Friday, March 31, 2023

Viewings: March 2023

Geoff Murphy's The Quiet Earth (1985) and Narciso Ibáñez Serrador's The House that Screamed (1969) were my favourite discoveries this month. Two vastly different films; two unforgettable endings.

March proved to be a noteworthy month for blogs I read on the regular: The Martorialist shared his Desert Island DVDs; Ashton wrote fresh film reviews again; and British Horror Films returned to the fold after its winter hiatus


 The Haunted Castle (F. W. Murnau, 1921)*

Kansas City Confidential (Phil Karlson, 1952)*

The World, the Flesh and the Devil (Ranald McDougall, 1959)*

Orgy of the Dead (Stephen C. Apostolof, 1965)*

Funeral in Berlin (Guy Hamilton, 1966)

The House that Screamed (Narciso Ibáñez Serrador, 1969)*

Soldier Blue (Ralph Nelson, 1970)*

Bloody Moon (Jesús Franco, 1981)

The Quiet Earth (Geoff Murphy, 1985)*

Killer Party (William Fruet, 1986)

Infernal Rapist (Damián Acosta Esparza & José Medina, 1988)*

Croupier (Mike Hodges, 1998)

Sin City (Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez & Quentin Tarantino, 2005)

Triangle (Christopher Smith, 2009)

Avengement (Jesse V. Johnson, 2019)*

Cocaine Bear (Elizabeth Banks, 2023)*

Consecration (Christopher Smith, 2023)*

The Whale (Darren Aronofsky, 2023)*


The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Alan J.W. Bell, 1981) 

Teenage Diaries: In Bed with Chris Needham (Tony Steyger, 1992)*

The Doors - Morrison Hotel (John Albarian & Jeff Jampol, 2022)*

Mastermind Episodes 24 - 27 (Bill Wright, 2022 / 2023)*


*First time viewings. 

Dada Debaser Notes:

  • On the subject of unforgettable film endings: Soldier Blue, WTF?
  • Props to Chris Needham for staying true to the game long after the BBC doc.
  • Avengenment's The Horse & Jockey might not have made my fave movie pubs selection, but to its credit, it is the location for the best pub fight I've seen in ages.
  • Never even realised until now that was Peter Davison as the Dish of the Day in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
  • It's a shame about Ray Liotta, but Cocaine Bear is an early contender for worst film of 2023.
  • Had no intention to see The Whale, but that bridge troll's hilarious rant in The Guardian made me want to watch it. Rage bait done right!
  • Hilarious seeing Gaspar Noé recently in the Severin Cellar and acting like he was appearing on an episode of Supermarket Sweep. Can't front, I would've done the same:

"Go wild in the aisles!"

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Reel Ale Houses

Having nursed a three day hangover this month, alcohol (and regret) has literally been weighing on your humble movie fiend’s mind lately. More importantly, choosing some of the more preferable thirst quenching watering holes to appear in film. 

Restricted my choices to film rather television, otherwise the selections would have been dominated by sitcom and soap opera boozers. 

Along with a quality pint that doesn't cost a fiver, it's all about a pub's atmosphere and decor which really make it appealing. It ought to feel cozy and relaxing, an oasis from the rat race. Alternatively, if a bar has a distinctive je nais se quios about it, then that also makes it a winner. So here's a bunch of fine taverns from the world of film that tickles your host's fancy:

Palace Hotel Bar

It might be a booze-fuelled nightmare for poor John Grant stuck in the Yabba, but the Palace Hotel Bar is the most tranquil spot in Ted Kotcheff's classic film Wake in Fright (1971). What makes this location blessed with a vomit themed colour palette so delighfully appealing to me is it serving as a perfect oasis for self-reflection before Grant loses his mind. Palace Hotel Bar even happens to be even quieter than the homes of some of the film's characters to boot. Also, it convinced me all Aussies are so over zealous with their hospitality in buying a round, you'll risk offending the locals to the point of being treated like a nonce if you say no; therefore it's wise to take them up on their offer... even at the risk of liver failure.

Green Man Inn

As long you're not visiting the remote Scottish island of Summerisle around late April and early May, I expect it to be rather pleasant there. Like most sensible people, I loathe film musicals with a passion, The Wicker Man (1973) is a very rare exception. It's tolerable in the film since the folk of Summerisle happen to be pagan worshipping nutters singing about filth like a folksy equivalent of 2 Live Crew. It's a bit plain looking indoors, but Green Man Inn is blessed by the sun gods with a dirty lot with the same juvenile sense of humour as myself; which makes me feel at home. Also, if Edward Woodward was a sane person and didn't cockblock himself after a naked Britt Ekland was beating on his bedroom door gagging for it, he would have left Summerisle alive, innit?

The Slaughtered Lamb*

"Beware the moon, lads!" If you've ever watched the absolute zenith of cinema that is An American Werewolf in London (1981), then you'll notice that The Slaughtered Lamb pub, located in the fictional Yorkshire village of East Proctor, looks ever so inviting in both day and night scenes. That's when you know this pub is a winner, as it looks spectacular both times of the day. Gorgeous looking place with pro-darts players and a hospitable landlady. The perfect shelter when it's cold and wet outside... as long as you don't piss off the locals by enquiring about the pentagram on the wall.

The Whippit Inn

Carry on Abroad (1972) might feature Brits behaving badly in Elsbels on the Costa Bomm for a significant portion of the film, but it's flanked by superb scenes in a wonderful looking rub-a-dub run by Sid James and Joan Sims (superbly named Vic & Cora Flange) known as The Whippit Inn (sic). Possibly the greatest landlord and landlady combo to ever appear in a film, in my opinion. Never mind Elyseum fields, if there's a heaven, then The Whippit Inn is how I would imagine it being. The final scene where the Carry On cast visit the place will forever be etched in my mind as the one of the most awesome pub meet-ups ever. 

The Dirty Hole

The second Yorkshire pub to make it on this list, however, this time around, you'd rather brave the moonlit moors of East Proctor, since the odds of making it out alive of The Dirty Hole are much slimmer than The Slaughter Lamb. The reason is due to the backwater area known as Mortlake happens to be home to cannibals with a family tree resembling a stump. Inbred (2012), Northern England's answer to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) might not be anywhere near as good as Tobe Hooper's film, but I'll be damned if  The Dirty Hole is not one of the coziest looking pubs featured in a film, to the extent that Paddy from Emmerdale swapped The Woolpack for it. Big fan of the authentic Tudor interior; not so much on the racism, though. Avoid the "pork" scratchings!

 J.J Devine Public House

2022 might go down in film history as the year where donkey harm became a thing thanks to The Triangle of Sadness and The Banshees of Inisherin (I refuse to watch Jerzy Skolimowski's Eo as I'll probably end up sobbing like a baby), but at least Martin McDonagh's film blessed us with what's arguably the best little on-screen boozer in ages. Like some primeval paradise nestled amongst nature's elements, the J.J. Devine pub feels like the perfect tavern to call a second home. A fine place with hospitable locals other than Brendan Gleeson. F@ck him and his sausage fingers! J.J. Devine also boasts the best pub garden as there aren't any unruly brats ruining my pint and it overlooks the North Atlantic ocean. Might explain the lack of kids, to be honest.


Considering infamous bars like the Copacana and The Double Deuce, the only fictional American joint to grace this list is Kadie's from Sin City (2005). Surprisingly posseses some real character; which is a rarity as I find American watering holes don't look as aesthetically pleasing much of the time. Truth be told, Sin City's, biggest draw is its black and white breakdown in its depiction of alpha dogs and temptress sirens which matches the film's visual style. The scenes shot in this bar are 100% proof. Note Brittany Murphy at her flyest serving drinks, while the insanely hot Jessica Alba does her dance for the onlookers; the perfect visual cocktail to drink away the pain.

The Crown Inn*

By far the best pub to be featured in Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg's Three Flavours Corenetto trilogy, in my opinion. The Crown Inn, as seen in the film Hot Fuzz (2007) is a really attractive looking boozer thanks to its historic and rustic charm. It exudes this warm and inviting vibe that would make this a home away from home given half a chance. In reality two pubs were used to make The Crown Inn such a standout; one for the exterior shots, and the other for the interiors. Film trickery at its finest.

Titty Twister

We can all unanimously agree that the Twister Twister is a bonafide vampire-ridden thirst trap. Chances of ever leaving this Mexican vampire nest alive are practically zilch. Still, I enjoy the rough and tumble vibe along with the Aztec decor of this temple turned bar conversion. This unholy paradise feaured in From Dusk Till Dawn (1996) is easily the most dangerous joint listed here, but what a place it is when you have Santanico Pandemonium seductively dancing and pouring tequila down your gob. R.I.P Frost and Sex Machine!

Mos Eisley Cantina


The precise moment when Star Wars (1977) went from a sci-fi adventure to a timeless classic was when I first laid eyes upon the Mos Eisley Cantina scene. Five year old me was staring with complete awe at all the cool looking alien species. Middle-aged me is still in amazement with the fanstasy of downing space grog and drunkenly chit-chatting with various galactic folk. The Mos Eisley cantina has been ripped-off in various movies ever since, including some later Star Wars films, but the O.G. pub is still the best of the lot. 

Honourable Mentions:
Shagal's inn from The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967); the roadhouse bar from National Lampoon's Animal House (1978); H.M.P Slade bar from Porridge (1979); Fagan's* from The Long Good Friday (1980); The Gold Room from The Shining (1980); Last Resort from Total Recall (1990); Secret bar behind the Puerto Rican barbershop in Carlito's Way (1993); The Ten Bells* from From Hell (2001); La Louisiane from Inglorious Basterds (2009); and The Black Prince* from Kingsman: The Secret Service (2015). 
Shout out to The Golden Glove* from The Golden Glove (2019) for being a depressing hell hole, but still managing to make me wish I were a fly on the wall there.

* These are either based on, or shot on location at a pre-existing bar.
Dada Debaser Bonus:

Monday, March 27, 2023

Brendan’s Got a Belly

The Whale (Darren Aronofsky, 2023)

For a film dealing with themes like abandonment and redemption, The Whale (2023) is very much another self-destructive ouroboros tale we've come to expect from Darren Aronofosky.

Despite reminding me of that bloke inflating and exploding after seeing Lo Pan's corpse in Big Trouble in Little China (1986), Brendan Fraser is perfectly fine in the film. But, let's be honest, it's all about the novelty of seeing him in fat prosthetics and watching him slowly trundle about in his home, binge eating and trying to get to the bog in time.

The thing I find about most Hollywood dramas, is no matter how serious the subject matter might be, they tend to come across as woefully insincere and completely divorce me in taking them seriously. It's gotten to the point that whenever an actor participates in any kind of seriously dramatic role; especially one that involves an extreme physical metamorphosis, then I automatically assume they're just fishing for an Oscar. This is evidently apparent in the horribly telemarked and entirely cringeworthy  "I need to know" scene from the film; coming across as the obvious Oscar nominee showreel clip. Ultimately, these films end up backfiring with their heavy-handed clumsiness that they can often result in some unintentional comedy scenes and well deserved mockery from me. The Whale is no exception.

Highlights from The Whale which genuinely made me LOL were:

  • A 600lb Brendan Fraser getting caught having a tommy tank while watching gay porn at the start of the film.
  • Brendan almost dying from the aforementioned wank and ordering Ty Simpkins to read aloud his daughter's essay on Moby Dick; somehow it magically helps him. Apparently, this works better than being immediatley rushed to the nearest cardiac unit.
  • Pleading for his nurse to give him his KFC bucket.
  • Brendan's home nurse having to perform a wrestler slam on him to dislodge the sandwich that was asphyxiating him, on account of being too big for the Heimlich manoeuvre.
  • The reprehensible daughter's cliched latent talent needing to be encouraged in order to set her on the right path.
  • Dan, the way too sociable pizza delivery man, finally catching a glimpse of Brendan and looking absolutely disgusted.
  • Brendan subsequently downing two pizzas, slapping ham and mayonnaise on them and making a doritos sandwich during his epic binge eating scene.
  • Brendan Fraser finally revealing his face to his online students and that one girl in the zoom chat laughing.

Much like everything Aronofsky has done since Black Swan (2010), I doubt I'll ever bother seeing The Whale again.

Alternatively, why waste two hours of your life watching a gay man gorge his way to self-destruction when you can similarly watch mukbang celeb Nikocado Avocado tragically painting it more effectively in just a mere eleven seconds?

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Relive Kill Repeat

Triangle (Christopher Smith, 2009)

Decided to check out Christopher Smith's nun themed chiller, Consecration (2023) recently. Turned out to be a failure, just like Jenna Malone's British accent in it. I also noticed Smith recycled certain elements from his far superior film, Triangle (2009). Hence, the time was right to give this mindbending film a revisit.

Although it essentially spells things out for attentive viewers by the end credits, Smith's Triangle is a rewarding viewing experience for anyone who might consider themself an aficionado of head scratcher movies. Much like Aolus, the greek god of the four winds, the film runs at a breezy pace thanks to its perpetual time loop concept and all its glitches keep the film feeling fresh throughout.

Deja vu themed films will obviously incur comparisons to Groundhog Day (1993), but Triangle is a very different breed of film; its effects overlap with a past, present and future protagonist co-existing in the loop. There's also the overall tone of the film being much darker completely fixated on the psychological horror of its twisted concept. Smith's film also draws from greek mythology (the legend of Sisyphus) rather than a sci-fi concept that might have been alluded to by its title. Triangle's protagonist, Jess, a struggling mother to a young boy with autism, behaves very strangely from the onset, and things get even weirder for her and her sailing party after a freak storm leaves them adrift on their capsized yacht. A mysterious ocean liner becomes the main location for the oncoming surreal events to follow. Are Jess and her party caught in the legendary Bermuda Triangle? Who is the sackclothed psycho with a shotgun resembling The Phantom Killer? How did Liam Hemsworth land the role of Victor over his brother Chris? Most of these questions will be answered by the finale.

This nautical, noughties enigma is spearheaded by a killer performance from Aussie actress Melissa George as Jess. This was her decade since she progressed from bit part film roles after her stint in the Australian soap opera Home & Away as Angel Parrish, to becoming a bonafide scream queen with a spate of horror films in the 2000s: The Amityville Horror (2005), Turistas (2006) and 30 Days of Night (2007). To break it down by today's hack media, if they're female and in a horror film, they're automatically granted the moniker of scream queen by default. Them's the rules, apparently. Nevertheless, Melissa George's performance in Triangle is the major reason why she is honoured with Dada Debaser's coveted Best Scream Queen of the 2000s title. Her ability to act automatically makes her one of the better ones, which works to the film's advantage since she realling gets to flex some serious emotional range in the film while still looking great in her daisy dukes. She's phenomenally good in portraying Jess as a fractured and morally grey individual.

Never really noticed the plot holes that some critics have pointed out. My only real gripe; which is minor, are the references to The Shining (1980). The inclusion of the number 237 for both Jess's house and the cabin room felt completely unnecessary. Like some other films from this period, I was also worried the film's visuals might have dated it. Surpringly, the harsh lighting, which was so synoymous with that particular era, served the film incredibly well. Huge fan of the scenes shot on deck which highlight this since they're a prime example of daylight horror done right, in my opinion.

All in all, Triangle was already a great film to begin with, and seeing this again reinforces it as a perfect candidate to my belief that 2009 was an incredible year for cinema. Triangle ought to be considered as the climax to both Australian and British genre during the noughties renaissance. Despite enjoying some of his other movies, Christopher Smith never reached this level of quality again, therefore I consider it his magnum opus. Highly recommended.

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Picks of 2003

It may have been the year of Captain Jack Sparrow, that song off Daredevil, and a blasphemous remake of The Italian Job with Marky Mark, but my personal film highlights from 2003 ranged in featuring obvious throwbacks to old school genre cinema, unapologetic cartoon violence and humour, and scream queens in white tank tops and low-rise jeans.

Bad Boys II (Michael Bay)

Bad Santa (Terry Zwigoff)

Beyond Reanimator (Brian Yuzna)

Elf (Jon Favreau)

Final Destination 2 (David R. Ellis)

Freddy vs. Jason (Ronny Yu)

Haute Tension (Alexandre Aja)

The Hunted (William Friedkin)

Johnny English (Peter Howitt)

Kill Bill: Volume 1 (Quentin Tarantino)

Memories of Murder (Bong Joon-Ho)

Oldboy (Park Chan-Wook)

Ong-Bak (Prachya Pinkaew)

A Tale of Two Sisters (Kim Jee-Woon)

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Marcus Nispel)

Wrong Turn (Rob Schmidt)

Zatoichi (Takeshi Kitano)

Films which I didn't include as I'd only watched once ages ago, but remember liking at the time include: Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, Open Range, Old School, Biker Boyz and Big Fish.

Say whatever you want about the match-up of the century that was Freddy vs. Jason, but it had what was undoubtedly the best ever promotional event for a film, in my humble opinion.

Freddy vs. Jason (Promo Event)
Las Vegas, 2003 

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Castles Made of Sang

Acanthus - Le Frisson des Vampires
Les Frisson des Vampires soundtrack, 1971
Doubt Les Frisson des Vampire AKA The Shiver of the Vampires would make it in my personal Top Five films by fantastique director Jean Rollin, but I do know it's blessed with an incredible soundtrack that I sadly still don't own a physical copy of due to it being OOP and selling for stupid prices.

Les Frisson des Vampire OST is comprised of some very short and sweet acid folk and trippy sound effects which provide Rollin's film with one of the most haunting soundscapes from that period. Highlights include Isolde, Sleeping Beauty (Samba des Vampires), Flightless Bird, Envol Vers la Folie and of course the title track, Le Frisson des Vampires.

The band Acanthus was an alias to the Gallic, teen, psycherock group Unity. During their very short time together, they only released two singles; their final effort O Wa Nou Me Nou Ma, featured a fitting homage to guitar god Jimi Hendrix for its B-side song. Not sure if Rollin gave them the soundtrack gig on these tunes alone, but I am thankful his film led me to their head-nodding, fleur power number, regardless.

Unity - Jimi (En Hommage A Jimi Hendrix)
O Wa Nou Me Nou Ma single B-side, 1970 

Dada Debaser Bonus:
There must have been something in the Perrier in 1971, since the Belgian erotic vampire film Daughters of Darkness* was also blessed with a magnifique soundtrack by the French composer, François de Roubaix. Sample heaven ever since.
François de Roubaix - Amour sur les Rails
Daughters of Darkness soundtrack, 1971

* Daughters of Darkness happens to be a film with Delphine Seyrig in it where I'm not instantly repelled by anyone hailing it as a classic film, unlike the overrated shite that is Last Year at Marienbad (1961), or Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975); a film that I refuse to waste three hours of my life while she cotches in a kitchen.

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

You Don't Know Jack

Croupier (Mike Hodges, 1998)

I'll preface my thoughts on Mike Hodges' stellar slice of Brit noir, Croupier (technially a British and German co-production) with my personal opinion that the nineties were lean times for both horror and British film in general. The less said about British horror at that time, the better. Thus, when Croupier originally came and went, even after its 2001 re-release attributed to its American success, I put it down as another one of those "critic's film" to avoid at the time. How wrong was I?

Clive Owen plays Jack Manfred, a struggling writer working on his debut book, who, thanks to his estranged father, lands a job working as a croupier in a London casino. Born and raised in a South African casino, Jack has a godly croupier skills. What follows in the film, are a series of events where Jack's personality meshes with his novel's protagonist, Jake. Initially inspired by his corrupt colleague, Matt, played by Press Gang's Paul Reynolds. The film leaves some ambiguity over whether or not the character of Jake comes from a hidden persona within Jack, but it becomes abundantly clear Jack's mental state is far from normal as the film progresses. This is enforced throughout the film by Jack's quotable "hang on tightly, let go lightly", catchprase being repeated throughout the film.

The real charm of Croupier comes from Clive Owen's smug and judgmental voice over. His whole personality exudes that of an individual with a massive superiority complex. Jack is able to read people in the same vein as the cards he deals. Ironincally, despite the film being set in a London casino, the subject matter doesn't focus on gambling, but rather Jack's addiction to seeing people lose. It's fixation for schadenfreude where he describes the casino environment as "the house of addiction". It's not long until he's smoking like a circus chimp and boozing for Britain just to calm his nerves when he's back home. As Jack gradually slips into his Jake persona, he's able to snitch and cheat on his social circle with no remorse whatsoever since it's all in keeping with Jake's character. In this respect, he's psychopathic in nature, and that's what makes him such a compelling character to watch on screen.

There are three women in Jack's life who appear to symbolise important aspects about him: his girlfriend, Marion (Gina McKee), a store detective, acts as his moral compass, infatuated with Jack as  a writer and attempts to mould him into something he's not, like wanting his hair dyed blonde and having him wear a ridiculous boy band hat; his co-worker, Bella (Kate Hardie), mirrors his judgemental and callous evaluation of people; while Jani (Alex Kingston), a fellow South African and the film's damsel in distress, might possibly serve as a window about his past. What's revealling about his relationship with Jani, is it's not a sexual relationship. Even while sharing a bed with her, while at his agent's country home for a weekend, he's doesn't pursue anything.

Jack's world is also really engaging. Much of it is nocturnal; including a bizarre tennis match at night scene. Much of our film protagonist's life is a subterranean existence; living a in a basement flat with iron bars over its windows (which has notable significance at the end of the film), to the sub-level casino decorated with distorted mirrors everywhere (apparently based on the old HMV store on Oxford Street).

Events go positively Lynchian after a casino heist, as Jack's world goes completely off-kilter. Some scenes are surreal; like his chance meeting of a self-proclaimed "white witch" at a restaurant, who happens to own the very car he sold at the start of the film. Fate seems to be the integral theme of the film while simultaneously casting some doubt on whether or not its Jack or Jake who is actually on the receiving end. 

Not many films out there that have had me watching on repeat like this. Croupier impressed me enough that I kept discovering various elements with every viewing. Easily my favourite film discovery so far this year. Too bad it took so long in discovering this gem.

Also, based on his performance in Croupier alone, it should have been Clive Owen cast as Jame Bond instead of Daniel Cragface. What a wasted opportunity.

Croupier (Original Trailer)
Mike Hodges, 1998

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Golden Moulder-Brown

The House that Screamed (Trailer)
Narciso Ibáñez Serrador, 1969

Can finally tick off Narciso Ibáñez Serrador's 1969 film, The House that Screamed (AKA La Residencia) off my watch list. Would have been much sooner if I was able to watch it without some awful VHS rip of it on the net, or cop it without having to pay an extortionate amount for a copy to grey importers. In any case, it's a great film that warms my cockles with all its sumptuous gothic splendour, and certainly worth going over it in more detail at a later date.

Interesting observation about it was John Moulder-Brown kicked off a winning streak thanks to Serrador's film and followed it up with Deep End (1970) and Vampire Circus (1972); all before kissing goodbye to his teenage years. Not quite as impressive as Corey Feldman's phenomenal run in the eighties, but it's still a tremendous achievement, in my opinion.

Horror Europa with Mark Gatiss
John Das, 2012

First caught wind of The House that Screamed in the excellent documentary, Horror Europa with Mark Gatiss, which first aired on TV back in 2012. It was the only film fetaured in it which I hadn't seen until now. Since it was discussed with equal reverance as other great European horror classics like Eyes Without a Face (1960), Black Sabbath (1963), and Daughters of Darkness (1971), the film obviously made it onto my radar.

Serrador helmed what I personally consider the best horror film to come from Spain, Who Could Kill A Child (1976). Ironically, much like my favourite film from Australia, Wake in Fright (1971), it too featured Brits for its main cast.

Sunday, March 5, 2023

Death Comes in Threes

The Stöned Age ("It's a P*ssy Song!"scene)
James Melkonian, 1994

Can't comment on Hubbs' theory regarding Blue Öyster Cult's Don't Fear the Reaper being a fanbase litmus test, but I do know his mate, Joe, was the ginger, Grunge looking head from The People Under the Stairs (1991); and more importantly, three instances where the song fits perfectly in either a horror film or television series:

Halloween (Pot Smoking scene)
John Carpenter, 1978

According to IMDb, the first time Don't Fear the Reaper made an appearance on film was in John Carpenter's horror classic, Halloween (1978). It might also be the very first time I ever heard the song for that matter.

It's low key inclusion works beautifully in this pot smoking scene. Much like Dr. Loomis, the song serves its purpose like an ominous prophet of doom. The "my dad!" moment where Annie spot her father's car, and who happens to be Sheriff Brackett, conveniently has two purposes: the universal stoned teens getting possibly caught with drugs scenario, and the viewer learning that Haddonfield's finest has stolen some William Shatner masks, is tooled up and ready to party for the night.

Sadly, this wasn't the only time the song made an appearance in the franchise: both Rob Zombie's awful remake and David Gordon Green's travesty of a "requel" trilogy incorporated it for the sake of nostalgia.

The Stand (Opening Credits scene)
Mick Garris, 1994

Props to Mick Garris' opening credits sequence from the 1994 TV mini-series, The Stand appearing early on in what's otherwise six hours of my life I'll never get back. Despite being checked out by the series, the opening credits were, and still are, TV excellence. So good that they play out in my mind's eye whenever I hear the song.

It's Armageddon time for us all as a deadly virus finds its way into the world. The way the camera hauntingly pans over various areas of the military complex and its dead occupants while the song plays is chillingly effective. The end of days has begun.

I can barely remember anything else from The Stand other than Rob Lowe being in it, the demonic Randall Flagg reminding me of  Billy Connolly, and a nuke going off in Las Vegas, which was nowhere near as awesome as I hoped. Probably explains why I haven't really checked for anything else adapted from Stephen King ever since, with the exceptions of The Green Mile (1999) and The Mist (2007).

X (R.J's Death)
Ti West, 2022

Ti West's return to making horror films with not one, but two fine films, was a sterling comeback. X was a wonderful slasher period piece that evoked the early films of Tobe Hopper and general seventies grindhouse. A slow burner for sure, but the journey was just as much fun as its gruesomely final destination. Mia Goth became 2022's face of horror well before that prequel monologue when she grossed me out as the geriatric and horny psychopath, Pearl. The scene where she's turned down from her sexual advances by R.J while Don't Fear the Reaper blares out from his car's stereo, is a sight to behold. The spray of blood over the car's illuminating headlight, basking the gruesomely violent murder scene in a crimson red is Argentoesque to say the least. Absolutely beautiful.

Sadly, the legacy of the song has descended into insufferable brainlets reviving an ancient meme from a primordial era SNL sketch, and YouTubers incorporating it their awful fan videos, which have successfully rick rolled me while searching for actual ripped movies scenes on the net. Might explain why I prefer B.O.C's Godzilla these days.

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

The Atrophy and the Ecstasy

Blind Beast (Yosuzô Masumura, 1969)

Cultural historians cite "the pill" as sparking off the sexual revolution, free love and drugged-up hippies; trends synonymous with the swinging sixties and early seventies. The world of film serves as a historical insight for those of us who weren't around in garnering some modest and skewered notion of what times were like back then. Judging by the works of notable erotic film directors like Walerian Borowczyk, Radley Metzger and Jesús Franco, I'm under the impression everyone was as it like rabbits. Japan was no different as the decade bore the Pink film, AKA Pinku eika.

Based upon Edogawa Rampo's 1931 novel, Moju: The Blind Beast, Yosuzô Masumura's Blind Beast is a perfect, yet disturbing example of this hedonistic period in film. More commonly labelled as an erotic horror, however, other than its finale, a more accurate description would be it's a psycho-sexual drama. In many ways, the film has a lot in common with William Wyler's obsessive tale The Collector (1965) and Pierro Schivazappa's battle of the sexes, The Laughing Woman (1969), AKA Femina Ridens, but it proceeds in its own unique direction once it reaches a pivotal juncture in the plot.

Aki is a beautiful model, who becomes the object of desire for Michio, the blind sculptor. The sightless virtuoso maybe a gifted artist, but, alas, not a pick-up artist. Conning his way as Aki's substitute masseur, he sweeps her off her feet via the aid of chloroform rather than chirpsing. Aidied by Michio's mother, Aki is kept prisoner in a dark studio decorated by various human body parts sculpted by Michio. Aki is forced to be her abducter's muse for his greatest sculpture. Thus, plenty of groping and fondelling ensues. Blind Beast chronicles Aki's eventual submission and love for Michio.

A compelling exhibition of Stockholm syndrome, where insanity and lust are in equal measure. Imprisoned for so long in her enclosure, Aki develops visusal atrophy and is left blind like her captor turned lover. The couple, addicted to each other's touching eventually become desensitised to this. Stronger displays of carnal affection manifest into S&M fetishism and even further extremes of sexual depravity, leading up to the film's show stopping finale.

Blind Beast is fairly minimalist; only three major characters and the majority of it is shot inside Michio's surreal looking studio. It's surprisingly well lit considering its gloomy location, and as already mentioned, a visual treat thanks to all the body parts adorning the walls. It makes for an unforgettable back drop in this macabre love tale. Its tone, along with the actors' performances are sincere and mature enough to never make the film appear salacious or truly exploitive. That might sound contradictive considering it falls under the pink film umbrella, but it equally crosses over into serious cinema territory to me. There's some telegraphed forshadowing which eventually comes to light for the film's unforgettable climax; a disturbing yet poetic bookend to the film, in my opinion.

Problematic by today's standards, Blind Beast is still a great film; which says a lot, since with the notable exception of Meiko Kaji's early run as Nami Matsushima in the Female Prisoner Scorpion franchise, the pinku eika I've sat through have been either dull or just down right nasty like the Entrails of a... films. Blind Beast is a rare winner in this category and makes me willing to give the genre another shot.