8.12.2011

As Metal As A Really Damn Metal Thing!



Greetings! I played hooky from the blog last week 'cuz I was watching Kicker of Elves and his rock'n'roll brethren rock'em some fuck out of a place! It was METUL! Covers of Iron Maiden, Motorhead, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Metallica Guns 'n' Roses, AC/DC, Dio... all your favorites! And also Ratt. :) Not a booty went unshaken and not a head of hair remained unthrashed! If the bar had been a van, you wouldn't have been a-knockin', if you know what I mean. Mighty ruckuses were kicked up! Ears, they bled! Waitresses danced in kind of, I guess, a metal-sorta dance kinda thing, there. There were power-chords and what-have-you. There was none more metal anywhere, maybe in the whole town, even! No one was killed or injured but you sensed they could have been, because, y'know, METUL! It was as metal as anything could be without covering Manowar, which I feel certain was just an oversight. It was so metal that by the end of the night, all the forks in the place looked like this'un here:



Anyway, I was having much fun doing that so I wasn't here and that's why-for. YOU FORGIVE ME, UNDERSTAND?!?! Good, I'm glad we had this talk.

Anyway, I'm here now and ready to disappoint with just more movie reviews, since I haven't gotten enough reading done lately to make sizable posts. But I'm workin' on it, I'm workin' on it.

These are all relatively recent DVD releases. Here goes:




Cropsey (C, 2009) Documentary on an urban legend about a child murderer on Staten Island who supposedly lived in the abandoned Willowbrook Asylum (the documentary doesn't mention it but this psycho, known as "Cropsey," was the basis for the slasher films The Burning and Madman). The filmmakers investigate some actual murders of retarded children and the man who was convicted of the crime, a disturbed man named Andre Rand. Rand may or may not be guilty of the crimes. He's certainly a creepy-looking goon and writes strange, obsessive letters to the filmmakers, but he maintains his innocence, and the Staten Island community does seem a little too eager to have a scapegoat (shades of the West Memphis Three). There are crazy rumors about Rand digging up corpses and having sex with them or serving as a Jim Jones figure for a cult of devil worshipers, etc., which sound implausible under the best of circumstances. The filmmakers have strange dealings with Rand, who seems to be manipulating them, and citizens have lots of bizarre stories about him, but there is no conclusive proof of his guilt or innocence. The study of it is interesting, though. The footage shot in the abandoned mental institution and the woods where Rand had campsites (and where one girl's body was found) are eerie, and some archival footage (from Geraldo Rivera's early days of legitimate journalism before he became a propaganda tool) of the terrible conditions at the institution are disturbing. I'm not sure it really explains everything behind the legend completely, but it's an enthralling, well-made documentary that's worth viewing.






Hobo With A Shotgun (C, 2010) Spawned from an entry in a fake-trailer contest and turned into a legit neo-grindhouse film, this one will assault you with cartoon depravity. Rutger Hauer is a transient who rides the rails into the worst town in the universe. A psychotic crime lord named Drake has taken control of the police force and the town is complete anarchy, with murder going so unpunished that it's just another form of entertainment for lunatics. Hauer saves a hooker from some of the crazies, who carve "SCUM" on his chest for his trouble. He can't stand to watch any more of the depravity around him and he has a high tolerance for pain, so he does some degrading things to get money from a guy making bum-fight type videos. Hauer planned to use the money to buy a lawnmower so he could start a business, but decides his money would be better spent on a .12 gauge pump. His new vigilante career keeps him busy killing all the dirtbags on the street, but Drake can't handle law and order so he has his crazed sons turn a flamethrower on a school bus full of children, threatening to kill more if someone doesn't bring him Hauer's head. In response, the city declares war on the homeless, but Hauer proves not so easy to kill, even when Drake sends out The Plague, a pair of iron-clad stormtroopers whose voices sound like old Space Ghost bad guy, Metallus. The movie's completely ridiculous and would have been better if it had been more influenced by the '70's instead of the 80's (it's obviously aping Troma's moronic splatterfests, but fortunately it's not quite as stupid as those were) but it's still a lot of fun because it keeps trying to top its source materials with new levels of extreme gore and crazy cartoon goofiness (a lawnmower as a weapon, a combo axe/shotgun). It cannot be taken seriously (if it were it'd be too depraved to watch), but it's all played straight, so the comedy comes from it being so over the top rather than just making jokes. Not quite as great as the other big neo-grindhouse project, Machete, but kicks the shit out of something like Hell Ride. Hauer has to be considered one of the world's great good sports for taking on this project, and his presence adds immeasurably to adding legitimacy to the film.



Here's a great (and hilarious) counterpoint from one of my favorite people on Twitter, the lovely AminaMarx. She's always clever 'n' funny and, from what interaction I've had with her, a very much-cool person, so follow her or you 'n' me's gonna fight!




I can't really disagree with her take, even though I liked the movie more than she did... which means I guess I'm not invited to her birthday party (I counted the candles and there were only 12, which would make her very precocious and me too-way-ass-old to mingle well, anyway), but I'll try to make it up to her by watching Blade Runner soon. This originally had a really well-done music video of the most splatterific scenes backed with Joey Ramone's version of "What A Wonderful World," but the YouTube Nazis gave Mina a bunch of copyright flack about it and cheated you of that... but I got lucky enough to catch it before they took it down, and can vouch that it was goodstuff.


Insidious (C, 2010) Scary horror about a family who thinks their house is haunted, only to find that the house is fine; it's their son who's full of haints. The little boy is prone to astral travel, and his spirit goes too far from his body and gets lost, which his parents interpret as his being in a coma. Unquiet ghosts and demons gather around his empty body, wanting to enter it. These supernatural entities create havoc in the home and provide lots of extremely creepy visuals. It may rely a bit too much on jump shocks, but the director is extremely good at them and they still work even when you start expecting them. The creepiness does get compromised a bit when the movie goes into Poltergeist mode and becomes sort of a paranormal adventure, with psychics and ghost-hunters tracking the demons. And I really wasn't into the boy's father entering the other world (known as "the further" - it's always a bad sign when a movie gives fantasy names to its mysteries) to track down his son and rescue him from the evil, but the intensity still remains high and there's a good feel for what's scary... even if the head demon looks way too much like Darth Maul. The movie does a lot without gore or big body counts, and carries an atmosphere or dread that makes it a heavy-hitter. Horror fans must check it out.




[REC] 2 (C, 2009) Picking up where the first left off, but weaving together a more complicated timeline involving multiple sets of protagonists (who all happen to be carrying cameras), this is another grade-A Spanish scarefest. To make any sense of it you will have to watch the original first, because it's not very merciful about catching you up. A SWAT team is sent into the building to try to contain the outbreak, and they find a priest who's seeking the blood of the original possessed girl, which is the only thing that can stop the demonic-possession-virus from spreading. They have a bunch of hard luck and are whittled down pretty quickly by the frantic zombie-like horrors infesting the building, who are now sometimes manifesting more demonic powers, such as crawling on ceilings. Also a group of teens, bored after their bottle-rockets-and-love-doll experiment doesn't work, sneak into the building and soon wish they hadn't. The attacks are frequent and scary but they also get numbingly repetitive after a while because they're so chaotic; there's only so many times a bloody screeching person can run at a camera and attack it before you start thinking "this again?" And the movie relies on jump-scares so much that it could work as a kegel exercise video. The subjective camera thing starts wearing out its welcome in this one because between the darkness and the camera being thrashed around and broken up you end up not seeing much. But the situation is so creepy and the visuals so hellish that none of that matters too much, and this sequel is a very worthy follow-up, as horrific as the first chapter.



Wake Wood (C, 2011) The return of England's revered Hammer Studios, this is a combo of Don't Look Now and Pet Sematery, and even though it's pretty predictable, the classy handling of the material (and the modern levels of gore) makes this a welcome return. A veterinarian and his wife are so bereaved after their little daughter Alice is mauled to death by a dog that they make a dark deal with the magic of the community where they live. By means of a weird and grotesque ritual they can bring Alice back from the dead and have three final days with her. But they haven't exactly been truthful about a few details, and they're a little greedy when the three days are up... and Alice turns out about the way you'd expec if you've been paying any attention to the horror genre. It's got some atmosphere (although not to the level of Hammer's past, but that's too much to expect, I think) and creepy moments, and it doesn't balk at the gory details.




And if that's not enough out of me, you can go read me on Twitter, where you're never far from some fart joke or horrible thing I say about fictional relatives or co-workers. (Actually, some of the co-worker ones are real, but it'll be more fun if I leave it up to you to guess which).

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