Archive for May, 2014

Mother’s Day!!!

Posted in Uncategorized on May 11, 2014 by Brain Hammer

I’m so proud of my boys. They never forget their momma.

MOTHER’S DAY (1980)

This holiday favorite begins inside a rather tatty looking self help meeting. After the groovy graduation ceremony, a young couple bums a ride home from a sweet looking old lady. The shady acting couple seem to have sinister intentions, and when the old woman’s car suddenly breaks down on a lonely stretch of road in the woods her imminent demise seems inevitable. Suddenly a pair of masked psychopaths show up and attack the couple. They swiftly decapitate the dude sitting in the backseat and then violently assault the girl on the roof of the car. Then things take a turn for the bizarre when the old woman joins in. She kisses and strangles the girl and then congratulates the killers for a job well done. The masked psychos are the demented old woman’s sons – Ike & Addley, and they have made their mother VERY proud!

As the opening credits roll we take a trip down memory lane with a tasty trio of wacky prank pulling college roommates that call themselves the rat pack. We then get to spend a little quality time with each of the girls, now all grown up after college. Trina is a pool party throwing high roller enjoying the fast life in Beverly Hills, Abbey is a mousy loser suffering under her sick and dying mother’s oppression in a tiny apartment in Chicago, and Jackie is a spineless slut constantly being taken advantage of by sleazy men in the Big Apple. The girls had made a vow to stay friends forever and reunite once a year for a mystery weekend where they meet at a different place chosen by that year’s leader.

This year it’s Jackie’s turn to pick the destination and she chooses an out of the way stretch of woods in upstate New York called Deep Barrons. A toothless prophet of doom in a country store warns the “Lez-Beans” not to go messin’ up in Deep Barrons, but being your typical know-it-all city slickers they choose to ignore him. The gals set up camp and have a few laughs stepping in bear shit, fishing, and splashing around topless in the river. We’re then treated to an unbearably wacky 70′s flashback of the rat pack in action, humiliating a dipshit former lover of Jackie’s named Dobber to the tune of Tommy James & The Shontelle’s classic “I Think We’re Alone Now!” The fun is short lived however. Unfortunately for the girls, Deep Barrons also happens to the home of Ike, Addley, and Momma!

Soon enough, the girls are abducted by Ike & Addley and are dragged kicking screaming inside their sleeping bags back to their isolated house deep in the woods. It turns out that Mother is training her sons to be the very best murderers and rapists that they can be. She also needs her sons for protection, as she is convinced that her supposedly dead, feral sister Queenie is actually still alive and stalking the woods at night. As expected, her beloved boys Ike & Addley are a real pair of winners. They have a Sesame Street alarm clock in their bedroom, brush their teeth with beer, eat EZ Cheese out of the can, and debate endlessly as to whether “Punk Sucks” or “Disco’s Stupid” (reminds me of some of my former house mates!). They are also consummate media junkies, with a television constantly blaring in the living room. Being called a sadistic motherfucker simply makes Ike smirk but the accusation of being “backwoods” is enough to make him snap and exclaim “Don’t you ever say backwoods again! We’re CITY-FIED! You look around!”

The two dim witted savages have a blast humiliating, beating, and raping Jackie, as Mother happily watches and barks out orders. The next morning during the brothers’ daily workout the girls manage to escape, but Jackie is badly injured and Abbey suffers a nasty hand wound in the process. Trina tries to make a break for their car but discovers that the brothers have already sabotaged it and that there is no way to escape. Jackie dies soon afterwards from her wounds and her tragic death inspires Trina & Abbey to swear revenge. The girls pool their resources and begin an unbelievable final assault on the sadistic family, which includes hatchets to the groin, electric knife chest carving, Drano down the throat, television set head bashing, and suffocation via inflatable breasts! And just when you think you’ve seen it all, the always annoying post- “Carrie” shock epilogue is unleashed to further assault the audience. If you go down to the woods today…

This infamous 1980 revenge epic from writer/director Charles Kaufman is easily my favorite of Troma’s original productions (I almost always prefer the films that they only distribute). This one is a lot less silly than the usual Troma fare and plays out more in the depraved and violent vein of clas-sick flicks like “Last House On The Left.” Your brain will be battered by the constant switching of tones, which vary from light hearted comedy to gut punching misery. The special effects are also hit and miss. The opening decapitation is laughably fake, while the hand wound later suffered by Abbey is hideously realistic looking. Either way, there is plenty of nasty splatter throughout to keep the gorehounds happy. I have to say that the “Shirley Temple” rape scene, which includes forced role play, photography of the outrage, and a particularly savage beating is one of the most disturbing that I’ve seen. This especially brutal scene makes the final turning of the tables against the rapists even more satisfying.

Another big positive is the surprising amount of characterization on display. The opening scenes of the girl’s day-to-day lives give us considerable insight into their characters and add a lot of impact to the film’s climax as well. There’s a lot of irony and a considerable amount of satire too. I’d say more, but I don’t want to ruin any of the surprises. Speaking of surprises, the tacked on shock-ending is pretty weak in my opinion. It doesn’t ruin the film by any means, but it’s a bit of a groaner. Bonus points if you see it coming, as a lot of fans seem to miss the obvious set up on their first viewing. I’ve been a big fan of this one since my days as a wee, impressionable Brain Hammer. Unbelievably, my parents let me watch this one more than once, which is another big reason why I am insane. When I first started collecting horror flicks on VHS, the Media Home Video release of MOTHER’S DAY was one of the first tapes I tracked down. I actually wore out my first copy from repeat viewings and had to replace it, which is a testament to just how entertaining this clas-sick flick really is.

As to be expected, the wacky bastards at Troma released a beautiful digitally mastered director’s cut dvd of MOTHER’S DAY. The bonus features include a very informative and funny commentary track by Charles Kaufman, interviews with, and a special introduction by the Kaufman family, and all of the other cheesy crap you’ve come to love and expect from a Troma dvd, including tons of trailers and the always touching Power Of The Radiation March. This all time, independent horror clas-sick demands a spot in any respectable collection. Never forget your momma!

KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING!!! 

 

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Tenement!

Posted in Uncategorized on May 3, 2014 by Brain Hammer

Slaughter In The South Bronx!

TENEMENT (1985)

TENEMENT is the tender tale of a rat infested slum in the South Bronx taken hostage by a crazed gang of junkie street punks. The tenement’s greasy and loathsome superintendent Hector finally gets fed up with the gang using the basement as their personal shooting gallery (in more ways than one) and calls the cops on them. The police show up and remove the gang from the tenement, and Hector and the rest of the tenants throw themselves a little party to celebrate.

Sadly, the good times don’t last long, as the gang is released only a few hours after being arrested. The leader of the gang, Chaco, swears bloody revenge on the apartment dwellers and vows to take “his building”  back. His plan of attack is simple: cut the phone lines, take over the building one floor at a time, and rape, torture, and terrorize every single tenant before violently killing them. The hapless and helpless tenants have no choice but to band together against the maniacs and fight for their lives. The building becomes a battlefield of madness and the game of survival begins. The game is played with knives, guns, drugs & sex… there can only be one winner!

TENEMENT (aka Game Of Survival) has the unique claim to fame of being the very first genre flick in the 80′s to repeatedly receive an X rating from the MPAA for excessive violence. The film was also denied a UK video release. The clas-sick tag line “Too violent to be rated!” was more than just hype, it was a fact! The film had to be released unrated, and I honestly can’t imagine watching it any other way and enjoying it. This has to be considered one of the most spectacularly gruesome exploitation flicks of all time. Chaco’s army arm themselves with machetes, knives, and guns, and the death scenes are always excessive and gory. The most notorious moment of the film has to be the incredibly vicious scene where a woman is raped to death with a broomstick. This nasty scene is especially disturbing because of how much the gang beats the woman before, during, and after the rape, and because the victim’s young daughter witnesses the bloody aftermath. For sheer brutality, this scene rivals anything else I can think of.

But there’s more! A seeing eye dog is gutted, a fat chick has her throat slit, a old Jewish lady runs around gingerly hitting punks with a baseball bat, a horny and insistent John gets impaled with a crowbar, a tubby Puerto Rican woman in purple pants falls out of a window, a gutter skank has blood lovingly smeared on her tits and later has a refrigerator dropped on her head, and the bug eyed guy who played “Cigar Face” in “The Toxic Avenger” overdoses on rat poison! WOW! This insanity all leads up to a spectacular thundershower showdown on the roof of the building between a pregnant woman and the leader of the gang that should make fans of sleazy and violent revenge flicks finally stand up and cheer.

This flick is a real crowd pleaser…if you can stomach the graphic violence and then endure the long stretches of the film where nothing really happens. I’m a big fan of this flick, and have enjoyed numerous viewings over the years, but I have to admit that it’s far from perfect. The biggest problem with the film is the fact that the pacing sucks. The scenes where the building is being taken over by the punks should always be riveting, but they often wind up feeling tedious. You’ll have a great death scene or two, and then a long meandering stretch of the gang trashing up empty apartments or worthless scenes with the tenants bickering with each other.

The tenants are the other big problem with the film. It’s almost impossible to feel sorry for them or cheer them on. It doesn’t help matters that the super is a vile, racist alcoholic, and that his tenants are an odd assortment of feeble old ladies, drunks, cheap prostitutes and their strung out boyfriends, and a gaggle of welfare moms and their bastard offspring. They spend the majority of the film incessantly arguing with each other or pathetically begging “Mr. Washington” to help them. Mr. Washington (actor Joe Lynn) is our angry, loner hero who also happens to live in the tenement and plays a mean saxophone. He’s a big Black bad ass in the proud Fred Williamson tradition. Mr. Washington eventually rallies the troops and saves the day, despite the fact he really doesn’t want to…and I really can’t blame him. I actually find myself rooting for Chaco, but only because he slightly resembles Steve Perry from Journey. Speaking of music, the theme song for this one is a rap number by the Kool Krew that is pretty much the dopest thing ever recorded! Any complaints about this flick are instantly made irrelevant by that kick ass theme song. It’s also worth mentioning that the film’s one-sheet poster was drawn by none other than John Fasano of “Rock ‘n’Roll Nightmare” legend! That little factoid alone makes this flick Brain Hammer approved.

The fine fiends at Shriek Show were sick enough to release TENEMENT uncut on dvd. The special features include a very entertaining interview and director’s commentary with Roberta Findlay. Roberta is a fucking blast to listen to here as she claims the script reminded her of her childhood! She tells incredible stories about discovering a dead bear and assorted human remains while shooting the film in the South Bronx! Good gritty, gory fun! I can’t recommend this one highly enough. You can also find TENEMENT included in Shriek Show’s “Grindhouse Psychos!” triple feature set along with “Cop Killers” and another personal favorite of mine – “Don’t Go In The House.” Essential exploitation and a must have in any respectable scumbag’s collection.

KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING!!!