Tuesday, March 29, 2016

"Upsidedown Cross" (2016) d/ William Hellfire

Fellow cult film fans, you're gonna want to pay attention to independent director William Hellfire, and his latest effort only serves to further cement that statement; it's an odd little movie, deceptively powerful despite its independent shortcomings, which are few,  and exploitative roots, which run deep,  and absolutely deserves to be on your "to watch" list, if you haven't seen it already. It's as much an arthouse film as it is a quality slice of exploitation, and I found my copy at f.y.e. (of all places) during a recent entertainment run, grabbing it when I recognized Hellfire's name near the top of the case. Your own personal hunt for it should begin there, if you've got one nearby. The compelling, often shocking tale goes something like this...

Who's policing photos over at Photobucket these days? Fucking Mennonites? Seriously.
Nadine (Erin Russ) is a drug-addled runaway teen prostitute, mostly posing for risque snapshots directed by opinionated perverts until she barely escapes a vice raid with her freedom, after giving an undercover cop a tug job. She returns home to find her fanatical mother, Delilah (Colleen Cohan), perched in front of the television set, mesmerized by the infomercials of  Christian televangelists. Yeah, the squat doesn't sound half bad compared to this. Nadine, already suffering from withdrawal and visited by menacing shadows in the night, asks for some time to kick her habit and finally get her life straight. Delilah, on the other hand,  is of the mindset that her daughter is possessed by demons from the pits of Hell, and that her unpredictable conduct can only be cured by the Good Book. Can I get a "Hallelujah!", brothers and sisters-ah!

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"Should I pop the tits tonight...or split the beaver?"
To further compound matters, Delilah calls upon the services of a wandering preacher (David Yow) to exorcise the evil spirits that she believes have a vice grip upon her daughter's eternal soul, paying him an extortionate fee for his services. At first, Nadine plays along with the preacher's archaic rituals, even feigning possession to keep her mother happy, but it isn't long before she realizes she may have committed a major faux pas in doing so, seeing as this particular preacher has a darker streak than anyone involved could have imagined. It all goes deliciously downhill from here, and I'm not about to spoil it for you.

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You've got meeee tied up in love! (cue: 1984 Ted Nugent guitar solo)
Hellfire has directed countless films, most with very curious titles, indeed... like Orgasm Torture in Satan's Rape Clinic (2004), Duck! The Carbine High Massacre (1999), and I, Asphyxia: The Electric Cord Strangler III (2000). I'm gonna have to hunt down copies of some of these, for sure. Fans of Jesus Lizard will instantly recognize David Yow, who besides churning out alt rock for decades, is also an actor, director, and published author. A college buddy of mine was a huge Lizard fan. He's good here. You can find Erin Russ in things like Porkchop (2011) and The Bunnyman (2011). Colleen Cohan has appeared in The Green Monster (2009) and Mr. Hush (2010), among others. On the scale, Cross earns an impressive three Wops from me, seeing how much I enjoyed the damned thing, and all. Check it out for yourselves, you won't be disappointed.

upsidedowncross torture
"Six inches of cold water! Six inches of cold water! Six inches of cold water!"
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