Krug(David A. Hess) slaps a potent throat-choke on B.W. B.W.,Hess,and Jason,pals. The Godfather of Gore,Herschell Gordon Lewis,meets the emperor himself,B.W. Reggie Bannister(of Phantasm fame) and B.W. talk shop. EFX Wop(Tom Savini) meets Big Wop. The late Roger Watkins and David Hess,can only imagine what they're thinking...
Here we have one of my favorite low-budget classics of the 1970's,a staple of both the drive in and late night television for years.I remember sneaking into the parlour in my footie pajamas late on Friday and Saturday nights and taking in Brownrigg's minor epic of bloody popsicles and dead telephone repairmen in the closet like the twisted little horror nut I always was.My buddy Rich just got his outrageous hands on an original one-sheet in great condition,and of course,I'm feeling a slight spark of envy on this end!Let's press ahead,wild things... "Up the airy mountain,down the rushing glen.We never can go hunting,for fear of little men..." Dr. Stephens helps Judge Cameron(Gene Ross)free pent-up personal demons by swinging an axe into a tree stump outside the Stephens Sanitarium (for the terminally bananas),when Judge shows his appreciation by planting the blade squarely in the good doctor's back.Charlotte Beale(played by groovy 70's Playboy cover model and genre lady-in-waiting,Rosie Holotik)arrives at the lonely loony bin in hopes of employment.She's shown around the place,reluctantly at first,by Dr. Masters(Annabelle Weenick) and is introduced to the sanitarium's gaggle of loonies.Sam's a big black goober whose world revolves around popsicles and launching plastic boats in the bathtub.Sergeant Jaffee thinks he's in the middle of a war.Harriet slavishly tends to a plastic baby doll as if it were her own offspring.Mrs. Callingham is a creepy old coot who repeats disturbing rhymes and thinks flowers are her children.Allyson is a washed-up-on-the-beach nymphomaniac,Jennifer is catatonic,and Danny,well he's cursed with a horrible orange cauco-fro and a lousy sense of humour.People have been institutionalized for less. Dr. Stephens breaks Bruce Lee's cardinal rule:Never turn your back on a loonie. Charlotte finds herself a good fit at the sanitarium,helping each patient with their respective suitcase full of manias,seemingly on the threshold of a dark secret that everyone's aware of but her.The previous nurse,Jane,gets her head squashed in a suitcase before she can get outski after Harriet's missing babydoll turns up in the nurse's quarters.Mrs. Callingham tries to fill Charlotte in,but mysteriously bites her own tongue off in the middle of the night.Sam raves on and on about Dr. Stephens,but he's dead,isn't he?Jennifer snoops around the office,but takes a sharp paperholder to the eye.When a missing case history turns up in Sarge's room,he's forced to let it painfully burn into ashes in his own hand.A repairman appears on the scene to fix the bum telephone,but runs into a horny Allison,then goes missing.As Nurse Charlotte slowly pieces together the sanitarium's sordid secret:the nuts are running the nuthouse,the good judge informs her that she,too,is a mental patient at the facility!A loopy finale finds our heroine uncovering a gaggle of corpses before Dr. Masters enlists Sam's retard strength to drag the nosy nurse to the operating table for a lobotomy.Reminded of his own failed operation,Sam goes totally crackers and drags Charlotte to safety,while the other maniacs rend Masters limb from limb,giving the she-psycho a taste of her own morbid medicine.Instead of fleeing the chunk-blowing scene with the innocent girl who helped him launch his plastic boat in the tub,Sam decides instead to go back inside,and slaughter everybody in one fell swoop.As the movie draws to a close,the slow-witted blood-soaked lummox is crying in his popsicle... After mass murdering the whole asylum with his bare hands,Sam's bloody popsicle has lost some of its tastiness. Also released as "The Forgotten" and "Death Ward #13",this sleeper was filmed in Tehuacana,Texas,more popularly known as "the middle of fucking nowhere" which adds to the sleeper's atmospheric thrills.Noteworthy for multiple shocks,groovy seventies bare loon-teat,liberal doses of the red stuff,and the comely Holotik of "Horror High" fame aptly carrying the twisted tale to its close.If you've actually never seen "Basement"(I'm gathering you must live somewhere NEAR Tehuacana,in this case)by all means do.It delivers!Dedicated to Texas Rich and his impressive new one sheet... There's more than a coal stove in THIS basement,Miss Charlotte.
As we near the biggest commercial holiday season of the year,I figured it may be high time we focus the ol' glassies on a genre film or two,to get into the spirit.I was lucky enough to see this little number in the theater during its all too brief two-week run,before the parento-nazis got it pulled back in 1984.Psycho Santa is too much for you,but Jerry Springer isn't?Impressionable tykes who'd empty their bladders overnight in their racing car beds over a film like this shouldn't have been brought to a screening of it in the first place.This is hormonally-rampant teen fare,through and through,with ample doses of sex,gore,and twisted storyline to please the most acne-scarred ninth grade goofball,and further evidence that this really IS the most wonderful time of the year. "You see Santy Claus tonight,you better run,boy!You better run...for your life!" It's December 1971,and little Billy's folks are taking he and his younger brother Ricky to visit their catatonic grandpa at the state squirrel farm.Nothing says Christmas like leaving your child alone with a crazy old man for a few minutes,which Billy's parents aptly do.The mute octogenarian suddenly springs to life when he notices his grandson alone at his chair,and weaves a bananas tale about Santa Claus punishing naughty children which scares six shades of shit out of the boy before his family returns.Elsewhere a robber dressed as ol' Saint Nick holds up a convenient and shoots the clerk in the head for a whopping thirty-one bucks.Merry fuckin' Christmas,indeed.The family notices a Santa(our charming murderous robber)experiencing car trouble on the side of the road.They decide to stop,despite Billy's wild sobbing that Santa was about to punish them for being naughty.They should have listened to the kid.Santa shoots Billy's dad dead in the domepiece and tries to rape his mother on the side of the road,but when she slaps his face he decides to slit her throat with a switchblade instead.Billy is hiding in some heavy brush across the street as Santa stalks him,switchblade still glistening with his mother's lifeforce,and growling,"Where are ya,ya little bastard!"Hey,I'd probably hate Santa Claus too. A Columbian necktie for Christmas,oh thank you,Santa! Billy ends up at an orphanage(with his younger brother Ricky,but we'll get back to him),run by a stern disciplinarian,Mother Superior(Lilyan Chauvin),who tans the boy's hide everytime he draws Santa being graphically murdered,or peeks in on two older orphans playing "Down the Chimney",teaching the already-twisted boy that the naughty deserve punishment.You can see what we're leading up to here,can't you?Sister Margaret(Gilmer McCormick) feels for the poor boy,and resents the ass-whuppings he's constantly getting served up,claiming only love and understanding will heal the boy's deep-rooted inner demons from the past.Yeah,but then we wouldn't have a blood-thirsty psycho-Santa to dole out grisly death later on in the picture.Any OTHER bright ideas,ya penguin? You whistled on a Tuesday,William.Very,VERY naughty. Years pass,and Billy grows into a strapping young man(Robert Brian Wilson)of job age.Sister Margaret,who still feels he hasn't matured into a yuletide killing machine,gets him a job as a stock boy at a local store.So far,so good.He's strong,attentive,and a thorough worker.Then Christmas rolls around.Billy starts having horrible childhood flashbacks.Mr. Sims,his boss,asks him to play Santa Claus for the store X-Mas party.His unsuspecting co-workers vow to get him so sauced,"he'll think he IS Santa Claus!"He does,alright.Naughty!Punish!Naughty!Punish! Mr. Sims gets that claw hammer he's always wanted for Christmas(planted backwards in his scalp),Andy gets hung with Christmas lights,Pamela gets slit open longways with a box cutter.Mrs. Randall,the assistant manager, takes archery-death to her busom when she tries to escape.And then it's off to do Saint Nick's vengeful work all over town,culminating in a return to the orphanage and a square off against Mother Superior and obligatory twist ending.So what about YOU,you been good all year? Not the kind of "stag party" Linnea Quigley was expecting. This cult classic inspired THREE majorly retarded sequels and an upcoming remake(blah!)while gaining notoriety in turning a beloved children's character into an axe-wielding homicidal maniac.Film critic Leonard Maltin even asked after giving the film zero stars,"What's next?The Easter Bunny as a child molester?"If you've been trapped at the North Pole for the past 23 years and haven't managed to score yourself a necessary viewing,pick up Anchor Bay's special edition,which is being released the 11th of this month.Anything less would be NAUGHTY. "Naughty!"
The greatest zombie flick of all time. Oh yes it is.The perfect combination of art and exploitation,amazing cinematography and atmosphere,Soavi's masterpiece transcends the horror genre;the perfect mix of dark humour,extreme gore,sexuality,and romance.It almost doesn't fit into any category,and herein lies the film's strength.It is championed by Romero-philes and Godard-ites alike.Soavi,who laboured as an assistant director/actor in the films of Argento,Bava,Fulci,et al, for years,shows his true mettle with this entry which came at a time when Italian horror was at a wane,and arguably surpassed his teachers.His talents as a director,evident in all his films,are nowhere more clear than in this submission.Then he disappeared from the spotlight to direct Italian television and care for one of his terminally ill children,perhaps satisfied that he had created in many individuals' minds,the ultimate horror film. You threw out the old phone books??Those are CLASSICS! Francesco Dellamorte(Rupert Everett) is the caretaker of the Buffalora Cemetery.He's a lonely man whose only friends are Gnaghi(François Hadji-Lazaro),a pudgy,bald simpleton(seemingly)who acts as his assistant,and Franco(Anton Alexander),who he's never met in person.Life is boring for Dellamorte,who's hobbies are reading outdated telephone directories and piecing together a fragmented human skull.Except that recently,seven nights after they are buried,the corpses(which he calls "returners") return to life due to mandragola roots in the cemetery to raise havok on the living,if Francesco and Gnaghi weren't there to dispatch them with a bullet or shovel-blade,that is.Francesco's pleas for investigation fall on the deaf ears of the mayor,who is more concerned with his latest campaign than anything else. Just look at the beautiful err,umm...composition of this shot. It's business as usual for Dellamorte and his assistant until an old man's funeral brings him face to face with the woman of his dreams,known only as "She"(Anna Falchi),mourning the loss of her elderly lover(!).He lures her into the cemetery's ossuary,which invokes feelings of dormant love and sensuality in her(works every time!),and she makes love to him on her dead husband's grave,arguing that she hid nothing from him in life.Only her husband rises from his earthy confines and bites her before Dellamorte can dispatch the angry zombie.He waits seven days next to her still body and shoots her in the head as she rises to embrace him.So much for love... Gnaghi(François Hadji-Lazaro)and Valentina(Fabiana Formica),sitting in a grave...Love really does know no boundaries,eh? The plot thickens when the mayor's daughter Valentina dies violently on potential beau Claudio's motorbike,taking out a schoolbus full of boy scouts in the process.Francesco readies for the reanimation of the century,while Gnaghi excitedly waits for Valentina's return,as he fancied her in life(showing affection by nervously throwing up on her in the plaza!).Dellamorte dispatches the forever-chomping little zombies,Claudio rides his motorbike out of the grave(apparently buried with the twisted wreck!)and eats his distraught girlfriend,and Gnaghi takes Valentina's disembodied zombified head to his room,playing his coffin-violin for her.When the mayor hears his daughter's voice coming from Gnaghi's room,he rushes in only to be bitten in the neck by her flying head when he disapproves of her current,unlikely romance.Dellamorte dispatches Valentina,then later,the mayor's zombie.Or rather,"ex-mayor". Dellamorte(Rupert Everett)creates a hole for this nun's spirit to escape out of.Amen. Along the way,Dellamorte encounters two incarnations of "She";one,the new mayor's assistant,who loves Francesco,but is terrified by penises(!!!),causing the caretaker to barge into a doctor's office demanding to have his manhood amputated!When "She" returns to Buffalora,Francesco is interrupted in telling her his good news by her story of being raped by the new mayor...and liking it!She leaves,hoping he will understand.He doesn't.The final "She" he gives a lift home to her flat,making love to her several times before her roommate informs him they are merely prostitutes.He places a space heater in bed with the exhausted girl,burning the dwelling and occupants to the ground.When he is overlooked in the investigation of the fire,he is visited by Death itself,and given another option by the apparition,leading to a fantastically surreal climax. The Angel of Death visits Buffalora.Francesco has a revelation. Originally inspired by "Dylan Dog",one of the hottest comic books in Italy(selling a million copies a month!),Dellamorte,Dellamore was nearly picked up by American funders/distributors,but Soavi turned down their choice of Matt Dillon(!)as the caretaker.Thank the gods for that.Some viewers don't get the startling imagery,tributes,or symbolism abound in this film,as to be expected,and perhaps horror fans of that ilk would be better served waiting for the next Freddy Krueger or Scream sequel.Love it or hate it,what Michele Soavi has created is a ferociously original,completely satisfying,work of art.Highly recommended.
Going to the movies is bad for your health. A collaboration between director Lamberto Bava and producer/co-writer Dario Argento that bungs logic down the lavvy and exacts rollercoaster revenge on the cinematic test screening audience.FX man Sergio Stivaletti pulls out all stops(with more hits than misses),the eclectic soundtrack ranges from Accept and Saxon to Billy Idol and Go West(!),with original mood music supplied by Claudio Simonetti of Goblin/Daemonia fame,and the result is pure Italian handwoven horror entertainment!Human marinara sauce is bucketed upon the screen,with side orders of change-o-heads,demons bursting from backs,helicopters crashing through ceilings,and blind eyes being popped out of their sockets.Is it any wonder this was a huge boxoffice hit?!!? Hey,aren't you Michele Soavi?What're YOU doing in Berlin with a half-metal face? Cheryl(Natasha Hovey)rides the West Berlin tube,and apart from being startled by some poseur-punks along for the ride,she gets the feeling she is being watched and stalked.In the subway station she is approached by a strange man(Michele Soavi) whose face is subdivided by a metallic mask.He gives her tickets for a special movie screening that night at the Metropol.She coaxes her friend to skip class and take in the film with her.In the theater lobby,there's a Japanese crotchrocket,a Samurai sword,a metallic demon mask,a nifty Italian busta poster of "Four Flies on Grey Velvet",and a sexy-yet-menacing female usher to lead the growing crowd to their seats.Amongst those in attendance are a bickering married couple,two young lovers out on a date(the girl is Fiore Argento,Dario's older daughter),a blind man(!) and his daughter,two skirt-chasing college dorks(Urbano Barberini and Karl Zinny) and the obligatory black Italian pimp(Bobby Rhodes) accompanied by two of his hookers.One of the hookers puts on the mask in the lobby and scratches herself."That'll teach ya to touch thangs!" he barks. The movie inside the theater begins to strains of Motley Crue(!)and a Vincent Price soundalike narrator,as we find a group of kids(one of which is Soavi,with no metallic face) searching around an old tomb.The boys tell the girls they stumbled upon it earlier that day while looking for lizards(!!).Inside the tomb they find what looks to be the final resting place of Nostradamus and unearth a book that foretells the coming of demons(his most famous prediction,in my opinion...)and a cloth-draped metallic demon mask.Soavi puts it on and scratches himself.His friend tells him not to do it,as anyone who puts on the mask will become a demon.Hmmm.The lovable pimp and his hos smoke pot and joke loudly,irritating the other moviegoers.The blind man's daughter,who had been describing out loud everything happening on the screen for him,has a liason with her lover right under her father's nose.On the screen, Soavi's cut won't stop bleeding.In the theater,the ho's face won't stop bleeding.She runs off to the bathroom to tend to her wound,but it becomes a pus-spurting,throbbing infectious sore.The pimp's other ho goes to check on the earlier prostitute,who is now a demon,just like Soavi on the big screen.She abruptly strangles the blind man's daughter and her lover with velvet movie rope,and manages to scratch the other hooker before she escapes behind the screen.As Soavi attacks one of the girls in a tent with a knife,the hooker bursts through the screen and transforms into a demon before the audience's very eyes.Just like in that damn movie,you heard 'em! "What the hell happened to Rosemary(Geretta Geretta)!Holy shit!She's a friend of mine!" Before too long an army of demons with glowing eyes is chasing what's left of the screaming audience around the theater,whose doors and windows have mysteriously disappeared(!).The pimp(naturally)steps up as the group's alpha survivalist,until he's bitten and scratched while barking orders at everyone.Cheryl,her friend Kathy,and the two dorks,George and Ken,fend for themselves while frothing demons kill people all around them.Outside the theater,a group of cokehead car thief punks(with a Coke can full of...cocaine.Get it?) sneak into the building while avoiding the police,only to be killed systematically by hordes of blood-thirsty demons.George takes to the motorcycle in the lobby,and skillfully wields the Samurai sword,lopping off demon heads while he peels out on the theater seats.For no apparent reason,Kathy is possessed by unknown spirits,and hatches a demon out of her back(!),which scratches Ken,who gets impaled on George's sword as he transforms into a demon himself.Just in the nick of time,as it seems all hope is lost for George and Cheryl,a helicopter crashes through the ceiling of the theater(!!),giving the desperate duo an escape route,which they utilize with a cable,wench,and grappling hook they find in the wrecked chopper.Outside,things are not so good.Demons have infiltrated the whole city, which is in a state of total destruction.As they flee a hoard of pursuant creatures,a surviving militia-style family in a jeep looking for safety themselves, picks them up.Cheryl transforms into a demon and is shot out of the vehicle and left,dead on the road,as the survivors speed away into the night. If they want a refund,you'd better give it to them.The titular demons converge. As emptyheaded and bereaft of logic the disjointed story is,the movie itself does allow for plenty of thrills,gore a'plenty,and several cameos by Italian genre stars.An 80's classic overbrimming with excitement that only the most pretentious cinema snob could not enjoy watching a few times.It spurred on a nearly identical sequel(Demons 2) that takes place in a high rise apartment building,but never lives up to the original on any level,and two films which were scheduled to be sequels but had really nothing to do with Bava's entry(Michele Soavi's "La Chiesa",and Bava's "The Ogre").To date,Lamberto never lived up to the amazing legacy his father left behind with numerous classic films like "Black Sabbath",but he is capable of making entertaining genre fare like this,and for that I salute him.Good,wholesome horrific fun! Fancy becoming an instrument of evil?Try this mask on for size.
You're speeding down Rt. 29 one dark night in the passenger seat of a '70s muscle car,the speedometer is pinned at 120 mph.You curse yourself for brainlessly accepting the ride in the first place,knowing this joyride is going to end badly.The pit of your stomach is knotted like a macrame plant hanger,your heart is racing like a project ho in the spasms of her first speedball.Though scared,you're excited like you've never been before.You're approaching an ominous-looking mountain road,about to envelop the car in misty blackness,your destination is uncertain,yet certainly dangerous.The stereo is cranked to ten,strains of a polyester disco nightmare of yesteryear blare out the open windows into the night.You're terrified and fascinated.It doesn't look good for you,and you don't care as much as you should... Well,that's kinda what being a frequent reader/subscriber to WOPSPLOITATION is like.You know there are a million other blogs,websites,and fanpages out there dedicated to bring you reviews,tributes,and other tidbits of information concerning cult,horror,and exploitation genre films.But they're safe.Other webmasters might make trips to all the horror conventions,even post corny jpegs of themselves in dimestore zombie makeup,all in the name of getting you to regularly surf their page.Not this guy over here. Know the difference. I appreciate your visits,and look forward to jawing it up with all of you about your favorite movies,and mine.You can either leave comments or e-mail me directly at:firstname.lastname@example.org.I promise I'll never blow smoke up mainstream ass or steer you towards a waste of a good hour and a half where you could have gotten laid instead.Think of us as both chainsmoking one chilly morning in the high school atrium,and I'm laying it down about what you need to check out.Then you can pass it on tomorrow morning,same time and place,to your band of miscreants over a cigarette.I'll be on the other side of the atrium,chatting up the little Irish girl with the body that looks like DaVinci himself carved it outta marble,and we'll shoot each other that knowing look.The blacktop passdown.And so it goes. The only bird you're getting from me this holiday season. For now,it's back to the grind(house) for yours cruelly.I'll be posting new reviews,rants and raves,rebuttals and rhetoric,as always,so drop me a line about whatever your little twisted heart desires.Chances are,I've been there,or even wrote the damned book on it.As David A. Hess likes to say..."See Ya Soon!"
Frank Henenlotter IS cult,horror,and exploitation movies,period.His twisted take on twins,the memorable cult classic,Basket Case,ran FOREVER as a midnight feature in New York City,and it's easy to see why.Shot on a shoestring budget,this grimy little fairy tale has attained notoriety for all the right reasons:buckets full of the free-flowing red stuff,a thick vein of dark humour,a cast of unknown non-actors,an insanely original screenplay full of inventive murders,and an unforgettable lead character named Belial who lives in a basket.What the hell else could you ask for?!!? Could you pass the toilet paper,bro?Uh,AND that issue of Hustler? Late at night,Dr. Lifflander is followed to his house by a shadowy stalker.He fires some shots at the twisted shadow,then tries to phone the police,but is torn in half by a horribly deformed claw-hand.The next day,Duane Bradley arrives in a seedy section of midtown Manhattan,carrying a large basket,and takes a room at the Hotel Broslin,a roach motel frequented by many unsavory characters.He visits Dr. Needleman's office with the basket in tow,and scores himself a date with Needleman's wig-wearing receptionist.The good doctor sees Duane's deep and livid scarring running down his side before Duane shows himself the door.Needleman calls Dr. Cutter and tells her what he has seen that day in his office,but Cutter is more concerned with a young man she is entertaining for dinner.Duane empties the contents of the basket at the foot of the steps to Needleman's building,and it breaks down the door to his office,and abruptly rips him to shreds.It is a twisted and powerful mass of flesh and bone,with monstruous features,sharp teeth and claws. Belial says..."AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!UHHHHHHHHHHHHH!" While out for a drink,Duane runs into Casey,a prostitute who lives at the Broslin down the hall from him.Her questions about the basket send the drunken Bradley into the history behind he and the basket contents.It is his formerly conjoined siamese twin brother,Belial!His mother died giving birth to the weird pair,causing his father to despise the misshapen sibling.He hires three doctors of varying pedigree(Cutter is a veterinarian!)to remove the lump of flesh from Duane's side.Duane rescues Belial from the garbage(!)and the terrible twosome off the callous dad with a buzzsaw on wheels,effectively cutting the heartless bastard in half longways!next day Duane sneaks out with the receptionist,Sharon, for their sightseeing date(leaving the creature a broken black and white television to watch while he's gone),but the thing in the basket is telepathically linked with him,so when he kisses the girl,it alerts the creature back at the hotel room,causing it to go crazy ape bonkers,destroying the room.Meanwhile a crummy,old pickpocket who had earlier noticed the Bradley boy's roll of money(ironically,the entire budget of the movie itself!) breaks into the room to steal it,only to face off with the homicidal deformity in the basket.He struggles with it,into the hallway and into his own room before it takes his life in a spurting,slashing attack,before it escapes out the old man's window as the police arrive.When Duane and the detectives examine the turned over room,the basket is empty.Alone,Duane discovers his partner in crime,hiding in the toilet until the coast is clear. What's in the basket?People are dying to find out. The next day,Dr. Cutter is visited by Bradley and his murderous basket,and when she opens it,Belial springs out onto her back,slashing and biting her,before finally jamming her face into an open drawer full of scalpels.When the two big boned German hausfrau-looking receptionists break in,the doctor resembles a human pin cushion,screaming at the top of her lungs as she passes on.At night,a restless Belial emerges from his basket as his brother sleeps and dreams of streaking through the empty streets of New York,arriving at Sharon's place to find her also sleeping,nude(no pajamas in the Big Apple? Sheesh.).He dreams of caressing her then begins to make love to her,only when he awakens,the basket is empty again.He has been experiencing telepathy from Belial,who's taken it upon himself to break off a little piece of wig girl for himself.Angrily,Duane snatches the horny lump of flesh off of Sharon's bloody loins and takes him back to the Broslin,where the granddaddy of all sibling squareoffs is about to take place.In the climactic final act,Duane and Belial have a serious brother-to-brother chat. Have your pet spayed or neutered,goodbye Dr. Cutter! Henenlotter,apart from re-releasing a cornucopia of cult classics through Something Weird Video,under the "Frank Henenlotter's Sexy Shockers" banner,has helmed an impressive handful of midnight movies of his own,including two inventively warped sequels to "Basket Case",the ever-popular follow up,"Brain Damage"(1988),and "Frankenhooker"(1990),all of which are solid works of grindhouse cinema indeed.The Japanese,smitten with the horny little murderer, even produced a string of Belial christmas lights to go around your tree!The Something Weird Special Edition DVD has a slew of extras,and is deserving of a place on your shelves,right away-like.I know I always wanted a brother just like Belial,though if he ever got any ideas about my Mel,they'd be calling him Casket Case.Insert rimshot here.
The late Roger Watkins' "Last House on Dead End Street" aka/"Cuckoo Clocks of Hell",aka/"The Funhouse" is a film whose legend precedes it.I had a grainy eighth generation ghosty vhs bootleg of the grainy,badly overdubbed and underlit movie in question in the early eighties,which I was never able to upgrade for years.I found a Sun Video original vhs print in an obscure mom and pop store just before dvds appeared,and threw fifty,then a hundred dollars down on the counter for it,but the owner wouldn't budge,and the store went under a month later.Hardly anyone had seen it,but many had heard of it.All credits are pseudonyms,no one actually took credit for making the obscure movie until 2000.Now,in the glorious summer years of my life,I can attest to owning the definitive Barrel double dvd,the infamous one sheet adorns my living room wall,and best of all,I had the extreme pleasure of meeting the late director in the flesh years back(we shot the shit and he signed my dvd in between many beers).He was one cool motherfucker.This film exists as a testament to his mostly untapped genius. Terry Hawkins(Roger Watkins) is gonna show 'em all. Upon his release from prison after serving a year for possession and sale of dangerous drugs,Terry Hawkins(Roger Watkins),ex-con and former amateur pornographer,decides to get back into the movie business,only branching out this time around,into snuff movies.His perspective has been bleakened by having a year of life wasted in jail and wants to do something for which he will make money and be remembered forever.He enlists the help of a slaughterhouse worker who was previously jailed for sodomizing a cow(!),a young cameraman along for the ride,and two desperate and morally bankrupt women.Terry dons a Greek theatrical mask,while his female cohorts wear featureless plastic masks,and together they commence to kill a blind man while his male associates film the dastardly deed.Terry shows his latest film to Steve and Jim,two small time smut-peddlers searching for something different to show their audience,"rich perverts who sit around and watch pornographic films all day".In the next room,Steve's wife does herself up in blackface,strips down to a bikini,and is whipped by a hunchback in front of a party of delighted weirdos(!). A party's just not a party until your blackfaced wife gets whipped by a hunchback. Proving bigger scumbags than even Terry,Jim and Steve try to steal his film without paying for it,unwittingly destining themselves to be stars in front of the camera in Terry's NEXT film.He calls them up and tells them to meet him at 'that house',and to bring 'Suzy'(?)and he will deliver the men something worth their while.Here,Terry turns the tables on the hustlers,degrading(forcing Steve to fellate a deer hoof protruding out of the zipper of one of the girl's pants),torturing,and killing them all in front of his partner's camera while his female partners dance,giggle and chant Mansonesque mantras about Hawkins in the background. "I'm directing this fucking MOO-VAY!"What a director,and what a moo-vay,indeed. In the film's unsettling and gruesome climax,the amateur filmmakers/murderers strap the aforementioned Suzy to a table and perform home surgery on her,amputating her limbs without anaesthetic,reviving her with smelling salts,then eviscerating her on camera,and walking off.Only through primitive voice over narration does the audience learn the offenders are later apprehended and imprisoned for life.Terry Hawkins has carved his bloody footnote on the pages of history. Unwillingly,Steve gives a satisfying on camera hoof-job. According to Watkins,the film had a budget of roughly three thousand dollars(most of which was spent on drugs!).The anemic budget is offset by the passion that Watkins had in completing the film,which translates to the production itself,though he later lost track of it altogether.Somewhere in a New York state film vault sits the full three hour long "Cuckoo Clocks" cut,which must be amazing to behold,I imagine.The film's strength lies in the way it weaves the audience into its tapestry of atrocities;you are just as guilty as the characters committing the crimes on the screen,because you're watching them and thus,an accessory of sorts!Adding to the apect of realism,is the footnote that Watkins actually went on to direct various atmospheric hardcore porn films after completing this one,leading your humble narrator to wonder how much of Terry Hawkins was simply just a "character" Watkins had created,or if the line between cinema and reality had become blurred during this production for the visionary director.Either way,he was a true talent,and will be sorely missed. Butterfingers!It's my turn to operate!