Sunday, May 18, 2008

Mother's Day

Mother's Day probably has the most ironic title of any movie ever made. Instead of just slapping a corsage on her chest and letting her order whatever she wants at the local pancake house, Ike and Addley have a special way of showing their motherly affections with rape, murder, and torture. All under her strict guidance of course. The brothers are your typical Deliverance/Texas Chainsaw Massacre dimwits that only know what Mommy has taught them and what they see on TV. Speaking of TV, another irony in this film is that a cheap yet very disturbing movie such as this one makes a quite real and truthful statement regarding the influence of violence in movies and television. Anyway, the story is rather simple, yet still quite effective and goes as such... Three woman form a close bond in college and decide to get together for a ten year reunion. To celebrate, they go camping (?). The two brothers ambush them, bring them to their dilapidated house containing the Charles Manson of all mothers. All three girls are tortured under the strict teachings of their deranged mother (y'know like weight loss exercises). These teaching sessions are weirder than weird. First she gets the sons to make one of the girls sit on a bench and act like she's reading a book so that they can be taught how to properly attack a woman in a park. Then they make her dress up like a little girl so that one of the sons can be trained to attack and violently rape her. This torture is intended for all three girls, but after the first one dies from their violent training exercises, the other two escape, gear up like Rambo and extract their revenge. They manage to kill the brothers and suffocate mom with a pair of inflatable tits. The end. A side story that never really made any sense to me is that the mother often refers to "Queenie" who is supposedly mom's twin that was born deformed and covered with hair, but is still alive, living in the surrounding woods. After the girls kill their captors and escape, they are attacked by the elusive Queenie, who clearly looks like a man covered in moss or something. Made in 1980, this film has some very interesting trivia to it. First of all, it was being filmed on the other side of the lake at the same time that the original "Friday the 13th" movie was being made. They expected Mother's Day to achieve a better success than Friday the 13th due to it's being much more graphic.... they were wrong. Also, the house that was used for the main part of the film had been vacant for about 15 years. When the film makers decided to use it, they discovered the dead body of the owner of the house inside, having been murdered. Even more gruesome is that the body was actually used as a prop in the making of the film!!!! Hey, you gotta save as much money as you can when making a cheap 80's slasher film. There just wasn't much room in the budget for props, I guess. This movie was is every video store when I was young, but finding it these days is a little difficult, but well worth the effort.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Spider Baby

This is a great cult classic from the late 60's that has been on a steady rise to fame over the past few years, mostly due to a decently clear print of the original 16 mm transfer being released on DVD about four years ago. It's a great campy little flick that is pretty evenly split into half comedy and half horror. The legendary Lon Chaney Jr. plays chauffeur to a family of inbred weirdos called the Merrye Family. The movie begins with an introduction by a family member from the non-inbred half of this clan, telling us about a disease. A disease so rare that it only affects the members of one family, the Merrye Family. The story then jumps back a few years when an innocent postal delivery man gets hacked to pieces by a teenage looking girl that thinks she's a spider and that this here mailman is a nice juicy fly. None of this really bothers their caretaker, the families chauffeur Bruno (Chaney), he cleans the mess and carries on with his daily duties. It appears that there is just Bruno, Virginia (spidergirl), Elisabeth (a boring extra) and Ralph (a young and rather disturbing Sid Haig). All have a disease brought on by massive inbreeding that causes them to slowly degenerate into childlike and even cannibalistic behavior. There seem to be some missing relatives that aren't necessarily accounted for... yet. Anyway, a couple of greedy members of the non-inbred side of the family have come to run them out of the rather large house they live in and sell it for their own greedy gain. To make them even more irritating, they've brought their own lawyer with them. They barge in and start giving orders and demanding to stay in the house. Well, this doesn't sit well with the three retards that Bruno is caring for, so they start killing off their stuck-up family. Virginia (played by Jill Banner, an actually quite beautiful actress that was dating Marlon Brando when she was accidentally killed in a car crash a few years after this movie) is the scene stealer in this film. She not only acts like a spider, she also has pet spiders, eats spiders, and likes to throw nets on people, calling them beautiful bugs and then eating them. Which ironically leads to the original title of this film... "Cannibal Orgy". I wonder what Lon thought of that title. Soon we learn that the missing "Dad" (I must use quotes for this family because with inbreeding, you never really know who's who) is a corpse in one of the upstairs bedrooms and the rest of the fam are in the cellar (a creepy bunch of googly eyed, hairy faced nuts). More people are sure to come looking when they discover the others missing, so Bruno decides to end this chaos here and now. He lights up some dynamite and blows himself and the Merrye Family to bits. Jump forward again to the dork reading the book that apparently catalogues this incest disease that has plagued the "other" side of his family. In walks his "weird from the get go" daughter. She looks like one of the Children of the Corn, so immediately you know that something's up. She asks to go play outside and is instantly entranced by a tree spider. I guess the moral of the story is that if you are descended from a completely inbred family, you're gonna hit a few bumps down the road when having kids.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Black Lodge

Black Lodge is a video store in Memphis T.N. The most blood drenched slasher flicks to the most obscure foreign films have found a home at The Black Lodge Video in Memphis. "I have a love of film," said Bryan Hogue, co-owner of Black Lodge with his partner Matt Martin. "I consider myself a film archivist in a way. This is a film library." They met when they were both grocery baggers at Seesel's, according to Hogue. "Horror was our main thing when we were growing up," Hogue said. "It's kind of how we got to know each other." Black Lodge opened its doors in October of 2000 with about 6,000 videos, according to Hogue. "We wanted our hobby to pay for itself," Hogue said. "We knew that we could do it well." Black Lodge has grown significantly over the past few years. Now they have a collection of over 10,000 videos and 4,200 DVDs. "We had a big collection, and we started building on it," Martin said. "Then we said, 'let's just open the doors and see what happens.' At first. we didn't know if we would survive or not, then it just blew up." The inspiration for Black Lodge came from the duo working at similar video stores in Colombia, Mo., where they attended college. They realized that there was not a video store like theirs in the area."It made sense to put up some boards on the wall and see if anyone was interested," Martin said. "The heart of it is that I love people to be able to get access to films. I like to think that people find a place for themselves here, some way for people to make their lives more enjoyable." The name for the store came from Twin Peaks, a TV show created by David Lynch."In the show, there were two spiritual places, the black lodge and the white lodge," Hogue said. "The black lodge was where all the evil spirits were." There has been a certain amount of mythology that has shrouded the store in mystery to outsiders, according to Martin. "I think it's the tattoos," Martin said. "People need something to believe in even if it's creepy and weird."Martin and Hogue, along with many other people over the years, have gotten tattoos of the Black Lodge owl on various parts of their bodies. "Almost every single part of the human anatomy has been tattooed with the Black Lodge owl," Martin said. "For years we've had people come in here thinking that we do all kinds of things.People have thought that they were in a secret society, a cult and that they killed people for not returning movies, according to Martin. Martin and Hogue are the only people who work at Black Lodge for money. The rest of the people are more like an extended family of volunteers, according to Hogue. "We've had a lot of friends come in. They pretty much work for rentals and hang out space," Hogue said. "We prefer that to hiring strangers off of the street. If you have your friends working with you, it's more pleasant than strangers." Working with friends and fostering a family atmosphere does have its down side, according to Martin. "It's more like a Manson family atmosphere," Martin said. "There is constantly in-fighting, but for the most part, it feels like home." The love of film and of Black Lodge has infected more than just its owners though. "This is the most awesome collection I've seen in my life," said Bernard "BJ" Rule, who has been volunteering at the store since 2000. "I take a lot of pride in being here." The volunteers help in all aspects of the store and do a lot to keep everything running smoothly, according to Martin. "It's a great place to watch great movies," said Mike Degnan, who has been involved with Black Lodge since 2001. "It's one of the most innovative and unique businesses in the region that works." Black Lodge also provides a venue for people who are tired of dealing with major video rental chains, according to Degnan. "What are you waiting for? Blockbuster is a joke, and Hollywood video isn't much better," Degnan said. "You've got no excuse not to come here unless you're looking for kids' movies." Black Lodge's vast collection is a great place to get a self-education in film history, according to Degnan. Area film professors also use the store to help educate their students. "Just about every film class, no matter what school, comes to us. The teachers have found us, and they know that we've got what they need," Hogue said. "If someone assigns a paper that movie is always out by the end of the day." Aside from being an archive of sorts and serving the community's film students, Black Lodge has to compete with larger chain video stores and the Internet. "It all has to do with the future of the film industry itself. We'll probably always stick around as a type of vintage shop," Martin said. "The high times for all of this is now, but we'll always have a place to hang out and do our thing." The Black Lodge emerged at an exciting time in Memphis film when Craig Brewer and John Michael McCarthy were first making a name for themselves in the film industry, according to Martin. Black Lodge was even given exclusive rights to Brewer's first film, "The Poor and the Hungry." "There are still things that have gone under our radar. We're still constantly learning ourselves," Hogue said. Speaking for myself, this is the biggest treasure trove I've ever come across. As a lover of old cult films, I nearly fainted when I entered this store for the first time. I've lived in some pretty diverse cities and never in a million years, thought I would come across Heaven on Earth, here in Tennessee. This isn't just any old video store, it's a well stocked cinematic library of global proportions.