Monday, January 30, 2017


Images Directed By Robert Altman, Starring Susannah York (1972).

Here at the TOG coven we like to branch out arthouse independent style and get snobby, I mean as I've mentioned before in the realm of Deep Red, Herzog and Deodato are connected, that's just how it goes-- accept it. I mean yeah, one auteur has mellowed out considerably and just made one of the soft-balliest documentaries about the Internet that I've ever seen in my life and the Italian grampa is doing his version of Wal-Mart greeter, but whattya want anyhow? People get old and their brain deteriorates, it's even happening to me and I'm only 40.

This film has been on my radar ever since I saw 3 Women, loved it and wondered if Altman was capable of pulling off a decent horror film. I got what I wanted out of this one and more, it’s a thoroughly fascinating psychological horror drama that scared this shit outta me at 2 in the am! I suggest you watch it during the day or don’t hang with The Rutles at one of those fancy tea parties while it's on.

it's all there in black & white clear as crystal, legalize fizzy lifting drinks!

Almost everything about it shouldn’t be frightening at all, like the fictional realm of unicorns, seeing yourself naked holding a cute dog, Rene Auberjonois, the guy from Benson/ Deep Space Nine and most effective of all John Williams and Stomu Yamashta's music. When has E.T. or Yoda’s main fanciful music dealer ever accomplished the fear and dread that permeates this tale of a woman’s rapidly dissipating sanity. Sometimes the score gets frenetic and reminds me of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre one, with the terrifying clanging and banging.

It begins with Susannah York’s character babbling about unicorns and bullshit and she’s abruptly interrupted by what sounds like her own voice on the phone. York played Superman's mother in the first two films and won an academy award for They Shoot Horses Don't They and even best actress for this film, tragically she died of bone marrow cancer at 72. 

There’s an undercurrent of Lynchian mindfuckery that just made my skin crawl and it seems to have slightly influenced Lost Highway, years later when Robert Blake’s ghostly figure tells Bill Pullman's character to call his house to see if he's on the phone.

call 555 SLUT, I hear she puts out

The whole film is really unsettling and makes you anxious (and I’m on all kinds of meds so this film isn’t good for me)! This film was never in Deep Red Magazine, but just like The Beguiled, it has a heavy amount of eeriness hidden in an unassuming way and that film was covered before in a chapter by Steve Bissette. It has this foreboding dread like Don't Look Now, which I think would make a snazzy double feature.

thanks Bravo's 100 scariest moments for ruining this ending and fuck you Andy Cohen.

Cathryn rolls down a beautifully lush hill, the location is a majestic and yet dreary Ireland, as the camera focuses in on a dangling ornament on the rearview mirror, she drives forward completely asleep at the wheel. That image seems to deliberately nail it—right? I mean the car is driving but no one is behind the wheel, it's like a beautifully shot pun.

I hate when my Uber driver nods off

The spooky French man played by French Connection actor Marcel Bozzuffi who haunts her, often transforms out of her husband mid conversation or once while they’re kissing. Is he real, a former boyfriend or a figment of her eroding sanity, this figure does mention that he’s a ghost and she attempts to kill him a few times. I love when she hits him in the forehead with a rock (it looked uncomfortably real to me) and he bleeds all over the kitchen.

The last film that creeped me out this way was The Entity, which always makes me uneasy and weirded out. The moments when Hershey’s character resigns to the fact that this paranormal force will never leave her side and can’t be stopped or trapped left me with a cold unnerving feeling. Another level of madness that's very subtle is that the actors and characters names are switched around, for instance Cathryn is the real name of the little girl who plays Susanna (and Susannah is called Cathryn in the film). Altman seems to wanna drive me crazy with that sentence!

you think that's distressing, here Dr. Phil is wearing an Altman mask!

One character, named Marcel who’s a supposed friend of her husband is a lecherous rapist and constantly paws at Catherine. Often you can tell when her hallucinogenic madness gets to more of a boiling point because the music gets scarier and the mysterious French man leers behind the people that are physically there. At certain moments it’s hard to tell which one is really there or if it's an image from her mind. It's never revealed until the end but your brain starts to connect the dots. You can never really trust what’s happening and it makes you suspicious of everything--it made me incredibly anxious. The book "In Search of Unicorns" was published on its own, wouldn’t that be great if some kid at a thrift store got a hold of it and wanted to see if there was a movie and involuntarily delved into the world of arthouse Criterion snobby shit via Altman? Let's hope that actually happens. There are many theories as to what occurs and which metaphors are present or invented but those are usually a drag to read. I suggest you don’t listen to what the critics have to say before hand and go in with zero expectations. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.


Friday, January 20, 2017

American Nightmare

American Nightmare Directed By Don McBrearty, Starring Michael Ironside (1981/1983).

Haha, very funny Canada back in 83, how did you know even before Mike Judge that a reality show ape/ hemorrhoid faced clown would surround himself with a cabinet white supremacists, preach intolerance and dismantle the entire political system while everyone was too busy farting around on social media to notice. Actually that's complete bullshit, but you already knew that dear readers, this one is a Canuxploitation slasher that's number one selling point is that is has Alexandra Paul, the babe from Dragnet, Christine and Baywatch topless and acting super stoned and horny. She was also dating the director and this is her first role, but enough about her.

HACK, I swallowed a whole bag of Andy Capp Hot Fries while stoned

A rubber gloved john slices Tanya the hooker's throat, causing her brother to go searching for his prostitute sister. The Great White North just seems to have an over abundance of depraved half naked babes-- remember they shot Ilsa 3: Tigress of Siberia there and this one has all kinds of sleazy chicks. I learned a lot by reading Yum Yum of Houseofself-indulgence's review for this film. This was basically a time capsule of prime Toronto grime, when the streets were clogged with the legions of creeps on the level of "The Deuce" of the early 80s and 90s. Their grindhouse nostalgic domain was Yonge Street and The Zanzibar, which this movie preserves.
Everything about this one, so far, is like a zero budget ShowGirls. One stripper juggles naked in front of a poster for Connie Stevens Scorchy, another dresses like a cowgirl and they all worry about Tanya (Alexandra Paul's character).

obvious inspiration for Pink Floyd's double album A Nice Pair

Everyone is so fucking Canadian, why is it called American and not Canadian Nightmare? There's already a number of films with that catchy title, the most famous one to me being Buddy G's unedited cut of Combat Shock (which I ordered from Chas).

Michael Ironside shows up in basically the same outfit that he wore in Scanners, only its 3 years later. Ironside is never above showing up in trash, he was even in an episode of The Littlest Hobo, an 80's crime solving dog sitcom that was just mentioned on The Best Show as something to cheer us all up after the election. The murders are very similar to Maniac only the killer has no presence at all. The best part about this movie is that it's really sleazy and lots of skanks show off their assets.
One stripper played by Lenore Zann humps a pitchfork and she even carries it around off the clock as a weapon. Before this role Zann was in Visiting Hours, also with Ironside and Happy Birthday To Me. 

Peter Scolari from Bosom Buddies starting at his night job

Lawrence Day, the guy who plays Eric has all the acting style of a mannequin or Keir Dullea and his delving into the seedy underworld is sort of like Hardcore but very inept. There's a really offensive gay character named Dolly (Larry Aubrey) who seems to know everyone and I felt kind of bad when he dies. Aubrey appeared in the My Pet Monster live action video cassette special and The Vindicator, he's got quite a nerdy resume.

for Furries only

Through out the duration of the film, lurking in the background are all these dudes in tacky thrift store suits with buttons that save Uni-Save, which is a plot point that becomes very crucial toward the grand finale. I'm pretty certain it's making a statement that Uni-Cef is corrupt but I could be wrong.

holy shit it's a California Raisin in a Moe Howard wig!

There's graffiti and thought balloons that say Pink Floyd on the walls during some scenes, this movie is really stupid but it's enjoyable in its lameness. For a Giallo, which it's been called, man how did I let that one slip by, it's still very accessible and succeeds in that area. There's even some surprise incest, which really came way out of left field. A lot of times I judge a film by the last 5 minutes, if I'm on the edge of my seat like I was during Lipstick (which I've got to review, it's an amazing film that Skunkape turned me onto a few years ago), then I know it's a must see. It gets really bizarre toward the finish line, I advise you to stick it out and if you're bored and give up, I think you'll regret missing the big climax.


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Sudden Death

-Reviewed by Skunkape-
Directed by Sig Shore (1985)
Sudden Death is one of those rape/revenge flicks, it doesn't really stand out among some of the greats that we know and love here at TOG, like Lipstick, Rape SquadNaked Vengeance, and certainly not I Spit on Your Grave, but it does have a few worthy moments of greatness. By "worth moments of greatness", I mean scenes of filth and carnage.

"Let's just have a romantic evening at home with a Deathwish marathon."

So how did Sudden Death show up on my radar? Glad you asked! I was watching the film Galaxy aka Battle for the Lost Planet. Galaxy's a super low budget sci-fi post apocalyptic space oddity directed by Brett Piper. Piper's an effects guy and you may know his work from Troma's Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell, he designed the Tromasaurous! So Anyway, throughout the feature I couldn't take my eyes of the female costar, Australian beauty Denise Coward. I had to see if she was in anything else worth watching and here we are, Sudden Death.

"Is that the Cash Cab over there?"

The movie opens with it's own cheesy title song Sudden Death, I love it when the song and movie title match!  Really pulls me into the film. Once the theme song fades out, Sudden Death wastes no time getting into the rape. While Valerie Wells (Coward) is at a travel agency planning her honeymoon with her future fiance, two criminals hijack a cab. When the couple parts and kisses each other goodbye for the evening, you'll never guess what taxi Valerie flags down. She hails the stolen cab, the two crooks pull her in to brutally rape and beat her, then she's left for dead on the sidewalk. This all in the first 10 minutes of the film and we now have a new Valerie taking shape as her rage builds inside. Her fiance tells her to try to forget about it, while still hospitalized and incentive cops ask her to answer embarrassing questions. Such as "Did they penetrate you? In the Vagina, rectum, or orally?" It's enough in my book for her to purchase a fire arm and start gunning down any sleaze ball that puts their grubby paws on her. And that's exactly what she does!

"I bet you'll start using Uber now!"

"Can I get more Jell-O please?"

"I''ll catch the bad guys and get some brownie points."

There is one cop, Detective Marty Lowery (Frank Runyeon) that feels for her and is on the case. He's tracking down these scum bags and won't rest until he catches them. It's quite obvious this policeman has the hots for this honey and wants to stay close to her. Valerie is also hunting for these creeps but who will find them first?

"You buy the General Lee replica horn and I'll get some of those rockets."

"Get this cause,
There Is No Place - No Time, When A Woman Alone Can Be Safe!"

Valerie hits one sleazy hot spot after another. One leather clad guy picks her up and instantly tries to force himself on her while back at his run down apartment, this results in multiple bullets right in his torso.

"This is my kind of safe sex!"

Her most dangerous encounter occurs when she's mistaken for a prostitute. A pimp and a really kinky john decide that they want to double team her in the back of a van. She barely gets to her gun in time, luckily shooting the two heathens.

"Aren't you going to buy me dinner first?"
The most surprising situation is when a legit cab driver takes her to a bad part of town and tries to inject her with heroin so he can give her his tip, and perhaps more! All these killings start making the local paper as well as the news. The bullets she uses for the gun are expanding bullets known as dum-dum bullets so she is known throughout the city as the "Dum-Dum" killer. She can't even catch a break and get a cool vigilante name from the press!

"You're no Judd Hirsh!"
Dum Dum the bullets, not the lollipops.

Even though Detective Marty discovers Valerie's the "Dum-Dum" killer, he keeps her secret safe and when he does figure out who the two rapists are, he sets up an operation to put them away, or is it "blow them away?", for good.
Sudden Death has the tagline "The First Woman Vigilante", and "ACTION GOES INTO OVERTIME", oh wait sorry, that's the Van Dam Movie with the same title. This also has another tagline, "Don't Mess With This Dirty Harriet", which is pretty good even though Valerie is clearly channeling about 80% Charles Bronson and only 20% Clint Eastwood. The Soundtrack is nothing short of pure 80's break dancing style segue way music. I haven't been able to track down the Sudden Death theme song by Bloodlines but there are some other decent tracks to be heard in this movie like New Order's Confusion.

"I didn't expect you to look that good nekid!"

What started out as a run of the mill rape revenge film, having a dopey made for television feel to it manages to sleaze it's way into my heart, with more than enough F'd up moments to make this a worth while watch.
Denise Coward gives a strong performance transforming from successful career woman to ass kicking scum bag exterminator. We don't ever really get to know her assault-ants to well but enough to know that they deserve what they get.
SEE IT, if a fan of the genre.

PLUS,  don't forget to follow me on twitter and Theater of Guts, of course!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Wilczyca AKA She-Wolf (1983)

Wilczyca AKA She Wolf
Directed by: Marek Piestrak
Starring: Krzysztof Jasinski, Iwona Bielska, Stanislaw Brejdygant
Review by: "Machine Gun" Kristin 

Boy did I want to like this one! The opening to similar to "Don't Torture A Duckling", with horrific images of animals eating one another. In this case, a bird picks at a dead, mutilated horse, that looks much too realistic. Matter of fact, there are many scenes of animal cruelty in this that are pretty questionable. Are they real? Are they not? Horses basically scream like crazy in one scene and a dog looks like he's really hurt. The rarity of this film makes it difficult to trace the origins of its creation, so we don't know for sure if there were any animals actually hurt in the making of this movie.

I chose to watch "Wilczyca" solely based on the poster artwork. I know, I know, that could totally go either way. I know I was definitely duped by the Giallo film, "Eyeball". The poster is crazy! So of course, how bad could it be? Well, it stunk! haha. I've even done a past review here on TOG for it. Here in "Wilczyca", we're in Poland, which is unusual within itself. I don't know of too many Polish horror films in particular. They certainly run the gamut on insane poster artwork though. I guess I should've let that be a hint as to the incoherent storytelling I was about to suffer through. I actually did some reading of other reviews after I watched it, which I never do because I don't want to influence my opinion of a film before I start writing. In "She-Wolf's" case, I had to because I had no idea what was going on. There is so much regional, political back story that I didn't understand the events taking place much. There's a pretty concise review on Braineater that explains the plot completely. Even so, it still doesn't save this movie.

From what I could dig up research wise, those who are familiar with the Polish language have pandered the subtitled adaption to be pretty inaccurate in some spots. I'm just thankful that there's any attempt at a translation. I've watched a few movies in the past, (such as a VHS copy of "Cristo Te Ama" which is a 1970s drug infused Mexican exploitation film), that had no subtitles at all, so I had to sort of connect the dots based on visuals only. Apparently in "She Wolf", there's a scene where he refers to somebody as a "bumpkin", which is a goofy word to use within itself, but he actually meant something more complementary than that. Pretty funny. The main character, Casper is completely unlikable, scratch that, no one is likeable! hahaha. He beats his wife Myrna, who lays dying after after a botched abortion (scandalous!) in the opening scene. Casper's been away for months and has just come back. She says that she'll die like a bitch! Whoa! What a thing to say! Turns out, she's a bitch indeed-a dog, er, werewolf! She's even clutching a wrapped up paw from a wolf! Ewww! I guess the best thing to do when your husband is an asshole that beats you and then leaves you for months at a time, is to just pick up witchcraft to pass the time. I mean, hell, it's the 19th century, what else are you going to do? In a later scene, Casper's brother describes Myrna's bizarre behavior, while they're pulling her rough looking casket in the terrifyingly snowy backdrop. Other reviews of "Wilczyca" have described the drenched in snow scenery as "beautiful", but personally it creeped me out. It seemed like the most depressing place to possibly be. While they're burying her, the older brother (I forget his name), starts whittling a wooden steak and says nonchalantly that Casper has to hammer it into his dead wife's heart. Ughhhhh.

From here, the movie draaags. They introduce some more unlikable characters such as Juliet, who is played by the same actress as Myrna. I actually did not notice that until towards the end when Casper realizes it himself. The print of this I watched was pretty grainy, so that may have been why I didn't notice. Or maybe, I just didn't really care, haha. I'm sure there's more I could say about the actors, but I guess if you can't say anything nice, you probably shouldn't say anything.

Besides the beginning scene, the steak hammering and the real or not animal cruelty, the gore in this is pretty minimal. They basically save it all for the end of the film, which is a pity, because it's hard to say if anyone's even made it that far. Thankfully the film clocks in at about an hour and 38 minutes, so it's not excruciatingly long. "Wilczyca" has received some mixed reviews from what I could dig up. People seem to either love it or hate it. I can't say that I hated it, but I don't think I'm going to be watching it again anytime soon. It definitely did its job in creeping me out, but probably not in the way that the filmmakers intended.

RATING: 👨🏻👨🏻 2 mustaches!

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