Friday, March 28, 2014

Mardi Gras Massacre

Directed by Jack Weis. Starring nobody who wants to admit to being in it. (1978)
Review By Graham Rae

Mardi Gras Massacre. Zipadee doodah. Does the world really want or need another review of a shitty 38-year-old splatter film that nobody cares about anymore? What’s that you say? Yes? Because that’s what this site is about, reviews of films in Chas Balun’s video trade catalog? Okay, well, here you go then:

Weird guy who wants an “evil” woman picks up various hookers in bars (one of whom “could probably take first prize in any evil contest”), takes them home, and sacrifices them some Aztec deity by cutting their hearts out, whilst a horrible disco-cum-weird-crap soundtrack farts inappropriately across the scenes. Two stupid cops try to catch him. One falls in love with a hooker. Bad acting abounds. Some more stuff happens. The copsuckers chase the sacrificial murderer. He jumps into a police car and drives straight into a river for no reason. But there is no body in the car, which is the set up for a thankfully nonexistent sequel. The End.

Bloodfeast 2: Egyptian Fiesta

What’s that you say? I should have given you a spoiler alert? Why? Here’s one: the whole fucking film is spoiled, there’s your alert! The only people who care about this film are horror nerd completists who want to say they have seen every film with the word ‘massacre’ in the title. But you know what’s far worse than it just being a terrible piece of pathologically misogynistic hamfisted garbage? This film is a killer of hope, a slayer of artistic fantasies, a weary charnel house of young cinematic dreams. 

Fuad Ramses would not approve

Consider if you will: The director, fumbling with his girlfriend’s bra in a drive-in somewhere in 1963 as Blood Feast oozes, burps, gurgles and splatters across the appalled screen. One eye on HG Lewis’s timeless anti-classic, the other on the pert young breasts slowly coming into damn-this-fucking-bra view, he thinks one day I too will make my own worthless piece of celluloid excrement, to rival or even surpass this one, throwing body parts around and cutting out hearts and OWWW! His future filmmaker reveries are cut cruelly short by his girlfriend slapping his face for twisting her nipple too hard, and she jumps out of the car and storms off, slamming the door hard and cursing him as she does. But he never, ever forgets, and 15 long years later his own cataract-clouded vision is dumped on a bored, sniggering, bloodthirsty, unforgiving audience. He briefly forgets the people he frightened with his films along the way, and those disowned terrible early Super 8 porno loops of his involving…well, you’ll know what was in them, the court case was quite famous. All this is not what he expected or wanted, and he dies in a shooting gallery a few years later of a Drano overdose, cursing the deceptively easy art of filmmaking with his last sad halitosis breath just before the other junkies pick his pocket and scram before the police get there.

Jack Weis loves the nightlife and likes to boogie 

The makeup FX guy, inspired beyond belief by the Utterly Godlike Genius of his hero Tom Savini’s seminal work on Dawn of the Dead, and his porno mustache. He eagerly constantly practices his sleight-of-hand makeup wares and tears on unwary friends and family, causing his parents and siblings to mutter darkly about his mental health and having him institutionalized. But nothing and nobody can stop a man possessed by the will to disgust people with his FX on the silver-cum-blood-splattered screen! He will not be stopped! He lops off cheap plastic limbs, pours endless gallons of sticky, chunky Karo syrup blood, and rigs up exploding condoms to poorly mimic gunshots until he thinks his heart will burst with pride at his subpar work. Finally…it all comes to fruition! His big chance! A horror film! He gets to do the same cheapjack effect over and over again, cutting open a pathetically fake, waxy torso and pulling the heart from it! He laughs heartily at all those he alienated and who thought he would end up a serial killer along the way, including his friends and family, and goes home to his skanky lonely apartment to drink cheap wine and eat from a can, wishing he had money to pay the electricity bill so he could have warmed up the contents before eating.

Not bad for a dime store outlet special effect

filmed in Technicolor diarrhea brown and beige

The set designer. As a child, he would sit and ooh and ahh and coo and handclap when watching things on the big screen like the vivid primary colors in the Elizabeth Taylor production of Cleopatra, the decorative, dazzling mauves and emeralds and cobalt blues sending a coded arousing message his nascent (homo)sexuality would not quite able to figure out yet. But as those gorgeous neon-hued colors dripped and drizzled across his lap, staining his popcorn and his young future set designer dreams, he instantly knew in which direction he wanted to aim his life – if not yet which direction to aim his cock. And so he studied all the greats on video and at the cinema, pausing videotapes, comparing color charts and wallpapers, reading American Cinematographer, taking notes, performing anachronistic feng shui calisthenics behind his fevered everything-is-art eyes, redesigning the natural world constantly until it fit his precious and precocious aesthetic vision. The first couple of high school plays he did were awful except for his extravagant-rainbow-motif work, which was applauded by his hush-hush young lover in the high school newspaper, the hunky dreamboat Rusty, but at least he started to get his visual message out there. Until, through a combination of happenstance and good luck, he finally chanced upon his maiden cinematic experience. Mardi Gras Massacre, huh, okay, geez, whatever. Cheap gig, obviously. “OK kid, make us up a sacrificial chamber, this cuckoo asshole has to murder some women on a table. Hang some big crimson curtains with – hey waitaminute, make everything crimson, I like it, shit, crimson like blood, real high concept shit, yeah, everything crimson, the cheap sacrificial table, the Aztec altar, alla that shit. Just let your imagination go wild. Long as it’s cheap and crimson. Go to it, kid!” And so our poor set designer does as he is told, simmering once-unstoppable aesthetic dreams cruelly crushed by the weight of cheap splatter movie set design reality. After he finishes he cannot bear to watch the end product and takes to the streets, selling himself as a rent boy until he finds a sugar daddy to take him away from it all and to help him blank out his nightly-nightmare-retraced experiences on the splatter set that wake him up in the early hours before dawn and that only valium and absinthe and crying will obliterate.

Care for a nice cold Steel Reserve 

The actress. Skinny kid in school, arty, kind of kooky. Always into theater and dance, kind of a nerd, bit weird, intense, into Sylvia Plath, misunderstood, but along with it, you know, dreams far beyond her small town horizons. Truly believing that the magic of the tarantella she could easily astound her peer group and dance class with would propel her to the heights of stardom. She would hit Broadway – okay, maybe off-Broadway for five minutes, just to give her time to dazzle and be discovered, don’t want to too be too unrealistic – like a whirling spinning prancing jumping trotting comet, a kinesthetic (got that word from some poetry book whose title couldn’t remember, and often used it to show her superior intellect) vision of untouchable purity, a trip beyond all current available dance processes. Shrugging off the cooling loins and tears of smitten young male and female lovers she strode boldly into the New Orleans night, long bus journey and sore ass a necessary evil.

Art or Arse, you be the judge

She was ready to strut her stuff, the roar of the crowd and the smell of the greasepaint ringing in her ears and nose, her get-outta-my-way searing upward trajectory nothing but a natural phenomenon given the weight and heft of her easily-wielded anybody-can-see talent. Couple of small dancing gigs here and there, the odd lapdance poleslide embarrassingly endured, smacking sticky prying fingers on small stages in intimate rooms from drunk patrons in the front row, the show must go on, ignore these assholes, when I am dancing like Nijinsky and Nureyev across that not-too-far Broadway stage I will laugh last and long at these salad days memories. But somehow and somewhere it never went quite right for her, as it doesn’t for a thwarted great many, and she grew despondent, weary, towel-throwing-in. Until…on the horizon…a dim maybe-redemptive…chance! A film! Director looking to prove himself, horror flick, kind of cynical, sleazy, “OK girl, you get naked and do your dance moves round this brown – HEY MOTHERFUCKER, I SAID I WANTED CRIMSON! – this sacrificial table, altar, whatever. I know you got the moves, you can do a pas de deux like a motherfucker, and I know you’re supple, you were like a goddam gymnast in bed last night. Show this crazy murderer asshole, girl, show him the beauty he is murdering, dance naked, show him the evil error of his ways before he ties you down and cuts your heart out! Don’t be sad, stop crying, this is your big chance, this will play in Peoria! Stop crying! OK, lights, camera…ACTION!” And so she sniffles and raises her chin high and rises above her sordid surroundings and circumstances and dances and kicks her legs high overhead, elegant swan-like movements coming through loud and clear on the grimy recording 16mm celluloid, the camera comprehensively documenting her descent into an inferno of no uncertain ending. After filming she disappears into the night, maybe back to the black hole of her small town home, maybe into the cold dark hiding places that proliferate in any big conspiratorial city, nobody on the production quite knows or cares, and she is not at the premiere or any screening ever. She is forever a mystery, a question mark, a dream unfulfilled.

This should be just enough for gas money and a cheap lunch

Well, I could go on, but I think you catch my drift. Doesn’t anybody else ever watch these films and think damn, I wonder what happened to this dancer woman, or this stupid bartender guy, did they really think they were going to be famous in a stupid fucking flickershow like this? Watching certain movies, you can’t quite believe that grown men and women wasted precious days of their lives making them, and this is most certainly one of those chinstroker hmmm-I-wonder-inspiring epics. You wonder if the people in it went onto anything else, or if they just gave up any nascent dreams of stardom and went back to the silent midnight valley of nothing of life far away from cheap sets and never-lived-down filmic embarrassment.

Russ Meyer's gumshoe brother Hortense
Well, I occasionally wonder. But not very hard. I guess it might be easy enough to find out what some of them did after, as the net is a wonderful tool for facilitating pointless research into worthless subjects, but really I don’t care and, let’s face it, neither do you. And neither did the people making this film when they made it, either, so we should just return the favor and let this guitar-picks-of-the-future (historically, old film prints were melted down to be made into guitar picks) garbage slide back into the Stygian, talent-free depths it slimed up from. But sometimes…spare a thought. For the crushed dreamers. For the abused thespians. For the bruised-brain directors. For the now-colorblind set designers. For the turned-accountant dancers. For the ex-FX guy now working in a hardware store. After all, there but for the (dis)grace of Mardi Gras Massacre go you and I…


I just moved in with Red Fox and another portly fellow named Cal

This roll of singles made it all worth while

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