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Monday, November 29, 2010
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Earlier this month, I had the opportunity, thanks to my good pal Kevin Maher (of Kevin Geeks Out fame), to take my progeny out to the ass-end of Long Island and experience the unique, retro, monster-kid style public access cable show known as Ghoul-a-Go-Go. It was a one-0f-a-kind day--I had a blast, the kids got to dance up a storm, and it took place amidst an aura of kitschy horror hipness that was impossible not to enjoy.
A favorite of the B-52s Fred Schneider and even the late, great Lux Interior of the Cramps, Ghoul-a-Go-Go is something that you have to experience to fully understand. It's like a journey back to the glorious heyday of monster mania on the boob tube, those halcyon days of the late 1950s and early 1960s. Your hosts on this journey are the sinister Vlad and the hideous yet lovable Creighton. There are live performances galore from bands like the 5,6,7,8s (the group behind "Woo-Hoo", that song from Kill Bill and those cell phone commercials), and tons of dancing.
But in the grand tradition of the old school horror host TV shows that Ghoul-a-Go-Go works to replicate, the dancers are all kids. And that's that one extra detail that pushes Ghoul-a-Go-Go over the edge from interesting artifact to bona fide pop culture gem. Watching a bunch of little kids and a gargantuan hunchback dance on stage using such classic moves as the twist, the monkey, and even the vaunted Bat-oosi, is something that cannot really be done justice in mere words.
Since Ghoul-a-Go-Go needed some kids to come out and dance, and my buddy Kevin had the hookup, I was more than thrilled to bring out little Zombelina and Wee-Sol to take part in the Cold War-era shenanigans. And boy, were they ever excited to step on to the stage and ham it up with the Ghoul-a-Go-Go gang, strutting their stuff to some vintage horror-themed rockabilly tunes (where did you guys dig up some of that stuff??) Think Romper Room, crossed with Tales from the Crypt, and you have the general idea of what Ghoul-a-Go-Go is all about.
I was very proud of my little ones for letting their inhibitions go, and not showing any fear at all in the face of the afternoon's gruesome hosts. Of course, they are my children, which means they've been exposed to enough that it would take quite a bit to spook them out. Anyway, the name of the game was fun, and there was much of it to be had by all before everything was said and done.
I have to applaud Vlad, Creighton and the rest of the crew for putting together a top-notch show, and if you're not privileged enough to reside in Suffolk county, that's OK, because you can see what Ghoul-a-Go-Go is all about on the show's YouTube page, and official website. If you're anything like me, and enjoy your horror with a healthy dose of tongue-in-cheek fun, then you should really seek it out. The buzz has been growing in recent years, and I was honored to finally cross paths with these guys, whom I had heard so much about for so long.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Practical Blood: If I never saw another CGI "squib" again, it would be too soon. There's nothing that takes you out of a horror flick like a splash of blood that looks like something out of Call of Duty. I realize it's cheaper to go the computer route, but come on, people--blood is one of the main reasons many of us watch horror in the first place. Let's make it look good, OK?
Boris Karloff: Why? Do you really need a reason? The big guy just celebrated another birthday in horror heaven, and the legacy of classics that he left behind continues to warm my heart. A sorely underrated actor, Karloff was a treasure and a joy to watch on screen, always. The anniversary of his birth is a convenient reminder of the greatness he lent to the genre we love.
The End of Friday the 13th: My loathing of this ever-popular series has been harped upon ad nauseum. But let me just say, that it gives me great pleasure to realize that after all these years, after countless sequels, and even a remake that was among the most odious in recent years, the seemingly deathless Jason franchise seems at last to have run out of steam. Platinum Dunes pulling the plug on the latest installment would seem to indicate that, anyway. Here's hoping we've seen the last of that machete-wielding bore.
The Walking Dead: Finally, a zombie TV series, and boy is it ever worth the wait. Having been a fan of the early issues of the comic book series, it's been wonderful watching it all play out on television, in blood-drenched living color. Speaking of which, kudos to AMC for not holding back on the good stuff. Just when you thought the zombie craze was over, along comes this excellent piece of boob tube drama.
Film Festivals: Is it just me, or does it seem like the sheer number of horror-related festivals seems to be growing? With the Hudson Horror Show, Horrible Imaginings, Bleedfest, and so many more, this is a great time to be a fan of quality horror on the big screen.
Ingrid Pitt: The first lady of Hammer horror passed away on Tuesday at the age 73, leaving behind an unforgettable legacy and legions of adoring fans. In a male-dominated genre, the standout female talent is unfortunately few and far between, but Ms. Pitt was one of the shining exceptions. From Countess Dracula to The Wicker Man, her body of work is just as impressive as she was beautiful.
Ghostbusters 3: After years of back and forth--will it happen? will it not?--we finally have the answer that yes, indeed, the boys in gray will be coming back for a third chapter very soon. Or more accurately, the old men in gray, as sources indicate a new generation of 'busters will be taking up the proton packs from Drs. Venkmen, Stantz and Spengler. In fact, Anna Faris--cited way back right here in the Vault as an excellent choice--looks to be among them.
Horror Comics Renaissance: Not since the heyday of EC has there been such an abundance of solid horror material on comic book racks. Maybe it's just because I'm more attuned to it all because of the Vault these days, but books like Victorian Zombies, American Vampire, iZombie and North 40 have really given me hope for the future of the medium.
Russell Edgington: Just when I thought True Blood might lose me, along came one of the greatest characters in TV history. Denis O'Hare is sublime as the irrepressible vampire King of Mississippi, and the episode-closing scene in which he ripped out a TV anchorman's spine during a live broadcast literally had me cheering in my living room. If you really think he's going to stay buried under that cement, keep dreaming...
Captain Cruella: Many of you may have noticed that 2010 has brought a new promotional partner to The Vault of Horror. I'm talking about the other half of what's come to be known as the "Terror Team," the Captain of the Carnivorous Cadavers. It's been my pleasure to become associated with the good captain, and the Vault has been thriving more than ever, in part thanks to her efforts and to the many events and activities they have brought my way. It's a partnership I'm quite thankful for indeed, and I'm proud to say that this is just the beginning!
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Pass the cranberry sauce, would you? Yes, folks, it's the time of year to give thanks once again--and also to gorge ourselves on food and pass out in a tryptophan coma on the living room couch. It's Thanksgiving! And I don't know about you, but I'm thankful each and every year for the opportunity to share my love of horror with the world via this little musty corner of the interwebs. As part of that gratefulness, we here in the Vault, and over at Brutal as Hell, have turned this edition of the Lucky 13 over to everyone's favorite turkey-related holiday.
You might be asking, just how many Thanksgiving-themed horror flicks are there? And you'd have a valid point, as this was one of the more challenging installments to put together (hence the anemic number of contributions). Still, I got a little creative, and I hope you enjoy our offerings this week. Also, enjoy Thursday, and make sure not to overdo it. OK, overdo it all you want--what am I, your mother?
B-Sol on Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster (1971)
I know what you're thinking. What on earth does a giant irradiated lizard doing battle with a massive mountain of sludge have to do with Thanksgiving? Clearly, you didn't grow up in the Northeastern U.S. during the 1970s and 1980s. Because if you did, you'd know that Thanksgiving was the day they carted out all the giant monster movies to show on syndicated TV.
Don't ask me why they did it, but it was just like getting to see the Wizard of Oz every year on Easter. It never failed that each Thanksgiving, WWOR Channel 9 (I believe it was) would dust off such gems as King Kong, Son of Kong, Mighty Joe Young, and more Godzilla films than you could shake a spiky tail at.
By far, my favorite amongst them was Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster, a.k.a. Godzilla vs. Hedorah. In fact, it was a highlight of the holiday for me, and I would look forward to sitting on the floor cross-legged in front of the TV after the big dinner to take in all the Toho goodness while my uncles and aunts snored away all around me. Wonderul times...
Why did this one stand out so much for me? Do you need to ask? Animated interludes... The classic hippie environmentalist theme song, "Save the Earth"... The funkiest Godzilla foe of them all... And best of all, some really messed up imagery--this was one of the darkest and most violent of the classic Godzilla movies, for sure. It's easy to understand why I loved it so much. And why I miss those Thanksgivings of yore...
Joe Monster of From Beyond Depraved on Ravenous (1999)
When I think of all the delightful trappings of the Thanksgiving holiday (the cold weather, the brotherhood, and the heaping piles of succulent meat), the only film that immediately comes to my mind is the backwoods be-bad-or-be-eaten bonanza known as Ravenous. Although the film didn’t fare well with critics upon its initial release (or at the box office), this cannibalistic comedy immediately dug its way into my heart right on my first viewing of the film.
From the minute that our sniveling hero John Boyd enters the confines of Fort Spencer with its ragtag group of eccentrics and crazies, I could tell that this was just one of those types of movies that seemed to be made solely for myself. Things only get better when the ever-charismatic Robert Carlyle arrives on the scene, and the film is pumped up a few gory and insane notches once he reveals his true flesh-hungry identity. The rest of the movie plays out as a good vs. evil skin munching demon-type scenario, with Pearce’s stoic John Boyd attempting to take down Carlyle’s devilishly charming Colqhoun before the mad faux-colonel can feast on all the inhabitants of the base.
There’s much dark humor to be had in the film, mostly due to Carlyle’s unique dining habits. Ranging from the absurdly silly (David Arquette screaming “He was licking my foot!”) to the fiendishly black (the strangely hunger-inducing scene of the troops sitting down for a steaming bowl of homo sapien), the comedy in Ravenous never overwhelms the sense of terror that it manages to pull off simultaneously, keeping the film completely balanced on the tight rope that separates horror from humor.
Although even I can’t claim Ravenous to be a cinematic masterpiece, I also cannot deny the massive amount of ghoulish fun that I have when watching it. There are deeper themes touched upon in the movie, such as Boyd’s search for redemption for his acts of cowardice. But let’s face it. When you get down to it, you end up watching Ravenous just so you can see a blood-soaked pilgrim chase down his dinner to the twangy plucks of a banjo. It’s a viewing experience in the best tradition of the holiday (although you should probably save this one for when the kids go to bed after the Charlie Brown special). Set the table, pop in the DVD, and good God let’s eat already.
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Head over to Brutal as Hell to see what Marc and the gang have cooked up! And join us next week when the Lucky 13 will have something very special in store for Hanukkah... I'm verklempt just thinking about it!
Week 2: Man vs. Nature
Week 3: Veteran's Day
Thursday, November 18, 2010
I'm beyond psyched to be introducing one of the seminal horror-event films of the 1980s, and would be even more psyched if you would join me. So if you're anywhere near the Stamford area, I expect to see you there as I delve into the awesomeness of Craig T. Nelson, the infamous Hooper/Spielberg directorial controversy, and much more.
The Avon Theatre is located at 272 Bedford Street in Stamford, and the screening kicks off at 9pm. Special thanks to the staff for allowing yours truly to show his face once again--especially Adam Birnbaum, director of film programming. And of course, thanks as always to my murderous muse, Captain Cruella, for getting her steel-toed foot in the door and making these evenings with the Avon possible in the first place!
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Did you know that Tarot cards were originally just a game? Just a regular game, and there were all different sets--in fact, that's also where traditional playing cards come from. It was Aleister Crowley who created the major and minor arcana, and it became more about using it for divinatory purposes. I also think the Italians were the ones who helped sort of make them into an instrument for divining or predicting the future.
I have a ton of Tarot cards--five decks, in fact. And I've used them quite a bit. There are all different ways to lay them out and read them. I use the standard way, which is the cross shape which covers the past, present and future. And the other cards along the sides represent different meanings.
There's the major arcana, which are the face cards; and the lesser arcana, which are the numbers in each suit. They all have a different meaning and different purpose. Some of the cards I have, the Crowley ones for example, have very specific photos that help you to remember what they mean. For instance, if the head is upright, it means something entirely different than if the cards are flipped on the opposite side.
People play up the cards to be far more sinister than they are. For instance, the Death card doesn't really mean death. The Death card means change. The death of something--something ending, and something new beginning. The worst card you can get is the Tower card. The Tower card means ultimate destruction.
I am a recovering pagan, and that's how I originally got into them. I started reading them about 1995 or so. In the beginning, it was curiosity; and after that, it was more that I got really serious about it, because I felt that the things I was reading in the cards were coming true. I found it to be accurate. But maybe it's just me, I tend to make things happen--self-fulfilling prophecies, you might say.
* For more of the good Captain, check out her brand new website, Cruella's Crypt...
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
You see, this time, we've both chosen the same exact film to discuss. That's right, one movie that neither one of us ever has any desire to see again--albeit for different, and equally fascinating reasons. One film that has galvanized us both, for this, the last Tuesday Too Scared. So sit back and enjoy as we cringe in pain at the work of Eli Roth...
Watching Hostel was one of those watershed moments for me. One of those, "OK, am I getting too old for this shit?" kind of moments. I had long considered myself something of a gorehound. It was never my favorite kind of horror, but I took pride as a young horrorphile in seeking out the most depraved and nasty flicks I could get my grimy hands on. I didn't realize how much I had changed, until the day I got those hands on Eli Roth's Hostel.
It had been lent to me by a guy at work. You know the situation: "Hey, man. You like horror, right? OK, well, you should check this out!" So I did. As I look back on it now, that was a mistake. Because seeing Hostel was an experience that taught me that my tastes had changed, and even led me to slightly rethink what being a horror fan even meant for me.
Simply put, Hostel is an ugly film. A cynical, brutish movie that is depressing at its core. There is no entertainment value to be had, and it leaves the viewer with the urge to take a shower of Joan Crawford proportions. The plot is non-existent, and once we get past the boring and utterly odious "frat boys on vacation in Eastern Europe" portion, we get to something far more odious.
This film is the very definition of torture porn, containing scene after scene of unrelenting graphic violence put on display for no other reason than to shock and titillate. To some, that may be the clarion call to horror nirvana, but I have to say, it isn't for me. It certainly isn't now, and I'm not sure it ever was to this degree. This is a film that wallows in the very worst of human nature, and does so for no other reason than to get a few kicks.
I can remember sitting there thinking, "Why the hell am I even watching this?" And this is coming from someone who would jump at an opportunity to see Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Zombi 2 or Dead Alive back in the day. Reveled in them. But this? No thanks. Am I too old? I don't care. Too real, too cynical, and not fun, entertaining or even thought-provoking in the slightest.
Call me a horror prude. Call me a stick in the mud. Call me out of touch. But I plan to never go near Hostel again, as it represents for me the very worst and lowest common denominator of what this great genre has to offer.
And now, Missy chimes in as well...
I’m still not sure why I ever saw Hostel. It’s the very definition of torture porn, and I am ten thousand percent sure that there was never any chance I would like it, but I rented it and watched it in a dormer room in Southern Illinois. Mayhaps it’s that very Pokemon approach I take to horror movies: “Gotta see ‘em all.”
By now, it’s likely we’ve all seen this or at least know the story. A couple of incredibly irritating and offensive young Americans end up at a hostel in Eastern Europe where they think they will be able to bed many adventurous young women. (Though, I am relatively sure that any woman who sleeps with either of these jerkos should be kicked out of the women’s club forever and always.) Instead they become the victims of torture and abuse in macabre house of horrors.
When B-Sol and I were debating films to write about for this series, we both touched on the same theme in Hostel that makes it so hard to stomach. This is, without a doubt, the most hateful film I have ever seen. Even before the boys end up in the torture chamber, the movie is filled with hate. Primarily, our American tourists hate women. A more sexist mindset would suggest they love women, but they have no interest in women as individual people with identities all their own. They see women as tools designed only for their own pleasure, and within twenty minutes, I was sure I was going to hate this movie.
In addition to the hatred displayed by our protagonists, hatred is heaped upon them as well. As they become the victims of extremely brutal violence, each boy is made the object of Ameriphobic hatred. (I think I just made that word up.) It’s even stated that Americans fetch more money because everyone wants to torture an American. And really, who can blame them? If we are how this film represents us, I can’t imagine anyone wouldn’t choose us for the torture and maiming.
Ultimately what makes it such a horrible movie is the level of unbelievability. I mean, okay, so the woman’s face is all mangled, and her eyeball is hanging out. What do you do? You certainly don’t cut her eyeball off! This is just another moment wherein you are supposed to ingest male mutilation of the female body. And while I can watch a Friday the 13th movie with the best of them, I cannot intake this much hatred. There is wanton glee and disregard for the destruction of the female person and the female form.
As I am sure some of you will argue, there is also a great deal of abuse heaped on the male form. Yes, this is true. But none of it is with such disregard for the human being. The males at least have character and identity. The women exist purely as tools, and as a result of this, I cannot stomach ever seeing it again. The film has ruined me in a number of ways, but the one I am most grateful for? I now hate Eli Roth. I consider that a blessing.
Monday, November 15, 2010
- So I thought I lost my laptop tonight, for a few very harrowing minutes. Not sure what that has to do with horror, but it sure scared the crap out of me.
- I've been enjoying The Walking Dead on AMC so far, and am in fact getting set to watch the replay of episode 3 in just a few minutes. I must say, they've managed to capture what made the book such a favorite of mine, and I look forward to continued greatness. AMC has clearly overtaken HBO as the place for top-flight TV drama (although I do love my Boardwalk Empire...)
- For those who may not know, I happen to be very fond of exploring old cemeteries. It's kind a "hobby" of mine, if you'd call it that. I'd like to share a handful of recent pictures I snapped while traipsing amongst the dead...
- I think I could probably watch Suspiria every single day. Just wanted to put that out there...
- Who do you think would win in a fight between original Freddy and remake Freddy? I'm sure few would disagree, but I'm thinking O.G. Krueger would have the little imposter for breakfast.
- Why do people consider The Hunchback of Notre Dame (either version) to be a horror film? It's really not at all, even by a very liberal definition of the genre.
- I'm exciting to be returning to the Avon Theatre this Thursday to introduce a screening of Poltergeist. If you happen to be in the Stamford, Connecticut area, come on down and say hello!
- For those looking for an in-depth recap of the Hudson Horror Show, which myself and Captain Cruella attended earlier this month, look no further than my official Fangoria.com report!
- Speaking of Hudson Horror, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Dr. Kim Paffenroth there. The author of Gospel of the Living Dead, Valley of the Dead and other zombie tomes (not to mention a fellow LoTT-D member) was very gracious with his time, and I look forward to posting the video of the interview later this week.
- Still peaking of Hudson Horror, one of the private collectors who provided 35mm prints to the show, Matt Pennachi, also happens to be hosting his own 35mm series down in North Carolina, known as Cinema Overdrive. Best of all, each show gets its own vintage-style poster featuring the movies being shown. There's some very cool artwork on display here, and I was psyched to find that the posters are actually for sale as prints, for any of you who are interested in horror film art. Well worth checking out!
Saturday, November 13, 2010
They say that war is hell, and hell is certainly familiar territory for the horror genre. Therefore, it's pretty easy to see that war would provide a perfect backdrop for some genuinely terrifying cinema. Truth be told, there are quite a few horrifying war films which are technically not actual horror films. War is horrible enough, in and of itself.
That said, there have been a number of powerful horror films revolving around the subject, and we here in the Vault and over at Brutal as Hell decided that in honor of Veteran's Day, we'd devote this week's Lucky 13 edition to just a few of them. So read on, and please make sure to thank a veteran, if you haven't already done so. In their efforts to protect us and all we hold dear, they faced down horrors far worse than anything seen in the movies...
B-Sol on Pan's Labyrinth (2006)...
There may be no greater visionary working in cinema today than Guillermo Del Toro, and Pan's Labyrinth was quite possibly his finest hour. It is a visual feast--a twisted, nightmarish look at childhood, seen against the backdrop of Fascist Spain during World War II. This is a film of great power, a visceral experience in a very real sense.
I've always been fascinated by fantasy and dark fairy tales. The origins of the Brothers Grimm stories in particular have always held a certain allure. And quite simply, Pan's Labyrinth is a potent distillation of that whole vibe, brought to life as only someone with the talent of a Del Toro could've ever done.
And through it all, what impresses me the most is the way in which such a bizarre, supernatural narrative could be so successfully juxtaposed with the very real setting in which our young protagonist finds herself. There is perhaps no monster in the film more terrifying than her own sadistic and brutal father, a cold and calculating captain in the Spanish army. The horrors of war are contrasted intriguingly with the horrors of a totally unearthly realm, and it makes for some unforgettable viewing.
Pan's Labyrinth is the kind of film that reminds us that as terrified as we may be of the unknown, there is perhaps nothing worse than the horrors of the familiar, and of the real. It is a treat for the senses, and my personal favorite horror film dealing with the subject of war.
Joe Monster of From Beyond Depraved on Deathdream (1974)...
War is hell, as they say. And sometimes that hell can invade the peace of the home and hearth. Such was the story of Andy Brooks, the main character in director Bob Clark’s fourth feature film Deathdream. Having previously tickled our morbid spines with 1972’s ghoulish Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things, Clark takes us down a completely different and dark road with this tale of battle scars that never heal.
When Andy returns home from fighting in the jungles of Vietnam, he’s not at all well. In fact, his father and sister were originally told that Andy had died in combat, so his appearance back home is peculiar to say the least. Dedicated fans of the horror genre could probably tell where the narrative is about to go at this point, but the film nevertheless manages to chill in its depiction of Andy’s terrifying transformation. The veteran soldier covers up his body from the sunlight with turtlenecks and gloves… and has an insatiable thirst for blood. He has become, for all intents and purposes, a vampire.
Deathdream though, much like George Romero’s Martin from the same decade, deals with the complex psychological implications of carrying a “curse” instead of focusing on the supernatural aesthetics of the scenario. Andy’s transgression into a walking nightmare provides moments in the film that are fraught with tension and dread. Clark lets us know that he isn’t messing around, starting right from the moment Andy brutally crushes the family dog in a chillingly inhuman manner. Like he was in combat, Andy cannot stop his killer instincts from getting the better of him as more and more people meet death at his hands.
It’s a potent metaphor for the tragic state in which some troops have been known to suffer from upon their return to their countries. Clark’s masterful direction of the story allows him to breathe life into this metaphor, and it never once becomes heavy-handed. It remains heart-wrenching up until the very end, with a climax in which Andy’s mother weeps over the living, rotting corpse of what was once her son as it desperately tries to dig itself back into its grave. It’s a moment that truly has to rank amongst one of the saddest scenes in horror history. And it’s on this grim note that Clark reminds us that, sometimes, life too can be hell.
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Join us next week for The Lucky 13, when we give thanks for our favorite Turkey Day horror flicks...Week 1: Halloween
Week 2: Man vs. Nature
Friday, November 12, 2010
New World Home cooking, located on Route 212 in Saugerties, New York, has been dishing out “clean food’ for about 16 years, and is recognized as the place for exceptional food, amazing music and outrageous parties. The recent Halloween season there was no exception.
Chef Orlando’s terrifying treats ranged from blackened chicken dishes, squid ink rice sides, blood orange drinks and so much more! The group I went with all sampled the “dark themed” menu specials for the night, which left us all totally blown away by the flavors, the textures, and the incredibly interesting combinations of all the food that was served.
As the night progressed, more and more Halloween revelers spilled into the place. By 10 pm the entire restaurant was hopping, with people dancing in two rooms separated by a big cozy bar area. One room playing everyone’s favorite disco tunes and the other room more house and techno beats--all jam-packed with dancing bodies and spectacular light shows. The costumes were as original as always--what would you expect? It’s Woodstock, baby! Everyone came out to enjoy what we all have come to know as the IT place to be. I recommend making the trek to spend the weekend in the Hudson Valley--and if you do, make sure to swing in, say hi to Ric, and tell him the Captain sent you.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Anyway, Stacie was kind enough to enter the Vault this week to touch on a ridiculous variety of topics, ranging from the nature of great horror, to why '70s music rocks, to the joys of blog trolls, to why the youth of America is lame, and so much more! So listen in on two crazed individuals going on and on about whatever happens to pop into their heads. It's nothing if not entertaining.
Check it out on the player embedded below, or head over to the Vaultcast page to download it...
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
House on the Edge of the Park (1980)
Make no mistake, this is not a movie for everyone. It took a full five years for it to be released in the U.S. Banned in Singapore, Finland, the U.K., Canada and Norway; denied ratings classification in Australia and also released unrated in America. One of Britain's notorious "video nasties". Chock full of rape, torture and sadism.
I cannot deny that this movie enthralled me. I found it distasteful at times, but nevertheless I was fascinated by it, and also cannot deny that it is a fine little piece of filmmaking, for what it is. But there can be no question that it was designed to titillate, and to do so using some very questionable means. More than most of the movies today that get labeled "torture porn", this is a movie I would certainly classify as such.
The main problem I have with it is in the depiction of rape. This is the kind of story in which the rape victims actually start to "enjoy" themselves and give in willingly to their rapists. In other words, at times it feels like some guy's warped sexual fantasy, and I found it pretty damn uncomfortable in parts. There's a certain hypocrisy here--on the surface the film is condemning the callousness of these characters, but truth be told, you're intended to get off on watching what they do.
It walks a dangerous moral line, that's for sure. And yet, I'd rather have a horror flick like this which challenges me and makes me uncomfortable than most of the cookie-cutter, soul-numbing drek we get spoonfed these days.
While I'm not sure what it says about me, I admittedly eat stuff like this up. Maybe it's because it disturbs me--maybe I find it somehow cathartic to deal with material like this in a relatively safe way. It's the kind of movie that definitely provokes strong emotion.
Stepping back from it, I can certainly see how people would have problems with it. Much of the movie is simply one tense, gut-wrenching rape or near-rape after another. And when you watch a rape scene in which the supposed victim begins to "get into it", there's no denying it leaves a bad taste in your mouth. And yet, I somehow relish the power the movie has to provoke strong emotion, even if that emotion is disgust.
...Now on to Missy, with a look at an HGL "classic"...
The Gore Gore Girls (1972)
I love Herschell Gordon Lewis. Never in my life have I encountered a director so uninterested in making a quality film. What can I say? I love the arrogance required to make his kind of films. The man has got cajones.
I sat down to take in The Gore Gore Girls as my first HGL film. That’s right. I hadn’t seen Blood Feast or The Wizard of Gore or anything else before sitting down to what has rightly been called an “unwatchably offensive” film.
Reading the description of the film (strippers are being hunted and murdered one by one in a grisly fashion) confirmed for me a deep-down belief that this would either be the best film of all time or the worst. I was getting excited to see this Gore Gore Girls movie. Unfortunately, it is neither of those things. Oh, it’s bad. It’s terrible, in fact. But it’s not the worst, and as such, it sort of falls into that netherworld of “Meh” that bums me out so much.
Why then, you must ask, am I writing about this for the Tuesday Too Scared to Watch It Twice? It’s quite simple, really. This movie is filled with a gleeful hatred and a series of images one can never be prepared to see. From the first murder, we realize that the French have nothing on bodily mutilation. Our first stripper’s face is all but obliterated with the most aggressive facial stabbing I have ever seen. I’m pretty sure Lewis was just chopping up chicken parts. Another stripper is… how shall I say this? Tenderized? And, you know, that’s all well and good, and if the murders from then on were of the average stab-bleed-dead variety, then I likely wouldn’t think anything of it.
But then comes the boob-abuse. During a particularly brutal scene, our killer decides to cut off the nipples of a woman. Out of one nipple spills white milk. Out of the other spills chocolate milk.
I’ll just let that sink in for a moment.
The murders in this film are done with such wanton glee that it’s hard to notice the underlying tone of hatred. But this film does hate women. There is no way around it. To make a joke of not just the sex industry but also the ways in which the female body can be mutilated and destroyed is a dangerous choice and one that Lewis failed in making.
Still, try as I might, I can’t quite dismiss it. It’s quite a picture. And as much as I am sure it’s never going to be put in my DVD player again (even though I own it), I am also sure I will always be talking about it. And that’s worth something, right? Right?