Sufficiently holi-dazed, I present to you, your annual bird from yours cruelly.
Thanksgiving naturally brings back a lot of family memories for someone as middle (r)aged as I. After the Macy's parade, to which I was never all that stoked about, to be honest (Manhattan in the winter is twice as cold as Freezemiser's ballbag, I can attest, with brutal wind trapped between skyscrapers and whipping around your face all day long), I'd end up having to yell into the kitchen to tell my mom to stop using the electric carving knife until the commercial break, as it was messing up the signal on the vhs of my Lions game, which would either spark my holiday appetite, like the '78 six sack upset win vs. the Broncos, or ruin it altogether, like the '80 overtime loss to the Bears. I took a bite out of my mother's daybed mattress after that one. Losing sucks, but losing to the Bears eats it. Regardless of how the day went, though, I'd always end it with cult movies, my comfort zone, and thirty-plus years on, it will probably be no different. I'll be back to reviewing flicks for you this weekend. I have to watch a few things that I want to cover here over the next couple of days. Still piecing the first podcast together, too, so expect that first week of December or so. Anyway, here's hoping that, however you spend your holiday, it's a choice one for you. See ya soon... XXX OOO,
It had been seven years since director Don Coscarelli (Phantasm (1979) et al) served up the "Incident On and Off a Mountain Road" segment for the Masters of Horror series, and ten since he memorably brought author Joe Lansdale's Bubba Ho Tep (2002) to the big screen, giving genre nuts new The Chin-as-Elvis lines to walk around repeating ad nauseum. By 2012, we were relatively sure of two things, that Coscarelli was due for a return to the big screen, and that whatever it was, would most likely be pretty outrageous. The film he gave us, John Dies at the End, certainly fits the bill, an excellently crafted, oftimes surreal, horror/sci-fi/comedy starring the likes of Chase Williamson and Rob Mayes. Paul "Sideways" Giamatti just reminds me of Gavin McInnes for some reason. Like a future variant McInnes that time traveled back to now or something. Maybe it's just me. "Like, don't take one step further, breh, we're vegans." After relieving a skinhead zombie of his namesake body part with an axe (Didn't know him) and waxing philosophically about it, David (Chase Williamson) arranges a public rendezvous with a reporter named Arnie (Paul Giamatti) to reveal the undeniably strange turn his life has taken lately. To quell Arnie's skepticism, he recalls when he and his titular pal, John (Rob Mayes) offered psychic aid to a girl who's being stalked by her dead beau, but when both young men perceive her differently, it's a signal that she's bound to explode into snakes, then assemble herself into a terrible beast comprised of frozen meats. The meat-beast demands a showdown with Marconi (Clancy Brown), a television psychic, who, pressed for time, vanquishes it over the telephone. It all started, it seems, at an outdoor concert that John's band played at, where the dog of a female amputee named Amy (the dog is Bark Lee) has bitten a Jamaican drug dealer/ psychic named...Robert Marley (how apt), and run off. While David is looking after Bark Lee, he receives a phone call from John, who's bought a substance he calls "soy sauce" off of Marley, that allows him to perceive alternate dimensions of being and time. You with me so far?
"I've got a shirt on, Reggie. Keep it in your pants, Mr. ice cream." Naturally, David accidentally pricks himself with a syringe of the infernal stuff while driving, lending to hallucinations of interdimensional travelers and giant slugs. A detective takes the young men in for questioning, explaining to David that he is the sole survivor of a drugfest gone awry at the Jamaican's crib, and that his friend John has died. Only John calls his phone and orchestrates his police station escape when the detective leaves the room. At the goopy Jamaican crime scene, he and his friends are kidnapped by a possessed wigger named Justin, who takes them to a local mall that happens to have a ghost door that can only be accessed by a phantom limb like Amy's, and it's not long before the demonic collective (it has a name too... "Shitload") is hopping from person to person, and our heroes cross over into another dimension, as run by Korrok's pragmatic tentacles, one of disciple sacrifice and knowledge absorption...you get the idea, I'm sure. As you can imagine, the movie turns off of Unhinged Avenue and onto Deranged Boulevard in the final reel, and I'm not about to spoil all the fun for you. See it. "You're going in the Sunday sauce, fucker. You kiddin' me?" Though this might be the only time Paul Giamatti gets mentioned on Wopsploitation, you'll no doubt remember Clancy Brown from his role of Viking, the juvenile detention bully who gets a boom box exploded in his face in Bad Boys (1983), or from his turns in movies like Pet Sematary Two (1992), Starship Troopers (1996), and A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010). Back to the movie itself. Like Phantasm on crystal meth. If you thought that movie was strange, then you'll probably consider this one certifiable for a straight, white coat and laceless sneakers. If you're in that infinitesimal percentage of movie buffs that didn't like Phantasm (I've never personally run across anyone like that in all my years, but I'm assuming they do exist...somewhere...that sucks), chances are you'll like this one even less. I'm of the opposite camp, and enjoyed it a great deal. Three big ones on the scale. Grab a copy.
As a straight, toxically masculine, cis-gendered, white male dudebro/shitlord/caveman who especially loves women when they're naked, I couldn't resist using this screenshot. Sorry, Anita Sarkeesian. #TitArmiesMatter
...Actually wore my glasses out yesterday while running some errands, and despite looking like an egghead the whole time, I'm sure, I managed to pick up a handful of movies along the way, tonight's review included in the day's bounty. I'd put it back on the shelves once or twice on previous outings, thinking it was maybe just another ghost-laden haunted house movie, heavy on the cg, light on the scares, because frankly, that sort of thing really does nothing for me and many of you, I'd imagine, and is nearly as unimaginative as fucking zombies by now. My horror preference is primarily vintage seventies and eighties fare, and due to that, I'm reluctant to give anything new much of a chance, like a high chair baby sending a bowl of broccoli crowns spiraling to the floor with a well-placed shove.Not the case with this, the first full-length film directed by Ted Geoghegan, a well-crafted, splattery modern homage to one of my favorite directors, Lucio Fulci (of course), and very reminiscent in style and atmosphere to his own Quella villa accanto al cimetero aka/ The House by the Cemetery (1981). Leanna felt a strange calm wash over her as she planted the claw hammer in Victor Newman's skull. The Sacchetti's, Paul and Annie (Andrew Sensenig, Barbara Crampton) but no Dardano/ Danny, have recently moved into a new home in a remote New England village, still coping with the sudden death of their son Bobby in a car accident some months earlier, but things go from bad to worse in the former funeral parlor of a man called Dagmar, who's own luck went tragically south over a century earlier, when the villagers suspected that he was burying empty coffins and selling the cadavers to Chinese in Boston (!), according to visiting neighbors, Dave and Cat McCabe (Monte Markham, Connie Neer). Despite nearly getting Joe the electrician (Marvin Patterson) electrocuted in the cellar, the Sacchetti's invite close, pot smoking, psychic friends of the family, Jacob and May (Larry Fessenden, Lisa Marie), to stay for the weekend. Their son, Harry, is also driving up with his girlfriend, but the cellar is ungodly hot, and there's something down there in the smoky shadows that's possessive of the old place to the point of brutally violent murder. "The candles! A perfect note of pear, plum, and grape with hints of spice and cardamom!" While the folks enjoy a meal at the town's only eatery/bar, complete with xenophobic stares from every other patron in the place, Jacob's son and his squeeze arrive at the house, make themselves at home with some whiskey and FM radio goodness, and get killed, causing May's psychic lightning rod to go haywire. The next day, when the girls go into town for groceries, the fellows stage a secret seance, and unwittingly get Jacob possessed by the spirit of Dagmar himself, who, after eating a sock that Paul has stuffed into his yap as a gag, and spittingly stating his case to the horrified mortals, jams a fireplace poker into Jacob's eyesocket as an exclamation point. When they try to flee, May gets her headpiece Gallaghered by a shotgun-wielding Dave, who's arrived with most of the townsfolk, to make sure that the darkness nestled in the cellar of the old place gets its thirty year hunger sated, one way or the other. The final reel, well, you're going to have to find out for yourselves how it all turns out, and if I'm any judge of these type of movies, I think you'll be glad you did.
"Bumpus...hounds...got into... our strawberry...preserves..." You'll remember the delightful Barbara Crampton from things like Re-Animator (1985), Chopping Mall (1986), From Beyond (1986), and more recently, Tales of Halloween (2015), though she'll always be Leanna Love from Young and the Restless to me, thanks to the television set on the bar in the kitchen that Mom always had on while she did her thing everyday. Lisa Marie, on the other hand, is a model/actress you've seen in things like Ed Wood (1994), Mars Attacks! (1996), Sleepy Hollow (1999), Silent Night (2012), and the aforementioned Tales of Halloween, while Lancaster native, Sensenig turns up in Dylan Dog: Dead of Night (2010) and Don't Look in the Basement 2 (2015). Did I just type what I think I typed? Sequel to a big screen remake of a cult tv classic that never had a sequel. What the actual fuck, as they say these days. Anyway, I shouldn't have to tell you (but will, regardless) how much I enjoyed Still Here, it's a potent blend of atmosphere, jump scares, excellent effects work from Cat Bernier and company, effectively moody cinematography from Karim "Subconscious Cruelty" Hussein, and competent performances from the cast, all mashed up into a very good horror movie, indeed. One Fulci'd be proud of. Three Wops. See this.
...I'm livin' for givin' the devil his due, and I'm burnin', I'm burnin', I'm burnin' for youuuuuu
Contrary to popular belief, this one isn't about my sex organ. It's actually a gothic horror cheapie from the British company (Grenadier) who also brought you 1978's The Cat and the Canary remake (and that's it.), as directed by the chappie who served you up the stop motion thrills of Valley of Gwangi (1969). Naturally, it's been released under a few different titles, including Beyond the Fog, to cash in on Carpenter's then recent success, some eight years after the fact. A sequel to The Fog it's not, but what it is, is an occasionally atmospheric, lurid set up for some hilarious dialog, outrageous seventies fashions, surprisingly gory murders for the era, and wanton hippie nudity and sex, enough to keep you well entertained up until the credits roll, I'd be willing to bet. It all starts out like this...
" 'The velour cleavage' may be a good name for a band, Nora, but it's no way to walk around this creepy lighthouse at night...", notes Rose (Jill Haworth).
A pair of sailors cut through the fog and treacherous rocks to dock their boat on Snape Island, only to discover a trio of cadavers, and a nude, hysterical American bird (Candace Glendenning) who fatally shanks the older one for his rescue attempt. In an unreachably catatonic state at the hospital, the doctors shoot her full of chemicals and pelt her with groovy flashing light-based hypnotherapy to piece the horrific events together (two young couples from Denver, jazz festival, marijuana, free love, yessss, it's all coming together now, isn't it?). Meanwhile, the murder-spear extracted from the midsection of one of the hippie corpses is made of pure gold, dating back thousands of years, to a Phoenician cult that payed its tributes to Baal. This leads to another group, archaeologists this time, willing to boat through the choppy, rear projected waters back to Snape Island, to search for the hidden treasure. There's an unhappily married nymphomaniac named Nora (Anna Palk), who flits about the creepy lighthouse, blowing jibbs in a form-fitting velour bell bottom jumpsuit, and her husband, Dan (Derek Fowlds), Evan and Rose (Bryant Haliday, Jill Haworth), a dodgy detective named Hawk, Hamp (Jack Watson), the surviving sailor from the original trip, and his horny nephew, Brom (Gary Hamilton), a Mick Jagger lookalike who wears the couture version of a weightlifting belt (!) over his ugly, loud seventies gear. Besides that, what could go wrong?
"With this sacrificial gold machete lodged in my head, I've every reason to feel 'umpy!", thinks Brom (Gary Hamilton).
Well, for starters, the original lighthouse keeper and his wife and infant child, who may or may not have drowned some time ago, except the wife's gooey corpse suddenly turns up in a chair inside, while the men are out policing the rocks for cave entrances, after Nora's had a weed-induced shag with Brom in bed under everyone's noses. If that wasn't bad enough, some prankster has blown up their only boat back to the mainland with dynamite, and smashed the short wave radio, as well. Damn. Then Nora plummets to her death from the light tower, while avoiding the advances of the mad old keeper, who more than slightly resembles Peter Jackson circa Bad Taste (1987), in bib overalls. While everyone's flashlighting their way through the labrynthian caves under the lighthouse, Brom gets his loaf bifurcated by a gold machete, and Dan runs into the keeper, who abruptly snaps his neck, before being fatally perforated by the detective's bullets. Just when it looks like the mystery has been wrapped up, and the gold trinkets of Baal's altar have been recovered, the keeper's even more deformed son (think oversized, cyclopean caveman Mardi Gras head kind of deformed here) shanks up Hamp, and descends upon Rose, only to eat a chucked paraffin lamp for breakfast, which sends the deformed madman, the lighthouse, the caves, the altar full of goodies...everything, ablaze, while the survivors look on. End titles, please.
"Omigod!! I've just won two tickets to see Mandrake Paddle Steamer at the Isle of Wight Festival!!"
The DVD treatment by Elite Entertainment (which is the one I have, having never been struck with the urge to upgrade from it) offers the film's trailer, and nothing else. Good enough for me, maybe some of you are slightly more ambitious about that sort of thing. You'll remember Candace Glendenning from her appearances in things like The Flesh and Blood Show (1972) and Satan's Slave (1976). Anna Palk, my favorite dish here, dates back to 1964's The Earth Dies Screaming, The Skull (1965), and 1966's The Frozen Dead, before being taken by cancer in 1990 at the age of forty-eight. Genre-wise, Haworth can be seen in 1960's Brides of Dracula, It! (1967), Horror House (1969), made-for-tv movie Home For the Holidays (1972), and The Mutations (1974). Though you certainly wont mistake this one for a Hammer, Amicus, or even a Tigon production of the period, for that matter, it has enough going for it, that you'll still manage to get a few kicks out of it, and for that reason, I've given it two solid Wops on the rating scale. Give it a look.
Punctured by Liberace's spear... what a gaudy way to go, eh?
If you happen to enter my media room (you're either a hot chick or a member of my inner circle, congrats, either way), you'll notice that the German poster for tonight's review that I've had since the nineties, hangs, right next to my German print of Carpenter's Halloween (1978)...I never dreamed I'd get this snobby in my old age, really, but here I am, running down my Henenlotter pedigree. No stopping now. I spent sixty-four ninety-five on the Media VHS of Basket Case (1982) when it first came out (I was fourteen), and though I could never stabilize the tracking the whole way through on the big floor model tv in the parlor ( Mr. Bradley's nose always looked like Margaret Hamilton's, as he walked slowly down the cellar stairs on my copy), I was instantly a huge fan of Frank's work. His next film, 1988's Brain Damage, I also saw upon release, and liked even more. Where Basket Case suffered from budgetary restraints in areas, Damage handles the same dilemma, and pulls it off; a more polished, funnier, more generally effective film than his previous effort.
Next week on "When Keith Moon and Syd Barrett Play Hide n' Seek at the Junkyard"...
An elderly couple (just as worldly, judging by their culture-laden digs) seeks out their family pet at the outset, to show him the nice calves' brains they've gotten him, but he's flown the coop, causing his captors to obsessively, haphazardly needle through all of their belongings to find him, until they're both left spastic and foaming on the floor. Elsewhere in the building, there's young Brian (Rick Hearst), who's bedridden with a headache, only to end up on a mind blowing trip of psychedelia and colors, thanks to the mouth parts of Aylmer, a phallic, wisecracking parasite who sort of resembles a smug brussel sprout that attaches itself to the host's neck and shoots a blue euphoria-inducing fluid into their brain. In return for the experience, the host must provide him with a steady diet of brains, preferably human, and fresh out of a living skull? Why, that's even better...
"The waitress, a vampire named Perkins...was so very fond of small gherkins, while she served the tea, she ate forty-three...which pickled her internal workin's! Ho! Ho! Ho!"
Brian is instantly hooked on Aylmer's juice, and willingly strolls out into the New York night with the lump on his neck, unaware that, while he trips his face off, the talking shillelagh will be claiming victims; first a night watchman at a junkyard, then a wasted chick at a punk rock show willing to get her knees dirty. Meanwhile, his relationships with his girlfriend, Barbara (Jennifer Lowry), and his brother, Mike (Gordon MacDonald), become so strained that she ends up waxing his brother down instead, when he blows off their dates, often for a splashy party in the tub with Aylmer (!). It's only when Brian tries to take charge of their symbiotic partnership that Aylmer tells the young man his historic back story, and, in a battle of wills, refuses to juice him, while holed up in a flea bag hotel room. I won't ruin the ending for you here, it's one you need to see to believe. Snag a copy.
It's not the face you fuck, but the fuck you face, except for this fatal face fuck.
Two years later, Henenlotter would revisit Belial and Duane Bradley in Basket Case 2 (1990), though it should be mentioned that they make a cameo here in a hilarious subway standoff with Brian and Aylmer that I never saw coming the first time around and left me laughing. Fellow Basket Case alum, Beverly Bonner, also makes an appearance here. The first time I heard Aylmer's distinct voice, I knew it was New York Horror Host and Chiller Theater regular, John Zacherle, uncredited, though how I fished his name out of the dark recesses of my memory is still puzzling, seeing how I'd only caught Zacherle's act a few times during my childhood (probably the last being his 3D presentation of Gorilla at Large on WOR-TV 9 six years earlier), which belonged exclusively to Dr. Shock, and to a lesser degree, Uncle Ted, during his Ghoul School days. Man, I wouldn't trade growing up in my era for anything. So much good stuff, which happens to be what Henenlotter is synonymous with: good genre stuffs a'plenty. Damage scores a perfect four Wops, as an urban horror/comedy/fantasy about addiction, as gritty as it is urbane. My highest recommendation comes along with it.
Tonight's review, a 1967 cult classic as directed by one Freddie Francis, is the fourth in the Frankenstein series for the legendary Hammer Studios, half of a horror double bill with The Mummy's Shroud, and a metaphysically kooky one, at that. Besides the expected Peter Cushing in the lead, reprising his familiar role of Baron Frankenstein, this one also displays the Austrian Playboy Playmate Susan Denberg, dubbed here as the film's producers found her Austrian accent too thick for audiences, and Robert Morris, who'd also appeared in Quartermass and the Pit for the studio the same year. It's a showcase of Francis' ability to turn a disorientated script into an effective slice of gothic horror that may sound a bit like misogynist fantasies acted out for the big screen, but in actuality, stands as an empowering display of beautiful woman in the driver's seat, if by "driver's seat", we really mean "serial murders". Onward!
This imagery takes me back to a certain ultra-cheezy music video from the "Intensities in 10 Cities" album. You know the one...
After a young boy witnesses the public head chop of his criminal father at the guillotine, we see that he's grown into an adult named Hans (Robert Morris), excessively kindhearted for someone that's seen his dear da beheaded, at work as an assistant to Baron Frankenstein (Peter Cushing) and Doctor Hertz (Thorley Walters), and in love with the barkeep's disfigured, crippled daughter, Christina (Susan Denberg), who gets the piss taken out of her quite regularly, by three wealthy deviants named Anton, Karl, and Johan (Peter Bythe, Barry Warren, Derek Fowlds, respectively) who later beat her father to death with canes when he interrupts their late night theft of his wine, and frame Hans for the murder, when he refuses to use his alibi (he was having gimpy in n' out wiff Christina, wudn't he?) and spoil her name. It just so happens, that Frankenstein, having been revived from a cryogenic death-state himself, has invented a soul-trapping apparatus, which he uses on the freshly executed Hans, and when Christina returns to the soul-crushing news and does a suicide flopper into the drink, drowning herself, well, you can see where this is going, can't you?
Harnessing the energy from Madonna's Blonde Ambition stage bra had proved disastrous for these men of science.
If you voted that Frankenstein used his medical knowledge to give a stay of execution to both parties involved, albeit a gruesome one, indeed, then give yourself a banana sticker. While the Baron uses surgery to repair all of Christina's physical flaws, he manages to trap Hans' disembodied soul inside the now beautiful young lady. That's not gonna work out the way you planned it, methinks, unless your plan was "get Hans' vengeful spirit to possess his former love and use her new fleshy wares to trap the three pompous perpetratin' bastards what put them in this metaphysical pickle in the first place". Naturally, Christina systematically snuffs the bastards at the ethereal insistence of her ghostly beau, and Frankenstein and Hertz only manage to piece it all together just as she's cancelling out the last of them for keeps. When the severed head informs her that her vengeful journey has come to an end, against the desperate pleas of Frankenstein, she takes the Nestea plunge into a waterfall, and re-drowns herself, to join her mate in the afterlife. For once, Frankenstein's comeuppance is merely psychological, and he walks away to collect his thoughts, and focus once again, on his work...
Susan Denberg wielding a meat cleaver? Halfway to full mast, with tingly potential.
Denberg would also appear in the "Mudd's Women" episode of Star Trek, which I have seen before, but can't recall whether the actress made an impression on me. I'm sure she did, and I just buried all memories of the poisonous sci-fi in the inner depths of my memory, including those of her. It is what it is, sci-fi dorks, I can't be someone I'm not... Rumors of her flipping her lid on L.S.D. and overdosing in the seventies, would seem to be unsubstantiated, probably. Cushing, as British Horror's elder statesman, would follow this up with Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969), as well as assorted genre fare like Torture Garden (1967), Blood Beast Terror (1968), and Scream and Scream Again (1970). He certainly earned a packet of twenty unfiltered John Player fags, long his favorites, with his performance here. Either way, this is both must-see for film fans, and must own for genre completists, as it has earned an impressive three Wops on the rating scale. Grab a copy!
The Herman's Hermits pop music concert scheduled tonight in the East End, has, regrettably, been cancelled. Health reasons cited.
Next up, we'll close out another Friday the 13th by covering a recent indie horror flick of much critical acclaim, made in the home of my sports-heart, Michigan, and built on an original premise with significantly powerful potential, perhaps a parable of these sexually promiscuous times, and the inevitable std's that sometimes follow such carnal recklessness. Add to that an evocatively muted frame in the tradition of cult classics like Carpenter's Halloween (1978), and a genuine creepiness at certain points very reminiscent of genre films made during that period. There's even a touch of gore, albeit an exclusive peppering, if that. Young actress/ kiteboarder extraordinaire, Maika Monroe looks good, while acceptably purveying a sense of impending dread enough to merit a "scream queen" tag, for sure. What could go wrong with all those factors in it's favor, you ask? Well, that's a pretty good question, but one I'm willing to answer for you, right here...
Wilt Chamberlain's satisfied customer number twenty thousand and one.
At the outset, we watch a scantily clad young lady tearfully fleeing her house and calling her father, only to end up dead n' twisted on the beach by morning. Shit happens. Enter Jay (Maika Monroe), a Michigan college student dealing with a pushy date named Hugh (Jake Weary) who's paranoid about something or other, and after they rock an old school backseat fuck, he chloroforms her (!), and she groggily awakes, tied to an office chair in her drawers, and now, allegedly relentlessly pursued by "It", which can take the form of total strangers or loved ones in it's tireless goal of twisting you into a deceased love-pretzel. Hugh was it's previous target, but he was able to pass it on to Jay, and spare himself the agonizing death, in the process. Nice guy, this Hugh, who then disappears at the sight of a naked woman, clearly, It's latest disguise. After spotting It a few times in different gross guises, and enlisting her sister, Kelly (Lili Sepe) and friends, Paul (Keir Gilchrist), resident awkward spaz, her womanizing neighbor, Greg (Daniel Zavotto), and Yara (Olivia Luccardi), in locating Jeff Redmond (Hugh's real name), and getting the whole story from him about what she now faces.
This pool needs Chloe Sevigny and the dude in the bunny ears.
At Greg's lakehouse Jay learns how to fire a gun, but It makes the scene before too long, causing her to wreck Greg's car in cornfield, and breaking her arm, in the process. At the hospital, Greg volunteers to take on the curse himself, and porks Jay in her hospital bed, much to Paul's dismay. Days pass before It takes the form of Greg himself, as it breaks into his house, takes the form of his own half-dressed mother, and rapes him to death. What a way to go. Paul still can't get laid. In the end they lure It to an abandoned-yet-awfully-clean-somehow public pool, and try to electrocute it with plugged in electrical devices.It takes the form of Jay's father, and tries to brain her in the dome by chucking the devices at her in the pool. Paul, unable to see It, manages to shoot Yara while trying to hit it with bullets, as it pulls Jay underwater. Is this the end for her or will she cheat death to live another day? See for yourselves.
Insert your own backseat/backdoor joke here, you're on your own.
In the year of 2015, I'm afraid I'll have to be the bearer of bad tidings in being the one to report that invisible isn't scary. It simply isn't. I'd be willing to bet that people weren't all that frightened by it in 1933, either. Barbara Hershey's invisibly-pawed hams in The Entity (1982), excluded. And when the invisible premise gives rise to an utterly scareless, yet laugh-packed finale in the public pool, you have to think you've failed on some level, or at least, that's how I see it. Unless you're Michigan-born genre lord, Sam Raimi, who's always been a master of mixing scares with laughs, in my estimation. The horror of sick-looking folk approaching slowly from the background, was also well-covered for years, by George Romero, I think. People attend horror movies to be horrified by the sight of something horrible, or at least, the promise of something horrifying to come. At the end of this one, I just walked away expecting slightly more than I got. Still, you should check it out, just the same, and show support for Michigan-based indie filmmakers. I'm sure we'll see more out of them in the future, and I look forward to it. Two Wops.
It's nice to see Martha rehabbing that surgically reconstructed hip. It was never the same after the "tragic sock hop of '52 ".
Even if you missed tonight's review when it was first broadcast back in 1977 (I didn't, so nyah nyah, motherfuckers. You never missed cool shit like this back then, it was forbidden.), you were probably drawn in years later by the USA Home Video big box vhs with Suzanne Somers' ant-engulfed milk wagons depicted on the sleeve, and really, who'd blame you for that? I picked it up myself, back then, for that very reason, only to be reminded that, for heavy on names it was, with the likes of Robert Foxworth, Lynda Day George, Brian Dennehy, and even Suzanne Somers, in a brief cameo capacity, though she receives top billing for it, all on board, it was pretty light on delivery of the genre goods, though it remains a nostalgic stroll back to a time when television networks created their own quickie cash ins on silver screen trends, and with movies like Kingdom of the Spiders (1977), Grizzly (1976), Day of the Animals (1977) all cashing in at the box office, eco-horror proved too lucrative to ignore for their small screen competitors.
Come n' die on the floor (come n' die on the floor) meet the ants and you're through (meet the ants and you're through)...(sung to the tune of "Three's Company"main theme)
Two construction workers stumble into a swarm of ultra-aggressive ants with a toxic bite in a closed section of the Lakewood Hotel, during an extensive renovation, but before they can warn anyone of the impending poison picnic, they get buried alive. Oops. Now, like a hundred minute episode of Love Boat, we get the main cast of characters; there's the elderly proprietor, Mrs. Adams (Myrna Loy) and her sultry daughter, Valerie (Lynda Day George), who's having flesh-pleasure with the foreman, Mike (Robert Foxworth), who discovers the workers' corpses with his buddy Vince (Bernie Casey! Hot damn, that's outta sight.), and then there's real estate mogul Fleming (Gerald Gordon) actively pursuing his dream of turning the place into a casino, and his busty piece of side trim, Gloria (Suzanne Somers), along for the ride, to sit around in next to nothing and look really fucking good, doing it. Meanwhile, the aggro army of ants assaults a young boy, then kills a cook, and nearly adds Vince to its growing list of fatalities, which Mike has a hunch that they just might be responsible for...
"You little bastards! BAAAAAAAAASTARDS!"
Enter two workers from the Board of Health (Anita Gillette, Bruce French) who make the investigative scene, determining that these ants are not only poisonous, but highly resistant to insecticides. A recipe for disaster if ever I've heard one. Meanwhile, Gloria's slumped dead on the floor, with ant-engulfed titties, another health board bloke bites the dust, and a rag tag group of survivors is being driven upstairs to safety by the ants, who've overtaken the hotel from their massive nest in the pit, and number in the millions. The authorities dig a trench to hold the deadly army back, using water and gasoline to fuel their rescue of the trapped patrons and employees inside. Finally, only Mike, Valerie, and Fleming remain, cornered by ants. Fleming miserably fails his attempt at a triple Lindy to safety out the window, and the two trapped lovers are forced to breathe through tubes as they're rescued by workers in white suits who smoke the little bastards out. But could it all happen again? It could've, but thankfully, it didn't.
"Ahhhhh!!! Somebody loose-topped the pepper shaker on me!"
Super soul brother Bernie Casey was still riding a wave of popularity at the time of this tv movie, one that started with 1969's Guns of the Magnificent Seven, and included genre classics like Gargoyles (1972), Dr. Black, Mr. Hyde (1976), and Cleopatra Jones (1973), while Foxworth showed up in Damien :Omen II (1978) and Prophecy (1979). Somers appeared in Bullitt (1968), American Graffiti (1973), Magnum Force (1973), and even Billy Jack Goes to Washington (1977) before scoring the familiar role of Chrissy Snow, really the only reason you'd ever be caught dead watching Three's Company, besides splitting a side at whatever getup Furley has on, and Stanley Roper's zingers at his horny, homely old wife, but you get where I'm coming from. Myrna Loy was an actress who was huge in the twenties and thirties. Like I was getting to earlier, you may want to revisit this one for nostalgia's sake, and truthfully, seeing it takes me back to grade school, where I was much like the Wop you see before you now, but with more hair, and less tattoos. Still, I've gotta cite it's overall weakness in the delivery of quality seventies eco-horror like many of it's counterparts managed to achieve. On the scale, Manor merits a measly single Wop, worth a look for hardcore horror addicts, perhaps.
Tonight we'll roll with a recent Aussie shocker of some significant renown, at least from my indie vocalist buddy, Smith, whom I'd remembered suggested that it had gathered a lot of buzz on the Tennessee cult scene in between many sips and bips one recent visit. Having watched a lot of movies with Johnny over the years, and appreciating the difficulty it must have given him to tell us about the movie and keep his cheeks sucked in like Terrence Stamp on a wire the whole time, I had to give it a screening in my own personal V.G.S. (vault of genre stimuli), and thus, finally cover it here at the Wop for your reading pleasure. It's like this...
"See? Roman Polanski isn't in there."
Amelia (Essie Davis) is a young widow struggling to pull it all back together in the years since her husband ate car death, leaving her to tend to their son, Samuel (Noah Wiseman), on her own. No one would blame you if you thought she'd done a shit job of it all, unable to drag herself from crippling depression that makes the simplest tasks nearly impossible for her to execute, and then, there's that boy of her's, who hasn't had a voice raised to him in his short life, the non-existent discipline that might have prevented him from becoming the whiniest, poutiest, teat-suckingest emotional retard in the civilized world, and the primary evidence for the necessity of spanking your kids.Add to the maddening mix, a mysterious pop up book that pertains to a mythical, shadowy bloke named Mister Babadook, after the noise he makes when he comes knocking, which is not a good thing, more often than not. Especially when Amelia almost eats glass for dinner, blamed on Babadook by her son, who's definitely not making it any easier for her, breaking her sister's daughter's schnoz when he pushes her out of a treehouse. Maybe you can take up a collection and get this top hatted rascal to rid you of your motherly misery. Nobody'd blame you at this point, lady.
"The Tawny, Scrawny Lion couldn't make it, so he sent me in his place."
The sinister storybook, it seems, cannot be destroyed or disposed of, returning, repaired, to the boy's shelf, with new pages, new taunts and threats, and new pop up visions of destruction where she's offed her son, the family dog, and herself, which terrifies Amelia into going to the police with her fears. When they ask to see the book in question, naturally, she's unable to produce it, having destroyed it again. Amelia begins to see the Babadook herself, along with visions of her dead husband who vows to return if she gives the boy to him. Crazy, man, crazy. Be careful not to let the Babadook possess your body, girl, otherwise, you may suddenly feel inclined to break the dog's neck and try to strangle your son. We can understand you wanting to snuff Sam's candle, but what'd the dog ever do to you, sick bitch? Leave it alone. I won't ruin the finale for you, woprophiles, but let's just say it fits into the fairy tale blueprint that it'd followed up to that point. Check it out.
He's gonna start singing "Street Fighting Man" any second now, just watch.
For a limited time, you could buy a pop-up book like the one in the film, the first two thousand copies were signed by first time director, Jennifer Kent, for eighty clams. However you feel about the movie, that sounds like a pretty choice collectible to get your mitts on, regardless. Personally, I liked it, I just can't help thinking how much more I might have, had it strayed from the pedestrian possession angle (nearly as played out as zombies by now, folks), and perhaps fleshed out Mr. Babadook considerably more. I look forward to further genre work from Kent. As it stands, despite it's flaws, it manages to remain engaging enough to merit two Wops on the ratings scale. It's definitely worth checking out once or twice, if you're looking for something decent to fill an hour and a half or so. Give it a look, you may like it more than I do.
"For the last time, my son did not order the five dollar foot long, Jared!"