Tuesday, December 20, 2011
A Monster Mash, and/or Bash, a potpourri of the possessed, a ghoulish goulash, a cavalcade of kitchen sinks; 1986's Spookies has everything that a veteran of late night vid-junk needs, well... everything except a plot. Wait, there are a few plots, grave plots for the disposable cast. But we will get to that later. For now, prepare yourself for one of the KVLT'S all time favorite slices of cinematic schlock, Spookies.
The movie opens with a kid named Billy, who has run away from home because his parents have forgotten that it was his birthday. Billy ends up at what appears to be an old funeral home next to a cemetery. After deciding to have a look inside, Billy is pursued by a creepy undead magician and his were-cat henchman with a hook hand who is also wearing looks to be either a pirate shirt or a bad Prince costume? The KVLT is not even making this up. Then, in true-to-form classic b-movie fashion, a group of obnoxious twenty somethings looking for a party take a wrong turn and end up at the very same funeral home. Once inside, they too are being stalked by the sorcerer, the hook-handed were-cat and a legion of randomized bloodthirsty creatures. Somehow this has something to do with the resurrection of the sorcerer's late wife. The problem is that she appears to already be alive and not too happy about it either. So why then does the maleficent magician send his undead army to brutally dispatch a group of young people just looking for a party? Maybe the evil magician hates uninvited guests? Maybe he was bored and just needed to blow off some steam? Maybe worrying too much about the glaring inconsistencies and flaws in Spookies will only result in headaches, nausea, and nosebleeds?
If you are a fan of old school analog movie make-up, Spookies delivers the ghoulish goods tenfold. It almost seems as if the entire budget was spent solely on special effects. The parade of creatures include, but are not limited to: zombies, muck men, a spider lady, shape-shifting were-cat with a hook hand, an evil magician, a vampire kid with an ice-pick, a flying witch, demons of varying sizes, an undead bride who looks like a B-movie Winona Ryder and the Grim Reaper!
As the great drive-in and B-movie guru, Joe Bob Briggs has said, "a movie can be anything, as long as it's not boring." The KVLT could label Spookies as being unintentionally funny, cheap, incoherent, a hodge podge of horror
cliches, but rest assured its anything but boring. The whole movie clips along at a very fast pace like a wacky gameshow and with every look behind "door number 3" there is a new monster eager to claim the lives of the unlucky contestants. So flip your brain's autopilot switch to the on position, and enjoy the raucous ride. Intellectually speaking, Spookies is kind of like watching Deal Or No Deal, but with just a little more demonic possession and gore.
Fun Facts about Spookies:
Spookies actually received a very limited theatrical run, but most people remember renting it during the late 80's and early 90's or seeing it featured many times on cable during USA's late night show Up All Night.
Originally titled Twisted Souls, financial backers stressed legal and creative concerns with the original filmmakers during post production. Another director was brought in to shoot new footage, that footage was spliced in with the old footage and from this creative cocktail the awesomely atrocious, Spookies was born.
Tracking down a real copy of Spookies may prove to be an arduous task since it has never been officially released on dvd, and vhs copies can go for as much as $40 on Amazon.com and Ebay.
Saturday, December 10, 2011
How's this for an original movie premise? Two friends, Marty Malt, and Gus live, and work as garbage men in a post industrialized wasteland. Gus is content with living a sleazy subsistent existence as a metaphorical human cockroach, living off what he and Marty find at the dump. Marty, however, has aspirations of becoming a stand up comedian. After some failed attempts on stage during a local amateur night, Marty decides to give up on his dreams of being a comic. The next day he wakes up with a strange lump in between his shoulder blades. Over the course of a few days, the protuberance forms into a fully functional third arm. Mortified, Marty tries to keep his new limb a secret, but Gus and a sleazy talent agent named Jackie Chrome view Marty's newly acquired appendage as a gimmick to be exploited in the screwball sideshow world of showbiz.
blasé of the old "third arm out of the back trick" than the musical accompaniment of a deviate with an accordion.
A movie almost too bizarre for it's own good, The Dark Backward carries and unabashed heart on it's sleeve for the outlandish, and reads like a love letter to, from, and for the terminally weird. In spite if it's overarching oddness and the fact that it was Director Adam Rifkin's first feature, it sports an unusually ample budget and a strong Hollywood cast with names like Judd Nelson, Bill Paxton, Wayne Newton, James Caan, Rob Lowe, and Lara Flynn Boyle. Most of whom knowingly took a bit of a paycut, compared to their usual fare, because they loved the script's original approach, zany characters, surreal setting, and it's tongue-in-cheek mockery of the entertainment industry. On the dvd's bonus features section James Caan and Bill Paxton speak about their mutual affinity for the film. They've both said that it was among their best personal performances and that The Dark Backward remains one of the most cherished projects in their careers.
The KVLT would love to party with Bill Paxton, or at least party like Bill Paxton. Clearly, the man knows how to live.
Some of the oddities therein; Bill Paxton constantly playing an accordion, Bill Paxton constantly eating random rancid food stuffs, Bill Paxton having a ménage à trois with three morbidly obese women, Bill Paxton licking the corpse of a dead woman who was discarded in a landfill, James Caan as a quack doctor who makes his patients pay for their bill by having sex with his nurse, a viking woman playing a human xylophone comprised of midgets in sailor suits, a drainage gutter spilling out dead fish, a bloody send-up of the Tom and Jerry Show that predates Itchy and Scratchy, ads for a company called Blumps who make disgusting products like squeezable bacon, cheddar scented cheese, weaselroni, and pork juice. For a movie of it's strange caliber, it's shot very impressively. Boasting comic book style camera angles and odd neon lighting techniques that accentuate the filth and slime that clings to every frame of celluloid in The Dark Backward, creating a sort of devil-may-care despondence and a day-to-day casualness toward the parade of aberrations within the film.
The Dark Backward's deliberate dementia is clear. But, it's overall intent is to pull back the curtain to shed some limelight on the abysmally deep, dank, lint-caked naval of showbiz' bloated underbelly. A lesson that proves even those with wax wings and the best intentions can fail to realize that maybe Hollywood isn't the Sun in the proverbial solar system of artistic success. Watch The Dark Backward. Celebrate the awkward.
Fun Facts about the Dark Backward:
In preparation for the awkward, nebbish and funny-as-a-crutch character of Marty Malt, director Adam Rifkin signed actor Judd Nelson up for open mic nights at local comedy clubs before filming. Judd performed in character and in full costume so that no one would know that it was actually him. And in true troll form, they used the purposely written bad jokes from the script as material.
Advertisements for the fictional company Blumps Industries, can be seen throughout The Dark Backward as well as in most of Adam Rifkin's movies. In fact, Blump's Squeezable Bacon was recently referenced by Charlie Sheen during his media-hyped fifteen minutes of shame. The public just thought that it was another weird Sheen-ism like "Tiger's Blood", and "Winning". But in all actuality, it was a Blump's ad recycled from The Dark Backward and reused in The Chase, in which Sheen starred.
In Adam Rifkin's segment of drive-in era spoof Chillerama entitled "Wadzilla", scenes from the Twinkie Doodle Show, a fictional variety show in The Dark Backward, are shown in the background, on a tv set, and in between newsreels.
Apparently, Adam Rifkin had written the entire screenplay for the The Dark Backward when he was only 19 years old.
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Seasons Bleedings. It's that time of year again! "To Deck The Halls with The Bowels Of Holly" and to make sure that "the children are hung by the chimney with care." That's right folks, it's time for a little X-mas Ex Mortis! Don't we all need to blow off a little holiday shopping steam by watching old St. Nick do what most of us fantasize about, which is killing everyone in his path, whether they are naughty or nice? Or inversely, to watch Santa get his bloody comeuppance for playing a pivotal role in instigating the commercially-charged economic rape of a holiday? Fear not, dear readers! KVLT VISIONS has the gift that keep on living long after the giving.
As with most slasher flicks, the premise is very straightforward. It's your basic "man pushed beyond his limits of restraint, hence, man goes on a murderous rampage" story. The plot revolves around a young boy named Billy who witnessed his family's roadside murder on Christmas at the hands of a maniac in a Santa suit. Billy is then sent to St. Mary's Orphanage. Throughout his adolescence and formative years, Billy, is subjected to a steady regimen of harsh "spare the rod..." corporal punishment at the hands of the school's Mother Superior, who makes Nurse Ratchet look like Florence Nightengale. Eventually Billy turns 18 and leaves the orphanage and gets a part-time job at local department store during the holidays. Under the duress of seasonal work, post traumatic stress disorder, and being forced by his employer to don a Santa Claus suit during an after hours office party, Billy snaps delivering his own brand of sadistic justice and yuletide terror to anyone that gets in his way, each time uttering the word "punish" before he kills.
Not the first killer Santa flick, but definitely the first to gain notorious notoriety. Panned and banned by moral majority watch groups in the US. and the U.K., the PTA, and mainstream critics like Leonard Maltin and Siskel & Ebert, Silent Night would not go away so silently. In fact, the negative publicity seemed to only heighten the public's awareness of the film, causing those with an already piqued interest to race out see if it was as bad as the critical witch-hunters had made it out to be. Silent Night... actually out-grossed Wes Craven's now horror classic A Nightmare On Elm Street druing it's opening weekend in United states and aside from being a top rental in the early 80's vhs boom, has gone out of print both times it was re-released on dvd. There are even talks of, and I shudder to say, a remake.
Keep in mind that this is not a Hitchcockian whodunit, or a spicy Italian giallo. This is hard-edged, demented, and at times sleazy American horror in the vein of Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer, but with a little more holiday flare. From the very beginning, the audience is made completely aware of who the killer is, and what his motives and methods are. Since the mystery is out on who the killer is, this puts the audience in a place of theoretical moral and/or ethical complicity, as accessories to the gruesome murders happening on screen by proxy. Which is probably why the critics railed against it upon it's initial release. At the time, few films outside of Bill Lustig's slasher classic Maniac, I Spit On Your Grave, and Last House On The Left, which were all demonized by the same critics mentioned above, have shown the audience what it was like to view the world through the eyes of depraved, deranged killers. The critics seemed to think that the world just wasn't ready for Jolly Old St. Nick and his murderous ways during the holiday hustle and bustle of 1984. Perhaps they were truly frightened and appalled by what they saw, which, I shouldn't have to point out, is the point of watching a horror movie. Or maybe they were just using their positions in the public eye to prop up a moral soapbox to foster higher ratings for their television shows and magazine and newspaper editorials? Either way the proof was in the pudding in that before Silent Night, Deadly Night was pulled from theaters by the angry moral majority, it actually out-grossed Wes Craven's modern horror classic A Nightmare On Elm Street opening weekend.
In the end, it's impossible to ignore that Silent Night, Deadly Night took cues from the then burgeoning concept of the holiday slasher flick and amped them up a few notches. Packing in more on-screen violence, insanity, and mayhem than all of the previous holiday themed horror flicks prior, Silent Night Deadly Night perfects the killer Santa formula ushered in by Tales From The Crypt: The Movie (1972) in a segment entitled, "...And All Through the House." Like so many gift boxes, bows, and wrapping paper the formula for the killer Santa movie was recycled in Silent Night Bloody Night (1974), Black Christmas (1974), Don't Open Until Christmas, To All A Goodnight (1980), and Christmas Evil (1980)
In the KVLT'S psychtronic eyes, Silent Night Deadly Night is a perennial favorite and has it's place amongst the offbeat celluloid holiday mantle pieces like Black Christmas (1974), Gremlins, Die Hard, and Lethal Weapon. The KVLT guarantee's that after viewing Silent Night, Deadly Night, that you'll be in the throes of the holiday spirit, the death throes that is. Just make sure that you say "punish" before you commit your holiday atrocities. Because you know that every time you say "punish" before you violently assault someone on Christmas, Billy, dons his bloodied Santa suit and tears off an angels wings.
Fun Facts about Silent Night, Deadly Night:
Look for scream queen Linnea Quigley in an early, and yes, topless, role.
Quentin Tarentino and Robert Rodriguez have both been quoted in saying that they realized that they had to work together after they found out that they both can quote Silent Night, Deadly Night from start to finish,
In the United Kingdom, it was never technically ruled as a Video Nasty, but it was nonetheless banned outright until 2009
In protest of the film, Siskel & Ebert read the credits aloud on their television show saying, "shame, shame, shame" after each name.
Angry parents actually succeeded in having Silent Night, Deadly Night withdrawn from theaters with constant picketing at each showing and a signed petition.