Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Fulci Lives! Torben Rules!

Bob, Sage, and Dave over at the mighty Grindhouse Releasing have unveiled another masterpiece in the 2 disc set of Lucio Fulci's lost classic "Cat in the Brain", out today. In Fulci's "8 1/2" he plays himself, plagued by his own movies. This self reflective film becomes even more insane when one realises that the maestro cannibalises (ahem) scenes not only from his own pictures ("Touch of Death" and "Ghosts of Sodom"), but also from others, such as Andrea Bianchi's "Massacre" (which Fulci worked on). Total gore for the hounds in this giallo. Grindhouse does it up right (as usual) with incredible restoration, amazing unseen interviews with Fulci, and footage of his 1996 Fangoria appearance just before his death. Liner notes are by daughter Antonella Fulci, author David J Schow, and Eli Roth. Pick it up or die!

Also out today, and even more obscure, is quite possibly the sleaziest piece of Eurotrash of all time, Denmark's "The Sinful Dwarf" (1974). A crazed (and obviously sinful) dwarf, played by former kiddie-show host Torben Bille, lives with his drunken, Carmen Miranda-obsessed mother in a boarding house. They keep young teenage sex slaves in their attic, get them addicted to heroin, and invite businessmen to pay money to taste their wares. They also deal smack on the side. The sexual depravity has to be seen to be believed. Back when Dave Depraved and I were brainstorming ideas for our "horror doom" band Blood Farmers, the grainy VHS copy of this was always visible in the haze of pot smoke. Fellow Doom brothers OGRE even used an iconic image of Torben on the cd of their album "Dawn of the Protoman". Thank you Severin Films for unearthing this lost masterpiece of sleaze!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Film Review: Twilight

Slap me, punch me, beat me, strangle me with clothesline, garrote me with rusty barbed wire, impale me on the inverted cross of death, disembowel me with a garden trowel, shoot me in the face with a double barrelled shotgun, crucify me upside down, bury me alive, stone me, cut off my eyelids with razorblades, carve "war" on my stomach with a kitchen knife, put my head on the axeman's chopping block, slap electrodes on my balls, cut out my tongue, pour Drano down my throat, castrate me during fellatio, decapitate me with a chainsaw, feed me to sharks, insert a burning red poker into my rectum till it comes out my mouth, cannibalise me, pull out my fingernails with a pair of pliars, dump me in a vat of acid, shove a quarter stick of dynamite down my throat and light it, bust my kneecaps with baseball bats, drown me in a bathtub, slash my throat with a straight edge razor, set my hair on fire, feed me to a pack of rabid dogs, pour gasoline on me and light a match, bash my brains in with a brick, ALL BECAUSE:

I LIKED "TWILIGHT" (even though my buddy Will Broadbent called it "High School Musical for Goths").

Then again, I liked "High School Musical" too...

Comment away:

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Film Review: Combat Shock

The greatest Vietnam war movie filmed completely in Staten Island, Buddy Giovinazzi's "Combat Shock" is also one of the bleakest, scuzziest movies ever made. Shot for $40,000 in 1984, the film is basically a visual reenactment of the harrowing no-wave 1977 classic "song" by Suicide "Franky Teardrop". Buddy himself has acknowledged this in interviews; both song and film describe a day in the life of Franky, a Vietnam vet living in squalor with his annoying wife and Agent Orange deformed baby. The no budget gives the film a gritty edge that makes it completely uncomfortable to watch. Buddy's older brother Ricky plays Franky perfectly: shuffling around battle-torn Staten Island in a black trenchcoat, with greasy long hair and scuffed-up Converse high tops, he is the epitome of the aimless loser. His only friend is a hopeless junkie who dies of an OD in a nasty scene, he owes money to a sleazy thug named Paco, he is rejected by his family, and his attempts at crime fail miserably. With nothing left but the horribly vivid Vietnam flashbacks, Franky gets a gun and methodically shoots his wife to death, shoots his mutant child in the face (then throws it in the oven), and shoots himself in the head. Movie over. Like its obvious influences "Eraserhead" and "Driller Killer", "Combat Shock" is a no holds barred descent into madness and delirium that still holds up after 25 years. Easily the best thing to ever come out of the Troma factory.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Film Review: Last House on the Left (2009)

"To avoid puking, just repeat 'It's almost a remake, it's almost a remake"

I had to do it. Went to the very first screening with 12 other idiots. Such is my love for the original, that I had to see what kind of travesty the "geniuses" of the modern horror film would make of the quirky but depraved Craven classic. After sitting through all 100 minutes (!) of this "reimagining" (as they like to call them these days), I can honestly say that if this came out today as a completely original movie, I'd probably say "that was pretty sick; not bad". However, as a remake it fails on all accounts. How shall I count the ways? Note: tons of spoilers, but who cares when such a crime against a classic piece of horror cinema has been commited?

1. The script, by a couple of young nobodies, is practically non-existent. Since the movie relies on nothing but action, gore, and people staring each other down, the characters are given NOT A SINGLE MEMORABLE LINE, therefore none of them are developed whatsoever as people. What was great about the original is that each of the "baddies" had their own personalities, with good and bad qualities. Here they are just generically evil. With nothing to work with, the actors (save Sara Paxton as Mari and maybe Monica Potter as her mother) have no choice but to be humorless and wooden.

2. The overall tone and look of the film is exactly in keeping with all the other "torture porn" modern horror trash out there: humorless, dark in tone and look, ultra violent and gory, but completely empty. Sure, it's "brootal", but so what? Might as well see "Saw 6" or "Hostel 3". If they're doing a remake, they could have kept a LITTLE of the original's campiness.

3. Mari lives! WTF? The rape is by nature unsettling, but a crucial difference with the original is that here Krug rapes Mari from behind and we see her crying face, but not Krug's. This doesn't pack the punch of David Hess drooling into Sandra Peabody's face. Also, he doesn't carve his initials in her neck (why?). Instead of Mari's comatose walk into the lake and subsequent execution, here she gets up from the rape, smashes Krug with a rock, and escapes into the lake swimming a mile a minute (she's a competitive swimmer). Krug manages to shoot her in the upper back, but she swims all the way home. Doc Collingwood heals her, and after dispatching the baddies, they take her to the hospital as the credits roll. Lame. Also, the baddies' "moment of remorse" is left out, an important omission, as it shows how in the original, the killers were humanized; here they aren't.

4. Junior ("Justin") is not a junkie, nor does he deliberately deliver the girls up to "Krug and Company". He's partying with them in the motel room and thinks the gang will be out for a while. He just seems like a dumb kid. In the end, he even betrays the gang by giving Mrs Collingwood Mari's necklace and Doc Collingwood Krug's gun. Instead of the crucial "blow your brains out" scene, Krug just stabs his son with a fireplace poker, but the Collingwoods save him in the end and he survives with Mari. Lame again.

5. The killers don't take the girls into the woods for torture deliberately; Mari causes them to crash the car in the woods, and they are stuck there. There is no "piss your pants", no enforced lesbianism, no real torture at all. Phyllis ("Paige") is stabbed as in the original, but there is no disembowelment or amputation of her hand.

6. Weasel ("Francis") dies, but there is no castration, and the infamous "dentist" dream is left out. Instead he is stabbed, has his arm shoved down a garbage disposal (?!!?), and given a claw hammer to the head. More mundane is Sadie's death; instead of the catfight with Emma Collingwood, she is simply shot twice in the head. Boring.

7. Doc Collingwood doesn't set any of Craven's trademark "traps" for Krug. Sure, they were goofy in the original, but it was fun amidst the carnage. This movie takes itself so seriously, that Krug and Doc have a battle royale all over the house that goes on forever. In the end, the Collingwoods subdue Krug, paralyze him by some kind of surgery, and stick his head in the microwave (which mysteriously works with it's door open!), where it explodes. Come on, people, no chainsaw? And they call this a "remake"?

8. Finally, ex-Disney and Lifetime Network uber-babe Sara Paxton strips down briefly to bra and panties, but no nudity, even during the rape. Come on, people.

Saturday, March 7, 2009


I just saw an amazing video of the great Vancouver punk/hardcore band DOA from 1980 and was reminded of just how choice they really were back in the early 80s. Often overlooked for not being "core" enough, they (like Black Flag and Dead Kennedys) were literal trailblazers, touring relentlessly when there was no network at all set up for bands visiting foreign lands. I saw them in 82 or 83 and they put on a hell of a show with their politically charged yet fun twin guitar assault. Joey Shithead always seemed like your goofy, lunk headed next door neighbor, ready to share a beer and fuck some shit up. But inside, you knew he was smarter than that....

And the records! 1979's "Triumph of the Ignoroids" 12" and the "World War 3" 7", and the holy trinity of 1980-1982: "Something Better Change", "Hardcore 81", and "War on 45". I always loved The Clash, but it seemed around 1981 or 1982 they started to get their heads up their asses musically. DOA stepped in to fill the void. Anthems like "The Enemy", "Fucked Up Ronnie", "13", "Woke Up Screaming", "Smash the State" and "America the Beautiful" blasted 80s complacency and rocked to boot.

Finally, there's Chuck Biscuits. He was 15 YEARS OLD on the 1980 video that I saw, and was as amazing as Keith Moon in 1969, I shit you not. There's even footage of him at 13 (!) thrashing away at an anarchist rally DOA played in 1978. Most people (idiots) think of him as the "Danzig" leather guy, but he was in DOA from 1978 to 1981, he played with Black Flag for the infamous unreleased and untitled 1982 "metal" album, and he bashed away for Circle Jerks in 1983 and 1984. I met him during this period and he drew me an awesome cartoon self portrait on the back of a gig flyer. I still have it. Nice guy all around.

DOA are still out there kicking butt, and Joey even wrote an entertaining autobiography about his life in music and politics, called "I, Shithead". He still runs a DIY label (Sudden Death Records) that has been reissuing the DOA back catalogue and other underground Canadian bands. Do yourself a favor and pick up "Bloodied But Unbowed", 19 classic tracks from 1980 and 1981; punk DID matter once, and DOA is one reason why.