Archive for September, 2010

I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE REMAKE: This is definitely not a date movie!

September 22, 2010

MINOR SPOILERS.

Last night, I attended a sneak preview screening of the remake of the 1978 rape revenge classic, I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE. I saw the original film only once when I was 12 years old in my friend’s basement on an old pop up loading VCR. The grimy little exploitation flick disturbed me on such a visceral level, that to this day I have been unable to even attempt to try to watch it again.

When I walked into the New Beverly Cinema to see the updated version, my stomach was filled with knots. Everything that I had heard had told me to expect this to be even more brutal than the first. I can remember only certain details about the original. The rape scene in particular was absolutely gut wrenching to watch and the bathtub castration made me wince for about a month afterwards. I was prepared to be completely and utterly disturbed, and I was, but in a manner I didn’t think I would be.

The story is a simple one. Jennifer Hills (Sarah Butler) is an attractive young writer from the big city who has rented a remote cabin in the woods to work on her new novel. One stop at a local gas station attracts the attention of a depraved group of country bumpkins, led by a lascivious gas attendant named Johnny (Jeff Branson).

There is a really well structured build up to what we all know is going to inevitably happen to her. The movie takes its time in creating an atmosphere of tension and then it unleashes its violence at you in such an overwhelming way, I almost couldn’t bare it. The rape scene is horrifying, disgusting and grueling to watch, but what happens to Jennifer afterwards is even more unsettling than I could have imagined.

The bumpkins are all perfectly played monsters. Jeff Branson and Daniel (MEAN GIRLS, BULLY) Franzese are excellent at making the audience wish them the most violent retaliation possible. But it’s the performance of Andrew Howard as Sheriff Storch that really makes the film enter into another realm of unease. He appears at first as a savior when Jennifer manages to momentarily escape her attackers, only to become the spider that has recaptured her in his web for the other insects to feed on. The performance is nuanced in such a way as to actually make you think the guy is a decent family man who truly loves his wife and daughter. There is a brilliantly written moment where he answers a call from his child while the rape plays on in the background that sent chills down my spine. His character is one of pure evil disguised as the protective guardian and doting family man. What makes it even more fucked up is that we actually believe he’s a great dad and husband to two women while savagely destroying another.

After she is beaten and gang raped, Jennifer escapes her attackers by plunging herself into the lake below. There is a great deal of tension among the perpetrators as to whether or not she’s still alive, followed by the tying up of loose ends (that includes the murder of the only nice hick represented on the screen – character actor Tracey Walters as Earl). Then the men continue on with their mundane backwoods lives, but this a revenge film and these bastards have a lot to answer for. And they do.

The character of Jennifer Hills and the intense performance by Sarah Butler is what really sets this film apart from the ’78 film and other subsequent tales of rape and revenge like THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT. Even Ms. 45 would give her pause when she starts to take these guys out in absolutely the most sickening and depraved ways imaginable. I couldn’t help but think that she herself has become as big a monster as they were. The murders of these scumbags is deserved, but the ferocity and incredibly intricate designs of torture and death she devises makes you think that this woman has taken all the violence she’s experienced and turned it into something beyond mere retaliation. She goes through a transformation that leaves the audience not so much rooting for her, as stunned by her own lack of morality in her hunger for vengeance. She’s been damaged so severely, that she herself has become one of them and this as unsettling as anything else in this bleak, yet powerful film. It will be released unrated on October 8th. Don’t bring a date.

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EVERYTHING IS FESTIVAL @ The Cinefamily!

September 1, 2010

Last weekend’s EVERYTHING IS FESTIVAL mondo pop culture explosion at THE CINEFAMILY was filled with so many images that went beyond the limits of my cerebral cortex’s capabilities of comprehension, I’m still trying to sort them out inside my cracked, bleeding brain. I bought myself a weekend pass and made it a point to see everything, which started on Saturday at 5:00 P.M. with a found footage presentation by our curator GHOUL SKOOL and the rest of the crazy people at EVERYTHING IS TERRIBLE. They gathered together before a sold out crowd to grind our brains into mush with a nonstop assault of eye terrorism.

It began with a musical montage of rednecks at a motorcycle rally that featured lots of ghastly images of the biker culture set to the tune, “Don’t Tread On Me.” From there it was a hodgepodge of insanity that featured a series of clips involving a group of duck hunting hillbillies who bite the heads off the poor deceased fowl after blowing them out of the sky. A preacher speaking in tongues with his parish, that escalates into complete nerve-jolting pandemonium. A compilation of clips featuring a self motivational guru named PAUL CRICK, who sports the electrifying catch phrase, “Killin’ it!”  But my favorite was a series of subversively dark and demented sketches from a twisted demon/genius named BLACKMAGIC ROLLERCOASTER. One of his clips featured God filming something on a video camera in Heaven. It was so monstrously disturbing, there is no way I can describe it to decent humans. Many other moments of brain hemorrhaging madness were seen as well, but those were some of the highlights.

The random clips portion was followed by a screening of the EVERYTHING IS TERRIBLE movie sequel 2 EVERYTHING 2 TERRIBLE II: TOKYO DRIFT. It was introduced by GHOUL SKOOL and his crew of mind assassins, who came out in full costume and performed a ritualistic sacrifice to appease the video gods while surrounded by three manmade pyramids comprised of old JERRY MAGUIRE VHS cassettes. It was as if something had spilled over from another dimension and into the Cinefamily screening room like that Philadelphia experiment incident. Or like someone laced the beer with some kind of peyote/LSD/animal tranquilizer combo designer narcotic and we were all having awesome group hallucinations. Or like that orgy scene in EYES WIDE SHUT if it were shot on the surface of an alien planet. One thing was for sure, the apocalypse had begun and I was perfectly fine with it.

2 EVERYTHING 2 TERRIBLE II: TOKYO DRIFT was a little like watching another amazing pop culture bouillabaisse I saw and reported about before called THE MOVIE ORGY, which was a four hour plus collection of baby boomer era footage edited with counterculture irony by the great JOE DANTE and JON DAVISON back when they were in college. TOKYO DRIFT is the Generation X version on crack. An amazing collection of visual absurdities pieced together so lucidly, that like a giant mutant tumor overtaking its host, it formed itself into its own genre of film.

This was followed by a rare 35mm screening presented by the legendary ALAMO DRAFTHOUSE’S own ZACK CARLSON of the insane kung fu exploitation masterpiece MIAMI CONNECTION. ZACK delivered an appropriately passionate sermon on his love for this mind roaster of a movie that got the crowd really pumped up. It was directed by a man named WOO-SANG PARK who’s also responsible for something called NINJA TURF (A.K.A. L.A. STREETFIGHTERS) that is playing in September at THE CINEFAMILY as well.

Before the movie began, ZACK treated us to a few vintage exploitation trailers from his collection that included: THUNDER COPS – an awesome looking Asian film that had about five different genres competing with each other at once. Part action-cop movie, part zombie film, part ghost story, part martial arts flick and part screwball comedy, all in one epic film. There was a clip featuring a woman’s decapitated head being chased around an apartment building by a squadron of remote controlled helicopters that was fucking sublime in its insanity. This was followed by a trailer for another chop sockey flick called THE LUCKY SEVEN, which is about a team of kung fu fighting children going head to head against adult ninjas and they really kick the shit out of each other! They just don’t make kids movies like that in Hollywood. The final trailer was for something called THE SECRET OF THE MAGIC CASTLE that stars an all animal cast and features a “villainous space age monkey!”

MIAMI CONNECTION was co-directed and stars a guy named Y.K. KIM, who is a fortysomething martial artist with the crudest grasp of the English language (or possibly ANY language) I’ve ever heard before. He co-wrote the film so that his lack of knowledge of human conversation could then be committed to screen by an amazing cast of inexperienced actors. The results are magical.

MIAMI CONNECTION was shot and takes place completely in Orlando, Florida. I think Miami is mentioned a couple times. ORLANDO CONNECTION just doesn’t have the same ring that MIAMI CONNECTION does. The plot involves a group of guys in their late thirties to mid-forties whom all live in the same house together, perform in a band called DRAGON SOUND together, practice martial arts together and attend high school together. It is there that they get into some trouble with a drug dealing gang member because he doesn’t like his sister hanging out with them (can you blame him?). This begins some kind of crazy grudge between the band and the gang that escalates into a street war where the stakes are anybody’s guess.

This completed the first day of the fest, but I returned early the next day for more brain damage. It began with a special presentation of found footage from DAN HARMON & ROB SCHRAB, the hilariously creative team responsible for HEAT VISION AND JACK & THE SARAH SILVERMAN PROGRAM, to name a few.

They showed us all an amazing hodgepodge of weirdness that included: A racist BENNY HILL clip that features the naughty British comic playing MR. T in blackface for an A-TEAM spoof called THE B-TEAM. A series of inept homemade horror anthologies called VAMPIRE VIGNETTES that were hosted and created by a local Wisconsin man named PAUL KNOP. These crudely made “films” were shot on a camcorder and apparently funded with money made from amateur foot fetish videos. But my favorite was a videotaped “talent” show that takes place in the middle of a midwestern mall and featured a man singing an “original” birthday song of his own composition to his traumatized eight year old son. Great stuff!

The final event of the festival was the Found Footage Battle Royale. It featured 16 contestants going head to head with their favorite crazy video clips. They were all split into pairs of two and the audience voted on which clip they liked the most. The winner of that round then moved on to the final round and much like Thunderdome: two men enter, one man leaves. The winner was some guy from Wisconsin who showed us a cable access exercise program hosted by an 80 year old man. It’s called STAYING FIT WITH JIM and apparently the guy’s been doing the show for over twenty years now in Wisconsin with a camcorder in his basement. Believe me, it deserved to win!

By the end of EVERYTHING IS FESTIVAL a third eye had grown in the middle of my forehead and it was bleeding green puss from all the nonstop video voyeurism I had been a part of. It was a mind-shitting experience I’ll never forget and I must give big thanks to everyone involved with this amazing event! Nerd out!

 

Thumbs up for a job well done, GHOUL SKOOL!