Archive for the Cannibalism Category

The Distracted Critic: SCARCE (2008)

Posted in 2013, Cannibalism, Cannibals, Distracted Critic, Horror, Paul McMahon Columns with tags , , , on July 24, 2013 by knifefighter

SCARCE (2008)
A review by Paul McMahon– the Distracted Critic

S-POSTERSCARCE (2008) was written by Jesse T. Cook, who brought us MONSTER BRAWL in 2011, and John Geddes, who brought us EXIT HUMANITY, which I reviewed a few weeks ago. SCARCE has been in my queue for a while, and I had no idea the brains behind EXIT HUMANITY had such a big hand in this one. It looked like a cool “chased by monsters through the snowy woods” movie, and I’m always good for a monster movie. Turns out, though, that SCARCE is a story about cannibal rednecks. It’s written by-the-numbers, incorporating all the “cannibal redneck rules” during its running time.

“How will anyone find you when you have been eaten?” asks the tagline, and it seems like there’s a pretty straightforward answer to that if you’re not too… rhypophobic. Rule Eight: Cannibal rednecks love referring to their own poop.

The first thing we see in this movie is a naked bloodied man running through the woods. It catches our attention right quick. Within a few moments, he runs out of sight and screams, and we know he came to a bad end. Rule Thirteen: With cannibal rednecks, everyone comes to a bad end.

Next up, we meet three snowboarding buddies. (Aside: They’re in their cabin watching a horror movie called EXIT HUMANITY. One of them shuts it off and says “Who watches this shit?” To which I am forced to respond: “Me. Me is who watches this shit.”) The buddies go to a party where they indulge in gallons of alcohol and pages of stilted dialogue. The next morning they leave Colorado to drive home to New Jersey. They are forced off the interstate in Pennsylvania due to a snowstorm. A greasy fat guy in a huge neck brace gives them directions back to the highway. Rule One: One Cannibal redneck always waits a few miles from the property to give the lost and confused bogus directions.

Trevor, Dustin and Owen are the secret ingredients in SCARCE.

Trevor, Dustin and Owen are the secret ingredients in SCARCE.

In no time the three friends get lost and crash. Trevor suffers a compound fracture of the shin that tears his jeans. Owen and Dustin leave him and walk for help. They see a cabin up on a hill and veer toward the front door. When no one answers, they walk around the house. Dustin gets interested in all the weird redneck paraphernalia in the back yard, while Owen is surprised that the back door of the house is open. Predictably, they walk inside. Rule Three: The cannibal redneck diet consists of idiots who make idiotic decisions.

The owner of the house finds them inside, but– surprise, surprise– he’s a nice guy and drives them back to the wreck, where they find that Trevor is gone. Ivan thinks it was Wade, who’s “always been the helping kind.” With no other options, Dustin and Owen agree to spend the night with Ivan, who will drive them to town in the morning, after the storm runs its course. Rule Six: Cannibal rednecks can be nice, until it’s time to not be nice.

Ivan has only meat for supper, and offers them some. Dustin is a vegetarian, but he tries some so he doesn’t offend Ivan. Rule Seven: Cannibal rednecks will always feed your friends to you.

The next morning, Owen wakes alone. He starts to panic, but then Dustin shows up with Ivan and a list of chores. The snow has tapered off, but Ivan insists they can’t leave because the storm isn’t finished. Dustin wants to help Ivan out instead of sitting around worrying. Owen wanders off to search for cell phone reception. Rule Four: Cannibal rednecks always live where there’s no cell service.

Owen returns from his fruitless trek to find the cabin empty. He wanders upstairs and finds a cassette tape of the blizzard report they’ve been hearing. Then someone in a huge black mask is behind him. Rule Eleven: Cannibal rednecks wear masks to look scary.

Ivan and Wade play their own version of Iron Chef in SCARCE.

Ivan and Wade play their own version of Iron Chef in SCARCE.

Owen wakes bound and gagged in a dark cellar next to Dustin and in plain view of Trevor, who’s being held upright in a medieval crow’s cage. Owen now has time to ponder more of the cannibal redneck rules, such as:

  • Rule Five: Cannibal rednecks have unsettling facial deformities
  • Rule Nine: Cannibal rednecks are constantly sharpening meat cleavers
  • Rule Two: Cannibal rednecks have already eaten their wives and daughters
  • Rule Twelve: Cannibal rednecks will set their victims free and hunt them down because it makes them “taste better”
  • And we can’t forget Rule Ten: Cannibal rednecks lack table manners, chew with their mouths open, and never, under any circumstances, use napkins.

Aside from acting and directing, Jesse T. Cook plays Trevor and John Geddes plays Owen. Most of the other actors have only this movie on their resumes, except for Steve Warren, who plays Ivan. You might have seen him in 2007’s THE SIGNAL.

It doesn’t take long for this movie to fall apart completely. There are lapses of logic that would make even Ed Wood Jr. contemplate a re-shoot. The holes of ridicule include people running through three feet of snow on various leg injuries (yes, even a compound fracture), a job two men can barely succeed at is later accomplished six-times-over by one man who’s too fat to put his own socks on, and there are a handful of injuries that were apparently applied with disappearing/ reappearing latex. There was also a handgun that fired sixteen rounds (I went back and counted), but upon further research I learned that there is at least one handgun that can hold a sixteen-clip magazine. Whether the weapon in the movie was one of these, I can’t verify, but I suspect it’s possible since they listed Chris Warrilow, who had a role in the movie as a “gun wrangler,” in the credits.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t anything to make me want to recommend this picture. They got the sound of snow squeaking in sub-zero temperatures exactly right. They got the random scatter of lightweight snow whipping around exactly right, which is impressive because I think it was CGI’ed, since not a single flake ever landed on anyone’s black jacket.

As far as I’m concerned, this movie is strike two for John Geddes. His next film, HELLMOUTH, is based on Tony Burgess novel THE HELLMOUTHS OF BEWDLEY (Mr. Burgess also wrote PONTYPOOL CHANGES EVERYTHING, on which the movie PONTYPOOL, 2009 was based). I’ll check HELLMOUTH out when it’s released later this year.

For now, I am forced to give SCARCE half a star, with two time-outs.

© Copyright 2013 by Paul McMahon

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The Geisha of Gore Attends THE NEW YORK ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL and JAPAN CUTS 2012!

Posted in 2012, 60s Movies, Anime, Asian Horror, Atomic Accidents, Based on a True Story, Cannibalism, Colleen Wanglund Reviews, Cop Movies, Film Festivals, Gangsters!, Geisha of Gore Reviews, Kung Fu!, Samurais, Yakuza Films with tags , , , , , , , on August 29, 2012 by knifefighter

THE GEISHA OF GORE Takes On:
THE NEW YORK ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL AND JAPAN CUTS – 2012
By Colleen Wanglund

Once again I, your Geisha of Gore, attended this year’s New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF) and the Japan Cuts film festival, although this time as a legitimate member of the press. During the month of July I experienced some very cool films from all over Southeast Asia and in varying genres—not just the horror that I’m so overwhelmingly fond of. The NYAFF, which is put together by Subway Cinema and The Film Society of Lincoln Center, just celebrated its eleventh year, and it’s bigger than ever. Japan Cuts is a festival of contemporary Japanese cinema held every year at The Japan Society in the Turtle Bay neighborhood of Manhattan and is in its sixth consecutive year. NYAFF movies are shown at Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater, The Japan Society (where the two festivals overlap and support each other) and sometimes a midnight movie at the IFC Center. Both film festivals are run by some very cool people, who welcomed me into the fold officially this past July…and that was due to the help of my wingman from another website, Stan Glick, who knows more about Asian films than most people I’ve met.

Opening night was a blast, as Stan, fellow Knife Fighter Nick Cato and I saw the comedy VULGARIA (Hong Kong, 2012) about a producer who is desperately trying to get his porn film made—an ambitious remake of a Shaw Brothers 1970’s sexploitation classic. Not only does the movie get made, but the producer ends up creating a viral marketing campaign that makes his movie a huge hit. The movie’s director Pang Ho-cheung took questions from the sold-out audience, telling us that the film is actually based on true events—which makes it that much funnier. It was filmed in just twelve days on an extremely low budget, and the script was written by almost everyone involved as it went along! It’s a raunchy comedy without actually being visibly raunchy or vulgar, which is quite the feat, considering the subject matter. I truly laughed so hard I cried. VULGARIA stars Chapman To, who starred in INFERNAL AFFAIRS (2002), INFERNAL AFFAIRS 2 (2003), and TRIPLE TAP (2010), and has had a long career in Hong Kong cinema. There is also the very interesting character of Popping Cherry, played by Dada Chan, who will do just about anything to get into the movies. How she got her name is priceless.

VULGARIA (2012)

Afterwards, everyone was invited into the theater’s gallery where we enjoyed some complimentary Kirin beer to celebrate the opening of NYAFF. The next afternoon I was lucky enough to participate in a press conference with Choi Min-sik, star of OLDBOY (2003), I SAW THE DEVIL (2010) and his latest, NAMELESS GANGSTER (2012). NYAFF held a four-film mini retrospective of Choi’s films, including OLDBOY, NAMELESS GANGSTER, FAILAN (2001), and CRYING FIST (2005). Choi Min-sik is one of the biggest stars in South Korea and for good reason—the man is a brilliant actor. I was thrilled to meet him and be able to ask him at least one question during the conference.

Below is a brief synopsis of some of the other films that screened at NYAFF and Japan Cuts.

NAMELESS GANGSTER (Korea, 2012)—Choi Min-sik stars as a crooked customs inspector who is about to go to prison, but finds a stash of confiscated cocaine and ends up a gangster, using his family connections to stay in power for quite some time. When he faces his impending downfall, he has no problem betraying some of those same family members who helped his rise in the Korean underworld. The movie is brilliant and if you get a chance, go see it!

NAMELESS GANGSTER (2012)

NASI LEMAK 2.0 (Malaysia, 2011)—Directed by and starring rapper Namewee, NASI LEMAK 2.0 is a comedy surrounding food….namely the national dish of Malaysia. At its core, it is about ethnic division in the country using kung fu, Bollywood dance numbers, outrageous stereotypes and surreal comedy in an attempt to get across a message of unity. Not my favorite of the festival movies, but funny and entertaining, nonetheless.

THE KING OF PIGS (Korea, 2011)—An animated film employing washed-out, muted colors and harsh lines to set the tone, THE KING OF PIGS tells the story of the effects of bullying on young school boys and how it continues to affect their adult lives. It is at times a brutal and unflinching look at how class plays a role in Korean society. Directed by Yeun Sang-ho, the film isn’t the most graceful anime I’ve ever seen, but it is based on some of Yeun’s own experiences while in middle school and displays its darkness effectively.

KING OF THE PIGS (2011)

HARD ROMANTICKER (Japan, 2011)—Written and directed by Gu Su-yeon and based on Gu’s own childhood growing up in a Korean ghetto, the film is a hard-ass look at loner Gu (Shota Matsuda—whose father was a star of 70s yakuza flicks) who causes trouble and attempts to elude payback among different gangs. He’s also hounded by a cop looking for Gu to rat out others, but just feeds the cop info on low-level drug users instead. HARD ROMANTICKER is fast, furious and violent, but an entertaining film for those who like the gangster genre.

ASURA (Japan, 2012)—Another animated film, ASURA is about a young boy surviving as a cannibal in war-torn Medieval Japan, who is then befriended by a young woman who shows the boy compassion. The Lord of the village is determined to find and kill the boy and things get dangerous for everyone involved. The film uses an animation process that involves 3D characters over a 2D painted background. The result is a beautiful watercolor effect with an amazing depth. The story is brutal and bloody, but heartbreaking as well.

NO MAN’S ZONE (Japan, 2012)—A moving documentary that was filmed by a crew that basically wandered around the 20-kilometer exclusion zone affected by the radiation from the Fukushima nuclear reactors. It is a few months after the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear disaster, but some of the small villages and towns have yet to be evacuated. It is both heartbreaking and infuriating to see the devastation and the lack of response by the government.

NO MAN’S ZONE (2012)

TORMENTED (Japan, 2011)—Directed by Takashi Shimizu, Christopher Doyle was Director of Photography on this follow-up to THE SHOCK LABYRINTH (Japan, 2009). While not a sequel, TORMENTED (orig. title: RABBIT HORROR 3D) contains some of the same elements and places as THE SHOCK LABYRINTH and a scene from SHOCK is included at one point in TORMENTED. It’s a huge departure from Shimizu’s famous JU-ON films, but a fantastic effort.

HENGE (Japan, 2012)—Directed by Hajime Ohata, HENGE, which translates to metamorphosis, is a short film that clocks in at just around 54 minutes. It is a disturbing film about a man who suffers violent seizures and speaks in an alien language. Over time the man transforms into a bloodthirsty insectoid creature, but his wife stands by her man, even luring victims to the house for him to feed on. It’s gory and worth a watch, IF you can find it. Unfortunately it’s tough for shorts to get decent distribution deals. The film was shown with two other short films as part of “The Atrocity Exhibition.”

LET’S-MAKE-THE-TEACHER-HAVE-A-MISCARRIAGE CLUB (Japan, 2012)—Another short film that was part of The Atrocity Exhibition, this disturbing film follows a group of middle-school girls led by the psychologically damaged Mizuki. Mizuki decides that the girls’ pregnant teacher is dirty and her pregnancy must be ended as a punishment for having had sex. What makes this film even more disturbing is that it is based on true events. This is a fantastic film that will unfortunately not see a distribution deal because of its length, which is an even 60 minutes.

And these were just the films I got to see during the festivals!

Other wonderful films that were screened during the two festivals and must be seen, if you haven’t already (and seriously, what are you waiting for?) included OLDBOY (Korea, 2003), the cult classic starring Choi Min-sik; the bleak horror film GOKE: BODY SNATCHER FROM HELL (Japan, 1968); INFERNAL AFFAIRS 1 and 2 (Hong Kong, 2002/2003), the far superior original versions of Martin Scorsese’s THE DEPARTED (2006); FIVE FINGERS OF DEATH (Hong Kong, 1972), one of the best kung fu films ever made and one that established the genre; ACE ATTORNEY (Japan, 2012) based on a popular video game and directed by Takashi Miike; THIRTEEN ASSASSINS (Japan, 2010) a samurai film, also directed by Takashi Miike; and ZOMBIE ASS:TOILET OF THE DEAD (Japan, 2011) the latest offering from Sushi Typhoon and directed by Noboru Iguchi.

The Japanese classic horror film, GOKE, THE BODY SNATCHER FROM HELL (1968)

NYAFF and Japan Cuts combined to showcase new movies, classic films, special guests, and parties. There were almost 100 films screened between the two festivals, and they get bigger each year. Some of this year’s guests included Donnie Yen, Choi Min-sik, Michelle Chen, Yoon Jin-seo, and Jeff Lau. I’ve looked forward to the festivals every year since I first began attending over three years ago. Samuel Jamier is the head programmer for Japan Cuts and would love to see the festival become one of the biggest showcase for Japanese films of all genres in North America. Some of the cool people involved with the New York Asian Film Festival are Ted Geoghegan, Grady Hendrix, Rufus de Rham, and Goran Topalovic.

© Copyright 2012 by Colleen Wanglund
LINK TO PREVIOUS COLUMNS:

The Geisha Reviews OLDBOY and Chan-Wook Park’s Vengeance Trilogy

The Geisha Reviews I SAW THE DEVIL

The Geisha of Gore reviews GOKE, BODY SNATCHER FROM HELL

Meals for Monsters: TENDERNESS OF THE WOLVES (1973)

Posted in 2012, 70s Horror, Art Movies, Based on a True Story, Cannibalism, Crime Films, Foreign Films, German Horror, Jenny Orosel Columns, Meals for Monsters, Serial Killer flicks with tags , , , , on June 6, 2012 by knifefighter

Meals for Monsters: TENDERNESS OF THE WOLVES (1973)
Review and Recipes by Jenny Orosel

It’s not often a horror movie can truly state that it’s “based on a true story.” But when you have a movie based on the most notorious homosexual-pedophile-cannibal-serial killer out of Germany, it’s easy to claim that moniker. TENDERNESS OF THE WOLVES (1973) could give any of the slashers from that era a run for their money. But this one is extra creepy, knowing the events shown actually happened.

Fritz Haarmann, a small-time criminal, is made an undercover inspector by the German police, hoping his contacts will give them an in with the criminal underworld. Instead, Fritz uses his position of power to seduce young men and boys, more often than not killing, dismembering, and eating his victims. What he cannot eat himself, Fritz sells as black-market pork. Some of the most disturbing moments of the movie comes when Fritz hosts a dinner party and his guests gush and compliment him on the quality of his pork dishes, savoring every bite. With scenes like that, it was screaming for a “Meals for Monsters” treatment.

Fritz would often visit the local bar for to sell some pork and maybe indulge in a schnapps. Straight schnapps, though, can be a little harsh, and you’ll get enough harshness with the movie. Hence:

SCHNAPPS PUNCH

DIRECTIONS

Mix equal parts club soda, cherry juice and grape juice. Mix in a shot of apple schnapps (or two, if you think you’ll need it to get through the movie). Enjoy!

To not have a pork recipe in here would be like Willy Wonka without the chocolate.

GERMAN BEER-BRAISED PORK RIBS

INGREDIENTS

2 slabs spare ribs
1 large bottle of German beer
6 cloves garlic, whole
3 tablespoons dried rosemary
3 tablespoons sage
Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

Cut the ribs into batches with four or five ribs apiece. Put them into a roasting pan with the beer, garlic and herbs. Cover tightly, and put in a 300 degree oven for two hours. Note—after the braising, I would recommend putting the ribs under the broiler for a couple minutes on each side. It’s not necessary, but it gives the outside a nice bit of crust. Also, they’re great served with roasted potatoes. Fingerling potatoes are great, if just for the look on the plate.

For dessert, I’ve adapted a traditional German butter cake and added some apples. This is a bit time-intensive, so, if you don’t feel like waiting, you can always have a second Schnapps Punch for dessert (or a third, if you really need it to stomach eating ribs during a cannibal movie).

BUTTERKUCHEN WITH APPLES

INGREDIENTS

4 cups flour
1 pkg instant yeast
1cups warm milk
1 ¾ cup sugar, with 1/4cup set aside
10 tablespoons butter, softened
1 egg
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 small apple, diced

DIRECTIONS

Put the flour in a mixing bowl, with a small well scooped in the middle. Inside, place yeast, milk, and a pinch of sugar. Mix together and let activate for fifteen minutes. Then add the egg, 7 tablespoons butter and 1 ½ cup sugar. Mix well (I would suggest using a stand mixer for this, if one is available). Place in a greased bowl, cover, and let rise for 30 minutes.

Start the oven preheating to 375 degrees. Flatten the dough into a greased jelly roll pan (or small, rimmed cookie sheet). Make little indentations with the tips of your fingers. Mix ¼ cup sugar and the cinnamon. Top cake with the diced apple and pinches of the remaining butter. Sprinkle with the cinnamon mixture. Allow to rest as the oven preheats.

Cook for 25-30 minutes, or until browned.

Rainer Werner Fassbinder was originally approached to direct this movie. Fassbinder, who rose to fame in Germany by making shocking films, deemed the subject matter too controversial, even for him. Instead, he produced it, hiring on one of his actors, Ulli Lommel, to direct. Rumor has it that Fassbinder is the real auteur behind TENDERNESS OF THE WOLVES. Whoever was the director isn’t important. What is important is that, as a shocking, frightening bit of cinema, it works. And while this meal might not be as masterfully prepared as Fritz’s famous dinners, at least this one won’t send you to prison.

© Copyright 2012 by Jenny Orosel

Meals For Monsters: MOTEL HELL (1980)

Posted in 1980s Horror, 2011, B-Movies, Campy Movies, Cannibalism, Jenny Orosel Columns, Meals for Monsters with tags , , , , on August 24, 2011 by knifefighter

MEALS FOR MONSTERS: MOTEL HELL (1980)
By Jenny Orosel

Everybody loves a good cannibal movie, and you can’t get much more classic than MOTEL HELL (1980).  With its blend of horror, comedy and pure absurdism, it set the bar for other horror-comedies to come in the eighties.  And nothing says, “Delicious Dinner Night” like a cannibal movie.

Vincent and Bruce Smith are brothers in a small southern town.  Bruce is a good-natured sheriff and Vincent is a hog farmer/motel owner.  His smoked meats are the best in town.  What makes his food so special?  He combines the pork with…other meats.  Those other meats come from folks driving down the lonely road running alongside the ranch.  Sure, it might be a bit unpalatable for some but “It takes all kinds of critters to make Farmer Vincent’s fritters!”  Things change when Vincent runs a busty, barely legal drifter off the road, and instead of lunch, he sees her as a possible love.  Unfortunately, so does Bruce, and their brotherly affection is put to the test.

For the cocktail, I look to the one scene with alcohol featured—Vincent slips something into the drifter’s champagne to knock her out.  This meal calls for its own champagne cocktail (without the illegal incapacitating substances, of course).

The Motel Hell Cocktail

1 part cranberry juice (or preferred derivative)

2 parts sparkling wine.

****

As far as the main course, you can’t do MOTEL HELL without making Farmer Vincent’s Fritters!

For the sauce:

1 18oz bottle barbecue sauce

1 12oz bottle of beer

Directions:

Whisk both together in a large saucepan and bring to boil (I learned the hard way that the beer mixture expands greatly when boiling.  Make sure you have plenty of room).  Reduce to simmer and cover.

For the fritters:

1 lb ground pork (regular pork, not long pig)

1 lb ground turkey

½ cup breadcrumbs

1 egg

1tbsp liquid smoke

1tsp salt

2 tsp cumin

1 tsp paprika

Directions:

Mix all ingredients in a bowl.  Form into 12 balls.

Pour just enough oil into the fry pan to just cover the bottom.  Heat at medium-high.  Brown the meatballs, turning once.  Do this a few at a time if your fry pan isn’t as big as a small doghouse.  Once meatballs are toasty on the top and bottom, put them in the sauce mixture.  When all the meatballs are in the sauce, pop the lid back on and let cook at simmering for a half hour.

Serve on toasted rolls or on top of rice.  Corn on the cob makes a tasty side, and that way you can say there’s a vegetable involved in your dinner.

The dessert didn’t come directly from the movie.  But there is one thing I’ve learned since moving to Texas—any time smoked meats are involved, there is only one acceptable dessert.  That is Southern-Style Banana Pudding.  It’s not enough for southerners to make plain banana pudding from the box.  No, they dress it up and the result is a nice, smooth finish to a hearty meat dish.

Southern-Style Banana Pudding:

2 boxes banana pudding mix

Milk

4 ripe bananas

Box of vanilla wafer cookies

Directions:

Prepare the pudding according to the instructions on the box.  In a 9×9 pan, put one layer of cookies, one layer sliced bananas (you should use two bananas per layer unless you slice them really thin) and half the pudding.  Repeat.  Put in the fridge for a few hours.  Scoop into serving bowls and top with whipped cream.

MOTEL HELL is a fun movie to watch, and would make a great party movie.  This meal can easily be adapted to fit a bunch of people.  Just be careful when wording the invitations—this is not the movie where you should say to folks, “I’d like to have you for dinner….”

© Copyright 2011 by Jenny Orosel

"Meat's meat and man's gotta eat!"

Transmissions to Earth: THREE ON A MEATHOOK (1973)

Posted in 1970s Movies, 2011, 70s Horror, Campy Movies, Cannibalism, Family Secrets, Gore!, Grindhouse, LL Soares Reviews, Low Budget Movies, Madness, Psychos, Trasmissions to Earth, Weird Movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 29, 2011 by knifefighter

TRANSMISSIONS TO EARTH: THREE ON A MEATHOOK (1973)
By L.L. Soares

"No Admittance During the Last Ten Minutes of This Movie"

Poor Billy Townsend. He’s just a young guy who wants to find a girlfriend and have a normal life. But his Dad won’t let him.

There are low-budget films, but 1973’s THREE ON A MEATHOOK looks so low-budget at times that it looks like someone’s home movies. Despite this, it’s still able to tell a story (a quality not all horror movies today can boast) and I have to admit, it’s downright funny at times (although unintentionally so).

The movie begins like a hundred other horror movies from the 70s. Four girls go to an island for a fun weekend, and their car breaks down in the middle of the woods, and night is falling. A kid in a truck named Billy (James Pickett) happens by and tells them he can’t fix their car, but they’re welcome to come stay at his house overnight until the local garage opens up in the morning. A crack of thunder convinces the girls to take him up on his offer. Besides, he’s a cute young guy. What harm can there be in staying at his house?

When they get to Billy’s house, the boy’s father (Charles Kissinger) demands that he “get upstairs” where the man lectures his son about “You know what happens when you’re around girls!” And Billy denying it and saying it’s not true.

"Not for the Bloody Mary for Lunch Bunch!"

The girls settle into their rooms and Billy brings a blanket and a pillow out to the shed outside. And then, something awful happens. Someone kills all the girls! The sexy blonde, taking a bath, gets stabbed. The other three girls get blown away by a shotgun. The next morning, Pa yells at Billy about “Look what you done!” but Billy has no memory of doing anything. As far as he knows, he was out in the shed, sleeping peacefully. But he goes inside and sees the horrible ways the girls were murdered and he’s dumbfounded by it all.

“You go into town and get some supplies, go see a movie, and I’ll take care of things here,” Pa says, assuring poor Billy that everything is going to be all right.

Billy goes to town, where he sees THE GRADUATE (1967) and then goes to a bar where he sits alone and drinks a lot. Then we see over 10 minutes of a band called American Xpress playing cheesy 70s rock onstage with occasional quick flashes back to Billy drinking.

A waitress named Sherry (Sherry Steiner) takes pity on him and asks what’s bothering him. He won’t tell her, but it’s obvious he’s a troubled lad. When he drinks too much and almost gets hauled away to the drunk tank by the police, Sherry takes him back to her place instead. He wakes up naked and asks her if they “did it,” but she assures him they didn’t. They spend the rest of the day together, and Billy thinks he’s falling in love.

He tells her about his farm and Sherry asks if she can come visit him the following Sunday. “I’ve never been on a farm before.” Billy says yes and then goes back home.

Okay, here’s where the questions start. Billy just brought four girls home and they were killed horribly. And this girl he likes asks to come over a week later and he says “Yeah, okay!” What’s up with that? You’d think he would be terrified to bring any more girls home, especially ones he likes. Is this kid an idiot?

Pa Townshend isn’t too happy to hear there are more visitors coming, and he tries to talk Billy out of it, but Billy won’t hear of it. During the week, Billy does his chores, and sometimes Pa goes into a shed he has padlocked (Billy never goes in there). Pa also is a “good cook” according to Billy and makes some very tasty “veal” dish.

Sherry comes out to visit the following Sunday. She brings her friend Becky (Madelyn Buzzard) with her. The three of them play in the cornfield and when Sherry and Billy get some time alone, they really seem to be falling for each other. Of course, something horrible happens that night, and the “secret” of the Townsend farm is revealed.

Only someone with a single-digit I.Q. wouldn’t see where this one was going early on. It’s pretty clear who the killer is from the get-go. And his reason for killing is pretty goofy. The ending to this one will at least make you laugh out loud.

With really fake-looking gore effects and mostly bad acting (there are even a few instances where the screen just goes blank for no reason), THREE ON THE MEATHOOK has one of those great grindhouse titles that is better than the actual movie. This one was written and directed by William Girdler, who went on to make such camp classics as the demonic-possession flick, ABBY (1974), the JAWS-on-land horror rip-off GRIZZLY (1976) and the goofy movie version of Graham Masterton’s Native American spirit-possession story, THE MANITOU (1978), all of which are worthy of being reviewed for this column at some point. He even directed the great Pam Grier in 1975’s  SHEBA, BABY!

"Don't Lose Your Head!" An example of the cutting-edge effects in 1973's THREE ON A MEATHOOK!

THREE ON A MEATHOOK is one of those movies that is so bad, you’ll be glad you saw it. Now let’s have some of that meat Pa’s been cooking. I hear it’s very tasting stuff.

© Copyright 2011 by L.L. Soares

THREE EXTREMES AND 3 EXTREMES II

Posted in 2010, Asian Horror, Cannibalism, Colleen Wanglund Reviews, Geisha of Gore Reviews, Takashi Miike Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 15, 2010 by knifefighter

THREE EXTREMES, SQUARED
by Colleen Wanglund, the Geisha of Gore

While in the past I have highlighted Asian horror films based on their country of origin, this time I’m going to take a look at two different movies with a mix of countries involved.  Each movie has three segments with each segment being directed by a different director from a different country.  This may get a bit confusing, but please bear with me.  THREE…EXTREMES was released in 2004 and is actually the sequel to 3 EXTREMES II released in 2002.  Throughout Asia its original title was just THREE.  The reason for the “new” titles is due to when the movies were released in the United States, with THREE…EXTREMES coming first.  While both movies are good, THREE…EXTREMES (2004) is definitely the better of the two.  I can’t believe I just said that.  If there’s one thing I hate more than remakes, its sequels.  However, you really can’t look at it as a sequel per se, as there is no continuing story.


First up is 3 EXTREMES II (2002) or THREE as it was originally called.  THREE is comprised of three segments, each around 40 minutes long.  The first segment is MEMORIES written and directed by Kim Ji-woon from Korea (who also gave us 2003’s A TALE OF TWO SISTERS).  It tells the story of a man whose wife has left him and their daughter.  The man goes to a doctor when he begins seeing things and cannot seem to remember the events surrounding his wife’s departure.  He is afraid something bad has happened to her.  A woman later wakes up on the street after it seems as though she’s been attacked and doesn’t remember how she got there.  The assumption here is that she is his missing wife.  As MEMORIES unfolds both the man and the woman begin to remember what happened to each of them

The second segment, THE WHEEL is from Thailand and was written and directed by Nonzee Nimibutr (also written by Nitas Singhamat).  Master Tao is the director of a dance/puppet troupe.  He has lost his wife and son in a drowning when Tao told them to drown the puppets and Tao is very ill.  During the funeral for his family, Tao’s house catches fire and he dies.  His brother-in-law Tong has decided to take over the troupe.  What Tong doesn’t know is that one of the puppets is cursed and it will destroy everyone it comes in contact with.  The puppet has also possessed Tong’s granddaughter and uses her to get what it wants.

The final segment is GOING HOME from Hong Kong, directed by Peter Chan and written by Teddy Chan, Matt Chow, Jo Jo Hui, and Chao-bin Su.  A cop, Wai, moves himself and his son into a building that everyone seems to be moving out of.  When Wai’s son goes missing while playing with a little girl, he goes to his neighbor Yu’s apartment looking for him.  Yu, a Chinese physician, holds Wai hostage because he’s afraid Wai will go to the police (Yu doesn’t know Wai is a cop) about his dead wife.  Yu has been caring for his wife who died of liver cancer and he expects her to revive in a couple of days.  Wai thinks Yu is a kook but just wants to find his son.  Finally the day has come for the revival and Yu releases Wai but not before his fellow cops come looking for him.  Yu is arrested and his wife’s body is taken to the morgue.  What happens next to all involved leaves Wai reeling.

Overall 3 EXTREMES II is a pretty good movie.  With each segment taken individually, though I felt MEMORIES was the weakest of the three.  The basic story was a good one, but when played out it was frustratingly slow and plodding.  There was minimal dialogue which may have been meant to heighten the suspense, but the events were ultimately predictable.  The few gore elements in the short seemed to have been added as an afterthought and seemed out of place.  Not only did I figure out the ending rather early on, but I also knew the wife was dead practically right away.   THE WHEEL was quite a spooky story because puppets and dolls in general creep me out.  Tong was a greedy man who ignored the young puppeteer Gaan when told about the possible curse on the puppet.  Made in Thailand, you get a sense of the respect given to these entertainment troupes as well as the superstition among the Thai people.  GOING HOME from Hong Kong is the best of the bunch.  The story is initially quite creepy with Yu bathing his wife, cutting her hair, and talking to her, but you start to sympathize with him.  He’s convinced his wife will revive on a day that she specified, but he has to be crazy, right?  I also felt sorry for Wai….all he wanted to do was find his missing son but inadvertently gets caught up in Yu’s delusions.  The twist ending was brilliant and quite unexpected.

THREE…EXTREMES (2004) is a better movie overall and managed to snag two very big directors.  The first segment, DUMPLINGS, comes from Hong Kong and was written by Lilian Lee and directed by Fruit Chan (who also expanded DUMPLINGS afterwards into a feature-length film).  The beautiful Ling Bai stars as Mei a sort-of witch whose dumplings promise the eater rejuvenation of their youth.  Mei’s secret ingredient is aborted fetuses (she also happens to be an abortionist).  Li, a television personality is getting older and is not happy about it.  To keep her job and the attention of her older husband Li goes to see Mei for some dumplings.  After a while Li discovers Mei’s secret but it doesn’t stop her from eating the dumplings.

The second segment is CUT from Korea and it was written and directed by Chan Wook-park (who also gave us 2003’s OLD BOY).  It opens with what appears to be a vampire, but it is only a movie.  A disgruntled bit-part actor kidnaps the movie’s director and holds him hostage on the movie set.  The director awakens to find his pianist-wife tied to a piano and is told that he has a choice to make.  In order to keep his wife from having her fingers chopped off at five minute intervals he must strangle a little boy.

BOX from Japan is the third and final segment.  It was written by Haruko Fukushima and Bun Saikou and directed by Takashi Miike (director of 1999’s AUDITION, among others).  Kyoko, a female novelist, is tormented by nightmares of her twin sister who died when they were children.  Through flashbacks we learn that the girls were circus performers and Shoko died in a fire while trapped in a small box the girls used during their performances.  Shoko appears to Kyoko briefly, which leads to the assumption that Kyoko is feeling guilty for her sister’s death.

This is definitely the stronger of the two movies, especially with the presence of Park and Miike, among the best directors in all of Southeast Asia.  DUMPLINGS tells a disturbing story of the lengths a woman will go to in order to keep the things she has in her life.  The end is amazingly horrifying as Li looks for a new source of the rejuvenation process when Mei no longer provides her dumplings.  Li actually begins to appear almost corpse-like, which only adds to the idea of her transformation into a monster.  It begs the question “What happens to women in a society that prizes youth above all else?”  CUT is a gruesome story with elements reminiscent of Italian horror.  The wife is bound and gagged and waiting to be freed by her husband….she expects him to kill the boy.  The director has a conscience, though.  He doesn’t want to see his wife suffer, but can’t bring himself to commit murder.  As the story progresses we see a crack in the façade of their marriage, but we don’t learn anything of the psycho actor’s intentions.  I also felt the segment a little long and at times a bit confusing but this was Park’s first foray into the horror genre.  It’s still a pretty good segment.  BOX is my favorite of the three….actually it’s my favorite segment from either movie.  Okay so I’m a bit biased when it comes to Takashi Miike.  Miike uses ambiguity to his advantage here as it stresses the torment Kyoko suffers.  The same actor plays both Kyoko’s editor and stepfather which leaves the viewer wondering if Kyoko is projecting some aspect of her nightmares.  There are hints of abuse and incest against the girls, but there are also hints of jealousy on the part of Kyoko towards Shoko.  The line between reality, dreams and flashbacks begins to blur and casts doubt on Kyoko’s sanity.  This is a genuinely disturbing short film and classic Miike.  He never tells a story in a straight line. While talking about BOX, Miike described his vision as a metaphor….Kyoko isn’t stuck in her situation, she’s stuck in her own body.  He says “That’s the metaphor, and the fact that you cannot get out of your own body is quite horrifying to me.”  Even death would not be a release.

While both are good movies, if you’re only going to see one definitely go for THREE…EXTREMES (2004).  While 3EXTREMES II was a good movie overall, the segment MEMORIES was weak and drags it down.  THREE…EXTREMES is strong throughout with just a slight hiccup in CUT.  Besides, how could you go wrong with a segment directed by Miike?

© Copyright 2010 by Colleen Wanglund

PONTYPOOL (2008)

Posted in 2010, Apocalyptic Films, Cannibalism, DVD Review, LL Soares Reviews, Zombies with tags , , , , , on November 23, 2010 by knifefighter

PONTYPOOL
DVD Review by L.L. Soares

Grant Mazzy (Stephen McHattie) is a disc jockey who has reached the end of his rope. After what probably was a long career, he finds himself in the small town of Pontypool in Ontario, Canada, doing a morning radio show that consists mostly of weather reports, school closings, and local actors popping in to sing songs from a musical version of LAWRENCE OF ARABIA.

In other words, he’s hit rock bottom.

Who knew the bottom would drop out completely?

PONTYPOOL (2008) begins with Mazzy firing his agent over the phone for not getting him a better gig. But he goes to work anyway. There, his uptight producer Sydney Briar (Lisa Houle) and engineer Laurel-Ann Drummond (Georgina Reilly) await. Sydney is the voice of reason, trying to reign in Mazzy’s more grandstanding moments. Laurel-Ann is young and just got back from a stint in Afghanistan and looks up to Mazzy.

It’s just another day on the air, until things begin to go wrong.

The first indication is when the guy in the “Sunshine Chopper” (actually his car) Ken Loney (voice by Rick Roberts) reports weird happenings in the middle of town. What appears to be a riot (hundreds of people surrounding a doctor’s office building). Then things turn violent. We listen in as townspeople turn into cannibalistic crazies, and Grant, Sydney and Laurel-Ann begin to realize that things are dangerous outside, and they’re trapped in the radio station.

By the time a crowd of psychos has surrounded the station, Mazzy and his companions have come to the conclusion that something is driving the people of their town insane, and this something has to do with words and some kind of virus that affects the processing of language in the human brain.

PONTYPOOL is yet another variation on the zombie story. Just when you thought the genre had exhausted any remaining traces of originality, a movie like this comes around to show you there are still some fresh ideas out there. The script by Tony Burgess (based on his novel, PONTYPOOL CHANGES EVERYTHING) is smart and well-written. Director Bruce McDonald does a fine job of creating a mood of isolation in a small radio station building in the middle of nowhere.

But the main reason to see PONTYPOOL is for the acting, especially Stephen McHattie, who does a terrific job as Grant Mazzy. McHattie is one of those character actors who looks familiar, but you might have a hard time remembering where you’ve seen him before. In McHattie’s case, there are tons of places you could have seen him, going as far back as KOJAK (1974 – 1977) and BEAUTY AND BEAST (1989 – 1990). He even had a recurring role on SEINFELD. More recently, he’s appeared in David Cronenberg’s A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE (2005),  WATCHMEN (2009) and the short-lived (and underrated) ABC TV series HAPPY TOWN (2010). This is a guy with real acting chops and it’s really good to see him in a rare lead role that shows off his talents. By the end of PONTYPOOL, I wanted to see more of McHattie.

Lisa Houle and Georgina Reilly do fine jobs with their roles, too. Houle, in particular, changes over the course of the film from a boss with a chip on her shoulder to someone who has to depend on Mazzy to find a way out of their situation, and she’s very believable and increasingly sympathetic as the movie unfolds.

I really liked PONTYPOOL and thought it was a pleasant change of pace from the usual zombie/crazies movies we’ve seen before. And the solution to the problem is as interesting and intelligent as the rest of the script.

Definitely worth checking out.

© Copyright 2010 by L.L. Soares