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Saturday, April 30, 2011

TROLL 2


STATS:
Troll 2
1990
Director: Claudio Fragasso (under a fake name)
Writer: some Italians with a limited grasp of the language
Starring: Utah’s finest

WHA’ HAPPENED?
A family takes a vacation to Nilbog, a small town overrun by goblins that want to turn them into plants and eat them. The goblins are lead by Creedence Leonore Gielgud, the queen goblin who gets her magic from Stonehenge.


Our main character, the young son who has a special relationship with his dead grandpa, eventually defeats the goblins with a double decker bologna sandwich… Or did he?

Nope. He did not.

Want some, Joshua?

ISN’T THAT SPECIAL?
This is the worst film ever made. ’Nuff said.

Actually, I can add a little more to that. Troll 2 has developed a massive cult following over the years; it was released to Blu-Ray before movies like On the Waterfront…

Who needs classic monologues when you have
Grandpa Seth and his magic lightning fingers?

…Network

I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore.
Here, give me a double decker bologna sandwich.

…and The Lost Boys.

One thing about living in Santa Carla I never could stomach…
all the damn greased-up saxophone players.

Clearly, people have fond memories of watching this film on late-night HBO and wondering if they’d accidentally ingested acid. The film’s child star even made a movie documenting its rise in the pop culture pantheon.

Better than the one with the dead dolphins?

On a personal note, I’ve probably seen this film upwards of 30 times. It was inevitable that I’d write about it.

WHAT YOU SAY?
[insert entire screenplay here]

Seriously, this film was written by Italians and then badly translated (and performed) by Utahans (which is apparently a word). Nothing makes sense. Here are some choice soundbites:

“They’re eating her. And then they’re gonna eat me. Oh my GGGGAAAAAAAHHH.”

“Are you nuts? You trying to turn me into a homo?” “Wouldn’t be too hard. If my father discovers you here, he’d cut off your little nuts and eat them. He can’t stand you.”

“He was one of us. And you killed him. Now it’s your turn.”

“But how do we get him to come? By having a séance maybe?”

SHIRTS AND SKINS:
Corn sex. Only in Utah.


BLOOD AND GUTS:
The goblins trick their victims into drinking green stuff, which can turn any human into a man-plant. Then the goblins eat them. It’s Shakespearean.

Also, Creedence Leonore Gielgud of Ancient Druid Origins gets her troll arm cut off. Another goblin gets burned alive. And there’s a lot of lightning.

OK. IS IT GAY?
Yes it is. Some people make a lot out of the daughter’s “eating your little nuts” line listed above, but the real gay undertones come from the close relationships between the four teens boys. They sleep together shirtless, and Elliot (the only one in a relationship) refuses to spend time with his girlfriend without his buddies in tow. They sit extremely close together while watching Saturday morning nonsense. And none of them are all that masculine (despite the fact that Elliot is referred to as the “playboy son of the Coopers”). Sure, some of this could be chalked up to the whole Italian/Mormon culture clash that produced such a cinematic wonder, but I’d like to think that this film is as gay as it looks.

On a gayness scale, I’ll give this two Boy Georges.

Please watch this film.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Blood and Black Lace


STATS:
Blood and Black Lace
1964
Director: Mario Bava
Writer: Giuseppe Barilla, Marcello Fondato, and Mario Bava
Starring: Cameron Mitchell and Eva Bartok (no relation to the albino bat from Anastasia)

She killed her victims with rabies.
And sub-Disney showtunes about togetherness.

WHA’ HAPPENED?
A glove-wearing murderer (or two) stalks and kills beautiful models throughout some Italian city. All the victims are connected to a fashion house run by a recent widow. One of the victims has a diary of all the shadiness going on in the company…


…and everyone wants to read it or destroy it. As the victims pile up, innocent people are arrested and more secrets come to light. In the bloody climax, the killers have to fight for their lives… not from the police, but from each other.

ISN’T THAT SPECIAL?
I’ve always had a soft spot for Italian horror films, even when they’re nonsensical, misogynistic, and crazy-boring. You show me ballerinas swimming through barbed wire (by accident and in stylized lighting) and I’ll be your fan for life.

Or at least until you make something like this.

That said, I’m much more familiar with the directors that “borrowed” from Bava than I’m familiar with Bava himself. Sure, all these movies feature killers that apparently shop at the same glove store, but I just assumed that the 60s-era stuff would be a little less insane than what came after.

Like magic heads.

So this blog is my opportunity to sample some old school giallo.

Also, there’s a great blog called The Moon Is a Dead World that’s encouraging other bloggers to review this film. So bring it on.

SAY WHAT?
“The thought that a sex maniac is prowling around your fashion house… well, I don’t like it.”

“Now listen to me, you little idiot.”

“You loved everything I had. Everything but me.”

“Look at him. He hates women. Look at him. He’s the killer.”

“Goodbye, Clarisse.”

“If only the men would come back. We’re all women left alone.”

SHIRTS AND SKINS:
Lots of female flesh (mostly getting cut up and whatnot), but nothing on the male side of things.

BLOOD AND GUTS:
Blood and Black Lace may not have Argento levels of blood, but it’s surprisingly brutal for a 47-year-old film. Women get burnt, strangled, stabbed, and generally tortured by the killers. The models are so freaking killable, in fact, that it’s almost a comedy.

Almost.

Like most Italian horror movies, most of the tension dissipates when the detectives are on screen talking in dubbed-over voices about suspects and motives and whatnot. But when the scene calls for a single woman to wander around a dark room… Well, it’s pretty special.

RANDOM THOUGHTS:
Did anyone notice the bright red mannequins in every scene? Those are going to haunt my dreams.

See that horrible red demon in the background?
Why would you buy clothes off of that thing?

Did I ever mention the lighting and the cinematography? Because damn…

I want to live there. Well, after the murders stop.

Did anybody else notice a Disney quality to the colors and backgrounds? Some of the sets looked like fairy tales. With strangulations.

Snow White, anyone?

Cameron Mitchell’s final acting role is “Dr. Cadaver” in Jack-O. Sad.

The slasher film about a mutant first lady
rampaging through Hyannis Port, Massachusetts.

I wonder if the creators of Modern Family named their gay couple after the actor Cameron Mitchell.

Cameron and Mitchell. Coincidence?
Yes, yes it is.

OK. IS IT GAY?
Well, I’m conflicted. This is a film about the Italian fashion industry, and yet there are no gay people. That’s pretty far-fetched. However, it was the 60s, so I can forgive a movie for being a product of its era.

As if the crap from my generation
is going to stand the test of time.

And I do admire this film for being a pre-slasher slasher with plenty of artistic integrity.

But some of the violence and contempt against women is a little hard to stomach. Sure, the female characters burn evidence and hide bodies and, you know, kill people, but the film is called “Six Women for the Murderer” for a reason. The ladies walk in, they flail around helplessly, then they die.

Further, I could take a whole gender studies angle on this film and discuss the weird sexual politics at play. (Let’s just look at the last scene: the central couple both succeed in killing each other, in addition to previous lovers, in a very psychosexual way. The woman dies because she falls off this big phallic pole, but not before kissing the man in a clearly sexless way. Then the movie ends.)


As a gay man, I’m fascinated by the gender roles at play here, and the next time I watch it, I’ll pay even closer attention to the relationship between the two killers. I can’t tell if the main villain is a coded gay character… or just a jackass.

This film is like a little time capsule of 60s attitudes. It’s definitely not gay, but it’s not exactly well-adjusted and hetero. On a gayness scale, I’d give this an old-school Burgess Meredith, whatever that means.



Leprechaun 3



STATS:
Leprechaun 3
1995
Director: Brian Trenchard-Smith (Dead End Drive-In)
Writer: David DuBos (based on Mark Jones characters)
Starring: Warwick Davis, Caroline Williams ( Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2)… and I’m sure some other people are in this too.


WHA’ HAPPENED?
Everyone’s favorite Ewok is back, and this time he has naughty limericks. Warwick Davis reprises his role as the titular badass, except now he’s in Las Vegas and on a more direct-to-video budget. He was somehow frozen by a magic necklace, and now he’s free to kill people and get back his pot of gold. In the process, he bites our main character and turns him into a leprechaun too.

I’ll cut you.

ISN’T THAT SPECIAL?
No, it’s really not special. I just chose this film because I have a soft spot for the Leprechaun films. They’re trash.

SHIRTS AND SKINS:
Robot boobs. Some busty women. Nothing man-related.

BLOOD AND GUTS:
A woman explodes and the Leprechaun busts out his umbrella to shield himself from the goo. If that sentence appeals to you, then you should watch this film.

We also have a magician get sawed in half. That’s a winner.

Especially if it’s this guy.

RANDOM THOUGHTS:
So if you blast a pot of gold with a blowtorch, it’ll disappear. Is that like a science thing?

So leprechaun poop is green. Not surprising, but good to know.

Sign it was made in the mid-90s: a White Zombie reference.

I don’t think Vegas looks the way this movie thinks Vegas looks.

OK. IS IT GAY?
Before I answer that, I just want to say that this is the most enjoyable of the Leprechaun sequels. It’s kills are memorable, it never drags, and it has a steady stream of jokes that feel organic to the story. Sure, there aren’t any Friends stars in this one…

Can you even imagine? She’d be soooo good in this.

…But it’s overall a really good time.

Is it gay? Not really. But there’s still something special about it, in its own little direct-to-video way… Eric Roberts!


SCREAM 2


STATS:
Scream 2
1997
Director: Wes Craven
Writer: Kevin Williamson
Starring: Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox, David Arquette, Jamie Kennedy, the fat kid from Stand By Me

WHA’ HAPPENED?
Ghostface is back… and this time he’s gone to college!

Just pour the Milwaukee ’s Best through my mask. I’ll manage.

ISN’T THAT SPECIAL?
Scream was a seminal moment for post-modern horror. Everyone knows this. Scream 2 came less than a year later and is almost as highly regarded as the original. It’s less groundbreaking, but it still comes with an aura of late-90s awesomeness that’s pretty hard to deny.Plus, Kevin Williamson is a pretty important figure for gay entertainment.

If you ignore Hidden Palms, of course.

SHIRTS AND SKINS:
Jerry O’Connell gets tied up and shirtless, which is always nice. Other than that, I couldn’t find anything to mention.

Hey, Jerry, why don’t you SLIDE into a universe without clothes?

BLOOD AND GUTS:
Ever watched an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and thought, “I like that blonde girl, but wouldn’t it be cool if she got murdered?”? Well, you’re in luck. Sarah Michelle Gellar is in this film for a grand total of two scenes, one of which is her death scene. (Hint: it’s the second one.)

Despite Randy’s rule that sequels have death scenes that are “much more elaborate,” the deaths in this one don’t exactly put the original’s to shame. I’m very fond of the opening death with Mrs. Will Smith (and the way Scary Movie spoofed it). I also liked the random car chase death and Buffy’s sorority slaughter.

However, the climax (set on the stage of some Greek play) is definitely underwhelming compared to the original film.

I get the Cassandra motif, but if they were going Greek,
why not go all the way?

On the other hand, Randy’s death was sudden and extremely affective. It was almost like he’d been X’ed.


RANDOM THOUGHTS:
I’d like to imagine what Sarah Michelle Gellar’s Cruel Intentions character would do in this film. Or in I Know What You Did Last Summer… Hmm…

She’d probably snort some coke and NOT get horribly murdered.

Speaking of Cruel Intentions… Ryan Philippe should be in this film. He should look like late-90s Ryan Philippe but have the voice of late-00s Ryan Philippe.

And he should jog.

For those who aren’t aware, the film’s original killers were totally different. Can you imagine Jerry O’Connell murdering anyone? I mean, except for Horatio Sanz in Tomcats.

The death of fun.

OK. IS IT GAY?
It doesn’t have the homoerotic overtones that Billy and Stu shared in the first film, but it’s still pretty quippy and Kevin Williamson-y.

True story: I wrote a college paper on their relationship. I aced that sucker.

It also includes a possibly gay cop. And it doesn’t exactly scrimp on WB flavor. And it includes Ellen Degeneres’s future wife as a weirdly-eyebrowed sorority sister.

After she got famous. And tweezed.

All-in-all, I’d give this a solid Chris Colfer, you know, because it’s gay and it’s courting the youth demo.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

GAY PANIC ALERT: Your Highness


Every few weeks, another movie will hit theaters reeking of gay panic. And before you can pronounce “Chuck and Larry,” its message has once again entered mainstream culture: Gay people are icky.

And... you know, like acceptance and stuff

Of course, filmmakers can talk about whatever they want, but that doesn’t mean that we should pay money to see our demographic get openly mocked. So let’s “page Dr. Faggot” for a second and take a look at the latest film that is afraid of us.

Your Highness debuted to mediocre reviews and even worse box office, but the allure of seeing James Franco in tights has surely drawn its fair share of gay fans (myself included). Here is what they can expect to see…

A penis-headed wizard creature admits to molesting James Franco’s character when he was a child.

That same wizard convinces both our main characters to jerk him off in exchange for a magic compass.

A minotaur attempts to rape the prince’s servant boy Courtney.

(Courtney in general is a problematic figure, considering his name, his openly mocked haircut, his history as a sex slave, and his blind devotion to the prince.)

The film has two main villains. One is a theatrical wizard who can’t get it up for the virgin he’s kidnapped.

The other is the prince’s traitorous knight, who gets hacked apart by the prince before revealing that he loves him “like a man loves a man.” Yes, the knight started all this drama because he was secretly in love with James Franco and couldn’t handle the fact that his feelings weren’t reciprocated. And yes, his death is the goriest scene in the film… AND meant as a joke. (For the record, no one in the audience laughed.)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Hellraiser: Bloodline


STATS:
Hellraiser: Bloodline
1996
Director: “Alan Smithee
Writer: Peter Atkins
Starring: Doug Bradley, Bruce Ramsay, Valentina Vargas… and Adam Scott for some reason

WHA’ HAPPENED?
Pinhead in space. Also, Pinhead in eighteenth century France . He gets around.

Technically, it was a demon named Angelique who showed up for the French parts. I always pictured Pinhead as less French and more German.

ISN’T THAT SPECIAL?
As far as the theatrical Hellraisers go, this one has a real stench to it, mainly because the director (Kevin Yagher, the guy who designed Chucky) disowned it. (Note the Alan Smithee credit.) Then parts were reshot by Joe Chapelle, the guy who really classed-up the Halloween franchise with its sixth installment (i.e. the worst one without Busta Rimes). Basically, there’s a whole lot of bad mojo circling this film, and I wanted to see how much of it was true.

Well, at least it doesn’t have the dumbest title of the franchise.

SHIRTS AND SKINS:
Some demon/human sex scenes, but you mostly just see lady-back. Some glimpses of man-shoulders, but mostly lady-back. However, that man is this guy…


…who’s weirdly dreamy.

Maybe this is a better picture.

BLOOD AND GUTS:
The usual for this series: chains and hooks and peeled-off skin. Two twins become Siamese against their will. A robot explodes. A demon dog eats some space rangers off-screen. You know, tale as old as time.


RANDOM THOUGHTS:
Has there been any other horror series that skinned this many people alive?

Angelique definitely has style. The actress is Chilean, but she has a French soul.

When her character got skinned alive, THIS came out.

OK. IS IT GAY?
Not really. It’s a story that transcends generations, but it’s not exactly an epic romance.

Our love will never last. You’re Russian, and I’m from Hell.

There aren’t any gay characters (even in the French section!) and there’s very little sexuality at all, gay or otherwise. Maybe if the romance plotlines had been dialed up, I’d feel differently. It almost seemed like the demon/human bed-hopping was a dropped plot point. Was Angelique starting to love him? That would’ve been interesting.

As it is, this is the least gay of all the theatrical Hellraisers. John Wayne!