Sunday, May 1, 2016

The Craft (Andrew Flemming, 1996)

Even though there are four chicks on the poster, only one of them is giving off what I would consider a Goth vibe. I mean, what gives, The Craft, mid-90s gothploitation yarn about a trio of teen witches who befriend a new teen witch in order to complete "the circle," or some nonsense like that? Why are you short-changing me, Goth-wise? If I'm gonna sit down and watch a movie about four teenage girls who practice witchcraft in their spare time, at least half of them better be Goths, or, at the very least, Goth-adjacent. Which brings me back to the film's poster. One Goth? That's it? What a rip off. Thankfully, the one Goth is played by Fairuza Balk. In other words, I think it's safe to say that she has enough Goth in her to make up for the non-Goth vibe the other girls are putting out there. Still, it's kind of weird that Robin Tunney, Neve Campbell and Rachel True weren't all that Goth. Think about it, they're teenage girls who spend nearly all their time together. What I mean is, do they shop for clothes separately? It makes no sense. I know, the producers probably told the director to tone down the film's Gothiness, as "Middle America" isn't ready for a movie that is chock-full of Goth chicks. But still, you would think they all shop at the same store.

What does Fairuza Balk do, sneak off to Ipso Facto and Retail Slut (which was still open in 1996) to buy clothes when no one is looking? It's the only logical explanation I come up with at the moment. I was going to make a comment about Fairuza's character not being able to afford the pricey Goth cthreads she wears in this movie (after all, she's lives in a trailer with her white trash, Connie Francis-loving mom). But then it dawned on me, Fairuza, or, I should say, Nancy Downs, doesn't pay for anything. Or maybe she does. She could work at the Yarn Barn during the summer months, what do I know?

What I do know is, Fairuza Balk looks fantastic in this movie (pointy granny boots!!! PVC raincoats!!!), and she is the only reason people should watch this movie. And not only does Fairuza Balk look fantastic, she gives an amazing performance. Sure, it gets sort of campy near the end. But you're never going catch me complaining about an actor's performance being too campy. No, I think Fairuza Balk's performance strikes a nice balance between measured and campy. (Measured? Fairuza Balk in The Craft? What movie were you watching?) Yeah, I guess she starts camping it up before the opening credits even begin. Either way, it was fun watching Fairuza Balk do battle with a bunch of colossal squares.

Oh, who am I kidding? There's no "bunch" of colossal squares. There's only one colossal square. That's right, I'm looking at you, Robin Tunney. Or, I should say, Robin Tunney, The Goth Ruiner. Now, I'm not saying the future star of The Mentalist single-handedly ruined Goth. But she does undermine it, like, big time.

In fact, this movie was recently rated (and by "recently" I mean 1998) the most anti-Goth movie of all-time by The Goth Anti-Defamation League. What's that? There is no Goth Anti-Defamation League. Funny, I could have sworn there was. Anyway, Robin Tunney, who doesn't have a single Goth bone in her body, repeatedly undercuts Fairuza Balk's attempt to create a world where Goths are accepted as productive members of society.

And, not to the mention, Nancy does her darnedest to bring would-be rapists to justice. (Huh?) Pay attention, man, Skeet Ulrich totally tries to force himself on Robin Tunney's Sarah Bailey at one point. It's true, he was under the influence of a love spell. But still... it was a dick move on his part.

Nonetheless, Sarah thinks Nancy has gone too far, and decides right then and there that she wants out of her so-called coven.

Just for the record, the most anti-Goth movie in history has to be The Breakfast Club. The de-Gothification of Ally Sheedy's character by Molly Ringwald is pretty much the most heinous thing I've ever seen in a motion picture (I can still taste the vomit it produced).

Okay, what was I saying before I got sidetracked? Oh, yeah, Robin Tunney, the true villain of the piece, shows up at this new Catholic high school, located in a part of L.A. where torrential rainfall (a.k.a. overstated movie rain) is, apparently, quite common, and sets about destroying a coven of teenage witches.

Well, she doesn't attempt to destroy the coven right away. The first thing she does is flirt with Skeet Ulrich. However, when Skeet rejects her, Robin Tunney quickly sets her sights on Fairuza Balk's Nancy Downs, Neve Campbell's Bonnie (whose body is covered in scars) and Rachel True's Rochelle (who is being bullied by a perky white supremacist).

The perky white supremacist, by the way, who is played by the always funny, Christine Taylor, gets the film's biggest laugh with the line, "I don't like Negroids." I know, it might not look all that hilarious on paper. But Christine's delivery of the line is pure gold. Plus, you don't usually hear racists use the word "Negroid" all that much anymore.

When the girls start making wish spells, Neve Campbell's character obviously wishes her scars would disappear. And when they do, that means... you guessed it, black hold-up stockings! Show off them creamy, scar-free thighs, you saucy, Guelph-born minx, you. Watching the newly confident Neve Campbell prance around campus in black hold-ups reminded me of that Kids in the Hall sketch where the employees at a pizza joint located near a Catholic high school get flustered whenever the girls would come in en masse for their midday 'za. Sure, it helps that a pre-Party of Five Neve Campbell appears in that sketch, but it's still an apt reference.

You would think that a film that boasts a soundtrack that is laced with lame cover versions of songs by The Beatles (Our Lady Peace), The Cars (Letters to Cleo) and The Smiths (Love Spit Love), features Breckin Meyer (at the height of his floppy-haired obnoxiousness) and has an anti-Goth temperament would be easy to dismiss as bland mid-90s twaddle. But I have to admit, I have a soft spot for The Craft. Granted, it's mainly do to Fairuza Balk's go for broke performance as a poor white trash Goth with an expensive Goth wardrobe... (Don't forget, she also attends a pricey private school.) Well, yeah, that doesn't make a lick of sense. As I was saying, focus on Fairuza, and you should be able to navigate the film's weaker moments with a lavender-scented ease.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Teeth (Mitchell Lichtenstein, 2007)

Three cocks fall to the ground in Teeth after being gnawed off by a vengeful vagina. The former owners of each fallen cock reacts differently as they stare at their once attached members. Just kidding, they all scream at the top of their lungs, clasping at their bloody dick stumps with a confused horror. Though, it should be noted that the vagina itself is not vengeful. You see, at first I thought it was the vagina that killed. But as we soon find out, things aren't as simple as that. And that's what makes this film so special. I mean, any old jackass can make a crazed vagina movie. However, it takes real skill to make one that oozes intelligence. (Are you sure you're talking about "Teeth"? The movie where a dog eats a guys recently severed penis and spits out the pierced tip with a heedless brand of canine indifference?) Yep, that's the movie. (The movie where a guys recently severed penis is devoured by cave crabs and another guys recently severed penis is reattached, but not after the doctors ridicule it for its lack of girth in the hung department?) How is that so difficult to understand? Trust me, I've seen plenty of movies over the years that boast characters who experience genital-based distress. In other words, I know an intelligent vagina dentata movie when I see it.

Call it a feminist allegory, call it a first-rate slab of body horror, call it what you will, Teeth is probably the most thought provoking killer cunt movie since Liquid Sky. Okay, you're probably thinking to yourself: Huh? Think about it. Both Teeth and Liquid Sky feature celibate women who suddenly find their dust-laden vaginas under attack by a seemingly unending concourse of unwelcome pre-ejaculatory fluid-slathered cock. Yet, it's actually outside forces, not the coozes themselves, who are fighting back against this penile pile up.

What I mean is, in the case of Teeth, the vagina has the means to slice and dice the cocks that enter its damp realm, but it ultimately has no say when it comes to initiating the actual chomping of cocks, and, I suppose, pockmark-dotted slabs of scrotal overhang. I don't want to say anymore about who or what is controlling the serrated teeth that lie beneath the fleshy folds of juicy lady skin, but the fact that we're repeatedly shown two nearby cooling towers billowing toxic smoke has lead me to believe that Dawn's pussy has developed an ingenious defense mechanism.

You could say, the inside of Dawn's pussy contains the world's first society dedicated solely to the cutting up of men. Of course, given its relatively small-size, no one can move to this society to start a new life. At least not yet. But any obstinate cock harbouring malicious intent will quickly find out that Dawn's dime store jizz jar isn't a velvety knapsack filled with gluten-free gummy bears and secret secretions. If anything, it's an angry she-beast that eats rapist junk for breakfast.

Since I've implied that Dawn's pussy kills many dicks in this movie, it only makes sense for writer-director Mitchell Lichtenstein to cast someone who is both believable as an abstinence advocate and as a vaginal vigilante. And even though I've never heard of her, I thought Jess Weixler was an excellent choice to play Dawn, the spokesperson pro-abstinence group called "The Promise."

After a brief opening scene that shows Dawn cutting her soon to be step brother's finger with her vagina when they were little kids, we're quickly whisked into Dawn's sex-free playworld. Speaking to a rapt audience of   abstinence freaks, Dawn talks about sex like it were a gift, and that you should keep it wrapped for your wife or husband.

As she's speaking, Dawn can't help but notice the Jonas brother-esque Tobey (Hale Appleman) sitting in the audience. Popping several lady-boners during their initial meeting, I have a feeling this Tobey fella is going to cause Dawn to open her gift prematurely. If you know what I mean.

Now, you might have noticed that I have already used the word "vagina" several times over the course of this review. Well, you won't hear that word used in Dawn and Tobey's sex-ed class. Seriously, the sex-ed teacher can't even say it. Why that is, I'm not quite sure, as I've always used the word. Nonetheless, I think what the film is trying to say is that vaginas are dangerous.

Hell, even Brad (John Hensley), Dawn's dirtbag step brother, knows not to travel vaginal passageways, as he always penetrates his girlfriend Melanie  (Nicole Swahn) anally. It would seem that Brad's misguided attempt to finger Dawn as a kid has traumatized him to such an extent that he fears his girlfriend's vagina.

He also must fear fishnet pantyhose, as he fails to savour the sight of Melanie pulling them on after anal sex, as she says this gem of a line: "I have a perfectly good pussy." Sure you do, honey.

In what has to be favourite non-penis severing scene, Brad playfully tries to feed Melanie a dog biscuit after anal sex. What can I say? I'm a sucker for awkward post-coital post-play.

Unable to stop having sexy dreams about Tobey, Dawn finally givens in and invites him to go to a nearby swimming hole. Speaking of holes, I thought everything seemed vaginal during the swimming hole scene. The trees, the water and the ground had a vaginal vibe about them. Things get even more vaginal, when Dawn and Tobey end up in a cave together. And, as everyone knows, caves are nature's vaginas.

Deciding that she doesn't want to give Tobey her gift, at least not inside nature's vagina, Dawn politely asks Tobey to cease and desist with the penile probing. When he fails to do so, that's when the sound of cocks being sliced begin. If I had to describe the sound a penis makes when it's being severed by serrated vagina teeth, I'd have to say it sounds like someone walking through a muddy field in galoshes.

Since it's implied that most men need to revisit "the dark crucible that hatched him," Dawn should expect that many more penises will attempt to penetrate her unusual box. However, it's ultimately up to Dawn which penis she severs and which penis she allows to spew its goo without incident.

Don't forget, just because she allows you spew your goo without incident the first time you have sex with her, doesn't mean she won't pierce your penile stump with her jagged vagina teeth the second time. Oh, and don't confess to her mid-hump that you and your friend made some wager to see who could fuck her first. It's not only inconsiderate, and, not to mention, ungentlemanly as all get out, it's downright foolish. I mean, she can end your dick in the blink of an eye. And I think that's the most important lesson one can take away from this movie, don't rape women, or anyone for that matter. It's totally uncool, bro.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

It Follows (David Robert Mitchell, 2014)

Instead of knocking them out with a chloroform-soaked rag and then tying them to a wheelchair in an abandoned factory, wouldn't it be easier to enlighten the person you have selected to pass on your venereal curse to with a brochure? I don't know, maybe you can title it: "So, 'It' is Following You." Either way, I think it's the courteous thing to do. At the same time, it's totally selfish as well. You see, in this oddly serene version of Detroit, sexual intercourse can lead to creepy consequences. And these "creepy consequences" can turn deadly... if you don't take certain precautions. Of course, not having sex in the first place is the most reliable method there is when it comes to preventing the consequences from getting creepy. But you try telling a bunch of teenagers to not have sex. Trust me, I've tried. It's damn near impossible. Oh, wait. I haven't tried. Nevertheless, once you have sex with a person who is currently being followed, the following onus is immediately thrust upon you. But don't forget, if you die while being followed, the following onus goes back to the person you had sex with. Meaning, that person should go down to his or her local printing store (is Kinkos still a thing?) and print up some motherfuckin' brochures. Of course, showing the person you "infected" the zombie-esque, scantily-clad monstrosities firsthand can be beneficial as well. But don't underestimate the power of a handsomely made brochure.

(Hold on. Who's following these people?) Um, the title of the movie is It Follows.  In other words, "It" is following them. (Yeah, but what is "It"?) It doesn't really matter what "It" is. All that does matter is that It Follows is one of the most effective horror movies I've seen in years. And when I say "effective," I'm talking about the kind of horror movie that causes you change your behaviour after you see it.

I don't know, there's something inherently unnerving about the sight of a seemingly unending concourse of random strangers slowly walking towards you in a menacing manner. Granted, I didn't need a movie to make me paranoid about people I don't know, but the fact that I looked at folks on the street with more suspicion than usual afterward is a testament to quality of the film-making at work here.

And to think, I was ready, if need be, to unleash a shitload of soliloquies dedicated to this film's star and her first-rate legs. Don't worry, though, the stem-based soliloquies might still be coming (their gestating in my mind as we speak). It's just that the film, written and directed by David Robert Mitchell, doesn't really need me to go off on some unorthodox yet entertaining tangent, as it's a solid slab of John Carpenter-inspired horror goodness. I also noticed bits that seemed inspired by Wes Craven, Frank Henenlotter and David Cronenberg.

To be honest, I was kind of hoping that the film would have been a tad more on the sleazy side (more Brain Damage, less A Nightmare on Elm Street), but the fact that film opens with a leggy... followest? Followian? Followee? ...running down a leafy suburban street in high heel shoes was an excellent omen. Naturally, some people will probably argue that high heel shoes are the most impractical thing a person being followed can wear. I say, balderdash! Besides, you don't know what she doing before she came bursting out of that house. For all we know, her husband/boyfriend/or whoever that guy was (her father, maybe?) might have a fetish for high heels and she was simply indulging him when they were rudely interrupted by an unruly follower.

Anyway, proving that her performance in The Guest was no fluke, Maika Monroe stakes her claim as the queen of horror-based disaffection as Jay Height, the film's primary followee. Unfortunately, unlike The Guest's Anna Peterson, it's not clear if Jay Height likes industrial or goth music. That being said, all her swimming, sex, leggy lounging and following scenes are set to the wonderfully synthy score by Rich Vreeland (Disasterpeace). Seriously, the synth flourishes in this film are amazing.

If you recall my review of The Guest, you might remember that I compared Maika Monroe to Chloë Sevigny. Well, in It Follows she seems to be challenging Brittany Murphy. Wait, that didn't come out right. What I mean is, she looked exactly like Brittany Murphy at times. This especially true during the scenes where she swims in her backyard above ground pool in suburban Detroit. And after the high heeled followee is successfully followed (ouch, that's gotta hurt), this is where we find Maika's Jay Height, floating in her above ground pool, as two little kids watch from the bushes. Ah, pre-pubescent peeping. You don't see that portrayed in movies that much nowadays. But then again, I don't watch as many "new movies" as I used to. Meaning, maybe every other movie has a pre-pubescent peeping scene. I doubt, though, as I hear all movies nowadays are either about superheroes who fight giant armies of CGI robots or live action remakes of cartoons from the 1980s.

Speaking of which. Did you hear that someone made a live action Jem and the Holograms movie? How did this happen? Or more importantly, why wasn't I given 10 million dollars to direct it? It makes no sense. My Jem movie would have been sexy as hell and a box office smash.

I'm sorry, I got off track. After introducing us to Jay's friends, Yara (Olivia Luccardi), who's reading The Idiot, her sister Kelly (Lili Sepe) and the lovesick Paul (Keir Gilchrist), she prepares to go a series of dates with a guy named Hugh (Jake Weary). The first date, despite an odd incident at an old-timey movie theatre (Charade was the movie playing), goes pretty well. And the second date... uh, not so much. It starts off pleasant enough, except it takes a bit of weird turn post-coitus.

In case you haven't figured it out, Hugh passes his venereal curse onto Jay by having sex with her in the backseat of his car.

Even though Hugh explains what he's done to her (even giving her an enlightening yet terrifying demonstration), Jay's not buying it. And she, or her friends, call the police.

After a close call at school and another one at home (the film's scariest scene), Jay and her friends, including Greg (Daniel Zovatto), a former childhood pal who lives across the street, team up to track down this Hugh fella. While it makes sense to get more information, Hugh, or, I should say, Jeff, told Jay everything she needs to know about the venereal curse the night he gave it to her. The meeting with Hugh/Jeff seems more for the benefit of her friends, who are a tad skeptical that she is being pursued by scantily clad demons who walk at a leisurely pace.

The best way to rid yourself of the followers is to pass it on to someone else. But who do you pass it on to? It's a tough decision, but I totally believed that it's a common dilemma in Detroit, as the cities increasingly people-free landscapes are well-suited for this kind of horror film. Yeah, I realize the curse probably exists outside Metro Detroit. But I like to think curse only effects Detroiters. And besides, the electronic score perfectly represents the city.

It looks great, it sounds great, and it's creepy as fuck, It Follows is, simply put, a new horror movie that doesn't suck. I know, our standards have become so ridiculously low over the last ten years or so, that we heap tons of praise on anything that comes close to being not lame. But I was genuinely impressed with the way this film was put together. And the director's awesome habit of featuring Maika Monroe's legs in almost every scene was a pleasant surprise (Filmed in Scintillating Leg-o-Vision); most modern directors don't even know what the word "legginess" means. I know, what a bunch of weirdos.