Archive for the Hillbillies Category

Bills’ Bizarre Bijou visits the COMMON LAW WIFE (1963)

Posted in "So Bad They're Good" Movies, 2013, 60s Movies, B-Movies, Bill's Bizarre Bijou, Campy Movies, Drive-in Movies, Exploitation Films, Hillbillies, Just Plain Fun, Revenge!, Romance, Swamp Movies, William Carl Articles with tags , , , , , , , on April 25, 2013 by knifefighter

Bill’s Bizarre Bijou

by William D. Carl

This week’s feature presentation:

COMMON LAW WIFE (1963)

VideoBox Welcome to Bill’s Bizarre Bijou, where you’ll discover the strangest films ever made.  If there are alien women with too much eye-shadow and miniskirts, if papier-mâché monsters are involved, if your local drive-in insisted this be the last show in their dusk till dawn extravaganza, or if it’s just plain unclassifiable – then I’ve seen it and probably loved it.   Now, I’m here to share these little gems with you, so you too can stare in disbelief at your television with your mouth dangling open.  Trust me, with these flicks, you won’t believe your eyes.

In the wild, wild world of exploitation films, bits and pieces of one movie can often make a ‘guest appearance’ in another film, spliced into the new film as padding for the running time, or as a way to save on the budget.  Most of the time, this created annoying sequences that have nothing to do with the movie you’re viewing at your local drive-in, distractions to the main plot.  Other times, the footage was inserted so well a casual viewer never noticed he’d been duped.  A lot of film buffs, such as me and you, my fans in the dark, take great pleasure in noticing such scenes and shouting out, “Hey, that was stolen from INVASION OF THE STAR CREATURES!”  It’s a fine, old exploitation tradition, and we at the Bijou salute the filmmakers who managed to pull it off.

In 1960, Larry Buchanan, the infamous director of such sublimely awful fare as THE NAKED WITCH (1961), ZONTAR, THING FROM VENUS (1966), MARS NEEDS WOMEN (1967), and THE LOCH NESS HORROR (1981) started shooting a hicksloitation epic called SWAMP ROSE.  Starring Lacey Kelley (NUDE ON THE MOON – 1961, THE DEAD ONE – 1961), the unfinished film dealt with a moonshiner obsessed with a woman of easy virtue.  This footage was purchased by M.A. Ripps, who wanted to make it into a hit drive-in feature, as he so famously transformed the movie BAYOU into POOR WHITE TRASH (1957).  New director Eric Sayers used many Buchanan regulars: (Anabelle Weenik (going by Anne MacAdams) of CREATURE OF DESTRUCTION (1967), A BULLET FOR PRETTY BOY (1970), DON’T LOOK IN THE BASEMENT (1973); Max W. Anderson of HIGH YELLOW (1965), IN THE YEAR 2889 – (1967); and THE NAKED WITCH herself Libby Hall (as Libby Booth)).  Sayers shot a whole new storyline with these actors, including an unbilled woman to take Lacey Kelley’s role (and they don’t look much alike) using only bits and pieces of Larry Buchanan’s SWAMP ROSE.  There is a scene with Lacey Kelley walking down the street, her boom-boppa-boom stride mocked by a little girl, some scenes in a park, and a chase between a crazed hillbilly moonshiner attacking Lacey that make up most of the old footage.  Everything else is newly shot with actors from other movies.  Confused yet?  You won’t be once you watch COMMON LAW WIFE (1963), Sayers’ adults-only white-trash melodrama set in Texas.  It’s easily one of the greatest exploitation films from the period.  Other than a few film stock mis-matches and a character that switches actresses several times, you’d never know this was once two films edited into one trashy grindhouse gem.

But what about the story of COMMON LAW WIFE?

The film opens on a typical night at the Raineys’ rather tacky abode.  Old man Shug is playing darts in his bathrobe before drinking the biggest damn glass of wine in existence.  When his live-in mistress, Linda, tells him he’s not supposed to drink, he throws five darts at her head, embedding them into the wicker chair behind her.  He asks, “Do you want me to put one right between your eyes?”  Turns out, she’s lived with him for five years, and it’s taken a toll on her beauty.  He wants her to get out so his niece Jonelle (“Call me Baby Doll”) can come live with him.  “What’s she got?’ she shrieks.  Shug answers, “My attention right now, which you haven’t.”  Linda, shocked says, “Why she’s your own blood niece!  That’s incest!”  He replies, “Words don’t mean much to me.  I’ve already sent for Baby Doll.  Go pack your things.”

In New Orleans, we are introduced to Jonelle, a gorgeous stripper in a nightclub who resembles Traci Lords.  She packs her dresses and heads for rural Texas to stay with her uncle (Eww).  Turns out, Jonelle’s sister, Brenda, is married to the Sheriff, Jodi, who was having flings with both sisters during high school.  Jodi’s more than a little interested in rekindling his torrid affair with Jonelle, while good wife Brenda stays at home.

Shug and Jonelle, what a cute couple!

Shug and Jonelle, what a cute couple! (Ewwww)

Meanwhile, Linda consults a lawyer and discovers she’s lived long enough with Mr. Shug Rainey to be his common-law wife.  Mrs. Rainey buys herself a wedding ring and informs Shug that she is his legal wife, and if he wants his niece serving him in his house (Eww), he has to divorce her and pay alimony or give her the house.  Secretly, though I have no idea why, she loves the old dude.

Jonelle kick-starts her affair with Jodi (what a nice sisterly thing to do), but she throws a hissy fit after he says he doesn’t want to help her murder Shug for the old man’s money.  In spite, she gets up and starts stripping and dancing in front of what looks like several farmers and their wives who are either shocked or bemused.  She leaves with another old beau, Bull, who takes her out to the swamp to see his moonshine still.  Ah, romance in Texas!  When he gets fresh, she runs away through the swamp.  This whole part is Larry Buchanan’s, and it’s a bit rougher and grittier than the newer footage. 

She runs all the way back to her sister’s house (the actress changes here), but Brenda has figured out what’s happening between her husband and Jonelle.  She tosses her sister out of her house, but not before Jonelle steals the booze.  With nowhere to go, Jonelle hunts down Bull and they return to the swamp (wait, wait, didn’t he try to rape her the previous night?  Ah, romance in Texas!) 

The original Jonelle.

The original Jonelle.

Jodi goes after her (the heel!) and tracks her to Bull’s house, where a gunfight erupts over Jonelle.  He abducts her to his home, where the cold facts about their past relationship come to light.  Brenda catches them together and holds them at gunpoint!

Will Jonelle get one over on Linda?  Who will get old man Shug Rainey’s money when he dies? What about the cyanide-laced bottle of whiskey?  Will we ever get to see a full print of SWAMP ROSE?  Probably not, but this common-law version is a real hoot!

COMMON LAW WIFE is filled with great, hateful dialogue delivered in authentic, delightful accents.  It was Grace Nolan’s only writing credit, and I wish there’d been a lot more.  Some choice cuts of the nasty, mean-spirited dialog include:

“I was a stray cat lookin’ for a home, and I took it however I could.”

“Folks around here might think the circus has come to town.”  “They might be right!”

“From now on, this is my house.  And I don’t want any tramps hangin’ around it!”

“The only way I’ll see any of that old man’s body is over his stinkin’ dead body.”

“You couldn’t hit a bull with a bass fiddle.  Let alone that cap gun.”

“I met a couple of strangers in town today, and they claimed they didn’t know you.  You want their names so you can bat a thousand?”

“You’ve put on weight.  City food must be good.”

“A girl can learn a lot of lessons in the dark.”

Vengeance, thy name is Linda!

Vengeance, thy name is Linda!

The black and white photography is crisp and full of noir shadows.  The music is great jazz, heavy on the sax and trumpet, but the composer is unbilled.  Who knows where that great score came from?  The acting is campy and over-the-top, as it should be in a swamp melodrama like this one.  And the ending is brutal and shocking in a way few films of that era ever were.  COMMON LAW WIFE may be confusing sometimes, what with actresses switching and film stock not matching, but it’s loads of fun.  It’s like Douglas Sirk on tainted moonshine. 

I give COMMON LAW WIFE three and a half revolving actresses out of four.

© Copyright 2013 by William D. Carl

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THE CABIN IN THE WOODS (2012)

Posted in 2012, Cinema Knife Fights, Fun Stuff!, Gore!, Hillbillies, Joss Whedon, Monsters, Supernatural, Surprises!, Twist Endings, Zombies with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 16, 2012 by knifefighter

CINEMA KNIFE FIGHT: THE CABIN IN THE WOODS (2012)
By Michael Arruda and L.L. Soares

(THE SCENE: A cabin in the middle of the woods. MICHAEL ARRUDA has just arrived, to find L.L. SOARES sitting in front the fire, reading a collection of H.P. Lovecraft stories)

MA: Nice to see you’re so comfortable. It took me forever to find this place.

LS: I know, I’ve been here for three days now. Did you get lost or something?

MA: This place isn’t on any map or GPS that I know of. How did you get here anyway?

LS: I borrowed THE FLY’s teleportation machine.

MA: That explains why you didn’t need a map.  Whoa!  You borrowed THE FLY’s teleportation machine?

LS:  Clean that wax out of your ears, son, that’s what I said.

MA:  That didn’t work out so well for Seth Brundle.  There weren’t any flies in there with you, were there?

LS:  No.  But there was this tarantula, and a scorpion.  Is that bad?

MA:  Aren’t you worried that you’ve somehow all been jumbled together, and that now you might be sharing some of their DNA?

LS (burps):  Not really.

MA:  Are you telling me that you—?

LS:  Yep.  They’re just delicious when you add some of Stubbs’ barbecue sauce.  Anyway, do you want me to start the review while you’re getting settled?

MA: Sure.  Man, you must have a stomach made of iron.

LS: This week’s movie is THE CABIN IN THE WOODS, and it’s the first movie directed by Drew Goddard, who mainly was a writer before this. He wrote CLOVERFIELD (2008), a movie we both liked a lot.

MA:  Yep, CLOVERFIELD was one of my favorite horror movies of the last decade.

LS:  CABIN is also written by Joss Whedon, who created shows like BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER and ANGEL two shows that Goddard also wrote for. And Whedon will be directing THE AVENGERS movie next month, too!

MA:   Goddard co-wrote the screenplay with Whedon.  In addition to writing CLOVERFIELD, Goddard also wrote several episodes of the TV show LOST, and I thought there were parts of this movie that reminded me of LOST.

LS:  THE CABIN IN THE WOODS starts out kind of strangely, as we see a group of scientists taking a lunch break before they go back to work. These are Hadley (Bradley Whitford) and Sitterson (Richard Jenkins) and they seem to be in charge of some strange experiment.

MA:  Strange is the operative word here.  The movie opens and I’m thinking, what an odd way to get this one started, but it caught my attention, and so I guess it worked!

LS:  Then the story shifts to five college kids who decide to take a weekend “off the grid,” kicking back at a secluded cabin in the middle of nowhere, which belongs to one of the kids’ cousin. They include  Jules (Anna Hutchison), a sexy, flirty co-ed who just dyed her hair blonde; her roommate Dana (Kristen Connolly), a slightly less outgoing, innocent-seeming redhead; Jules’ boyfriend Curt (Chris Hemsworth—yes, THOR himself), a jock;  Curt’s friend Holden (Jesse Williams) who Jules and Curt are trying to fix up with Dana; and fifth wheel, Marty (Fran Kranz) who is smart and a smart aleck and he smokes a lot of weed, and I wasn’t really sure why he was going along with them, but he’s a welcome addition to the group, as far as I’m concerned.

MA: Yeah, he’s the most fun— and refreshing— character in the movie.

LS:  They take an RV out to the country, where they come upon your typical, cliché’ redneck gas station owner, Mordecai (Tim De Zarn) who sets the creepy mood, and you just know these kids are in for some trouble.

MA:  This is the scene where I almost groaned out loud.  I’ve seen so many scenes like this one; it’s almost painful to sit through any more, so when this movie took this scene and did something completely different with it later, it was that much more refreshing.

(There is a knock at the cabin door.  MA opens door to find a redneck gas station owner at the door, and behind him his redneck son, behind him another old man, and on and on the line goes.)

REDNECK MAN:  This is no place for strangers!

REDNECK SON:  My advice to you is to turn around and go back to where you came from.

OLD MAN:  Turn back before ye perish!

EVEN OLDER MAN: You’ll be sorrrrry!

SKELETON IN OVERALLS: Don’t say we didn’t warn you!

MA:  I think I’m going to throw up.  (Slams door in their faces.)

LS: Yeah, I’m sick to death of those guys, too. Get a life! And get some teeth!

Anyway, like I was saying, you know these kids are headed for trouble. The thing is, what kind of trouble is something a little bit different than what we usually see in these kinds of movies. You might go in expecting yet another retread of THE EVIL DEAD or something along the lines of Eli Roth’s CABIN FEVER, but instead, we get something different than we’re expecting. This ties in to the fact that there are two smart, creative guys at the helm of this one, and they’re determined not to give us something we’ve seen before.

During a game of Truth or Dare, the kids find a doorway into a basement. When they go down to explore, they find lots of very strange artifacts, which will somehow decide their fate, depending on which one they choose. Dana picks up a diary of a girl who lived in the cabin back in 1908, and it’s rather disturbing. Meanwhile, outside, some strange figures start shuffling around, holding some vicious-looking weapons.

Beyond that, I don’t want to say too much, except that the kids in the cabin, the creatures stalking them, and the scientists back at the underground lab are closely linked, and that there really is a reason why all this is going on. A very cool reason. And I figured it out by the half-way mark, but that didn’t affect my enjoyment of this movie at all.

Not only is the directing and writing very good here, the acting isn’t too bad, either. I really enjoyed the interaction between Jenkins and Whitford as the scientists, who also involve their fellow employees in their activities. These are two good actors who turn in good performances.

MA:  I agree.  I thought veterans Richard Jenkins (who was in LET ME IN (2010), and received an Oscar nomination for Best Actor in THE VISITOR (2007), not too shabby), Bradley Whitford (who most people will recognize from TV’s THE WEST WING) were excellent and lent credibility to the proceedings.  They definitely help make the unbelievable seem believable.  Credit here also goes to the writing, which gives them plenty of lively lines to deliver.

LS:  The kids aren’t too bad, either. Hutchison as Jules is very sexy and Hemsworth is a muscular alpha male as Curt.

MA:  Yes, no doubt about it, Hutchison is hot.  The scene where she makes out with a stuffed wolf’s head in a game of truth or dare is worth the price of admission all by itself!

And I liked Hemsworth as Curt too.  Most jocks in these films are jerks.  Hemsworth makes Curt pretty likeable.

LS:  I wasn’t as impressed with Jesse Williams as Holden – he was okay, but nothing special. The two best performances here, however, are Kristen Connolly as the “virginal” Dana, who gets tough when she has to, and Kranz (who Whedon fans will recognize as Topher from the short-lived but really good series DOLLHOUSE). He pretty much steals every scene he’s in, and was my favorite character.

MA:  I agree with you wholeheartedly here.

LS:  Wholeheartedly?  That reminds me!  (Suddenly there is a bloody heart on LS’ plate next to a bottle of barbecue sauce.) Thanks, I didn’t want it to spoil.

MA: Where did that come from? That’s not yours, is it?

LS: Of course not! Mine isn’t this big. I had it in my pocket for a snack. And right about now, when you’re just about to go into a long rant, is as good a time as any for the munchies.

MA:  Long rant? I’ll save those for when I don’t like something!  Anyway, as I was saying, the two leads are excellent.   Kranz nearly steals the movie as Marty, a character who’s stoned most of the time.  Yet, this turns out to help him later in the story.  Hmm, a subtle plug for medical marijuana, perhaps?  (laughs) Kranz is funny, likeable, and best of all, refreshing.  He provides the film with its best moments.

LS: He was great on DOLLHOUSE, too. I’d love to see Kranz become a star because of his performance here.

MA: Kristen Connolly is also excellent as Dana.  She enjoys the best of both worlds in this movie, as she’s pretty hot herself, and yet she’s strong, capable, and more than holds her own when the going gets rough.  She’s also smart.

LS: Yeah, she is pretty hot, too. Gotta love a redhead. And I liked her character a lot.

MA: Nice job by both these actors. There’s also a surprise cameo appearance at the end that’s been generating some excitement.

LS: Yeah, except I didn’t find it very exciting. The person who shows up isn’t that big a deal, since he/she has been in these kinds of movies before. It certainly wasn’t as big a deal as Bill Murray’s appearance in ZOMBIELAND (2009). I don’t even know why we’re keeping it a secret.
MA: Yeah, I didn’t think it was a big deal, either.

LS:  The movie has its fair share of scares and laughs, and knows how to balance the two of them effectively. And the fact that there are some genuine surprises here means that CABIN is a movie you can really enjoy. It’s smarter than the usual Hollywood horror flick, and I enjoyed it a lot. In fact, I give it three and a half knives!

What did you think of it, Michael?

MA:  I enjoyed it too, but I didn’t love it.

LS:  Of course you didn’t.  (starts eating the heart)

MA:  THE CABIN IN THE WOODS is definitely different.  As advertised, it offers a refreshing take on the usual tale of young people trapped in a haunted cabin in the middle of nowhere.  For that, I commend the filmmakers, and I really did like this movie.

It’s just that, I’m not sure that I bought it all.  What was going on behind the scenes, in those scenes with Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford, bordered a bit too much on fantasy for my tastes.  Now, I know you won’t like this comparison, but some of the stuff was reminiscent of MEN IN BLACK, only better.  MEN IN BLACK was science fiction and it was pure comedic fluff, while THE CABIN IN THE WOODS is horror and never strays down the road to goofiness.  That being said, I still had a hard time accepting some of the things that happen in this movie once the explanations start rolling in.

LS: MEN IN BLACK? Did you really need to go there?

MA: Sorry, but I think I did.

(There is a knock on the door, and when MA opens it, there is a brutish BIG ZOMBIE standing in the doorway)

BIG ZOMBIE (to LS): You gonna eat that heart?

LS (talks with his mouth full): Way ahead of you. And I’m not sharing!

BIG ZOMBIE: Dammit!

(BIG ZOMBIE growls and skulks away)

MA: I actually bought into THE HUNGER GAMES more.  That was a movie that I thought I was not going to believe, but that one, with its combination of strong acting, writing, and directing, convinced me that those deadly games were in fact real.  THE HUNGER GAMES had more of an edge, I think, than THE CABIN IN THE WOODS, which as much as I liked it, would have been better served had it had a jagged edge of its own.

But I really enjoyed THE CABIN IN THE WOODS.  I enjoyed it a lot.  It’s a really creative flick, and it would be difficult not to like this movie.

I said earlier it reminded me a bit of LOST, in that you have a group of characters stuck in a situation that they at first think they know about and have a handle on, but soon they realize there is so much more going on, and it’s way more complicated than what they first thought.  At one point, one of the characters remarks that they’re like puppets, manipulated by outside forces, which reminded me of the survivors on LOST when they were dealing with “the Others” early in that show.

LS: Yes, I see what you mean about the LOST comparison, although I thought the ending of THE CABIN IN THE WOODS was more satisfying than the ending of LOST.

MA: And like CLOVERFIELD, which was also written by Drew Goddard, THE CABIN IN THE WOODS has well-written characters and fun, lively dialogue.

I thought the special effects were also very good.  I liked the monsters and creatures in this one and thought they looked genuinely scary for the most part. They were credible.

LS: I wish we’d gotten to see more of them!

MA: Not so credible is the plot.  Ultimately, did I really buy all that was happening?  And the answer to that question is no, I didn’t.  Because while the film never breaks out into a full-fledged spoof/comedy— it does get the humor right, and it’s smart in that the dark elements of the movie remain dark— it’s difficult to take the proceedings all that seriously once you learn the secret of what’s ultimately going on.

I liked THE CABIN IN THE WOODS for what it was— a wild, over the top, creative horror movie, but had it somehow been more believable, I would have loved it.

I give it three knives.

LS: Yeah, I liked this one a bit more than you did. But at least we can agree that it’s a lot of fun and that the folks out there should check this movie out.

MA:  Yes, it’s definitely worth checking out!

(There’s another knock at the door)

MA: I wonder who it is now.

(Outside the door, lots of REDNECKS and ZOMBIES are playing outside on the front lawn)

LS: What’s going on here?

REDNECK MAN: What does it look like?

REDNECK SON: We’re havin’ a picnic.

OLD MAN: Yeah, and we brought all the fixins’

EVEN OLDER MAN: We even brought the grill!

SKELETON IN OVERALLS: I can’t wait to eat. I’m starvin’ right to death.

REDNECK MAN: Yep, my great great grandpa needs to put some meat on those bones.

MA: That’s all well and good, but it looks like you’ve forgotten the most important part.  The food!  There’s no meat on the grill.

LS: Yeah, what are we supposed to be eating?

REDNECK MAN: Well, you’re not going to be eatin’ anything.

BIG ZOMBIE: We’re gonna be eatin’ you!

(CLOSE-UP of a LITTLE BOY ZOMBIE licking his lips)

MA (to camera): Gotta go!

(MA and LS run away in fast motion as the ZOMBIES and REDNECKS look on in bewilderment)

-END-

© Copyright 2012 by Michael Arruda and L.L. Soares

Michael Arruda gives THE CABIN IN THE WOODS ~ three knives!

LL Soares gives THE CABIN IN THE WOODS ~three and a half knives.

Suburban Grindhouse Memories: EVILS OF THE NIGHT (1985)

Posted in "So Bad They're Good" Movies, 1980s Horror, 2012, Aliens, Bad Acting, Campy Movies, Grindhouse Goodies, Hillbillies, Low Budget Movies, Nick Cato Reviews, Sexy Stars, Suburban Grindhouse Memories, Vampires with tags , , , , , , , on April 5, 2012 by knifefighter

SUBURBAN GRINDHOUSE MEMORIES
TV Stars vs. Porn Stars vs. Hillbilly Mechanics vs. Aliens!
By Nick Cato

1985 was a great year for horror films.  We fans were treated to theatrical releases of George Romero’s DAY OF THE DEAD, Lamberto Bava’s DEMONS, Stuart Gordon’s RE-ANIMATOR, and Dan O’Bannon’s RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD…and those were just the tip of the iceberg.  It seemed every week a winner was coming down the pike—but, of course, I managed to stumble across a real clunker that caused me to doubt my fellow man’s sanity.

While Friday night audiences were wrapped around the block trying to get into sold-out screenings of the second A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET film, my buddies and I decided to wait till Monday and instead hit the (now defunct) Amboy Twin Cinema for EVILS OF THE NIGHT, one in a series of exploitation films that reeled idiots like myself in primarily with its poster art (see above).  With a rip-off of STAR WARS’ Millennium Falcon spaceship, a poor girl with spike-like nipples being drained of blood as skeleton hands grab for her, there was just NO WAY I was going to miss this.  And when I squinted hard enough that I could read some of the stars (who are all hear simply for a paycheck), I was convinced we had another “so-bad-it’s good” epic on our hands.

Well, it truly is a BAD film.  But if you like bottom-of-the-barrel rip-offs, it doesn’t get much more entertaining than this.

Director Mardi Rustam (who had produced several genre titles before this directorial debut) delivers this ode to old-school SciFi films by featuring John Carradine as the main alien who has come to earth seeking teenage flesh and blood for use in some kind of anti-aging youth serum (or something like that…the plot’s all over the place).  His assistants are Julie Newmar of TV’s BATMAN and Tina Louise of GILLIGAN’S ISLAND fame.  Their acting here is as atrocious as the lesser known “teenagers,” several of whom were played by popular (at the time) porno stars, such as Amber Lynn, Jerry Butler, and Crystal Breeze, who gets the WORST ACTING IN THIS FILM award for her facial expressions as she’s strangled by a hillbilly mechanic as her boyfriend takes her from behind.  Don’t ask…

But since you did, the hillbilly mechanics are conned by our alien trio to help them collect fresh corpses.  Neville Brand (who is as uninteresting here as he was in Tobe Hooper’s overrated flop, EATEN ALIVE (1977)) and Aldo Ray (fresh off another celluloid abortion, 1984’s FRANKENSTEIN’S GREAT AUNT TILLIE) play the bumbling overalls-wearing mechanics, who had the crowd shouting insults every time they decided to abduct a teenager by such hi-tech means as frayed rope and pillow cases.  I mean, let’s get serious here for two seconds: IF a trio of aliens forced me to go out and abduct teenagers, and I was slightly overweight and could hardly run, I’d SURELY demand they give me one of their ray guns or space-age stun phasers…but apparently Carradine and Company come from a planet that’s as cheap as their spaceship and the run-down hospital where they’ve chosen to base their intergalactic operation out of.

I never thought I’d say this, but the “blood-draining” techniques used here PALE in comparison to those used in 1972’s notorious INVASION OF THE BLOOD FARMERS…and trust me if you haven’t seen either film, this IS saying something!

But good ‘ol Mardi Rustam (who would mercifully direct only two more films) had an ace up his sleeve: he KNEW the SciFi here was lame.  He KNEW the horror in his stink-fest was non-existent.  So he figured he’d grab some porn stars to do a few nude scenes, and Presto! EVILS OF THE NIGHT became as racy (sex-wise) as PORKY’S (1982) and a host of other teenage sex comedies that flooded the early 80s market.  Word of mouth (at least in my neck of the woods) spoke more of the lesbian beach sequence than it did of aliens draining teenage blood: more people rented this on VHS a few months after its theatrical release due to Crystal Breeze’s aforementioned doggie-style sex scene, and Amber Lynn’s romp in the boat house segment, than they did for any other reason.  Because, there really IS no other reason to see EVILS OF THE NIGHT, unless, of course, you get demented pleasure in seeing former TV and movie stars going down like the Hindenburg in a last ditch effort to save their careers (although John Carradine had already starred in plenty of Z-grade films, so we’ll let him slide).

Ironically (OR, was it planned?), Tobe Hooper’s LIFEFORCE, a very GOOD film about space vampires, was released a few months before this putrid platter of pus.  Perhaps give that one a shot if you haven’t.

Unless you’re a true masochist for horrendous Sci-Fi/horror/soft porn films, definitely PASS on this one, should you encounter a DVD or late night cable screening.

© Copyright 2012 by Nick Cato

Julie Newmar, John Carradine (in funky space suit) and Tina Louise discuss what to do with a teenage corpse in EVILS OF THE NIGHT.

TUCKER AND DALE VS. EVIL

Posted in 2011, Campy Movies, Gore!, Hillbillies, Horror-Comedies, Just Plain Fun, LL Soares Reviews, Nick Cato Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on October 4, 2011 by knifefighter

TUCJCINEMA KNIFE FIGHT: TUCKER AND DALE VS. EVIL (2011)
By L.L. Soares and Nick Cato

(THE SCENE: A fishing hole in the deep South. L.L. SOARES and NICK CATO are dressed in overalls as hillbillies, sitting in a boat and fishing)

LS: I haven’t gotten a bite all day.

NC: What are you using for bait?

LS: A copy of your novel, DON OF THE DEAD.

NC: Silly guy. Fish don’t read.

LS: Oh. That explains an awful lot.

NC: Don’t worry about the fishing. We’re really hear to review the new movie TUCKER AND DALE VS. EVIL. This one is in limited release in select cities throughout the country, as well as being available on various cable systems’ “OnDemand” service. Which is how we saw it, thanks to our cable company, Comcast.

LS: Yep, we got to enjoy this one in the comfort of our own homes. Which reminds me, it sure isn’t very comfortable out here in the middle of this river, getting eaten alive by bugs.

NC: I told you to put on some Raid before we left the shore.

LS: Raid? I thought you said we were going to finally get PAID. Which is why I agreed to do two Cinema Knife Fights in one weekend.

NC: Well, this is going to have to be a quick one. I got a date with Ellie Mae Clampett tonight. And you know how she hates to be kept waiting.

LS: Ellie Mae? I thought I saw you smooching with Granny!

NC: You’ve been drinking too much moonshine, buddy. Why don’t I start this one?

LS: Be my guest. (Pulls out a giant jug with three X’s on it and takes a gulp).

NC: As a life-long connoisseur of humorous horror films, I approach each one with a bit of hope that it won’t be a total waste of time (as the majority of them are). While only a select few have been noteworthy in my book [among my personal favorites are STUDENT BODIES (1981), PSYCHOS IN LOVE (1986) and SHAUN OF THE DEAD (2004)], I didn’t have high hopes for TUCKER & DALE VS. EVIL for two reasons: one being the trailer was better than most films. Could a movie possibly be this good for 90 minutes?  The second being its standard “Three’s Company” sitcom-misunderstanding plot.

But may I be pierced by a hillbilly’s nail gun! TUCKER & DALE VS. EVIL took a simple sitcom concept, added a classic slasher film “20-years ago” back story, and delivered two of the most likeable redneck buddies to grace the screen since I can remember.

Tyler Labine (who has been acting on TV shows since 1991) stars as Dale, and is impossible not to like.

LS: Yeah, I’ve been a fan of Labine’s for awhile now. He’s been acting since the 90s, like you said, but I first noticed him in the underrated ABC series INVASION (2005 – 2006), where he really stood out as Dave Groves, and I thought he was the best thing in REAPER (2007 – 2009), another show that was canceled before its time. From the start, Labine has shown a strong ability to be funny as well as serious, so he’s a great choice for TUCKER AND DALE.

NC: Same goes for his buddy Tucker, played by Alan Tudyk, who is also very likable here. At the start of TUCKER AND DALE, he convinces Dale to go talk to a pretty college girl (played by Katrina Bowden) at a gas station. When she and her college buddies think the two rednecks are a couple of dangerous creeps, they take off, leaving Dale to continue to believe he’s nothing but a backwoods loser.

LS: It doesn’t help that when he approaches them, he’s carrying a scythe. He doesn’t even realize it, because he’s so nervous.

NC: Yep. But losers are the furthest thing from what these two guys are. In fact, they’ve both saved their hard-earned blue collar money to buy a fix ‘er up vacation cabin in the woods; they may look low class, but they’re each “living the good life” as they know it.

LS: Alan Tudyk has done a lot of television work as well, and he’s really good here, too. He was in a lot of shows I liked like STRANGERS WITH CANDY (1999 – 2000), Joss Whedon’s FIREFLY (2002 – 2003), and the criminally short-lived DOLLHOUSE (2009 – 2010), also by Joss Whedon, where he played one of my favorite characters, the villainous Alpha! He’s even in the new ABC comedy series SUBERGATORY.

As for Katrina Bowden, she is a friggin knockout! She’s a regular on the NBC series 30 ROCK, and will be in this fall’s horror movie sequel, PIRANHA 3DD. Which is fine by me. The more we see of Ms. Bowden, the better, I say!

NC: When they go fishing one night, they come across the college kids skinny-dipping on their property. When Dale sees Allison (the girl he tried to talk to at the gas station) fall off a rock and get knocked out, he dives in and rescues her. But her friends see something else: they see two demented rednecks kidnapping their friend.

The rest of TUCKER & DALE VS. EVIL features Allison’s friends trying to rescue her, each one accidentally killing themselves in insane ways. But Dale and Tucker have no idea what’s going on and are convinced Allison’s friends have some kind of suicide pact going on—and that, for some reason, they brought Allison to the woods to kill her.

LS: Yeah, basically, the college kids die in horrible ways trying to fight back against the “hillbilly killers” they perceive Tucker and Dale to be. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. These two guys are sweet-natured lugs who just want to make friends

NC: With plenty of laughs, buckets of gore (some of the splatter effects being genuinely disturbing in a dark humored sort-of way), and a script that was MUCH better than anyone would think for this type of film, I was pleasantly surprised with the results—and I enjoyed the film’s underlying message of the working man’s pride and success being possible outside of a college education.

LS: You make it sound like a commercial for a trade school. But it’s actually a lot of fun. One scene where a kid ends up in a wood chipper (I won’t give away how he gets there), had me laughing out loud. There are a lot of funny moments in TUCKER AND DALE VS. EVIL, and several of them involve plenty of blood. Laughs and gore—two of my favorite things.

This movie is pretty much a one-joke comedy, but it’s so well done and well-written, that the joke works fine throughout the film, and you really find yourself rooting for Tucker and Dale to win against the college kids!

Another great performance, by the way, was by Jesse Moss as Chad, the most gung ho/psychotic of the “kids.” He was in one of my favorite recent werewolf movies, 2000’s GINGER SNAPS, and was in the short-lived Eliza Dushku series TRU CALLING (2004). He actually reminded me a lot of a young Tom Cruise, and he brings a tremendous amount of energy to the role. I thought Moss  was terrific in this movie.

NC: I’m glad you mentioned that wood chipper scene, which in itself was WAY more entertaining than the entire, seldom-seen 1988 waste of time, WOOD CHIPPER MASSACRE.

Humorous horror films don’t hit the mark all too often. For that reason alone, TUCKER & DALE is must viewing. I give it three and a half knives.

LS: That’s funny, because I give it three and a half knives, too! What are the chances of that?  I enjoyed this one, and thought it should have gotten a normal theatrical release. I think TUCKER AND DALE VS. EVIL is one of the better horror movies of this year so far. At least it was an original idea! How often do you see that anymore.

Director Eli Craig did a great job here. I hardly ever say this, but I really hope they make a sequel to this one.

NC: Oh well, we’re done fishing for today, it’s time to go home.

LS: Yep, so long folks. See you next time on Cinema Knife Fight. Y’all come back now, you hear?

(LS’s fishing pole starts to vibrate violently)

LS: I got me a nibble!

NC: Bring it in! Bring it in!

(LS reels it in and a humungous alligator climbs up into their boat, capsizing it)

LS: Sheee-oot! How was I to know that gators knew how to read?

NC: Shut up and keep swimming!

-END-

© Copyright 2011 by L.L. Soares and Nick Cato

L.L. Soares and Nick Cato both give TUCKER AND DALE VS. EVIL ~ three and a half knives!