Sunday, May 31, 2020

Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street (2019)

Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street (2019)

A retrospective into the life of actor Mark Patton and the single role that defined his short career. What should have been a stepping stone for more significant roles ended up destroying his promising career as his closeted lifestyle came out amid a national panic with the AIDs virus. Scream, Queen shows Mark's life from his childhood to working on Broadway at 23 and being cast in A Nightmare on Elm Street Sequel. The film shows interviews with several of Mark's castmates, including Robert Rusler, Kim Myers, Jack Sholder, and Robert Englund. Mark's post-Freddy world is also explored as his world is shaken by the AIDs crisis of the mid-'80s, learning his partner was dying and how he struggled with the same illness. Leaving Hollywood and retiring to Mexico, Mark would enjoy a life of anonymity until he was rediscovered for the Never Sleep Again documentary. The final act shows how Mark was able to step back into the world of horror through fan conventions, and special appearances were he was able to enjoy the support of fans and the gay community that appreciated his role as a male scream queen. The movie is cathartic and shows how Mark was able to address the problems he faced with the director and writer. We also see the impact that homophobia played in Mark's life and how he used it to empower himself and others as fan opinion on Freddys Revenge is now being reassessed. An excellent documentary for an actor who deserves more appreciation and shows that despite the challenges he faced, he can now embrace his role as the first male scream queen.    

Cannibal Holocaust (1980)- Joe Bob's Last Drive In

Cannibal Holocaust (1980)
Dir- Ruggero Deodato

Like the spaghetti westerns of the sixties, Italian cannibal films were the rage in the seventies. Like many of those westerns, these films had similar plots as well as the same tragic conclusions. A group of white explorers would enter the dense jungle of the Amazon rainforests and meet up with seemingly friendly cannibals who were only looking to have these guests as their next meal. With the many films made, one wonders why no one noticed the very similar techniques and stories. We see women gang-raped, and men getting castrated or having their skulls opened up for a dessert of fresh brain. Everyone seemed to be a potential meal for each other. Cannibal Holocaust is considered by many to be the most graphically intense and brutal film ever made even compared to its grotesque contemporaries.   

The film begins with an award-winning documentary expedition, who travel to the Amazon to film cannibal tribes. Months pass, and not a word is heard from them. A rescue/search party is put together and led by a Professor Harold Monroe, along with his guides he travels to the Amazon and hopes to discover the fate of the expedition and possibly get their lost film. The footage brought back by Prof Monroe is shown to an audience, and the outcome of the film crew is revealed for the remainder of the film. What sets this film apart from the other cannibal stock is the brutal nature of both the cannibals and the explorers. The addition of real animal deaths is quite unsettling and resulted in the film being banned in Italy. It may have been included to suspend our belief, but little can divert the fact that this is still a cannibal movie and a ruthless one. The filmmakers revel in showing us that the explorers are, at times, just as cruel and brutal as the savages they are documenting. Director Ruggero Deodato created the film as a commentary on sleaze journalism and how they often exploit death for ratings. Yet, he became a target of criticism due to the animal deaths that occurred. As a sign of the human condition, this film gets bloodier, darker, and unsettling with each scene in hypocritical contrast to the Directors supposed intent to criticize the very violence this movie seems to excel in. Cannibal Holocaust was the most notorious of the many cannibal films of its era; it is also the first found footage movie predating The Blair Witch Project by 20 years. 

Saturday, May 23, 2020

The Shining- Forty Year Anniversary

The Shining (1980)
Dir- Stanley Kubrick

As a filmmaker, Stanley Kubrick is one of the best when you team him with an outstanding novel by horror writer Stephen King you have a film that will set a place in cinema history. Before I go any further, I would like to add that it is weird how this film seems to have such a strong response from the horror community that the film is either loved or truly loathed. Jack Nicholson is a school teacher turned writer who takes a job as a caretaker of a Colorado resort. He takes his wife (Shelley Duvall), a 5-year-old boy (Danny Lloyd), along looking forward to the resort's peace and solitude. They meet Dick Hallorann (Scatman Crothers), who works as a cook, explains the finer points of the hotel, and develops a bond with the son. The boy learns of his special gift, The Shine, the ability to communicate without words. This psychic sense gives the young boy fears that his father may hurt his mother and himself. As the days go by and the snow falls, we witness Jack spending hours typing away; at the same time, his son has some bizarre psychic revelations. Kubrick, who uses his familiar theme of dehumanization and alienation, handles the eventual breakdown most uniquely; Jack has many strange visions and begins to feel the hotel possessing him. Will he fall into total madness, or will he be able to take back control before he kills his family? There are many arguments over whether this film captures the true spirit of the novel or merely allows Kubrick to indulge in his own story. You can debate both sides, and all of this seems to distract from the outstanding film and one of the best horror movies of the 1980s. 

The Exorcist III (1990)- Joe Bob's Last Drive In

The Exorcist III (1990)
Dir- William Peter Blatty
George C Scott is a police detective named Bill Kinderman investigating a series of grisly murders committed by a serial killer. Unlike your run of the mill psycho, we have something that may very well tie into the supernatural and the very forces of good and evil. His investigation turns up a copycat killer who is following the wicked deeds of the Gemini Killer, who was executed the night of Regan McNeal's exorcism in the first installment. We learn even more may be happening in this well-made sequel that returns some of the glory and terrors that Exorcist 2 lacked. Scott is compelling, taking the role played by the late Lee J Cobb in the first, but who can forget Brad Dourif in one of his creepiest performances. Well worth a look.

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Heathers (1988)- Joe Bob's Last Drive-In

Heathers (1988)
Dir- Michael Lehmann

We all remember those cliques in high school; you know the snobby kids who had it all and made those outside suffer, and of course, we always wanted in. It seems that Westerberg High is being run by a trio of mega bitches, each named Heather. Their latest addition is a young lady named Veronica, and she is used for nothing more than writing bogus love letters. Suddenly a new and mysterious boy moves in and takes a liking to Veronica. JD is a loner, and his sense of humor is quite deadly. Together they engineer a series of fake suicides to make the school a better place and end up making the very teens they hated into tragic victims of the teenage problems they are mocking. "Heathers" came upon the scene and opened up the doors of dark comedy to a whole new generation of MTV vidiots. The film is very morbid, and the subject matter is quite shocking, but the direction of Michael Lehmann is well played, and the portrayals of the students involved come across most effectively. This film does speak out to so many of us who went to school and felt left out. Most noted are Wynonna Rider and Christian Slater as the murderous duo, but kudos go to a pre 90210 Shannon Daugherty, who portrays the scheming brunette, Heather Duke.

Maniac (1980)- Joe Bob's Last Drive-In

Maniac (1980)
Dir- William Lustig

Another movie that made my Disturbing Movies list. A low-budget gore flicks with no moral perspective that its makeup artist wanted to be removed from its credits. Tom Savini would later become famous for his award-winning FX as well as acting and directing many later horror films, yet his realistic FX is the only saving grace in this gutter movie. Like many horror films, we have a loner with no social grace or personality, in this case, a real mama's boy who enjoys murdering women and using their scalps to adorn his mannequins. The nature of this habit is nothing more than his perverse sexual pleasure. He is suffering from the torment of an abusive mother and longs for her love. Pity, because the audience is treated to little more than the graphic scenes of murder and the mutilation of the victims shown in gory red detail. Like many other slasher films, this one displays strong anti-woman feelings and the attitude that women are only good for killing and raping. Showing little if any value this film only seems to sink into the abyss of cheap slasher flicks, yet it's clear immoral tone and downright negative feelings towards the woman in general place it in the hall of the disturbed. Carolyn Munro appears very much against type as a woman who is drawn to this sicko, but will he do her in or can she escape his attention.