Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Beyond the Darkness



This is another of those little italian horror flicks that director Joe D'Amato came out with that were very cheap to make, are extremely hard to find these days and was categorized as a "video nasty". Video Nasties were usually films that could not be rated (if so, they would have gotten an X rating which would have given it an incredibly limited release) and were usually pretty gory. For the most part, his films had a very good plot that was poorly executed with bad acting, not enough action, boring dialogue (made all the worse by the terrible english voice dubbing) and not enough gore. Thankfully, Buried Alive was re-released on DVD a few years ago under the new title "Beyond the Darkness", (which makes it a little easier to acquire, but harder to identify due to the title being changed). I've seen the VHS version and I can say for certain that the DVD release has acquired a bit more footage that wasn't on the VHS version. These extras made this film ten times better. Apparently, several minutes of gore footage was removed and then replaced for the DVD version. Well worth seeking out, now on with the story. Frank is a weird little guy who's hobby is taxidermy, who's parents have recently died, a housekeeper named Iris (who is madly in love with Frank) and his beautiful girlfriend Anna. Iris is extremely jealous of Anna, so she has a Voodoo priestess stick some pins in a doll and kill Anna with a curse, so that she can have Frank all to herself. Anna dies, Frank is deeply grieving and only has Iris to comfort him. He decides that this is not enough (did I mention that Iris looks like a horse?) so after the funeral he digs up Anna, with intentions of using his taxidermy skills to keep her near (and not smelling too bad). Unbeknownst to Frank, Anna's twin sister Elena has arrived in town to pay her respects (obviously played by the same actress). On the way home from the cemetery with Anna's body in the back seat, Frank picks up a pothead hitchhiker. The female hitchhiker gets real stoned and takes a nap in the truck. Frank brings Anna's body into his "house of horrors" taxidermy studio and proceeds with prepping her for the keep. First he pulls out all her guts (deliciously disgusting) and replaces her eyes with glass replicas. He kisses her, tongues her, and when he can't hold his passions back any more he pulls her heart out and eats it (yum, that formaldehyde goodness). The pothead hitchhiker comes out of her stupor long enough to catch Frank embalming his girlfriend. She runs, he chases her, she trips over a bucket of guts, he holds her down and proceeds to pull off her fingernails one by one with a set of pliers, then strangles her. Being the ever dutiful keeper of pretty much everything, Iris helps him hack up the body and dissolve it in a bathtub full of acid. Frank puts Anna's body in bed and leaves her there. With the fake eyes Anna looks like she has drank about 17 pots of coffee, so lying in bed looks even more ridiculous. Bored one day, Frank goes jogging and befriends a young female jogger who has just sprained her ankle. He convinces her to come back to his place where he can tend to her ankle. She comes onto him and he fucks her in the same bed that Anna is lying in. Eventually the smell reaches her, she discovers the body and freaks out. She doesn't get far before Frank catches up with her and bites a chunk of flesh out of her neck. While she lays there dying, Frank really enjoys chewing on the hunk of neck while watching the female jogger die. Dutiful Iris helps Frank dispose of the body in the incinerator. Why they didn't do that with the hitchhiker is beyond me, it just seems that an incinerator would be much less messy than a tub of dissolved guts would be, but I digress. For some reason Frank allows Iris to convince him that marrying her is the way to go. He must have at least some interest because he sure sucks on her tits a lot. Some detective comes snooping around with questions about Anna's grave being desecrated. Iris comes out from under her hangover from the previous night's wedding festivities and finds the detective looking around, so she stashes Anna in the closet. The detective eventually opens the closet, Anna's body falls out, and for some reason the detective doesn't look very surprised and whips out his camera to take pictures of Anna's corpse. Meanwhile, Anna's sister Elena shows up at Frank's house because she knows that he was Anna's boyfriend. Elena hears her sisters voice and the lights go out (either Anna's ghost calling or Iris is throwing her voice to trap the sister. I'm not sure which). Elena sees her sister sitting in a chair, so she goes over to her and Iris comes out of the darkness with a knife and intentions on killing Elena (for obvious reasons). Frank sees Iris about to stab Elena and attacks her, Iris stabs him, he grabs the knife and kills her. The detective returns and sees that Iris is dead, he goes to the basement and catches Frank burning something in the incinerator. The detective shoots and kills Frank when he sees that there are human body parts in the incinerator. He also sees a body on the table. Since they are twins, we don't know which sis was cremated but we are lead to believe that was Elena, probably to get rid of her body in the same manner as all the other victims. The movie ends when at the mortuary,when "her" coffin is about to be nailed shut and Elena pops out alive. Apparently Frank had cremated Anna. I guess since Elena (a live version of Anna) has come along, he decided that he no longer needed Anna's corpse. Of course no one knows this but Frank who is now dead, leaving poor Elena to almost be buried alive (hence the title). Sounds fascinating doesn't it?!?! For some reason, it's not. You have to watch it a couple of times to be able to completely understand what has happened, but very few people have enough patience to do that. Once you get it, it ain't so bad.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Rabid Grannies


Two eccentric old aunts are having a birthday party. All the party guests are family members that are just after the old bat's money and intend to use the birthday party to both make themselves look better as well as making each other look as bad as possible. The oddball family ensemble consists of a bumbling cowardly priest, a married couple with obnoxious kids, a fat cousin with a very young stripper wife, a female cousin with her lesbian girlfriend, a horny dipstick in a Trans Am and a frigid old cousin that is so conservative she makes Mother Theresa look like a 2 dollar whore. As the aunts start receiving their birthday gifts, a knock at the door sounds the arrival of someone else. The cook's helper answers then the door and there stands a gothic looking grandma with a gift sent by the black sheep of the family, a nephew that was banned from the family and written out of the will for becoming the leader of a Satanic cult. Through the note on the gift he shmoozes the aunts by saying that he wants forgiveness, he knows his presence is not wanted but still desires to give them a unique gift for their birthday. They open the package which contains a pretty box. Thinking that it's a lovely gift, they open it and some demons come out and possess the aunts, who then begin attacking all members of the family and most of the relatives are killed off in various comical ways. The frigid cousin and the lesbian are like the only two people left. They guess that if they destroy the box that they can destroy the demons that came out of it. It works and the aunts return to normal (borrrrrrring!). The next morning police arrive and start collecting the bodies. One of the two kids (the other got torn apart by one of the aunt/demons) wants to go live with the lesbian, because even though his mother survived, she's now a basket case in a straight-jacket. In the last scene, Bertha the frigid cousin starts puking up green slime in the cab ride home, then gets all possessed looking and tears off the cab drivers arm... the end. I have to say that the first half of this movie is slower than dial up internet, almost enough to give up on it before the fun even begins. The second half of the movie picks up with some gruesome special effects and some pretty bloody murders. Well worth the wait. Don't try and make too much sense out of the story, it's relatively insignificant. The only fun in this film is watching two demons run around in flowery dresses killing people in comically terrifying ways that are very reminiscent of "Evil Dead". Ironically, despite the title, the grannies in this film are the victims of demon possession and the rabies virus is never even mentioned. An enjoyable flick... if you have absolutely nothing else to do.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Snuff


Snuff is a terribly disappointing movie. Because of it's appearance and marketing, it gives you the impression that it may actually be a snuff film (for those of you who do not know what a snuff film is, it's a film that depicts what appears to be an actual murder caught on film just for the fun of having it, usually occurring after a sex act). But alas, instead we are left with a movie that is slow, stupid, obviously fake and has few surprises. The bulk of the movie is a very jumbled plot that after watching this movie three times, I still cannot figure out what was what. Upon seeing the ending, this may have been done on purpose. Anyway, the story is basically about a gang of hippie biker chicks that are also apparently followers of some dork calling himself Satan, cleverly pronounce as "Suh-ton". He controls these brainless broads with boobs in a Manson-ish type of way. Anyway, a porn actress and her manager/director arrive in Chile' (?) to make another movie. While there, she hooks up with an old boyfriend. Old boyfriends current girlfriend (or sister, it's never really specified) is part of this hippie biker chick gang. A plot is set in motion to slaughter them all which does eventually happen. After the last person is finished off, we see cameras and sound people and a director yelling "cut!". Apparently it was all just a stupid movie being filmed (that's why I say that the story really doesn't have to make sense because it wasn't really happening and could have been hypothetically shot only in part or out of sequence). After the bulk of the people leave the set, a cameraman seduces the actress that still laying on the bed on the set. Camera and sound crew draw nearer. Cameraman attacks actress, stabs her, cuts off fingers and hands, and eventually rips her guts out. He holds them up and gives a tribal scream. The screen then looks like the camera has run out of film, but you can hear sound people saying "Did we get it?" and "I think so." This movie somehow got a rumor started about it, that it actually was a snuff film. After seeing the "snuff" scene, it's painfully obvious that it's totally fake. Also, this movie has tribal drums as a constant soundtrack. No music, no beat... just really loud obnoxious drumming. During the sex scenes, the drums will convince anyone listening that you are watching a terribly cheap porno. And if no one's around, then there's only you to drive crazy by having to listen to them non-stop for an hour and 20 minutes. Personally, I found this movie to be very boring and I don't recommend it, but it does have a huge cult following, mostly due to the "is it real" factor. Well, for anyone who has even the slightest doubt whether it's real... It's not!!!!!!!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Burnt Offerings


Even though this movie has a few relatively mainstream actors, such as Karen Black and Oliver Reed, even including the legendary Ms. Bette Davis in one her later roles that actually had some genuine acting on her part and not just some half ass performance just for the paycheck, for which she was so famous for doing in her last years. Burnt Offerings is one of those movies that you have to watch at least twice to fully grasp what's happening. This alone gives it the cult following that grants it permission among my inventory. Anyway, the movie starts out with a young couple that are looking for a house to rent, they happen upon a mansion that is being rented out for the summer at a suspiciously low price. The elderly and eccentric brother and sister that own the house have bestowed upon the couple one inconvenience... Their elderly mother lives in the attic bedroom and doesn't ever leave. This woman is to be left 3 trays of food every day and that's all. Despite this incredibly odd situation, they rent the house anyway because the wife just won't shut up about it. After a while, it seems almost to possess her. She becomes more and more interested in the old lady's hobby of collecting photographs. One odd aspect of the photos displayed is that not one of the people in the photos are smiling, in fact they look pretty miserable. Their young son has also come along for the ride and when he is seen accidentally falling and hurting his knee, moments later a seemingly dead plant has some new live growth on it. Pain seems to heal the old and somewhat decrepit mansion in some way. When the father cuts his finger on a champagne wire, a light bulb that originally did not work before now works fine. The Mrs. embarks on a cleaning frenzy that Joan Crawford would have been proud of, but is growing increasingly worried about the old lady upstairs because she's not eating the food that is being left for her. One day while restoring the old pool out back, the father is overcome with the desire to drown his son and nearly succeeds. The son manages to get away and the next day, the shabby old pool has now become a sparkling oasis with fountains and statues. As the mother grows more and more obsessed with the old lady upstairs, the meals have resumed consumption. The mother also starts to lie in order to keep anyone from being suspicious of the house. She notices the change in the pool and takes credit for cleaning it herself. She also becomes less and less receptive to her husbands advances and ultimately finds him repulsive. To console herself, she constantly returns to the old lady's sitting room. Soon she starts dressing like the "old-timey" women in the old lady's photo collection, even to the point of getting gray hair. Meanwhile, the aunt (Davis) who is usually so vibrant and witty has become a worn out old lady. She seems drained of all her energy, her hair turns gray and she's got enough luggage under her eyes to go to Europe. Soon after that, she becomes deathly ill. The father seems to be slowly losing his grasp on reality and keeps seeing a creepy smiley hearse driver that scared him as a child at his mothers funeral. The boy is almost killed by a mysterious gas leak in his bedroom, with all the windows and doors locked. As mom fakes calling the doctor when it looks like the aunt is gonna die any minute, she immediately withdraws into the old lady's room and starts eating her din-din. In a very simple but effective scene, the smiley hearse driver shows up instead of the doctor and shoves a casket at the aunt, next scene is her funeral. We also start noticing more changes to the house. The greenhouse that was originally full of dead plants is now full of beautiful plants and flowers. The house itself seems to be draining or consuming people and renewing itself with their pain and sorrow. After the aunts death, the mom doesn't even go to the funeral because she has to keep the old lady company. In fact, the mother is now fully gray, her wardrobe and hairdos are strictly 19th century and she has become extremely over protective of the old lady that apparently only she ever sees. When dad actually sees the house changing, the roof shingles, the floorboards, the tile, all falling off and being replaced with new ones, he decides the time has come to leave. Too bad the trees have decided otherwise. They block the road and attempt to drag dad off into the woods. Mom comes to the rescue and brings them back to the house. Some time later, the kid is swimming and the pool attempts to drown him. This even convinces mom that it's time to vacate. As they're leaving, mom decides that she can't leave without telling her favorite old fart that she's going. In a creepy conclusion, the dad gets tired of waiting for mom, so he goes back into the house after her. He goes into the old lady's room looking for mom, sees the old lady sitting by the window and swings her around to face him. When she turns around, it's mom with a possessed looking face, dressed as the old lady. Soon we see dad plummeting to his death from the attic window. He lands on the car containing his kid, the kid freaks and runs. He is then crushed under the rubble of a falling chimney. In the next scene we see the house, restored to it's prime time glory. Upon their return, we also hear the oddball brother and sister bragging about how beautiful it is and how happy they are that their mother has been restored to them. The camera pans through the old lady's photos and there are some new additions... dad, kid and aunt. The mother is missing from the photo. OK, so what the hell does it all mean? I assume that the house is being rented out to unsuspecting families who then become the spiritual battery that recharges the old mansion like sacrifices, hence the title "Burnt Offerings". What's the story with mom and the old lady? I assume that there never was an old lady. I think it was a ploy to get the mom interested in and ultimately possessed by the spirit of the old lady. That's why the food was not at first being eaten, but resumes when the mom becomes obsessed with her. This is confirmed when we see the mom grubbing on the old lady's supper. Since the mother is not among the photo collection at the end, it's my assumption that she was always destined to be part of the house. Great mystery flick that requires some thought to figure it out. Great mysteries are like puzzles without a box top to follow, only through a slow piecing together can we see the full picture.