2/10/16

The Red Queen Kills Seven Times


It seems like centuries ago, but when I first caught wind of 1972's The Red Queen Kills Seven Times, I wanted to watch and review it immediately.  It looked too rad to be real.  Clearly, I wasn't able to see it that very second.  There were false starts in profusion.  Everything from disappearing auctions (yes, I tried to watch it the legit way, and it would have cost me a pretty penny) to torrents that contained corrupted files.  I even had the 35mm reels in my possession, but my dog ate them!  Okay, that's a lie.  I just wanted to make this story a little more exciting.  In any event, I finally had brunch with this damn film.  You probably have a few questions.  What was it that made me want to catch this urinary tract infection?  And was it worth the maddening hunt?

Red Queen is a giallo directed and co-written by Emilio Miraglia, the gentleman who brought us 1971's The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave.  I don't remember where I heard the title, but I was sold on the trailer.  Fuck plot; the imagery alone vellicated the dorsal root ganglia in my nervous system.  First of all, the red queen herself is one creepy squaw.  She wears a red cape and a pale mask.  The mask reminded me of Curtains, while the cape...motherfuck, if George Costanza taught the world anything, it's that you never trust a person in a cape.  I'm not convinced that Estelle wasn't cheating on Frank.  I mean, what kind of lawyer...oy vey, I need to stamp out this tangent.  Forgive me.  We'll compare Seinfeld notes some other time, you and I.

As little girls, sisters Kitty and Evelyn were told of The Red Queen and The Black Queen, sisters themselves.  Red stabbed Black seven times.  Every hundred years since this brutal slaying, Red appears (eerily dressed, of course) in the castle to claim seven lives, the same castle that Kitty inhabits with her grandfather.  Where is Evelyn?  Dead.  And yet, (The) Red (Queen) has been spotted roving the hallways and cackling into the night.  Is Evelyn's ghost pissed off?  Is someone trying to mindfuck Kitty?  Did I eat one too many cupcakes this morning?  Valid questions.  For the first hour, I was fixated on the screen.  Red Queen was shaping up to be everything I wanted it to be.  Atmospheric?  Check.  Unnerving?  Check.  Stylish?  Check.  Bloody?  Check.

The first death sequence - discounting flashbacks - is irreproachable.  I'm talking Bava-level, folks.  There are oodles of shots that will stay with you like a pockmark on your soul.  However, the final act (to be precise, the final 40 minutes) crumbles.  The mystery angle gets bogged down by extraneous characters and a resolution that doesn't quite gel.  I was hoping this flick would rise above stock giallo tendencies, but nope, the ending is a convoluted mess.  I won't elaborate for fear of spoiling an obscure plum of a potlatch that you should definitely check out.  Due to the killer's costume, it smells of cockeyed slasherdom.  So that's sweet.  I just wish it was as badass as it could have been.  The dubbing isn't horrible, but I wouldn't mind subtitles.  Sorry, random observation.

I went back and forth on the rating.  I'm giving it four Z'Dars, but boy, that's tenuous.  I'm erring on the side of affirmative willingness because The Red Queen Kills Seven Times is different.  For the most part, this isn't your standard "black gloves" giallo.  It never comes up in discussions of Italian horror imports.  What's that all about, LUIGI?

2/7/16

Slimy Little Bastards


Disclaimer!  I know the director of 2015's Slimy Little Bastards, but only in an online sense.  We are cordial.  We fucked ONCE.  Once!  Dave (or Mr. Parker, if you prefer), I don't even know you that well, and I shouldn't have to defend myself, buuuut the fact that our time together was earth-shattering (both physically and emotionally) does not grant you a license to stalk.  Do I enjoy being stalked?  Yes.  Knock it off anyway, or I'll be forced to contact a constable.  That said, this guy is a fan of "'small creature" flicks.  You know the type...Gremlins, Critters, Ghoulies, Born on the Fourth of July, Hobgoblins, Beasties, et al.  Slimy Little Bastards is his encomium to said features.  Parker is well-intentioned, but I found the scene where Mama Bloomer burns an effigy of Harvey Korman to be in poor taste.  We get it.  No one enjoyed Munchies.

That paragraph was entirely too long.  In addition to being a "small creature" vehicle, this jamboree is an anthology.  You people know I'm big on dat shit.  Bastards is comprised of three vignettes plus the requisite wrap-around story.  A man's car breaks down, so he knocks on a door in the hopes of appealing to someone's beneficent nature.  Well, he knocked on the wrong door.  A mad goon donning a red cape answers, and he doesn't seem to be in a hurry to help our weary traveler.  The goon is credited as The Curator.  He has a collection of jars that house shapeless things floating in brightly colored liquids.  Blue, orange, green...y'know, colors.  Why the hell did I list examples of colors?  Jesus.

You could probably guess where this is going.  The Curator spins a yarn for each container - or rather, the thing IN each container.  I'm fucking spooked!  All kidding aside, I dig passion projects.  It's readily apparent that the cast and crew care about what they're doing.  This isn't a masterpiece.  I think Parker is aware of that, and he does an admirable job of disbursing the elements at his disposal.  I'm underselling the finished product, but a couple of items rocked my tortellini.  The soundtrack is marvelous.  Of course, it's super-duper "80's," but it's more diverse than one would expect.  I must also laud Brandon Salkil for his crazed, enthusiastic performance as The Curator.  How can you not respect the decision to channel Vincent Price?

Hmm, I might as well impart a few words on the vignettes themselves.  "Organic Shit" is a great title, but if I'm being honest (I said if; I could be lying about everything), it's my least favorite of the slimeball triad.  "Brain Busters" handles the tale of a shady, shifty-eyed psychotherapist with pill-popping tact.  I'm not sure what that means.  The bizarre plot brought Frank Henenlotter to mind (namely Brain Damage).  I'd say that "Crusties" is the most well-rounded short here.  The evil frog is boss.  I don't want to shit on the effects, so...I won't.  This is a true no-budgeter.  If you purchase Slimy Little Bastards, you know what kind of goop you're stepping into.  In a way, this project is review-proof.  "Then why review it, Dom?"  Because, you yawping shithead, I support the underground where I can.  Death to false bastards!

2/3/16

Dom Meets The Were-Newcomer


This is another blog-esque post.  Don't worry (you're not worried); the next thing I write will be a normal review.  I was going to review 1988's Alien Nation, but when you sleep through 30 minutes of it and you don't feel like mounting a second survey of the landscape, you opt to chat about it instead.  See how informal this is?  I'm naked.  You're naked.  We're just having fun!  I wish I owned the box set that contains all of the Alien Nation made-for-TV movies.  Of course, there was also a TV series that ran for a single season.  For a transient moment, this shit was a big deal, but it's not remembered very well in modern times.  You would never guess that it was somewhat successful and well-received.

The inculcation began with this theater-bound sci-fi feature set in Los Angeles three years after a spaceship lands in the Mojave Desert.  The aliens reveal themselves to be escaped slaves from Jupiter.  Actually, I don't remember the name of the planet, but I know it wasn't Earth.  It's amazing how relevant Alien Nation is in 2016.  The "newcomers" are treated as if they were Syrian refugees.  They're even disobliged with hate speech (the term "slag" is used as degrading impudence).  I'm inclined to believe that it would take longer than three years for some of them to hold down jobs such as mayor and police detective, but I'm willing to let that nagging hurdle slide.

I dug Mandy Patinkin as Sam Francisco, star fuzz.  James Caan is dandy as Detective Sykes, but let's be honest.  He plays grizzled cops in his daydreams.  In my daydreams, I play a transgender gondolier whose gondola has been abducted by the Korean mafia.  They want five billion dollars, dickpuke!  That's what they call me.  Dickpuke.  Um, Alien Nation is pretty entertaining.  I can only vouch for, like, an hour of it, but that's a majority.

It's so ironic that you asked me about aliens and shit, Tom.  I've been keeping an eye on the new season of The X-Files.  It wasn't beloved, but I enjoyed the premiere, despite the crushing plot holes.  The second episode fizzled.  In my opinion, El Episado Numera Three (holy shit, that was needlessly racist...my apologies) has been the alp of the "comeback."  Most fans tend to agree.  Writer/director Devin Morgan hammered his trademark humor into the script.  I love it when Mulder and Scully goof off.  It's clear that the cast is having a grand time.  Did the fanservice bother me?  Y'know, the fantasy sequence where Scully feigns the role of a sexpot?  No, it did not.

Oh, and the story is ridiculously clever.  If you're not watching along with the rest of the cool kids, then guess what?  You're not a cool kid!

2/1/16

I bet Skeletron did it...


This is just a general update.  I've watched a wide variety of things over the past few days.  I want to hone in on a couple of those things (here's my review of Things while I'm thinking about things).  Turbo Kid just missed out on my Top 5 of 2015 list, as I wasn't able to pack in a viewing under my self-imposed deadline.  It turns out that I happen to love it.  Apple might be one of my favorite characters in the last ten years.  She is relentlessly beaming, and it would be irritating if not for the shrewd dialogue and Laurence Laboeuf's dialed-in performance.  Because of the comic book gore (not to mention the 80's affectations), Turbo Kid has an Astron-6 vibe to it.  I've read allusions to Troma, but no.  No.

It's brutally lightweight.  That's the best description I can muster.  I would trot out a synopsis, but why?  You know that you're going to watch it (if you haven't already, that is).  I felt like it was my civic goddamn duty to sit down with Netflix's Making a Murderer.  Here is what I recently said about it on Facebook:

"Okay, okay, okay...I started watching Making a Murderer. Like, I just started episode three. What the fuck? Hallbach has been presumed dead, Avery is arrested, I know he's still in jail...and there are still seven full episodes left??? That's seven hours! Why should I keep watching? Is there something super juicy I need to know? Is there super juice? Are there fucking zombies in episode eight? DOES THE WOMAN FROM 1985 UNRAPE HERSELF?"

I later wondered if it was all a dream.  Anyway, I hope you can taste my disbelief.  How could there be enough content for that many more episodes?  I totally understand why this series became a nationwide phenomenon, but at this point, you don't need to digest the whole collation (unless you're super, super curious).  Hell, Wikipedia will catch you up.  On the subject of the actual case(s), they are disconcerting displays of power abuse.  I haven't absorbed enough to form an opinion on Avery's culpability in regards to his murder charges, but it wouldn't be a shock to the system to discover that he is innocent.  More at eleven.

I'll be back when I'm back.  Hey, if anyone wants to gift me a copy of 1994's Hellbound on VHS, please get in touch.  Wink, wink.


1/27/16

Blood Capsule #58

PROTOTYPE (1992)

Another blood capsule!  Lucky you.  Actually, I'm fulfilling my duty as a friend.  You see, I picked out this junker to watch with a buddy of mine, and well, let's just say I feel guilty for what we had to endure.  My punishment?  This mini-review.  Prototype is a futuristic "killer robot" ragbag that came to berth in the wake of T2: Judgment Day.  There were gobs of these direct-to-video litter reels trammeling local rental showrooms (yes, showrooms...that's the choice I made), and it was glorious.  It wasn't quite as glorious on a case-to-case basis.  You could get stuck with real wreckage.  Like Prototype!  An infirm veteran (who may or may not be able to buy beer legally) volunteers for a chancy program that promises to restore his mobility.  And it does, but it also turns him into a cybernetic drudge.  He's all touchy-killy and shit.

How does this laundry list strike you?  Uninterrupted smoking (apparently, the year 2057 isn't far removed from 1957), cumbersome editing, extrasensory sex (okay, that wasn't terrible), a prosaic pace, incestuous undertones (for fuck's sake, the boy is barely a teenager) and a psychic yoga ninja who doesn't relate to the plot in any goddamn way.  Seriously, who the fuck was that prickhole?  He materializes out of thin air in the final act.  Ugh, fuck Prototype.  It's bad.  I mean, the lighting is cool, and the acting is harmless.  But fuck Prototype.  Happy now, Paul???  Shuffle this deck!

1/22/16

Blood Capsule #57

SECRET OF THE BLUE ROOM (1933)

What we have here is a "lost" Universal horror film.  It's not really lost, though.  And it's not really a horror film, but in my judgment, it's within the classification contiguity that dovetails the dimensions of Random Reviews Inc.  Got it?  Good.  Blue Room runs on "old dark house" tropes to tell the story of a supposedly haunted bedroom.  Three bachelors offer to spend the night in this place to prove their gallantry to the delicate Irene von Helldorf.  Obviously, calamitous things happen, but who is responsible?  As a whodunit, the narrative is suitable.  I dug the twists, I must say.  However, Blue Room folds when it comes to pretending to be a fright flick.

Director Kurt Neumann whips up juicy exteriors (those squally typhoons are to die for), and I'm cool with the manner in which key scenes are framed, but - fuck, this sentence is too damn long.  The atmosphere isn't bleak enough for me.  The Old Dark House is more sinister, and that's practically a full-blown comedy.  In addition, I bore witness to subplots being dropped off the side of the crag in the movie itself.  Figuratively speaking, but still!  Would I recommend Secret of the Beryl Enclosure?  Yeah.  It's entertaining, and it stars Lionel Atwill.  Actually, the whole cast is methodical, if not a teensy bit stagy.  What's a Universal classic without blood and thunder?

1/21/16

Album Cover of the Whatever


As per the incoming ambuscade of snowfall, our power may go out in the next day or two.  Personally, I doubt it.  But just in case, I thought I'd pacify my hungry fanbase (lolz) with...well, this.  It's all you're getting.

1/18/16

The Comedy of Terrors


Ah, this is what the doctor ordered.  Look at that cast!  I've recently become a big fan of Peter Lorre, and Vincent Price is my favorite actor period.  Of course, Boris Karloff is nothing to sneeze at.  You have Basil Rathbone hamming it way up and quoting Shakespeare pole to pole.  Joyce Jameson's cleavage is ace.  Let's be honest; that's all women are good for, am I right?  Just joshing!  Actually, her performance is quite droll.  Her forced bad singing made the faucets in my house tap out (that joke should be framed).  Thus far, I've been raining plaudits down on 1963's The Comedy of Terrors, but it pains me to say that I wouldn't recommend it.  It's a comedy above all else, and yet, it isn't particularly funny.

Humor being a subjective thing, I doubt that I can substantiate my claims other than stating...I didn't laugh.  Much.  Price heads a well-worn premise that finds his character running his father-in-law's funeral parlor.  Business is sluggish, so Price (Waldo, the autocratic scuzzball) and Lorre (Felix, the second-in-command pushover) create their own customer base.  It's The Body Snatcher, only they aren't selling the corpses to a scientist.  Waldo needs to pay his yearly rent (!).  Then it hits him; why not waste the landlord?  "We'll kill two birds with one pillow."  Naturally, shenanigans follow.  This mischief is shockingly arid.  You might even say it's hoary!  I wouldn't, but you might.

The main problem is that there are three, maybe four jokes in the whole movie.  Richard Matheson wrote the screenplay, which is why it chafes my rind to level these scurrilities, but are they not deserved?  Am I not human?  The wife has a terrible opera voice, the sidekick is a stumbling oaf and the landlord refuses to stay in his coffin.  Boom.  I have just outlined The Comedy of Terrors.  Granted, shards of other epigrams squawk through, but the film's plane of camp comes off as too one-dimensional.  Was it snobbish of me to expect something a bit more...intellectual?  Again, look at the cast.  I tried to "let my hair down" and go with the flow, but honestly, I wasn't entertained.

That's not to say that The Comedy of Terrors isn't a well-lubricated affair.  It certainly looks grand.  And it should, as the camera is guided by Jacques Tourneur.  That bad motherfucker directed 1957's Night (or Curse) of the Demon, one of my favorite horror-themed moving pictures of all time.  I don't have to tell you that Price excels at owning the scenery.  Lorre and Karloff are equally glorious, as are the polymorphic sequences of hardcore pornography.  Goodness gracious, those Asian tarts were absolutely pulverized.  I'm sorry; I may be thinking of a different DVD that I...do not own.  Let's wrap this up, shall we?

The Comedy of Terrors is MEH.