If it's crap ... We'll tell you
Normally when I realize it's gonna be a marathon of movie watching, I steel myself with healthy food, steady doses of caffeine, and the occasional power-walk between films to keep the blood flowing to my abused brain. But then there's days like this one, when the stack in front of me was all obscure horror titles, many of which over 20 years old....indeed, a different regimen was called for. So, while my reviews, as such, may not be as strictly accurate as I usually like to deliver (in terms of impressions of them, anyway), I felt that given the context, a less traditionally, erm, sober, point of view was called for.
Without further ado, I give you: The Evening of Movie Reckoning (plus Scotch)
8:00 A.M.: Just woke up, did a few stretches (I.E.: reached on top of the fridge for my box of Cheerios), and have come to terms with what I have to do. The stack lies before me, intimidating with the potential for being either awful, awesome, or some undefinable mixture of the both that only the horror genre seems capable of achieving. But luckily, there's just the four. How painful could this be? Better prepare by watching something I know is good first (see my LOTR review...)
TWO DAYS LATER...
3:00 P.M.: That didn't go as planned. Let's try this again....after a quick stop by the used book store, perhaps a trip to "Five Guys"....
TWO MORE DAYS LATER...
4:15 P.M.: Dammit. I have all the stick-to-it-ness of a chimpanzee with A.D.D. Doing this sort of thing was easier to get started when Jason used to come over and watch them with me. Stupid video games. Ok, it's the day, so let's get it on...
THE BABY (DVD)
Three out of the four films I've got here are from Severin, a distribution company that specializes in the obscure and odd, sometimes to awesome effect and sometimes not so much. Their re-release of the 1973 psychological horror film "The Baby" belongs in the former camp. I mean, I guess. The blurb on the front cover describing it as "one of the most bizarre films to come out of Hollywood in the 1970's" doesn't really do its weirdness justice. The tale is of Ann, a social worker called upon to take the case of Baby a mentally-impaired 20-something man who seems to be in every way but physically, an infant. His family, made up of a stern, domineering mother (with a memorably Joan Crawford-esque turn by Ruth Roman), and her two sexed up daughters, treat Baby exactly as if he was the infant he behaves like and the social worker suspects that there's some kind of bizarre abuse going on here. It's not long before the crafty Ann is confronting the head of the Baby household head-on, determined to free Baby from their strange psycho-sexual trap they've devised for him, but perhaps she's even got her own shady motivations? It's not really horror-esque until near the end, but there's no question that this needed to be seen. By me. With booze. Shit, I'm just getting started here and already the score is:
RATING: 4 out of 5 stars (in a system particular to campy films), two glasses of Oban. Yummy.
5:45 P.M.: Time for a quick break, a walk around the block, and a feeling of renewed optimism. That wasn't half bad. Perhaps I'm in for a fun night after all. Wait, what's this thing up next?
After watching the brilliant "Not Quite Hollywood", an enormously fun documentary about Ozploitation films, I was actually looking forward to this 1980 Australian slasher film featured in it. Shoulda known better. To be clear, I was only mildly fuzzy headed going into this one, which was probably a huge mistake. "Nightmares" is about as straight forward a slasher film as you could ask for (assuming that for some reason, you're asking for one). We see at the beginning of the film, the young Cathy, whose Mom is kind of a slut, getting it on all over the place, even blatantly in front of her daughter. One day Mom's proclivities lead to them getting into a horrible car accident with Cathy in the back seat. Mom has gone through the front window and Cathy, trying to pull her back in, ends up cutting her throat open over jagged glass as she does so. Cut to years later and Cathy is all grown up and is trying to be an actress. She's scored a role in a stage play, has begun dating the handsome leading man, and all seems to be going well. But wait, a killer is taking out people associated with the production using pieces of broken glass. Who could it be? Despite a 'wait to show it' by-the-book production manner, there's never any real doubt given that Cathy's got some sort of schizoid thing going and is the one carving up folks. It's all pretty tedious, ponderously predictable, and features acting horrific even by 80's horror movie standards. The one thing going for "Nightmares" is how serious it is about its exploitation: Cathy pretty much just kills naked people having sex, and the film doesn't shy away from showing her stabbing into exposed breasts and buttocks in a decidedly not-okay-with-American-censors fashion. Take that as you will. I took it to mean I should drink more. A lot more.
RATING: 1 out of 5 stars, one glass of Oban (dammit, how can this bottle be empty already?), two glasses of Macallan, and a Leinenkugel Summer Wheat. Oh, and two slices of cold pizza. Gotta get my vitamins, dontcha know.
8:00 P.M.: A bit of a break between movies. I'm at the halfway point and am a bit shaky and unsure. Things started off so well, and then I let that last one upset my drink timing. I feel uncentered. Now is the time when I'm grateful to have a loving and attentive cat like Monkey...
MONKEY, GODDAMMIT, WAKE UP AND HEAL MY SCOTCH-INFUSED ENNUI!
Crap. Alright then, back to the couch...
BLOODY BIRTHDAY (DVD)
Now THIS looks more like it. This 1981 horror promises on it's cover that "There is no doubt that this movie could not be made today". Bring it. Due to some astrological bullshit, three kids born during an eclipse grow up as little sociopaths. To all others, seemingly as sweet as pie, Timmy, Debbie, and Curtis enjoy killing. As the parents plan for the terrible threesome's shared birthday party, they start murdering various folks who stand in the way of their path of tiny destruction. The older sister of a neighborhood kid that they keep unsuccessfully trying to kill figures out there's something wrong with them, but the trio is smarter than they look. When confronted, set a trap for her to make her look crazy in front of the rest of the town. What can stop them? How about the 'stop' button on the remote? Perhaps that's a bit harsh, but there's not a lot of actual blood in this supposedly disturbing movie. The kid actors are good (and all recognizable from long television careers as child actors), and MTV's own Julie Brown (the goofy singer one, not the british VJ one) has an extended nudity scene, but it's certainly not what I'd call scary or even really gross. Um, the movie, not Julie's nudity scene (she used to be stone cold...who knew?) I guess the reason this 'could not be made today' is because of watching kids kill people, but don't those movies come out every year? Whatevs.
RATING: 2 out of 5 stars, four f'n bottles of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and a shot of Jagermeister.
10:00 P.M.: Oh this is not good. Not good at all. Focus is more than slightly blurred, stomach is roiling from nowhere near enough no-prepare-time food ingested and too many varieties of booze....The PERFECT state to deal with the one I've been dreading the most out of the lot, the only current and non-Severin film out of the stack, a 2010 serial killer tale entitled...
CYRUS - MIND OF A SERIAL KILLER (DVD)
Alright, so maybe I was dreading this more because of the title than anything else. Even so, films that look like this more often than not end up falling under the definition of 'torture porn' which is generally not my bag. But, "Cyrus" surprised me at how engaging it actually was. I mean, considering how blotto I was while watching it, the film might actually be the worst thing ever encoded to DVD, but this is what I came away with. An investigative reporter (recent horror scream queen, Danielle Harris) and her camera man are looking into the disappearances of a LOT of college students over the years in a relatively small town, when a local named Emmett (Lance Henriksen) presents her with the actual story of what's been going on. The tale he relates, in flashbacks, is of Cyrus (Brian Krause), a well-meaning, ex-military, local country boy whose red-headed wife is uncontrollable (if you can believe that!). She's a wild child, who's looking for more than what Cyrus can give her (this is starting to sound a little too familiar) with his little country BBQ joint, and when he catches her finding it with another man, Cyrus snaps. No one has any problem believing his story that she just up and left, so Cyrus's life continues on as usual, except with the discovery that human meat is the ultimate fun food: for years he hunts and kills wandering college kids, then butchering them and serving them on the menu, slowing getting even more unhinged as he stews in his own juices alone, while he stews their juices into sauce. Working for a popular movie site as an animated character in his spare time doesn't help things one bit: he uses their yearly fan gatherings as an excuse to gather even more single, sexy, females to add to his...oh wait, no single girls actually showed up. Dammit. Ok, back to the actual movie...His only friend is Emmett, and it should be pretty clear at this point where things are going... Featuring a number of small cameos (Doug Jones, Rae Dawn Chong, Tiffany Shepis) and a somewhat new take on telling an oft-told tale, "Cyrus" isn't half bad, although be warned: it's excessively bloody. Or rather, be excited: it's excessively bloody. Who the hell do I think I'm writing this for, anyway, Disney fans?
RATING: 3.5 out of 5 stars, Two bottles of Blue Moon and a chilled glass of Harris's Blueberry Chocolate Jalapeno Vodka.
THE WITCHING HOUR: I'm starting to think I'm not going to make it to that morning screening tomorrow. Or really will be doing much else except laying on the couch moaning. Oh what a vicious cycle of couch-laying I have created for myself. Ouroboros, you are my life, only with bad movies and booze. And I wouldn't have it any other way. Pass the advil, time to do it all over again tomorrow. What's up next?
kill me now.
--CLICK HERE TO BUY The Baby
--CLICK HERE TO BUY Nightmares
--CLICK HERE TO BUY Bloody Birthday
--CLICK HERE TO BUY Cyrus: Mind of a Serial Killer
Buy them now because, well, just do it anyway.