Thursday, December 13, 2007
Up from the ground comes a bubbling white creamy substance. Some guy stumbles upon it, tastes it and since it's so delicious, decides to market it. The world loves it, but some people, a Texan detective and a kid in particular are highly suspicious. The detective is hired to find out what The Stuff is made of and a kid who sees this yummy dessert moving about his fridge. People start showing clear signs of dependency on The Stuff and are turning into yogurt zombies called "Stuffies", encouraging everyone to eat The Stuff, because it's so tasty and good for you too. They discover that there is no mixing or processing of The Stuff, it's just being mined out of the ground without even being tested. The Stuff is pretty aggressive in large quantities and can attack at will. The detective sneaks into the factory where The Stuff is being distributed from and plants a few land mines and blows up the geyser that the Stuff is bubbling out from. The Stuff is outed as a mind altering bacterial substance and the people vow to get rid of all of it. At the end, when all seems right with the world, you see what looks like some kind of drug deal, and you learn it's a couple of Stuffies getting their fix and transporting it like a drug cartel. This has been a great cult favorite and a great time capsule from the early 80's too.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
This is a true masterpiece of film. It has reached a high cult status and is just as scary today as it was when it was released in 1922. It's taken almost verbatim form Bram Stoker's novel "Dracula", which didn't sit well with Stoker's widow who had never given away rights to the story. Therefore, all references to "Dracula" must never be used and then she went a step further and decided that it was completely plagiarized and tried to have all copies of the movie destroyed. Fortunately, she was unsuccessful at halting the movie entirely. Director F.W. Murnau changed a few characters names, slightly altered events, including the name of the movie to Nosferatu. Instead of Count Dracula, we have Count Orlock. Even with the changes, this is without a doubt, an obvious adaptation of Bram Stoker's novel. Rights or no rights, we have it today to enjoy and that's all that really matters. The part of Count Orlock was played by Max Schreck, who was a very very eccentric person who actually thought he was a vampire in real life, only filmed at night and traveled around in a coffin at all times. He ate bats and rats and pretty much freaked out anyone who had the non advantage of being around him. Due to his vampiric ways, the movie took much longer than anticipated, special sets had to be built of a ship because Max Schreck refused to film on a real ship. Despite the controversy about Max Schreck and the ongoing problems that plagued the making of the film, Max Schreck delivers a bone chilling performance. He's so creepy looking, it literally gives me chills and has been scaring the hell out of people for over eighty years now. The filming of this movie and the antics of Max Schreck have been legend for years and was used as the topic of a recent film called "Shadow of the Vampire" starring John Malkovich and Willem Dafoe.
This was Ed Wood's second movie, but first feature film. Glen or Glenda had a horrible reception and seemed more like a semi-autobiographical documentary on transvestites, when it was supposed to be about sex changes. I think with Jail Bait, Ed was just trying to make some money. Crime dramas were very big at the time and he thought he cash in on it, then take the profits from that and make a sci-fi horror flick as was his usual M.O. Miraculously, a young Steve Reeves (Hercules) managed to make it into this little flick. Crime drama wasn't really Ed's favorite medium, but he did the best he could with it. Not a bad story really. I mean of course it has all the trademarks of being an Ed Wood film... deplorable acting, totally improbable plots and cheap sets. Speaking of sets, these here are exactly the same ones from Glen or Glenda, (this being the first film following Glen or Glenda, I guess Ed thought he could successfully recycle without anyone noticing). It also had the same actors which again just made it seem like Glen/Glenda was a murderer having plastic surgery to alter his/her face to escape the police. Basically, the story is about a guy who commits a murder, then he himself is murdered. His murderer tries to blackmail the original killers father (a prominent plastic surgeon) to alter his appearance to escape the authorities. The plastic surgeon thinks his son has only been kidnapped, but soon learns that his son is dead. He performs the plastic surgery (at the guys house, armed with a scalpel and a tub of hot water) and when the police finally start to catch up with killer #2, it's conveniently time for the unveiling of bandages to prove that he's someone else. Amazingly, the father managed to completely alter his face to look exactly like his dead son that was wanted for murder. He's shot by the cops, the end. Like I said, this isn't very much like most of Ed's stuff, but still has that totally cheaper than cheap feel to it that we've come to love in all Ed Wood's movies.
Contrary to popular belief, "Chastity" was not Sonny and Cher's first movie attempt. Before Chastity, there was "Good Times". This very unknown part of Sonny and Cher's career went unnoticed since the day it was released. At this stage of their career, they were looking to do something different aside from singing to support their act and keep it alive and up to date (all kinds of musicians and bands were making movies as well), and this was their first try at movies, therefore it is the ONLY movie that stars both Sonny and Cher. It looks like it's gonna be a great comedy played by a famous duo, but is ends up coming out boring and depressing. I think the folly of this film is that Sonny not only wrote it, but he also played all the major roles. Cher by contrast isn't allowed nearly as much screen time. And let's be honest, between the two, who would you rather watch? Anyway, Sonny and Cher Play themselves (painfully honest, I assume). They are solicited by some weirdo named Mr. Morticus (George Sanders, who committed suicide not long after making this pile of crap) to make a movie because he rather fancies them and thinks their "with it, man.". Mr. Morticus has people wrestling and fighting in his office and stewardess looking women who are delivering drinks and whatnot to everyone (a truly bizarre scene that is never explained). Morticus and Sonny strike a deal, Morticus tells the writers to just plagiarise "Rags to Riches" and just change a few names around. Sonny and Cher hate it and Morticus gives them ten days to come up with something themselves using props from the studio. The rest of the movie is Sonny trying to think of a cool movie theme (still thinking that they actually have a say in the movies story). Sonny has a western themed scene, a jungle themed scene and Dragnet with girl Friday themed scene. All are pretty boring as Sonny does most of the talking and singing, and Cher is just this stubborn spoiled side dish that gripes about anything and everything throughout the entire movie (and wears some of the wildest clothes ever seen). Morticus hates all Sonny's ideas (who wouldn't?) and still insists on the "rags to riches" story. They say "no", he says "you'll never work again, blah, blah, blah." Sonny and Cher walk out and happily stroll down the street. The End. What can I say... in this move Sonny is stupid and Cher is a Bitch. Painfully contrast to the squeaky clean image that they had at that time. As a funny side note: This film was directed by William Freidkin (The Exorcist). From Sonny and Cher to demon possession. A bit of a leap there Mr. Friedkin?
Wow, what a great movie! Even though this film is very well known (which is definitely contrast to the general definition of a cult classic. But this movie has without a doubt gathered a huge cult status and has been recently remade as a comedy starring Nicole Kidman, Mathew Broderick and Bette Midler. The original is far superior to it's remake in both style, creativity, suspense and depth of character. A growing family is tired of the city (and all the craziness that comes with it) and decides to move to the cleaner suburban outskirts of the city to raise their children in a more wholesome environment. They choose Stepford, a town that from the start seems a little off kilter. For one thing, all the housewives are extremely vapid, caring only about cooking, cleaning and tending to their husbands every need with the utmost enthusiasm. When they talk, they sound like living TV commercials (If Shiny Clean Dishwasher soap were to ask me to do a commercial for them, not only would I do it, but I'd do it for free.) Despite it's oddities, this new couple manages to cope. The kids are doing well in school, making friends. The husband joins the Stepford Men's Association. Only Joanna the wife is not content, believing that something is odd, but just can't identify it. Fortunately for Joanna, another couple have recently moved to Stepford. The two wives (Joanna and Bobbie) instantly bond and very much agree that Stepford is just plain weird. It's TOO clean, everyone's TOO friendly and the wives are sexy and gorgeous, yet they fawn over overweight ugly old men (their husbands). Because all the men in town belong to the "Husbands Only" lodge they try to organize a womens club. Only one other woman in town is interested, a wife that has only been in Stepford for a few months, named Charmaine. Anyway, after returning from a "trip" with her husband, Charmaine is now acting like all the other wives in Stepford. Cooking, cleaning, and wearing flowery aprons while dusting the house in heels (totally Donna Reed style). This is a tremendous contrast from the independent, free thinking woman she was before who needed a recipe just to make ice. Joanna and Bobbie find this incredibly disturbing and can't understand how these transformations could possibly be taking place. Then soon after, Bobbie asks Joanna to babysit her kids while her and her husband go on "second honeymoon". When she comes back, she's wearing beautiful makeup, her kitchen is so clean it's sanitized and she is all of a sudden madly devoted to her husband. Joanna freaks and stabs Bobbie in the stomach. Bobbie pulls out the clean, non blood stained knife and proceeds to go haywire like a short circuited robot, opening and closing cabinets, dumping cup after cup of coffee on the floor, repeating things like "How could you do a thing like that", "When I was just going to give you coffee", "I thought we were friends". Noticing that it had been exactly six months after moving to Stepford that Charmaine changed and now Bobbie had been in town for exactly six months and has suddenly changed. Realizing that she has been in town for almost six months herself, Joanna becomes frantic. She seeks help from a psychiatrist who ends up being the only person that believes Joanna's story. The psychiatrist advises her to get out of town now... take the kids and run. But when Joanna returns, the children are nowhere to be found. She goes to the Mens Lodge to confront her husband and to get her kids. The only person she finds is the President of the Mens Association who basically tells her that she has no choice. She runs and hides in a room, but to her amazement the room looks just like her bedroom at home. There's even a replica of Joanna sitting at a vanity table brushing her hair. The replica has considerably larger boobs and has completely black eyes (the assumption is that she's not quite finished with her replication process). A shocked Joanna is strangled by the replica and the next thing you know, she's dressed all frilly and is obsessed with the grocery store. Oh, didn't I mention that one of the members of the Men's Association used to work at Disneyland... making robots.
Some idiot is driving down a dirt road smoking a joint with his dog, supposedly attempting to deliver a few barrels of toxic waste. The scene is now obviously set for a movie from Troma. Toxic waste, bad acting, and the appearance of being filmed with a home movie camera. Anyway, the guy loses the barrel, a fat redneck finds it and uses it for an an alcohol still, therefore making toxic moonshine. One by one, these rednecks start becoming toxic zombies. Fortunately for the story, there are a group of campers nearby that make for some tasty vittles. This movies starts out quite comically with the stereotypical rednecks being their weird little country selves, but about halfway through the film it just turns into outright gore. Troma movies can be pretty gross, but this one is totally disgusting. Not much plot, really. Just colorful characters and lots of gore. Absolutely do NOT invest any time trying to understand anything in this movie, for it just isn't relevant. Just sit back and enjoy the humorous zombie make-up, cheap special effects and non funny one liner jokes.
Monday, December 10, 2007
Ed Wood's Night of the Ghouls is an unofficial sequel to Bride of the Monster. There are several references to "The Old Willows Place" (Dr. Vornoff's residence and lab that explodes in Bride of the Monster) and even Lobo, the kind hearted monster from "Bride" makes a reappearance (with much more gruesome make-up than before). A Swami scam artist that bilks people into believing that he can channel the dead, recruits an actress to plays a roaming ghost at night to frighten people. Unfortunately for her, a real ghost dressed in black is following her with the same intentions. As the Swami (who's actual name is Dr. Acula. (DrAcula, get it? Of course you get it, you just don't want it.) holds his fake seances, he fools people with the weirdest tricks. One is a floating trumpet, a guy in a white sheet scuttles by every now and then with a very whimsical tune that plays as he shuffles by. There was some other "floating" (obviously on a string) object that I couldn't identify. All this weirdness doesn't even phase the people at the seance. This cheap crap never even strikes the seance members in the slightest as strange or odd, they actually think it's "normal", although I use that term loosely. At the seance, two attendees are skeletons wearing cheap wigs. Eventually, after committing an endless list of criminal offences, the Swami isn't taken down by the law but instead by ghosts of the families that the Swami scammed. They crowd around him and the next morning, he's gone and the "ghosts" are now a pile of bones on the floor. This Ed Wood film came a little later in the game than most of his movies. You see, Ed didn't make movies, he made crap. Therefore was broke and fit the perfect stereotype of the starving artist. Since he was so broke, he couldn't afford to have this film developed. Decades later when Wade Williams bought the rights to Ed Wood's movies. He had the film developed decades after it was filmed, so that now we can enjoy this almost nearly lost classic. If you loved Bride of the Monster, then Night of the Ghouls should definitely be sought out. I think it's one of Eddie's better pieces of doo doo.
Another one of Ed Wood's classics in the can. This is officially Bela Lugosi's last movie. He is credited and seen briefly in one of Ed's later films Plan 9 From Outer Space, but this is only because Ed happened to have some home movies of Bela and wove them (not so gracefully) into the plot. Anyway, this movie is an attempt at a Sci-Fi thriller, but like all of Ed's other work, turned out to be crap. Dr. Eric Vornoff (Bela) has been run out of his native country and bought an old house out in the woods called the " Old Willow's Place". Armed with his muscleman slave Lobo (wrestler Tor Johnson) he plans to use nuclear technology to create his own army of "super beings". A nosy newspaper reporter named Janet Lawton is investigating the legend of the monster at the Old Willows Place (technically we're never really told what the monster was... was it Lobo, the octopus or what Dr. Vornoff becomes after being zapped with his own raygun). Probably because the original title of this film was Bride of the Atom, but was changed so as to have a scarier sounding title. She gets too close, gets kidnapped, forced to dress like a bride and is strapped to a table, apparently to be one of the first people that Dr. Vornoff plans to turn into a super being. Lobo saves her at the last minute and straps the doctor onto the table in her place. Dr. Vornoff gets zapped by his own machine and turns into something, not sure if it's a super being or if it went terribly wrong and made him into a monster. The only noticeable differences is that he looks kinda burnt, with messed up hair and is wearing huge black 6 inch pump shoes. All through the movie, Ed tries desperately to match the stock footage to his own footage. He fails miserably. The doctor has a pet octopus, which at the end of the movie ends up eating the good doctor for dinner, but nevertheless looks faker than fake when compared to the stock footage of a real octopus. The same with a snake in a tree... a shot of a real snake and then the rubber one in the tree that doesn't move. And as a final flaw in the movie, Dr. Vornoff's residence/laboratory explodes at the end for no reason and the explosion is stock footage of an atomic bomb that would have destroyed half the globe, yet everyone near the house isn't even blinded as they look upon what's become of a mad geniuses work. True crap, and is therefore strongly recommended for cult fans.
Orgy of the Dead was one of Ed Wood's last films. And if you thought Glen or Glenda or Plan 9 was bad, this farce makes them look like masterpieces. Towards the end of his life, he had already been a raging alcoholic for years and had begun making monster/nudie films. Light weight porn with a vague monster theme, basically. This movie has no plot at all and only the bare bones of a story. A young couple are traveling down the road and run out of gas near a cemetery. Day instantly becomes night as we move from an outside shot to a studio shot (one of Ed Woods favorite continuity goofs). They are tied up by a werewolf (you can actually see the actors whole neck because the mask is too small). The infamously incorrect self proclaimed psychic (and Ed's favorite drinking buddy) Criswell rises out of a coffin and gives some kind of speech about the creatures of the night, blah, blah, blah. He is obviously reading a cue card, as his eyes move back and forth. He even moves his head back and forth a little too. It also looks like he has on enough make-up to carve your initials in. He is joined by some Vampira wannabe that looks like Elvira's younger sister. Throughout the rest of the movie, the captive couple are subjected to striptease after striptease, by heavily endowed females jiggling around to a "spooky" soundtrack. Each girl comes out "dressed" as something different. There's the Voodoo girl, the jungle girl, the skeleton girl, the mummy girl, etc. They come out half dressed to begin with and "dance" around until all clothes are a distant memory. One after the other, like it's Halloween at a strip club. Then it abruptly ends when the couple untie themselves and escape. I truly believe that there's something out there for everyone, so if you like big bosoms and strippers on Halloween... this Bud's for you.
Sunday, December 9, 2007
May is a pathetically lonely person who's only friend is a doll named "Suzie" that is special and isn't supposed to be taken out of her glass display case (gee, what fun). She also has a lazy eye and has to wear an eye patch to school, ensuring that she will have no friends. May grows up, but still has no friends (except Suzie, whom she talks to all the time). Tired of being alone, she seeks love and friendship. So one day she spots Adam, specifically his hands for which she has an unnatural liking for. They have a date or two until he discovers just how weird she is. She stalks him for a while, until overhearing Adam tell a friend how he successfully dumped "that nutcase". Distraught over Adam, May takes interest in Polly, a coworker of May's (her neck fascinates May) at the veterinarian hospital that has been hinting that she likes May for some time now. Polly seems sincere about having a relationship with May... that is until Ambrosia (Betty Grable on steroids) comes along and soon Polly's interest in May simmers down. Every time something goes sour in May's life, we hear the cracking of Suzie's glass case in the background, symbolically representing the cracking of May's sanity.. Hurt for the second time now, she desperately craves love, so she volunteers at a daycare for blind kids. This works out fine until May brings Suzie to the daycare for show and tell. An accident happens and the glass case gets broken and every child in the place gets shredded with broken glass (remember, they're blind kids, they see and discover through touching), thus ending her new hobby as a care giver. After some time, she's sitting on a city bench when some punk named Zero drops in. As oppose to his punk appearance, he's an overly polite nice guy. May is again searching for that one person that won't screw her over and will be her friend. Unfortunately, May had killed her cat a few days prior and stuffed it in the freezer, so when Zero goes looking for ice cubes, he gets a surprise. He calls May a freak and says that he'd never be her friend. This is the last straw and May snaps. She kills Zero by stabbing him in the head with scissors (something I've wanted to do to George Bush for a long time now). May finally catches on to the phrase "If you can't find a friend... make one." She decides that she needs more parts, so on Halloween she dresses up like Suzie and armed with scalpels and a beer cooler, sets out to collect all the parts she needs to make her "new friend". She collects Adam's hands, Polly's neck, and Ambrosia's legs. Nobody notices anything peculiar since it's Halloween. Once home, May sets to work "making" her new friend (May has a knack for sewing). With all the right parts, May now has the perfect friend. One thing is wrong though. May's new friend has a fabric head (I guess May never liked anyone's head enough to use it) and cannot see May. She tries putting her glasses on it to no avail. It appears that one last sacrifice can bring life to May's perfect friend. She gouges out her good eye and puts it on the "quilted cadaver". Then... the arm moves slowly up to May's crying face and strokes her hair, comforting her. Creepy to say the least. I suppose the installment of life to the "friend" is symbolic of May going right off the deep end, with this final comfort from the new friend she just made. This is probably one of the newest films to be awarded a cult status. Released in 2002, it was slow to catch on but it has gained a huge cult following in a pretty short period of time. One of my all-time favorites.
Whatever Happened to Baby Jane is a rather recent addition to a cult status. You see, it had a large budget, Oscar winning actresses and was a huge success when it was released... all of which are traits that would be really hard to include in any kind of cult film. I think the reason it's gained a lot of cult status is that this was intended to be a suspense/drama and turned out to be incredibly funny. Unintentional humor is usually a large part of what makes a cult film. Another aspect that makes this movie great is the off-screen antics of the films two main actresses. Joan Crawford and Bette Davis, who were in constant competition of the coveted title of Queen Bitch of Hollywood, a feud that had been growing for years before "Baby Jane" was filmed. Both actresses were practically fossils when they made this movie and were considered very low profile. One director even stated "I wouldn't give a wooden nickel for those two old broads." But director Robert Aldrich saw it differently and had struck upon a great idea... take two actresses who literally hated each others guts and put them both in a movie where their characters hate each others guts. Absolutely brilliant!! That hatred for each other fueled some of the best acting ever produced, with absolutely no inspiration needed at all. The story goes a little like this... In 1917 Baby Jane Hudson was the child star to end all child stars, singing and dancing her way across America's heart. But then she went and committed the worst crime that a child star can do... she grew up. Fast forward to 1935, Jane's sister Blanche has become the most successful actresses of her time and Jane's career is in the toilet. One night, the two of them are returning home from a party, we see one sister get out of the car to unlock the gates and the other sister hits the gas and outright runs her down. Fast forward again to "yesterday"... Blanche is in a wheelchair and Jane is her care giver. Basically two old biddies living in an old Hollywood house, and have been out of the spotlight for some time now, one was a star for a few years as a child and the other sister a much more successful actress as an adult for a much longer time. For years, the hatred and resentment has been building, until Jane is quite fed up with what she considers to be the sacrifice of her career for the sake of caring for her sister. The insinuation being that Jane ran Blanche down (just to be a bitch, I guess), so out of guilt takes care of her sister. Jane begins to treat her sister very badly and we soon learn that she also appears to be losing her grasp on reality. When they begin showing some of Blanche's old movies on television (before we had VCR's) Jane is terribly jealous and her abuse against Blanche become bizarrely inhumane. She takes out the phone in Blanche's room, is keeping flowers and fan mail meant for Blanche, she even cooks Blanche's parakeet and then serves it to her for dinner. Oh and didn't I also mention that Jane is now a raging alcoholic? The loonier Jane gets, the more desperate Blanche becomes, after all it's gotta be pretty scary to be dependent on someone who hates and resents you, cooks you parakeets and rats for dinner, is forging your signature and stealing from your bank account, and is by all means becoming a complete lunatic. All while slowly starving her sister to death, Jane is also trying to revive her act as "Baby Jane Hudson". Acting and dressing like when she was a young star, which of course looks totally creepy on someone who is now in her late 60's. Through the newspaper, she places an ad for a partner in reviving her career. She meets Edwin, who also thinks she's a nut, but a nut with money. He's just after the cash, therefore he indulges her looniness for the sake of making some money. Blanche's friend Elvira comes to find out why Blanche can't be reached on the phone and why Jane won't let her go upstairs to Blanche's room. Opening the door and finding Blanche hog tied to the bed with her mouth taped shut, she tries to help. Unfortunately Jane clobbers Elvira with a hammer from behind and kills her before she can help. That night, Jane dumps the body. A day or two later cops come questioning Jane about Elvira's disappearance, so Jane panics, grabs her barely conscious sister and heads for the beach. While lying on the beach, Jane plays in the sand while Blanche lies there dying. A wonderful twist ending occurs (which I normally wouldn't tell people, but what the hell, it's my blog). As a dying confession, Blanche reveals that it was actually her that was driving the car that fateful night, and not her sister Jane. Blanche had a hatred for Jane ever since they were little when Jane was getting all the attention. Apparently, Jane had been a real bitch to Blanche at the party that they had just returned home from and that it was Blanche that was driving, not jane who was unlocking the gates, and tried to run Jane down with the car, snapping her spine and crippling herself. She crawled out of the car and up to the gates and when the cops arrived they assumed Jane had done it. Jane was apparently too drunk to know what had happened. Then, one of the best lines of the movie... "You mean, all this time we could've been friends?". By now people are noticing a dying Blanche and a dancing Jane, so pretty soon the cops arrive, the end. We're left with the assumptions that Blanche gets the help she needs within minutes of losing her life, and that Jane is finally carted off to the funny farm where she seriously belongs. As I stated before, Joan Crawford and Bette Davis hated each other so there was definitely some awful tension going back and forth off camera (which greatly enhanced their performances on camera). A few examples: Joan Crawford was the CEO for Pepsi Cola at the time, therefore Bette Davis had Coca-Cola (Pepsi's biggest rival) machines installed everywhere. There's a scene where Jane is kicking the crap out of Blanche, and they had to use a dummy because Joan Crawford didn't trust Bette Davis to not actually kick her. In a scene where Jane is dragging Blanche out of bed and into the hall, you can tell that Bette Davis is really having a hard time carrying and dragging her, this is due to the fact that Joan Crawford hid heavy weights under her dress so that she would be much heavier when they had to do the scene. I could go on and on, the trivia for this movie is as fascinating as the movie itself. Even director Robert Aldrich was surprised (and relieved) when Bette Davis opted to do her own make-up for the film which is really terrible. He also stated that he would be literally too scared of her to make her look that bad. This truly is a great movie and is now really becoming a true cult classic.
Friday, November 30, 2007
This is the infamous sequel to Night of the Living Dead. Dawn of the Dead was a bit more mainstream than it's predecessor, mostly due to Night of the Living Dead becoming such an unexpected major success. The storyline is supposedly the next day, even though it's obviously not, due to the different, more modern clothes and hairstyles. Anyway, the dead are still being resurrected for some as yet unknown reason (it was hinted as space radiation, but never confirmed) and are outnumbering the police and military, and eventually starting to overrun the planet. At a television station, people are panicking and abandoning their jobs as TV informants and are heading for who knows where. A helicopter pilot, his girlfriend, a military buddy and his friend take to the skies, trying to figure out what the hell to do next. They come across a huge shopping mall (another storyline continuation discrepancy) and land on the roof. There's a few zombies roaming around, but not many. They soon realize the benefits of staying there for a while. They rid the mall of the few zombies it has and block all the entrances to the mall with freight trucks. Finally, after getting some sleep, they milk the mall for all it's worth, which is quite a lot. Food, clothes, televisions, radios and ammunition as far as the eye can see. While placing the freight trucks, one of the men was bitten on the leg by a zombie. Three days later, he dies, then comes back, then dies again and is buried in the mall garden courtyard. All goes well for a while, then the mall is raided by a gang of motorcycle bandits. In fighting for what he has claimed as his, the helicopter pilot flips out and fights back. He ends up wounded and then attacked by zombies, dies, resurrects and comes after the only two remaining live people he knows of. The rest of the zombies follow him and bombard the upstairs sanctuary leaving the military guy and the pilots girlfriend to escape the only way possible... up. They fly off in the helicopter (thankfully, he taught his girlfriend how to fly it) and that's the end. I have to say that I was a little disappointed when it ended. There were just too many unanswered questions. Near the beginning of the movie, we find out that the pilots girlfriend is pregnant, but she's like 9 months pregnant at the end when they fly away. Also, where the hell did they go with almost no fuel left. I guess it was so that they could make another sequel (which they did, and much like this one it differs greatly in time discrepancy). The movie basically ends right where it began, so it makes a good transition between the original and part three. This movie was recently remade and unlike the great majority of movie remakes, this one is actually pretty damn good. Scary as hell.
The Children is another wonderful yet practically impossible movie to find. It's one of Troma's least popular movies (at least in comparison to "Toxic Avenger" and "Class of Nuke 'em High) I can't imagine why because it's a jewel of of movie. It's a totally classic movie featuring Troma's most patented plots concerning nuclear waste. A school bus is bringing happy singing kids home and passes through a suspicious yellow cloud. We learn that a nearby nuclear facility has had an uncontainable leak of toxic waste. The bus and children are not arriving home as scheduled and when the school bus is finally located off to the side of the road, no bus driver, no children. Pretty soon, the youngsters are seen walking around in a trance-like state and have mysterious black fingernails. When parents go to hug them, the parent begins to smoke, burn and are eventually reduced to a blistered pile of goo that sort of resembles a human. The children hug and melt parents, siblings, baby sitters, etc. for most of the movie (very cheesy special effects that are really side splitting). Pretty soon the problem is recognized and the children are exterminated. All seems well, but soon afterwards when the one of the main characters' wife gives birth... it has mysterious black fingernails. Much like the movie "Village of the Damned", this film has a special kind of creepiness to it because it uses innocent looking children as murderous monsters. Well worth seeking out!
Sunday, November 25, 2007
This is another gem from Troma. A little different though, it's in french, hopefully with subtitles and actually had an air of quality to it that most Troma movies lack, due to the fact that H.R. Giger (artist, most popular for having designed the creature in the high budget film Alien) was recruited to design the Killer Condom. Anyway, the story goes... a man in a sleazy motel gets his penis bitten off and the woman performing fellatio on him is the presumed culprit. She's soon exonerated due to many other attacks on different men's penises around town. Inspector mackaroni, a gay chain smoking sleuth with one testicle is on the prowl for what's attacking men all over town. They soon discover vicious, hungry organisms that look like condoms and are biting off weenies left and right. That's right, it's the rubber that rubs you out. The condoms are hilariously fanged and can even run. Inspector Mackaroni soon discovers that these creatures are being genetically manufactured by a woman scientist with a hatred for men, especially gay men (I guess if one penis makes her mad, then two penises should really piss her off.) It's a very funny film with a lot of laughs and definitely worth seeking out.
Class of Nuke 'em High is one of Troma's greatest hits. For those of you who don't know what Troma is... it's a production company that for a while had their own actors to star in most of their early films. Troma also buys and reproduces old and otherwise lost cult films. Their also known as the Troma Team. Some of their more recent self produced films have been beyond awful, even for cult fiends. They certainly do have a few very entertaining movie gems though, but the rest look like they were filmed with a simple camcorder with some of the worst acting ever. As always, it's a matter of taste. But the fact remains that Troma has an undeniable cult following and deserves it's rightful position among the strangely elite. Class of Nuke 'em High is a great movie with a really fun plot. As with most of Troma's movies, this one centers around the topic of nuclear waste. A nuclear plant that is next door to Tromaville High School begins to leak toxic waste and starts turning teenagers into violent cretins. A gang of thugs start selling pot that is grown out of toxic chemical waste and when a Warren and his girlfriend Chrissy smoke a joint at a party, they start undergoing strange happenings. Warren turns into a green drooling sort of disgusting superhero, that is compelled to fight crime and his girlfriend Chrissy belches up a weird wormlike creature that gets flushed down the school commode and ends up in a barrel of toxic waste where it grows to an enormous size. When a gang of thugs (The Cretins) get kicked out of school for violence and drug pushing, they take revenge by trashing the school. Unbeknownst to The Cretins, there is a huge, tall, slimy, worm thing in the school that seems pretty pissed off (maybe because he's protecting his "mommy"). The worm thing eats Cretins left and right and when it gets it's tentacles on Chrissy (Mommmiee...), Warren finds a laser and beams it at wormy the thing. It lets Chrissy go and everybody gets out (well, most everybody). Moments later, wormy thing explodes, school explodes too and creates a lot of really happy students (school's out!!!) It's reading, writing and radiation! Great fun!
Saturday, November 24, 2007
This campy little classic has grown in cult status over the years. At first it was hard to find but eventually a DVD of it came out both on it's own and as a double feature, coupled with the film about Ed Gein "Deranged". It stars an ancient Rory Calhoun as Farmer Vincent, who along with his sister Ida (Nancy Parsons, most known for her role as the bitchy Coach Balbricker from Porky's) run the famous (at least locally) Farmer Vincent's Smoked Meats, the tastiest barbecue and beef jerky in the south. Vincent has all sorts of booby traps that he uses to ensnare hapless victims who are then buried up to their neck in a sort of human garden, have their vocal chords severed so they can't scream (just gurgle a lot) and are kept there with bags over their heads until they are "ripe form the picking". He then cleans them, smokes them and sells them to the greater southern populace who love his meats and keep coming back for more. His philosophy, "Meat is Meat and Man's Gotta Eat". Eventually, Vincent traps a couple on a motorcycle, plants the boyfriend in the "garden", tells the girlfriend that he died and since the girlfriend is pretty, Vincent decides to keep her, (not exactly sure why) he treats the girl more like a lost puppy than a scared young woman. Vincent's brother (conveniently the sheriff, and one of the biggest cannibals in the whole county) falls for the newcomer, but to much amazement, she decides that she wants to marry Vincent (what could a pretty young blonde in her 20's possibly want with Rory Cahoun?) Anyway, eventually she learns the secret of Vincent's marvelous meats, appropriately disagrees and is put on some type of meat slicing machine alive, all the while Vincent and little brother sheriff have a chainsaw duel (Vincent wears a pigs head, really creepy), just to have the damsel in distress to be saved by the lovelorn sheriff at the last moment. As for Ida... well, one of the "garden people" gets loose, releases all the others and together (massively gurgling the whole way) hunt Ida down and bury her in the garden... upside down. It's funny, at the end of the movie there's what appears to be a poignant moment when Vincent is dying and explaining his horrible actions to his brother. His horrible action... he used preservatives.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
The Evil Dead was the first movie collaboration with Director Sam Raimi and actor Bruce Campbell. It spawned two more sequels making it a trilogy. The story starts as a group of 5 young people take a vacation in a deserted cabin deep in the Tennessee woods, (sounds like the ideal getaway doesn't it). During the course of their mundane partying, they hear noises in the basement (which appears to be about three times bigger than the house itself) so they investigate. They find a tape recorder, a strange dagger and a book (Noturam Demontos, book of the dead). As they listen to the tape recorder, a man describes how the reciting of the passages of the book can awaken the evil beings that haunts the forests and dark bowers of mans domain. The man on the tape recorder recites the passages and before long the forest starts to come alive. One by one, the happy vacationers are possessed by evil demons and start killing and eating each other. The main character "Ash" is for some reason, never possessed, but has to deal with his sister, girlfriend, best buddy, etc... all getting possessed and turning into vigorous flesh eating zombies. They can't leave because the surrounding forests seem to be possessed also. One girl tries to escape and is actually raped by a tree. Poor Ash goes through hell just trying to survive the night, because hopefully the demons will recede back into the forest when the sun rises. He has to dismember and bury his girlfriend (which doesn't really work). He gouges eyes, chops up friends, and gets lots of blood splattered everywhere. When he becomes the only non-possessed, non-dismembered person there, and it's almost dawn, he thinks he's gonna be alright. ...I don't think so.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
This little gem starring Joan Crawford is a must see. It covers all the essentials... campiness, a stupid plot, bad acting and an aging Hollywood superstar with nothing else to do. This film was made by William Castle (House on Haunted Hill) who had always used gimmicks with his movies (buzzing theater seats for "The Tingler" and a flying skeleton for "House on Haunted Hill") stumbled upon the ultimate gimmick when he found Joan Crawford. She had been making movies for a hell of a long time, with a hit here and there. It appeared that she was losing ground as an actress and when "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" made her a hot item once again. This film soon followed and really is a great performance on Crawford's part (can't say anything good about anyone else in this movie though). Alright, the movie opens when Lucy Harbin (Joan Crawford) coming home early from a trip and catches her husband screwing an old girlfriend. She takes an ax, chops them to bits and is carted off to the loony bin. Their daughter witnesses the entire event. Fast forward twenty years, Lucy is finally released from the asylum and goes to stay with her daughter. All seems fine... the daughter is a pretty young woman now, is a sculptress and is engaged to a handsome young man. Things couldn't be going better... until Lucy starts to have nightmares about the murders and wakes up next to two severed heads and hears an eerie nursery rhyme about herself repeated incessantly (Lucy Harbin took an ax and gave her husband forty whacks and when she saw what she had done, she gave his girlfriend forty one). Strange events begin to happen and people start disappearing. Everything points to Lucy, of course. We also learn that the gentleman that Lucy's daughter is engaged to is the son of a wealthy, prominent, business man. Lucy's daughter Carol is positive that her fiances parents are not going to allow their son to marry a woman who's mother is a certified but rehabilitated lunatic. So she assumes that having her mother recommitted (and out of the picture) is the only solution. Lucy herself actually walks in on someone who looks just like her in the process of committing an ax murder. A scuffle ensues and the "other" Joan Crawfords mask is pulled off. Surprise, surprise... it's Carol. Having made the mask from a sculpture she had created of her mothers face. All in the attempt to drive poor Lucy over the edge again, so she can have her stupid fiances parents like her. Kinda dumb, but still very entertaining.
Divine. The name says it all. One of my favorite actors/actresses in the entire world. Born Harris Glen Milstead in Baltimore Maryland, he grew up with childhood friend John Waters. The two became synonymous for quite some time, at least until Divine died from sleep apnea in 1989 (the result of years of excessive weight gain). John Waters and Divine created some of the best cult films ever made. Divine starred in all but one John Waters movie (Desperate Living, in which Divine was slated to be in but had to pull out due to his touring schedule) until his untimely death shortly after starring in John's biggest hit "Hairspray" (which spawned an actually pretty amusing musical on Broadway in which Harvey Fierstein very appropriately played Divine's role as Edna Turnblad). Divine remained with John Waters for 90% of his career making classics like "Pink Flamingos" and "Female Trouble", but in the late 70's/early 80's when he began to gain some actual fame, Divine began to spread his wings a little and starred in a few plays such "The Neon Woman" and also starred in other motion pictures like "Lust in the Dust" with Lainie Kazan and Tab Hunter. Divine also had a strenuous singing/touring career as a disco queen, and had some pretty big hit songs like "I'm So Beautiful" and "You Think You're a Man". She was no ordinary drag queen, Divine was a drag terrorist. She sent the best of them running (in six inch heels), screaming for their lives. Even though it was her trademark, it was also her downfall... excessive weight. Divine had been overweight for most of his life and began to have some difficulty breathing and soon developed sleep apnea. When Divine (who was well known for his punctuality) didn't show up for work one morning (when I say "work" I mean that Divine failed to show up for the first taping of the show "Married with Children" with him starring in it as a regular guest character), I think most everybody's heart began to sink. Divine was dead, but far from gone. Thankfully, his amazing talent was all caught on film and he left us with some of the most bizarre, hilarious, outrageousness ever seen. She was bold, she was beautiful, she was... Divine. As a humorous footnote to the story, when the "Married with Children" show sent flowers to Divine's funeral, the card read "If you didn't want the job, all you had to do was say so".
Monday, November 19, 2007
Siouxsie and the Banshees were a punk/goth band that formed in the late 70's. The lead singer Siouxsie Sioux (Susan Ballion) formed Siouxsie and the Banshees with Steven Severin and Budgie. It was a rough start, but by the early 80's some hits began to come out. With each album, Siouxsie and the Banshees got bigger and bigger and racked up more and more hits, with each album becoming more successful and popular than the last. They weren't quite as mainstream as their counterband, The Cure. But instead kept their own style and were rather original. Siouxsie, with her wild hair and severe makeup, became an 80's signature band. From albums like "Kaleidoscope"," "Ju Ju" and "Tinderbox" came some even bigger hits like "Happy House, ","Spellbound" and "Cities in Dust". In the late 80's, Siouxsie and the Banshees produced an album called "Peepshow" featuring the hit song "Peek-a-boo", which quickly rose to the top of the charts and reached #1 in Europe. In the early 90's, Siouxsie and the Banshees changed their image a little. Siouxsie's makeup and hairstyle had been tamed quite a bit and for once we saw how beautiful she actually was. Their new album "Superstition" was much tamer than previous albums, but still another great success, with it's #1 hit "Kiss them for me" (a ballad to Jayne Mansfield). The band was bigger than ever and was asked to be one of the performing bands at the first Loolopalooza Festival along with bands like "Living Color", The Jesus and Mary Chain" and "Jane's Addiction". When the movie "Batman Returns" was being made, Siouxsie was approached to play the part of Catwoman. She declined stating that she was a singer, not an actress. Instead she composed the movies theme song "Face to Face" and the part went to Michelle Pfeifer. This was to be their last big hit and sadly, their follow-up album "The Rapture" failed to deliver any hits and by now, the band was getting kind of old and facing extinction. Siouxsie and the Banshees called it quits after over 20 years on the billboard charts. Siouxsie married the bands drummer Budgie and started a new band called The Creatures. Not much success there, due to the constant comparison to the Banshees. In 2003, the band reunited for a filmed concert called "The Seven Year Itch" in which despite of the amazing performance that it was, it was quite apparent that Siouxsie was losing her voice. High notes in songs became flat and painfully low baritone. It would appear that this was the end of the story of Siouxsie Sioux and her Banshees. Then a surprise. Siouxsie (alone, no Banshees or Creatures) has a new album coming out November of 2007 called "Mantaray". I'm not sure if she regained her voice or it's just some studio magic, but she looks and sounds great. A new video has been released for a song called "Into a Swan", with Siouxsie looking her gothic best. Sure, she's a little older, but as they say.. "Like fine wine". Welcome back Siouxsie!! We missed you!!
Sunday, November 18, 2007
This movie probably has the largest cult following of all time. Most Cult Fiends know it word for word (it would make for some interesting karaoke). This is another film that was made on a shoestring budget and not expected to be an Oscar winner, but instead this movie has very much become art in itself and still delivers a frightening punch that is truly scary and still very effective. I have an admitted obsession with "living dead" movies. I'm not sure why, I guess it's because of having been in mortuary school and worked in funeral homes, I just find the subject to be most disturbing, terrifying, effective... and wonderful! Anyway, this is also another movie to be recently colorized by Off Color Film, very interesting. Ok, so Johnny and Barbara are at the cemetery putting a wreath on their dead fathers grave. In a joking manner, Johnny teases his sister saying "Their coming to get you Barbara." "look, there comes one of them now". Barbara notices the man coming and wants to apologize but instead he attacks her. She nearly gets away with her life which is more than I can say for her brother. She holes up in an old farmhouse (the owner is a meat salad at the top of the stairs) with a man who manages to get to the house just as his truck runs out of gas. He tells her about other attacks going on outside, she slowly loses it and becomes either hysterical or mute during the rest of the movie. Soon we learn that there are people hiding in the basement. A young local couple and an obnoxious man and his barely tolerant wife. Their kid is downstairs and sick by having been bitten by one of those "things". One gripping aspect to this movie is the dynamics between all the people in the house. Had they got along and helped each other, they might have made it through the night, but instead, they all pulled in different directions and eventually everybody got it soon or later. The other dynamic being the "show no emotion" factor. "How can I shoot my daughter, even though she's trying to eat me?" Nerves are shattered now and then by really creepy corpses banging their way through the windows and doors. This film was the beginning careers of two of the most respected people in the movie industry... George Romero and Tom Savini. George Romero went on to have a huge directing career and Tom Savini is one of the largest names in the special effects department for more movies than I can count. Night of the living dead has spawned three additional sequels, had tons of copycats made, a remake by Tom Savini in the early 90's. Who better to do a remake, right?. Most remakes are really bad, but I can honestly say that it really wasn't bad and stuck to the original script and had an interesting new twist ending. This is as classic as they come. A must for any Cult fanatic!
This is another one of those movies that had huge expectations that couldn't possibly have been met. They chose one of the biggest and most popular models of the time (late 70's) the incomparably beautiful Margaux Hemingway (Ernest's granddaughter) to be the lead character. Margaux, who was never really shy about taking on challenges, was offered a chance at acting and even though she hadn't taken even one acting lesson in her life, she jumped at the chance to be in a film. The producers figured that her incredible looks were enough to carry a movie, but just in case, they hired veteran superstar Anne Bancroft and newcomer Chris Sarandon. Margaux's little sister Mariel even got a part in the movie as what else, Margaux's little sister. Margaux hemingway plays a model (I guess they thought that putting her in her own environment would enhance her acting performance) named Chris McCormick who is introduced to her little sisters school music teacher (Chris Sarandon). Apparently, it was common to have music playing in the background of modeling sessions and this teacher thinks he can maybe use Chris as a way to get his music out there. One day he comes to her apartment to let her listen to his music and it sucks (irritating no-beat techno mixed with whale song). It's obvious that she doesn't like it and being a model, she's very busy and usually in a hurry. The music teacher then violently rapes her (very realistic and hard to watch), trashes her apartment and leaves. He's soon caught and it goes to trial, but he insists that Chris wanted him to do this to her in some sadomasochistic fashion. The court (for some unknown asinine reason) finds him innocent (despite a great performance by Anne Bancroft as Chris McCormicks attorney). He walks free and now the totally defamed Chris is hemorrhaging modeling contracts at an incredible rate. Due to her severe trauma, she can't even concentrate on the few modeling jobs that she has left. Anyway, soon afterwards, Chris has a modeling session to do and her little sister Cathy goes with her. The actual modeling session proves pretty boring for little Cathy so she goes roaming around the large building that the session is being held. She stumbles upon Mr. Stuart (her music teacher that raped her sister) who is there giving a musical presentation of his work mixed with lasers and dancers (underage students that are mostly Cathy's friends since they were all in the same music class). He lures Cathy into a dark area and makes some very inappropriate advances on her. She runs, he catches up with her and rapes her as well. Cathy stumbles beaten and half clothed back to her sisters modeling session and when Chris sees this she flips. She grabs a shotgun from her jeep and runs to find Mr Stuart (all in a beautiful red beaded fabulous couture that's to die for) and proceeds to blast off ever appendage he has. With a final shot to the crotch, her rage is begins to fade. She's handcuffed and carted off to jail for his murder. The one minute epilogue is a shot of Chris back in court being acquitted for his murder. I bought this film because I'm very much in love with Margaux Hemingway (even though she died in the early 90's). At first this film really pissed me off, because it was as though Chris McCormick just couldn't win, even when the odds were totally in her favor. In fact, the producers and directors were trying to get the topic of unreported rapes out there so the public could walk away with renewed courage to report sex crimes, but ultimately this just left me pissed off. Poor Margaux got terrible reviews, and her sister Mariel seemed to steal the show with an unknown knack for acting and went on to have a pretty lucrative career.
This a very in your face documentary on the topic of sex changes and transgenderism. And I mean that truly, it literally takes you from start to finish, into the nether regions that not so many of us wanted to see or know about (I can't say "all of us" because there's something for everyone). It was made in 1978, not long after Christine Jourganson went public with her successful new life as a post operative transgender, male to female. She pulled it off (no pun intended) rather well, appearing very feminine with little to no masculine reminders of her previous gender. Sex changes began to emerge in different forms, pre-op, post-op, half-op, hormone treatments, plastic surgery, etc, etc. This documentary explores them all... at a range, so close you can almost smell it (I'm so sorry, don't worry God'll get me for that) We're shown, the ins and out, the missing and the added, all narrated by a doctor that noticeable flinches every time he mentions the words "cut off". We're even shown demonstrations of sex with transgender people that are very unexpectedly pornographic, but are still being narrated like a documentary (...and here we see the North American Humanus Pervertis in their natural habitat). There is also a Puerto Rican transexual that does a lot of the narration, who is actually very attractive and intelligent and tells of her difficult life growing up transgender in a poor and intolerable society. The rest of the people (all transgender) in this documentary seemed like they were reading from a cue card or something. Their dialogue seems very scripted and wooden, and they all appeared to be "attempting" to act. Probably because they were transexuals and not actors (oh don't worry, they are proven without a shadow of a doubt to be transexuals). It's very campy, mostly due to it's age, and I'm quite sure that today we've come a long way in surgical advancement when it comes to fine tuning a medical procedure like a sex change, since this was filmed. But whether you're genuinely interested in the subject or just desire 87 minutes of sheer weirdness, this Bud's for you. Definitely not for the squeamish, weak of stomach (or worse... homophobic).
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
This movie is particularly creepy, mostly because the evil villain in this film takes the form of innocent looking children. The movie begins when the small town of Midwich (I love the title of the book this movie was made from... "The Midwich Cuckoos") falls under some sort of blackout. People as well as animals are all in a mysterious coma. Anyone that goes in, instantly falls down unconscious. Scientist and military surround the town. After a few hours, the coma lifts and is never explained. Shortly afterwards, the women of Midwich are all discovering that they are pregnant and that the date of conception goes back to the day of the mysterious blackout. From the beginning, the pregnancies are strange. For one thing, one of the women was a virgin when she got pregnant. Since this phenomenon hasn't gone unnoticed my the military, they set up shop in town to monitor these bizarre events. The babies are all born on the same day (fully developed after only 5 months) and all have very similar characteristics, almost as if they were siblings from the same set of parents. They have white hair (some really cheap looking wigs), elongated fingers and strange eyes. They also grow very quickly and are extraordinarily smart. They also seem to be telepathic amongst each other and if one child learns something, the others immediately know it as well. By the age of three, they have the appearance of children about ten years old and have strong enough minds to read anyones thoughts and can force people to do their will. The military eventually learns that other "blackout children" have been born in other locations around the world. Determined to discover the source behind this phenomenon, military and scientists disregard the children's growing powers. A cheap but effective camera trick is used when the children stare and control other people. The film negative was flipped over just the eyes of the children, making them appear to glow a bright white (or bright blue, if you like the colorized version). When it's learned that the other cities with "blackout children" have been destroyed the children want to disperse and likely "grow" others like themselves. They must be stopped!! It's gonna take a suicide bomber for this job!! Very creepy mindfreak of a movie. "We know what you're thinking." This movie spawned a weak sequel called "Children of the Damned" and was remade in the early 90's and was coincidentally Christopher Reeves last film before his accident.
This is one of H.G. Lewis' better movies. The acting is slightly better (but still pretty bad). The jokes are actually funny and the characters have more depth than most of his other movies. This is my personal favorite among H.G. Lewis' films because of the incredible amount of humor poured into it. Go-Go Girls are being mutilated all over town, one gets her face smashed into a vanity mirror, one gets her butt pulverized with a meat tenderizer (a very effective use of red jello, I might add) , y'know the usual. An overzealous reporter seeks out one of the snarkiest and most sarcastic detectives of all time to help her solve the case of the Go-Go Girl killer. This film gives a whole new meaning to "Live Nude Girls"! After all, they're a lot more fun than all those dead nude girls that permeate this movie. Watch for the cheesy striptease contest where even the reporter gets into the act (after downing quite a few cocktails, that is). Great fun! Keep an eye out (no pun intended) for a special appearance by Henny Youngman.
This is the third (but not quite final) installment in the H.G. Lewis "Blood Trilogy". Color Me Blood Red has a tamer story than most of his other films, but with a much more interesting idea. A frustrated artist is obsessed with finding the right shade of red. He tries many mediums but none of them quite have the perfect red that he's been seeking as the one element that will make his artwork into a true masterpiece. One day he accidentally cuts himself and notices how beautifully red his blood is. He smears the blood on a canvas and finally finds what he's been looking for. He starts cutting himself repeatedly to obtain more of that beautiful blood red. After a short time, he notices that he can no longer use his own blood, as there isn't enough of it and you can only cut yourself so many times before it becomes an issue. By now his paintings are actually starting to sell, but unfortunately he no longer has a healthy blood supply to satisfy the ever growing demand for his new and wonderful artwork. So he starts luring vapid and unassuming models to his home for some bloodletting ...oops sorry, I meant modeling. His artwork, with it's brilliant use of the color red, are now greatly sought after (which confuses me, because blood turns brown when it dries, doesn't it?) Strangely, the whole movie is framed in an "Annette Funicello beach party type" setting, with beach girls dancing and water sports, which is a odd yet interesting contrast to the goriness of the plot. An interesting note, is that when these movies were finally released on DVD, the producers enhanced the color of all the blood seen in the movie, so it's really really red and has a striking contrast to the rest of the movie color. My television can barely handle the enhanced red blood, but it's a great idea to go with since all H.G. Lewis' movies are filled with lots and lots of blood. Great fun!
I don't usually incorporate people into the cult phenomenon, but there's no denying that some people throughout history have a huge cult following. One of the biggest and certainly one of the most beautiful is the lovely lovely Ms. Bettie Page. Bettie was born in Nashville Tennessee into a poor and abusive household. She left Tennessee for the bright lights of New York with hopes and dreams of becoming a great actress. She won a few beauty contests, but unfortunately fame as an actress eluded her. While walking on the beach one day, she was spotted by an off duty police officer named Jerry Tibbs with a hobby in photography. After doing some modeling for him, they became friends. He also suggested that she change her hairstyle by adding bangs. This style would become her lifelong trademark. Soon she began modeling for local camera clubs and was eventually introduced to Irving Klaw and his sister Paula. The Klaws ran a very successful photography and modeling operation that produced celebrity photographs as well as their own photos using hired models. The Klaws also specialized in a new form of fantasy photography including various forms of bondage. As risque' as this was at that time (mid 50's) Bettie seemed unconcerned and was quite comfortable with this form of modeling. Because of these photos, Bettie began to gain some attention in the modeling world as somewhat of a dominatrix. This couldn't have been farther from the truth. After all, it was just modeling and it was all pretend. To quote Bettie herself "I've never whipped anyone in my life!" Paula did the tying up and always made sure that the ropes were loose and comfortable. In the 1950's, bondage was still seen as a taboo and soon Irving and Paula Klaw were facing some distribution difficulties. Bettie loved the beach and when things got a little hectic in New York, she would always return to her beloved Florida. While there, she met another photographer named Bunny Yeager who was a rising star in photography side of the modeling world. From this union came some of the most famous of Bettie Page photos. She even made the prestigious centerfold of Playboy, a magazine that was very new and very classy. Bettie was the second Playboy model ever (Marilyn Monroe was the first). Although Bettie gained much notoriety for her cheesecake, burlesque and bondage shots, fame (as an actress) and fortune continued to elude her. After a few close calls with stalkers and the lost enthusiasm from the continuation of non-profit modeling. Bettie Page called it quits and disappeared... literally. No one really knew what happened to the missing pin-up queen. Rumors were that she had committed suicide, was rubbed out by the mob, etc. etc. The truth was far less shocking. Bettie had moved to Florida permanently and tried marriage and family (children from her husbands previous marriage, Bettie never had any children of her own). She also gave her life over to God and became a Christian Missionary for many years. She didn't just keep a low profile, she quite literally had disappeared entirely from the public eye. For years and years, no one knew what had become of Ms. Bettie Page. And although she had vanished, her pictures had not. Unbeknownst to Bettie, a huge cult following was evolving around her. Her pictures became more and more popular and her fame continued to grow at a rapid pace. Paintings, post cards, calendars, statues... soon Ms. Page was everywhere and more adored than any model in history.. After decades of seclusion, Bettie was finally located by the show "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous". She lives in an undisclosed location in California with her brother Jimmie. When she was rediscovered, Bettie had absolutely no idea that she had become so famous and was actually quite shocked. She's 84 years old now and prefers to stay out of the public eye, wanting only to remain the young beautiful woman she left on film so many years ago.
Dear Cult fans, It's with deep sorrow that I bring some terribly sad news. The eternally beautiful Ms. Bettie Page has passed away. About nine days ago, Ms. Page suffered a heart attack and was hospitalized. She never regained consciousness and was taken off life support at 6:41 EST Thursday December 11th, 2008. A private ceremony will be held this Tuesday, December 16th, 2008 at an undisclosed location. She will be laid to rest in Westwood Memorial Park in Los Angeles. Anyone who took the time to get to know the real Bettie Page (beyond their own masturbatory fantasies) knew that she was as beautiful on the inside as she was on the outside. A beautiful soul through and through, she will be deeply missed by so very many. On a lighter note, we all know how religious Bettie was and I find great comfort in knowing that she finally gets to meet Him. On a personal note... I love you Bettie, rest in peace, beautiful.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
First of all, I was shocked to actually find an H.G. Lewis film that had no gore or even a horror overtone. With this in mind, I really didn't know what to expect. Basically we have an all girl biker gang called the "Maneaters" that act like they have more testosterone than Mike Tyson. The mostly female cast seems to have had some trouble acting butch enough for this film, because it comes out so forced and scripted (which is terribly funny to watch these over-actresses at work, they so aren't feelin' it). Despite their incredibly lesbian qualities and overtones, they race motorcycles to see who gets the privilege of picking a "useful stud" from a lineup of men from who knows where, (that's never really explained). They sometimes make references to "roping in a Philly" but it never really happens. This is quite a change from anything H.G. Lewis had done before. When She Devils was made, it was right when he was making his gore movies. He may have just been trying to make some money and sexy biker chick movies were very popular at the time. Even though there's no gore (except maybe a small decapitation scene near the end) H.G. Lewis fans will still enjoy the atmosphere, the absurdity of it all, and the cheap crap that H.G. Lewis was all about. A funny tidbit about this movie that still makes me laugh... after every intense scene, there's a painting of a colorful she devil biker that spins around and around making one almost sick, but hey, H.G. thought this was cool, and maybe it was for the time, but it's camp value today is priceless.
Although the title implies that this is a sequel to Valley of the Dolls, but it really isn't. A sequel was in fact written for "Valley" but was rejected. Legendary breast mogul and 60's movie producer/director Russ Meyer got his hands on the opportunity to direct a sequel-esque film that had many of the same elements of the original. So the movie was made, but not without a disclaimer at the beginning stating that this is NOT a sequel to "Valley" and is a completely separate film entirely. It has basically the same elements as the original... sex, drugs and fame. Three young women (and a wimpy manager that's the lead singers boyfriend) in an all girl band called "The Kelly Experience" set out for New York and all the seedy elements therein. They soon gain fame when they are introduced to "Z-man" Barzell, a more than eccentric record producer that constantly talks like Shakespeare. Soon Z-man replaces their former manager and renames the band "The Carrie Nations". Former manager/boyfriend is left in the dust and attempts suicide on national television while the band is appearing on a talk show. This movie is without a doubt, the Queen of Camp. Freaks, Kooks, Swingers, Fruits, and every other 60's cliche' in the book. More colorful than an LSD trip, with an ending that is nothing short of bizarre. "This my happening and it freaks me out!!!
Duane Bradley is a meek and somewhat odd individual who carries a basket around with him wherever he goes. What's in the basket? Well, it grunts and groans, eats hamburgers and hot dogs, and has a sort of telepathy with Duane. Duane and his basket have rented a room at a seedy motel and has "as yet unknown" reasons to seek out two particular doctors. We soon learn that Bradley was born with a severe deformity where a not quite developed conjoined twin is attached to the left side of his body. They name it Belial (ironically after one of the fallen angels) and call in the docs to remove it. Duane and Belial are actually upset that they are going to be separated, especially since Belial is not much more than a blob of flesh with arms, eyes and a drooly mouth. Anyway, when Duane finally has the means, he tries to locate the doctors that separated him from his mutant twin and wants them to reattach what should never have been removed in the first place. They're not entirely successful and Belial escapes, leaving an obvious and convenient opening to the sequel. This has way more comedy than horror and I'm sure many people have trouble putting it in just one of those categories. It's a great film, lots of fun and has some really cheesy special effects, leaving us with the knowledge that this was a shoestring budget film that actually made some unexpected profits, spawning two sequels. In an eerie coincidence, this idea is based on an actual condition known as a "fetus in fetu", where during the development of twins in the womb, one fetus is stronger than the other and develops around the weaker fetus, essentially consuming it. Later in life, the weak inner fetus begins to develop much like a tumor and are often discovered due to the assumption that a tumor is all it is. Then surprise, the tumor has arms, legs, hair, fingernails, etc. If left untreated, this parasitic twin starts to develop outside of the host twins body, leaving a person with legs and arms growing out of their abdomen. Unlike the movie, 99.9999% of all parasitic twins are born with little or no brain at all.
This is the second installment of H.G. Lewis' "Blood Trilogy". It attempts to outplot and outgore it's predecessor "Blood Feast". A small town is celebrating the 100th year anniversary of the Civil War. To celebrate, the townsfolk trap people by putting detour signs along the main road, to lead hapless victims to their quaint little town of terror. They then kill these people in odd and tortuous ways (all of which are totally hilarious to this town of weirdos). A woman gets crushed by a boulder in a dunking booth type contraption. A man is rolled downhill in a barrel lined with nails. It's all in good fun though, and later there will be a huge feast... on a beautiful blonde. Apparently blondes are a delicacy in the south. Some of the trapped "tourists" manage to figure out what's going on (which is a pretty hard concept to grasp, considering how incredibly nice everyone is) and try to get the hell out of there. Almost all of H.G. Lewis' movies are pretty gory and disturbing, but with a tinge of humor to the whole thing. The humor in "Blood Feast" seemed very accidental. Maybe H.G. recognized this and went with it, because it shows more and more with each movie he made thereafter. Intentional humor is certainly abound in this sick little flick.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Valley of the Dolls was initially expected to be a top box office smash. It had some some decently big names like, Susan Hayward and Patti Duke, as well as newcomers Sharon Tate and Barbara Parkins. Built from Jacqueline Susann's fantastic novel, it centers around three young girls, who among the bright lights of fame, tumble and fall many times. Jacqueline Susann had a trio of elements present in most of her novels... drugs, sex and fame. Anne Welles is an elegant lady who leaves her home town for the excitement of New York and gets a job as a secretary for a law firm gauged for entertainers. A client comes in one day, spots her beauty and signs her to a modeling agency and Anne is instantly thrust into the role of Supermodel. Neely O'Hara is the little kid from nowheresville that comes along and blows Broadway right out it's socks with her incredible talent. Jennifer North is a beauty queen with a body to die for, but alas... she is totally devoid of any talent and soon learns that having a body is all you really need... as long as we get to see your body, every inch of it. All these women are friends and go through some pretty vicious ups and downs. Thank God, there are those wonderful "dolls" (pills) that wake you up, put you to sleep, ease the pain and make life a lot better, at least temporarily. This movie was made in the latter 60's and it by all means dates itself. It's incredibly campy and colorful. This movie has tons of great trivia about it. For example, the premiere of the movie took place on a ship, during a cruise. Jacqueline Susann hated the movie. Soon after it's release, Sharon Tate was murdered by the Manson Family. Judy Garland was originally signed to the role of Helen Lawson (very appropriate casting, she pretty much WAS the character Helen Lawson (played by Susan Hayward) but left the project, due to a multitude of reasons. Judy had a drug problem, she was becoming harder and harder to deal with and would often be late or intoxicated on the set. The producers on "Valley" were becoming as displeased with her as she was with them and a mutual dismissal was agreed upon. She soon then after went on tour and did in fact take much of the wardrobe with her and was spotted during concerts wearing many of the same outfits that had to be remade for Susan Hayward.