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Film

GateBuster: Re-Animator

You get a fair amount of weird looks when you tell people one of your favorite movies is Re-Animator.

You get a lot of stuff like “Isn’t Weyoun from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine in that?”. Or maybe, “That thing is…REALLY gross, right?”. Or, my personal favorite, “Doesn’t a severed head perform a sex act on Barbara Crampton in that?”

To which I usually reply “Yes.”, “Yes, isn’t it great?!”, and “Yeah, BUT IT’S ALL PRACTICAL EFFECTS!”. Which then, ultimately, garners even weirder looks. Or just altogether abandonment. There is also the matter of its source material’s author being a huge piece of shit. Springing from a popular pulp serial from author H.P. Lovecraft, his prose version bears little resemblance to Stuart Gordon and Jeffery Combs’ filmic version but we still have to wrestle with the obvious legacy of hatred, fear of the other, and bigotry Lovecraft injected into even his most seminal of stories. Even, sadly, Herbert West, Re-Animator amongst them. 

But even despite ALL OF THIS. Even factoring in the bracing, ever evolving legacy of the author who started all this and the “video nasty” reputation the movie was greeted with upon its release. Re-Animator still will always mean a great deal to me. It will always be a movie I cherish and want to share with as many people as possible. 

Because it was the movie that finally showed me that horror could be a whole hell of a lot of fun.

I should back up. For those unaware of the blood-soaked blast that is 1985’s Re-Animator, let me first say, why do you hate fun and welcome. First conceptualized as a stage production (and then later adapted in 2011 as a stirring and screamingly entertaining musical starring George “Norm” Wendt), Re-Animator is the bloody brainchild of writer/director Stuart Gordon, a name you’ve surely seen emblazoned and respected down the isles of any self-respecting Horror section of a video store.

A veteran of the “experimental” (read: bloody-as-fuck) theatre scene of Chicago and founder of a troupe called the Organic Theatre Company, Gordon is and was a born and bred “Horror Guy”. Until his death this last year, Gordon was always either behind the camera or behind the keyboard, cooking up some new manner of practical efx-driven horror. More often than not, these works were based on the writings of Lovecraft. Though Gordon had a healthy career away from the pulps, directing a whole gamut of non-horror stuff as well (Honey, I Blew Up The Kid! Robot Jox!), you can tell from the works (and quantity of adaptations) that making Lovecraft and his labyrinthine mythos both accessible and fun for the general horror watching audience was something of a passion of his. 

Edgar Allen Poe would also take up some of his focus and attention later in his career too, bringing along frequent collaborator Jeffery Combs (more on that lovely maniac in a second), but Lovecraft always seemed to be Mr. Gordon’s true muse; both in his filmed and staged works. But it all starts here with ‘85’s Re-Animator, and holy hell is it a great fuckin’ start.

Though the original serial novellas have a somewhat stuffy and haughty tone, Gordon’s Re-Animator, from the jump, seems gleefully irreverent. We open on the idyllic University of Zurich medical center, detailed in a lush matte painting. The eminent Dr. Hans Gruber (no, not that one) has died, but suddenly screams wrack the hospital! The body has been disturbed somehow and is now…ALIVE AGAIN?! Thanks to the clandestine efforts of a little dweeb carrying a vial of Day-Glo green liquid. Gruber thrashes and moans and for a second seems to notice the dweeb when he talks to him; said dweeb being his former student. But then his eyes explode like overripe peaches and his face melts. ALL on camera and largely shot in well-lit close-ups.

“You killed him!”, the attendings scream at the dweeb.

“NO!” he retorts proudly. “I GAVE HIM LIFE!”

Smash cut to a set of immensely arresting credits and a cheeky, string-heavy score from composer Richard Brand. 

And the best part is, the rest of the movie lives up to that opening! Though a…let’s say LIBERAL adaptation of the original serial, Gordon’s Re-Animator displays a confidence you can only find in a debut movie. Honed by years of stagecraft and working directly with actors, a lot of this cast brought in from his days as a Chicago theatre director, all of Gordon’s set-pieces throughout this thing just sing. Supported by some ghoulish and medically accurate makeup effects (inspired by one of the artist’s research into the Cook County morgue and medical cadavers). 

More than that, it’s actually FUNNY too. And not just “horror movie” funny in that accidental way or grim way slasher movies kind of slap at occasionally. Gordon’s script, co-written with writers Dennis Paoli and William Norris, was originally intended to be a bleakly funny ½ hour comedy show, following the framework of the original serial, set in the 1920s. 

Obviously, that didn’t pan out, but the droll comedy of the format for sure made the transition to being a feature. Following a young couple who provide their fellow peer West a room for rent, the movie starts out as basically a comedy of errors. Our leads, played groundedly by Bruce Abbott and literal queen and genre icon Barbara Crampton, are forced to have to deal with the obvious weirdness and weaponized arrogance of West, played to the absolute hilt by Jeffery Combs. But once his resurrection experiments crash their hot-and-heavy college romance, the couple becomes a zombie-fighting throuple, fighting to both survive West’s resurrection experiments and the legions of monsters they threaten to unleash on the unsuspecting Miskatonic University.

While the makeup and cult-classic status of this movie is a major selling point, none of it would work without Jeffery Combs. An actor who always seemed one million percent dialed into whatever madness Gordon had cooked up. Whatever tone he wanted to have on the day. Re-Animator too serves as Combs’ lead debut. Though he had played a few bit parts beforehand, Herbert West is really his first time “at-bat” as it were as a major role and he absolutely nails it. From selling the terror of an undead cat to cooly facing down a villainous severed head, Combs just deftly handles every shift, every gag, like it’s the most vaunted and serious of material, which would become a hallmark of his later horror performances. And in doing so, launches a horror icon. One that sustained several sequels, a comic series, and even a whole other separate career as one of Star Trek’s hardest-working character guest stars.

But I tell y’all all this to tell you mainly that this gross, horny, and consistently hilarious movie really unlocked something in me. Something I wasn’t expecting it to be at all. You see, when I was younger, I used to be TERRIFIED of horror movies. Like, so much so, that I would have a full-on PANIC ATTACK seeing posters or seeing that my mom wanted to rent the new Halloween movie on ancient, wired Pay-Per-View. 

A shift started to happen when I discovered Joe Bob Briggs and TNT’s MonsterVision. Suddenly, I wasn’t screaming with the movies, I was laughing with them. Joe Bob’s constant stream of information and his smirking attitude toward the actual “acts” of terror happening, contained well within his “Drive-In Totals”, finally gave me an edge against the movie I was about to watch. I finally knew what to expect! Better still, a fellow Texan was walking me through it! He never showed Re-Animator on MonsterVision, but he talked about it and Gordon, often and fondly. Finally, after an episode on the equally entertaining (and gross and horny) From Beyond, I sought out Re-Animator. Renting in with a double feature alongside Evil Dead II, another I had only heard of, not seen. I was TWELVE. My parents dropped some balls, for sure.

But for the first time, seeing both those blood-soaked, but irresistible films back-to-back, I felt like I GOT IT. After all those years of being scared, of hiding from the blood, I was cheering it on (in a constructive, non-DudeBro way, I promise). Instead of hiding my eyes, I was anxiously awaiting the next scare, the next effect. I was finally and gratefully “in on the joke”. And Stuart Gordon and a bunch of other weirdos who made a weirdo movie brought me into it.

From there, a whole new world opened itself up to me. A world filled with Texas Chainsaw Massacres and the Lament Configuration and dark delights from even beyond the borders of America. That summer into the fall I discovered Fulci and Argento and the sumptuousness of Bava. I walked into The Mouth of Madness and finally turned the pages on my first read of Creepshow. I kept staring fear in the face and came out smiling. 

All because a bunch of theatre dorks spun a yarn, and spun it well.

Re-Animator isn’t for everyone. Loving it as I do, it’s one of the things I can instantly admit about it. It’s not a “casual” experience by any standards. It’s squishy and it’s mean and it has a few moments in it sure to shock a Wine Mom into a coma. But it’s a movie that will always hold a special place in my heart because it finally gave ME a special place in Horror. With irreverence, gallons of fake blood, and a truly game cast and crew, Re-Animator finally provided me my own perfect Horror experience. It showed me how and why people found this fun because it finally let ME have fun with it. I know it’s not for everybody, but it’s certainly for me.

I thank Jeffery Combs for that. I thank Barbara Crampton for that. But most of all, I thank Stuart Gordon for that. For showing that horror didn’t have to be needlessly cruel to be scary and didn’t have to sacrifice realism or humor for any of the blood. That horror could be theatrical and still be effective. That broadness didn’t always mean badness. 

That’s why I can take weird looks when I say “Re-Animator is one of my favorite movies”. Because I know that underneath all the gore and the Day-Glo serum and casual nudity there is a movie worth more than just the sum of its parts. 

It gives me, like Dr. Hans Gruber…LIFE!

Categories
Film

GateBuster: Event Horizon

As a spooky little kid I was fortunate enough to have a TV and a VCR in my bedroom. My family wasn’t wealthy but this little luxury wasn’t expensive and my mom knew how much I liked movies, especially horror movies. The first film I ever saw, due to a flakey babysitter, was James Cameron’s Aliens. According to my mother, 3 year old me thought Aliens was hilarious, a stark contrast to my vehement anger after witnessing the murder of Bambi’s mother in Bambi

Having my own personal TV (covered in X-Men stickers of course) also just made sense because that meant I was able to watch horror movies on my own in case my mom wanted to use the living room TV for something other than a 50th viewing of the original A Nightmare On Elm Street. I was a bit obsessed, but I was rarely “a problem child” and so my mom didn’t really mind. After all, she was the neighborhood “Halloween Lady,” known for her over the top decorations and nightmare tableaus, so it all had to come from somewhere. 

My collection of VHS tapes was formidable, it blossomed with what in my purview were the most important films like Halloween, Night Of The Living Dead, Clueless, The Long Kiss Goodnight, Friday The 13th Part II, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. When it came to what my collection lacked, I loved going to the local video store and perusing the aisles searching for the perfect three rental combination: a tried and true classic that I had already seen but not yet purchased, a new release with cool enough box art, and a random horror film that I grabbed exclusively based on my intuition. This is how I first watched Event Horizon.

Event Horizon, some might call a “bad movie” and to that I say, let’s leave behind this “good” and “bad” binary folks. Like its Paul W. S. Anderson predecessor, Mortal Kombat, and everything Anderson has directed since, Horizon is an exercise in genre camp. Anderson doesn’t make subtle films, I’m not sure he can, and honestly I appreciate that. We’re in an era where horror films are often expected to be a cerebral, deeply nuanced experience and sometimes I just want to watch a bloody mess that doesn’t ask me to consider… well, much of anything. 

The premise, boiled down, is essentially “y’all, what if we did Hellraiser in space? A concept that is executed considerably less well in the film Hellraiser: Bloodlines, where spoiler alert, a space station folds in on itself to become a massive anti-hell puzzle box full of light that traps and destroys demons. 

The film opens with a series of intertitle texts that imagines a much more advanced history for humanity. Rewatching this film with my 35 year old brain, I cackled when I read “2015 – First Permanent Colony Established On The Moon.” I love the unbridled hubris of science fiction compared to our own stunted growth. We always imagine we’ll accomplish more than we do. 

After further scene setting, we get our first shot of the Event Horizon, arguably the main character of the film. The ship is drastically phallic, or uterine? Dealers’ choice really. Perhaps it’s a matter of perspective. 

Various objects float inside the ship’s compromised gravity, a water bottle, a paperback book, a paper cup,  and a standard wrist watch. It all makes one question how we have established space colonies but never updated the design of watches or plastic bottles. The camera settles on the image of nude floating body, arms spread wide, in front of a window shaped like a cross. The camera enters the man’s screaming mouth and exits Sam Neil’s open eye as he wakes in terror. Daddy is being called home. 

Does Event Horizon make sense? Well, no, not really. The “Gravity Drive” or Einstein Rosen bridge inadvertently detours the ship through hell, and now the ship… is Hell? Is Hell’s avatar? The ship sent out a distress call to summon more victims like I might order DoorDash while nursing a hangover on a Sunday?

That said, Event Horizon doesn’t NEED to make sense to be a lot of fun. When did you ever love a piece of art specifically because it made sense? If you go into this film expecting iron-clad science and grounded characters, you’re at the wrong dance, honey. 

The characters are all fairly thinly drawn, their motivations and choices aren’t nuanced and serve simply to move the plot forward. In the moments that we do get character backstory, as with the suicide of Dr. Weir’s wife, or the illness Technician Peters’ son suffers from, it’s all very vague and piecemeal. Other characters seem to have little to no interior lives whatsoever. Who cares, want to watch the ship eat them? 

Fortunately, the film doesn’t look quite as dated as some of its CGI filled contemporaries, the Event Horizon “herself” is filled with impressive practical effects and beautiful gothic sets inspired by the photographs of Joel-Peter Witkin, the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch, Pieter Bruegel, and the Notre Dame Cathedral. The production design on this film is gorgeous, internal spires, spikes, oscillating hallways, and bizarre textures cover every surface. Does it make sense for a spaceship to be designed like a gothic cathedral? Of course not, but is it a cooky fun concept? Absolutely. 

Event Horizon, like all of Paul W. S. Anderson’s work, is ridiculous and best enjoyed a bit stoned if that’s your thing or at the very least with a rowdy group of friends who don’t mind both screaming and laughing at a goofy drama queen of a movie. It’s the perfect movie for a riffy kiki night. Ridicule the dialogue, point out the plot holes, and gag over Sam Neil’s full-body make-up moment. Category is: Spiral Cut Ham Honey.

Highly recommended for fans of Hellraiser, Alien, Solaris, Sunshine, and the Dead Space game series.

Micheal Foulk.

Categories
Film

GateBuster: Plan 9 From Outer Space

Review delivered by Sean Keister

Bright blues and yellow are all I can see as my saucer makes another clunky landing in a desolate strip mall. I manually slide the creaky old door open, and breathe in that stale Earth parking lot odor. I look up and see a neon sign that says, “Gatebuster.” I’m relieved as it seems close enough to a video store chain that has long been defunct on my planet. I’m exactly where I wanted to be. As I enter I see no sign of intelligent life anywhere (but what else is new). I had heard a rumor that there was a tub of tapes with the words, “Grave Robber” etched into it; a clear jab at my peoples’ attempted conquest of this stupid, stupid planet. 

Undeterred, I see no tub, only a handful of tapes left, one of which is mine if I agree to fill out a review card. Despite a few options, my eyes spot Plan 9 From Outer Space. My blood ran cold — even colder than usual — thinking about renting the film that dramatized our failed takeover of Earth. I must admit this incident was a sore spot for my people. It was painful, humiliating and traumatizing. However, I cannot resist filling out review cards. I begrudgingly use my controlling ray to levitate the video towards myself and head out the door. As I board my ship for the night’s viewing, I wonder if I have made a mistake.

Despite my reservations, I am starved for entertainment. I had never seen it. Not because it has been called “The worst movie ever made,” but for personal reasons. Most of my people have avoided it like the plague. I popped the cassette in the VCR and was prepared for the worst. The name “Edward D. Wood Jr.” appeared on screen. Perhaps the worst director here on earth, but to us a slanderer of my people. After a scene of what appears to be an “Earth-style” funeral, we meet our bland and dim-witted hero, Jeff Trent. Of course, here he is, still lightyears ahead of intelligence than the real Trent. Just like that Trent, he lives on the outskirts of the cemetery where we unveiled Plan 9 (our best plan). Wood does a solid job, explaining our plan to raise their dead in order for them to march on Washington to convince them of our existence. We tried to live with them in peace, but we had to stop them before they used a world-destroying device.

But I digress, I’m here to talk about filmmaking, not one one of the most disappointing moments of my life. Luckily, since I am not portrayed in the film, it makes it easier for me to watch. Right away, I noticed the poor design of the cemetery, featuring cardboard tombs and limited trees and I know I’ll enjoy at least a few laughs. Along with Trent, we meet the poor police detectives that are trying to discover what’s going on with the spooky circumstances in the cemetery. This group is led by the gigantic Tor Johnson, whose large presence makes up for his limited acting ability. 

In Wood’s film every character sounds the same; from the police to the military and the citizens. Every sentence is exposition from beginning to end. The stilted dialogue is comforting, because it is so reminiscent of our own vernacular. Once you finally see us in the film, I cringed and then had to smile, as Wood had dressed us in ridiculous outfits that look like silk pajamas, seemingly in an attempt to make us seem ridiculous. In reality we don’t wear clothes at all, but I’m sure the censors had something to say on that matter. I have to be honest here when I say that my superiors were upset with us for being seen by the humans, but apparently we didn’t make much of an impact considering they learned nothing from our visit. 

At this point, I’m much more invested. We have the humans down for the count. In the film, we see Johnson and the famous TV-personality Vampira terrorizing anyone entering the cemetary. Obviously, our true methods were much too terrifying for a weak, mainstream audience. In Wood’s film we are only hovering-over-them to death. Apparently effective enough to kill, it was a little milquetoast for my taste. Ironically, Wood takes a page out of our book in a way by resurrecting his deceased friend, actor Bela Lugosi. In a beautiful tribute, he uses the last footage filmed of Laguosi to portray him as one of the risen dead. A stand-in can be seen with his face obscured most of the time, but his presence is felt.  

In what is a world-class display of Earth propaganda, they defeat my friends Eros and Tanna in an embarrassingly simple fashion. I will not lie, it was hard not to turn the tape off at this moment, but I persisted. In a crude re-enactment of our all powerful spaceship, the protagonists square-off against the actors playing my late colleagues. In the struggle, our equipment catches on fire and the humans escape, while the flaming ship takes off. Without a doubt, watching two of my closest friends get killed and go down in flames is difficult. Seeing the shoddy special effects softens the wound.    

In spite of the many, many inaccuracies, I had a blast. Far from the worst movie of all time, if you ask me. Even seeing my people defeated by these idiotic earthlings brought a smile to my face. I was so happy to see our reign of terror that I didn’t mind the downer ending. For you see we will return. There is always another plan to execute.  

Categories
Film

GateBuster: Multiple Maniacs

It was the night. I was going to watch a film. I didn’t know what I wanted to watch first until I heard something. It was a voice, but it wasn’t that of my parents or my sister. And it wasn’t a voice inside my head either. The voice kept saying “but Bobby, what about John Waters?” And the name was familiar. This was the man who directed Pink Flamingos, the film that made film critic Mark Kermode leave the cinema (he said it was one of the few films he ever walked out of). It was billed as “an exercise in poor taste.” And that led to me look at the rest of his filmography.

I was intrigued. And I would have wanted to watch one of his films, but I don’t think I was ready. I thought I would wait. Many months passed and I was just minding my own business until I saw a tweet by the GateCrashers. They said that for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I could watch a film of my own choosing from a list and talk about it.

John Waters has made a name for himself with his filmography of films that are transgressive. Some viewers think of his films as rather shocking. There’s no artistic value to them and to watch one of his films and to enjoy it would mean that one has bad taste in film. And I am sure, there were similar sentiments around Multiple Maniacs. It is a film that wears its identity proudly on its sleeve. It’s a film that asks us to embrace the garbage and the burning down of that garbage. From the beginning until the end, it is a film of absurd extremes. The premise of the film follows a traveling troupe of performers who rob their audience members after the end of a show. There’s a sensibility to the premise as it does sound normal, but the fact that this is a traveling troupe adds a zaniness to it, and that leads to the shock, or in this case, the schlock.

I could have tried to be analytical and viewed Multiple Maniacs through a rational lens, but where’s the fun in that? It’s a film that reminds me of why I love trash and all that comes to it. It may be disgusting and there may be a stench that still lingers, but you can’t forget it. You can look away, but that stench follows you and in the case of this film, there’s a memorability to it that made me consider it to be a masterpiece. It’s the film that I know can make someone squirm and cover their mouth in horror, yet it’s also deeply funny, especially when Divine is involved.

Speaking of Divine, this is the film’s crowning achievement. The character of Lady Divine is a delight to view on screen, especially when she’s interacting with the rest of the cast. She faces horrifying ordeals that inform Waters’ brand of trashy filmmaking, yet she also plays a role in some of the film’s most schlocky moments. Scenes that might play out differently in another film have a stench to them, which can be attributed to Waters’ style, but Divine is the person who gives them an identity. There’s a clear presence to the character that I appreciated.

So, in busting the gates of transgressive filmmaking and John Waters, is Multiple Maniacs a good introduction? Yes, but not in the conventional sense; it is a disgusting introduction that is horrifying and funny, yet one can’t help but look away. Some may claim that this is a pathetic excuse for a film and that it’s the sick fantasy of a warped man and his friends. But I think differently.

I call it cinema in the artistic meaning of the word that is used by cinephiles. And if one were to say that I have bad taste in film, then I will own it.

Categories
Film

GateBuster: The Wicker Man (2006)

Watching a film is a lot like listening to someone tell you about their dream. Often, it is uninteresting, and even when it has that spark there is nonsense, plot holes, and things that make less sense than people think they should. Some argue that films don’t need to make complete sense and that impossible things can happen even when a plot is grounded in reality, that this is what makes films special. All these people are missing the point. 

The vast majority of people believe that the world we live in makes sense. That there is cause and effect. That everything can be explained logically. Over many years of research and traveling, humanity’s past has proven that this simply isn’t the case. There is more going on than we realize. 

There’s the age-old adage of “Show, don’t tell.” and unfortunately when it comes to entities and events that are beyond our mortal understanding, this isn’t always possible. The Wicker Man believes in this adage. Nicolas Cage is a cop, so in the film’s introduction, we see him riding on his motorcycle doing traditional police activities such as eating at a diner, ticketing abandoned cars, and making traffic stops. Cage’s character Edward Malus does not believe in this adage. Malus makes no attempt to show everyone that he is a police officer; instead of conducting his investigation in a manner you’d expect he decides to just shout a lot and barge his way into places he has no jurisdiction over. 

 Nicolas Cage Attempts to Intimidate Children

After his standard police activities, Malus returns a doll to a girl who has thrown it out of a moving car, but while he is doing so the car is impacted head-on by a large truck and becomes engulfed in flames. Malus attempts to save the girl and her mother but ultimately fails. The car explodes and Malus is thrown onto the ground before the title card is shown. While the explosion seems wholly unnecessary at first, other than serving as a convenient excuse for Malus to take some time off work, eagle-eyed viewers will pay attention to the occupants of the car and the doll. 

While recovering, Malus receives an unstamped letter from his ex-wife; a child is missing and he’s the only person she trusts. Malus makes his way to her, bribing a seaplane pilot to get onto Summers Isle, and we’re thrown into an unusual investigation. Through my travels, I’ve been to many places like Summer’s Isle and can say that visiting them is absolutely a bad idea, but unlike the film’s protagonist, I’m not allergic to bees, or in fact anything you’d find in this world.

I was recently due to go on an archaeological dig in Bournemouth, but the night prior a fever came over me and my sleep was greatly disturbed. I had a horrible nightmare and woke up covered in sweat, after falling back asleep it would repeat, continuing until dawn. In the nightmare I wake up late, I’ve missed my flight and I’m feeling queasy. I stumble towards my bedroom door. The place that greets me is not my hallway but a car park, and at its end, a building with a blue light beckons to me. I feel a force pulling me towards it, but before I reach the door I wake up. 

I once visited an island that was occupied by storm worshipers that couldn’t be reached by traditional means. After reading an ancient newspaper article about how they caused shipping disasters, I found myself there in my sleep. I dreamt of waves and of long blue robes, then to my surprise, the next morning I awoke in their church. Needless to say, this experience meant that when I came across the GateBuster from my dream I was not at all phased. If this was an intimidation tactic, it failed. 

“Welcome, Professor Mathers. You have come of your own free will to keep this appointment with the GateBuster. And now the game is over, the game of the hunter leading the hunted. You came to find our blue light but it is we who have found you, just as we intended to do.

The dream was from all of us here. Your invitation to review, one might say. You see, you were the man we needed and we were determined to get you here.”

These were the words of the lone staff member standing outside the door, at the very least I could appreciate the theatrics so played along. After exploring the store it became apparent that the only videotapes were inside a cardboard box on the counter. There was a list of various films but the box contained 25 copies of the same film: The Wicker Man. 

I took a tape as well as a review card from the employee as I left. This was the moment that I sealed my own fate. Even now I can hear my own tape coming to its end. My only hope is to finish this review and hope the staff is kind enough to rewind.

From the explosion in the introduction to the choice of words used by the women of the island, the film set’s its trap well. Malus turns out to be the father of the child, the island’s men won’t speak, and everything has been an elaborate ruse to get him to burn to death in the Wicker Man. He is to be sacrificed so the harvest does well. As far as human sacrifices go this is nothing to write home about, but it is enjoyable to watch Cage scream about bees.

For a film with such a large reputation, Cage’s performance isn’t particularly exciting and neither are those of his co-stars. While an interesting premise can make a film great, it cannot do so if the actors put in minimal effort. I would rate the performance given by the GateBuster employee who mirrored the film’s script more highly than I would rate the film itself.

Categories
Film

GateBuster: The Stuff

How ridiculous does a movie about evil ice cream sound? I know horror movies in the 80s had some wacky villains, but evil ice cream? Really? 

[HELP!] 

How do you even think of that? I’ve been working in an ice cream shop for at least four years and I have never thought of evil ice cream. 

[HELP! THIS ISN’T ME!] 

The idea of a movie about evil ice cream it’s just ridiculous. Completely absurd!

[HELP! THAT’S THE EVIL ICE CREAM TALKING! NOT ME!]

The movie is all about this ragtag group of vandals trying to prove that ice cream and consumerism is bad. Honestly, how ridiculous is that?

[The movie is actually a pretty good satire about the uncontrolled wave of consumerism that struck America during the Reagan era, touching on themes like the exploitation of Earth’s natural resources and the complexities and evils of the corporate world. Also PLEASE HELP! I’M BEING POSSESSED BY A DAIRY PRODUCT!]

The two protagonists are also pretty absurd and annoying. I mean an ex FBI agent who is now a corporate saboteur and a kid that sometimes eats shaving cream, who thought these would be good characters?!?

[The evil ice cream has a point; the kid is pretty annoying, but him eating shaving cream is completely justified and also pretty funny. Also, I don’t want to sound repetitive but PLEASE, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, HELP ME! I HAVE BEEN POSSESSED BY EVIL ICE CREAM!]

This guy and the kid join forces with a lady who is apparently pretty good at marketing, a man who has been fired from his own business, and a crazy military guy who is a conspiracy nut and somehow has an entire army at his disposal. Basically, a ridiculous cast of characters. 

[To be fair, the nefarious popsicle is right. This is a really absurd group, but that is one of the best aspects of the movie and one of the reasons this movie is so fun to watch. By the way, not that you care, but the white stuff that has been taking possession of me is now liquefying all my organs and it’s really REALLY painful!]

Beyond how ridiculous the plot and the characters are, this movie is a complete disaster. The acting is bad, the script is a mess, the visual effects go from decent to terrible, and the fake ads that are sprinkled throughout are extremely annoying. This movie is trying really hard to be a horror movie, but instead it is clearly a bad comedy. I promise you this is not worth your time.

[OKAY, FUCK THIS DEPRAVED GELATO! Please don’t listen to him, this movie is actually the most fun I have had in a while. Yes, the acting may be a little awkward, and there might be some sappy dialogues, but the thing is: this was never supposed to be a serious horror movie. It clearly wants to be a horror comedy, and it nails that feel! The satire is on point (especially with the ads), the practical effects are amazing, and the ending is the best ending in the history of cinema. So please go wat.. oh my god… oh no no no no…. oh my fucking god… please don´t… it has reached my brain… oh fuck… this is so painfull… please help… HELP!… please… help me… … … … AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!]

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed this small review of The Stuff. And remember don’t stop buying ice cream, like never stop, keep buying, forever, and ever, and ever… or else. 

[…]

Rodrigo Arellano

Categories
Film

GateBuster: The People Under the Stairs

Content warning: the film this concerns contains gore, violence done to children, violence done to animals, and the implicit threat of sexual violence. 

There is an aisle lined with images that used to frighten you. 

In the center is a sky, and a house, and a skull.

The moment you read this, I become a voice.

***

Maybe you remember your local rental. Maybe you aren’t old enough; maybe you only remember things after a corporation absorbed them all, or drove them out of business. Or maybe you grew up after they died. If you can remember the aisles, if you were a child back then, think about what it felt like to walk away from your parents and wander. If you are too young, still, just try to picture it. Put yourself in the role of the young millennial. There’s a wall of new releases on your left. There’s comedies, and kids movies, and even a sparse selection of cartoons from Japan. And then there’s the aisle in the back, the one that scares you.

***

My family owned a house, once. They were going to build another, and a third, and then even when the children grew up we could all still be together. 

For twelve years, my mother planted things on the hill next to the house, hoping to eventually find something that would grow.

And my father continued to fill potholes in the driveway, but it would never stop sinking, never settled to the point where it might be paved.

They might have succeeded eventually.

***

But there’s an aisle in your memory, or in your imagination, and at its center is a tape with a sky, and a house, and a skull, and I want you to pick the tape up. 

***

Wes Craven is a name that probably sounds familiar to you, even if you can’t place it right away. And if you can place it, you know it’s all over that aisle. He’s responsible for at least two franchises: A Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream. You know their antagonists; you’ve seen Freddy and Ghostface. They’re on t-shirts. They have action figures. They’re like Jason, or Chucky, or Jigsaw; if you’ve never seen a slasher movie, you can probably still pick them out of a lineup.

But the thing is, these aren’t just franchises with surreal and metafictional gimmicks. They’re both series with an actual point of view: the society of white, middle-class suburbia that has come into being is dangerous. Mom & Pop might try to keep their community safe and unleash something monstrous. Their bored and malevolent children might torture you for fun. And dreams and fictions, movies themselves, might not be real escapes. They might be part of the trap. They might contribute to the rot. 

***

The tape is called The People Under the Stairs. Don’t walk away from it. Pick it up. Take it to the counter. In this version of events it doesn’t matter if your mother gets it for you, or if the teenager behind the counter just doesn’t care enough about his job to deny you its rental. What’s important is that you take it home, and you wait until your family is asleep, sneak down to the TV room, turn down the volume, load the film into the VHS player, and push play. And watch it all. And think about what you see. And think about the world.

***

The People Under the Stairs is Home Alone as directed by Guillermo Del Toro after reading both volumes of Capital.

The People Under the Stairs is the story of modern America as told through a dark fairy tale and the major arcana of the tarot.

The People Under the Stairs is a haunted house movie where the ghosts are landlords who have made us all into the monsters lurking in the dark.

***

Practitioners of Chaos Magic create sigils that represent the things they desire to come to pass, and they charge those sigils with some kind of emotional ecstasy or agony, and they sometimes even work to create hypersigils, sigils that exist not only in space but in time, and thus are often expressed as a narrative. And they are charged with the audience’s orgasms, or maybe the sharp intake of breath as they react to a jump scare, or a death, or a revelation. And there’s a number of folks that, regardless of how you feel about magic and energy and whatever, that the art we admire has a real power over us. In a certain school of thought you can bring to an audience the grace of God through a startling picture. In another, the great factories of the Culture Industry churn out art that homogenizes the populace.

Art might make magic, or it might make a saint, or a revolutionary, or a willing victim of the state. 

Or it might be, according to a different school of thought, quite useless.  

***

The People Under the Stairs is a horror-comedy about late stage capitalism, but not about capitalism in the abstract; no, it’s a movie about the horrors of capitalism and gentrification, capitalism and the inner city, capitalism and the suburbs, capitalism and the nuclear family, capitalism and racism, capitalism and purity culture, and so on and so forth. It’s a movie that begins with a boy learning both that his mother is dying because she cannot afford treatment for her cancer and that his family is going to be evicted on the same day. The movie cuts from this scene to the incestuous, child-abusing, cop-wooing landlords, who are consuming flesh from a human corpse. 

***

And one of the oldest traditions concerning the usefulness of fiction comes to us from Aristotle. Tragedy provides a catharsis, a safe purging of the negative emotions associated with whatever is depicted in the fiction. But this poses a problem for those who think that art might be revolutionary. If your anger, your despair, your rage at the status quo is all worked out safely on screen, if you take your emotions and place them in the gaps between each of the 24 frames you see per second, what will you do when you leave the theater? Sleep peacefully, this train of thought imagines.

Does the anti-capitalist film perpetuate capitalism?

Sorry To Bother You made Comcast, the notorious Worst Company In America, millions of dollars. This is, of course, a very minor dollar amount as far as that company is concerned, but it remains a dollar amount.

***

The People Under the Stairs argues that capitalism is unsustainable, that the infinite growth required by the model will only lead to its own self-destruction, as the same people who carefully designed this prison, this haunted structure, show no regard for it; they allow flies and dust and human feces to pile up, they shoot through its walls, they load it with explosives.

The People Under the Stairs argues that resistance is possible as long as you remember that, regardless of what those with power over you would say, you are human, you have dignity, you have the capacity to love.

The People Under the Stairs argues that revolution can be imagined if we remember that we are in community, that we are not alone. 

***

And while I’m giving you information, we should talk about the Death Card in tarot, which signifies, above all other things, transformation and change.

***

The People Under the Stairs shows us the wealth of America as a dragon’s horde and a rat’s nest, a prize we may seize and a keg that might at any moment explode. 

***

And I occasionally walk around the neighborhood in the cool air of night, and sometimes I see the local fox, and suspect he has begun to follow me, or pace beside me in the brush. I worry, of course, about the neighbors I have now, and what they would think of a strange man and a fox in the dark.

***

The People Under the Stairs is so packed with ideas and images that it does not dwell on the Secret Chapel that appears in a single scene, in which Jesus and Ronald Reagan are placed in opposition to the portraits of the hundreds of children that these landlords have abducted or murdered. The chapel is just, in one scene, there. 

***

The Nine of Swords. The Page of Pentacles. The Nine of Staves. Judgement. Death. The Devil. The Fool.

A boy reading DuBois. His sister attending to his sick mother. A friend, a thief, not a good man, but a man who has chosen the right enemies. 

Another man, gnawing on flesh in a room that looks like a dungeon. A woman with an innocent child. Screams in the distance.

The masses of the lost and downtrodden. A plan. An honest-to-god treasure map

The innocent. A grotesque hand, uncut nails, emerging from a grate in the wall. A belt in the hands of someone who enjoys what he is about to do.

And more, so much more; the shifting stairs, the lockdown protocols, the bombing of Baghdad on an old tv, the lake of refuse, guard dogs and bayonetts, pens of the forgotten, dolls for ghosts and bowls for buckshot, a hunter in a gimp suit, candles and coins, chapels and armories, skeletons, dungeons, dynamite, a house, a skull, the sky. 

***

The People Under the Stairs is the kind of movie where a landlord gets punched in the dick. It is also the kind of movie that names its main character “Fool,” and tells you explicitly in the first lines of dialogue that yes, he is named for the Fool of the tarot, and that, as in the tarot, this is going to be a coming of age story, that this child will, through his confrontations with death and suffering, become an adult ready to face the world. Given everything else said above, then, it’s also a movie about how, in the modern age, one can only truly leave childhood behind when one is ready to die for liberation, when one is ready to plunge a knife into a capitalist’s guts.

***

And there used to be a picture of Jesus in the upper window of our house, and I haven’t driven past in some time, but a google car recorded it for their maps in 2020, and you can see the window stands empty, I think the whole house is empty, I think there’s nothing and no one there, just land and structure taken to be held, held like my funds, so would you please donate to my ko-fi, and while you’re here let’s talk about piracy, what you would and wouldn’t download, and the importance of Intellectual Property, all your favorite franchises, playing now at a theater near you once more, theaters with Disney Distribution deals that push out any movie not backed by a billion dollar budget, and let’s talk about the message that you must go, you simply must go, theaters are struggling, and it’s your duty to make sure they survive this pandemic, or else they’ll be yet another industry the millennials killed, so go today, and go all Summer, and keep going in the Fall, because yes, cases will certainly uptick, and variants will spread, and vaccines will become less effective, and we have no real plan for boosters yet, but think of the economy, won’t you, we can’t risk another quarantine, we’re told, so we’ll be keeping our theaters as open as our schools, now that those teachers unions lost, and they’re going to teach our masses of unvaccinated children, and listen, here’s the news with a special report on what your governor thinks you should be really concerned about, not death tolls, not extrajudicial murders, not children in Gaza, no, the governor wants to talk to you about CRT, he says it’s warping children’s minds, making them think America might be racist, and at no point does he define CRT, or trace exactly how it made its way, in his mind, from a complex area of legal study to grade school pedagogy, and at no point does he address how the parents who he has successfully made panic have begun to object to teaching major swathes of history in their entirety, have begun to label any mention of Ruby Bridges as an example of CRT, and at no point will he go over actual state curricula standards, nor review how Texas has an incredible influence on our nation’s textbooks, nor describe the revisionist conservative slant that results, and he will not speak of Henry Adams, who found no education, but I sat once where Henry Adams sat on the steps of Ara Coeli, and I thought of Henry Adams thinking of Edward Gibbons thinking of the fall of the Roman empire, and I can see from my bed a deck of tarot cards, which I never had as a child, which I was scared of as a child, because I read stories of demonic possession, and I can imagine an unseen army in the desert at night, silently moving towards us, bayonets at the ready, ready to drain our blood to slake the thirst of Moloch, and I see the blood turn to rivers, and even now I am shocked that death had undone so many, which of course reminds me, I saw Cats in theaters, the 2.0 version, I think, the update that had been rushed to theaters with a CGI patch, so that we might only witness the finest in digital fur technology, and I saw Cats immediately before I saw Little Women, a strange double feature, and particularly strange because I saw them on Christmas, after I had seen my sister, and my father, and his wife, and my mother, and her husband, not knowing how strange Christmas would be just a year later, and I still dream sometimes of the house my family built and lost, I dream that I’m still there, two floors above a concrete foundation where we buried various holy objects we had acquired, objects that would ensure our peace and prosperity. We completed the ritual according to all specifications, but something else soon inhabited our home. Now it dreams there alone.

***

You’ve put the tape into the player, remember, and begun to watch. Think about the movie. Think about the world. Shudder from the terror and rejoice in the triumph.

***

Who is your narrator this evening? Who am I?

The moment you read this, I become a voice.

Where is that voice? Where do you imagine it?

Am I in your head? Am I contained? Is this voice one you’re imagining, creating, or is it from outside of you? Did you give me my tone, my timbre?

Picture a woman slowly walking towards the girl she raised. Picture a glinting knife..

Picture a torso hung for the butchering. Bones scattered on the floor. Viscera smeared on a mouth.

Where is the knife? Where is the blood?

I am a voice in your head, but I’m also text on a screen. I’m in the signal beaming to your cell phone or from your router. I’m being broadcast through your air. 

I am being broadcast through your walls.

And even if I’m dead by the time you read this, as long as coal-powered turbines continue to turn, as long as the electric grid holds fast, as long as you pay your bills, the servers keep running, satellites continue to orbit and oceanic cables go unperturbed by the things in the deep, as long as all these things go on, the voice remains.

***

So watch it again, and again, until you notice that the sun is up, and you’re in danger of your mother realizing that you’ve stayed up the night again. Remember to rewind the tape; it’s common courtesy. Go to school and drift through algebra, or King Lear, or whatever it was you were learning that year, some time after the local rentals had been killed, some time before the rise of the stream. Look around you, at the school, and the hierarchies. Drop off the tape on the way home. Look out the window as you pass businesses, restaurants, office buildings; look at your home and those around it. Then go inside. Turn on the news. Pay attention.

Is anything different now?

Does anything diverge in the years ahead of you?

So many people remember a horror movie, seen far too young, as a formative experience. But what if this was your formative experience? What if you had the hilariously and horrifyingly grotesque structures of everything around you presented so strikingly, in shadows and blood? Would you learn anything from it? Would you remember? Would you be prepared for all that would follow? Would have some hermeneutic key for the wars, recessions, and bankruptcies? For your own failures, dead ends, and mountains of debt? Would you see the evil? Would you still end up like this?

Of course we can’t know. We can guess where you’d be; but in the end it’s just a movie. You can watch it now if you’d like. I think you’d enjoy it.

And who knows; if you watch it now, maybe you’d take something away from it. Maybe you’d end the stream and look to your stairs to see who has been imprisoned under them. Or maybe you’d look to the walls, and start to think of a way out. Or maybe, your anxieties purged, you’d just settle down again, and sleep without worry for another night.

Maybe the Fool will step off the cliff. Maybe the Fool will turn towards the Sun.

Categories
Film

GateBuster: Attack of the Killer Tomatoes

There was a timeline where I would have held great pride in destroying the existence of a film as pointless as Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. And yet here I reside once more in the timeline that I originated in and is all that you have ever known. The film has led me to undo my conquest of the world as well as the Top 40 charts. I who once sat in the seat of power have been brought low by this meaningless film as the mighty Tripods were undone by germs in the classic novel and film adaptations of The War of Worlds. I was not always this tired 50 year old film store employee, working 3 jobs to provide myself the benefits needed for survival in this capitalist nightmare.

I was once Chroniculus Von Rocksmore and I had fled our own standard timeline seeking a two fold tactic for global domination. 

First, I had stolen a large number of hit songs from this timeline and I had released them to build myself a large coffer and an incredibly devoted fanbase. They were fascinated by songs like Wrecking Ball, Zombie, and Because I Got High

Secondly, I used this wealth to indoctrinate my fans before I equipped them with weaponry purchased using my funds. In a matter of years, we overtook the world where I sat as ruler. Under my iron fist nobody went hungry or without healthcare, personal identity freedoms were legalized, and many millionaires and billionaires were crushed under the threshing maws as revenge for their greed. 

And before you raise concerns, I was making the same amount of money as all others and lived in a reasonable ranch home on my equally allotted plot of land. Yes, some called me a tyrannical despot with a voice of an angel and more oblique secrets than a lost civilization but in my defense, I released Who Let The Dogs Out and You’re So Vain in the same week and many questions about the mysteries of my origins arose. 

But the film Attack of the Killer Tomatoes destroyed my desire to rule the world through time theft. You see, the only way I can account for such a slapdash use of jokes and half jokes smothered in sexism, racism, and just a pinch of homophobia is that these jokes were stolen from elsewhere in the timeline and were ineptly put together by the team behind the film. Even the core plot has direct parallels to Mars Attacks, a film released decades later, down to a singer with a strange voice being the key to destroying the enemy, and I assure you dear renter, Puberty Love has nothing on Indian Love Call 1952 by Slim Whitman. If these jokes and others weren’t stolen from across time and then re entered here, then I suppose this is simply the work of inept film creators trying to parody B-movies by inadvertently releasing a C-movie. Their main character is named Mason Dixon with nothing beyond the reference to the Mason-Dixon Line. It informs nothing. Their only female character is named Lois for a cheap Superman reference that leads nowhere – and she exists solely to be referred to as an object for every sexist tendency imaginable – and then to be a love interest. 

This is a film so bad I realized that I could no longer exist in a seat of power gained through time crimes if similar time crimes led to a film as bad as this existing. Watching and seeing your dreams crumble before your eyes and think of the impossibility that was lost of Chroniculus Von Rocksmore.

Categories
Film

GateBuster: The Blob (1988)

I knew I shouldn’t have rented this movie. I told myself, “Don’t do it. It’s only going to make you mad, Aloysius.” That’s my name, you know. Aloysius. Not “the Blob.” Not “that malignant alien goo” or whatever they call me. Aloysius. 

Did you know that those jerks Frank Darabont and Chuck Russell didn’t even approach me for my side of the story? I haven’t seen a single royalty from that damn movie. That’s one reason I didn’t pay for the rental. I don’t want them to profit off my life any more than they already have. So I just digested the video store clerk instead. 

Anyway. “Aloysius,” I said to myself, “this movie is only going to piss you off, and then those people who are already brainwashed by Hollywood into thinking you’re this mindless carnivorous slime mold are going to look at you in all your quivering pissed-off glory and say, ‘See? We told you it was a monster.’” My curiosity got the better of me, though. It’s insatiable. At least they got that much right. 

So I finally sat down to watch the movie…well, “sat down.” They actually nailed my physiology, so you probably know that I don’t sit or walk or do whatever weird things you humans do. But I arranged my slimy pink mass into a comfortable position and then watched The Blob. And honestly? It wasn’t as bad as I was expecting! They actually kept a lot of my most heroic moments in the movie!

You might be asking yourself right about now how I qualify as a hero. Well, let me break it down for you: 

The guy who kept talking through slasher classic Garden Tool Massacre? I digested him.

Deputy Briggs, who enjoys threatening minors and mocking them for not knowing their fathers? Digested him, too. 

Scott Jeskey, who was clearly a serial date rapist? Digested the hell out of him, with an extra dose of gooey comeuppance for being such a terrible person. You’re welcome, movie fans. 

Now, did I also digest some perfectly decent people? Sure. That Paul kid seemed nice enough. And Fran the waitress was a sweet lady, as humans go. But I was probably doing them a favor. What kind of a town has a football field right next to a cemetery? I’ll tell you what kind: a town where your only two options are to live out your high school glory days and then die. Fran was doomed to a life of dating that busybody sheriff, and Paul had probably already hit his prime. They’re better off becoming one with my acidic juices than limping along until the end of their long, boring lives. 

And okay, yes, fine, let’s talk about the elephant in the room. I killed a kid. Okay? Big deal. You’ve gotta remember: I only did what I was created to do. That’s another thing the movie gets right. I’m not some evil alien goop that flew in from Pluto, you know. The United States government created me as a weapon. You want to know why I’m aggressive and invasive and prone to eating people rather than trying to communicate with them? Because of you, alright? I learned it by watching you!

Speaking of communicating…that was pretty damn rude to have the captions label all of my monologues as “slimy gurgling.” They’re really showing their ignorance there. Just because you don’t understand a language doesn’t mean it’s unintelligible. They really missed out on some prime character development, too. I truly found myself that summer while I digested my way through that small town, but did Darabont and Russell care? Of course not. They wanted less of my hero’s journey and more of Kevin Dillon’s mullet. 

Still, as insulting as The Blob is — I mean, what is with that title? Was The Big Ugly Monster That Everyone Hates too long? — it does get a lot of my story right. It puts the blame where it actually belongs, and you and I both know it ain’t with me. Plus it does make me look like the badass that I am. I mean, admit it. That phone booth kill is pretty sweet. It’s okay, you can tell me you loved it. I’m not here to judge.

I’m here to digest. 

Categories
Film

GateBuster: Evil Dead 2

On March 13, 2019, exactly 32 years after Evil Dead 2 was released in theatres, director Edgar Wright tweeted this about the film, “Your favourite film of all time is completely subjective. The best film of all time is objectively Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn”. Evil Dead 2 was written by Sam Raimi and Scott Spiegel and directed by Raimi.  

I recently revisited the film after finding a copy of it abandoned in a parking lot, and Edgar Wright is correct. I hadn’t watched Evil Dead 2 in over 10 years, but the experience of watching this film was delightful once I was able to actually sit and enjoy it. The copy of the film I found kept disappearing from the entertainment center where I left it near the tv and I’d find it in a kitchen cabinet or under my pillow. From the time I brought the movie into my home, my 4-year-old daughter began exhibiting strange behavior. She would growl and try to bite me or I’d find her awake in the middle of the night standing in her room holding a copy of the film and I’d hear a strange, guttural voice whisper, “Did you watch it?”. I’m sure these things are not related. Just in case, I’ve now watched the movie so things should return to normal. Well, as normal as things can get when dealing with a movie possibly possessed by demons.

Evil Dead 2 tells the story of Ash Williams (played by Bruce Campbell) and his girlfriend Linda. Ash and Linda take a vacation to a cabin in the woods and play a recording of archaeologist Raymond Knowby translating the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis, the Book of the Dead. This unleashes a powerful demonic force that turns Linda into a Deadite, forcing Ash to kill her. As Ash continues to battle the demonic forces unleashed into the nearby woods, Knowby’s daughter Annie, her friend Ed, and locals Jake and Bobby Joe show up at the cabin. Spoiler Alert: Things do not go well. 

The first half hour of the film is basically a retelling of The Evil Dead, using only Ash and Linda rather than all 5 characters that appear in that film. This was due to Raimi and Campbell having sold the rights to The Evil Dead, which prevented them from using any footage from it to recap the events of the film. The Evil Dead ends on a cliffhanger with everyone but Ash dead and the demonic entity possessing Ash. Evil Dead 2 contains a similar scene and the remainder of the film functions as a sequel. 

  The story surrounding the making of Evil Dead 2 is almost as good as the movie itself. When Raimi was having trouble getting the necessary funding for the film, after the critical and financial failure of Crimewave, Stephen King, a big fan of the original film, who at the time was making Maximum Overdrive with producer Dino De Laurentiis, convinced De Laurentiis to finance Evil Dead 2. However, De Laurentiis insisted that the plot of Evil Dead 2 be similar to The Evil Dead. Raimi’s idea to have Ash time travel to the Middle Ages would have to wait for Army of Darkness.  

Evil Dead 2 has the perfect mix of horror and slapstick comedy, a mash-up of The Evil Dead and The Three Stooges. The low-budget practical effects are astounding: from Linda’s headless corpse attacking Ash with a chainsaw to the blood gushing out of the walls soaking Ash to the scene where everything in the room begins laughing at Ash until he succumbs to the madness too. The physicality of Campbell’s performance is unique, with the fearlessness of Buster Keaton and the swagger of Harrison Ford. The scene in which Ash’s hand becomes corrupted and he has to fight it, punching himself, smashing plates over his head, dragging his unconscious body across the floor until he eventually cuts it off, is one of the best fight scenes in modern cinema. It is second only to episode 19 of Season 5 of Three’s Company in which Jack Tripper has to fight himself as his own twin brother Austin. Jack Tripper walked so Ash Williams could run. I will forever be confused as to why Campbell didn’t win an Oscar. I was shocked to find out he wasn’t even nominated. What’s so great about Michael Douglas in Wall Street anyway? I mean, look at him. LOOK. AT. HIM. 

It’s not just that I agree with Edgar Wright that Evil Dead 2 is objectively the best film of all time, but it has held a special place in my heart since 2009 when I directed the Delaware Regional Premier of Evil Dead: The Musical for Bootless Stageworks’ 2009-2010 season. If you haven’t seen it or aren’t familiar with the musical, I highly recommend you get the original cast recording or, even better, seek out a production as live theatre returns. Essentially, the first act of the musical covers the events of The Evil Dead and the second act covers Evil Dead 2. The ending of the musical was reworked for the 2006 production and the song “Blew That Bitch Away” more closely resembles the ending to Army of Darkness.  

Alright, well watching Evil Dead 2 didn’t seem to work. The kids are hiding in the room with me as I type this and the pounding on the walls keeps getting louder. I keep trying to tell them it’s just the wind, but I’m pretty sure they don’t believe me anymore, at least not since their mother started floating in the middle of the room screaming, “We are the things that were and shall be again!” Time to grab my sawed-off shotgun and strap on my chainsaw hand. This could get messy. Groovy.