Monday, November 30, 2015

Short Film: The Mystery of the Leaping Fish (USA,1916)

So here we have a truly odd fish of a public-domain film. (We couldn't resist saying that.)
In the simplest of terms, The Mystery of the Leaping Fish is a silent two-reeler comedy, a burlesque, one of many in general as well as one of the very few that the great silent (and later talkie) film star Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. (23 May 1883–12 Dec 1939) ever made. Also of note: the list of names involved aside from Fairbanks — script, Tod Browning (The Unknown [1927], Dracula [1931 / trailer], Freaks [1932 / trailer], Mark of the Vampire [1935 / trailer], The Devil Doll [1936 / trailer], and more more more); subtitles, Anita Loos (The Women [1939 / trailer]); direction, John Emerson and the fired Christy Cabanne* (The Mummy's Hand [1940 / trailer] & Scared to Death [1947 / trailer]); co-star Bessie Love (who began headlining films like The Lost World (1925 / full film) and ended as a character actress in movies like  the original Children of the Damned [1964 / trailer] and José Ramón Larraz's classic Vampyres [1974 / trailer]) — is exceptional to say the least.
And of note among the names of the background bit-players:  the beautiful but long-forgotten Alma Rubens  (19 Feb 1897 – 21 Jan 1931), whose career, ironically enough, collapsed due to her drug problems. Ironically, we say, because this pre-code comedy is all about drugs, and it's definitely not anti-drug either.
And what is The Mystery of the Leaping Fish about? Let's let the Worldwide Celluloid Massacre explain the film: "A short slapstick spoof on Sherlock Holmes from 1916 made into a cult item by its heavy use of drugs. Coke Ennyday (Fairbanks) is a detective who literally sets his clock by his drugs and carries syringes with him in order to function. He also eats opium paste right out of a can and disables assailants with drugs. He investigates the mystery of a man literally rolling in money to find out his secret and befriends a fish-blower: a woman (Love) who blows air into inflatable fish for people on the beach."
The short is, of course, normally silent; we know nothing about the music added to the background of the version found on YouTube below. 

* Christy Cabanne: a forgotten and unknown name now, but notable for being, along with Sam Newfield (The Monster Maker [1944]) and William Beaudine, one of the most prolific directors in the history of American films.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Misc. Film Fun: Live Long enough to Find the Right One (France, 2006)

Remember the Rubettes? Not by name, probably, but they were an assembled British pop band that, while a one-hit wonder in the US, were more successful in Europe. Their biggest international hit is without a doubt Sugar Baby Love (1974), but perhaps more notable is that they were one of the few pop groups in the 70s who had the balls to do a "serious" song about a gay figure, Under One Roof (1976) — it was not a hit in the US. (Interestingly enough, another "serious" song of the same year, Rod Stewart's The Killing of Georgie (Part I and II), was.)
The bubblegum pop song Sugar Baby Love, in any event, has popped up in a number of advertisements and TV shows and movies, including P. J. Hogan's super-popular Muriel's Wedding (1994 / trailer), which is more entertaining than the trailer lets you surmise,  and Neil Jordan's less-popular Breakfast on Pluto  (2005 / trailer), which is still on our To See list. And the song is used in full in this great French, computer-animated AIDS-prevention commercial from 2006, which won a Silver Lion at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival that same year. It tells a great story of surviving the ups and downs of life and living long enough to find the right one. It also uses some pretty nifty cinematic transitions and visual concepts that show more creativity than many a movie we've watched. And, lastly, it has a happy ending. It may be a commercial, but it is very much a cinematic experience. Enjoy.

The straight equivalent to this ad, by the way, using the The Vibrators' "punk" classic Baby Baby [1977], can be seen here. It is not as visually fun, is annoyingly Phyllis Schlafly in attitude, somewhat racist,* and oddly annoying and less enjoyable than the queer ad. It basically can be labelled FAIL. (Remember, all you vaginas out there: if you can't get a man and that house in the suburbs, your only option is to jump off a bridge. And while we're at it: face it, if you don't one day have kids, you are not a complete woman.)
* Though, actually, when remembering our wild years long ago as a teen in Washington, DC, when we slept with anything that moved, the "racist" interlude — sorry, fellow white guys — is true. (We confess to having played both Cowboys & Indians and with dolls well into our post-college years.)

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Wishmaster IV: The Prophecy Fulfilled (Canada, 2002)

Roughly a year ago, we caught the first Wishmaster (1997), which we found mildly entertaining: "as a horror film it offers little new or innovative, but it is a fun and at times almost campy film that goes well with, well, a six-pack, chips and a joint (which is actually what we consumed it with)." That we have now watched Wishmaster IV: The Prophecy Fulfilled has less to do with the fact that the first movie mildly entertained us than that we found a working copy of the DVD on the street — and despite the fact that we should know better, we never say no to a free DVD.
And, indeed: there was a reason that whoever dropped the DVD didn't find it worth bending over to pick it back up again: this Canadian-made, direct-to-video tax deduction licks leprous caribou cunt.
The fourth and the last of the series, it was filmed back-to-back with part three, Wishmaster III: Beyond the Gates of Hell (2002 / trailer), and going by this instalment, we feel safe to say that the two combined served well to nail the coffin lid of the franchise shut. As was to be expected, in truth, seeing that both the two direct-to-video sleeping pills were directed by some guy named Chris Angel, a man with a porno-star name who, in 1999, also directed one of the worst horror films we ever had the displeasure of seeing, The Fear: Resurrection, another direct-to-video tax deduction that licks leprous caribou cunt.
The plot of Wishmaster IV, like all the films of the series, revolves around an evil djinn (John Novak of Darkman III: Die Darkman Die [1996 / trailer] and the public domain horror flick Eternal Evil [1985 / full movie]) who, once accidentally released by a blonde, must get his latest victim — in this case here, Lisa (Tara Spencer-Nairn of Final Draft [2007 / trailer]) — to make three wishes so as to be able to release his evil fellow folk onto our world. In between, he grants the wishes made in passing by those whose paths he crosses, usually killing them as he does. Unlike in the earlier films, however, this time around the lady in peril actually makes three wishes — but for some odd reason, he doesn't grant the final wish — "I wish I could love you for who you are" — and, instead, spends his time pondering the meaning of love and trying to make Lisa love him for who he is. Snore. In-between, he makes a few unspectacular kills — indeed, the body count and special effects of this installment are sub-standard for even a direct-to-video piece of shit.
As is known to anyone who has seen any of the franchise installments, the only way to vanquish the djinn is to make a wish that somehow destroys him or brings his downfall — but Lisa's final wish is not such a wish, as the djinn could basically snap his fingers, change the wiring in her brain, make her head-over-heels in love with him, free his fellow djinn, and spawn dozens of half-breeds, thus ruining the purity of the white man's bloodline. (Before you go shitten' yer britches, that was a joke, okay?) In any event, his procrastination is stupid, and endemic of the stupidity of the entire movie, which sorely lacks much of the campiness that helped make the first installment mildly enjoyable. The sudden appearance of a protective angel (Victor Webster of Embrace the Vampire [2014 / trailer]), who is both murderous and ineffectual, pads the time and adds to the body count, but does little to make the movie any more entertaining or logical.
But then, none of the kills are particularly interesting and at least one seems oddly inconsistent: a lawyer (John Benjamin Martin), for example, makes no wish but nevertheless kills himself at the djinn's influence simply because Lisa wishes a court settlement would be reached? Excuse us for failing to see how the court settlement required his death — and, also, if the djinn is so powerful that he can influence others, why can't he simply make Lisa make three wishes? Indeed, he seems to have the power to invade her wet dreams — pictured below — so why can't he bend her will? And, really, perhaps we're being a bit pedantic here, but we do tend to see a difference between a wish ("I wish I could love you for who you are") and a statement of desire ("I'd trade my soul to be a pimple on her ass") — the film pretty much misses the chance of a good laugh with the latter by leaving the result to the viewer's imagination.
Is there anything good about the movie? Well, some of the actors are appealing. Lisa is rather attractive, and the movie's opening does include an extended sex scene which has her bare a lot — a scene that once again proves (especially by way of comparison with the later scene in the strip club) that all natural is way better than all plastic.
All natural:
Likewise, Lisa's true love Sam (Jason Thompson of Circle [2010 / trailer]), may be a bitter asshole for most of the movie, but he is good-looking and while we never get a full frontal, we get a lot of his smooth skin in the sex scene with Lisa. And, indeed, the pre-credit love scene is surprisingly well done and sexy, doing wonders to reflect the happiness the loving young couple enjoys (prior to the appearance of the words "Three years later"). Sure, even a fixer-upper like the house they bought probably cost more than they would have, and, yes, they do screw in a bed found in the attic that, in all likelihood, considering the condition of the house that they don't yet actually live in, would logically be filthy and full of bugs, but hell: the scene does show a level of romantic joie de vivre that indicates the director might be better at women's films or soft-core porn than he obviously is at horror. Indeed, so much of this flick revolves around relationships, lust and love, and sex and desire that one could easily imagine that it was originally meant as a Zalman King project.
But Wishmaster IV, in theory, is a horror film. In theory. Not in theory, however, but in fact: as a horror film, Wishmaster IV is a tedious lick-a-thon that bores until it ends with a whimper. Yes, it has tits — but who watches cheap-shit movies for mammaries, now-a-days? That's what the internet is for.
All plastic:

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

R.I.P.: Wesley Earl "Wes" Craven, Part III (1987-93)


2 Aug. 1939 — 30 Aug. 2015

What follows is a look at some the projects he was involved in — actually and/or presumably. TV series are ignored. 

Go here for Part I (1970-77)
Go here for Part II (1978-86)

Nightmare on Elm Street III:
The Dream Warriors
(1987, dir. Chuck Russell)

"Sleep. Those little slices of Death. How I loathe them."
Edgar Allen Poe 

Craven returned to the franchise for the first time, taking on the role of executive producer and sharing the story/script credit with Bruce Wagner, who went on to write the screenplay to Paul Bartel's Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills (1989) — not one of Bartel's better films. Craven, it is claimed, was still not thrilled about the idea of a money-making franchise and thus wrote a script that saw Freddy laid to rest — a concept totally undermined by the movie's last scene (not to mention all subsequent sequels). The direction was done by an at the time unknown named Chuck Russell, making his directorial début after a variety of production and assistant directorial jobs that included, among others, Chatterbox (1977 / trailer), The Great American Girl Robbery (1979 / trailer), and Hell Night (1981). After Freddy 3, Russell went on to do a couple of decent films, including The Blob (1988) and The Mask (1994 / trailer). Of the unknowns given their first role ever in this film, Patricia Arquette has become perhaps the biggest name, but the true babe of the flick was and still is Jennifer Rubin (of Screamers [1995]).

We saw the movie when it came out and enjoyed it much more than we had its predecessor, though the inexplicable reappearance of the (going by the first film) dead Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) did bother us. Even today, the old-school effects as well as the concepts behind some of dream kills are still decent and pretty amazing — it took years for us to get over the images of the puppet suicide and hungry junkie mouths. The downside of the movie is that it is the first one to move into the "Funny Freddy the Anti-Hero" mold, even as it also presents just how horrible a person Freddy was while alive: anyone out there ever think about the implications of the little girl on a tricycle in the opening dream of Kristen (Arquette) who, in the basement with Kristen, says "This is where he takes us"?
Odd to think that someone who literally gets his rocks of by killing children could ever become such a popular anti-hero...
The basic plot, as explained at Scopophilia: "The last of the Elm Street children find themselves plagued by the same terrible nightmares and are now put into an institution where a grown-up Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) works as a dream therapist. It is found that Kristen (Patricia Arquette) has the ability to invite other people into her dreams, so the entire group goes into her nightmare and takes on Freddy (Robert Englund) as a team."
For more on the good and bad of Nightmare on Elm Street III: The Dream Warriors, we suggest a look at Final Girl, who's one of the few that seems to remember that before Freddy got into killing teens in their dreams, he had a thing for prepubescent children. 
Music video to the theme song, Dream Warriors,
by Dokken,
a bunch of guys who use more hair spray
than all their mothers combined:

A Nightmare on Elm Street 4:
The Dream Master
(1988, dir. Renny Harlin)

"When deep sleep falleth on men, fear came apon me.
 And trembling which made all my bones to shake"
Job IV, 13-14

Wes Craven bailed for Part IV of the by-now solidly footed franchise based on his creation The Dream Master was the highest-grossing of the entire series until 2003's Freddy vs. Jason (which we still haven't gotten to the end of). The directorial duties were given to a young, unknown Finnish director, Renny Harlin, probably on the basis of his prior credit, the horror film Prison (1987). 
Harlin's American directorial debut,
Harlin, as many know, is an adroit director whose career is heavy with entertaining trash — Deep Blue Sea (1999 / trailer), Mindhunters (2004) and The Dyatlov Pass Incident (2013 / trailer), anyone? — and who helped destroy Geena Davis's career with the enjoyably daffy Cutthroat Island (1995 / trailer) and the inanely fun Long Kiss Goodnight (1996 / trailer).
The movie's plot? Freddy gets resurrected when a dog named Jason pisses on his grave. He then takes up where he left off by killing the survivors of Nightmare III before moving on to a new batch of old-looking teenagers. Patricia Arquette's part, Kristin, was recast with Tuesday Knight, who also sang the song played over the opening credits; the closing credits featured a pop rap song by the now mostly forgotten and always apolitical Fat Boys. 
The Fat Boys — 
Are You Ready for Freddy? 
Despite the fact that film was a hit, few people say they like it. Indeed, we ourselves enjoyed it more for some of the tricks (the time loop is great) and over-the-top effects than the story, as by then the series was more cheese and corn than true horror. (Enjoyable trash, so to say, but not good horror.)
At-A-Glance Reviews hits the nail on the head in their review of the movie: "Continuing with the natural devolution that hampers many populist film series, this outing gives the star of the show, Freddy Krueger [Robert Englund, the headlining credit for the first time in the series], an abundance of wisecracks and corny one-liners. In the tradition of slasher movie sequels, there are more bodies and the deaths are more elaborate. Elaborate beyond all rational boundaries. What motive could a supernatural murderer like Freddy possibly have for constructing all these complicated dreams and dressing up as characters in it? [...] He begins his reign of terror again, this time moving beyond Elm Street. [...] When one of the kids is burned alive in her bed, we are never shown the real world consequences of that. What about the kid who drowns in a waterbed? Isn't anyone the least bit curious how all these teenagers keep dying? But no, this movie is too lazy to get into such details. It focuses on one character long enough for him to be knocked off, then moves on to the next. Sorry, but 'by the numbers' serial killer flicks not only don't work, they're exploitative abominations. There's absolutely no reason for this piece of tripe to exist at all."

The Serpent and the Rainbow
(1988, dir Wes Craven)
Despite the fact that the author of the eponymous book upon which this movie is based, Wade Davis, actually also worked on the movie as a technical advisor, he later described Wes Craven's voodoo horror flick as "one of the worst Hollywood movies in history". In our humble opinion, however, Wade's statement says less about the movie than it does about how many Hollywood movies Wade has seen. But we also have to admit that although we caught The Serpent and the Rainbow on the big screen when it first came out and remember rather liking it, today the only thing we truly remember is that Cathy Tyson, the romantic interest of the movie, is one hot tamale. 
Soundtrack to 
The Serpent and the Rainbow: 
366 Weird Movies, which doesn't find the film weird despite "some fantastic scenes", is of the opinion that "Serpent is an above-average horror outing, although it's ultimately a mild disappointment because the black magic premise has so much unrealized potential. The voodoo milieu the civilized doctor encounters in Haiti is memorable and spooky; the setting is also unique in that it mixes witchcraft with politics by having the main villain be both a powerful warlock and an officer of Haitian dictator 'Baby Doc' Duvalier's secret police. In the end, unfortunately, Craven can't figure out how to keep the momentum rolling into a proper climax to an interesting premise. We end up with a formula horror finale where Zakes Mokae's brilliantly sadistic Dargent Peytraud transforms into a poor man's Freddy Kruger. The eye-rolling climax comes complete with false deaths, catch phrases, an ironic comeuppance, and other silliness."
TV Guide, which sees the film as "a sloppy but ambitious mix of pop anthropology, political observation, and good old-fashioned Val Lewtonesque horror [... that] succeeds more often than it fails", has the plot: "Dennis Alan (Bill Pullman) is a young scientist hired by an American pharmaceutical company to go to Haiti and uncover the secrets of zombification. Recent studies have proven the existence of actual zombies, and scientists suspect a drug or potion (the discovery of which could mean a fortune to drug manufacturers looking for a new anesthetic) is involved in the process. Dennis's trip, however, happens to coincide with the collapse of the Duvalier government, and he finds himself tossed into the resulting violent social upheaval. In Haiti Dennis teams up with beautiful local psychiatrist Marielle (Cathy Tyson), who introduces him to the mysterious world of voodoo. The deeper he probes, however, the greater the opposition from voodoo priests, who attempt to invade his mind and transform him into a zombie." 

A Nightmare on Elm Street 5:
Dream Child
(1989, dir. Stephen Hopkins)
Wes Craven was not there anywhere for "Freddy 5", the lowest-grossing instalment of the franchise, but of course Craven's creation was. We saw it when it came out — and can't remember anything about it at all, not even whether we found any of the fodder hot or not. 
Foster on Films says: "Yup, he came back after he was absolutely and unequivocally dead … again. It's hard to get too involved in these plots to destroy Freddy since they are all different, and they all work only until the next sequel. This time, Alice (Lisa Wilcox), the dream master from the last sequel, having mysteriously lost her dream combat skills, finds herself pregnant by her quickly deceased boyfriend (Danny Hassel) and popping in and out of dream worlds. The dreams looks good, particularly the M.C. Escher room of stairs. Even in the dreams, Freddy is a bore, speaking only unmemorable one-liners. Outside the dreams, we get Alice telling everyone about Freddy and everyone saying she's nuts. This isn't exciting the first time so you can imagine how riveting it is the tenth time."
Director Stephen Hopkins went on to do the fun Predator II (1990 / trailer), Lost in Space (1998) and the intensely annoying The Reaping (2007 / trailer). 

(1989, writ & dir. Wes Craven)

"On October 2, at 6:45 AM mass murderer Horace Pinker was put to death. Now, he's really mad."

Another one of Craven's less successful and less known films, Shocker suffers in that the filmmaker's intentions are obvious: cut out of the Freddy franchise by New World Pictures, Craven tried to come up with a new horror figure with which to get his piece of the rent-paying pie — regrettably, he modeled his character, story, and movie after the lesser sequels instead of the truly scary first Nightmare on Elm Street (1984). Freddy-lite — aka "Horace Pinker" — didn't work, and neither did the movie. A mild success, the concept of a franchise was (luckily) quickly dropped. At the recommendation of a horror-loving friend, we saw it once on DVD — stoned and drunk and in the perfect condition for a teen horror trash — and we hated it. So do most other people, it seems (other than our friend, but he's a cop in Amsterdam so his taste would logically be different than most people).
The Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy Review has the plot: "High school quarterback Jonathan Parker (Peter Berg) is knocked out after running into the goal post during a game. While unconscious, Jonathan has a vision in which he sees his mother and sister murdered by a serial killer. He comes around and moments later and receives a phone call from his police lieutenant father (Michael Murphy of Count Yorga, Vampire [1970 / trailer], Phase IV [1974 / trailer] and Strange Behavior [1981 / trailer]), informing him that his mother and sister have been butchered just as he saw in his vision. Jonathan is able to use his psychic link to lead the police to the killer, TV repairman Horace Pinker (Mitch Pileggi). Pinker is sent to the electric chair but this only serves to transform him into a being of electricity. Jonathan realizes that Pinker is able to pass through electrical appliances and possess people. Jumping between host bodies, Pinker comes after Jonathan seeking revenge."
The SFHFR also says that "[...] Shocker is a film that embodies all the worst excesses of Wes Craven. Once again, Craven is stuck in dream/reality territory and this time only getting sillier by degrees. He never for a moment seems able to settle onto a single idea, whipping the film off on a trail of concepts left over from Elm Street, the recent body-hopping hit The Hidden (1987 / trailer), and the old B-movie Man-Made Monster (1941) about an electrically charged killer staggering up from the electric chair." 
Trailer to Man-Made Monster (1941) —
a much better film than Shocker: 

Night Visions
(1990, writ & dir Wes Craven)
Well, if you can't get a film franchise of the ground, how about a television series? Wes Craven returned to the boob tube and produced, directed and co-wrote (with Thomas Baum) this lesser project, a TV movie that plays out like the pilot it was.
In the book Wes Craven: The Art of Horror, author John Kenneth Muir explains the plot: "Psychologist Sally Powers (Loryn Locklin) has the ability to see into the minds of psychotic killers, and joins with a Los Angeles police officer (James Remar) to catch the serial murderer known as the 'Spread Eagle Killer'. As a relationship develops between the two partners, Powers is forced to confront not only her dark abilities but haunting elements of her own past as well." 
Adding to the complications is the fact that the shrink has multiple personalities. Night Visions did not get picked up as a series and has pretty much fallen off the face of the earth, though it did get a VHS release in Europe and can now be found on-line.
Loryn Locklin went on to do the sub-standard Stuart Gordeon movie, Fortress (1992 / trailer); James Remar was already and still is one of our favorite character actors and can be found in many a film good and bad, including the maligned kiddy film, The Phantom (1996).

Bloodfist II
(1990, dir. Andy Blumenthal)

OK, why not? According to imdb and others, Wes Craven is credited as "advisor" on this Roger Corman-produced Don "The Dragon" Wilson movie directed by a one-shot wonder never heard of again. (Perhaps Craven's advice was to leave the industry?)
The Bloodfist franchise, begun the year previously with Bloodfist Fighter (1989 / trailer), lasted nine movies (to date), the last being the TV movie Bloodfist 2050 (2005 / trailer), the only one in which Don "The Dragon" Wilson didn't appear. (As of yet, the only Don "The Dragon" Wilson we've seen, Sort Target (2006), we sort of enjoyed — read the review to find out why.)
The plot? Bloodfist II is basically a cheap remake of the far superior Bruce Lee classic Enter the Dragon (1973 / trailer), which costarred the great John Saxon & once hunkadelic, now dead Jim Kelly. Retro Junk explains it as thus: "This time, Wilson is up against a diabolical Fu Manchu type named Mr. Su (Joe Mari Avellana). Our hero and five other kickboxing experts are kidnapped by Su and forced to do battle against the villain's steroid-crazed henchmen. It's up to Wilson to straighten things out."
Johnny LeRue's Crane Shot, a blogspot we trust, says: "Readers of Blackbelt and The Deadly Hands of Kung Fu magazines should get a real (ahem) kick out of Bloodfist II, which offers a lot of fighting. A lot of fighting. I doubt more than five or six minutes ever pass without Wilson or one of his friends getting into a battle with somebody, usually using their bare hands and feet, but sometimes grabbing a handy knife, staff, spear or sword. Since much of the cast, including 'The Dragon' [...], are actual martial-arts champions, the frequent fight scenes have an air of authenticity about them that help ground the comic-book plot in some sort of reality. Not that you should take Bloodfist II seriously [...]."
Trailer to
Bloodfist II:

Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare
(1991, writ. & dir Rachel Talalay)
Trailer to
Freddy's Dead — The Final Nightmare:
AKA A Nightmare on Elm Street 6: Freddy's Dead. Once again, Wes was not part of the project — but, damn it! He created the original character! We never bothered to see The Final Nightmare, but it was intended as the last of the franchise — which might explain the number of guest appearances, including that of Johnny Depp (in a commercial) — but proved too successful for the powers that be to stop flogging the dead horse. Director Rachel Talalay, not surprisingly the only female director to do a Nightmare film, went on to direct one film that we have both seen and reviewed: Tank Girl (1995).
Iggy Pop sings
the Golden Raspberry-nominated song
Why Was I Born (Freddy's Dead)
from Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare: 
Wikipedia has the plot: "Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare follows the exploits of 'John Doe' (Shon Greenblatt), an amnesiac teenager from Springwood, who was sent out to find Freddy's daughter Maggie (Lisa Zane), whom he needs to leave Springwood. Freddy's goal is to create new 'Elm Streets', and begin a new killing spree after having killed all of the children in Springwood. Maggie, utilizing new dream techniques, uncovers Krueger's past, which include: being taunted by schoolmates for being the 'son of 100 maniacs', being cruel to animals, beaten by his stepfather (Alice Cooper, of The Prince of Darkness [1986]), the murder of his own wife when she discovers he has been killing children, and the moment when the Dream Demons arrive in his boiler room to make him the offer of eternal life. Eventually, Maggie pulls Freddy out of the dream world, and uses a pipe bomb to blow him up."
 A better song,
from a different movie: 

People under the Stairs 
(1991, writ. & dir. Wes Craven) 

"In every neighborhood there is one house that adults whisper about and children cross the street to avoid…"

Oddly enough, even today The People Under the Stairs remains one of Craven's most underrated movies... possibly because, although it was a commercial success, it came at a time when the horror genre was in a creative slump and, to further remove it from the lily white masses found in the movie duplexes of the American malls, the movie was both surprisingly Afro-American and critical of the prevailing value systems of capitalist USA. (And also inverts the typical home-invasion horror chestnut by making the minority invaders the likable good guys and the lily white moneyed homeowners the bad guys.)
Tell the truth, we went and saw it not because it was from Wes Craven, but because of the gimmicky casting of Everett McGill (of Silver Bullet [1985 / trailer]) and Wendy Robie (of Devil in the Flesh [1998 / trailer] and Horror in the Attic [2001 / trailer]) as the nutcase siblings, "Daddy" and "Mommy", who own the house in which the kids live under the stairs — at the time, they played one of the weirder couplets amongst a cast of weird in the original Twin Peaks (1990-91 / trailer). That their campy but effective physical embodiment of the hypocrisy, obscene greed and amorally corrupt self-centeredness of the white Reagan-era American capitalist (indeed, big business then as now) is excellent was just one of the various pleasant surprises the movie held for us. And unlike all of his feature films after The Hills Have Eyes (1977),* though some humor is there, there ain't a touch of the by-now tiresome supernatural in this bizarre slice of urban horror.
* We are intentionally ignoring the non-movie known as The Hills Have Eyes II (1985).
Much like the other top-notch throwback to the Blaxploitation days released that year, New Jack City (1991 / trailer), The People under the Stairs makes it clear that the man ain't gonna be of any help, and if Black America wants justice, they gotta take it in their own hands. (Where are the Black Panthers when you need them?)
Over at Rove, Karl Williams explains the plot of this great, "surrealistic horror-comedy, which was inspired by a true story of parents keeping their children locked in a basement for years. Fool (Brandon Adams), an African-American teen, breaks into the home of the wealthy landlords who evicted his family from a ghetto tenement. A fortune in gold coins is rumored to exist inside, but Fool discovers that the mansion is a chamber of horrors presided over by a pair of incestuous, serial killer siblings (McGill and Robie). The twisted couple has also tried to raise a succession of kidnapped boys. Each botched effort is handled the same way — the victim's eyes, ears and tongues are removed, and he's sent to live in the sealed-off basement, where a colony of similarly deformed 'brothers' resides. Fool is able to avoid the evil lovers as he moves through the house's maze of hidden passageways. He discovers that the occupants have a daughter, Alice (A.J. Langer of Grey Knight [1993 / trailer] and Albert Pyun's cheesy Arcade [1993 / trailer]), who has survived their abuse, so he rescues her and they attempt to free the 'people under the stairs'."

Laurel Canyon 
(1993, dir. unknwon) 
The one that go away. Listed everywhere as having Wes Craven as the executive producer, listed on Robert Kurtzman's CV as one of his special-effects projects for 1993, and supposedly with Elaine Hendrix in it, nothing can be found anywhere regarding what it's about. Romy and Michele's High School Reunion mentions that it was a pilot for NBC, while in an interview at filmzine, composer J. Peter Robinson says "Laurel Canyon on the other hand, was a pilot the Wes and I did that never made it to the light of day. Pity, because I thought it was very good." In any event, it isn't listed on Craven's own website, so who knows if it ever flickered across any screen anywhere...

Body Bags
(1993, dirs. John Carpenter & Tobe Hooper)
The success of HBO's Tales of the Crypt (1989—96) gave Showtime the impetus to try for a horror series of their own, and they came up with Body Bags. Three episodes were filmed — two, The Gas Station and Hair, were directed by John Carpenter, and one The Eye, by everyone's favorite punching bag, Tobe Hooper — but the series never happened. Instead, the three shorts were strung together with framing segments (directed and staring John Carpenter) for video release. We rented it way back in the mid-1990s, undoubtedly the cut version, and remember not being overwhelmed. Wes Craven is one of the numerous cult names popping up in the credits: he plays the "pasty-faced man" who appears briefly in the full-length version of The Gas Station. (Other names of note to appear throughout the three episodes include the great Charles Napier [1936-2011] and equally great George Buck Flower, as well as Roger Corman, John Agar, Twiggy, Sam Raimi, Tom Arnold, David Warner, Luke Skywalker, David Naughton Sheena Easton and a non-blonde Deborah Harry.)
Wikipedia's concise plot description tells you almost everything you need to know about the movie: "The first story, The Gas Station, features Robert Carradine as a serial killer [... terrorizing a gas station attendant (Alex Datcher) on her first night at work]. Hair follows Stacy Keach as he receives a botched hair transplant that infests him with an alien parasite. Eye is another transplant story, this time featuring Mark Hamill as a baseball player who loses an eye in a car accident and receives a transplant, only to be taken over by the personality of the eye's previous owner, a murderous misogynist."

Go here for Part IV.
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