Hey, lovers! Have a great weekend!
In my climactic installment of a weeklong litanious set of reviews of movies starring the colossus of clout (the colossus of clout!) Bruce Campbell, I have chosen to take it back to where it all began: The Evil Dead, the ultimate experience in grueling terror. Possibly the greatest depiction of some of the greatest clichès in horror and done with a budget that challenges Clerks for the greatest cheapest film ever made (naw, Little Shop Of Horrors still reigns supreme, god bless you, Roger Corman). It made Bruce Campbell a star (not really) gave Sam Raimi a career (sort of) and still stands among the most eccentric horror B-movies, having an almost Plan 9 From Outer Space vibe that leaves the average viewer feeling left out of the joke that they aren’t getting. Well fear not, huddled masses, I have come to safely explain the nuances of a film that I would gladly take a bullet for. Please make me take a bullet for it. Please?
I don’t want to insult anybody here, but if there’s someone out there who took The Evil Dead at face value and actually considers it “the ultimate experience in grueling terror” should get their head checked. Right from the get go, this film has all the markings of a bunch of nerds got together and made a horror movie they’ve wanted to make since they were fifteen. The acting is atrocious right off the bat, and is practically at the edge of being self-aware. I mean, really, the Brad in this movie is more pathetically played than Brad from Rocky Horror Picture Show, and Barry Bostwick was doing that shit on purpose. Maybe it’s out of place for me to voice a personal opinion here (everything I write is scientifically derived from a movie review formula given to me by Chinese magicians who stole it from the ancient temple of Cinema Obscura) but I’m very disappointed that this film didn’t get a midnight movie party madness with yelling at the screen and throwing toast when Bruce makes his horrible toast. It fit so perfectly. I really wish that had happened, but then again there’s no musical numbers, so no dancing in the aisles.
Does the film have any faults? Well how do you judge faults in a film full of fractures of a funny fancy? I mean, the piece of the bridge falling off that was obviously not part of the bridge, the moon with it’s square outline, the “an animal? hahaha…” line, it’s all ungodly bad, but in just the right way. There are some bad BAD films out there folks, that do not entertain in any way and leave you feeling like you just watched nothing happen, which is kinda scary in itself, but still not enjoyable to watch. I think most films are afraid of seeming silly, so instead they pack in boring dialogue and try for realism by having nothing interesting happen.
Evil Dead’s success is spawned from the inches it stands away from being a cartoon. The idea of being just under over-the-top is nowhere to be found, as Deadites screech and scream and makes noises that would make Marilyn Manson blush. The makeup is amazing, and is one of the few elements in the film that isn’t cheap and humorous, but actually kinda terrifying and very uncomfortable looking. The film actually does turn into a cartoon at the end with some Dynamation the likes of which no Ray Harryhausen film has ever seen. In fact, the end of this film really does turn into something that I’m pretty sure had never really been seen before. It’s like they took the director from an Adam West Batman episode and then had an actor who had actually been tortured and abused, with burns and blood from Ted Raimi’s hand coming out of the floorboards and gashing Bruce’s face (look ma, real blood!). The looks on Bruce’s face and the noises and shadows that surround him virtually immerse you in the surreal realm of a demon’s dollhouse. That’s really the best way to describe the kind of shenanigans that occur throughout the film, imagine you’re a demonic otherworldly creature whose presence is yanked into our dimension but is stuck in the vicinity of this terrible cabin in the middle of the woods, and now, here come some stupid teenagers to stay in the cabin for a weekend of sex, alcohol, and ignoring one’s sister, what would you do?
It’s not the relentless insanity of the second film, or the action-adventure nature of Army of Darkness. The Evil Dead is a pure horror movie whose reputation is only surpassed by the glory of it’s viewing. Really, I don’t think you can over-hype this movie as the ultimate B-horror film. It’s so much more entertaining than Plan 9, and plus, it’s in color!
It’s Friday night, and the mood is right, to get freaky with some Bubba Ho-Tep, possibly the high water point of Bruce Campbell’s acting abilities on film. To compact this film into a general description is to sound like an insane person and probably keep people from hanging out with you. In summary, it’s the time honored classic tale of a man who might be Elvis is rotting away in a retirement home with his friend who is JFK but in a black man’s body and they’re being attacked by a mummy who has a taste for old people’s souls. Ya know, that, thing.
From the mind that brought you four Phantasm movies and three BeastMaster things (he wasn’t actually involved in II and III, but I’ll blame him anyway) comes a heartfelt tale about what happens before you die. Not in the stabby stab “but I had my whole life ahead of me! NOOOO!!!” way, but rather in the “you know, Donald Trump offered my grandson a job yesterday in my front yard last night,” kinda slowly losing your mind because you’re not Tony Bennett, NONE OF US ARE TONY BENNETT!!! Seriously though, that guy can sing, and is still doing so at 86!!!! So yeah, that’s amazing, but I got news for you folks, that aint gonna be most of us. For what you are going to look and feel like in those golden years (whop whop whop) look no further than today’s hero Sebastian Haff (or Elvis, depending on how you look at it). He’ll let you hear him say life’s taking him nowhere (Ang-gel!).
In a genre filled with over the top theatrics and cheap thrills, Don Coscarelli has kept it real by making it fresh with his genius ingenuity stuffed into tales of imagination roasted over flames of fascination. But hey, don’t take my word for it… or wait, do, since that’s why you’re here. There’s some fun in having a different director for each film in a series, but Don is the George Romero variety of filmmaker who gets to write and direct all the films in his series of weird horror that started with his 1979 film Phantasm. Other than The Beastmaster, which he only made the first one of, Don hasn’t done much of note outside his Phantasms other than the not-so-long-ago movie John Dies At The End (which i still haven’t seen, shame shame I know) and of course, the ever-loved Bubba Ho-Tep.
Ok, chances are you’ve already heard about this movie from a friend who may have also tried to show some of it to you and you thought A. What the hell is this? and/or B. Why am I watching this? Well, for starters, this is a movie starring Bruce “Elvis” Campbell and the legendary Ossie “I’m famous for actual good acting” Davis as two old men in an old man buddy comedy that puts I’m Not Rappaport to shame. As for why, I’m glad you asked. This film has all the tones of an old man coughing a joke to you while starting to laugh and cough harder to the point where you’re more concerned about the old man coughing than the stupid joke you had already heard before. This is also assuming that you’re a decent human being and aren’t standing there screaming “DIE OLD MAN, DIE!!!” and you actually did care about this old timer’s health. If not, you probably aren’t going to get into this movie. This film is for that crazy part in all our brains that reminds us that we will always be the heroes in our heads and hearts, no matter how crazy or hate filled we may be. It’s a heartstrings tugging tale of redemption and humanity told through the eyes of those forgotten but not yet gone. It’s also about a mummy.
Bubba Ho-Tep is the name of a Texas mummy who comes to life at night and lives off of the souls it sucks from unsuspecting senior citizens and it’s up to a man who is either Elvis gone into hiding as an Elvis impersonator to escape the perils of success, or he’s an Elvis impersonator who’s kinda wedged his brain, with some help from a little dementia, into believing he’s the real Elvis. Either way, his career ended after he broke his hip falling off a stage during a show, and now he’s hanging out with an elderly black gentleman who is either actually John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of these United States of ‘Merica who was secretly turned into a black man by the government to get rid of him instead of just making him dead, or he’s a crazy old man and, well I think you get it. Maybe that helps you understand the kind of movie this is, or maybe you’re more confused now than before. Either way, I’ve done my job, because we both know you either already love this movie, or are looking forward to loving it thanks to this review and are already putting your boots on and grabbing your coat and hat while still somehow reading this in order to go buy the film. Either way, I’m a happy man, relatively at least.
The Official Video for Screams In The Night by NIGHT DEMON was released today and it’s rad! It features comic book art by the very talented James Dufresne and colored by our very own Dixie Dellamorto!
Until then, you can check out more killer art in his Zine called Dream Evil Vol.1; Movie Monsters, Maniacs and Madmen available HERE!
(a.k.a. Cosmic Charlie)
I don’t dislike Suspiria, with it’s vivid colors and distinct atmosphere all it’s own. Released in the same year that Stars were having Wars with each other, and directed by legendary Italian director Dario Argento, the film is highly regarded for its harsh, early, and stylized murder scene, and for the uneasy feeling the film continues to give you afterward. Now, I’m not saying that that’s all the film has, but the film’s ending is definitely not its strong point.
Let me try to explain without ruining the film for anyone who might plan on seeing it based on my glowing review (oops). The film holds a tension throughout itself like no other movie does, and if you’re a real horror movie fan and not just some freak who likes watching people murdered while wearing his mothers clothes (or your father’s clothes, if you’re an insane woman. Wait, is that how that works? Or do you just smear lipstick all over your face and say “Baby pretty now Momma? BABY PRETTY NOW?!?!”) then you know that horror is all about suspense. There’s that looming danger and you think you know what will happen, but then it doesn’t and something else does and then your little brother says he’s bored and you’re like, “Then you aren’t paying attention, spaz!”.
But for me, this film doesn’t pay off in the ways that Rosemary’s Baby or Taxi Driver does. It feels like a cheap haunted house at the end, and dampens the experience leading up to it. Yes, there are some awesome and very frightening scenes that involve maggots and blind men and plenty of spooky music with smooth camera movement, but the end of the film doesn’t fit the caliber established by those scenes. It’s not a total letdown, like, it’s not as if things don’t happen. In the end, I prefer the ridiculous and outlandish events than, say, just some dude in a cloak explaining everything with a smirk and a girl screaming ‘NOOOOOOOO!’ and then breaking a kerosene lamp which burns the whole place down in a matter of seconds, which you don’t actually see. I was just describing Satan’s School For Girls there, a movie too bad for me to even give a review.
The other big seller of this film is it’s lead actor and protagonist, Jessica Harper. She has a great quality to her that lends itself to the mystery and fear, and allows you to empathize with a character who you can see is going through some stress. This includes when she’s surrounded by actresses who probably did a porn or two (hey, haven’t we all? I’m looking your way Sly Stallone) and aren’t really selling their characters, or just coming off as bitchy since that’s the only tone they can achieve. It lets Jessica shine through as the person who can actually display a spectrum of emotions that are believable and relatable. She kinda reminds me of Ellen Page, who even mentions Suspiria in her film Juno, which is one of the many reasons I disliked her snarky sarcastic and desensitized character in that film (horror buffs hate when some cute girl just likes a horror movie cause it’s the goriest thing she’s ever seen, or we love it because then we can say “oh really?” and pull out Dead Alive or Cannibal Holocaust and watch her face turn white).
I wish I could say Jessica went on to bigger and better things, but I’m afraid the SHOCK TREATMENT she received in 1980 wasn’t quite a success, though I have been told the movie can grow on you (sorry, but, no Tim Curry, me no care. I mean, c’mon, I can deal with no Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick, even though I do love them quite a lot, but Tim MADE Rocky Horror what it was, and not having him come back as, lik,e a Frank-N-Furter clone or something was the nail on the coffin of that one for me. Also, if you have no idea what I’m talking about, then it’s probably best you forget everything I’ve just said and get on with you life already). It’s still fun to watch her sing.
I know someone is going to tell me I don’t appreciate this movie enough and that to say the ending is anticlimactic or that the middle part of the film gets boring is sacrilege, or that I didn’t even mention the amazing score by the band Goblin whose music would appear the next year in Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, which Argento edited for European distribution and included more music from Goblin for… but I have now, and then some, so get off my back! Really though, Goblin is to Suspiria as John Williams is to Star Wars. Not to mention the number of goth musicians created while viewing this films with its completely engrossing score. Possibly my favorite scene in the whole movie is the blind man in the deserted square, where nothing is happening, but because of the music, we feel total fear. However besides those amazing parts, most of the film is not as enthralling.
So maybe you think I’m wrong for my benign feelings on Suspiria, but alas, it my review, so I don’t have to care about what you think, or don’t think, or thought, or shall think again, because that’s what I have trolls/gremlins/goblins living in my ears for. Plus, how can I like a movie that shows us a killer committing a murder at the beginning, and never reveals who that killer was? Sure, we find out who the masterminds were, and that magic was used, but whose arm is that? The world may never know. GOODNITE EVERYBODY!
There’s a place in our soul that we try to fill by extending our understanding of ourselves beyond the realms of reality, looking instead to the nether regions of our minds where the abyss stares back into the eternal darkness of our expanding consciousness. Then there’s images attached to celluloid accompanied by audio bits that synch up with the visual bits and form something we’ve come to call a movie. An American Werewolf In London is one of these movies.
If you’re like me, you know that in America’s present exists in the late seventies and early eighties, before that is the past, after that is the future. So this film takes place in a constant state of ‘now’ like many of the films of those eras produced. I realize you might think I’m biased or that the idea of a present existence in the past is ludicrous, but you are wrong. Just flat out wrong. Like, you are Steven Spielberg in 1979 saying “I think we’ve got a good picture here!” That’s how wrong you are, and I feel bad for you.
Speaking of feeling bad, have you ever backpacked across the moors while in England and been attacked by a naked psychopath? If you answered yes, then you probably shouldn’t read the rest of this review. The man known as John Landis helms what could be considered a horror-comedy picture, but ends up just being more horrifying due to the realism it brings. No, this is no Evil Dead II, but there is a talking corpse that cracks a joke or two while his lycanthropic friend sweats in fear and terror. I really have to hand it to David Naughton, fresh off his stint of being a pepper, who plays David and gives a performance that’s makes you feel like you’re him. You really identify with the way he addresses his lot in the film, trying to get arrested, the dream sequences featuring the Muppets (one of two Frank Oz appearances in the film, technically), the waking up naked in a zoo and having to steal balloons from a little boy in order to cover your shame ’til you get back to the English nurse’s (who you’ve been shacking up with) house. I REALLY identified with that last part.
This movie has it all, some beautiful character development, some early-on and horrifying violence against one of our two, count them, two, not a group of people who would never hang out together lest it be for a horror movie, but two protagonists, and what every horror movie needs, NUDITY! And it’s actually tastefully done and not just a half porn. Perhaps this film’s most glorifying element would be the iconic transformation scene which made this film the Star Wars of werewolf movies. Besides also inspiring Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ Video, the transformation scene is legendary because it not only holds up all these years later, but is easily still more convincing than any over-blown CGI transformations that have undoubtedly replaced the king, Rick Baker’s, mechanisms. The film not only won an award for Outstanding Achievement in Makeup, but was also the reason the award was invented, and therefore the first movie to win such an award.
I love when directors switch genres like Landis did. he had just had a string of hits with Kentucky Fried Movie, Animal House, and Blues Brothers before he decided to take a somewhat more serious route, and it turned out to be the right move. Not so much for a Mr. Spielberg, who after hits like Jaws and Close Encounters decided to turn to comedy for 1941, which turned out to be the wrong move. But Landis couldn’t have had the amazing success without all the amazing makeup effects that Baker afforded him. The way Jack, as a talking corpse, gets more and more decayed in subsequent appearances, is subtle, but integral as a reminder of our own inevitable demise to the black void of decay as our shell deteriorates without a working heart to pump vital fluids to it’s extremities and is finally laid to dust as the wind blows us across the sands of time where we’ll rest in eternity, as our descendants enjoy the thrill of fear perceived by the films that spout off about our miserable fate. So strap in and enjoy An American Werewolf In London, and remember, never tell your dead friend he looks like a meatloaf. It’s just bad manners.
This day in History and a Little-known fact about Mr. Lobo:
For a two months in the late eighties Mr. Lobo made a living by conducting séances throughout Northern California. It is speculated that the spirits of the dead communicated with the living. However, Mr. Lobo‘s activities attracted the attention of the authorities and on November 16, 1988, a séance was interrupted by a police raid during which he and eleven members of his audience were arrested.
It has often been suggested that the reason for Mr. Lobo‘s brief imprisonment was the authorities’ fear that December’s Billboard Hot 100 number-one single, “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” by the American glam metal group, Poison, might be revealed too soon, and given the earlier revelation about “Red Red Wine” by UB40, it is clear to see why the medium might be considered a potential risk. Nonetheless, Colonel Chapman, wrote to the Secretary of State branding the charge ‘overwhelmingly silly’.
Today is the day! If you’re like me, it’s the one day out of the year where no one looks at you funny! If you’re close to a city this weekend, consider supporting a local theater who are showing Horror films — even if the films are crap! Support the genre!
Mr. Lobo and I are going to visit Ma and Pop Dellamorto in Happy Hollow U.S.A. tonight and hand out candy! Happy Hollow U.S.A. is a quiet community set in the twisted woods of Happy Valley. Home of their world famous 13 month long Halloween Festival!
If you can’t make it to Happy Hollow U.S.A. today Dress up, go to a party or stay in and give out candy! Today is our holiday and we hope everyone is enjoying it to the fullest!
The Epic Story so Far:
Alright spooky music fans, it is HALLOWEEN! That marks day 31 of Devin Cönnörs and Myles Arden 31 days of Halloween music project! Today is Halloween, so it’s the thirty-first day of mixes — Tonight’s The Night II. At this point you’ve got enough music to fuel your entire Halloween party! You know the drill: to download the mix CLICK HERE and Follow their Tumblr Halloween inspired content all year long!
Day 30 of Devin Cönnörs and Myles Arden 31 days of Halloween music project! Today is the thirtieth of October, so it’s the thirtieth day of mixes — Paranoia Phobia. To download the mix CLICK HERE and Follow their Tumblr for future mixes and Halloween inspired content! Also check out their new Facebook page!