February 6, 2020

LITTLE COREY GOREY

Situated comfortably between DON’T GO IN THE HOUSE and DON’T TELL MOM THE BABYSITTER’S DEAD, Bill Morroni’s 1993 horror/comedy LITTLE COREY GOREY is an experience that vacillates wildly between barely watchable and barely-able-to-contain-your-giggles. It’s a weird little film, one that could only be made on a budget that barely exists. Had it been more professionally made, it probably would have come off as crass and mean spirited, maybe even a bit too tryhard for its own good. But with non-professional actors saying their non-professionally written dialogue in a non-professionally executed slapdash flick, LITTLE COREY GOREY actually manages to attain the kind of black humored, B-movie charm it desperately wants to own.

Well, most of the time anyway…

It begins rather annoyingly enough with the titular Corey Gorey being pushed around by his alcoholic, abusive stepmother and his age improbable racist stepbrother. When Corey can’t find his stepmother’s television remote, he’s tied up and hanged from a curtain rod in the living room. He shows up at school the next day black and blue from the abuse. As he waits for his homeroom assignment, he meets problem child Jackie, an attractive brunette with a personality as nice as broken glass. But being an imbalanced ball of hormones, Corey is instantly smitten.

Noticing an Ozzy Osbourne poster in her locker, Corey buys two tickets to an Ozzy concert, stealthily hiding one inside Jackie’s bedroom (and stealing a pair of her underwear while he’s at it). When the big night comes, Corey is heartbroken to find his ticket missing. Turns out his stepbrother Biff lifted both the ticket AND Jackie’s skirt, a double decker of a dick move. Having had enough, Corey attacks Biff, and one head first dive through a glass shower door later, Biff is no longer breathing. Fearing the wrath of his stepmother more than the police, Corey ties her up on the sofa and chops Biff up into itty bitty pieces.

And this is where things start to get out of hand.

Corey accidentally murders a nosy mail lady and runs afoul of Biff’s drug dealer. Corey’s only 'good fortune' comes when Jackie pays an unannounced visit to the house looking for Biff and his stash of cocaine. Smelling an easy meal, Jackie systematically begins taking advantage of dumb, horny Corey, even moving in. Not that Corey minds much, waiting on her hand and foot until Jackie inevitably screws him over. 

And this is where things start to get REALLY out of hand.

Simply put, this is probably not a movie for the more logically minded viewer. It is absurdity piled on top of absurdity, spiraling so far down the rabbit hole of weirdness that it barely registers as odd when Corey feeds his stepmother a hamburger made from a dead woman’s arm. To Morroni’s credit, he knows absolutely no one would ever take this movie seriously so he doesn’t even try to build characters in a reasonable manner. It isn’t that Corey is a bad person or even a good person, it’s that he’s trapped in a movie universe teetering on the edge of chaos. So when Corey does despicable things as a result of his own terrible luck, the film never steps back and asks us to contemplate a damn thing. We just have to accept the brute force fact that Corey isn’t just unlucky, he’s pathologically stupid and every decision he makes will do nothing but push the film further down the IQ ladder.

And that movie universe Corey is trapped in? Well, it includes an escaped mass murderer killing his way across the state, a similarly abused neighbor girl who in any other movie would be a moral counterpoint to all the nasty shit going on in the Gorey house, and a gaggle of teens all too willing to ignore a tied up alcoholic on a couch during a house party.

Is any of this “realistic”? Nope. Not a damn thing about this movie is realistic and therein lies most of the charm. Because this isn’t a serious minded black comedy or a go-for-the-throat horror film. It’s just a joke, a steady cackling of barely intelligible syllables pouring out of the mouth of someone who has no issue with drinking in public. Will you laugh? Maybe. Will you cringe at the near constant racist shit that comes pouring out of people’s mouths? Probably. Will you get anything substantial out of it? Definitely not. But then again, you won’t have to put anything into it either.

In summary, LITTLE COREY GOREY is equal parts humorous and tedious, like a standard 80s teen comedy crossbred with absurdist horror flicks like MICROWAVE MASSACRE. Does that sound like a fun time to you? If so, dive right in. For me, I enjoyed the film for what it was knowing full well it will never be anything other than that. It’s amateurish, sure, but that’s part of the charm. There are far, far worse early 90s attempts at black humor coated horror schlock, but I will say… your mileage may vary. And by 'vary', I mean, you might never forgive me for this recommendation.

January 17, 2020

SCHIZOPHRENIAC: THE WHORE MANGLER

With a title like SCHIZOPHRENIAC: THE WHORE MANGLER, you would probably expect something shocking - electrifying even - like sticking a fork in a wall socket. What you definitely wouldn’t expect is for the opening X-rated warning card (a self imposed X-rating, no doubt) to give way to a lovely message dedicating the film to the director’s deceased father. If that wasn’t off-putting enough, the film then transitions from this heartfelt “we’ll miss you” in memoriam to an extended shower scene featuring not just full frontal female nudity, but lingering close-up shots of the woman’s crotch.

Now, I’m not entirely sure if this is the kind of film you would want associated with your name after your death, but I’m not exactly normal so… who am I to say? Maybe the late Harold Atkins would have been pleased as punch to see his name attached to a film which gives us gratuitous nudity, unsimulated masturbation, strangulation and necrophilia all within the first six minutes. Who knows? Not me, that’s for damn sure.

What I DO know is that I should not be referring to SCHIZOPHRENIAC: THE WHORE MANGLER as a “film”. What it really is is an 85 minute, shot on video migraine, complete with every in-camera visual effect the finest camcorders of 1997 could offer. It's a simple story of a low budget filmmaker/coke fiend named Harry that hits all the requisite “maniac on the loose” notes. Parental abuse? Check. Mother who dressed her son up in women’s clothing as punishment? Check. Frequent (and I mean FREQUENT) outbursts of misogynistic claptrap replete with constant f-bombs? Check. Incessant, droning music meant to hide the ever present whine of videotape noise on the soundtrack? Check.

But truth be told, although this is in fact a movie about a homicidal misogynist (among other things) raping and murdering women, I’m not sure SCHIZOPHRENIAC: THE WHORE MANGLER is actually trying to be a horror film or even a thriller. It might just be a very poorly calculated black comedy. After all, lead actor John Giancaspro is in full hyperbolic ham mode throughout the entire film, barking out his dialogue and occasionally even breaking the fourth wall for a cringe worthy in-joke. It’s not so much a performance as it is a rampage, carried out with all the grace and care of a back alley abortion.

Harry can’t sit still, bouncing his way through every scene. His profanity laced dialogue reminds me of a child who just discovered four letter words. When we’re introduced to Harry, it’s at the kitchen table as he pounds away on a typewriter, snorting off a mountain of coke while an ESCAPE FROM LA poster hangs in the background. He dances around naked to Bee Gees songs, dick flapping in the wind, and has conversations with his best friend, a ventriloquist dummy he calls Rubberneck. This is not a character that inspires fear or concern, just bewilderment.

Oh and Harry never shuts up, by the way, screaming and cursing through every single scene of the film. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, director Ron Atkins directs this whole mess with the subtlety of an atom bomb. Constant fast edits, long strings of unnecessary close-ups, quick flashes of Camcorder assisted color inversions or negatives… It’s just a non-stop barrage of screaming and editing and yelling and in-camera fuckery that doesn’t add up to anything but a nose bleed.

I suppose this was an exercise in purposeful offense making, like Atkins and Co. thought they were making some kind of outrage piece, a real outrĂ© slice of low budget filmmaking that would test the will of the audience, hence all the homophobia, racism, sexism, castrations, shootings and nipple slicing. But SALO, this is not. Hell, it barely rises to the level of AMATEUR PORN STAR KILLER, another grossly self indulgent movie made by a filmmaker who should have known better. It’s difficult to be offended when the film is all but mocking itself. This isn't a thriller. It's a bad joke told loudly.

It is remarkably difficult to recommend anyone seek this hunk of shit out for a quick and dirty watch. The fact that the film has a sequel is probably the most interesting and frightening thing about it. It is simply way too long and way too obnoxious to be anything but a waste of time, a routine story told better by a thousand other movies. There’s no reason to watch it or even acknowledge its existence. Far from being entertaining or outrage worthy, it’s just an overlong, dull slog of a film. It’s painful and unpleasant so… I guess in some ways it actually IS like sticking a fork in a wall socket.

January 27, 2019

GUZOO: THE THING FORSAKEN BY GOD - PART 1

The titular monstrosity at the heart of GUZOO: THE THING FORSAKEN BY GOD – PART 1 is a primordial, amorphous blob of tentacles and teeth capable of adopting the physical appearance of any organism it comes across. In other words, it’s The Thing of JOHN CARPENTER’S THE THING. But unlike THAT Thing, this Thing never adopts the appearance of anything. It just lounges around the basement of a hot springs resort in some scenic corner of Japan, waiting for people to munch on.

Thankfully, it won’t have to wait much longer as there just so happens to be a quartet of bubbly teen girls on their way to the resort right now.

At least I think it’s a resort. It has unoccupied rooms like a resort. It has a swimming pool like a resort. There’s even a manager/chef named Tomoko. But something doesn’t quite add up. One of the teen girls, Minako, is the daughter of a professor who happens to work at the building. The manager/chef is his right hand woman, an archeologist who is all too aware that there is a monstrosity lurking in the basement. They're even carrying out tests on the creature.

So why exactly are you taking in guests when there’s a bloodthirsty beast downstairs? And what kind of hot springs resort doubles as a science lab? Why are archeologists studying a biological organism and why is it a better idea to keep it behind a single wooden door than, I don't know, in some kind of actual containment facility? So many questions...

Minako has brought along some friends. There’s pushover Yuka, nosy ‘sleuth’ Kazuko and pouty Mayumi. Kazuko is the first to catch whiff of something suspicious. She wanders downstairs only to be told off by Tomoko. That area is off limits. Later, Kazuko spies her carrying a basket full of rotting meat into the basement. While the girls are out, Tomoko smashes the mirrors in the makeup compacts. Why? Well, as we see later on, the Thing in the basement can manifest out of mirrors.

So why is there a mirror hanging by the fridge in the kitchen? Seems like a massive safety oversight. 

None of the girls seem very intelligent. After one of the teens is bitten by something unseen in the swimming pool, Tomoko tells them that the injury was caused by (I shit you not) an invisible weasel. No one questions that at all. Later, Yuka is attacked and bitten by Guzoo in the kitchen (see? I told you the mirror was a safety hazard) but survives. Tomoko chalks it up to a wild animal attack. Again, no one questions a single absurd word that comes out of Tomoko’s mouth.

And then, just to underline the idiocy of these girls, the very next day, Yuka decides to go back into the kitchen and stand in front of the mirror again. This time, Guzoo drags the young girl through and rams a wiggly appendage down her throat. Yuka all but explodes into pieces, torn apart from inside out by a mass of writhing tentacles. After discovering their friend is missing, the girls finally grow a brain cell, tying up Tomoko and demanding she tell them the truth.

Cue more splattery gruesomeness.

I was on edge from the moment this little slice of mid-80s V-cinema started. It’s directed by Kazuo Komizu, the miscreant psychopath behind the notorious rape nasties ENTRAILS OF A VIRGIN and FEMALE INQUISITOR, the former featuring a scene of a woman having her internal organs pulled out of her vagina. GUZOO: THE THING FORSAKEN BY GOD – PART 1 (I have no idea if there ever was a Part 2) does start with an exposed thigh and a close-up of full, pouty lips. The teen protagonists strip down to bathing suits for a romp in the pool. But by the midway point of this 40 minute flick, not a single nipple had been exposed. I kept expecting it to go full blown sleazy. I half expected lesbian rape when the girls tied up Tomoko. I knew the monster in the basement had more tentacles than you could shake a stack of UROTSUKIDOJI OAVs at, but, to my GREAT surprise, none of those tentacles ever found their way inside... well, you know. 

So at the very least, GUZOO: THE THING FORSAKEN BY GOD – PART 1 is completely rape free. Thank god for small favors. It’s plenty gory though with a handful of really entertaining deaths, chief among them a gross disembowelment and a decapitation which results in great geyser of blood. The creature effects range from bad to slightly above bad. Wobbly tentacles on sticks and strings don’t really inspire fear, and Guzoo itself is just an ill-fitted rubber suit. However, the staging of the attacks are fairly impressive and I will admit to actually feeling a bit of claustrophobic anxiety during the final five or six minutes. All in all, I’ve seen a lot worse.

The film is a nitpicker’s dream though so if you have movie logic ADHD, stay far away from this one. The geography of the house makes no real world sense with hallways and staircases suddenly appearing out of thin air. Character motivations exist solely to push the story forward and the whole underlying premise beggars belief. But I don’t think those things matter much. This is, after all, just a throwaway bit of Japanese V-cinema, one which would have fit in well in shows like Tales from the Crypt or Masters of Horror. It’s short, sweet, dumb and gory, an overall pleasant well to kill an hour.