Posts Tagged ‘cinefamily’

BIRDEMIC: SHOCK AND TERROR @ THE CINEFAMILY

April 14, 2010

“A platoon of eagle & vultures attack the residence of a small town. Many people died. It’s not known what caused the flying menace to attack. Two people managed to fight back, but will they survive Birdemic? Does anybody care?”- IMDB plot description for BIRDEMIC: SHOCK AND TERROR.

It’s hard to believe that in 2009, the same year which gave us the ground breaking, game changing, visual benchmark that is AVATAR, another film could come along that rivals its achievements with the exact opposite results. That film is BIRDEMIC: SHOCK AND TERROR, a new “romantic thriller”™ (that’s the filmmaker’s trademark. No lie!) by “visionary” writer and director JAMES NGUYEN, who is another in a growing list of bad movie auteurs making it “big” these days.

There’s the late JOHN RAD and his brilliantly awful, decade spanning, action movie epic, DANGEROUS MEN. Then you’ve got the now-famous TOMMY WISEAU and his enormously successful relationship-piece nightmare, THE ROOM. Last year, in addition to BIRDEMIC, we were also introduced to the mysterious newcomer MARK REGION and his inexplicable science fiction “thriller”, AFTER LAST SEASON (which just has to be seen to be believed. I saw it and I still can’t believe it). And now the soiled, tattered red carpet can be rolled out for one JAMES NGUYEN and his environmentally conscious horror film, BIRDEMIC: SHOCK AND TERROR.

The Cinefamily has been showing this film a lot lately and I’ve been able to see it twice now. It began growing a cult following last year when it screened in several cities, including Austin and New York and comedians PATTON OSWALT and TIM AND ERIC have been ballyhooing it a great deal. SEVERIN plans on releasing it on DVD in the near future, but it’s something that really has to be enjoyed with an audience that are preferably in an inebriated state of consciousness.

BIRDEMIC tells the story of Rod (played with an overwhelming malaise by ALAN BAGH), who is having the greatest day of his life. He meets the girl of his dreams, Nathalie (portrayed with a lazy sexual vapidness by WHITNEY MOORE), whom he makes a dinner date with.

He then drives his hybrid plug-in Mustang to his computer software job, stopping first to fill up his tank (we watch him perform this activity, completely unrelated to the plot, in real time). Once he’s in his cubicle, he closes a big deal for “one million dollars”. High five!

If that wasn’t enough awesomeness for one day, he learns in a big meeting, that the company he works for has just been sold for “one billion dollars” and with his stock options, he’s gonna be rich! After the longest applause break ever recorded on film, Rod decides to show his date the night of her life.

They share a wonderful dinner, where they fully connect on every level, and then retire to a local motel to consummate their evening by making love to each other. Following the most innocuous, awkwardly staged and horribly lit love scene ever filmed, the two fall asleep under the stars in Half Moon Bay, California. And that’s when all feathered HELL breaks loose!

A swarm of angry eagles and vultures, driven crazy by pollution and the depleting ozone layer, attack the small town in a violent rampage. Armed with wire hangers and eventually automatic weapons, Rod and Nathalie fend off the winged antagonists and lead a small band of survivors to safety.

BIRDEMIC is like watching a big rig truck jacknife on the freeway in super-slow motion for 45 minutes and then WHAM!, the cab bursts open and a bunch of midgets dressed like geishas jump out and start break dancing! The pace is freakishly slow for the first half of the film, as it concentrates on the most uninteresting protagonist ever and just when you’re ready to say “UNCLE!”, the screen is filled with the worst computer effects you’ve ever seen. The “birds” look like they were created on an old Commodore 64 and there’s almost no setup for this plot shift at all, except for a few random television reports. The film is like a weird homage to Alfred Hitchcock’s THE BIRDS, with the green Earth message thing thrown in for flavor.

BIRDEMIC’S got it all. Across the boards bad acting? Check. The worst sound design ever recorded? Check. Cinematography by a blind fool with no concept of screen composition? Check. A cheesy musical score performed on a Casio? Check. Lethargic action sequences and cheap ass effects? Check. A random musical number that had the whole audience singing along, “Just hanging out with my family, having ourselves a parrrrrr-ty.” ? Check and mate.

JAMES NGUYEN was at the Cinefamily for a Q and A, last weekend. Not surprisingly, he’s been at all the Cinefamily screenings so far. He’s a 42 year old Vietnamese native, who financed the entire production with the salary from his computer software job and it was filmed over a period of five years. Christ on a cracker!

New crap-teur JAMES NGUYEN

It seems like suck-cess has gone to MR. NGUYEN’S head because he appeared slightly intoxicated at the Q and A and I detected a hint of arrogance in some of his answers. Oh well, it was bound to happen sooner or later, I guess. He is the ORSON WELLES of shit, after all. Nerd out!

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BAD BIOLOGY @ The Cinefamily

February 11, 2010

I’ve been a very busy nerd lately and have been neglecting my blogging duties as of late. Between the holidays and a new low budget horror film that I’ve been working crew on, I’ve had a hard time keeping up with events. This past weekend I finally managed to crawl out of my bunker and make my way to the Cinefamily for an evening of mondo-movie madness!

I’ve always had a perverse crush on the sleazy little horror films made by MR. FRANK HENENLOTTER. BASKET CASE 1, 2, 3, FRANKENHOOKER and BRAIN DAMAGE are among some of my favorite all-time midnight horror flicks. His combination of social satire, sexual discovery and gooey lo-fi prosthetic monsters, all filmed with the backdrop of some of the seediest locations that New York City has to offer, has always made me regard him as a cross between DAVID CRONENBERG and a porn peddler.

It’s been about 15 years since he’s directed a film, but the exploitation cinema equivalent to TERENCE MALICK has come out of retirement with a new movie to melt your brains with. It’s called BAD BIOLOGY and I was lucky to catch a viewing with none other than HENENLOTTER himself in the house! Check out the trailer…

BAD BIOLOGY is in every way, shape and form a HENENLOTTER film. Its plot centers around a guy named Batz (ANTHONY SNEED) who’s having a hard time finding enough drugs to keep his giant mutant penis at bay. He meets up with a girl named Jennifer (CHARLEE DANIELSON) who has 7 clits and usually ends up killing her lovers during sex. Afterwards, she gives birth to a screaming mutant fetus, which she promptly throws in the nearest dumpster. Will these two sexual freaks get together and finally find happiness? Of course not, it’s a HENENLOTTER film!

I laughed and gagged my way through this movie at every turn. The plot is insane. The acting ranges from decent to amateur. The special effects are cheesy and totally old school prosthetics, including an amazing sequence that involves the detached mutant penis literally hammering its way through floorboard after floorboard of an apartment building, in an all night raping spree!

There’s also a lot of great humor that comes from a strange sort of hip-hop vibe that permeates the movie. There are several cameos from white rappers like JZONE and REMEDY and the co-writer and producer is a rap guy named R.A. (The Rugged Man) THORBURN. Also, PRINCE PAUL (from De La Soul) does the score.

There is a scene where the main guy eavesdrops on a table of teenagers talking about sex in a fast food place. The writing and performances are so brilliantly funny and the humor is soooooo inappropriate, I immediately recognized it as pure genius. This is one fucked up, funny and clever little love/monster story.

This scene KILLED me! The acting and the writing is GENIUS!

After the film, there was a great Q and A with FRANK HENENLOTTER, R.A. THORBURN, and star ANTHONY SNEED. They talked about how they shot the film without permits, all over New York and Brooklyn. HENENLOTTER said he came up with the story one day when he was reading about a bunch of fetuses that had been turning up in the trash around N.Y. He decided to write a movie about a single woman who’s responsible for all of them, because she has a mutant vagina. Interesting insight into a creative mind.

FRANK HENENLOTTER - the TERENCE MALICK of sleazy prosthetic monster horror.

R.A THORBURN, FRANK HENENLOTTER and ANTHONY SNEED try to explain themselves after the screening.

If you love FRANK HENENLOTTER, his films, or skull peeling cinema in general, then find BAD BIOLOGY and watch it at once. Preferably drunk with friends. It’s available on DVD from MEDIA BLASTERS and well worth a look. You haven’t lived till you’ve seen a POV shot from inside a mutant vagina! Nerd out!

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!!!

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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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.

VictimsPB

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

antichrist

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.

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.

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.

Slasher double feature with Joseph Zito @ The Cinefamily

September 23, 2009
Exploitation filmmaker Joe Zito discussing the slasher genre.

Exploitation filmmaker Joseph Zito discussing the slasher genre.

Last night I went to the Cinefamily to check out their screening of two great slasher films from the 80’s that were both directed by exploitation filmmaker Joseph Zito. The event was actually a “prequel” to the slasher retrospective that the Cinefamily will be presenting next month. Every Thursday in October they will be showing slasher triple features that includes SLEEPAWAY CAMP, MY BLOODY VALENTINE (the original UNCUT version), APRIL FOOL’S DAY, SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE, GRADUATION DAY and many more. Tonight we were watching THE PROWLER, which I consider to be one of the best slasher films from the golden era (1979-1984) and FRIDAY THE 13th: THE FINAL CHAPTER which is regarded by many (including me) to be the best one in the series.

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Friday4Poster

Both films were directed by Joseph Zito, who also made two of my favorite CANNON movies with Chuck Norris,  the cartoonish INVASION U.S.A. and MISSING IN ACTION.  He was there to introduce both films and did a great Q and A, where he did shed some light on the origin of the insane dance Crispin Glover does in FRIDAY 4, as well as a few other stories.

Screening first was THE PROWLER from 1981, which still holds up really well and I consider it his best.

prowler_poster_01

The Prowler likes to give a rose to his victims. How thoughtful.

The Prowler likes to give a rose to his victims. How thoughtful.

Eat your heart out PSYCHO! Nothing worse than a pitchfork to the belly while showering.

Eat your heart out PSYCHO! Nothing worse than a pitchfork to the belly while showering.

A recurring theme in the slasher genre is the storyline that involves the spurned male ego on the rampage, getting back at all the ladies who did them wrong and the men that they can never be. THE PROWLER fits this criteria to a tee, as it begins with mock newsreel footage about all the WW II soldiers returning from war and rejoining the gals they left behind. It then cuts to a V.O. of a young woman named Rosemary reading a “Dear John” letter to a jilted G.I., which then takes us to a graduation dance at an east coast college in 1945, where she and her new beau are celebrating. Unfortunately for them, the war is over and soldier boy is back and he’s not taking the break up very well. He makes his “point” with a pitchfork through their entwined bodies and then we flash forward to thirty five years later, where the university is finally forgetting the past and throwing another graduation dance. Bad idea!

I know the plot sounds like any other slasher movie plot and for all intents and purposes, it is. But most slasher movies don’t start with a period flashback from the 40’s, which is quite elaborate and authentic for a low budget movie like this. It also has the very best KILLS in any slasher film I’ve ever seen and that’s thanks to SPFX maestro TOM SAVINI. Each of them is a gory set-piece, including a particularly gruesome one in which a guy gets a bayonet through the top of his skull. It then gets even more grisly when the guy opens his eyes and his pupils have retracted into his head leaving them all white. It’s still freaky as hell to watch! The entire movie is filled with lots of great scares and the ending is an awesome shocker that’s the most original of its kind.

There was a short break and we all went out to the back patio to mingle. Joseph Zito was out there talking to the fans about his movies. He’s a very nice, approachable guy. After the break, we all went in to watch his other slasher masterpiece…

friday the 13th part 4 the final chapter tv

Jason is one ugly mother!

Jason is one ugly mother!

This is the one where Jason dies. HA!

This is the one where Jason dies. HA!

Crazy ass Crispin Glover is thinking about doing his spaz-dance.

Crazy ass Crispin Glover is thinking about doing his spaz-dance.

He pays for that dance with a machete to the face!

He pays for that dance with a machete to the face!

Corey Feldman as Tommy Jarvis before going insane.

Corey Feldman as Tommy Jarvis before going insane.
After.

After.

I’ve seen FRIDAY THE 13TH: THE FINAL CHAPTER more than any other in the series. For people who’ve never seen a single FRIDAY movie, I always recommend this one. For me, it’s got everything you could ever want in one of these movies, PLUS you get CRISPIN GLOVER, COREY FELDMAN and TOM SAVINI, who is back for the makeup effects! The plot is, as usual, nice and simple. A group of young, very horny friends retreat to a vacation home located on beautiful Crystal Lake on the same day Jason escapes the morgue and goes on another bloody rampage. The characters are all goofy 80’s stereotypes, but the acting is better than most in the series. It also has lots of nudity, Crispin Glover doing a crazy dance, Corey Feldman shaving his head and attacking Jason with a machete and the guy from LAST AMERICAN VIRGIN, who still can’t get laid. That’s more than most slasher movies can boast!

I recommend heading out to the Cinefamily next month if you’re a fan of horror. They’ve got a whole lot going on, including many more slasher screenings, a Coffin Joe retrospect and a series of kung fu horror movies that should be a blast!