmask, and still killing people with his trusty pickaxe. But when the Sheriff shuts down the first Valentine dance in years, those crazy kids throw one of their own at the mine. Bad idea as they are “picked” off one by one.

Harry Warden has a bone to "pick" with you! Alright, I'll stop.

Harry Warden has a bone to "pick" with you! Alright, I'll stop.

That's one fucked up Valentine!

That's one fucked up Valentine!

Doing laundry at the launderette already sucks. Jesus Harry!

Doing laundry at the launderette already sucks. Jesus Harry!

"No really, I don't want a hot dog!"

"No really, I don't want a hot dog!"

"MY EYE!"

"MY EYE!"

MY BLOODY VALENTINE is a very grimy and mean slasher film that is genuinely entertaining and provides a lot of great scares, as well as the creepiest fucking ending ever. Despite a couple drawbacks, that include a cast of inexperienced actors and a hatchet job by the MPAA on all the gore scenes, the film succeeds on all levels.

One thing I’ve always noticed about it, is that the film reminds me a lot of MICHAEL CIMINO’S classic Vietnam drama, THE DEER HUNTER. The mining town location and the love triangle are very aesthetically similar to each other. It’s as if they took the ROBERT DENIRO, CHRISTOPHER WALKEN, and MERRYL STREEP relationship and substituted a masked killer for ‘Nam. I’ve had in depth conversations with other slasher fanatics, where I’ve explained this theory and have been scoffed at rudely. I’ll get back to this.

The cut gore scenes have become a source of legend among horror fans for many years. Back in 1981 the MPAA made an example of it and forced them to trim almost everything bloody out. Just recently a special edition DVD was released with most of the violence reinstated. That’s why the idea of showing a 35mm print of the uncut version was so amazing. Well the print we saw that night at the Cinefamily was the trimmed theatrical version, except for one of the best moments from the uncut workprint! It had been spliced in and involved something particularly crazy that happens right at the already freakish finale. I won’t ruin the surprise if you’ve never seen it before, but let’s just say it gives a new meaning to the term “coyote arm”.

After the film, Hadrian Belove showed a montage he compiled of the edited gore from the movie and the crowd loved it. Then, Brian Collins from HORROR MOVIE A DAY and BLOODY DISGUSTING introduced director GEORGE MIHALAKA who came up and did a great Q and A.

Brian Collins interviews MY BLOODY VALENTINE director, GEORGE MIHALKA.

Brian Collins interviews MY BLOODY VALENTINE director, GEORGE MIHALKA.

He talked about how they set out to make one of the craziest, funniest and most violent slasher films ever made. It was shot quick and cheap up in Canada with an all Canadian cast and crew and picked up for distribution by Paramount. It was a rush to get the film done, because if they didn’t make the February 14th release date, no money.

He said the reason the MPAA decided to take all the gore out was a direct result of the John Lennon assassination and a sweeping backlash against violence in movies. MY BLOODY VALENTINE had the bad luck of being the scapegoat of the week.

He also said that there was even more violence than the stuff from the uncut version, that was originally in the first cut. One scene that has never been in any release, involved a couple having sex that are impaled together with a large drill blade and the guy vomits blood into the girls mouth. It was so gory the MPAA said “We don’t even want to discuss it, just get rid of it.”

It was shot in a real mine shaft and they used a special grade of film stock that was used by the great cinematographer VILMOS ZSIGMOND on of all films, THE DEER HUNTER. This prompted me to ask the question to the only man who could prove my theory, the director. I asked if THE DEER HUNTER was any inspiration for his film at all, for which he replied “We totally ripped it off!”.  I nailed that shit!

GEORGE MIHALKA confirms my MY BLOODY VALENTINE/THE DEER HUNTER theory.

GEORGE MIHALKA confirms my MY BLOODY VALENTINE/THE DEER HUNTER theory.

In attendance that night was director ELI ROTH, who was sporting a THANKSGIVING t-shirt. Because it was a holiday slasher night, I had worn my THANKSGIVING t-shirt to the event as well. In what could have been an embarrassing moment, we both bumped into each other and when he noticed I was wearing the shirt for his hilarious 80’s slasher spoof trailer, he got really excited. “Dude, awesome shirt! Wasn’t my trailer totally MY BLOODY VALENTINE?” he asked me. I told him that he nailed the tone and look of it perfectly and that I could not wait for the THANKSGIVING feature film he plans on making.

ELI ROTH and I sport our THANKSGIVING t-shirts.

ELI ROTH and I sport our THANKSGIVING t-shirts.

During the Q and A, ELI ROTH told GEORGE MIHALKA that the amazing end credits song, THE BALLAD OF HARRY WARDEN by PAUL ZAZA is one of he and QUENTIN TARANTINO’S favorite songs and that TARANTINO was so obsessed with it, he played it constantly while they were filming INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS. He added that he and QT mentioned the song to horror filmmaker ALEXANDER AJA while they were all hanging out together and he too was a huge fan. They all started singing the song together and I leave you with the lyrics of THE BALLAD OF HARRY WARDEN. I will post Part 2 of my coverage of this triple feature soon and discuss APRIL FOOL’S DAY and the amazing yuletide slasher, DON’T OPEN ‘TILL CHRISTMAS. For now, gather the kids by the fire and sing along…

Once upon a time, on a sad Valentine,

in a place known as Henniger Mine.

A legend began, every woman and man,

would always remember the time.

And those who remain, were never the same,
you could see, the fear in their eyes.
Once every year, as the fourteenth draws near,
there’s a hush all over the town.

For the legend they say, on a Valentine’s Day,
is a curse, that’ll live on and on.
And no will know, as the years come and go,
of the horror from long time ago.

Twenty years came and went, and everyone spent,
the fourteenth, in quiet regret.
And those still alive, know the secret survives,
in the darkness, that looms in the night.

For the legend they say, on a Valentine’s Day,
is a curse, that’ll live on and on.
And no one will know, as the years come and go,
of the horror, from long time ago.

In this little town, when the fourteenth comes ’round,
there’s a silence, and fear in the air.
Remember the morn, that the legend was born,
all the shock, and the horror was there.

For the legend they say, on a Valentine’s Day,
is a curse, that’ll live on and on.
And no one will know, as the years come and go,
of the horror, from long time ago.

And no one will know, as the years come and go,
of the horror, from long time ago.

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Blaxploitation horror @ the New Bev!

October 22, 2009

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“Pimping God’s consciousness like a fat ho!” – J.D. Walker

This last Tuesday night at the New Bev, the GRINDHOUSE FILM FESTIVAL screened a couple of blaxploitation horror flicks in honor of the season, J.D.’S REVENGE and BLACULA. During the raffle before the show, my girl Grae Drake won a DVD copy of the RUDY RAY MOORE classic, PETEY WHEATSTRAW: THE DEVIL’S SON IN LAW, which is a kind of pimp-horror film in it’s own right. She donated it to my extensive collection and I promised to show it to her along with DISCO GODFATHER some day in the near future. That started the night off with a bang and it only got better from there.

GLYNN (J.D.) TURMAN, director ARTHUR MARKS and co-star, CARL CRUDUP from J.D.'s REVENGE.

GLYNN (J.D.) TURMAN, director ARTHUR MARKS and co-star, CARL CRUDUP from J.D.'S REVENGE.

Two of the stars and the director of J.D.’S REVENGE, GLYNN TURMAN, CARL CRUDUP and ARTHUR MARKS were on hand to introduce the film that night. The audience was very excited to watch it, because most of us (including me) had not seen it yet, but we were all big fans of the J.D.’S REVENGE trailer that Brian played before a few of the GRINDHOUSE shows.

Before the first film, there was a trailer reel of vintage exploitation films that included:

DERANGED – a biography pic from the early 70s about real-life serial killer ED GEIN.

CANNIBAL GIRLS – I’ve never seen this one about a bunch of go go girls who enjoy eating human flesh.

BONNIE’S KIDS – TIFFANY (THE CANDY SNATCHERS) BOLLING plays one half of a murderous brother and sister crime team. An amazing looking NATURAL BORN KILLERS type of 70s film, with the awesome tagline: “Thank god she only had two!”

Then our feature presentation:

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J.D.’S REVENGE tells the tragic tale of a violent street hustler named J.D. Walker, who is wrongly accused of murder and viciously gunned down one night in New Orleans, circa 1942.

Flash forward to the good old 70s, where we meet a passive young law student named Ike (GLYNN TURMAN). While out on a double date one evening, he volunteers for a hypnosis demonstration and unknowingly becomes possessed by the spirit of a vengeful J.D.

Before long, Ike is wearing old pimp suits from the forties, hot combing his hair and making love to his woman like a wild man. He can’t understand what’s happening to him and after beating up his girlfriend, he seeks help from his doctor friend Tony (CARL CRUDUP). Tony tells him to relax and informs him that beating up on his lady is just a natural way to let off steam (HUH?!). Well, he is a doctor so…

Ike is possessed with the spirit of J.D. the badass pimp!

Ike is possessed with the spirit of J.D. the badass pimp!

Also, while under J.D.’s influence, he takes an old white lady on a terrifying white knuckle cab ride, finally pulling her out of the car and beating the crap out of her. On another excursion, he picks up some lady, fucks her, cuts up her husband when he catches them and steals her Lincoln Continental for a fast getaway.  That’s one bad dude!

When Ike/J.D. comes face to face with Reverend Elija Bliss (LOUIS GOSSETT JR.), who is the direct descendent of the man that killed him, he embarks on his bloody revenge quest.

LOUIS GOSSETT JR. must pay!

LOUIS GOSSETT JR. must pay!

J.D.’S REVENGE was actually a really well acted and directed film, that made the most of a low budget and a B movie script. GLYNN (THE WIRE) TURNER is really great as Ike, who shifts seamlessly between the two personalities. The movie has a cooky plot, but everything is played with such earnest, it really keeps you in it. I also loved that it had one of those happy endings where everything goes completely back to normal, regardless of all the crazy shit that’s happened.

There was a Q and A afterwards with GLYNN TURNER, CARL CRUDUP and ARTHUR MARKS, where they talked about how wonderful it was to shoot the film in New Orleans. They said that the city lent a lot to the movie’s mood and texture and that they ate the best food of their lives for the six months they shot there. ARTHUR MARKS said that the film cost $600,000 and made a lot of money for MGM. Everyone wanted to do a sequel, but it never materialized. GLYNN TURNER said that SNOOP DOGG is a huge fan of the film and told TURNER how much he loved it once, when they bumped into each other at Universal Citywalk. Perhaps BONES was inspired by J.D.’S REVENGE?

There was a short break and when we returned, WILLIAM CRAIN the director of BLACULA, came to the stage and introduced his film. He said he was only 19 years old when he made it and for some reason, A.I.P. head SAMUEL ARKOFF hated him and he never worked for him again. Strange, considering the film was very well made and a huge hit for the studio. WILLIAM CRAIN also told us he handpicked all the actors in BLACULA and at one time, both BERNIE CASEY and HARRY BELAFONTE were up for the lead role. Cool.

Before the film, there were a few more trailers:

A.I.P.’s MADHOUSE – starring VINCENT PRICE.

THE INCREDIBLE TWO HEADED TRANSPLANT – they’re showing it on the 27th with THE THING WITH TWO HEADS.

THE RETURN OF COUNT YORGA – scary looking vampire movie from A.I.P.

Then…

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IT'S BLACULA SUCKA!!!

IT'S BLACULA SUCKA!!!

BLACULA is about an African Prince named Mamuwalde (WILLIAM MARSHALL), who along with his beautiful wife Luva (VONETTA McGEE), are guests of the infamous Count Dracula at his castle in the 1700’s. Dracula bites Mamuwalde, turning him into a vampire and murders his beloved bride before his very eyes. Dracula then renames him BLACULA and buries him away for eternity.

Centuries later, two of the most flamboyantly portrayed interior decorators ever, buy BLACULA’S coffin and have it shipped back to L.A. Once he rises, he starts biting necks and pining for a young woman named Tina, who’s the reincarnation of his deceased wife.

I haven’t seen BLACULA in a long time and I’ve never seen it on the big screen, until now. I didn’t realize that it is actually a retelling of the DRACULA story in every way, with only a change in location (Los Angeles instead of London) and race (African American instead of Romanian). It’s another well made blaxploitation film, with really good acting and some very scary moments. The bloody finale, where BLACULA is pursued by the cops in an abandoned warehouse is fantastic! I agree with the character Big Skillet, who refers to BLACULA as, “One weird dude, but I do dig that cape!”

It was another great night at the GRINDHOUSE. See ya next time!

A gang of degenerates anxiously await the next GRINDHOUSE.

A gang of degenerates anxiously await the next GRINDHOUSE.

The sleaziest exploitation double feature ever @ The Cinefamily!

October 20, 2009

Last Sunday, I went to the Cinefamily for their NIGHTMARE U.S.A. double feature of two of the sleaziest, grimiest, vilest, scuzziest and most misogynistic 70s exploitation films ever made! These movies were made for nobody. Nobody but us: the seekers of the rarest, weirdest and almost completely forgotten oddities from the grindhouse circuits of old. And we were out in force that night.

First up was a disturbing little character study about a serial rapist called VICTIMS, A.K.A. PAULIE: DAY OF THE RAPIST (my favorite!), A.K.A. PORTRAIT OF A STRANGLER, which was the misleading title on the film print we saw, because Paulie doesn’t strangle women at all. He rapes them.

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This was actually the world premiere of VICTIMS (1977) because for some reason or another it was never released theatrically. It had a brief release on VHS in the early eighties and is well documented in the holy bible of exploitation films from the seventies, NIGHTMARE U.S.A. The print we watched was an original 16mm archive that belongs to the writer, director and star of the film, DANIEL DiSOMMA. Well, after seeing it I can kind of understand why it wasn’t given a release. Movies about a day in the life of an out of control rapist have always been a tough sell with audiences.

Paulie is a fucked up middle aged guy who’s struggling with the demons of growing up with a prostitute mother that was abused and murdered by her pimp boyfriend before his very eyes. He beats up and rapes hookers, pathetically breaks down and cries during hypnotherapy and dyes his hair black in an attempt to attract a future victim. He ironically meets his fate at the end of a pimp’s vengeful switchblade in a violent display of street justice.

This movie was like a poor man’s TAXI DRIVER, if ROBERT DeNIRO was a hairy guy in his late forties who tried to rape JODI FOSTER rather than help her. Truly slimy. Next up was the far more upbeat and optimistic slasher film from 1979, DON’T GO IN THE HOUSE.

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This movie is like PSYCHO with a flamethrower! Donny (THE SOPRANO’S DAN GRIMALDI) is a fucked up loner who works as a custodian at the local incinerator (foreshadowing at its finest) who finds himself experiencing a burst of new freedom at the passing of his cruel mother who used to discipline him by burning his arms over an open stove (more foreshadowing). After she kicks the bucket in the huge old creepy mansion they share, Donny answers the crazy voices in his head by playing his disco records REALLY loud. Then he starts letting off steam by abducting women and burning them to a crisp with a flamethrower in a special room that he has built. Before long, he finds himself being haunted by the burnt corpses of his many victims, ala MANIAC.

I remember being really fucked up by this movie when I was a kid. I can’t remember how I saw it, but I think it must have been on video or cable TV. It’s got a really freaky scene where an unconscious girl wakes up to find herself naked, bound and hanging from the ceiling of an all metal room. Suddenly, the killer walks in wearing a fire retardant jumpsuit and splashes her all over with a jug of gasoline. He slowly puts on his flamethrower and burns her alive AND WE WATCH EVERY SINGLE SECOND OF IT! It’s all kinds of crazy and sleazy from that point on and the film has some really effective scares that still work very well today.

When this double feature was over, the head programmer of the Cinefamily, Hadrian Belove decided this was the perfect audience to share the three reels he has of some old porno movie from the seventies about a sociopath that impersonates a cop and rapes women, called CLIMAX OF BLUE POWER. It sounded like MIAMI BLUES with penetration, but I already had enough sleaze for one night, so I headed home to take a nice long SILKWOOD style shower and to think some wholesome thoughts for awhile. I ended up watching THE VANISHING instead. Oh well.

“CHAOS REIGNS” in the mind of Lars Von Trier.

October 17, 2009

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WARNING! SOME SPOILERS AHEAD!

I got into a special sneak preview screening of the controversial new horror film from LARS VON TRIER, ANTICHRIST, this past Sunday night at the Cinefamily. I’ve had quite a few days to digest the film and now feel like I can finally give it a fair examination since the initial viewing. When I first saw it, I was coming off very little sleep and the exhaustion, combined with the film’s content was quite a kick in the face to my senses.

The movie is about a married couple, played by WILLEM DAFOE and CHARLOTTE GAINSBOURG, who suffer the loss of their infant son. The disturbing, yet strangely beautiful sequence of his death is played out in a black and white, slow motion ballet, set to the dreamlike ‘Lascia ch’io pianga’ from ‘Rinaldo’. While his inattentive parents have sex in another room, we helplessly watch the boy fall to his doom on the snow covered street outside his bedroom window.

From that point, we watch how both parents deal with the tragedy. He is a psychologist and chooses to remain calm and analytical of his and his wife’s feelings. She falls apart with grief and becomes dependent on anti-depression meds, which he soon takes her off of.

They retreat from the city to their cabin in the middle of the woods, to try to come to terms with their loss through therapy. Once alone with nature, it begins to become clear that there are powerful forces at work, way beyond a psychiatric viewpoint.

I’m not now, nor probably never will be a huge LARS VON TRIER fan. My favorite thing he’s done are the two seasons of the bizarre Danish television show THE KINGDOM. I know that it’s probably his most mainstream work (as well as being his previous foray into supernatural horror) and I’m a very big advocate of art house cinema, but his movies have always struck me as being a little too much on the pretentious side and his hateful world view leaves me just a little cold.

But those same qualities, I guess, serve ANTICHRIST well. It is one mean, vicious, disturbing and downright haunting film. It really fucks you up. If you look at it on the level of accomplishing everything it sets out to do, then it has. But I really can’t say that I enjoyed watching ANTICHRIST. It was a hard film to watch. Really hard. But then again, that’s the point of a true horror film, which it definitely is.

I found the two nameless main characters (He and She are how they are referred to in the end credits) to be really hard people to like, which of course is the point. The ambivalence that you begin to share with the filmmaker towards the main characters is part of the movies strength and weakness for me. I only felt myself attached to anything emotionally during the moments of extreme physical violence that take place in the third act. Once again, I think that’s the point.

This is a weird review for me to write. While I admired the film on one level, I also found it to be so disturbing on a whole to watch, that I don’t think I’ll ever want to see it again. Also, for the life of me I can’t find one other person who’s seen it, that can properly explain to me the perplexing final shot in the movie and its meaning.

If you love LARS VON TRIER and don’t mind really fucked up stuff (and I mean it when I say, FUCKED UP: A deer running around with a bloody fetus hanging out of it, a penis cuming blood, a stone wheel being drilled onto a man’s leg, a clitoris cut off by scissors, etc.) then it’s a must see.  I just wouldn’t eat first.

2nd Annual All Night Horror Show @ the New Bev!

October 15, 2009
12 hours of mind roasting madness!

12 hours of mind roasting madness!

Last Saturday night I attended the 2nd Annual All Night Horror Show at The New Beverly Cinema and I’m still trying to recover from the mind roasting madness that oozed across my eyeballs! I got there super early so I could get my favorite seat and was joined by the lovely Grae Drake (her first time) and my buddy Wendell (vet from last year).

Ready to be scared!

Ready to be scared!

Last year was a blast and now with the addition of brand new and very comfortable seats, I was not surprised that it was a sold out show. My goal this time was to make it through the whole 12 plus hours and receive my “I survived the all night horror show” pin. I just couldn’t do it last year with the old seats. At 7:30 P.M. the show promptly began. The following is an account of what I saw, as it happened, filtered through a hazy, chemically enhanced memory:

Trailers for BLOOD FEAST, ZOMBIES (European trailer for the original DAWN OF THE DEAD) and RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD (featuring the oddly absent CLU GULAGER. We missed ya CLU!), and a D.A.R.E. drug P.S.A.

1st Movie:

dog-soldiers_1

dogsoldiers6

dogsoldiers1

NEIL MARSHALL’S DOG SOLDIERS screened first and it was great to finally see it on the big screen! Awesome flick about a group of British soldiers on a military exercise in the Scottish wilderness, that find themselves on the run from a pack of werevolves bent on having them all for dinner. Great movie, that’s like a mix of ALIENS, SOUTHERN COMFORT and THE HOWLING.

Trailers for DON’T ANSWER THE PHONE, FRIDAY THE 13TH: THE FINAL CHAPTER, and JUST BEFORE DAWN (tagline: IF ONLY THEY COULD DIE IN THEIR SLEEP).

2nd Movie: burning

CROPSY!!! HOLY SHIT!!!

CROPSY!!! HOLY SHIT!!!

FISHER STEVENS loses his fingers during the infamous RAFT SCENE.

FISHER STEVENS loses his fingers during the infamous RAFT SCENE.

One of my favorite slasher films of all time, THE BURNING screened next and it was the second time I’ve seen it screened in a theatre since it was first released back in 1981. I had convinced my mom to take my friend Curtis and I to see it back then, after telling her it was all about camping. It wasn’t a complete lie, but my poor mother was horrified at what she had taken two small children to see, for it is one of the sleaziest slasher films ever made.

It tells the tale of a horrible prank gone awry that befouls one Cropsy, a caretaker at Camp Blackfoot, who is unfortunately set ablaze and covered with painful 3rd degree burns as a result of the gag. He’s released from the hospital burn ward 5 years later and decides to return to the woods and extract some vengeance on a few campers with his trusty gardening sheers.

This movie, in addition to being written and produced by the WEINSTEIN brothers, features a highly accomplished cast that includes first appearances by JASON ALEXANDER, FISHER STEVENS and HOLLY HUNTER!

Unfortunately the print had the best scene in the movie cut out of it, which is of course, the infamous RAFT SLAUGHTER SEQUENCE. It was obviously the work of some douchebag projectionist who screened it in the past and no fault of the New Bev, but it was a huge buzzkill nonetheless.

Trailers for DAY OF THE ANIMALS, Edgar Wright’s DON’T trailer from GRINDHOUSE and THE BEYOND.

3rd Movie:

house_by_the_cemetery

OUCH!

OUCH!

BOB?

BOB?

I’ve never seen LUCIO FULCI’S HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY completely through before. This is the plot according to IMDB: A deranged killer lives in the basement of an old mansion and pops out occasionally to commit grisly murders that include be-headings, ripped throats, and stabbings with a fireplace poker. The killer needs fresh body parts to rejuvenate his cells. He also has maggots for blood.

It opens with a vicious murder, where a woman is stabbed in the back of the head with a huge butcher knife by some sort of zombie-man. Awesome! Then a married couple and their creepy son Bob move into the same house and soon discover there are a lot of things really wrong with the place. You’ve got dolls missing an arm and a leg, crazy bat attacks and a creature with glowing yellow eyes that murders whoever is stupid enough to go in the basement.

Not one of FULCI’S best, but definitely a fun time. The film ended with this perplexing quote: NO ONE WILL EVER KNOW IF CHILDREN ARE MONSTERS OR MONSTERS ARE CHILDREN. – HENRY JAMES

Trailers for SLAUGHTERHOUSE ROCK (featuring music by DEVO), a P.S.A. for mentally retarded children (very tasteful), DR. GIGGLES and a Fritos corn chip commercial.

?? Secret Movie ??:

talesfromthecrypt2

There were many guesses before, but nobody could have seen a 35mm print of the TALES FROM THE CRYPT T.V. show coming. There were three episodes from the classic series shown that included: LOVER COME HACK TO ME directed by TOM (FRIGHT NIGHT) HOLLAND, COLLECTION COMPLETED directed by MARY LAMBERT and ONLY SIN DEEP directed by FRED (NIGHT OF THE CREEPS) DEKKER.

The reaction from the crowd was not very good during this. You could sense that a lot of people were upset by this choice and would have preferred a cool horror film instead. Not being the biggest TFTC fan myself, I kind of felt the same at first. But my girlfriend Grae is such a HUGE fan of the show and was so happy and O.D.ing on nostalgia from each episode, I couldn’t help but enjoy it along with her.

Trailers for TWICE DEAD, AMITYVILLE 3-D, a Shasta commercial and a Renault car commercial (What’s with all the commercials?).

5th Movie:

Superstition

There's something you don't see everyday.

There's something you don't see everyday.

1982’s SUPERSTITION is basically a slasher movie with a sharp clawed Witch doing all the killing. It seems that many years ago, said Witch was murdered by a gang of angry townspeople and she has returned to the 80’s to wreak vengeance on a few of their ancestors.

It’s a fun, cheesy horror film with some great “kills”, that includes a guy’s head exploding in a microwave! Cool!

Another commercial, this one for FLAVOS – AN “ORIENTAL” TREAT, followed by trailers for LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, MANIAC and I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE.

6th Movie:

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This came on at about 5 A.M. If you’ve never seen FIGHT FOR YOUR LIFE before, it is probably one of the most intense, politically incorrect films ever made. I saw it a couple of years ago at the Grindhouse festival thrown by QUENTIN TARANTINO at the New Bev. The tagline is: 89 MINUTES OF SHEER TERROR and that’s no joke!

The plot concerns an unfortunate African American family that are held captive by a trio of escaped convicts, led by a racist white trash killer, played by a young WILLIAM SANDERSON. This movie is just wrong in so many ways and watching it with an audience kinda becomes like an endurance test for everyone. In addition to hearing a family of black people called every single racial epitaph ever invented, they are also forced to perform acts of humiliation and degradation at the hands of their captors. There’s also a scene where a little white boy (a friend of the black child) has his head beaten in by a rock! Not technically a “horror” movie, but one fucked up, terrifying film nonetheless.

Trailers for ALIEN and BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS.

7th and Final Movie:

197230.1020.A

That's a cheap looking alien!

That's a cheap looking alien!

SID HAIG'S arm has a mind of it's own.

SID HAIG'S arm has a mind of it's own.

ROGER CORMAN’S GALAXY OF TERROR, a low budget ALIEN ripoff epic that stars EDDIE (GREEN ACRES) ALBERT, ERIN (JOANIE LOVES CHACHI) MORAN, RAY (MR.HAND) WALSTON, ROBERT (FREDDY KRUEGER) ENGLUND and SID (JASON OF STAR COMMAND) HAIG! The set dresser on this movie was BILL PAXTON (before he started acting) and JAMES CAMERON was the Art Director (you can see how he honed his skills on TERMINATOR and ALIENS in this film).

The movie is about the crew of a spaceship that encounters a weird pyramid that kills everybody one by one, by transmitting their deepest fears into them. In the best scene in the movie, SID HAIG chops off his own “infected” arm, only to have the severed appendage throw a giant throwing star into his chest, killing him. Nice!

The only time during the evening I fell asleep was during the first 20 to 30 minutes of GALAXY OF TERROR and I’ve seen that one several times before. My girl Grae had to leave during FIGHT FOR YOUR LIFE, not because the movie was too much for her, but because she just couldn’t keep her eyes open anymore. But, Wendell and I made it to the end like we had promised ourselves we would and collected our “I survived the all night horror show” pin on the way out of the theatre. It was 8:00 A.M and time for some much needed sleep. Great times! Can’t wait for next year!

We survived the all night horror show!!!

We survived the all night horror show!!!

SLEEPAWAY CAMP and the “…TURN TO”!

October 13, 2009

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WARNING! THIS REVIEW CONTAINS ONE GIGANTIC SPOILER!

Back in 1983, one of the weirdest, cheesiest, funniest and downright craziest slasher films ever created was released on an unsuspecting world. It was called SLEEPAWAY CAMP and if you’ve never seen it before, WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU WAITNG FOR? It’s incredible!

The first time I saw it was back in my teenage years. My girlfriend at the time and I were at the local video store looking for a good horror movie to rent. As we scanned the aisles I stopped upon the box for SLEEPAWAY CAMP, which I had noticed many times before and had made a mental note to give it a shot. The artwork was really awesome, with the sneaker impaled with a bloody knife and the kid’s frightened letter home. It was way too intriguing to pass up, so we took it back to her parents house, popped it into the VCR and watched it with all the lights turned off in the basement. We were expecting something along the lines of a simple FRIDAY THE 13TH rip-off, that would be good for a few harmless scares and would be easy to make out to. Well, we got a lot more than we bargained for.

Last Thursday night in L.A., the Cinefamily held a double feature screening of SLEEPAWAY CAMP (the director’s own 35mm print was flown in from New Jersey) and it’s most recent sequel, RETURN TO SLEEPAWAY CAMP (2008) to kick off their slasher series, that will be going on every Thursday night, all month long. I was joined by the lovely GRAE DRAKE and GARIANA ABEYTA of THE POPCORN MAFIA and good old KATHY ZONIS, who was their cameragirl at last years COMIC-CON. She was the only one in our group who hadn’t seen SLEEPAWAY before and watching her reactions to it was priceless.

What is it like? If DAVID LYNCH’S brain were transplanted into the head of a low budget filmmaker from New Jersey back in the early 80’s, he would have made SLEEPAWAY CAMP. It’s a film that is not really well made at all, but manages to entertain as well as genuinely creep out the audience. Over the years it has built up a huge following of fans, whom speak of the film with great admiration. Much of this can be attributed to one of the most notorious and shocking “shock” endings ever filmed. But there are many other reasons to love SLEEPAWAY CAMP:

Angela and Ricky are ready to have lots of fun at Camp Arawak.

Angela and Ricky are ready to have lots of fun at Camp Arawak.

The most awesome pairing of two guys wearing shorts ever!

The most awesome pairing of two guys wearing shorts ever!

The most tweaked out performance I've ever seen belongs to this lady, who plays Angela's mom.

The most tweaked out performance I've ever seen belongs to this lady, who plays Angela's mom.

There are more half shirts and short shorts than any film in history and that's if you just count the guys.

There are more half shirts and short shorts than any film in history and that's if you just count the guys.

Lots of unconventional "kills" in this movie. When was the last time you saw someone use a beehive to murder somebody?

Lots of unconventional "kills" in this movie. When was the last time you saw someone use a beehive to murder somebody?

Camp owner Mel pays for his cheapness and dating underage girls with an arrow to the throat.

Camp owner Mel pays for his cheapness and dating underage girls with an arrow to the throat.

This image will be burned into your mind's eye for eternity after witnessing it fully.

This image will be burned into your mind's eye for eternity after witnessing it fully.

The film opens with a horrible boating accident that occurs at Camp Arawak, which judging from everyone’s “Joisey” accent, is located somewhere in upstate New York or perhaps in the garden state itself. Flash forward to five years later and the surviving child of the accident, Angela has been adopted by a crazy lady, who ties string to her fingers and has a few bizarre ideas about parenting as well. She sends Angela (FELISSA ROSE) and her new brother Ricky (JONATHON TIERSTEN) to the exact same place where Angela watched her dad get chopped up by a motor boat, Camp Arawak. As a result of the accident, Angela doesn’t speak very much, which makes her the target of all the camp bullies and the pedophile cook. One by one, they all meet a grisly end at the hands of a mysterious killer who’s stalking the camp. The highly creative murders range from being burned by a pot of boiling corn on the cob to having a beehive dropped in your lap while on the can. Normally, after the first murder, the camp would be closed and the children sent home. But Camp Arawak is run by a very cheap middle aged man named Mel (MIKE KELLIN), who keeps the murders under wraps, convinces the local sheriff (who sports the most obvious fake mustache ever) that they are all accidents and plans a rendezvous with Meg (an underage counselor). The bodies continue to pile up and the final “reveal” of the killer is something that is so absolutely insane, it blows the mind! If you’ve never seen it before and want to be surprised when you do, don’t look at the next photo because it’s an enormous spoiler!

HOLY FUCKING SHIT!!! SHE'S GOT A DICK!!!

HOLY FUCKING SHIT!!! SHE'S GOT A DICK!!!

I wonder if  ROBERT HILTZIK, the writer and director of SLEEPAWAY CAMP, ever realized how truly crazy the movie he was making is. There are so many weird characters in this film, it’s almost like the TWIN PEAKS of slasher movies. The overall tone has a pervasive feeling of cruelty and an undercurrent of weird sexuality that made me glad I never went to camp as a kid. Also, there has never been such an amazing collection of bad 80’s fashions ever featured in one film. Lots of half shirts and short shorts and that’s just what the guys are wearing!

After SLEEPAWAY there was a short break and when we came back, we were treated to a special screening of the long awaited followup film (the 4th official sequel. 5th if you count another unreleased sequel) RETURN TO SLEEPAWAY CAMP or “…TURN TO” as the cast and crew referred to it. You see, it just so happens that our good friend KATHY ZONIS is friends with one of the actresses from “…TURN TO”, JACKIE TOHN and she invited her to the screening. My friend BRIAN COLLINS, who has an awesome website called HORROR MOVIE A DAY, conducted a very funny, impromptu interview with her before the screening.

JACKIE TOHN is interviewed by BRIAN COLLINS about her work on "...TURN TO".

JACKIE TOHN is interviewed by BRIAN COLLINS about her work on "...TURN TO".

We enjoyed watching her die so much, we tried to kill her again outside the theatre.

We enjoyed watching her die so much, we tried to kill her again outside the theatre.

The "...TURN TO"!

The "...TURN TO"!

She talked about how seriously the returning director ROBERT HILTZIK took the production and how the cast took it the opposite way. She’s no stranger to working with shlocky filmmakers, considering she worked with UWE BOLL on the horror film POSTAL, which I still have to see. Her performance in this movie is really good and I almost didn’t want to see her die in it. Almost. I’ve actually seen “…TURN TO” before, when it was released on DVD from MAGNET. She said it was shot in 2003, but it just came out last year. I thought it was fun then, but watching it with an audience and a live “heckler” commentary from one of the stars was fantastic. At one point during the movie, Jackie was perplexed by her hairdo in the film and screamed out at the screen, “WHY DO I LOOK LIKE THAT!?”. It was a riot! She had never seen the film all the way through and afterwards she told us that it was a blast for her to watch with everyone. She even received huge applause after her death in the movie, which involved her head being wrapped up in barbed wire. Awesome!

Although “…TURN TO” is not quite the cultural zeitgeist nugget that the original is, it’s still a great deal of fun to watch. The plot involves another summer at the notorious camp, which is now called Camp Manabe ( Man-a- be, get it? Jackie told us that the director was very proud of himself for coming up with that one). This one centers on an obnoxious, disgusting fat kid named Alan, who’s viciously picked on by everyone. Once again, there’s a killer on the loose and nobody can figure out who it is. PAUL DeANGELO returns as Ronnie, the counselor from the original who only wears tank tops and the shortest shorts ever. He is joined by VINCENT PASTORE (Big Pussy from THE SOPRANOS) and ISSAC HAYES in a cameo as the “chef”. OH!

 Meet Alan, the obnoxious fat kid who lights his farts on fire.

Meet Alan, the obnoxious fat kid who lights his farts on fire.

The babes of "...TURN TO"! That's JACKIE TOHN on the far right.

The babes of "...TURN TO"! That's JACKIE TOHN on the far right.

Big Pussy and a "familiar" looking cop, who uses one of those cancer throat things to communicate.

Big Pussy and a "familiar" looking cop, who uses one of those cancer throat things to communicate.

ANGELA'S BACK!!! HOLY FUCK!!!

ANGELA'S BACK!!! HOLY FUCK!!!

The thing that I like the most about “…TURN TO” is that the cruelty from the original is back and has even been amplified to a higher level than before. Every character in the movie seems like they are on the brink of completely losing control. The Alan character is so horribly treated by his peers you would almost feel sorry for him, if he wasn’t such an unsympathetic freak. One moment I found to be particularly funny and cruel features Alan screaming in agony at the sight of a dead frog he loved, that was skinned alive by bullies. BRIAN COLLINS turned to me during that scene and said, “This is one of the meanest horror movies ever made”, in which I concurred.

It was a great time and the slasher retrospective will be going on every Thursday night, all month long at the Cinefamily. This Thursday is a triple feature of three high school slashers that include SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE, GRADUATION DAY and REDEEMER: SON OF SATAN. See you there.

MOPAR madness double feature and QT too!!!

October 7, 2009
09 bev QT

Polaroid by Cat.

I’ve been so busy doing crazy nerd stuff lately, I almost forgot to tell you about this very cool double bill at the New Beverly Cinema last week. It was a one night only screening of the European cut of QUENTIN TARANTINO’S DEATH PROOF (never before screened in the U.S.) and one of the greatest and most intelligent car chase movies ever made, VANISHING POINT (1971). Being a big fan of both films, as well as a HUGE gearhead, I had no choice but to jump behind the wheel of my own muscle car and race to the theatre to catch a double dose of MOPAR madness!

This is the white 1970 Dodge Challenger that is the star of both DEATH PROOF and VANISHING POINT.

This is the white 1970 Dodge Challenger that is the star of both DEATH PROOF and VANISHING POINT.

For those of you who are not in the know, MOPAR stands for MOtor PARts that are exclusively made by CHRYSLER and used on certain vehicles under the CHRYSLER, DODGE and PLYMOUTH banner, which had it’s heyday in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Cars like the CHARGER, SUPER BEE, ROAD RUNNER, DEMON, GTX, BARRACUDA, DUSTER and the CHALLENGER are all classic MOPAR’S that ruled the streets with their big block engines (440-6, HEMI), bright paint jobs (HEMI-ORANGE, SUB-LIME GREEN) and incredible designs and engineering. They were among the coolest and most badass muscle cars of that, or any other era in American automotive history. Drive one and you’ll understand why nothing beats Detroit metal and no imported tuner car can hold a candle to them.

The white 1970 DODGE CHALLENGER is a major part of both DEATH PROOF and VANISHING POINT. DEATH PROOF references VANISHING POINT a lot and is the reason ZOE BELL wants to ride on the hood of a CHALLENGER so much. The ’70 CHALLENGERS in both films are pushed to the limit of their awesome powers and are featured in incredible car chases.

Before DEATH PROOF started, we received a pretty awesome surprise. QUENTIN TARANTINO was in the house and came up to the stage to introduce his film. If you’ve never seen QT talk about one of his own movies before, his enthusiasm is infectious and makes you love the film in question even more.

QT revs up the New Bev crowd! Photo by Cat.

QT revs up the New Bev crowd! Polaroid by Cat.

QT is such a huge nerd that he actually wore his own costume from DEATH PROOF to the screening! He talked about how this was his cut of the film that was shown at Cannes in 2007 and released in Europe. He was very happy with the fact that DEATH PROOF is really loved and admired in France, where it is known as BOULEVARD DE LA MORT. After his intro, he took a seat in the packed theatre with the rest of us and we all sat back and watched DEATH PROOF. It was fucking great!

death-proof-alternate-movie-poster1

I loved DEATH PROOF back in 2007, when it was released as the second feature of GRINDHOUSE, along with ROBERT RODRIGUEZ’S PLANET TERROR. I remember thinking that it was not only the better overall film between the two, but that it was also the only thing about GRINDHOUSE that wasn’t a parody of some sort. I was expecting it to be a slasher movie with a car (which the first half is), but I didn’t expect it to turn into a cross between a 70’s car chase epic and a RUSS MEYER film (which the second half does brilliantly). It rounded out the whole GRINDHOUSE experience and elevated it to a level of high art, while totally appealing to my love for 80’s slasher films, hot girls and muscle cars, all in one film! I love how the first act (there are only two) is a slow build and you’re not really sure what’s going on until the big car crash, where Stuntman Mike’s motivations become all too clear. The final car chase is brilliant and exciting, but most importantly, it is a showdown between not one, but two of the greatest classic MOPAR’S ever created. THE 1970 DODGE CHALLENGER VS. THE 1970 DODGE CHARGER, which is the muscle car equivalent to KING KONG VS. GODZILLA!

Stuntman Mike has some serious sexual hang ups.

Stuntman Mike has some serious sexual hang ups.

He also shares a foot fetish with the director.

He also shares a foot fetish with the director.

A gearhead's wet dream of a car chase! '70 DODGE CHALLENGER VS. '70 DODGE CHARGER!

A gearhead's wet dream of a car chase! '70 DODGE CHALLENGER VS. '70 DODGE CHARGER!

After the movie, QT took the stage and conducted a 45 minute Q and A session, where he talked a lot about the film and how much he enjoyed making it. There were a few cast and crew members in attendance, including former Basterd, OMAR DOOM. All the great music from the Texas Chili Parlor scene is from QT’S own jukebox AMi, which is the one in the movie. He also said, that listening to the laughter and applause from the New Bev audience for his movie was music to his ears and he thanked us for that. I hadn’t seen DEATH PROOF in awhile and I must say that after watching it by itself in the theatre, it is truly a great movie. Next up was ZOE BELL’S favorite movie…

vanish

VANISHING POINT is about a man named Kowalski (played by BARRY NEWMAN) who takes a job to drive a brand new, white ’70 Dodge Challenger from Colorado to California. When he picks up some speed from his drug dealer for the trip, they make a crazy bet on how fast he can get there for the cost of the drugs. Almost immediately the cops are on his tail as he drives top speed through the state, but they can’t catch Kowalski in his killer Challenger and he becomes a folk hero with the aid of a blind disc jockey, played by CLEAVON LITTLE.

This is Kowalski! You can't stop him!

This is Kowalski! You can't stop him!

But they do try.

But they do try.

A naked hippie babe on a chopper!

A naked hippie babe on a chopper!

VANISHING POINT is like one long car chase of a movie with an existentialist riff on alienation and how freedom has been sacrificed for conformity in the post-industrial age. Seriously, this is one deep movie! Kowalski is a hero, simply because he refuses to stop for the police and I love the living shit out of it for that. The ending of this movie is the perfect statement of non-conformity. If you’ve never seen it before, you must!

That was one great double feature with an awesome surprise appearance by QT! Programming those two together was genius. Thanks again New Bev! Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to look through the latest Auto Trader for an old MOPAR to fix up!

Vanishing Point

Both D

I was TRICK ‘R TREATing, all weekend long.

October 6, 2009

trick-r-treat

On October 5th, 2007 the first horror anthology movie in quite awhile was supposed to be released theatrically by the folks at the WB. It wasn’t. Why, you ask? Well, it’s not because the movie isn’t very good. On the contrary, it’s excellent. It’s not because the movie was too expensive and that they wouldn’t make their money back, because it cost less than 15 million to make. It’s not because there wouldn’t be an audience for a horror film that takes place on and is released near Halloween, who’s only real competition is the latest SAW sequel, because I believe it would have done great. So why WB? WHY!? Why are you dumping this film on DVD with no fanfare except the cult-like buzz it has gotten by the few people who’ve been lucky enough to see it? I don’t know the answer to this, but I suspect it has something to do with the fact that studio execs are brainless idiots that are born without spines, guts, or balls. I mean, that’s got to be it, right?

The problem with TRICK ‘R TREAT is that it’s just too damn clever and a bit too original for a studio system that is only interested in marketing a pre-sold property. If TRICK ‘R TREAT was a remake or a sequel, or if it was based on a popular video game or graphic novel, then no problem. It would already be a franchise and therefore, a bankable property. But the WB can’t be expected to get behind something that’s new and original, because then they could possibly lose some of their precious money and then some executive douchebag might lose their job, which they don’t deserve anyway, so let’s greenlight that FRIDAY THE 13th remake/sequel instead and fuck what the people want, right? WRONG!

I saw TRICK ‘R TREAT a full year ago with a packed house of horror maniacs at a special screening held in Hollywood by the folks at AIN’T IT COOL NEWS and the reaction was phenomenal. I know others who saw it at the ’08 L.A. Screamfest and even before that at The Alamo Drafthouse’s annual BUTT NUMB-A-THON in ’07. After the success of these screenings, I thought for sure the WB would realize their error and release it theatrically the following October with all the bells and whistles. EPIC FAIL!

So now TRICK ‘R TREAT has finally seen the light of day on home video and I guess we should be thankful for that, but this a movie that really needs to be seen in a theatre with an audience, to be truly appreciated. Luckily, I live in L.A. and there were a few screenings of it at the two best revival theaters in the city, the New Beverly Cinema and the Cinefamily @ The Silent Movie Theatre, this past weekend. I attended both.

An awesome double bill @ The New Bev!

An awesome double bill @ The New Bev!

Michael Dougherty introducing his film to the Cinefamily.

Michael Dougherty gets a "hand" introducing his film to the Cinefamily.

Both screenings were a lot of fun! The Cinefamily threw a costume contest before the movie and I went as the DARK WIZARD (which won me 3rd prize and an autographed TRICK ‘R TREAT poster!), while my companion Grae Drake from The Popcorn Mafia went as a sexy ZOMBIE SCHOOL GIRL, with a pencil sticking out of her cheek. She looked awesome and did her own makeup too!

THE DARK WIZARD and ZOMBIE SCHOOL GIRL say, "Trick 'r Treat!"

THE DARK WIZARD and ZOMBIE SCHOOL GIRL say, "Trick 'r Treat!"

MICHAEL DOUGHERTY and ZOMBIE SCHOOL GIRL ate my beard!

MICHAEL DOUGHERTY and ZOMBIE SCHOOL GIRL ate my beard!

The New Bev featured TRICK ‘R TREAT on a double bill with one of the greatest horror anthology movies ever made, 1982’s CREEPSHOW. Both screenings included an introduction and Q and A from the director, MICHAEL DOUGHERTY, who seemed ecstatic over how well received his film was by both audiences.

Michael Dougherty introduces his movie at the New Bev.

Michael Dougherty introduces his movie at the New Bev.

The best way to describe TRICK ‘R TREAT is that it is an anthology film in the spirit of TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE, CREEPSHOW and THE TWILIGHT ZONE MOVIE, only presented in an non-linear narrative similar to PULP FICTION, that features interwoven characters and stories.

The first story centers on a school principal (played with dark humor by DYLAN BAKER), who happens to be a candy poisoning, child killer bent on teaching his son how to carve a pumpkin the “right” way.

I'd check that candy if I were you, kid.

I'd check that candy if I were you, kid.

The second story involves a prank thrown on an autistic girl that involves an old “legend” about a bus of mentally challenged kids that were driven off a cliff to their deaths. This segment is like THE GOONIES with a body count.

The WB execs had a hard time wrapping their skulls around this one!

The WB execs had a hard time wrapping their skulls around this one!

The third tale features a group of attractive, twenty-something girls who are throwing a costume party in the woods, so they can “feed” their animal instincts. ANNA PAQUIN is a virgin trying to find a date, dressed like Little Red Riding Hood. Virgins, vampires and werewolves. Oh my!

Four hot "bitches"!

Four hot "bitches"!

The final story is about a mean old man (BRIAN COX) who refuses to celebrate Halloween in any way, shape or form. No decorations, costumes or candy from him, just a lot of bad attitude. Unfortunately, SAM is a stickler for the rules of the holiday and makes sure they are being followed by all. This bizarre little creature serves as the film’s mascot (ala the Crypt Keeper) and in this story he proves to be a real menace to anyone who doesn’t want to play along.

Better get that candy ready, or else!

Better get that candy ready, or else!

TRICK ‘R TREAT is an instantly iconic horror movie for horror movie geeks, made by a horror movie geek. MICHAEL DOUGHERTY has created one of the most Halloween-ish movies about Halloween ever. Not even HALLOWEEN is as Halloween as TRICK ‘R TREAT! The incredible art direction by TONY WOHLGEMUTH and beautiful cinematography by GLENN MacPHERSON creates the most richly detailed setting I’ve ever seen. Every corner of the frame virtually explodes with amazing images of pumpkin patches, costume parades, and lavishly decorated neighborhoods where every house has a carved Jack-O-Lantern and all the kids are dressed as pirates, monsters and ghosts.

There is also a great deal of gore and a pervasive tone of mirth and malice that reminded me a lot of the kind of horror movies I grew up on in the 80’s. And that’s where those dummies at the WB had their biggest problem with the film. MICHAEL DOUGHERTY kills off 15 kids in this movie and I admire the balls it took to do that. We live in an age where the very thought of harming a child in a movie is considered taboo, even if the kid really deserves it. What puss-ified times we live in. It’s just a movie, people!

Following the TRICK ‘R TREAT screening at the New Bev, was a screening of the classic GEORGE ROMERO and STEPHEN KING collaboration, CREEPSHOW. I loved seeing it again so much and it complimented TRICK ‘R TREAT beautifully. CREEPSHOW still has a great deal of SCARE power left in it, as there were a lot of screams from the audience. The term, “they don’t make ’em like that anymore” would fit here, if it wasn’t for the fact that MICHAEL DOUGHERTY did do just that.

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To hell with renting TRICK ‘R TREAT, just go ahead and buy it. It’s worth it and trust me, you’ll be watching it every Halloween from now on. Just be sure to watch it with all the lights turned off and don’t forget to follow all the rules, or you might find yourself in trouble with SAM! Trick ‘r treat!

That's SAM hanging out at the New Bev's TRICK 'R TREAT screening.

That's SAM hanging out at the New Bev's TRICK 'R TREAT screening.