Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Wednesday Ramble: Horror Fiction Affliction Part 1

The first time I was aware of the existence of horror fiction was when I was around 9 years old. My sister was reading this weird paperback with a mutant deer on the cover. I have no idea what the book was called but the cover made quite an impression on me. I expressed some interest in reading it but my dad said that it was too scary for me. I was still at the age where I did whatever my parents told me (once in a while) so I never did get to read that one. The deer looked like a maniacal creature and it may have been up on two legs. If that rings a bell with anybody, drop me a line.

I loved to read when I was a kid and I remember shelling out some serious dough every time the Scholastic order forms came around my school. I was obsessed with the Bunnicula series and those Choose Your Own Adventure books for a while there. However, the first horror fiction book I ever read was Stephen King's Misery. I don't remember if it was my dad's copy or my mom's but someone left it sitting out long enough for me to pick it up. It was the summer of 1988 and I was 12 years old. Needless to say, I had never read anything quite like Misery before.

I can't really explain it but something about Misery hypnotized me. Chalk it up to my intense boredom that summer or just another broken synapse in my morbid kid-brain but a story about a writer being held hostage by an obsessed fan just did the trick. I tore through that dang book like it was going out of style and would go on to read it around 10 times over the next few years. When I got a little older, I used to have this fantasy that Annie Wilkes was really hot and I was Paul Sheldon. Way to go, Kathy Bates!

In my early teenage years, my Stephen King addiction shifted into full swing. Too bad the guy stopped writing in the 1980s. Oh wait, what? Like most of his fans, I read everything. My favorites were The Tommyknockers, 'Salem's Lot, Pet Semetary, It, The Dark Half, and The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger. Of course, I loved the Bachman books, the short story collections, and The Talisman collaboration with Peter Straub. The guy could do no wrong. Well, except for The Eyes of the Dragon. Fuck that book.

I guess King didn't really start to lose me until 1992 with Gerald's Game. Now I didn't hate that book or anything but after I was done with it and I was like "um... was that the sequel to Misery or something?" I mean the whole thing was just bizarre. Was this chick upset that she'd killed her husband or missing out on that lesbian affair in college? Or both? Or neither? Am I even thinking of the right book? Then Dolores Clairborne came out and it was the first of his books I couldn't get through. The oral history bit was just not something I could handle at that time. (I didn't know jack about William Faulkner, okay?) Maybe I'll give that one another chance someday.

Okay, so the final nail in the King coffin for me was Insomnia. The book came out after I graduated high school and I was a little busy so I didn't pick it up until after it had been out for a while. I got a job as a security guard after I turned 18 so I suddenly found myself with a whole lot of time on my hands for reading. When I finally got Insomnia, I read it in two 12 hour shifts. After I was done, I threw the book in the dumpster out behind the Cadillac dealership I was guarding.

What a piece of shit. Insomnia is the story of a guy who stops sleeping. He meets a lady who has also stopped sleeping. Due to his sleepless condition, he is able to see that people have lifestrings which midgets in labcoats cut when it is time for them to die. Okay, I might not be remembering this right but holy shit, I despised and still despise this book. I kept waiting for it to not suck and it never did stop sucking. Shit! What the fuck? That was the last Stephen King book I've read to this day. That's right. I haven't picked up a new King book in 15 years. Moving on...

The other big horror guy from that fateful era is, of course, Dean R. Koontz. Hey, how come he has hair now? Anyway... I can't remember which of this guy's books I read first.I have a vague memory of someone at a bookstore saying (with enthusiasm) 'If you like Stephen King, you gotta check out Dean Koontz!' That memory could be a false one but who cares? I don't. I probably read Twilight Eyes first. This book freaked me the hell out and still does. It's about a kid who can see demons living inside of very, very bad people. So he grows up, joins the circus, acquires some weapons, and goes after the beasties. It has moments that are genuinely terrifying. Dang, I need to read that again.

Of course, I remember devouring Midnight. There's a scene where a guy ejaculates in a sensory deprivation tank. How rude! Oh yeah, the inhabitants of a seaside town turn into beasts and kill people. This is just a fantastic book. I loved Lightning (though it does have that creepy molester duder in it) and The Face of Fear (which features a creepy threesome) but what is up with Watchers? Talk about your silly, overrated books. Bleh.

Koontz would knock my ass on the floor with The Bad Place. This might be his best book. It's so friggin' strange and outrageous, I won't say a word about it. Just read it. There's something intangible about Koontz. I don't know. He was almost as big a part of my horror development as King but it's hard to get a hold on the guy. The first book of his I gave up on was Dragon Tears and I haven't picked up anything since. If anybody knows which of his 300 books he's written since 1993 are worth checking out, let me know.

The man that really amazed me and filled my brain with all kinds of crazy shit was Robert R. McCammon. I was probably 14 or so when I picked up his 1988 book Stinger and was just blown away. This was some crazy shit. Stinger is a blend of science fiction, action, and horror as I had never seen it before. An alien trying to take over the world starts with a small midwestern town and holy fuck, it is pretty damn great. This book inspired me to write my own story called "Attack of the Alien Robot Zombies" but I am NOT going into that right now.

The next McCammon book I picked up was The Wolf's Hour. This is still my favorite werewolf book of all time. Duder combines WWII and werewolves and guess who wins... We all do. I also read the very odd Mystery Walk and the even odder Gone South. And though it strayed very far from horror, Boy's Life was exceptional. But yeah, I don't know what happened after that. I think I just stopped reading horror fiction and left McCammon behind. In fact, I only read The Night Boat recently. It's totally awesome! A Nazi zombie-filled U-boat goes on a rampage! Damn fine stuff.

Oops. My iPod just died. I guess I'll pick this up later. To be continued...

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Top 5 Foreign Slashers

Hey gang. I've been kind of laying low lately but there's a good reason. I'm working on some fabulous junk for the blog and good old Doomed Moviethon. Until that stuff is ready, I've got some hotness to tide you over. Yours truly and a bunch of other bloggers who are way cooler than me contributed to Aaron's awesome Death Rattle blog. You see, Aaron has been rocking slasher movies ALL MONTH LONG and he invited some folks to come up with their essential flicks in various categories. I chose Foreign Slashers and you can check it out right here. So yeah, go over there and see how much I suck and how poor my taste in movies is. Hey, is this self deprecating shtick getting old or what?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Last Night's Double Feature

Hmm, I am only vaguely aware of how this odd pairing of films came about. Last night, after our burgers from Gino's were consumed, Shelly, LeEtta, Margie, and I watched that very dark, expletive filled, and sexy teen comedy, Jawbreaker. Then we followed it up with the hilarious Stephen Chow comedy, Tricky Brains. What is the connection between these two films? It's pretty obvious: Marilyn Manson and Tat Man Ng's mustaches! Good times were had by all.

Friday, June 18, 2010


From the back cover of Pranks:


It was Halloween night and the kids were dressed to kill. All they wanted was a little harmless fun on that foggy October evening - a little revenge against the uptight, solid citizens of Puget Sound who looked down on them. A few overturned garbage cans, a couple of smashed pumpkins, a cherry bomb or two, that was their plan. But as it grew darker and windier, their pranks turned meaner and nastier. Pets died, so did some livestock. And as the storm moved in, the kids were seized by an overpowering force of evil, compelling them to fearful acts of violence. Driven by mindless bloodlust, the children of Puget Sound went on a rampage of death and destruction; murder became their favorite trick and their victims' only treat was to die quickly.

I love trashy horror fiction from the 70s and 80s. First, I look for the most lurid covers I can find; the sillier, the better. Then I check out when the book was published and finally, I look at the back to see what the thing is supposed to be about. Since old paperbacks are pretty much worthless, I'm only losing a buck or two if the book turns out to be a dud. Pranks almost threw me when I saw that the copyright date in the book was from 1993. But the cover was just too delightfully corny and ugly to pass up. Plus, the plot description said it was children driven by an "overpowering force of evil" doing baaaaad things on Halloween night.. Little did I know, the lies this book was telling me were already stacking up.

Tell me if I'm crazy but doesn't the plot synopsis from the back of the book make it sound like a) something, possibly supernatural, is causing the children to go on a murdering spree and b) that there is more than one kid turning evil? Because neither of these things I inferred from the back of the book at the time of purchase came true. There isn't anything even remotely supernatural in this whole book and all of the evil is committed by one kid. That's right. ONE KID and his name is Bucky. Sure he has a few moronic lackeys but Bucky is the entire "overpowering force of evil" in Pranks. And one annoying thing. This book may have been published in 1993 but you can tell it was written in and takes place in the late 70s. Pranks isn't that dated but it's kind of distracting for a nitpicking douche like me.

The real problem of the book is its characters. These people are whiny, annoying, or are just obvious as hell in their motivations. The only thing that author Dennis J. Higman doesn't do (and this is a huge pet peeve of mine) which is make his characters speak their painfully obvious thoughts out loud. You see, everyone has moved to this posh suburb located near an old fishing village and so you have all these scenes showing the dark side of the American dream. Boo hoo, we've got 2.5 kids and a two car garage and a boat and a BMW, waa waa, life sucks! Wow yeah, I didn't need that from a pulpy horror novel. The only character that I liked is Mary, a subnormal (the result of inbreeding!) woman who runs around the town doing odd jobs for some drunken, cold-hearted, and rich beyatch.

Trust me on this one, I am obsessed with suburban horrors but Pranks just lets them all go to waste. One of the few chilling scenes happens at a community party when the lights go out due to the storm raging outside. The children don't seem phased at all by the darkness and just act kind of creepy. It's a cool scene. Does it go anywhere? Fuck no it doesn't. I kept waiting for these kids to get possessed or whatever and start biting their parents' throats out but nope, nothing. Once I accepted the fact that the book was going to be different than what I was expecting (after nearly 200 pages), I settled in and just let things happen.

I could have read this book in a weekend. Instead, it took me well over a month! I would read a little bit, get discouraged, and put it down. Then I'd go and read something else. I did this nearly every night and I don't know why but I just had to finish this thing. Had the actual plot on the back of the book been accurate, I still would have read it. Would my disappointment with the experience been the same? Probably but at least I wouldn't be here bitching about being totally ripped off. Anyway, the book is actually about a very disturbed teenager named Bucky Foster who terrorizes people in a small town on Halloween and the following day. It takes place around 1979 and it's kind of a lame book (though I will concede it would have made a decent grindhouse flick (the promotion of which probably would have been as full of lies as the blurb on the back of the book)). The end.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Dark Mail

Wednesday Ramble: What's New Pussycat?

I’m going to spoil some things but then again, when do I not?

If it wasn’t for the inferior sequel, I might never have checked out What’s New Pussycat? One night Turner Classic Movies played Pussycat, Pussycat, I Love You and I was entranced. Of course, it was too late to tape the damn thing but at least it was a cheap ticket to Rome for the evening. But I’ll get to that later. When I finally sat down to watch the 1965 sex comedy, my mind was pretty much ripped apart and destroyed by how strangely perfect and flawed of a filmic experience I had just… experienced. Originally intended as a semi-autobiographical Warren Beatty vehicle (my mind is destroyed once again), this film is fucking owned by its stars Peter O’Toole, Peter Sellers, and Woody Allen (who wrote the screenplay (and who was apparently instrumental in forcing out Warren Beatty)).

Peter O’Toole plays Michael James, a fashion magazine editor, womanizer, and drunkard who is finally ready to settle down with his girlfriend Carol, played by the effervescent Romy Schneider. The problem is, of course, Michael is irresistible to women and they seem to be everywhere he turns, throwing themselves at him. His inability to control himself has made women a real problem for him, so Michael goes to a therapist named Dr. Fritz Fassbender (Peter Sellers). Dr. Fassbender is a rampageous sex maniac who does all he can to avoid his behemoth wife (Eddra Gale) AKA “the Creature That Ate Europe” while chasing the women who are chasing Michael. To further complicate matters, Michael’s friend Victor (Woody Allen), a painter, is also in love with Carol and is making his moves on her as well.

Carol finds herself competing with two women for Michael’s affections. First, there’s Liz (Paula Prentiss), a stripper poet who commits suicide every day for attention, and then there’s Renée (Capucine), a married nymphomaniac who is in Dr. Fassbender’s therapy group. When Michael finally decides to get serious (and I mean like really serious) about Carol, he proposes that they get married ASAP. Carol chooses Monday (big mistake) and Michael ends up at Chateau Chantal in the countryside for the weekend where (mostly by chance), all of his beautiful ladies converge to spoil his chances at a real relationship. In fact, nearly every character in the movie converges on Chateau Chantal and all hell breaks loose. Michael’s problems with women keep multiplying. Heck, they even start dropping out of the sky in the form of Ursula Andress.

“As a man’s life goes down the drain. You are there.”

There’s so much to love about What’s New Pussycat? and only a little to be confused or hurt by. Other than Romy Schneider’s character, women look like dumb idiot basket cases. Peter Sellers and Peter O’Toole’s rakish behavior is um… charming. No, that’s not the word. Disturbing! That’s it. Obviously, if you don’t take this junk seriously and just roll your eyes at the nonsense, there is some serious fun to be had here. Woody Allen (someone who I am not a fan of) wanted to make a Marx Brothers’ style movie and he did a pretty great job accomplishing just that. Everyone takes part in the one liners, the physical comedy, and the manic energy of it all so what’s not to love?

"What in the name of all that's gracious is a semi-virgin?"

Capucine, Romy Schneider, and Ursula Andress make for a dizzyingly gorgeous trio but it’s Paula Prentiss that has stolen my heart. While I don’t really like Liz all that much, Prentiss is undeniably stunning and a hot magnet for my metal eyes. My whole Prentiss thing started with her in The Stepford Wives. My mind was just swimming with Paula after that movie and she’s had her hooks in me ever since. As for comedic talent, Capucine wins out with the ridiculousness of Renée, an upper class lady with an insatiable sex drive. German actress Katrin Schaake is quite adorable as Victor’s love interest once he gives up on Carol. Hint hint, she has a thing for sports cars.

One interesting casting choice that I can’t get over is Jess Franco regular Howard Vernon (She Killed in Ecstacy) as the doctor who is called in to repeatedly treat Liz after each of her suicide attempts. The guy is just such a great presence on camera and he is especially funny while trying to keep his hot nurse (played by Sabine Sun) away from Michael. There’s a blatantly obvious cameo in the film by Richard Burton that is sooooo cheesy but kinda fantastic (“Don’t you know me from someplace?”). Somehow, Howard Vernon is more important to me.

“When the light hits him in a certain way, he’s almost handsome.”

Sellers and O’Toole (and even (to a lesser extent) Allen) compete for the viewers’ attention and for me, O’Toole wins out big time. The guy is on fucking fire in this movie. He’s a six foot two coolness hurricane and I want to be him. Okay, maybe not with all that much drinking and maybe not quite that many women but I’m just sayin’ that I get a little choked up knowing that I’ll never be Peter O’Toole in 1965. Michael James is a childish and sex obsessed alcoholic that is my hero, damn it. Then he goes and gets sweet. Seriously! His character has redeeming qualities that’ll melt your ice cold heart. He and Carol have a strange thing between them that defies logic and reason.


This film has so many classic bits but my favorite ones are the group therapy sessions that devolve into games of indoor cricket and/or other madness. On one of Dr. Fassbender and Michael’s drunken escapades, the two go and try to woo a woman in Cyrano De Bergerac style and hilarity ensues. There is a Fellini dream sequence with O’Toole dressed up like Marcello Mastoianni cracking a whip which is cinema nerd great and Michael’s minimalist flashbacks to his younger self and his “problems” with women that are just awesome. However, once we get to Chateau Chantal, the movie kicks into high gear.

Everything has been leading up to this moment and the finale does not disappoint. The Benny Hill-esque chaos gets even more wacky when, instead of getting in their cars to avoid the police, the guests of Chateau Chantal head for the go-karts as their means of escape. But hold on, just before that, everyone runs out the front door of the hotel and there’s a wall of policemen waiting for them. In a desperate moment, everyone is terrified and frozen in place. Dr. Fassbender orders his wife (who is dressed like a valkyrie) to lead the charge against the cops. After she belts out an operatic screech, they charge and OH MY GOD, you need to see this movie!

I'm trying to track down a copy of Pussycat Pussycat, I Love You (since it isn't on VHS or DVD here in the States) so I'll have to continue this later. But let me just say that What's New Pussycat is a kinky but classy classic that is full of roguish and kooky surprises. It's very dated but the editing, the music, and the spectacle of the whole thing (especially Liz's striptease!) is just the kind of thing that make life worth living. Well, it is for me anyway. There has to be something to sandwich between all the beheadings and exsanguinations.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Sweet Home

Sweet Home
AKA Sûîto Homu
Directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Released: 1989
Starring Juzo Itami, Nobuko Miyamoto, Nokko, Shingo Yamashiro, Tsutomu Yamazaki
Running Time: 100 minutes

A TV crew goes to an abandoned mansion in the woods to investigate the rumors of a lost fresco by a famous artist. While restoring the painting, the crew begins to notice strange things about the house. It turns out that the mansion is the home of a vengeful spirit who uses the shadows to consume and burn anyone who is foolish enough to cross its path. The surviving members of the crew must solve the mystery of the terrible tragedy that took place there if they want to get out alive.

Kiyoshi Kurosawa has given us horror fans some seriously awesome films like Pulse, Cure, and Retribution. He has also given us some unfairly obscure things like The Guard From Underground and Sweet Home. This 1989 film is quite a product of its time but is driven by imagination and an off kilter sense of humor. Think of this as The Legend of Hell House combined with Evil Dead by way of Poltergeist. And while Sweet Home isn't nearly as insane, it's artificiality and otherworldliness make it a great double feature with Nobuhiko Obayashi's Hausu.

I found Sweet Home in its entirety (in five parts) on Youtube. But you know what? That's not good enough for me. I want to own this deliriously beautiful and wildly entertaining movie, damn it. This film is genuinely eerie and delightfully campy with a few excellent gore sequences thrown in. The writing is also very sound with some well developed and likable characters. If you are at all into Japanese horror and fun 80s horror then you need to check out Sweet Home. It might just end up being your new favorite flick.


"The shadows are alive!"

Useless Trivia

The video game based on Sweet Home inspired the layout and gameplay of the original Resident Evil game.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Satan's Wife

Satan’s Wife
AKA Un ombra nell’ombra
Directed by Pier Carpi
Released: 1979
Starring Anne Heywood, Valentina Cortese, Frank Finlay, John Phillip Law, Marisa Mell, Irene Papas, Paola Tedesco, Lara Wendel
Running Time: 87 minutes
DVD Studio: Mya Communication

The film opens with a disco satanic ritual featuring some nude dancers. Then we meet Carlotta (played by Anne Heywood), a former Satanist, and her daughter Daria (Lara Wendel), who Carlotta suspects is the child of Satan. Daria spends her time being a total asshole (so she has to be the devil’s kid) by torturing her teacher (Valentina Cortese) and a boy from her school. Carlotta seeks help from her witchy friends and even an evil priest (John Phillip Law) but Daria is too strong for them all. There is a final showdown but you’ll only see it if you’re still awake at the end of the movie.

If you were looking for the worst satanic horror film ever made, you’d meet up with Satan’s Wife on your way down the list. Way, way down. Pier Carpi serves as both director and writer on this one and botches them both pretty good. The film is also edited poorly and it feels as though scenes are out of order but they probably aren’t. The dubbing is particularly atrocious as are the lame visual effects. Stelvio Cipriani’s score is a synthmare (which I normally appreciate) but sounds awfully familiar. It may be made up outtakes from other better film scores.

One reason to check out this mess is for all the great actors on hand. Anne “Chiseled Cheekbones” Heywood of The Killer Is On the Phone is great as the exasperated mother of the daughter of Satan. Heywood is always good for some Joan Collins level silliness and this film is no exception. Dig on her rocker makeup for the big final ceremony. Valentina Cortese of Juliet of the Spirits and Irene Papas of Oasis of Fear are pretty great and do a fine job in this terrible flick. John Phillip Law and Marisa Mell of Diabolik? What the hell? Were they bored that year or something? The insanely beautiful Paola Tedesco of Watch Me When I Kill is here as well but I will she wasn’t. Tedesco, who hasn’t acted since the early 80s, is totally underused in this film.

Lara Wendel would show up for a grisly death scene in Tenebre a few years after this nightmare. She would even get starring roles in Umberto Lenzi’s Ghosthouse and the terrible Joe D’Amato produced Zombie 5: Killing Birds. In Satan’s Wife, Wendel has some pretty cool moments but mostly this child of the devil doesn’t act very evil. Daria just seems like a smug teenage jerk who is obsessed with dolls and occasionally talks directly to the camera. The potential is there for a really creepy performance but Pier Capri’s confused script just isn’t up to the task.

It’s impossible not to be a little underwhelmed and/or insulted by Satan’s Wife but if you’re like me, you’ll ignore the bad reviews and watch this sleazy crap anyway. Pier Carpi’s film is a bottom of the barrel Exorcist/Omen-clone but it does feature some unintentional comedy from the terrible dialogue, pitiful overacting, and wacky opening dance number. Pretty much everyone involved (except the director/writer) has done better work elsewhere. There are some interesting elements like how all of Carlotta’s old satanic buddies’ lives are destroyed because of their alliance to the dark lord. Hey, you know what? This film features a chess analogy! Okay, okay, don’t watch this one.


“Where did you get my sword? I told you never to go near that cupboard!”

DVD Stuff

Here comes another Mya Communication bootleg and that’s totally cool with me. If anyone spent any time trying to restore Satan’s Wife, they’d probably take a look at the final product and then go on a killing spree. The film looks a little murky and quite scratchy but definitely watchable. The English audio is in decent enough shape. There is an Italian audio track available on the disc but no English subs.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Wednesday Ramble: Skinemax Nights

I really don’t know how I can talk about Single White Female without first talking about the Playboy channel and a bunch of other bullshit. My parents went all out with the cable back in 1995 and so we had every dang movie channel and the stupid Playboy channel. Of course, this was before there were 18 HBOs and 50 Showtimes but hey, we were living the good life. I’ve always been obsessed with the bizarre shit that cable channels use to fill their late night programming and I was sometimes richly rewarded (Wicked City) or sometimes horribly destroyed (Mask of Death). I probably shouldn’t just hint at the amazing cinema of Lorenzo Lamas. The guy was in Terminal Justice, probably the best movie cable television has ever transmitted. The story involved those oh so important elements that make our lives in the future (the film takes place in 2008) tolerable: gratuitous nudity and virtual reality.

Here I am (circa 1997), remote in hand, and ready for some unwholesome entertainment.

The Playboy channel was (and probably still is) friggin’ genius IN A BAD WAY. They had a talk show about sex that was completely bogus and retarded. The most hilarious thing was when they would show porno movies and then cut out the bits that made them pornos. Apparently, the channel had some pretty strict standards and it was just surreal and strangely sad. The forbidden and magical channel of my youth turned out to be a bunch of silicone crap and a complete waste of time. And yet, I couldn’t look away. The few occasions where I actually had friends over and my folks were out late or out of town, I’d put on the Playboy channel for a laugh. I was quite the entertainer. I feel like Bob Crane all of a sudden. Why am I talking about this? Oh yeah, so I would flee from Playboy to see what was on HBO, Cinemax, and Showtime. And oh boy, there were some surprises, yessireebob.

This all begins to make more sense when you take into account the fact that I worked the night shift as a security guard back in the day. Sometimes I worked 10pm until 6am but most of the time I worked from 6:30pm ‘til 6:30am! Needless to say, on my days off I would stay up very, very late. The graveyard shift affects your mind and you don’t see the world as other people do. Things that would not normally entertain anyone suddenly become strangely fascinating. Like Doom Generation or Full Eclipse. Don't forget I'm also a dude so of course when my friend Scott and I saw they were going to play Malicious with Molly Ringwald, we were pretty psyched. You know the movie? The one where she plays a psycho and gets nekkid. Well, we just had to check it out. The only embarrassing thing about that is I actually liked the movie. Go Molly! Go Molly! It's (actually not) your birthday!

One of my favorite films from this sleazy time in my life was Poison Ivy: The New Seduction. Now I don’t mean to dis Drew Barrymore or Alyssa Milano’s efforts in the first two films but seriously, Poison Ivy III is awe-inspiringly stupid and totally genius. Obviously, Jaime Pressly is totally awesome as Violet (the sister of Ivy!) but this movie (written by the mind behind The Skateboard Kid II) is wildly entertaining and only slightly insulting. The most surprising thing is the person who steals the movie: Megan Edwards. She plays Joy, a tennis playing, uptight, and sheltered rich girl. Violet comes in and wrecks her life. Why? Because she’s a friggin’ psycho, that’s why! But Joy is such a great character. She’s kind of like this oppressed gothic heroine. And those tennis outfits! Oh my goodness. Terrible shit just keeps happening to her and finally, she’s left all alone in the world which is better than how she started. The film just stops with her running out of the house with dead bodies all over the place. Perfect. I imagined myself there, in the driveway (in my 1976 Ford Granada), just waiting to rescue her.

For little to no reason at all, skip to 1:10 right now:

Shit, I was just thinking about the films that nearly ruined dirty movies for everyone everywhere, all over the world. Of course, the most offensive (and not in a good way) is Basic Instinct. Thankfully, Stephen Chow parodied it in Fight Back to School 3. Then there’s the wretched Body of Evidence and The Temp. These movies are so darn soul-destroying. Oh no, I just remembered Jade. William Friedkin was quoted as saying “Hee hee hee hee, I made a sexy thriller!” There was a time when David Caruso was pretty awesome. No, seriously. You could take Jade and (before throwing the DVD in the garbage) make it a double feature with The Last Seduction. I think I just died a little. Poor little Linda Fiorentino wouldn’t properly recover until Kicked in the Head. Go figure. Of course, The Last Seduction has Peter Berg. I don’t trust that guy. He totally creeps me out. Plus, he directed Friday Night Lights. Lame.

Okay, so I’m talking about these corny ass adult thrillers, right? Are there any good ones? Well, yeah. More Skinemax filler comes in the form of Romeo is Bleeding (not to be confused with Romeo Must Die ) but this one blows all the bullshit out of the water. The fact that it comes from director Peter Medak (The Changeling) might have a little to do with that. And when you get a classy duder like Gary Oldman (don’t mention Lost in Space, please) and the stunning and frightening Lena Olin, you got yourself a winning combination. Throw in some neo-noir stuff, a very, very dark story, some amputee fetishism, and whammo! Instant classic!

Have I talked about Single White Female yet? No? Well, I’m going to. Right now. It is hard to imagine a trashier or more ridiculous film than this Bridget Fonda/Jennifer Jason Leigh vehicle. Have either of them ever been in a movie better than SWF? No? I didn’t think so. To illustrate how evil Jennifer Jason Leigh’s character is, they have her kill a puppy! Like, whoa dude, that’s foreshadowing. There’s a shower scene and legitimately steamy sex scenes and murders and a gay neighbor and- DAMN IT! That puppy scene is still disturbing even after all these years. Being a guy, I tried to imagine what I would do if crazy Jennifer Jason Leigh was my roommate. Like how far would I let her crazy behavior go on before I was all like “Hey look, this isn’t working out. You need to stop dressing like me.” But then again, who doesn’t want to have sex with themselves? Right? Who's a doppelganger banger? Doppelbanger? Hello? Uh oh. The important thing is that of course, I knew I was the one who could save poor old crazy Jennifer Jason Leigh from herself. Isn't that romantic? SHE KILLED A PUPPY!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Dario Argento by James Gracey

Shit! I read this one too fast. (Oh well, I'll just have to read it again.) James Gracey's book on Dario Argento is a fun to read and in-depth study of the director's entire career from The Bird With the Crystal Plumage to Giallo. Each film is presented with a brief history of the production, discussion of its themes, music, trivia, and more. Even if you've read other books on Argento, you'll still want to check out this one as Gracey approaches the material with energy and intelligence. I guarantee you'll be dusting off your Dario Argento DVDs to reevaluate even the titles you didn't think you liked before (yeah right, like your Argento DVDs ever collect any dust). One thing I thing I really like about this book: The Mother of Tears gets a positive review! And the only thing I didn't like about the book was some shit talking about Fulci on page 192. Unacceptable! Okay, I guess calling Fulci a "bandwagon jumper" is fair but I love both directors' work equally, damn it.