Night of the Living Dead (1968)

 

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The kids and I have been watching Eli Roth’s History of Horror and the first episode was about zombies. I figure that the best way to introduce them is to begin with the film that started it all – the original Night of the Living Dead.

My kids act like they’ve never seen a black and white movie before. Well, except for the beginning of the The Wizard of Oz and Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, they probably haven’t. Spoiled brats – we didn’t even have a color TV when I was growing up until I was like 7 or 8.

I seriously forgot how annoying Barbra was. When she recounts to the story of her attack to Ben, she makes it sound like the zombie was trying to rape her. Ugh, false accusations are a thing, ya’ll.

For a film that is fifty years old, it holds up well. The taboos that it breaks are still taboo and still unnerving. The social constructs that it holds up to the light are still valid and the ending is as shocking as ever. My kids were like, “What just happened?”

Victor Crowley

 

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My husband records the weirdest movies.

At first I thought it was a typical slasher movie, but then it went all meta, a survivor writing about a massacre ten years ago and then a group of kids making a film about the events…what events?

Turns out Victor Crowley is the fourth film in a series. I’ve never even heard of the Hatchet series, but apparently, there were three of them before this one. How have I never heard of them???

Was that Jonah Ray in the cold open? IMDb says yes. Look for Felissa Rose (Angela in Sleepaway Camp!) as Andrew’s publicist. Q from Impractical Jokers also has a starring role. Tony Todd was there – blink and you’ll miss it.

Pretty funny for a slasher film. Equal opportunity when it comes to nudity – there were tits and a weener. Victor Crowley also perpetrated some of the most awesomely brutal death gags I’ve seen in a long time – like TROMA level gags. Have you ever seen a killer rip someone’s arm off, shove it up their cooter so hard, that their cell phone comes out their mouth? Me neither! Now I need to check out the first three…

Getting Schooled

The Breakfast Club meets Apocalypse Now – how’s that for a fucking amazing tagline?

The people who brought us The Haunted Trailer were back at Frightmare with another locally made horror film. I was tentatively afraid that Getting Schooled would be a rehash of Haunted Trailer, but it was totally different in tone and content. Lucky Chucky is no one-trick pony. Yes, it’s horror and yes, it’s funny…but there wasn’t a single fart joke in the whole film. Not even a church house squeaker.

A brain. A princess. A criminal. An athlete. A basket case. Yes, all accounted for in this detention class…a detention class in the 80s. (As an aside, the decrepit school used was excellent. If this school is still in service, I feel pity for the students that must cope with the creepy dark hallways on a daily basis.) It’s quite appreciated that the cast is much more diverse than John Hughes whitebread high school. They even mixed up the sexes a little, which was also appreciated. As the film starts off, each of the stereotyped characters acts as you would expect…but when things start getting scary and the characters are under pressure – each of them begins to show strengths outside of their stereotyped area. Of course, this also happens in The Breakfast Club, but I’d argue that in Getting Schooled, the stakes are higher and it’s easier to show how smart the criminal is or what a good leader the basket case is.

Without giving too much of the fun away, Tom Long is as horrifying as he is hilarious as the addled Mr. Roker. Who knew that a Vietnam Vet in a wheelchair could be so scary? (Actually, after all the time I’ve spent at the VA with my Dad over the past few months, I should hardly be surprised. I’ve seen some shit, man.) The single scariest part of Mr. Roker was the sound of his squeaky wheelchair, coming for blood. It’s right up there with “Ch Ch Ch Ch, Ah Ah Ah Ah” and creepy music boxes.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Ron Jeremy as the school’s janitor. It would have been great to see him in a larger role, but even a little hedgehog makes a film better.

The scenes with the principal were actually the funniest. He never interacts with the students, he just fucks around in his office all day…actually what I always envisioned. I knew they didn’t do shit. Oh! And he also called me a RETARD! I’m so fucking honored! (As part of their fundraising efforts last year, you could submit a headshot and the Production Team would give you an 80s makeover and put you in their yearbook . I thought it was just for a prop and forgot about it…but my 80s yearbook photo made into the film! So the principal could call ME a RETARD. Fame is fleeting…)

A solid horror film and somewhat rough around the edges…but the laughs and scares come at an even pace and I never felt bored. I was pleased in the order of the murders…they killed the most annoying characters first. Getting Schooled is currently showing at festivals and conventions, but hopefully it will be available on DVD and streaming soon. You need to see this flick!

Texas Frightmare Massacre

How does Parrish Randall know what dog vagina tastes like?

I guess there are just some questions that I’ll never know the answer to…although, I bet I could ask my 3 year old, because she won’t stop letting the dog lick her open mouth, no matter how much I scream at her. I guess I could try screaming at the dog, I don’t know what is more futile – screaming at a three year old human or a three year old dog.

Speaking of possibly unanswerable questions, was this DVD worth $20? Of course, it wasn’t MY $20, but my friend, Amy, did shell out $20 at Texas Frightmare Weekend, perhaps persuaded by the promise of a free Beavis & Butthead DVD from the goody box. The Director, Joe Francis, was in attendance and quite persuasive as well. We actually stood around and chatted with, um…harassed him and the other stars for about 30 minutes, while we were figuring out if we were going to actually wait in line to see Robert Englund (we didn’t). They were tolerant of what we thought there should be more of in Horror Films…sex with clowns and ass-birthing of midgets, which we may or may not have offered to participate in. This was a fucking funny group of guys, so that played into the purchase, at least a little bit.

This fucking funny group of guys actually made a fucking funny movie. Yeah, it’s a horror film, too – but mostly, it’s a comedy. I prefer comedy horror to straight horror these days…why am I saying ‘these days’? I’ve ALWAYS preferred comedy horror, whether it’s intentional (TROMA or Cannibal! or Chucky or even the Leprechaun) or unintentional (whether they involve Dinocrocs, Chupacabras or Mongolian Death Worms, I’m not picky) – I want to laugh, goddamit! And laugh we did…although it’s quite possible that we had a little help while watching.

The film actually takes place and was filmed at Texas Frightmare Weekend. Having just attended for the first time, we got a kick out of the festival footage. The story focuses on a nerdy fanboy attending the convention and a couple of newly trained security guards trying to track down a serial killer that’s preying on attendees and celebrities alike. The first big laugh is the infomercial on becoming a Security Guard. (I wonder if that’s how my dad got into the security business? I don’t know if he was into blowjobs from dudes, but he DID have a killer fucking mustache.)

The Security Guards’ boss was the funniest character in the film. He was a wimpy looking guy, but the voice that came out of his mouth was pure Drill Instructor. In fact, I was waiting for him to die in a blaze of glory, ala Full Metal Jacket, but Lyle the Security Guard had other plans…Horsey? (What the fuck was that about, anyway?) My husband intended to go to bed early and not have to sit through our giggling shits, but the Drill Instructor Security Boss sucked him in. He sat and watched until the Security Boss got murdered, then crawled in bed. He thought that Amy got her money’s worth just for the Security Boss. When I went to bed, he actually asked me what happened – shocking!

I didn’t quite expect so much nudity. Seriously, where did they find this girl, willing to spend most of her screen time butt ass nekkid in a small independent film? Did she do it for free? Will she get residuals from the DVD sales? If not, she should totally get a check for $1 from the proceeds of Amy buying this DVD! I demand that she be compensated for letting squirrelly assholes hump her on film! I am also pretty sure I saw some cock. Not a rooster, a penis.

The horsehead mask reminded me of the Horse Head Bookends Killer.

Remember when I said that I fucking hate happy endings? I totally DO fucking love happy endings in horror movies. However, I am pretty sure that my definition of a happy ending is warped…I’m not even talking about hand jobs this time. I’m not gonna give away the ending this time, I promise!

So, did we get our money’s worth? Was this DVD worth $20 of Amy’s hard-earned money? The Beavis & Butthead DVD was worth at least $5. Another $1 is earmarked for the butt ass nekkid girl. $3.50 for breakfast that tastes like dog pussy. $4.20 for the Security Guard Infomercial. $1 for seeing a gameboy fall out of the fanboy’s backpack. $2 for the Security Boss’ crazy shit-talking. $3.99 for The Todd to go to Supercuts and fix his stupid shaved head with sideburns. Let me add this up…$20.69! Fuck! We owe Joe Francis 69 cents…I wonder if he’ll take an IOU?

Alive and Lubricated

What exactly has been lubricated here?

As I see it, the word “lubricated” in the title could be referring to one of two things. “Lubricated” as in partaking of alcoholic beverages, as alcohol is often referred to as a social lubricant. Much, much alcohol is consumed throughout the film – in almost every scene in fact. But “Lubricated” could also be taken literally, as most action in the film revolves around the pursuit of sex. There is definitely more talk than action, but a couple of the characters do find satisfaction – physical, although not emotional. I suspect the filmmakers are cleverer (is that even a word?) than they would have you believe and had both connotations in mind when they named their effort.

After seeing both Bums and Alive and Lubricated, I’m really interested in the filmmakers’ curious view of women. Women are portrayed as holding an inordinate amount of power in their world, surely more than they hold in the real world. It’s a malevolent power – as if having a vagina confers the power to engage in any type of behavior without consequence. Of course, the behaviors primarily consist of infidelity – and the women exhibit a sense of entitlement when caught. Almost as if it were their right? If there’s even a shred of truth to Dicky/Dave’s experiences – the filmmakers have hooked up with some seriously fucked up bitches. If I ever go to Canada, I’ll have to give them a big fucking hug. And maybe a wedgie for putting up with shit like that. No snatch is worth that.

What was up with the scene in the park? Some random girl shows up for deep conversation and a swig of beer? Huh?

I also did not understand the part with the tomatoes and the hookers. Must be a Canadian thing.

So my favorite character was Morris. The way he tongued that beer bottle – priceless. There’s no shame in being horny. And although there is a fair amount of shame in paying for sex, it’s probably about on par with dipping into your roommate’s sloppy seconds or digging on fat chicks. Speaking of digging on fat chicks, I like Willy Boy’s entrance music. Sometimes I have entrance music in my head when I enter a room. Sometimes it’s swanky like Willy Boy’s…but sometimes it’s circus music. I guess I need to work on that.

Bums

Warning: there are no actual bums in this picture.

I admit, when I slid Bums into the DVD player, I began watching with the trepidation that usually accompanies foreign films. Five minutes in, I heard the first “aboot” and giggled. I thought to myself, “Am I going to be able to get past this?” I’m not racist against Canadians or anything – except maybe Jim Carrey – but “aboot” makes me laugh. Blame it on South Park, blame it on SCTV, I don’t know. In any case, my fears were unfounded. That first “aboot” was the only time I was distracted by Canadian-ness. I am a retard.

Bums seems to be generated from the same sensibility that spawned Slacker and Clerks back in the 90s. Yes, it’s a day-in-the-life narrative that is not overly plot-heavy. Yes, the narrative is heavy with pop culture references. That being said, I don’t want to be cheap and toss Bums in the same bucket with those two films. The attitude is of homage, not copycatting. The bums in Bums are not throwing those references out there lightly to build cred with the audience. Instead, they’re using those references to examine their own lives, their own relationships. Don and Dave are not arguing over which characters in Top Gun they like best – they are using the characters’ relationships as a metaphor for their own relationship. There were moments that came a cross a bit heavy handed though, the snakeskin jacket bit, for example.

I was surprised at how much I was able to relate to the characters in Bums. Lucy was definitely my favorite character. I identified with her no-bullshit attitude and even saw a bit of myself. (Freshman year in college, I wrote a paper about the sexual attitude confusion caused by my repeated childhood viewings of Bosom Buddies and Three’s Company.) I also got a kick out of the Heather character, but Jill sucked – I wanted to kick her in the teeth. She sucked in a realistic way – I’ve known many girls like her that I also wanted to kick in the teeth. I was disappointed that there was no hot lesbian action. Not because I like lesbians – although I do – but because it fit with her character arc.

Ten years ago, I would have called Bums an Indie, but the term “Indie” has been utterly and completely perverted from what it originally meant. All the big studios make “Indies” now. Most of the Indies sold at festivals still have million dollar budgets and big name stars. A new term needs to coined to describe the films being made by the people – films like Bums and Cornman. The Butler Brothers use the term “guerilla” in their promotional material, which has a certain ring to it…but I also like the term “gonzo.” Unfortunately, the “gonzo” label has been adopted by the porn community to describe their low budget films, so I sure would hate to tack that label on to real films. How about we start calling them “prole” for proletariat?

Cornman: American Vegetable Hero

Cornman is the new Cannibal!

That’s a pretty bold statement, almost on par with saying that orange is the new pink. But there you have it, the literary equivalent of premature ejaculation. I loved Cornman.

Why Cornman, you ask? How can such a stupid movie be named as successor to the throne of Trey Parker? I mean, come on – the dude talks to CORN! Isn’t that the lamest super power ever? As the film so eloquently points out, it isn’t the dumbest super power ever – being able to predict the future through smells is the dumbest and most useless super power ever…

Another thing to love about Cornman? Somehow, the Auschwitz that is the North Texas film community (gotta thank Mike Z for the apt description of our locale) managed to spit out a film that is halfway watchable. It even won Best Comedy in the 2001 Deep Ellum Film Festival. That’s almost like winning something at Cannes or Sundance! Okay, really, it’s not. I just get all wet and excited about stuff that films in Dallas. That’s why I keep on watching Cheaters, no matter how many brain cells it kills.

I also enjoyed Cornman because the makers and I obviously share the same taste in films. First off is the obvious resemblance to The Toxic Avenger. Toxie even makes a cameo appearance in the foot soldier training sequence. Another TROMA trademark, green bromo seltzer vomit, also makes an appearance at the end of the film. A Sgt. Kabukiman poster can be spied in one scene, as well as one for Meet the Feebles. And maybe, just maybe Cornman’s girlfriend is named Sheila for a reason?

How did I come across Cornman in the first place? My husband found a DVD set called “Rural Folk” at Half Price Books and of course, he thought of me – although, I’m still not sure if it was because he knew I would enjoy the films or because I qualify as rural folk.

 

Sideways

I hate wine.

Although I have been known to quaff Strawberry Hill and other Boone’s Farm delicacies – not to mention the occasional “box-o-wine” – I (and most drinkers outside of the hardcore, homeless winos) hardly categorize those things as real wine. Real wine is seriously gross. Red wines, by far, are the grossest, although my distaste for red wine likely dates back to an unfortunate incident involving Mad Dog 20/20. In addition to being grossed out by the taste, most red wines – and cider for that matter – send me into mild anaphylaxis. I suspect sulfites as the culprit, as this also happened to me the last time I ate grapes.

So I bet you’re expecting me to write that Sideways changed all that and I am now itching to become a member of Sommelier Society of America? Nope. I still hate wine, still think it’s gross and still think that wine aficionados are a bunch of snobby tools. (Strangely enough, the movie did make my mother want to try wine. That’s pretty fucking weird, since she doesn’t drink at all.)

It was a good movie though – I enjoyed it, although it was mightily depressing. Movies about losers are always entertaining, likely because by the end of most films, the loser isn’t a loser anymore. Sideways breaks out of that mold – at the end, Miles and Jack are still losers, possibly even bigger losers than when the film began. Imagine Revenge of the Nerds ending after their house is trashed, but before Lewis’ triumphant “nerd power” speech – and that’s Sideways. 2004 was the year of the schlub, just ask Napoleon Dynamite.

Speaking of Napoleon Dynamite, I see these two movies almost as peas in a pod – a very bizarre and misshapen pod, given that the movies couldn’t be more different. Just as Napoleon Dynamite is a film that I would have identified with more a decade ago, I suspect that I identify with Miles a great bit more these days than I possibly could have at 19. Whether that’s due to maturity or attributable to having the weight of several failures (relationships, careers, you name it) under my belt, I’ll never know.

Jack was a right asshole. I guess that’s the determining factor in getting an Oscar nod these days. Asshole losers like Jack are a lot more fun to watch than your garden variety losers like Miles. I’m still confused as to why Paul Giamatti didn’t even get nominated – maybe it’s the bug eyes? I do predict that he’ll get nominated for his role in Cinderella Man and possibly even get a pity Oscar because of his dis for Sideways.

Oh yeah, next time the pay-per-view pre-movie ratings blurb says ‘nudity,’ I’ll try to keep in mind that it may not necessarily be nudity that I want to see. I think that tow truck driver’s nuts made me blind.

  

Nadja

This movie was retarded and boring. And Pretentious – don’t forget pretentious.

In the past, I’d claimed that David Lynch had never led me astray. I’ll never be making *that* statement again. As Executive Producer (and cameo star) of this movie, you’d think that he would have known better…but nope, I was forced to sit through this whole movie on the premise that David Lynch wouldn’t fuck me over. And I had to watch it alone, since my husband left the room about 20 minutes in – it was the menstrual blood.

Menstrual blood? Well, the movie is about a lesbian vampire, specifically Dracula’s daughter. Menstrual blood has to come into play eventually, right? But instead of any kind of vampire action, all we get are long pretentious monologues with gems like “the only pain I feel is that of fleeting joy” and other nonsense. The only monologue that I did like is when Nadja explains that the reason she hated her father is because he forced her to eat bread with too much butter and how she tried to scrape the butter off with a hairbrush. How much butter is too much butter, exactly?

The single most irritating thing about Nadja was the “Pixel Vision.” The IFC trivia at the beginning of the film bragged about parts of the movie being shot in “Pixel Vision” – which was a $45 Fisher Price camera. Sounds avant garde and cutting edge, huh? Nope – it’s just irritating. Anytime something exciting is about to happen, like a death scene, sex scene or likely both – the damn movie becomes all pixilated so you can’t see shit. It’s fucking retarded.

The only thing that I did enjoy was the now dated 1994 soundtrack. Portishead, My Bloody Valentine, Spacehog…all bands that have mostly disappeared off the radar these days, meant a lot in 1994, but mean surprisingly little in 2004. It’s almost like a “sell by” date…

I feel really bad about trashing this film. I’m one of those people that is supposed to appreciate Indie Films, aren’t I? But I’ve got to call a spade a spade this time – this movie is complete crap.

May

May is the kind of film that I look for, hope for and have a helluva hard time finding. What kind of film is that, you ask? The kind that actually gives me nightmares.

They weren’t heinous nightmares by any stretch of the imagination, but there were dismembered cats chasing me through my dreams that night. Not that I enjoy nightmares, but it’s exceedingly rare that a film has any kind of lasting effect on my psyche, negative or otherwise.

May is a bit strange. She has trouble making friends, due to her lazy eye – it tends to put people off. Until she gets corrective contact lenses, that is. Then it becomes obvious that there is a lot more wrong with May than just her eye. Not having much experience in the social realm, she totally botches her first real relationship with a man, by mistaking his perverse filmmaking tastes for a sexual fetish. She then falls into the arms of her lesbian co-worker, not realizing that she’ll fuck anything that moves. Even her cat rejects her…so she’s forced to follow her crazy mother’s advice – “If you can’t find a friend, make one!” Too bad she follows her mother’s advice literally.

You may have seen Angela Bettis in the recent TV remake of Carrie. Although May is a similar role, it stands heads and shoulders above her turn as Carrie – maybe because it’s not familiar territory? Jeremy Sisto stars as the hands of Adam, a character only slightly more sane than the role he’s better known for – Billy on Six Feet Under. Anna Faris is the neck of Polly, the ditzy receptionist/lesbian/deadmeat. James DuVal (The Doom Generation, Nowhere, Donnie Darko) has a cameo as the arms of the punk rocker. A pretty, pretty cast.

Is it me, or does May’s Halloween costume resemble Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas?

Gorehounds may get bored waiting for the pay-off that this film finally delivers. I guarantee that it’s definitely worth the wait…patience, my pet.