Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Scum



Scum by Alan Clarke starring Ray Winstone. (1979).
                This is one of the most vile, gut punching portrayals of the British Borstal system that immediately grabs you by the neck and never lets go. It’s not in the Deep Red catalog, but really should be, it has the same institutionalized programming and vicious abuses of power that Men Behind the Sun has, but none of the gore content. It has the same social commentary about deprogramming and racist politics that authority figures instill in the innocent (or in this case guilty). The cycle of tyrannical authority, senseless beatings and depiction of the failure concerning the prison system gives it a ClockWork Orange quality. Ray Winstone plays Carlin who after getting a welcome kick in the balls right after being processed, he quickly learns the games of hierarchy within the prison system.  After being slapped repeatedly, he forms a stern face and turns the screws on his commanding abusers. He refuses to let them onto his plans to dominate the borstal system. The TV version was banned for some reason (I prefer this one). The cast is made up of authentic street toughs, plus half of the cast went on to Quadrophenia. There is a disgusting level of hatred toward abuses of power by the authority figures, who all look like Pythonesque caricatures with their itchy sweaters and spittle in the cracks of their gruesome mouths.
Archer played by Mick Ford is such a pacifist that he walks around bare foot in the freezing cold while shoveling gravel. The system is so corrupt that the only way Carlin is able to survive is to brutally beat other inmates with a pool ball and stomp out bullies’ guts in order to become the top man (or laughing referred to as “The Daddy”). Many of the scenes in this realistic portrayal of juvenile detention would be referenced in Rick Rosenthal’s Bad Boys (1983) with Sean Penn.  Both of these films show a bleak and honest version of the prison system ran by former inmates and criminals. As the other kids con, steal and play power games ,the authority  figures remain silent and distribute as many beatings as the inmates inflict on each other.  Everything explodes to a boiling point and erupts in violence, there is even a nonexistent therapy group run by a Matron who ridicules the death of a black inmate’s wife dying, forcing him read the letter and then wondering if his pet name for his wife “Candy” was a cat’s name. This film has one of the most tragic and brutal preteen suicides ever filmed as Davis (Julian Firth) after being gang raped, the warden looks on leeringly. Later, Davis serenely drifts away after slicing his wrists and then chickens out and cries for help, but is met with disdain from an authority figure who threatens to pummel him.  After anyone either snaps or cries for help they are always met with contempt and a vicious beating, such is the rule of authority in the barbaric borstal system. To me this is one of the best prison films of all time, it’s a realistic harrowing portrayal that doesn’t hold anything back and should be required viewing for people in the prison field and mental health industry.  



Very informative review found here:(( LINK))

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Night Warning


Night Warning (Butcher Baker Nightmare Maker) Directed by William Asher. Starring Susan Tyrell (1982)
   Susan Tyrell plays one of the most domineering incestuous, maniacal mother figures in Butcher Baker Nightmare Maker (or Night Warning). As much as Indiana Jones has a seething hatred for snakes, this film has a venomous hatred for gays! It's so offensively homophobic that instead of ending up on the dreaded video nasty list, it should have been sent to the Gay and Lesbian task force for crimes against humanity! It's that severe!
    Susan Tyrell sort of reprises this role of deranged mother years later in Buddy Boy as a domineering amputee to a psychotic son. Her child is really an orphan, who's parents leave him in her custody and die in a horrible accident (within the first couple of minutes of the film). Their brakes were suspiciously cut!, so is there a secret motive of murder? all will be revealed later...
   Jimmy McNichol (Kristy's identical brother, I mean they have the same "Farrah" do) plays Billy, the unfortunate victim to insane Aunt Cheryll (Susan Tyrell). Her irrational plan is to ruin his basketball scholarship and keep him confined to her house. She achieves this by coming on to some Beach Boys looking lurid character, accuse him of rape and then brutally stabs him to death. 

     When the police (played by Bo Svenson and Britt Leach) find him they spout dialogue like "the poor guy didn't even get his pecker out" and Bo says "lady I don't give a shit what you do". Two loveable neighbors (who have to suffer and pretend they like her pickled tomatoes!) come over for Billy's birthday find the victim dead.
     This film has a John Waters feel (later on Tyrell would star as Ramona Rickets in Cry Baby) or Bad Ronald and doesn't merit the dreaded "Video Nasty" moniker, even though it was banned in Britain. When Susan Tyrell is accused of being a lesbian by Svenson, her and the homophobic son go "You're sick!".
Bo keeps hanging out at the school gym and threatens to lynch the basketball coach for some odd reason (because he's gay???).
    Susan talks to a picture that looks like Larry Dallas (from Three's Company) that she built a shrine around. Bill Paxton accuses Billy of being gay, they get into a fight and Bo Svenson calls Billy a "Fag" over and over again. Svenson is one of the most unwanted corrupt cops incessantly threatening to break arms and comes off extremely homophobic (as does everyone in this movie)! It turns out the coach is gay and the way everyone handles it or talks about it, "like its a disease" is very tasteless. 

    This is a rare exploitative film that gay bashes, but I gather everyone is fair game in this kind of film genre.  The crime rate must be sky high in that town if cops like Bo and Leach are incessantly questioning everyone whether they are gay or not (in their minds gay=criminal). It's ridiculously offensive! 
    Aunt Cheryll won't let up and poison's Billy's milk and cookies(more than once) in an effort to sabotage his chances at a scholarship.She says things like "Don't go back to that school it's crawling with perverts!" and cuts all her hair off, going increasely more bananas! 
     She confides in the twerpy Larry Dallas (Chuck Strang) picture for all her problems and that it's their divine plan to keep him home forever (he's 17 years old). 

     This movie goes out of its way to promote intolerance in the same way "Fight For Your Life" uses a multicultural street gang to attack a religious black family. It does it to get under your skin, but its very jarring and unexpected. The police are the worse offenders, but Billy and Aunt Cheryll aren't any better, which makes them all very sleazy.She's a horrible cook (she can't pickle a tomato for shit and she dumps poison in the milk)!William Asher (Bewitched, The Frankie and Anette Beach Party movies!) is responsible for this Oedipus inspired mess!
Watch On Youtube


Eaten Alive




EATEN ALIVE (Tobe Hooper, 1977)
Robert Englund plays a grade-a scumbag who wants bargain butt-sex at a southeastern brothel. "Name's Buck, I'm rarin' to fuck," he says, while we get a good look at his belt buckle. It seems like a similar bit in "Kill Bill" could be a nod to this film?
The new girl with the ultra-platinum perm really isn't all that into him, and the freaky-looking madam of the place throws Clara out. She checks in at the local hotel, where the creepy owner keeps exotic pets, including a ferocious wild crocodile in the pond out back. Pet alligators are just not dangerous enough, apparently. Judd (Neville Brand) tells hilarious anecdotes about things it has killed. For some reason Clara doesn't laugh. By the time she figures out just how far up shit creek she is, it's too late. One vicious attack later and she is croc food.
It's a sign of trouble to come for poor misunderstood Judd when people start showing up looking for Clara. Buck wants to harrass her some more, and her family has been scouring the country for her. A bickering couple stops for the night with their daughter and their precious little dog Snoopy. Aw, Snoopy is adoraOH MY GOD SNOOOOPY! OH MY GOOOOOD!




The traumatized couple acts out deleted scenes of from "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolfe". The dad is not really riding the sanity train himself. He rants and barks like a dog. He has a shotgun and he is feeling deep hostility toward crocodiles which he needs to express through violence. Judd vetos this with a scythe and we get a glimpse of his favorite pet, which is starting to develop a taste for fresh humans.
Judd's wooden leg suggests he has lost a few bits and pieces to the croc himself. He has officially changed lines of employment from "innkeeper" to "spree killer", and it's bad news for everyone staying at the hotel. There's a brutal scene as he beats the mother in front of her daughter. His gleeful malice is pretty creepy as he chases the little girl in the crawlspace under the house. Clara's dad shows up at the wrong time and gets a scythe to the throat.




Mom he keeps prisoner. Buck shows up with his latest paramour and they insist on a room, but the screaming girl still hiding under the house gets their attention. This kid - destined to be one messed-up adult - witnesses as Buck is pitched into the water, while his mystery date does an archetypal slasher-movie "chase through the woods" sequence. Clara's sister finally discovers and releases the tied up mom, but the croc is loose under the house now with her daughter. Judd is extra super batshit unhinged running around with his scythe.
The situation is officially desperate. There is a hell of a lot of screaming and then a little poetic justice as Judd gets pitched into the croc pit, leaving behind only his wooden leg and a mountain of future psychiatric bills for the survivors.
This is a straightforward grindhouse/drive-in ready contribution to the sub-subgenre of "they check in but they don't check out" slasher movies like "Psycho" and "Vacancy". It's nutty and bloody and the plot is about as simple as it gets.

Review By GOAT SCOTE!

Available On Netflix

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Lisa & The Devil/ House Of Exorcism


A bunch of Mario Bava movies popped up on Netflix just in time for my favorite holiday. Sweet. A record of my pre-Halloween Mario-thon so far:

LISA AND THE DEVIL Directed by Mario Bava. Starring Telly Savalas and Elke Sommer (1974).
    I usually like the way Bava movies look. In this one the colors are intensely saturated. There's plenty of soft focus and fog. Bright primary colors are striking when they show up. Simple things like crumbling European alleyways, melted candles, and antique toys look truly beautiful. Mario Bava certainly had style. Eyes are a running theme throughout the movie. People spend a lot of time giving each other meaningful looks.
     The story is vague and a little dull. Lisa sees a fresco depicting the devil carrying off the dead. Shopping for antiques, she encounters a man (Telly Savalas) who looks just like the devil as depicted in the painting. Spooky events lead her to a palatial estate with a group of strangers... including the lollipop-sucking butler, who is also Telly Savalas. The place is home to a stern matron and her charming son, who immediately has the hots for Lisa.
Who Loves Ya Satan!
    Weird stuff goes on at the estate. Mysterious agendas, possible past lives, and murder are sprinkled throughout but it never really gels into much of anything except a really crap vacation for Lisa. There's a guy stalking her who keeps being dead then not dead and then dead and not dead again. Other times, he's a doll. Yes, it's a little confusing. We're not quite sure why anyone is doing... whatever it is they are doing.
    The devil sure seems to enjoy messing with Lisa's head. How much of this is real and how much is some illusion or hallucination? Over an hour in, I still don't really know what this movie is about. It all seems kind of random.
    Eventually, all the visitors to the estate get picked off except Lisa. It turns out the young man of the house is a bit of a psycho. And he seemed so nice! A fairly grody necro-drug-rape threesome ensues. It's not even close to "Nekromantik" weird or anything, but it's probably the only really disturbing part of the movie. There are some very stylish, surreal scenes that sneak up on you, like the victims all arrayed at the dinner table, or when Lisa wakes up to find herself in a bedroom overgrown with wild plants. Eventually she manages to get the hell out of there and hops a plane back home, but she can never escape the devil... the movie is over and I'm not totally sure what it was all supposed to mean. I mean, I get it... the devil is escorting souls to hell, just like in the fresco at the beginning... but it's a weak ending and it doesn't really explain why the events of the movie happened instead of some completely different series of bizarre events. Expression of profound Kafka-esque nihilism or just plain silly?
I for one am shock and appalled!

HOUSE OF EXORCISM
    When "Lisa and the Devil" flopped, Bava was pushed into reworking it into a rip-off of "The Exorcist". There's even a pea-soup vomit scene. "House of Exorcism" is a different movie made with the footage from "Lisa and the Devil" with the demon-possession bit filmed later and added in.
    In the new story, Lisa comes down with a serious case of possession while on vacation and ends up in a hospital. The doctors think she's just crazy, a priest thinks she has some sort of chronic inflammation of the soul. When she starts telekinetically flinging things around, it's clear who made the correct diagnosis. Most of the first movie gets recycled in a slightly condensed form as a series of extended flashbacks. Satan's got a serious potty mouth and the body of a contortionist, of course, but it never gets quite as raunchy as "The Exorcist". Some of the possessed dialogue is pretty funny:
    "Where did you come from?"
    "From a cunt, you jerk!"
    Ha!
    I had a lot more fun watching this one, partly because it's so much trashier and more lurid than "Lisa and the Devil". Adding the demon-possession storyline actually gives some structure to a previously rather shapeless plot. There's less lingering on images and more story to tell so things move along at a faster pace. The downside is that some of the most visually striking parts of the film aren't there. As goofy as the ending is in the original version, it's still probably a better ending than the extra-weak "exorcism" of the evil house that we finish up with here. On balance watch this one if you're going to watch either one, but there's better Mario Bava fare out there.
Reviewed by Goat Scrote
Both are available on Netflix

Get thee back Campbell's chunky pea soup!
Another doll beat me up on the Twilight Zone

Last House On Dead End Street





Last House On Dead End Street (The Funhouse, Cuckoo Clocks of Hell) Directed by Roger Michael Watkins (as Victor Janos). 1972
This is a very mysterious film that way back in the mid 90’s when I bought it from Chas Balun, no one had the real story of where it came from or how it was made. This didn’t stop the gore community (namely The Creation Book: Killing For Culture) from inventing and speculating ridiculous nonsense about what they thought went on. They were inspired by The Psychotronic review (as many others were) to seek out what actually happened, but they decided to make it up. Later however David Kerkes totally redeemed his credibility by flying out to NYC and hunting down everyone involved in the production and got the real story (printed in Headpress 23). In my opinion Weldon is the authority on exploitation and this is one of my favorite reviews, taken from a perspective of the pre-Internet world. He got the ball rolling and others went further to dissolve the ridiculous rumor that it was an actual snuff film. A few years later on a message board, someone online (the real Roger Watkins) appeared to tell his side of the story and afterwards, The Barrell Entertainment DVD came out with commentary from Watkins and Chas Balun, the record clearly had to be set straight! Also included is a selection from the library score (taken from the RETRO-TEQUE blog) that Skunkape graciously edited this track together.
           Terry (Watkins) a giggling maniac, who looks like a future member of the Ramones with his black leather jacket and long hair, narrates, explaining that he had just served a year in the state pen. We see bits of flashfowards; like Terry’s hands wrapped around someone’s throat (this is footage left over from the original cut, which is lost) and Hawkins partner Ken Fisher pulling out intestines (which reveal an amateur surgery scene from the ending too early).
Ken spouts deranged lines like “You know what I like? Tits like bananas and leather”. He is a typical porn creep lowlife (like Bill Margold).
 We see genuine slaughterhouse footage (that Watkins filmed on his own), which in the original cut of Cuckoo Clocks Of Hell is a lot longer.
Terry Hawkins hooks up with Bill, a gutless cameraman and two Manson-like former prostitutes. None of these people seem thrilled to join Hawkins on his murder spree and none of them know what they are getting into. All they are told is that they will be involved in making weird movies no one has ever seen before. His mission is to get revenge on the filmmakers that put him in jail.
            Palmer (Ed Pixley) shows his latest sex shorts. A woman takes a bubble bath (in b/w) and two naked women start to make out. A lot of footage was shot and either left out or rearranged by producers trying to market it as a fake sequel to Last House On The Left (the film actually came out after Dead End Street). Fisher in the interview conducted by David Kerkes, mentions that a Broadway wannabe actress hauled him into court and lost her case by a slim margin, she was bent out of shape because there was cheesecake footage intended for the loops that Terry and Palmer watch, but were never used. Meanwhile at the party, Palmer's masochist wife puts on blackface makeup (in extreme greasy close up) then is whipped continuously by a guy pretending to be a hunchback. The guests laugh and/or get turned on by the pain. These people are the eventual victims in Hawkins' snuff film.

Mrs. Palmer is disemboweled. Hawkins wears a large mask that looks like a head in Zardoz. The other killers wear clear masks. They are passed around ritualistically; all of these masks were utilized from the Oneonta theater department at SUNY. The killings were inspired by Manson and Hawkins was a student of quality horror films and influences (Fellini, Serling, Shakespeare, Hammer Films). There is a story in the Headpress book, where Watkins got a job on Blood Orgy Of The She Devils and referred to T.V. Mikels as one of the shittiest filmmakers he’s ever witnessed. There was a black man who acted in the film saying “there are no good roles for black actors” Watkins mentions Othello and the guy actually had no idea what he was talking about, immediately after, Watkins left the set in anger!
            The whipping scene and a man forced to suck on a deer hoof sticking out from a girl's crotch could have been in Euro art films. It’s still disturbing and impressive considering the minimal budget (hundreds of dollars). A poster for PSYCHOPATH ("Mother may I go out and kill?”) is seen on the wall, which is one of the inspirations for Maniac 2: Mr. Robbie.
There are giant Rocky Horror like red lips hanging on the wall (which were found by Ken Fisher). The deluxe two DVD set comes with an illustrated booklet by British Headpress magazine editor David Kerekes, who first learned of this movie in the first Psychotronic book. The "It's only a move" ad was reproduced and Weldon asked "Have you ever heard anyone even admit that they saw it?" Kerekes vowed to find the movie and the director. Turns out it was filmed (as Cuckoo Clocks of Hell) using 16mm ansco color film in and around SUNY University, Oneonta, NY during 72/73 by Watkins (under several pseudonyms) using his father's money and film lab connections. Actor’s were students or college professors of the director (who says he was high on speed at the time) It was first released in the South as Funhouse, in 77 played 42nd st. in 79,was briefly available on tape, then became a word of mouth cult item. The DVD includes 4 of the director’s silent shorts with commentary. One is a childhood basement production inspired by The Pit and The Pendulum. You can see Watkins grow up from an innocent seeming horror fan kid to a speed freak young man, to a depraved adult. From 75 to 89 he directed many NYC area porn movies (many with S+M themes) as Richard Mahler. (Partial source: Psychotronic Video)
          (Crankenstein’s take on Last House on Dead End Street): I had no idea what I was in for as I popped in the VHS and awaited the frightening scenes of carnage. You must remember that at the time this film was shrouded in rumors. The rumor was very powerful: that it was an authentic snuff film and all the names in the credits were changed to protect the supposed guilty (it was impossible not to be captivated by its reputation).
           The music score immediately infects your subconscious (those library phased out psychedelic choral voices made it extra ghastly). The black humor is present through out and the cut and paste style editing made it seem criminal in some way. I defy anyone to watch the last half and not be repulsed by the scenes of carnage, torture and humiliation. A victim on the operating table is cut open and woken up by smelling salts after passing out. Watkins was attempting to recreate what it must have been like for the thrill killing Manson Family, gleefully destroying the rich and powerful. It’s one of the most hateful nihilistic films ever. In the production phone calls section on the DVD (which get increasingly weirder), he mentions the premise of the film project as a recreation of the Manson family murders on the phone. The doe foot blowjob scene is one of the most disturbing and graphic images ever filmed (Watkins was a Bunuel and experimental film fan). It’s all very calculated and even though haphazardly re-edited by someone else without director permission (he vents about this on the commentary), it is still ahead of its time and would hold up now among today’s jaded horror fans. Watkins died on March 2007.

            Killing For Culture asks who is Victor Janos? They speculate how it was filmed without sound and later dubbed to create an ominous Snuff connotation that it was filmed in a secret location “Where life is cheap”. This book came out in 1994 and for those who had seen this film, they were in on the confusion and many would be duped into thinking it may have been a genuine snuff film. The DVD has some of the greatest commentary tracks ever recorded as Watkins and Balun ham it up, cackle like maniacs and give away all the tricks and secrets that every underground gorehound craved. Trying to keep my distance from this film’s use of mixing real horror (Cow footage) with fake I found it more intriguing and grudgingly came to respect it even more. David Kerkes rectified the errors of the "Killing For Culture" book by going more in depth in HeadPress 23. All of the details are layed out and nothing is eclipsed by rumor or hearsay, each scene is described by the people who were there and worked on the production. From the article you can tell how influenced Watkins was by that University environment and utilized the help of teachers and students to create his twisted vision. Most film school grads will never make a film (Hawkins was a product of the street level guerrilla filmmakers) and though this is his only film, it’s quite a grassroots achievement. When you consider the pathos and horror is inflicts on its audience with the cheapest tricks available its very effective. They used a real cow’s eyeball for the drill segment at the finally. The title “Cuckoo Clocks Of Hell” was taken from Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut, the artistic influence is light years ahead of complete trash like Savage Weekend or Lucker The Necrophagous and the more I research how this film was made, the more I’m astounded that I didn’t respect it from the beginning. The most hilarious part about the Kerkes article relates to the film premiere at 42 st. in its zenith of sleaze. Paul Jensen (who is still a professor at SUNY, give him a good rating at ratemyprofessor.com) says they were the only white people in the theater and everyone was yelling at the screen. He couldn’t tell if they liked it or hated it, but they were afraid someone would recognize Watkins in the theater as the guy in the Zardoz mask. Later someone did and mentioned how he was the guy throwing animal guts around! There’s a hilarious Joe Franklin interview on Youtube (also included on the DVD). Unfortunately it’s not available on DVD since The Barrel version went out of print.
Terry Hawkins Odyssey track
          


Theater of Guts
Tribute Trailer


Saturday, October 27, 2012

Living Dead Girl





Living Dead Girl(La Morte Vivante) Directed Jean Rollin. Starring Fran├žoise Blanchard. (1982).
                1982 was an insane year for film, mainstream and cult and I have to look at Living Dead Girl in that context, you had Star Trek 2, E.T.,CreepShow, Dark Crystal, The Entity and The Beast Master all classics in my book! So I’m not surprised that someone like Jean Rollin got overshadowed and forgotten by many (accept goths and creeps with lesbian vampire fetishes). This whole scene turned me off to the Rollin and I overlooked his films, this is actually the first one I’ve ever watched. It’s conveniently on Netflix instant and Fandor, which is cool, otherwise I might not have sought it out. At a castle two french wino delivery men lug chemical waste down into the crypt. It turns out they are broke delivery men and their tips are dead people’s belongings! They proceed to rob the corpse of an old woman lying in a coffin (taking her rings and jewlery). One of the thieves looks like Eric Idle. An earthquake knocks  over the barrel of toxic waste and it spills on a fat guy, mutating his face. An icy blonde springs forth out of nowhere and squishes out Eric Idle’s eyeballs! Catherine Valmont is the icy blonde( who looks like an undead Nico from the Velvet Underground to me). She kills everyone in sight (or those that enter her property). Meanwhile two visiting photographers at a Country Inn notice Catherine. They both speak English, but are subtitled. The wanna-be actress played by Carina Barone takes a picture of the lifeless Nico (Catherine), her dress remains white even though she’s been busy gouging out eyes and pulling throats open.
                Catherine stands among her odd collection of strange items (like an armless Christ and a creepy rocking horse) as her castle is being sold by a very butch realtor. She is haunted by the memory of her childhood friend Helene. As children they both made a solemn vow and a blood ritual that “if one dies first, the other follows”, Helene lives and breaks her promise.  The butch realtor sneaks into the castle late at night and has sex with her boyfriend, who looks like Van Morrison. Undead Nico plays the piano, intterupting them, but they think its only a rat. Van is killed and he spurts blood from his throat right into his girlfriends face like a revolting orgasm. Nico plunges her deadly fingers into the realtors neck and kills her too. So far there has been three naked girls and tons of gore, I think I’m on board the lesbian vampire cruise to discovering Jean Rollin as an important film maker. Helen arrives and hooks up with her old friend and agrees to feed her blood (here comes the erotic lesbian connotation). There relationship develops into the Frank and Julia one like in Hellraiser, where she brings the victims and he or she drains the blood. Nico gets naked as she clutches a music box (her pubic hair is crooked). At first I wondered if she wasn’t actually dead, but merely insane and heartbroken, sleeping in a coffin. The plaque with her name on it confirms that she is most likely dead and her “Blood” sister has to clean up after her meals (of human blood). Talk about an enabling girlfriend!! The wanna-be actress is fascinated and quickly turns into more of an investigative journalist, it ends badly for her. There's a gruesome scene where Nico squeezes the shit out of this girl's intestines (El Guapo style!). All the french actors in this film (living or dead) are very pasty. This is a good gateway film if you are reluctant to seek out Jean Rollin, another film maker on the same level of underappreciation is Paul Naschy. Rob Zombie later named a song after this film, but I'm no fan of his musical work (and his film work is rapidly getting worse).
 Available on Fandor



It's a marvelous night for a blood bath

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Combat Shock


Combat Shock (American Nightmares) Directed by Buddy Giovinazzo. Starring Ricky G. (1984).
    Troma has a surly reputation for buying up trash, churning out sewage and spewing out underrated treasures without anyone noticing. Many of them are worth your time, but get caught in the tuna net of scum or eclipsed by the massive output of diarrhea.
    I first saw American Nightmares waay before Combat Shock in high school (1990). Combat Shock is the truncated version of Buddy G's film school thesis and I never saw that cut until my good friend Skunkape graciously mailed me the pristine Troma (Criterion style) remastered edition. The only difference I could tell was that they added Nam stock footage and the drawn out beginning was shorter, which sped up the pace along better. Buddy G. is vastly ahead of his time as a filmmaker (that people are still unfamiliar with and should know his work)! If you need further confirmation see his equally violent and nihilistic “Life is Hot In Cracktown”. Frankie (played by Ricky G.) is a struggling vet who lives in a bombed out apartment with a ventilator constantly running (one of the many tributes to Eraserhead). His ugly wife is constantly bitching at him and his Agent Orange afflicted child will not stop crying. Right from the moment he awakes from a flashback into a vicious reality nightmare, we are doomed from the start. The socio-economic climate today on the surface is better (everyone has a computer on their phone, everyone can access instant movies), but not much has changed. Staten Island at the time served the storyline perfectly to convey the bleakness and hopelessness. It looked like a warzone (on the commentary with Nekromantik director Jorge Buttgerit, Buddy mentions how the city complained how it was portrayed). This film has aged well with time and comes off more prophetic then dated. Frankie walks around endlessly around the garbage infested wilderness like a zombie. The casio soundtrack is oddly infectious and performed by Ricky G.
    When Frankie finally does snap and all events directly lead to a boiling point you can’t blame him. An acid trip like effect is used to project jungle footage over his face (making it almost a no budget 2001:A Space Odyssey tribute). You never can identify with him once he crosses over and kills his family, shoves his child in the oven takes it out and cradles it while drops of gore spill on his Keds. You are not allowed to identify with him, but you can’t help feel empathy for his wasted existence as a thrown away tin foil soldier. Drug kingpin “Paco” and his henchmen who run the streets are pathetically menacing (one looks like Zach Galifianakis in Asian gear). Eddie Pepitone (future Sara Silverman background actor) and Mike the junkie, scutter around like drug infested vermin. Mike cuts open his vein with a hanger, pours in a packet of drug powder and O.D.’s.
   During this time, Reagan was in charge, Chuck Norris and Rambo were kicking ass on the silver screen. And of course mental health issues and post traumatic stress were ignored or not taken seriously. Things haven’t changed much in that context for today’s  society. How can I justify my review of this tape without mentioning the brilliance of The Father, Son and Holy Ghost video the holy grail of retarded  metal videos! After the depressing film the music videos are a welcome addition. Also included are the insanely entertaining short works of Buddy G. (also on the DVD) and the horrifically chipper/ cryptic songs of Buddy and Ricky G’s band Circus 2000 A.D.!! They sound like a combination of Billy Joel and Devo! I couldn't live with myself if I didn’t mention that brilliance!
Check out the rare In the Name of video (that I thought was directed by Buddy G. but wasn't) ((LINK))
and Troma's cut of Combat Shock. Watch Here
Circus 2000 Vid

Mutant Baby

Psychedelic freakout!

I go back every night without fail

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Killer Snakes



Killer Snakes (She Sha Shou) Directed By Chih-Hung Kuei. Starring Kwok Lueng-Gan (1975).
            After Calamity Of Snakes this polished cinematic opus looks like an amphibian Citizen Kane! I actually switched this one off during lunch time to get a breather from the geek show carnage of Calamity, then had to just turn both of them off and enjoy my lunch. I have a phobia of watching real animals die while I’m eating (even non meat dishes). Killer Snakes has many of The Shaw Brothers staples you’ve come to know and love (Full bush, sadism), but this is a different breed of animal revenge film. It’s not like Black Magic or Seeding Of A Ghost because its missing maggots, voodoo and sorcery, instead its replaced by geek show antics! Killer Snakes takes the S&M subgenre and throws in slimy reptiles (still intrigued?, then like me you’ve got mental problems)!!
            The protagonist is a kitchen worker named Zhihong (played by Kwok Lueng-Gan), who seems harmless enough and feels empathy for a wounded snake that had an organ removed. The snake got off easy compare too the poor bastards that were mashed into pulp in Calamity Of Snakes. The same Asian remedies for everything under the sun are promised on the streets by snake oil salesman (literally!) and con artists. There is a lot of truth to this depiction and illegal organs and exotic animals sadly are senselessly killed and sold as delicacies and medicine in Hong Kong even today. Already you must be thinking that Killer Snakes has a lot more depth than Calamity and you’re half right!           
            At first I felt sorry for this demented loner/ kitchen worker. But as you may know from films like Ebola Syndrome and Maniac 2: Mr. Robbie, kitchen workers are psychotic madmen hell bent on poisoning people! The cobra telepathically summons his army of blood-thirsty snakes that await to strike who ever Zhihong thinks deserve punishment, like girls who won’t put out! He pathetically strikes up a relationship with a cute girl, but he’s too unhinged to act normal for three minutes. He goes back to hanging out with creatures that never talk back.  According to a user on IMDB.com, Snakes is actually based on two films Willard  and Stanley (two killer animal films one with Moe Green straight after The GodFather!), this doesn’t bother me, because the Shaw Brothers are so incredibly talented that they could ripoff RoboCop and I’d still think it was a good as the original! If you are looking for a sleazy demented killer reptile flick with S&M and revenge dished out by the underdog against an uncaring society, then check it out. But what ever you do try not to watch two snake flicks in a row like I did, because you will psychologically compare them. This one is a lot easier on the eyes then a lot of Hong Kong horror and Kung Fu epics by The Shaw team. 
Available for rent on Netflix.




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