Monday, September 28, 2015

"Did You Find Him?" By Graham Rae

OK! Get ready Nekromantik/ Graham Rae / Xerox Ferox maniacs because you are about to read something that will blow your face completely off, knock your dick in the dirt and warp your mind temporarily! Thanks so much to Graham Rae, David Kerekes, John Szpunar and Jorg Buttgereit for allowing me to publish this little historic moment- E. 



On Wednesday, July 11th, 2012, I drove Jorg Buttgereit, the director of the (in)famous Nekromantik films, to the grave of Edward Theodore Gein in Plainfield Cemetery, Plainfield, Wisconsin. It was truly one of the most surreal and strange things I have ever done, and even now it seems almost difficult to believe it ever really happened.
      The whole trip thing started out as a kind of joke. Jorg had said that he was going to be in Indiana at a horror film festival called Days of the Dead. I jokingly wrote on his Facebook wall that he should forget Indiana and come to Chicago! And then he said yes, and we were off to the races.
      In the weeks before his trip from Indiana to Chicago by Greyhound bus, we exchanged countless Facebook messages. I sent him a link to a Super 8 motel (which I thought was perfect, given that it was the film stock he made Nekromantik on), a mere block from Lake Michigan, and less than half a mile from me, because he wanted to go swimming. Initially I had suggested the Hampton Inn & Suites in Skokie, but he thought it looked too fancy – and, in retrospect, it’s literally round the corner from the Holocaust Museum, so that might have been a bit weird for a German. Jorg managed to get a three-night discount upon booking, and was very pleased.
      I was setting him up to do some touristy things – a barbeque with my good friends Conor and Yeva on the first night he was here, then a day visiting the Sears Tower and going on an architectural boat trip round the center of Chicago. It was going pretty normally up until that point. It’s been 20 years since Jorg directed four of the most visceral, grim, meathook-reality slices of horror-cum-art films ever made: Nekromantik(for which I did the first ever American review for Deep Red magazine in 1988), DerTodesking, Nekromantik 2, and Schramm. I thought he might have loosened up a bit since his days of such gritty and violent and depraved filmmaking, and it would be a pleasant experience to meet a man whom I had only met once, briefly, in 1991 at the sadly-defunct Scala Cinema in London, at the premiere of the documentary about his films, Corpse Fucking Art. I thought I could play the cool Chicago host and maybe we could reminisce about his films, but not too much to bore him, then he was scooting off to G-Fest, a festival honoring the Japanese megaterror Godzilla. All well and good.
      Then he asked me if we could perhaps go and visit the grave of Ed Gein in the next state whilst he was in town.
      And I held my breath.
      I knew this whole thing could never go totally according to some normal plan.
      Now, Ed Gein was, of course, one of America’s most notorious murderous butcher necrophiles (though it’s not exactly a crowded field he has much notoriety competition in). He killed a disputed number of women in Plainfield, Wisconsin, in 1957, and robbed graves and wore a suit made from human skin to make him into a ‘woman.’ Immediately something in me hit true north and, despite my being weirded out, I was intrigued too. I offhandedly told Jorg that it was only a two-hour drive said we could do it no problem. Researching it, I found out it was a 450-mile round trip, four hours each way, and duly reported this to my morbid-curiosity tourist friend. He said that seemed a bit much, but I instantly told him no, we must do this.

Left to right: Yeva, Jorg, John and Graham (photo by Conor McCaffery).

     The whole trip assumed some sort of talismanic significance in my own fevered mind. The idea of taking the director of hyper-notorious films about necrophilia and graverobbing to the grave of a man who had done these things in real life was just too good and twisted and brilliant and surreal to pass up. So I basically railroaded him into it, despite his very weak protestations about the short amount of time he had in town. So that was it settled. We were going to be Wisconsin bound.
      Jorg arrived on the bus late on Monday, July 9th, and I picked him up. I had prepared for his arrival by watching his old movies again and had a few questions to ask him about them here and there. The first day and a half rolled round uneventfully – taking him round Wal-Mart and having him buying a Chuck Norris Blu-Ray – Missing in Action– was a classic funny moment. Then Wednesday rolled around, Gein Day, and I rolled up at Jorg’s motel  at around 8am. He was there waiting with John Szpunar, a writer from Detroit (writing a fine book about the horror zine years of the 80s called Xerox Ferox, being published in 2013 by Headpress) who had released a couple of his movies years ago, and who was a reader of mine from way back when too. He was in town for a few days visiting his brother, and was right up for this trip too, although with reservations.
      So we hopped in my car and sped off towards Wisconsin and weirdness.

John Szpunar and Jorg

      My car has no air conditioning – joy! – so we wanted to start out relatively early before the sun got up too much. After a brief wrong turn that took us on an unwanted tour round O’Hare Airport, we battered along the highway and stopped at two separate services on the way up, one with a Herbie replica model car, where we ate, and one at Janesville, Wisconsin. I had been at this same truck stop the previous December with a punk band and had been amazed and amused and appalled at their selection of racist redneck bumper stickers like ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT HUNTING LICENSE and such braindead rightwing drivel. Pure kitsch horrifying Americana, and I had to let the guys see this. I admit I had initially been a bit leery about meeting Jorg – if we had not gotten on, and if he had been as weird and blackly intense as his films, then the whole thing could have made for a very uncomfortable experience indeed.
      But I found, to my delight, a very intelligent, funny, sharp, generous, down-to-earth man with a great sense of humor whom I could make laugh (and vice versa), and we got along very well. He and John thought the white trash souvenirs were great, and we took some funny pictures of Jorg modeling a Rambo II (very contemporary!) tee-shirt with WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE emblazoned on it. He loves trash old American action movies, and we had a surreal and cool conversation on the pier at Lake Michigan the night before about cheesy action movie stars of the 1980s. Filling up with gas had been our convenient cover for stopping at the gas station; we didn’t want to stay too long there, as it was obvious our actions and photographs were mocking, so we got out before they tarred and feathered Jorg and I with our foreign accents (and hell, maybe even John with his Detroit burr for consorting with the funny furriner enemy) muttering darkly about not liking our type round here as they did so.
      So the miles sped by and the sun heated up and we opened the windows. Pointing out places to potentially swim on the way there or back (Jorg is obsessed with swimming, to the extent I jokingly called him a fucking fish), the director was in the passenger seat with a small towel at the small of his back to catch sweat, saying this was a trick he had learned in Japan. Poor John got subjected to a nonstop barrage of wind from the open windows and could barely hear a word being said in the front. I jokingly said this was like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas for necrophiles, making a joke of it to a degree, but the truth is that John and I were somewhat ambiguous about this whole pilgrimage to necro-Mecca. I would never even have thought about doing something like this had it not been for Jorg wanting to do it, though I confess I was interested in true crime and serial killers and such prurient extremist crap when I was young; right around the time that I saw Jorg’s movies, oddly enough.

Jorg with a prop from his landmark film Nekromantik

      He said he had been inspired by the tragic and horrible Gein case to me the night before in a local bar, the Morseland. I said I had not picked up on that, and he said that nobody had. “He was innocent, like a child, and I like that,” he smilingly informed me. Jorg’s unflinching art is naïve and pure and innocent, in an odd way; I sensed some sort of vague self-identification with Gein here, though I may well have been wrong. I also randomly mentioned Killing for Company, the fine true crime book about Dennis Nilsen, the Scottish serial killer, and he suddenly remembered that that book had inspired some of the imagery in the film too. So on some level, when I saw Nekromantik and had my head turned round by his beautiful and horrible and disgusting art exploitation movies in my late teens/early twenties, I had obviously been picking up on that strange vibe, mixed with the absolute seriousness of the man’s intent, which I thought laudable. Depends on what your concept of laudable Is, I suppose, but I loved those works of artistic brilliance and still do.
      I guess my motives for just going with Jorg on this Wisconsin death trip were not entirely free of a vague retro interest of my own, but I truly knew that I had to make this once-in-a-lifetime experience happen because such a strange and fascinating chance would never come again. It felt oddly historic to me, taking a man whose dark movies had inspired and disturbingly enraptured me when I was young, back to the source of his own sick inspiration for a stunning landmark underground work of art. John had also been inspired by Jorg when he was younger, and by my own zine horror writing, so it was a kind of inspiration-fest all round. It made a kind of perfect weird sense, the closing of a strange circle of some sort, the unearthing of a long-buried inspirational grave and the first breathtaking sight of the gone-but-not-forgotten body of work and slimy adipoceric chaos that lay within the moldering open-creaking coffin.
      So the heat turned up and the miles rolled on and we finally – finally! – saw our first sign with Plainfield. John and I jokingly sang the sad and great song Wisconsin by The Crucifucks. The sign was, ironically, for Subway, and I only say ‘ironically’ because of Ed’s meateater tendencies. Then more signs: PLAINFIELD 5 MILES, PLAINFIELD 3 MILES, PLAINFIELD 1 MILE, PLAINFIELD POPULATION 862. Jorg was photographing them all. He premiered a play about Ed Gein entitled Kannibale und Liebe (a play on the title of the centuries-old play Kabale und Liebe by Friedrich Schiller) in Dortmund in Germany in October 2012, and he had told me this trip was ‘professional,’ for research, photos and such he could use in the play. But I had always known there lay something far deeper underneath it all, even before knowing about the Gein inspiration in Nekromantik, and when I was told of that it all made a lot more sense. This man had been ‘obsessed’ and ‘a fan’ (his own words) with this mythical and vile American larger-than-life-and-death character for over a quarter of a century now, and he was getting to finally visit his own sort-of private pathological Disneyland. I was proud to make that happen, odd as that may seem; guess you had to be there.

Jorg and Graham

      Our turn-off finally came and we got off the highway and into dry flyblown sweltering sweatsoaking American death-myth-land, brown and eternally marked by madness and pain and murder and religious fervor and unnatural death. Well, not really. The first sight of Plainfield we got was a bar-and-grill called (get this) ‘Hooligans,’ a gas station, a nondescript motel, a pet store-cum-kitty-patch-up-place, an adult sex toy store called ‘Spice’ and an adult video store. They must cater to the trucker clientele, and Jorg and John mused about how, if Gein could have gotten his hands on some of this stuff back in the old days, that things might have turned out very differently for him and the poor eternally-blackmarked Plainfield people.
      Marveling at our first sight of this now-suddenly-real American town, we turned right for 5th Avenue, where the cemetery is located, as directed by the never-wrong Mapquest, and trundled for a couple of miles down a farmland backroad. This was a truly strange and scary experience. The odd déjà vu thing about America is that you think you recognize the look of some places from movies you have seen before arriving there, and I swear this road, flanked by sprayer irrigation machines drenching dry grateful watergulper fields, was like something from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, with silent small single peeling-paint houses spaced out with rusted 50s car corpses that were genuinely probably around at the time of the hideous deeds of the town’s most infamous son(ofabitch).
      After a couple of miles expecting a pickup truck with Leatherface on the back of it to drive up alongside us (and we knew that Gein’s inspiration on the Chainsaw Massacre films had us thinking like this, but the road was genuinely weird and creepy and retro-time-travel-like), we turned back and, cursing Crapquest, drove back to the sex-and-booze-and-gas entertainment complex we had first driven into. We got out of the car in killer 90-degree heat and I ventured that we should have a beer in Hooligans and ask them where the cemetery was, because it was only meant to be a couple of hundred yards from the highway turn-off. I was dying for a beer, and was interested to see what a bar in a bucolic place like this would be like. Jorg was very dubious about this, pointing to the gas station and saying memorably: “I think it is safer to ask there.” John and I laughed and we gravel-crunched across the small parking lot desert into the gas station store. We had all dressed conservatively anyway to not be disrespectful, or draw any more attention to ourselves than necessary. I didn’t think there was much danger to be had, but who knew?

       I bought some Coke and three local Slim Jim-like meatsticks, with Jorg and John getting their own stuff. John said quietly “Sally, I hear something…” which is line from a character in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (just before he gets butchered) and I laughed and called him sick. Jorg was in front of me and I knew somehow he would not ask for directions; sure enough, he bought his stuff, saying a few words to the white-haired woman in her sixties behind the counter. She looked at the crap I was buying, some sort of local horsemeat, and told me it would give me heartburn. Great saleswoman for local foods! I told her I liked Slim Jims and she told me I would like these then. Knowing she had heard Jorg’s German accent, and knowing there is a lot of German blood in Wisconsin, I smiled and asked her:
      “We’re looking for Plainfield Cemetery, can you tell us how to get there? It’s meant to be very near here, but the Mapquest directions we got were wrong.”
      Instantly a curious, guarded look came over her features, like a drawbridge on a castle being raised for intruder-alert protection. “Which one?” This was a dubious potholed road of unpleasant inquiry she’d clearly bumpily traveled down before.
     “I don’t know which one, I don’t know the name of it. His granny’s buried there,” I said to her, flicking a thumb over in Jorg’s direction. I thought, ridiculously, this was a brilliant stroke of cover-up; there was just the vaguest chance that it might be true, what with the German connection and all.
      “Well, you just go across the road over there, through the stop sign, follow the winding ‘S’ of the road round, and it’s just right there. It’s not far, you can’t miss it.” She pointed and narrowed her eyes. I still have no idea if she would even have told us anything if I hadn’t made up that rubbish about Jorg’s nonexistent granny. I thanked her and immediately changed the topic, asking her if there was anyplace nice we could get something to eat in town. She told us about someplace at the far end of town, but I barely even heard her; I had only thrown that in to lighten the weird instantly-charged atmosphere and change the subject altogether.
       John bought his stuff and, after sitting briefly at a table outside to drink and eat, we jumped into the roasting car (I would occasionally switch the hot air on and tell the black-tee-shirt-wearing Jorg to enjoy it, making him laugh) and rolled the windows down, nipping across the intersection just a few yards away. There are no signs for the cemetery; the locals obviously want to deter people from doing what we were doing by making it as hard as possible for them to find the place. After taking a couple of pictures at a local cheese or porn or firework (the three things Wisconsin is famous for) manufacturer’s vicious-badger sign right next to the ‘S’-bend, we did our quick snakeroadslither…and the well-tended cemetery was right there in front of us on the right. “Here we are boys,” I said in satisfaction and excitement, pleased and proud I had gotten us here basically without incident. My sense of making some sort of odd history only intensified.
     “Right, this must be the south treeline,” I said, turning right onto a dirt track that looked barely fit to have cars drive up it; it was basically just a dirt track with a rut dug out for each tire by previous visitors who had driven over it. The non-judgmental sun greasily smiled and beat on. I had looked on the internet for directions to the grave, thinking it might be a big cemetery, but upon seeing it realized that my expectations had been based on my knowledge of Camelon Cemetery, the burial ground from my old Scottish home town of Falkirk that has been around for centuries. This place was tiny – you could walk around the outside of it in a rectangle in probably fifteen minutes tops if you were so inclined. But there were still a fair few graves, so I had carefully sifted through some of the crap on the net – vids of death metal teens being morons and jumping around on Gein’s grave on Youtube, amongst other things – to find exact directions to the legendary plot.

Jorg's Stageplay about Ed Gein (photo c/o of Theater Dortmund).

      The directions I had found told us to go up three crossroads and then along to some trees, with the Gein stone(s) being across from one for somebody named Tibbett. I wasn’t exactly sure that what we saw were crossroads, but on the third one I turned left and drove along a bit. Jorg shouted from the back seat: “THERE IT IS!” and we pulled up and got out and stepped into the oven-baking heat to stand at the grave of one of the most notorious people in American history, in probably the most notorious cemetery in the country. Here we were, after, for some odd reason, far longer than the four hours it was meant to have taken us to get there – even with stopping to eat, it still took us a couple of hours longer than it should have. It truly was odd.
      The grave looked exactly as we expected it to. Gein is buried in a four-plot family part of the cemetery, in between his brother Henry (who died in mysterious circumstances and who may have been killed by his insane brother) and his mother Augusta. There is no headstone marking the spot. The thing was vandalized and finally stolen, I learned through my pre-trip research. Whatever genius stole it was selling rubbings from it on the net, so it soon got returned to Plainfield. The town didn’t even want to put it back up in case it got stolen again, and because it’s such a psycho-tourism magnet, so it’s now kept far from prying prurient public bloodshot eyes.
      We all looked with a sort of strange awe at the space where we knew the graverobber’s body to be resting. There was a single head from a purple flower in a small hole dug in the grave. After taking a few respectful, vaguely interested photos, John and I (both realizing in retrospect that neither of us took a photo of ourselves on Gein’s grave, totally uninterested in such a thing) just basically stepped back and left Jorg in his wish-fulfillment element. The man was as excited as a kid at Christmas, and rushed round taking photos with a huge smile. John and I cast a quizzical glance at each other.
      “You can just see the glee on his face,” noted John, slightly fazed, and he was right, though he was also excited over the historic nature of the pictures we were taking. We didn’t think so much that there was anything morbid in Jorg’s excitement over such a strange pilgrimage; it was more that he was getting to do something he had wanted to do for many years and was overwhelmed to be finally doing it. John told me that the director had wanted to make this exact same trip over ten years ago when they had met previously.
      “Well Jorg, are you happy?” I asked him.
      “Oh ja, ja,” he roared with a huge smile, slapping me on the back several times with his left hand to emphasize the point.
      John and I took photos of Jorg standing on the grave. “You are Der Todesking, Jorg!” I shouted at the happy man and he grinned and nodded. Jorg had wanted to bring flowers, but I have absolutely no respect for a schizophrenic necrophile murderer and didn’t want to decorate his grave. I pointed out a small white flower growing on Gein’s grave and told Jorg to pick it. He did so and I took a photo of him holding something potentially part-fertilized by Gein’s rotting essence. He then took the flower and put it in the black case for his glasses. “It is like a coffin,” he noted, drawing an appropriate analogy. I nodded.
      Jorg got a nice snap from grass-level of Augusta Gein’s grave; she brought out the artist in him. It loomed threatening in the background, much as his long-deceased mother had in Gein’s deeply disturbed mind for his whole life. After a load more pictures were taken, I decided that I wanted to see if we could find the grave of Bernice Worden, his final victim. This seemed to me personally much more important than Gein’s resting place. Worden was shot and killed in a Plainfield hardware store, then taken to Gein’s house of horrors and decapitated and gutted like a deer after being hung from the rafters in his shed.

Jorg by The Gein family plot

      There are a few vile and depressing photos of her grisly remains on the net, some of the most recognizable crime scene photos in American history. I personally don’t think that’s right. I can’t imagine what her family must have thought if they saw those shots, and she may well have descendants living in that area today who would surely be aware of the intrusive photos. Some things should be left private. Not that what I think matters much in the wider scheme of things, mind you, and the human race will always have a morbidly curious side to it. Besides, this really wasn’t my gig; I was only along as a facilitator and observer, to a degree.
      So we decided that we’d cover a row each and walk along it; covering three rows at a time wouldn’t take very long in such a small plot of land. So after just five minutes of walking I found Worden’s tombstone in the same row as Gein’s, a bitter salt-in-wound irony altogether. I called Jorg and John over and we all looked at it in a kind of yes-this-is-really-happening sunbaked wonderment. The marble marker only had the dead woman’s last name on it, no dates or other names, no doubt in an attempt to deter ghouls from vandalizing the thing as they had done with Gein’s stone. I found this heartbreaking, that the poor family would have to take such a measure to stop their loved one’s final resting place being messed with by ghoulish vermin.
      I took a few shots, as did John, and I got Jorg to pose beside the stone. We were just walking away to look at some more of the place when all of a sudden an old yellowish car rolled into the cemetery, taking the same route we had initially to come up right beside us. A man in his 50s was driving, with a few empty plastic water bottles in the front seat beside him. He had the passenger window rolled down and did not get out of the car as he spoke to us.
      “Are you looking for anybody special?” He asked us, giving us a small strained fake aw-shucks grin.
      “No, not really, I said.” I had never in my life felt so on-the-spot and weird, like a kid with his hand caught in a cookie jar. John and Jorg said nothing, and all three of us were incredibly awkward and uncomfortable as we stood there in the hopefully-conspiratorial sweatwringer Wisconsin heat.
      “It’s okay, I know why you’re here. Did you find him?” He asked us, all pretense and nonsense directly and thankfully swept aside. He didn’t even mention the infamous criminal’s name. He didn’t have to.
      “Yes,” I said. We all started mumbling and fumbling words and stumbling over them. “We’re not doing anything weird or shady,” I said, “we’re being respectful.” This was certainly true, although I suppose on one level the whole trip itself could have been regarded as slightly shady and disrespectful.
      “He’s a journalist from Germany,” John said sheepishly, gesturing at Jorg, who was in between John and me as we stood next to the window, stopping slightly to talk through it, “he’s writing a story.” This was one of the rubbish cover stories we had concocted about our ‘reason’ for being there, but really it was pointless anyway. The guy just nodded vaguely and told us that they had people from all over the world visit the place, and said “it is what it is” more than once. He was tiredly philosophical about the whole Gein pilgrimage thing because he had experienced it a million times before us and would a million times after we were gone; there was basically no point in getting agitated and angry about something the town had no control over. He told us about Gein’s gravestone being stolen and recovered, being kept away from the public, and telling us “We have it in our possession.” It sounded like it was something the town would rather never even see or think about again, for obvious reasons.

      The man was at no time uncivil and only spoke to us for less than five minutes. After the conversation had delicately danced around the unnamed lunatic’s smalltown-bloodstaining legacy, I pulled the old conversation-changer switcheroo again and asked if there was somewhere in the town we could get something to eat. He told us about a place called Ron’s Family Diner at the other end of the town, which was obviously the same place the woman at the gas station had mentioned, and then he was off after having ascertained we weren’t digging up graves or performing blood sacrifices. Putting our heads together, we realized that the woman at the gas station must have called him to go check on us after we left, as she knew where we were headed; he had just arrived too soon after we got there for it to be a mere coincidence. You can hardly blame her for her precautionary call; they must get all kinds of dangerous or disturbed freaks going there to get up to all kinds of deviant and inappropriate mischief for what was, after all, a public cemetery where people still visit their loved ones.
      “He sounded like he wanted to show us, to give us a tour, we should have let him,” Jorg said brightly. I just shook my head. Getting out of that man’s incriminating-feeling spotlight, which made the sweltering accusatory afternoon seem ten degrees hotter, had been a blessing.
      We walked down to the far end of the cemetery next to the road, stopping to take pictures and video of the caretaker’s shack with a PLAINFIELD CEMETERY RULES sign on it, and of a front gate we had not come through. We found another much-later-dated grave with the Worden name on it. I took a small acorn as a memento which I later threw away. It was around 2.45pm, and we decided to pay a brief visit to the actual town of Plainfield itself and get something to eat before heading back to Chicago.

      Now. Calling Plainfield a ‘town’ is a complete misnomer: it’s literally just one long main street flanked by houses and businesses. A complete no-horse caricature of a parochial Midwestern dustbowl; you could tell by the isolation and general low-wattage atmosphere how something as demented as the Gein case could happen there. Then again, Gein’s case undoubtedly has led to some of the edgy energy in the town, so it’s a case of which came first, the necrophile grave robber or the weirdness? A pointless and insoluble philosophical question.
      I stopped the car just at the town limits to let Jorg photograph a big electronic Plainfield sign informing us that it was 90.6 degrees, 2.50pm, that some kid’s 13thbirthday was coming up, and that ‘HOOLIGANS HOME OF BOOM-BOOM BURGER/FRI. FISH.’ As Jorg snapped away I noticed a funeral home literally just behind it and told Jorg. “Fuuuck,” he said in can’t-believe-this amazement, as you would upon seeing something beautiful or historic, which maybe he had. Jorg dismissed the place as probably not being involved in the Gein case. Starting off again, we passed one house with a sign on their front wall next to the door reading THIS TOO SHALL PASS, which was ironic given the still-resonating nature of the infamous crimes that had been committed there over half a century ago. Maybe it was a wry comment on the traffic slowly trundling by their front door. Who knows?
      There was no real traffic on the road. I had initially wondered if we would be able to find the place where Worden was murdered which is, still, strangely, a hardware store today, Clark’s True Value Hardware, as I had found out during my research. As it turned out I needn’t have worried; as we drove I noticed it on the right of us across the street. “Oh ya beauty, there’s the hardware store Jorg, we’ve found it,” I noted. I felt oddly pleased with having found this place and Worden’s grave first. I guess my brain was baking in the heat.
      We turned right and stopped the car and parked it across the road from the place, getting out and standing looking at Clark’s. There was a weight of macabre history that could be felt, and an image of a schizophrenic redneck in a hunting cap lining up his gun sights on a poor middle aged woman about to become one of the most media-violated-corpse crime victims in American history came to my mind. I took a couple of pictures, one of them of Jorg sitting looking across at the place. I would love to know what exactly was going on in his mind in that photo, because he looks deep in thought. Ridiculously, I then took a few pictures of the beautiful wrought iron floral-motif bench the filmmaker was sitting on, to try and make it look as if I was interested in it and not the murder scene across the street.
      We decided to grab a quick beer before going into the hardware store, so we headed across the street to a bar called, simply, ‘R.’ That’s the full name, just that one letter. Just before we were going to walk in, out of the chiropractor’s office next door instantly popped…the guy from the cemetery!
      “I just saw you and had to say hi! Where are you guys heading?”
      “We just thought we’d get a beer before we head off.”
      “Oh yeah, you can do that, I just had one myself. See you later,” he smiled, as we walked into the bar. It was like the Crazy Ralph character from the Friday the 13th films, the weird old unshaven man who always tells people that they’re doomed, doomed I tells ya…before he gets bumped off himself in one of the sequels. Our entrance was almost like the start of a joke: a Scotsman, an American and a German walk into a bar…
      We laughed about this and the weird omnipresent guy as we went and sat at the bar, noting he must have a busy schedule to be both a chiropractor and a cemetery caretaker. From stiffs to relieving stiffness! Impressive career range! Still, it was nice to have his blessing, as men over 35 years of age, to have a beer, and we bought three cans of Old Style and chinked them together sitting at the bar in celebration of a successful endeavor. They had a funny wee sign advising IF YOU’RE DRINKING TO FORGET…PLEASE PAY IN ADVANCE! Sage words indeed. I asked the barmaid what the bar’s single-letter name meant. She told me there was no story behind it. There may well have been, but she probably didn’t want to tell us it; there’s no way of telling. It was obvious why we were there, but at no time was Gein’s name brought up in conversation or his crimes talked about by us. I asked if the bar had been around long and she told me “forever,” so we surmised that there was a possibility at last that human-hunter himself had probably sunk a brew or two at some point in the place.
      I put on a few songs on the jukebox, the first being a KISS song (I Wanna Rock and Roll All Nite) for Jorg. He’s a huge fan of the schlock rockers – had actually bought Ace Frehley’s autograph (and had his picture taken with the guitarist) in Indiana at the horror festerville. Apparently the band’s logo is changed in Germany because the last two letters in the name look too much like the insignia of the SS! It was another one of those numerous moments I prized for its sheer surreality – in a bar in rural Wisconsin with the director of Nekromantik, having taken him to Ed Gein’s grave, listening to KISS (on a skipping CD for that authentic 80s scratched-vinyl ambience!) and drinking a beer.

Jorg Buttgereit and Ace Frehley

      John went out the back to smoke so Jorg and I followed him. There were a couple out there smoking too, and within moments I was being hit with the usual tiresome “where are you from/how long have you been here/what is your shoe size?” first-time-meeting-me conversation I have had a million times before over the last seven years since emigrating to America. Then some low weird religious music – actually quite pleasant and unfamiliar – started up and drifted across from a wee church across the road, permeating the hot dry air with the funereal tone that the whole trip had had from the start. It was oddly perfect, if slightly eerie.
      Finishing our beers, we headed across the street, thankfully unmolested by Crazy Ralph, to the hardware store to take a look around inside, hoping they hadn’t seen us photographing the place earlier. For some reason I cooked up some half-assed scheme to pretend we were just normal customers…who if you thought about it…had made a detour from Scotland and Germany…to buy hardware in Plainfield…as you do. Place has a worldwide hardware rep! When we walked in I made some crack to the teenage girl behind the counter about trying to remember what I had come in for, because I had forgotten with the sun frying my brain. She smiled dimly.
      There is actually an element of truth in this, to be perfectly honest. My brain is made for dreich (dreary) Scottish rain and cold, not 90 degree Midwestern weather. I genuinely can’t quite think straight at that sort of temperature, and especially don’t like driving in it much. Plus I’d had a couple of beers on a mostly empty stomach, so my critical faculties were…not so critical. Jorg and John walked away from me in embarrassment and annoyance and I looked about a wee bit. The place sold the usual hardware stuff, obviously, but I was just looking around and wondering where exactly Worden had been shot, if the till was still in the same place as it had been back in Gein’s day, which door was her corpse been dragged out of, front or back; you know, the usual things you think about when looking for a spade (we had joked about buying one) or garden shears.
      Or indeed paint. I had an idea, and walked over to the store’s selection of spraypaints. Some idiots had recently been spraypainting Jesus propaganda all over the paths by the beach in Rogers Park where I live, annoying me no end, and I had been pondering buying some spraypaint of my own to erase the tiresome antediluvian pathological religious gibberish the neighborhood unfortunately is subjected to every day on going for a walk. Now seemed as good a time as any to buy the can I would need.
      Jorg and John walked up and I went off into a wee tirade about worthless vandalistic godbotherers and the attempted imposition of their nonsensical garbage on people uncaring and weary of their delusional beliefs, and how their vandalism ruined a perfectly good walk. The owner of the store was standing a few feet away listening to every word, probably a good godfearing Christian type, but I wasn’t bothered. I called him over and asked him about his selection, told him what it was for, and he directed me to a can of black gloss (which I still haven’t used – knowing my luck I’d get caught for vandalism for just spraying over the other offensive stuff). I asked him if it was anti-glare, he said yes, and I took it and bought it. Jorg bought a small 99c American plastic flag he said he was going to frame, along with even keeping his receipts from the trip; sure his wife Daniela will appreciate the eccentric souvenirs! Then we got the hell out of there and left the no-doubt-confused-we’d-actually-bought-something owner to his musings on our corrupt demented motives.
      Jorg laughed and said that the guy probably thought we were going to vandalize the cemetery with our purchase, and I laughed too – I hadn’t thought of this. As it was, though, we merely got in the car and drove along to the end of the street and the mythical Ron’s Family Diner. The place didn’t say ‘Ron’s’ on it, but it did have a ‘Family Diner’ sign on it, and there was nowhere else it could be. We got out and went inside. The place was an archetypal weary slightly rundown American diner, Old Glory taking pride of place just inside the front door, with pictures of some country and western star proudly lining the walls. It was the kind of place you see in horror movies when the out-of-towners go to eat and are warned off by the chilly locals.
      We sat at a table window and the place seemed to more or less instantly fill up after us; it was almost like the town had heard about the weirdo Gein fans and had all stopped in to see us. Which of course was complete nonsense, but fun to play with as a humorously paranoid concept. Looking at the menu, we saw an old monochrome photo declaring that the place had been founded in 1951 – there was a picture of the original frontage with an old 50s car in it – which meant that it was around when Gein was there, and he had surely eaten there at some point. The geeky teenage waitress, who was studying accountancy, served us, reeling off a huge selection of potato choices to Jorg. He chose one and we sat and drank a Coke, looking out the window at the hard-scrabble smalltown anti-esthetics, the lack of beauty or joy, the aptly-named plain field of the place. I couldn’t understand how anybody could live in such a place. I had thought Falkirk was bad, but it was Las Vegas compared to this dry dusty nothing-happening place.

      Our food arrived and we started to eat. Jorg ate some of his potatoes and paused, looking up with a pensive faraway look on his face. “I feel like I have the spirit of this place in me now. You know when you eat something and the spirit of it goes into you? These potatoes were probably grown here.” He paused for a moment, slightly self-conscious. “But now I am getting religious.”
      John and I threw each other a quizzical glance but said nothing. So this was a sort of spiritual journey for him in some weird way. On one level, I wondered why the hell anybody would want the spirit of a place like this in them, but in Jorg’s case I knew why. “I feel like we are accepted here now,” Jorg continued, “these people accept us.” John and I glanced at each other again. There may have been something lost in translation here and there, but personally I had never felt as out-of-place anywhere in my life, even with my usual Scottish-accent-fed USA alienation. I just couldn’t wait to get the hell out of the place, and John was much the same.
      We finished our food and prepared to get up. At that moment a guy wandered in to stand at the counter who literally looked like he had shit himself. We took this as about as good an omen to leave as we were going to get and left, getting into the car. In retrospect it was blatantly obvious why we were there to everybody except us, because we were initially expecting a larger town we could blend into more easily: we were going to look at a grave that no doubt every person in that town has seen too. Passing harsh judgment on us would have reflected back badly on them. At no point, however, were the wearily wary locals anything but courteous, it must be said.
      We nipped off down to the highway entrance, a straight quick run, and went for a quick poke around in the sex toy store before heading home. We laughed and marveled at things like the Futurotic Masturbator, a chick-with-dick ‘Soft, Supple, Life-Like Beat-off Buddy’ (yeah, ‘life-like’ if you liked transsexuals with no limbs or head, which seemed pretty appropriate given the reason why we were here) looking like something out of Schramm that the titular serial killer might have had sex with; the Clone-A-Pussy (‘Make an EXACT Rubber Copy of ANY Vagina!’); the bride-and-groom singing stuffed bears; and the Teenage Dream Ultra Soft Vagina, complete with a photo of a 30-year-old naked blonde ‘teen’ bent over to entice us with her human-evolution-continuing bared hairless wares.

      We soon tired of this stuff. It had been a long day, this place wasn’t hugely interesting, and we soon hightailed it out of there and back onto the couldn’t-come-soon-enough highway. On the way back Jorg talked to me about me potentially writing a book about Nekromantik (which has since morphed into being his career retrospective – we’ll see) and we mysteriously got home far quicker than we did going out there, even with John distracting me at a critical moment and making me miss a turn-on I should have taken at the damned airport again, making us lose half an hour and my bearings altogether. We met Conor and Yeva at the Morseland again, had a few beers and a pleasant discussion, Jorg walked back to the Super 8 (he had bemusedly mused that the front desk had seen us together so often that they must have thought we were a gay couple, as they had given him two door keys instead of one) a few short blocks away, and I wandered off to get a majestic two-and-a-half hours of sleep before the next day on the job I had started only two days before.
      After work the next day I drove Jorg out to his hotel by the airport. G-Fest, was being held nearby. The traffic was terrible going out there, and the boiling heat, coupled with my lack of sleep from the night before, meant I nearly fell asleep at the wheel for the first and only time in my life in slow-crawling overheated traffic. I dropped Jorg off, shook his hand, telling him truthfully that I’d had a great and fascinating never-to-be-forgotten time, and somehow managed to get myself home alive. He had a good time too. Later, pondering it all, I realized my motives for doing the whole Wisconsin trip weren’t really as deep as I had imagined them to be: I had been interested in true crime when I was younger, and wanted to do something for a director whose work had inspired me when I was young. Nothing more and nothing less. Jorg said something quite astute about the town: “That’s the funny thing. To them it’s normal that funny guys like us show up and look around.”
      Looking back, I must admit to feeling somewhat uncomfortable and voyeuristic during the whole event. It was genuinely sad and tragic to see how one lunatic’s vile murderous legacy has permanently scarred a guarded-round-strangers town, which can never escape its unwanted time in the world slaughterhouse slimelight because of people like, well, us, visiting from far and wide. Plainfield has just had to learn to deal with this strange and horrible aspect of its history, bury it in a shallow amnesiac grave, but every psycho-fascinated morbid tourist just digs up that madness and makes the townspeople have to relive it again and again in time-worn muted-pain form. John, a more sensitive soul than I, told me he had weird and horrible dreams for days afterwards because of the whole strange atmosphere and subtext of the trip.
      Me? I slept like the peaceful undisturbed dead.
      Pity Plainfield will never be able to say the same.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Drive In Massacre

(Image from Paul J. Zamerelli's

We've had a long line of contributors that Crank (or Erok/Eric ok, internet-- the cat's outta the fucking bag) has recruited from Monster! or FB or the dark recesses of his imagination--I mean maybe all the writers are just me under different names aye? Ha that's ridiculous right, or is it? I mean I'm not also Skunkape how could I be that's just schizophrenic! Anyway, right now we've got our latest writer Michael Hauss and I expect great things from this guy because he seems to be as fixated on exploitive trash from the good old days of pre-internet shenanigans as much as we are. Thanks again Mike and take it away-E

USA, 1977
Directed by Stu Segall
Starring: John F Goff, Bruce Kimball, Buck Flower (uncredited)

Review By Michael Hauss

Do you ever watch a film and have a hard time figuring it out in your mind? This film was one of those for me. I know the film is bad, but it has some redeeming qualities and it had a real chance to be an explanation gem, if only...  
The pros of this film include a great dirty ass gritty 70's grindhouse/ drive-in feel, a cast loaded with exploitation veterans, some decent Gore effects and a couple of nicely fleshed out characters. The cons include, an open ended ending, the suspects are made to be such red herrings that they smelled fishy, an unrelated scene towards the end of the film that was designed either to throw the viewer off or was strictly filler, and one truly bad acting performance.

MASSACRE starts with the drive-in patrons streaming into the venue,  the camera settles onto a young couple who are there to do some shagging, the man has parked too far from the speaker and must reach out exposing most of his torso, a sword flashes on the screen and off goes his head, the woman looks out and sees his decapitated body and begins to scream, only to have her screams interrupted by a sword stabbing through her neck. Six minutes in and we get a throat piercing and a beheading, I thought I was in Gore heaven. From this point on we are introduced to the detectives who are investigating the case and the workers at the drive-in.

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SHIT! Someone poisoned my Peanut M&M's!

The detectives in the film are played by exploitation regulars John F. Goff,  who is listed as Jake Barnes in the credits, Goff plays detective Mike Leary and Bruce Kimball, who is listed as Michael Alden in the credits and plays detective John Koch. John F Goff is also credited as screenwriter along with Buck Flower and director Stu Segall. Goff has many exploitation film credits that include NURSE SHERRI (USA, 1978), GAS PUMP GIRLS (USA, 1979), ALLIGATOR (USA, 1980) and MANIAC COP (USA, 1988). Bruce Kimball while not as prolific as Koch, appeared in some sleazy gems himself including THE SCAVENGERS (USA, 1969), LOVE CAMP 7(USA, 1969) and THE MIGHTY GORGON (USA,1969) to name but a few. The detectives go to the Drive-in to speak to the manager, who's name is Austin Johnson (Robert E. Pearson), Johnson is a big bald headed dude with a penchant for turtleneck and loud blazer combos, and is as the cops call him a "perfect asshole." Johnson explains that the owner of this drive-in lives in Hawaii and closed the carnival that used to be on the site and opened the drive-in.

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Ok everything's in order, I've pissed in the popcorn so we're ready for business.

When questioned about the homicides Johnson tells the cops that " a couple of horny kids got themselves chopped up, so what?" Johnson is an intensely angry man who calls all the teenagers who frequent the drive-in, " one big zit with long hair." A " half wit" named Germy ( Norman Sheridan) works around the drive-in and lives on the lot Germy was a geek in the carnival, lost all his teeth biting the heads off of snakes and chickens he boast to the cops. Germy also says he used to be a sword swallower in the carnival and used the owners private sword collection in his act.

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Guinness Records, That's right you've found us, the slobbiest twin pigs

Douglas Gudbye plays Germy and his performance to me is awful, it's like he was auditioning to play a slow witted character on the ANDY GRIFFITH (USA 1960-1968) show, in a grimy, dirty picture as this, he should have been a perverted little fuck, who brought some anxiety to the role. Germy when asked by the cops if he noticed any odd characters around the drive-in, tells them that a man drives around looking into cars where couples are Shagging, the odd thing about this drive-in is that most of the patrons who are trying to engage in fornication or dry humping all seem to be well into their thirties! Germy calls the man the creeper, a pasty faced man who tries to look younger that he is. The cops ask Germy to get the creepers license plate number for them. As the cops drive off they deliver a classic line, " they may have closed the carnival, but the freaks are still hanging around."

We get our next murder piece around the twenty minute mark when a adultery committing man and his girlfriend, who happens to be pregnant get stabbed with a sword, killing both with one thrust, this being a few years before Jason killed two entwined lovers in the second FRIDAY THE 13Th (USA 1981), which of course was taken from Mario Bava's TWITCH OF THE DEATH NERVE (ITALY 1971). The creeper had been staring in the car, but disappeared before the fatal moment. The police captain calls in the police psychologist to help the detectives and he tells them it's a psychotic killer who will display no pattern! Well two couples killed by a sword, at a drive-in, might be a pattern, you think? The captain and doctor only get about two minutes of screen time, the detectives had found the murder weapon, but no fingerprints. The detectives call in Germy to interrogate and the next red herring is revealed, Johnson was a sword handler and knife thrower in the carnival, Germy got the creepers license plate number for the cops.

The detectives pay the creeper a visit, he's a local truck driver named Orville Ingleson who has a long undisclosed rap sheet and many nude photos of women hanging on his living room walls. Orville says he's innocent, looked in on the  couple because, " I just wanted to beat my meat."After a search of the house, they move outside to search Orville' s car and find a bloody clothing article in his car, Orville runs for it, but is apprehended, explains it was the blood of a dog he ran over, which we find out eventually is true.

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OK Jism Jim we heard you got the goods, now whip it out!

After being released Orville is back creeping again, the cops though have set up a surveillance, with one cop dressed as a woman, the scene is comedic and is odd placed in a film like this, the cop dressed as the woman reminded me of Lou Costello, when he'd do his drag routine in the Abbot and Costello films. Orville parks next to an oversexed man and his girl, the woman just wants to watch the movie, he gets to first base exposing her breast, which oddly enough in a film like this which was directed by a porn directed named Stu Segall, that this would be the only nudity. The man gets peeved after she keeps turning her attention to the movie, he jumps angrily from the car, only to return minutes later, slap it into reverse, and as he backs out looks over and sees his decapitated girlfriend in the passenger seat. The bumbling cops had missed the murder after a comedic exchange, the cops fully expect to find Orville in the adjoining car, they do, but his throat has been pierced by a sword. The cops pull in the foul mouthed funky blazer wearing Johnson for a few questions, the cops want the drive-in closed, to which Johnson refuses. The cops tell him they are trying to catch a killer, which Johnson replies to them," your doing a pretty poor job, three cars away from where you were sitting." Johnson is livid and wants to be charged or let go, the pukes back at the drive-in as he calls the other unseen workers are ripping him off. Germy is at the police station too, Johnson is pissed at him because he brought sandwiches and he fouled his order up, words are exchanged, Johnson fires Germy, tells him to get his belongs and go.

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Harpo's boobs honk when you squeeze them.

We next get Germy wondering around a carnival as the audio of his last few days play over his scenes. The film quickly cuts to the cops getting a call about a guy, that's cornered in a warehouse who just wiped out two men, could it be Germy who was out wondering about and finally snapped all the way? Well, of course not it's a totally unrelated scene with the uncredited Buck Flower, who after killing the two guys has a young female hostage that he holds hostage with a machete. After the girl escapes her captor, we get a cat and mouse game, with Buck bellowing about Cutting the evil out of the little girl. The cops pull up and are met by one lone policeman, I am only assuming he was a cop though. The cops enter and after a bit more cat and mouse, old Buck is shot dead. The girl hostage says in a bitter ass tone, "did you have to kill him?" The girl goes on to explain the man they killed was her father, who had escaped the mental hospital just that morning, he was locked up for killing her mother and aunt. So, what did the scene have to do with this film you ask? Absolutely nothing except filler or the director trying to throw the viewer off. The cops decide that Johnson is the killer, and say "let's go pick up that bald headed garbage can."

Germy returns to pick his belongs up and wants to see Johnson, he's stopped by the only other worker we see onscreen, a female who runs the concession stand. She runs out and tells Germy that Johnson said he'd kill Germy if he saw him again. Germy says he's owed money and wants it, he enters the projection booth. The cops pull up and they see silhouetted on the screen, a man being killed by a sword as the cowboy movie plays on behind it. They run into the booth and see Johnson dead and fully expect to see Germy hiding behind a closed door, but what they find is a dead Germy. Roll the ending on screen Caption: "... the senseless bloodbath that gripped a California Drive-in has spread to other theatres throughout the country. Authorities say there are no clues to the killers identity and no end to the hotel in sight. The killer could strike at again. Anywhere--- Anytime...
" Who will be next---"?

Buck Flower who plays the escaped crazy man in the warehouse appeared in a massive amount of films, which many were exploitation films, this including many soft core sex films. Flower has 159 acting credits appearing in such fine films as CRIMINALLY INSANE (USA, 1975), ILSA: SHE WOLF OF THE SS (CANADA, 1975), THEY LIVE (USA, 1988) and PUMPKINHEAD (USA, 1988). Flower' s daughter Verkina plays the young girl held hostage in the warehouse, she's best remembered for her appearance in the film WITCH WHO CAME FROM THE SEA ( USA, 1977).
Most of the actors who appeared in this film used an alias in the credits, not sure the reasoning as most have appeared in equally bad films, Buck Flower appeared here uncredited. 

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If someone doesn't buy one of these Mr. Microphones in this warehouse soon, the little twerp dies!

I am sure the drive-in crowd back in the day were spooked at the ending when the open ending stated that a murderer was still roaming and killing drive-in patrons. The film while ultimately bad, does have enough for this reviewer to recommend it. Watch it and in your mind and realize that the film was so close to 70's exploitation nirvana, but ultimately fell too short because of a seriously ambiguous and frustrating ending.


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Deadly Dogs vol. 2

by Goat Scrote

Your killer dogs for today are an adorably evil bunch...

The People Under the Stairs (1991)

Mainly a ripoff of: Bloodsucking Freaks meets Leave it to Beaver, set in H.H. Holmes' Murder Castle.

The Dog(s): Prince the Rottweiler enjoys a steady diet of human flesh. He never actually kills anyone during the running time of the movie but he sure does try. He's also a thousand times more fun than the "Devil Dog" or all the pooches in "Dogs" put together, thanks to the writing/directing of Wes Craven and the work of head animal trainer Roger Schumacher (who also worked on "The Pack" and "Atomic Dog”).

Summary: Craven's weird tale revolves around a good-hearted young teen who gets pulled into a plan to burglarize a wealthy home. He and co-burglar Ving Rhames discover that they have entered an inescapable house of horrors where kidnapped children are held prisoner and mutilated. Wendy Robie and Everett McGill are awesomely unhinged as sister-brother psychopaths Mommy and Daddy.

Best Scene: Daddy's gimp-suit-and-shotgun rampage. FUCK YES.

Dishonorable Mention: When the dead dog flops through the wall you can tell it's an animatronic pooch mixed with shots of the real thing. It's not a very large flaw, in the grand scheme of things.

One of my favorite B-movies,  drop what you’re doing and watch it immediately.

And When She Was Bad (1981)
(aka “Madhouse”, aka “There Was a Little Girl”)

Mainly a ripoff of: Pretty much any giallo you’d care to name.

The Dog(s): A throat-ripping Rottweiler trained by a homicidal lunatic to kill on command.

Summary: A woman is stalked by her insane twin sister and sister's canine murder weapon. The bizarre twists and turns of the story make very little sense, and the special effects are a little bit Muppet Show in places, but there are some gruesomely good moments too. This was a UK “Video Nasty” because of the bloody violence and twisted themes.

Best Scene: A warped birthday party for the twins full of posed corpses in party hats. This occurs near the end of the film, and is memorably disturbing.

Dishonorable Mention: The dog busts headfirst through a door, only to get a power drill into the brain-pan. This is a satisfying scene story-wise but the dog puppet faintly resembles Fozzie Bear! The use of low-quality puppets is a comical distraction in many serious scenes, this one in particular. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t supposed to be pointing and giggling.

Recommendation: It’s not great but it is not nearly as terrible as it could have been.  It's bloody and weird, so if you like killer dog movies or obscure 80’s slasher flicks then you’ll probably find this enjoyable too.

Day of the Animals (1977)
(aka "Something is Out There")

Mainly a ripoff of: Every pre-1977 killer animal movie.

The Dog(s): Domestic dogs who develop a thirst for human blood.

Summary: Animals turn homicidal as a result of the recently discovered (it was the 70s) depletion of the ozone layer. The strange effect starts at higher altitudes, and the story follows a group of hikers caught in the mountains when the critters start to become unnaturally vicious. Lots of different animals get a chance to take a chunk out of humankind in this one. Just when the surviving hikers think they have reached safety, they must face off against a giant pack of crazed domestic dogs. There's a heap of cool animal footage, but the special effects are quite bad. Hammy acting and crappy special effects multiply the camp factor. Director William Girdler also made the animal-attack thriller Grizzly, a low-budget Jaws knockoff, so he had some previous experience in the genre.

Best Scene: Leslie Nielsen's "god" speech, attempted rape, and bear-wrasslin’ match, which occur one after another about two-thirds of the way through. It’s melodramatic, sleazy, and ludicrous entertainment.

Dishonorable Mention: Bashing this movie would be too much like beating up the good-natured village idiot. The jumping attack-rats are too funny for me to hate, but it could be the most ridiculous scene in an extremely ridiculous movie.

Recommendation: Good trashy man-vs.-nature fun, one of the most enjoyable of the 70s era B-grade eco-horror films. I just don’t think they quite realized that they were making a comedy.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Savage Intruder

Savage Intruder (Hollywood Horror House), Directed By Donald Wolfe, Starring Miriam Hopkins (1970). 

A few years ago I bought this Video Nasty artwork book called Shock, Horror by Francis Brewster, Harvey Fenton and Morris, it has become a reference guide for all things I vaguely remember seeing in the horror section of the video store as a kid. I'm always taking a trip down nostalgia lane (this site is cathartic for me in that fashion). Some of the videos are just obscure oddities that seem like a good time and never made it officially to the nasty list but who really cares anyway, right? Savage Intruder (or the more appropriately titled Hollywood Horror House) was accidentally marketed during the hype as a banned vid, how this happened I have no idea? Pretty anything on Vipco was sold as "banned" or lurid to capitalize on the 80's censorship craze. This film doesn't deserve that kind of bargain basement treatment, it's a lot better than you'd think! It's not in the Deep Red catalog but off and on we branch out into other lists for inspiration. sells this on a double feature with Nashville's "Dear Dead Delilah" an Agnes Moorhead trash-ter-piece that looks pretty creepy too. So let's dig into this wacky hippie nightmare and see what happens already!

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Lidsville is the gaaa gaaa grooviest

Brought to you by Avco Embassy no less (I always view them as the "Spinal Tap" company). I had no expectations initially, but this film is very disturbing and has a lot more gore than you'd think. Hollywood-- it chews you up and spits you out till you're down at the bottom of the porn industry to paraphrase a Seinfeld episode and that's exactly where our story begins with the dismembered body of some old hag. Some dude in a floppy hat beats a haggard Imogene Coca looking drunk over the head (maybe it's Albert from "I Dismember Mama" up to his old tricks again). He cuts her arm with an electric turkey carving knife and blood splatters across the toilet (Eek! can it get any sleazier than this)? This is the kind of seedy shit that goes down in La-La Land everyday and don't blink now or you might miss Joe "3rd Stooge" Besser as a bus driver tour guide!

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Miriam Hopkins in her last ever screen performance is Katherine Packard (Parker on IMDB for some reason), a demented "Norma Desmond style" wacko. I love it when old timey actresses decide to delve into sleaze, kind of how Veronica Lake did in her last film "Flesh Feast", although this one is monumentally more entertaining. This film seems to have influenced "Tourist Trap" and possibly "Pin: A Plastic Nightmare", it's the kind of warped film you'd see late at night back before cable existed and it would haunt your nightmares. I could imagine someone babbling about this one to anyone who would listen "Seriously, It Really Happened I'm not making it up". 

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my eyeball could use more vaseline 

Vic (David Garfield) shows up as a caregiver who uses the most retarded alias ever to slip in under false pretenses "LaurelAnHardy" and wouldn't you know, they all fall for it and hire him. All the old bippies who work for Packard are annoyed by Vic's hippy haircut and see him as a member of the new generation they don't want to relate to. He gets along pretty well with the old battle axe and there's even a clunky montage of them becoming more chummy. Obviously, he's the killer that's been wandering around town right, maybe. He does inject himself with scag and trips out in a kaleidoscopic freakout, he's haunted by the image of his slutty mother with bulging eyes and red lipstick who scowls at him. His mother reminds me of this scary commercial that wigged me out as a kid for the Haunted Mansion in Long Branch NJ and I remember not even being able to look at the T.V. I was so terrified. It's weird how you're child brain plays tricks on you because after seeing it again on Youtube there's no creepy woman.  

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AAAAAAAAAHH, I just ate a ton of garlic bread!

Vic brings his Asian girlfriend Greta (Virginia Wing) to his bosses lavish home after dark. Katherine begins to get hot and horny for old Vic (Yuck, it's pretty gross)! Whenever we see him chop someone up, they insert a bottle of ketchup slowly pouring out the red stuff, nice touch but it does remind me of those 80's wait patiently for your Heinz ketchup to emerge commercials like this one with Matt Lablanc. The slimy Vic and gives off a dimestore hood vibe, he forces his girlfriend to drop acid and says "You're a pain, so take this painkiller", Cosby anyone? He seems more content to be a gigolo for his elderly has-been boss than work on his relationship with the cute Asian girl, more proof that this dude is a fucking weirdo. 

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Whoops, I took the kind of acid that dissolves your esophagus
This film is super trippy and fits somewhere in the realm or "The Psychopath" or "Blood and Lace", it has that look of a cruddy 70's TV movie (think Joy N. Houck Jr.) but then BLAMMO, it smacks you over the head with shocking imagery and it's a very jarring combo, I love that kind of shit!
The Vipco box cover falsely claims that "People behind the Driller Killer were responsible for this", yeah right! This one is not ashamed to revel in it's campiness, there's one part where a shindig featuring Buddy Douglas gyrates with a huge breasted woman and Kathy drops enough acid to think she's the Christmas queen in a parade. This one is worth seeking out, the ending is totally insane and probably up for debate! This film takes slight influences and uses them so it all comes off as a good cryptic mixture, check it out! It's available from and on Youtube (for a limited time).

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Somebody call child protective services, Oh wait it's a midget!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Cannibal Ferox

Cannibal Ferox (Make Them Die Slowly,Women From Deep River) Directed By Umberto Lenzi, Starring John Morghen (1981). 

Against all my better judgement I decided to rewatch Cannibal Ferox (or better known in the days when video stores existed on Thriller Video as Make Them Die Slowly). Why you ask, because it just showed up in HD form on Huluplus! Every time I watch this wretched film, I get a combination of nausea and guilty enjoyment because it's extremely ugly, racist and so offensive that it becomes surreal. The main reason to see it at all, rests on the shoulders of actor John Morghen. His lines, which are so wildly offensive have to be heard to believed, who else would throw the word "twat" in every other sentence or call every body shit face-- than this guy! Frank Von Kuegelgen does a great job dubbing Giovanni Radice (or Morghen), his performance is my favorite and usually in other films he's appeared in they always give his character a very effeminate voice.

If you have a degree in Fulci-economics than you'll be overjoyed to see half of his bit actors (from Gates of Hell aka City of the Living Dead and some Italian crime flicks) and similar nonsensical situations tossed in like a clump of maggots in a kale salad. But there's so much more to be excited about, we've got a piranha attack, underwater bamboo cages and racial dominance all in the sake of too much cocaine. 

I heard that there's Candy Apples on Monkey Island

Three collegiate chuckleheads venture down the river to a village named monyoka (some fictional jungle which is really Columbia) to do something something so idiotic as to prove that all History concerning cannibalism is just racist bullshit propagated by the history of colonialism and conquistadores. Anyone who's read about The Conquest of Spain knows that The Aztecs did eat people in their rituals and colonialism had nothing to do with gut munching. The scriptwriter (who's apparently Mr. Lenzi) obviously coked out of his mind, possibly just hates anthropologists and is condemning them with this film because they all come off like sub moronic turds! So yeah, dropout of college and get a job at Burger King would you or just invent facts ala-Foxs News, which makes this film slightly prophetic. 

You're saying this fuggin movie was ahead of it's time, excuse me while I die!

The HD quality magnifies the haze of grain on Lenzi's original vision (who would've dreamed that this would ever make it beyond VHS though). My favorite parts about this film are the silly lines spouted by the all dubbed cast like "Hey there's a jay walking igunana!" and other quotable favorites. This is a genre I detest and yet am thoroughly fascinated by.

The most heartless aspect of the film, which Skunkape and I saw long before the Deodato one is that it's basically Cannibal Holocaust on training wheels. Lenzi goes out of his way to copy that flick with the same senseless animal violence and just like Dr. Butcher used some of the cast of Zombie to exploit that film, some of the same actors from Holocaust re-appear. The first sign of trouble just after the tragic mongoose death (which is really uncalled for) is a googly eyed stomach eater hiding behind some leaves. Skunkape mentioned that the snake was full, so the mongoose didn't really die. Then Ferox gets really good as Mike Logan (Morghen) one of the most offensive but hysterical anti-heroes shows up, he carries a little sack of nose candy around his neck and pretends that cannibals tried to attack him and his "asshole" buddy Joe (Walter Lucchini).

Whatever I'm fine, is my hair OK?

They all kind of bond over all being New Yawkers(sic) on vacation and what led Mike to Columbia are emeralds and snow but Gloria (Larraine De Salle) and her crew never mention the retarded reasons they're there. Mike's bottom teeth pop out consistently as he talks about how cannibals ate his pals balls off and then Gloria hears the sentence echo in her mind. There are so many metal and hardcore bands that have sampled that choice line of dialogue --too funny! Pat (Zora Kerova) sleeps with a Mexican dude and post coitus says "Take a shower some time will ya?" Now here's another bit of uncalled for racist bullshit sprinkled throughout an all ready overstuffed shit sandwich--get ready for more, that's nuthin'!   

Everyone is super sweaty and grungey looking (they might look even worse in high def). I must commend Grindhouse Releasing for really packing on the extras into this shit flick classic (to steal a Gilpin-ism) and my favorite parts are the new psychedelic audio moments and overly loud gunshot sounds--the audio engineer went hog wild!  

Gloria after looking at the scared natives confirms right then and there-- OK, I've seen enough let's turn around, but nope, they have to stay because Joe "the asshole", Mike's pal gets sick and keels over. Logan, whacked out on blow, gets a hankering for some ultra violence and decides to fuck with the savages who all seem afraid of the Westerners. The natives are always Latin or Asian people in wigs smothered in white mud, they meet the animal death quota of boss Umberto by killing a big turtle and a crocodile --so fucking stupid I swear! Radice who cannot stand Lenzi (check out our video interview if you need confirmation) rips him a new one in the commentary, he tried to humiliate the actor into slaughtering animals for his project I'm guessing in the name of Neo-realism, whatever! 
I like the soundtrack by Roberto Donati (otherwise known as Budy Maglione), recently released on Oneway Static Records on vinyl and cassette with some amazing artwork and attention to detail check it out here. Years before, Skunkape let me dub his copy of the Blackest Heart Media CD soundtrack which had amazing tribute songs by Rok Opera, great stuff!
Is this really necessary?

They ramp up the hatred that justifies what occurs later to Mike Logan and it basically turns into a "Just Say No" to cocaine public service announcement. Because as everyone knows, booger sugar will turn you into a raving psycho that will rape innocent people and disembowel them, obviously, that's why it's bad for you!

Logan, who's wanted in NYC by a cop named Rizzo (Robert Kerman), no relation to the Midnight Cowboy co-star or the Muppet is on the lam! He keeps questioning Logan's blonde girlfriend about her beau's whereabouts. why Kerman decided to return for another jungle holocaust film despite his unabashed distain for the genre and Deodato in particular, always gives me the giggles (he appeared in Eaten Alive/Doomed to Die as well). Even though R. Bolla aka Robert Kerman hated these flicks, he's great in them and gives off a David Hess like quality of hostility even in these good guy roles. Once a rotten papaya shows up at Rudy and the gangs hut, it's all over for the cast and the last 34 minutes are a smorgasbord or mayhem and torture, starting with Morghen getting his dick hacked off and devoured! You may think to yourself, it can't get any worse than that for the poor fucker, but you'd be dead wrong as they fasten him to a lobotomy table and whack off the top of his cranium and reach in that skull bucket for some pink slimy brain treats--yum yum, a cannibal feast, invite over Screamin Jay and the Spiderbaby clan!

I'll have you know I injected my dick with thallium, Ha! Didn't expect that did you? 

A friendly cannibal takes sympathy on the gang but waits till the absolute bitter end until he steps in to help, I mean Zora Kerova's double breast meat hooks have already been inserted and she soon dies. Mike Logan, the selfish twat almost escapes (they cauterized his ballsack, so that he doesn't bleed to death and he hauls ass out of the village, but nope, they drag him back and finish the job. The tiny cannibal who helps Gloria escape looks like Nein Nub, Lando Calrissian's Mickey Mouse-like alien sidekick with a bad wig on. 

The commentary and behind the scenes stories are fascinating, almost everyone had an awful time acting in this wretched film and you get the feeling that something was off during the production, an all around unpleasant experience. Keep that patented Howard Scott Up-Chuck Cup handy! I have no idea why I like this film though it makes no sense and maybe I should reconsider things and get my priorities straight. It's funny how I have a long history with this cannibal flick and bought it on VHS from 16000 video for 2 bucks. Recently Eli Roth has decided to jumpstart this genre with his own love letter to Deodato and I have zero interest in seeing it.  


Blu-ray/Soundtrack on Amazon 


 Trailers that Smell & TOG's
Cannibal Ferox Trailer
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