Archive for June, 2013

River’s Edge!

Posted in Uncategorized on June 20, 2013 by Brain Hammer

Check’s in the mail!

RIVER’S EDGE (1986)

Samson ‘John’ Tollet is a big gumpy teen (played to chilling perfection by Daniel Roebuck) who one day randomly decides to choke his girlfriend Jamie to death…because “she was talking shit.” Without anything resembling remorse, John leaves her naked corpse in plain sight in a semi-secluded spot by a local river where his fellow teenage dirtbags gather to get wasted. The only witness to the murder is a budding juvenile delinquent with serious emotional issues named Tim (the one and only Joshua John Miller, best known for his memorable appearance in “Near Dark“). Tim later catches up with John at the local convenience store and wins him over with a couple of cans of stolen Coors. John in return treats him to a little Hallow’s Eve and a ride to score some dope.

Afterwards, John staggers off to school. He casually tells his incredibly annoying speed freak friend Layne (Crispin Glover!) that he “killed her,” and soon afterwards a bunch of kids, including Tim’s pothead fuckbrain brother Matt (Keanu Reeves – whoa!) are going to the river’s edge to get a first-hand look at death. What’s strange is that even after multiple trips to see the body, no one except for Layne seems to be really effected or concerned by any of this, including the dead girl’s friends Clarissa (Ione Skye) and Maggie (Roxana Zal) or even her killer. Layne then takes it upon himself to personally handle the situation. “This is like some fuckin’ movie. Friends since second grade, fuckin’ like THIS and then one of us gets himself in potentially BIG trouble, and now we’ve gotta deal with it; we’ve got to test our loyalty against ALL odds. It’s kind of… exciting. I feel like… Chuck Norris, y’know? “

Jamie’s body is finally discovered by police after they are tipped off by an anonymous phone call. In desperation, Layne decides to stash John away at the home of their crazy old pot dealer – Feck (the late, great Dennis Hopper!). Feck is a gun toting lunatic and demented former biker (Yeah, years ago. Oh, man. I ate so much pussy in those days, my beard looked like a glazed doughnut.) who lost one of his legs and most of his sanity in an accident years before. “My leg was right out in the middle of the street. I remember lying in the gutter and bleeding and shit, staring at my leg, right next to a beer can. And I remember thinking, that’s my leg… I wonder if there’s any beer in that can.” Feck is also an outlaw fugitive, wanted for the murder of the woman he loved. He put the gun the back of her head and blew her brains out the front because he was in love. John and Feck immediately bond over weed and murder, and along with Feck’s trusty blow up doll Ellie, eventually decide to split and go grab some beers.

Meanwhile, Layne wages war against the circuits inside. “The people that own this place have them all reconnected caused they know that if I ever learned this machine I’d take control of the fucking universe!” He tries in vain to score some money from his broke ass friend Tony (who also plays guitar) and his best girl Clarissa so that John can leave town. “I’m sorry Clarissa, but you’ve got to understand that in a time like this where every fucking second counts, a man can’t waste his time choosing words.” Disgruntled Clarissa winds up falling for (and pretty much raping) pothead fuckbrain Matt, who himself had just gotten into a nasty fight with his little brother Tim, and a verbal showdown with the MOTHERFUCKER and FOODEATER who was trying to sleep upstairs.

Tim holds a deadly grudge against his pothead fuckbrain brother and decides it’s time to get your nunchuks and your dad’s car. He knows where we can get a gun. The next morning, there is another dead body at the river’s edge. “You understand, don’t you? Sure you do. I don’t like killing people.But sometimes it’s necessary. That’s enough for now. I, I’d like you all to leave now. Very tired. Sort of depressed. I lost a good friend today, y’know…”

Director Tim Hunter’s 1986 film RIVER’S EDGE is the rare PICK FROM THE CRYPT that is NOT a horror or exploitation movie, but the soundtrack is primarily SLAYER, and this flick is a fucking must see! The disturbing storyline, which was written by Neal Jimenez, was inspired by a real life murder that took place in California in 1981. A teen named Marcy Renee Conrad was raped and strangled by her boyfriend Anthony Jacques Broussard, and Broussard later showed as many as 13 different people her corpse before someone finally reported the crime. This story became the basis of the film, but “River’s Edge” is hardly a generic “true crime” pot boiler, there is a lot more going on.

Kids are falling in and out of love (sort of), brothers are torn apart and brought back together, cute little girls mourn the loss of their beloved playthings, single mothers decide it’s really not worth all the effort, aged hippy teachers express their outrage at the bad taste of the whole disgusting spectacle…lots and lots of thoroughly wretched and all too believable teenage drama. What’s amazing is how profoundly moving, disturbing, AND hilarious this low budget film manages to be. (Aw, fuck off, Kevin. Wasting pigs is radical, man.) There are a lot of fantastic scenes worth mentioning, but my favorite is the epic conversation between Daniel Roebuck & Dennis Hopper where they discuss what it’s like to kill and why they did it. “She was ok.” The final moments we spend with Daniel, Dennis, and Ellie at the river’s edge are genuinely sad and chilling.

But even with those tremendous performances on hand, Crispin Glover still manages to pretty much steal the whole fucking movie. (as usual!) His performance here is so hilariously over the top and on EDGE that you have to wonder how much of it is acting. He also scores most of the film’s most memorable lines, including the legendary “HURRY YOUR ASS!” I also love the fact that “Show No Mercy” never seems to leave his tape deck. Then of course, there’s the incredible soundtrack. Pure SPEED METAL with the likes of “Captor Of Sin,” “Tormentor,” “Evil Has No Boundaries,” and “Die By The Sword” by Slayer, the haunting “Kyrie Eleison” by Fates Warning, and the head crushing “Lethal Tendencies” from underrated thrashers Hallow’s Eve. There’s also some rad punk rock from Agent Orange & The Wipers, along with some “chill” tracks from Burning Spear and Hank Ballard. It’s an absolutely killer soundtrack that perfectly captures the grimy speeded out intensity of fast living, misspent youth.     

The hilariously misleading trailers for this one proclaimed it to be “the Rebel Without A Cause of the 80’s,” but I prefer to think of it as the “Suburbia” of heavy metal. It’s a superior drama (River’s Edge was awarded Best Picture at the 1986 Independent Spirit Awards) with the type of greasy, long haired degenerate youth that you could only find back in the day. It’s also one of the rare films that gets better with repeat viewings, and trust me – I’ve sat through quite a few over the years. RIVER’S EDGE is currently available on a bare bones DVD from MGM, and can also be found in a nifty Dennis Hopper “Collection” that also includes the David Lynch clas-sick “Blue Velvet!” Either way, there’s no excuse for not having this one in your collection. It’s people like you that are sending this country down the tubes. No sense of pride. No sense of loyalty. No sense of NOTHING, man!

HAIL CRISPIN GLOVER!!! KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING!!!

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Combat Shock!

Posted in Uncategorized on June 12, 2013 by Brain Hammer

Fighting, killing, maiming. Agent orange and the torture cages were the easy part!

COMBAT SHOCK (1986)

Welcome to a nightmarish, nihilistic look at a combat-shocked Vietnam vet’s last miserable day on Earth. Frankie lives in a shithole apartment in NYC with his horribly rancid and nagging wife and his hideously deformed and shrieking baby. Little Frankie junior is a rather revolting side effect of Frankie’s exposure to Agent Orange while fighting, maiming, and killing in the fields of Vietnam. Frankie had a run of bad luck in Nam that included being falsely accused of slaughtering the denizens of a sleeping village, and being captured and tortured by the V.C.

Agent Orange and torture cages were the easy part! Frankie’s real struggle for survival begins when he escapes and the nightmare follows him back home. Frankie is haunted by grisly flashbacks of the many atrocities he witnessed in Vietnam. He’s also unable to find work, and his impoverished family slowly begins starving to death. To add insult to injury, Frankie spends most of what ultimately becomes his final day wasting away in an unemployment line. As he slowly makes his way to and from the unemployment office, he rubs elbows with a haggard assortment of humanity that includes jive talkin’ pimps, starving child prostitutes, motorcycle riding skanks, strung out former friends willing to do anything to feed their habits, and the neighborhood dope dealer and his murderous thugs.

The battlefield may have changed, but the war was still on. When finally pushed beyond his breaking point, Frankie decides that only death can bring salvation from the horror of reality. Frankie’s enemies and loved ones alike find that salvation at the end of a gun. Street trash are shot to pieces, a pregnant woman takes lead in her stomach, and a screeching infant is blasted and then put in an oven. After a busy and productive day spent saving lives, the soldier of misfortune settles down at his kitchen table with a tall glass of rotten milk and contemplates his future.

There are few films that are as totally hopeless as COMBAT SHOCK. This movie is absolutely vicious in its desire to shock and horrify. It’s incredibly effective because it’s totally based in grim, uncompromising reality. The events and characters of this film are all sketches of the real life victims of poverty, drug addiction, violence, and warfare. Writer, producer, and director Buddy Giovinazzo has my highest respect for making such a brutal and shocking film. It almost defies criticism in my eyes because it feels so fucking real. I consider this one to be one of the very best combat films ever made because it delves much deeper into the horrible aftermath than any other film I’ve seen. There were untold numbers of Vietnam vets that came home from the war and faced the same sort of problems adjusting back into society. It’s a problem that persists to this day. The headlines of today frequently feature stories of battle scared soldiers that return home from the Gulf or Afghanistan and wind up going on a killing spree, often slaying their own families. “Combat Shock” was, and will always be a film that speaks the truth about the brutality of warfare and poverty.

There are other genre flicks that can easily top “Combat Shock” in terms of splatter, but few can come close to matching the sheer overwhelming gut-punch that this one delivers. “Combat Shock” could accurately be called the bastard stepchild of “Eraserhead” & “Taxi Driver.” The film plays out very slowly, much like a nightmare, and the films’ alternate title “American Nightmares” is more than appropriate. Any complaints about the slack, dream-like pacing of the beginning of the film should be erased the minute a junkie attempts to shoot up with a coat hanger. The Vietnam footage is also especially gruesome and features plenty of blasted-off limbs, severed heads, and gutted corpses. The sheer amount of bone crunching action that is packed into such a low budget, homemade horror flick is amazing. The majority of the ultra-violent Vietnam footage was shot in Buddy’s backyard, which must have led to some very interesting conversations with the neighbors

Giovinazzo makes good use of rapid fire editing and cheap but interesting looking visual effects that put viewers inside the damaged mind of our hero. “Combat Shock” is highly effective as a character study, and it obviously works big time as an exploitation flick. Rick Giovinazzo (Buddy’s brother) also deserves special praise for his captivating, low-key starring performance. He carries the entire film from start to finish, and his final scenes are chilling. The ending of this flick never fails to turn my stomach, no matter how many times I’ve seen it. This isn’t exactly what you would call a “feel good” sort of film, but I consider it a must see flick for sick fucks with a taste for truly shocking sleaze.

COMBAT SHOCK has a well deserved reputation for being one of the most notorious independent films of the clas-sick VHS era. The good folks at Troma have been spreading the misery of “Combat Shock” on home video for years. Their latest urban assault was an incredible 2-disc uncut 25thanniversary edition that includes an arsenal of bonus features. The goodies include two versions of the film, a director’s commentary, an all-new documentary exploring the impact and legacy of the film, never before released short films and early music videos, and a slew of exclusive interviews. A dvd collection without a copy of this one is shit to me so buy or die.

KEEP THE BLOOD & MILK FLOWING!!!

Zombi Holocaust!

Posted in Uncategorized on June 10, 2013 by Brain Hammer

I could easily kill you now, but I’m determined to have your brain!

ZOMBI HOLOCAUST (1980)

Ian McCulloch (“Zombi II,” “Contamination”) stars as a NYC detective named Peter Chandler. Peter teams up with the beautiful and brilliant Dr. Lori Ridgeway (Alexandra Delli Colli – “The New York Ripper”) to investigate a bizarre series of cadaver mutilations occurring at a hospital. Corpses begin unexpectedly turning up with freshly removed limbs and internal organs. The deviant butcher is revealed to be a hospital orderly; a native of the primitive island of Kito named Turin. Crazed with an infernal blood lust, Turin refuses to be captured by police and instead jumps out of a window to his death (watch out for the mannequin arm that snaps off and flies away!).

Coincidentally enough, Lori is an expert in anthropology who also grew up in Kito as a child. Lori assures Peter that “all primitive people practiced cannibalism – without exception,” and yet Peter is convinced that the answers to the mysterious mutilations will be found in Kito. Peter convinces her to return to the remote island on the Archipelago along with himself, detective George Harper (Peter O’ Neil) and George’s annoying reporter girlfriend Susan (Sherry Buchanan). Peter contacts a world famous surgeon named Dr. Obrero (the legendary Donald O’ Brien, who starred in countless Italian epics) who heals the natives in the small islands surrounding Kito. Dr. Obrero warns the group that the natives of Kito are the most savage that he has ever encountered, and that they reject any attempts of being civilized. He then kindly offers the group a boat to Kito, along with his dimwitted assistant Molotto (Dakar, who played a similar role in “Zombi II”) as a captain/guide.

Shortly after arriving at Kito, the gang is welcomed to the jungle by the fierce cannibal tribe. The cannibals quickly make a hot lunch out of the trio of hapless young natives that were working as the group’s guides. The following day the cannibals easily manage to capture both George and Susan. George has his eyes gouged out shortly before losing his limbs, and Susan is apparently scalped, as one of the nasty savages is later found wearing her bloody hair as a wig. Peter and Lori are about to meet the same gruesome fate, and are then saved from their imminent devourment by the inexplicable appearance of the walking dead! The rotting zombies quickly scare off the cannibals, which gives Peter, Lori, and Molotto enough time to escape and run away.

They eventually meet up with Dr. Obrero at a nearby chapel and the good Doctor again offers them a helping hand, this time in the form of a small motor boat that he claims is located just up the beach. After a wild battle on the beach where he reduces a zombie’s face to pulp with an outboard motor, Peter begins to smell a rat and starts to suspect that Dr. Obrero might be hiding a secret even more sinister than the cannibals or the zombies. His suspicions quickly lead himself and Lori back into danger, and it isn’t long before Peter gets an up close and personal look at Dr. Obrero’s medical deviancy. Doctor Butcher M.D. has been anxious to experiment with a male Caucasian brain. Lori escapes but is captured by the cannibal tribe, stripped nude, and then treated as a golden goddess by an Ace Frehley lookalike in a bizarre mating ritual. Tonight, the dead shall rise…again!

Marino Girolami’s ZOMBI HOLOCAUST is one of my favorite Italian horror flicks. It’s also an undisputed grindhouse clas-sick. This one was marketed to sleazy perfection in the States by the notorious Aquarius Releasing under the title “Dr. Butcher M.D.” Aquarius bought the rights to the film in 1982 and added the groovy new title, an annoying synthesizer score, and a pointless opening title sequence featuring a zombie rising from a grave, which was taken from an unfinished anthology film titled “Tales To Rip Your Heart Out.” Their immortal tag line “He is a depraved sadistic rapist, a bloodthirsty homicidal killer – and he makes house calls!” is one of the greatest of all time. That description of the film is completely inaccurate of course, but they don’t call them exploitation flicks for nothing! The misleading marketing of the film and the opening scenes that take place in NYC set this up as more of a simple slasher flick and that works at keeping the unsuspecting first time viewer off guard before the real mayhem ensues. 

“Zombi Holocaust” can best be described as a brutal combination of the always popular cannibal and zombie sub genres. Once the four idiots make their way into the jungle the flick plays out in similar fashion to cannibal clas-sicks like “Cannibal Ferox” and “Emmanuelle And The Last Cannibals.” Then the zombies finally show up and the shit really hits the fan as the film wraps itself up and begins shamelessly ripping off Fulci’s “Zombi II.” The ending of the film, which takes place in a burning primitive hospital is a direct lift from Fulci’s film. On the plus side, the splatter in this flick is simply outrageous. There’s a very juicy neck slitting that I particularly enjoy.The scenes of Dr. Butcher in action, as he hacks away at Sherry Buchanan’s brain and vocal chords (prompting the immortal line “The patient’s screaming disturbing me, performed removal of vocal chords.”) are also especially pukeworthy.The unbeatable combination of cannibals, zombies, and primitive brain surgery ensures that no flesh will be spared and guarantees a good time for gorehounds.

The undead hordes at Shriek Show released an excellent dvd of ZOMBI HOLOCAUST that includes an uncut anamorphic wide screen transfer, and more bonus features than you can shake a rotting limb at. The goodies include a very cool deleted scene featuring Ian McCulloch battling a cannibal to the death, bonus scenes from Roy Frumke’s unfinished film “Tales That’ll Rip Your Heart Out” that were originally added to the US theatrical version, still and poster gallery, trailers, talent bios, and an interview with the legendary special effects maestro Maurizio Trani (Zombi, The Beyond). There’s also some fantastic liner notes from writer Chris Poggiali and some truly nifty reversible cover art. Good gory fun!

KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING!!!