Monday, September 1, 2014

The Pit (1981)

The Pit (1981, directed by Lew Lehman, screenplay by Ian A. Stuart)

Review By Goat Scrote

     Give some respect to pint-sized homicide. Killer-kid movies have brought us countless hours of good times on the screen. The prototype of course is “The Bad Seed” (1956) and wicked Rhoda Penmark played by Patty McCormack. "You better give me those shoes..." If you haven't seen it, well, change that. Then there are the prepubescent savages of “Lord of the Flies” (1963 and 1990), the vicious little lunatics of “Devil Times Five” (1974), Michael Myers’ first kill in “Halloween” (1978), the evil trio from “Bloody Birthday” (1981), “The Children of the Corn” (1984 and 2009),  sociopath Henry Evans in “The Good Son” (1993), and the children in “The Children” (2008). My wounded inner child watches these movies and roots for the little psychopaths, of course, while my no-fun inner grown-up wags his finger in disapproval.

Starring a pre-pubescent Mark Arm in a whimsical role

     In “The Pit” we meet elaborately fucked-up tween Jamie (Sammy Snyders). When he stumbles on a foolproof method for disposing of people he doesn’t like, he does what any normal 12-year-old boy would do and goes on a killing spree. By coincidence, it happens that he’s also an accomplished junior pervert. He’s like a child prodigy at stalking and voyeurism.

     The movie is badly made schlock (surprise!) but it has a ridiculous and somewhat grimy appeal. His mentor in evil is a talking teddy bear. Jamie’s murder weapon? A pit full of shaggy monsters who resemble balls of hair with glowing eyes. “They don’t eat chocolate bars. You know what they eat?” He’s got a long list of antagonists: Nosy old ladies; A bunch of other kids who are nearly as horrible as he is; All the super-hot MILFs who don’t appreciate his sexual advances; And the ghost of a sexy co-ed babysitter. When they made this early-80s Canadian relic, they threw a lot of shit at the wall just to see what would stick. None of it actually works very well but there’s some pretty good entertainment value from watching the whole terrible mess slide toward the floor.

It's an ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT human meat buffet!

     Jamie is having a pretty rough puberty. He sexually fixates on his much older teacher Mrs. Lynde (Sonja Smits, or Bianca O'Blivian from Videodrome, Crank the ed.) in a big-time creepy way. He cuts up naked pictures of women and pastes them together with her face, then sends his arts-and-crafts project to her as a sign of his interest in her lady parts. He is totally bummed out when this weird love note doesn’t result in some kind of sexy “Dear Penthouse, I never thought it would happen to me…” scenario.

He's got all the lurid charm of a junior Ed Gein

     The day isn’t a total waste for Jamie, though. He gets a new babysitter, Sandy (Jeannie Elias), and she quickly gets added to his list of sexual fixations. Jamie’s evil talking teddy bear tells him how to get a glimpse of some babysitter skin at bedtime, but she can see right through his crude ploy and it gives her the creeps. She’s afraid to fall asleep with Jamie around, and rightly so! Later he tells her about a pit in the woods, and the monsters who live inside. He calls them “trollogs”. She assumes that he is talking about imaginary friends so she plays along.

You're getting very...sleeeeppy

     Teddy cajoles Jamie into doing things that he definitely shouldn’t, and then rationalizes the behavior for him afterwards. Maybe the visions Jamie sees (other than the pit-monsters) are figments of his disturbed imagination, but maybe Teddy is supposed to be a demon-possessed toy and the ghost later on is not just Jamie's guilty conscience talking. Who knows.

     His advances toward his babysitter get more and more invasive and inappropriate, and when she tries to get him to stop he just asks if he can have a photograph of her. Sandy, take the hint and get outta there, girl.

It's high time for a restraining order!

     Eventually he gets to see his teacher naked despite his failure to woo her with pornographic collage. Imagine this: Some little kid on the phone wants you to take off your clothes in front of the window and he says he has kidnapped your niece. The obvious thing to do is... obey without question??? Okay, that's not the course of action I would have started with, personally. She's pretty gullible for a schoolteacher. Abergail the niece (Andrea Swartz) comes home and catches Aunt mid-strip-tease. The poor lady finally figures out that she has been pranked, but she’s simply way too dumb to figure out which neighborhood 12-year-old is so obsessed with her naked body that he would do such a crazy thing.

Please deposit another nickel so I can do the "Filthy Hully Gully" 

     Jamie’s first murder victim is Abergail, for the sin of refusing to let him ride her bike. She’s actually rather nasty so she’d be a perfect love-match for Jamie, but he only has eyes for older women it seems. After he figures out that the trollogs eat raw meat, he lures Abergail into the woods and convinces her to walk right up to the edge of the pit… whoopsie.

Need a cheap graveyard to dump those pesky relatives?

     Next in line to become trollog chow is Miss Oliphant (Lillian Graham), an elderly wheelchair-bound lady. She tattled on Jamie and therefore must die. He hijacks her wheelchair and takes her for a cross-country ride. She screams and waves her arms the entire way to the pit. That was my favorite part of the whole movie.

     Soon the babysitter’s boyfriend and a couple of school bullies join the feast, too. Sandy suspects Jamie has something to do with the disappearances. She slaps the kid (not nearly hard enough) but then apologizes and agrees to go see the trollogs. When she discovers they are real, she wants to let the world know so they can be studied. Then Sandy slips, completely by accident, and the creatures drag her down. The kid is heartbroken as the trollogs tear Sandy apart and eat her bloody remains in front of him.

     Now even his parents think he might have had something to do with the disappearances, but he makes up a story for the cops about a man with a mustache in a car that was yellow... or maybe green. His dead babysitter appears and tries to convince him to tell the truth. It turns out that Jamie has a plan. The cops follow a short trail of clues and discover all of Jamie’s murder souvenirs stashed in a car that belongs to a guy with a mustache, including part of a child's ballerina costume, nudie polaroids of Mrs. Lynde the teacher, and Miss Oliphant’s wheelchair. What a frame job! I can’t help but be impressed with Jamie's unmistakable talent for unwholesome crimes. I bet Teddy helped out.

OK, round up every Girl Scout selling Tra La Las in for questioning just in case!

     Jamie figures out that he should quit while he is ahead. He feels he has run out of bad people to kill (already???) so he lowers a rope into the pit and tells the trollogs to take care of themselves. Sandy’s ghost appears again and gets mad at him, but the damage is done.

In life I was your unhealthy fixation, but now I just wanna know how to get these stains out!

     The next part of the movie just kind of wanders off and forgets that Jamie was ever there. The trollogs stalk and slay townsfolk in troll-o-vision. The cops start finding bloody bodies strewn around the county and witnesses report small hairy deformed people. The killing spree continues with some entertaining puppet mayhem. The trollogs take a plentiful supply of fresh bodies to the pit. Unfortunately, a posse follows the trail of blood to their lair, guns the trollogs down, and fills in the pit with a bulldozer. Sheesh, wasn’t anyone other than the dead co-ed even a little bit curious about this incredible discovery?

You gotta pay the Troll Toll, Ach you know the rest!

     In the final scene, Jamie’s family has moved to a new town and he meets his “step-cousin” Alicia. Finally, somebody is being nice to him for a change! She leads him into the woods and shows him the big old pit that she found. Jamie stares into it in shock. “They’re trollogs, they eat people!” he says. “Yes, I know,” she responds, as she slips up behind Jamie... whoopsie!


Sunday, August 31, 2014

Hiruko the Goblin (1991)

Hiruko the Goblin (1991, aka "Yôkai hantâ: Hiruko”, directed by Shin'ya Tsukamoto, screenplay by Shin'ya Tsukamoto based on a manga by Daijirô Morohoshi)

 Review By Goat Scrote

     Hiruko the goblin is a small six-legged monster with a prehensile tongue and a penchant for singing “tender melodies” through the severed heads that it steals and attaches to itself. If you aren’t perking your ears up already, then you might as well abandon ship now because you’re not the target audience. “Hiruko the Goblin” is bloody, strange, and fun. It has loads of decapitations and arterial spray, slapstick comedy, inventive camera work, and gross stop-motion monsters.

     Oh, Hiruko, you torrid she-devil, you tempestuous vixen. You had me at “goblin”, darling. Yōkai is a broad term for all kinds of monsters, demons, and spirits, but goblin is as good a word as any for… whatever it is Hiruko is.

Take a hike creeps, this is a Nilbog free picture 

     Writer-director Shin'ya Tsukamoto is the multitalented man who gave birth to the art-house sci-fi body-horror freakout “Tetsuo: The Iron Man” (1989). It’s difficult to avoid mentioning that fact, even if it’s only to point out that the two movies actually bear almost no resemblance to one another despite being made just a couple of years apart. “Hiruko” is different in tone, style, and intention from his other work. If there’s any serious social commentary whatsoever in this movie it was completely lost on me. “Hiruko the Goblin” is a horror/comedy. It sets out to entertain the hell out of us and it succeeds better than most. If you’re a fan of J-horror as a genre you’re likely to enjoy “Hiruko” regardless of how you feel about any of Tsukamoto’s diverse other films.

     Mr. Yabe (Naoto Takenaka), an archeologist and high school teacher, is exploring an underground tunnel. One of his students, a girl named Tsukishima (Megumi Ueno), follows him. Something invisible attacks and drags them both away screaming. I am already enjoying the movie and it’s just barely started.

Howdy, Climb up inside my sinuses and stay awhile

     Masao Yabe (Masaki Kudou), the son of the archeologist and (wannabe) boyfriend of Tsukishima is on summer break but has nothing better to do than wander the school grounds with his friends drinking beer. His father and the girl have both disappeared, but the kids spot her through a window at the school as some guy prepares to kiss her. The boys leave and don’t see the man die in a spray of blood. As he dies, Masao collapses, clutching his burning back.

An extremely nervous boy band

     Naturally, there is a scary old man issuing dire warnings. That role is filled by sinister groundskeeper Watanabe (Hideo Murota) who carries around a hand-scythe, shouts at those damned kids to get the hell off his lawn, and later cuts the phone lines so that no one can call for help. Thanks asshole. (It turns out he has his reasons.)

They're kinda like faberge eggs

     An old friend of the family turns up and rescues Masao just as he’s about to be attacked by the invisible Hiruko. Hieda (Kenji Sawada) is an archeologist like Masao’s father, but his reputation has been soiled by his belief in goblins. The archeologist has two homemade gadgets, one for detecting goblins, the other for killing them. The weapon soon gets broken but the detector keeps the goblin from sneaking up on them like it does to everyone else.

The Agony of Constipation

     Masao’s two friends get separated. Hiruko kills them off by singing, which leads them to decapitate themselves with whatever is handy: Razor blades; Broken glass; Chainsaws. It makes sense to me, I have a similar reaction to “American Idol”. Masao has a mysterious supernatural connection to the deaths. The face of each victim is painfully scorched into his back when they die.

The souls of Asians make me hungry an hour later

     Hiruko terrorizes Masao and Hieda several times but leaves them alive, a decision the monster will later regret I’m sure. At one point, the groundskeeper shows up and beats the hell out of both of them. Eventually Hiruko gets the drop on Masao and sticks its slimy tongue down his throat. Ewww, gag me with a latex goblin.

tonsil hockey Goblin style

     Hiruko gives its victims happy dream-visions that cause them to willingly chop off their own heads. Hieda rescues Masao from this fate. Next Hiruko latches onto the groundskeeper Watanabe and swabs his tonsils with its phallic mouth-appendage. Watanabe sees that his own face has already appeared on Masao’s back so he walks away and shoots himself in the head. Well, that way the goblin doesn’t get it, at least. Before he dies he explains what he knows.

I'm displeased by these facelift results

     The school has been attacked by goblins before. They were stopped by a boy wearing a three-horned crown who had the faces of the victims branded into his back.This was Masao’s grandfather, and he entrusted young Watanabe with keeping the goblins contained. The school is built on top of the goblins’ tomb and that there’s a secret entrance. Hieda recites a magical passage at the inner door of the tomb and it opens. They enter armed with a single can of bug spray, hand tools, a flashlight, a photograph, and strong moral fiber to protect themselves from an army of immortal head-severing monsters. It’s not a brilliant plan but it’s a pretty ballsy move.

I'm gonna need a bigger can of Raid

     Inside is a pit full of goblins, which is somehow roofed by the moonlit lake at the school. I don’t really understand how that works but it looks neat so I won’t raise a fuss. They find a crown similar to the one Watanabe described. Masao’s father Yabe appears and he is looking greenish and pretty dead, but he’s temporarily in charge of himself. He warns his son to flee and then the goblins attack. Yabe loses control and his head tears itself loose to join the chase.

Hey, that Echo and the Bunnymen video is on VH1 again

     Hiruko is waiting at the door, blocking them in, and it calls the entire goblin horde. The two lovable goofballs jump out of the tomb door as Hieda chants the words to close it. The other goblins are trapped inside but Hiruko is still free. It attacks the archeologist and makes him recite the passage to open the door again, using a vision of his dead wife.

The inside of your bowels when you eat too much Siracha

     The crown grows horns and the kid finds a piece of paper inside. He reads more magic words and puts on the crown which makes the goblins burst into flames, sucks them into the tomb, and seals the door on them all, including Hiruko. Hieda is lucky to be alive. Masao’s burns are gone.

Beef-a-roni fatality

     A watery magic beam runs from the lake into the sky. It has Tsukishima’s face although it kind of looks like a giant mutant sperm. Her soul flies to the stars with the other goblin victims, Masao stays as the new tomb guardian, and Hieda goes home to work on digging up some nice monsters for a change.

It's time for a sing-a-long!

Feed Us Seymour!

I'm not angry, somebody drew on these sharpie brows that way

No pick one of these other delicious Human-Lobster hybrids out of the tank for your meal!


Thursday, August 28, 2014

La Setta (1991)

“La Setta” (1991, aka “The Sect”, aka “Demons IV: The Sect” aka “The Devil's Daughter", directed by Michele Soavi, screenplay by Dario Argento, Giovanni Romoli, and Michele Soavi.)

     If you’re only ever going to watch one Michele Soavi movie it should be "Dellamorte Dellamore"/"Cemetery Man" (1994). “The Sect” is not in the same league. It’s good but not great. It is stylish and has a lot of positive qualities that help balance its flaws. If you're in the mood for a visually pleasing, slow-burn supernatural horror-thriller and you don’t need it to make an awful lot of sense, this ought to do the job. There’s creative camera work, vivid use of colors, some cool sets, good special effects, and plenty of weird atmosphere. The story is the weakest part. It’s more than a little a bit convoluted, the ending is nothing special, and it runs too long (about 109 minutes in the version I saw, 125 minutes in the Italian version).

     This is yet another one of those movies that was released under the "Demons" banner in some markets, but is in no way an actual sequel to the "Dèmoni" films. All of that shouldn't stop you from giving it a try, though, especially if you've enjoyed any of Michele Soavi's other directorial work. "La Chiesa"/"The Church" (1989) , the third "Demons" movie, is Soavi's actual contribution to the series… that of course, and his role as a silent, metal-masked villain in the first "Demons" (1985).  Unlike those films, "La Setta"/"The Sect" isn't a monster movie, it's a Satanic cult story, an Italian take on the Beelzebaby subgenre.

Beezlebaby incubator wombs sold separately 

     Performances range from adequate to excellent. Kelly Curtis from “Trading Places” (1983) plays the main character. The consistently superb Herbert Lom plays the central villain, and he definitely brings the creepy. Lom is one of the few actors I've ever watched who stole scenes out from under Peter Sellers (in the "Pink Panther" series)! Horror veteran John Morghen plays a character named Martin Romero, a little reference to George Romero and his film "Martin" (1976).

Mmm.... Marzipan barrel 

     There's a very good, atmospheric musical score by composer Pino Donaggio. He composed music for a number of Brian DePalma's best films, including "Carrie" (1976) and "Body Double" (1984). He also scored Dario Argento's "Trauma" (1993), Joe Dante's "Piranha" (1978) and "The Howling" (1981), as well as a ton of other movies, and he is still working his magic in 2014. Also worth noting for music nerds, he wrote the song "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me" ("Io Che Non Vivo") which was performed by Elvis Presley, among others.

     There's a lot more talent packed into this movie than you might expect.

     It’s California, 1970, and there’s a horrifying evil threatening the land… hippies! This fiendish bunch of breast-painting, dope-smoking, clock-smashing, guitar-playing layabouts threaten civilization with their brand of patchouli-scented tie-dyed fun. Guitar-guy is playing along with America’s “Horse With No Name”. This is absolutely the easiest guitar song in the world and can still be played even after you've had eight fingers amputated and up to 70% of your brain scooped out. True fact. It seems worth pointing out, given the sorts of things that are about to happen to guitar-guy.

Damon otherwise known as Marlie Chanson

     A blurry prophet-from-the-desert figure (Tomas Arana) comes marching out of the heat. His name is Damon. They all sit around at dinner misquoting “Sympathy for the Devil” at each other and talking about how, like, profound the Rolling Stones are, man. It's so cosmic when Jagger says that part where he says, you know, what's nurturing you is the puzzle of my game, man. Hey, does anyone have some carob chips or some of those macrobiotic brown rice crackers? I've really got the munchies, brother.

Fucking Italians!

     Later that night Damon brutally murders the hippies just as any rational, decent human being would be morally obligated to do. The way things are presented it seems at first like they might all be having wild sex. That moment of ambiguity highlights the way horror movies conflate sex and death while making a bit of a dark inside joke about it, as well. The whole peacenik camp, children included, has been sacrificed to Satan. Damon has a posse, it turns out, and they’re something like a cross between the Manson family and the Hell’s Angels, a “faceless army” of biker-cultists willing to kill at his word. They have connections to a powerful Satanic hierarchy from "the old country,” and the higher-ups have a mysterious long-term master plan.

Official Spielberg Temple of Doom torn out heart Tchotchkes 

     The story shifts to Frankfurt, Germany, in 1991. A family man (John Morghen) stalks a woman to her home to assassinate her for betraying the cult. A pickpocket on the subway discovers the Satanic killer has a human heart in his pocket, wrapped in the victims golden cross bracelet.  When the cops cuff him he jerks one of their guns into his mouth and forces the trigger down… he won’t be a witness! I wonder if Satanist martyrs get special perks in Hell, like a bowl of ice cream once a century or something?

     The story shifts focus yet again and we finally meet the main character, Miriam (Kelly Curtis). She nearly hits a sickly old man with her car, and lets him stay at her house for the night. The old man, Moebius (Herbert Lom), has some kind of medical condition that requires him to drip a red liquid into his eyes from time to time. He soon rewards Miriam's compassion and generosity by taking a big crawly insect from a box he carries and letting it wiggle up her nose while she sleeps.

Bunny Hugglewugs

     Miriam has a nightmare while the bug is, presumably, burrowing into her brain. This sequence is short but pretty impressive. It did evoke the feeling of a dream, with its irrational form and the unpredictable way distance, perspective, and tone shifted. In the dream Miriam is in a field of bright poppies. She hears the cries of a baby and follows Rabbit into a forest full of wind chimes, to a naked, partially unseen person tied to a tree. Miriam struggles with the ropes and even tries to chew the captive free. She collapses on her back after she uses all her strength to pull apart one of the knots. Her feet are impossibly far away from her across the grass, and the unknotted ropes stretch away to the tree, now far off in the distance. Something travels up the length of her dress. A brutal-beaked bird bursts from her bodice (say that ten times fast). The bird rips wounds into her throat and she wakes up to find things have gone topsy-turvy in the real world as well.

Check out my impression of Brion James in Blue Sunshine!

     The old man has trashed the place and collapsed. The phones are down, so Miriam drives away to a neighbor who is also a doctor to get help. As soon as she is gone the old man stands up and carries his brown-wrapped package down to the basement. He opens a secret passage to a strange basement chapel, with a big spiral window and reveals a secret well leading down to a water-filled tunnel. He sets the box of bugs on fire and throws it in, then pulls the cover back into place. Miriam’s pet rabbit (named Rabbit) watches the whole thing. Moebius collapses again and tries to takes his medicine. Rabbit hated him from the start, and knocks the medicine down into well then cavorts victoriously atop his corpse. Just before he dies, Moebius pulls a handkerchief over his face like a shroud. Miriam and the doctor, Frank (Michel Addate), return and discover the passage opened by Moebius and follow it to the chapel, where they find the dead body. The authorities take the cadaver away but Moebius isn't finished spreading mayhem, not by a long shot.

Argento's homage to Monty Python

     Something is brewing in the water under the house, and it's in the pipes. I really like the short sequence where the camera travels from the well in the basement through the pipe system up to the house. Blue slime leaks from the kitchen plumbing. Miriam drinks some of the water, and there are traces of slime inside her glass. An Asian woman breaks in and tries to steal the burial shroud that Moebius had over his face. The thief is caught in the act but escapes.

Regular basketball is for pussies

     Rabbit is watching TV, and changing channels with his little paws. Demonic possession has never been so dang cute! Even the sweet-natured pooch in "Devil Dog: Hound of Hell" wasn't this adorable. Michele Soavi appears briefly as a magician on the TV while Rabbit is channel-surfing. A news story reveals that Moebius Kelly was an expert on Satanism who disappeared. Rabbit spends most of his time lurking menacingly.  Honestly, I'm not quite sure what's going on with Rabbit… he starts acting unnatural pretty quickly, but it's not clear which side he's on, exactly. He kills villain Moebius but he also attacks Miriam's allies. Still, it's pretty impressive that they managed to make Rabbit seem even a little bit sinister.

Don't clean your tub with a Toilet Duck 

     Miriam is a teacher, and a girl in her class draws the insect that Moebius put up Miriam’s nose. The girl later needs a ride home and as a result Miriam meets the girl’s mother. The mother studies an insect that has been extinct for 10,000 years which would lay eggs inside a woman’s brain, and the babies would eat the brain for nourishment. This is not sounding good for poor Miriam. It’s the same bug which we know is living inside her skull, and she swoons and passes out at the sight of it.

One of the Real Housewives needs to get back to the Plastic Surgery operating table

     Miriam’s friend Kathryn (Mariangela Giordano) stops by and finds the handkerchief left by Moebius, miraculously imprinted with his face like an an anti-Shroud-of-Turin. The shroud clings to her and tries to suffocated her, but she is rescued by Cheryl. This could have been really corny but the death shroud attacks are very well-done and creepy. Kathryn flees the house in a rush. She then picks up a random trucker, and we can see that she brought along a blade. His friends hear some strange noises and run to the scene, and unexpectedly, the trucker is stabbing Kathryn to death with her own kitchen knife. He’s horrified when he realizes what he’s done. For once, the Devil really did make him do it.

Sissy Spacek in the Italian version of The Shining

     Miriam’s goldfish are dead, eaten from the inside by the blue worms in the tap water. Miriam responds to this discovery by taking a long bath, soaking in the murky, wormy, fish-killing water. Yikes. Something is definitely not right with her. Soon she gets an impossible phone message from the dead Moebius. He says that he left his diary at her house. This bizarre message is followed up with a call that Kathryn is in the hospital dying from her injuries. Later the corpse gets up and attacks her, blames her for the death, and then cuts its own throat shouting “I’d die for you Miriam!”

Help! I forgot how to swim

     She goes down to the morgue with her doctor friend, Frank, for reasons that I was never quite clear on. Frank finds an “unknown” sealed metal coffin there and opens it… with a can opener! Ha! It shoots corpse-juice in his face at first and it’s a pretty gross scene. Inside is a soup of fluids with body parts floating in it.  The old man’s corpse has disappeared, I guess?

I've fallen down, someone call me a cab so I can get to the set of the latest Hellraiser sequel

     Back home the phone message and the shroud are also gone. Frank gives her a sleeping pill and while she snoozes he finds the diary of Moebius. The bunny has its eyes on him, and Frank doesn’t notice that there are blue worms wriggling in Miriam’s ears. Frank is busy examining the weird pipes running through the house, and following a diagram in the diary he makes his way to the weird satanic chapel with the shaft and the spiral window. The diary falls into the shaft and he climbs down after it. The death shroud surfaces in the water and seems to look at Frank like a face. He hears voices and follows a side tunnel the exits into the outdoors in a strange, rather pretty wetland.

     Damon the biker-cult leader, now much older, turns up again. He’s performing some kind of ritual along with a bunch of other cultists gathered around a tree under the full moon. Damon uses giant hooks to pierce their sacrificial victim all around her face. The cultists reflect moonlight on her with mirrors and call out to Shub-Niggurath, the black goat with a thousand young, a reference to one of the unspeakable alien gods of HP Lovecraft’s horror fiction. I guess this is sort of legit. Anton LaVey, founder of the Church of Satan and showman of PT Barnum proportions, included two “official” ceremonies in his 1972 book “The Satanic Rituals” which call on the creatures invented by Lovecraft. If you didn’t understand that LaVey was a prankster before… well, now you know. Occultism is a wacky business.

OK who invoked me, I was about to retire to my chamber with some chamomile tea and a savory biscuit 

      To demonstrate just how zany black magic can be, Damon tears the victims face off with the hooks and places the skin onto the dead body of the old man. Moebius instantly sits up and points directly to Frank’s hiding place. Frank flees and climbs back up the shaft to the house. At the top the bunny attacks him and sends him back into the water. The death shroud surfaces and wraps around his face. I know a bunny and a hanky don’t sound very threatening, but this movie manages to make the scene work. Even so, you can't help but giggle when you think about it. Death by bunny-bite, falling down an open manhole, and choking on a handkerchief… what an embarrassing way to die.

Rip Taylor got drunk on Night train again 

     Frank shows up at Miriam’s front door acting really weird, not dead after all. He has a kitchen knife and he’s going to “save her” from her “destiny”. She locks him out, so he upgrades to a pickaxe and starts hacking down the door Jack Torrance style. She gets to her car and drives away, but Frank leaps on board and causes a wreck. Later Damon and his toughs find Frank, who dies in a car explosion.
Oh Shit, did I forget to set my DVR for Masterchef again?

     Miriam stumbles back home, where the resurrected Moebius is waiting for her.  He and his cohorts inject something into her nose and she wakes up, still drugged, in the Satanic chapel in the basement. A giant heron-like bird flies up out of the well, and she falls backward into a nest of ropes. The shadow of the bird can be seen changing into a man, who starts having sex with her, but when she opens her eyes it is the bird from her dream pecking at her throat.

Dar, is that you calling me, Oops I flew into the wrong movie again!

     Afterward, the Satanists salve the gaping wound in her neck. The cultists drop a whole lot of heavy jive on Miriam all at once: Darth Moebius is her father; Every detail of her life from the beginning has been arranged by the cult; Her basement contains a doorway to Hell; And she is going to be Satan’s baby-mama. Then they lower her into the water of the Hell-gate. There are women down in the water with her, midwives for the Antichrist. As an eclipse of the moon occurs, down in the water she gives birth to something. It is born “in the caul”, with the amniotic sac still intact (a traditional folkloric omen that a child will have spiritual powers).

Yippie, Now I've got the last hummel figurine for my collection

     Moebius offers her the chance to raise the child, but when the right moment arrives, Miriam shoves one of the Satanists down the shaft to bounce off the walls and die. Then she goes grabs the baby and runs. The bikers chase her to the site of the burning car where Frank died, and one of the bikers is set aflame. Miriam flings herself and the baby into the fire, and Moebius follows. They wrestle in the flames and end up resembling a crispy charcoal briquette. Impossibly, the firefighters discover a live and naked Miriam inside the charcoal. She believes the child protected her from the flames because he loved her. Sure, I guess. Miriam sees a bird of prey flying by, different from the bird which attacked and raped her… perhaps the spirit of her child? I never did figure out what the rabbit and bird motifs throughout the movie signified exactly, but oh well.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Point/ Counterpoint Review: Frozen Scream

Tonight on TOG'S critics battle we've got a real stinker, a torrential diaper that Mary Whitehouse and her army of Conservative chuckleheads deemed worthy for the Video Nasty List. We've invited Webberly Rattenkraft, the resident fact expert over at CREEPY KOFY MOVIE TIME, my favorite local California horror host program. Even though there's a big TV star in our midst, that doesn't mean punches will be pulled--fuck that shit! As you'll soon find out however, NO ONE in their right mind could honestly like this movie! It made me wish I entered the carbonite chamber and became frozen forever.
 This is our third critics battle, a very special one, because this time it's mutant vs. rodent--two commentators enter the arena--no one wins!   

FROZEN SCREAM Directed By Frank Roach, Starring Renee Harmon (1975)

CRANKENSTEIN: The only movie where it's acceptable to start with a poem read over stock footage of the sea is Lady Terminator and this ain't it!

Sorry, I was busy working on my research paper for Anthropology

WEBBERLY: Oh, Lady Terminator. Where are your sultry terminating skills when we really need them? Nothing could improve this movie like having Lady Terminator stride into the room to terminate the shit out of everyone in sight, starting with the goddamn narrator. More about him in a bit.

Arghhh I'm Harry Reems' stunt cock!

CRANK: A googly eyed hunchback, fishes victims out of a pool carries them around on his back. All of these non sequiturs happen during the credits!
Hey, slow down director we've got an hour to kill!
Tom Girard a tan sweater wearing wienie keeps getting prank calls and goes to investigate, but he gets jumped by out of work porn actors in black cloaks! They inject him with mysterious needles. If the second half is as berserk as the first, we're in for a real blast!


WEBB:I have to admit, the black pointy hoodies lend a festive Ray Dennis Steckler air to the proceeding. This movie would be at least 66% better with the Lemon Grove Kids involved.

OW! my face, these Botox injections were just administered

CRANK: His wife Anne is down at the hospital and everything she says is over explained by Sergeant McGuire, a narrating detective. The audio sounds like it was recorded while they were running the film and gives it an extra bit of unintentional hilarity. 

WEBB: How bad is the sound recording? So bad that I'm still not convinced that the actor playing McGuire and the narrator claiming to be McGuire are the same person. Now, I can't prove that the actor was so traumatized by his experiences on set that he refused to come back and do the voice-over so they had to call in a sound-sort-of-alike, but does any other theory make any kind of sense? No. Therefore I am right.

HAHA Too late to turn back now!

CRANK: Lil Stanhope (any relation to Doug, the Beatle hating comedian)? Her bad accent sounds like Ariana Huffington doing the audio for a Charlie Brown holiday special.
When I went to film school they tried to brainwash me by saying don't over narrate everything that's happening on the screen, this clumsy movie breaks all the rules. Gradually you begin to realize nothing in this piece of shit makes any sense at all, abort, abort!!!
Audio collides into narration and stumbles into supreme awkwardness, if you find this irritating and not an advantage then don't watch this movie, you're gonna have a bad time!

WEBB: Most of the people in the movie read their lines they're like a casting agent prompting the seventy-fifth auditioner of the day, but not Lil Stanhope. No, she just sounds like she memorized her lines phonetically and has no idea what she's actually saying.

CRANK: This film should've been on the Audio Atrocities list not the Video Nasty one!
Sven the mad doctor sounds like he was dubbed by a guy that says "jive turkey" a lot, but sadly never does. One of the doctor's hooded goons splits a girls cranium with a hatchet (her eyelids move underneath the blood splatter).
 Down at the beach a cult chants "love and immortality" and we see a nipple pop out, don't expect more nudity cause you aint getting any!

You think that's a nipple, but it's really a big hairy wart.

WEBB: I should probably confess that I really didn't pay close attention to FROZEN SCREAM, but that's hardly my fault. The thing is like attentional Teflon. You try to look at it, and your brain just slides right off, whoosh! I remember the jive turkey guy clearly, though, and wish the movie had been about him fighting drug dealers or ninjas or maybe ninja dealers. Maybe that wouldn't have been much better, but at least it wouldn't have been this movie.

 CRANK: The score is not all that bad--Hey there's a positive! Sometimes it sounds like the synthesizer is trying to recreate a car accident by going WARRRRRRRMMMMMMMMPPPPPHHHHHHH. It must be the same kind of instrument that Ferris Bueller had when he fooled everyone at school!

Abe Frohman, the Sausage King of Chicago is behind the frozen zombie plague 

WEBB: I bet Ferris Bueller was actually a frozen zombie. Remember his clammy palms? Classic sign. You shake hands with someone who's got clammy palms, odds are very good that he's a frozen zombie. Stab him, just in case.

CRANK: I cannot believe that director Frank Roach didn't return to the mental institute where he should've remained. He managed to escape in 1984 to film something called Nomad Riders! Renee Harmon (who played Lil Stanhope) went onto Van Nuys Blvd., The Executioner 2 (not the Duke Mitchell one, the Chris Mitchum one) and even showed up in something called Lady Street Fighter (with Liz Renay). All the other actors died of embarrassment or got jobs at the DMV. 

Not to be confused with Lady Terminator!

WEBB: Was it ever proved that Frank Roach wasn't just 10,000 cockroaches all crammed together in a people suit? Because that would explain a lot. I tried to get 60 Minutes interested in an expose, because if there are bugs running around trying to make movies the American people need to know about it, but the producer I met with wouldn't even get off the phone long enough to talk to me. He just kept screaming that a giant rat had broken into his house and would the police please hurry up. Hollywood types can be so rude. I was thinking of taking it to Jerry Springer, but that guy's house is like a fortress. What the hell is he so worried about?

Only a  gutless wimp would be afraid of a giant punk rodent

CRANK: Good Point Sir! and as for appearing on a trash talk show, I'm sure Maury would hook you up!
   I've heard that there's a worse VIDEO NASTY called Miss You Hugs and Kisses with Elke Sommer, I shudder at the thought of ever sitting down ludovico style in front of that monstrosity! On all the message boards, they talk about the "plot" like it's easy to figure out, we both agree that there is ZERO PLOT! According to it defies analysis or understanding and they warn not to spend any money on a bootleg DVD or Video of it! 

WEBB: Did you know Elke Sommer was in THEY CAME TO ROB LAS VEGAS? That's the second time that movie has come up today, which usually means I should go watch it, except it's not on Netflix so I guess I'm outta luck. On the bright side, those few minutes I just spent researching it were minutes during which I wasn't thinking about FROZEN SCREAM at all. Gotta look at the positives.

It looks like they got Weng Weng's brother Steve Weng to appear

CRANK: I did have a blast watching it chatting on the Creepy Kofy Face Book page with a bunch of pals who watch the show every Sat., because it was a laugh riot. I highly recommend viewing it heavily medicated with friends who can appreciate bad movies, because this film lowered the bar to infinity.
Thanks Webb for joining me tonight on this debate and keeping the ravenous fans of your local horror host show satisfied while the show was on hiatus. 

WEBB: And in return I thank you for the platform from which to vent my movierage. I second the recommendation for movie medication, because without some kind of mental armor to cushion the blows, this movie will leave marks on your psyche, and nobody wants a psyche that's all scuffed and weeping.

Thanks again and next time bring some Cavegirls!

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