Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Fan Theories: The Babadook: Madness theory- Spoilers Ahead!!

The Babadook seems to split horror fans. Some saw a interesting minimalist creeper and others well i`m not sure what they saw because I really dug this one. So needless to say its not everyone's cup of tea however if you haven't seen it a urge you to not read this. I normally make this a spoiler free blog however there is no way around this one, so you`ve been warned.

Its a long read but I think an interesting one if your a fan of the film.

*******Spoilers Ahead************

Fan Theories: The Babadook:Madness Theory

By Gorehound Mike Vaughn

Like some of the fans already guessed there is no monster Mister Babadook. From frame one the Mother is not quiet right in the head. The following will prove that the Mother is totally bonkers and in turn leaks her madness onto her already unstable son Samuel.

Pre-Book: Events happening you guessed it before the book comes into the story.

Evidence (Scenes to watch closer) :Re-watch the scene at the beginning. Amelia is getting her son ready (Son is also clearly abit odd) and the kid gives her a nice hug, right away she snaps at him and actually shoves him away...Ok that's weird (more about that later)

If you need more proof that the mother is whacked even before the book watch the scene where she is at the sons school. Now as a Mother you just learned your son brought a dangerous weapon that could have fatally wounded another child, I would think the normally reaction would to be take the advice of the teachers. You notice she doesn't seem that bothered by this serious situation and merely suggests talking to him? What?! Further more she gets upset at the teacher and the principal who are just trying to do there job and protect the other children from a disturbed boy.

Orins of Babadook Book: At the party while the other kids are playing the grown up women are at the table talking and try to engage a clearly disturbed blank. One woman mentions she heard she use to be a writer. She replies that she use to write "CHILDREN'S BOOKS" as well as some published magazine articles. Now obviously "Mister Babadook" wasn't a book that was ever published. She made it as a way to deal with her loathing and grief (More about that later) She wrote the book, put it away and totally blacked out the memory of doing it, which is was she is genuinely surprised to see it. Also this would explain why no author name is on it, because it was never published. Home made by a sick woman.

Bugs!: The scene with the roaches really sums up my theory. A common delusion of the mentally is bugs in fact a classic sign of the DT's are seeing phantom critters. When the social workers come they don't see the hole in the wall where the roaches sprang from...Yeah because its not there expect for inside her head. Also note not a single other character sees them but her.

Glass in the Food: This is another really interesting scene. If were to believe there is no supernatural element in this film we must consider who put the glass in the soup. Obviously it had to be either the Mother or the son. Either might have done it to further the sick delirious fantasy of the Babadook being the source of all there troubles. I lend towards the Mother doing it to herself.

Ameila Hates Samuel/Samuel's Issues: Psychologist have proved that lack of bonding with a child at an early age results in serve social and emotional problems. This would explain his socially unacceptable out bursts (or speaking his mind as they point it)  All his actions are symptoms of this.Her lack of  bonding could stem from the Mother suffering for Postpartum depression. She secretly blamed him for her husbands death and never properly bonded with him. In fact deep down she as a lot of unchecked hate for him. Near the end she even says "I wished it was you that died instead of him" wow nice Mom...

Keeping it in the Family: The other thing really interesting about this film is that the whole family is totally whacked. Besides the Mother likes take a look at the other family members. Samuel is dangerous and violent. He actually breaks Ruby's nose after shoving her out of a tree house. The sister Claire is also a piece of work, she has anger issues and when she sees her Sister is mentally unstable doesn't step in and get her medically attention. Even when she reaches out to her via phone she gets totally shut down by Claire. Watch that scene again, she is very cold and unfeeling to her own flesh and blood that is crying out for help.Ruby is also a little spoiled brat.

Incest:There is some slightly implied incest between Mother and son. I pointed out the scene at the beginning where she shoves him for hugging her. But right before he hugs her he caress her cheek which is kinda weird for a child to do.  Its subtle and you only notice it in repeat viewings. Then there is the "bath" scene. The Mother picks Samuel up (dont worry everyone is fully clothed) puts him in a the bath tub. Then remarks how warm it is..Its non sexual in nature however is beyond creepy and intimate and something deeper is at play here. He also pops up during her masturbation session.

Putting it all together: With all the evidence lets put it all together. After the death of her husband on the way to the hospital to have Samuel, she secretly blames him and never bonds correctly with him. So when we see Samuel show affection to her she shoves him away. In order to help her coup she quits writing but makes "Mister Babadook" (also one might wonder if she tried to have it published and got drummed out of children writing because of it? ) and disturbed by her hatred blacks out her creating it and put it away. She uses the monster she penned to justify her feelings for her son, because its not her doing it, its the Babadook. Even her sister Claire says something to the effect that she hates him (Samuel) as well and she just doesn't want to admit it. Fitting together right? Samuel being mainly brought up by a mentally ill woman has affected him as well, one could almost make the case that he shows early signs of sociopaths behaviors. After she rips up the book, she brings it back in repairs it and adds the new bit about her killing the dog and finally her son and herself. As if its something already planned out in her mind. She places it at the doorstep and blacks out doing it. So she finds it and burns it. Also after its burnt it never shows up again...Hmmmm! Finally lack of sleep is sending an already mentally ill woman over the edge. At the end she is wielding a knife and cuts the phone lines.

Could it be safe to say Amelia is the Babadook?

The End: The end of the film might also be a factor in way certain fans did not like this film. Even I have to admit it goes gonzo. I have several theories on the ending.

The Mother actually killed the son:  As she is struggling to fall asleep she sees a news report of a six year old boy named Samuel being murdered in his home, his body being found in the basement. The very place she would strangle him later in the movie. (Hmmm weird right?) We the audience think this is just either in her head or a trick played on her by the "Babadook" But maybe this is actually foreshadowing what really happens? Its also predicted in the book (she created) Notice that towards the end of the film she has no wound from being stabbed in the gut, we see blood but not where she was stabbed.

The next scene its day time and everything seems fine. *Watch closely * Amelia is doing some gardening and we see one single black rose. A symbol of death, its also interesting that shes "planting" something in the ground. Also the boy mentions that his bruised throat is nearly all better. Could she imagined that part out of guilt?

The Last part of the film is a dream: Sleep plays a major factor in this film, more so the lack of. Another simpler theory is that the last half an hour is really just a dream and Amelia finally is getting the rest she badly needs.I find it hard to believe she is stabbed in the gut and is totally fine. Lets not forget feeding a monster worms and Samuel making a bird appear? Really? We are obviously not in reality land. It doesn't fit with the rest of the movie which seems for the most part grounded.

The Father is actually chained in the basement: I admit this is abit far fetched but here it is anyways. Amelias husbands belongings are always kept locked away, we assume this is naturally because she wants to keep them as something of a museum piece. But lets say he's actually locked up downstairs. We even see his clothes hung up on the wall downstairs (again we also can assume the child did this as part of his game.) At one point Samuel says "You wont LET me have a father" which seems rather odd even for him. But your saying to yourself  he died, but maybe people just thought he did? Now they feed him a steady diet of worms. Again the least plausible in the bunch but meh i`m throwing it in there anyways.

In closing: "The Babadook" challenges its audience to think outside the box, Much like the film "Bug" its not a horror film as it is a human study of two very disturbed co-dependent people feeding off each others sickness. When viewed in this way the film actually makes a lot more sense. Its the unclear answers that really make this a brilliant film and I really hope a remake or a sequel doesn't come along as it will try to explain it all for the sake of lazy film goers wanting everything neatly wrapped up in a with a nice bow.

I know this was a long one so I thank you guys for reading it til the end.

As always this is just a theory and for entertainment purposes.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Sticky Boxes: Judgement Day

Sticky boxes

by Jules Brudek

A column about VHS cult and horror gems not yet available on DVD or Blu-ray

I named the column “Sticky Boxes” because that’s what I touched everyday working at a video store in the nineties.  Sweaty handed customers returned their rental tapes encased in gooey grime.  Everyday, I would check them back in, wipe them off and re-stock.  Humorous note:  The bigger the babe’s boobs were on the cover art, the stickier the VHS box was upon return.

Each week, I will review a forgotten cult or horror video never released on DVD or Blu-ray.

Tonight’s Sticky Box:
Judgment Day (1988)
AKA The Third Hand
Starring Monte Markham
                                         Available on VHS from Magnum Entertainment
Never officially released on DVD or Blu-ray

"By midnight tonight, every door, every window will be locked. Not a person will remain. This town will be empty. “

American backpackers on vacation in Mexico, Charlie and Pete, exit a broken down tour bus bound for a big city.  Too far to walk to the next town and too long to wait for the next tour bus, they begin walking.  A mysterious lady behind a veil points the way to Santana, a quaint village up the hill.  Moments later, Charlie and Pete arrive in Santana and enthuse about their luck.  They’ve found paradise.

Moments later, a American bar keep, Sam, played by Monte Markham, warns Charlie and Pete to get out of town, post haste.  He persists.  They must leave before midnight because the whole town will be locked down and empty.  Then, a little girl in Sam’s care goes missing.  It sends him into a tailspin as he uses the remaining hours of daylight to find her.

While helping Sam search for the girl, Charlie and Pete learn that in 1689, the Devil made a pact with the villagers of Santana.  He agreed to remove a plague from the village in exchange for the use of their town.  One night a year, on ‘Judgment Day,’ the Devil uses Santana for his earthly pleasures.

Turns out, Judgment Day never reaches its potential and sags after the tension of the first Act.  Now, I use the word “potential” only because the director, Ferde Grofe Jr., set up quite a promising horror film, one that boasted the most grotesquely enjoyable VHS cover art.  On the box, Satan realistically captured and sinfully colorful looks as horrifying as the Devil, portrayed by Tim Curry, in Legend (1985).  As a child, I nearly peed myself admiring Satan wickedly smirking at me from the VHS box.

With a premise one half American Werewolf in London (1981) and one half Brotherhood of Satan (1971), how could it fail?  It doesn’t.  However, it never reaches the epic proportions the box art and the premise promised.  After the half waypoint, I was left to wonder, where the heck is Satan?  He doesn’t show his beastly face until the third Act. By then, I was bored by the weaknesses in the script.  The twist at the end, although interesting, confounds me.  With a great beginning and a great ending, how could you let the middle flounder?  Truly Sinful!

More like a Made for TV movie or a PSA than a horror flick about the perils of messing with Satan, Judgment Day never caught on in the Home Video markets and soon slipped into obscurity.  This film does have some redeeming aspects.  I truly enjoyed the performances, most notably by Monte Markham (Airport 77 and William Castle’s Project X), Caesar Romeo (Played the original Joker in Batman) and Peter Mark Richman (Played Charles McCulloch in Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan).  Worth watching for the performances by these legendary character actors alone, the film also showcases some pretty unique set design owed mostly to shooting on location in the Philippines.  Also, I enjoyed the twist at the end, involving the village church further illustrating the theme of religious hypocrisy.  Never truly scary or bloody, I shake my head wondering what could have been.  I can only hope for a terrifying remake. 

I give this movie and its VHS presentation: Three sticky gloops out of five.

More about the writer: Born in Detroit, Michigan, Jules Brudek has been collecting issues of Mad Magazine and  Fangoria since she was nine years old, even long after her worried mother drove her to city dump and made her throw them away.  She graduated from Columbia College Chicago in 2006 with a BA in Film.  She has won awards for her screenplays, most recently, placing in the Quarter Semi Finals in the 2015 Script Pipeline.  Life highlight: Attending a discussion about the obscure horror film, Raw Meat AKA Death Line (1973), and meeting the director, Gary Sherman. She lives in Los Angeles.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Review: Lost Souls: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley's Island of Dr.Moreau

Film: Lost Souls: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley's Island of Dr.Moreau
Director: David Gregory

A few years back I was luck enough to reach out to Mr.Stanley and interview him. He was extremely nice and I had asked him about Island of Dr.Moreau. I wished at the time that the whole story could be told- Enter the brilliant David Gregory who not only owns "Severin" but is a wiz at film making and documentary work.  He and Richard both did the wonderful "The Theater Bizarre"

 I love the new trend of documentaries on doomed projects starting with Jodoroswki's Dune and the up coming Burton/Superman film. For film fans its bitter sweet, a great movie that will never come to be yet its still a fascinating.

Lost Souls: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley's Island of Dr.Moreau tells the story Stanley's attempt to bring a favorite book by H.G Wells and turn it into a movie befitting it. However with big stars attached it quickly becomes a big budget film and soon the project slips out of his hands. Through various interviews we experience the twists and turns and downward spiral of the doomed project.

David Gregory is a pro with this type of film having done many full documentaries as well as mini ones for his company Severin. The detail and love that has been poured into telling this story goes far beyond simply filming interviews. The material that was gathered really makes this a stand out effort. Amazing concept art and story boards give us a glimpse of what his vision of Moreau would have been had it been made.Also rare pictures and behind the scenes footage helps give a fuller picture. It also becomes a sort of David verus Goliath tale, David being Richard a smart indie visionary and Goliath being the big studio New Line holding all the cards. However Gregory also doesn't play favorites and gives different view points and allows the audience to draw there own opinion. You can easily fall into that trap but Lost Souls remains fair and balanced and doesn't make villains out of Rob Shaye or the other powers at work.

The interviews themselves are entertaining and engrossing and as one of my Facebook friends put it, The only complaint is the movie wasn't long enough because I could hear those stories all day. And in a documentary that is the kinda complaint you want to have.

By the end you start rooting for Richard even though you know how the outcome will be. Being a big fan of Richard Stanley and of films in general its a real treat.Lost Souls is simply sublime and as I described to a friend pure film geek goodness. Pick this up at once and let yourself get lost on the Island.

-Gorehound Mike Vaughn

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Kill The Girl: A List of 10 Horror Films That Made Me A Woman By: Jules Brudek

Kill the Girl
A list of 10 horror films that made me a woman
By Jules Brudek

Warning: Spoilers up ahead.

Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
The idea that you could be raped by the devil after ingesting homemade chocolate mouse terrified me.  No one puts the devil’s seed in me without my permission.  And no one puts anything into my deserts without asking me first.  And What?  Her husband, Guy Woodhouse, a shifty-eyed narcissist, played by John Cassavetes, didn’t even flinch when Beelzebub left so many scratches.  This film came to typify a woman’s trapped existence as a homemaker.  Rosemary, “Barefoot and pregnant” and literally at the mercy of all the men in her life, had to accept her plight, presented in a chilling ending that spoke volumes about a woman’s place in society.  Shut up and do what you were made to do and everything will be fine – be a baby maker!

The Pyx (1973)
Prostitutes are usually the first to be picked off by serial killers and madmen alike, but what if the devil was a pimp?  The Pyx is a Canadian horror film about religion and sexual revolution.  Unlike Rosemary’s Baby, Elizabeth Lucy, played by Karen Black in an unforgettable role as a strung out upscale-ish prostitute, isn’t anyone’s wife.  Sexually free and able to live the way she wants, the devil still clips at her heels.  The film’s underlying message:  Women, like Elizabeth, still have many demons of their own to fight.  Even in a life of her own making, Elizabeth struggles with the illusory nature of life as a free woman.  Scary stuff indeed.

The Stepford Wives (1975)
Before they were films, both Rosemary’s Baby and The Stepford Wives, were novels written by Ira Levin.  Leave it to a man to fully capture the frightful female experience. Finally, my fears were understood.  While The Pyx was released the same year as the landmark Roe v Wade decision in the United States granting women the constitutional right to choose to have an abortion or carry their pregnancies to term, The Stepford Wives arrived in theaters as droves of women joined the work force and enjoyed more than just sexual freedom.  Viewed as a direct retaliation to those revolutionary changes, The Stepford Wives placed women back at the homestead. Joanna, played by Katherine Ross, leaves her charmed city life as a photographer and moves with her husband and children to a repressive 50s style suburb where all the women behave eerily submissive.  The last shot of Joanna’s eyes haunts me to this day. 

Halloween (1978)
I watch this film at least three times a year.  Laurie Strode, a wonderfully cast Jamie Lee Curtis in her feature film debut, aspires to be understood by her friends, however, that which makes her different, saves her life.  The proverbial good girl, she baby-sits on Halloween while her friends party.  As a babysitter myself in high school, making jackolanterns in some kid’s kitchen, I can relate to the people pleasing weekend job.  Laurie is a no nonsense lady waiting to break out her babysitter paychecks and dance the night away with Ben Tramer.  Ultimately, she needed a little more time to find herself.  Unfortunately, Michael came home and changed her life forever.  Instantly, she had to abandon her girlhood insecurities and save the children and herself from imminent death.  Because Laurie Strode was the exception and not the every woman, she was able to face The Shape and survive.

I Spit on Your Grave (1978)
When Jennifer leaves New York behind and goes on vacation to Connecticut to write a novel, local thugs begin to pester her.  The stalking escalates until, in a humiliating scene, they burn her manuscript and finally, sodomize her brutally.  The ultimate in revenge movies, I Spit on Your Grave doesn’t offer a gentle resolution as Jennifer pursues her assailants and gives them back the abuse she endured.  She doesn’t stop with torture though and eventually savagely kills them.  People, including feminists and movie critics hated this film, I, on the other hand, embraced its approach.  By the time I had gotten around to watching this film, I was very tired of watching women victimized in horror movies.  I was ready for a change and I Spit on Your Grave was a revelation.  If you’ve ever wanted revenge for unfair treatment then you might understand this film and revel in its extremism.

Alien (1979)
Aboard the spaceship, Nostromo, under the operating computer system, aptly named MOTHER, a warrant officer, Ripley, played by Sigourney Weaver, becomes the only human to destroy the alien species that killed every member of her crew.  As the sole survivor of Nostromo, (if you don’t count the cat, Jones) she saves the human race and then, heads back to Earth all in a day’s work.  Basically, this film is Halloween in space with a tougher, more mature Laurie Strode that doesn’t need the help of Dr. Loomis. Alien’s treatment of Ripley as an action hero defies all stereotypes and (like Linda Hamilton in T2) still seems ahead of its time. Badass.

Fear (1990)
Cayce Bridges, played by Ally Sheedy, is a psychic that uses her abilities to help the police department locate missing persons, usually the victims of heinous crimes.  One day, she finds a missing girl by following her killer by tapping into his thoughts.  In a wicked twist, the killer has the same gift and begins to control Cayce’s mind by tormenting her with disturbing images of his staggering crimes.  Think: Silence of the Lambs with a psychic instead of Clarice Starling or Eyes of Laura Mars, updated.
The early 90s seemed to explode with experimental sound design and Fear was no exception.  The strength of this film lies in the sound, a mixture of haunting whispers and shrill zingers, all used as arresting cues before each violent act that flashes through Cayce Bridges’s mind.  In the end, Cayce keeps her head in the game, never letting the killer take over her thoughts.  The film can be seen as metaphor for women in high positions. Eleven years after Alien, women are taking over corporations, becoming leaders and learning to take it like a man.  Whatever you do: don’t cry under pressure.

When a Stranger Calls Back (1993)
This sequel to When a Stranger Calls is far better than its predecessor. When a Stranger Calls Back is a Showtime made for TV movie about a babysitter, Julia Jenz, played by Jill Schoelen, terrorized by a man outside the home she’s working in.  The quote, “The call is coming from inside the house,” originated with the first film, When a Stranger calls, and re-invents itself nicely in this film.  For a horror junkie like me When a Stranger Calls Back has everything: A vintage ventriloquist doll, a haggard cop, an unrelenting killer that won’t die, a creepy hospital stay, abducted children and Carol Kane, reprising her role as Jill Johnson from the original film.  Two tough survivor ladies with survivor stories, Jill and Julia, tag team to save the day and overpower the twisted serial killer.  Two ladies!  Also, this film has the most unique twist involving how the killer hides in the house. Downright chilling!

The House of the Devil (2009)
In horror films, women are either babysitters or prostitutes, get used to it.  The House of the Devil is a marriage of two films on the list, Rosemary’s baby and Halloween.  Sounds played out, sure, but the film’s mastery lies in its simplicity.  In the end, what works best about the film is the character development. All the actors in The House of the Devil turn in near perfect performances.  The film’s pace has always been a bone of contention with horror fans and reviewers, but I think the pace adds to the film’s mystery. With a bit part as the landlady, Dee Wallace is sure to make horror fans smile.  And in the end, the film’s message is clear: Times were simpler, once upon a time, when women were just vesicles for the devil’s brood. Ironic, the list has come full circle; Women having babies for Satan.

The Woman (2011)

I’ll end with the film that haunts grown up Jules. The synopsis is over simplistic for a film whose major themes have bludgeoned my brain open and destroyed my obstinacy regarding horror films, making it possible for me to appreciate new levels of fear. I will leave this one up to you to watch ASAP. I will not divulge the plot. Upon seeing this twisted little secret of a film, I felt my understanding for my womanhood reach new depths. After all, a captive animal treated poorly, will become what you made it.

More about the writer: Born in Detroit, Michigan, Jules Brudek has been collecting issues of Mad Magazine and  Fangoria since she was nine years old, even long after her worried mother drove her to city dump and made her throw them away.  She graduated from Columbia College Chicago in 2006 with a BA in Film.  She has won awards for her screenplays, most recently, placing in the Quarter Semi Finals in the 2015 Script Pipeline.  Life highlight: Attending a discussion about the obscure horror film, Raw Meat AKA Death Line (1973), and meeting the director, Gary Sherman. She lives in Los Angeles.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Vincents Vile Video Vault: Creep 2014 By Vincent Daemon

No One Escapes the CREEP
Released: 2014
Starring: Patrick Brice, Mark Duplass
Writers: Patrick Brice, Mark Duplass
Director: Patrick Brice
Review by: Vincent Daemon

*Note: Currently, dear readers, VINCENT’S VILE VIDEO VAULT (and everything else) has been in the process of a move, so I do apologize for the appalling lack of recent reviews on my part. Once I’m fully moved-in and settled, over the next two weeks or so, expect to see a lot more here in the VAULT. I do thank you for your patience - - - now, onto the review, shall we?

It was after a long day of packing and running around, last week sometime, when I found myself with a couple of extra hours to burn under my belt. So I popped on the Netflix and started to search around, noticing they had added some new materials to their (often disappointing) streaming catalog. I was looking for something odd, a little different, and boy did I find it. One of the first films I saw under their “Recently Added Recommendations For Vincent” was something called CREEP (and not the entertainingly bizarre splatter film of the same name from 2004, starring the [then] stunningly attractive Franka Potente, as a self-absorbed socialite sporting platinum blonde hair, a bitchy attitude, gore stains, and plenty of general below-the-London-tubes-sewer-filth while being chased by the deformed, mad, and diseased “Craig” - - - a film I think I actually reviewed here at Gorehound Mike’s a couple of years back, and do recommend as well).

So upon noticing this film I got what I call “the Vibe”: I’d found what I was looking for. I’d never heard of it, and read Netflix’s typical, shatteringly inaccurate two sentence overview, and glanced at a couple of the company’s viewer reviews, mostly all one star reviews (and a boatload of dunderheads saying nothing more than “I didn’t get it” or “Iiiit stinks!” as though they were Jay Sherman - - - someone somewhere should get that, ‘specially round this neck o'the woods) - - - essentially a series of poorly grammared, rampant ADD-ism complaints. Apparently if a horror film isn’t packed wall to wall with shitty CGI gore, zombies, or explosions, not very many seem to the attention spans for something like this.

Something deep down told me I’d found my film. Also, I might add, it is a first-person p.o.v. film (ie: shaky cam/mockumentary), a genre that, as I’ve mentioned before, I really enjoy, when done right (screw you “Paranormal Activity” franchise, and even “Blair Witch Project,” for the record). I mention this now as a Caveat, of corpse, as I know there are a great number of people who do not like the genre - - - but to pass this film up you’d only be cheating yourself.

CREEP is the not-so-simple tale of a man in his mid 30’s or so, a hipster type named Aaron, direly in need of money, who answers a Craigslist ad (I do wonder if that was an odd homage or recognition of the 2004 cheeseball, yet still moderately unnerving gorefest I mentioned above, or just a fitting coincidence) to videograph a day in the life of Josef (performed in a seriously creepy, convincing manner by Mark Duplass), an individual Aaron knows nothing about, but to whom Josef has offered $1,000 for this seemingly simple job - - - a mere eight hours of his time.

As Aaron drives his piss-yellow VW Bug (similar to Ted Bundy’s, interestingly enough) to what seems the farthest reaches of the middle of nowhere, the deep woods, he films the the trip, himself babbling nonsense into his camera, hoping that it’s really a lonely hot broad in her mid 40’s, who wants to do nothing but give him money and body rubs while whispering sweet nothings in his ear. Upon reaching the mansion-esque cabin, he makes his way to the door, knocks, rings the bell, waits, calls Josef only to receive not even a voicemail. So he begins filming around the yard, from this high-hill deck porch view, and sees nothing but a very large axe buried deep in a tree stump. Unnerved, Aaron goes back to his car, figuring he’ll be more comfortable waiting there, but is expecting a no-show when BANG! Josef appears out of nowhere, slamming the car window and bellowing “Hey Buddy!” essentially scaring the everliving fuck out of Aaron. Apparently Josef was jogging and lost track of time. That’s his claim, anyway.

Their initial meeting is awkward, as Josef is a weirdly skittery “hugger,” demanding an instant hug, claiming it’ll be normal by the end of the day. So back up the hill they climb and into Josef’s cabin. Insisting they not waste a second of time, they start recording immediately. Josef quite casually explains how he was a severe-cancer survivor, after a long bout of chemo treatments. He then goes on to explain that after some time, he started to have dizzy spells and some “cognitive misfires,” which he giggles about. But then explains that he and his wife of six years, Angela, are expecting a child. However, Josef’s dizzy spells, he goes on to explain, are the return of the cancer, only this time in the brain. A tumor the size of a softball, he says, was recently found deep in his head, inoperable, and he’s only got 2-3 months to live. So this day is about making a video diary for his child (which he calls Buddy, and refers to as an “it”), Josef saying he got the idea from what he considers the greatest film ever made: “My Life,” wherein Michael Keaton plays a man who comes down with terminal cancer just as his wife becomes pregnant with their first child. Josef wants to do the same for his, since he is fairly certain he’ll be dead by the time his son is born. Now he’s won over Aaron almost completely.

Then Josef says he needs to grab a bath before they go for a hike. He then implores Aaron to come with him and film that as well. Aaron is obviously not entirely comfortable with the idea, but agrees to do so. From this point on, the film grows into an evermore uncomfortable rollercoaster ride into psychopathy and madness. Aaron has indeed taken a strange bait, and is one who has trouble saying “no,” regardless of what his gut tells him.

As Josef disrobes his strange spandex joggers suit (replete with a zip-up ass crack pocket) right before the camera quite shamelessly, he explains how he is going to re-enact something called “Tubby Time,” a “special bathtime” between he and his father from when he was a child. Mark Duplass hits heights of creepiness and sends tendrils of awkward right through the screen as he plays out this bizarrely arranged scene of infantilism. First he picks up an imaginary “Buddy,” and proceeds to play with the invisible baby. Odd allusions to much worse things hiding behind the rapidly cracking fissures in Josef’s Mask of Sanity begin sluicing out. Things like cannibalism, infant waterboarding (once he takes up the washrag as “Buddy”), and a sickly fascination with fire (the tub is surrounded with candles, and Josef makes a particularly eerie observation about fire to the “Buddy” rag). “Tubby Time” sounds awful, and the way it’s shot, performed, and even directed ( I do masses of improv here, and throughout the entire film in fact, done both randomly and successfully, something difficult to pull off), it will bother you.

Almost immediately after the hellish discomfort of “Tubby Time” (it really is that horrible), and a series of deliberate and effective “jump scares” (“Oh I’m sorry, I’m sorry, that’s just something I do” Josef incessantly, laughingly reminds Aaron, somehow making each one that much worse, the filmmakers obviously having a lot of surreal fun with the classically over and often ill used horror trope in the process - - - in fact using it not without an actual point, but I won’t give that away). I’ve actually watched this 3 times in the past week, shown it to two other friends who both loved it, one of which watched it their second time while I watched it my third. But I digress.

Before Josef takes Aaron for a “mystical” hike, he suggests that Aaron grab something warm from the closet, “as it get chilly up there.” Enter now Peachfuzz, introduced during another successful round of Josef’s back to back successions of random awkwardness and jump scares. What is Peachfuzz? Peachfuzz is an horrific werewolf mask, which Josef proceeds to don, and upon doing belts into a truly monstrous song about eating children. It’s yet another routine that Josef’s father used to subject this poor bastard to as a child. And once you hear the tune, it will never leave the echoey catacombs of your own psyche. It’s a truly disturbing little performance and jingle. Much like the film as a whole.

From this point on the film only increases in its slow burning tension as the humor slowly fades out into a genuinely nasty situation. In fact it crosswires slowly the downpay of the initial humor and quirkiness, into a viscous (yes, I wrote viscous, not vicious, though make no mistake, by the film’s end it manages to achieve an unease within the viewer that few films manage to achieve on this particular level), disorienting scenario of absolute, stark terror.

CREEP is a film that requires one’s full attention. Every detail needs to be noticed, every line of dialogue paid attention to quite carefully. I’ve checked some other reviews (after I initially watched the film) that did nothing but lambaste the flick for “being too slow.” It’s meant to be, that is deliberate. Aaron wants out of Josef’s world more than anything else, but keeps taking that strange bait. By the time the real ugliness begins to start it’s much later than the initial eight hour day Aaron was paid for. And he doesn’t want any more money, or the drink eventually forced upon him (even though Aaron does make every bad decision in the book, seemingly of his own free will, he’s actually caught in the derangement of Josef’s paradoxical double-speak, repeatedly wearing down this kind-hearted hipster doofus). Aaron thinks his quick appeasement to Josef’s whims for a final drink while the full moon is out will expediate the process of getting the hell out of there - - - but he is wrong - - - he just wants to go home. Once he realises that his car keys are suddenly AWOL, it occurs to him he is in a very, very bad situation.

The film even tricks you into believing it over on several different occasions. Once Aaron has managed escape from a horny, frightening, rampaging Peachfuzz, he can’t find safety or security, even in his own home. Grotesque nightmares plague him; DVD’s and other strange, cryptic packages arrive from Josef for Aaron, who even up until very close to the actual end of the film, being fully aware that Josef lied (and then some), pretty much about most likely everything, still manages to feel bad for the guy, and goes to meet him at an open park so Josef can have the closure he claims he needs. The lure of the psychopath.

This is Patrick Brice’s full length debut, and I think a hell of a strong one at that. With only the two actors, a very small smattering of locations, no musical accompaniment, and no sfx even really to speak of, Patrick Brice has managed to create something truly unique. I see a lot of promise in this feature, and hope Brice continues to deliver. As writers, it seems they did their homework on true psychopathy, as well as various other disorders, to create what is essentially a werewolf movie unlike any you’ve ever seen before. Psychologically, this treads in some deep, dark waters. And I’ve still barely told you anything about the film. CREEP comes with my highest recommendations. Catch it on Netflix, get it from a Red Box, or however you get your horror fix. No matter how you choose to do so, see this movie.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Top Ten: Weirdest Movies You Need to See!

What I love about the Horror and cult genre is how vast and ever expanding it is. You can watch new movies your whole life and still have things to discover and enjoy. The whole reason I started this blog was to have a fun time informing people and hopefully turning them on to something that may become a favorite. Because lets face it, we as fans may know a lot about films but their is always something new out there. Which leads me to this months Top Ten.

Top Ten: Weirdest Movies You Need to See!
(When I can i`ll let you know of any releases so you to can seek them out. )

10: Body Melt: Like melting people? Well you`ll dig this bat shit crazy film made brought to you by the good folks in Australia.

Plot: A man crashes his car into a peaceful suburbs, but instead of being just a severely injured guy he melts faster than Frosty in the hot sun. Its learned that this poor fellow was a victim of a terrible drug.

 Has the kind of wild edgy cinema feel that you get watching Frankenhooker,Dead-Alive (Brain-Dead) and Street Trash. Fun, weird and gooey. A must for fans of the truly bizarre.

Currently a nice DVD release from Scorpion. Hopefully a blu will follow.

9: Meet the Feebles: Years before the hit Tony winning play "Avenue Q" featured foul mouthed puppets behaving badly Peter Jackson (yes Lord of the Rings Jackson) did it first.

Plot: The Feebles variety act couldn't be hotter but behind the scenes there is sex,drugs bondage and poop eating (from a fly) A young actor Robert joins the cast soon learns that show biz is not what he thought it would be.

Biting show business satire using puppets makes for a weird and gut busting film. I`ve heard this is Peter Jacksons least favorite film from his early days which is a shame because this is pure genius. A cult classic and your next favorite film.

Currently no in print releases: HOWEVER there is a rumor Jackson is putting out a box set of his older films and hopefully this will be included. I also believe you can still view the whole film on Youtube.

8:Jubilee: Post apocalyptic punk film starring Little Neil (Rocky Horror) and Adam Ant.

Plot: Queen Elizabeth I asks to be shown what England will look like in 400 years. What she sees is a Sex Pistols era England.

Surreal wild and because its on this list WEIRD as hell. Its also a smart send up of the punk scene and disenchanted youth.

Currently a DVD from Criterion Collection however if your patient i`m sure they will re-release it on blu.

7: Mulholland Dr. You had to know David Lynch would show up on this list. Its not secret Sunset Blvd is one of his favorite films and this is his take on it, filtered through his unique vision that is.

Plot: Two young ladies are caught up in a twisted mystery. Surreal, erotic and nasty.

Whats to say about Mullholland Dr, its a brilliant film that only a master Lynch could pull off.The film oozes with sex blood and a creepy elderly couple you soon wont forget. A must to watch late at night alone. I`ve talked to people that refuse to watch this alone and some refuse to re-watch it at all.

Currently a DVD from Universal AND October of this year will see a blu release from Criterion Collection.

6:Mystics in Bali: A flying disembodied head and a lot of cackling is just some of the strange oddities in store for in from this Bollywood epic.

Plot:A young American woman gets more than she bargains for when she searches for the truth behind secret black magic.

What else can you say,Its bad but a lot of fun and it will make you rub your eyes in disbelief. The effects are charmingly primitive and the narrative is strange and surreal. But we wouldn't have it any other way.

Currently a DVD release from Mondo Macabre. No blu release yet.

5: Visitor Q: Think your family is weird? That's nothing compared to the family in Visitor Q.

Plot: A strange reality show follows a dysfunctional family and the chilling events in there everyday life.

Incest, murder and necrophilia are just some of  Takeshi Miike's (Audition,Masters of Horror) brilliant cinematic crazy fest. Unflinching raw and disturbing this film doesn't let up until the final frame. Strong stuff so beware.

4: Nekromantic: Now were getting to the real dirty gritty and plain fucked up. Brought to you by the good people in German comes Nekromantic: The loving dead!

Plot: As you might have guessed this film is about a couple that share a hobby. Collecting coins? No. Knitting? No.. Having sex with dead decomposing bodies- Yes.

Done in documentary style this film separates the boys from the men. Its down right sick and disturbing yet its hard not to look at it. Its a look at too deeply mental people. The final scene will shock even the most jaded of cinema lovers. You`ve been warned.

Currently a Blu release from  Cult Epics as well as the sequel.

3:  The Holy Mountain: Hands down my favorite film-period. Its powerful with images that will be hard to forget. Even the most jaded of film lovers will have dropped jaws at this intense psychedelic hay ride. I`m not going to bore you with the plot because this film really needs to be freshly experienced. Rarely does a film change the way I look at cinema and this one did for me. Also "El Topo" is a must see.

2: Inland Empire: David Lynch's return to films since "Mullholland Dr"  and possibly his most disjointed and brain numbing plot (which is saying alot) Three hours of pure Lynch crazy complete with anthropomorphic rabbits who speak there own langue naturally. This film really separates the hardcore fans from the casual. Plot i`m not going to bother.

Currently No in Print copies, however a region free blu box set has this. Also a Region B blu is out. Rumor has it this will also be seeing a official US blu release from Criterion.

1:Eraserhead David Lynch of course takes the top spot with his cult film that is the stuff of legends.

Nobody does the weird, haunting and just down right disturbing like David Lynch. His films are pure nightmare logic and his cult feature debut showcases his raw talent. I`m not going to bother with the plot because this film works on a whole other level. If you haven't seen this film I demand you to do so at once. How the baby was made is still a closely guarded secret.

Currently a Dvd and a Blu release from Criterion Collection.

Honorable mention: With only ten It was difficult to choose. Here are a list of films that are equally deserving of checking out.

Spider Baby, Taxidermia, Bad Tate,Begotten,Lost Highway,Dust Devil,Naked Lunch, The Naked Kiss.Shock Corridor, Maps to the Stars,Hardware,Thundercrack,Schram

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Sticky Boxes: Manson (1973) Take a "Trip" in Manson's Magical Mystery Tour

by Jules Brudek

A column about VHS cult and horror gems not yet available on DVD or Blu-ray

I named the column “Sticky Boxes” because that’s what I touched day in and day out working at a video store in the Nineties. Sweaty handed customers brought back their rental VHS tapes encased in gooey grime. Everyday, I would check them back in, wipe them off and re-stock. Humorous note: the bigger the babe’s boobs were on the box the stickier the VHS box was upon return.

Each month, I will examine a hidden treasure from the deserted island world of VHS. Being that there are still so many horror and cult rarities that have not been released on DVD and Blu-ray it’s worth digging into my collection and reviewing some personal favorites.

Tonight’s Sticky Box:
1973 Documentary
Produced and directed by Robert and Laurence Merrick
Available on VHS:World Wide Video (Big Box), United Home Video (1984), and VEC (Canada)
Never officially released on DVD or Blu-ray
Film was banned in 1975 after Squeaky Fromme’s assassination attempt on Pres. Gerald Ford

*Note: Robert Merrick, the documentary’s director and producer, is selling the DVD-Rs of his films, Manson (1973) and his 30-year retrospective documentary, Inside the Manson Gang (2007), for $34.99 each plus shipping and handling on Ebay and Amazon.  Buyers beware; Manson (1973) looks like a low quality VHS rip so, it makes more sense to buy the original and rare VHS tape instead.  Another note, due to the ever-popular mystique of Charles Manson and his family, companies, like Beverly Wilshire, have been selling the unauthorized DVD for years, however, Manson (1973) has never been officially restored or released on DVD.

"These children that come at you with knives, they are your children. You taught them. I didn't teach them. I just tried to help them stand up.” – Charles Manson

I can’t seem to stop obsessing about the moment it all went wrong.  Since I was a pre-teen, I’ve dreamed about ingesting that one tab of dirty acid that must have sent a bunch of innocent California girls on a murderous rampage.  Straight out of a two minute Ramones’ song or a silly B-movie plot, the Manson Family was a goodie bag of low brow drive-in magic.  Take a maniacal, blood thirsty cult led by one lecherous sex-starved leader and place their patchouli soaked bodies to cook under the desert sun while writhing to The White Album consuming nothing but Marijuana, LSD, psilocybin and dumpster salad and you’re only half way there. The truth was more complicated, weirder, and decades later, still hard to understand.
Charles Manson and his family would come to embody many things about the 60s counterculture; the outrage over the sappy and innocent 50s, war paranoia, racial tensions and drug psychosis. In retrospect the death rattle to the excesses of the 60s would sound on Aug 9th 1969 in a gush of blood that poured out of a violently slain Sharon Tate, an actress in her prime and pregnant with her first child.  The blood wouldn’t stop flowing until it drenched all of Benedict Canyon, a posh Los Angeles neighborhood in the hills where Tate and her friends were found dead.  The blood would smear the years of safety that the glamorous and wealthy people of California bought to protect themselves.  And when the blood started to clot, it was picked by reporters lusting after a newsworthy story until it flowed freely again like thick hot lava, covering the United States.  Now, people could put a face to their biggest fear.  Enter Charlie Manson.

Manson (1973), the documentary directed by Robert and Laurence Merrick, exists because America’s obsession with Charles Manson took firm hold in the 70s.  This is the quintessential Manson movie and the basic primer if you are new to Manson and his family because, unlike any other film, it documents them before, during and after Charles Manson’s arrest.  In an ironic twist to the story, Charles Manson would first be arrested due to his suspected vandalism in Death Valley National Park and not for the grisly LaBianca/Tate murders for which he would later be associated.

Sensationalist and often stylistically groovy, this documentary has it all. Some reviewers have said the film suffers from an unfocused editing style and a non-linear narrative. They’ve missed the point completely.  The film puts you in the mood for the shocking nature of the real events as they unfolded, 60s style.  That means 60s editing with 60s fades; 60s music and 60s bewilderment i.e. stoner culture.  Intuitively, The whole film works because it mirrors the highs and lows of riding Charlie’s Magical Mystery Tour.

The directors spent months following the family and filming them in their element. A feat no other filmmaker, for obvious reasons, has been able to repeat.  In one scene, they got close enough to the family that you could almost touch their pale limbs as they bathed as a group in the lagoons of The Death Valley National Park.  Some footage takes you on location to Barker ranch where they lived at one point and Spahn ranch where they spent most of their time.  Other filmmakers have tried to re-create or revisit these famous locations but have never captured it like this. The landscape, the tone, and the strange eerie homemade music capture the spirit of wild times on the brink of nadir. Moreover, the rare interviews add a certain mystery and depth because this documentary has the only available footage of certain family members talking openly before their imprisonment or disappearance.

Learn what really happened inside 10050 Cielo Drive that fateful night.  Learn about the real killers, “Tex” Avery Watson, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Linda Kasabian.  In some of the most disturbing footage, the most infamous and loyal of all family members, Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, talks beef about Charlie’s enemies while loading and cocking a rifle.  Most shocking of all, Manson family members speak about their relationships with Charlie.  Honestly, the brainwashing is palpable because they reveal, in their own words, Charlie’s spooky magnetism and dominance.
Manson (1973) is one hell of a ride and one not soon forgotten.  I can’t help but think of all the books and movies that have taken a piece of this film and made a banquet. Every pop culture reference to Manson’s girls, heads shaved, walking the halls of the courthouse, can be traced back to this documentary.  It’s serendipitous how close the filmmakers got to the action before Manson was a national obsession. What an odd and fascinating chapter in the history of American pop culture.  Watch Manson (1973) before Lifetime releases its schlock, Manson’s Lost Girls, later this year.

I give this movie and its VHS presentation: four sticky gloops out of five.

****Below I’ve included more movies for future Mansonites to explore and enjoy!
 Go on and do the ‘Creepy Crawl!’

Movies depicting or documenting Manson and his family:
Helter Skelter (TV movie, 1976)
Helter Skelter (TV movie, 2004)
Live Freaky! Die Freaky! (Animation musical, 2006)
Manson Family Movies (1984)
The Six Degrees of Helter Skelter (Documentary, 2009)
Charles Manson Superstar (1989)
Manson, My Name is Evil AKA Leslie, My Name is Evil (2009)
The Other Side of Madness AKA The Helter Skelter Murders (1971)
Charles Manson Then and Now (Documentary, 1992)
Will You Kill for Me? (MSNBC TV Movie, 2008)
Charles Manson: The Man Who Killed the 60’s (TV Doc, 2015)
Manson (British TV Doc, 2009)
Manson: 40 Years Later (History Channel movie, 2009)
Manson Murders (History Channel movie, 2004)
Charles Manson (Unrated, TV Doc, 1987)

Movies based on Manson and his family (but really have nothing to do with them):
Love-Thrill Murders AKA Sweet Savior (1971)
Snuff (1976)
The Night God Screamed (1971)
The Cult AKA The Manson Massacre (1971)

My personal favorite Manson movies:
Manson Girl AKA Leslie, My Name is Evil AKA Manson, My Name is Evil (2010)
Cease to Exist (Documentary, 2007)
The Manson Family (Jim Van Bebber, 2003)
Manson (Documentary, 1973)

Looking forward to these Manson titles:
Manson Family Vacation (2015)
Haunting Charles Manson (2014)
Rainbow’s Edge (Documentary, 2011)
House of Manson (2014)
Manson’s Lost Girls (working title for Lifetime TV movie/miniseries)(TBA)

Can’t seem to find these Manson Titles:
Iconoclast (Documentary, 2010)
Old Man (Documentary, 2012)

More about the writer: Born in Detroit, Michigan, Jules Brudek has been collecting issues of Mad Magazine and  Fangoria since she was nine years old, even long after her worried mother drove her to city dump and made her throw them away.  She graduated from Columbia College Chicago in 2006 with a BA in Film.  She has won awards for her screenplays, most recently, placing in the Quarter Semi Finals in the 2015 Script Pipeline.  Life highlight: Attending a discussion about the obscure horror film, Raw Meat AKA Death Line (1973), and meeting the director, Gary Sherman. She lives in Los Angeles.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Indie Review: Scream Machine.

Title: Scream Machine

Director: Walter Ruether

Once and awhile I get film makers or promoters that want me to review there films on my blog. Some are bad and others like "Bunny Game" are brilliant. The horror film anthology is a time honored tradition with such gems like "Creepshow" "Dead of Night" etc. Scream Machine is a horror anthology but sadly is no where near as good as the above mentioned. I`ll break down the stories in segments. Since some segments are so short minor spoilers ahead... Nothing major though.

Sledgehammer: The first story centers around a young man with a "killer" throw called the sledgehammer. Two talent scouts are watching him throw and it just so happens the catcher is the one scouts little brother. However tragedy strikes when the catcher is fatally injured due to the sledgehammer.

Sledgehammer is short but it suffers from writing that is terribly predictable. When the ending happens your going to do a face palm. This one features the awesome David Hayes who sadly only has a voice over cameo. Hayes always has a presents and its a pity he couldn't be in it as an actor.But maybe that's a good thing. One common thread in this and the whole film is the lack of creativity. I mean the mask used is store bought-lame...Strike 1.

Cannibal Pen Pals

Set in 1993 this segment follows a man with a obsession with serial cannibal Jeffery Dahmer. This segment might be the one the strongest ones but still has its weak points. The characters are mad cap but tend go over board into drama class scene chewing mode. Case in point the guys wife. Also the film makers couldn't be bothered to check there facts. Dahmer died in 1994 not 93.. Its called the internet guys, use it. The gore is decent and the post death scene with the head is something like "Nekromantic"

April Fools Party
A gang of junkies are hanging around just being sleazy. For fun the group decide to play a April fools prank on there friend who deals and is strung out. He just happens to be paranoid and armed, what could go wrong? The plot is as laughable as the acting and the bad junkie makeup. I think the real prank is if anyone expects this to be good.

Septic Shock
Have you ever wanted to watch a guy in a septic tank and that's it? Well your in luck because that's what you get, well and a tacked on gross out ending. However this feature has one the most natural actors of the film that being the turtle that eats celery. Yep you heard me right. At this point in the film your brain seems to shut down and go into default mode but I soldiered on for the last story.

The Deadly Indie Drive In
Two lovers watch a film in a drive in. The movie they watch is of some guy cleaning up his home, which is of course something we all would pay to see. But as the sleazy guy gets his ample date a treat she starts to hear voices coming from the radio.

 Like the rest of the film nothing in this segment makes sense or has any hint of clever writing. The  attempt at humor fails and again the acting is drama school level.

Overall: When I was sent the film I was told its a cheesy fun film and I get the vibe they were trying for but the problem is Scream Machine is neither funny, or creative and has never heard of the term less is more. I`m not saying over the top is a bad thing, when handled correctly it can be great however this is not the case. Cannibal Pen Pals had a nice balance of over the top, however the hammy acting ruins it. Septic Shock was heading into a area of psychological horror but never gets there. The effects are not great but as its a low budget film I think they did a decent job. The kill first death in Sledgehammer is rather nicely done.

Not even so bad its good, Scream Machine needs a serious over haul.