Mutant Clusterfuck

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Right, So awhile back i received an email from a chap who’s name I’ve forgotten and am far too lazy to look up, nor do i care to shame the man. He asked if i would be interested in reviewing a film he had been a part of creating, called Mutantis. He described it as an “old School Horror-Comedy/Sci-Fi gorefest”. It sounded promising enough, so I agreed and provided my address for a screener copy to be sent. Months went by and no DVD, and when i made attempts to contact this chap and inquire, I got no response.  I had resigned myself to selecting something else that had been emailed to me by readers, but due to an email mishap, any and all fan submissions were lost. Fuck! Still the spectre of Mutantis lived on…so much so that my Girlfriend ordered the damn thing from Amazon, because she HAD to see it. I feel I need to say that I’m not mad at this afore mentioned chap, maybe a bit annoyed, but thats the way shit goes. At the end of the day I can’t complain about not receiving something for free, so I just need to assume that he didn’t give a fuck. So, Amazon comes through, we watch it that very same night…and it becomes painfully clear that NOBODY involved with this film gave any fucks at all.

Go ahead and watch the trailer…not only does it paint an accurate depiction of the film, but this brief glimpse is actually far more watchable than the film itself. Lord knows I am a fan of Campy Retro Horror films, and even the wave of modern homages flooding the market…but this is just too much. Far too often will I see a newer film trying to pay tribute to the cheesy gems of old by intentionally making a shitty movie, but they are missing the point! For the most part, filmmakers were trying to make the best film possible with their meager means, or had accepted the fact that their budget wouldn’t allow for much, so just had fun with it. Mutantis can only be explained as the filmmakers getting together a very small budget, and TRYING to make the shittiest film possible. The costumes are worse than the Peace River High School Drama Department(Highschool shout-out!), the acting is ridiculous, almost every actor is in bad drag for no reason, characters are played by multiple actors again for no reason, and all the dialogue is horribly dubbed in the most annoying way possible. Everything about the movie is designed to suck. There are poorly focused shots, heads out of frame, dialog exposition, colour grading issues, etc. Whatever can be done badly, has been done badly.

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Mutantis itself looks appropriately crap, a throwback to the creature features of yesteryear. I’m reminded of the classic “It Conquered The Earth”. Nothing that looks like this can be taken seriously. The whole thing is laughable, and damn it all, i did get some laughs out of the film. Props to the writers for the inventive kills Mutantis enacts on its victims. Penis dismemberment, death by extreme fellatio, cunnilingual face mastication, titty chopping, this film has it all covered. Sure the FX are amateurish and cheap, but at least it’s not CGI (No way they could have afforded CGI gore…)and it’s quite gruesome and rather funny. You have not lived until you see a man die from an explosion of semen pouring out of his eye sockets and a giant monster penis bursting out the back of his head, let me tell you.

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How do I feel about this movie? It’s harmless I suppose…at least it KNOWS it’s crap and doesn’t pretend to be anything else. I’ve recommended it to a few friends, but even then it was pretty much in a “Troll2″ kind of way. Since the bar was set so alarmingly low for this film, it was easy for the filmmakers to achieve what they set out to do, so as long as you can keep your expectations similarly low, then this may be worth checking out.

Let’s get NASTY!: Contamination (’80) and Dead & Buried (’81)

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Yet another Italian film makes the list, yet another film with a score by Goblin, another run of alternate titles ( Alien Contamination, Contamination: Alien on Earth and Toxic Spawn), and still another film that I have no idea why it was banned. The film itself is nothing special, with a great score, decent gore, and mediocre story. A derelict vessel drifts into New York Harbour. Seemingly abandoned, the ship is discovered to be carrying large containers of coffee, hidden inside of which are a series of football-sized green eggs.

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The crew sent in to explore the ghost ship find the mutilated remains of the former crew gathered in one place, and they soon discover the reason why: when heated up enough, the green eggs explode, spraying a viscous liquid over everything. The liquid is toxic to living creatures, and causes the body to immediately explode. The ensuing investigation links the eggs to a secret mission to Mars and results in the trio of a sarcastic New York Cop, an attractive Military Scientist(or at least I assume she is supposed to be…her face looks kinda weird. Almost like someone spent good money to buy a “Beautiful Woman” mask, and then didn’t bother to apply it properly) and the lone surviving astronaut from the Mars mission journeying to Coffee headquarters and discovering an alien plot involving a Cycloptic Octopus with slimy munchy parts…

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I won’t waste time going into fantastic detail about the plot, because even at the best of times, it is pretty flimsy. How this film wound up on the Nasties list, I will never know. It is worth noting that while the film made the DPP list, it was NOT successfully prosecuted. At the end of the day i suppose I’ll have to write this one up as a victim of the times. While the image of humans exploding outward in slow mo in all their bloody glory is pretty tame by today’s standards, i can imagine that Stuffy Olde England might have thought differently. As a Nasty, I can’t help but feel this falls very short of any expectations I had going in. I was expecting a cross between Zombie Flesh Eaters and Street Trash, not a cheap Alien rip off. If you take the film for what it is, and weren’t aware that it had been banned, maybe it would have been a more enjoyable viewing experience.

 

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Just one title? Made in America? Holy shit! Time for something different! Dead & Buried surprised me quite a lot, and it wasn’t until half way through that i realized I had seen this years before and forgotten. Going through no less than 3 separate production companies, this film was a bit of a Nightmare behind the scenes. At some point Dan O’Bannon was attached in some capacity as a writer, but the finished product bears little if any of his influence, and he has since disowned the film.

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The plot concerns a sleepy little town called Potters Bluff whose Townspeople act as a Murderous Mob, collectively murdering their victims right under the nose of the local Sheriff who tries in vain to learn the identity of the killers and their motive. Red Herrings abound with suspicious behaviour from the Sheriff’s wife, as well as discussion of Voodoo and Witchcraft, all adding to a genuinely creepy atmosphere and a conclusion that reminds be of the old EC Horror comics.  The murders are brutal! The first victim is lashed to a pole with a fishing net, set aflame, only to somehow survive! After being bandaged up at the local Hospital, an assailant sneaks in and finishes the job by jamming a huge needle into his eye…and all right under the nose of the Sheriff!

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Stan Winston provides superb FX work in this film, making great use of puppets to achieve stunning shots that even impress by todays standards. The scene in which the Mortician rebuilds the head of a deceased girl, undoing the damage inflicted by her attacker, making her fit for her funeral display, making her beautiful again is shown in a brilliant time-lapse type shot, switching seamlessly from the puppet and the actress. Another film that was acquitted of Obscenity charges, this film stands out from other Nasties in terms of quality as well. Creepy and effective, low-key and full of twists, this is a genuinely good horror film that really does make you wish they still made them like this today. If you get a chance to see it, please take it! You won’t be disappointed.

 

 

 

42nd Street Forever! Bring back the GRINDHOUSE!

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Did you see 2007s Grindhouse in the theater?  I hope to fuck that you did. Im not sure how many times i went, but I know it was more than 3, less than 7…so lets say 5. the last 3 times were at the departed Granville 7 cinema. You had to see this place, i never saw more than 20 people show up for any screening, so the place always felt nearly deserted. it was dark, creepy, and felt seedy. Located at a spot downtown that could be either skeevy or decadent, depending on which way the wind was blowing, I don’t think anyone who entered Granville 7 was ever in any real danger of being mugged or raped, but there was that subtle vibe all the same…

 

This did wonders for the viewing experience! Here I was, paying very little money to watch a double bill of Violence, Gore, Sadism and Thrills, complete with shitty image quality, and ridiculous trailers for films that if they existed, i HAD to see! Sadly, this is as close as i would ever get to the Grindhouses of New Yorks 42nd street. Actually, that isn’t true, Vancouver still had The Fox Cinema, a XXX theater institution on Main Street. I had gone to the Fox several times, and soaked in(figuratively speaking at least…literally speaking was always a risk you took) the spectacle and the sleaziness of it all. On any given occasion, you could see what looked like deranged 80’s time travelling hookers nodding off in the seats and benches, creepy dudes doing their best Joe Spinelli in Maniac impression, shifty looking dealers offering even shiftier looking drugs, The occasional public display of fucking by patrons…which sometimes had other patrons lining up for their turn. And of course there was the gay cruising. Apparently there was a whole system of etiquette and codes associated with this, something about which rows you sat in and changing rows to express interest…I dunno, I found that if anybody made me any kind of offer i didn’t want, a simple “Fuck Off”, was enough to get them to leave me alone. Why would anyone other than a dedicated pervert (no shame, perv hard!) venture into this place? For the experience. Sure it was dirty, and skeevy and you can’t imagine what the fucking bathroom smelled like, but it had that element of danger that I crave in cinema.

 

Back to the topic at hand, Tarantino and Rodriguez gave me, and presumably others, a taste of something magical we had only heard about, knowing it was long gone and never to return. We wanted more! Why not a film showcasing franchise jumping Sheriff Earl McGraw? Maybe the Backstory of El Wray, that was only hinted at in Planet Terror? What about those incredible fucking trailers? Machete, Werewolf Women of the SS, Don’t, and Thanksgiving had me more excited for upcoming(?) films than i had been in years! Over the years since, I had heard various reports that these films may one day see the light of day. We saw Machete, which i felt lived up to expectations but i would have enjoyed more if it had a more degraded film look and DID NOT use a body double for the Lindsay Lohan nude scenes. We also saw the release of Hobo With A Shotgun, which started as a contest winning fake trailer, tacked on to later screenings of Grindhouse. Since then, there have been several new films that seem intent on capitalising on renewed interest in grindhouse style films. Astron 6 pretty much owes their careers to Grindhouse with releases like Fathers Day, Man-Borg, and The Editor. Other modern gems such as Dear God, No!, and Run Bitch, Run! bring the goods and wrap them in a vintage grimy package…there are tons more, keep your ears and your eyes open.

 

Im currently in talks with several other like minded fellows to put together a proposal and acquire sponsors to rent local theaters with a certain “Charm” to host regular Grindhouse nights, complete with trailers, double bills, buckets of bodily fluids and every manner of chills and thrills imaginable. We’ll never be able to go back to the Glory days of old, sensibilities have changed, and the world of Cinema has moved on. Grindhouse Cinema died young, left a ragged but slutty looking corpse, and was buried by the mainstream. But dammit, we might be able to bring it back for a few nights at a time. It won’t be easy, but if enough of us demand it, then our voices will be heard by someone determined to make a buck off of us. Don’t get me wrong, the Multiplex and Blu Rays might be enough for the majority…but it’s not enough for me. I want my films to be dangerous again. I want an Exploitation Explosion! I want a new rise of the Nasties! I want to go back to the Grindhouse.

 

 

 

The Cryptid Crypt: Exists

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Is it even possible to do a found footage film anymore without including the Supernatural, or Bigfoot? These two subject have pretty much dominated the medium in recent years, and aside from creative standouts like the VHS series, most filmmakers seem content with this route. I’ve reviewed a total of 3 FF style ‘Squatch-fests for this column, and for the most part, they tend to be the same. A small group goes looking for Bigfoot, stumbles across him, still acts skeptical, runs, cries and films in equal measure. All of these films seem to offer more questions about Sasquatch than answers, and heaven fucking forbid we get a good look at the beast! That is, until Eduardo Sanchez returned to the woods with his camera to remind us all how it is done.

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Sanchez, after co-directing and writing The Blair Witch Project, is Found-Footage Royalty. His work on BW, VHS2 segment “A ride in the park”, and now Exists, shows a skilled hand at work, maximizing the medium and adding believability and practicality to the shots. It makes perfect sense that our camera-man won’t stop filming, He set out to make a “kick-ass YouTube video”, so his handheld is constantly running, and Go-Pro cameras are strapped to nearly everything that you could think of.

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The best and worst of Sasquatch films often has the same problem, The creature looks like shit. Not only does Exists bring a realistic, believable looking Sasquatch to the screen, but they let us see juuuuuust enough to appreciate the design, and to keep a bit of the mystery. This is a beast that is fast, brutal, and intelligent. Fully capable of stalking us and killing us 1 by 1. If you haven’t seen the film yet, I strongly suggest making a point of doing so. I enjoyed the hell out of it, and I’m confident you will too.

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Zombie-Muthafuckin-BEAVERS!!!

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How the fuck do I review a movie where the title tells you literally EVERYTHING about the film? 50,000 Beaver jokes later, I am thoroughly entertained…but no closer to the answer. I first saw the Poster, and thought I was being ribbed. No fucking way a film about Zombie Beavers was a real thing. Zombeavers is very much a thing, and you all need to watch it.

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After ripping off the opening of both Return of the Living Dead part 2 and Radioactive Redneck Zombies, we transition to the truly unique plot of College Kids venturing out to a Cabin in the Woods for a weekend of debauchery. Throw in the obligatory tit-shots, bad jokes, sex, a love triangle, and cheesy creature FX, and you have a film that should be a total flop on paper, yet somehow manages to entertain in a major way.

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Let’s be perfectly clear about this: Zombeavers is a stupid fucking movie in every way you can measure. It is redeemed by never taking itself seriously. It doesn’t take a genius to notice that the horror genre has been littered with silliness and stupidity over the years, be it accidental, tongue in cheek, or balls-out blatant. The film is well made, well cast, and overall looks and sounds top notch…except for the Zombeavers. You can’t count that as a negative though…the ZBs ARE stupid, so they should LOOK stupid. The filmmakers clearly weren’t concerned about elevating the art form, or adding a bold new chapter the the lexicon of fright films, they were concerned with having a good time, and making a fun movie that is sure to entertain.

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Oh, and in case you were wondering what happens when you get bit by a Zombeaver…

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YOU TURN INTO A WERZOMBEAVER-HUman-hybridy…thing…with the, uhhh…FUCK YOU! Let’s see you come up with a better name!

Silent Night, Fucked Up Night

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Dokken Roadies and Brain Domes. Jesus Harold Christ on fucking rubber crutch, I actually sat through this film!

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So, the film opens with Ricky somehow surviving the last film, only now he is played by Horror Heavyweight Bill Mosely…and is now sporting a transparent Braindome on his head, complete with sloshing fluid and flashing lights. This is all part of an experiment by an ambitious Doctor who wants to use a blind clairvoyant to telepathically connect with the comatose Ricky. I can’t remember if they explained exactly WHY he wants to do this, because I was to preoccupied with the sloosh-slooshing of that wonderful Braindome! Lookit that thing!

So the blind girl, Laura is traumatized after a particularly gnarly session of mind-dipping with Ricky. It really felt like they were trying to do a Nightmare on Elm Street rip off with the dream sequences, but it falls flat on its face just like their attempts at making a viable followup to Silent Night Deadly Night. So yeah, blind chick leaves for a trip up to Grammas house for Christmas along with her brother and his girlfriend…and I’ll get back to those clowns in a minute. And because the flimsy plot would be even more flimsy otherwise, Laura and Ricky now seem to have a psychic link.

After a drunken perverted Santa enters Ricky’s room and begins taunting him, Ricky conveniently wakes from his coma, kills the Santa, some twat who works at the front desk, then hitchhikes out to Grammas house for some yuletide slaughter.

The film is unremarkable in every way except for “so bad it’s good” fun, and this is exemplified perfectly by the brother, Chris and his girlfriend Jerri. Chris looks like a Dokken roadie with his long curly hair, jeans and denim jacket and impossibly hairy chest.

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Jerri is just a snotty bitch who delivers every line and action as if she was first told about it 15 seconds before cameras rolled.

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This is far from a good movie, in fact it goes a long way towards making part 2 a better movie. Had I not watched this with 2 close friends, I likely would have hated it. Shout out to Jen and Tom Pavlovic! As strange as it sounds, the sequels get weirder and weirder from here. Part 4 involves a lesbian brainwashing cult and body-horror elements, and part 5 has a psychosexual Pinocchio story that has Mickey Rooney donning the sinister Santa’s garb! This series is fucked…then again, so is my family…and that means I have to put up with it every Christmas and will likely use a LOT of alcohol to get through it.

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Ba-Ba-Dook-DOOK-DOOOOK!!!

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I had been aware of The Babadook for some time, and while I was eager to see it, it wasn’t until I heard the glowing endorsement of William Friedkin(Director of The Exorcist) proclaiming it to be the scariest movie he’d ever seen. Let that thought digest for a few minutes…for the director of what is considered to be one of the scariest films in history to be heaping such praise on this film is all the endorsement I needed. I had to see it ASAP. Fair warning, SPOILERS AHEAD!

The very first thing I noticed while watching the film is that I wanted to kill the child. Regular readers will know of my irrational hatred of children in horror films, and how they seem to only exist to piss me off and rarely die. This trend will not be ending anytime soon. We meet Amelia, a single mother who lost her husband in a car crash while on the way to the hospital to deliver their son, Samuel. Now she of course loves her son very much, but cannot help but resent him. The kid also seems to have a touch of Aspergers…actually that’s not fair. I have no idea what Aspergers is, and it’s unfair to throw that out there. The kid acts like an annoying little fuck, pitching fits, clinging to his mother, acting like a supremely annoying shit. Once you see this movie, I’m confident you will want to kill the kid within the first 15mins.
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One night, Sam asks his mother to read from a mysterious pop-up book he found on his shelf. The story, titled “Mister Babadook”, is about a supernatural creature that, once someone is made aware of its existence, torments that person indefinitely. Amelia is disturbed by the book’s contents, while a traumatized Sam becomes convinced that the Babadook is stalking them in their home. Amelia begins to notice strange phenomena in their home, and Sam’s behavior worsens. He is expelled from school for his behavior and pushes his cousin out of a treehouse for not believing in the Babadook and taunting him for not having a father. This causes Amelia’s sister Claire to admit she can’t stand to be around Sam and suspects Amelia feels the same.
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Here is where we find the most crucial part of the film. Is it really about a supernatural Bogeyman who torments a mother and son? Or is The Babadook an allegory for the madness that overtakes a resentful mother who is at her wits end. The more taxing her sons behavior gets, the stronger the Babadook gets.

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For a first time director to come completely out of left field and lay a film this creepy on us is truly something remarkable. On the surface, the idea of Mr. Babadook creeping into your home, hiding in the shadows, creeping around in his long black coat and stove pipe hat, scuttling about in a vaguely insectile fashion is pretty unnerving. Amelia is shown watching Silent Expressionist films which directly influences the look of Mr. Babadook, he comes across as something both familiar and alien, like something horrible playing at being human.
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Essie Davis practically carries the film as Amelia. At no point during the film did it become obvious that I was watching a thespian at her craft, her portrayal of this tragically distressed woman was incredibly believable and allowed me to really empathize with the plight of her character. Is she likeable at all times? Fuck no! But that is what makes the performance all the more powerful.The idea of a mother being pushed to the point where she unravels and becomes a danger to herself and her child is not a new concept, but the story is told as if we are watching a nightmare unfold and being unable to escape.
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For anyone who watches horror films all year long, a film like the Babadook comes along maybe once, or twice a year if we are lucky. Is it the scariest movie of all time? I think that might be a bit of a stretch, but it is certainly VERY scary. There is an awful lot of hype, maybe too much to ever live up to. This is going to end up being a very important film, and not just because it will surely be responsible for countless nightmares (I plan on showing this to as many children as I can). The Babadook will undoubtedly cast more attention on Australian horror cinema and woman filmmakers as well. The fact that a film like this was written and directed by a woman should come as no surprise. Only a woman could so accurately tell a tale with such an underlying message of postpartum depression and single motherhood. Kent does a fantastic job of allowing us a true to life glimpse into a truly frightening world that most of us will hopefully never know. As much as I joke about my hatred of small children in horror films, this film was no joke. I, like the mother, badly wanted to murder this small child. It’s unwise to try and deny the monster that lives within us. We each have it, it’s just a question of whether we let him do his work, or keep him chained up in the basement. If it’s in a word or it’s in a look, you can’t get rid of the Babadook…