The Northwest Horror Show!!!

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It wasn’t that long ago that i wrote about the Authentic feel of Grindhouse cinema being largely lost(https://doctorhavok.wordpress.com/2015/02/26/42nd-street-forever-bring-back-the-grindhouse/), and now Northwest Nightmares Entertainment decides to roll out a Festival tailor made for Doctor Havok! I’m egotistical as fuck, so I’m going to pretend the organisers are readers of mine and did this solely to please me, despite any and all improbability.

Due to scheduling conflicts, I was not able to take in the full festival, as I would have liked, so I had to pick carefully. Unfortunately I wouldn’t be able to catch anything on Saturday night because of my commitments to ECCW Wrestling, so that limited my viewing choices somewhat. Friday nights line up was 1985’s Demons (preceded by shorts “M” is for Montage, and Inder Nirwan), and 1988’s Brain Damage (preceded by shorts Pumpkin Spice, and Seeing Red), and concluded with Cannibal Holocaust (preceded by short El Gigante). Saturday saw screenings of Massacre: Mafia Style(1975), Gone With The Pope(1976), Trailer Apocalypse (a collection of trailers presented by Grindhouse Releasing), and Pieces(1982). I didn’t bother to find out which shorts were shown this day because…well, I knew I couldn’t attend. Sunday wrapped it all up by screening the 1980 schlock-fest Nightmare City (with short Say What!?), and Lucio Fulci’s 1981 classic The Beyond(preceded by short Fruit of Thy Womb). I wound up seeing Cannibal Holocaust, Nightmare City, and The Beyond. I bought some Blu Rays from the Videomatica booth, I won a “Demons 2” steelbook, I got some free posters and tips about upcoming festivals and genre screenings, and I got to talk to other genre fans. All in all, I would say that for a first outing, despite modest attendance, The Northwest Horror Show was a success!

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Each film was presented in 35mm print, and as you can expect, the quality was seriously degraded. Scratches, distortions, breaks and patches in the reel were all on the menu…and it was incredible! It felt raw and dirty, just the way these films were meant to be viewed. The venue felt like an odd fit though. Maybe I’m biased, but The Rio would have felt more fitting for a show such as this. Hopefully this will be an annual event and the NWHS will grow bigger and bigger. I see no reason why this couldn’t expand to a weeklong fest, with panels, short film contests , seminars and more classic films. If we want to see more events like this, we need to contact the organizers and demand more! As always, check your local screenings and stay informed, because you never know what awesomeness might be playing near you.

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.