Monday, October 16, 2017

The End of The Wicked (1999)

The End of The Wicked (1999)
Directed by: Teco Benson
Written by: Teco Benson (screenplay), Helen Ukpabio (story)
Review by: "Machine Gun" Kristin 

I discovered "End Of The Wicked" through a user made list of movies on the website, The list is titled: Atrocities, Odditites, Trash, Trippy, Religious, Tinfoil Hat, WTF, The Worst in Film & Video and boy, is it ever. haha. After sifting through over a thousand films in the list, I found some hand painted posters produced in Ghana. I recently researched these strange film posters, which are displayed and preserved in a nice space in Chicago called the Deadly Prey Gallery. There, you can look at the many different types of movie posters, all pretty much the same style, painted in oils onto hand sewn flour bags. The poster interpretations of American films (mostly action and horror) are just as strange as you may have anticipated if you're familiar with other bizarre foreign posters from countries such as Thailand or Poland. The Ghana posters are in wide, gruesome brush strokes and make some movies look way more interesting than they actually are haha. I couldn't help but be reminded of the "The Mutilator" drawing from the art classroom scene in "Ghost World".
"Oh. I thought maybe this was supposed to be your father."

The thin plotline of "End Of The Wicked" consists of a group of Nigerian shape-shifting Beelzebub worshippers with what looks like hamburger meat plastered onto their faces. Their Lord is a white face make up covered man with a hairy bloody chin and Fat Albert's voice. He commands them to retrieve enough blood to fill a lake in 24 hours, although this goal is never achieved. The dialogue is either difficult to understand through bad audio and thick accents, which ends up being really unintentionally funny. In one scene, where a group of children are being initiated into the Satanic cult, a girl is told to "blow up all electronics in your home, drink bleach, glasses and then cause fever and failure to all of the children in your home" 

Beelzebub's Glamour Shot

The sets look to be decorated from those terrible large shops that say "antiques", where everything is brand new, dark pink, fake period piece style chairs, and particle board entertainment systems. Bleecchhh. Or better yet, they hired the set decorator from one of those strange religious shows that sometimes pop up on broadcast TV, with the giant desks and potted ferns in the background. I'd imagine this movie is a cross between "Black Devil Doll From Hell" (which I still haven't seen yet) and "Mystics In Bali" for the absurd special effects and bizarre, super awkward perverse scenes. In "Bali", the floating head (with organs intact), eats a baby right out of the womb, whereas in "Wicked", we're assaulted with the visual of main character Chris' Satan-worshipping mother (aka Lady Destroyer) raping his wife with a giant magic penis. Fun! Even better, we're somehow treated to not one, but two scenes involving bloody crotches! Yay! I feel like I should be running down the "drive-in totals" like Joe Bob Briggs there are so many wacky things in this gawd-awful movie. In one scene (brought to life in a GIF I made below), the evil children summon a plate of inedible looking pasta on the back of some poor guy while he's trying to sleep. After they devour it with their bare hands, the man wakes up in major back pain. So gross. Later, this same man is subjected to his eyes literally popping out of his head in a dream and he wakes up blind. I'm not even 100% sure what he did that was horrible to deserve this, but he ends his life by stabbing himself to death. He definitely made somebody in this movie mad. 
"I Wanna RAWK!"

Meanwhile, our main man Chris is (unbeknownst to him) still constantly being tortured by his witch mother throughout this movie. Until he's finally transformed into a goat and his throat is slaughtered. They appear to have actually sawed a poor goat's throat to achieve this scene and it is gruesome and horrible to watch. Speaking of real life horrors, this movie was concocted by Helen Ukpabio. She appears in this film as a pastor who I guess is supposed to save everyone from evil, but that doesn't seem to happen. This film was produced by Ukpabio's company called Liberty Foundation Gospel Ministries and it's basically Christian propaganda. She's a wealthy evangelist that apparently through her teachings has influenced many to abandon and sometimes actually murder their children believing that they are in fact witches in disguise. There is a documentary on the subject called Dispatches Saving Africa's Witch Children on YouTube. There's a barrage of very negative press about her career and her bizarre teachings. She was actually banned from entering Britain in 2014 and she has sued the British Humanist Association (BHA) for defamation for basically twisting her words around. BHA's reply: 
“The fact that she is threatening to launch a legal claim for half a billion pounds over an alleged distinction between being accused of exorcising "Satan" or "Vampires" tells you all you need to know about Ms Ukpabio.”

Completely crazy! 

Watch "End Of The Wicked" (in two parts, first part linked here) HERE!
Check out my website HERE!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Laughing Dead

The Laughing Dead (1989)
music by,  written by , directed by S. P. Somtow (Somtow Sucharitkul)

Review by Herbert Strock

Erok/ Crankenstein here, just chipping in my 2 cents about this Aztec-ian clusterfuck that I watched along with the chat room lunatics of Creepy Kofy Movie time, led by the enigmatic Webberley Rattenkraft aka The Fact Rat. We both scratched our noggins repeatedly in wonder of how gory and nonsensical it all was. Look at that cover too, it looks like a rejected Nightbreed creature in a Cosby sweater! I was even gonna bring back the 70's SNL graphic for Point Counter/ Point Debate segment, even though as mentioned before we were both dumb struck and befuddled by The Laughing Dead. Then along comes Herb with his "That's my opinion, maybe yours differs" patented statement. Well he's right about that, mine does but I gotta respect anyone who sticks up for this mind explosion, so on with the review and thanks again Herbert!

The basic premise is Father Ezekial  'Zeke'  O' Sullivan Tim Sullivan), a priest with a scandalous past involving a love affair with a nun, heads a community college 'archaeology tour' to Todos Santos in Mexico to see Mayan ruins and visit  'the laughing dead'  festival.  Among those coming along on the trip are Clarisse (Krista Keim) and Wilbur (Larry Kagen), a married new age couple, the persnickety Mr. Frost ( Gregory Frost), the annoying Mr. Dozois (Raymond Ridenhour), and the runaway teenager Laurie (Premika Eaton, Somtow's sis).  They also pick up O' Sullivan's ex nun, ex lover Marie Therease / Tessie Smith (Wendy Webb) and a foul mouthed young boy named Ivan (Patrick Roskowick).

During a conversation with his old flame, in which the priest admits that he has lost his faith due to strange nightmares, he comes to find out that the boy is his offspring from the long ago tryst. Along the way they encounter a wrapped and tied bloody corpse of a young girl, and two strange Mayan priests.

you want it when?

Arriving to their destination, the tourists explore the town and the local population.  In an effort to get acquainted with his son, Father O' Sullivan takes the boy about town, but then he is lured away by a woman under the guise of helping exorcise a possessed girl. The supposedly 'possessed' girl rips open her shirt, and then her heart.  She proceeds to rip out Father O' Sullivan's heart, and then swaps his for hers.  Father O'Sullivan is now possessed by the 'Death God'.  Father O' Sullivan and his fellow travelers become caught in a plot involving the mysterious Dr. Um-tzek (director S. P. Somtow),  sacrificial killings including the sacrifice of one's own son, portals to other dimensions, zombie basketball and giant monster battles in the Kaiju tradition.     

This organ is lazy, I'll manually squeeze you back to life

S.P. Somtow (Somtow Sucharitkul) wrote, directed, acted in, and performed the music score for this film.  He is not only a filmmaker , but also, a musical composer, who has composed 5 symphonies and a ballet.  In addition he is a writer who has written many novels including the excellent Moon Dance, and the splatter punk classic Vampire Junction, and scripts for the animated TV series Dinosaucers, C.O.P.S., and Chip 'n' Dale Rescue Rangers. Aside from the aforementioned Somtow, this film is notable for being filled with various writer's of the sci fi / horror genre.  Tim Sullivan,  like Somtow has been both a filmmaker and a novelist.  He wrote several great micro budget films such as Eyes Of The Werewolf (1999), Grave Vengeance a.k.a. Hunting Season (2000), V- world Matrix (1999), and wrote and directed the excellent Vampire Femmes (1999).  He also wrote novels including Lords Of Creations and Destiny's End.  Gregory Frost who played Mr. Frost is a novelist whose titles include Tain and The Pure Cold Light. The other writer's in the cast include Edward Bryant (the novel Phoenix Without Ashes),  Arthur Bryan Cover ( the novel Autumn Angels),  Tim Powers (the novels Last Call and Declare),  William F. Wu (the novel Masterplay), and Brynne Chandler- Stephens who wrote episodes of animated tv shows such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Gargoyles, and He Man: Masters Of The Universe.  Also other cast members of note include: Forrest J. Ackerman, Len Wein (creator of X-man's Wolverine), and Filmmaker Wyatt Weed ( Twilight Hunters a.k.a. Shadowland and Guardian Of The Realm) appear as zombies. The special effects were handled by John Carl Buechler and Magic Media Industries Inc. 

The mutant boy from Phenomena gets festive.

The film itself is an interesting and zany mixture of gore, humor, and mythology.  The gore effects were well executed by Mr. Buechler and his company, which include a beheading, heart ripping, a pregnant woman's abdomen sliced open, a fist is driven through a woman's head, and a man's arm torn off.  The gore is somewhat cartoonish fitting the almost comic book feel of the film.  An example of this would be in the aforementioned scene where a character's arm is torn asunder,  the limb is then forced down the man's throat, and we see the fingers of his hand wriggling beneath the skin of his throat.  The humor of the film is also present in this scene, as well,  with the killer cackling gleefully, while shoving the severed arm in a cartoonish fashion down the victim's gullet.  Humor is also expressed in some of the interactions of the characters, such as the 'new age' couple, who bicker after talking about inner peace, good will, etc.  Mythology plays a big part throughout, particularly Mayan mythology, with references to  quetzalcoatl (who makes a surprise appearance), ancient mayan ruins, rituals,  and human sacrifice to appease the gods.

Weird Science 2: The Wrath of Chet!

There is some nice atmospheric lighting, especially in the scene where Ivan,  the priest's son is playing basketball waiting for his father to show up.   The area where the basketball hoop hangs is etched with both light and shadow.  The cavernous crypt / pyramid near the conclusion of the film is filled with chiaroscuro lighting and fog, giving it a great ambience.   
The idea of letting beliefs get in the way of having good relationships with others is very much a theme throughout the picture.  Feeling guilty and ashamed, as well as rigid social expectations are at the heart of why Father O' Sullivan and Mary Therese / Tessie Smith went their seperate ways.   Also the 'new age' couple are more caught up with there, some would say, 'out there' beliefs, that they don't seem to be aware of the issues between each other.  It seems that Somtow was saying, "Don't allow rigid belief and adhereing to the status quo to get in the way of having a fulfilling and meaningful relationship with others."  This also pertains to the other theme of not running from your problems and take responsibilty for your life.  Father O' Sullivan and Mary Therese / Tessie come to realize that they have to face their past in order to continue on.  The 'new age' couple Clarisse and Wilbur also realize that they need to face certain things in order to have a harmonious existence.  Even though I think The Laughing Dead is a very good film, I realize it isn't everyone's cup of tea (as with all movies, I guess).
That's my opinion, yours may differ.  

John Carpenter style basketball.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Guinea Pig (1985)

Guinea Pig: Devil's Experiment (1985, dir. Satoru Ogura)

This "Guinea Pig" series reboot is a great idea!

Review by Goat Scrote

     Yes, this is the first one in the series that got Chas Balun in all that hot water with the FBI! 

     Although there are several repulsive scenes, “Guinea Pig” doesn’t even come close to living up to its reputation as an extreme shock classic. The entire thing is only 43 minutes long and there is no story to spend time on, yet it’s halfway through before actual blood flows. Since this movie seems to have no purpose for existing other than to showcase blood and guts, that means there is a whole lot of purposeless violent filler occupying screen time. With no context for the violence it just seems like a meaningless exercise in misogynistic torture fantasy. If that sounds like your thing, you may dig it. My personal reaction to "Guinea Pig" was boredom and distaste (not a good combination), except during the brutal finale which features artfully disturbing imagery and an outstandingly horrifying gore effect which is a must-watch for gorehounds and practical SFX nerds.

     Three men torture a woman, and she dies. There it is, the complete plot, in every detail. The abusers are anonymous and the victim never says anything. No one in the film is individualized or made into an actual character. There’s no explanation except that the project is claimed to be a series of experiments exploring the limits of suffering. Each “experiment” opens with a title card hinting at what kind of punishment they will inflict this time. This film is genuinely nothing but torture porn (and I use the term without malice), although they actually leave a lot of the worst of it out of view even during the gruesome and explicit final scene. They sacrifice quantity of gore for quality, which is usually the right trade-off.

     The movie presents itself as something which was obtained illicitly and redistributed, in a “Blair Witch” style marketing maneuver. Most of the time the perpetrators faces aren’t shown, which further lends to the feeling that we’re watching something we’re not supposed to be seeing. I suspect it was these facts combined with the plotless pseudo-porno presentation which confused certain drug-addled celebrities into mistaking “Guinea Pig” for a real snuff film.

Part 2: Flower of Flesh and blood was the tape that freaked Charlie Sheen out enough to alert the FBI. Here's what Dennis Daniel said about the embarrassing event after he lent out the tape. Well, when I finished with it, I sent it to my pal Chris Gore at FILM THREAT. He ended up lending it to a friend who watched it with Charlie Sheen, of all people!  Sheen thought the shit was REAL!!! He contacted a friend of his in the FBI and before you know it, I got a call from an FBI Agent saying that it was a federal offense to send snuff films through the mail! We’re talking 20 years in prison!!!!  I had remembered that Chas told me there was a tape called THE MAKING OF GUINEA PIG, so the FBI said I had to give him the contact info for the person who sent me the tape and they needed to send that “MAKING OF” tape as well. So, I had to call Chas and tell him all this. Needless to say, he was not pleased. I actually called him on his birthday and he was having a fucking grand old time till I called him with the info. Remember, Chas was a California hippie dude of epic proportions…the fact that I gave “the man” info about him was not too cool…but I had no choice. He was my only hope to prove it was fake. It all worked out in the end but it really sucked at the time.

     It begins with a woman handcuffed to a chair and several men dressed in black beating her. They rub salt in her eyes. They club her with a bag full of coins while one dude chills in the background casually enjoying a soda. Some time later, they throw her on the ground and kick her while verbally abusing her. Next they torture her with pliers pinching and twisting her skin. The most absurd torture arrives when they spin her around a whole lot on an office chair. After way too much time lingering on that, they force Jack Daniels down her gullet, and spin her around some more until she pukes.

     The second most absurd "experiment" is when they torture her with headphones roped to her head, playing something which sounds like a perfectly ordinary Merzbow recording. This goes on until she is a drooling wreck. Around 22 minutes into the runtime it starts to get gory as they pull out her fingernails. She is tied up and asleep when they start pouring boiling oil on her arm with a cringe-inducing sizzling sound. That’s one seriously fucked up alarm clock.

     Next up is the maggot torture. They pour maggots on the burns and sprinkle a few on her face just for the hell of it. She seems to be unconscious through it all. Maggots are pretty fucking gross, and the thought of them eating the dead flesh on her arm is unsettling. The entire maggot scene is about getting under our skin with psychological creepy crawlies.

     For their next amazing trick, the torturers throw raw meat and real animal guts on the woman. The guys, mostly off-camera, giggle and breath heavily like masturbating morons. She is unconscious, and the gut-throwing goes on and on for what feels like a really long time. Finally she wakes up and screams. Again, it’s pretty gross to have guts all over you, but mainly I am bored at this point in the movie. If you've cooked chicken or turkey in your kitchen, you've handled things just as gross as this. Like the maggots, it's something a quick shower can take care of..

     Things get drastic near the end. They move on to surgical incisions and smashing her hand with a sledgehammer. It does look pretty realistic. For the finale, they chain her head down and shove a long needled into her eye socket sideways. The eye socket floods with blood and the eye is skewered until it pops right out. Fulci and Bunuel would probably approve. It closes with what appears to be her corpse, dangling inside a net in the woods.

     After it was over I felt all the emotional involvement of having watched a practical f/x demo reel. It was very hard for me to connect with this movie, since I couldn't see any purpose beyond serial-killer stroke material or showing off their gore effects prowess. I would've liked it better as a five-minute short, and I don't think anything significant would be lost that way. I know that they were doing their very best to present something deeply disturbing, but other than a handful of short sequences, I had to fight to avoid letting my attention wander.

Recommendation: Only watch the ending, unless you are a huge fan of torture porn and fake snuff.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Winterbeast (1992)

Winterbeast (1992)

Review by Goat Scrote

     This movie is a reality-melting batshit insane piece of outsider art, and I love it. Imagine if "Hausu" and "Equinox" had a funny-looking little kid who was very sweet and tried very hard but was just really, really dumb, and maybe a little chemically unbalanced like his mother. That kid is "Winterbeast". And yes that analogy seems oddly specific.

     A few scenes were filmed in 1986, the rest was filmed over two days in 1989, and it was released on video in 1992. A couple of the props were recycled from a Dokken video. It’s one of the most badly-crafted movies I’ve seen in a long time, and also one of the most fun.
A photo of my reaction when I saw Greedo shoot first...
     "Winterbeast" is one of those amazing and truly special crap-fests which is massively entertaining despite no budget, no Rifftrax, and no one involved having had any concept of how to make a movie. Even though almost everything about it is wrong, this movie is certainly not a dull experience. After I finished watching it the first time I wanted to watch it again just to confirm that this bizarre film really existed. I needed to know that those memories weren't the feverish hallucinatory product of my crippling addictions to toad-licking and gasoline-huffing.
...and my eyeballs bursting into flames upon first viewing "Phantom Menace"
     "Winterbeast" was written and directed by Christopher Tiesen. Really, Mr. Tiesen? You're trying to convince me that there was a script for this? You're trying to tell me that this movie was directed? I may be dumb, but I'm not stupid, buddy! It stars some people that I don't recognize and neither will you, unless you're a relative. I don't want to research this one, people, I just want to let the good vibes flow off the claymation and soothe my aching mind.
Rejected Masters of the Universe concepts: Hentai-Man
     "Winterbeast" makes no sense at all. Half of the scenes don't seem to connect to anything else in the movie and there's hardly any attempt at a coherent explanation of what is going on. The dialogue and acting is on par with the storytelling, although the prissy, scenery-chewing resort owner is fun to watch. This extremely camp villain dresses in loud plaid suit-coats and similar garish couture. His fashions are eye-punishing.
What happens when a Sleestak fucks a chicken?
     I tried not to analyze what was happening too much because I was afraid that might cause a brain hemorrhage. It all has something to do with a cursed Native American something-or-other, evil totem poles, and the effeminate white guy who is, I guess, summoning monsters to kill people for, uh, some reason? Or maybe that's not what happened at all. It's hard to be certain. There are two guys investigating what’s going on and they clash with the evil resort owner over whether to close the lodge down because of the danger, unaware that he is involved with the sudden appearance of the monsters.
This is what bath salts will do to you, kids.
     Lots of really weird and harmful shit happens to random characters about whom we know nothing, and everything else just seems to be there to string us from one bizarre monster attack to the next one. The hilariously crude stop-motion creepy creatures come in all shapes and sizes. There's a blue-skinned zombie, a house-sized reptile, a giant birdlike monster, a wooden Gumby lookalike, a silly four-armed living totem pole, and more. Each monster appears, kills some people, then just wanders off forever. I suppose they all retired to a life of peaceful contemplation and were never seen again?
Free hugs! 
     There is really no point in giving much more of a plot summary of this movie. It's an accidental masterpiece of surrealist filmmaking. Okay, not really, but that sounded pretty good, right? For fans of schlock who want to turn their brain off and be mindlessly entertained for a while, I cannot recommend this highly enough. The screen shots from the film ought to give you a pretty good idea whether you're going to be into this or not, so I will let the pictures speak for themselves. Peace out, or whatever the kids say these days.

Damn! Okay white man, you win, your pit stench is totes fiercest.
When did this turn into "Nightmare Before Christmas"?
Am I colorblind, or simply mad? I'll never tell!
Oh no! Mr. Bill!
Bye folks! 
Oh, what the heck, one more for the road.

Monday, September 18, 2017

KRIS GILPIN IMHO DEPT. "Buchanan's Bergmanesque Berries!"

"Buchanan's Bergmanesque Berries!"

Reviewed By Kris Gilpin.

When I was lucky enough to get to talk with the late, great cheesemeister Larry ("Zontar, the Thing from Venus") Buchanan he told me, "And once I shot a Bergman knock-off I called Strawberries Need Rain [ha!], opened it in a few drive-ins and people at first bought it as a real Bergman film [ha!]." 

"Introducing" the lovely Monica Gayle (pretty face, great boobs) (even tho she'd been in, I believe, 8 features before that) as Erica, a young virgin who begs Death to give her 24 more hours of life--so she can get laid. Gayle is actually good in this & Death is played by Les Tremayne, who walks thru the whole movie lugging a scythe on his shoulders (Les also appeared in Buch's Creature of Destruction)....And half a decade later she would co-star as the sexy Patch in Switchblade Sisters ;-).
Crank notes- Monica Gayle, who I know most for her role as Patch in Switch Blade Sisters, was just in Take it out in Trade. She went from Ed Wood to another kind of low brow trying to be high brow schlock. Bergman's Wild Strawberries, which the title attempts to cash in on, came out in the 50s. I recently watched her in Nashville Girl, a film that shows the seedy underworld of a country star, Johnny Rodriguez shows up at one point.

First she tries to seduce an old friend, but he's just a dork who kisses pages of tit shots from soft core mags by flashlight under the covers at night & he doesn't know what to do when offered the real thing. Then she goes off with a motorcycle scumbag who beats her & tries to rape her, until Deathie gives him the scythe. Finally she hooks up with an old teacher of hers & . . . well, there ya go.

bring me the head of Buck Dharma!

This is nicely photographed (for L.B.) by Roger C. Jessup, who'd also shot 3 earlier films for our beloved writer-director, has some time-padding scenes (like walking thru fields, accompanied by cheesy folkish music of the time [1970], and drugstore shopping), and it's a typically amusing, different type of Buchanan epic, carried of course by Ms. Monica's natural charm(s)...SNR was shot silent, with dialogue & incidental sound FX dubbed in later.

charmed for sure, but those feet are dirty.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Man From Deep River

MAN FROM DEEP RIVER Directed By Umberto Lenzi, Starring Ivan Rassimov. (1972).

The last time I saw this flick, which is one of the goofiest trailers on the Mad Ron’s Prevues tape, was back in the 90's when Skunkape and I rented it on video from 16000. That place was my sanctuary, they had so much trash that no one appreciated. It was an off shoot of Blockbuster that strictly catered to trash and they had a porn section unlike the squeaky clean corporate conglomerate that now doesn't exist. This was in the pre-Tarantino era before everyone had already seen Cannibal Holocaust and the internet barely existed—aka “the golden era”, when we weren't all staring at our phones. I saw this just after Make Them Die Slowly (aka Cannibal Ferox) and it just didn't measure up in stomach churning sleaze.

the only picture I could find online connected to 16000 video.

From the interview with John Morgen (link), you may remember that Umberto Lenzi is a slime ball, who will go to any length to endanger his actors and murder animals on screen to rake in those exploitation Euros, so the “warning” after the credits, which boils down to "we filmed shit the cannibal tribes did without intervening, for that neorealism effect and didn’t stage any of the animal violence". I just can’t bring myself to buy it, can you? That's the common element through out this entire film, racist gobbilty gook that's as hard to swallow as broken glass.

let me outta this net, I gotta shiiittttt!

Anyway, this time around, I’m enjoying the acting stylings of Ivan Rassimov, he’s way more impressive than I recall. Even though his Play-doh yellow hair is slightly garnish, the dubbing doesn't really effect his charismatic performance.

According to the Third World Cannibal chapter by Steve Bissette in the DR Horror Handbook, this is the very first in a long line of the jungle misadventure, gut munching sub genre that we all know and love. This was inspired by the Richard “someone left the cake out in the rain” Harris flick A Man Called Horse (which I'm betting if I'd already seen would've clear up nothing that this film is trying to ape). It was all shot in Thailand in the Burmese jungle. A strange photo emerged in 2009 that was debunked by as a Buddhist ritual showing a man being dressed like a carcass and eaten, while smiling people pose. That's the only speculative claim that cannibals are in Thailand, but who knows, I mean I eat the fuck outta some Thai food and I ain't no savage. 

John Bradley (Rassimov) is captured by an Asian tribe and suspended in a net, while two men have their tongues cut out--I'm not sure why though.

This is where we first seen Me Me Lai (who is British and Burmese). Lai was in Jungle Holocaust next, which Lenzi was supposed to direct but ultimately spawned Ruggero Deodato's career and Eaten Alive (or Doomed to Die). The last film Lai appeared in was the Criterion Lars Von Trier film Element of Crime. I’ve always wondered if Trier was a fan of the cannibal sub genre. It incessantly bugged me how the tribe speaks another language but they’re never subtitled!   
If only you could comprehend what I'm saying you'd realize I have a spectacular egg salad recipe to share.

What’s very strange to me is how Bradley speculates that this tribe believes him to be a fish. Why does he think that, because they're complete morons? We never get to read what they’re actually saying, so it's doubtful they’re this stupid. The film pushes it’s agenda that savages don’t understand English and since we can’t communicate with each other, it makes up it’s own racist bullshit. One missionary villager even knows that Bradley is American and tries to release him but she must stay incognito, for fear that the tribe will punish her, for what reason I have no idea.

There’s no shortage of naked island babes swimming around and the score goes from soothingly mellow to jarring and intense.

tune in radio Thailand, are you receiving my signal?

The punishment John (Rassimov) receives for escaping is pretty creative, they shoot blowdarts at him through a wall, while a Rube Goldberg style contraption spins him around tied to a pole with a pasta maker attached to the top of his head. I feel like there’s not enough context for me to understand why these series of tortures occur, maybe the script writer dropped his macchiato all over the pages. 

Eventually, they force him solve all their problems, after almost killing him of course, I guess they had to put him through a trial. Next a series of real animals maul each other for the jollies of the Mondo craving audience. It’s pretty insulting (or maybe Trump-esque) that these “savages” are beneath us merely because they don’t speak the same language and are seen as primitive. Also I think if the film gave you their perspective, you'd relate to them more and hear their side. Rather than just consider them a threat because you can't understand them. He finally adapts to their ways (oh yeah and he can understand them but doesn’t speak the language). The third act sluices forward into a fucking romantic drama (with animal deaths thrown in). Ivan and Me Me even manage to produce a child, which he calls a little savage.

Oh yeah and we finally hit cannibal pay dirt but after an hour into the movie! The scene where a girl is hacked up and devoured  if I remember correctly was edited into Doomed to Die. In the DVD interview, Umberto says they found a hooker and just covered her in fake blood and buried her in the sand to get the effect that her limbs were being chewed on. Stay classy freaks!
This film is a benchmark in the sub genre but not mandatory viewing.


Friday, September 8, 2017

Steve Fenton Reviews: We're Going to Eat You.

(地獄無門 / Di yu wu men, a.k.a. HELL HAS NO GATES or NO DOOR TO HELL
Hong Kong, 1980. D: Tsui Hark 

Reviewed by Steve Fenton 

(Crank here with a short intro: I reviewed this film 5 years ago when I started this blog (link). Back then I would rattle off capsule reviews and hardly took notes. I'm always excited to read a different perspective on the same film, so I've convinced Steve Fenton to chip in a few reviews. Hopefully you know him from Weng's Chop and Monster besides other DR films he's tackled on this site respectively. And now on with the goods). 

As boss-cannibal The Chief says to his flunkies in regards to their—er—dog-eat-dog existence, “In our line of work, if you don’t eat people, they’ll eat you! If you don’t beat them, they’ll beat you!” Words to the wise… 

This movie’s title is probably most familiar to splatterheads as the US ad slogan for Lucio Fulci’s gutcruncher ZOMBIE (Zombi II, 1979), and it is quite feasible that Tsui Hark was influenced for this early feature (his second following THE BUTTERFLY MURDERS [蝶變 / Die bian, 1979]) by the then-still-ongoing Italian zombie/cannibal genres. According to an unsubstantiated rumor I once heard c/o Colin “Asian Eye/TIFF Midnight Madness/Shudder” Geddes, a Chinese story by Qing Dynasty scribe Pu Songling (a.k.a. 蒲松齡 [1640-1715])—possibly one from his collection Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio?—was likely also a source of inspiration here. Whichever way you slice it, however, WGTEY is indeed one bizarre pot of (to quote Alice Cooper from his classic horror track “The Black Widow” [1975]) “humanary stew”; and, since one man’s (or woman’s) meat is another’s poison, only those strong-stomached flesh-eaters with a liking for theirs not just rare but damn near raw need apply! 

A very erotic episode of Archie Bunker.

Firstly, before we plunge into the—ahem—meat of the matter, allow me to whet your appetite with this tasty tidbit of backstory: In 1992, a Communist dissident named Zheng Yi fled Mainland (i.e., Red) China for Hong Kong (which was then still some five years away from becoming re-assimilated back into the mother country’s jurisdiction [as happened in the fateful year of 1997]), risking his life to defect and reveal to the world at large the horrifying contents of a 600-page manuscript which he had in his possession and was eager to bring to light. This damning document exposed cases of mass public cannibalism organized by the Communist régime during the tumultuous social upheaval of the ’60s Chinese Cultural Revolution. At that time, subversives were reportedly systematically/summarily executed, butchered and then devoured by slavering throngs of loyal Reds. Chairman Mao Zedong believed it was a fine symbol of his people’s “class struggle”; his followers evidently believed it was a good excuse for a BBQ. Due to the sensitive, classified nature of the information contained in the smuggled manuscript for many years before it finally came to light in the early ’90s, it is doubtful that WGTEY’s main maker/mover’n’shaker Tsui drew from actual historical facts (other than perhaps whispered rumors), but—if the film is viewed in broader symbolic/satiric terms—the parallels with certain aspects of China’s then-recent past are noteworthy. 

who else feels like chicken tonight?

And so to the film itself… On an isolated jungle island somewhere in Republican China dwells a whole community of mad butchers—led by him respectfully known as The Chief—with a penchant for the taste of human meat; indeed, central to the community is an ominous brick-and-mortar building known (with good reason!) as the slaughterhouse. Any unwary outsider foolish enough to stray into the voracious villagers’ neck of the woods soon winds up slaughtered, deboned and dressed upon their chopping blocks, ready to be divvied-up for consumption by the locals at the communal dining hall (quaintly described as the “cafeteria” [!] in the English subs to my Mei Ah Entertainment disc edition of the film, which I scored back in the mid-2000s down in Toronto’s Chinatown on a bootleg DVD-R c/o the Triads for a mere two bucks Canuck). 

2 Buck Canuck, I wonder if that wine pairs well with human meat? 

Right in the prologue, a bunch of ersatz downsize Leatherfaces in butchers’ aprons wielding meat-axes, carving knives and bone-saws turn a couple of foolhardy trespassers into instant coldcuts. Close-ups of knives piercing flesh and choppers severing limbs are followed by a man being sawn in half at the waist. This all amounts to quite the garishly gruesome opener, for sure. Although there’s much stronger meat to be had these days, and HK cinema went to even greater lengths to unsettle stomachs in later decades (especially during the spate of ultra-violent “Category III” shockers made in the ’90s), back in the day this was mighty potent stuff, without doubt; even if, shades of its occidental kindred spirit/more-than-just-partial inspiration source THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE (1974, USA, D: Tobe Hooper), many of the bloody bodily atrocities committed in WGTEY are much more implied rather than actually graphically shown. That said, more-so than in Hooper’s comparatively restrained film, there’s still plenty of gory gruesomeness to be seen onscreen in the present one, so it’s hardly an exercise in subtle horror, by any means. 

you were expecting Anthony Wong?

Shortly into the narrative proper, a pair of omnivorous river travelers—a dope-smoking, shaggy-wigged “hippy” hobo/thief (Hon Kwok-choi) and a skilled young martial artist/Central Surveillance operative named Jian Men, alias Agent 999 (played by the rather Danny Lee-like Norman Chu Siu-keung, from WING CHUN [詠春, 1994, D: Yuen Wo-Ping])—stop off at the inhospitable isle of ravenous cannibals, who much prefer home-cooked vittles of the human kind rather than lowly chicken. At their village, the longhair is soon ‘molested’ by an oversexed (or possibly just seriously undersexed) Chinese giantess, who forcibly attempts to have her way with him. (“I’ve got syphilis”, he says in hopes of dissuading his seven-foot-plus seductress. Her good-natured reply is, “Hey, so do I!” Gee, it’s a small world, huh?) The XL female is played strictly for distasteful laughs by ‘her’ drag (?) actor, so it does come as rather a mean-spirited surprise for us when s/he too winds up chopped into extra-large cubes of stewing beef (or rather, “long pig”)—not by the cannibals, but by the heroes. Thankfully, this development isn’t dwelled upon in nauseating detail, but it still leaves a bad taste in the mouth anyway, being as the late oversized nymphomaniac amounted to one of the strange village’s more normal, likeable inhabitants. 
At least this flick is more tolerant than PantyHose Hero!

As befits his official title, The Chief (Eddy Ko Hung, sporting an obviously spurious stick-on ’stache and beardlet) is a militaristic, order-barking authoritarian in partial (if decidedly worse-for-wear-and-tear) uniform, who wields a combo swagger stick/cudgel as his scepter of office and in a later amusing scene bemoans the loneliness of his position as top dog in the pecking order. His #1 aide is a man called Rolex (Melvin Wong Gam-San), a fugitive—now-reformed—bandit who is Agent 999’s primary reason for being in the vicinity in the first place. Having sickened of the local yokels’ cannibalistic ways, the ex-criminal endeavors to put an end to them with the G-man’s help, while clearing his name in the process. 

Over the course of this outré scenario, veritable rivers of watered-down raspberry syrup-like blood are shown flowing in loving close-up, although much of the actual damage done to people’s bodies by all the various cold steel carving implements used is kept firmly out of frame, even if the editor’s juxtaposition of the various visual elements does succeed in making such scenes painful to witness nonetheless. Humor periodically segues to horror (and vice versa) without warning, but this queasy admixture of goofball slapstick comedy and extreme gore largely works, thanks to the staccato cutting—pun very much intended!—and Tsui’s morbid sense of humor, even if the gags do sometimes descend to lowbrow scatology (e.g., “I’ll feed you my farts!”), which was certainly nothing new for HK’s commercial cinema, even then.  

Cannibalistic citizens bicker over larger portions of “pie”, while the shunned/scorned town outcast is a vegetarian (or, worse still, possibly even an all-out Vegan?!) suffering from advanced malnutrition. An amorous wife asks her spouse for a bit of “heart”… literally! While eating noodles, a man finds a whole fingernail in his bowl, which is a whole lot grosser by far than finding a fly in your soup. When a strip of quivering flesh is slashed from his comrade, a flesheater smacks his lips appreciatively and promptly has a nibble of said mouth-wateringly tantalizing morsel. Even when bloodily dismembering victims, the masked meatmen are portrayed as comical lunkheads. Blades cleave skulls set to kooky Three Stooges-like sound effects, while frenetically clashing cymbals bring a disjointed, unsettling quality to the soundtrack, which also incorporates sundry “Halloween haunted house”-style spooky audio FX too; hell, even that familiar canned “wolf-howl” heard in innumerable horror flicks from both the Orient and the Occident is also reheard herein. The cannibals’ voracious appetite for manmeat is played for much broad farce, and human flesh is bartered like steak. The whole “humans-as-cattle” angle/subtext is emphasized further in a scene where two combatants buffet at each other with long-horned yak skulls like rutting male moose trying to outdo one another for a mate. Roller-skates, firecrackers and some impeccably-choreographed kung fu figure prominently at the climax of WGTEY, as does a grisly final twist. Even periodic (if only brief) lapses into philosophical pontification on the universal human condition fail to cause viewers’ attention to wander, and seem fitting to the overall surreal proceedings. 

Oh I'm sorry am I boring you?

All of this might well be interpreted as political allegory regarding Communist China (way back when in Tsui’s Son of the Incredibly Strange Film Show segment, droll host Jonathan Ross aptly called it “biting satire”). But there’s no need to bother with underlying ‘social commentary’ anyway if you don’t feel so inclined; by all means just sit back and enjoy the outrageous visuals! WGTEY is great fun entertainment, but if it happens to be your first-ever experience with HK cinema of the more out-there kind, you’re probably in for a bit of culture shock on top of all the other more visceral shocks you get from it. Cannibalism—even when stir-fried with absurdist Rabelaisian touches and (jet-black) humor—is understandably not exactly a popular topic in Hong Kong, even if so many local filmmakers have dabbled in such themes over the years (case in point some of those grislier “Cat III” serial killer shockers). Upon its initial release, WE’RE GOING TO EAT YOU proved to be a resounding commercial flop, as was Tsui’s other satirical/political piece from the same year, DANGEROUS ENCOUNTERS OF THE FIRST KIND (第一類型危險 / Di yi lei xing wei xian, see review here). Distributors treated both of these at-the-time unpopular films with great apathy and allowed them to gather dust in their vaults for many years, before the home video boom, which started catching-on in the ’80s and shows no signs of slowing down to this day (even if the technology has changed so drastically for the better in the meantime!), began gradually building-up their international fanbases; both films have long-since developed sizeable cult followings by now, and for hardcore HK-horror buffs, the present title—the most notorious of the two by far, for obvious reasons—amounts to absolutely mandatory viewing. 

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