Saturday, December 27, 2008

A little exploitation makes any night much nicer.....

I have this one second-cousin, named Larry, who has always been somewhat of an enigma. Quirky in several ways, mysterious in others, he's the guy that my pops and other relatives tell weirdly funny childhood stories about, to further explain his eccentricities. Some family members prefer to not engage in one-on-one convos with Larry, in fear of being cornered and forced into strange idle chatter, but not I. In fact, his personality kinks suit my interests more well than most others. Prime example: Christmas Eve, a few days ago. Larry and I got to talking, inevitably circling into a discussion of literature and cinema, two areas of interest we share in common.

The most intriguing bit of nostalgia he blessed me with was a fond memory of sneaking away from his parents as a teen, hopping on a bus into Manhattan, and catching double features of grindhouse-era exploitation cinema. Naturally, my ears perked up, and envy settled in.

The sleazy, sticky-floored, darkly-lit, shoddy-quality-film-reel experience of exploitation double features is one of the many things I wish I could've partaken in; replacing the overpriced, crowded confusion of my local AMC and/or Loews with much more quaint, cost-effective theaters where people were most likely having sex three rows behind you, while a couple of the older gentlemen seated within would probably exit the theater and proceed to break some laws, or at least some sense(s) of decency.

My fascination with the grindhouse experience is twofold: the just-discussed atmosphere of the terribly-maintained theaters, and the low-grade, morally-depraved films themselves. Watching over-the-top-in-gore slashers in the comfort of my bedroom or parents' living room doesn't quite gel, largely because of roommate/parent interferences and "You're fucking sick, Matt" damnations. Being that my setting options for such viewings are limited, though, that is precisely how I checked out two beloved exploitation slashers, 1973's Torso and 1982's Pieces. Months, maybe even a year, back, I'd read how horror aficionado/geek Eli Roth (creator of Cabin Fever, and the Hostel films) organized a double feature screening of both flicks at Los Angeles' New Beverly Theater, an act of "you must see these on a big screen" fandom. Roth is one of those dudes who's seen practically every horror film ever made, and talks about both his favorites and least-liked with contagious glee.

Torso and Pieces are two of his all-time most-cherished, so, regardless of whether I'd watch at home or somewhere more suitable, I had to check them out. And thanks to Netflix, availablity is no problem.

First up, Pieces.

A truly awful film in terms of execution and common sense, but not one without its charms. It's a shameless Texas Chainsaw Massacre derivative, and not something I'd rush back to watch again anytime soon, but I can understand why the Eli Roths of the world swear by it. The set-up: masked serial killer stalks hot coeds on an otherwise-lifeless college campus, slicing and dicing the PYTs with his trusty chainsaw in an effort to construct a jigsaw puzzle of human limbs. His very own Frankenstein's monster. Milton Bradley banned, too-controversial game: Fun with Ed Gein

That's it, plot wise, but really, what more would you expect from an '80s slasher anyway? The dialogue is atrocious, and Pieces has some of the worst dubbing this side of a Godzilla flick. And, even for an exploitation-era horror film, Pieces goes a bit too far with its "rawness" during some of its elaborate kill scenes. Namely, one part where the killer has cornered a cute tennis player in a girls' locker room shower, taunting her with his buzzing chainsaw. She's terrified, understandably, but rather than focus on her scared eyes, director Juan Piquer Simon zooms in on her crotch as she pees her pants. Quite the gentleman's act, right? While watching from the comfort of my couch, even I cringed, and shouted, "Oh come on, man, that's just unnecessary!"

Simon does deserve kudos, however for the bit where the knife jams into the back of the chick's head and exits through her open mouth, all while she's squirming on a blood-filled waterbed. That was quite impressive, and well handled. Hey, what do ya know? Youtube has said scene, in embeddable glory!

Then there's the acting in Pieces, though which is across-the-board subpar. Especially guilty is the main protagonist, a curly-haired, questionably-successful-with-the-ladies, 30-something-year-old university student entrusted by the police department to act as their "eyes and ears," and good-lord is he one of the most annoying, unlikeable characters around. As Pieces moved forward at a gory clip, I was afraid that dude would survive, being that he's the main guy and all, but fortunately I was wrong. Dead wrong. The film's final moment serves him with one fuck of a sendoff, and the concluding image is now up there alongside Sleepaway Camp amongst the most "what the fuck!" final images in horror history. This ending alone salvaged Pieces, elevating it from a forgettable dirtball featuring some pretty nifty kill scenes into a batshit-crazy tour-de-force of awesome stupidity.

I recommend watching this whole clip, but to see the stellar ending image, fast forward to the 1:15 mark. It's fucking amazing. Who knew that serial killer had been some sort of mad scientist with the capability to renanimate a corpse all along? Makes absolutely zero sense, but still rocks hardcore.

Torso, on the other hand, is a much more fascinating piece of work.

Originally, Torso was attached to a print of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and the two were shown as a double feature here in American. Artistically, it's surprisingly impressive, full of beautiful cinematography and shots that even the most tight-collared of film critics would have to commend. Even nicer on the eyes is the film's untouchable roster of female talent, an endless supply of stunningly-gorgeous women that lifts Torso into the upper echelon of eye-candy films I've ever seen. One girl in particular had me seriously sprung, like totally head-over-heels infatuated. Which made her eventual demise unexpectedly tragic (in a purely hormonal sense, of course; her character is as underdeveloped as they come).

Here's her curtain call, a logic-less head-scratcher: she's just avoided a raping at the hands of two motorcycle-riding hippies who had been feeling her up at some random hippie drug-orgy. As an escape route, she's stumbled into the muddiest, most perfectly-fog-drenched woods imaginable (don't ask), where our killer just happens to be hanging out, of course. Enjoy (this is actually a great-looking sequence, if nothing else). You can't get the clearest of looks at the actress, but even quick glances should justify my gargantuan-sized crush on miss thing. And excuse the partial nudity (yes, I do realize that posting such a video will have people thinking, "Matt is pretty twisted, huh? This is the kind of shit he watched during his free time?" Yes, it is. Wanna fight about it?):

Torso is basically another "college students being picked off one by one" story for the first hour or so. During which I was constantly confused and left with no fucking clue as to what was going on. Random people are killed, backstories are given that aren't ever touched upon again. Thankfully, Torso takes an inspired detour for its final 30 minutes, a cat-and-mouse stalker scenario in some fancy villa where four sexy-as-hell chicks have gone to hide from the killings going down on campus, and engage in some steamy lesbian sex (just for the fuck of it). What commences at the villa is all pretty intense, slow moving to effective degrees, and even takes a No Country for Old Men-like "less is more" approach to the deaths of some key characters. Also of worthy note: during the climactic mano-y-mano fight between the killer and the potential hero, one dude lands a sweet-ass dropkick straight out of Jackie Chan's Greatest Hits. Bravo!

Torso has tons of flaws (from some laughable acting, to overlong bits of pointless character exposition), but by the end credits I found myself pleasantly satisfied. If I can get my mitts on a DVD copy for no more than $15, I may even purchase. Because, even like the inferior Pieces, Torso is the kind of film that we'll never see made again, at least here in the States (makes sense that Torso come from Italy, actually). The director, Sergio Martino, couldn't give two shits about acceptance; he simply wanted to push the slasher genre forward with as much artistry and reckless taste-abandonment as he could. Sure, he was far from a Stanley Kubrick-level master, or even Dario Argento, but not many are, anyway.

I'd take something with only half the fun of Torso over a new Saw film any time, any day. Fuck, I wish I could've grown up 20-25 years ago. I would've been in grindhouse nirvana.

Friday, December 26, 2008

There Will Be Blood In The Hallways and Cafeteria

Just watched this again thanks to the IFC Channel.

This is/was one of those DVDs I bought just off the strength of alread-read reviews, and basic knowledge of the film's subject matter, which fascinate(s)(d) me. Watched it a week or so after the purchase, and immediately restarted it and viewed again. One of the quietest, bare-bones movies I've ever seen, but also one of the most hypnotically haunting and can't-shake-off to boot.


The last ten minutes alone are the stuff of everyday-life nightmares. Eeenie, meeny, miney, mo....

The anatomy of a school shooting, as seen/shot through the eyes of Gus Van Sant.

A must-see if you've yet to do so.


Post-Christmas Revival

Merry belated Christmas to who ever visits this little site of mine, by the way. Been running around like headless poultry the past few days, and had a pretty great Christmas yesterday, full of overeating, calorie-rific pastries, happy rugrats, and other joys.

Now, back to posting of weird shit.

Not much to say here, other than it's France's apparent answer to 28 Days Later. France, the current mecca of kick-ass horror. If that's not enough of a sales pitch, slap me in the face and keep it moving.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Diggin' In the Youtube Crates

How could I have not heard this song before today? Thanks to one of my equally-old-school-adoring co-workers, this muddy gem from Saukrates, called "Father Time," has entered my world. And I'm quite the content camper.

Originally unleashed back in '95, apparently. Of course it was---that's when beats like these were the norm, and I could buy new rap albums at will and expect at least six or seven great tracks. Nowadays, well, no comment.

Just bask in the dark macabre here. Feels like a horror movie is playing in the background as the dude Saukrates freestyles. Fantastic.

Somebody give this photographer a raise, stat!

I'm not gonna front and act like I saw this live on the tube during last night's Monday Night Football, or that I even know what exactly happened (though I'd assume this Rams dude was in the wrong place at the wrong time).

These are just pictures that don't come around very often. Practically demand as many forums to be seen as possible.

Spotted over at: Yahoo Sports


Monday, December 22, 2008

2008, The Year in Film (Through My Distorted Eyes)

Late last week, I put together a "Top 8 Films of 2008" list over at the KING Mag website, so I'll spare doing another one here. But in doing said countdown, there was a great number of this year's flicks that I couldn't discuss/single out/insult thanks to space restrictions. On the same token, I'm not in the mood to write ad naus about every f'n movie that left a real mark on me, so here I present, a lazy list of films both great, surprising, and despicable (in no particular orders, and not limited to specific numerical boundaries).

As you can tell, this was a pretty great, diverse year at the movie for yours truly. Great (mostly solo) times.

2008's Movies That I Loved, And Will Watch For Years To Come
The Wrestler
Synecdoche, New York
The Dark Knight
Slumdog Millionaire
Revolutionary Road
Wendy and Lucy
Rachel Getting Married
The Signal
Snow Angels
The Strangers
Let The Right One In
Pineapple Express

2008's Films I Respect And/Or Enjoyed, But Can't See Myself Re-watching Much
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Forgetting Sarah Marshall
Speed Racer
The Wackness

2008's Films That Surprised The Hell Out Of Me, and I Loved Unexpectedly (Or More Than Expected)
Quarantine (a remake of a beloved flick that I expected to drop the ball, but thankfully carried it into the endzone, and then did the Iggy Shuffle)
Role Models
Iron Man
Rock N Rolla
Burn After Reading
The Visitor
Funny Games (another triumphant Quarantine-like remake case)
Tropic Thunder
Step Brothers
(had damn-near written Will Ferrell's once-great-funny off, but he came to play here, as did Mr. John C. Reilly)
The Ruins
Fear(s) of the Dark
The Midnight Meat Train
Kung Fu Panda
Mulberry Street
Hellboy II: The Golden Army

2008's Films That Left Me Indifferent, And I'll Soon Forget...Actually, I Have Forgotten
Miracle at St. Anna
Eagle Eye
Zack & Miri Make A Porno
Sex & the City
Repo! The Genetic Opera
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
The Incredible Hulk

2008's Films That Truly Sucked, With Little-To-No Redeeming Factors, And I'll Hate Forever
The Happening
Seven Pounds
Vantage Point
Righteous Kill
The Spirit

2008's Straight-to-DVD Films That Kicked Much Ass
6 Films to Keep You Awake

....and, looking ahead:
***2009 Films I'm Anxious-As-All-Goodness-Gracious To See...Don't Let Me Down (Yes, This List Is Long...)
Inglourious Basterds
Shutter Island
The Wolf Man
Trick 'r' Treat
The Lovely Bones
Observe & Report
Funny People
My Bloody Valentine 3D
The Unborn
Friday the 13th
The Hurt Locker
Terminator Salvation
Drag Me to Hell
Monsters Vs. Aliens
The Soloist
The Road
Bitch Slap
Last House on the Left
The Crazies
The Class
Jennifer's Body
Black Dynamite
Year One

...and finally, since I'm such a swell guy, a little treat for enduring these long, probably your-time-wasting lists: a pic of this year's biggest "sexy female I'd slept on for far too long" revelation....Mila Kunis.

Points of Interest, Today's Edition

1) Been listening to this dude's music a helluva lot lately, take from this what you/I will. Always considered Cage one of the more underrated lyricists around, but going back to his catalog over the last week or so, it's a truth even more-largely solidified. Dude raps his ass off, and goes at topics and subject matter that are truly secular to him and him alone.


May come off as blasphemy, but in the grand scheme, I may even prefer Cage to Eminem. ***Ducks an onslaught of bile***

2) Iron Man was pretty awesome, though it isn't appearing on any of my own personal nobody-else-cares-about-it-anyway "Best Of '08's Films" lists. But the rumors swirling around its in-development sequel point to Tony Stark's next two villains as:


Black Widow, and Hawkeye. If proven true, the sequel seems in good shape. Here's to Isla Fisher (Wedding Crashers; The Lookout) being cast as Ms. Widow, if so. Cute as hell, charismatic on screen, unconventional for this kinda role. Works for me.

3) Some new on-set images from Inglourious Basterds have popped online? Nice! Ones that show the pain-staking detail(s) that Tarantino continues to achieve = even nicer. I love fake posters, and things of this nature, in films.

Spotted over at: /Film

Alicia Keys wearing a bikini.....

....isn't as glorious as I'd envisioned, to be honest.

Spotted over at: The Superficial

I'm not the biggest fan of privacy-crushing paparazzi shots, but this was one I felt almost obligated to give attention. Alicia Keys in beachwear is quite the hook.

She's still fine, sure. But I'd be lying if I said some of the "seductive mystique" she had hasn't diminished ever-so-slightly. Whatever.

Now, back to reality....

the Thundercats movie we've all been waiting for....

....starring Brad Pitt, Hugh Jackman, and Vin Diesel is....

....still not happening. No chance in hell. But some dudes known as Wormy TV have, at least, imagined "what if," and put together this pretty amazing faux trailer for it.


Spotted over at: Hollywood Elsewhere

Sunday, December 21, 2008

In honor of the great, unfairly forgotten Wonder Showzen

Photobucket least it feels like folks have forgotten. I can count on one hand how many people acually know what the fuck I'm talking about when I hit them with, "Did you watch Wonder Showzen? And, if you did, wasn't Clarence the single-funniest thing on TV at the time?"

Wonder who? Who the hell is Clarence?

It was essentially a kids' show on an unhealthy prescription of acid and date-rape drugs (a truly-adult mocking of Yo Gabba Gabba in design/presentation/structure), and there was some stuff that I couldn't believed MTV sanctioned. I mean, one of the main characters is a penis-head with eyes and pube-hair.


For the uninitiated, Clarence was this big blue hand puppet that some dude wore out in public, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog inspired I'm sure, and would annoy any poor soul who entertained its asinine questions. Clarence's crowning achievement: asking people to explain the "importance of patience" to the kids at home, while testing each person's respective patience through repeated questions, requests to say "louder." Pedestrians got heated, and I laughed uncontrollably.

So many jewels: Beat Kids, on-the-street child reporters who say the most offensive shit; "Slaves! Built the pyramids....Slaves! Built the Parthenon"; Tyler, "America's Most Perfect Child"; Potty Mouth, the kid whose mouth is an actual toilet that spews out endless profanity;

A Wonder Showzen greatest hits, courtesy of Youtube, that has no embed code unfortunately

I'm guessing MTV has stuck the proverbial fork in this one, which is a shame of Cloverfield-monster magnitude. More staged dating shows and kill-me-now Hills spinoffs, but no more subversive, hilarious, button-pushing shit like Wonder Showzen? MTV sucks balls of the largest size.

Said large-testicles on display here....I felt so wrong for laughing at this, but I ultimately submitted to the wrong:

Consider me the one-man promo team for MTV to bring this show back. Two short seasons wasn't nearly enough. Or at least, bring it back rerun style. I can watch my season DVDs whenever I damn well choose, granted, but the sleeping world deserves to see this shit for themselves. Wake up time.


How this dude get his ass either kicked or killed at some point is beyond me.

I watched this "Patience" segment with my dad once, and even Pops Barone lost his shit.

Clarence is one of my top friends on Myspace. He'll forever remain one until he takes his page down. That's my mans and them.