Thursday, October 23, 2014

Someone needs to give anti-depressants to the depressed drama queen dog in my neighborhood who always lets out a fuckin' three-minute lament every time a siren is heard. And I live in a shitty neighborhood, so it's sirens, like, every 10 minutes.

Yeah, I'm sure you know what's going on over New Beverly Way, some crazy shit that either you don't care about or you've gotten yourself worked into a Cujo-like frenzy of foamy mouth. As for me, times have proven time and time again to be too interesting to get worked up about it, or anything, for that matter. Par for the course on this island Earth, my fellow castaways. All I can say is pack plenty of lube and condoms, 'cause before it all ends, you're getting fucked or you're doing the fucking. And once/if you realize that you can also observe the whole ride as some kind of fucked-up cinematic masterpiece playing out in real time (directed by an aloof/petulant asshole tyrant) you'll be able to derive pleasure, regardless of position. And me, dear reader, I like to feel good ALL the goddamn time. Those tears in my eyes? Shit, bro, that happens whenever I yawn.

Anyway, the marathon that I know and love -- the All Night Horror Show -- is now at the Silent Movie Theatre/Cinefamily a couple miles away, where the seats have it in for your ass. Now, I've done all-nighters at Cinefamily before, but I was as drunk as Mariah Carey on a good day during those, so it wasn't like I gave a shit and plus they had pillows back then. Now, in my sober state I've learned that apparently your ass raped and killed the Cinefamily seats' family some time ago and now the seats wanna go Paul Kersey, introducing your cheeks to Jesus Christ via .357 caliber bullets. Speaking of Jesus Christ, that's who your ass is. Playing the part of the Romans -- the Cinefamily seats. What I'm trying to say here, people, is that the seats -- specifically the folding chairs placed along the aisle -- are uncomfortable.

But no one is forcing you to go to this theater, sir. You coulda stayed home on your comfortable hipster bean bag and watch all the fuckin' films you wanted with no buttock pain. You wanted to go. You needed to go. So why you don't just shut your fucking mouth and continue rambling about the marathon?

OK, fine. But just give me one more seat digression: Before the show started, I overheard some guy standing in the aisle (waiting to use the Juan) complain to his friend that he bought a ticket for a couch seat (Cinefamily's first two rows consisting of couches that cost extra) and that his assigned comfy couch seat was located in the far left. He said something like "I paid $25 for the worst fucking seat in the house" and strangely enough it wasn't followed by him saying "Wow, I sound like an asshole saying this near people sitting on folding chairs put out on the aisle a few inches from me".

And you sound like an asshole typing this to people who didn't attend. But such is your custom, so sail on, sailor.

It was nice to see Heavy Midnites' Phil Blankenship and Grindhouse Film Festival's Brian Quinn join forces in programming this motherfucker. It felt good to see them stand together on stage, it was not unlike watching Michael Dudikoff and David Bradley get together to kick ass in American Ninja 4: The Annihilation. During their intro, Phil and Brian brought up how they chose films that hadn't been screened in quite some time, rather than go for more obvious choices. They thanked not only the various archives and personal print collectors that made these films available (all in 35mm), but the studios themselves for hooking them up.

They talked about how one helped the other out in setting this up; I want to say it was Phil who offered his help to Brian, but I'm not too sure because my hearing frequency was picking up signals from the other station, where the DJ's were helping latecomers find seats and telling them that they would have to split up their group and have two sit in one section and one could sit in another a few rows down. This group seemed slightly perturbed, this group that showed up late.

Anyway, Phil and Brian were doing things a little different this time. Past All Night Horror Shows always had one Secret Film that would keep the audience excited and guessing, but this entire night was going to be all Secret Films. Aside from Phil, Brian, and the projectionist, no one else knew what would screen that night. So that was pretty cool, thought the blogger.

After a trailer reel, the first film turned out to be Bad Taste, the world's introduction to Peter Jackson. This was his first movie, shot on 16mm with his mates on weekends over a four-year period. It's a funny gross-out joint about aliens coming down to a small New Zealand burg to harvest humans for their fast food chain. Based on what the head alien tells his minions, with this new addition to the menu, the "Crumb's Crunchy Delights" chain is going to smash the competition -- which made me wonder about the other fast food establishments there must be in outer space.

I mean, if Crumb's is going to dole out human flesh like they were Big Macs, that would make them McDonalds, right? Well then, if I was a space alien I'd invest in creating the extraterrestrial version of Chick-fil-a, and I can come up with cute/lame advertising of aliens in human costumes defacing billboards with cutesy misspelled scrawls like "EAT MOR BOGHOGZ" or whatever the fuck other choices are out there for aliens to eat.

Anyway, to figure out what the fuck is going on, the government sends down "The Boys", who I guess are supposed to be a badass investigation/disinfestation squad, but look more like a group of regular dudes with day jobs at the local newspaper -- which is what they are, being Jackson's buddies and all. Various gags ensue, with plenty of jokes, gore, and EWWW. It's entertaining in an El Mariachi sort-of-way, watching what Jackson was able to do with very little money and a whole lot of passion.

I remember watching the behind-the-scenes doc on the DVD and tripping out on how Jackson had to build most of what he worked with; he created his own Steadicam, his own camera jib, he created the alien masks using his mum's oven, he even built his own (fake) guns. The effects were homemade & handmade, whereas if this movie were made today, he'd do all that shit on his computer, and no one would give a shit about his film because those days are over. He'd have to go to Kickstarter and promise to fellate his investors just to work up the same exact budget for his follow-up. Fuck that shit.

Phil told us that nachos, pizza, and various snacks were made available outside at the patio, and beer was available for purchase as well. Some people brought their own, though; the group in the row in front of me had stubby bottles and pillows and sure enough, they later took turns nodding off.

The next trailer reel came courtesy of Quentin Tarantino, who is either the savior or Antichrist right now, because there is no such thing as in-between. They were mostly for giant monster films like Gamera the Invincible and Varan the Unbelievable, as well as one of those beach flicks starring Frankie and Annette.

The second film, according to Brian, hadn't been screened in L.A. for about 30-40 years. It was a beautiful print of The Monster of Piedras Blancas from 1959, a Creature from the Black Lagoon knockoff that was pretty silly but good times nonetheless. This would've been great on MST3k, but I guess I'll accept a Rifftrax version, if that's what it takes.

It's about a lighthouse keeper who's kind of a grumpy dick of an asshole but he has a soft spot for the scaly fuck who feeds on the meat scraps the old man leaves behind for him. Everything seems OK until one fateful day, when the lighthouse dude shows up to see the local butcher/storekeeper/insurance agent named Kochek and finds out this man with the indeterminate accent sold his meat scraps to some other dude. Because of this, the impatient creature ends up going out into town to get his own food, which means he ends up decapitating motherfuckers and drinking all their blood because that's where the flavor is.

The Monster, he does not discriminate, he will kill male and female, old and young. Speaking of young, that was one of my favorite parts of the movie, where this catatonic father is carrying his little girl's body with a sheet draped over her, with only her tiny Mary Jane-clad feet dangling out. This was an image I found both tragic and fucking hilarious, for some reason. All that was missing was the girl's limp bloody hand dropping into view, still clutching onto a giant lollipop. Sorry for your loss, though, pops.

At one point, there's a close-up of a severed head in the Monster's hand, which I'm sure freaked many a moviegoer out back in '59, that shit was probably as scary as Communism. But there isn't that much monster action in this movie, because back then, you were able to pace yourself with that shit, plus, it's cheaper to film people talking about the monster than to actually show it (I don't think you even see it until the last half hour or so). But the people in it are interesting to watch, like the sheriff with the fucked up ears, or the doctor who will quickly prescribe sedatives in zero seconds flat. He hands them out like candy to some scared lady. Those were the days. Nowadays, you need to tell these motherfuckers a whole sob story about the despair that comes with being in your thirties and having accomplished nothing, just for a couple pills to help keep you calm on an airplane.

One scene involving the doctor has a pretty awesome punchline, although I'm not sure if it was supposed to play that way (the audience thought it was great); one of the townspeople barely manages to survive a scrape with the Monster and is face up on a table, all fucked up, face all bloody. Dude is damn near motionless as the doctor looks him over, and you're wondering what's going to happen to the guy. In the same room, the hunky former Marine/current marine biologist and the sheriff are trying to figure out who/what is this Creature of the White Rocks and what to do with him. When the scene ends, the doc sits the wounded man up and then damn near pushes him out the room, telling him he's good to go. The American health care system at work, folks.

Another part I really liked in the film is when a kid discovers the body of yet another monster victim; he ends up running to a funeral currently in progress (cause of death: MONSTER) and interrupts it. Almost immediately, everyone there is getting ready to take off because I guess it's cooler to actually look at a corpse at the scene of the crime, rather than look at a box with a corpse inside. The fuckin' minister actually has to tell them to stop because he's not finished yet. You can damn near hear the disappointment in the crowd, even from the victim's family.

If there was another intro before the third film, I missed it because I was using the facilities; this French-Canadian attempt at supernatural horror is called Cathy's Curse, from 1977. This movie -- holy shit, this fuckin' movie, man. It's hilarious. Were I the kind of dude who used a grading/rating system, I'd give it zero stars for what it tried to do, but for unintentional results, I'd give it all the stars in the heavens above.

The movie starts out with a title card explaining what's going on, and not in a Star Wars "the story so far" sort-of-way, but in a "we fucked up and don't know how to tell a story, so here's some help after the fact" way. It's 1947 and some father comes home to find that his daughter Laura has been left alone; she tells him that mommy ran off with the son and his response is "Your mother's a bitch!" And I guess God must be a woman, because a few minutes later, homeboy and his daughter accidentally drive their car off the road and become human barbecue.

The word "bitch" is used a lot in this film to the point that I kept waiting for Queen Latifah to eventually burst through the wall like some kind of Kool-Aid Man of Feminism, booming out "WHO YOU CALLIN' A BITCH?!" There is an actual female dog in the film (named Sneakers), so maybe that's what all the bitch talk was referring to.

So yeah, this movie, right? It's about this family that moves into the same house that we saw at the beginning, only now it's the 70s, and the father (looking like a cross between Will Forte and Kelsey Grammer) happens to be Laura's brother, now grown up and with a wife and daughter (the titular Cathy). Faster than you can say "cliched phrase", the evil spirit of Laura possesses the daughter (via a doll found in the attic -- everyone refers to it as a "rag") and the rest of the film consists of various examples of what a Sneakers this Cathy/Laura is. She does such naughty things like driving an old handyman to drink or an old nanny to throw herself out the window. Come on, that's what non-possessed children do to adults all the time!

The wife is a real nutty broad who declares out loud that she had a nervous breakdown in the past, even though she's saying this to her husband who already knows, because the screenwriters love expositioning the fuck out of the dialogue for the stupid audience's sake. Anyway, the wife is a hoot because she's supposed to be in a better mental state since her breakdown, but you'd never know it by the way she acts -- or "acts", because the actress playing her is pretty terrible. For all I know, she's better in other projects, but in this flick, she is as bad at acting as I am in making something of myself. It is so fucking bad and laugh-inducing, I felt I was watching a lost SCTV sketch, featuring Count Floyd showing yet another lame horror film and trying to convince the viewers at home that it's very scary.

The biggest mistake made by the filmmakers -- besides making this film in the first place --  is never giving the viewer a chance to know Cathy before she gets Laura'd up. As a result, one never really can tell the difference between them. For all I know, Cathy was already kind of a troublemaker, and there are scenes where Cathy begs her parents to stay with her and I still don't know if that was genuinely Cathy or if that was Laura setting some shit up. But if the filmmakers were trying to pull some shit like "eh, perhaps there never was a difference, mon ami", well then that flew over my head.

Cathy's Curse is awful, mean-spirited, and as far away from scary as a horror film can be. It is very funny though, and highly recommended if you need about ninety minutes of WTF. A woman gets called a "female cow" in it, so there's that. Also, it's very Canadian in that even after a little girl nearly gets her eye poked out by Cathy/Laura during a play date/mother's coffee klatch, the mom still remembers to thank Cathy's mom for the coffee while carrying her crying/bleeding child away.

In Phil's opinion, the fourth film of the night is also the best horror film ever made, some real gauntlet-throwdown shit. As bold a statement as one could make, one that got the audience hyped up. He said it was a film from the 70s, and then he and Brian gave us a warning that this was a UK print, meaning it was censored in some parts. I guess in exchange for free health care and not having to worry about being gunned down at school, UK citizens have to give up the freedom of seeing some good gore. Phil and Brian felt that the best way to cushion that blow was to look at it from a positive angle: This is what UK audiences saw in movie theaters back in the 70s, and it still made Classic status over there. Immediately, I thought of myself in a UK cinema back then, probably watching this late at night and following it up with a few pints at the local pub before ending the night with an early morning English fry-up.

(Oh, how I love an English fry-up! It's tied with an old-fashioned American breakfast as my choice for a last meal, which I hope never comes to pass because I never want to die. Someone needs to find a cure for Death as soon as humanly possible.)

The trailer reel that followed consisted of horror sequels like Evil Dead II, Exorcist II: The Heretic, Phantasm II, and I'm sure a couple I forgot about. With each trailer, I grew more excited because my guess hadn't shown up as a trailer and I felt that the film they were going to show might actually be my 35mm holy grail. The one film I've always wanted to see for the past two decades projected on honest-to-goodness film in an honest-to-goodness movie theater with an honest-to-goodness crowd. And it turned out that my guess was correct and my hopes were actually met for once because the film turned out to be...


Sorry for that outburst. But I really like this film, easily one of my all-time favorites. You know, the first time I went to the New Beverly Cinema, I remember seeing a guestbook in the lobby where you could write down requests for future screenings. Immediately I wrote down Dawn of the Dead, and that was back in '99, but since then I've never heard of any 35mm screenings anywhere -- except for one in New York a few years ago as part of a weekend of films that Paul Giamatti hosted at some museum somewhere. And for all I know, that shit was actually on DVD.

But man oh man, what a wonderful treat to finally get to see it, even in a censored print (titled "Zombies", looked great too!) and even with some guy in the audience who occasionally snored super-loud like some asshole who should've just gone home or should've just taken a nap in his car or something. It took a while before someone managed to work up the strength to get up and not slowly decapitate this asshole with a plastic spatula, nudging him awake instead.

Some of the more memorable gory parts were missing, along with some choice headshots -- but thankfully, the Brit censors still retained their sense of humor when it came to the helicopter blade scene. Compared to shit on television today like The Walking Dead, this cut of Dawn would barely rate as a light R. And you know what? The film still worked. One could even argue that taking out the most extreme gory moments made it less over-the-top in a comic book way, and more disturbing in a real life situation sort-of-way. (Two could argue against it.)

It also helps that this movie isn't only about the gore and zombie make-up, which come on, let's be real, some of that shit does look downright quaint nowadays -- the situation, characters, and point-of-view is what really makes George A. Romero's film a bona-fide classic. Earlier in my life, this film was good times as far as watching people try to survive while shooting muthafuckin' zombies in the head. But as the years go by and I get older, I find myself more and more scared and disturbed and depressed beyond my goddamn wits with each viewing -- and it has fuck-all to do with the zombies.

"I think Foster's right. We're losing."

"We're blowing it ourselves." 

I could go on and on and on but I gotta keep this short. So before I move on, I'll say this: considering the thoughts and feelings and prayers -- holy shit, PRAYERS, can you fuckin' believe that shit -- this film stirs up within me, I'd have to disagree with Phil's statement about Dawn of the Dead being the best horror film ever made. It is the second best. Number one would be the film we're currently all starring in -- because this all has to be a movie, right? I mean, nobody would be this stupid and petty and bullheaded in real life, right? For God's sake, somebody fire the screenwriter and get someone talented to rewrite this shit!

Phil said that the fifth film was not only made in the 80s, it IS the 80s. After watching it, I would say it's most definitely the late 80s compressed into a 90-minute running time: Phantom of the Mall: Eric's Revenge, starring some guy I don't know, some girl I don't know, the dude from "Silk Stalkings", Morgan Fairchild, the Most Interesting Man in the World from the Dos Equis ads, Mac's Dad from "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia", and the juice-weezer himself, Sir Pauly Shore.

Oh, and in a very welcome appearance (based on the audience's applause), one of the stars of the previous film, Ken Foree, as the main security guard of the mall. Poor guy just can't keep away from those shopping centers, I guess. Hey, by the way -- why didn't any of you tell me that Foree was in the film adaptation of Water for Elephants? What a pleasant surprise, right up there with Franco Nero showing up in Letters to Juliet DON'T JUDGE ME

A mall has recently opened up in town, giving many people many jobs for little money; among the new employees is this chick named Melody who can sure use the extra bucks, not to mention the distraction that keeping busy will provide. See, about a year ago, her boyfriend Eric died under mysterious circumstances, the kind of mysterious circumstances that involve burning to death along with his house that was not-at-all-coincidentally located where the mall stands today.

Eric, it turns out, is still alive (only he's very badly burned) and now resides somewhere in the dark, dirty recesses of the mall itself, using the transportation system that is Creeping Through The Air Ducts and having set himself up a living space bigger than my apartment. Fuck this guy, living rent free with his weight machine and multiple television setup complete with top-of-the-line double tape deck stereo system. As for how he eats, I can only assume he has his pick from the many fine eateries in the building after hours. As for how he showers, I'm pretty sure he doesn't, which means some of the stinkier members of the Cinefamily audience could sympathize. What did deodorant DO to these people for them to avoid it so much?!

But Eric ain't just a-squatting, he's a-killing -- introducing eternal darkness to anyone who fucks with his girl Melody. My favorite kill is probably the dude who sits down on the toilet and suddenly a cobra pops up and chomps on his package -- King Cobra? More like Queen Cobra, amirite bros? -- causing him to go out like Pavarotti, with the kind of scream he belts out. That's what he gets for being a pianist (plays for the mall) with a penis (tries to rape Melody).

The Most Interesting Man in the World plays The Most Douchey Guy in the Film, the owner of the mall who obviously had some hand in the mysterious fiery circumstances that led to Eric's current situation. I wouldn't have recognized this dude as the Dos Equis man except the lovely Erin from Seven Doors of Cinema pointed it out in her much better review of this film. His son is also a real douchey shoplifting/skateboarding asshole -- typical rich kid, if you ask me. Oh, I'm talking about the son in the film, not the son of the actor in real life; if he has a son, I'm sure he's a decent dude. Sorry, Dos Equis Man.

This Eric, he's a Freaky Psycho Jason and all that, but he's also very much a young man in that stage of his life between Teen and Adult, and is as susceptible to painfully awkward personal behavior that comes with not having really Lived Life. When he's not shoving some dude's face into a fan or crossbow-ing pervs, he spends his alone time watching videotaped footage of Melody while playing some love ballad on his tape deck for musical accompaniment. Bro, you need to get over it. Move on. Find a half-burned girl and have some half-burned kids. Get a half-burned dog. Name him "Lucky".

My favorite scene is when he has Melody over at his lair (she's passed out on his couch) and when she wakes up, she finds him a few feet away, slowly working on his lats with the pulldown bar. This sad fuck was probably staring at her for a while, waited until she started to stir, and then rushed over and began working out, probably counting out "one-hundred and five, one-hundred and six" even though he probably only did like 8 reps total.

Anyway, the movie's OK. I think the circa 1989 vibe helped keep things interesting in between the kills -- there's little to no gore, and the most horrific sight in the film is Pauly Shore's exposed ass -- and I can't hate on a film where Morgan Fairchild plays the mayor. Whenever she pops up in anything, she makes me smile, even when she's reminding me that death is coming to get us all. The most 80s thing about the entire film would have to be the end credits song, where the word "retard" is used because the mentally challenged didn't qualify as human beings back then. But hey man, it's The Vandals!

Following a trailer reel of sword, sorcery, and loincloth flicks, the final film of the night/early morning began: Lucio Fulci's Conquest, starring Mexican star of Mexican screen, Jorge Rivero -- or as he's credited here "George Rivero". Homeraza never really found success with the English speaking crowd, he's probably most famous over here for his role in the 1996 film Werewolf, which made for one of the better MST3k episodes.

Now, technically this film shouldn't qualify as horror; it has more in common with movies like The Beastmaster and the Ator series. But there is enough nightmarish imagery here (thanks Lucio, you sick fuck) that I can see why it was chosen. Also, the combination of the hazy soft-focus cinematography, the crispy-clear loud electronic score by Goblin's Claudio Simonetti, and the many strange moments that make you question whether or not you're truly awake or dreaming this shit up -- well, it made this film perfect for bleary-eyed early morning viewing after a long night.

Rivero plays Mace, your typical badass barbarian type who doesn't give a shit about anyone but himself -- and birds, he likes birds too. He fucks people up with these extra thick bone nunchucks and his relationships with the opposite sex are of the "love 'em and leave 'em" category, except he does return to them occasionally just to love 'em and leave 'em again. Until the next time.

He ends up partnering with this young dude named Ilias, who's more of the idealistic type. It's like Mace is from the hood and had no parents and had to fend for himself, while Ilias is like a rich kid from a loving family. But Ilias ain't just some geek off the street, he can be handy with the steel too. He has this awesome bow-and-arrow set that not only uses real arrows but can also conjure up these glowing laser arrows with the use of magic or Jesus' love or some shit. It's awesome and he never runs out. Later in the film, he even upgrades that shit to fire multiple magic arrows. Fuck Hawkeye.

OK, maybe a bow & arrow doesn't qualify as "steel", but you know what I mean.

So these dudes end up traveling the fantastical fantasy lands where it's always foggy/windy and there's always a body of water close by and it's always dusk or it's always dawn. They do this because some evil chick named Ocron has a hard-on for them and is sending her army of Asshole Chewbaccas to take 'em out (to the movies? to a ballgame?). Why is she doing this? Shit, son, I've been trying to figure women out for most of my life, but alas, they are all a lovely mystery that even Hercule Poirot couldn't fuckin' solve.

Oh wait, I remember now -- Ocron had a vision of some faceless dude showing up with his bow & arrow and giving her a few shots. She didn't ask for that, she doesn't want that, so she's gonna stop that before it even comes close to becoming that. And if she has to slaughter a whole bunch of Mace's peeps, thereby actually beginning the process of Mace and Ilias going to look for her so they can bow & arrow her into the next world, then fuck it, a masked girl's gotta do what a masked girl's gotta do.

Yeah, I forgot that part. Ocron wears a golden mask covering her entire face but that's about it for modesty because she's pretty much naked the whole time. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to guess that she's probably hiding a world of hurt under that mask -- it takes a rocket scientist who has seen more than a few films in his or her lifetime.

You got yourself some beasts, an master-of-disguise assassin made of metal, typical Fulci zoom-in shots of blood spewing out of freshly created wounds, an evil chick getting off on snakes while petting her bewildered dog, evil killer Chewbaccas grabbing a poor girl by each leg and splitting her open, dirty people chanting, a couple of genuine surprises in the plot, and a whole bunch of nicely shot (if a little too hazy for my taste) scenes. In other words, freaky good times.

Most of it makes little to no sense, but this is a Fulci film, after all. I'll be honest, when this movie started I wasn't feeling it, and I wasn't looking forward to sitting through the rest of its bullshit, but by the final shot of Mace walking away (over to Kirk Douglas' house, I reckon), this wonderfully strange, borderline hallucinatory, and occasionally off-putting movie had succeeded in rocking my barely awake world.

Following the film, the National Anthem came on, followed by a Tom & Jerry cartoon that was basically Sorcerer with a cat and mouse. Then we were treated to free breakfast at the patio: Scrambled eggs, bacon, pancakes, cereal, and coffee. A couple dudes ahead of me in line tried working up the munchies with the help of some medication and a spoon pipe. Me, I need no help working up an appetite when it's free.

And so ended another All Night Horror Show. I'll be honest here: Would I have preferred the original venue? Yes. I like the Cinefamily but I guess I'm just more of a New Bev guy (to speak only of the Torgan era, I haven't been to the New-New Bev yet) as far as vibes go -- whatever the fuck that means. Then again, free breakfast! But make no mistake via my bitching -- I thank the Goddess for allowing both of them to exist in this universe.

Ultimately, it's the movies that matter, and since it was Phil and Brian picking 'em, we were in good hands. In the end, all one can do is Go or Not Go. I went -- and I had a good time. My ass, on the other hand, begs to differ.