Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Bunny, Kill! Kill! (2006) - Directed by Chad Ferrin

Sometimes, our holiday wishes come true—mine sure did. Even though technically I had made this wish before Easter rolled around. But anyway, yes, it’s true—our wishes sometimes get granted on the holidays. Consider, for example, the wish of little Nicholas, the mentally challenged boy, who wished for his mom’s boyfriend to die a long, slow death and for his father to come back from the dead. See? Miracles do happen. But I have a wish too.

The movie opens as too few movies do—with a man in a bunny mask shooting and killing a convenience store clerk. We see the title card for less than one second, and then it’s off to a tender family centered on Mindy and her retarded son Nicholas, about to celebrate Easter, which Nicolas is obsessed with. Mindy’s new boyfriend, Remington, shows up, and we are instantly aware that he was the dude who shot the clerk. Still, he seems like a tender guy, at least until he wakes up and prowls through the house (in a Speedo!) and threatens Nicolas with violent death. Incidentally, Nicolas meets up with a seemingly-leprous homeless man who gives him the “real Easter Bunny” (which is pretty cute) and tells him a message about how the Easter Bunny “punishes” bad boys. Director Ferrin, you do know you’re not making Silent Night, Deadly Night, yes?

Halfway through the movie we reach an interesting point. Mindy is out of the house for work. Remington (nice name, by the way) invites over his creeper friend. This friend is, despite being a complete monster, hilarious. Fat, asthmatic, and clad in a Hawaiian shirt, Rem’s seemingly-nameless friend is a child-molester who brings with him a case full of pills, syringes, and dildos (!) and then proceeds to chase down Nicolas, wheezing his name the whole time, until a bunny-mask man stabs him in the eye and kills him with a power drill. Here the movie changes from a semi-innocent banal slasher to pure trash. And my, is it wonderful. Hookers! Cocaine! Boobs! Toilets! Farting noises! Comic book writer Alan Moore! (I think.) Insane twist endings! And here’s where I made my wish and watched it come true before my eyes…

See, I’m swiftly beginning to comprehend the history of trash cinema. It has been a quest lasting for six years, since I first saw I Eat Your Skin in 2005. After that, I began to accumulate my viewing into an obsession. From my point of observation, trash cinema ran its course into the 1990s before it petered out. Men like David “The Rock” Nelson and Todd Sheets carry trash on past that point, with films like The Giant Horny Toad Monster (2010) and Nightmare Asylum (1992), but the thought of true crap-cinema ever reanimating seems unlikely. Then, I run into movies like Easter Bunny, Kill! Kill! Original. Hateful. Respectful and yet sleazy. Dark. Hilarious. Gory. Weird. Insane. It’s like the old days.

That second half is what matters. Pure, uncut, fantastic trash for the whole family (well, no) served up for the 21st Century. Is it wrong to say I’m in love? It’s possible.

All I have to say is—you must see this film. At all costs. Even if it’s not Easter. Trust me. It will make your wishes come true.

~ Adam Mudman

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Beast That Killed Women (1965) - Directed by Barry Mahon

Ah, that clever bastard, Barry Mahon. Never offensive to anyone but the fundamental—never insulting to anything save the sense of quality. He was and perhaps still is the avatar of the God of Sixties Sleaze. Let us never forget.

You have to remember that The Beast That Killed Women was from a different time. To those who are dedicated to the history of porn, the closest thing humankind had to cinema porn was the stag film; those movies that you paid a nickel to see when looking into those big boxes where ladies took their close off. Surreal as all hell and barely sexy. As time went on, and we reached the 1960s, mankind had a desire for video porn but couldn’t move past the stag film. This was also at the time, however, when the horror genre was developing out of the monster genre. It’s in this weird kingdom of almost-porn and innocent monster horror that we find today’s film. Let’s take a quick peek. (You can mail me your nickels later.)

There’s this monster, right? You could say he’s a real gorilla—in fact, he is a real gorilla! Ha, I kid. The gorilla is hiding out at this nudist camp. We get a literally never-ending stream of stag film style butts-‘n’-boobs. The guys all wear shorts, so there is nary a hot dog in sight. The gorilla kills someone—cops show up. Then the gorilla throws a guy in the water, and he sets up our frame story from the beginning, set in a hospital. The guy’s wife decides to play bait for the gorilla, and the cops shoot him down. The camp reopens for business and the Something Weird Video fodder reopens with it for about ten minutes, where we squeeze in a couple of jokes and a ham-fisted ending. The entire thing goes nowhere. But you can follow the cash, and that leads to some distant meaning. The God of Sixties Sleaze is watching down on us from His Heaven of stained dollar bills and mountains of holy boobs.

I hope people understand this particular genre that The Beast That Killed Women belongs to. In the ‘60s, the era where people made movies in the way that they made plays was gone. (Ironically, stag films happen to come from that particular age.) Just as so many “writers” today realize that there are big bucks in coming out of books, people had realized that riches beyond one’s wildest dreams were in movies. It triggered this sort of indefinite movement that I believe still carries on its secret, intangible agenda to the modern age. Exploitation arrives whenever people realize money is present, and this was no different; so on-the-cheap movies that took on specific, audience-general properties appeared up. There are two things which will universally sell with people that have always done so: naked women, and monsters. The two together invariably make a mint for the person who did the creating. And it is here, at a sort of Golden Age of Cheapo Sleaze, that dozens of movies like The Beast That Killed Women were churned out at insane speeds. The movies are not meant to be savored or enjoyed or placed in a fictional hall of classics that sits only in the mind. But when the men and women who made these things have moved onto other ventures…why not?

The movie is certainly enjoyable. All of Mahon’s films are. They are so whacked out that they take on a similar feel to Doris Wishman’s immortal A Night to Dismember. They feature crackling prints, horrible acting, little plot, barebones continuity, and random moments of insanity that the director no doubt giggled over. I’ve seen this as well as the maddeningly dull Blood of the Zombie (1961) and the tentacled abomination that mortals call Santa Claus and the Ice Cream Bunny (1972). I wonder what I would say to Barry if I met him face-to-face. He’s a weird ‘un.

So, all in all, I’d recommend The Beast That Killed Women. But it’s not like it’s meant to be one of the greats. You can make it what you want it to be, and I think that’s something that’s not all bad.

~ Adam Mudman

Thursday, April 14, 2011

976-EVIL (1988) - Directed by Robert Englund

This flick’s main antagonist scared the living wahoo out of me as a kid. Stephen Geoffrey’s demonic character, Hoax Wilmot is even more evil and terrifying than his Evil Ed character in the popular 80s flick Fright Night.

Hoax is picked on unremittingly by a group of high school bullies that eventually cause Hoax to conjure up the dark one down below via a HORRORscope phone line. All hell breaks loose as Hoax makes a bloodcurdling transformation from school geek to demonic beast.
It is important to note that this was directed by Freddy Krueger himself, Robert Englund in his first directorial effort. Although the film garnered only mediocre reviews, this Krueger-helmed entry used the dead teenager formula in a more productive way then others of that late 80s era. A noteworthy viewing that will either elicit a chuckle or a yawn.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Fellini Satyricon (1969) - Directed by Federico Fellini

**Although technically not on the horror level, Fellini Satyricon has garnered a huge cult following because of its intoxicating visuals, dreamlike ambience, and light exploitation features that were atrocious for the era.

File:SatyriconPoster.pngI initially stumbled upon the film Fellini Satyricon at the behest of one of my favorite Norwegian Black Metal bands, aptly named, Satyricon. I’ve come to always push the boundaries when confronted with words and the meanings behind them and Satyricon was no different. Upon unsheathing its origin, Gaius Petronius Arbiter (or Titus Petronius…whoever you believe), his background of writing the “first” novel, and Fellini’s grandiose achievement at creating this epic film --all while participating in a Satyricon (the band) discography, I was instantly mesmerized by the sheer decadence and the aesthetically shrewd filmmaking Satyricon so proudly exhibits. 

The film loosely follows Petronius’ fragmented novel (passages were lost prior to discovery or unable to be saved through preservation) about the misadventures of narrator and former gladiator Encolpius, his 16 year old lover Giton, and his former lover and friend Ascyltus. The film deviates substantially from the original source material, injecting its own morbid fantasies while recreating and eliminating original scenes. One cannot be irate at Federico Fellini for his attempts at sculpting a polished and polarized view of Rome during the rule of the eccentric and dominant Emperor Nero.
A scene from TRIMALCHIO'S play of Julius Cesar.
The film begins with our protagonists, Encolpius (the enigmatic Martin Potter), berating his former lover and flat-mate, Ascyltus (Hiram Keller), for taking his love slave, Giton (the very feminine Max Born) and then selling him for a profit. The two tussle in an amusing and highly laugh-out-loud way as Ascyltus leads Encolpius to the buyer of Giton, famous actor and eccentric theater owner, Trimalchio (Mario Romagnoli in a scene stealing role). Encolpius retrieves Giton (with the help from some Roman guards) and sets off back to the massive tenement building that he lives. They eventually meet back with Ascyltus, with Encolpius deciding that it would be best if the two went separate ways, dividing their stuff amongst each other. Ascyltus demands that Giton choose who he would like to go with, inevitably choosing to leave with him. This leaves Encolpius heartbroken, a massive earthquake disrupting his despair to level the entire tenement building. 
Martin Potter as ENCOLPIUS.
From there, the film branches off into different storylines, encompassing many different themes and ideas while introducing colorful characters and impressive production designs by Luigi Scaccianoce. Amongst the many diverse characters introduced are an eccentric poet (Salvo Randone), a wealthy freeman (Joseph Wheeler), and a behemoth Minotaur (Luigi Montefiori—known to the horror, cult, and exploitation cinema world as George Eastman, goremeister extraordinaire).
The promenade leading to the the rich freeman couple's dinner/suicide.
Fellini had already established himself as a primo film director with such titles as La Strada, La Dolce Vita and already under his belt. His version of Satyricon has stood the test of time and garnered many high praises from film enthusiast and lax theatergoers alike. There is something for everyone in this film. The meaning of life, the choices sculpted by destiny, and the political and economical struggles prevalent within every society ever formed on Earth scream for acceptance and appreciation amongst the film dirt and cigarette burns of this celluloid masterpiece. Fellini Satyricon is a permanent benchmark in mainstream arthouse cinema. No film will ever encompass the quintessence embedded within this film of decadence and morality. Long Live Fellini!

- Ray of the Dead

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Pig Hunt (2008) - Directed by James Issac

If you've ever had that desire to track down a hippie-fed, 3000 pound wild boar between tokes in Humboldt County, then James Issac's PIG HUNT (2008) will meet your twisted (and I don't mean Zig-Zags) need. Starring Travis Aaron Wade, Tina Huang, and Howard Johnson Jr. as Bay Area hunting buddies who "get away from it all" by taking a hunting trip to Wade's boyhood home in California weed territory. There, they get the full "rural horror" treatment, spending time being pursued by crazy rednecks, harassed by stoned out cultists and trampled underfoot by herd of wild pigs bred to kill.
PIG HUNT is a wonderful stew of 70's cult killer flick mixed with 90's grime. Special props for Bryonn Bain's performance as the hippie cult's bizarre "sugar daddy," an entertaining mash up of Toshiro Mifune and Superfly. Kudos also to Bay Area music legend Les Claypool as the hillbilly reverend of the piece. (Didn't Primus have a song about this very subject?). And our featured pig is the baddest hog killer since MOTEL HELL. Queue this one up and let it roll. (Picture courtesy of IMDb.)