I watched Lucio Fulci's The Beyond last night and it was beyond terrible. It had some fun special effects sequences, but it was otherwise a horrid movie.
File this more under "exploitation" than "cult", but I'm still putting it here. Epix is a new-ish premium movie channel co-owned by Paramount, MGM and Lionsgate. They are trying to compete with HBO and Showtime and have nabbed quite a few good comedians for comedy specials. It's sold in different ways on different systems, but usually it's part of some kind of add-on package.
On Dish Network, Epix 1 and 2 are all HD channels and focus on newer films and specials. However, they have added a channel to the basic packages clumsily called "The 3 From Epix". This one is in SD, loaded with older films and acts mainly as an ad to get you to buy the main channels. In between lousy old movies, they show previews for Iron Man 2 or whatever, and ask you to call and order. I've caught a few bizarro 70s and 80s horror flicks on here like The Video Dead, The Incredible Melting Man, and Empire Of The Ants, but otherwise haven't paid much attention.
Well, I checked out their website, and they have basically dumped a huge library of back catalog movies on there available to anyone who subscribes to the channel. They seem to have a ton of Crown International Pictures , Embassy Pictures, and AIP films. Amazingly, they have Get Crazy, one of my favorite 80's b-movies which has been out of print on VHS for 20 years it seems. I just watched a really terrible 70s sketch comedy movie called American Raspberry which was notable for having Warren Oates and Robert Ridgely in a hunting show spoof that made light of the Charles Whitman shootings. I saw Lemon Popcicle which is the Israeli film that was remade into The Last American Virgin, and there are a ton of other 80's teen sex movies. (Who knew Crispin Glover was in My Tutor.) They have Fritz The Cat and some other Bakshi stuff. I haven't really dug into the horror or action sections, but I expect they are even more extensive.
The last time I logged in, it suggested something called Prison Girls which appeared to be straight up 70's porn from the first 5 minutes I watched. I'm sure some of this is on Netflix, but it's an interestingly lurid collection for those of you who may already subscribe to this. (I've found some people get it and didn't know it was there...the package Dish includes it in has 20 other channels.)
I wrote this a few days ago and just never got around to posting it.
Cult Film Of The Day #3: Eraserhead (David Lynch, 1977, NR, USA)
While some cult films become more palatable to a wider audience over time, others remain inscrutable long after they've been accepted as part of the canon. David Lynch's feature film debut is one of those films. More of a surreal, impressionistic nightmare than a traditional narrative film, Eraserhead delves into some of the darkest corners of the psyche and presents them with an intuitive visual and sonic mastery that has rarely been matched. Even after thirty years of films that have borrowed from, paid tribute to, ripped off and served as spiritual kin to it, it remains a singular cinematic experience.
The plot is almost deceptively simple: a young factory worker living in a post industrial wasteland is overcome with anxiety and despair after his girlfriend gives birth to an unplanned, deformed baby that he isn't emotionally or financially prepared to take care of. The film plays out as a horrifying, some times darkly comic manifestation of all of those anxieties. Taken on a literal level, the plot is convoluted and confounding, moving through a fevered dream logic taken straight from the subconscious. Things make more sense when taken on a purely emotional level.
The world of Eraserhead is one dominated by machines, it's landscape populated by mechanical movement, steam, and grit, its soundtrack consisting of industrial pounding and ambience. Interpreted one way, the opening scene even presents the body as a machine: leading man Jack Nance (starring as nervous printer Henry Spencer) is seen floating translucent over an alien planet, where a lone deformed man waits in an abandoned factory to perform one task, the pulling of levers, which causes something resembling a giant sperm to float out of Henry's mouth and descend into a filthy looking cosmic puddle. The act of conception has never seemed so foreign and so mechanical.
Lynch is a master of creating haunting images that hit on a subliminal level, and Eraserhead finds him at his most unfettered. Henry occupies a dingy no man's land, and every detail of his environment is filled in with grimy textures. His apartment is a bare, dimly lit hovel nestled in a crumbling relic of a building, with mounds of dirt and wire laid on top of antique dressers serving as decoration. Even his window looks out on a brick wall. It's no wonder he fantasizes about a chipmunked cheeked Lady In The Radiator singing songs about everything being fine in heaven.
One of the film's most remarkable feats is in its ability to make the mundane utterly terrifying in unexpected ways. Perhaps the best example of this is the scene where Henry goes to his girlfriend's parents' house for dinner, where the suckling noises of a dog feeding her pups is exaggerated to the point of creating a totally menacing atmosphere. It also manages to be one of the most bizarrely humorous scenes. The typical anxieties of meeting the parents of a significant other are blown so completely out of proportion that it seems like a impressionistic transcription of what it felt like in the emotional memory of the character as opposed to what actually happened.
That's more or less the key to unlocking this film. All the imagery is a literal visualization of the emotions felt by the characters. It's remarkable at conveying the hopes and fears of Henry on very basic, primordial level. Before becoming a filmmaker, David Lynch was a painter, and his approach throughout his career has always come from that painterly sense of visually evoking certain moods by reinterpreting the world as he sees it in his mind's eye. Love it or hate it, it's hard to deny that Eraserhead represents a masterful attempt at expressing a claustrophobic atmosphere of dread, despair and isolation in a dehumanized world. Eraserhead often gets maligned for being "meaningless," which I don't think is fair. I'll maintain that most of the imagery does hold up to thoughtful analysis, but the great thing about art, and in particular film, is the way it allows you to experience the abstract directly. Just because the meaning of a piece of art cannot be perfectly verbalized does not mean that it lacks meaning. If anything, I would say that Eraserhead marks one of the greatest examples of film stretching to achieve its potential as a audio/visual medium. The experience of watching it can in no way be recreated by describing it verbally. It is infinitely greater than the sum of its parts.
Due to it's unrelentingly dark mood, unconventional storytelling techniques, and disturbing imagery, it's easy to see why Eraserhead has remained a cult film, adored and reviled with equal passion. It's one of those films that speaks a language all its own, and if it connects with you, it does so on such a strong, atavistic level that it's easy to slip into hyperbole when singing its praises. If it doesn't connect with you, it's bound to seem off-putting, self indulgent, boring and pretentious. Like most great cult films, Eraserhead is a highly personal, idiosyncratic film that invokes (perfectly valid) strong reactions from all sides. For me, it is an absolute masterpiece, a truly enduring work of art from which I gain something new with every viewing.
My Eraserhead experience was amplified by the fact I had been tweeking for a day...or so. I was also living with a tweeker and her deranged circle of "friends". Some of these folks started to come quite unhinged and were wondering out loud what they had got themselves into.
I feel all of Lynch's films can viewed on a dark comedic level. Watching Blue Velvet and Wild At Heart from a serious critical perspective versus a comedic one produce highly contrasting results. I once watched a double feature of these two films at a local theater. My friend laughed out loud through most of both movies. I was embarrassed at first, but then realized the genius of what she was seeing. Since that day, I have always watched Lynch's movies looking for the humor or sometimes just silliness.
The other notable Lynch moment in my life was when my parents took me with them to see The Elephant Man. I was four or five years old and hid under my seat for the duration of the picture. That movie traumatized me for a good portion of my youth.
Can't wait for Lynch to release another film.
Speaking of Lynch, one of the only times I have ever been truly scared while watching a film was seeing Inland Empire in a theater. I had no idea what was going to come next - a scary image, a loud noise, a scream, etc.
We're here to play some Mississippi Delta Blues. We're in a horrible depression, and I gotta admit - we're starting to like it.
I saw Eraserhead when I was about 10 for the first time, and it gave me nightmares..I kept dreaming about the white worms falling from the sky and the woman stepping on them with her high heels. Seeing it later on in life made me appreciate its wonderful weirdness but it still gives me the creeps.
where I been?
"First Lady, I'm sorry I pimp-slapped you into that china cabinet."
We're here to play some Mississippi Delta Blues. We're in a horrible depression, and I gotta admit - we're starting to like it.
I've watched it many times. I was bummed I couldn't go to the screening.
I watched Hobo With A Shotgun last night, and it is glorious.
If you don't know, this started out as a fake trailer that one a contest and was a part of the Canadian release of Tarantino and Rodriquez's Grindhouse, and subsequently got made into a feature length film somehow starring Rutger Hauer.
The story is a simple: a hobo rides into town on a train. Quickly, he see the place is overrun by ridiculous crime, murder and prostitution, run by a sadistic kingpin and his two murderous sons. He becomes fed up and obtains a shotgun and starts to take justice into his own hands.
The movie starts with a very Roger Corman-esque, pleasant 60/70s opening credits sequence of the train, very reminiscence of the beginning of Scorsese's Boxcar Bertha. VERY quickly though, we find the "reality" of the movie is much more over the top, fanastical, and ridiculous, in a very TROMA way. In fact, this movie is almost a remake of The Toxic Avenger in a way - very much in plot, and almost exact in its sensibilities.
The movie is very much a live action cartoon - everything is incredibly stylized, from the very ornately dressed set pieces of a mutilated city, to the absurdly cartoonish caricature-ish acting, and the extremely over the top gore and buckets of blood. Because of this, you should have problem accepting how stupidly ever the top and inane everything is following: Once Hauer has the shotgun, pulled from a wall, he has an unlimited supply of shells, despite never loading it in the first place. It somehow becomes the ultimate weapon in this sordid tale, capable of immeasurable amounts of damage. people do "drugs" by simply smashing small pillow-size bags of white powder onto their faces, which induce frenzies of lunacy. The hooker with a heart of gold convinces the furied masses to stop murdering all of the homeless people at the behest of the crimelord with a rivoting speech that homeless people actually are not homeless - when we're in the streets, we're actually in their home, the biggest home around.
The movie works best when it is being as ridiculous and revolting as possible, always with the appropriate sense of humor. There is a sequence with a man with his head stuck in a manhole in the crowd which is ripped off with a chicken-wire noose, followed by a bikini-clad woman. In the background of a scene in which the crimelord dispenses advice to his sons, a croup of topless girls shriek with delight as they pound a crying, hanging man with baseball bats like a pinata. the scene is punctuated with the line, "when life gives your razorblades - make a baseball bat covered with razorblades!" A man walks into a building an performs an entire fight scenes wearing ice skates, using them as weapons to slice people apart.
One of the coolest parts of the movie is THE PLAGUE, a strange, unexplained team of super-villains dressed head to toe in costumes that are a mix between metal worker and bondage, with oddly computerized voices. They have a wonderful sequence in which they walk through a dreary hallway, slip nooses on people necks, and shoot spears into the ceiling, hanging them, and leaving an entire hallway of dangling bodies in their wake.
And perhaps, one of the greatest exchanges of all time, once the going gets really tough:
"You can't solve all of the world's problems with a shotgun!"
"It's all I know."
i can't recommend this movie enough, for fans of this type of movie anyway.
I completely disagree. I thought it was trying far too hard to shock and was generally pretty stupid and flat. There was some pretty creative mayhem, and occasionally they dipped into some cool genuine b-movie atmospherics (I did like the metal guys), but it felt like a bunch of dumb frat boys trying to make a Troma style cult film. It's gory and over the top and absurd, but there was no real wit to it. Most of the dialogue was really cringeworthy in how desperate it was to be outrageous and disgusting. I'm just really jaded with this new batch of pseudo cult films. Everyone's too self-aware and think that if they just throw a bunch of over the top bullshit on the screen, they have an instant cult hit, without tapping into the originality and skewed perspective that makes most cult films great. Cult movies are mainstream now and I think they're boring.
I watched Zero Hour! last night. For those who don't know, Airplane! was essentially a comedy remake of this 50's melodrama. I've known this for a while, but I thought it was just the basic premise. (WW2 pilot lands commercial airliner due to food poisoning outbreak).
As it turns out, it's a near shot for shot, line for line remake with jokes added. I found it fascinating that even though Airplane! is one of the funniest movies of all time, a good 80% of it is an incredibly dull, dreary soap opera. It's essentially a parody of a movie no one has seen, which is a good demonstration of good parody vs bad parody. The current wave of garbage like Meet The Spartans is counting on you to have seen the original and laugh at it out of...recognition, I guess. Airplane! doesn't have that built in laugh. Did you ever question why the pilot asks the kid so many inappropriate things? Airplane! took the vaguely creepy pilot from Zero Hour! and turned him into a full fledged child molester. But the jokes work...they are still funny, even if you haven't seen the original.
I was hoping to find the pilot scene on Youtube and actually found a nicely edited package of scene comparisons. I suppose these could be considered spoilers if you want to experience what I did.
No one's reading this thread, but what the hell...
Just finished watching Inserts. What a strange little film. Richard Dreyfuss plays an even more unglued version of the usual Dreyfuss character, a washed-up, impotent alcoholic silent film director filming porno loops in his home in the 30's. The film opens with a silent black & white rough sex/rape scene that is fairly explicit and disturbing even by today's standards. We then see the morning of filming and soap-opera drama that led up to it, all taking place in a few rooms in one house. It's pretty much a stage play with the limited location, and there are only 5 characters. The whole thing is as slow as can be, and there's too much silliness undercutting the drama to take it as seriously as it seems to want to be taken. (Bob Hoskins plays a gangster named Big Mac who starts a chain of hamburger joints, Dreyfuss sings a song about getting his "rope to rise")
But the last 3rd of the movie, with Dreyfuss trying to shoot the insert shots of the title with Jessica Harper is pretty great. The two banter (again, quite explicitly) and use each other to excellent effect that finally puts a little twist on the film. But it's a long road to get there (it runs nearly 2 hours) and I'm not sure it was worth it. Still, I really have an interest in cinematic oddities, and I enjoy thinking about who the audience was supposed to be for this. Ahhhh, the 70's.
I could have sworn Drinkey recommended this movie in this thread, but I may have been thinking about Vicious Lips. Anyway, I watched Suck last night, and enjoyed it 100 times more than I expected to. It starts out pretty weak, with a badly animated bat sweeping into the city, a ridiculous looking Head Vampire (Kim said he looked like Depp in Alice In Wonderland), and a musical seduction/turning scene that is silly and unbelievable.
And then, it just turns kind of awesome.
It's funny, but not too "jokey". Gory, but not trying for stomach churning shocks. Not scary, but it never tries to be. It's beautifully shot, but when it reaches it's low budget limitations, it pulls out tricks like claymation style driving scenes. It's a rock opera in a very 70's style rock opera tradition, and the music runs the range from listenable to excellent. Most importantly, it's fun. It's everything I wanted from Repo The Genetic Opera and didn't get.
Speaking of fun, it's full of cameos from music stars clearly having a good time. Alice Cooper as a creepy goth/maybe vampire bartender is kind of obvious. But Moby as the leader of a carnivore metal band? ("Secretaries Of Steak") Henry Rollins as a cheesy morning DJ? Alex Lifeson as an gung-ho American border guard? And bonus points for using clips from O Lucky Man to help create flashbacks for Malcolm McDowell's character. (Eddie Van Helsing.)
It doesn't all work, but, damn it, it should be a piece of crap and instead I'm thinking about watching it again soon. Netflix Instant has it. Get on it.
EDIT- The guy who plays the lead singer isn't that believable as a rock star, but he can act just fine, and he apparently wrote and directed it AND wrote all the songs. So good on you, presumably Canadian guy I've never seen before.
Oh, and Dave Foley plays a perfect Dave Foley character.
I did not recommend it in here, but I did enjoy the hell out of Suck! Also check out Phil The Alien, the lead actor/writer/director's first movie. it's fucking hilarious.
It covers the cult phenomenon, the attempts to capitalize on that wave, and people who made and story of the film. i don't think my experience with Troll 2 was hurt by watching the doc first. If you are a fan of T2, you really should watch the doc. Both available on Netflix instant.
Wrote this for my tumblr in an effort to provide original content and not just reblog dick pics and meme gifs.
Today’s offering is an interesting piece of celluloid sleaze called The Baby. It’s the kind of campy, low concept exploitation oddity that’s one of the calling cards of 70’s cinema. The premise tells you much about what you need to know about the film’s tone and aims: a seemingly naive young social worker finds her way onto a case where an eccentric, sneering matriarch, Mrs. Wadsworth, and her two trashy, promiscuous daughters take care of their son/brother, an infantile, fully grown man simply called Baby who sleeps in a crib, wears diapers, and is incapable of standing upright or talking. There’s a lot of ways this concept could have been executed, but fortunately, the filmmakers went the tongue-in-cheek psycho-drama route. It shares a spiritual kinship with What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?, even if it doesn’t quite reach that film’s delirious heights of acidic melodrama.
The plot is rather paper thin and really just an excuse for showcasing some bizarre family dynamics and cat fights between the social worker, Ann Gentry, and the Wadsworths. Ann insinuates herself into the Wadsworths lives, developing a special connection to Baby. As she beings to suspect Mrs. Wadsworth of intentionally discouraging Baby’s development, she starts scheming to take him away from the dysfunctional family. Of course, the possessive Wadsworths don’t take too kindly to this, and a war between the two parties begins to escalate. Unsurprisingly, this leads to a twist ending in which Ann’s intentions are revealed to be less than altogether altruistic.
Although not quite deranged enough to stand as an all time trash classics, The Baby is still enjoyably twisted. Stand out scenes include: a baby-sitter getting caught “breast-feeding” Baby, leading to a brutal beating; a form of domestic punishment that includes a cattle prod; a birthday party for Baby that’s a front for a kidnapping scheme; and the sadistic sexual power games of the Wadsworth sisters that involve playing with fire, literally. The biggest draw for this flick is the acting, especially Ruth Roman, who is clearly relishing every nasty moment of spite she spits out, again recalling Baby Jane’s Bette Davis at her sourest. As Baby, David Mooney shows a level of commitment that more than likely outweighs the material, thankfully. The two Wadsworth sisters seem to have been culled straight from the world of Russ Meyer. Only Anjanette Comer as Ann tends to fade into the background as your average unremarkable 70s female protagonist, although one gets the impression that that was the intention so as to give the final revelation more sticking power.
All in all, not a bad, nasty little camp flick that mostly plays it straight to good effect. Although there is a bit of violence and hints of sexual deviancy, the thrills in this one are largely psychological. Fans of vintage bitchy snark and perverse family politics are advised to give this a watch. As of this post, it’s on Netflix Instant.
I also watched The Manitou about a week ago, which is one of those infamous movies known for being completely demented and nonsensical. I mean, the plot summary should clue you in: a woman notices a tumor growing very quickly on the back of her neck that ends up being the reincarnated fetus of a Native American medicine man, causing her ex, a phony tarot card reader played by Tony Curtis, to join up with a modern medicine man to fight off this malevolent force before it kills off its host. It actually starts off relatively restrained, and you could even mistake it for a legitimately good horror flick. After about an hour, it really goes off the deep end in the best way possible. The resurrected medicine man ends up being a naked, deformed dwarf. He can control surgical lazers and just about every other form of machinery as weapons against his foes. At one point, an entire hospital is frozen over. A typewriter becomes the only weapon that throws the evil dwarf off guard. And really, the less said about the climactic battle, the more fun it'll be for it to discover it on your own. If you enjoy genuine cult weirdness, hunt this fucker down and gorge on it with your eyeballs. It's around various places online.
A while back in the thread, I wrote about how Epix has a pretty large online library of 60s and 70s trash. Since then, they converted one of their regular TV channels to "Epix Drive In" and bulked it up with a big library of Roger Corman and Troma films and a bunch of euro-sleeze from Redemption Video. I caught part of the baffling Nude For Satan the other night. If you have DISH, it's hidden away on channel 292, but well worth checking out the schedule, though I'm sure it will become repetitive quick. You don't need the full Epix premium package to get it either, it's in some of the basic packages