Now I need to go back to practicing painting on a moustache for tonight's festivities...
Friday, October 31, 2008
Now I need to go back to practicing painting on a moustache for tonight's festivities...
Thursday, October 30, 2008
The centerpiece of the event was a screening of "the Diabolikal Super Kriminal," a documentary that I'd been hoping to see ever since I caught wind of its existence over a year ago. Friends, this film is entirely relevant to your interests, provided your interests include "guys in skeleton outfits," "scantily clad babes," and "kickass anecdotes from Italian screen stars." The words "labor of love" tend to be overused, but make no mistake--the minds behind this film are absolutely passionate about the subject matter. To wit: "Sadistik" was a photo-comic from the mid-1960s featuring a mysterious supervillain in the Fantomas/Diabolik mold, with amped-up sex and violence content that made the stories both notorious and wildly popular. The scenes in these photo-comics were portrayed by film actors and shot by photographers with cinema experience, and some of the cast and crew behind these books worked with such luminaries as Fellini and Visconti (as well as drawing paychecks appearing in various Italian genre films, naturally). As such, you'd better believe that these people are characters and that their stories throughout the film range from... ohh... awesome to even awesomer. The documentary is fast-paced with clever shot transitions that keep it from being a "talking head" snooze-fest. BONUS: it's peppered with new footage of the King of Crime that blends beautifully with the vintage photos.
I'll go ahead and stop raving now, because you should really be checking out the links I've posted above. Instead I'll include the video for the film's theme song, "Go Sadistik!" Behold its excellence here:
Let's all take a moment to raise our pumpkin-flavored martinis and Oktoberfest beers to Mort Todd for his work in bringing Sadistik to the US. I know a hunk of my next paycheck is going towards photo-comics, and I will be so bold as to recommend a similar course of action for the rest of you. Fans of all things crime-tastic and mask-eriffic will thank me for this.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Thursday, October 16, 2008
I know there's a lot of debate over the value of the label "So Bad It's Good" but--dear friends--this movie earns that distinction. Generally speaking, movies made with the intention of being low-budget action- or horror-comedies fall flat, but this is just so ineptly-yet-lovingly crafted that I just couldn't hate it. Its humorous moments were so surreal in nature as to border on art, and the increasingly insane plot clipped along at a pleasantly brisk pace.
"Raw Force" is characterized by its use of subtle historical allusions
"Raw Force" is about a Hitler-moustached jade smuggler (accompanied by his be-mulleted pot-smoking sidekick, who we know is a hippie because he says "maaaan" a lot) who is kidnapping and human-trafficking Filipina prostitutes to an island inhabited by cannibal monks who have the power to raise the corpses of the dead kung-fu outcasts who are buried there. When a low-budget cruise-ship full of Eighties Stereotypes (captained by Cameron "Never Say No To A Paycheck" Mitchell) sets its course for this island, the smugglers stage a whimsically-attired pirate raid on the ship to halt their progress. There are survivors of this vicious-yet-ludicrous attack that include the SWAT team member named Cookie (no, really) and four karate masters who find themselves stranded on the monks' island where a final showdown (or several, really) takes place.
It's eighty minutes of unadulterated insanity, seasoned with giant killer piranhas, a murderous Mafia wife, naked chicks galore, a Nazi pirate in heart-print boxer shorts, and more poorly-dubbed maniacal laughter than you could possibly hope for. By the time the zombie ninjas showed up, I was wearing a quite-possibly-alarming grin. Even the inexplicable birthday-party-cum-orgy (for a character who otherwise has no role in the film) comedy montage made me beam at its brazen stupidry. An entire cake gets dropped on a woman, prompting her to run up to one of the protagonists' rooms to shower and--aber naturlisch--get it on! A chubby balding man breaks ice with his head! Another man inexplicably talks about how nude modeling is the Devil's work, and this never comes up in the film again! HELP--IT'S ALL TOO AWESOME!!!!
Is it a coincidence that Rey King's only screen credit is "Raw Force?" I sense this still was captured right before or after some Inappropriate Touching.
Karate Guy: "What did he want?"
Cameron Mitchell Captain Guy: "I'm not sure, but it wasn't my body!"
To say every line is uttered with a straight face would be to imply that this was an intentional acting choice, and I certainly don't want to suggest this. I suspect every line was uttered with a straight face because it was being spoken by someone who'd never been in front of a camera before and was paralyzed by fear, or perhaps in the grips of a powerful drug.
Yes, "Raw Force," I will be here for your continuation. I'm waiting. It's been over twenty-five years--the world needs you now more than ever.
Bask in the glow of "Raw Force" on Flickr.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
I watched these movies on VHS at a pivotal moment in my development--post-"Pet Semetery"-related trauma and pre-"Suspiria." For those of you unfamiliar with the "Waxwork" movies, they're post-"Evil Dead" horror-comedies in which stereotypical late-eighties teenagers get sucked into various horror scenes through supernatural means, leaving only the virgin and the wrongly-done-to-but-decent man alive. The first film is a pretty straightforward "body count" picture in which aforementioned teens set out to thwart the diabolical plans of an evil wax museum owner. The second film is entirely more wacky (I've mentioned the inner cringe that occurs whenever I hear a slide-whistle or El Kabong sound effect accompanying an action scene) and--frankly--made me a little ashamed on behalf of Almost-Fourteen-Year-Old Me. As frightening as this is to confess, I've actually gotten more sophisticated over time.
There's a lot to love about the first "Waxwork" movie. Let's note some discussion points:
- Evil midget doorman at the museum (TRUE FACT: said little person actor also donned the ALF suit in that relic of cocaine-induced Eighties television)
- Miles O'Keeffe (yes, the dude who played the Conan-inspired character Ator in a series of crappy-yet-AWESOME Italo-barbarian flicks) as Count Dracula. Seriously--whose idea was that? I either want to shake that person's hand or ensure they get the proper medication.
- Watching David Warner stifle the giggles as he plays the scenery-chewing villain is worth the price of admission.
- A werewolf rips a dude in half. I feel like my Scottish ancestry, what with that whole inclination towards "hewing in twain," entitles me to my love of death-by-bisection in films. Because I love you and want you to be happy, here is that very scene, for your enjoyment:
- This film is also notable for employing a rather piratical version of the Marquis de Sade as one of the key baddies. Innocent as I was at the time (use your imagination, smartasses), I found this scene to be Of Particular Interest. Fancy outfits, outrageous boots, fussy accents, kink--it was entree into a new world of cinematic excellence! Admit it, you're curious:
"Waxwork II: Lost In Time" is... rather another matter altogether, and I feel kind of terrible for pitching it to my movie-viewing companion as "having a really neat Frankenstein scene in it." I should amend my spiel to go something like "Warning: This movie has head-explodey in it for a minute, but is otherwise filled with slapstick comedy that is guaranteed to make you wince and also has a rapped theme song." Yes, friends--the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had blazed a brave path through the pop culture landscape, leaving it littered with references to pizza and video games. While "Waxwork II" could've achieved "Street Fighter"*-level so-far-past-bad-it's-excellent-ness, it... didn't. Instead, I kept wishing I was watching "Army of Darkness." Adding a small role played by Bruce Campbell did not help this state of affairs, and structuring the film to recreate scenes from other, better movies just hammered more nails into the coffin. However, the head-explodey was still pretty neat, so I'll include that here and save you the rest of the ninety-five-plus minutes of movie-watching. Bonus points for the fact that Older Me recognizes the dude from Spandau Ballet playing Baron Frankenstein!
The film's Finishing Move comes in the form of the end-credits theme song, the crappiness of which I can only hint at by including the trailer below. The previously noted Ninja Turtles influence can be felt here, making this movie an inheritor not of the Hammer Films legacy, but rather of the MC Hammer legacy. The refrain is even now haunting my waking moments:
Stuck in time
Like a bug in a jar
No matter where you go,
There you are.
Pray for me, internet friends. I may descend into gibbering madness at any moment. Let this be a lesson to anyone who dares traipse the path of nostalgia--you may come back humming a rap with lyrics about bugs in jars.
*Seriously. Watch "Street Fighter" starring Jean-Claude Van Damme and Raul Julia. I fucking dare you to come away from that unchanged if you watch it past the scene in which the Sumo wrestler is tortured by the giant Russian guy.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Udo Kier stars as Dr. Henry Jekyll and is supported by a fabulous cast of genre veterans that includes Howard Vernon (who played Dr. Orlof along with approximately a million other fantastic roles), Marina Pierro (who was so plush and lovely in Borowczyk's "Behind Convent Walls"), and Gérard Zalcberg (already beloved of the Empire as mute henchman Gordon in "Faceless").
The particulars of the movie deviate from Stevenson's novella significantly. The time-line of the story is shortened to one night--the evening of Jekyll's engagement to Fanny Osbourne--and the sexual content is put front and center. Mr. Hyde is an equal-opportunity rapist, whose genitals are oversized and, apparently, pointed. Eek. Zalcberg puts in a bravura performance, reptilian and monstrous while still elegant in his evening wear. His madness is simultaneously manic and icy, making him a perfect pairing with the Force For Teutonic Awesome that is Udo Kier.
Jekyll's transformation into Hyde is accomplished with a bath full of blood-like liquid that occasions much thrashing about (Kitty Le Claw take note--there is Almost Udo Ass in this sequence). Fanny watches Jekyll emerge from the bath as Hyde and, rather than expressing horror, she seems fascinated, if somewhat worried on behalf of her fiancee. By the time Hyde's rampage is reaching its frenetic heights, it comes as little surprise that Fanny winds up dunking herself in the krazee waters to join her increasingly Hyde-ed out hubby-to-be.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Monday, October 6, 2008
One of the attractions that the Baron and I had set our hearts on attending was the annual haunted house extravaganza that is the House of Shock. I'd heard of House of Shock many years ago when a pal was volunteering there and his tales of a supercharged, Sataneriffic spook show were enough to convince me that there was a pentagram-shaped hole in my heart that could only be filled by experiencing this firsthand.
I can state with utmost conviction that the House of Shock is the BEST haunted house I've ever been to. This year's setup revolves around Lord Belial's ascension to power as "President of the World" and the rooms within the House include a cemetery, a creepy swamp, a sewer, and a truly outrageous Black Mass. The effectiveness of House of Shock lies in three factors:
1) The House employs what feels like half the population of Louisiana--there are at least a hundred actors present
2) The makeup effects are the best I've ever seen in a haunted attraction
3) The actors can touch you
Now, as an Ice Person and a Yankee, this last factor really shocked me! The entire student body of the local high school seemed to be present (the Baron and I felt like the oldest people in line) and were abuzz telling one another about how one could be grabbed in the dark. I wrote this off as bullcrap, but--lo and behold--about two minutes from the door, somebody was pawing at my boots. Yikes! It was only down the terror-hill from there, as I was pawed, shoved, screamed at and thoroughly horrified for the next twenty-or-so minutes. It was an incredibly intense experience that managed to be fun at the same time. There's not a lot of classic monster themes on display--this is mostly New School horror inspired by 80s slasher films and flicks like "Saw" and "Hostel," neither of which are in my Cinematic Greatest Hits, but both of which manage to inspire kickass haunted attractions. Expect lots of blood, loud screaming, and gruesome sights inside the House, along with classic carnival effects like the spinning tunnel and blackout rooms.
If you find yourself in the New Orleans environs this Halloween season, I can't recommend a trip to the House of Shock enough! They're open on weekends starting at 7pm and running till midnight. I can imagine this place is going to get packed later in the season, as the (extremely, awesomely nice and thoroughly wonderful) police officer who was working security duty was telling us that there are live performances and all kinds of goodies planned.
TRUE FACT: 100% of House of Shock employees surveyed agree that the Tenebrous Hair smells good. Yes, they get That Close. Eeep.
BONUS POINTS: They sell food at the House, including a dish called Satan's Hot Sausage. I offer this fact to you sans-comment.
Sunday, October 5, 2008
A lot of important things have happened on October Fifths in History. Of utmost importance to me is the Tenebrous Birthday--namely, the Thirtieth Tenebrous Birthday which is taking place today. I will assume that you are celebrating my birthday today instead of any of these less-awesome events:
- Kate Winslet's (aka: Not-At-All-Tenebrous Kate's) birthday
- 20th Anniversary of the death of Earl Tupper, the inventor of Tupperware
- 20th Anniversary of the Brazilian constitution
- 100th Anniversary of Bulgarian independence
Just don't do anything I wouldn't do while celebrating my birthday, OK?
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
In a tables-turning take on "The Collector" (aka "the book that launched a thousand serial killers"), Sayer's evil intentions are undone once Maria works her feminine wiles on him. Just as he's about to dispatch her in melodramatic style, he hesitates. He reveals his motives to her and in a Stockholm Syndrome role reversal, Sayer finds himself attached to his captive and opens himself to the possibility of falling in love with Maria. The power roles swapped, we're now given a montage of romantic romps in the countryside, dinner at a historical castle (complete with liveried little person in attendance!), and risqué activities in a convertible car. The camera reappears, this time capturing Sayer in its lens, and thereby showing him to be the vulnerable party. By the time Maria tells Sayer about how a cat fell in love with her as a little girl, even the audience almost believes her.
Whose obsessions will crumble, and who will emerge the victor in this battle of the sexes? Or is this a love-match between two damaged souls? I was kept guessing until the final twist of an ending that ties things up even more neatly than I'd anticipated.
This is a wonderful film to look at, filled to overflowing with Freudian symbolism, energetic camerawork, and lush interiors. The museum-like offices of the philanthropic organization contrast with the ultra-modern trappings inside Sayer's home. This juxtaposition of tradition with modernism underscores the theme of social upheaval that Sayer fixates upon.
Nearly every shot is artfully composed--I really began to realize this as I watched the move for screen captures. A great amount of attention was paid to balance and geometry throughout the film, yet these shots never overwhelm the players. The characters are such symbolic figures that they need to exist within this type of universe. The camerawork is lively, panning and sweeping around rooms. There are several shots in which players seem to walk through the camera's view, enhancing the immediacy as well as the voyeuristic subtext.
"Femina Ridens" is a psychedelic venture into dark sexual territory that maintains some of its bite almost thirty years later. It has moments of unflinching meanness portrayed with measured elegance. The battle of the sexes has rarely looked this groovy!