Monday, November 24, 2014

Wednesday's Children

I hated the remake of The Ring.
Samara was not scary.
There, I said it.

Believe it or not, the Creepy Kid device has been around for a very long time, and Way Back When, our horror movie kids didn't need no stringy hair, crackle-glaze foundation or runny eye makeup. Not like kids nowadays with their fancy CGI effects and shiny new X-boxes and 20 milligrams of dextroamphetamines PO QAM PRN. Kids back in Ye Olden Days didn't wait until they were dead to transform into evil little shits. Well, not all the time anyway. Most of the time, they were still alive when they started wreaking havoc and we adults had to kill them. That was called Tough Love, baby.

Think that little ghosty Jodie from the Amityville remake is scary? Or the dehydrated, zombified equivalent of the Bubblegum Gang from Sinister is as good as it gets? Well you're wrong. Wrongface McWrongFucker from WrongVille, wronging your wrong way down the wrong street in your WrongMobile. You can stay there and continue to be wrong, or you can read on and accept the fact that I am always right.

The Bad Seed, 1956

"Children can be nasty, don't you think?"

Kids in the fifties, especially little girls, were made of sugar and spice, starched and ironed and sweet as candy. In her neat pigtails and flouncy little dresses, Rhoda Penmark couldn't be more precious if she was stuffed with rainbows and kittens. But her mother Christine knows something is wrong. She's had suspicions all along. Much like Tilda Swinton in We Need To Talk About Kevin, Rhoda's mother can sense that her baby girl is lacking something, hiding something, missing a critical human ingredient - a soul. Little Rhoda is cold, emotionless and utterly without pity. She's a pure sociopath, and is promising to be quite the prolific serial killer when she grows up. She's already killed a couple of people, too bad so sad. But no one wants to believe the paranoid suspicions of Christine, including Christine herself. But the truth can't be ignored forever. And if Christine won't do something about Rhoda, God will. 

Village of the Damned, 1960

"You have to be taught to leave us alone."

An isolated English village. A seemingly normal afternoon. Suddenly, everyone in town passes out cold and stays out for several hours. Upon awakening, all of the women in the village who are capable of bearing children find themselves pregnant; married, unmarried, underage, etc. Nine months later, all of the pregnant women give birth simultaneously, producing a dozen eerie children with white blonde hair, glowing eyes and no emotions. Sounds about par for the course in England, except for the glowing eyes thing. They never cry, they don't give a shit about toys and they do not like to be messed with. By the time the village schoolmaster figures out that the kids are in fact the product of an alien intelligence bent on taking over the world, it's almost too late. Almost. If only the 1995 remake could have been stopped before it was made.

The Innocents, 1961

"They live, and know, and share this Hell."

There's nothing more pure and innocent than a child. And there was no more innocent time and place to be a child than the English countryside of the mid 1800s. So, is there something wrong with Miles and Flora? Were they corrupted by their deceased governess and her abusive lover? Are they even now possessed by their sinful spirits? Or are they victims of their new governesses insanity and her flair for Münchausen syndrome by proxy? Ultimately it's left up to you to decide. But it's obvious that the children - in particular, little Miles, who has been kicked out of school for "molesting" another student and thinks nothing of wringing the necks of his pet doves - are seriously disturbed. 

The Children's Hour, 1961

"And then suddenly, one night a little girl gets bored and tells a lie, and there, for the first time, you see it. Then you say to yourself, did she see it? Did she sense it?"

Teachers get such a bad rap. They're not allowed to discipline their students or give out bad grades anymore for fear of being accused of sacrificing babies to Baphomet during recess. Back before preschool Satanic masses became all the rage, there were private girls schools in New England, run by women, staffed by women and devoted to instructing girls who would someday be women. And then one spoiled rotten little snotnose bitch gets her grimy little mitts on a copy of Mademoiselle de Maupin and sees an opportunity - get revenge on the teachers who punished her for her brattiness by accusing them of rampant lesbianism. The result - slander, scandal, ruination and suicide. 

Lord of the Flies, 1963

"We've got to have rules and obey them. After all, we're not savages. We're English! And the English are best at everything!"

Why are British kids always so much scarier than American kids? Maybe because they've been raised to be prim and proper with impeccable manners and stiff upper lips. But just drop a boatload of them on an island with no parental supervision and watch them descend into absolute savagery at warp speed. Soon the snotty little cretins are decapitating pigs, dancing around bonfires wearing loincloths and warpaint and committing murder. This is what happens when you take away a regularly scheduled tea time - absolute insanity. 

Kill Baby Kill, 1966

Kicked by a horse and left to bleed to death because the villagers didn't like her family, the ghost of little Melissa is back with a vengeance, driving the local virgins to suicide. She's kind of like the Brits "Lady In Black" except she's Italian in White. Or Carpathian, whatever. Directed by Mario Bava, I could find no quotes listed from this films script, nor could I find out who the hell played little Melissa. However, I strongly suspect that she was the inspiration for Fellini's short film Toby Dammit and King Diamond's album Melissa. I could be wrong about both. I don't care. I will always associate both with this film and the unnamed actress who portrayed the Baby who is doing all of the Killing. 

The Night Child, 1975

I've never seen this movie. It's not easy to find. There's no quotes to pull and reviews are mixed. All I do know is that it's about a little girl who becomes possessed by the spirit of a dead child who was once a killer. Apparently, little Emily there wasn't all that innocent to begin with and was showing signs of being twisted long before she donned a cursed medallion, hence the films alternate title (The Cursed Medallion, duh). But I don't think a viewing is necessary. LOOK AT HER!!! She's freaky looking! That ginger hair and those pale eyes and that dead white skin, GAH!!! There wouldn't be a bitch this creepy again until 1981, when Fulci did The Beyond.

Alice, Sweet Alice, 1976

"My mother thought you could use some cake, fatty."

So, for the greater part of this film we're duped into thinking that 12 year old Alice Spages may have murdered her younger sister out of jealousy. Alice is a shitty little bitch, disrespectful, sadistic and vindictive.  She's not a killer, as it turns out - not yet anyway. But you know she's headed down that path. Sure as shit, she'll grow up to be a hard drinking, chain-smoking, cold hearted, gold digging man-eating, castrating Queen Bitch of the Universe, breaking hearts and stripping wallets long before she's 21. 

Who Can Kill A Child?, 1976

"Something strange had happened to the kids on the island."

An English couple encounter an island off the coast of Spain populated entirely by children. Well, almost entirely. It's Lord of the Flies meets Children of the Corn...minus the corn. Most of the adults have been killed by the kids and the ones that are left are simply biding their time until they too are turned into human piñatas. And no, that is not a euphemism. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Versus - Shadow Of A Doubt & Stoker

"You know, I've often wondered why it is we have children in the first place. And the conclusion I've come to is... At some point in our lives we realize things are screwed up beyond repair. So we decide to start again. Wipe the slate clean. Start fresh. And then we have children. Little carbon copies we can turn to and say, "You will do what I could not. You will succeed where I have failed." Because we want someone to get it right this time. But not me... Personally speaking I can't wait to watch life tear you apart."

Nicole Kidman, Stoker (2013)

Ask any hardcore film fan: "What's your favorite Hitchcock movie?" And usually you'll hear "Psycho. Vertigo. Rear Window." Nobody ever says "Shadow Of A Doubt." And upon much reflection, I think this is due to the fact that Shadow Of A Doubt does not seem like a Hitchcock film. It doesn't look like a Hitchcock film, nor does it play out like one. It's also one of the very few Hitch films not to feature a blonde leading lady. Hitchcock loved his blondes and they became as much of a trademark as his silhouetted profile and his cameo appearances. 

Shadow Of A Doubt is an abrupt departure from Hitch's usual forays into slick, choreographed crimes, worldly women, smooth operating kingpins and sleek blooms of logic richer than fresh red roses. Shadow Of A Doubt is more like an episode of Leave It To Beaver that's been locked in a mildewy drawer with Dennis Rader's sex toys for about thirty years. It's sweetness covered in slime,  a lollipop sprouting mold and drawing roaches. 

2013's Stoker is not a straightforward remake of Shadow Of A Doubt, but it definitely couldn't have existed without Hitchcock's film, just as Shadow Of A Doubt maybe couldn't have been what it was without Dracula. But hold on, I'm getting ahead of myself here. Lets back up a bit and revert to the traditional Versus format.

Film: Shadow Of A Doubt:

Year released: 1943
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. 
Starring: Joseph Cotton, Teresa Wright, Hume Cronyn, MacDonald Carey and Patricia Collinge.

Synopsis: Serial killer (vampire) Charles wakes in the darkness of his cheap hotel room (coffin), hops a train from the East Coast (Budapest) to the West Coast (England) after realizing that the cops are closing in after his latest murder. His young niece and namesake Charlie (Mina) senses psychically that he's on his way and looks forward to a visit from her favorite and most beloved uncle with whom she shares a telepathic link (Mina and the Master). But his arrival sets off a disastrous chain of events and Charlie's bright and sunny world is suddenly darkened by the knowledge that her uncle is a deeply sick man. The arrival of a cop (Van Helsing) who knows exactly who and what her uncle is further complicates things, as Charlie is torn between loyalty for her uncle, new feelings for the handsome and attentive cop and the nagging guilt borne of the ghosts of numerous female murder victims (brides) whom her uncle has seduced and destroyed. Forced into a twisted world of ugliness by the blood bond they share (vampire pun most definitely intended) Charlie will eventually free herself of her uncle's crimes, but not before her hand is forced.  She will have to become Death herself before she can return to life, a life forever altered and stained by her uncle's damnation.

This is my personal favorite Hitchcock film. It's a lovely slice of noir, intricately plotted and subtly nuanced, and yet at the same time unashamedly balls-out, in-your-face sick and perverted. If The Silence Of The Lambs has a fairy godmother, it's this film. It has not aged. It can't. It's a photograph preserved in dirty alcohol, unchanged and untouchable. 

You think you know something, don't you? You think you're the clever little girl who knows something. There's so much you don't know, so much. What do you know, really? You're just an ordinary little girl, living in an ordinary little town. You wake up every morning of your life and you know perfectly well that there's nothing in the world to trouble you. You go through your ordinary little day, and at night you sleep your untroubled ordinary little sleep, filled with peaceful stupid dreams. And I brought you nightmares. Or did I? Or was it a silly, inexpert little lie? You live in a dream. You're a sleepwalker, blind. How do you know what the world is like? Do you know the world is a foul sty? Do you know, if you rip off the fronts of houses, you'd find swine? The world's a hell. What does it matter what happens in it? Wake up, Charlie. Use your wits. Learn something.  

Joseph Cotton, Shadow Of A Doubt (1943)


Year released: 2013
Directed by: Chan-wook Park
Starring: Mia (Alice In Wonderland) Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman, Matthew Goode and (blink and you'll miss him) Harmony Korine.

Synopsis: Left to care for Evelyn, her fragile, wilting magnolia blossom of a mother after the tragic death of her father, India Stoker has always been a strange child and is becoming an even stranger young woman. She's withdrawn, deathly silent and stoically morbid. She's also lovely, something that hasn't escaped the notice of her brutish male classmates. And just to complicate things further, India's uncle Charlie - a man she never knew existed - arrives and is intent upon insinuating himself into India and Evelyn's lives. Evelyn accepts him immediately, desperate for a man's attention. India coldly rebuffs him, but is fascinated with him despite herself. India's aunt is horrified by Charlie's presence in their lives and plans to reveal the truth about Uncle Charlie to both India and Evelyn. But Charlie has murdered before and murders again, silencing anyone and everyone who would spoil his plans. Upon realizing that her uncle is a killer, India's fascination with him grows. She has recognized him as a kindred spirit and realizes that blood is not the only link they share. India is awakening - both sexually and psychotically. Will she deny her true nature, follow in her uncle's footsteps, or take his place completely?

If Shadow Of A Doubt was patterned after Dracula, then Stoker is the bastard offspring of them both. Even the films title is an overt nod - Stoker, as in Bram, as in the author of Dracula for those of you who have never seen the inside of a library. Southern Gothic to its rotted core, Stoker is a vampire story minus the bloodsucking. The Stoker family is diseased to be sure. Politely insane and elegantly warped, covering up their sickness with good manners and the sound of cicadas. This film couldn't possibly be any more Southern Fried Insane if Tennessee Williams had penned its script. This isn't so much a remake as it is an extension of the family - Charlie's illegitimate son, perhaps. But which Charlie? The uncle or the niece? Or their own inbred bastard, conceived in hatred, born deformed and sent away in shame to marinate in the sin of its own creation? Stoker stands alone, strong enough to manage on its own, but - much like India - acknowledging its ancestry with an icy nod. 

There is no winner, and no loser. They're both majestic films. And the first theater owner to have the bright idea to run them on a double bill gets my money without haggling over the price. Take my money!

Charlie's a fine girl. She's the thing I love most in the world.

Just saying...

From an interview with Reggie Nalder, conducted in 1993.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Threshold for Pain

Been busy, haven't had the time or the energy to write anything. Work is crazy, hours are long and the Christmas Noose is tightening. So here's another reheated leftover -  my interview with the New York Times from few years back. They got one decent quote out of me. The rest was like 18 minutes of herp derp. I will never stop blogging about Adam and Roddie, because they are awesome people.

Rodleen Getsic endured tremendous physical pain in her portrayal of an abused captive in the straight-to-video horror film “The Bunny Game,” directed by Adam Rehmeier.

ACTRESSES are asked to do some arduous things in horror films, like running through the woods topless or shrieking until there’s no shriek left.
Rick Purvis
Adam Rehmeier, the director of "The Bunny Game.
But Rodleen Getsic — who endured unspeakable acts while shooting the film “The Bunny Game” — is no mere scream queen. Ms. Getsic, 37, plays a prostitute abducted by a crazed truck driver (Jeff Renfro), who drugs and strips her and chains her inside his rig. For the rest of the film’s 76-minute running time he sexually assaults her; slaps and spits on her; shaves her head; and drags her, in a grotesque rabbit-shaped hood that gives the film its title, on a leash through the desert. There are other indignities as well, but in the film’s most brutal scene the actress is actually branded on her back. Shooting digitally in black and white in an aggressively shaky style, the camera unflinchingly captures it all, while an assaultive metal soundtrack underscores Ms. Getsic’s screams.
There’s no digital or prosthetic abracadabra at work in “The Bunny Game,” unlike that in“Hostel,” “Saw” and other so-called torture porn films. Adam Rehmeier, the director, said that other than drug and alcohol use, nothing in the film is simulated, and Ms. Getsic has the branding scars to prove it. In a making-of documentary on the DVD, released in July by Autonomy Pictures, Ms. Getsic says, “Part of my soul did die in making this film.”
Among horror devotees the film is drawing both condemnation and praise, although it can be hard to distinguish between the two in a genre where adjectives like “sick” and “repellent” are accolades. (Even a positive review on the Horror Society blog called the film “unwatchable.”) Some bloggers have criticized Mr. Rehmeier and Ms. Getsic for being self-congratulatory in their claims about the film’s veracity; one writer called them“megalomaniacal egotists”
While Ms. Getsic’s performance has been lauded for its intense authenticity, the movie’s view of women has come under fire. The Horror View blog called it a “pointless film that doesn’t ask its viewer to directly feel or to empathize with its female protagonist, but merely scathes your senses with as much visual and auditory unpleasantness as possible.” The British Board of Film Classification banned the DVD, saying it “may encourage some viewers to enjoy and share in the man’s callousness and the pleasure he takes in the woman’s pain and humiliation.” Outside the horror and genre film festival circuit Mr. Rehmeier has had difficulty booking a commercial run in the United States.
“We decided to make a horror film but keep the action real,” said Mr. Rehmeier, 36, a Nebraska native and son of a judge, who has a background in documentaries. He shot “The Bunny Game,” his first feature, in about two weeks in 2008 for $13,000. The script was not much more than an outline, with most of the scenes improvised.
“We wanted to have a visceral experience not only for the viewer but in making the film,” he explained. “Rodleen wanted to use the production as this cathartic process, to really purge some of the traumas she’s had.”
In an interview Ms. Getsic described her participation in “The Bunny Game” as “more art than film.” She fasted before shooting started and found herself in a meditative state during scenes. And for the more physical demands of the role she drew on a rape and other sexual abuses she endured when she was younger.
Miss Roddie, wearing the dress I gave her.
“I’ve had some intense experiences that most people might not have lived through,” she said. “The reasons why I made this film keep emerging. But really I wanted to move through the what-ifs and show that I could make it through.”
“The Bunny Game” is just the latest horror film in which actresses have delivered extreme physical performances. French cinema has been particularly bold: Alysson Paradis playing a woman trying to save her unborn baby from a deranged home intruder in “Inside”(2007); Morjana Alaoui, pummeled to a pulp in the revenge fantasy “Martyrs” (2008); and Karina Testa as a pregnant woman menaced by a torture-happy brood in “Frontier(s)”(2008). For Tom Six’s notorious 2009 gross-out, “The Human Centipede (First Sequence),” the American actress Ashlynn Yennie spent a lot of time on all fours in tears while her character was grafted to another person’s anus. She also appeared in the 2011 sequel. (The final part of the trilogy is expected next year.)

At a time when some horror fans consider the genre to be stagnating with “why bother?” remakes and found-footage rehashes, “The Bunny Game” has a precedent in reality-based horror of the 1970s, said Jason Paul Collum, the director of “Screaming in High Heels,” a 2011 documentary about horror-movie actresses that came out on DVD last month.
“Once 9/11 happened, we seeped into this demoralizing sexuality,” said Mr. Collum, who has not seen “The Bunny Game.” “It’s almost as if the fanboys want their horror girls brutalized viciously.”
“It’s more emotionless today,” he continued. “In the ’70s and ’80s you wanted the final girl to survive. You don’t necessarily care if she survives today.”
“The Bunny Game” counts women among its defenders. Although the film is “disgusting and hard to watch,” it’s a “brave piece,” said Jen Soska, whose new horror film, “American Mary” (which she directed with her twin sister, Sylvia) features performers from the body-modification and underground-surgery scenes. It has been acquired by Universal.
Referring to Ms. Getsic, Ms. Soska said: “Those brands on her body mean more to her than shock value. I think she needs to remember that she did this. She went back to that place, and she’s still here.”
Annie Riordan, a writer for the horror blog Brutal as Hell, described watching “The Bunny Game” as “devastating in a good way.”
“It depicts the most horrible things you can imagine but for specific reasons: enlightenment, transcendence, epiphany,” she said. “When the movie starts, Rodleen’s character is dead. It’s only at the end that she comes to life, almost like a resurrection.”
Mr. Rehmeier, who cites Jean-Luc Godard and Dario Argento as influences, said “The Bunny Game” was intended less as entertainment than as a feminist take on “a cautionary tale about drug abuse and taking rides with strangers.” Having never aimed for the mainstream, he knows his primary audience will be mostly fans of extreme horror and “the strong at heart.” For that he sounds almost apologetic.
“I don’t like the film,” he said. “It’s not a film you should like. If you say you do, then you’re really weird.”

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Kane's Son

"Men blame a woman's aggression and power to her period," said Holmgren. "Haven't you ever heard the expression, 'never trust anything that bleeds for seven days and doesn't die?' Maybe men would respect women more if they didn't have periods."

Christ Almighty do I have cramps right now. Big, bloody, meaty, squishy handfuls of cramps. I've got ten extra pounds of blood, chunky tissue and fluid stored in my lady parts that will take 4-5 days to drain out of my...uh, other lady parts. It's all very unpleasant: panties ruined, sheets stained, cylinders of cotton the length and width of a man's pinkie finger shoved up my snatch, the wringing, pinching cramps of my own rejected egg being flushed out of my uterus, the mood swings, the whole "we can't have sex unless we go to the laundromat immediately afterwards with an industrial sized bottle of Clorox" thing. Just, ugh. I cannot fucking wait for menopause. I am going to throw the world's biggest goddamned party with a piñata full of maxi pads and a tampon bonfire at the climax.

There have been plenty of horror movies which use menstruation as a catalyst: Carrie, Ginger Snaps, Valerie and Her Week of Wonders, etc. All of these films brilliantly capture the horrors of female maturation: your body betrays you, it changes shape and size, you grow hair in weird places, predators of the human variety are drawn to the scent of blood and sex, blahblahblah. But very few films capture the curiosity and revulsion that the female reproductive cycle inspires in men. It is and remains a taboo subject. Guys - much like Fight Club - will not talk about The Period! They don't want to hear about it, acknowledge its existence or god forbid see an actual tampon, whether it's new or used.

That's why, when I get my monthly visit from Auntie Flo, I make sure to post about it on Facebook in vivid and graphic detail, using as many metaphors and verbs as I possibly can. I want you guys to know how unfunny your jokes about not trusting "anything that bleeds for seven days and lives" really are. I want you to know how much it fucking hurts: the swollen tits, the blinding headaches, the fiery diarrhea, the feeling of big chunks of blobby fleshy pulp squirting out of you, and most of all the way we women are schooled not to talk about it, or complain, or let on how much physical pain we're in. We have to be discreet, wear black pants and smile while our bellies are squeezed by an invisible fist, crumpling like an accordion up and down all goddamned day and night.

And also, I will watch Ridley Scott's Alien on repeat all fucking week. Because until Clive Barker's short story The Madonna gets the film adaptation treatment, Alien is the only movie I've seen thus far in which a man falls victim to his gender's greatest fear: becoming a woman.

Yes, I know - Alien is undisputedly about rape, not the female menstrual cycle. But the film as a whole is about vaginas, man! Don't believe me? Watch it again. Vaginas everywhere. Big, gaping vaginas just waiting to be penetrated. Dark, vaginal abysses threatening to release some blood smeared, pink skinned horror, squalling with rage. Deep, mysterious wombs teeming with death. Delicate fluttery little labias luring men in with a seductive little dance, and then abruptly ramming a cock down their throats. Take that, mutherfucker! And yes, pun most definitely intended. This is a film about cunts. Big, bloody, angry cunts who are sick of being joked and sniggered about. This movie is one big bleeding vagina that lowers itself down onto the unwilling faces of men and squirts both the power of life and the decaying remains of death right down their goddamned neck holes.

Quick, get some Midol from MedLab!

"Whatcha thinkin' 'bout?"
Anyway, I've read all of the shit online about the not-so-subtle themes which run through Alien: the big vagina-shaped openings in the derelict spacecraft, the rape of Kane and violent "birth" scene, Ash trying to orally fuck Ripley with a magazine, the penis shaped head of the full grown alien, etc. I'm sure you've all read that shit too. I'm not going to rehash it. Mostly, in rewatching the film today, what snagged my attention was a single line of throwaway dialogue uttered by Ash halfway through the film: he refers to the alien as "Kane's son." For some reason. I'd never caught that line before, but today it jumped out at me like...well, like a giant vulva with a tail and a penis in its palm.

Anyway, lets dissect the everliving fuck out of that line. Kane's name is pretty obvious, right? Kane = Cain, the son of Adam & Eve who killed his own brother because God played favorites. The Biblical Cain did indeed have a son - Enoch, which isn't a name so much as it is/was an ancient title meaning "ruler to be" or "heir to the throne." It's also derived from the word "anochi" which means "one who replaces." Keeping in mind the fact that Ridley Scott wanted to present the alien as an ancient and very likely intelligent and intellectual species, plus his deliberate attempt to design an opening title which would look like "hieroglyphics" makes the naming of Kane's character look like maybe it wasn't an accident. Even the name Cain itself has been traced back to several words and phrases meaning "I have gotten" "possessed" or, interestingly "spear." Phallic symbols much?

There is a deleted scene from Alien which portrays Ripley and Lambert discussing whether or not Ash (Ian Holm, who has always been 60 years old, apparently) has ever had sex. Neither of them have, which makes Ripley even more suspicious of the future hobbit. Is he a cyborg, or just gay? And is Ripley suggesting that she and Lambert have fucked everyone else? Because imagining either of them banging away on top of Harry Dean Stanton is a horror movie all in itself.

Somewhere along the line in the realm of Alien and Predator fans, it was disclosed that Lambert (Veronica Cartwright) was born male and sexually reassigned at some point. I always sort of thought that Lambert had a thing for Kane. After all, Ripley was fucking Dallas (at least she was in the book) and who else was left? Kane was the only fuck-worthy guy left. Shit, I'd fuck John Hurt, even now that he's in his 70s. He's John Fucking Hurt! He's the British Christopher Walken. I'd have sex with both of them. At the same time. With Ian McKellan filming it all. I know straight guys who would fuck John Hurt just because he's John Hurt. But anyway, yeah - Lambert and Kane? Maybe. Unrequited? Possibly. Having once been a man, perhaps it's just plain sympathy: she more than anyone else understands how painful Kane's ordeal is.

"Nuthin, just alien stuffs."
I thought it was funny that, when the crew is awaked by "Mother" to respond to the distress signal, they are approximately 10 months away from home. Male children are often late, especially the first ones, and it's not uncommon for a mother to experience a 10 month pregnancy before the damn kid finally decides to come out. During the feature length audio commentary by Ridley Scott, when the alien bursts from Hurt's chest, Ridley exclaims: "It's a boy!"

And then there's baby boy KaneAlien himself, who sheds his used-condom skin, has a ribbed skull for her pleasure, a mouth which personifies the Vagina Dentata myth and who leaves a trail of goo behind him wherever he goes. At the films end, when we finally get a good look at the thing, it extends its second mouth slowly, as if yawning, and reveals a toothed penis inside of a toothed vagina dripping with slime which looks like nothing less than vaginal discharge or KY jelly. Having slaughtered the entire crew, alien pussyface is wetter than a pro porn stars shaved slit marinating in a bidet full of Astroglide.

And that's all I got. I had no real point to make, I just wanted to throw some shit out there that struck me as I sat this afternoon, grimacing and clutching a heating pad to my stomach whilst watching the Nostromo evaporate into an orgasmic starburst of cosmic sperm. Oops, there I go again. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go pop some Ibuprofen and change my soggy cotton finger. Have a nice night!

MST3K of the Day - Tormented (1960)

(exclamation points are optional)
Year released: 1960
Directed by: Bertram Ira Gordon, aka Bert I. Gordon, aka Mr. B.I.G., aka the guy who directed such 50s and 60s gems as King Dinosaur, The Magic Sword, Earth Versus the Spider, Empire of the Ants and Food of the Gods.
Starring: Richard "Black Lagoon" Carlson, Bert I's annoying little daughter who sounds like a seal, a couple of other chicks with equally annoying nasally voices, Lloyd the bartender and  an hourglass blonde who sadly ditches the hourglass and parades around as a disembodied head. Also, Merritt Stone and Gene Roth, separated at birth.

Tom Stewart, a dull, lumpy account analyst from Ho-Hum, Idaho smokingly cool jazz musician from LA's velvet underbelly, is getting married to a snotty, empty-headed little Princess named Meg who lives with her mommy and daddy - aka Lord & Lady VonSnooty - on an island just off the coast of California. Meg's father isn't thrilled about the union, convinced that all jazz musicians are coke-addicted con artists who rub elbows with all sorts of lowlife vermin. Tom's ex-girlfriend Vi - short for Violet? Vivian? Victoria? Whatever... - isn't thrilled either. Apparently, Tom failed to send her the memo stating that their relationship was over. So she does what any normal, curvaceous, whisky voiced chanteuse would do - she follows Tom to the island and goes Fatal Attraction on his ass. But before she can ascertain whether or not Mr. Stewart is in possession of a bunny which she can potentially boil, she falls to her death from the lighthouse railing, her body conveniently swallowed whole by the ocean. The end.

Oh wait, no, we're only 5 minutes into the movie.
"Put her down, Jerry Lee."
So Tom decides to go about his life and marry rich little Meg, played by Lugene Sanders. During her tirade, Vi throws out the fact that Meg is "quite young" implying that Tom is robbing the cradle as well as mining for gold. In real life however, Lugene was a full year older than Juli Reding, who played Vi. Carlson, born in 1912, was 22 years their senior. Susan Gordon, who was ten at the time this film was made, acts more like Tom's girlfriend than either Meg or Vi, and had a better career than most of her costars, playing the polio stricken Dorothy Nichols in The Five Pennies and appearing as the little girl who gets to leave planet earth with an alien in the Twilight Zone episode The Fugitive.

But anyway...
Tom's plan to go on with his life as if nothing has happened is hampered by Vi's embittered ghost, his own guilty conscience and the arrival of a hepcat beatnik milkman who gave Vi a lift to the island on his ferry and now plans to blackmail Tom for some cash, dig? Vi's naggy ghost talks Tom into killing Mr. Freaky Lactose Man, a crime which Sandy inadvertently witnesses. Oops. Get that kid some therapy, stat. After being murdered to death, Nick the Blackmailer (as he is credited) relocated to Colorado and got a job at the Overlook Hotel, serving ghost drinks to Jack Nicholson. Upon the Overlook's immolation (read the book, you yabbos) Lloyd moved to the future and got a job as Head Honcho Ubermensch of the Tyrell Corporation, designing and creating replicants who are more human than human. And then Rutger Hauer pokes out his eyeballs with his thumbs. The end.

Oh wait no, back to Tormented.
So Tom starts getting paranoid and delusional, Sandy is showing very obvious signs of major trauma having been inflicted upon her still-inocent little psyche, which everyone ignores because Bridezilla is determined to have the perfect wedding, and World Champion Blind Lady character is almost offed by Vi's ghost when she goes snooping around the spooky old lighthouse in the films silliest Scooby Doo segment. Lillian Adams, who played Mrs. Michelin Man here, had a long and impressive career in television and worked damn near up until the day she died at the ripe old age of 89, popping up on everything from Saved By the Bell and Murphy Brown to Parks and Recreation and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

Tom and Meg proceed with the wedding plans in spite of the fact that Tom is very visibly losing it, having strapped a rocket jetpack to his sanity and waving bye-bye as it rapidly descends into Cuckoo Bananaville at mach 5. As sure as shit sticks to the bathroom floor, the nuptials are rudely interrupted by Vi's ghost who, though invisible, makes her presence known to the wedding guests by wilting all of the flowers, snuffing out the candles and flipping the minister's ceremonial book to the Funerary Recitations 101 chapter. Tom wigs right out and runs off like a rabbit with a firecracker up its ass. Meg goes home to sulk, and nobody notices that Sandy is nowhere to be found. Sandy was the Carl Grimes of her day, I tellya. She's gone to the lighthouse to confront Tom, who promptly decides he has to kill her too, because she's a witness. Meanwhile, Vi is getting bored of the ghost schtick and decides she wants to go to Heaven, so she intervenes before Tom can pick up little Sandy and throw her over the railing into the sea and saves the little brats life. Tom falls and dies. The end. Oh, and Vi's dead body is found wearing the wedding ring intended for Meg. The end.

One can only assume that little Sandy checked out, dropped out and spent the remainder of the 60s smoking enough pot to paralyze a sperm whale and dropping acid whilst grooving to China Cat Sunflower on repeat and railing against the establishment. The 70s undoubtedly saw her inheriting her parents vast estate and squandering it all on Valium and Quaaludes, hanging out at Club 54 and doing lines of coke in the bathroom with Linda Lovelace. By the 80s, Sandy's savings had been depleted by Reaganomics and she got a job at the makeup counter at J.C. Penney's, eventually getting fired for failing to wear deodorant and showing up for her shift reeking of gin. Three failed marriages and two rehabs later, Sandy finally got clean and found Jesus. She now lives a modest, humble life in Burbank, working as a church secretary and devoting her free time to the Foundation for Children Unable to Attain Their Goals of Becoming Professional Magicians Due To Having Been Forced to Sublimate Horrible Secrets Deep Into Their Subconsciouses at a Tender Age.

Okay so that last part was total creative speculation on my part, and for all I know, little Sandy Hubbard lived a full and happy life, married, produced several happy, shiny-cheeked children, raised Yorkshire Terriers for fun, served as the President of the PTA and founding member of the Ladies Auxiliary Cake Decorating & Flower Arranging Club, chummed around with Martha Stewart and died a happy, fat grandma with a scrapbook filled to bursting with happy memories and kodachrome photographs.

But come on, look at her face.
She's the whole reason that Benzo's were invented.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Milk Carton Movies - Watership Down (1978)

In autumn the leaves come blowing, yellow and brown.
     They rustle in the ditches, they tug and hang on the hedge.
     Where are you going leaves? Far, far away
     Into the earth we go, with the rain and the berries.
     Take me, leaves, O take me on your dark journey.
     I will go with you, I will be rabbit-of-the-leaves,
     In the deep places of the earth, the earth and the rabbit.

     Frith lies in the evening sky. The clouds are red about him.
     I am here, Lord Frith, I am running through the long grass.
     O take me with you, dropping behind the woods,
     Far away, to the heart of light, the silence.
     For I am ready to give you my breath, my life,
     The shining circle of the sun, the sun and the rabbit.

Silverweed's poem, pages 102-103 Watership Down

What? What?! You're shocked that I'm reviewing outside of my genre of choice? And worse yet, I'm reviewing a cartoon about bunny rabbits? Well fuck you. Watership Down is a horror movie, IMDb categories be fucked. 

In the beginning, Lord Frith (who looks like a gigantic sun drawing by a very talented child) created all the animals, but soon got pissed off at the Rabbit Prince for humping all over the place and making little bunnies who ate up all the grass and left nothing for the other animals. So Frith goes "Check this shit out, asshole" and goes and gives sharp teeth and claws to the other animals along with a fierce desire to eat all the little bunnies. Prince Rabbit freaks out and tries to hide, but Frith comes along and says: "Look, I'll give you a fair chance. Here, have some powerful legs and the ability to run fast and do the best you can." And it was good. Hallelujah.

"Are you seeing this shit?"
Once upon a time in the quiet English countryside, there lived a rabbit named Hazel. Hazel had a little brother called Fiver, who was a sickly, puny little thing, the runt of the litter. But what Fiver lacks in physicality he makes up for with powerful psychic abilities. Most of the inhabitants of the cozy warren blow Fiver off as a bit of a loony, daft but harmless. But one evening, Fiver freaks right the fuck out, claiming to see the fields around them covered in blood. Rabbit blood. Something terrible is going to happen and Fiver insists that everyone must leave the warren immediately, or die horribly. 

You all with me so far? A puny little bunny is seeing a Shining-esque ocean of rabbit blood spreading across the fields. Buckets of blood, big soggy handfuls! He doesn't even need to crook his little paw and ask Tony what it means - he just knows! He's a goddamned psychic rabbit!

Anyway, Hazel, Fiver and a handful of other bunnies run away in the middle of the night and set out to find a new home. Along the way they are attacked by rats, badgers and their only girl bunny is eaten by a hawk. 

I ate too much Frankenberry.
They come across another rabbit warren, but all of the rabbits already living there are kinda weird. They invite the newcomers to stay with them and assure them it's a good life - they live freely on a farmer's land, and the farmer feeds them out of the goodness of his heart...or does he? If rabbits had a depressive goth subculture, this fucking warren would be their nightclub. The bunnies who live here are withdrawn and morbid, reciting poems about death and worshipping The Shining Wire. Turns out the farmer has laid snares around the grounds, feeding the rabbits to keep them fat and docile, and then laying out traps whenever he gets the urge for some rabbit stew. After nearly losing one of their own to the Shining Wire, Hazel says "Fuck this, we're out" and off they go again.

"I see a little silhouett-oh of a man..."
After a little while, a member of their old warren catches up to them, but he's half dead and covered with gashes and scars. He tells them them that Fiver was right, and that their old warren had been bulldozed by Man. Their holes were filled in and all of the fluffy little bunnies suffocated to death. He was the only one who got away, and shortly after escaping he came across a warren lorded over by the Jabba The Hutt of all bunnies - a huge, psychotic rabbit named General Woundwort, a sadistic Nazi bunny with one blind eye who tortures and humiliates any bunny stupid enough to cross him. 

General Woundwort has better teeth than most Brits.
Hazel and his ragtag group go to war against Woundwort with the help of a Russian kestrel. When the final battle gears up, Fiver goes into another spooky fit and utters the chilling phrase "There's a dog loose in the wood." over and over. Hazel slips away to a nearby farmhouse and looses the farmer's vicious dog, who proceeds to rip apart bunnies left and right, slaughtering the bad bunnies who were attacking and saving the smart bunnies who hid in the tunnels. Hazel and his buddies live happily ever after, until the Grim Reaper Rabbit (called The Black Rabbit of Inle) comes calling for Hazel when his fur starts to go gray and the arthritis has kicked in, and off they go into the spectacular flaming afterlife where Lord Frith rules over all, amen.

Grim Reaper Bunny
Yyyeah, I probably shouldn't have watched this film as a kid, but what the hell did I know? It was a cartoon, it had bunnies in it and I was already tending to the morbid, so it was perfect timing really. I loved it. I watched it every single time it was on TV. At the time, I was too young and stupid to recognize the star power behind the bunnies, i.e. the actors who voiced them, but goddamn, it's a cult film geek's wet dream. John Hurt, Sir Ralph Richardson, Denholm Elliott, Nigel Hawthorne, Joss Ackland, Zero Mostel. The animation (after the opening sequence depicting the bunny genesis) is gloriously un-kiddified, muted and about as comparable to a sanitized, candy colored Disney epic as a cheeseburger to a lump of lukewarm flan. 

It is also most definitely not for kids, although I feel incredibly hypocritical saying that. I watched it as a kid - repeatedly, in fact - and I'm fine. But I'm weird. And I grew up in the 70s, when kids didn't wear seat belts, ate Lucky Charms nonstop and had no idea what ADD was. Kids in the 70s weren't as bubble wrapped as kids today. If Watership Down were released today, it'd have an army of starched and pressed "Can-I-Speak-To-Your-Supervisor" hairdo'ed PTA twats picketing outside theaters in droves, demanding the immediate removal of such violent and graphic depictions of Bunny Genocide from their Kleen Korners cineplexes. God forbid parents actually sit down and watch something with their kids, and explain to them in adult-speak that it's just a movie. That's what my mom did. 
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