02 October 2014


Do you like those old men's action mags from the 60's? You know the type. Nazi's feeding white girls to baboons while our shirtless hero sneaks up from behind with a revolver and knife. Well, I recall thumbing through a few of them and the interiors were basically wanting in anything of substance, but those darn covers (and some of the inside illustrations) were simply awesome to behold. Okay, I mean they were pretty sick, and twisted and misogynistic and all, but over all I liked 'em. I put together an assortment of covers and interior artwork without all the distracting blurbs. Just the paintings and drawing themselves. In all their horrific, sexist, racist grandeur. Yea, they don't make 'em like this anymore.These may be mostly some sort of reproductions according to some little watermark on most of the pictures, perhaps using Photoshop, but they are still pretty cool.


I am no stranger to the original Maniac film and reviewed it some time ago here at The Uranium Café. I will have to mention that film a bit more later on and be forced at times to make comparisons between the two films, but let me get on with my introductory babble and get it out of the way. I like to skim over the opening credits of films to see what I can catch and noticed that William Lustig also helped with producing this remake, and C.A. Rosenberg is listed as one of the screen writers on Wikipedia, this being noteworthy as he helped to pen the original script along with film star Joe Spinell. Film director Franck Khalfoun only has two other films under his belt, Wrong Turn at Tahoe, which I have not seen yet,  and the fairly decent thriller P2.  When all is said and done I have to say that while I did not dislike the film I am not going to rant about what a stylistic work of genius it is or that it is the best study of a serial killer ever made. On some levels the film worked well enough for me but not on all by any stretch. In fact I stopped watching the film initially as the whole extreme POV (Point Of View in hip film jargon) gimmick –and it was just an artsy-fartsy gimmick- got on my nerves. So lets explore that a bit since that is what most of the ranting –pro or con- is about with this film. (I will not be doing much of a synopsis on this film for two reasons: 1) I will assume most readers of this blog are sick enough that they have seen the original more than once, as I have, and 2) I am trying to explore some new ways to write about films that do not involve too much story retelling or spoiling scenes for people who have not seen the film yet.)

The original 1980 film Maniac was not the first thriller/horror film to have the story told from the killer’s point of view. It is not a long list of films however and off the top of my head I can only recall Michael Powell’s excellent film Peeping Tom as being focused on the killer as the main character. That is why the original Maniac, as well as the remake, are not really slasher/body count films in the strict sense of the term, where the focus is more on "developing the characters" and displaying their hooter before the masked, identityless killer begins knocking them off one by one. It can probably get a little weird to see into the world of a demented serial killer like Maniac’s Frank Zito. One does sort of wonder what do slashers and stalkers do when they are not hacking up women or teenagers. Well Frank likes to sit around and cuddle with mannequins adorned with the bloody scalps of his recent victims and cry as he remembers his mommy. In the original we get to see sleazy, oily Joe Spinell doing all of this, but in the remake what happens is the whole film –except, I think, for a couple brief scenes- is that the story is not only told from the POV of the killer –played by possibly miscast Elijah Wood in this case- but from inside his friggin’ eyeballs. This becomes either a stroke of brilliance or a goddamned nuisance, depending on your temperament as a film viewer. I tried to give it all the benefit of the doubt but in the end it just got boring and annoying for me. It certainly could have worked at times, but in the end I just wanted to see the actor playing the killer and earning his paycheck.

I also got a bit creeped out with all the victims staring at me and talking to me directly. I know, I know we can go on about how that was the director’s intent and how it gets you thinking and starts dialogs and all that crap, but in the end it just did not work for me as a story telling method. As one reviewer noted, it seems like one of those weird interactive video games, and in this case I am some sort of totally freaky serial killer scalping girls and impaling them repeatedly with my Rambo knife. It reeks more of gimmickry and film school experimentation than good narrative film making. And in the end why even have a name actor in the lead role? You get glimpses of Wood staring back at himself in mirrors –mirrors that are often cracked, you know, like representing a cracked tortured personality or something- for a few seconds and that is it. In some interviews he remarks how it was maybe the hardest role he has ever done. What? I don’t buy that for a second. The only acting he does for the most part is to stare back at himself with a confused, terrified expression. Okay, that can be hard I guess, looking terrified and confused. It is actually my normal expression so I think I could have done this role. And I certainly look more like a deranged serial killer than wimpy little Elijah Wood.But then I look more like a serial killer than most people I know do but that is nothing to be proud of I guess. Lets move on.

Okay, so what about the good points of the film. And it has some to be sure and I can recommend the film over all unless you're a total wuss. But the film has its good moments, and yet don't all psychotic, misogynistic slasher films? Some of the good points are actually also the same ones that annoy me above. I do like the “from inside the killer’s eyes” approach, but just not for 99% of the film. I also think I may have bought Wood as the killer more if I had actually seen him in some scenes. Wimpy guys want to stalk and terrorize vulnerable women too. I like Wood as an actor but I am not sure about this film being the right vehicle for him to shake off the good boy image he is saddled with. Although he was a serial killer in the Sin City film as well but that was an odd little role at best.  But his actual lack of physical presence made me forget all about him. Oh yea, that was probably one of the director’s intentions as well. Making me explore my own dark fantasies, and trying to blur the line between myself and Frank. Damn, so clever, got me there you damned geniuses.  The cinematography and editing are fine, as are the sets which in this film have moved from New York City to Los Angeles. I prefer a good old school New York twisted, serial killer film myself, but LA works okay here. However I must note that I think the music score is simply fantastic. Composer Rob created a fine 80’s synth type score with all those classic sounds and pulses, and haunting little simple piano runs. There does not appear to be a soundtrack available yet but I will be snatching it up when and if one comes out. I have read that there is one but it is not available in the US or France, the two countries that collaborated on making the damned film.  I also like how some of the story, which is hardly a scene by scene remake of the original film and that is good, moves the situations into modern times with cell phones and online dating services. In one scene Frank hooks up with a pretty, though overly tattooed, young lady who he meets online. Over drinks she says she is so happy he did not turn out to look like what she thought he would. And what would that be? Long hair, fat and with bad skin. An inside joke and reference I would imagine to Joe Spinell’s unkempt appearance in the original film, and to Joe Spinell’s unkempt appearance in real life as well.


The Purge is a home invasion movie that reminds me a lot of Sam Peckinpah’ Straw Dogs, Bryan Bertino’s The Strangers and David Fincher’s Panic Room. Of course there are plenty or other such films as well and the home invasion type story is a whole sub-genre in itself of the horror and/or action film. The basic idea is to have some reasonably decent people -a family for example- being terrorized and eventually invaded by evil, threatening forces from outside and inevitably from inside their sanctuary. Most zombie movies have this situation introduced at some point into the story. Almost all of these films rely heavily on the viewer being able to accept some degree of implausibility in order for the story to move along. Something has to happen to make the sanctuary less than impenetrable, like in Panic Room where Kirsten Stewart’s young character has diabetes and leaves her insulin outside the actual panic room, forcing mom Jodie Foster to have to go outside and retrieve it and in the process having to deal with a psychotic Dwight Yokem. If not for this they would never have to leave the panic room and there would be no film. The same sort of implausibility’s happen in The Purge, written and directed by the agenda laden James DeMonaco,  and I will address them in a moment, of course, but those little film gimmicks asking the viewer for a little suspension of disbelief are not the real problems with this film.

In the far distant future (like a whole nine years from now) America’s New Founding Fathers –white ultraconservatives who still believe in that nasty Christian God and like guns and hate unemployed people of color- have solved the nation’s problems with unemployment and crime by implementing the brilliant idea of a once a year purge night, where for twelve hours anything goes. You can rape kids, burn down houses, murder homeless people, or anybody for that matter, marry your gay lover,  stomp on hamsters and stand in your front yard and smoke weed and it is all totally legal from seven at night to seven the next morning. Almost anything goes but political leaders with certain status are protected from acts of violence, no doubt the God-fearing, gun-totting Founding Fathers themselves. There are restrictions on what types of weapons can be used and it is not made clear, but I would assume they mean no atomic bombs or anthrax.  I am really not a fan of political message movies and in particular when they are also horror films. I just don’t like them for the most part as they tend to sing to the choir , either the choir on the right or the one on the left and, like The Purge, beat their messages into your head with a ball-ping hammer. And that is where this film falls apart for me almost from the very beginning. More time and energy is spent trying to drive home DeMonaco’s anti-gun and anti-conservative values messages than is spent trying to make the actual invasion itself believable and exciting. So anyway,  who the hell  is getting invaded and by whom and why?

Security expert James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) has done well for himself and his little family selling home security and protection  supplies in order to protect the people who can afford all of that, decent rich white folk, from the dangers of Purge Night. He and his wife Mary (Lena Headey) give much lip service to being supporters of The Purge and of “releasing the beast” but you suspect their hearts are not 100% into the affair. While it is not stated explicitly one gets the sense that you do not really want to speak out against Purge Night and seem like you do not support the new "America reborn" agenda. There is still the voice of dissent from the left, maybe all residing in Seattle, who claim that the real purpose of the Purge is to cleanse society of its unwanted lower members; the poor, the unemployed, the sick, the homeless and all those other filthy sorts conservatives and God believers, as we all know, want eradicated. The Sandins have two horror movie stereotype children, their daughter the smart allecky but sexually ripe 16 year old Zoey (who spends the whole movie in her fetishy school girl uniform) and the geeky Charlie who makes remote controlled little robots out of burnt baby dolls that have night vision camera installed in them. Good thing he has this hobby as the robot, named Tim, becomes an important part of the film later.

Yes, the Sandins have done well for themselves, so well that the neighbors are envious and bitter about their success at having the largest “castle” in their little neighborhood of millionaires. The snide inferences about this mass jealousy of course needlessly telegraph the film’s plot in the second act and general ending. As Purge Night (I do not know if that is what it is called in the movie or not) begins things waste no time in going bad for the Sandins. First Zoey’s boyfriend shows up inside the house of the security genius after “lockdown” and wants to settle –as in “just talk”- to James about his relationship with his daughter. Well we’ll say this character ends up written out of the script pretty fast and I think it was a total waste of a character that could have been used later on. On top of that, at almost the same moment, Charlie sees a black man –yes, there is suddenly a poor, urban black man in the middle of this elite white community in a suburb of LA that no doubt requires a long commute in an SUV to get to from the city- who is bloodied and screaming for help. Charlie unlocks the house’s security system long enough to let him in and accelerate the plot. As James and Zoey's beau exchange a few words and many bullets the black fellow escapes into the recesses of the Sandin’s fortress like house.

And there you have the motive for the home invasion; a group of yuppie like white, twenty somethings show up in freaky masks –ala The Strangers- and want the Sandins to turn over the dirty, filthy homeless black guy and let them have their government sanctioned fun with him. If not, they will huff and puff and blow the house down and get him and exact violence on the Sandin family for not complying. The group is led by the smiling and trying way too hard to be evil ("I'm just going to have fun playing the villain in this one!") Australian actor Rhys Wakefield, who somehow manages to look creepier with his mask off than he does with it on.  That, in the proverbial nutshell, is the rest of the film basically; the Sandin’s crawling around in the dark with guns and flashlights looking for the homeless guy in their house, and the gang of masked yuppies waiting outside for the equipment to arrive so they can effortlessly pull the doors and windows off the Sandin’s secure castle, then getting in and then having the Sandin's crawl around with guns and flashlights  in the dark more looking for the invaders. In fact, I want to just say this, the ease with which the house is broken into and the intruders gain entry was just too much to accept. In truth, the film is never a film about keeping the invaders out since they all but waltz into the place.

And here is where things just get too hard to accept at times, even for me who employs beaucoup suspension of disbelief per film. 1) That the house would be that easy to break into just using chains and jeeps to remove the doors renders the whole security angle pointless. Wouldn’t this have been something Sandin’s company would have considered at some point? 2) That the gang of thugs would really waste all their time on Purge Night trying to get this one homeless guy when they could have let it go and killed off twenty or thirty more homeless people instead makes no sense. 3) That Sandin would not have planned better with contingencies like a panic room for example is too big a hole in his character's professional perfectionism. 4) That his neighbors of years would be so envious of his success that they would want to torture and kill him and his family in cold blood is stretching the whole "we are all potential killers" concept too far.  5) And that the Sandin’s would be able to fend off all the machine gun packing attackers in their house as everyone just ambles around the darkened hallways is unbelievable. What the director does is sort of his version of those kung fu movie fight scenes, where a guy fights 40 other kung fu masters, but only one or two at time while the rest hop around waiting their turns. Other wise they would kill the son of a bitch in a minute.  Same gimmick here really. Often gunfire and screaming erupts in one room while James fights off the attackers. It never seems to occur to the other invaders in the house to run to that room and see what is up, rather they decide to ignore the commotion and continue walking around in the hallways, “looking” for somebody to kill. Hey, maybe there is somebody to kill where all the gunfire is coming from and from where your partners are screaming in pain. Just a hunch.

07 September 2014


I don’t really read lots of books anymore. I read books with information and seem to skim through them rather than read from cover to cover. Movie books and such mostly. But every now and then I like biographies of people I admire. I am finishing up a bio on Bobby Fischer but it is getting a bit depressing as the chess master slips more and more into some sort of madness. A bit on the lighter side were two auto-biographies (for the most part as both had some assistance in the writing area from professional writers) by two of my British rock heroes, Ozzy Osbourne and Keith Richards. These two guys are worlds apart in terms of the type of music they produced and the mark they left on rock history. I was a big super fan when I was a long haired hippie teenager of all the British rock/blues stuff. Still some of the best music ever made came from British lads of the mid 60's to mid 70's doing American blues and rock and roll better than the Americans were doing it. I was a Led Zeppelin nut and leaned more towards what they and Black Sabbath were doing back then than The Rolling Stones. And it is sad, as I saw Black Sabbath with Ozzy in concert, as well as Led Zeppelin, but when the Stones came to town I did not even try to get tickets. Back then if you were a Zeppelin fan you just did not dig the Stones too much, and it is the one big regret I have from my old concert going days. Now I probably like the Stones music more than either led Zeppelin or Black Sabbath’s. I would be in my late 20’s before I started to appreciate what they were doing. But, long before that I was into Black Sabbath and Ozzy Osbourne did a rambling auto-biography with the help of Chris Ayers, supposedly because of Ozzy’s dyslexia.

So, I picked up the book I AM OZZY at the airport in Bangkok Thailand back in 2010 while I waited 24 hours in the airport wondering if I was going to Thai jail because of a mix up on my passport and a missing exit stamp dating back to a 30 minute border crossing visit from Laos back in 2008. Not the happiest day of my life, but I got out okay in the end and got this book, which I bought off a lady boy in the airport book store. I really liked Ozzy and Black Sabbath back in the day and saw them t0ur for the Technical Ecstasy tour in like 1977 or so. After he was booted form Black Sabbath (I always considered the break up of Black Sabbath myself) I liked his early solo stuff but soon lost interest in the guy and eventually came to just dislike him and his gibbering reality TV persona. About the book I will say it is a mixed little thing really. If you are a Black Sabbath fan you will like some of the early anecdotes of Ozzy working in a slaughter house and the band trying to land gigs. Ozzy clears something up many people do not know, and that is that bassist Geezer Butler was responsible for the lyric writing really. He was the wordsmith for all those great songs and Ozzy does not try to take credit away from him for that, and he never has really. Lots of praise for guitarist Tony Iommi, though the two were often at logger heads it seems. I always like reading about how bands formed back in those days, and especially the British bands that had to do all they could to break out playing clubs in Britain and get to America and make it big before time ran out.

There are lots of little getting the band off the ground stories provided and the first half of the book is a cool read, but it is over before you know it. He is out of the band and the rest of the book just did not interest me. Some of the stories around Randy Rhoads were insightful and I did not know the details of his death to this degree before. But after Randy Rhodes and the forming of his solo band the book shifts really from music to his life with Sharon and the MTV stuff and living in California and I just lost interest, though I finished the book as it was an easy read. Basically nothing about guitarist Jake E. Lee and why Ozzy fired him. Very little about Zakk Wylde and Ozzy claims he had to part ways with him because Zakk drank too much! Ozzy does not come off in the end as likable, and is for the most part dismissive of his drinking and drug problems and his abuse of his Sharon, which had him charged with attempted murder in England in one case. All he gets out of it is how people are prying into his private life. He seems to not had a good relationship with his parents and on her death bed she asks him if it is true that he is really a multi-millionaire. He tells her yea, he is. What a guy, right. Of course rock stars are often out of touch with the so called real world and the feelings of people around them. Ozzy is not much different from most others. I still like Black Sabbath (switched over to Black Sabbath Vol. 4 to write this section) and I do not have to like somebody to appreciate their creative output. In the end I just could not like the guy much. I used to really think he was great as a rock singer, but he is violent and dangerous really, and all fucked up. I read an old interview where he killed a bunch of cats he had at his house in England with a shot gun. He skipped over that story here. I don’t why, since he doesn’t skip the one about nearly killing Sharon, who helped him form his new band and mothered his kids. Well, he does confess “it is something I have to live with the rest of my life.” Alright Ozzy.

Keith Richards does admit to killing a noisy parakeet in his book Life. In fact he admits to a lot of things and talks about a lot of things in this much better written book (co-written with James Fox). It is a longer book, of course, and Richard's status as a mythic rock star is greater than that of Ozzy’s of course. Only a few British rockers from that time, very few, can be considered a truly mythic rock god of the status Keith Richards is. Jimmy Page. Robert Plant. John Lennon. Paul McCartney. Mick Jagger. A few more maybe. The list is a short one. While Richards certainly has had his issues and is by no means a saint he comes off as so much more interesting and even likable (most of the time) than bumbling Ozzy. Again, lots of fascinating focus on how the band formed and trying to get record deals, though they appear to have risen much faster than I originally thought. Details on the issue with Brian Jones and the falling out between him and the rest of the  band and his eventual death. My favorite section might be the coming of Mick Taylor and the recording of Exile on Main Street and the albums with him on them. I just love reading about old recording studio adventures, and Life is full of them, as well as lots of details of Keith’s private life and the women in it, like Anita Pallenberg and Patti Hansen. It is all told in an interesting and well written style, that even when the narrative meanders off track a bit it does not get stale or boring. He gets into his drug and booze issues, and the big arrests around. Here he sometimes loses touch with reality when he feels persecuted for getting busted with heroin at the Canadian border, saying if it was anyone else but him the issue would be dropped and forgotten. Keith, if it was anyone else but you with cooperate lawyers working to get your skinny ass off they may still be in prison somewhere.

And of course there is lots of stuff on the famous feuding between him and Mick Jagger, told from Keith’s possibly biased perspective of course. As time has gone on I come to sympathize more and more with Jagger regarding the days when the feuding began (and still continues to this day). In the press I feel Jagger is a built less harsh than Richards and one has to wonder why the more controlled drug using and drinking Mick was doing all those solo albums and MTV videos, when in fact Keith was out of control and facing jail time. Keith does come off at times as a spoiled prima donna rock star and his remarks about the small size of Mick’s dick is totally asinine and in poor taste, as are his remarks about Mick’s over all musical abilities and attitudes, and to me only makes Mick look like the bigger guy in the end. I really did not a story where he walks in the studio while recording one of their later albums (A Bigger Bang maybe – which I am listening to now, a really good album really) and sees Mick with a guitar and brutally insults him, telling him basically there is only room guitarist I the band and it ain’t him. Guess Ron wood may not have liked hearing that either. An argument breaks out and Keith dismisses it in his style (that is often rude and arrogant) and I think he comes off looking worse.

But Keith is Keith, and he is certainly an amazing guitarist and songwriter and survivor. In the end despite his flaws and insanity he is the more fascinating character of the two I wrote about here today. I am looking for the Johnny Depp produced and directed (?) bio movie that is in the works now. A really good read about a real rock and roll legend. 

05 September 2014


A thrilling podcast where I overdose on Twinkies and packaged Thai coffee.I break a finger nail during the podcast and get cell phone messages from another city in China. My cat disrupts the recording and for the most part I never have a clue what I am talking about. And yet, somehow, a few movies manage to get talked about; The Green Hornet, Seraphim Falls, Johnny Depp's The Brave, Contracted, Blue Ruin and the new Amityville Horror. And as well, a small eulogy is given to my deceased Necrotic Cinema blog.



04 September 2014


Before going too deeply into what I thought of Rob Zombie’s new film The Lords of Salem I think I should preface things a little. Overall I like Rob Zombie as a musician and filmmaker. I love his stuff with White Zombie and here and there as far as his post White Zombie music goes, but for the most part no big issues with me there. I also liked his video work and could tell from the music videos he directed he had an eye for setting up shots. Then he went on to making movies and things got a little more blurry for me. I had to wait a long time here in China to find a copy of House of 1000 Corpses and can’t say I disliked the film at all. I think I have watched it 3 or 4 times. It has all of the kitschy hillbilly horror references and sordid underbelly of America gags I would have expected from Zombie. However I just did not like Devil’s Rejects and the last part where the Firefly family or whoever they are go charging on forever in their convertible while Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Free Bird plays alllll the way to end was simply unenjoyable to say the least. I was never a fan of the Halloween films to begin with so I went into the Zombie prequels with a negative bias. I am not here to review those films but one day may give them a go. They were not that bad really. In the end though I just don’t know if I needed to know about Michael Myer’s twisted childhood and if knowing anything about it now makes me any more interested in his character. I just never liked those films all that much and Zombie did not help me to cuddle up them any more. So a couple years back I began reading about a possible Rob Zombie remake of The Blob and my ears pricked up a bit. I just felt he could have done something with that, but suddenly there is not a blob film and instead we have a slow paced take on those old Satan films of the late 60’s and 70’s. And the problem is those old Satan films were simply some of the worst films ever made in terms of stories, direction and acting. They are for the most part all considered camp films at best and while they certainly had their time in the sun, and let me just say I have seen my fair share and just watched a couple old Satan flicks during the last couple weeks here, the sun has long since set on those movies. They are more something to be explored (and no doubt ruined) by somebody like Quentin Tarantino. 

The reviews on The Lords of Salem seem to divide the masses a little, with many people hating it for no other reason than Rob Zombie’s names is attached to it and others claiming Zombie has matured and come of age as a filmmaker. I have no issue with Rob Zombie being the film’s creator and it is the sole reason I sought the film out. I guess I am not really a film critic in any real sense and so I may not be able to see any techical maturity going on here. There are obvious references to filmmakers like Polanski, Kubrick and even Ken Russell but does that mean Zombie can tell a story or work a camera in the same fashion as those guys? I would not say it would be fair to compare but the praises the film is getting is for the fact that those influences are so apparent. But in the end Zombie just does not pull off an engaging or convincing story. Rosemary’s baby is a slow burn of a film but is never boring and I have seen that film near a dozen times I am sure. Once was more than enough with The Lords of Salem. And now I must  touch on a particular problem with the film before I go any further. It is a serious prejudice I have and its presence in the film makes it hard for me to accept the film. In fact this little problem crops up in every single Rob Zombie film and the problem has a name, and that name is Sheri Moon Zombie. I thought she was sort of cute and trashy in 1000 Corpses and I had no idea who she was at the time. But that was about it for me and her. She lost the cute part and I soon realized the trashy aspect was not acting. In Lords of Salem she is utterly covered in grotesque tattoos, is emaciated and unhealthy looking and sports a mane of grungy dread locks that look infested with lice and cigarette smoke.  I don’t care if her acting has improved or not, I just can’t stand her. Maybe as a supporting actress that is killed off in the first reel (like in the Tobe Hooper version of The Tool Box Murders) but in the lead role of a film she is a distraction for me.

In the film she play radio DJ Heidi Hawthorne who co-hosts a late night rock show in Salem Massachusetts with the two Herman’s, played by Jeff Daniel Phillips and the ageless Ken Foree (of immortal Dawn of the Dead fame). Guests on the show include people like a bearded Bruce Davison playing Salem witch trial skeptic Francis Matthias. We all know what happens to skeptics in horror films by now don’t we?  Heidi receives a slice of vinyl by a group calling themselves the Lords of Salem and when the music is played she basically zones out. She is soon getting pulled into something wicked and evil but I am not sure what. It all happens so slowly and confusingly I began feeling like Heidi when she hears the Lords of Salem music most of the time.  Her landlady and the landlady’s sisters (including a still lovely Dee Wallace Stone) are all up to no good and like to sit around sipping fresh tea and blurting out words like “fuck” and “cocksucker” all of the time for shock value. Something is up with the “vacant” room number five, but I never did get what it was, and soon (well, okay, not too soon really) a connection is made between Heidi and the old Reverend Hawthorne who presided over the original witch trial and… and… what the hell did I watch? Some old AIP Vincent Price movie or what? In the end the film is nothing but an old Satan film done up with slick modern editing and a cool score by John 5 (of Rob’s band and formally of Marilyn Manson) and some nasty words by old ladies and lingering shots of Sheri Moon’s ass. Lots of stereotype old hags praising Satan or the dark one or somebody, and hardly any violence to speak of. And that is about it. Things seem to build to nothing and the last scenes add no closure to the film whatsoever. One reviewer, who loved the film, praised it for the how it left him thinking after it was over. It left me thinking too. Thinking about what a boring ass turd of a film I just sat through hoping something was going to eventually happen to make it worth my while. Just like all those old Satan flicks basically sucked, so does this one. Honestly, the only Satan film that rose above the muck was Rosemary’s Baby. It is simply a good movie, period. The Satan touch didn’t hurt it and every Satan film since then has tried to do Rosemary’s Baby and none have ever come close, including The Exorcist.


I am finding myself more and more getting into Australian horror films and leaving the viewing with a sense of satisfaction. The truth is I watch a lot more movies than I get around to reviewing. But I could easily increase the number of films for my Australian Horror category if I sat my mind to it, which I’m probably not going to do so let’s not even get our hopes up. The newer Oz horror films have many of the elements of “good” 80’s American, and in particular the “exploring the wilderness and backwoods”, type films that got really trite fast and became nothing but parodies of themselves in the end. The Aussie films also run with the old body count formula and handle it well enough, better than what is coming out of the so called independent straight to DVD horror movement in the US right now. The whole nature of the Aussie wilderness and outback help set the stage for the films. Desolate, hot, brutal and full of enough natural dangers that you hardly need a serial killer or flesh eating monster to increase the tension, but it doesn’t hurt to add that little extra bit of terror. And for the most part, not all the time of course because Australia cranks out it share of duds, the acting and direction in this film is above average for a low to medium budgeted horror film. I would put the acting and direction up against most of the stuff coming out of the bigger studio horror releases in the states, like some of the newer films coming out of the once reliable Lionsgate Films. And so that brings us to this post’s feature, Primal. Now there is an America film that was also released in Australia under the title Primal. Do not get them confused. While this Primal has its fair share of flaws I can give it a hearty recommendation so long as you are not expecting Macbeth or something.

A group of young friends pack up their SUV and head out into the Australian wilderness to get a look at, and in one case write a world changing thesis, on some 12,000 year cave paintings. The group is made of of the same damned characters you see in all these films, no matter what country the film is from. The macho alpha male, the horny, wise cracking but never gets laid male, the quiet brainy guy, the slutty dirty mouthed blonde, the nice girl and the smart gal with deep issues who winds up being the leader. Jeesh. Missing here would be the stoner dude and dumb jock and the black or Asian guy who dies first. But so what. In fact you just don’t like or connect with any of the characters in any real way, so you sit back and wait for them to start dropping like flies. You already know who is going to get it and who is going to make it to the end. You’re not really sure if this is going to be one of those “no one survives at the end” flicks, which is the only twist this genre can throw at us anymore. “Whoa! Didn’t see that coming! Everybody died. Now that’s some ending! Gotta give ‘em credit for trying something new there.” Ever get tired of hearing that? “Well, they tried something new!” Yea, and failed. Anyway, I will say this, other than a moment of really bad CG effects at the end, the ending here is pretty clever in terms of the film’s last line. Really worked. Nothing new, but it worked.

The group reach the secluded if not secret –like one of those lost valleys in a Tarzan movie- little forest and find the cave paintings we are introduced to at the film’s beginning. Now we know how some of those hand print paintings were really made. Idyllic at first, things start looking pretty bad when a girl is bitten by a saber toothed rabbit. Really. And too bad there weren’t more saber toothed rabbits, or man eating koalas or blood sucking wallaby’s. This is the only such beast we encounter other than tiny ravenous ants or something and leeches. And about those leeches. You just should not go swimming in waterholes in places where there are known flesh eating rabbits. But try telling that to blonde floozy Mel. After a boob flashing dip in said pond Mel develops a fever, loses all her teeth and has the dead saber toothed rabbit for breakfast the next morning. She turns on the group, of course, and the movie goes into survival mode fro here on out. I guess I will voice one of my few major objections –other than some really bad CG effects that should have been left out- about the film here. It is the sound the now transformed Mel makes when she screams. It is obviously some sort of computer enhanced sound and it reminded me of the screeches made by the vampires in 30 Days of Night, and I didn’t like those annoying sounds either. It is just so obvious the sound has been altered with some sort of software. And another issue is with the make up of the now mutated person. It consists only of some ill-fitting teeth prosthetics. Again reminding me of the vampires in 30 Days of Night. But they are so poorly made you can tell the person is wearing them even when they have their mouths closed, like those old glow in the dark vampire fangs you could get at Halloween time. The lips protrude out and you just know somebody is wearing fake teeth under there or they are sucking on an orange slice. But there is nothing else. And also, whenever Mel appears she is soaring through the air in some pose like she just bounced off a trampoline and her arrival is accompanied by loud music and that digitally enhanced screech. And you know what? It never scared me once.


Guess what everyone! Kim Henkel has written and produced a new film. And further guess what! It sucks. You may know the name of Kim Henkel as co-writer of the original The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Or you may be one of the 99% of the people out there who scratches their head and mumbles "who the hell is Kim Henkel!", like I did. He went on to do nothing much else to speak of over the next few decades of his career but that is still something cool to have on your horror movie resume, that you helped Tobe Hooper create one of the greatest -and one of the most ripped off- horror movies of all time. And at the end of the day I am a fan of the TCM franchise in general. I can’t say they are all great films but I definitely look forward to a new installment. Henkel was also the writer on the okay TCM: The Next Generation from 1994, but really I do not see why the name Kim Henkel would be any sort of real endorsement of any film being made in 2012. Nor would I see why the names of directors Duane Graves and Justin Meeks would turn any heads, but the reviews of the film The Bone Boys (the few ones favorable I read which I highly suspect are being written by people associated with the project or had to sit through a free screener of the film and feel driven out of guilt and a desire for more free screeners) seem to heap praise after praise on these guys. Meeks directed some indie horror film called The Wild Man of the Navidad I have wanted to see but which I cannot get my hands on but will once Cinemageddon has another free leech period. It is “praised” by the indie crowd but  the stills do not even look that great really, but it is a “bigfoot” type movie so I want to check it out. 

Before going into this chunk of drek I want to say one thing about Tobe Hooper, which maybe I have said here before or tried to. I sure don’t like all of his films but to be quite honest I think he did better work than The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Arggh! The heresy some are screaming now! But every time the poor bastard does a new film it gets compared to TCM and then shot to bits. “When will Hooper do another classic like TCM!” Well I have long felt that the original TCM was a great little low budget film. It works for me, but it is hardly the only thing Hooper ever did worth watching. I feel Lifeforce, and Invaders from Mars and even films like The Funhouse and Eaten Alive are decent little horror films and cuts above what others are doing. And his one return to the TCM franchise –The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2- was met with bitter reviews as well, though I kind of liked that one myself. So, what I am trying to say to all the “Hooper’s only good film was the original TCM” is “fucking get over it geeky fan boy!”. 

And why all the chit chat here about TCM anyway? Well because Kim Henkel is none too ashamed to exploit that film here in The Bone Boys/The Butcher Boys. The references are all but in your face and that is okay since so many hillbilly slasher films pay homage (a euphemism for blatantly ripping off something better) to the original TCM. And if you were co-writer of the original film then surely you would have some right to do that in your new screenplay. I guess. Might have more credibility if you had tried to do something else in the nearly four decades prior, but lets over look that for now I guess. But the goddamned tagline for the flick is “The 'spiritual sequel' to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre”. So rather than the film containing clever little references to TCM in a tribute sort of fashion it is blatantly exploiting the first film in a cheap way. And well, that annoys me. The film follows a group of teens, led by Sissy (genuine Texas girl Ali Faulkner) around the back streets of the still wild and wooly San Antonio Texas (where I lived for about fifteen years of my life, and where, long with locations in  Austin, the film was shot) where they run afoul of a gang of white guys in leather jackets and greasy hair that resemble something more out of an S.E. Hinton novel than a gang you would actually see in the run down warehouse districts of San Antonio. Or any other city in North America. Or the world for that matter. The local macho Mexican gangs and even the hard boiled drug cartel savvy San “Antone” cops fear these guys and let them do as they wish. Which is utterly unbelievable. In the end the gang is just some guys with knives and guns and the fact that they evoke such terror in the gangs and cops hastens the film on its downward spiral into scene by scene disbelief and irritation. I am sure if you were a young person of 18 or 20 and have only seen a few such films this thing may strike you as wild and crazy and too much to endure. Maybe this "roller coaster ride" will take your breath away. But if you’re a jaded old movie fart like myself you will find yourself rolling your eyes up in annoyance more than covering them in fright.



I have been mulling this over for a while and I have come to the conclusion it is time to retire Necrotic Cinema. I am struggling with blogging as a whole and have lost most of my passion for it really. Most, but not all. I really like the blog but after several years at it I have yet to get even 100 posts completed. it does not mean I do not want to do posts and have a zillion (give or take a billion) in the plump draft folder, but to be quite blunt I just am having a hard time giving a fuck any more. I seem to still give a shit, but the giving a fuck part is really becoming a burden. In the end my main blog is and always has been The Uranium Cafe and that has become a burden as well for me and I am wrestling with retiring it as well. As a sort of compromise I have decided to expand The Uranium Cafe (always baffles me whether or not to capitalize the indefinite article there) and allow more modern movie posts there as well now. I tried to keep it an obscure movie blog and it will still be that, but when I think about it a lot of the modern movies I gravitate towards -horror and other types- are pretty damned obscure by most standards so I will simply merge the content really. I may even move over some of my cooler posts from here to there to get the ball rolling as they say. I have no intention of deleting the blog and if you found your way here you can still support the concept of Necrotic Cinema (where some movies are better left buried) and visit The Uranium Cafe, where old and new drek are pandered with willful and wanton abandon. RIP NC.

06 August 2014