Archive for November, 2009

Herzog’s BAD LIEUTENANT is so good it almost makes me want to smoke crack!

November 26, 2009

WARNING! MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD!

Once in a great while, a movie comes along that is so insane, so crazy, so completely out of its mind wild, that you almost can’t believe what you are seeing. BAD LIEUTENANT: PORT OF CALL NEW ORLEANS (or THE BAD LIEUTENANT PORT OF CALL: NEW ORLEANS as it’s written in the opening title) is that movie! It’s the most delightfully cracked out movie about a crazed drug addict policeman I’ve ever seen in my life. It is not one of those so-bad-it’s-good movies at all. This movie is the result of some very talented artists getting together and having a great deal of fun making a really cool, weird, funny and surreal cop movie.

I don’t know if this is an actual remake of ABEL FERRARA’S brilliant 1992 BAD LIEUTENANT, which is an agonizingly hellish character study of an out of control cop, that is played with amazing intensity by HARVEY KEITEL. There are several similarities in both the plot structure and character details, but this new BAD LIEUTENANT is a much different beast altogether. The original was much more serious and there was very little sympathy for the protagonist, who wasn’t even given a name, but referred to only as The Lieutenant in the end credits.

The new BAD LIEUTENANT is named Terence McDonagh and is played with comic exuberance by NICOLAS CAGE, who hasn’t been this awesome since LEAVING LAS VEGAS. His career of late has been spotty to say the least, with a few great movies like ADAPTATION and LORD OF WAR, mixed in with a lot of big budget action fluff. It’s been awhile since he’s really cut loose in a role and he tears this movie up with his energy. This is the CAGE of VAMPIRE’S KISS and RAISING ARIZONA. The manic, funny and inventive CAGE who makes the most out of each take. His character is a man addicted to crack, coke, heroin, vicodin, gambling and sex, who abuses his power at every opportunity he gets, and yet he’s a very likable guy. Even though his methods are totally crazy and completely unpredictable, he’s a really good detective and he gets results, as he breaks every law imaginable in the process. CAGE’S performance is a tour de force! He should get 10 Oscars!

HARVEY KEITEL as the o.g. BAD LIEUTENANT, whom is quite different from...

NICOLAS CAGE'S BAD LIEUTENANT! Those old ladies deserve it, trust me.

How this movie came together is beyond me. I can’t imagine there’s been a clamoring for a BAD LIEUTENANT revisit over the 17 years since the first. When I first read that WERNER HERZOG was directing a remake, I thought “The legendary German filmmaker responsible for FITZCARRALDO, NOSFERATU, GRIZZLY MAN and RESCUE DAWN wants to do a reboot of BAD LIEUTENANT? Huh?” It’s an odd choice indeed, but HERZOG is an odd director and he has made a very odd film and I’m so glad of that. His BAD LIEUTENANT is given humanity right off the bat, where with the original you really have to search for something to feel sympathetic for.

NICOLAS CAGE and WERNER HERZOG must have had a blast making this movie.

The film starts off in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, with detective Terence McDonagh (CAGE) and his colleague (VAL KILMER) emptying out a fellow officer’s locker. They come across a criminal still locked in a flooding cell and in an act of heroism, McDonagh jumps in to save him, injuring his back in the process. He is prescribed vicodin by a doctor and when we see him a year later, he’s become a full blown addict who’s graduated to crack, coke and heroin. He also has a bad gambling problem that gets his bookie (BRAD DOURIF) a bit testy.

When he’s put in charge of an investigation to find whoever was responsible for a drug related multiple homicide (in the original it was a case involving the rape of a nun), he throws himself fully into the assignment. The movie then swings back and forth between CAGE’S working the case and engaging in his own criminal activities. One scene he’s interviewing a suspect and gathering clues, the next he’s robbing drugs from a young couple of club goers and forcing the guy to watch him fuck his girlfriend.

EVA MENDES is great as the BAD LIEUTENANT’S  hooker girlfriend. Despite the fact that their relationship is based on doing drugs together and ripping off her johns, they actually have a few very tender scenes together. There’s a moment they share concerning a hidden silver spoon that’s downright heartwarming. No shit!

FAIRUZA BALK shows up as a corrupt traffic cop with some really nice boots and BRAD DOURIF is typically terrific as CAGE’S bookie, whom unlike his character’s counterpart in the original, joins the rest of us in falling for the BAD LIEUTENANT’S charm. Also, the rapper XZIBIT turns out a really well executed performance as Big Fate the gangster. He too, is a totally likable scumbag.

EVA MENDES as the BAD LIEUTENANT'S girlfriend.

"Shoot him again, his soul is still dancing."

"Shoot him again, his soul's still dancing!"

There are individual scenes in the new BAD LIEUTENANT that are sheer brilliance. One of my favorites involves a crack hallucination CAGE has involving two iguanas, that’s set to an old blues tune. The scene just keeps playing out,  supremely confident in its own complete absurdity and I couldn’t stop laughing.

Another one involves a group of gangsters being shot down. CAGE, in the midst of another drug delusion, exclaims to the killers, “Shoot him again, his soul is still dancing!” The camera then pans over to someone dressed like the fallen gangster, breakdancing in the middle of the room. It’s fucking AMAZING!

The film was written by WILLIAM FINKELSTEIN and I’m curious if it was his intention to pattern it after the original BAD LIEUTENANT, or if it was an original idea and the marketing department attached it to the FERRARA film. There are a few similarities in the plot, but overall this is a far different film and stands on its own as a great piece of cop noir. FINKELSTEIN’S previous work as a television writer for NYPD BLUE, LAW & ORDER, L.A. LAW and COP ROCK have served him well and he has written a truly unique and funny film.

WERNER HERZOG’S direction is probably what sends this movie sailing over the fence the most. His attachment alone is what takes this film from being a simple cop thriller and turns it into an art-house masterpiece. It’s his genius in taking such care with the little moments, (like CAGE reading a child’s poem about a fish) that make this a much more enjoyable BAD LIEUTENANT than we’ve previously seen. Not that ABEL FERRARA’S film is any less great or powerful, it’s just a different sensibility with the exact same subject.

Which is why I’d like to see a BAD LIEUTENANT franchise develop out of this. My pitch is this: each new film is the exact same formula – drugged up Lieutenant tries to solve a case he’s assigned while on a self destructive gambling and crack binge. It’s a different city, director and lead actor each time. A franchise that continues to remake and take a new spin at the same storyline. I think that would be cool. BAD LIEUTENANT: LOS ANGELES directed by DAVID LYNCH and starring ROBERT DOWNEY JR.; BAD LIEUTENANT: DALLAS directed by the COEN BROTHERS and starring MATT DILLON; BAD LIEUTENANT: PARIS directed by ROMAN POLANSKI and starring GERARD DEPARDIEU; and BAD LIEUTENANT: MIAMI directed by LARS VON TRIER and starring DON JOHNSON (now that would be REALLY crazy!).

See BAD LIEUTENANT: PORT OF CALL NEW ORLEANS because it is an awesome piece of crazy independent cinema! It’s like smoking a rock out of your lucky crack pipe, without the withdrawls and iguanas. I leave you with trailers for both the original and the new one. Enjoy!

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THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL is a fun trip back in time to 80s horror!

November 20, 2009

If you were to stumble into a screening of the new horror film, THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL without knowing a thing about it, you might think you were watching some long lost horror gem from the early eighties, that was never released until now. Like something that a young TOBE HOOPER might have made before THE FUNHOUSE; or what WES CRAVEN might have done right after THE HILLS HAVE EYES; or what GEORGE ROMERO did in between KNIGHTRIDERS and CREEPSHOW. I’ve never seen a newly made film that so completely nails the tone, style and look of a horror movie from the period of the late seventies and the early eighties, the way this one does. The cinematography, costumes, hair, makeup, music, editing, pacing and performances, all feel like a movie made in 1982-83. It’s pretty amazing.

THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL is about a pretty college coed named Samantha (JOCELIN DONAHUE), who needs to make some fast cash baby sitting, so she can move into a new place. When she responds to an add on campus, a strange couple (TOM NOONAN and MARY WORONOV) make her a very generous offer to watch the wife’s sick mother for a few hours. As the evening goes on, suspense slowly builds to the discovery that she is to be the victim of a satanic ritual in celebration of a total eclipse of the moon!

The very hot and talented JOCELIN DONAHUE as Samantha.

JOCELIN DONAHUE after she's been through some shit.

The director is TI WEST, who’s next film is the forthcoming straight to DVD, CABIN FEVER 2: SPRING FEVER and after seeing THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL, I’m really looking forward to renting it. He’s made a pretty cool little horror film that combines the babysitter/home alone type psycho-dramas like WHEN A STRANGER CALLS with satanic ritual/supernatural suspense movies like ROSEMARY’S BABY and ALICE SWEET ALICE.

Everything in the film feels like it was shot in the eighties! From the opening period style credits to the feathered hair, high waisted jeans and giant walkman worn by the very talented lead actress JOCELIN DONAHUE, this film feels authentic as hell.

The music by JEFF GRACE is that perfectly creepy piano heavy stuff you’d hear in movies like BLACK CHRISTMAS and THE AMITYVILLE HORROR. It’s a very suspenseful score.

Lots of great casting, that includes a few veterans from that era. TOM (MANHUNTER) NOONAN and MARY (DEATH RACE 2000) WORONOV are great as the weird satan worshiping couple and DEE (THE HOWLING) WALLACE makes a brief appearance as the Landlady.

The movie has a lot of great atmosphere and builds a tremendous amount of suspense along the way, but it could have used a few more scares and a better ending. That’s okay though, because THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL scores a lot of points from me for sheer old school charm alone. I leave you with a few more of the many vintage style posters that have been made for this movie. Enjoy!

A RE-ANIMATED Birthday @ the New Bev!

November 19, 2009

“I must say, Dr. Hill, I’m VERY disappointed in you. You steal the secret of life and death, and here you are trysting with a bubble-headed coed.” – Herbert West

This last Saturday was my birthday and after a full evening of celebration, I capped it all off with a midnight screening of one of my all-time favorite horror-comedies from the 80s, RE-ANIMATOR at the New Bev! The place was packed with rabid horror fans and my friends were almost as excited as I was to check out it out on the big screen. I first saw RE-ANIMATOR on VHS back when I was a teen and later as a midnight movie at The Music Box Theatre in Chicago, when I was in college.

To make it all even COOLER, the director – STUART GORDON and Dr. Herbert West himself – the brilliant JEFFREY COMBS, were in attendance to introduce the film and do a Q and A!

Costume designer- Robin Lewis-West, Stuart Gordon and Jeffrey Combs.

The two are currently working together on a play called NEVERMORE, in which GORDON directs COMBS as EDGAR ALLEN POE. The show is running through the 19th of December at The Steve Allen Theatre in Hollywood and I can’t wait to see it.

STUART GORDON talked about how he adapted RE-ANIMATOR from a series of stories by H.P. LOVECRAFT and how he developed the script while directing stage theatre in Chicago. He was working with so many great actors, like JOE MANTEGNA and DENNIS FRANZ, he decided to make a movie. Someone suggested he write a horror film because they were easy to get financed and that got the ball rolling.

JEFFREY COMBS was asked what he thought of the new comic book that features HERBERT WEST and ASH from EVIL DEAD fighting each other. He said he didn’t feel they were doing him justice, but I think he was flattered.

COMBS also threw out some big props to costar BRUCE ABBOTT for helping him deliver such a great performance by being so wonderful to play off of.

If you’ve never seen RE-ANIMATOR before, check out this crazy-ass scene…

RE-ANIMATOR (1985) tells the tale of the eccentric Dr. Herbert West (JEFFREY COMBS), a brilliant medical student who has discovered a serum that can re-animate the dead and bring them back to life. Sort of. You see, the dead don’t like coming back to life and they violently destroy themselves, or whomever is near them, when they do.

When West rents a room with another med student named Dan (BRUCE ABBOTT), the experimentation revs up to full steam. Before long, West is bringing back Dan’s hot girlfriend’s (BARBARA CRAMPTON) cat back to life, as well as her dead father and all the cadavers in the morgue.

When the slimy Dr. Hill (DAVID GALE) decides to blackmail West and take the serum for his own, well let’s just say he looses his head over it, literally. Things get REALLY insane after that, including a scene that features a decapitated head performing oral on a bound and naked young coed. OH!

IT'S JUST SO DAMN WRONG!!!

Head crushing time!

"I hate your guts!"

RE-ANIMATOR is a wonderfully satisfying movie, from beginning to end! It is one of the nuttiest and wittiest gross out horror films ever made and features an iconic performance by JEFFREY COMBS as Herbert West. He OWNS the fuck out of this movie from the first scene!

The acting and script elevate RE-ANIMATOR to a level of high art and it won the critics award at Cannes the year it was shown.

Siskel and Ebert were divided on it, when they reviewed it on their show. Ebert loved it, but Siskel gave it a thumbs down. Later, he did a total 360 and recommended it when it was released on video, proving all critics are bullshit. Except me, of course.

The special effects are all in-camera and really deliver on the splatter-meter. It also has a very cool score from RICHARD BAND that borrows so much from BERNARD HERRMANN’S PSYCHO, he probably owes him a few bucks.

RE-ANIMATOR was always a perfect midnight movie and I’m so glad I got to see it with my friends on my birthday. I’d love to see STUART GORDON’S follow up, FROM BEYOND (another brilliant JEFFREY COMBS performance) grace the New Bev screen in the future (hint, hint). I WILL be seeing the GORDON/COMBS creative team in action on stage with NEVERMORE and I will report on that soon.

I’m a guest on THE POPCORN MAFIA this week!

November 17, 2009

Your very own PLANET OF THE NERDS (a.k.a. Michael Monterastelli) is the guest reviewer on the hilarious movie-review podcast, THE POPCORN MAFIA this week! I join co-hosts GRAE DRAKE and GARIANA ABEYTA to discuss the new films, THE FOURTH KIND and THE BOX. This is the second time I’ve been on the show and we all really cut loose on this episode, which is called DOUBLE KNOT NAMEPOCALYPSE. You can listen to me talk about why aliens don’t like giving oral at www.popcornmafia.com and you can also download the show on iTunes. If you’ve never heard the ladies before, they’ve got themselves one helluva funny program and it just got nominated for best movie podcast of the year! Good luck girls!

THE ROAD is worth traveling down.

November 14, 2009

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WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD!

I saw a sneak preview of THE ROAD last week at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood. I went with a group of friends, all of whom were anxious to see how faithful an adaptation it was to the Pulitzer Prize winning novel by CORMAC McCARTHY. I myself, had not read the book yet (I have since) and wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Months ago, I saw a horribly edited trailer for it, that completely got the tone and style of the movie wrong. It made it look like any other post-apocalyptic action thriller, which it definitely is not.

THE ROAD takes place in a dying America that is almost unlivable. How it got that way is a mystery, but it is clear that a major cataclysmic event has completely destroyed all life as we know it. The sun is constantly shrouded in a grey darkness and ash falls down from the sky like snow. Fires burn out of control in the forests and all plant and animal life are extinct, making it nearly impossible to find food. Packs of marauders roam the land searching for the sick, weak and less fortunate, to capture and consume. In order to survive you must keep moving, because nowhere is safe.

We are introduced to this world through the eyes of two of its inhabitants. VIGGO MORTENSEN is a nameless father who must protect his young son (KODI SMIT McPHEE) from the harsh environment he was born into, as well as he can. They must continue along a road, that will hopefully lead them to the coast and to some form of sanctuary.

They travel through freezing cold mountains, burning forests, abandoned cities and open fields where packs of starving refugees lie in wait to ambush others, so that they can rob and eat them. It is the bleakest of all worlds imaginable and it becomes apparent as the film goes on, that the possibility of the man and his son finding anything that even slightly resembles hope as being an unattainable quest. Their only defense against the “bad guys” is a revolver with just two bullets, which are being saved to use on themselves if all becomes lost and they are captured.

In a few flashbacks we learn of the man’s wife (played by CHARLIZE THERON) and her strong wish to not bring their child into this nightmarish world. After the birth, she argues that suicide is the only option to avoid the inevitable and eventually she leaves them, wandering off into the darkness and towards her own death. It is the father’s urgent desire to protect his family, that is the very reason he himself keeps going on.

And that is what the film and the novel are all about; a father’s love for his son and his drive to find a place of safety for him, even though it probably doesn’t exist. At times, the boy himself professes that they might be better off just giving up, and it becomes clear that if it wasn’t for him, his father would. Love can keep us going through the absolute worst.

VIGGO MORTENSEN and KODI SMIT McPHEE keep moving down THE ROAD.

VIGGO MOTRENSEN and KODI SMIT McPHEE keep moving down THE ROAD.

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An oppressively bleak environment to raise a son.

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A gang of marauders looking for something or someone to eat.

There is a scene early in the film, where the father and son are looking at a waterfall. The boy sees a faint rainbow in the falling water and points to it and says, “Colors.” He has never seen one before and his father says nothing in response. It’s his lack of explanation that stayed with me, long after seeing THE ROAD. Why explain to the boy what a rainbow is, when he’ll probably never see one again?

VIGGO MORTENSEN delivers another amazing, emotionally driven performance that is totally centered on his relationship with the boy. KODI SMIT McPHEE is perfectly cast as the child born in the aftermath of the armageddon. He is the father’s moral compass, constantly reminding him that they are the “good guys”. ROBERT DUVALL and GUY PEARCE are also featured in small, yet very effective roles.

The script was adapted by JOE PENHALL, who was very faithful to CORMAC McCARTHY’S  darkly poetic novel. He nailed it and stayed true to its deeper meaning.

JAVIER AGUIRRESAROBE’S cinematography is beautiful and it provides many nice long shots of the pair walking through the blighted landscape. The images are powerful and both familiar and alien, simultaneously.

JOHN HILLCOAT has directed one of the most realistic films ever made about the end of the world. You can’t help but be reminded of recent disasters like 9/11 and hurricane Katrina. The main characters live and dress themselves exactly like the homeless refugees of today. The image of them pushing a shopping cart down the road, which contains all of their meager possessions, hits pretty hard.

After the film, VIGGO MORTENSEN and JOHN HILLCOAT came out to discuss the movie and do a Q and A. They were very serious about making a true adaptation of the novel and talked a lot about how important the casting was for the boy. VIGGO started thinking of him like his own son after awhile and they bonded really well for the shoot.

A lot of the filming took place in the overcast Northwest of Washington State, but they also filmed in places that have had real disasters take place, like New Orleans and Mount St. Helens.

Almost everything from the book is in the movie, except for one very disturbing bit that was filmed, but cut because they felt it was just too much. It involves a deserted campsite the father and son find, that has the remains of a baby being cooked over a fire. Pretty rough stuff.

I’m glad this film is being released at Thanksgiving. After stuffing themselves with an abundance of food and fighting with their loved ones all day, people everywhere should go see this film. Perhaps it’ll make everyone feel a little more thankful we don’t live in a world like that… yet.

Demon night @ the New Bev!

November 4, 2009

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On Halloween, I went to the New Beverly Cinema to check out a demonic triple-feature of three awesome horror flicks from the 80’s, NIGHT OF THE DEMONS, DEMONS and DEMONS 2!

In the spirit of the holiday, I went as a Wizard, who specializes in Black Magic. When I arrived in line, I was relieved to find a couple of the other New Bev regulars had dressed up as well. My friend CAT was there as Wonder Woman and acting legend, CLU (RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, FEAST I, II, III) GULAGER was dressed as a Zombie-Cowboy.

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A Wizard, Wonder Woman and a Zombie-Cowboy. The new Justice League, perhaps?

The evening started with an introduction from director, KEVIN (WITCHTRAP) TENNEY before his film, NIGHT OF THE DEMONS. He seemed a little nervous about the quality of the print and the fact that the movie hadn’t played in front of an audience in over 20 years. He shouldn’t have been, because everything held up great!

First there were a few trailers: MADMAN (PLAY THIS, PLEASE!), JOHN CARPENTER’S HALLOWEEN, and CREEPERS (A.K.A. PHENOMENON)

Then our feature presentation…

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NIGHT OF THE DEMONS (1988) is about a group of wild teenagers who throw a party in a creepy, abandoned mansion on Halloween night. They decide to hold a seance for kicks, which unfortunately wakes up a sleeping demon, who takes possession of the party’s host, Angela. One by one, the kids are attacked and turned into vicious demons, ala EVIL DEAD.

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Angela is pretty fucked up! Even for a goth chick!

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LINNEA QUIGLEY is about to do what she does best.

While not winning any originality awards, NIGHT OF THE DEMONS is a fun, little horror-comedy from the golden age. It wins a lot of points by taking place on Halloween and making effective use of the holiday’s atmosphere. More points go to a pretty decent cast of actors that includes B-movie Queen, LINNEA QUIGLEY. She has one particularly memorable scene involving her often exposed breasts and a lipstick. Good gross-out gore and some nicely staged scares, combined with a wicked sense of humor, made this film a very enjoyable experience to watch with the New Bev crowd.

Afterwards there was a Q and A with KEVIN TENNEY and several members of the cast that included, HAL HAVINS (who played STOOGE, the fat obnoxious guy who wears a pig snout and tells everyone to “eat a bowl of fuck!”), PHILIP TANZINI (Max), JILL TERASHITA (Frannie-the hot Asian girl that gets nude!), ALVIN ALEXIS (Rodger-the black guy who lives!), and JAMES QUINN (he did all the Demon voices and is the star of WITCHTRAP). They all shared stories about how much fun they had making this low budget film. HAL HAVINS stole his famous line from the great JOHN BELUSHI. JILL TERASHITA insisted on re-shooting her nude scene because she thought her acting was terrible and told TENNEY, “I’m already naked in the movie. I don’t want to be naked and suck too.”. Actor ALVIN ALEXIS flew in from N.Y. for the screening and is very proud that he is one of the few African americans that actually survives in a horror movie.

NIGHT OF THE DEMONS director, KEVIN TENNEY.

Director, KEVIN TENNEY.

HAL (STOOGE) HAVINS, JILL (FRANNIE) TERASHITA, PHILIP (MAX) TANZINI, ALVIN (RODGER) ALEXIS, KEVIN TENNEY and JAMES QUINN.

HAL HAVINS, JILL TERASHITA, PHILIP TANZINI, ALVIN ALEXIS, KEVIN TENNEY and JAMES QUINN.

There was a short break and then actress GERETTA GERETTA came out and introduced DEMONS. She talked about how great it was to work with LAMBERTO BAVA and how they filmed most of the interiors in Rome and exteriors in Berlin. The movie was made by Americans, Italians and Germans, so everyone was speaking different languages all the time, including the actors. She also reminisced about living in Italy and working with legendary horror filmmaker, LUCIO FULCI.

Trailers for upcoming attractions at the New Bev: NEAR DARK, DEATH WISH III and JOHN CARPENTER’S THEY LIVE. Then…

demons

DEMONS (1985) is one of my all time favorite Italian horror films. It was directed by LAMBERTO BAVA (MARIO’S son) and produced and co-written by the master of Italian horror himself, DARIO ARGENTO. It centers around a group of strangers that are all randomly invited to the screening of a horror film at a brand new theatre called the METROPOL. Once the film begins, audience members start turning into violent demons and begin attacking other guests. A team of survivors (led by a pimp) band together to fight the demons off and escape the cinema, so they may warn the outside world (if it’s not too late).

GERETTA GERETTA goes all demon on everyone!

GERETTA GERETTA is going all demon on everybody!

HOLY SHIT! DEMONS!

HOLY SHIT! DEMONS!!!

DEMONS is one of the most fun horror movies to watch in a movie theatre, because it actually takes place in a movie theatre. I originally saw this movie on VHS and then later as a midnight movie at the MUSIC BOX THEATRE in Chicago, way back in the day. This is the third time I’ve seen it at the New Bev and it’s a treat to experience it with that crowd. You gotta love any horror film that has the hero chopping demons up with a samurai sword, while riding a motorcycle. This movie is filled with throat ripping, eye gouging, puss squirting good times and has a wonderful shock ending that happens while the credits are rolling!

Next were trailers for FRIGHT NIGHT II, HOUSE II: THE SECOND STORY and THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2 (PLAY THIS ONE TOO, PLEASE!)

Then our final feature of the evening…

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DEMONS 2 (1986) takes place in a luxury apartment building and once again the demons start pouring out of the woodwork, this time because of a horror movie playing on everyone’s television. It’s up to a new band of survivors to make a stand against the demonic hoard!

A demon comes right out of the T.V.!!! Time to switch to dish!

A demon is coming out of the T.V.! Time to switch to dish.

DEMONS 2 is a very fun follow-up to the original. Setting it in a huge apartment building definitely makes this feel like a bigger film and it’s got a lot more demons on hand than the last one. It also brings back actor BOBBY RHODES, who played Tony the pimp in DEMONS. In DEMONS 2 he plays Hank the gym instructor and he leads a group of tank top and short shorts wearing, muscle heads against the savage demon attack. Also, a very young ASIA ARGENTO is featured and terrorized for the first time by one of her father’s creations.

I couldn’t think of a better way to spend Halloween, than at the New Bev watching horror movies! A great night and thankfully, not one audience member turned into a demon. Trick or treat!

Slasherpalooza @ The Cinefamily: Victor Crowley, Shakma and Bigfoot! Oh my!

November 2, 2009

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This last Thursday, the Cinefamily ended their awesome slasher series with a SLASHERPALOOZA of three of the most gonzo slashers they could find. I attended, along with a huge posse of movie maniacs, who were all in the mood for an evening of blood and guts! The show began with a screening of ADAM GREEN’S incredibly entertaining homage to old school horror, HATCHET (2007). In attendance was the director himself, ADAM GREEN, who introduced the movie to the excited crowd.

But before the feature, we were treated to two of the video shorts that he makes in his spare time with other horror filmmaker friends. First was JACK CHOP, an infomercial spoof that he made with GRACE director, PAUL SOLET. It involves a high energy cable TV pitchman, who repeatedly injures himself violently with his product, the Jack Chop. It was pretty FAKIN’ hilarious!

The second short was THE TIFFANY PROBLEM and featured HATCHET star JOEL DAVID MOORE as a thirty year old husband obsessed with trick or treating on Halloween. It also featured JOEL (Bill’s brother) MURRAY from HATCHET. Very twisted, funny stuff.

It is clearly evident in these two shorts and his first feature, that ADAM GREEN has a great sense of humor and really knows how to craft a good gore-comedy.

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Adam Green intros HATCHET.

I saw HATCHET back in ’07 at the first midnight screening at the Arclight Hollywood, which was also introduced by ADAM GREEN. It’s about a group of New Orleans tourists that go on a haunted swamp tour, where they are stalked by a local legend named Victor Crowley, played by KANE (JASON) HODDER. Victor Crowley is a deformed mutant of a man who likes to bury a hatchet in the skull of anyone trespassing in his swamp.

HATCHET is filled with copious amounts of nudity, blood and gore. The kills are totally over the top, with jets of blood pumping everywhere. Heads are twisted off, bodies torn in two with the guts hanging out, faces ripped apart with power tools and limbs hacked off with sharp implements!

Wow, that's pretty fucked up!

Wow, that's really fucked up!

JOLEIGH FIOREAVANTI has her beautiful face mutilated with a belt sander.

JOLEIGH FIOREAVANTI has her beautiful face mutilated with a belt sander.

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Victor Crowley even killed the director, ADAM GREEN!

It also has a great sense of humor that doesn’t take itself seriously at all. The film is very much a love letter to the kind of slasher flicks I grew up with as a kid. I can see lots of FRIDAY THE 13TH, THE BURNING, MADMAN and JUST BEFORE DAWN influences in HATCHET. It’s major fun to watch this movie with an enthusiastic audience of horror fans.

After the film there was a Q and A with ADAM GREEN and two of the lovely ladies of HATCHET, TAMARA FELDMAN (Mary Beth) and JOLEIGH FIOREAVANTI (Jenna). It was moderated by MARCUS DUNSTAN, who is one half of the writing team responsible for FEAST I, II, and III and SAW IV, V, and VI. He also cowrote and directed the overlooked and really awesome, THE COLLECTOR from this year.

Adam Green is interviewed by Marcus (THE COLLECTOR) Dunstan.

ADAM GREEN is interviewed by MARCUS (THE COLLECTOR) DUNSTAN.

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Composer ANDY GARFIELD, JOLEIGH FIOREAVANTI, TAMARA FELDMAN and ADAM GREEN during the Q and A

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My two new girlfriends, Tamara and Joleigh!

ADAM GREEN talked about how he made HATCHET by “borrowing” the equipment from his day job of shooting local infomercials and filming most of it at night. They didn’t have enough equipment to do any backlighting and that’s why the characters only run a few feet away from the monster and then stop to get their bearings. I actually thought that was a conscious choice, because it works at giving that old school low budget feel, as well as being very funny.

He also discussed how he is currently working on HATCHET 2 for next year! He said it’s being made for the fans who really loved the first one, like me. If all goes well, it’s going to pick up where the last one ended and he promises that it will be even gorier than previously before, as long as those MPAA pussies don’t fuck with it too much. I’m looking forward to seeing more killings from Victor Crowley in the future!

On most nights this would have been plenty for even the most jaded horror fans, but the evening was just getting started, for many had turned out to see one of the greatest killer baboon movies ever made, SHAKMA! Watch this trailer and maybe you’ll understand a little, why this film is so awesome…

SHAKMA (1990) tells the story of a group of med students that lock themselves inside their school one night, so they can play an elaborate D&D type game with their professor, the game master (pronounced gay master and played in an extremely affected manner by RODDY McDOWALL). Unfortunately Shakma, one of the highly aggressive baboons that are used for experiments, accidently gets shot up with a drug that makes him completely psychotic and he’s loose in the building! Just like a slasher, SHAKMA picks them off one by one.

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SHAKMA!!!

The film stars two time recipient of the National Association of Theatre Owner’s Star of the Year Award, CHRISTOPHER (BLUE LAGOON, A NIGHT IN HEAVEN) ATKINS, AMANDA (A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET) WYSS, ARI (KATE AND ALI) MEYERS and … SHAKMA!!!

Shakma was actually played in real life by TYPHOON the baboon, who is the REAL STAR of this film. It is one of the most pissed off simians I’ve ever seen and there is a lot of footage of him running, jumping and smashing himself against doors, trying to get at his victims.

One of the tricks the animal wranglers used to make TYPHOON go nuts, was by taking a female baboon in heat and teasing the horny star with her, off camera. TYPHOON would go after the female like a crazed tornado and that’s what they filmed. If you look closely, you can see that Shakma’s sporting wood in a few shots.

I saw SHAKMA once before, over a year ago at The Cinefamily, and it was probably one of my favorite experiences of seeing a movie with an audience, ever. The crowd reaction made it a true cult experience and the film is just sooooo much fun to watch. You could make a drinking game out of how many times it sounds like they are referring to RODDY McDOWALL as the gay master, alone.

CHRISTOPHER ATKINS’ way over the top performance is a joy to behold. He really hams it up at the end, when he goes mano a baboono with SHAKMA in a fight to the death!

It would be very difficult to top these first two films, but somehow the Cinefamily did with this…

“This film will rip your dick off.” – Hadrian Belove, head programmer of The Cinefamily

NIGHT OF THE DEMON (1980) is a rarely seen film about a killer Bigfoot massacring campers in the woods. It was never given a theatrical release and only exists as a VHS from 1980.

It tells the tale of Professor Nugent and his students, who embark on a journey to locate Bigfoot, whom is believed to be responsible for countless deaths. They disturb a Black Magic ritual and eventually uncover the truth about Bigfoot, and his mutant offspring, but will they survive to tell anyone?

This movie was ape-shit crazy and contains some of the most fucked up kills I’ve ever seen! It is a true slasher movie with a Sasquatch killer, taking people out in outrageously violent manners. One guy even gets his dick ripped off by the nasty beast! Just check out what he does to these two poor girl scouts….

And yes, there is also a scene where a woman is attacked and raped by Bigfoot! Later, she gives birth to a mutant baby Bigfoot and the scene is an amazing combination of goofy and totally fucked up. My brain is still spinning from it.

We were all a little stunned and exhausted by what we had just witnessed, as we made our way out of the theatre at 2:30 A.M. SLASHERPALOOZA was amazing fun and a great way to end a fantastic series! SHAKMA!!!