#FrankensteinFridayTheater: Dr. Hackenstein (1988)

\Happy Frankenstein Friday, students of mad science! We got some swift lippin’, ego trippin’, and body snatchin’ to make you feel…ALIVE!!!!

Today’s eXXXperiment is a full-length film from the mad monsters at Troma. The feature in question is itself a creature made from old parts. Take the skeleton of Curse of Frankenstein, inject it with the blood of Re-Animator, add the funny bone of Young Frankenstein, and you have the terror that is 1988’s Dr. Hackenstein!

Dr. Hackenstein  is not a particularly funny or horrific horror comedy, but it is a very “Frankenstein” one…  and that’s spooky cool to me! There’s whole lotta weird science going on, with oddly colored vials of substances that look vaguely science-y and sets that seem like they’ve been ripped out of Hammer film. Dr. Hackenstein doesn’t break new ground (unless you count digging up a grave). but it’s the kind of corny splatstick treat that’s charms you with its classically spooky atmospherics  and its corn-on-the-macabre humor. This film ain’t Young Frankenstein, but get the feeling the filmmakers knew that. Heck, there’s even a reference to the Mel Brooks film that’s, well… on the nosey.

Besides being a fun dose of Frankenstein madness, this film is also worth watch for its cast. Everyone does their darndest and David Muir is actually quite delightful as the bad doctor. It’s all over-the-top, but weirdly likable. Logan and Anne Ramsey (in her final film role) are fun as a pair of bumbling grave robbers. To add some more Frankenstein cred, Mad Monster Party’s Phyllis Diller has a small part in the film, but she’s a little less animated in this one! Aha ha ha!

Straight from Troma’s official Youtube channel, here’s Dr. Hackenstein for your Frankenstein Friday. 🙂

 

#FBF: The “Custer? I Hardly Know Her!” Edition

Ho-wdy, Kinky Ho-mies! I think we can all agree that Atari games are just about the seXXXiest thing in the cosmos, right? No? Well, the folks at Mystique certainly thought they were! You see, Mystique was a company that specialized in, um, “erotic” games. Their games included such classics as Beat ‘Em & Eat ‘Em, Bachelor Party, and, the subject of today’s article, Custer’s Revenge.

Custer’s Revenge is a game in which  General George Armstrong Custer rises from the grave to maneuver through a barrage  of arrows in order to hump an Indian girl tied to a cactus. And that’s the entire game! Custer wears nothing but a hat, boots and cavalry scarf, so his enormous 8-bit pecker is on display the entire time! It’s like watching a Lego sexually assaulting another Lego!

As you can imagine, this game didn’t go over well with… anyone. Women’s rights groups, Women Against Pornography (WAP), Native American spokespersons, and critics of the video game industry all (understandably) ripped this game apart for its wildly offensive content. Video game players hated it for being repetitive and often cite it as being one of the worst video games ever made.
The game is nothing more than a crude joke, but it’s pretty wild that a game like this ever got made…especially on Atari! Custer’s Revenge is just one of those things that has to be seen to be believed. By far, the most remarkable thing about the game is that it actually exists.

Check out the insanity below:

Happy May Day: The Wicker Man (1973)

(Submitted by Mr. Anton Phibes…Thanks, Ho-rrorday Ho-mie! 🙂 xoxo)

*Spoilers*


Happy May 1st to all you wicked witches and groovy ghoulies out there! For most, today is known as “May Day,”  and is primarily associated with sweet flowers and baskets full of small delights. To others, it is known as Beltane, a day in which faeries and spirits are uncommonly active. Magick is strong on this day, and protective bonfires are spread. Generally speaking, human beings are not at the literal center of these bonfires. However, if you are on the isle of Summerisle,  it’s entirely possible that things may get a little hot for you or someone you know…
The Wicker Man (1973) is a weird film. “Weird” is a word we have used numerous times on this site, but it’s a word that fits The Wicker Man better than most films. Even other “weird” films fail to be as weird.  For starters, The Wicker Man is not really a horror film until its last twenty minutes. Instead, it is best described as a “musical.” Hardly a traditional musical, mind you, but a musical. That’s not to to say the film is not unnerving, but it does it more with an overwhelming sense of things being off than with something that is obviously creepy.  However, once it reaches its conclusion, it does earn that “horror” label that it is associated with.

The plot concerns police officer Neil Howie (Edward Woodward) investigating the disappearance of a teenage girl from the island Summerisle. Howie is shocked when the island’s population denies the missing girl’s existence. Being a devout Christian of the puritanical sort, Howie is even more perturbed when he learns that the inhabitants are worshipers of a form of Celtic paganism. As the officer continues his investigation, the officer’s unease escalates when he suspects that the girl’s disappearance may be linked to a ghastly public festival.


Anthony “Frenzy” Shaffer’s screenplay is brilliantly crafted, making its finale (which I will get to very shortly) all the more powerful. its weird folk musical sequences and use of Pagan imagery make for a chilling atmosphere that doesn’t resort to crumbling castles, foggy graveyards, thunderstorms, or any of the classic horror tropes. The performances are all aces, especially Christopher Lee as the charismatic Lord Summerisle. Lee, who reportedly did the film for free, often said that Lord Summerisle was one of his favorite roles. While I’m partial to his work with Hammer, it is certainly an impressive performance in a career full of remarkable roles.
The ending is, understandably, the most talked-about part of the film. It has been parodied/referenced by just about everyone, is regularly cited as one of the greatest endings in horror history, and was even included in Bravo’s 100 Scariest Movie MomentsUnfortunately, that means that, even if you haven’t seen the film, you have a pretty decent idea of how it goes. Nonetheless, this overexposure can’t really diminish is just how effectively it plays out. No parody, spoiler-filled review, or single image online can capture just how powerfully disturbing it is or how horrifically real the performances seem. That is the ultimate testament to how masterful The Wicker Man is. Even if it isn’t completely unexpected, it still gets under your fingernails.

There isn’t a lot of competition, but The Wicker Man is definitely the greatest May Day/Beltane horror film of all time.  I highly recommend you give this classic shocker a view today. There’s just no better way for a ghoul to celebrate the occasion.

Happy May Day, creeps! MAY your dance around the Maypole be a pleasant one and may your Wicker Man burn bright.

#FBF: The “All’s Well That Criswell” Edition

(Submitted with all the vintage love by Mr. Anton Phibes…Thanks, freaky fiend! 🙂 xoxo)

Greetings, my friend. We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives. And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future. You are interested in the unknown, the mysterious, the unexplainable. That is why you are here. And now, for the first time, we are bringing to you the full story of what happened on that fateful record. We are bringing you all the evidence, based only on the secret testimony of the miserable souls who survived this terrifying ordeal. The incidents, the places! My friend, we cannot keep this a secret any longer! Let us punish the guilty! Let us reward the innocent! My friend, can your heart stand the shocking facts about The Legendary Criswell Predicts Your Incredible Future?!

I honestly can’t tell you if famed psychic/Plan 9 from Outer Space star The Amazing Criswell was a nutter, a charlatan, or a master showman. Armed with unwavering confidence, a mighty spit-curl, and a sequined suit, Criswell made incredible “predictions” in just about every form of media, but they usually had the same accuracy as a fortune teller machine on a boardwalk. Yes, he did predict that something terrible would stop President Kennedy from running for reelection in 1964… but he also predicted the 1999 “End of the World” by a black rainbow, the 1970 assassination of Castro by “a woman,” mass cannibalism, and the destruction of Denver by an amusement park turned deadly. He was questionable as a psychic, but he sure put on a show. In fact, the only thing I can tell you for certain about Criswell is that he was a highly entertaining personality.

The Legendary Criswell Predicts Your Incredible Future is a fascinating record because it really is just 44 minutes of non-stop predictions. Hearing his booming voice makes it even harder to determine just how sincere Criswell was. Horror fans will likely recognize that his “psychic” delivery is exactly the same as his delivery in the Ed Wood films he appeared in. If he was a carny-like showman, then his tenacity and theatricality should be praised. And If he truly believed he had powers,  he should be admired for honesty and boldness. Either way, Criswell was amazing.
I predict… you will click on the box below to hear The Amazing Criswell! 

#MonsterMovieMonday: Mr. Sardonicus (AKA Happy Birthday, William Castle!)

How do you do, my revolting readers? It’s William Castle’s Birthday, so it’s time once again to ho-nor this master of movie mayhem.
Mr. Castle has no equal when it comes to ghoulish amusements. He was the man who turned theater seats into joy buzzers, unleashed plastic skeletons upon audiences, and gave us the ability to see ghosts through cardboard. Alfred Hitchcock (Castle’s friendly rival) may have made more “prestigious” pictures, but Castle gave us a circus. Castle was the merriest master of the macabre ever to live and he will forever be my “Hitch-cock.” 😉
Of his many triumphs, I think I am most fond of Mr. Sardonicus. Master Castle’s films usually dealt with contemporary terrors, but Mr. Sardonicus was, in the legend’s own words, “an old-fashioned story.” In its essence, this is a Universal Gothic done in Castle’s inimitable idiom. Mr. Sardonicus is a tale of castles and fog, of masks and madmen, and of graves and… ghouls. “Ghoul” is very popular word, but it’s seldom used in its literal sense. Take, for example, William Castle. He’s a “ghoul” in the sense that he revels in the macabre and gruesome, but he certainly didn’t dig up graves and feast on corpses. (It’s not in his autobiography. ;))

Mr. Sardonicus does play with the idea of a figurative ghoul vs. a true ghoul. The truth falls more towards the former, but the latter is alluded to heavily. The fact that the idea of a real ghoul is hinted at all is unusual for a horror picture, and it is fascinating to deal with even the potential of one. The “ghoul” in the film is the tit-ular Sardonicus, though he is less a “Mr.” and more a “Baron.” While digging up his father’s grave to retrieve a winning lottery ticket (if I had a nickle…;)), Baron Sardonicus is so frightened by the sight of his father’s grinning skull that it actual causes his face to freeze in a permanent grin! Because of the grave-robbing and the unnatural deformation that occurs, he refers to himself as a ghoul.

In truth, he owes a little more to The Man Who Laughs and The Phantom of the Opera than a traditional ghoul. Like the unusual gentlemen in those stories, Sardonicus is a mortal man with ghastly visage and a mask. The audience could feel a certain sympathy for The Baron, although he does test one’s capacity for mercy with his habit of torturing girls with leaches, not to mention his cruelty towards his servant. Really, it’s up to the individual to decide if Sardonicus is worthy of redemption or condemnation. Of this, Castle was painfully aware. Not missing the chance for a bit of fun, Castle came up with another ingenious gimmick: The Punishment Poll.
The Punishment Poll was classic Castle. Ostensibly, the audience could decide on whether or not they wanted to show the ghoul mercy by voting on one of two endings. Each theater-goer was given a glow-in-the-dark card featuring a hand with the thumb out. When instructed by Mr. Castle in the film, they voted by holding up the card with either the thumb up or down as to whether Sardonicus would live or die. The gag? There was only one ending filmed! In the film, Castle “tallies” the votes and announces the result immediately, with no break in the continuity of the scene. Like a great magic trick, the act was fake, but the fun was very real. Besides, the ending we got is deliciously nasty! It’s the perfect twisted punchline and I can’t imagine a more fitting way to end the story of Sardonicus. My lips are sealed when it comes to specifics, but it’s a fantastic note to end on.

In ho-nor of Mr. Castle’s birthday, we have provided Mr. Sardonicus in all its ghoulish glory, I cannot recommend this film enough. It represents everything that was fantastic about William Castle and is just about the most fun one could have being repulsed and lied to! 😉 For a bit of Castle’s carny brilliance, check out the film below:

Happy Birthday, Mr. Castle!
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Goon Review: Serial Mom (aka Happy Birthday, John Waters!)

Ho-wdy, Ho-rror Ho-mies! Happy John Waters’ 71st Birthday Day!


In ho-nor of the Pope of Trash’s birthaversary, we have a review of his Serial Mom submitted by our very own Mr. Andrew Peters! Thanks, Ho-rror Ho-mie! 🙂 xoxoxo

The ‘90s was a strange time, especially for movies. The ‘90s didn’t quite have the identity that previous decades had, especially the ‘80s and it seemed like it wanted to forget all about the ‘80s while mimicking it at the same time, making it feel lost. Movies from that time suffered the most, especially the horror and comedy genres. Horror flicks thought they were being clever by attempting to mock the films of the ‘70s and ‘80, but it had a very cynical attitude about it, especially the slasher genre. I think we got the worst slashers out of the ‘90s. Comedies didn’t fare any better. They lacked the heart and characters that carried the films of previous years and decided to focus on cliched stereotypes they felt what their audiences perceived as cool. Oh, and help us if the two genres were attempted to be combined and you know how I feel about those. It’s like nobody knew how to speak to the generation of that time or what was happening in the world.

Nobody except for John Waters, that is. He’s a fashionable man that captures the look and style of a more pop art version of the swinging ‘60s. There’s also something very sleazy and mischievous about him that you can’t help but be fascinated with. He turned everyone’s heads – and stomachs – with the 1972 bizarre trash flick Pink Flamingos that featured both someone performing oral sex and that same person, Divine, eating dog shit. It also showcases someone bending their legs to expose their butthole and open it and close it in a rhythmic fashion. I’m just giving you an idea of what kind of filmmaker John Waters is. He loves to shock you with his sense of humor, but what if you were to take that style out of the trailer park and move it into suburbia? Well, you’d get Serial Mom.

Serial Mom has that humble ‘50s and ‘60s white, wholesome family with a ‘90s aesthetic, but underneath is a sweltering, festering nest of sleaze slowly oozing out and infecting the rest of the film, but by the time you notice it’s too late. Violence and the very mild gore is meant to both disgust you and make you laugh. The film is not only a more subtle parody of the horror genre, but it’s also a very dark comedy that is far more relevant today than it was at the time. It very intelligently brings to attention just what a media circus a famous court case can be and how we over sensationalize and idolize a serial killer, turning a blind eye to the horrors they’ve caused when we shouldn’t. In a way, this movie predicted the OJ Simpson trial if you can believe it.

This isn’t just some low budget, made on the fly type of shlock. This film actually looks like a real film, meaning that the production value is high, cinematography is well done and certain things in have a soft focus to give it a very dreamy or more wholesome quality to it. Serial Mom even has a killer cast to help bring it to a more professional sense (even though it’s just a clever disguise), like Kathleen Turner in the lead role as Beverly Sutphin and Sam Waterston as her husband Eugene, with Matthew Lillard in his first role as her son Chip and Ricki Lake (yes, from The Ricki Lake Show) as her daughter Misty. Together, they appear to be the most perfect family. Mom prepares dinner and cleans the house as dad reads the paper and gets ready for work. Chip and Misty bicker before school about their seemingly important teenage lives, but when everyone leaves and Beverly is all by herself, she immediately partakes in her current favorite hobby; making obscene phone calls to her neighbor Dottie Hinkle. Just the look of pure joy that dons Beverly’s face as she asks Dottie about the pussywillows and if the Cocksucker residents live at 4215 Pussy Way. Immediately, a whiplashing tone is set that’s gonna keep juggling you back and forth. It’s like an amusement park ride; it’s gonna spin you around and make you nauseous, but dammit if it’s not fun.

Between her daughter’s unfaithful boyfriend, a neighbor that don’t recycle and her son’s friend that won’t buckle up, now she has to deal with two detectives nosing around. At first, it’s routine. The police are only digging up clues to find the culprit behind Dottie Hinkle’s phone calls, but with everyone misbehaving, Beverly has to do something about it. After the garbage men and her family wish that certain people were dead, she decides that for the good of her family, she must kill those that can’t be nice or abide by society’s rules. Like one of Chip’s teachers, for example, who believes all of the horror movies that Chip watches is affecting his mental health and that he should seek professional help and that Beverly is a poor parent for allowing him to see such garbage. Well, she’ll show him! Using her car, she runs the sucker down and drives away with no one but a stoner as a witness. Still, the witnesses story summons the police to the Sutphin residence and now they are suspicious, especially after digging through her garbage and finding books on serial killers. The suspicion is heightened when Beverly gores her daughter’s cheating boyfriend with a fireplace poker after catching him shopping around with another girl (Traci Lords in a cameo). Now the police are sniffing around long enough to catch her in the act when she goes after Chip’s friend who is ranting about her being a killer, but fortunately he’s literally caught with his pants down by the Sutphin family and is saved. For now.

That doesn’t thwart Beverly’s rampage, but she’s eventually apprehended by the police and taken to court for her heinous crimes, but like they say, innocent until proven guilty. The final act of the film is her court hearing and it has become a full blown media circus with Misty selling Serial Mom merchandise and Chip acting as her agent for the film being made about her life that will be starring Suzanne Somers who appears as herself. With nobody to defend Beverly but herself, the tables seem like they will be against her, but just wait until how she charms the judge and the jury and proves that maybe she’s not crazy… although she really is.

Scream Factory’s release of Serial Mom is to kill for. I don’t believe this is a 2K transfer, but it certainly looks as sharp as a butcher knife and it also has some killer extra features. Sick of my puns yet? Anyway, the main attraction for the features in my opinion is the feature commentary with director John Waters, who is always entertaining. He also does another new commentary with star Kathleen turner which I also recommend checking out. If you aren’t familiar with John Waters’ commentary, check out his commentary on Christmas Evil. He has nothing to do with the film, but he and the director talk about the movie and it’s pretty funny. Other features include John Waters talking with Kathleen Turner and Mink Stole about the making of the movie and there also a featurette called Serial Mom: Surreal Moments that has interviews with the aforementioned trio along with Matthew Lillard, Ricki Lake, Patricia Hearst and a few others. There’s also an original promotional featurette, The Making of Serial Mom along with The Kings of Gore that looks at the works of Herschel Gordon Lewis and David Friedman and the theatrical trailer for good measure.

Serial Mom is one of the funniest horror comedies to come of… well, ever. We seem to be hitting a wave of them now and they all seem to confuse nostalgia and homage with a half hearted attempt at long running fart jokes made of fads from the era they are supposedly paying respects to. Serial Mom is smart, hilarious and dark. It’s a perfect blend of everything you could want and although it’s not as sleazy as previous John Waters’ films, it really doesn’t need to be and I have to say it’s probably his most well made film.

Happy Birthday, John Waters! Stay filthy, you Prince of Puke! 🙂 xoxoxo

Happy Birthday, Evil Dead II!

Thirty years ago on this very night, a force of evil beyond description was unleashed upon the human race and it continues to swallow the souls of the innocent to this very day… 

That force was Evil Dead II and it remains a favorite among lovers of the terrifically hilarious. Serving as both a sequel and a remake of sorts, Evil Dead II goes back the original and throws a pie in its face. With inspiration taken from both H.P. Lovecraft and The Three Stooges, this film is a freak show of cartoon violence, slapstick splatter, monstrous monsters, and surreal visuals… and still manages to be darn creepy! Evil Dead II is a ghost train through the warped minds of co-writers Sam Raimi and Scott Spiegel, the former also being the film’s director. In their cinematic funhouse, corpses dance in the night, furniture laughs in maniacal glee, the human hand turns against the body, blood sprays from any source, and madness is king. With very little money, Raimi and his team created a wonderfully nightmarish, visually brilliant,  and utterly strange film that rivals the sights and frights of any “A”  horror picture. On top of all that greatness, it also gave us the Bruce Campbell we all adore today, one-liners and all. After all these years, Evil Dead II is still… groovy.

Take a look behind-the-screams:

Sam Raimi thinks this film will “grab” you:

Get Out (2017)

(Submitted by Mr. Anton Phibes…Thanks, ho-rror ho-mie. This was already in my Must View Queue, but now it’s right there at the very top! 🙂 xo)

Horror is as varied a genre as any other. There are horror films that are meant to delight you, get under your skin, shock you, disturb you, and others that may intend to do something beyond a simple classification. The genre’s primary job is to deal with the with the frightening and/or unnatural. Monsters and ghouls are among my favorite things, but they’re hardly frightening to most in today’s society. What scares most of us is usually something far more real and harder to combat than Dracula. Many brilliant horror films have used the macabre trappings of fantasy to comment on some very real issues. Critics tend to point to George A. Romero as an artist who uses monster movies as commentary. In his work, they see statements on race relations (Night of the Living Dead), consumerism (Dawn of the Dead), conflict between science and the military (Day of the Dead), and class (Land of the Dead). Genre legend John Carpenter’s growing disdain for Reaganomics led him to address these issues in his satirical sci-fi film, They Live. Under the pseudonym “Frank Artimage,” Carpenter took aim at the consumerism of the Reagan era. From the citation of Night of the Living Dead in promotional interviews to the prominent use of the last name “Artimage,” it’s clear that the lessons of these past filmmakers were not lost on director/writer Jordan Peele when he made Get Out.

Get Out concerns Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) and his girlfriend Rose Armitage (Allison Williams), an interracial couple preparing for a trip to meet Rose’s parents. Chris is concerned because Rose hasn’t told them that he is black, but Rose assures him that everything will be fine and they depart. Of course, with this being a horror picture, everything will be far from fine. At first, Rose’s folks seem fairly normal, if a bit awkward. They give him a warm enough reception, but they are also painfully aware of his race. To add to this strangeness Chris notices that the black people on the premises act… peculiar. As the weekend progresses, what was once awkward morphs into something far more sinister, leading to truth far more disturbing than one could imagine.

Get Out is the directorial debut of comedian Jordan Peele and it is an absolutely glorious way to start. Peele understands the power of the horror genre and uses it to address racism, a horror that is seldom addressed in fright films. The racism on display here is not the overtly violent kind, but the insidious kind that wears a smile and mask of gentility. When we begin to put race above all else, we begin to undermine the humanity of others. Regardless of outward appearances, we are all of the same species. In Get Out, exoticizing, appropriation, and excessive accommodation are all presented as dangerous forms of racism. The most powerful horror films tend to explore uncomfortable themes in a way that not only makes us feel uneasy, but also encourages us think about them. Get Out is that kind of movie.

Get Out not only succeeds  as social commentary, but it also works a damn chilling horror film. Despite this being his first feature film, Peele’s work here is extraordinarily confident. Tension is a thick as fog throughout the picture and the suspense is perfectly unbearable. The performances in the film simply perfect, especially those of leads Daniel Kaluuya and Allison Williams. Kaluuya’s likable performance makes the horror of what is happening to him all the more terrifying. There are images here that are likely to haunt the viewer for a very long time, including a nightmarish sequence of a hypnotized Kaluuya sinking into endless darkness. The film features hypnotism, mad science, and many other macabre elements that are likely to please my fellow frightseekers.

With an unfathomable 99% on Rotten Tomatoes and its exceptional success at the box office, I have a feeling Get Out will be come a classic of the genre. The film is thought-provoking as it is frightening, and that is quite the feat.  Jordan Peele has expressed interest in doing more of these “social thrillers,” and I certainly hope he does! If any of his future films are even half as good as this, Mr. Peele may very well be the next true Master of Horror.

Goon Review: Antibirth (2016)

(Submitted by Mr. Andrew Peters…Thanks, Ho-rror Ho-meboy!! 😉 xoxo)


Very few movies will leave me feeling left in the middle of the road, meaning I’m not entirely sure if I liked it or disliked it or the film just happened to have a really good scene or two that I thoroughly enjoyed. Welcome to that short list, Antibirth, a film released in the conjunction of IFC Midnight and Scream Factory, who I both love, but between this and The Devil’s Dolls I am seriously considering their judgement of the films they are releasing. Alright, maybe I’m being a little hard on Antibirth, I mean, it’s not like I hate the movie, but I was incredibly disappointed by it. After saying that, I should point out that it’s not ineptly made or stupid, it just wasn’t what I was expecting and seemed to move at a snail’s pace and I found it hard to keep my interest.

I know I talk about slow burns, movies that take their time setting up a plot, a lot of times, but Antibirth takes its sweet time getting there. I seriously think it was about halfway through the movie before I noticed any resemblance of a plot. Not that the film was confusing, mind you, but at multiple times I asked myself, “what the hell am I watching?” Not in a confused kind of way, but why I’m supposed to take long scenes of nothing but a stoner getting wasted interesting. It’s not all interesting as there are a few scenes that are noteworthy, but they are so far and few inbetween that it’s hard to recommend a movie just for a scene or two.

Natasha Lyonne plays the trashy, party monster Lou, and on a side note, it took me several moments to realize that this was the disco chick from Detroit Rock City. I gotta say, it does not look like she has aged a day in nearly twenty years. She kinda plays the same character (or maybe it’s just the Jersey accent throwing me off), except dirtier and trashier which is somehow more sexy. Then again, I’ve always had a thing for Natasha Lyonne. Anyway, Lou spends her days drinking, doing drugs, whatever it takes to get high. She occasionally refers to her father who apparently lost it during the Vietnam War and it’s alluded to that he killed himself, but this or what effect it had on Lou is never really explored. It’s brought up and dropped a few times, but nothing comes of it other than maybe this is why she is constantly in an altered state. Lou is not by far a likable character. When she isn’t doing drugs, she’s a foul mouthed chain smoker who eats pizza out of the garbage and lives in a hoarders dream trailer. It’s like she’s trying to be a cartoon version of a Rob Zombie character and honestly speaking, I didn’t want to spend a whole movie with this character, as she has no redeemable qualities and from what you will see in the movie, you have to wonder why she was chosen to be the center. To be fair, it does fit into the plot. There is a reason given to why we are following her, but at no point do I really want to. Lou wakes up one day with no recollection of what happened the previous night, which is what we see in flashy quick cuts wherein a shifty looking bearded man is leading her away from the party, where we can only think the unimaginable will happen.

Along with her friend Sadie (Chloe Sevigny), they try to get to the root of the problem, which is seemingly a pregnancy only there is one minor little problem; Lou claims that she hasn’t had sex in a really long time, after an abortion about a year ago and if you were worrying that the film wouldn’t show it, well let me ease your doubts. It’s a pretty disgusting scene, which I am sure some of you will get a kick out of. Figuring out with Lou is just a stop in this sideshow. It’s mentioned here and there, but the film would rather show you more scenes of her getting drunk and Sadie bitching at her for it. Along the way, Lou happens upon a mysterious woman, Lorna, played by Meg Tilly who looks like a combination of Winona Ryder and Charlie Heaton’s characters from Stranger Things. Lorna seems to have some answers, but Lou is resistant and goes about her debauchery lifestyle until further in the film when she tracks Lou down in her trailer and talks about her past with the Army and how she became a clairvoyant. Finally during the final act, things pick up and Lorna and Lou are on the path to realization that what may by inside Lou may not be human, especially seeing as she is growing in size rapidly. They track down Lou’s friends and Sadie’s ex-Marine drug dealing boyfriend to solve this riddle, which I won’t spoil just incase you want to check out the movie. I will say that it’s quite interesting, but unfortunately getting there takes a lot of patience and sitting through various subplots that barely tie together.

Antibirth is as if writer/director Danny Perez wanted to mimic the drug fueled, nightmare inducing style of Terry Gilliam with hints of a grungy David Fincher mystery and the trailer trash characters and dialogue of Rob Zombie while trying to make the birthing scene from Xtro, but got lost in just letting the camera run about a girl getting stoned and talking about nothing and the shift in tone between performances and tone make the movie feel confused. It’s not sure what it wants to be, so it’s hoping to use the drug fueled theme as a mask and play it off to be cool. At times it feels like it’s supposed to be body horror, other times it feels a bit sci-fi and then there is a mix of a stoner drama. There’s nothing wrong with mixing genres, Antibirth just feels muddled while it’s trying to decide what it’s trying to do and this shows with the actor’s performance. Natasha Lyonne seems to be in a comedy, while the supporting cast is in some kind of serious drama, then Meg Tilly steps in and almost crosses the line into campy territory.

As I’ve stated, I don’t think it’s a poorly made film. In fact, Danny Perez does seem to have an eye to tell the story, but I don’t think he quite understood how to tell it. There are several subplots to the overall story, none of which tie together really well and some seemingly drop out altogether only to be brought up again later, far after the point where I forgot about it. I could also mention the special effects that are done really well, minus the notable CG parts and offer up a pretty tripping viewing, especially when they are watching commercials or at a Chucky Cheeze style pizza place where people in furry animal-esque costumes dance around, mostly in front of lava lamp looking backgrounds. Another good thing about the film is the pop and punk rock soundtrack that I’m sure the targeted audience will get a kick out of.

As I mentioned in the beginning of the review, the film was released by Scream Factory in conjunction with IFC Midnight, who up until recently, I’ve been questioning their decisions. Possibly looking for new and different films for their audience, to which I can’t begrudge them for. The Blu-ray has a few special features, like shorts, storyboards and a trailer. Not much to really justify a $20 price tag, but some people may dig the film for what it is. Unfortunately, I can’t say I’m that target audience, as much as I do love seeing Natasha Lyonne. Surprised there’s not even a commentary track, as I think director Danny Perez really could have shed some light on the movie.
If I were to sum up Antibirth, it’s an 80 minute set up to a ten minute joke. I don’t mean the film itself is a joke, but rather the film takes a long, long time drawn out time getting to the punchline that does pay off, but doesn’t make the journey worth the trip. To make a more accurate comparison, the movie is like that really immature friend you had in highschool and you don’t see them for ten years and then out of the blue, they call you to hang out. You go over there and they are still the same. Living in a mess, getting wasted and just acting like they don’t care. It’s no longer cool and you feel uncomfortable, so you are just waiting for the appropriate time to leave.

Scary Shorties: Hell’s Bells (1929)

We’ve got a real hot one from Ub Iwerks, kids!

1929’s Hell’s Bells is undeniable proof that the Disney company wanted to inflict  irreparable psychological damage on your child. Directed by the brilliantly psychotic Ub Iwerks (Walt Disney’s first business partner and the man who animated the first Mickey Mouse shorts), this short is a typical Silly Symphonies affair with one considerable difference: it takes place in bloody Hell! What’s even more astounding about this is that this is actually a damn disturbing depiction of Hell! Iwerks’ Hell is essentially what happens when you allow Hieronymus Bosch to design family entertainment. Clocking in at just under six minutes, Mr. Iwerks treats us to images of The Devil feeding lesser demons to Cerberus, demons eating other demons to gain their attributes, and monsters dragged against their will by fiery hands. Fantastic!

Ub Iwerks was certainly a man after our black, rotten hearts. In this very same year, Mr. Iwerks unleashed The Skeleton Dance and The Haunted House, suggesting that the gentleman had a love for the odd and spooky. Though this short never got a follow-up, Iwerks’  grinning demons cavorted in The Goddess of Spring from 1934,  a short that lead to future development of Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.

If you want black sensations up and down your spine, check out the video below: