Advertisements

Archive for genre

Freaks (Scott’s Horror Corner)

Posted in Scott's Horror Corner, Updates with tags , , , , , , , , on February 9, 2013 by splatterpictures

Can a full grown woman truly love a midget?

 

FreaksPosterThis is the question posed by the 1932 movie ‘Freaks’. The movie is about a young trapeze artist named Cleopatra who, upon learning of the sizable inheritance he posesses, seduces a sideshow midget named Hans to marry her. In reality, she’s infatuated with the strong man, Hercules. Hercules and Cleopatra are the normal folks in this carnival. Hans leaves his also-tiny current love interest to date someone outside of the ‘freaks’ he associates with.

 

It tends to be classified as a horror movie, though I believe that’s a debatable fact. There’s a lot to discuss here regarding the morals and ethics of what’s going on in this movie, but not a lot of horror to be found. That said, it is considered a cult classic in the genre. Cult classics generally become cult because their audience is low and they are weird. Well, the latter speaks for itself and the former means this movie bombed where it wasn’t banned. In fact, it bombed so hard that director Tod Browning, who directed Bela Lugosi in Dracula, effectively had his career ended by this movie. The movie was banned for 30 years in the United Kingdom. It wasn’t until the 1960’s and 70’s when it was rediscovered and received some success at midnight showings . Nowadays, it still pops up on the more eclectic movie channels.

 

So what was so horrible about it? Truly, it was just the fact that they used real sideshow performers as their actors. Characters like the Human Torso (a man with no limbs), the pinheads (people who suffer from a disease called microcephaley), and conjoined twins were simply too weird for audiences. Perhaps society felt bad staring, or maybe they rejected the idea of a movie that exploited them. The movie itself paints a really sweet picture of these ‘freaks’ as it were….casting aside the ending, of course.

 

‘Freaks’ has a lot of small side stories alongside Cleopatra’s conniving ways. We get to see the bearded lady have a baby, for example. The pinheads frolic in a field along with a midget and a man with no legs. Typing it out makes it sound a little weirder than the actual experience I received watching it, on second thought. The conjoined twins find love with two different men. As the second man announces his engagement to the other soon-to-be-husband he quips “You’ll have to come visit us sometime!”.

Photo 1

 

There are many memorable scenes in the movie, if only for the spectacle of what the body can adapt to. The aforementioned Human Torso lights a cigarette using only his mouth, for example. Then there are the iconic (maybe that’s not the right word) scenes which stick with you for horrific reasons or

otherwise. The scene that’s often quoted from this movie takes place before the wedding of Cleopatra to Hans. All of the freaks gather together and have a huge party with lots of drinking. Midway through the festivities, one of the midgets jumps up on the table and pours some liquor into a huge glass. He beings to chant:

“We accept her, we accept her, one of us, one of us, gooble gobble, gooble gobble!”

The rest of the freaks join in, as he gleefully moves from freak to freak, offering them a drink from this glass. Of course, when he finally gets to Cleopatra, she goes crazy, cursing them, calling them terrible names and then throwing the drink at them. It doesn’t endear her anymore that she had poisoned poor Hans earlier in the night.

 

The freaks find out about her treachery in the creepiest way possible, namely staring at her from under wagons. The climax comes in the middle of a thunderstorm and has some pretty creepy imagery which probably was what earned it the horror genre tag. I’ll save her comeuppance for your own viewing pleasure.

Photo 2

Sideshows barely exist anymore. A lot of the acts from the old sideshows would probably be getting special care in homes or at institutions today. So, is it ok to watch this movie? Knowing that these people were being exploited? Or, in the case of this movie, is it ok because these people were not portrayed as anything but a well-knit family? Granted, a well-knit, vindictive family, but still.

 

For some, such as Schlitze, one of the pinheads, the spotlight was what kept them happy. He (despite wearing dresses, Schlitze was a he) was institutionalized after his caretaker died. The hospital deemed the best care for him would be to stay in the sideshow as it was the only thing that kept him happy. When he died, he was interred in an unmarked grave in California. In recent years, a message board took up funds and had a small marker placed with her name, date of birth and death. I won’t say much about whether the movie is right or wrong, but if it weren’t for ‘Freaks’, no one would know Schlitze was buried there.

Photo 3

Advertisements

Fathers Day (You don’t call a man a tree)

Posted in Horror Showcase, Updates with tags , , , , , , on June 16, 2012 by splatterpictures

My dad and I had this long standing joke when I was growing up. Anytime a movie would come on TV that would say: “Warning the following contains violence, course language and nudity viewer discretion is advised” We would look at each other and say; “Oh good it’s got everything a good movie should have” Well if your dad is anything like mine feel free to crank that shit to eleven with Tromas Fathers Day.

Being a Troma film I feel is its own explanation and if I was lazier I would have a one sentence review that describes it as such but for the uninitiated Troma is arguably the premier company making shock exploitation films. They not only make low budget B movies they embrace it to some sort of twisted art form. Of course Tromas biggest strength is the tongue and cheek self awareness of their own ridiculousness.

Fathers Day starts off with a bang as we watch a man get brutally hacked to pieces and then sexually assaulted, which I couldn’t help but notice a lot of parallels to recent news events. We’re treated to a short chase, when a stranger barges in on the killer that ends with a gunshot and the eye patched Ahab (Adam Brooks) declaring happy Fathers Day. It’s grindhouse cheese at its best.

The rest of the film is a frantic and off-beat story about a notorious fathers day killer named Chris Fuchman (I’m sure that was on purpose) who has a habit of raping and killing fathers. Why is it exclusively fathers? Who knows but that’s not important. After a long hiatus he’s back and they need Ahab to take him down. So a blind preacher sends his disciple  Father John Sullivan (Matthew Kennedy) to Ahab who has become a recluse at the end of the world, or what I would assume to be the mountains of Canada where he makes maple syrup. I mention the syrup because it seems to come up several times in the film.

A troubled teenaged male prostitute named Twink witnesses Fuchman kill his father and now is on the run seeking out help with Chelsea (Amy Groaning) Who just so happens to be Ahabs estranged sister. She’s a stripper (obviously) who has been following the Fuchman case for years and of course wants nothing to do with her brother. The group comes together to take down the psycho killer once and for all. If only it were as easy as just killing him though.

Fathers day is like watching a hyperactive child hopped up on pixie sticks tell you about their day. It’s fast and chaotic at times. Characters spew out their dialogue and then random stuff happens. It took me the first 20 minutes or so to get used to the pace but once I allowed myself to bow to the absurd I started liking it more and more.

The gritty close ups and grainy quality of the film go a long way in to giving it that old Grindhouse feel which is absolutely what they were going for. Also the inclusion of the bumpers before and after the credits along with the commercial break that advertise a terrible looking sci-fi Star Raiders really made me feel like I was sitting at home watching this on a random station at 2 AM wondering why I was still up.

I’d say the standout in this movie once you get past the gore is the comedy. The laughs are unpredictable and are somewhat muted at times. What I mean is you’re dealing with a narrative where all of the characters are taking themselves as seriously as possible and then bust out into some hilarious dialogue or sight gag. It’s a slow burn but by the end of the movie I found myself laughing more than I was cringing at some of the violence and holy hell there is violence. I could have gone my whole life without watching somebody cut their penis lengthwise with a knife but, yeah.

The violence is extreme, but effective and really breaks up the comedy. Which works there is something enjoyable to me about watching something that I can’t decide is funny or offensive.

Fans of Troma films that haven’t seen this one yet are doing themselves a disservice. It’s a non-stop exploitation comedy that isn’t afraid to be as outrageous as possible. Truly, Fathers Day is Troma at its best. That being said anybody who generally dislikes B movies or is offended by: Graphic violence, graphic sex, necrophilia, incest, rape, mutilation, blasphemy, maple syrup and more incest would do well to avoid it. In other words; Viewer discretion is advised.

Vrmmm Vrmmm VRMMMMM

Killer Klowns From Outer Space (Holy Sh**!)

Posted in Horror Showcase, Updates with tags , , , , , , , on April 3, 2012 by splatterpictures

The 1980’s has seen its fair share of ridiculous crap. I’ve spoke often about the horror boom of the 80’s and how it’s shaped how we look at horror nowadays. The interesting thing about Killer Klowns from Outer Space is not how 80’s it is but how 50’s.

Watching this movie I couldn’t help but notice how it felt as if I was watching a 50’s B movie in the drive in. Well not that I would even really know what that’s like since the drive-in went the way of the dodo before my time but I have seen a lot of films from that era and they all have the same “feel” to them.

Killer Klowns was written, directed, and produced by Chiodo brothers. Just three guys who loved science fiction and horror and wanted to make something that could be scary and silly at the same time. I think the final product was a lot sillier than anything else, but if you have a phobia of clowns or something this movie is probably your worst nightmare. The film stars Grant Cramer John Nelson and Suzanne Snyder. Snyder of course doing pretty well for horror in the 1980’s being in both Night of the Creeps and Return of the Living Dead II.

Well, I am not sure I’d even need to explain what this movie is about. It’s in the friggin’ title. There are space aliens that come to earth and kill people for food. They don’t just grab them and munch away; first they cocoon them in cotton candy which apparently makes them dissolve into a liquid that the alien clowns then drink. (with a silly straw)  The whole gimmick is of course that these aliens just so happen to look like clowns. Not only do they look like clowns but ever aspect of their technology is also circus themed. They have big top space-ships with pastel interior colour schemes. They have pop-corn guns, acidic pies, and giant wiffle-bats.

I remember wondering how much political debate would it have taken to get an entire society to stick to one theme like that. It probably took years of campaigns. I mean imagine if all of a sudden it became law for us to dress like clowns and then all of our technology would have to be changed to perpetuate the overall theme. I wonder if their home planet has outlaws that don’t dress like clowns…you know what? I’ve officially over analyzed this.

This is one of those movies that I’ve heard as many negative things about it as positive. I like to look at it from the perspective that it’s paying homage to a genre of films that in themselves weren’t exactly great. That being said a lot of its charm comes from the very fact that it doesn’t take itself seriously (honestly how could it?) Sure things are goofy but they’re supposed to be.

The special effects are pretty good all things considered. The clowns themselves look creepy as all hell. The entire time I was watching the movie I was wondering how anybody could be fooled into thinking they are actually people. Not only are they disproportioned they all have fucked up faces that would make me not want to go anywhere near them. A lot of the gags are based around killing unsuspecting people with clown-like shenanigans. My personal favourite was when they rolled up to a security guard in a clown car and then a bunch of them all get out one at a time, while the guard stands there completely confused about what he’s seeing they pelt the poor guy to death with pies. After the guy is a melted pile of ice-cream one of the little clowns puts a cherry on top. I was dying of laughter.

"Anyone who spells "Klown" with a "C" gets the pie!"

As I said before this is a tribute to 50’s movies and the one that it gets compared to a lot is the Blob. The only similarity really is the overall premise of teenagers running around while adults refuse to believe them. This is brought to outrageous proportions by the town’s police officer Curtis Mooney (played by the late John Vernon) he just crosses his arms and refuses to believe anyone even as the phones are ringing off the hook. He hates teenagers and is always just looking for excuses to arrest them. It’s pretty great.

Another similarity to The Blob I noticed was the inclusion of a theme song specifically for the movie.  (The Blob from 1958 had a catchy jingle aswell) Killer Klowns got the novelty song treatment courtesy of the punk group The Dickies (Later to be called Dill Pickles) The song “Killer Klowns” is fantastic and just sets the entire film up as the campy mess it ought to be. The rest of the music was scored by John Massari and every moment is just filled with slightly twisted and silly little circus jingles.

Early word has it that by next year the Chiodo brothers will be adding a long awaited sequel called The Return of The Killer Klowns From Outer Space. As much as I was amused by this film I’m not sure that a sequel should be made even with the best of intentions I like Killer Klowns as it is; a weird oddity that exists on its own.

Sadly, I don't think you can eat your way out of this one.

Tokyo Zombie

Posted in Horror Showcase, Updates with tags , , , , , , , , on March 15, 2012 by splatterpictures

Sometimes when I grab something off the DVD shelf I never know what I’m going get. I had a feeling about Tokyo Zombie: A movie with Jiu-Jitsu, zombies and comedy? Sold!

While I’m the first to admit that with all of the over-saturation of the zombie genre in the last few years I tend to roll my eyes at every new title announced I do find it fun that some things get region one releases where they might never have if zombies weren’t hot right now.

Tokyo Zombie was released in 2005 in Japan, and was given a region one DVD release in 2009. It’s based off the popular 1999 Manga written by Yusaku Hanakuma. The films directing duties were handed to Sakichi Sato and it stars Tadanobu Asano and Show Aikawa.

The year is unknown, I guess modern times but in this version of Japan there is a massive garbage dump at the epicentre of Tokyo. It’s full of toxic waste, garbage and the discarded bodies of the dead. The people call it “Black Fuji” because of the black ash that surrounds the mountain. Death and murder are treated pretty differently. If you kill somebody you just dump the body and forget about it. It makes for a few hilarious situations.

The main characters are Fukio and Mitsuo, (Asano and Aikawa respectively) they are you typical idiot and straight man buddy picture duo. The fun thing is how the pair are obsessed with becoming Jiu-Jitsu champions. They train all day instead of focusing on their jobs at a fire extinguisher factory (where they seem to be the only ones who work there). Their boss shows up and after a brief argument they accidentally kill him. So off to Black Fuji they go to get rid of his body.

This is about where the zombies start popping up and then it’s their fight for survival as they make their way to Russia where apparently the manliest men live and they can perfect their fighting styles.

The films take an interesting turn about midway through and does a time skip. I’m certain that’s just how the Manga ended up but as a movie it’s pretty weird. A lot of zombie movies take place either at the initial outbreak or well after the fact in sort of a post apocalyptic scenario where humans are barely surviving. A good example of the two extremes would be if Night of the Living Dead and then Land of The Dead were one movie.

When it gets into this portion the whole buddy comedy thing is over and now it’s just Fujio fighting in arena style matches against the undead. There is a hilarious twist towards the end of the movie though that I thought was fantastic. I usually don’t like it when movies switch gears like this so dramatically but in this case I felt it worked.

The jokes are mostly physical comedy which is good. A lot of times when you’re watching a movie from Japan the jokes can be lost in translation but I found myself laughing out loud at more than a few scenes.

I wouldn’t say it’s very gory so people looking for that type thing will be disappointed. It’s also plagued by some pretty bad CGI but I think in this case they knew it looked ridiculous and in a lot of ways it serves to enhance the comedy. Check it out!