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.

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"Six inches of cold water! Six inches of cold water! Six inches of cold water!"
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R.I.P. Patty Duke

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                    12/14/46 - 03/29/16

Monday, March 28, 2016

"Symptoms" (1974) d/ Jose Ramon Larraz

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Of the two genre films that cult director Jose' Ramon Larraz completed in 1974, the sapphic and graphic Vampyres is more well known, and thus, easier to come by, but it's his other, more subdued effort that year that we'll focus upon tonight here at the Wop. As the story goes, Symptoms was entered into the Cannes Film Festival that year, vanished and showed back up on British television very briefly in the eighties, and lived on as washed out-looking bootleg rips from the VHS days, with all original source materials allegedly missing or destroyed, at least until the folks at Mondo Macabro announced that they'd secured the negatives and a remastered special edition Blu-ray was scheduled for release this coming spring. The film stars Angela Pleasance, the eldest of Donald's five daughters, who has appeared in things like Hitler: His Last Ten Days (1973), From Beyond the Grave (1974), and The Godsend (1980), all while being a dead ringer for her father, a man who brought many memorable antagonists to the big screen during his own career.

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In his new female disguise, Blofeld has taken to stroking a different type of pussy, indeed.
Anne (Lorna Heilbron) is invited to spend some time at a decaying, remote, old estate in the English countryside by her timid, reclusive friend, Helen (Angela Pleasence), an odd bird with an affinity for horticulture and paper doll cutting. She fancies burning them in the fireplace, directly afterwards. Might want to take note of that. The pixie-coiffed, chain smoking Anne has had a recent row with her beau, and volunteers to help rehabilitate her sheltered mate, despite her ambiguity towards the current whereabouts of her last live-in partner, Cora (Marie-Paule Mailleux), who may or may not be the spectral dame intently flitting around the swampy grounds in wisps of mysterious fog. The groundskeeper, Grady (Peter Vaughn), offers very little in the way of calming reassurance, creeping about and eyeballing the troubled woman from a distance.

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Anne (Lorna Heilbron) brings Former Lee Warmer a midnight snack.
Extended periods of tedium lead Anne to venture out of her quarters after dark, seeking the source for eerie late night moans of despair, only to find the delicate mouse double-clicking her own mouse in her own chambers. Masturbation aside,  there's still the matter of a mysterious locked door in said bedroom, that inevitably leads to attic filled with dark secrets. Don't they all, really? Her curiosity peaked, she investigates further, after a secret reconciliation with her boyfriend in town, which Helen has taken to look upon with disdain, having developed a bit of a crush on the old girl, in the process. She ascends to the attic, finding Cora's luggage neatly stored away in a corner. Didn't she leave earlier? If she's gone, why has she left her belongings behind...oh boy. I can see where this is all leading, and you can too, now, very soon,  thanks to the thorough chappies at Mondo Macabro.

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Making late night jam sandwiches leads to the arrival of jam sandwiches (see: slang). 
I should also mention Angela has shown up more recently in Scorsese's Gangs of New York (2002), though I haven't picked her out in all the times I've viewed it yet, sadly. Giovanni Lombardo Radice, I singled out immediately. Go figure. You've probably noticed Peter Vaughn in things like Ken Russell's Savage Messiah (1972), Peckinpah's Straw Dogs (1971), and more recently, BBC's Doc Martin series. I look forward to revisiting this one when the new release drops, as I'm sure the improved quality will intensify an impactful feeling of claustrophobia and atmosphere that one can only hint upon in a ghosty, washed out vhs dub like mine. The shitty print and sometimes painfully slow build to this effort force me to lay a median deuce upon it, though I surely enjoyed it, already a fan of the Larraz films I've seen to date. Check it out!

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No need to drive this one crazy, she's already there.
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Friday, March 18, 2016

"Bigfoot : The Lost Coast Tapes" (2012) d/ Corey Grant

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Tonight, we return to Bigfoot country for another recent genre effort featuring everybody's favorite elusive and mysterious wood booger (more or less...). That it's also another found fooage flick a la Blair Witch Project (1999) and sixteen million consequent clones of the shoestring budget variety shouldn't sway you from checking it out, at least once, as I'm here to tell you that it was pretty entertaining despite the obviously meager foundation, and I'm confident that you might just just come away with similar feelings to mine about it, after all, even if screening it may not sway you one way or the other on such a famed and folkloric creature's existence in the end.

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"This must be where your mother tried to claw her way in last night..."
We meet Sean (Drew Rausch), who besides being a sort of poor man's Tom Cruise, is an independent filmmaker looking to bounce back from a prior nervous breakdown with a reality show pitch involving an internet-famous cryptozoologist named Drybeck (Frank Ashmore) who boasts of possessing undeniable physical evidence of Bigfoot's existence: a dead body. Sean has assembled a patchwork film crew consisting of Darryl (Rich McDonald), his trusty cameraman, Robyn (Ashley Wood), his producer/spiritualist/former squeeze, and Keven (Noah Weisburg), the impromptu sound man forced into action when his first choice, Curtis turns him down,  repeatedly reminding him that black people don't camp or fare well out in the woods, especially when looking for Bigfoot. Homie don't play dat Gigantopithecus sheee-iiit.

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"There's a fuckload of nitrites in this sample. I think Bigfoot has a urinary tract infection."
After collecting his seventy-five thousand dollar fee from Sean (significantly less than Hillary's 225,000 speaking fee, y'know), Drybeck blindfolds the crew, confiscates their cellies, and drives them off to a remote cabin in the middle of the woods where things quickly take a turn for the familiar: the 'Squatch hunter dramatically weaves a few campfire tales and abruptly splits on the film crew with the only ride out after something takes out the electrified fence around the perimeter, scratches up the exterior of the joint, and even pisses on it (!) that evening. Do our heroes unanimously decide to recoup their losses and hike back to their vehicle immediately? Of fucking course not. Keep those cameras rolling, no matter what. Sean goes cinematic dictator with dollar signs in his eyes, Robin burns candles in the forest and goes New Age, Keven plays the neurotic Jew card and abandons his co-workers, and Darryl keeps a-filming, as his share of the profits increases by the minute. Do you smell a twist ending in the works? Because I sure do...

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Keven (Noah Weisburg) immediately regrets agreeing to an adult bris.
If you're looking for an impressive 'Squatch suit on display here, you're fucking sunk, matey. Instead, director Corey Grant gives you a much more authentic feeling cryptid experience, peppered with "blink and you'll miss it" glimpses of large hairy shadows darting across the background, camouflaged eye shine, oversized footprints in the mud, sinister growls in the dark...more substantial than anything these "professional" crypto-goobers have been able to turn up in the last forty or so years researching in the field, when you think about it. Like I said earlier, pretty entertaining for budget-restrained genre fare, enough so to merit a pair of Wops on the scale. If this all sounds like your cuppa, give it a look for yourselves.

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"...all the strawberry tartlets....are...gone."
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R.I.P. Larry Drake

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                     02/21/50 - 03/17/16

Monday, March 14, 2016

"Blood Stalkers" (1975) d/ Robert W. Morgan

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After seeing his familiar, inquisitive bald pate turn up in Bigfoot: Man or Beast? (1972), Monsters: Mysteries or Myths? (1974), and Mysterious Monsters (1975), cult audiences were surely wondering what was next for Robert W. Morgan, a "tough, hard-driving man". Tonight's review should answer that question for most.
The familiar stench permeating the air this time around doesn't roll off the hairy back of a sasquatch per se, but rises instead as a fervid reek from the theater's projector, a foul reminder of what can happen when you set out to make a movie, but aren't exactly certain how to accomplish it. It goes like this...

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"...you folks have any spare Antiseen tickets?", queries Pip (David Farris Legge).
Two couples station wagon it down to the swampy goodness of Bumblefuck, Florida for a two week lovers' getaway (Really?). There's Mike (Jerry Albert), an obnoxious, pudgy "performer" (translation: homosexual, as evidenced by his polyester slacks and miniature schnauzer),  and Jeri (Celea Ann Cole), a ginger brick shithouse with zero chemistry towards her ahem...man, as evidenced by the way she smothers him with forced Grandma kisses and plays with his face meat during their overly long, poorly lit, dramatic dialogues. There's also Kim (Toni Crabtree), a happenin', skinny dippin' chick who ties off her tops just the way we like it, and Daniel (Ken Miller), a pock-faced war hero who may or may not have blown up a house full of civilians, according to Mike, who claims he doesn't know the whole story, but then relates the whole story, anyway. They're warned against further road trippin' hijinks by an ornery, busted straw hat wearin' gas station attendant who resembles a rural methed out Lance Henriksen, and warns of their impending arrival in "Blood Stalker country".

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"Oh noooooo! Jeri found my candy dish and all my Joan Crawford postcards!"
They run into Jarvis, Lester, and Pip (Morgan himself, John Meyer, and David Farris Legge, respectively), and though these cats look as though they're about to break into a lower tier regional wrasslin' promo, they're actually the poach-crazy bad guys. Also, it should be mentioned that there's a wandering loon who communicates with pops, whistles, and wild hand gestures. Yeah, pop pop pop pop to you, too. Some weird muddy footprints, studio-enhanced panther growls, and a mutilated lap dog later, Daniel leaves the girls in Mike's protection (good luck with that) while he slo-mo runs for help over what fluctuates from a repetitive gospel soundtrack to something you'd hear while Buddy Ebsen lays the shoulder on a fleeing purse snatcher on network tv. Meanwhile, something hairy emerges from an upstairs room at the cabin...is it a blood stalker stalking his daily blood? Is it the most man-like...human gorilla that you've never seen? I won't spoil it for you here, not even in pops and whistles, but mainly because the expiration date on this one came and went over forty years ago,  by now.

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I always wondered how you soulless gingers got your hair so red.
Interestingly enough, Morgan also penned the script for Mako: The Jaws of Death (1977), a movie by William Grefe', a regional cult director I actually appreciate. You'll no doubt remember Toni Crabtree as "Hooker" in The Greatest (1977), or "Mona" in 1981's Eyes of a Stranger. She also turned up in Police Academy 5: Assignment: Miami Beach (1988). Ken Miller was a silver screen veteran by the time of his appearance here, having nabbed credits as an extra in things as far back as East of Eden (1955), I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957), and Attack of the Puppet People (1958). Celea Ann Cole was known as Cissie Colpitts when she made her acting debut in 1971's Billy Jack, but she later moved on to projects like Porky's II: The Next Day (1983) and tv gigs on shows like Laverne and Shirley, Love Bat, and Too Close for Comfort. Anyway, I applaud the "twenty-four countries" that saw fit to ban Morgan's departure from groovy Bigfoot documentaries, and only wish I followed suit by skipping out on the weatherbeaten Vidmark vhs copy I snagged from a long defunct mom and pop outfit, in which case, I wouldn't be here laying the old single Wop down, playing the same harmonica melody over and over again...

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I was gonna axe to see yer tits, but somebody beat me to it.
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Friday, March 11, 2016

"Dressed to Kill" (1980) d/ Brian DePalma

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 From Sisters (1973) to Carrie (1976), Blow Out (1981) to Scarface (1983), Brian De Palma has done an admirable job providing genre entertainment to audiences, and his violent, sexy 1980 homage to Hitchcock, Dressed to Kill,  is another good film to check out for those interested in his work, or fans of gialli-styled psychological thrillers. This one was all over premium cable at the outset of the eighties, a decade where I was much less appreciative of Michael Caine, despite the memorably musical pop plea from U.K. two-tone outfit, Madness, that came in 1984, and fell on dead ears at the time. Despite my strong dislike, I usually tuned in long enough for the straight razor action, and Nancy Allen in garters, stockings, and a bra, in all honesty, and with no apologies.

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When Angie's randy in the shower, better get yer Dickinson.
When frustrated Kate (Angie Dickinson) unsuccessfully tries to seduce her therapist, Dr. Elliott (Michael Caine), it leads to a wild, random one night stand with a stranger in a cab after some wordless flirtation at the museum. The extra-marital hijinks continue for hours at his pad, until she writes her lover a note while he sleeps, accidentally discovering a note proclaiming that he's contracted an std on his desk while she's at it. Ooofah. In the mad scramble to split, she leaves her wedding ring on the night table, and returns to recover it, only to meet sudden straight razor-death at the hateful hand of a big ugly blonde woman in the elevator. A call girl named Liz (Nancy Allen) is the first to stumble upon the body, unwittingly catching a glimpse of Kate's killer in the process, drawing the suspicions of lumpy police detective Marino (Dennis Franz) and ultimately,  the attention of the ugly homicidal blonde in sunglasses.

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Once she was "Feathers" in Rio Bravo (1959). Now, she's "Cadaver" in Rio Blood-o.
Luckily for Liz, Kate's son Peter (Keith Gordon) is a tech spaz-in-training with vengeance on his mind, and he's soon rigging audio surveillance equipment and time lapse cameras all about the place for his wronged hooker pal, as they try to get to the bottom of it all. Meanwhile, Dr. Elliott receives creepy, threatening messages on his answering machine from "Bobbi", one of his former patients that happens to be furious at his lack of support for a desired upcoming sex change operation (in the days before a vocal alphabet coalition could march for zir rights...hir rights? Eir rights? We never had problems like this when there were only two genders...), having warned his/her current doctor of potential danger within his new patient, instead. It's not long before Liz and Peter manage to capture the killer on camera and both amateur sleuths are subsequently stalked by the homicidal he-she who may or may not be Michael Caine-in-drag, as horrible a conviction as that is, to hold, and even more so, to behold, as you'll find out when you screen this one for yourselves...

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Shinga, momma, shinga! Fairie Tale Theater was never like this!
Liv Ullman and Sean Connery both were forced to pass on roles in tonight's film, leaving Angie Dickinson and Michael Caine to famously replace them. Speaking of replacement, Angie's sexy shower bod was generously provided by Victoria Lynn Johnson, 1977 Penthouse Pet of the Year, a doubly good double. You'll also see Brandon Maggart in there, who's not only a Sesame Street vet and Harry the psycho Santa from Christmas Evil (1980), but the father of singer Fiona Apple, as well. The voice of Bobbi was provided by William Finley, a DePalma favorite who you'll probably remember from his work in things like Phantom of the Paradise (1974), Eaten Alive (1976), The Funhouse (1981), and Silent Rage (1982). On the scale, Dressed earns itself three impressive Wops, an entertaining ride through the psycho-sexual mind. Check it out.

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Fact:  Michael Caine makes a bloody awful bird.
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R.I.P. Keith Emerson

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                                 11/02/44 - 03/10/16

"7 Man Army" (1976) d/ Chang Cheh

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What would you have if you packed the top Shaw Brothers stars of the day (Ti Lung, Fu Sheng, Chen Kuan Tai, Chi Kuan Chun...even David Chiang!) into a two hour Chinese version of "Zulu", as directed by Chang Cheh? Well, we're about to find out as we tackle 7 Man Army, or "Six Chinese Soldiers With Interesting Back Stories and an Orphaned Kid Hold Off Twenty Thousand Japanese Troops During the War", as it should probably be known. If you're thinking "I'd better install some seat belts on my sectional sofa before I pop this one in...", nobody in their right mind could feasibly blame you here.

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"Put your muscles away already, Chu," pleads Private He (Fu Sheng).
In the midst of an epic battle between the heroic Chinese and those stereotypically dirty Japs, six soldiers rise to the bellicose occasion in keeping their homeland strewn with the bloody dead bodies for the nationalist cause, epically heroic cats like Battle Commander Wu (Ti Lung), Private Bai (David Chiang), Private He (Fu Sheng), Private Jiang (Chen Kuan Tai), Private Pan (Li Yi-Min), and Private Chu (Chi Kuan Chun). In any other war, a handful of mere soldiers would be soon dispatched under the might of thousands of  Imperial troops with superior firepower and weaponry, but these men have all suffered under the Japanese heel long enough, and it's time to let their gung fu do the talking. The Japs send in a squadron of Mongol mercenaries( "Beardy" and Johnny Wang), as led by Colonel Hu (Liu Chia Hui), but even these ruthless murderers in Sherlock Holmes hats are no match for the plucky Chinese troops, who have only just adopted a war orphan (Ting Wa Chung), while defending a captured fortress from the advancing foot soldiers, no less. Hot damn.

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"Screw what anybody thinks. We'll start a Mongolian Sherlock Holmes Hat Appreciation Society, as of right now."
In each battle, just when you'd expect the bombardment of tank shells and bullets to intensify, it stops dead, and the Chinese and Japanese square off in large scale martial contests. Luckily for the outnumbered Chinese, the advantageous Imperialists choose to use their rifles as short staffs, rather than shoot them at point blank range, which would negate the defenders' many strategic grenade tosses that send any Japanese caught in frame magically sprawling ass o'er tit through the sky in an impressive puff of smoke. Gung Fu also never shrinks from battle against Karate. Never forget that. Several dramatic flashbacks later, the Japanese finally take the gloves off and send in an insurmountable number of troops and tanks, leaving the orphaned boy in charge of Private Bai's gold rings gift to his wife, who he's treated horribly prior to the current war business. In case I fall in battle, make sure she gets them, boy! I'll give you a sec to Kleenex up any sniffles you might be experiencing. You already see the end coming from a mile away, so I won't bother elaborating upon it, here.
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"...like fish in a barrel, eh Suzuki?"
You'll recognize some future Venoms like Kuo Chui and Lu Feng in there as extras; Philip Ko Fei, Miao Tian, and Fung Ngai, who made a career out of playing Japanese bad guys for Shaw Brothers and Golden Harvest, are in there, too. If you're sitting down to watch this one, there's a good chance you aren't going to hold the production to any degree of historical accuracy, and you shouldn't. It's a balls out pro-Chinese bayonet-slashing, Imperialist head-cracking, flag waving good time full of stage blood and explosions, starring all your favorites in top form (...even David Chiang, for real). Despite the running time, it never drags or fails to entertain. And of course I was rooting for Gordon Liu, "Beardy", and Johnny Wang all the way. Three Wops. Hunt it down.

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"There'll be children with robins and flowers, as sunshine caresses each new waking hour.", croons Battle Commander Wu (Ti Lung).
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Tuesday, March 8, 2016

"Society" (1989) d/ Brian Yuzna

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Despite the phenomenon of hipsters' hot mustachioed air romanticizing the eighties, it was a decade with just as much suck as any of the others in recent history. Despite being completed in 1989, Brian Yuzna's Society, his directorial debut and the subject of our focus tonight, was shelved until 1992. Despite having a place in the Top 100 lists of what looks like a significant amount of horror fans today, Society can also be considered a horribly dated, overly long,  mostly unfunny reminder of all the embarrassing clothes, hairstyles, synth-driven shit pop, and attitudes that those of us who endured all ten years of that inane decade in person have been trying to forget (for the most part) for thirty-plus years. One man's half-checkered Chess King sweatshirt is another man's pair of Stars n' Stripes bellbottom dungarees, I suppose...

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In the eighties, I had little trouble achieving very similar trajectory with mine own fizz.
Bill (Billy Warlock) is discovering that he's unlike the other members of his immediate Beverly Hills family unit, choosing to come off like a down-to-earth poor man's Charlie Sheen rather than putting on airs of snobbish, affluent detachment. His high falootin' parents seem to favor his snooty sister, Jenny (Patrice Jennings) over him, often to uncomfortable-as-a-Penn-State-shower-with-Sandusky levels. His feelings of alienation lead him to the couch of resident head shrinker, Dr. Cleveland (Ben Slack), with whom he confides a feeling of having been adopted, relating a freaky contortionist vibe while stumbling in on his sister's shower, and later an audio cassette culled by her teen stalker ex, Blanchard,  from her "coming out party", which sounds more than a little like an incestual feeding frenzy initiated by his parents (!) that degenerates into a debutante dick down (Zingers like "First we dine, then we copulate!" can be heard by all).

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The room was empty as I staggered from my bed, I couldn't bear the image racing through my head...
Meanwhile, Bill's been keeping his vapid blonde cheerleader/girlfriend, Shauna (Heidi Kozak), in the dark about a not-secret-in-the-least crush he's developed on the dark, mysteriously malleable Clarissa (Devin DeVasquez), who, by the looks of it, beats Shauna on Kama Sutra expansion points alone. Her weirdo mother seems to have developed a taste for human hair, for some reason. He's also bullied on the beach by a preppy crew of Biff's and Chad's, who dangle an invite to an upcoming exclusive party of theirs over his head like a savory doggie treat. At least, until Blanchard dies in a car accident, and an invitation to the very party he'd been desperately trying to get into, inexplicably arrives in the mail. It's right about here that the film speeds into a lengthy, noxiously disgusting climax that shouts, "This is not Ferris Bueller's Day Off!". Needless to say, it's something you're going to have to experience for yourselves at least once before you die. I'll say that much.

"Ahuhuhhuhhuh...shut up, Beavis...dumbass."
Yuzna, who produced the original 1985 cult classic, Re-Animator, also directed two Re-Animator sequels, two "The Dentist" movies, the fourth Silent Night, Deadly Night sequel, and the third Living Dead sequel, so he's obviously not opposed to hooking a hulking, fragrant cheese wheel to a film projector reel, in fact he's made quite a career out of it, to date. This one's just not one of my favorites. That said, I certainly appreciate the iconic, unsettling effects work of Screaming Mad George on display here. The level of queasiness he achieves with it on this film is impressive, indeed. Though it isn't a cup of tea I'd ever regularly sip at, I could see others easily having a greater fondness for it than I do. One Wop.

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Four double dipped pre-orgy blotters might have been overdoing it, slightly.
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Sunday, March 6, 2016

"Nightmares" (1983) d/ Joseph Sargent

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Originally developed as episodes of brisk ABC network horror anthology, Darkroom, the segments of tonight's review ended up in production purgatory when the series turned its toes up in 1982, until its cinematic release a year later perked up with some added violence for theatergoers would cement its place in history as the best horror anthology of 1983 not named Twilight Zone: The Movie. Recent years would see it fetch some lofty prices as an o.o.p. full-frame dvd release from Anchor Bay, so much so, in fact, you'd think it came with... a bloody Pieces (1982) jigsaw puzzle or somefink.

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There's nothing to fear but FEAR itself, or in this case, their homicidal lead singer.
The first segment, "Terror in Topanga" is a cautionary slice of urban legend involving a beautiful, young brunette smoker (Cristina Raines) who ignores her husband's warnings and takes to the dark, open road for another carton (!) of smokes, despite news of an escaped lunatic lurking in the darkness. I'd weather a fucking zombie apocalypse for smokes' sake, so I feel this chick. The second, is entitled "The Bishop of Battle", and centers around a teenage gamer named J.J. (Emilio Estevez) who obliterates top scores while tuned into a Walkman full of punk tunes, with the mythological thirteenth level of one particular game set in his sights. Maybe he takes his mania a bit too far in the end when he breaks into the arcade at night for one-on-one battle with the titular bishop, but anyone who's tackled the Criminal Mastermind Challenge on GTAOnline (nailed it, for the record.) can sympathize, surely.

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Totally rad graphics: I'll hold out until "Bishop of Battle" comes out for the Philips CD-I console, man.
The third, entitled "The Benediction", focuses on a priest (Lance Henriksen) who's lost his faith after the death of one of his young parishioners sends him packing his bags and driving off into the desert searching for answers. Too bad, the Devil himself has picked the same day to play Road Hog with any former clergymen he encounters, in his bad ass customized black pick up. Finally, in the silliest segment of the evening, we meet a family dealing with an extraordinary pest problem in "Night of the Rat", where an invincible, oversized German rat god stakes claim to the nice, chewy walls behind Steve and Claire's (Richard Masur, Veronica Cartwright) cupboards.

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"I'm the king of shadow animals...", barks Lance Henriksen. "Here's a vulture..."
Despite a recent BD release from the fine folks over at Scream Factory, this one still fetches between twenty and forty bucks in all its legendary Anchor Bay full-frame dvd glory for some unknown reason; less than the hundred plus it once commanded from kooky completists out there, but still pretty steep, considering. If you hadn't noticed that "Lee James Jude", the backseat killer in the Terror in Topanga segment, is none other than Lee Ving, frontman of punk outfit FEAR, then you just weren't paying close enough attention. You'll also see Billy Jacoby and Frank Zappa's daughter, Moon Unit, in the second segment, and child actress Bridgette Andersen, who tragically overdosed at twenty-one, in the final story. Director Sargent spent decades in the chair on episodes of everything from Longstreet to Star Trek to Kojak and Lassie. He also directed The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974) and, uh... Jaws: The Revenge (1987). Two Wops oughta cover the tab for tonight's entertainment, and uh, keep the change.

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"Buy our daughter a bed with peanut butter-flavored bedposts...what could go wrong, you said!"
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