Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Friday the 13th part 1

Friday The 13th. Directed By Sean S. Cunningham, Starring Ari Lehman (1980).

This review is a special request from Brandon Hendrix a Deep Red devotee and brilliant writer (who should be writing for us). When I was growing up in South Florida, this movie was constantly on TV on the Miami station WDZL along with Shock Waves and Nightmare on Elm Street. I had seen the Tom Savini book beforehand, so I knew how all the kills were orchestrated, using dummies squibs and real weapons cut down to create the illusion that they were being inserted into head cavities. In the make-up book Grand Illusions or Bizarro which was it's alternate title at the library, there were full color spreads of gore for The Burning, Martin and Dawn of the Dead. The Savini book was a major spoiler for me because other than Dawn, I had yet to view all of the films. This didn't matter to me and yet another reason why I don't give a shit about giving away what happens in a film, it's all about the experience. I obsessively watched Nightmare on Elm Street, though and that became a problem with my Mom, she was worried about my psyche. I was pretty fixated on Freddy (as someone still today who owns a replica of the sweater, glove and a plush doll it's safe to say I still have a major problem but whatever, I take medication so don't fucking judge me)!

No judgement here, time for your meds.

As much as I like the other Friday sequels, this one stands on its own as a fun slasher movie. I remember when I was pretty young, I went over to this guy Dave's house in New York and during the scene where pre-teen Jason jumps out of the water and scares the shit out of the last girl. His Dad kind of scrambled to turn the dial (no remote control at the time) but it was too late! 
I wasn’t really traumatized however, this was also the first time I had discovered the cartoon Heavy Metal, which at the time was only available to watch on cable and no one had the rights yet.Sometimes you could catch it at a midnight screening but only bootlegs existed.

I'm backstrokin' my ass outta this hillbilly swamp.

As for that scene in Friday the 13th, I couldn’t figure out what was going on, but I thought it was pretty funny that a little skeleton kid covered in mud and grass pops up out of the water. I always crack up in the beginning when Irwin Keyes show up at the country diner, sadly he doesn’t even have any lines. I knew this lunkhead from The Exterminator 1 & 2 even though he died in the first movie, also from The Warriors and other cameos, he’s kind of made a career as a fun character actor on the Michael Berryman level. I had no idea until he passed away that he was a reoccurring character on The Jeffersons.

R.I.P. HUGO (aka Irwin Keyes)

Everybody in the town keeps trying to warn the smiley runty camp counselor girl played by Robbi Morgan (whose the third victim, after the two counselors who die before the credits). I like the Tom Bosley looking guy who drives her around saying "Camp Crystal Lake is jinxed!" That actor Rex Everhart voiced a TV special about Gnomes and Trolls that scared the bejeesus out of me as a youngster. At the time--because my parents were Christian hippies, any kind of satanic looking creatures repelled and also attracted me. Not much has changed as an adult obviously with me.

That Crazy "Motherfucker" Ralph, I never noticed before and I've seen this flick about 20 times that the characters mention his wife is worried about him, which is so strange to think that he's married! I guess even Hitler had a dog and girlfriend. Everyone in this movie has a catch phrase seemingly, "You're Doomed, Doomed" is one that's been copied in many other films. Most of the characters die in the sequel, which Tom Savini always bitches about with good reason. I don't care I love part 2 as well.

By today’s standards the nubile teen girls are pretty fugly looking. The cutest one in my estimation is the last surviving girl played by Adrienne King, she has that bowl haircut Vicki Lawrence has on the cover of "The Lights Went Out in Georgia". When I re-watch this movie all I can think about is Mrs. Voorhees behind the camera driving people around and then murdering them. Her scene is still one of my favorite parts.

Yay it's picture day at the yarn barn!

The difference between the uncut version and this is really slight, I mean just a couple of extra seconds of blood splatter or an open wound, that wouldn't have convinced me to plunk down the $25 to get a dub from Chas. I saw this on a double feature at the Castro theater with my pal goat. They played a really shitty washed out print of The Burning which is one of my all-time favorite slashers. It’s sort of follows the pattern of this one, except it’s more fun in an awkward nihilistic way. Even though Cropsey gets his head split open towards the end, I can't imagine they'd still bring him back for a sequel, probably in an alternate universe there's a run of Burning sequels with Fisher Stevens and Mark Ratner reprising their roles ala Corey Feldman and Kane Hodder. The most confusing thing to me was how they played the raft massacre scene after the flick ended because it was excised from the existing print.

The girl that gets an ax planted in her face doesn’t wear a bra and you can see every bump on her nipples. Betsy Palmer with that itchy thick sweater (she's wearing in the humid summer too) is the best character in the whole film to me at least. Her geriatric teeth clench as she hisses "Kill Her Mommy" is pretty chilling. There are so many elements used from Bay of Blood that I discussed in an early review like the itchy sweater wearing maniac hiding behind trees and deaths that were recreated against the 80's teens stolen from the Bava 60's.

The eerie piano of Harry Manfredini during the placid water as the credits float by always strikes me as a mysteriously ambiguous ending, what does it mean and will that damn ghost boy pop up out of the water again? He never does again in this first movie at least, but I always expect him to for the second time!

I'm not going to break down each sequel and only will cover the first one. There have been some wacky moments in practically every Friday sequel. For instance, Mrs. Voorhees' decapitation is usually a crowd pleaser and one reason I created a scratchy video moment from repeatedly re-winding that climax! If you look real close you can see the stunt guy's hairy knuckles reaching up to feel for the missing noggin. Later on in part 3, Mrs. Voorhees re-attaches her own head and pops up out of the water, leech infested sweater slopping around, like part one, as entertaining as it pans out, it makes no sense whatsoever. Part one triggered an avalanche of copycats and lame sequels but I have a special place in my heart for this genre and dig all the rip offs and foreign copies. Go buy a headshot from the original Jason kid Ari Lehman who's seemingly still out there.
See you next time when I feel like writing again, which might be just in time for USA UP ALL NIGHT week in MAY. Stay Tuned.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

The Monster of Piedras Blancas

The Monster of Piedras Blancas, Starring Les Tremayne, Don Sullivan, and Jeanne Carmen, Directed by Irvin Berwick (1959).

Reviewed by Richard Glenn Schmidt

“Remember! We’re burying the Rinaldi brothers in the morning. First class funeral. Better not miss it!”

In a small seaside town, Sturges the old lighthouse keeper (played by John Harmon) is keeping a secret and it’s not his plans to get a neck tattoo. He’s been buying meat scraps for years and feeding them to something on the rocks below the lighthouse. If you’ve ever wondered what widowed lighthouse keepers get up to, now you know! His hot daughter Lucille (Jeanne Carmen) is fresh from finishing school and thinks her dad is a harmless eccentric even though he talks to his dog constantly. She works at the local diner and is dating the local science dude named Local Fred (Don Sullivan).

 Vague Accent Man knows what’s up.

Life is pretty spectacular (and horrifically dull) for all parties involved until the friggin’ monster that Sturges has been feeding starts ripping off local Italian men’s heads and feasting on their blood. Before this monster business started, the most action that Constable George (Forrest Lewis) has had to deal with is The Shoe Soiler down at the library. He, Local Fred, and Dr. Sam (Les Tremayne) are the masterminds who will get to the bottom of this monster rigmarole. They have a scale sample from one of the corpses and it’s definitely a Klyptovertablah (that’s what I wrote in my notes). One by one, the old monster claims victims including a child that should have known better than to go outside.

Hey baby, have you ever seen From Here to Eternity?


The local yokels form a posse to catch this thing and they are spectacularly ineffective. Someone actually says, “If he can think then we’re in real trouble.” Finally, the monster heads to the lighthouse to kidnap Lucille because he thinks he’s the Creature from the Black Lagoon. But he’s too much a doofus to remember how bad he wants to make sweet love to her (just like in The Shape of Water) when Sturges enrages him by pathetically shooting his impenetrable hide with a shotgun. They are able to trick the monster into falling off the lighthouse to his death or not. I’m gonna say death because this never got a sequel.

 Thank you, my constant reminder of your dead mother.

Director Irvin Berwick spent most of his career as a dialog coach on westerns. The only other of his directorial works I’ve seen is the hilarious garbage melodrama, Malibu High. Producer Aubrey “Girl’s Name” Schenck was responsible for producing such films as Voodoo Island, The Black Sleep, Robinson Crusoe on Mars, Frankenstein 1970, Pharaoh's Curse, and Daughters of Satan. I kinda love this dude. What a career (of schlock)!

 Bold as brass (not the Split Enz song).

Cinematographer Philip H. Lathrop is the reason why this film looks so damn good. His 30 year career behind the camera has some real classy stuff in it like The Illustrated Man, Touch of Evil, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s just to name a few. Two years after this monster flick, screenwriter H. Haile Chace also wrote and directed a little film called V.D. AKA Damaged Goods about a high school jock with painful urination. I guess that was his passion project.

I theorize that I won’t remember being in this film.

Blond bombshell, Jeanne Carmen, is quaintly bad in this film and I wouldn’t want her any other way. Pretty boy Don Sullivan didn’t do much but he was in Teenage Zombies and The Giant Gila Monster! The wildly prolific Les Tremayne was in every damn thing but I know him best from The Angry Red Planet. Also prolific but less memorable is old chew-toy face, Forrest Lewis, who was in The Thing That Couldn't Die but I don’t remember him at all. Of course, no one in this movie was in more crap than John Harmon! This motherfucker has nearly 300 film and TV credits under his belt with his final film being Microwave Massacre. Go out with a bang much?

Where’s my penis, Guillermo del Toro!?

I’m glad that Olive Films put out a super nice Blu-ray of this film that has somehow eluded me for so long. All of the pseudoscience and fun goofs fill my heart with an artery clogging warmth that will be with me until I croak. Sorry, those garbage cigars that Constable George were chomping on throughout the film are reminding me of my own mortality.

The other people who saw this film.

What a joy that The Monster of Piedras Blancas is. It has some serious charm and moxie going for it despite all of the half-assery going on. The camp is high and the monster, in spite of his doofness, isn’t fucking around. He kills adults and children alike and walks around in broad daylight with his severed head to-go cup. The Angry Samoans used a production still from this movie for their 1982 album, Back from Samoa. Speaking of punk rock, when the monster buys the farm at the end of the movie, his death scream is just a dude screaming. How is that related to punk? It’s not, it’s just lazy as balls.
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