Coffy, Giallo and Gluttony

I've been super lazy since Christmas. I always over extend myself during the Holidays. Between parties, huge banquets I assign myself to prepare, working retail, not to mention my crafty endeavors, by the time everything is said and done my ass is busted. I had some time off of work but I'm completely broke for the next week or so, that really leaves nothing else to do but watch movies! I spent the day after Christmas having my much needed Holiday Horror marathon. Originally I was going to spend yesterday watching some of my gift-movies, but at the last minute I decided to save them for the new year so they can make it to my 2013 list. It's not as if I have any shortage of dvds, bootlegs, videos and downloads to raid. So I tackled a few dust collectors from the vault, which makes way more sense considering I've had them way longer.

First, I decided to watch Jack Hill's "Coffy". I caught up on a lot of Jack Hill this year, mostly his Filipino Women in Prison films, but again with Pam Grier. Seemed like a good Hill film to round off the year. The thing that makes these movies so great is getting to stare at Pam Grier who is a pillar of strength and a most bodacious babe. Seeing her blow the heads off drug peddlers with a shot gun is illuminating. She plays a nurse whose 11 year old sister has been hooked on heroin. Fed up with all the pushing going on in her town, she seeks out revenge by picking the gangsters off one by one. A lot of similarities to Foxy Brown. I'm not sure why, but I liked Coffy a little better. Just a personal preference. Maybe just because it's fresher on my mind, maybe it was the Roy Ayers score, or maybe the super saccharine psychedelic furniture, clothes and wallpaper (although as I recall, there was plenty of that in Foxy Brown too), but it was all good. Oh, also. Linda Haynes. I love her. She's so very lovely, appeared in a handful of exceptional cult movies in the 60's/70's (Rolling Thunder, Latitude Zero and my favorite, the Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones) and has just has great cadence and screen presence. She worked well opposite Pam Grier which is no easy feat. Grier is a whole lotta' woman.

Next up I watched what was truly one of the most revolting movies I've ever seen. Those are some pretty big shoes to fill. I've watched some grossies but having finally gotten around to the 1975 film "Criminally Insane" aka "Crazy Fat Ethel", I'm really reaching to think of something more disgusting at the moment. Ethel is an obese woman who lives with her Grandma and is undergoing shock treatment for her fits of rage. What causes these rages? Anything or anyone who comes in between her and her food. Food is a powerful tool in a film. Certain films revolving around food make me happy and hungry (Tampopo coming to mind). Food is kind of universal in the language of film and for that reason I love to see it used at a plot point. As comforting as it can be, it can also be extremely unappealing.

Once gluttony, fetishism and digestion is involved, this thing that gives us nourishment has been corrupted. I was less affected by the violence in Criminally Insane as Ethel's insatiable appetite. The fact that the two were related gave it a bigger impact. We constantly see Ethel cooking and eating huge amounts of food. Never having enough, KILLING people that interfere with her constant consumption. It's a really ugly subject, and considering I chose to watch it while I and had just sat down (not really knowing what it was about) with big plate of Christmas leftovers, it effected me even more so. I couldn't eat my food and in fact, I didn't eat again for the rest of the day. I've always prided myself in having an iron gut in regards to grotesqueries. You develop a tolerance when pizza and graphic horror movies are a reoccurring factor in your life. THIS MOVIE, set me off my food in a way few have. Some may consider it cheesy, but I thought it was genius. Elements of a John Waters movie directed by H.G. Lewis or Andy Milligan. I recently found out that it was remade this past year. I can't help but wonder what a modernized Crazy Fat Ethel would be like. The dvd also came with a sequel made in 1987, which I anticipate watching...on an empty stomach.

After this I tried to watch Lucio Fulci's Murder Rock from 1984, but I downloaded it and the copy was in Italian with no english subs. Which is weird, because this is like the third time I've tried to watch it and something has happened. The first time, I rented it from netflix and the disc was scratched, the second time I was at a friend's house and I got called into work within the first 20 minutes and now this. It's like I'm not meant to see this movie that I strongly suspect I will love. Dammit.

This poster is out of sight! 

Moving on, I decided to stick with the Italian theme and go the Giallo route, although I didn't realize it at the time, the film I picked was actually French, derp. 2009's "Amer", a French tribute to giallo. I was a little daunted by this one. Someone, I can't even remember who, told me that it sucked. That comment mind-ninja'd me out of making the leap for a while. With Murder Rock being a busta-rooni, it just seemed like the next best thing. And it was! Very minimal dialogue so the story is more of a collage of visuals. There are maybe ten lines in the whole movie. The film is mostly about psychosis, but you don't really know that at first...so that's a spoiler, sorry. It unfolds in three acts, all revolving around a pretty girl in three stages of her life. The first, her as a little girl living in what seems to be a haunted house. The second part, her as a teenager going to town with her mother. There are a lot of hormonal sexual overtones in this entire sequence (the whole film really, but it really comes out in this scene). Then, her as an adult going back to the house she grew up in, the "haunted" house. The film takes some unexpected twists and turns all the while using beautiful lighting and cinematography which has been greatly influenced by giallo films. The music is spectacular as well. Stelvio Cipriani, Ennio Morricone, Bruno Nicolai and they even threw in a pop song by Adriano Celantano. Nicely done. The ambiance is bewitching. Reminiscent of Suspiria and the work of Carmelo Bene. Tinges of Svankmajer's Alice in the that first sequence as well. It's worth a look if you're a fan of anything I've mentioned. Throw Backs are difficult to master. Take Argento's own film "Giallo" for instance. What a mess. This film on the other hand is a nice addition to your giallo collection and the best revivals of the genre I've yet to experience. I recommend it.

Despite my ambivalence toward the film, I dig the poster. I kind of want it.

Lastly in this quadruple feature, I decided to go back to Fulci and watch another I had on hand. Sodoma's Ghost. Yeeesh. I'd heard bad things but, I'd heard bad things about Amer too. I hear bad things about a lot of movies, especially ones I end up loving. So I watched it anyway. Ehh, not so good. It's about this group of teens who get lost and end up at house haunted by Nazi ghosts. It sounds cool and all, but there's a whole lot of nothin' going on. There's some extended footage of Nazi's partying (which Fulci re-used in Cat in the Brain), confused teens, and one good scene involving Russian Roulette and monster tits.


It was watchable, barely, but very watered down for Fulci. I can say without hesitation it's my least favorite of his. The end of the movie felt very Scooby-Doo. No real consequences or death. I'm sad to say, it was just generally weak. Oh well...

Next time I post it will be 2013! yay! I may even post my top 12 of 2012.

See you next year!


Holiday Horror

With 2012 coming to an end in just a few short days, I've been trying to cram as many movies as I can in to this feeble little time slot. 2012 was really an off year for me movie-wise. It's kind of a bummer. I don't want to reflect on too much, but I'm rounding off at somewhere in the 220-230 movies-watched-this-year-range. Normally I come much closer to my goal of 365, or at very LEAST I make it to the 300's. I got some cool movies for Christmas and had the urge to have a little Holiday Horror marathon. I ended up watching the remake of Black Christmas. Now before you close your browser never to return, allow me to explain. Like many of you, watching the classic 1974 Bob Clark original is apart of my Christmas regime. It's genius on so many levels and needs no further explanation. I made up my mind to skip it this year and focus on a few others so that NEXT year it will be a more refreshing view. That being said, I saw the remake when it came out and really didn't think it was as bad as everyone else did. Sure, they took A LOT of really absurd creative liberties. It can't match the original, nor should anyone expect it to. But I do think it retains a certain camp value that should give it a bit more critical flexibility. Also, the casting was forgivable. Especially with Andrea Martin coming back to play the house mother. Ok, it's not a master piece, I'm not trying to overly defend it, BUT...it's not without it's charms. I enjoyed my first viewing and I enjoyed revisiting it this Christmas season.

On to the main event...

I watched Silent Night, Deadly Night for the first time this year. Which is a little embarassing, and I'm not really sure why. I've seen Silent Night Bloody Night (in all of it's suckery), which I always confused it with but somehow it just never worked out where the opportunity presented itself. So I watched it, and enjoyed it. I thought it drug out a little in between witnessing his parents being killed and him growing up to be the Santa Killer. Just a lot of filler, but it was a good solid slasher. A few laughs, a few "ewws", and Linnea Quigley's tits. Everything was as it should be. I'm glad I finally saw it.

THEN...immediately after, I popped in the second film. For those who don't know (which was me two days ago), the second film was meant to be an alternate version so literally half of the movie is footage from the first film. The other half, is the now dead Santa killer's little brother Ricky, in an asylum narrating the story to a psychiatrist. This film is of course infamous for the immortalized "Garbage Day" scene. That's pretty much all I knew about any of these films before a few days ago, other than that they exist. Having watched both, I wish I'd just skipped the first one completely. That way I'd have seen the highlights and all the good kills from the first and then the hilarious thespian stylings of Eric Freeman. Basically, the second totally trumps the first and I have no reason to ever watch it again. Sadly, the viewing was kind of ruined because I was annoyed that I had to rewatch it all back to back. c'est la vie.

And finally, to end my lackluster, half assed Holiday Horror marathon I ended with the third Silent Night Deadly Night "You Better Watch Out!". Which was, for the record, my favorite of the three! Not only does it have nothing to do with Christmas but it's also a veritable David Lynch casting call. First, we have Richard Beymer aka Benjamin Horn from Twin Peaks, then there's Eric DaRe who's also on Twin Peaks as Leo Johnson, and playing his girlfriend is none other than Laura Harring better known as Rita from Mulholland Drive. WOW. This revelation shocked me as one character after the next entered the screen. One actor, maybe even two could be a coincidence, but THREE? I dunno, man. There's gotta be something there. Maybe Lynch and Monte Hellman are good friends? I looked but couldn't find a definitive explanation for this phenomenon. At any rate, even the film felt Lynchian. More specifically, and just not because of the cast, Twin Peaks-ian. Filled with melodrama, soft lens long shots and an eerie performance from Bill Moseley (always a pleasure!) as the brain-exposed-garbage-day-guy Ricky. The dream sequences were very Black Lodge and the the ending was classic 'what-the-fuck-typical-asshole-lynch-fucking-my-world-up' shenanigans. Am I biased towards the film because of it's Lynch connections? Yes, probably. But I also think it's the most stylish and dream-like of  a the three films. Had it been marketed and approached a little differently it could have easily been a stand-alone film.

I didn't make it to #4 and #5, and I wanted to revisit Jack Frost and it's sequel. Not to mention Santa's Slay, Santa Claws and Satan Claus. But there's always next year! And I'm happy to have finally put a big dent in that Holiday Horror blind spot.