Thursday, July 24, 2008

Obligatory Zombie Reference

Well, goddamn. One post in-- one-- and I fall silent for over two months. You should never leave me in charge of your baby.

ANYWAY, I'm really really sorry for not posting more and stuff. Beginning pretty much the day after I made my first/last post, I've been caught up in all sorts of real-world obligations that probably warrant my attention more than picking apart crappy movies on the internet. But not to worry-- stuff's beginning to settle down, and soon I'll be able to recommence my cyber-wankery. So sit tight, and soon you'll be wishing I'd shut up and leave the damn house.

Oh, and just so this post has a point to it beyond empty self-effacement, here's a clip of Anton LaVey playing circus music on a calliope:

Friday, May 9, 2008

I Drink Your Blood

I Drink Your Blood (1970)
Directed by David Durston

Starring: Bhaskar, Iris Brooks, Riley Mills, Lynn Lowry

In picking the movie for this, the first review of the site, I realized that I needed to find just the right one, the movie that would set the tone for the rest to come. I needed a movie that would sum up everything I'm going for in this blog. A movie that I love without reservation, yet simultaneously acknowledge that it is, by no stretch of the imagination, a good movie.

That movie, at least for the moment, is I Drink Your Blood.

I Drink Your Blood is a prime example of a subgenre I like to refer to as "sun-drenched horror" (I have no idea if there is actually an accepted term for this genre, and don't particularly feel like wading through the fansites to find out). Horror fans should know the type I mean: grainy, oversaturated colors, vaguely hippie-ish characters, soundtracks that alternate between lilting 70s folk and skronky, primitive synthesizers. Prime examples of this genre include Last House on the Left and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. These films generally balance their pastoral feel with scenes of unusually brutal violence (though not always-- see Let's Scare Jessica to Death), and fill their casts with wildly exaggerated character actors (or, just as frequently, non-actors).

I Drink Your Blood has all of these elements in spades, starting in the very first scene. We open on a group of naked, Satanic hippies holding generic devil-rites around a campfire. They are presided over by Horace Bones, a muscular gentleman who talks like Ricardo Montelbahn and looks like Danzig. "Let it be known, sons and daughters, that Satan was an acidhead!" he intones. "Drink from his cup. Pledge yourselves. And together, we will all freak out!" Yeah... Pretty much all of Horace's dialog is like that. Then, just in case you didn't get the idea that they love the devil, Horace cuts off a chicken's head and drizzles blood on a naked woman covered in beads.

This, unfortunately, elicits a gasp from local girl Sylvia, who has been watching the proceedings from behind a tree. The devil hippies notice her, give chase, and, um, rape her (that's one of the downsides of horror movies in the 70s: they love them some rape). While this is going on, clean-cut Andy asks Horace if they can maybe lay off of her, since he met her earlier and invited her (to hide in the bushes?). This is clearly meant to establish Andy as the Sensitive One. Just not sensitive enough to, you know, do anything about it.

Morning breaks, and we're introduced to the rest of the gang. They follow all the expected archetypes: the Skeptic; the Slut; the Pregnant, Wig-Wearing White Trash Woman; the Flamboyant Black Man Who Probably Spent Some Time In Community Theater; the Old Asian Woman Who Speaks Only In Proverbs; and the Supercute Mute Chick (here played by Lynn Lowry, who you might remember as the Supercute Crazy Chick in The Crazies). The makeup of this gang reminds me of the movies I used to make with my friends in high school, where the cast of characters was determined by what costumes we could find and what voices each of us felt like using.

Sylvia, meanwhile, staggers home to the care of her grandfather, the local vet, and her little brother Pete. Pete could easily serve as the posterboy for my theory that, with very few exceptions (Danny in The Shining, Corey Feldman in Friday the 13th Part IV), children in horror movies are never, ever good news. If they're not possessed by the devil (which is about a 50/50 proposition), they're detrimental enough that they might as well be. At best, they slow down the heroes, and at worst, they actively add to the problem. Ten-year-old Pete, as portrayed by Riley Mills, appears to be a singularly horrible human being. He's constantly scowling, whining, and stomping his feet. He's like a tiny Richard Dreyfus. Okay, a tinier Richard Dreyfus.

Anyway, back to the hippies, who have taken up residence in a local abandoned hotel. Pete attempts to dissuade them by telling them that it's haunted and full of rats; "Then we'll have a RAT HUNT!" Horace exclaims. This leads to about five minutes of the hippies smashing furniture, firing guns, and waving dead rats in each other's faces. Eventually, black-power theater dork Rollo catches the most rats, leading to a rather graphic rat shish kabob. Rollo's prize is that he gets to be "Supreme Leader of SADOS" for the night; one thing leads to another, and eventually skeptical Shelly is swung from the rafters with a gushing footwound.

Back at the ranch, Sylvia wakes up and fingers the hippies, leading Grandpa to don his straw hat and hunting rifle (becoming the spitting image of William S. Burroughs) and tries to go all Straw Dogs on their ass. Things go less than swimmingly; he only manages to interrupt their game of human Spiral Art before getting socked in the gut and forcefed LSD. Pete helps him home, leading to some of the greatest dialog ever written about drugs:
SYLVIA: He's not drunk, stupid! He's been doped! With that stuff that they call LSD!
PETE: What does it do, that L-whatever-you-call-it?
SYLVIA: Boy, you really don't know anything! Well, it makes a person crazy!
Okay... Here's the part where Pete crosses the line from "somewhat annoying" to "jaw-droppingly evil." After watching Grandpa sob for a while and use the salt and pepper shakers as devil horns, Pete sneaks off and grabs the shotgun (!), presumably to succeed where his grandfather has failed. Before he can get to the hotel, however, he is waylaid by a rabid German shepherd, which he shoots and kills. This apparently gives him an idea: he returns home, packs up some of his grandfather's veterinary equipment, draws some blood from the dog, and INJECTS IT INTO THE HIPPIES' MEAT PIES.

Now, let's be clear here: this means that every bad thing that happens, from here until the end of the movie, is directly Pete's fault. This isn't a case of a kid who hinders the success of the heroes by being a kid. This is a case of a kid who is fucking PSYCHOTIC. The movie never really addresses this, either; all we get is one scene of him getting mildly scolded by Sylvia. Pete never shows any remorse, and he never gets his come-uppance. He remains a wholly amoral entity.

Anyway, the hippies eat the meat pies (except for Andy, of course), which naturally combines with the LSD to transform them into raging Super Hippies (I'm not positive that's how rabies works, but we'll go with it). After battling among themselves for a while (and finishing off Shelly), they evidently realize they can cover more ground separately, and split up. Mute Chick cuts off a homemaker's hand with an electric carving knife; Horace stumbles into a snake farm and dances with a python before attacking the union-suited owner; Rollo just kind of runs around the woods with an axe. Best of all, Token Slut finds herself in a gangbang with the entire construction staff of the local dam, which of course turns all of them into machete-wielding super-zombies (also, dam construction apparently involves a lot of machetes). From here on, the movie follows the standard zombie movie template, with the heroes frequently using garden hoses to ward them off (again, not entirely sure rabies works like that).

More than any authentic grindhouse movie I can think of, this movie feels like it could have been made for Grindhouse. The hysterical dialog, the cheesy (and plentiful) gore, and the obvious Manson influence make the movie feel like a parody of 70s horror, yet it is most certainly an authentic artifact of its time (indeed, it actually predates most of the movies it shares a genre with). Up until recently, it was apparently only available in a heavily truncated video print; fortunately, Fangoria has stepped up to the plate with a director's cut DVD that is way more lavish than a movie like I Drink Your Blood probably needs, and can be found at just about any Newbury Comics. That means you officially have no excuse to not see this. Go. Now.

The Movie in a Nutshell:
(while packing up the meat pies to give to the hippies)
MILDRED: We'll make a baker out of you yet, Pete!
PETE: Nope. I'm gonna be a veterinarian.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Obligatory Test Post/Mission Statement

Testing... Testing? Is this thing on? I said IS THIS THI-- Whoa! Feedback. Feedback. Ow. My ears. Jesus. I... I'm okay. Just give me a minute. Ow.

Okay then. Welcome, one and all, to the premiere post of Anti-Oscar, the latest "web log" (or "blog," as the gentleman on the morning news show calls them) devoted to movies that... well, that might fall by the wayside before the more casual filmgoer can get to it. These are the movies that collect dust at the back of the video store (or, more accurately these days, in the dumpster behind the Starbucks that used to be a video store). The ones that you find for a dollar at Walgreens because the copyright holders are fly-by-night distribution companies that have long since fled the country to dodge tax evasion charges. The ones that Quentin Tarantino watches.

I hesitate to call this a "bad" movie blog, because that phrase has long since lost all meaning for me. When someone asks me if a movie is any good, I can only shrug and tell them whether I enjoyed it or not. To me, something like Troll 2 is a FANTASTIC movie, because it's so much goddamn fun to watch. On the flip side, do you remember the movie Seabiscuit? It was one of the big Oscar contenders just a few years ago. I'll bet you even saw it. Can you remember one thing about it, other than that it had Tobey Maguire on a horse? So I cry foul, society! Who are you to declare what is a bad movie?

That said, there are going to be a lot of very, very bad movies on this site.

So anyway, that's the basic modus operandi around here. I'm going to try to shoot for a review a week, give or take a few. Needless to say, it'll probably take some time for me to firm up a voice and a format, so if you have any suggestions for improvement, by all means let me know. Even better, if you know a movie that you think needs to be on here, send it my way, and no matter how painful, I will subject myself to it.

Goff out!